IRAN EXPANDS INTELLIGENCE NETWORK NEAR JORDAN AND ISRAEL

South Front

 19.01.2021

The situation in Syria’s Idlib appears to be, once again, on the brink of escalation, with the US preoccupied with what’s happening at home, and Turkey attempting to push towards Ain Issa, while being targeted by its own proxies.

The terrorist threat is far from removed, and attacks are common, moments of calm in the country’s east and northwest appear to be few and far between. The situation that’s transpiring is, to a large degree, due to Turkey’s actions and its policies.

Ankara, too, is suffering from it, since the many of the groups that it backs, officially or otherwise, seem to be eager to bite the hand that feeds. On January 16th, Turkish troops in observation posts in Idlib were targeted by sniper fire from a group that calls itself “Saryat Ansar Abu Baker As-Siddiq”. According to the group itself, three Turkish soldiers were shot. One appears to be in critical condition.

This is the group’s third attack against Turkey, with the first taking place in November of 2020, and then in December of 2020. The December attack resulted in one Turkish soldier’s death. Other reports of Turkish proxies attacking Ankara’s armed forces occasionally take place.

The Turkish military maintains more than 60 posts, camps and bases throughout Greater Idlib. Most of them are located in terrorist-controlled areas, and attacks on them are rather infrequent due to Ankara’s close ties with terrorists operating in the area. Nonetheless, as the recent attacks show, this policy has some weak sides for the Turkish personnel deployed.

Ankara is attempting to encroach near the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)-controlled area, attempting to establish an observation post near Ain Issa. A push on SDF positions is expected, but there will be a defense.

Meanwhile, Iran has been expanding its presence in Syria despite the endless Israeli-US attempts to oppose this. Tehran’s forces deployed a signal intelligence system along Syria’s border with Jordan. This may be used to either spy on the US forces deployed in Jordan, or even on Israel.

Iran has ample opportunity, Tel Aviv is likely to be on the back foot, since the US’ Biden administration is likely to support Israel less than that of Trump. This provides Tehran with a chance to dig in and reinforce its position and prepare an asymmetric response to its geopolitical opponents.

There is likely to be an advent of a new round of confrontation in the conflict zone, with the Syrian Arab Army still struggling to get rid of ISIS cells in the Homs-Deir Ezzor desert, Turkey focused on the SDF and being targeted by militants in Idlib, and Iran attempting to focus on its opponents.

Both Ankara and Tehran are likely taking a chance to improve their positions in Syria due to the lull in American activity in the face of the unprecedented chaos in the United States. At the same time, the new US administration would not likely support the Trump-announced troop withdrawal effort. So, Washington still has a word to say.

SADAT: Blackwater… with a Turkish-Islamic Flavor!

ARABI SOURI 

Turkish SADAT Mercenary and security company - Erdogan

The following is the English translation from Arabic of the latest article by Turkish career journalist Husni Mahali he published in the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news site Al-Mayadeen Net:

All the opposition’s questions and inquiries remain unanswered as long as the ambiguity hangs over the entire activity and activities of the “SADAT” company.

Turkey has been witnessing for days, far from the interests of the global media, an exciting debate related to the defense philosophy that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan believes in, at least according to the opposition’s perception. The International Defense and Consulting Services Company, SADAT, announced a few days ago, on its official website: “Organizing special courses in the field of assassinations, bombings, raids, ambushes, and special operations.” This was preceded by a webinar in which some thinkers from Islamic countries participated, during which they discussed “the necessity for Islamic countries to have a joint force in order to rise to the level of superpowers in defending themselves.”

The discussion gained additional importance, because the founder and chairman of the company, Adnan Tanri Wardi, was until January of last year a personal advisor to President Erdogan, as well as a member of the Supreme Commission for Defense and Foreign Policy Affairs in the Republican Palace.

Before getting acquainted with the nature of this company and its various activities, it is necessary to introduce the man and his interesting personality, as he was the commander of the special units in the Chief of Staff before he was expelled from the army in 1996 because of his religious activities, and he was also, a friend of Erdogan, a lecturer at the War College about war gangs when the latter (Erdogan) was mayor of Istanbul in 1994, and the current defense minister, Hulusi Akar, was one of his students.

Retired General Tanry Wardi established his company, “SADAT” on February 28, 2012, after being acquainted with the activities of private American security companies, the most important of which was “Blackwater”, in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen, and before that, Africa and Latin America.

Turkish newspapers published more information about the activity of this company, but without any official response to these allegations and the inquiries and questions of members of parliament by the opposition parties, including Unal Cevikoz from the Republican people, and Aton Geray about the “Good Party”, who called on the government to reveal the secrets of the company’s activities and secrets inside Turkey, and in Syria, Libya and other places. The company announced after its founding in 2012 that among its goals is “to provide security services to the armies and security forces in countries friendly to Turkey.”

The head of the “Good Party”, Maral Akshanar, spoke about the secret training camps of the aforementioned company near the cities of Konya and Tokat in central Anatolia, “and appealed to President Erdogan” to reveal the reasons, objectives and activities of these camps. ” The press information talked more than once about the company’s officers training the various Syrian factions in guerrilla warfare and the various arts of war and fighting since its establishment, especially after the failure of the CIA project to train the militants of the moderate Syrian factions in camps for Turkey in the year 2013-2014.

Spokesmen for the opposition parties accused the company of secretly transferring weapons and combat equipment to the aforementioned factions, after they obtained them from various countries, including Serbia and Ukraine. Journalist Mehmet Ali Gular said in the Cumhuriyet newspaper that Adnan Tanri Wardi persuaded President Erdogan during Sochi’s discussions with President Putin in September 2018 to establish Turkish military observation points in the vicinity of Idlib, despite the objection of the military leadership.

Adnan Tanri Wardi rose to prominence after the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, after President Erdogan appointed him as his personal advisor, and it was said that he plays a major role in rearranging the affairs of the military establishment, after Erdogan canceled, by presidential decree, all military colleges and schools to replace them with The National Defense University which is headed now by a professor of Ottoman history close to him, and civilians close to Erdogan head the military colleges of the aforementioned university, which is joined according to criteria that will contribute in the medium and long term to the “Islamization of the military establishment.”

During the past period, opposition newspapers published a lot of news and articles about the company’s activities and the activities of its owner, who was said to have had a direct role in training members of the armed factions in Libya since 2013. He also played an important role in transporting Syrian mercenaries to Libya and supervising their movements there, which is the case also in Karabakh.

Member of Parliament for the Republican People Party, Unal Cevikoz, referred to the confessions of President Erdogan, who last year spoke about “sending various groups to fight in Libya,” and asked: “What are these various groups? What is the aforementioned company’s relationship with it? What is the number of its members? How much the Turkish state pays it? What are its special tasks in Libya or Syria or anywhere else if it exists?

This may explain the call of Aula Jalbka and Andre Hahn, members of parliament for the left party of the German government, to “follow up the activities of the mentioned company and its relations with the Turkish community and Islamic mosques in Germany,” and French President Macron did not hide his concern “about the Turkish secret activity among the Muslim communities in his country and in Europe in general. “

The sudden change in the internal system of the armed forces came at the end of last month, as the intelligence and internal security forces would be able to use whatever they want from the army’s weapons, to increase the suspicions of the opposition, which accused President Erdogan in the past of “working to form armed militias loyal to him directly to be used in emergency situations,” without the opposition parties and forces being able to confront Erdogan’s projects and plans as long as he controls the majority in parliament and controls all state facilities and apparatus, the most important of which are the army, intelligence, security, money, and the judiciary, and 95% of the state and private media.

Erdogan seeks to silence his opponents through financial fines imposed by government authorities on opposition newspapers, while the Supreme Council of Radio and Television decides to close television stations or impose heavy financial fines on them, under the pretext that they broadcast news that contradicts “the national interests of the nation and the Turkish state,” which means objection to his policies.

All of this explains President Erdogan’s attack on the leaders of the opposition parties and all those who oppose him, accusing them all of “terrorism, national treason, and espionage.” In turn, the security and judiciary will prosecute anyone who objects to this statement and charge him with insulting the President of the Republic, which carries a sentence of between one and three years in prison.

The opposition says that what the Turkish president aims to do is prevent his opponents on the right and left from talking about the secrets of Turkish activities, official and unofficial, in the military, security, and intelligence sectors abroad, especially in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Somalia, and in its neighboring countries, and now in Azerbaijan and Ukraine.

All the opposition’s questions and inquiries remain unanswered as long as the ambiguity hangs completely over the work and activities of the “SADAT” company. “There is no difference between it and the notorious American” Blackwater “company in Iraq and other Arab and African countries, said Ozkur Ozal, a spokesman for the CHP.

Aiton Girai, a member of parliament for the “Good Party”, expressed “his concern about the activities of the aforementioned secret company in Libya,” saying that it is there to achieve balance with the Russian “Wagner” company that supports General Haftar’s forces.

In all cases, and with the continued ambiguity that hangs over the activities of the aforementioned company, everyone knows that it has a very important role in serving the goals, plans, and projects of the Turkish President, both internally and externally, without anyone being able to go into the details, as long as the issue is related to the national security of Turkey, which only Erdogan defines its concepts and standards!

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“بلاك ووتر”.. بنكهة تركيّة إسلاميّة!

حسني محلي

حسني محلي
المصدر: الميادين نت
18 كانون الثاني 15:48

تبقى جميع أسئلة المعارضة واستفساراتها من دون جواب، ما دام الغموض يخيم بالكامل على نشاط شركة سادات وفعالياتها.

قام الجنرال المتقاعد تانري واردي بتأسيس شركته

تشهد تركيا منذ أيام، وبعيداً من اهتمامات الإعلام العالمي، نقاشاً مثيراً له علاقة بفلسفة الدفاع التي يؤمن بها الرئيس رجب طيب إردوغان، على الأقل بحسب تصوّر المعارضة، فقد أعلنت الشركة الدولية للدفاع والخدمات الاستشارية “سادات” قبل أيام، عبر موقعها الرسمي على الإنترنت، “عن تنظيم دورات خاصة في مجال الاغتيالات والتفجيرات والمداهمات والكمائن والعمليات الخاصة”. وسبق ذلك ندوة عبر الإنترنت شارك فيها بعض المفكّرين من دول إسلامية، تم خلالها مناقشة “ضرورة أن يكون للدول الاسلامية قوة مشتركة حتى ترتقي إلى مستوى الدول العظمى في الدفاع عن نفسها”. 

واكتسب النقاش أهميّة إضافيّة، لأنّ مؤسّس الشركة ورئيس مجلس إدارتها، عدنان تانري واردي، كان حتى كانون الثاني/يناير من العام الماضي مستشاراً شخصياً للرئيس إردوغان، كما كان عضواً في الهيئة العليا لشؤون الدفاع والسياسة الخارجية في القصر الجمهوري.

وقبل الاطّلاع على ماهية هذه الشّركة وأنشطتها المختلفة، لا بدَّ من التعريف بالرجل وبشخصيّته المثيرة، فقد كان قائداً للوحدات الخاصة في رئاسة الأركان قبل أن يطرد من الجيش في العام 1996 بسبب أنشطته الدينيّة، وكان أيضاً، وهو صديق لإردوغان، محاضراً في الكلية الحربية حول حرب العصابات عندما كان الأخير رئيساً لبلدية إسطنبول في العام 1994، وكان وزير الدفاع الحالي خلوصي أكار من تلامذته. 

وقد قام الجنرال المتقاعد تانري واردي بتأسيس شركته “سادات” في 28 شباط/فبراير 2012، بعد أن اطلع على نشاط الشركات الأمنية الأميركية الخاصة، وأهمها “بلاك ووتر”، في العراق وأفغانستان واليمن، وقبلها أفريقيا وأميركا اللاتينية. 

ونشرت الصحف التركية المزيد من المعلومات عن نشاط هذه الشركة، ولكن من دون أن يرد أي مسؤول رسمي على هذه الادعاءات وعلى استفسارات وأسئلة أعضاء البرلمان عن أحزاب المعارضة، ومنهم آونال جاويكوز عن الشعب الجمهوري، وآيتون جيراي عن الحزب “الجيد”، اللذان ناشدا الحكومة للكشف عن خفايا أنشطة الشركة وأسرارها داخل تركيا، وفي سوريا وليبيا وأماكن أخرى. وقد أعلنت الشركة بعد تأسيسها في العام 2012 أنَّ من بين أهدافها “تقديم خدمات أمنية لجيوش وقوى الأمن في الدول الصديقة لتركيا”.

وتحدَّثت رئيسة الحزب “الجيد” مارال أكشانار “عن مخيمات تدريب سرية تابعة للشركة المذكورة قرب مدينتي قونيا وتوكات وسط الأناضول”، وناشدت الرئيس إردوغان “للكشف عن أسباب هذه المخيمات وأهدافها وفعالياتها”. وتحدّثت المعلومات الصّحافية أكثر من مرة عن قيام ضباط الشركة بتدريب عناصر الفصائل السورية المختلفة على حرب العصابات ومختلف فنون الحرب والقتال منذ تأسيسها، وخصوصاً بعد فشل مشروع المخابرات الأميركية في تدريب مسلحي الفصائل السورية المعتدلة في مخيمات خاصة بتركيا في العام 2013-2014. 

واتهم المتحدثون باسم أحزاب المعارضة الشركة بنقل الأسلحة والمعدات القتالية سراً إلى الفصائل المذكورة، بعد أن حصلت عليها من دول مختلفة، ومنها صربيا وأوكرانيا. وقال الصحافي محمد علي جوللار في صحيفة “جمهوريات” إن عدنان تانري واردي هو الذي أقنع الرئيس إردوغان خلال مناقشات سوتشي مع الرئيس بوتين في أيلول/سبتمبر 2018، بإنشاء نقاط المراقبة العسكرية التركية في جوار إدلب، على الرغم من اعتراض القيادات العسكرية على ذلك. 

وسطع نجم عدنان تانري واردي بعد محاولة الانقلاب الفاشلة في 15 تموز/يوليو 2016، بعد أن عيَّنه الرئيس إردوغان مستشاراً شخصياً له، وقيل إنّه يؤدي دوراً رئيسياً في إعادة ترتيب أمور المؤسسة العسكرية، بعد أن ألغى إردوغان بمرسوم رئاسي كل الكليات والمدارس العسكرية، لتحلّ محلها جامعة الدفاع الوطني، ويترأسها الآن بروفيسور في التاريخ العثماني مقرب منه، كما يترأس مدنيون مقربون منه الكليات العسكرية التابعة للجامعة المذكورة التي يتم الانضمام إليها وفق معايير ستساهم على المدى المتوسط والبعيد في “أسلمة المؤسسة العسكرية”. 

ونشرت صحف المعارضة خلال الفترة الماضية الكثير من الأخبار والمقالات عن نشاط الشركة وفعاليات صاحبها، الذي قيل إنّ له دوراً مباشراً في تدريب عناصر الفصائل المسلحة في ليبيا منذ العام 2013. كما أدى دوراً مهماً في نقل المرتزقة السوريين إلى ليبيا والإشراف على تحركاتهم فيها، وهو الحال أيضاً في كاراباخ. 

وأشار عضو البرلمان عن الشعب الجمهوري آونال جاويكوز إلى اعترافات الرئيس إردوغان الذي تحدث العام الماضي عن “إرسال مجموعات متنوعة للقتال في ليبيا”، وتساءل: “يا ترى، ما هي هذه المجموعات المتنوعة؟ وما علاقة الشركة المذكورة بها؟ وما هو عدد عناصرها؟ وكم تدفع الدولة التركية لها؟ وما هي مهماتها الخاصة في ليبيا أو سوريا أو أي مكان آخر إن كان موجوداً؟”.

وقد يفسر ذلك دعوة كلّ من آوللا جالبكا وأندريه هان، عضوي البرلمان عن حزب اليسار الحكومة الألمانية، “لمتابعة نشاط الشركة المذكورة وعلاقاتها بالجالية التركية والجوامع الإسلامية الموجودة في ألمانيا”، كما لم يخفِ الرئيس الفرنسي ماكرون قلقه “من النشاط السري التركي بين الجاليات الإسلامية في بلاده وأوروبا عموماً”.

وجاء التغيير المفاجئ في النظام الداخلي للقوات المسلّحة نهاية الشهر الماضي، إذ سيتسنى للمخابرات وقوى الأمن الداخلي استخدام ما تشاء من أسلحة الجيش، ليزيد من شكوك المعارضة التي اتهمت الرئيس إردوغان سابقاً “بالعمل على تشكيل ميليشيات مسلحة موالية له مباشرة لاستخدامها في الحالات الطارئة”، من دون أن يتسنى لأحزاب وقوى المعارضة أن تتصدى لمشاريع إردوغان ومخططاته ما دام يملك الأغلبية في البرلمان ويسيطر على جميع مرافق الدولة وأجهزتها، وأهمها الجيش والمخابرات والأمن والمال والقضاء، و95% من وسائل الإعلام الحكومي والخاصّ.

ويسعى إردوغان لإسكات معارضيه من خلال الغرامات المالية التي تفرضها السلطات الحكومية على صحف المعارضة، في الوقت الذي يقرر المجلس الأعلى للإذاعة والتلفزيون إغلاق محطات التلفزيون أو فرض غرامات مالية كبيرة عليها، بحجة أنها تبث أخباراً تتناقض مع “المصالح الوطنية والقومية للأمة والدولة التركية”، وهو ما يعني الاعتراض على سياساته.

 ويفسر كل ذلك هجوم الرئيس إردوغان على قيادات أحزاب المعارضة وكل من يعارضه، واتهامهم جميعاً “بالإرهاب والخيانة الوطنية والعمالة والتجسس”. بدوره، يلاحق الأمن والقضاء كل من يعترض على هذا الكلام، ويوجه له تهمة الإساءة إلى رئيس الجمهورية، التي تتراوح عقوبتها بين عام و3 أعوام في السجن.

وتقول المعارضة إن ما يهدف إليه الرئيس التركي هو منع معارضيه في اليمين واليسار من الحديث عن أسرار الأنشطة التركية، الرسمية منها وغير الرسمية، عسكرياً وأمنياً واستخباراتياً في الخارج، وبشكل خاص في سوريا وليبيا والعراق والصومال والدول المجاورة لها، والآن في أذربيجان وأوكرانيا. 

وتبقى جميع أسئلة المعارضة واستفساراتها من دون جواب، ما دام الغموض يخيم بالكامل على نشاط شركة “سادات” وفعالياتها. وقد قال آوزكور آوزال، المتحدث باسم حزب الشعب الجمهوري، “أن لا فرق بينها وبين شركة “بلاك ووتر” الأميركية السيئة الصيت في العراق ودول عربية وأفريقية أخرى”.

وعبّر آيتون جيراي، عضو البرلمان عن الحزب “الجيد”، “عن قلقه من فعاليات الشركة المذكورة السرية في ليبيا”، وقال عنها “إنها تتواجد هناك لتحقيق التوازن مع شركة “واغنر” الروسية التي تدعم قوات الجنرال حفتر”.

وفي جميع الحالات، ومع استمرار الغموض الذي يخيم على فعاليات الشركة المذكورة، يعرف الجميع أنَّ لها دوراً مهماً جداً في خدمة أهداف الرئيس التركي ومخططاته ومشاريعه على الصعيدين الداخلي والخارجي، من دون أن يتسنى لأحد الدخول في التفاصيل، ما دام الموضوع له علاقة بالأمن الوطني والقومي لتركيا، ولا يحدد أحد مفاهيمه ومعاييره إلا  إردوغان وحده!

MYSTERIOUS AIRCRAFT POUND TURKISH OIL SMUGGLERS IN SYRIA. US SUPPLY CONVOYS ARE BLOWN UP IN IRAQ

South Front

The first month of 2021 was marked by a new round of violence in Syria. The situation was especially complicated in Greater Idlib, northern Aleppo and in the central desert.

On January 8, ISIS terrorists launched a large attack on government forces in the eastern countryside of Hama. After a series of clashes with the Syrian Army and pro-government militias, terrorists captured a number of positions near the towns of Rahjan and al-Shakusiyah. As of January 12, ISIS cells retreated from these positions under pressure from the army. Nonetheless, at least 19 government troops and 12 ISIS members were killed in the clashes.

Meanwhile in the eastern countryside of Homs, ISIS cells destroyed a pickup of the al-Quds Brigade, a Palestinian pro-government group, with an improvised explosive device. According to pro-opposition sources, at least 44 pro-government fighters have been killed in the clashes in the desert area since the start of the year. The number of the eliminated terrorists is reportedly over 35.

Sources affiliated with Russia-linked private military contractors claim that the deterioration of the security situation in western Deir Ezzor is a result of the withdrawal of a majority of Russian specialists from the area.

At the same time, Iranian-backed forces continue their work to expand the Imam Ali Base near al-Bukamal. The base, operated by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, is allegedly designed store precision-guided missiles in a network of underground tunnels in the area. The base was repeatedly targeted by Israeli and even US strikes in 2019 and 2020. Despite this, the strikes did not cause any major impact as the base’s military infrastructure has been steadily expanding.

January 9 also became the first day of 2021 when the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out strikes on terrorist targets in Greater Idlib. Strikes hit several hills in outskirts of the town of Kabani, which is known for being stronghold of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and the Turkistan Islamic Party. A day earlier, forces of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham shelled Syrian Army positions in northern Lattakia injuring several soldiers.

These developments coincided with some strikes by some ‘mysterious aircraft’ that once again bombed Turkish-linked oil smugglers in northern Aleppo. This time the infrastructure of the smugglers was destroyed near the village of Tarhin.

The situation in neighboring Iraq is also not stable. Just on January 9, 3 supply convoys of the US-led coalition became targets of IED attacks in the central and southern regions of the country. These attacks are a logical continuation of the ongoing standoff between the US-Israeli bloc and the Iranian-led Axis of Resistance. Iranian-backed forces in Iraq conduct these attacks as a part of their campaign to force the US to withdraw its forces from the country.

While some expect that a Biden administration would be less interested in an increase of confrontation with Iran, there are no indications that the sides can fully settle their contradictions in any way in the nearest future. Therefore, the entire region will remain a battleground for the warring blocs.

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أميركا تتمشرق وتتمزّق… ماذا بعد؟

د. عصام نعمان

ينطوي المشهد الأميركي اليوم على كابوس وعرس. هو كابوس ملايين المواطنين الذين يعانون حدثاً سياسياً دموياً غير مسبوق في حياتهم: أن يقتحم متظاهرون مسلحون بدعوةٍ من رئيس البلاد مبنى الكونغرس بما هو مقرّ السلطة التشريعية ويمعنون فيه تخريباً وبالمشرّعين المذهولين تنكيلاً وتقريعاً، ويشتبكون مع رجال الشرطة فيقع بين الطرفين عشرات القتلى والجرحى.

قيل في وصف الحدث الجلل إنه يعادل في خطورته الهجوم الياباني الغادر على قاعدة بيرل هاربر الأميركية أثناء الحرب العالمية الثانية. حتى الرئيس السابق، بطل الحرب الوحشية على العراق، جورج بوش الابن، وصفه بأنه «حالة تمرّد تليق بجمهوريات الموز».

دونالد ترامب الذي كان حضّ أنصاره على التوجّه الى مبنى الكونغرس لمطالبة نائبه مايك بنس المترئس جلسته التشريعية بالتدخل لعكس مسار الهزيمة، استثار تنديداً شديداً في الداخل من الرؤساء والقادة الديمقراطيين والجمهوريين، وفي الخارج من رؤساء الدول والحكومات الصديقة والمعادية، ومن الصحف الكبرى وشتى وسائل الإعلام في الشرق والغرب.

لعلّ ذروة محنة ترامب الشخصيّة تجلّت في موقف القطب الاقتصادي العالمي وحليفه الواسع النفوذ، مالك شبكة «فوكس نيوز» التلفزيونية وصحيفة «وول ستريت جورنال»، روبرت مردوخ، الذي دعاه في مقال افتتاحيّ الى تحمّل مسؤولياته والاستقالة.

غير أنّ المشهد الأميركي عرسٌ لخصوم ترامب الذين رأوه اخيراً يرحل مهزوماً، ولو مؤقتاً. ذلك أنه أعلن عدم مشاركته في حفل تسلّم جو بايدن مقاليد الرئاسة لوجوده في منتجعه بولاية فلوريدا، لكنه وعد أنصاره بالعودة اليهم رئيساً في انتخابات 2024!

قادة الحزب الديمقراطي لم يكتفوا بهزيمته. كبيرتهم رئيسة مجلس النواب نانسي بيلوسي دعت إلى عزله وكشفت أنها «تحدثت الى رئيس اركان الجيوش الأميركية الجنرال مارك ميلي لمناقشة التدابير الوقائية المتوافرة لتجنّب قيام رئيس مختل، مضطرب، وخطر بهجمات عسكرية عدائية أو باستخدام رموز الإطلاق ليأمر بضربة نووية». كما تعهّدت بأن يتحرك الكونغرس في حال لم يتنحّ ترامب «طوعاً وفي وقت وشيك».

يصعب على الكونغرس خلال أيام معدودة تفصله عن حفل تنصيب الرئيس المنتخب إنهاء عملية عزل ترامب. مع ذلك، ثمة جماعة وازنة بين أعضائه تدعو الى محاكمته وإدانته حتى لو تمّ الأمر بعد تسلّم بايدن مقاليد السلطة وذلك للحؤول دون ترشحه للرئاسة سنة 2024. دلالةُ هذا الموقف أنّ إخراج ترامب من البيت الأبيض لا يعني بالضرورة إخراجه من الحياة السياسية. صحيح أنه سقط بضربة قاسية، لكن الترامبية لم تسقط. لقد باتت تياراً شعبياً قوياً تستند الى رافعة لافته: 75 مليون صوت نالها الرئيس العجيب الغريب في الانتخابات الأخيرة.

ما جرى ويجري ينطق بحقيقتين ساطعتين:

الاولى، أنّ أميركا تمشرقت وتمزّقت. تمزقت بمعنى انها انقسمت على نفسها وتمزقت فئات وجماعات متنافرة، متناحرة، تتوزّعها عصبيات عرقية وطبقية ومناطقية، تلجأ الى السلاح والعنف على نحوٍ يحاكي ما جرى ويجري في بعض بلاد العرب وغرب آسيا. الى ذلك، ثمة مشاكل أخرى مربكة: يشكّل السكان ممن هم من أصول أميركية إسبانية، بحسب مركز «بيو ريسرتش سنتر»، 17 في المئة من الشعب الأميركي، وتعدّ الاسبانية اللغة الأم لأكثر من 41 مليون شخص ولغة ثانية في 43 ولاية من ولايات أميركا الخمسين. فوق ذلك، يدفع التفاوت في الموارد والعمران والتقدّم بين الولايات الى نموّ تيارات انفصالية فاعلة. ولاية ألاسكا الغنية بالنفط والتي سكانها من أصول روسية طالبت بالانفصال وكادت تناله لولا قراران للمحكمة العليا في واشنطن في 2009 و 2015. كذلك ولاية كاليفورنيا التي تشكّل الأقليات 51 في المئة من مجموع سكانها دفعت ممارسات أقليتُها البيضاء أكثرية السكان الى التلويح بالانفصال شأن ولايات نيويورك وفلوريدا والمكسيك وتكساس وأريزونا.

الثانية، ثمة تململ واسع وعميق في ولايات الوسط الأميركي، لا سيما في أوساط الأجيال الشابة والطبقات ذات الدخل المحدود، من سيطرة الولايات الكبرى والنخب السياسية التقليدية المتحكمة بمؤسسات السلطة والاقتصاد. هذه الأجيال والجماعات الشابة ليست مناهضة لمنظومة ترامب فقط بل للنخب والقيادات التقليديّة للحزبين الديمقراطي والجمهوري أيضاً. وعليه، فإن إدارة الرئيس بايدن لن تكون مضطرة الى مواجهة تيار الترامبية اليميني الأبيض فحسب، بل الجماعات الشابة المناهضة للقيادات التقليدية في كِلا الحزبيين النافذين أيضاً.

ماذا بعد؟

صحيح أنّ الرئيس بايدن وإدارته سيكونان منشغلين، بالدرجة الأولى، بقضايا الداخل وتحدياته الماثلة، إلاّ انهما مضطران أيضاً الى مواجهة عالم مضطرب، سياسياً واقتصادياً وأمنياً، هو أحد جوانب تركة ترامب الثقيلة. أول التحديات الصين بما هي القطب الدولي القوي اقتصادياً والقادر على ان ينتزع من أميركا قيادتها الوحدانية للعالم. ثاني التحديات روسيا بما هي منافسة أميركا الأولى على التعاون مع أوروبا وربما التحالف معها، كما الخطر السيبراني الاول الذي يهدد الامن القومي الأميركي.

ما يهمّنا في عالم العرب سياسة بايدن ومواقفه من ثلاث قوى إقليمية كبرى: «إسرائيل» وإيران وتركيا.

ليس بايدن معادياً لإيران كما ترامب. بالعكس، هو أبدى استعداداً لإعادة بلاده الى الاتفاق النووي معها الذي كان ترامب سحبها منه سنة 2018. غير انّ له تحفظات حيال تعاظم نجاح إيران في صناعة الصواريخ الباليستية بعيدة المدى، والأرجح أنه سيحاول ربط عودة بلاده الى الاتفاق النووي بمفاوضة إيران حول هذه الصواريخ لكونها تشكّل خطراً داهماً على «إسرائيل»، فيما إيران تصرّ على رفع العقوبات الاقتصادية عنها أولاً.

الى ذلك، ثمة سؤال حول موقف «إسرائيل» من إيران وتهديدها بأنها لن تسمح لها بإنتاج سلاح نووي. صحيح أنّ إيران تلتزم ذاتياً عدم تصنيع أسلحة نووية، غير أنّ دعمها السخي لتنظيمات المقاومة في فلسطين ولبنان وسورية والعراق تتذرّع به «إسرائيل» لتبرير محاولة احتواء محور المقاومة بضرب أذرعته في هذه البلدان الأربعة ما يضعها في صراع حتمي مع إيران. فماذا تراه يكون موقف بايدن وإدارته في هذه الحال؟

تركيا ليست معادية لـِ «إسرائيل» وإنْ بدت أحياناً متحفظة حيال تصرفاتها المؤذية للفلسطينيين. غير أنّ اعتماد تركيا سياسة توسعية ناشطة في البحث عن مكامن النفط والغاز في الحوض الشرقي للبحر الأبيض المتوسط يضعها في حال تنافس وربما صدام مع تحالف مصر و«إسرائيل» وقبرص واليونان التي تتداخل مناطقها الاقتصادية البحرية الخالصة مع تركيا. ثم أنّ استمرار تركيا في احتلال مناطق حيوية جداً في شمال غرب سورية وشرقها يضعها في حال توتر وربما اشتباك مع إيران وسورية نظراً للتحالف القائم بينهما.

كثيرةٌ هي التحديات التي تواجه بايدن في الداخل والخارج ما يحول دون اتضاح سياسته ومواقفه حيالها قبل اكتمال تشكيلة إدارته ومباشرتها العمل الجاد في الربيع المقبل.

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*نائب ووزير سابق.

The dark motives behind Saudi Arabia’s push for Gulf unity

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David Hearst is the editor in chief of Middle East Eye. He left The Guardian as its chief foreign leader writer. In a career spanning 29 years, he covered the Brighton bomb, the miner’s strike, the loyalist backlash in the wake of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in Northern Ireland, the first conflicts in the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in Slovenia and Croatia, the end of the Soviet Union, Chechnya, and the bushfire wars that accompanied it. He charted Boris Yeltsin’s moral and physical decline and the conditions which created the rise of Putin. After Ireland, he was appointed Europe correspondent for Guardian Europe, then joined the Moscow bureau in 1992, before becoming bureau chief in 1994. He left Russia in 1997 to join the foreign desk, became European editor and then associate foreign editor. He joined The Guardian from The Scotsman, where he worked as education correspondent.

David Hearst

6 January 2021 17:22 UTC 

Mohammed bin Salman could use the detente with Qatar to achieve two objectives: to announce his own recognition of Israel, and to persuade his father to abdicate the throne

It took Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman three years and six months to come to the same conclusion that some of us reached days into the blockade of Qatar: that it was doomed to failure.

The project to silence the voice of an independent neighbour was doomed the moment that then-US defence secretary James Mattis and then-secretary of state Rex Tillerson, a former oilman with extensive links to Qatar, learned of plans to invade the peninsula and stopped them.

As the weeks passed, Qatar’s hand was only strengthened. Turkish troops arrived in Doha to form a physical buffer. Iran gave Qatar the use of its airspace. The blockade could never work with an air bridge established around Saudi Arabia.

If anything, this unpleasant shock has strengthened Qatar. The same goes for Turkish and Iranian foreign policy

It took only months for Qatar to assemble a major lobbying operation in Washington, undoing or rolling back the influence of the principal lobbyist for the Saudis, the Emirati ambassador Youssef al-Otaiba, and establishing solid support of its own. US President Donald Trump did not even acknowledge that Qatar hosted the Pentagon’s most important airbase in the region, Al Udeid, when he tweeted his approval of the blockade in 2017. 

In the end, the Saudi prince overestimated Trump’s influence and underestimated the residual power of the US military. Both Tillerson and Mattis are long gone, but the pressure to reverse this mad act of recklessness never receded; it only grew with time.

With the imminent arrival of a hostile US president in Joe Biden, bin Salman sensed the time had come to put an end to his folly. Today, none of the 13 demands originally placed on Qatar by the blockading states have been met. Neither its hosting of members of the Muslim Brotherhood nor its foreign policy have changed. Al Jazeera has not been closed down. Qatar’s alliance with Iran and Turkey has, if anything, strengthened.

Domestically, Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, is held in higher esteem for his defence of the state than he was before, as Qatari nationalism has mounted. Qatar is more self-sufficient and confident than it was before the blockade. 

‘Qatar has won’

If anything, this unpleasant shock has strengthened Qatar. The same goes for Turkish and Iranian foreign policy.

“You could say Qatar has won,” Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a professor of politics in Dubai who was one of the foremost defenders of the blockade three years ago, told the Financial Times. “The cost of fighting was too high – there is a realisation now that this is the black sheep of the family and we just have to put up with it. These have been the worst three-and-a-half years in the history of the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council].”This GCC show of unity can’t hide its weakness

But these conclusions are, for the moment, bin Salman’s alone. It is interesting to note who was absent from the display of brotherly love at the GCC summit on Tuesday. The no-show by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed came alongside the absence of Bahrain’s King Hamad and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Bahrain is in the midst of an increasingly bitter border dispute with Qatar, and Egypt remains sceptical about the whole enterprise. Mada Masr quoted Egyptian government sources as saying that Cairo does not see a sufficiently strong foundation to open a new page in relations with Doha. Qatar, they claimed, was still mounting a “methodological campaign aimed at the Egyptian regime”. 

The sources noted that none of the basic demands made of Qatar – closing down Al Jazeera, shuttering a Turkish military base, severing ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and reducing ties with Iran – had been met. It is too early to say whether this signals a fracturing of the counter-revolutionary forces that have held together since they paid for and installed Sisi as president of Egypt after a military coup in 2013.

Tensions over Yemen and Israel

Certainly, there are grounds for a bust-up between mentor bin Zayed and his protege, bin Salman. One is Yemen: who is really in charge of the Saudi-led intervention that bin Salman launched in March 2015 – the Saudis or the Emiratis? Militias funded by and loyal to the UAE have taken control of the south, leaving the Saudis with an unresolved war with the Houthis in the north.

A second source of tension is Israel. In spearheading normalisation with Israel, the Emiratis clearly pitched themselves as Tel Aviv’s principal Gulf partner. Otaiba’s boast that the UAE and Israel had the two most capable military forces in the region raised eyebrows in Riyadh and Cairo. 

The Israeli prime minster and the foreign ministers of the UAE and Bahrain participate in a signing ceremony for the Abraham Accords in Washington on 15 September (AFP)
The Israeli prime minster and the foreign ministers of the UAE and Bahrain participate in a signing ceremony for the Abraham Accords in Washington on 15 September 2020 (AFP)

Writing the first-ever op-ed by a Gulf diplomat for an Israeli newspaper, Otaiba boasted before normalisation took place last year: “With the region’s two most capable militaries, common concerns about terrorism and aggression, and a deep and long relationship with the United States, the UAE and Israel could form closer and more effective security cooperation. As the two most advanced and diversified economies in the region, expanded business and financial ties could accelerate growth and stability across the Middle East.”

The Emirati claim to be the principal partner of Israel could cause problems for the future king of Saudi Arabia. Another notable absentee from the GCC summit was the country’s current king, Salman.

Kingdom split

Al Jazeera’s coverage of the tumultuous events shaking the Arab world has waxed and waned. Even before the blockade, it did not, for instance, devote the same attention to the murderous bombardment of Yemen by Saudi warplanes as it did to the Egyptian revolution in 2011. 

While producers and reporters are freer to report than most of their contemporaries in the Saudi-, Emirati- and Egyptian-controlled media, the state of Qatar still has its hands on volume control. There are many examples, including the decision to downplay coverage of the trial of Loujain al-Hathloul, the prominent Saudi activist recently sentenced to five years and eight months in prison.

To deliver Saudi Arabia into the hands of Israel would represent a real prize to the alliance being built over and around the heads of Palestinians

Bin Salman could use this detente with Qatar to achieve two objectives: to announce his own recognition of Israel, and to persuade his father to abdicate and pass the crown to him.

There is no doubt that bin Salman thinks it is time to do both. From the very start of his campaign to become king, establishing close clandestine relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been key to bin Salman’s relationship with US presidential adviser Jared Kushner and his father-in-law, Trump. 

The kingdom is split from top to bottom on the issue of normalisation with Israel. Foreign-policy heavyweights in the family still publicly voice opposition, notably the former Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal. The king himself, to whom Prince Turki remains close, is also opposed, and the issue will have a strong impact on the Saudi people.

Future turmoil

One first step towards resolving this is to neutralise or turn down the volume of the Arab media that could run against bin Salman. This mainly comes from Qatar, which might explain why Kushner himself was present at the GCC summit.

For all the pain involved, the prize is great – and Biden, a committed Zionist, would welcome it. To deliver Saudi Arabia into the hands of Israel would represent a real prize to the alliance being built over and around the heads of Palestinians. Saudi Arabia remains, by dint of its size and wealth, a “real” Arab nation.

While the resolution of the crisis with Qatar is to be welcomed, the motives for doing so could lead to yet more turmoil in Arab world.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

This GCC show of unity can’t hide its weakness

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

TURKEY RUNS OUT OF MONEY FOR ITS MERCENARIES

 South Front

01.01.2021

On Janury 1, dozens of mercenaries from Siryan Idlib staged a protest in Tripoli’s Police College in Libya. Militants demand payment of salaries from their Turkish bosses.

According to the Al-Saa’a 24 news channel, the Syrian mercenaries have not been paid for five months. Each mercenary’s late due reportedly amount to $10,000.

According to numerous sources, it is known that the amount of contracts for Syrian mercenaries ranges from $1,500 to $2,000, depending on their military specialties and responsibilities.

Despite the signing of the ceasefire agreement between the Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan National Army (LNA) in October, Turkey intends to deploy a new branch of mercenaries in Libya to support the GNA, according to the recent claims by the Siryan Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

According to the SOHR, the number of mercenaries sent to Libya is estimated at 18,000. A significant part of them are under age of 18.

Turkey is actively deploying mercenaries from Syria to implement its national interests in different world regions. The recent Nagorno-Karabakh war, where more than 2,500 of its fighters were reportedly deployed alongside with Azerbaijani forces, demanded significant financial efforts from Ankara. Moreover, there are reports that Turkey is going to send mercenaries to Kashmir to fight against Indian forces.

At the same time, Turkish proxies have recently failed a large scale attack on the town of Ain Issa held by the Syrian Democratic Forces in Siryan Raqqa governorate.

Turkish desire to restore the greatness of the Ottoman Empire faces a lack of funds to carry out these ambitious plans.

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Geopolitical Tendencies of the Last Six Years

Geopolitical Tendencies of the Last Six Years

December 30, 2020

Paul Schmutz Schaller for The Saker Blog

1) China, Russia, and Iran – confronted with Western aggressions – develop their strength and collaboration

In my eyes, the most important evolution in the last six years is that now, the leading forces are China, Russia, and Iran, and no more Western hegemonism under the direction of the USA. China, Russia, and Iran have not only fended off different Western attacks, but were also able to strike back. Moreover, the economical and military development in these countries is better than that in the USA.

The political leadership in the three countries is stable and during the last years, it has become completely obvious that each of the three is much more intelligent than any leadership in North America or in Western Europe. One may also say that the three countries use the intelligence of their peoples in a much more coherent manner than Western countries. Moreover, in China and Russia in particular, new important laws have strengthened the inner stability.

Take the Ukrainian crisis as the first example. After the Maidan putsch, the Crimea went back to Russia. And in the east of the Ukraine, the Kiev’s troops were severely beaten, in the first months of 2015. Subsequently, the West took sanctions against Russia, but this had not a big impact on Russia. Finally, the result was a stronger orientation of Russia towards Asia, in particular towards China. During the last year, the West tried to use Belarus and the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan against Russia. But Russia had no real problem to ward off these dangers.

After the nuclear deal with Iran in 2015, an important part of the sanctions against Iran was lifted by the UNO in January 2016 (the UNO sanctions with respect to arms were only lifted in 2020). But the USA imposed new sanctions in 2018, together with the so-called maximum pressure. While this clearly had negative consequences for the Iranian economy, the USA could not achieve any important goal. Even the murder of Soleimani one year ago could not weaken Iran, quite the contrary. Iran was able to openly strike US military bases in Iraq, and the USA had to accept this shame without risking an answer.

There were various anti-Chinese campaigns, mainly organized by Anglo-Saxon countries. In particular, there were the riots in Hong Kong. However, China was not really disturbed and during 2020, the riots were brought to an end so that the model „one country, two systems“ prevailed. Moreover, China was able to strengthen the military presence in the key region of the South Chinese Sea, without worsening the relations with the neighboring countries. Beijing has also made very clear that any step of Taiwan in the direction of a declaration of independence is a red line, not to be crossed. All countries in East and South-East Asia are more and more ready to accept the emergence of China as a great power.

The common interests of China, Russia, and Iran with respect to Western aggressions have led to a much closer cooperation between the three countries, including military cooperation. However, each of the three keeps the own identity; their model of cooperation is much better than that of the European Union. They are well prepared for the so-called Asian century.

A good illustration of the changes in the last six years is provided by Turkey. Objectively speaking, this is an important country. Turkey uses a rather ambitious and dangerous politics and is a member of NATO. Five year ago, Turkey shot down a Russian aircraft and the two sides were near an open military conflict. Now, the relations between Turkey and Russia are significantly more rational and better under control than the relations between Turkey and USA as well as the relations between Turkey and the European Union. Moreover, the relations between Turkey and Iran are now quite solid.

2) Progress in Middle East

In 2015, three major events related to the Middle East took place; they remained of crucial importance until today. In March, the Saudi aggression war against Yemen began; in July, the nuclear deal about Iran was signed; in September, Russia started the direct military support for the war against terrorism in Syria.

In these six years, the situation has very much evolved; the Middle East remains the region with the fastest changes. There, the geopolitical conflicts are at its hottest. The terrorists of Daesh and Al Qaeda have been essentially beaten, in Syria and Iraq. Turkey, USA, and Israel had to intervene much more directly in order to keep the terrorism in Syria alive; this includes the direct stealing of the Syrian oil (before, this was done by Daesh). Big parts of Syria have been liberated. The Russian military commitment was a great success and has produced broad respect for the Russian army and the Russian arms.

In the Yemen war, Saudi Arabia is now loosing. They already lost some allies of the global south which were bought by Saudi money. Possibly, Israel and USA will henceforth take part in the war more directly, but as in Syria, this can only delay the end of the war, but not change the outcome.

Despite many attacks and complots, Hezbollah in Lebanon has noticeably gained in strength. Even if it is not yet fully obvious, Israel has mainly lost the military superiority in the region. Iran, Hezbollah, Syria, and Ansarullah (in Yemen) have got too strong, and also in Iraq, the patriotic forces are quite solid now. These developments may be a reason for the fact that Israel is not able to install a stable government despite different elections.

During the last four years, when Trump was president, the US aggressions were concentrated on the Middle East; understandably, this region is satisfied about the departure of Trump. However, the USA have not obtained much, Trump’s Middle East politics were a failure.

3) Internal crisis of the West: nationalism versus Western hegemonism

The rich Western countries have lost some of their economical power and they can offer less to their peoples. There is an increasing number of people who are neglected by Western hegemonism, I call them the forgotten classes. The latter have not yet found an own political identity (may-be with the exception of the Yellow Vests in France). On the other hand, this development has provoked the creation of new nationalistic movements in nearly all rich Western countries. In many of these countries, these new movements have become the main political opposition to the Western hegemonism. This does not mean that these movements are progressive. But objectively speaking, they have important positive aspects. This fact is often neglected by left wing oriented people in Western countries.

The leading figures of these nationalistic movements are quite different. Some came from traditional political parties such as Blocher (Switzerland), Trump (USA), Johnson (UK); others have created new political parties. Some have important economical power, examples are Berlusconi (Italy), Blocher (Switzerland), or Trump (USA). Some are quite close to Zionists, for example Trump (USA) or Salvini (Italy). The relation of the leading figures to the forgotten classes is quite varying. Personally, I would say that Marine Le Pen (France) is the most sympathetic one – while she is certainly not the most talented politician among the leaders of the new nationalistic movements.

The year 2016 saw two major political sensations, namely the vote for Brexit in the UK and the election of Trump in the USA. In both countries, the new nationalistic movements won, due to the support of the forgotten classes. The Brexit vote was confirmed by the clear election win of Johnson in UK in December 2019.

In most Western countries, the traditional political forces, which support Western hegemonism, have big difficulties in accepting the rise of the new nationalist movements. They intend to completely defeat these movements. They are not able to see that these movements are „fed“ by the forgotten classes and that the latter are a product of an objective situation and cannot be defeated. Therefore, the internal crisis of the West will continue.

4) Latin America, Africa, India

Latin America saw important developments in the last years. Generally speaking, this region is still in the phase of strategic defensive with respect to Western hegemonism. However, the strength of the anti-imperialist forces has somewhat stabilized. Despite major Western attacks against Venezuela, the elected government could resist. The same is true for Cuba or Nicaragua. And the putsch in Bolivia in 2019 was „corrected“ in 2020 quite quickly. These developments are supported by the increasing relations between the countries of Latin America with China, Russia, and Iran. Setbacks are still possible, if not probable, but the general tendency goes towards a solid implantation of the anti-imperialist camp.

Politically and economically speaking, the weight of the African continent remains small. Western countries and terrorist movements are disturbing the positive developments. The illusion that regional conflicts can be resolved by extern interference, is still quite strong. A recent example is Morocco which blundered into this trap, thinking that the USA and Israel will „help“ with the annexation of the Western Sahara. In general, improvements in Africa are still quite slow.

India is one of the countries which went in a negative direction during the last years. The Indian government had plenty of opportunities, but they took decisions which led to increasing conflicts with neighboring Asian countries such as China and Pakistan. India has also refused to participate in the new RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) of 15 countries (10 ASEAN countries, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand). Instead, India has reinforced relations with the USA, but, as experience shows, this kind of relations is built on sand. It is not by accident that the internal opposition in India against the government is growing.

5) Western Europe disappoints

In June 2015, I restarted writing political articles. This might be the reason why I speak here of the last six years. During this period, I made a number of judgements and predictions. And paradoxically, my biggest errors were with respect to Western Europe (where I live). I had the tendency to be too optimistic about Western Europe. I expected that they would develop politics which are more independent and more related to the geopolitical realities.

However, the leading classes in Western Europe are very stubborn. They are not at all ready to break with their colonial past. They continue to dream of regaining the paradise of global domination. Moreover, their big economic companies are very much dependent on the US economy. So, in each political crisis, they take backward decisions. Examples are Ukraine and sanctions against Russia, Hong Kong riots and sanctions against China, the Syria war against terrorism and sanctions against Syria, the recognition of the US puppet Guaido in Venezuela, the compliance with the aggression against Yemen, with the US sanctions against Iran, with the murder of Soleimani, of al-Muhandis (Iraq), and of Fakhrizadeh (Iran).

Iran’s Khamenei has always warned against making confidence in Western Europe, and he was right. For the time being, leaders in Western Europe exceedingly overrate themselves and keep their utterly unrealistic illusions. It seems that Australia is on a similar path.

Outlook for 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has somewhat frozen the regional and geopolitical conflicts. At the same time, these conflicts were exacerbated. But this is barely visible. The states were very much occupied with their internal situation.

This might continue for some months in 2021. But finally, it will be impossible to contain the conflicts. Quite chaotic developments have to be expected. In this context, analyzing the tendencies of the last years should be useful in order to keep some orientation.

RUSSIA SUFFERS CASUALTIES IN GREATER IDLIB. ISRAEL POUNDS DAMASCUS COUNTRYSIDE

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On the morning of December 30th, warplanes of the Israeli Air Force once again carried out strikes on alleged Iranian targets in the countryside of Damascus. According to reports one person was killed and 3 others injured in the attack.

Earlier, an unidentified, unmanned aerial vehicle struck several oil tanks near the village of al-Hamran, which is located north of the town of Manbij in northern Syria. The village is situated on the contact line between territories controlled by Turkish-backed forces and the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

According to local sources, the oil tankers belonged to SDF-linked oil smugglers, who were selling oil looted from the US-controlled oil fields on the eastern bank of the Euphrates to Turkish-linked entities. This oil smuggling business sheds light on the real face of the Kurdish SDF leadership, which likes to make loud statements about its alleged patriotism and its plans to expel the Turkish Army from northern Syria.

In Idlib, three Russian service members received minor injuries as a result of an ATGM strike on their armoured vehicle, the Russian Defense Ministry reported on December 29. The report said that an armored personnel carrier of the Russian Military Police came under attack from the territory controlled by Turkish-backed militants. Russian forces, in cooperation with the Turkish military and Syrian security forces, are looking for those involved.

These developments came as the Turkish Armed Forces were working to evacuate their observation point near the town of Tell Touqan. This was one of their last remaining points within the territories, which have been liberated by the Syrian Army.

Over the past months, Turkey has withdrawn a group of its posts, which had been besieged by Syrian troops. In light of this, the recent increase in attacks by Turkish proxies along the contact line may be a part of the Turkish game aimed at demonstrating that any decrease of the Turkish military presence in Greater Idlib would lead to the deterioration of the security situation there.

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Turkey pivots to the center of The New Great Game

Turkey pivots to the center of The New Great Game

December 28, 2020

by Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

When it comes to sowing – and profiting – from division, Erdogan’s Turkey is quite the superstar.

Under the delightfully named Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), the Trump administration duly slapped sanctions on Ankara for daring to buy Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile defence systems. The sanctions focused on Turkey’s defence procurement agency, the SSB.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s response was swift: Ankara won’t back down – and it is in fact mulling how to respond.

The European poodles inevitably had to provide the follow-up. So after the proverbial, interminable debate in Brussels, they settled for “limited” sanctions – adding a further list for a summit in March 2021. Yet these sanctions actually focus on as-yet unidentified individuals involved in offshore drilling in Cyprus and Greece. They have nothing to do with S-400s.

What the EU has come up with is in fact a very ambitious, global human-rights sanctions regime modeled after the US’s Magnitsky Act. That implies travel bans and asset freezes of people unilaterally considered responsible for genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings and crimes against humanity.

Turkey, in this case, is just a guinea pig. The EU always hesitates mightily when it comes to sanctioning a NATO member. What the Eurocrats in Brussels really want is an extra, powerful tool to harass mostly China and Russia.

Our jihadis, sorry, “moderate rebels”

What’s fascinating is that Ankara under Erdogan always seems to be exhibiting a sort of “devil may care” attitude.

Take the seemingly insoluble situation in the Idlib cauldron in northwest Syria. Jabhat al-Nusra – a.k.a. al-Qaeda in Syria – honchos are now involved in “secret” negotiations with Turkish-backed armed gangs, such as Ahrar al-Sharqiya, right in front of Turkish officials. The objective: to boost the number of jihadis concentrated in certain key areas. The bottom line: a large number of these will come from Jabhat al-Nusra.

So Ankara for all practical purposes remains fully behind hardcore jihadis in northwest Syria – disguised under the “innocent” brand Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Ankara has absolutely no interest in letting these people disappear. Moscow, of course, is fully aware of these shenanigans, but wily Kremlin and Defence Ministry strategists prefer to let it roll for the time being, assuming the Astana process shared by Russia, Iran and Turkey can be somewhat fruitful.

Erdogan, at the same time, masterfully plays the impression that he’s totally involved in pivoting towards Moscow. He’s effusive that “his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin” supports the idea – initially tabled by Azerbaijan – of a regional security platform uniting Russia, Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. Erdogan even said that if Yerevan is part of this mechanism, “a new page may be opened” in so far intractable Turkey-Armenia relations.

It will help, of course, that even under Putin pre-eminence, Erdogan will have a very important seat at the table of this putative security organization.

The Big Picture is even more fascinating – because it lays out various aspects of Putin’s Eurasia balancing strategy, which involves as main players Russia, China, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan.

On the eve of the first anniversary of the assassination of Gen Soleimani, Tehran is far from cowed and “isolated”. For all practical purposes, it is slowly but surely forcing the US out of Iraq. Iran’s diplomatic and military links to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon remain solid.

And with less US troops in Afghanistan, the fact is Iran for the first time since the “axis of evil” era will be less surrounded by the Pentagon. Both Russia and China – the key nodes of Eurasia integration – fully approve it.

Of course the Iranian rial has collapsed against the US dollar, and oil income has fallen from over $100 billion a year to something like $7 billion. But non-oil exports are going well over $30 billion a year.

All is about to change for the better. Iran is building an ultra-strategic pipeline from the eastern part of the Persian Gulf to the port of Jask in the Gulf of Oman – bypassing the Strait of Hormuz, and ready to export up to 1 million barrels of oil a day. China will be the top customer.

President Rouhani said the pipeline will be ready by the summer of 2021, adding that Iran plans to be selling over 2.3 million barrels of oil a day next year – with or without US sanctions alleviated by Biden-Harris.

Watch the Golden Ring

Iran is well linked to Turkey to the west and Central Asia to the east. An extra important element in the chessboard is the entrance of freight trains directly linking Turkey to China via Central Asia -bypassing Russia.

Earlier this month, the first freight train left Istanbul for a 8,693 km, 12-day trip, crossing below the Bosphorus via the brand new Marmary tunnel, inaugurated a year ago, then along the East-West Middle Corridor via the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway, across Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

In Turkey this is known as the Silk Railway. It was the BTK that reduced freight transport from Turkey to China from one month to only 12 days. The whole route from East Asia to Western Europe can now be travelled in only 18 days. BTK is the key node of the so-called Middle Corridor from Beijing to London and the Iron Silk Road from Kazakhstan to Turkey.

All of the above totally fits the EU’s agenda – especially Germany’s: implementing a strategic trade corridor linking the EU to China, bypassing Russia.

This would eventually lead to one of the key alliances to be consolidated in the Raging Twenties: Berlin-Beijing.

To speed up this putative alliance, the talk in Brussels is that Eurocrats would profit from Turkmen nationalism, pan-Turkism and the recent entente cordiale between Erdogan and Xi when it comes to the Uighurs. But there’s a problem: many a turcophone tribe prefers an alliance with Russia.

Moreover, Russia is inescapable when it comes to other corridors. Take, for instance, a flow of Japanese goods going to Vladivostok and then via the Trans-Siberian to Moscow and onwards to the EU.

The bypass-Russia EU strategy was not exactly a hit in Armenia-Azerbaijan: what we had was a relative Turkey retreat and a de facto Russian victory, with Moscow reinforcing its military position in the Caucasus.

Enter an even more interesting gambit: the Azerbaijan-Pakistan strategic partnership, now on overdrive in trade, defence, energy, science and technology, and agriculture. Islamabad, incidentally, supported Baku on Nagorno-Karabakh.

Both Azerbaijan and Pakistan have very good relations with Turkey: a matter of very complex, interlocking Turk-Persian cultural heritage.

And they may get even closer, with the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INTSC) increasingly connecting not only Islamabad to Baku but also both to Moscow.

Thus the extra dimension of the new security mechanism proposed by Baku uniting Russia, Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia: all the Top Four here want closer ties with Pakistan.

Analyst Andrew Korybko has neatly dubbed it the “Golden Ring” – a new dimension to Central Eurasian integration featuring Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Azerbaijan and the central Asian “stans”. So this all goes way beyond a possible Triple Entente: Berlin-Ankara-Beijing.

What’s certain as it stands is that the all-important Berlin-Moscow relationship is bound to remain as cold as ice. Norwegian analyst Glenn Diesen summed it all up: “The German-Russian partnership for Greater Europe was replaced with the Chinese-Russian partnership for Greater Eurasia”.

What’s also certain is that Erdogan, a master of pivoting, will find ways to simultaneously profit from both Germany and Russia.

SYRIAN ARMY HUNTS DOWN ISIS IN HOMS DESERT, MOBILIZES FORCES IN SOUTHERN IDLIB

South Front

The Syrian Army launched a new combing operation against ISIS cells in the Hama-Aleppo-Raqqa triangle. The operation is supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces. As of now, clashes between the army and ISIS have resulted in the killing of at least 7 terrorists.

In the second half of 2020, ISIS significantly increased its activity in the central desert. ISIS cells reportedly buy supplies, including weapons, from U.S.-backed fighters based in the area of al-Tanf, as well as exploit the lack of control on the Syrian-Iraqi border to receive support from a network of ISIS cells in Iraq.

Meanwhile, sources loyal to Turkish-backed militants claim that the Syrian Army has started mobilizing its forces in the southern part of Greater Idlib. The army has allegedly deployed new reinforcements to the Jurin camp and the town of Shat’ha. Militants claim that these developments are a part of the preparation for an offensive operation on the al-Ghab Plains.

A series of assassinations has targeted personnel of Syrian government forces and civilians in the southern province of Daraa.

On December 21, gunmen shot and killed a warrant officer of the Military Intelligence Directorate and a soldier of the 4th Division in the town of Sahem al-Golan. On the same day, gunmen shot and killed two officers of the Air Force Intelligence Directorate in the town of Dael. On December 22, gunmen shot and killed a member of the 4th Division in the town of al-Yadudah. Later, an IED explosion killed a local state employee, Ismail Musa al-Falah, in the town of al-Sanamayn. Lastly, gunmen killed a civilian and two intelligence officers in the town of al-Ajraf.

ISIS cells are known to be active in the areas, where the attacks took place. Nevertheless, the terrorist group usually claims responsibility for such attacks. Therefore, militant groups supported by Israeli intelligence are more likely suspects in this case.

Recently, Israeli media outlets and think tanks started promoting the idea of military action to stabilize the ‘chaos’ in southern Syria and prevent what Tel Aviv likes to call the growing ‘terrorist threat’ from Iran and Hezbollah. The issue not covered by these reports is that Israel itself and its actions remain the main source of instability there.

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Is Washington going to Maintain its Ties with the Muslim Brotherhood?

Source

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By Vladimir Odintsov
Source: New Eastern Outlook

According to media reports, Republican Senator Ted Cruz recently sent another bill to the US Congress, proposing to declare an Islamist organization, the Muslim Brotherhood (banned in Russia – ed.), a terrorist organization.

Earlier, in late 2014, the US administration, in the face of Congressman Ted Cruz, already made a similar suggestion. In it, he referred to the fact that Egypt, after the President of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohammed Morsi was overthrown in late 2013, declared the organization a terrorist organization, and in March 2014, Egyptian example was followed by Saudi Arabia. In November 2014 the UAE declared the actions of 83 organizations in their territory illegal. This list included the Muslim Brotherhood, while Jordan arrested numerous high up and ordinary organization members, whom they promptly accused of terrorism. In April 2016, however, Ann Petersen, then Assistant Secretary of State for Middle Eastern Affairs, speaking before a subcommittee of the US Congress, refused to consider the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, stating that “the organization is represented by legitimate political parties in several Middle Eastern countries, moving away from its violent position that it has held for decades”.

Nevertheless, in 2017, a group of Republicans represented by Senator Thea Cruz introduced a new bill in the US Congress recognizing the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group. Soon enough, another bill was introduced against the Islamist organization, proposing that it be declared a terrorist group in the United States.

In order to understand the reasons for the difficulties in having the US authorities officially recognize the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, which has long been recognized as one in Russia and a number of other countries, it seems appropriate to recall the history of its existence and its “friendship” with the US authorities.

The Muslim Brotherhood was established as an international religious and political association in March 1928 by teacher Hassan al-Banna in Ismailia, Egypt. The status of this organization is ambiguous – in some countries it is legal, and political parties associated with it have seats in the parliaments of their respective countries, in particular in Yemen, Sudan (until November 2019), Tunisia, Turkey, etc. At the same time, it is recognized as a terrorist organization in Bahrain, Egypt, Russia, UAE, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Tajikistan.

US cooperation with the Muslim Brotherhood began in 1953 under President Eisenhower, when several dozen Islamic theologians were invited to Princeton University to participate (according to the official version) “in a scientific conference”. In fact, the US authorities thereby intended to enlist the support of the spiritual leaders of Islamic countries to combat the growing “Communist threat” in the Middle East. Moreover,

File:President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Oval Office with Muslim  delegates in 1953.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Said Ramadan (second from the right) in the Oval Office with US President Dwight D. Eisenhower and other Muslim leaders in 1953

in the reports published in the media about this meeting, one of the main representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood at the time, Said Ramadan, who was present at the meeting, was referred to by the US intelligence agencies as a “fascist” and a “Falangist:”.

In his book, “Washington’s Secret History with the Muslim Brotherhood”, Ian Johnson, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, noted that US  interest in the Muslim Brotherhood especially increased after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 to use Islamists in opposition to the USSR in that country at the time.

And then, in September 1981, the Egyptian president Anwar Sadat is assassinated by members of a terrorist group, a splinter group of the Muslim Brotherhood. During the same period, the Muslim Brotherhood actively supported Islamic extremist groups operating in Afghanistan. Since the mid-90s, the Muslim Brotherhood has repeatedly attempted to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, carried out a series of major terrorist attacks on tourist routes against foreign nationals, and participated in military operations in Chechnya and Dagestan on the side of the bandit formations.

After the September 11 attacks, US contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood were frozen for some time. However, given the George W. Bush administration’s clear miscalculations in the two wars in Muslim countries, cooperation with representatives of this Islamist group has been strengthened by Washington in the hope that they will “help ease tensions” in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as in Europe. Therefore, in 2006 in Brussels, with the mediation of the US State Department, a conference was organized, involving the European branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, where representatives of the US and British intelligence agencies discussed the prospects for cooperation with the Islamists.

With the arrival of Barack Obama into the White House, this close cooperation continued, especially since people from George W. Bush’s team, who were developing a strategy for rapprochement with the Muslim Brotherhood, remained in the Obama administration. The leading role in maintaining these contacts was played by the US (CIA) and British (MI6) secret services, as Thierry Meyssan, the founding president of the Réseau Voltaire website, has written about in great detail and accuracy. It was not without the involvement of the Muslim Brotherhood that the United States succeeded in deposing and executing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Today, the Muslim Brotherhood has great influence not only in a number of countries in the Middle East, but also in Europe and the United States, and it is very well organized. The Muslim Brotherhood is a real international network with decades of experience. In Europe, the centers of this organization are London, Munich and many other major cities.

Given that Washington’s main goal in foreign policy has always been to maintain the role of the US as the absolute global leader, America could ensure its leadership in a global crisis only by, first, creating a climate of chaos in the world, in the midst of which the US would look like “an attractive island of stability”. In addition, it is much cheaper to manage chaos than it is to manage order. Second, America could retain global leadership if the economic and military-political power of China, the only competitor of the US in the battle for world domination, ready to take the crown of the winner from the United States, was severely restricted. Therefore, in recent years, the “friendship” of the United States with the Muslim Brotherhood has taken a blatantly anti-Chinese focus on using these Islamists to wreak havoc in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China and Central Asian countries.

By agreeing to a strategic alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood, the US government has opened a Pandora’s box. The Muslim Brotherhood, which has repeatedly proclaimed its desire to build an Arab caliphate based on Sharia principles “from Spain to Indonesia,” intends to conquer new spaces and countries, especially enemies of the United States, with the active support of Washington through terror and propaganda.

As for the United States, under the guise of legal difficulties in officially recognizing the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, it clearly fears the unintended consequences of such a step for its relations with Turkey and Qatar, which support the Muslim Brotherhood on both the religious and political levels. If the assistance of the peninsular emirate in the Persian Gulf is mainly limited to financial support for this Islamist organization, Ankara has made the Muslim Brotherhood one of its “combat wings” in Syria and Libya.

That is why it would be unwise to expect a positive outcome from the consideration by the US Congress of another bill to declare the Islamist organization Muslim Brotherhood (banned in Russia – ed.) a terrorist organization, even though relations between Washington and Ankara have noticeably deteriorated lately.

Vladimir Odintsov, a political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook“.

Turkey and the West: confrontation or Taming? تركيا والغرب: صدام أم ترويض؟

**Please scroll down for the English Machine translation**

تركيا والغرب: صدام أم ترويض؟

العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط*

من يراقب حركة تركيا في الفترة التي أعقبت الانتخابات الأميركية يجد انّ أردوغان يتصرّف وكأنه في سباق مع الوقت ويريد أن يقفل ملفات او يستجمع أوراقاً الى اقصى ما يمكنه جمعه قبل حلول الحاكم الجديد في البيت الأبيض الأميركي، لأنّ أردوغان يعرف أي علاقة تربطه بهذا الحاكم ويعرف مدى التباين بين المشروع التركي الخاص الذي يعمل من أجله والمشروع الغربي الذي تقوده الولايات المتحدة الأميركية والذي تعمل عليه بشكل واضح منذ العام 2010 في ظل حكم الديمقراطيين لأميركا وبوجود بايدن نفسه في مقعد نائب الرئيس الأميركي.

وهنا نتذكر بأنه عندما اندفع أردوغان في العام 2011 في قيادة العدوان الإرهابي على سورية تنفيذاً لخطة أطلسيّة بقيادة أميركية ظن أن الغرب والحلف الاطلسي الذي ينتمي اليه فوضه بحكم المنطقة وإقامة او استعادة الإمبراطورية العثمانية البائدة التي كان «الحلفاء» الأوروبيون قد أنزلوا الهزيمة بها وتقاسموا ممتلكاتها ومناطق احتلالها في غربي آسيا خاصة وكامل الشرق الأوسط بالمصطلح الغربي عامة.

تصرف أردوغان في سورية، ومنها في كامل المنطقة منذ اندلاع الحريق العربي (يسمّيه الغرب «ربيع عربي») تصرف على أساس انه سلطان المستقبل وبهذه الذهنية انقلب على تفاهماته وتوافقاته الاستراتيجية مع سورية وقاد العدوان الإرهابي عليها. وهنا كان التباين المستتر والخفي بين الظن التركي والتكليف الغربي الأطلسي، ففي حين عمل أردوغان بذهنية العمل لاستعادة سلطنة غابرة، كان الغرب يريد من أردوغان لعب دور رأس الحربة والقائد الميدانيّ لإسقاط محور المقاومة وتفكيكه من البوابة السورية التي تشكل القلعة الوسطى لهذا المحور، هدف تحتاجه أميركا من أجل إقامة النظام العالمي الأحادي القطبية وتعويض الإخفاق الذي عانت منه في افغانستان والعراق ولبنان.

وعلى هذا الأساس كانت الحرب الكونيّة التي استهدفت سورية منذ العام 2011 موضع تباين في النظرة من كل من الجانب التركي والاطلسي، وكانت عرضة للتنازع الخفي بين مشروعين، مشروع تركي يقوده أردوغان الحالم بإزالة آثار الهزيمة التي انزلت بالعثمانيين في الحرب الأولى، ومشروع أطلسي بقيادة أميركية جوهره تثبيت انتصار الغرب في الحربين العالميتين وتدمير القوى المقاومة للاستعمار والسيطرة الغربية وإنتاج بيئة تصفية القضية الفلسطينيّة، ويلتقي هذان المشروعان في سورية بشكل خاص على هدف إسقاط النظام السوري بقيادة الرئيس الأسد، لكنهما يتنافران بدرجات متفاوتة في أكثر من مكان وإقليم.

بيد أن أردوغان عندما فشل في سورية في موجة العدوان الأول عليها في سياق ما أسميناه يومها «استراتيجية الاخوان المسلمين للسيطرة على سورية»، وجد نفسه عرضة لسحب التفويض الغربي منه ونقله الى السعودية التي جرّبت حظها مع سورية في سياق ما أسميناه «خطة بندر»، الخطة التي لم تكن أفضل حظاً من خطة الاخوان، والتي انتهت الى فشل دفع أميركا الى النزول مباشرة الى الميدان وإنشاء تحالف عسكري بقيادتها بعد ان اصطنعت المبرر ودخلت في المرحلة الثالثة من العدوان على سورية والعراق هي «مرحلة داعش».

لم يكن أردوغان مرتاحاً للشعور الذي تشكل لديه نتيجة الفشل والإحساس بالتهميش الغربي له، واغتنم فرصة مدّ اليد الروسية والإيرانية له وانتظم في ثلاثي آستانة المشكل لمعالجة الوضع السوري ميدانياً، ورأى انّ ذلك يمنحه الوقت للمناورة الزئبقية ويتيح له العمل بطلاقة أكثر لتنفيذ مشروعه الخاص في سورية ومنها لنشره في الإقليم بعيداً عن المحدّدات او القيود الغربية. وقد نجح أردوغان في استثمار موقعه في استانة إلى حد بعيد ورغم التباين مع قطبي استانة الآخرين إيران وروسيا في أكثر من موضوع فقد بقي على علاقة معهما لا تتصف بالحميمية لكنها غير صدامية، علاقة يحتاجها من أجل مشروعه الخاص كما ذكرنا.

لقد مارس أردوغان مع كلّ من عمل معه في الشرق والغرب بسياسة سمتها الرئيسية الزئبقية المتقلبة، بحيث انه لم يجد نفسه مضطراً للإيفاء بوعد او لتنفيذ عقد او عهد وعمل بنَفَسٍ ميكافيليّ خالص باعتبار «انّ الغاية تبرر الوسيلة». وظنّ انّ «ذكاءه النشط» يجعله يحقق أهدافه من دون أن يعرضه الى أيّ خطر جدي، أي انه يخدع الآخر ويجعله يعطيه ثم يسكت على عدم الأخذ المقابل، معتقداً انّ الآخر بحاجة الى صداقته او على الأقل عدم عدواته نظراً لموقعه وتأثيره في المسرح الاستراتيجي الذي يتحرّك فيه.

بيد ان الأمور الآن وصلت نقطة لا يستطيع شركاء تركيا في الملفات المشتركة السكوت عنها أو مداراة تركيا فيها، ما جعل الانتصارات او الإنجازات التركية السابقة عرضة للنقض او الانهيار، وقد أحس أردوغان بالخطر الآتي واستشعر الحاجة لتدابير سريعة تحصّن وضعه ولهذا نراه الآن:

ـ يعود الى مغازلة أوروبا من الباب الألمانيّ بعد التهدئة مع اليونان لتجنب المواجهة الحادة مع أوروبا بعد أن وصلت علاقته بفرنسا وبماكرون شخصياً الى أدنى وأسوأ مستوياتها، وهو يظن بانّ ألمانيا التي ليس لها طموحات شرق أوسطية أقله حالياً لن تكون له منافساً في مشروعه الخاص، ويريد من أوروبا الآن أن تكون الظهير الاحتياطي الذي يعوّضه بعض الشيء عن الحضن الأميركي الذي يخشى برودته وجفافه مع بايدن.

ـ يسرع في تقويض الكيان الكردي الانفصالي في شمالي شرقي سورية قبل أن يصل بايدن الى البيت الأبيض، لأنه يعرف بأن مشروع بايدن هناك يقوم على استراتيجية التقسيم وإقامة الكيان الكردي المستقل أو شبه المستقل برعاية أميركية صهيونية، الامر الذي يخشى منه أردوغان لأنه يرى فيه مسّاً بالأمن القومي التركي.

ـ يعيد انتشار قواته في إدلب بشكل يخفض تداخلها مع الجيش العربي السوري على خطوط التماس ويقيم الخطوط والمواقع الحصينة المدعومة نارياً بشكل فاعل ليمنع أي محاولة سورية روسية لاستعادة المنطقة عسكرياً بعد فشل المحاولات جميعها لاستعادتها عبر منصة استانة واتفاقات سوتشي وموسكو.

ـ يهدّئ الصراع الذي فجّره في أذريبجان ويكتفي حالياً على حدّ وصفه بـ «الإنجاز الذي حققه في ناغورني كارباخ«، متوعّداً بالمزيد عندما تسنح الفرص.

بالخلاصة نرى أردوغان الآن في مرحلة مراجعة مواقفه بحثاً عن إجراءات متطورة من المشروع الغربي من اجل صياغة مشروع وسط في المنطقة يجمع العناصر الرئيسية للمشروع التركي العثماني الخاص والمشروع الأطلسي الأميركي، بحيث يحدّ من وجوه التناقض او التنافر بينهما ويمنع الاحتكاك او التناقض مع الغرب وبشكل لا يبقى مبرراً له لاتخاذ المواقف الحادة منه وصولاً الى فرض العقوبات الغربية على تركيا، كما حصل الآن. فهل ينجح أردوغان في سعيه هذا؟

قبل الإجابة نذكر بأنّ الحلف الأطلسي الذي أسّسته 12 دولة أوروبية وأميركية قبل تركيا فيه ليس حباً بها أو خدمة لها بل نتيجة إحساسه بأن تركيا تستطيع ان تقوم بوظيفة ودور أساسي في خدمة مهمة الحلف الدفاعية وأهدافه في وجه الاتحاد السوفياتي وأراد المؤسسون امتلاك قاعدة عسكرية متقدّمة تشكل جزءاً من الستار الحديديّ الذي اقامه الغرب في وجه الشيوعية، وبالتالي كانت عضوية تركيا في الحلف الأطلسي ناشئة من حاجة أطلسية لتركيا للقيام بدور وظيفي عملاني واستراتيجي، ولهذا جذب تركيا إليه كأول دولة بعد تأسيسه في العام 1949، وقبلها في عضويته في العام 1952 من أجل هذا الدور الوظيفي ولم يقبلها من أجل أن يمنحها فرصة منازعته النفوذ.

فتركيا في الأطلسي لخدمة أهداف الدفاع عن أوروبا أصلاً ولخدمة الأهداف الأميركية بعد تفكك الاتحاد السوفياتي حاضراً وليست من أجل استعادة الإمبراطورية العثمانية التي أسقطتها أوروبا، وعليه فانّ أيّ عمل او محاولة توحي بأنّ أردوغان يعمل في سبيل ذاك الهدف لن تلقى من أوروبا والأطلسي الا الرفض والمواجهة. فالغرب الذي قاسى الكثير من دولة بني عثمان لن يقبل بسهولة إعادة إحيائها بأيّ شكل وبأيّ صورة. وبالتالي لا مجال للمواءمة بين الطموح الأردوغاني والنزعة الغربية وهما أمران متناقضان. وهذا ما سيفرض على تركيا الاختيار بين التخلي عن مشروعها الخاص او التخلي عن التوجه غرباً، أما الجمع بين النقيضين فلن يكون ممكناً فأيّ خيار ستختار؟

* أستاذ جامعي – باحث استراتيجي.

فيديوات ذات صلة

Turkey and the West: confrontation or Taming?

Brigadier General Dr. Amin Mohammed Hatit*

Anyone who watches Turkey’s movement in the post-Election period finds that Erdogan is acting like he is in a race against time and wants to close files or gather papers as much as he can gather before the new governor of the U.S. White House, because Erdogan knows any connection to this ruler and knows the extent of the disparity between the Turkish private project he is working for and the Western project that the United States has been working on clearly since 2010 under the democratic rule of America and with Biden himself in the vice president’s seat.

Here we remember that when Erdogan rushed in 2011 to lead the terrorist aggression against Syria in implementation of an Atlantic plan led by the United States, he thought that the West and NATO to which he belonged delegated the rule of the region and the establishment or restoration of the former Ottoman Empire, which the European “Allies” had defeated and shared their property and areas of occupation in Western Asia in particular and the entire Middle East in the Western term.

Erdogan acted in Syria, and from it throughout the region since the outbreak of the Arab fire (the West calls it an Arab Spring) acted on the basis that he is the sultan of the future and with this mind turned on his strategic understandings and agreements with Syria and led the terrorist aggression against it. While Erdogan worked with the mentality of working to restore the Sultanate, the West wanted Erdogan to play the role of the spearhead and field commander to overthrow the axis of resistance and dismantle it from the Syrian gate, which forms the central fortress of this axis, a goal America needs in order to establish a unipolar world order and make up for the failure it suffered in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon.

On this basis, the global war that has targeted Syria since 2011 has been the subject of a divergence of views from both the Turkish and NATO sides, and was subject to a hidden conflict between two projects, a Turkish project led by the dreamer Erdogan to remove the effects of the defeat inflicted on the Ottomans in the first war, The Project Atlantic, led by the United States, is essential to stabilize the victory of the West in the two world wars, destroy the forces that are resistant to colonialism and western domination, and produce an environment to liquidate the Palestinian cause, and these two projects meet in Syria in particular on the goal of overthrowing the Syrian regime led by President Assad, but they are competing to varying degrees in more than one place and territory.

However, when Erdogan failed in Syria in the first wave of aggression against it in the context of what we called the “Strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood to control Syria”, He found himself vulnerable to withdrawing the Western mandate from it and transferring him to Saudi Arabia, which tried its luck with Syria in the context of what we called “Plan Bandar”, a plan that was no better luck than the Brotherhood plan, which ended in failure to push America to go straight to the field and establish a military alliance led by it after it made the justification and entered the third phase of the aggression against Syria and Iraq is the stage of ISIS.

Erdogan was not comfortable with the feeling that formed him as a result of the failure and the sense of western marginalization, and took the opportunity to reach out to him and joined the tri-Astana problem to address the Syrian situation on the ground, and saw that this gives him time to maneuver mercury and allows him to work more fluently to implement his own project in Syria and from there to spread it in the region away from western restrictions or restrictions. Erdogan has succeeded in investing his position in Astana to a large extent and despite the contrast with the other Poles Astana Iran and Russia on more than one subject, he has remained in a relationship with them that is not intimate but non-confrontational, a relationship he needs for his own project as we mentioned.

Erdogan, along with all those who worked with him in the East and the West, practiced a policy that was characterized by a volatile mercury master, so that he did not find himself obliged to fulfill a promise or to implement a contract or covenant and worked with the same kind of Machiavelli, considering that “the end justifies the means”. He thought that his “active intelligence” makes him achieve his goals without exposing him to any serious danger, i.e. he deceives the other and makes him give him and then shut up about not taking the opposite, believing that the other needs his friendship or at least not his enemies due to his position and influence in the strategic theater in which he moves.

However, things have now reached a point where Turkey’s partners in the joint files cannot be silent or managed by Turkey, which has made turkey’s previous victories or achievements vulnerable to rebuttal or collapse, and Erdogan has sensed the danger coming and felt the need for quick measures to fortify his situation and that’s why we see it now:

He returns to flirt with Europe from the German door after the lull with Greece to avoid a sharp confrontation with Europe after his relationship with France and Macron personally reached its lowest and worst levels, and he thinks that Germany, which has no Ambitions Middle Eastern at least at least at present will not have a competitor in his own project, and wants Europe now to be the backup back who compensates somewhat for the American brood that fears his cold ness and dryness with Biden.

He is quick to undermine the Kurdish separatist entity in northeastern Syria before Biden arrives at the White House, because he knows that Biden’s project there is based on the strategy of partition and the establishment of an independent or semi-independent Kurdish entity under the auspices of the United States of Zionism, which Erdogan fears because he sees it as an affront to Turkish national security.

It redeploys its forces in Idlib in a way that reduces its interference with the Syrian Arab Army on the lines of contact and effectively establishes the lines and fortified sites supported by fire to prevent any Syrian-Russian attempt to retake the area militarily after all attempts to retake it through the Astana platform and the Sochi and Moscow agreements.

The conflict he has triggered in Azerbaijan calms down and is now content with what he described as “the achievement he has achieved in Nagorno-Karabakh”, promising more when opportunities arise.

In summary, We see Erdogan now in the process of reviewing his positions in search of advanced procedures of the Western project in order to formulate a middle project in the region that brings together the main elements of the Turkish-Ottoman special project and the Atlantic project of the United States, so that reduces the faces of contradiction or disharmony between them and prevents friction or contradiction with the West and in a way that does not justify him to take sharp positions from him to the imposition of Western sanctions on Turkey, as has happened now. Does Erdogan succeed in his quest?

Before answering, we recall that the NATO alliance founded by 12 European and American countries before Turkey is not in love with it or service to it, but as a result of its sense that Turkey can play a function and a key role in the service of the alliance’s defence mission and objectives in the face of the Soviet Union and the founders wanted to have an advanced military base that forms part of the Iron Curtain established by the West in the face of communism Turkey’s membership in NATO was therefore arising from Turkey’s Atlantic need for a functional and strategic role, which attracted Turkey as the first country after its founding in 1949, and accepted it as a member in 1952 for this role and did not accept it in order to give it the opportunity to dispute its influence.

Erdogan Used 3000 Syrian Terrorists in the Nagorno Karabach Battles

 ARABI SOURI

Hamzat terrorist group north Syria - Erdogan Muslim Brotherhood Army - فرقة الحمزات الإرهابية

Erdogan sent at least three thousand Syrian terrorists to fight on the side of Azerbaijan in the battles of Nagorno Karabach against the Armenian army and the Artsakh defense army, reports reveal.

The Turkish madman Erdogan took advantage of the brainwashed mercenaries from the ‘armed Syrian opposition’ groups operating in northern Syria in his military adventures in Libya and now in the contested region of Artsakh – Nagorno Karabach. Hamzat, Sultan Murad Brigade, and Sultan Sulaiman Shah (Aamshat) were the main groups Erdogan recruited his cross-border mercenaries from.

Despite their sacrifice for their deity Erdogan, the Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists of the above-mentioned groups and the families of their killed and injured ones are still waiting for the balance of their pay.

Erdogan paid 10,000 Turkish Lira for each terrorist as a down payment in exchange for joining the fight in the Caucasian conflict he ignited, the balance was supposed to be paid later on, yet to be done. The families of the killed and injured terrorists, however, haven’t received their blood money until now, some of the ‘armed opposition’ propaganda outlets started reporting.

One of those media outlets reported that most of the casualties among the Syrian terrorists were from bombing by the Artsakh Defence Forces.

Terrorists 'media' reporting on Syrian mercenaries sent by Erdogan to Nagorno Karabakh
Terrorists ‘media’ reporting on Syrian mercenaries sent by Erdogan to Nagorno Karabakh

A report published by one of the ‘armed Syrian opposition’ organizations in early last November stated that two thousand mercenaries were transferred to the battlefields via Turkey in the second half of September, many of them were civilians with no military experience and have joined the fight because of the miserable living situation in the regions controlled by Erdogan forces, the Turkish Army and its Al Qaeda affiliated terrorist groups, in northern Syria.

One of the terrorists described to a media outlet how their movements were only at night in Azerbaijan. They’d arrive at the airport and immediately taken to a military academy by military buses and cars. They stayed in the academy for 4 days, handed over weapons, uniforms, and military badges with engraved numbers on them then were taken to a camp to join the fight.

The 25-years-old terrorist added that the Syrian mercenaries were sent to the battlefront for direct fighting and breaking into ‘enemy lines’ while the Azeri military was ‘a step behind’. This terrorist, who had earlier military experience killing Syrian civilians, complained that fighting in Karabach was very difficult, the terrain was rigid, they had to walk for long distances in mountain narrow strips to reach the battleground. Injured mercenaries were taken to a hospital in the Azeri capital Baku for treatment and were treated much better by the Azeris than how the Turks treated them, the terrorist concluded.

Erdogan propaganda outlets and his officials repeatedly denied using Syrian terrorists in the Sultan wannabe military adventures in both Libya and Karabach, despite the multiple reports by the terrorists themselves in both areas and even after the Armenian army arrested two of them during the battles and the Azeri and the Turks refused to include them in the prisoners’ exchange deal after the Russian-brokered ceasefire was established.

President Bashar Assad slammed Erdogan’s abuse of the living conditions of the Syrians in the regions under the Turkish occupation in the Turkish madman’s military adventures and in instigating the crisis in Nagorno Karabach:

The Iranian-Turkish Scandal Over Azerbaijan Is Just A Gigantic Misunderstanding

12 DECEMBER 2020

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

The Iranian-Turkish Scandal Over Azerbaijan Is Just A Gigantic Misunderstanding

President Erdogan’s recitation of a 19th-century Azeri nationalist poem during his attendance at Baku’s Victory Parade as his Azerbaijani counterpart’s guest of honor last week provoked harsh criticism from Iranian officials who regarded it as implying territorial claims on their country’s three northwestern provinces that form part of the historic Azerbaijan region (which also naturally includes the Republic of Azerbaijan), though the entire scandal is just a gigantic misunderstanding since it’s doubtful that the Turkish leader meant to convey any such intentions and simply wasn’t aware at the time of how negatively those words would be interpreted by the Iranian government.

The Aras River Poem

The Iranian-Turkish Strategic Partnership was rocked by a sudden scandal after Tehran strongly protested President Erdogan’s recitation of a 19th-century national Azeri nationalist poem during his attendance at Baku’s Victory Day parade as his Azerbaijani counterpart’s guest of honor last week. The controversial words that the Turkish leader uttered are as follows: “They separated the Aras River and filled it with rocks and rods. I will not be separated from you. They have separated us forcibly.” This poem has previously been used by some to imply territorial claims on Iran’s three northwestern provinces that form part of the historic Azerbaijan region, which was separated by the Aras River from what is nowadays the Republic of Azerbaijan (which forms the other half of that transnational region) as a result of Russian imperial conquests at the time.

Diplomatic Disagreements

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif swiftly responded on Twitter by writing that “Pres. Erdogan was not informed that what he ill-recited in Baku refers to the forcible separation of areas north of Aras from Iranian motherland. Didn’t he realize that he was undermining the sovereignty of the Republic of Azerbaijan? NO ONE can talk about OUR beloved Azerbaijan.” The Turkish Ambassador to Iran was then summoned to that country’s Foreign Ministry over President Erdogan’s comments, after which the Iranian Ambassador to Turkey was symmetrically summoned to that country’s Foreign Ministry to deny the allegations made against their leader and complain about Tehran tweeting about this misunderstanding instead of utilizing diplomatic channels to resolve it. The resultant scandal has predictably emboldened opponents of their strategic partnership to become more vocal.

The Iranian-Turkish Strategic Partnership

Objectively speaking, however, the entire issue seems to be a gigantic misunderstanding. It’s extremely unlikely that President Erdogan was aware of the negative historical connotation associated with that nationalist Azeri poem, exactly as Foreign Minister Zarif suggested, but at the same time, Tehran felt obligated to publicly oppose anything that can even remotely be misportrayed by those will ill intent as encouraging Azeri separatism in northwestern Iran. Iran and Turkey are closer nowadays than at any time in recent memory as a result of their geostrategic convergence on several issues of common interest across the so-called “Greater Middle East” such as Nagorno-Karabakh, Syria, and even Libya. It’s therefore unthinkable that President Erdogan would knowingly jeopardize this historic moment just to earn more applause during a parade in Baku.

Azerbaijan’s Regional Integration Proposal

It can’t be known for sure, but President Erdogan might have had his Azerbaijani counterpart’s visionary proposal for a regional integration platform in mind — which he likely would have been briefed about before his trip — when he made the decision to recite that poem during the parade. President Aliyev told reporters after his talks with President Erdogan shortly before the parade started that a new multilateral platform should be created in the region for all the relevant countries to join. The day after, President Erdogan told a Turkish TV channel that “Mr. Putin has a positive view on this idea”, which the Turkish leader also said could include Armenia, Georgia, and Iran as well. If this ambitious platform is successfully created, then the Aras River — among other borders — would naturally transform from a regional barrier into a bridge for regional integration.

Iranian Interests

There’s a pretty good chance that most — if not all — of the relevant countries will decide to join, with the only possible uncertainties between Armenia and Georgia, the first of which might still be sour about its nearly three-decade-long occupation force finally being kicked out of Nagorno-Karabakh while the latter might refuse to join any platform alongside Russia due to their dispute over the status of Abkahzia and South Ossetia (which Tbilisi claims as its own while Moscow recognizes both of them as independent). In any case, Iran has everything to gain by strengthening multilateral strategic relations with Azerbaijan, Russia, and Turkey, especially those with a security dimension such as thwarting any separatist plots of ultra-nationalist radicals in its northwestern provinces who might be influenced by hostile third parties like the US and “Israel”.

President Erdogan’s Optimistic Mindset

Having established the background context of President Erdogan’s controversial remarks, it therefore can’t be discounted that was simply assuming the future successful implementation of the regional integration proposal that President Aliyev had just publicly unveiled immediately prior to the military parade at which his guest of honor was invited to speak. In the Turkish leader’s mind, the nationalist aspirations embodied by that poem could finally be fulfilled through peaceful means as a result of creating a transnational community of peace and prosperity through closer regional integration between Azerbaijan and Iran alongside the other members such as Turkey, Russia, and possibly even Armenia and Georgia that could also join this initiative. Had he known how negatively Iran would have reacted to his words, however, then he might not have said them in hindsight.

Clarifying The Turkish Leader’s Comments

All that President Erdogan seemingly intended to convey was that the era of regional divisions has ended as a new era of regional integration emerges in its wake following Azerbaijan’s glorious military victory over Armenia. He certainly didn’t mean to imply that the Azerbaijan would set its sights on the historic Iranian region of the same name next, but just that the Aras River which has separated the transnational Azeri people for over one and a half centuries might soon transform from a regional barrier to a gateway for regional integration in the event that President Aliyev’s visionary proposal is successful. Having presumably been briefed about it ahead of time, he probably thought that his recitation of that nationalist Azeri poem would speak to the heartfelt aspirations of this divided people without realizing how negatively the Iranian state would react to it.

Hindsight Is 20/20

It’s for this reason that observers can remain optimistic about the prospects of the Iranian-Turkish Strategic Partnership and the larger regional integration goals that their leaders share since both governments will probably realize just how gigantic of a misunderstanding this entire scandal really is after finally speaking to one another about it behind closed doors. President Erdogan likely only had positive intentions in mind, yet Tehran wanted to make sure that no one with ill intent exploited his words, hence its very harsh public reaction to them. In hindsight, perhaps President Erdogan shouldn’t have recited that nationalist poem, the same as Foreign Minister Zarif should have resorted to traditional diplomatic channels to resolve the misunderstanding instead of going public with it, yet neither state representative meant any harm by what they did.

A Sad Misunderstanding

It’s all simply a sad misunderstanding where one well-intended action unwittingly led to another. After President Erdogan recited the nationalist Azeri poem, the Iranian government felt compelled to publicly respond in order to make its displeasure known and preemptively thwart any potentially forthcoming Balkanization attempts by hostile third parties such as the US and “Israel”. It’s regrettable how everything turned out considering the original intent since this scandal has overshadowed President Aliyev’s visionary regional integration proposal. Moreover, the opponents of the Iranian-Turkish Strategic Partnership in both countries and abroad have become more vocal over the past few days, which could set into motion a self-sustaining cycle of distrust among their friendly people if such views aren’t moderated as soon as possible.

Concluding Thoughts

Looking forward, it’s predicted that this scandal will soon pass and that the Iranian-Turkish Strategic Partnership will emerge even stronger as a result, especially if both countries join Azerbaijan’s proposed regional integration platform alongside Russia and perhaps even Armenia and Georgia as well in the best-case scenario. As it stands, all sides should accept that this scandal is just a gigantic misunderstanding and realize in hindsight what they should have done better. Under no circumstances must they submit to the sudden pressure upon them to weaken their newfound strategic partnership since that would only ultimately end up playing into their geopolitical enemies’ hands. The larger region needs closer integration at this historic moment, not a return to the era of distrust and Balkanization plots, which both leaderships seem to understand very well.

James Jeffrey’s Confessions: Syria is the gift that continues to give to us, we are in control of northeastern Syria. Erdogan retreats under threat (2) اعترافات جيمس جيفري: سورية الهديّة التي تستمرّ بالعطاء لنا نحن المسيطرون فعلياّ على شمال شرق سورية.. وأردوغان يتراجع تحت التهديد (2)

**Please scroll down for the English translation**

نضال حمادة

نستكمل الجزء الثاني والأخير من المقابلة التي أجراها المبعوث الأميركيّ الخاص السابق الى سورية جيفري جيمس مع «المونيتور».

يقول جيفري جيمس يجب الفصل بين أردوغان وتركيا، وستكون أكبر التحديات التي يواجهها بايدن هي الصين وروسيا وكوريا الشمالية وخطة العمل الشاملة المشتركة الإيرانية والمناخ. هؤلاء هم الخمسة الكبار. المرتبة السادسة هي تركيا، حيث إنّ تركيا لها تأثير مباشر على اثنين من المراكز الخمسة الأولى: إيران وروسيا، وهذا له تأثير على الإرهاب رقم ثمانية أو تسعة.

ويضيف: تركيا دولة مهمة للغاية في الناتو يقع رادار الناتو في قلب نظام الصواريخ المضادة للصواريخ الباليستية الذي يواجه إيران في تركيا. لدينا أصول عسكرية هائلة هناك. لا يمكننا فعلاً «القيام» بالشرق الأوسط أو المؤتمرات الحزبيّة أو البحر الأسود من دون تركيا. وتركيا خصم طبيعي لروسيا وإيران.

ويتابع: أردوغان مفكر كبير في أساليب الحكم. حيث يرى ما يجذب يتحرّك، الأمر الآخر بالنسبة لأردوغان هو أنه متعجرف للغاية ولا يمكن التنبّؤ بما يفعله، وببساطة لن يوافق على حلّ يربح فيه الجميع. ولكن عندما يكون في عجلة من أمره – وتفاوضت معه – فهو ممثل عقلانيّ..

لذا، إذا رأى بايدن العالم مثل الكثير منا الآن، منافسة قريبة من الأقران، تصبح تركيا مهمة للغاية. انظروا إلى ما فعله (أردوغان) للتوّ خلال ثمانية أشهر في إدلب وليبيا وناغورني كاراباخ. كانت روسيا أو الحلفاء الروس هم الخاسرون في الثلاثة.

يصف جيفري أردوغان فيقول: أردوغان لن يتراجع حتى تظهر له أسنانك، هذا ما فعلناه عندما تفاوضنا على وقف إطلاق النار في تشرين الأوّل/ أكتوبر 2019، كنا مستعدّين لسحق الاقتصاد التركي.

هذا ما فعله بوتين بعد إسقاط الطائرة الروسيّة لقد أرسل الروس الآن إشارات قوية مرتين إلى الأتراك في إدلب.

يجب أن تكون مستعداً، عندما يذهب أردوغان بعيداً، لقمعه حقاً والتأكد من أنه يفهم ذلك مسبقاً. الموقف التركيّ ليس صحيحاً أبداً بنسبة 100 %. لديهم منطق وحجج معينة من جانبهم. نظراً لدورهم كحليف مهمّ وحصن ضدّ إيران وروسيا، فإنّ الأمر متروك لنا على الأقلّ للاستماع إلى حججهم ومحاولة إيجاد حلول وسط.

حول رغبة ترامب في مغادرة القوات الأميركية المنطقة يقول جيمس جيفري: الرئيس غير مرتاح لوجودنا في سورية. كان منزعجاً جداً مما اعتبره حروباً لا نهاية لها. هذا شيء لا ينبغي أن ينتقد بسببه. أسقطنا الخلافة (داعش) ثم بقينا. ظلّ ترامب يسأل، «لماذا لدينا قوات هناك؟» ولم نعطه الإجابة الصحيحة.

إذا قال أحدهم، «الأمر كله يتعلق بالإيرانيين»، فربما كان سينجح. لكن الأشخاص الذين كانت مهمتهم معرفة سبب وجود القوات هم وزارة الدفاع. وقد أعطوا الإذن (من الكونغرس) لاستخدام القوة العسكريّة، نحن هنا لمحاربة الإرهابيين.»

أعتقد أنّ سبب سحب ترامب للقوات كان لأنه سئم من تقديم كلّ هذه التفسيرات لسبب وجودنا هناك. كان هناك وعد ضمني له: يا رئيس، لا شيء خطأ، نحن نعمل مع الأتراك، ونعمل مع الروس. ومن ثم يحصل على هذه الكوارث.

لم أبلغ الرئيس بذلك. لقد فعل بومبيو ذلك وقدّم له الحجة، وركز على إيران. لكن ترامب كان غير مرتاح لهذه القوى، وكان يثق بأردوغان. سيواصل أردوغان طرح هذه القضايا حول حزب العمال الكردستاني، وسيستجوب الرئيس الناس، ويجب أن يكونوا صادقين ويعترفوا». بالطبع، الأمر أكثر تعقيداً من ذلك. الحروب معقدة، ويضيف: لقد شرحنا الأسباب للرئيس لكنه يستمع أيضاً إلى أردوغان. أردوغان مقنع تماماً بالنسبة له.

في وزارة الخارجية، لم نكشف للرئيس عن عدد القوات في سورية. إنها ليست وظيفتنا. لم نحاول خداعه. لكننا كنا نعطيه أرقاماً أقلّ بكثير من الأرقام الفعليّة، لذلك عند التحدث إلى وسائل الإعلام والكونغرس، كان علينا توخي الحذر الشديد وتجنبها. بالإضافة إلى أنّ الأرقام كانت مضحكة. هل تحصي الحلفاء الذين لا يريدون الكشف عن هويتهم هناك؟ هل تشمل ثكنة التنف؟ هل تحسب أن وحدة برادلي تأتي وتذهب؟

كنا خجولين لأنّ الرئيس أعطى الأمر بالانسحاب ثلاث مرات. كانت الضغوط مستمرة والتهديد بسحب القوات من سورية. شعرنا بالضعف الشديد وربما شربنا القليل من الخوف لأنه كان يعني الكثير بالنسبة لنا. أتفهّم مخاوفه بشأن أفغانستان. لكن المهمة في سورية هي الهدية التي تستمرّ في العطاء. نحن وقوات سورية الديمقراطية ما زلنا القوة المهيمنة في شمال شرق سورية.

كان الأكراد يحاولون دائماً جعلنا نتظاهر بأننا سندافع عنهم ضد الجيش التركي. وحثوا قوة المهام المشتركة، على الرغم من اعتراضاتي، على البدء في إقامة نقاط استيطانيّة على طول الحدود التركيّة.

James Jeffrey’s Confessions: Syria is the gift that continues to give to us, we are in control of northeastern Syria. Erdogan retreats under threat (2)

Nidal Hamada

We complete the second and final part of the interview that former U.S. special envoy to Syria Jeffrey James gave to Al-Monitor.

Jeffrey James says Erdogan and Turkey must  be separated, and Biden’s biggest challenges will be China, Russia, North Korea, Iran’s JCPOA and climate.

“Turkey is a very important NATO country, and NATO’s radar is at the heart of the anti-ballistic missile system that confronts Iran in Turkey.” We have enormous military assets there. We can’t really “do” the Middle East, party conventions or the Black Sea without Turkey. Turkey is a natural opponent of Russia and Iran.

“Erdogan is a great thinker in governance.” Where he sees what attracts he moves, the other thing for Erdogan is that he is too arrogant and unpredictable as to what he is doing, and simply won’t agree to a win-win solution. But when he’s in a hurry, (and I negotiated with him), he’s a rational actor.

So, if Biden sees the world like so many of us now, a close-up competition, Turkey becomes very important.   

“Erdogan won’t back down until you show him your teeth, that’s what we did when we negotiated a ceasefire in October 2019, we were ready to crush the Turkish economy,” he said.

The Russians have now sent twice strong signals to the Turks in Idlib.

You must be prepared, when Erdogan goes away, to really suppress him and make sure that he understands it in advance. The Turkish position is never 100% true. They have certain logic and arguments on their part. Given their role as an important ally and bulwark against Iran and Russia, it is up to us at least to listen to their arguments and try to find compromises.

“The president is uncomfortable with our presence in Syria,” said James Jeffrey. He was very disturbed by what he considered endless wars. This is something that should not be criticized for it. We brought down the caliphate (ISIS) and then we stayed. Trump kept asking, “Why do we have troops there?” and we didn’t give him the right answer.

If someone said, “It’s all about the Iranians,” maybe it’s going to work. But the people whose job it was to find out why the troops were present was the Ministry of Defence. They have given permission (from Congress) to use military force, we are here to fight terrorists.”

I think the reason Trump pulled the troops out was because he’s tired of providing all of these explanations of why we’re there. There was an implicit to him: President, nothing is wrong, we are working with the Turks, we are working with the Russians. And then he gets these disasters.

I didn’t report it to the President. But Trump was uncomfortable with these forces, and he trusted Erdogan.

At the State Department, we have not disclosed to the President the number of troops in Syria. It’s not our job. We didn’t try to fool him.

We were shy because the president gave the order to withdraw three times. Pressure was continuing and the threat of withdrawing troops from Syria. We felt very weak and maybe even drunk a little fear because it meant so much to us. I understand his concerns about Afghanistan. But the task in Syria is the gift that continues to give. We and the Syrian Democratic Forces are still the dominant force in northeastern Syria.

The Kurds were always trying to make us pretend that we would defend them against the Turkish army. They urged the Joint Task Force, despite my objections, to start establishing outposts along the Turkish border.

James Jeffrey’s Confessions: We Destroyed the Syrian Pound and Prevented Russia, Iran and Assad from Feeling Victory (1) اعترافات جيمس جيفري: دمّرنا الليرة السوريّة ومنعنا روسيا وإيران والأسد من الشعور بالانتصار… (1)

James Jeffrey’s Confessions: We Destroyed the Syrian Pound and Prevented Russia, Iran and Assad from Feeling Victory (1)

Paris – Nidal Hamada

In a lengthy interview with The Monitor, former U.S. special envoy to Syria James Jeffrey made confessions about his country’s Syria policy, which can rightly be said to be the kind of scandal revealed by WikiLeaks documents.

James Jeffrey said: I convinced Secretary Pompeo of the USA administration that Iran should be treated as a nuclear problem like North Korea and that it represents a threat to security in the region, and we supported the Israeli air campaign against Iranian targets in Syria, we told them if you did not address the Iranian presence in Syria will not succeed in the war against ISIS, and we invoked the administration’s war against terrorism to justify the “Israeli” air campaign against Iranian targets in Syria, so we made a policy in Syria that is at the heart of our Iranian policy and the result was relatively successful, because we got a lot of Turkish assistance.

 Elsewhere, James Jeffrey says: “We have stepped up the pressure of siege and isolation on Assad, we have kept along the line to prevent any reconstruction assistance that the country needs, see what happened in the Syrian pound, you see what happened to the Syrian economy, it was a very useful strategy.”

 On the Iranian issue, he also says that “Iran’s ability in Syria to impose an equation similar to south Lebanon through long-range missiles stopped because of the Israeli air campaign, and the continuation of this campaign is due to The American diplomatic support and I will not enter into more details on the subject, we have stopped Iran’s long-term objectives and put its presence under pressure, but I do not know if it is enough to force it to leave Syria. I know that this is an important element for any broader agreement and no matter how much pain we attribute to the Russians, the regime in Syria and the Iranians, this will not disappear until Iran leaves Syria.”

He also said that Russia is winning politics and it knows that there is no military solution to the crisis, and we have clearly told them that we will lift the sanctions, and that Assad will return to the Arab League and will drop the diplomatic blockade if they accept our offer put by Pompeo in Sochi in 2019, they know what this offer is.”

(Part2: Turkey kurds and how were they lying to Trump?).

اعترافات جيمس جيفري: دمّرنا الليرة السوريّة ومنعنا روسيا وإيران والأسد من الشعور بالانتصار

باريس – نضال حمادة

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في مقابلة طويلة أجراها مع (ذي مونيتر) أدلى المبعوث الأميركي الخاص السابق الى سورية جيمس جيفري بكلام أشبه بالاعترافات حول سياسة بلاده في سورية، يمكن القول عنها بحق إنها من نوع الفضائح التي كشفتها وثائق «ويكيليكس».

قال جيمس جيفري: لقد أقنعت مع وزير الخارجية بومبيو أعضاء الإدارة الأميركية أنه يجب التعامل مع إيران على أنها مشكلة نوويّة على غرار كوريا الشمالية وأنها تمثل تهديداً للأمن في المنطقة، كما دعمنا الحملة الجوية «الإسرائيلية» ضدّ الأهداف الإيرانية في سورية، قلنا لهم إذا لم تعالجوا التواجد الإيراني في سورية فلن تنجحوا بالحرب ضدّ داعش، وتذرّعنا للإدارة بالحرب ضدّ الإرهاب لتبرير الحملة الجوية «الإسرائيلية» على أهداف إيرانية في سورية، هكذا صنعنا سياسة في سورية تدخل في صلب سياستنا الإيرانية العامة وكانت نتيجتها ناجحة نسبياً، لأننا حصلنا على الكثير من المساعدة التركية.

 في مكان آخر يقول جيمس جيفري: «لقد صعّدنا ضغوط الحصار والعزلة على الأسد، لقد حافظنا على طول الخط على منع أية مساعدة لإعادة الإعمار التي يحتاجها البلد، أرأيتم ماذا حلّ بالليرة السورية، أرأيتم ماذا حلّ بالاقتصاد السوري، لقد كانت استراتيجية مفيدة جداً».

 في الشأن الإيراني يقول أيضاً «إنّ قدرة إيران في سورية على فرض معادلة شبيهة بجنوب لبنان عبر صواريخ بعيدة المدى توقفت بسبب الحملة الجوية الإسرائيلية، ويعود استمرار هذه الحملة إلى الدعم الدبلوماسي الأميركي ولن أدخل بتفاصيل أكير عن الموضوع، لقد أوقفنا أهداف إيران البعيدة المدى ووضعنا وجودها تحت الضغط، لكن لا أعرف إذا كان كافياً حتى يجبرها على ترك سورية. أنا أعرف أن هذا عنصر مهمّ لأيّ اتفاق أوسع ومهما كان الألم الذي نسبّبه للروس وللنظام في سورية وللإيرانيين فهذا لن يختفي قبل مغادرة إيران لسورية».

قال أيضاً «إنّ روسيا تكسب بالسياسة وهي تعلم ان لا حلّ عسكرياً للأزمة، وقد قلنا لهم بشكل واضح إننا سوف نرفع العقوبات، وإنّ الأسد سوف يعود الى الجامعة العربية وسوف يسقط الحصار الدبلوماسي في حال قبلوا بعرضنا الذي طرحه بومبيو في سوتشي عام 2019، هم يعرفون ما هو هذا العرض».

(الجزء الثاني: تركيا الأكراد وكيف كانوا يكذبون على ترامب؟).

Turkey Making Ties With Israel

ERD3211

12.12.2020 

Author: Vladimir Odintsov

In recent years, one can more and more often find articles in various media about Turkey’s apparent desire to develop and strengthen its diverse ties with Israel. New Eastern Outlook has also repeatedly addressed the issue of assessing the current state of relations between the two countries, dealing with one issue in particular: Turkey and Israel: Enemies or Allies?

Relations between the two countries have developed in waves over the past decades, most notably sparking a crisis in 2010 after the Israelis shot and killed 10 Turkish activists who were trying to reach the shore on the Mavi Marmara in besieged Gaza in support of the Palestinians. Ultimately, in May 2018, Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador and recalled its own because of Israeli attacks on Gaza and the United States’ decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. At the same time, it is no secret that economic ties have been maintained, and among the construction companies engaged in building Jewish settlements on Palestinian territory since the 1990s, there are also Turkish companies, such as the Yılmazlar Construction Group, which renewed its relationship with Israel in 2002.

As for Israel, it sees Turkey as a country with important financial flows for it and as one of the centers of world trade, a key and strategically important place for its domination in the Middle East. This explains Tel Aviv’s moves to agree to secret contacts with Turkey, one of which was the recent communication between the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Service, Hakan Fidan, and Israeli officials as part of Turkey’s efforts to normalize relations. These latest contacts, according to sources, have involved, among other things, restoring ties between Turkey and Israel back to the envoy level.

As The Jerusalem Post notes in this regard, Turkey expects not only to show its friendly attitude towards Israel and the Jews, but also to get dividends in the eyes of Joe Biden’s administration. At the same time, the publication stresses that “this is a model that has been used before… However, it is still unclear whether Israel will pander to Turkey and ignore its support for Hamas.”

The other day there was another offer from Ankara to reconcile with Israel and end the lingering bilateral conflict. Cihat Yaycı, a retired admiral and political science professor who is close to Erdoğan, has published an article in the December issue of Turkeyscope, a monthly magazine of the Moshe Dayan Center of Tel Aviv University, proposing a solution to the maritime economic border between Israel and Turkey. He sees this, in particular, at the expense of reducing the interests of Cyprus, with which Ankara’s relations have recently seriously deteriorated against the background of Turkish expansion in the Eastern Mediterranean. It is true that in the comments to this article, the editor-in-chief of Turkeyscope, Dr. Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak, PhD in Oriental Studies, noted: “In order to raise the level of Israel’s relations with Turkey, in order to achieve a real normalization, it is necessary to restore mutual trust, for which, above all, it is necessary to return the envoys and consuls.”

The essence of the Turkish proposals is to establish a sea economic zone border between Turkey and Israel at the expense of Cyprus and, by redrawing the sea economic zones, to transfer a number of Cypriot blocks to Israel. In announcing these proposals, Ankara is trying to play on the fact that the border zones between Israel and Cyprus are still disputed, despite all the signed agreements. And since economic waters are concerned, where on the Cypriot side there is the Aphrodite gas field with 100 billion cubic meters of gas worth $9 billion, the new demarcation of the sea border is presented by Ankara as a very expensive gift to Tel Aviv, but only on one condition: Israel will only have business with Turkey and absolutely nothing with Cyprus, whose opinion does not interest Erdoğan in the slightest. At the same time, Ankara makes no secret of the fact that it, too, has “claims” to Cyprus, thus suggesting that Israel should conduct an “exchange of interests” by signing an agreement.

Admiral Cihat Yaycı also advises Israel not to build the expensive EastMed gas pipeline to Greece through Cyprus, but to connect to the Turkish pipeline for gas supplies to Europe, which is more practical and cheaper, clearly referring to the “Southern Gas Corridor” from Azerbaijan, which passes through Turkey.

It is worth noting that Turkey had already signed earlier a very similar agreement, only at the expense of Greece, with the Libyan government in Tripoli, which angered not only Athens, but also Brussels, Cairo and Tel Aviv. Moreover, it was the former Turkish admiral Cihat Yaycı, who suggested the idea of this agreement with Libya.

As the Israeli media commented on Yaycı’s proposal, this is the second time in the last four months that Ankara has used the energy sector in an attempt to negotiate a truce with Israel. The clearly targeted rapprochement on Turkey’s part is evidenced not only by the increasing frequency of contacts between representatives of the secret services of the two states, but also by the fact that Erdoğan himself has stopped his openly insulting attacks against Israel in recent months.

Regarding Israel’s proposed sea border agreement with Turkey, Israeli observers have already called it a “Turkish gambit,” in which Erdoğan intends to sacrifice another piece instead of a pawn… That piece being Cyprus, with which Israel has not yet agreed on a sea border.

Ankara’s proposed agreement on the mutually beneficial delimitation of the sea economic zone has so far been received rather negatively in Israeli expert circles. In particular, there is a clear warning that, if agreed on, it could pit Israel not only against Cyprus and Greece, but also against its new peace partner, the United Arab Emirates, whose formal ruler, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Zayed, recently signed a defense treaty with Greece. At the same time, it is not ruled out that tensions between the UAE and Erdoğan with his partners in Qatar could also lead to a serious conflict between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi.

Under these conditions, experts believe that Israel certainly will not accept Ankara’s proposed agreement and betrayal of its ally Cyprus, which, in turn, casts doubt on the “Turkish gambit’s” success. As for Turkey, Tel Aviv insists that it must first change its public attitude towards Israel, stop delegitimizing it in the eyes of the Turkish population, and end its relations with Hamas. In doing so, Israel shows that if Erdoğan follows through, the Jewish state will find ways to restore the formal, mutually beneficial relationship between the two countries that it had in the past.

Vladimir Odintsov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Russian Forces Blow Up a Terrorists’ Command Cave in Idlib Countryside

  ARABI SOURI

Russian forces engineers blow up a cave used by terrorists in Idlib

Russian forces engineers operating in Syria blew up a cave formerly used as a command center by the ‘Izzat Army’, a NATO-sponsored terrorist group, in the province of Idlib.

The cave in the city of Khan Sheikhoun in southern Idlib countryside was used by the ‘Izzat Army’ as their headquarters, ‘Izzat Army’ is one of the thousands of the Free Syrian Army umbrella of terrorist groups.

A video report by the Russian Military TV Zvezda aired footage showing the cave with long corridors that diverge into separate rooms; the total area of ​​the cave is not less than 1,000 square meters. To build it, they used technology, and all the dirty and hard work, as is customary among the radicals, was performed with the help of slave labor.

The video is also available on BitChute.https://www.bitchute.com/video/sURkgbb4kzJ7/

The terrorist group stuffed the cave with massive quantities of weapons, munition, food and medical supplies, and comfort means for sleeping and other things. The idea was by the terrorists to use this cave for a very long period of time avoiding aerial strikes by the Syrian and Russian air forces before they hastily fled the region when the Syrian armed forces with their allies advanced toward them, just like the terrorists in all other areas with their large numbers fleeing the battlefields when faced with the determined owners of the land, the Syrian Arab Army men and their allies.

Russian engineers blow up a cave used by terrorists in Idlib
The cave was so big an army truck could move easily inside it

It took the engineering units of the SAA and the Russian corps more than a month to clear the cave of all explosives planted in it by the terrorists.

The Syrian Arab Army and allies cleaned Khan Sheikhoun from NATO-sponsored terrorists and from the Turkish army personnel in August last year, 2019. The SAA and its allies were advancing further north to clean the rest of Idlib before halting their military operation after the Turkish madman Erdogan begged the Russian President Putin for a ceasefire and pledged to implement the Astana agreements and withdraw his forces (the Turkish army and Al Qaeda terrorists – Nusra Front ‘HTS’ and others) from the province without showing his people they were defeated by the Syrian forces. Erdogan, the hypocrite anti-Islamic Muslim Brotherhood he is, of course, is yet to fulfill his pledge to this date despite the withdrawal of some of his forces

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KURD RUNNER 2020

South Front

The situation in the northern Syrian provinces of Aleppo and al-Hasakah is once again escalating amid speculations on the upcoming Turkish advance in the area.

In recent weeks, the Turkish military and its proxies increased the intensity of strikes on positions of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and even on nearby positions of the Syrian Army along the contact line in the northeast of Syria. For example, on the evening of December 6, Turkish strikes hit a position of the Syrian Army near Tall Tamr destroying a BMP vehicle and reportedly injuring or killing several soldiers. Meanwhile, fighters affiliated with the SDF attacked a position of the Turkish Army near Bab al-Khayr. According to pro-Kurdish sources, 2 Turkish soldiers were allegedly killed or injured in the attack. On the same day, the Turkish military and its proxies launched over 150 artillery shells at targets near and inside the town of Ain Issa. The shelling that lasted for several hours reportedly killed at least one SDF member and injured several others.

The activity of Turkish forces near Ain Issa was permanently high in the last few months but in recent weeks the situation deteriorated even further. A nearby observation post of the Russian Military Police and a position of the Syrian Army did not stop the Turks from violating the ceasefire. In its own turn, pro-Ankara sources insist that the tensions in the region are a result of regular sabotage attacks by the SDF and affiliated Kurdish rebels near Ain Issa itself and in entire northern part of Syria in general. For example, Kurdish groups linked with the SDF regularly inflict casualties on Turkish forces and their proxies in Afrin.  While publicly the SDF pretends that it is not linked with these attacks, nobody with at least one brain cell believes in this.

The strong SDF links with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Kurdish separatist armed group that seeks to create an independent Kurdish state on the territory of southeastern Turkey, and if it is possible northern Iraq and northern Syria, also does not contribute to stability. Turkey sees the group as a vital threat to its national security. Recently, the SDF Commander-in-Chief Ferhat Abdi Şahin officially confirmed that at least 4,000 PKK members died in the battles in Syria fighting on the side of the SDF. Abdi, better known by his nom de guerre Mazloum Kobani, is himself a senior member of the PKK and a personal friend of the group’s leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been imprisoned in Turkey since 1999.

So, there is no surprise that Ankara sees claims of the United States leadership and SDF officials that the Kurdish-led group is not an offshoot of the PKK, but a ‘democratically-oriented multiethnic alliance’ as a bad joke and the highest level of hypocrisy. In these conditions, the fate of the SDF is predetermined and the group remains under the permanent threat of a large-scale Turkish military attack.

At the same time, the main backer of the SDF, the United States, has never hurried up to openly back the group against its own important ally in the Middle East and a member of NATO. Therefore, on the one hand, in its actions, the SDF relies on US support and has been consistently sabotaging Damascus’ proposals on the political and security reintegration into Syria. On the other hand, the Kurdish-led group has already lost a large part of the territories that it had controlled as a result of Turkish attacks.

This posture led to expected results and the last time the SDF even asked the Russians and the Syrian Army to rescue it from the Turkish advance in the northeast. The deployment of the Russian and Syrian units along the contact line put an end to Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring in 2019. Immediately after this, the Kurds turned their back on their rescuers and started cooperation with Washington in the field looting Syrian oil on the eastern bank of the Euphrates. Now, when the situation near Ain Issa is once again on the brink of military confrontation with Turkey, pro-SDF media have been crying and complaining about the alleged Russian demand to surrender the town to the Syrian Army to prevent the escalation. SDF sources call this ‘unfair’ and ‘unacceptable’.

It looks like that for the current Kurdish SDF leadership on Washington’s payroll it would be more acceptable to lose another chunk of territory and provoke a bloodbath than to finally normalize relations with Damascus.

CHICKEN KIEV MEETS COLD TURKEY: BLACK SEA AXIS EMERGES?

South Front

Written and produced by SF Team: J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson

On the face of it, an alliance between Turkey and Ukraine seems like a rather odd creation, yet one that may surprisingly durable simply because neither country has anywhere else to turn. What practically dooms them to a partnership if not an outright alliance is their unenviable geographic and geopolitical position of occupying the strange “no man’s land” between Russia, NATO, and the Middle East. It is, of course, largely a predicament of their own making. Ukraine, with considerable Western backing and encouragement but nevertheless mostly through efforts of a faction of its own oligarchy, opted out of the Russia-centered network of loose alliances, trade partnerships, and other forms of cooperation that were mutually beneficial to the two in the previous two decades. But that defection was not rewarded by the West in a way the likes of Poroshenko, Yatsenyuk, Avakov, Parubiy, and other architects of the Maidan coup expected. Merely being stridently anti-Russian did not prove enough to warrant a shower of US and European cash, only onerous IMF loans which moreover come with conditions Kiev elites are in no hurry to abide by. EU foreign policy chief Josef Borrel lecturing Kiev that the European Union is not an “ATM machine” delivered that point loud and clear: Kiev is supposed to privatize whatever crown jewels its economy still has (at this point, mainly agricultural land), fight corruption of its own elites and facilitate the corruption of Western elites. Joseph Robinette Biden Junior is hardly the only Western politician with a talentless son in need of a lucrative sinecure. There are entire Western companies eager to participate in the thinly disguised plunder that the privatization of Ukraine’s economy will inevitably turn into. A Kiev court’s recent decision to declare the country’s anti-corruption institutions that were painstakingly stood up with considerable aid and tutelage from Western governments, down to screening appropriately-minded individuals for the job, looks as if it were calculated to send a middle-finger gesture to Borrel in terms even dense EU bureaucratic hacks will comprehend. Pro-EU newspapers like Kiev Post were quick to label this a “death of democracy”, presumably with the intent of interesting EU and NATO in sponsoring yet another Maidan since last one seems not to be delivering the goods. The expected shower of Western weaponry has not materialized, probably because NATO is afraid to give Ukraine so much aid that it will risk a full-blown war with Russia.

Erdogan’s Turkey, by contrast, is in process of de-facto opting out of NATO, though neither Turkey nor the alliance itself want to take the final step of severing ties completely. NATO membership is still beneficial to Turkey. While the procurement of Russian S-400 air defense systems angered NATO and US in particular, resulting in the expulsion of Turkey from the F-35 program and the cancellation of F-35 sale to the country, evidently Ankara hopes that by nominally remaining in the alliance it limits NATO and EU sanctions that would no doubt be far harsher if it were totally out of the alliance. The hope that Turkey, possibly post-Erdogan, will yet see the error of its ways and return to the fold, prevents NATO from adopting harsher stances that would definitely push Ankara away. Yet the drifting apart is unmistakable, and the animosity between Turkey’s leaders and their Western European counterparts is so intense as to beggar belief. While Germany’s Merkel is careful to tip-toe around the issue due to fear of another wave of refugees as well as unrest among the large Turkish diaspora in Germany, France’s Macron seems to have taken a personal affront to Erdogan’s suggestion he might need a mental evaluation and will press the issue of EU sanctions against Turkey at future Union summits.

But from Turkey’s perspective, getting a cold shoulder from the EU is par for the course. Its own migration to the geopolitical gray zone of Eurasia was motivated by EU’s failure to admit Turkey as a member after decades of leading it by the nose and promising neighborhood in some nebulously distant future right after Hell froze over. Like Ukraine, Turkey was not seeking EU membership because of some mythical “shared values”. It, too, saw EU as an ATM machine that would shower Turkey, one of the poorest countries on the continent, with development assistance and moreover allow Turks to freely travel and work throughout the Union. Needless to say, neither of these prospects appealed to pretty much any European country, no matter how close or distant it was geographically. So after decades of leading Turkey by the nose, EU politely put an end to the charade citing problems with Turkey’s democracy. Thus snubbed, Erdogan opted to chart an independent course and appears to be finding a similarly snubbed oligarch clique in Kiev looking for ways the two countries could extract mutual benefit from their isolated status.

There are plenty of those to be had, as limited as Ukraine’s and Turkey’s resources are, compared to such patrons as EU, NATO, US. Faced with isolation and even a potential ban on arms exports, Turkey has a strong incentive to exploit the resources of the Ukrainian defense industry and engage in some export substitution in case vital supplies are no longer available from the West. Canada’s and Austria’s ban on exports of optronics and engines needed for the Bayraktar TB2 combat drones means Ukraine’s ability to provide substitutes would be most welcome. Ukraine, for its part, would not be against deploying a huge attack drone fleet of its own in the hopes of replicating Azerbaijan’s successful offensive against Nagorno-Karabakh on the Donbass, though there Ukraine’s drones would probably run afoul of Novorossiya’s air defenses in the same way Turkish drones were brought to heel over Idlib. Turkey’s Altay main battle tank is likewise little more than an assembly of components imported from other countries, particularly Germany. Since Germany has already placed a ban on export of powerpacks and transmissions for the Altay, Turkey has been casting about for replacements, looking as far as China. Whether Ukraine’s developments in this realm can be adopted to rescue the Altay project remain to be seen. However, the Oplot powerpacks and transmissions can probably be adapted to Altay use, resulting in Turkey realizing its goal of a home-grown MBT. Ultimately, the greater the contribution of Ukrainian defense industry to Turkey’s military modernization, the more freedom of action it would bestow on Turkey and make it less dependent on other foreign sources of military hardware who can exert influence over Turkey simply by withholding future technical support. If the United States were to follow up on the F-35 expulsion with a ban on servicing Turkish F-16s which form the mainstay of its airpower, the result would be crippling of the country’s air combat capabilities that drones cannot compensate for and which would be sorely missed in any confrontation with another comparable power like Greece. Turkey’s efforts to develop an indigenous fighter aircraft would benefit from Ukraine’s technological contributions and its own interest in indigenous aircraft designs. For Ukraine, the relationship would be an opportunity to acquire NATO-compatible weaponry with the caveat that it would have to pay in full for every last drone, either with cash or in kind. Turkey’s economic situation is not so strong as to allow largesse in the form of free military aid to anyone.

Mitigating against the long-term development of what Zelensky referred to as “strategic partnership” with Turkey is the erratic behavior of Erdogan who seeks to dominate any and all partners and tries to see how far he can push before the partners push back. This practice has led to the confrontations in Syria, Libya, and eastern Mediterranean. Ukraine, in contrast to Russia, France, and even Greece, is hardly in a position to push back. The most dangerous aspect of Turkish politics, from Ukraine’s perspective, is the ideology of Pan-Turkism that just might transform Ukraine’s Tatar community into a proxy force for Turkey right inside Ukraine, adding yet another fissure to the already fractured political picture. On the plus side, Erdogan does not appear interested in “combating corruption” in Ukraine, though that does not preclude the possibility Turkey’s military collaboration with Ukraine might not cost Ukraine dearly, though not to the same extent as EU-promoted privatization efforts.

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