Kurds face stark options after US pullback

Forget an independent Kurdistan: They may have to do a deal with Damascus on sharing their area with Sunni Arab refugees

October 14, 2019

By Pepe Escobar : Posted with Permission

Kurds face stark options after US pullback

Forget an independent Kurdistan: They may have to do a deal with Damascus on sharing their area with Sunni Arab refugees

In the annals of bombastic Trump tweets, this one is simply astonishing: here we have a President of the United States, on the record, unmasking the whole $8-trillion intervention in the Middle East as an endless war based on a “false premise.” No wonder the Pentagon is not amused.
Trump’s tweet bisects the surreal geopolitical spectacle of Turkey attacking a 120-kilometer-long stretch of Syrian territory east of the Euphrates to essentially expel Syrian Kurds. Even after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cleared with Trump the terms of the Orwellian-named “Operation Peace Spring,” Ankara may now face the risk of US economic sanctions.

The predominant Western narrative credits the Syrian Democratic Forces, mostly Kurdish, for fighting and defeating Islamic State, also known as Daesh. The SDF is essentially a collection of mercenaries working for the Pentagon against Damascus. But many Syrian citizens argue that ISIS was in fact defeated by the Syrian Arab Army, Russian aerial and technical expertise plus advisers and special forces from Iran and Hezbollah.

As much as Ankara may regard the YPG Kurds – the “People’s protection units” – and the PKK as mere “terrorists” (in the PKK’s case aligned with Washington), Operation Peace Spring has in principle nothing to do with a massacre of Kurds.

Facts on the ground will reveal whether ethnic cleansing is inbuilt in the Turkish offensive. A century ago few Kurds lived in these parts, which were populated mostly by Arabs, Armenians and Assyrians. So this won’t qualify as ethnic cleansing on ancestral lands. But if the town of Afrin is anything to go by the consequences could be severe.

Into this heady mix, enter a possible, uneasy pacifier: Russia. Moscow previously encouraged the Syrian Kurds to talk to Damascus to prevent a Turkish campaign – to no avail. But Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov never gives up. He has now said: “Moscow will ask for the start of talks between Damascus and Ankara.” Diplomatic ties between Syria and Turkey have been severed for seven years now.

With Peace Spring rolling virtually unopposed, Kurdish Gen. Mazloum Kobani Abdi did raise the stakes, telling the Americans he will have to make a deal with Moscow for a no-fly zone to protect Kurdish towns and villages against the Turkish Armed Forces. Russian diplomats, off the record, say this is not going to happen. For Moscow, Peace Spring is regarded as “Turkey’s right to ensure its security,” in the words of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. As long as it does not turn into a humanitarian disaster.

No independent Kurdistan

From Washington’s perspective, everything happening in the volatile Iran-Iraq-Syria-Turkey spectrum is subject to two imperatives: 1) geopolitically, breaking what is regionally regarded as the axis of resistance: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Hezbollah; and 2) geostrategically, breaking the Chinese-led Belt and Road Initiative from being incorporated in both Iraq and Syria, not to mention Turkey.

When Erdogan remarked that the trilateral Ankara summit last month was “productive,” he was essentially saying that the Kurdish question was settled by an agreement among Russia, Turkey and Iran.

Diplomats confirmed that the Syrian Constitutional Committee will work hard towards implementing a federation – implying that the Kurds will have to go back to the Damascus fold. Tehran may even play a role to smooth things over, as Iranian Kurds have also become very active in the YPG command.

The bottom line: there will be no independent Kurdistan – as detailed in a map previously published by the Anadolu news agency.

From Ankara’s point of view, the objective of Operation Peace Spring follows what Erdogan had already announced to the Turkish Parliament – that is, organizing the repatriation of no fewer than two million Syrian refugees to a collection of villages and towns spread over a 30km-wide security zone supervised by the Turkish army.

Yet there has been no word about what happens to an extra, alleged 1.6 million refugees also in Turkey.

Kurdish threats to release control of 50 jails holding at least 11,000 ISIS/Daesh jihadis are just that. The same applies to the al-Hol detention camp, holding a staggering 80,000 ISIS family members. If let loose, these jihadis would go after the Kurds in a flash.

Veteran war correspondent and risk analyst Elijah Magnier provides an excellent summary of the Kurds’ wishful thinking, compared with the priorities of Damascus, Tehran and Moscow:

The Kurds have asked Damascus, in the presence of Russian and Iranian negotiators, to allow them to retain control over the very rich oil and gas fields they occupy in a bit less than a quarter of Syrian territory. Furthermore, the Kurds have asked that they be given full control of the enclave on the borders with Turkey without any Syrian Army presence or activity. Damascus doesn’t want to act as border control guards and would like to regain control of all Syrian territory. The Syrian government wants to end the accommodations the Kurds are offering to the US and Israel, similar to what happened with the Kurds of Iraq.

The options for the YPG Kurds are stark. They are slowly realizing they were used by the Pentagon as mercenaries. Either they become a part of the Syrian federation, giving up some autonomy and their hyper-nationalist dreams, or they will have to share the region they live in with at least two million Sunni Arab refugees relocated under Turkish Army protection.

The end of the dream is nigh. On Sunday, Moscow brokered a deal according to which the key, Kurdish-dominated border towns of Manbij and Kobane go back under the control of Damascus. So Turkish forces will have to back off, otherwise, they will be directly facing the Syrian Arab Army. The game-changing deal should be interpreted as the first step towards the whole of northeast Syria eventually reverting to state control.

The geopolitical bottom line does expose a serious rift within the Ankara agreement. Tehran and Moscow – not to mention Damascus – will not accept Turkish occupation of nearly a quarter of sovereign, energy-rich Syrian territory, replacing what was a de facto American occupation. Diplomats confirm Putin has repeatedly emphasized to Erdogan the imperative of Syrian territorial integrity. SANA’s Syrian news agency slammed Peace Spring as “an act of aggression.”

Which brings us to Idlib. Idlib is a poor, rural province crammed with ultra-hardcore Salafi jihadis – most linked in myriad levels with successive incarnations of Jabhat al-Nusra, or al-Qaeda in Syria. Eventually, Damascus, backed by Russian airpower, will clear what is in effect the Idlib cauldron, generating an extra wave of refugees. As much as he’s investing in his Syrian Kurdistan safe zone, what Erdogan is trying to prevent is an extra exodus of potentially 3.5 million mostly hardcore Sunnis to Turkey.

Turkish historian Cam Erimtan told me, as he argues in this essay, that it’s all about the clash between the post-Marxist “libertarian municipalism” of the Turkish-Syrian PKK/PYD/YPG/YPJ axis and the brand of Islam defended by Erdogan’s AKP party: “The heady fusion of Islamism and Turkish nationalism that has become the AKP’s hallmark and common currency in the New Turkey, results in the fact that as a social group the Kurds in Syria have now been universally identified as the enemies of Islam.” Thus, Erimtan adds, “the ‘Kurds’ have now taken the place of ‘Assad’ as providing a godless enemy that needs to be defeated next door.”

Geopolitically, the crucial point remains that Erdogan cannot afford to alienate Moscow for a series of strategic and economic reasons, ranging from the Turk Stream gas pipeline to Ankara’s interest in being an active node of the Belt & Road as well as the Eurasia Economic Union and becoming a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, all geared towards Eurasian integration.

‘Win-win’

And as Syria boils, Iraq simmers down.

Iraqi Kurdistan lives a world apart, and was not touched by the Iraqi protests, which were motivated by genuine grievances against the swamp of corrupt-to-the-core Baghdad politics. Subsequent hijacking for a specific geopolitical agenda was inevitable. The government says Iraqi security forces did not shoot at protesters. That was the work of snipers.

Gunmen in balaclavas did attack the offices of plenty of TV stations in Baghdad, destroying equipment and broadcast facilities. Additionally, Iraqi sources told me, armed groups targeted vital infrastructure, as in electricity grids and plants especially in Diwaniyah in the south. This would have plunged the whole of southern Iraq, all the way to Basra, into darkness, thus sparking more protests.

Pakistani analyst Hassan Abbas spent 12 days in Baghdad, Najaf and Karbala. He said heavily militarized police dealt with the protests, “opting for the use of force from the word go – a poor strategy.” He added: “There are 11 different law enforcement forces in Baghdad with various uniforms – coordination between them is extremely poor under normal circumstances.”

But most of all, Abbas stressed: “Many people I talked to in Karbala think this is the American response to the Iraqi tilt towards China.”

That totally fits with this comprehensive analysis.

Iraq did not follow the – illegal – Trump administration sanctions on Iran. In fact it continues to buy electricity from Iran. Baghdad finally opened the crucial Iraq-Syria border post of al-Qaem. Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi wants to buy S-400 missile systems from Russia.

He also explicitly declared Israel responsible for the bombing of five warehouses belonging to the Hashd al-Shaabi, the people mobilization units. And he not only rejected the Trump administration’s “deal of the century” between Israel and Palestine but also has been trying to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

And then there’s – what else? – China. On a state visit to Beijing on September 23, Mahdi clinched a proverbial win-win deal: plenty of oil supplies traded with investment in rebuilding infrastructure. And Iraq will be a certified Belt & Road node, with President Xi Jinping extolling a new “China-Iraq strategic partnership”. China is also looking to do post-reconstruction work in Syria to make it a key node in the New Silk Roads.

It ain’t over till the fat (Chinese) lady sings while doing deals. Meanwhile, Erdogan can always sing about sending 3.6 million refugees to Europe.

What’s happening is a quadruple win. The US performs a face saving withdrawal, which Trump can sell as avoiding a conflict with NATO alley Turkey. Turkey has the guarantee – by the Russians – that the Syrian Army will be in control of the Turkish-Syrian border. Russia prevents a war escalation and keeps the Russia-Iran-Turkey peace process alive.  And Syria will eventually regain control of its oilfields and the entire northeast.

Syrian War Report – October 11, 2019: Turkish Forces Storming Tell Abyad, Ras Al-Ayn

South

Since October 9, the Turkish Armed Forces and Turkish-backed militants have been developing a ground phase of their operation against Kurdish armed groups in northeastern Syria.

The main Turkish efforts were focused on the towns of Ras al-Ayn and Tell Abyad. Turkey-led forces captured several villages surrounding the towns and event entered Tell Abyad. Nonetheless, the situation in the area remains unstable. It is expected that the Syrian Democratic Forces, a brand used by mainstream media to describe the YPG and the YPJ, will be able to defend fortified urban areas until they are not encircled.

According to pro-Turkish sources, over 100 YPG/YPJ members were neutralized since the start of the operation. This number remains unconfirmed. Pro-Kurdish sources claim that the YPG was able to eliminate several pieces of Turkish military equipment and kill two dozens of Turkish proxies. These claims were also barely confirmed by any evidence. However, at least 17 civilians were injured in a mortar shelling that targeted the Turkish town of Ceylanpınar.

Syria’s state-run news agency SANA reported on October 10 that about 100 US troops had left northeastern Syria through the Semalka border crossing with Iraq. Taking into account that US President Donald Trump called Turkey’s operation a “bad idea”, but distanced himself from Kurdish forces because they did not help the US in World War II, it becomes more and more clear that the Turkish military action in the region is in fact coordinated with the US.

By this move, the Trump administration makes an important step to return confidence of its key ally in the eastern Mediterranean and, at the same time, delivers a blow to efforts of the Obama administration and the CIA that had contributed notable efforts in supporting the Kurdish project in northern Syria.

The possible rapprochement of the US and Turkey over the conflict in Syria will allow Washington to strengthen its campaign to limit influence of Iran and the Assad government in the war-torn country, as well as open additional opportunities for a revanche of the US military industrial complex on the Turkish market. This is a logical step in the framework of the national-oriented policy provided by the Trump administration.

The key question is how deep into Syria the Turkish military is planning to expand its Operation Peace Spring. Currently, pro-Turkish sources speculate about the possible creation of a 30km-deep corridor. If the US allows Turkey and Turkey appears to be capable of reaching this goal, Anakra will boost its role in the conflict even further and gain a wide range of options to influence its possible settlement. In this event, the Assad government will lost all the remaining chances to restore the territorial integrity and the Trump administration will get additional leverages of pressure on Iran, the Assad government and Russia in Syria.

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Kurdish SDF-Israeli Cooperation to Steal Syria’s Oil

Kurdish - Israeli cooperation to steal Syrian oil - SDF - Moti Kahana - Elham Ahmad

Kurdish SDF-Israeli Cooperation to Steal Syria’s Oil

 

In every strife look for the same suspects, the entire Syrian crisis was invented by the US to serve Israel, the Iraq invasion, Libya invasion, now the Yemen destruction, all to destroy the national armies that pose a threat to the Israeli expansion greed. The US is very much willing to exhaust its efforts, resources, and most importantly sacrifice its own citizens to serve that very goal. You can’t blame the US for that, it’s owned by a small cult that occupied all decision-making posts over a century of hard work, but you can definitely blame Israel.

The lastest of Israeli faithful servants to surface and expose their stink are the Kurds. Since the fifties of last centuries, and being a separatist group, the Kurdish militias forged close ties with the only party that benefits from the destruction of the real Semite people of the Levant, that is Israel. Now, the US-sponsored SDF separatist Kurdish militia serves only Israel in order to get support in creating its own Israel northeast of Syria.

The US and its lackeys’ sanctions against Syria amount to a total blockade against the oldest continuous civilization in the world, depriving the country not only from its own oil but also to import from any other international exporter, while the capable of exporting to Syria among its allies who can break the blockade, lacks the will to do so.

The following report sheds some light on the illicit cooperation between the Kurdish militia with Israel. It was before between ISIS and Israel through Zionist tool Erdogan of Turkey, and now these Kurds.

Video report by Dima Nassif, head of Damascus office of Lebanese news channel Al-Mayadeen with English translation, transcript of the English translation below the video:

Video also available on BitChute: https://www.bitchute.com/video/fwt2mLd1A4gg/

Transcript of the English translation of the video on Kurdish – Israeli cooperation to steal Syrian oil under the US protection:

The leaks that talked about the Israeli – Kurd cooperation to sell Syrian oil and invest in it, in order to deprive Damascus of its oil and confirmed by Israeli businessman Moti Kahana opens the door to shed the light on the intelligence and military cooperation began with the beginning of the Syrian war; Dima Nassif:

Image result for Ilham Ahmed, the joint president of the Syrian Democratic Council

Traitor Ilham Ahmed

Moti Kahana, the godfather of cooperation with the militants of Quneitra since 2014 and owner of the Israeli Amaya Foundation, which promoted the buffer zone in the south of Syria as a prelude for its annexation to the occupied territories. Kahana again for the northern oil and cooperation with the Kurds.

The Israeli businessman confirmed despite the denial of the Kurds what was leaked by a journalist about the correspondence between him and Ilham Ahmed, the joint president of the Syrian Democratic Council, to represent the Kurds in selling Syrian oil, which the SDF occupies 80% of its fields.

But Kahana is only the tip of the iceberg in the Israeli-Kurdish cooperation that began years ago during the Syrian war in the context of historical relations between Tel Aviv and some leaders in the Kurdistan region of Iraq since the end of the fifties of the last century.

A photo of the leader of the SDF factions Mazloum Abdi with the leader of the PKK Rustam Judy in the Kandil mountains in 2010.

Military leaders of the PYD came from the Kandil mountains of Iraq to lead the Kurds’ battles against ISIS and to establish their project in northern Syria with American and seems with Israeli support as well.

The Israeli Channel 11 correspondent in Al-Baghouz and in Qamishli is touring near the Syrian security headquarters, normalization is also in the media.

Al-Maydeen sources talked about the role of Tel Aviv in the arrangement of meetings of the Kurds leaders in Paris and Washington and at the United Nations itself, which was visited by Mazloum Abdi leader of SDF factions and leader of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization.

Sources confirmed that SDF disabled the functions of government technicians located in Rumailan and Shaddadi fields in the countryside of Hasakeh in exchange for the entry of workshops from its side for the first time to those fields, in addition to the fields of al-Omar and Aljafra and Koniko in Deir Ezzor countryside for rehabilitation in preparation for Israeli expansion of production and investment in it.

The scandal of contracting with Israel pushed the Kurds to issue a statement of denial, while Al-Mayadeen sources confirmed that a decision to exempt Elham Ahmed from her post was taken two months ago, but the Kurdish self-government has committed the forbidden and hence cut the last straw with Damascus, which, in turn, has not officially commented until now.

Dima Nassif – Damascus, Al-Mayadeen

End of the transcript of the English translation.

النص باللغة العربية لتقرير ديمة ناصيف عن التعاون الكردي الاسرائيلي لسرقة النفط السوري

التسريبات التي تحدثت عن تعاون كردي إسرائيلي لبيع النفط السوري واستثماره بهدف حرمان دمشق نفطها وأكدها رجل الأعمال الإسرائيلي موتي كاهانا تفتح الباب أمام الإضاءة على تعاون استخباراتي وعسكري بدأ مع بداية الحرب السورية، ديمة ناصيف:

موتي كاهانا عرّاب التعاون مع مسلحي القنيطرة منذ عام 2014 وصاحب مؤسسة أمايا الإسرائيلية التي روجت للمنطقة العازلة في الجنوب السوري تمهيداً لضمها إلى الأراضي المحتلة. كاهانا من جديد من أجل نفط الشمال والتعاون مع الكرد.

رجل الأعمال الإسرائيلي أكد رغم نفي الكرد ما تم تسريبه صحفياً بوجود مراسلات بينه وبين إلهام أحمد الرئيسة المشتركة لمجلس سورية الديمقراطية لتمكين الكرد من بيع النفط السوري الذي تسيطر قسد على 80% من حقوله.

لكن كاهانا ليس سوى رأس جبل الجليد في التعاون الإسرائيلي الكردي الذي بدأ قبل سنوات خلال الحرب السورية في سياق العلاقات التاريخية بين تل أبيب وبعض القادة في إقليم كردستان العراق منذ نهاية خمسينيات القرن الماضي.

صورة تجمع قائد فصائل قسد مظلوم عبدي مع القيادي في ال PKK  رستم جودي في جبال قنديل عام 2010. قيادات عسكرية لل PYD  جاءت من جبال قنديل العراقية لتقود معارك الكرد ضد داعش وتؤسس لمشروعهم شمال سورية بدعم أمريكي، ويبدو أنه إسرائيلي أيضاً.

مراسل قناة ال 11 الإسرائيلية في الباغوز والقامشلي يتجول قرب المقار الأمنية السورية، التطبيع إعلامي أيضاً.

مصادر للميادين تحدثت عن دور لتل أبيب في ترتيب لقاءات لقادة كرد في باريس وواشنطن وفي مقر الأمم المتحدة نفسها التي زارها مظلوم عبدي قائد فصائل قسد والقيادي في حزب العمال الكردستاني المصنف إرهابياً. المصادر أكدت أن قسد عطلت مهام الفنيين الحكوميين الموجودين في حقول الرميلان والشدادي في ريف الحسكة مقابل دخول ورشات من قبلها للمرة الأولى إلى تلك الحقول، بالإضافة إلى حقول العمر والجفرة وكونيكو بريف دير الزور لتأهيلها تمهيداً لتوسيع الإنتاج والاستثمار الإسرائيلي فيها.

فضيحة التعاقد مع إسرائيل دفعت الكرد إلى إصدار بيان نفي فيما أكدت مصادر للميادين بأن قراراً بإعفاء إلهام أحمد من منصبها اتخذ قبل شهرين، لكن الإدارة الذاتية الكردية وقعت بالمحظور وقطعت آخر شعرة مع دمشق التي لم تعلق رسمياً حتى الآن.

ديمة ناصيف – دمشق، الميادين

End of Arabic transcript of the video report

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Syrian War Report – September 5, 2018: Israel Carries Out New Strike As Idlib Battle Looms

South Front

On September 4, Israel carried out a strike on targets in the provinces of Tartus and Hama, according to the Syrian state media. The Syrian Air Defense Forces intercepted at least five missiles. However, the rest of them hit a target in the area of Masyaf in the Hama countryside.

Pro-Israeli sources described the target as an Iranian weapons depot. However, no visual confirmation to confirm this claim was provided. According to the news agency SANA, at least one person was killed and 12 others were injured as a result of the attack. No further details were revealed.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military announced that it has carried out over 200 strikes on Iranian targets in Syria over the past year.

The September 4 Israeli strike came on the same day when the Syrian Air Fore increased number of airstrikes on terrorist targets – mostly Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) and the Turkistan Islamic Party – in southern and southwestern Idlib. According to different sources, about 30-60 strikes were carried out. Pro-militant sources also claimed that the Russian Aerospace Forces were involved.

Earlier, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said that US threats to strike the war-torn country will not halt the liberation of Idlib.

“The intended aggression won’t affect our people’s morale nor will it sway our military plans to liberate Idlib,” Muallem told the Russian state media. “This is not the first time that the United States, Great Britain and France have cooked up a scheme for a chemical weapons incident,” he added.

Separately, the Syrian Foreign Ministry accused the US and its allies of supplying terrorists with weapons through Eastern European countries and the Balkan countries.

“It is obvious that the United States and its allies are supplying a huge amount of ammunition and weapons, using third countries such as the Eastern European countries, Ukraine, and the Balkan states, to fuel the Nusra Front [also known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham] and Daesh [ISIS],” Alaa Saeed Din Hamdan, the first secretary of the Syrian Foreign Ministry’s international relations department, said.

On September 7, Iranian, Turkey and Russian presidents will meet for new high level talks in Teheran. According to the Kremlin, the situation in Idlib will be among the key topics of the Syrian agenda.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) released a statement claiming that it had captured a key ISIS member responsible for the terrorist group’s intelligence activities in Raqqa, Aleppo, Hama and other areas.

Abu Kerem (real name Adil Musa Abdouljezar) was allegedly captured by the YPG’s Anti-Terror Units on August 11. The YPG also claimed that the captured terrorist had “provided a lot of important information about ISIS and how it has been strengthened and bolstered by the Turkish state.”

The YPG and its political wing, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), often accuse Turkey of war crimes and supporting terrorists. In turn, Ankara describes the YPG and the PYD as terrorist organizations, local affiliates of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

 

Syrian Army Discovers More US-Supplied Weapons In Southern Al-Quneitra (Photos)

On September 5, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) uncovered several weapons caches, which had been left behind by militants, during a search operation in the southern al-Quneitra countryside, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).

The weapons caches included several rounds of the US-made SMAW shoulder-launched rocket weapon, one US-supplies Fagot anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), one launcher of Chines-made HJ-73c ATGM, a 107mm rocket launcher, two SPG-9 73mm recoilless guns, dozens of light machine guns and several night vision binoculars.

Syrian Army Discovers More US-Supplied Weapons In Southern Al-Quneitra (Photos)

Click to see full-size image, By SANA

Syrian Army Discovers More US-Supplied Weapons In Southern Al-Quneitra (Photos)

Click to see full-size image, By SANA

Syrian Army Discovers More US-Supplied Weapons In Southern Al-Quneitra (Photos)

Click to see full-size image, By SANA

Syrian Army Discovers More US-Supplied Weapons In Southern Al-Quneitra (Photos)

Click to see full-size image, By SANA

The SANA’s reporter in al-Quneitra said that the SAA also found several medical equipment of the Western-backed “White Helmets” organization.

Last week, the SAA discovered a large ammo depot of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in the town of Jubata al-Khashab in al-Quneitra during a similar search operation.

The SAA restored control of opposition-held areas in al-Quneitra after a successful military operation that ended on July 31. As a result of the operation most of the local fighters in the southern governorate joined the reconciliation process, while the rest opted  to withdraw towards northern Syria.

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Syrian War Report – March 28, 2018: Tiger Forces To Storm Douma If Deal Not Reached

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On March 27, the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) started a push to capture the city of Tell Rifaat, located southeast of the city of Afrin in northern Syria.

When Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch started on January 20, a force led by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) controlled Tell Rifaat. Later, the YPG shared control of the Tell Rifaat countryside with the National Defense Forces – a pro-government militia integrated within the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).

According to pro-Turkish sources, by March 28, the TAF and the FSA had established control of Tell Rifaat, Minagh Air Base and Sheikh Isa. The villages of Deir Jamal, Kafranya and Sheikh Hilal had reportedly remained contested.

No clashes have been reported in the area. If this is true, Turkey and the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance have likely reached a kind of behind the scenes deal handing over control of Tell Rifaat and its countryside to Ankara and its proxies. Earlier, Turkish top officials claimed that the military operation in Afrin will be finished only after the seizure of Tell Rifaat.

However, pro-YPG sources deny that the TAF is now in control of Tell Rifaat. The situation is unclear.

The SAA and the Tiger Forces are preparing to storm the town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta as negotiations between the government and Jaish al-Islam, which controls the area, have shown a lack of progress over the last few days. According to pro-government sources, the operation may be stated soon if a reconciliation deal is not reached.

Earlier, the rest of the militant-held area of Eastern Ghouta was liberated by government troops by force and through a series of reconciliation deals. The deals allowed local militants to withdraw towards Idlib without heavy weapons or to settle their legal status under the Damascus governance.

The US is building a military base in the vicinity of the country’s largest oil field – the Omar oil field, Mehdi Kobani, a press secretary of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Deir Ezzor told Sputnik Turkiye on March 27.

“The US is building a large military base in the oil-rich Al Omar region of Deir ez-Zor province. Due to security concerns we cannot provide information about the acreage of this new installation. There is currently construction machinery working in the vicinity of the base, and security is being provided by SDF forces,” Kobani said.

First reports about the US military installation in the Omar oil field area appeared in the middle of March. Now, the SDF de-facto confirmed that its patron continues efforts to continue the occupation of eastern Syria.

Locals have started a series of protests in the village of Al-Mansoura in the province of Raqqah. The tensions reportedly erupted after the SDF arrested a leader of the local Arab tribe.

The SDF is a de-facto Kurdish-dominated group, controlled by the YPG and its political wing – the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The PYD and PYD-linked “security forces” are actively working to establish their own rule in the SDF-held areas. These efforts are causing tensions with the local population.

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LOCALS PROTEST AGAINST US-BACKED FORCES IN EASTERN SYRIA (VIDEO)

South Front

27.03.2018

Locals Protest Against US-backed Forces In Eastern Syria (Video)

Locals are protesting against the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the village of Al-Mansoura in the province of Raqqah.

According to reports, the protestors are members of the local tribe, al-Buhamis. The tensions have erupted after the SDF has arrested the tribe’s leader.

The SDF is a de-facto Kurdish-dominated group, controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and their political wing – the so-called Democratic Union Party. The PYD and PYD-linked “security forces” are actively working to establish own rule in the SDF-held areas. These efforts lead to tensions with the local Arab population.

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Syria – US Traps Itself, Commits to Occupation, Helps to Sustain the Astana Agreement

Syria - US Traps Itself, Commits to Occupation, Helps to Sustain the Astana Agreement

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 17.01.2018

Syria – US Traps Itself, Commits to Occupation, Helps to Sustain the Astana Agreement

The Trump administration policy in Syria is finally coming into daylight. It has decided to permanently separate north-east of Syria from the rest of Syria with the rather comical idea that this will keep Iranian influence out of Syria and give the U.S. a voice in a final Syrian settlement. This move lacks strategical foresight:

The U.S.-led Coalition against Islamic State is currently training a force to maintain security along the Syrian border as the operation against ISIS shifts focus. The 30,000-strong force will be partly composed of veteran fighters and operate under the leadership of the Syrian Democratic Forces, CJTF-OIR told The Defense Post.

“The Coalition is working jointly with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to establish and train the new Syrian Border Security Force (BSF). Currently, there are approximately 230 individuals training in the BSF’s inaugural class, with the goal of a final force size of approximately 30,000,” CJTF-OIR Public Affairs Officer Colonel Thomas F. Veale said.

Veale acknowledged that more Kurds will serve in the areas of northern Syria, while more Arabs will serve in areas along the Euphrates River Valley and along the border with Iraq.

The SDF and the Kurds are under control of the PKK/YPK, a terrorist organization that is nearly daily fighting and killing Turkish forces within Turkey. The Arabs which ostensibly shall seal the area off from the rest of Syria are most likely tribal forces that were earlier aligned with the Islamic State.

The Turks were not consulted before the U.S. move and are of course not amused that a “terrorist gang”, trained and armed by the U.S., will control a long stretch of their southern border. Any Turkish government would have to take harsh measures to prevent such a strategic threat to the country:

Such initiatives endangering our national security and Syria’s territorial integrity through the continuation of cooperation with PYD/YPG in contradiction with the commitments and statements made by the US are unacceptable. We condemn the insistence on this flawed approach and remind once again that Turkey is determined and capable to eliminate any threats targeting its territory.

Russia noted that such a U.S. occupation has no legal basis:

The Russian foreign minister stressed decisions of the kind were taken without any grounds, coming from a UN Security Council resolution, or from some agreements reached during the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva.

Syria warned that any Syrian taking part in this move will be in trouble:

The Ministry considered any Syrian citizen who takes part in the US-backed militia as a traitor to the Syrian state and people and will be treated as one, adding that these militias will hinder reaching to a political solution to the situation in Syria.

The U.S.Congress is concerned about this move:

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, David Satterfield, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, outlined US goals in Syria as finishing off IS, stabilizing northeastern Syria and countering Iranian influence.

“That won’t pass muster,” committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., interjected.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who initially asked Satterfield the question he declined to answer, expressed concerns that eliminating Iranian influence from Syria entirely was a fool’s errandthat could keep US troops tied up in Syria forever.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., the top Democrat on the committee, also voiced concern that the Trump administration does not have the necessary legal authorization from Congress to keep US troops in Syria beyond the defeat of IS.

Just two month back, in a phone call with the Russian President Putin, the President Trump seemed to be against such a move:

The Presidents affirmed their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, unity, independence, territorial integrity, and non-sectarian character, as defined in UNSCR 2254, …

The U.S. move comes at the right time for Syria. The Russian, Turkish, Iranian and Syrian agreement of Astana set up a de-escalation zone in Idleb governorate but committed the parties to continue the fight against al-Qaeda. The agreement was in imminent danger of breaking down as Turkey protested against the current Syrian operation against al-Qaeda in east-Idleb. Turkey cooperates with al-Qaeda to keep its options open for a take-over of some Syrian land. It is also concerned about the north-western Kurdish enclave of Afrin which is protected by Russian forces.

But the U.S.move in the east constitutes a greater threat to Turkey than tiny Afrin. The east is more important to Turkey than Idelb in the west. The whole eastern half of Turkey is now endangered by a Kurdish force at its underbelly. The U.S. move increases Turkey’s incentive to keep the Astana agreement about Idleb intact and to re-unite with Syria, Russia and Iran against the U.S.-Kurdish alliance. Erdogan, with his usual rage, was clear that he can not and will not let the U.S. move stand:

“A country we call an ally is insisting on forming a terror army on our borders,” Erdogan said of the United States in a speech in Ankara. “What can that terror army target but Turkey?”

“Our mission is to strangle it before it’s even born.”

Joshua Landis believes that the U.S. has given up on Turkey as an ally and is solely committed to do Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s bidding. It is completely concentrated on countering Iran. But there are few if any Iranian troops in Syria and the supply line from Tehran to Damascus is via air and sea and can not be influenced from an enclosed Kurdish enclave. Moreover, the U.S. presence in the north-east is not sustainable.

The north-eastern U.S. held area of Syria is surrounded by forces hostile to it. Turkey in the north, Syria in the west and south, Iraq, with a pro-Iranian government, in the east. It has no ports and all its air-supplies have to cross hostile air space.

Internally the area consists of a Kurdish core but has nearly as many Arab inhabitants as Kurds. The Kurds are not united, there are many who are against the PKK/YPG and support the Syrian government. Probably half of the Arabs in the area were earlier Islamic State fighters and the other half favors the rule by Damascus. What all Arabs there have in common is hatred for their new Kurdish overlords. This all is fertile ground for an insurgency against the U.S. occupation and its Kurdish YPG proxy forces. It will need only little inducement and support from Damascus, Ankara or elsewhere to draw the U.S. presence into a chaotic fight for survival.

Turkey’s wannabe Sultan Erdogan has long tried to play Russia against the U.S. and vice versa. He ordered Russian air defense systems which will enable him to withstand a U.S. air attack. At the same time he allowed U.S. ships to pass the Bosporus Straits into the Black Sea and to threaten Russia in Crimea even when the Montreux Convention would have allowed him to restrict their passages. The U.S. now leaves him no choice. Russia is the one force that can help him to handle the new threat.

The NATO bigwigs in Brussels must be nervous. Turkey has the second biggest army within NATO. It controls the passage to the Black Sea and with Incirlik the most important NATO airbase in the south-eastern realm. All these give Turkey leverage that it can use when Russia offers it a decent alternative to NATO membership.

One wonders who in the White House developed this idea. It goes against everything Trump had said about U.S. engagement in the Middle East. It goes against NATO’s interests. There is no legal basis for the move. It has little chance of being sustainable.

My guess is that National Security Advisor McMaster (pushed by his mentor General Petraeus) is the brain behind this. He has already proven to lack any strategic vision beyond moving military brigades here and there. What will he do next? Order the CIA to restart arming al-Qaeda aka the “Syrian rebels” who just sent their emissaries to Washington to beg for renewed support? Turkey needs Russia and Russia is fighting those “Syrian rebels”. Why should Turkey, which controls the border to Syria, allow new CIA weapons to pass?

It is beyond me how the U.S. expects to sustain its positions in the north-east of Syria. It is hard to understand why it believes that such a position will give it any influence over Iran’s commitment to Syria. The move robs it of any political flexibility. It is a trap of its own design.

 

In the end the U.S. military will have to retreat from the area. The Kurds will have to crawl to Damascus to beg for forgiveness. The strategic shortsightedness of both, the U.S. administration and the YPG leadership, amazes me. What do these people think when they make such decisions?

moonofalabama.org

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