Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 28, 2016

Syria - Peace Talk Rumors And Parameters

Since February 2016 Russia had negotiated with the U.S. about a peace deal on Syria. The main agreed upon point was to fight together against the Takfiris, mainly ISIS and al-Qaeda. The U.S. in turn promised to separate the "moderate rebels" it supported from their close al-Qaeda ally. But that promise was never fulfilled. The U.S. delayed and delayed and enabled new attacks by al-Qaeda and U.S. proxy forces on Aleppo and elsewhere. It also instigated Kurdish YPG forces to attack the Syrian government in Hasakah. This was the strategic overreach that doomed the Kurds to a minor role in any upcoming solution.

Russia finally had enough and pulled the plug on further negotiations with the U.S. The Syrian forces and their allies besieged Aleppo and liberated it. At the same time Turkey was allowed to invade Syria in the north eastern Aleppo governate to prevent a connection of Kurdish areas in the north-east and north-west of Syria. The probably U.S. instigated putsch attempt against the Turkish government contributed to this change of alliances. Turkey decided to work with Russia and Iran to end the Syrian crisis (and to get as much out of it as possible.)

Before Christmas Erdogan met with Putin followed by a meeting of the Russian, Turkish and Iranian foreign and defense ministers. They decided to initiate peace talks:

Turkey said it will facilitate contacts between Syria’s government and opposition groups in preparation for peace talks organized together with Russia and Iran that aim to reach a nationwide cease-fire as the first step to ending an almost six-year civil war.
Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed in Moscow last week to seek a truce in Syria and hold peace talks in the Kazakh capital, Astana, in a joint approach that sidelines the U.S.

Turkey today leaked further details of the talks (again providing that it is not trustworthy):

Citing anonymous sources, reports said that the two sides have reached agreement on a draft plan for the implementation of a nationwide ceasefire in Syria, with the aim to extend the ceasefire deal in Aleppo throughout the country.
The sources said that Turkey and Russia will aim to ensure that the ceasefire takes effect starting Wednesday night. Later on, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that the deal could be reached at any moment soon and reiterated that Turkey is in favor of a political solution.
Terrorist organizations will be excluded from the ceasefire, the sources added.

Among lots of rumors, leaked by interested sides, the parameters that evolve seem to be the following:

  • a ceasefire will be called (and broken here and there) starting tomorrow night;
  • Turkey will guarantee for the "moderate rebels" it controls while Russia will guarantee for the Syrian government forces and their allies;
  • al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Kurdish YPG and the areas in which these groups are dominant are excluded from the ceasefire;
  • Ahrar al Sham, which is internally split about joining al-Qaeda, will have to decide its position;
  • all parties of the deal commit to fight the above terrorists (or at least not to hinder others from doing it);
  • talks, including the above groups, will begin in Astana in mid January;

There are several points that are unclear and left to further negotiations:

  • Turkey (officially) still wants Assad to go while Syria and Iran insist that he stays, Russia does not care about this point;
  • Syria insists that "rebel" held areas around Damascus are not included in the deal and will continue to clean them up; "moderate rebels" insist that the areas must be included;
  • Turkey will want future "influence" zones in Syria that other will no want to give to it.

Neither the Syrian government nor Iran has yet officially agreed to the outlined deal. Some "moderate rebel" groups agreed to it while others (Ahrar) claim they have not yet been asked. Russia says the deal is still not sealed and needs more work.

While the deal is unfinished there is already some movement on the ground that shows that it is likely real:

  • ten "moderate rebel" groups in north-Syria (without Ahrar al-Sham) have started negotiations to unite to present a common position;
  • Kurdish YPG forces stationed in the Aleppo city neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsoud began leaving the city and are heading to the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in north-wast Syria;
  • Ahrar al Sham has attacked and detained forces of certain "moderate rebel" groups that helped Turkey in its invasion against Kurds and ISIS in the eastern Aleppo governate.

The talks and ceasefires will be on and off throughout the next months. All parties will try to gain the maximum for their side. At times the negotiations will take place on the battle field. But unlike the U.S. which would not deliver on its promises but kept supporting every "rebel" offense, Turkey can and likely will likely deliver. It has no where else to go. It also has the power to close its borders and to deny its "rebels" as well as al-Qaeda the resupplies needed for continued fighting.

Syria and its allies are in a military superior position and will have to keep on the pressure, especially on the al-Qaeda controlled Idleb region, to press the other parties to stick to a deal.

The real significance of the deal is that it is excluding the U.S. and EU from these talks. That has not happened on a Middle East issue for a long time. The U.S. has overreached with Secretary of State Kerry promising this and that but never delivering on his words. The U.S. lost the game. The Obama administration is miffed and will certainly try to throw in some spoilers and to make it as difficult as possible for the upcoming Trump administration to change course.

It is still a long way to peace in Syria but the perspective is now more promising than it has been for a long time.

Posted by b on December 28, 2016 at 16:07 UTC | Permalink


I want to see how will Assad, Erdogan and Putin deal with the ongoing offensive in Raqqah...

Posted by: Tex | Dec 28 2016 16:15 utc | 1

And in return, the Russian embassy is shelled.

Posted by: sejomoje | Dec 28 2016 16:23 utc | 2

the most glaring development is that the US has been excluded.....sidelined....ignored....rebuked and placed facing the corner of their own creations.....the world is seeing the obvious demise/irrelevance of a nation that has based its existence on is a nation that has allowed itself to be infiltrated....usurped....occupied and used by other outside forces....and is now dying itself from that intrusion/infection.....and ultimately has only itself to blame....!!!!

Posted by: mhouston | Dec 28 2016 16:44 utc | 3

al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Kurdish YPG and the areas in which these groups are dominant are excluded from the ceasefire;

What about the Kurkdish YPG heading to Raqqa backed by the US? Are they considered a target?

Posted by: Jean | Dec 28 2016 16:52 utc | 4

I see the Syria quagmire as just one component of the real struggle between the western globalists and the national independentists -- the NeoZioWahhabists and the SCO alliance respectively. I think everything about these struggles is about to change, presumably for the better, when Trump comes in. Unfortunately Trump is an extreme authoritarian by nature, so domestic policy will likely become very harsh. I bet the changes Trump will bring will stun a lot of people.

Posted by: blues | Dec 28 2016 17:02 utc | 5

Its a bad idea, and I'm pretty sure Iran and Assad think the same way, they might be forced by Russia to go along though. Remember Russia-US ceasefire deal and how badly it backfired? Everyone with more than two brains cells knew it would only be used to stop SAA attack, regroup the terrorists and resupply them.

Iran was very vocal about it, and they were 100% right. If allies continued attacking instead of Russia playing ceasefires, they would control greater parts of Syria and avoided a lot of additional blood they had to spill because of Russia-US games.

Now US is replaced by Turkey, which holds more leverage over terrorists, but lets not make mistake here - most of the terrorists wont give up fighting, and Erdogan is hardly the most reliable ally, he can backstab at any moment.

Saying "terrorists are excluded from the deal" doesnt work either, they all are terrorists, regardless of "good" or "bad" variety. Al Qaeda will do their 100th renaming and say they are "moderates" and should be excluded from attacks.

Whats the end game anyway? Under the deal terrorists neither give up weapons or territory, instead get regional autonomy. There is no way in hell Syria will agree to that. Russia may not care much about it, but Syria/Iran/Iraq/Lebanon will mind a whole lot.

Posted by: Harry | Dec 28 2016 17:10 utc | 6

I'm through being angry at Russia for brokering yet another ceasefire.
When you know the militants are going to violate the agreement to shreds, you're free to compromise away anything and everything.

Posted by: Wwinsti | Dec 28 2016 17:21 utc | 7

Donald Trump has promised Bibi, "Hold On, I'm Comin'!!", and you can bet Operation East Ukraine Liberation, not Syria, is what he's talking about. Palestine is a sideshow at this point, they've dangled the shiney object of Syria.

Interesting read on the whole sorry backstory of the ZFed, ZW1 and ZW2, the creation of IL, it's all MIC now, and they're gonna loot America down to its flipflops to feed the gaping maw of Gog Magog.

23 more days! It's a comin'!! I grew up in the Heartland, and can tell you exactly what's next. Talking in tongues! Golden calves!! Dancing with rattlesnakes, and hot slices of pizza!!! The Hagee Revival Hour!!

All aboard!

Posted by: chipnik | Dec 28 2016 17:30 utc | 8

thanks b.. it is a tricky road fraught with a lot of players in the background intent on destroying syria.. i am sure russia would like to freeze the situation, however turkey is in a difficult spot.. ? turkey went along with the western/saudi head-chopper approach and now they are going to take it back realizing how they have turned there own country into a nightmare? what kind of deal does turkey do with saudi arabia, qatar, israel and the west?

in my view erdogan has to go and has to be replaced with someone more clear in the head.. until this happens, i think he will continue to be weighed down with his past decisions and the ramifications of these decisions.. it will be hard for turkey to move forward here..

as for Ahrar al-Sham, they have proven just how '''moderate''' they are, so perhaps they can continue to side with the usa in receiving more weapons of destruction to continue on with the wests goal of destroying syria.. i guess that means they have to line up with al qaeda light or something...

peace talk is nice, but i see it as a difficult place to get to here.. if a 'regime change' was put onto saudi arabia, it would take some of the pressure off no doubt.. i guess they haven't chopped off enough heads for the western leaders to gun for this yet..

Posted by: james | Dec 28 2016 17:52 utc | 9

Turkey may have the power to close its borders to the 'rebels'--although this is debatable as their troops have not fared well against Daesh--but I will believe their intent when I see proof they have shut down their support for terrorist groups in Syria. If Russia and Putin can achieve this, Putin will have achieved a new high water mark for statesmanship.

Posted by: WorldBLee | Dec 28 2016 18:03 utc | 10

Every since Iran & Russia got them to close off an escape rout to Raqqa and the liberation of Aleppo, the Obama Admin has been having a hissy fit. WTF did he think? That we couldn't see through the Aleppo BS and PR [].

I still think the OA had something to do with the failed coup in Turkey still

Anywho exceptional analysis - keep it up

Posted by: Rawdawgbuffalo | Dec 28 2016 18:08 utc | 11

@10 Trump and his team have been saying over and over they are going to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and allow Israel to annex the Westbank. Moving the embassy would be the equivalent of telling 1.6 billion Muslims billion your religion is illegitimate so we are taking your holy places away and giving them to the Jews.

As for annexing the West Bank there are only two places in the world that would support that. Israel and Washington. When I say Washington I don't mean the US, I mean the grandstanding politicians on Washington, because polls show the US people even at the height of their support for Israel wouldn't support it.

If Trump moves ahead with with either step of operation "Make Netanyahu great again" every thing else in the Middle East will suddenly look like a side show.

Posted by: BraveNewWorld | Dec 28 2016 18:40 utc | 12

Thanks for the posting b. I guess I would not call the process "peace" talks but negotiated multilateral instead of unilateral movements in the ongoing geopolitical war.

I agree with BraveNewWorld about the next potential focus of the geopolitical war....Trump's "rubber meets the road" actions towards Israel. If he allows Israel to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and annex the Westbank, I think the reaction from the armed alt-right as well as the un-brainwashed rest will be his undoing......personally, I am glad to see this come to a head.

The reaction to the above by countries other than the US will maybe also be significant and hopefully lead to said countries not continuing to fund the US war positions by buying US Treasuries......something I continue to hope to see happen.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 28 2016 19:12 utc | 13

Oh, not another of those idiotic "ceasefires" again! Somehow the Russians always spoil the hard fought victory. Here and in the Donbass as well. Have anyone in his right mind thought about ceasefire now, when there is progress in every front?

Posted by: nyolci | Dec 28 2016 19:50 utc | 14

In other news from lowlives, Charlie Hedbo posted a caricature about TU154 crash, these animals are rejoicing like anything. Also signed "The only bad news, Putin wasnt in it."

I'm wondering where is caricature about their colleagues in 2015 after jihadi visit? Such "humour" is right in their taste.

Posted by: Harry | Dec 28 2016 20:08 utc | 15

@16 nyolci... to you and others who continue to bellyache over russias ongoing desire for ceasefires.. i guess russia is really screwing up here as they keep on moving 2 steps forward and 1 backward? some of us here think their approach and strategy is brilliant.. those who continue to complain about it, will never get it.. welcome to a non black and white world, not that everyone is ready for that..

Posted by: james | Dec 28 2016 20:10 utc | 16

@17 harry.. that is the kind of shit the western leaders probably still embrace with the 'we are all charlie hedbo' bullshite.. same crowd of ignoramus's who will never figure it out while using every opportunity for a propaganda op..

Posted by: james | Dec 28 2016 20:12 utc | 17

#16 There might have been progress on every front but you should know that this "progress" means the death of many SAA front line troops. Those Jihadists that have dug in the cities of Syria are very difficult to kill. In fact, the attacking troops will suffer about three times the number of casualties as the defending troops in that kind of warfare. I will not second guess the Syrian military and their Russian-Iranian backers when they conclude that it would be less expensive in the deaths of Syrian soldiers that they negotiate these cease fires. Do notice that these negotiated cease fires mean that those well dug in defenders are giving up their carefully prepared positions. Those Jihadists are allowed to leave into the country side where they are much easier to kill.

If you haven't noticed they are allowed to escape to the Idlib province which is controlled by Al Nusra. Al Nusra is excluded from the cease fire. The war will continue in those areas. Also it should be noted that Syrian born rebels (i.e. Muslim Brotherhood followers as they were known in 2011) are being provided amnesties. After 5 years of continuous combat I think it is reasonable to guess that these troops should be burned out by now and willing to return to civilian life.

In short what is happening now with this latest ceasefire is that those Syrian Muslim Brotherhood inspired rebels are being allowed to return to civilian life. The foreign troops (Chechen, Pakistanis, European, Uighers, etc) amoung the Jihadists are being isolated into easily accessible killing fields.

I am not willing to second guess the factors that go into the thinking of the Syrian government and their Russian and Iranian supporters. What I am sure of is that they have a much better understanding of what is happening on the ground than either you or myself have.

Posted by: ToivoS | Dec 28 2016 20:19 utc | 18

Tu-154 crashed as a result of NATO's covert operation? - PravdaReport

...If this was a terrorist attack, it comes well into line with the killing of Russian Ambassador to Turkey. It also matches John Kirby's remarks, who said that Russia would lose more planes if it was not going to stop operations in Syria.

Noteworthy, disabled transponders and communication systems can be explained as follows. French reconnaissance ship Dupuy de Lome had entered the Black Sea on the eve of the tragedy. The ship can send a strong impulse to deactivate all electronic equipment on board the aircraft. Israel resorts to this practice against Russian airplanes in Syria. It was reported that the bodies of the victims of the Tu-154 crash were wearing life jackets. Therefore, the crew had time to warn the passengers, but not the flight control officers. In this is the case, then this is a war against NATO, rather than an act of terrorism...

Posted by: ProPeace | Dec 28 2016 20:24 utc | 19

Posted by: chipnik | Dec 28, 2016 12:30:45 PM | 10

Your last sentence nails it and LOL.

I believe Russia will support Assad until Assad decides to leave office in the event of an election. They won't want a new player in the position.

Posted by: jo6pac | Dec 28 2016 20:31 utc | 20

Why would Russia agree to or not care about any deal that would remove Assad? Especially when they're winning the war. A new leader in that country could potentially close the Russian bases there and allow the creeps in Saudi Arabia to run that pipeline they so desperately want to run through Syria. Iran cant possibly be ok with that. You also have an incoming administration in the US that does not want to be bothered with playing any more games in the Middle East. The US controls NATO so now Russia and Syria will have a giant weight off their backs. Seems like a silly time to give any ground on a ceasefire deal.

I understand the need for these ceasefires as it dislodges these terrorists out of certain pockets near Damascus and in Aleppo and funnels the hardcore jihadists into Idlib where theyre bombed by Russia. I just think that if theyre negotiating from a position of strength that the "remove Assad" provision should be off the table at this stage in the game

Posted by: Danny801 | Dec 28 2016 20:53 utc | 22

If things develop along the lines b is talking about I will start loosing respect to Putin.

Read any historical book, Vlad, especially about Russo-Turkish relations to learn that anyway but especially with Erdogan words, promises are worthless. Talking about peace in Syria with a war criminal and aggressor against sovereign state is a joke. Russian must know that only when Erdogan backs out peace can be achieved.
So why doesn't he? US EU MONEY IS TOO GOOD.

Only if Erdogan was going to declare Turks out of NATO tomorrow would I consider such a arrangement worthwhile, nothing less.

Turks just acting as a US proxy and will be stalling the talks like US WHILE arming them.

US neocons are not done yet so their stooge from Ankara.

If Trump was for real he would have to dismantle NATO to bring any significant geopolitical change.
Chances of that's? Zero.

Posted by: Kalen | Dec 28 2016 21:14 utc | 23

@23 jo6pac - thanks for the link. Beautiful writing from Ziad Fadel and a tour de force analysis of the Syrian situation and 2017 horizon.

Posted by: Grieved | Dec 28 2016 21:32 utc | 24

b, 'Turkey can and likely will likely deliver. It has no where else to go. It also has the power to close its borders and to deny its "rebels" as well as al-Qaeda the resupplies needed for continued fighting.'

yes, it has nowhere else to go ... but to dissemble to russia and iran, once again. the border will never close. syria is not even consulted by these wheelers and dealers, and continues to be destroyed. the rift between what russia wants and what the people actually on the scene want, the people without the option of picking up and going home, is becoming too obvious to continue to ignore.

this war will never end as long as qatar, saudi arabia, the gcc can keep it going while remaining out of harm's way themselves. turkey is beginning to feel the repercussions of its actions itself.

Posted by: jfl | Dec 28 2016 21:47 utc | 25

Harry@17 I agree, this Charley Hebdo magazine is produced by subhumans.

Posted by: harrylaw | Dec 28 2016 21:56 utc | 26

Charlie even publishes a German version now. Pretty ugly. Really looks like a far-right newspaper

Posted by: Mina | Dec 28 2016 22:08 utc | 27

Re: Posted by: Harry | Dec 28, 2016 12:10:16 PM | 7

Harry - you act like a deal between Russia & Turkey would be a bad idea! Why ever would you say that?

It seems like you seem to have a thing against Turkey. Why wouldn't these countries want to do a deal with Turkey, I mean it's almost like you think they shouldn't trust the word of Turkey or indeed Erdogan!

I mean, afterall, Russia has signed all those great deals with Turkey to do with pipelines. Turkey would never do anything, anything, to put those deals in jeopardy would they? I mean, they wouldn't do anything again after the last time they put those deals in jeopardy.......

Why wouldn't one try and get a cheap ceasefire deal that saves bloodshed on the ground? The West will recognise they lost and toodle-oo of home with their tail between their legs because that is what they should do.

Sounds like a great plan!

Posted by: Julian | Dec 28 2016 22:08 utc | 28

@23 jo6, 'With Donald Trump coming into office on January 20, 2017, all sides, including the terrorists expect a sea change in Washington’s policies toward the Syrian administration, Alqaeda, Saudi Arabia and NATO.'

i just don't see it. i will believe it when i do see it. Ziad Fadel's vision seems often filtered by his hatred for the people destroying syria. understandable, of course, but not the most reliable source of information, seems to me.

Posted by: jfl | Dec 28 2016 22:10 utc | 29

Very interesting developments, but still doesn't feel right. It's the fudged wording on who will / won't fight which terrorists that gives the game away, in my opinion.
Turkey is clearly still being allowed to punch above its weight in these negotiations and maybe this is just the next step in the terrorist 'filtration' process. Are we to anticipate yet more spats between DAESH and Turkey/ Turkish backed militias? If so, then there is sweet irony in their killing each other off while the Kurds simply stand their ground. And if Turkey's focus returns to the Kurds, will Turkey be willing to really stand against US and RF backed Kurds in all out conflict? Is the AKP propaganda actually intended to prepare Turks for more conflict?
Either way Turkey's hand needs yet further weakening, and this is happening on several fronts, not just by being pushed further onto the frontline of the military one. With this in mind it is difficult to consider that the US and EU are actually excluded ... at least not from the bigger, longer-term picture.

Posted by: AtaBrit | Dec 28 2016 22:28 utc | 30

The Russians have well calculated that during the US transition and with the EU hardly recovering from Brexit and from the terrorists acts, it was very possible to push for the start of a settlement in Syria without having these two powers intervening and spoiling it.
As long as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Kurds call for toppling the Syrian government, they will also be excluded from the settlement.
The window is short, two or three months max.
Yet even when Trump team will be in board, it is doubtful that it will make drastic actions opposing Russia. The EU may move with its usual indictment for war crimes and chemical weapons at the UNSC but it is more or less paralyzed.
Russia, Iran, Turkey and Syria have 3 months at the most to make a deal on the future of Syria and the region.

Posted by: virgile | Dec 28 2016 23:29 utc | 31

Re: Posted by: james | Dec 28, 2016 3:10:51 PM | 18

I've often read that doing ceasefires with the US is part of a larger process to discredit the trustfulness of the US.

Is that a reason for the continual ceasefires with the US?

If that is so, what is the point of useless ceasefires with Turkey?

Is it to expose Turkish duplicity to the wider world and bring international opprobrium upon Erdogan's head?

I've got news for you. No one in the wider world cares that much what Turkey isvdoing, and neither does Erdogan give two hoots what the international press says about him. He will carry on regardless.

So, tell me again, what is the point of signing useless ceasefire deals with that most trustworthy character Mr. Erdogan?

Posted by: Julian | Dec 28 2016 23:40 utc | 32

@34 julian... keeping up the appearance of diplomacy is a part of it.. i think there is a lot of fluidity in the situation with a lot of potential variables.. i still believe that russia is playing this game the right way, not that it can't go wrong.. i do believe they see what we see here and probably a whole lot more.. i agree with you on your 'i've got news for you...' rant. i don't see these ceasefires as useless, so we differ in that regard.. i think this is a necessary part of the long game..

Posted by: james | Dec 28 2016 23:47 utc | 33

Danny801@24 said "You also have an incoming administration in the US that does not want to be bothered with playing any more games in the Middle East."

Have to admit, that would be nice, but I just don't see it. Changing the course of empire isn't up to Trump, It'll be up to the folks that OWN him. Just like every other POTUS.

Posted by: ben | Dec 29 2016 0:10 utc | 34

Interesting how Russia and Turkey shutout Iran out of the talks. RT has the deal upfront and PressTV is pretending it never happened. Someone's not happy. Russia probably has a few other surprises for Iran in the future.

This entire business is about China.

Posted by: nobody | Dec 29 2016 0:15 utc | 35

Re: Posted by: AtaBrit | Dec 28, 2016 5:28:12 PM | 32

You bring up a fair point and are right in a sense - Turkey has repeatedly flagged that their next target after al-Bab is Manbij - currently held by the Kurds on the West Bank.

After that it will be either Afrin or Raqqa - which will definitely depend on several external factors.

Given their stated aims it seems certain the Turks & Kurds will be in full battle mode at some point in 2017.

And what then does Trump do? Very interesting question.

Posted by: Julian | Dec 29 2016 0:23 utc | 36

Re: Posted by: nobody | Dec 28, 2016 7:15:04 PM | 37

Are you suggesting Russia will throw Iran to the NeoCon wolves when the Trump Administration comes calling to therefore weaken China and in turn increase Chinese dependence on Russia for the Russian natural resources?

Seems like a dangerous way to play it that plays right into the hands of the Empire and drives a huge wedge between China & Russia.

Surely the Russians wouldn't countenance thinking along such a stupid line?

Posted by: Julian | Dec 29 2016 0:33 utc | 37

@ Julian who wrote about commenter nobody writing "This entire business is about China."

I agree with nobody. Trump wants to drive a wedge between Russia and China. I don't think that is going to happen and certainly hope it doesn't.

I agree with comments that are noting that there are lots of countries, strategies and goals at play here and now. We are living on the cusp of a major geopolitical realignment....and hoping it comes out in humanities favor.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 29 2016 1:08 utc | 38

So what if Trump comes into office and says we're gonna fight terrorism just like I told Putin. Then he okays whatever outlay of American power is needed to take Raqqa. Wouldn't be much if he decided to quit fucking around with proxies and sent in the Marines.

Then maybe he stays there. The Shia Crescent is severed. Israel is ecstatic. Hezbollah's supply lines have been cut. Maybe the Qatar pipeline goes ahead. I guess what I'm saying is there's sure lots of armchair generals crowing from the rooftops that the US is snookered. The empire of chaos, amerikka, is fucked, their evilness has come back to bite their ass. Oh puleeze, they are simply in a lame duck period and will do whatever the fuck they want when they get back up to speed.

Posted by: peter | Dec 29 2016 1:11 utc | 39

Julian 34 "So, tell me again, what is the point of signing useless ceasefire deals with that most trustworthy character Mr. Erdogan?"

so tell me why jihadi resistance in Aleppo collapsed so fast?
Knee jerkers... you lot have to learn chess.

Posted by: Peter AU | Dec 29 2016 1:14 utc | 40

@20 ToivoS
"There might have been progress on every front but you should know that this "progress" means the death of many SAA front line troops." These ceasefires didn't bring any progress. The Aleppo pocket almost completely collapsed and the militants saw the end of the game when they finally agreed to evacuate, after a completely useless lull that took a month. All the other ceasefires were wasting of time and _life_.

"Al Nusra is excluded from the cease fire."
There is a constant playing with the rebranding of various bands. One of the previous "ceasefires" collapsed when the US refused to separate the good terrorists from the bad ones or whatever. Al Nusra doesn't even exist now (at least on paper), it got a different name.

"Also it should be noted that Syrian born rebels"
A lot of people has serious doubts about these guys, whether they exist at all, or if they do, should they be admitted back to society. Anyway, they constitute the minority of the "rebels" and not the _controlling_ minority, and the amnesty has been offered for a long time, so what they need is a bit of pressure to speed up their trains of thoughts about the offer.

"The foreign troops (Chechen, Pakistanis, European, Uighers, etc) amoung the Jihadists are being isolated into easily accessible killing fields."
Are you seriously think that this will result in "easily accessible killing fields"?

"I am not willing to second guess the factors that go into the thinking of the Syrian government and their Russian and Iranian supporters."
This is not the Syrians nor the Iranians. This is a Russian obsession, and actually, the obsession of the Russian _diplomatic_ command. Even the Russian soldiers are fed up with the ceasefires. The Russian diplomatic command wants to make a compromise with the US (the ultimate commander of the "rebels"). They (ie. the Russians) know very well that there's no Syrian "opposition" but various bands of mercenaries and criminals that have been cobbled together by the US and its proxies like KSA and the Turks. All the legitimate opposition has already accepted the amnesties, sometimes years ago (see eg. al-Qusayr). The only native party they have to take seriously is the Kurds. There's a chance that Trump will be the American Gorbachov, ie. the guy who recognizes that the game is over and agrees to a peaceful winding up of the Empire but this chance is low, and if history is meaningful in any way, we can conclude that the US always doubles down.

Posted by: nyolci | Dec 29 2016 1:23 utc | 41

@41 Maybe somebody will remind Trump what happened to the marines in Beirut in 1983. There seems to be no shortage of VBIEDs in the area.

Posted by: dh | Dec 29 2016 1:24 utc | 42

Nobody @37.

No you are wrong. Iran has not been cut out of the solution. Russia and Turkey have some very specific questions to deal with that really do not involve Iran (e.g. the shoot down of their fighter plane and assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey, not to mention the thousands of Chechens fighters that retreated into Turkey after the Russians defeated them during the second Chechen War. And not to mention that support for those Chechen fighters during the first and second Chechen wars was coming from Turkey.) Yes Russia has some very specific questions to ask the Turks before they commit to any agreement. These are questions that really do not concern either the Syrians or the Iranians.

And WTF does China have to do with all of this Of course, once the shooting stops China will become a major player but so far they are not directly involved nor will they be as long as the war continues.

Nobody, perhaps you should change your handle to Nothinkman.

Posted by: ToivoS | Dec 29 2016 1:29 utc | 43

I like the Russian cease fires in Syria. After a few months headchopper resistance collapses faster than my wifes cakes, or as Leith Fadel would say - collapses faster than king Salman's erections.

Posted by: Peter AU | Dec 29 2016 1:30 utc | 44

Peter 41 "Oh puleeze, they are simply in a lame duck period and will do whatever the fuck they want when they get back up to speed."

Wakey wakey. The bear is back.
When push comes to shove, Unca Sam will back down until he is up to date on strategic defence and offence. ie ABN and ICBM. The bear ain't bluffing.

Posted by: Peter AU | Dec 29 2016 1:56 utc | 45

Fix the link for Obama is miffed. Doesn't work.

Posted by: Trfg | Dec 29 2016 2:33 utc | 46

On what China has to do with all of this:
"Bishkek Supports Iran's Full Membership In Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Dec 23, 2016"

The most obvious response for China to the Taiwan issue would be to bring Iran into the SCO. This would be part of China's Central Asia strategy (oil & gas pipelines). India also wants a gas deal with Iran, but this would require cooperation with Pakistan (the IPI pipeline, which the US opposes).

The other big gas producer in the Middle East is Qatar. Their plans to run a pipeline to the Mediterranean seem completely dead (Assad rejected this in 2009, and instead went with a 2010 deal with Russia's Gazprom and Iran for their pipeline; curoious how the civil war then began in 2011. Couldn't be related, could it?). Exxonmobil is the Qatari partner on their gas production, but Britain is also closely entangled. That's all LNG, from Persian Gulf ports, though.

The other big gas and oil issue is ExxonMobil and their deals with the Kurds that bypassed Baghdad; if XOM's Rex Tillerson becomes Secretary of State we can expect those deals to continue. Expect that kicking ISIS out of Mosul and Iraq will then become a Trump priority.

The best "end game" for the region would then look like Iran and Syria and the Kurds in some kind of peaceful cooperation on one hand, with the Saudis, Qataris and Israel facing off against them, but no more covert regime change efforts and destabilization programs. It might end up looking more like the India - Pakistan standoff in the long run. However, the notion of direct talks between these groups is a long way off - can anyone imagine the Israelis, Saudis and Qataris on one side of a table, and the Iranians and Syrians on the other? It could only happen if both the U.S. and Russia applied seriously diplomatic pressure on all parties to make it happen.

Posted by: nonsensefactory | Dec 29 2016 2:45 utc | 47

awww bugger. Here I am all primed up on home brew, awaiting a response from the knee jerkers, like a virgin awaiting King Salmans erection.

Posted by: Peter AU | Dec 29 2016 3:23 utc | 48

My theory of ceasefires: early this year oil prices (and natural gas prices in Europe that are pegged to oil) reached 30 $/bbl, which would severely damage the budget of RF if it lasted longer. Putin is a bit of a fanatic about balancing the budget and indeed, Russia cannot freely borrow and maintain independence (check Venezuela what happens when the spirit is willing but the budget is weak). In any case, there was a serious attempt to reduce the outlays for Syrian war.

Quiz question number 1: what is heavier, and what is lightest: one ounce of milk, butter and gold? Butter is the lightest, then milk, then gold. Number two: a pound of gold, milk and butter? Butter weights more than gold (its pounds have 16 ounces, and gold's, 12 ounces), and milk is measured with pints, not pounds.

Serious question: what happens to Russian budget if the oil export is cut by 5% and the price rises by 5%, say, from 50 to 52.5? Answer: the tax on oil export is a (hefty) percentage of the price MINUS 25 dollars per barrel. Consequently, tax per barrel would increase 10% and the total tax by roughly 5%. This also tells you that oil at 30 $/barrels gives five times less revenue than at 50. And due to the deal with OPEC, the price actually climbed from 45 to 53.

ON TOP OF THAT, the OPEC deal is even better for Iran. Iran lost a lot of market share in sanction years so it did not want to participate in production cuts, and the eventual compromise was facilitated by Russia and Kazakhstan joining. The bottom line is that Russia AND Iran have more money, and fresh reasons to like each other -- that always helps, as there are always some fresh or medium fresh to be weary of each other.

Given that, I would expect the usual "energetic diplomacy", but on the ground, usual short pauses to improve the logistics, try to split the opponents and, last but not least, show the troops that you actually care whether they live or die. But more Russian and Iranian troops and materiel, no drops like those in the Spring.

One the other side of the "unnamed Gulf" the budget remains solidly in the red where it counts, in KSA. KSA and other Gulfies were throwing their weight around by giving a bundle of billions there, another bundle elsewhere etc. Which is good if you want to buy, say, American Congress, but does not instill any durability of alliances. Egypt (and consequently, Libya) drifted away from the Gulfies, Pakistan was rather aloof from the beginning of Yemen war, and Turkey ...

Figuring what Erdogan will do is Kremlinology, relying on what he actually says allows to conclude nothing or all. But depression in tourism and presumably, slower Gulfie investments at long last managed to depress the economy. Erdogan has to re-assess his Sultanesque war of one against all. That would necessitate rather disagreeable diet (is crow even halal?) so my guess is that at this moment, negotiations are mostly for show, but different sides have reasons to figure out some kind of a deal.

[I will continue in the next post]

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 29 2016 3:29 utc | 49

@ Julian 39; @ psychohistorian 40

Your musings:
Will Trump try to drive a wedge between Russia and China?

I don't think that is going to happen and certainly hope it doesn't.

Have you two read Paul Craig Roberts’ recent post? PCR goes there. Henry Kissinger has been visiting Trump.

What is Henry Kissinger Up To?

The English language Russian news agency, Sputnik, reports that former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is advising US president-elect Donald Trump how to “bring the United States and Russia closer together to offset China’s military buildup.”

If we take this report at face value, it tells us that Kissinger, an old cold warrior, is working to use Trump’s commitment to better relations with Russia in order to separate Russia from its strategic alliance with China.

China’s military buildup is a response to US provocations against China and US claims to the South China Sea as an area of US national interests. China does not intend to attack the US and certainly not Russia.

Kissinger, who was my colleague at the Center for Strategic and International studies for a dozen years, is aware of the pro-American elites inside Russia, and he is at work creating for them a “China threat” that they can use in their effort to lead Russia into the arms of the West. If this effort is successful, Russia’s sovereignty will be eroded exactly as has the sovereignty of every other country allied with the US.[.]

Clearly, the military/security complex and the neoconservatives see Trump and Tillerson as threats, which is why the neoconservatives and the armaments tycoons so strongly opposed Trump and why CIA Director John Brennan made wild and unsupported accusations of Russian interference in the US presidential election.

The lines are drawn. The next test will be whether Trump can obtain Senate confirmation of his choice of Tillerson as Secretary of State.[.]

The neoconservatives are discredited, but they are still a powerful influence on US foreign policy. Until Trump relegates them to the ideological backwaters, Russia and China had best hold on to their strategic alliance. Anyone attempting to break this alliance is a threat to both Russia and China, and to America and to life on earth.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Kissinger, the old fox has a habit of visiting every president. Not for peaceful pursuits. Why is that?

Posted by: likklemore | Dec 29 2016 3:33 utc | 50

Concerning Edogan eating crow: I found a lively discussion on the topic. Most authoritative quotes are against:

the noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wassalam) said, "Five animals are wicked, and will be killed in Haram. Among them one is a snake and another one is a crow". This hadith is narrated by Muslim from Syeda Ayesha (Radiallahu Ta'ala Anha).

Ayesha is the famous favorite wife of the Prophet (P.B.U.H.), so the narration seems super solid (there is always the additional question of the chain of quotes before they were recorded in writing, and general loopholes like being a starving traveller).

But some quotes (ironic?) were in favor: t"he crow Mass'ala is an old and established one, seems curious as to why you would want that information so suddenly?"

Thus Erdogan can either add enough spices to create "an old and established dish", or he can announce that it is actually a plump chicken -- that is what politicians usually do.


But how cordial were the trilateral negotiations? Sceptics focused on two photos. In one, the body guard of the Iranian FM stares keenly at the body guard of the Turkish FM (the killer of Russian ambassador was a former Erdogan body guard). In the other, Iranian FM turns away from his colleagues, laughs and grabs his torso, presumably avoiding a burst of uncontrollable laughter. Allegedly, that happened after the Turkish FM proposed cutting support from "any extremist Shia groups like Hezbollah".

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 29 2016 3:55 utc | 51

"is crow even halal?"

:).... yep. A smiley is non academic but I had to do it.

Posted by: Peter AU | Dec 29 2016 4:15 utc | 52

Why are the Syrian Army and the Russians even considering a cease fire until they have destroyed the back of the takfiris?

Posted by: ab initio | Dec 29 2016 4:23 utc | 53

Some express hopes of seeing the Empire defeated.

I wonder: is the multi-polar world a better world, for us nobodies?

What is striking is that all candidate "poles" are in agreement as far us nobodies are concerned. We are to be under constant surveillance and subjects of some sort of mommy or daddy State with a very capital S. The deal is packaged differently per local sensibilities but it is pretty much the same deal.

In my earlier post I said this is all about China (and in the geopolitical sense, it is.)

But in the civilizational sense, in the context of the story of Humanity, this entire affair is all about us nobodies.

Now I for one am grateful for the "entertainment" of geopolitical games, but I am under no illusion regarding which direction we are heading and what will be the lot of us nobodies when the System is fully and overtly booted up and "geopolitical" shows are no longer necessary.

Something to think about.

Posted by: nobody | Dec 29 2016 4:37 utc | 54

@Julian | 38
Erdogan is still pushing the 'YPG are terrorists' line very hard which leads me to think that he is still trying to convince the US Coalition. Only the other day he was suggesting that the Coalition should help him wipe them out. Sounds like he's looking for allies in his war against the Kurds.
As for future plans, don't forget that what Erdogan says and does are very different - we've seen this with Firat Shieldml: so much hot air and very little action! So, I guess we have to wait and see. But I do not believe tbat the Kurds are doomed. Not in the long run. Any regional solution has to accomodate Kurds or violence will continue.

And I agree on the Iran front. They are in the background but very influential. Russia-Iran-Syria speak more or less with one voice at the moment.

Posted by: AtaBrit | Dec 29 2016 4:40 utc | 55

If I were an evil U.S. neocon psychopath and was pissed off about 'losing' my manufactured war in Syria, I might go full scorched-earth and destroy the place. Kind of a parting shot for those damn defiant Syrians that wouldn't buckle to my imperial hegemonic schemes. Let's see now... I might try something like this (using my fake al Nusra/ISIS stooges for deniability):

Use my stooges to destroy the primary water supply to Damascus, depriving the area's five million or so residents of clean drinking water. There's some filthy city wells that will make up for a fraction of the loss, but any industrial users of water are screwed. Thirsty people drinking filthy water would be a perfect environment for a little biological warfare, because - why not? And the chain of companies that will eventually have to shut down and construction that will stop without a water supply is huge, meaning even more unemployemnt. No water for five days now. Can Damascus last five more weeks? Five more months?

Aleppo uses a lot of water too. It comes from intakes on Lake Assad (Tabqa Reservoir). ISIS now holds Tabqa Dam, with the Kurds/SDF closing in. They're only a few miles from it. That would be the perfect excuse for ISIS (or someone pretending to be ISIS) to either open the dam gates and drain the reservoir, or just blow the dam and empty it quickly. They can always repair the dam and refill the reservoir, so Aleppo could have water again in, oh... say, 2018 or 2019, give or take.

There's also the lesser-known gas plant near the ISIS-held city of Tabqa (near the dam). About half of Syria's power and gas (mostly for Damascus) depends on the Palmyra-area fields and facilities. A good portion of the rest (mostly for Homs and Aleppo) comes from fields and facilities around Tabqa. If ISIS were to lose the Tabqa dam, city and gas fields to the SDF, it would lose a major source of income. I'm thinking they would hardly just walk away from those facilities if threatened with their loss. ISIS (or someone pretending to be ISIS) would have the perfect excuse to blow the gas plant.

Like Tabqa, Palmyra is also a source of income for ISIS. They allow the operation of gas fields in the area for a good bit of protection money from the Syrian government. If they were faced with eviction (and soon will be) and a loss of another major source of income, then what the hell? Blow all the remaining compressor stations and distribution infrastructure around Palmyra. It's not going to hurt ISIS because they're not going to get any gas from the government after they retake the fields and distribution network. No gas from Palmyra, no electricity (gas-fired plants) or heating gas for Damascus. Those five million thirsty Syrians won't like the idea of sitting in the dark without heat this winter.

So while everyone does their hand-wringing about territory, the U.S. may be planning on pulling the plug on all utilities in Syria's population centers. The U.S. is a sore loser. They would rather see a post-apocalyptic Mad Max Syria than admit defeat. Besides, the Clinton foundation's organ- and child-trafficking operations supply lines are drying up. Hillary demands fresh meat - you don't want to see her when she's angry.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Dec 29 2016 5:10 utc | 56

ab initio 55

Show me were there is a ceasefire with the takfiri's. Seem to be talking out your arse. But if you provide a link where there is a ceasefire with AQ and ISIS, then you may have something.

Posted by: Peter AU | Dec 29 2016 5:17 utc | 57

Moscow is also hosting a "Future of Afghanistan" summit (minus Afghanistan) with China and Pakistan. Afghanistan was miffed to have been uninvited, but will participate in the ongoing conferences. I suspect for Iran "discretion is the better part of valor" wrt to ruffling Israel and KSA wrt to some potential Iranian "imperial ambition" ... but also the people of Iraq and Syria are not (I have read at various times) "eager" to become satellites of Iran. Iran might be considered, as well, a stakeholder in Afhganistan's future since they share a border and there were (last I checked) about 2 million (half unofficial) Afghan refugees/migrants living in Iran (testimony to their longstanding ties and Iran's apparent tolerance of destitute Sunnis) (Because it's so hard to document, we will again ignore the treatment of Shiia -- and Sunni guest laborers in KSA/GCC).

I suspect Turkey was included on Syria both "of necessity" but also to flatter Erdogan's ego by presenting him -- once again -- as a partner on the international stage. Apparently the USA was miffed to be excluded also from the Afghanistan conference. The first resolution -- from China, Russia and Pakistan -- was to urge the inclusion of Taliban members as office/position holders ... My guess is they are prepping for Trump's hands-off "isolationism" and the power vacuum that will result if he keeps his word (Good Luck with That). What Trump will/may do wrt Iran is a wild card (logic and reason and past pronouncements seem poor predictors at this point)

In other news, Obama's white house is going to announce their plans for cyberretribution on Russia maybe TOMORRROW -- notably in advance of that January 20th report and Trump's inauguration -- don't need no stinking public airing of evidence ...

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Dec 29 2016 5:24 utc | 58

@ likklemore who ended with:
Kissinger, the old fox has a habit of visiting every president. Not for peaceful pursuits. Why is that?

So, following is the report of Henry meeting with Xi on December 2, 2016 .......he gets around, and not just with presidents...

BEIJING, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping met with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in Beijing Friday, saying China will work closely with the United States at a new starting point to maintain the smooth transition of ties and stable growth.

Xi appreciated Kissinger's contribution to China-U.S. relations over the past years, saying the sustained, healthy and stable growth of China-U.S. ties meets the fundamental interests of the two peoples and has helped with peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large.

U. S. President-elect Donald Trump paid a visit to the 93-year-old strategist after he won the election.

Kissinger told Xi that he believes it is the expectation of the U.S. new administration to facilitate sustained, stable and better growth of U.S.-China relations.

"The development history of China-U.S. ties since the forging of diplomatic ties has proven our common interests far outweigh the differences," Xi said.

In their over one-hour-and-a-half meeting, Xi said the two countries should properly handle their different views and divergences in a constructive manner.

He stressed that China and the United States should have a correct understanding of each other's strategic intentions, abandon the zero-sum mentality, stick to non-confrontation and non-conflict, respect each other and carry out mutually beneficial cooperation, to boost the building of a new type of major country relationship between China and the United States.

Xi called on both countries to maintain close high-level exchanges, maintain stable development of win-win economic and trade ties, expand substantial cooperation in various areas and strengthen coordination on major global and regional issues.

Kissinger, a regular visitor to China, said he hopes to continue efforts in boosting understanding and cooperation between the two countries.

As a trailblazer for China-U.S. ties, Kissinger paid a secret visit to China in 1971 which paved way for the establishment of China-U.S. diplomatic ties in 1979.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 29 2016 5:41 utc | 59

@51/53 Piotr Berman.. good posts. thanks.

@ 58 paveway.. thanks.. your last paragraph about sums it up. i guess it remains to be seen what happens in 2017, but plenty of options here and not all of them pretty and involving peace, or ceasefires..

i mostly see turkey in a pickle.. next to syria, they are in the biggest pickle as i see it.

Posted by: james | Dec 29 2016 7:17 utc | 60

Turkey came up with special wishes for the ceasefire/negotiations, the "rebels" did, Iran did, Syria did ...

Russia just said "enough you fools" and threatens to overturn the chessboard ...

>>> Reuters World @ReutersWorld
BREAKING: Russia may withdraw part of its army from Syria, says defense minister <<<

Hahaha - all parties want Russia to stay but all demanded something special from it. Putin just told them: "Fuck you. Stop squabbling. Do as I say or I am out of here!"

Next: They will all agree to Russia's way forward.

Posted by: b | Dec 29 2016 11:42 utc | 61

The above threat (made earlier as it was published) was enough to get the relevant parties to agree:

Syrian Government, Armed Opposition Reach Ceasefire Agreement - Putin

The Syrian government and armed opposition groups have reached an agreement on a ceasefire on Syrian territory and on readiness to start peace talks, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.

"It was just reported that today, a few hours ago, an event occurred which we have not just been waiting for, for a long time, but which we've worked hard to bring about. Three documents have been signed," Putin said.

"The first document [is an agreement signed] between the Syrian government and the armed opposition regarding the ceasefire in the Syrian Arab Republic," he said.

"The second document is a set of measures to monitor the ceasefire arrangement, and the third document is a statement of readiness to start peace negotiations on the Syrian settlement," Putin said at a meeting with the foreign and defense ministers. He added that the agreements on Syria are fragile, and require special attention and patience, as well as constant contact with partners.

Posted by: b | Dec 29 2016 11:54 utc | 62

George Malbrunot from the Umeyyad Mosque in Aleppo

Posted by: Mina | Dec 29 2016 11:54 utc | 63

Neoliberal Putin with another ceasefire to nowhere...
I honestly think that Russia could break with China if the price is right. Putin has shined Trump's knob a whole lot as of late also.

Posted by: aaaa | Dec 29 2016 12:48 utc | 64

@64 b

I guess this thread is over now, but here on Thursday morning in the US, as you report, b, it becomes clear that a ceasefire will begin at midnight tonight. Putin calls it a "fragile" ceasefire, but it's real, and it begins. It goes to the UN today for the world to bear witness.

To repeat what you've already quoted, three documents have been signed. One calls for the ceasefire between the combatant parties, which seems to encompass 60,000 opposition fighters now holding their fire. All non-signatories are deemed terrorists and targets for destruction, including of course those groups already outlawed. The second document details the nuts and bolts of monitoring the ceasefire activities. The third document is an agreement to begin an actual peace process.

The many people in this thread who cannot see the value of a ceasefire astonish me. This is how wars end, and how peace comes. Russia in its unrelenting diligence has brought the traditional, authentic peace process back to the Middle East. The entire region takes note of this long awaited event.

Posted by: Grieved | Dec 29 2016 14:56 utc | 65

"This is how wars end, and how peace comes."
No. Most wars ended with the defeat of a party.

Posted by: nyolci | Dec 29 2016 15:48 utc | 66

peter @ 41 said: " Oh puleeze, they are simply in a lame duck period and will do whatever the fuck they want when they get back up to speed."

Yep! Although many would love to see the empire thwarted, don't hold your breath. Until the power of the $ is changed, nothing earth shaking can transpire.

b @ 63 said:"Next: They will all agree to Russia's way forward."

Hope you're right. Needs to happen.

Posted by: ben | Dec 29 2016 15:59 utc | 67

Putin (Himself) is announcing the Official ceasefire in Syria (BBC).
Some of the fine details are delightfully vague and it's likely (imo) that they'll stay that way until the 'facts on the ground' speak louder than mere words.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 29 2016 16:33 utc | 68

i second grieved @67, although i am always more skeptical than he of anything that's dependent upon turkey keeping its word.

i tried to add a little structure to the names and numbers given at amn concerning the relative size and dispersal of the 'moderate rebels' ceasing fire 30 december 2016.

Posted by: jfl | Dec 29 2016 21:09 utc | 69

Turkey Forcefully Recruits Refugees for Military Operation in Northern Syria

Syrian male refugees aged 18 to 35 years old have been recruited by the Turkish government in order to send them to fight in the ranks of its mercenaries within the framework of Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria, the al-Hadath news portal reported on Thursday. While social networks’ activists have confirmed this report and published photos, showing white buses in Gaziantep, which were used to transport refugees back to battlefields in northern Syria, sources, close to terrorist groups, have denied this information.

will the 'moderate rebel' units ceasing fire be 'recruited' by turkey to defend and extend it's new turkistan in northern syria?

Posted by: jfl | Dec 29 2016 21:42 utc | 70

Turkey Forcefully Recruits Refugees for Military Operation in Northern Syria

Syrian male refugees aged 18 to 35 years old have been recruited by the Turkish government in order to send them to fight in the ranks of its mercenaries within the framework of Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria, the al-Hadath news portal reported on Thursday. While social networks’ activists have confirmed this report and published photos, showing white buses in Gaziantep, which were used to transport refugees back to battlefields in northern Syria ...

will turkey 'recruit' the members of the 7 'moderate rebel' units ceasing fire to defend and extend turkistan in northern syria?

Posted by: jfl | Dec 29 2016 21:47 utc | 71

please go to google translator> Dos pasos adelante uno atras, ha sido una buena tactica. Psicologia de guerra * los rebeldes de desmoronan, se pelean... Los sponsors USA< KSA, etc(
se confunden, se enfurecen, se dividen... cometen errores. Pierden la paciencia... que tiene rusia.Se delatan ante el mundo *Francia(, USA, etc. Es una gran operacion diplomatica para rusia. Mientras mas dura el conflicto m'as peso adquiere en la region *Egipto, Turquia. En cuanto a los tratos con Turquia , esta haciendo lo mismo que hizo con lo EEUU, encerrarlos progresivamente en tratos cada vez ma.s estrechos, que los llevan a aceptar o manifestarse abiertamente como Falsos. Es un juego lento, largo, que los rusos han demostrado jugar muy bien. Cuando salvo a Erdogan del Golpe, lo llev'o a su redil y ahora lo tiene atado con correa, por muy traidor que este sea, como todo turco o arabe. La OTAN y EEUU, la han cagado repudiando a Erdogan, e intentando asesinarlo. Se lo han entregado a Putin. Putin le arreglara las cuentas, si le interesa y cuando le interese, lo mismo que Erdogan desea lo mismo con Putin. Y todo es parte de un cuadro mucho mas grande, que abarca europa y el mundo entero... Asia.

Posted by: martino | Dec 29 2016 22:39 utc | 72

google tlanslator please. pienso que el tu/174 ha sido derribado. Culpables> las fuerzas negras. OTAN. La respuesta de rusia no sera derribar un avion occidental. Sera seguir dividiendo y destruyendo el poder occidental

Posted by: martino | Dec 29 2016 22:44 utc | 73

- French media did not put Kerry's speech in headlines/frontpage
- French are certainly angry because the Russians are always a move ahead, e.g. about the Aleppo observers with no evacuation to watch since it is done

Posted by: Mina | Dec 29 2016 23:04 utc | 74

i suspect most of the recruits of the FSA the US have been trying to train in Turkey and Jordan were actually picked in the refugee camps with no real choice. In Jordan they even had separate camps for young men, on the basis that they were/might have been 'soldier' or been doing military training in syria.

Posted by: Mina | Dec 29 2016 23:07 utc | 75

@58 paveway

your fears of wanton, terminal destruction are not unfounded. look at what the nobel peace prize laureate is doing in the diplomatic sphere, his forecast 'covert' cyber attack on russia, and a last vicious, destructive blow to syria is not at all out of 'character' for that twisted, warped and vicious cia stooge.

Posted by: jfl | Dec 30 2016 3:10 utc | 76

Rebels attack Syrian Army positions in northern Hama to break ceasefire

This latest attack in northern Hama questions whether the Syrian opposition is really committed to this nationwide ceasefire deal that was put together by the Russian and Turkish governments earlier this week.

Posted by: jfl | Dec 30 2016 3:19 utc | 77

Putin's Adviser: Russia Is Preparing for Internet Shutdown

"Russia must be prepared to be disconnected from the global Internet", — says German Klimenko.

this is all couched in general terms going forward ... but the threats of cyberwar by the nobel peace prize laureate have got to be on their minds. all that nonsense about russia and the election was 'cover' for their preemptive cyberstrike at russia? anything to start a war?

we are all concerned about tee-rump ... how can he be worse than this?

Posted by: jfl | Dec 30 2016 3:28 utc | 78

@ jfl

WRT the rebels not agreeing with the shows to the world exactly which groups are fronted by the US and associates.

WRT the "internet shutdown" ......We had working interest oriented Bulletin Boards for years before the web supported with might have to place a call to Germany to get your MoA fix and upload your comments......there are always work arounds until they are shut down and then......

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 30 2016 7:46 utc | 79

Russian embassy pokes fun at Britain for its silence over Syria ceasefire on Twitter

'Are they jealous or on holiday?' Russian embassy pokes fun at Britain for its silence over Syria ceasefire... and asks Twitter to decide why the UK has made no comment

A nationwide Syrian truce brokered by Russia and Turkey started at midnight
But Russian embassy in London has asked why Britain had made no comment
Suggests three reasons on Twitter: 'Jealousy', 'FCO on holiday' or 'can't believe'
Twitter users asked to decide on reason and 1,000 votes have already been cast

Posted by: Outraged | Dec 30 2016 13:50 utc | 80

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