Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 24, 2016

Kurds Lose Out As Neo-Ottoman Turks Steal Syria's Jarablus

Early this morning Turkey invaded Syria. A contingent of 1,500 Turkish sponsored "Syrian rebels", aka Islamist from all over the world, were accompanied by some Turkish special forces and twenty tanks to capture the city Jarablus at the Turkish-Syrian border. The move followed a night of artillery warm-ups and bombing raids. Shortly after noon the "Syrian revolution" flag and the Turkish banner(!) were raised over the city.

There was no resistance to the move. The Islamic State, which had been informed of the attack, had evacuated all fighters and their families out of Jarablus. (The families went to Raqqa but the fighters went where?) No shots were fired. As one commentator remarked: They even left mints on the pillows. The toleration of ISIS by Turkey, which includes some not so secret support, will likely continue.



The claimed aim of the Turkish move is to close the Turkish border to ISIS. That claim is obviously nonsense. The border can be closed on the Turkish side. To move the crossing point a few kilometers south does not change anything. The second, more plausible claimed aim, is to prevent the movement of the Kurdish YPG forces, under the U.S. assigned label SDF, towards west-Syria. Such a move would create a Kurdish statelet all along the Turkish border and endanger Turkey itself while it is fighting a Kurdish insurgency on its own ground.

The Kurds had announced the move west and recently taken the city of Manbij away from the Islamic State. This with the help of heavy U.S. bombardment. As part of their future plans a new SDF-Jarablus Military Council was announced yesterday. But the head of that entity was assassinated just three hours after the introductory press conference. The Kurds blamed the Turks for the killing. Today the Turkish government announced that it will not only take Jarablus but also Manbij and throw the Kurds back east behind the Euphrates river.

The U.S. had so far supported the Kurdish move towards west-Syria with special forces and air support. But it reacted to the Turkish move against its alliance with the Kurds as it always did over the last 30 years. It immediately betrayed the Kurds as a bigger interests arouse. Turkey is a NATO ally that threatens to move to a closer alliance with Russia and Iran. The U.S. can not condone that. The Kurds will therefore again have to suffer for their gullibility and ambition.

U.S. vice president Biden arrived in Ankara today for a penitential pilgrimage. The Turkish government accuses the U.S. to have been involved in the recent coup attempt against it. There may well be some truth to that. In a public snub Biden was received at the airport of the Turkish capital by the deputy mayor of the city. For now the Turkish president Erdogan will continue his way no matter what the U.S. says or does.

The real plan behind the Turkish invasions is way beyond ISIS or the Kurdish issue. As Turkish papers were eager to point out, the invasion happened to the day 500 years after the battle of Marj Dabiq north of Aleppo:

The battle was part of the Ottoman–Mamluk War (1516–17) between the Ottoman Empire and the Mamluk Sultanate, which ended in an Ottoman victory and conquest of much of the Middle East, ...

The choosing of this date points to Erdogan's real ambition: To recreate an Ottoman empire which would include at least north Syria and north Iraq.

There has been little protest by the Syrian government against the Turkish move on Jarablus. It lamented a lack of coordination in fighting terrorism. Not that it could have done much else. After five years of war there is no capacity left to oppose its big northern neighbor. No protest at all came from Syria's allies Russia and Iran. Blunt words were reserved for U.S. behavior on the Syria issue and its support for al-Qaeda. There clearly is some kind of agreement between Russia, Iran, Syria and Turkey to accommodate the Turkish invasion.

Any sympathy for the Kurds, which might have led to some countermove, has vanished after Kurdish YPG fighters recently attacked Syrian government forces in the north-eastern city of Hasakah. That attack, completely useless and unnecessary in the big picture, cost them- as predicted - their dream of a viable nation state. The Kurdish gamblers, like they always tend to do, became overambitious and now lost all they had gained. They will have to retreat eastward, surrounded by enemies and without any friends left in today's world. What can the anarcho-marxists of the YPG do now? Ally with and bleed for wahhabi Saudi Arabia? For how long?

The "Syrian rebels" Turkey used to march towards Jarablus were pulled from the ongoing attack on the Aleppo city front. The Syrian government forces will be somewhat relieved to have less enemies to kill (vid) in their defense of the 1.2-1.5 million of their people in the city. But that relief will only be for a short time. As the emphasis of the Marj Dabiq battle shows, Erdogan's ambition are much bigger than some rural strip of land along the Syrian Turkish border. He wants to rule over Aleppo in Syria as well as over Mosul in Iraq. The war on Syria in the west, run by Turkey, the U.S. and various Gulf states, will continue. In this bigger context the Turkish move to Jarablus is a mere skirmish on the side.

Posted by b on August 24, 2016 at 16:45 UTC | Permalink

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Posted by: redrooster | Aug 25, 2016 10:47:04 AM | 99

It is physics but also philosophy - when you apply force you are met by the same force. Empire is a complex web of technological, economic and administative superiority, internal cohesion, cultural attractiveness and integration. Force is part of it but all of the above is needed to prevent the backlash.

Turkey does not have a chance.

Posted by: somebody | Aug 25 2016 15:21 utc | 101

@55 jfl.. listening to the state dept bozos is actually informative in this respect... you can see how they are working out their lies for the general public... in one of those 2 videos the dod guy was unrepentant that the usa was going after isis.. however as russia has noted, they aren't going after al nusra which is not one of the moderate groups either... i think i see how they are trying set things up for a no fly zone, but i don't see how they are going to pull it off without being caught in some pretty big lies that won't fly...

@58 jackrabbit.. i think a lot is still in play and can change really fast here.. i don't know that russian, or iran silence means much.. hard to know.. temporarily i think a few players are showing their hand, while some others aren't so much... i think it is premature to hold a strong position on much here, other then that the usa and turkey are lying pretty consistantly..

Posted by: james | Aug 25 2016 16:12 utc | 102

The Kurdish gamblers, like they always tend to do, became overambitious and now lost all they had gained.

Any possibility CIA or other intelligence agencies have some ability to affect the C3I of the YPG? Your "anarchomarxist" caricature, would only be valid to the degree of state counterintel I believe.

Posted by: Ralph Reed (@RalphWalterReed) | Aug 25 2016 16:21 utc | 103

@96 pw

Your stories about captagon got me thinking about about a story by Daniel Woodrell. Turns out I'd run a couple, or more, of his stories together in my head, Winter's Bone with Black Step, actually. I don't read much 'literature' anymore, but I somewhere ran into mention of Woodrell, and found some of his stuff. Black Step is my only mental embodiment of the guys sent of to Afghanistan/Iraq. I imagine the SF guys/Mercs are a different breed. The protagonist in Black Step, ironic word that, doesn't seem to eat captagon or methamphetamine, but the folks in Winter's Bone do, and they're all the same people, uprooted, adrift and improvising, awash in the times and tides. I imagine they're not so dissimilar to a lot of the headchoppers, all though of course they are completely different. I see that a movie was made of Winter's Bone. That's quite a story, too - longer, wider, developed at leisure. All the victims of Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama/Clinton? And of Kissinger, Soros, Brzezinski. et al., as x points out in another thread. Mike Whitney's piece on Brezinski trying to cover his ass reminded me of the Sorcerer's Apprentice. In this life, there are no real sorcerers to pull his broomsticks ... that'd be all of us ... out of his deluge.

Posted by: jfl | Aug 25 2016 18:47 utc | 104

that sliver of saa in far eastern syria boardering turkey and iraq . what's the deal with that? what city is it? thanks.

Posted by: Au | Aug 26 2016 19:35 utc | 105

Hope I DREAM about daylight AGAIN.

HOPE I dream about DAYLIGHT again.

Posted by: okie farmer | Aug 26 2016 21:28 utc | 106

Sorry to post this off topic (on the election crap thread) so I'll put this here and I'll add the link to the chart image below:

I was reading articles on the Turkish attack into Syria and there is no mention of the Syrian government nor whether/when/if Turkey will engage the Syrian Army.

But then I found this chart from CNN:

For one thing, they pretend ISIS has no support. We all know differently. Also, it looks like every one is fighting ISIS except ..... Free Syrian Army and Saudi Arabia and Gulf Allies. Why not?

Posted by: Curtis | Aug 27 2016 22:31 utc | 107

The fact that Russia is giving its consent to Turkey's invasion is absurd. Turkey has continued to support other jihadists besides ISIS, especially the al-Nusra Front, the Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda, and its allies. Turkey’s assault on ISIS is being conducted to preempt the U.S.-backed YPG from seizing those areas, not to remove jihadists from Syria.

The ISIS-held pocket that Turkey is targeting is a key link in the unification of Kurdish-held autonomous areas, called Rojava, that hold sway over most of northern Syria, near the border with Turkey. Turkey fears that the PKK-linked YPG will foster Kurdish separatism in Turkey and Syria. Indeed, since its founding in 2013, Rojava has acted independently of both the Assad regime and the anti-Assad Sunni Islamists. The latter have been fighting under the “Free Syrian Army” (or “moderate rebel”) banner. Rojava has proven the most effective secular opponent of Islamism in Syria.

Turkey’s assault on ISIS in northern Syria is intended to fulfill its long-stated purpose of establishing a corridor for the anti-Assad Sunni Is-lamists, whom it, the Gulf Arab states, and the West have deemed “moderate” rebels. This bodes ill for the YPG and its allies. While Turkey is targeting ISIS, which is a major irritant to Moscow for its sponsorship of Chechen Islamists, it merely wants to allow the al-Qaeda-linked “moderate” rebels to replace ISIS. That would also serve the Assad regime by preventing consolidation of Kurdish separatism.

The signs, therefore, suggest that Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have agreed to sacrifice YPG in favor of improved commercial ties. Turkey would target Russia’s biggest jihadist foe while supporting other jihadists and perhaps swaying them to Russia’s side. Meanwhile, the Assad regime, Turkey, and Russia would join al-Qaeda-linked rebels to oust YPG from the areas it currently controls. Al-Qaeda would become aligned with Moscow, Damascus, and Tehran, forming with Turkey a common anti-Western alliance with global implications.

After all, all the actors share a common desire to weaken the West at a time when its systems are failing and populist, or pseudo-populist, actors on the right and left are seeking to fill the void, often by striking deals with rivals and enemies of the U.S.-led NATO alliance. Should Islamist goals become aligned with those of Russia, Turkey, Syria, Iran, and perhaps even some of the Sunni Arab states, the implications for the U.S. and Europe would be extremely bleak indeed. Treachery and realpolitik will have ruled the day.

Essentially, al-Qaeda and its allies in Syria, to not mention its Turkish and Sunni Arab backers, will have found new rapport with the Russians, the Iranians, and the Syrians. So long as al-Qaeda attacks the Kurdish groups and the West—but not the Assad regime or Russia—all parties benefit. The emergent pan-Islamist axis, with its ties to anti-Western interests on the global far left and right, and with its deep links to global elites in both West and East, and now allied with both Washington’s so-called Sunni “allies” and its enemies, is now a global threat to the old system.

Note that the realignment is being orchestrated by the transnational, supranational global elites in the financial and corporate realm, which overlaps the military-industrial-intelligence complex and the drug trade, in which the CIA-backed al-Qaeda (an outgrowth of the Wahhabi-backed, Saudi-funded Muslim Brotherhood) that has long played an integral role since the Cold War.

Posted by: Daniel Gladstein | Aug 28 2016 11:21 utc | 108

I truly respect your work Moon of Alabama but this is just getting a little complicated with the Kurd question. Let me say first that I do not wish to see any people or group to be disenfranchised but a historical perspective gives us another reading of the Middle-East.
Firstly, there is no real separation between Kurds and Arabs. As I read recently Salahuddin was a Kurd and many key figures in Arab culture in the Middle-East were also Kurds.
Syria is a country with a history of respect of cultural and religious diversity and in recent years (correct me if I'm wrong) with special laws to protect minorities - the Kurds are a minority in the north of Syria.
What is important here? Certainly that culture and minorities are respected and ABOVE ALL that local democracy takes the front seat. This may not mean that there is any necessity for a Kurdish state but certainly that their wishes / needs are taken into account.
IMHO this would have probably been respected under the Baathist (socialist) government of Syria.
In any case, (my personal reading) there was little conflict between religious or ethnic groups before 2011 in Syria. This means that Kurd (Arabs), Druze (Arabs), Christian (Arabs), Sunni(Arabs), Alawite (Arabs), Shia (Arabs) have all lived together for an incredibly long time with little or no problem.

Posted by: redracam | Aug 30 2016 1:33 utc | 109

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