Syria, Washington and the Kurds. “The Rojava Dream is Dead”

By Prof. Tim Anderson

Global Research, December 31, 2019

American Herald Tribune

With the defeat of ISIS and Nusra, the exposure of the ‘White Helmets’ and the various Chemical Weapons stunts, and with the collapse of ‘Rojava’, Washington is fast running out of options in Syria. Syria is winning, but the big power has not yet given up. Knowing that it is losing, it still acts to prolong the endgame and punish the Syrian people.

***

We are sitting at a joint military command center in Arima (northern Syria, just west of Manbij) with three Syrian Arab Army (SAA) colonels and two uniformed Kurd SDF ‘koval’ (comrades). There are Russians here too, but they do not enter our conversation. Yet even in the friendly chat, as we wait for permission to travel on to Manbij and Ayn al Arab (Kobane), some tensions are apparent.

Sharing coffee and food, both the SAA officers and the SDF comrades acknowledge they are fighting and dying together against an invading Turkish army and its proxy militias. The frontline is just a few kilometers away.

When I ask what differences there are between DAESH, Nusra and the ‘Free Army’, they all respond derisively.  “There is no difference, it is a money game, the fighters go back and forwards depending on the pay rates”. “Any difference between groups in the numbers of foreigners?” I suggest. “No difference”, they repeat. SDF Comrade B passes me a recent video of ‘Free Army’ fighters at Tal Abiad, to the north-east, protesting conditions and demanding their return to HTS/Nusra controlled Idlib.

But we all know they fight for a different cause. The SAA officers are fighting for a liberated and united Syria, while the SDF comrades still dream of an independent ‘Kurdistan’ by cutting out parts of contemporary Turkey, Syria and Iraq.

Separatist Kurds collaborated with US occupation forces in pursuit of their ‘Rojava’ dream (western Kurdistan), even though Washington never really supported the project. Many Syrians see them as traitors. But the SAA is patient, dealing with one enemy at a time, and at the moment the enemy in north Syria is Erdogan.

The ‘Rojava’ dream is effectively dead. As both Afrin (in March 2018) and Manbij (in October 2019) demonstrated, no Kurdish militia can defend itself from Ankara, which correctly sees any ‘Rojava’ statelet as a stepping stone for the bigger game, a large slice of Turkey. Protection by US occupation forces could not last forever. Moreover, Kurdish groups have no exclusive historical claims over any parts of northern Syria. Many others live there. In much of north Syria Kurds are a small minority.

Despite these tensions a close, even affectionate relationship remains in the room. The SAA colonels are all older men, in their 40s and 50s, while the SDF comrades are younger men, around 30 years old. Colonel H offers more coffee to Comrade A while Comrade B tells of Kurdish conquests. “We lost 850 martyrs liberating Manbij”, he says, and “2,000 in Kobane”. And what about all those in your prisons? one of the colonels asks. “They are reformatories”, Comrade B replies.

Aleppo and Manbij dcc6a

*(Between Aleppo and Manbij there is a switch from checkpoints controlled by the Syrian Arab Army to those controlled by the Kurdish SDF, even though the SAA and Russia now secure most of these ‘SDF controlled’ areas)

What Comrade B does not say about the “liberation” of Manbij is that (1) the 2016 battle was effectively a transfer of the city from one US proxy (ISIS/DAESH) to another (SDF), and (2) there were very few Kurds in that mostly Arab city. After the major battles, many from surrounding areas fled to the city, swelling its population. A recent estimate puts its population at 700,000, of which 80% are Arab (Najjar 2019). Of the rest there are other non-Arab minorities, including Assyrians, Circassians and Armenians. There is no real social base for a separatist Kurd regime in Manbij.

Yet even after the departure of US occupation forces from this part of northern Syria, and even though the Syrian and Russian presence constrains Turkish ambitions, the SDF has been allowed to maintain its former administration of both the city and the region.

The bizarre and unsustainable nature of this regime is made apparent when Nihad Roumieh, my Syrian journalist colleague, asks one of the colonels to show us where we are. Colonel A happily rolls out a military map, with friend and enemy troop placements. The first thing apparent is that six Syrian armored units protect Manbij, to the north. Second, although Syrian forces have resumed control of more than 200km of the northern border, it is depressing to see how much of northern Syria remains occupied by Erdogan and his proxies.

The picture seemed even more grim when we later spoke with a Manbij councilor and his lawyer friend. They complained of many held in prison and tortured, under the SDF regime. They said there were only two Kurd villages in Manbij.

Nevertheless, it seems that a transition is taking place. Over November-December both Syrian and Russian flags were raised over previous SDF positions in Hassakah, Ayn al Arab, Jarablus and Tal Jemaa (Syrian Observer 2019; Semenov 2019; SOHR 2019), with suggestions that the SDF was involved in negotiations with Damascus “to reach conclusive solutions”. However, SDF leader Mazloum Abadi said that the group wanted “Syrian unity … [with] decentralized self-administration” including maintenance of the separate SDF militia (Syrian Observer 2019). Damascus is unlikely to accept such terms.

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The claim for a Kurdish homeland in Syria is no indigenous movement, claiming the return of ancestral lands. Nor does the debate over Kurds as historical migrants (in Yildiz 2005) or long-standing inhabitants (Hennerbichler 2012: 77-78) resolve the question. While Kurdish languages are of Iranian origin, and the longer history passes through Mesopotamia (Iraq) and the Ottoman Empire, Kurds are certainly part of the native Syrian population.  However at 1.5 million Syria hosts the smallest group in the region, with around 20 million in Turkey (Gürbüz 2016: 31) and another 6-8 million each in Iran and Iraq.

The idea of a ‘Rojava’ statelet in Syria has been compromised in three ways. First, the Kurdish groups in the north and north-east Syria are only one of several groups (amongst Assyrians, Circassians, Armenians and Arabs), and in some areas small minorities. Second, the Kurdish separatist movement in Syria has been over-determined by the politics of and migration from Turkey. ‘Rojava’ was seen as the stepping stone for a larger ‘Kurdistan’ project, driven from the north. Third, intervention by the imperial power raised separatist expectations and has damaged Kurdish relations with other Syrian groups.

In the longer history of Syria, a traditional refuge for minorities, there have been many Kurds, including famous personalities, who did not buy into the separatist dream.

Sheikh Mohammad al Bouti

Two of them are buried inside the grounds of the Ummayad Mosque in Damascus: the 12th-century ruler Sala’addin and the Quranic scholar Sheikh Mohammad al Bouti (murdered by Jabhat al Nusra in 2013). Many Syrians of Kurdish origin embraced the idea of a wider identity. Before the 2011 conflict Tejel (2009: 39-46) classified Syrian Kurdish identities as comprising Arab nationalist, communist and Kurdish nationalist, with Syrian Kurd leaders Husni Za’im and Adib al-Shishakli campaigning for a non-sectarian ‘Greater Syria’.

The Turkish Kurd influence began early in the 20th century, as Kurdish culture was repressed by the post-Ottoman Turkish state. Turkish Kurds first took refuge in Syria, including in Damascus, after their failed rebellion in 1925. The very idea of a Syrian Kurdish party first came in 1956 from the Turkish refugee Osman Sabri; and another Turkish refugee Nûredîn Zaza, became president of that party (al Kati 2019: 45, 47).

There were multiple splits in subsequent years. The Democratic Union Party (PYD) emerged in the 1980s as a branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), loyal to its leader Abdallah Öcalan, who in 1996 acknowledged that “most of the Kurds of Syria were refugees and migrants from Turkey and they would benefit from returning there” (in Allsop 2014: 231). Many of the claims about ‘stateless’ Kurds in Syria have to be read in light of this Turkish influx. However, Öcalan departed in 1998, as part of Syria’s Adana agreement with Turkey (al Kati 2019: 49-52).

The big powers, conscious of the potentially divisive role of separatist Kurds, have used them for decades, to divide and weaken Arab governments. US regional allies Israel and Iran (pre-1979) joined in, with the Shah in 1962 ordering his SAVAK secret police to help finance the Kurdish insurgency in northern Iraq, so as to undermine Baghdad. The Israelis joined in two years later. The CIA offered further help to the Barzani-led Kurds in 1972. One result was that Iraq was unable to join the Arab resistance against Israeli expansion in 1967 and 1973 because a large part of its military was deployed in northern Iraq (Gibson 2019).

The US-led war on Syria in 2011 presented new separatist opportunities. Peoples Protection Units (YPG) were reactivated in 2012, at first with support from Damascus so that Syrians in the north could fight ISIS. However, the US occupation of parts of north and east Syria in late 2015 led to the reorganization of many YPG units into the US-sponsored ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF) (Martin 2018: 96). These were sometimes referred to as a ‘Rojava’ force, while at other times the Kurdish component was played down.

According to one US military report in 2017 the SDF in Manbij was only 40% Kurd (Townsend in Humud, Blanchard and Nikitin 2017: 12), addressing the embarrassing reality that Manbij had a very small Kurdish population. In late 2016 US Col. John Dorrian, gave a higher overall Kurd estimate, saying that the SDF “consists of approximately 45,000 fighters, more than 13,000 of which are Arab” (USDOD 2016). Many of the latter came from the fragments of earlier US proxy militia in Syria.

Syrian Colonel Malek from Aleppo confirmed to me that the bulk of SDF members were always Kurdish, including many from Iraq and Turkey. The size of the non-Kurd and foreigner contingents varied according to the money on offer. A report from the London based International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) recognized that both the YPG and SDF ground forces remained largely arms of the Turkish PKK (Holland-McCowan 2017: 10).

The failure of the September 2017 separatist referendum in Iraq dealt a serious blow to the regional project. The KDP and PUK put aside their rivalry to hold an independence referendum (having already pushed for and gained federal status) even though it was not authorized by Baghdad. The proposal was said to have gained 92% approval, but was immediately rejected by the Iraqi Government and Army, which drove Peshmerga forces out of Kirkuk in just a few hours (Gabreldar 2018; ICG 2019). For the first time in decades the Iraqi Army took control of the NE region. Baghdad was showing a political will that had been lacking for many years.

In Syria, US forces did nothing to stop the YPG’s ethnic cleansing of non-Kurds in areas to which they laid claim. In October 2015, the western aligned group Amnesty International accused the YPG (just before the US rebranded them as the ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’) of forcibly evicting Arabs and Turkmens from areas they took after displacing ISIS. Amnesty produced evidence to show instances of forced displacement, and the demolition and confiscation of civilian property, which constituted war crimes (AI 2015). Similar accusations had come from Turkish government sources (Pamuk and Bektas 2015) but also from refugees who said that ‘YPG fighters evicted Arabs and Turkmens from their homes and burned their personal documents’ (Sehmer 2015; Al Masri 2015).

However, after the US forces became direct patrons of the SDF in late 2015, a UN commission, co-chaired by US diplomat Karen Koning AbuZayd, continued its quest to place most of the blame for abuses on Syrian Government forces. The Commission accused the YPG/SDF of forcibly displacing communities “[but only] in order to clear areas mined by ISIL”, and of forcible conscription, but “found no evidence to substantiate claims that YPG or SDF forces ever targeted Arab communities on the basis of ethnicity, nor that YPG cantonal authorities systematically sought to change the demographic composition of territories” (IICISAR 2017: 111 and 93).What Syria’s Kurds “Think” They are Fighting For Versus Reality

Nevertheless, in 2018 there were ongoing reports of the ethnic cleansing of Assyrian Christians from US-SDF held areas in NE Syria. Young men in the Qamishli area were reported to have been arrested and forcibly conscripted into Kurdish militia, alongside property theft by those same militias (Abed 2018). In 2019 the SDF were reported to have closed more than 2,000 Arabic-teaching schools in the Hasaka region (Syria Times 2019) and to have shot, killed, wounded and jailed displaced people who were trying to escape from al-Hawl Refugee Camp in South-Eastern Hasaka (FNA 2019). Nevertheless, once US forces created and adopted the Kurdish-led ‘SDF’, Amnesty International and the western media muted their earlier criticisms.

Washington in 2012 had looked favorably on the ISIS plan for a “Salafist principality”, so as to weaken Damascus (DIA 2012). In September 2016 US air power was used to attack and kill more than 120 Syrian soldiers at Mount Tharda behind Deir Ezzor airport, to help the terrorist group’s (failed) efforts to take over and threaten the city (Anderson 2017). But when Russia, Syria and Iraq began wiping out these Saudi clones, USA forces simply rescued their best commanders and replaced ISIS with a Kurdish-led ‘SDF’ (Anderson 2019: Chapters 5 and 7), once again to undermine and weaken Damascus.

But US occupation forces did not wait around to sponsor the ill-fated Rojava project. In October 2019 President Trump gave the order for a partial withdrawal from northern Syria. Former US diplomat Robert Ford had warned in 2017 that the US would abandon the SDF (O’Connor 2017). So, stripped of US military protection and their main source of arms and finance, the SDF was forced to rapidly put together a new alliance with Damascus and Russia, to prevent annihilation by Erdogan’s forces. The Turkish leader saw the Öcalan-led YPG/SDF as a stepping stone to its larger project in Turkey (Demircan 2019).

Western liberals complained the US was ‘betraying’ its Kurdish allies; but they placed too much faith in romantic myths. Ünver (2016), for example, presented separatist Kurds as recipients of unplanned opportunities in Syria’s “civil war” in an “age of shifting borders”, as though the big power were not once again using the ‘Kurdish card’ to divide and weaken both Iraq and Syria. Schmidinger (2018: 13, 16-17) tried to twist Syria’s historic diversity into an argument for the ‘Rojava’ sectarian division – instead of an inclusive unitary state. But, as has been said many times before, imperial powers never have real allies, only interests. Lebanese Resistance leader Hassan Nasrallah told Kurdish separatists in February 2018: “In the end they will work according to their interests, they will abandon you and they will sell you in a slave market.”

Meanwhile, with Washington’s blessing, Erdogan persists with his plan to control large parts of northern Syria, with the aim of settling many of the refugees in Turkey under a Muslim Brotherhood style regime, controlled by sectarian Islamist militia. Retired Syrian Major General Mohammad Abbas Mohammad told me that Turkey’s leader has not given up his ambition of becoming a modern-day ‘Caliph’ of Muslim nations, and is working to colonise Syrian minds with his constant Islamist slogans.

*

Nevertheless, with the help of its allies, Syria is winning the war. ISIS/DAESH and Nusra are virtually defeated, the ‘White Helmets’ and the Chemical Weapons stunts have been exposed and the Rojava myth has collapsed. But a Washington-driven economic war now targets all the independent countries of the region, aggravating the occupation and the terrorism.

Director of the Syrian Arab Army’s Political Department Major General Hassan Hassan, tells us that the US “has the power to destroy the world, many times over, but it has not been able to turn that power into capabilities.” That is why US wars are failing across the region.

While we are indeed heading for a multi-polar world, he says, we are not there yet. “Syria still faces the unipolar regime”. Erdogan, ISIS, Israel and the SDF are all “puppets” of this dying world order. Authorized by the US, Erdogan still wants to set up a Muslim Brotherhood region in north and east Syria. This is a dying and a “most dangerous” order, General Hassan says. “The US deep state knows that its unipolarity is failing, but that has not yet been announced. The new world system is born, but is not yet recognized. The US wants to prolong this conflict as long as possible, and to punish the Syrian people”.

Euphrates f77f4

(Crossing the huge Furat (Euphrates) river, from rural Manbij to rural Raqqa, north Syria)

In that transitional phase we see collaboration between the SAA and the SDF, the extraordinary anomaly of an SDF-run Manbij and the ongoing experiment of ‘Kobane’, the SDF controlled border town which Syrians call Ayn al Arab.

Traveling from rural Aleppo to rural Raqqa on the M4 highway we cross the Furat (Euphrates) river, a huge, semi-dammed expanse of fresh water which appears particularly sweet between two deserts. Turning north we arrive in Ayn al Arab, at the Turkish border, in less than an hour. Although Erdogan’s gangs are attacking Ayn al Issa, deeper inside Syria on the M4, there is no sign of fighting near Ayn al Arab itself. Major General Abbas says that Erdogan is aiming at narrow incursions, which can later be widened.

This small city of perhaps 45,000 people was evacuated during earlier fighting and still shows signs of great destruction, especially on the eastern and northern sides. Less than a tenth of the size of Manbij it is now said to have a majority of Kurds and the SDF comrades seem well organized. We are taken to their small headquarters, a three-story building, to await further security checks and an escort to one of their schools and one of their hospitals.

At the secondary school, as in the headquarters, they seem wary of a foreigner accompanied by an SAA Colonel and a Syrian journalist. That breaks down a little as I ask about their curriculum and the children, who have clearly gone through substantial trauma. The headmaster says they are developing programs to help students deal with their war experiences. The threat is not over, as Erdogan’s troops, including sectarian Islamist gangs, are only a few kilometers to the north.

The Kurdish nationalist curriculum has made a break with the centralized Arabic-based system set in Damascus. The headmaster explains that their syllabus is carried out 60% in the Kurdish language, 20% in Arabic and 20% in English. For children from Arab families the syllabus is 60% Arabic, 20% Kurdish and 20% English. They speak of four ‘nationalities’ in Kobane: Kurd, Arab, Yazidi and Christian. That is how they see it.

The management of the small hospital is also strongly Kurd nationalist. I ask where they get their support and they mention the Americans and some international NGOs. Of course, there is nothing from Ankara. “What about Damascus?” I ask. “Nothing and we want nothing”, says one of the managers.

That may be true for this hospital. However Syrian colleagues tell that most of the health centers in SDF controlled areas still get finance and supplies from Damascus. So not only is their security guaranteed by the Syrian state, so are most of their social services.

It remains to be seen how much Kurdish autonomy will remain, under a final political settlement. Federation is not part of the discussion, it is clear that Damascus sees that as a path which would dismember and weaken the country. While the SAA and the SDF jointly fight Erdogan’s gangs, Damascus has been calling on Arab leaders in the north and north east, who had collaborated with the US occupation force and the SDF, to return to the Syrian Arab Army. On the other side, SDF Commander General Mazloum Abdi opposes incorporation of the SDF into the SAA (Van Wilgenburg 2019) and wants to hold onto as much local administration as possible (Syrian Observer 2019). The continued US presence and sponsorship of SDF units in Hasaka, Qamishli and Deir Ezzor (Ahval 2019), serves to maintain the illusions of autonomy.

In the Russian media there is some pessimism about an SDF-Damascus reconciliation. One observer suggests that “Russia will eventually force most (if not all) of Turkey’s forces to leave Syria … [but Damascus] and the Syrian Kurds have opposing political and military goals that will not be easily reconciled” (Stein 2019).

However, Damascus has some other cards. The YPG/PKK/SDF grew its influence through US sponsorship and, as that declines, other voices in the north, including Kurdish voices, are likely to re-emerge, especially through the constitutional process in Geneva. Major General Abbas points out that there are now dozens of Kurdish parties in the north east (Syria Times 2018). Given the intransigence of the US-dependent SDF, Russia is said to be recruiting Syrian Kurd youth to a rival group (Duvar 2019), which is likely to be incorporated into the SAA.

In my view, there will likely be some accommodation of Kurdish nationalist demands at the cultural and local administrative levels, but alongside efforts to ensure this does not privilege Kurds above other Syrian groups. That should appear in the amended constitution. The old world order is dying and the new one is still being born. In this transitional world, Washington persists with its losing war, to divide and punish the Syrian people.

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Dr. Tim Anderson is Director of the Sydney-based Centre for Counter Hegemonic Studies. He has worked at Australian universities for more than 30 years, teaching, researching and publishing on development, human rights and self-determination in the Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East. In 2014 he was awarded Cuba’s medal of friendship. He is Australia and Pacific representative for the Latin America based Network in Defence of Humanity. His most recent books are: Land and Livelihoods in Papua New Guinea (2015), The Dirty War on Syria (2016), Global Research, 2015, now published in ten languages; Countering War Propaganda of the Dirty War on Syria (2017) and Axis of Resistance: towards an independent Middle East (2019).

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All images in this article are from the AHTThe original source of this article is American Herald TribuneCopyright © Prof. Tim AndersonAmerican Herald Tribune, 2019

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

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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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