Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 22, 2021

Syria - The War Is Resuming On Several Fronts

Ten years after it began, and after a short lull in fighting, the war on Syria seems now to resume on several fronts.


Last week Bloomberg published an op-ed by the Turkish President Erdogan in which he begged for 'western' help:

Now, as talk of democracy, freedom and human rights are in vogue anew, humanity’s actions in Syria will be the ultimate measure of our sincerity. I believe that restoring peace and stability in the region depends on genuine and strong Western support for Turkey.
Unfortunately, the moderate rebels, our local partners, have become the target of a coordinated smear campaign despite their hard work and sacrifice to defeat ISIS and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, another designated terrorist organization.

The safe zones, which Turkey created in cooperation with its local partners, are proof of our commitment to Syria’s future. These areas have become islands of peace and stability, as well as self-sustaining ecosystems.

Those 'islands of peace' in the Turkish occupied Idleb and along the Turkish border have seen lots infighting between the Al-Qaeda aligned Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS) and 'moderate rebels' of various Islamists hue. HTS has mostly won out and is ruling the area in cooperation with Turkish occupation troops. But to control the area costs lots of money and Turkey is currently short of it. Erdogan's recent firing of its central bank head led to another fall of the Turkish economy:

The dollar rose by as much as 15% vs the Turkish lira, and the BIST-100 stock-market index traded 10% lower after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to replace Governor Naci Agbal with Sahap Kavcioglu — the third change at the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) in two years.

Thus Erdogan is asking for more money while threatening to push more refugees towards Europe:

The third and most sensible option [form the west] is to throw their weight behind Turkey and become part of the solution in Syria, at minimum cost and with maximum impact.

Our specific expectations are obvious. Primarily, we expect the West to adopt a clear position against YPG, the PKK’s Syrian branch, which attacks safe zones and plays into the hands of the regime. Instead, adequate support must go to the legitimate Syrian opposition as an investment in peace and stability.

Moreover, we call on the Western nations to live up to their responsibilities to end the humanitarian crisis, as failure to share Turkey’s burden may result in fresh waves of migration towards Europe.

Last but not least, we demand that the West invest in safe zones within Syria and unequivocally endorse this peace project. We must show the world that there is a democratic and prosperous alternative for Syria’s future.

On Friday Turkey opened a new military outpost in Syria near the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey. This is contrary to the Moscow agreement with Russia.

There have been several skirmishes between Turkish troops, the rebels they support and Kurdish SDF units which are ruling northeast Syria with support from the U.S. occupation.

Despite hostilities between them the U.S. supported Kurds do business with the Turkish supported Jihadis. The oil the Kurds pump from the Syrian wells is being sold to the 'rebels' in Idleb who export it to Turkey.

That oil export has recently become a target of the Russian forces. On March 7 a missile hit near al-Bab and destroyed 180 oil trucks. On March 14 another attack destroyed HTS controlled oil infrastructure in Idleb. In response the 'rebels' fired missiles into the government held Aleppo city after which another strike hit gas facilities near the Turkish border:

A gas facility was hit near Sarmada city in Idlib province and dozens of trailers carrying goods in a parking lot near the border crossing of Bab al Hawa were set aflame in the latest attack on fuel facilities that serve an economic lifeline for a region that is home to more than four million people.

Western intelligence sources say Russia was behind a ballistic missile strike earlier this month that set ablaze dozens of local oil refineries near the towns of al-Bab and Jarablus further east in a rebel-held area where Turkey holds sway and has a significant military presence.

In the north east the U.S. allied Kurdish SDF is still holding several thousand former ISIS fighters. Every few weeks some dozens get released. They are moved into the south eastern desert where the U.S. forces in al-Tanf at the Syrian-Iraqi-Jordanian border triangle [green] are presumably train and equip them. They then go on to attack Syrian government forces. As the rough desert makes it difficult to fight on the ground Russia renewed an air campaign against those ISIS remnands:

There are several goals behind the Russian airstrikes. Chief among them is securing the roads in the Badia region (the Syrian desert), limiting IS operations and military capabilities and curbing the spread of the organization in the Badia, which extends over Raqqa, Hama, Homs, Deir Ez-Zor and Aleppo provinces.

The conflict between the Kurds and Turkey in the north east is also resuming:

[I]n the Raqqah countryside, SDF reported that its fighters had repelled two attacks by Turkish proxies. The first was on the village of Saida west of Ain Issa. The second attack targeted the town of Mu’alk to the east.

No specific casualty numbers were released.

The area around Ain Issa has been volatile for a while now, with Turkey and its proxies frequently attacking the town’s outskirts. An Ankara plan to push and capture the town has been expected for months.

Likely in response to this, two rockets were launched from Syria towards the southern Turkish city of Kilis. According to Syrian sources, the two rockets were launched from the vicinity of the town of Tell Rifaat in the northern Aleppo countryside. The positions belong to the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers terrorist. The YPG is also the core of the SDF.

The Turkish army shelled a dozen of towns and villages in response to the attack. Heavy clashes were also reported between Kurdish fighters and militants of the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army west of the Turkish-occupied town of al-Bab.

Meanwhile Syria's economy, hindered by sanctions, lack of oil revenues and the crash of the Lebanese banks, has further deteriorated. A war of hunger has replaced the war of guns.

With the tenth anniversary of the war many seem to have forgotten that it was the U.S. which started and fueled this catastrophe while it still has no plan how to end it:

The sad part of the joint statement by the US and its European allies is not only that it is rewriting history and spreading falsehood but conveys a sense of despair that there is no hope for light at the end of the tunnel in the Syrian conflict in a conceivable future.

The US policy in Syria is opaque. It has oscillated between aiming to prevent a resurgence of IS, confronting Iran, pushing back against Russia, providing humanitarian aid, and even protecting Israel, while the crux of the matter is that successive US administrations have failed to articulate a clear strategy and rationale for the US military presence in Syria.

This week U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will hold talks with the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

A statement by the Biden administration today was quite friendly:

Jen Psaki, also added, "Turkey is a long-standing and valued NATO ally. We've shared interest in countering terrorism and ending the conflict in Syria, deterring malign influence in the region."

It is quite possible that the Biden administration has plans to reset the current stalemate in Syria by allying with Turkey for new push against Damascus.

Posted by b on March 22, 2021 at 18:30 UTC | Permalink

next page »

Thanks for the posting b because the world cannot get this sort of reporting elsewhere

So the US is going to work with Turkey even if it buys and installs Russian air defense equipment?

The US has been stymied in Syria before by Russia and will be again, as will Turkey.

Is Turkey the canary in the coal mine of global financial collapse or just acting like it?

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 22 2021 18:54 utc | 1

thanks b... the marriage between two thieves is especially cute - turkey and usa.... the problem this is that neither one of them can ever trust each other too...

now, if erdogan was to say that he sees the theft of syrias oil as a cause belli, we would have a very different set up and some pressure would indeed be put on the situation, but it would be on him to shut up instead... meanwhile what does the UN say of the theft of syrias oil??

so until one of these 2 thieves is called out, i don't see much changing... mostly the situation will worsen for turkey... erdogan is one to talk of democracy, lol.. i think russia needs to keep turkey on a shorter leash... i am surprised turkey hasn't figured out who its friends are at this late date...

Posted by: james | Mar 22 2021 18:54 utc | 2

btw - the exchange rate for turkey is not as bad as it was last fall... see the 5 year graph here..)

Posted by: james | Mar 22 2021 18:56 utc | 3

Turkey needs the money from the Syrian Oil. (So far, according to the Syrians, they have lost $92 billion dollars worth from the fields held by the US)

The best arable land has also been stolen and in the rare cases where there has been production (Hasaka) the US has also stolen the wheat from the silos.
The Russian-Syrian object is clear, if the Syrians can't have the oil then it will not be allowed to support ant-Syrian terrorists.

Turkey may be being used as a diversion for the MSM. While the situation in "Donbas" is presumably waiting for a "false flag",.

Meanwhile, nearly OT, the World's MSM (Representatives of 13 national and foreign news outlets, including Radio Liberty * (USA), France-Presse (France) and Reuters (Great Britain), arrived in the Joint Forces Operation (JF) zone) are massing in the territories around Donetsk.
Zelensky is waiting for the "go ahead" from the White House.
The Eisenhower aircraft carrier is in Souda bay in Crete. (And the Rus. sub is nowhere to be seen.) etc.

This guy has "friends on the ground" and often gets things right.
Here are the Rus naval positions fairly recently (Plus in Black Sea and four transport-landing craft coming down fromt English Channel.)

Posted by: Stonebird | Mar 22 2021 19:19 utc | 4

Syria is where the conflict with Russia will go red hot.
Russia is never going to "leave" Syria. They are there forever, a brotherhood of blood well-established and cherished by the Syrian people who know the Russian boys will heroically die fighting for Syrian sovereignty against terrorists.

The final battles will be more a war of missiles and drones and very heavy long range artillery.

At some point, a third battery of S-400s can close all the airspace to US, Turk and any others without Russian permission.

China will make a move soon regarding beginning the reconstruction of the country.

Many points of change are soon to occur.

Russia will tactically change the battlefields. 2021 will be a pivotal year.

Putin and Shoigu frolicking in the taiga snow over the weekend was not just a soft power photoshoot. Decisions often result from those weekends in the woods that surprise Russia's adversaries. Six subs left their Crimea base a few days ago heading through the Black Sea into the east Mediterranean. All are armed with Kalibr missiles.

Russia can easily reshape the battlefields with those missiles.

Posted by: Red Ryder | Mar 22 2021 19:20 utc | 5

Uni-lateral withdrawal with promises of rebuilding funds would be a good start. Then, I woke up. What we'll really do, will be 180 degrees from that, starting with, asking the Israelis what they want.

God forbid involving the Syrian people, and Assad, by meeting them for advice.

Posted by: vetinLA | Mar 22 2021 19:21 utc | 6

b: ... by allying with Turkey for new push against Damascus.

When has USA NOT been allied with NATO Turkey?

Oh yeah, the time when some wishful thinkers and feckless pundits mistakenly cried: "Erdogan is turning east!"

Now the same crowd will ardently approve of Erdogan's turn back to the West, saying that it is necessary to improve Turkey's economy. LOL.

Putin thought he might pull Turkey away from NATO after the suspicious unsuccessful coup attempt against Erdogan (Erdogan called it a "gift from God") but instead Putin got played. I expect that figures into Russian thinking going forward.

Someone should write a book: The Education of Valdimir Putin. About the lessons Russia has learned about its Western 'partners' since the end of the Cold War. Western engagement with Russia seems to consist entirely of lies, bluster, insults, betrayal, pigeon-like chess playing, pressure tactics (sanctions), intimidation, etc. Such group-think and hostility leads to war.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Mar 22 2021 19:42 utc | 8

Posted by: Red Ryder | Mar 22 2021 19:20 utc | 5

Putin and Shoigu frolicking in the taiga snow over the weekend was not just a soft power photoshoot. Decisions often result from those weekends in the woods that surprise Russia's adversaries.
Lovely lateral thinking by Putin. When things are getting tense - go on holiday. Let the adversary show his hand, then return. Rather similar to Sir Francis Drake finishing his game of bowls when the arrival of the Spanish Armada was announced.

All is ready.

At one point Putin was supposed to go to Crimea (Possible new attempt on his life while there?) but didn't. Note that Shoigu is-has been in the "middle district" of Russia visiting troops. Separation of leadership as precaution?


james | Mar 22 2021 18:54 utc | 2
the marriage between two thieves is especially cute - turkey and usa.... the problem this is that neither one of them can ever trust each other too...

Erdogan...always the blushing bride? Bigamy? I suspect that Biden has already left the church in the lurch, looking for Karmala.

Posted by: Stonebird | Mar 22 2021 19:46 utc | 9

This news along with other reports of the US trying to find excuses for not leaving Afghanistan by 1 May 2021 suggest that by now Sleepy Joe Biden is no longer in charge of his administration (if he ever was) and he is simply just a puppet of various individuals and factions with their own agendas. It's surely a matter of when, and how soon, he will be replaced by Kamala Harris.

The US has no plan ever to leave any and all nations its troops occupy because the factions who control the US President profit from the destruction in some way, not only financially. Even if there were no gains for them, these factions would be unlikely to agree on any plan for removing US and NATO troops. This means any new conflicts in eastern Ukraine and elsewhere that involve US / NATO troops are also likely to drag on for years, even decades.

Posted by: Jen | Mar 22 2021 19:49 utc | 10

It sure is taking Erdogan a long time to figure out that the Kurds are the darlings of the West. I guess as long as he gets a share of the oil he can deal with the contradiction.

Posted by: dh | Mar 22 2021 19:54 utc | 11

thank you B, stonebird and Red ryder for the info and for taking the time to do your research and sharing it with us.

Vanessa Beeley talks for almost an hour about Syria, Mint press, I think it's a couple of weeks old, podcast, but gives some background and updates that I didn't know, confirms a lot of what B said in this post. Worth the time for me but maybe a little redundant for some of you guys, how U.S. transports headchoppers from Kurdish guarded "detainment camps" to Syria Iraq border and then trains the head choppers (CIA?) for something, a fair amount of detail on Erdogan and compared to Israel Beeley says Turkey is even worse, she explains why in her experience and opinion. She also gets into how bad the sanctions have been and talks about the mafia that has grown into unholy alliance between Kurds pumping the oil protected by U.S. then selling the oil to their so-called enemies the moderate head choppers who then sell it to their benefactors, the Turks. Same with wheat. Meanwhile, Syrians starve.

Posted by: migueljose | Mar 22 2021 19:55 utc | 12

I heard that Erdogan wrote a letter to Biden, where, in particular, he asked for his help against Russia in Syria. Biden did not answer, and then the Sultan wrote an article to Bloomberg.

On Friday Turkey opened a new military outpost in Syria near the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey. This is contrary to the Moscow agreement with Russia.

Semen Pegov (aka WarGonzo), a well-known Russian war correspondent recently reported (on video at 1'07) on the construction of new fortified posts by Turkey. As I understand it, according to the agreements with Moscow, it is forbidden to strike within a 2 km radius of Turkish fortified posts. Therefore, in order to protect and cover their terrorist protégés, the Turks are building more and more outposts at intervals of ~2 km, creating a kind of "continuous out-of-reach zone".

Posted by: alaff | Mar 22 2021 19:55 utc | 13

Turkey has done nothing to defeat ISIS, quite the contrary. Erdogan's sympathy and fear toward Islamists has pushed it to help them to fight against the Syrian army and the Kurds. He is accountable for the horrors ISIS has perpetrated in Syria and should be judged as a war criminal.
Because he refused to fight ISIS and the Moslem Brotherhood terrorists, the Syrian KURDS were called by the USA to do the fighting. Kurds are secular and accepted the US deal with the hope that they would finally get a country, that would include a part of Turkey. This has enraged Erdogan and he engaged in a war against the Syrian Kurds with the help of the Syrian opposition fighters turned mercenaries and ISIS fighters. The war is still going on and the continous US support to the Kurds is infuriating him. He only has himself to blame for his refusal to fight ISIS.

Now the wind has turned. Erdogan has no more money to pay the syrian opposition mercenaries he sent also to Libya and he wants to mend his relation with Egypt and the Arab world after having been slapped by the USA and Europe. He cannot count on them even by blackmailing them about refugees. He has lost his credibility in Europe. Internally Turkey's economy is slowing down. he badly needs investments to save it and no one is ready to help.

Russia is having second thoughts about Erdogan's hypocrisy and will not lift a finger to help him. He is now totally isolated and the Arab countries may end up pressing him to withdraw his troops from Syria and abandoning the war against Bashar al Assad as one of the conditions for restarting a relation.

It is then expected he would beg the USA for help. Whom will he betray when he talks to Biden? The Russians,the Iranians? the Moslem Brotherhood? The guy is at the end of the rope. He has failed in Syria, in Libya and his megalomania is now hurting him inside his country and he may lose power.
Will it be Erdogan's end? One would hope that it is imminent

Posted by: Virgile | Mar 22 2021 20:02 utc | 14

Apparently, Erdoğan has made his choice - to try and cut a deal with the US to divide up Syria. Syria's (Russia's?) attack on the oil tankers may have decided him. One wonders what the SDF will do. Caught between the US and Turkey, will they "join" their alleged enemy against Syria and commit suicide. Perhaps,the US will abandon them to and for the Turks. Then the "PKK" will have to decide: Assad or oblivion. Given their track record, they will probably choose oblivion. The "rebels", Daesh, HTS, et. al. are cannon fodder.

The Blinken talks should be interesting.

Posted by: Bluedotterel | Mar 22 2021 20:03 utc | 15

Red Ryder 5

Yes, the RuN Black Sea fleet has six Kilo submarines. No, they did not all leave Crimea last week, they are based in Russia proper, at Novorossiysk. Yes, four are at sea in the Black Sea. The remaining two have been out of the Black Sea for months with one of the Rostov am Don having had a trip up to the Baltic last year and on her return she was/is the 'black hole' submarine that the US has been unable to find, whilst the Russians say they are communicating with her. A wee bit embarrassing for the top navy in the World.

The RuN also have 4/5 surface ships carrying Kalibr in the Med, plus more in the Caspian that they have used to fire into Syria in 2015/6. There are more Russian ships in the Med than there has been for many a year, some of which are there to monitor CVN69. Then there are the three landing craft and corvette on their way.

The location of CVN69 is interesting. The USN have sent two of the CVN69 fleet into the Black Sea, a cruiser and destroyer. This projects the Dwight D Eisenhower's eyes and ears well forward, giving her a Forward Air Controller located in the Black Sea, whilst she is safe in the Med. So, on top of the 'normal' Rivet Joint and Global Hawk cruising around to the west of Russia, the US can, by flying them over Greece, put lots of Hornets etc on station. Whilst staying well out of the way, these are capable of diverting Russia's attention in the event of the civil war restarting in Ukraine. A really interesting tactical move.

Posted by: JohninMK | Mar 22 2021 20:10 utc | 16

I still wonder if anyone has information about the Uighurs in Syria, Libya, Azerbyjon, etc. I'm guessing that the Uighur ratline out of China being managed by Turkey is significant and will have long term affects but I know few details.

Posted by: migueljose | Mar 22 2021 20:13 utc | 17

alaff | Mar 22 2021 19:55 utc | 13

You are almost certainly correct. The forces present have many senior ranking officers among them but I can't find the post that mentions that. The Turks could be setting up a major military area - which has a quick excape route behind the little shed out the back.

This military post is the second Turkish base around the Bab al-Hawa border crossing in Idlib province. The base is perched on a high hill overlooking the surrounding area, and large-scale Turkish armored vehicles, troops and surveillance equipment have been transferred to the military post.

The new Turkish military base in Idlib will be the main station for the reception, accommodation and division of Turkish troops entering Syria from Turkey.
According to local sources, there are 700 military vehicles, including 100 tanks, at the site. In addition to this equipment, many trucks continuously transfer logistical equipment to this base.
Currently, the Turkish military is working to establish three more military posts near its new base in Idlib

Posted by: Stonebird | Mar 22 2021 20:15 utc | 18

psycohistorian #1

I see Turkey as uncle sam's cuckoo in the nest. There will be no peace while Erdoghan and his fascists rule.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Mar 22 2021 20:16 utc | 19

France is still refusing to take back its jihadists held (for those who haven't escaped) in al Hawl among other places. Turkey can certainly bargain because of the panic provoked by the idea of having again a movement of refugees to the EU in which the jihadists are conveniently mixed.

Posted by: Mina | Mar 22 2021 20:24 utc | 20

Jen @Mar22 19:49 #10

Sleepy Joe Biden is no longer in charge of his administration

Surprise to see this from you Jen.

History strongly suggests that US Presidents are willing participants (aka "team players") that are selected to be elected. They should not be afforded the benefit of the doubt where guilt related to aggression and war crimes are concerned. Pretending that they are innocent only promotes propaganda narratives that allow violence to continue.

<> <> <> <> <>

  • Ronald Reagan wasn't in charge when he authorized the Star Wars boondoggle (never deployed) and Iran-Contra?
  • GHW Bush wasn't in charge when he lied to Gorbachev about NATO not moving one inch to the east?
  • Bill Clinton wasn't in charge while Russia suffered through the West's Economic Shock Therapy (a failed attempt to force total capitulation)?
  • GW Bush wasn't in charge when he ordered an attack on Iraq based on lies and CIA's global rendition & torture?
    Was it all Cheney and Rumsfeld?
  • Obama wasn't in charge when he droned weddings, illegally bombed Libya; authorized smuggling arms to Syrian rebels mercenaries; and staged a coup in Ukraine?
    It was all Hillary and Nuland?
  • Trump wasn't in charge when he exited arms and peace agreements (including refusing to abide by his peace agreement with North Korea); assassinated a prominent Iran General; grabbed Syria oil fields; thumbed his nose at the UN to grant Israel concessions; and applied crushing sanctions to multiple nations?
    It was all Bolton and Pompeo?


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Mar 22 2021 20:33 utc | 21

It appears that if either Syria or Donbass go "hot", they both will go hot.

Easy to guess the temptation to make some kind of statement through application of violence is overwhelming on the American side right now.

Posted by: jayc | Mar 22 2021 20:42 utc | 22

The oil theft has a few 'legs'.

It started of course with ISIS shipping very large amounts up into a Turkish pipeline. Until Putin famously spoke of the "tankers from horizon to horizon" that somehow the USAF had failed to notice. So the RuAF set to and the US/Coalition were shamed into doing the same. Those operations eliminated an estimated 10,000 crude tankers. Then over time the US took over responsibility for the theft and volumes slowly increased as more tankers were sucked in. Much of the crude was refined into petrol/diesel/heating oil and used by the locals with the excess going into Turkey.

Then as volumes increased the Turkish Mafia moved in to exploit the flow, maximising shipments into Turkey. Up to this point the Syrians/Russians seemed to hold a watching brief. But that changed when first the Turks stated powering Idlib with it and second the US contracted external companies to increase the output. These changed the strategic picture completely.

So now, to a howl of anguish from Erdogan, the Russians in particular, have reduced the 'steal' to a trickle by knocking out the Turkish transshipment and refining sites, one twice and the other once, eliminating hundreds of tankers, perhaps half the fleet, effectively cutting the road from Deir to Turkey. I am sure that the RuAF and SyAF now regard any group of tankers as fair game, especially when parked at night. As mentioned by another poster, this gives the Turks, already short of money, a problem powering Idlib now the virtually free Syrian oil tap is almost shut.

Then last week, out of the blue, the Russians hit a large, just completed, HTS shiny digital communications bunker, an HTS command bunker and the biggest surprise, three big compounds/offices at the main commercial Syria/Turkey border crossing wiping out a big HTS profit center and more trucks.

Meanwhile, not to be outdone, under the watchful eyes of the US, SDF is shipping millions of tons of grain, stolen out of silos, over the border into northern Iraq. Ensuring that the Syrians west of the Euphrates slip closer towards starvation. Not forgetting that the Turks have seriously reduced the flow of that river to reduce Syria's hydro and irrigation opportunities.

Over the years since 2015 Russia has gradually gained in confidence as it became clear that they were overperforming and the bulk of the Syrians really wanted them there. During that time, almost unnoticed, they have transformed the Syrian Arab Army into a hardened fighting force, moved large numbers of their own forces and equipment in and battle hardened/tested them. Four or five years of the Syrian Express 'shipping line' using ships from tank landing craft to medium size container and Ro-Ro, supplemented by large transport aircraft, can shift a lot of stuff, quietly. There is a view from flight records that they moved, on a one way trip, another 6/8 Flankers into Hmeimim last week.

With Russia's frustration with the West clearly vented by Lavrov, I suspect we are, with these attacks, seeing the start of a much more assertive posture from them. Preparing to face attack both here and in Ukraine.

Posted by: JohninMK | Mar 22 2021 21:15 utc | 23

Biden is in search of lost time after 4 years of no new US war, what a wate of time! (he thinks), because, you know, Putin has to pay...

Posted by: DFC | Mar 22 2021 21:17 utc | 24

"This is contrary to the Moscow agreement with Russia."
A bit precious to say that: the agreement as written delivered nothing for Erdogan's neo-Ottoman agenda; of course he was going to violate it. The Russian side signed anyway in full awareness of this reality. From the beginning of this episode, wherever (pro-Turkish) goons set foot in Syria they raised and kissed the Turkish flag; now Moscow pretends not to remember any of that.

Restoring order to Syria by inviting all of their enemies in--maybe Putin shouldn't play this much with people who are smarter than himself.

Posted by: Ma Laoshi | Mar 22 2021 21:48 utc | 25

@ migueljose 17
According to this 2017 AP article, the plan was for the Uighurs to learn to fight in Syria and then return to China.:

Posted by: Keith McClary | Mar 22 2021 22:23 utc | 26

Miguel Jose @ 17:

From North Press Agency, a Syrian-based "independent" news agency:

Turkey accused of settling Uyghurs in Syrian Kurdish cities

... Researchers and specialists in Turkish affairs say that Turkey is planning to transfer families of the Chinese Uyghur minority residing there to Turkish-held areas in northeast Syria with the aim of implementing demographic change in the area.

Terrorism researcher at the European Center for Counterterrorism and Intelligence Studies Lamar Arkandy talked about Turkish preparations to transfer families of Uyghur descent residing in Istanbul and settle them [in] north Syria ...

Also in that MintPress interview you linked to @ 12, in the 23rd minute Vanessa Beeley talks about Turkey's involvement in the Saudi war against Yemen. Pretty likely that Turkish forces or mercenaries being sent to that conflict include Uyghur fighters.

There is also this article from Newlines Institute: Uighur Jihadists in Syria The article seems genuine enough in its details. Newlines Institute is a Washington-based thinktank with an association with Fairfax University of America which itself was once part of Fethullah Gulen's movement and for years exploited foreign distance education students with poorly run online courses.

Posted by: Jen | Mar 22 2021 22:49 utc | 27

JR @ 21

"Surprise to see this from you Jen.

History strongly suggests that US Presidents are willing participants (aka "team players") that are selected to be elected. "

That in a nutshell is what was wrong with Trump. He thought that the president was the Boss.

Posted by: arby | Mar 22 2021 23:15 utc | 28

@ Ma Laoshi | Mar 22 2021 21:48 utc | 25.. i think you really underestimate putin and the game being played here...

Posted by: james | Mar 22 2021 23:51 utc | 29

OPCW Whistle Blowers Debunk Cover-Up & U.S. Propaganda

Posted by: Mao | Mar 22 2021 23:58 utc | 30

US veterans confront Joe Biden over his record of supporting war (2020)

Posted by: Mao | Mar 23 2021 0:00 utc | 31

Mr. B

The Judeo-Christians have not had a positive game in the Levant for 5 years, ever since Mr. Putin intervened with 37 aircrafts and dashed the Judeo-Christian Jihadi dream there.

They have been trying to play a negative game, trying to discomfit Russia and Iran by prolonging the agony of Syria. This is not a policy predicated on enablement of diplomatic agreements.

Meanwhile, this war is creating a more disciplined, organized, cohesive and brutal Syrian state. "Better smaller, but better", as the late V. I. Lenin wrote.

Judeo-Christians and Israelis will miss the old Syria, which, like Iran, Russia, and China, wanted to work with the United States.

Posted by: Fyi | Mar 23 2021 0:06 utc | 32

Mr. Keith McClary

If that were indeed the plan, its planners were unaware of the ruthless efficiency of Chinese government in suppressing threats to state security.

No competent government in China will tolerate a repeat of those past episodes of chaos that had resulted in tens of millions of deaths. You saw what they did in Tien An Men.

Posted by: Fyi | Mar 23 2021 0:13 utc | 33

@james | Mar 22 2021 23:51 utc | 29
"i think you really underestimate putin and the game being played here"
Perhaps; though with Turkey now heavily invested in Ukraine's military buildup, explain to Russian voters that emboldening Erdogan was a Russian national interest as opposed to, say, a business interest of the Peskov clan. Or maybe, the subject of an all-out jihadi attack on Syria wasn't suitable to be dealt with in this way. For the Syrians whose country got destroyed this never was a game ("long game" or otherwise), you see; they needed the headchoppers crushed. Not an expert, but I believe Russian military doctrine says that the faster you go about it, the bigger your chances of success--or maybe that's just been common sense in all times and places.

No government sitting across Putin at the table is asking "Are you really as smart as they say?" They need to know one thing: "Can the Bear protect us?" If being a Russian ally means a fate like Syria's, no wonder many small countries from Scandinavia to Central Asia conclude the Empire is still their best bet.

Posted by: Ma Laoshi | Mar 23 2021 0:43 utc | 34

thanks to Jen@27 and Keith McClary@27 for the links and info on the Uighurs in Syria and Turkey: good links and helpful insight from you both. We have friends visiting tomorrow, one of whom is a Uighur supporter (R2P)so your input has helped me to figure out a way to talk about it along with various other "finger pointing" issues that come up. They're good friends but "blue no matter who", AKA "blue anon".

thank you

Posted by: migueljose | Mar 23 2021 0:54 utc | 35

Thank you B for the attention on Syria.

Dr Bouthaina Shabaan - "The strategic crisis facing the human race"

Look for it on Canthama Canthama.

Posted by: the bodger | Mar 23 2021 1:06 utc | 36

Ma Laoshi @34--

Syria's fate without Russian intervention would be well sealed by now and known as a tragedy on par with Libya and moved onto Lebanon and perhaps even the loss of Iraq. I'd bet Hezbollah would've rained its missiles down of Occupied Palestine too in that event causing who knows how massive a tragedy!! Russia saved millions of innocents from that fate and you have the unmitigated gall to smear Russia in that manner!!

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 23 2021 1:08 utc | 37

After the 1st and then the 2nd russian strike against oil trucks and infrastructures close to border with Turkey, I was thinking, Russia is surely not happy with Turkey.

Now I know why:

"Last week Bloomberg published an op-ed by the Turkish President Erdogan in which he begged for 'western' help:"

It's clear that Turkey is shifting closer to the West and NATO.

and now: "On Friday Turkey opened a new military outpost in Syria near the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey. This is contrary to the Moscow agreement with Russia."

I think that from now on, it's no more Mr nice guy on the part of Russia not only with Turkey and it's erdogoons in Syria, but also with the US on the global scene. And Russia can count on China.

The "killer" statement by Biden and Wang Yi rant in Alaska could have been the straw that broke the camel's back.

Posted by: Jean | Mar 23 2021 1:08 utc | 38

@ Ma Laoshi | Mar 23 2021 0:43 utc | 34

remember 10 years is a long time and if you think of russia as having only really gotten there bearings from sometime into the early 2000 - forget the 90's as russia was a basket case - then, i think the fluid nature of the changes and the mature attitude russia has taken in this short amount of time suggests to me that russia today is not the same russia of last year, or even the year before... so, we will have to look at this differently and agree to disagree on just what russia did or didn't do according to each of us and what exactly they will do here forward which i maintain is not something that can be based only on theis short past, given what i say here...

Posted by: james | Mar 23 2021 1:12 utc | 39

Posted by: JohninMK | Mar 22 2021 21:15 utc | 23

I agree with what you say, and would add that Erdogan's choosing to get involved in Donbass is another good reason to apply pressure in Idlib. Erdogan got cocky after the war in Artsakh, I don't think he is going to get away with that again.

Posted by: Bemildred | Mar 23 2021 1:13 utc | 40

interview with ex US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford (Aaron Mate interviewer)

March 20, 2021

Posted by: abee | Mar 23 2021 1:19 utc | 41

That makes it what? 2 years now that the turks have stayed in Idlib?

It's absolute clownshoe.

Posted by: Smith | Mar 23 2021 1:45 utc | 42

indian punchline from 2 days ago - Ten years on, Syria is almost destroyed. Who’s to blame?

"The joint statement issued by the foreign ministers of the US, UK, France, Germany and Italy last week to mark the tenth anniversary of the Syrian conflict begins with an outright falsehood by holding President Bashar al-Assad and “his backers” responsible for the horrific events in that country. It asserts that the five western powers “will not abandon” the Syrian people — till death do us part.

The historical reality is that Syria has been a theatre of the CIA’s activities ever since the inception of that agency in 1947. There is a whole history of CIA-sponsored “regime change” projects in Syria ranging from coup attempts and assassination plots to paramilitary strikes and funding and military training of anti-government forces. "

Posted by: james | Mar 23 2021 1:55 utc | 43

It seemed so easy for Turkey to sieze that strip of Syria.
But for 100 years the brits are foiling the turk ambitions.
Seems that Syria is one of those states that is not in fact master of its domain. Very unfortunate for the people.

Does seem there is an effort to malign the ruskies on multiple fronts. Though Ukraine is a mess I would think it is strategically more important - wasnt it a blunder to let NATO take Ukraine.

Posted by: jared | Mar 23 2021 2:07 utc | 44

As we say in south memphis, Erdogan with the sh##....can't fault a cat willing to let loot valuation decline but on the real no EU tricks got the balls to hem him up

Posted by: Dogon Priest | Mar 23 2021 2:16 utc | 45

@ dogon... are you far from the stax museum??? i visited quite a while back... i enjoyed the museum and surrounding area..

Posted by: james | Mar 23 2021 2:20 utc | 46

"This is contrary to the Moscow agreement with Russia."

Will it lead to a military confrontation? A trade dispute? Will Moscow use its friendship with Tuva (Shoigu is a Tuvan) to attack Russia from behind? And what will be the position of Podmoskovye (suburban belt of Moscow)?

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 23 2021 2:28 utc | 47

the Turks have no coice

Posted by: abee | Mar 23 2021 2:42 utc | 48

@ abee | Mar 23 2021 2:42 utc | 48 with the BBC link

Thanks for that and below is a quote from that piece of some merit
Turkey's interest rate stands at 19% which has attracted foreign investors to park their cash in the currency.

It doesn't take much to understand that paying out 19% for investment money to keep the economy afloat is not sustainable. This is just another of the spinning plates of dying empire on the fringes. I think that there are lots of spinning plates of empire that are about to not just become unstable and require focus but outright crash and break into pieces.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 23 2021 3:15 utc | 49

This is interesting because a year ago Biden was openly calling for another regime change attempt in Turkey.

Posted by: Carlton Meyer | Mar 23 2021 3:18 utc | 50

Mr. Piotr Berman

And how would the Cossacks react? Would they side with Russia or with Moscow?

Posted by: Fyi | Mar 23 2021 3:51 utc | 51

Posted by: abee | Mar 23 2021 1:19 utc | 41

Sorry but I could not make it through the full interview with that lying, murderous bastard. I hope that Ford's children and grandchildren read all of the comments posted below the video. Kudos to the interviewer for keeping a straight face. I would have lost my lunch...

Posted by: farm ecologist | Mar 23 2021 4:12 utc | 52

@karlof1 | Mar 23 2021 1:08 utc | 37
Sure Russia started well enough, saved Damascus and cleaned up a bunch of jihadi trash. In fact, since we're now easily six years further, it's useful to revisit that time. Remember how Russia laughed at the Western conceit of "moderate opposition"? In reaction, Moscow said it'd bomb radical terrorists radically, and moderate ones moderately. Nowadays Russia is down with the "opposition" conceit, as long as it's used for pro-Turkish headchoppers. As long as there was a message of restoring state order, securing Syria's borders, and chasing the bad guys away, Putin was a rock star throughout the Middle East. But the Kremlin totally misread the West in thinking they could be brought around for "partnership"--as if Russia doesn't have Zionists at home to learn from how those think. And the Kremlin critters got dollar signs in their eyes at the opportunity to sell weapons to their enemies, badly dropping the ball on more important issues.

Yes, I don't like it when I see Putin speaking not as a partner of Syria, but speaking for Syria as if he owns the place already. Talks on the political future of Syria should be held in Damascus, chaired by Assad--that is, if you want to support the legitimacy of the Syrian state, instead of undermine it. And France and, well, who not, have found that they can bomb Syria whenever they feel like it and build bases there on stolen land without facing any adverse consequences from the Teddybear. You may condemn these words as "smears" but I don't see why of all politicians, Putin alone should be insulated from criticism. Either way, many people who count more than me see the same as I do, and are now trying their luck at pushing the Russki's out of the way just a bit further.

Admittedly, this year in Moscow there seems to be some reflection, or at least a dawning realization, of how little they got out of a decade of appeasement; interesting times. The West may well be duplicitous, but all this time it has been very frank that it wants a Russian enemy. The Kremlin might as well have paid attention.

Posted by: Ma Laoshi | Mar 23 2021 4:25 utc | 53

@16 Great post sir.

The Bear is growling,
The Sultan is shifting,
The Eagle is rekindling the Trident,
The Climax approaches..

Posted by: Lozion | Mar 23 2021 4:39 utc | 54

How many femicides in Turkey are covered up as suicides?

Posted by: Mao | Mar 23 2021 5:04 utc | 55

@Ma Laoshi

The reason your argument is wrong is that Russia holds no illusions...they are well aware of everyone's intentions and always have been. They are playing for time.

A Russian war with Turkey is a terrible outcome for Russia. There is nothing in Syria worth that.

As James mentions you a simplyfying the situation to the point of absurdity. Whether this is because of bad analysis or disingenuousness I cannot tell?

Russia has a weak hand in Syria. In a full on confrontation Turkey/NATO/USA they will lose. Their weak hand has been played masterfully, and with minimal investment.

Russia is doing the right thing...digging in and waiting.

Posted by: Jason | Mar 23 2021 5:27 utc | 56

@Jason | Mar 23 2021 5:27 utc | 56
Maybe we can at least agree that Russia's current hand in Syria is much weaker than its patriots confidently predicted: it's stuck with a Syrian client it can't afford to rebuild, and which can't rebuild itself. The borders of this de facto mini-Syria are porous to moderates of all stripes, and it doesn't sound as if Team Biden will be stingy with weapons for them.

>digging in and waiting
Always this. The SAA's march to the East was punctuated by time-is-on-Russia's-side moments, each of them proclaimed to be Putin's latest masterstroke. And then all of a sudden, the Dark Throne was sitting pretty on the Omar fields--oops... "Yeah but Russia got their hypocrisy exposed." Exposed where, when the Empire controls the media that matter? Besides, Uncle Sam likes being the bad guy, as long as it means he's properly feared; Trump was merely a colorful example of this.

Posted by: Ma Laoshi | Mar 23 2021 7:14 utc | 57

Nope, the digging in and waiting period only began a little while back. Until then
the SAA pushed as far as they could without taking serious losses.

Rebuilding? Who said anything about rebuilding? The war hasn't even been fought yet. All that has taken place so far is a prepping of the battlefield. Skirmishes.

As far as the western media goes, who cares? Everyone knows that is a lost cause.

The USA is not in good shape it is deteriorating. Russia, China and Iran have only just reached the point where there militaries are ready for a confrontation, and they could use more time. The longer USA waits to attack, the worse position they will be in.

Posted by: Jason | Mar 23 2021 8:25 utc | 58

OT but Donbas. Both france and Germany are putting pressure on Zelensky to back off. They do not support Kiev.

Clearly a new war in the "underpants" of Europe does not seem like a good idea.

This does not exclude a "false flag" to put pressure/blame on Russia.

What is interesting is the implied "split" between the US and the EU.
JohninMK | Mar 22 2021 21:15 utc | 23
Excellent post Thanks.

Posted by: Stonebird | Mar 23 2021 8:56 utc | 59

Said it once, will say it again:

Make Istanbul Constantinople Again.

Posted by: Jezabeel | Mar 23 2021 9:12 utc | 60

Another layer in the unfolding of events or just a canard?

From M. K. Bhadrakumar's TL:

White House: US will formally recognize Armenian genocide. #AboutTime

Explosive affront to Turkey. Sub-plot: Further sign Biden wading into Nagorno-Karabakh where Putin single-handedly established peace.

Posted by: v | Mar 23 2021 9:53 utc | 61

@ Jason (56)

Re: "Russia has a weak hand in Syria. In a full on confrontation Turkey/NATO/USA they will lose. Their weak hand has been played masterfully, and with minimal investment.

Russia is doing the right thing...digging in and waiting."

You are entirely right, if anything you understate the case. The Russian Federation has a population about the same as that of France and Germany combined, their military spending is approximately the same as that of the UK. In the event of a confrontation with NATO they would most certainly be outmatched and forced to use nuclear weapons or surrender. Many people appear to have completely unrealistic expectations of the Russians.

Posted by: MarkU | Mar 23 2021 10:30 utc | 62

@ Jack Oliver (63)

You could at least tell us why you said that.

Posted by: MarkU | Mar 23 2021 11:20 utc | 63

I will be the contrarian. In a hand to hand combat, the size or contents of the purse does not matter. The fight is decided in the first seconds of the fight ( i.e. David and Goliath). In a drawn out fight, the fight is won by he who is closest and lost by he who has longer and farther logistic re supply issues. Same could be said about motivation. He who fights at home for survival is able to do more with less (Houthis) than he who fights distant from home and is far less vested in the outcome ( Saudi hired mercs). Thus, it doesn’t really matter at all if Russia, Iran, Syria, Iraq or Yemen have a smaller Defence budget that NATO-USA-Israel- Saudi combined Offence budget. For what is worth, the Saudis outspend the Russians and the Iranians yet it is money flowing out the drain. Plus, he who strikes the hardest first at the time of his choosing, even if asymmetrically (i.e. David and Goliath) has the advantage of surprise and shock. The fight lasts until the other side loses interest and the will to fight (i.e. Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, Yemen, 2006 Lebanon war, etc).

Posted by: Sun Tzu | Mar 23 2021 11:32 utc | 64

Dear Mr. or Mz. "Fyi"; ((Mar 23 2021 0:13 utc | 33))
You wrote:
"No competent government in China will tolerate a repeat of those past episodes of chaos that had resulted in tens of millions of deaths. You saw what they did in Tien An Men."
The wording "in Tiananmen" implies either in the residential area called "Tiān'ān-mén" situated East ov the "Forbidden City palace complex -- or alternatively "within the gate called 'Tiānān-mén'("mén"/門/门 means 'gate/entrance).
You are probably believing that You are referring to the "Tiān'ān-mén Square" -- where no mass killing has happened since 1976. (Foreign Western Propaganda be damned for having mislead You!)

Posted by: Tadlak Davidovitsh N | Mar 23 2021 11:34 utc | 65

abee #41

interview with ex US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford (Aaron Mate interviewer)

March 20, 2021

Thank you for that link abee. Aaron Mate is a mighty accomplished journalist and this interview will be a point of reference for many years to come. Mate pays out enough rope for evil pricks like Ford to hang themselves. Ford sure doesn't get that old crime against humanity clause does he? These thugs like Ford are the lowest form of life.

It will be interesting to see if Ford suddenly appears in bright lights and draped in the flag on MSNBC or The Young Turks over the coming months.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Mar 23 2021 12:02 utc | 66

@ Posted by: Ma Laoshi | Mar 23 2021 4:25 utc | 53

Excellent points.

Russia is wounded, tired old bear.
It cannot protect others and cannot take the fight to others.
Putin is trying to win the war with mind powers. The US counters by behaving like morons - immune to reason and in no need of reason.

The US is a supremely powerful monster, but it provokes, threatens and alienates its allies and foes. It expends it power at a great rate and to what achievement - increasingly to hold its ground. And still the US has allies, if uneasy ones.

Russia is looking for allies, but none are willing to draw wrath of the monster.

Syria's best chance would be to be absorbed by Turkey - is my impression. They do not have the means to defend themselves as a sovereign nation.

Is Ukraine to be the next middle east - not worth having so simply destroy it.

Posted by: jared | Mar 23 2021 12:12 utc | 67

Maybe for once the EU politicians have understood that a war in Ukraine would be the perfect time for Erdogan to release thousands of "refugees" half as mercenaries and half to reach the supposedly safe and wealthy EU borders?

Posted by: Mina | Mar 23 2021 12:13 utc | 68

Sun Tzu @65: "...he who strikes the hardest first at the time of his choosing...has the advantage of surprise and shock.

This advantage goes to the USA. Everyone else pulls their punches and tries to achieve their objectives with the minimal violence necessary in the hopes that deescalation remains an option. The USA sees no shame in pretending peaceful intentions and then sucker-punching those they want to destroy once they let their guard down. America fully believes in "Shock & Awe" and the "Shock Doctrine". The global gangsters come out with guns blazing every time.

In a global scale drawn out fight the advantage goes to the side with the industrial capacity to build ships, tanks, aircraft, and missiles faster than they are consumed in combat. Between Russia and the US this advantage leans slightly in Russia's favor. If China gets involved then the advantage goes entirely and overwhelmingly in China's favor. In a fight between the evil empire and China the Americans will have to wrap it up in a few days or they will get crushed. If the fight drags on for a year or longer then the empire will be a lost cause... a total write-off.

In a quick and restrained skirmish the advantage goes to the side that already has a global military presence: the empire. In a protracted knock-down, drag-out brawl that global military presence becomes a target rich environment full of weak points that can be easily crippled.

Posted by: William Gruff | Mar 23 2021 12:15 utc | 69

Events in Ukraine are confusing and chaotic as the above makes clear. Attacking Donbass now could bring down the regime in a defeat.

Posted by: Eighthman | Mar 23 2021 12:27 utc | 70

This article is interesting.
The dilemma facing Ankara’s Western partners is “how we don’t lose Turkey without giving Erdogan a free pass.” The question has gained fresh urgency as the Turkish leader threatens to acquire a second batch of S-400s and Russia’s Sukhoi Su-57 and Su-35 fighter jets. Erdogan has no intention of quitting NATO, and relinquishing the status, protection and leverage it offers in its dealings with other competitors, including Russia. But he skillfully exploits Western fears to avoid harsh consequences for Turkey’s increasingly roguish behavior, the sources observed.

Posted by: gary mc kinnon | Mar 23 2021 12:49 utc | 71

In the Mate interview, Ford conveniently ignores the Jisr al Shughur attack and pretends that militarized violence from the protesters started only in August, but Mate recalls him!

Posted by: Mina | Mar 23 2021 12:52 utc | 72

@ William Gruff #70

This advantage goes to the USA.

Not necessarily. Who imposed his will on South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Crimea?

Posted by: Sun Tzu | Mar 23 2021 13:08 utc | 73

Perhaps Turkey is planning to take Syria off Russia's hands and will be punished for doing so.
It's win-win-draw

Posted by: jared | Mar 23 2021 13:10 utc | 74

@ Posted by: Mina | Mar 23 2021 12:52 utc | 74

Mina, I believe you are correct in the view that the U.S. is in the wrong.
But how is that important?

Posted by: jared | Mar 23 2021 13:19 utc | 75

Re: Putin,

Well I'm not going to argue much because nobody knows how this comes out, but Putin appears to me to be the Master of Minimalism. Three times now (Georgia, Ukraine, Syria) when presented with "attacks" intended to draw him into counter-attack, distraction, and over-reach, he has done the same sort of thing:

1.) Stomp the inferior attackers and expel them at minimal cost
2.) Stop there, leaving the problem unsolved
3.) Get back to his own agenda

And thus it is his enemies who are enmired, over-extended, unable to leave their "commitments", or do much else but bleed dry trying to "win". They have him "surrounded" but can do nothing.

He plays a formidable game with a weak hand, and these guys still want to "attack" him when he is no longer at a disadvantage. Hmmmm.

Posted by: Bemildred | Mar 23 2021 13:35 utc | 76

Posted by: William Gruff | Mar 23 2021 12:15 utc | 70

Sun Tzu @65: "...he who strikes the hardest first at the time of his choosing...has the advantage of surprise and shock.

This advantage goes to the USA. Everyone else pulls their punches and tries to achieve their objectives with the minimal violence necessary in the hopes that deescalation remains an option.


I don't think Sun Tzu's aphorism applies here.

This has nothing to do with an advantage of surprise or even shock.

It's to do with a military grotesquely outsized relative to it's invariably tiny and powerless victims.

Most if not all the aggression committed by the US military has been no surprise, the "shock" factor being not so much in the power of the attack but in it's complete contempt for any human sense of moral decency.

The US has no surprise advantage, it lumbers around the world telegraphing it's actions years in advance.

It is unable to translate either of these advantages into military effect against opponents approaching even a quarter of it's own power.

It's always easy to claim mastery of subtle arts of warfare against opponents multiple orders more inferior - no surprise there but it only counts when facing an opponent that can do serious defensive damage.

And the US has not faced such an opponent in the modern era of warfare.

In its conflicts against Russia (Georgia 2008), China (Korea, Hainan Island) and Iran (Ain Al Asad) it is in fact the US that ended up being shocked and surprised.

Posted by: Arch Bungle | Mar 23 2021 13:46 utc | 77

Sun Tzu @75

Quite true, but that wasn't "Shock & Awe". That was the empire waking up in the morning to find the chess pieces had appeared to unexpectedly move to new positions on the board while they were not watching, leaving the empire in check. That is more baffling for the empire than shocking.

Posted by: William Gruff | Mar 23 2021 14:02 utc | 78

Mr. Tadlak Davidovitsh N

Thank you for your comments.

My understanding has been that the Chinese Government sent tanks to go over the protestors, who were mostly workers and not students at that time.

The tanks went over them - at the Gate of Heavenly Peace - several times and flattened them.

That was how order was restored.

Looking at what happened in Syria and in Libya, one must admit the efficacy of the Chinese methods.

Posted by: fyi | Mar 23 2021 14:12 utc | 79

Mr. Arch Bungle

Your observations reminded me of when Spain was a world power, specially under the late Philip II.

She dissipated herself against plucky little England was soundly routed, her Armada destroyed.

The lumbering ships of the Armada had to fight the nimble smaller ships of the English.

The English had their back against the wall, and Spain was not giving them a rosy plausible view of the future; so the English had no reason to fear death, as Protestants, they were to be massacred in any case.

And likewise in the Low Countries.

In retrospect, Spain would have been better advised to avoid fighting on all fronts in Europe, while she had her huge Empire to administer.

Hubris then, Hubris now.

Posted by: fyi | Mar 23 2021 14:23 utc | 80

Bemildred @78, Arch Bungle @79

So the shock then is that of the stymied bully not getting his way like he is accustomed to? I like that kind of shock much more than the shock experienced by the survivors of the wedding party that the empire drones.

Posted by: William Gruff | Mar 23 2021 14:31 utc | 81

Ten years on, Syria is almost destroyed. Who’s to blame?

Posted by: Mao | Mar 23 2021 14:31 utc | 82

Alastair Crooke has an interesting piece. (

The key passage is:

'Nonetheless, the globalist call to arms is evident. The world clearly has changed during the last four years. Globalist forces, therefore, are being mobilised to win a last battle in the ‘long-war’ – looking to break-through everywhere. Defeating Trump is the first goal. Discrediting all varieties of European populism is another. The U.S. thinks to lead the maritime and rim-land powers in imposing a searing psychological, technological and economic defeat on the Russia-China-Iran alliance.'

This conclusion aligns with the events that we are seeing in Syria and the Ukraine.

To me, it resembles the adage that 'the losers continue to fight long after the war has been lost'. The reason is that their leaders cannot admit defeat.

Posted by: dh-mtl | Mar 23 2021 14:31 utc | 83

Mr. Ma Laoshi

In Iran as well as in Russia, there are vocal, and at times quite articulate human beings that pine to be Friends of the West. Some even aspire - however misguided that aspiration may be - of being (Western) Europeans. That line of thinking, that attitude, had to be contended with by the Iranian as well as by the Russian leaders.

The accommodation of Western interests - at the time that Russia was weak - and the conclusion of JCPOA - when Iranian establishment had been weakened by the Green Movement - were necessary since the a large percentage of the population believed, quite wrongly as it turned out, that the West was their friend and their own governments were their enemies, preventing them from joining the Better-than-Us Community of the (Civilized) Nations of the Western Alliance.

In due course, the United States discredited West-friendly people among the Russian and the Iranian people by pursuing policies antithetical to the interests of the Russian people as well as the Iranian people. But in both countries, the governments had to wait for the people to catch up with the leaders' strategic thinking. As a leader, one cannot be too far ahead of those whom one leads.

The West has lost the Rus, the Shia, and the Iranians.

Posted by: fyi | Mar 23 2021 14:35 utc | 84 seems to me that the US has decided that taking on other countries one at a time is too pedestrian by half. Now they're going to take on everyone at once. Russia, China, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq - new offensives coming soon to the Americas, maybe Myanmar.

That all ought to end well.

Posted by: Stephen T Johnson | Mar 23 2021 14:37 utc | 85

Naomi Wolf:

In 2008, I wrote a book, The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot. I warned, based on my study of closing democracies in 20th century history, that America needed to beware of a slide toward totalitarianism.

I warned that would-be tyrants, whether they are on the left or the right, always use a map to close down democracies, and that they always take the same ten steps. Whether it’s “Invoke a Terrifying Internal and External Threat,” “Create a Thug Caste,” “Target the Press,” or the final step, “Suspend the Rule of Law,” these steps are always recognizable; and they always work to crush democracies and establish tyrannies. At that time, the “global threat” of terrorism was the specter that powers invoked in order to attack our freedoms.

Talk by Naomi Wolf author of "The End of America: Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot" given October 11, 2007 at Kane Hall on the University of Washington campus:

Interview with Naomi Wolf author of "The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot":

Posted by: Mao | Mar 23 2021 14:47 utc | 86

Posted by: Mao | Mar 23 2021 14:47 utc | 88

Naomi Wolf? Really? After she went totally nuts writing about time-travelling and aliens etc, she lately embarrassed herself by retweeting a suppossedly doctor with an anti-vacc. message. Unfortunately for her, the doctor wasn't a doctor but British porn star Johnny Sims.

Should be enough to discredit her for life.

Posted by: v | Mar 23 2021 15:00 utc | 87

Master of Minimalism. Three times now (Georgia, Ukraine, Syria) when presented with "attacks" intended to draw him into counter-attack, distraction, and over-reach, he has done the same sort of thing:

1.) Stomp the inferior attackers and expel them at minimal cost
2.) Stop there, leaving the problem unsolved
3.) Get back to his own agenda

And thus it is his enemies who are enmired, over-extended, unable to leave their "commitments", or do much else but bleed dry trying to "win". They have him "surrounded" but can do nothing.

by: Bemildred @ 78 <== brilliant analysis.. they build a fire, Putin erects for-sale by Russia signs, sells several billion in fire fighting equipment to the Pyro-techs and goes on holiday.

Posted by: snake | Mar 23 2021 15:06 utc | 88

james @ 29, I agree, and lest we forget, the original 'Great Game' was centered on Afghanistan. I think I will revisit that pretty good movie "Kim". Rudyard Kipling, here we come!

Posted by: juliania | Mar 23 2021 15:57 utc | 89

@v | Mar 23 2021 15:00 utc | 87

the doctor wasn't a doctor but British porn star Johnny Sims.

Sins or Sims, it's all the same isn't it?


Posted by: Norwegian | Mar 23 2021 16:30 utc | 90

jayc @22 "It appears that if either Syria or Donbass go "hot", they both will go hot."

There may be something to this. Syria and the Ukraine have had an odd connection from the beginning--after all, while "something" had long been planned for the Ukraine, kicking it into a full scale coup in 2014 was in many ways a strike against Russia for out-maneuvering Obama when Putin had Syria surrender its chemical weapons stockpiles and deprived Obama of his much advertised casus belli.

To date, Russia has punched well above its weight with what is really a surprisingly small force in Syria itself and relies heavily on resupply from Russia. There is perhaps a calculation among the neocons running US policy that significant offensive action in both Syria and the Ukraine at the same time would in essence force Russia to focus on the Donbass (being much closer and a more direct threat to Russians), thus making resupply of Syria more problematic and hopefully allowing for significant head chopper gains there. And even if US proxies "lost" in both the Ukraine and Syria, Russia would still lose because in order to prevail Russia would have to act much more openly and forcefully, which would then be used against it in dealings with the EU, NSII, etc. And they might even be thinking even if things go horribly wrong, it can be blamed on Biden's dementia and wash their hands of it.

I'm not saying this calculation is correct, as Russia has thus far managed to do vastly more with less on every front, but I could see this being the thinking in Washington.

Posted by: J Swift | Mar 23 2021 16:44 utc | 91

J I certainly see that as a risk however given the structure of the Russian military with very distinctly different military districts the problem may be limited. The response to Ukraine is under the Western military district whereas the Central Military District I believe is the one dealing with Syria.

Posted by: Merandor | Mar 23 2021 16:59 utc | 92

Re: Putin,

Well I'm not going to argue much because nobody knows how this comes out, but Putin appears to me to be the Master of Minimalism. Three times now (Georgia, Ukraine, Syria) when presented with "attacks" intended to draw him into counter-attack, distraction, and over-reach, he has done the same sort of thing:

1.) Stomp the inferior attackers and expel them at minimal cost
2.) Stop there, leaving the problem unsolved
3.) Get back to his own agenda

And thus it is his enemies who are enmired, over-extended, unable to leave their "commitments", or do much else but bleed dry trying to "win". They have him "surrounded" but can do nothing.

He plays a formidable game with a weak hand, and these guys still want to "attack" him when he is no longer at a disadvantage. Hmmmm.

All one need do is listen carefully to what Lavrov says.... "We are taking steps to obviate the effects of our being cutoff from payment settlements via SWIFT. We have shifted, and are continuing to shift payment settlements to the Rouble, or National Currencies" AND......... what Putin says:" We continue to develop cutting edge technologies".

Yes, the Russians are buying for time... NATO's response to COVID was a godsend... It has done more to equalize strength between Russia/China vis a vis NATO.... in a shorter time.... than anything else...

Then it was also necessary to convince the Chinese they had to be more confrontational. Russia didn't need to convince the Iranians... they have instead been trying to convince the Russians, Chinese, Pakistanis, etc for years..

Finally, Russia, China, and Iran are on the same page WRT confronting NATO.

As for the CGB in the med..... their ships in the Black Sea are in a shooting gallery. Those units are vulnerable to electronic warfare, and basically are surrounded.

As for the Putchists of Ukraine... that region is now in the season of mud.... nothing going to happen for 2 months, until the ground dries out.

The real kicker is the coming decline in world oil production.... 10% / annum for the next 5 years....
Except in Russia and Iran.... That is why the US won't leave Iraq.... needs the oil too much... So it will be expelled, kicking and screaming....


Posted by: Dr. George W Oprisko | Mar 23 2021 18:54 utc | 93

FYI @ 79:

Tadlak Davidovich @ 65 is correct. Reports of Beijing massacring hundreds or thousands of student protesters in June 1989 turned out to be propaganda and lies, many coming from the BBC. The actual killing was done by extremists among the student protesters, away from Tiananmen Square: they attacked the police and some military units, caught and stripped a number of police officers and soldiers, killed them (some by hanging) and burned them in a manner eerily reminiscent of the lynching murders of black people in parts of the southern US during much of the 20th century. I have seen some photos of these lynched police officers and soldiers online. Many of the extremists who committed murder were later given safe haven in the US.

Yes the Tiananmen Square protests were a Color Revolution in action. They failed because the behaviour of some "students" repelled public sympathy. You would have thought the regime-change planners in the US State Department, the CIA and other alphabet-named agencies might have learned something from this failure.

Posted by: Jen | Mar 23 2021 20:01 utc | 94

J Swift 91

Washington underestimates the Russians capability to fight and supply simultaneously on two fronts. Partly because if/when it kicks off in Ukraine there is no resupply issue, it will be over in under a week if not two days so there will be no urgent resupply needed. Also the munitions used will be different to those used in Syria and are all there now and have been for decades.

By now Russia had stocks of all it needs for its campaign either in place or ready to move when the Syrian Express gets its capacity boost, probably early next week.

The US often judges its opponents by the way it thinks. Not a good idea. No American has had to defend its countries borders against attackers for a very long time, the Mexicans?

Posted by: JohninMK | Mar 23 2021 20:15 utc | 95

Mr. fyi@79:

My understanding has been that the Chinese Government sent tanks to go over the protestors, who were mostly workers and not students at that time.

The tanks went over them - at the Gate of Heavenly Peace - several times and flattened them.

That was how order was restored.

Your understanding is exactly what the western MSM planted in your brain. You, like millions and millions others in the western world, swallowed them hook, line, and sinker. You saw a 1-minute CNN film clip and thought you know 3 months of event evolution in totality. You thus believed what you wanted to believe all along.

You just verified the virility of western MSM's brainwashing ability!!! They are indeed good.

Posted by: Oriental Voice | Mar 23 2021 20:19 utc | 96

Ms Jen:

Could please furnish references to accounts of the Tien An Man events that you find credible?

Posted by: fyi | Mar 23 2021 20:23 utc | 97

Mr. Dr. George W Oprisko

When Americans (read Judeo-Christians) employed their economic nuclear weapons against Iran in order to starve her population and destroy Iran, they demonstrated a capability that the world had not expected to be utilized in that wanton manner.

There was an expectation that such a capability would be used only in extremis, when survival of the United States and her alliance structure were at stake as all elements of a war.

That was not to be.

So, men in Washington, equally wantonly, can decide to starve Korea, or Japan, or Singapore, or Chile.

The world does not operate in that manner - others will take counter-measures - like Mr. Putin is doing.

That Iran has withstood that attack, also gives impetus to others in devising counter-measures.

Posted by: fyi | Mar 23 2021 20:29 utc | 98

Hezbollah fires a warning shot at American oil thieves. As Sputnik reports:

US-Led Coalition Says One Rocket Landed 'Hundreds of Metres Away' From American Soldiers in Syria

The statement refutes earlier reports of casualties caused by the rocket attack at the military installation near the Conoco gas field in the Deir ez-Zor province as reported by the Al-Mayadeen broadcaster.

I saw the earlier rumors of ambulances carrying away US wounded and several Americans dying.

The story reminds me of the 2019 mine attacks on tankers on the roads outside the Emirati port of Fujairah. Then too al-Mayadeen exaggerated the efects of the attack and seemed to know of them while they were happening. Or at least before any other news media reported on them.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Mar 23 2021 20:33 utc | 99

Mr. Oriental Voice:

Could you please recommend accounts that, in your opinion, are reliable?

Posted by: fyi | Mar 23 2021 20:34 utc | 100

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