Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 14, 2019

Syrian Government Regains Control Over Country's Northeastern Parts

Eight days ago U.S. President Donald Trump gave a green light for another Turkish invasion of Syria. We explained why that move made it inevitable for the Kurds to submit to Damascus and to let the Syrian Arab Army back into northeast Syria:

While the YPG might want to fight off a Turkish invasion they have little chance to succeed. The land is flat and the YPG forces only have light arms.

There is only one solution for them. They will have to call up the Syrian government and ask it to come back into the north east. That would remove the Turkish concerns and would likely prevent further Turkish moves.

After Trump had spoken with the Turkish president Erdogan, the U.S. military removed a few of its forces from some areas near the Turkish border. The Pentagon was still under the false impression that Turkey would limit its invasion to some 5 kilometer in depth. It was obvious, as we wrote, that Turkey wanted far more:

A major goal is to interrupt the M4 highway that runs parallel to the border and allows for troop movements between the east and the west of the Kurdish majority areas. The highway is about 20-30 kilometers from the border.

The M4 road is also one of the major logistical routes for the U.S. troops stationed in the western part.

The Kurds could do little to resist the Turkish onslaught. On Saturday Turkish supported "Syrian rebels" reached the M4 highway and captured and killed several Kurdish troops and civilians who were passing by. The Pentagon finally took notice of the imminent danger:

“This is total chaos,” a senior administration official said at midday, speaking on the condition of anonymity about the confusing situation in Syria.

Although “the Turks gave guarantees to us” that U.S. forces would not be harmed, the official said, Syrian militias allied with them “are running up and down roads, ambushing and attacking vehicles,” putting American ­forces — as well as civilians — in danger even as they withdraw. The militias, known as the Free Syrian Army, “are crazy and not reliable.”

Ahhhh. The "Free Syrian Army", which the U.S. built and supplied with an immense amount of weapons to fight the Syrian government, is "crazy and not reliable". How come that all the think tankers and 'journalists' who for years lauded that 'army' never noticed that?

The Pentagon finally recognized that it was not possible to hold onto the area without starting a war with its NATO partner Turkey. On Saturday evening Trump gave the order that all U.S. troops shall leave northeast Syria within 30 days. The Secretary of Defense did not resign as his predecessor did over a similar decision but defended the move.

The decision was the kick in the ass the Kurds needed to agree to the return of Syrian government troops to the area they had held on to while under U.S. command. Currently Syrian troops and their heavy weapons are streaming in. Their primary task is to prevent any further encroachment by Turkish forces. They will also move to retake the oil fields east of Deir Ezzor and they will take control of the prison camps where ISIS fighters are held.


As of this writing Syrian troops (red) have entered Manbij, Ain al Issa, Tabqa airbase near Raqqa and Tel Tamr. Turkish supported groups (green) hold Tell Abyad and Ras al-Ayn and the villages between those two cities. That area has an Arab majority population.

The Kurds wish to keep their 'autonomous administration' of northeast Syria. While talks are still ongoing I do not expect that the mostly Arab inhabitants of the whole area, nor the Syrian government will agree to that. There can not be a special status for any of Syria's many ethnic or religious groups.

The Kurdish led Syrian Democratic Forces will be disbanded. Its soldiers will be integrated into the Syrian army. The Syrian government will also disband the 'autonomous' Kurdish administration. It will confiscate the weapons the U.S. has given to the Kurds. All this will take some time but it will, in the end, remove the Turkish concerns that the organized Syrian Kurdish groups could enter Turkey to fight on the side of  their PKK separatist brethren.

The U.S. had more than 1,000 troops in northeast Syria. There were also several hundred French and British special forces and some 2,000 U.S. contractors. They, and a huge amount of equipment, are now moving out. They have nothing to fear from the Syrian forces. Syria is happy to see them leave. (Reports that the U.S.yesterday bombed Syrian troops are false.)

The strategic plan behind last week's development must have come from Moscow. Russia has tried for some time to get Turkey into its camp. Russia, Iran and Syria allowed Turkey a limited invasion of Syria to scare the U.S. out. Russia largely supported the Turkish move but it will also set its limits.

Trump has been looking for a chance to move the U.S. troops out of Syria since December 2018. The borg made that politically unfeasible. The Turkish (Russian) move gave him the excuse he needed.

It is possible that the whole arrangement was made for exactly that purpose.

Posted by b on October 14, 2019 at 12:28 UTC | Permalink

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@ dh 304
Soldiers are not supposed to ask questions.
Yes, if we wanted them to think we would have issued brains (the story goes).
But soldiers sure know how to gripe, and the gripes bear listening to because they come from experiences down there where the rubber meets the road, and not in some headquarters somewhere.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 16 2019 17:28 utc | 301

@305 I don't know how things work in the modern army Don. I'm sure they do a lot of griping but how far up the chain does it go? Not enough to effect government policy I bet.

Posted by: dh | Oct 16 2019 17:34 utc | 302

@306 Or maybe, on reflection, Trump is just the kind of leader who might listen to the grunts. Maybe he even follows their tweets.

Posted by: dh | Oct 16 2019 17:44 utc | 303

Here's how I see this:

A) The Kurds wanted an independent state by grabbing the North of Syria and part of Turkey. That was a PIPE DREAM because no one, not even Israel or the U.S. were going to go up against Turkey, still in Nato btw, to help achieve it.

B) Like the Israelis, Trump would be fine with a Kurdistan to p.o. both Syria and Turkey, but Israel and Zionist Trump are much better with the Turkish plan that stood a chance.: Pushing out the Kurds to make way for millions of anti-Assad refugees to control the North.

C) What Zionist Trump hoped wouldn't happen is for the Kurds to give up their pipe dream and make a deal with Assad.

D) Now that they did, he can justify having thrown them under the bus in favor of the Syrian refugees by pointing out they were not really loyal to begin with. This is what Trump does best; he has no problem using people until THEY BECOME INCONVENIENT. Then he throws them under the bus, and when they naturally turn on him for it, he calls that proof of latent disloyalty all along.

E) Trump is and will always be loyal to only one person, TRUMP, no matter what anyone does for him, no matter their sacrifice.

Remember that as the biggest lesson on understanding Trump.

Despite mild sanctions and bluster, Trump wants Turkey to achieve its goal.

Assad is hoping the Kurds keep their end of the deal.

I'm glad the Kurds came to their senses. Hopefully, they don't turn out to be like Trump, when the U.S. gets a new Administration.

Putin? Not sure what game he's playng. Is it remaining ambiguous to retain plausible deniability with Syria and Iran? However, it kind of ressembles Trump's end game and THAT'S NOT GOOD.

Israel is more fake and conniving pretending to care about the Kurds in case it needs to use them in future.

I totally support U.S. troops out of Syria...Iraq...KSA...but folks, THAT'S NOT WHAT THIS CHARADE IS ABOUT. This is a few troops being relocated to Iraq and SA while Turkey mops up.

Posted by: Circe | Oct 16 2019 18:08 utc | 304

@300 karlof1

What an excellent observation. Indeed the paradigm is changing, and we are witnessing the dawning of a new era - this is true despite the pessimism of some.

And as to confidence and resentment, if we are standing with the sun of a new morning blazing in our faces, it is quite easy to let the dark dreams of the night dissolve. I love the summary quote from the Valdai piece you linked:
"Russia is not angry. Russia is focusing."

I think China has done the same thing in a very internalized way for some decades now.

Posted by: Grieved | Oct 16 2019 18:12 utc | 305

Just for clarification: When I enlisted in the US Army Reserve in 1979, I knew what the constitution said that I swore an oath to defend from enemies foreign and domestic that went thusly:

"I, (state name of enlistee), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

Note the last reference to the UCMJ which defines an illegal order as one a soldier is duty-bound to disobey no matter how high in the chain-of-command its issuance. Having read The Pentagon Papers, The Warren Commission Report, watched most of the Watergate Hearings, and oh so much more, plus being 23, I probably knew a lot more than my fellow enlistees or those enrolled now--but ignorance is no excuse or form of legal defense when it comes to war crimes.

The POTUS ordered all troops in Syria to withdraw. Someone countermanded that order, which fits the description of an illegal order. Why Trump allowed that crime to stand is something he's not been asked.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 16 2019 18:16 utc | 306

Hate to quibble but Trump only ordered troops out of NORTHERN Syria.

"We are not abandoning our Kurdish partner forces and US troops remain with them in other parts of Syria," Esper told reporters at the Pentagon.

Posted by: dh | Oct 16 2019 18:26 utc | 307

karlof1 @300:

The sphere of influence concept is outdated ...

Well, soi is something that we though was an anachronism but it's now making a come-back (as Kissinger predicted back in 2014). For all practical purposes establishing a sphere of influence (and/or limiting the sphere of influence of the SCO Alliance) seems to be the chief concern of US foreign policy today.

... Sanders is more of a nationalist and America Firster than Trump.

"Nationalism" has become a pejorative term. In his recent UN speech, Trump refrained from using that word:

“Looking around and all over this large, magnificent planet, the truth is plain to see,” Trump said. “If you want freedom, take pride in your country. If you want democracy, hold on to your sovereignty. And if you want peace, love your nation.”

It's not Sanders but the entire Democratic Party. Nothing better illustrates this than the adamant defense of Ellen's friendship with GW Bush. No foreign policy disaster or international crime is too great to interfere with American togetherness.

Lastly, I find it difficult to accept that ANY senior politician in America an "America Firster" when they are ALL so completely pro-Empire and pro-Israel. So saying that Sanders is more so than Trump is really just splitting hairs.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Oct 16 2019 18:29 utc | 308

don, jared, dh, karlof1

Being the cynic that I am, when I see an action as described in the soldier's complaint, I immedidately think CIA instead of "Trump is an imbecile".

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Oct 16 2019 18:33 utc | 309

correction @311

forgot the /sarc tag after "... American togetherness."

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Oct 16 2019 18:40 utc | 310

@312 Your cynicism is perfectly justified. Soldier's complaints can be cherry picked and edited ad infinitum.

Posted by: dh | Oct 16 2019 18:51 utc | 311

dh @314

LOL. Well, that true but I was actually thinking the complaint is real but and convincing Kurds to dismantle defenses was CIA back-door support for Turkey.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Oct 16 2019 19:08 utc | 312

242 Uncle T

Absolutely. Well said.
The babble about "autonomous" territories is antithetical to the Syrian reality---and also to the supposed ideas of democracy in the USA.
How's about we separate blacks, whites, and Hispanics into separate "autonomous" areas---we can leave the Irish and Italians in a special Catholic enclave . . .

Yeah, ridiculous. Yet this is the template imposed on Syria by "Democrats" at the Brookings Institution and elsewhere. It is deeply patronizing. Furthermore, its advocates seem to have a more insidious agenda, which is misrepresenting to the world (or perhaps just an ignorant USA audience) what Syria actually is: basically a secular state. As was Iraq.
Why does the "separation of church and state" USA push these types of retrogressive religion-based scenarios on other countries?

Actually, it might be a great idea to segregate Pompea and his weird cult in some out-of-the-way mountainous or desert region of the USA, or park them among the pythons in the Everglades.

Posted by: Really?? | Oct 16 2019 20:04 utc | 313

@Posted by: james | Oct 16 2019 15:54 utc 290
That comment was posted with another device.
All my comments made by my laptop after 27 Sept never saw the light, as my history shows.
After two or so days that way I stopped posting.
If that was the goal intended, mission accomplished. I am not going to comment by mobile phone. Twitting two lines is certainly not my style, I used to link important information that this way gets annoying.

Posted by: Sasha | Oct 16 2019 22:13 utc | 314

In answer to a recurring question: it is looking like the SAA has crossed the Euphrates somewhere near Tabqa, as seen on the Vesti "Special Forces Pepsi fridge" video:

Posted by: DougDiggler | Oct 16 2019 23:21 utc | 315

How's about we separate blacks, whites, and Hispanics into separate "autonomous" areas---we can leave the Irish and Italians in a special Catholic enclave . . .
Posted by: Really?? | Oct 16 2019 20:04 utc | 316

That is a pertinent comparison. Don't forget also the real life example of the partition of India and Pakistan in 1948. 71 years later is the problem solved? Two ultimately nuclear armed states in constant military and political conflict for 71 years, three major wars, persistent skirmishes, and the risk of escalation to nuclear war is very real and a contemporary issue. How many hundreds of thousands were butchered in the racist/anti-religionist pogroms both before and after partition? Then there was the partition of Pakistant into Pakistan and Bangladesh in about 1971 or 1973, also accompanied by full-scale war and the butchering of (tens or hundreds of?) thousands.

All - as far as I know - deliberately and maliciously set up by psychopath war criminal Battenberg and the murderous British as revenge for the non-violent resistance of the Indians to British rule and their ultimate ability to outwit the British.

Almost all of the current problems of the Middle East themselves were pre-configured by the carving up of the former Ottoman Empire by the British and French (Sykes - Picot) - specifically intended to arbitrarily divide ethnic groups and create tensions to facilitate divide and rule - and later Palestine (Balfour Declaration).

Posted by: BM | Oct 17 2019 12:20 utc | 316

In answer to a recurring question: it is looking like the SAA has crossed the Euphrates somewhere near Tabqa
Posted by: DougDiggler | Oct 16 2019 23:21 utc | 316

There is the one remaining bridge across the Euphrates near Tabqa that was not destroyed by the Americans, because it is in the region they controlled. There is also the new bridge in Deir Izzor, but there is some lack of clarity as to its current status: according to an article on Tass it was "completed in recordbreaking 2 days", while an RT (or Sputnik?) article claimed it would be finished by the end of October.

Posted by: BM | Oct 17 2019 12:39 utc | 317

for a very long time, the Kurds have had a semi-autonomous region in eastern Syria.

Posted by: john | Oct 17 2019 16:24 utc | 318

The YPGs didn't need a kick in the ass. They only needed decisive action by Trump which he could have taken months, even years, ago. As soon as he signaled this decision, the YPGs were well prepared to coordinate defense of their territory with the Syrian state instead; otherwise, this coordination could have not have occurred in a matter of days, even hours. Why wouldn't the YPGs, and the Syrian state as well, accept U.S. resources to fight militias that the U.S. itself initially armed and that both the YPGs and the SAA oppose for as long as the U.S. provided the resources? Why would the YPGs not be ready to turn on a dime when the U.S. impotently pulls out? Thanks for the aid, Donald. Don't bump your head on your way out.

Posted by: Martin Brock | Oct 23 2019 2:04 utc | 319

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