Russian-Kurdish Negotiations in Moscow: Turkey Has Defined Its Options and Washington Is Trying to Gain Time

By Elijah. J. Magnier
Source

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Secret negotiations are ongoing in Moscow and Damascus between representatives of the Syrian Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Russian officials concerning the fate of Kurdish militants in Syria. The Kurdish delegation is hoping that Russia – and not the US – will adopt the role of guarantor of their safety and is trying to gain a few more concessions to reduce their losses when the Syrian government forces regains complete control of al-Hasaka province in Northeast Syria.

This will happen only when the US establishment finally decides to pull out its last soldier and ends its occupation of al-Hasaka. PKK representatives have offered a “road map” meant to include promises of protection, the sharing of wealth and the security of borders with Turkey. The US is trying to offload responsibility for the Kurds’s safety onto Turkey, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rebuffed US requests to offer this kind of protection to his PKK enemies in Syria. Erdogan is evidently putting his strategic-commercial alliance with Russia ahead of his turbulent NATO alliance with the USA.

The Kurdish militant group known variously as YPG, the People’s Protection Units, and the PKK (Syrian branch) is convinced the time has come to climb off the US’s shoulders onto Russian ones since Washington has decided to drop them off the Turkish cliff. Nevertheless, Syrian officials are also determined to give no concessions to the Kurds notwithstanding the Russian mediation with Damascus.

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The militant Kurds of Syria have only now begun to realise how vulnerable their position is: they are weaker than ever due to the US decision to withdraw and the naïve requests – formulated by both US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton – for Ankara to offer protection to its sworn enemies. It looks like officials in Washington have no plans for the Kurds. Indeed, while the US is expressing concern about the Kurds it would like somebody else to look after them. The US shows little appreciation for the sacrifices made by YPG militants – who have acted as human shields for the American forces during their time in al-Hasaka province in northeast Syria – and the thousands of casualties they have suffered. Even worse, Trump laughed about Kurdish fighting capabilities by sarcastically saying the Kurds “fight better when we fight with them and when we send 30 F-18’s in front of them”.

So the Kurds have finally learned their lesson and would like to be part of the Syrian state. They have seen the world watching – impotently, unwilling to intervene against Turkey – the exodus of hundreds of thousands from Afrin. They have heard Trump’s decision to abandon them. With his departure, their dream of Rojava, the long-awaited Kurdish state, evaporates.

For Damascus, had Turkey occupied the north of Syria, it would have been possible to exert diplomatic and international leverage on Ankara to force its departure from Syrian territory. At the same time, it would have been almost impossible for the Syrian government to force an early departure of the US forces had these established themselves in Afrin or al-Hasaka, offering a platform for Israel to use the Levant by benefitting from American infrastructure in the area.

President Bashar al-Assad has said to the Russian negotiators that “Syria belongs to all Syrians and the Kurds are part of Syria. Therefore they should not enjoy more or fewer rights than any other citizens. They will be given identities but are not entitled to any special concessions”. Moreover, Assad has agreed not to consider the Kurds as traitors despite their protection of the US occupation forces. He has insisted that the only force operating on the national territory be the one belonging to the Syrian army under the control of the central government.

The Kurds welcomed the Syrian army in the area still under their control. Turkey has accepted to keep its forces and those of its Syrian proxies away from Manbij as long as the Kurdish militants are disarmed. Russia proposed and obtained the withdrawal of the Kurdish forces, re-establishing its observation posts, patrolling west of Manbij. Erdogan still hopes to reach a deal over North Syria during his forthcoming meeting with President Putin, expected sometime in January. The presence of thousands of Syrian jihadists and armed proxies at the gates of Manbij is further weakening the Kurdish negotiation position. They have no other place to seek refuge but in Damascus.

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President Erdogan has managed to keep a balance between his relationships with Moscow and Washington even if his choices in Syria seem already made. Russia offers a stable durable and equal economic and strategic partnership with Turkey whereas the US has no consistent friends at all, only common interests. Moreover, the US forces have armed the Kurdish militants, the enemies of Turkey, where Russia will agree to disarm them and put an end to their military power. Trump’s apparent willingness to revoke any deal (the Iranian nuclear agreement) or give up on his allies (the Kurds) is helping to push Turkey into Russia’s arms.

If the US agrees to donate the weapons it has equipped the Kurds with, this arsenal will happily end up in the Syrian army inventory. If not, the Kurds will be vulnerable to the 1500 remaining ISIS fighters on the Euphrates river, particularly if the US disarms the Kurds and pulls out before the arrival of the Syrian army. The forces of Damascus and their allies have eliminated tens of thousands of ISIS militants in various cities, villages and in the Syrian steppe, and this without the benefit of 30 US F-18’s. The end of ISIS control of Syrian territory will be a game-changer in the Levant even if its “hit and run” insurgency will not disappear so easily. The dream of establishing an “Islamic State” in the Levant and Mesopotamia is, like “Rojava”, an unachievable and abandoned objective.

The US says it will remain around the al-Tanf crossing between Iraq and Syria. The establishment’s excuse for this presence has been to stop the Tehran-Baghdad-Damascus-Beirut bridge. Iran has been supplying Syria with weapons for over seven years of intensive multi-front continuous war. It has supplied Hezbollah with weapons and finance from 1982 until now. The US presence may disturb a possible railway or land road between Iran and Lebanon but cannot disrupt the established supply of weapons. The cost of air or sea shipment is indeed higher but so too are the costs of a prolonged US presence at al-Tanf, in the middle of the Syrian-Iraqi desert. The US is trying to gain time in Syria: in fact it is just wasting it.

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SYRIAN WAR REPORT – NOVEMBER 14, 2018: TURKISH-PKK CONFLICT ESCALATES AMID FRESH PKK ATTACKS

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.

Turkey Warns That PKK Terror Group Controls 80% of Europe’s Drug Trade

By Adam Garrie
Source

While the PKK terror group has killed 40,000 people in less than forty years including Turkish military officers and police, civilians, tourists and the ethnic Kurds that the PKK falsely claims to represent, this statistic does not include the multitude of further deaths caused by the illegal inter-continental narcotics trade controlled by PKK terrorists. Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has recently warned his European Union partners to be on guard against the PKK’s narco-network in Europe. According to Soylu,

“Especially in Europe, the PKK controls 80 percent of the drug trade and it is estimated that the terror group earns around $1.5 billion per year.

…In other words, [drug dealers] are continuously inventing new drugs. The production of drugs is also increasing. The area of opium cultivation in Afghanistan was 17,000 hectares in 2002. The U.S. intervened there to bring peace and democracy; it was such an intervention that the cultivation area jumped to 328,000 hectares in 2017. Opium production increased from 4,800 tons in 2016 to 9,000 tons in 2017, an increase of 63 percent in a year”.

The Interior Minister further detailed how Turkish authorities are stepping up their fight against narcotics, but cautioned that all nations much be vigilant against this threat. He further detailed the nature of the drugs trafficked and sold by the PKK including heroin, cocaine, meth, so-called “ecstasy” and most worryingly the notorious captagon – the drug of choice for Daesh an al-Qaeda terrorists. Soylu stated,

“If I tell you that we have captured 15,821,096 captagon pills from street dealers in the first 10 months, we can make a clear picture in the minds of the public regarding the scale of our fight on the field”.

To understand the importance of captagon to international terror networks in terms not only of selling the drug but in respect of distributing it among murderous terrorists, one must trace the origins of the drug’s popularity to recent wars throughout the Middle East and Africa.

In 2011, when Libyan Revolutionary leader Muammar Gaddafi appeared before his nation saying that seditious elements and foreign agitators were on narcotics and thus deprived of their own cognitive abilities, he was laughed at by the western mainstream media who cheered on his subsequent assassination at the hands of al-Qaeda proxies working with the US, UK and France.

It turns out that Gaddafi was absolutely correct. Drugs have become a staple of the modern terrorist’s diet. From Libya to Syria and Iraq to Philippines, warped young men without a real knowledge of any particular faith or ideology are taking vast amounts of drugs in order to give them the physical stamina combined with mental incapacity, which allows them to carry out barbaric atrocities without cessation.  If it ever seemed odd that young men turn to terrorism which will often lead to their own death, as well as the death of others, without any promise of earthly remuneration, this is because even among the poor or the mentally challenged, terrorism is typically unthinkable.

It is the promise and delivery of mind altering drugs which pushes young people into terrorism, rather than mythical notions about an un-Islamic and un-Christian afterlife. In this sense, the difference between a young man turning to drug dealing or robbery, has the same basic origins as those who turn to terrorism. In most societies it is a slippery slope. It is no coincidence that many well known terrorists were fond of alcohol, prostitutes and so-called recreational drugs prior to committing their atrocities. While alcoholism, the taking of narcotics and the frequenting of harlots is prohibited in Islam, these actions are de rigueur in respect of the lifestyles that surround the narco-trade. Thus, terrorism is anything but a “problem with Islam”, it is a geopolitical problem whose foot-soldiers are fuelled by dangerous drugs.

While there are many drugs used by terrorists, well-known narcotics such as cocaine is at best, a second favourite among today’s killers. The 21st century terrorist’s drug of choice is a pill called captagon whose effects while similar to cocaine, are even more extreme, making its users capable of super-human violence while totally erasing what remains of a human conscience.

Captagon has been found among Daesh (ISIS) and al-Qaeda fighters in LibyaIraqSyria, as well as in terrorist shipping roots in France and Italy, just to name a few. But other drugs also play their role. Philippine President Duterte has waged a war against drug addicts, drug dealers and the criminal networks built up around both. These networks include not only mafioso gangs, but Daesh aligned terrorist organisations. Soldiers in The Philippines have discovered that the Daesh aligned Maute Group who for months occupied the city of Marawi  in Mindanao, were taking the drug known as Shabu, a powerful methamphetamine which has been at the root of South East Asia’s drug problem.

Recently, it came to be known that the terrorists who slaughtered civilians last year on England’s London Bridge and surrounding areas, were on powerful steroids. But it is not just Daesh and al-Qaeda related terrorists who are fuelled by drugs. Most of the so-called mass shooters in recent US history, have been under the influence of narcotics both during and before their killing sprees. This includes Stephen Paddock, the man who committed the biggest mass shooting in US history last year in Las Vegas.

The plague of narcotics is directly related to terrorism at the point of sale, the point of cultivation and more often than not at the point of ingestion. The seriousness of the drug fuelled element of international terrorism however still remains silenced throughout Europe as does the PKK’s invasion of the European Union.

As the PKK expands its killing machine in Europe, the dangerous terror group is also spreading its narco-network throughout the world, including and especially in Europe. It is therefore imperative that the EU works with Turkey to set up a new anti-PKK/anti-narcotics task force before more damage to human life is done by terrorists without regard for humanity.

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