Turkey and Syria Meeting in Moscow May Result in Peace Plan


Steven Sahiounie

Tomorrow, the Foreign Ministers of Turkey and Syria will meet in Moscow.  This is the highest level meeting between the two countries who have been on opposite sides of the US-NATO war on Syria for regime change since 2011.

The outcome of that meeting, and the expected follow-up meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, may form the basis for the recovery of Syria, circumventing the UN resolution 2254, which has failed to produce results.

The US has lost the war, but has used armed militias to remain occupying parts of Syria, and to impose a stalemate which prevents a peaceful solution and recovery for Syria.  America is no longer the only superpower, and decisions made in the new Middle East no longer depend on orders from the US State Department.

Erdogan is up for re-election in June and faces heavy opposition. The economy is dismal, and people blame the Syrian refugees for lost jobs and social ills.  Erdogan and the opposition promise to send the refugees packing.

The Turkish export market to Syria in 2011 represented half of the entire global export market for Turkey.  That was lost when Damascus banned all Turkish imports because of their participation in the war on Syria. Erdogan could get the Syrian market restored by repairing the relationship.

In order to win re-election, Erdogan proposes a rapprochement with Assad.  The US has voiced its displeasure at any attempt of any country to repair relations with Syria.  However, Erdogan will not be swayed by US opinion or threats, in light of the fact that the US supports, trains and supplies weapons to the Kurdish militia (SDF and YPG) linked to an internationally banned terrorist organization (PKK), which have killed thousands in Turkey over three decades of terrorism. The Kurds know that Turkey is a much more important ally to the US, and the US will never fight Turkey to save the Kurds.  Former US envoy to Syria, James Jeffrey, told the Kurds they should repair their relationship with Damascus for protection. The US never supported a “homeland” for the Kurds.

Syria and Turkey are united in their goal to demilitarize the Kurdish northeast of Syria.  Syria and Turkey share a common enemy (the Kurds), and a common ally (Russia). This may be the basis of forming a new foreign policy between the two neighbors.


Syrian officials have met with Turkish officials and Arab Gulf officials.  Some Arab embassies in Damascus were re-opened, and Assad made a visit to the UAE.

The Assad administration in Damascus controls the vast majority of the Syrian territory.  The exceptions are: Idlib province in the northwest is under the occupation of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a Radical Islamic terrorist group which was the former Al Qaeda branch in Syria, and the Kurdish administration region in the northeast under the occupation of about 600 US troops and two local Kurdish militias (SDF and YPG) which follow a communist political ideology first promoted by the jailed PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan.

Syria and Russia have been prevented from attacking and liberating Idlib from terrorist control. The US uses the three million civilians living under occupation as human shields to prevent attack. The US and its allies in the UN demand that the UN food and medical supplies be delivered to Idlib. The civilians are being fed and clothed, but the terrorists and their families are as well. The international community is supporting the welfare of the terrorists, who are there at the behest of the US, to prevent peace and recovery in Syria.  Despite the UN protocol which demands all UN members to fight Al Qaeda, or their affiliates, anywhere on earth, the US and Turkey have circumvented the protocol and use the terrorists as guards of the political stalemate which the US imposed on Syria.

The US

America has maintained an iron grip on Syria through the use of US sanctions and a brutal military occupation which has prevented the Syrian citizens from fuel for transportation and home heating, and to generate electricity.  Syrian houses, hospitals, schools and businesses have between 15 minutes to 1 hour of electricity in four intervals per day because of the US imposed sanctions, which have not affected the Syrian government, but have brought the Syrian people to desperation. Kidney dialysis machines require electricity constantly.  A gasoline powered generator can suffice when there are blackouts, but the US sanctions also prevent the importation of gasoline.  How can Syrians survive?

Despite Richard Haass writing in 1998 that US sanctions are ineffective and immoral against civilians, the US State Department hangs on to sanctions as a tool for regime change.


Iran and Syria have been united in their resistance to the occupation of Palestine Golan Heights and Shebaa Farms.  Iran stood firmly with Syria during the US-NATO attack on Syria because it is a key in the land route from Iran to Lebanon. Recently, there are some cracks appearing in the relationship between Damascus and Tehran.  Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s meeting in Damascus was postponed recently. Some experts feel Iran has been asking too much of Syria, and with new opportunities for improved relations with the Arab Gulf and Turkey, Syria may be taking time to evaluate its options.

Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab countries want to see Iran out of Syria.  As long as Iran is in Syria the Israeli airstrikes will continue, which have been deadly and destructive.

There were 32 Israeli raids in 2022 that destroyed and struck 91 targets, including civilian infrastructure, buildings, weapons caches and vehicles. Eighty-eight military personnel were killed and 121 wounded in the attacks.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is the United States’ largest foreign military sales customer, with more than $100 billion in active cases.  In the US there is a saying, “The customer is always right.”

Perhaps this may explain why the US takes no action against Saudi Arabia even when there have been deadly issues, or when Biden asked the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to pump more oil, and he refused.

MBS is making huge reforms, which includes loosening restrictions on women, and creating new tourism and international sports opportunities.

MBS and Netanyahu are united in a common issue: to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, despite Iran insisting on wanting nuclear capabilities for peaceful purposes, such as energy production and medical research.  Netanyahu has stated one of his main priorities in office will be to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia.

The Arab League

The upcoming Arab League Summit will take place in Saudi Arabia, traditionally scheduled yearly in March.  Depending on the outcome of meetings between now and spring, Syria could possibly be reinstated and occupy their seat at the table.  Big changes have been taking place in the region involving the relations between Arab countries and the US, China and Russia. Saudi Arabia is in the driver’s seat and will use their hosting of the summit to project their ranking as the Middle East’s power broker.


Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen has announced that the next Abraham Accords summit will be held in Morocco in March 2023.

The US had brokered in 2020 the Abraham Accords for the normalization of relations between Israel, Morocco, the UAE and Bahrain. Later, Sudan joined the accords.  Areas of shared interests are: defense, investment, agriculture, tourism, and energy.

The meetings and realignments between Syria and Turkey, mediated by Russia, may produce lasting changes in the Middle East, and bring enemies together as new friends.  The Israeli occupation of Palestine will continue to be the primary cause of instability and violence in the region.  It fuels religious extremism and terrorism. If Israel values the establishment of relations with their Arab neighbors, they must first look at their closest neighbors in Gaza and the West Bank.  The Middle East and the world wait for a peace summit to begin the process of peace for Israel and Palestine, and the host country will not likely be the US.

Steven Sahiounie is a two-time award-winning journalist

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US on alert as UAE seeks to join Turkish-Syrian reconciliation talks

As the UAE tries to join Russia in mediating between Ankara and Damascus, the US is looking to establish a middle ground between Turkiye and the SDF in hopes of preventing normalization with Syria

January 08 2023

(Photo Credit: Emirates News Agency)

ByNews Desk- 

During a speech in Ankara on 5 January, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinted that a meeting with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad may soon take place, “as part of efforts for peace.” He added that a tripartite meeting between the foreign ministers of Turkiye, Russia and Syria is scheduled to be held in the near future for the first time since 2011.

The upcoming meeting aims to enhance communication after Russian-sponsored talks between the Turkish and Syrian defense ministers were held in Moscow on 28 December. The meeting was the highest-level of official meetings between Ankara and Damascus since the start of the Syrian war.

In a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on 5 January, Erdogan called on the Syrian government to “take the steps to achieve a tangible solution concerning the case of Syria.”

The US seeks to establish a middle ground between Ankara and the SDF in order to prevent Turkish-Syrian reconciliation

The Syrian-Turkish rapprochement via declared Russian mediation was paralleled by Emirati-Syrian rapprochement – the latest of which was a “brotherly” meeting aimed at strengthening cooperation and restoring historical relations between Assad and Foreign Minister of the UAE Abdallah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, according to SANA.

Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported that the UAE seeks “to join Russia in sponsoring Syrian-Turkish relations at a high level,” noting that the Emirati foreign minister’s visit to Damascus sought to arrange Turkiye’s participation in the tripartite meeting of Syrian-Turkish-Russian foreign ministers, making it a quadripartite meeting.

The meeting is meant to pave the way for a presidential meeting between Erdogan and Assad in the presence of Putin. Reportedly, the UAE has offered to host this summit, with a possibility of a high-level UAE official being present at the meeting if it will be held in Moscow.

Asharq Al-Awsat added that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu plans to visit Washington on 16-17 January to brief US officials on the developments of Turkish-Syrian normalization, his meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Faysal Mikdad, and the “roadmap” sponsored by Moscow in the context of security, military, political and economic fields – as agreed upon by the defense ministers as well as the intelligence chiefs in Syria, Turkiye and Russia over the past weeks.

As Turkiye has been launching successive operations against Kurdish groups both on the Turkish-Syrian border as well as within Syria itself under ‘Operation Claw Sword,’ a Western official informed Asharq Al-Awsat that a high-ranking US official will be visiting Ankara in the coming hours as part of efforts to mediate between Turkiye and the SDF in northeastern Syria.

Ankara has demanded that Moscow and Washington commit to the implementation of the bilateral military agreements signed at the end of 2019. The agreements stipulate the withdrawal of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to beyond 30 kilometers from the Turkish border, and from the areas of Manbij and Tal Rifaat, in addition to the withdrawal of all heavy weaponry.

The SDF says that it has fulfilled its obligations, and will not withdraw its police force – known as the Asayish – nor dismantle its local councils, despite Turkiye’s insistence on dissolving all Kurdish military and civil institutions in the area.

Meanwhile, Cavusoglu told media on 29 December that Ankara is willing to withdraw from the territory it occupies in northern Syria and hand it over to Damascus in the event that “political stability” is reached – after cooperation in “neutralizing ISIS members, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the YPG.”

The Saudi newspaper’s report stated that US mediation seeks to reach a “compromise” between the Kurdish groups and Ankara without a new Turkish incursion taking place ahead of the Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections in mid-2023. This mediation seems to be an attempt at circumventing the imminent Syrian-Turkish reconciliation.

Another official source disclosed that Ankara was “uncomfortable with the leaks following the meeting of the Syrian, Turkish and Russian defense ministers in Moscow, and that it had agreed to a full withdrawal.” However, the source confirmed that, “it is true that Ankara and Damascus consider the PKK a common threat, and will work against any separatist agenda, because it is an existential threat to both countries,” adding that the two countries will “work to open the Aleppo-Latakia Highway.”

Following the UAE’s visit to Damascus, which came after the US called on its allies and international partners to refrain from normalizing ties with Syria, Asharq Al-Awsat quoted an official as saying that the US has been the only western country to issue a statement against normalization, and is working alongside Paris, Berlin, and London to assume a united stance against normalization with Syria.

Communication is currently underway for a meeting between the representatives of Paris, Berlin, London, and Washington and UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pederson in Geneva on 23 January. This meeting will take place before Pedersen’s visit to Damascus to meet with the Syrian foreign minister to “confirm the position against normalization, and support the provision of funding for electricity projects within the timeline of early recovery,” stipulated by a resolution for international aid that will be extended before 10 January.

Asharq Al-Awsat said that the UAE has proposed to contribute to the funding of economic and electrical projects in Syria – within the confines of the Caesar Act.

Simultaneously, Jordan, who was the first to open high-level channels of communication with Damascus, is leading efforts alongside other Arab countries to reach a “united Arab position that defines Arab demands in order to make normalization possible.”

The newspaper quoted another western official as saying that Jordan is calling for coordination to put pressure on Damascus to provide political and geopolitical steps for the coming phase in southern Syria, as Amman confirmed that there has been an increase in the smuggling of Captagon, weapons and ammunition across the Syrian border following the start of the normalization process. Additionally, Amman has said that the Iranian presence in southern Syria near the Jordanian border has not diminished, and that there has been an expansion of ISIS activity in the area, according to the official.

Syria’s Arab League membership was suspended in November of 2011 following the start of the Syrian war, and it has been excluded ever since.

Al Qaeda Terrorists Protesting Turkey’s Rapprochement with Syria

JANUARY 7, 2023


NATO-sponsored Al Qaeda terrorists in Idlib took to the streets in angry protests against the latest rapprochement steps by the Turkish madman Erdogan toward Syria.

Euronews, a strong propaganda state-controlled arm of NATO and its financial arm, the European Union, shared a video clip showing a few dozen of all males protesting somewhere in the Al Qaeda stronghold in the Turkish-occupied and controlled Idlib province.

In the accompanying news, the EU propaganda outlet claimed that similar protests took place in a number of towns in the countryside of Idlib.

The video is also available on Rumble, and BitChute,

The protest shared by the EU propaganda arm Euronews showed protests spewing slogans with improper language reminiscent of the 2011 NATO-promoted protests in most remote villages and towns across Syria calling for NATO bombing of Syria to spread freedoms and democracy. These protests also witnessed the killings of dozens of Syrian policemen and civilians by 5th column instigators planted by foreign powers and funded by the US-led coalition which included Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the most retard political regimes in the whole world.

Without naming him, the al Qaeda fighters shown in the above video clip with their sons were expressing their anger toward their main sponsor, the Turkish madman Erdogan, after the recent steps taken by him to mend the ties with Syria and their fear he would drop his role in the regime change in Damascus which he played the central part in ever since he was assigned that task by George W. Bush years before the NATO-sponsored Arab Spring was initiated.

The Turkish madman Erdogan is in desperate need to speed up his rapprochement with Syrian President Bashar Assad before the upcoming elections in Turkey, all his policies during his very long reign in Turkey have brought draconian measures against freedoms in his own country, the jailing of tens of thousands of public workers and journalists under the pretext of supporting an opposition movement to him and the failed coup of 2016, in addition to the countless debacles in foreign interventions earning him zero friends in contrast to the policy of zero troubles with neighboring countries which he fooled his people with to vote for him.

Any meeting and agreement with President Assad would help Erdogan in his bid to be reelected, again, as it would give the Turkish people the impression of solving the refugee crises in their country, the crisis they blame for their deteriorating economy.

The main losers of such rapprochement with Damascus are the al Qaeda and ISIS terrorists in northern Syria, the Turkish madman Erdogan considers them, like his NATO colleagues, as moderate opposition; Syria and the normal world consider them as terrorists. The other losers of a Turkish rapprochement with Syria are the US-sponsored Kurdish SDF separatist terrorists. Both these terrorist entities share the same goals of creating cantons carving them out of Syria and placing a foothold of NATO and Israel where Syria’s main food basket farmlands and oil fields are.

It’s no surprise that al Qaeda terrorists would express their anger toward any rapprochement between Turkey and Syria, however insincere their main sponsor Erdogan is, they fear they will be abandoned like all cheap cards are in the bigger strategic political game.

Syria’s main condition for any rapprochement with Turkey is exactly that, Turkey must drop its support to Al Qaeda and ISIS terrorists in their numerous groups and return to the Adana Accords of 1998 which only Turkey under Erdogan has breached every article of it.

It’s also no surprise that the NATO propaganda arms would return to promoting those same terrorists who wreaked havoc across Syria and all the countries that were infested with the Arab Spring, and even the countries that sponsored the Arab Spring and had their terrorists return home and carry out terrorist attacks, mainly in western European countries.

There are somewhere between 60,000 and 120,000 terrorists of al Qaeda, ISIS, and their affiliates controlling a Syrian population of around 4 million Syrians across the regions under the Turkish occupation in northern Syria including Idlib province, parts of Aleppo, Raqqa, Deir Ezzor, and Hasakah provinces, a large number of those terrorists are foreign terrorists brought into Syria from across the world all the way from the Chinese Uighur and their families through Central Asia to western Europe, literally wherever the anti-Islamic Muslim Brotherhood and Wahhabism doctrines have influence, the first is the twisted version of Islam followed by the Turkish AKP ruling party with Erdogan as its supreme leader, a number of radical parties empowered across the Arab world, and the latter is the main twisted version of Islam followed by the Saudi and Qatari rulers.


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«إدلب واللاجئون» مختبَراً أوّل للتقارب | دمشق – أنقرة: جارٍ تسليك الطريق

 الجمعة 30 كانون الأول 2022

علاء حلبي

تزامن اللقاء مع الجدل الدائر حالياً في مجلس الأمن حول قضية المساعدات الإنسانية (أ ف ب)

أنبأ تطابق التعليقات الرسمية السورية والتركية على اللقاء الثلاثي الذي انعقد في موسكو على مستوى وزراء الدفاع ورؤساء الاستخبارات، فضلاً عن الأصداء الإيجابية التي حملتْها تلك التعليقات، بأن هذا اللقاء غير المسبوق منذ 11 عاماً، ستتبعه بالفعل خطوات عملية على الأرض، من شأنها أن تَدفع قُدُماً بمسار التقارب بين أنقرة ودمشق. خطواتٌ يُفترض لمسها خلال الفترة القليلة المقبلة في نطاق ملفَّين رئيسَين: أوّلهما إدلب وطريق حلب – اللاذقية، وثانيهما اللاجئون السوريون الذي يُنتظَر أن تتسارع خطوات إعادتهم إلى بلادهم. وفي خضمّ ذلك، تجد القوى الكردية نفسها أمام اختبار جديد، في ظلّ خشيتها من أن يأتي التطبيع السوري – التركي على حساب وجودها وسلطتها، وهو ما دفعها إلى إطلاق حملة استنكار للاجتماع الأخير، على رغم أنها واصلت، على مدار اللقاءات التي انعقدت بينها وبين الحكومة السورية خلال الأشهر الماضية، رفْض أيّ حلول وسطية، متمسّكة بتحالفها مع الأميركيين وتعويلها عليهم

لعدّة ساعات أوّل من أمس، اجتمع وزير الدفاع السوري، العماد علي عباس، ونظيره التركي، خلوصي آكار، إلى جانب وزير الدفاع الروسي، سيرغي شويغو، بحضور رؤساء استخبارات البلدان الثلاثة، في لقاء هو الأوّل من نوعه بين مسؤولين رفيعي المستوى من سوريا وتركيا، منذ اندلاع الحرب السورية قبل أكثر من 11 عاماً. الاجتماع الذي جاء بعد بضعة أشهر من المباحثات الأمنية والوساطة الروسية المتواصلة، بالإضافة إلى جهود إيرانية بدت واضحة خلال قمّة دول «مسار أستانا» التي عُقدت في العاصمة الإيرانية طهران في شهر تموز الماضي، ركّز على مجموعة قضايا أبرزها المخاطر الأمنية ومسألة اللاجئين. وهاتان القضيّتان كانت قد شكّلتا محور لقاءات أمنية سابقة بين دمشق وأنقرة، في ظلّ رغبة العاصمتَين المشتركة في إخراج القوّات الأميركية من سوريا وإنهاء مشروع «الإدارة الذاتية» الكردية من جهة، وطيّ ملفّ اللاجئين السوريين من جهة أخرى، بهدف سحبه من أروقة السياسة، بعد أن تمّ استثماره لسنوات عدّة من قِبَل الدول الغربية.

وخلال الشهرَين الماضيَين، أبدت تركيا رغبتها في استعجال خطوات الانفتاح على سوريا، بهدف قطف مكاسب هذا الانفتاح في الداخل، في وقت ربطت فيه دمشق التطبيع مع أنقرة بمجموعة خطوات يتعيّن على الأخيرة اتّخاذها، أبرزها وقف دعم الفصائل المسلّحة، وإخراج قوّاتها من الشمال السوري، بالإضافة إلى إنهاء تحكّمها بالمياه الواردة عبر نهر الفرات، والذي يؤدي إلى أزمات جفاف متلاحقة أضرّت بشكل كبير بالقطاع الزراعي السوري، ومنعت إيصال مياه الشرب إلى آلاف القرى. وفي وقت لم تَصدر فيه عن دمشق أيّ توضيحات حول فحوى اللقاء ونتائجه، باستثناء البيان المقتضب الذي أصدرته وزارة الدفاع السورية، والذي وصف الاجتماع بـ«الإيجابي»، ذكرت مصادر سورية أن تركيا تَقدّمت بضع خطوات على المسار الذي تريده سوريا، الأمر الذي سهّل عقْد هذا اللقاء، متوقّعةً ارتقاء الاجتماعات إلى المستوى السياسي في وقت لاحق، من دون تحديد وقت دقيق لذلك، في ظلّ الملفّات المعقّدة والمتشابكة التي تحيط بالعلاقات السورية – التركية، والتي ترجئ الحديث عن التسوية النهائية إلى ما بعد الانتخابات الرئاسية التركية.

خلال الشهرَين الماضيَين، أبدت تركيا رغبتها في استعجال خطوات الانفتاح على سوريا

اللافت في موعد عقد هذا اللقاء، أنه يأتي بالتزامن مع الجدل الدائر حالياً في مجلس الأمن حول قضية المساعدات الإنسانية، إذ ترغب أنقرة في ضمان استمرار تدفّق المساعدات خلال الشهور المقبلة لمنع حدوث اضطرابات في الشمال السوري، في وقت تصرّ فيه دمشق وموسكو على أن تفي الدول الغربية بتعهّداتها حول تقديم دعم ملموس لمشاريع التعافي المبكر، وخصوصاً منظومتَي المياه والطاقة الكهربائية، بما من شأنه أن يؤمّن أرضية مناسبة لإعادة اللاجئين. كذلك، يأتي الاجتماع بعد تعثّر الخطّة التركية لشنّ هجوم برّي جديد في الشمال السوري، بفعل رفض كلّ من موسكو وواشنطن إيّاه، ليبقى الحلّ الوحيد بالنسبة إلى أنقرة هو الانفتاح على دمشق وفق الخطّة الروسية، خصوصاً أن الولايات المتحدة لا تملك سوى تجديد طرح مشروعها لربْط المناطق الخارجة عن سيطرة الحكومة السورية (الإدارة الذاتية والشمال السوري)، الأمر الذي تَعتبره تركيا وصْفة لتجذير «الإدارة الذاتية» بدلاً من إنهائها.
وعلى أيّ حال، ترى مصادر سورية مطّلعة، في حديث إلى «الأخبار»، أن الأصداء الإيجابية الصادرة عن وزارتَي الدفاع السورية والتركية عقب اللقاء، تشي بوجود خطوات على الأرض يُفترض لمسها خلال الفترة القليلة المقبلة، وأُولاها تقديم دفعة حقيقية لحلحلة ملفّ إدلب وفتح طريق اللاذقية – حلب المغلَق من جهة، ومن جهة ثانية، تسريع وتيرة إعادة اللاجئين السوريين، ولا سيما أنه جرى تحديد معابر دائمة لإعادتهم، وافتتاح مراكز مصالحة خاصة بهم في إدلب. ويضع التوافق السوري – التركي، القوى الكردية، أمام اختبار وجودي جديد، في ظلّ إعلان الرئيس التركي، رجب طيب إردوغان، اتّباع آلية جديدة في محاربة تلك القوى، عبر استهداف بنيتها التحتية ومصادر تمويلها، في إشارة إلى قوافل النفط التي يجري تهريبها، ومراكز تكرير النفط البدائية، بالإضافة إلى مقرّاتها العسكرية. وفي الإطار نفسه، أعلن وزير الخارجية التركي، مولود جاويش أوغلو، أن ثمّة مساعيَ حثيثة لإيجاد مخرج سياسي عبر لقاءات سورية – سورية (بين الحكومة والمعارضة)، وفق مسارَين: الأوّل هو «مسار أستانة» بدعم روسي، والثاني هو مسار «اللجنة الدستورية» (المسار الأممي)، المجمَّد حالياً، علماً أن كليهما لا يضمّان أيّ تمثيل لـ«قسد». ويأتي ذلك في وقت تتابع فيه واشنطن، التي تحاول جاهدة إفشال المساعي الروسية للحلّ ومنْع الانفتاح السوري – التركي، التصعيد السياسي والميداني في سوريا، سواء عبر تقديم دفعات من الأسلحة المتطوّرة لـ«قسد»، أو عن طريق إنشاء «جيش رديف من مكوّنات عربية» في منطقتَي التنف في المثلث الحدودي مع العراق والأردن، والرقة على الحدود مع تركيا.

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Reconciliation: Turkey Has Not Made Any Serious Offer to Syria

DECEMBER 23, 2022



Erman Çete

While Damascus is open to negotiations with Ankara, it is wary of being used as a Turkish pre-election political ploy.

On 15 December, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that his government planned to schedule a tripartite mechanism with Russia to work toward Syrian-Turkish rapprochement.

Initially, he suggested the establishment of meetings between intelligence agencies, and defense and foreign ministries, to be followed by a meeting of the respective leaders. “I offered it to Mr Putin and he has a positive view on it,” the Turkish president was cited as saying.

In the past few months, Erdogan has displayed an increasing interest in meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom he characterized as a “murderer” only a few short years ago.

Diplomatic developments

Early signs of rapprochement between Ankara and Damascus are already evident in multiple, ongoing meetings between their respective intelligence agencies.

Somer Sultan, a Turkish journalist residing in Syria, told The Cradle that recently the level of talks between intelligence services has been raised.

According to Sultan, one of the outcomes of these talks is the establishment of the 25th Special Mission Forces Division of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) – commonly known as the ‘Tiger Forces’ – on the Turkish-Syrian border in many areas evacuated by the US-backed Kurdish militia, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

It also appears that – at least for now – Russia and the US have blocked a new Turkish ground offensive in Syria against SDF/YPG Kurdish militias, which Erdogan has been threatening to launch for several months.

Meeting of the US, SDF, and PUK

Two days before Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his US counterpart Antony Blinken met on 22 December, an interesting meeting was held in Syria.

US General Matthew McFarlane, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) leader and the son of Jalal Talabani, Bafel Talabani, and SDF leader Mazloum Abdi participated in this meeting. During his visit to North Syria, Bafel Talabani also met with PYD co-leaders Asya Abdullah and Salih Muslim.

It is important to note that Turkiye has recently threatened the PUK-held Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq, and accused the PUK of supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group viewed as a terrorist organization by both Washington and Ankara.

So far, the US and Russia have managed to deter Turkiye from launching a ground incursion into Syria. However, a new Turkish security concept, “meeting and eliminating threats across borders,” continues in Iraq and Syria whereby PKK targets continue to be identified and eliminated.

Turkish journalist Murat Yetkin quotes a senior Turkish security officer as saying that Ankara has warned the US to stop escorting PKK/YPG elements in Syria. According to this officer, Turkiye has advised the US forces to affix a UN or US flag on their cars to avoid any friendly fire.

What does Turkiye offer?

Relations with Syria, its related refugee conundrum, and generalized economic crisis are among the most heated topics in Turkiye’s domestic politics. Indeed, several Turkish opposition parties have attributed the refugee problem as a direct consequence of Erdogan’s misguided Syrian policy – a popular view in Turkiye today.

Former Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Kamil Erozan, now a deputy of the opposition IYI (Good) Party, revealed to The Cradle that Turkiye has thus far not made any serious offer to the Syrian side.

“What the government says in public is the threat of YPG/PKK,” Erozan said. “But we, IYI Party, think that this is not enough. Idlib is the hotbed of terrorism and AKP (Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party) has not touched upon this topic during the negotiations yet.”

He believes that Erdogan does not have an exit strategy from Syria, and is biding his time on this issue until Turkiye’s next key elections in June 2023.

Erozan says that the IYI Party, as a potential ruling party after the elections, will seek to make direct contact with the Syrian government. “We wrote a letter to our foreign ministry about our intention to visit Syria and waited for a response until December 15. They did not respond and now we will try to contact Bashar al-Assad on our own,” he said.

If the Assad government accepts, Erozan said, then they are open for dialogue with Damascus even before the elections, at any time and in any place.

“When we are in power, we are going to raise the dialogue level in our negotiations,” Erozan claimed. He said that the most important point is to solve the urgent Syrian refugee question, and then the difficult issues about the PKK/YPG and Idlib.

When asked whether his party has a plan to withdraw Turkish troops from Syria, he said this could be negotiable. According to Erozan, the Erdogan government has itself not yet put the withdrawal of the Turkish troops from Syria on the table.

However, it is unclear whether the Syrian government would accept IYI’s offer — Somer Sultan thinks that the party’s offer would not satisfy Damascus “because IYI wants the Syrian government to accept an alliance against the PKK/YPG but for other terrorist organizations they want a ‘common approach.’ This is not acceptable for Syria.”

The view from Syria

A Syrian source with close ties to the government told The Cradle that in a closed meeting Assad assured his audience that he will not meet Erdogan prior to Turkiye’s elections.

However, according to Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, the Syrian president has also said that the level of dialogue between intelligence agencies will rise in the near future – which has, in fact, recently happened. Assad also said Syrians will continue to keep an eye open regarding the Turkish government’s intentions.

Editor-in-Chief of the Syrian newspaper Al-Watan and a close Assad confidante, Waddah Abdrabbo, wrote an editorial in a similar tone: “No pro bono gift for Erdogan.”

Abdrabbo said that the Syrians are waiting for a concrete step from Ankara. “Syrians want territorial integrity, end terrorism, and lifting sanctions,” he stressed.

Despite Erdogan’s overtures and Assad’s willingness to expand dialogue with Ankara, Syria is cautious about her neighbor’s intentions and does not intend to play a hand in Erdogan’s electoral ambitions.

Rapprochement scenarios

For both Turkiye’s ruling AKP and its opposition, any possible Syrian-Turkish reconciliation process must include a settlement on the Syrian refugee problem. One of the ostensible reasons for all Turkish ground offensives into Syria after 2016 has been the safe repatriation of the Syrian refugees.

However, Erozan is doubtful about Assad’s intentions: “He may not accept all refugees to his country.” When reminded that Syrian refugees in Lebanon had already started to return, he stated that Lebanon is a different case.

IYI’s negotiation plans depend on Damascus’ signals. Last September, the party convened a “Migration Doctrine”conference and announced that through negotiations with the Syrian government and the participation of the EU, refugees will be able to return to Syria. If the plan does not go ahead, then Turkiye would take matters into its own hands and create a safe zone in Syria. It appears, on the surface, to be a carbon copy of Erdogan’s post-2016 policies.

While it is inevitable that high level negotiations will eventually take place between Syria and Turkiye, Damascus’ primary condition will always remain the withdrawal of Turkish troops. If a future Turkish government can view this condition as negotiable, things can rapidly improve on the rapprochement front.

For Syria, reclaiming territory from Turkiye, but also from the US-backed SDF, is of utmost importance. Securing Turkish cooperation against the SDF (and the US) would be a huge achievement for Damascus. However, the Syrian leadership evaluates the US presence in Syria as ephemeral. Therefore, cutting a deal with a powerful neighbor like Turkey is more important than to drive out American forces first.

Second, although the SDF poses a mutual threat for both countries, Syria and Turkiye have starkly different views on Islamist groups. Regaining Idlib, the northern Syrian governorate which remains the last bastion of extremist militants, is not just a question of territorial integrity for Syria – it also illustrates continued Turkish support for armed Islamist militias. Therefore, Ankara severing ties with those takfiri-salafist groups could provide an important basis for high level negotiations.

Whether the AKP or its opposition can provide this outcome is doubtful. Erdogan is not a reliable partner for Damascus for obvious reasons, but the opposition coalition also hosts some dubious figures, such as Erdogan’s former foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, a champion of the catastrophic Syrian war.

For now, both countries choose to maintain their mutual talks at a certain level, and it seems unlikely that the Syrian question will be resolved until after the Turkish elections.

U.S. Sanctions Are Killing Syrians and Are a Human Rights Violation

December 22, 2022


Steven Sahiounie

About 12 million Syrians are facing a deadly winter without heating fuel, gasoline for transportation, and dark houses each evening.

Damascus is now bitterly cold and is soon to be blanketed with snow. About 12 million Syrians are facing a deadly winter without heating fuel, gasoline for transportation, and dark houses each evening without electricity. Aleppo, Homs, and Hama are also extremely cold all winter.

Imagine being ill and having to walk to the doctor or hospital. The ambulances in Syria will now respond only to the most life-threatening calls because they must conserve gasoline, or face running out entirely. Gasoline on the black market costs Syrians an equivalent of 50 U.S. dollars for a tank of 20-liter fuel.

Sanctions against Syria were imposed by the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, the Arab League, as well as other countries beginning in 2011. The sanctions were aimed at overthrowing the Syrian government, by depriving it of its resources. U.S.-sponsored ‘regime change’ has failed but the sanctions were never lifted.

For 12 years the U.S. and EU have been imposing economic sanctions on Syria which have deprived the Syrians of their dignity and human rights.

New UN report asks for lifting sanctions on Syria

UN Special Rapporteur on human rights, Alena Douhan, urged sanctions to be lifted against Syria, warning that they were adding to the suffering of the Syrian people since 2011.

“I am struck by the pervasiveness of the human rights and humanitarian impact of the unilateral coercive measures imposed on Syria and the total economic and financial isolation of a country whose people are struggling to rebuild a life with dignity, following the decade-long war,” Douhan said.

After a 12-day visit to Syria, Douhan said the majority of Syria’s population was currently living below the poverty line, with shortages of food, water, electricity, shelter, cooking and heating fuel, transportation, and healthcare. She spoke of the continuing exodus of educated and skilled Syrians in response to the economic hardship of living at home.

Douhan reported that the majority of infrastructure was destroyed or damaged, and the sanctions imposed on oil, gas, electricity, trade, construction, and engineering have diminished the national income, which has prevented economic recovery and reconstruction.

The sanctions prevent payments from being received from banks, and deliveries from foreign manufacturers. Serious shortages in medicine and medical equipment have plagued hospitals and clinics. The lack of a water treatment system in Aleppo caused a severe Cholera outbreak in late summer, and the system cannot be bought, installed, or maintained under the current U.S. sanctions against Syria.

Douhan said, “I urge the immediate lifting of all unilateral sanctions that severely harm human rights and prevent any efforts for early recovery, rebuilding, and reconstruction.”

U.S. sanctions are not effective

In 1998, Richard Haass wrote, ‘Economic Sanctions: Too Much of a Bad Thing’. He cautioned U.S. foreign policymakers that sanctions alone are ineffective when the aims are large, or the time is short. The overthrow of the Syrian government is a massive aim, and the sanctions did not accomplish that goal.

Haass predicted that sanctions could cause economic distress and migration. In the summer of 2015 about half a million Syrians walked through Europe as economic migrants and were taken in primarily by Germany.

There is a moral imperative to stop using sanctions as a foreign policy tool because innocent people are affected, while the sanctions have failed.

The U.S. steals Syrian oil, and will not allow imported oil to arrive

According to the U.S. government, the sanctions on Syria “prohibits new investments in Syria by U.S. persons, prohibits the exportation or sale of services to Syria by U.S. persons, prohibits the importation of petroleum or petroleum products of Syrian origin, and prohibits U.S. persons from involvement in transactions involving Syrian petroleum or petroleum products.”

There is a waiver that can be requested from the Department of Commerce, to circumvent the sanctions; however, it only applies to sending items to the terrorist-occupied area of Idlib. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham was the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria and is the only terrorist group now holding territory in Syria.

On October 22, the media Energy World reported the U.S. occupation forces had smuggled 92 tankers and trucks of Syrian oil and wheat stolen from northeastern Syria to U.S. bases in Iraq. The theft is ongoing and continuous.

The U.S. has partnered with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which is a Kurdish militia that has a political wing following the communist ideology begun by the PKK’s Abdullah Ocalan. President Trump ordered the U.S. military to remain to occupy northeastern Syria and he ordered the U.S. soldiers there to steal the Syrian oil so to prevent the Syrian people in the rest of the country from benefiting from the gasoline and electricity produced from the wells.

The Syrian Oil Ministry said in August that the U.S. forces were stealing 80 percent of Syria’s oil production, causing direct and indirect losses of about 107.1 billion to Syria’s oil and gas industry.

Because the Damascus government is deprived of the oil its wells produce, it is forced to depend on costly imported oil, usually from Iran. The U.S. routinely commandeers Iranian tankers, such as the incident recently when the U.S. Navy took a tanker hostage off the coast of Greece on its way to Syria but was eventually released by Greece.

Gasoline shortage

The government has instituted a three-day weekend for schools and civil offices, as well as suspended sports events to save fuel.

Maurice Haddad, Director of the General Company for Internal Transport in Damascus, told the al-Watan newspaper that the government has set stricter diesel quotas, leading to fewer daily bus services.

Athar-Press news website reported that several bakeries in Damascus have had to shut down because of the lack of fuel.

Fuel is needed to generate electricity in Syria, and the lack of domestic or imported fuel means most homes in Syria have about one hour of electricity at several intervals each day, and the amount is diminishing daily.

Sanction exemptions for Idlib and the Kurds only

The only two areas in Syria which are not under the Damascus administration are Idlib in the northwest and the U.S.-sponsored Kurdish region in the northeast. The U.S. sanctions are exempt from sending items to those two places only. But, those two places represent a small number of Syrians in comparison to the civilians across the country, and the main cities of Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, Hama, and Latakia. The U.S. makes sure the people who are against the Syrian government continue to be rewarded with supplies and reconstruction, while the millions of peaceful civilians are kept in a constant state of suffering and deprivation.

Erdogan Jails His Main Rival in the 2023 Election



Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan faces a tough re-election vote in six months.  His rival, the Mayor of Istanbul Ekrem Imamoglu, is very popular and far ahead in the polls.

Erdogan went back in time to find an obscure statement made by Imamoglu in 2019 which Erdogan used to order the Turkish courts to try Imamoglu on the charge of ‘insulting electoral officials’.

On December 14, Imamoglu was sentenced to 2 years, 7 months, and 15 days of prison, and was banned from politics.

Following his sentence, Imamoglu told his supporters, “Because this case is not a case against me. Because this case is not a party case. This case is a country case. This case is a justice case. This case is an equality case. Because we see this case as the case of leaving a strong and democratic Turkey to our children. Believe me, 2023 will be very beautiful.”

The US reaction to Erdogan’s move to rig the election

On December 15, Ned Price, US State Department Spokesperson said, “The United States is deeply troubled and disappointed by a Turkish court’s verdict against Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, sentencing him to two years and seven months in prison and banning him from political activity.  His conviction is inconsistent with respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law.  We remain gravely concerned by the continued judicial harassment of civil society, media, and political and business leaders in Turkey, including through prolonged pretrial detention, overly broad claims of support for terrorism, and criminal insult cases.

We urge the government to cease prosecutions under criminal “insult” laws, and to respect the rights and freedoms of all Turkish citizens, including by ensuring an open environment for public debate.”

The Erdogan-Biden relationship has been weak despite Turkey being an ally, a fellow NATO member, and hosting a US airbase in Incirlik.  Turkey and the US are on opposite sides in northeast Syria, and Turkey is expected to increase their attacks on the US military’s partner there, the Kurdish SDF.

Erdogan’s policies have failed

Erdogan’s polling is so low for many reasons.  From 2011 he supported the US-NATO war on Syria for regime change. The Obama plan failed, and Turkey suffered from the effects of the support for the failed US-sponsored project.

His ruling AKP party aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood united Turkey with Qatar but broke its relationship with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and UAE. He began an Islamist transformation from a secular democracy.

International terrorists were hosted by Erdogan as they transited through airports and set up headquarters in camps on the Syrian border.

In response to the terrorists battling the Syrian government, Syrian refugees who aligned themselves with the Muslim Brotherhood flooded Turkey in the millions as they sought protection under Erdogan and his Muslim Brotherhood-aligned party, AKP.  After 12 years of 3 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey, Turkish citizens have grown to hate and resent the refugees for racial, and economic reasons.

Turkey lost its biggest export market in 2012. Turkish exports to Syria represented 50% of all global Turkish exports, but in 2012 the Syrian government banned imports from Turkey because they participated in the US-NATO attack for regime change.

This huge loss to the Turkish economy began a downturn that saw the currency devalued and hyperinflation. Turkish citizens are suffering the loss of a prosperous lifestyle robbed of them by Erdogan’s failed foreign policy.

Erdogan and his close relatives have prospered as war profiteers; making money off of stolen oil, factories, and wheat, and transporting them to Turkey for resale.  Erdogan and his son sold stolen Syrian oil to the EU for $17 per barrel and sold stolen Syrian wheat to France for its croissants and Italy for its pasta.

Erdogan is low in the polls and is afraid of losing the election

Erdogan finished with the constitutional three-term limit in 2015, so he changed the constitution to allow himself more time to reign.

Cemil Cicek is a former parliamentary speaker from Erdogan’s ruling AKP, who also has served as deputy prime minister and justice minister, and is now a member of the Turkish Presidency’s High Advisory Board.

“If you decide on a one-sentence defamation claim after such a long time, and at such a critical threshold, neither the legality nor the accuracy of your decision will be convincing,” said Cicek of the Imamoglu sentence, and added “I don’t believe that it is credible either. This both harms the judiciary and a lofty concept such as justice. It will do a lot of damage to the country as well.”

Bulent Arinc, former parliamentary speaker and one of the founding members of the AKP also slammed the court’s decision on Imamoglu. “The court’s verdict is a shame and a despair for the Turkish judiciary,” Arinc said.

The Mayor of Istanbul

Ekrem Imamoglu is a Turkish businessman, building contractor, and center-left politician. First elected as Mayor of Istanbul with 4.1 million votes and won with a margin of 13,000 votes against his AKP opponent in the March 2019 mayoral election as the joint Nation Alliance candidate, but served only from April 17, 2019, until May 6, 2019, when the election was annulled on orders of Erdogan. Imamoglu was then reelected in a renewed election on June 23, 2019, by an even larger margin of 800,000 votes.

Condemning the decision in 2019, Imamoglu said “Those who canceled the election are fools.”

The opposition to Erdogan

Turkey’s six opposition parties including the CHP have formed the Nation Alliance to unite their strength against the ruling bloc AKP (Justice and Development Party) and its supporter MHP (Nationalist Movement Party). The opposition candidate for president will be determined by the leaders of six opposition parties, who are: CHP Chairman Kılıçdaroğlu, IYI Party Chairman Akşener, Future Party Chairman Davutoğlu, Democrat Party Chairman Uysal, DEVA Party Chairman Babacan, and IMM President Ekrem Imamoglu.

The opposition parties are united in their goal to defeat Erdogan

200 thousand Turkish citizens gathered in Sarachane in support of Imamoglu and protested his prison sentence. The setting of the rally was the site of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt to overthrow Erdogan’s government.

The leaders of the six opposition parties gave speeches to the crowd and stressed justice and the ultimate victory awaiting the nation.

IBB President Ekrem Imamoglu spoke to the crowd, “I will tell you: The people who run this country are sick, very sick. These are people who are allergic to the will of the nation.”

Referring to Erdogan and his nepotism and cronyism, “You manage some interest groups, elected associations, close family foundations, and some dark circles. They have established an order of waste in Istanbul and they want it to last forever. This was an order that enriched the wealth of a handful of people and hurt the people of Istanbul,” said Imamoglu.

“If 16 million Istanbulites are not equal in your eyes; If you do not see our 85 million citizens of the Republic of Turkey,” he said and added, “You showed your day to those who want to set a barrier to your will three and a half years ago and twice. You will show it again; I have no doubt. Never lose your hope.”

CHP Chairman Kilicdaroglu said “In Turkey today, no one feels safe. The rule of law is not the rule of the superiors. No one speaks to the one who has an uncle. But when a teenager tweets, there is a knock on his door early in the morning and he is taken into custody. We will finish this scene. Don’t worry. You will never, ever experience these sights again.”

Kilicdaroglu added, “This is not a 100m run. It’s a marathon, and we’ve come to the end of the marathon. After six months you will see a new Turkey. You will see a beautiful Turkey. You will see an embracing Turkey. You will see a fertile Turkey.”

IYI Party Chairman Aksener said forcefully, “Democracy is ours. The ballot box is ours.”

DEVA Party Babacan said, referring to the long reign of Erdogan, “The 3-term rule, these three terms expired in 2015.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely. 85 million is bigger than one. Turkey is bigger than one.”

Uysal, Chairman of the Democratic Party said, “May 6, 2019, is the date of a major break for Turkish democracy. It is the date when the main pillar of our democracy collapsed.”

The Chairman of the Future Party, Davutoğlu said “Yesterday, the judiciary became politicized. But our issue is above politics. We are here as six general presidents. We are in different political parties. But we all say ‘Honor’ with the same loud voice. We call it ‘fundamental rights and freedoms’. We call it the ‘democratic state of law’.

I say on behalf of 85 million democracy lovers: We are not afraid, we are not afraid, we will not be afraid. We did not bow to you, we do not bow, we will not bow. We will protect everyone’s rights, law, and justice, regardless of their political views.”

Steven Sahiounie is a two-time award-winning journalist

As US looting of Syrian oil continues, Damascus turns to protect crops

13 Dec 2022 22:05

Source: The Cradle

By Al Mayadeen English 

It is no news that the US frequently loots tankers of Syrian oil.

US looting Syrian oil

The Cradle reported on Tuesday, citing official Syrian sources, that the US smuggled a new shipment of Syrian oil from the Al-Hasakah Governorate on December 12.

According to the report, the convoy included 37 tanks carried by US military trucks and headed toward Iraq this morning via the illegal Al-Mahmudiyah border crossing in the far northeastern countryside of Syria.

Just a week ago, the US had looted 66 tankers of Syrian oil from the Jazira region and smuggled them into their occupation bases in Iraq. 

The report states that the lootings are in part fueled by an interruption of oil trafficking operations caused by Turkey’s offensive on the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – which are mainly situated in oil-rich regions – in the north.

They may have increased since Turkey began its offensive, but as already known, the lootings have been ongoing for years.

A week ago, reports indicated that Turkish airstrikes targeting the SDF’s main sources of income included two US-occupied oil fields.

According to an investigation by The Cradle, convoys pass weekly back and forth through illegal crossings. These convoys are often found to be guarded by US warplanes or helicopters.

Shepherds in the area reportedly confirmed these claims as they witness the looting and smuggling of oil to Al-Harir military site in Erbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR); a region that is likewise reputed for being a recruitment hub for western spy agencies.

The investigation further reveals that the oil is used to support the activities of the Kurdish Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), as reported by The Cradle.

The sprees also serve the US in maintaining a strong foothold in the region between Baghdad and Damascus, according to columnist Firas Al-Shoufi who conducted the investigation.

On another note, the Lebanese news outlet Al-Ahed News revealed earlier today that the Syrian government is working to protect vast wheat fields in the Al-Jazira region from being plundered or damaged by US troops.

According to the report, the US occupation has been offering adulterated grains to farmers claiming they are of better quality.

But farmers were quick to realize that the seeds had severely damaged their soil as they were found to contain a “high percentage of infection with nematodes.”

The Syrian government sought to respond to this situation by launching a program that sells wheat and barley seeds at affordable prices. 

In a tweet on December 12, the USAID agency blamed the climate for the damage, in an attempt to downplay the US occupation role in damaging Syria’s soil.

What is the US doing in Syria?

Besides being an occupation that backs armed groups for its own operations and agenda in the region, the US occupation forces continue to steal Syrian oil by smuggling it from their bases in Syria to their bases in Iraq.

Convoys of tens of vehicles, including tankers loaded with stolen oil from oil fields occupied by US forces in Syria, are frequently seen crossing toward northern Iraq, in addition to trucks loaded with military equipment.

The US interference in the crisis-stricken Middle Eastern country continues to be exposed, from occupation to military agenda and the theft of oil.

Plundering Syria’s oil resources & depriving Syrians of resources

It is noteworthy that Syrian state media has accused over and over again the US and the so-called “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) armed groups of occupying areas in the vicinity of oil-rich fields, smuggling resources to Iraq, and then siphoning them out.

The United States has been for years supporting SDF militias against Damascus, and the US-backed forces are currently occupying parts of the provinces of Al-Hasakah, Deir Ezzor, and Raqqa, where the largest Syrian oil and gas fields are located.

The actions carried out by the United States constitute state piracy with the aim of plundering Syria’s oil resources and depriving the Syrians of their own resources amid a harsh economic situation caused largely by the occupiers, the Americans themselves.

Read more: Syria: sanctions and oil looting cause fuel shortages, 4-day work week

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استراتيجية الأسْرَلة… هكذا وقع الأكراد في الشّرك

الخميس 8 كانون الأول 2022

وليد شرارة  

ترسّخت قناعة في دول المنطقة، بأن الغرب أصبح يعتمد «الورقة الكردية» كوسيلة لزعزعة استقرارها وتهديد وحدتها (أ ف ب)

«نحن حلفاء أميركا الأكثر إخلاصاً في سوريا. لا تنسونا». يعكس هذا العنوان، الذي اختاره مظلوم عبدي، قائد «قوات سوريا الديموقراطية»، لمقاله المنشور في «واشنطن بوست» بتاريخ 3 من الشهر الحالي، المنطق العميق الذي بات يحكم الخيارات الإستراتيجية لقيادات التنظيمات السياسية التي تدّعي تمثيل الأكراد في سوريا والعراق وإيران وتركيا. لا ريب في أن خيار التحوّل إلى قوة وكيلة للتحالف الأميركي – الغربي – الإسرائيلي، تشارك في حروبه المتصاعدة، الحامية أو الهجينة، ضدّ بلدان الإقليم، في مقابل دعمه لتوجّهاتها الانفصالية، لا يلقى إجماعاً البتّة في أوساط الرأي العام الكردي ونخبه السياسية والثقافية. قطاعات معتبرة منهم تعارض مثل هذا الخيار الانتحاري لأنه سيضع الأكراد في مواجهة بقية شعوب المنطقة، وليس الأنظمة السياسية فحسب، ولأنه يضرب عرض الحائط بوشائج الأخوة التاريخية والثقافية – الاجتماعية التي تجمع بينهم وبين هذه الشعوب. إضافة إلى ذلك، هناك الكثير من المعطيات عن وجود خلافات داخل بعض الأحزاب السياسية المشار إليها سابقاً – «حزب العمال الكردستاني» على سبيل المثال -، حول وجاهة خيار الاندراج في إستراتيجية الغرب ضدّ المنطقة، أي أداء وظيفة مطابقة لتلك التي أقيم لأجلها الكيان الصهيوني، انطلاقاً من اعتبارات واقعية في الأساس تذكّر بأن الوجود العسكري الغربي فيها محكوم بالزوال مهما طال أمده، على عكس دول وشعوب المنطقة الباقية على رغم الأزمات التي تعصف بها راهناً.

من المفترض أن يدفع إدراك حقائق التاريخ والجغرافيا، القوى السياسية الحريصة فعلاً على مصالح الشعب الكردي، إلى البحث عن تسويات وتوافقات مع بلدان المنطقة تضمن حقوق هذا الشعب، وتزيل جميع المظالم وأشكال التمييز التي تعرّض لها، من دون تهديد وحدة الكيانات الوطنية القائمة. فعلى الرغم من اختلاف طبيعة أنظمة الحكم في بلدان كسوريا والعراق وإيران وتركيا، ومن الخلافات وحتى الصراعات التي تدور أحياناً بين بعضها البعض، ترسّخت قناعة في أوساط قياداتها ورأيها العام، بأن الغرب أصبح يعتمد «الورقة الكردية» كوسيلة رئيسة من وسائل زعزعة استقرارها وتهديد وحدتها الترابية. لا يعني الكلام المتقدّم رفع المسؤولية عن الأنظمة المتعاقبة في الإقليم عمّا عاناه الأكراد من اضطهاد وتنكيل في حالات عديدة، لكن النقاش ينبغي أن يتمحور حول كيفية توفير الشروط اللازمة لحلول جذرية دائمة تسمح بتغيير الواقع القائم. أمّا الخيار الآخر، أي الاستزلام للغرب المنحدر، والذي تأخذ به التنظيمات الكردية المسلّحة في البلدان الـ4 المشار إليها، فإنه كفيل بتأجيج النزاع بينها وبين هذه البلدان، وحمْل الأخيرة على المزيد من التعاون في ما بينها، للتصدّي لسياسة التخريب والتدمير الغربية وتصفية أدواتها، مع ما قد يترتّب على ذلك من أثمان تدفعها الشعوب، بما فيها الشعب الكردي.

مَن يراهن على «الوفاء» الأميركي مقابل ما قدّمه من خدمات، سيندم ولو بعد حين

فكرة استغلال التناقضات الإثنية والطائفية في المنطقة لإضعاف دولها المركزية بعد الاستقلالات، إسرائيلية في الأساس، ومثّلت جزءاً لا يتجزّأ من «الاستراتيجية الطرفية» التي اتّبعها الكيان الصهيوني منذ خمسينيات وستينيات القرن الماضي، والمرتكزة على السعي للتحالف مع دول الجوار غير العربية، ومع من صنّفهم «أقليات» في داخل البلدان العربية. يشير الصحافي الأميركي، جوناثان رندال، في كتابه الهام «أمّة في شقاق»، إلى أن إسرائيل أقامت علاقات في بداية الستينيات مع الملا مصطفى البرزاني، رئيس «الحزب الديموقراطي الكردستاني»، وقدّمت له دعماً عسكرياً ومالياً كبيراً مع انفجار النزاع بين قواته وبين الجيش العراقي في تلك الفترة، وأن هذه العلاقات شهدت تطوّراً مستمرّاً فيما بعد. غير أن المنعطف الحقيقي في تاريخ توظيف القضية الكردية، كان الدعم النوعي والمتعدّد الأبعاد الذي وفّرته الولايات المتحدة للحركة الكردية في العراق عام 1991، بعد ما سُمّي بـ«حرب تحرير الكويت»، بدءاً بالحظر الجوّي الذي فرضته فوق كردستان، وأتاح تحوّل الأخير إلى إقليم خارج عن سيطرة الدولة العراقية. لقد أشرفت واشنطن على إنشاء شبه دولة كردية في شمال العراق تنامت قوّتها وقدراتها مع مرور الزمن، خاصة بعد الغزو الأميركي عام 2003، والذي كان مقدّمة لإعادة صياغة «الشرق الأوسط» على أسس طائفية وإثنية.

زمرة المحافظين الجدد الصهيونية، التي وقفت خلف هذا المشروع، حاولت تكرار ما جرى بعد اجتياح جيوش الغرب للإقليم إثر الحرب العالمية الأولى، عندما تمّ تقسيمه وزرع إسرائيل في قلبه. اعتبر هؤلاء أن الكيان الكردي الناشئ سيضطلع بمهام وظيفية شبيهة بتلك التي قام بها الكيان الإسرائيلي في سياق عملية التقسيم الجديدة التي خطّطوا لها. وفي الحقيقة، ومن منظور التنظيمات القومية الكردية المسلّحة في البلدان الأخرى كإيران وتركيا، وفي مرحلة متأخّرة سوريا، أضحى هذا الإقليم «قصّة نجاح»، ونموذجاً يُحتذى، وملجأً لبعضها، كالمجموعات الكردية الإيرانية أو التركية، تستخدمه كقاعدة خلفية لعملياتها في تركيا وإيران. التناقضات السياسية والأيديولوجية بين بعض تلك التنظيمات، كـ»حزب العمال الكردستاني» و»الحزب الديموقراطي»، والتي أدت إلى صدامات دموية أحياناً، لم تَحُل دون استبطان الأوّل، وغيره من المجموعات المسلّحة الكردية، لاعتقاد مفاده أن النجاح في تحقيق أهدافها منوط بمدى قدرتها على نسج تحالف مع الولايات المتحدة والغرب. ومن الجدير ذكره، هنا، أن حزب «بيجاك»، الفرع الإيراني لـ»حزب العمال» الناشط ضدّ تركيا، باشر عمله المسلّح ضدّ إيران عام 2004، أي سنة بعد غزو العراق، وأن العديد من قادته وعناصره، كإلهام أحمد مثلاً، انضمّوا فيما بعد إلى «قوات سوريا الديمقراطية»، وساهموا في الدفع نحو توثيق الصلات مع الأميركيين، ومع الإسرائيليين، كما اتّضح في فضيحة تهريب النفط السوري، بعد توقيع عقد لهذه الغاية بين أحمد ورجل الأعمال الإسرائيلي موتي كاهانا (راجع: نفط الشمال السوري بيد إسرائيل!، الأخبار، 15 تموز 2019).

لقد أدّى غزو العراق إلى انتشار مواقع عسكرية ومراكز تدريب للمجموعات المسلّحة الكردية الإيرانية في كردستان، تشنّ منها هجمات على إيران برعاية ومساندة أميركية وإسرائيلية. وقد اتّضح مع الأحداث التي تشهدها إيران أخيراً، حجم الدور الذي تضطلع به هذه المجموعات، وشبكاتها العاملة داخل أراضي الجمهورية الإسلامية. أما «قوّات سوريا الديمقراطية»، فهي استغلّت الحرب الدولية – الإقليمية ضدّ سوريا، ودورها كقوة رديفة للقوات الأميركية في الحرب على «داعش»، لتسيطر على مساحات واسعة من الشرق السوري، وأسهمت في استراتيجية واشنطن لحرمان الدولة السورية من مواردها. استلهمت جميع تلك المجموعات «التجربة الكردية العراقية»، وأهمّ دروسها هو الاندراج في الأجندة الأميركية والسعي إلى بلوغ الغايات الخاصة في إطارها. هي حرصت أيضاً على الإفادة من التناقضات بين دول الإقليم، والتقاطع أحياناً مع بعضها ضدّ بعضها الآخر، للاحتفاظ بمكاسبها وتوسيع هامش مناورتها. لكن المستجدّات المرتبطة بتداعيات الحرب في أوكرانيا على السياق الجيوسياسي الإقليمي، وما نراه من جهود روسية للتقريب بين دمشق وأنقرة، ومن اعتدال في نبرة المعارضة الروسية والإيرانية لتدخّل عسكري تركي ضدّ «قسد» في سوريا، ومن تزامن في توظيف «الورقة الكردية» في إيران وفي تركيا (تفجير إسطنبول)، جميعها عوامل قد تفضي إلى تقاطع أكبر بين دول الإقليم في مواجهة التنظيمات الانفصالية الكردية. مَن يراهن على «الوفاء» الأميركي مقابل ما قدّمه من خدمات، سيندم ولو بعد حين.

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مع تصعيد إيران حملتها ضدّ الأحزاب الكردية المعارضة في شمال العراق، وتلويح تركيا بعملية عسكرية جديدة ضدّ القوى الكردية في شمال سوريا وشرقها، وتتالي الأزمات التي يواجهها حُكم آل برزاني في كردستان، تعود القضية الكردية إلى الواجهة، مُجلّية عقم الرهانات التي لجأت إليها القيادات الكردية على مرّ السنوات الماضية. صحيح أن أبناء هذه القومية عانوا مظالم تاريخية في بعض مناطق انتشارهم، وصحيح أيضاً أن عملية دمجهم في إطار الدولة الوطنية فشلت في كثير من الأحيان، إلّا أن نخبهم وجدت في ذلك مبرّراً للتحوّل إلى مطيّة للولايات المتحدة لتنفيذ مشاريعها في المنطقة، والانخراط في لعبة محفوفة بالمخاطر مع العدوّ الإسرائيلي، عبر تقديم منصّة سهلة للأخير يستطيع من خلالها ضرب القوى والدول المناهضة له. هكذا، كثّرت القوى الكردية أعداءها، ساحبةً الأكراد خلفها نحو حلم تدرك أنه مستحيل التحقق، ومُراكِمةً في رصيدها المزيد من الخيبات والخسارات، إلى حدّ يَصلح معه قول الشاعر الكردي، حسن محمد، في قصيدته السقوط: «وإلى الآن ما زلت أسقط…»

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Time Running Out to Save the Kurds in Syria


Steven Sahiounie

The Kurds in northeastern Syria have established their semi-autonomous administration which they call “Rojava”. They are now under threat of an increased invasion and occupation by Turkish ground troops, which could end in ethnic cleansing and mass casualties.

Turkish President Erdogan has demanded for years that the US must stop supporting the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) and their armed wing the Peoples Protection Units (YPG) which serve as the army of “Rojava”.

Although Turkey and the US are partners in NATO, and long-term allies, with a US military base in Turkey, the two sides have diverged sharply over the issue of the Kurds establishing an administration independent of Damascus in northeast Syria.

The Turkish view the YPG as an offshoot of the PKK, which is an internationally outlawed terrorist group, responsible for about 40,000 deaths in Turkey over three decades.  Yet, the US partnered with the SDF and YPG in their joint attack to eradicate ISIS from Syria.

The Kurds have never been the majority of the population in northeastern Syria; however, they have a very sizeable community there, and in recent years they have carried out ethnic cleansing in the region with Syrian Arabs and Syrian Christian populations having been displaced.

The administration of “Rojava” is carried out by officials, such as Ilham Ahmed and General Mazloom Kobane, who follow the communist political ideology of the founder of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan.  Despite the American hatred of communism, the 30 years of US combat in Vietnam to eradicate communism there, and the current US antagonism with communist China, Washington, and the Pentagon put their hands firmly with the communist leadership of “Rojava”.

Syria is 10,000 years old and is home to multiple religions, and ethnicities. The Kurds are only one of many ethnicities, and before the outbreak of the conflict in Syria in 2011, the Kurds were full Syrian citizens with legal rights under the secular and socialist government in Damascus.  The current narrative, used to defend their separatist aims, is that the Kurds were oppressed by the Damascus central government.

The US-NATO attack on Syria for ‘regime change’ beginning in 2011 presented an opportunity for the Kurds to use the chaos and destruction carried out by the terrorists following Radical Islam, to establish an Islamic government in Damascus.  The terrorists attacking Syria were funded by oil-rich Arab Gulf countries, but the weapons, training, and logistics were supported by Washington through offices of the CIA in Turkey, which were finally shut down in 2017 by President Trump.  With the US military and intelligence services already on the ground in Syria, the Kurds presented themselves as a military partner and fulfilled the long-term goal of the US to split Syria into smaller units, following the age-old military rule of “divide and conquer”.   Idlib was divided from Damascus by the Al Qaeda branch in Syria, Jibhat al-Nusra, now branded as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).  HTS is supported by Turkey and the UN and other charities feed the terrorists, their families, and other civilians living there.  The northeastern region was divided from Damascus by the Kurdish administration of “Rojava”, which is supported by the US.

The US partnered with the Kurds in ‘Rojava’, but never promised them support in their ultimate goal of a homeland for the Kurds.  The US has consistently told the Kurds they need to seek to repair their relationship with Damascus to protect themselves from the threat of extermination at the hands of the Turkish government, and the HTS which are mercenaries for Turkey in Syria.  The US has not had any plan to solve the suffering of the Syrian people and allow them to repair homes and lives. Instead, over the past years, the US has supported a status quo in Syria with the US, Turkey, Russia, and Iran all acting in various regions, but without a unified plan for recovery from a decade of war.  The current US policy is to keep US-EU sanctions in place which prevent Syrian civilians from recovering.

Syria was self-sufficient in oil resources and wheat production. The Kurds in ‘Rojava’ stopped that by seizing control militarily and occupying those areas in cooperation with the US military occupation forces. Now, the main oil field of Al Omar and Conoco are producing oil which is shipped in tankers by the US Army to Iraq and processed in Erbil, in the Kurdistan Region (KRI), an autonomous region in Iraq comprising the four Kurdish-majority governorates.

The Baghdad government of Iraq has asked the US military to leave, but the US refused to end their occupation of Iraq and Syria.  The US is directly connected to the Kurds in both countries. In Syria, the US objective is to prevent the Damascus government from benefitting from its oil resources, which has kept the Syrian people without electricity, home heating fuel, and gasoline. Some homes are without electricity, and others across Syria receive from one to four hours per day.

The largest wheat fields in Syria are under the occupation of the Kurds and the wheat is used for local consumption in “Rojava” and the rest is sold to the European Union or other buyers.  Damascus has said it is running low on wheat supplies and cannot import. During the conflict years, the terrorists stole huge wheat supplies in Syria. They trucked them to Turkey, where Erdogan’s government re-sold the stolen wheat to the EU to produce French croissants and Italian pasta.

With the suffering of the civilians in Iraq and Syria, it is no wonder the people hold intense hatred towards the US.  This hatred of Washington is not considered by the White House and Capitol Hill as American lawmakers are insulated in the hubris of a super-power, with no thought of generations to come, or the crumbling demise of the American Empire.

The world is watching violence and deaths in Iran in what appears to be an increasingly popular uprising against the Islamic government.  The young woman who died was Kurdish and her death has sparked unrest in the western Kurdish region of Iran, which shares a border with the Kurdish region in Iraq, which in turn shares its border with “Rojava” in Syria.  Looking at a map, we can see a straight line through northeast Syria, to northern Iraq and culminating in the west of Iran.  The Kurds in Iran now have weapons, which were smuggled into Iran from the Kurds in Iraq, and the US military partners in “Rojava” in Syria.  The increasing armed uprising in Iran will need more weapons and they will be supported by the US which has long sought a ‘regime change’ in Iran.

Israel has offices in Erbil and has conducted business openly with the Kurdish administration there. The Israeli offices there have come under attack presumably by Iranian forces. Iran has long been viewed by Israel as a prime threat. The recent change of government in Israel to an extremist right-wing alliance may produce increasing support for weapons smuggled from Erbil to Iran to fuel the revolution.

Turkey and Syria have a common enemy, the Kurds.  Both countries are opposed to Kurdish independence, and both want to see the US break their alliance with the Kurds in Syria. With the new opportunity for ‘regime change’ in Iran, both Israel and their ally the US will want to stay on the ground to support the transfer of weapons into Iran through Iraq.  Turkey may invade northeast Syria massively to upset the US-imposed status quo. Turkey may find old friends in Damascus to shore up their southern flank once the bombs start falling.  The negotiations to save the Kurds in “Rojava” may see General Mazloom Abdi in Damascus asking for salvation at the same table as Turkey.

Steven Sahiounie is a two-time award-winning journalist and political commentator.

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China slams US stationing in Syria, oil and grain looting as illegal

December 2, 2022

Source: News wesbites

By Al Mayadeen English 

The Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson slams US hypocrisy, accusing it of continuously violating international laws and rules while claiming that it advocates “the rules-based international order.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian at a press conference in Beijing, March 4 (Kyodo)

The Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, opened fire on the US’ illegal presence in Syria, shedding light on the continuous US looting of Syrian oil and grain and slamming the US occupation’s missile attacks on the country. 

In a press conference on December 2, 2022, addressing worldwide media outlets, Lijian said, “The US’s stationing of troops in Syria is illegal. The US’s smuggling of oil and grain from Syria is illegal. The US’s missile attack against Syria is also illegal.”

Read more: US reviews Israeli plans for strikes against Iranian targets in Syria

Answering a question by the Chinese Shenzhen TV, whereby they asked the spokesperson to comment on the fact that “on the morning of December 1, the US forces sent 54 oil-laden tankers from northeastern Syria to its bases in northern Iraq, the latest shipment of stolen Syrian oil to be delivered,” Lijian said he noted the relevant reports, slamming the US occupation forces for leaving the Syrian people struggling to survive an anticipated harsh winter, as they continue to loot their oil and grain.

The Chinese diplomat also highlighted the financial losses of the continuous US looting and smuggling of Syrian oil, saying, “According to the official data from the Syrian government, between 2011 and the first half of 2022, the US’s smuggling activities have cost Syria more than $100 billion of losses.”

According to Lijian, the US keeps violating international laws and rules, contrary to its claims that it advocates what it calls “the rules-based international order.”

“When the US talks about ‘rules’, it is often just trying to find a pretext for serving its own interest and perpetuating its hegemony,” he stressed.

Read more: US occupation loots most of Syria’s oil: Ministry

The Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson quoted former French Ambassador to the US Gérard Araud as saying that “when the Americans basically want to do whatever they want, including when it’s against international law, as they define it, they do it. And that’s the vision that the rest of the world has of this order.”

“We believe the international community is not blind to this and will treat it with vigilance,” Lijian said in a hopeful tone that some action might be done regarding the US aggression on Syria.

What is the US doing in Syria?

Besides being an occupation that backs armed groups for its own operations and agenda in the region, the US occupation forces continue to steal Syrian oil by smuggling it from their bases in Syria to their bases in Iraq.

Convoys of tens of vehicles, including tankers loaded with stolen oil from oil fields occupied by US forces in Syria, are frequently seen crossing toward northern Iraq, in addition to trucks loaded with military equipment.

The US interference in the crisis-stricken Middle Eastern country continues to be exposed, from occupation to military agenda and the theft of oil.

Plundering Syria’s oil resources & depriving Syrians of resources

It is noteworthy that Syrian state media has accused over and over again the US and the so-called “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) armed groups of occupying areas in the vicinity of oil-rich fields, smuggling resources to Iraq, and then siphoning them out.

The United States has been for years supporting SDF militias against Damascus, and the US-backed forces are currently occupying parts of the provinces of Al-Hasakah, Deir Ezzor, and Raqqa, where the largest Syrian oil and gas fields are located.

The actions carried out by the United States constitute state piracy with the aim of plundering Syria’s oil resources and depriving the Syrians of their own resources amid a harsh economic situation caused largely by the occupiers, the Americans themselves.

Read more: China tells US to stop plundering Syria

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Russia Increases Military Presence in Northern Syria as Turkey Sends Reinforcements to the Border

December 01 2022

Russian military police accompany SAA troops into Deraa al-Balad. (Photo credit: @syrseal44)

Moscow has been mediating talks between Damascus and the Kurdish groups present on the border with Turkiye

ByNews Desk- 

On 30 November, Russia reportedly sent reinforcements to the Tal Rifaat region, about 15 kilometers from the Turkish border. The region is under the control of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Moscow’s move is a response to a looming Turkish ground invasion, which seems more likely after Turkiye sent reinforcements to the Syrian border and advised the Syrian National Army (SNA) to prepare for an attack.

According to The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Russian forces have increased their presence in Kurdish-controlled areas since Turkiye launched a series of airstrikes on targets in northern Syria and Iraq in response to a bomb attack in Istanbul.

Residents from Tal Rifaat reported that Russian reinforcements have arrived and set up new barricades between Kurdish and pro-Turkish areas in the region. According to Al-Arabiya news, Tal Rifaat, which is controlled by Kurdish forces, is surrounded on one side by the Syrian army, and on the other by Turkish-backed opposition forces.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) also stated that Russian forces had consolidated their presence at the Menagh military airport close to Tal Rifaat, controlled by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).

SOHR also noted that the Russians are reinforcing their forces near Kobani. “The purpose of these reinforcements may be to hinder or delay the Turkish military operation,” SOHR security official Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

Anonymous Turkish sources also revealed to Al-Quds Al-Arabi on 30 November that serious talks mediated by Russia are taking place to ensure the withdrawal of the Kurdish units and the deployment of the Syrian Arab Army on the border with Turkey, in an effort to prevent the Turkish ground offensive.

Russian military officials have reportedly been meeting with senior SDF commanders on a regular basis over the past few days.

A Russian military base was reportedly struck on 23 November in the latest wave of Turkish air strikes in northeast Syria, according to a Kurdish official.

The air strike, which targeted a base in the Hasakah province, reportedly killed one Kurdish fighter belonging to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and wounded three others, said SDF chief Farhad Chami.

The Turkish military struck nearly 500 Kurdish targets in Iraq and Syria since it began a series of airstrikes as part of Operation Claw-Sword, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in a press conference, according to The New Arab.

On the other hand, on 22 November, the White House National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, John Kirbyendorsed Turkey’s attacks on northern Syria, saying the country has a right to defend itself.

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Why is Russia Set to Tolerate Türkey’s Attempt to Launch a ‘Small, Victorious War’ in Syria?


David Narmania

As Erdogan reportedly plans his own “special military operation,” Moscow has good reasons to value a stable partnership with Ankara

Earlier this week, Reuters quoted senior officials in Ankara as saying that the Turkish army had completed preparations for a ground incursion in Syria.

“It won’t take long for the operation to begin,” one of the agency’s sources was quoted as saying in the article. “It depends only on the president giving the word.”

Strictly speaking, news of Türkiye’s potential offensive is a bit delayed. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced plans for it back in May, when it was supposed to start any day, but never did. The main goal Ankara has declared is to fight against Kurdish self-defense units, which, according to the Turkish side, are a very serious security threat.

However, in six months of waiting for strikes against the Syrian Kurds, Türkiye has managed to conduct a ground operation against the Iraqi Kurds and even almost started a war with Greece and Cyprus (the probability of this is certainly low, but in 2022 such scenarios are not impossible.)

The Turks even managed to carry out an air operation against the Kurds in Syria – the reason for this was a terrorist attack in Istanbul, which Türkiye blamed on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (KWP). After the tragedy, Turkish authorities looked a bit like a shipwreck in a storm: they indirectly blamed not only the KWP for what had happened. Damascus and – remarkably – Washington were also dragged in into the frame.

The allegation was that the mastermind of the attack, Syrian citizen Ahlam al-Bashir was, according to Turkish security forces, trained by American instructors in territory controlled by the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

In fact, that is why a joint base of the Western coalition and the SDF, where there was also US military personnel, was among the 89 targets of the strikes. Interestingly, the White House was not particularly outraged.

The forthcoming “ground operation” in northern Syria will be nothing new for Turkish troops – Ankara conducts them regularly, declaring the successful completion of its goals each time, but for some reason, it has failed to completely eliminate the “Kurdish threat.”

Nevertheless, there are many reasons for postponing such an event.

First and foremost, Erdogan wants to avoid clashing with Russian interests: Moscow is a reliable partner to President Bashar Assad, and its support has been pretty much the key factor that has allowed the Syrian leader to remain in power.

The Turkish president’s statements in this regard are very revealing: last Sunday he said that he did not rule out the restoration and normalization of relations with Damascus in the future.

There is no room for hard feelings in politics,” Erdogan explained.

Formally, of course, any operation would be a violation of Syrian sovereignty but, Assad’s forces have little control over the territories in question. At the same time, however, Russian officials have also warned their Turkish counterparts that such a move would hardly contribute to stability in the region.

These arguments are unlikely to calm the fervor of the Sultan – the fact is that the military campaign in this case is a prologue to his re-election campaign. Next year Türkiye will choose its next president, and there is no success to boast of in the domestic arena, where a prolonged economic crisis accompanied by record inflation creates fertile ground for the opposition. Erdogan is therefore forced to compensate for the lack of bread by looking to capitalize on pride in his country.

But even here he tries to be careful, only gently tugging at America’s beard. Take, for example, the epic tale of Sweden and Finland’s bid to join NATO.

Here it is important to note the context: Stockholm recently gained a new government, and Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson commenting in parliament on the bombing of Kurdish formations in Syria, stated that “Türkiye has the right to self-defense.” He also touched upon another important issue, which Ankara considers crucial for accepting new members into the US-led military bloc: Kristersson stressed that Sweden should not be a safe haven for terrorist organizations. Apparently, he was referring to KWP supporters, whose extradition is demanded by Ankara. His predecessor, Magdalena Andersson, was far less accommodating on this issue.

Of course, time is on Erdogan’s side here, which explains the message to Scandinavian politicians from his Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who said that Sweden and Finland still have hurdles to jump before joining NATO.

The Turkish president is very good at bargaining, and even when conducting actions that run counter to the interests of his partners – both the US and Russia – he skillfully uses attractive concessions to smooth things over.

The main thing in this situation is to understand that Moscow and Ankara are not allies, but partners and neighbors with many overlapping interests that need to be considered. Something which is part of the multipolar world that both countries hope to help build.

And of course, an independent, and at least relatively stable Türkiye is a far better option for Russia than one obedient to Washington.

Operation Claw-Sword: Erdogan’s big new game in Syria

November 27, 2022

by Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted

Wily Sultan is caught between his electorate, which favors a Syria invasion, and his extremely nuanced relations with Russia

There’s another Special Military Operation on the market. No, it’s not Russia “denazifying” and “demilitarizing” Ukraine – and, therefore, it’s no wonder that this other operation is not ruffling feathers across the collective West.

Operation Claw-Sword was launched by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as revenge – highly emotional and concerted – for Kurdish terrorist attacks against Turkish citizens. Some of the missiles that Ankara launched in this aerial campaign carried the names of Turkish victims.

The official Ankara spin is that the Turkish Armed Forces fully achieved their “air operation objectives” in the north of Syria and in Iraqi Kurdistan, and made those responsible for the terror attack against civilians in Istanbul’s Istiklal pedestrian street pay in “multitudes.”

And this is supposed to be just the first stage. For the third time in 2022, Sultan Erdogan is also promising a ground invasion of Kurdish-held territories in Syria.

However, according to diplomatic sources, that’s not going to happen – even as scores of Turkish experts are adamant that the invasion is needed sooner rather than later.

The wily Sultan is caught between his electorate, which favors an invasion, and his extremely nuanced relations with Russia – which encompass a large geopolitical and geo-economic arc.

He well knows that Moscow can apply all manner of pressure levers to dissuade him. For instance, Russia at the last minute annulled the weekly dispatch of a joint Russo-Turkish patrol in Ain al Arab that was taking place on Mondays.

Ain al Arab is a highly strategic territory: the missing link, east of the Euphrates, capable of offering continuity between Idlib and Ras al Ayn, occupied by dodgy Turkish-aligned gangs near the Turkish border.

Erdogan knows he can’t jeopardize his positioning as potential EU-Russia mediator while obtaining maximum profit from bypassing the anti-Russian embargo-sanctions combo.

The Sultan, juggling multiple serious dossiers, is deeply convinced that he’s got what it takes to bring Russia and NATO to the negotiating table and, ultimately, end the war in Ukraine.

In parallel, he thinks he may stay on top of Turkey-Israel relations; a rapprochement with Damascus; the sensitive internal situation in Iran; Turkey-Azerbaijan relations; the non-stop metamorphoses across the Mediterranean; and the drive towards Eurasia integration.

He’s hedging all his bets between NATO and Eurasia.

‘Close down all of our southern borders’

The green light for Claw-Sword came from Erdogan while he was on his presidential plane, returning from the G20 in Bali. That happened only one day after he had met US President Joe Biden where, according to a presidential Erdogan statement, the subject had not come up.

“We held no meeting with Mr Biden or [Russian President Vladimir] Putin regarding the operation. They both already know that we can do such things at any moment in this region,” the statement said.

Washington not getting briefed on Claw-Sword mirrored Erdogan not getting invited to an extraordinary G7-NATO meeting in Bali, on the sidelines of the G20.

Then-US vice president Joe Biden (L) speaks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at Beylerbeyi Palace in Istanbul. Photo: AFP / Bulent Kilic

That meeting was called by the White House to deal with the by-now notorious Ukrainian S-300 missile that fell in Polish territory. At the time, no one at the table had any conclusive evidence about what happened. And Turkey was not even invited to the table – which profoundly incensed the Sultan.

So it’s no wonder Erdogan, mid-week, said that Claw-Sword was “just the beginning.” Addressing AKP party lawmakers in Parliament, he said Turkey is determined to “close down all of our southern borders … with a security corridor that will prevent the possibility of attacks on our country.”

The ground invasion promise remains: It will begin “at the most convenient time for us” and will target the regions of Tel Rifaat, Mambij and Kobane, which the Sultan called “sources of trouble.”

Ankara has already wreaked havoc, using drones, on the main headquarters of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, whose commanders believe the main target of a potential Turkish ground invasion would be Kobane.

Significantly, this is the first time a Turkish drone targeted an area extremely close to a US base. And Kobane is highly symbolic: the place where the Americans sealed a collaboration with Syrian Kurds to – in theory – fight ISIS.

And that explains why the Syrian Kurds are appalled by the American non-response to the Turkish strikes. They blame – who else? – the Sultan for stoking “nationalist sentiments” ahead of the 2023 elections, which Erdogan now stands a great chance to win despite the catastrophic state of the Turkish economy.

As it stands, there is no Turkish troop buildup near Kobane – just airstrikes. Which brings us to the all-important Russian factor.

Manbij and Tel Rifaat, west of the Euphrates, are much more important for Russia than Kobane, because they are both vital for the defense of Aleppo against possible Salafi-jihadi attacks.

What may potentially happen in the near future makes the situation even murkier. Ankara intel may use Hayat Tahrir al-Sham jihadis – which have already taken over parts of Afrin – as a sort of “vanguard” in a ground invasion of Syrian Kurd territory.

Selling stolen Syrian oil to Turkey

The current fog of war includes the notion that the Russians may have sold out the Kurds by leaving them exposed to Turkish bombing. That does not hold – because Russia’s influence over Syrian Kurd territory is negligible compared with the US’s. Only the Americans could “sell out” the Kurds.

The more things change, the more they remain the same in Syria. It could all be summarized as a monumental impasse. This gets even more surrealist because, in effect, Ankara and Moscow have already found the solution for the Syrian tragedy.

The problem is the presence of American forces – essentially protecting those shabby convoys stealing Syrian oil. Russians and Syrians always discuss it. The conclusion is that the Americans are staying by inertia. They do it because they can. And Damascus is powerless to expel them.

The Sultan plays the whole thing with consummate cynicism – in geopolitics and geo-economics. Most of what is unresolved in Syria revolves around territories occupied by de facto gangs that call themselves Kurds, protected by the US. They traffic Syrian oil to resell it mostly to … Turkey.

And then, in a flash, armed gangs that call themselves Kurds may simply abandon their “anti-terrorist” fight by … releasing the terrorists they apprehended, thus increasing the “terrorist threat” all over northeast Syria. They blame – who else? – Turkey. In parallel, the Americans increase financial aid to these armed gangs under the pretext of a “war on terror.”

The distinction between “armed gangs” and “terrorists” is of course razor thin. What matters most of all to Erdogan is that he can use the Kurds as a currency in trade negotiations linked to bypassing anti-Russian embargoes and sanctions.

And that explains why the Sultan may decide to bomb Syrian territory whenever he sees fit, despite any condemnation by Washington or Moscow. The Russians once in a while retake the initiative on the ground – as happened during the Idlib campaign in 2020 when Russians bombed the Turkish military forces that were providing “assistance” to Salafi-jihadis.

A view of the site after attacks carried out by Assad regime in Syria on the city center of Idlib on September 7, 2021. Photo: Izzeddin Kasim / Anadolu Agency

Now a game-changer may be on the cards. The Turkish Army bombed the al-Omar oilfield north of Deir ez-Zor. What this means in practice is that Ankara is now destroying no less than the oil infrastructure of the much-lauded “Kurdish autonomy.”

This infrastructure has been cynically exploited by the US when it comes to the oil that reaches the border with Iraq in Iraqi Kurdistan. So in a sense, Ankara is striking against Syrian Kurds and simultaneously against American robbery of Syrian oil.

The definitive game-changer may be approaching. That will be the meeting between Erdogan and Bashar al-Assad, (Remember the decade-long refrain “Assad must go”?)

Location: Russia. Mediator:  Vladimir Putin, in person. It’s not far-fetched to imagine this meeting paving the way for those Kurdish armed gangs, essentially played by Washington as useful idiots, to end up being decimated by Ankara.

محاضر من «أستانا 18»: الحلّ السوري بعيد وتركيا لن تنسحب | تقاطع مصالح تركي ــ روسي ــ إيراني ضدّ «قسد»

الجمعة 25 تشرين الثاني 2022

موقفا الدولتين يبدوان اليوم أقلّ حدّة، وهو ما يمكن أن يُعزى إلى أسباب مختلفة خاصّة بكلّ من الدولتَين (ا ف ب)

حسين الأمين  

تُظهر المواقف الإيرانية والروسية من التهديد التركي المتجدّد بعملية عسكرية برّية في سوريا، نوعاً من الليونة التي يمكن تفسيرها بجملة ظروف مستجدّة، جعلت الأطراف الثلاثة الضامنة لـ«مسار أستانا» متقاطِعةً عند العداء للقوّات الكردية في الشمال السوري. ليونةٌ لم تكن إلى ما قبل أشهر حاضِرة كما اليوم، وفق ما تُظهره وثائق سرّية عائدة إلى الجولة ما قبل الأخيرة من اجتماعات «أستانا»، اطّلعت عليها «الأخبار»، يسجّل فيها الروس والإيرانيون حزماً حيال أيّ عملية تركية من النوع المذكور، لم تَعُد مستبعدة، في ظلّ شبه تقبّل موسكو وطهران للمحاججات التركية، ودخول الاتصالات مرحلة الحديث عن حدود التوغّل والأثمان السياسية المطلوبة لقاءه

تحت سطح الهدوء الذي عاشه الميدان السوري طوال الشهور السابقة، كانت تعتمل عوامل ضاغطة عديدة على أكثر من طرف فاعل في الملفّ، يبدو أن بعضها وصل اليوم إلى لحظة الانفجار. هذا ما ينطبق مثلاً على الهجمات الجوّية التي تنفّذها تركيا ضدّ «قوات سوريا الديمقراطية» في شمال سوريا تحت عنوان عملية «المخلب – السيف»، والتلويح باقتراب لحظة وقوع العملية البرّية، والتي سيسيطر خلالها الجيش التركي على مزيد من الأراضي السورية الحدودية. ولطالما كانت هذه الخطوة محطّ تداول طوال الفترة الماضية، خصوصاً في جولة محادثات أستانا التي عُقدت في حزيران الماضي، وتالِيَتها التي التأمت قبل يومَين على وقْع القصف التركي على مواقع «قسد»، على مسمع ومرأى من القوات الروسية والأميركية المنتشرة في المنطقة. وبينما لا تزال روسيا على موقفها المعلَن الرافض للتحرّك البرّي التركي ـــ مع بروز تبدّلات ملحوظة في الميدان لناحية السماح للطائرات التركية باختراق «المجال الجوّي الروسي» في سوريا ـــ تُبدي إيران هذه الأيام تفهّماً أكبر لهذا التحرّك.

في وثائق سرّية حصلت عليها «الأخبار»، تتكشّف المواقف غير المعلَنة وبعض خلفيّاتها، للدول الفاعلة في الملفّ السوري، وذلك على ألسنة مسؤولي هذا الملفّ في كلّ منها، في محادثات ثنائية خاصة، من أيّ عملية عسكرية تركية جديدة في سوريا. ففي حزيران الماضي، انعقدت في العاصمة الكازاخية نور سلطان الجولة الـ18 من «مسار أستانا» التفاوضي، عندما كان الميدان يعيش هدوءاً نسبياً، باستثناء بعض التوتّر بين تركيا والفصائل المسلّحة الموالية لها من جهة، و«قسد» من جهة أخرى، وفي وقت كانت فيه أنقرة تلوّح بنيّتها شنّ عملية عسكرية في ريف حلب الشمالي، وتحديداً على محور عين العرب – منبج – تل رفعت. ممثّل تركيا في «أستانا» حينها، ومسؤول الشؤون السورية في الخارجية التركية، سلجوق أونال، أشار إلى أن «بعض الدول تُعارض العملية، لكنّ هذه الدول في الوقت عينه تتفهّم المخاوف الأمنية لتركيا»، مُدافِعاً بأنه يتوجّب «على تركيا أن تقوم بهذه العملية بسبب مخاطر الإرهاب والانفصاليين، وهذا ما لا تحتمله». وانتقد أونال موقف موسكو، معتبراً أن «ما يقوله الروس بأن العملية ستزعزع استقرار سوريا غير صحيح، لأن لا استقرار أصلاً في سوريا، كما ليس هنالك من ستاتيكو حقيقي ستزعزعه هذه العملية. لا بل إن العملية ستمنع زعزعة الاستقرار بسبب الأجندة الإرهابية والانفصالية لـ»PKK» (حزب العمال الكردستاني)». واستعرض أونال، في حديث خاصّ مع دبلوماسيين، مسار الهجمات العسكرية التي نفّذتها تركيا سابقاً في سوريا، حيث إن «شركاءنا (روسيا وإيران) اعترضوا سابقاً على عملية نبع السلام، ثمّ ما لبثوا أن رفعوا العوائق من أمام تركيا»، في إشارة إلى قبولهم الوقائع التي فرضتْها تلك الهجمات. وافترض أن «الروس ربّما يَعتبرون أن طرد القوات الكردية (من المناطق الحدودية) سيدفعها باتجاه المناطق السورية الداخلية، وهذا قد يجدّد النزاع»، مبيّناً أنه «في هذه الحالة، هُم (الأكراد) سيهاجمون الجيش السوري وليس تركيا». وختم المسؤول التركي حديثه بالتأكيد أن «المسار السياسي بطيء (…) أستانا يبقى المسار الوحيد الذي لا يزال على قيد الحياة»، مشيراً إلى أنه «سبق أن أنشئت المجموعة المصغّرة حول سوريا وانتهت، وكذلك انتهى مسار جنيف».

يَظهر أن مصلحة الدول الثلاث الضامنة لـ«مسار أستانا» تلتقي عند العداء للقوات الكردية في الشمال السوري

وفي وثيقة أخرى، تحدّث سفير تركيا لدى روسيا، محمد سامسار، في اجتماع خاص داخل مكتبه عُقد في تموز الفائت، حول العملية العسكرية المرتقبة، قائلاً إنه «بالنسبة إلى تركيا، فإنه لا أطماع لديها في سوريا، وهدف أنقرة كان ولا يزال إبعاد المنظمات الإرهابية الكردية عن حدودها لمسافة 30 كم على الأقل، وهو الأمر الذي كان الأميركيون قد وافقوا عليه، وأيضاً الروس، الذين كانوا قد تعهّدوا بالمساعدة على تحقيقه منذ عام 2019، دون أن ينجحوا حتى الآن، ما دفع القيادة التركية أخيراً للإعلان عن عملية عسكرية قد تكون قريبة لتحقيق الهدف المذكور، بالرغم من معارضة موسكو وواشنطن، التي تقوم بحماية بعض الفصائل الإرهابية شرق الفرات». من جهة أخرى، استبعد سامسار «إمكانية التوصّل إلى حلول في المدى المنظور، خاصة في ظلّ توتر العلاقات بين موسكو من جهة، وواشنطن والغرب من جهة أخرى»، لافتاً إلى أن «الوضع السوري في غاية التعقيد، مع وجود دول كثيرة تتصارع على الأرض السورية لحفظ مصالحها المتعارضة في كثير من الأحيان»، مُهاجِماً «الدور الإيراني الطامح إلى بقاء طويل الأمد في سوريا، ومحاولة إحداث تغيير ديمغرافي في بعض المناطق السورية، ومنها دمشق العاصمة، وذلك خدمة لأهداف بعيدة المدى تؤذي الشعب السوري بلا شكّ، وتهدّد بشدّة وحدة البلاد واستقرارها على المدى البعيد».

بدوره، رأى المبعوث الروسي الخاص إلى سوريا، ألكسندر لافرنتييف، أنه «سيكون من الخطير إن أقامت تركيا منطقة عازلة، وهذه ستخلق تهديدات جديدة»، لافتاً إلى «(أننا) نصحنا العراقيين وجيران سوريا، أن يتواصلوا مع إيران والدول العربية لمطالبة تركيا بشكل جماعي بعدم تنفيذ عمليّتها». وأشار لافرنتييف إلى أن «تركيا دائماً تؤكّد أنها لا تريد تقسيم سوريا، وأنها مع المحافظة على وحدة وسيادة سوريا، لكنهم يضيفون أنهم سيتركون سوريا عندما تسمح لهم الظروف بذلك، وهذا لا يبدو لنا مشجّعاً. إذا دخلَت لن تنسحب»، مشدّداً على أنه «من الضروري أن نعمل معاً، وأن لا نترك ذلك يحدث (…) (تركيا تريد) احتلال أراضي سوريا، وتشكيل حكومة موالية لها». ولدى سؤاله عن الانتشار الميداني الروسي في سوريا، مع احتدام الحرب في أوكرانيا، أكد «(أننا) لن ننسحب من سوريا. أجرينا إعادة انتشار لقوّاتنا، بسبب بعض الصعوبات اللوجستية المتأتّية من تركيا». وختم حديثه بالقول إن «علينا أن نعيش مع نزاع طويل الأمد» في سوريا. من جهته، رأى مساعد وزير الخارجية الإيراني، علي أصغر حاجي، أن «كلّ ما يحدث متأثّر بالحرب الأوكرانية، التي تُضاعف من خطورة الحالة في الشرق الأوسط»، معتبراً أن «ما تقوم به روسيا في أوكرانيا، تحاول تركيا مقابلته في سوريا»، في إشارة إلى المخاوف الأمنية الروسية في أوكرانيا، والتي دفعتْ موسكو إلى تنفيذ عمليتها العسكرية هناك. وأضاف حاجي: «نقول لأصدقائنا الأتراك إن مخاوفكم الأمنية لا يمكن حلّها بالوسائل العسكرية، وإلّا لكانت حُلّت مُسبقاً. نقول لهم، ساعدوا الجيش السوري للانتشار على الحدود تطبيقاً للاتفاقيات بينكما». أما ممثّل الأمم المتحدة في محادثات أستانا، مدير مكتب المبعوث الدولي الخاص إلى سوريا غير بيدرسون، روبرت دان، فرأى أن «كلّ الأطراف حقّقت أكثر ما تستطيعه»، متابعاً أن «اليوم هنالك تركيا، ينبغي انتظار ردّة فعل الأطراف الباقين على عمليّتها العسكرية، وما سينشأ عنها».

وعلى رغم الحزم الذي تتّسم به المواقف الإيرانية والروسية حيال العملية العسكرية التركية في سوريا، وفق ما تُظهره الوثائق، إلّا أن هذه المواقف تبدو اليوم أقلّ حدّة، وهو ما يمكن أن يُعزى إلى أسباب مختلفة خاصّة بكلّ من الدولتَين. بالنسبة إلى روسيا، فإن التعاون الروسي – التركي بلغ أوْجه خلال الأشهر الأخيرة مع احتدام الحرب في أوكرانيا، في ظلّ موقف أنقرة الذي حافظ على حياده نوعاً ما. وإذ تُدرك روسيا أن تركيا اليوم هي أحد معابرها الأساسية إلى العالم في ظلّ الحصار الغربي المستمرّ على الأولى، فإن الدولتَين تُظهران تعاوناً واسعاً في منطقة القوقاز، أسفر حتى اليوم عن تجنُّب أزمات كبرى، وربّما معارك متجدّدة، وخصوصاً بين أرمينيا وأذربيجان. والأهمّ من كلّ ما سبق، سياقان مغايران للتعاون: الأوّل متعلّق باتفاقية تصدير الحبوب من الموانئ الأوكرانية عبر البحر الأسود إلى تركيا ثمّ البحر الأبيض المتوسط؛ والثاني متّصل بتصدير الغاز الروسي، حيث اتفق الرئيسان الروسي والتركي، الشهر الماضي، على البدء بإنشاء مركز لتوزيع الغاز الروسي من تركيا إلى دول جنوب وشرق أوروبا، عبر أنابيب ناقلة تمرّ من البحر الأسود وعبر الأراضي التركية. وانطلاقاً ممّا سبق، تبدو مفهومةً المرونة التي طرأت على موقف موسكو، والتي تُعزّزها أيضاً المُحاججة التركية بأن الظروف التي دفعت روسيا إلى تنفيذ عملية عسكرية في أوكرانيا، تنطبق إلى حدّ بعيد على تلك القائمة عند الحدود السورية – التركية، وبالتالي فإن ما شرّعته روسيا لنفسها، لا بدّ أن تشرّعه لشريكتها تركيا.
أمّا بالنسبة إلى إيران، التي تعاني اليوم اضطرابات داخلية، فهي تتّهم الأحزاب الكردية – الإيرانية المعارِضة المتمركزة في إقليم كردستان شمالي العراق، بالمسؤولية عن إرسال وتدريب وتجهيز مجموعات مسلّحة لتنفيذ أعمال «إرهابية» على أراضيها. وهي استجابت سريعاً لهذا التهديد باستهداف مواقع تلك الأحزاب، ملوّحةً أيضاً بإمكانية شنّ عملية عسكرية برّية لإبعادها عن الحدود. ومن هنا، يُحاجج «الديبلوماسيون الأتراك، أمام نظرائهم الإيرانيين، وكذلك أمام نظرائهم في دول المنطقة، بسياق تشكُّل الموقف الإيراني المستجدّ تجاه الأحزاب الكردية المسلّحة، ويقارنونه بالموقف التركي السابق والحالي، للقول إن عمليات بلادهم العسكرية السابقة والمرتقَبة في سوريا شرعيّة ومبرّرة، ولا يجب الاعتراض عليها، خصوصاً من قِبَل الإيرانيين»، بحسب ما تَكشفه مصادر ديبلوماسية إقليمية. وفي مقابل هذه المحاججة، يُبدي المسؤولون الإيرانيون تفهّماً للمخاوف الأمنية التركية، إلّا أنهم «يحثّون نظراءهم الأتراك على التعاون مع الحكومة السورية، لضمان انتشار الجيش السوري على الحدود بين البلدين، ومنْع وقوع عمليات أمنية أو عسكرية داخل الأراضي التركية، كما ذلك الذي تسعى إليه طهران مع بغداد»، والذي تجلّت أولى ثماره في إعلان الحكومة العراقية نشْر قوّاتها على الحدود بين إيران وإقليم كردستان.

هكذا، يَظهر أن مصلحة الدول الثلاث الضامنة لـ«مسار أستانا» تلتقي عند العداء للقوات الكردية في الشمال السوري. فهذه الأخيرة وضعت كامل بيضها في السلّة الأميركية، ما يزعج الروس إلى حدّ بعيد، واشتبكت مع تركيا التي تحافظ على موقفها العدائي منها، وفشلت في إنجاح أيّ محاولة حوارية مع دمشق، وذهبت إلى حدّ الاشتباك مع القوات السورية غير مرّة، كما تناقض بتحالفها الوثيق مع الأميركيين الموقف الإيراني المُساند لدمشق، فضلاً عن كوْن نظرائها في أربيل باتوا يشكّلون تهديداً متزايداً للأمن القومي الإيراني. لكن كلّ ما سبق لا يعني أن هذه الأطراف اتّفقت تماماً على السماح بتنفيذ عملية عسكرية تركية جديدة في سوريا، بل يبدو أن ما جرى حتى الآن هو إبداء تفهّم متزايد للمخاوف التركية، في وقت تتسارع فيه الاتصالات البينيّة لرسم حدود الطموح التركي، والتوافق على التفاصيل الميدانية والأثمان السياسية.

من ملف : روسيا – تركيا – إيران: تقاطع ضدّ «قسد»

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Following Israel, Turkey Bombs Northern Syria Killing 11 Soldiers


Turkey bombed several sites in northern Syria in the early hours of today, Sunday, November 20, 2022, killing 11 Syrian soldiers and injuring 4 others, local sources confirmed.

The Syrian news agency SANA conveyed a military source statement confirming the Turkish aggression and the killing of Syrian soldiers without specifying the number of martyrs or wounded:

“A number of soldiers were martyred as a result of the Turkish attacks on the Syrian lands in the northern countryside of Aleppo and the countryside of Hasakah at dawn this day.”

A reporter for SANA said that Turkish fighter jets bombed several sites in the southwest of Darbassiya, in the outskirts of Al Malikiyah, and in the village of Tal Harmal to the north of Abu Rasin, all of these sites are in Hasakah countryside.

Other sources added Ain Digna, Meng Airport, Ayn Al Arab, Khafaya Al-Salem silos, Tal Rifat, and Mara’naz to the sites targeted by the Turkish bombing.

Wide destruction of houses and farmlands resulted from Turkish aggression.

The regime of the Turkish madman Erdogan claimed this aggression by NATO’s second-largest army is to avenge the Istanbul ‘terrorist’ attack earlier this month, the attack that most observers and analysts doubted the Turkish official narrative about and alleged it’s more of a false flag similar to the Zelensky’s forces S300 missile that targeted Poland.

NATO-sponsored Kurdish SDF separatist terrorists also denied their involvement in the Istanbul explosion, they would otherwise celebrate their operations.

NATO and its members, especially Turkey have a long history of false flags in Syria to justify their aggression and the war crimes they commit on daily bases against the Syrian people, the head of the Turkish ‘intelligence’ plotted an attack against Turkish soldiers to justify Turkish army aggression against the Syrian forces a couple of years ago, his conversation was leaked and the plot was exposed, he was rewarded by Erdogan for his services.

The Turkish aggression against the Syrian army posts in Hasaskah comes a day after Israel bombed Syrian army posts killing 4 soldiers and injuring a fifth, the Israeli and Turkish aggressions come after the Syrian army cleared the last stronghold of ISIS in southern Daraa city a day preceding the Israeli aggression.


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The Cradle: Routes of US tankers stealing Syrian oil unveiled

November 15, 2022

Source: The Cradle

By Al Mayadeen English 

An investigation carried out by The Cradle reveals that the US occupation forces in Syria are on a looting spree of the country’s resources, including gas and oil and wheat.

Americans continue stealing Syria’s resources while the country is suffering from a 10-year Western war and draconian sanctions

In its latest episode of the long series of theft of Syria’s resources, the US occupation pillaged on November 14 a new quantity of oil from the Syrian al-Jazira region.

The looting came only one day after occupation forces stole and transferred to Iraq a load of 94 tankers holding massive amounts of Syrian oil and wheat, as the country struggles with energy shortage and skyrocketing food prices due to the ongoing West-sponsored war and the embargo that was launched over 10 years ago.

The illegal operation came in cooperation with the US-backed Kurdish militia, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Local sources informed Syrian media that the “American occupation forces took out a new batch of stolen Syrian oil, in 76 tankers, to their bases in northern Iraq, through the illegal Mahmudiyah crossing.”

The Cradle news website recently carried out an extensive investigation, unraveling the detailed looting operation by the US and its proxy militia the SDF, of the sovereign country’s resources through illegal border crossings into the Iraqi Kurdistan Region. 

The investigation report cited the Syrian Oil Ministry, which stated that  US occupation forces stole over 80 percent of Syria’s daily oil production, which comes close to “66,000 barrels of oil every single day.”

The losses since the war began on Syria in 2011 in the energy (oil and gas) sector have amounted to nearly $107 billion, according to a report released by Syrian authorities.

Tankers take around 48 hours to go through intended crossings

Soldiers of the Syrian Arab Army have, on numerous occasions so far, prohibited US forces from crossing army checkpoints, most recently on November 4 according to state-owned SANA.

“Theft of Syrian natural resources witnessed a significant increase when former US President Donald Trump came to power,” a former Iraqi diplomat told The Cradle.

The report reveals that the looted tankers take around 48 hours to go through the intended crossings (Fishkhabour, Al-Waleed or Al-Yaarubiyah), and are “approved by the US army”.

“There are usually no less than 70 to 100 tankers transporting Syrian oil during each journey,” sources told the news website.

According to The Cradle, “the trip starts from the Syrian Al-Jazira region and passes through Al-Hasakah, where it stops for hours before continuing to one of the border outlets to procure supplies, and then proceeds to the Harir site in Erbil in the KRI.”

“The oil is emptied into other tanks that carry it to the US base at Ain al-Assad in Iraq’s Anbar province, or to Halabja province, where another US military base is located,” the report added.

An Iraqi source informed on the matter stated that the tankers transferred to US occupation bases in Iraq require previous approval by the “National Operations Center,” and is disguised as “logistical support for the international coalition forces.”

US and Turkey Keep Idlib a Terrorist Safe Haven


Steven Sahiounie

On October 10, a US-led coalition drone strike killed an IS terrorist in northeastern Syria.  The terrorist was riding a motorcycle in a village occupied by Radical Islamic mercenaries employed by Turkey near Tel Albyat.

Since the defeat of ISIS in Syria in 2019, the terrorist group now referred to as IS has some sleeper cells in the desert, and is especially prevalent in Idlib, which is protected by Turkey, and supplied with humanitarian aid by the United Nations.

IS terrorists killed in Syria by the US

On October 6, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) issued a statement saying that US helicopters descended on Muluk Saray village in Hassakeh province, near Qamishli, and deployed US commandos who killed a member of IS and wounded and captured others.  Rakkan Wahid Al-Shammri, an IS official known to facilitate the smuggling of weapons and fighters, were killed and one of his associates was wounded and two others were detained by US forces. The two men taken into custody are an Iraqi national and a commander of a “military security faction”. The area is partly held by the Syrian Arab Army, and the US-partnered Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). According to residents, three US helicopters carrying troops landed in the village after midnight and told residents by loudspeaker to stay indoors and keep their lights off with the operation lasting several hours.

Also on October 6, the US military launched a precision airstrike just after 6 p.m. local time in northern Syria, killing two more high-ranking IS officials. CENTCOM said the strike killed Abu ‘Ala, described as one of the terror group’s “top five,” who served as the deputy leader of IS in Syria. A second IS official, Abu Mu’Ad Al-Qahtani, said to be responsible for prisoner affairs, was also killed.

In June, US forces captured an IS bomb-maker in an Aleppo area village controlled by Turkish-backed terrorists, the same group that is in Idlib.

Also in June, US forces captured Hani Ahmed Al-Kurdi, described as an IS senior leader, during a helicopter raid in Jarablus, in northwestern Syria, not far from Idlib.

On July 12, the US said a drone strike near Jindayris, in northwestern Syria, had killed another “top five” IS leader, Maher Al-Agal, described as the terror group’s top Syrian official.

In February 2022, Abu Ibrahim Al-Hashimi Al-Qurayshi was killed in Idlib. His real name was Amir Mohammed Saeed Abdul-Rahman Al-Mawla, an Iraqi born in 1976 and believed to be an ethnic Turkman from the northern Iraqi town of Tel Afar. He was staying in the town of Atmeh, in Idlib province near the border with Turkey. The raid on the house killed him and 12 other people, including four women and six children.  US helicopters landed in the area carrying special forces and an explosion shook the area. The US says Al-Qurayshi played a key role in targeting Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority.

In October 2019, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS was killed by a special US military operation ordered by President Trump. Baghdadi was also killed in Idlib, in the village of Barisha on the Turkish border. Both of the top IS leaders sought shelter in the northern province of Idlib, controlled by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), the former Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria.

Who controls Idlib?

The US has provided $1.5 billion in humanitarian assistance in Syria in 2022 alone, but that aid is strictly within those areas occupied by terrorists, such as Idlib, and some aid going to the SDF.  Syria is a big country, and 96% of the residents have never received even a loaf of bread from the US because the vast majority of the Syrian territory is under the administration of the central government in Damascus.

Idlib has replaced Pakistan as the favored safe haven for terrorists, as evidenced by the high-profile IS and Al Qaeda terrorists having been killed by the US there. The head of IS, Baghdadi, was living near an HTS checkpoint and a Turkish military outpost.

James Jeffrey, a special envoy for Syria under former US President Trump, saw HTS as an asset. Jeffrey told PBS in an interview that while the group would remain listed as a terrorist organization, it was not on the United States’ target list. This statement serves as evidence of the double standards the US uses when dealing with, and utilizing terrorists as an American tool.

Aaron Stein, director of research at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, said “I think the general assessment is HTS is made up of jihadists that have American blood on their hands.”

Daniel Milton, director of research at the Combating Terrorism Center at the US Military Academy, said the fact that two IS leaders had been hiding out in Idlib “ought to cause us to reassess how we are thinking about the relationships between these [HTS, al Qaeda, and Islamic State] groups.”

The US policy has been to facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid to 3 million Syrians under HTS occupation in Idlib while letting Turkey manage all sorts of terrorist groups.

Turkey coordinates and cooperates with HTS, and is not targeting either al Qaeda or IS, and experts feel that there is no solution to Idlib but to eliminate all the terrorists.  However, the US is opposed to any military action to liberate Idlib from terrorist control.

The Kurds and Al-Hol prison

Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are military allies of the US in northeastern Syria. The SDF administers a displaced-persons camp and the attached Al-Hol prison holding IS terrorists. In January 2022, IS attacked the Al-Hol prison to free jailed comrades, leading to a 10-day battle with the SDF that left some 500 dead.

Saleh Moslem, a politician from the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, spoke to Foreign Policy and said that according to the SDF most of the hundreds of fighters from the group who recently attacked Al-Hol prison crossed over from HTS-controlled Idlib to free their fellow terrorists. “HTS is the remains of ISIS,” said Moslem.

The SDF and Turkey are enemies; however, the US-sponsored SDF fought and died in the battles to defeat ISIS. Turkey supports and protects HTS in Idlib, which follows the same ideology and agenda as IS. “HTS should be dismantled,” said Moslem, and added, “The US forces should target HTS too.”

What should be done?

The Biden administration should develop a plan with Turkey and Russia to bring Idlib under the control of the Syrian government. The US support and protection of terrorists should stop. The US-NATO attack on Syria for regime change, which began in 2011, has failed. It is time to allow the Syrian people to rebuild their lives free of protected terrorist enclaves.

Steven Sahiounie is a Syrian-American journalist; political commentator; chief editor of MidEastDiscourse News

Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham expands its control in the Olive Branch area at the expense of the armed factions affiliated with Turkey

Syria: US occupation base in Al-Shaddadi comes under rocket attack

18 Sep 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Local media report on a rocket attack targeting a US occupation military base in Al-Hasakah Governorate, near the Syria-Iraq border, on Sunday morning.

The US military base in Al-Shaddadi

    The US occupation base in Al-Shaddadi, in the Syrian eastern province of Al-Hasakah, was targeted by rockets. 

    Local media reported on Sunday morning that a rocket attack targeted the US occupation facility in Al-Hasakah governorate, near the Syria-Iraq border.

    No further details were revealed on the attack.

    Several explosions were heard from the American occupation base in Deir Ezzor Province about two weeks ago. Some speculated that the explosions were caused by three rockets hitting the base.

    Read next: Rocket bombing targets US occupation base in Syria

    The US occupation bases in Syria come under rocket and drone attacks frequently.

    Earlier in July, violent explosions rocked a US occupation Army base in Al-Jebsa oil fields in eastern Syria, Sputnik reported Wednesday.

    The Russian agency quoted informed sources as saying that they heard strong explosions in the northern and western countryside of the oil city of Al-Shaddadi, which includes the largest US base in Al-Hasakah Governorate.

    Sputnik pointed out that the explosions coincided with an intense overflight of warplanes and helicopters of the so-called “International Coalition” that took off from its base in Al-Shaddadi and fired flares, as information reported that the base was being targeted with missiles.

    Sources revealed to Al Mayadeen that the missiles that targeted the US base in Al-Jabsa were launched from Tal Al-Shayer near the Iraqi border, an SDF-controlled region.

    One of the missiles fell 200 meters from an aircraft runway within the base, and two close to the residential area, according to the sources. 

    What is the US doing in Syria?

    Besides being an occupation that backs armed groups for its own operations and agenda in the region, the US occupation forces continue to steal Syrian oil by smuggling it from their bases in Syria to their bases in Iraq.

    Convoys of tens of vehicles, including tankers loaded with stolen oil from oil fields occupied by US forces in Syria, are frequently seen crossing toward northern Iraq, in addition to trucks loaded with military equipment.

    The US interference in the crisis-stricken Middle Eastern country continues to be exposed, from occupation to military agenda and the theft of oil.

    US forces smuggle dozens of oil tankers out of Syria

    In one of the latest acts of a series of US forces looting Syrian oil, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported on September 9 that a US convoy loaded with looted Syrian oil left from the illegitimate Al-Mahmoudiyah crossing and entered Iraqi territory.

    According to the Syrian agency, “a convoy of the US occupation forces, consisting of 88 tankers loaded with stolen Syrian oil, left from the illegitimate Al-Mahmoudiyah crossing and entered Iraqi territory.”

    The local sources mentioned that the US convoy exited the Syrian territories toward the bases of the US occupation in northern Iraq.

    It is noteworthy that US forces control about 90% of Syria’s oil-producing territory, depriving the government of its most significant source of fuel and income.

    Some local reports reveal that US forces smuggle not only oil out of the country but also indispensable food supplies.

    In August, the Syrian Oil Ministry revealed that the US occupation forces loot the majority of Syria’s oil, knowing that the daily production of the eastern oil fields is 80.3 thousand barrels.

    The United States has been for years supporting the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militias, and the US-backed forces are currently occupying parts of the provinces of Al-Hasakah, Deir Ezzor, and Raqqa, where the largest Syrian oil and gas fields are located.

    The actions carried out by the United States constitute state piracy with the aim of plundering Syria’s oil resources and depriving the Syrians of their own resources amid a harsh economic situation caused largely by the US occupiers.

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