Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 22, 2018

Syria - Some Random Oddities

A tweet:

Asaad Hanna @AsaadHannaa 4:26pm · 22 Jan 2018
Assad army dropped chlorine bombed barrels on Abo Aldhoor military base #Idlib countryside in a big attempt to take control of it.

The above is from an anti-Syrian "Media Adviser, researcher and freelance journalist" previously published or quoted by Al Jazeerah, The Guardian, Business Insider and several other outlets. His twitter account has a "Verified" mark.

There is only a tiny problem with the tweet about the Abu Duhur air base. Since Saturday the base is in government hands. Yesterday the Syrian Ministry of Defense officially announced the full capture of the air base. There are pictures available and videos from a Russian news outlet showing Syrian army soldiers strolling within the base. Meanwhile the fighting has moved several kilometers beyond the base limits. The Syrian Army dropping "chlorine bombed barrels" on an air base that is in the army's hands would be rather curious incident. There are no such reports from anyone else. The claim does not seem to fit reality. Then again - little of what was published from such "activist journalists" ever made any sense.


Quod licet Iovi ...

Secretary of State Tillerson on January 17:

The United States will maintain a military presence in Syria ... Our military mission in Syria will remain conditions-based.
The United States desires five key end states for Syria: ...

... non licet bovi

State Dep. Spokesperson Heather Nauert on January 21:

[W]e urge Turkey to exercise restraint and ensure that its military operations remain limited in scope and duration [...] We call on all parties to remain focused on the central goal of defeating ISIS.

Today U.S. Secretary of Defense Mattis added this gem of imperial self awareness:

We don't invade other countries, in Russia's case -- Georgia, Ukraine. That we settle things by international rule of law, you know, this sort of thing. And so I think that in terms of great power and competition. One point I want to make is we respect these as sovereign nations with a sovereign voice and sovereign decisions, and we don't think anyone else should have a veto authority over their economic, their diplomatic or their security decisions.

So one of the points I will be making just by being there is we respect these countries, and we respect their sovereignty, their sovereign decisions.


The delusions the Syrian YPG/PKK Kurds have of their position is truly amazing:

[Sinam Mohamad, a senior official in the YPG-backed Syrian Kurdish administration in northern Syria and] currently in Washington with fellow Syrian Kurdish representative Nobahar Mustafa, said the Syrian Kurdish people expected the United States to declare a no-fly zone over the Kurdish-controlled north, “including Afrin.” Mustafa, who was present at the interview, concurred that Afrin “presents a very real and immediate test of US commitment to their Kurdish partners.” The United States “must and can stop Turkey,” Mustafa said.

That statement is a real head scratcher. The main U.S. operation base in the area is the NATO airbase Incerlik in Turkey. Should the U.S. fly its jets from Incerlik to fight off the Turkish jets over Afrin which also take off from Incerlik? And what about Syrian and Russian air defenses that cover the area? Do the Kurds expect the U.S. to start World War III over their inability to compromise with the Syrian government?


Is this diplomatic artistry or are these helpless gestures?

U.S. allied Turkish forces invade Syria to kill and "cleanse" U.S. allied Syrian YPG/PKK Kurds in Afrin. The Trump administration immediately steps in to assure the respective allies of its continued support:

  • Today the Deputy Secretary General of NATO, the U.S. diplomat Rose Gottemoeller, visited Ankara to tell the Turkish allies that everything is fine. The U.S. will stand with them.
  • Today Commander of U.S. Central Command General Votel and U.S. Diplomat Brett McGurk visited Kobane to tell their Syrian YPG/PKK allies that everything is fine. The U.S. will stand with them.

The U.S. also called on ‘both sides for restraint’ after Turkey attacks Afrin.

My hunch is that despite these visits neither the Turks nor the Kurds were happy with their U.S. allies.



The New York Times Editors are very concerned. People with lots of money might get undue representation:

On the same day the NYT publishes a 6,000(!) word promo-piece about that cute (Wahhabi infested) sheikdom of Qatar. The headline is rather revealing:

Posted by b on January 22, 2018 at 19:37 UTC | Permalink


thanks b.. i hope you have a hard copy of the first blurb!

i can't read the nyt articles unless i am a subscriber.. nothing lost there, lol...

i think you are right.. the kurds can see when they have been used... there must be a good amount of divisiveness in their ranks at amount of nice words from the usa is going to change any of it..

i liked the erdogan quote in the rt headline here..

How long will you be in Iraq & Afghanistan? Erdogan rebuffs US call to limit Afrin operation

Posted by: james | Jan 22 2018 20:13 utc | 1

Kurds think that Kurdistan will be the second Israel, how dumb they can be.

Posted by: Chiron | Jan 22 2018 20:17 utc | 2

What's good for Qatar is not good for the US? (And to the points raised earlier in the article, what's good for the US is not what's good for Turkey?)

The US is definitely a world leader when it comes to hypocrisy. Second to none! USA! USA!

Posted by: WorldBLee | Jan 22 2018 20:30 utc | 3

The economic picture that’s shaping up is one sure to make the US-Israeli-Saudi-UAE axis so very unhappy indeed.

Iran and Qatar share the large natural gas field under the Persian Gulf:

So if they cooperate closely, and if Iran in alliance with Iraq, Syria and Lebanon gets its pipeline to the Mediterranean in place, then this ties all these economies together. Power plants, electricity, railroads, ports, pipelines - that’s the ‘Shia Crescent’ that has the American, Israeli, Saudi and UAE governments so alarmed.

However, their main market is still Europe; Europe does want to replace coal with gas but they also have a huge rapidly growing wind energy sector that could undermine everyone’s plans to be the ones to sell them gas, be it from Russia or Qatar or Iran or wherever.

What’s pathetic and criminal is that the US-Israeli-Saudi-UAE alliance resorted to covert regime change and military invasion and the financing of Al Qaeda and ISIS in their (disastrous) attempt to upset this economic project; all they got out of it was a massive refugee crisis - and now Qatar, like Iraq before it, seems to be exiting their sphere in favor of cutting deals with Iran.

As far as geopolitical maneuvering for expanded imperial power, this will all go down in the history books of the early 21st century as an example of imperial overreach and collapse.

Posted by: nonsense factory | Jan 22 2018 21:05 utc | 4

@1 Erdogan went some way to redeem himself with those comments but my sense is the Kurds still get a lot of sympathy for being oppressed, landless and having cute girl fighters.

Under normal circumstances Trump would take some flak for inconsistency but he's promised to move the US embassy to Jerusalem so he'll probably get a pass.

Posted by: dh | Jan 22 2018 21:12 utc | 5

The visit to both the Kurds and Turks are just helpless gestures. IMO, Washington is trying to buy more time for themselves to figure out what to do next.

Posted by: Ian | Jan 22 2018 21:17 utc | 6

"Verified" twitter account and chlorine; The groups in the Idlib area went to the trouble of preparing a list of "shock and horror revelations" in advance, to be re-tweeted during any up-coming Syrian attack. Like boy scouts they were supposed to "be prepared"? Expect more of the same.
Ahh yes, if "they" have US support then both sides will be happy. Undoubtedly the US will send in even more arms "for their security", as in Europe, Ukraine and so on. Double the money for the US taxpayers - but who is counting?
I suspect that the Russians do not like double dealing. The Kurds/SDF have thwarted the Russsian aim of trying to wind down the war. By siding with the US and blocking Russian attempts to cross the Euphrates (including seizing key points on the western Bank, Tabbqa etc) - then becoming a direct cover/proxy for a new ISIS/US and terror grouping, I really do not see why the Russians should feel bound to help them at all.

The Syrian Gov. as you mentioned in the last thread b, must not accept the Turkish "olive branch". However, at the same time, it seems to be allowing the Kurds to get reinforcements from the very small enclave within the Aleppo borders. Whether willingly or by accident is not clear. (Alternative is that arms are coming in from Manbij and the main PKK areas. Unlikely. So are the Arms coming in by air from --- Turkey? (Turkish airspace))

One of the possibilities that was mentioned as a reason for Turkish involvement was "paving the way for a US organised No-fly zone in Syria". So why did Erdogan allegedly call for NATO help if not for this purpose?

Posted by: stonebird | Jan 22 2018 21:26 utc | 7

"Should the U.S. fly its jets from Incerlik to fight off the Turkish jets over Afrin which also take off from Incerlik?"

Why bother? Just taxi some planes onto the runway and then leave them there with the brakes on and the doors locked.

Dead-easiest no-fly-zone of all time......

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 22 2018 21:39 utc | 8

When idiots like Mad Dog Mattis make comments like those above, how can the press corps keep from rolling on the floor laughing their asses off? They must be either stupid or complicit or both.

Posted by: Charles D | Jan 22 2018 21:52 utc | 9

It's nice to use latin sentence, but without immediate translation it is a kind of upper class snobism. I really dislike that. Sorry to tell that, because I like your blog. But why do you force us to search a translation if it is not just to show your intellectual superiority? And do you think you reach that?

Posted by: VincentL | Jan 22 2018 22:06 utc | 10

Shorter VincentL #11, in the words of Homer Simpson:

"Could you dumb it down a shade?"

Posted by: Ort | Jan 22 2018 22:21 utc | 11

Idlib/Afrin operations looks like a win win situation all around for the multi-polar world.
b's post on the 1960's law requiring Assad to protest to prevent a legal land grab by Erdogan pulls it all together.
Erdgan can pull his fanatics from Idlib to attack Afrin without losing face, same as occurred when SAA retook Aleppo. Erdogan gets to block US moves to build a PKK/YPG state on Turkey's border which suits Erdogan and the Pro Syria coalition.

An interesting little piece (Putin interview) in the Russian documentary on Crimea "Crimea Way Back Home". With the coup in Ukraine, Russia had many scenarios gamed out for Crimea. When the coup occurred it was simply a matter of swinging the correct game plan into operation for the scenario.
The same I think is now occurring in Syria.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 22 2018 22:25 utc | 12

I do not understand what you mean, master.

Posted by: VincentL | Jan 22 2018 22:27 utc | 13

Post 13 was addressed to Ort.

Posted by: VincentL | Jan 22 2018 22:29 utc | 14

@b, thank you for the classic latin quote, its refreshing that the wisdom of the Romans is not entirely forgotton. I can recommend some of Cicero's speeches also, they are dripping, but just Julius Caesars Gallic war chronicles are a very good read.

The inconsistencies to point to does not really matter because the audience is neither you, me or any other human being, capable of using a search. It is for Joe sixpack, back in US, it does not even take Europe into consideration either, even though it is possible to find relatively unbiased reporting here.
The hypocrisy of the US reaches new heights, I choose to see this as a kind of desperation or bewilderment on how to tackle this situation and put the saucer back together.
I dont think Erdogan will buy this bs, I dont know what kind of pressure they can put on him though, on the other hand he can go all out and leave Nato, which would be unprecedented and could break the alliance.
As for the Kurds, the chose black and red came out, they are in for a ton of hurt, not by the Turks but by the Arabs in general, that will see this as outright treason.
Russia , thank heavens, (And I am not religious) have been cool headed and done little.This situation is very, very dangerous for all of us.
Btw I wonder what the Chinese make of it...

Posted by: Den Lille Abe | Jan 22 2018 22:32 utc | 15

Always wondered why Dante called his amazing poem The Divine Comedy; the antics of today's actors have several parallels within those pages with special niches within Hell designed just for them.

Imagine how different events would be if the EU had allowed Turkey to become a member several decades ago. Instead, centuries-long foes Russia and Turkey are on track to becoming allies!

After Idlib: Back to the Eastern desert to finish off Daesh and rollback SDF, or roll Eastward along the Turkish border displacing FSA/Turks and reclaiming total sovereignty from Kurds/Outlaw US Empire; or perhaps both at the same time?

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 22 2018 22:34 utc | 16

@Vincent L 11
The use of the Latin quotes hs nothing to do with elitism, more sort of the way we are schooled in Europe. I had Latin for 4 years during school, and unless your country has a very good translation of some of the classicals it is the only way to go...
Kind of Shakespeare is best read in English, much is usually lost in translation

Posted by: Den Lille Abe | Jan 22 2018 22:42 utc | 17

@Den Lille Abe #18

I understand you. Personally, I never had the chance to learn any Latin or Greek and I regret it. I do not dislike the Latin quotes - it is even the opposite - i just want it translated. Consider that people are reading this blog from everywhere (i do hope) - and probably many are not enough good in English that they need some patience and tenacity to follow it in a foreign language. If you do add on that, the compulsory knowledge of Latin quotes, it is like closing a door. Do you think that my reply now is easy like the flow of water in a river? like if should be in my mother language? It is a pain actually. But, anyway, in English like in French, linguistic hypercoerrection remain linguistic hypercorrection - a social classes problem. But Ort, reply to me by treating me of short - he does not even know how true it is. Isn't it a goal here to rise people and not downgrade them by calling them short? Am I clear? Why is it perceived as aggressive?

Posted by: VincentL | Jan 22 2018 23:03 utc | 18

At this point, only an idiot would still believe the duplicitous Anglo-Zionist snakes.

"Non-agreement capable", as the free translation from Russian goes...

Posted by: LXV | Jan 22 2018 23:11 utc | 19

@VincentL #19

He wasn't calling you names, in the context it's used in 'shorter' means 'shorten it (Vincent)'.
In order to know this yourself, please don't forget your humility, but leave your ego at the front door the next time you're visiting the bar. Thank you!

Posted by: LXV | Jan 22 2018 23:19 utc | 20

>>>> james | Jan 22, 2018 3:13:54 PM | 1

i can't read the nyt articles unless i am a subscriber.. nothing lost there, lol...

You can if you want - using Chrome and going Incognito allows you to view five article at a time and since it's nothing more than an American propaganda organ I have no qualms about breaching the paywall.

The article could have been worse - at least the strapline refers to the Persian Gulf rather than Arabian Gulf - I'm sure the Saudi ambassador will have words with the editor about that.

BTW, what's happening with the first load of LNG from Yamal to arrive in Britain? It looks like the gas was off-loaded at London Thamesport and then loaded on to a French LNG called the Gaselys which first sailed to Algeciras, parked up for a while before setting off across the Atlantic to Boston. But now it's being reported by the FT that Gaselys has reversed course and is now heading back to Spain. The last transmission from the Automatic Identification System was about a week ago.

Google "Gas from Russian Arctic to warm homes in Boston" to access the FT article.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Jan 22 2018 23:23 utc | 21


Damn, my English is worse than I thought. Thank you, unfortunately your advice came a glass of wine too late. Please, accept my apologies - particularly to Ort.

Posted by: VincentL | Jan 22 2018 23:32 utc | 22

just random (like these oddities) and uneducated thoughts. What I see is russian military give up their presence in afrin and nato-partners - whatever close that relation may be now - rush in. Guess in these cases it's hard to tell whose outrage or demands are real and what is kabuki. in the end i'd expect some settlement among the nato parties like "kurds withdraw a bit, turkey establishes presence, russian/syrian presence driven out". that would be favorable to the "assad must go" side.
But maybe erdogan/administration really is emotional about the kurds but overall I think they're not that stupid as to have them played against the US by russian genius diplomacy. we'll see in a while...

Posted by: radiator | Jan 22 2018 23:34 utc | 23

1. James, put/open the nyt in 'New Private Window' it works for me

Posted by: col | Jan 22 2018 23:46 utc | 24

Den Lille Abe @16:

I believe the Chinese don't care now.   Their win-win strategy works regardless of who's in power in that part of the World.   As for the Afrin region, it doesn't overall negatively affect their BRI project because there are other trade routes to the European market.   If the US succeeds in creating a Kurdistan, the Chinese would just alter their plan and work around it.   Eventually, those that sit out of the BRI project, will observe the wealth generated for the participants, and will want a piece of the action.   It is this reason why US attempts to block China's BRI will fail.   It remind me of Bruce Lee's advice:

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup.   When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle.   When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot.   Water can drip and it can crash.   Become like water my friend.”

Posted by: Ian | Jan 22 2018 23:55 utc | 25

Keep on pointing out the "activist reporters." The US media didn't mention this until their main Syrian efforts started winding down. And most Americans probably didn't notice.

Tell the Kurds one thing and the Turks something else. Reminds me of the "white man speaks with forked tongue thing." The Kurds must have a short memory. It was Team Bush who encouraged them to fight Saddam (without US backing). Eventually they got a no-fly zone but they should have learned to find their own ways to relate to their neighbors. I wonder how much the Israelis egg them on.

Posted by: Curtis | Jan 22 2018 23:58 utc | 26

Most amusing B, better than any ficticious comedy.

Posted by: Pnyx | Jan 23 2018 0:16 utc | 27

Charles D @ 10: Matt Lee seems to be the only one in the Washington press corps who has a brain. The rest of them are stenographers.

Posted by: Jen | Jan 23 2018 0:19 utc | 28

@ VincentL | 23

Sorry, I didn't mean to cause confusion with my joke.

Posted by: Ort | Jan 23 2018 0:22 utc | 29

@6 dh... lol... yeah trump gets a pass, and erdogan - who knows what surprise he might offer here in any of it..

@22 ghostship. thanks.. i got it now.. - fascinating details in your post as well.. thanks.

@25 col.. thanks! yes - that works..

@29 jen... i happen to follow the daily briefings and you are right matt lee is one of the only ones, but there is another person that has been rocking the boat too - a few of them actually on a few different topics...

here is from someone in the press by the name of josh..

" OPERATOR: Josh, your line is open for us.

QUESTION: Hey, thank you guys for doing the call. I’m wondering about the – this box that you have backed yourselves into where you actually now need a continuing threat from ISIS in one form or another to justify everything else you’re doing in Syria, both from a policy perspective but especially from a legal one. I mean, we’re talking on this call about stabilizing a country that’s still in a civil war, limiting Iran’s influence, keeping the country sort of going until some type of election many years down the line. But how do you – does that then require you to continue to say that there’s a threat from ISIS even once the group is essentially defeated in order to be able to do the rest of those things, and is there any discussion about trying to actually get some type of a new authorization for us to be there to do all of these things that seem on their face to go quite a bit beyond fighting a terrorist group? Thanks.

read the link for a laugh at the response he gets if interested... this is from friday just past..

Posted by: james | Jan 23 2018 0:29 utc | 30

@31 Erdogan is actually in quite a good position if he's careful. The Turks can squeeze the Kurdish militants out of Afrin with some help from Turkmen and Arabs. Russia has stepped aside and the US is paralysed. Assad just wants them to leave when they've cleaned up.

Posted by: dh | Jan 23 2018 0:41 utc | 31

Contrary to their affirmation, the YPG was NOT invited to Sochi. Will the other invited Syrian Kurds boycott Sochi by solidariry with Afrin?

Syrian Kurds blame Russia for Afrin attack, vow not to go to Sochi

Posted by: virgile | Jan 23 2018 1:36 utc | 32

>>>> Peter AU 1 | Jan 22, 2018 5:25:20 PM | 13

b's post on the 1960's law requiring Assad to protest to prevent a legal land grab by Erdogan pulls it all together.

There was no law in the 1960s.

In 1950 Britain and France went to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for friendly discussions to decide to which country the Minquiers and Ecrehos belonged. The French fished in the waters, but Jersey exercised various administrative rights. The ICJ considered the historical evidence, and in its Judgment of 17 November 1953 awarded the islands to Jersey (as represented by the United Kingdom).

Prescription, the principle of international law applied in both cases, relates to peaceful, public and long-term change of control, which isn't the case in Afrin.

You can read about the Island of Palmas Case (1932) here. Nothing at all like what is happening in Afrin.

The relevant law is the UN Charter which prevents countries that acquire land through war from gaining sovereignty over that land.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Jan 23 2018 1:44 utc | 33

In very democratic (you read apartheid) state of Israel the Arab members of Israel’ parliament Knesset protesting VP Pence stand on Jerusalem, were forcefully thrown out.

Posted by: kooshy | Jan 23 2018 1:52 utc | 34

9: Or just have the Turkish and American pilots engage in a bar fight at the Incerlik officers' club.

Posted by: Bart Hansen | Jan 23 2018 1:57 utc | 35

@10 Charles

you made me laugh out loud and nearly roll on the floor with your comment, I thought almost exactly the same thing but in much less friendly terms - they are the evil Empire's willing helpers. of course, or else, as Herman and Chomsky have repeatedly pointed out, they would not have risen to their high position/s in the mainstream media - a truly critical (and non-partisan) voice is seldom heard in DC

Posted by: michaelj72 | Jan 23 2018 1:57 utc | 36

Thanks ghostship.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 23 2018 2:00 utc | 37

Mad Dog Mattis is on a roll ...

“Great power competition—not terrorism—is now the primary focus of US national security,” Mattis said in his speech,...Mattis warned, “If you challenge us, it will be your longest and worst day.

He trotted out one of his favorite lines (I still like McMaster's 'we haven't fought in Afghanistan for 16yrs, we have fought the same war 16 times'

I thought Mattis' like was supposed to be reserved for countries we were actually engaged in combat with, apparently, we are reduced to making threats to countries like Russia and China who have the audacity to resent our presence hovering on their borders. How dare you resist us!

At this point, I am fatalistic, just sit back and enjoy the show, we are the Soviet Union, I can't believe that we don't realize it. We are like the kids on Pleasure Island who don't know that we are being turned into beasts.

Posted by: Christian Chuba | Jan 23 2018 2:06 utc | 38

the ex-ambassador has some wise words and observations; this all might turn out very badly for US policy and the US forces in Syria

.....How does all this add up? To my mind, both Russia and Iran will simply sit back and watch as Erdogan goes about crushing the US’ main proxy (Kurdish militia) in northern Syria. Indeed, they have nothing to lose if a nasty showdown ensues between the US and Turkey, two big NATO powers. On the other hand, if Turkey succeeds in vanquishing the Kurdish militia, US will have no option but to vacate northern Syria, which will also work to the advantage of Russia and Iran.

Succinctly put, Trump administration has bitten more than it could chew by its unwise decision to keep the US military presence in Syria indefinitely “to counter Assad, Iran.” Tehran knows fully well that if the US is forced to vacate Syria, the US-Israeli project against Iran will become a joke in the Middle East bazaar......

Posted by: michaelj72 | Jan 23 2018 2:19 utc | 39

michaelj72 no. 40

Do you think Erdogan is trustworthy enough to vacate northern Syria after the Kurds are defeated?

Posted by: sleepy | Jan 23 2018 3:39 utc | 40

Seem to me The turks prime objective might be to knock the kurds around a little but also to prevent the Syrians from reclaiming their sovereignty over the region again. you never hear talk of Turkey being suspended or booted out of NATO for doing stuff presumably against DC's wishes.

Posted by: Heath | Jan 23 2018 3:47 utc | 41

@Christian C 39
Mattis: “If you challenge us, it will be your longest and worst day.”

Mattis-talk is like the flavor of the month: "We're not occupying that place [Syria]. We're just making certain that it's turned over responsibly to the locals and that the locals have a seat at the table in Geneva.". . .here
Perhaps Mattis reads Bhadrakumar?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 23 2018 3:48 utc | 42

sleepy 41

By the time Turkey has defeated the Kurds, SAA will have defeated the pockets of jihadists in Syria. If Turkey defeats the Kurds, that means the US has left.
Leaving Turkey all on its lonesome in an illegal occupation for Syria, Iran, Russia to focus their attention on.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 23 2018 4:03 utc | 43

OT @all genuine commenters.
Be aware of perhaps being tag teamed by two separate user names - one perhaps your own.
First comment to set you up, the other user name to try and take you down.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 23 2018 5:47 utc | 44

Department of War is in Virginia, south of Potomac river, and Department of Foreign Meddling is in Foggy Bottom (first time I have read about it, I though it was a sarcasm) in D.C., north of Potomac, and "never the twain shall meet."

Consequently, those that desire American help have to have at least two teams to work on it (I hesitate to advise if the team handling DoW should refer to itself as "diplomats", or not). Of course, there are more spots in the greater Washington area that have to be covered, e.g. you may have bosom friends in Pentagon, secure positive statements from DoFM and yet get economic sanctions from yet another entity, then there is CIA and so on. Sometimes even the President may be inclined to influence foreign policy, but the intricacies on American side may thwart even the brightest of them.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jan 23 2018 5:54 utc | 45

I am in no dobt that Turkey will leave when its military operation is over, there i a logic in Turkeys actions after all, having just defied the Evil Empire, I cant see Turkey antagonizing both Russia and Iran, by a land grab. When the Russian Friend or Foe signals are recalled, it will be moot anyway, no when the Kurds have taken som smacking he will draw back and hopefully hand the territory over to Assad, who will be so relieved that he will forgive Erdogan.
And the losesers: Kurdish movements supporting independence, hopefully federalist factions of the Kurds will attend Socchi and work something out there. The autonomy the idiotic Catalans had/have in Spain is very high, statehood in all but name.

Posted by: Den Lille Abe | Jan 23 2018 6:07 utc | 46

When idiots like Mad Dog Mattis make comments like those above, how can the press corps keep from rolling on the floor laughing their asses off? They must be either stupid or complicit or both.

Posted by: Charles D | Jan 22, 2018 4:52:10 PM | 10

It is analogous to "they have no tears left". They have nothing left to "laugh off".

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jan 23 2018 7:12 utc | 47

Is this the same Assad Hanna? The guy is a “journalist” embedded with the faux-humanitarian White Helmets.

“Proud to be part of you guys....White Helmets.”

Posted by: Sue | Jan 23 2018 9:55 utc | 48

Re: Posted by: dh | Jan 22, 2018 7:41:43 PM | 32

@31 Erdogan is actually in quite a good position if he's careful. The Turks can squeeze the Kurdish militants out of Afrin with some help from Turkmen and Arabs. Russia has stepped aside and the US is paralysed. Assad just wants them to leave when they've cleaned up.

Haha. The Turks are never going to leave Northern Syria. Why would they? They should leave Northern Syria when the US leaves Japan, Korea, Germany etc.

Posted by: Julian | Jan 23 2018 11:32 utc | 49

Re: Posted by: Ghost Ship | Jan 22, 2018 8:44:38 PM | 34

The relevant law is the UN Charter which prevents countries that acquire land through war from gaining sovereignty over that land.

Not quite true. After the Turks occupy Afrin they should hold a referendum in the occupied areas and ask whatever residents are left what they think.

Do they want to remain part of Syria or become part of Turkey.

This prospect hasn't been mooted yet, but I can already guarantee how this vote will go.

The residents of North-West Syria will vote to become a part of Turkey.

So who would we be to argue against them? This sort of post-facto justification has been used elsewhere afterall........

Posted by: Julian | Jan 23 2018 11:37 utc | 50

Re: Posted by: sleepy | Jan 22, 2018 10:39:34 PM | 41

Who exactly is going to make Turkey leave? Syria? Yeah right. Russia? The folks signing gas deals with Turkey? Yeah right.

So who?

Northern Syria, at least the North-Western pocket is being returned to the "Ottoman Empire". Afterall, Afrin was ruled from Istanbul 100 years ago.....

Posted by: Julian | Jan 23 2018 11:43 utc | 51

Feel free to delete my comment 54 if necessary, I agree with integer in @52.

Kurds in Afrin; Actually, they are not necessarily "good guys" as they are accused of forced displacements of inhabitants, "creeping" nationalism. (by replacing car numberplates and "Governmental offices") and increasing armed strength.
The Syrians were asked to put up several flags, send in a small army contingent or two, and so take responsibility for the fighting against Turkey. Which is why they refused.
It is not at all clear if they (YPG) are separate from the PKK, as they must have been getting arms from somewhere.

Idle thought, Will Erdogan use any territory gained from Afrin to house the million (-and a half?) Syrian refugees now on his territory, but who have been refused entry to the EU ?

Posted by: stonebird | Jan 23 2018 11:43 utc | 52

The Russdians have delivered more S-400 systems to Tartus via the Yamal on the Syria Express. Are these for:

i) training Russian S-400 crews in near combat conditions?
ii) training Syrians so they will be up and running when they get their S-400 export systems?
iii) both of the above?

Answers on a postcard to Boobie Mielekowski, Tel Aviv.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jan 23 2018 15:14 utc | 53

@39 CC - excellent analogy... the westerners drinking the "koolaid" have no idea they are turning into braying jackasses... you can witness the spectacle in real-time on Twitter... their blindness is absolutely stunning, and sad at the same time

@44 PA - thanks for that win-win gem

Posted by: xLemming | Jan 23 2018 15:15 utc | 54

Seems like the Pentagon didn't respond to SecState Tillerson's reversal on the creation of the Kurdish Syria Border Force. A recent (Jan 20) graduation ceremony was quite open in referring to the concept of border forces. "This force will be a foundational force to protect the borders of north Syria" here. "There are today threats on Syria's borders in Afrin, Jarabulus, Kobani, Ras al-Ayn, all of Jazeera [canton], even Idlib. For this reason, the establishment of the border guard forces is a legitimate right for the SDF." Tillerson, Jan 17: "Some people misspoke. We are not creating a border security force at all." here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 23 2018 15:34 utc | 55

This Ron Paul youtube discussion, Turkey v Syrian Kurds: Whose side are you on? Is very good and mentions 'Moon Of Alabama's' quotes on US and Turkish aircraft leaving Incirlik airbase on contrarily different missions.

Posted by: harrylaw | Jan 23 2018 15:39 utc | 56

Fort Russ is reporting that foreign soldiers are appearing in the YPG ranks. They don't source the story so I won't give a link - it's in today's stories over there.

Apologies if this is old news, or unimportant - it seems important to me but I suppose that depends on media coverage. I haven't seen it anywhere but I'm not following the battles closely.

In general the situation is so filled with benefits for the axis of resistance and Turkey that it seems unnecessary to pick at details. If in fact Turkey can defeat the Kurds and their foreign mercenaries, the geopolitical situation in reality (not in Mattis schoolboy-speak) will have advanced to an entirely new plane. Its a wondrous move we're privileged to watch here.

Posted by: Grieved | Jan 23 2018 15:52 utc | 57

The US destroyed Raqqa and doesn't know how to rebuild it.
“I will point out to you [that] the people on the ground in Northern Syria is the United States. But there are others who should be doing some more here, and need to do more. This is a problem.” -- Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command located in Tampa, Florida. . .here
article quote: It will require a herculean effort to rebuild Raqqa, much less end the war in Syria. The U.S. entered the fray four years ago with a bombing campaign that escalated into a relentless assault. Block after block, entire multi-story apartment buildings lay fallen in pancaked heaps. //
Raqqa completely destroyed?
alJazeerah, Sep 20: "The avoidance of civilian casualties is our highest priority when conducting strikes against legitimate military targets with precision munitions, unlike the indiscriminate nature of ISIS tactics which result in an enormous number of avoidable civilian deaths," the press office of the Combined Joint Task Force, Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) said. . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 23 2018 16:04 utc | 58

Well let's see -- if Turkey can act against US forces threatening Turkey's border then is Syria/Russia/Iran justified in attacking US forces within Syria's borders? . . .Sure.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 23 2018 16:13 utc | 59

"Chinese military attache in Moscow: China and Russia should stand together against the US to ensure peace in their regions and in the world"

Seen as a logical step in light of the continuation of decades long Outlaw US Empire policy to rule the planet. But will this become more than a trial balloon?

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 23 2018 16:14 utc | 60

Posted by: Julian | Jan 23, 2018 6:37:19 AM | 51

Not quite true. After the Turks occupy Afrin they should hold a referendum in the occupied areas and ask whatever residents are left what they think.

I think not. Turkey tried that in Cyprus and it didn't work. There is only one state that recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and that is Turkey itself. The rest of the world except for the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic regards northern Cyprus as part of the Republic of Cyprus.

The Russian annexation of Crimea and the United States recognizing Jerusalem, including East Jerusalem as the capital of Israel are both breaches of the UN Charter and against legislated international law.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Jan 23 2018 16:39 utc | 61

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 22, 2018 4:39:36 PM | 9

Why bother? Just taxi some planes onto the runway and then leave them there with the brakes on and the doors locked.

Dead-easiest no-fly-zone of all time......

Shortest no-fly zone of all time. Truck in a couple of Caterpillar D10s and tow the aircraft out of the way. If you want to be kind pull it from straight ahead, if you want to be nasty, get it on some wet ground and then pull it sideways. I'm sure there are other ways of moving them involving disc cutters, shot guns, angle grinders pneumatic shears or even a call in the British Fire Brigade, they'll have the aircraft roof off in a jiffy.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Jan 23 2018 16:54 utc | 62

@59 harrylaw

Thank you for the link. I don't mean this in the denigrating sense when I say that Ron Paul has always had his heart in the right place. It was especially warming to hear him mention North and South Korea coming together for the games in SK. I pray they go off without a hitch.

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Jan 23 2018 17:13 utc | 63

This is probably old news also, but I'll add it here anyway -

Two interesting characters in the drama are obviously Erdogan and Trump. In spite of my inheritance of a prime bit of real estate in the Everglades, I'll 'give it a shifty' as they say where I come from.(translation: take a good look).

Erdogan had just publicly reminded the US that he was not in power when Iraq was invaded. That reminds me that then Turkey refused to let the US invade from the north. Is Erdogan saying that he regrets US involvement, not only in Syria, but also in Turkey? Seems so.

And Trump. He has been an actor on tv (maybe all his life) lampooning entreprenurial power. He is perfectly trained to have the same success in his new role as president. Shakespeare showed that fools can speak truth to power with impunity, and he certainly knows where power lies. I say again - it's how he got where he got; to coin a phrase, it's his modus operandi (translation just given).

As a friend here says often, pass the popcorn!

Posted by: Juliania | Jan 23 2018 17:20 utc | 64

To be clear: "...Trump certainly knows where power lies..."

Posted by: Juliania | Jan 23 2018 17:29 utc | 65

>>>> Juliania | Jan 23, 2018 12:20:20 PM | 68

I'll 'give it a shifty' as they say where I come from.

Being a pedant where I come from the correct term is "give it a shufti/shufty". It's a borrowed word from Arabic (shufti) meaning have you seen and was appropriated by British service men (probably RAF) stationed in the Middle East.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Jan 23 2018 18:04 utc | 66

From AMN news
"According to reports from Al-Hasakah, the Turkish Army crowded the border-crossing at Ras Al-‘Ayn and began shelling this part of the province.

The Turkish Army has also shelled the densely populated city of Al-Qamishli on several occasions today."

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 23 2018 18:26 utc | 67

Everybody seems to assume that the Turkish will be successful in their invasion of Afrin but will they? They might have air power but it's nowhere near as effective as American air power unless Erdogan is willing to burn through millions of dollars worth of PGMs if indeed he actually has access to PGMs in great enough quantities. After all with the bombing campaign/no-fly-zone in Libya the British and French ran out of PGMs pretty quickly and it was the arrival of the Americans on the scene that allowed the bombing campaign to continue to its inglorious conclusion. As for armour, the Turkish Army fields a mixture of obsolete tanks upgraded by the Israelis and some Leopards which while capable do not have the gold standard for tank armour British Chobham armour. There were reports back in the early days of the invasion of Iraq that a British Challenger 2 tank was hit thirty two times by RPG 7 projectiles and kept on going. The fighters on the Turkish side seem to be mostly FSA/NSA/whatever and from the video clips I've seen in the last few days are not exactly the most capable soldiers. And with the recent purge of the Turkish Army, what capabilities does the Turkish Army retain?
There have been reports that Hezbollah have been seen in Afrin and if their success against the Israelis in Lebanon in 2006 and their vast combat experience in the last few years are any guide, do the Turkish irregular forces stand a chance if Hezbollah have designed the SDFs defences?
Maybe the reason Assad and Putin have let this happen is that they know that the Turkish forces and Erdogan will receive a bloody nose and it can't be blamed on the Syrians and Russians.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Jan 23 2018 18:39 utc | 68

Grieved says:

If in fact Turkey can defeat the Kurds and their foreign mercenaries, the geopolitical situation in reality (not in Mattis schoolboy-speak) will have advanced to an entirely new plane. Its a wondrous move we're privileged to watch here

curious choice of words...i'd be thrilled to tears for you to tell me what's wondrous about it, and why i should feel priviledged to watch it.

it's a fucking war, dude, people are dying.

Posted by: john | Jan 23 2018 18:39 utc | 69

Any agreement bet. Turkey and syria ref Afrin wld be about resettlement of the pro rebel refugees now in Turkish camps
Tillerson s word escalation today aimed at amending any possible deal, plus media chemical campaign that has been launched in french and uk media lately

Posted by: Mina | Jan 23 2018 18:45 utc | 70

>>>> Juliania | Jan 23, 2018 12:20:20 PM | 68

(translation: take a good look).

Being a pedant where I come from the correct translation is give it a brief/cursory/quick look.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Jan 23 2018 18:46 utc | 71

@77 dh

The fact that reacharounds are provided by the community here attests to the quality of person in each of the coauthors. The shock-jock is merely envious what with only his solo-sessions.

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Jan 23 2018 19:16 utc | 72

@73 Yes indeed...but that's the big problem for dead English comedians. They run out of jokes.

Posted by: dh | Jan 23 2018 19:24 utc | 73

>>>> Peter AU 1 | Jan 23, 2018 1:26:44 PM | 68

The Turkish Army has also shelled the densely populated city of Al-Qamishli on several occasions today."

Ah al Quamishli, one of the two Syrian government outpost in eastern Syria. Perhaps the SAA should ask the Russians to fly in some heavy artillery to defend the airport and outpost, after all the SAG wouldn't want to lose it to the Turkish or their prozies. Since the road from Nusaybin to al Quamishli passes straight into SAG territory on crossing the border, it would be an obvious act of aggression against a sovereign state and might put the United States and NATO in an awkward position.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Jan 23 2018 20:05 utc | 74

@76 and speaking of Dolphins...

I know this is OT and not an open thread, but has anyone here heard anything more about the Hawaii "false" alarm? The reason I ask, is I came across a guy named Jim Stone (no URL, IP only who is adamant there was indeed a missile launched, from a Dolphin (Israeli) sub. The missile was intercepted (witnessed by 2 parties). He also claims that that sub was taken out as well. I know, I know, far fetched stuff, but not out of the realm of possibility given what went down with 9/11, and all the chaos that ensued from that. Another false flag attempt perhaps, but framing NK, at the cost of several thousand in Hawaii? Any and all thoughts on this & Jim would be appreciated...

PS - I am NOT a troll, but an inquisitive & admiring bar patron, who pays his way

Posted by: xLemming | Jan 23 2018 20:26 utc | 75

Grieved @58:

No one should be surprised by foreign soldiers in YPG ranks.   The US have been caught red-handed working with the Kurds for some time.

karlof1 @61:

The Chinese pushing for a military alliance with Russia?   I always thought the SCO had a military component to it.   I guess the SCO isn't enough for their security needs, or maybe they want a separate organization, strictly military, sans India.   Did the Chinese miscalculate in allowing India into the SCO?

Ghost Ship @69:

You're correct that it's too early to say if Turkey will succeed in Afrin or not.   There's no word on the number of troops Turkey have committed.   Maybe Erdogan is counting on their proxy to do the heavy lifting.

Posted by: Ian | Jan 23 2018 20:53 utc | 76

Ian @77--

SCO's military component is strictly anti-terrorist, same as with CSTO. Similar Russia/China defense alliance trial balloons have been floated before but never when stakes are as high as now. Last December 12, SCO held its 1st Defence and Security Forum.

SCO membership granted to India and Pakistan I believe to be good moves that will play out in the longer term, particularly when Iran and Afghanistan join. Modi's political position is eroding and SCO membership is in India's national interest, as is joining BRI instead of trying to somehow go around it. Gaining a few Southeast Asian SCO members would be very beneficial, too. The additional dialog venue SCO provides is crucial to the maintenance of Peace within Asia along with commerce expansion. Too much of its operations go unreported outside of Asian press, making its importance hard to determine presently.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 23 2018 21:37 utc | 77

karlof1 @78:

Ah.   Thank you for the clarification.   Although it seems like a good idea, such an alliance would work against them.   If you want NATO to disband, creating a military alliance would give the Trans-Atlantic hawks the political ammunition needed to keep NATO relevant.

Although admitting both India and Pakistan into the SCO is a good idea for the long term, they both should have resolved their differences first before ascension.   Currently, both of them are exchanging fire in some disputed area right now.   It must be awkward for their SCO representatives.

Posted by: Ian | Jan 23 2018 22:16 utc | 78

Ian @79--

Yeah, the same could be said of China and India border dispute and entire Afghanistan imbroglio. Some issues, like those plaguing Pak/India relations, will take time, imagination and willingness to solve. But part of its reason for existing is to provide that additional venue to negotiate without the previous imperialist overlords looking on from the sidelines like every other venue. Wikipedia's SCO article provides a good general background and a very good collection of articles in its References and Further Reading sections. You'll likely be interested to read "Mearsheimer, John (2016), "Shanghai Cooperation Organisation was never designed to compete with NATO", RT Interview" linked in that latter section.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 23 2018 23:02 utc | 79

Follow up on 77:

It's been reported that Turkey has committed 6,400 troops.

Posted by: Ian | Jan 24 2018 1:17 utc | 80

Thanks, Ghost Ship, I never knew the phrase had such an interesting history! I was inclined to leaveoff the 'good', should have done that.😑

Posted by: Juliania | Jan 24 2018 5:16 utc | 81

Sorry about the extended link, in a rush, have to go and pick up my car after a service.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Jan 24 2018 15:05 utc | 83

#83 Ghost Ship

That, with an "and, but". And Syrian Army is halting its Idlib operations, according to AMN, with a new cease fire agreement with FSA. Tiger Force being sent elsewhere. But, Russia is asking Turkey to open the M5, which bisects Idlib; we'll see. If I were Russia, I would demand Turkish escorts to convoys moving in 24 hrs. If I were Syrian field commander, I wouldn't assume I can turn my back on the Turks or their "friends".

Posted by: empbub | Jan 24 2018 21:17 utc | 84

the latest from al masdar

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:00 A.M.) – U.S. President Donald Trump urged his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to limit his military operations in Syria and to avoid clashes with the U.S. forces in the northern part of the country.

“He urged Turkey to deescalate, limit its military actions, and avoid civilian casualties,” a White House statement said, as quoted by Reuters News Agency.

“He urged Turkey to exercise caution and to avoid any actions that might risk conflict between Turkish and American forces,” the statement added.

Trump’s warning to the Erodgan regime is first time that the U.S. President has directly responded to Ankara’s latest military operation in Syria.

Posted by: james | Jan 24 2018 22:13 utc | 85


Erdogan may be a Class-A asshole, but there's a part of me that wish to see him give the Washington Establishment, that Universal Salute. Ultimately, I would love to see the World do the same.

Posted by: Ian | Jan 24 2018 22:46 utc | 86

@87 ian.. i am with you there!!!

Posted by: james | Jan 25 2018 0:32 utc | 87

only problem: SAA has no chlorine factory to make chem weapons..only such plant SYSACCO taken over by 'rebels' 2012 ergo SAA didnt make any CL attack: so #fakenews

Posted by: brian | Jan 25 2018 2:33 utc | 88

Cant help but wonder if this the beginning of the major clusterfuck of our Times. Sigh..

Posted by: Lozion | Jan 25 2018 7:29 utc | 89

Black and white sof all around in 2011?
With helmets?

Posted by: Mina | Jan 25 2018 8:13 utc | 90

@90 "The Russian annexation of Crimea..are both breaches of the UN Charter".

You need to read up. Kosovo created a precedent. There is a UN decision that ultimately, it is the people that live on the territory that decide where they belong. And that argument was used to separate Kosovo from Serbia, as it were the Kosovars that wanted that separation.

The people of Crimea overwhelmingly voted to get out of Ukraine and asked to get back to Russia. (you can always say the vote was rigged, but nobody has been able to bring proof, and nobody has seen many locals contesting the outcome). V. Putin explicitly cited the Kosovo precedent when re-integrating Crimea into Russia.

So you may complain that UN has crazy rules, but Russia played by the rules. That the West got snookered by their own rules, well, not the first nor the last time.

Posted by: Jeff | Jan 25 2018 8:24 utc | 91

The comments to this entry are closed.