Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 09, 2016

The Wannabe Sultan Meets A Russian Airborne Division - What Is He Going To Do?

The Syrian campaign against the foreign supported terrorists continues with the help of Russia, Iran and other associated forces. This campaign is aimed at killing all terrorists and their associated forces as demanded by the United Nations Security Council resolution 2254.

[r]eiterates its call in resolution 2249 (2015) for Member States to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), Al-Nusra Front (ANF), and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al Qaeda or ISIL, and other terrorist groups, [...] and to eradicate the safe haven they have established

The U.S. for now seems to go along with that resolution and lets Syria and Russia do what they must. But there are others who are more invested in Syria than the Obama administration. The immediate aim of the Syrian forces is to close the border with Turkey and to liberate Aleppo city from the Jihadi insurgents. 6,000 additional soldiers from Iran have arrived to support that effort. A major campaign is planned to launch during next months. But the Saudis, Qataris, Turks and Israelis want to fight the Syrian government down to the last Syrian rebel and foreign mercenary. They will not give up the dreams and the very large investments they made to bring Syria down. The Syrian insurgent groups were just summoned to Ankara to receive new orders.

The Saudis made an insincere offer to send its own troops to fight in Syria. This is likely just a cover to incite others to invade the country. Turkey is the most likely candidate. Here a much read Turkish columnist, a feverish follower and mouthpiece of Erdogan, makes the crazy argument that the self defense of Turkey demands to attack Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies:

The war Tehran and Moscow are carrying out in this country is a war against Ankara. These two countries are actually directly fighting Turkey. There is no way to hide this any longer.
...
Turkey must directly intervene in the Syria issue. Military action included. If Iran and Russia are able to enter this country with such flimsy pretexts, if they are able to bomb even the zero point of our border, if they are exiling Syrian civilians to Turkey and attacking Turkey from Syria, then Turkey has far more reason and right than they.

Nobody would want an open war. Nobody would want a war between Russia and Iran and Turkey. They would not even wish this. But this time it is very serious. If a step is not taken today, we are going to have to fight under tougher conditions than today in the future. There is no such thing as the Syrian regime or Damascus administration anymore. The country is being re-designed and this situation is clearly threatening us, the way is directed at Turkey and we are expected to sit in silence and accept this! Which country can surrender to such a thing? There is threat, physical condition and legal reason to intervene.

Similar crazy words are written by Zionist propaganda clowns in major U.S. newspapers. A not yet existing siege of thousands of al-Qaeda/al-Nusra fighters and maybe some 40,000 civilians in insurgent held parts of Aleppo is used to demand a U.S. attack on Syrian and Russian forces. From the Washington Post:

Operating under a NATO umbrella, the United States could use its naval and air assets in the region to establish a no-fly zone from Aleppo to the Turkish border and make clear that it will prevent the continued bombardment of civilians and refugees by any party, including the Russians. It could use the no-fly zone to keep open the corridor with Turkey and use its assets to resupply the city and internally displaced people in the region with humanitarian assistance.

If the Russians and Syrians seek to prevent humanitarian protection and resupply of the city, they would face the military consequences.

A map published last Friday in the Italian 'La Repubblica' without further explanation shows a Turkish invasion of the northern part of Syria which is currently held by the Islamic State. Such an operation would allow the communication line between Turkey and the Islamic State to stay open. That line is endangered by Kurdish and Russian plans to attack the same area and to eliminate the ISIS presence there.

That communication line is important. Last year the U.S. intelligence community stated that there were some 20,000 foreign fighters with ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorists groups in Syria and Iraq. In a congressional testimony today (pdf) the director of national intelligence James Clapper put the current number at 38,000. Turkey claims it closed its border for foreign fighters going to Syria and Iraq. If so how did those additional 18,000 foreign Jihadis enter Syria and Iraq? Did they just drop from the sky?

Those ISIS fighters are unlikely to have come as airborne troops. Russian troops though would indeed fall from the sky should Turkey do something stupid.

Russia has already warned that it was observing Turkish preparation for an invasion. Yesterday it launched an alarm drill for the airborne troops and and military transport aviation of its southern command. The 56th Guards Air Assault Brigade in Kamyshin and the 7th Guards Airborne Division at Novorossiysk were put on alarm. Both units are elite and took part in the Chechen wars. Last year a Russian airborne air defense brigade also underwent alarm training. These force, plus additional air force assets, would likely be the Russian response to a Turkish invasion of Syria. They would fight on Syrian, not Turkish ground, and would beat any medium-size Turkish invasion force to pulp.

Erdogan is blackmailing the EU with the threat to send hundreds of thousands of refugees. I do not understand why the EU, and especially the German chancellor Merkel, allow such behavior. If the EU, or even Germany alone, would use the available economic thumbscrews on Turkey its economy would scream. A warning to German tourist to not go to Turkey because of the danger of terror attacks would cost Turkey billions per year in income. Credit warnings about over-leveraged Turkish banks could be made. Export credit lines could be shortened. Agricultural imports from Turkey could come under greater scrutiny. Within a year Turkey would lose at least 10% of its GDP. But EU and Merkel seem not to mind to be laughed at by the wannabe Ottoman sultan.

The U.S. just snubbed Turkey by declaring that it does not see the Syrian Kurdish YPG as a terrorist organization. Turkey summoned the U.S. ambassador over the issue.

Erdogan seems to be losing it. He is now the most incalculable factor in the further developments in Syria. But should he invade Syria he can not count on U.S. or NATO support. What is he going to do?

Posted by b on February 9, 2016 at 02:29 PM | Permalink

Comments
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After the shooting of the Russian plane, is it another trap for Erdogan?
Russia is 'trying to draw Turkey into a fight' in Syria, and it may be working

"The Turkish army is very conservative and risk averse," Jeff White, a defense analyst focusing on the security fairs of the Levant at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Business Insider in an email.

"So while willing to protect its borders, I doubt we will see any large scale operations in Syria — with one possible exception: unification of the Kurdish enclaves/Rojava."
....
Though it remains "highly unlikely" that Turkey will invade Syria, Magnier said that if it did, "Russia would celebrate."

Posted by: virgile | Feb 9, 2016 2:52:35 PM | 1

Russia will win in Syria but it definitely has lost turkey and that is a huge loss. When the Russian military plane was shot down by Turkish criminals, that single murderous act was all it took for Russia to lose an important potential ally to the terrorist West.
The west now sees that advantage that doesn't want to take too many steps against the Turkish insane psychopathic criminal leadership. Why would the west wreak that victory so soon after the win ?

Using Turkish bases, using them since they're the most willing to commit ground forces to invade Syria, the new loyal to the west dictatorship, A buffer against Russia... And so many more reasons to exploit and take advantage of the Turks power.

Posted by: tom | Feb 9, 2016 2:56:50 PM | 2

"I do not understand why the EU, and especially the German chancellor Merkel, allow such behavior."

Merkel wants us to believe that the EU is siding with the USA and Turkey against Russia. She goes to the extreme of expressing her 'outrage' against the Russian bombing in Syria while smily Davutoglu had tears in his eyes for his 'brothers' the Syrians.

In fact while cajoling Turkey, the EU in agreement with the USA are backstabbing Erdogan on essential issues. They continue to support militarily the YPG, they plan to invite the PYD in the Syria negotiations, they have officially accepted that Bashar Al Assad will not be toppled and they are condoning Russia's bombings of the militias Erdogan has been arming despite Erdogan still begging for a no-fly zone.

In addition all the promises the EU has given to Turkey can be cancelled anytime if Erdogan shows more inflexibility toward the Syrian negotiations.
I think the EU, the USA and Russia are exploiting Erdogan's paranoia and foolishness to push him a corner.

Posted by: virgile | Feb 9, 2016 3:20:09 PM | 3

But should he invade Syria he can not count on U.S. or NATO support.

I think some are assigning far too much independence to Erdogan. Just as with the shootdown of the Russian plane, he would not attempt an invasion without US support.

US State Dept. 5 days ago: "The United States joins NATO in standing in solidarity with Turkey."

The US is about to send $3.4 billion in weapons to the Russian border and Erdogan is the crazy one?

Posted by: Mark | Feb 9, 2016 3:25:03 PM | 4

A possible Turkish strategy --if there is a Turkish incursion north of Aleppo, a substantial number of the SAA would leave the encirclement action to confront the Turks and thereby allow the jihadis to re-supply or to escape the cauldron.

It must be borne in mind that if the Turks invade, Russia would go to the UNSC before involving itself in confronting the Turks and the Aleppo jihadis would certainly take advantage of the delay.

Posted by: chet380 | Feb 9, 2016 3:32:22 PM | 5

Great article.

Certainly seems like Erdogan is a loose cannon on deck--and the situation is looking increasingly unstable and ominous. Hope someone gets him under control asap.

Just can't understand why the US doesn't drop (or seriously downgrade) the nonsensical 'Assad-must-go' priority and work with Russia in helping Syrian forces regain control of it's territory and borders.

Please keep up the good work. Thanks.

Posted by: Dan Stewart | Feb 9, 2016 3:56:52 PM | 7

The Washington Post want a no fly zone, that has already been totally rejected by Obama because of the huge number of troops required, plus air cover etc. The WaPo seem to be advocating R2P which, for what its worth is also against International law since all 5 veto wielding powers need to endorse it. Not that that has stopped a coalition of the willing in the past. Who will make the first fatal move into 'Stalingrad'?

Posted by: harry law | Feb 9, 2016 3:58:54 PM | 8

thanks b... i really appreciate your coverage here..

İbrahim Karagül - who pays this guy for that crap?

i agree with @2 tom for a partial explanation for the support for turkey here, although merkel seems to be especially fond of her handlers - the 1% no doubt.. she seems bought and paid for by them and happy to bring on ww3..

@4 mark.. true enough, erdogan doesn't look so bad when comparing us weapon sales.. at what point does the west public wake up to the hypocrisy? they won't get any help from the lying msm..

ditto @5 chet last line observation..

Posted by: james | Feb 9, 2016 4:03:46 PM | 9

Does anyone know what happened to turkish interest rates letely ?

Posted by: Willy2 | Feb 9, 2016 4:07:00 PM | 10

ot - speaking of paid lackeys working for the msm - anne bernard - is mentioned on an ssr post today..

Posted by: james | Feb 9, 2016 4:26:07 PM | 11

Russia will win in Syria but it definitely has lost turkey and that is a huge loss. When the Russian military plane was shot down by Turkish criminals, that single murderous act was all it took for Russia to lose an important potential ally to the terrorist West.

Wrong on many levels. May Turks will be happy the day the AKP are wiped out. Fact is, AKP is now Turkey. They've hijacked all the state's intututions and imposed themselves on everyone.

The fools running the show in Ankara are conered and won't be surprised if they actually take Turkey to war in Syria in order to cover their mismanagent of the country.

The West is only tolerating the AKP because as things stands currently, there's nobody to replace them. They're the best idiots money can buy.

Posted by: Zico | Feb 9, 2016 4:26:49 PM | 12

@5 "It must be borne in mind that if the Turks invade, Russia would go to the UNSC before involving itself in confronting the Turks and the Aleppo jihadis would certainly take advantage of the delay."

Hmmm, I doubt it.

According to the plain wording of Article 51 of the UN Charter the Russians would be perfectly entitled to drop the hammer on any invading Turkish force and then go to the UN Security Council to explain why so many Turkish soldiers had to die.

Which is far, far more likely to be the sequence of events i.e. if the Turks were so foolish as to send an expeditionary force then the Russians would act first, then explain later.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Feb 9, 2016 4:29:47 PM | 13

@12 zico and @13 yeah right... you both make sense.. thanks..

Posted by: james | Feb 9, 2016 4:47:58 PM | 14

How long will the Turkish military put up with these shenanigans before mounting a coup?

Posted by: lysias | Feb 9, 2016 4:56:41 PM | 15

Quoted from somewhere:

The war the U.S. and NATO are carrying out in this country is a war against Moscow. These two powers are actually directly fighting Russia. There is no way to hide this any longer. ...

Russia must directly intervene in the Ukraine issue. Military action included. If the U.S. and NATO are able to enter this country with such flimsy pretexts, if they are able to bomb even the zero point of our border, if they are exiling Ukrainian civilians to Russia and attacking Russia from Ukraine, then Russia has far more reason and right than they.

Nobody would want an open war. Nobody would want a war between the U.S. and NATO and Russia. They would not even wish this. But this time it is very serious. If a step is not taken today, we are going to have to fight under tougher conditions than today in the future. There is no such thing as the Ukrainian regime or Kiev administration anymore. The country is being re-designed and this situation is clearly threatening us, the way is directed at Russia and we are expected to sit in silence and accept this! Which country can surrender to such a thing? There is threat, physical condition and legal reason to intervene.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Feb 9, 2016 5:01:25 PM | 16

Although it may appear that Putin "is baiting Erdogan", there are words, according to Hurriyet as reported by Business Insider
that lead to the conclusion that Erdogan sees the invasion of Syria as a good thing:

Quote:' ""We don't want to fall into the same mistake in Syria as in Iraq," Erdogan told reporters on Sunday, according to the Turkish daily newspaper Hurriyet. "If ... Turkey was present in Iraq, the country would have never have fallen into its current situation."

Which means that Turkeys presence in Syria would have benefitted stability in the region in Erdogan's opinion.

Erdogan probably sees himself as sharing the royalties from the Qatari gas pipeline with the "Syrian People" as he would certainly allow the construction of said pipeline. Turkish presence in Syria would substantiate Erdogan's dreams of an Ottoman Empire revival.

IMHO, there are more probabilities that Turkey will attack or at least invade Syria than not. Even if Erdogan has to retreat shortly afterwards, he would leave ISIS/Daesh/Al Nusra/et al in a much better position.

He probably calculates that before a Russian reaction can occur, he will have relieved the anti Assad forces sufficiently to prolong the war.

How willing is Russia to enter a war or warlike situation with Turkey? See, there is the matter of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. Their closure to Russian ships could cause much trouble for the Kremlin. Forcing their opening could mean
all out war between Russia and Turkey. From there on the potential for mayhem is limitless.

It is probable that the US would love such a conflict as it would weaken Russia. If it could get Iran to join in, then Washington would be really delighted.

The notion that Putin would love to entice Ankara to a fight is puerile. A pawn is a pawn. There is too much at risk for all involved except for the Exceptional ones.

If Russia were to react, it would be with the assurance that Iran would back their fight against Erdogan. And, it remains to be seen whether Iran would fly to the rescue of Russia considering Russia abstained from delivering the S300 when the issue was vital for Iran.

Of course, in the dogfight that is bound to follow, the Iranians should know they will die if Russia succumbs. So they might give a hand. They might. They could for example amass troops on Turkey's borders. This could be a valid chess move.

If they do not resort to such posturing, Erdogan may very well bet on a non reflex Russian reaction.

Posted by: CarlD | Feb 9, 2016 5:05:00 PM | 17

@ CarlD
Come on, stop salivating about a possible war between Turkey and Russia. If there is such a war, Europe is the first on the line, not Iran.

Posted by: ATH | Feb 9, 2016 5:17:01 PM | 18

" ... Erdogan is blackmailing the EU with the threat to send hundreds of thousands of refugees. I do not understand why the EU, and especially the German chancellor Merkel, allow such behavior. If the EU, or even Germany alone, would use the available economic thumbscrews on Turkey its economy would scream ..."

The US National Security Agency has been spying on Merkel for years and has a file on her. It must be blackmailing her with this file. There must be something in the file about her that is quite explosive - something about her past political background, past associations, maybe even family history (which might explain how her family came to live in East Germany when she had been born in West Germany).

Posted by: Jen | Feb 9, 2016 5:47:49 PM | 19

Re: 18

Not that I believe Russia cannot deal alone with Turkey. But with the help of Iran I would cost much less.

Posted by: CarlD | Feb 9, 2016 6:18:14 PM | 20

I have been saying since the day that I came on the Moon of Alabama site that there are factions w/i the US govt. I do not claim that any of them are benign. My observations do not reach to motive.

But I observe that Obama's actions regarding Syria contradict his rhetoric. Since at least 2012 his actions have been in favor of peace in Syria, w Assad. I will not repeat a list of his actions here, but I am sure that you recall the endless calls for a no-fly from ALL quarters, which he resisted. Obviously he is not alone in this; there is a faction.

This faction made a so-obvious deal w Russia & Iran to come in and clean out Syria. We KNOW that this cannot be an act of defiance by Russia, as sold to us by the media: Lavrov said on the day the Iran Nuke deal was reached, that now the way was cleared for Iran to be a party to solving the ISIS problem. Putin said on Sept 4, 2015 that the US coalition didn't seem very effective in their bombing campaign, but that Russia was not yet ready to do it. The media and our military feigned great surprise when the airport buildup was finally publicised about the 15th, the Russian campaign began Sept 30th. Russia's UN ambassador, Churkin, was baffled at the media outburst. He said publicly that he didn't understand because the US WANTS Assad to stay in power. No sanctions were placed on Russia, NATO didn't have Turkey close the Bosphorus, no US or EU warships barred the way. As the nuke deal was being finalized Obama & the EU had each of their Patriot missile systems removed from Turkey.

Ashton Carter talks like a rabid hawk, but what did he DO? He foams at the mouth, and then walks away satisfied w permission to station 50 US personnel in Syria-- and he doesn't even get around to doing it promptly. AND they are not used to set up little patches of no-fly, as far as we know.

So what does this tell us about the future? States have secret deals all the time, and this one is certainly in Russia's interest. Why did Obama's faction want it? So they cd get rid of ISIS w/o overtly betraying allies? Cuz they cdn't rely on US military to do it w/o attacking Assad forces?

Are the factions even real, or at their upper levels are they merely activated as the Hegelian thesis and antithesis, the solution to which is already planned? If this is a real geopolitical struggle, why has the "Obama faction" (or perhaps the whole power elite?} allowed and facilitated entrance by Russia & Iran? Are we to be treated to a small, scarey US/Russia confrontation, the solution to which is to arm the UN instead of individual countries?

I don't know the plan, but I promise you that the story-line being fed us by the media is a facade to cover a real, other purpose.

Posted by: Penelope | Feb 9, 2016 6:29:37 PM | 22

I had an idea to cut through their bullshit.

They commonly refer to ridiculous 'monitoring groups' who wheel out propaganda to justify whatever the current story is. Today its 'Siege Watch' who are reporting on the Syrian Governments alleged sieges of Syrian towns causing starvation. They even go so far as to claim that the IS siege of Deir Ez Zor is actually a Syrian government siege.

Anyway, why don't we create our own anti Assad/Russia 'NGO'. We can doctor up a load of images of starving kids, prepare a load of fake interviews and write reports about how theyre all a bunch of utter bastards.

Once it gets some media coverage, then we drop the bombshell that we made it all up.

Would they buy our stories or would they only be interested in bullshit funded by themselves?

Posted by: Bill | Feb 9, 2016 6:45:55 PM | 23

b: Similar crazy words are written by Zionist propaganda clowns in major U.S. newspapers.

I checked the link to Washington Post, and it has what would you expect from Michael Ignatieff and Leon Wieseltier (I thought that Ignatieff has lucid moments, but Wieseltier never gave any signs of them). What is puzzling is the absent of supporting comments. 93 comments, two commenters (and four comments) supportive, and 89 hostile.

There are many kinds of opponents. Well informed actually know that deposing tyrants in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya did not led to a shining future, racists think that risking Americans to help culturally different ingrates is foolish (that would cover 99% of the friends of Israel), others doubt that the Administration is capable of anything like that etc. etc. In my mother tongue we call such an ideas "a hunch backed child that is ugly and unwanted".

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 9, 2016 6:57:34 PM | 24

Penelope: why has the "Obama faction" allowed and facilitated entrance by Russia & Iran

You're really out on a limb there, Penelope.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 9, 2016 7:03:26 PM | 25

Penelope: there are factions w/i the US govt

And the sky is blue.

WHO HAS THE POWER?

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 9, 2016 7:07:06 PM | 26

Peneope: But I observe that Obama's actions regarding Syria contradict his rhetoric. Since at least 2012 his actions have been in favor of peace in Syria, w Assad.

In favor of peace? He almost bombed the hell out of the country in September 2013. Only an inadvertent, unintended remark by Kerry, which Lavrov quickly seized upon, saved Syria from getting walloped.

Observe this: warmongers ALWAYS talk peace.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 9, 2016 7:11:44 PM | 27

Petri @16

"Russia must directly intervene in the Ukraine issue. Military action included."

Russia has nothing to gain by attacking Ukraine. Russia has nothing to gain by occupying Ukraine.

In a Chess Game nothing is ventured without knowing the outcome of ones actions beforehand.

It is my belief that Russia is operating under the assumption that the threat from the West is an existential threat involving the very existence of the Russian people, their culture, religion and national identity.

Posted by: Alberto | Feb 9, 2016 7:16:11 PM | 28

@2 -- "...was all it took for Russia to lose an important potential ally to the terrorist West. "

No, Turkey (or at least the criminal leadership) has been the main source of poison in that theater. Erdogan is trying to expand his 'empire' in the manner the West accuses Russia of wanting to do. Better to flush him/them out and get some good old fashioned 'regime change' in place.

Posted by: x | Feb 9, 2016 7:25:16 PM | 29

Sorry, more on Ignatieff and Wieseltier. Their article is relatively harmless grandstanding, because they couch their "call for action" in terms "under NATO umbrella". That NEVER worked, more precisely, it worked in Bosnia and Kosovo, but aftermath of Kosovo is not something to write home about. Importantly, in Bosnia and Kosovo it was clear who is supported by NATO, and like them or not, they were capable of controlling territory without infighting. In the case of Syria (and several countries before that), not so much. That leaves "OK, we tried to make it a NATO project, but we will make it a coalition of the willing". But finding those willing is quite a chore. Even without Russian presence on the ground, the House of Commons was against the idea, but Russian presence is a serious monkey wrench. Theoretically, one can shoot down planes from across the border, USA does have systems like SS-400. But this is rather drastic and Russia does have painful countermeasures. And the path of escalation at its mildest leads to a global crisis (at at the worst, nuclear winter).

Some parties were chomping at the bit for years, but every proposal of direct intervention was nixed, and that includes Erdogan who is either too lucid to believe what he says or is actually restrained by his own generals. And again, that was before the presence of Russian airforce and before the war with PKK. And that the war with PKK took very ugly turn, and PKK would grab decent anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons (or no-fly zone protection) with alacrity, so the war would not be limited to Syria.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 9, 2016 7:26:37 PM | 30

@28 Yes and no. I think if Russia would hand it's banks and resources over to Western interests the West would take the pressure off.

Posted by: dh | Feb 9, 2016 7:30:53 PM | 31

Last comment: siege watch. XXI version is to blockade a city, depopulate, and declare all fatalities to be "terrorists". And it is currently practiced on a number of cities in Turkey. And the "coalition in Iraq" practiced that too.

Recently Prime Minister of Turkey cheerfully said that Cizre was an ugly badly planned city and that it will be rebuild to look as nicely as Toledo (presumably, he meant THE Toledo, in Spain, and not a somewhat larger and not so picturesque city in Ohio). That is repeating Putin's approach to rebels controlling Grozny.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 9, 2016 7:35:40 PM | 32

@Penelope #22 - The one factor I play with a lot, and that you perhaps leave out of your scenario is the possibility that part of the faction you describe includes realists in the Pentagon - or wherever - who grasp the deep, fundamental decay and obsolescence of the US military, and realize they are technically, even now, outgunned by Russia.

Your scenario doesn't have to be a secret arrangement with a grin of complicity. This can be a somber, managed retreat at the mercy of Russia.

The crucial element that makes all this possible is that Russia is not trying to win wars. Russia is trying to build peace. The actions are different. It's what allows the US so much room to act out its tantrums and dreams of dominance, even while it becomes progressively more cornered by reality, and is gradually backed down.

I believe the goal of Russia is to defuse the madman and have him live safely with the rest of the global village. Not to destroy him, in other words. We are witnessing a peacemaking strategy on the ground.

My 2 cents - keep yours coming please.

Posted by: Grieved | Feb 9, 2016 8:33:18 PM | 33

@15

I'm wondering this as well. Even if NATO were backing them up a war would not go well for Turkey's military. The most advanced plane they have is an upgraded F-16. Hell, they're still flying F-4s, the thing the US used in Vietnam. Anyone have any idea what Turkish morale looks like? How motivated would the grunts be to invade Syria? There's no way many officers would be eager to take part in such folly.

Posted by: Plenue | Feb 9, 2016 8:49:33 PM | 34

This may be slightly OT, but fits b's larger theme, I think: 'Newest Anti-Russian Psyop'
http://cafe-babylon.net/2016/02/08/newest-anti-russian-psyop/


Lavrov has already answered (via RT), and so has Ash Carter (Guardian)

“In a speech in Washington last week, previewing his announcement, Ash Carter said he would ask for spending on US military forces in Europe to be quadrupled in the light of “Russian aggression”. The allocation for combating Islamic State, in contrast, is to be increased by 50%. The message is unambiguous: as viewed from the Pentagon, the threat from Russia has become more alarming, suddenly, even than the menace that is Isis.”(the author wonders about Obama)"

Ya follah, Putin???

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/09/pentagon-new-arms-race-us-military-spending-russia-europe

Posted by: wendy davis | Feb 9, 2016 8:52:05 PM | 35

Ach, I'd meant to post a link to an English version of "Documentary: Ukraine - Masks of revolution' that had apparently been deleted from the web as I went hunting it; a kind Babylonian found one with English subtitles. I don't even think the director knows (or knew) it was gone).

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=30e_1454796647

The Odessa Massacre by the neo-Nazis in the trade union building is front and center.

Posted by: wendy davis | Feb 9, 2016 8:59:00 PM | 36

b: A map published last Friday in the Italian 'La Repubblica' without further explanation shows a Turkish invasion of the northern part of Syria which is currently held by the Islamic State.

This map summarizes the project of creating a "Safe Zone" that Erdogan proposed in June (or was it July?). For some undisclosed reasons Turkey did nothing for six months and then Turkey gave artillery support to "their rebels" and that allowed those rebels to capture 5 villages in the corner of that Zone, however, 3 of them were lost by rebels when al Nusra exchanged its positions with "moderates", and subsequently, they lost to ISIS several other villages further from Turkey. Turkey did not send any soldiers where there was little to stop them in Syria. Hard to tell why this mapped was dusted off now unless there was explanation in Italian that this is a Turkish plan that did not see any action, but it gives some light about they type of engagement that Turks think about.

My thinking is that the main reason why Turkey decided not to create the "Safe Zone" last summer was the entanglement with ISIS. On one hand, Turkey was quite cosy with ISIS, the leadership does not believe that sending infantry, armor divisions and air force against ISIS is the right thing to do. On the other hand, would they reconsider, there would be a lot of bloody explosions in Turkey and a lot of blame against the government. Otherwise, the plan to send a few divisions to the north of reef Aleppo could be executed.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 9, 2016 9:00:21 PM | 37

I wonder whether the attack on Deutsche Bank is related.

Posted by: dumbass | Feb 9, 2016 9:36:25 PM | 38

@28 alberto.. i agree with you... russia has picked syria as opposed to ukraine to work out the crazy demented-ness of western foreign policy at this point in time..

@38 dumbass.. i think it's good to pay attention to how the markets are moving and specifically certain parts of it.. db has been tanking for the past year, but quite gruesome with nothing looking like a possible bottom for the stock as traded on the nyse since the beginning of the year - with everything else it would seem.. one wonders what type of exposure deutsche bank has to what... they broke the 24$ bottom from jan 2009 this january 2016...

Posted by: james | Feb 9, 2016 10:37:31 PM | 39

Russia has nothing to gain by attacking Ukraine. Russia has nothing to gain by occupying Ukraine.

In a Chess Game nothing is ventured without knowing the outcome of ones actions beforehand.

It is my belief that Russia is operating under the assumption that the threat from the West is an existential threat involving the very existence of the Russian people, their culture, religion and national identity.

Posted by: Alberto | Feb 9, 2016 7:16:11 PM | 28

I agree in part. Putin did absolute minimum to avoid the spectacle of Russian being slaughtered by "banderovtsy". It is not easy to rule Ukraine, pre-Orange Revolution Russia-friendly government failed, leading to a circular firing squad of the "revolutionaries", leading to failures of Yanukovich, leading to not-so-succesful current government. In the long run, Putin prefers a pro-Russian government, and a sustained economic failure can lead to it. Subsequently, one needs some profound ideas how to rule Ukraine better to avoid the cycle.

Concerning "existential threat", it boils down to economic. A country rich in natural resources cannot avoid investing a lot in extraction, which is profitable most of the time, but with huge downturn period. So-called free-market economy, integrated with the West, becomes a vehicle to looting the country. In the fat years private companies deposit the profit in Western banks and in the lean years there is deficit, sales of the cheap assets and the ownership of "family jewels" is lost. The scale of looting beggars belief, try to read some statistics on Angola. One also has to mention that in "fat years" the currency and wages go up and it is damn hard to create competitive industries not related to extraction of minerals, and in the "lean years" there is no domestic capital and the foreign capital (rightly) doubts long term competitiveness of potential investments.

To take an example of two countries with comparable culture, Turkish economy can develop well in the integration with the West, but Iranian one, much less so. But even if Iran were poorer, I do not see how it would seriously threaten "culture, religion and identity". After all, Yemen seems to be doing well in that regard -- but being poor is unpleasant, and it is easier to get invaded.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 9, 2016 10:53:02 PM | 40

@ 39 / james

Yes, but why?

After the criminal bailouts of 2007-2014, I, for one, stopped believing our markets are "free". TPTB bailed out the banks for knowingly making bad loans but not the people TPTB encouraged to take bad loans. It was a wake-up call to look at how finance is intertwined with debt serfdom. And colonization: Bailout of the banks that caused the Latin American debt crisis -- without bailing out the countries -- looked like another dirty trick.

Now, I'm just guessing but don't all the Fed's dealers have massive problems? Why is DB getting singled out? What might it be tied to?

Posted by: dumbass | Feb 9, 2016 11:17:55 PM | 41

@41 dumbass.. quoting myself @39 " one wonders what type of exposure deutsche bank has to what..." sometimes you have to be a bank regulator to get an idea... the accounting firms never tell! too much money is to be made giving those good credit ratings for the public to swallow up..

Posted by: james | Feb 10, 2016 12:00:28 AM | 42

Honestly I wouldn't be surprise if some neo-cons in the Us apparatus were secretly wishing or were secretly rejoicing over an attack by the crazy wannabe sultan against Russian and Syria.The thing is in the current situation and the ongoing threat of China in the pacific(who is now the center of the world more or less)I don't see The united States engaging in a war for the beautiful eyes of the mad sultan...

Posted by: lebretteurfredonnant | Feb 10, 2016 12:41:49 AM | 43

If Turkey decides to pursue an invasion of Syria, Russia (and its on the ground allies SAA, IRG & Hezbollah) should obviously target any Turkish troops involved in the incursion as well as targeting all those associated intimately with the Erdogan Regime and his cronies.

In particular, this means sinking all the ships used by the Erdogan sons to run their shipping business - including running stolen Syrian oil bought from ISIS.

Who should be targeted? Even just on Wikipedia there's enough information to know some juicy targets to hit that target the Erdogans and their cronies rather than the wider Turkish populace.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (b 1954)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recep_Tayyip_Erdo%C4%9Fan

Bilal Erdoğan (b 1981)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilal_Erdo%C4%9Fan

Ahmet Burak Erdoğan (b 1979)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmet_Burak_Erdo%C4%9Fan

Ahmet Burak Erdoğan was born in Istanbul in 1979, the son of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his wife Emine Erdoğan, and educated at İmam Hatip school.[1][2] He has a bachelor's degree from Istanbul Bilgi University.[1] As with all his siblings, his higher education was paid for by Remzi Gür, a Turkish textile entrepreneur and friend of the Erdoğan family.

Erdoğan co-founded MB Shipping Ltd (also known as MB Denizcilik),[4] a company incorporated in San Ġwann, Malta,[5] with Mecit Çetinkaya, a "veteran shipowner" who also owns the company Manta Denizcilik.[6] In November 2013, MB bought a sixth ship, Pretty, built in China for over $20 million and with a capacity of 91,000 tons, to add to the existing five ships, Safran 1, Sakarya, G. İnebolu, Cihan and Bosna that it owns. The acquisition of Pretty almost doubled the company's shipping capacity.[6]

In 2015, Aydınlık reported that Erdoğan now owned 99% of MB (with Çetinkaya owning the other 1%) and that MB owned tankers worth US$80 million.

Berat Albayrak (b 1978) - son in law
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berat_Albayrak

Çalık Holding (Turkish conglomerate closely connected to Erdogans)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%87al%C4%B1k_Holding

Çalık Enerji (Oil, Gas, Energy - powerplants etc.)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%87al%C4%B1k_Enerji

BMZ Group
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BMZ_Group

BMZ Group is a Turkish shipping company based in Üsküdar, Istanbul,.

It is owned by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's son Bilal Erdoğan and other family members,[1] Mustafa Erdoğan and Ziya İlgen.[2]

In September 2015, it was reported in Today's Zaman that BMZ had purchsed two tankers, Armada Fair and Türkter 82, for US$ 36 million, increasing their fleet to five tankers, all of which are 140m long, 16m wide, with a 7100 deadweight tonnage (DWT) capacity.

Remzi Gür (b 1949)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remzi_G%C3%BCr

Remzi Gür (born October 1949) is a Turkish businessman, founder and owner of the Ramsey clothing manufacturing and retail company, and "a close friend and financial sponsor of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan".

His son Ömer Gür is married to Didem Yurter, sister-in-law of Ali Babacan,[6] Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey from 2009 to 2015.

Ali Babacan (b 1967)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ali_Babacan

Posted by: Julian | Feb 10, 2016 1:08:01 AM | 44

The ships of the Erdogan sons and also the Energy/ Electricity plants of Calik Holdings are like sitting ducks for a missile attack and also intensely damage the Erdogans and their cronies directly rather than the wider Turkish population.

Posted by: Julian | Feb 10, 2016 1:11:30 AM | 45

Erdogan seems to be losing it. He is now the most incalculable factor in the further developments in Syria. But should he invade Syria he can not count on U.S. or NATO support. What is he going to do?

But isn't there the possibility of Turkey invading, through a lightning strike operation, and occupying parts of rebel-held areas in northern Syria?

Would we see an immediate reaction from the Russian/Syrian side or would they try to resolve the matter in time through diplomacy, as part of a larger package in any future negotiations and, as a consequence, legitimizing in the eyes of NATO backed by western media that contested swath of land as part of a "humanitarian mission in Syria"?

That is; securing a no-fly zone for rebels and Al Qaeda affiliates alike seeking refuge from Russian airstrikes. An area which could very well be occupied by NATO indefinitely. Unless the other side is prepared to go to war over it.

Posted by: never mind | Feb 10, 2016 2:03:05 AM | 46

This post is why I drop by every day.

There is nothing quite like today. The US establishment just got their walking papers from New Hampshire. The next weeks we’ll see what they do about it. Also, if Turkey invades Syria, a world war with Russia is off and running. The Ukrainian Cauldrons, the withdrawal of the Patriot batteries out of Turkey and the two US Navy boats in the Persian Gulf losing GPS and communications simultaneously are all indications the superiority of Russian arms, tactics, experience and morale. I expect a devastating defeat for Turkey. With the Refugee Crisis and Austerity, the European Union is splintering asunder. This will be a crushing downfall for the Atlantic Alliance. The pressure for Washington DC to escalate the war will be tremendous.

The ruling elite will do anything to prevent a humiliating loss of power and wealth.

Posted by: VietnamVet | Feb 10, 2016 2:12:33 AM | 48

I would add, the troubles with Deutsche Bank provide the Germans with a great opportunity to stuff/ stiff the Western banking system.

Instead of initiating any sort of desperate bailout of DB at the taxpayers expense the German Government, ie Merkel, can throw DB under the bus and initiate a chain reaction that frees Getmany from the chains of US-Zio-Anglo-EU vassalage.

Well, that's what I would do anyway if I had the choice.

See the chips fall where they may as the saying goes.

Posted by: Julian | Feb 10, 2016 2:27:24 AM | 49

Not seen this site before - gives Russian perspective
http://watchingamerica.com/WA/

Posted by: GoraDiva | Feb 10, 2016 2:31:08 AM | 50

"... a Turkish invasion of the northern part of Syria which is currently held by the Islamic State. Such an operation would allow the communication line between Turkey and the Islamic State to stay open. That line is endangered by Kurdish and Russian plans to attack the same area and to eliminate the ISIS presence there."

So, the Russians and Kurds have plans to attack this IS controlled area, but have yet to undertake it because conditions are not yet right for them to be able to defeat IS there; yet we are asked to believe that the Russian special forces alone can defeat the combined forces of IS and Turkish ground forces, concentrated in the same area?

Incidentally, can anyone tell me how many Russian special forces are in Syria?

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 10, 2016 3:57:42 AM | 51

Wow - Assad actually delivered weapons to the YPG in Qamishli last weekend. They said they would do this last year, but nothing more was heard about it.

The following report comes from the Turkish Yeni Safak site, which is predictably characterizing the Kurdish YPG as 'terrorists' in line with Erdogan's constant and tedious shrieking about this.

Assad delivers weapons to YPG terrorists near Turkey

...Four aircraft weapons and munitions delivered to YPG terrorist organization in northern Syria by Assad regime...

Four transport aircraft is maybe a hundred or so tons of weapons and ammo. It will help, but isn't going to change things dramatically for the Kurds. In the larger scheme of things this has much more significance in its symbolic importance. Instead of just leaving the Kurds alone to fend for themselves, Assad has just treated them like a serious part of the Syrian state and military. He would have never armed them five years ago for any reason, fearing they would just cause him trouble or agitate for independence. By arming them himself, he signals that he hasn't abandon them and they matter to Syria, even though Assad can't get up there (Qamishli) with SAA troops to support them.

I don't mean to suggest some kind of sudden love-fest between Assad and the Rojava. It's just that what I would have expected is Assad to do what he's always done in the past when running Syria. I don't know if it's a change of heart on his part or Putin just hitting him over the head with a club to do the right thing, but he's acting a bit more intelligent as a leader than his simple-minded dictator past suggests.

He's negotiating with the opposition for truces in areas the government has taken over (rather than imprisoning and slaughtering them) and allowing local militias to arm and protect themselves. That was surprising as hell, but you could make the argument that he was begrudgingly doing it out of sheer necessity to maintain his tenuous grip on power. Arming the Kurds (however little and late) is more shocking. He is not compelled to do that out of any necessity today. Considering that the Kurds in Qamishli sat by while ISIS tore up Assad's troops there, I would expect him to be kind of pissed at them and do anything but give them weapons today.

This may just be Russia's doing - arming the Kurds as they had hinted at, but letting them come from Assad rather than directly from Russia. Which would be a good move on Russia's part. It helps Syria appear to function as a country intent on staying whole, and signals to everyone that Assad now considers the Kurds as part of a unified Syria by choice, rather than by threat of a SAA gun barrel.

Russia, Iran and Syria all want to stick it to the Turks, and nothing bothers Erdogan more than someone arming the Kurds.

Hopefully, we'll see Assad's streak of rationality continue. Syria can do without a lot of the psychopathic traits of the 'old' Assad going forward after the war. It would also help Syria if the Kurds are content as a semi-autonomous region within Syria rather than pushing for independence now. Hard to say, but they have to have noticed the small but significant gesture of Assad sending them arms directly. This certainly isn't going to qualify Assad for sainthood or the Nobel prize, but it's a step in the right direction.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Feb 10, 2016 4:28:47 AM | 52

The best defense in this case may be a good offense. I'd be interested in whether the following is moonshine:

"Another option is to open a new front in northern Lebanon, where local Salafist groups and thousands of desperate Syrian refugees could be engaged in the fight. Such a move would directly threaten Assad's Alawite heartland in Tartus and Homs, as well as the main road to Damascus. Regime forces would be outflanked, and Hezbollah's lines of communication, reinforcement, and supply between Lebanon and Syria could be cut off. The question is, do Riyadh and Ankara have the means and willingness to conduct such a bold, dangerous action?"

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/the-battle-of-aleppo-is-the-center-of-the-syrian-chessboard

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 10, 2016 4:51:00 AM | 53

@46 "Would we see an immediate reaction from the Russian/Syrian side or would they try to resolve the matter in time through diplomacy,"

The former, in order to facilitate the latter.

If Turkey invaded Syria then those Turkish soldiers would come into conflict with Russian forces. Guaranteed. The Turks would then (and quite legitimately) close the Bosphorus to Russian ships.

From that point on it would be a battle of resupply, which the Russian forces inside Syria would inevitably lose.

So Russia really has no choice - if the Turks cross the border then the Russians would have to go straight at 'em with the intention of inflicting a quick defeat, followed by a negotiated face-saving retreat for Erdogan.

But negotiate first? Nope, that would play to the Turks strength and lead to a gradual weakening of the Russian forces.

Hit fast. Hit hard. Then negotiate.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Feb 10, 2016 5:08:17 AM | 54

@ james

Merkel seems like quite the Oceania capo. I doubt she'd shepherd Germany out from under the yoke.

Posted by: dumbass | Feb 10, 2016 5:38:17 AM | 55

Germany (Merkel), Usa, UK et al offended by possible civilian deaths in Aleppo.
Remember Nagasaki ? or Hiroshima, Tokyo, Dresden, Hamburg, Darmstadt, Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, etc. etc. Who killed all those civilians ? . Guess again.

Posted by: Boindub | Feb 10, 2016 5:49:59 AM | 56

When the BBC and British newspapers begin any campaign that does not seem to have a direct relationship to a specific event, they are up to something. In today’s (10 Feb. 16) British Telegraph was this -

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/12149161/Why-has-Britain-abandoned-Syrian-moderates-to-the-bombs-of-Putin-and-Assad.html

- clearly written by a deluded US lackey (Con Coulighan – the clue is in the name!). Similarly, in the immediate past, the British Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister have mad(e) ridiculous statements regarding 'moderate terrorists' etc.

The BBC anti-Russia spin programme 'World War Three: Inside the War Room' and the previous weeks attacks on Putin are evidence that something is going on (support for Erdogen - military action to support the 'moderates'?), or are they just testing UK public opinion?

However, UK public opinion is very jaundiced, following the 'weapons of mass destruction' farce and the obvious chaos and deaths+terrorism following the Gulf war. Additionally, both in the UK and US there is a large groundswell of anti gov/establishment feeling (the rise of Sanders, Trump and Corbyn), so that public opinion will turn negative if overt UK military force is used (UK forces are token at best). This may be true in the US also.

The UK and Germany are US puppets (although the non-overt spying on Merkel indicates she is less trusted). So the answer to Con Coulighan is that the US have told the UK to dump the moderates, and Kerry asking for a truce is evidence of the same thing (protecting his rump force).

Putin has put his Airborne troops on high alert and reinforced Syria's border with Lebanon (where the Saudi forces are holding 'exercises'). From that it is clear Russia will act immediately if Syria is threatened.

Since there is no US/UK appetite for WW3, and Erdogen will know it, he won't do anything except bluster. The same is true of the incompetent Saudi’s and their friends.

Posted by: eric bloodaxe | Feb 10, 2016 7:37:14 AM | 57

Nice piece though I disagree with your last comment "But should he invade Syria he can not count on U.S. or NATO support". I don't trust a second the USA and NATO, they are masters in playing double games. Remember when the US ambassador to Iraq told Saddam Hussein that invading Kuwait was his business, not that of the USA, and when he fell in the trap, you know how the story went.
Never ever trust what the Western regimes say!

Posted by: Bongocero | Feb 10, 2016 7:42:11 AM | 58

Merkel seems lost in her last visit to Ankara. It is obvious she has had the full burden of refugee crisis of Germany and the EU, and she has been outmanoeuvred by cheap rhetorics of criminal Erdogan and thus she is salvoing Russian airstrikes of the human tragedy in Aleppo.

Erdogan, as b correctly laid out, has just dared the US of her relations with Kurdish groups, namely YPG (PKK Syrian off shoot).

From Hurriyet Daily News:

“Are you on our side or the side of the terrorist organizations?” Erdoğan asked the U.S. on Feb. 10, as tensions between the two NATO allies have flared over the PYD, which Washington supports in its struggle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria.

Turkey regards the PYD and its military wing, the People’s Defense Units (YPG), as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated as a terror organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.

“Hey America, you cannot make us recognize neither the PKK nor the PYD and the YPG,” Erdoğan said.

“We know these [organizations] very well. We know Daesh very well too,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIL. “But since you haven’t been able to recognize them up to this day, the region is drenched in blood,” he said.

“What kind of partnership is this? They are keeping silent in front of us but in our absence they say ‘We don’t look it that way,’” said the Turkish president.''

http://tinyurl.com/z6tzp8d

The US would not talk publicly against this mad man but one really wonders how long the US would take his baggage..?

Posted by: Truist | Feb 10, 2016 8:11:51 AM | 59

Sorry for interrupting with an observation about USA. Just how resistant is American commentariat to facts? In the case of events on the other side of the ocean they have excuse of getting facts filtered by "specialists", and it is genuinely hard evaluate the news. So primary elections with clear domestic issues and clear multiple opinion polls form a better test of fact resistance.

This is typical comment by a "concerned liberal"

What About Ted Cruz? Thomas B. Edsall FEB. 9, 2016 NYT, final paragraph.

... the prospect of a general election between candidates whom leaders and strategists see as losers – Sanders versus either Cruz or Trump – is more than an idle fantasy.
The Sanders victory in New Hampshire — and who would have thought that he would have won any state at all when the campaign began? — raises the prospect, however fleeting, of a contest the likes of which we’ve never seen.

RealClearPolitics gives those "matchups" for main candidates:

Trump - Clinton, Clinton + 4.0
Trump - Sanders, Sanders +7.7

Cruz - Clinton, Cruz +1
Cruz - Sanders, Sanders + 1.5

Rubio - Clinton, Rubio +5
Rubio - Sanders, Rubio +1.5

And yet, again and again, I read phrases like "inelectable curmudgeon".

Here the Moonista are disapponted with Sanders who offered pieces of wisdom like "we should be given bigger role to our regional allies like Saudi Arabia". Clinton is not a devil (although sometimes she plays one on TV, "we came, we saw, he died, hahahaha!"), Sanders is not an angel, but the election of Sanders will jolt fact resistant Establishment and move the Establishment mental construct, "the mainstream" in a good direction. You see, their thinking is not "true/false" or "good/bad" but "mainstream/not mainstream" and "which part of the mainstream".

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 10, 2016 8:21:51 AM | 60

"Last year the U.S. intelligence community stated that there were some 20,000 foreign fighters with ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorists groups in Syria and Iraq. In a congressional testimony today (pdf) the director of national intelligence James Clapper put the current number at 38,000. Turkey claims it closed its border for foreign fighters going to Syria and Iraq. If so how did those additional 18,000 foreign Jihadis enter Syria and Iraq? Did they just drop from the sky?"

After a look at both of these links, I have a different interpretation. The NBC News link from last year does indeed estimate the number of foreign fighters with IS at 20,000. But Clapper's testimony refers to the number of foreign fighters who "have traveled to Syria" since 2012. The two numbers are not directly comparable because of attrition: a significantly large number of the foreign fighters who traveled to Syria became casualties of war. (In fact, most of the suicide bombers which IS uses to drive vehicle borne IEDs, to crack open defenses like checkpoints so that its fighters can pour through the breach, are foreign fighters -- a majority of these Saudis.) So Clapper is not saying that 18,000 have traveled to Syria since last year.

This is not to suggest that foreign fighters haven't traveled to Syria since last year: obviously IS must replace its losses, and Turkey has been the way-station.

I question how effective closing the formal border crossings will be. Many Syrian refugees have entered Turkey, not through official crossings, but illegally at unsupervised points. It can be as easy as cutting through or breaking down a few yards of barbed wire. Surely IS could arrange something similar in the opposite direction, at night? The main thing would be to have a guide to meet them, if not at the breaches then at staging areas.

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 10, 2016 8:22:03 AM | 61

@ 53,

Good points. I've wondered if Russia could avoid the bosphorus problem so long as it is "Syrian" forces that confront the Turkish invasion.Russia could deny any involvement while the "Syrian" airforce pummel the Turkish invaders and shoots down Turkish for 16s. Just wondering if that might be the Russian countermove.

Posted by: Lysander | Feb 10, 2016 9:20:53 AM | 62

Julian @44

"BMZ Group is a Turkish shipping company based in Üsküdar, Istanbul,.

It is owned by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's son Bilal Erdoğan and other family members,[1] Mustafa Erdoğan and Ziya İlgen.[2]

In September 2015, it was reported in Today's Zaman that BMZ had purchsed two tankers, Armada Fair and Türkter 82, for US$ 36 million, increasing their fleet to five tankers, all of which are 140m long, 16m wide, with a 7100 deadweight tonnage (DWT) capacity."

Who buys this stolen Syrian and Iraqi oil? If BMZ has tankers you are shipping to end point customers who are paying ca$h.

Posted by: Alberto | Feb 10, 2016 9:30:16 AM | 63

@49 DBK.DE is up 8% in New York this morning on 12 million shares so somebody is making money off it.

Posted by: dh | Feb 10, 2016 9:54:36 AM | 64

@63 Make that 10% on 21 million.

Posted by: dh | Feb 10, 2016 10:12:43 AM | 65

Damn, just when everyone was predicting that this whole mess was gonna be "winding down" it looks like it's gonna actually shift up a gear.

Even you, b, with your mad hyper-dyper super-duper predictive skillz, couldn't have predicted THAT!!!111111OneOne!!!!

(Clearly no one in the whole world could have predicted that . . . especially not as far bas as 3 or 4 weeks ago ;-)

Posted by: Told ya | Feb 10, 2016 10:15:51 AM | 66

A privacy reminder from Google
Search Results

Deutsche Bischofskonferenz: Home
www.dbk.de/Translate this page

Dem dere Deutsche Bischofs, - mad money making skillz

Posted by: Told ya | Feb 10, 2016 10:21:05 AM | 67

The Russian base in Armenia was strengthened with additional troops and drills.

Posted by: AriusArmenian | Feb 10, 2016 10:39:18 AM | 68

The killing of an Italian Cambridge PhD in Cairo comes right on time to help moderate Europeans switch to warmongers, isn't it?

Posted by: Mina | Feb 10, 2016 10:59:44 AM | 69

@55

Given the past 15 years alone, whenever I hear the US/UK/EU wring their hands over civilian deaths and threaten to drown us all in a sea of crocodile tears, I remember Iraq, Libya, Syria, Palestine.
These people don't give a high holy f*ck about any civilian deaths except when there may be a political advantage to doing so.

Posted by: farflungstar | Feb 10, 2016 11:09:26 AM | 70

The Turks would have to be totally insane to invade Syria. If they did, and I ruled Russia, I would surround them with some troops, diddle-daddle at the U.N. for a few weeks, waiting for the Turks to capture 10% of Syria. Then I would wipe the whole thing out with cruise missiles. And that would be the end of that.

As far as the "Ukraine", that place is now two distinct countries, East and West. The Russians will probably support them both in a perhaps minimal way. It's sad for the people in the East Ukraine that their entire culture is so corrupt that their country is worthless.

Let's see: $5 billion to destabilize the Ukraine, and now commenter Mark says "The US is about to send $3.4 billion in weapons to the Russian border...". Gee, I could do a lot with $8.4 billion!

And then there's "diplomacy debt". That's the U.S. "calling in chits", or maybe committing extortion upon all of its allies. Some day we will have to pay for those chits and receive blow-back for all the extortion. That won't be pretty.

Posted by: blues | Feb 10, 2016 11:34:12 AM | 71

Quick look media, I see:

- France denounces Assad's "terrifying brutality";

- Russia using 'cluster bombs';

- Turkey accuses Russia & Syria of ethnic cleansing;

- "UN fears for hundreds of thousands";

- etc.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 10, 2016 12:07:03 PM | 72

A@62

These BMZ tankers are making their profits from the millions of barrels of the Kurd's oil from Iraq with some very small amount of IS oil mixed in. They have developed some clever ways to disguise its source but oil buyers for many refineries are always available and anxious to buy this discounted product. They transfer this oil at sea and even send out decoy tankers to confuse the satellite tracking that tries to monitor this commerce.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Feb 10, 2016 12:10:37 PM | 73

Meh, $4 bio. is what exactly, five F35, dozen of tanks and one division of soldiers? With the current costs of the US military hardware and logistics, that's next to nothing. Let alone that a few well-placed rockets suffice to wipe that whole bunch out, should it ever be required. IMO that's all just PR talk with zero value.

It is very well discernable by now that the US and Russia are working together and creating a future Kurd state, while the jihadists will be routed. Israel is allowed to kill off all Iranian officers in Syria too, since the current count of dead high officers would be impossible without insider help/allowance. Erdogang is probably also in on the game and will ultimately swallow it or be replaced by a better pawn. The whole rest is just posturing for the press and the domestic voting sheep.

Posted by: Anon coward | Feb 10, 2016 12:16:09 PM | 74

>> - Turkey accuses Russia & Syria of ethnic cleansing;

If that accusation hasn't already been "adopted", it's probably just a matter of time. Maybe the cooks will let the accusation simmer and make its way through the intertubes, to give it time to gain traction before coming from official mouthpieces.

Posted by: dumbass | Feb 10, 2016 12:19:52 PM | 75

Small bit of good news for Kobane: they finally got electricity yesterday from the Tishreen Dam power station again after being without for four years.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Feb 10, 2016 12:29:11 PM | 76

http://xymphora.blogspot.ru/2016/02/enough-is-enough.html

"Enough is enough — U.S. abdication on Syria must come to an end" by Michael Ignatieff and Leon Wieseltier!!!

Yes, enough is enough.No more listening to monsters whose fangs pour with blood!

Give Ignatieff credit - he's unfailingly and profoundly wrong about everything, morally and practically, so just do the exact opposite of what he suggests.

Essentially, Aleppo is the last big battle of the Jewish Empire.

Leon Wieseltier sounds like a lovely chap - full of "light onto the world" - a "Philosopher" no less. Lucky us.

Posted by: Nietzsche | Feb 10, 2016 12:31:22 PM | 77

Yet another look
http://atimes.com/2016/02/turkey-raises-the-call-of-jihad-in-syria/
but... •The NATO does not intend to deploy troops in Syria, but instead hopes to “build local capacity” and train “local forces and troops.” Does not sound too serious (and that worked out so well in A-stan)...

Posted by: GoraDiva | Feb 10, 2016 12:32:12 PM | 78

FFS@69

Is this the excuse you are offering for the lack of human compassion shown by many people here and outright denial of the death and maiming of civilians by the Russian bombing in Syria? Actually too many people here seem to be enjoying this bloodletting so long as it furthers their warped political agenda.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Feb 10, 2016 12:37:17 PM | 79

Excellent article, thoroughly researched. Thank you so much for your work in exposing the warmongers.

Posted by: qsertorivs | Feb 10, 2016 12:38:41 PM | 80

@ bloodaxe,

Speaking of anti-Russia spin programmes, for the few months I watched I couldn't help but notice Jon Oliver deliver a single "Putin is a tyrant"-type joke every week at the start of his show. That's despite so many topics to potentially cover and so little time for his opening monologue. Meanwhile, he remained silent about who's been funding and supporting these jihadis now and for the past decades. After all the disasters in the last 15 years, that really deserves to be a regular topic in the monologue and a topic of one of his longer segments. This incongruity makes me wonder whether the writing is completely organic or else influenced by someone or something. Of course, I can only speculate.

Posted by: dumbass | Feb 10, 2016 12:44:53 PM | 81

WOW@78

Is there a problem with that? Is it inaccurate? Hasn't the Western cabal killed and displaced millions in 3 countries already? And do they not feign outrage over civilian casualties as well? No one takes their contrived concern seriously, not after all the people AmeriKa has killed or helped kill FIRST. Russia is just following the precedent set by Baby Bush in Iraq, right?
I can see you are just bubbling over with concern over mountains of Wahabbi corpses. I'm truly sorry for your hurt feelings. You must be the contrarian of this board.

Posted by: farflungstar | Feb 10, 2016 12:55:07 PM | 82

>> Meh, $4 bio. is what exactly,

Never know whether that's the actual figure, especially when considering organizations that never pass their audits -- which wouldn't mean anything anyway for organizations above the law.

And it's sort of a joke. There's hundreds of billions spent anyway on stuff sitting around. That stuff will be put to use. What's the initial and recurring budget on that stuff?

I wouldn't be surprised if the $4b -- which as you observe sounds low -- is intentionally picked so that some neocongressman can come along later and declare what by then everyone is thinking: "$4b is too small a figure; let's get serious and increase it".

Posted by: dumbass | Feb 10, 2016 12:56:29 PM | 83

Turkish paper Hurriyet cites Turkish General Staff Official "Will not invade Syria without UNSC resolution":

The Turkish General Staff has two important considerations regarding the international community over sending troops to Syria.

The first of these two is that the United States has not made any preparations for ground troops to be deployed to Syria, as it knows a United Nations decision cannot be met due to Russia’s stance in the civil war in Syria.
...
The second was that the Turkish army would not set foot on Syrian soil without a U.N. Security Council resolution.

Take that Erdogan. The army will not follow your orders because, without UNSC resolution, they are against the law.

What will Erdogan do? Fire all Generals? Again?

Posted by: b | Feb 10, 2016 12:57:02 PM | 84

@79 Aren't you underestimating the intelligence of Syrian civilians? Nobody in their right mind hangs out with jihadis.

Posted by: dh | Feb 10, 2016 12:57:19 PM | 85

@ wayoutwest: you can't expect to be taken seriously by mentioning such lowly tripe like "bombing of civilians". That's not even enough for a provocation nowadays, it's *that* stupid and worn out.

Of course it's also quite a ripe comment by someone coming from the Empire of Oceania that bomb-bomb-bombed millions of civilians into oblivion and ravaged dozens of countries within just a few decades. Cry me a river. Oh and don't forget those pics with panda bears and appearances at some phony charity events of the "save the children in Blahblahnistan" kind.

Posted by: Anon coward | Feb 10, 2016 1:05:14 PM | 86

@ farflungstar

Yes, WOW is the "contrarian" on this board. Most of us pay no mind.

IMO, WOW seems to support the process I allude to in 75. In order to manufacture consent, the "cooks" need people like WOW to spread their R2P concerns, concerns which to me sound hollow given the belated timing and conclusions about "who are the blameworthy aggressors".

Posted by: dumbass | Feb 10, 2016 1:07:53 PM | 87

Hows about this for a headline from the Guardian

"US will not rule out Saudi ground troops being sent into Syria"

A bluff of course but why would the US rule out an action by a King who their president bows down to? Laughable stuff as ever.

Posted by: Bob | Feb 10, 2016 1:48:47 PM | 88

Jackrabbit @ 27,

"In favor of peace? He almost bombed the hell out of the country in September 2013. Only an inadvertent, unintended remark by Kerry, which Lavrov quickly seized upon, saved Syria from getting walloped."

Do you really believe such a fairy tale? Couldn't you see the foot-dragging and the UK instructed to vote against it? But that's ok; you don't have to agree w me. You can go on believing that the US and its policies are in every instance singular and noncontradictory. You may even be right. As I said, maybe the factions aren't real but just another example of their usual Hegelian synthesis, antithesis, nasty solution policy. Maybe the whole war is, too. We'll have to wait and see.

"Observe this: warmongers ALWAYS talk peace."
Jackrabbit, my main point is that despite his nonpeaceful rhetoric, he actually ACTS for peace. I'm sure you misspoke here.

Posted by: Penelope | Feb 10, 2016 1:56:50 PM | 89

FFS@82

Why stoop to this liberal relativism when you obviously want to revel in this bloodbath and celebrate the death of Muslims to validate your anti-imperialism and Islamophobia, piles of Wahabbi corpses indeed!

BTW, I also despise those who revel in the US/Coalition bloodbath against civilians living under and even supporting the Islamic State.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Feb 10, 2016 2:24:13 PM | 90

If Turkey (NATO) will not be able to assure air supremacy then there is no invasion.
And cannot do it without massive attack on Russian installation in Syria and including those in Black Sea and Crimea, which means WWIII.

Erdogan already alienated the Turkish military and they are not ready to commit suicide for his psychotic rants.

The fact is that limited war with Turkey is NOT possible without braking down of NATO, as a matter of fact if this is Russian intention they are all the way to achieved it. It is because accepting Turkish provocation, means opening active fronts in central Europe, NATO countries officially declare themselves enemy of Russia.

All of it is monitored. As long as Russian will not put troops on the ground in Turkey, it is unlikely that they call art. 5 and refrain actions but propaganda threats to Russia.

But instead of war with Russia, Erdogan may have a accident, MOSSAD specializes in such a accidents.

But this fact is that psychotic maniacs are in the WH so all bets are off.

More on that can be found here:

https://syrianwarupdate.wordpress.com/

Posted by: Kalen | Feb 10, 2016 3:05:57 PM | 91

no hope for wow unless he gets away from western msm with it's brainwashing 101... wow is a good example of what comes out of someone's mouth who has been effectively brainwashed..

Posted by: james | Feb 10, 2016 3:36:23 PM | 92

Bob@88 - U.S. re: not ruling out Saudi ground troops "...A bluff of course..."

I hope to God you're right, but I grow more and more wary of what might happen in Syria.

Despite Erdogan's wackyness and illegal air attacks in northern Iraq last week, NATO is playing dumb and 1) sending Patriots back to cover the Turkish-Syrian border and NATO's main Middle East surveillance facilities in Diyarbakir (without any reason for doing so), and 2) sending three German NATO-owned AWACS to augment Turkey's four very sophisticated ones, supposedly to support coalition ground strikes in Syria. Almost like NATO is gearing up to support some kind of air war over Syria, but they deny any such suggestions.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia were chumming around last week and announced plans for a joint military training exercise without giving any specifics.

The U.S. is adding 1,600 101st Airborne Div. soldiers to it's Iraqi presence. They'll be based near Mosul but will only be 20 minutes or so from the Syrian border by chopper. Ash Carter says they 'may' be used in Syria, but there's no immediate plans.

Saudi Arabia's bizarre offer of ground troops comes, coincidentally, at a time when a combined 150,000 to 350,000 troops (reports vary), 2,500 aircraft 20,000 tanks from 21 other Arab/Persian Gulf states are participating in a military exercise called Northern Thunder in northeastern Saudi Arabia near Kuwait. That's a lot of kill toys. That's also curiously close to the spot either they would launch an invasion of Iran or counter one from them. This is the largest exercise of it's type in the Middle East's history. Saudi Arabia denies it has anything to do with Syria or Iran.

Despite the announced location in northeast Saudi Arabia, videos have surfaced of hundreds of Humvees and flatbed-carried armor heading across the Saudi border into Jordan, although no part of Northern Thunder was to take place there. Saudi Arabia denies that they sent anyone there.

The U.K. is sending 1,600 troops and vehicles to Jordan for what's billed as a logistics exercise called Shamal Storm. "...More than 300 military vehicles are being shipped to the Jordan, where logistics, medical, intelligence and bomb disposal experts will practise supporting a massive British military expedition...," although the U.K. denies it has anything to do with Syria or ISIS. But hey - why not conduct an exercise right on the border of a country at war. What could possibly go wrong?

Israel just attacked a Syrian missile base near Damascus last week for some unknown reason. Assad has no reason to launch any at Israel. Is Israel expecting that to change? Incidentally, the Syrian Army is close to taking Dara'a and will continue westward - which will push the retreating al Nusra into the Golan Heights, whether Israel approves or not.

And all this as western MSM ramps up the rhetoric about a Russian/Syrian-caused humanitarian crisis at the Turkish border. Kind of like someone needs to go in to Syria to do something. Apparently the five million refugees created up until now by the U.S. didn't warrant any kind of intervention on our part.

One other last 'coincidence' - world oil storage is at capacity and they're using tanker ships for additional storage again. These are oil middlemen paying for the storage, not politicians. They would not keep buying more and more crude and paying for storage if nobody wanted it. The only way that would make sense is if they expected the supply to disappear and prices to spike in panic. Now why would they think that?

If normal human beings ran the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, then you could dismiss their words as bluff and bluster. But both countries and Turkey are run by dangerous psychopaths, not normal human beings.

Considering all the events above, is it really so hard to believe they would be scheming for a massive Saudi/Gulf invasion from the south, a Turkish invasion from the north, and NATO hiding behind the curtains orchestrating everything and providing intel? Russia seems to be taking this seriously - they're increasing their Mediterranean fleet to 20 warships and have airborne troops in Crimea and the southwest on alert. We can assume Iran is similarly prepared.

Even if it is a bluff, it won't take much for some idiot to blow something up he shouldn't have and make everyone else come out swinging. We might soon know if the answer to the question, "Is removing Assad and destroying Syria really worth WW III to Team Chaos?"

Posted by: PavewayIV | Feb 10, 2016 3:49:28 PM | 93

@93 paveway... thanks for the overview, as depressing as it is... i can't believe the level of insanity these warmongers are operating at..

b left a journalists article ( at ssr) on his trip to aleppo that some might like to read here..

Posted by: james | Feb 10, 2016 4:05:46 PM | 94

@66 "Damn, just when everyone was predicting that this whole mess was gonna be "winding down" it looks like it's gonna actually shift up a gear."

"Looks like"? How do you figure that? Especially as..... it hasn't happened yet.

"Even you, b, with your mad hyper-dyper super-duper predictive skillz, couldn't have predicted THAT!!!"

Well, since this is still in the speculative stage then it's a wee bit premature to accuse b of not predicting something that has yet to actually happen.

Maybe come back when it does happen. If it happens.

"(Clearly no one in the whole world could have predicted that . . . especially not as far bas as 3 or 4 weeks ago ;-)"

;-) indeed.

I think you will find that this article shows that b DOESN'T think that the Turks will invade, precisely because if they did then they'd be put through a meat-grinder.

But, please, tell us what you think will happen in, oh, the next 4 weeks.

I promise to withhold judgement until it does, you know, actually happen.

Or not happen.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Feb 10, 2016 4:09:47 PM | 95

Well at least we are not talking about how much the Israeli's are raping the Palestine people. The pot needs to be kept stirred so "background" genocide can continue.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Feb 10, 2016 4:13:13 PM | 96

Here's a possible scenario: Turkey undertakes a "limited border incursion" (not an "invasion") for the purpose of preventing the Kurds from linking territory on their southern border (though the justification would be phrased in terms of national self-defense using any of several facile arguments). No incursion into territory controlled or actively contested by the Syrian government would be made.

The Turkish military is quite supportive of preventing the Kurds from obtaining a home country (what the U.S. under other circumstances would call a "safe haven for terrorists") immediately adjacent to Turkey. The PKK have been fighting a decades long guerrilla war against the Turkish army, which is why the Kurds have acquired such excellent light infantry skills and are so effective against IS despite receiving so little from the United States by way of materiel.

Russia responds with air strikes. Now the Turkish army's blood is up. At this point it might be worthwhile to examine the capabilities of the Turkish armed forces.

They have roughly 400,000 active front line personnel in the army, and another nearly 200,000 active reservists.

http://www.globalfirepower.com/country-military-strength-detail.asp?country_id=turkey

I agree that Russia has the advantage when it comes to air-to-air combat: but to use its air force against Turkish ground forces, it must expose itself to the surface-to-air weapons of the Turkish ground forces, of which they have not a few:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_modern_weapons_of_the_Turkish_Air_Force#/editor/4

I confess to being no analyst of the efficacy of these weapons against the most elite fighter jets which Russia has in Syria; but I believe that in any case Russia has only a few such craft in Syria; and to employ them effectively as ground attack fighters against the Turkish army would probably be to negate a number of their technical advantages as regards high altitude flight and other factors trading speed and distance for time to effectively employ defensive procedures; though I hasten to disclose my abysmal ignorance in this regard.

The question then becomes, not what Russia has versus Turkey, but what Russia has in Syria against Turkey. If Turkey were to employ Blitzkrieg methods and overrun the air bases and other centers of military and administrative power of the Syrian government, Russian technical superiority would become moot.

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 10, 2016 4:23:36 PM | 97

J@92

Don't be such a wuss and dissembler about where my critique comes from, J. Let everyone know that while you condemn US Imperialism you relish the thought of piles of Wahhabi corpses produced by Russian Holy War.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Feb 10, 2016 4:32:59 PM | 98

@98 wow... there is an alternative to supporting and being in bed with the wahabbi headchoppers... don't look to the west for any guidance.. the opposite is being displayed in the latest attempt of chaos in syria...no matter how much the western msm screams barrel bombs, many ordinary people can see thru the bs, yours included..

Posted by: james | Feb 10, 2016 5:02:35 PM | 99

@jack 27 "inadvertent, unintended remark" - there are no such things in politics, as FDR famously pointed out, especially at the international level.

The idea was actually proposed first by Radek Sikorski, then the Polish FM (and acknowledged later by the Syrian Ambassador to Poland in an interview)

Penelope is right, but clearly has no will to see what I had explained many times here before - the split in the US establishment is between 1) the AngloZio criminal global cabal that has been ruling the Western world for more from the city of London using the US after WW2 as its "muscle" hell-bent after the collapse of the USSR on total world domination through wars, terrorism, lase flags like 9/11 2) the rest of the AngloZio establishment, mostly located in the US not in the UK, realizing how absolutely sick, insane, destructive, uncontrollable, insatiable, dangerous to the whole world, and implicated the 1st group is and made a pact with Russia/China for guaranteeing the US some "soft landing" instead of inevitable brutal, bloody confrontation preceding the collapse of the Empire.

Nothing mysterious here, usual organized crime/gang mechanics - when the old bosses becomes insane so that they are danger to everyone else by deluding themselves with dreams of total control, then lower, less implicated, still clearly thinking lower echelons make deal with the "good guys" about the terms of surrender.

Of course in the US case it's more complicated because of huge influence of the 1st group - they've been trying to start a civil war to remove Obama's team many times already (not to mention stolen nuclear weapons and biological warfare).

Posted by: ProPeace | Feb 10, 2016 5:29:10 PM | 100

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