Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 10, 2020

Syria - Turkey Invades Idleb But Its Bluff Will Be Called

Since last week's post on the Syrian Idleb campaign the Syrian army has made significant progress.

Idleb governorate Feb 3 2020


Saraqib, Al Eis and dozens of other cities and towns were liberated. Large parts of the M5 highway in Idleb are now under Syrian government control.

Idleb governorate Feb 10 2020


The aim of the current campaign is to regain control over the M5 highway between Damascus and Aleppo city and the M4 highway between Latakia and Aleppo. These highways are of importance for the revival of Syria's economy.

It was originally Turkey's task to guarantee free civilian traffic on both highways. The Sochi Memorandum of Understanding (pdf) between Turkey and Russia, signed on September 17 2018, provides (machine translated):

3. A demilitarized zone with a depth of 15-20 km will be created in the de-escalation zone.

4. The specific passage of the lines defining the demilitarized zone will be agreed upon in the course of further consultations.

5. All radical terrorist groups will be withdrawn from the demilitarized zone by October 15, 2018.

6. All tanks, artillery, MLRS and mortars of the conflicting parties will be withdrawn from the demilitarized zone by October 10, 2018.

7. The Armed Forces of the Republic of Turkey and the military police of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation will carry out coordinated patrols and monitoring using unmanned aerial vehicles in the demilitarized zone.

8. In the interests of ensuring free movement of local residents and goods, as well as restoring trade and economic ties, transit traffic along the routes M4 (Aleppo-Latakia) and M5 (Aleppo-Hama) will be restored before the end of 2018.

None of these points were ever fulfilled by Turkey.

Idleb is still under control of the al-Qaeda aligned Hayat Tahrir al Shams (HTS) which has continued to attack Syrian government positions as well as civilian targets. HTS is internationally recognized as a terrorist organization, including by Turkey. But Turkey has done nothing to remove it. It instead provides the organization with weapons and other supplies.

The reaction of Turkey's wannabe Sultan Erdogan to the Syrian army campaign has been hysterical. He threatened several times that he would militarily intervene if the Syrian army operation does not stop. Over the last days more than 1,450 Turkish military vehicles, including tanks, heavy artillery and armored infantry vehicles, invaded the terrorist held Idleb area.

Turkey says that these are just reinforcements for its 'observer posts'. But in reality these forces are configured to attack the Syrian army. One Turkish artillery groups tried to set up a position at the former Syrian military airbase Taftanaz north of Saraqib. Earlier today it came under Syrian artillery fire. At least six Turkish soldiers were killed and several wounded. A Turkish helicopter was allowed to come in to evacuate the casualties.

Turkish and Russian 'observation points'

Source: ISWnews - bigger

The Turkish military claimed that it retaliated for the attack:

The Turkish army responded to the targets determined in the region, said the statement.

“The necessary response was given, the targets were destroyed and the blood of our martyrs was not left on the ground. The developments are being closely monitored and necessary measures are being taken,” said the statement.

There is no evidence that any such retaliation has taken place.

Turkey demands that the Syrian army retreats back to the lines where its current campaign started months ago.

That is not going to happen.

Today, while the Turkish army settled among the terrorist, HTS sent two suicide vehicles against the Syrian lines. It is not yet known if they caused casualties. If the Turkish army wants to be the bodyguard of such terrorist it will be handled appropriately.

The Russian and Syrian air forces are in control of the airspace over Idleb. Russian war ships are deployed near the coast of Syria and are ready to launch their cruise missiles. Russia can reinforce its airforce in Syria within 24 hours. Turkey's airforce is not able to change that picture.

After the 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan nearly three quarters of Turkey's  airforce pilots were dismissed. The maintenance status of Turkey's 240 F-16 fighter jets is dubious. It is estimated that less of a quarter of them are ready to fly. The F-16s are no match for the Russian Su-34 jets which cover Syria. They also lack the capabilities to overcome the Russian air defenses. Then there is also Russia's economic leverage over Turkey.

Over the last few days there have been intense talks between the Russian and the Turkish side. The Russians are not budging. Syria will liberate the two highways that Turkey promised would be opened under the Sochi MoU. Should the Turkish army try to prevent that it will be bombed to high heaven.

Erdogan can not risk a war with Russia in Syria. He is bluffing and his bluff will be called.

Posted by b on February 10, 2020 at 17:56 UTC | Permalink

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Posted by: J Swift | Feb 11 2020 12:04 utc | 99

You started well but got lost in the process. Yes Turkey was willing to do the bidding of the West as long as it benefited their own national interests. What are Turkey's national interests in Syria ? Extermination of the Kurds and a weak puppet Syrian state which Turkey can control. If all fails than some land grabbing.

After the entry of Russia in the Syrian war, Erdogan's terrorists started to lose ground. Now Turkey had to escalate the problem to save the project from impending defeat. He shot down the Russian aircraft hoping that NATO will get involved. However NATO did not and at that point Turkey was no longer willing to do the West's bidding in Syria because Turkey's national interests in Syria could no longer be served by the West.

From this point on Turkey decided that its national interests in Syria could be better served by working together with Russia and Iran. If a complete victory was no longer possible at least it wanted to have a say in the post war Syrian state, with its military occupation of various parts of the Syrian territory. Turkey was willing to give them back if it was allowed to co-decide the future of the Syrian state together with Russia and Iran. Additionally Turkey demanded that the Kurds in Syria be expelled from the border and kept under tight control.

Posted by: redrooster | Feb 11 2020 13:22 utc | 101

Jihadists attacking Syria in new uniforms.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 11 2020 13:39 utc | 102

Well well, now that Erdogan has flooded Idlib with a tanks, etc., while blowing off Russian negotiators, Putin is reportedly ready to talk! Putin has a lovely way of waiting until a fait accomplis is in place to begin 'negotiations'. All that remains is for ole Poot to make some of those generous concessions he likes to make with other nations' sovereignty...

Posted by: paul | Feb 11 2020 13:49 utc | 103

Posted by: redrooster | Feb 11 2020 13:22 utc | 101

Russia and Iran were willing to compromise and play along as long as that kept the West off their backs. Today that "deal" or compromise if you will is no longer valid and the Syrian government resumes the campaign of liberating Syria from the terrorists and turkish occupied areas.

What broke that deal ? I don't know with certainty but i suspect it has to do with the kurdish question. After the Kurds were abandoned by the USA it is seems that some kind of reconciliation between the Syrian government and the Kurds is possible. That makes whatever Turkey has to offer on the table completely worthless.

What will be Turkey's response to the renewed impending defeat in Syria? Escalation again. More turkish troops, weapons for the terrorists (maybe even anti-aircraft!) and begging the West to reconsider. The alternative would be a complete turkish retreat from Syria.

Posted by: redrooster | Feb 11 2020 13:59 utc | 104

Posted by: redrooster | Feb 11 2020 13:22 utc

Turkey's national interest is to dump its products and invest in Arab countries. As the European market is overcrowded, Turkey badly needs to take advantage of rich but less industrialized Arab countries to buy its products and services. That was the aim before 2011. Turkey massively dumped its products in Syria hampering the industrial growth of Syria. It was one the factors that created the 'rebellion' against the Syrian government.
Turkey influenced by the USA who was then enthused by the Moslem Brotherhood as the proper 'democratic' ideology for the region promoted by Qatar, decided to help replacing the non-sunni and pro-Iranian leader in Syria by a Sunni Moslem Brotherhood adept. Naively all Sunni Arab countries jumped in, totally subjugated by the perspective of weakening Iran and the Shia menace. They funded just any Sunni fighters ready to participate in this proxy war on Iran and Shias. Islamist terrorists came from all over the world for this 'holy war'. Of course Israel was ecstatic and joined in. Massacres after massacres, the war became monstruous and out of control.

Many countries woke up to the reality. Saudi Arabia did not agree with a Moslem Brotherhood take over of the region and start to fund wahhabi fighters to eliminate both the Moslen brotherhood fighters and the Shia fighters coming from Lebanon and Iran. Qatar, sympathetic to the MB funded Turkey and Syrians rebels. It became a mess.
Fortunately Syria had strong links with Iran and Russia and they came to its rescue. The whole picture changed.
Thanks to Erdogan's megalomania and dirty games, Turkey is not hated by most Arab countries. Unless he is removed Turkey will never be trusted. That may come because Turkish economy is ailing and the Turks trust for Erdogan is weakening. A war in Syria, if it escalates, will create a tremor in Turkey and Erdogan's position may be shaken. Will he fall?

Posted by: Virgile | Feb 11 2020 14:18 utc | 105

Have to admit, I'm a bit surprised by B.'s confidence in his conclusion that Turkey is bluffing, and will turn tail. First, because Erdogan appears erratic; second because by so publicly shipping assets in, he has made it much harder to de-escalate than if he had chosen another tactic.

Posted by: Paul Damascene | Feb 11 2020 14:40 utc | 106

Reports of a failed oppo attack on SAA positions in Nayrab near Saraqeb. As per pro-gov sources attack either repelled or batlle ongoing.

Reports of new airstrikes on TAF Post near Idlib, another slice on the escalation ladder in response to the SAA chopper downing.

Suspicions are steadily arising that if the Turks continue to misbehave, they may see their supply route to Reyhanli (Turkey proper) cut off, which may seal the fate of Erdogan's misadventure and become the Mother of all cauldrons in the 'Cauldrons for dummies', vol. N, of the Rus Mod. Without re-supply, they are toast.

We'll see in the next few days.

Posted by: BG | Feb 11 2020 14:51 utc | 107

Well well, now that Erdogan has flooded Idlib with a tanks, etc., while blowing off Russian negotiators, Putin is reportedly ready to talk! Putin has a lovely way of waiting until a fait accomplis is in place to begin 'negotiations'. All that remains is for ole Poot to make some of those generous concessions he likes to make with other nations' sovereignty...

Posted by: paul | Feb 11 2020 13:49 utc | 103

Tanks do not kill people, people do. There were two reports of Turkish tanks in action:

Attack on Nairab, a village on M4 (Latakiya-Saraqib highway, joining M5 at Saraqib), which inflicted some losses and was cut to pieces. The neighboring village Qminas (lots of transliterations) is being bombed, complete with tanks and Turks (or jihadists dressed like Turks).

A column that aims to relieve Atarib. That requires a bit of explanation: today SAA completed control of the line of hills that dominate the eastern part of the plain between southern suburbs of Aleppo and Idlib, the last is Kafr Noran (on the north-west end) became "friend" today. Atarib is due north from Kafr Noran and was "emptied" by airstrikes. The direction onto Atarib suggest a plan to cut the jihadist territory into two pieces: in western Aleppo and in Idlib, the the former detached from Turkish supplies.

Besides Kafr Noran, SAA advanced a bit near Ma'arat Numan, thickening the protection of M5, and more notably, completed the control of the east side of M5, taking over urban Rashidin 4 that seemed like a hard target full of trenches and tunnels and some flatter country. 12 kilometers of M5 still lack any SAA control on the west side.

Idlib is the place were all jihadist rejecting "reconciliation deals" were bused to together with their families, but that was two or more years ago. Lack of perspectives, infighting, numerous distractions like the Turkish zones alone Turkish border and Libya, seemed to have taken their toll, their numbers are depleted and the fighting spirit is not like 2-4 years ago. A column of tanks will not make a huge difference, especially against the experienced opponent that coordinates well with air support.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 11 2020 14:59 utc | 108

Turkey has become a proxy of Israel/USA, hence Russia will not attack Turkey.

Posted by: RobvC | Feb 11 2020 15:32 utc | 109

Turkish armor will never be of genuine consequence unless Russia and Syria relinquish control of the skies.

Posted by: zakukommander | Feb 11 2020 15:43 utc | 110

@ pppp | Feb 11 2020 11:15 utc | 95

I think you failed to understand the very important sentence that is repeated several times in that book.

the United States has a single core policy in Eurasia—preventing any power from dominating Eurasia or part of it

What part of "categorical imperative" that I wrote did you evidently not understand?

Anyway, your material objections make no sense. The Uygur issue is going nowhere, as the Dalai Lama project has. The "trade war" is a bunch of smoke that ole tweetio loves to blow in your eyes. The real war is about tech dominance and in spite of the Huawei related aggressions, the US is set to lose its edge there soon. Look into the pressure that is being applied to ASML for more insight into how nervous the USA is getting.

There is no "3 to 5 years behind schedule", the American Express is off the rails. Not only are competitor states overtaking it, the US is regressing actively. Trump sold his presidency on a promise to reverse that trend, but it turns out to have been just another fine con job. He has great experience with that! The best!!

Regarding Poland, I estimate that you are an American, not European. Because if you were European, you'd know a little better than to unquestioningly accept Friedman's laughable fantasies about Polish-run empires. Your assumptions about the USA assigning imperial grandeur to Poland speaks more of the subservient tendencies of Poles than their ability to form an independent empire. No need to start blaming the jews for anything here, btw.

Posted by: Lurk | Feb 11 2020 15:59 utc | 111

It's all Kabuki theater.
The "skirmishes" will expand in a regional war.
Mossad promissed Putin some Greece (they already got Syria curved up) in exchange to let them own island of Crete and Salonica city in the north, then invite next Turkish government in and share it between Israel, Turkey, Russia, US. Mossad can then run their ambitious cyber governance project currently disguised as EastMed pipeline project, US will keep their bases, Turkey will get some islands to drill and Germans will get to kick the can down the road for their EU dissolution date. Startup for the Yinon project. Delivering the tech and the resources (control nodes) for a Global control grid to the few corporations that want to run the planet.

It will backfire.
Every jewish plan for world domination kept backfiring since their inception and ended up in a pogrom. What is different this time?

Posted by: Qparticle | Feb 11 2020 16:04 utc | 112

While speculation about Erdogan "turning back" to USA-Israel is rampant, let me quickly add that some of us were always suspicious that Erdogan had not "turned East" as so many anti-Empire commenters ardently hoped for.

Erdogan's Islamist orientation made him a willing participant in Syrian regime change and he has maintained his Assad must go! stance all along.

More cynical observers never expected Erdogan to hold up his part of the Idlib agreement, and saw the Turk-USA-SDF realignment in Northeast Syria as something well-planned by USA-Turkey - and very much against the interest of Russia-Syria.

Cynics also objected to the "The War is Over!" meme. It's still going on, only in a different form. The goal is to strangle the Syrian economy and demoralize Syrian forces.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 11 2020 16:04 utc | 113

@ AnneR | Feb 11 2020 12:26 utc | 100

Dear AnneR,

Honey, did I just step on your Social Justice Jihad Trigger Button?

You did not reference me expicitly in you passive-aggressive diatribe against intolerance to honorable and pious muslim worker classes. To be honest, I could not find in my writings anything resembling the intransigencies to you so valiantly and proudly oppose. But I reread the thread studiously and concluded that no other commenter could be the focus of your most noble wrath, especially since b does not seem to have deleted any comments between mine and yours being posted.

AnneR, I appreciate your desire to appear as a blessed do-gooder, but in order to be truly worthy of universal admiration as a savior of the downtrodden masses, it is somewhat important to not be seen through as a rambling fool with a lot of tunnel vision and little attention for such silly little details as, say facts.

Really, none of your accusations apply to my words. If you beg to differ, then please do so with properly annotated references. I hope that is not asking to much of you getting into that despiccable western university vibe. That would bring priviledge into the debate and totally invalidate any conclusion, regardless of any logical or factual merit. I understand.

In case you my argument bothersome and annoying, I wish you much joy and pleasure reading Turkish reactions on social media regarding the ongoing proceedings in Idlib. Truly enlightening.

Yours faithfully,


Posted by: Lurk | Feb 11 2020 16:26 utc | 114

@ Qparticle | Feb 11 2020 16:04 utc | 112


You're supposed to post these kinds of 3.1415-D chess analyses on 4chan, not on MoA.

Good luck there!

Posted by: Lurk | Feb 11 2020 16:29 utc | 115

Lurk | Feb 11 2020 16:26 utc | 114

Her comment was not that much annoying that she would deserve this cruel punishment:

„In case you my argument bothersome and annoying, I wish you much joy and pleasure reading Turkish reactions on social media regarding the ongoing proceedings in Idlib.“

AKP-Trolls on social media are scum only.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 11 2020 16:37 utc | 116

@ Jackrabbit | Feb 11 2020 16:04 utc | 113

Cynics also objected to the "The War is Over!" meme. It's still going on, only in a different form. The goal is to strangle the Syrian economy and demoralize Syrian forces.

Yes. For even when every northern inch of Syria is back in Syrian hands, there would still be left a lot of inches on the Golan to go. And a battle hardened and motivated Syrian army. They do remember the role that Israel has played in their predicament. And regardless of Bibi and Donny's bluster, the Golan is still rightfully theirs. They want it back...

Posted by: Lurk | Feb 11 2020 16:37 utc | 117

@ Hausmeister | Feb 11 2020 16:37 utc | 116

AKP-Trolls on social media are scum only.

But but, that rayciss!

Seriously though, don't do injustice to the Grey Wolves and other Turanists. They try at least as hard as the diehard AKP nutters.

Posted by: Lurk | Feb 11 2020 16:42 utc | 118

Lurk @ 111

the American Express is off the rails

Which part of: we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran is off the rails ?

I estimate that you are an American ....
You are wrong with this and with other statements.

Posted by: pppp | Feb 11 2020 16:43 utc | 119

@ pppp | Feb 11 2020 16:43 utc | 119

Pushing other, less powerful nations off the rails isn't going to put the USA back onto the rails.

But anyway, nine of that relates to my original observation that Friedman's fantasies are just that, fantasies. And quite ridiculous at that. But hey, if the John pays for that, the madam will deliver it. The publication of Friedman's book only makes it a bit more exhibitionistic than the usual prostitute business.

Evidently the USA has not been able to push Russia and China off the rails. Iran doesn't seem to be working so well either.

Friedman's fantasies about the Turkish space force are worthy of Baron Munchhausen.

Posted by: Lurk | Feb 11 2020 16:58 utc | 120

NATO backs Turkey's Actions in Idlib

Live Updates: Turkey Vows More Action Against Damascus After Syrian Helicopter Downed Over Idlib

Tensions in northern Syria are escalating as Turkish and Syrian forces continue to clash in Idlib province – the last stronghold of jihadists in the war-torn country.
The Turkish Defence Ministry said on Tuesday that a Syrian Arab Army helicopter had been downed and that Syrian forces had to leave the village of al-Nayrab in Idlib province.

The Syrian Army later confirmed that it left the village for a short period of time due to the surprise attack; however, according to recent reports, government forces have recaptured al-Nayrab, pushing out rebels linked to [.]

Posted by: Likklemore | Feb 11 2020 17:04 utc | 121

nato backs turkey and turkey backs the headchoppers.. nice 1, 2 there...

"The Syrian Arab Army’s 25th Special Mission Forces Division (formerly Tiger Forces) captured Saraqib during a short operation along the Aleppo-Damascus Highway (M-5).

Since then, the Turkish Armed Forces have stepped up their support to the jihadist rebels to prevent the Syrian Army from retaking the Aleppo-Damascus Highway."

Posted by: james | Feb 11 2020 17:08 utc | 122

The only source in Google News that gives some idea what is going on: Bloomberg News (unlike Reuters).

Turkey’s increasing military foray into Idlib is adding to the nation’s geopolitical risks, increasing pressure on markets.

Turkish stocks and bonds plunged following reports of new Turkish fatalities on Monday. The benchmark Borsa Istanbul 100 Index closed down 2.2% on Monday, its biggest drop since October, and declined a further 0.5% Tuesday. The yield on 10-year government bonds surged 60 basis points to 11.27% in two days. The lira weakened 0.6% against the dollar on Tuesday, even after authorities curbed liquidity in the offshore market this week to deter short sellers.
The reprisal that followed struck three Syrian tanks, two artillery units and a military helicopter, and dozens of pro-Assad troops may have been killed, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said. It’s impossible to independently confirm casualties in Syria’s complex civil war. [So the words of the President of Turkey are not enough? A gentle reminder that it may be so]
Syria and its foreign backers have come close to Idlib’s center as they take control of strategic highways, and are now poised to vanquish an opposition force made up of onetime al-Qaeda affiliates and Turkey-backed rebels.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 11 2020 17:23 utc | 123

james @122

james is one of those who has always been skeptical of Erdogan.



Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 11 2020 17:29 utc | 124

J.Swift @99:

Cool diagnosis of the possible intricacies re: Turkeys playing eleventeen sides of the fences.
Based on all the various informational noise being spread all over the place it's quite difficult to tell. Given what is available, it seems like a last gasp to try to fortify jihadi proxy forces in the face of being overrun. Perhaps there are backroom conversations going on, that sure would explain a lot. Militarily, Turkish forces in Syria ought to be given a solid beating and the remainder sent north. I realize moderation has been the SOP as far as the Idlib liberation operations up until now, but taking convoys of armor, helos shot out of the sky, and uniform swapping cannot be allowed to go unanswered. Wiggle room simply does not work when dealing with certain types of operators. They will take a mile if they can.

The semi-enclosed cauldron strategy is brilliant for pushing the proxy forces even northward whilst minimalizing civiial casualties. Keeping the economics game in the forefront is also essential. The push and pull should cease when it comes to these blatant incursions and obvious collusion with moderate headchoppers. The turks have been given formal request that have agreed to and plenty of time to fulfill them. They haven't even made a decent attempts. So like a disobedient and sneaky child they must face the consequences or be left to continue their sabotage.

"Your observation post is in direct violation to our sovereignty, you have 24 hrs to leave the area"
Cue the kalibre strike followed up with SU-34 guided munitions and all of a sudden Erdo or whoever will take the SAA seriously.
Much like the armored column that was struck, add a couple more lethal strikes on weapons arriving from Turkey.
They listen to force. Make sure they hear it loud and clear.

Posted by: Chevrus | Feb 11 2020 17:46 utc | 125

Yeah, Putin's talking via RuAF attacks. The introduction by the Turks of ManPads crosses one of Putin's Red Lines and the response so far is devastating. If you're on the wrong side of the FEBA (Forward Edge of the Battle Area), then you're going to be targeted regardless of the patch on your uniform. Twitter's alive with numerous reports of RuAF strikes hitting areas where Turkish troops are known to be mingled with the terrorists they're supporting. Reports from Turkey are not favorable for Erdogan regarding Army attitude and lack of civilian support. Another problem for Turks is weather as the rain and snow force their convoys to use only the best roads and those are being cutoff at a significant clip. Pics showing Turk APCs festooned with Terrorist flags make all Turk vehicles fair targets for RuAF & SyAF. Remember the task to separate the terrorists Turkey never accomplished; now they're feeling the results of that big mistake. Pompeo again provides verbal support for his Terrorist Foreign Legion and its NATO helpers.

I find this sort of response rather pathetic:

"Erdogan needs to review ties with #Russia after #Moscow-backed #Syrian troops killed at least 12 #Turkish soldiers this month, said #DevletBahceli, a key ally of the #Turkish leader."

No, what needs to be done is review the sanity of being allied with Terrorists and having your troops intermixed with them thus making them fair targets. Dolts!!

Posted by: karlof1 | Feb 11 2020 17:48 utc | 126

"Facts on the ground" are changing rapidly. SAA now controls the entire M5 highway, according to DW. No wonder Erdy is thumping his chest and growling.

Assad forces retake key Syrian highway

Posted by: Trailer Trash | Feb 11 2020 18:16 utc | 127

SAA secures entire M-5 highway. It continues to be cold with occasional snow in the region. The ground's too soft in many areas for heavy vehicles, so the road net is getting lots of attention from spotter drones for AF and artillery. SAA has initiative and high morale. The relatively easy clearing of the urban areas West of Aleppo are a proxy for the weakening of overall terrorist resistance. I still await a push from the South, but that's likely awaiting better weather.

Russia's response to Outlaw US Empire complaints about Idlib being a humanitarian crisis were brutal:

"The Foreign Ministry minced no words when replying to the US criticism of Moscow’s actions. 'When the US and their allies presumably fought against terrorists in the notheast of Syria and literally leveled to the ground entire cities such as Raqqa, Hajin and Baghouz, no one spoke about a national cease-fire or truce. Having failed to defeat the Islamic State and finding any other good pretext for its unlawful presence in Syria, the Americans are shamelessly looting Syria by trading its natural resources,' the ministry said.

"The ministry added, 'The Americans themselves struck Idlib on a few occasions under the pretext of fighting terrorists, including the elimination of [Islamic State leader] Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The question is then: Who does Washington think controls Idlib — terrorists or the moderate opposition led by al-Qaeda warlords?'"

Turkey stands with the terrorists; the Outlaw US Empire stands with Turkey; therefore, the Outlaw US Empire stands with the terrorists--its Foreign Legion. Sanders aims to alter that formula.

Posted by: karlof1 | Feb 11 2020 18:29 utc | 128

Lurk | Feb 11 2020 16:29 utc | 115

Sorry for the late response. I was bussy reading about the CERN OPERA experiment detecting particles up to 300(times)x300000(constant speed of light) km/s= (resulting in) particles traveling up to 90000000 km/s.
That later had to "revise" with another experiment named ICARUS "admiting" false measurements because of a faulty fiber cable connection to a GPS computer card. Yet still it was too much. Computer card might have traveled in time to produce such results.

What's in a name though? Do quantum physics offend you?
Al-Khalili, J. (18 November 2011). "Faster than the speed of light?"">">

Although this belongs in off topic, considering the situation in Turkey.
HOWEVER: The whole ball got rolling after an extraordinary event that happened in Turkey that also produced videos and much heated discusion and was running unchecked through the not so easy to control social media back then and became global. It was all downhill from then. Social revolutions, global financial crises, climate crisis etc.

P.S. I don't visit sites you mentioned.

Posted by: Qparticle | Feb 11 2020 19:10 utc | 129

Turkey is bluffing? They are occoupying and killing syrians every day. That is their goal. Remember what the US did onto Syria past years? Being under attack and occupation do not mean you are winning or that the war is over as some people have claimed here for years.
Russia going to war in Syria with Turkey? Nonsense. Turkey of course do not seek war with Russia and nor is Russia. Where did you get that notion from?

Posted by: Zanon | Feb 11 2020 19:22 utc | 130

If you asked me about:

Russia going to war (in Syria) with Turkey.
If you exclude the () part, right from Putin's mouth.
Athens visit, 2016.

Posted by: Qparticle | Feb 11 2020 19:38 utc | 131

Turkey to announce new steps against Syrian regime tommorow, Erdoğan says

Erdogan will meet US envoy tommorow and on top of that NATO is backing him.

Syria should move the S300 to that region asap. Just today Turkey targeted 51 sites in Syria.

Posted by: Zanon | Feb 11 2020 19:41 utc | 132

Zanon | Feb 11 2020 19:41 utc | 132

"Just today Turkey targeted 51 sites in Syria."
How do you know that? From official media within Turkey? In this particular moment, when E. has to swindle away from a defeat, one should take such sources with a kilogram of salt.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 11 2020 19:47 utc | 133

The Z-Q Particle Matrix
--------------Sound the alarm!
NATO backing! Hundreds dead! Fear-Uncertaintly-Doubt!! (FUD)
Cue the wailing, oooh the humnitarian crisis, the jihadi proxies are getting mopped up!
Honestly, at time I think the involved parties should just shut up & put up, but then the is WW3-4 to consider sooooooo....

Posted by: Chervus | Feb 11 2020 19:56 utc | 134


"How do you know that? From official media within Turkey? "

Syrians themselves,

Army General Command: Turkish attacks will not succeed in protecting terrorism or halting army operations in Idleb and west of Aleppo

Turkish occupation and its mercenaries fire shells on villages in Hasaka northern countryside

Posted by: Zanon | Feb 11 2020 19:59 utc | 135

Zanon | Feb 11 2020 19:59 utc | 135

But these are rather general statements that do not verify the Turkish claims. For persons living there, having no easy access to independent media, the most easy thing is to compare the maps day by day. The result then is compelling. Since quite some time all E. can do is to talk about "Frontbegradigung" (a word common in German radio 1943-1945). People in Turkey realize that, of course.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 11 2020 20:08 utc | 136


The links verify that Turkey have attacked Syria. I dont think SAA care if Turkey attacked 1 or 18 or 51 times. 1 single attack is an an act of war.

Posted by: Zanon | Feb 11 2020 20:19 utc | 137

@Jackrabbit | 113
Well said. The very idea that Turkey's allegiances are so binary is in itself absurd, anyway! What we saw at first was a managed and protracted leveraging over Turkey played out by Russia to ensure Turkey;s compliance in Syria - sanctions were lifted over a period of years each on a performance basis. (Interestingly the West now attributes Turkey;s turn to the 'coup' not the Russian sacntions and I can only think this is because the West is simply appauled that Russia made sanctions work so very successfully! But the coup was of course just one result of the process not the beginning of it.) Russians sanctions were so well targetted that they must have required serious and farily detailed preparation but that fits very well with the claims that Putin and his teams are capable of working at impressive pace.

What is interesting is that Russia's leverage over Turkey as regards Syria at times forced and at others allowed Turkey to move in ways it would not otherwise have been able to. TurkStream / Akkuyu / S-400 / reduction of NATO military influence and massively enhanced direct control over the military/ rightly purusing ambitions in EuroAsia/ totally undermining the "Kuridsh Plan"/ increased authoriatianims domestically etc. These allow Turkey to 'be its own man' so-to-speak to which was not possible previously when it was for most of the time a Western vassal. To Turks this is incredibly important as a source of national(ist) pride and bolsters Erdogan still despite the economy being in the pan.

What brings all that crashing down is the rabid egomania of its leader whose ambitions are personal and intended to resonate for a least the folowing century! He is unforgiving and aggressive to an extent that could lead Turkey into direct, not just proxy, war. When that happens Turkey will find itself alone or maybe even partitioned.

Posted by: Egor68500 | Feb 11 2020 20:29 utc | 138

Zanon | Feb 11 2020 20:19 utc | 137

So true. But they do this since very long. Who in particular attacked is difficult or impossible to identify. And they put a lot of detail work to hide the borderline between actors of the Turkish state and these "non-official" head choppers to be sure to access plausible deniability. Their main target seems to be to camouflage their defeat for their domestic audience. The main tool still is to compare the maps day by day.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 11 2020 20:34 utc | 139

@Zanon | 132
interestingly the NATO rep mentioned nothing about Turkish attacks the other day or today but openly said it regrets the Syrian 'regime's' attacks against Turkish forces. Not one foreign official that I have found has come out and openly corroborated the attacks that Turkey claims is has made.
So, be very careful with Turkish disinformation. For years now there has been a very dodgy daily tally of 'X number of PKK eliminated' when there has been no corroboration whatsoever. It seems the same game is now being played with 'Syrian targets'.

Posted by: Egor68500 | Feb 11 2020 20:38 utc | 140

@Hausmeister | 139
"Their main target seems to be to camouflage their defeat for their domestic audience. The main tool still is to compare the maps day by day."
Fully agree. But there is also a strong drive to 'find dimplomatic solutions' meaning that they want to rewrite agreements somehow... Other than refugees, can't think what bargaining tool they have or is NATO going to enter the fray?
We'll see tomorrow, maybe.

Posted by: Egor68500 | Feb 11 2020 20:42 utc | 141

Relating to syria.liveuamap there are by now 6 turkish observation posts surrounded by the Syrian Armed Forces. These posts are rather small and surely not equipped to operate autonomously concerning supply of water, food, electricity, fuel and so on. Some of them are besieged since weeks.
I wonder how they are being supplied now, in a stage of siege. There must be some kind of agreement between Turkey and Syria but i dont see any tweets about Turkish helicopters dropping supplies or escorted trucks.

For sure just a side-note but might shed a little light on the day-to-day problems of this conflict.

Posted by: AUrbanite | Feb 11 2020 20:51 utc | 142

Zanon @ 135:

The first SANA article you linked to refers to a general announcement by the Syrian military warning Ankara that it will not be dissuaded from liberating Idlib and the remaining parts of Aleppo province in NW Syria by the Turkish military or Turkey's jihadi proxies, no matter where they are operating in northern Syria. Hausmeister already noted the general nature of the announcement.

The second SANA article you linked to refers to Turkish attacks in the area of Hasakah, in NE Syria. At present this is Kurdish-held territory. The Syrian Arab Army is not fighting the Turks or their jihadi allies there at present.

Please check these and any other news articles you wish to quote before linking to them and posting your comment, else you will be embarrassed again when someone points out your errors.

As Hausmeister and Egor68500 note, the Turkish government and mainstream news media in Turkey are pushing propaganda to distract public attention away from the country's economic problems and avert unrest in the form of mass public protests.

Posted by: Jen | Feb 11 2020 21:24 utc | 143

@124 jackrabbit... thanks.. at this point it seems erdogan is between a rock and a hard place.. it is not clear to me what his game plan is here, but shipping some of the headchoppers to libya was a start... he fucked up and he is worried about having to pay for it with headchoppers returning to turkey and causing some mayhem... meanwhile he hopes to remain in the good graces of the west... hard to know how he extricates himself from this.. i think he is working on the pr for the home crowd, but many will see it for what it is - a sell out of his headchopper army here..

Posted by: james | Feb 11 2020 21:30 utc | 144

@ AUrbanite | Feb 11 2020 20:51 utc | 142

Every Turkish OP, once effectively besieged by the Syrian army, is then "guarded" by Russian military police units. Presumably, the Russian will then also provide basic necessities.

@ Zanon

As Jen already states, the Turkish artillery shellings have been aimed at areas in Northeastern Syria, where there are no SAA units present, only Kurdish ones. This way, Erdogan can truthfully claim in the Turkish media to have attacked Syrian sites (and they won't be asking difficult questions.) Interestingly, it does imply a Turkish agreement that these are, and should be, Syrian territories, not Kurdish or Turkish.

Posted by: Lurk | Feb 11 2020 21:43 utc | 145

Turkey is a key part of the Middle East / Mediterranean "game". Turkey being somewhat allied to Russia, China & Iran improves the tactical position of those countries immeasurably. If Turkey falls back into line (perhaps with the permanent "removal" of Erdogan) with the West/NATO then, in any conventional type conflict, Russia is contained, Iran surrounded and China reaches the end of the line for an important part of OBOR.

Even the (assumed) unwelcome intervention of Turkey in Libya benefits Russia's position in the Mediterranean because Russia becomes more important diplomatically and is no longer in as much risk of having the Aegean Sea closed off to it's Navy; the Greek betrayal of it's historical friendship with Russia and agreeing to accommodate the US military meant that the Aegean Sea could be closed off at anytime [the Russian Navy would be unable to leave the Black Sea]. Now Russia has an ally in this regard as Turkey has long objected to bring cut out of the Aegean.

Strategically, Turkey is very important to Russia and a lot of this is down to Erdogan. Russia therefore needs to avoid a serious conflict with Turkey. Turkey is bluffing? Hopefully, yes but Russia is also "restrained" in engaging in a direct major escalation with Turkey. It would pay Russia not to humiliate Erdogan.

Posted by: ADKC | Feb 11 2020 22:14 utc | 146

@ 146 adkc.. good comments... indeed if the usa can muck up the relationship between russia and turkey, it will do so.. but erdogan is quite capable of messing it up on his own is how i see it.. a lot hinges on erdogan here... even if he was assassinated, i can't see it working out for the west here, but i could be wrong.. meanwhile turkey plays both sides as best as possible, but it is not possible endlessly and we are nearing the end game here..

Posted by: james | Feb 11 2020 22:56 utc | 147

@102 Piotr, yes jihadissaries ;) Turkey knows so well how to use foreigners as its cannon fodder..

Posted by: Lozion | Feb 11 2020 23:10 utc | 148

Little Sultan boy is getting his just deserts. What a POS to try to act as traitor against the Syrian people and Russia. Foolish Erdogan. His ottoman empire will remain a dream

Posted by: Annie | Feb 11 2020 23:28 utc | 149

Over the last days more than 1,450 Turkish military vehicles, including tanks, heavy artillery and armored infantry vehicles, invaded the terrorist held Idleb area.

Fair, impartial, objective international law.

Israel regularly strikes on Syria (often violating Lebanese airspace)... - everything is allright. Hysterical cries about Israeli aggression, sanctions against Israel? You must be kidding.

Turkey conducts military campaigns in the territory of another sovereign country - Syria (without asking permission from Syria itself), bringing about 1,500 units of military equipment into Syria... - everything is allright. Hysterical cries about Turkish aggression, sanctions against Turkey? You must be kidding.

The United States, having been illegally in Syria for many years, directly occupying its territory, is seizing Syrian oil fields, stealing oil, and bringing additional troops to "protect" the oil fields... - everything is allright. Hysterical cries about American aggression, sanctions against the United States? You must be kidding.

I imagine if Russia really started a military campaign, for example, against the Ukrainian Nazis and sent its troops to the Donbass, brought there 1,500 units of military equipment, began to equip “observation posts”, launched strikes against the Ukrainian army, etc. The reaction of the world media, politicians, experts, journalists is obvious - frantic tantrum with foam at the mouth and heart-rending cries of "Russian aggression", calls for sanctions (although, can there be even more?), "urgent convocations" of the UN Security Council etc.

Fair, impartial, objective international law.

Posted by: alaff | Feb 11 2020 23:48 utc | 150

james @147

Erdogan makes a difference. He is not wanted by what could be termed the Turkish "deep state" who are much more comfortable in the West's pocket.

Long before the attempted coup in 2016, Erdogan had fears about Gladio-type activities in Turkey and was opposed to its influence (Wikileaks 2008 document). I should think that Erdogan has long-held fears of assassination, if not then he should have (Wikileaks series of Stratfor emails 2011) and he certainly does now.

Now I know that all this is presented in the Western press as Erdogan arranging the coup himself and/or using the failed coup to further his own agenda but I think that this is a perverse interpretation. In my view the West would like Erdogan out of the way - if he is assassinated then his replacement will be much more conducive to Western interests.

The US has applied painful sanctions on Turkey and could collapse the Turkish economy if it wanted. One of the reasons the US doesn't do this is because Turkey always seems to be getting into disagreements and conflicts with Russia (and the US probably just waits and see what happens and stirs the pot a little) - part of me suspects that a lot of this conflict (between Russia and Turkey) may be highly theatrical and just buying time until' Turkey can buttress its economy (it's what I would do!).

(Some blue sky thinking) I noticed that both Russia and Turkey seemed to have unnecessarily insulted Iran about Soliemani's assassination? - There are many other articles about difficulties in the relationship between these parties - Could this all be theatre as well? Leading the US/West to believe that Iran is more isolated than it really is? Are Russia, Turkey, etc. making their own "realities" now? Are the US/West being induced to declare war and attack Iran (it will take US 2 years to prepare for this) only to find that they have walked into a trap from which (the consequences of) it will never recover? Are the US to have their "balls chopped off"? (I admit that it is just as interpretable that Erdogan will jump ship and go back to the US/West - but no-one really knows, that's the thing.)

Posted by: ADKC | Feb 12 2020 0:02 utc | 151

Posted by: alaff | Feb 11 2020 23:48 utc | 151

'Fair'? If it isn't clear by now, I'm not sure what would convince you. It's about power, nothing else. Diplomacy, moral arguments, law ... they still have some force, but for the most part it is simply about power. The US empire does what it does because its rulers (not its ignorant people), think it is in their interest. Those rulers (oligarchs if you like) are not in complete agreement, so there is still a lot of uncertainty. But, pointing out, endlessly, that 'it isn't fair' is stating the obvious. Of course, it isn't 'fair'.

Posted by: SteveK9 | Feb 12 2020 0:51 utc | 152

Posted by: ADKC | Feb 12 2020 0:02 utc | 152
'The US has applied painful sanctions on Turkey and could collapse the Turkish economy if it wanted.'

That this is the key has become blindingly obvious. Unless China or Russia/China find a way to set up an alternative to the dollar, that immense power will continue. It's not even clear that they want to do this. I think they would be perfectly satisfied with the status quo, if the US were not being so incredibly obnoxious with its control of international finance.

Posted by: SteveK9 | Feb 12 2020 0:56 utc | 153

Perhaps what best explains Erdogan's actions is Libya.

Does anyone really believe that the West would allow Erdogan to ally with the Russians AND seize Libyan oil? No! They would fight him tooth and nail. Western media would be demonize Erdogan. Trump would be talking about sending US and/or NATO troops.

Erdogan needed to be compensated for giving up Turkstream if he moved against Russian interests. And Libya was the perfect means of providing that compensation.

There will be no Turkstream. And no Nordstream.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 12 2020 1:16 utc | 154

Russia has had enough with Turkey. A blunt warning.

Russia cannot just sit and wait for further developments in Syria's Idlib

MOSCOW, February 11. /TASS/. Russia cannot just sit and wait for further developments in Syria's Idlib where terrorists shell Syrian army's positions daily, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Department of International Organizations Pyotr Ilyichev said[..]

In response to a question on how the latest developments in Idlib affect Russian-Turkish relations, Ilyichev reminded about the memorandum on the de-escalation zone in Idlib from September 2018 which "reiterates, firstly, respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity of the Syrian Arab Republic, and that the agreement on establishing a security zone in Idlib is temporary." " Furthermore, there were very important details, according to which Turkey pledged to disengage moderate opposition from terrorists, pledged to create a demilitarized zone, pledged to ensure free access to two national highways — M-4 and M-5. Over the last one-and-a-half years, nothing was done," he added.
"We understand difficulties that our Turkish partners face. However, the positions of Syrian forces, the positions of Russian forces — the Hmeymim air base, drone attacks — come under fire daily," he noted. "We cannot just sit and wait what will happen in Idlib next," he stressed.[.]

Posted by: Likklemore | Feb 12 2020 1:47 utc | 155

@ 152 adkc... i share your perspective...your speculation on this is relevant and worthwhile too...bottom line is it is hard to impossible to know important details.. we get 2nd hand info and feedback that may be political theatre as you state.. i think we are going to see how this works out in the play for idlib.. it is moving in the right direction for syria at present...

Posted by: james | Feb 12 2020 2:11 utc | 156

Latest interview with Vanessa Beeley on the situation in Idled and Aleppo Syria:

Vanessa Beeley Interview - Turkey & US Openly Protect Extremists In Idlib As Lies Begin To Crumble

Posted by: jsb | Feb 12 2020 4:09 utc | 157

Jen @ 43
"karlof1 @ 13, Abe @ 16:

Is it possible that the "traumatic brain injuries" are actually deaths? I have seen some online reports that the Iranians speculate that the Americans are hiding the deaths and reporting them as "concussion injuries". "

This was exactly my thought.
Also possibly a way to delay having to inform next of kin etc. of death and thus keeping the lid on a public accounting of the effectiveness of Iran's strike and resulting postmortem and PR disaster for Solomeini killers Trump, Pence, Pompeo.
So, soldiers are supposedly in a coma or something for a few months, until it becomes convenient (maybe after election) to let next of kin know, "So sorry, he just died."

Posted by: Really?? | Feb 12 2020 4:27 utc | 158

Does anyone really believe that the West would allow Erdogan to ally with the Russians AND seize Libyan oil?
Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 12 2020 1:16 utc | 155

"...the West would allow..."
The assumption in everything you write is that the former ascendant power - the West - retains its dominant position in all aspects of world affairs. I think this undermines all of your analysis. The West is no longer the principal arbitrator of what is permissible for nation states. That world leader title was stripped, for all to see, the day Russia successfully defended Crimea against the western putsch in Ukraine; and was punctuated (!!) the day they overtly intervened in Syria. The West has not been able to overturn either of those ventures.
The 'West' retains tremendous influence, but that influence is waning fast. They cannot give Turkey Libya's oil. They can delay, but cannot stop Turkstream or Nordstream.
I'll continue to follow this blog and hold you to those predictions.

Posted by: Activist Potato | Feb 12 2020 4:35 utc | 159

Activist Potato @159

Yes, the West is still the dominant global power. What you call "ascendant" powers are gaining in strength but haven't yet overcome the Empire.

The Empire is not standing still. They are actively engaged in a strategy to counter the rising powers. And if Turkey was on the side of those rising powers THEY WOULD do whatever they could to counter Turkey's Libyan moves. But I don't see that happening.

IMO if it were clear that the West is going to lose, then countries and their leaders would act differently. Europeans would be rebelling; Erdogan would be more willing to fall in line with Russia; Iran's response to the killing of Soleimani would have been more than a 'slap'; Venezuela would have declared war when Venezuelan their assets were seized; etc.

I'm not trying to put down the resistance to the Empire. I shutter at the thought of the Empire's NWO because I think it would be a terrible form of dystopia. When countries compete, the little guy has a chance for a better life.

<> <> <> <> <>

Make sure that you include what I got right as well as what I get wrong. There have been many misleading Hasbara bullshit that I pushed back on. I was right to be skeptical of the "Erdogan is turning East" BS. I was right to object when others declared that the Syria war was over (it's just a new phase). I was right to push back on "Putin is a Zionist" nonsense (along with a couple of others). I was right to say that Idlib is a key part of the strategy in this phase of the Syria war and would not be given up easily.

I have other predictions: a civil war in Iraq; a brokered Democratic Party convention that ends in a Sanders-sanctioned compromise that breaks the back of the deluded attempt by Bernie supporters to 'take over' the Democratic Party; a Trump win in 2020 because the Democratic Party establishment is pro-Empire.

One more thing. I've said that Trump was selected by the Deep State. That his election wasn't the accidental triumph it is made out to be. I get criticized about my belief that the Deep State has that kind of power just as you criticize my believe that the Empire retains power to shape outcomes. I've described my reasoning for Trump's selection in comments at moa and on my website. Enjoy!


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 12 2020 5:26 utc | 160

@SteveK9 | 153
Which sanctions are you talking about specifically?
The latest, which promise to be painful, are yet to be applied.
And last year Trump avoided imposing the harshest sanctions to hit the Erdogan mafia and hangers on.

ADKC | 146 "If Turkey falls back into line..."
The very point is that it can not. It can not return to its previous vassal position. Its economy is dependent upon Russia, Germany and Iran. Its future dependent on energy sales. Turkey has moved too far to 'turn back'. But, you are right Turkey is a key player in the Middle East. The problem is Erdogan's mafia state. On the one hand a great many projects have been completed properly and with great potential. On the other their potential is minimised if not lost to the aggressive and imperialist politics of the mafia state whose interests lie only in personal empowerment. This, however, has brought them to the point where they have no allies and as @James says, between a rock and a hard place.
It will be squeezed yet further in the immediate future on all fronts, not just the Syrian. It seems inevitable. Propping up the economy throwing good money after bad or with one off Arab payments will go nowhere.

@Likklemore | 121 - Will see tomorrow whether this is just more NATO 'support' or whether it will actually count for something. NATO has done nothing to actually support Turkey in Syria, and is not really in a position to do anything. Worth asking the question also whether Turkey actually wants that 'support'. I think the answer is a resounding No, unless Turkey is planning to actually betray Russian agreements which would be a very risky and losing strategy.

Posted by: Egor68500 | Feb 12 2020 9:26 utc | 161

Now that Turkstream is operational it will be interesting to see how hard Turkey pushes to extend the line into Europe. Lots of economic benefit to gain if Turkey can become the gas broker for Southern Europe, especially if they can beat Germany to the market, which is likely since Nord Stream II won't come online until 2021.

Posted by: Haassan | Feb 12 2020 9:31 utc | 162

Egor68500 | Feb 12 2020 9:26 utc | 161

Fully agreed. An "adult" estimation fitting to what one can learn from there. The guy is not comfortably seated on the fence. Traditional local supports erode quick. For this Syrian adventure only face saving efforts are left.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 12 2020 9:42 utc | 163

Activist Potato @159

Your analysis of the posts by the bunny are obvious to some, but those bunny posts are written to appeal to the "exceptionality" conceit that is ingrained in most westerners, and particularly Americans. The assumption that the western imperial establishment is omnipotent and infallible dovetails with unconscious acceptance of American Exceptionalism. People who have not yet come to grips with that chauvinism within themselves are easy prey for the bunny.

Interestingly, the Democrat Party mule is now back after some obvious retraining in how to sell the neoliberal message in this forum. The mule posterior has clearly upped its game, but its shilling for America's Team Blue is still rather transparent.

Posted by: William Gruff | Feb 12 2020 12:05 utc | 164

Egor68500 & Hausmeister

Erdogan does not run a "mafia state". Turkey, under Erdogan has sought to become more independent (from the West) as well as being nationalist and having neo-Ottoman ambitions. These empire building aspirations led Turkey into the Syrian war (led by the US) but Erdogan was sufficiently independent that the US sought to take him out (in 2016 but were also probably behind a number of assassination attempts).

Turkey's economy is still reliant on the US/West and the US could easily exert far greater economic pressures and bring their economy down. Whilst Turkey is getting economic support from China and Russia this is only (at present) enough to prevent the Turkish economy from collapsing. However, China and Russia's support is not enough to prevent the destruction of the Turkish economy if that was what the US/West set their mind on. Probably, Russia and China are not yet able to replace the Western financial system in the way that Turkey needs (Turkish has a population of 81 million who can be volatile).

You greatly under-estimate the pressures on Turkey from the West, Erdogan's determination (at present) not to comply with the West, and the speed with which Turkey would re-align with the US/West/NATO should Erdogan be removed/assassinated.

Erdogan is not a "popular" person with the West and there are many points of friction. But don't let hatred of Erdogan blind you to what would otherwise be obvious which is that Turkey is a strategically important country (geographically, militarily, politically), that Turkey is financially vulnerable (therefore it is somewhat surprising that Turkey doesn't comply with what the US/West want), that Turkey "taking sides" changes the balance of power (in the Middle East/Mediterranean) and goes some way to determining outcomes, and that Erdogan matters (the situation in the Middle East would be entirely different [far more favourable to the West/US] if Erdogan was not the leader of Turkey).

Posted by: ADKC | Feb 12 2020 13:20 utc | 165

William Gruff @164

Your view of my thinking is mistaken.

I'm not extolling American virtue or exceptionalism at all. In fact I've criticized such thinking as well as Zionist supremacist thinking.

We've had an ongoing disagreement about the power of the Deep State. You keep exaggerating my view of that power into something that you can mock and dismiss. I don't see them as all powerful just as a well-connected, hierarchical structure that has established mechanisms for control (duopoly, citizens united, corporate media, etc.). That is powerful enough to control US politics and media but they still get blindsided from time to time.

One famous goof that I point to frequently is the belief that Russia would join with the West. Even after "shock therapy" failed to force Russian capitulation and Russia-Chinese relations improved, they refused to believe that Russia would actually fully commit to SCO and China - until Russia blocked USA in Syria and Ukraine.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 12 2020 13:21 utc | 166

Excellent replies.
A breath of fresh air - pulling no punches..

'And regardless of Bibi and Donny's bluster, the Golan is still rightfully theirs. They want it back..'
Too right.
A massive oil well - currently under Genie Oil.
A company owned, largely it seems, by the worst of Israeli and US politicians....Financial scum.
Golan is Syria and in passing Kosovo is Serbia too.
A number of those Genie oil thieves are thieving Serbian gold as well - looking at the shareholdings.

Posted by: Emily | Feb 12 2020 14:33 utc | 167

Hi Egor68500
Deep News-Multipolar is one source I use from Turkey. Most times you will need to translate, many articles dealing with how the Turkish people view Erdogan and his policies.

Posted by: Bill | Feb 12 2020 15:04 utc | 168

@ADKC | 165

We're saying pretty much the same thing except for two points
It is not my opinion but the opinion of people far better informed than me, Ahmet Sik among others - if you speak Turkish - for instance who claim that the upper echelons of AKP and their families are indeed managing a mafia state and when you look at the economy by sector you will find exactly that. In fact the current Kizilay scandal is also evidence of this to a lesser extent. THe lower echelons are run by cronyism and nepotism.
As for the economy, I do not disagree, but I was responding to a comment on whether Turkey belongs to either the west or the east and this is an absurd way of looking at it. Neither one nor the other dominates the economy. Without doubt. Having said that we must remember not to conflate the West with the US. The West comprises different moving parts whose interests do not always converge and which therefore act in different ways - especially relevant when considering Turkish energy sector, manufacturing sectors etc. But you must also remember the kind of economic relationship. It is very easy for Russia to prevent tourists from visiting Turkey, or to withdraw visas from Turkish construction workers etc. These moves have an immediate and crippling effect on the economy. Manipulating the dollar has the same of course. US key card however is sanctions against Erdogan and allies / family because this is where he will feel it most - remember the lengths and cost gone to in order to repatriate Atilla!
On the rest we pretty much agree.

Posted by: Egor68500 | Feb 12 2020 15:09 utc | 169

Is it possible that the "traumatic brain injuries" are actually deaths? I have seen some online reports that the Iranians speculate that the Americans are hiding the deaths and reporting them as "concussion injuries". "

Posted by: Really?? | Feb 12 2020 4:27 utc | 158

It is hard to offer conclusive theories. For me, it gives a useful perspective to recent comments about "propensity of totalitarian regimes to hide inconvenient facts" that was pontificated upon on the occasion of the epidemic in China. You can have most free democracy in the world, with everyone free to create or purchase their own television network and other media properties, pump billions into the democratic political process etc., and yet, the outcomes may resemble "propensity of totalitarian regimes".

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 12 2020 15:49 utc | 170

Egor68500 & Hausmeister

Erdogan does not run a "mafia state". Turkey, under Erdogan has sought to become more independent (from the West) as well as being nationalist and having neo-Ottoman ambitions.

Posted by: ADKC | Feb 12 2020 13:20 utc | 165

Feudalistic patterns are that money come from power, as opposed to capitalist patterns. These patterns can co-exist with a modern economy based on manufacturing, services and extraction of minerals (important in KSA, Russia and USA). One aspect of feudalistic approach is dispossession of political opponents, including the very rich ones, and that happened in KSA, Russia, Turkey but not in USA (I mean, domestically, USA dispossesses foreign "bad actors" a lot). Some would dub feudalistic patterns as "mafia state", some would not.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 12 2020 15:57 utc | 171

Egor68500 @169

The objection I have to the comment is that it distinguishes Erdogan and Turkey when exactly the same kind of allegation has been levelled at many other countries including the US, UK, France, Israel, Russia, China, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc. If you accept that all these counties (and many others) are "mafia" states then ok Turkey is also a "mafia" state. You would have, of course, to accept that Turkey was a "mafia" state before Erdogan (which again makes the isolated allegation against Turkey under Erdogan highly selective). And so the allegation that Turkey is a "mafia" state has no real purchase because they are all "mafia" states.

The US and the West are conflated for a very good reason. Until the West actually acts independently of the US then there is no point in distinguishing the West from the US. The West are all US lickspittles (and prisoners of the Western financial system). There are some divergences between the US and the West but where they are of significance there is always revenge served cold (e.g. France has lost key strategic assets to the US [the most important being the Alstom nuclear assets] because it failed to support and take part in the 2nd Gulf War - and ever since there hasn't been a war that France didn't want to take point on).

Despite Turkey's moves away from the US/West sphere they still remain very much a prisoner of the Western financial system. If Erdogan is just a gangster why doesn't he remain in the corrupt and cosy embrace of the US? Why does he find himself at loggerheads with the West? Two reasons: Erdogan ego demands that Turkey should be an independent actor (not a vassal of the US), and the US/West want tried to get rid of him (because he was too independent - or, as the parlance goes, "unreliable"). So I take the allegations against Erdogan with a pinch of salt in that many of the allegations are untrue, exaggerated or misrepresentations, and that which is true is exactly what other countries are doing and have done (including the US, the biggest "mafia" state of them all).

It seems to me that certain key countries won't move to actually replace the western financial system (despite preparatory work) because they know it would provoke a strong aggressive response from the US. I suspect they are just biding their time and acting in deceptively reassuring ways (from the US point of view). There is a lot of speculation that the next financial crisis is coming and that it will be far, far worse than 2008 (or even 1929). This is when I would expect China, Russia, Iran and others (including Turkey) to launch a real alternative system for world trade (they will never have a better opportunity).

Posted by: ADKC | Feb 12 2020 16:20 utc | 172

Erdogan seems to have done a deal with Trump. Turk artillery now working openly with al qaeda and their suicide bombers, plus white helmets starting to feature in Turk propaganda.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Feb 12 2020 16:41 utc | 173

Collusion of state and mafia in Turkey is certainly not an innovation introduced by Erdogan.

Anyone here old enough to remember (actually most here are, by my estimate LOL) that colorful lady Tansu Ciller, first female prime minister of Turkey in an age when headscarfs were not the normal for women in public?

How about the Susurluk scandal, any takers? Here's some refreshment links for the curious minds:

covert-history.wikia a slight variation on the wikipedia
even bezos' blog spent some ink on it

PS. During the now deceased and buried negotiations between the EU and Turkey about a possible accession, I have always thought this to be impossible for cultural reasons. Specifically the culture of corruption. The EU is also incredibly corrupt in its own ways, but these are simply incompatible with the Turkish style of corruption.

Posted by: Lurk | Feb 12 2020 16:41 utc | 174

@ Peter AU1 | Feb 12 2020 16:41 utc | 173

It is not entrely clear yet if these are actions by the TSK properly or if these are just jihadis who have been donated some old written-off Turkish hardware and a bunch of second hand Turkish uniforms.

Posted by: Lurk | Feb 12 2020 16:45 utc | 175

@ ADKC | Feb 12 2020 16:20 utc | 172

There is no clearly identifiable single entity named "the west", nor is there a similar "the east". Just particular interests and opportune coalitions of interests of uncertain duration.

Regarding Erdogan's position and policies, I have often seen him described as a former (or really not so former) street-fighting melon salesman who somehow worked his way up into politics. If there is any truth to these characterizations, then I would predict Erdogan to never turning west or east or anywhere other than to his own self-made power base. As long as he remains uncommitted to any long running external interests, he can keep on playing all the sides for his own gains and short term survival.

Posted by: Lurk | Feb 12 2020 16:55 utc | 176

As Erdogan is stating the Turk military is firing on SAA and his stated intention of using his military to drive SAA back it makes little difference as to if they are jihadi's or Turk career or conscript military. At times in the east, Turk military have fired on SAA in support of their jihadi's on that front.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Feb 12 2020 17:02 utc | 177

Dilyana - the lady who traced the terrorist proxy supply of ordnance and proved the matter is funded by the US military, has publiched a second part... The most interesting single item, inert 82mm shells...huumm, now what would the fellas be planning to pour into those?

long article set... Dilyana dot bg

"In 2017 Mil Spec Industries signed a contract with Jugoimport SDPR for the purchase of 100 pcs. of inert mortar shells 60 mm from the Serbian state-owned manufacturer Krusik at the price of $8,450. According to the contract with Krusik, the end user is the US Government (Vlada SAD in Serbian in the original document). Why would the US Government need 100 pcs. of Serbian inert mortar shells which are non-US standard and therefore cannot be used for training by the US Army?"

Islamic State weapons in Yemen traced back to US Government: Serbia files (part 1)

US Task Force Smoking Gun smuggles weapons to Syria: Serbia files (Part 2)

Her twitter is deadly...

Posted by: Walter | Feb 12 2020 17:04 utc | 178

@ Walter | Feb 12 2020 17:04 utc | 178

Wow!, 198,906 mortar shells non-US standar (cannot be used by US military), with them you can sustain many many thounsands of US "freedom fighters" (aka HTS and ISIS) for a lot of time and making a lot of murder and damaged in an "unfriendly" country

Posted by: DFC | Feb 12 2020 17:22 utc | 179

DFC | Feb 12 2020 17:22 utc | 179 inert projos

Dilyana also has a jolly investigation, with video of embarrassing questions, about all the BSL labs "PENTAGON GERMS" /the-pentagon-bio-weapons/........

Anyway any kid can make a brew of vovocrud...David Collum wrote on his year end blog (zerohedge published the 250 page monologue and I read the entire thing, with end notes) He's a smart chemist...and he says the 4 common ingredients could simply be poured into a bucket...and you'd be, ah, "gone"...about that fast. So it's obvious what the inert projos are for, CBW.

Again, her twitter is well worth the reading.

Posted by: Walter | Feb 12 2020 17:34 utc | 180

@ADKC | 172
"The objection I have to the comment is that it distinguishes Erdogan and Turkey when exactly the same kind of allegation has been levelled at many other countries including the US, UK, France, Israel, Russia, China, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc. If you accept that all these counties (and many others) are "mafia" states then ok Turkey is also a "mafia" state."
Never expected to read such rubbish here.
Regret having taken you at all seriously.

Posted by: Egor68500 | Feb 12 2020 17:36 utc | 181

@ Walter | Feb 12 2020 17:34 utc | 180


And today it seems that Pompeo has given Cavusoglu a "NATO" blank check in Syria, and it reminds me the infamous blank check of Theobald von Bethmann to Bethmann-Hollweg in 5 July 1914, and you know what happened after....

I imagine now there are some nasty russian subs ready in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and some Bears heating-up motors in the South Russia, just in case...

Posted by: DFC | Feb 12 2020 18:16 utc | 182

"My condolences to the families of the soldiers killed in yesterday's attack in Idlib. The ongoing assaults by the Assad regime and Russia must stop. I've sent Jim Jeffrey to Ankara to coordinate steps to respond to this destabilizing attack. We stand by our NATO Ally #Turkey."

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Feb 12 2020 18:28 utc | 183

How can this be interpreted as a blank check? I can see only light words and „stand by“ is nice unless there is some formal decision taken by the NAT0. More or less just rhetoric, like E. applies it as well. Remedy: look each day at the maps.

@ Egor68500 | Feb 12 2020 17:36 utc | 181
You must accept, not like, that quite a number of people know Turkey just from social media whereas the real life there remains a mysterium for them. It differs a lot from Western countries and tourism does not help. Just the opposite.

Sorry that I mistook your position some days ago.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 12 2020 18:46 utc | 184

How can this be interpreted as a blank check? [from Pompeo to Turks] Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 12 2020 18:46 utc | 184

An example from news this week: a tourist from Ukraine tried to pay a fee to Polish border something using play money. But it was not accepted.

Blank checks from USA may have similar value in these circumstances.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 12 2020 19:59 utc | 185

@Lurk | 174
Interesting that you mention the drug smuggling; There are many who claim that AKP is repeating the same and has monopolised the drug smuggling + routes. I had always thought this a little far-fetched and inspired by Sansurluk. But, witnessing the staggering volume of human trafficking to and from Turkey (even during the recent years of State of Emergency) I am not so sure. It seems well beyond low level corrupt activity, and is clearly being 'paused' and 'restarted' on the western side to Greece. Very lucrative business indeed! And where ther is human trafficking you can be sure there is drug trafficking.

@Hausmeister | 184 Yeah, you are right, of course.

Posted by: Egor68500 | Feb 12 2020 20:01 utc | 186

DFC | Feb 12 2020 18:16 utc | 182 It does look a bit like the Show-Down at the OK Corral, doanit?

One is inclined to speculate as to the whereabouts of USS Tennessee with those W76/2 "usable nukes"...and it then comes to mind that "Captain Ivan Kapuski" might be in her baffles right now...what could go wrong?

The horrors are endless. Part farce, part classical tragedy, and all cruel.

Posted by: Walter | Feb 12 2020 20:13 utc | 187

Twitter is confusing, villages that are not adjacent are being mentioned. It seems that the segment of M5 that is not secured from the west side by SAA will shrink today from 6.5 km (4 miles), perhaps 2-3 km will remain, perhaps nothing.

Progress toward Route 62 would go beyond the minimal (but very impressive!) goals of the winter campaign, but it is speculative. Turks seem to position themselves to block it. What I mean is that SAA could go north about 10 km in hilly but not particularly fortified terrain, and give a stark choice to jihadists harassing western quarters of Aleppo: retreat or get cut-off from any supplies. Turkey seems to position a lot of firepower in that direction, so it is problematic militarily and diplomatically. There is a talk about Libya being on the bargaining table.

In Libya, Russia is "neutral" but it gave very valuable assistance to Haftar/LNA, while Turkey supports GNA/Muslim Brotherhood related government. Russia is rather free to leave Haftar to be taken care of by Egypt and UAE, or not, this gives Putin a nice pressure point. For all talk about playing chess, Putin has actual judo experience. A complete solution of the military/logistic situation of Aleppo urban area would be very nice, securing M5 with a decent safety belt on the west would be better than most of the world expected.

However, Syrian government must carefully consider how much blood they want to pay for a better endgame of the campaign. We can only watch, and be careful for typical risks of armchair warrior: flooded keyboards, the chair flipping back etc. For all we know, some posters already got brain injuries...

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 12 2020 20:17 utc | 188

Syrian flag flying high over the town, Russian flags in the background with a crowd of people, and US bogged in the mud trying to turn around.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Feb 12 2020 22:57 utc | 189

How about this one?

The Turks are bombing and attacking a christian village outside of the "safezone".

Born-again US SoS Pompeo fully supports the Turks.

Crickets in USA media to be expected, as usual.

Posted by: Lurk | Feb 12 2020 23:24 utc | 190

A lot of suspect pejoratives are thrown around about Turkey, suspect because they are really nothing more than thinly disguised racism. One only has to consider comments made by prominent brexiters about "the danger of Turkey joining the EU" in particular B Johnson, now englander PM.
The fact that Johnson is himself a Turk - the grandfather who emigrated to england had come from Turkey add hypocrisy to this typically englander style of racism.
Perhaps Boris' grandad was a 'white Turk'. We don't hear much about 'white Turks' any more but in the lead up to the failed amerikan sponsored coup it was all the rage for msm to tell their readers that white Turks should be put back in control of the military & government in Turkey - the sort of chaps who instinctively tugged their forelocks when a real whitefella came into the room. We aren't told about them any longer maybe because post - failed coup most are languishing in the pokey.

I'm no fan of Erdogan, in fact listening to Shirer's "Berlin Diary" got me considering the similarity between the concentration of power & oppressive moves A Hitler pulled domestically then externally as Chancellor of Germany and the strokes Erdogan has been trying on domestically and externally as prez of Turkey. The obvious one aside from ripping up the constitution, all the better to ensure Erdy controls it all, is the demonisation of particular racial groups in Germany gypsies and Jews, in Turkey Kurds & Armenians.

As far as I am concerned it is amerika who I consider most responsible for Erdy's rise to power. We have seen time and again that when some outside entity tries to "juke the stats" while using operation Gladio plus murder bribery & extortion to keep a particular group in power at the expense of all other citizens, when the oligarchy is finally toppled as it always is, what replaces it is pretty sociopathic, since anything less selfishly driven has always failed.
As much as amerika whines about Erdogan (who is not an amerikan puppet unless there are clear gains for himself & those around him, same, same with Russia), amerika is reaping exactly what it sowed.
As much as amerika wants whoever ultimately replaces Erdogan to be a puppet, the chances of things going back the way they were pre Erdogan are negligible. The citizens just would not tolerate that and, viable pols in the opposition parties, i.e. the former white Turks know that, not least of all because those types are in prison outta circulation for the foreseeable.
It isn't as if Erdogan has some sort of monopoly on the 'help yerself' school of governance, I cannot think of any poodle to amerika which doesn't have a corrupt hands in everyone else's pockets style administration.

Posted by: A User | Feb 13 2020 0:36 utc | 191

Shame you didn't do the slightest bit of research before basing your rant on the erroneous statement that "Johnson is himself a Turk"

A two-second tap on a keyboard would have informed you that Boris Johnson's paternal grandfather was one quarter Turkish and one quarter Cisserian. That is the totality of Boris Johnson's 'Turkish' ancestry.

Yes America has always exerted a heavy influence over Turkey - corruption is a weakness easily exploited! - but Erdogan seeks a more balanced situation for Turkey and. like it or not, he is achieving it, to be frank.

Posted by: Egor68500 | Feb 13 2020 11:47 utc | 192

oooff … Circassian of course! )))

Posted by: Egor68500 | Feb 13 2020 11:49 utc | 193

Turkey Deploys Special Forces to Syria's Idlib - Reports

Turkish MLRS brought to Idlib.

Posted by: Zanon | Feb 13 2020 13:59 utc | 194

In related news Syrian Assembly recognizes the Armenian Genocide:

People’s Assembly unanimously adopts a decision on condemning and recognizing genocide committed against Armenian people by Ottoman State

13 February، 2020

Damascus, SANA- People’s Assembly adopted in its 10th session of the 2nd regular round held Thursday, headed by the Assembly’s Speaker Hammouda Sabbagh a decision condemning and recognizing the genocide committed against the Armenian people by the Ottoman State in the beginning of the 20th century.

In its session, the People’s Assembly condemned and recognized the genocide committed against the Armenian people by the Ottoman State in the beginning of the 20th century, as well as condemned any attempt to deny this crime or distort the historical truth about it.

The Assembly described the genocide as “one of the most atrocious crimes against humanity.”

Expressing complete sympathy with the friendly Armenian people, the Assembly recognized that the Armenians, Syriac, Assyrians and other peoples have been victims of ethnic and systematic crimes and genocides by the Ottomans, calling on the world parliaments, the world public opinion and the whole international community to recognize and condemn them.

The Assembly Speaker said that the Syrian people are facing a Turkish hostility based on an outrageous Ottoman ideology, pointing out that the Syrian people know exactly this kind of racial crimes as they have been exposed to the same brutal terrorism by the same criminal.

Sabbagh underlined that the heinous crimes against the peoples will not fall by the lapse of time, particularly that the neo Ottomanism uses the same criminal styles, calling on the humanity to shoulder its humanitarian, ethical and political responsibility in recognizing this crime, and not to deny it as well as to strongly condemn it.

Killing more than a million and a half of Armenians is not a mere historical event, rather it is a black sign in the history of humanity which is similar to the Zionist continued crimes, the Speaker said, asserting that this crime should be condemned and recognized to prevent its repetition by any brute force, including Erdogan’s regime.

Sabbagh described the steadfastness of the Syrian Arab army and people, led by President Bashar al-Assad, in the face of the Turkish brutal aggression as a “historic act” which aims at preventing the reviving of a new Ottoman monster, as well as it aims at defending the present, future, independence and freedom of the Syrian people.

For her part, the People’s Assembly member and Chairwoman of the Syrian-Armenian Friendship Association Nora Arisian underlined that recognizing and condemning the genocide against the Armenian people contributes in preventing the repetition of those crimes in different ways, like the terrorist war waged against Syria.

Hala Zain

Posted by: redrooster | Feb 13 2020 16:14 utc | 195

A User | Feb 13 2020 0:36 utc is sad:

A lot of suspect pejoratives are thrown around about Turkey, suspect because they are really nothing more than thinly disguised racism.
I'm no fan of Erdogan, in fact listening to Shirer's "Berlin Diary" got me considering the similarity between the concentration of power & oppressive moves A Hitler pulled domestically then externally as Chancellor of Germany and the strokes Erdogan has been trying on domestically and externally as prez of Turkey.
Perhaps Boris' grandad was a 'white Turk'.

Recap: just because the president of the state behaves like a certain A Hitler is no reason to use pejoratives, unless you are a racist. Oh well. But then this interest if a grandad (or great grand dad, or whatever) was a "white" Turk, or rather "black" Turk is totally puzzling.

Terminology of white and black seems as old as Grey Wolf standard, i.e. the time when "Turks" were ruling over lands in Mongolia and around, and refer respectively to elite and commoners. The party led by Erdoğan is literally "White Party", the leader dwells in a palace with more than 1000 rooms, but he is "black", i.e. with modest background and education. But who cares?

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 13 2020 17:12 utc | 196

ANNA News has released a 38-minute documentary about the liberation of Saraqib.

As usual, there are two versions:

  1. the original version in Russian;

  2. a lower quality version with English subtitles courtesy of R&U Videos.

Posted by: S | Feb 13 2020 18:29 utc | 197

The US and Israel are probably egging Erdogan on in hopes that they can get enough of a conflict going that they can invoke Chapter 5 of NATO and attack Syria.

Very unlikely to be successful at that. In the initial stages of the civil war, both Turkey and Israel fired on Syrian forces in alleged response to "attacks" from inside Syria into their territory. Syria never responded, so there was never enough resulting evidence to invoke Chapter 5 on Turkey's part or justify a full-scale Israeli attack. Israel escalated its attacks on "Iranian proxies" inside Syria, but that never went anywhere, either.

Idlib might escalate enough, but now that Russia is involved, I can't see Turkey - even with US support - risking open conflict with Russia. Neither can Israel. Putin may focus on diplomacy, to the point where some people think he is weak, but in the end Russian diplomacy is backed by overwhelming military power which Putin will use when he must. And Turkey and Israel know it.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Feb 13 2020 20:02 utc | 198

That work of fantasy fiction is a screamer. Friedman, founder of STRATFOR of infamy, is a neocon stinktank harlot who performs every trick that the customer will pay for. The categorical imperative of his work is continued US global hegemony. Silly little things like facts are then fitted to suit.

A few of the more hilarious "predictions" for the 2020's

Poland ("the Polish bloc") will be a major Eurasian superpower, taking the place of the now collapsed Russian Federation.

China will also implode and Japan (together with Taiwan) becomes a dominant influence in the fragmented mainland area. A Tibet liberated thanks to India is par for the ZATO pipe dream course.
Posted by: Lurk | Feb 11 2020 10:15 utc | 88

A think tank of note must have at least one visionary on the staff, their phantasms are only loosely connected to the "inter-agency consensus" (a religion with some resemblance to other faiths that wreck havoc here and there). Friedman seemingly learned some history, without understanding, and in particular, there was a time, ca. 1600, when mighty Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth collected together Poles, Baltics, what is now Belorus and Ukraine, nicely interspersed with Jews could make short work of Russians etc. In Polish the assessment would be "To se ne vrati" (This will not come back, in Czech because it sounds better than "To nie wróci"). <-- the glory of the Commonwealth, in Lithuanian

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 14 2020 1:10 utc | 199

"Facts on the ground" are changing rapidly. SAA now controls the entire M5 highway, according to DW. No wonder Erdy is thumping his chest and growling.

Assad forces retake key Syrian highway

Posted by: Trailer Trash | Feb 11 2020 18:16 utc | 127

It took a long day of battles today to clear the jihadists from the last stretch, ca. 6 km, on one side only, plus add few km distance for "fire control". There is a chatter of possible continuation: taking control of two lesser highways, Aleppo-Idlib or Hwy 60 (done on some stretch) and Aleppo-Afrin or Hwy 62. With that, jihadists occupying western suburbs of Aleppo will be gone, Kurdish+SAA positions in northern Aleppo will face enemies on one side only etc.

The topography is that SAA would need to cross less than 10 km through hilly country, and then there would be still another 10 km to separate west-Aleppo jihadists from Turkish supplies. However, this remainder is a mountain region with a single rickety road passing through. There was a twit that Afrin Kurds + SAA will advance from the north towards Hwy 62, they need to get one little mountain to make jihadists fight in two directions, and to have fire control on this rickety mountain road. Anyway, some twitters are armchair generals posting what should be rather than what is, so this happy ending of Winter 2019/20 campaign is just a possibility.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 14 2020 1:53 utc | 200

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