South Front

Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring once again drew wide attention not only to the so-called Kurdish question, but also to attempts of Ankara to create a unified Syrian opposition as an alternative to the Assad government. According to official Turkish statements, the goal of the operation is to secure the southern Turkish border defeating “the terrorism” and allow up to 2 million of refugees to return to their homes. Nonetheless, there are no doubts that the operation, like previous military actions in the provinces of Aleppo, Lattakia and Idlib, will be used by Turkey to expand its own influence.

The Turkish-based Syrian Interim Government headquartered and Turkish-affiliated militant groups would be used as a tool of projecting Turkish military and political influence in the area. The Syrian National Army (SNA) are a brand of militant groups participating in the northeastern Syria offensive. Turkey’s Operations Olive Branch and Euphrates Shield demonstrated that the main goal of such groups is to serve as cannon folder on first line of the battle, while aircraft, battle tanks, artillery and special forces units of the Turkish Armed Forces do the main work. This allows Ankara to pretend that its actions in Syria are not military occupation, but a move needed to return the territory to the moderate Syrian opposition that opposes the ‘illegitimate regime’ of President Bashar al-Assad.

In the area of Greater Idlib, Turkish-backed factions formed the National Front for Liberation in May 2018, which was promoted as a moderate opposition coalition that would limit the influence of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other al-Qaeda-linked groups. Despite claiming to have 70,000 fighters (sic), the coalition immediately lost a struggle for power to its al-Qaeda counterparts and became a subordinate to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. In 2018 and 2019, groups from the National Front for Liberation repeatedly participated in al-Qaeda operations against the Syrian Army.

In northern Aleppo, Ankara was more successful because the SNA formed in December 2017 operates only in the Turkish Army area of operations and much more depends on the logistical and supply infrastructure created by Turkish special services. Since its creation, the SNA has included 30 groups with lofty names like the Army of Elite or the First Brigade Command and a very few trained personnel. Despite this, the formation, according to different estimates, includes from 15,000 to 25,000 fighters. Its members participated in Operation Olive Branch and successfully continued receiving salaries ($300-400 per month) after it. Now, they are involved in the operation in northeastern Syria.

Just a few days ahead of the start of Operation Peace Spring, Turkey attempted to unite the National Front for Liberation and the Syrian National Army. On October 4, the groups even released a statement claiming that they had merged. A few hours after the release, fierce clashes between the groups erupted over properties seized in the Afrin area. This put an end to the unification efforts at least for now.

Another problem is that the Turkish-based Syrian Interim Government and especially its Defense Ministry have no real influence on SNA detachments because it had no levers of influence over funds, weapons, ammunition or even orders that they receive. The full control over these sides of the SNA life allows Ankara to successfully manipulate them, when these groups are needed to some military action. At the same time, this approach undermines attempts to create a unified command to manage these groups because commanders of these groups are constantly engaged in an internal struggle for control over weapons and money flow from their Turkish backers.

This explains why immediately after the end of the active phase of Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch, the SNA dispersed into competing armed groups mostly concerned by looting properties in the seized areas and protecting racketeering of local business and markets. Therefore, the Turkey-controlled part of northern Syria was turned into a safe haven for drugs and weapons trafficking, and organized crime. Turkey’s iron hand once again turned competing gangs into a united force under the SNA brand for Operation Peace Spring. However, as soon as, the active phase of operation ends, the Turkish-controlled part of northeastern Syria will experience consequences similar to those faced by territories captured by Turkish-led forces in 2016-2018.

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U.S. Asks More Countries To Occupy Northeast Syria

February 06, 2019


Monday’s piece about the situation in Syria included a judgment that now seems to be wrong.

The Trump administration planned to replace U.S. troops in northeast Syria with those of various allies.

James Jeffrey, the neoconservative U.S. special envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition, thought up an elaborate scheme to ‘protect the Kurds’ and to secure the borders to Turkey with the help of allied troops.

Aaron Stein @aaronstein1 – 17:33 utc – 24 Jan 2019The Jeffrey plan being carried to Ankara/Rojava is very complex, requires open-ended commitments from UK-France, Turkish patrols in rural areas, SDF acquiescence, 3rd party forces, and US top cover, perhaps including a US enforced NFZ (unclear if POTUS is on board with this bit)

A week later the Wall Street Journal reported that the crazy scheme failed to win support from any of the relevant parties. The Kurds rejected it and Britain and France declined to send troops on a never ending mission between the waring Turkish and Kurdish sides.

The assertions that the scheme failed may have been premature. There are signs that it is still been worked on.

Today Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talked to foreign ministers and officials of the U.S. coalition against ISIS. He made a remark that seems to announce a request to these allies to send their troops to replace the U.S. forces in northeast Syria:

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday reassured allies that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria was not “the end of America’s fight” and called on them to recommit to permanently defeating Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

“Our mission is unwavering, but we need your help to accomplish it, just as we’ve had over the past months and years,” Pompeo said, “To that end, we ask that our coalition partners seriously and rapidly consider requests that will enable our efforts to continue.“Those requests are likely to come very soon,” he added, without elaborating.

Pompeo also wants (vid) the coalition to “removal of all Iranian led forces from Syria.” He also asked for hundreds of millions fro Iraq.

One of the participants of the meeting was the German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, a rather daft member of the formerly social democratic party. As he traveled to Washington DC he lamented (in German) about a “vacuum” that would be created when the U.S. troops withdraw (my translation):

Before his flight to Washington Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) said: “In Syria we still have no clarity how a vacuum can be avoided after the announced U.S. troop draw-down, so that no new escalation of old conflicts and a resurgence of the Islamic State can happen.” He hoped to receive more information on the issue during the talks in Washington. The danger from the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq “is by far not over.”

How come these politicians never learned physics? Northeast Syria is not closed off from the atmosphere or the surrounding lands. That makes a vacuum there impossible.

Former British ambassador to Syria Peter Ford offers a helpful Guide to Decoding the Doublespeak on Syria. It includes this entry:

Term: Vacuum. ‘The US will be leaving a vacuum when it pulls troops out’.
Meaning: Restoration of law and order. Once the US stops blocking the way the Syrian government will return to the currently US-controlled territory and will keep ISIS down, as it is doing in the rest of Syria, and Turkey out.

The tone of Maas’ remarks seems intended to prepare the German public for a military mission in northeast Syria.

Turkey had already rejected the idea of foreign troops on its southern border. Yesterday Erdogan felt the need to again emphasize it:

As Turkey prepared for a summit on Syria with Russia and Iran, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country wanted sole control over a proposed buffer zone in northern Syria, rejecting a plan by the United States for a multinational force to police the area.

The Wall Street Journal reported in January that Washington was trying to get Western partners, such as Australia, France and the United Kingdom, to patrol the stretch of Syrian territory along the Turkish border after US troops leave the area. Washington is concerned that Turkey will attack the YPG once US soldiers are withdrawn.In his speech, Erdogan said the US plan was not an option. “I repeat: Any proposal except a model for a safe zone under Turkish control, with other countries just providing logistical help, is unacceptable.”

He said there was no example for a safe zone successfully administered by “international powers.” The Turkish president said Turkish troops would be welcomed by locals in Syria: “They trust us.”

Nearly all population centers near the Turkish borders in northeast Syria have a Kurdish majority. The Kurds certainly do not trust Turkey. Erdogan wants to push the Kurds away from the Turkish border. He would then ‘resettle’ the Syrian refugees in Turkey in those areas. Most of the refugees are relatives of Turkish supported ‘rebels’ and aligned with Erdogan’s Islamist ideology.

Prewar map of ethnic majorities by town

Green=Kurd, Purple=Arab, Red=Turkmen, etc –
source – biggerThe U.S. idea of bringing in some other foreign troops to replace the U.S. contingent is unfortunately not dead. Pompeo announces new “requests”, Maas is playing up a “vacuum” and Erdogan feels the need to emphasize Turkish opposition to it.

Any foreign state would be crazy to commit to such a scheme. A deployment of troops there would be:

  • Illegal under international law,
  • against the will of the host country Syria,
  • against the will of the NATO member and neighbor Turkey,
  • in the midst of ethnic-religious conflicts,
  • without secure communication routes and
  • without a defined end.

The people benefiting from such a deployment would by the PKK/YPK Kurds that helped to defeat ISIS. But they are themselves an internationally recognized terrorist organization that should not be supported. The other party to benefit is Israel which historically uses the Kurds to undermine the sovereignty of Arab countries. A foreign troop deployment in northeast Syria would help Israel’s aim to keep Damascus weak.

The J. Jeffrey plan is a mess and should not have been given any thought at all. It is worrying that discussions about it still continue.

Posted by b on February 6, 2019 at 01:24 PM | Permalink

تركيا أردوغان تنفجّر ويرتدّ الخنجر المسموم إلى الصدر..

أغسطس 15, 2018

د. يحيى غدار

وصف الرئيس بشار الأسد أردوغان بالـ»أزعر»، وأطلقت غرفة صناعة حلب عليه لقب «لصّ حلب»، وهو سمّى نفسه عام 2004 بأنه وكيل الأميركي و»الإسرائيلي» في مشروع «الشرق الأوسط الكبير» لتفتيت العرب واحتراب المسلمين وإشاعة الفتن… وقد وصفه معلّمه، أربكان، بأنّه عميل الـ»سي أي آي»…

أعلن أردوغان عن أمله بأن يصلي في الجامع الأموي، وأن يضمّ حلب والموصل إلى «سلطنته» التي يحاول إعادة تصنيعها على قياس السلطنة العثمانية البائدة…

تورّط في التآمر على العرب حتى النخاع، في العراق، وفي سورية وفي ليبيا، وحيث توفّرت له الأسباب أو الرهانات والأوهام…

زجّت تركيا بكلّ قدراتها لتدمير سورية، بقصد احتلالها، واحتلّت مساحات واسعة من أرضها، وتحاول تتريكها والعبث ببنيتها الديموغرافية والسكانية، وتقوم بإسكان المسلّحين وعوائلهم بديلاً عن سكانها الاصليين…

أعدّ أردوغان خناجره المسمومة وطعن سورية في ظهرها، وانقلب على العلاقات الأخوية والودّية، وعلى الانفتاح الكبير بين السوق السورية والسوق التركية يوم صارت سورية معبر تركيا الى العرب والمسلمين وعموم الشرق لتعويضها عن انتكاساتها مع الاتحاد الاوروبي…

حفر أردوغان كلّ الحفر لأخيه السوري، وأعدّ كلّ السموم، وما زال يحشد عشرات الآلاف من المسلّحين من جيشه العثمانيّ ويعاند في حلب وريف حماة وإدلب، ويعبث محاولاً تخريب «أستانة» والتملّص من تعهّداته أمام الراعيين الروسي والإيراني المقاتلين بالسلاح والرجال الى جانب سورية…

لكن زمنه قد نفذ، وأوهامه كلها سقطت في سورية، وسورية تستعجل انتصارها وإلحاق هزيمة مذلّة بأردوغان وجيشه، وأدواته من المسلّحين الإرهابيين المنتمين لجماعات الإخوان المسلمين وداعش والنصرة، والجيش السوري قد أتمّ استعداداته لبدء الهجوم الشامل وتحرير كلّ شبر من سورية…

أردوغان، ما زال يمارس ألاعيبه البهلوانية، مفترضاً نفسه سلطاناً عثمانيّاً، وربما لم يدرك بعد أنّه يسوق تركيا إلى أخطر أزمة في تاريخها وأنه يأخذها في طريق الانهيار والتفكّك والحروب الأهليّة، فما خطّطه وسعى إليه في سورية يرتدّ عليه ويضع تركيا أمام مقصلة الأزمنة…

انهيار الليرة التركية، والأزمة الاقتصادية الجارية لا علاقة لها بالإجراءات الأميركية المُدانة والمرفوضة، فالاقتصاد التركيّ الذي أتمّ أردوغان وعائلته «لبرلته»، ونهب مدّخرات تركيا وبيع قطاعها العام بأبخس الأسعار، لتلميع معجزته الاقتصادية «الفقاعة» بالاستدانة، وإطلاق اقتصاد الاستهلاك والاستيراد بعكس ما كانته تركيا من دولة زراعية سياحية صناعية ناهضة… قد بلغت تلك السياسات ذروتها وبدأت تضرب الأزمة بعنف وعمق في النظام وآلياته وعناصره ومرتكزاته…

تركيا «أردوغان السلطان» بعد الانتخابات المبكرة، في طريق الانهيار المالي والاقتصادي والاجتماعي، وفي طريقها لتعميق أزماتها وانشقاقاتها العمودية، لا خيار لها إلا أن تطيح باكراً بأردوغان وحزبه، وتعود الى أصلها ومكانتها وقيمتها…

تركيا لمن يعرف بالاقتصاد والمال وللمتابعين هي اليوم على عتبة انهيار دراماتيكي شبيه بما جرى مع روسيا والأولغارشية عام 1998 وتقترب جداً من نموذج انهيار «النمور الآسيوية»، بل هي أشبه ما تكون بأزمة الأرجنتين وفيها كلّ أوجه الشبه مع ذلك النموذج…

قلناها من اليوم الأول هذه سورية، وهي نقطة توازن الاستراتيجيات العالمية، يُمنَع العبث بها، ومن زرع خناجره المسمومة في ظهرها، سترتدّ إليه الخناجر وفي صدره، وها هي سورية تفي بوعدها وتزيد…

أمين عام التجمع العربي والإسلامي لدعم خيار المقاومة

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The Kurds of Syria are at the crossroads أكراد سورية أمام المفترق

The Kurds of Syria are at the crossroads

Written by Nasser Kandil,

مايو 4, 2017

The Kurdish Democratic Union Party (KDP) faces the most difficult political moments since its presence in the Syrian war and after it succeeded in reserving a seat of power as a major player, away from accepting, refusing, or objecting the policies which it pursued, but this party which is affected by the ideas and the tendencies of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party which fights in Turkey defending for the rights of the Kurds has taken into consideration the public mood of the Kurds of Syria by seeing Turkey as an enemy and a power of occupation, it has refused to get involved in a deal that ensures a role for it as a secondary player in the militias run by Turkey and Saudi Arabia. So as a result of that it bore its being alienated away from the negotiation formulas in Geneva without losing its place in the field, on the contrary it succeeded in proposing the solicitations of the major countries in Moscow and Washington in particular, towards being the right hand of the Americans in the Syrian war, it granted them security military and strategic privileges in the areas of its dominance.

If some of the Kurdish leaderships in Syria as the leaderships of the Iraqi Kurds have suggested that the Americans will support the emergence of an independent Kurdish entity, but after the passage of fourteen years of the US occupation of Iraq without the implementation of that promise, then this proves to those Syrians who bet on the US position for the emergence of a Kurdish entity what is awaiting them, but the other Kurdish leaderships which are the majority are certain after their experiences with the Americans that the promises of the formation of an independent or federal entity are not real due to the presence of internal, regional and international Syrian complicated equations, that do not allow the thinking of those options just after having the US words, which the days proved that they are changeable. These leaderships just consider the fruitful outcome of the relationship with Washington through the prevention of the Turkish exclusiveness of the Kurds of Syria and making them a goal of their war in Syria after their failure in achieving the original goal which is the dominance on Syria and after their recognition of the red lines drawn by the Russian role. Therefore the Turkish-Kurdish conflict based on how Washington will draw its red lines and whether the Kurds will be included in these lines?

The Kurds presented to Washington whatever it wants, they granted it the geography on which they control, along with popular legitimacy for their intervention that allows them to claim that they are not an occupying force, according to the official Syrian discourse which gave them the legal legitimacy. The Kurdish militias fought against the Syrian army under US demand through driving it away from Al Hasaka, but they got the anger of the Syrian factions which share with them and will share with them throughout the years the future of the common living, so they were obliged to meet the requirements of the expansion of the US military geography to expand their political geography by force by including areas that do not include Kurds to the range of what they called the self-management, and their war on terrorism which was against ISIS and Al Nusra in the areas of their presence and which they modified its course to conform with the US agenda, so it was restricted with ISIS, including the areas which they will enter as a foreign force and maybe an occupying force under the title of the war in Raqqa . The Kurdish leaders have accepted to give concessions demanded by the Americans about their relation with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in order to be closer from the Turks, but the Turks have surprised them with the Turkish war against them under the US observation.

Today the Kurds of Syria stand in front of two different examples in their dealing; the US example which does not protect them when it is the hour of confrontation as has happened in Manbej, and before it in Jarablos And as what is happening today, in exchange of giving everything, and the example of the Syrian country which they abused and harmed, but it forgave them as happened in Manbej and is happening today by opening the road of Qamilshli –Damascus, but with the expansion of the Turkish battles against the Kurds, they are forced to stand at the crossroads either to accept the transition into a mere US tool, where the international and the regional interests game decide their fate, or to anticipate towards a national role, its essence and pivot is to stick to the Syrian identity,y and to be protected under Syrian national discourse  that stems from considering the Syrian country a homeland for all its sons, a reference for them and to consider the role of the Syrian army a ceiling for every security and military equation. Today no one asks the Democratic Union Party for a war on the Americans, but to be convinced of the danger of the transition into a US tool and to go step backward to say that there is no war on Raqqa without a full deterrence of the Turkish aggression.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

أكراد سورية أمام المفترق

ناصر قنديل

– يواجه حزب الاتحاد الديمقراطي الكردي أصعب لحظات سياسية منذ حضوره في الحرب السورية، وبعدما نجح في حجز مقعد قوة حاضرة ولاعب رئيسي، بمعزل عن قبول أو رفض أو الاعتراض على السياسات التي انتهجها، لكن هذا الحزب المتأثر بأفكار وتوجّهات حزب العمال الكردستاني الذي يقاتل في تركيا دفاعاً عن حقوق الأكراد، التقط المزاج العام لأكراد سورية بالنظر لتركيا كعدو وقوة احتلال، ورفض الدخول في صفقة تضمن له دور اللاعب الثانوي في الميليشيات التي تديرها تركيا والسعودية، وتحمّل بسبب ذلك إقصاءه عن صيغ التفاوض في جنيف، من دون أن يخسر مكانه في الميدان وينجح باستدراج عروض الدول الكبرى، في موسكو وواشنطن خصوصاً، وصولاً للتحوّل إلى الذراع الرئيسية للأميركيين في الحرب السورية، ومنحهم امتيازات أمنية وعسكرية استراتيجية في مناطق سيطرته.

– إذا كان بعض قيادات أكراد سورية قد اشترى الوهم ذاته الذي اشترته قيادات أكراد العراق من الأميركيين بدعم نشوء كيان كردي مستقل، فإنّ مرور أربعة عشر عاماً على الاحتلال الأميركي للعراق دون تنفيذ هذا الوعد تقول لهؤلاء السوريين المراهنين على الموقف الأميركي لقيام كيان كردي ماذا ينتظرهم، لكن بعض القيادات الكردية الأخرى، وهي الأغلبية باتت على يقين، بعد تجاربها مع الأميركيين، بأنّ وعود قيام كيان مستقلّ أو فدرالية، لا يمكن صرفها في الواقع مع وجود معادلات سورية داخلية وإقليمية ودولية معقدة لا تتيح استسهال التفكير بهذه الخيارات بمجرد الحصول على كلام أميركي أثبتت الأيام أنه عرضة للتبدّل مراراً. وتكتفي هذه القيادات باعتبار العائد المجزي لهذه العلاقة مع واشنطن هو منع الاستفراد التركي بأكراد سورية، وجعلهم هدفاً لحربهم في سورية، بعد فشلهم في تحقيق الهدف الأصلي وهو السيطرة على سورية، وتسليمهم بخطوط حمراء يرسمها الدور الروسي، ليصير النزاع التركي الكردي قائماً على كيف سترسم واشنطن خطها الأحمر، وهل سيكون الأكراد من ضمنه؟

– قدّم الأكراد للأميركيين كلّ ما يريدونه، فمنحوهم الجغرافيا التي يسيطرون عليها، ومعها شرعية شعبية لتدخّلهم، وتتيح لهم الادّعاء بأنهم ليسوا قوة احتلال، وفقاً للخطاب السوري الرسمي الذي يرفع عنهم غطاء الشرعية القانونية، وقاتلت الميليشيات الكردية ضدّ الجيش السوري بطلب أميركي، لإبعاده عن منطقة الحسكة، واشترى الأكراد غضب شرائح سورية تتشارك معهم وستتشارك على مرّ الأزمنة المقبلة مستقبل عيش واحد، فاضطروا لتبلية مقتضيات توسع الجغرافيا العسكرية الأميركية أن يوسّعوا جغرافيتهم السياسية عنوة، بضمّ مناطق ليس فيها أكراد لنطاق ما أسموه بالإدارة الذاتية، وحربهم على الإرهاب التي كانت ضدّ داعش والنصرة في مناطق حضورهم عدّلوا وجهتها لتنسجم مع الأجندة الأميركية، فحصرت بداعش، وصارت تشمل كلّ الحرب على داعش بما في ذلك في المناطق التي سيدخلونها كقوة غريبة وربما قوة احتلال كتصدّرهم عنوان الحرب في الرقة. ووصل قادة الأكراد لقبول تنازلات طلبها الأميركيون عن علاقتهم بحزب العمال الكردستاني تقرّباً للأتراك فجاءهم الجواب بفتح الحرب التركية عليهم تحت العيون الأميركية.

– يقف الأكراد في سورية اليوم أمام نموذجين مختلفين في معاملتهم، النموذج الأميركي الذي لا يقدّم لهم الحماية عندما تدقّ ساعة المواجهة كما حدث في منبج وقبلها جرابلس ويحدث اليوم، مقابل أنهم أعطوه كلّ شيء، ونموذج الدولة السورية التي نكّلوا بها وأساؤوا إليها فتسامحهم، وتمدّ اليد إليهم، كما حدث في منبج ويحدث اليوم بفتح طريق القامشلي إلى دمشق. ومع توسّع المعارك التركية ضدّ الأكراد ينطرح عليهم الوقوف على مفصل طرق، قبول التحوّل مجرد أداة أميركية لتقرّر لعبة المصالح الدولية والإقليمية مصيرهم، أو التطلع لدور وطني جوهره ومحوره التمسك بالهوية السورية والاحتماء بخطاب وطني سوري، ينطلق من اعتبار الدولة السورية حضناً لجميع أبنائها، ومرجعاً لهم، واعتبار دور الجيش السوري سقفاً لكلّ معادلة أمنية وعسكرية، ولا أحد يطلب اليوم من حزب الاتحاد الديمقراطي حرباً هوائية على الأميركيين، بل الاقتناع بخطورة التحوّل أداة أميركية، والاكتفاء بالعودة خطوة إلى الوراء تقول: لا حرب في الرقة بلا ردع شامل للعدوان التركي.


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Syrian War Report – March 29, 2017: March 28, 2017

dvance On Jirah Military Airbase

Voiceover by Harold Hoover

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the National Defense Forces (NDF) have recaptured the villages of Jubb Madi, Zakia, and Rasm al-Khamis ash-Sharqi from ISIS terrorists in the Deir Hafer plain in the northern province of Aleppo.

The important crossroad town of al-Mahdum is the next target of the government operation. Then, government forces will likely attempt to outflank the ISIS-held Jirah Military Airbase from the southern direction and to encircle it.

Heavy clashes continued in northern Hama with the joint militant forces attempting to capture the government stronghold of Hama.

The Ahrar al-Sham militant group announced that it had joined Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and its allies in their military effort aimed at capturing the Syrian government-controlled city of Hama. Ahrar al-Sham is the most powerful “opposition” group which is involved in the Turkish Euphrates Shield Operation in northern Syria. This is yet another confirmation that Ankara has once again changed attitude towards the Syrian conflict.

Moderate forces have captured Tel Dakwa from ISIS units in northeastern Suweida. This is the most recent in a series of advances by ‘moderate’ militants against ISIS in the area. Earlier this week, ISIS defenses collapsed in northeastern Suweida. As a result, Syrian government forces and ‘opposition’ forces gained large areas from the terrorist group.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have recaptured the villages of Mazrat, Sahl al Khashab, and Ayed Kebir from ISIS terrorists in the province of Raqqah. SDF units also advanced on ISIS positions at Yemamah and the Ayd hill.

Meanwhile, fresh photos of armoured vehicles supplied by the United States to the SDF appeared online. This confirmed that the US continues massive deliveries of arms, munitions, and equipment to strengthen their proxy force on the ground. SDF units will likely use the vehicles during the upcoming advance on the ISIS self-proclaimed capital of Raqqah.

Syrian War Report – March 28, 2017: ISIS Retreats From Northeastern Sweida

Voiceover by Harold Hoover

On March 27th, Syrian government forces launched a military operation against the ISIS terrorist group in northeastern Sweida. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the National Defense Forces (NDF) captured Al Masiydah, Al Asfar, Al-Saqiyah, Al-Janinah, Shinwan, and other sites in the area.

Meanwhile, the Free Syrian Army and allied elements continued their own advance against ISIS terrorists in the same area, recapturing the villages of Shunwan, Beir Al Awra, Beir Al Qunyat, Rajm, Al Dawla. According to reports, a majority of ISIS militants had withdrawn from the Sweida province to Deir Ezzor and Raqqah.

In northern Hama, the SAA and the NDF took control of Maazraf and Kafr Amim from the joint militant forces led by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). The sites had been controlled by Jaysh al-Izza and Abnaa al-Sham fighters that, in general, were less motivated than their counterparts from HTS. However, Jaysh al-Izza actively uses US-supplied TOW anti-tank guided missiles against the government military equipment and manpower inflicting notable damage and casualties. Intense clashes continued along the whole frontline in the area.

Rumors have been circulating that the Russian Air Force had stricken fighters of the Syrian Arab Army’s Tiger Forces near the government-held town of Qamhana in northern Hama. Allegedly, the Russian airstrikes resulted in the killing of 33 Tiger Forces members and the wounding of about 40 others. However, no photos or videos were provided from the site of the alleged airstrikes and independent local sources were not able to confirm that the incident had even taken place.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continued their advance west of Raqqah, aiming to take control of the town of Tabqa. The advance on the Tabqa dam resulted in no gains because of a threat to damage this strategic facility.

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The Turkish madness is electoral one الجنون التركي انتخابي

The Turkish madness is electoral one

مارس 16, 2017

Written by Nasser Kandil,

In the worst moments experienced by the administration of the Turkish President Recep Erdogan with Washington, and in the light of the developments of the events in the northern of Syria and the sticking of the US officials with the priority of their relation with the Kurds and the inability of Erdogan to understand that, for the second time the dilemma of the sense of greatness has been revealed as a barrier without realistic thinking in the Turkish ruling mentality. The issue according to the Americans neither related to the magnitude of the military capacity of the parties nor to the attitude toward the Turkish country and the keenness to ally with it.

Simply, Washington needs for a non-governmental Syrian party that grants it the legitimacy of deploying troops and experts and forming airports in Syria under the title of privacy that has magnitude of the realistic legitimacy and the ethnic or the national legitimacy, it needs for a party that responds to the US demands that is not loyal to any other country than America. In these two issues Turkey is like America it behaves like it toward the armed groups which affiliated to it, it wants from Washington to deal with it in order to get its legitimacy for the Turkish occupation that resembles the US occupation, even if the Turkish occupation was covered by a title of confronting the danger that threatens the security of Turkey, once under the pretext of the Kurds or the support of the armed factions that are loyal to Turkey. The pretext of the Americans remains the stronger in the war on ISIS and their coverage is more important through the relation with the Kurds.

The Turkish crisis occurs with Netherlands and Germany for the same reasons, the Turkish President and his government are waging a confrontation under what they consider a democratic right by communicating with the voters before the referendum, forgetting that he is talking about immigrants in another country, so what is presented by him is not to sign an agreement that allows the hosting country to organize electoral festivals and to receive the speakers from the two teams to identify the attitudes and to practice the choice, in favor of the resident communities, but it is an exclusive right of the representatives of the rule to mobilize their immigrants to vote for its favor. It is surprised to find the coming governments which want to hold elections and in respect of the privacy of the Turkish position toward the organizations of ISIS and Al Nusra and the issue of the refugees pave the way for Turkish governmental festivals that do not evoke campaigns of the extremist right, because Turkey does not see any law or logic but the one which helps it to be surprised for not dealing with its priorities, as the priorities of the others.

Politically, it is not possible to describe the Turkish anger along with the expressions and threats but only with the political madness for a frustrated country that lives the defeat and the isolation, and instead of absorbing what is surrounding its policies as complexities or making a review that allows drawing policies that commensurate with the variables it turns into a source of crises, that spreads anger and tension. This is the beginning of the tragic end of the countries which think that their size is protecting them. Previously, Turkey has experienced that with Russia, but the result was disastrous, and it has been forced to apologize, but the problem of the rule of Erdogan is that he wants to win in the referendum by provoking the Turkish feelings of the voters who live as their president the illusion of the sultanate and the arrogance of greatness, and whose their egos please the anger of the president and provoke them to vote for him according to the powers of the Sultan, but after the referendum he will leave the arrogance after he will send secretly to the Dutch government that “ I think that the crisis and the tension benefit both of us in the elections so we have to win together, in order to reconcile after the elections”.

Erdogan is a kind of the politicians who is aware how to deal with the game of the folk in the relation of the leader and the street’s people, its key is tickling the tribalism of the privacy and the greatness, then it is possible to fluctuate between the matter and its opposite without consideration or questioning. And thus the leader will be in an image that simulates the divinity over the change and its laws.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

الجنون التركي انتخابي

مارس 13, 2017

ناصر قنديل

في لحظات سيئة تعيشها إدارة الرئيس التركي رجب أردوغان مع واشنطن في ضوء مجريات أحداث شمال سورية وتمسّك المسؤولين الأميركيين بأولوية علاقتهم بالأكراد وعجز أردوغان عن استيعاب ذلك، تكشفت مرة أخرى معضلة الشعور بالعظمة كحاجز دون التفكير الواقعي في الذهنية التركية الحاكمة، فالمسألة عند الأميركيين ليست بحجم القدرة العسكرية للأطراف، ولا بالموقف من الدولة التركية والحرص على التحالف معها.

إنها ببساطة حاجة واشنطن لجهة غير حكومية سورية تمنحها شرعية نشر قوات وخبراء وإقامة مطارات في سورية، تحت عنوان خصوصية لها مقدار من الشرعية الواقعية والشرعية العرقية أو القومية، وجهة تأتمر بالأوامر الأميركية ولا تدين بالولاء لدولة غير أميركا. وفي هذين الشأنين تركيا كأميركا تفعل مثلها مع الجماعات المسلحة التابعة لها، وتريد من واشنطن أن تمرّ عبرها وأن تستمد شرعيتها من احتلال تركي يشبه الاحتلال الأميركي، ولو تغطّى الاحتلال التركي بعنوان مواجهة خطر على أمن تركيا مرة بذريعة الأكراد أو يدعم فصائل مسلّحة موالية لتركيا. تبقى ذريعة الأميركيين أقوى في الحرب على داعش، وغطاؤهم أهم بالعلاقة مع الأكراد.

تقع الأزمة التركية مع هولندا وألمانيا لأسباب مشابهة، فيخوض الرئيس التركي وحكومته مواجهة تحت ما يعتبره حقاً ديمقراطياً، بالتواصل مع الناخبين قبل الاستفتاء، ناسياً أنه يتحدّث عن مهاجرين في بلد آخر، وأن ما يعرضه ليس توقيع اتفاق تتيح بموجبه الدولة المضيفة للجاليات المقيمة تنظيم مهرجانات انتخابية واستقبال المتحدثين من الفريقين للتعرف على المواقف وممارسة الاختيار، بل حق حصري لممثلي الحكم بتعبئة مهاجريهم للتصويت لحساب خياراته. ويستغرب أن تجد الحكومات المقبلة على انتخابات في ذلك، ولخصوصية الموقف التركي من العلاقة بتنيظمَي داعش وجبهة النصرة، وقضية اللاجئين، في فتح الطريق لمهرجانات حكومية تركية ما يضرّ بها ويستثير عليها حملات من اليمين المتطرف، لأن الباب العالي لا يرى قانوناً ومنطقاً إلا الذي يساعده على الاستغراب لعدم التعامل مع أولوياته كأولويات للآخرين.

لا يمكن سياسياً توصيف الغضب التركي وما رافقه من تعابير وتهديدات إلا بالجنون السياسي لدولة محبطة، تعيش الهزيمة والعزلة وبدلاً من استيعاب ما يحيط بسياساتها من تعقيدات والانكباب على مراجعة تتيح رسم سياسات تتناسب مع المتغيرات تتحوّل مصدراً للأزمات، وتنشر حولها الغضب والتوتر. وهذه بداية نهاية مأساوية للدول التي تظن أن حجمها يحميها، فقد جرّبت تركيا سابقاً ذلك مع روسيا وكانت النتيجة كارثية واضطرت لكسر أنفها والعودة إلى الاعتذار، لكن مشكلة حكم أردوغان أنه يريد الفوز بالاستفتاء من موقع الاستثارة للمشاعر التركية لدى الناخبين الذين يعيشون مثل رئيسهم وهم السلطنة وعنجهية العظمة، ويرضي غرورهم غضب الرئيس ويستنهضهم للتصويت له بصلاحيات سلطان. وهو بعد الاستفتاء سيعود عن العنجهية بعد أن يرسل سراً للحكومة الهولندية، أظنّ أن الأزمة والتوتر يفيداننا معاً في الانتخابات وما علينا إلا الفوز معاً، لنتصالح بعد الانتخابات.

أردوغان نوع من السياسيين يدرك كيفية التعامل مع لعبة القطيع في علاقة الزعيم والشارع، ومفتاحها دغدغة عصبية الخصوصية والعظمة، وعندها يمكن التقلّب بين الشيء وضده من دون حساب ومساءلة، ويصير الزعيم في صورة تحاكي الألوهية فوق التغيير وقوانينه ويخلق الله من الشبه أربعين.

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The third Astana or the second Moscow talks? أستانة الثالث أم موسكو الثاني؟

The third Astana or the second Moscow talks?

مارس 16, 2017

Written by Nasser Kandil,

The first Moscow Meeting between Russia, Turkey and Iran and the statement issued at its end after the resolution of the control of the Syrian army and its allies on Aleppo and the exit of the militants supported by Turkey formed a take off point for Astana path which was based on a bilateral to cease-fire between the Syrian army and the armed groups supported by Turkey on one hand, and the continuation of the joining of these armed groups in the choice of the war on terrorism and the exit from the war against the Syrian country, moreover considering the separation between these factions and Al Nusra front the starting point in this path on the other hand. It was clear that what was so-called by Astana path is not a dialogue between the Syrian country and the opposition as what is going on in Geneva, but it is a framework granted by Russia and Iran to Turkey to reserve a seat for its groups in the poetical process from the gate of stopping their positioning behind Al Nusra front, and stopping the positioning of Turkey on the bank of the war on Syria after its failed experience in Aleppo.

It was known that any setback in Astana path means a regression in the role of the armed groups within the equations of the negotiation in Geneva on one hand, and a regression in the special status of Turkey in the Syrian political track on the other hand, so the alternative is the return to the field which turns the tip in favor of the Syrian army and its allies where the factions are positioning beside Al Nusra front. It was clear that what has happened since the Second Astana and the Fourth Geneva along with the bombings of Homs and the battles of Al-Bab, and later the bombing of Damascus and the tension about the entry to Manbej that the rules of Astana are changing. The armed factions stand with Al Nusra in the two bombings and stand in the political solution outside the priority of the war on terrorism, and the Turkish priority is as the priority of the groups affiliated to it, it is not the success of Astana path as planned, however, using its revenues for the political negotiation in Geneva on one hand, and the seeking to reserve a seat in the battle of Raqqa at the expense of the Kurds on the other hand, and if necessary a Turkish escalation against Iran to bribe America hoping to facilitate the Turkish task in Manbej and ignoring the commitments to Astana in order to leave the serious negotiation till the US anticipated position of the new administration becomes ready toward the cooperation with Russia.

Turkey lost the round of Manbej politically and militarily, as it lost the round of Aleppo. The Turkish President went to Moscow to renew the paths of cooperation after he had got the US disappointment, while the Syrian country went at the time of the coup on Astana to revive the settlements’ paths which end with the exit of the militants from the areas in which they cause harm to their people, most importantly Al Waer district. The armed groups have linked their going to the third Astana with a different settlement that relieves them in Al Waer district. The settlement in Al Waer district in Homs has passed; this settlement which was allocated to thousands of the militants and under the direct Russian sponsorship has been boycotted by them.

After all of what has happened Astana path needs a detailed assessment from its founders as the type of the Second Moscow talks before the hold of the third Astana. The Russian-Turkish-Iranian meeting has failed due to the Turkish political attacks against Iran and the Turkish coup on Moscow understandings, so the strengthening of Astana depends on reviving the understandings in the heart of the Russian-Turkish-Iranian tripartite, and when Turkey and its groups understand that there are no cards to play with. The settlements are continuing as the form of Al Waer district, and the resolving is continuing as in Qaboun and Daraa, while the forms of the cooperation with the Kurds crystallize in Manbej, the banks of the Euphrates, Deir Al Zour, and Hasaka. If Turkey and its groups do not have what they add to the engagement in a settlement that is based on the exit from the war on the country, and the joining in the war on terrorism as a beginning for the separation from Al Nusra front, and if Turkey does not have what to grant in that respect, then let everyone go in its way and reaps its consequences.

The absence of the armed groups from the third Astana turns it into second Moscow which is desired by Iran and Syria, and it is not objected by Russia after the Russian Turkish Summit to put the Turkish speech at stake, it does not matter that the meeting starts with the meeting of the sponsors and ends with the meeting of the parties after two days.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

مارس 14, 2017

ناصر قنديل

– شكل انعقاد لقاء موسكو الأول بين روسيا وتركيا وإيران والبيان الذي صدر بنهايته إثر حسم سيطرة الجيش السوري وحلفائه على حلب وخروج المسلحين المدعومين من تركيا منها، نقطة الانطلاق لمسار أستانة الذي قام على ثنائية وقف النار بين الجيش السوري والجماعات المسلحة المدعومة من تركيا من جهة، والسير بانضمام هذه الجماعات المسلحة في خيار الحرب على الإرهاب والخروج من الحرب مع الدولة السورية، واعتبار الفصل بين هذه الفصائل وجبهة النصرة نقطة البداية في هذا المسار. وكان واضحاً أن ما سُمّي بمسار أستانة ليس حواراً بين الدولة السورية والمعارضة كالذي يجري في جنيف، بل هو إطار تمنحه روسيا وإيران لتركيا لحجز مقعد لجماعاتها في العملية السياسية من بوابة وقف تموضعهم وراء جبهة النصرة، ووقف تموضع تركيا في ضفة الحرب على سورية بعد تجربتها الفاشلة في حلب.

– كان معلوماً أن أي انتكاسة في مسار أستانة تعني تراجعاً في دور الجماعات المسلحة ضمن معادلات التفاوض في جنيف من جهة، وتراجعاً في المكانة الخاصة لتركيا في المسار السياسي السوري من جهة أخرى، وأن البديل هو العودة للميدان الذي ترجح كفته بقوة لصالح الجيش السوري وحلفائه، حيث تتموضع الفصائل إلى جانب جبهة النصرة، وكان واضحاً أن ما جرى منذ انعقاد أستانة الثاني وجنيف الرابع وما رافقهما في تفجير حمص ومعارك الباب، ولاحقاً تفجير دمشق والتجاذب حول الدخول إلى منبج، أن قواعد أستانة تتغيّر، فالفصائل المسلحة تقف مع النصرة في التفجيرين، وتقف في الحل السياسي خارج أولوية الحرب على الإرهاب، وأن الأولوية التركية كما هي للجماعات التابعة لها ليست في إنجاح مسار أستانة، كما هو مرسوم، بل باستعمال عائداته للدخول على خط التفاوض السياسي في جنيف من جهة، والسعي لحجز مقعد في حرب الرقة على حساب الأكراد من جهة مقابلة، وإن اقتضى ذلك تصعيداً تركياً بوجه إيران لرشوة أميركا أملاً بتسهيل المهمة التركية في منبج، وإدارة الظهر للالتزامات المقطوعة في أستانة لترك التفاوض الجدي لحين نضج وتبلور الموقف الأميركي المرتبك مع الإدارة الجديدة تجاه التعاون مع روسيا.

– خسرت تركيا جولة منبج، بكل ما فيها سياسياً وعسكرياً، كما خسرت جولة حلب وذهب الرئيس التركي إلى موسكو بعدها لتجديد مسارات التعاون وهو يحمل خيبته الأميركية، بينما ذهبت الدولة السورية في وقت الانقلاب على أستانة لإنعاش مسارات التسويات التي تنتهي بخروج المسلحين من المناطق التي يتسببون بالأذى لسكانها ولمحيطها، وكان حي الوعر أهمها، وربطت الجماعات المسلحة ذهابها لأستانة الثالث بتسوية من نوع مختلف تريحها في حي الوعر، ومضت التسوية في حي الوعر بحمص، وتخصّ آلاف المسلحين وفي الوسط الأهم لسورية وبرعاية روسية مباشرة، فقاطعت الجماعات المسلحة.

– يحتاج مسار أستانة بعد كل الذي جرى لتقييم تفصيلي من مؤسسيه على نمط موسكو الثاني قبل انعقاد أستانة الثالث، فاللقاء الروسي التركي الإيراني سقط بالهجمات التركية السياسية ضد إيران وبالانقلاب التركي على تفاهمات موسكو، وتدعيم مسار أستانة يتوقف على إعادة إنعاش التفاهمات في قلب المثلث الروسي التركي الإيراني، وأن تفهّم تركيا وجماعاتها أن لا أوراق بأيديهم يلعبونها، فالتسويات تستمر بصيغة حي الوعر، والحسم يستمر بطريقة القابون ودرعا، والتعاون مع الأكراد تتبلور صيغه في منبج وضفاف الفرات ودير الزور والحسكة، فإن لم يكن لدى تركيا وجماعاتها ما يضيفونه للانخراط بتسوية تقوم على الخروج من الحرب على الدولة والانضمام للحرب على الإرهاب بداية من الفصل عن جبهة النصرة، وإن لم يكن لدى تركيا ما تقدّمه على هذا الصعيد، فليذهب كل في طريقه ويحصد نتائجها.

– غياب الجماعات المسلّحة عن استانة الثالث يحوّله إلى موسكو الثاني الذي تريده إيران وسورية، ولا تمانع به روسيا بعد القمة الروسية التركية لوضع الكلام التركي على المحك العملي، ولا مانع من أن يبدأ لقاء الرعاة وينتهي بلقاء الأطراف بعد يومين.

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