Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 03, 2020

Syrian Army Progress Leads To New Scuffle Between Turkey And Russia

The continuing Syrian army operation to liberate Idleb governorate is leading to a new clash between Turkey and Russia.

The governorate of Idleb is still largely occupied by Turkish controlled 'rebels' and al-Qaeda aligned Jihadi groups like Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). The Astana agreement between Turkey and Russia, signed in September 2018, included a ceasefire in the governorate, buffer zones, and the reopening of the M4 highway between the coast and Aleppo city and the M5 highway between Damascus and Aleppo. The ceasefires and the agreement between Turkey and Russia explicitly excluded the Jihadis.

The roads were never reopened for civilian Syrian traffic and several rounds of ceasefires continued to break down. A sustained Russian and Syria air campaign prevented the Jihadis from launching larger attacks. Meanwhile harassment fire from the Jihadis and all out attacks continue to kill civilians and soldiers in Aleppo city and other areas. Turkish observation posts which were meant to monitor the ceasefire are instead providing intelligence and supplies to the 'rebels'.

Six days ago, after the Syrian Arab Army liberated the city Maarat al-Numan southeast of Idleb city, we wrote:

Southeast Idleb Jan 28 2020

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Coming from the east the Syrian army crossed the M5 highway north and south of the city in a pincer movement. The Jihadis who had held the city fled westwards towards Kafranabel and Al Barah on the only roads left to move out. The city itself was taken without a fight. The map above does not yet reflect this latest development.
...
The move cuts off a Turkish observation point south of Maarat al Nunman. It is the third such point that is now surrounded by Syrian government forces. Earlier today a convoy of some 30 Turkish vehicles had entered Idleb governorate from Turkey. It is expected to erect a new observation point near Saraqib where the M4 and M5 highway come together. Saraqib will be the next target for the Syrian army campaign.

That is indeed what happened. Turkey build up a new heavily armed 'observation point' south of Saraqib with the intent to block further Syrian moves towards the city. Meanwhile the Syrian army moved nearer to Saraqib but also took time to secure its eastern flank.

The Turkish President did not appreciate that the Syrian army was making progress against his mercenaries:

In remarks to reporters Jan. 29, Erdogan slammed Russia directly for the first time, saying, “Russia unfortunately has not been loyal to the Astana and Sochi agreements. … Either [Russia] stops the bombings in Idlib or our patience is running out and we will do what is necessary from now on.”
...
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected Erdogan’s accusations, insisting that Russia “fully complies with all obligations under the Sochi agreements regarding the Idlib zone.”

After securing its right flank, the Syrian army moved along the M5 highway towards Saraqib. But the Turkish 'observation point' was blocking the way along that route. Yesterday the Syrian army did something unexpected. It moved off the M5 towards the northwest to envelop the city.

Southeast Idleb Feb 2 2020

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The move alarmed Turkey. It does not want the Syrian government to liberate Saraqib and to regain control of the M4 and M5 highways to Aleppo.

Turkey suddenly declared the M4 highway a "Turkish military zone" and sent in large convoys with heavy arms to build more 'observation points' around Saraqib. During last night it came to first clashes between Turkish and Syrian outposts. Syrian artillery hit one of the new Turkish 'observation points', killed 8 Turkish soldiers and wounded some 30. Turkish artillery fired back but seem to have missed its targets.

This morning Erdogan was livid. To save face he claimed that the Turkish army and airforce had hit back at Syrian troops. The Russians, who controls the airspace over Idleb denied that any Turkish airstrikes had happened:

Turkish aircraft did not enter Syrian airspace to carry out airstrikes on the positions of Syrian government forces, the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Sides in Syria (part of the Russian Defense Ministry) said in a statement on Monday.
...
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier at a press conference in Ankara that F-16 fighters from the Turkish Air Force and artillery crews had carried strikes on 40 targets in Idlib in response to an attack on the Turkish positions, which had killed four troops. According to Erdogan, the retaliatory attack killed 30-35 Syrians. However, the Turkish president did not specify if they were military servicemen.

Today the Syrian army continued with its enveloping plan. It crossed the M4 Aleppo-Latakia highway west of Saraqib and is currently moving further north to cut the road between Saraqib and Idleb city.

Southeast Idleb Feb 3 2020

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Should it succeed with blocking both roads the Turkish troops in Saraqib will be cut off from their direct supply lines with Turkey.

This map from a Turkish source shows the now endangered 'observation points':

Southeast Idleb Feb 3 2020

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Turkey continues to bring new weapons and men into Syria:

Syrian Observatory reliable sources confirmed that a new Turkish military column entered the Syrian territory via Kafr Lusin crossing on the border with Iskenderun. The sources informed SOHR that the column headed to the south being escorted with an armored vehicles with unidentified persons in.

Over yesterday, five Turkish military columns of armored vehicles, personnel carriers and trucks entered Syria via Kafr Lusin crossing heading to Aleppo and Idlib countryside. One of these columns headed to Areha area via M4 highway, while another one stopped in Saraqeb town.

Accordingly, the number of trucks and military vehicles that entered the Syrian territory since morning has risen to nearly 320. Meanwhile, the Turkish columns headed to Idlib and Aleppo amid information about the announcement of Aleppo-Latakia highway, known as M4, a military zone by Turkish forces, which is a significant Turkish escalation against the Russians.

One wonders if the U.S. has convinced Turkey to act in Idleb even without Russian agreement:

US Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, commander of the US European Command and NATO’s supreme allied commander-Europe, visited Ankara on Jan. 30 for talks that focused on Syria. Sources in Ankara note that Wolters’ talks with Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Chief of General Staff Yasar Guler covered the west of the Euphrates as much as the east of the Euphrates, where the US military presence is concentrated.

It seems clear that the Russian military does not agree with Erdogan's plans and that Russia will act to dissuade him from further mischief. It is now time for another phone call between Putin and Erdogan. The Russian president will remind his Turkish colleague that the Turkish economy is lagging and that there is some serious money at risk:

Ragıp Soylu @ragipsoylu - 10:17 UTC · Feb 3, 2020

Turkish reliance on Russia:
• Tourism: 7 million Russians visited Turkey, top of the chart
• Nuclear cooperation: Akkuyu nuclear reactor built by Russians
• Turkish stream pipeline
• Turkish exports reaching to $3 billion
• Turkey imports 40% of its gas from Russia

The Syrian operation to liberate the economically important highways to Aleppo will continue.

Posted by b on February 3, 2020 at 17:25 UTC | Permalink

Comments
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The way to Erdo's heart is through his wallet. The only way to make Erdo behave is to squeeze his bank account till it screams.

Posted by: Biswapriya Purkayast | Feb 3 2020 17:39 utc | 1

thanks b... what is erdogan thinking here? hard to fathom... he has wanted to play off russia against usa for some time... i can't see that working out for him..

Posted by: james | Feb 3 2020 17:52 utc | 2

https://mobile.twitter.com/ynms79797979/status/1224372815517945857

Y.N.M.S
@ynms79797979
From morning until now all Erdogan's attempts to contact Russian President Vladimir Putin
It was not answered and received no attention !!
😉
😎
5:43 p.m. · 3 feb. 2020

Observing that Erdogan is currently in Ukraine, one commenter adds:

Erdogan cannot get through because he calls the Kremlin from Kiev. And from the Ukrainian Nazis, calls are not accepted by default)))))

Indeed, begging Putin to do him a favor - immediately after cowtowing to the Ukrofascists by remarking that the Krim belongs to Kiev - could be considered less than tactical. Should we henceforth be calling him Errorgan?

Treacherous snake Erdogan should be careful not to make the wrong moves in this situation. All the observation points and military columns he introduced into Idlib are sitting ducks to the Syrian airforces. Russia will deny the Turkish airforce access to Syrian airspace.

If he escalates to directly attacking Russian forces on a more than "oops, accident" scale, he will have to eat a lot of tomatoes. Maybe he can heat his palace with tomatoes, or else beg for Israeli gas...

Posted by: Lurk | Feb 3 2020 18:07 utc | 3

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a mad man, and I think Russia knows it. Only a sledge hammer hit could pacify him.

Posted by: Steve | Feb 3 2020 18:13 utc | 4

erdogan brought Crimea into it too,, "the full integrity" of the ukraine blah blah blah..
He is clearly desperate, a desperate muslim brotherhood terror regime will not bring anything good i fear.

Posted by: Per/Norway | Feb 3 2020 18:22 utc | 5

'b', as always, good information. Thank you.

Erdogan risks two major blows to his regime. A flood of refugees and tens of thousands of murderous al Nusra and Uyghur fighters who are and have been on his payroll and logistics support. He feeds and tends to them medically. It is impossible for him to integrate these killers and their clans in Turkish society.

The second blow, a conflict at arms with Russia, which will lead to a contraction of his economy that will destabilize his society.

As he extends his reach against Israel and Greece in the East Mediterranean for gas resources and pushes to establish a foothold in Libya, he stretches his military into arenas he cannot sustain. This isn't Cyprus he's pushing around. Russia and Putin have shown that they can touch pressure points of the US, Israel and others much tougher than Turkey. And with Russia will be Egypt and Iran and UAE.

Only Qatar, the bank for Muslim Brotherhood terrorism, stands with Erdogan.

The wannabe Emperor of his imaginary Ottoman Empire has everything to lose and nothing to gain. Myopia is not a strategic weapon.

If he is foolish enough to turn fire on Russian MPs or Special Forces in Aleppo and Idlib, his retreat will be with those 300+ armored vehicles in shreds, on fire and bloodied to the bone.

Posted by: Red Ryder | Feb 3 2020 18:22 utc | 6

Erdogan really went to Kiev to claim Crimea for Ukraine? He'd be lucky if Putin doesn't call for going back to the Treaty of Sevres' borders, giving back territories to Armenia and Greece.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Feb 3 2020 18:25 utc | 7

Canthama reports:

"So much for the turkish arrogance and whining.

"As anticipated early tioday, the 25th brought get news to the world, smashed al Qaeda west of Saraqib, cut the M4 and liberated several town, al Nayrab, Tam, and al Tarnaba.

"The turkish military forces that early today was burping khara, had to pack its tail and stick between their legs and run…forrest run from western Saraqib or fall prisoners to the SAA.

"The SAA is now 1 village to Idlib, it is in the western urban side of Saraqib and one village to Ariha…and its is in the outskirt of the infamous brick factory, a place where in 2015 the turkish backed al Qaeda used to break the defenses line toward Ariha."

Twitter reports Erdogan trying to phone Putin but he's not picking up the phone. The Turks pledged themselves to specific chores in Idlib and accomplished none. They're now suffering the consequences. It's possible that Erdogan's massively overt support for the terrorists will finally cost him politically. IMO, time is not on his side.

Latest Situation map for Saraqib. It will soon be enveloped from the West. Bigger map of immediate region that shows how close Idlib city is to Saraqib. Cutting M-4 kept Turks from establishing more CPs.

Otherwise, there's currently a lull in reports.

Posted by: karlof1 | Feb 3 2020 18:34 utc | 8

Erdogan is incorrigible.

If the patina of inviolability is falling away from the Turkish “observer” troops in Idlib, then just sending in a few hundred more with their vehicles is not going to rescue the Turkish and jihadi position, while giving the SAA some new targets. If Turkey is going to turn this into a military confrontation, it better have a military plan, or else its soldiers could get into serious trouble.

Posted by: David G | Feb 3 2020 18:45 utc | 9

Clueless Joe | Feb 3 2020 18:25 utc | 7 somebody said they want Alaska back...something about the deal being a lease.

Posted by: Walter | Feb 3 2020 18:55 utc | 10

One wonders if the U.S. has convinced Turkey to act in Idleb ...

One wonders why there wasn't more skepticism of the "Erdogan is turning East" meme. Erdogan's Islamist orientation makes a true partnership with Russia uncertain at best.

What will Erdogan do now? Will he raise the stakes to support his beloved head-choppers?

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 3 2020 18:59 utc | 11

Thanks for the excellent coverage b.

Here is another HD map which also shows the Turkish posts and the distance to Idlib.7km !
https://iswnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Southern-Idlib-3-2-20.jpg
The M5 road North to Aleppo shows the Turkish post at al Eis. Which is a strong point that was bitterly fought over when Aleppo was liberated.

The next map shows the section immediately North of al Eis, where the SAA claim that "Zaytan" (or Zitan) has been taken. (I think there is still some doubt about that as there seems to have been heavy fighting and the loss of a T-90). From there troops would be in a position to cut any Turkish reinforcements coming down the M5 from the North, isolating Saraqib and quite a few Turkish posts at the same time.
https://english.iswnews.com/10917/map-hts-recaptured-zitan-saa-lost-another-t-90/

Curiously, on the second map a Russian "observation post" is also shown at Hadher, directly opposite the Turkish one at al Eis. But since this "encircling of Saraqib" movement seems to have been well thought out - maybe it isn't a surprise after all.

Posted by: Stonebird | Feb 3 2020 19:04 utc | 12

I'm confused about Erdogan's end goal for intervening in Syria. On one hand, he is doing the bidding of the US by fighting with the Syrian govt; on the other hand, he wants to suppress the Kurds, who are backed by the US. Those two things seem to be at cross purposes.

Also, he's pissing off Russia by towing the NATO line about Crimea, while wanting to buy Russia's S-400's in the face of US threats. That's not playing both sides for leverage, but just a confused and befuddled foreign policy stance.

Question: if the Syrian govt retakes all the occupied territories, would that result in the Kurds being pressed out of Syria and across Turkey's border, or would that mean the Kurds find accommodation with the Syrian govt and therefore continue to be a thorn on Turkey's side?

Posted by: occupatio | Feb 3 2020 19:05 utc | 13

Re: Red Ryder | Feb 3 2020 18:22 utc | 6

"My"opia is not a strategic weapon."

Brilliant, LOL. thanks, I intend to use that

Posted by: Perimetr | Feb 3 2020 19:12 utc | 14

oops, didn't intend to put " inside Myopia lol I still need a personal assistant

Posted by: Perimetr | Feb 3 2020 19:13 utc | 15

Is it true that the RuAF has a no-fly zone over all of Syria now? What about East of the Euphrates? If Erd tries to run bombing runs, what does RuAF do?

Posted by: casey | Feb 3 2020 19:21 utc | 16

@ JR 11

One wonders if the U.S. has convinced Turkey to act in Idleb ...

One wonders why there wasn't more skepticism of the "Erdogan is turning East" meme. Erdogan's Islamist orientation makes a true partnership with Russia uncertain at best.

Perhaps Erdo is returning a favour.....doing a little mischief in Syria for the orange one.

Quid pro quo; it's what's on the Menu - or Let's make a Deal.

this is what the senator said: Re-read very slowly what this is about.

Trump Eases Pressure on Turkey's Halkbank as Favour to Erdogan - Senator

Senate Finance Committee Senior Democrat Ron Wyden accused President Donald Trump of intervening - at the behest of Turkish President Erdogan - in a Treasury Department probe of allegations that Turkey's Halkbank evaded US sanctions against Iran, according to a letter Wyden sent to US Attorney General William Barr on Monday.
"Reports indicate that President Trump promised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Trump would use his authority to halt any further enforcement actions against the bank and that Trump consequently instructed you [Barr] and Treasury Secretary [Steven] Mnuchin to interfere in the matter", Wyden wrote.


Posted by: Likklemore | Feb 3 2020 19:23 utc | 17

The Russian military suggests that it was Turkey's own fault for being attacked because it did not coordinate with Russia:

"Turkish units were relocated inside the Idlib de-escalation area on the night from February 2 to February 3 without notifying the Russian side and came under fire opened by Syrian government forces at terrorists west of Serakab".

Erdogan does not realise he's a minor player compared to Russia and he cannot behave as if Idlib is a Turkish province.

Posted by: Brendan | Feb 3 2020 19:23 utc | 18

Thank you B...I guess more mirrors are being added to the hall of mirrors.

Posted by: Gregory | Feb 3 2020 19:35 utc | 19

Stonebird @12--

The terrorists defenses face East primarily as that was seen as the most likely avenue of attack. Fixed defenses by definition are immobile and vulnerable to flanking attacks, France's Maginot Line is the historical example. SAA's done numerous flanking operations for two reasons--they're easier and cut down casualties. In some places, Aleppo and Ghouta are two good examples, the only recourse is a frontal assault, but even then you still look for flanking opportunities in an urban setting. That's the plan of attack to deal with the terrorists outside of Aleppo--to take them from behind while pinning them down from the front.

occupation @13--

The Kurds would remain in Syria having found accommodation with the national government as was stated today in this long thread which provides the following important note in its middle:

"Russia's main role is to play the role of a strong guarantor and mediation between us and the Syrian government; It must ensure the development of political dialogue and a positive political agreement, and this is what we hope from Russia."

As for Erdogan, he's in trouble politically at home, a point seldom discussed here as it's difficult to get good information.

Posted by: karlof1 | Feb 3 2020 19:38 utc | 20

Thank you for another good article. What strikes me is that so many automatically go to, or refer to, Mr Putin as the voice of reason these days and not Washington DC or any NATO country. I never thought that I will live to see the US become less trusted than our old enemy, the commies. BUT, as I say in my books, the Russia of today is not the USSR at all. Anyway, for those interested in interesting military history, I recently discovered this myself, see https://www.georgemjames.com/blog/the-fuhrers-commando-order-origins. I wanted to post on the open thread but got busy and forgot. GMJ.

Posted by: GMJ | Feb 3 2020 19:40 utc | 21

@ Brendan 18

Turkey is still in NATO, realizes his strategic importance and from time immoral has always played both sides.

2019 Erdo got what he wanted from Russia - TurkStream. The pipeline is operational and income flows.
There is this; when one plays both sides of the fence, one day the fence will disappear.

Action in Saraqib.
Top Russian, Turkish diplomats hold phone talks, says source in Turkish ministry

The phone call comes amid deterioration in Syria

ANKARA, February 3. /TASS/. Turkish and Russian Foreign Ministers Mevlut Cavusoglu and Sergey Lavrov have held phone talks on Monday, a source in the Turkish diplomatic agency told TASS.[.]

Earlier, the Turkish Ministry of National Defense said that Turkish positions near the town of Saraqib in Syria’s Idlib Province had been shelled, killing six soldiers and wounding nine more. Ankara claims that the Syrian army was behind the attack in spite of the fact that it was timely informed about where Turkish forces are located. Erdogan later revealed that Turkish aviation and artillery had retaliated, striking 40 targets in Idlib and "neutralizing 30-35 Syrians."[.]

Posted by: Likklemore | Feb 3 2020 19:44 utc | 22


Erdogan has a serious delusion/problem with seeing himself as the head of a pan-turkik empire. The US in particular plays with fire feeding this obsession.

Instead ofjust supporting militants to destabilize and keep clients dependent (ala gladio), the empire seems to be mobilizing to use the Turkik racial entity as a block to the Russian-Chinese OBOR connectivity in Asia.

While the militants destabilization technique works in Africa and Arab areas, it lacks traction in central Asia -although it cannot be ignored as a potential trigger (Pakistan-India)

For central Asia, the US is mobilizing pan-turkik feelings. Putin and Xi run a great risk mollifying (putin) or financing (Xi) such delusion.

It all starts or ends in Syria.

Posted by: les7 | Feb 3 2020 19:52 utc | 23

More from Reuters
Turkey's Erdogan says developments in Syria's Idlib 'unmanageable'
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday developments in Syria's northwestern region of Idlib had become "unmanageable", after Ankara said Syrian shelling killed five of its soldiers there.

Russia, Turkey agree to observe deal in Syria's Idlib: Ifax cites Russian foreign ministry

The foreign ministers of Russia and Turkey on Monday agreed that a deal over Syria's Idlib region must be observed, amid rising tensions between opposing forces, the Interfax news agency cited the Russian foreign ministry as saying.[.]

Posted by: Likklemore | Feb 3 2020 19:57 utc | 24

For Erdogan the Arabs are racially inferior and will be pushed aside. Kurds, unfortunately for them in Erdogans eyes, are a kind of half-breed that threatens turkik racial purity- they will be subservient or cease to exist.

Posted by: les7 | Feb 3 2020 19:58 utc | 25

@16, Casey

Not true. Russian doesn't even have a passive "no fly" via S-400s. They don't have full coverage from the installations at Latakia and Tartus. A no fly zone requires fighter jets to maintain the clear skies. Russia has no intention of suppressing US air power over Syria (eastern sector). They use de-confliction talks daily to separate aircraft.

Also, Assad has not asked Russia to impose a "No Fly Zone". At times, for Russian military uses, they have announced zones where all aircraft are warned to stay clear. But those are common practice and of limited duration, usually for military exercises.

Posted by: Red Ryder | Feb 3 2020 20:05 utc | 26

les7 | Feb 3 2020 19:58 utc | 25

No, wrong. Such talks are just for domestic consumption and aim at a part of the oppositions supporters, the nationalistic CHP circles. For Erdogan the main legitimate bond of all societies should be the religion. He has no prejudices against Kurds as „Non-Turkic“. He was forced to cooperate or be even subservant to the panturanistic deep state. This Neo-Ottoman nonsense is the result.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 3 2020 20:06 utc | 27

@27

Try telling that to Kurdish people who were sentenced to death in Turkey for simply having on their person a scrap of paper written in Kurdish

Posted by: les7 | Feb 3 2020 20:15 utc | 28

The thing is, which even the totally Pro-Russian Southfront admits: Turkey has more (economic) leverage over Putin as the other way around.
The Turk Stream pipeline is critical for Putin, even more with the long delays North Stream II faces.
With the renewed US-Turkey allaince, Putin and Turkey payed lobbyists like Peskov have manuvered themselves into a pretty shitty situation. Again, as even Southfront admits, this could damage all of Russias new prestige in the middle east.
And again, as Southfront even notes, Russia would not admit it if Turkey did strike the SAA.
In the middle east, if you can not protect your protectorate, you are seen as impotent. SF seems to believe Turkey did indeed strike the SAA. And with SF sources in Russian military circles, i would not doubt that.
Either Putin now gives Erdo a bloody nose, and pushes back hard, Russias standing will be severly damaged.
And everything concerning the middle east Putin build up in the last years, will threaten to unravel.
I sad for over a year this day would come, while many here dreamed of some mythical/esoteric alliance between Turkey and Russia. That delusion now finally comes to its predictable end.
Good riddance.

Posted by: DontBelieveEitherPr. | Feb 3 2020 20:18 utc | 29

@27

Or how about the ethnic cleansing (crude estimates of up to 1/2 million disappeared) of Kurds in Turkey during the mid-1990s? The Kurds I met had plenty to say about why it happened

Posted by: L | Feb 3 2020 20:19 utc | 30

Another potential contributing factor to Erdogan's erratic behaviour is the Lira is being squeezed again similar to when the US sought to pressure him to release the US pastor and to dissuade him from purchasing the S400's. They got the pastor when the Lira hit 6.18 to the USD after a sudden mercurial rise.

It's a hair shy of 6 per right now after another rapid devaluation. Turkey is very vulnerable in this area due to a large amount of foreign debt denominated in USD that's due in the near term. Last time this happened many experts opined the 6 per level was a watershed moment which threatens to bring down the Turk's economy if it continued for brief period. Erdogan isn't as popular nor as resilient politically as he used to be especially with inflation remaining a huge problem and interest rates that would give an American oligarch a heart attack. Pocket book issues are important everywhere.

"It's the economy stupid."

That said I read an article earlier about Netanyahu flying directly to Moscow after taking a victory lap with the 'Don' and instead of his usual all about Binyamin bloviating, he busied himself heaping effusive praise on Putin..who btw demurred. Deal of Century stone thrown into still waters rippling far and wide methinks. Maximum pressure on the 'Don's' good friend Recep, the Mob Boss who resides in his new Gilded quarters /Palace in Turkey.

Lastly a worthy read. A story of hope and tragedy;

Leila Janah, Entrepreneur Who Hired the Poor, Dies at 37

"A child of Indian immigrants, she created digital jobs that pay a living wage to thousands in Africa and India, believing that the intellect of the poor was “the biggest untapped resource” in the world."

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/30/business/leila-janah-dead.html?searchResultPosition=2

Probably the only chance a significant % of the public will have to hear about her and her passion. Sadly the mobsters steal the headlines, and capture most of the attention.

Posted by: Bubbles | Feb 3 2020 20:21 utc | 31

Sultan Erdogan seems to have forgotten who saved his ass when America backed and supported a coup against him in 2016.

If it weren't for Russia, Erdogan would likely be in a Turkish prison somewhere being subjected to America's Abu Ghraib-style "naked pyramids" or even worse.

Turkish state terrorism in Syria must be ended.

Posted by: ak74 | Feb 3 2020 20:23 utc | 32

@23 Pompeo said this today in his trip to Kazakhstan: “More than a million persons of Oyghour and Kazakh Muslims have been imprisoned in China’s coercive camps. I demand all of countries to try for ending the China’s pressures. Also we want the international community to act for providing the security of the Oyghour and Kazakh Turks, that are trying for flee from China and refuge in another country.”
He added: “Pioneering of Kazakhstan in returning the terrorists and their families from Iraq and Syria, is promising and should be considered by other countries.”

Posted by: Gary M | Feb 3 2020 20:26 utc | 33

Likklemore @ 22

2019 Erdo got what he wanted from Russia - TurkStream. The pipeline is operational and income flows. There is this; when one plays both sides of the fence, one day the fence will disappear.

Or, as John le Carre said in 'Funeral in Berlin', 'if you sit on the fence, they'll run the barbed wire right through you.'

Posted by: Barovsky | Feb 3 2020 20:37 utc | 34

L | Feb 3 2020 20:19 utc | 30

"Or how about the ethnic cleansing (crude estimates of up to 1/2 million disappeared) of Kurds in Turkey during the mid-1990s?"
That happened, indeed. But it has not to do much with Erdogan and the AKP. Their issue was not ethnic at that time and later they had to partner with such, ähm, "circles" in Turkey. The idea to kind of dissolve Turkey out of NATO was always stupid.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 3 2020 20:40 utc | 35

@33 Gary

"We want the international community to act for providing the security of the Oyghour and Kazakh Turks, that are trying for flee from China and refuge in another country.”
He added: “Pioneering of Kazakhstan in returning the terrorists and their families from Iraq and Syria, is promising and should be considered by other countries.”


Thanks, I didnt see that... Theres the US,repurposing terrorists and mobilizing/fanning the pan-turkik connection. Pompeo did the same in Uzbekistan recently.

Posted by: les7 | Feb 3 2020 20:41 utc | 36

ak74 | Feb 3 2020 20:23 utc | 32 / Yeah, I agree, The Erdo is ungrateful. And yer right, though I'd a said water-bored or perhaps the "Hillary shiv" routine, the posterior bit.

The cat might really be nuts, you know...I mean they used to say "transient schizophrenic psychoses" from the stress... And he's in a pressure cooker. Yeah, he's probably nutty.

Putin said of Politics, "It's a bit like mathematics" .

In those maths I'm sorry to observe, there exists a very low coefficient of remembrance of past favors..

Posted by: Walter | Feb 3 2020 20:41 utc | 37

Yes, folks what the heck the turks have to do with Idlib or syrian territory, IF it is guaranteed that neither russia nor Assad will support their enemies - the Kurds - from builing up a state in northwest syria? It is a done deal that there will be no kurd state there.

Never trust a turk is the old saying, but who s insisting on trying make it true? They deserve a new direct treason from the empire and from europeans just to find out who is the faithful partner.

Posted by: augusto | Feb 3 2020 20:45 utc | 38

If the Syrian AF attacks the HTS scum in close proximity to any of the observation posts and more Turks are killed, will Turd.O.Wan bring the Turkish AF into play in Syria?

Posted by: chet380 | Feb 3 2020 21:02 utc | 39

Gary M #33
Good to hear. Pontious will be repatriating IS and Al Qaida terrorists to California then? The guy is a lying turd just like his USA boss and his little friend Erdoghan.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 3 2020 21:14 utc | 40

Pompeo did the same in Uzbekistan recently.

Posted by: les7 | Feb 3 2020 20:41 utc | 36


trump Regime Secretary of State Job Description; Evangelical Terrorist in Chief..

Differs somewhat from Obama era Red Queen of the Clinton Dynasty, and the not so artful dodger long john Kerry who wasn't above alluding to the good works of Brown Noses @ Bellingcat to justify the proxy war his Country wrought upon the innocents in secular Syria by decree of King Barrack the 1st, a fully accredited member of the Court of the Betters than the rest of us .

So much reality, so little time.

Posted by: Bubbles | Feb 3 2020 21:19 utc | 41

SAA already entering the outskirts of Saraqib!

The fact that Turkey has to step in itself is a sign of how just weak its Al-Qaeda proxies have become. The SAA is taking town after town with little or no resistance from HTS.

Posted by: 0use4msm | Feb 3 2020 21:33 utc | 42

£33 & @36

I am crying at this moment. Pompeo cares about muslims! Maybe they can take of the muslim ban temporary and take them to US

Posted by: ARN | Feb 3 2020 21:34 utc | 43

I really have a hard time understanding Turkey. In addition to the list in the article Turkey is depending on Russia for:

1) S-400 - these deliveries are not complete
2) Akkuyu nuclear power station - this is not ‘a’ reactor, it is 4 reactors and $25B financed by Russia (although they are looking for a Turkish investor)
3) Turkstream gas pipeline - just connected amidst great fanfare ... with others leaders present (Serbia, Bulgaria, ..)
4) The general economic trade.

Erdogan has stated support for Syrian integrity.

So, why not just get out of Idlib (let the headchoppers die or send them to Libya), make a deal with Syria to control the border in the East against the Kurds and be done with it?

Posted by: SteveK9 | Feb 3 2020 21:35 utc | 44

The idea that Russia is so desperate for gas sales to Turkey or for that matter the EU is wrong. Russia wants to build good relations with as many countries as possible. But, in terms of trade, what does Russia need that they can’t make for themselves or buy from the Chinese? I keep thinking that at some point Russia will simply say, ‘fine, you don’t want the gas, get it elsewhere, instead of putting up with all this garbage.

Posted by: SteveK9 | Feb 3 2020 21:37 utc | 45

So much hate against Turkey without a proper knowledge of its recent history. People blame how Turks misbehave against the Kurds, but they do not even know Turkey had a Kurdish president and prime minister in 80s. Erdogan was actually quite warm towards Kurds at the beginning of his tenure and a lot of ethnic rights were granted to them by his government which the history of Turkey has never seen before (causing a lot of friction between his party and the nationalists). They were politically welcome into the parliament, which never happened in the history of Turkey. But this changed after US fueled up its efforts to oust Erdogan and the political and militia arm of the Kurds were the first ones to collude with US, as is the cases in Syria and Iraq. That is why they turned bitter against each other in the first half of the last decade. Both sides are no angels!

It is easy for Putin to talk about the international law in Syria but act brazenly against it in Libya and Crimea. It is all about influence. Just as Russia holds a considerable influence and historical ties in Crimea and annexed it by holding a referendum that was illegal according to the Ukrainian constitution (which openly states that territorial changes must be approved by a national vote involving all Ukrainian citizens), Turkey's acts in Idlib region must be seen in the same direction. I am sure that if Turkey held a referendum in Idlib region, which would be illegal according to the Syrian constitution, and asked if they wanted to join Turkey in the cover of self-determination, a high majority would say yes.

Posted by: Innocent Civilian | Feb 3 2020 21:41 utc | 46

chet380 @39--

Erdo has already tried to get his jets to help but the RuAF won't allow them into Syrian airspace. And SAaF have bombed next to those Turk OPs.

Roughly an hour ago the SAA's main push began into Saraqib from the West. Again using superior night vision advantage. An additional attack axis is reported to be aimed at Sarmin, beyond which is Idlib City.

Posted by: karlof1 | Feb 3 2020 21:42 utc | 47

@ 37 Walter

"The cat might really be nuts, you know...I mean they used to say "transient schizophrenic psychoses" from the stress... And he's in a pressure cooker. Yeah, he's probably nutty."

I once heard the statement "To do a great evil the devil requires a good man with one or two proound weaknesses. A really evil / insane man will not do, for the simple reason that he will never gain enough power to do a great evil."

Theology aside, the point remains. Erdogan is not insane. He has a couple profound weaknesses one of which is the racially motivated pan-turkic delusion which the Americans play on.

2nd, like many of pointed out here is his support base, which is partially religious and partially economic. The economic side is definitely crumbling.

Putin seems to be gambling on the pressure he can apply via the economic side. That pressure is essentially a negative pressure. Once it's gone there is no control. The pressure the Americans exert is a positive, visionary pressure. It remains regardless of the economic or religious support that Erdogan can put together. It may well be the stronger of the two motivations.

Posted by: les7 | Feb 3 2020 21:44 utc | 48

Posted by: SteveK9 | Feb 3 2020 21:35 utc | 44

What Erdogan says and what the wannabe Don trump says holds about the same value. Both bullshit in the hope it will give them leverage.

US Presidents have used bullshit and attacks against innocents to feather their political nests because stupid people are easy to fool, Erdogan's base are even dumber than dubya's base which has become trump's base. They never learn anything. Erdogan has an advantage in his hood that even trump doesn't have, he completely destroyed any media that opposed his quest to be the Dictator that rules with an iron fist. His religious base (think US Evangelical base) love that strong man stuff. Even though the US evangelicals have to be the world's worst hypocrites. Sad that, BIGLY sad.

Posted by: Bubbles | Feb 3 2020 21:54 utc | 49

@46

Hmmm .. Crimea vs Idlib

90 + percent of the crimeans spoke Russian as a mother tongue. 90 + percent of the inhabitants of idlib spoke Arabic as her mother tongue, not Turkish.

The Turkish Army invaded the Idlib province. Arabs were forced to flee, some of them residing here in Canada. Turks have been resettled in their place throughout the province. Of course with ethnic cleansing it's easy to get the census that agrees with you. For you to equate Idlib and Crimea is beyond laughable.

Just what is your agenda oh innocent one?

Posted by: les7 | Feb 3 2020 21:59 utc | 50

Even if Turkish military supplies arrive to outposts, they will still be surrounded and unable to supply their terrorist. Turks will spend their time bored, gambling, drinking and watching porn. Their morale will sink.

Posted by: El Cid | Feb 3 2020 21:59 utc | 51

les7 | Feb 3 2020 21:44 utc | 48

"He has a couple profound weaknesses one of which is the racially motivated pan-turkic delusion which the Americans play on."

Again - no. This is not the motivation of Erdogan, but the motivation of other players so important that he must follow them. These do not accept his Muslim Brotherhood stance. There is, if you like, a partnership between both attitudes.

Any US-hope of using the pan-turanistic dreams against China and Russia is in vain. It may create unnecessary disturbances but will fail at the end.

Innocent Civilian | Feb 3 2020 21:41 utc | 46

The part dealing with the Kurds is plain political dreamstuff. They were accepted as long as they were not Kurds, but Turks from the perspective of the Kemalist nightmare. But ok, I guess it is difficult to get access to unspoilt informations where you live. This is what I assume.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 3 2020 22:02 utc | 52

Posted by: Bubbles | Feb 3 2020 21:54 utc | 49

My question was not whether Erdogan can manipulate his people (that seems to be true of every country), but what advantage does Erdogan see for himself or his country in persevering in Idlib, with the possible result of a blowup with Russia, that will be very costly indeed ... for him and Turkey, not Russia.

Posted by: SteveK9 | Feb 3 2020 22:13 utc | 53

Posted by: In Turkey | Feb 3 2020 22:04 utc | 53

What makes you think this is true? What I mean is not an insult, I'd like to know your reasons for believing this.

Posted by: SteveK9 | Feb 3 2020 22:14 utc | 54

The problem with a a strategy of constantly trying to play one side off against the other is that nobody will end up trusting you.

Posted by: Sid Finster | Feb 3 2020 22:15 utc | 55

DontBelieveEitherPr. | Feb 3 2020 20:18 utc | 29

You might be overestimating the importance to Russia of Turkstream and Nordstream2. Russia had a financial insurance policy in operation, the new gas pipeline into China that started pumping last month. Also Turkstream is not properly connected into the EU yet so Turkey is the only customer of Russia for its gas. Also, given the slowdown in Germany's economy, there would probably not been much of a net gain in gas sales even if Nordstream2 had been completed, just a re-balancing of Nordstream1 and Ukraine transit.

Posted by: JohninMK | Feb 3 2020 22:19 utc | 56

" The pressure the Americans exert is a positive, visionary pressure. It remains regardless of the economic or religious support that Erdogan can put together. It may well be the stronger of the two motivations."

Posted by: les7 | Feb 3 2020 21:44 utc | 48

I would be most interested in your assertion " The pressure the Americans exert is a positive, visionary pressure."

Could you indulge me and explain that in detail..as in a significant way?

Posted by: Bubbles | Feb 3 2020 22:27 utc | 57

The video evidence from Libya is that Turkish APCs etc are of questionable quality. This could give the Turks in Syria the same problems.

Another problem for the Turkish Army is that they are facing a battle hardened SAA with CAS. The Turks and their proxies are not and don't have air cover.

Posted by: JohninMK | Feb 3 2020 22:27 utc | 58

In Turkey | Feb 3 2020 22:04 utc | 53

If such a claim is not 100% assured by sources that have no sympathy for the political interests of Erdogan it is just a matter of political intelligence to believe that stuff or not. The Turks are no champions in this discipline.

@All: latest news about this Michael d'Andrea available?

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 3 2020 22:42 utc | 59

The Syrian military has probably gamed out the different possible scenarios with Turkey ahead of time. They probably have plans for responding to this Turkish activity.

Posted by: Edward | Feb 3 2020 22:48 utc | 60

what advantage does Erdogan see for himself or his country in persevering in Idlib, with the possible result of a blowup with Russia, that will be very costly indeed ... for him and Turkey, not Russia.

Posted by: SteveK9 | Feb 3 2020 22:13 utc | 54


See my post on the rapid devaluation of the Turk Lira. The Sultan for all his bravado, survives at the pleasure of the US / UK based Money Changers.

I repeat, "It's the economy stupid". Erdogan gained support for being a hopey changey Economic miracle worker who stroked the Turk version of the Evangelicals. He became a God like figure, then his aura began to wain and he lost elections in places like Ankara where his 'faith based' Make Turkey Great Again movement began.

He's a nut, and nuts are dangerous. Like Netanyahu.


I read an article some time back when Binyamin Nyet and the Erdogan were jousting, the headline was "Dictator vs. Tyrant" I thought it substantive and appropriate.

Posted by: Bubbles | Feb 3 2020 22:55 utc | 61

When someone in Erdogan's position seems to being acting in an unaccountable fashion, it is best to take a look at the military. The Turkish Army is, by far the most powerful in the region. And it is traditionally allied with "the west", NATO and the US. It hosts US bases, it is linked at all levels with the Pentagon. The relationship is not unlike that in most Latin American countries where the military invariably is the US government's last resort.
Almost invariably: in Cuba and Venezuela bringing the Generals under control was the primary aim of the revolutionaries. But it is hard to do, as a glance at Egypt reminds us.
It could be that Erdogan is under pressure from the original deep state which has been oriented against Russia throughout its existence.

Posted by: bevin | Feb 3 2020 22:58 utc | 62

It would be unreasonable to suggest that the president of Turkey is lying on national TV about the number of
Syrian soldiers killed by Turkish jets. The Russians and other western sources could easily expose Erdogan if
he's lying. Neither the Russians nor the Syrians denied the aforementioned attacks by the Turks.

Furthermore, the Jihadis presently have stepped up their attacks even capturing a Syrian T-90 tank.

Posted by: In Turkey | Feb 3 2020 23:12 utc | 64


Both the Russians and the Syrian government denied wannabe Sultan Erdowan's claims.

Posted by: Bubbles | Feb 3 2020 23:18 utc | 63

Perimetr #14

"My"opia is not a strategic weapon."


Thank you Perimetr, that is too good. Perhaps Erdogan has been toking on too much of His"opia and has attained delusional nirvana. He should stick to Lebanese hashish.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 3 2020 23:20 utc | 64

uncle tungsten | Feb 3 2020 23:20 utc | 66

"He should stick to Lebanese hashish."
May be that is the problem? Insiders say that Lebanese hashish makes you settled, or "stoned", but that the Turkish stuff lets the thoughts fly higher, and higher...of course he would have smoked Turkish, what else?
Some of his people
In Turkey | Feb 3 2020 23:12 utc | 64
apparently did that.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 3 2020 23:26 utc | 65

In Turkey | Feb 3 2020 23:12 utc | 64

Guess what the Syrians would have used?

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 3 2020 23:28 utc | 66

In Turkey #64

Erdogan is the president of Turkey ... It would be unreasonable to suggest that the president of Turkey is lying on national TV about the number of Syrian soldiers killed by Turkish jets.

Erdoghan is lying. Its what he does AND he is delusional with regard to both Syria and Libya. He is a a mere wimp in a soldier's boots and is therefore unbalanced. Ekrem Imamoglu will thrash his arse from the lands of the Turks to the lands of the Armenians and then bury in New Kurdistan.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 3 2020 23:28 utc | 67

Hausmeister #69

Guess what the Syrians would have used?

Apologies for jumping in while In Turkey gets his next comment approved /

The Syrians will be smoking Victory Cigars from Cuba, what else?

Then they will smoke the last of the scheming murdering turkish proxy rats out of their lands.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 3 2020 23:36 utc | 68

Turkey trying to block Syrian army advance towards Saraqib

Earlier, the Russian center for reconciliation in Syria said Turkish military personnel had come under an attack of Syrian troops in Idlib, because Turkey had failed to notify Russia about the movements of its troops in advance

MOSCOW, February 3. /TASS/. /TASS/. Turkey has sent a convoy of armored vehicles to Syria’s Idlib Governorate in order to block the advance of the Syrian army towards the town of Saraqib, located on the intersection of Latakia-Aleppo and Damascus-Aleppo highways, the Al-Watan daily reported on Monday.

According to the paper, Turkish military is strengthening observation posts on the approaches to Saraqib and is installing one more post on the Kfar Amim-Abu al Duhur line. Turkish armored vehicles have also been spotted in al-Mastum and west of that town. A camp of the Turkestan Islamic Party, an extremist organization made up of Uyghur mercenaries, is located there.[.]

So what's going on with Erdo? Is it a complete falling out with Russia?

Today Erdo held a joint presser with Ukraine's Zelensky. Both signed an agreement.
LINK
Turkey reiterates its support for sovereignty, territorial integrity of Ukraine, says President Recep Tayyip Erdogan [and repeated]
"no recognition of annexation of Crimea"

What a snake whisperer?
A friend like Erdo, you keep him very close.

Posted by: Likklemore | Feb 3 2020 23:37 utc | 69

@ 67 Bubbles

You link to a report that is from the Turks, not the official Syrian News Agency which is not listed nor quoted. It's all Turkey pronouncements.

That it is published as news in Lebanon means nothing.

https://www.sana.sy/en/ . This is the official news agency of Syria, SANA.

What is important is the Russian military says no Turk planes flew over Syrian troops. I believe them not the Turks.

No question the trapped rats of al Nusra and Uyghur terrorists are fighting the Syrians strongly. They are on the verge of being wiped off the face of the earth. Russian military came to kill them.

And there is a report in Russian media of four FSB officers killed in IED or mortar attack in the region, their injured bodies then executed by the terrorists. Big payback will be coming if this report is fully factual. Colonel Cassad had photos of two of the fallen today.

Posted by: Red Ryder | Feb 3 2020 23:40 utc | 70

Posted by: In Turkey | Feb 3 2020 23:22 utc | 67

Al Masdar is far from an official Syrian Government News Agency. Sana is. Tass, a Russian gov't news source also denied Erdogan's Syrian Observatory for Human Rights type claims.

Push come to shove, SOHR is probably a more reliable than the Sultan, but that isn't saying much. SOHR reporting comes from jihadi approved so called journalists / activists. Useful idiots.

Leith Fadel who operates Al Masdar says he's based in Lebanon. He doesn't have correspondents on the ground in Syria he can use as sources. He seems to be more of an aggregate for other sites / sources than anything else. And he doesn't have a ground game to check the authenticity of his twitter like reports. Sometimes he's right, sometimes not so much.

Posted by: Bubbles | Feb 3 2020 23:40 utc | 71

I personally hope that the Syria government avoids getting drag into a outright war with Turkey due to Erdogan’s latest zany scheme to slice off a part of Idleb. However, in comparing the two forces it's important to remember that Turkey's military still hasn't fully recovered from Erodogan's earlier purge after the failed coup. Erodogan fired or imprisoned something like 5000 troops and more than a dozen senior officers and replaced them with loyalists and So far their track record against the Syrian Kurds isn't something to brag about. I suspect Russian diplomacy will once again come to the rescue and arrange some face saving escape for the Turkish troops.

Posted by: Kadath | Feb 3 2020 23:45 utc | 72

The SAA have been though a real baptism of fire for the last 10 years, constantly fighting. Surely that must count for something against fairly inexperiences Turkish troops?

Posted by: Dave | Feb 3 2020 23:47 utc | 73

"@ 67 Bubbles

You link to a report that is from the Turks, not the official Syrian News Agency which is not listed nor quoted. It's all Turkey pronouncements."

Posted by: Red Ryder | Feb 3 2020 23:40 utc | 74


I didn't link to that, an Erdogan / trump like fanboy did. The cat below noted below;

Posted by: In Turkey | Feb 3 2020 23:22 utc | 67

Posted by: Bubbles | Feb 3 2020 23:49 utc | 74

Saw this on Fars News on FB.


"Fars News Agency
10 hrs ·
Turkish Military Hits Syrian Troops Near Strategic City in Idlib, Damascus, Moscow Reject Casualties Claimed by Ankara"

And for evidence of " The pressure the Americans exert is a positive, visionary pressure. "
How about the positive pressure they put on Iraq, or libya, or Afghanistan, or Haiti, or Russia, or China, or 8000 sanctions , or, or ,or and on and on.

Posted by: arby | Feb 3 2020 23:51 utc | 75

bevin | Feb 3 2020 22:58 utc | 63

Just because the Turks have the largest army in NATO or the ME doesn't mean that they are the most powerful, as you say, or the most capable.

Dave | Feb 3 2020 23:47 utc | 79

You hit the nail on the head. The Russian tutored SAA performance in Idlib is straight from the classic Red Army playbook. Smash morale and positions with artillery and CAS then advance through gaps and turn to attack the enemy from the rear.

The SAA OPSEC seems to have improved dramatically as well as, apart from a few posts and favoured outlets, there is virtually no mobile phone videos on social media. It looks like the SAA has evolved back into a proper disciplined army again, well capable of recovering all its territory.

What is happening now should be seriously worrying the Israelis re the Golan and the US east of the Euphrates.

At the end of all this the SAA will be the most powerful army in the ME.

Posted by: JohninMK | Feb 4 2020 0:05 utc | 76

@ 58 Bubbles

Erdogan definitely has a pan- turkic vision.

In terms of the psychology of motivation, for Erdogan, this is a positive motivation. It remains regardless of the obstacles that get put in its way.It is something to build towards, the emphasis on building. Again this is from the perspective of Erdogan and other pan-turkik nationalists within Turkey. Therefore, any deals that are made to achieve this goal remain valued until it is fully realized. This potentially gives the Americans a lot of long-term leveridge.

By contrast, the economic problems Turket faces are essentially negative obstacles to be overcome. The deals that are made to achieve that only last as long as a situation is bad. Once the economic solution is in, or an alternative is found, there is no need to keep the deal. Putin's pressure point is short term and Russias role can be replaced.

In making this comment I am only trying to make clear the power of the motivation that the two power blocks seek to use on Erdogan

My own views on the value, possibility or utility of a pan-turkic grouping is something quite different

Posted by: les7 | Feb 4 2020 0:06 utc | 77

@58 bubbles

In other words, I'm not an Erdogan fanboy, a Kurdish crooner, a Trump-eter, a Putin promoter, or Fukus freak.

Although, if it came down to it, I guess I would have to cheer on the SAA

Posted by: les7 | Feb 4 2020 0:18 utc | 78

@In Turkey #82:

That's how they captured Afrin, thanks to Russian acquiescence.

Afrin was captured because the stupid, over-confident Kurds refused to let the Syrian Army come and help them. They only came to their senses and accepted the Syrian Army assistance after most of the Kurdish-held territories were already lost. Russia advised Kurds to accept the Syrian Army’s help, but Kurds rejected Russia’s advice.

Posted by: S | Feb 4 2020 0:21 utc | 79

In Turkey #73

A small addition to your insistence that turkey invaded Idlib etc... The full picture needs to be appreciated. Syria has been at war on numerous fronts. At the time of the attempted turkish annexation of Idlib, Syrian army was fully stretched retaking the East at Deir Ezzor and the south at Darra along the Golan border and relieving the pressure on Damascus. Given the belligerent neighbours to the south and west - Jordan and Israel - and turkey to the north and north west, they chose to secure the South first as the Northern belligerent was partly 'in the camp'.

It is in the context of achievability and resources that Syria made that strategic decision. Plus working with Russia to have somewhere to accommodate the terrorist close to their least capable ally. Had Syria taken Idlib first and sent the terrorists South they would have been fully in the arms and support of USA and its Jordanian and Israeli vassals.

Assad acts in order to protect the Syrian people as best he can with the limited military capability that he has. He will protect the capitol as would any sensible leader and his persistent work with the Russian 'deconflit strategy' has worked well while he maintains his military strategy of gradual liberation and minimal soldiers deaths.

Erdoghan on the other hand is acting out a different military strategy (somewhat like the invading wehrmacht) and opening many fronts, one far from home and across vulnerable seas.

The rout in Idlib may well happen quickly, I have no idea but if exit fever grips the jihadis in Idlib then Erdoghan may be well advised to give them all safe passage to Libya - IF he can. He is trapped by strong political challengers emerging at home, powerful turkish chauvinism that will not tolerate more land being ceded to 'foreigners from the east' let alone vicious killer refugees. And he is trapped by his Moslem Brotherhood expectation of success which he MUST achieve. Otherwise the garrote awaits him.

He has just been conned by the USA who's only goal is to prevent his full use of the S400 in turkey. The USA will go to extremes to prevent that weapon system being installed and rendered operational anywhere. His citizens will not be entirely happy with that capitulation as it paints a picture of failure.

IMO Erdoghan has found his Dien Bien Phu in Idlib AND Libya. It is only a matter of time before he is demised.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 4 2020 0:22 utc | 80

Posted by: les7 | Feb 4 2020 0:06 utc | 84


This is what you said;


" The pressure the Americans exert is a positive, visionary pressure. It remains regardless of the economic or religious support that Erdogan can put together. It may well be the stronger of the two motivations."

Posted by: les7 | Feb 3 2020 21:44 utc | 48


This is what I asked;

I would be most interested in your assertion " The pressure the Americans exert is a positive, visionary pressure."

Could you indulge me and explain that in detail..as in a significant way?


Your response doesn't even come close to answering the simple question I posed to you.


You seem to be endorsing US foreign policy that in essence is whatever it takes to feather the nests of rich psychopaths regardless of brown folks body count? Christians too. Like,"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. "

By proclamation of the Pigs.

Posted by: Bubbles | Feb 4 2020 0:28 utc | 81

I don't understand why ISIS and the rest still hang on. Surely they must see how they keep getting knocked back into less and less territory.

Posted by: arby | Feb 4 2020 0:33 utc | 82

Erdogan is spinning like a whirling dervish for domestic purposes. Idleb will be liberated.

Posted by: Peter | Feb 4 2020 0:39 utc | 83

@ Innocent Civilian 46

I am sure that if Turkey held a referendum in Idlib region, which would be illegal according to the Syrian constitution, and asked if they wanted to join Turkey in the cover of self-determination, a high majority would say yes.

If only Syians were allowed to vote, I doubt this would be true. If; however, all the foreign fighters and their families were given a vote, there might be a majority in favour. But it would beg the question, should foreigners be given any say in Syrian internal unity?

I think your understanding of the Crimean situation is also simplistic. Crimea was an autonomous republic within Ukraine Oblast, and should properly have had a say in whether or not it was incorporated into Ukraine. My understanding is that they tried to declare themselves independant when the Soviet Union broke up. Regardless of what the Ukraine constitution said, the Crimean constitution gave them authority to leave Ukraine.

Posted by: Lorna MacKay | Feb 4 2020 0:39 utc | 84

@88

What is it about the psychology of motivation that you don't understand? If you dangle a carrot on a stick,the donkey keeps pushing forward in the vain belief he will get it.

Whether it's the American dream, the coming of some Messiah, or World Peace; it's astounding what lengths people will go to in the hope that their dream can be fulfilled

When Pompeo calls on Kazakhstan to interfere in China on behalf of a turkic group there, completely unrelated to the kazakhs except by turkic racial identity, he is stoking a pan-turkik dream.

Pompeo is also indirectly threatening Erdogan by backing the Kazakh leader as a international spokesman to realize this role, a role that Erdogan had played up until recentlywhen he fell out with the Americans over the S400.

I also have little doubt that Pompeo is also waving the red flag in front of the bull in preparation for a lance to be driven home at a suitable time


Posted by: les7 | Feb 4 2020 0:59 utc | 85

I too see the forms of the Red Army in the battles SAA and Ru fight.

I too think the SAA must now be in superb fighting shape.

I note Sputnik >
Sputnik
@SputnikInt
·
4h
DETAILS: According to the Russian MoD, a group of 15 #WhiteHelmets members arrived in the #Idlib de-escalation zone on 1 February to prepare a chemical provocation. https://sptnkne.ws/Bp77 @mod_russia

Which, if we are to consider the implications, means that the Turkish and their client thugs agree that the SAA and the Ru are, ah, "better at the business"...

They always double because if they are seen to have lost....well, they have to keep Toto away from that Green Curtain.

Posted by: Walter | Feb 4 2020 1:03 utc | 86

OMG! OMG! I have to share this fantastic RollingStone article with you. You're not going to believe it, but it's true damn it! It's truuue! It's worth the entire read.

Active duty military donations bernie sanders vs Trump

F-U Trump!

Posted by: Circe | Feb 4 2020 1:17 utc | 87

...well...
We´ll see "who is who" in the next HOURS, I dare to write.
BTW, "friend recep" could be a perfectly "bibi´s cousin", by his hypocrisy... And, WTF the turkish are doing THERE, in SYRIAN SOIL..??? It´s time to get rid of them TOO.

Posted by: Mikhail | Feb 4 2020 1:18 utc | 88

You know how the Clown of Orange loves surprises, not, mind you that this 'sprize has much to do with Syria and is probably destined for an enrichment facility in Iran...you know how they always send the best...

say it ain't so>

(fas)>"The USS Tennessee (SSBN-734) at sea. The Tennessee is believed to have deployed on an operational patrol in late 2019, the first SSBN to deploy with new low-yield W76-2 warhead. (Picture: U.S. Navy)
The US Navy has now deployed the new W76-2 low-yield Trident submarine warhead. The first ballistic missile submarine scheduled to deploy with the new warhead was the USS Tennessee (SSBN-734), which deployed from Kings Bay Submarine Base in Georgia during the final weeks of 2019 for a deterrent patrol in the Atlantic Ocean."


Naturally a think like that might have an effect in Syria...

Posted by: Walter | Feb 4 2020 1:38 utc | 89

Do not forget Turkey is still a member of NATO. He is working with Trump to break up Iraq so that the US can set up permanent military bases in Iraqi Kurdistan. This is a revival of Joe Biden’s 2007 plan to carve up Iraq. No doubt, [Neosultan] Erdoğan is planning on charging transit fees for Iraqi and Syrian oil being looted by the US/Kurds. This may well lead to a major escalation in Syria.
Notes
1. Biden plan for 'soft partition' of Iraq gains momentum By Helene Cooper July 30, 2007
Link: www.nytimes.com/2007/07/30/world/americas/30iht-letter.1.6894357.html
2. Russia Obliterated Turkish Column in Idlib While Erdogan Claims Imaginary Retaliation Against Syria By Gordon Duff, Senior Editor Feb 3, 2020; Link: www.veteranstoday.com/2020/02/03/intel-drop-russia-obliterated-turkish-column-in-idlib-while-erdogan-claims-imaginary-retaliation-against-syria/

Posted by: Paul | Feb 4 2020 1:51 utc | 90

Paul | Feb 4 2020 1:51 utc | 99

I was thinking about that general idea. There's never a really great time to lose, is there? It's a tough fight.

At The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists a somewhat bizarre essay with some false assumptions nevertheless presents a fair true conclusion...one that may dovetail to the JollyW76/2 banger units (see 98)

title> The US has a backup plan to kill the Iran nuclear deal. It could spark a crisis at the UN. (so they can make cover for the w76 cure...)

Yes, Paul, The NATO membership with Turkey suggests awful stuff if they use a nuke on Iran, doesn't it? But it may not happen, and probably not for a while, times can change.

Posted by: Walter | Feb 4 2020 2:00 utc | 91

J 83;
The most powerful army in the me. You,ve shaken me from a desire to speak of the masterful move of the SAA,
Bypassing saraquib, and going straight for m4. i was hoping they would do that ....but i was thinking m4 as the prize, when what they have accomplished is to threaten idlib city! I am humbled by the brilliant move. As for the most powerful army in the ME ....it only matters in defence ....since they do not have the air power to support them, except in the defence of the homeland. Love this site ....thanks, B

Posted by: James sullivan | Feb 4 2020 2:15 utc | 92

Im not convinced this is real. I suspect this is a carefully choreographed act. Erdogan cannot simply abandon his Jihadists or turkey will pay the price sooner or later for doing so. He must at least look like he is fighting for them. Erdogan cannot want the jihadists to return to turkey. Shipping them to libya and letting them die in syria is the best bet for erdogan. He must know now that russia and iran will not let him keep idlib and Russia has him by the balls

Posted by: Alaric | Feb 4 2020 2:33 utc | 93

@ 86 S.. thanks for saying that, although it appears the poster 'in turkey' is not registering much of what others say here..

@ 89 arby.. isis in syria are paid mercenaries that can't easily walk away.. desertion isn't really an option for them either...

@ in turkey... errorgan has been sending what headchoppers he can to libya as fast as he can, because he knows the clock is ticking down.. what he says for the home crowd and how he acts with regard to the covert war he has had on syria since 2012 especially forward, hasn't been lost on many neutral observers either... he supported the wrong side and he is still coming to terms with it.. as someone else said - i would believe russias comment much quicker then i would believe anything errorgan says here.. he is in a compromised position and doing his best to get out of it.. now, i know you won't believe me, as you are not believing what others say here on this thread.. so be it...

@ 102 alaric... yes.. i agree - carefully choreographed is a good way to explain errorgans work here.. it seems to work on those '' in turkey '' who are not able to fully appreciate the wider picture here..

Posted by: james | Feb 4 2020 2:45 utc | 94

The pressure the Americans exert is a positive, visionary pressure. It remains regardless of the economic or religious support that Erdogan can put together. It may well be the stronger of the two motivations.

Posted by: les7 | Feb 3 2020 21:44 utc | 48

Is it a satire?

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 4 2020 3:02 utc | 95

Slightly off topic. It was how long ago, two us bases were targeted covincingly ...and the us has not smashed the offending country. Are the us military having an ‘Oh shit!’ Moment? I wonder It’s not just the exact targeting of the missles .....it’s the fact another country had the balls to stand up to you. bernstein should have included a song about the jets’ leader taking a hit, But he can’ allow his gang to see he’s been hurt. That is Trump saying, we had no hurts, a few headaches .....ratcheting upward in successive tellings, until we find out there were many injuries. Glad to see west side story works just as well when its west syria story, or the iraq story ......

Posted by: James sullivan | Feb 4 2020 3:22 utc | 96

What would happen in Turkey if Erdogodan were to step on a loaded missile?
What would happen in Syria? How would Russia respond?

It is speculatively clear to me; the plan is to nuke Syria, NE Yemen and Afghanistan into submission; that is why Russia has backed off, there is a gentlemen's agreement neither of the two nuclear powers will infringe the other ?

Posted by: snake | Feb 4 2020 3:53 utc | 97

Paul @99:

[Erdogan] ... is working with Trump to break up Iraq so that the US can set up permanent military bases in Iraqi Kurdistan. This is a revival of Joe Biden’s 2007 plan to carve up Iraq.

Civil war in Iraq seems very likely - and the end result is likely to be some kind of partition.

We can't look at Idlib, or Libya, or NE Syria, or Iraq in isolation.

Erdogan's is using, or could use, Turkey irregulars (headchoppers) in each of these.

Erdogan wants parts of Syria, parts of Iraq, and to dominate energy in eastern Med. In many ways, the "Sultan" is at odds with Russia, Syria, and Iran. Yet wishful thinking of anti-Empire/anti-USA commenters cause them to believe that "Erdogan has turned East".

What has Erdogan actually willingly given up to strengthen Turkey's relationship with the Russians? He's agreed to Astana but still wants Assad to leave. He's agreed to disarm the Idlib headchoppers but he did NOTHING to reign them in. He took a chunk of NE Syria in conjunction with USA/SDF - this manuever came as a surprise to Russia. He's moved thousands of head-choppers to Libya to fight against the side that Russia supports there.

IN RETURN FOR EMPTY STATEMENTS AND EMPTY PROMISES, Russia has provided Turkey with South Stream, S-400s, constructing a nuclear reactor, and increased trade.

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 4 2020 4:02 utc | 98

@107 Formatting mistake.

Only the first sentence is from Paul @99.

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 4 2020 4:04 utc | 99

The Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties hotline has received information from two Idlib residents that White Helmets and HTS are preparing to stage a false-flag chemical attack in Maaret al-Artik (Ma‘arrat al ‘Atiq), a village northwest of Aleppo. About 15 White Helmets members, headed by HTS member Mahi al-Din al-Am who took part in filming the 2017 fake chemical attack in Khan Shaykhoun, have arrived in Maaret al-Artik on February 1, bringing with them 400 liters of chemical solution. The Russian reconciliation center has called on the Turkish side “to exert all possible pressure on militants in the Idlib de-escalation zone’s sector it controls to prevent the provocation with the use of toxic agents”. (TASS)

Meanwhile, Eliot Higgins gives a presentation on White Helmets’ “chemical weapons specialists”. One problem, though: a slide behind him shows a “specialist” who forgot to zip his Hazmat suit. (@PhilipWatson_)

Posted by: S | Feb 4 2020 4:39 utc | 100

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