Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 30, 2013

Syria: Erdogan's Kurdish Problem

Building on the recent progress the Syrian army will have cleared Homs city of insurgents in a week or two. The next step then should be consolidation in Homs governate and a build up for a fight to kick the insurgents out of Aleppo.

The various insurgency groups are continuing their competition for the booty they have yet to make. The Muslim Brotherhood faction of the insurgency, the so called free Syrian Army, continues its decline while the Salafi/Wahabi groups and the Al-Qaeda types (only a gradual distinction) of Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria are on the rise:

Today, opposition military forces can be divided into three categories: groups loyal to the SMC, most of whom maintain the FSA brand name; Salafists, whose ranks are dominated by Syrians; and jihadists, who increasingly recruit from across the Islamic world and many of whom have at least sympathy for Al Qaeda.
As such, Salafist groups, notably Harakat Ahrar Al Sham Al Islamiyya, now represent the most strategically powerful players in the conflict and serious rivals to the moderate SMC leadership.
The Syrian Military Council under General Idriss is begging for weapons from "western" states. But as it is losing cloud on the ground it is seeking alliances that will make any weapon delivery less likely:
General Salim Idriss, commander of the FSA, the name under which moderate rebel units fight, appealed to leaders of independent Islamist brigades - which are currently not part of the alliance he leads - to join its ranks, according to a leading figure from one of the armed Islamist factions involved in the talks.
Thursday's apparent overture by Gen Idriss appears to have offered to share advanced US-supplied weapons with conservative Salafist factions - on condition they act in concert with the FSA and guarantee not to pass munitions on to the even more radical Jabhat Al Nusra, said another opposition activist who was aware of the meeting.
It is doubtful that the Obama administration will give serious weapons to the FSA if the FSA is aligning with the Salafists who regularly cooperate with the Al-Qaeda groups:
Buried in this Washington Post article on the recent fighting between a PKK faction on one side, and al Qaeda's affiliates in Syria -- the Al Nusrah Front and the Islamic State of Iraq -- on the other, is confirmation that other groups are allied with al Qaeda in the fighting in northern Syria.
One of those groups, the Ahfad al Rasoul Brigade, is funded by the Qatari government.
The US government is fooling itself if it believes it can reliably vet Syrian rebel groups to ensure that arms supplied by the US do not fall into al Qaeda's hands.
The Kurdish PKK aligned group which has taken to fight the Syrian insurgents has intensified its call to arms:
"The Committees for the Protection of the Kurdish People called on all those fit to carry weapons to join their ranks, to protect areas under their control from attacks by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighters, Al Nusra Front and other battalions," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Prominent Syrian Kurdish politician Issa Hisso was assassinated early yesterday outside his home near the Turkish border when a bomb planted in his car exploded.

The fighting of the Syrian Kurds against the Islamists is a big problem for Turkish prime minister Erdogan. Turkey does not want an autonomous Kurd enclave in Syria but it has little ability to prevent it. It could of course send its own army but then the internal peace process with Kurds in Turkey would immediately break apart and the PKK attacks on the Turkish state would start anew. Likewise - Turkish support for the Islamists fighting the Kurds in Syria will be seen by their blood brothers in Turkey as an attack on themselves.

To find a way out Turkey has opened talks with the Syrian Kurds:

Turkish intelligence officers met in Istanbul last week with Saleh Muslim, head of Syria's Democratic Union Party (PYD), a Kurdish group whose militias have been fighting for control of parts of Syria's north near the Turkish border.

The meeting followed Muslim's declaration that Kurdish groups would set up an independent council to run Kurdish areas of Syria until the war ends. Ankara fears that kind of autonomy could rekindle separatist sentiment among its own, much larger Kurdish population as it seeks to end a 30-year-old insurgency.

These talks were held before Syrian Kurdish politician Issa Hisso was killed by Islamists which will only intensify the fighting.

Now Turkey will have to decide. Will it continue the peace process with the Kurds or will it continue support for the Islamist in Syria by allowing their supplies and fighters to cross the Turkish-Syrian border. It can not achieve both. Any attempt for an alliance with the Kurds while at the same time supporting "non-radical" Syrian insurgents is likely to fail. Those "non-radicals" are clearly in decline and more and more aligned with the radicals and the secular Kurds will never condone the Islamist presence on their grounds.

Preferring peace with Kurds also has its danger. Stopping the logistics for the al-Nusra type Jihadist could bring their wrath onto Turkish grounds. But a Kurdish buffer zone at the border could probably prevent that.

Turkey's problem are also complicated by the increasing burden of Syrian refugees. After for two years practically calling for Syrians to flee to Turkey new refugees now get rejected and the Turkish army now fights them as "smugglers" to prevent them from crossing the border.

So what is it Mister Erdogan? Peace with the Kurds or continued support for the Islamists? Ending the Turkish support for the insurgency in Syria would of course solve most of Syria's problem. One hopes that those who support Syria have a clear picture of how to achieve that.

Posted by b on July 30, 2013 at 19:20 UTC | Permalink


@all - sorry for light posting. I have to finish a project on a August 6 deadline and need time to work on that. Please behave.

Posted by: b | Jul 30 2013 19:28 utc | 1

Our creative friends at DEBKAfile have put out a story that the Syrian air force is bombing the Syrian Kurdish militia positions, to hinder them from setting up positions in the Kurdish parts of Aleppo against the forthcoming Syrian army assault. It also says Syrian air force planes have crossed into Turkish airspace while doing this, but that the Turks have not reacted, the implication being that the Turks are happy to to facilitate any Syrian anti-Kurdish action. This sounds to me like disinfo, intended to undermine the possibility of a Syrian govt accord with the Kurdish militias, by sowing distrust and paranoia. It's embedded in a larger story which headlines the fall of Homs, perhaps you might think a little prematurely. The story is here.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 30 2013 20:07 utc | 2

That would be two strikes against Erdogan: failure in Syria and the fall of Mursi in Egypt. Not that failure isn't rewarded in Ankara, just as it is in Washington...

If Homs is secured, it means that the government will control four of the five biggest cities (Damascus, Homs, Latakia and Hama). It's not looking good either for the jihadis or for Obama.

Posted by: JohnH | Jul 30 2013 20:27 utc | 3

Rowan, I agree that sounds like disinformation. I recall Debka claiming Turkish tanks invading Syrian territory in the past. The mossad living up to its motto. By way of deception...

Posted by: Hilmi Hakim | Jul 30 2013 20:34 utc | 4

Idriss is barking up a tree. I think they should give Hitto another shot. He was a highly respected academic.

Posted by: dh | Jul 30 2013 21:49 utc | 5

This is an historic opportunity for the Syrian and Iraqi governments to turn a weakness into strength by offering genuine autonomy to the Kurdish regions in their countries.

By doing so they will immediately change the balance of power in the Saudi/Gulf/US/NATO offensive against the Resistance in the Arab world.

At the moment Iraq is reeling as Bandar's legions spread terror aimed at weakening the shia dominated government. They are able to do this because Maliki has a northern front as well as a western front. It is impossible to take on the al qaeda/takfiri forces while the Kurdish question is up in the air.

In Syria the regime has the same opportunity: allow the Kurds the autonomy they have seized, (justifiably in that Asad has not protected them from NATO/al qaeda aggression) and not only will the Kurds take care of the wahhabi forces, but Turkey's Kurds will be strengthened by the concessions from Iraq and Syria.

At the least Erdogan will not be able to pour his resources into supporting the anti-government militias in Syria, as he has to face up to the challenge of replying to the legitimate aspirations of the Kurdish people politically rather than militarily.

Posted by: bevin | Jul 30 2013 22:02 utc | 6

@6 I think everybody assumes the 'the Kurds' all want total independence. Not necessarily the case. Some kind of autonomy may be more to their taste.

Posted by: dh | Jul 30 2013 22:13 utc | 7

The Kurds are smart enough to know who is winning. They've stayed on the sidelines of the war for two years, watching both the Syrian Army and the FSA kill each other. But its always good to be on the winning side and they sense Assad is winning. If they seal the Turkish border region to FSA supplies, they will have a grateful Assad after the fighting is done.

And anyway the Kurds know Assad represents a multi-ethnic Syria. What would be in store for Kurds under a Salafist victory?

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Jul 30 2013 23:22 utc | 8

Reportedly, President Bashar Assad turned control of parts of northern Syria over to militant Kurds a year ago, and Syrian governmental forces retreated from the Kurdish regions of Syria without a fight.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 30 2013 23:38 utc | 9

And then, a year ago, "Smiley" Davutoglu, Turkish FM, claimed Assad armed the Kurds. V said 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.

Who knows -- fog of war.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 30 2013 23:44 utc | 10

Autonomy is defacto Independence for the Kurds because any remaining Turkish official would just be ignored and if the Turks get run off the Tigris/Euphrates headwaters, they might as well be in Europe for all the power they can exert in the middle east.

Posted by: heath | Jul 31 2013 2:04 utc | 11

What are your thoughts on the third major prison brake out in about as many weeks. If memory servers: Iraq, Afganistan and now Pakistan; about 2000 prisoners. Are these prison attacks staged by the same people? What are the implications if any for the Middle East wars?

Posted by: TomV | Jul 31 2013 2:45 utc | 12


There was also a recent prison break in Benghazi, Libya. Though most of the prisoners there were probably not Jihadists.

As I said in the recent open thread, someone is building up manpower for a big action. Given those nearly simultaneous prison breaks it might be AlQaeda Central that ordered these breaks. It suggests to me that some three month from now (on 9/11?) we will see a synchronous major attack in several countries including massive suicide bombings. Some kind of Tet offensive spread over several countries.

Posted by: b | Jul 31 2013 4:05 utc | 13

@ #13
You mean al-Qaeda central in Langley, Virginia? heh-- I don't believe there is another.
That 9/11 thing is getting rather tired -- maybe they'll pull it off on 9/10 or such.

Recent news is that the regular military lobby in the US congress is breaking down and not dependably voting for money, money everywhere. They need a little jolt, methinks. Stop them from restraining the Pentagon with budget cuts and sequestration. They've even cut back on money for Afghanistan! The good war! And who wants to see it end so soon, twelve years.

I just don't believe there is a central al-Qaeda. But I do believe in a central, limitless CIA.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 31 2013 5:00 utc | 14

14) Saudi client sub contracting I suppose.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 31 2013 5:14 utc | 15

15) I know, you're remembering Obama bowing down to the fat-ass, despotic Saudi king. But that doesn't mean that the US does Saudi bidding. Obama had dropped his contact lens at that very moment. It can happen. Israel is still #1.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 31 2013 5:45 utc | 16

@Bevin #6;

"This is an historic opportunity for the Syrian and Iraqi governments to turn a weakness into strength by offering genuine autonomy to the Kurdish regions in their countries."

I have always wondered what constitutes "people" for the leftists. It can't be religion, is it ethnic background? the ethnic background in this region is very much mixed there is no way you can tell a Kurd from a Persian, an Arab or a Turk. Is it the language? Well, there are many dialects within Kurdish so far apart that their speakers don't even understand each other, in fact some dialects of Kurdish are closer to Persian than to other Kurdish dialects.
And what is this "genuine autonomy" which is supposed to be short of independence? After all in Iraq at least there is a de facto independent (as opposed to autonomous) government with its own flag and army, doing business with neighbours completely independent of the "central" government (in fact against it!) and still they don't seem to have obtained this"genuine autonomy"?? Furthermore, why is this "genuine autonomy" an ethnic right? Is autonomy to be ethnic based? Who is there to guarantee such rights to the various ethnicities/dialects within the so called Kurdish people? Who is there to guarantee the non-kurdish minorities rights within the Kurdish regions(eg. Turkmens, Arabs, Persians)? What about the rights of non-separatist Kurds living in that area? What is supposed to happen to the millions of Kurds migrated (throughout centuries) to various non-kurdish parts of Iran/Turkey/Syria? Are we supposed to go through ethnic cleansing (each language group forced to migrate to his own region)?

Furthermore what is exactly the difference between the Kurdish pro-independence (the much better word to describe them is separatist) movements and such movements in Bosnia, Kosovo or other parts of former Yugoslavia?
Does the road to freedom, social justice and development pass through "separatism"? or is it the road to a subservient relationship with the western imperialism which passes through "separatism"? What does the recent history of Yugoslavia tell us? Who supported the separatist movements in Yugoslavia, and which powers is Barezani right now in bed with?

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Jul 31 2013 5:45 utc | 17

13) possibly a ahow down of Saudi Arabian networks with Muslim Brotherhood networks, also possibly in Libya an alliance with "pro Gaddafi" groups copying the Egyptian alliance.

This article here claims Turkish secret service cooperation with Jihadis joining Al-Nusra and a Kurdish PYD agreement with Al Nusra, whilst the present fight was sparked by a different Jihadist group.

Met by intelligence officials O.E., one of our sources, said he crossed the border and went to Syria before the Jabhat al-Nusra-PYD clashes. He crossed from an unsupervised area on the Turkish side to the Syrian side controlled by the PYD. O.E. said, “We told the PYD we were there for Jabhat al-Nusra and they let us pass.” O.E. said many people cross the same way: “Fighters coming via Chechnya and Afghanistan are met at the Syrian border. There are intelligence officials there. Those crossing the border inform the intelligence people of their affiliation and under whose command they will be. Then, they cross the border and report to their units."

O.E. said those heavily wounded in clashes are brought to Turkish hospitals. He added, “Some return to their countries by the same route. There are al-Qaeda mujahedeen from Afghanistan and the Caucasus fronts who come with their families. Most of them settle in Syria. There are hundreds of militants who come the same way from Northern Africa, the Caucasus, Europe and Afghanistan. They simply cross the Turkish border and join the fight.”

O.E. said Chechens are now one of the strongest groups in Syria. “Under their commander Abu Omar, about 1,000 Chechens came to Syria. First they were with Jabhat al-Nusra, but now they have moved over to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS),” he said.

O.E. said many Turks had gone to Syria to fight. “Some were martyred. Some stayed for a while and returned. Some couldn’t resist going back to Syria. A retired policeman who is a friend of mine went to Syria to fight. He trained fighters in weapons. Several of us went to Syria before the fighting between the PYD and Jabhat al-Nusra broke out. Without being asked anything on the Turkish side, we just crossed to an area of Syria controlled by the PYD. We told them we came to [fight with] Jabhat al-Nusra and they let us enter,” O.E. said.

O.E. claimed that it was the ISIS that was flaming the clashes with the PYD. “The ISIS declared that Jabhat al-Nusra was its subordinate organization. Jabhat al-Nusra commanders refused this claim and said they were under al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri. These claims caused disputes within the organization. Chechen groups under Abu Omar in Syria split from Jabhat al-Nusra and joined the ranks of the ISIS. It was the ISIS fighters who provoked the recent clashes with the PYD. Reports said the ISIS entered and opened fire in PYD-controlled villages to disrupt the non-hostility agreement between the PYD and Jabhat al-Nusra,” he concluded.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 31 2013 5:55 utc | 18

I'm having trouble forgetting that Erdogan flounced out from behind his ambiguity when he donned his EU Judeo-Christian Capitalist wannabe hat and sent an old fighter-jet on a 'probe' mission toward Syrian defenses - only to see it unceremoniously bug-splatted by conventional Syrian AA defenses.
That told me a lot about what a hard nut to crack Syria would prove to be - for a bunch of craven cowards who believe too much of their own bs. Amusingly, the dire implications of that event appear to have gone right over Erdogan's head without a glimmer of comprehension.

So if he 'forgot' that Assad's immediate response to that was to grant the Syrian Kurds some autonomy AND thinks that joining the (flat broke & busted) failed state known as the EU (to whom Turkey is as welcome as a fart in a honeymoon boudoir) still seems like a good idea, then Erdogan is likely to make even bigger blunders in the future.
It'll become his "legacy" in Turkey - if it isn't already.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jul 31 2013 6:13 utc | 19

18) The Muslim Brotherhood networks now have a choice to go with Saudi Arabia or Iran (They seem to be in a power fight in Libya to source their own financing but are unlikely to win that).

Posted by: somebody | Jul 31 2013 6:16 utc | 20

17) Capitalism unites when it comes to production, it divides and turns colonialist when it comes to resources. The only chance of the Middle East to escape eternal wars is to turn productive. Iran and India are on a good track, Pakistan and Afghanistan are not.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 31 2013 6:42 utc | 21

The ISIS declared that Jabhat al-Nusra was its subordinate organization. Jabhat al-Nusra commanders refused this claim and said they were under al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri. These claims caused disputes within the organization. Chechen groups under Abu Omar in Syria split from Jabhat al-Nusra and joined the ranks of the ISIS. It was the ISIS fighters who provoked the recent clashes with the PYD. Reports said the ISIS entered and opened fire in PYD-controlled villages to disrupt the non-hostility agreement between the PYD and Jabhat al-Nusra. - from 'somebody', 18
That's very interesting. If ISIS is the outfit that is run by Iraqi al-Qaeda, whereas Nusra is run by the CIA stooge Zawahiri in AfPak somewhere, then that suggests the ISIS Iraqis broke free of CIA remote control but continued to receive Qatari money & weapons, which is why Qatar is now in disgrace, and the Sauds should take over control of all the Jihadi groups as far as CIA is concerned. Iraqi al-Qaeda has repeatedly broken away from US purposes in the past, and US has had to play Jihadi factions against one another in Iraqi via 'Sahwa' etc.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 31 2013 7:04 utc | 22

Posted by: somebody | Jul 31, 2013 2:42:38 AM | 21

But Pakistan doesn't belong in the list. It is following China's lead. Millions of Pakis work in sweat shops performing low-tech jobs exported from the West by the 1% and from China and its 1%. They're a bit late to the game, having missed the halcyon days of the '70s, '80s, '90s and Noughties, when the 1% were pocketing most of the price difference. But as China grows richer, and workers become more fussy about vocational "status", Pakistanis will get wealthier and smarter.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jul 31 2013 7:15 utc | 23

"Pakis" ?


Posted by: OhLordy | Jul 31 2013 9:59 utc | 24

"As I said in the recent open thread, someone is building up manpower for a big action."

I think Penny first made that connection, way back on the 23rd

Posted by: OhLordy | Jul 31 2013 10:06 utc | 25

23) Are you sure? Pakistan still has a huge trade deficit and non industrial exports.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 31 2013 11:27 utc | 26

@23 somebody;
Same goes for turkey, India etc. They all have humangous trade deficits chronically. The only genuine exception is china. Even in case of countries such as brazil the occasional trade balance is provided through the vast plundering and export of natural resources/raw materials. Watch turkey's misery in the next few years when they run out of natural resources to privatize and and end up privatizing the breathing air and selling their family members!!

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Jul 31 2013 12:09 utc | 27

Yeah sure, they (the Qaddafist and the Taliban together) plan an air attack to free the G'mo guys (just before O' delivers hundreds of them back to Yemen)

Posted by: Mina | Jul 31 2013 12:18 utc | 28

Yeah sure, AQ plan an air attack to free the G'mo guys (just before O' delivers hundreds of them back to Yemen) Posted by: Mina | Jul 31, 2013 8:18:07 AM | 28
In comment 13, I called him "the CIA stooge Zawahiri in AfPak somewhere." It has seemed to me self-evident for years that if 9/11 was bogus, UBL was bogus too, and if UBL was bogus, Zawahiri was bogus too. The main thing Zawahiri is doing is pumping the CIA's usual answer to Iran, which is: our proxies are going to massacre innocent Shi'ite civilians at a rate of hundreds per week, and if you Iranians lift a finger to help them, we shall treat whatever you do as a declaration of war.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 31 2013 12:49 utc | 29

Posted by: somebody | Jul 31, 2013 7:27:50 AM | 26

Are you sure?
I thought I was but my evidence refers to Bangladesh, not Pakistan.

Four Corners covered the victims of 3rd world sweat shops patronised by the big-name fashion brands from the bleeding heart angle, after 1000+ workers were killed in a building collapse earlier this year. The business environment and everything else are highly unregulated; which is one of the main reasons the torrent of Western worker's jobs will continue to flow to 3rd world countries (until workers in the West are prepared to work for $5 per day).


Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jul 31 2013 13:06 utc | 30

@ Tom V

What are your thoughts on the third major prison brake out in about as many weeks. If memory servers: Iraq, Afganistan and now Pakistan; about 2000 prisoners. Are these prison attacks staged by the same people?

Three prison breaks:

1) Abu Gharib in Iraq on July 23rd.

2) Daraa Ismail Khan in Pakistan on July 29th.

3) Al Kuifiya Prison in Libya on July 28th.

Simple logic would assume that 1 prison break would be an attack, 2 prison breaks would be a coincidence, but 3 prison breaks indicate a plan. Could be looking for manpower for Syria, could be in advance of a attack.

However there is another theory. All 3 are failing states with a weak central government probably lightly defended prisons. Could just be that the opportunities in Libya, Pakistan and Iraq were there. But I don't think so... they came to close together not to be coordinated. 3 attacks on prisons in 3 different countries within 6 days of each other.

Someone planning something.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Jul 31 2013 13:44 utc | 31

About those prison breakouts. For me, its quite clear: It was coordinated (by the Saudis?) and soon they'll join the Jihad in Syria.

Posted by: Gregg | Jul 31 2013 13:56 utc | 32

Just call it the "Islamic Spring (break)"

Posted by: Mina | Jul 31 2013 14:26 utc | 33

Once the MB eliminated, it was easier to force the Israeli and Abbas into the theater of the so-called "negociations".
With Ashton delivering some messages to Morsi and Bandar meeting Putin, things are probably going to get much clearer in the coming days :روسيا اليوم

Posted by: Mina | Jul 31 2013 14:46 utc | 34

27) you are right on the Indian trade deficit generally though the US still manages to have a trade deficit themselves versus India :-)) and India does export high tech goods and services.

India's general trade deficit seems to be partly caused by gold imports which sounds like a luxury problem.

I suppose the problem is politics - inequality - a high tech highly educated middle class next to slums.

Political independence, colonialism is no issue for India - it is for Pakistan.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 31 2013 15:28 utc | 35

On the prison break:
In Iraq people living near the AbuGhraib prison had been warned. The intelligence folks knew about that but did not act on the information. It was more or less an inside job. There was also a second prison break simultaneously but I found little info on that one.

In Pakistan the intelligence folks knew the attack was coming and had warned everyone. Preparations fro defense were made but in the critical moments one planned reinforcement simply didn't come. Were they just cowards or was this planned?

Today Zwahiri launched another audio tape and said AQ will free all prisoners including those in Guantanamo.

No idea what that means. In all very murky stuff.

Posted by: b | Jul 31 2013 15:58 utc | 36

Putin meets Bandar

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday held a rare and previously unannounced meeting with Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan to discuss the situation in the Middle East, the Kremlin said.

"A wide number of questions regarding Saudi-Russia relations were discussed as well as the situation in North Africa and the Middle East," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies.

The topic was of course Syria. Putin will ask what the Saudis want of Syria and tell them that they can not have it.

Posted by: b | Jul 31 2013 16:12 utc | 37

A concerned Iraqi Kurd leader is pressing Erdogan on his Jihadi support. Erdogan. "Who? Us? We would never support Jihadis." I guess Barzani did not believe him.

Ankara to Barzani: We do not lend support to al-Nusra Front

Meeting with Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, Turkish leaders assured that Turkey was not lending its support to the al-Qaida affiliated al-Nusra Front in Syria, Turkish diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with Barzani on July 31, a day after Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu held a closed-doors meeting with the Kurdish leader.

Turkey and KRG had a common stance and concerns about the recent developments in the region, sources said, adding that Barzani had a similar stance with Turkey regarding the future of Syria.

Iraqi Kurds voiced concerns about al-Nusra Front becoming a powerful force in an area neighboring Iraqi Kurdistan, which could put northern Iraq’s stability in jeopardy, according to Iraqi Kurdish sources.
According to Turkish sources, Ankara did not support any group in Syria, Turkish officials responded when Barzani expressed that Iraqi Kurdish people were frustrated with the al-Nusra Front.

Posted by: b | Jul 31 2013 16:28 utc | 38

Backtracking on the MB great projects

Al-Masry Al-Youm

Dokki Misdemeanor Court on Wednesday upheld a ruling sentencing former Prime Minister Hesham Qandil to one year in prison.

The ruling also removed Qandil from his post after he failed to implement a judicial ruling during his tenure as Egypt's prime minister.

In April, the Dokki Misdemeanor Court had sentenced Qandil to one year in prison and dismissed him from his position because he failed to implement a court order that would have nationalised the Tanta Flax and Oils Company.

Some employees at the firm previously filed a lawsuit claiming Qandil did not implement the Administrative Court order, which invalidated the privatization of the company, but did not elaborate.

The court ruling also terminated a contract signed between the government and Saudi businessman Abdallah al-Kahki, returning the company to state ownership and reinstating dismissed employees.

Posted by: Mina | Jul 31 2013 17:09 utc | 39

37) It will also be about Chechnya and the security of 2014 Sotchi olympics. Maybe Saudi Arabia will buy Russian weapons. There is some potential Saudi Arabian leverage.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 31 2013 17:20 utc | 40

its rare for the truth to make a public appearance:
The Jewish Press article, titled “Syrian Civil War and Egyptian Coup a Boost to Israel” said that the “longer the war goes on” it is in Israel’s interests and it “doesn’t damage Israeli national security.
“It should be equally clear, however, that in the end Israel wants the rebels to win,” the Jewish Press article continued.
“Syria’s regime is supported by Hizballah, Iran, and the Assad government. These are the greater of the two evils,” the article, written by professor Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, said.

Posted by: brian | Jul 31 2013 17:36 utc | 41

@40 Putin may also want the names of Chechens on the payroll.

Posted by: dh | Jul 31 2013 18:09 utc | 42

Actually researching Bandar's connection to Putin is fun.

There is this assessment of the Jamestown Foundation (yes, I know who they are ...) from 2008

The news is unpleasant for the U.S., as from 1999 to 2006, Saudi Arabia received $6.5 billion under arms transfer agreements with the United States, an annual average of $815 million in inflation-adjusted fiscal year 2006 dollars; and in July 2007 Washington announced the sale of $20 billion in advanced weaponry to Saudi Arabia and its neighbors in the Gulf Cooperation Council. For Russia, to enter such a lucrative arms market, which for years was the exclusive purview of the EU and the U.S., is potentially worth billions of dollars. While Saudi Arabia has yet to express an interest in such top-end (and expensive) items as fighters, Riyadh's potential shopping list reportedly includes not only the items mentioned earlier, but also 150 advanced T-90S tanks, over 100 helicopters including the Mi-35, Mi-17 and Mi-28NE variants, the Buk-M2E medium range air defense systems and several hundred BMP-3 armored personnel carriers; and the wish list could grow, according to a Russian defense industry source (Interfax-AVN, July 15).

For Washington, perhaps the most surprising aspect of the agreement is the deep involvement of Bandar, who appears to be the driving agent behind Saudi Arabia's growing military cooperation with Russia. During his time in Washington, Bandar by dint of seniority became the unofficial dean of the diplomatic corps and was so close to the Bush family that he earned the sobriquet, "Bandar Bush." Obviously Bandar's loyalties may be more malleable than Washington previously thought.

More concrete details of the agreement will doubtless become known in the coming days; but for Washington the final slap must be Bandar bin Sultan's comment, "Both Russia and Saudi Arabia agree upon and understand each other in virtually every energy-related issue" (Interfax, July 14). Saudi Arabia and Russia are the world's number one and two oil exporters, controlling nearly a quarter of the world's oil production between them. If the two "understand each other," then the potential anguish over the growing Russian-Saudi rapprochement could extend far beyond the Western military-industrial complex to include motorists and those seeking to heat their homes next winter. The only potential silver lining in the newfound friendship between the two is that Saudi Arabia is a member of OPEC while Russia is not, which may cause their interests to diverge. An energy hungry world can only hope so.

And this "FP" assessment from 2011

The day before the summit, a front-page story appeared in the New York Times declaring that "Saudi to Warn Bush Over Israel Policy." In the article, an unnamed senior Saudi official offered this inflammatory threat:"

It is a mistake to think that our people will not do what is necessary to survive, and if that means we move to the right of bin Laden, so be it; to the left of Qaddafi, so be it; or fly to Baghdad and embrace Saddam like a brother, so be it. It's damned lonely in our part of the world, and we can no longer defend our relationship to our people.

Everyone immediately knew that the quote belonged to the Saudi Ambassador, Prince Bandar. Was it bombastic? Yes. Enraging? Certainly. But did it also reflect at least part of the Hobbesian reality faced by American foreign policy, however distasteful? Unfortunately, it did. So long as that remains the case, the United States would be wise to do its best not to leave Saudi Arabia, or Prince Bandar, feeling lonely. Putting the princes's 2002 proposition to the test is a risk that no one should be eager to run.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 31 2013 19:07 utc | 43

re 31

Could be that the prison releases are linked. And intended for an operation.

If it's Syria, then it's for holding up a losing action. 2 or 3000 jihadis are not going to change the present developments. If they have local support, then OK, but I don't see it.

If Iraq, my colleagues agree with me that the Iraqi Sunnis are not ready for a rebellion.

If Egypt, I don't know the situation well, but the military coup seems to me to open the possibility for jihadis. Particularly as the military have now decided to suppress the MB demonstrations, I imagine by force.

Posted by: alexno | Jul 31 2013 21:37 utc | 44


Or "The Mujahideen Sprung?"

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Jul 31 2013 21:49 utc | 45

saudiA recruiting yemenite mercenaries to top up Free 'Syrian' Army

Posted by: brian | Aug 1 2013 1:00 utc | 46

No wonder the insurgents are having problems. This is the most inefficient "smuggling" operation I've ever heard of: 1000 "smugglers" to move 6000 liters of diesel. Or maybe Reuters lost something in the translation of Turkish bureaucratese.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Aug 1 2013 1:09 utc | 47

‪#‎Saudi‬ ‪#‎Arabia‬ responsible for ‪#‎Syria‬ ‪#‎bloodshed‬: Political Analyst - A look at a popular Saudi Cleric ‪#‎Fayhan‬ ‪#‎Al‬-‪#‎Ghamdi‬, and his confessed murder of his own 5 year old daughter ‪#‎Lama‬ because he "doubted her virginity."

Posted by: brian | Aug 1 2013 1:18 utc | 48


Sad to say that there is no need to wonder why he "questioned" the virginity of his innocent child.

Though I can't really see the necessity of 20th century communism's insistence on personal atheism, it is more than clear why they would have had the desire to destroy the church, root and branch. You have only to look for the 20th century Christian counterparts of Al-Ghamdi.

Hopes for hell are to good for these "men". Such inhuman monsters deserve earthly justice.

Posted by: guest77 | Aug 1 2013 3:59 utc | 49

Ankara holds talks between Nusra and PYD
World Bulletin (Turkey), Jul 30 2013

Turkey has started negotiations regarding the clashes in the Kurdish region of northern Syria between PYD forces and Jabhat al-Nusra in pursuit of a ceasefire. According to Muzaffer Duru’s report in Taraf, the Syrian Opposition Forces National Coalition, headed by Kurdish-descended Abd’ul-Basit Sayda, has intervened to end the conflict between the PYD and Nusra. The PYD and Nusra forces have been fighting for 14 days in Ras al-Ayn in northern Syria. The Commission has started negotiations with the National Kurdish Council for peace talks between the PYD and Nusra. FSA commander General Selim Idris, who spoke with Taraf regarding the conflicts between Nusra and the PYD, said:

We do not want any more blood to flow. Our only goal currently is the toppling of Assad’s regime. Afterwards everyone will get their democratic rights.

A Jabhat al-Nusra regional commander said regarding the subject:
While we were engaged in fighting against the regime, the PYD used the opportunity to capture Ras al-Ayn where we have lived together. We are not attacking Ras Al-Ayn. We just want to get it back.

According to local sources, the reason the clashes have continued between the PYD and Nusra is because both sides are receiving support, otherwise the conflict would not have lasted this long. It has been gathered that political Kurdish and Arab leaders have been mediating between the two sides, with no results as of yet. While the opposition has urged both sides to return to their prior positions, the PYD has not adopted this approach. Due to meeting held by Abd’ul-Basit Sayda, Abd’ul-Ehed Siteyfo and commission members with the National Kurdish Council in order to prevent the growth of conflict, there have been no clashes since last night. Meanwhile, head of the Sharia Court Abu Usama explained the following regarding the announcement made from a mosque. His statement said:
The Kurds in Abyad’li Tel are our brothers. We do not know who made the announcement from a mosque. Peace is necessary for all of us. The Kurds who left their homes should return. Incidents of theft at Kurdish homes should be reported to us immediately. Statements harmful to Kurds should be disregarded.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Aug 1 2013 19:46 utc | 50

re 50

In my view, Erdogan has stopped pushing for regime change in Syria. It has become too dangerous for him personally.

Posted by: alexno | Aug 1 2013 23:11 utc | 51

@ Pirouz_2 17

I agree with you strongly about the dreams of a Kurdish state. It's no different than the mostly German promoted idea of an Albanian state in Kosovo, before there was any fighting at all. And post Yugoslav war, Germany in practical terms has a protectorate over the area. Ironically, or not, the Nazis were great friends of the same population during WW2. It's quite funny how Germany realized it would be much easier to become Europe's hegemon without force of arms. The EU and its neoliberal demands on sovereign states have been more powerful than bullets. Sorry for the digression.

It's worth remembering that the last time Kurdish statehood was important was before Iraq war 2. I can see it being used as a wedge, an attempt to fence off the oil rich Kurdish areas as an attempt to slow the ending of the war on Syria. The Syrian Kurds are smart enough not to fall for it.

The Kurds I know are good people, but granting a Kurdish state anywhere within the borders of the dream Kurdistan would create Israel 2.0. There would be another century of war. It won't happen, because Israel exists. But if something should happen to it, I'm sure Kurdistan would be the next best thing.

There's no reason to blame it on 'leftists,' the human rights blablabla brand of neoliberals can never be leftists, no matter how their regional political classification scheme works.

Posted by: Crest | Aug 2 2013 3:19 utc | 52

@Crest (52)

Just trying to clarify my position: I was not trying to blame leftists for the Kurdish separatism. It is just that I see an ambiguity within the leftist literature and a common mistake among leftists. The ambiguity is in their usage of the word "Khalq" (a Persian word roughly equivalent to "people" or "nation"), I never understood the exact definition for this entity called "Khalq". And their common mistake in my opinion is that a lot of leftists think that the Kurdish problem is a matter of greater local autonomy and could be solved by granting Kurds this autonomy. This, in my opinion, is fundamentally wrong.

First of all it has the problem of putting 'ethnicity' as the basis for autonomy. This opens up a whole bag of problems: what is the political definition of ethnicity? Is it to be defined based on language? Are, for example Kurds, a single "ethnic group"? what about other kurdish dialects (which are quite different from each other) which -in my opinion for political reasons- have been lumped together as "Kurdish"?

Secondly, Kurdish movements are not striving for 'autonomy', their goal is a unified independent Kurdish state and nothing short of that. Kurdish separatist groups use the demand for autonomy as a first step towards that goal. The best example is the Kurdish region of Iraq which is a state completely independent of Iraq (but completely dependent and subservient to USA/Israel). It was "supposed" to be autonomous inside a federal Iraq and now it has its own army (and it has even taken control of some of Iraqi air force jet fighters and refuses to submit them to the central government), its own flag, complete control over its borders (independent of the "central" government)with the neighbouring countries issuing permits to foreigners to enter its territory, and exports oil which is supposed to be "Iraqi wealth" and therefore should be under central government's control.
Thirdly, the main underlying reason for Kurdish problems is "uneven development" within the countries in this region. Kurdish regions are among the least developed parts of Iran and Turkey. But then again "uneven development" is not the result of Iranian/Turkish racism or Kurds being robbed and exploited by the Persians or Turks. Uneven development is a part and parcel of capitalism in the periphery, and therefore, the way to address it is not through 'separatism' because the new independent state will not have any structure different from Iran or Turkey. The way to properly address 'uneven development' is to fundamentally alter the economic structure of the states in this region this has absolutely ZERO to do with the Kurdish separatists' agenda.

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Aug 2 2013 6:46 utc | 53

"Khalq" is not Persian but Arabic, at least in origin. In the Qur'anic context it means "the Creation" as opposed to "the Creator" (Haqq). Frequently it refers to the created beings, ie humanity. But its etymology suggests that its original meaning was measuring. It is the noun form of the verb "khalaqa". A pre-Islamic example illustrating the primary meaning of "measuring" is this couplet from the eulogy of Harim ibn Sinan by Zuhayr bin Abi Sulma:

You indeed cut what you have measured (khalaqta).
Some of the people measure (yakhluku) but do not cut.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Aug 2 2013 8:38 utc | 54

Sorry, that Arabic word in the last line should have been "yakhluqu" with a "q". The root "KhLQ" stays the same through all the permutations of the word, as in all Semitic languages. In practice, organisations that call themselves fighters or campaigners for the "khalq" are usually leftist. The word seems to have changed its meaning gradually, from "the Creation" as a whole to "the created beings", viz humanity, "the masses" in left-wing parlance.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Aug 2 2013 9:30 utc | 55

If we go by the Etymology Then more than half of English is not actually 'English'. What I meant to ask was the sociologic definition of "khalq".

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Aug 2 2013 16:28 utc | 56

Well, when I was browsing around on that, I saw "masses", as in my reading of it as usually a left-wing appellation, eg
Khalq ("Masses") was a faction of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan.
Mojahedin-e-Khalq ("The People's Mujahedin of Iran") was posing as left-wing when it chose that name.
Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation... some sort of charity for the masses, run by MQM in Pakistan....

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Aug 2 2013 17:44 utc | 57

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