Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 07, 2017

Syria - Erdogan Is Afraid Of Entering Idleb

The Turkish President Erdogan announced the start of a Turkish operation in Idleb province of Syria. Idelb has been for years under the control of al-Qaeda in Syria, currently under the label Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

In the talks in Astana, Turkey, Russia and Iran agreed on a deescalation zone in Idelb to be supervised by all three of them. But the fight against al-Qaeda, aka HTS, would continue. Turkey is supposed to control the western part of the province including the city of Idleb. But the Turkish government is afraid to go there.

During the last days there have been many reports and lots of pictures of Turkish force movements along the north-western Syrian border. But Turkey made no attempt to enter the country and it is doubtful that it will.

Erdogan's announcement needs some parsing:

"There's a serious operation in Syria's Idlib today and it will continue," Erdogan said in a speech to his AK Party, adding that Turkey would not allow a "terror corridor" on its border with Syria.

"For now Free Syria Army is carrying out the operation there," Erdogan said. "Russia will be protecting outside the borders (of the Idlib region) and we will handle inside," he said.

"Russia is supporting the operation from the air, and our armed forces from inside Turkey's borders," he added.

"[F]rom inside Turkey's borders" means of course that the Turkish army will not (again) enter Syria. At least not now.

Turkey has transferred some 800 of its "Turkmen" mercenaries from the "Euphrates Shield" area north-east of Aleppo [green] to the western border next to Idleb. "Euphrates Shield" was a fight against the Islamic State with the aim of interrupting a potential Kurdish "terrorist" corridor from north-east Syria to the north-western Kurdish enclave Afrin [beige]. Turkey lost a bunch of heavy battle tanks and some 70 soldiers in that fight. Erdogan was criticized in Turkey for the somewhat botched operation.

The Turkish proxy fighters now sent into Idleb belong to the Hamza Brigade, Liwa al-Mutasem and other Turkish "Free Syrian Army" outfits. They will have to go in without tanks and heavy weapons. Some Turkish special forces with them might be able to call up artillery support from within Turkey. But no Turkish air support will be available as Syria and Russia insist of staying in control of the airspace.

A recent video shows a group of HTS maniacs attacking an outpost like professional soldiers. They are equipped with AT-4 anti-tank missiles, 60mmm mortars, light machine guns and Milkor grenade launcher. They have good uniforms, fairly new boots and ammo carrier belts. This is not equipment captured from the Syrian army or second hand stuff from some former eastern-block country. It is modern "western" stuff. These folks still have some rich sponsor and excellent equipment sources.

Russia has in recent weeks extensively bombed al-Qaeda positions in Idleb. Turkish intelligence may have helped with that. But AQ still has a very decent fighting force. The Turkish supported forces are likely no match for well equipped and battle hardened al-Qaeda fighters.

Turkey had for nearly six years supplied and pampered al-Qaeda in Syria. The group has many relations and personal within Turkey. The Astana agreement now obligates Turkey to fight HTS. Erdogan sits in a trap he set up himself. Should it come to a conflict between HTS and Turkish forces in Syria, the fight would soon cause casualties in Ankara and Istanbul.

Erdogan might still believe that he can somehow domesticate HTS. The government controlled Anadolu agency does not even mention the al-Qaeda origin of the group nor its long control of the area. It is trying to paint a somewhat rosy picture of HTS as an anti-American outfit:

Tahrir al-Sham, an anti-regime group, has come to the forefront with increasing activity in Idlib recently. Tahrir al-Sham has not made a direct statement against the deployment of Turkish troops to the region.

On the other hand, the group and some opponents oppose the entry of various Free Syrian Army groups to Idlib, which are prepared to come from the Euphrates Shield Operation Area.

The group justifies the opposition, saying that other groups expected to arrive in the region get support from the United States.

The Turkish paper Hurriyet is less sensible with Erdogan's needs:

Idlib is largely controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), spearheaded by a former al-Qaeda affiliate that changed its name last year from the Nusra Front.

HTS is not party to a deal brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran for the safe zone in the province, one of four such "de-escalation" zones nationwide.

Ousting HTS forces from the area will be needed to allow the arrival of Iranian, Russian and Turkish forces to implement a de-escalation zone.

In Astana Erdogan was given the task to clean up the mess he earlier created in Idleb by supporting the Jihadis. Erdogan does not like the job but has no choice.

If the de-escalation fails because HTS stays in control, Syria and its allies will move into Idleb. Turkey will then have to cope with thousands of battle seasoned Jihdis and a million of their kinfolk as refugees. If Erdogan moves Turkish forces into the Idleb area it will become a very costly fight and he will soon be in trouble in his own realm. Making peace with HTS is not an option. HTS rejected all offers to "change its skin" and to melt away. Iran, the Astana agreement and a number of UN Security Council Resolutions also stand against that.

It will be difficult for Turkey to untangle that knot.

Posted by b on October 7, 2017 at 16:04 UTC | Permalink


Let Hezbollah and the Syrian Army solve this with Russian air cover. Problem solved. Syria needs to take back oil areas from Kurds and Iraq needs to do the same. The USA and other troublemakers need to get out of Syria and Iraq.

Posted by: Biz Boy | Oct 7 2017 16:16 utc | 1

Thanks for the insightful posting b.

Future books written about this period will quote your postings like this.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 7 2017 16:23 utc | 2

Well done, b.

A good example of caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.

See how western propaganda is disseminated.

Posted by: ab initio | Oct 7 2017 16:41 utc | 3

I'm curious how Turkey's military will cope with a large operation in light of the leadership/command being purged in the aftermath of the attempted coup.
What percentage of lieutenants, captains, colonel, etc. were removed and replaced? I seem to recall it was a significant portion of officers. A massive military failure by Turkey might embolden the Kurds, and dramatically weaken Erdogan's ability to take a hard line with them.
It's hard not to think of the parallels with the 1939-1940 Soviet Finnish 'Winter War'. I guess we'll soon know if Erdogan is simply going to posture along the border or if he will commit to a significant operation.

Posted by: WG | Oct 7 2017 16:46 utc | 4

thanks b... excellent coverage.. quoting you "It will be difficult for Turkey to untangle that knot." and

"Erdogan sits in a trap he set up himself. Should it come to a conflict between HTS and Turkish forces in Syria, the fight would soon cause casualties in Ankara and Istanbul."

indeed.. i ponder erdogan being removed or losing power? what it would mean in the bigger picture here? obviously russia and iran would not want this, but i imagine others like the usa, ksa and israel would.. how would this alter the syrian situation?

Posted by: james | Oct 7 2017 17:13 utc | 5

@3 ab initio.. thanks.. missing in that article revolves around topic of khan sheikhoun.. it was a false flag set up by the same western powers that are working in step with these malevolent murderous jihadi groups.. maybe turkey know a false flag when it is pointed out to them? too bad trump and his western poodles continue to try to foist this bullshit on anyone willing to swallow some arsenic with their reading of that poc the guardian... syrian observatory for human rights shop in the uk continues on... uk taxpayer money not well spent..

"Two waves of airstrikes on Khan Sheikhoun, a town in Idlib province controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham forces, killed at least 13 civilians in the same period, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.

Rami Abdurrahman, the head of the observatory, said the strikes had probably been carried out by the Syrian air force. The town was the target of a sarin gas attack in April that killed at least 87 people, 30 of them children.

Donald Trump blamed the Syrian government for the attack and ordered cruise missile strikes on the airbase from which he said it had been launched.

Posted by: james | Oct 7 2017 17:22 utc | 6

This Turkish incursion has been written on the wall since the HTS takeover of Idlib in July and officially sealed in Astana. The Turks get to battle the Frankenstein they created, the Syrians and Russians will sit back and watch the Turks bleed until going in and mopping up themselves. This arrangement will allow Damascus to recover the east and its oil wells before turning back to Idlib. Ankara will presumably get the green light to go after Syrian Kurds or be allowed some de facto buffer zone. All in all, not ideal but the most bang for the buck for Damascus.

The machine is in position, the transmission in gear, such that Turkey will have no choice but to send in their own troops. The idea that 800 militants with no heavy weapons will have any effect in Idlib is laughable, unless Ankara is cleaning up its own loose ends by sending of to their deaths. They've already made too much hullabaloo in the media about the operation to just sit at the border. Erdogan needs a "good war" to save face and show his constituents he's still tough on the Kurds. The tanks will roll.

Posted by: Don Wiscacho | Oct 7 2017 17:42 utc | 7

A very sensitive commentary, b - thank you.

Indeed it seems that Erdogan's time has come, his trial by fire. He has forces that are rooting for him: Russia, Iran, Syria, China. Even Maduro of Venezuela stopped by to forge closer relations between the two countries. Everyone wants Turkey to fuse itself into Eurasia where it belongs. It seems probable, as everyone points out, that Turkey's allies in the Idleb campaign will not let it fail or fall too far without helping it in both material and morale-boosting ways.

Do we actually know how well the Turkish military can fight nowadays? Can it fight against serious warriors, or has it become degraded and useless from its time in NATO?

I'm rooting for Erdogan and his soldiers to come through the fire as seasoned, Eurasian stalwarts. I suspect many of the players in the theater feel the same way.

If it were to happen, it would have to go down in history as one of President Putin's greatest and most unlikely geo-political achievements. It's his birthday today. Make a wish.

Posted by: Grieved | Oct 7 2017 18:27 utc | 8

If anyone wants to see the official neocon position on how the US should respond in Syria check out Federick Kagen

This is Nuland's husband (former Hillary supporter) giving advice to Trump.

Posted by: ToivoS | Oct 7 2017 18:27 utc | 9

@9 toivo... it is encouraging reading the comment section... americans, or those even silly enough to read fox news - appear very clear on kagans bullshit, not to mention the usa's bullshit.. that is encouraging... i wonder how much saudi arabia and israel pay kagan for his bullshit? better not be much, as no one is believing any of it!

Posted by: james | Oct 7 2017 18:48 utc | 10

Erdogan may well be cleaning up some trash by sending his tame moderate terrorists into, but his problem seems to be a fair percentage of his support base also have sympathies for the various jihadi groups, including those named as terrorist groups. Some time ago, Erdogan also stated that AQ should not be designated a terrorist group. His support base may turn against him if he pushes too far in Idlib.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 7 2017 19:12 utc | 11

I would think Erdogan is waiting until the Syrians and Russians are ready, so that a concerted attack can be made. It's the obvious explanation.

A major attack on Idlib is coming, there's no question. The only issue is when and how.

Posted by: Laguerre | Oct 7 2017 19:32 utc | 12

james #10

I had not even noticed those comments in that Fox piece. All I can say is wow. What is Fox news becoming with comments like that? What ever happened to the neocons that dominated that place.

Posted by: ToivoS | Oct 7 2017 20:19 utc | 13

ToivoS @ 9: Victoria Nuland's husband is Robert Kagan who works at the Brookings Institution, a neocon think-tank. He's also a member of the Council for Foreign Relations and was one of the authors of Project for the New American Century.

Frederick Kagan is Nuland's brother-in-law.

Posted by: Jen | Oct 7 2017 20:19 utc | 14

PeterAU1 @ 11: I'd add also that after Erdogan's purges of the military, whatever people remain in the Turkish armed forces are probably also sympathetic towards the takfiris trapped in Idlib. Senior and junior officers alike, soldiers and others who didn't agree with Erdogan's support for the takfiri groups would have been among the first to be forced to leave.

After the setbacks the takfiris have suffered over the past two years, now holed up in Idlib, they probably want payback against those who (in their own eyes) promised them much but failed to support them and deliver. Sending Turkish forces into Idlib could lead to mixing with the takfiris and forming a new force that could go back deep into Turkey and to Ankara itself.

Erdogan really has dug his own grave.

Posted by: Jen | Oct 7 2017 20:34 utc | 15

@ peter au / jen

that was why i was wondering about the longevity of erodogan at this point.. last line in jens post essentially captures it..

Posted by: james | Oct 7 2017 20:58 utc | 16

Biz Boy @ 1
Syria needs to take back oil areas and all Gollan from Israel and not from its own Kurds.
Looks like you have a problem with the compass.

Posted by: ALAN | Oct 7 2017 21:10 utc | 17

The punishment in the EU is severe if you dare to meet President Assad (via VolteireNet):

"The President of the Assembly of the Council of Europe resigns"

The President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Spanish Senator Pedro Agramunt Font de Mora (right in the photo), apologized for meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and resigning , on 6 October 2017.

The dissemination by the Russian media on April 28 of photographs featuring Pedro Agramunt in Damascus accompanied by a dozen members of the Council of Europe Assembly and the Russian Duma provoked fury in the hemicycle.

In June, the by-laws of the assembly had been amended to allow the removal of its president. He finally resigned three days before the vote.

In reality, Pedro Agramunt is doubly implicated. First of all by the United States for whom his meeting with President Assad attests that he is pro-Russian. Then, and especially because Berlingske investigators, who have updated Azerbaijan's public relations system [1], would have documents attesting that Baku corrupted him to minimize political repression in that country. But this is harder to admit because Azerbaijan is an ally of Washington.

Some details about NATO treachery in Syria Moscow denounces US military support to Daesh

Posted by: PeacefulProsperity | Oct 7 2017 21:59 utc | 18

Entering Idlib to exfiltrate some and "make no prisonner" with the remaining human trash brought there via intl news calls to form international brigades against the bad bashar?

Posted by: Mina | Oct 7 2017 22:11 utc | 19

Agramunt #18 looks like a classic Catalan name...

Maybe just hedging bets for a future career?

Posted by: Cortes | Oct 7 2017 22:15 utc | 20

I am surprised that Erdoğan can flip sides so fast given the fact that HTS has been supplied by Turkey and has training camps in Turkey. However, Erdoğan has just declared that a landmark operation is underway in Idlib, "we won't allow a terror corridor on our Syrian border". He stated that the FSA will be conducting the operations with support from the Turkish military as “Turkey would not allow separatist operations in Iraq and Syria”

It has also been reported that a majority of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Idlib wants an alliance with HTS:
Already, the US backed Jaysh Usud al-Sharqiya Shaitat has allied with ISIS and other warbands may stick with either ISIS or HTS as well.

Perhaps Turkey will now face MB terrorists attacks as this group is widely present in Turkey:

The HTS elite fighters shown in the “b” linked video even had a XM-18 type 40mm grenade launcher “mixed fruit pudding” as featured in the movie The Dogs of War. The modern military kit of the HTS units is not surprising in that the US CIA and DOD trained and equipped about 5,000 fighters in Syria who immediately joined the HTS (Nusra Front).

Russia has apparently offered to arm those militias who signed the deconflict agreement in Idlib. Russia will be flying the air cover with no Turkish air cover allowed as part of the Astana agreement. The fighting has begun with HTS attacks in several areas killing and wounding scores of SAA soldiers along with killing Brigadier General Shimon Suleiman.

Posted by: Krollchem | Oct 7 2017 22:21 utc | 21

I almost forgot - My best wishes to President Putin on his birthday!

I share these brave soldiers sentiment:

Some good news:

The Russian Aerospace Forces have eliminated 180 terrorists and mercenaries in Syria’s Euphrates Valley, the Russian Defense Ministry announced on October 7.

According to the ministry’s spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov, airstrikes destroyed a terrorist base, 40 terrorists from Tajikistan and Iraq and 7 vehicles armed with large caliber weapons near the border Syrian town of al-Bukamal. Furthermore, 80 terrorists, 18 vehicles armed with large caliber weapons and three weapons depots were destroyed near Mayadin town and 60 mercenaries and 20 their vehicles were eliminated south of Deir Ezzor in the Euphreates Valley...

Posted by: PeacefulProsperity | Oct 7 2017 22:59 utc | 22


There's no such thing "de-conflict". Astana agreements contain no such term. "De-confliction" is a Pentagon buzzword. De-Escalation zones are what Astana produced.

Posted by: @Madderhatter67 | Oct 7 2017 23:48 utc | 23

nothing to do with the original text yet it says something about Russia.

Posted by: Chauncey Gardiner | Oct 8 2017 0:22 utc | 24

A nice radar disturbing meteor shower might be a great storm through which to initiate a decap strike


Posted by: gut bugs galore | Oct 8 2017 0:59 utc | 25

This Christian Colonial-sponsored SNAFU in Syria has become so confused and confusing that it no longer resembles any 'war' from the past. In fact it's beginning to resemble an awkward blend of John Guare's 1990 play Six Degrees of Separation, and Dan O'Bannon's 1979 Sci-Fi movie Alien.

Alien's central plot-twist involved a bunch of space-faring Good Samaritans who hastily responded to a misinterpreted warning (to stay away from a nearby planet) as a distress call, and thus wound up in deep doo-doo.

Six Degrees of Separation delves into the premise that everyone in the world is connected to everyone else in the world by a chain of no more than six acquaintances.

The parallels are uncanny, as in weird - and un-canny, as in not very clever. Or, perhaps, too clever by half.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 8 2017 1:21 utc | 26

It would seem sensible to simply move HTS/AQ and other groups in Syria to Gaza and West Bank where they could do some good, serving their own purposes rather than Israeli policy in Syria. Divide them into two groups that get along, put the largest group in the West Bank via Jordan, the other in Gaza via Egypt or by sea, to serve as a border guard and to deter attacks and settlers. It would be interesting to know why this was not done, and why it is not more practical now than ever.

Posted by: Sam F | Oct 8 2017 1:40 utc | 27

Jen #14

My error. Yep, Robert, Federick and Victoria are members of the same family (tribe?). Trying to keep of whom is married to whom is difficult.

Posted by: ToivoS | Oct 8 2017 2:38 utc | 28


Thanks for the correction.

I expect that the offensive may begin soon as:
(1)The Syrian border is almost closed off. Syria did allow several hundred ISIS fighters Sukhna along the highway between Palmyra and Deir Ezzor. The SAA with air support has almost finished off these units;
(2) Mayadin (90%) has fallen to the SAA and the ISIS fighters have either been killed or have fled their base of operations. This will allow a river crossing and outflank the US backed Kurdish lead forces;
(3) The Russian strategy of drawing in the enemy and wiping it out on a caldron, as was done many times in Donbass, appears to be working and the T2 pumping station will soon be recaptured. This station will ensure that Kurdish oil does not make it to Israel thus eliminating one of the Israeli/Kurdish legs!

In other news, Saudi Arabia has left the Taliban out to dry leading to an alliance between the Taliban and ISIS

Seeing that the US will not be able to guarantee the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline (TAPI)the President of Turkmenistan has received Putin and they are making new trade deals, presumably including returning to transport of natural gas via Russian routes. This suggestion is supported by the recent falling out between Pakistan and the US Trump administration.

If the TAPI pipeline route is off the table, then this may lead to the Iran-Pakistan-India route being completed. India will likely support this pipeline as it is suffering from a natural gas shortage.

Putin will continue to make deals to neuter Islamic radicalism in the Middle East. Judging from the body language of Kadyrov in his combat fatigues and the troubled looks by the Saudi Foreign minister, the House of Saud will thing twice before double crossing Russia.

Qatar seems to also be partially neutralized by being dependent of Iranian food and energy supplies. Interesting that the Qatar Islamic forces in Mali also appear to be withdrawing according to Ruffin and Asselineau who called out the US, Saudi Arabia,Qatar and UAE is sponsors of terrorism.

For an in depth analysis of the US and other Western collaboration with terrorists see the books "Sous nos yeux" by Thierry Meyssan and "nos tres chers Emirs" by CHRISTIAN CHESNOT, GEORGES MALBRUNOT. For any doubters, Zbigniew Brzenzinski in an interview with Le Nouvel Observateur (January 15-21, 1998) stated that "The Muslim terrorist apparatus was created by US Intelligence as a geopolitical weapon"

France Insoumise is also calling for punishing multinationals that have collaborated with ISIS such as the french cement maker La Forge. Macron's close ties with Qatar as with Sarkozy is being questioned.

All the governmental sponsors of these terrorist groups appear to be washing their hands of their contribution and trying to cover their trail.

Posted by: Krollchem | Oct 8 2017 3:45 utc | 29

ToivoS @ 26: I understand your problem as the three of them are starting to look like conjoined siblings.

Posted by: Jen | Oct 8 2017 4:33 utc | 30

Thanks to b and all the commenters for my ongoing education about ME particulars

If the US is really going to lose face in Syria then it seems clear that they will have to be entering another war or 2 (NK/Iran) so as to take the focus off having been stymied in the last......I would like to be wrong but I expect we will know fairly soon.

Do the owners of private finance have a fall back plan of surviving with a collection of nations under their God of Mammon/usury system or are they going for broke in re-establishing themselves as the unipolar leader of the "free" world?

Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 8 2017 4:40 utc | 31

Krollchem | Oct 7, 2017 11:45:26 PM | 27

In some of what I have read in the past re Vietnam, US was fighting there because of what it called the domino effect.
Now Russia has no ideology, only a vision for the future, whereas US ideology is extreme capatilism plus full spectrum dominance. The dominos are now begining to fall for Russia.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 8 2017 5:37 utc | 32

@27 Great post Krollchem, slight correction the french cement maker is Lafarge..

Posted by: Lozion | Oct 8 2017 6:16 utc | 33

psycohistorian 29
1914 was framed and catalyzed by Russian intransigence in the Balkans after her 1905 defeat at the hands of the Japanese , in the West German truculence was enabled by an exaggerated sense of English weakness apparently shown through the poor showing of her armies in South Africa 1899 - the U S particularly warned England not to become embroiled in South Africa because of this possibility . Looking forward from 2017 these are disturbing 'power play ' patterns .

Posted by: ashley albanese | Oct 8 2017 6:51 utc | 34

The US just stopped funding the Barzani Kurdish army now that ISIS is about finished off in Iraq.

Any idea if the US will stop funding the Kurds in Syria when ISIS is defeated? This would result in the US having to abandon their Syrian bases in Kurdish areas.

Posted by: Krollchem | Oct 8 2017 7:11 utc | 35

Krollchem | Oct 8, 2017 3:11:33 AM | 33

My own take on this; Russia and Syria have declared the U.S. is in Syria illegally (even the Kurdish controled areas are Syrian territory).
The U.S. is being shown the door and will lose to the point of having no choice but to leave.
But, I do believe the U.S. will dip an oar there for the near future.
Strategically and militarily, Russia has out played the U.S. at every turn.
Look for Iran to be the next target, IMO...

Posted by: V. Arnold | Oct 8 2017 7:45 utc | 36

Erdogan decided to side with al-Qaeda ...

Reuters: Turkish military vehicles enter Syria's Idlib: sources

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Turkish military vehicles entered Syria’s Idlib province on Sunday under escort from the Tahrir al-Sham jihadist alliance, a resident of the Syria-Turkey border area and a local rebel said.

They both said they saw several vehicles carrying Turkish forces entering Idlib at the Atmah crossing before Tahrir al-Sham fighters escorted them along a road.

Several other sources confirm that:
Michael Horowitz @michaelh992
According to this - and unverified video circulating on social media - Turkish delegation is escorted by HTS #Syria…
@badly_xeroxed 24m
Nour al-Dein al-Zenkey Commander states #TSK troops accompanied by #HTS also heading to Dayr Sim`an South of #Afrin…
Abdalaziz Alhamza @3z0ooz 26m
Activists:: 3 Turkish military cars protected by #Nusra “ Al Qaeda “ entered #Syria through Atama gate and headed to Dar Eza in #Aleppo .

1. Who will betray whom first: Erdogan HTS or HTS Erdogan?
2. What will be the Russian/Syrian take on this?

Posted by: b | Oct 8 2017 9:24 utc | 37

Well, so much for my take; I forgot this is a game of 11 dimensioual chess...

Posted by: V. Arnold | Oct 8 2017 9:39 utc | 38

35 b ???

This here is the BBC

Rebels backed by Turkey are carrying out a new operation in Syria's north-western Idlib province, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says.

The province is dominated by jihadist groups and Mr Erdogan has said he will not allow a "terror corridor" on the Turkish border.

The operation is led by Turkish-supported Free Syrian Army rebels.

Mr Erdogan said Turkish troops were not yet inside Idlib. Russia is providing air support.

Same information from Al Jazeera

Erdogan said the operation, which has seen Turkish troops heading towards the border but not yet crossing it, was being conducted in coordination with Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The deal means Turkey getting their proxies into power in Idlib maybe even attacking Kurds to give SAA time to clean up the Eastern Oil fields?

Posted by: somebody | Oct 8 2017 10:36 utc | 39

I don't see the US taking on Iran. Iran would be much more difficult than Iraq and there isn't the national will for that sort of large engagement again. Nuclear weapons would have to be used and I think clearer heads would prevail.

I think Russia will be calling the shots in Syria regardless of Turkey attempts to save some face and that Turkey will see the light of falling more into the Russian fold. The US/Al Qaeda alliance of corruption is having a bright light shone on it and is a dead end. I think the US would be best served by trying to partner with OBOR rather than trying to sabotage it. The US needs to get a clue and back away from terrorism used to support a dying financially oriented debt system of global dominance.

Posted by: financial matters | Oct 8 2017 11:05 utc | 40

I think the US would be best served by trying to partner with OBOR rather than trying to sabotage it.

The U.S. would not be allowed to partner in OBOR; the whole point of BRI (belt road inititive0 is to break free of the U.S. dollar and hegemon.
This is exactly why the U.S. won't let go of Afghanistan, no matter what the cost in blood and treasure.

Strategic Culture is an excellent site and FEDERICO PIERACCINI writes some pretty well researched articles.
Well worth a look.

Posted by: V. Arnold | Oct 8 2017 11:21 utc | 41

Thanks V. Arnold, I saw that excellent article when it was crossposted at Russia Insider.

The US needs to give up the dollar hegemon and accept a place in a multipolar world. The jig is up. There is certainly a McCain/Clinton branch that would want to see the US fight to an apocalypse but others would be happy with single payer medical care and reasonable jobs not based on a gig economy.

Posted by: financial matters | Oct 8 2017 11:56 utc | 42

The US needs to give up the dollar hegemon and accept a place in a multipolar world.

Sure, I agree; but how realistic is that?
Okay; do you believe the U.S. will "give up" the dollar hegemon?
I find that possibility somewhat fantastical, in lieu of the present reality.
The phrase; "full spectrum dominance", is straight from the neocon playbook; it doesn't even consider compromise as an option.
Anyhoo; what do you think?

Posted by: V. Arnold | Oct 8 2017 12:32 utc | 43

I think it's a matter that's being forced.

The financial breakdown in 2008 showed the deficiencies in the dollar hegemony. This power was used destructively to build a house of cards based on derivatives rather than basics. Russia and China stuck to the basics and are prevailing.

Similarly militarily and diplomatically. This power is being abused by allying with terrorist groups to support an elitist based system. Even some US special forces soldiers are realizing that they are being played.

The US Congress left to its own cannot get away from its corporate sponsorship. 80% of Americans want single payer medical care but you get politicians saying that it's not politically possible as an example.

Posted by: financial matters | Oct 8 2017 12:53 utc | 44

One more example of a snake biting its handler.

Posted by: gdpbull | Oct 8 2017 13:21 utc | 45

I think it's a matter that's being forced.

Indeed it is "being forced", and a reluctant U.S. will fight it tooth and nail; a very dangerous time for us humans.
As to the rest; I find myself in agreement with your POV. It pretty much meshes with my own POV.
Are you familiar with Mahan, Spykman, and Mackinder? Federico Pieraccini wrote a three part article at Strategic Culture. It's easily found by clicking on Federico's name at SC. It's about Eurasia as the center of the planet.
It's the battle presently being fought in the SE Asia Pacific trade routes, whch has everything to do with the BRI.

Posted by: V. Arnold | Oct 8 2017 13:24 utc | 46

@ ToivoS | Oct 7, 2017 2:27:31 PM | 9

Thanks for that link to the Kagan 'piece'...

Always enjoy the delusional rantings of the failing neocons as they get ever more desperate to save their neo-Khazar empire...

Even more interesting than the article is the image of the author at the top...

Notice the porcine neck and jowls...typical of Cushing's Syndrome...caused by pituitary gland [located in brain] abnormality...

Btw...this particular Kagan, Frederick, is the brother of Robert Kagan who's married to V. Nuland [Nudelman...?]

Yes the 'Kagan' clan is extensive...we recall that the Khazar empire was ruled by a 'Khagan' or king of kings...

The Khazar Kagans' hatred of Russia is 1,000 years old...ever since 'Kievan Rus' ruler Sviatoslav I of Kiev conquered the capital Atil and destroyed the Khazar state...'

A close reading of history can sometimes explain a lot...

Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 8 2017 14:46 utc | 47

@35 b.. thanks for the update.. to quote you -

"1. Who will betray whom first: Erdogan HTS or HTS Erdogan?

tough call, but my guess is erdogan betrays HTS and that is part of his plan. it ain't gonna be pretty either way..

2. What will be the Russian/Syrian take on this?

they are going to watch and see how it plays out with prep to hold erdogan accountable..

erdogan continues to be in a bad place...

Posted by: james | Oct 8 2017 14:59 utc | 48

The Turks have good reason to be cautious about facing off with the terrorists. The Turks use Leopard tanks which fare even worse than Abrams against modern ATGMs.

Posted by: Anonymous | Oct 8 2017 15:29 utc | 49

The Neocons definitely see the OBOR as the threat that it is. The US can't hope to compete in a true worldwide free market (ironic, isn't it?), since all it manufactures is dollars and military hardware, and can only support itself through the privileges of being the heart of an empire, using bribery and force to control and pillage others. The concepts of win-win, mutual benefit, and honoring agreements are long forgotten, as seen when dictates are considered diplomacy. As others have noted, this is why Afghanistan will never be willingly abandoned, and why Iran must go.

Little Bush was just along for the ride when the first steps were taken--invading Afghanistan and destroying Iraq. But there still existed a few high level US military men at that point who were not owned by the MIC, who had some personal experience with war, who squawked loudly enough that the plans for Iran were insane so that Bush, for once, actually told Israel and the Neocons "No." When their new sock puppet Obama was installed, they tried a different tact, ratcheting up the economic warfare against Iran, but convincing him they'd remove the military objections by taking out Iran's remaining ally, Syria, first. It certainly started well, but Obama was deftly outmaneuvered by Putin on the UN level by removing Syria's chemical weapons, and then militarily by the Russian AF and--wouldn't you know it--those damn Iranians and their friends (together with the US's untenable use of terrorists in its attempt to overthrow the Syrian government, which could only work if victory was quick).

So Syria won't be the proxy state and logistical jumping off point for the coming war against Iran that it was hoped to be, but the damage has been done, and Syria will be preoccupied with guerrillas and rebuilding for a decade. But Iran is now an even larger threat, having gained in regional reputation for what everyone sees as being willing to provide crucial assistance to its friends when needed. Even Qatar has changed teams, and Turkey is making overtures. The Neocons are apoplectic.

I think Trump would have preferred to have Korea as "his" war (bloody but quick), but has been instructed by his minders that no, it's Iran that poses the real threat. So he's preparing to announce that Iran has not complied with their treaty, and that they are on the verge of having nuclear weapons (if you don't believe it just ask Israel), and so are an imminent threat. Since they are just about to start nuking all their neighbors (eyeroll), the US will justify the use of tactical nukes which will "make victory quick and easy." Plus no doubt leave the most promising OBOR routes irradiated for years to come. I am very apprehensive about the next few weeks or months. Some say cooler heads will prevail, as with Bushy, but I'm afraid most if not all of those have been purged long ago.

As for the Turks, I think they are starting to realize that having terrorists as allies has its down side, and are hoping to convince its supported terrorists that they're there to help against the "bad" terrorists (remember, there's a lot of infighting going on in Idlib), which they can also sell to Russia and Syria that they're at least killing some of the terrorists, and then once the SAA is done with ISIS, Turkey can withdraw and leave the remaining, weakened AQ to the Syrians and Russians, without having to admit to their domestics that AQ was always just a tool, to be discarded when no longer useful.

Posted by: J Swift | Oct 8 2017 15:37 utc | 50

Turkish military escorted by al Nusra is for talks. This is Russian influence.
The Gordian Knot Erdogan faces with ISIS and AQ and Kurds has to be untied. Cutting it is not enough.
He has them all inside Turkey, all along the borders and AQ/ al Nusra embedded deep in Idlib.

Russia is gathering Intel. They are forcing the Turkish military (decimated by the coup and counter-coup) to gather organizational strength.
Turkey cannot just plow into the Idlib battle. They are not Turkey of 2015 or early 2016.

Basically, Turkey's military is just a proxy for Russian military and will be used that way to block escape via ratlines into Turkey and to contribute to the coming cauldrons Russia will tactically create.

All hands on deck, Syria, militias, Hezbollah, Quds, Turks and Turkmen. Russia will be the air power and brains of the strategy and tactics.

Idlib will be long and brutal. Erdogan to perform well merely has to be a blocking force and contribute some artilley at the appropriate time.
The real value of the Turks is Intel, verifiable Intel.

Posted by: Red Ryder | Oct 8 2017 16:28 utc | 51

Erdogan only considers Kurds/PKK to be terrorists so his target is Afrin. Russia knows this so what is the game being played out here? A lot of AQ leadership has been wiped out in the Russian air offensive over the last few weeks. A move for Turkey to take ownership of HTS so they can be controlled? Or a move to put pressure on Kurds? When Turkey attacks Afrin, Russia moves in to give protection.
Erdogan takes ownership and control of HTS, and Russia moves into Afrin may be the game?

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 8 2017 17:42 utc | 52

When you and your buddies get stuck in the mire, give each other awards.


The Weinstein Co. is bracing for the impact of the stories, but most employees are largely unaware of the details. Weinstein is trying to retain the services of Lanny Davis, a former special counsel to President Bill Clinton, to help advise him on public relations strategy, according to one insider. He has also reached out to several crisis PR firms in recent weeks.

Lanny Davis of the Honduras Coup

Posted by: fast freddy | Oct 8 2017 18:25 utc | 53

Kagans have been advising Presidents to kill for going on 40 years. Trump, Obama, Dubya, Bill Clinton, Poppy and Reagan.

From 1984–86, under the administration of Ronald Reagan, Robert Kagan was a speechwriter for Secretary of State George P. Shultz and a member of the United States Department of State Policy Planning Staff. From 1986–1988 he served in the State Department Bureau of Inter-American Affairs.

In 1997, Kagan co-founded the now-defunct (WikiCIA, such jokesters!) Project for the New American Century with William Kristol. Through the work of the PNAC, Kagan was an early and strong advocate of military action to "remove Mr. Hussein and his regime from power". The US achieved that goal in 2003, through the Iraq war.

From 1998 until August, 2010, Kagan was a Senior Associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (LOL!). He was appointed senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in September 2010. Board member of FPI. etc.

Posted by: fast freddy | Oct 8 2017 18:43 utc | 54

In Edlib,Erdogan is playing his presidency. His image is seriously deteriorating ahead of the 2019 elections. If he fails in Edlib, in 2019 he is no more the president.
He badly needs Russia and Iran to win that war,but even if he has tempered down his neo-ottoman ambitions, do they still want him as the president for the next 9 years?

Posted by: Virgile | Oct 9 2017 6:46 utc | 55

Red Ryder 51 - this makes sense I think. However much we fear Erdogan double-crossing Russia it can't happen. Did these Turkish army vehicles reported enter from north of Afrin, and not at the Reyhanli crossing where the Turkish tank contingent is? Given that Gaziantep has been the centre of operations and supply for the last two years and that crossing at Kilis the place where legions of 'terrorists threatening Turkey' have trooped past Al Jazeera's watchful journos unnoticed, it figures that Turkish intel will be up to something.. with its proxies. Perhaps they just took them some shaving gear.

Posted by: David M | Oct 9 2017 11:51 utc | 56

2. What will be the Russian/Syrian take on this?
Posted by: b | Oct 8, 2017 5:24:08 AM | 37

Lots of Yankee-style "mistakes" inflicted by Russia on Turkish forces in Syria?

The notion of Turkey teaming up with FSA(Foreign Supplied Army) to 'help' Assad/Russia was a stinker from the outset. It would have been insulting of Russia to warn volunteer ally Erdogan that duplicity will be severely punished. Erdo is old enough to figure that out for himself.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 9 2017 13:01 utc | 57

Is my recollection that Russia warned Erdo about the failed coup attempt accurate? If it is then perhaps b's initial positive perspective was justified - this being a military matter and Hw being non-military.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 9 2017 13:33 utc | 58

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