Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 10, 2015

Turkey Invades Syria, Goes For Aleppo

Today al Qaeda in Syria, aka Jabhat al Nusra which the U.S. has nurtured since 2012, pulled back from its areas in Aleppo governate. The Turkish president Erdogan wants these areas to block a Kurdish autonomous area in north Syria but also as a supply zone for his forces which those will need to later take Aleppo city, Erdogan's real strategic target.

Nusra claims that the retreat was because it would not support Turkey's attack on Syria and/or fight against the Islamic State for solely Turkish and U.S. gains. But the timing makes it clear that it had simply received an order or an offer it could not refuse: "Move now or we will cut you off from the money and logistics you have received for so long."

A few hours after Nusra pulled away from the fronts in Aleppo governate and moved towards Idlib the Turkish invasion started:

Reports of first Turkmen Battalion from the #Turkey backed Sultan Murad Army entering #Syria via Bab Al-Salame #Aleppo

BREAKING Kurdish ANF: "occupying forces organized by MİT" entered Syria from the Bab Al-Selamê border gate #TwitterKurds #Turkey #Syria 1/2

ANF: (Turkmen) “Sultan Murat Brigade” & “Fatih Sultan Mehmet Brigade” entered #Syria via Bab al-#Salameh + one group coming from Idlib 2/2

Al-Nusra leaves N Aleppo 4 Idlib, Turkmen groups leave Idlib 4 N Aleppo = preparation 4 Turkish controlled Safe-Zone

U.S. Air Force fighter jets have arrived at Incerlik air-base in Turkey and provide air cover for the Turkish invasion.

The Turkish intelligence service M.I.T. has trained some 5,000 Turkmen, allegedly Syrians of Turkish heritage and speaking the Turkish language, to take Erdogan's corridor to Aleppo:

Touching the Turkish border at the provinces of Kilis and Gaziantep, it is nearly 100 km in width, from Azaz in the west and Cerablus in the east and with an approximate depth of 40 km. Turkish jets (and artillery when necessary) will hit targets mostly in this region for “cleaning” it of ISIL forces. This is planned to be executed with the help of a 5,000 strong army mainly consisting of Turkmens living in Syria. One source said that this force, which has been assisted by Turks, would be in coordination with the U.S.-led coalition. (Turkish government had announced earlier that the ammunition carried by the trucks belonging to the National Intelligence Organization and seized by gendarmerie on their way to Syria in January 2014 were not going to ISIL nor al-Nusra related groups but Turkmens defending themselves.)

Many of these "Turkmen" will simply be relabeled Jabhat al Nusra mercenaries and jihadists, others will be Turkish special forces. They are to hold the ground for the coming Turkish "moderate rebel" attack to take all of Aleppo.

Meanwhile international negotiations over ending the war on Syria are proceeding. Some interesting new information came to light today.

From Al-Akhbar but with Mujtahid quoted tweets… nevertheless… an interesting turn we are seeing in many media reports – the essence is a way to get an Arab agreement on Bashar staying (for now) and stopping this war.

Translated by in tonight’s Daily Briefing: “…The first reaction came from within the Kingdom through the tweets of famous Saudi Tweeter, Mujtahid, who revealed the existence of “an Emirati, Egyptian, Jordanian, Omani agreement to rehabilitate the Syrian regime; and attempts at convincing Saudi Arabia to approve the plan.”
“Mujtahid indicated that the Saudi Deputy Crown Prince promised that the Kingdom will not object to the rehabilitation of the Syrian regime and the return of the ambassadors of any country to Damascus “provided that the Saudi participation in this arrangement is delayed.” He added that “Ben Salman has no reservations and the reason for his hesitation is because the American and Turkish intelligence services believe that Al-Assad will not be lasting for much longer and that it’s wrong to bet on him….”

The Arabs dictators who wanted Assad to go have changed their opinions. Russia (and Iran) nudge them along. They are ready to again accept Assad and the Syrian state. As they are mostly paying all the mercenaries fighting against the Syrian state this would be a real step towards peace.

But the Turks and the U.S. have different plans. How else could they now insist that Assad will soon fall? Something they have predicted since 2011. They must have their plans to continue the war and Erdogan's attack on Syria today is exactly into that direction.

As the Arabs are now turning away from regime change in Syria the U.S. and Turkey come under time constrains. They will now move faster to achieve their aims.

Posted by b on August 10, 2015 at 18:57 UTC | Permalink


This is just the Yankees trying to look tough.
They're not. And 'something' will 'avert the crisis' at the 11th hour.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Aug 10 2015 20:00 utc | 1

Al Manar did not report about the "Turkoman battalion", but it reported other activities in that spot:

According to the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the terrorists were fighting over control of four villages in Aleppo province. They are located in a strategic location along the militants’ supply line from Turkey.

The UK-based opposition source said ISIL began its assault using two bombers on Saturday night. At least 10 terrorists and 18 militants were killed in the clashes.

Meanwhile in its Sunday statement, Nusra slammed Turkey over its joint plan with the United States against ISIL militants in the Syrian-Turkish border area, saying the aim was to serve "Turkey's national security" rather than the fight against the Syrian government.

The Nusra Front, an enemy of ISIL, said participation in the campaign was forbidden.


Nusra attacked "American-trained moderates" exactly in the town/village on the Syrian side of Bab al Salam border crossing. Now they took their forces away and issued a fatwa against cooperation with Turkey directed against ISIL. The relationship of Nusra and ISIL is quite complex, I have hard time figuring out of al-Nusra is an organization of a renegade lieutenant of al-Baghdadi who was supposed to organize the Syrian branch of ISI but ended up making an independent organization, or opposite, al-Baghdadi is a renegade Iraqi leader of al-Qaida who was supposed to lead Iraqi branch but ended up making an independent organization, but clearly the leaders know each other personally and they alternate between competitions and assassinations and trade and cooperation.

So al-Nusra avoids cooperation with the "Turkomans" and leaves the chore of fighting with ISIS to others. If it was easy for a smallish non-Arab force to take territory from ISIL using air support then Kurds would control Raqqa and Mosul. It was also reported that thousands of radicalized young Turkish Turks and Kurds did join ISIL, so it is hard to gouge whom the "Turkomans" would join, and would they have any zeal to fight their cousins in ISIL (I assume that many literally have cousins there).

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Aug 10 2015 20:40 utc | 2

The removal of support by Arab dictatorships is acknowledgement the job has been done, and now the western terrorists will start taking over.

Posted by: tom | Aug 10 2015 20:52 utc | 3

Maybe this has something to with it:
Putin’s initiative to create ‘united front’ to fight ISIS intrigues US, allies – Lavrov
News | 10.08.2015

RT - The US and its allies should cooperate with Syrian President Bashar Assad in fighting Islamic State, “a common enemy” of the international community, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview on Sunday.

“Our American partners and some countries in the region persistently refuse to recognize Assad as a partner, which is rather strange,” Lavrov said in an interview with Russian state Television channel Rossiya 1, aired on Sunday.“Assad was a fully legitimate partner in destroying chemical arms but somehow he is not when it comes to fighting terrorism.”

A coalition against Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS/ISIL), as planned by Russian President Vladimir Putin, would“bring together all those already fighting on the ground,” that is, the Syrian and Iraqi armies, the Kurds and “the part of the armed opposition that represents Syrians.”

“Instead of settling their scores with one another, first one must deal with the common threat, and then seek to agree on how to live in their own country,” Lavrov said, adding that there was “a lot of superficiality and a lot of speculations”regarding the role of the Syrian government in the conflict with IS.

He revealed that President Putin’s initiative was “two-tracked”, proposing both a coalition of people who fight Islamic State militants on the ground and the promotion of a “political process” in order to prevent the incitement of civil war in Syria.

The foreign minister also recalled two recent meetings with his US counterpart John Kerry. He said he warned Kerry there was high risk that any fatal mistake in Syria could aggravate the conflict, to the point that nothing could control it. A much easier way, according to Lavrov, could be the negotiating table, but “the Americans are unfortunately not ready for it.”

“We simply suggest cleaning up our methods from double standards, from attempts to approach any situation in a volatile way and divide terrorists into bad and good categories,” Lavrov said, pointing out that “it won’t work”.

On Tuesday, Lavrov is to discuss Syria and IS with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir in Moscow, according to RIA-Novosti. They will also dwell on "closer coordination on global energy markets".

Posted by: okie farmer | Aug 10 2015 21:13 utc | 4

This interview was noted in an RT article:
An interview w US ex-spook Michael T. Flynn - US nurtured ISIS ... plainly stated.

Posted by: GoraDiva | Aug 10 2015 22:55 utc | 5

"The Turkish president Erdogan wants these areas to block a Kurdish autonomous area in north Syria"

OMG! Of course he does.

Erdogan knows as do the Turks that a Kurdistan in Syria and one in Iraq spells death and destruction for Turkey

What the hell do you expect him to do?

b advocates for exactly what has been going on. The removal of resident Syrians from their home and lands, via the NATO backed ethnic cleansing of Arabs, Christians and many others by the mass bombings and the murderous, child stealing Kurdish militias.

For the creation of a NATO backed Kurdish terror state- super ally of Israel

Do you realize what the Kurds with their American death flights have been doing to the Syrians Not allowing them to go back to their homes at all. Never mind the abuse NATO backed Kurds have been heaping on their kin folk

Of course, b, wait a day or two to let this pass after all it is your blog and you control the information, completely
Hence the marginalization of comments that don't jibe with official memes and agendas as promoted by the likes of yourself and other gatekeepers

Posted by: Penny | Aug 10 2015 23:38 utc | 6

Saudi Arabia is in a mess. Its costly war in Yemen is taking its toll. Its internal security situation is deteriorating and its revenues weakening. In addition, it does not see Turkey's sudden military display as a positive step, quite the contrary.
The Saudis are starting to realize that by supporting Sunni Turkey against Shia Syria they are making the same mistake they did in supporting Saddam Hossein, a Sunni leader against Shia Iran.
This is why they are revisiting their attitude toward Syria and Bashar al Assad.
So we have now the US and Turkey wanting to finish off the Kurds, ISIS, the Syrian government and Hezbollah.
On the other side we have Arab countries waking up to the plot and timidly moving to rally with Russia and Iran.
If the US and Turkey do not quickly install a Syrian 'interim government' in the North safe zone, the tide will turn in favor of the Arab rehabilitation of Syria

Posted by: Virgile | Aug 11 2015 1:27 utc | 7

and in related news....

Ambulances ferry ISIL terrorists between Adıyaman and Syria, CHP report says..

Syrian training program no longer seen as only way to fight Islamic State
turkeys book on how to create more enemies..

Posted by: james | Aug 11 2015 2:04 utc | 8

Link to syrian training program..

Posted by: james | Aug 11 2015 2:06 utc | 9

3rd and last try on giving the link for the syrian training prog...

Posted by: james | Aug 11 2015 2:08 utc | 10

And check out this headline - Israel charges 2 Druze in assault on wounded Syrian rebels
This happened in late June... Israelis transporting wounded Syrian "rebels"
What next?

Posted by: GoraDiva | Aug 11 2015 3:12 utc | 11


Syria is a majority Sunni country with Shias only making up 13% of the population and the Alawite rulers are a fraction of the Shia total.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Aug 11 2015 3:59 utc | 12

Posted by: GoraDiva | Aug 10, 2015 11:12:32 PM | 10

Hardly surprising. You don't have to be insane to be "Israeli" but it helps.
Remember this?

Golda Meir: "We cannot forgive them from forcing us to kill their children."

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Aug 11 2015 4:29 utc | 13

GD @5: Thanks for the link. Another brick in the wall of proof, that the US is creating and funding terrorists as mercenaries in Syria.

Posted by: ben | Aug 11 2015 19:21 utc | 14

I haven't been able to find anything confirming that Turkey has invaded Syria.
Can someone help me with this???

Posted by: plantman | Aug 11 2015 19:29 utc | 15

The US fear bow back from Turkish raids on Iraq. They were surprised and outraged over the short warning of Turkish bombing.."A Turkish officer came into the Combined Air and Space Operations Center (CAOC), and announced that the strike would begin in 10 minutes and he needed all allied jets flying above Iraq to move south of Mosul immediately,” said the military source, describing events that took place in the center, in a secret location in the Middle East.
"We were outraged," the source said, according to the report.

Posted by: harry law | Aug 11 2015 19:33 utc | 16


Are you questioning a MOA report based on unverifiable Tweets? There can be severe repercussions for this kind of deviant thinking or any kind of thinking, be warned!

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Aug 11 2015 20:08 utc | 17

Interview with Turkish PM, about the 'no fly zone'

Posted by: okie farmer | Aug 11 2015 20:27 utc | 18

Turkish PM Davutoglu 'wants' to see a safe zone inside Syria, he did not say one was going to be set up, the US do not seem to want to endorse that wish, and insist that the use of the Turkish air base was what was agreed on between them. Everyone knows a safe zone inside Syria would be contrary to International law, under any pretext, and Russia, China and Iran would create blue murder if the Turks tried it on.

Posted by: harry law | Aug 11 2015 21:13 utc | 19

no one wants to is tight ,bankers not keen,fact is this has been a budget conscious war,.expect no major strategies...Aleppo has a great history,good place to start the "beginning of the end" in Syria

Aleppo Central Synagogue.

The Central Synagogue of Aleppo, (Hebrew: בית הכנסת המרכזי בחאלֶבּ, Arabic: وسط كنيس حلب‎), also known as the Great Synagogue of Aleppo, Joab's Synagogue or Al-Bandara Synagogue (Arabic: آل باندارا-كنيس‎), has been a Jewish place of worship since the 5th century C.E. in Aleppo. When it functioned, it was considered the main synagogue of the Syrian Jewish community. The synagogue is noted as being the location where the Aleppo codex was housed for over five hundred years until it was removed during the 1947 Aleppo pogrom, during which the synagogue was burned. This synagogue still stands.

when it is quiet I would want to visit this shul.i have a prayer in mind

Posted by: mcohen | Aug 11 2015 22:27 utc | 20

Davutoglu doesn't know what arguments he could use to persuade the international community of the necessity of the 'safe zone"
He said that it would prevent the flow of illegal emigrants going to Europe. Brilliant argument, no?
In fact he is unveiling Turkey's secret plans about the 'safe zone': A Mini-Syria ( similar to the Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq)
Turkey will send the Syrian opposition SNC leadership ( now in Turkey) to create an 'interim' government in the safe zone. It will also send there the 2 millions Syrian refugees that have been burdening Turkey.
The 'safe zone' as demanded by the brilliant Turkish PM will be under the responsibility of the international community for its protection, political and FINANCIAL support.
Turkey would have gotten rid of these costly refugees, of the opposition leaders who have settled in Turkey, and of Bashar al Assad by building an alternative government that would split Syria.

If Davutoglu thinks that the international community is that stupid to accept that plan, his naivety is hilarious.

Posted by: Virgile | Aug 11 2015 22:50 utc | 21

Plantman at 14 --

It took just a little digging, MSM doesn't seem to really want to discuss it. "Turkey invades Syria" turned up nothing, but a search for the Sultan Murat Brigade filtered for recent recent results did the trick.

I know nothing about this website, but it does look pretty professional. And Signs of a buffer zone in Syria reads pretty pro too.

It has some good background on the underlying policy issues surrounding Turkish participation in the operations against ISIL. It then moves on to this account of recent events near Aleppo.

Reports from various sources confirmed that groups belonging to Jabhat al-Nusra withdrew on 5 August from some of their military bases in rural Aleppo... after a series of meetings with a number of rebel groups... of Jabhat al-Shamiya’s coordination alliance. The agreement was to gradually replace Nusra forces with other groups and to relocate Nusra groups in other areas in Aleppo and Idlib. The reports linked this withdrawal to the alleged buffer zone due to its timing; the alleged groups that took over Jabhat al-Nusra’s bases being affiliated with Turkey, mainly Al-Sultan Murad Brigade; and that all bases are located within the alleged buffer zone. The Nusra Front announced on 9 August that it was withdrawing from positions near the Turkish border because it refuses to aid Ankara’s plan to establish an ISIS-free safe zone which only aims to further Turkey’s interests.

It’s worth mentioning that a political party called The Syrian Turkmen National Bloc announced on 7 August that it’s recruiting policemen for the buffer zone. According to the vacancy add published on the parties’ Facebook page, selected personnel will be trained in Gaziantep, Turkey, for two months. What singles this case out is the fact that the party is strongly affiliated with Turkey — it’s based there and funded by it.

The Brigade seems a new formation, I could find little about it, apart from it being said to be Syrian Turkomen. That you have a brigade named for an Ottoman sultan should be a dead giveaway as to who's behind it. Wikipedia is pretty clear that the Syrian Turkmen Brigades are owned and operated by Istanbul.

As of the eighth, "Revolutionary" Forces of Syria media site has the Brigade shelling towns in the Aleppo region.

So is it an "invasion" or "a consolidation of control behind client-proxy mercenaries"? Does it matter? Hey, it sure does.

We Yanks have schooled our Turkish clients well in the fine art of "plausible deniability." One must allow, this certainly is a masterpiece of that venerable form. You can deny both that it's an invasion and it's Turkish.

And the best part -- you get gullible folks like Wayout at 16 running interference for you. Way to go!

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 11 2015 23:22 utc | 22

Here's a story from The Business Times reporting on the invasion. Took all of 2 min to find it.

Posted by: tom | Aug 12 2015 0:11 utc | 23


I have learned a new term in the last few years that I think best describes the efforts of commenters like Wayoutwest.

The word is agnotology. It is the manufacturing of ignorance, such as was and continues to be done about the potential harm of nicotine. It has been a common tool of social control for centuries.....if the facts don't look good, grab the microphone and start asking obtuse and misleading questions, etc.

Sometimes tools like Wayoutwest are useful foils to show poor thinking, and that type needs to be called out for its issue obfuscation but mostly I am trying to not feed the paid trolls any more of my time than necessary.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Aug 12 2015 0:37 utc | 24


'... mostly I am trying to not feed the paid trolls ...'

Thanks. I personally wish more people would follow your example. Whole threads have been destroyed by people 'rebutting' the nonsense spewed forth by these whitenoise-makers. Amazingly, their crude, personal attacks work ... again and again ... even here at moa.

Posted by: jfl | Aug 12 2015 1:14 utc | 25

@21 rufus - last statement.. exactly..

@23 psychohistorian.. this is what the western msm appears to have become - one big agnotology experiment..

Posted by: james | Aug 12 2015 1:39 utc | 26

If the headline had read 'Turkey backed Syrian Turkmen return to set up Buffer Zone' I would have had little to complain about but that was not the headline's claim. The IBTimes story is clear about this reality and what Turkey hopes to gain from this developing story. No Turks reported crossing the border means no 'Turkish' invasion!

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Aug 12 2015 1:54 utc | 27

@26 wayoutwest

Are you fucking serious.

So you did read the headline from ibtimes that says this:" Turkey, US, Syrian ISIS-Free Safe Zone: Turkmen Brigades Move Into Syria"

Then immediately under the 1st photo is captioned with this:" Turkish army tanks, which took part in an operation inside Syria "

And then the very first sentence is this: " A group of ethnic Turkmen fighters arrived in Azaz, Syria, on Monday afternoon to launch the first phase of a joint U.S.-Turkish initiative to establish an Islamic State group-free "safe zone" in the country

Posted by: tom | Aug 12 2015 2:08 utc | 28 has an interesting article on Turkey's role -
"When, in 2011, the United Kingdom and France launched a double war against Libya and Syria..." - not sure about this, though (author does not explain)... I thought since about the summer of 2011 that it was Qatar that started the war against Syria... but the article is intriguing nevertheless.

Posted by: GoraDiva | Aug 12 2015 2:19 utc | 29

A devious plan - US destroys Assad, which will allow ISIS to grow and control a lot of territory... Then ISIS destabilizes Jordan and the ultimate prize - KSA. US forces swoop in under the pretext of restoring order. In the process, it just so happens that the Saudi dynasty falls. Isn't that what the US has really wanted all along?

Posted by: GoraDiva | Aug 12 2015 2:29 utc | 30

Interesting analysis, Goradiva.
I was wondering that myself.
Look at Egypt where the US had a perfectly good puppet in Mubarak and decided he had to go.
Couldn't that happen in Saudi Arabia too?

Yeah, it could.
There's no telling who the US might go after next, because the country is run by stark raving lunatics.

Posted by: plantman | Aug 12 2015 2:44 utc | 31


Good link Tom but you should have read beyond the caption where it clearly states that the Turkish tanks were full of Turkmen fighters.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Aug 12 2015 3:07 utc | 32

psycho & jfl at 23-24

Personally, I'm here to combat all forms of nonsense, paid or otherwise. I am not of the "ignore-them-they-will-go-away-before-we-ban-them" school.

As fairy tale creatures, trolls are fun! And who here hasn't gotten down and dirty under a bridge somewhere? And yes, under stairs, walkways, boardwalks, and culverts beneath roadways count.

I do believe I came across the term "agnotology" in boning up on climate denialism. It seems to be go-to play in the Right's game plan (see, e.g., "birtherism"). I would characterize it as the art and science of the production of unreasonable doubt.

And wayout at 26 --

I agree, you "had little to complain about..."

Did you catch this in the IBT piece you found so enlightening?

"At first everyone thought the tanks were filled with Turkish soldiers, but it was the Turkmen," one of the rebel fighters said.

The soldiers... were trained in Turkey and are in one of the biggest moderate-opposition rebel coalitions in the country....

Turkmen fighters entering Syria is a significant new development in the war against ISIS, because it shows that the U.S. and Turkey are going to rely on them....

Swallowing the dog to catch the cat, I'd say. DC's new sub-contractor is the big news here, I think.

Since they looked like Turks, as they are ethnically and linguistically Turkic, and came from Turkey, with Turkish training and equipment, I think we can understand a little early confusion.

Let's assume there are no Turkish military advisers, technicians, or logistics and medical personnel in the baggage train, shall we?

Since your problem then is only with the click-bait title, you're good now on the substance if we amend it to "Turkish-backed Invasion"?

Whatever one elects to call this fragrant rose, there are Turkish-controlled military operations underway in Syria, and they gain de facto control of this territory. And isn't that technically an act of war? What might the Turks do if Syria suddenly took such liberties for a "no-fly" zone in Turkish Kurdistan?

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 12 2015 3:08 utc | 33

tom at 27 --

Cut him a little slack. The caption opens by saying "Turkish tanks were spotted at the Syrian border as Turkey plans for a stepped-up operation..." The photo depicted tanks at a border crossing in Feb. 2015, when the Turks retreived the remains of Suleyman Shah from Northern Syria.

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 12 2015 3:28 utc | 34

No slack for the WayoutLiar.

Quote from him:" No Turks reported crossing the border means no 'Turkish' invasion!"

And then WayOutContrarianForTheTrollingEffect, tells me the IB times story was a good one, that not only contradicted his previous bullshit, but actually numerous times in the story had criteria for the beginning of an invasion has been fulfilled.

Posted by: tom | Aug 12 2015 4:08 utc | 35

And this insane doozy. "Turkish tanks were full of Turkmen fighters." Turkish Tanks you say.

Posted by: tom | Aug 12 2015 4:10 utc | 36


Since the beginning of this war there has been a constant propaganda assault by the Assad regime, Iran and other parties to strip the mostly Syrian rebels of their Syrian national identity by labeling them foreign Jihadis or mercenaries. This ploy has worked in some circles hut it is not helpful in understanding this conflict whatever side you support.

Moving on and it may be premature but some reporters in the ME are starting to address the questions of what will occur after the removal of Assad. They point to the softening of Russian resistance to the UN CW investigation and other signs of their willingness to negotiate a new roadmap for Syria.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Aug 12 2015 4:12 utc | 37

Personally, I'm here to combat all forms of nonsense, paid or otherwise. I am not of the "ignore-them-they-will-go-away-before-we-ban-them" school.
Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 11, 2015 11:08:59 PM | 32

Interesting concept...
Long-winded space-wasting ineptitude trumps brief space-wasting ineptitude?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Aug 12 2015 4:56 utc | 38

Wayout --

No, I don't think we're moving on quite yet.

You're already in trouble with "mostly Syrian rebels," so I don't think it's tom and I that are stripping them of Syrian national identity. That would be the large number of foreign fighters and even larger number of foreign dollars, riyals and lira need to achieve Syrian "national liberation."

It is quite clear that whatever the grievances of sectors of Syrian society, outside actors have seized upon events to advance their own aims. I think a clear understanding of this point is not merely helpful but essential to any serious analysis of the situation.

Some reporters saying some things about some stuff in the Middle East. Some links, maybe folks will talk some.

tom at 35 --

I was think of trying to be a nice guy and go with "sloppy read all around, mistakes were made." But then attempted switch-a-roo made me see the light -- sloppy (hey, been there) vs. tendentious (I like to think not). So have at it with our Sunni Swami.

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 12 2015 6:07 utc | 39

in re 37 -- Exactly!

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 12 2015 6:08 utc | 40

As is obvious to everyone except mainstream 'news' reporters and analysts, the only fighters the US has been able to round up for the 'new, better Syria' are insane Sunni religous nutcase savages. As you can imagine, Syrians generally and emphatically oppose those nutballs and the Turkish and Saudi tanks they rode in on, and a result the 'overthrow Assad' strategy has failed. And yet the US carries on, stupidity, bureaucratic inertia and saving face and all that, finding comfort at least creating death and chaos in places not receptive to the Western corporate borg. And that is working well, of course, for the time being.

In contrast to that reality, here's how leading mainstreamer David Ignatius describes the latest US moves relevant to b's topic. It almost sounds rational:

The border gap that must be closed is a roughly 60-mile stretch from the Euphrates River to Kilis, north of Aleppo. The border area east of the Euphrates, around Kobane, has already been cleared by Syrian Kurdish forces from the “YPG” militia, operating with U.S. air support.

The U.S. has quietly warned Syria that it will repel any attack on the forces gathering for the assault on the Islamic State. That’s not the same as a formal “no-fly zone,” but it could become one if Assad’s air force strikes. Despite Turkish misgivings, the U.S. will continue to provide air support when needed for “YPG” fighters, who the U.S. regards as crucial allies despite their political links with the “PKK,” a radical Kurdish group that Ankara would like to destroy.

A ground assault on Raqqa is still months away. The U.S. is mobilizing a local, tribal force of Syrian Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen that could eventually clear northeast Syria, with U.S. and coalition air support. At present, the U.S. has no plans to embed special operations forces with these fighters.

My take, and supported by b, the Turkmen, and all that, is that what we're seeing is a simple land grab by Turkey. A thick slice of Syrian territory north of Aleppo will be annexed to Turkey, no give backs. Neither Turkey nor the US is _really_ interested in fighting ISIS in Raqqa, so that will never happen. Nor in doing much at all toward Aleppo, too hard, so I don't get b on that.

My guess is that relatively close to the action rational imperialists in Turkey realize the overthrow game in Syria is over, and are manipulating US support in order to take 'back' some Syrian territory for Erdogan's Ottoman Empire. Imperialists in the US, on the other hand, far from the action, thoroughly addled by know-nothing yes man media and biased, anti-intellectual, Israel-uber-alles-centric, and corrupted 'experts' and PR folks, still think the overthrow game is on. Nope.

Posted by: fairleft | Aug 12 2015 8:21 utc | 41

re 36

Since the beginning of this war there has been a constant propaganda assault by the Assad regime, Iran and other parties to strip the mostly Syrian rebels of their Syrian national identity by labeling them foreign Jihadis or mercenaries. This ploy has worked in some circles hut it is not helpful in understanding this conflict whatever side you support.
This is wrong. The fact is most of the rebel fighters of Syrian nationality have now given up and gone home, as they've had enough. The converse of what's happening to Asad's forces. Only the foreigners are still interested in fighting beyond their local area.

Posted by: Laguerre | Aug 12 2015 8:31 utc | 42
Forty-eight-hour ceasefires between Syrian rebels and pro-government forces have reportedly begun in three towns.

The truces will allow food and medical supplies to be delivered to the rebel stronghold of Zabadani, on the border with Lebanon, and to government-held Fuaa and Kafraya in the north-west.

They were agreed by the rebel group Ahrar al-Sham and Lebanon's Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, dozens of people have been killed in government air raids and by rebel rocketfire around Damascus.
The 48-hour ceasefires in Zabadani, Fuaa and Kafraya began at 06:00 (03:00 GMT) on Wednesday, according to Hezbollah's al-Manar TV.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said no fighting had so far been reported.

However, the UK-based monitoring group added that talks were continuing on evacuating rebel fighters from Zabadani and ending the sieges of the two government-held towns.

Posted by: okie farmer | Aug 12 2015 10:18 utc | 43
The Turkish prime minister has told the BBC that Turkey will push again for a no-fly zone over northern Syria to protect civilians fleeing both Islamic State and Syrian government forces.

Ahmet Davutoglu said he would work with the US to establish a "safe area" for people displaced by Syria's conflict.

Mr Davutoglu did not rule out sending Turkish troops in to protect the area.

Posted by: okie farmer | Aug 12 2015 10:23 utc | 44

Incidentally, there's a map in the above link that shows the YPG (peoples protection units) occupies the entire no-fly/safe zone.

Posted by: okie farmer | Aug 12 2015 10:34 utc | 45

re 44

Incidentally, there's a map in the above link that shows the YPG (peoples protection units) occupies the entire no-fly/safe zone.
You've misread the map, but in any case it's a map that's been falsified to maximise the Kurdish controlled area. You know, when you draw a map, you can draw whatever you like - it only represents what you want people to believe.

Posted by: Laguerre | Aug 12 2015 10:45 utc | 46

peace comes in 2 pieces….the one we dream about and the one we get,they are never the same.

peace for Israel is a dream and peace for iran is the one it gets

an i for an i……a piece for a piece

in any event if the deal of many deals can stop the war in Syria,stop the war in the Ukraine,stop the war in sudan,stop the war in yemen,stop the war in Iraq,stop the war in Israel then it is possible that we might be entering the time of turning swords to ploughshares

otherwise the deal is not worth the paper it is written on,just pieces of 8

Posted by: mcohen | Aug 12 2015 11:26 utc | 47

US Fox News: Turkey’s PKK strikes outrage US military in Iraq

According to a Fox News report on Tuesday, Turkey launched its air strikes against the PKK "with only 10 minutes notice to their American partners."

"The U.S. had barely enough warning to make sure its own forces were out of the way, according to a military source with knowledge of the tension Turkey's attack caused in the Combined Air and Space Operations Center [CAOC], the allied headquarters in the air war against ISIS [ISIL]," the online version of the Fox report said.

“A Turkish officer came into the CAOC, and announced that the strike would begin in 10 minutes and he needed all allied jets flying above Iraq to move south of Mosul immediately,” Fox reported a military source as saying, who then described events that took place “in the center, in a secret location in the Middle East.” "We were outraged," Fox quoted the source as saying.

In addition to targeting forces engaged in the fight against ISIL, US officials believed the Turkish military's sudden move raised the risk of friendly fire casualties, the report added.

“We had U.S. Special Forces not far from where the Turks were bombing, training Kurdish Peshmerga fighters," the source said. "We had no idea who the Turkish fighters were, their call signs, what frequencies they were using, their altitude or what they were squawking [to identify the jets on radar].”

Will the Turks kill some Americans? Will it make any difference? The Israelis can kill Americans with impunity, I suppose the Turks can now too.

Posted by: jfl | Aug 12 2015 13:39 utc | 48

@38 I'm still wondering about the Russia/Israel naval exercises. Some reporters said some things about that apparently.

Posted by: dh | Aug 12 2015 13:47 utc | 49

The objection of Wayoutwest that the title does not match the dubious character of the source is valid. There is "information haze", people posting rumors, and "information warfare", organized planting of rumors. Additionally, even true rumors need cautious interpretation.

In this case, we are discussing events near a border crossing that seems quite busy by many other accounts, with weapons, other supplies and fighters crossing to Syria on a regular basis, and wounded fighters crossing to Turkey. One can surmise considerable traffic away from the crossings as well, not all controlled by the government of Turkey, because it is hard to understand how Afrin Kurds (and before, Kobane Kurds) could operate so long and with reasonable success.

In any case, ever since the incident of police in Adana committing a criminal transgression by uncovering a transport of weapon, the official position of the government of Turkey was that these were humanitarian supplies to moderate Syrian opposition consisting of "Turkomans". However, any time a group of rebels, including ISIL, looses a position on Turkish border it is described as loosing a key supply route.

A billion dollar question is if ISIL still gets supplies through more than 50 miles of the border that they still control. By the way of contrast, the swath between Afrin and ISIL territory seems to be at most 20 miles wide. Moving stuff around in a war zone is tricky, so short supply routes are at premium, the most successful "moderates" are in Idlib, with best supply routes. But immediately north of Aleppo they seems to have some trouble, and the route to Bab-al-Salam is flanked by ISIL positions.

In the same time, Turkey has networks of "recruiting offices", sometimes described as a restaurant/tea house downstairs and a prayer room upstairs, where young citizens of Turkey (both Turks and Kurds) were recruited for "jihad", which often meant ISIL. There is also a huge destitute population of Syrian refugees that is a recruiting pool as well. The recent crackdown probably did not dent that network much.

Lastly, "brigade" can be as small as 100 folks or smaller.

To summarize, "brigade" would be another puny effort, but unlike the case of American-trained "brigade", Turkey made some diplomatic preparation so it will not be simply arrested (and resisting members killed). There are many news about that effort, and very sketchy info about the "brigade". If true, it would merely represent a liaison to non-al-Nusra force assembled on Syrian side of Bab-al-Salam which presumably has to have a few thousand troops. However, so far there was no "game changer", more like game preparation.

What we could see in Syria and Yemen is that supporting irregular forces from the air against numerically superior and more regular force is ineffective. The combination of regular armored brigades with air force and irregulars who know the terrain and can help in controlling the land can be effective. But political and diplomatic issues are non-trivial, to put it mildly. If Turkey sends the tanks to Syria, Iran could do the same with Russian help, and there is a potential for a politically fatal debacle -- nothing to seriously endanger Turkey as a state, but the fate of the current government is much more fragile.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Aug 12 2015 13:49 utc | 50

rm @ 32: Accurate.

fl @ 40 said: "finding comfort at least creating death and chaos in places not receptive to the Western corporate borg. And that is working well, of course, for the time being.

Not just for the " time being", but for a good slice of US/Empire history. A fact, some folks ignore.

Posted by: ben | Aug 12 2015 15:25 utc | 51

Zarif meets Assad in Syrian capital

Zarif arrived in Syria from Lebanon on Wednesday. The Iranian foreign minister is on a tour of countries in the region for talks on regional issues.

Upon his arrival in Damascus earlier in the day, Zarif was welcomed by Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad.

The Iranian foreign minister is also slated to meet with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem during his stay in Damascus.

A head of his trip to Syria, Zarif paid a two-day visit to the Lebanese capital, Beirut, where he held talks with senior officials of the Arab country, including Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Defense Minister Samir Moqbel as well as his counterpart, Gebran Bassil.

The top Iranian diplomat also sat down for talks, with Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, who heads Lebanon’s resistance movement.

Following his talks with Syrian officials, the Iranian foreign minister will make official visits to Pakistan and India.

This seems to me to be excellent news.

US vs China in Djibouti

The tiny country of Djibouti, sitting at the strategically critical entrance from the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea, is quickly turning into the latest confrontation between the USA and China in Africa.

Djibouti, home to the only US permanent military presence in Africa, has recently notified the American military that they have to vacate Obock, a small secondary base which will see the installation of some 10,000 Chinese troops in their place.

China is about to complete a $3 billion railroad from the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Africa’s second largest country to Djibouti, Ethiopia’s only outlet to the sea. China is also investing $400 million in modernizing Djibouti’s notoriously undersized port, where for the past 17 years (since the Ethiopians tried and failed to take Eritrea’s port of Assab during Ethiopia’s war against Eritrea from 1998-2000) Ethiopia has been forced to import 90% of its fuel and food from [?].

The US military pays Djibouti $63 million a year for the use of Camp Lemonnier, home to 4,000 US troops and one of the worlds largest drone bases used to terrorize the populations of Yemen and Somalia. This is a pittance really, when compared to the hundreds of millions a year that the Chinese investments will bring into Djiboutian government coffers.

Wholly Molely, no? The times they are a changin'.

Posted by: jfl | Aug 12 2015 15:58 utc | 52


' Not just for the " time being", but for a good slice of US/Empire history. '

I agree with you there ben. It's only been in this millennium that I've come to realize that myself.

Posted by: jfl | Aug 12 2015 16:12 utc | 53

Piotr Berman @49: Agree with you on your first and wayoutwest's point.

Not so much with the part at the end. An 'open-ended' invasion by Turkish tanks would be a dangeroud thing, true, but a very limited advance, staying north of Aleppo, and confidentially informing concerned parties of that fact, would not provoke 'tanks from Iran. I don't think.

As I said previously, my guess is Turkey 'just' wants to annex a thick slice of Syrian territory north of Aleppo.

Posted by: fairleft | Aug 12 2015 16:47 utc | 54

Posted by: john | Aug 12 2015 16:58 utc | 55

Qatar and the Saudis must feel uncomfortable about losing a chunk of Arab real estate to the Ottomans.

Posted by: dh | Aug 12 2015 19:32 utc | 56

fairleft @55: limited military incursion? Aleppo is roughly 50 kilometers from the border. AKP government would like Aleppo to be temporary capital of "free Syria". The can temporarily occupy a part of the rectangle that is 100 kilometers long, between Afrin and Euphrates. The wider this rectangle is, the higher chance that Iran would send tank brigades too, and unlike Turkey, upon the invitation of the legal government. Syria would politely ask the Turks to get out of there. What would happen next is some type of stalemate, but in the meantime a new coalition would start taking ISIL territories along Euphrates and relieving Syrian brigades to action in Homs and Latakia. If the rectangle is narrow, under 20 kilometers, then the effect would be perhaps sufficiently small, but nevertheless the stationary Turks would get under fire, loosing a few troops, while not achieving anything that would convince public back at home that it is worth it. And the "zone" would be too small and too unsafe to move any refugees there without duress.

And forcibly deported refugees could suffer a massacre or two, which I think would be very risky as well.

Most importantly, how can the government of Turkey adequately explain what a "zone" can accomplished that a freeze of movement across this swath of the border (except for Bab-al-Salam) cannot? Remember that elections are expected in three months, and a fresh debacle, even if not that big, would dent AKP electorate sufficiently that they would return back to square one, a necessity of a coalition with folks that AKP hates (with mutual feelings).

AKP is already subjected to a narrative that it foolishly picked a fight with KPP after (a) allowing KPP to prepare a large capacity for insurgency and (b) purging the police and prosecutors from anti-terrorist experts, and to the degree that the events make it manifest, they may suffer for it. Diverting military and security forces and resources to Syria may also look like a folly. I would imagine that military advisors would be quite cautious. It would be more prudent to engage after the elections that would give the parliamentary majority back to AKP.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Aug 12 2015 19:40 utc | 57

As always, uninformed speculation is grist for my mill.

Puzzling, complaining about dubious sources for the title news of the "invasion" -- and then acting, on quite a thin evidentiary base, like Turkish tank battalions were at the gates of Aleppo, with Revolutionary Guards hot on their heels.

As suggested in my earlier post, the standing up of the Brigade and the briefings on to its leadership on operations occured earlier this month. This item, from Yeni Safak in late July, makes a number of points clear.

Ankara brought in nearly two dozen field commander to meld the various Turkmen subsidiaries into a solid amalgamated subdivision. "The crucial talks seem to be a part of Turkey's measures which will be taken against security threats posed by ISIL terrorists, who have been nested on the other side of the border with Syria."

Yeni Safak reports that they will be acting in conjunction "with the Turkish troops during Turkey's cross-border operations" run out of Ankara. "The united brigades are expected to make their first appearance after all military preparations are completed following the talks in Ankara." I believe we've seen that debut.

"The largest three Turkmen brigades and other armed groups are expected to unite under the umbrella of the Sultan Murad Brigades, currently battling in this northern Syrian province." SMB is operating in the area of Aleppo, a second brigade is to attempt to take control of the route to Latakia.

It's stated aim is "to rescue predominantly Turkmen regions, currently held by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL..."

The total complement of these brigades of the United Turkmen Army is said to 5,000. Brigades, divisions, companies of irregular size are a familiar feature of irregular forces, see both sides in the Ukraine.

Now, I see plenty of evidence of Turkish and American involvement. Indeed, they openly avow air support, as in this recent item from Arabic media. "Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu told journalists that Syrian opposition forces would control and protect a safe zone in an area which he said would be cleared off the Daesh militant group." They add he did not specify "which Syrian rebel fighters would be tasked with guarding the zone."

But I find no evidence that Turkish troops or equipment formally of the Turkish Army has crossed the border. So consideration of what the Iranian reaction might be to such an eventuality is not urgent.

I believe I've seen earlier reports of artillery and air strikes, and these would qualify as "actions by Turkish troops" requiring coordination with proxy ground forces.

And if I may, a bit of speculation on the political impact in Turkey.

I don't think that Erdogan was happy with his truce with the PKK. A sensible policy on the Kurds seemed to be part of the price for EU membership. He's now created a perfectly plausible justification for a hard line on the PKK -- their parliamentary numbers and political victory are now meaningless, and I believe a number of parliamentarians are already arrested. So much for Turkish democracy.

And all this while expanding Turkish influnce and "rescuing" a fellow Turkic popluation. Mind you, it's from a mess largely of his and Obama's making. And this cure could well be worse than the disease.

Ever since Erdogan got away successively with his purges of the military, police, judicial, and press "conspiracies" I thought he was pushing his luck. But I would say "Rally the Turks around the flag" looks to be a winner right now.

dh at 56 --

Your right, not calculated to leave a warm, fuzzy feeling in Riyadh. "Otto, Ottoman, I want to be your Ottoman!" "I'm your Sul-tan, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah."

john at 55

R&R after business is always a splendid idea. Anything available in Southern New Zealand? It's always a bit warm in August in the DelVal. Something at a nice quiet listening post or refueling stop on some frosty fiord.

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 13 2015 0:03 utc | 58

I'm puzzled. The titular "invasion" is dismissed as imprecise and the sources blown off as unreliable because, infowars. But then all this thinly-sourced talk as though Turkish tanks are at the gates of Aleppo, with the bloody Revolutionary Guard hard on their heels. Yow!

And the underlying facts -- that Turkish-organized Turkic militias were being redeployed to police the no-fly zone -- turns out to be reasonably accurate.

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 13 2015 2:05 utc | 59

ben at 32 -- Thanks.

dh at 56 -- I don't think it's calculated to create a warm fuzzy feeling in Riyadh. "Otto, Ottoman, I want to be your Otto-man!"

john at 55 -- Business, then pleasure, the American way. It's always a little warm in August here in the DelVal. Anything on a nice cool fiord on the South Island of NZ? Some quiet little listening post or refueling stop.

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 13 2015 2:19 utc | 60

Further to my previous post at 22, which suggested Turkish involvement, Cihat Arpacık of the Turkish Yeni Şafak provides a more detailed account of the organization of the Sultan Murat Brigade and the United Turkmen Army. "Turkey, Syrian Turkmen team up to form United Turkmen Army" is datelined in late July. I'm having problems with the link, you should see them resolved below.

The formation of the United Turkmen Army marks the amalgamation of a number of Turkmen subsidiaries into a consolidated holding company. Ankara brought in nearly two dozen field commanders and briefed them on their new organization and its objectives.

The crucial talks seem to be a part of Turkey's measures which will be taken against security threats posed by ISIL terrorists....

The Turkmen army will strive to rescue predominantly Turkmen regions, currently held by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL....

The United Turkmen Army is said to be acting with the Turkish troops during Turkey's cross-border operations which will be coordinated by key intelligence officials in Ankara. The united brigades are expected to make their first appearance after all military preparations are completed following the talks in Ankara.

I believe we've seen that debut. Air and artillery strikes would qualify as operations with Turkish forces under direction from Ankara.

One brigade will operate near Latakia, attempting to take lines of communication in this Turkmen area. "The largest three Turkmen brigades and other armed groups are expected to unite under the umbrella of the Sultan Murad Brigades, currently battling in this northern Syrian province."

The total complement of the United Turkmen Army is said to be 5,000, i.e., the same no. cited in the head post.

Irregular forces routinely involve divisions, brigades, and companies of irregular size (see, e.g., both sides in the Ukraine).

But for all that Turkish backing, I don't see any evidence of any formations of or any equipment formally operated by the Turkish Army crossing the border. It does not appear to me that Ankara is either deploying or intending to deploy its own forces. I think 5,000 purely Turkmen mercenaries is doable, FWIW. No doubt, some will be jihadi retreads. And I earlier suggested a sizable behind-the-scenes technical and "advisory" presence.

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 13 2015 2:48 utc | 61

http //english
yenisafak dot com

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 13 2015 2:52 utc | 63

I see plenty about Turkish and US air and artillery support. This recent item from Arabic media is open about air support. "Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu told journalists that Syrian opposition forces would control and protect a safe zone in an area which he said would be cleared off the Daesh militant group." But he did not specify "which Syrian rebel fighters would be tasked with guarding the zone."

If I may indulge in a bit of political speculation, I think this will work for Erdogan. I don't think he was ever serious about the truce with the PKK. He now has great cover to blow it off, and make the recent Kurdish political and electoral gains meaningless -- I believe a number of parliamentarians are already under arrest. And he gets de facto control over a good hunk of Syria and engineers the "rescue" a Turkic population to boot.

Mind you, from a mess he and Obama largely created.

Should it work out -- and the AKP will no doubt insist it did, win lose or draw -- it means an even larger majority. I thought Erdogan went too far with the Ergenekon trials, but he's kept at it and with some results (see his recent purge of the judiciary and police of supporters of his former ally Fethullah Gülen). So I'd say the odds are in his favor; the spin will certainly be.

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 13 2015 2:56 utc | 64

dh at 49 --

I had a look for Wayout's "Russian-Israeli naval exercise." Seems like an exercise in BS, I found Egyptian and Chinese naval maneuvers with the Russian, nothing on the Israelis.

About all Bing ret'd was Wayout reporting it at Jul 26, 2015 (7:44:02 PM), as nr. 13 in “Turkey's War On Kurds Realigns Syrian Kurds With Their Government.” You found the Egyptian exercise later in the thread.

We were assured we could find it at RT, no luck. So I’d say Wayout is using his imagination. Of course, links would prove me wrong. But I’m ready to cue crickets myself.

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 13 2015 3:10 utc | 65

Cool, we all got our predictions out ... We'll see in a couple weeks which one is real.

Posted by: fairleft | Aug 13 2015 12:35 utc | 66


The October 20-23 2013 Russian, Israeli and Greek Cypriot naval exercise was a show of force because of the new Cyprus Exclusionary Economic Zone. It was not an unusual occurrence because Russia and Israel are close political, economic and military allies and were in the middle of a five year Military cooperation agreement.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Aug 13 2015 14:45 utc | 67

I wrote about tank brigades. Not as something that Turkey plans, but as something that it does not. What Turkish government can do is not a "game changer", namely sending smallish groups of fighters, with a grandiose name or not. And we discussed some hypotheticals.

Basically, Turkey is already supporting the rebels, and it is not clear how much more they can do given various constraints, one being the lack of domestic support, which may be a crucial aspect because Erdogan wants to redo parliamentary elections in few months.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Aug 13 2015 15:05 utc | 68

wow - gibberish, or worse - flat out bullshit.. take yer pic..

Posted by: james | Aug 13 2015 16:28 utc | 69

Wayout –

Surely you jest. I see no reports of any joint Russo-Israeli maneuvers.

This report from Oct. 2014 makes it clear, the Russians held exercises with the Cypriots, who also held exercises about that time with the Israelis. The Russian Navy worked the waters between Syria and Cyprus, the Isrealis held naval and and air drills on the west coast.

I searched RT on "Cyprus" and scrolled through the results to Oct. 2014. They don't seem to have discussed it.

Several shorter, less detailed accounts I came across did conflate them into some sort of joint action. Find them yourself, if you can.

Now, as to the broader claim of the supposed close ties between Russia and the Israelis, well, you will need to add this to the list of items for which you need to provide links to support. I did find this colorful chart listing Russian export partners. Where's Tel Aviv?

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 13 2015 23:49 utc | 70

Since there are hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in Turkey, it shouldn't be too difficult for Turkey to find and train a few thousand Syrian Turkmen for this operation -- they've been channeling thousands of other young Syrian refugees into the insurgency for years. The CIA has only been able to find sixty "moderates" for their operations, but Turkey is not hampered by such considerations.

With the joint cooperation between Turkey and the US at Incirlik, which of these groups will now receive air cover -- from the US or from Turkey? State claims that it will protect its trainees from any group that fires on it, even though it claims that the group is only tasked with fighting ISIS. If the US-trained or Turkmen troops clash with the SAA, the US and/or Turkey air force could be in direct conflict with the Syrian State (not to mention roping NATO into the conflict). This seems an especially dangerous risk around Aleppo.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Aug 14 2015 1:02 utc | 71


Before this new development there was already about 15,000 Turkman rebels fighting the Assad regime in Syria. It's more likely that members of this existing experienced force were chosen to receive advanced training in Turkey but there could be some new recruits involved.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Aug 14 2015 1:24 utc | 72

pb at 68 --

Well, I would allow that at 50 you looked like you did not think so.

But then your response at 57 to fairleft left me thinking you’d changed your mind. You have them taking over a zone (size "TBD" it seems). It seemed less a hypothetical and more an expectation.

Syria would politely ask the Turks to get out of there... in the meantime a new coalition would start taking ISIL territories along Euphrates and relieving Syrian brigades to action in Homs and Latakia… the stationary Turks would get under fire, loosing a few troops.

Let’s just credit that to careless composition, then, shall we?

The whole point of whipping the Turkmen into shape was to not use Turkish forces, leaving them free to attack the main enemy, the PKK. And for folks to know this, hence the big roll out.

This by the way does not seem to me indicative of domestic constraint. And his career since assuming power has shown few signs of such constraint, starting with Ergenekon.

I would think this would all play pretty well with AKP base, and might attract support from some more secular nationalist voters. Kurds of course, not so much.

Is it all a game changer? Depends on which game and what change. Defeat of Syria or of ISIL? Not likely, too much Saudi and Iranian juice. Further marginalization of the Kurds and de facto control of Northern Syria? Seems doable. Washington seems to like to start and then "freeze" conflicts, and then thaw them out if convenient. See Croatia back in the 90's. Keep Assad as much on the ropes as one easily can, turn towards ISIL (maybe, to a degree) and then Kurds, watch out, you poor sods.

The beat-down street dog of national liberation struggles, but damn but don't that dog keep a-bitin'. You go, Kurds!

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 14 2015 1:30 utc | 73

ps to 73 -- "his career" refers to Erdogan, sorry.

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 14 2015 1:32 utc | 74

And now on to the elections.

It may have slipped you sodden Barflies minds (it had mine frankly, this is R&R from Banderites for me), although the AKP remains the largest party in the parliament, it needs coalition partners to form a governmental majority. The clock runs out on 23 Aug., if memory serves, and if AKP has no majority, elections must be held by November.

Naturally, recent developments have somewhat complicated the process of putting together a majority, and many commentators seem pretty grim.

Let's Irish up some Turkish coffee with a few rounds of shots for the house. They do seem to distill today's events. NB - I largely compiled this a few hours ago. Feel free to freshen them up, tipplers.

From Today's Zaman, linked to Gulen, coalition talks fail, at least for now, possible snap elections, but nothing official.

Same again at centrist Hurriyet. "Recalling that the CHP proposed to establish a high-profile government with a four-year mandate to resolve the country’s fundamental issues, Kılıçdaroğlu [CHP leader - rm] said he did not regard early elections as the only option. 'Twenty-four hours is a very long time in politics.'"

Today's Zaman also highlights a poll, by what seems their house pollster, MetroPOLL. Support for an outright invasion is weak, only about a quarter, and "Even 52 percent of AKP voters oppose such an intervention." No data on hiring ethnically Turkish mercenaries to do the fighting, though. 'Tis a pity, it is.

With a story like the Fight Against PKK Boosts Turkey Coalition-building by the "Voice of America," what do you think Washington wants? It does make clear, however, that Erdogan blames PM Davutoglu for the loss of the AKP majority, wants a renewed mandate, and sees action against the PKK as a means to achieve that.

To the degree then that there are domestic constraints, Erdogan seems to be working on loosening them.

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 14 2015 1:55 utc | 75

wayout at 72 --

And there's another item on backorder. This one might prove interesting and useful -- if true.

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 14 2015 2:07 utc | 76

RP & Wayout, 71-72 --

At least some of this 5K is already presently deployed in the field, the accounts make clear they were already active in the Aleppo region. The account above describes a consolidation of active forces, not a training program. Though of course, as you say, another 5K could be easily raised.

That's what makes this supposed 15K figure interesting, what's with culling the herd?

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 14 2015 2:35 utc | 77


I don't think you will find a 'story' about the Russia/Israel joint naval exercises but I did read about it in other stories about Cyprus or Greece, it wasn't a story because Russia has naval exercise with many of its allies.

My reference to RT was about the other Israel-Russia ties such as Russia buying their Drone fleet from the Israelis, most of their oil and many other connections from the Israel-Russia Relations wiki where you will find more than 40 reference links many of them from Russian media.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Aug 14 2015 2:35 utc | 78

Wayout at 78

Without links, it's all just talk, thank you very much.

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 14 2015 2:43 utc | 79

No, wait. This shit just gets better and better.

Having a week ago posted a comment contradicting the usual Moonie- groupthink "rah rah Assad and Russia" idiocy, and after being hilariously, Chemical-Bob-like, ranted at by several of the usual idiotic always-wrong regular commenter's sockpuppets, telling me, as usual, thati have it all wrong and am deluded, and that the Syrians are winning all round the gaff,

Predictabily even moar of the usual always-wrong idiots hop on the bandwaggon ranting about "trolls", "neocons" "hasbara" and the usual idiotic inttellectul knuckle-dragger nonsense which this site's regulars slobber about, when someone introduces a smidgen of reality

The consensus amongst the local moa self-declared intellectual power-house knuckle-draggers seems to be that the war is winding down and the opposition is on the run.

No, wait . . . . This shit gets even better . . . .

What do I see a mere 8 days later?

"Turkey Invades Syria, Goes For Aleppo"

So whats the prognosis for MOA commenters (the regular idiots)

UberLulz, with dollops of completely unwitting hilarious irony from some of the most clueless self-declared experts on the plant

Oh, you guys are priceless.

Never change.

Best free Clown Show EVAR!

Gotta hand it to ya, nobody does commenter clown shoes like the MOA regular commenters

Posted by: blockquote | Aug 14 2015 18:22 utc | 80

Clown Shows

Clown Shoes works too though

Little MOA Regulars, Bespoke Clown Shoe Makers to the Starrz, by appointment etc etc, cobbling way in their mom's basement, the most clueless oeople on the planet

Posted by: blockquote | Aug 14 2015 18:27 utc | 81

You know, angels want to wear my red shoes....

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 14 2015 22:25 utc | 82

Why, Rufie, quelle suprise.

When I said "dollops of completely unwitting hilarious irony from some of the most clueless self-declared experts on the planet" and "best free clown show, evar", even i didnt expect you to actually show up in person.

Posted by: blockquote | Aug 14 2015 22:59 utc | 83

For any uncertain or unclear as to the object of the Turks and their newly reorganized Turkmen militias, I thought these items made the cut.

The International Crisis group has published it analysis. The renewed conflict begins A new cycle in Turkey-PKK conflict.

Debates about why Ankara is cracking down on the PKK at a dangerous time focus largely on domestic politics....

HDP co-chairman Selahattin Demirtas centred his party’s campaign around curtailing Erdogan’s ambition to expand his power via constitutional changes that would transition the system from parliamentary to presidential.

Turkish liberals and "disillusioned conservative Kurds" increased the HDP vote, costing the AKP its 12-year parliamentary majority. This only deterred Erdogan briefly; he now seeks to use what he styles the "instability" of the parliamentary system to press his changes again.

As coalition talks drag on, early elections are a distinct possibility. In their run-up, escalating violence in the south east would give his foes opportunity to discredit Demirtas among constituencies fed up with conflict, Turkish and Kurdish alike. Already, mainstream television, heavily influenced by the government, is dominated by funeral scenes of Turkish victims and assessments of Demirtas’s “impotence” in containing PKK violence. AKP can regain a parliamentary majority if the HDP misses the electoral threshold (10%) or a few percentage points of the nationalist vote migrate to AKP from the Nationalist Action Party (MHP)....

Demirtas said Erdogan was intent on ending the peace process once he “saw from the public opinion polls that the process was not going to bring him the votes he needed to establish a presidential system”.

Plenty more interesting details on Turkish and Kurdish politics there, too.

This VOA item is from a few days ago, but makes two interesting points.

In June the AKP lost its parliamentary majority, thanks partly to a strong performance by a pro-Kurdish party. But ruling AKP officials told VOA that polling by the party so far is showing only minor public opinion movements....

Selahattin Demirtas, leader of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, criticized the government for its ongoing anti-terror campaign.

He claims the AKP is seeking political gain by creating a perception the country is under existential threat.

It seems the Europeans aren't the only folks interested in a fair deal for the Kurds. The Jerusalem Post has this by Syrian Kurdish journalist, Turkey’s new Kurdish predicament.

For Ankara to have a strong role in the ever-changing region, it needs to reconcile with the Kurds. Anything less than that would backfire against Turkish interests across the Middle East.

That's the bottom line, argument and analysis to get there worth a look, IMHO.

Equal time to the Arabic Al Ahram, with Erdogan’s war for votes. You get the intro on this one.

His party’s staggering drop in the polls was because he had not sufficiently courted the Turkish right-wing ultra-nationalists.

This is the conclusion that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has drawn from the country’s June elections, observers say.

Finally, the Eurasia Review has a nice analytical essay as Turkey Enters The Maelstrom.

Turkey has been watching with growing unease the close cooperation between the Syrian Kurdish militia, known as the Peoples Protection Units (YPG), which is the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) that is affiliated to the PKK....

Further, the tenuous peace between the Kurds and the Turkish Government that had held for nearly two years ended with the Kurdish electoral success. Turkey’s biggest fear now is that the creation of a Kurdish homeland, even with limited autonomy, will subsume parts of its own territories in Anatolia. Therefore the AKP views Kurdish autonomy anywhere in the Middle-East as a greater threat to its security than even the IS.

This all prompts two questions. First, if and when on the elections? You would think Erdogan would want a short campaign of maximum fear. This then sets the parameters on the second question, how good are the Turkmen militia? A long campaign during which ground troops had to be introduced would do Erdogan little good.

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 14 2015 23:50 utc | 84

in re 83 --

Yow! Et pourquoi? I am protected by the power of stain-resistant Scotchguard!

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 14 2015 23:59 utc | 85

stain-resistant Scotchguard!

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 14, 2015 7:59:35 PM | 85

More of a Single Malt man, myself.

But "stain resistant" is definitely a damn good idea for a chap like yourself, I'll wager . . . . . I mean, given the rumours, an' all.

Posted by: blockquote | Aug 15 2015 0:54 utc | 86

Yeah, you keep trying to piss on me. Piss off, mate.

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 15 2015 1:17 utc | 87

@ rufus, outstanding material and links. many thanks and keep up your generous work!

Posted by: thirsty | Aug 15 2015 1:45 utc | 88

thirsty at 88 --

Very kind of you to say so. I'll get curious about something and just keep at it.

So what's your take on Erdogan and his military-electoral ploy -- does his gamble pay off, are the odds with him or against him?

Are you willing to brave the hazards of commenting on the Byzantine politics of the neo-Ottoman sultanate? Especially with the dangers lurking under bridges in the neighborhood. Some great bloody gutter-minded, toffee-nosed, single-malt snob of a troll, out for a bit of sport with the plebs, apparently.

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 15 2015 2:40 utc | 89

A grandiose plan, but who will sacrifice their lives to execute it? So far no Turks and of course no Americans. 50 or so moderate rebels? I agree with Sayigh and see this as a "we're just flailing about and don't know what to do" trial balloon.

“I don't think we will see anything approaching what even resembles a safe zone” in Syria, said Yezid Sayigh, a senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut.

Instead of planning for large humanitarian or reconstruction operations, Turkey and the United States are “mostly trying to do PR” for an unworkable plan, Sayigh said.

International law says safe zones should be neutral areas that are free of combatants and where civilians are guaranteed protection. American officials have said, however, that the zone — which they envision stretching 68 miles long and 40 miles deep, reaching the outskirts of Aleppo — will be a staging ground for U.S.-backed rebels battling the Islamic State. [TRANSLATION: mainly battling the Syrian government] The administration will not declare it a protected area, the officials said. This is likely to undermine Turkey's goal of establishing a haven for Syrian refugees.

Posted by: fairleft | Aug 15 2015 4:35 utc | 90

fairleft at 90 --

I believe you mistranslated the report. The object looks to be the Kurds.

Were the Syrian Ba'ath state to fall today (not likely), the Syrian Kurds would be in a strong position to establish a statelet. Bad example for the "mountain Turks" over the border, synergies it creates not welcome in Ankara. Deploy your Turkic mercenaries, displace the Kurdish fighters, and now you're ready to freeze the conflict.

WaPo, the underyling source (though its always nice to see bits from Scaife's Tribune-Review, the Tea Party Pravda of the Alleghenies) gets the metric wrong. "No fly zone" sounds so much better than "secured forward operations area."

Besides, they should know better. We don't really do "large humanitarian or reconstruction operations," we do PR -- see Iraq and Afghanistan. Mission accomplished!

I'm wonder; why is the Voice from Inside the Beltway raining on Erdogan's parade? Probably some solicitude for our Syrian Kurd proxies.

One of the items I cite at 84 notes Kurds have been the most effective fighters vs. ISIS. Were the fight really against them, you'd be beefing them up, instead of reorganizing the Turkmen brigades.

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 15 2015 13:03 utc | 91


In the CoD you may appear well informed but outside that group you appear quite ignorant.

The Kurds in Syria already have a State called Rojava declared in 2013 with their own constitution and the YPG fighting force of 50,000. No small group of 'Syrian' Turkmen is going to displace them but the Turks were clear that Rojava would not be allowed to expand its territory in the buffer zone.

The YPG are dedicated and effective fighters but were losing repeatedly to the Islamic State forces until the US began supplying close air support in Kobani. Without US air support the YPG would fare no better than any other group in fighting the IS.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Aug 15 2015 14:47 utc | 92

in re 92 --

What the hell is the CoD? You are a fool and dissembler everywhere. Links, please?

If you read any that I had posted, you would know, like I do, that the existence of de facto Kurdish autonomy in Syria is one of the factors prompting this re-organized intervention. Turkmen militias were news to me (Banderites are my forte), that's what got me involved in this.

From the Rojava Wiki, I get the impression it's a Potemkin village to prettify local mercenaries and con unsuspecting Kurdish nationalists. It is said to be "a society based on principles of direct democracy, gender equity, and sustainability.... The existing police force is trained in non-violent conflict resolution as well as feminist theory before being allowed access to a weapon." But they have a record of brutality and repression against their opponents, including torture and ethnic cleansing.

One is left wondering to what degree the regime there rests on popular support versus outside interests. The state is the result of what is styled the "Rojava Revolution". That is, it seems to have been negotiated handover by Assad to the Kurds, who could be relied upon to hold their own, rather than any popular movement. I recall seeing reports about this tactical withdrawal.

I would argue it's ultimate fate rests with what sort of deal Washington made with Ankara. That deal at this time would look to sacrifice the Kurds, it seems to me. As the beat-down dogs of national liberation movements, that's what happens to them. Think Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the football....

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 15 2015 15:22 utc | 93

further to 93 --

To be clear: I think a rump will be allowed to survive (continued PR benefits, it also avoids the worst effects on client morale, giving a glimmer of future hopes). But the area will be reduced by the Turkmen and any links to PKK-controlled areas will be denied.

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 15 2015 15:29 utc | 94

And me, I'm just Nationwide. "We're going downtown in the middle of the night/We was laughing and I'm jokin' and we feelin' alright."

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 15 2015 15:49 utc | 95

I try to think what was announced that will happen (e.g. "safe zone"), and what could happen but did not, and what happened.

Rojava is a quasi-country with "war communism" economy, quite robust number of volunteers and conscripts who seem well trained (and indoctrinated in teachings of a certain Ocalan). The source of arms is not certain, but it seems that there is a secret agreement with KRG, and when the later seemed to waver, PKK cut the only outlet for KRG export for a few days, so I surmise that there is a pipeline of weapons, perhaps Russia -> Iran -> KRG -> Rojava. Another pipeline is by air from Syria, but probably only to SAA in Hasaka. PYG appeared as the only organization that could protect Kurds from massacres and dispossession, and since "Takfiris" were and are common enemies, there is clear although not publicized alliance. It is worth to note that before the civil war Kurds were treated quite badly by Damascus government, so there is no cordial alliance. Direct cooperation can be seen in Hasaka and perhaps in Aleppo where there is a Kurdish enclave.

When PYG reached Euphratus, Turks prevented the crossing with artillery fire, and the crossing is not easy to begin with. Most probably, the deal of the "safe zone" is effectively a safe zone for ISIL. HOWEVER, between Afrin and ISIL held border there is a narrow corridor controlled by rebels. In particular, the rebels rely on Bab-al-Salam <-> Azaz crossing, and one worry of Turkey + CIA is that Afrin Kurds could take over Azaz and establish line of contact with ISIL. That would hinder the rebel activity in Aleppo area. So I guess that USA had to promise not to help PYG in the area between Afrin and Euphrates. The "Turkoman brigade" entered Azaz, and it is clearly insufficient to clear ISIL from the area toward Euphrates, but it may be sufficient to maintain the defense of the corridor Aleppo-Azaz from the east. On top of that, there can be side deals. Turkey may have some deal with Afrin to tolerate their smuggling if they do not attack the rebels (and rebels may have such deals to). There were also ISIL-rebel deals, for example, it was reported that ISIL stopped selling fuel to the rebels, creating shortages -- so there was a lively trade before, and perhaps again. I suspect that ISIL buys weapons, and periodically attacks the rebels to encourage them to sell.

The bottom line is that what happened so far is reinforcement of Azaz and replacement of al-Nusra fighters that recently were in command there. And gentle signals to PYG of Kobane not to try to cross Euphrates (that included Turkish artillery fire). To actually control the belt between Azaz and Jarabulus would require a large force that would be subjected to bloody hit-and-run attacks (air supports helps only a little). And it is hard what strategic importance it would have. If rebels + "Turkomans" have 10-15 thousand fighters to spare, they could well do it, but wouldn't they try to take Aleppo instead?

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Aug 16 2015 1:56 utc | 96

PB at 96 --

This might be useful information -- if we knew how you acquired it.

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 16 2015 2:33 utc | 97

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