Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 25, 2018

"Who Lost Turkey?" - The U.S.-Kurdish Project In Syria Endangers NATO

Back in the 1950s the U.S. political sphere was poisoned by a groundless smear campaign against country-experts in the State Department  who were identified as those who lost China. If the Trump administration proceeds on its current course we may soon see similar accusations. The accused, those "who lost Turkey", will again be the ones who warned of the possibility and not the real culprits.

The Turkish attack on the Kurd held Syrian canton of Afrin (Efrin) is not progressing as fast the Turks had hoped. The infantry component of the operation are Turkish proxy forces in Syria. These Chechen, Uighur, Turkestanis and other Takfiris are cannon fodder in the operations, not a well integrated component of an army.


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The Kurds know their local mountainous territory, are well armed and willing to fight. They can holdout for a while. Politically they will still be the ones who will lose the most in the conflict. The above linked piece noted that the Kurdish YPG/PKK leaders had rejected the Syrian and Russian government offer that would have prevented the Turkish attack. The offer still exists but the conditions will become less favorable as longer the Kurds hold out.

Elijah Magnier just published more details on that offer and analyses the strategic situation:

[T]he US is observing the performance of the Turkish army with interest and wishes to see Erdogan humiliated, broken on the rocks of the Kurds in Afrin. Indeed, the US has delivered anti-tank weapons, already effectively used by the Kurds against the Turkish army (many tanks damaged during the attack on Afrin).
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The US can’t understand that Ankara is not ready to see a rich and well-armed Kurdish “state” on its borders, disregarding the US’s tempting and generous offer [of a "safe zone" (see below)]. Actually, the US is offering a territory that not only does not belong to the Americans but is actually occupied by the US forces in north east Syria.

The US is one of the losers in this battle, regardless of the results, because Turkey will continue its operations until the defeat of the Kurds, either by military means or if Afrin returns to [Syrian] central government’s control.

I am not convinced that the above prediction will hold. There is still a possibility that Turkey might again change sides and (again) join the U.S. "regime change" efforts in Syria.

This depends on the winner of a conflict within the U.S. military where opposing forces are pulling for the Turkish and respectively the Kurdish side. Should the pro-Turkish side win, Erdogan can be offered a new deal and might be induced to again change sides from his current pro-Russian (pro-Damascus?) position back towards a pro-NATO/U.S. stand. (There is also a tiny chance that Turkey already has a secret back deal with the U.S. administration but I see no indication for it.)

From the very beginning of the conflict in Syria Turkey worked with the U.S., NATO, the Saudis and Qataris, against the Syrian government. It supported the Saudi and U.S. position of "regime change", let ten-thousands of terrorists pass through its borders and delivered ten-thousands of tons of weapons and supplies to the forces fighting the Syrian government. Finally Russia entered the picture, defeated the Takfiris, put harsh pressure on Turkey and offered new economic deals. At the same time the U.S. attempted "regime change" in Ankara and allied with the Kurdish YPG/PKK in Syria and Iraq.

Erdogan, though unwillingly, changed sides and now works with Russia (and Syria) to bring the war to a conclusion. "Regime change" in Damascus has become an unlikely scenario he no longer supports. At the same time he is still willing to invest money and forces to gain something for his failed investment in the war. Taking Afrin to later incorporate it into an enlarged Turkey is one of those plays. He is clearly still aiming for additional territory. The U.S. now offered him some in form of a safe zone in Syria:


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Ilhan tanir @WashingtonPoint - 7:50 PM - 24 Jan 2018
This map being discussed all day on Turkish TVs as Turkey’s planned security zone/safe zone on Syria border.
Reportedly OK’ed by Sec.Tillerson though nobody on the American side confirms it

If the U.S. indeed made the "safe zone" offer - Tillerson did not deny today to have made such - it found a rather cold response:

Washington’s proposal for the creation of a “security zone” along Turkey’s 911-kilometer border with Syria has received a cool reply from Ankara, with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu urging the U.S. to first take steps to “re-build trust” between the two allies before discussing such military matters.
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“The U.S. needs to stop delivering weapons to the YPG. It needs to push the YPG to withdrawing from Manbij if it wants to re-build confidence with Turkey … We have to see all these commitments fulfilled,” Çavuşoğlu said.

It is the U.S. supported founding of a Kurdish state-let in north-east Syria which is Ankara's most serious security concern. No "safe zone" will help if the U.S. military continues to build and supplies a Kurdish "border force" that can penetrate Turkey's south-eastern underbelly - now, tomorrow or in ten years. Unless the U.S. stops that project and retreats from the area Turkey will continue to push against it - if necessary by force.

The Turkish people support the fight against U.S. supported Kurds and are willing to pay the price for it. The Kurdish YPK leaders are delusional in their demands and overestimate their own political position. The U.S. can not have both, Turkey as an ally and a Kurdish proxy state-let. It has to decide.

Yesterday President Trump and Erdogan had a phonecall to discuss the situation. It did not help. The White House readout for the call includes some noticeably harsh language:

President Donald J. Trump spoke today with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. President Trump relayed concerns that escalating violence in Afrin, Syria, risks undercutting our shared goals in Syria. He urged Turkey to deescalate, limit its military actions, and avoid civilian casualties and increases to displaced persons and refugees.
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President Trump also expressed concern about destructive and false rhetoric coming from Turkey, and about United States citizens and local employees detained under the prolonged State of Emergency in Turkey.

The Turkish side denied that such language and these issues were part of the talk:

The White House's written statement differs from the truth discussed between the Turkish and U.S. Presidents' phone conversation on Wednesday, according to Anadolu Agency sources.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, the sources said President Donald Trump did not discuss any concerns 'of escalating violence in Afrin' during the phone call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
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The sources also stressed that President Trump did not use the words "destructive and false rhetoric coming from Turkey."
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They also said that there was no discussion of the ongoing state of emergency in Turkey.

It is very unusual to dispute the content of such readouts. Is Turkey obfuscating here or did someone in the White House put harsher language into the readout than was actually used in the call?

Trump had in general good relations with Erdogan and the readout language does not sound like him. The Turkish side also added this:

"In an answer to President Erdogan's highlighting request from Washington to stop providing arms to the PYD/YPG terrorists in Syria within the scope of fighting against terrorism, President Trump said the United States are no longer providing PYD/YPG with weapons," the sources added.

Already in November the Turks had said that Trump promised to stop the delivery of weapons to the YPG forces in east-Syria. But the White House was evasive on the issue and the U.S. military Central Command has acted contrary to that promise. If the Magnier report is correct CentCom also delivered anti-tank missiles to the Kurds in Afrin.

I have for some time presumed that are different opinions in the White House and especially in the Pentagon with regards to Turkey and the Kurds. The realist-hawks and NATO proponents are on Turkey's side while the neoconservative "liberal" forces are on the Kurdish side. Yesterday the NYT noted the split:

The White House sent out a message aimed at mollifying Turkey’s president on Tuesday, suggesting that the United States was easing off its support for the Syrian Kurds.

That message was quickly contradicted by the Pentagon, which said it would continue to stand by the Kurds, even as Turkey invaded their stronghold in northwestern Syria.

The former director of the Council of Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, takes the pro-Kurdish position. Linking to the NYT piece above he says:

Richard N. Haass‏ @RichardHaass - 12:00 PM - 24 Jan 2018
Pentagon right; US should be working w Kurds in Syria for moral and strategic reasons alike. A break with Erdogan’s Turkey is inevitable, if not over this than over other differences. Time for DoD to come up with plan to substitute for Incirlik access.

It is not only the Incirlik air-base which is irreplaceable for NATO's southern command. Turkey also controls the access to the Black Sea and has thereby a say over potential NATO operations against southern Russia and Crimea.

In a Bloomberg oped former U.S. Supreme Commander of NATO Stavridis takes a pro-Turkish position:

At the moment, Washington is trying to sail a narrow passage between supporting its erstwhile Kurdish combat partners and not blowing up the relationship with Turkey. But the room for maneuver is closing and a choice is looming. What should the U.S. do?
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[W]e simply cannot afford to "lose" Turkey.
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The Turks have a strong and diversified economy, a young and growing population, and have stood alongside the U.S. for much of the post-World War II era. Their importance both regionally and globally will continue to grow in the 21st century. Yes, U.S. officials can and should criticize Turkish actions where they violate international law or human rights -- but in private, at least at this stage of the situation.
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[T]he overall U.S. strategic interest lies in keeping Turkey aligned with NATO and the trans-Atlantic community. It would be a geopolitical mistake of near-epic proportions to see Turkey drift out of that orbit and end up aligned with Russia and Iran in the Levant.

It is unclear where in the Trump administration the split between pro-Kurdish and pro-Turkish positions actually is. (Or is it all around chaos?) On which side, for example, is Secretary of Defense Mattis and on which side is the National Security Advisor McMaster? This clip from the NYT piece above lets one assume that they pull in opposite directions:

For its part, the White House disavowed a plan by the American military to create a Kurdish-led force in northeastern Syria, which Turkey has vehemently opposed.
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That plan, a senior administration official said Tuesday, originated with midlevel military planners in the field, and was never seriously debated, or even formally introduced, at senior levels in the White House or the National Security Council.
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But the Pentagon issued its own statement on Tuesday standing by its decision to create the Kurdish-led force.

Discussing NATO relations with Turkey, several western "experts" agree that the current situation damages NATO but not one of them expects that Turkey will leave the alliance:

NATO needs Turkey and cannot afford to push it further into Russia’s arms. Erdoğan also needs NATO. He has overplayed his hand in Syria and in his struggle with the Kurds, and is isolated in the EU. His relationship with Moscow is problematic and he does not want to face Putin without NATO membership. This is an alliance that remains based on real strategic interests and that will continue long after Erdoğan is gone.

Maybe. I am not so sure.

The last thing the EU now wants or needs is Turkish membership. The U.S. instigated a coup against Erdogan and its Kurdish project is threatening Turkey's strategic interest. Trump's continued push to take Jerusalem "off the table" in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is an insult to all Muslims. An increasingly Islamic Turkey will not accept that. Turkey's natural gas supplies depend on Russia and Iran. Russia builds nuclear power stations in Turkey and will deliver air defense systems that can defend against U.S. attacks. Russia, Iran, Central Asia and beyond that China are markets for Turkish products.

Putting myself into Erdogan's shoes I would be very tempted to leave NATO and join an alliance with Russia, China and Iran. Unless the U.S. changes course and stops fooling around with the Kurds Turkey will continue to disentangle itself from the old alliance. The Turkish army has so far prevented a break with NATO but even staunch anti-Erdogan officers are now on his side.

If the U.S. makes a real offer to Turkey and adopts a new position it might be able to turn Turkey around and to put it back into its NATO fold. Is the Trump White House capable of defying the pro-Israel/pro-Kurdish voices and move back to that realist view?

If it can not do that the real answer to the question "Who lost Turkey?" will be obvious.

Posted by b on January 25, 2018 at 01:11 PM | Permalink

Comments
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Well written comment that asks all the right questions...time will give answers of course. The NATO meeting called by Germany will be extremely interesting and is bound to provide some further insight as to the direction this present conflict will take.

Posted by: 07564111 | Jan 25, 2018 1:35:09 PM | 1

fascinating post b.. thanks!

regarding elijah magniers comments and your response : "I am not convinced that the above prediction will hold. There is still a possibility that Turkey might again change sides and (again) join the U.S. "regime change" efforts in Syria." - that is my ongoing fear here...

as for the usa choosing between israel/ksa - going for kurdistan, and choosing turkey - i think the answer is obvious and i say this not fully believing that the usa was working on a coup in turkey to remove erdogan...

if erdogan was smart - i think he would continue to do exactly what he is now doing - playing the usa off russia and remaining in nato for as long as need be... why leave now? he has the best of it all... but i do believe the usa has already made a choice here and is hoping not to lose turkey in it all... not sure that they can flip back and convince turkey of their integrity when none of it remains!

so - we continue to muddle forward here.. israel/ksa work to curry favour with turkey, while the usa continues to talk out of both sides of it's mouth... putin watches it all waiting for the next stupid move any one of them make..

Posted by: james | Jan 25, 2018 1:43:13 PM | 2

Given that Trump's presidential primacy in foreign policy had been restricted by law by the Russia sanction bill, and that Trump has said that the military will have greater say in determining military related aspects of foreign policy, this begs the question as to who will gain primacy and how many different foreign policies will be developed in the absence or weakness of Trump. There were obvious disagreements within US foreign policy circles prior to Trump, but now in the absence weakness of Trump the CIA, State, military factions, neo-cons and bankers for starters could have quite the squabble fest. Every day, a new foreign policy turn of events, every day a dud repudiated.

Posted by: Robert Snefjella | Jan 25, 2018 1:49:47 PM | 3

Taking Afrin to later incorporate it into an enlarged Turkey is one of those plays. He is clearly still aiming for additional territory.
I really don't get this idea that Erdogan wants to enlarge his territory. There may once have been neo-Ottoman ideas, but they fade quickly when faced with reality. None of those territories in North Syria are inhabited by Turks. It would be an endless battle trying to integrate them into Turkey. They succeeded more or less in Hatay, but then there was already a a substantial Turkish population.

What Afrin is about is the fear of the development of a successful Kurdish state on the borders of Turkey, and its consequent effects on Kurds inside Turkey.

Afrin was chosen because it is the area of Syrian Kurdistan where there is no risk of a military confrontation with the US. So can be knocked off without likelihood of major war. Unfortunately Afrin is mountainous, and not a good target. We're seeing the results today.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 25, 2018 2:02:57 PM | 4

@4 "Afrin was chosen because it is the area of Syrian Kurdistan where there is no risk of a military confrontation with the US. So can be knocked off without likelihood of major war."

Right. Afrin is also the furthest Westward extension of Rojava so far. After Afrin the Kurds will try for access to the sea. That's why Erdogan is also going after Manbij.

The whole idea is to push the militants back Eastwards which would be a lot easier if they weren't getting US help.

Posted by: dh | Jan 25, 2018 2:14:24 PM | 5

@ 2 >>> playing the usa off russia and remaining in nato for as long as need be.

Yes ... Erdogan is greedy and arrogant and not to be trusted ( at present/if ever ) but what he is not is stupid. He fully understands that if NATO were to enters into a military conflict with Russia, that, as a NATO member he ( Turkey ) will suffer greatly. I have no problem predicting that sooner or later he will leave NATO so as not to see Turkey used as cannon fodder and be destroyed.

Posted by: 07564111 | Jan 25, 2018 2:17:17 PM | 6

Although I don't have any deep knowledge of Turkey, my guess is that Erdogan's attack on the Kurds is driven by his electorate, the not very sophisticated Anatolian Turks who fear the Kurds, or can be manipulated into fearing them (that's where my knowledge lacks). It's a very different world from Westernised Istanbul, but it's those people who elect him. Much like Trump's success in "fly-over country".

Evidently there's also a great dollop of megalomania. But staying in power is the basic point, not putting his power at risk through foreign adventures.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 25, 2018 2:33:21 PM | 7

@7 Sounds like you're saying the Turks have no reason to fear an independent US supported state on their southern border. Seems to me such a state would be the beginning of a much bigger Kurdistan (not without the usual Kurdish infighting though.)

Posted by: dh | Jan 25, 2018 2:41:12 PM | 8

Erdogan has switched sides so many times it is hard not to see Afrin as another bit of Turkish kabuki. Let's see Erdogan walk his talk and attack Manbij, then we can hypothesize about realignment.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Jan 25, 2018 2:41:39 PM | 9

One should not forget that the media control he has is so tough that the majority of the population does not know that the Kurds since some time do no longer insist on a own separate state. They offer the idea that all minorities should have guaranteed rights and some federal power. This vision is popular with the educated part of the younger generation and some parts of the middle class. - In Syria people are grateful to Assad for having saved their life but this does not mean on the middle run that they favour his political model. Central state, a ruling clique in its center, what leads to always high levels of corruption, not only in Syria. Compare Turkey, Iran, Iraq has similar troubles. My guess that this basic approach of YPG is the real nightmare for all of them.
There are always rumors of ethnic cleansing in Afrin. But whether it is true or not is damned difficult to access and it seems better to believe no such claims, including statements of the YPG.
Anybody here who knows todays real status of the fight?

Posted by: Hausmeister | Jan 25, 2018 3:01:55 PM | 10

@8

Sounds like you're saying the Turks have no reason to fear an independent US supported state on their southern border. Seems to me such a state would be the beginning of a much bigger Kurdistan (not without the usual Kurdish infighting though.)
Did I say that? I thought I was saying much the same as you.

The possibility exists though that the switch from the Tolerance-of-Kurds policy, which existed for a number of years, to the hardline suppression of Kurds line of today was a mistake, and wasn't needed to keep Erdogan in power. But Erdogan chose to go for the provoke-fear approach. Given that "provoke fear" is a very common policy in the West, both in UK and US, it may be that Erdogan got it from that. But was it the right choice, I ask (but don't know enough to judge)?

By the way, the idea that Rojava might have access to the sea is just fantasy. Unfortunately Hatay is in the way, inhabited by Turks and Syrians (and probably a few Kurds). Never happen.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 25, 2018 3:02:22 PM | 11

Turkey was lost by the CIA/State Dept of Obama. They undermined the Air Force of Turkey as part of the plot to assassinate Erdogan, not just remove him. He was to be shot out of the sky. Russian Intel services SVR and GRU saved him and protect him still, as well as have worked with his military to help rebuild morale, discipline and fealty.

Nothing the US has done erases the attempt on his life. The Pentagon has charted a new Syrian War that threatens Turkey's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Israelis hope to use the Kurds to split the Eastern half of Turkey away from Ankara.

Erdogan must ally with Iran and Russia and accommodate Syria in order to survive.

NATO is actually a side issue. The US does not trust Erdogan and the Turkish military, and have moved to use Poland as the bulwark for NATO strength.

I expect that Erdogan will be the target for later demonization and elimination.

The first target in the Middle East is still Assad. The strategic efforts of US and Israel are to limit Russia and eventually push Russia back to the Black Sea.

The Syrian Kurds are in for some devastating hits in the coming months. They either make a deal with Assad at Astana or Geneva or Sochi or they will be met with a Turk-Russian-Iranian war they cannot handle.

What the US does and for how long depends completely on the use of their proxies.
Al Nusra and AQ are still a problem. Leftover ISIS are still a problem and the Kurds are presently a problem.

But none of these groups can take Russian aerospace pounding and the ground force of Syria-Hezbollah-PMU-PMC for too long. 2018 will be bloody, but it will see the abject destruction of all US proxies.

What is clear from Operation Olive Branch is the Turks do not know how to fight this war. They have costly losses, captured men, lost tanks and seem not to have a coherent grasp on what they themselves have planned.

Their work in Afrin will assist Assad and not accrue to themselves.
Russia will accomplish more with diplomacy than the Turks with their military operations.
But what the Turks operation does do is begin the decimation of US proxy power. The Kurds will eventually call Putin and ask him to stop the war. Erdogan will obey Putin. US will have nothing to say about it.

Russia's proxies have won the first Syrian war, and they will win the second Syrian war just beginning. The US, as always, lost the first and will lose the second war, too.

Posted by: Red Ryder | Jan 25, 2018 3:06:22 PM | 12

In all of this mess created by deluded idiots in the Pentagon and other agencies of the US government, in which (the various departments, that is) each and every person knows not what his right hand is doing let alone his left, one has to wonder what other members of NATO think about the potential the Americans' Kurdish project has to break up NATO.

Are Germany et al prepared for a NATO without Turkey? Do they think NATO would be better off without Turkey or worse off? Could Greece be persuaded to buy more military hardware it does not need from France and Germany if Turkey were out of NATO?

Posted by: Jen | Jan 25, 2018 3:13:07 PM | 13

yes, james this is what the picture is increasingly going to shape up into - i´m afraid to.
But moscow has two strong cards in the game the snag is whether Badvlad will still think it worth while.
And here is where Beijing could make Ankara an unrejectable offer, you guess it.

Posted by: augusto | Jan 25, 2018 3:20:29 PM | 14

@ Red Ryder | Jan 25, 2018 3:06:22 PM | 13

You might be right on!

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/breaking-kurdish-government-officially-calls-syrian-army-protect-afrin-turkey/

Posted by: ex-SA | Jan 25, 2018 3:20:34 PM | 15

why would any imperialist policy maker prefer working with a new Kurdish mini-state rather than an established ally like Turkey. A land-locked and illegitimate kurdish state, at that.

this is like a bird in hand (Turkey) is worth 30,000 kurds (I mean birds) in the bush. the neo-cons and liberal-interventionists like Haas et. al. are imperial dreamers and idiots.

the Kurds will lose in Syria like they lost in Iraq, though this will likely take longer as there are more state-actors involved.

and who the hell has given the US the right to set up or offer some kind of "safe area" on Syrian soil?

Posted by: michaelj72 | Jan 25, 2018 3:21:01 PM | 16

@6 07564111.. thanks.. we'll see how it unfolds..

@ 13 red ryder.. insightful comments.. we'll see how it goes, but i like your optimism on the outcome..

@15 augusto.. well, i keep thinking putin is in it for the long term.. it would be a big disappointment to find out otherwise! any chinese involvement would certainly tip the scale here..

@17 michael... regarding your question at the end - yes... bears repeating given the outrageousness of it all..

Posted by: james | Jan 25, 2018 3:38:22 PM | 17

@ Red Ryder: keep a deep sleeping!
ex-SA | Jan 25, 2018 3:20:34 PM | 16
For credibility toward the readers
You have to provid with links from the Kurdish sources in Afrin, and not from shit of the bats.

Posted by: ALAN | Jan 25, 2018 3:43:30 PM | 18

The big question is whether all this palaver between the Turks and the Syrian Kurds was really necessary. There was a policy in Turkey for a long time of tolerance of the Kurds. I can't find much in Wiki, as the articles are all about conflict. The policy worked pretty well, and peace blossomed, apart from the hardline PKK in the mountains. Then suddenly Erdogan turned against the Kurds, and cracked down. I'm pretty convinced that was a big mistake. The result has been an ever-developing militarised situation, in which invading North Syria has become a necessary element, to destroy Rojava, but not necessarily a successful one. It's unlikely that Turkey can take Afrin, because a mountainous area is difficult to overrun. Erdogan is heading for a beating. Whether that will affect his electoral chances, I hesitate to say.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 25, 2018 3:45:46 PM | 19

I find the article precise.
I find the comments a little confusing.

Let me remind you this:

U.S. tweaks re policy on Turkey are updated more often than Kaspersky's virus definition database.

Turks: What are you trying to do?
U.S.: Huh?
Turks: PYD = PKK
U.S.: SDF
Turks:SDF = 99% PKK
U.S.: Our land forces
Turks: You gave them 5000 trucks of weapons.
U.S.: Border Patrolling
Turks: We will conduct a military operation in Afrin, Syria
U.S.: calls on #Turkey not to deploy forces to Afrin in #Syria
Turks: We will
U.S.: We have no interest in Afrin.
Turks: Operation Olive Branch
U.S.: Stop
Turks: Manbij next
U.S.: We are prepared to work with Turkey on legitimate security concerns
Turks: Erdogan asked Trump to withdraw US forces from Manbij
U.S: There are no US forces in Afrin but there are in Manbij
Turks: TAF jets reportedly hit YPG targets in Manbij again
U.S.: The Pentagon says it is continuing its talks with Ankara on a proposal to create safe areas along the Turkish-Syrian border
Turks: Turkish FM says it would not be right for Turkey and the US to discuss a potential "safe zone" in Syria until trust issues between the two NATO allies are resolved

Posted by: ConfusedPundit | Jan 25, 2018 3:50:16 PM | 20

@12 My apologies for any misunderstanding. I'm sure the "not very sophisticated Anatolian Turks" have a better handle on the Kurds than either of us. They've been dealing with them for centuries and they don't trust them an inch.

I don't think Rojava is going to happen (without massive US involvment) but I'm sure reaching the sea is part of the dream....either through Hatay or Idlib.

Posted by: dh | Jan 25, 2018 3:56:34 PM | 21

Just to repeat the obvious, the Rojavan Kurds are not necessarily very keen on the independence the US is offering. Independence is an American idea, part of their policy to break up Syria. The Kurds have always been planning to make a deal with Asad, as the most likely outcome. But it is very difficult to say no to the US, especially when there are US troops there. But there are signs of disagreement. The attempted attack on the Syrian base still existing in Qamishli (or was it Khassekeh?) is the best sign. Though no doubt stimulated by the US, it only lasted a day before being called off.

Not surprising that Syria is supporting the Kurds over Afrin.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 25, 2018 4:06:45 PM | 22

@20 Erdogan's big mistake was joining the anti-Assad coalition. The result has been chaos and the militant Syrian Kurds have taken advantage. Erdogan seems clumsy and his Afrin campaign could easily get bogged down.

That doesn't mean the Kurds will come out on top. Unfortunately it's hard to get an idea of how much support the militant Kurds have in Afrin. It could easily evaporate without US help....as happened with Barzani in Iraq.

Posted by: dh | Jan 25, 2018 4:09:50 PM | 23

@13 rr

You connect the dots well. I might further estimate that instead of running to the east so quickly, with Turkey becoming THEIR lap dog, Erdogan has utilized theater (possibly in Afrin and elsewhere) to leverage their position in the future of the emerging Eastern-alliance. Erdogan is thankful, but perhaps does not want to appear too eager. Who knows, he might have been instructed from the Judo-enthusiast Putin to let Erdogan's ex-(homicidal)-lovers off slowly, so as not to inspire an emotional reaction, as this might be why he has held his enemies (the US) close in the past year-and-a-half since the attempted coup.

They were all hoping the Kurds would take the bait and give up Afrin, but seeing as how this has not transpired, Erdogan is earning his keep and lessening the buy-in to the big-boy table by pulverising the Syrian-Kurds. Everyone wins but the Yanks and the Kurds for cozying up to Uncle Sambo.

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Jan 25, 2018 4:19:01 PM | 24

"If the U.S. makes a real offer to Turkey and adopts a new position it might be able to turn Turkey around and to put it back into its NATO fold."

Wondering what "new position"? The fact is the US has no leverage at all. Everything is out of control. The second thing so is that sovereignty trump friendship, always! And the Turks are quite serious and sensitive when it comes to sovereignty, Just like the Russians. In particular sensitive when the White man starts to messing around their borders. I assume reason being both countries have experienced terrible costs of dismantling their respective
mega-states by the west.

For some on the West (and for Moscow as well) that Turkey is still on Bosporus and Dardanelles and holding the keys of them is still something they can fathom.

Posted by: Partisan | Jan 25, 2018 4:19:02 PM | 25

Predicting the outcome in a contest involving the US, Turkey, and the Kurds (and their backers in Israel) is like trying to determine the next moves in a poker game where all three players are cheating with cards up their sleeves. One can state where the likely strategic outcomes and objectives may lie but it's hard to predict where that winning ace will come from.

Posted by: WorldBLee | Jan 25, 2018 4:25:04 PM | 26

Kurdistan maps..
http://www.mappery.com/maps/Kurdistan-Kurd-Homeland-Map.gif
A quick search brings up a lot of images of Kurdistan stretching from the Mediterranean to the gulf. Much better country for the empire to base itself. Who needs Turkey, or whats left of it after Kurdistan is created.
How many neo-cons/powers that be are pushing for Kurdistan and how many want to keep Turkey in NATO at the expense of the Kurdistan project?
Might be what a lot of the recent half assed US moves have been about lately. Some pulling one way and some the other.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 25, 2018 4:29:45 PM | 27

TSecretary of State Rex Tillerson answered journalists’ questions at the World Economic Forum in Davos city of Switzerland.

Tillerson said they discussed a number of possible options but did not propose a safe zone to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Syria.

https://anfenglish.com/news/tillerson-we-didn-t-propose-a-safe-zone-24457

I couldn't find confirmation of this. But given erratic behavior of Americans I wouldn't be surprised if true. It appears that the Turkish Gov. did not want to talk with the Americans about the Safe Zone at all.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-turkey-usa/turkey-says-not-right-to-discuss-syrian-safe-zone-with-u-s-hurriyet-idUSKBN1FE186?il=0

Posted by: Partisan | Jan 25, 2018 4:29:52 PM | 28

Is it possible that the SAA is only attacking insurgents in Idlib that Turkey views, either clandestinely or not, as expendable? Will the SAA allow a Turkish proxy state in Afrin, beneficial to Syria for eradicating the competing factions of jihadists in Idlib, and good for Iran because a setup like that would be a permanent hindrance to Kurdish ambition?

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Jan 25, 2018 4:30:14 PM | 29

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-42826253

This adds grist to Laguerre's hypothesis.

It's a serious mistake to tease the Kurds as one, imho. Still, it's a bit of a dangerous way to gain negotiating points though.

Posted by: et Al | Jan 25, 2018 4:31:18 PM | 30

@34 mistake

"Iran" should have been "Turkey."

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Jan 25, 2018 4:31:23 PM | 31

Tease = treat! &$$&&autocorrect!

Posted by: et Al | Jan 25, 2018 4:33:06 PM | 32

For the depth of NATO's involvement with the aggression against Syria, one need only look at the continuing propaganda support for the White Helmet terrorist organization as Vanessa Beeley outlines. I think it's very clear NATO will not cease trying to achieve its goal of ousting Assad. And of course, NATO's policy's directed by the Outlaw US Empire.

Russia knows Turkey better than any NATO country, particularly where its national interests truly reside. The attempt by US/EU to strangle the TurkStream project was a direct attack on those national interests. Erdogan, however, continued its promotion, so Obama tried to have him killed. The promotion of Kurdistan is also a direct attack on Turkish national interests. And there are several other longstanding anti-Turkish issues that will never be solved in Turkey's favor--EU entry denial being the most important and well known. Erdogan has instead turned to the SCO:

"Turkey, a member of NATO, was granted dialogue partner status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at the group's 2012 summit in Beijing.[12] Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has stated that he has discussed the possibility of abandoning Turkey's European Union membership candidacy in return for full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.[22] This was reinforced again on 21 November 2016, after the European Parliament voted unanimously to suspend accession negotiations with Turkey.[23] Two days later, on 23 November 2016, Turkey was granted the chairmanship of the energy club of SCO for the 2017 period. That made Turkey the first country to chair a club in the organisation without full membership status."

Just looking at where the current and future economic power of Eurasia's located ought to be enough to inform anyone as to which direction Turkey will take. The only way the Outlaw US Empire can prevent that from occurring is to take control of Turkey's government as it did Ukraine's.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 25, 2018 4:43:53 PM | 33

@Laguerre Almost everything you are saying is WRONG. One couldn't get it so wrong even if one were a paid troll. Please don't be upset because I'm not trying to insult you or anything. Apologies in advance if I sound abrupt. Check your facts first and your sources too. It sounds like somebody is having you on. But if you are doing this on purpose then it's up to you. It's a free world. Best regards.

Posted by: ConfusedPundit | Jan 25, 2018 4:53:08 PM | 34

Here's a thought... given ZATO's propensity to disguise their troops locals, why doesn't Syria & her allies do the same in assisting Turkey? They're embedded presence would insure Turkey stays on point and achieve quicker results in retaking the remaining occupied areas... it's a win-win... what's not to like?

Posted by: xLemming | Jan 25, 2018 4:55:45 PM | 35

The very latest Turkish's issue with the West is the German Gov. refusal to upgrade Leopard 2 MBT due to Afrin. This is Just one more issue in long string that dependency on "partners" technology caused to Turkish military. Of course this has its political dimension.

It reminds me on the Turkish dreadnought that were ordered, paid and build in British shipyards in eve of WWI and than Churchill refused to deliver them.

Posted by: Partisan | Jan 25, 2018 5:01:04 PM | 36

Erdogan is definitely not fond of NATO.
(I'm reminded of Grouch Marx's remark: "I wouldn't join any club that would have me as a member.")

Reuters, Oct 12, 2016

Exclusive: Turkey purges NATO military envoys after failed coup
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Turkey has fired hundreds of senior military staff serving at NATO in Europe and the United States following July’s coup attempt, documents show, broadening a purge to include some of the armed forces’ best-trained officials.
In a classified military dispatch seen by Reuters, 149 military envoys posted to the alliance’s headquarters and command centers in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Britain were ordered on Sept. 27 to return to Turkey within three days.
Most were dismissed from service on their arrival, arrested and imprisoned, according to a Turkish military official at NATO and two farewell letters sent by departing Turkish officials emailed to colleagues at NATO and seen by Reuters.

Independent, Nov 17, 2017
Nato apologises to Turkey after 'Erdogan and Ataturk depicted as enemies' in joint exercise
Forty Turkish soldiers withdrawn from Norway drills
Nato’s chief has apologised to Turkey after the country’s leaders were allegedly depicted as “enemies” in a joint military exercise.
Both current president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s and reforming ex-leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s names were involved in the reported incident in Norway.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 25, 2018 5:01:38 PM | 37

OT but sort of breaking news ...

Dutch hackers infiltrated Cozy Bear HQ in an university building at Kremlin’s Red Square. Once inside the Cozy Bear computer network the Dutch managed to take control of the security camera at the entrance to the computer room. A photo of each person entering the secure location was gathered. All the intelligence was shared real time with the NSA as the Dutch civil (AIVD) and military intelligence (MIVD) are part of the AngloSaxon nine-eyes spy network.

The Russians succeeded to infiltrate inside the White House and compromise e-mail and communications traffic.

In July 2015 Cozy Bear infiltrated DNC computer systems.

Further reading in my new diary @BooMan

Dutch Hackers Infiltrated Kremlin’s Cozy Bear in 2014

Posted by: Oui | Jan 25, 2018 5:04:23 PM | 38

@confused pundit

Almost everything you are saying is WRONG.
So what is it that is wrong? Give us a rant on your point of view.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 25, 2018 5:06:41 PM | 39

re 43 oui

So what is new? The Russians penetrated the Americans, and the Americans penetrated the Russians, and the Dutch penetrated both, as did the British, and no doubt lots of others.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 25, 2018 5:13:38 PM | 40

If you're connected to the internet, anything is penetrable.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 25, 2018 5:19:12 PM | 41

b asks if WH put harsher language into the readout but it seems to me that Erdogan’s objection to the readout is simply nonsensical and argumentative.. The phrases that he objects to diplomatically encapsulate talking points. That is done all the time.

- “escalating violence in Afrin” is better than bluntly speaking of Turkey’s illegal aggression;

- “destructive and false rhetoric” probably refers to Turkey’s (outrageous) claim that ISIS had a presence in Afrin;

- The US readout didnt say that there was a discussion of the state of emergency - it said that there was a discussion about US citizens and local employees that have been detained

Why is Erdogan being difficult? Is it because he seeks a confrontation or that he wants to push-back before pulling-back? US has said that they will not change their strategy (as I predicted). Turkey’s attack on Afrin will accomplish little of substance.

NATO will, of course, side with USA.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 25, 2018 5:57:53 PM | 42

Here is a piece by Robert Fisk on life in the Syrian Army divisions charged with retaking Idlib. It is old school journalism in that Fisk has largely kept his opinions to himself and instead reports on what he sees and hears up at the front.

Fisk can be trusted on that stuff, its when he goes flighty with his Lebanese gossip and the 'opinions' he derives from that he is dubious, fortunately despite the subject of the Harriri assassination being brought up by a Syrian Army officer he shows some restraint - perhaps he is beginning to suspect he had the wrong end of that stick (Fisk always maintained the bombing was a Syrian plot despite a tonne of evidence to the contrary).
The local military commander of the Syrian forces says he reckons it will take about another three years to scrape the shit off their shoes, be rid of the islamist arseholes.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Jan 25, 2018 6:02:55 PM | 43

@ 23
I can understand why the Kurds want autonomy but not independence with all that comes with it. There are many autonomous areas in the world (seen here) and Syria has offered to consider Kurdish autonomy. “This topic is open to negotiation and discussion and when we are done eliminating Daesh (Islamic State), we can sit with our Kurdish sons and reach an understanding on a formula for the future,” [FM] Moualem said.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 25, 2018 6:25:49 PM | 44

The best strategic option for the U.S. is to "lose Turkey, but gain the Medians"! Let me explain. I have been pushing for the creation of a regional union in Central Asia for some time. This union would be like the European Union (or US) and encompass All the Stan's (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikestan etc), Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Turkey and Iran, would form the heart of the Union like Germany and France in the creation of the EU. My logic is simple: (1) Turkey has been kicked out of the EU (basically), its membership battle is over. Establishing the Median Union would be a face saving measure for Turkey (2) Russians are trying to suck Turkey into the EAEU - as an alternate membership option for Turkey - and there has to be another alternative besides the EAEU for Turkey (otherwise it WILL join the EAEU) (3) Absorbing Iran, could be means of moderating Iran, and bringing Iran into a western fold (4) There already exists an organization called the ECO (which encompasses these countries). (5) This Union could serve as a major regional economic engine and help places like Afghanistan and Pakistan (to just name a few, but Tajikestan is a likely candidate too), come out of economic hell and demise (and NOT fall into Russia/Chinese laps). (6) Many regional issues are multi-lateral - take Kurds for example, or the Caspian Sea for example. It involves multiple states, and is best dealt with on a regional basis (which the Union could provide a pretext for).

I could go on and on. But, the way to NOT lose Turkey, is to give Turkey a decent alternative. I am saying the creation of a new Regional Union would be it.

This should be a top US priority. (better than invading Iran, and cutting the JCPOA). With Turkey as a leader in the Union, the whole region could become western leaning, a great counter to Russian, Chinese - even Indian dominance. (Yes, India is an ally today, but do people in Washington really know or understand political dynamics in India? Modi is here, will he be there in 10 years?)

The US should stabilize the region with the creation of a regional union. Create a central bank for the Union, create a progressive forward looking central administration, then build roads, airports, etc. and create an Engine for global economic growth, pro-west, a massive new market ... sort of like China was say 20 years ago?

Nothing lost. Everything to gain.

Posted by: Supreme Ayatoilet | Jan 25, 2018 6:42:55 PM | 45

Trump seems to play both sides of the security state, but the establishment wins these skirmishes, with the opposing faction getting tokens, like the jihadi school in the Syrian desert and half hearted Kurdish balkanized statelet. CENTCOM can keep delivering the arms appropriated for this year, but those stockpiles and budgets will get smaller. Even if rangers direct PKK raids on Turkish/Syrian/FSA arms depots, there are only so many ATGMs. The PKK knows how to fight with ieds and small arms, it could be a boon for American and Israeli anti IED radio gear sellers, drone shops, FLIR and other advanced optics manufacturers, the US will tut tut unless forced to do something else.


Erdogan doesn't need the US like Israel or Ukraine's Regimes need it, but if he strays too far, pressure could be applied to gccs and the EU to truly damage Turkey's economy. Much worse than Russian boycotts. He plays along with Russia but the prevailing Turkish ideology is similar to that of the US from 2001-2016, bloodthirsty and crying out for the death of the evil others. Erdogan will not leave Syria without a real struggle. I don't think those with ultimate power care, they don't like being defied, so they'll see Turkey bleed, maybe damage the Leopard 2 and Otokar Kobra's reputation to sell a few more surplus tanks and mraps to Gulfies, but that's all.

Posted by: Pespi | Jan 25, 2018 6:52:24 PM | 46

@45 It's possible that the majority of Syrian Kurds would be happy with autonomy. That doesn't explain what the militants are fighting for. Probably the young idealistic ones believe in some mystical Kurdish democratic state as promised by the US.

Posted by: dh | Jan 25, 2018 6:58:38 PM | 47

@Don Bacon

It’s interesting to delve into how the Kurds are thinking about their future.

1) It is Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria that are adamantly opposed to a Kurdish state - only if one of these is weakened, if not completely overcome/overthrown, is a Kurdish state be possible.

2) Even if there is an opportunity to create a Kurdish state, there are many risks so the support of one or more major powers is really helpful.

3) Is a self-governing, ‘autonomous areas’ sufficient to protect Kurds and promote Kurdish interests?

4) Assad can not live forever. What comes after Assad?

5) What are the downsides to picking the wrong side? Kurds have already established themselves sufficiently that they have essentially won ‘autonomy’ there is not going to be a return to being ruled in Syria or Iraq.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 25, 2018 7:08:55 PM | 48

Not sure why this did not post, but I am trying again. I think its relevant to the article, not offensive and adds value to the discussion. I never thought this site was censored. Anyway, trying to re-post.

The best strategic option for the U.S. is to "lose Turkey, but gain the Medians"! Let me explain. I have been pushing for the creation of a regional union in Central Asia for some time. This union would be like the European Union (or US) and encompass All the Stan's (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikestan etc), Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Turkey and Iran, would form the heart of the Union like Germany and France in the creation of the EU. My logic is simple: (1) Turkey has been kicked out of the EU (basically), its membership battle is over. Establishing the Median Union would be a face saving measure for Turkey (2) Russians are trying to suck Turkey into the EAEU - as an alternate membership option for Turkey - and there has to be another alternative besides the EAEU for Turkey (otherwise it WILL join the EAEU) (3) Absorbing Iran, could be means of moderating Iran, and bringing Iran into a western fold (4) There already exists an organization called the ECO (which encompasses these countries). (5) This Union could serve as a major regional economic engine and help places like Afghanistan and Pakistan (to just name a few, but Tajikestan is a likely candidate too), come out of economic hell and demise (and NOT fall into Russia/Chinese laps). (6) Many regional issues are multi-lateral - take Kurds for example, or the Caspian Sea for example. It involves multiple states, and is best dealt with on a regional basis (which the Union could provide a pretext for).

I could go on and on. But, the way to NOT lose Turkey, is to give Turkey a decent alternative. I am saying the creation of a new Regional Union would be it.

This should be a top US priority. (better than invading Iran, and cutting the JCPOA). With Turkey as a leader in the Union, the whole region could become western leaning, a great counter to Russian, Chinese - even Indian dominance. (Yes, India is an ally today, but do people in Washington really know or understand political dynamics in India? Modi is here, will he be there in 10 years?)

The US should stabilize the region with the creation of a regional union. Create a central bank for the Union, create a progressive forward looking central administration, then build roads, airports, etc. and create an Engine for global economic growth, pro-west, a massive new market ... sort of like China was say 20 years ago?

Nothing lost. Everything to gain.

Posted by: Ayatoilet | Jan 25, 2018 7:20:27 PM | 49

I stand by my hypothesis that Trump is simply a historically weak POTUS, which means that I also assume b's thesis of a palacian coup happened (the military junta made of Mattis, Kelly and McMaster is using Trump as a puppet, like a child Emperor) is true.

It fits: it explains Trump's sudden exchanges of humor and foreign policy, the discrepancy between what he tweets, the official WH statements and what the Pentagon state, and the fact that the Pentagon and the CIA are frequently crossing each other (it has happened before, but now it is the rule, not the exception). It also explains why the American Left (the liberals, the Democrats) and the other First Worlders are so publically pissed about Trump being elected (he is eroding America's, therefore Western Civilization's, image to the rest of the world).

Trump's government also explains why the Pentagon and the CIA don't do palacian coups more often. There seems to be many internal factions in them and between them, many of them philosophical. The dirigent body of the American military and paramiliary forces may simply prefer to defer to the legitimacy of the figure of a POTUS and preserve internal equilibrium between those factions and the giant pot of gold which is the American private sector (in the USA, military and corporate careers often entwine).

Posted by: VK | Jan 25, 2018 7:40:04 PM | 50

FYI

When I say @43 that US policy won’t change what I means is the core strategy of alliance with Kurds will not change. But there have been some (minor) changes around the edges to address Turk concerns. Much of that seems like lip service but have some substance: reiterating the commitment to not arm the Kurds, saying that Turkey has legitimate security concerns, etc.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 25, 2018 7:49:56 PM | 51

B said : « If the U.S. makes a real offer to Turkey and adopts a new position it might be able to turn Turkey around and to put it back into its NATO fold. Is the Trump White House capable of defying the pro-Israel/pro-Kurdish voices and move back to that realist view? »

Are you kidding? This century, Turkey has been the most unreliable partner. Add to that the actual push toward ethnocide, you get an ugly picture. Erdo was certainly unhappy to have been rejected by Europe : he could have expelled millions of Kurds up north, no passport needed.
As for Afrin, I may be dreaming but I hope he will have his ass kicked. The best way to flush him down the sewers of history.

Posted by: DemiJohn | Jan 25, 2018 7:56:03 PM | 52

And if Erdo is unreliable to us, it will be also for Vlad.

Posted by: DemiJohn | Jan 25, 2018 7:59:28 PM | 53

I believe that the US will continue to try to kill Erdogan and manipulate the resulting transition.

Just because the US has failed in the past does not keep them form repeating the effort until successful......and chaos has always worked well for TPTB.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 25, 2018 9:28:52 PM | 54

Ziad Fadel has a nice, tight analysis of the Afrin situation published today:
Turkey Invades And Now The Big Question: What Will Syria Do To Stop Erdoghan?

It says little we don't already know, and adds nothing in terms of breaking tactical news, but strategically Fadel holds no doubt as to the outcome, and also names the true authorship of the "loss of Turkey":

This U.S. plan to create a new state is a Zionist one, as I’ve written before. It is very poorly thought out and did not take into consideration Turkey’s oft-stated opposition to any Kurdish enclave, statelet or entity on Turkey’s southern border with Syria. The U.S. can try to assuage hurt feelings all it likes, but, the fact remains that a Kurdish state is a core security issue for Ankara. There will be no compromise on this issue and the Turks will dash any hopes the U.S. might be entertaining of a permanent base in Syria. You are watching a tragedy taking place as scripted by utter morons

I've already said I agree with everyone. All smart commentators and commenters are saying roughly the same thing. This is a win-win for all the players of the resistance axis, including Turkey. History smiles on this move. It will be over when its moment is done, and Syria will have advanced its strength and its position manifold. We get to watch patiently as the commanders of the theater conduct a superb campaign.

Posted by: Grieved | Jan 25, 2018 9:36:46 PM | 55

@39

I read the story, but all I see are claims with nothing to substantiate them. Interesting, but where's the evidence? Perhaps I'm missing something, but it failed to impress.

Posted by: T Maximus | Jan 25, 2018 9:58:48 PM | 56

I have to say that of all the players, it is the Syrian government which is dealing with this mess the best. They are in no state to worry about either the North Eastern or the North Western pockets of occupation until the Takfiris in and around Idlib have been dealt with, so Syria isn't wasting resources or troops on silly escapades, they are protesting loudly about US, Israeli and Turkish colonial incursions, but not allowing themselves to be diverted militarily until the Idlib area has been fumigated of all pests. What happens in a year or so will depend on what Turkey is up to - maybe they will clean out the kurds and hand it all back to Syria or, maybe old erdy will decide he wants a slice. If it is the latter the Syrian army with Russian airsupport will proceed North outta Idlib towards Afrin.
If erdy gives a little and takes less, Syria will go to the North West and chase out those arsehole amerikan/Saudi/Qatari/israeli shitbags for hire, before explaining the way of the new ME to Erdy.
It is important to remember that while this trouble bubbles, the Syrian Army has been transforming from a luck of the draft dumping ground for young blokes eager to enter the labour market, into a professional, well trained and equipped instrument of war. As time passes the Syrian Army gets better while their enemies become more & more a fractious, less well resourced and increasingly ineptly co-ordinated gang of amateurs.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Jan 25, 2018 10:34:46 PM | 57

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 25, 2018 4:29:45 PM | 28

I think you're on target with your comment. Also, I don't believe Jared has asked the Kurds themselves whether they're on board or not. Let me explain.

1. Remember that both Pence and Tillerson were outspoken Never Trumpers. Pence was promised that he'd be 100% in charge of policy and all day to day decisions. When he asked Trump what he intended to be doing he replied: "I'll be busy making America Great Again." Whatever deal and contract wound up being signed between them, I think the tomahawk missile attack on Syria violated the details and revoked most of Pence's authority.
2. Several, including Bannon have stated that Jared is in charge of ME policy. So, what did Jared offer to Exxon and Tillerson in exchange for the SOS position? I believe he / they are slated to become the King of Kurdistan. "King" is the only thing that Tillerson hasn't had in his life; yet.

Here's another map that's a little different than the one linked by Peter AU1. The Kurdish Project - https: //thekurdishproject.org/kurdistan-map/ (remove the space) Notice the potential for deep water ports on the Mediterranean, Black, and Caspian Seas. Tillerson's role with Exxon provided him with an unique understanding of exactly how much $$ that Erdogan was able to steal without consequence and leaves the pit bulls' jowels dribbling with saliva, as if a rib eye steak's aroma was wafting thru the room, with jealous envy.
Bernie Sanders figured out that he could double down and REALLY monetize the scam that Ron Paul executed against the Republican voters in 2012; which he executed to perfection. I believe Exxon / Tillerson have figured out that they are going to REALLY monetize the oil theft that Erdogan executed with Kurdistan and his name will be written in the history books as a King. Trump wants out of Nato. The Pentagon wants ports, runways and to surround Russia. Whether Turkey remains in Nato or not is inconsequential to Jared and Greater Israel.

Posted by: mrd | Jan 25, 2018 10:54:46 PM | 58

@58 mrd... lol... jared might be a complete ignoramus, but i don't believe israel is... as for this whackadoodle idea you're suggesting - forget it.. ain't happening.. the usa is falling apart as we speak.. sure - they can cause ww3 and a lot of mayhem but the wheels are coming off the empire as we watch in real time... and that empire includes the pipe dream presently known as israel, ksa and much else too.. they may still get their war on iran, but this is not going to end pretty for usa or that jackass jared.. brace yourself for something very different..

Posted by: james | Jan 25, 2018 11:08:16 PM | 59

Thanks very much, b.
This is a very comprehensive, thorough, and classy, piece of analysis. I've read many opinions and perspectives on Turkey's Afrin adventure and none of them covers as many salient factors as this one.
Henceforth, anyone interested in understanding, and following progress in Afrin, can keep themselves abreast of the unfolding drama using info from this essay as a "How To Make Sense of Afrin" guidebook.
Some recently-published analysts are going to have to revise what they've written, if they want to stay relevant...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 25, 2018 11:57:35 PM | 60

Dear @Laguerre

I suspect your real father is not even the milkman but rather Goebbels himself. LOL, can you take jokes? I can.

Here is what you wrote. I think you are subjected to some WW2 era style propaganda on your part of the world. Please turn off the radio.

Laguerre: "I really don't get this idea that Erdogan wants to enlarge his territory. There may once have been neo-Ottoman ideas, but they fade quickly when faced with reality. None of those territories in North Syria are inhabited by Turks. It would be an endless battle trying to integrate them into Turkey. They succeeded more or less in Hatay, but then there was already a a substantial Turkish population."

You real think so? Let's take AFRIN as an example. Bring any map to the table. Google it, check out the wikimapia, any map you like.

Now, tell me why most of the names of the villages in Afrin have Turkish names?

(Direct translation)
Qurt Qulaq (Kurt Kulagi, Wolf's Ear in Turkish)
Qarah Tabbah (Kara Tepe or Black Hill in Turkish)
Iki Akhuz (Iki Okuz or 2 Oxen in Turkish)
Kuri Kul (Kuru Kol or Dry Branch, Arm in Turkish)
Sharanli (Serenli)
Umranli
Shamanli (Cemenli)
Kuranli
Qutanli (Kutanli)
Sulaqli (Sulakli)
Maskanli (Meskenli)
Sati Ushagi (Usagi)
Arab Ushagi
Sari Ushagi
Mamal Ushagi
Babak Ushagi
Ramadanli (Ramazanli)
Shorba Ughlu (Corba Oglu)
Hay Ughlu (Hey Oglu)

And on and on and on

Now please tell me, who named them? Kurds? Turks? Syrian Arabs? Who? Why?
Why didn't the Kurds change their names? Or is it that the Kurds just returned to their lands and they will rename them soon?

Dear Laguerre, Afrin is not a Kurdish, PKK, SDF, YPG, PYD, Freedom Fighters or whatever you call them, region. It has been predominantly Turkmen and Arab populated region.

Are you saying that it was stolen from the Kurds? What you wrote above and me under it is obvious. Now tell me who's making a big mistake here? Your version is untrue? Or mine?

I only wrote about Afrin. You want the rest of the Northern Syria?

Posted by: ConfusedPundit | Jan 26, 2018 12:12:41 AM | 61

Turkish TVs are blaming the Israelis (or sometimes they call them zionists, globalists etc.) as the instigators.

Operation Olive Branch has full backing of the opposition (at least their leaders say so)

So it's not just Erdo's or Erdogan's or Dictator Erdogan's war as the western (Turks claim zionist instigated) propaganda names it.

Turks are saying that the Homeland comes first, everything else is irrelevant.

So even the most ardent anti-Erdogan people support the government.

A lot of Turks want to get out of the NATO asap. I don't know if they will or not. The US is seen as a globalist proxy. The EU, ditto.

Turks anticipate Trump will face the Grand Jury soon and he will be removed. Pence will have a go at the Holy War. Turkish side is making preparations accordingly. It's hot here.

Posted by: ConfusedPundit | Jan 26, 2018 12:36:54 AM | 62

Turkey is in Afrin with a few old tanks and some mercenaries. They still have both hands behind their back. Having a powerful, modern military, they can bring a hand out whenever they choose.

Posted by: Rabbster | Jan 26, 2018 1:13:33 AM | 63

Posted by: ConfusedPundit | Jan 26, 2018 12:12:41 AM | 61

Names left from the Osman empire? Turkish language has a lot of Arabic, never mind religion.

Wikipedia estimates Turkmen in Syria up to a million or 5% of the population - that does not mean these people feel Turkish,

But you are right of course - people living along the Turkish border are a mix of Turkmen, Arabs and Kurds.

Even Erdogan does not claim Afrin is Turkish - he claims it is Arab.

Which opens an ethnic can of worms. Afrin is Syrian according to international law.

Posted by: Rabbster | Jan 26, 2018 1:13:33 AM | 63

I wonder. Turkish army was used mainly internally and Erdogan decapitated their leadership (with my full sympathy).

Posted by: somebody | Jan 26, 2018 2:32:45 AM | 64

@ ConfusedPundit

Somebody else over at SST posting comments along similar lines.
Looks to be two issues, but most are looking at them thinking they are one and the same.
There is Erdogan's backing of ISIS, AQ ect in Syria, but then there is a genuine threat to Turkey in the US Kurdish project that threatens to split Turkey in two - if allowed to happen. Turkey would be the biggest loser if the US forms a Kurdistan state. From what you and the Turkish commenter at SST have said, most Turks are behind Erdogan in breaking up the US Kurdish project, even if they did not like what he was doing in Syria?

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 26, 2018 2:54:16 AM | 65

So much mud and a fertile land that could feed the entire middle east
But that would turn some, starting with the Egyptians, from their greedy neighbors, ksa and usrael...
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-isis-al-nusra-islamists-front-line-far-from-over-a8177181.html

Posted by: Mina | Jan 26, 2018 3:23:36 AM | 66

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 26, 2018 2:54:16 AM | 66

It is very likely that Öcalan/PKK is a Turkish deep state project to prevent the US establishment of an independent Kurdish state. They made them win the fight between competing Kurdish groups.

They can always rightfully "fight terrorism" that way whilst PKK terrorizes normal Kurds.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 26, 2018 4:00:02 AM | 67

I wonder if it could not be a made up conflict: The US is on the long term probably more interested in a FSA reign, aka jihadis, than kurds who might be come to terms with the syrian government to stay within a syrian state. The FSA on the other hand would never give up the fight against Assad. So it makes sense to give turkey an excuse to get their troops in syria and help the FSA which they could not have done if it was officially with NATO backing so easily. Correct me please if my thoughts are too far fetched!

Posted by: felix k | Jan 26, 2018 4:34:30 AM | 68

Dear @somebody

People here depict the case as this: The U.S.+ EU (coalition with zionist instigators) bandits have ambushed the Turkish-Arab-Turkmen Stagecoach. Tragicomic.

I'm not an expert, I'm simply bringing the main theme of the local discussions to here. Wikipedia on the other hand is not considered as being a reliable source of info (I'm being diplomatic here, vast majority use slang words for Wiki). But the actual number of Turkmen people far exceeds that number. Perhaps 1million alone lives around the Northern part. 3.5m total in Syria. 3.5-4 million refugees live in Turkey. Obviously we are stuck in the middle of a propaganda war but I have this feeling that the latter estimation holds true. The Kurds were made to ransack deeds office and population and citizenship directorate in Northern Iraq, in Kerkuk and Mousul if you remember. Why did they do that? Was Bernard Levy, Barzani's frequent visitor in it as he was before and during the referendum and Kirkuk's occupation?

In Syria the Turkmen population in size follows that of the Arab population. How come the PKK controls a third of the land (inclusive of all oil and water sources too)?

Erdogan did say Afrin was an Arab territory he even corrected himself and brought the number to 95% as non-kurdish area. Presently a third of the fighters in Afrin are outsiders not even Syrian citizens. So the US-EU-PKK will have to work real hard to convince the neighbours. They can get together and have a fight for it too. I doubt this allience will win the war though.

Yes, Afrin belongs to Syria and I think it should remain so. What annoys people here is that the PKK is behaving as if everywhere is an ancient Kurdish settlement. Kobane (German train station) is hardly an ancient name. There were no Kurds in Anatolia or Syria 5-600 years ago. So naturally the first comers are in defensive mood just as they did it in Spain against Arabs and the EU-Greek-Slav people did it in the Balkans, Turkey etc. against the Turks.

Posted by: ConfusedPundit | Jan 26, 2018 4:38:00 AM | 69

ethnic cleansing is still ethnic cleansing. However not been reported bcsuse"photogenic female fighters" is still ethnic cleansing. It does not go down well in MSM, it did not in Kososvo, and it does not now. The Kurds staked all on black and red came out, tough luck. For them.This is what happens when dreams of independence clouds your normal vision, and you cant see clear. The Russian initiative was the peak of theeir aspirational hopes of semi statehood. Now they are just prey and use-full souls.
Why do a people destroy itself?

Posted by: Den Lille Abe | Jan 26, 2018 5:02:48 AM | 70

Dear @Peter AU 1

Your question, last line. Yes.
Nobody in Turkey trusts U.S. anymore.
For Turks, from what I hear on TV and read on the net:

U.S.A = Globalist controlled
U.S.A = Zionist Christian controlled, the evangelists (up to 100 million).

That's how Turks see things. I know for a fact that some Kemalists and nationalists have always complained about the NATO and the U.S. but especially after the failed coup attempt, Gulen case, PKK etc. the general feeling is this: The End, down with the U.S. Close all NATO bases, all 14-15 of them (not just the Incirlik as it's talked about in the West)

I don't know if the situation can be reversed, whether they are bluffing or will succeed in achieving their new goal. The Turks are infruiated that's all I know.

Posted by: ConfusedPundit | Jan 26, 2018 5:08:35 AM | 71

Confused Pundit @ 70
I have asked my cat, as he heas got as much sense as is displayed here. Should Sevilla revert to Muslim rule? I t once was for a long tome. Cat says no. But cat is verey independent and regard me as an oppressing imperialistic power, although I am pretty well liked when I scratch the bellly. Cat is 11 kilos of very loving cat, that sleeps on my belly (until I wake and shooes him) but we are not in unison regarding foreign policy. he has taked a liking to Vladimir Putin I can not fully endorse.
Sigh, a Social Democrat

Posted by: Den Lille Abe | Jan 26, 2018 5:24:10 AM | 72

"There were no Kurds in Anatolia or Syria 5-600 years ago. So naturally the first comers are in defensive mood just as they did it in Spain against Arabs and the EU-Greek-Slav people did it in the Balkans, Turkey etc. against the Turks."

There were not that many Turkish people either if you want to talk ethnic.

This here is a Turkish government whitewash

Anatolia bridging the East and West has been a cradle to a wide variety of religions and cultures throughout the history. Anatolia and ıts hospitable people has always welcomed to oppressed, weak and stateless people because of concerning it as human duty and religious obligation. They shared their land, food, and home in a generous and ungrudging manner. Immigration movements which happened as of second half of 19th century and caused major changes in the ethnic features of Anatolia, have very important role on today’s Turkey.

This here is the version of the New York Times on what happened.

At the turn of the 20th Century, the once far-flung Ottoman empire was crumbling at the edges, beset by revolts among Christian subjects to the north — vast swaths of territory were lost in the Balkan Wars of 1912-13 — and the subject of coffee house grumbling among Arab nationalist intellectuals in Damascus and elsewhere.

The Young Turk movement of ambitious, discontented junior army officers seized power in 1908, determined to modernize, strengthen and “Turkify” the empire. They were led by what became an all-powerful triumvirate sometimes referred to as the Three Pashas.

In March of 1914, the Young Turks entered World War I on the side of Germany. They attacked to the east, hoping to capture the city of Baku in what would be a disastrous campaign against Russian forces in the Caucuses. They were soundly defeated at the battle of Sarikemish.

Armenians in the area were blamed for siding with the Russians and the Young Turks began a campaign to portray the Armenians as a kind of fifth column, a threat to the state. Indeed, there were Armenian nationalists who acted as guerrillas and cooperated with the Russians. They briefly seized the city of Van in the spring of 1915.

Armenians mark the date April 24, 1915, when several hundred Armenian intellectuals were rounded up, arrested and later executed as the start of the Armenian genocide and it is generally said to have extended to 1917. However, there were also massacres of Armenians in 1894, 1895, 1896, 1909, and a reprise between 1920 and 1923.

The University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies has compiled figures by province and district that show there were 2,133,190 Armenians in the empire in 1914 and only about 387,800 by 1922.

Writing at the time of the early series of massacres, The New York Times suggested there was already a “policy of extermination directed against the Christians of Asia Minor.”

The Young Turks, who called themselves the Committee of Unity and Progress, launched a set of measures against the Armenians, including a law authorizing the military and government to deport anyone they “sensed” was a security threat.

So it is back to the Young Turks now?

Posted by: somebody | Jan 26, 2018 5:50:13 AM | 73

The US-Turkey relation is the most important of all subjects on the Middle Eastern front. Far more important than Iran's nuclear deal or the proxy war in Syria.

The root cause of the problem is that Turkey's and US interests, for some time now, dont align anymore. Turkey with the decades of support from the West and the Arab oil money has become a Frankenstein monster that cant be controlled anymore.

The US could soothe the beast with a better deal in the short term but the root causes that let to today's situation would continue to exist only to resurface at a later point. And who is to say that later Turkey would be any weaker than now?

On the contrary all the signs seem to indicate that Turkey will only increase in strenght, so the US will be forced to make an even more generous deal later.

What will a power do if it has decided that it can't control its vassal anymore?

Posted by: redrooster | Jan 26, 2018 6:32:19 AM | 74

Grieved says:

This is a win-win for...blah, blah, blah...History smiles...blah, blah, blah...It will be over when its moment is done...blah, blah, blah...We get to watch patiently as the commanders of the theater conduct a superb campaign

it seems to me the main thing that all smart commentators agree on is how fucking stupid it was to think that the Turks would allow this Kurdish enclave to coalesce on its border. and there's nothing wondrous, or elegant, or superb about any of it, obviously the Kurds don't stand a chance against the Turkish army and air force.

unlike yours, Ziad's overview is actually quite to the point...

You are watching a tragedy taking place as scripted by utter morons

Posted by: john | Jan 26, 2018 7:03:33 AM | 75

@somebody 'There were not that many Turkish people either if you want to talk ethnic.'

I already acknowledged that if you read my comments above, the last parapgraph, at 70. Now, does that earn me at least a bronze medal of impartiality? And that's because I'm trying to be modest for the sake of diplomacy. I know I deserve a silver one or even a gold one because I know and trust my conscience.

Here is an official document for you to have a look at. There are tens of it. The beginning of Kurdish invasion with help from the UN and the ethnic cleansing of Turkmens and Arabs in Northern Iraq as a result. Same thing happend in Syria. The Kurds are a proxy. They are the current invaders. Who is the mastermind?

https://cdn.pbrd.co/images/H4HRgP7.jpg

Posted by: ConfusedPundit | Jan 26, 2018 7:12:56 AM | 76

@ somebody
What kind of rubbish is this? "there were nu Kurds in in Anatolia 500 - 600 yaears ago....." What stupid intolerant rubbish is this!?
People move in and move out, that has been the modus oprandi fo generations on the European and sub European continent for ages. This ethnicity thing is invented, by those who want to split our societies. We managed largely to coexcist with our neighbours quite peacefully, unless idiotic nationalist politicians can sprout hate, very well. Jews , Muslims and all.... Idiotic post born from the American far right.

Posted by: Den Lille Abe | Jan 26, 2018 7:42:33 AM | 78

@ Den Lille Abe | Jan 26, 2018 7:42:33 AM | 79
did @somebody vote for ethnicizm? I guess he did not. As a historical statement his words are wrong: the Kurds are one of the oldest groups in the Middle East. They predate the Achaemaenid Persians, later obtain a Western Iranian language, were spread in the Near East before (!)the Turkic groups arrived, a famous medieaval leader was Sultan Saladin - but all this has not much to do with todays mental illness called „nationalism“.
„This ethnicity thing is invented, by those who want to split our societies.“
Yes, but do not forget that the whole Atatürk thing was as well such a invented ethnicity. And still is. But these things are taboo in most NE countries. And in Greece as well. Look at this stupid conflict about the name Makedonia.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Jan 26, 2018 7:53:51 AM | 79

I don't see the safe zone proposal the US suggests to Turkey is workable. How will America's Kurdish allies view giving up so much Kurdish territory to Turkey? Is Turkey really interested in controlling even more Kurds in the long term?

Turkey hopefully understands that it is also a target for the same Yinonization that has been tried in Syria. That is why the neoconservative US policy makers are pushing to support a Kurdistan. Turkey was always the long term target. Erdogan was to dumb to figure it out until recently (assuming he has figured it out, finally)

To be a target of Yinonization, a country need not be an actual threat to Israel's existence. Merely being a nuisance will suffice.

Posted by: lysander | Jan 26, 2018 8:02:35 AM | 80

Don Bacon @45 and dh @48. You are right, the Syrians will offer the Kurds some form of administrative devolution while keeping Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity intact. As an example Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish devolution firmly within an integral and soveriegn British state [the UK of GB and NI]. Both the US and Russia have agreed that the sovereign and territorial integrity of Syria will remain intact. Unfortunately the US is changing its mind and trying to fly plan B, [Border force, support for SDF while promising to stay in Syria on an open ended basis,and at the same time trying to bring about regime change]. The surrounding states especially Turkey are right to suspect this amounts to a partition of Syria and a nascent Kurdish state. This is a fundamental change in the US position and cannot be allowed to stand. Just how much the US tries to fob off Turkey can be illustrated by the preposterous promise by General Mattis to Turkey that all the weapons delivered to the Kurds will be handed back to the US. Erdogan is foolish, but he is not that foolish.

Posted by: harrylaw | Jan 26, 2018 8:06:07 AM | 81

Posted by: Den Lille Abe | Jan 26, 2018 7:42:33 AM | 79
Posted by: Hausmeister | Jan 26, 2018 7:53:51 AM | 80

I quoted confused pundit.

But if you want to go into an ethnic discussion - how would you decide on ethnicity? All you have are culture and language. Genetics are out, for obvious reasons. In culture and language the origin of Kurds is Iranian similar to me sharing some Anglo-Saxon ancestors and monarchs with the British.

So you probably have to go back to the period of the Safavid Dynasty to understand modern Turkey.

In discussing Persia between 1501 and 1722, several peculiarities of the area and the time should be borne in mind. The first concerns the country’s physical environment and its effects. Much of Persia consists of arid, unproductive land. Large parts receive insufficient rainfall to support agriculture but are well suited to pastoral nomadism. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, nomads, organized in tribes, comprised as much as one-third to one half of the country’s population. A second and related issue was that military power in Persia was usually tribal in origin, with political power following suit. Until the 20th century, all of Persia’s ruling dynasties had their origins in tribal ambitions. The nomadic make-up of the state was reflected in an ambulant royal court and the fact that until modern times Persia did not have a fixed capital. Safavid Persia had a succession of capitals: for the capital was where the shah and his entourage happened to be. Thirdly, military and political power in Persia was generally in the hands of ethnic Turks, while ethnic Persians, called Tajiks, were dominant in the areas of administration and culture. As Persians of Kurdish ancestry and of a non-tribal background, the Safavids did not fit this pattern, though the state they set up with the assistance of Turkmen tribal forces of eastern Anatolia closely resembled this division in its makeup. At the same time, it is important to stress that the Turk versus Tajik barrier could be breached. Over time, many Turks served as bureaucrats while a number of Tajiks held military posts. Nor should the tension and rivalry created by mutual suspicion and divergent interests between the two groups be exaggerated. Fourthly, statecraft in pre-modern Persia was an admixture of Islamic traditions of governance, ancient Persian notions of kingship, and Central Asian, Turco-Mongolian principles of legitimacy and power.

Fun, isn't it, how people used to mix before Europe invented nationalism in the 19th century.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 26, 2018 8:21:26 AM | 82

@ somebody | Jan 26, 2018 8:21:26 AM | 83
No, I do not want to discuss ethnicity here, just wanted to correct ConfusedPundit (who did not give his own opinion but the present narrative in Turkey about this matter). It is enough to recognize that the Kurds are amongst the oldest groups in the Near East and not later arrivals of disputable origin. At least significantly longer there than any Turkic groups who were in Anatolia before the battle of Manzikert in the 11th century. Opposite to the "official" nonsense narrative common in Turkey. I advocate that all this stuff should be left out present political discussions. The pity is that some retarded sub-cultures in Europe (some part of the Germans, the Serbs, and especially the Turks) stll think political identity has something to do with descent.
At least since Atatürk all Turks are intentionally misinformed about these things. Until today. And the present regime take many efforts to keep it like this. The topic is taboo.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Jan 26, 2018 8:39:44 AM | 83

Posted by: Hausmeister | Jan 26, 2018 8:39:44 AM | 84

Okay. I insist though on including "left" support for Kurdish independence in this. It is the same stuff in defining a group with "historic rights".

Posted by: somebody | Jan 26, 2018 8:44:35 AM | 84

@ somebody
You are right. "Historic rights" are part of this nonsense. And a romantical attitude towards Kurds as well. As a matter of fact the present message of the HDP (Party of minorities, kind of more federalized administration, keeping religion separated from politics, gender equality, no state should force any ideology on people) is quite popular with the educated younger generation in the NE and ME - and this is what Erdogan, Assad, the Iranian and Iraqi regime fear for good reasons. In Turkey the regime is always busy with silencing it. Its nervous for good reasons.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Jan 26, 2018 8:51:57 AM | 85

I told you that U.S. policy on Turkey has daily, or sometimes hourly updates.

1) US State Dept. spokesperson described terrorist YPG as 'PKK'. WOW!
2) CIA factbook now includes a 'terrorism' section
"Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) (Kongra-Gel):
aim(s): establish Kurdistan, which includes land in eastern and southeastern Turkey"

LOL. What do we make of all this? The U.S. and EU gave weapons to a group what they officialy recognise as Marxist-Leninist Terrorists? Turks, Arabs, Turkmens, Assyrians etc. were right all along?

What a mess. People here equate US State Dept. spokesperson Heather Nauert with Baghdad Bob, the hilarious Iraqi information minister.

This sort of a game play is acceptable if you are Harlem Globetrotters, you can make fun of your opponents. But if hundreds of thousands of people are badly suffering then the U.S. zigzag policy has to change. The peoples of the region demand it.

Posted by: ConfusedPundit | Jan 26, 2018 8:59:30 AM | 86

Posted by: Hausmeister | Jan 26, 2018 8:51:57 AM | 86

13% in Turkey at best? Similar to German Green Party?

Posted by: somebody | Jan 26, 2018 9:01:34 AM | 87

@Hausmeister and @somebody
The Idea of ithnic cleansing is old. Very old. Denmark lost its land in souther Sweden 3 centuries ago , in 1648. Skåne , _halland and Blekinge were to become Swedish. The Swedes as unscrupulous as they are :) started by eradicating the populace, the buildings the churches. "Snaphanerne" hurt them badly. But were wiped out. So is most of Danish influence in region. Very few churches and buildings remain, with th original Danish inscriptions. There is written a book about the massacre. It is not taught in Swedish schools. But it is a fact. The Swedes more or less eradicated the original peoples of the three Län Skåne , Halland & Blekinge as "untrustworthy". Preferred execution methods were impalement and crucifixion.
Those people were some of my ancestors. According to church books.
So dont give me lip on Ethnic cleansing, I know what it is and know the scars that it gives. Even 300 years later.
Today we have luckily almost forgotten it.

Posted by: Den Lille Abe | Jan 26, 2018 9:22:12 AM | 88

@ somebody | Jan 26, 2018 9:01:34 AM | 88

No, much more. Difficult to assess. People lost the habit to discuss in the public political topics. The prefer to talk about the weather. Like in the former Eastern European countries. What they think one can hear only in strictly private environments. The younger people and those who are in business internationally feel that their life-time and their future is just lost with those artificial polarizations and stupid ideologies. And of course they know that to keep this polarization vivid is a must for Erdogan. He could not survive fair elections (with free media).

Posted by: Hausmeister | Jan 26, 2018 9:27:38 AM | 89

re 84

It is enough to recognize that the Kurds are amongst the oldest groups in the Near East and not later arrivals of disputable origin.
Not really. That's just the propaganda. The earliest certain mention of the Kurds is from the end of the Sasanian period, that is around 500 AD. No doubt they absorbed earlier peoples in the region, but any greater claim is fantasy. They've also moved a lot, so attachment to earlier peoples in the region is somewhat fanciful. But what do you expect of a hyper-nationalist vision of the past?

Evidently Turks are a more recent appearance, not before Manzikert (1071). But then the Anatolian Turks are mainly Turkish-speaking descendants of native Anatolian peoples. (Not very different from the Kurds then). I once met a "real" Turk, with somewhat slitty eyes, a professor born in central Anatolia, but he's the only one I've ever seen.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 26, 2018 9:29:30 AM | 90

Before 1648 Skåne was the heartland of the Danish kingdom, the church in Lund being the arch diocese of the kingdom and and Lund in all but name the capitol of the Kingdom. The ill adventuries of King Christian the fourth bore down on Danes for centuries to come. We Really first came about in th 1890 ties and were stumbling a state bankruptcy looming, after we lost yet another war, in 1864, against the pesky germans, who were just more and and better equipped.
But today all 'in all we came out well, along with the nebulous Swedes and we have learned to live in peace and prosperity with each other.
The Øresund region is much compared to to the golden cut across Europe, we are rich developed and have a populace of young well educated people from 177 countries. We hope to be a first with 193.
We as a whole reject all this Nato bullshit, we don't buy it , not the ordinary voter whether SD or S.

Posted by: Den Lille Abe | Jan 26, 2018 9:39:14 AM | 91

ConfusedPundit | Jan 26, 2018 4:38:00 AM

"There were no Kurds in Anatolia or Syria 5-600 years ago. So naturally the first comers are in defensive mood just as they did it in Spain against Arabs and the EU-Greek-Slav people did it in the Balkans, Turkey etc. against the Turks."

If you are Amerikkan than I'm not surprised with your clueless. On elementary level: it is well known that An-Nasir Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub known as Salah ad-Din, or better known as Saladin (1137–1193) first Sultan of Egypt and warrior who defeated Crusaders in Levant was Kurd. And the most famous Kurd at that.

Posted by: Partisan | Jan 26, 2018 9:42:26 AM | 92

re 87

What do we make of all this? The U.S. and EU gave weapons to a group what they officialy recognise as Marxist-Leninist Terrorists?
What's the problem? They support and arm jihadi groups who openly swear allegiance to al-Qa'ida, even though al-Qa'ida was responsible for one of the greatest attacks on the USA.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 26, 2018 9:43:44 AM | 93

The problem apparently is that Turkey, together with quite some Western countries plus Saudi-Arabia and its allies, supported headchopper terrorists since long until today. Therefore to call the YPG-people terrorists is a joke. Turkey is no longer compatible with any European country and has changed its character. The muslim brother orientated part of the AKP was never aiming at democracy. It may profit from some elections. But after a victory it will immediately try to get the result irreversible and fix the own agenda, which is islamistic. It tries to force other people to be subordinate to its own values. That means: keeping this "system" and this guy at its top any talks about the EU are bullshit. But the guy at the top will die in the very moment he looses power. And he knows it. Yes, may be at the end Turkey will leave the NAtO, just for his surviving. If the Turkish people let it happen then it is like this.

Burak Bekdik in Hürriyet

„In fact, “whatever my nation wishes…” is a populist politician’s nicely-wrapped wording for the great Islamic democracy which a prominent Islamic intellectual described in his column recently. Hayrettin Karaman, a professor of theology and a columnist for the pro-government Yeni Şafak, wrote that, “The governments cannot protect, through law and order, any behavior the majority would dislike or view as harmful, illegitimate and ugly. The minority will have to give up some freedoms (disapproved of by the majority). The remedy… is democracy with a reference to Islam. Otherwise, the majority, whose values could be violated by the minority, will have a right to apply the neighborhood pressure [on the minority] (“Ignoring the majority,” Hayrettin Karaman, Yeni Şafak, Nov. 8, 2013).”
This guy is the most influential Islamist with direct access to Erdogan.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Jan 26, 2018 10:22:07 AM | 94

Dear @Partisan

'Salah ad-Din was Kurd'

Well, respect. If he felt like so.

The names of some of his brothers: Tugtekin, Böri, Turansah (Turan Sah means the ruler of Turks)
All Turkish names.

Some claim the Seljuks were Jewish. Erdogan's wife is an Arab. Erdogan says he is Georgian. Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of PKK says his mother was Turkish.

Well, I'm not an expert. I'm not racist, sexist, any somethingist. My partner is half Kurdish. My brother claims the mother of my father was an Armenian. Well, I'm not interested in anyone's ethnical backgrounds nor should anybody else. I brought up the issue because it had already been brought up.

One thing for sure is that there were no Kurds in Anatolia before the 16th century. That's a fact. And I'm saying this not because I'm against the Kurds and that I favor another race be it Turks or Armenians or Arabs. All I am saying is that it is a fact. The Kurds were not in Anatolia before the 16th century. But then the Armenians were there before the Turks? Yes! It is an ancient people. That has nothing to do with what I am saying! Cheers.

Posted by: ConfusedPundit | Jan 26, 2018 10:22:40 AM | 95

@94
They support and arm jihadi groups
The US has gone further down that road and found a new way to create instability in appointed enemy countries, and even to occupy them without large numbers of US troops.
(1) Create a new militarized cause-based force (ISIS), with one good cause being religion.
(2) Arm and train that force and inject it into a region (Iraq-Syria) with local help (Saudi, Turkey).
(3) Send in some CIA and Special Forces (they go together) to monitor and assist.
(4) When called on it, destroy some parts of the force and retain others.
(5) Refuse to leave the enemy countries (Iraq & Syria) because the enemy force exists, or might come back.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 26, 2018 10:31:36 AM | 96

@ ConfusedPundit | Jan 26, 2018 10:22:40 AM | 96
"Well, I'm not interested in anyone's ethnical backgrounds nor should anybody else. I brought up the issue because it had already been brought up.“
You name it. And there is an obvious difference between your personal opinion and the political mainstream talk in Turkey.
"...nor should anybody else." That is an ultra-radical critique against the powers that be at this moment. The trouble with the Kurdish, the Alevi, the Yezidi, the Christian issue is that they do not do what they should.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Jan 26, 2018 10:39:41 AM | 97

Turkey to US: Get out of Syria

Any push by Turkish forces towards Manbij, part of a Kurdish-held territory some 100 km (60 miles) east of Afrin, could threaten U.S. efforts in northeast Syria and bring them into direct confrontation with U.S. troops deployed there. “Those who support the terrorist organization will become a target in this battle,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said. “The United States needs to review its solders and elements giving support to terrorists on the ground in such a way as to avoid a confrontation with Turkey,” Bozdag, who also acts as the government’s spokesman, told broadcaster A Haber. . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 26, 2018 10:48:59 AM | 98

After the Turks shot down the Russian jet late in 2015, the Turkish press reacted in a way that is revealing.

The religious-Right Yeni Safak wrote (BBC Trans.): “Turkmen Mountain? It is Turkey’s ‘red’ line! No-one should assume that Turkey is just watching and waiting. So many things are being done behind the scenes! We will soon see them. Ankara will not be deterred by Turkey’s enemies!.. What is going on is an ‘unannounced world war’! Briefly, independent Muslim Turkey is putting up a vital fight against the Crusader-Zionist alliance!”
This paper seems to see Putin’s Russia as an Eastern Orthodox Christian power [...] The center-right Turkiye compared the Russian campaign against Jabal Turkmen as a “Second Gallipoli,” referring to Winston Churchill’s hope of taking the Gallipoli Peninsula in WW I and then marching right up to the then capital, Istanbul, thus cutting the war in the eastern Mediterranean short. The British empire was thwarted in this plan by a strong Ottoman defense and use of machine guns and artillery. Turkiye is hearkening back to WW I, when Russia attacked eastern Anatolia!

Hal C.

Posted by: Hal C | Jan 26, 2018 10:59:44 AM | 99

"One thing for sure is that there were no Kurds in Anatolia before the 16th century."

Right Now there is dispute about the Name of Macedonia (FYROM) which the Greeks claim it is their own. Thus they are ardently against anything that carry that name in the norther neighbor.

I claim that there is no Greek connection in anything what was once Hellenic city-states.

Posted by: Partisan | Jan 26, 2018 11:06:35 AM | 100

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