Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 18, 2019

Media And Pundits Misread The 'Everyone Wins' Plan For Syria

The U.S. media get yesterday's talks between U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan all wrong. Those talks were just a show to soothe the criticism against President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeast Syria.

The fake negotiations did not change the larger win-win-win-win plan or the facts on the ground. The Syrian Arab Army is replacing the Kurdish PKK/YPG troops at the border with Turkey. The armed PKK/YPG forces, which had deceivingly renamed themselves (vid) "Syrian Democratic Forces" to win U.S. support, will be disbanded and integrated into the Syrian army. Those moves are sufficient to give Turkey the security guarantees it needs. They will prevent any further Turkish invasion.


The Washington Post reports:

Turkey agreed Thursday to a cease-fire that would suspend its march into Syria and temporarily halt a week of vicious fighting with Kurdish forces, while allowing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government to carve out a long-coveted buffer zone far beyond its borders.

The agreement, announced by Vice President Pence after hours of negotiations, appeared to hand Turkey’s leader most of what he sought when his military launched an assault on northeastern Syria just over a week ago: the expulsion of Syrian Kurdish militias from the border and the removal of a U.S. threat to impose sanctions on Turkey’s vulnerable economy.

Pence said Turkey had agreed to pause its offensive for five days while the United States helped facilitate the withdrawal of ­Kurdish-led forces, called the ­Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), from a large swath of territory stretching from Turkey’s border nearly 20 miles south into Syria. After the completion of the Kurdish withdrawal, Turkey’s military operation, which began Oct. 9, would be “halted entirely,” Pence said.

The New York Times falsely headlines: In ‘Cave-In,’ Trump Cease-Fire Cements Turkey’s Gains in Syria

The cease-fire agreement reached with Turkey by Vice President Mike Pence amounts to a near-total victory for Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who gains territory, pays little in penalties and appears to have outmaneuvered President Trump.

The best that can be said for the agreement is that it may stop the killing in the Kurdish enclave in northern Syria. But the cost for Kurds, longtime American allies in the fight against the Islamic State, is severe: Even Pentagon officials were mystified about where tens of thousands of displaced Kurds would go, as they moved south from the Turkey-Syria border as required by the deal — if they agree to go at all.
Military officials said they were stunned that the agreement essentially allowed Turkey to annex a portion of Syria, displace tens of thousands of Kurdish residents and wipe away years of counterterrorism gains against the Islamic State.

The U.S. can not "allow Turkey to annex a portion of Syria". The U.S. does not own Syria. It is completely bollocks to think that it has the power to allow Turkey to annex parts of it.

Turkey will not "gain territory". There will be no Turkish "security corridor". The Kurdish civilians in Kobani, Ras al Ain and Qamishli areas will not go anywhere. The Turks will not touch those Kurdish majority areas because they are, or soon will be, under control of the Syrian government and its army.


The picture, taken yesterday, shows the Syrian-Turkish border crossing north of Kobani. The Syrian army took control of it and raised the Syrian flag. There are no longer any Kurdish forces there that could threaten Turkey.

The Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu confirmed that Turkey agrees with the Syrian government moves:

Russia "promised that the PKK or YPG will not be on the other side of the border," Cavusoglu said in an interview with the BBC. "If Russia, accompanied by the Syrian army, removes YPG elements from the region, we will not oppose this."

Even partisan Syrians opposed to its government recognize the ploy:

Rami Jarrah @RamiJarrah - 12:53 UTC · Oct 17, 2019
Turkey’s foreign minister once again reiterates that if Russia and the Syrian regime take over border areas they will not object, as long as the PYD are expelled.
This has to be the easiest land grab opportunity Assad has had since the war started.

These moves have been planned all along. The Turkish invasion in northeast Syria was designed to give Trump a reason to withdraw U.S. troops. It was designed to push the Kurdish forces to finally submit to the Syrian government. Behind the scene Russia had already organized the replacement of the Kurdish forces with Syrian government troops. It has coordinated the Syrian army moves with the U.S. military. Turkey had agreed that Syrian government control would be sufficient to alleviate its concern about a Kurdish guerilla and a Kurdish proto-state at its border. Any further Turkish invasion of Syria is thereby unnecessary.

The plan has everyone winning. Turkey will be free of a Kurdish threat. Syria regains its territory. The U.S. can leave without further trouble. Russia and Iran gain standing. The Kurds get taken care of.

The 'ceasefire' and the retreat of the armed Kurdish groups from the border, which is claimed to have been negotiated yesterday between Pence and Erdogan, had already been decided on before the U.S. announced its withdrawal from Syria.

As veteran reporter Elijah Magnier wrote yesterday, before the Turkish-U.S. negotiations happened:

Assad trusts that Russia will succeed in halting the Turkish advance and reduce its consequences, perhaps by asking the Kurds to pull back to a 30 km distance from the Turkish borders to satisfy President Erdogan’s anxiety. That could also fit the Turkish-Syrian 1998 Adana agreement (5 km buffer zone rather than 30 km) and offer tranquillity to all parties involved. Turkey wants to make sure the Kurdish YPG, the PKK Syrian branch, is disarmed and contained. Nothing seems difficult for Russia to manage, particularly when the most difficult objective has already been graciously offered: the US forces’ withdrawal.

What Magnier describes is exactly what Pence and Erdogan agreed upon after he wrote it because it was - all along - part of the larger common plan.

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 20:13 UTC · Oct 17, 2019
This is a great day for civilization. I am proud of the United States for sticking by me in following a necessary, but somewhat unconventional, path. People have been trying to make this “Deal” for many years. Millions of lives will be saved. Congratulations to ALL!

The question is now if the U.S. will stick to the deal or if the pressure on President Trump will get so heavy that he needs to retreat from the common deal. The U.S. must move ALL its troops out of northeast Syria for the plot to succeed. Any residual U.S. force, even an unsustainable small one, will make the situation much more complicate.

That the U.S. media and pundits completely misread the situation is a symptom of a wider failure. As Anatol Lieven describes the mess of U.S. Middle Eastern strategy:

This pattern has its roots in the decay of the US political system and political establishment at home, including the power of lobbies and their money over US policy in key areas; the retreat of area studies in academia and think tanks, leading to sheer ignorance of some of the key countries with which the USA has to deal; the self-obsession, self-satisfaction and ideological megalomania that in every dispute leads so much of the US establishment and media to cast the USA as a force of absolute good, and its opponents as absolutely evil; and the failure – linked to these three syndromes – to identify vital and secondary interests and choose between them ..

Only a few pundits in the U.S. recognize reality. Stephen Walt:

The bottom line: The solution to the situation in Syria is to acknowledge Assad’s victory and work with the other interested parties to stabilize the situation there. Unfortunately, that sensible if unsavory approach is anathema to the foreign-policy “Blob”—Democrats and Republicans alike—and its members are marshaling the usual tired arguments to explain why it’s all Trump’s fault and the United States should never have withdrawn a single soldier.

I am confident for now that the blob will be held off by Trump and that the Win4 plan will succeed. Erdogan will soon travel to Russia to discuss the next steps towards peace in Syria. The talks will be about a common plan to liberate the Jihadi controlled governorate of Idleb. That step may require a summit between the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Erdogan which Russia and Iran will help to facilitate.

With the U.S. removed from the Syria scenario such steps towards peace will now be much easier.

Posted by b on October 18, 2019 at 6:43 UTC | Permalink

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I have been trying to emphasise repeatedly ever since this Turkish operation started, that everything about the operation and what each party says about it is densely shrouded in smoke and mirrors. Obviously there has been a lot of discussion of the remaining of US troops in the oil fields. This may be what it appears to be; but probably more likely it is smoke and mirrors.

Consider the position Trump is in - he is defying the Deep State who want to remain in Syria at all costs, and that in a background of criminal subversion crippling his regime ever since he was elected, arguably until recently. For any move Trump makes that the Deep State dislikes, he has to order covering fire. He has to limit any moves he makes to what he believes he can get away with. I have argued before that the brilliant part of this operation - so far as Trump was deliberately involved in it - was in suddenly announcing the pullout and then instantiating it in such a way that a reversal by the deep state is impossible.

By allowing the SAA and the Russians into the former SDF zone to combat "Turkey", Trump has permanently and irreversibly considerably shrunk the area the US is able to control. What they had before was already becoming increasingly tenuous to defend, now it is completely unacceptable in its risk levels. The US military is highly risk-averse.

Trump knows very well that the new area cannot safely be held sustainably, but if he appears to order a complete pullout without any holdback he will be too susceptible to attack from the Deep State. Therefore he says "We have secured the oil". That is just a piece of meat thrown to the pack of wolves of the Deep State to distract them as he completes the pullout. It pulls some of the punch out of the arguments attacking him, for long enough to run clear.

Soon enough it will be obvious to all that the new situation - US controlling a tiny area with the oil interests - is untenable, and he will complete the pull out from the oil fields.

Posted by: BM | Oct 20 2019 12:59 utc | 301

ken woo @ 265 says:

They have destroyed buildings, but that is not what polities consist in

indeed ken, but polities have a rather tenacious track record of leaving large congregations of people behind, whereas houses and hospitals, shops and schools, water treatment plants and granaries, etc., tend to safeguard and succor them.

of course these things can be rebuilt, but being 'bombed back to the stone age' isn't just an unproductive threat.

Posted by: john | Oct 20 2019 13:42 utc | 302


Rather than a tiny area, itisa continuation of US presence in Iraq. Holding the oilfields is sustainable for as long as US is in Iraq. The border is just a line on a map and meaningless when looking at the US positions. Al Asad airbase is not far away in Anbar province. US can hold the oilfields in the same way they can maintain the base at Tanf. US look to be determined to hold as much of the Syria Iraq border as possible to make life harder for Syria and Iran and perhaps Iraq, so that motive needs to be added to the oil itself.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 20 2019 13:51 utc | 303

BM: I agree, this is all Kabuki. It might not be, but that is still what I think.

Peter AU 1: I think at this point the Pentagon is mainly worried about getting kicked out of Iraq too, they don't want to really start to leave, even a little. They like their little overseas playpens and they do not want to give them up. This goes waaay back. It's like trying to get a drunk out of a bar at 2:00 in the morning.

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 20 2019 14:15 utc | 304

BM @299 regarding the US not needing to control the narrative about its aggression.

If the US-based empire truly doesn't feel the need to maintain the fiction that they are the good guys doing humanitarian work, then why bother hanging the label "Freedom of Navigation Operation" on their efforts to bully the Chinese in the South China Sea? Why even bother mentioning other countries having claims there, as if those countries' claims meant anything to the empire? Why the imperial media effort to jerk tears from the public over the fate of the Kurds in Syria? Why manufacture bogus psy-ops like the disgusting Bana al-Abed farce? Why create the "White Helmets cover for the head choppers? Why continue to maintain the famine (that nobody ever dies from) farce about Venezuela?

Mountains of lies are fed to the western public, every day and non-stop. Literally every piece of commercial media produced in the empire is crafted to deceive, disinform, or distract. These lies can be quite powerful if adequately amplified by repetition and the manufactured appearance of authority. But truth has a power all of its own. This is why RT can punch holes in the West's false narratives with programming like "Ruptly" that doesn't even use narration to channel the viewers into interpreting what they see in some particular way.

These media efforts by the empire are expensive. We are talking hundreds of $billions per year, which is enough to pay for some aircraft carriers and even a bunch of F-35s to put on them. At its core the empire is all about business and profits, so why waste all of these $billions on efforts that don't directly result in profits?

If the empire didn't find it necessary to keep the population steeped in its preferred narratives then these expenses would be rationalized and downsized away. That is how capitalism works. In fact, though, brainwashing the home population is an important operating expense of empire. The failures that you speak of with " has been increasingly willing (often even keen) to drop that fig leaf and let it's brutal criminality be exposed to full view" is not so much that the empire is "willing" to expose its true nature to the population but rather that its competence and capabilities to generate effective propaganda are in decline. The systemic failure we see at Boeing, for example, is not just confined to Boeing. This gross incompetence is universal throughout the entire US economy, including the mass media. One could argue that Boeing is the least impacted by this decline and that the disease of incompetence afflicting the rest of America's endeavors is far more advanced.

America is failing to cover itself not because it no longer sees that cover as important, but rather because America cannot help it.

"Meanwhile the MSM has over exaggerated it's lies so much that it loses it's propaganda effect"

True enough, but what else can they do but double down on stupidity? American enterprises are now universally run by business majors, and Business Administration is the university equivalent of Special Education. These people are not equipped for hardcore rational strategizing. They end up believing their own propaganda, which they then embellish thinking it is the truth that a little embellishment won't hurt. They then take that embellished narrative as their new Truth and layer even more embellishment upon it. News cycle after news cycle the process repeats, leading these servants of the empire to spin off into delusion and completely disassociate from reality. They don't end up generating bizarre and ineffective narratives because they don't think effective ones are important, but rather because they cannot do any better. These servants of empire are absolutely trying their hardest. They just suck at everything they do, and that has become a universal cultural trait of the West. It is a symptom of imperial decline, or rather that is the manifestation at the organizational and individual levels of imperial decline.

That these servants of empire are now failing to manufacture effective and believable narratives for the empire's actions doesn't mean that such narratives are unnecessary.

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 20 2019 14:47 utc | 305


From what I have read, there are pro US factions in Iraq. Although they put the Shia in power after the Iraq war, US seems to be turning back to the Sunni factions. I think there is also a fear in Iraq that if they kick the US out, the US will crank up ISIS again. Like in the Syrian desert, ISIS is still operating out of the deserts of Iraq where US has its bases.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 20 2019 15:00 utc | 306

So now Turkey is upset because the SAA are patrolling their own border? How does Erdogan get his head round that. In fact neither Syria or Turkey want to see an independent Kurdish state in the region so they should be able to work something out.

I would be helpful if the US stopped treating the Syrian government like a pariah.

The comments to this article cover all the angles better than I can.....

Posted by: dh | Oct 20 2019 15:02 utc | 307

@307 IT would be helpful....

Posted by: dh | Oct 20 2019 15:04 utc | 308

US bases covering the northern Iraqi deserts

Google maps Ain Assad airbase
Wikipedia spelling Al Asad airbase

Al Taqaddum airbase wikipedia
Google maps

Al Qaim base
Google maps

Then there is the US base at Al Tanf.

I think the key to recovering the Syrian oilfields will be kicking the US out of Iraq. US bases in the Syrian oilfields will have good fire support from the US bases in Iraq. Desert areas of both Syria and Iraq populated by Sunni. Syrian desert which is the desert that covers much of Syria and Iraq was the breeding ground for AQ and ISIS. US move away from the Kurds and closer to the Sunni jihadist type crowd may also placate Erdogan.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 20 2019 15:24 utc | 309

@b: There is a concerted effort in this thread to spread BS about the Syrian Kurds, so I have decided to provide my fellow MoA commenters with two summaries of the history of Syrian Kurds. I know that you generally disallow long comments, so I kindly ask for an exception in this case. Please don't delete them!

Posted by: S | Oct 20 2019 15:47 utc | 310

This is my (manual) translation of an excerpt from a Vzglyad article by Aleksey Anpilogov:

The Kurdish question

The confrontation between Arab and Kurdish communities in Syria has deep roots. It started in the times of the French mandate, when Paris was conducting a policy of pitting local ethnicities against each other in the colonial style of "divide and rule". Under this strategy, five states were created on the territory of modern-day Syria and Lebanon: Sunni states with capitals in Aleppo and Damascus, Druze state, Alawite state, and "Greater Lebanon". Besides, in 1930s Kurds launched a strong movement for autonomy, which declared the goal of separating "Kurdish territories" from then-Aleppo as soon as possible.

After Syria gained its independence in 1943, Damascus attempted to move its relationship with the Kurds to a political basis. However, the Kurds preferred to continue "sitting behind French bayonets", doing everything they could to keep French forces in Al-Jazira Province to separate it from Syria. But the weak Vichy authorities who depended on Hitler refused to consider any new status for existing Kurdish autonomy within Mandatory Syria. They have in fact turned a blind eye to the unification of Damascus and Aleppo—which did not take into account the interests of the Kurdish autonomy and annexed Druze and Alawite territories into united independent Syria.

During the period between 1943 and 1961, a delicate balance existed between the Arabs and the Kurds, when the Kurds even managed to register their own political organization, Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria. However, its leaders, particularly Daham Miro, have decided again to follow the path of Kurdish separatism by establishing close relations with Iraqi Kurds, including Mustafa Barzani. The latter has launched a rebellion in "Iraqi Kurdistan" in 1958 and has won its de facto independence from Baghdad.

Kurdistan Democratic Parties which were created in Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iran have turned effectively into "foreign agents", which had a single goal of assisting the Barzanist movement. According to their ideology, the "Iraqi Kurdistan" was to become the center of the independent Kurdish state, and success in other parts of the virtual "Greater Kurdistan" was pinned on success or failure of the Barzani clan in Iraq.

This short-sighted policy of Middle Eastern Kurds has ended in ethnic cleansing in Syria and other Arab countries. On August 23, 1962, the Syrian Government has conducted a special census in Al-Jazira Province, populated mostly by Kurds. As a result of it, 120 thousand Kurds (one fifth of then–total population of Syrian Kurds) were stripped of Syrian citizenship and certain rights.

In 1965, the fight against Kurdish separatism was continued: the Syrian Government has decided to create the so-called Arab cordon (Hizam Arabi) in Al-Jazira Province along Turkish and Iraqi borders. The cordon was 300 kilometers long and 10–15 kilometers wide; Arab Bedouins were settled in border areas, while 140 thousand Kurds were deported to inner regions of Syria. This fact explains the surprising perseverance of Hasaka and Qamishli populations in their loyalty to the Assad Government—that was where the "Arab cordon" settlements were concentrated, which lived independently of the Kurdish Government of Rojava for eight years and stayed loyal to Damascus.

By the way, in general, Damascus has succeeded in more-or-less fixing the problems with the Kurdish Syrian minority—right by the early 2010s. Paradoxically, the benefactor of Syrian Kurds was… Bashar al-Assad, who in April 2011 has signed a decree giving Syrian citizenship to all Kurds living in Al-Hasakah Governorate (Al-Jazira). Nonetheless, there was not enough time to solve the issue of "Kurds without citizenship" by the beginning of the Syrian Civil War. Only 6 thousand people have managed to receive Syrian internal passports out of 300 thousand stateless Kurds.

The present balance of power

A new chance to create "Syrian Kurdistan" has appeared after the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2011. Rojava (as the Kurds are calling Al-Jazira Province) almost immediately declared its independence.

The main factor of the Kurdish quasi-independence in Rojava was the reliance on foreign hard power, which was provided to the Kurds by the U.S. and their Western coalition allies. The coalition has always declared that its goal—which justified the presence of its forces in Syria–was to fight the Islamic State. But after the military defeat of the ISIS militants and the transition of the fight against them to the "network" police operation phase, this justification for the U.S. forces' and its allies' presence on the Syrian territory has disappeared, although because of the inertia the Americans have continued to provide a "security umbrella" for the Kurds for another two years.

The Pentagon has used the status of "Kurdish statehood" to keep its regular troops in Syria and conveniently set up bases on the left (East) bank of the Euphrates, as well as capture two convenient bridgeheads on the opposite (West) bank in Manbij and Tabqa. Two Kurdish militias—a cross between military police and light infantry—were created. The first one, SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces), was officially supported by the Pentagon, while the second one, YPG (People's Protection Units), which competed with SDF, was also quite actively—although semi-legally—supported by the CIA.

In the summer of 2016, in the last year of Barack Obama's presidency, taking into account the Pentagon's plans for a "swift capture of Raqqa" by Syrian Kurdistan, the White House even created some sort of Kurdish "general staff", the CIA-led YPG militants ordered to report to the SDF Pentagon structures. However, the failure and the molasses-like tempo of the Kurdish military advance on Raqqa have soon reverted this change: today SDF and YPG are again acting largely autonomously, returning to the guerilla tactics. According to Turkish estimates, there are more than eight thousand CIA-trained Kurdish "guerilla-terrorist" YPG militants out of total 15 thousand "Kurdish militia" members.

So under the pretense of training "anti-Assad" opposition the CIA operatives were preparing the manpower for the creation of that very "Free Kurdistan" which is a shared pain in the head for Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Of course, such manpower is not worth much against a military operation such as that of Turkey in Rojava: YPG is good for guerilla or subversive war, not so much for the trench or urban warfare.

The training of "an army without a state", which the Pentagon and the CIA have carried out in the Kurdish regions of Syria, has led to known results—many of the Kurdish units armed with U.S. weapons began to confiscate property and even engage in downright terror. In other words, turning into ordinary gangs which did not care one yota about the ideals of the "national liberation struggle" and behaved more and more like the headchoppers of the notorious Islamic State.

Then again, it was easy to predict the current military status in Kurdish territories of Syria right from the start. Unfortunately for the Kurds, they couldn't back their desire for independence with any real successes in state-building. Even the profits from the oil fields in Syrian Deir ez-Zor Governorate, which were captured by the Kurds after ISIS had left, weren't invested in the infrastructure of their proclaimed state, but ended up in the coffers of the heads of Kurdish clans. The government of Rojava, de facto independent from Damascus, simply didn't understand what to do with all the property it has inherited. As a result, the sad events of 1940s, when the Syrian Kurds have lost their independence the first time, have repeated in the present day. After the "U.S. bayonets" have left, Kurdish Rojava is facing a much stronger enemy with only a largely useless militia.

Posted by: S | Oct 20 2019 15:48 utc | 311

This is my transcript of a segment from Eva Bartlett's interview (vid, 9:56–28:40) with Laith Marouf, a political analyst and media producer, where he talks about the Syrian Kurds:

Eva Bartlett: Can you please break down—this is a big one—but you did a lengthy post awhile back on the Kurds, the history of the Kurds, and then also this notion of a kind of "egalitarian paradise", Rojava. I think a lot of people in the West are very confused about the Kurds.

Laith Marouf: Yes. If you want a lesson of geography and history, the Kurdish people are a subculture of Persian culture that's including the Kurdish language. It's like an isolate of community that lives in the Kurdistan mountain region. So you can understand now the geographic kind of "ball" that holds a culture usually. If you look at cultures and civilizations prior to modern forced borders, they were usually just limited by natural borders: a river here, a mountain there. So this is the homeland of the Kurdish people, the Kurdistan mountain range that is mostly in Iran and Turkey with a small piece of it in what we know now as Iraq, the state.

If we want to now connect that to our timeframe now, we have to go back to just before World War I, as the Ottoman Empire was nearing its collapse. Seeing that the various ethnic groups within its domain were vying for independence, the Ottoman government attempted to speed up and go faster than what the different ethnic groups were aiming to do. So part of the story is what the Turkish army and the Ottoman army in general tried to do with those minorities that are at the heart of what we know now as Turkey and people that are living within what is now Turkey and the neighboring regions—whatever we're talking about—Greece or Syria and Iraq.

Everybody remembers and recognizes the Armenian Genocide that was committed before World War I, before the beginning of the war. What people don't understand is that the Armenian Genocide—although it was planned and instigated by the Ottoman and Turkish forces and authorities—those who actually committed the genocide on the ground were mostly Kurdish militias that were financed and armed by the Turkish authorities and were promised that if they clear Western Armenia of its original inhabitants, the Armenian people, that they can take those fertile lands and leave their barren mountain ranges of Kurdistan. Through this genocide huge waves of Armenian people came to Syria, Palestine, Lebanon. This is why you have this huge population of Armenians in Aleppo at the time—it became really the cultural capital of Armenians in the diaspora, Aleppo, because of the Armenian genocide.

As that genocide was coming to a close, the Kurdish militias descended south[wards] also, not only north[wards], from their mountains and attempted to clear also the Assyrian, Yezidi, and Arab inhabitants of Al-Jazira—the island between the two rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris. Unfortunately—for Turkey—World War I broke out before that completion of the ethnic genocide of the Assyrians in Syria and Arabs of Al-Jazira. It lost the war, France came to hold those territories, including what now we know as Syria, and negotiated by the 1930s to give [away] those parts of Syria that include İskenderun, Mardin, Diyarbakır, and all these very important cities like Aīntāb, which now is called Gaziantep. Aīntāb is the source of the Canaanite people and its name is clear—the holy well that feeds the Euphrates. Diyarbakır—the lands of the Bakir tribe—which are now considered the capital of the Kurds in Turkey. So France in a deal with Turkey chops off these parts of Syria, hands them over to the Turks and agrees to ethnically cleanse all the Arabs, Greeks, and Assyrians from those lands, and they're all pushed out as part of this deal with Turkey.

So not only Northern Syria has nothing to do with Kurdish culture, and it's hundreds of kilometers away from the Kurdish mountains, but also parts of what we know now as Turkey— everything south of the Taurus Mountains and the Kurdistan mountain ranges—are actually parts of Syria—geographically, historically, ethnically, culturally. They were ethnically cleansed of Arabs and this is why you have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Syrians from those cities originally that live in the Latakia region, and in the Aleppo region, and Hasakah, and so forth.

So when you hear people talking about the liberation of the Kurdish people in Turkey and Syria, it is odd and scary. That is so disassociated with historical timeframes, or historical claims, or anything related to reality in general. And to hear the word "Rojava", which is an invention as a name itself from 2011, it is shocking to hear supposed—not only, of course, the imperialist speaking in those manners—but the supposed progressive left in the West, or what I'd like to call "left-overs", speak of "Rojava" or liberationist movement of Kurds in Syria.

Another part that bothers me is that the Turkish army between the two wars and also after World War II turned on the Kurds who they used to do the ethnic cleansing—the dirty part of the ethnic cleansing process—of the Armenians, and the Arabs, and the Assyrians, and the Greeks… But they turned on them, and so there was a wave of Kurdish refugees coming down to Syria in the 1940s. And the second wave of them in the 1960s when the PKK started the armed rebellion against the Turkish government in what was Arab lands—Diyarbakır. So all of these Kurdish people, like 99% of the Kurds in Syria, are originally immigrants, refugees, migrants—whatever you want to call it—that just came in the last generation or two in the 1940s and 60s. They were given citizenship by the Syrian government, they were armed and given protection by the Syrian state to fight for their liberation in the Kurdistan mountains in Turkey. The Syrian government housed the leadership of all the Kurdish resistance up until the early 90s, after the invasion of Iraq and the war in Iraq—the first war—and the collapse of the Soviet Union, and Turkey threatened to invade Syria in the 1990s, when Ocalan, the leader of the PKK, was still stationed in Syria, and Turkey built like 40-somewhat dams on the Euphrates and the Tigris and then cut all the waterflow.

Eva Bartlett: Wow.

Laith Marouf: So Syria even then refused to hand over Ocalan and made a deal with Greece, the archenemy of Turkey, to house him. And there was a Greek "left-over"—again—government that was there, and they sold him out.

Eva Bartlett: Wow.

Laith Marouf: They sent him to the embassy in, I believe, Kenya and supposedly the Israelis and the Turkish army kidnapped him from their own embassy, from the Greek embassy, so obviously that wouldn't happen without a deal that was struck.

So Syria almost went to war with Turkey, the Syrian people went thirsty, all agricultural fields—the breadbasket of Syria, the Jazira area—almost collapsed, their products, those couple of years to protect Kurdish right to liberation. And then what happens right now is some crazies are saying there's something called "Rojava", and that they can secede, and colonize, and settle, and steal parts of Syrian and Arab, Assyrian lands.

Eva Bartlett: Now, can you get into that? I know [that] on Facebook, on January 19, you wrote about people in areas of Raqqa, Hasakah and Deir ez-Zor holding demonstrations against the Kurds, against YPJ [YPG]. Can you talk about how their rule was for the people indigenous to those areas?

Laith Marouf: It's been horrible. Since the YPG took over these territories, they have went on a rampage of kidnappings and disappearance of every critic, no matter their ethnic or religious background. So even Kurdish Syrians that are critical of what the YPG is doing or what the United States is doing, even remotely critical—professors in the universities in Hasakah, and Raqqa, and Deir ez-Zor—were disappeared. This is just critical Kurds. So you could imagine what had happened to the Assyrian and the Arab leaders in the area, thinkers, tribal leaders, ex-military people—anybody who… Huge amounts of disappearances. And forced displacements. The Assyrian villages in Hasakah and Raqqa who were attacked by ISIS and had to flee to the cities of Hasakah and Deir ez-Zor or Qamishli—they are not being allowed to go back to their villages…

Eva Bartlett: By whom?

Laith Marouf: By the YPG. They're moving in Kurdish militias and their family members into those villages and creating new ethnically pure towns and villages that are Kurdish. This is expanding to the holdings of the church—the Assyrian churches, and the Armenian churches, and so on—they confiscated all their endowment ? and endowments that they have. What's even more crazy is that they have enforced an educational curriculum on all the schools, including schools that are run by ethnic or religious groups. So these schools that are run by the churches are being told that they have to teach a certain curriculum that specifically promotes and propagates falsehoods about the Kurdish control of the area. So here you have a group, the Kurds or YPG, that claims to have their culture, or their religion, or their language oppressed and forced out of, let's say, an Arab-centric culture in Syria, forcing openly the Assyrians who claim that Al-Jazira is their birth homeland as Assyrian people—that's why it's called Assyria actually, the whole area of Al-Jazira is called Assyria and the rest is called Syria, Syria–Assyria, two sister locations of one nation—forcing them to teach Kurdish language, and history, and so forth, and modified history books, and so forth. When the Assyrians refused—because these are their own private schools that are controlled by the church—the YPG went ahead and shut down all the schools, with armed men, making sure the kids cannot go to school.

So this is where we're at. The reality is that we have an ethno-nationalist settler-colonial state being enforced by the Empire, called "Rojava", and it's being sold the exact way that Israel was being sold in the 1940s. It's like cut-and-paste propaganda saying that we're creating a utopia of secular and socialist government in the sea of barbaric Arabs. Exactly [like that]. So for me, anytime I hear people speaking about Kurdish liberation in this moment, I know that the main engine actually behind it, even in the "left-over" Anarchist and whatever circles, is hate to[wards] Arabs. That's really what is at the base that allows somebody who's white to, in 1940, suddenly believe that Israel is a beacon of civility, and secularism, and socialism in a sea of nasty Arabs. And the same thing now, in 2019, that allows these Anarchists to support "Rojava", the imaginary, apartheid state.

Posted by: S | Oct 20 2019 15:51 utc | 312

@310 'There is a concerted effort in this thread to spread BS about the Syrian Kurds...'

There is? What I see is an effort to understand the situation in Syria along with a lot of speculation. I think most commenters would agree with the sentiment in those articles.

Posted by: dh | Oct 20 2019 16:07 utc | 313

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 20 2019 14:47 utc | 305

Thanks for your reply, William.

I thoroughly agree with everything you say, at one level. But, there is more than one level of truth. It is true that the Empire need to provide rationalisations for the consumption of the masses, to help keep the masses in line. But lately there have been some new trends emerging. It is true that they sometimes slip up, as you mention, but in a few cases recently it has appeared that their criminality is so blatant, they seem to be turning it into a warning that they are not afraid to be seen to act as a criminal mafia. The fig leaf is often so unbelievable that it effectively does not even exist - nobody believes the cover story, and the Empire is evidently satisfied with that situation. An example is the threats to blockade Venezuela, etc.

That does not mean that the need for cover stories no longer exists - the system would fall apart straight away without cover stories 99.9% of the time. But that 0.1% is significant. To an important degree it represents one of the changes under Trump's regime, but it can be seen also in some of the British actions - such as the recent shutdown of Parliament; the Skripal narrative also tends in the same direction - the requirement that the cover be believeable is no longer mandatory. During the Cold War such situations would have been unthinkable. I have also seen suggestions that the elite are testing the public to try to investigate their limits of tolerance - who knows.

Once the cover is no longer believeable, there is a very real sense in which the cover no longer exists.

Posted by: BM | Oct 20 2019 16:26 utc | 314

Thanks for translating and posting those pieces.
I am now interested in the bedouins as I believe this may be the faction the US are now working with in south east Syria and Iraq. Although most are now settled, the culture would remain. Fundamental conservative Sunni and Arabic, Saudi arabia holds a lot of influence over them. Knowing the Bedouin tripes or whatever grouping they have and where they stand, I think would be of interest in watching the US position in Syria and Iraq.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 20 2019 16:37 utc | 315

Peter AU 1@306: You make good points. Current events probably will heat things up in Iraq. Nancy Pelosi is on a bipartisan mission to Jordan right now I understand. Maybe that's related. And it is not clear Iraq can get it's shit together enough to do much about it at the moment, although the Has'd al Shaabi will likely get annoyed, etc. More fun. Kurdistan in N. Iraq seems likely to be affected too.

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 20 2019 16:50 utc | 316

William Gruff
A lot of the propaganda still running is a left over from a previous era. I think the election of Trump marked a clear cut ending point of the Post WWII era, the point at which after constant rise since its inception, the US began its decline. US had peaked in its power (influence over other countries) at about the time of the Ukraine move. US was blocked from success in Ukraine, and in Syria the pushback began so I think Trump marks that turning point. What most could see in alternative media - that the US and what it was doing was not sustainable could also be seen by a faction of the US elite.
That is the faction that is behind Trump, and although they will use the same old propaganda where it suits, they really couldn't be bothered if people believe it or not, whereas the old guard think the propaganda will carry the day and they are still working toward the neo-con Obama Clinton type objectives if they could bge called that. Hate Russia various regime change operations but no strategy or goal other than what they called US dominance behind what they were doing.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 20 2019 16:59 utc | 317

William Gruff @305--

Quite an elaboration of the simple observation that the Emperor and his supporting apparat are bereft of clothes. Comparisons of the current state of the Outlaw US Empire with that of the USSR in the late 1970s through its dissolution have often been made here over the past several years. The term Empire of Lies is quite common as a quick search of the term reveals and is used by both ends of the political spectrum which I find indicative.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 20 2019 17:03 utc | 318

@dh #313: Sorry, "concerted effort" was the wrong expression to use here. I should have said: "Some commenters in this thread are spreading BS about the Syrian Kurds." I was referring to the comments by Martin Brock and Hausmeister.

Posted by: S | Oct 20 2019 17:10 utc | 319

@308 dh.. i make those kinds of spelling mistakes all the time! i read 307 and understood what you meant! i think most do!!

@ peter au... i agree with you about having to get the usa out of iraq being an important part of this.. how long have they been in iraq? since 2003 - 16 years or thereabouts... they have been in japan for 60 or so years, so the chance of the usa getting out of iraq hinges on a collapse of the exceptional nation / empire... it might be shorter or longer then we would like...

Posted by: james | Oct 20 2019 17:39 utc | 320

the point at which after constant rise since its inception, the US began its decline.
Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 20 2019 16:59 utc | 317

The US began it's decline in 1963 at the latest, if not earlier. The rate of decline substantially and irrecoverably accelerated with events in 2001. The apparent peak in military power in 2001/2003 was only illusion. Most people simply didn't notice, because they were too blinkered by hubris.

Posted by: BM | Oct 20 2019 17:45 utc | 321

Posted by: S | Oct 20 2019 15:51 utc | 312

"Laith Marouf, a political analyst and media producer,...“
We see these days so many political analysts and media producers, even the
White Helmets have some for support, that I remain sceptical about that
content. If the reported atrocities are true, however, ... but with this topic
I remain sceptical. Marouf seems to be a one-sided author and such stories I
read quite often. Afer claimed chemical weapons used by Assad claimed
suppressive identity enforcing is the second ubiquitous propaganda tool there.

Vzglyad article by Aleksey Anpilogov:

"This short-sighted policy of Middle Eastern Kurds has ended in ethnic cleansing
in Syria and other Arab countries. On August 23, 1962, the Syrian Government has
conducted a special census in Al-Jazira Province, populated mostly by Kurds. As
a result of it, 120 thousand Kurds (one fifth of then–total population of Syrian
Kurds) were stripped of Syrian citizenship and certain rights.

In 1965, the fight against Kurdish separatism was continued: the Syrian
Government has decided to create the so-called Arab cordon (Hizam Arabi) in
Al-Jazira Province along Turkish and Iraqi borders. The cordon was 300
kilometers long and 10–15 kilometers wide; Arab Bedouins were settled in border
areas, while 140 thousand Kurds were deported to inner regions of Syria. This
fact explains the surprising perseverance of Hasaka and Qamishli populations in
their loyalty to the Assad Government—that was where the "Arab cordon"
settlements were concentrated, which lived independently of the Kurdish
Government of Rojava for eight years and stayed loyal to Damascus."

He says it all. Ethnical cleansing is not good, does not matter who does it.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Oct 20 2019 17:46 utc | 322

@Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 20 2019 14:47 utc | 305

Related to what you are commenting here, I got astonished at the conditions the US Army lives at their bases abroad, as was witnessed in the videos on that bases left behind in Syria...
Such a mess, such dirtiness, gets one to wonder how a person could think with any clarity in such ambiance, and even have any good feeling...

I really wondered whether such neglected conditions of living have their role in the inneffectiveness of the US Army and its eternal failures...

Of course, on the part of the privates it is clearly understnadable, as there is not a more discouraging thing to do than to fight an illegal war thousands miles away from the US with no clear motives related to the security of US citizens...

Posted by: Sasha | Oct 20 2019 17:48 utc | 323


After the collapse of the Soviet Union, US could destroy small countries at will. US was the worlds sole superpower until around 2014 2015 when Russia re-entered the international arena. US began living off the petro-dollar credit card just before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Decadence crept in (especially in MIC) through their time of absolute power along with mounting debt. When Russia re-entered the scene, the US was heavily in debt and could no long produce functional peer to peer level cutting edge weapons systems.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 20 2019 18:05 utc | 324

William Gruff said...

'Business Administration is the university equivalent of Special Education.'

YOWZA...that one's got a very very vicious sting...LOLOLOL

Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 20 2019 18:18 utc | 325

@319 I don't know what Martin Brock's angle is. Maybe he will spell it out for us in a sentence or two. Hausmeister is ambiguous but seems to be pro-Rojava. Perhaps he's a Kurd living in Germany.

Anyway Kurdish independence is an emotional issue for some. As far as I'm concerned the YPG took advantage of US support to grab large areas in NE Syria though I think they have so far avoided direct conflict with the SAA and vice versa.

Posted by: dh | Oct 20 2019 18:31 utc | 326

"Anyway Kurdish independence is an emotional issue for some. As far as I'm concerned the YPG took advantage of US support to grab large areas in NE Syria though I think they have so far avoided direct conflict with the SAA and vice versa."

Land grab has no excuse but must be proven. "Kurdish independence..." - as far as I know the YPG did not act for an independent Kurdish state. Independent from that Baath-indoctrination they reject. What is wrong with is? Similar in Turkey where people reject this Milli Görüs/Muslim Brotherhood indoctrination served by the state.

@All: what is the content of the win-win-win-win-coalition? That the Turkish army and their mercenaries controls the "safe zone" or does the SAA occupies it after the YPG went out, with the chance for the Turks to run patrouille-type of observers together with the SAA? Southfront says the mercenaries took over Ras Al-Ayn.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Oct 20 2019 19:07 utc | 327


Syria has recovered a lot of territory and US has been pushed back a long way so a win for them and Russia.
Erdo has busted up any chance of a US Israeli Kurdistan on Turkey's border which is a win for him.
Trump never wanted to hold positions that were not part of his plans and used Turkey's move to overcome domestic opposition against his dumping Rojava.
As for Erdogan's temporary control of some Syrian territory, a nessacary evil required to push the US back and prevent the Kurds slicing of a chunk of territory as their own. As for the Kurds just wanting some sort of better deal within the Syrian state, that's complete bullshit. They were not interested in negotiations, and although they mouthed political correct words, the intention was to create a separate state allied to US and Israel.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 20 2019 19:23 utc | 328
"Graham also said he believed the United States and Kurdish forces long allied with Washington could establish a venture to modernize Syrian oil fields, with the revenue flowing to the Kurds. "President Trump is thinking outside the box," Graham said of Trump's thinking on oil."

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 20 2019 19:49 utc | 329

Peter AU 1 | Oct 20 2019 19:23 utc | 32

"As for Erdogan's temporary control of some Syrian territory, a nessacary evil required to push the US back and prevent the Kurds slicing of a chunk of territory as their own."

Temporary? Compare Cyprus, Afrin. Take into account that his people use the term „fatih“ (conquer) for this peace-keeping effort for local consumption in Turkey. It is by far no necessary evil. If the YPG people withdraw from this safety zone, controlled by the SAA, may be monitored by SAA and Turkish observers together, that is enough for this aspect. Letting the Turks in means further ethnic cleansing and innumberable cruelties from these mercenaries. Has already started. As „S“ stated correctly what the f... has Turkey to do with the problem who settles in this zone? It is Syrian. Erdogan may bargain this with Assad.

"They were not interested in negotiations, and although they mouthed political correct words, the intention was to create a separate state allied to US and Israel."

How do you know this? The combination of mouthed words and opposite real intention is so popular everywhere. They all do it. ;-)

Posted by: Hausmeister | Oct 20 2019 19:54 utc | 330

@329 peter... i am sure that will go over like a hot damn in syria, russia and china.. someone needs to take graham out to the shed, or put him out to pasture... him and mccain - first class warmongers - have no business in any international context..

Posted by: james | Oct 20 2019 19:56 utc | 331

If Grahams happy then Trump is cooking something up.
Don Bacon linked to the oil scheme in the NYT's thread.
Looks like a scheme for the Syrian oil kicked off back in January. A front firm that there is no information on, GDC, is supposed to manage it.
Copy past from the document...

Dear Mr. Kahana:
Please accept this letter as a formal acceptance of your company, GDC, to represent the Syrian
Democratic Council (SDC) in all matters related to the sale of oil owned by SDC - subject at all times to
the approval by the United States Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC).
We estimate production of crude oil to be 400,000 barrels/ day.
Current daily production capacity is 125,000 barrels/ day.

Moti Kahana linkedin...

Founder and Director
GDC Incorporated
Jan 2019 – Present10 months
95a calais rd randolph nj
GDC a premier energy brokerage and consulting firm based in NJ. We have a dedicated team of professional brokers who are committed to service and value.
Mission to our Clients: Deliver a quality product of service and value with integrity, honesty, and hard work through knowledgeable brokers and cutting edge technology.
GDC a premier energy brokerage and consulting firm based in NJ. We have a dedicated team of professional brokers who are committed to service and value.
Mission to our Clients: Deliver a quality product of service and value with integrity, honesty, and hard work through knowledgeable brokers and cutting edge technology.

According to wikipedia was involved in getting headchoppers into Israeli hospitals and organ McCains visit to the headchoppers.

He has recently kicked of a new front organisation operating from Erbil Iraq. Supposedly to help women in Syria.
This is the "our team" page.

Whatever they are cooking up, Trump does seem to have long term plans for Syrian oil.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 20 2019 20:31 utc | 332

@ Peter AU 1 with the GDC follow up....thanks for your efforts

We can only hope that Trump and his backer's plans about Syrian are thwarted.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 20 2019 20:44 utc | 333

peter and psychohistorian - don b left a follow up with gdcs address in washington.. as i said on the new open thread - this is all made in the usa shit... they can take it and use it for fertilizer when they run out of what they are making in washington - which will not be any time soon! that is the only thing bullshite is good for as i see it..

Posted by: james | Oct 20 2019 20:51 utc | 334

correction.. it is on the new york times story b did from today, not the open thread..

Posted by: james | Oct 20 2019 20:53 utc | 335

@327 far as I know the YPG did not act for an independent Kurdish state. Independent from that Baath-indoctrination they reject. What is wrong with is...

I see. So the YPG don't really want an independent state at all. They would be happy to make a deal with Damascus....minus the Baathists. They don't need US help and will tell Lindsey Graham....politely of course.. where to put his plans for the oilfields.

Posted by: dh | Oct 20 2019 20:57 utc | 336

@332 Thanks Peter. That's heartwarming. I wonder if the humanitarian aid includes allowing the Syrian people to access their oilfields?

Posted by: dh | Oct 20 2019 21:20 utc | 337

dh | Oct 20 2019 21:20 utc | 337

Nice try. To make complicated things easy. Why not if it pleases you?

Posted by: Hausmeister | Oct 20 2019 21:24 utc | 338

@338 Well it's a quite Sunday afternoon here in the mansion so I thought I'd try to make sense of your contradictions. Didn't get far did I?

Posted by: dh | Oct 20 2019 21:38 utc | 339

Well...I see a lot of discussion about whether this is in fact another Turkish land grab.

Let's first look at the current map.

We see first that the SAA and Russians have moved quickly to FLANK the Turkish advance in the middle...Manbij and Kobani are firmly in government hands, as is Qamishli to the east.

We also see the SAA has secured the crucial M4 highway from Tell Tamr, which is just south of the border town of Ras al Ayn...all the way to the Iraqi border.

You can see that ribbon of SAA control all along that highway fro Tell Tamr to the Yarabiyah crossing at the Iraqi border.

So number one, there can be no Turkish 'buffer zone' stretching for 400 km along the Turkish border as the Sultan was dreaming about...that's toast.

This gives also a clue about Syrian intentions...they have taken control of that crucial highway along its entire length, other than that bulge in the middle of the Turkish incursion between Ayn Issa and Tell Tamr...both of which are in SAA hands.

Logistically the Turkish incursion is a dead duck...they can go nowhere because they are cut off from both sides.

Crucially, to the west, the Manbij and Kobane corridor has completely blocked the entire Turkish occupation in Syria...consisting of Afrin, the Euphrates Shield area to and of course Idlib to the west of that.

That is one contiguous Turkish-controlled zone, from Idlib to the Euphrates north of Manbij.

So clearly we have seen how Erdogan's wheels have been by one he added first the Euphrates Shield area north of Manbij, which then was a pocket with the SDF controlling the blocker in the middle...AFRIN...

Then ERdog took Afrin so he could have a contiguous corridor...this latest conquest was supposed to add the entire northern Syrian border from Kobani in the west to Qamishli and the Iraqi border.

The fact that the SAA and Russia have set up a block in Manbij and Kobane signals very clearly that Putin said no way...and Trump certainly did nothing to help Erdog...which he COULD HAVE DONE...had he kept the troops in Kobane and Manbij until Erdogs salafists and tanks got there.

So it looks very much to me like Putin has taken the high ground...geographically the Turks have nowhere to go, that is abundantly clear from the map.

I do agree that Turkey probably hopes that it's going to hold on to every inch it has gained, but how will that happen...?

Right now they've got Tal Abad and Ras al Ayn, both on the Turkish border and they may try to hang onto that for who knows how long.

But they won't be able to keep control of that piece of M4 highway between those two points because the SAA has secured both's a dead end.

ERdog can make all the noise he wants about 'declaring a war' on Syria and we'll see then what the Security Council will have to say.

We need not remind of the tag team work on the UNSC last week between the US and Russia.

So Putin will politely ask Erdog to move back from the highway so that the SAA can take full control...if he refuses he will let the dogs loose [SAA and Kurds]...who will make short work of Erdog's terror army, while Russian jets patrol overhead and keep any Turkish air support out.

Let us also keep in mind that nobody in the US is now going to back Turkey...ERdog has classically overplayed his hand and has pissed off everybody...Trump, the US War Party who are now freaking out with the loss of the Kurds...and he will only piss off his remaning patron VVP, if he insists on being a PITA...

Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 20 2019 21:42 utc | 340

Map showing the oil fields of east Syria.
All very close to the Iraq border.

US department of state links to
Map for Iraq
Map shows a large chunk of ISIS held desert in Iraq opposite the east Syrian oilfields.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 20 2019 22:53 utc | 341

As with the Hessians to the British Army in the American Colonies, so it is with Daesh/ISIS to the Outlaw US Empire's Army in Syraq--a mercenary auxiliary, although the parallel isn't quite exact. Nor, IMO, are Russia and its regional allies fooled one bit. Nor, IMO, is Trump ignorant of that relationship. Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Hezbollah, and Taliban are out to destroy the Daesh/ISIS entity while the Outlaw US Empire despite its umpteen disavowals is obviously trying to save it and use it for its own Imperialist purposes. IMO, removal of Outlaw US Empire troops from the region is a priori for rendering Daesh/ISIS extinct--same with al-Ciada. The Turkey gambit was a onetime only move, and it's hard to determine (probably too early) if its objectives will be gained as hoped. Too bad we don't have our own mole on Russia's General Staff.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 20 2019 23:42 utc | 342

Peter, thanks for those maps...

Maps are always very here's the thing about the oil as I see it...note the pipelines shown in green for oil and yellow for gas...

Clearly the Syrian govt has already now secured the oil region in the far northeast in the Hasaka we have seen from the military map I showed.

So that oil pipeline which runs all the way from there to Homs is now in Syrian hands...

That leaves the the oil fields on the left bank of the Euphrates which are connected by pipelines running to Syrian held territory near the Abukamal border crossing with Iraq [which has recently been reopened]...

How would the US get that oil out even if it wanted to...?

They control no pipelines and no roads...all the roads are now in SAG hands...the roads can be seen better on google maps...the M20 runs from Hasaka town all the way down through Palmyra and into Damascus.

Likewise the Deir Ezzor highway that runs all the way from Aleppo, hugging the Euphrates through Raqqa and down to the Abukamal border crossing...

There are no other roads...any notion that anyone other than the SAG is soon going to control all for the country's oil and gas has no chance of happening.

I think careful study of these various maps points to the inevitable logical's game over in Syria...only dotting the i's and crossing the t's remains.

Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 20 2019 23:44 utc | 343

Thanks to flankerbandit, Peter AU 1, karlof1 and others for their contributions to the status of the US held oil fields in Syria.

I really do appreciate all the research and analysis you have provided to myself and others interested in the evolution of the Syrian front in our civilization war.

May all the i's be dotted and the t's be crossed soon

Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 20 2019 23:52 utc | 344

New item on recovery work at recaptured oil patch areas. It's going to be awhile until spice from these gets to refineries.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 21 2019 0:27 utc | 345

Regarding US military hardware it seems to me that the peak occurred in the 1970s. Jets developed during this time, F15, F16, F18, A10, and others are still in service. F35 started development in 1992 and enntered service in 2018 and epitomizes the 'too many bells and whistles' pork barrel boondoggle that characterizes the MIC currently. Too much money thrown at problems and not enough field savvy smarts. I am not familiar with army and navy tech, but it seems to me that it all generally suffers from 'good on paper' but a bitch to keep functional in the field. The Iraqis were able to take down Abrams tanks with relatively unsophisticated means. Don't know much about the helicopters, but the Patriot batteries seem another day late and a dollar short piece of hardware. Military strategies also seem generally deficient and deployments overly reliant on contract services that inflate the cost of everything.

Peak firepower may have been in 2001 but the rot set in a couple of decades earlier.

Posted by: the pessimist | Oct 21 2019 1:05 utc | 346

A map of Iraq oil pipelines.

There is the possibility of US doing a deal with Turkey for the Syrian oil. Oil could be trucked to Turkey same as ISIS was doing. Also the possibility of linking Syrian oilfields to Iraqi pipelines to take the oil down to the gulf. Or trucking the oil to the Iraqi pipeline.
Back in 2013 or so, US embassy of Syria website had a page calling for expressions of interest from US companies to supply and install oil infrastructure in rebel held Syria. I suspect we will soon see something similar come out under Trump.
Although there is the cost of infrastructure, there has been no upfront costs in exploration or purchase to recover. The oilfields have been stolen. Even with higher transport costs, plenty of margin for a buck to made.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 21 2019 1:05 utc | 347

The source for the map linked by Peter AU @341consists of 3 people, founded in 2011. Map copyright 2019, showing Turkish "safezone". Who are these people and how do they manage to pop out of the woodwork with a freshly updated map?

Posted by: the pessimist | Oct 21 2019 2:00 utc | 348

@ 347 peter au and earlier posts... i like what @flankerbandit points out, but i still think the usa will find some way to fuck it up for syria.. until the usa is completely out of the pic, it is always possible they have some deceptive bullshite up their sleeve.. that is why these sleazeballs like graham and trump continue on - the sleaze in the typical american politican is very great..

Posted by: james | Oct 21 2019 3:06 utc | 349
"The Pentagon is considering keeping some U.S. troops near oilfields in northeastern Syria alongside Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to help deny oil to Islamic State militants...."
"Speaking to reporters during a trip to Afghanistan, Esper said that, while the U.S. withdrawal was under way, some troops were still with partner forces near oilfields and there had been discussions about keeping some of them there."
"The New York Times reported late on Sunday that Trump was now leaning in favor of a new military plan to keep about 200 U.S. troops in eastern Syria near the Iraq border."

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 21 2019 17:12 utc | 350

@350 Will he or won't he? 200 troops won't be much use except as a symbol. It's all about shutting Lindsey Graham down IMO and whatever Trump thinks is best for re-election.

Posted by: dh | Oct 21 2019 17:32 utc | 351

Peter AU 1 @350

Bu..But the Syrian war is over!

Bu..But America First Trump wants to get out of the Middle East!

Bu..But Erdogan is turning east!

Bu..But the Empire is lost!


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Oct 21 2019 17:34 utc | 352

dh @351: 200 troops won't be much use except as a symbol.

They'll have air support. And they'll be supplemented by US contractors + local militias (Non-Kurd parts of SDF, SNA, etc.)

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Oct 21 2019 17:37 utc | 353

Those two hundred troops will be backed by fire support bases in Iraq, plus two airbases ten minutes flying time away. They will be able to stay in the oilfields for as long as US holds Iraq.
Take an eraser and get rid of the border when looking at US positions.
Take a look at the US base at al Tanf and how long its been there. Holding the oilfields is no different.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 21 2019 17:57 utc | 354

Keeping the oil is not just an impulse nor about shutting down Graham or anyone else. It has been Tump's intention since early 2016 in the election campaign or earlier to take the oil in Syria.
He has also been consistent on taking Iraqi oil.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 21 2019 18:09 utc | 355

@353 & 354. You're right. So it comes down to who gets the oil revenue. And keeping Lindsey Graham happy.

Posted by: dh | Oct 21 2019 18:11 utc | 356

The reason given for keeping troops 'near' the oilfields if to prevent IIS getting them. THE SAA would presumably be quite incapable of that.

"The U.S. is considering keeping some troops near oil fields in northeastern Syria to protect them from being captured by Islamic State militants, Defense chief Mark Esper said Monday."

Posted by: dh | Oct 21 2019 18:19 utc | 357

Grahams concern is Israel. Which is where holding the Syria Iraq border comes into play. In this way Trump and Graham are on the same page. Everything Trump does in the middle east needs to be looked at in the light of grabbing the oil plus 'protecting' Israel.
So two objectives in east Syria, 1) the oil, 2) holding the border.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 21 2019 18:36 utc | 358

@358 Yes that's pretty obvious. It's strange though, when Trump announced his intention to pull troops out of Syria he seemed surprised at the strong reaction from Graham/Israel. Maybe he thinks his base likes the decision more than they do.

Posted by: dh | Oct 21 2019 18:44 utc | 359

dh @359: ... he seemed surprised ...

LOL. Were you fooled by the kayfab?

Along with millions of others.

A Look Into Donald Trump's History With The WWE

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Oct 21 2019 18:59 utc | 360

My thought is Graham is still oldschool American zionist exceptionalist and only thinks in terms of how it was always done. Trump is the same in being an American exceptionalist and zionist but recognises the old ways no longer work. If that is the case we will continue to see initial indignation by Graham and then approval when Trump explains his plans.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 21 2019 19:08 utc | 361

Just a thought here from the early days of the Trump presidency in Syria. When the US and there proxies crossed the dam and took Tabqa, they where heading for the Raqqa oilfields which are just to thesouth east of Tabqa. If Trump had got them, that would be all Syria's oil, but without the oil Trump had no problems withdrawing from the dam.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 21 2019 19:13 utc | 362

@360 Let's just say I'm as suspicious and cynical as I've always been (LOL). It could all be a charade but I still think Trump was surprised by Graham's reaction....

“Lindsey Graham would like to stay in the Middle East for the next thousand years with thousands of soldiers and fighting other people’s wars. I want to get out of the Middle East,” Trump responded. “I think Lindsey should focus right now on judiciary. The people of S. Carolina deserve better."

That seems to be aimed at his base.

Posted by: dh | Oct 21 2019 19:15 utc | 363

Twitter thread...

6h6 hours ago
How much oil is at stake in #Syria ?

Total reserves are estimated at 2.5 Billion barrels and at least 75% of these reserves are in the fields surrounding Deir Al Zor...

2-Current revenue from oil sales goes to #SDF , currently estimated at $10 million a month. These revenues are expected to rise should U.S. help in modernizing current fields. #SDF can then sell the oil to Damascus and/or Kurdistan in #Iraq which will in turn sell to #Turkey....

3-#Turkey ‘s current oil consumption is about 1 million barrels a day. #Syria ‘s reserves are 2.5 billion barrels and daily production can be quickly increased to approximately 300k barrels a day. #SDF can therefore look to supply at least one fifth of Turkey’ s needs via #Iraq...

4-#Turkey will also look to obtain direct access to #Syria ‘s Rumeilan oil field in NE should it complete its seizing of the North East zone. Between them, Ankara and #SDF (with protection of U.S military) can soon control up to 90 percent of #Syria ‘s 2.5 billion oil reserves...

Trump may well have already done a deal with Erdogan on the Syrian oil. Oil could be trucked to Turkey, though would not take much to build a pipeline from the oilfields to the Turkish border.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 21 2019 19:40 utc | 364

Trump, Graham ect talk of Kurds holding the oilfields. Barzani in Iraq deals with Turkey and is not an issue for Erdogan. Perhaps a mix of Kurds with ties to Barzani and jihadis of Dier Ezzor to be the new SDF holding the east Syrian oilfields as US proxies.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 21 2019 20:07 utc | 365

Holding the oilfields by anyone except the Syrian government is theft pure and simple. Not that it seems to bother Trump. I can't see Erdogan rushing to finance any kind of Kurdish group in Syria somehow.

The best answer for ISIS would be to let the SAA deal with it but that won't happen either because it would be a win for Assad. Lindsey Graham is happy again BTW. He says he trusts Trump to do the right thing.

Posted by: dh | Oct 21 2019 21:03 utc | 366 about the oil fields...

Now Trump and Graham and everyone on Twitter can Twit whatever they like...but the maps tell a different story.

Let's first start with the military situation map, which I have marked

We note first of all the top right corner which is where the bulk of US troops has already crossed into Iraq...note that this entire area is secured and ringed by SAA and SDF now working with them...they actually escorted the US convoys out and there is video of that on southfront.

We also note in the northwest that the SAA plus Russia are in control of Kobane and Manjib...thus blocking Turkey from establishing a contiguous corridor as it had been planning, which we see on the oil map...which I have similarly

That big corner in the top right is under SAG control as we see in the previous map...we note that there is quite a bit of oil here, so already the SAG has recovered some of its oil.

On this map we see also in pink what the Turks actually wanted...that whole corridor from Kobane to the Iraqi border, which would have given them a contiguous corridor right from Idlib...

Well as we can see by those red boxes that correspond to the SAG and Russian held areas on the first map, that's not going to happen.

Now at the bottom of the map we see marked in orange the oil areas still allegedly in possession of the US...this includes the Omar field on the RIGHT BANK of the Euphrates which is the biggest oil field and actually has its own pipeline crossing the river to SAG held area.

We note that the oil area on the left bank also has pipelines that go into SAG held area...all the pipes converge on what is obviously a distribution point and pumping station south of Mayadin [SAG held].

From there there is a pipe route over to Iraq, but obviously the SAG can shut that off.

So how is the US going to get any oil out of there...?

It's not going to be by pipeline, that's for sure, because the pipeline control is in SAG hands already.

That leaves lets look at google maps of the area and see what roads are here

We see that the Omar field on the other side is out of reach of the US anyway, on the other side of the river...even if they keep people there they have no way of getting that oil over the river...there are no bridges...

That leaves the fields on the left bank just across from Mayadin down through to the Iraq border.

Crucially, there is only ONE ROAD there in the area of Abu Hamam, which leads to the Iraq border.

So perhaps the US can get SOME oil out of there, depending on the condition of that road, since it is not a highway [it would be marked such with a number if it was]...which indicates it is probably not a road even capable of tanker trucks.

And what if that border crossing at that road is already controlled by SAG, or soon to be...?

Now we see from these maps that Turkey doesn't come into the equation at all here...let's look at a map of how ISIS was shipping that oil by

We see that oil was going from ISIS-held Deir Ezzor all along that Deir Ezzor highway [highway 4 on that google map]...all the way to terrorist held Aleppo and into Turkey through Idlib.

That entire highway was in ISIS hands...that is ancient history now...there is not a way to et a single drop of oil to Turkey, neither from the Hasaka area which is in SAG hands...nor from the area across the river from Deir Ezzor, which is apparently still in US hands.

The other factor is how is the US going to supply that outpost...?

Their outpost at al Tanf has that major Highway to Iraq which the US is holding.

I don't see this being realistic...Trump and the rest of the noisemakers need to actually look at a map.

I say those US troops that are allegedly still in the oil area are going to bug out soon enough...the Russians have already set up a bridge across the Euphrates near Deir Ezzor, which means the SAA can go in there...

Posted by: flankerbanbdit | Oct 21 2019 21:57 utc | 367

Correction on my previous post about Omar oil field...meant to say on the right bank of the Euphrates TRIBUTARY...not the Euphrates itself...

Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 21 2019 22:25 utc | 368

so some 200 schmucks from dumbfuckistan usa will get to 'protect' the oilfields. Ain't that special.
and if Trukey does not pay the ransom taker the us will send some military might and scare them into paying the ransom note as per pompeo.
ohmygosh all that winning, so much winning, the most winnigest shitface of the shitty house ever.
surely this calls for more complaints about the women who lost several years ago.

Posted by: Sabine | Oct 21 2019 22:30 utc | 369

Wikimapia is perhaps a better map to look at for location of oilfields.

It shows Jafra oilfield and Al Isba oil and gas field and Conoco gas field to the north of the tributary, with the vast majority of oilfields all the way from the tributary down to the Iraq border.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 21 2019 23:07 utc | 370

There looks to be paved roads from Iraq to the center of the oil fields. Just needs linking one or two k's across the border.,41.3001505,179176m/data=!3m1!1e3

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 21 2019 23:19 utc | 371

Thanks, Peter...

I did misplace the Omar field, which is indeed to the south of the tributary...

On your second map with the road...that's the one I was thinking of...but it's a dead end just before the Iraq can see it if you zoom the map in.

So there is no border crossing there...which means there is zero chance of getting any oil out of that Omar field or any of the other fields on that oil corridor that the US says it's holding.

I don't see this going anywhere...I think Trump is under intense pressure from everybody around him to throw some kind of stick in the Syrian wheel...

But I don't see this plan of keeping a US presence in that unworkable little geographical corner as feasible at all...the only thing that would do is to deny Syria a piece of its own land and the oil underneath it...they can't get any out that's for sure...

I really don't see this working on any level, either politically or logistically...

Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 21 2019 23:36 utc | 372

I'm with flankerbandit. Once the US pull-out is done via the main NE crossing into Iraq, it will revert into SAA/SDF hands with strong troop concentration in Hasakah and Quamishli. I can't see the US using it freely after their retreat..

Posted by: Lozion | Oct 22 2019 0:04 utc | 373

Thanks to all commenters again who have continued to expand on the oil field situation in Syria which I don't know anything about except its all about the money measured in oil.

It will be interesting to see how this situation evolves and whether it leads to Iraq getting guts to throw the US out as well.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 22 2019 0:05 utc | 374

flankerbandit @372+

Thanks for all your efforts with maps, they're extremely helpful! As I linked to above, the US War director Esper said the complete withdrawal will take weeks not days as total evacuation of all equipment is the goal, and as you note there's not much of a road net for such to occur quickly. Canthama offers his appraisal:

"There is no doubt about that, the MSM used it to play the oil card, which was total BS since the US would be boxed in the desert. Non sense since minute 1, the US is leaving Syria for good, can leave behind a 'leg or an arm', won't do any good for them."

All the roadblocks to exiting Syria and Iraq are political and exist only within the Outlaw US Empire. Trump stated very forcefully--fanatically even--in his UNGA speech that he's against the Globalists and all for Patriots. The entire policy of the Outlaw US Empire in Southwest Asia is a Globalist project. It ought to be easy to see how extricating itself from this policy was going to be extremely difficult for any POTUS without Congressional and BigLie Media--read Deep State-- support. For quite awhile, Trump's been harshly critical of such Globalist policies that drain monies from other needed domestic pursuits, so IMO his anti-Globalist policy is genuine and not only used to score political points. Afterall, there's a reason why the Deep State was already targeting Trump and Russia prior to HRC's loss; it's just been lost in the wash until recently.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 22 2019 0:22 utc | 375


I measured the distance on wikimapia. 2200 meters. Flat desert may not even need a grader cutting a track to make a dry weather road. As for paving it - shorter than an airstrip and US have constructed a few of them in Syria.
I think while the US is in Iraq, it's doable and Trump intends being in Iraqi a long time. When I say that, I realise other players will be making their moves, but still we have to wait for those moves. Until something changes, Trump has the oil.
I'm waiting for the dust to clear and new frontlines determined to see what will happen with the northern oilfields near Hasaka and Qamishli. From what I have read, the oilfields along the Euphrates, the Omar oil field area has 70% or sob of Syrian oil reserves. I guess that would be the next thing to determine is what percentage of oil is where.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 22 2019 0:29 utc | 376

Well, if Trump wanted to keep Lady Lindsey happy, he'd buy him a couple of Guatemalan pool boys. To the Kurds: in the words of the infamous John Belushi,"you fucked up, you trusted us".

Posted by: Shadow | Oct 22 2019 0:30 utc | 377

flankerbandit and peter with the maps and overview here.. thanks..

Posted by: james | Oct 22 2019 0:48 utc | 378

It has been a mistake oft repeated here to consider Lindsay Graham the minister for Israel when he has always been the senator for Energy Corporations whose support for israel has always been predicated in the zionist apartheid state being the beach head for us imperial hegemony particularly hydrocarbon hegemony.
Those who heard orange git's words will notice the emphasis he put on the Oil being signed over to US corporations for exploitation with maybe a few bucks being kicked to the kurds.
In other words this is a last minute attempt to assuage Graham which appears to have succeeded, at least in the short term. No one can stop this blatant theft until sufficient states move off the petrodollar because any win in any court in the world by Syria would simply be trumped by the zionist controlled southern district of new york federal court.

Indeed that must be Graham & co's biggest concern, that far from getting the right to steal Iran's oil back, amerikan corporations are struggling to keep what they have already extorted throughout the ME.
They will take the Syria rort on which both erdy & trumpet have almost certainly gone back on their word, but I predict transporting the booty outta Syria will become a major problem for them.

Posted by: A User | Oct 22 2019 1:18 utc | 379

Peter...thanks again for the maps and correcting me on the location of Omar field...

I do agree that technically it's possible for the US to improvise a border crossing there, but is it politically feasible...?

I mean that would be a blatant violation of Syria's sovereignty to go and build an illegal border crossing in a country in which you are already illegally...

Also does Trump really want to do something like this, or does he want to use this opportunity to keep his election a few more promises in the past year, to bug out of Syria...?

I agree with you about waiting until the dust settles...all anybody can do right now is pure guesswork and trying to put some jigsaw pieces together, like we've been doing with the maps.

But here's my 1.5 cents worth...what exactly is the deal behind the scenes among Erdog, VVP and Trump...?

Nobody knows of course, but that hasn't stopped many good commentators from speculating...Bhadrakumar and Salman Rafi Sheikh seem to think that VVP and Erdog have boxed in Trump...

But I'm not so sure...the way I see it, these kinds of 'dogfights' tend to be settled by the Big I think Trump and VVP have cooked this up with Erdog being the little dog in the middle...

Of course neither Trump nor VVP nor anybody with a working sense of smell would trust Erdog very's clear to me that he thought he was going to get his chunk of Syria with this...that big contiguous strip all along the Turkish border and running from Idlib to Iraq...

Well...if we look at history it's always the big dogs that carve up the little Poland being partitioned, not once but twice, between Germany and Russia...etc etc...

I think Trump wanted out with a plausible cover story...but both he and VVP realized that Erdog could not be given everything he wanted...which is that big chunk of Syria...if that were to happen, Turkey would never get in Cyprus.

I don't think VVP and Trump want to give Erdog any more than is absolutely necessary...again I point to the fact that Trump could have arranged to hand over US bases to Erdog...easiest thing in the world...but it never happened.

Instead the SAA and Russian military police moved in.

So I'm optimistic about that oil patch too...either way Syria and its people are already the biggest winners...even as things stand right now, its huge.

@ karlof1

Thanks for all your work here also...great to see so many of us here pulling together.

Kindest Regards to All!

Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 22 2019 1:27 utc | 380


Exact US position in Iraq is the big unknown. US seems to think it is secure. From what Magneir has written from time to time US position may well be secure if they play thier cards right. US had no problems hitting PMU's when they where fighting ISIS especially along the border area. Actively anti US factions in Iraq I think are in the minority. Then there are the neutral and pro US factions.

Trump, Erdogan and Putin. I think each are making deals with the other two separately, more so Erdo and Trump. Trump making one deal with Putin and another with Erdo, and Erdogan making one deal with Trump and another with Putin. Much may depend on Trump making a deal with Erdogan on the oil. Erdo would be interested in cheap oil and if Trump were to ditch PKK and go with the Barzani Kurd's and Sunni Islam proxies for the oilfields, then no reason they cannot make a deal.
I suspect that if Trump holds the oilfields he will use mostly proxies as the infantry force to hold the area, small bases for forward fire control. If they bring in US oil companies there may be more US forces providing protection.

The reason I think Trump will hold onto the oilfields is that it marks the start of his energy dominance aspirations. If that is what he is doing, then rather than looking at this in the veiw of a long term stand alone operation, it needs to be looked as though further oil assets will be added in the future.
Not saying he will achieve this, rather what I think his intentions are.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 22 2019 2:06 utc | 381

Regrading deals between Trump and Putin. Given the uproar of the call between US and Ukraine, one would think that the slightest hint of a whiff of any coordination or conversation between Trump and Putin--or via backchannel by subordinates--would raise an even greater stink. Yet, there's been no sign of such an uproar, not even speculation via BigLie Media, and you know such a hint is being sought bigtime.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 22 2019 2:40 utc | 382

I appreciate and enjoy all the comments, and in-depth analysis here. It does help to know what's really going on. But at this point a crystal ball is as good as any conjecture. The situation is much too fluid to predict an outcome. As we know, Uncle Scrooge, Israel and Saudi Arabia have no honor and can't be trusted. Rojava seems to be a failed dream. An Israeli friendly, feminist, sjw, rainbow utopian state in the Middle East wouldn't last long without US support. Haven't seen a whole lot of tolerance for feminism or gay pride parades in that part of the world. Although, I do remember women wearing miniskirts in Baghdad back in the day. As it sits, no one can possibly predict the future. Oh and I heard a woman on NPR talking about the Utopia crushed.

Posted by: Shadow | Oct 22 2019 2:48 utc | 383


Trump sent a couple of envoys Pomp and Pence to see Erdogan. No phone calls to be monitored nor a trail of paperwork to be leaked. Graham was happy when trump filled in the details, so I take it Pence and Pomp also thought it a good idea, therefore no leaks.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 22 2019 3:18 utc | 384

Interesting about the oil. I don't know but I'll assume that none of the players in NES have been drilling new wells and the like. If so, then it's basically maintenance and a case of either shutting production down or opening the flow.

Magnier in his latest piece mentions:

The Syrian Kurds have been selling oil to Damascus while they have controlled NES notwithstanding the US requests that they refrain from energy delivery to the Syrian population.

And this was presumably with US oversight of the Kurds.

If the Turks controlled the valves, would the oil go to Turkey or continue to be sold to Damascus? And what control would the US hold over Turkey if it made the same request it made to the Kurds? Perhaps rather less than it held over the Kurds?

In the end it comes down to money that Syria is paying for a resource it should be getting at no charge - part of the arithmetic of occupation and plunder.

And on the distribution side, this is profit to whomever holds the oilfields, as well as to whomever benefits from the oil supply - be this Erdogan's son dealing with ISIS or the Kurds contracting to sell through a US intermediary (Don Bacon posted that contract signed in January this year, possibly in this thread, certainly very recently - too tired now to find it, sorry).

I appreciate the maps, and the cold practical daylight on the situation. I wish we had a better handle on the changes in money flows as the theater shifts from the various deployments.


And one could imagine that maybe the players in this land who don't actually live there might also be looking to the future and thinking of the money from China that will come (and has already started coming) to both Syria and Turkey as soon as a land fit for heroes and investors is made safe in the borderlands between them?

Posted by: Grieved | Oct 22 2019 4:16 utc | 385

A good site for finding maps.

Have been looking at a few different maps there. Looking at an oil map for Kurdish Iraq that includes pipelines, I noticed the oil pipeline running running into Syria just south of the Euphrates plus a gas line ending just before the border.
As long as those lines are in usable condition, it would not be a big job to connect the Syrian oil and gas fields into those lines.

This is a map from elsewhere, similar to the one linked by flankerbandit earlier, showing Syrian oil and gas lines.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 22 2019 10:01 utc | 386

A 2004 CIA map of Syria shows three roads crossing from Syria into Iraq east of the Khabur River: 1) one starting from Al-Busayrah, 2) one starting from Al-Fadghami, 3) one starting from Al-Shaddadah. On the Iraqi side, these roads converge at Sinjar and then continue onwards to Tal Afar, Mosul, and the Iraqi Kurdistan. So the scenario presented by Peter AU 1 is quite plausible, especially since ISIS conveniently protects these roads from the east. Recall how the Kurdish units of the Iraqi army gave up their bases with heavy weapons to the ISIS without a fight or how quickly SDF integrated ISIS in Eastern Syria.

Posted by: S | Oct 22 2019 11:18 utc | 387

Pompeo, asked about Turkey crisis, says Trump is ‘fully prepared’ to take military action if needed

CNBC headline this morning...

So just hours before Erdog goes to Sochi, the US is tightening the screws...hmm

Looks to me like Erdog is in a scissors...

The Magnier piece today linked in another comment above also points to this...and confirms what I have stated about outflanking the Turkish plan...

The presence of the Syrian Army in Manbij and Ayn al-Arab [Kobane] has spoiled the Turkish plan to control an area 440 kilometres long...

Magnier shows the same oil map from that 'Energy Consulting Group' that Peter dug up...he has also marked up a military situation map that shows what we have been presenting here...

The Magnier piece here...

Another interesting note...

Yesterday the NYT ran a huge scare piece about Erdog's apparent desire to get the bomb...

Erdogan’s Ambitions Go Beyond Syria. He Says He Wants Nuclear Weapons.

Looks like a full court press to me...directed against new Enemy Number One, Erdog...

[Of course the NYT hacks cast Russia as some kind of partner in crime in this alleged nuclear weapons project, since they are building an NPP in Turkey...the ridiculous court scribes are always good for a good belly laugh]...

Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 22 2019 14:44 utc | 388

Esper presser in Afghanistan.
"SEC. ESPER: Well, let me just say that the troops -- we have troops in towns in south -- in northeast Syria that are located next to the oil fields. The troops in those towns are not in the present phase of withdrawal. The present phase of withdrawal from northeast Syria involves those troops up along the border, if you will, principally at the Kobani LZ at this point in time.

So that, as I said yesterday, this withdraw will take weeks, not days. Until that time, our forces will remain in the towns that are located near the oil fields. The purpose of those forces -- a purpose of those forces, working with the SDF, is to deny access to those oil fields by ISIS and others who may benefit from revenues that could be earned."

"SEC. ESPER: So on the first question, as I -- as I think I said before, we are maintaining a combat air patrol above all of our forces on the ground in Syria. And we are also operating that with ISR capabilities. And we will maintain that because force protection remains our number one goal."

" We believe we defeated the physical caliphate of ISIS in March, and -- but nowhere in there was that we would fight a longstanding NATO ally and -- in defense of the Kurds -- to enable the establishment of an autonomous Kurdish state, which is the aim of many Kurds."

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 22 2019 15:45 utc | 389

@389 "....others who may benefit from revenues that could be earned."

Who could he mean by that? The Syrian people perhaps? Esper's problem is that the whole US policy in Syria is based on a lie. And it will stay that way until they acknowledge the existence of the Syrian government.

Posted by: dh | Oct 22 2019 16:11 utc | 390

Update by Canthama about the resumption of Idlib offensive:

"President Assad visited the frontline in Idlib, he was in al Habit and Abdin few hour ago, and the order for the new offensive against the turkish backed al Qaeda has been given, there is no place in Syria for these filthy terrorists, illegal occupiers and traitors.

"The Muslin Brotherhood apologists that blindly support MI6/Mossad plans to destroy Syria using the pathetic turkish regime, may continue to say that no offensive in Idlib/Western Aleppo/Lattakia will take place….no surprise here.

"As the green light was given, the SAA is now timing the offensive as it fits best, there will be at least two major frontlines this time, details are not known yet, but M4 & M5 will be totally liberated, and turkish backed al Qaeda will be killed or pushed back to Turkey.

"Russia sent huge nbrs of new gears for this offensive, from brand new T90s to new missiles launchers and armoured vehicles. There will be an unprecedented use of ATGM/TOW by the SAA during this offensive."

Asked about Russia building a new airbase, Canthama replied:

"There are a lot of rumours out there for sure, what we know for facts:

"1) Lots of Russians went to Tabqa airbase, it may be that they will help set up a modern airbase for Syria or use it, we just do not know yet. This airbase is well located, but it does not make any sense at all to have two RuAF airbases in Syria, not with the kind of investment doe in Khmeimim.

"2) A large group of Russian soldiers landed in Qamishili in the past 24 hrs, it is believed they will be protecting the border with the SAA, heavy weapons arrived with them, such as armoured vehicles.

"All the buzz of US staying in Syria for the oil is most likely MSM twisting facts. The US has little to nothing to gain in staying in DeZ, actually their risk increases by the day if they stay in Syria with fewer troops, this risk the US won’t take, so at the right time the US will vacate DeZ, after completely vacate Hasaka. Al Tanf continues to be a puzzle, but again it makes no sense at all to guard the desert for nothing.

"The SAA and allies are building 2 bridges at the moment in the Euphrates, near DeZ city and in al Bukamal, that can only mean the SAA and allies are taking the time to build a solid bridge that will stay for a long time to cross with heavy weapons and trucks to protect the border with Iraq and equipments to rebuild and fix the oil wells."

Southfront video shows condition of Tabqa airbase runway and some of its surround. It's operational for helos, but a new runway will be required for fixed wing.

Putin's in Sochi for opening of Russia-Africa Summit and will meet Erdogan sometime today. TASS reports they've met for 5 hours already and 140+ reporters await the Presser.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 22 2019 16:55 utc | 391

Just in from Sochi...

Erdogan's operation, meanwhile, will continue in a limited area – between towns of Tell Abyad and Ras al-Ayn – up to 32 km inside Syrian territory.

Other parts of the Syrian border will be controlled by Syrian military and border guards, supported by Russian military police.

So just as we predicted...and as Magnier's map shows the Turkish incursion is limited to that bulge...150 km long, not the 444 km Erdog had envisaged.

So there can be no land grab from oil has any chance of going to Turkey...

We'll wait and see now how the US noise about staying in the oil patch in Deir Ezzor province will turn out to be real...

The Iraqis have now also called that US troops entering from Syria are for TRANSIT ONLY...they cannot stay...

I think the fat lady will soon start warming up her vocal chords...

Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 22 2019 19:03 utc | 392


Trump treats Iraq with as much contempt as he treats the Saudi's. US until not long ago were regularly hitting Iraqi militias with impunity. It makes me wonder if there is much behind those words. Somewhat like Syria protestations on Turkey and US occupying parts of Syria.
At the moment, I'm fifty fifty on whether or not Iraq will back up those words.
If Iraq is willing to back up its words then Trump's plan of keeping Syrian oilfields wont get off the ground, but if Iraq do not enforce what it says then Trump will keep the oilfields.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 22 2019 19:15 utc | 393

Peter...SecDef Esper spoke after the Iraqi statement saying that the troops will NOT stay in Iraq and will in fact come home.

In another change of plan on the withdrawal ordered by President Donald Trump, Esper told reporters traveling with him in Saudi Arabia,

"The aim isn't to stay in Iraq interminably. The aim is to pull our soldiers out and eventually get them back home," The Associated Press reported.

So Esper has clearly backtracked on that keeping troops in Iraq noise he was making just previously...

On Monday, Trump said at the White House that he is still committed to the total withdrawal of the estimated 1,000 U.S. troops who had been in Syria.

However, he added that a few hundred would stay for an unspecified time to guard oil wells in the southeast and to bolster the U.S. garrison at Al Tanf on the Jordanian border at the request of Israel and Jordan.

I think this is just improvistion going on...saying anything just to calm down the uproar from the War Party about finally leaving Syria...Esper is putting up resistance to Trump on behalf of his constituents in the MIC [he was most recently with one of the big defense contractors]...

When things quiet down a bit, the US troops will ALL leave Syria, which is what Trump wants...including al Tanf, which I think is mostly a sop to Israel.

Story here...

Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 23 2019 1:49 utc | 394

@ William in comment # 395 who wrote
But John helmer said that Russia has caved in
What a shallow and totally mistaken reading of the latest John Helmer posting. I think if we took a poll about your comment you would register 3 points below believable, at least.....

Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 27 2019 5:25 utc | 395

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