Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 08, 2012

Could The War On Syria Create Regime Change in Ankara?

The fight over Aleppo is waging on with advantages on the Syrian government side. The Syrian army launched its ground offense in Aleppo and killed the leader of the insurgency there. The insurgents are in tactical retreat from their Aleppo stronghold of Salaheddin. It will take some time to mop them up.

When politics failed to give Washington what it wanted it decided to increase the violence in Syria by promoting Al Qaeda to fill the void the Annan mission left:

The US’s estimation is that the agenda of ‘regime change’ in Syria is getting stuck in mud. The Syrian regime is intact.

Therefore, what is needed is a military push. The name of the game is to achieve a ’soft landing’ in Damascus without spilling American blood – as WaPo says. Now that the US and its allies have got rid of the nuisance of Kofi Annan, the path ahead is clear.

The only way forward for both sides of the proxy war in Syria is the military option:

Until either Assad or his armed opponents achieve a major military victory that translates into immediate political gains, thus forcing the external players to negotiate, there will be no alternative to continued military operations and further fighting.

The armed opposition – with all its diverse factions comprising Syrian, Arab and foreign fighters and Salafi and other ideologies – has become better organized and equipped to wage a long war. It is receiving larger amounts and more sophisticated military equipment by the day. The regime, too, has adjusted for a protracted battle, in which no holds are barred, and in which it feels justified in unleashing all the firepower at its disposal.

Both sides are equally convinced that to achieve a big military triumph, such as controlling Aleppo, maximum force must be used, in order to push the crisis toward a resolution – though not necessarily to a political settlement anytime soon.

The U.S. and its allies are sending more weapons and radicals into Syria. But the public mood in the west about this conflict is changing. Even the German public TV, which is full of anti-Assad propaganda, is now warning about the Salafi insurgents. There is also some trouble between the Syrian fanatics and their foreign jihadi guests:

"Let me be clear. I am an Islamist, my fighters are Islamists. But there is more than one type of Islamist," he told Reuters. "These men coming fought in insurgencies like Iraq. They are too extreme, they want to blow up any symbol of the state, even schools."
One of the most effective and elusive groups in Aleppo now sending reinforcements into Damascus is called Ahrar al-Sham, "The Free Men of Syria." Its fighters accept the bulk of jihadist foreign fighters in Idlib and Aleppo, rebels say.

"They're extremely effective and secretive. They coordinate with us to attack the regime but they don't take orders from anyone. They get weapons and explosives smuggled from abroad that are much better," said a rebel in Aleppo called Anwar.

In view of these radical insurgents' atrocities many Syrians critical of their government are increasing the  support for their government:

The video released last week in Aleppo that appeared to show FSA fighters executing more than a dozen accused regime thugs, called shabiha, and Aawayini, meaning collaborators, at a school will not help to win the trust of those Syrians skeptical of the insurgents' motives. It may also help push some opposition supporters away who are disgusted by the FSA’s real or rumored use of violence.

“They talk about wanting democracy, but I am now too scared to even voice my opinion in public for fear I’ll be called a collaborator and be killed,” a 60-year old retired schoolteacher, named Obeyda, told me over a coffee in her living room in Muhajirin in late July. She used to be very critical of the regime but now she’s more critical of the FSA.

For those who followed the conflict the existence of radical foreign fighters in Syria is of course nothing new. New is only the publicity that these people are getting. The Hindu compares the situation in Syria to the war in Kashmir where foreign supported radical were also the ones who started the violent insurgency:

Young people in particular chafed under the Ba’ath party’s rule in Syria exactly as they chafed against “Delhi’s rule” in Kashmir. But while nearly everyone wanted a change, almost no one wanted it at the cost of a violent disruption of their lives. In neither case, therefore, was the state the first to resort to violence: On the contrary, both insurgencies had to be stoked, so the first to pick up the gun were the insurgents. In Syria this was done by Salafi/Takfiri Islamists who crossed the border from Jordan in March 2011 and holed up in the Omari mosque in Dera’a before launching targeted provocations, and attacks on police stations and government offices.

With the Turkish, Saudi and Qatari involvement now very visible and the kidnapping and killing Iranian pilgrims some of whom are retired revolutionary guards Iran officially declared itself to be part of the fight:

"What is happening in Syria is not an internal Syrian issue but a conflict between the axis of the resistance and its enemies in the region and the world," Mr. Jalili said in comments reported on Syrian state television. He added: "Iran will not tolerate, in any form, the breaking of the axis of the resistance, of which Syria is an intrinsic part."
"Iran is saying: 'We are involved. We are inside the battle,' " said Talal Atrissi, a Lebanese political analyst and an expert on Iran. He added, "It means this is now a more international war."

It will soon be payback time for Turkey and those Gulf countries that support the insurgency.

Somewhat comically Hillary Clinton warns against the sectarian turmoil in Syria which is a direct consequence of her policy:

"Those who are attempting to exploit the situation by sending in proxies or terrorist fighters must realize that will not be tolerated, first and foremost by the Syrian people," she added.

Clinton of course does not mean the Salafists she and her allies are sending to wage a sectarian civil war in Syria. This warning is meant for Iran which might think of sending some of its own forces, one way or another, into the fight.

Washington plans to increase the effectiveness of the insurgency. On Monday the twitter account THE_47th correctly announced the desertion of the former Syrian prime minister before it was confirmed by anyone else. Yesterday it tweeted this stream:

  • Big meetings in Turkey nxt week betwn newly defected Gens & reps from all FSA factions, incl loose ones in Jebel Azzawiya & Deir Ezzor.
  • Part of Hilary Clinton's visit to Turkey next week is to be briefed on success of this meeting & to make sure the objectives are met.
  • During the meetings, chains of command will further be implimented, inluding factions that are earlier have been fighting on their own.
  • Again, most FSA is somehow linked, and coordinated, except in some areas of the Governorate of Homs, Jabal Azzawya & Deir Ezzor.
  • Objectives: - Introducing the brigades that have been training on heat seeking missiles, assigning them to official brigades.
  • Objectives: - Possibly renaming the Free Syrian Army to the National Free Syrian Army - Joining small brigades into big ones
  • Last point eludes to joining small brigades into bigger ones, just like the Tawheed Brigade (Unity Brigade)
  • Objectives: - Training on Geneva Human Rights Conventions - Overhaul of structure of the command - Intel meetings
  • Manaf Tlass will also be present in next weeks meetings, including the defected officers & unnamed Brig Officers from the Republican Guard.
  • This major initiative comes after Turkey warned Syrian oppo forces that the West is growing wary of Islamist elements, incohesion & HR.
  • Turkey is leading the effort in advising the FSA, training, setting up, supporting & arming the FSA.
  • There's a major campaign to put these "Abdulhameed bla bla Akbar brigade" into legit national units.
  • Now the mtng takes place nxt week, but implimentation will take wks.
  • Good news is: training FSA elements on heat seeking missiles & other SAMs has been done and we shall see it on the ground as of nxt week.
  • anf FYI: most of these SAMs are from Libya for some reason.
  • After successfuly limiting Assad's grnd movement (thanks to IEDs, defections & other anti tank weapons), the battle is now heading skywards.

We do not know if what The_47th says is correct or how much of it is disinformation. But as a medium range plan this reorganization of the insurgency surely makes sense. Parts of that announcement are certainly true. New pictures show insurgents with recoilless anti-tank rifles and man portable surface to air missiles. The playboy general Manaf Tlass seems to be Washington's choice as its front man for a new proxy state in Syria. But many in the opposition do not want him.

But with or without Tlass further the organizing and weaponizing of the radical foreign fighters is unlikely to be enough to bring the Syrian government down. Washington will need more tools and proxies and the most convenient way forward is to bring the Turkish army into the fight.

So when Hillary Clinton travels to Turkey next week this may be what will she will talk about:

[T]he subject she will be discussing in Ankara will not be a pleasing one at all. It is a nasty issue. She will either discuss, as it appears, the creation of a buffer zone in Syria along the Turkish border or Turkey’s striking of selective targets in Syria to speed up the collapse of the Basher al-Assad regime. Regardless, she will be discussing here how Turkey will be pulled into the Syrian mess as if it was not already in that mess up to its nose through legitimate refugee-sheltering programs, supporting and abetting Syrian rebel forces, as well as engaging in alleged clandestine terrorist-brewing efforts in secret camps.

But Turkey is also the weak point in this game. The Turkish foreign policy is in trouble for the support gives to the insurgency in Syria:

Turkey's worst nightmares are beginning to come true in Syria - a protracted sectarian civil war on its long southern border with the emergence of a de facto Kurdish-controlled region friendly to its main domestic foe.

The Syrian conflict is also poisoning Ankara's sensitive relations with Iran, Syria's vital regional ally, and Iraq and complicating ties with Russia, undermining a declared policy of "zero problems" with the neighbours.

Should the attempt to destroy Syria fail the Turkish foreign minister Davutoglu who is leading the project is likely to fall:

[T]he political future of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu very much depends on the fate of Syria. If the Assad regime falls, then Davutoglu may very well become prime minister. But if the regime survives, Turkey’s top diplomat will be scapegoated and possibly sacked.

The man who came up with a foreign policy of "zero problems towards neighbors" managed to create trouble with each of them.

Despite the looming trouble there are other hints that Turkey may indeed be gearing up for even more involvement. The Turkish prime minister Erdogan is rather suddenly making nice with the Turkish military which long opposed his islamization agenda. This lets one commentator ask:

There must a reason for this change in our esteemed prime minister, who has asserted a strong political will behind the coup-planning cases from the very beginning. Is there a possibility of a war? What can the reason for this change be?
Terrorism in our backyard has been whipped up, countries that we knew as friends now have a hand in creating serious worries for Turkey. Let us leave these arguments over coups in the past and focus on our noble responsibilities.

Making nice with the army while his government holds 68 of its generals in jail will not be easy. I find it unlikely that the Turkish military really wants to fight Washington's proxy war in Syria for Erdogan's gain. Should Erdogan give his army the order to invade Syria the regime change operation against the Syrian government may end up changing his regime.


Posted by b on August 8, 2012 at 10:43 UTC | Permalink

next page »

Well reasoned b, I believe you are right, the Clinton plot is likely to backfire on Erdogan.

Posted by: Alexander | Aug 8 2012 11:29 utc | 1

Good analysis.
So, i am puzzled. If I was Turkey, my big question is, what's in it for me? Why would i do Clinton's bid and pay for it in more attacks by the Kurdish groups, destablilized region and a long proxy war that could at the end drag Turkey into the middle of this mess. With all Turkey's neighbors, even west of Turkey now very unhappy with the policies, and no promises of any rewards for intervening, what the hell is Turkey doing and why. Surely promises by the Saudis and Qatar for investments and oil are not enough to isolate the country in this region. So, i ask again, what's in it for Turkey?

Posted by: ana souri | Aug 8 2012 11:52 utc | 2

Also, its quite odd for French FM Fabius to elaborate on a "humanitarian mission" (involving elements from the French military) in JORDAN?!? Youd think hed go for Turkey since there are many more refugees alledgedly fleeing to Turkey and settling in these dubious camps. Makes u wonder if Turkeys has just gotten a hot potatoe. I remember reading an article about Turkey back in may, entitled "Turkey, undesired in Europe and lonely in the middle-east"...I think this is right whats about to happen! Also, is it me, or is this fabricated fake revolution in syria the first plot of NATO-US-EU, that is being widely exposed? Reading thru numerous german forums, comment sections of almost all important msmedia outlets, the criticism of this western policy seems to increase by the day, and this time, were not talking about "news-jukies" or "alternative webpages", its out there...I just hope Syria withstands this aggression!! They seem to do a good job, with determined allies russia and iran!

Posted by: Rablais | Aug 8 2012 12:10 utc | 3

'The U.S. and its allies are sending more weapons and radicals into Syria. But the public mood in the west about this conflict is changing. Even the German public TV, which is full of anti-Assad propaganda, is now warning about the Salafi insurgents. There is also some trouble between the Syrian fanatics and their foreign jihadi guests:'

well there are plenty of salafists IN Germany bent on missionary work, so the german may regret aiding these monsters

Posted by: brian | Aug 8 2012 12:19 utc | 4

I do not see how Turkey can say yes to something like that
a) Hillary is on her way out
b) the US election is not a done deal yet
c) the US is not really paying, if you order you also are supposed to pay, no?
d) I think Turkey thought about Syrian air defenses when their plane was downed - it would cost them a lot of pilots, that would be politically unsustainable
e) Erdogans constituency which is the lower to middle business class love Saudi - and Quatari - money but hate to lose business - and they lost a lot by losing their trade route through Syria
f) Erdogans constituency is sure conservative, I somehow do not think they appreciate Salafis
g) I guess THE_47th is trying to boost morale nothing else
h) somehow I doubt Syrian defectors defected to fight ...
g) Iran and Turkey are co-dependent, so their relationship might survive strain over Syria, as the Hürriyet article states there might be problems via Iraq though
... and so on and so on ... not least Syrian rebels are payed by different interests so if there is not on source of income it is unlikely their command will unite
plus this here
Barzani and PYD

Posted by: somebody | Aug 8 2012 12:34 utc | 5

We are dangerously heading for a region wide sectarian war throughout the ME - thanks to to the policies of "Mr Zero-problem", the puritan Saudis and the Qataris. What they seem to have forgotten is that a sectarian war that engulfs Syria will engulf Turkey, Iraq, Bahrin, Saudi, Lebanon, Pakistan, UAE to name a few. Its more of a danger for the allies of US then a stick to be used against Syria and Iran.

Turkey finds itself in the position of Pakistan in the 1980s - a country full of foriegners - both Western and Eastern - who are trying to destroy a state and govt. hoping for something that will be in their control. Look how Afghanistan and Pakistan ended up in.

Posted by: Irshad | Aug 8 2012 12:37 utc | 6

Turkey may be the weak point in the Alliance for the Islamic Jihad Against Shiites but that doesn't means that the Turkish army, as weakened politically as it may be, is going to mount a coup any time soon. For starters the Turkish army has been historically beholden to the US command, so I see no reason why they would just ignore 'orders from above' and support whatever policy is imposed from their original bosses, whatever madness Erdogan is shouting at the moment.

They may also see a benefit on letting Erdogan run his blatantly sectarian international policy until the bitter end. That's very likely to remove support from their popular bases and increase the chances of a 'democratic transition' to a government of the Kemalist secular parties.

Iran, due to the current economic sanctions, may be also unable to hit back Turkey economically. If Turkey remains as one of their fews channels to imports and exports it would just be helping US attempts at isolation.

Iraq has more chances to pressure Turkey by just cutting all oil shipments to Ceyhan but as I they may need all their oil revenue they aren't very likely to do so. They could still use their southern oil terminal but reducing their current export rate. I don't know though what the Kurdish Region controlled by Barzani may do, he seems to be way too cozy with the Turks now. That's not strange, Kurdish factions have been allies of one or another regional power all the time while backstabbing other Kurdish factions.

So other than war the most likely approach will be covert support to the PKK and other Kurdish rebel groups to bow down the Turkey army and hit politically Erdogan's policies.

Posted by: ThePaper | Aug 8 2012 12:40 utc | 7

My guess is that 'Turkey's interests' are not 'Turkey's interests' but Erdogan's and his party Islamic, neo-Othoman or neo-Caliphate interests. Politicians and rulers in power tend to confound their interests with their nations interests.

How close or far is Erdogan's moderate Islamist party from the Ikwhan/Muslim Brotherhood ideology and dreams of a new Caliphate? To me Turkey/Erdogan seems closer to Qatar, which is the backer of the MB and I wonder if the Al Thani ruler sees himself or his family as the future heads of that Caliphate, than to Saudi and their murderous fanatic Salafists.

Posted by: ThePaper | Aug 8 2012 12:47 utc | 8

somebody @ 5 d

The turks were supposed to check if the codes from the plane brought by the defected pilot the previous week worked, as it turns out, they did work. What they didn't expect though was that the old airdefence-machineguns were that good, and did the job that the SAMs didn't do, due to the SAM computer recognising the Turkish plane as a friendly Syrian one.

Posted by: Alexander | Aug 8 2012 12:50 utc | 9

@ALL - Please note that there is an ongoing battle (not physical but intellectual) within Sunni Islam - amongst Muslims of different theological/legal and intellectual tradition. The Saudis - since their alliance with the Abdul Wahab and his descendents - have been on a mission to "restore" Islam to its "puritinical" past - as they believe all Muslims have deviated from the path of Islam as taught by the Prophet. So for e.g. there is 4 legal school of thoughts in Sunni Islam - one of which will be followed by a Muslim - the Wahabis/Salafis do not accept the 4 legal school and the Islamic jurisprudence tradtion that goes with it! Imagine nearly 1400 years of a legal tradition thrown in to he dustbin because they say, all a Muslim needs to do is go back to the Qurann and Sunnah to devise laws. They are akin to Protestants. They reject Islams rich spiritual tradition - sufism - and consider people who follow and practice sufism to be "grave worshipers" and deviants. Hence you see Al-CIAeda groups blowing up tombs in Mali.

Syria has always been home to "traditional Islam" as opposed to the Salafi/Wahabi Islam the Saudis preach - Damascus has a long and rich Islamic intellectual tradition and there are many sufi centres and tombs scattered all over the country. The tomb on Ibn-Arabi is in Damascus. Large numbers of traditional sunni scholars and their followers support the current government and system as it protected them and gave them the space to do the work they did. Shaykh Ramadan al-Bouti is an e.g. of this.

Imagine how traditional sunni muslims feel when they see Syria been engulfed by Salafi takfiris? Its guranteed that if the foreign backed rebels win - you will see a tombs of the scholars and saints been destroyed and blown up ala Mali and Libya. The scholars will be murdered and driven out. And believe me they will arm and fight to protect themselve.

Suprising thing is Turks and Turkey is closer to traditional Islam then they are to salafi Islam - they abhor the Saudis and salafis. So what is Erdogan and Davatoglu doing supporting salafi-takfiris to fight in Syria??? What back room deal was made?

Posted by: Irshad | Aug 8 2012 13:14 utc | 10

b, very fine analysis, except for this:

I find it unlikely that the Turkish military really wants to fight Washington's proxy war in Syria for Erdogan's gain
what makes you think so, general considerations aside?

What THE_47th says seems more than plausible to me; the alternative would for the Us to acknowledge the defeat of their plans to overthrow Assad, and leave their faithful ally Erdogan stranded in no man's land;

I don't know of any precedents where the Turkish military displayed any independence from Us and NATO

Posted by: claudio | Aug 8 2012 13:23 utc | 11

I'm just guessing but maybe Turkey's interests in Syria is Syria itself. They may be under the impression that after the government falls, they will be able to reorder Syria as a Turkish satellite state. And from their Lebanon, etc. That might be the draw that gets the military on board.

The problem is, its looking like the only way the Syrian government can fall is if Turkey actually invades. And quite possibly not even then.

Erdogan's behavior seems off kilter, but very familiar to anyone watching a bad gambler loose his money and then make ever more wild bets trying to win it back. I suspect that if Erdo could go back to May, 2011, he would take a totally different course. But now, having bet so much so far with nothing to show for it, backing down will be his end, and likely the end of the AKP in power for a very long time. He is forced to go for broke.

But can Erdo order the Army to invade without a parliamentary vote? It's doubtful he will get it. I think it is illegal for him to start a war without parliamentary approval. But great men (in their own minds) are not concerned with technicalities.

Posted by: Lysander | Aug 8 2012 13:25 utc | 12

what's more, if Turkey intervenes, this time NATO solidarity will be displayed at the first sign of Syrian retaliation

Posted by: claudio | Aug 8 2012 13:27 utc | 13

Alot of people talking about why Turkey would play this role and alienate powers like Iran/Russia and neighbours like Syria. I think there are two reasons at play. Financial and ideological.

Financial and Ideological. "Green Money Nexus Between Saudi Arabia and Turkey".

A decade ago, Turks discussed the influence of the "deep state," the shadowy network of generals, intelligence officials, and—among conspiracy theorists—organized crime bosses. Today, in private conversations in teahouses and in the National Assembly, many Turkish officials discuss green money and AKP financial opacity as the new threat. Money buys the short-term popularity necessary to initiate long-term changes, be they in Turkey's foreign or domestic policy. Under apparent Saudi influence, such changes will likely further erode Turkish secularism.

Destroying secular Kemalism in Turkey has always been a long term Saudi goal. Just like Saudi Arabia viewed Egypts Pan-Arabism and Irans Revolutionary Islamism as a threat it also viewed Turkey's Kemalism as threat and has sought to dilute it. The so called Green Money current is a network of Islamic institutions that bankrolled the AKP rise.

Before becoming Prime Minister, Abdullah Gul, worked for a decade as a specialist for the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. These Islamic banks regularly funnel money to Islamic institutions normally without government regulation or interference. As for Erdogan?

Erdoğan has been silent on the issue, perhaps because he is heavily invested in green money business. In August 2001, Rahmi Koç, chairman of Koç Holding, Turkey's largest and oldest conglomerate, commented on CNN Türk that Erdoğan has a US$1 billion fortune and asked the source of his wealth. According to Sedat Ergin, Ankara bureau chief for Hürriyet, Erdoğan holds substantial financial stakes in three different firms, which both Turkish military and intelligence officers and, according to numerous interviews, the man-on-the-street as well, believe subsidize Islamist politics.

The Erdoğan family controls approximately 50 percent of Emniyet Foods the distributor for Ülker, Turkey's leading confectionary company. Recep Erdoğan is a shareholder in Ihsan Foods, which distributes Ülker's dairy products and owns a 12 percent stake in Yenidoğan Foods Marketing, which distributes Ülker soft drinks. According to numerous Turkish diplomats and officers in the Turkish General Staff, the Turkish military refuses to buy Ülker products for its conscripts so as not to subsidize Islamism.

Both Erdogan and Gul's rise was financially and politically linked to a supermarket chain called Kombassan, which bankrolled Erdogan and Gul's early Refah party in the 1990's and sold alot of Ulker's products. Kombassan is believed to be modelled on Germany's Aldi and funded through both Green Money from Saudi Arabia and remittances from Turkish workers in Germany. Almost all of Kombassan's profits are though to finance other Islamic projects and political campaigns in Turkey and it has become a dominant supermarket chain through the undercutting of prices to beat out competition. Erdogan's advisor and right hand man Cuneyd Zapsu was the person who pushed for this "Aldi model" at his Bim discount chain.

Let's not forget that Erdogan was a hardcore Islamist before moderating his views during the 2002 elections. Erdogan was jailed in 1998 for "inciting religious hatred". He likely holds alot of ideological sympathy for the factions of the FSA. Coupled with his financial links to Saudi Green Money he is not an independent player and neither is the AKP Party.

Source: Green Money Islamist Politics in Turkey

Note on Source: It's Michael Rubin of the Neo-con American Enterprise Institute. But has a long appendix of sources for information. During the time it was written the Neo-Cons were sceptical of Erdogan.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Aug 8 2012 13:36 utc | 14

claudio, they are a conscript army

you can get very unpopular for sending peoples' sons to their death for nothing.

And US and Turkey's relationship is complex to say the least

Posted by: somebody | Aug 8 2012 13:48 utc | 15

Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski,
President Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser
-from Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998

Q: . . .You don't regret anything today?
B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.
Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?
B: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 8 2012 14:32 utc | 16

Russia and Iran would turn off Turkey's gas -- simple as that.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 8 2012 14:34 utc | 17

The NeoCons don't care about Erdogan. They were even plotting to remove him and destabilise Turkey back in 2007 when the AKP was considered as a party of democracy and reform.

The irony is the Syria situation will be a win-win for the NeoCons, if Syria is not destabilised then Turkey will surely be. But Erdogan believes, stupidly, that as long as he is pal with US he will survive, he should contemplate again Obama's baseball bat when speaking with him and meditate Saddam's and Gaddafi's fates.

Posted by: Sophia | Aug 8 2012 14:47 utc | 18

Brzezinski;spoken like a central European.How the hell did furriners like Kissinger,Soros et al get a hold of Americas policies?Revolting.

Posted by: dahoit | Aug 8 2012 15:01 utc | 19

Iran will stand and support Syria in any case of war even if it took 10 years .

Posted by: Muhammad | Aug 8 2012 15:02 utc | 20

This is a golden time for history!The NWO is starting to crumble! Cuz if Assad (i.e. also Russia, China, Iran) wins that battle, the lies of this absurd US-EU-Turko-Saudi-Qataro-Connection are going to unfold before everyones eyes, BIG TIME! As has been said by lysander, turkey (and their NWO allies) have got everything to lose, and act like gamblers going all-in.YES!

Posted by: NoBitches | Aug 8 2012 15:06 utc | 21

Backing Syria means supporting the justice and fair and facing the injustice presented by the US and its allies , Israel , Saudi , Qatar and other Persian Gulf mini states which are puppets of US in the region .

Posted by: Muhammad | Aug 8 2012 15:10 utc | 22

We ( the Iranian ) are determined to defeat the injustice in this crisis and God willing we will prove this .

Posted by: Muhammad | Aug 8 2012 15:13 utc | 23

brian @ 4 and NoBitches @ 21

The westerner media-consumers are indeed waking up to the realities in Syria and the roles of other Arab and the NATO countries, it shows in the comment-sections of the mainstream media. The majority are indeed shifting their views from pro-rebel revolution to pro-democracy reform.

Posted by: Alexander | Aug 8 2012 15:19 utc | 24

In these difficult times Turkey's top diplomat is off to . . .Arakan, Burma.
8 August 2012 / TODAYSZAMAN.COM,
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu departed for Myanmar on Wednesday with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's wife and daughter to deliver aid to the province of Arakan, where a massacre of Rohingya Muslims is being carried out by extremists. A Turkish delegation led by Davutoğlu and including Erdoğan's wife Emine and daughter Sümeyye, left for Myanmar on Wednesday afternoon in a plane loaded with aid supplies.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 8 2012 15:21 utc | 25

Muhammed @ 23

Indeed, I hope you will, insh'Allah.

Posted by: Alexander | Aug 8 2012 15:21 utc | 26

Many see this as a proxy war between the West (plus GCC) and Iran, with (as has been recognized here) Turkey as an expendable pawn. The stakes just got higher for Turkey:
from Today’s Zaman, Aug 7

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday condemned comments by an Iranian official who blamed Ankara for the bloodshed in Syria and warned Turkey would be next, calling the comments unacceptable and inappropriate and urging Iran to honor its ties as neighbors. The strongly worded statement by the Turkish Foreign Ministry came in response to recent threats and statements by Iranian officials regarding Turkey’s policies on Syria.

“We strongly condemn statements full of groundless accusations and exceptionally inappropriate threats against our country by some Iranian officials,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said on Tuesday. “It is unacceptable and irresponsible that Iranian officials in various posts continue to target our country through their statements, although Turkey’s principled foreign policy is known to everyone.”

Iranian Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Seyed Hassan Firouzabadi warned Turkey on Monday that “it will be its turn” if it continues to “help advance the warmongering policies of the United States in Syria.” He was also quoted by the Iranian media as saying, “Al-Saud, Qatar, and Turkey are responsible for the blood being shed on Syrian soil.”

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 8 2012 15:29 utc | 27

@somebody #15

claudio, they are a conscript army
you can get very unpopular for sending peoples' sons to their death for nothing.
we aren't speaking of an invasion of Syria, but of staged provocations that would be followed by full NATO support
And US and Turkey's relationship is complex to say the least
b's analysis (and my doubts) referred to, specifically, the army, not parliament or public opinion; besides, no parliament vote is called for this time;

the US is again escalating, and will do so until the Syrian regime [see note] falls or some "weak link" in its chain of alliances break; I hope Turkey will be the one, but am not optimistic about this

my impression is that Russia isn't pulling its weight, as foreseeable; if it had issued a statement as clear as the ones Nasrallah and the Iranians did, some international dynamics might have changed

[note: I am conscious of the biased use of the word "regime" by the MSM, but it also is a term that exists in the political vocabulary which is sometimes technically correct to use]

Posted by: claudio | Aug 8 2012 15:50 utc | 28

Once again, with feeling: Behind Hillary, behind Panetta, behind Petreaus is OBAMA, the Nobel Peace Laureate president. No one stays in office if he or she is not doing what Obama either directs or agrees with.

This is the Obama administration and the Obama illegal war on Syria. Yes, Hillary is embarrassing herself by staying in the office of secretary of state and carrying out orders to implement Obama's policies. Colin Powell did the same to his reputation serving under Bush. Both are now tarnished by the presidents they serve.

I feared this would happen when Hillary took the SOS office. No one seems to emerge from 21st Century US administrations with their reputations intact. When she was First Lady, Hillary was attacked mercilessly for not criticizing for some words spoken by Suha Arafat in Arabic. IIRC, the words were not that imflammatory, but Israeli Zionist types took them as such. At the time, Hillary was working hard for fair treatment of Palestinians, resolution of the P/I territorial situation, etc. Now? What a difference a few years make -- and Hillary plays the Good Soldier, following orders. Or, is it employer capture? The desire to succeed and please her boss? Or, is she looking to preserve her place among the Very Important People for her post-SOS career? Whatever, she's done it and now must live with the reality of what she's part of: Illegal wars.

Now, on to read all the comments....

Posted by: jawbone | Aug 8 2012 15:52 utc | 29

@Don Bacon #27

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry [...] calling the comments unacceptable and inappropriate and urging Iran to honor its ties as neighbors.
this guy has a sense of humor

Posted by: claudio | Aug 8 2012 15:53 utc | 30

In yesterday's State presser, a journalist tried unsuccessfully to learn who Clinton was referring to with her "Those who are attempting to exploit the situation by sending in proxies or terrorist fighters. . ." Here's just a part of it--
QUESTION: Now, who’s the proxy? Who are the proxies fighting on behalf of whom?
MR. VENTRELL: What the Secretary was getting at is there is already enough conflict inside of Syria and there are already some extremists who are trying to take advantage. Having governments add fuel to the fire, and specifically backing foreign fighters and others, would be of even more concern.
QUESTION: So that – she was referring to what? Saudi Arabia and Qatar supporting the Free Syrian Army? Or can you clarify?
MR. VENTRELL: We’re talking about the type of extremists and terrorists that would throw further fuel on the fire and kill more innocent Syrians.
-----but earlier they didn't get anywhere with Iran except a vague comment about "material support" ----
QUESTION: You said the Iranians were finding new ways to prop up the regime. What kind of new ways –
MR. VENTRELL: Well, I talked about that earlier today, just now, Jo, when we talked about how they’re intensifying their relationship, exchanging all these high-level visits, and signing economic arrangements and passing a bill in the Iranian parliament to cement their support. So those are the kind of things where --
QUESTION: Are you saying new military ways of propping up the regime?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, suffice it to say we’ve been deeply concerned about their malign and destructive actions inside of Syria, and that includes material support.

OMG -- intensifying their relationship

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 8 2012 16:19 utc | 31

Russian general denies report he died in Syria

"I want to confirm that I am alive and well. I am in good health and I'm living in Moscow," Vladimir Petrovich Kuzheyev, a reserve general, was quoted as saying by Itar-Tass news agency.

Russian television briefly showed footage of Kuzheyev, in a blue shirt and no tie, at the Defense Ministry.

A Syrian rebel group said it had killed a Russian general working as an adviser to Syria's Defense ministry in an operation in the western Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus.

Posted by: b | Aug 8 2012 16:30 utc | 32

@claudio @11 b, very fine analysis, except for this:

"I find it unlikely that the Turkish military really wants to fight Washington's proxy war in Syria for Erdogan's gain"

what makes you think so, general considerations aside?

The short answer:
Soldiers do know what fighting means. They do not like it.

The longer one:
The Turkish military is engaged in Afghanistan and is engaged in a counterinsurgency fight in south east Anatolia. It knows that such fighting is bloody and the chances to outright win are small. They can see what is happening in Syria and they know the scenario of what will happen when Turkey intervenes by military force. They would be stuck with a tar baby and would for the next ten years be busy to resurrect some form of state in Syria.

Even if they would like to see a bigger Turkey (which I also doubt) I do not believe that the army would be willing to pay the price that would have to be paid.

Posted by: b | Aug 8 2012 16:36 utc | 33

Ahrar al-Sham, "The Free Men of Syria. Isn't this the Jewish name for Syria? Funny choice for "Muslim Jihadis"

Posted by: scottinDallas | Aug 8 2012 16:41 utc | 34

Irshad 10, there are at least 7 Methebs or schools of thought in Sunni Islam.

Posted by: scottinDallas | Aug 8 2012 16:43 utc | 35

Wonder what the popular mood is in Turkey also after the disastrous performance of their Olympics athletes so far, dead last in medal count, ranked 66 together with Trinidad and Tobago with only one Bronze. The evil Iranians are ranked 13 with 8 medals (4 Gold) right ahead of the clutzy North Koreans with 7 medals.

Posted by: Paul | Aug 8 2012 16:45 utc | 36

Claudio, it would be Britain and France, both are out of money. US will not act before the election, and has no real interest after. Syria will not declare war on Turkey, so there is no way NATO is obliged to intervene, they refused very clearly when Turkey wanted them to act after the plane incident.

I guess France is out as well, as Sarkozy is no longer president. - he is calling for international intervention.

Libyan oil production is still not at prewar levels.

Any regional war, and Iran has made clear there will be if Syria is attacked, will disrupt oil supplies.

The US wants regime change in Syria, but not war.

Posted by: somebody | Aug 8 2012 16:49 utc | 37

This here is advice from the Bush administration, I do not expect the Obama administration to be more beligerent

US ex-ambassador's five-point plan for Syria

Zalmay Khalilzad, who served as US ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the UN during the Bush administration, has proposed five things the US "must do" about Syria. He explains them in an article for the Washington Post but, to summarise them briefly, the five things are:

1. Galvanise a “coalition of the relevant” – "like-minded countries that have significant leverage and influence in Syria". (These appear to be Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and other Gulf states, plus Britain and France.)

2. Appoint a special envoy to work on "organising the Syrian opposition into a broad-based front that provides a vehicle for a stable transition, attracts support from Syrians fearful of regime change, and co-opts elements of the Assad regime".

3. Don't let regional powers take the lead in arming the opposition. "The United States needs a seat at the table. Military support provides the leverage necessary to shape a united front politically."

4. Seek an understanding with Russia and Iran. "Ease Russia’s shift in policy by reassuring Moscow that its core strategic and business interests can be protected in a new Syria."

5. Remain open to an active UN role in "finalising a transitional road map once the conditions for a new order are in place".

It is a huge to do list.

Posted by: somebody | Aug 8 2012 17:13 utc | 38

Jawbone, why do you think Hillary is above reproach, or even well intentioned? Why do you think the President knows anything but what he is told? I would suspect Hillary is more likely filtering the info/intel the President receives.

I feel for our Presidents, they are men in bubbles that they don't make and don't control. It's been called the loneliest job in the world. Remember the lesson of the Cuban Missile Crisis, only JFK wanted a peaceful outcome, every adviser suggested a more bellicose approach.

I'm not defending Obama here, either. You could be right. We don't know, and I don't think our institutions know. A small impetuous determined faction can carry the day over the more ambivalent, cooler, calmer heads. And remember, the Presidents have a gun to the backs of their heads, as do our soldiers. Asking questions can get you fragged.

Posted by: scottinDallas | Aug 8 2012 17:15 utc | 39

What is in it for Turkey? Very little to possibly gain but the losses could be huge. I still think that this is Erdogan's war and he is motivated by his MB ideology. The Turkish military is probably tacitly letting him do so because they see this as an opportunity for Erdogan to politically destroy himself. We could be watching an internal political power struggle playing itself out at Syria's expense.

Posted by: ToivoS | Aug 8 2012 17:35 utc | 40

Zalmay Khalilzad's views are sophomoric and uninformed. Also comedic. quotes from his WaPo article:
--The Free Syrian Army is more in tune with realities on the ground, but it remains unclear how unified that group is and whether the paramilitary force can govern responsibly once the fighting ends. [nothing about third countries' involvement]
--Russia and Iran have alienated much of Syrian society in supporting Assad, jeopardizing their long-term interests in Syria.
--Iran, as the principal backer of Assad, will be more difficult to woo. Given the risk of a backlash against allies and sectarian brethren in the regime, Tehran may shift to a two-track policy: abandon Assad, engage the opposition and support the political transition while providing assistance to the remnants of Assad’s regime.
-- Washington should remain open to an active U.N. role in finalizing a transitional road map once the conditions for a new order are in place. The United Nations has played such a role in post-Taliban Afghanistan, among other places, where U.N. special representatives catalyzed a process to establish an interim regime, draft a constitution and hold elections.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 8 2012 17:40 utc | 41

Whatever the outcome now, it's irrelevant! The US as it has done what it wanted, Syria is weak, and will take a decade to recover, the region is in chaos - and the US will come in to provide services - You do not to win or engage in a War to win For the US this has been a very successful job well done...

Posted by: Kevin | Aug 8 2012 18:15 utc | 42

In the Telegraph today is a headline "Syria: Assad regime launches 'savage and barbaric' assault on Aleppo".

Underneath the headline is a slide show of 5 photos from the vicinity of Aleppo. Image 1 shows a mass of yellow dots all over a satellite photo. These are identified as "probable artillery impact craters".

What is odd about this picture is that all the yellow dots - of which there are several hundred - are grouped in the spaces between the built up areas - i.e. in the tilled fields. This is particularly apparent on the enlarged inset on the right side of the image.

Why this should be I don't know unless the FSA conveniently located it's facilities and supply dumps at a distance from civilian stuctures.

Anyone else have any other ideas?

Posted by: despard | Aug 8 2012 18:57 utc | 43

b and somebody - so it all boils down to whether Turkey is called by the Us to engage by itself in a proxy war Israel-Lebanon-2006-style, in which case I would agree with you, or whether Turkey should only provide the pretext for a NATO intervention Libya-2011-style, in which case I don't see any chance of the Turkish army resisting pressure from the Us

@Kevin - I don't think the Us has reached its real aim, which is to weaken the "axis of resistance", Saudis and Qatar haven't managed to export their sectarian vision, Turkey hasn't expanded its influence; if things remain as they stand, it's a clear defeat for all of them

so the Us won't step down their efforts (rather, they will keep trying to escalate) until Russia decides to really use the leverage it has;

@Don Bacon - Khalilzad is just a neocon, and wishful thinking is the main characteristic of that group of ideologues

Posted by: claudio | Aug 8 2012 19:14 utc | 44

Not only neocon, it's a dominant trait of American exceptionalists to see matters through a red, white and blue lens and then attempt to re-order the political universe to suit wrongful preconceived notions, which is why it's much more interesting and instructive to read how another, normal country, say Iran, does diplomacy in a completely different way, seeing the world as it really is and seeking mutually beneficial relationships without considering economic or military force.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 8 2012 19:25 utc | 45

Claudio, that got me thinking - what are the stated US foreign policy goals?

"The starting point for that collective action will be our engagement with other countries. The cornerstone of this engagement is the relationship between the United States and our close friends and allies in Europe, Asia, the Americas, and the Middle East—ties which are rooted in shared interests and shared values, and which serve our mutual security and the broader security and prosperity of the world. We are working to build deeper and more effective partnerships with other key centers of influence—including
China, India, and Russia, as well as increasingly influential nations such as Brazil, South Africa, and Indonesia
—so that we can cooperate on issues of bilateral and global concern, with the recognition that power, in an interconnected world, is no longer a zero sum game. We are expanding our outreach to emerging nations, particularly those that can be models of regional success and stability, from the Americas to Africa to Southeast Asia. And we will pursue engagement with hostile nations to test their intentions, give their governments the opportunity to change course, reach out to their people, and mobilize international coalitions."

Syria is not getting the US close to its goals, does it?

Posted by: somebody | Aug 8 2012 19:35 utc | 46

Sure, Obama talks about cooperation but the "shared value" is master-slave cooperation. Obama's National Security Strategy (NSS) is similar BS. First, it's not "national" in the sense that it was done democratically. No, like most of US foreign policy it is done by fiat -- which makes it easy to avoid, subvert, and disobey. That's the idea. If it were the people's NSS then the president might actually have to obey it. There's more democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan than there is in the US, in this sense. Recent bilateral agreements were considered in both of their parliaments but not in the US congress.

In President Obama's foreword to the 2010 National Security Strategy he says: "In all that we do, we will advocate for and advance the basic rights upon which our Nation was founded, and which peoples of every race and region have made their own. . ."

And the NSS itself states: (excerpts)
"The rule of law—and our capacity to enforce it—advances our national security and strengthens our leadership. At home, fidelity to our laws and support for our law enforcement community safeguards American citizens and interests, while protecting and advancing our values.

"Legal Aspects of Countering Terrorism: The increased risk of terrorism necessitates a capacity to detain and interrogate suspected violent extremists, but that framework must align with our laws to be effective and sustainable. When we are able, we will prosecute terrorists in Federal courts or in reformed military commissions that are fair, legitimate, and effective. . ."

blah blah blah -- none of it is actually done. Since Obama wrote it (in effect) then Obama can toss it. Which is what he does. The King says he'll do this, and then he does that. It's king's business. Nobody else need apply.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 8 2012 19:54 utc | 47

Surprise, Iranian's foreign minister has an op-ed in the Washington Post

"Although Annan’s efforts to end the crisis have been terminated, his six-point plan for political change is alive and well. Why should seeds of discord continue to be planted when the situation can be resolved rationally, through wisdom and providence? Those backing violence in Syria fail to see that whatever they seek through their actions won’t materialize.

Abrupt political change without a roadmap for managed political transition will lead only to a precarious situation that would destabilize one of the world’s most sensitive regions. Iran is part of the solution, not the problem. As the world has witnessed during the past decade, we have acted as a stabilizing force in Iraq and Afghanistan, two other Muslim countries thrown into turmoil. The stability of our region is paramount for world peace and tranquility.

Some world powers and certain states in the region need to stop using Syria as a battleground for settling scores or jostling for influence. The only way out of the stalemate is to offer Syrians a chance to find a way out themselves.

Taking Annan’s six-point plan into consideration, Iran looks forward to bringing like-minded countries together to implement three essential points: ensure an immediate cease-fire to stop the bloodshed, dispatch humanitarian aid to the Syrian people and prepare the ground for dialogue to solve the crisis.

I hereby announce Iran’s readiness to host a meeting of countries committed to immediately implementing these steps in hopes of ending the violence. As part of our commitment to resolve the crisis, I also reiterate our willingness to facilitate talks between the Syrian government and the opposition and to host such a dialogue.

Moreover, in line with Annan’s six-point plan, I once again declare Iran’s support for political reform in Syria that will allow the Syrian people to decide their destiny. This includes ensuring that they have the right to participate in the upcoming free and fair presidential election under international supervision.

As the holy month of Ramadan nears its end, I pray that Syrians will get to break their fast in peace and stability sooner rather than later — for their own interests and those of the world."

How will Hillary Clinton respond?

Posted by: somebody | Aug 8 2012 19:56 utc | 48

Oh, she won't. Those are rational views, and consequently - at that level - Clinton will be unable to respond.

Posted by: Alexander | Aug 8 2012 20:14 utc | 49

I would be happy if indeed al-Oqaidi, the most quoted FSA commander in Aleppo, was killed, but it seems only Press TV reported this without giving any details.
On the other hand since yesterday Aljazeera has only been quoting FSA commanders in Aleppo other than Oqaidi.

By the way, did someone notice how The Guardians Martin Chulov was reporting until around 2 PM that rebels in Salaheddin were hectically retreating and several FSA checkpoints were not manned any longer, only to tweet around 6 PM that nothing has changed and there is no trace of the syrian army in Salaheddin.
Is this not ridiculous?

Also suspect is Aljazeeras claim that rebels shot down a plane over Aleppo:

Posted by: KerKaraje | Aug 8 2012 20:20 utc | 50

Regime Change scenario in Ankara

Davutoglu on the ropes?

Posted by: Rd. | Aug 8 2012 20:37 utc | 51

there is more going on between Iran and the US than is usually talked about. For example this amazing cooperation.

or these and these cultural steps, or this exhibition here.

Posted by: somebody | Aug 8 2012 20:46 utc | 52

@#50 I noticed that about Chulov too. He is one of the worst.

On Aug 7 he claimed the "rebels" were on the verge of seizing all of Aleppo.

Posted by: revenire | Aug 8 2012 20:49 utc | 53

As a turkish citizen, i can say that public opinion is against the idea of intervention. As for the military, they too don't want to invade Syria, or that's the idea i got from my own friends and relatives working in the turkish military. Our Army isn't that modernized and isn't build to invade other countries. We don't have enough capacity attack and invade a country, and people aware of that fact. They also realize that their children would go and die, if it comes to the war.

@36 Paul

Actually olympic games means little and less for the turkish people since we get our attention on football mostly (We are suck at it too, but that's off topic). We recall olympic games once in every four year and then forget about it. We have a sport & youth minister who thinks that Olympic Flame belongs to Turkey.

Apart from that this is a clear sign that how succesful our goventment's sport program is. And they mean to impove this by importing athlets who have a change to win a medal on future olympic games.

Posted by: hikmet | Aug 8 2012 20:56 utc | 54

this here is the economic side - the coming fall of the Turkish Lira

"Erdogan said, “our anger is powerful”, but is his anger at Bashar al Assad so powerful that he will compromise Turkey’s political and economic stability? Make no mistake, should he come good on his threats of military intervention, the billion-dollar-a-day-turnover Istanbul Stock Exchange will go into a tailspin, immediately compromising hot money crucial for the exchange, and engineering a nosedive in the lira. On top of 10 per cent plus inflation, GDP slowdown as recession deepens in Europe, and a $70 billion current account black hole, it’s hard to see most Turks agreeing with adventures that will certainly debase the currency and dry equity markets hooked on offshore capital."

Posted by: somebody | Aug 8 2012 20:58 utc | 55

Davutoglu on the ropes?
The Turkey FM (with the PM's wife & daughter) accompanying a planeload of relief supplies to Burma -- now that's weird. (#25)

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 8 2012 21:01 utc | 56

Something to keep Israel busy in its south.
Who's in back of it -- Iran? KSA?
El-ARISH, Egypt (AP) — After decades of neglect and with the collapse of government authority the past 18 months, Egypt's Sinai Peninsula has become fertile ground for Islamic extremists. Militant groups have taken root, carrying out attacks against neighboring Israel and now turning their guns against Egypt's military as they vow to set up a puritanical Islamic state.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 8 2012 21:05 utc | 57

somebody 46. Funny that bureaucratic speak has gotten so vague that they can actually tell the truth without it setting off alarm bells among the masses.

Posted by: scottinDallas | Aug 8 2012 21:15 utc | 58

The actors pushing for regime change in Syria had banked on a quick and easy victory..They've thrown everything they have, short of open foreign intervention, at the Syrian government and still haven't achieved their objective of regime change..They have too much to lose if this project doesn't succeed - which by all indications, isn't succeeding.

What they've managed to achieve, however, is reviving the ancient sectarian divide that has wreaked havoc on muslim societies across the region(Turkey included)..This will no doubt affect Turkey..Assad once said said Erdogan is a "sectarian minded"..He was right.

Like I keep saying..These things have a life of their own and once they start, it's hard to control the outcome. The fact that Turkey is now open and has become a playing field for Al-Qaeda and their affiliate groups is not lost on the Europeans..They'll surely use that against Turkey when it suits them at the right time..Especially when it comes to Turkey's long running quest to become EU member.

Zero problem with neighbors has now become a real nightmare...

Posted by: Zico | Aug 8 2012 21:23 utc | 59

Don Bacon @ 57

The recent Sinai attacks smells more of a mossad project to test Morsi's resolve and also to put more pressure on Hamas..But the plan seem to have backfired..The Egyptian MB is clearly accusing the mossad of being behind the attacks..Mind you, Israel needs a pretext to reclaim the Sinai as they say...

The mossad have now become a laughing stock in the region..It's now very easy for ordinary folks to identify their operations..Their modus operandi is very similar and so see through..Qui bono???

Posted by: Zico | Aug 8 2012 21:29 utc | 60

@jawbone#27 and scottindallas#37:
The former Senator from New York is an ambitious politician who has years of experience in pushing the right buttons at the "Democrats' ATM" for maximum return in campaign donations. During the 2008 primary, she was AIPAC's top choice among Democratic contenders. She bargained hard with Obama on the terms on which she would accept the SOS position. As SOS, her statements about foreign policy have been closer to AIPAC's positions than those made by Obama. Considering the constant onslaught the Obama administration has gotten from hardline Zionists, especially major donors, Hillary's departure from the administration could effectively distance her from it as she gathers support (and donations) for a 2016 primary bid.

According to the Supreme Court, corporations are people, small donors are window dressing and the only way to win the white house is to promise major donors whatever they want to hear.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Aug 8 2012 21:38 utc | 61

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 8, 2012 5:05:57 PM | 57

amazing how many terrorists islam is able to spawn...but who lies behind them? because they dont have the brains to organise this sort of jihad on several fronts

Posted by: brian | Aug 8 2012 21:49 utc | 62

The US wants regime change in Syria, but not war.

Posted by: somebody | Aug 8, 2012 12:49:49 PM | 37

last time i checked the US was not syria...nor anywhere near it...its as if the US regime had no regard for the people of syria...strange when they are so keen to push 'democracy'

Posted by: brian | Aug 8 2012 21:53 utc | 63

re despard 43

Underneath the headline is a slide show of 5 photos from the vicinity of Aleppo. Image 1 shows a mass of yellow dots all over a satellite photo. These are identified as "probable artillery impact craters".

What is odd about this picture is that all the yellow dots - of which there are several hundred - are grouped in the spaces between the built up areas - i.e. in the tilled fields. This is particularly apparent on the enlarged inset on the right side of the image.

Why this should be I don't know unless the FSA conveniently located it's facilities and supply dumps at a distance from civilian stuctures.

I also looked at the Amnesty images - it was Amnesty International who published the report.

Firstly they don't seem to have understood that 'Halab' (the Arabic for Aleppo) means both the city and the province. The images are of the province, not the city.

Secondly, only two out of five of the Amnesty images show any possible artillery hits, and those are on farmland.

My conclusion is that the Amnesty researcher simply doesn't know wha

Posted by: alexno | Aug 8 2012 22:04 utc | 64

My conclusion is that the Amnesty researcher simply doesn't know what he is talking about.

Posted by: alexno | Aug 8 2012 22:06 utc | 65

@Don Bacon #45 - I agree, but neocons really brought wishful thinking to new heights; I agree on Iran also; besides the fact that weaker countries simply can't afford delusions in their foreign policy, especially if not on friendly terms with the Us, Iran in particular defends its sovereignty in an extremely complex and hostile environment; the way they played the Us in Iraq is a masterpiece of foreign policy

I hope their stance on Syria will bring luck to the nationalist forces there

(I'm on vacation with an irregular internet connection, so conversation is impeded)

Posted by: claudio | Aug 8 2012 22:41 utc | 66

#43 and #65. I think this is a simple visibility bias. Plowed fields will leave behind a very visible and symmetrical crater while an artillery hit in a built out and paved area won't. It is like trying to count wild-life from aerial photos -- one might conclude that rabbits and deer prefer fields and cleared areas compared to brush land and forests.

Posted by: ToivoS | Aug 8 2012 22:52 utc | 67

why is Erdogan doing this? He saw that Iran gained a Shiite satellite state in Iraq, so he wants his own satellite state in Syria.

This is supposed to be Syria's anti-RPG tank armor

Posted by: nikon | Aug 9 2012 1:04 utc | 68

Eyewitness: ‘They fought in Iraq and want to blow up any symbol of the state’
ABU Bakr, a Syrian rebel commander on the outskirts of Aleppo, is a dedicated Islamist determined to overthrow president Bashar al-Assad. But the radical allies that have joined the rebels in recent months alarm even him.
“Let me be clear. I am an Islamist, my fighters are Islamists. But there is more than one type of Islamist,” he says. “These men coming fought in insurgencies like Iraq. They are too extreme, they want to blow up any symbol of the state, even schools.”. . .
. . .Mr Bakr says right now there is no choice but to allow foreign fighters. The fighters have brought in rocket propelled grenades and boxes of home-made explosives. And wherever you find improvised explosive devices, you’re likely to find foreign fighters, explains a rebel called Mohammed in another local unit. “They brought a lot of bomb making experience from the insurgency in Iraq. With their help, our bombs have 3-7 kilometre detonation range. Now, we can even set them off by mobile phone,” he said.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 9 2012 1:20 utc | 69

there bascialy has been agreement between the main outside powers -
US - no De-Baathification, the Syrian Army has to remain intact
Russia, Iran - democracy

I still do not believe in this Schwerpunkt battle ...

Posted by: somebody | Aug 9 2012 6:33 utc | 70

'this video has come out of these thugs lining up captured Syrian government supporters and executing them in such a way as to remind anyone of what the NAZIs did in occupied Poland. According to al Jazeera one of those executed was a member of parliament from Aleppo named Zeino al-Barri. These same prisoners were featured the other day in news reports where the FSA showed them off to globalist reporters and told them they were getting great treatment. As you can see, many of them are bleeding and have apparently been beaten while in the custody of these “rebels” which Barack Obama supports with his “secret orders'

Posted by: brian | Aug 9 2012 6:51 utc | 71

re 67.

I think this is a simple visibility bias. Plowed fields will leave behind a very visible and symmetrical crater while an artillery hit in a built out and paved area won't.

Yes, of course. The point is that the satellite images don't show what Amnesty claim, but they were nevertheless ready to publish them. Either they are ignorant in the matter of satellite imagery (probable), or the push to come up with yet another horror story about the Syrian government overcame the unsatisfactory state of the material. All in all, it doesn't speak very well about Amnesty, and their "neutrality".

Posted by: alexno | Aug 9 2012 7:52 utc | 72

"I find it unlikely that the Turkish military really wants to fight Washington's proxy war in Syria for Erdogan's gain."

I have always been of the mind that the military controls Erdogan.
Therefore if the military wants the fight, it will not be for Erdogan's gain, but, as NATO(Washington)proxy

Posted by: Penny | Aug 9 2012 11:08 utc | 73

Seems like this thing is blowing up in Sinai these days.. regional kaliphate indeed.

Posted by: Alexander | Aug 9 2012 11:19 utc | 74

Iran has lined up an interesting mix of countries here:

"State media said the foreign ministers of Iraq, Pakistan and Zimbabwe were present.

Lower-ranking diplomats, most of them ambassadors, represented the other nations.

Salehi listed those nations as: Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Benin, Belarus, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Oman, Russia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan and Venezuela."

Posted by: somebody | Aug 9 2012 12:54 utc | 75

France now sending troops to Syria/Jordan border to help "refugees"(aka retreating wounded rebels)..After the massive defeat in recent battles, the rebels' handlers seem to be taking matter into their own hands..

This has been a NATO war all along using salafi jihadis from across the region..But the jihadis can't hold ground and are easily defeated..France, a country that is now officially in recession, seem to have endless supply of money for more foreign wars that they will looses..NATO cannot hide behind the rebels anymore as the rebels just don't have what it takes to win the war..The latest news coming from Syria is that some tribes have formed their own militia, backed by the government, to fight the rebels and they seem to be doing very well...

The outcome of this mess will be determined on the battlefield...

Posted by: Zico | Aug 9 2012 13:39 utc | 76

And then there's the British Press --

Telegraph, Aug 9, 2012
Iran hosts a summit on the Syrian crisis – after months of helping Assad shoot protesters in the street

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 9 2012 14:04 utc | 77

I'm afraid there's a blitzkrieg about to happen in Syria. France has deployed troops on the Jordan-Syrian border. They claimed that it was to handle the flow of refugees, but the most likely truth is they will use those troops to invade Syria. Annan's diplomacy was nothing more than a delay tactic for the FSA to receive supply, logistics and better position themselves. The FSA and their Western backers never wanted peace talks, they want to topple the Assad government, and they will try their best to accomplish that end. If it means a repeat of Libya, they'll do it.

Posted by: Andre' E. Williams | Aug 9 2012 14:09 utc | 78

Zico @76
The French forces are in Jordan to help the Jordanian forces prevent the Syrian army from pursuing the rats into Jordan. There has been much talk about these formidable Jordanian forces but their last battle was verses the Houthis and were soundly beaten together with their Saudi counterpartss. These Shiite Muslim Houthis could very easily be brought into the equation in Saudi Arabia. Wait till after end of Ramadhan and Eid al-Fitr, we shall see what that brings in Saudi. There has already been skirmishes between Saudi Salafist and Houthis as recently as June where 24 Salafists were killed.

Posted by: hans | Aug 9 2012 14:14 utc | 79

Don Bacon @ 77

Trashy media outlets like the telegraph are only trying to write their way into turning the tide in favor of the fsa..The truth doesn't matter here..As long as they can get enough segment of the British people to believe their BS is enough for them..I believe they're getting paid heavily for this kind of "journalism" by Qatar etc..

Like I said before, the outcome of this conflict will be determined on the battlefield..The rebels,fsa,snc have burned all possibilities of a peaceful settlement after they listened to Clinton about not entering into any negotiations with the Syrian government..

The much touted Allepo battle for the rebels have ended in a massive defeat for them - both in manpower and hardware. They call it tactical

The formation of local militias by the Syrian government must not be taken lightly..Tribes along the border regions tend to have families on both side..This is a great way to expand the conflict into Turkey and surrounding countries supporting the fsa.

Will the empire back down? I doubt. They've invested way too much to watch their project fail.

Posted by: Zico | Aug 9 2012 14:16 utc | 80

@ Somebody

Hmmm what the hell is Georgia doing attending the Iranian summit on Syria? You wouldn't expect NATO fanboy Saakashvili to side with the Iranian's on the Syria issue. Inclusion of Jordan is well is worth nothing.

On the 48 Iranians abducted, looks like Iran has made some form of contact with the group. Head of Iran's Middle East Affairs Department said today "The contacts made to obtain information on the fate of the pilgrims show that they are all in good health and there is no indication that some of them have been martyred,". This after rumours that 3 had been killed so far now appear untrue.

On Aleppo, looks like the strategic district on Salaheddine is out of FSA control now. According to the FSA's own commanders

"We have staged a tactical withdrawal from Salaheddine" Hossam Abu Mohammed told AFP by telephone. "The district is completely empty of rebel fighters. Regime forces are now advancing into Salaheddin." Another FSA commander Wassel Ayub confirmed the withdrawal. "We had full control of the district last night, but then regime forces bombarded in an unprecedented way," Ayub said. "The situation is terrible, and we have decided to stage a tactical withdrawal."

Also of note is that in clearing Salaheddine, which was the FSA's main stronghold, the Syrian army only used 10% of the forces deployed to Aleppo.

Also on the European front, the well known has-been Sarkozy is back, coming out with a statement calling for foreign intervention in Syria. Apparently this has pissed off most of the French government. The French foreign minister called his statement "an attempt to relive his glory days".

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Aug 9 2012 14:23 utc | 81

I guess the French military team is medical, and Jordan has a real problem, even more so than Turkey
as the refugees will either be able to return or be stuck in Jordan in conditions like this
and it looks like they will be stuck ...

Posted by: somebody | Aug 9 2012 14:33 utc | 82

If David Sanger of the NYTimes is any indication of inside Washington thinking, fear that WMD (chem/bio varieties) may get into "the wrong hands" may force Obama's hand to get involved directly and militarily, most likely through sending in special forces to settle things. In brief, it will be the excuse for going to war. Which will not be called war.

He just appeared in a segment of The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC's public radio station. A substitute host, from the Marketplace business news program, was pretty anti-Syrian government and saw Iran as becoming very belligerent. (Right, the nation which hasn't practiced aggressive war against its neighbors for 2-3 centuries is "belligerent." Riiiiight.)

Sanger may be indicating that the US is going to now go to the Supreme Leader as the Iranian bogeyman in that he said going for nuke weaponization was purely up to the SL.

Audio at the link; WNYC doesn't do transcripts, but it will add a summary of the segment.

Also, if Iran tried to close the Straits of Hormuz, the US is ready to reopen the area in very short time, so gas prices would spike up only briefly. At least that's the plan....

Posted by: jawbone | Aug 9 2012 14:39 utc | 83

News I'm hearing on the radio, from BBC (very early moring) and NPR, is that Aleppo is still in play and the FSA still fighting to retain their positions.

Are things still unknowable or are the reports here on point? It's like we're living without instant communications available! Sanger on the WNYC program said it was impossible to know how things stood because Syria wouldn't let reporters into the country and thus the only reporting was from the edges of the country where reporters entered illegally. (And only spoke with the FSA.)

Of course, some reporters, even from Western media outlets, are in Syria, but that would have spoiled the whole approach Sanger seemed to be taking. Sheesh.

Posted by: jawbone | Aug 9 2012 14:49 utc | 84

There is no way that this could be a repeat of Libya. Two completely different situations.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 9 2012 14:53 utc | 85

Iran is promoting its "Axis of Resistance" against both its regional rivals and the United States. It's Shia vs. Sunni at its core, a battle the US abetted with the destruction of the Shi’ite Askariya Mosque on February 22nd, 2006 in Samarra, a predominantly Sunni Iraq city. Iraq has not enjoyed inter-sect amity since and now it's becoming regional. Divide and conquer.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 9 2012 15:00 utc | 86

Turkish columnist - who support AKP - are worried about the policy Mr Davutoglu has taken:

Iranian perspective on why Turkey is doing what it is doing:

Posted by: Irshad | Aug 9 2012 15:06 utc | 87

Rebels "lost" Aleppo - it is official - i.e. BBC

this Iran conference turns out to be quite an embarrassment for the "West", the BBC somehow loses it trying to explain ...

"Our correspondent says it is a meeting of people who are already close to Tehran and to the Syrian regime. Those sending representatives include Russia, China, Iraq, Pakistan, Jordan and India."

Posted by: somebody | Aug 9 2012 15:23 utc | 88

The "we have to secure the wmd" narrative only works if the government looks like it's about to fall. But it's more in control now than three Weeks ago by far. The "rebels" have to win something for it to work.

Posted by: lysander | Aug 9 2012 15:31 utc | 89

Asked during an appearance yesterday at the Council on Foreign Relations about a no-fly zone, John Brennan, A senior Obama aide, replied: "I don't recall the president ever saying that anything is off the table." Table-talk again.

The US has two 5th-gen planes, but the F-35 (strike) and the F-22 (air superiority) have significant problems and probably wouldn't be used. So the fourth generation jet planes that US would depend on are the F-15 and F-16. But these are the planes that Russian air defenses (which Syria has) were designed to handle.

Several months ago, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey warned lawmakers about how capable Syrian air defense are. According to Dempsey, Syria's surface-to-air missiles and surveillance radars are denser and more advanced than those that Libya possessed.
PS: I have no air experience so jump in if you do.

Brennan: "So rest assured that various options that are being talked about in the press, and sometimes being advocated, these are things that the United States government has been looking at very carefully, trying to understand the implications, trying to understand the advantages and the disadvantages. We have done a number of things in support of the opposition," Brennan said, without going into detail. "There is a lot of humanitarian assistance that is going in there. What we want to do is to make sure that we understand exactly who are going to be the recipients of any type of aid."

And they better not share! Or Brennan will get mad. (He's already mad.)

Clinton is due to have talks on Syria in Turkey on Saturday.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 9 2012 15:50 utc | 90

Iran is promoting its "Axis of Resistance" against both its regional rivals and the United States. It's Shia vs. Sunni at its core..

No Iran is not promoting sectarian Shia vs Sunni, rather it is the want of control of the desert religions (Christian, Islam, Judaism). The prize as Iran see's it is the removal of the "custodian of the 2 mosques" from the Wahhabi's. You must ask why such effort in destabilising Syria and not say Lebanon. The answer lies in Syria's assets of revered Shia sites. If Syria had fallen (BTW this was all meant to be over by June) the sites would have been destroyed and with it probably the theocracy in Iran would have failed. Iran has always protected minority religions throughout it's history.

Posted by: hans | Aug 9 2012 16:04 utc | 91

@hans #91
Iran is not the core of the problem. Iran's "Axis of Resistance" is a (recent) defensive action to the heightened US "divide and conquer" strategy which is Shia vs. Sunni at its core. That's the schism that the US has been promoting, in my view, with GCC (KSA) and Turkey as allies. Destabilization requires exploiting schisms and that's the overall US strategy everywhere.

Who's destabilising Syria? Not Iran.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 9 2012 17:36 utc | 92

OMG, this is serious, Syria is giving arms to terrorists to fight its enemy according to Turkey FM Ahmet Davutoğlu. Davutoğlu's comments came as he spoke to reporters aboard a plane carrying a Turkish delegation to Myanmar on Thursday. In the same interview, Davutoğlu also announced a new policy on Kurdish autonomy in Syria.

Today's Zaman:
. . .Davutoğlu also reiterated that Turkey will take all necessary steps against PKK threats in some northern Syrian cities, such as Afrin and Kobani, accusing the Syrian administration of aiding these groups. “Assad gave them weapons. Yes, this is not a fantasy. It is true. We have taken the necessary measures against this threat,” he added. Davutoğlu's comments came as he spoke to reporters aboard a plane carrying a Turkish delegation to Myanmar on Thursday. . .

“I told them, the leader of the SNC chairs the council as a Syrian Kurd. And you [KNC] are sitting here as Syrian Kurds. Sit down and come to terms. What we oppose is the threat of terrorism and the possibility of one of you claiming possession of somewhere. Elections should be held in Syria; a parliament should be formed that includes Kurds, Turkmens and Arabs. You can come together and say we will grant autonomy [to the Kurds]. This is up to you. We would not oppose that,” Davutoğlu said.

(Just don't try it in Turkey.)

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 9 2012 18:17 utc | 93

Martin Chulov has to eat a little crow as his friends in the FSA flee in panic.

Posted by: revenire | Aug 9 2012 18:27 utc | 94

Turkey sounds like Pakistan ...

"The use of Turkish territory as a launch pad for foreign Islamists on their way to Syria would be hugely embarrassing for the government, given Turkey's calls for an end to the violence in Syria and concerns among Turkey's western allies about activities of militant groups such as Al Qaeda in Syria.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, openly supports the political opposition against Mr Al Assad and has been calling on the Syrian leader to resign. But Turkey insists it does not send arms or fighters over the 900-kilometre border.

But the opposition in Ankara says that does not cover the activities of foreign militants. "They move around in cars and buses," said Mehmet Ali Ediboglu of the opposition Republican People's Party, the CHP. "There are hundreds, if not thousands. They come from places like Libya, Chechnya, Afghanistan and Africa."

Mr Ediboglu and Mevlut Dudu, another CHP politician, said foreigners were renting houses near the border to shelter foreign fighters before and after they take part in clashes in Syria. Mr Dudu said Turkish ambulances carried weapons and ammunition into Syria and returned with wounded fighters for treatment in Turkish hospitals."

Posted by: somebody | Aug 9 2012 20:51 utc | 95

PKK Turning Southeast Turkey Into a Small Benghazi?

Posted by: Nikon | Aug 9 2012 21:09 utc | 96

Paul@36: Some of the great stories of this Olympics (OT interlude for those interested in sports as commentary on world/national power relations):

China - across the board - better than ever, and obviously following a game plan where they contest nearly every sport in which they have a chance. What it means is that there is huge investment in sports all over China. More than anywhere else. they have the same slow and steady - and mercantile - approach they are pursuing chasing economic dominance. Syria to them, by this view is but one skirmish along the way - good opportunity to sap the will - and resources - of their competitors. Much as they do in Badmington and Diving.

US- if you subtract the medal haul in swimming, they are running in place, and in fact, falling back, medal count-wise. In several key sports, ground is lost to certain countries like jamaica, that sees the track and Field events as their big chance (and soon the African nations will splay bigger role too). Yes, there are the ball games - but did anyone notice that it's the women's teams making the final rounds (other than basketball, of course, which is a team of professionals)? anyone noticed no wrestling or boxing or judo or top notch Gymnastics men contenders? those are collegiate sports for the most part, and that's one unintended consequence of TitleIX (ps I am not male. I just like variety).

UK, Australia, Germany etc - smart anglo-saxon countries put much of their investment in winnable sports - made sure they were expanding, like the indoor cycling and sailing events. But beware - China is taking notes - can't count on them leaving those sports alone for log. At least one Chinese man won gold so far in a sailing event.

Russia - poor Russia. Not much gold any longer -though they still got their share, just not golden. But they'll be back, as will Cuba, That oil money got to go somewhere.

Turkey - disappointment - agreed.

Israel - huge disappointment - for first time in over 20 years, zero medal haul. Mostly not even making finals. Sports is a good barometer for national mood and priorities. it takes major investment across the board to produce a few world class athletes. At a pathetic $30 M, this is obviously not where Israel's interest are. And as the relative proportion of ultra-orthodox increase, the total attention to sports has only one direction to go - downhill.

Sorry for the diversion, everyone. Need a little levity now and then given the awfulness of what is being perpetrated in Syria. :

Posted by: Merlin2 | Aug 9 2012 21:18 utc | 97

Erdogan's call for end of violence in Syria makes him the joker of the century...

This guys has Al-Qaeda on his soil. Along with all of NATO & GCC spooks roaming around his country potting regime change in Syria..Now his FM has the nerve to say Assad is arming the PKK..

Do Turkish politicians live in a parallel universe????

Posted by: Zico | Aug 9 2012 21:25 utc | 98

You can take it to the bank.

Zaman, Turkey , Nov 23, 2007
US pledges to flush out PKK before May

Two top generals of the US army assured Turkey on Wednesday that the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) will be eliminated by May next year, a top military official said on Wednesday.

Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, gave their word that the cooperation between Turkey and the United States will flush out the outlawed PKK terrorists by May, 2008, said the same source.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 9 2012 21:46 utc | 99

Don Bacon @ 99

The article in Zaman can best be described as "how to win friends and make more enemies in the process"..The Pakistanization of Turkey will come at great cost to Turkey. They'll find out the effect by the end of this year..

Posted by: Zico | Aug 9 2012 21:56 utc | 100

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