The People’s Defense Forces (HPG), a military wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), claimed that it had attacked 6 military bases in the southern Turkish provinces of Hakkari and Sirnak on November 9 and November 10. The HPG stated that 17 Turkish soldiers were killed and 32 others were wounded as a result of the attack. 8 soldiers are also missing, according to the HPG.

It should be noted that early on November 10 that the PKK also carried out an attack on several targets inside and south of the capital of Sirnak province with seven armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). According to Turkish sources, the UAVs failed to reach their targets due to technical failures and possible jamming by the Turkish military.

The province of Sirnak borders both northern Syria and Iraq. An interesting thing is that the recent PKK attacks confirm multiple Turkish statements that Kurdish armed groups operating in these areas, mostly the People’s Protection Units (YPG), pose a direct threat to the Turkish national security.

On November 13, 4 members of YPG-affiliated security forces were killed in the northern Syrian town of Manbij. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack via its news agency Amaq.

Manbij as well as the YPG-held areas east of the Euphrates River have been repeatedly described by Turkish leadership as a target of the upcoming anti-YPG operation. In late October, the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) delivered several strikes on YPG positions near the town of Kobani and deployed additional troops and equipment in southern Turksih provinces bordering the YPG-held area.

In November, Saif Abu Bakr, Military Chief of the Turkish-backed militant group Hamza Division, declared that members of his group are ready to participate in a large-scale operation against the YPG east of the Euphrates.

The YPG is the core of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The US support to the SDF is the reason of constant tensions between Ankara and Washington. For example, on November 12, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu slammed the US “double-faced policy” towards Turkey addressing the continued US support to Kurdish armed groups in northern Syria. He also said that the US receives 20% of the YPG revenue from the oil fields seized in the war-torn country.

If the US continues its political and military support to the YPG and the group will consolidate its power over the Arab areas captured in northeastern Syria setting a foothold for further PKK attacks on targets in southern Turkey, the Ankara-Washington relations will likely deteriorate further.


Syrian War Report – November 2, 2018: Syrian Army Discovers ISIS Depot With US-supplied Ammunition

South Front


On November 1, Hayat Tahir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) announced that its members had attacked positions of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) near the village of Abu Qamis in southeastern Idlib. Three SAA soldiers were reportedly killed.

A source in the SAA told SouthFront that clashes had erupted near the village, but declined to provide additional details. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least one Hayat Tahrir al-Sham member was killed.

Later on the same day, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and another al-Qaeda-linked group, Horas al-Din, shelled multiple SAA positions in northern Hama and western Aleppo.

Meanwhile, Turkish and US troops carried out a first joint patrol near the town of Manbij. The patrol was carried out near the Saju Stream, which separates the Turkish-held city of Jarabulus from Manbij, which is controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The SDF consists mostly of Kurdish armed formations like the YPG, which are considered as terrorist groups by Ankara.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar publicly promised that members of the YPG and another Kurdish armed group, the PKK, “will be buried in the trenches it has dug” near Manbij. He also stated that Ankara would continue its military operations against the PKK in northern Iraq, where the group has a wide infrastructure used for attacks in Turkey.

Sporadic clashes between the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the YPG/PKK are still ongoing near Kobani in Syria. Reports also appeared that the TAF is now forming a list of Turkish-backed groups, which would participate in a possible military operation against the YPG near the Euphrates River.

In the province of Deir Ezzor, the SAA uncovered a large ammunition depot, which included 450,000 bullets of 7.62×51mm caliber, near the city of al-Mayadin. This ammunition depot had been left behind by ISIS terrorists when they lost the battle for al-Mayadin to the SAA. According to the Syrian state media, this ammunition had been supplied by the US to Syrian militant groups, which then sold it to ISIS. Over the past few years, there have been multiple examples when US-backed “opposition groups” have appeared to be terrorist groups or openly cooperated with ISIS.

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November 1, 2018: SDF Halts Operation Against ISIS In Euphrates Valley Because Of Turkish Attacks

November 01, 2018

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which consist mainly of members of various Kurdish armed groups, declared on October 31 that they had halted their operation against ISIS in the Euphrates Valley because of Turkish attacks on their positions in northern Syria.

The SDF blamed Turkey for its own inability to eliminate the ISIS-held area of Hajin in the Euphrates Valley and called on the so-called international community to pressure Ankara to stop its strikes on SDF targets. The SDF also vowed to retaliate to attacks.

On October 30, October 31 and November 1, clashes between the Turkish military and units of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) were reported near the towns of Ayn Arab, also known as Kobani, and Tel Abyad. According to pro-Turkish sources, at least 4 members of the YPG and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) were killed and 6 others were injured there. The YPG claimed that its members had destroyed a Turkish military truck with an anti-tank guided missile.

As to the situation in the Hajin area, over the past few days ISIS units have achieved a notable progress in clashes with the SDF recapturing multiple positions from the US-backed group. The halt of the SDF operation there will likely contribute further to ISIS expansion in the direction of the Iraqi border.

The SDF and the US-led coalition have for a long time ignored the ISIS-held pocket around Hajin because its elimination would remove the main formal pretext allowing Washington to keep its forces in the war-torn country. Now, they bear the consequences of this approach.

33 soldiers of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) were killed in clashes with ISIS in the area of al-Safa in southeastern Syria, according to the terrorist group’s news agency Amaq. Pro-government sources have not commented on this claim yet. Should this be true, this would be the second failed SAA attempt to advance in al-Safa this week.

The key issue behind the SAA setbacks in the area is that most of its elite forces are now deployed near the Idlib de-escalation zone, which is mostly controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other al-Qaeda linked terrorist groups. So, by keeping a limited force in al-Safa, the SAA is able to deter ISIS operations, but is not able to put an end to the ISIS presence there.

Major General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman of the Russian Defense Ministry, revealed that Russian specialists are still training Syrian servicemembers to use S-300 air defense systems. Russia also supplied the advanced Polyana-D4M automated command and control system to the Syrian Air Defense Forces. Such systems, which serves as an upper level command post (CP) of air defense brigades and can handle up too 500 air targets, will be integrated into the air defense network created for the Syrian military.

هندسة أميركية جديدة لشرق الفرات ـ لماذا؟


أكتوبر 31, 2018

د. وفيق إبراهيم

ست سنوات لم تكن كافية للقضاء على منظمة داعش الإرهابية شرق الفرات… بيانات التحالف الدولي بقيادة الأميركيين تؤكد أنه بصدد القضاء على الإرهاب في الشرق والشمال ومعظم أنحاء سورية. وإنّ تراجعه ليس إلا ثمرة أعمالها الجوية والميدانية.

ويتّضح أنّ الدولة السورية بالتنسيق مع الغارات الجوية الروسية 220 غارة منذ ثلاث سنوات وحزب الله والمستشارين الإيرانيين هم الذين قضوا على داعش ومثيلاتها في كامل غرب سورية من الحدود الجنوبية حتى الشمال والشمال الغربي والوسط. فيما لا يزال هذا الإرهاب موجوداً في مواقع في شرق الفرات وحتى ضواحي مدينة حلب.

ما يدفع إلى التساؤل حول صدقية القوات الأميركية في محاربة داعش، وهل البؤر التي يتموضع فيها داعش داخل قاعدة التنف التي يحتلها الأميركيون عند نقطة سورية تربطها بالأردن والعراق.

ولأنّ هذا الانتشار الإرهابي لا يكفي ما يريده الأميركيون كما يبدو، فزعم هؤلاء أنّ سوء الأحوال الجوية في منطقة دير الزور شرق الفرات أتاح لألفي مسلح إرهابي من احتلال الأرياف في مناطق هجين وياغور والسوسة على حساب تراجع قوات سورية الديمقراطية الكردية التي سقط منها مئات القتلى والجرحى وسط حيادية كاملة للتحالف الأميركي… وكأنه لا يرى شيئاً على الرغم من أنّ هذه المعارك تطلبت أياماً طويلة من الاستعداد والتقدّم والهجوم وسط مراقبة دقيقة من الأقمار الاصطناعية الأميركية التي تراقب حتى حركة النبات وصغار الحيوان والحشرات، فكيف بالآليات والمدافع والبشر؟ وما هي الأسباب التي تفرض على القوات الأميركية السماح لداعش بالاقتراب من الحدود السورية العراقية؟

إنها تساؤلات بريئة لمحاولات أميركية ماكرة لها أهداف بعيدة.

في المنطلق، يمكن تأكيد ما يشبه الإجماع أنّ «قسد» الكردية ليست إلا مشروعاً أميركياً يتلاعب بالأحاسيس الوطنية للكرد على جاري عادة المستعمرين.

فاعتقد الكرد أنهم يلبّون بالضرورة حاجة أميركية، إنما من خلال تحقيق مشروعهم بدولة مستقلة لهم في شرق الفرات وشماله، موهمين أنفسهم بإمكانية إنجاز الهدفين معاً. فاستثاروا بذلك غضبين: الأتراك والدولة السورية… لجهة أنقرة فإنّ الكرد وسواس تاريخي كبير لهم لأنهم يشكلون 26 في المئة من سكان تركيا ولديهم مناطقهم المستقلة والجبلية الشديدة الوعورة شرق البلاد.

للتوضيح أكثر فإنّ معظم أكراد سورية هم تركيو الأصل طردهم أتاتورك في 1920 وهجّرهم إلى سورية.

ويصادف أنّ خطوط الاتصال الجغرافي تكاد تكون مفتوحة بين الأكراد في تركيا وسورية والعراق وإيران.. لكن مشكلتهم أنهم لا يملكون سواحل بحرية أو خطوط طيران متصلة مع الخارج، وكما أنّ خطوطهم البرية مقطوعة من العراق وإيران وسورية وتركيا.

لكن الأميركيين أوهموهم باحتمال نجاح كانتون لهم شرق الفرات يسيطر على حقول الغاز والنفط الوفيرة في شرق الفرات. على أن تتولى نقل منتجاتها شركات أميركية تستطيع الاستفادة من سواحل تركيا.

مع عودة كتلة كبيرة من داعش إلى المناطق الشرقية المطلة على حدود العراق ـ يمكن الجزم أنّ الصمت الأميركي عليه ليس بريئاً، بقدر ما يندرج في إطار خطة جديدة تلبّي مستجدات طرأت على حاجات واشنطن في سورية.

الكمين الأميركي في إدلب حيث نجح الضغط الأميركي ـ الأوروبي بإرجاء تحريرها حتى نهاية الوساطات التركية، علماً أنّ هذه المنطقة تسيطر عليها جبهة النصرة وحليفاتها من المنظمات المصنفة إرهابية.

ولأنّ واشنطن تعتبر تحرير إدلب مسألة وقت، سرعان ما يستدير بعدها السوريون والروس وحزب الله والإيرانيون نحو شرق الفرات، فكان أن بدأ الأميركيون بفبركة مزاعم بأنهم يقاتلون الإرهاب في تلك المنطقة.. ما يتطلّب بقاءهم حتى القضاء عليه.. وبما أنّ هذا الإرهاب لم يعد لديه ما يكفي من مناطق خاصة به.. ارتؤي توسيع انتشاره على حساب قسد الكردية.. وبشكل يخدم هدفين: تبرير بقاء الأميركيين في شرق الفرات بالذريعة الإرهابية ووضع داعش ومثيلاتها أمام قوات الحشد الشعبي المنتشرة على حدود العراق مع شرق سورية.. هذا الحشد الذي استشعر منذ شهر تقريباً بمحاولات أميركية لقطع الحدود بين البلدين ومنع أيّ تنسيق بينهما عسكرياً واقتصادياً وسياسياً.

هل تثير هذه الهندسة الأميركية غضب الكرد؟

يملك الأميركيون من الوسائل الكثيرة لإقناع «قسد»، فقد يقنعونها بأنهم يريدون إبعادها عن الصدام مع الجيش العراقي، ومحاولة الحفاظ عليها من إصرار الدولة السورية على رفض الكانتون الكردي.. وبواسطة داعش تصبح الدولة السورية مضطرة إلى تركيز اهتمامها على الإرهاب وتترك الكرد إلى مراحل مقبلة.. وهذه هي الأهداف التي تريدها واشنطن وفي مطلعها إطالة الأزمة السورية.. لأسباب جيوبوليتيكية صرفة، تتعلق بصراعهم الإقليمي مع الروس.

فهؤلاء صاعدون في سياسات الإقليم يبيعون سلاحهم المتقدّم لمصر والهند وقطر والسعودية وسورية وتركيا وأميركا الجنوبية وجنوب شرق آسيا.. وهذا السلاح يحتاج إلى صيانة لمدة سنوات، تربط عادة بين البائع والشاري بالاقتصاد والسياسة.

لذلك فإنّ الإمبراطورية الأميركية المتراجعة في لبنان وسورية والعراق واليمن والعاجزة عن تحطيم إيران، تشعر أنّ رحيلها عن شرق الفرات يعني سيادة الدولة السورية على كامل أراضيها.. وهذا تفسير واحد وهو أنّ الاستقرار السوري يُمهِّد لروسيا منصة انطلاق قوية نحو الإقليم من العراق إلى اليمن ومصر. وهذا ما يتحاشاه البيت الأبيض.

وهناك في الأفق البعيد حركة أميركية لجذب الأتراك.. فسيطرة داعش على قسم من جغرافية «قسد».. يثير فرح الأتراك وتأييدهم.. خصوصاً أنّ الرئيس أردوغان قال منذ أيام عدة بأنّ قواته ذاهبة في الأيام المقبلة لمحاربة الكرد شرقي سورية. فهل هذه مصادفة.. يهاجم الإرهابيون قسد في الموعد نفسه! وتقصف طائرات تركية مواقع للكرد عند حدود شرق سورية مع شماله.

إنها الهندسة الأميركية التي لا تعمل إلا لمصلحة الجيوبوليتيك الأميركي الكوني الذي يستعمل الكرد والعشائر والمعارضة والإرهاب والدور التركي في سبيل مصالحه العليا.

انظروا إلى حركة التاريخ حتى تتبيّنوا كم مرّة باعت الدول الكبرى الثورة العربية الكبرى والمحاولات الكردية ومعظم الحركات التاريخية مقابل حفنة من البترول والاقتصاد والجغرافيا.

لكن شرق الفرات يرتبط أيضاً بهندسة سورية، روسية، إيرانية، لن تتأخر طويلاً في مباشرة عمليات تحريره وهي التي تؤدّي فعلياً إلى السيادة السورية الكاملة وبدء الروس بتحقيق الجيوبوليتيك الخاص بهم، ونجاح إيران في الخروج من الحصار المفروض عليها منذ ثلاثة عقود ونيّف.

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ثبوت «النية المسبقة» لقتل خاشقجي لا يعطّل النيّة المسبقة لصفقة مرابحةٍ ثلاثية

أكتوبر 29, 2018

د. عصام نعمان

للمرة الثالثة تبدّل السعودية روايتها لملابسات تصفية جمال خاشقجي. فمن رواية القتل أثناء «شجار واشتباك بالأيدي» داخل قنصليتها في اسطنبول، إلى رواية القتل بـ «كتم النَفَس»، إلى إقرارٍ من النيابة العامة في الرياض بأنّ المشتبه فيهم « أقدموا على فعلتهم بنية مسبقة».

ثبوت النية المسبقة للقتل لدى المشتبه فيهم السعوديين لم يعطّل نية دونالد ترامب المسبقة لتفادي إدانة محمد بن سلمان بل لتبرئته. إدانة ولي العهد وهو الحاكم الفعلي للبلاد تعني إدانة السعودية دولةً ومسؤولين. لوحظ منذ بداية تواتر الظنون والإتهامات ان ليس في نية الرئيس الأميركي التسليم بإدانة محمد بن سلمان لأنها تستتبع بالضرورة إنزال عقوبات شديدة بالسعودية ليس أقلها صرف النظر عن صفقة تزويدها أسلحةً بقيمة 110 مليار دولار.

ليس ترامب وحده من يستهول خسارة الصفقة المليارية. لوبي صنّاع السلاح وتجّاره في الولايات المتحدة يشاطر شاغل البيت الأبيض موقفه الحريص على مصلحة «أميركا أولاً». «رابطةُ الصناعات الجوية» التي تضمّ كبريات شركات الصناعات العسكرية كـ «لوكهيد مارتن» و«نورتروب جورمان» و«بوينغ» و«ريثون» و«جنرال داينمكس» بعثت برسالة إلى إدارة ترامب تتضمّن «نقاطاً طارئة» هي بمثابة برنامج عمل لصنّاع السلاح لاعتماده في الضغط على صنّاع القرار في الولايات المتحدة. تتمحور نقاط الرسالة على حجة رئيسة مفادها «أننا، ببيعنا المنتجات الأميركية للحلفاء والشركاء، نستطيع أن نضمن ألاّ يتمكّن أعداؤناً من أن يحلّوا محلنا في علاقاتنا السياسية والعسكرية والاقتصادية».

إلى ترامب ولوبي السلاح الأميركي، تحظى السعودية بدعم ضمني من «إسرائيل» واللوبي اليهودي الصهيوني «إيباك» في واشنطن، ذلك لأنّ لـ «إسرائيل»، بحسب دان شابيرو، سفير الولايات المتحدة السابق في تل أبيب، «مصلحة قوية في أن تبقى السعودية حليفة للولايات المتحدة من أجل القيام بأفضل الاستعدادات لمواجهة إيران» راجع مقالته في صحيفة «هآرتس» بتاريخ 2018/10/19 .

في إطار التحسّب لموقف إدارة ترامب وانعكاسه المحتمل على العلاقة الضمنية المتنامية بين «إسرائيل» والسعودية في مواجهة إيران، نشر زلمان شوفال، سفير تل أبيب السابق في واشنطن، مقالة في صحيفة «معاريف» 2018/10/22 كشف فيها انّ زيارة وزير الخارجية الأميركي مايك بومبيو الأخيرة الى الرياض واجتماعه الى الملك سلمان وولي عهده انتهت الى التفاهم على «صيغة أساسُها اعتراف السعودية بما حدث من دون تفاصيل أو من دون الإشارة إلى مسألة مَن أعطى الأوامر، وانّ هذا السيناريو يفترض أن يؤدّي إلى محاكمة استعراضية تجري للذين نفذوا الجريمة في القنصلية السعودية في اسطنبول».

ما موقف تركيا مما جرى على أراضيها وما دورها المرتقب في سيناريو «اللفلفة» الجاري على قدم وساق؟

قيل إن «لا أحد في الشرق الأوسط يقدّم خدمات مجانية». أورد هذا القول السفير شابيرو في مقالته آنفة الذكر. من هنا فإنّ همّ أنقرة الرئيس سوف يتركّز، بطبيعة الحال، على الثمن الممكن استخلاصه من السعودية وأميركا مقابل «لفلفة» هذه الجريمة الحدث التي ارتكبت فوق الأرض التركية. في هذا السياق، تابَع ويتابع رجب طيب أردوغان ووزير خارجيته مولود جاويش أوغلو الكشف بالتدريج عن الوقائع والحقائق التي تتوصل اليها التحقيقات في القنصلية السعودية ومحيطها ومع موظفيها، مقرونةً بحرصهما على طرح المزيد من الأسئلة المحرجة حول هوية الآمر الفعلي بارتكاب الجريمة وعن مصير جثة خاشقجي. غير أنهما في كلّ ما يقولانه يحرصان أيضاً على إبقاء باب المفاوضة والمساومة والمقايضة مفتوحاً مع الرياض ومع واشنطن بدليل استبعاد جاويش أوغلو إحالة القضية على المحكمة الجنائية الدولية.

ما هي الخطوط العريضة المحتملة لصفقة القرن الجديدة بين العواصم الثلاث؟

ما يهمّ الرياض، بالدرجة الأولى، إبعاد أصابع الاتهام عن ولي العهد محمد بن سلمان لتبقى السلطة في عهدته ومعها تبرئة سمعة المملكة التي لاكتها ألوف الألسنة بالذمّ والتأثيم والتجريم احتجاجاً وإدانةً لحربها الظالمة على اليمن، ولنصرتها الحرب الإرهابية في سورية وعليها بالتعاون مع الولايات المتحدة وتركيا، وانخراطها في «الحرب الناعمة» التي يشنّها التحالف الصهيوأميركي على إيران والتزام تصنيفها العدو الأول للعرب في الحاضر والمستقبل بدلاً من الكيان الصهيوني العنصري التوسّعي المغتصب.

ما يهمّ أنقرة، بالدرجة الأولى، الحصول من السعودية على تعويضٍ مالي وازن مقابل امتناعها عن إدانة محمد بن سلمان، والضغط على واشنطن لحملها على التسليم بهيمنة تركيا على شمال سورية، ولا سيما على مناطق شرق الفرات، بدعوى تحصين الأمن القومي التركي في وجه الأكراد السوريين الإنفصاليين المتعاونين مع الإرهابيين من أنصار حزب العمال الكردستاني التركي. وقد تقوم أنقرة بالضغط على واشنطن لمساعدتها في حمل السعودية على رفع حصارها عن قطر. بذلك كله يظنّ أردوغان وجماعته انهم يكرّسون دوراً لتركيا كقوة إقليمية كبرى.

ما يهمّ واشنطن، بالدرجة الأولى، المحافظة على السعودية كحليف مقبول ومرغوب داخل الولايات المتحدة ولدى حلفائها الأطلسيين كي تستمرّ معها في عقد صفقات أسلحة بمليارات الدولارات، وفي محاصرة إيران سياسياً واقتصادياً وأمنياً، وفي توظيف الجهود لتعطيل سياستها المعادية لـ «اسرائيل» والداعمة لسورية وقوى المقاومة العربية، ولا سيما تلك المنخرطة في صراعٍ مرير ضدّ الهيمنة الأميركية والعدوان الصهيوني.


توحي التطورات والواقعات وبعض المعلومات المتسرّبة من الحوار الضمني الجاري بين العواصم الثلاث بإمكان التوصّل، عاجلاً او آجلاً، إلى تسويةٍ مرنة لصفقة مرابحةٍ ثلاثية فيها من المقايضات ما يتيح لكلٍّ من أطرافها رعاية همومه وتحقيق أغراضه الرئيسة بتكلفة مقبولة.

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Insights Into The Khashoggi Ordeal; Who And Why

by Ghassan Kadi for The Saker Blog

In this insane historical era in which we currently live, events, their causes and consequences do not necessarily follow this particular logical sequence of reporting and analyzing; and we have to get used to much worse.

To this effect, a week ago, it was almost impossible to work out who “killed” Khashoggi and why even though the financial and political and consequences were fairly obvious. However, the events of the few days that followed are beginning to shed some light for speculation about the how and why Mr. Khashoggi was killed and who did it.

In asking “how”, the question is not in relation to the gory details of how the man was physically murdered, but in the events that have possibly led to this fateful event. Some conspiracy theorists abound about there being no death or murder. Were he alive, given that the Saudi’s are under such extreme attack worldwide, they would find any opportunity to drag this man before the world’s cameras to prove their innocence.

To analyze the events leading up to the entry of Mr. Khashoggi to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on the 2nd of October 2018, we need to look at a myriad of facts and also possibilities; including cultural ones.

It is very hard to understand the Saudi mind for someone who has never lived in that country. One of the many peculiar aspects of this state is that people, even ordinary people, do not engage in the day-to-day official requirements that members of other nations would.

When I worked and lived in Saudi Arabia, one of the first things I learnt was that the company I worked for had a fulltime employee with the job description of “Mu’aqeb”. The best translation of this title is “expeditor”. This man was in charge of every matter that had to do with dealing with government. He is the one who takes one’s passport and sees that a Saudi “Iquama” (temporary certificate of residence) is produced. He is the one who renews driving licenses. He is the one that does the necessary paperwork to grant employees exit and re-entry visas when they go away on holidays. He even applies on one’s behalf for visas to visit other countries. He even paid water and electricity bills. He did it all, and of course, on top of his salary, he expected a present from employees on their return to work from holidays, and some employees would risk big penalties smuggling in Playboy magazines to reward him with. But the company I worked for was not alone in this regard; all other companies had their own “Mu’aqeb”.

It is against the Saudi psyche, culture and “pride” to go to a government office, wait in line and make an application for anything. Not even uneducated poor Saudis are accustomed to go through the rigmarole of government red-tape and routine.

Mr. Khashoggi was from the upper crust, and it is highly doubtful that he would have been willing and prepared to physically enter the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul seeking an official document.

Furthermore and more importantly, Mr. Khashoggi had a better reason not to enter any Saudi territory. Even though some recent reports portray him as a Wahhabi in disguise among other things, the man had nonetheless made some serious anti-MBS (Mohamed bin Salman) statements

Jamal Khashoggi was no fool. He knew the modus operandi of the Saudi Government too well. He knew that what he had said was tantamount to a death sentence in the brutal Kingdom of Sand. So what incited him to walk into the Consulate? To receive a divorce certificate so he could remarry as the reports are trying to make us believe? Not a chance.

But this is not all. As a Muslim, Mr. Khashoggi could have gone to any country that upholds Muslim marriage rites and remarried without having to formally divorce his first wife, and then go to America and live with his “new wife” under the guise of a de-facto relationship. So why would he risk his life and walk into a potential death trap?

Logic stipulates that Khashoggi entered the Consulate after he was given vehement assurances that his safety was guaranteed by the Saudi Crown. He would have never entered the Consulate had he not been given this assurance.

But why would the Saudi Government give him this assurance even though he had been very critical of MBS? A good question.

Once again, a logical hypothetical answer to this question could be that Khashoggi had some important meeting with a high ranking Saudi official to discuss some issues of serious importance, and this normally means that he had some classified information to pass on to the Saudi Government; important enough that the Saudi Crown was prepared to set aside Khashoggi’s recent history in exchange of this information.

If we try to connect more dots in a speculative but rational manner, the story can easily become more interesting.

Hatice Cengiz (Turkish for Khadijeh Jengiz) it is claimed, raised the first alarm for Khashoggi’s disappearance, announcing at the same time that she is/was his fiancée. But that latter announcement of hers came as a surprise even to Khashoggi’s own family.

Not much is said and speculated about Hatice in the West, but she is definitely making some headlines in the Arab World, especially on media controlled and sponsored by Saudi Arabia. To this effect, and because the Saudi neck is on the chopping board, it is possible that for the first time ever perhaps, the Saudis are telling the truth.

But the Saudis are the boys who cried wolf, and no one will ever believe them. But, let us explore how they might have got themselves into this bind.

As we connect the dots, we speculate as follows:

Some reports allege that Hatice has had a colourful history, including Mossad training The same YouTube alleges that she was a Gülenist and was arrested by Erdogan and released under the condition that she works for his security apparatus in order to guarantee her freedom. If such is the case, do we know if she has been also blackmailed in exchange for security of family members, loved ones, property etc? We don’t know.

It has also been reported that Jamal Khashoggi met her only as early as May 2018 and later introduced her as an expert on Omani history and politics. In reality, irrespective of what his family members are saying now, Khashoggi has never introduced her to the world as his fiancée; and this is fact.

So was she his fiancée?

It is at least possible that she wasn’t?

So, who was she to Khashoggi and what role did she possibly play?

The following speculation cannot be proved, but it makes sense:

To explain what a Gülenist is for the benefit of the reader who is unaware of this term, Erdogan blamed former friend and ally Fethullah Gülen for the failed coup attempt of July 2016 and persecuted his followers, putting tens of thousands of them in jail. Erdogan’s relationship with America was already deteriorating at that time because of America’s support to Syrian Kurds, and to add to Erdogan’s woes, America was and continues to give Gülen a safe haven despite many requests by Erdogan to have him extradited to Turkey to face trial. But Gülen is falling out of America’s favour as he seems to have outlived his use-by date, and the Gülenist movement would be in dire need of a new benefactor.

Cengiz, a former Gülenist, released on the above-mentioned conditions and possible threats, might have introduced herself to Khashoggi as an undercover Gülenist, and she had a history to support her claim. Being a former Gülenist, she might have indeed kept a foot in the Gülenist camp, and with the diminishing support of the American Government to the Gulenist movement, she might have been recruited to source finance. The Gülenists might have eyed Saudi Arabia to take this role, and as the rift between the Saudi royals and Erdogan intensified after their former joint effort to topple the legitimate secular government of Syria, the Gülenists would have found in Al-Saud what represents an enemy of an enemy, and they had to find a way to seek Saudi support against Erdogan. MBS himself would have inadvertently invited the Gülenists to approach him when he announced, back in March 2018 during a visit to the Coptic Pope Tawadros II in Egypt, that the triangle of evil in the Middle East is comprised of Iran, Islamist extremists groups and Turkey, and, in naming Turkey, he obviously meant Erdogan personally.

Khashoggi, with his expansive connections, looked like a good candidate to introduce the would-be new partners and broker a deal between them.

Back to what may have incited Khashoggi to enter the Saudi Consulate and to why the Saudi Government would have, in that case, given him a safe entry despite his history. Possibly, Khashoggi believed that he had a “big story” to relay to the Saudi Government; one that most likely exposed big time anti-Saudi dirt about Erdogan.

With the Saudi-led Wahhabi version of fundamentalist Islam competing with the Muslim Brotherhood side, politically and militarily headed by Erdogan, it is not far-fetched to believe that either party is conspiring to topple the other. If Khashoggi had a story to this effect, even if it was fake but credible enough for him to believe, it would have given him the impetus to seek an audience at the Saudi Consulate and hence an expectation for the Consulate to positively reciprocate. In reality, given the history and culture involved, it is hard to fathom that any scenario short of this one would have given either Khashoggi and/or the Saudi officials enough reasons to meet in the manner and place they did.

It is highly likely that Saudi officials had several contingency plans for Khashoggi’s visit; depending on its outcome and the information that he had to offer. Those plans might have included giving him a wide range of treatments, ranging from a red carpet reception in Saudi Arabia, to beheading and dismembering him within the Consulate’s grounds. What happened after Khashoggi entered the precinct of the Consulate is fairly muddy and hard to speculate on. If the above speculations thus far have been accurate, then these are the possible scenarios that followed the fateful CCTV coverage of Khashoggi’s entry to the Consulate:

1. It is possible that the Saudi officials in Turkey have had their own contacts with the Gülenists prior to the supposed ground-breaking visit of Khashoggi. In such a case, if the story Khashoggi may have offered did not fall in line with the story the Saudi’s already know, then Khashoggi would have automatically been branded as suspicious and his safe entry would have been revoked. In such a case, he would have walked into his own trap.

2. On the other hand, if Khashoggi indeed gave Saudi authorities vital information, so vital that it clearly is vehemently pro-Gülen, and as Gülen is no longer an American favourite, then upon his return to America he may have become a Saudi liability that can potentially muddy the Saudi-American waters that the Saudis desperately try to keep clear. In such an instance, it would be opportune for the Saudis to finish him off before he could return to America.

3. A third possibility is that some Saudi officials already working covertly with Gülen saw in Khashoggi an already persona non grata, a dangerous Erdogan implant and decided to take action against him.

If any of the above scenarios are accurate, then the role of Erdogan in this story is not that of a scavenger who capitalized on the rift generated between the Saudis and America, but that he was instrumental in conjuring up and orchestrating the whole drama. Erdogan might have subjected the Saudi Government to the Gülen litmus test, and in such a case, the victim is Saudi Arabia and the scavenger is America seeking silence money in lieu of continued protection of Saudi interests.

In all of the above scenarios, Khashoggi would have been driven into the trap by his alleged fiancée and had his impunity revoked by the Saudi officials because he failed the test.

But what triggered him off personally to walk into this possible trap? What was in it for him? Definitely not divorce documents. Most likely, Khashoggi was after amnesty from the Saudi Crown, and this would be a safety concern not only for Khashoggi himself, but also for his family that continued to live in Saudi Arabia. He may well have thought that by providing vital and sensitive information to his government, his previous “sins” would be set aside and he would be treated as a hero, his family would feel safe, despite that fact that he has criticized the Crown Prince in the past.

Arabic media are inundated with posts and YouTube videos that are very damning of Hatice Cengiz. Most of them perhaps are Saudi propaganda and should not be taken for a grain of salt. In reality however, her sudden emergence as Khashoggi’s “fiancée”, the fact that she allegedly waited for nearly 24 hours before reporting his disappearance and her personal, professional and political history are all factors that cast much doubt about her innocence and instead, portray her as a possible key element in the series of events that led to the disappearance of Khashoggi.

Furthermore, why would a person in her position make rules and conditions about meeting the President of the United States of America, even if this President is Donald Trump? How many people in history have refused the invitation of American Presidents? Who does she think she is or who is she trying to portray herself as?

And if Trump is seizing the opportunity to grab MBS, and this time he will be grabbing by the wallet, if Erdogan smells a hint of preparedness of MBS to support Gülen, then Erdogan would want MBS’s wallet and head. Any whichever way, the silver lining of this story is that for once, Saudi Arabia is finally running for cover. Few around the world will give this brutal royal family any sympathy.

There are other rumours spreading in the Arab world now alluding to the removal of MBS from office and passing over the reins to his brother. MBS has committed heinous war crimes in Yemen and has made huge errors of judgment with regard to Syria and Qatar. He made many enemies, and it seems that Erdogan is out to get him.

It does seem possible that the Assad-must-go curse has reached the neck of the Saudi throne.

September 24, 2018: Rift Grows Among Militant Groups In Idlib


A rift among Idlib militant groups is growing over the demilitarization zone agreement reached by Turkey and Russia earlier this month.

On September 22, the National Front for Liberation (NFL) released on official statement declaring its support to the agreement. The group stated that the agreement had prevented an “unjust war” and described Turkey as its ally. The NFL added that it does not trust Russia, the Syrian government and Iran accusing them of multiple violations of ceasefire agreements.

The NFL is currently the biggest coalition of Turkish-backed militant groups in northern Syria. It was established on May 28, 2018 from 11 various groups in an attempt to consolidate Turkish influence in the province of Idlib. Thus, the group pretends to be a provider of Turkish policy in the area.

The NLF is the second notable militant group, which supported the agreement. On September 20, Jaysh al-Izza made a similar move.

Another part of Idlib militants is not hurrying up to accept an idea of the 15-20km demilitarized zone, which is set to be established between the militant-held and government-held parts of Idlib by October 15. Al-Qaeda-affiliated Horas al-Din said in an official statement that it officially rejects the agreement describing it as a “conspiracy”.

Horas al-Din, which was established on February 27, 2018 from 7 al-Qaeda affiliated groups, is one of the most influential factions in Idlib, alongside with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda).

While multiple media activists and outlets linked to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham have criticized the demilitarization zone deal, the group is yet to release an official statement on this issue – most likely because negotiations between the group and Turkish special services are still ongoing behind the scenes.

On September 22, the Turkish military deployed a commando brigade in Idlib province in order to reinforce its observation posts. During the past few weeks, the Turkish military deployed additional battle tanks and armoured vehicles there with a similar purpose.

These moves may indicate that Ankara is really going to make an attempt to force Idlib militants to obey the demilitarization zone deal.

On September 20, the Kurdish Hawar News Agency reported that the Turkish military had deployed hundreds of armored vehicles, battle tanks and trucks on the border with the northern Syrian town of Tell Abyad, which is now controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Syrian sources expect that Ankara are going to force Kurdish units of the US-backed group to withdraw from the town in a Manbij-like move.

Meanwhile, the SDF has continued its operation against ISIS in the Hajin pocket in the Euphrates Valley. The SDF, backed by US-led coalition air power and artillery are advancing on Susah and Shajlah.

On September 23, the Russian Defense Ministry held an additional press briefing revealing details of the IL-20 shootdown off Syrian coast, which took place on September 17. Defense ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov once again confirmed that Moscow sees Israel as the side responsible for the tragedy. The reasons are actions of Israeli F-16 warplanes hiding behind the IL-20 from Syrian air defense fire, the misinformation on the strikes provided by Israel and multiple violations of the Russia-Israel deconfliction agreement by Israel.

Konashenkov emphasized that “the hostile actions committed by the Israeli Air Force against the Russian Ilyushin Il-20 aircraft cross the line of civilized relations.”

At the same time, Israel continues blaiming Syria, Iran and Hezbollah for the September 17 incident as well as rejecting data provided by the Russian military.

This situation shows that a visit of top Israeli military delegation to Moscow last week has not allowed the Israeli leadership to de-escalation the tensions erupted with Russia. If the situation remains same, it will likely impact an expected diplomatic solution of the Syrian crisis in a negative way for Israel.

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