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

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


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


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


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

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@ s those fuckers should shove it up the ass of the opcw crew in servitude to the west as quickly as possible.. then they can get a colonoscopy and figure out what is what..

Posted by: james | Feb 4 2020 4:57 utc | 101


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

I am pointing out a fact. A country cannot annex the other one based on the fact that the majority of its population speaks the same language. If it is against the law, it is against the law. And if you are breaking it, you cannot say you respect the international law and expect others to behave the same. This is the type of outlaw behavior that is causing international law to degenerate into kindergarten arguments. I also remind you that Russia is a "federation" and there are many different ethnic groups that talk different languages. So, the language is certainly not a basis for annexation.

Turkish army did not invade Idlib province. Do you mean Afrin? I mean where do you get your facts about Turks resettling into Idlib region. Do you mean Turkey resettles its citizens to Idlib region? Even to claim that is plain outrageous.

Posted by: Innocent Civilian | Feb 4 2020 5:00 utc | 102

the troll returns... ignore...

Posted by: james | Feb 4 2020 5:03 utc | 103

Les7 @ 28

27 is correct. That is exactly how the AKP evolved between 1995 and now. Their remaining in power depend entirely from the goodwill of the relatively small neo-nazi Turanist and openly racist "National Movement Party"(MHP) but also on a lot of cooperation from the opposition CHP, the Republicans (the hyper-nationalist Single Party of the Ataturk military dictatorship until recently.)

Yes, Kurds have been hanged or disappeared until relatively recently for having a single scrap of writing in Kurdish but that is not that simple any longer. You need more up-to-date sources.

Posted by: Piero Colombo | Feb 4 2020 5:22 utc | 104

I don't know much about the current Syria / Turkey / Russia situation. But something just jumped out at me. The people who have really serious big-time interests in this whole mess are actually the Europeans/Germany. This imbroglio could somehow lead to the failure of the Turkstream pipeline project, which, I assume, they anxiously anticipate. Maybe they are to ones who are holding their breath here. And if it does fail, how will they react?

Posted by: blues | Feb 4 2020 8:54 utc | 105

The main tenor is "SAA advances fast despite Turkish troops." Maybe, not "despite", but "because of"? The Turkish troops block also the movement of HTS & Co., they got firsthand intelligence from within. They may serve also as safe harbour for civilians until the front is over (any infos concerning or contradicting this?) So, if this would be the case, we are spectators of a big theater, good cop bad cop, where the bad one needs to show how bad he is, still HTS & NATO should buy the story.

Posted by: BG13 | Feb 4 2020 9:27 utc | 106

Unfortunatelly there is a scenario that involves more than 700.000.000 casualties, that would involve Turkey in a war across Syria with Russia, later Turkey being backed by Israel and Britain with possible removal of Erdogan first, then another coop in Turkey with Russia invading Jerusalem, a 6 months cease fire then a NATO campaign at Instanbul, Black Sea, Red Sea, loss of bulk of western navies near Persian gulf, and Russia nuking China mainland and China responding with full invasion from the south and mainly Germans from the west. Israel goes off the map along with Turkey and Russia. Global climate catastroph, earthquakes with nobody being the winner.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it, generals o this world.
Arms to plowshares.

Posted by: Qparticle | Feb 4 2020 9:31 utc | 107

It's my understanding that Crimea very reasonably wanted to leave the Ukraine when Ukraine wanted to leave the Soviet Union. This was prevented by military force. Yeah, extreme nationalism has a tendency to drown in its own hypocrisies. Such conflicts that naturally happened in the wake of the Soviet Union and many seem unresolved to this day. Crimea's presence in Ukraine has, it seems, never been legit. On top of that, the elected government in Ukraine was overthrown by coup, which essentally annulled the constitution. For Ukraine partians to scream "constitution" now is a bit like Trump screaming "how dare Iran renege on the Iran agreement!" It perhaps could be called a form of lawfare.

It sounds as though the US jerked Erdogan's chain hard enough to get him to snarl at Russia. The goal of this may have been to make sure that Russia would not make any noises against Trump's big move to crush international law via the Ultimatum of the Century. If so, the strategy may have backfired, perhaps pushing Russia to finally state the obvious, that Trump's FU of the Century contravened international law (not to say, broke the effing back of international law). Trump need not have worried, tho. Putin will continue to tacitly support Israel's aggressive moves. It's very creepy.

Posted by: paul | Feb 4 2020 9:38 utc | 108

snake | Feb 4 2020 3:53 utc | 106

Nuclear countries have amassed a huge stockpile of nuclear weapons both costly and ineffective. The strategy behind this is that when the need arrises to be able to saturate a target with warheads and eventually some will manage to detonate. It would be worst for a country to actually land a nuke at an andversary and that weapon not exploding, with the inflicted country later parading the exhibit at national fora. The agressor would be painted in a corner as the bad guy also with nukes that don't work, to be made a quick meal by the rest of the international community.
Nukes do not really work as they have made the public to believe. It would need a huge number of parameters to actually work just right. They don't really understand the science behind this despite trillions wasted, this is why they been developing more exotic projects that only at a later stage involves kinetic warfare. Nukes do not just work everywhere or at any randomly chosen time, it's the nature of the game.
You are free to just call me crazy if you like. I might just be another crazy person posting crazy random stuff in random forums.

Posted by: Qparticle | Feb 4 2020 10:09 utc | 109

Piotr Berman #104

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?

I am inclined to say it is not satire but rather a machine generated troll post. There are many ways to destroy independent media and the AI systems in the employ of propagandists are exploring this method right now. My immediate response is to starve them.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 4 2020 10:14 utc | 110

James sullivan #101

Bypassing saraquib, and going straight for m4. i was hoping they would do that ....

Thank you James sullivan, that was my hope too a few days ago when I saw a map and compared it with G Earth and realised that the bypass and highway was the better move. The threat of attack on their western flank was minimised by the terrain and their approach to the highway was optimised. Ditto their next move north although the western flank is more vulnerable. Creating a cauldron around Saraquib at the risk of an exposed advance requires a lot of trust in air cover and exclusion of enemy air assault.

Thanks b.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 4 2020 10:25 utc | 111

@Qtardicle | Feb 4 2020 10:09 utc | 119

You are free to just call me crazy if you like. I might just be another crazy person posting crazy random stuff in random forums.

Well let's just say that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof and you ain't providing any. Ever. You may take the first "extraordinary" as a very diplomatic euphemism, by the way.

Posted by: Lurk | Feb 4 2020 10:26 utc | 112

Re; White Helmets and PR tactics

Not so long ago I saw a twitt that that a Hospital in Idlib shut itself down because one of the terrorist groups was putting up communication equipment on their roof. Painting a bulls eye on a target?
Sorry no link to back this up at the moment. (from memory, but "refinding" a twitt from a week ago is hard)

Posted by: Stonebird | Feb 4 2020 10:34 utc | 113

It would be a huge strategic mistake for Erdogan/Turkey to support an independent Kurdish North Iraq.

Even though the current de-facto rulers in that area are the Barzani clan, who are sympathetic to Turkish interests, there is a real chance that PKK or other radical Kurdish groups could oust the Barzanis and make a grab for power. Then Turkey would have a neighbour state ruled by Kurdish separatists, which is a nightmare to Turkish nationalists.

On another note, now that Syria seems to be stabilizing and there are even good perspectives for a constructive settlement with the Kurds in North East Syria, Erdogan better play nice with Assad, or else Turkey can look forward to decades of deliveries of sophisticated anti-tank missiles to the PKK. A multiple of the amount that Turkey passed to HTS and TIP. Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Posted by: Lurk | Feb 4 2020 10:52 utc | 114

@115 BG13

Talking about theater. I remember a speech by Bashar al-Assad which he gave to troops in Idlib Provence a few months ago where he compared the battle around Idlib to a theater act with many chapters. The US being the director, producer, and playwriter in one person in addition to several actors with Turkey playing the "star role". Everything the "thief Erdogan" is doing is on behalf of the US to which he is a "slave".
You can take these words as you like but it seems - and many have already pointed that out - that Erdogan's seemingly flip-flopping is due to the economic and political pressure his masters are forcing upon him

Posted by: Vato | Feb 4 2020 11:07 utc | 115

I have to admit Russians and Syrians played Erdogan masterfully, but what is the real deal here?
It is evident they have been setting Erdogan a trap inside Syria with accurately judging Erdogan temper tantrums that it would later result in an escallation planned for a possible outcome of heavy loses on the Turkish side. This is happening as we speak. So far so good, but why? Russians now seek a plan for lowering the Turkish moral because after July 7 2019 in Greece a new government was elected (actually is the same rightwing gang that bankrupted them) and this gang of imposters, sellouts and right wing sociopaths have full ties with the Israeli Mossad and US Pentagon deep state. This relationship goes all the way back for their families since April of 1967 where 150 Israeli army + 50 Mossad were landing in a IAF C130 military plane at the Elevsis (Eleusina) militari airport near Athens. The move was to ensure that a US-British backed Military coop would go as planned, because CIA wouldn't take responsibility of such operation. The resulting 7 year military Junta in Greece was responsible for the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 where the Junta collapsed. Israel also backed Turkish invasion shifting sides from Greece to Turkey, with a listening ship disguised as a medical ship anchored near southeastern Cyprus. The Greek left since then has a tradition of backing Palestine, Lebanon, Iran in the ME against Israel.

The Russian move in Syria is because the Israeli Mossad-tied government in Greece might have agreed with Donald Trump to give Turkey a piece of Greece (Aegean) excluding Russia from making any direct deals with Greece in the future.
If you ask me situation concerning Greece and all continuously shifting back-room deals currently in the region is just more rope the Israelis and Erdogan can use to hang with in the close future.

Posted by: Qparticle | Feb 4 2020 11:45 utc | 116

@ james | 2
Have to admit that hen I first heard this news I was stunned. But then when the dust settled it became clear that it was more than likely a propaganda stunt as b has implied.
Where is all the heroic footage - TR spends massive amounts on serials and news 'footage' by way if propaganda, it is impossible that such an audacious strike would not have been prperly accompanied by mass media footage to be played and replayed in the months to come.
We must remember that Erdogan's position at home is almost entirely based on propaganda supported by draconian governance of the media and social media. Meaning that white helmets footage still accompanies claims of 'civilian massacres' and 'assad regime' etc. Every arena that Erdogan has aggressively forced himself which into such resounding 'heroism' is failing and yet there is no such news in Turkey. What happened to his saving Libya? Taking control of the East Med? Saving Palestinians? Not to mention the serious problems Turkey faces domestically. He can not risk being seen at home as a snakeoil salesman and an unsuccessful one at that! )))))))))
Had the loss of soldiers in Syria gone 'unpunished' Erdogan would have lost serious credibility. Hence the desperate propaganda campaiugn which no matte how half-baked is still all over the loyal media in Turkey. Geobbels would be proud!

Posted by: Egor7600 | Feb 4 2020 12:16 utc | 117

Red Ryder | 6
excellent points. And frankly he is not stupid enough to do so. He has no energy option in the futire without Russia and he does not have the time to again change sides and save his 2023 mission.

The problem is that he is very much being cornered in every arena. He has no allies. Even Qatar would not think twice about dropping him.

For this reason, whether the strike happened or whether it is pure theatre - he has done it before - his aim is a show of strength where in fact there is nothing but subservience.

At the same time. It may be that he will display worst judgement should he be too harshly cornered. So, there is still potential for serious aggression. But it would be swiftly countered and brough to a halt.
(In my humble opinion of course ))))

Posted by: Egor7600 | Feb 4 2020 12:42 utc | 118

Seems Lavrov put Erdogan in his place by detailing Turkey's failed commitments related to the agreement on Idlib. Lavrov:

"Unfortunately, at this stage, the Turkish side failed to fulfill a couple of key commitments that were supposed to solve the Idlib problem altogether. First, they failed to separate the armed opposition, which collaborates with the Turks and is ready for dialogue with the government, from the terrorists for the Nusra Front which turned into ‘Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’,'

""The second aspect connected with risks and threats originating from the Idlib de-escalation zone, involves moving hundreds of militants, including Nusra and ‘Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’ members, to Libya, for taking part in escalation of fighting in that country,'

"'I would like to underscore again, considering all factors I’ve mentioned, Russia cannot solve this problem alone, but it can fight for unconditional and meticulous fulfillment of agreements on Idlib. This is what we’re talking about with our Turkish partners.'"

Erdogan's meek reply to the above truths was to say he didn't seek confrontation with Russia. Russian media are now openly writing about Turkey's support and collusion with the terrorists as apparently it wasn't previously or as directly. That will broadly hurt the Turkish economy thus increasing domestic political pressure on Erdogan.

Overnight developments show SAA consolidating gains by enlarging its spearhead to the East and West of its advance toward Saraqib, which is now surrounded on all sides except the North, the newest gain on the West was just announced. Further North of Saraqib along the M-5, a cauldron was sealed bringing the FEBA to the M-5's Eastern edge as this new map depicts.

Posted by: karlof1 | Feb 4 2020 17:33 utc | 119

Erdogan has seen the Light! .

Erdogan said that Turkey will not quarrel with Russia because of the situation in Idlib

Yandex translation:

Moscow. 4 Feb. INTERFAX.RU Ankara does not make sense to clash with Russia in connection with the situation in the Syrian province of Idlib, said on Tuesday the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"No need to get involved in the conflict or in a serious dispute with Russia at the moment, we will discuss everything, but without malice, taking into account that we have (RF - if) is a joint having a special strategic character of the initiative", - quotes the edition of Sabah President, told reporters aboard the plane while returning from Kiev.

However, he said that Turkey conveyed to the Russian inability to close eye on the continuation of the conflict in Idlib, the death of civilians and the new Exodus of the population to the border of Turkey. The President recalled that as a result of actions of the Turkish armed forces in response to the attacks of the Syrians was "neutralized" 76 Syrian military.

"Operations of the Turkish armed forces in Idlib became a serious lesson for the regime (of Syrian President Bashar - if) Assad. Turkey will not stop and with determination will continue operations in Syria," in turn cites the news Agency "Anadolu" Erdogan's words.

He also called the shelling of the Turkish military in Idlib "an open violation of the agreements on Syria" and vowed that supporters of the Syrian government "will pay for their actions."

Earlier, the Turkish authorities announced that on the night of 3 February, under artillery fire from Syrian government forces in Idlib fell to the Turkish military. Then Turkish air force struck back at targets in Syria, said Erdogan. The Turkish leader said that the death toll in the shelling of the Turkish military in Idlib was eight people - seven soldiers and one civilian.

At the Russian Centre of reconciliation of the warring parties in Syria, in turn, said that the Turkish aircraft violated Syrian airspace, and the sky over the area of de-escalation in the region of Idlib controlled by the Russian military, which are not recorded strikes on the positions of Syrian troops.

The LIght was Putin, Russian Technology and Russian imports from Turkey and Russian tourists. As well, the fact that Russian Intel Services provides Erdogan with vital Intel to protect his regime and his life against CIA plots.

Posted by: Red Ryder | Feb 4 2020 17:59 utc | 120

Overnight developments show SAA consolidating gains by enlarging its spearhead to the East and West of its advance toward Saraqib, which is now surrounded on all sides except the North, the newest gain on the West was just announced. Further North of Saraqib along the M-5, a cauldron was sealed bringing the FEBA to the M-5's Eastern edge as this new map depicts.
Posted by: karlof1 | Feb 4 2020 17:33 utc | 129

A bit inaccurate. As of now, Saraqib has SAA on the city line from the west, 3-4 kilometers from the south, and ca. 10 kilometers from the east. There are four highways to the town, M5 south and north, M4 to Ariha and Saraqib-Idlib. M5 to the north and Saraqib-Idlib are in rebel hands.

So at this moment, Saraqib is on the front line, but there were quick advances of few kilometers per day, although not every day from every direction. One of the SAA tactics is to maintain a degree of freedom and unpredictability. For example, an advance through hills toward Ariha, perhaps to make the position from the west more solid by controlling some hills and lines of fire. The advance from the south-east was not predicted by Twitter strategists, deemed unnecessary -- but if the front segment was left with to few rebels, SAA can collect the pickings.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 4 2020 19:23 utc | 121

@karlof1 | 129

And this is where Erdogan continually misreads the Russians. He still hasn't learned that for the most part they speak only when necessary and therefore when they speak their words have weight. With Erdogan, of course, the complete opposite is true - maybe because despite his bluster his position internationally and domestically is far more precarious.
Russia has on several occasions, however, allowed Erdogan's claims to go unchallenged before, maybe that's where he got his courage, misplaced as it was.

interesting to see what happens from now on. Turkey will have lost considerable good will from Russia and Syria, let's not forget.

Also saw in the news that Iran will be building 30k apartments in Syria. That must grate with Turkey who so badly wants those construction contracts that it is playing with its soldiers lives in the North.

Posted by: Egor68500 | Feb 4 2020 19:33 utc | 122

@all - I deleted all comments by "In Turkey" as that person was posting OBVIOUSLY false information.

I also deleted responses to those comments.

Posted by: b | Feb 4 2020 19:37 utc | 123

I am pointing out a fact. A country cannot annex the other one based on the fact that the majority of its population speaks the same language. If it is against the law, it is against the law. And if you are breaking it, you cannot say you respect the international law and expect others to behave the same. This is the type of outlaw behavior ...
Posted by: Innocent Civilian | Feb 4 2020 5:00 utc | 102

Examples of outlaw behavior:

Morocco and Western Sahara. The native population was outnumbered by people from Morocco.

NATO and Kosovo. Native population was mostly supportive, and started to energetically suppress Serbian minority. Very violent process of wresting a territory from a larger state, but blessed by a multi-state organization.

Turkey and Northern Cyprus. Turkish justification has motifs of Crimean justification, unconstitutional change of government -- but in Greece, not Turkey! Forced movements of population, disproportionally favoring ethnic Turks.

Crimea. Justified by a violent change of government and new laws directed at the absolutely dominating ethnic group in Crimea, reducing the right to education on the mother tongue, outlawing popular political parties.

Golan Heights and de facto, wide swaths of West Bank. Forced movement of population, one-sidedly favoring Jews.

Quiz question: with of the above cases deserve sanctions?
Quiz question: which of Israel, USA, NATO, Morocco, Turkey, Russia respects international law?

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 4 2020 19:53 utc | 124

b #123

Thank you.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 4 2020 20:20 utc | 125

b | Feb 4 2020 19:37 utc | 123

Let me contradict that. He dished out what he apparently picked up in Turkey. Believe it or not: some people there think like this. In the referendum campaign AKP supporting ladies went from house to house. The local AKP party administration knew which are the potential targets to try to convince. They said bluntly: if you do not vote for Erdogan you have to defend your stance against Allah. And: in case Erdogan looses the Western countries will immediately start a war against us to grab land. The filter bubbles there, and in the controlled media, are not a bit less grave and idiotic than the alt right bubbles here in the West. Similar to QAnon.
If „In Turkey“ gave false information to correct that is better than to delete him. The weaklings can't digest the truth - in this way a professional AKP-Troll would sell it to his team. Works often. I am not sure if he is one.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 4 2020 21:41 utc | 126

In Turkey | Feb 4 2020 22:10 utc | 127

Snark, at the end of the tunnel there is no light but the unavoidable - Jews! Very popular in Turkey in certain circles. Can it be that this way of thinking is somehow genetically fixed? Kind of a hereditary disease? Normally one would rule that out but in certain remote landscapes, villages or subcultures (in modern cities) it is common.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 4 2020 23:02 utc | 127

@ 123 b - thanks... continue!!

Posted by: james | Feb 4 2020 23:24 utc | 128

Turkey held a Syrian refugee’s family hostage in a refugee camp, forcing him to fight for Jabhat al-Nusra. Another Syrian fought for Ahrar al-Sham, Free Syrian Army and Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki because he had no money to feed his family.

Militants Captured in Syria Reveal The Role of Turkey in The Creation of Al-Nusra

ALEPPO (Syria), Feb 4 - RIA Novosti. Militants captured by the Syrian military in the vicinity of Aleppo spoke about the role of Turkey in the formation of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group.

Both captured terrorists are Syrian citizens. One of them is a native of the village of Tybni [al-Tebni?] named Mahmoud al-Najim, call sign Abu Abdal, born in 1985.

According to him, at first a detachment of the Free Syrian Army, a secular opposition, was formed in the city. Then the Jabhat al-Nusra groups appeared in those areas and clashes broke out between secular and radical opposition.

Al-Najim and his relatives decided to flee to Turkey, but he was detained by the police of that country, which, according to the militant, forced him to join al-Nusra.

“They said that if I don’t work for them and fight on the side of Jabhat al-Nusra, they will kill or arrest my family. . . . They gave me a hundred dollars salary,” said the terrorist during interrogation by the Syrian military.

Al-Najim’s relatives, according to him, were sent by the Turks to the refugee camp and are “held as hostages”. “They said that as long as I work for Jabhat al-Nusra, my family is safe,” the militant said, adding that all supplies to the group come from Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

In the ranks of the terrorists al-Najim became a machine-gunner. In this capacity he fought all over Syria. When asked why the militants are firing on the city of Aleppo, he replied: “Our commander said that this would lead to civilians’ hatred for the Syrian and Russian militaries.”

The second prisoner, Hussein Abdul Aziz, call sign Abu Uday, a native of Deir Hafer, said that his family did not have enough money for food, while the militants recruited men and paid money.

“I signed up. Then I fought in different groups—Ahrar al-Sham, FSA, Zenki Brigade. All these groups were part of Jabhat al-Nusra,” he said during interrogation.

According to him, Pakistani and Afghan detachments are now fighting among the ranks of the militants. Abdul Aziz was captured, according to his statement, while his detachment was retreating to the Turkish observation post in al-Rashidin 5th Sector in Aleppo.

(RIA Novosti)

Posted by: S | Feb 5 2020 0:32 utc | 129

Is there any reason not to suspect the following as a possibility and perhaps also the most likely reason for Turkish actions in both directions (independence towards the east as much as possible yet subservience towards the west when they see no way to avoid it)?

The idea is that the US is threatening Turkey and Erdogan with a scorched earth tactic against Turkey:

· Turkey is a NATO member but often doesn't behave the way the US wants.

· The US needs much better access to Syria (and Iran, and maybe Iraq too), going through Iraq is not good enough, going through Jordan/Saudi Arabia (to Tanf) is not good enough, but going through a much more compliant or "Syrianized" Turkey will provide enough access to Syria (and Iran). "Fighting" terrorists in a failed Turkey and protecting far more important old US bases there than in Iraq is enough justification and of course it can easily spill over any border.

· The US wants to add more pressure on Russia, including on Russia in Syria (and in this way also against Syria), and make up for the "loss" of Crimea. This already has a name and nearly a century of existing plans: closing Bosporus directly or indirectly. One problem with doing this "on the sly" is the treaty governing the Bosporus and another is Turkey, both have the same solution: removing Turkey by plunging it into internal chaos and war.

· Russia will not be allowed into Turkey by the US and NATO thus Turkey is "a better Syria".

In short for Turkey this actually is about survival despite how a similar theme might or might not be used internally for party-political electioneering purposes.

If I was Russian I would be a little bit worried about this possibility. Well actually many more nationalities than Russians should be. If I was the US PTB I would be doing it, hell it might even be palatable to Erdogan himself compared to disappearing entirely (all manner of events can be manufactured and tweaked to create a fitting narrative (with or without a stub Turkey and/or Erdogan) including forcing NATO participation).

I have not been able to keep up with MoA for several days, I apologize if this has been mentioned or discussed somewhere etc.

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | Feb 5 2020 4:04 utc | 130

Quick, somebody call the White House/Pentagon/CIA for another Douma-style False Flag chemical attack!

Oh, the humanity!


Posted by: ak74 | Feb 5 2020 6:26 utc | 131

| 109 (banger type "N")"Nobody who has tried to make nuclear bomb has ever failed to get one on the first try" (Ted Taylor/Richard Rhodes) But it is true that they deter nothing, simply alter strategy a little and make vast fortunes for a few. Posting silly stuff saying they don't work is not helpful. They work.

Posted by: Walter | Feb 5 2020 6:46 utc | 132

S | Feb 5 2020 0:32 utc | 129

Thanks a lot for the link. The content fits to other informations from other sources.
Rich Syrians could just rent fancy apartments in Turkey, no need to fight for their sons. As long as money is there. So a function of these Turkish observation posts is to collect defeated dschihadists and bring them outside of the area of conflict. No wonder that Erdogan tries not to be disturbed.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 5 2020 9:09 utc | 133

The RT report video> " [fake] chemical attack in Syria already complete" as of Tuesday... This may add to the Yeibichai.

"oh! The Humanity of it!"

Just another part of the Big Con...

But about that Good Man, dear Jeffery> see> State of Florida v. Jeffrey Epstein, Case Numbers 06CF009454AMB and 08CF009381AMB

(cryptogone's link)

Posted by: Walter | Feb 5 2020 12:51 utc | 134

Dog barks, caravan proceeds.

As Karloff predicted by Tuesday night is true on Wednesday afternoon, with 7-8 villages taken over during the day, Saraqib on M5 is in a salient, and with the momentum is maintained, tomorrow it will be in a cauldron and a swath of M5 will be under SAA.

There were reports that jihadi groups, in response to SAA offensive, joined the front line in southern Aleppo, but not in Idlib. That is a bit surprising, but one explanation is that Russians maintain air supremacy and "hunt terrorists", showing results in videos, so however valiant, those jihadists were not totally suicidal and avoided open roads to south Idlib. If that is true, after one more push placing Saraqib in a cauldorn, SAA will encounter hard resistance, but then the resisting jihadis will be in a pincer. Interesting week ahead.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 5 2020 13:10 utc | 135

S | Feb 5 2020 0:32 utc | 129

Sometimes one needs some patience. This Novosti article confirms intelligence of 2012 about how the Turks pressed refugee men to be Dschihadist fighters. It would be absolute nonsensical to assume the Western countries would not have had full knowledge about that at that time. But nothing like in the MSM. Gives another smell to the „Welcome refugees“-narrative in Germany. Straight cheating of the own audience. But the non-coverage was good and the hysterical moralic defense against the usual stupid alt-right critiques perfect.
Another recent example: the UN-envoy for tortures, an indisputed guy of high reputation, Nils Melzer, a Swiss law expert, concluded that no Swedish lady had ever accused Assange of rape but that the Swedish police intentionally tried to build such a construct. In any decent part of the world such an incredible thing would be on all front pages of all media. If one googles for „Melzer UN Assange“ in Germany one will one report, public radio statiion, well after midnight, Neues Deutschland (formerly the main paper of the DDR-SED) and blogs. And nothing else.
So they replace censorship with attention management.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 5 2020 13:39 utc | 136

To thank the Sudanese army for its role in slaughtering Yemenis, the successor of Omar al Bashir and his former aid was "allowed"/"advised" to meet Netanyahu while in a summit in Ouganda.
Welcome to the new world.
As for Mauritania, on a visit to the UAE, the president was offered as an "help" for his country the equivalent of 1/3 of its GDP.
Is Mauritania going to have a bigger role in the war in Yemen? The UAE pretend it is now out of it but who believes them?

Posted by: Mina | Feb 5 2020 14:40 utc | 137

So a function of these Turkish observation posts is to collect defeated dschihadists and bring them outside of the area of conflict. No wonder that Erdogan tries not to be disturbed.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 5 2020 9:09 utc | 133

Is it what they do? There were no twits on what happens to the surrounded posts. The only "utility" I could observe is that they are served by supply convoys that also bring weapons to jihadists. But then those are defeated, they have to trust their weary legs to get out. Mind you, the distances in question allow to escape on foot. However, bombing s...t out of Turkish convoys is something that was not done yet.

Erdogan top concern is to maintain power by mesmerizing his "core supporters" and impressing the rest. He has media in his disposal, but he wants to fill them with something more impressive than stories on supporting tea growing -- not that there were no stories on that. E.g. his wife gracefully drank the most expensive domestic tea, as was duly photographed etc. If I recall, she developed taste for it. I stopped following Turkish news when the daily online newspapers got muzzled.)

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 5 2020 14:40 utc | 138

Headlines from the flagship of the English-language government-friendly media of Turkey, Daily Sabah:

Has Turkey entered the second phase in Idlib?
Burhanettin Duran
Long-standing tension between Turkey and the Bashar Assad regime just turned into a hot conflict. At this rate, everything else will take a backseat to military operations. The critical question is whether Turkey has moved to the "second" stage in Idlib – holding territory, reinforcing observation posts and exercising control around them, and enforcing a safe zone, 30-40 kilometers deep, for Syrian refugees and displaced persons.

The most recent escalation in Idlib occurred due to incessant violations of the cease-fire by Russia and regime forces, citing "terror attacks" despite no notable Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) activity in the area. Turkey maintained its patience to keep the peace. Meanwhile, the opposite side continued bombing civilian areas, including schools and hospitals. The regime's attempt to take the city of Saraqib and control the M5 highway after capturing Maarat al-Nouman was a deal-breaker for the Turks.

It is a thinly veiled secret that the regime wants to force Turkey to vacate its observation posts in Idlib. In the face of the Assad regime's reckless attacks, there was no option left but to ramp up military activity. Hence, Turkey reinforced its observation posts and heightened Syrian opposition activity.

This marks a transition from holding observation posts to holding territory. .....

Interactive show 'Parallel Realities' at Hungarian Cultural Center
The Hungarian Cultural Center in Istanbul's Kağıthane district began hosting the open group exhibition "Parallel Realities," curated by Andrea Kovács, on Feb. 6. Playing with...

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 5 2020 15:01 utc | 139

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 5 2020 14:40 utc | 138

Turkey - Erdogan - has a very real problem about what to do with Syrian refugees. Turkish papers did get "muzzled" but that does not necessarily make them propaganda instruments for Erdogan. This here is Hürriyet on Syrian refugees.

I believe everything I hear about the forced refugee recruitment for the Syrian (and Libyan) proxy war (basically poor people are paid to fight each other) same as the political problem of refugees and returning Syrian fighters for Erdogan is obvious.

There were some news recently that the US cooperated with Turkey in drone warfare used on YPG memebers whilst the US fought with a rebranded YPG in Syria. This programme seems to have been stopped now presumably to blackmail Erdogan.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 5 2020 15:03 utc | 140

Saraqib, the town at the intersection of the main highways of the province, placed in a salient after the quick advance of today:
area map

Turks set posts on three sides of Saraqib, it seems that in response, SAA will surround the town completely.

town map

The units that accomplished the big advance to the east, south-east and north-east of Saraqib belong to Republican Guard, the most famous 25 Division (Tiger Force) is the the west of town, twits say that it tries to advance north now.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 5 2020 15:38 utc | 141

Hausmeister @136: So they replace censorship with attention management.

Not exactly.

They replace State censorship with censorship by corporate lackeys ...

... and add attention management to the bag of tricks.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 5 2020 15:56 utc | 142

Hausmeister @136: So they replace censorship with attention management.

Not exactly.

They replace State censorship with censorship by corporate lackeys ...

... and add attention management to the bag of tricks.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 5 2020 15:56 utc | 142

Actually, the only novelty is that the management role in setting news content is more visible than before, at least to those who follow "fake news" like this site. And the management always followed the owners. Are owners more aggressive in setting the limits than in the past? I would think so, especially in the last four years, but it actually requires some study.

It could be that in the past, media could make profit on advertisements, subscription etc., and now the revenue shifted to more chaotic internet outlets. As a result, media is more in the grip of larger corporations and their values to the owners is mostly in influencing policies that in turn influence their profits. How important it is that a wider spectrum of information and opinion could improve revenue from media operations? A bit, but there are alternative strategies. You can improve taste and nutrition in chain restaurant, or put more effort in adding toys to children meals, sappy advertising etc., the same holds for media, cars etc.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 5 2020 16:27 utc | 143

Piotr Berman @143: "It could be that in the past, media could make profit on advertisements, subscription etc., and now the revenue shifted to more chaotic internet outlets. As a result, media is more in the grip of larger corporations and their values to the owners is mostly in influencing policies that in turn influence their profits."

How is the bolded portion above different from advertising?

I think the only real difference is that nowadays there is no room for anything except marketing in media products. From start to finish and top to bottom, media products are crafted to help sell the narratives that the elites depend upon for their wealth and power. There is now no longer any room to fit in a little truth.

Essentially, the corporate mass media today is just a nonstop 24X7 advertisement for capitalism and empire. That includes movies, sitcoms, and children's shows as well. Perhaps it has always been this way and nobody noticed?

Posted by: William Gruff | Feb 5 2020 17:06 utc | 144

Essentially, the corporate mass media today is just a nonstop 24X7 advertisement for capitalism and empire. That includes movies, sitcoms, and children's shows as well. Perhaps it has always been this way and nobody noticed?

Posted by: William Gruff | Feb 5 2020 17:06 utc | 144

There are infomertials, insets (e.g. a section paid by UAE), product placement in shows, and so on. But surely it is not everything, don't they still have a chess column, crosswords and other content not directly related to marketing? I actually stopped watching a few years ago. In any case, we agree that the content was always up to the owners, no censorship, sir! and the question is if the owner became stricter, or this is just our perception.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 5 2020 18:06 utc | 145

Unconfirmed info but plausible:

Saraqib is now in the hands of the Syrian army after the militants withdrew.

The Turks have retreated from some of their 'observation points'. Others are surrounded by Syrian forces.

Posted by: b | Feb 5 2020 18:09 utc | 146

Don't let the delusions of the results of monkeys inbreeding with donkeys drag us from the topic:

Syrian army liberates Saraqib from the moderate headchopping al qaida scum


Posted by: Lurk | Feb 5 2020 18:12 utc | 147

b @148 <-- Fantastic news! If this is true, then the speed of it suggests few casualties. The Syrian people could really use some fortuitous breaks like that.

Posted by: William Gruff | Feb 5 2020 18:22 utc | 148

Piotr Berman | Feb 5 2020 17:57 utc | 146

"I see that you have just returned from "Parallel Realities" exhibition at The Hungarian Cultural Center in Istanbul's Kağıthane district."

A pity that you apparently have no sense for great irony. An officially backed exhibition about Parallel Realities by - H u n g a r y? Didn't it make you drop your coffee on your keyboard?

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 5 2020 18:29 utc | 149

SAA did Not enter Saraqib yet - but M5 north of it is cut.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 5 2020 18:39 utc | 150

Info about the exhibition is cut=pasted from Al Sabah. Today's art news! Anyway, Turks and Hungarian may have common experiences and perspectives.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 5 2020 18:42 utc | 151

Piotr Berman | Feb 5 2020 18:42 utc | 151

"Anyway, Turks and Hungarian may have common experiences and perspectives."

Yes, and therefore Erdogans enforced mercenaries are now in Idlib.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 5 2020 18:48 utc | 152

@ Piotr Berman | Feb 5 2020 18:42 utc | 151

Maybe it's not yet fully secured, but multiple reports are that Al Quaida moved out and SAA is inside Saraqib.

Even Jihadi Julian is crying butthurt:

Julian Röpcke
To be very clear: I will never ever believe a word again of what @RTErdogan says. #Saraqib fell, surrounded by four newly-established #TurkishArmy "observation posts". What a farce.
7:12 p.m. · 5 feb. 2020

Posted by: Lurk | Feb 5 2020 19:04 utc | 153

Without air support fighting on flat ground is futile. And it doesn't seem like Turkey will send their F16's. Will be a harder battle to recapture the mountainous areas though.

Posted by: redrooster | Feb 5 2020 20:43 utc | 154

Below is a short posting from Xinhuanet about Syria

DAMASCUS, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- Syria's air defense was triggered early Thursday by a fresh Israeli missile attack over the capital Damascus, Syrian state TV reported.

The missiles, launched from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, targeted areas west of Damascus, as people there heard powerful explosions, said the report.

The air defense intercepted several missiles, and the exact targets are not clear, it said.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Feb 6 2020 2:49 utc | 155

Anna News has released an excellent 50-minute documentary on the liberation of Ma‘arrat al-Nu‘man. You can watch it via this tweet: click the “gear” button and select 1080p quality, then click the “full screen” button (watching via a tweet allows one to avoid YouTube registration).

There’s also a version with English subtitles you can watch via this tweet, but it has poor video encoding quality, so I recommend watching the original (there’s not too much narration).

Posted by: S | Feb 6 2020 4:35 utc | 156

In Turkey | Feb 6 2020 9:05 utc | 157

"PUTIN put Turkey in Idlib."

Now my 3rd trial to have you explain this argument. As fas as one can see to let some dschihadists escape to Idlib was a transitional (!) solution while at the same time Russia and Assad stressed that their next goals would be, of course, to restore the unlimited integrity of the Syrian state, including Afrin etc. as well. So whatever some Turkish nationalists may had hoped Russia never accepted the idea that Turkey is allowed to get a part of Syria and run it under their control. So nobody "put Turkey in Idlib".

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 6 2020 10:31 utc | 157

@ In Turkey | Feb 6 2020 9:05 utc | 157

If Putin invited Turkey into Idlib, he is now asking Turkey to leave. What is the problem ?

Posted by: redrooster | Feb 6 2020 10:55 utc | 158

I hope that today @b will not delete the comments of "In Turkey“.He argues from the typical Turkish alt right position. Like it or not this is an existing factor and one should take these positions into account. Turkish-Islamic synthesis and this overruled by hysterical conspirational anti-semitism may appear as a laughing stock but it is part of the entire Turkish reality. Erdogan uses it (partially) and ca. 30% of the populace believes in this filter bubble.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 6 2020 11:55 utc | 159

The sequence of events in Saraqib was a bit convoluted. It seems that the retreat of jihadists happen in stages, and the first report of Saraqib being taken over was based on the words of the first stage, while Turkey set extra makeshift posts around the town, ostensibly to make a stand against further advances of the regime. Suheil Hasan, the commander of the Tiger Force (25-th division), order his troops to stop for the duration of talks. Few hours later the evacuation was complete, two villages flanking Saraqib from the north were taken over by Republican Guard (i.e. from the east, Tiger Force being to the west of town), and it is not clear what the Turks from the post are doing.

In the meantime, the only success of the jihadist in the last month, reclaiming three villages from the advance of SAA and allies to the south-west of Aleppo was mostly revered (i.e. two of them are back, the third is in the indefensible position, in the middle of a shallow valley overlooked by fortified hills).

Among other events, it seems that Turkey announced a plan of transforming a site near Idlib that was a military airport of SAA, into their military airport, and Russian duly bomb the place.

Lastly, a profound difference in Daily Sabah, the voice of Turkish government. It seems that every day they have three editorials. On Wednesday two had authors with mustaches, and stated very combative positions, Turkey patience ended, the posture in Idlib will turn to active, regime advances shall be stopped. Today not a mustache in sight, clean-shaven commentaries with titles "EU should support Turkey in Idlib", "Idlib is not just Turkey problem". Third commentary is on coronavirus.

Yesterday, on economic pages, there were news about positive impact of coronavirus. China made a huge order of face mask (Turkey is a big exporter of brasseries, perhaps this allows to quickly increase face mask production), and there is also expectation that Russia will increase orders for produce -- they sanction EU produce, and Chinese supplies are expected to go down. Trade balance improved last year, deficit in goods equal to tourist expenditures, and the prognosis for 2020 improved. Seriously, Erdogan took care of nicely balanced trade, he over-promoted volatile investments in real estate, but after a radical devaluation (like in Russia), the economy is on a sustainable course. His diplomatic-military adventures are manic and incoherent, but with solid domestic benefits.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 6 2020 14:09 utc | 160

@Hausmeister | 160
I support your wanting to defend someone's right to express his or her opinion but the rest of your comment climing that 'In turkey's opnion is somehow representative of the 'alt-right' / the "Turkish-Islamic synthesis" is incorrect. In fact I have very rarely heard anyone posit the idea "Erdogan=Putin=Trump". It shows a complete misunderstanding of the complexities of the Turkish political environment.
I am now going to log back in using the handle 'in China' and comment on the Wuhan Virus … ))))))))

Posted by: Egor6850 | Feb 6 2020 15:30 utc | 161

@Piotr Berman

I shudder to think what an appearance of three bearded authors would signify. Probably DEFCON 1.

Posted by: S | Feb 6 2020 15:52 utc | 162

Rossiyskaya Gazeta reports ATGM use by Syrian opposition:

2018       63
2019 162
Jan 2020 50+
Looks like 2020 will be a record year.

Posted by: S | Feb 6 2020 16:02 utc | 163

Egor6850 | Feb 6 2020 15:30 utc | 162

„In fact I have very rarely heard anyone posit the idea "Erdogan=Putin=Trump" (and all those are servants of cryptic allmighty Jews)

This you will not find in official media or with AKP-supporters but with many of the Make-Turkey-great-again people of the ultimate right. They support Erdogan as long as they hope he may achieve such a goal.
According to the backward status of the country ("...It shows a complete misunderstanding of the complexities of the Turkish political environment.") the environment is not very complex, more like a salt lake with some left over trees at the edge. If one looks for factors that count.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 6 2020 16:40 utc | 164

Hausmeister | 164

So tell me. Who are the representatives of these ideas; ie. who in your informed opinion is/ are the public representatives of Turkish "alt-right" or "Turkish-Islamic-Synthesis"?
And what are the "factors that count" in your 'salt-lake' metaphor?
Look forward to your response.
You might want to contact 'In Turkey' for some detail. )))))

Posted by: Egor68500 | Feb 6 2020 19:40 utc | 165

Egor68500 | Feb 6 2020 19:40 utc | 165

"You might want to contact 'In Turkey' for some detail. )))))"
The circumstances for such a contact in this environment are simply not very inviting, a good idea in general, but not in this case.
The last statement of yours points to heavily disappointed pure Islamists; the ones before to strictly anti-semitic panturanistic nationalist alt-right people (sympathisants of the MHP, in general). There are Islamists right of Erdogan, not many, but they are there. Erdogan is for them a more or less secular gangster who just managed to do some things right.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 6 2020 20:14 utc | 166

@Hausmeister | 166
(Sorry I posted this reply to the open thread by mistake) )))

Look mate, you are conflating and confusing many ideas and then attributing them to 30% of the Turkish population. It’s comical.
Having said that Turanism, or New Turanism, is an interesting phenomenon. But while Bahceli plays to the ideology not all MHP are Turanists and not all Turanists are MHP. Nor does Turanism have any political significance beyond Turkey’s near abroad where it has been used in an attempt to legitimise dodgy ethnic claims in Northern Syria and Northern Iraq thereby legitimising Turkish inteference and at the same time undermining Kurdish claims. (in reality the ‘Turkmen’ populations are actually Turkish (from Turkey originally), long time native Turkics (small number) or newly imported by Turkey Turkic peoples.) and TUrkey conflates them all as 'Turkish' because it does not linguistically differentiate between Turkish and Turkic - Orwell would be proud))
As for “disaffected Islamists”, I can only assume you are talking about Saadet, remaining/ Ex-Gulenists and unhappy AKP members. These are most likely to be swept up in Davutoglu’s new party – if he gets his act together he could have a decent chance of splitting the AKP vote which would change the political landscape and further undermine Erdogan’s strangle-hold. But I don’t see him naming or promoting Turanism – even though the ideology was clearly a part of his New Ottoman plans in N Syria and N Iraq, it was never named as such and could not be, politically.
As for other comments made by (Can’t Possibly Be) “In Turkey” - bollocks, frankly.
Posted by: Egor68500 | Feb 7 2020 13:33 utc | 291

Posted by: Egor68500 | Feb 7 2020 15:57 utc | 167

Egor68500 | Feb 7 2020 15:57 utc | 167

"Look mate, you are conflating and confusing many ideas and then attributing them to 30% of the Turkish population. It’s comical."

I would rather say: if you describe the attitudes of people who have mixed these panturanistic somethings, nationalistic somethings and islamistic somethings in their mind one gets this picture. If you find it comical fine with you. I find it hopeless backwards and difficult to deal with, but this mixture can be played with ease by any populist with a good performance. And yes, about 30% of the populace tend to be like this in the moment. Going down, but slow. It takes about 2 years till they digest what happens today. Nobody puts with ease his valuable prejudices to the waste bin.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 7 2020 21:54 utc | 168

Turkey sends hundreds of APCs, tanks, and artillery guns to Idlib Province, establishing heavy military presence at Taftanaz Military Airport (aka Afis Air Base), military housing on the road between Sarmin and Idlib, and Al-Mastumah camp. In other words, Turkey is building a defensive line between Idlib and M4/M5 highways, which will probably lead to it occupying a sizable portion of Idlib Province northwest of M4/M5. The difference from previous Turkish occupations is that this time there’s no official declaration of “operation”.

Russian military delegation arrives today in Ankara to discuss the situation in Idlib Province.

Posted by: S | Feb 8 2020 5:15 utc | 169

The benefit of crowding all the headchoppers in Idlib and getting Turkey to police their presence and demilitarise a perimeter with the Syrian army line is that everyone in Syria and Russia knew that Turkey would totally fail. That is a good strategy because on Turkey failure, the SAA can roll in and crush the terrorists that refused to abide by a ceasefire and push Turkey aside.

That is precisely what has happened and the only border ally the terrorists have is the loony Erdy who can be relied on to change his mind at every sunrise. Perfect for Assad and perfect for Russia because no one can accuse the SAA and Assad of breaking a ceasefire that was never in place.

Then there is the jaw dropping ignorance of the Kurds and their 'buddy' the USA. They totally fucked up and Assad had the SAA fill the void as the USA rushed out. Turkey tried but got stymied in part to the absolute benefit of Assad. Russia didn't have to invite anyone here. Just leave it to loony Erdy and the sunrise.

Focussing the terrorists in the north cut them off entirely from the USA, Jordan and Israeli backers. They were on their own in the sand pit with loony Erdy. Now they are being rolled up into a fish can and any survivors will soon be packed off to Libya to the relief of Assad and his people, Putin and his people but loony Erdy will face another sunrise and just have to attack the Kurds again - good for Assad and his people.

There likely won't be another ceasefire as this push is full throttle and retreat is the terrorists main agenda. They will likely have lost much confidence in their leadership with both the fall of Saraquib but more so with the break out from Aleppo. Do not underestimate the breakout from Aleppo as the terrorists thought they had impregnable lines and could even push back with the SAA bogged down in the south or way out west in Latakia. Mistake big time as the diversion of their own resources critically damaged their capacity. And then loony Erdy sent thousands to die in the Libyan desert.

Some Turkeys are best roasted and feasted on.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 8 2020 9:38 utc | 170

redrooster #172

Well said redrooster, Russia has been doing much swift compromising with its enemies and has achieved remarkable results as has Assad in Syria. Russia has compromised with Turkey on a number of occasions and all to the benefit of Syria and its people.

Take the current circumstances in Idlib. Every time Russia has installed a major observation post as part of its role to deconflict the district, they are immediately surrounded by those dreadful headchopping terrorists and they are then of course under serious threat. Now, in accordance with the agreement between Syria - Russia - Turkey, the Syrian Army has to rush in and rescue its ally and Russia must assist with extensive bombing campaigns to break the siege of their Turkish allies. That is very honourable of Russia and Syria. They stick to their agreements.

I see Turkey has just established two nrw observation posts close to Idlib city and you can bet by morning they will be surrounded by HTS and other murderous headchoppers who will start stealing radios and rifles and other equipment only just delivered to the new garrisons.

Once again, the Syrian Army and Russian Air force will have to rescue the poor Turkish troops and will advance further west to achieve that rescue. Bravo.

Meanwhile to the north there are other Turkish garrisons directly west of Aleppo city and they are soon to be rescued as well by the Syrian Army liberators freshly on the road rushing to their rescue.

Now if Turkey would establish a garrison in the east over near the USA and Kurds who are stealing Syrian oil, then there could be a rescue there too.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 8 2020 10:06 utc | 171

OOps that first line second paragraph was supposed to be "every time TURKEY has installed"...

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 8 2020 10:08 utc | 172

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 8 2020 10:06 utc | 175

the loony Erdy who can be relied on to change his mind at every sunrise.
Oh really? He seems to me to follow a consistent policy, even if I don't think much of it.

And then loony Erdy sent thousands to die in the Libyan desert.
You think that because you haven't bothered to figure out what is going on. According to reports, the people sent are said to be Syrian Turkmens. That is, not ideological jihadis, but an ethnic group with whom Turks have sympathies. It could be argued that this is in fact welfare action for starving unemployed (because there isn't any work) inhabitants of Idlib who Turks like (and thus will go down well with Erdogan's electorate). I don't suppose they'll be successful, but the Tripoli regime is defended by the Western naval guns offshore.

Posted by: Laguerre | Feb 8 2020 11:03 utc | 173

Interim summary of M5 offensive at this point. M5 is a divided highway from Jordan to Turkey that goes through main Syrian cities, Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo. Aleppo used to be the largest city with a very large number of industries, but for a long time it was accessible only through a rickety desert road with "Idlib moderates" on one side and ISIS on the other. ISIS as a territorial entity is gone, although it is still active in the most arid region next to Tanf area controlled by Americans.

In the previous major offensive, a big slice of "Idlib moderate" territory was liberated, and Aleppo is accessible by a combination of small roads through hilly country, and, theoretically, by Hama-Aleppo railroad to be reconstructed. Before the current offensive, sections were in the fire range of the "moderates". The segment of M5 under the "moderates" was about 87 kilometers long.

Tada! 62 of these kilometers are liberated with 25 kilometers to go. The current obstacle is a line of hills that dominate the Qinassin Plane, the most prominent being Jabal-al-Eis. Now that hill line is flanked from north and south, and fire firepower and air support focused there, it should fall soon. The last 10-15 kilometers of M5 will be harder, this is the ground of numerous battles in the past, riddled with trenches and tunnels. It is like East Ghouta, but not surrounded by SAA. There were estimates that both SAA and allies and the "moderates" suffered ca. 1000 casualties so far. But to me, the goal of "evil Assad", Aleppo well connected with the rest of the country, both by the highway and the railroad, and dynamically restoring its industries, housing, parks, universities etc. will be accomplished this year, with the ground reclaimed within few weeks.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 8 2020 14:07 utc | 174

I hope that SAA swiftly takes Kafr Aleppo, on the other end of the heights that also comprise of Jabal Al Eis.

Having control over the whole of these heights will restrict HTS ability to shell M5 at will. It may also give a strategic advantage in the coming battle for the parts of the M5 directly to the west of Aleppo. It will be a more difficult terrain there than the flat rural areas that they're currently speeding through.

Posted by: Lurk | Feb 8 2020 14:28 utc | 175

I hope that SAA swiftly takes Kafr Aleppo, on the other end of the heights that also comprise of Jabal Al Eis.

Posted by: Lurk | Feb 8 2020 14:28 utc | 175

It is possible. SAA does not want to loose too many people, and the most ardent jihadist concentrated near Aleppo. However, this is a repeat of East Ghouta strategy: keep pressing from the side that is less fortified until control is complete. In particular, it was speculated on Twitter that Rashidin 4, big residential complex in jihadi hands that blocks a segment of M5 can be liberated only if it will come under complete siege, that may require to attack parallel to M5 on the western side starting from Kafr Halab = Kaft Aleppo. Additionally, wider front magnifies the advantages of SAA, and the ground to the east of M5 becomes very narrow.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 8 2020 15:06 utc | 176

Tada! 62 of these kilometers are liberated with 25 kilometers to go.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 8 2020 14:07 utc | 174

With Az-Zerba liberated, 14 kilometers of M5 remain in jihadi hands.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 9 2020 14:01 utc | 177

@uncle tungsten | 170
I think you'll find that Turkey's presence in the North has often been planned for precisely the reasons you state. What we are seeing now, is that Turkey has been completely squeezed from all sides and is attempting to find a firm footing, hence its playing the refugee card again - barely reported but for a while now Turkey has been moving refugees from major Turkish cities to Hatay and Antep etc. or simply deporting them across the border; and it is refusing to allow refugees from Idlib to cross into Turkey - so it is creating significant pressure points on its Southern border; On another front it has all but abandoned its pretence of patrolling and preventing attempts by refugees to sail to Greek islands and is therefore forcing a major pressure point for Greece as well. Weaponisation of refugees - Muslim refugees - by the self proclaimed godfather of Islam.

@Laguerre | 173 I am aware that the Turkish insist that those militias sent to Libya are only Turkmen groups but is there really any proof of this? It's interesting that this information was released some time later and in my opinion was an attempt to prevent the labelling of the current 'FSA' as 'paid militias' rather than the 'Opposition' they are supposed to be; these accusations were made by several Turkish opposition politicians before they were 'shut up'. Anyway, we'll see. Either way, many of the Turkmen militias are actually 'imported' and are not native to Syria and have apparently been promised Turkish citizenship - though they will no doubt be returned to whatever Syrian soil Turkey manages to annex!

Anyway. very interested to see how the current 'base building' in Syria pans out. Is Erdogan indeed now dangerous because he's cornered or is it just desperate posturing which will of course result in Turkey again being pushed back?

Posted by: Egor68500 | Feb 9 2020 20:06 utc | 178

@Piotr Berman | 174
Great comment. And yes I tend to agree that "the goal of "evil Assad", Aleppo well connected with the rest of the country, both by the highway and the railroad, and dynamically restoring its industries, housing, parks, universities etc. will be accomplished this year, with the ground reclaimed within few weeks."

The only way this won't happen is if somehow Turkey pulls off a deal with US/ NATO. But this seems unlikely to me.

Posted by: Egor68500 | Feb 9 2020 20:11 utc | 179

@Piotr Berman #177:

With Az-Zerba liberated, 14 kilometers of M5 remain in jihadi hands.

Judging by the size of the convoys being sent in, Erdogan really means it this time and is digging in for the long haul. Therefore, this is now a race for territory, kinda like the 2017 race between SAA and SDF/Western forces. I think SAA should postpone the liberation of the remaining stretch of M5 and focus on grabbing as much territory as it can in the west. Turkey is already in Al Atarib.

Posted by: S | Feb 10 2020 3:20 utc | 180

@ S with comment 180 about grabbing territory in Syria

Below is a Xinhuanet posting about that very subject

DAMASCUS, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army said on Sunday that it has captured 600 square km of areas over the past few days in the countryside region of Idlib and Aleppo provinces in northern Syria.

Dozens of villages and towns as well as hills were captured over the past few days, according to an army statement.

The military campaign has targeted the "terrorist groups which upped their aggression against civilians and residential areas," said the statement.

The Syrian government, backed by its ally Russia, has kept up a military offensive in Idlib and the southern Aleppo countryside over the past two months, aiming to secure the strategic Damascus-Aleppo highway that runs along the rebel-controlled territory.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Feb 10 2020 5:46 utc | 181

Turkish Army has just established a military outpost near Ma‘arat al-Na‘asan. It’s clear they want to control the entire Highway 60 (Aleppo–Urma as-Sughra–Ma‘arat al-Na‘asan–Idlib). SAA and allies must not let them do that (unless there’s some secret behind-the-scenes agreement between Russia and Turkey).

Posted by: S | Feb 10 2020 10:26 utc | 182

I imagine a sprint due west of Aleppo right up to northern Idlib city outskirts would be a severe disruption of the Turkish land corridor. It would terminate the infiltration roads from Turkey. Expect Erdoghan hissy fits if that manifests.

On Laguerre imagining only turkmen in Libya I can only smile.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 10 2020 12:00 utc | 183

Good news! SAA and allies have captured Khirbat Jazraya, Qanatir, Kafr Halab and Miznaz, cutting Highway 60.

Posted by: S | Feb 10 2020 12:05 utc | 184

Go SAA! Now don't stop until Bab Al Hawa.

Orcish outposts that have not been agreed per Sochi agreements are illegal invasions and are valid military targets, as the they have found out today in Taftanaz airbase.

Errorgan, freshly returned from Kiev threw a fit about it, but Russia told him: "Crimea river, Turkish invasion is not going to fly in Idlib."

Posted by: Lurk | Feb 10 2020 14:43 utc | 185

Other news, Turkish post at Taftanaz was hit by SAA artillery, resulting in several Turkish soldiers dead, plus some jihadists. In retaliation, Turks shelled SAA and claim that they killed several troops (not confirmed by SAA). Erdogan and Putin talked about it, NO AGREEMENT. Interpretation is that Putin may recognize only posts listed in Astana document as legit, other are free game, so the game of placing posts in the way of SAA, like Taftanaz few days ago and Ma'arat al-Nasan today may cost Turkish lives if they do not move away fast enough.

The SAA move today is to control a line of hills that starts at Tel Al-Eis near Hader (controlled before the current offensive, and at some period in 2016), with one hill to go. Those hills dominate north-east Idlib plane and make it tough to control the ground below. So now it is tough for the other side. Ma'arat al Nasan is 2 km from SAA position near Kafr Halab, and shelling from that place would obstruct taking and keeping Kafr Noran, the last hill in the line, so either Turks there will sit quietly, or will get shelled or worse -- before SAA entered al-Zerba (last village on M5 taken under control), a tweet claim that a dozen of thermobaric bombs "rearranged furniture".

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 10 2020 15:03 utc | 186

Turkish News: Akar - Defense Secretary has given a press conferenece claiming that Turkey has attacked Syria again and that 151 'regime' target were hit including tanks and a helicopter!!
Again, there is no accompanying footage of the attacks whatsoever. Strange given that the country's media is obliged to show government approved 'footage' of all 'anti-terrorist' activity in either the first or second slot of the news programme - meaning that the media is continually awash with footage lauding the heroics of the Turkish Armed Forces.
Yet, the second time, as with the first. that they claim massive attacks against the Syrian Government forces there is NOT ONE SECOND of footage!!

It's all a propaganda face-saving exercise.
There is no other explanation.

Posted by: Egor68500 | Feb 10 2020 18:01 utc | 187

Again, there is no accompanying footage of the attacks whatsoever. Strange given that the country's media is obliged to show government approved 'footage' of all 'anti-terrorist' activity in either the first or second slot of the news programme - meaning that the media is continually awash with footage lauding the heroics of the Turkish Armed Forces.
Yet, the second time, as with the first. that they claim massive attacks against the Syrian Government forces there is NOT ONE SECOND of footage!!

Posted by: Egor68500 | Feb 10 2020 18:01 utc | 187

Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. John 20:29

I am not sure if this is convincing to Muslim or atheists, but I recall mass murder committed on the occasion of Balkan war in early 20th centure. Millions of Bulgarians, Macedonians, Turks, Albanians etc. were annihilated by statistitians, showing how various territories should belong to various contending state. The occasion of the loss of Ottoman control over a large swath of the peninsula that could go to Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Albania and Montenegro. I think that Turks remember that statistical warfare, and have abiding belief that there is not such a thing like phony statistics for a good cause. If the cause is good, so are the statistics. I guess that artwork can be commissioned to visualize the stats better. Oil, pastels, or clip-art.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 10 2020 18:58 utc | 188

The Guardian, Martin Chulov. Sat 24 Feb 2018 20.15 GMT

Russian leader’s gamble backing Bashar al-Assad increasingly looks miscalculated [long quote]

For Assad and Putin, Ghouta is the key to controlling the capital, and winning the war. But outside the Syrian cauldron, friends and foes alike are starting to believe both men have miscalculated.

It is increasingly unclear how Moscow will recoup its investment in the world’s most complex conflict
Nearly 18 months into Russia’s intervention to prevent Assad’s defeat at the hands of rebel groups that were advancing on his heartland areas of Latakia and Tartous, it is increasingly unclear just how Moscow will recoup its investment in the world’s most complex and intractable conflict.

While it no longer appears Assad is in danger of falling, what remains of Syria looks nothing like the prewar country he used to rule. Central authority in the once-rigid police state has been subsumed several times over – first by opposition groups, and then by regional players also increasingly invested in shaping postwar outcomes in their own interests, which only partly align with what Putin wants. Protagonists on both sides are drowning in a swamp they did not see ahead.

Putin, in particular, is learning that Syria in its present form is ungovernable.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 10 2020 19:43 utc | 189

The Pompous One has been very quiet re the developments these past few days. He issued an ominous warning last week that any harm to US allied parties in Idleb would be avenged with force. This had the implication that NATO-ally Turkey casualties might draw the US into the Syrian/Russian cleanout campaign.

One suspects that the US military has explained the folly of getting directly involved there to him. That leaves dirty and underhand methods (CIA, black ops) if his warning is not to be viewed as so much posturing.

Posted by: augrr | Feb 11 2020 12:41 utc | 190

On Laguerre imagining only turkmen in Libya I can only smile.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 10 2020 12:00 utc | 183

If you find that report unlikely, what is your real 100% truth then?

Posted by: Laguerre | Feb 11 2020 13:05 utc | 191

@Piotr Berman | 188
Seems to me that you read the first sentence and then couldn't be bothered with the rest. There is context. And at the moment that context is the intense focus on military actions intended to ensure nationalist support for the government rendering all 'opposition' silenced - they dare not question military campaigns - and supported directly from the President's inner circle via 'instructions' to the media.
It is absolutely nonsensical to suggest that such a significant military 'success' would not be dragged out and 'lauded' for days if not weeks to come by all media outlets given the current climate in Turkey.
It shows that you do not understand the climate in Turkey:
Only today, Bahceli state 'Let Syria burn, damn Assad'; "We must prepare to enter Damascus"; and "Any (Turkish) citizen that supports Assad is a traitor to the fatherland"
In this climate the possibility of not maximising the 'heriocs' of the attack as 'claimed' is zero.
In addition to which. not one mention by Erdogan today. not one mention by NATO today, not one mention by US / RF spokesmen today - they all commented on Syria's attack killing Turkish soldiers, but none of them mentioned even alluded to an retaliatory attack carried out by Turkey.

Posted by: Egor68500 | Feb 11 2020 13:49 utc | 192

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