Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 08, 2019

Turkey Rejects New U.S. Syria Plan - Humiliates John Bolton

On Sunday National Security Advisor John Bolton tried to set conditions for a U.S. retreat from Syria:

Bolton, on a trip to Israel and Turkey, said he would stress in talks with Turkish officials, including President Tayyip Erdogan, that Kurdish forces must be protected.
Asked whether a U.S. withdrawal would not take place in Syria until Turkey guaranteed the Kurdish fighters would be safe, Bolton said: “Basically, that’s right.”
"We don’t think the Turks ought to undertake military action that’s not fully coordinated with and agreed to by the United States at a minimum,” Bolton said, “so they don’t endanger our troops, but also so that they meet the president’s requirement that the Syrian opposition forces that have fought with us are not endangered.”

Turkey was not amused. The YPG Kurds, which the U.S. uses in Syria as cannon fodder to fight the Islamic State, are the same organization as the PKK which acts as a terrorist group in Turkey. Turkey can not allow that group to exist on its border as an organized military force.

When Bolton landed in Turkey today he received a very cold welcome. The planned meeting with the Turkish President Erdogan did not take place. The meeting John Bolton, Joint Chief of Staff Joe Dunford and Syria envoy James Jeffrey held with the Turkish National Security Advisor Ibrahim Kalin was downgraded and took less than two hours. A planned joint press conference was canceled.

The U.S. delegation did not look happy, or even united, when it left the presidential compound in Ankara.

via Vivian Salaman - bigger

Shortly after Bolton's meeting Erdogan held a speech to his parliament group. It was a slap in Bolton's face. Via Raqip Solyu:

Erdogan says he cannot accept or swallow the messages given by US National Security Advisor Bolton in Israel.

Erdoğan, “YPG/PKK are terrorists. Some say ‘don’t touch them because they are Kurds’. This is unacceptable. Everyone can be a terrorist. They could be Turkmans. Their ethnicity doesn’t matter. Bolton made a big mistake by his statements”

Erdogan on the Syria policy chaos in Washington: "As it happened in the past, despite our clear agreement with Trump on US withdrawal from Syria, different voices started to come out from different levels of the American administration."

Erdogan says Turkey continues to rely on Trump’s view on Syria and his decisiveness on the pullout. "We, largely, completed our military preparations against ISIS in accordance with our agreement with Trump"

"Saying that Turkey targets Syrian Kurds, which is a lie itself, is the lowest, most dishonorable, ugliest, most banal slander ever" Erdogan added.

Erdogan's communication director gave the last kick:

Fahrettin Altun @fahrettinaltun - 14:17 utc - 8 Jan 2019
U.S. National Security Adviser @AmbJohnBolton held talks with his Turkish counterpart @ikalin1 at the Presidential Complex in Ankara today.

I hope that he got a taste of the world famous Turkish hospitality during his visit.

An editorial in the Erdogan aligned Daily Sabah called Bolton's ideas a soft coup against Trump.

And with that, Bolton was humiliated and the issue of the U.S. retreat from Syria kicked back to Trump.

We have seen a similar scheme in U.S. negotiations with North Korea. Trump made a four step deal with Kim Jong Un. Then the borg in form of Secretary of State Pompeo tried to change the deal, and demanded that North Korea fulfills step four before the U.S. will take step one, two and three. When he then flew to North Korea he was ignored by Kim Jong Un and only met with lower level staff. It required Trump's intervention to keep the talks alive.

Erdogan likewise had a deal with Trump about the U.S. retreat from Syria. Bolton tried to change the deal, to add conditions and to prolong the timeline. When he arrived in Ankara he was not only ignored by Erdogan, but scolded. It will require Trumps intervention to bring the issue back onto its tracks.

If Trump does not move, Erdogan is likely to seek a military escalation. His army will probably fire artillery on this or that Kurdish position near the Turkish border. It may even invade a few towns. Not necessarily to hold them, but to increase the pressure on the U.S. occupation force.

Turkey originally planned to first take Manbij on the western side of the Euphrates. But Manbij is blocked by Syrian troops, now reinforced by Russian military police patrols. Erdogan will not dare to attack them.

Erdogan wants the U.S. to leave Syria and to take with it the arms it handed to the YPG to fight ISIS. He wants the Syrian government to retake northeast Syria and to bring the Kurds under control. That would eliminate the danger to Turkey.

Since Trump announced that U.S. troops would soon leave Syria the fight against the remaining ISIS forces near the Iraqi border increased in pace. ISIS' territorial hold is now down to two or three villages. Sunday night it used another spat of bad weather due to which the U.S. air force could not provide air support to the Kurdish led proxy force that fights ISIS. An ISIS counter attack ensued and killed some 25 of the U.S. supported forces. This was likely the last significant battle for ISIS. The Islamic State is down to a few hundred fighters who have no way to escape. They will be bombed to smithereens.

In Idleb governorate al-Qaeda aka Hayat Tahrir al Sham continues to consolidate its hold. It issued several ultimatums to Ahrar al-Sham and other 'moderate rebel' groups that still hold parts of the area. When it is finished with the elimination of its competition it will likely shell Aleppo city and attack the Syrian government lines. That will restart the war over Idleb.


The last time the Syrian government planned to cleanse Idleb of the Jihadis, the U.S. intervened and threatened to attack the Syrian army. Russia forged the Astana agreement under which Turkey agreed to eliminate HTS. It failed to fulfill its promise. The Syrian army is thus free to solve the problem.

But what will the White House do? Will Bolton (should he still be NSA by then) press for defending al-Qaeda? Will Trump agree to that?

Posted by b on January 8, 2019 at 11:47 AM | Permalink

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Well I must admit that it's a bit of a circus in terms of what we are able to see from this vantage point, and by that I mean the compound perspective at MOA and other nodes. One wonders what it is that these people actually DO when they are gallavanting around the world.... It might be worth doing some sort of sketch depicting the meetings behind closed doors.
If in fact the US was behind the attempted coup, then how would you expect Erdogan to respond to strong-arming by Bolton?
'Fugg-off and please do let the door hit you on the way out!' would be my guess.
As mentioned by other posters, the US&Co(tm) have tried most of their tricks and used what leverage they have to destroy and control. Sure there is more "sabotution" they can pull, but it wont likely turn the tide. Like with the surrounding and pecking at Iran, it's bluster and blockade. The expression 'If they were gonna, they already woulda' comes to mind. It's really quite impressive how the Syria Consortium resists provocation and largely ignores all the thrashing about and agit-prop. Despite the screeching from the MSM, they remain unfluttered.

Posted by: Chevrus | Jan 9, 2019 9:00:46 AM | 101

>>>: Jackrabbit | Jan 8, 2019 8:16:40 PM | 53

Now we see a new claims of 11-th dimensional chess:

Nah, he's playing "softly, softly, catch the monkey". A far simpler game. He's decided that he wants the United States out of foreign wars so he could just order the US Army back to the States and face insurrection in Washington or he can take two steps forward followed by one step back and achieve his objective before the end of his first of two terms in office. It's not rocket science.

BTW, Trump takes pride in his shallowness:

I try to step back and remember my first shallow reaction. The day I realized it can be smart to be shallow was, for me, a deep experience.

so with respect to Bolton and other neo-cons, he's probably just applying LBJ's 1971 solution to rivals:

It's probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.
Trump might appear to be arrogant and vane but he is intelligent enough to understand his limitations and act within them.

As for Putin, he doesn't need to play chess because his opponents (MbS, MbZ, Washington Borg) are fucking morons. One-dimensional droughts (aka checkers) is good enough for him.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Jan 9, 2019 9:08:55 AM | 102

The Empire of Chaos cannot want a color revolution in a country on Wednesday and start it on Thursday. These things take years to set up. The US State Department and their NGOs have to stoke up discontent in the population, while the corporate mass media propaganda focuses that discontent on the target government. Thousands of police and military officers must be bribed or blackmailed. The CIA needs to recruit, train, and arm their death squads, and then psychologically prepare them for ultraviolence. While the Empire having military bases in the target country expedites things, these preparations still cannot be made overnight.

In fact, though, the Evil Empire did begin these preparations for Turkey, but overly depended upon its close contact with the Turk military and did not spend enough time preparing the Turkish population for the festivities. This was due to the Empire being in a hurry and believing they could skip steps in their own color revolution manual. The Empire was overconfident, which seems to be a terminal condition. When the Empire's little project in Turkey failed spectacularly, it exposed a lot of the Empire's assets and allowed the Turkish state to sweep them up. The Empire's covert influence in Turkey has therefore been reset almost back to square one, meaning it will be years before the Empire can attempt another color revolution there. Erdo knows this which is why he isn't afraid of slapping the Empire's pet evil mutant death walrus down.

Posted by: William Gruff | Jan 9, 2019 9:20:30 AM | 103

Ghost Ship @97

This is just another variation of Trump playing "4th dimension chess".

You assume that Trump is acting like A to fool B so he can achieve C, but you have no idea who B, or what C is. For all you know the American public could be C and the continuation of American dominion could be B.

Meanwhile, no demands or expectations are set for Trump.

Posted by: ADKC | Jan 9, 2019 9:22:47 AM | 104

Whenever it looks as if the alliance between russia, iran and turkey might be under strain the US does whatever is needed to drive their three governments back together again.
Someone in Washington must be working on a book : "How not to do diplomacy- driving away friends and turning allies into enemies."

Posted by: bevin | Jan 9, 2019 9:28:38 AM | 105

john | Jan 9, 2019 6:41:00 AM | 91

Never forget that Lawrence of Arabia [sic] double-crossed the Arabs (stabbed them in the back!) serving his colonial, imperialist masters. Apparently, he acquired a guilty conscious following his betrayal.

Posted by: William Bowles | Jan 9, 2019 9:45:57 AM | 106

PS: See eg: Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East

Or how the scheming. conniving, double-crossing Brits created the situation the people of the Middle East are paying for with their blood!

Posted by: William Bowles | Jan 9, 2019 9:51:27 AM | 107

Erdogan and company just delivered a well deserved figurative "Ottoman slap" to Bolton publicly.

Posted by: morongobill | Jan 9, 2019 9:56:00 AM | 108

Ghost Ship - nice comments except MbS, MbZ are not opponents and the "Washington Borg" isn't an entity with which Putin can sit down and play board games. This is simply blogger acronym for the "Deep State" and sounds only slightly less ridiculous if you consider it a breathing organism capable of negotiating with heads of state.

No, Putin will play checkers with the Donald only which game over Idleb (and possibly other matters too, who knows for sure?) has already been played and decided behind the scenes imho.

Besides, this affair is more a poker game involving several players. Putin is shrewdly enmeshed on all sides if you consider Turkey to have its own seat at the table. If you don't believe Turkey is playing it's own hand please offer convincing evidence this is the case.

Imho, Turkey is the wild card and holding the winning hand, very much driving events wrt Idleb. Clearly the rebuff of the US and Israel yesterday is more evidence this is true.

Assad isn't even at the table. He's represented 100% by Putin.

Where do you get that MbS and MbZ are Putin's "opponents?" That's fantasy, imho.

Posted by: donkeytale | Jan 9, 2019 10:00:05 AM | 109

Rostislav Ishchenko has an interesting forecast for 2019, which tells the tale of the US empire in a scorched-earth policy of retreat. The intent is chaos in all the areas it leaves, including in world trade markets. The EU is especially a target to be broken up.

The piece is translated by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard, those stalwarts, and published first at Stalkerzone, but the comments are at the Saker:
What Awaits America in 2019

It's a piece worth studying. It looks like a roller-coaster year, as many other indicators also suggest. The key point is that all the scorched earth obscures the fact of retrenchment and retreat. Rather like watching the tide go out, one sees only the waves breaking - and they can still soak you if you get too close - but patiently one observes the ocean's retreat.

The Saker comments contain some excellent perspectives, mostly bearing out and enlarging Ishchenko's themes, but the one that actually struck me the most was the one that illustrated how the nations on the receiving end of this deliberate chaos were in turn organizing to resist and weather this storm - as the empire dies.

So even in its making of chaos and its destruction of the good things, we can hope that the US and its retrenching imperialists will find itself increasingly feeble, against the hot blood of the rest of the world, which actually has a future.

Posted by: Grieved | Jan 9, 2019 10:04:42 AM | 110

Hehe! Some things are just too funny! Turkey calls for joint control with Russia & Iran over US troop pullout from Syria.

Meanwhile, Iran's Khamenei gets in a few jabs of his own:

"Some American officials 'pretend that they are mad' and are 'first-class idiots,'

"'Sometimes the enemy talks like a clown,' he continued, remarking that 'a US official' recently said that Tehran should learn about human rights observation from Saudi Arabia.

'What can we call him but a clown?'"

Mocking and thumbing noses at the Empire's officials while acknowledging such visible truths about them must be a joy for Iranians!

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 9, 2019 10:07:12 AM | 111

@105 karlof1

Saker has a new article by Rostislav Ishchenko that you will want to look at. I just tried to link over there but the Typepad morals guardian seems to be anti-Saker again at present.

Great picture in your first link. And thanks for Khamenei, priceless as ever.

Posted by: Grieved | Jan 9, 2019 10:20:34 AM | 112

Yet another vassal state steps out from underneath Outlaw US Empire's boot to express an independent view:

"[Jordan's Foreign Minister] Safadi’s comments came during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who landed in Amman earlier in the day.

"'The Golan Heights are occupied Syrian territory. International law is clear on that. It has to be treated as such,' Safadi told reporters.

"'Therefore, our position is that Israel needs to withdraw from that territory in the framework of a peace agreement,' he added."

This was in response to Zionistan's demand that the Outlaw US Empire again break International Law and UNSCRs by declaring the Golan Heights to be Zionist land.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 9, 2019 10:24:19 AM | 113

I am puzzled by the logistics of all this. It is not unreasonable to assume that re-supply to the Americans and French - and any others there be from the "Coalition" - must be either by air or by road over the Turkish border (except of course at Al Tanf which will be via Jordan). Which means continuing close co-ordination with Turkey - arms dumps, flight plans, refueling etc.
Or am I missing something?

Posted by: Montreal | Jan 9, 2019 10:54:51 AM | 114

William Bowles says:

Never forget that Lawrence of Arabia [sic] double-crossed the Arabs (stabbed them in the back!) serving his colonial, imperialist masters

yes, i know the history, it's just an anecdote from a larger, fascinating story. i didn't mean to scare you.

remember as well that Lawrence learned arabic, developed a passion for arab culture, and, for better or worse, united the tribes of the Arabian peninsula. by the end of the war it seems that Lawrence understood that he had been used by his own government.

during the ensuing years his political leanings became decidedly anti-war and he was very possibly assassinated by his own king.

but i guess we'll never know.

Posted by: john | Jan 9, 2019 11:01:41 AM | 115

Grieved @106--

That would be the train article poking fun at the Brits woefully privatized rail, yes?

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 9, 2019 11:13:54 AM | 116

Humorist E. B. White wrote a piece as I recall that referred to rats being driven crazy by being mischievously confronted by an unsolvable problem.

The catch was that the unsolvable problem was to all appearances identical to the previous problem that they had solved repeatedly in the past, and thus rewarded by food.

But rats being rats kept on trying that good old tactic until they went crazy.

Posted by: Robert Snefjella | Jan 9, 2019 11:19:17 AM | 117

110 cont'd--

No, it must be what awaits USA in 2019. Just skimmed it and the title's a bit misleading as it's all about Imperial Policy, not domestic as implied. Thanks for the tip; I'll read it closer and comment there.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 9, 2019 11:23:34 AM | 118

@ Montreal | Jan 9, 2019 10:54:51 AM | 108
I am puzzled by the logistics of all this.
US military supplies to the Kurds comes by highway from Iraq, plus some by air to the US airbases in eastern Syria. . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 9, 2019 11:25:36 AM | 119

Don Bacon - many thanks for this clarification. I wonder what, if anything, does come over the Turkish/Syrian border.

Posted by: Montreal | Jan 9, 2019 11:45:29 AM | 120


Excellent interpretation of the hypotheticals delusion syndrome afflicting many here, or let's get in Trump's, Erdo's and Kurdish minds and spin a fantasy scenario and call it FACT, and then give Trump the Nobel prize!.

Posted by: Circe | Jan 9, 2019 11:56:59 AM | 121

Although the YPG is not technically the PKK, the PKK has almost complete control over the leadership of the YPG. And for people here who don't understand why Erdogan had to shit on Bolton it's because Erdogan worked his ass off getting the Kurds inside Turkey to ditch the PKK and re-join the Turkish Government and he has Kurdish allies inside of Syria itself.

Erdogan was actually more successful in using diplomatic measures to gain support from the Kurds than he has ever had using force. In the last major referendum the majority of Kurds inside Turkey voted to accept the Turkish government and denounce the PKK and any calls to break apart Turkey. He can not afford a return to the levels of violence that highlighted the period before this reconciliation.

Furthermore, we all continue to ignore the 500 pound elephant in the room. That elephant consists of a couple million refugees that are still stuck in Turkey that they want to return. Many of them have returned to other parts of Syria but they are not being allowed to return to many villages in the PKK controlled areas.

Erdogan also knows that "The Kurds" is not a thing. There are factions within factions within the Kurdish factions. Erdogan has KURDISH support to target the PKK leadership from various factions of Kurdish leaders themselves. Keep in mind the PKK took over the Kurdish movement by force so they are NOT the actual representatives of most Kurds let alone all of them. Erdogan can target the PKK without harming his relationship with the Kurdish factions that are against the PKK so long as it never appears that he intends to target "the Kurds" as a whole again. Bolton suggested that Erdogan would attack "The Kurds", in doing so he assured that Erdogan could not meet with him without doing untold damage to the relationship Erdogan has forged with the Kurdish people who rejected the PKK.

One more thing. The PKK would love nothing more than for it to appear that Turkey is back to targeting all Kurds, nothing else would help them unite the factions more than that. Who would benefit more than Israel if a wedge was driven between Erdogan and the Kurds who he finally convinced to stop fighting and rejoin the government? Many of the talking points suggesting Erdogan plans to wipe out the Kurds is coming straight from the PR offices of Nuttyyahoo we know this because the right wing papers in Israel are PR offices for Nuttyyahoo and his coalition. Are we supposed to believe that they were all running the same story of concern for "the Kurds" benefit and not their own? Israel is fully aware of the precarious situation that Erdogan finds himself, in regards to the Kurds who reluctantly supported his government.

Posted by: Brad Smith | Jan 9, 2019 12:05:23 PM | 122

Brad Smith at 116

Great post. From my vantage, accurate and needed.

Posted by: Castellio | Jan 9, 2019 12:38:38 PM | 123

Trump announced a full withdrawal of US troops from Syria. That may not happen after all.

Contradicting President Donald Trump’s announcement that he plans to completely withdraw US forces from Syria, the United States reportedly plans to keep some troops in the country to counter Iran.

Posted by: Zanon | Jan 9, 2019 12:58:35 PM | 124

Ned Flanders Bolton really mucked up this time

Posted by: matt | Jan 9, 2019 1:13:14 PM | 125

karlof1 @113

Didn't 'b' write about the likelihood of this happening back last autumn?

Posted by: bevin | Jan 9, 2019 1:25:55 PM | 126

Brad Smith | Jan 9, 2019 12:05:23 PM | 122

Did you ever enter Turkish soil? Have you noticed what has happened in SE-Turkey?
There are in fact many factions inside "the Kurds" but this is no reason to sell fiction here. Or is your motivaton to support anybody who might weaken the US, like a drunken anti-imperialist phantasy?

Posted by: Hausmeister | Jan 9, 2019 2:27:38 PM | 127

@86 hoarsewhisper...

"But speculation is something some do.
And sometimes fun too."

@88 psychohistorian...

"speculation is something some do and sometimes fun too

speculation helps some understand and other lend a hand..

thanks for the ideas guys, but i am not a lyricist! i write melodies and chord changes, but not lyrics.. i am getting together this sunday with some songwriting friends who are lyricists and will pass it on to them!

@122 brad smith.. it makes sense what you say, but @127 hausmeister seems to question your reason for sharing this.. i thought your comment was useful and meaningful on it's own and didn't see it as some type of propaganda myself! maybe @127 hausmeister can explain??

speculation is what you want to be instead of what you see"

Posted by: james | Jan 9, 2019 3:17:31 PM | 128

sorry psychohistorian, i missed your last line - speculation is what you want to be instead of what you see... thanks for your ideas..

Posted by: james | Jan 9, 2019 3:18:44 PM | 129

Fernando Martinez, are you a "gusano de Miami? So you hate Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro? Are you aware that a coup against him -as Bolton, trump, Colombia's "duke" and now Brazilian bolsonaro have been plotting-would destroy Venezuela and expell millions of refugees to the US?

Posted by: Guy Moyssen | Jan 9, 2019 4:57:24 PM | 130

bevin @126--

Not certain whether b wrote about what when, but the big point here is the Jordanian minister made his statement at a presser with Pompeo, thus contradicting his and Zionistan's goal to his face.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 9, 2019 6:43:43 PM | 131

thanks for the ideas guys, but i am not a lyricist! i write melodies and chord changes, but not lyrics.. i am getting together this sunday with some songwriting friends who are lyricists and will pass it on to them!
Posted by: james | Jan 9, 2019 3:17:31 PM | 128

Well, if there's anything in there then a collective of specialists would seem to provide the best chance of teasing it out :-)

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 9, 2019 8:12:12 PM | 132

@ 132 hoarsewhisperer.. my one friend is really great with lyrics.. we have written a few songs together.. i will pass it on to him.. thanks to you and psychohistorian for the content!

Posted by: james | Jan 9, 2019 8:15:14 PM | 133

I have a suspicion that Trump is not all that bright, consistent, or well informed, but that he has the same advantage as the little boy who called in amazement 'But... but... the emperor isn't wearing any clothes' -- his naivety and simplicity can be a devastating weapon. Trump reminds me of Mongo, from the movie "Blazing Saddles".

The US government and power structures have been playing 'divide and conquer' for some time now, but seem lost for what to do when the strategy is directed against them, or simply emerges as part of the end stage of capitalism and imperialism: they double down on attacking each other.

Posted by: Blue Pilgrim | Jan 9, 2019 9:04:52 PM | 134

In the "Syria - Turkey Fails In Idleb" thread from January 5, Brad Smith | Jan 7, 2019 11:53:02 AM | 125, proposes that The Swamp probably isn't as united and cohesive as it would like to be.

This is undoubtedly true, given that The Swamp is informal and gigantic; and the only factor which unites its diverse 'membership' is profiteering from war and warmongering.

Imo Trump wouldn't have joined the Presidential race, brazenly declaring his intention to drain the Swamp before he'd even reached the finishing line, if he hadn't detected some potentially fatal weaknesses which he KNEW he could exploit.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 9, 2019 11:52:21 PM | 135

@ james
If your friends can come up with the lyrics and you can come up with the notes, I would be very interested to hear it.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 10, 2019 12:47:12 AM | 136

@peter... i will share if something comes of it! i sent 2 buddies the lyrics from hoarse and psycho earlier today.. i haven't heard back... some things take time!

Posted by: james | Jan 10, 2019 12:56:08 AM | 137

If you want to grasp the extent of the insanity that passes for Bonkers Bolton's Brain then consider this: he actually thought it was A Good Idea to go to Ankara to convince Erdogan to order the Turkish Army to invade northern Syria for the purpose of protecting the Rojava Kurds from the threat of invasion by the Turkish Army.

Bolton is insane.
Stark raving bonkers.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 10, 2019 5:05:05 AM | 138

He wants the Syrian government to retake northeast Syria and to bring the Kurds under control. That would eliminate the danger to Turkey.

It is difficult to say what exactly is in Erdogan’s mind. Maybe he really wants official control of Damascus over the mentioned territories, but so far, in practice, he has demonstrated a desire to tear a piece of territory from Syria in favor of Turkey. There have already been a lot of publications (at least in the Russian media) on this subject, back in 2016. For example:

June 2016:

For more than half a year, the Turkish leadership has systematically shifted the state border of Syria, violating the territorial integrity of a sovereign country. The construction of a five-meter-high concrete wall with barbed wire deep in the Syrian territory is in full swing. Construction work goes along the northern border of the SAR at a distance of 800–900 meters deep into Syria along five Turkish provinces — Kilis, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Mardin and Hatay. The total length of the facility is about 100 km, of which almost 3/4 have already been built. Source

April 2017:

Since November 2015, Turkey has been building a wall along its border with Syria. Of the planned 911 kilometers, about two hundred have been fenced off. Construction is simultaneously being conducted at several sites. In the Kamishli district of the Syrian province of Al-Hasakah between Abu Racin and Ras El-Ain, the Turkish wall has captured part of the railway. In the Harim region of the Syrian province of Aleppo, the Turks seized hundreds of hectares of agricultural land from local Kurdish and Arab peasants with a wire fence. Source

May 2017:

Turkey, without the permission of the official Damascus, is building its own military base in the Syrian Jerablus. The base is designed for the presence of 2,500 Turkish troops on it and the deployment of communications, electronic warfare and air defense. At the same time, representatives of the Turkish special services arrived in the province of Idlib to ensure the safety of the hospitals deployed there. Based on the data obtained it is clear that the issue of the occupation of the northern territories of Syria has long been resolved and approved in Turkey. Source

November 2018:

In the spring of 2018, Turkish forces as a result of Operation "Olive Branch" occupied a number of territories in northwestern Syria, including the large Kurdish canton of Afrin in the province of Aleppo. Officially, Turkey does not recognize the fact of its occupation of part of the Syrian territories, referring to the fact that in the same Afrin and its surroundings there are no Turkish troops. Here Ankara is cunning. Yes, there are no Turkish soldiers in the canton, but there are many Islamist groups like the Free Syrian Army, most of whom work in the interests of Turkey and represent its interests in this part of the region. Source

December 2018:

According to the plan of the demilitarized zone, Erdogan promised to eliminate the most radical militants in Idlib, which he did not do. Now Erdogan organized a campaign to assimilate the population in the territories under his control. Take, for example, the cities of Afrin, Azaz and Al-Bab. In these cities, street names have long been changed to Turkish, their own government has been introduced from among the most pro-Turkish oppositionists, and in schools teaching is carried out using Turkish textbooks. In these cities, even their own “police stations” are created, and field commanders of bandit formations are in the role of “sheriffs”. Naturally, it is not "policemen" who "serve" there. In general, while there is time, Erdogan conducts the good old assimilation "in Ottoman style." Source

While the Syrian people, with the support of Russia and Iran, are trying to drive out terrorists and other armed rabble from their country, the northern neighbor of Syria is trying to annex new territories “without noise”. Now a significant part of Syria, the provinces of Idlib and partially Aleppo, are under the actual occupation of the "Ottoman Sultanate". For this, Erdogan uses not the regular [Turkish] army, but the groups of illegal armed formations under control, who manage in the territories under their control. The situation for Syria is aggravated by the fact that, while its armed forces are busy destroying terrorists on the front lines, in the rear of the occupied provinces Turkey is actively working to assimilate the population. Under the control of the Ottomans, local self-government bodies are created, Syrian textbooks in schools are replaced with Turkish (so far with Arabic translation), and offices of various Turkish firms and companies are opened. In 2018, Turkey organized the issuance of passports to residents of northern Aleppo and Idlib. Starting next year, passports will take effect, and it can be considered that the process of assimilation of the Syrian population will take a full-scale. Source

January 2019:

As a result of a series of military operations of the Turkish army, with the support of the former "Free Syrian Army", unofficially, a number of settlements and cities in the north of the Syrian Arab Republic passed under the control of Ankara. Almost immediately, pro-Turkish militants, under the leadership of representatives of the special services of the former Ottoman Empire, began to establish their own rules. Among other things, offices of numerous Turkish companies were opened in the cities almost immediately, ranging from post offices to the commercial organizations. In addition, all positions in local self-government bodies, government, law and order were replaced by former field commanders of the Free Syrian Army, who are known to work in the interests of Turkey under the strict supervision of representatives of its special services. As a result, local residents, the indigenous population, are forced to live and work under the new laws, which differ sharply from the legal acts adopted by the Syrian government. Source


Yes, Turkey will probably agree to the power of Damascus over the territories, which is now controlled by the Kurds. However, those Syrian territories and settlements that were occupied by Turkey are unlikely to return to Syria. Though, will see...

Posted by: alaff | Jan 10, 2019 5:54:13 AM | 139

Yeah, Right
A few years back, when ISIS was in its MSM heyday and the Kurds were on the back foot, MSM said Turkey had joined the US (so called coalition) to fight ISIS, Erdo's Turkey promptly bombed the Kurds.
Not only Bolton that is bonkers but the entire US neocon establishment along wirth their partners in crime, the uk royal establishment of disintegrity initiative. Not forgetting the entire Trump admin when it comes to Iran and Israel

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 10, 2019 6:29:26 AM | 140

The National Security State tries to keep bit in Trumps mouth to drive him in the direction they want to go but he keeps spitting it out. Maybe they can get Gina to place some thumbscrews in to the keep his fingers off the keypad?

I found it interesting that when John Kelly left he said that the 15 hour days were "bone crushing" and that Trump started at 4AM and ended his day at 7PM. He claims that he starts the day with his NSA and intelligence briefings every day. It sounds like he is trying to learn the ropes and he is kicking back at them.

If you read and listen to Fletcher Proudy who wrote the book the The Secret Team you will get a good idea how the National Security Council drives policy. He was there at its inception. There are many good interviews out there on the web but they are getting harder to find as Google drives this type of information out of existence with their search algos.

Posted by: dltravers | Jan 10, 2019 11:35:33 AM | 141

Yeah, Right @138

IMO it is likely that Bolton knew exactly what the outcome would be. Erdogan's cold shoulder solidifies Turk animosity towards the Kurds and thus perfects the Trump Administration's newfound reasons to remain in Syria: 1) to protect Kurdish allies, and 2) to prevent a "power vacuum" that could lead to the reconstitution of ISIS ('cause, according to 'Assad must go!' BS, Assad "created" ISIS).

Leaving Syria is just another half-hearted attempt by Trump to fufill his campaign promises:

A wall - and Mexico's gonna pay for it!
A 'barrier' paid for by USA.

Renegotiate NAFTA - No TPP! (America First!)
Renegotiated NAFTA adds TPP provisions.

End Obamacare - on day one!
Loses vote against Obamacare and declares that he will let it implode (while quiely shoring it up)

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21 days since Trump announced the immediate 'pull out' from Syria:President Trump abruptly declared victory over ISIS on Wednesday and announced he’s pulling all remaining U.S. troops out of Syria, stunning military experts and drawing rebuke from members of his own party....

Planning for the pullout has already begun, and troops will begin leaving as soon as possible, officials said.

USA+allies still hold Manbig, despite the early reports that SAA had entered the city. I can still hear the hoopla from the dreamers. LOL. And remember how Trump's pull out HAD TO BE REAL because the 2020 election had begun?!?!? LMFAO.

Note: USA-Turkey have long agreed that Manbig will go to Turkey (eventually).

Still no Kurd-SAA agreement.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 10, 2019 2:34:20 PM | 142

@142 Jackrabbit "IMO it is likely that Bolton knew exactly what the outcome would be. Erdogan's cold shoulder solidifies Turk animosity towards the Kurds and thus perfects the Trump Administration's newfound reasons to remain in Syria: 1) to protect Kurdish allies, and 2) to prevent a "power vacuum" that could lead to the reconstitution of ISIS ('cause, according to 'Assad must go!' BS, Assad "created" ISIS)."

You have it back to front.

Here is where Trump screwed up, and why the Turks are pissed off with his administration:
US troops embedded with the YPG made the Kurds think (correctly, at the time) that they could ignore Assad's offers of reconciliation *and* thumb their nose at Erdogan.

The former was the real reason for US troop involvement (i.e. it blocks the completion of the "Shia Crescent") while the latter was a unwanted complication but, hey, who cares if Bibi is happy.....

But this all drove Erdogan crazy - he had a hard-on for attacking the YPG so bad he could hardly stand, and what he really, really, really, really wanted was to strike a deal with Trump where Turkey would furiously rattle the sabres while US Special Forces whispered in the YPG ear "Don't worry, we got yer back".

Until, that is, a nod and a wink from Erdogan would have those US Special Forces say "nope, sorry, we're outta here". At which point the Turkish army would pounce before anyone knew what was going down.

That's what Erdogan *really* wanted Trump to agree to in that infamous phone call, and that's why Erdogan was so nonplussed when Trump impulsively declared that he'll pull out the troops immediately.

After all, didn't you think is strange that Erdogan started that phone conversation with "why are you still there?" but ended it by pleading with Trump not to be hasty about removing those troops?

Because it isn't strange at all if you consider one fact: Erdogan's troops weren't ready.

Erdogan wanted the US to step aside, but he needed US forces to stay there until he was ready to attack because then he could catch the YPG with their pants down.

Get it?

BECAUSE Turkey wasn't ready to pounce THEN that impulsive announcement of US troop withdrawal not only made the Kurds realize that they were going to be attacked but - crucially - gave the Kurds the time to do something about it.

Here, I can even quote their response:
"In conjunction with this, we invite the Syrian government forces which are obliged to protect the same country, nation and borders, to assert control over the areas our forces have withdrawn from, in particularly Manbij, and to protect these areas against a Turkish invasion."

Erdogan was planning on pouncing on a unsuspecting YPG and, therefore, grabbing all of northern Syria before anyone had time to grunt "Huh? Wot just happened?"

But because of Trump's impulsiveness Erdogan finds himself in a race with Assad to see who will get their troops into position first. It is a race that Assad is going to win, and that's why Erdogan is incandescent with rage at the Americans.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 10, 2019 4:19:22 PM | 144

@144 Jackrabbit "USA+allies still hold Manbig, despite the early reports that SAA had entered the city."

A couple of points on that:
1) It isn't "USA+allies". The YPG held Manbij, and US Special Forces were there to assist them.
2) If the purpose of SAA troops is to deter a Turkish invasion aimed at the YPG then the most sensible deployment is for those troops to get between the YPG and the Turkish border so Turkey isn't tempted to strike as the YPG troops start redeploying.
3) As you point out, US Special Forces were deployed with the YPG inside Manbij, and they are notoriously trigger-happy. The old saying still applies: softly-softly, catchy-monkey. That's how you do it: make the US Forces aware of your presence on the outskirts, then slowly, slowly move in as YPG forces move out.
3) Your information appears to be several days out of date. YPG troops are now withdrawing from Mabij, and SAA troops are moving in to take their place.

"Note: USA-Turkey have long agreed that Manbig will go to Turkey (eventually)."

Note: that statement is false. The YPG had agreed that their forces would only hold the town temporarily, and then withdraw. Their refusal to withdraw was going to be the pretext for a Turkish attack on the town.

But that is not at all the same thing as saying that there is a long-standing agreement that "Manbij will go to Turkey".

"Still no Kurd-SAA agreement."

Again, a couple of points:
1) We aren't talking about a treaty here. There is no obligation on either party to publish the agreement.
2) We can be certain that the YPG and the SAA reached an agreement prior to 28 Dec, because that was the date that the YPG openly invited the SAA to move into Manbij.
3) Yes, we know that there definitely is an agreement because SAA forces did move up to the outskirts of Manbij u.n.m.o.l.e.s.t.e.d. by YPG troops. That would certainly not have be the case if no agreement had been hammered out.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 10, 2019 4:42:24 PM | 145

Yeah, Right: Erdogan's troops weren't ready.

It's difficult for me to accept that this blunder was due to Trump's "impulsiveness". I just don't buy it.

Yeah, Right: u.n.m.o.l.e.s.t.e.d. by YPG troops

But they were visited by USA forces. And they still haven't entered the city AFAIK (as was falsely reported).

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We'll see what develops over the next several weeks.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 10, 2019 5:05:20 PM | 146

Donald Trump's actions in Syria can be attributed less to some hidden genius than to his obvious character traits and Domestic politics. His long history as a real estate magnate in New York revealed him as a narcissist, a racist and a conman before he ever stepped on the political stage. While Trump may have started his primary campaign with alt-right promises, staff and backers, he had to make some accommodation to other Republican constituencies, like neocons and the Christian Right, in order to secure the nomination. Most of his actions have been geared toward either reversing everything Obama did or fulfilling his campaign promises (all while trying to make himself and his brand look good). Phil Weiss makes a good point about Trump's post-election actions:

A lot of people are scratching their heads over Trump’s recent moves distancing himself from Israel. He announced that he was pulling troops from Syria, thereby nettling Israel’s friends who counted on him to take on Iran in Syria. Iran, Iran, Iran, say Chuck Schumer, Lindsey Graham, and Bret Stephens. Trump overrode John Bolton, his neoconservative national security adviser, in announcing the withdrawal. Jonathan Tobin writes that Trump just gave the finger to his Jewish voters.

Then Trump held a briefing in Iraq the night after Christmas and complained about all the money we give Israel, exaggerating the sum to $4.5 billion a year.

I think there’s a simple explanation for Trump’s shift. He was counting on his biggest donor, Sheldon Adelson, to deliver the House to him in the midterm elections; and Adelson failed, bigtime. Donald Trump is sore about that.

Remember that in the runup to the election last spring, the transactional president did his part: He tore up the Iran deal and moved the embassy to Jerusalem and installed Adelson’s friend John Bolton as national security adviser– after declining to do all these actions in his first year in office, he saved them for the election year.

So, Bolton, Adelson's pick, went to Israel and said everything that Bibi wanted to hear about Syria, Iran and the Kurds. That doesn't mean he's speaking for Trump, but maybe trying to push Trump.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Jan 10, 2019 6:45:54 PM | 147

@146 Jackrabbit, it fits the available facts.

It is difficult to understand the dynamics of that phone conversation in any other way ie all the reports say that Erdogan was berating Trump for having those troops there BUT then got upset when Trump said that he'll pull them out immediately.

That's clearly NOT what Erdogan wanted to hear.

All this chaos flows from that: Erdo wanted Trump to pants the YPG, but only when he was ready to leap in and ream them.

But he wasn't ready, so the SAA has time to put a dick-block on him.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 10, 2019 9:30:54 PM | 148

Yeah, Right

Makes me think of something that Caitlin Johnstone recently wrote in Reasons To Believe In Trump’s Syria Withdrawal Are Vanishing

Empire loyalists are always calling to slow everything down when it comes to agendas which advance the interests of normal human beings, whether it’s single-payer healthcare or an end to military expansionism. Meanwhile they never slow down their attempts to ramp up the war engine and shore up control for the Orwellian oppression machine. When they demand to slow things down they’re only ever buying more time to finish constructing your cage.

So there’s that. Trump’s rhetoric on Syria has differed from people in his administration like Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, with the president tending to express more urgency on troop withdrawal and more indifference toward Iranian actions in Syria, but does it make any difference? It really doesn’t matter what noises Trump makes with his mouth if no moves to scale down interventionism actually occur. Either Trump is just saying words he knows his base wants to hear with no intention of following them through, or he is being “outmaneuvered by the Deep State” as Virginia State Senator Dick Black puts it, or he’s run into some other strategic brick wall to immediate troop withdrawal we can’t see, or maybe, perhaps, he will succeed in getting troops out of Syria.

I personally do not care about Trump’s motives. Antiwar analysts tend to put a lot of emphasis on what the president’s personal intentions are, but it doesn’t matter how Trump’s feelings feel or what kind of person he is inside, what matters is if America’s unconscionable global military expansionism gets scaled down or not. The power structure behaves the way it behaves, and if the troops don’t come home it’s because Trump is either complicit or impotent. Either way, the power structure and its behavior is what matters.

I’ll be the first to cheer if US military involvement in Syria does end, but I’m not getting my hopes up. Instead, I will continue ignoring the verbiage and watching the behavior. In a world where narrative manipulation is the key to real power, it’s impossible to take anyone close to power at their word.

I never take them at their word. I always ask: how might this advance the establishment agenda.

You think Kurds are/will act in their own interests. I can't say that they won't. But I think the Kurds have been manipulated ever since the alleged coup attempt against Erdogan in July 2016. Saudi money and US protection against Turks have worked their magic since then. So until there's demonstrable reason to think otherwise, I'll expect that to continue.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 10, 2019 10:21:17 PM | 149

@149 Jackrabbit "You think Kurds are/will act in their own interests."

They have no choice. Erdogan isn't even attempting to hide that he intends to do to the Kurds of Rojava what he has already done to the Kurds to Afrin.
The YPG were allowed to delude themselves that they were untouchable, but they can no longer make the assumption that US Green Berets will always have their back.

"I can't say that they won't."

They have no choice. They *thought* they did, but now they either reconcile with the Assad government - fast - or they brace themselves for an invasion by Erdogan's troops that will run right over the top of them.

A Hobson's Choice, that.....

"But I think the Kurds have been manipulated ever since the alleged coup attempt against Erdogan in July 2016. Saudi money and US protection against Turks have worked their magic since then. So until there's demonstrable reason to think otherwise, I'll expect that to continue."

It displays a lack of imagination to insist that Past Is Prologue.

Circumstances change, and the Kurds do recognize that the circumstances are now extremely perilous for them.
They'll change in response and, indeed, they already have.
"In conjunction with this, we invite the Syrian government forces which are obliged to protect the same country, nation and borders, to assert control over the areas our forces have withdrawn from, in particularly Manbij, and to protect these areas against a Turkish invasion."

That tells you that a deal has been done, and it involves a phased deployment of SAA troops to replace YPG troops.
"About 400 Syrian Kurdish YPG militants left Manbij in 30 vehicles since January 1 after reaching an agreement with Damascus to withdraw from the area, the Syrian Defence Ministry has announced in a press statement. According to the Defence Ministry, the militia units left Manbij for the east bank of the Euphrates River."

That tells you that this isn't just empty words from the Kurds i.e. the SAA and the YPG are coordinating the redeployment of both forces, wherein the former will slide into Manbij to replace the latter as they YPG slip away.

Manbij is only the first. But it makes perfect sense for this to start with Manbij, as that will certainly be on the front lines in any Turkish Army invasion of northern Syria.

Personally, I doubt that very many SAA soldiers will be involved. I suspect that most YPG "withdrawals" will be for so, and that in the vast majority of cases the existing Kurdish forces will simply take off their YPG fatigues and put on some brand-spanking new SAA uniforms.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 11, 2019 1:52:43 AM | 150

@149 Jackrabbit "Makes me think of something that Caitlin Johnstone recently wrote".....

Caitlin Johnstone wrote a pile of nonsense, precisely because she fell into the trap of viewing this 100% from the tunnel-visioned perspective of Trump Administration officials.

There is only one paragraph where she mentions in passing that: Oh, well, yeah, there is also this thing called the Syrian government but we can dismiss them from our mind because Bolton told the Kurds not to talk to that nasty Mr Assad.

Except..... don't dismiss Assad. He is a massive wild card in all these schemes, and all it would take to derail all those Borg Cunning Plans is for the Kurds to go from "seriously contemplating" jumping into bed with Assad to "let's consummate the marriage, Bashir!"

Which is exactly what they are doing right now.

Here, I'll see your Caitlin Johnstone story and raise you one by Elijah Magnier:

Magnier understands what's going down, precisely because he doesn't *just* cast an eye over what the Yanks are doing.

He looks at what *everyone* is doing - not just the USA but also the Kurds, the Turks, the Kurds and the Russians - in a way that Caitlin Johnstone can't even be bothered to do. Her world-view is 100% USA! USA! USA! even if she finds it distasteful.

And that's why Elijah Magnier knows what he is talking about and Caitlin Johnstone doesn't. He simply know more, because he talks to and watches all the sides in this conflict.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 11, 2019 2:16:47 AM | 151

As I correctly said earlier (post 30):

Erdogan, Trump Discuss Creation of Security Zone in N Syria - Turkish Official

Posted by: Zanon | Jan 14, 2019 1:02:41 PM | 152

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