Turkish Offensive In Northern Syria Pushed Kurds Into Hands Of Assad And Moscow. War Report

South Front

The defense of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is steadily collapsing under pressure from the Turkish Armed Forces and Turkish-backed militant groups, branded as the National Syrian Army.

Since the start of Operation Peace Spring, Turkey-led forces have captured 42 settlements from the SDF. Most of them were abandoned by Kurdish fighters after a series of artillery and air strikes by the Turkish military. The most intense clashes took place in the towns of Ras al-Ayn and Tell Abyad, and on the chunk of the M4 highway between Aywah and Sahi Ruwaydat.

Turkish forces started a storm of Ras al-Ayn in the evening of October 11. On October 12, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced that its forces got a full control of the town. On the same day, a powerful SDF counterattack forces Turkish-backed militants to withdraw to the southern part of Ras al-Ayn. On October 13, an intense fighting there continued, with the town remaining contested. By October 14, Turkey-led forces had established control of most of it.

Another area of heavy clashes was Tell Abyad. The Turkish military and the NSA advanced on the town of October 12 and captured its center on October 13. The success in the area was predetermined by previous advances of Turkey-led forces that besieged the town from the eastern and western directions.

On October 12 and 13, forward units of the NSA were working to cut off the M4 highway stretching along the Syrian-Turkish border. According to photos and videos released online, when Turkish-backed militants first reached the highway they captured and executed a number of civilians, including Hevrin Khalaf, the head of the SDF-linked political party – the Future Syria Party. The SDF tried to push Turkish-backed forces back, but failed to do so.

The shape of the current Turkish military efforts demonstrate that at the first phase of the advance Ankara seeks to capture the border area between Ras al-Ayn and Tell Abyad, and reach the M4. After this, they will likely push towards Kobani and Manbij.

The Turkish Armed Forces already deployed Leopard 2A4 battle tanks on the eastern bank of the Euphrates and floating bridge equipment near the Sajur river, north of Manbij.

According to Ankara, about 500 members of Kurdish armed groups have been neutralized since the start of the operation. At the same time, Turkish sources admit that 6 Turkish soldiers and up to 2 dozens NSA members were killed. Pro-SDF media outlets report about tens destroyed Turkish armored vehicles and dozens of surrendered NSA members. Proofs are barely provided by both sides.

785 ISIS-linked persons fled the SDF-run Ain Issa camp after SDF members had withdrawn from the area. The SDF accused Turkey for the incident and claimed that the prisoners fled thanks to help from ‘Turkish mercenaries’. Meanwhile, Ankara already declared that it’s ready to take responsibility for detention centers with ISIS members and their relatives in northeastern Syria after it takes control of them.

Washington is not going to assist the SDF in repelling the Turkish offensive despite SDF loud statements about their role in the war on ISIS and the US strategy in the region. Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CBS News on October 13 that the US is “preparing to evacuate” about 1,000 troops from northern Syria “as safely and quickly as possible”. The withdrawal of US troops is another sign that the Turkish operation against the SDF was in fact coordinated with and approved by the Trump administration.

The last chance of the SDF to keep control of their remaining areas along the Syrian-Turkish border is to get help from the Syrian Army and Russia. If this is not done anytime soon, the real SDF resistance to the Turkish advance will likely remain only in the few Kurdish-populated areas of northeastern Syria.

On October 13 evening, the SDF announced that it had reached an agreement with the Assad government, and the Syrian Army will enter a large part of its areas, including Manbij and Kobani, and help the Kurdish-led group to limit the further offensive of Turkish forces. The implementation of this agreement may become a turning point in relations between Damascus and the SDF.

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الانسحاب الأميركي من سورية استحقاق مؤجّل… ولكن!

أكتوبر 8, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– لا نريد هنا مناقشة اسباب الانسحاب الأميركي من سورية سواء الجزئي أو المتدرج أو الشامل، فهو استحقاق مؤجل منذ معركة تحرير حلب، وسقوط أي فرصة لتعديل موازين القوى العسكرية بوجه الدولة السورية. والتأجيل مر بثلاث مراحل. في الأولى كان بالرهان على النجاح في إدارة الحرب على داعش بما يضمن تدحرجها في الجغرافيتين السورية والعراقية، وقد افشله محور المقاومة بانتصاره في معارك الموصل ودير الزور والبادية وتدمر. والثانية بالرهان على مقايضة الوجود الأميركي بالوجود الإيراني والمقاوم في سورية ضماناً لأمن إسرائيل، كشرط من شروط التسوية التي تقبل بها واشنطن في سورية، وقد سقط رهان المقايضة نهائياً، واقتنع الروس بأن لا إمكانية لبحث وجود إيران وقوى المقاومة ما دام الجولان السوري محتلاً، ويعلن كيان الاحتلال ضمه وتؤيده واشنطن في ذلك، أما المرحلة الثالثة فكانت الرهان على عقدة إدلب بوجه تقدّم مشروع الدولة السورية لفتح استحقاق الخروج الأميركي، على قاعدة أن إدلب كآخر معقل للمسلحين والوافدين من الإرهابيين وللأتراك ستشكل تغييراً في وجهة الحرب التي كتبتها معارك حلب وما بعدها وصولاً إلى درعا، حتى قالت معركة خان شيخون العكس، فصار قرار الانسحاب على الطاولة راهناً.

– لا نريد هنا أيضاً مناقشة تبعات الانسحاب، الذي باعه الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب للرئيس التركي رجب أردوغان، وكل منهما يعلم أن ترامب وجد الذريعة لخروج مما أسماه الحروب اللانهائية السخيفة، لأن جوهر القرار هزيمة المشروع الأميركي في سورية، ولن يغير من ذلك ما سيقوله كثيرون عن مؤامرة تفجير الشمال السوري، وتقسيم سورية، لأنه كيفما دارت البدايات بعد القرار الأميركي، فإن النهايات ستكون انتشار الجيش السوري حتى الحدود الدولية، وعودة تركيا إلى اتفاقية أضنة، وسقوط مشروع الكانتون الكردي، وانضمام الأكراد إلى مسار الحل السياسي كمكوّن من مكونات المجتمع السوري، والرابح سيكون حكماً هو مشروع الدولة السورية، سواء أدركت القيادات الكردية مبكراً حجم ترددها بالتسليم بالأحقية السيادية على الجغرافية السورية للدولة السورية، واستبقت بفعل ما يلزم الخطوة التركية الأولى، او واصلت التردد وسبقتها الخطوة التركية الأولى، ففي الحالين سيكون الجيش السوري هو الجهة القادرة على فرض عودة الأمن إلى المنطقة، التي لن يكون إمساك أي طرف بأمنها، غير الدولة السورية، نزهة كما يعتقد، لا الجيش التركي سينجح بالاستقرار، ولا الجماعات الكردية ستستطيع الصمود.

– ما نريد مناقشته هي العبر التي يقدّمها ما يجري شمال سورية، فما هو حال جماعات المعارضة السورية التي تقاتل تحت راية العلم التركي، بعدما كانت تتشدق بشعارات الاستقلال والسيادة، وهي لا تشبه اليوم إلا جماعة أنطوان لحد في جنوب لبنان، تحت راية المحتل الإسرائيلي، ويعلم منافقو المعارضة أن تركيا وما تضمره لسورية لا يختلف بنظر السوريين على اختلافهم عما يضمره كيان الاحتلال للبنان وفلسطين وسورية؟ وما هو حال الجماعات الكردية التي تعاملت مع الاحتلال الأميركي كضامن لسلخ جزء من الوطن وتحويله كياناً تفتيتياً لوحدته، وها هي اليوم تندب حظها وتتحدث عن الطعن في الظهر، بعدما جربت طعن وطنها السوري ودولتها في الظهر، ورفضت تقديم وطنيتها على المال والنفط والوعود التي تسقط بفخاخها اليوم؟ وماذا عن العرب حكاماً وبعض النخب الملتحقة بهم، الذين لا زالوا يظنون أن أمامهم مزيد من الوقت ليراقبوا ما يجري في سورية قبل الاعتذار وطلب الصفح لما فعلت أيديهم، أو الذين راهنوا على أميركا مرة لتحمي دول الخليج من إيران، فباعت أمنهم لأنصار الله اليمنيين، أو راهنوا عليها لتشفي غليل أحقادهم ضد سورية وإيران وحزب الله وقوى المقاومة، وها هي تتركهم، وستتركهم أكثر يواجهون مصيرهم الأسود كأحقادهم، بينما تكلفة الاعتراف بنصر محور المقاومة لن ترتب عليهم سوى صفاء النيات، لتلاقيهم الأيدي الممدودة التي لا تعرف للثأر والانتقام مكاناً.

The Turkish Military Incursion in N Syria: «Peace Spring» Operation

Trump Ally Graham: Syria Pullout Would Be Nightmare for «Israel»

By Staff, Agencies

US President Donald Trump’s sudden decision to pull back US troops from northern Syria drew quick, strong criticism Monday from some of his closest allies in Congress, among them South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who warned that the move would ultimately be “a nightmare” for the “Israeli” entity.

“By abandoning the Kurds we have sent the most dangerous signal possible,” Graham said on Twitter.

“America is an unreliable ally and it’s just a matter of time before China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea act out in dangerous ways. The US now has no leverage and Syria will eventually become a nightmare for ‘Israel’,” the normally close ally of the president said.

It was condemned, too, by Kurdish fighters who would be abandoned to face a likely Turkish assault after fighting alongside Americans for years against the Wahhabi Daesh [Arabic acronym for “ISIS” / “ISIL”].

The announcement threw the military situation in Syria into fresh chaos and injected deeper uncertainty into US relations with European allies.

Syria’s Kurds accused the US of turning its back on allies and risking gains made in the years-long fight against Daesh.

Trump defended his decision, acknowledging in tweets that “the Kurds fought with us” but adding that they “were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so.”

“I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home,” he wrote.

If the Turks go too far, he tweeted later, “I in my great and unmatched wisdom” will destroy their economy.

Hours after the White House announcement, two senior State Department officials minimized the effects of the US action, telling reporters that only about two dozen American troops would be removed from the Turkey-Syria border, not all the US forces in the northeast of the country. They also said Turkey may not go through with a large-scale invasion and the US was still trying to discourage it.

Both officials spoke only on condition of anonymity to discuss what led to the internal White House decision.

Both Republicans and Democrats in the US have warned that allowing the Turkish attack could lead to a massacre of the Kurds and send a troubling message to American allies across the globe.

US troops “will not support or be involved in the operation” and “will no longer be in the immediate area,” in northern Syria, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in an unusual late-Sunday statement that was silent on the fate of the Kurds.

There are about 1,000 US troops in northern Syria, and a senior US official said they will pull back from the area – and could depart the country entirely should widespread fighting break out between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

For the moment, the US troops are not leaving Syria, officials said.

A US official confirmed that American troops were already moving out of the security zone area, which includes the Syrian towns of Ras al-Ayn and Tal Abyad. That official was not authorized to speak for the record and was granted anonymity to comment.

Sunday’s announcement followed a call between Trump and Erdogan, the White House said Sunday.

The decision is an illustration of Trump’s focus on ending American overseas entanglements – one of his key campaign promises. His goals of swift withdrawals in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan have been stymied.

As he faces the impeachment inquiry at home, Trump has appeared more focused on making good on his political pledges, even at the risk of sending a troubling signal to American allies abroad.

The Turkish Military Incursion in N Syria: «Peace Spring» Operation

By Staff, U-feedCenter

An infographic detailing Turkey’s 3rd military incursion into northern Syria dubbed Operation “Peace Spring”.

The Turkish Military Incursion in N Syria: «Peace Spring» Operation

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Trump Ally Graham: Syria Pullout Would Be Nightmare for «Israel»

Trump Ally Graham: Syria Pullout Would Be Nightmare for «Israel»

By Staff, Agencies

US President Donald Trump’s sudden decision to pull back US troops from northern Syria drew quick, strong criticism Monday from some of his closest allies in Congress, among them South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who warned that the move would ultimately be “a nightmare” for the “Israeli” entity.

“By abandoning the Kurds we have sent the most dangerous signal possible,” Graham said on Twitter.

“America is an unreliable ally and it’s just a matter of time before China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea act out in dangerous ways. The US now has no leverage and Syria will eventually become a nightmare for ‘Israel’,” the normally close ally of the president said.

It was condemned, too, by Kurdish fighters who would be abandoned to face a likely Turkish assault after fighting alongside Americans for years against the Wahhabi Daesh [Arabic acronym for “ISIS” / “ISIL”].

The announcement threw the military situation in Syria into fresh chaos and injected deeper uncertainty into US relations with European allies.

Syria’s Kurds accused the US of turning its back on allies and risking gains made in the years-long fight against Daesh.

Trump defended his decision, acknowledging in tweets that “the Kurds fought with us” but adding that they “were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so.”

“I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home,” he wrote.

If the Turks go too far, he tweeted later, “I in my great and unmatched wisdom” will destroy their economy.

Hours after the White House announcement, two senior State Department officials minimized the effects of the US action, telling reporters that only about two dozen American troops would be removed from the Turkey-Syria border, not all the US forces in the northeast of the country. They also said Turkey may not go through with a large-scale invasion and the US was still trying to discourage it.

Both officials spoke only on condition of anonymity to discuss what led to the internal White House decision.

Both Republicans and Democrats in the US have warned that allowing the Turkish attack could lead to a massacre of the Kurds and send a troubling message to American allies across the globe.

US troops “will not support or be involved in the operation” and “will no longer be in the immediate area,” in northern Syria, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in an unusual late-Sunday statement that was silent on the fate of the Kurds.

There are about 1,000 US troops in northern Syria, and a senior US official said they will pull back from the area – and could depart the country entirely should widespread fighting break out between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

For the moment, the US troops are not leaving Syria, officials said.

A US official confirmed that American troops were already moving out of the security zone area, which includes the Syrian towns of Ras al-Ayn and Tal Abyad. That official was not authorized to speak for the record and was granted anonymity to comment.

Sunday’s announcement followed a call between Trump and Erdogan, the White House said Sunday.

The decision is an illustration of Trump’s focus on ending American overseas entanglements – one of his key campaign promises. His goals of swift withdrawals in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan have been stymied.

As he faces the impeachment inquiry at home, Trump has appeared more focused on making good on his political pledges, even at the risk of sending a troubling signal to American allies abroad.

Sayyed Nasrallah’s Warning Fulfilled: US Has Abandoned Kurds in Syria

Sayyed Nasrallah’s Warning Fulfilled: US Has Abandoned Kurds in Syria

By Staff

Beirut – Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah once warned the Kurds in Syria that their so-called American allies will abandon them, once they are done using them as tools in their regional conflicts.

During his speech on the commemoration of Hezbollah Martyr Leaders on the 16th of February 2018, Sayyed Nasrallah advised the Kurds in Syria to learn from past experiences – that the Americans are using them as tools in their conflict and battle, and will eventually abandon them.

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This warning that Sayyed Nasrallah made, was fulfilled in the recent days as US President Donald Trump decided to pull back US troops from northern Syria.

Syria’s Kurds accused the US of turning its back on allies.

Trump defended his decision, acknowledging in tweets that “the Kurds fought with us” but adding that they “were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so.”

“I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home,” he wrote.

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Bolton Gone: Improved Peace Prospects?

Image result for Bolton Gone: Improved Peace Prospects?

September 13, 2019
The departure of John Bolton as US National Security Adviser is a good step towards decreasing international tensions by the Trump administration. But a lot more is needed from President Donald Trump to indicate a serious pivot to normalizing relations with Russia, Iran and others.

When Trump gave Bolton his marching orders earlier this week, the president said he “strongly disagreed” with his erstwhile security adviser over a range of foreign policy issues. Trump had also expressed frustration with Bolton’s incorrigible militarist tendencies.

There is no doubt Bolton was an odious figure in the White House cabinet. One of our SCF authors, Martin Sieff, wrote this excoriating commentary on Bolton’s nefarious record of warmongering dating as far back as the launching of US wars in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, when the mustachioed maverick served then as a chief neocon ideologue in the GW Bush administration.

One wonders why Trump brought such a war hawk into his administration when he appointed Bolton as NSA in April 2018. Perhaps, as another of our writers, Robert Bridge, surmised in a separate commentary this week, Trump was using hardliner Bolton as a foil to deflect opponents from within the Washington establishment who have been trying to undermine the president as “soft on foreign enemies”. A ruse by Trump of keeping “your enemies close”, it is averred.

Bolton certainly did his best to hamper Trump’s seeming attempts at scaling back US foreign military interventions. He opposed the plan to withdraw American troops from Syria. The reckless Bolton also wound up a policy of aggression and regime change against Venezuela, which Trump has latterly seemed to grow wary of as a futile debacle.

In regard to Russia, Bolton carried heaps of Cold War baggage which made Trump’s declared intentions of normalizing relations with Moscow more difficult.

The shameless warmonger Bolton openly advocated for regime change in Iran, which seemed to contradict Trump’s oft-stated position of not seeking regime change in Tehran, despite the president’s own animosity towards Iran.

The former NSA also opposed any attempt by Trump to engage in detente with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Reportedly, it was Bolton who derailed the incipient efforts at opening up dialogue with Pyongyang.

It is also thought that Bolton used his influence to impede Trump’s recent bid to host Taliban leaders at Camp David earlier this month which was aimed at trust-building for a proposed peace deal to withdraw US troops from that country after nearly 18 years of disastrous war.

That said, however, President Trump has not shown himself to be exactly a dovish figure. He has overseen countless sanctions being imposed on Russia, the abandoning of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty, and ongoing military support for the anti-Russia regime in Kiev.

Too, it was Trump who ordered the US collapse of the 2015 international nuclear accord with Iran in May 2018 and the re-imposition of harsh sanctions on Tehran. So, it would be misplaced to paint Bolton as the sole malign actor in the White House. Trump is personally responsible for aggravating tensions with Iran, as well as with Russia, Venezuela and others.

Nevertheless, it is to be welcomed that an inveterate war hawk like Bolton no longer has the president’s ear. Perhaps Trump can be freer to act on his instincts as a pragmatic deal-maker. One thing that the president deserves credit for is his unconventional style of engaging with nations and leaders who are designated as foes of America.

Russia this week gave a reserved response to the sacking of Bolton. The Kremlin said it would make assessments of a positive change in US policy based on actions, not mere announcements, such as the firing of Bolton. Time will tell.

It seems significant that immediately after Bolton was relieved of his post, Trump hinted to reporters that he was considering lifting sanctions off Iran if such a move persuaded Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to hold a face-to-face meeting with Trump at the United Nations general assembly in New York later this month.

Iran has repeatedly stated categorically that there will be no talks with Trump unless his administration revokes sanctions and returns to abiding by the nuclear accord. If there is a serious pivot to normal diplomacy by the White House, then what Trump does about sanctions on Iran will be a litmus test.

The same can be said about US sanctions on Russia. If Trump is earnest about a genuine reset in bilateral relations, then he must get rid of the raft of sanctions that Washington has piled on Moscow since the 2014 Ukraine crisis amid the many spurious allegations leveled against Russia.

Bolton banished is but a small step towards a more diplomatically engaged US administration. But it would be unwise to expect the departure of this one figure as being a portent for progress and a more peaceful policy emerging in Washington.

The Washington establishment, the deep state and the bipartisan War Party, with its entrenched Cold War ideology, seems to have an endemic sway over policy which may thwart Trump’s efforts to direct a less belligerent US.

To illustrate the twisted nature of the US establishment, one only had to read the way sections of the American corporate-controlled media lamented the departure of Bolton. The New York Times, which is a dutiful conduit for deep state intelligence and the foreign policy establishment, actually bemoaned the ouster of Bolton, calling him a “voice of restraint”.

The NY Times commented, with approval, on how Bolton “objected to attempts to pursue diplomatic avenues with players considered American enemies. And he angered Trump with a last-minute battle against a peace agreement with the Taliban… whether it was inviting the Taliban to Camp David or cooperating with Russia, he [Bolton] was the national security adviser who said no.”

In another piece this week, the NY Times commented, again approvingly of Bolton: “Mr Bolton strongly opposed detente with Iran, and his unceremonious ouster has reignited concerns among some Republicans [and Democrats] in Congress about the White House’s declining projection of American military power around the world.”

Can you believe it? The so-called US “newspaper of record” is somehow valorizing an out-and-out warmonger in the form of Bolton, and appears to be advocating “projection of American military power around the world”. The latter phrase being but an Orwellian euphemism for imperialism and war.

The sobering conclusion is that Bolton’s departure hardly heralds a new beginning of diplomacy and engagement by Trump, if we assume to give this president the benefit of doubt for good intentions. Bolton may be gone, but there are formidable political forces in the US establishment which will work to ensure Trump’s room for maneuver remains heavily compressed. The Cold War ideology is so ingrained in Washington, it is much bigger than just one man, whether that is the vile personage of Bolton or the more flexible Trump.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

Explaining Russia’s Position on Idlib

June 04, 2019

by Ollie Richardson for The Saker Blog

Explaining Russia’s Position on Idlib

Over the past five years my work in the information space has been consciously aimed at explaining why the Russian military does and doesn’t do certain things, whether it be in relation to Ukraine, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Venezuela, etc, and why demanding that Putin bombs everything in sight is exactly what the CIA wants so-called “pro-Russians” to say. Yet I haven’t exhausted (maybe I never will exhaust it?) this topic because it is so vast and, ultimately, complex. And it is because of this seemingly insurmountable complexity that questions like “Why doesn’t Russia liberate all of Ukraine”“Why doesn’t Russia save Donetsk and Lugansk in the same way it saved Crimea?”“Why doesn’t Russia boot America out of Syria?”, etc are asked on social media.

But one statement that I haven’t really addressed (until now) is “Why doesn’t Russia liberate all of Idlib in one fell swoop?”. Many “geniuses” like to say that Putin is in bed with the “Ottoman butcher” Erdogan and has thus “betrayed Syria”, similar to how shaking hands with Netanyahu means that Putin is a Zionist and has “betrayed Syria”, or even that a visit of the Saudi King to Moscow means that Putin has the blood of Yemen on his hands.

So, those “pro-Russian” readers who fear that they may be one step ahead of the Kremlin and can see an iceberg on the horizon needn’t worry – another Putin-esque zugswang is in progress!

When Russia sent its aviation to Hmeymim airbase in Syria in 2015 the primary mission was simple: remove Turkey – the main belligerent – from the game. Ankara benefited from ISIS’ theft of Syrian oil and controlled many jihadist groups on the ground (Ahrar al-Sham being the main one). Then in November 2015 the CIA (via the PM at the time Ahmet Davutoğlu) decided to float a test balloon and see how Russia would react to a carefully designed scenario. A Turkish F-16 shot down a Russian Su-24. It didn’t matter if the Turkish jet was in Syrian airspace or not, as Moscow knew exactly what had happened, and all the other players knew that Moscow knew. The actual murder of one of the ejecting Russian pilots was carried out by a proxy (a Grey Wolf), and not by a Turkish soldier. But in any case, this test miserably failed, because Russia did not react in a way that would contravene international law (the immediate response happened hours after the shootdown – Russian “advisors” and Syrian troops went to Latakia with MLRS and wiped out the “terrorists who were responsible”, who just happened to be Turkmen). Since military operations generally take place within the framework of economic conflicts (securing assets), the manner in which Russia responded to Turkey in the format état-à-état was the equivalent of what the lunatic Zhirinovsky suggested to do, just without the war crimes.

The sanctions on Turkey (aimed at the CIA-Gulen bloc in reality) negated what Ankara was gaining from stealing Syrian oil, and so the Syrian theater became a zero-sum game for Erdogan. In May 2016 Davutoğlu was removed from the picture. Erdogan was forced to take part in the Astana Agreement and start the process of throwing his proxies in Syria under the bus (or onto green buses!) within the framework of what was given the reputation-saving name of “de-escalation zones”.

This was Moscow’s way of countering the game orchestrated by John Kerry, where a pocket in Eastern Syria would magically open (ISIS would go on an offensive) at a time when al-Nusra was on the ropes in Western Syria. This tactic hoped to tire out the Syrian Army and Russian “advisors” and maximise their casualties. Whilst never admitted in public by Moscow (naturally), “de-escalation zones” actually meant “we will liberate Aleppo and thus recapture all of the ‘useful’ (where most people live, in the West) part of Syria, after which the pace of the theater will have been slowed down enough to start work on eliminating the other players”.

After Aleppo was liberated (the Turkish-controlled groups magically withdrew), Russia continued, via the “de-escalation zones”, to whittle down the large list of terrorist groups into two categories: terrorists no longer supported by Turkey (loyal to al-Nusra leader Jolani) and tame terrorists still supported by Turkey. The former category would be shipped to Idlib via green buses, and the latter category would be used to keep the trecherous Kurds and the CIA-Mossad “Rojava” plan at bay.

In parallel to this, the Astana group managed to smash the Gulf bloc into fragments, liquidating their pet terrorist proxies in Syria and forcing them one by one to normalise relations with Assad, since the dollar is becoming a suitcase without a handle.

The question of the S-400 is more complex and isn’t just about defending Turkish skies. It symbolises more a commitment to play by the rules of the newly emerging world order (based on self-defence and international law) and to no longer indulge in the casino known as “Responsibility to Protect” (or in simpler terms – multipolarity vs unipolarity). Similarly, Turkish Stream is another example of Moscow thrusting a lance through the rotting corpse of NATO. In general, Turkey is geographically positioned almost in the center of the battle of superpowers. For Ankara, bearing in mind that the US tried to stage a coup there in 2016 and had a hand in the assasination of Andrey Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, it is more profitable to look East than it is to look West, and this was why Turkey wasn’t in a hurry to join the EU, since it saw the geopolitical storm brewing on the horizon and wasn’t prepared to kiss the ass of the IMF anymore.

So, returning back to the Syrian timeline, whilst al-Nusra was being herded into Idlib, and since Trump cut aid to US-backed terrorists, Turkey was able to monopolise the “Free Syrian Army” aesthetics (abandoned by the US) and occupy areas of Northern Syria whilst making it look like they are “Syrian rebels” and not Turkish proxies, all for the purpose of preventing the Kurds from travelling any more Westward than they already have. And here is where the array of interests becomes interesting:

  • Russia and Iran have basic diplomatic relations with the YPG/SDF (they are Syrian citizens after all) and want them to abandon the US/Tel Aviv/Riyadh;
  • The Syrian State wants the YPG/SDF to return to the bosom of the state and hand over the territories they occupy back to the Syrian Army;
  • Turkey wants the YPG/SDF removed from the picture/disbanded entirely, but has developed ties with Russia and Iran;
  • The YPG/SDF will not negotiate with Turkey unless it can hide behind America’s skirt;
  • Formally, Syria views Turkey as an aggressor, although behind the curtain Damascus has a pragmatic consensus with Moscow, which gave Turkey the green light to enter Syria in order to quell Rojava, and which is trying to stabilise the region and include all regional players in the Eurasian bloc;

Yes, it’s complicated. But here is a simple fact that helps the layperson to understand the situation: America has nuclear weapons. This is why Russia cannot stop the US from occupying Northeast Syria (which was plan B, plan A being a replica of Gaddafi’s removal, which failed after Russia cemented the Minsk Agreements in Ukraine). It can squash its proxies that are West of the Euphrates, yes, but it cannot touch US (non-proxy) assets, in the same way that Washington cannot touch Russian (non-proxy) assets. Or rather – they can directly touch each other’s assets, but any “victory” will be completely pyrrhic. From Russia’s perspective, the aim is to make friends with everyone, since the fewer enemies one has, the better.

While the core of the Turkish proxies is busy caging in (so-called “outposts”) al-Nusra militants in Idlib governorate, repelling the Kurds, and occasionally killing US soldiers, a kind of negotiation game between Turkey and Russia is ongoing:

  • Turkey needs a terroristified Idlib as leverage against all players but is happy to hand the governorate over to Assad piece by piece in exchange for pieces of the S-400/Turk Stream/general Eurasian bloc project;
  • Russia occasionally bombs Idlib in order to exercise its superior leverage over Turkey (the media presents this as “there were talks, but Russia continues to bomb Idlib”), the interim “ceasefire deals” are simply checkpoints in these grand negotiations;
  • Turkey turns a blind eye to al-Nusra’s oil operations (which feed their occupation of the governorate);
  • As an act of “hybrid war”, Russia and friends assist in the process of assassinating the commanders of al-Nusra in Idlib, since the less leverage Turkey has, the quicker the Idlib circus can end;
  • The West broadcasts propaganda about hospitals being bombed simply to cover up the fact that they have been arming and funding Al Qaeda for decades.

The “x-factor” in this conundrum is Trump’s “pull-out”. If US troops pull out of Northeast Syria completely, it would be in Russia’s interests if Turkey filled the void and proverbially herded the Kurds back towards Assad. For America, the sooner this war ends the quicker US troops can return home, but Trump won’t exit without getting something in return. However, there is a big problem – Zionism. Tel Aviv tries to keep America in Syria. Netanyahu didn’t spend all that time begging Uncle Sam to invade Iraq just for him to leave when the going got tough. Moreover, Iraq is already falling into the hands of Iran, and sooner or later the S-400 will be sat in Mesopotamia. Not to mention the fact that Russia is entrenching itself in Lebanon. Did I mention that Trump’s (purposeful?) decisions (and failed “deals of the century”) are strengthening the Palestinian resistance (example)? So what in all honesty does Israel hope to do?

Well, since everything that happened in the Middle East since 2001 (and arguably even earlier) is mainly in Israel’s interests, especially the Syrian war, it’s not a surprise that 8 years of full-scale local proxy warfare has reduced to… Israel taking aerial pot shots at a limited slice of Syrian territory. I have already explained why Russia doesn’t react to these airstrikes in the way that social media guerrillas would like, and all that has happened since is Netanyahu’s election victory. I would only add that bombing Syria became even riskier for Tel Aviv, since the SAA air defence units gain more experience with each new raid. Moscow managed to make a nice gesture to Israel, recovering from Syria the remains of an Israeli soldier missing since the 1982 war in Lebanon, but it wasn’t done for the purpose of stopping the airstrikes. It was simply a typical Russian diplomatic move based on the concept of “violence doesn’t beget violence”. Deflecting Israel’s airstrikes is the job of the Syrian air defences. The Israeli media presents this as “Russia has friendly relations with Israel and knows that Jerusalem considers Iran its leading existential threat, so does not block Israeli strikes at Iranian targets and those of its proxies, but on one condition: Stay out of Russia’s way and give ample warning so there won’t be a repeat of incidents like the one in which Syria shot down a Russian spy plane, possibly because of confusing signals by Israel”. However, in reality Russia wants Syria to become an independent adult, capable of defending itself without requiring Russia’s help, and it is only in this way that Syria will be able to successfully integrate itself into the Eurasian bloc. Of course, logically speaking, if Israel just left Syria alone and minded its own business, then Iranian forces wouldn’t even be in Syria. But I think that most know by now that Israel wanted (and maybe still wants) to carve Syria into 3 pieces along sectarian lines.

Another layer of the Israel problem is the fact that America is standing behind it (and thus the diplomatic support of many banana republics) and an illegal nuclear program, so it’s leverage when compared to Syria’s is superior, hence why the airstrikes happen in the first place. The incident with the downing of the Russian surveillance plane didn’t really change much, because Moscow knows that apartheid Israel is the main troublemaker in the Middle East (and even more so in Ukraine – those who truly understand Ukrainian history will understand why I say this), and the Syrian war coming to an end (whilst strengthening Israel’s neighbours in parallel) is in itself a blow to Tel Aviv.

What is very common to see now is countries seemingly sat on two chairs – the West and Eurasia. For example: Serbia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia show signs of looking both West and East. What is going on in reality is many tugs of war between superpowers, and the stronger Russia’s military and China’s economy become, the more it tips the scales in their favour, and the more “multipolar” the world becomes. It’s not that the US’ influence in a “converted” country disappears (the creation of NGOs is not illegal, and liberalism as an ideology cannot be physically destroyed), but more that the influence becomes less as the country adjusts to the new global economic reality. Although if Trump is indeed playing 4D chess with the “deep state” and is deliberately de-globalising the planet, then this shrinking of influence may be more fluid and less volatile than it seems.

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In summary: Turkey – the driving force behind the Anglo-Israeli proxies in Syria – was forced to abandon its plans in Syria after NATO’s Su-24 shootdown gambit failed; Ankara and Moscow now mutually exchange a piece of Idlib for a piece of S-400; the Syrian war is now at the “exit negotiations” stage, but Israel doesn’t want to be left alone with a stronger Syrian Army, Hezbollah, and Palestinian resistance at its border; Russia isn’t in a hurry to liberate Idlib, since an alternative plan is to let the jihadists kill each other like spiders in a jar, thus the lives of SAA soldiers are not put in danger unnecessarily.

PS I am well aware that Turkey creates local councilsmilitary adminstrations, and civilian infrastructure in North Syria, and I am not an advocate of such behavior but I don’t pretend to be more qualified than the Kremlin when it comes to solving such problems. I doubt that the Kurds would have behaved any different had they succeeded to create “rojava” in the summer of 2016. As for America, just look at what it has done to Raqqa and Mosul. Out of these options, I would prefer a temporary Turkish occupation, knowing that in the near future the situation would improve.

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