Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 28, 2016

The Turkish Invasion Of Syria As Path To "Regime Change"

by Mark Sleboda
(via facebook)

The US-backed Turkish invasion of Syria with its proxies in tow now moves further into Syria to seize Al-Bab in a landgrab to create Erdogan's (and the U.S. neocon Brookings Institute's) long desired jihadi "safe haven"/"no fly zone" for al-Qaeda & friends to operate and stage from with impunity from Russian and Syrian airstrikes.

Map by Peto Lucem - bigger

Al-Bab is a "backdoor" on key routes south to Aleppo from the Turkish border.

Turkish supplies for the Islamic Army of Conquest offensives in South Aleppo and Latakia: arms, ammo, supplies, even artillery, tanks have been reported as flowing like water over the Turkish border

Turkey is obviously not coordinating its incursion with the Syrian government which condemns it as a violation of its sovereignty. The Kremlin's impotent calls for Turkey to coordinate with Damascus while waving the old Geneva communique have been completely ignored. Unfortunately there is little they can do at this point without engaging in a full scale war with Turkey and the U.S. in Syria. Something the Kremlin lacks the will to do. Turkey/U.S. intend that their proxies take Aleppo as leverage in settlement negotiations to force Assad to step down, or partition if that fails.

Both the Turkish and FSA flags, (not the Syrian flag), were raised over "liberated" Jarablus

Securing the Jarablus corridor from a westward YPG advance in attempts to link their "cantons" east and west along the Turkish border prevents supply lines to "Syrian rebels" from Turkey from being cut. That's why Turkey has taken action here while however grudgingly accepting Kurdish control over large stretches of Syrian-Turkish border everywhere else without taking action. The ratlines to the "rebels" are Turkey's primary concern here. Kurds are an important but demonstratively second concern.

Turkey's incursion was backed by US air-cover, drones, and embedded special forces per the WSJ. These were there largely to prevent Russia and Syria from even thinking about taking action against the invading forces.

Turkey is moving into Syria not just with its own military, but with thousands of "rebel opposition groups" including US-backed FSA brigades allied with AlQaeda/Nusra/Sham and the child head-chopping al-Zinki who are reported to form the vanguard. Syrian territory is outright being turned over to them by the Turkish military, simply exchanging control from one group of terrorist jihadis (ISIS) to others who are more media acceptable and more direct proxies of the Erdogan regime, the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

That said, ISIS has not resisted the Turkish advance at all - simply "melting away" (or exchanging one set of uniforms for another?). No stay-behinds, no suicide bombers, no IEDS, nothing. No fighting. Zero casualties. Turkish and "Syrian rebel" forces literally strolled in to Jarablus taking selfies and posing for cameras. Tag-team turnover.

The Kurdish YPG/SDF have proven that they have become nothing but lickspittle currs for the U.S., despite being betrayed, dutifully responding to the leash and withdrawing from Manbij which they bled for, and all positions east of the Euphrates on Biden's orders as he staged a press conference in Ankara with Erdogan. They have served their part in providing another layer of pretext for Turkey to invade Syria.

Layers of Pretext for Turkish invasion of Syria:

  1. "Liberating" Jarablus from ISIS to give it to al-Qaeda
  2. Giving Jarablus to al-Qaeda to deny it to Kurds
  3. Safe/No Fly Zone for al-Qaeda
  4. Neocon Plan B - Partition of Syria (if necessary)

The question has been raised about Russia's and Syria's supposedly "muted response" to all this and that their existing protestations (linked below) to the contrary are actually "lies" and that both are somehow in agreement and collusion with everything Erdogan is doing above in some kind of grand Eurasian alliance conspiracy and agreement to end the conflict in Syria ...

Right? This theory is really too absurd and far-fetched wishful thinking to warrant addressing. See Moscow: Russian Foreign Ministry Expresses Concern About Turkish Operation in Syria", Damascus: Syria condemns Turkey’s breach of Syria’s sovereignty in Jarablos

What kind of response do you expect? Do you think Russia would shoot U.S. and Turkish planes out of the sky and bomb Turkish forces in Syria? The Turkish coup upheaval aside, the Turkish military is still large enough several times over to crush the small Russian military taskforce in Syria. To say nothing of where things would go from there in a war with NATO.

What did Russia do when U.S., UK, France etc quietly put their own special forces and troops on the ground in Syria over the last year? What was the Kremlin's response just days ago when the U.S. declared a no fly zone over their SDF proxies attacking Syrian government forces and threatened to shoot down Russian jets?

Nothing. They did nothing then just like their "muted" objections now. Not because they want it to happen or are "in on it" but because there is nothing they can do about it short of openly attacking and going to war with the U.S. and Turkey (i.e. NATO) which the Kremlin is NOT willing to do for Syria.

They are likewise not going to make threats or demands about violations of Syria's sovereignty that they will not and cannot back up. Such bluster is not their style. It achieves nothing. They will continue to play the long game in Syria and hope events still turn their way without direct military confrontation with the U.S. and Turkey. They continue to push for a negotiated settlement on terms favorable to Damascus. Everyone is still playing the charade that they are all in the conflict in Syria to fight terrorists when we all know that it is just a front and the symptom for regime change. That game goes on, just now with Turkey upping the ante.

The U.S. and Turkey want a negotiated settlement too - they are just not willing to accept the current status of forces and intend to escalate and create new facts on the ground, primarily in and around Aleppo, that they hope will force Russia to accept that "Assad Must Go!" ensuring a settlement more favorable to them.

Erdogan has actually always been much louder and more insistent in demanding a "safe haven"/"no fly zone" for the proxies over the Jarablus corridor than the US. Erdogan pushed for it several times, and Obama refused, apparently infuriating his own State Department, CIA, and foreign policy elite in the process. Now Erdogan's tantrums and witch-hunt over the lack of Western support during the attempted Kemalist military coup, have blackmailed Obama into acceding to this, in order to restore relations.

Overall, however the US has put the hegemon's name, power, and prestige on the line for "Assad Must Go!" They simply cannot accept anything less than regime change. In the end, particularly after Clinton comes to power in the U.S. early next year and escalates the situation further than Obama has been willing as he tries to run out the clock, I am afraid that Russia will simply throw up their hands and walk away with whatever they can still get - not willing to go to World War III over Syria. A gambit the U.S. has no such reservations about. And that is the Kremlin's weakness, and why red line after red line of their's keeps getting crossed closer and closer to Russia's borders itself.

When Russia itself is at last on the line and in the targets, it may not have any friends left willing to stand by it.


[Note by b:

I can not decide which side has the upper hand. The "west" or Russia and its allies. Mark's well thought out version above may be spot on. But little birds tell me that all is going along a common Russian-Turkish plan to which the U.S had to acquiesce. Russia's potential threat to Turkey, should it try to cheat, is seriously arming  the PKK Kurds. Remember the anti-armor missiles and that one MANPAD they recently used? Those were warnings. Both versions make sense in their own. But can both be right?]

Posted by b on August 28, 2016 at 17:25 UTC | Permalink

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Posted by: Mark Sleboda | Aug 28 2016 17:41 utc | 1

Its still too early to call Turkey's move.. Let the Fog dissipate and see..

Posted by: Lozion | Aug 28 2016 17:49 utc | 2

When Russia itself is at last on the line and in the targets, it may not have any friends left willing to stand by it

Spot on. Many leftists, desperate for any sign of hope, chose to delude themselves into thinking that Putin represented some kind of fierce & uncompromising opposition to American hegemony. His first test was in the Donbass, which he miserably failed. His second (and final?) test is Syria, which he has now sold out as well. He has (with much Western help) managed to cultivate a 'strongman' nationalist image of himself in Russia which the Russian people like. But the paper tiger is quickly unmasking himself as little more than Medvedev in cool sunglasses. NATO will rampage through Syria, and you can be sure Putin will clear the fuck out if Washington asks him to (doesn't want to upset his Partners).

As Sleboda notes, when NATO is finally ready sink their fangs into Russia itself, no one will care.

Posted by: Mark | Aug 28 2016 17:53 utc | 3

I totally agree with this analysis. The time to show a strong hand was during the first cross border artillery barrage by flooding the area with every single jet fighter that could fly and the use of the jamming technology Russia can deploy. The Turks would have not dared cross the border without USAF support. Now all is likely lost and the next exportation of CIA mercenary radical Islam will be to Central Asia if Russia and friends can't make a stand in Syria. Look for other "safe-no fly zones" to pop up inside Syrian territory along the borders with Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon with American special op troops embedded with the "moderate" Daesh-Nusra-FSA units and declarations of threats to shoot down any approaching aircraft. I don't know if a counter threat backed by missile defense systems would have any effect now as it has become a put up or go home situation for the Russians and others within the Resistance Block and the military situation may be untenable?

Posted by: BRF | Aug 28 2016 18:17 utc | 4

Mark @ 3 nailed it.

Again, b leaves out the idiotic self-defeating lunacy of Russia ACTUALLY INVITING the greatest evil empire ever known, into Syria. Complete madness. And entirely predictable madness, except for self lying Putin-bots.

Remember when all the Putin-bots said Russia's advanced weapon systems will create a Syria deterrent to the empire and its lackeys. It would be hilarious if it wasn't so disturbing. Political will is the real deterrent.

That's why China was always so crucial in Syria, but their historical reluctance showed that it was not likely. And China was crucial, in the best case scenario, because of Russian leadership was so weak. A 2nd large state militarily involved in Syria countering the evil US Empire was always essential.
Always the case that the evil US Empire was more committed to despicable Syrian domination, then Russia misleadership resistance to it, except on its borders....but we'll see about that.

Posted by: tom | Aug 28 2016 18:28 utc | 5

Thank goodness I came back for a second read. I mistakenly thought it was b writing this article, and I was very upset by the language. But it's Mark Sleboda - I don't have any problem disagreeing with his take, I've done that a few times before.

Frankly, his final two paragraphs don't sound much like an analyst - more like the other thing - filled with an exaggerated assessment of US power and maneuvering space in Syria, and with a portrait of Russian weakness that simply doesn't match the facts. Can anyone name an actual red line of Russia's that has been crossed, with the Russians retreating? I can't. Putin has told the world and his people that they will fight terrorism in the near abroad rather than at home - and yet Sleboda counts this for nothing. It's simply not credible to conclude that Russia's friends are as fickle as this author seems to be.

Furthermore, the claim that the US is willing to go to WWIII over Syria while Russia is not is also not demonstrated by facts, nor with a regard to Russia's published doctrines. The US military has turned and set a different course each time that it has come close to actual conflict with Russian military in this theater.

It does seem that Erdogan is now over-playing his hand, and that the Russians are genuinely annoyed. What happens next, we don't know yet. Meanwhile on the ground and not in armchairs, Daarayyaa is now cleared of terrorists and 3,000 very battle-hardened Republican Guards are freed up to re-deploy elsewhere - if they don't go to Aleppo it will tell us there's no need. The struggle to free Syria continues.

Sleboda would have us think that Russia would abandon Syria, but he offers nothing to support this other than his own "fears". His claim is based on no supporting argument, or any observable facts that I've seen in recent years. Honestly, I might have considered some of what this article suggests, but it too seems to have overplayed its hand.

Posted by: Grieved | Aug 28 2016 18:44 utc | 6

Why don't Russia and China table a UNSC resolution condemning the Turkey's invasion of Syria as ah unlawful act of aggression in respect of Syria's sovereignty?

It would be futile as the US would veto it, but the debate would force discussion in the MSM and hopefully, in the American public.

Posted by: chet380 | Aug 28 2016 18:53 utc | 7

As I now also added above to Mark's piece:

[Note by b:

I can not decide which side has the upper hand. The "west" or Russia and its allies. Mark's well thought out version above may be spot on. But little birds tell me that all is going along a common Russian-Turkish plan to which the U.S had to acquiesce. Russia's potential threat to Turkey, should it try to cheat, is seriously arming the PKK Kurds. Remember all the anti-armor missiles and that one MANPAD they recently used? Those were warnings. Both versions make sense in their own. But can both be right?]

Posted by: b | Aug 28 2016 18:56 utc | 8

Get ready for French Spring

Posted by: Mina | Aug 28 2016 18:57 utc | 9

RIP Syria

Posted by: bbbb | Aug 28 2016 18:57 utc | 10

Excellent analysis of Putin. Good but still not Stalin.

It maybe that he listens a little too much to some Orthodox clergymen and that is holding him back. He needs to put aside Orthodoxy sensibilities.

And this also applies to the present Chinese leadership but there are signs they are knuckling down to the unpleasant reality of the Thucydides trap despite Deng's warning on this long ago. You would think they be fully psychologically prepared for it.

Posted by: ThatDamnGood | Aug 28 2016 18:58 utc | 11

Mark@3 - I respectfully disagree, Mark. I don't know how to express it properly, but it's as if Putin understands the futility of fighting a Middle East war as if it's WW II. Victory of any kind can't be achieved by land-grabbing by foreign powers unless they move in permanently and lord over the survivors.

The U.S., Israel, Turkey and Gulf cronies are (quite wrongly) fighting against a dictatorship - "Assad Must Go" - without realizing that they are really fighting against an entrenched feudal system. It simply can't be replaced with a western-style government, and it will degenerate into total chaos if you simply kill the reigning king and have the fiefs vote for a new one. You will, in fact, have something similar to Lebanon at best, or Iraq/Libya/Afghanistan at worst.

Emile Hokayum wrote what I though was a superb critique/response to another War on the Rocks author that tried to frame the solution in Syria as the idea of secular states and
citizenship - ideas that the Assad government embodies. Hokayum not only points out that the Assad government is nothing of the sort, but that the very idea - secular states and some notion of citizenship - is fundamentally flawed as any kind of solution in Syria.

Andrej Schmelzer summed it up nicely in his comment: "...Syria was, and arguably is, a feudal, not a dictatorial, system..." The 'solution' in Syria lies neither with Assad nor the west's fanciful ideas of a replacement government. Putin gets that. I'm not sure why everyone who is against western hegemony thinks Putin wants to see the exact same Assad - Alawite - feudal system restored and is willing to sacrifice all of Russia for it. It's a lot more complicated than that, and people seem to resent Putin not seeing this as a simplistic black-and-white situation. For God's sakes, that's the failed hydrocephalic (and genocidal) solution the U.S. has already attempted everywhere else in the Middle East. How's that working out so far?

Emile Hokayum's Aug. 24th War on the Rocks article and links to the articles critiqued:


For anyone looking for the quick-and-easy solution, don't look for it in Hokayum's article. He's merely pointing out that this situation goes far beyond supporting or opposing Assad.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Aug 28 2016 18:59 utc | 12

@3 It's news to me that Donbass is a failure, its an ongoing proxy war which many will argue the west is loosing. Do you care to expatiate on Putin's loss? Do you suppose he should have overtly project his power? Also in Syria, no one (on the outside) has a clue about the latest development, however from what has leaked, its seems there is some secret agreement between Turkey and Syria (Russia and Iran). Could Erdogan break the agreement? Sure, but that doesn't mean there isn't one. What is this thing about Turkey and FSA not raising Syrian flag? Who expects them to? It will be absurd if they did, all this Putin bashing without actually knowing the facts is ridiculous. If Putin can achieve his goal (whatever that is)in Syria without broadening the war, what is wrong with that?

Folks complain when we have the cowboy, numskull types in the west, who escalates without thinking of the consequences nor whether their ultimate goal can be achieved without said escalation, and also complain about Putin who is more cautious. My point it, no one knows much about the latest developments in Syria and a wait and see approach is called for here, these things will reveal themselves soon, as they always do.

Posted by: Blk | Aug 28 2016 18:59 utc | 13

Russia lifts restrictions on charter flights

Posted by: somebody | Aug 28 2016 18:59 utc | 14

Grieved@5 Good comment, on its face this looks like a bigger stab in the back by the Turk's than shooting down the Russian jet. How Putin responds will be interesting. Baring in mind that to Syria,Iran,Iraq, Hezbollah and to Russia itself, these moves if they were to prove successful [they will not] would be an existential threat to all the states involved in the 'arc of resistance' in the middle east.Worse still it would enable the war hawks [like John 'Tokyo Rose' McCain] to crow that Russia was a paper tiger whose interests [observing International Law etc] can be summarily dismissed, a dangerous gambit Russia dare not accept.

Posted by: harrylaw | Aug 28 2016 19:08 utc | 15

I always keep track of what Mark says. He lives in Moscow as an American. He's been weird since the coup attempt in Turkey. He's either super pessimistic or insiders in Moscow told him the coup was a fake designed to get Russia to believe they could cooperate with Erdogan.

However, I don't yet see it that way. The SAA has no time or forces to take AlBab and up to the border and they don't bomb up there much. I see Erdogan transferring forces out of Idlib and Aleppo city to the north allowing Syria to consolidate there and Latakia and around Damascus. Right now Syria is Swiss cheese. This can make it more stable and officially erasing ISIS, even if only changing their uniforms, is important for accountability. Erdogan could not safely turn against Al Qaeda. He has to be seen by them as still advancing the Caliphate. When the Turks are lined up against the SAA in north Aleppo province, possibly by next week, we will see how peaceful it remains. I predict it will be peaceful because Russia will defend the SAA itself. Russia didn't have to defend ISIS in Jarabulus and, after Hasakah, which was always indefensible, Russia would feel no obligation to defend the SDF from the Turks (the SDF is an American operation). So I see a prearranged partition of Aleppo province where the Turks in the north will keep Al Qaeda "busy" and out of trouble in the south. Supplying rebels via Idlib may only be to keep up appearances = Al Qaeda members believe Erdogan is their leader and don't fold back into Turkey to help the US kill Erdo. Still, the SAA is going to need to make progress in Idlib province before Clinton takes power.

Posted by: What the Dickens | Aug 28 2016 19:08 utc | 16

I guess Russians will have to make sure that the Kurds are properly armed to inflict a serious damage on Turkish Armed Forces, including in Turkey itself.
Turks cannot sustain open-ended war with the Kurds.

Posted by: telescope | Aug 28 2016 19:08 utc | 17

"When Russia itself is at last on the line and in the targets, it may not have any friends left willing to stand by it."

Countries don't have "friends" (or "enemies") - only interests. It was said long ago, remains valid today and will remain valid forever. People who don't understand such a simple a concept, will be frustrated and confounded always.

Posted by: telescope | Aug 28 2016 19:14 utc | 18

I simply cannot believe that the Syrian government cannot raise enoug men to defend their land. The SAA seems overstretched. I've seen pics/videos of people/men in Damascus and other government held cities going on about their business as if there's no war in their country. These are capable able men that should be fighting for their land instead of hanging out in cafes and such..

Another stupid the tactic the SAA's been using thoughout this war is laying f*ckin siege on rats held territories. Why waste resources and men to hold/maintain a siege when the rats are still able to get supplies through anyway??? I've seen pics of rats living under siege and they look well fed. Just f*ckin level the whole place down!!!

As for the lastest Turkish invasion with US blessing, I'd say it's too early to tell but one thing is for sure - this war is far far from over. Turkey's on a fool's errand and will end up with a bloodied nose in Syria. For the Syrian Kurds, they need to get rid of their foolish leaders who hang around in European capitals and get real. Syria won't be split so they better get their sh*t together and either help Syria fighter off her enemies or get out of the f*ckin way to let other do it!!!

Posted by: Zico | Aug 28 2016 19:17 utc | 19

@11 - yup. Stalin would've never done Putin's silly appeasement games. I hope Russia or Iran have some mass evac plans set up

Posted by: bbbb | Aug 28 2016 19:18 utc | 20

@18 that's the current group-think consensus among geopolitical 'experts', but actually you DO have to have friends and allies. USA has done a far better job at having allies than Russia. Russia is almost universally despised by surrounding countries, and her 'partners' have already been hung out to dry on numerous occasions in recent times

Posted by: bbbb | Aug 28 2016 19:22 utc | 21


Stalin operated in a completely different world. Demanding that Putin retrace his steps is a delusional lunacy.

Posted by: telescope | Aug 28 2016 19:24 utc | 22

There's no evidence yet that Erdo just double dealed Putin. If ISIS was always "Turkey", it's best to make it official, just like Trump intends to take Iraqi oil after replacing ISIS (immoral but it's logical evil and not the insane neocon plan to oust Assad). If ISIS was always the USA, Turkey is now stealing land from the Americans. Either way, the US has to do what Erdo wants.

Posted by: What the Dickens | Aug 28 2016 19:25 utc | 23

An interesting article and comments but none mention any influence in this situation by China who just indicated support for Syria.

For that reason I think that the analysis comes up quite a bit short. A bigger game about money and power is going on here and it is not just being fought in the ME.

Which way is the wind blowing? It depends on where you are and which direction you are looking.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Aug 28 2016 19:32 utc | 24

There are two things I can think of that fly in the face of what this author has written. The first is that if Turkey had just stuck it to Russia on the level that the author suggests (Russia losing their bases in Syria) and the Russians not willing to go all in then they would certainly turn up the economic pressure on Turkey. There are absolutely no signs of that. The EU has already made it clear that it's never letting Turkey in and Turkey needs to be able to do business as the Turkish economy is in real trouble right now. If he can't do it with the west they he most certainly will do it with the east. The US has absolutely no juice on this issue. Further he knows that most of the other states in the region are turning east. Iran, Egypt etc have applied to join SCO he won't want to be the odd man out.

Doing the dirty like this on his neighbours would be insane. Not only would Russia arm various groups Turkey is fighting but so would Iran. Lebanon, Syria, Iraq would all know they are in the cross hairs. They may be small independently but together they can put up a challenge. If turkey sends large forces into all these countries how long before groups seeking independence at home at home make their move? Don't forget the Turkish military and govt are already in disarray.

The second is that the US isn't in the drivers seat in any shape or form with Turkey right now. Biden went there cap in hand begging Turkey not to leave NATO. It looks like the US is getting ready to hand Gullen over to Erdogan for execution. The US wouldn't be doing that publicly to a top CIA asset if it had another choice. Turkey is demanding the US hand over the nuclear war heads stationed there. If the US says no?

We see the Turkish backed Islamists out torturing and killing the Kurds that just fought for the US. If the US had any real muscle in the region do you think that would be happening? They might have asked for a few weeks to walk the Kurds back across the Euphrates but they wouldn't have just said "Go ahead and kill them".

At the end of the day Erdogan sees Turkey as a super power like the US, Russia or China. He has crazy illusions about the extent of his power and thinks he can screw any one. But right now he has exactly zero friends with every one wanting to see him fall.

Posted by: BraveNewWorld | Aug 28 2016 19:34 utc | 25

Mark Sleboda: Turkey's incursion was backed by US air-cover, drones, and embedded special forces per the WSJ. These were there largely to prevent Russia and Syria from even thinking about taking action against the invading forces.

Why would US forces be necessary? Turkey is a NATO country and could close the straits if they were attacked. IMO US forces are there because both Turkey and US want to demonstrate (to the Kurds mostly) that US-Turk relations are solid. Russians and Kurds were punked, and the "coup" psyop was the means of punking them.

= =
Mark Sleboda: ... Obama refused, apparently infuriating his own State Department, CIA, and foreign policy elite in the process.

Obama never refuses the neocons, he just tries to achieve the same thing in a 'smart' way using guile & black ops coupled with propaganda.

= =
Mark Sleboda: What kind of response do you expect?

Good question!

= =
Mark Sleboda: Now Erdogan's tantrums and witch-hunt over the lack of Western support during the attempted Kemalist military coup, have blackmailed Obama into acceding to this, in order to restore relations.

IMO the "coup" was a psyop. And a bold/brillant one that has worked spectacularly well.

I base my opinion on two things: the way that it has been sold, and the results.

The narrative that Erdogan saved Turkish democracy was pushed waaay too much. The "proof" that US/NATO helped the coup-sters is waaay too flimsy but much was made of it. The wringing of hands over US-Turkish relations has centered on rumors and staged events.

The results have been great for Erdogan and his Assad must go partners-in-crime. Erdogan is strengthened. Russian sanctions lifted (hoping for the 'pivot' that never came). The Aleppo siege was lifted. Turkey has intervened. US had cause to betray the Kurds (hey we really love you guys, but ...).

= =
Mark Sleboda:US has put the hegemon's name, power, and prestige on the line for "Assad Must Go!" They simply cannot accept anything less than regime change.

No, they haven't. The US has had a certain role to play which Obama summed up as "leading from behind". This includes diplomatic interference - which allows it to remain removed while supportive.

We are now seeing neocons push US to play a more direct role. It was only a few weeks ago that NYTimes wrote of CIA's proxy war against Russia in Syria.

= =
Mark Sleboda:In the end, particularly after Clinton comes to power in the U.S. early next year and escalates the situation further than Obama has been willing as he tries to run out the clock ...

'Obama's legacy' is just another way of causing opponents to let down their guard. Aren't we seeing an escalation NOW? Does it really matter if it is Erdogen or Salman or Obama or Netanyahu or Clinton - they are all in it together!

Those taken in by "Obama's legacy" and "Erdogan's pivot" sound like hopeful school boys - or propagandists.

= =
Mark Sleboda:... I am afraid that Russia will simply throw up their hands and walk away with whatever they can still get - not willing to go to World War III over Syria.

I think we've seen otherwise. They came to Syria's aid in 2013 and 2015. Now China has also expressed interest.

There was a link here recently about 'axis of resistance' forming their own proxy army. Such an approach seems more likely than abandoning Syria.

= =
b: Russian-Turkish plan to which the U.S had to acquiesce

I love to hear more about why you think so. I don't see it.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 28 2016 19:34 utc | 26

@22 ceasefires to nowhere that get your own precious allies killed in a war of attrition seems lunacy enough to me

Posted by: bbbb | Aug 28 2016 19:36 utc | 27

Russia is "despised" because it's taking care of itself first. It would be "loved" if it was subsidizing everyone, throwing money around, and subordinating its own interests to the interests of others - while rotting within (the way USSR did).

It's better to be "despised" and alive than to be loved to death.

USA, on the other hand, has no allies, only leeches and parasites masquerading as "friends". It's no accident that the more "allies" it has, the worse it is economically and socially. Once these "friends" bleed America dry, they will start "despising" it too, after it withdraws from the world and starts licking its wounds.

Posted by: telescope | Aug 28 2016 19:39 utc | 28

Landis' view

Posted by: Mina | Aug 28 2016 19:40 utc | 29

What the Dickens @16:

Still, the SAA is going to need to make progress in Idlib province before Clinton takes power.
What makes you think there will be much difference between Obama and Clinton? (layoff the Kool-Aid)

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 28 2016 19:44 utc | 30


But little birds tell me that all is going along a common Russian-Turkish plan to which the U.S had to acquiesce.
If Turkey has 'pivoted' and Turkey-Russia-Iran are working together, then why has Russia hit a brick wall in discussions with KSA and USA?

Doesn't a Turk pivot mean that Assad must go! has lost?

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 28 2016 19:46 utc | 31

b, with regard as to who may have the advantage: When it comes to a struggle like this where one side wants to maintain a functional government and society while the other merely wants to destroy the same, the "chaos" side naturally has the advantage. Russia has a much harder job than does the US.

Posted by: WorldBLee | Aug 28 2016 19:47 utc | 32


That's a fine analysis of the situation.

Posted by: telescope | Aug 28 2016 19:54 utc | 33

Spot on Mark.

Let it be a lesson : to defeat the US Hegemony you have to go all the way. Half-measures are not enough. After the downing of the Russian jet was the big opportunity, which Russia squandered senselessly. Instead Russia went for appeasement and non-confrotation. Massive fail.

How to salvage the situation ? Almost impossible now.

Posted by: redrooster | Aug 28 2016 19:56 utc | 34

@13 - Blk:

Putin could've instantly ended the war in Ukraine if he had recognized the eastern regions decision - as he did in Crimea - to re-join Russia; you can be sure Kiev would not be launching offensives against Russian territory. Instead Putin decided not to upset his Western Partners, & feared if he recognized Donbass, the West would say he was an expansionist & a land-grabber who invaded Ukraine to rebuild the Soviet Union - he refused the people of eastern Ukraine, and in return, the West called him an expansion & a land-grabber who invaded Ukraine to rebuild the Soviet Union. Every time Putin tries to appease Washington, Washington laughs, urinates in his eyes, & becomes more aggressive.

In Syria you speak of some mysterious "secret agreement" and allude to Putin's 'master plan.' So far we've seen Putin remove most of the sanctions on Turkey, and in response, Turkey funnelled an additional 5,000 terrorists into Aleppo to attack the Syrian Army, and has now launched a formal American-backed invasion of the country's north. Meanwhile in Geneva, the eternally clueless Lavrov insists that USA is virtually really very almost finally close to separating the good terrorists from the bad terrorists (something Putin initially said could not be done).

Brilliant job Putin. Top work.

Posted by: Mark | Aug 28 2016 19:57 utc | 35

Jackrabbit: the assumption is Clinton will be more warlike and reckless than Obama, in Syria and Ukraine. I'd love to be convinced she'd just middle along like he does.

I still don't see how officially deleting ISIS in north Aleppo is bad for Russia if Turkey is likely to remain an ally.

Posted by: What the Dickens | Aug 28 2016 20:01 utc | 36

BraveNewWorld @25:

Doing the dirty like this on his neighbours would be insane.
Erdogan sees Turkey's future as part of the Sunni bloc. But he will also have made a calculation of who is likely to win in Syria and struck his best 'deal'. US stepping up involvement in Syria and backing Erdogan's move into Syria are telling.
The second is that the US isn't in the drivers seat in any shape or form with Turkey right now.
Rumors of US moving nukes are unsubstantiated and Biden's humiliation at the airport was a cheap stunt. What real evidence is there of a Turk 'pivot'?

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 28 2016 20:03 utc | 37


Russian elections in September may have something to do with it.
And US elections in November.

This gives a window of opportunity for a sneaky Turk to act while the uncertainty increases in Russia & US political spaces.

Putin does not need a war to get re-elected (& would be hurt if he did) and Trump would not be interested. Killary ... well, that mad war-criminal 'we think it would be worth it' bitch could use it for sure. Probably why Biden gave the green light to help with a wedge as he and Obomba slink out the door.

Posted by: x | Aug 28 2016 20:06 utc | 38

This piece disregards the drivers of the war.

Russia's motives are not to save Syria or to kill Jihadis abroad instead of having to kill them at home but to preserve their presence and naval base at the mediteranean and more immportantly to prevent huge oil and gas flows from the Qatari/Iranian oil fields to Europe. It would reduce Russia's income and diminish it's influence in Europe as major supplier. That's why they were in bed with Isreal and the US to impose sanctions on Iran. Hasakah where the Kurds attacked their Syrian overlords/protectors udner US enticement is of no interest to the Russians and the Kurds are the bargaining chip against Turkey.

The motives of the US are to chop up all countries outside their hegemony into weak even more manipulative statelets. An even more factured middle east including Turkey would be beneficial to the US and Israel. Not that it matters but if Russia or any other player would attack Turkey within Syria, NATO is not obliged to act.

The motives of the Turks are obvious which is to expand its area of control in Asia. The "attack" on Al-Bab does seem more related to the Kurdish attack in Hasakah. They were well on their way to join the Kurdish area in western Syria to eastern Syria. Something which is inacceptable to both Turkey and the Syrian central government.

Posted by: Pico | Aug 28 2016 20:08 utc | 39

Legislative elections will be held in Russia on 18 September 2016, having been brought forward from 4 December. At stake are the 450 seats in the State Duma of the 7th convocation, the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia. United Russia is the ruling party after having won the 2011 elections with 49.32% of the vote, taking 238 seats (53%) of the seats in the State Duma. (Wikipedia)

Posted by: x | Aug 28 2016 20:08 utc | 40

thank you mark and b..

i find marks commentary overly emotional and from this angle, suspect... i can't draw the same conclusions and am more aligned with b's addendum.. however, i agree with @32 worldblee in that going for chaos has an advantage, over maintaining the previous order.. pepe's term 'empire of chaos' rings true..

@29 mina - landis strikes me like a cia asset... i don't trust what he shares, but thanks for sharing it.

thank you grieved @6, paveway @12 and blk @13.. i kinda see it that way myself..

@25 bravenewworld... i agree.. i still maintain erdogan is not playing with a full deck.. we shall see..

Posted by: james | Aug 28 2016 20:12 utc | 41

What the Dickens @36:

the assumption is Clinton will be more warlike
More warlike than: Libya, almost bombing Syria, backing Syrian headchoppers, sponsoring a coup in Ukraine, moving troops to Russian borders; continuing drone attacks; conducting a war on whistle-blowers; pervasive spying and extensive propaganda; challenging China in South China Sea? Really?

Obama has laid the groundwork for Clinton to go further. Lay off the Kool-Aid.

I still don't see how officially deleting ISIS in north Aleppo is bad for Russia if Turkey is likely to remain an ally.
But they are not "deleting" ISIS, are they? Have you somehow missed the reports of NO OPPOSITION to Turkey's incursion from ISIS???

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 28 2016 20:14 utc | 42

Who is 'tom' #5?

Posted by: Cassandra | Aug 28 2016 20:22 utc | 43

...willing to go to World War III...




Posted by: john | Aug 28 2016 20:26 utc | 44

Assad, Assad, if only if you had accepted the Qatari pipeline and even asked for a bribe for it, rather than worry about your friend up north, you would have saved a lot of your country men a lot of trouble.

If you knew then what you know more of his appreciative your friend up north would be, would you have find things differently?

ASSad ASSad, alas, countries have no friends only interest as Putin has said.

Posted by: ThatDamnGood | Aug 28 2016 20:29 utc | 45

*If you knew then what you know now of how appreciative your friend up north would be, would you have done things differently?

Posted by: ThatDamnGood | Aug 28 2016 20:31 utc | 46


'Kemalist coup upheaval' characterization is massively wrong as it has been well known that Fethullah Gulen (a major CIA operative) followers, who had been infiltrating into veins of secular Turkish republic including and, arguably, most important Turkish military have committed the coup upheaval on July 15th. The Gulenist cult with supreme help from Erdogan and co are the ones threw secular part of Turkish Army under faux-forged Sledgemhammer, the Erghenekon trials circa 2008-2013.

Another point that should not be missed is all those very credible Russian/Putin allegations (imo, mostly correct) on how Erdogan via his criminal network had been doing business with ISIS, and Al-Qeda type terrorists post Russian plane incident all of a sudden (been a while actually) thrown under the bus by the very same Russia.

Posted by: Truist | Aug 28 2016 20:47 utc | 47

Here is an opposing viewpoint:

Turkey crosses into Syria: Unipolar Conspiracy or Multipolar Coordination?

IMO it is too early to tell what Turkey's real motives are at this point. Wait and see where they stop their advance. Let's wait and see if the Kurds are now allowed to be part of the Syrian dialogue. That will mean Turkey has made a deal with Russia, Iran, Syria. If not they are "rogue" as MS states.

It does grind me that the idiots of the "FSA" that ISIS has pushed right back to the Turkish border now think they are heros and great fighters against the Kurds that have no more US air (and whatever else) support. It will be sad to see them decimate Northern Aleppo.

Posted by: Dean | Aug 28 2016 21:11 utc | 48

This latest from BoilingFrogs make a lot of sense .All is the "ifs" we can imagine does not address what we are seeing in the MSM when it comes to propping up the US pasties . Just like the tone went from Assaud must got to one of a lesser , unless we see clear evidence that tptb has Turkey back in control then I can assume that Turkey is working with Russia/Syria . The Rulers’ Angel-Evil-Making Process: From Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak to Turkey’s Erdogan MSM gets its marching orders from the ones calling the shots . ..

Posted by: Terry | Aug 28 2016 21:21 utc | 49

...Unfortunately there is little they can do at this point without engaging in a full scale war with Turkey and the U.S. in Syria. Something the Kremlin lacks the will to do.

I wonder if Mark Sleboda has some tasty sauce to sprinkle on those words when he has to eat them?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Aug 28 2016 21:34 utc | 50

Total Western Hubris knows no bounds. In that past 11 months Russia has continually outflanked, outmaneuvered and obliterated Western sponsored forces in the Syrian theater of combat. Can you name one win for our side? This was all accomplished without the use of Russian ground forces.

September 2015 when all of the bureaucrats were scheduled to meet, dine and backslap in NYC at the UN Russia pulled the plug. The US media was caught completely and totally off guard and have been in a constant state of denial as far as 'facts on the ground.' The Western medias are completely silent on the effectiveness Russia's surprise bombing missions originating from Iranian air fields which caught our Western backed head choppers completely off guard as the PTB believed that they could notify their mercenaries of Russian aircraft movements in advance via satellite intelligence. Wrong! Russia has used mutual truces to pinpoint command and control points which they then destroy. Our military forces are sleepwalking into WWIII egged on by a totally deluded media and domestic political forces best described as treasonous self serving losers. To the victor goes the spoils.

The media circus fools, including the trolls spewing on MoA, cannot point to one success in the past 11 months yet they eagerly back any move that will appear to harm Syria, Iran, Russia while simultaneously being in a state of total denial of the reality on the ground.

Not only does Russia not show its cards, the Rus can read our cards at will.

Just me opinion.

Posted by: ALberto | Aug 28 2016 21:36 utc | 51

Some perspective on Syria and this war may be interesting. Here's a 10-minute clip from an interview given by Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, I think a month or two back, but this clip was published with subtitles today.

Hezbollah Leader explains why Syria & Assad are crucial to Middle East war - English Subs

Nasrallah explains how everything happening in Syria is a direct result of the 2006 war, how it's all really a continuation of the war, in which Hezbollah roundly defeated Israel and shook those warmongers up very, very badly.

The missiles of that war were largely made in Syria. Sayyed explains how to the Resistance Axis, Syria is not simply a bridge to connect the fighting states like Iran and Lebanon, but that Syria is itself an adamantine, unbreakably moral and steadfast nation, a crucial part of the resistance. If Syria goes, the rest of the axis doesn't simply fall like dominoes, the axis itself is shattered.

Syria, and its undeviatingly faithful culture, and its matching leader Assad, is a very substantial nation in the eyes of its allies. It's not just a pawn in the hands of the west, it's the point of the arrow against Israel and the Gulf states. This is a long war already, and far from over, but it flows seamlessly from the massive defeat given to the enemy 10 years ago, and from which he still struggles to rise and inflict harm upon the resistance.

Posted by: Grieved | Aug 28 2016 21:41 utc | 52

I join and agree with Grieved at #6

IMHO, Mark Sleboda is mouthing pro-Atlanticist….the Russia is weak meme and RF should seek acceptance by the West or some such rubbish.

Russia will not abandon Syria. To abandon Syria is to give up Tartus, Russia’s only warm water port used without hindrance.
Black Sea has an exit point through Bosphorus Strait which Turkey, NATO member and fickle friend, controls. Failure to secure Syria has untold consequences; a failed state and no port. Ain’t gonna happen.

Russia’s Interest in Syria is paramount.

Russia remembers well that NATO was all set to take Crimea in 2014. US gov. had advertised for tenders (DoD – Department of Navy website- Solicitation No: N33191-13-R-1240, Sept 05,2013) to renovate Sevastopol (Crimea) schools.

Coup was early 2014! Coincidence? Crimea Independence Vote to rejoin RF was March 16, 2014. Tender Cancelled on April 15, 2014.

Why? With the Black Sea Sevastopol prize for the US’ helping hand in the planned coup, it’s more likely these were tenders to “renovate and convert” the schools and hospital into military base and housing. It has been posited – “He who controls Crimea, controls the Black Sea.”

Mr. Putin delivers - acts very quietly when everyone has forgotten his promise to respond to NATO’s ever-increasing set-up on Russia’s border. Wonder no more;
Indeed, this is not ordinary Indeed this response is not ordinary news:

Symmetrical Response: Russia Will Get Division of Troops 85 KM Off US Border

[.] Commenting on the defense minister's announcement in an analysis for the independent online newspaper Svobodnaya Pressa, defense analyst Sergei Ishchenko pointed out that so far, no other details have been provided on this future military force. "However, it's obvious that this is not just ordinary news, not least because what we're talking about is the creation of a serious military force just a stone's throw away from the United States: only the Bering Strait will separate the Russian coastal defense division from Alaska. At its narrowest point, that's only 86 km away. Therefore, it's worth taking a closer look at this announcement."[.]

~ ~ ~ ~

I’m placing bets Mr. Shoigu will be the next president of Russia.

Perhaps Alaska may have a referendum to rejoin Russia!
HeHeHe, pass the popcorn with some vintage wine.

Posted by: likklemore | Aug 28 2016 21:45 utc | 53

Terry @49:

... unless we see clear evidence that tptb has Turkey back in control then I can assume that Turkey is working with Russia/Syria ...
Why not the opposite? Until we see clear evidence of Turkey's 'pivot', shouldn't we assume that Erdogan is still with US/NATO/Assad must go! ??

<> <> <> <> <> <>

Sibel's video is interesting. But I don't think Erdogan has been demonized in Western media nearly as much as one would expect if they were truly against him.

Sibel also loudly proclaimed that MSNBC's tweet - sourced from a senior US military official - that Erdogan had fled to Germany was evidence that US was on the side of the coup plotters. But given the weakness of the coup attempt, one has to question if the tweet was really designed to snooker as many anti-Erdogan individuals as possible via self-identification of their support for the coup.

This naturally leads one to question if CIA-MIT worked together to strengthen Erdogan by leading coup planners to believe that a coup would have the support of US/NATO.

Much of what has occurred since:

>> the 'selling' of the view that US was involved including the untruth of Erdogan's having 'saved' Turkish democracy;

>> the wringing of hands over the non-rupture in US-Turk relations: Erdogan goes to Russia! (a nothingburger); Base closed! (no effect on operations) US moving nukes! (unsubstantiated rumors) Biden snubbed at airport (a PR stunt);

>> the benefits of the coup to Erdogan and the Assad must go! Coalition: Russia's lift of sanctions in the hope that Erdogan's 'pivot' is real; Turkish incursion; US has excuse to pull back the Kurds (while still maintaining that they are supportive), etc.

leads me to believe that the coup was an elaborate (and successful!) psyop.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 28 2016 21:54 utc | 54

This post by Sleboda was little more than a tantrum.

The US is in desperation damage control mode. They are frantically trying to keep the impression that they are in control and the sole super power dictating the terms of all state actions.

What we do know is:

* Turkey, a NATO member and key ally of the US in the Middle East is publicly accusing the US of carrying out an attempted coup

* High level meetings are taking place between Turkey, Russia, Syria, and Iran.

* Both Russia and Iran have been relatively restrained in their public statements on Turkey attacking the Kurds

* Any actions by Turkey that Russia deems harmful their interests can be immediately and severely taken against Turkey. So far not a single hint at reinstating sanctions against Turkey have been made by any Russian official. Just the opposite, all public statements by both Turkey and Russia have indicated a continued warming of relations.

* Turkey was hit with crippling sanctions by Russia for simply downing a single Russian plane. A NATO member invading Russia's main partner and home to effectively permanent naval and air bases and not single concrete action by Russia. You have to be delusional to think Russia is not completely in sync with Turkey's actions against the Kurds.

Whether Turkey ends up with the US or Russian in the long term is too early to tell, but there is a huge amount of concrete evidence that Turkey, Russian, Iran, and Syria are actively working together on common interests and a huge amount of at least circumstantial evidence that the US is in panic mode to give the impression that they are still in control and Turkey remains on a leash.

Posted by: Stevens | Aug 28 2016 22:06 utc | 55

: Jackrabbit | Aug 28, 2016 5:54:32 PM | 54

Yes that has the ability to be true . Its all been much of a yoyo spin week to week and day to day .So like most of the other times when things look one way or another we are left to ponder and see what happens tomorrow .Great comments on this site and lots of dots :>)

Posted by: Terry | Aug 28 2016 22:07 utc | 56

Could this be Russia allowing Turkey to get the Kurds off Assad's back while Russia and SAA deal with ISIS?

Posted by: ruralito | Aug 28 2016 22:10 utc | 57

Who believes Erdogan?

Posted by: nmb | Aug 28 2016 22:19 utc | 59

Re: @53: a division of soldiers at the end of the world? I suspect that it will have a waaaaay fewer soldiers than 10,000. But placing some hardware and soldiers may make sense, given increasing strategic importance of the "North East Passage" that has its eastern terminus there. Tracking flights, tracking submarines, ships, hardware to respond, some protection etc. Most importantly, at long last Sarah Palin will actually see troops from her window.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Aug 28 2016 22:22 utc | 60

Stevens @55

Pretending to be in control?

Haven't they been pretending to NOT be in control?

<> <> <> <> <> <>

We are led to believe that Turkey slipped the leash due to US/NATO-backing for the attempted coup. Yet the evidence of US/NATO backing for the coup is flimsy and the much ballyhooed distancing of US and Turkey is based on rumors and PR stunts.

Isn't it awesome how a key Assad must go! ally has been strengthened and can achieve goals that otherwise would've been impossible?

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 28 2016 22:41 utc | 61

All this nonesence of a grand Eurasian alliance conspiracy is a serious delusion and miscalculation of the reality.

If Turkey was actively working together with Syria and Russia it would close the Turkish borders to the headchoppers of Idlib.

Not only did Turkey not close the borders but actively supplied the headchoppers to the point that they broke the seige of Aleppo.

Without the porous turkish borders the moderate headchoppers in Idlib and around Aleppo city would be finished and the SAA could concentrate on solving the YPG and ISIS problem to it's north and east.

Quite telling is the fact that Turkey in it's invasion of northern Syria replaces the formely ISIS and SDF held areas with the same moderate headchoppers that Syria, Russia and Iran are fighting in the west.

Posted by: redrooster | Aug 28 2016 22:43 utc | 62


"Putin could've instantly ended the war in Ukraine if he had recognized the eastern regions decision - as he did in Crimea"

Crimea was reintegrated back into Russia as it was previously an autonomous state inside Ukraine. It wasn't formally part of the Ukraine and held distinct status. I do think that preservation of military assets in Crimea trumped all else. However, with DPR and LPR, Russia needs it to remain inside Ukraine as a counter to the Western Banderaistas as a counter to any attempt to bring Ukraine into NATO. DPR and LPR has more value for Russia inside Ukraine than it does in Russia proper.

The recognition of DPR and LPR by Russia as separate states would have been all the justification for Kiev to beg NATO to let it join. With their ongoing ATO, assession into NATO is a non-starter.

Russia, including Putin, made the best call for that situation as well as the situation in Syria.

Moscow just needs to be patient because Washington just keeps digging a deeper and deeper hole to fall in.

Posted by: P Walker | Aug 28 2016 22:58 utc | 63

Terry 49. Thnx for the vid of Sibel Edmonds pointing out the Angel-Evil transformation of semi-installed leaders. Again, it's paying attention to how the game is played. She is one of my heroes for what she has done as a whistle blower and beyond.

Posted by: Curtis | Aug 28 2016 23:23 utc | 64

My opinion, for what it's worth, is that consolidating control over Aleppo and the coastal regions is the uppermost priority for the Syrians. Trying to control all its territory is out of reach for Damascus at the present time and would most likely lead the Syrian government into one of several traps laid by Washington and its allies. If the Turks can carve out a buffer zone between Turkey and Syria and control that, good luck to them, but I doubt that over time Syrian Kurdish populations will relish being under Ankara's heel and sooner rather than later they and their fellow Kurds just over the border will rebel against Turkey as one.

This seems a similar strategy to that followed by Russia with respect to Crimea, the Donbass and possibly other parts of Ukraine (Odessa especially) - in the short term, it looks like weakness but in the long term it forces people in the area to recognise where their real interests lie and to fight for them.

Posted by: Jen | Aug 28 2016 23:26 utc | 65


"Not only did Turkey not close the borders but actively supplied the headchoppers to the point that they broke the seige of Aleppo."

And the dollar isn't going collapse tomorrow.
And China isn't going to control the South China Sea tomorrow.

Turkey, Russia, Iran, and Syria are all having high level diplomatic activity where previously there was none. That is a FACT.

Turkey is publicly accusing the United States of backing or creating a coup. That is a FACT.

Knocking down strawmen about some "Eurasian alliance conspiracy" is irrelevant noise.

Along with all the other irrelevant garbage about false flags, lizard people, or the Illuminati being behind the Turkey coup.

Posted by: Stevens | Aug 28 2016 23:32 utc | 66

I agree with Lozion @ #2. It is way too early to form any conclusion, much less an opinion, about this Turkey military action in Syria.

Posted by: Donny | Aug 28 2016 23:45 utc | 67

for the record @ 2 and @ 67 is in agreement with b in his commentary under mark sleboda's post..

Posted by: james | Aug 28 2016 23:49 utc | 68

Is there any way to make sure the Turks will stay in the border region and not be 'accidentally' pulled into the battle for Aleppo?

Posted by: smuks | Aug 28 2016 23:52 utc | 69

just a few thoughts:

jarablus may be a bone thrown to the turks like a dozen roses sent to a jilted lover. "sorry abut that coup's a border town for ya".

it also may be a case of "let's get there before the kurds do since they'll actually kill the takfiri twats instead of letting them scatter like roaches when the lights come on".

as for putin's "weakness" on donbass, i'd say he's also playing the long game there. crimea was an immediate danger since it would be a backdoor to nato fleets parking and bombing and such; donbass is taking care of itself rather well with russian aid (covert and overt) and i doubt anyone expects the current "ukro-nazi" government to last long. remember the last "colour revolution"? did that last? eventually the puppet regime will collapse under its own weight and an opening will present itself for an actual government run by non-psychopaths.

china is also involved and i doubt russia would have coordinated that if they weren't "all in". they don't have to directly attack US forces or their proxies because the proxy game is one anyone with the resources can play. there sure seem to be a lot of embittered kurds in the area who are starting to hate the US "coalition" as much as they hate the turks and al-nusra-sham-ISIS-nambla.

Posted by: the pair | Aug 28 2016 23:53 utc | 70

This post seems like more psyops ... like the 'inevitability' of the Clinton win, like the inevitability of US hegemony, like the end of history. The talk and 'analysis' is way out front of what's happening on the ground. It's still unclear what is happening ... outside of Erdogan's endlessly expanding ego. One bet that seems right is that overinflated balloons all pop. The neo-cons' balloon, finally, along with Erdogan's.

@12 pw 'it will degenerate into total chaos if you simply kill the reigning king and have the fiefs vote for a new one'

You say 'total chaos' as though it were a 'bad thing' ... from the 'U.S., Israel, Turkey and Gulf cronies' point of view. They all share the same Samsonist, après nous le déluge perspective. Life is not worth living if not 'our way'. Collectively they are less than 5 or 6 % of the planet's human population ... an argument can be made for the delusional character of their perspective.

Posted by: jfl | Aug 28 2016 23:58 utc | 71

so nice the donmeh turk
make plans with a russian who
friend of the chabad maybe

Turkey, Russia agree next Syrian regime should be inclusive: Turkish FM

Posted by: charles drake | Aug 29 2016 0:03 utc | 72

ALberto @51. Excellent comment. btw, Russia does not have to 'read' our cards. Those neocons show their cards eagerly. They think up cards to play and they conduct a televised 'forum' and proudly tell the world what they just thought up.

It is due to their hubris. Their hubris makes them announce their cards to the world even before they play them, they are so very proud. In turn, their hubris blinds them when Russia calls and raises.

It comes 'out of the blue' to the neocons. They get punched in the nose every time, and every time, they never see the punch coming.

Posted by: Donny | Aug 29 2016 0:06 utc | 73

Anyone thinking that Russia will abandon Syria should recall a few facts:

* In late August of 2013, many Neocon propagandists claimed that Russia would abandon Syria and allow Obama to launch a new illegal war. Instead, Russia deployed 11 warships off the Syrian coast, preventing Obama from attacking Syria.

* In August of 2015, all the Neocon propagandists were claiming that Russia would soon abandon Syria and allow a US attack. Instead, Russia doubled down, built an airbase, and started airstrikes against Washington's al-Queda puppets in late September, 2015. The Khmeimim airbase has now been made into a permanent Russian base.

Taking that into account, we can conclude that Russia will NOT abandon the Syrian government. If Russia was going to abandon Syria, they already would have done so years ago. Hillary's election will change nothing on that front.

Posted by: N | Aug 29 2016 0:06 utc | 74

Thanks James @68. I only read the first few paragraphs of the article and started to comment. I'm about 1/3rd the way so far.

Posted by: Donny | Aug 29 2016 0:08 utc | 75

My opinion, for what it's worth, is that consolidating control over Aleppo and the coastal regions is the uppermost priority for the Syrians. Posted by: Jen | Aug 28, 2016 7:26:26 PM | 65

Hard to tell. This is war of hundred fronts. Right now, the progress is in Damascus area, Darayya pocket will be gone very soon, and Moadamiya allegedly will be evacuated as well, while there is also a slow advance in East Ghouta. A stalemate in Aleppo, but if one can extrapolate from previous actions in Castello Rd area, the siege will be restored, this would have a strategic importance.

More important is deterioration of anti-Assad coalition. It would be nice to peel off ISIS from Erdogan, and YPG from Americans, and Turkish entry with apparent American blessing can lead to both. If Erdogan keeps phony war against ISIS for too long, the act may wear thin, and it is hard to see that YPG is very pleased right now. My prediction is that Erdogan will support Jihadists of both flavors until Putin will be able to play PKK card through YPG.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Aug 29 2016 0:13 utc | 76

One thing Putin is good at is not drawing red lines.

Or let's just say he smudges them as he draws them perhaps. He's quite averse to taking any meaningful stand. There is some value to that as it makes him hard to corner. So there's that.

Increasingly it's clear that Putin is Medvedev with swagger and a corset.

Posted by: paul | Aug 29 2016 1:14 utc | 77

@blk 13 donbas is controlled by oligarch schum, betrayed the brave men who died for it. russia is not the archangel delivering great justice always

As for these events, as b poitnts out, it's as easy for Turkey to give anti tank missiles and manpads to kurds as it is for the cia to give them to al nusra. Any turkish occupation can be made incredibly painful

But as many point out there was a deal made, what it was, what it entails, we just don't know. It's always a mistake to instantly react with 'russian betrayal.' The answer comes in good time

Posted by: Cresty | Aug 29 2016 1:27 utc | 78

I completely disagree and i would reserve judgement on this invasion for now.

Erdogan is about Erdogan. He is going to play the two sides (Russia/China, USA/Europe) against each other to eek out the maximum leverage and position for himself (turkey). He can't piss off either side "too" much or the game ends.

What we can say with some confidence is that Mr. Erdogan is extremely hostile to the idea of a Kurdish state anywhere because that would threaten the very existence of Turkey. We can be equally confident in the US/neocon support for precisely this. Israel's leaders and the US neocons see a Kurdish state as essential to weakening Iran, Syria, and Iraq. As a result, there is obviously going to be some friction and conflict between the US and turkey which means Erdogan can't piss off Russia/Iran/China too much or a PKK home will come out of Turkey.

Net: the Putin is a weak, coward narrative does not stand up to scrutiny.

Posted by: alaric | Aug 29 2016 1:37 utc | 79

@79 Alaric, Your conclusion is on point. Not only does it not stand up to scrutiny, it is grossly irrational and naive. Have we forgotten that Turkey couldn't violate Syria's sovereignty openly for months? If there was no agreements with Russia, Iran nor Syria, this campaign would have been decimated as soon as it started and NATO wouldn't do a darn thing about it. Like I stated earlier, all these developments require a wait and see approach since we don't know anything about the arrangements or lack thereof.

@78 Cresty, I agree with you, I don't think the Russians (I assume you mean the Russian government) are angels neither. I am simply stating that the Donbass issue is not settled, yet people seem to have drawn conclusions about it. As for the corruption, that encompasses the whole of Ukraine and for that matter, every single government on the planet. All I am saying is that, the Russians aren't weak, btw, weakness is very subjective, remember the U.S as powerful as its military is won't engage Russia militarily alone, its the whole of the western world. So everyone saying Putin should have done this or that need to consider that. Also if there is going to be a hot war, does it make sense for Russia to start it over Syria? That question can be posed to the west as well, no western government can sell that war to their people. So I think we need to see how it plays out.

Posted by: Blk | Aug 29 2016 2:00 utc | 80

I tend to think the coup attempt in Turkey was real, primarily based on this article.

One thing not being discussed in all this is the SCO and the role it plays/will play in the long game. Iran has observer status and India and Pakistan will see full membership next year. This growing bloc is pivotal to the emerging New Eurasian Century, which is seemingly coming to fruition under the radar.

Iran's role is key in this and will not be thrown under the bus. By extension, this means Syria, too. Notice that China is making its interest more public ......

Regarding Putin's actions/lack of actions in Donbas, the easy and overlooked explanation is that one of the SCO's founding principles is non-support of separatism. Putin has done all he can in Donbas given this restriction. Crimea was declared a 'special case' by the SCO.

The long game is the New Eurasion Century developing under the aegis of the SCO. The intrigues in Syria are maddening, but there is a method at work there if one sees the forest and not just the trees.

Posted by: woogs | Aug 29 2016 2:00 utc | 81

@63 - P Walker:

But you don't dispute that Putin could've instantly ended the war in Ukraine if he had recognized the eastern regions decision - as he did in Crimea....

As you say, the only reason Putin recognized Crimea is because he simply could not afford to surrender Russia's only warm water naval base to Washington. But I'm not sure how Lugansk or Donetsk are any "counter" to the "Western Banderaistas" - Kiev enjoys military supremacy - the rebels have no air force and are now incapable of launching any offensives. They are walking dead men and are not a "counter" to anything, certainly not NATO designs.

Kiev - regardless of the status of the easterns republics - and Georgia will never meet the standards necessary to formally join NATO. They don't need to. They are already de facto members.

Every time Putin capitulates, Washington regards it as another sign of Russia's weakness, and takes it as a green light to aggress further. Putin's inaction has placed Russia at its worst strategic position since WWII. Before 2011, Washington had no presence in Syria; now it occupies the air, the sea, the ground, and has established at least two undeclared military bases in the country. Prior to 2014, Ukraine was allied with Russia, and NATO had no leverage over it; now the FBI & CIA openly operate in the country & have installed the most pro-US, anti-Russian government in Ukraine's modern history (oh, and 1000s of NATO troops stage drills there). No friend, it's Putin, not Washington, who's digging the holes.

Posted by: Mark | Aug 29 2016 2:19 utc | 82

@Mark 82

Putin has placed Russia in its worst strategic position since WW2?

That's debatable. Even Zbigniev Brzezinski has acknowledged that the era of US global dominance is at an end.

That has happened largely due to the US's missteps in dealing with Putin and the resultant Russia/China alliance (though they don't call it that).

Posted by: woogs | Aug 29 2016 2:31 utc | 83

@82. Donbass had no air force, had no army, but yet miners, shop keepers, farmers and teachers formed a militia and put a whooping on the Kiev mercenaries. Since then, Donbass has improved, they now have an army.

Meanwhile, Kiev forces are in disarray. Donbass people are becoming more united and the rest of Ukraine people are becoming more fragmented. You know, just as the people of the US, England, heck, the whole western world is becoming.

btw. It is noteworthy that the largest Ukraine diaspora in history happened in the last 2 years. Where did the dispossessed go? To Russia.

Posted by: Donny | Aug 29 2016 2:41 utc | 84

@74 Very true.

Posted by: Lozion | Aug 29 2016 2:44 utc | 85

@83 - woogs:

For about as long as I can remember, USA has been screaming & fear-mongering about its imminent demise. In 1960 JFK insisted that "American strength relative to that of the Soviet Union has been slipping." In the 70s they assured us that Japan was going to overtake USA as the economic center of the world. Now these dire warnings are a yearly event:

2010: American Power on Decline?

2011: American Decline: This Time It's For Real

2012: The Decline of the West: Why America Must Prepare for the End of Dominance

2013: The Water's Edge: Is America’s Global Influence in Decline?

2014: The Tragic Decline of American Foreign Policy

2015: US Clout is Declining Internationally

2016: Obama Visit Exposes the Full Extent of US Decline

And so it goes; USA is always just on the brink of a collapse that never seems to arrive.

Posted by: Mark | Aug 29 2016 3:25 utc | 86

How big does the Turkish no-fly zone have to get before Russian forces are cut off from resupply via the caspian air route?

Posted by: wwinsti | Aug 29 2016 3:26 utc | 87

woogs @81:

I tend to think the coup attempt was real ...
I think it was real too. And that the CIA had a part. But I think it is very possible that instead of supporting the coup planners, the CIA was working with MIT to set them up.

I don't know for sure. I simply see too much of a push from media / "pundits" of the narrative that CIA-Gulen were behind the coup. They are joined by a chorus of pro-Putin/pro-Russian cheerleaders that harp on any anti-West/anti-US development. People who were highly critical of Erdogan before the coup are thrilled that he may 'pivot' to the Russian side.

Haven't we seen too much game playing to take anything at face value:

>> 2013 Sarin attack? No, set up for US bombing.

>> US anti-ISIS efforts? They didn't bomb their oil trucks and a $500 million program to train anti-ISIS fighters actually trained less than a hundred while hundreds of others "dropped out" to fight Assad.

>> White Helmets humanitarian organization? No, a front for propaganda.

>> And more!

And Wm Engdahl (from your link) also falls short in critical thinking. He cites post-"coup" Turkish media - which would be almost totally controlled by Erdogan! - as a reliable source. And it never occurs to him that ex-CIA people in Turkey on July 15 may have been there to help Erdogan (a NATO ally of many years) instead of the coup plotters.

Engdahl makes ominous references to Gulen's school network saying:

These sources estimate that perhaps over 50% of the senior ranks of the Turkish army was occupied by Gülenist generals before July 15.
But if the Gulen network is so extensive and so determined to take over Turkey (with CIA support) then why did the coup fail so quickly?

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 29 2016 3:41 utc | 88

Dabiq, 36 to 39 minutes northwest from Al-Bab, with no traffic.

New issue of the Islamic State’s magazine: “Dābiq #15″

Posted by: alfa alfalfa | Aug 29 2016 3:54 utc | 89

Agreed with 2, 71, and 73 - wayyyy too early to tell what is really going on (i.e., if it is too early to tell ab the French revolution, it is certainly too early to tell ab Syria). Mark S. - who I do listen to at times - is making a rather facile analysis. Can one really believe that after investing so much, Russia would just walk away.... really? Makes no sense. (Plus, he forgets China now in Syria.)
@58 - find Mr. Bhadrakumar a most astute observer... he should get much more recognition.

Posted by: GoraDiva | Aug 29 2016 4:18 utc | 90

Some seem to believe that Turkey is clearing out ISIS. And that Erdogan has the tacit approval of Russia-Syria-Iran to do so. Could Turkey's incursion be preliminary to securing the Turkish-Syrian border?

Maybe. But what of reports of ISIS melting away? Where might the ISIS fighters be going? To Aleppo?!?!

And what of the Turkish occupation? Does it become a "safe-haven"? Does that "safe-haven" get a US no-fly-zone? When might Turkey hand it over to Syria? Was this area ceded to Turkey in exchange for peace and cooperation with R+6?

And how does Erdogan's meeting with Biden factor into all of this? Biden flew Ankara so that Erdogan could humiliate him (at the airport) and demand his acceptance of the 'new reality' (which necessarily meant betraying the Kurds)?

My head is spinning. If true (I am doubtful) it is so bizarre.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 29 2016 4:35 utc | 91

A lot of analysis round and about based on the false assumption that Erdogan is a delusional eratic madman.
He seems to be anything but. Ruthless, ambitious, nobodies bitch, a political survivor so far.
What's his vision he is aiming towards? Look to his support base to see where Erdogan is going.

US has no leverage on Erdogan. He can bring out the people to prevent a US backed military coup, so no chance of a colour revolution there.
Erdogan has total leverage over the US as Turkey is essential to NATO.
Erdogan and Russia? Russian policy can affect the Turkish economy so Russia has some leverage over Erdogan. Erdogan can take control of and keep under control the various terrorist organisation and militias that infest Syria so some wheeling and dealing and horse trading happening there.
A lot of good time girls floating around different comment sections that only want to back a winner and think now think Putin is a loser.
Putin ani't the self appointed world police. He's a pragmatic geo-politician doing the possible.

Posted by: Peter AU | Aug 29 2016 4:54 utc | 92

What a totally uninformed and biased article , so amateurish and full of bias.. and when the resident trolls agreed with the posts (mark , paul , tom and the rest of WayOutWest's fake accounts) , one's alarm bell should be ringing instantly..

having different opinion on a post is ok , but having a biased analysis on a guest post ? that just too bad.. thank gudness for posters who instantly question this analysis..

Posted by: milomilo | Aug 29 2016 4:59 utc | 93

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 29, 2016 12:35:59 AM | 91

ISIS is not an ethnicity but a business model including corporate identity. A client may pay them to clear an area from non fundamentalist sunnis and hold it. If the client stops paying "they melt away". In the case of Turkey the task they used to outsource they have taken over themselves now.

The difference is that Turkey is a state actor bound by treaties that can be made responsible for their actions.

If/when the Syrian army is able to secure the border Turkey will be under pressure to withdraw. Russia and Iran are Turkey's neighbours and they can enforce that if they want to.

To make the Qatar/Turkey pipeline dream viable Turkey would need peace with the PKK. An Iraqi Kurdish agreement would also be necessary.

Turkey will remain dependent on Russian gas for quite some time. PKK/YPG will continue to have interested sponsors (they are a business model with a corporate identity, too). It is possible that Turkey has been persuaded to stop outsourcing national interest to ISIS.

Posted by: somebody | Aug 29 2016 5:09 utc | 94

Posted by: somebody | Aug 29, 2016 1:09:12 AM | 94

add - I think Turkey was persuaded to stop using ISIS by someone using ISIS for attacks in Turkey.

Posted by: somebody | Aug 29 2016 5:11 utc | 95

Al Arabya telling Turkey what its interest is - has ISIS been infiltrated - from July :-))

Posted by: somebody | Aug 29 2016 5:57 utc | 96

Posted by: MI | Aug 28, 2016 6:14:18 PM | 58

I suspect that MKB is becoming a victim of his policy of commenting 'regularly' rather than waiting until he's got something to say. It's not believable that China bypassed Russia when making its offer to Assad. Just for starters, if a Chinese leader goes to Damascus to have an upbeat chat with Syrian leaders, there'll be plenty of friendly, upbeat Russians to chat to as well.

China has spoken firmly to the Yankees about their South China Sea delusions and they didn't listen. Phase 2 of that exercise in communication is SuperPowerish Force Projection in places selected for their potential to embarrass the Yankees. MKB knows all that but deliberately(?) tip-toed around it.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Aug 29 2016 5:58 utc | 97


This sounds like an Eyes Only sitrep. You're not going all Snowden on US, are you?

Posted by: chipnik | Aug 29 2016 7:11 utc | 98

We have finally a sober assessment by MS of the reality on the ground although not enough global geopolitical connotations of Russian move explained.

But the reorientation of Russian political attitudes toward the West in Syria has been detected and documented many months ago by "Syrian War Update" (SWU)and just few weeks ago they added:

One cannot understand what’s going on .. without acknowledging Russian blunder or conscious calculated decision in February, 2016 to go with this fake ceasefire, what a kindergartner would easily conclude was aimed, from US side, to arm rebels in new weaponry and increase their ranks.

In any way it would have been called blunder, especially that the ceasefire broke Russian coalition military momentum, [and stopped] a push toward to Turkish border to cut supplies there, as would dictate any sound military strategy, Russian or not, seen as critical for [overall] victory.

That did not happen, Syria did not regain sovereignty of their border, and a critical momentum was lost..

So what this ceasefire was all about I repeatedly ask on this blog? I hesitate to say that but I do not see any Russian reason for it but humanitarian mission of help to besieged Syrians in all the enclaves surrounded, cut off from supplies.

Now the strategic situation is a classical stalemate since strengthen Assad was loaded with new weapons and air force upgraded significantly and trained, but for Russians, I am sorry to say, it looks like a quagmire exactly a result D.C. neocons were counting on.

In May 2016 SWU seriously questioned Russian strategy and allegiance to Assad regime.

The rationale of the "ceasefire" was questioned already in February/March 2016 while most independent blogs praised Russia move.

So I guess it depends who you read true independent blogs like SWU or bias once that refuse to acknowledge the facts of the ground if they do not fit their underlying political agendas.

but the fact is that Russian intervention failed as bringer of peace, if it was their original intent.

Posted by: Kalen | Aug 29 2016 8:36 utc | 99

@66 Stevens

As i suspected you have no answer to the points I raised which crush your grand Eurasian alliance narrative.

Don't worry though i will address your other 2 points which seem to cause you much confusion:

[I]Turkey, Russia, Iran, and Syria are all having high level diplomatic activity where previously there was none. That is a FACT.[/I]

Russia and USA have a high level diplomatic activity as well. What you describe is actually a prove for the worsening of the situation. Now Russia will not only have to find a compromise with the USA but with Turkey as well. This does not benefit Russia or Syria at all.

[I]Turkey is publicly accusing the United States of backing or creating a coup. That is a FACT.[/I]

Yes and ? Of course the USA was behind the coup. There is no question about it. However the US instigated coup failed miserably, forcing the USA to reconsider Turkey's wish to invade Syria. Seeing the impossibility to oust Erdogan from his throne now, the US caved in and gave Turkey the green light to invade.

Posted by: redrooster | Aug 29 2016 8:55 utc | 100

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