Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 21, 2018

Syria - Turks Attack Afrin, U.S. Strategy Fails, Kurds Again Chose The Losing Side

After negotiations between Russia/Syria and the Kurds of Afrin had failed, the Russian side made a deal with Turkey. Now Turkey attacks Afrin while everyone else looks aside. The main impetus for this development was the announcement of a U.S. occupation in north-east Syria with the help of the Kurdish YPG/PKK. The occupation strategy is already failing. The Kurds made the false choice. They will be the losers of this game.

We had wrongly predicted that Turkish threats against the Kurdish held north-west area of Afrin were empty:

The threat is not serious:
  • ...
  • Afrin is under formal protection of Russian and Syrian forces.
  • The real danger to Turkey is not Afrin but the much larger Kurdish protectorate the U.S. publicly announced in north-east Syria.

The Turkish threats and its artillery noise have led to counter noise from Syria and more silent advice from Russia. The Syrian government wants to show that it is the protector of all Syrian citizens be they ethnic Arabs or Kurds. Russia is proud of its role as the grown up who is calming down all sides.

Turkey is now attacking the Afrin canton in full force. With help from one George Orwell the operation was dubbed "Olive Branch"


The Turkish operation to go after Afrin was triggered by two events. The more important one was the U.S. announcement of a permanent occupation of north-east Syria with the help of a 30,000 men strong SDF "border protection force" consisting of mainly Kurds and some Arabs who earlier fought under ISIS. We had noted at that time:

The Turks were not consulted before the U.S. move and are of course not amused that a "terrorist gang", trained and armed by the U.S., will control a long stretch of their southern border. Any Turkish government would have to take harsh measures to prevent such a strategic threat to the country.

The U.S. move was amateurish. It ignored the security needs of its NATO ally Turkey in exchange for an illegal and unsustainable occupation of north-east Syria. Secretary of State Tillerson tried to calm the Turks by claiming that the "border protection force" was not for border protection. Reports from the training ground expose that as a lie:

"This force will be a foundational force to protect the borders of north Syria," proclaimed the announcer at the graduation ceremony.

A second motive for the Turkish operation was the success of the Syrian army in the east-Idleb where "Free Syrian Army" and al-Qaeda Takfiris supported by Turkey were eliminated by Syrian Army attacks.

The now unfolding Turkish operation was preceded by several rounds of negotiations.

The Syrian government and its Russian allies offered the Afrin Kurds to protect them from any Turkish attacks:

Nearly a week ago, [a] meeting between Russian officials and Kurdish leaders took place. Moscow suggested Syrian State becomes only entity in charge of the northern border. The Kurds refused. It was immediately after that that the Turkish Generals were invited to Moscow. Having the Syrian State in control of its Northern Border wasn't the only Russian demand. The other was that the Kurds hand back the oil fields in Deir al Zor. The Kurds refused suggesting that the US won't allow that anyway. The meeting was not exactly a success.

This account was confirmed by Kurdish negotiators:

Aldar Xelil (@Xelilaldar), member of the Democratic Free Society Tev-Dem: “In a meeting Russia proposed to the Afrin Administration that if Afrin is ruled by the Syrian regime, Turkey won’t attack it. #Afrin Canton Administration refused this proposal.”

The Kurds made a counteroffer. They would raise some Syrian flags and give up on the (mostly destroyed) Menagh air force base they hold but they were unwilling to give up any border control:

A translation from the Diken newspaper:

Amberin Zaman talked to Rojava officials Nobahar Mustafa and Sinam Mohammed. They say:
  • Russia aims to weaken the YPG and to turn Afrin over to "the regime."
  • We're still in negotiations with Russia. They said if you turn over Afrin to the regime it will protect you. We refused. We offered to turn over Menagh airbase and some other checkpoints but they refused.
  • We may pull out of Sochi
  • New alliances will be formed with Saudi, UAE, and Egypt.
  • Rojava forces commander General Mazlum and Ilham Ahmed have met Brett McGurk to ask the US to stop the Turkish attacks. This is a test of how reliable an ally the US is.

After the negotiations with the Kurds had failed Syria and Russia, which was the negotiating entity, made a deal with Turkey. Turkey had agreed to a de-escalation zone in Idleb but never proceeded to set up the promised observation posts in the al-Qaeda ruled area. Turkey had supported al-Qaeda. Fighting it directly is against Turkish interests. It is itself too vulnerable as many al-Qaeda fighters have family and friends living within Turkey.

The new deal will give Syria control over most of Idleb in exchange for Turkish control over Afrin (if the Turks can indeed take the area). In parallel to the start of the Turkish operation the Syrian army took the air base Abu Duhur in east-Idleb. It will eliminate whatever is left of al-Qaeda and ISIS in the now closed cauldron. It will then proceed further into Idelb governorate.


Having Turkey take over Afrin is bad for Syria. The Syrian government clearly dislikes the deal the Russians made in its name. Any agreement with the shifty Turkish President Erdogan will likely not hold for long. But having the Kurds ally with the U.S. in a permanent occupation of the north-east is even worse.

The Syrian government has rejected Turkish claims that it was informed about the attack and officially condemned the Turkish move. But it can do little against it. Its army is depleted and engaged elsewhere. Neither Russia nor Iran would support an open conflict with Turkey.

Turkish media are in full war mode:

Turkish papers this morning:
  • Hurriyet: Our jets hit #Afrin. Turkey’s heart beats as one
  • Sabah: We hit them in their den
  • Haberturk: Iron fist to terror, olive branch to civilians
  • Sozcu: We said we would strike despite the US and Russia. We struck the traitors

Turkey has launched a quite large operation against Afrin. Its air-force is bombarding the area. It is now sending its most modern tanks. The al-Qaeda-"Free Syrian Army" Turkey supports and controls will be its front line infantry that is sure to bleed the most. Afrin is mountainous and it will be a difficult fight. Two Turkish tanks have already been destroyed. The Kurds are well prepared and armed. Both sides will have lots of losses.

Meanwhile the Syrian army and its allies will have time to take over Idelb.

The U.S. is left with a mess. Its strategy for Syria, only announced last week, is already falling apart. Its Central Command rejected any responsibility for the Kurds in Afrin while allying with the Kurds in the east. These are the same people. The Kurdish military commander in Afrin earlier fought in Kobane. Now Turkish planes are taking off from the U.S. build Incerlik air base to bomb the Kurds in the Syrian west while U.S. tanker planes take off from Incirlik to support the U.S. alliance with the Kurds in the east.

The Arab group Jaysh al Thuwar was part of the Arab fig leaf that disguises the Kurdish command over the U.S. supported SDF in the east. It has now turned sides and is back under Turkish tutelage. (UPDATE: This has now been denied. /end-update)  More elements of the SDF will change sides. We can expect "insider attacks" against the U.S. forces who are training them.

The Kurdish command blames Russia for the Turkish attack on Afrin. That is laughable. Syria and the Russians had supported the Kurds throughout the war. They were the first to deliver weapons and ammunition to the Kurds for the fight against the Takfiris. It were the Kurds that changed sides and invited the U.S. occupation. It is the Kurds that announced they would ask for Saudi support.

Just a few month ago the Kurdish project in Iraq failed miserably. The Iraqi government took back all gains the Kurds had made over a decade and the U.S. did nothing to help their Kurdish "allies". Why do the Kurds in Syria believe that their immense overreach will have a different outcome?

Posted by b on January 21, 2018 at 12:44 UTC | Permalink

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The U.S. is left with a mess. Its strategy for Syria, only announced last week, is already falling apart.

Yes and not only ;)

This from Mattis is also looking a little worn already.

Terrorism no longer primary US concern, focus on competing with Russia & China: new Defense Strategy The US will counter any “threat to America’s democracy experiment,” including using military force, the Pentagon chief said unveiling the new defense strategy that sidelines the war on terror in favor of “inter-state competition.”

Was he thinking about the Kurds when he talked about a democracy experiment ?

It also makes the words from Tillerson and Rice at Stanford look hollow and empty. :D :D

anyhow, it's largish sand pit with plenty for the kids will play in for a while yet

Posted by: 07564111 | Jan 21 2018 13:10 utc | 1

Turkey has played its personnel card in getting their proxies in the SDF to defect, if this is to be believed:

Of course, that leaves the US strictly allied to the Kurds, plus a few tribes they bribe in eastern Deir Ez Zor, some mercenaries around Al Tanf, and recycled ISIS fighters from Raqqa. To hold the large Arab parts of the coalition-invaded zone with this will be interesting.

Plus, the Turks are bombing Mennagh air base to smithereens, so the US SF and proxies' supply chain is getting that much slower and more expensive.

I am not sure Turkey will get its nose bloodied in Afrin, but the coalition will find it hard to keep its colonial conquest going at this rate.

Posted by: fx | Jan 21 2018 13:11 utc | 2

I wonder. If Syria, with the help of Russia, bring the issue of the illegal Turkish invasion to the security council, how will the US vote?

Posted by: Erlindur | Jan 21 2018 13:38 utc | 3

I fully agree now, B. The real problems will start when on the one side the turks will again have a common frontline with the Syrian army and on the other will try to cross the Euphrat and attack in u.s. protected kurdish territory.

Posted by: Pnyx | Jan 21 2018 13:39 utc | 4

Posted by: Erlindur | Jan 21, 2018 8:38:07 AM | 5

France just did

Posted by: somebody | Jan 21 2018 13:47 utc | 5

"Having Turkey take over Afrin is bad for Syria. Any agreement with the shifty Turkish President Erdogan will likely not hold for long. But having the Kurds ally with the U.S. in a permanent occupation of the north-east is even worse."

I don't believe for a second Turkey will be allowed to keep any control over Syrian territory. If Erdogan wants to enlarge Turkey at Syia's expense, Iran, Syria and Russia might well tell him that, next time he comes under the fire of his Gulenist US "allies", they'll sit back and enjoy the show.

What I think is, who could go and openly confront officially US-backed forces in Syria without risking a world war? Not Iran, not Russia, and not Syria who would have been accused of "bombing its own population".
Which left only Turkey. Whom the US has to handle with kid gloves, because, you know, Incirlik (to quote the former US Colonel Patrick Lang, "If the Turks close Incirlik to the US, we're out of business in the ME") and NATO.

If I am right and Turkey has been sent on purpose after talks and agreements between the parties whose common main problem is the illegal US presence, it is a genius stroke.

Posted by: Lea | Jan 21 2018 13:51 utc | 6


Iran and Syria come out against the Turkish initiative.

US have no role in this except having provoked it.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 21 2018 14:04 utc | 7

While Syria obviously doesn't want Turkey taking any territory permanently, getting Erdogan to deplete both his own and Kurdish/US-proxy forces in Syria is a short/long term benefit. And I'm sure Russia made it unequivocally clear to Erdogan's crew that Turkey will not be staying in any Syrian territory permanently. After Turkey pounds the daylights out of the Kurds in the Afrin area while the US will not (or cannot) provide any meaningful support, the Kurds elsewhere my be more inclined to see a better path is to stop trying to create a Kurdistan to further Zionist/Rothschild machinations, and just salvage some local autonomy by cooperating with Assad and the Iraqi gov't.

The Kurds choices are getting narrowed to cooperation or elimination. Erdogan, Assad and Iraq justifiably see the Kurds as at minimum secessionist and at worst domestic terrorists, supported by foreign powers (Israel/US/Saudis).

Given Erdogan's tendency to flip-flop, I'm sure Putin also ensured the S-missile systems destined for Turkey will have remote shut-down back-doors built in so if Erdogan gets too big for himself (or decides to flop back to the US/Israeli camp) he may find those systems simply don't work no matter what the target, or simply won't lock onto Russian or Syrian aircraft.

Posted by: A P | Jan 21 2018 14:51 utc | 8

The chumps and buffoons in the Trump administration bungled this one most spectacularly. Of course Turkey was going to react to the PKK, an armed group it is in a long-standing conflict with, being drafted to patrol its border with Syria. I wonder if the fools in DC who cobbled this shambles of a "plan" together and put it into action even have the capacity to be embarrassed/ashamed of their amateur performance that surely has real diplomats like Sergei Lavrov and his team alternately laughing heartily and seriously concerned about the sanity and soundness of mind of their American counterparts? This is a team that includes Nikki Haley after all.

All kidding aside I, for one, am confident this is another of Trump's patented 5D geopolitical chess moves. Sure, it looks like another colossal fuck up courtesy of the Trump dream team but therein lies its genius. While the rest of the world laughs at the "morons", POTUS Trump works his magic between the news cycles making America great again and preparing his people for a peaceful, non-interventionist America that is but one very prosperous pole of influence in the emerging multi polar world order. Give the man time to weave the strands of his genius together and watch him pull one hell of an impressive rabbit from his magician's hat.

While you are waiting let me tell you about a great piece of land I have for sale. It is located in the beautiful Florida Everglades and if you make a 50% cash down payment before Monday I will give you a great deal on shares in this bridge project I'm investing in that will double your money by April 1st, guaranteed...

Posted by: Temporarily Sane | Jan 21 2018 14:52 utc | 9

So with Mennagh under attack, the coalition can't help, and the Kurds need to pass any troops and resupply from Manbij through Syrian government-held territory. Now to see what the Syrian government does about this...

Posted by: fx | Jan 21 2018 14:54 utc | 10

I was trying to figure out what's going on in Afrin, and consulted many sources. The only honest, well-informed, analytical, and credible article I spotted was this one. Many thanks!

Posted by: Moti Nissani | Jan 21 2018 14:57 utc | 11

Not sure if Erdogan's numbers are right but if this is truly his objective it should play well with the Arab population....

"Underlining that Turkey’s goal is to return 3.5 million Syrian refugees to their homeland as soon as possible, Erdoğan said: “Afrin is 55 percent Arab and 35 percent Kurdish, who settled there recently. There are also around 6 to 7 percent Turkmens. The issue now is returning Afrin to its real owners.”"

Posted by: dh | Jan 21 2018 14:57 utc | 12

Posted by: Erlindur | Jan 21, 2018 8:38:07 AM | 5

France just did

Actually, France is bundling this with Idlib and Goutha... typical two-faced, guaranteed to lead nowhere, perhaps a ploy to avoid an actual debate on Afrin alone.

Posted by: fx | Jan 21 2018 15:00 utc | 13

@Temporarily Sane You left out the /sarc tag on Trump's "genius" moves. I guess the Florida swamp reference was supposed to do that, but you did say "kidding aside", so which is it? In your opinion Trump is a moron surrounded by morons, or he is a genius surrounded by morons?

I'll shortcut all that BS, and say with a VERY few exceptions, the US gov't and Deep State is, and always has been, populated with a mix of morons and psychopaths. Trump is not one of those exceptions. Intelligent and psychologically-sound people need not apply, the two-party vetting/indoctrination system screens them out.

Posted by: A P | Jan 21 2018 15:03 utc | 14

I think the Tall Rafat area may be the place to watch. This is where the Kurds pushed out from their enclave earlier when Russian airforce had the jihadists on the run. With the recent US miss-spoken announcement, Russia/Syria may well be amenable to the Turks giving the Kurds a bit of a beating and pushing them back into their traditional enclaves, though I don't see them allowing Turkey total control of Afrin.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 21 2018 15:19 utc | 15

@19 Perhaps the Turks don't want to control Afrin. And who are 'the Kurds'? A few hundred young militants dreaming of a US protected Rojava? Or do most people in the region just want it all to stop.

As for the 3.5 million refugees (Erdogan's number) nobody ever presents a clear picture of who they are and where exactly they come from. We are just told they are escaping from Assad and his poison gas and barrel bombs. Perhaps they just don't want to live in Rojava.

Posted by: dh | Jan 21 2018 15:26 utc | 16

Let me see if I understand all this? The Erdogan Turks fully back the terrorists in Syria aiming to dislodge the Assad Syrian government. The USA et al fully backs the same.

The USA also backs the PKK/YPG Kurd faction in Syria as a means to at least break up Syrian national territory, as originally in their plans, even if they do remove the Assad government as originally planned.

Erdogan has wanted to expand Turkey's national boundaries at the expense of Syria's. This latest encroachment, as with Euphrates Shield, accomplishes this goal especially if they can subsume their terrorist proxies occupied areas in Idlib Province as the USA has by using their newest Kurd proxies in eastern Syria. Erdogan need only create some new proxy (Turkmen?) and go after the terrorists and Kurds in western Syria. No doubt with American help.

Erdogan and the USA disagree only on what future the Kurdish people will play in the eastern territories of Syria and Turkey. So what will be the necessary accommodation between them?

If a Kurdish state is declared and backed by NATO and a UN resolution what if anything can Syria and her allies do about it as war is simply out of the question.

How will this breakup of Syrian national territory affect the situation between the Donbass region and the Ukraine junta?

Posted by: BRF | Jan 21 2018 15:28 utc | 17

Thanks for this analysis b. To me this is among the most important statements:

""The other was that the Kurds hand back the oil fields in Deir al Zor. The Kurds refused suggesting that the US won't allow that anyway. The meeting was not exactly a success.""

These oilfields seem to be the big prize and one of the main reasons the US wants to hold onto this corner of Syria.

I agree with @Lea 8

""If I am right and Turkey has been sent on purpose after talks and agreements between the parties whose common main problem is the illegal US presence, it is a genius stroke.""

This seems part of a slow strangulation to get the US out of the northeast.

Posted by: financial matters | Jan 21 2018 15:37 utc | 18

Mennagh airbase is the supposed major route for the new arms being delivered to the Kurds by the US. (as others have also noticed) What is there that the Russians (and Syrians) wouldn't like about that? (Except that other reports said that there were Russian troops stationed at the base - go figure)

The Russian "withdrawal" puts their troops nearer to the "Hader" bulge which is where the SAA are building up. This front - if it becomes reality, is rumoured to aim towards the two very small and isolated enclaves near Idlib. It also would (eventually) threaten the supply route and lone crossing between Idlib and the Turkish border.

Other news that doesn't conveniently fit; The Turks announced they are only making a 30km wide "strip", not a full takeover. Oh, and ISIS has been attacking Kurdish forces to the South of the "Yellow-kurdish" triangle the US wants to keep)

Hope you are feeling much better b. Don't overdo it though, as flu seems to take some time to get over.

Posted by: stonebird | Jan 21 2018 15:40 utc | 19

Maybe the total confusion is part of the plan, after all the US military is notably slow on the uptake. By the time they have it figured out it could be too late.

Posted by: stonebird | Jan 21 2018 15:46 utc | 20

IMO This isn’t as bad for USA as b seems to think.

As b points out, the Kurds are blaming Russia - just as I said they would yesterday. The Kurds not attending talks in Astana is a strategic ‘win’ for the Assad must go! Coalition.

b has provided new info that makes me think that Turkey was forced to attack Afrin. Turkey made the mistake of supporting a counter-attack against Syrian forces attempting to take Idlib. This gave Russia leverage to demand that Erdogan move against Afrin. He had to prove his loyalty (or else).

This is the best explanation that fits what we know because Erdogan’s taking of Afrin will not change US strategy. Erdogan must know this.

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We might go further by noting that Erdogan only seems to support R+6 when forced to do so. Now that Erdogan has shown his loyalty by moving against Afrin I wonder if he will keep up the attack on Afrin if Turkish forces meet stiff resistance. And will he really go on to attack Manjib or is that just bluster?

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 21 2018 15:51 utc | 21

I looked into the refugees some time ago. From what I could make out, the majority left northern Syria for Turkey as the jihadists/rebels took over. I thought they most likely left just to get away from the fighting, rather than because they backed one side or the other. Jihadist sympathizers left when Russia/Syria pounded the jihadist back up past Aleppo and cut off the link between Idlib and northern Aleppo province

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 21 2018 15:54 utc | 22

@25 "I thought they most likely left just to get away from the fighting..."

I've met a few who say exactly that. Plus not wanting to get drafted into the Syrian army. I also know some young Kurds who had to abandon careers because of Rojava and Barzani.

Posted by: dh | Jan 21 2018 16:10 utc | 23

The US see better prospects of partitioning Syria with this prospective "border force"in East Syria, noticeably the border force will be along the Iraq and Turkish borders also along the Euphrates.
A mini state in the making, although four times bigger than Lebanon Turkey is right to be alarmed, Assad is also right to believe the US occupation is a larger threat, Tillerson did say the US was there to ensure 'regime change'. We will know Turkey is serious about this threat when they attack this nascent state within the borders announced by Tillerson. I suspect Russia,Syria nor Turkey will attack the area directly when it is protected by the US. What those opposing states need to do is blockade the entity and ensure nothing enters or leaves, and turn a blind eye to rocket attacks on US bases and explosively Formed Projectiles [EFP's]against occupation forces, which successfully drove the US out of Iraq.

Posted by: harrylaw | Jan 21 2018 16:43 utc | 24

Just a note on my comment above. A shaped charge is a concave metal hemisphere or cone (known as a liner) backed by a high explosive, all in a steel or aluminium casing. When the high explosive is detonated, the metal liner is compressed and squeezed forward, forming a jet whose tip may travel as fast as 10 kilometers per second. This means an Abrams tank can be penetrated from front to rear and completely destroyed. The US spent billions in grants to Universities to stop the Iraqi explosively formed Projectiles [EFP's] they did have a little success detonating them electronically with specially equipped vehicles, but the Iraqis soon outfoxed them by detonating the EFP's using a length of string.

Posted by: harrylaw | Jan 21 2018 17:13 utc | 25

@14 A P

In your opinion Trump is a moron surrounded by morons, or he is a genius surrounded by morons?

The former (moron + morons). Left out the /s tag in the first post because I thought the text made it obvious but given what some people are still saying about Trump (he's a latent genius...all his fuck ups are in fact clever subterfuge!) perhaps that was a bit optimistic.

Posted by: Temporarily Sane | Jan 21 2018 17:13 utc | 26

Erdogan needs a victory to ensure his re-election. If Afrin is a success, he will rush to make earlier elections to benefit from the Turks who hate the Kurds voters.
If the Kurds resist and get support from the USA, then Afrin will drag on and there would be casualties and blowbacks on Turkey, then he will stick to 2019 elections.
If Turkey, Iran, Russia do not want the USA boosting Kurdish desires of autonomy, the best solution is to hand over Afrin to the Syrian army. The losers would be the Syrian opposition who dream to take over the control of Afrin,except that the Kurds hate them for the alliance with Turkey.
Russia will be more than happy to see the opposition weakedn further, but the USA opposed to the peace and unity of Syria and a political victory of Russia will try to derail any Erdogan-Bashar al Assad rapprochement..

Posted by: virgile | Jan 21 2018 17:37 utc | 27

I don't suppose that Syria could be feigning outrage over Russia giving the ok to Turkey to take Afrin? This would get Turkey on Russia's side and further the squeeze on the SDF-US occupation. Useful in the immediate future. Who knows in later theaters. The amount of shifting alliances here is staggering. Does anyone know how this will turn out?

Thanks b for the overview. However, I think I will have to read it in a few again after my head stops spinning.

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Jan 21 2018 17:49 utc | 28

Lea (Incirlik)... I would be highly astounded if the USA had not been spooked (by the attempted-coup-related goings on around the base last year) into urgently but quietly shifting certain ordnance out of Incirlik and into (hmm...) Bondsteel.

Posted by: Plod | Jan 21 2018 17:54 utc | 29

The deeply troublesome goings on in Macedonia, Montenegro and "Greater" Albania over the past 18 months, including CIA-subverted elections, assassinations, diktats, betrayals, ought to be receiving much more attention, one feels. Not to mention similar subversions in Moldova and the massively tightening USA grip on Romania and Bulgaria. Strangely enough, one finds a tiny glimmer of optimism in unexpected quarters (Croatia, Slovenia).
I sometimes wonder why people are quite so obsessed with Erdogan's neo-ottomania, which if anything ever transpired along that highly speculative line, could well provide a welcome balance to frighteningly entrenching USA influence in both E and W Balkans.

Posted by: Plod | Jan 21 2018 18:04 utc | 30

Re: Posted by: Lea | Jan 21, 2018 8:51:16 AM | 6 "If I am right and Turkey has been sent on purpose after talks and agreements between the parties whose common main problem is the illegal US presence, it is a genius stroke."

I like your theory and I think you are right.

Posted by: Activist Potato | Jan 21 2018 18:05 utc | 31

@30 "Does anyone know how this will turn out?"

Nobody knows. But I'll make some short term predictions for the heck of it. Kurd fighters in Afrin will get squeezed back where they came from. Turks will make a deal with Assad and leave. SDF, FSA and assorted opposition leaders will run off with the cash. Israel will keep pushing for some kind of Balkanisation. US will be paralysed by indecision.

Posted by: dh | Jan 21 2018 18:11 utc | 32

NemesisCalling | Jan 21, 2018 12:49:48 PM | 30

"Syria could be feigning outrage over Russia giving the ok to Turkey ..."

Technically speaking, Russia has no authority to give any sort of "permission" to Turkey (or anybody else for anything at all).

Syria is simply dotting the Is and crossing the Ts to prevent an argument of estoppel in the International Court of Justice later on. See the Temple of Preah Vihear case 1962 ICJ Rep.

The threat to shoot down Turkish warplanes is the same. It prevents any legal argument that Syria abandoned Afrin to Turkey.

I can think, off hand, of the threat that persons joining the "border force" are committing treason and that the US is an occupying force as recent examples of the same thing.

The Syrians have been meticulous in this regard. One can argue that they are a tad over the top, but better safe than sorry.

Posted by: E | Jan 21 2018 18:16 utc | 33

@34 And ISIS will keep blowing stuff up while the ammunition lasts.

Posted by: dh | Jan 21 2018 18:17 utc | 34

This would not be some devious plot by Turks/US to prolong the war in Syria and give cover to send more troops in ... troops that never leave? The whole thing seems a bit too ... convenient.

Posted by: GoraDiva | Jan 21 2018 18:22 utc | 35

Zerohedge has an article finishing thus...
"Finally, the US remains oddly mute on this latest escalation which sees NATO member, and US-ally Turkey, attack a US-armed and backed militia in Syria (whose initial purpose of helping remove the Assad regime is long gone). On Saturday, a Pentagon official said: "We encourage all parties to avoid escalation and to focus on the most important task of defeating ISIS (Islamic State)."

The plea by the world's superpower was roundly ignored by everyone.

Posted by: harrylaw | Jan 21 2018 18:28 utc | 36

@35 E

True and very sad. The Syrians have been caught in the crossfire since the beginning. We have theorized over the various causes of the war, but, in the end, when the superpowers are hanging around, Syrians are the first row of pieces to be sacraficed.

And I would never put my faith in any international community ruling after Syria. We are in uncharted territory, I believe. Dance with the one you came with and if you have to stand on Putin's toes to keep up, then hold him close.

"Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must." – Thucydides

Can we got off this stupid ride, yet?

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Jan 21 2018 18:41 utc | 37

While Turkey galavanting through Afrin certainly isn't good for Syria in the short term, in the long run it is the least worst option. If Syria wants to bring the Kurds back into it's fold, the SAA can't take Rojava by force. Ditto for the Russians, Iranians, Iraqis, and Hezbollah. This leaves Turkey and Turkey alone.
I have little doubt with all the shuttle diplomacy put on by the Kremlin, and their "muted" public response, a deal with very certain red lines was drawn up. I don't think for a second Turkey will be allowed to stay longer than is their stated goal of clearing their southern border. The second Russia denies the airspace above Syria, Turkey will pull back. Their forces will not survive long without air cover. The Turkish generals aren't that stupid.
As Turkey pulls it's proxies from Idlib, the SAA offensive to liberate the area will speed up. As the SDF dirties their britches over the threat to the north, they will be forced to pull fighters from the Dier Ez-Zour oil fields, leading them easy pickings for the SAA.
Another point to consider is that I doubt Erdogan ever planned to be forced to house all of their Takfiri proxies in Turkey itself. Great for wrecking a neighboring country, bad for one's own. But by marching them off as cannon fodder to bash the Kurds with, Erdogan could be seen as killing two birds with one stone.

Posted by: Don Wiscacho | Jan 21 2018 18:42 utc | 38

The Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi Blog b linked that describes what's happening with the "Border Forces" training on the ground reports this:

Some of them have little knowledge of Arabic. As a Kurdish trainer from Hasakah explained, this is because these Kurdish fighters grew up in the Kobani area without proper access to education to learn Arabic.
I call BS. Are we to believe the Syrian government does not have programs to teach Arabic to people of other birth tongues? This is actually a sign that most of these Kurds are not from Syria, but from Turkey. If Erdo goes along with the US plan hoping to be able to expel his Kurdish pop to Syria, he's likely to be mistaken. He may end up with a terrorist controlled area on his SE border while still having large numbers of Kurds within Turkey.

Posted by: William Rood | Jan 21 2018 18:51 utc | 39

thanks b... good overview..i hope you are better!

the usa has to continue with it's kurdistan scheme...this is the agenda that israel/ksa/uae want too, so, how does the usa back out of their responsibility to these kurds aligned with destroyers of syria group??

i agree with a few others here - @6 lea and @18 financial matters.. the reason i say 'i agree', is it simplifies a repeat of what others are saying here and often others say it better then me anyway!

@21 jackrabbit.. you could be right on some or all of that..

@24 harrylaw.. i agree..

@28 truthseeker... your understanding of international finances is's the only reason you can say what you do..

@37 goradiva.. that is a cynical but valid supposition... i often think this way too.. bottom line - turkey and the usa have proven over and over again that they can't be trusted.. kurds have proven over and over again that they can be easily duped...russia have proven over and over again that aside from being 100% consistent, they are playing a long game that supports honouring the territorial integrity of a countries borders and jurisdiction... well, some will say they stole crimea, but those who do, don't know much about history or anything else for that matter...

Posted by: james | Jan 21 2018 18:56 utc | 40

"These oilfields seem to be the big prize and one of the main reasons the US wants to hold onto this corner of Syria."

Posted by: financial matters | Jan 21, 2018 10:37:30 AM | 18

The goal of the MIC and Deep State is just to keep the chaos going as long as possible to sell arms and benefit careers. However, Trump has been enticed to go along with it by the promise that the US will "take their oil."

Posted by: William Rood | Jan 21 2018 19:03 utc | 41

The biggest risk I see is that after Turkey takes Actin, and possibly the eastern enclaves in a subsequent operation, the US will simply through the Kurds under the bus and offer Turkey to support its defacto annexation of northern Syria.

Posted by: lysander | Jan 21 2018 19:15 utc | 42

NemesisCalling | Jan 21, 2018 1:41:54 PM | 39

Indeed. Although I do think that Russia and Iran are honest brokers in this affair – as honest as this dirty game allows. I have no doubt they they are not above making a backroom deal or two.

The ICJ has been very good in the past. I think, as an example, that there is a very good reason the Ukraine has not taken Russia to the Court regarding Crimea. There is, in my view, a good chance that Ukraine would lose – despite the squawkings of the instant experts in International Law - provided a neutral bench could be assembled.

However, the Empire nowadays forms “coalitions of the willing,” severely depleting the pool of competent jurists to serve on the bench as their countries are almost invariably involved. It is no accident that everyone and their cat are herded into these coalitions. No court staffed with people from "shithole" countries will be acceptable to the “international community.”

It is lawfare at its dirtiest. If stacking the bench is not possible, prevent a bench being assembled in the first place.

Posted by: E | Jan 21 2018 19:35 utc | 43

These are all lunatics. This war seems to continue only to make global MIC rich, Wall Street market of death soaring high, and dictators to size more power.

People are just pawns in this Ponzi game and those who want to make sense of it in any other way than Roman wilderness of pain, are simple fools.

Posted by: Kalen | Jan 21 2018 19:52 utc | 44

Posted by: lysander | Jan 21, 2018 2:15:59 PM | 42

I guess the US have armed YPG in a way that this is not going to happen. Syria and Iran have an option to support YPG if necessary. For some reason Iran has already asked Turkey to stop.

Swiss NZZ (in German) seems to think that Turkish backed forces will face difficulties fighting Kurds in Afrin - and will take a long time.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 21 2018 19:57 utc | 45

My two centimes. I think most contributors here haven't got the interests. Erdogan is obsessed by the Kurds. Beyond rationality, if I understand correctly. Afrin is mountainous, and doesn't offer a good target. He is unlikely to succeed. However, it offers the advantage of not being protected by the US. If he attacked the real target east of the Euphrates, then the US would resist.

Syria is for the Kurds, as we've discussed many times, because a future deal to reunite Syria is in the making. Not surprisingly, they're going to support the Kurds.

Idlib is dominated by HTS (hai'at Tahrir al-Sham, ex nusra, al-Qa'ida jihadis). They are going to support the Turks (extreme sunnism is the common interest).

So, Turkey invades and meets resistance. The jihadis go and help Turkey. That leaves Syria a free run in South Idlib. That's the result I expect.

Note that neither Russia nor the US has much of a role.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 21 2018 20:16 utc | 46

@ William Rood re: Kurds who can't speak Arabic

You may be correct that those Kurds aren't Syrian, but not necessarily so. The areas of Syria that have actually had Kurdish, or for instance Armenian, majorities have enjoyed a large measure of de facto autonomy, which has only increased in the last 20 years. So while nominally required to use Arabic in schools, if the school is staffed with Kurdish teachers and administrators with Kurdish students, there is little to stop them from simply teaching in Kurdish. Or Armenian, or Aramaic, etc.

Posted by: Don Wiscacho | Jan 21 2018 20:21 utc | 47

@ Laguerre

You've hit the nail on the head

Posted by: Don Wiscacho | Jan 21 2018 20:23 utc | 48

Turks are putting ground troops into Syria, which will strengthen al-Qaeda, Islamic State and splits and fusions thereof, including in Idleb. If the Turks were really about fighting "Rojava" they wouldn't be hitting Afrin. It is unclear how Putin could possibly think this is good policy for actually winning the war. "Letting" Turkey in is either short-sighted or Putin has conceded to permanent war in Syria. Permanent war for Russia is by the way a defeat for Russia, but not the US.

The theory that Putin has suckered Turkey into a diversion because it is guaranteed a final victory in Idleb so that the Afrin enclave will be harmless strikes me more as spin to make Putin look good. The defeat of the KRG in Iraq means I think that Turkey sees the YPG Kurd as much less of a threat. And that the Turks and US are much more in sync now than ever, and the Russians are desperately trying to put a good face on it. I'm not sure that it's sunk in that these developments mean Russia is on the hook indefinitely. All that blood and money for warm water ports! Are they really worth it? Putin wanting to play the game of nations like some latter-day Tsar isn't going well, I think.

Posted by: steven johnson | Jan 21 2018 20:28 utc | 49

The war is won!!! BBC map shows "Syrian government" areas in green. It's all over folks! B, please update your obsolete maps... :p

Posted by: Tod | Jan 21 2018 20:35 utc | 50

These oilfields seem to be the big prize and one of the main reasons the US wants to hold onto this corner of Syria.

Posted by: financial matters | Jan 21, 2018 10:37:30 AM | 18

These oilfields are important to the Syrian state for self supply as they are still under severe sanctions, but in the greater scheme of things the fields are tiny and irrelevant compared to what the neighbours have.

Posted by: CE | Jan 21 2018 20:49 utc | 51

My analysis on Prof. Mifsud and the bar talk with Trump goon Papadopoulos …

Mifsud Offering Alu Tubes to Papadopoulos?

Posted by: Oui | Jan 21 2018 21:47 utc | 52

We had wrongly predicted that Turkish threats against the Kurdish held north-west area of Afrin were empty:

Maybe not. Maybe your first analysis was correct. If the Kurdish militias do fight, it will take many weeks, and lead to substantial Turkish losses. So it is really too early to say that Erdogan will attempt to conquer Afrin no matter the cost, and too early to say that the US will not put effective pressure on Erdogan, or offer him some sort of deal.
So far, Erdogan has upped the ante, but he hasn't gone all in.

Posted by: Frank | Jan 21 2018 22:13 utc | 53

CBC radio had a pretty balanced report on Turkey's actions in Afrin this morning..........was pretty surprised as they are usually on task in regards to the 'official' line.

Posted by: Tannenhouser | Jan 21 2018 22:15 utc | 54

@ la Guerre

A few thoughts on your excellent comment. Erdogan is a wily operator. While, as you say, he is obsessed with the Kurds he is also very concerned about his cherished jihadists in Idlib. If they stay they will be slaughtered, so why not send them up to Afrin (the best fighters at least) where they can create havoc with the Kurds, save Turkish soldiers’ lives and hopefully dominate a future Turkish barrier zone, another obsession of his.

Posted by: Lochearn | Jan 21 2018 22:23 utc | 55

I don't know whether there are any representatives of the Syrian government who read this blog. I would hope there are, but I'm not sure. But In the case there are, I would call upon them to look for peace, and to recall the many Syrians who remain in exile, and who would be ready to rebuild Syria. The war is nearly over, and we have to look to the future.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 21 2018 23:01 utc | 56

Erdogan is obsessed by keeping power and winning his re election in 2018 or 2019 . To get that, he needs to neutralize the Turkish Kurds who don't vote for him. Sunni conservative Kurds worship Erdogan for his promotion of Sunni Islam. For them Islam is the unifying factor of Turks especially Sunni Islam. They all vote for the AKP.

Erdogan has emasculated the burgeoning liberal Kurdish party, the HDP, by demonizing the liberal Kurds and throwing its leader in prison just to get more votes in the previous parliamentary election that he reran to win with a very small margin.
For the next election, he is very worried about the growth of other centrist parties, the weakness of his ally the MHP, a nationalist party archi-enemy of the Kurds and about the insatisfaction of the Turks with the deteriorating relation with the EU and the fall of the lira.

The Afrin war plays several roles. It will demonize and demoralize further the 'independentist' Kurds, awake the nationalist Turkish feeling by displaying military power that has been damaged by the coup, boost the Islamist flame among the rural Turks so the Turks can forget about their grudge over the EU and the declining buying power.

The question is will he win fast enough not to create the impression of failure and a quagmire that would reflect negatively on his voters? And what will be the aftermath of Afrin? early elections?

Posted by: virgile | Jan 21 2018 23:03 utc | 57

...blockade the entity and ensure nothing enters or leaves, and turn a blind eye to rocket attacks on US bases and explosively Formed Projectiles [EFP's]against occupation forces....
Precisely. Once they are holed up in their bases, with no nightlife or golf courses, and any patrols extremely dangerous, it will become a very unpopular posting.

Posted by: William Rood | Jan 21 2018 23:06 utc | 58

Syria crisis: Turkish assault on Kurdish enclave threatens to open deadly new phase in bloody seven-year civil war

But in retaliation for the Kurdish shift into the US camp, Moscow reportedly told the Turks that their attack on Afrin would not be opposed by Russian jets and air defence systems. This allowed Turkey to use its air power inside Afrin during its invasion. Even so, the YPG is a highly effective military force capable of inflicting heavy losses on the Turkish army and its local militia allies.

Posted by: virgile | Jan 21 2018 23:11 utc | 59

UNSC Sets a Meeting for Monday Over Turkish Attack on Afrin

Posted by: virgile | Jan 21 2018 23:17 utc | 60

Re shaped charges.

Posted by: harrylaw | Jan 21, 2018 12:13:54 PM | 25

With no evidence, the US claimed Iraqi shaped charges were supplied by Iran, claiming shaped charges were too complex to have been manufactured by the resistance. But in 1989, Alfred Herrhausen, Chairman of Deutsche Bank, was assassinated using a shaped charge roadside bomb, allegedly by the Red Brigades.

Clearly, the charge itself can be manufactured in a local machine shop. The electronics of the device that killed Herrhausen was probably the more sophisticated piece of the device, but as you pointed out that can be quite simple as well.

Nevertheless, Iran will be blamed. Count on it.

Posted by: William Rood | Jan 21 2018 23:18 utc | 61

I wholeheartedly agree with the posts of laguerre and virgile. It is paramount to recall that Erdogan is seeking re-election and his easiest domestic punching bag is the Kurds, who he has a track record of instigating military adventures against to garner short-term electorate gain. Erdogan has the most to win and biggest to lose of all players.

As such Turkey has not, and will not, commit Turkish infantry to the Afrin campaign. Turkish aircover and limited armored support to be sure, but the actual fighting and dying will be by the Turkish proxies pulled from Idlib. For Erdogan and Russia this is a win-win.

I wouldn't be the least surprised if the SAA let's YPG logistics through its lines as well to offer a true "Operation Olive Branch" to the Syrian Kurds as opposed to Erdogan's attack in all of this.

Posted by: Don Wiscacho | Jan 21 2018 23:29 utc | 62

I agree with everyone!

It's a multiple win-win, a great demonstration of congruent interests all doing their own thing. Lots of things remain to play out. But there are no downsides to this situation, no matter who holds what piece of Syrian territory for what temporary short time.

All the actors are tributaries flowing into the main river, and all moving in the same general direction, because the river is actually the tide of history. All players are advancing to meet their inevitable destinies: Turkey moves closer to Russia, and closer, despite much bad blood, to restoring the friendship between itself and Syria (over time); the Kurds get their final lesson about the perfidious US and settle into their lands in Syria, as Syrians; Dr. Assad gets his entire country back for his people (over time); terrorists die; the US is further marginalized and its generals scream mayhem, in words only.

Great update, b - thanks!

Posted by: Grieved | Jan 21 2018 23:52 utc | 63

Shaped charges are child's play to make puh-leze, a champagne bottle is very good. There is nothing special about those. A tandem shaped charge is completely different animal, that cant be made on a kitchen table.

Posted by: Den Lille Abe | Jan 22 2018 0:09 utc | 64

I find the enthusiasm by some for Erdogan’s attack on Afrin to be strange.

It seems likely that the UNSC will tell Turkey to halt its attack. Turkey would probably comply. Then the only thing that the attack on Afrin would have done is piss off the Kurds. Who are now threatening not to participate in Astana talks for a political solution.

Those that cheer for Kurds to suffer from their Alliance with USA fail to see how this entire affair may play into the hands of the Assad must go! Coalition.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 22 2018 0:23 utc | 65

Turkish control of Afrin would pose a serious threat to Syria.

Today's announcement of the Turkish proxies: "The Syrian Interim Government announces that the "Syrian National Army" has begun combat operations in rural areas of Manbij and Afrin"

"The Syrian Interim Government" ? "Syrian National Army" ?

My hope is that the Kurds can stall Turkey's advance long enough for the SAA to clean up the Idlib province.

Posted by: redrooster | Jan 22 2018 0:56 utc | 66

@ 68

The Kurds were never going to settle for less than their own 'State'. That push continues in the background and will still include the areas previously outlined, in Syria and Iraq. Any Kurdish State would, by necessity, be 'helped' and 'guided' by the US and Israel. Said Kurdish State was always to be used to foment trouble and used as a kick off point for the inevitable launch of hostilities against Iran. Nothing has changed in the game plan save the moving and positioning of pieces on the big board. To suggest otherwise is to ignore the statements of the US DOD/DOS...Iran, Hezbollah and Lebanon are the targets yet.

Posted by: 07564111 | Jan 22 2018 1:59 utc | 67

About the Arab group Jaysh al Thuwar that defected to the Turks, but then deny it, the explanation is clear. The Turks offered them more money, but few hours after, the US offered them twice that amount. Just a bunch of mercenaries

Posted by: Jean | Jan 22 2018 2:17 utc | 68

>>>> Jackrabbit | Jan 21, 2018 7:23:16 PM | 68

It seems likely that the UNSC will tell Turkey to halt its attack.

Nah, more likely to be another attempt to establish a no-fly-zone over Syria Hopefully Russia and/or China will veto it.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Jan 22 2018 2:22 utc | 69

>>>> 07564111 | Jan 21, 2018 8:59:25 PM | 70

The Kurds were never going to settle for less than their own 'State'.

Unless Kurdistan has a corridor to the sea (Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea or Persian Gulf) it is not viable as an independent state, as was brutally demonstrated after the independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan. Neither Turkey nor Syria will hand over the land, and in a few years I suspect the Iraqis will be confidant enough to as the Americans to leave so just how the United States thinks it can create a viable Kurdish state is beyond me.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Jan 22 2018 2:32 utc | 70

Posted by: Den Lille Abe | Jan 21, 2018 7:09:31 PM | 67

Nobody said anything about making shaped charges on a kitchen table so drop the sarcasm and the straw, fool. See

The claim that EFPs deployed in Iraq originated in Iran accepted in part that the EFP was actually a sophisticated weapon that could not be produced by Iraqis without Iranian assistance but there are problems with that assumption. The American military knew perfectly well that the Iraqis were more than capable of making the weapon because both U.S. and British forces captured machine shops assembling such devices. The weapon can, in fact, be made by any reasonably competent machine shop that has a metal lathe and access to explosives. U.S. Army Special Forces training manuals that provided instructions on making and using shaped charges were available on the internet at the time of the Iraq War. They have since been deleted but the information is still available online.

Posted by: William Rood | Jan 22 2018 2:34 utc | 71

I can't help but wonder if this has been set up to give Erdogan a bloody nose. For instance the Russians and Syrians hand over to the Afrin Kurds all the TOW ATGMs that they have captured from the groups supported by Turkey and the Kurds use them to destroy a lot of Turkish tanks. I'd call that poetic justice.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Jan 22 2018 2:38 utc | 72

Interesting comments from ELSANI2
"Mattis: “Turkey was candid, they warned us before they launched the aircraft they were going to do it. We’ll work this out,” he said, acknowledging that Turkey has “legitimate security concerns” .. It sounds like someone got thrown under the bus"
"Mattis praised effectiveness of YPG and SDF in combating ISIL. Still that success in fighting USIS “does not remove many of Turkey’s concerns,” Mr Mattis added, calling Turkey “the only NATO country with an active insurgency inside its borders.” SOMEONE GOT TNROWN UNDER THE BUS"

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 22 2018 2:56 utc | 73

@ 73

Note on a map how close Afrin is to the Med ;) Was Afrin chosen for this very reason. The 30,000 plus Kurdish 'Border Force' was, I believe, charged with a specific task.

A question,,would the US dare to park a Carrier in the Med close enough to assist their friends in Afrin with Air support and take that small portion of Turkey giving the Kurds a sea connection ??

You are correct in that Erdo will never give up land without a fight. The Kurds and their enablers will give him that fight and cause trouble for quite a time yet unless stopped.

Posted by: 07564111 | Jan 22 2018 3:00 utc | 74


Wishing you well. Hopefully you can continue
to provide your insightful analysis of events
that prove to be extremely difficult to look
through. It is a world of deceit now, with
armies of stooges spreading their garbage.

I will convert from commenting to reading.
That way the stooges will stick out even
more prominent.

One day there will be payback time for all
these traitors to humanity. All the best
to you.

Posted by: nottheonly1 | Jan 22 2018 3:09 utc | 75

Guys this has nothing to do with Trump's bright ideas because he's a puppet in the hands of the war-loving generals in the WH.
Pentagon is in competition with CIA on who can get Assad removed by any means, so it's very desperate measures all around to reach this goal. Even to the point of being blindsided by Turks' anger. And that's really stupid.

Posted by: Mark | Jan 22 2018 3:53 utc | 76

This has been agreed upon between the US and Turkey. Erdogan gets Afrin, protects the Turkmens and other rebels in Idlib and cuts off future Kurdistan from access to the Mediterranean, in exchange for not messing up american plans east of the Euphrates. US cannot afford to piss off Turkey b/c their Kurdistan plan won't be viable without them.

Russia doesn't have the means to effectively resist such a move, and they have already received assurances that Tartus and Khmeimim are safe. Syria doesn't like any of this, but their priority is to mop up the remaining areas outside of Kurdish-controlled land.

Posted by: s | Jan 22 2018 4:26 utc | 77

Afrin is the place to hit. Russia and Syria worked till
last minute to negotiate an agreement between Afrin
Political leaders and Damascus. Afrin acceptedv
Syrian jurisdiction and Syrian flag over couthouses.
But not PKK/YPG. As the deal collapsed, Turkey
is moving in. More US explanations on the nature of this
border force are really past the point of being helpful
or credible. Afrin is actually the only area where Kurds are the
majority population. Areas in North-East are characterized by Kurd
majority small townships like Kobane. Other towns like Al-Hassakah,
are even from Kurdish sources. labeled as “Kurdish-Arab majotity”.
The bottom line is, towns Kurds covet within this new area
already called “de-facto independent” — like Raqqa, Manbij — are Arab
majority towns. In fact, Kurds coveted Al-Bab, with under 5% of Kurds
living there.

Afrin is more dangerous to Syrian independence. With Al-Qaeda there
receiving UK support. — very likely through Afrin, one should be
prepared to see Al-Qaeda helping Afrin expand on Mediterranean,
and Syrian Army and Russia would then have to intervene against
Kurds, and you would see the tsunami of “international community
outrage as poor Kurds are subjected to genocide”, or worse. The
whole narrative is ready, activists standing by, talking heads ready
to spill tears. This is why it is critical that Afrin is put under pressure by
Turkey, and that Turkey and US tackle the issue of foreign incursion
Into Syria without Syria’s permission. Turkey AND US should withdraw,
and Syria’s territory free from uninvited guests. Syria can then continue
the role of a sovereign, protecting all population. Even Iran said that
Turkey needs pernission.

US is losing thevlittle Arab tribes it had. The largest one just
defected to join Turkish militants. Many others defected to
Sirian Army. Since Kurds are not this populous in US demarcated
region — where would the security forces come from?
Very likely, shaven and washed up ISIS from the two refugee camps
that US is not allowing access to.

YPG would have to concede Afrin, and move out of the area to REALLY
Kurdish places, not occupy Arab towns. As there are not enough Kurds
to cover the “guarded” area — and Arabs are ready to rebel (Assad lpictures
showed up in the morning in Raqqa). — it is turning into a US 51st state,
unless it is clarified who actually lives there.

Posted by: Bianca | Jan 22 2018 4:57 utc | 78

Elijah Magnier's take.
Russia is offering the US a Turkish “olive branch” in Afrin

Elijah talks directly to the relevant persons where I have to work from open source material. But he confirms pretty much my take above.

The deal behind this is for Turkey to take Afrin (or to try) in exchange for Ru/Sy taking Idleb. The move is a consequences of the U.S. decision to occupy east-Syria. It is supposed to blow up the U.S. alliance with Kurds by demonstrating that it is unwilling to protect them.

Posted by: b | Jan 22 2018 6:43 utc | 79

@ b with his update/analysis confirmation

Good work b but I don't like the geopolitical situation any better.

We have a cornered failing empire here and they are hell bent on war to assert their military control of the world and expect that the financial control will continue to follow.

Any bets on some sort of "terrorist" event during the Olympics to rally the public around?

It is amazing to observe how Russia and China continue to let the US blunder on overextending itself. Now that the US is calling China and Russia the enemy directly I wonder what the next moves are.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 22 2018 7:06 utc | 80

Bbc arabic saysturkey has requested the help of its nato allies...

The sultan's revenge has certainly a better script than the last star wars

Posted by: Mina | Jan 22 2018 7:21 utc | 81

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 22, 2018 2:28:20 AM | 82

Elijah Magnier; Confirm b's point.

He's also one of the same bloggers who thought that Erdo would not dare to cross the border. ;)
Pro Tips

1) No blogger has access to the rooms in Washington or the Kremlin or Beijing and, has been glaringly shown, not even Ankara ;)


2) No blogger truly knows any more than those who post in the comments sections,,even if they do read each others ' predictions ' and agree ;)

Given the undeniable truth of the above 2 points [ unless you think you have knowledge I don't :D ] we should speculate and have fun because when the Butterfly does truly flap it's wings the hurricane will not be long in coming for us.

Posted by: 07564111 | Jan 22 2018 7:48 utc | 82

The Kurdish delusion about independence and statehood is curioulsly enough not only confided to Kurds. Compare the Kurds to Brexit, that was all about ethnic cleansing and having sovereignty, compare it to the Catalan independence referendum, it was all about being independent. In both cases with neighbours and environment being vey hostile to the move and a 100% failure rate guaranteed. Sure the Brexit did happen, and the Brits will pay for that for the next generation. Catalan independence is more comparable to the Kurdish independence wishes, hostility from outside to the very idea, an illegal secession and division of a sovereign state, both movements funded by the criminal US empire, no, absolute no thoughts what would happen afterwards. It is the US wrecking ball again at work.
The difference is that in the Kurdish case, the struggle is armed and there is a strong US wish to retain a presence in the area to curb further Iranian and Russian influence. But the Iranian influence is old,old, Damascus always being friendly to Tehran. The US presence in area has a 3 way goal: To be a staging area for insurgency in Turkey, Syria and Iran as its Kurdish mercs could easily blend into the Kurdish population in these areas.
The Kurds are been taken for their last ride, a ride that very well could all but annihilate them as an ethnic group, but the very least will set bact the Kurdish cause by two generations.

Posted by: Den Lille Abe | Jan 22 2018 7:52 utc | 83

Fake Russian @ 82
The fake Peter AU 1 you are referring to seems to have been zapped for impersonating a drunken Australian.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 22 2018 9:01 utc | 84

@ Fake Russian
Just looked up your company number. Address (Proxy/cover/fake whatever) is for Middlesex, England. One employee consultancy.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 22 2018 10:00 utc | 85

The PKK (aka PYD-YPG-YPJ-SDF) have Javelins, Milans, AT4s, Manpads, AVs, UAVs, kryptek camos, NATO trainers...

This is not on. Please consider Turkey as a former ALLY and a former NATO member.

This is no joke.

Nobody in Turkey cares about the 'U.S. Strategies', 'Russian Strategies', 'EU Meetings', NYT, WJ, FT articles any more. Enough is enough.

There is a case of a failed coup attempt in Turkey organised by America, there are countless Turkish casualties linked to the PKK attacks with US weapons and munitions on Turkish soil.

All Turks get from the American or European 'friends' is an 'I did not inhale' sort of a reply. I think this policy can no longer be viewed as 'denial or liying'. It is clearly a case of western schizophrenia.

If something is going to be done from now on, this new set of Turkish mind has to be accepted and then peace or war will ensue accordingly.

France calls for an urgent U.N. security council meeting because they are concerned about the humanitarian aspects of the Olive Branch Operation. For God's sake, they are ridiculous.

The Turks demand that the 'friends' should be clear about their policies. You want to destroy the country? Just say so and get on with it. Just do not act like a bunch of schizophrenics.

After the Efrin operation, the Manbij operation will come and after that there will be more.

Posted by: ConfusedPundit | Jan 22 2018 10:20 utc | 86

@ ConfusedPundit | Jan 22, 2018 5:20:49 AM | 89

Thank you for displaying this narrative. It has ca. 30% followers in Turkey. Difficult to measure as the media are controlled or forbidden. Especially the young educated generation does not believe in this narrative. To negotiate with people who have such a mindset is difficult.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Jan 22 2018 10:54 utc | 87

Posted by: Hausmeister | Jan 22, 2018 5:54:11 AM | 90

I doubt your assessment. What do you think would be the reaction of Germans and the German state if something like this happened in Germany - by a cross border force:

The urban phase of the conflict was also not a success story for the PKK. After spending nearly three years fortifying its armed presence in the urban centers, the PKK was still unable to withstand the government’s assault and control the area in a meaningful way. The group suffered many casualties, especially among its youth militia, which was at the frontlines of the fighting. The urban campaign also failed to accomplish its broader strategic goal of inspiring a large-scale Kurdish rebellion. In fact, the civilian death toll and the widespread damage to homes and critical infrastructure have cost the PKK significant local support.

In the long term, however, the PKK’s garner a longer term advantage from its turn to urban warfare. Fighting in cities attracts much more attention than atrocities in the countryside, and the images of death and destruction in cities like Cizre strengthen PKK’s strategic narrative of a conflict between the Turkish state and the Kurdish people.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 22 2018 11:45 utc | 88

add to 93 from the same link

Finally, when it comes to fighting in cities, the importance of winning the “battle of narratives” cannot be overstated. As the Americans learned nearly 40 years ago during the Battle of Hue, media attention and subsequent public scrutiny are far more pervasive in cities. Today, however, social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are making it more difficult for states to control the information environment during military operations, and in turn, to shape public perceptions in their favor. Turkey, for example, scored a military victory in the cities. But the PKK arguably won the battle of narratives, especially in the West. Note that the PKK is recognized as a terrorist organization by both the United States and the European Union. Especially with its Syrian affiliate’s rising popularity and the increasing anti-Erdogan sentiments, the PKK might one day successfully whitewash itself in Western eyes, especially as Turkey and the West drift further apart. This dynamic suggests armed groups might choose to target cities even when their chances of military success are slim, that is, if they believe that they can frame the urban battle in ways that will help them achieve their long-term strategic objectives.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 22 2018 11:49 utc | 89

@ somebody | Jan 22, 2018 6:45:07 AM | 88

Sorry, I cannot see from which reasons you doubt my assessment of ConfusedPundits statement. Which is possible only in a country where the media are controlled. The link you gave points to another aspect. People who are fed up with the AKP policy do not favour PKK instead. HDP is a different thing.
And to be straight: cross border actions are common there with all parties.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Jan 22 2018 12:32 utc | 90

Posted by: Hausmeister | Jan 22, 2018 7:32:44 AM | 90

Terrorism - and you agree the PKK acts terrorist ? - has the same effect on populations all over the world - it makes them agree to state power, state control and censorship.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 22 2018 12:36 utc | 91

@ somebody | Jan 22, 2018 7:36:45 AM | 91
From reasons unknown to me you misunderstand my position. I do not agree to terrorist acts of the PKK, but I do not overlook terrorist acts of the AKP state as well. Especially those that triggered again this bloody war. Quite a number of people there take this into consideration as well. One thing is clear: an own independent state for Kurds the majority of Turkish people rejects strongly. Until now the main tactique against Kurds was: there are no Kurds, unless terrorists. But with terrorist we cannot negotiate. Who is a terrorist? Everybody who rejects the official narratives. Quite a number of people are fed up with this. The combined support of (Erdogan-)AKP and MHP is below 50%, for sure. Many people sense that this concept has no future for them.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Jan 22 2018 12:51 utc | 92

@ Temporarily Sane 9, A P 14
Agree that Trump is a moron among morons. However, it seems to me that a fourth gen war between elites who benefit from U.S hegemony and elites pushing for a multipolar world order is most plausible underlying cause for the conflicts we see. In that context Trump is the perfect Cat’s Paw and Scapegoat.
Who really does the vetting / indoctrination? Who bailed out Trump’s business failings? Who ensured Trump got non-stop media coverage when previous elections saw Ron Paul treated as a non-entity? It is difficult to ask these questions without going down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories. As a person who sees a multipolar world as less destructive than hegemony I can see the chief moron as an enemy of my enemy – at least one day a month or so.

Posted by: Citizen621 | Jan 22 2018 13:09 utc | 93

Posted by: Hausmeister | Jan 22, 2018 7:51:30 AM | 92

I just do not share your optimism. War is not a good time for freedom.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 22 2018 13:23 utc | 94

Posted by: Hausmeister | Jan 22, 2018 7:51:30 AM | 92


Until now the main tactique against Kurds was: there are no Kurds, unless terrorists. But with terrorist we cannot negotiate.

Are you sure? Fun fact: Kurds traditionally vote AKP

The reluctance of the HDP to boldly condemn the PKK has apparently made the pro-Kurdish party lose many of its voters.

“Following the June elections, the illegal PKK started a campaign of violence - and the legal pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) failed to object to this violence in a clear and sharp way. As a consequence, some Kurdish votes went to AKP as well,” wrote Ahmet Hakan on the website

Joost Lagendijk, a Dutch expert on Turkey, also attributed the loss of HDP votes to PKK militancy.

“The HDP suffered considerable losses in its strongholds in southeast Turkey of all places, which indicates that many Kurds reject the PKK and the return to violence,” wrote Lagendijk.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 22 2018 13:32 utc | 95


> Was he thinking about the Kurds when he talked about a democracy experiment ?
> It also makes the words from Tillerson and Rice at Stanford look hollow and empty. :D :D

This are words that go together wellllll....

> ....experiment ?
> Stanford......

Shivers, goosebumps.

Stanford Prison Experiment

Just associations running wild.

Posted by: Arioch | Jan 22 2018 13:40 utc | 96

@ somebody
May be it is more kindof „desperate optimism“. As long as narratives like the one of
ConfusedPundit | Jan 22, 2018 5:20:49 AM | 86
have an audience in Turkey it will be damned hard to find any solution. These people have been misled about their own history for at least 100 years now. Concerning recent developments it is even worse.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Jan 22 2018 13:52 utc | 97

@ somebody | Jan 22, 2018 8:32:46 AM | 95
The assessment of Lagendijk is correct - but does not contradict mine. One has to take into account the nearly complete media coverage the (Erdogan-) AKP has. Only a minority has an idea who started the violence again, the majority does not even know that Öcalan dropped the idea of a own state, they do not know that Erdogan had supported terroristic activities against Syria since long, he even has permitted the supply of Sarin and its precursors to Islamists on Turkish soil. These things one can learn in Turkey only in private talks amoung friends. Really: the concept is „we do not negotiate with terrorists“ and at the same time „there are no non-terrorist Kurds“. Those conservative religious poeple of Kurdish ethnicity exist, not few, but these are kind of assimilated into the nationalistic-islamistic narrative and have no problems with it. Much worse than in the West people live in filter bubbles and the regime does a lot not to change this situation. As a foreigner one would not realize anything from it.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Jan 22 2018 14:03 utc | 98

b @79

If there is an agreement as Magnier says then why was has Assad been complaining loudlly that the Turkish attack only helps the terrorists? And he goes on to say that Turkey has been a destabilizing force since the beginning.

Could it be that the “olive branch” refers to making amends to the Russians after the attack on the Russian base?

I think it will be some time before we have a full understanding of what occurred behind the scenes.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 22 2018 14:12 utc | 99

There seems to be a consencus among analysts, bloggers, and commentators that the US military's proclamation regarding the formation of a 30,000 strong border patrol force, was an UNINTENTIONAL judgemental error. Indeed, Tillerson's subsequent backtracking and denials reinforced that view. But all is not as it seems. The US de facto can muster 30, and even more thousands of armed men from the ranks of the Kurdish, Arab, and even IS militias. The US is already arming and training them. This force therefore already EXISTS! The US announcement only served to christen it, and (mis)designate it's prospective role. I cannot align with the view that it was a case of misunderstanding and a simple blunder. Such actions are not taken lightly , nor independently. In my humble opinion, the move was co-ordinated and intended to offend Turkey and provoke exactly the reaction we now see unfolding. If Turkey cannot soon extricate itself, it will become bogged down in a never-ending guerrilla war of attrition which may spill over the border within it's territory, and ultimately weaken Erdogan and hasten his demise.There is no point in clearing Afrin of the YPG (if that can be achieved) if Turkey cannot do likewise all alomg it's border further east. From fighting the Kurds in southeast Turkey, he will now be fighting them in northern Syria too, running the grave risk of alienating himself further from the US and NATO, thus setting the scene for a new coup.

Posted by: SPYRIDON POLITIS | Jan 22 2018 14:20 utc | 100

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