Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 15, 2018

Syria - U.S. Traps Itself , Commits To Occupation, Helps To Sustain The Astana Agreement

The Trump administration policy in Syria is finally coming into daylight. It has decided to permanently separate north-east of Syria from the rest of Syria with the rather comical idea that this will keep Iranian influence out of Syria and give the U.S. a voice in a final Syrian settlement. This move lacks strategical foresight:

The U.S.-led Coalition against Islamic State is currently training a force to maintain security along the Syrian border as the operation against ISIS shifts focus. The 30,000-strong force will be partly composed of veteran fighters and operate under the leadership of the Syrian Democratic Forces, CJTF-OIR told The Defense Post.
“The Coalition is working jointly with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to establish and train the new Syrian Border Security Force (BSF). Currently, there are approximately 230 individuals training in the BSF’s inaugural class, with the goal of a final force size of approximately 30,000,” CJTF-OIR Public Affairs Officer Colonel Thomas F. Veale said.
Veale acknowledged that more Kurds will serve in the areas of northern Syria, while more Arabs will serve in areas along the Euphrates River Valley and along the border with Iraq.

The SDF and the Kurds are under control of the PKK/YPK, a terrorist organization that is nearly daily fighting and killing Turkish forces within Turkey. The Arabs which ostensibly shall seal the area off from the rest of Syria are most likely tribal forces that were earlier aligned with the Islamic State.

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:

Such initiatives endangering our national security and Syria’s territorial integrity through the continuation of cooperation with PYD/YPG in contradiction with the commitments and statements made by the US are unacceptable. We condemn the insistence on this flawed approach and remind once again that Turkey is determined and capable to eliminate any threats targeting its territory.

Russia noted that such a U.S. occupation has no legal basis:

The Russian foreign minister stressed decisions of the kind were taken without any grounds, coming from a UN Security Council resolution, or from some agreements reached during the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva.

Syria warned that any Syrian taking part in this move will be in trouble:

The Ministry considered any Syrian citizen who takes part in the US-backed militia as a traitor to the Syrian state and people and will be treated as one, adding that these militias will hinder reaching to a political solution to the situation in Syria.

The U.S.Congress is concerned about this move:

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, David Satterfield, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, outlined US goals in Syria as finishing off IS, stabilizing northeastern Syria and countering Iranian influence.
“That won’t pass muster,” committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., interjected.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who initially asked Satterfield the question he declined to answer, expressed concerns that eliminating Iranian influence from Syria entirely was a fool’s errand that could keep US troops tied up in Syria forever.
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., the top Democrat on the committee, also voiced concern that the Trump administration does not have the necessary legal authorization from Congress to keep US troops in Syria beyond the defeat of IS.

Just two month back, in a phone call with the Russian President Putin, the President Trump seemed to be against such a move:

The Presidents affirmed their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, unity, independence, territorial integrity, and non-sectarian character, as defined in UNSCR 2254, ...

The U.S. move comes at the right time for Syria. The Russian, Turkish, Iranian and Syrian agreement of Astana set up a de-escalation zone in Idleb governorate but committed the parties to continue the fight against al-Qaeda. The agreement was in imminent danger of breaking down as Turkey protested against the current Syrian operation against al-Qaeda in east-Idleb. Turkey cooperates with al-Qaeda to keep its options open for a take-over of some Syrian land. It is also concerned about the north-western Kurdish enclave of Afrin which is protected by Russian forces.

But the U.S.move in the east constitutes a greater threat to Turkey than tiny Afrin. The east is more important to Turkey than Idelb in the west. The whole eastern half of Turkey is now endangered by a Kurdish force at its underbelly. The U.S. move increases Turkey's incentive to keep the Astana agreement about Idleb intact and to re-unite with Syria, Russia and Iran against the U.S.-Kurdish alliance. Erdogan, with his usual rage, was clear that he can not and will not let the U.S. move stand:

“A country we call an ally is insisting on forming a terror army on our borders,” Erdogan said of the United States in a speech in Ankara. “What can that terror army target but Turkey?”

“Our mission is to strangle it before it’s even born.”

Joshua Landis believes that the U.S. has given up on Turkey as an ally and is solely committed to do Israel's and Saudi Arabia's bidding. It is completely concentrated on countering Iran. But there are few if any Iranian troops in Syria and the supply line from Tehran to Damascus is via air and sea and can not be influenced from an enclosed Kurdish enclave. Moreover, the U.S. presence in the north-east is not sustainable.

The north-eastern U.S. held area of Syria is surrounded by forces hostile to it. Turkey in the north, Syria in the west and south, Iraq, with a pro-Iranian government, in the east. It has no ports and all its air-supplies have to cross hostile air space.

Internally the area consists of a Kurdish core but has nearly as many Arab inhabitants as Kurds. The Kurds are not united, there are many who are against the PKK/YPG and support the Syrian government. Probably half of the Arabs in the area were earlier Islamic State fighters and the other half favors the rule by Damascus. What all Arabs there have in common is hatred for their new Kurdish overlords. This all is fertile ground for an insurgency against the U.S. occupation and its Kurdish YPG proxy forces. It will need only little inducement and support from Damascus, Ankara or elsewhere to draw the U.S. presence into a chaotic fight for survival.

Turkey's wannabe Sultan Erdogan has long tried to play Russia against the U.S. and vice versa. He ordered Russian air defense systems which will enable him to withstand a U.S. air attack. At the same time he allowed U.S. ships to pass the Bosporus Straits into the Black Sea and to threaten Russia in Crimea even when the Montreux Convention would have allowed him to restrict their passages. The U.S. now leaves him no choice. Russia is the one force that can help him to handle the new threat.

The NATO bigwigs in Brussels must be nervous. Turkey has the second biggest army within NATO. It controls the passage to the Black Sea and with Incirlik the most important NATO airbase in the south-eastern realm. All these give Turkey leverage that it can use when Russia offers it a decent alternative to NATO membership.

One wonders who in the White House developed this idea. It goes against everything Trump had said about U.S. engagement in the Middle East. It goes against NATO's interests. There is no legal basis for the move. It has little chance of being sustainable.

My guess is that National Security Advisor McMaster (pushed by his mentor General Petraeus) is the brain behind this. He has already proven to lack any strategic vision beyond moving military brigades here and there. What will he do next? Order the CIA to restart arming al-Qaeda aka the "Syrian rebels" who just sent their emissaries to Washington to beg for renewed support? Turkey needs Russia and Russia is fighting those "Syrian rebels". Why should Turkey, which controls the border to Syria, allow new CIA weapons to pass?

It is beyond me how the U.S. expects to sustain its positions in the north-east of Syria. It is hard to understand why it believes that such a position will give it any influence over Iran's commitment to Syria. The move robs it of any political flexibility. It is a trap of its own design.

In the end the U.S. military will have to retreat from the area. The Kurds will have to crawl to Damascus to beg for forgiveness. The strategic shortsightedness of both, the U.S. administration and the YPG leadership, amazes me. What do these people think when they make such decisions?


Posted by b on January 15, 2018 at 18:42 UTC | Permalink

next page »

as long as Trump caves to US Deep State/Shadow government as in Afghanistan, he's safe It's as simple as that..

Posted by: Stephen Kalil | Jan 15 2018 18:51 utc | 1

thanks b.. converting tribes from loyalty to isis to loyalty to sdf or whatever is a fun trick! the usa is full for fun tricks.. this one ain't going to work.. and since when was the usa ever interested in international law? why would this be any different?

i agree the timing is good for some kind of wake up call to erdogan..

key paragraph from you, which i agree with - "Internally the area consists of a Kurdish core but has nearly as many Arab inhabitants as Kurds. The Kurds are not united, there are many who are against the PKK/YPG and support the Syrian government. Probably half of the Arabs in the area were earlier Islamic State fighters and the other half favors the rule by Damascus. What all Arabs there have in common is hatred for their new Kurdish overlords. This all is fertile ground for an insurgency against the U.S. occupation and its Kurdish YPG proxy forces. It will need only little inducement and support from Damascus, Ankara or elsewhere to draw the U.S. presence into a chaotic fight for survival."

the question remains - how does erdogan respond? outwardly he is talking trash about the usa's agenda... is the outer talk a cover for something else coming down the pike?

" The strategic shortsightedness of both, the U.S. administration and the YPG leadership, amazes me." the usa seems to like creating a lot of mayham and disorder in areas they want to control.. i think that is the long term view that are operating from...

Posted by: james | Jan 15 2018 19:03 utc | 2

well it looks like its time to give ourselves our own Vietnam again, again, again.

Posted by: pB | Jan 15 2018 19:25 utc | 3

Saudi women can watch soccer and go to the movie and that's enough to keep MSM from mentioning the continuous bombing of starved Yemenis

Posted by: Mina | Jan 15 2018 19:26 utc | 4

My take on it: after Syria/Iran/Russia clears Idlib and pockets around Damascus, they'll make a deal with some Arabs/Kurds East of Euphrates and will do a lightning strike to recovery territory ala Kirkut.

The US-led occupation in Syria is unsustainable long term, the Resistance axis have many tools at its disposal to make it very costly either. Just Syria has its hands full at the moment and likely postpone Kurds issue till later.

Posted by: Harry | Jan 15 2018 19:28 utc | 5

I'm convinced more and more that we are witnessing the decompensation of a declining Empire. Unable to retreat anywhere for fear of losing "credibility" it tries to fight everywhere, thus stretching it's resources to the breaking point. Admitting defeat in Syria would be a serious blow to US credibility and a huge victory for Russian credibility. And so they extend and pretend and hope for a miracle. But in the absence of a miracle it becomes an even worse defeat.

It is like asking why Hitler did not allow a withdrawal from Stalingrad when it was still possible. Very much the same thought process at work.

Posted by: lysander | Jan 15 2018 19:33 utc | 6

I surmise that US actions in Syria are dictated by a higher power. Israel.

Anything that weakens its neighbours strengthens Israel. In the meanwhile, the
idea seems to be that that border guard will impede passage of Iranians to Syria from Iraq
on their way to Israel. The presence of American troops, once in the open makes the area
sort of a no man´s land for Syria's friends and Syria itself. The US can always claim that in
attacking the SDF, Syria or whomever would be attacking US Allies which the US is
"bound to defend".

For all his protestations and vows, Assad knows that if Syrian forces open fire on
the US soldiers it will open disproportionate escalation by the US.

Turkey is in a position to make the US think twice. It has a sizeable Army and reasonable
Airforce. There are no pending elections in Turkey and Erdogan is very capable of hitting
the US that still holds his enemy.

This is going to exert a sizeable drain on US finances. But Israel doesn't care- Let the goys pay!

And anyway, the mint is still working and producing an endless river of green backs.
So What me worry?

These cumulative actions and frictions and bullyoing by the US get us closer and closer and closer
to the pending nuclear winter.

Maybe FB can tell us if nuclear winter is sure to follow a nuclear exchange?

Posted by: CarlD | Jan 15 2018 19:34 utc | 7

@8 carl.. i agree with you for the most part and enjoy the humour too!

Posted by: james | Jan 15 2018 19:37 utc | 8

A lot of odd things going on at the moment with all players hold their cards close. Oddest thing is the ISIS pocket south east Idlib, with HTS fighters joining ISIS to turn and fight their former friends rather than the Syrian government. No fighting between Syrian government and the ISIS pocket to speak of.
Reports of a couple of skirmishes, but Syrian civil war map simply report this as two incidences of SAA being 'captured' but no fighting. The pocket seems some sort of Trojan horse.
The recent drone attack originating from "FSA" area in south west Idlib? CIA asset visits Washington at the same time? CIA seems to be still very active within Idlib.
Reuters has a follow on article on the CIA headchoppers.
Syrian rebel delegation in Washington seeking revival of CIA aid
CIA in Idlib? Making moves to put pressure on Trump?
Trump admin's move in creating Rojava - breaking up NATO?
A US/Israeli "Rojava" will punch a hole in NATO by pushing Turkey out, with US left in untenable position in Rojava, and having to leave.
But then Rojava may be just a temporary positioning for Trump moves on Iran, to be discarded once the moves have been made?

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 15 2018 19:38 utc | 9

I see eye to eye with Harry. Russia and Assad plus Iranian soldiers will take the rest of Idlib and areas around damascus, with both military force and deconfliction moves.Then they can, with a few incentives, make the US presence in a hot hell all beyond the Euphrates ans syrian southeast.
Which by the way is a desertic landscape which means that assad may put hands on to economic reconstruction of Syria.

Posted by: augusto | Jan 15 2018 20:33 utc | 10

Re: pocket of strangeness (north-east Hama province?), Peter AU 1 @ 9

Perhaps it fits the logic of this war. There is a class of fighters who are not easily employable otherwise (recommendations from the last three places of work?) but who would like to survive a bit more. SAA and allies must be careful with their priorities, and the pocket is not on the top -- although yesterday SAA took over three villages that are closest to an important highway. HTS and friends want to stop the recent jaggernaut of the Tigers through flank attacks etc., and to get sufficient manpower, they decided to evacuate Hass plateau. The retreating jihadists had a choice of glory in the dogged attacks on the Tigers (there are other forces there too), and mind you, this is "blood and glory", or relatively quiet life in the ISIS pocket.

Re: PKK as terrorist thugs. They are more like guerrila fighters, they take some care not to attack civilians, they have some legitimate causes, and it is Erdogan who restarted the civil war using extremely bloody provocations. His political goals are at odds with roughly 50% of the citizens of Turkey, and a war with Turkish Kurds allows to eliminate their political party, thus neutralizing 10-15% of the electorate, and gain support of Kurd-hating extreme nationalists, and voila! he can become hereditary sultan.

Re: converting IS supporters to SDF troops. Sounds actually reasonable, but a marriage made in heaven it is not.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jan 15 2018 20:43 utc | 11

Re CarlD, you ask "if nuclear winter is sure to follow a nuclear exchange?"

Not necessarily, if the "exchange" is limited to a handful of weapons. Peer-reviewed studies predict that a so-called "limited" or "regional" nuclear war, fought between India and Pakistan (with a total of 100 atomic bombs -- 15 kiloton weapons -- detonated in their cities) could create the coldest average temperatures experienced in the Northern Hemisphere in the last 1000 years. See Local Nuclear War, Global Suffering in Scientific American.

The scientists used the India-Pakistan scenario as a baseline, as it includes less than 1% of the explosive power contained in the launch-ready nuclear arsenals of the US and Russia. The India-Pakistan war was predicted to put 5-7 million tons of soot/smoke above cloud level into the stratosphere, where it would remain for at least a decade. It would form a global stratospheric smoke layer that would turn the blue skies of Earth to grey; the smoke would block about 5-10% of sunlight, which would heat the stratosphere - destroying much of the protective ozone layer and thus allowing huge amounts of UV-B to reach Earth's surface (see Multidecadal global cooling and unprecedented ozone loss following a regional nuclear conflict ) -- while simultaneously blocking enough warming sunlight to produce a "nuclear autumn" effect, creating "little Ice Age" temperatures for several years. This would significantly decrease global grain production for at least several years (no wheat crop in Canada, decreased corn, soy, and rice crops in the US and Asia), leading to the deaths of as many as two billion people, see Nuclear Famine: Two Billion People at Risk?

A war fought with the US-Russian launch ready weapons would likely put 50 million to 180 million tons of soot in the stratosphere, blocking as much as 70% of the sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere and 35% in the Southern Hemisphere. On a cloudless day, the sun would resemble a full moon at midnight. The lost of warming sunlight would quickly create average surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere colder than those experienced 18,000 years ago at the height of the last Ice Age. Temperatures would fall below freezing every day for 1-3 years in central North American and Eurasia. Growing seasons would be eliminated for a decade or longer. See Catastrophic Climatic Consequences of Nuclear Conflict and Turning a Blind Eye Towards Armageddon — U.S. Leaders Reject Nuclear Winter Studies

Posted by: Perimetr | Jan 15 2018 20:45 utc | 12

It is a very good piece. The Saudi-Turkish dynamics, however, is evidently very complex at the moment. But then again--the area is a snake pit. Per this:

My guess is that National Security Advisor McMaster (pushed by his mentor General Petraeus) is the brain behind this. He has already proven to lack any strategic vision beyond moving military brigades here and there.

If it is him--no surprise here. He commanded, in the field, a regiment and then ended up in some "doctrinal command" in Pentagon whose appalling war record, which is a first derivative of "doctrines", is a liability rather than a strength on resume. McMaster's Ph.D. amounted to browsing minutes of meetings of the US top political brass during Vietnam War and then trying to "replay" it. It is not a real academic work.

Posted by: SmoothieX12 | Jan 15 2018 20:56 utc | 13

So the US has recently made its presence in Afghanistan costlier and less sustainable by pissing off Pakistan. Now it locks itself into Kurdistan. Good gig for the aerospace part of the MIC, pity the ground forces.

It will be interesting to see how the invading Americans manage to use invaders (Kurds) to hold Arab territory.

Posted by: fx | Jan 15 2018 21:03 utc | 14

4000 US boots on the ground in 14 bases, none of which could hold off a sustained assault by rocket fire, MLRS. Air cover for these bases is hourly deconfliction arrangements with Russia. Resupply is by air.

This is like 14 Khe Sahns. General Giap humiliated the Marines and US Command for months with artillery.
After six months, the US withdrew, heroically packaged as a victory. Khe Sahn belonged to Vietnam thereafter.

Read this history and Assessment. The US didn't know what the hell was the NAV strategy, and Westmoreland never understood Giap's strategies and tactics. The US military ever since Nam has learned nothing. They defeat totally helpless nations and forces so weak as to make the achievement laughable in military history.

In Syria, the US and Israel are buying, via proxies, Russia, Syria, Turkey and Iran's strengths. The US does not have a prayer. It will last as long as the Kurds want to take the incoming pain. I believe that missiles and smart munitions have won most of the key battles. Ground troops won the liberations of cities with heroic efforts. But the Russians have devastated the various enemies with high tech munitions. The Kurds are about to taste some of that. So far, the moderates, the AQ, al Nusra and ISIS have all been humbled by Russian strategy, tactics, munitions and logistical support of Assad and his allies.

Now, Turkey will get some of the Russian backing if it carefully targets the Kurds who are not aligned with Russia and Assad. Erdogan must be careful. He will not be allowed freedom to fly over his armored columns and to protect his forces as they advance on the Kurds. The US has supplied TOW missiles and MANPADS to use against Turkey's best units. Erdogan must have support for his maneuvers and air domination.Only Russia can give him that.

The US intention is to fracture Syria and Turkey. It is the Israeli game plan. The US is making it happen.
The goal is not just to limit Russia and Assad to the coastal region. It is to bring down Erdogan and deprive Iran of Syrian and Iraqi operational access, as well as to break the Iranian Shiite Arc.

Since this is US military plan and execution, Iran, Turkey and Syria must engage the US bases and pile up a significant body count of Kurds and their supporters. There can be no sanctuary in Syria for the US. It has to become like Vietnam, where casualties were the front page story every day and the news film at dinner was about the disaster the military command had created for itself. Blood loss, severed bones and incinerated bodies is all the psychopaths in the NSC and Pentagon fear getting back to the parents and families. General Giap understood this. Erdogan has to understand they are hellbent to destroy him and his nation.

This border force of Kurds is the Army the US will use to wage the next Syrian War. It's a new war aimed at Iranian influence, Turkish stability, Russian presence and Assad rule. It can be a short war if the US plans are disrupted by coordination of forces, use of rockets and missiles and the destruction of US bases.

The US is staying to wage war. It's time to give it to them. Six months is all they could take at Khe Sahn. This should be over by July 2018 if done right. It's an election year. The message of a defeat in Syria and bloody exit won't play well for the neocons.

Make the psychos and commanders pay for the criminality they pursue. Sadly, soldiers on the ground will take the casualties not the pathological leaders. The US will not leave until it is forced out.

Posted by: Red Ryder | Jan 15 2018 21:23 utc | 15

Lysander @ 6: Nazi Germany forces and their central / eastern European allies could not have withdrawn from Stalingrad: in November 1942, the Soviets attacked the Romanian and Hungarian forces flanking the German army and encircled it. The Germans could not retreat and were under Hitler's orders not to try to break out of their cauldroning. They were supplied by air reinforcements.

The aim was to take control of Stalingrad and with it control of the lower Volga River down to Baku and the Caspian Sea where Germany could gain control of petroleum supplies in the area. Retreating from Stalingrad would have meant giving up this aim.

BTW did you mean "decomposition" i/o "decompensation"?

Posted by: Jen | Jan 15 2018 21:24 utc | 16

The latest move (manpad rumor + 30k army) seems to be pointed against Erdogan which might drive him closer to Russia again. But I do think the US empire's presence in north-eastern Syria is as sustainable as their presence is in Guantanamo Cuba, Jordan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Djibouti, Niger, Mali, Japan, Germany, Belgium, South Korea, Brazil, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Philipines, Ukraine, ... .

I don't consider it worth arguing over since the word terrorist is almost exclusively defined within a political context but from a civilian point of view, the PKK aren't terrorists but rebels or secessionists since their targets are almost exclusively military. They don't terrorize whole populations with (suicide) bombings or other means of mass terror. They're also not fascits like Daesh who accept only their own religious brand and deem all the rest worth killing or raping. Under the SDF umbrella, it's slightly different but still not enough to label SDF terrorists. The Syrian Kurds also seem to have rather good relations with the Russians so I don't see their unrightfully accumulated influence in Syria dwindling soon.

Posted by: xor | Jan 15 2018 21:33 utc | 17

Mock Erdogan, but use Erdogan's language to describe the YPG/PKK? Bah.

Posted by: Andrew | Jan 15 2018 21:41 utc | 18

The US logic is to corner Turkey into a lonely confrontation with the Kurds armed by the USA.
They expect Erdogan's weak army to take a beating thus humiliating Erdogan just as he is struggling to get sufficient votes to keep his party and himself in power. The USA want Erdogan to beg for his survival as a president.
Erdogan is isolated. He has learned the hard way that his best allies in the region to fight Kurds independence ambitions are the central government of Syria and Iraq. By interfering in Syria he has destroyed the delicate balance in Syrian.
Now desperate Erdogan could save himself by making a serious U-turn, dump the useless FSA and unite with the Syrian army to defeat the Syrian Kurds and give a blow to the USA and Israel.
Will Erdogan be smart enough to change path before it is too late?

Posted by: virgile | Jan 15 2018 21:55 utc | 19

Re the assumption that a US presence on SDF territory is not sustainable

I don’t like to say it, but I think that assumption is wrong. I sure agree that what the Trump administration is pulling off in Syria is a huge mistake and doomed to fail, but not because the US wouldn’t have a way of getting supplies (and lots of them) to their own troops or SDF fighters.

Iraq may have shared a common enemy with Syria – ISIS. But apart from military operations with some level of coordination, Iraq seems to have refrained from taking sides in the war on Syria. I can’t think of one single instance where some Iraqi politician or official would have condemned US/Israeli/Saudi/Turkish aggression against Syria or would have offered military assistance or proposed collaboration. Brothers in faith or no brothers on faith. Iraq seems to be busy trying to save itself. That really is the weird and ugly success of the horrible invasion in ’03, Iraq is now perennially pre-occupied, outwardly weak and N-E-E-D-Y. So, even if most US troops there are gone, Washington still has the power of the purse. Iraq won’t get in the way of any US foreign-policy steamroller.

That said, regarding possible supply routes into SDF territory, the US is absolutely free to land stuff in Basra and haul it towards the Iraqi-Syrian border. Have a look at who controls Iraq’s most important deepwater port in Basra (it’s interesting in its own right, even without the Syria context). Company called NAWAH? Fun fact, both founders/CEOs are heavyweights. One of them is ex-Pentagon and b-o-t-h are “Council on Foreign Relations”. That’s your ‘Deep State’ there, if only its fringes (my guess). CFR equals strategically important business. Long story short, whatever stuff the US want to get to their SDF pawns, sensitive goods, weapons, it will reach its destination, no questions asked.

PS: some interesting pictures of Basra port in the NYT

Posted by: Scotch Bingeington | Jan 15 2018 22:25 utc | 20

On Nov. 28th 1942 - if I remember exact date - Hitler received a delegation of engineers who advised him to ' draw down a comprehensive peace settlement' . Their statistics from the battle of Smolensk showed Germany would bleed to death if war continued for any real length of time.
Russian resistance at Smolensk showed that it would ! Napoleon , in essence was caught there too with unsustainable looses .
Hitler was quiet for a considerable length of time and replied '' What do you expect me to do about it ?''
After being told that withdrawl was necessary in peace treaty terms he finally replied '' At this point that is almost impossible to achieve !

The historical parallel that would be worrying 'thinking' Americans ( perhaps both hmispheres ) is with the sudden collapse of the Spanish world Empire under Olivera in the early sixteenth century .

Posted by: ashley albanese | Jan 15 2018 22:26 utc | 21

I don't think there's a brain behind the continued occupation of the Jazira (Jazira means island, in this case the area east of the Euphrates and west of Mosul). It's the simple follow-on of the decision to introduce US special forces to support the Kurds, and the desire to break up Syria. A policy poorly thought out. The Syrian Kurds are not particularly for the US, and are ready to make a deal with Asad. The Jazira, equally, is not a territory which lends itself to an independent state (never happened in history). The US occupation will continue as long as the US is willing to put in the resources, and then will collapse.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 15 2018 22:28 utc | 22

Virgile: All Erdogan be smart enough . . .

He could’ve committed whole-heartedly to R+6 long ago. He hasn’t. His animosity toward the Kurds drives them into the Assad must go! Coalition.

Have US-Israel-KSA built a better mousetrap? Seems like isolated Eastern Syria may be a feature, not a bug. Won’t desperately poor, universally hated Kurds fight hard for the Empire in Round 3?

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 15 2018 22:32 utc | 23

re Scotch Bingeington 19

Iraq is now perennially pre-occupied, outwardly weak and N-E-E-D-Y. So, even if most US troops there are gone, Washington still has the power of the purse. Iraq won’t get in the way of any US foreign-policy steamroller.
You don't understand very much. Iraqi policy is going toward getting rid of the Americans. Why else did Abbadi declare victory over ISIS so early, other than to say that the Americans are no longer needed? The Americans are increasingly irrelevant in Iraq, and I imagine will get the message sooner or later.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 15 2018 22:50 utc | 24

My guess is that National Security Advisor McMaster (pushed by his mentor General Petraeus) is the brain behind this.

Right on McMaster, but he has no brain for foreign affairs.
McMaster was a poor choice for US national security advisor. All he knows is army tactics and American history. He has not been educated in, and has no experience in, foreign affairs. He's a graduate of the US Military Academy and has two degrees (MA and PhD) in American history. That must have been tough./s

Recently, McMaster accused Iran of seeking “hegemonic aims" in the Middle East. He said Tehran was "using a campaign of subversion in Iraq" and providing support for president Bashar Al Assad of Syria, where "about 80 per cent of Assad fighters are Iranian proxies in Syria to establish a land bridge over into the Mediterranean."

The current Iran "land bridge" exists. It is a fact not altered by the current US + allies occupation in eastern Syria. Here is the US + allies deployment in Syria, and here are Iran's unimpeded land corridors to the Med.

So the whole US affair is a(nother) exercise in futility, a result of McMaster's stupidity. (But a stupid US general is hardly unusual.)

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 15 2018 22:58 utc | 25

The USA has problems. The biggest one is how to withdraw from the Middle East and its global empire without splintering apart. Without the draft, the USA must employ proxy armies. In Syria the only ones left are the Kurds. The Caliphate is gone. Their support automatically alienates Turkey, Iran and Iraq governments and the Kurds are landlocked. But, to give them up is to give up the Empire and rule by supranational corporate institutions. Perhaps 38 minutes of waiting for the bomb to end it all in Hawaii has illuminated the insanity of intentional chaos whose only purpose is to enrich the wealthy.

Posted by: VietnamVet | Jan 15 2018 23:20 utc | 26

Big Picture:

Both Russia and China have crafted their policies to avoid direct military engagement with the Outlaw US Empire, favoring hybrid war methodologies that the Empire can't adequately counter. The Empire's tried to get Russia to directly attack on several occasions as the only way it can avoid its downfall is through military victory. None of this is Trump's doing; he's just an ignorant patsy. The people and institutions forming/backing the CIA/Deep State have the most to lose and gain; they care only for themselves, viewing the other 7 billion humans as expendable trash. That's the primary reason the moves we've seen surrounding Syria as outwardly tentative because caution's required. But now as we're seeing, Imperial planners are abandoning the little caution they've employed as their desperation increases. The times are more dangerous than 1962. But unlike then, we now know who the true enemy actually is and where they reside.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 15 2018 23:35 utc | 27

reply to 26
I agree, and I think this Kurdish box the US has created is a hoped for better mouse trap to directly engage Russia. If they can get Russia to directly attack this Kurdish enterprise they can justify further expenditures along Russia's borders, further sanctions and further escalation in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria. As someone earlier said, this Kurdish box may be a feature not a bug.
And thank you to b and to all the excellent posts and their links on this story.

Posted by: frances | Jan 15 2018 23:46 utc | 28

(I caught the Syrian rebel push for refunding at Reuters but noticed b is on top of it all and the Kurdish question, too. Bravo for doing what the main US media conveniently overlooks.)

CarlD 7
You're right. The Israelis have been allied with the Kurds for decades. It's funny that the FSA is pushing the argument of confronting Iran as the reason they need money.

Posted by: Curtis | Jan 16 2018 0:00 utc | 29

Erdogan has much in common with successive amerikan administrations since the G Washington get go, that is he never saw a treaty, handshake or other sort of deal he didn't feel obliged to shit on for his own short term selfish needs.
I would be much more comfortable if Erdie had appeared to go along with this stupidity at the start.

Then we would know he had some slimy stunt to pull on the amerikans when they were least prepared, this way it seems that is what he will do to Russia, Iran & Syria. By 'going with the flow' he doesn't upset the inflow of goods, services and tourists from Russia while he holds amerika's feet to the fire. Remember too that on the surface the presence of a Kurdish militia/terrorist grouping right on Turkey's border is going to be extremely problematic for NATO, as Turkey's territorial integrity is directly threatened in a way that amerika's is not. According to NATO rules if Turkey gets into conflict with an unrecognised state (amerika will never get recognition for Kurdistan or whatever, thru the UN) it will be Turkey that NATO is obliged to assist.
We already know that amerika's direct control over Kurd pols and associated militias is limited, even more so for the takfiris who are the other part of this crazy marriage of insanity meets imbecility. These guys will get into an escalating conflict with Turkey that is certain.
The amerikan arsekissers in NATO may try to drag their feet but they cannot just refuse to be involved, because if they do NATO is over.
This puts Erdie in a really strong position vis a vis Kurdistan, an opportunity to squeeze amerika hard for his heart's desires. Even better is the certainty that kurdistan must eventually fall over because of its incipient instability, much less the circle of powers pulling their proxies' strings. This is a win win for Erdy, he can pretend to go along with Russia & Syria while pressuring amerika to up its offer, then when he has screwed as much as posssible outta the seppos, sell out his 'allies' collect his booty and then stand back and watch amerika's latest craziness fall apart.
Does anyone really imagine an unreconstructed slimebucket like Recip Erdogan will not leap and grab this once in a lifetime opportunity with both hands?

Posted by: Debsisdead | Jan 16 2018 0:06 utc | 30

Some brilliant comments in this thread,i have to ask, is the US leadership just stupid? I don't get it... Why alienate Turkey? Why push Iran closer to Russia? Why?
Even if you are intent on playing the Great Game & controlling ME & Central Asia, why pursue the current course? Lends credence to claims that Saudi Arabia & Israel are calling the shots, but even there, I question the sanity of Israeli & SA leadership, they might get more than they bargained for out of all this...

Supporting a Kurdish enclave in NE Syria might just be the stupidest thing the Pentagon ever did

Will also prove to be political poison for DJT
Retarded at every level. Oh well

Posted by: Dan | Jan 16 2018 0:37 utc | 31

“The PKK ... a terrorist organization “
B, are you paid to say that ?

Posted by: Demijohnt | Jan 16 2018 0:38 utc | 32

God, Syria is such an exercise in competing interests....

A) The Syrian government needs only to let the Kurds bleed. As outlined by b, nature will take its course on that. Whether the US bleeds or not alongside the Kurds, we'll see.

B) Cardin is a surprise. He's a complete Israel-sycophant on probably everything else. Why is he expressing 'concern" on this. I don't pretend to understand this inconsistency.

C) ZERO international legitimacy for US occupation of Syrian territory. Syria is not Palestine and has long-standing sovereign rights, especially WITHOUT any UNSC resolution for some neoliberal/con invasion of Syria. Syria wins that fight. It's just TOO blatant a transgression (aggressive war the ultimate offense) to let stand by anyone.

D) The US relies, directly and profoundly, on Turkey (Incirlik) to stage/prosecute US "interests"/this little scheme du jour, in Syria.

E) All the "contextual", regional interests are against extended this US scheme.

F) Joshua Landis has had an epiphany at some point. He used to be anti-Assad. What's up with that? The cause of that epiphany might explain/suggest the/some underlying dynamics/forces at work here (back to Cardin and Israel).

Bottom line, Syria wins. It's SO obvious. So what are US planners thinking? Pique?

Posted by: ritzl | Jan 16 2018 0:57 utc | 33

What's interesting is that two days after the news, there is not a single word about this "Border Defense Force" plan on the SDF press website, or on the YPG-affiliated Hawar and Firat News Agencies.

Is "Defense Post" even a legitimate website? Do we have primary evidence of these statements or could it be just a "fake news" ruse to infuriate Erdogan?


Mock Erdogan, but use Erdogan's language to describe the YPG/PKK? Bah.

Posted by: Andrew | Jan 15, 2018 4:41:10 PM | 17


Posted by: CE | Jan 16 2018 1:12 utc | 34

F) Joshua Landis has had an epiphany at some point. He used to be anti-Assad. What's up with that? The cause of that epiphany might explain/suggest the/some underlying dynamics/forces at work here (back to Cardin and Israel).

One can make a comparison. It is conceivable to develop a view that USA has assorted demerits in its economic, social, political and other aspects and there is no reasonable perspective of improving it with normal political means, and conclude that one should collect a bunch of revolutionaries, secure weapon supplies and launch a bloody revolution. Assume hypothetically that launching this revolution is feasible, e.g. make USA somewhat smaller, Canada somewhat larger and less friendly etc. It would still be a leap in the reasoning that such a revolution would result in worthwhile achievements. But this is precisely a typical leap, let us call it "there should be a better way". What is much less typical is a person like Landis with a position, looks and style of a member of establishment, and yet! is open to corrections in his descriptions and prescriptions on the basis of newly learned facts. Like, how serously f...d up a revolution can be, and this particular revolution. Eggs are cracked. no omelet in sight.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jan 16 2018 1:19 utc | 35

perimetr @ 11

i never considered until i read your post...i wonder if a smaller regional/tactical exchange is actually a contingency plan of the Global Banker Abominations, to decrease the temperature of the globe if the global warming they caused gets out of hand..."we had to nuke was getting too hot for our elite communities!!!"


Posted by: oldenyoung | Jan 16 2018 1:26 utc | 36

Oded Yinon Plan (for Greater Israel) creeps along. US,UK,IS will not stop until they are stopped. Constant chaos and needling. The needling - in and of itself - is part and parcel of The Yinon Plan. Always keep fokking with IS neighbors.

Posted by: fast freddy | Jan 16 2018 1:29 utc | 37

To Kurds proponents in this thread - why are you so offended by SDF/YPG/etc being called terrorists?

* They directly collaborate with some ISIS groups on East of Euphratus, and did the same with Al Qaeda before in the North.

* They terrorize Arabs and other non-Kurds in occupied territories and do ethnic cleansing. When they "liberate" some area, they also refuse refugees to return home if they arent Kurds.

* They serve USrael purpose as proxy army (just as Al Qaeda/ISIS).

* They steal Syria/Iraq's land and oil on a grand scale (just as Al Qaeda/ISIS). Kurds with ISIS also were exporting oil to Turkey and Israel.

* Iraqi Kurds with ISIS coordinated plans of simultaneous attack on Iraq and land/oil theft. To be fair, Syria's Kurds joined "the project" some years later, Barzani clan was from the beginning.

* In recent history SDF/YPG (both leaders and their media) made many nasty comments about Assad/Iran/Hezb, more or less the same language as Al Qaeda/ISIS.

So why are you offended when such Kurdish groups are called as terrorists? Its very accurate description! Granted, not all Kurds are on USrael payroll, but they are being marginalized and killed by those who are.

Posted by: Harry | Jan 16 2018 1:40 utc | 38

Regarding the intelligence of the US in making this move. It seems clear from numerous indicators in the last year or two that the "functional" intelligence of the US is about at the level of "stupid". A lot of it comes, I think, from being a slave to Zionism. Slaves are not permitted to be very smart.

And a lot of the US stupidity is actually the stupidity of Israel, which can send in its suicide fighter (the US) into stupid situations regardless of win or lose, but which also is stuck in its own trap in the Middle East and cannot think of a way out of its existential doom. Crimea is no longer an option to flee to, and Argentina is a long way away.

The Saker just published a transcript of his most recent interview with Bonnie Faulkner of Guns and Butter. It's an excellent read, on a par with some of his best essays. In it he illustrates how stupidly the US is acting in multiple theaters, and talks at some length about the neocons, illustrating how stupid they actually are in their policies and execution.

He also breaks it down to a demarcation between planes of governance in the US system - below which human intelligence pretty much functions as it should, but above which all the power lies.

I've seen links to Saker appear here lately, so in a following post I'll see if I can offer a link. It bears completely well on b's question of, what in the world are these people thinking? I recommend it as a great read:

Saker’s Jan. 12th interview with Bonnie Faulkner – transcript [Link follows]


PS...Attitudes of mind can raise or lower functional intelligence in life (street smarts, or strategic acumen, to use other terms). And while Buddhist teachings, for example, demonstrate that a loving attitude fosters strong concentration, our own studies of world events show that hubris and arrogance foster extreme inattention. Inattention is the opposite of connecting dots, the opposite of the attention to details that was said to constitute genius. The opposite of genius is something like stupid, and it's what we see today in US policy.

Posted by: Grieved | Jan 16 2018 2:15 utc | 39


Link to the Saker:

Saker’s Jan. 12th interview with Bonnie Faulkner – transcript

Posted by: Grieved | Jan 16 2018 2:16 utc | 40

@Harry 37
Your comment is a great example of why "terrorist" has no real meaning anymore.

terrorist: a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 16 2018 2:26 utc | 41

Ah yes, the beat goes on. The great corporate empire rolls on. Logic and legality are not in the corporate empire's lexicon, they only know global fealty, as they race to dominate global market share. Without a change in the world reserve currency, nothing changes.

Still waiting for yuan trading in energy futures...

Posted by: ben | Jan 16 2018 2:33 utc | 42

@ Don Bacon | 40

Although nowadays 'terrorist' is an expanded term, but not sure what exception you have against what I wrote - some points directly fits the very quote you made.

Working together with ISIS or Al Qaeda doesnt make one terrorist in your point of view?

How about using terror and ethnic cleansing of Arabs/Christians? Not terrorism?

I beg to differ.

Posted by: Harry | Jan 16 2018 2:45 utc | 43

Re: oldenyoung | Jan 15, 2018 8:26:21 PM | 35 You write, "i wonder if a smaller regional/tactical exchange is actually a contingency plan of the Global Banker Abominations, to decrease the temperature of the globe if the global warming they caused gets out of hand"

If you want to use geoengineering to attempt to reduce/mitigate the effects of global warming, then nuclear war would not be the number one choice. Actually, Alan Robock, who is one of the main authors of the peer-reviewed studies on nuclear winter I referred to, has extensively written about geoengineering (for this purpose) and he thinks it is a bad idea (see Cloud control: Climatologist
Alan Robock on the effects of geoengineering and nuclear war

I had at first thought you were going to propose that a regional/tactical nuclear war would be used as a deliberate method of population reduction. While anything is possible, I am afraid that hubris and stupidity are more likely the driving forces in this process.

Earth's biosphere and ecosystems are already greatly stressed from human technological interventions. An ecologist in New Zealand told me in 2008 that he thought even the "regional" nuclear war described by the studies of Robock and Toon would likely crash many of the ecosystems that were already teetering on collapse. There are probably consequences that we haven't even thought about; for example, I would point to the destruction of hundreds of nuclear power plants and the release of the enormous quantities of radioactivity that they store on-site. Had there been many nuclear power plants in Europe prior to World War 2, most of it would now be uninhabitable.

The leaders of the nuclear weapon states have studiously avoided any analysis of the environmental consequences of the detonation of their nuclear arsenals in conflict. The blind are leading the blind.

Posted by: Perimetr | Jan 16 2018 2:56 utc | 44

Trump can into the White House by sheer luck. The latest book, Fire and Fury details his shock that he had won.
However far from subverting the deep state he is not playing 4D chess, he is rather cutting the Gordion knot of foreign entanglements that have been instigated by the deep state and have afflicted the visible government. See:
Trump is giving the deep state whatever hair brained schemes it wants to pursue secure in the knowledge that these stupid moves will in the long run destroy their hold on the world.

Check and mate?

Posted by: Madmen | Jan 16 2018 2:58 utc | 45

I suspect that “border security” has a meaning that is somewhat different than one might think.

Perhaps Kurds will be taught how to use high tech gadgetry to secure smuggling operations and keep Russian/Syrian spies and unfriendly media away.

That would make Erdogan’s outrage a ruse. Like many here I am very wary about where his loyalties lie.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 16 2018 3:00 utc | 46

@Harry 42
terrorist: a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

ISIS does not fit the "terrorist" definition. ISIS is a US-sponsored force consisting of a military cadre of ex-Iraq soldiers let go when the US invaded in 2003, plus nutsy mercenaries, and used by the US for political purposes as an anti-Iran force.

al-Qaeda is some mystical US creation, dating from the anti-Russia campaign in Afghanistan, nobody is quite sure what it is otherwise except as an enemy the US can rail against, and sometimes ally with as in Syria.

Ethnic cleansing is not terrorism by definition. And of course countries can never be classified as terrorists but groups are, even though the definition says "a person."

So your comment is a great example of why "terrorist" has no real meaning anymore.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 16 2018 3:19 utc | 47

@Jackrabbit 45
You may wonder about Erdogan's loyalties but be assured he will never tolerate an armed Kurdish force on Turkey's border.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 16 2018 3:22 utc | 48

@Madmen 44
Trump can into the White House by sheer luck.
Trump spent about half of what Clinton did and won the election (via the electoral college) with sixty-two million votes. That's sheer luck?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 16 2018 3:27 utc | 49

It is intentional sabotage on Trumps part. Trump wants out of the region.

Posted by: Robert Browning | Jan 16 2018 3:34 utc | 50

Turkey to crush ‘terror army’ to be set up by US in Syria: Erdoğan

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Jan. 15 threatened to thwart the creation of a U.S-backed 30,000-strong border security force manned mostly by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria.

Turkey’s armed forces completed preparations for an operation against the YPG in their strongholds Afrin, in northwestern Syria, and Manbij, in northern Syria, Erdoğan said on Jan. 15 at an opening ceremony in Ankara.

“The operation may start any time. Operations into other regions will come after,” the president said, noting that the Turkish army was already hitting YPG positions.

“America has acknowledged it is in the process of creating a terror army on our border. What we have to do is nip this terror army in the bud,” Erdoğan said. . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 16 2018 3:37 utc | 51

"nowadays 'terrorist' is an expanded term..." Harry @40

More to the point, "terrorist" became all-catch term meaning "persons we do not like". It was not always the case. During the Cold War, there were good terrorists, supported by the Forces of Liberty, and the bad ones, supported by the Forces of Darkness, usually connected to Soviet Union. In Angola, two "Marxist" guerilla movement opposed each other after the end of Portuguese rule, one won the power, the other won Western support (USA plus South Africa, then under aparteid). Ronald Reagan of saintly memory (if you are a Republican) call the latter "moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers. Now the winning "Marxist" preside over a phenomenally corrupt government, assisted by Chevron corporation that runs the oil fields and provide revenue that in part vanishes in foreign bank account, and in part is converted into boondogles. Who are good terrorists and who are the bad terrorists in Angola is not much disputed, the loosing UNITA being retired long time ago.

But there were many more celebrated practitioners of terror for the sake of Light and Freedom. Nicaraguan contras come to mind, and most famously, Afghan mujahedeens and their foreign helpers, precursor of al-Qaeda and ISIS. Only after 9/11 the word "terrorist" got the implication "bad". Leading to anomalies like denying entry to "terrorists" who were opposing governments in Laos and Cambodia under the advise of CIA.

The history of Israel is most instructive. The state was created by an alliance of good terrorist organizations, and ideologically was vehemently opposed to bad terrorists, like PLO, and later Hamas etc. Because the lack of self awareness was the founding principle, the inflation and sinister connotation of "terrorism" was in a large part Israeli/Zionist influence.

So now the question: are Hamas, Hezbollah, YPG, PKK, Huthis, Iraqi PMU's etc. terrorist and thus intolerably bad, or not? "Moral clarity" of the positive answer is a seed of undending conflicts that can be in a large part avoided, so I would advocate nuance, case by case analysis, and awareness that government also behave very badly at occasion. Israeli position that government assassins are Warriors of Light and opposing terrorists and Forces of Darkness that should be sent to hell is unfortunately copied in the region a bit too much. Turkey is one of the "good students".

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jan 16 2018 3:45 utc | 52

@ Piotr Berman | 51

I definitely agree with your points and who is terrorist (or not) should be decided case by case basis by preferably neutral parties. US and Israel are especially guilty of fake usage of this term.

That said, USrael supported Kurds (in both Syria and Iraq) are by definition terrorists groups. Thats proven beyond any reasonable doubt. Just because Erdogan says it doesnt negate that fact, even broken clock can be right twice a day.

Posted by: Harry | Jan 16 2018 4:11 utc | 53

ben @41

"Still waiting for yuan trading in energy futures..."

You may have to wait until March 2018. There is this one article someone posted on ZH.


Source: RMB crude oil futures or facing the extension of Saudi Arabia to become the first teammate?

Google's Translation:

Originally, it was reported that on January 18 this Thursday, China's crude oil futures will be officially listed.  However, some authorities said that the rumors were false and that January 18 was the time suggested in previous internal discussions.  However, at this moment, Immature, may have to wait until March, the specific launch time need to discuss with the Commission.  Therefore, investors looking forward to the listing of RMB crude oil futures this week may be disappointed and all the results will be announced on Thursday.

Posted by: Ian | Jan 16 2018 4:24 utc | 54

@Piotr 34

I guess I view these regime-change machinations as cyclical/repeatable/predictable. So Landis, as an expert, should be able to foresee stuff. Maybe not. But he didn't, initially.

I think his change of heart has more to do with the exposure of propaganda (which he at first subscribed to), as propaganda.

He has always seemed to me to be a subscriber, though probably 30 deg. out of phase (meaning some independent input) with mainstream doxology on Syria.

If b is citing him, he's changed. To me, that change is significant and reflects some pretty significant, near-mainstream inflection on Syria opinion.

Posted by: ritzl | Jan 16 2018 5:08 utc | 55

Don Bacon @47

They’ve been “armed” for some time now, I believe US has already said that they will limit addition arms that.are supplied.

In the past US has faced down Turkish troops in support of Kurds. Seems likely again.

Kabuki theater?

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 16 2018 5:19 utc | 56

@Harry 34

Also, just to expand a bit, my sense is that the work of Vanessa Beeley, Eva Bartlett, b, and others is having effect. Significant, UNIGNORABLE, effect on popular perceptions of, oh, the rationale for perpetual war. Landis is, to me, the vulnerable, early warning, "tree frog" harbinger of that positive effect (of alternative media who actually report from the ground).

I look for inflection points on changes in political thinking as my guide. He seems to be one.

Posted by: ritzl | Jan 16 2018 5:38 utc | 57

US sells arms to kurds. Turkey annihilates them and occupies NE Syria to keep "safety".
Looks like a win-win for US-Turkey.

Posted by: ololo | Jan 16 2018 7:34 utc | 58

Erdogan is a two-tongued snake, but even he can see (certainly after the recent US-backed coup attempt against his own government) the writings on the wall. The next country in line ready to be cut into pieces isn't Iran.

Posted by: never mind | Jan 16 2018 8:02 utc | 59

The word “terrorist” has lost all practical meaning. It simply means non-state forces, group, insurgents, radicals etc the person using the term does not like. No serious journalist should be using it IMO. Labelling the PKK “terrorists” does b no favours. The PKK is a (banned) political party with a long history in Turkey that goes far beyond the current conflict. Most neutral observers would agree the Kurdish people in Turkey do have legitimate grievances against the Turkish state that makes the existence of an armed Kurdish independence movement understandable, even if they disagree with their tactics and/or alliances. Fun fact: The PKK, after coming to an agreement with the Turkish government, renounced violence in the 1990s (I think, but it may have been in the 2000s) but the truce was broken by Erdogan. A bit of nuance and history goes a long way sometimes.

Am I a CIA troll?
So many comment blogs like this one become narrow-minded echo chambers where dissenters are quickly jumped on by twitchy paranoiacs (almost always guests rather than the blog “owners”) who see CIA operatives and trolls behind every criticism or challenge. That’s the exact same mentality as the MSM labeling people Russian trolls and “Assadists”. And it makes you look like a paranoid nut and like someone who can’t argue a point logically. And - of course - it makes you a smelly hypocrite. Just a friendly know it’s true ;-)

(The only real trolls around here that I’ve seen are the odd obvious joke accounts and the visitors from Hasbara Central, who are easy enough to spot.)

Posted by: Temporarily Sane | Jan 16 2018 8:54 utc | 60

Absolutely a smashing article, congrats b, 100% true knowledge of the imbroglio in the ME.

Posted by: Canthama | Jan 16 2018 9:36 utc | 61

I have read it was Erdogan who negotiated the truce with PKK, but then Erdogan's political ambitions meant a few false flag bombings to blame on PKK when things weren't going well with his Syria ambitions.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 16 2018 9:39 utc | 62

added to post 60, in saying that, Kurd's/PKK/YPG joining US/Israel/KSA makes them scum.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 16 2018 9:41 utc | 63

Posted by: Temporarily Sane | Jan 16, 2018 3:54:20 AM | 60

The world is not good versus evil. PKK are listed as terrorists by US and Europe. When it suits them they might take them off their list like the US did with MEK. That does not mean PKK stopped being a sect with criminal and terrorist activities. Nor does it mean the Turkish and Syrian state fighting them don't use terrorist methods, or place importance on human rights.

Calling for national liberation struggle in areas with mixed ethnicities is part of the destabilization toolbox.

The problem is big enough without outside interference. This here is the story of the Qamishl uprising.

The 2004 Qamishli uprising was an uprising by Syrian Kurds in the northeastern city of Qamishli in March 2004. The riots started during a chaotic football match, when some fans of the guest team (Arabs) started raising pictures of Saddam Hussein, an action that angered the fans of the host team (the Kurds). Both groups began throwing stones at each other, which soon developed to a political conflict as the Arab group raised pictures of Saddam Hussein while the Kurdish group raised the Flag of Kurdistan. The Ba'ath Party local office was burned down by Kurdish demonstrators, leading to the security forces reacting. The Syrian army responded quickly, deploying troops backed by tanks and helicopters, and launching a crack-down. Events climaxed when Kurds in Qamishli toppled a statue of Hafez al-Assad. At least 30 Kurds were killed as the security services re-took the city.[3] As a result of the crackdown, thousands of Syrian Kurds fled to Iraqi Kurdistan.

I guess the Turkish and Syrian state could do with learning about deescalation. It is as stupid as that.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 16 2018 10:13 utc | 64

I fail to see what more Trump could do in 1 year to elevate Russia to superpower status, with increased prestige, influence, and tentative allies. After destroying the climate agreement and the free-trade pacts, he has set about derailing NATO. Soon it will be a free-for-all and every man for himself. That explains why media outlets sympathetic to Russia, from Meyssan to the Duran, are so supportive and apologetic for Trump. Simply, he is advancing Putin's agenda at every opportunity. If he is not a stooge, he sure acts like one.

Posted by: SPYRIDON POLITIS | Jan 16 2018 10:35 utc | 65

It has no ports and all its air-supplies have to cross hostile air space.

And what? Be shot down? I hardly think so. The same could be said of Afghanistan and the Americans are still there nearly two decades later.

The US could not have expected a better outcome than control of a third of Syria and the majority of its natural resources. They're not going anywhere and there's nothing anybody will do about it.

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Jan 16 2018 10:37 utc | 66

"The word “terrorist” has lost all practical meaning."

I suspect the young boy decapitated by al Zinki, in his last moments, would disagree.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jan 16 2018 10:52 utc | 67

@65 Realy? Russia is unable to protect Syrian air space. US controlled rebels have seized almost 35% of Syrian territory. Additionally another NATO country, namely Turkey, has under its control part of Idlib and Aleppo provinces. Israel bombs Syrian Army whenever it wants. America has 2000-4500 troops on Syrian soil, 15 bases, 2 airstrips. How many troops and bases does Russia has in Donbas? Zero!

BTW Merica has no its own plans regarding Syria. Merica is just implementing Israeli plans. Kurdistan must be creates at any cost. Turkey is afraid of Attack US-controlled Kurdish forces in Manbij or Raqqa so Turkey will attack Afrin, where Russian advisors are.. Turkey is part of the big plan. Turkey will be destabilized because of Kurdistan. Probably Erdo is an agent who pretends to be a patriot. Time will tell as always.

Posted by: blue cyan green | Jan 16 2018 10:58 utc | 68

Trump's stance on Jerusalem has had the desired effect. It has galvanized anti-US and Israel sentiment, making it harder for Arab and Muslim states to co-operate with Israel, while putting up more obstacles to a Palestinian settlement. It has vindicated Iran's stance in the eyes of the Arab world, while doing nothing to curb it's influence in Iraq, Syria,Yemen, Qatar, and Lebanon. On the contrary, it has brought Turkey (an ex-Nato ally) closer to Iran, and weakened any aspirations for solving the Kurdish question. How Putin must be rubbing his hands in glee! Now, the Pentagon's decision to reform, and officially retrain and re-arm the Syrian Kurdish militias, will do naught to curb Iranian influence or Assad's power and status. It will only drive Erdogan deeper into Russia's embrace and piss off China some more. The Middle East will soon be in deeper turmoil, and thousands of US troops bogged down in a never-ending war which cannot be won, be it conventional or nuclear - God forbid. It seems that there is something in the old prophecies after all!

Posted by: SPYRIDON POLITIS | Jan 16 2018 11:01 utc | 69

I wouldn't be surprised if Erdogan's idea is to displace all the PKK Kurds TO Syria. Out of his own country. ie. the east Syria enclave could be self supporting IF there is a guaranteed possibility of export-import of Oil arms etc.

Erdogan previously allowed the ISIS group to export oil alongside the Euphrates into Turkish territory, the coast and then to Israel. Taking his cut along the way. (Could have been family)

Some financial arrangement for the "Kurdish/PKK" exports could probably be found.
So the US, with it's 14 bases would not be in a hurry to leave. There is a trap for the Syrians/Rus/Iran in that "coalition" forces are also in those camps (700 French!). Rather than declaring the E-Syrian enclave Independent, might they try instead to claim any attack on them is Anti-NATO? (ie bring in other countries even if they don't want to. NATO wants a war).

Must not forget the Israel tie up with Kurds and Oil (Mainly YPG-Barzani). They are also the logical suspects in the recent "drone" attack. (Via-Al Nusra). They have the capability to make those "anti-jamming electronics" that were discovered hidden in the drones.

The US/Israel seem to want to re-start the Terrorism (full meaning of the word) in Syria with new "players", arming them to the teeth with modern weaponry. (ie base in Tanf and Rubkhan refugee camp).

Posted by: stonebird | Jan 16 2018 11:11 utc | 70

Pat Bateman @66:

AFAIK, the Afghans / Taliban aren't hated as much as the Kurds by surrounding neighbors, if at all.   At first, US presence in Syria was more to do with countering Iranian influence and throwing a wrench into China's BRI than natural resources.   Now, it's also to contain Turkish ambitions.   The US will remain in Syria until they can no longer financially afford it.

Posted by: Ian | Jan 16 2018 11:13 utc | 71

Logistics is important, and Iraq may be a wild card in the post-ISIS era. Like Turkey, Iraq probably has an incentive to try to play both sides.

The US, meanwhile, will regard losing slowly as a reasonable outcome.

Posted by: Shyaku | Jan 16 2018 11:14 utc | 72

Pat Bateman | Jan 16

amerika has Pakistan onside to solve the airspace issue in Afghanistan, but it will never get Syrian permission or Turkish permission to allow violation of their airspace to resupply gangs deemed terrorist by the UN.
Afghanistan is a sovereign state amerika got UN recognition for the puppet government it installed in 2002, everyone acted sorry for the 911 karma, but that is long over, the brigand camps proposed will get no UN approval nor recognition for its puppets. The two situations are in no way comparable as the pentagon ninnies are about to discover.

In fact the way things are shaping up amerika's number one poodle, NATO is gonna be between a rock and a hard place over whether they have to declare war on amerika.
This is where exceptionalism will be revealed to be the furphy many of us believe it is.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Jan 16 2018 11:16 utc | 73

Pat Batemen @66.

Afghanistan; The Chinese have decided to support an Afghan Army base in the North.
This has two purposes, one/ stop the usual US double dealing and allow the Afghans to really pacify a part of the country. The geographical location puts them in reach of the Wakhan "corridor" in Badakhshan Province. The Chinese OBOR -Pakistan line passes nearby, or even across it (terrain permitting). (Which could be one reason why the Pakistanis are now against the US? As further fighting in the North of Afghanistan would cut Pakistan off from the OBOR route and Eurasian integration. The US wanted to upset the local Pakistanis with increased unregulated drone-massacres of Tribal areas - in order to cause unrest for the same reason).

2/ It might also allow them to "control" passage of Uighurs (Terrorist version) to and from Chinese territory.
(Further outlook - Israel and India "get-togethers" and Pak-India Nuclear war?)

Posted by: stonebird | Jan 16 2018 11:27 utc | 74

ROFL!!! US says this border for is for their Iraq/Syrian border areas only. Just like how they would only be in Syria to fight ISIS and how they never created Al Queda under Operation Cyclone.

Posted by: igybundy | Jan 16 2018 12:58 utc | 75

Are you aware of this article on Fort Russ?

"Some details have come to light in relation to the Vladimir Putin - President Trump meeting that failed to take place at the APEC summit in November last year.
Such a persistent desire of the Americans to 'lure' the Russian president into a very specific room could not but alert security services. According to their analysis, it was decided not to proceed with the Trump meeting. At the time, this was reported as the failure of relevant staff to be organised.

However, it has been reported that during the meeting, the Americans were going to utilise a 'nanoweapon.' It is thought to be responsible for the deaths of six Latin American leaders disliked by the United States, who have died of cancer in recent years.

It is highly possible that Trump was not aware of the operation prepared by his special services and could also be a target of such 'radiation.'"

Posted by: claudeS | Jan 16 2018 13:27 utc | 76

Posted by: claudeS | Jan 16, 2018 8:27:58 AM | 75

It is thought to be responsible for the deaths of six Latin American leaders disliked by the United States, who have died of cancer in recent years.

That's a fairy tale. What's true is that a couple of South American leaders got cancer around the same time, but all of them beat it, including Chavez. For Chavez it came back stronger than before and he eventually died of it (which many think is suspicious), but the others including Cristina Kirchner and IIRC Lula are alive and well.

Posted by: CE | Jan 16 2018 14:06 utc | 77


Posted by: lysander | Jan 15, 2018 2:33:47 PM | 6

From Wikipedia definition: In psychology, the term refers to the inability to maintain defense mechanisms in response to stress, resulting in personality disturbance or psychological imbalance.[2][3] Some who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder or borderline personality disorder may decompensate into persecutory delusions to defend against a troubling reality.

An apt psychological description of both the Empire and its leadership at this point. US exceptionalism is akin to narcissistic personality disorder and it has now descended into a fantasy world of omnipotence and the "persecutory delusions" of Russia! Russia! and Putin! Putin!

Posted by: William Rood | Jan 16 2018 14:11 utc | 78

"I surmise that US actions in Syria are dictated by a higher power. Israel."

Posted by: CarlD | Jan 15, 2018 2:34:05 PM | 7

If Israel is behind the commitment to Rojava, we are witnessing the Samson option in action.

Posted by: William Rood | Jan 16 2018 14:18 utc | 79

This morning's celebration of 28,000 DOW has a pinch of bitters added to the cocktail as China lowers our debt credit rating to BBB+.

Enjoy the party America, and pay no attention to that cliff in the distance. It's just a mirage and don't worry at all about your next dance step. Toes, what toes?

Posted by: Reality Teetering | Jan 16 2018 14:21 utc | 80

"But then Rojava may be just a temporary positioning for Trump moves on Iran, to be discarded once the moves have been made?"

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 15, 2018 2:38:16 PM | 9

Plan A for Iran has been executed and failed, and several low-level actors who committed murder may also be executed. This is plan B, and it too will fail. Israel will soon be surrounded by the hostile Arab states it has always feared. New Orleans just passed a city ordinance to participate in BDS. BDS will mount and the Zionist population will be demoralized. Some will emigrate; some will adapt to a less bigoted mindset, and some may fight on like the most racist South Africans did for a while. Let's hope the final outcome is no worse than in South Africa.

Posted by: William Rood | Jan 16 2018 14:31 utc | 81

In a just released ANF interview with the YPG Commander General, still no word about this "Border Security Force" plan. Instead he says they have no idea how the true US stance on Erdogan's threats is.

Posted by: CE | Jan 16 2018 15:01 utc | 82

Joshua Landis:
The only benefit to come out of the terrible wars that have waged in the northern Middle East is that today the governments of Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Tehran are on friendly terms. This is the first time in a century that cooperation between the four countries is possible.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 16 2018 16:10 utc | 83

Possible Afrin operation to be conducted with Syrian opposition groups: Erdoğan

To give some legitimacy to the war on Afrin and Manbij, Erdogan is calling on the Syrian opposition to join in and fight the SDF. If they accept they'll loose the USA and Saudi support. They are trapped. For them it is a loose loose situation.

If the Turkish army retreat in defeat in Afrin and Manbij, that will be the end of Erdogan.
It Afrin and Manbij are destroyed like Koban, the SDF will seek revenge by joining the Syrian army and stirring the PPK inside Turkey.
Afrin/Manbij war is the next turning point.

Posted by: virgile | Jan 16 2018 16:17 utc | 84

"Erdogan has to understand they are hellbent to destroy him and his nation."

Posted by: Red Ryder | Jan 15, 2018 4:23:56 PM | 15

Correct. F. William Engdahl published an article about this in early 2016. Here's what he said

Washington policy–the policy of the USA military-industrial complex and their Wall Street bankers– has in no way changed. That’s clear. I find no convincing evidence to the contrary. They plan to destroy Syria as a functioning nation, to finish the destruction of Iraq begun in 1991, and to spread that destruction now to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to Turkey, and across the entire oil and gas-rich Middle East. They are simply using other means to that end given the “game-changing” presence of Russia since September 30.

Of course, it didn't take a genius to figure that out, as that's been the overall plan since Oded Yinon, and they even published a map of the “New Middle East”:

If Erdo knows what's good for him, he'll soon announce Turkey's withdrawal from NATO and become firm in alliance with states that respect international law. He should also mend fences with the HDP and those of his Kurdish minority that remain loyal to Turkey and resent PKK depredations and its conscription of their youth. However, he doesn't have the brains, strategic thinking and basic moral grounding required for that. He's all short term and therefore very dangerous.

Posted by: William Rood | Jan 16 2018 16:25 utc | 85

Ian @ 54: Thanks for the info...

Posted by: ben | Jan 16 2018 16:38 utc | 86

Posted by: Debsisdead | Jan 15, 2018 7:06:31 PM | 30

Wish I had seen your post before posting 84. Yes, Turkey may have US by the balls by staying within NATO. Good thinking.

Posted by: William Rood | Jan 16 2018 16:44 utc | 87

Shyaku says:

The US, meanwhile, will regard losing slowly as a reasonable outcome

indeed. after all, the terror war economy, like the rest of our ponzi scheme economy, requires always-expanding growth to survive...and, well, while bombing and occupying shithole countries is getting to be downright unviable, kicking the can down the road's always a great plan b.

Posted by: john | Jan 16 2018 17:20 utc | 88

Some excellent comments here...but I will single out 'Temporarily Sane' @60 as noteworthy...

About the Kurds being good or bad guys...

A number of commenters here are disappointed by b's negative attitude to the PKK...and I agree with that...

The Kurds in Turkey have been quite literally the victims of a genocide for many many years...

Now I have also seen some comments here which take the 'bad guy' side on the Kurds...I believe Harry objected with some good points...

However...the key issue here is that we cannot lump all Kurds into the same basket...

The Kurds in Turkey and even the PKK are deseveing of our sympathy...they are 15 million people [perhaps more] who have absolutely no rights...even to speak their own language...

This is medieval...

The Kurds in Iraq are a more complicated and entirely different can of worms...the Barzani clan was installed by the US with big helping form Israel...

But not all Kurds in Iraq were on board with that criminal gang...hence we saw the Iraqis and the dissenting Kurds come together to snip the balls of the Barzani gang which is now toast...

A similar thing could happen in Syrian 'Kurdistan'...

Not all Syrian Kurds are on board the US plan for enmity with the Syrian state...I suspect that many are in communication with Moscow and are leaning toward a political settlement...

There is something of a conundrum here with regard to the PKK/YPG affiliation...but what information do we really have bout how deep this goes...?

Are the Turkish PKK supporting the YPG in their dalliance with the US...?

I don't know that...nor the extent of any such possible support...

And here is the other the US actually planning to use the Syrian Kurds, specifically the an attack vector on Turkey...?

This could be a very deep question...

Because it has to do with the actual US intentions toward Turkey...

Yes Turkey is a very key member of Nato and its geographic location is absolutely crucial in countering Russia...

But what if the megalomaniacs in Washington have even more aggressive plans for using Turkey against Russia specifically...more aggressive than Erdogan and many Turks are willing to entertain...?

Specifically how about a Yugoslavia scenario for Turkey...where the country is chopped up into smaller pieces...and those smaller pieces are able to come under direct control of the in puppets...?

The Peters 'Blood Borders' map is already out there...and has even been discussed in the NYT...

That map shows Turkey split into two peices...each about the same size...a kind of Bosnia scenario...and perhaps with a similar direct rule by Viceroy ...

Would anyone be really surprised if the maniacs in DC are actually dreaming of something like this and installing a puppet Turkish state on the Bosphorus...?

Plus another puppet Kurdish state alongside...which would be able to counter Iran, Iraq and Syria...?

Nobody should be surprised if this is what the maniacs are after...

Not saying this is in fact a plan...but it could be something that is at least thought/dreamed about...

So it is a very complicated situation...

Erdo and Turkey cannot be trusted by Russia or anyone else... that is a fact...and their genocide against Turkish Kurds is also a fact...

But the Kurds in Syria are a quite different matter...

Almost anyone can be bought...and those Kurds in SDF are certainly being bought handsomely by the US...

But we also must remember that the Kurdish entity in Syria is a tiny fraction of what the US now holds...the entire area east of the Euphrates...

This is an unwieldy alliance of Arab tribes...many of which supported Isis...and Kurds of perhaps various ideologies and geopolitical inclinations...

It is a Frankenstein monster with feet of clay...

It will fall apart of its own weight...on one has to do anything about it except wait it out...

PS: Temporarily Sane also makes a good point about some of the silliness going on on this board...yes it is obvious to some of us...and the silly ones know who they are...and would do well to tone down their silliness...

Posted by: FB | Jan 16 2018 17:43 utc | 89

i am sure israel is making a case for the kurds, and pkk not being terrorists too... it would serve their interests wouldn't it? all they have to do is convince the usa and by extension nato - and then turkey can have the pkk, like iran has the mek.... i am sure turkey sees it differently...

state sponsored terrorism is alive and well, thanks the usa..

Posted by: james | Jan 16 2018 18:00 utc | 90

John @87...

'...after all, the terror war economy, like the rest of our ponzi scheme economy, requires always-expanding growth to survive...'

Well said, John...

The co-called Western economy is a house of cards that has to collapse...

Unfortunately ordinary folks are going to take the brunt of the pain...

Posted by: FB | Jan 16 2018 18:09 utc | 91

My bet is that Turkey will not do anything beyond what was done before, an attack on Afrin and/or Manjib using a proxy force and some shelling. A more extensive action would start bloody for both sides, and it would be stopped by the leverage that USA and European part of NATO still has. Erdo will be sad.

But YPG staying in American pocket is a different story. Accepting cash and weapons does not mean that they love USA, or that they are not aware that USA will not save them in case they overplay their hand, Barzani style.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jan 16 2018 18:21 utc | 92

The US will remain in Syria until they can no longer financially afford it.

Posted by: Ian | Jan 16, 2018 6:13:00 AM | 70

In Pentagon terms, this is a cheap operation. But it will run into problems than cannot be solved by money.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jan 16 2018 18:25 utc | 93

"Trump apologizes for any unintended insults to Turkish toilets (Erdogan relieved), simultaneously announces formal diplomatic recognition of "Turdistan". DC think-stanks overjoyed. Turdistanis muted."-- Epic Faal

MSM "Shitholegate" narrative implodes. Stable genius winning!

Posted by: mireille | Jan 16 2018 18:39 utc | 94

For this reason, I believe Erdogan will not invade. He is trying to bring attention to his unhappiness, fire up his base, and prepare for elections that are approaching. But I doubt that he plans to occupy Afrin. He may lob cannon fire into Afrin, as he has done these past few days, but I suspect his ire will end there.
US Policy Toward the Levant, Kurds, and Turkey

Posted by: virgile | Jan 16 2018 18:48 utc | 95

The above article is part of Joshua Landis Blog

Posted by: virgile | Jan 16 2018 18:59 utc | 96


some see the straw in other's eyes and fail to see the beam in theirs.

Posted by: CarlD | Jan 16 2018 19:31 utc | 97

reply to Ben 42 re ."..the beat goes on; without a change in the world reserve currency, nothing changes."
Maybe the beat is about to change?:

Posted by: frances | Jan 16 2018 20:09 utc | 98

reply to Jackrabbit 46, a possible answer to the question where do Erodogan's loyalties lie..

Posted by: frances | Jan 16 2018 20:16 utc | 99

Yeah whatever CarlD...

Some 'kids' just can't help themselves...

Posted by: FB | Jan 16 2018 20:18 utc | 100

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