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15 September 2014


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alba etie

Its past time to reconsider if Turkey is a reliable ally .


All, I found the piece by Bernhard today to add a bit of detail to my limited understanding of the various shifting alliance and Turkey's trot: Syria: The Southern Attack On Damascus http://www.moonofalabama.org/

This bit interested me:

"The anti-government forces now control a 40 miles (70km) long, three miles (5km) wide strip from Jordan along the Golan frontier up to Lebanon. This strip can be used to infiltrate into Hizbullah territory in south Lebanon but its main purpose is likely an attack on Damascus from the south. The Syrian military would have great difficulties to dislodge the anti-government forces from this strip as it is covered by Israeli anti-air and artillery fire.

"There are rumors that Jabhat al-Nusra is leaving positions it has been holding in Hama governate in north Syria. It's groups are pulling back into Turkey to be transferred to Jordan and then as reinforcements into Quneitra."


Turkey was never going to be allowed into the EU. That was real clear well before Erdogan took power. The thought of a major Muslim state, secular or otherwise, joining a white Christian political and economic power bloc was opposed by all major EU powers, though we were happy to keep dangling that carrot in front of the donkey.

Check out how long Turkey has had to wait for admission as compared to, say, Estonia.

As for NATO membership, apart from making themselves major targets for first or second strike USSR targets because they accepted US nuclear missiles aimed at the USSR, what benefit have they seen?

Didn't, the first Bush promise a ton of aid to Turkey if they allowed US forces to launch attacks against Iraq in the first Gulf War, then tell them to go screw themselves afterwards?

Why should they cooperate with us? They've been lied to and cheated for generations.

And didn't Israel kill a bunch of their unarmed civilians a while back. I remember it and I'm sure they do.



I would merely add Turkey to the lengthening list of Middle East countries that the US can no longer count as "reliable partners:" Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Israel, among others. Each look to the US only to cover their regimes' backs and fight their wars for them when the enemy is too big.

Let's see. Who does that leave? Jordan? Wow! Now there's an important ally!

By comparison with this list of fair weather friends, Iran doesn't look so bad. At least their stance toward the US is frank and honest.



b has this piece on Moon of Alabama.

This "plan" is a bit too convenient and has an odor of the narghile about it. From Quneitra to Damascus there is nothing but an open plain dotted with villages. The "crossing point" is the UNDOF check point. If this is really a plan on the part of the opposition it is necessary to believe that the Israelis are cooperating to this extent with their deadly enemies. I do not believe that. They are smarter than this. If this is attempted, the Israelis should take note. This would be a target rich environment. pl

 Ishmael Zechariah

Col. Lang, SST;

The attached links, somewhat in chronological order, might give a bit of context to the issue.

1996: http://www.nytimes.com/1996/08/21/opinion/who-lost-turkey.html
2009: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/11/25/how_the_west_lost_turkey
2006: www.newsweek.com/who-lost-turkey-105633
2010: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/the-anatolian-tiger-how-the-west-is-losing-turkey-a-700626.html

It is also said that the secular elements within the Turkish Military no longer considers USA government a trustworthy ally given its support for "democracy" and the "Free Kurdistan" project over the past several decades. FWIW, Erdogan is a supporter of the said project.

Ishmael Zechariah


I believe b's post noted this: "The Syrian military would have great difficulties to dislodge the anti-government forces from this strip as it is covered by Israeli anti-air and artillery fire"
and "While two Syrian army divisions are stationed between Quneitra governate and Damascus coordinated air attacks against them could open and secure a route from Quneitra governate into the capital."

I am certain the Israelis have not missed this. The problem seems to me that our American "missions" are often at cross-purposes. Is the IS issue the imperative, or is getting rid of Assad the goal?



It is rumored that Erdogan is attempting to trade greater cooperation for extradition of Gulen. pl



Right now, we are Brother Bear facing Brother Rabbit who is enticing us to jump into the briar patch. We have already been fully suckered by AQ, http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2013/11/download-part-i-understanding-syria.html We should not permit ourselves to be so suckered again.

In earlier discussions on this blog, I have taken the position that a new, true state is forming. Many of you disagreed with me. The recent rejection of Obama’s overtures throughout the region and the continuing trajectory of Turkey only reinforce my impression of a synthesizing state. Initially, I thought that the real founders of the new state, whatever its name ultimately turns out to be, were the Sunni tribes and their leaders in Iraq. My vision was too narrow. Instead, it appears there will be multiple competing threads seeking control and a charter membership, including some in Turkey, Syria, Jordan, and KSA. Every new competitor for a founder status just increases the likelihood that a Caliphate will soon emerge as a real state with all of the functional features of a “Westphalian” state except for agreed-upon borders because the Caliphate meme extends to a dream of worldwide Islamic domination.

The meme of the Caliphate is just too basic and fundamental within Islamic history, memory, and thought for it to be dismissed and to be “contained”, “degraded”, and “defeated” within the present historical context.

Current western policy expressed by Obama in his ISIS speech is simply wrong, historically and practically. Obama bases his policy upon these false assumptions:

“Now let's make two things clear: ISIL is not "Islamic." No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL's victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. It was formerly al-Qaeda's affiliate in Iraq, and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria's civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It is recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way. when he preached,”


The statement that “No religion condones the killing of innocents,” is laughable. If history teaches any lesson, it is that one of the fundamental features of nearly all religions is that they repeatedly kill innocents. A very large swath of western history is the history of various religious sects killing innocents. Likewise, similar killings under the cloak of “religion” make up the history of most of the rest of the world.

The argument that ISIL is merely a terrorist organization and thus cannot be a state is equally fallacious. For now, but not perhaps later, ISIL is the standard bearing manifestation of the meme of the Sunni Islamic Caliphate over which there appear which many contenders for control. Even in the most recent history, Obama neglects to remember that Israel started as a terrorist movement and, in many ways, continues to be a terrorist state as it continues to use terrorism against its Palestinian and other opponents.

Increasingly, Turkey is on a trajectory to emerge as a province, if not the capitol, of the emerging state. The Caliphate is now formed, yet still emerging. Ultimately, in some form or another, it will probably encompass all of Turkey, Sunni Iraq, most of Syria, Jordan, and most likely at lease the regions containing Jidda and Mecca, if not all of the Sunni regions of the KSA.

No western policy or strategy will be able to stop this process because the idea has reached maturity within the mental genes of too many young Sunnis to be derailed. Western policy should be fashioned to treat the problem as a problem of balances of power between the competing regional powers and to reap whatever advantages that can be obtained by playing the competitors against each other, while staying out of the heart of the conflict as much as possible.

As I see it, the only policy that may be viewed 25 years hence as a wise and successful one will be a policy where the west stands back and lets the Islamic players slug it out among themselves. If the West continues its current R2P policies, when we look back from 2040 (if the human race survives that long) the current western policy will be seen simply as stupid and suicidal.

Somehow, the language of the western meme covering this thing needs to be modified to permit US to step back and watch the upcoming gory show without wading in too deep into the looming quicksand.

How can we help US "get real" with the new meme and stop wanting to tear around in the briars?



"I am certain the Israelis have not missed this." From their heavily fortified positions on the crest of the Golan the Israelis can literally see all the way to Damascus. They have all kinds of surveillance gear including night vision stuff that they manufacture. Their artillery frequently fires on targets they watch out on the Damascus plain. As I said earlier I don't think the Israelis are dumb enough to participate in the victory of Islamist groups over the SAG. pl



Excellent piece. Pls make it into a post. BTW, while IS has numerous intermediary objectives the main objective has to be KSA. pl

robt willmann

Getting rid of Assad is the goal of the governments of the U.S., Britain, and Israel. Isis is the false cover story and pretext for the attempt to overthrow the Syrian government; the Isis (IS) issue is not an imperative at all.

Babak Makkinejad

I also think you are underestimating Turkey's cohesion as a historical state with a long pedigree and overestimating the appeal of khaliphate to Turks.

There will be no Turkey under Khaliphate; Turkey will have to have disintegrated from within due to civil religious war between Sunnis and Alawites before that ever happens.

All these wars require money; ISIS is no exception; it has to get money from somewhere to expand via war - I doubt that those funds would come from KSA or Turkey once they themselves are recognized as targets.

I agree that ISSI will expand and endure for many years, however.


Certainly, control of the Hajj is the Jewell in the Crown!

 Ishmael Zechariah

Col. Lang,

AFAIK this is true. Were this to happen it would be a really interesting time for all; Sxit would really be on.

Interesting times.

Ishmael Zechariah

 Ishmael Zechariah

Dr. Makkinejad,

"Turkey will have to have disintegrated from within due to civil religious war between Sunnis and Alawites before that ever happens."

The secular progressives will be on the side of the Alawites, and there are quite a bit of us.

Ishmael Zechariah.


Thank you, Col. Lang for this reply.


robt willman

For your theory to work the US will have had to connive in a multi-level chess game with many moves foreseen well in advance. So, according to this theory the US set IS up to destroy the Iraqi army as a ploy to get US ground troops back in the ME and take out Assad? This sounds like a paper that could have been written by ISW. pl



BTW, the UNDOF check point that people are talking about is east of the Israeli forts and at a lower elevation. It is about halfway between the forts and the ruined city of Quneitra. pl

robt willmann

Well, not entirely. I have not been clear (again). Regardless of who is running Isis, the U.S. is using the existence of Isis as a cover and pretext and excuse to get at Syria and "finish the job" of overturning the Syrian government by force and violence.

Back on March 20, 2013, president Obama held a joint press conference with Israeli prime minister Netanyahu. Obama publicly said: "The United States continues to work with allies and friends and the Syrian opposition to hasten the end of Assad's rule..." (paragraph 28). "... I believe that the Assad regime has lost all credibility and legitimacy. I think Assad must go -- and I believe he will go" (paragraph 41). Netanyahu said: "Mr. President, we discussed today the situation in Syria. We share the goal of seeing a stable and peaceful Syria emerge from the carnage that we have witnessed over the last two years" (paragraph 7).


This public display of gangsterism was a year and a half ago. Assad is still there and the "Syrian opposition" has not been successful. This results in great agitation in the foreign policy establishment when a little country like Syria refuses to say, "Yes, Master", because other countries might become emboldened to lift the middle finger when the U.S. comes calling with demands.

Who was involved in creating Isis and who is presently directing it is an open question, especially for us in the general public. I think at this time that some involvement by the U.S. cannot be ruled out, and neither can the possibility that the U.S., without being directly involved with Isis, has stood idly by while being aware of Isis getting underway and what it is up to, but has taken no action because Isis might become useful to the U.S., as has now occurred.

But me and the ISW? That is not possible, drunk or sober!

robt willmann

On Tuesday, 16 September, at 9:30 a.m. eastern time, Sec. Def. Hagel and CJCS Gen. Dempsey will appear before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee to talk about "U.S. policy towards Iraq and Syria and the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)."



The Israelis have several times helped Nusra and aligned forces against the Syrian army. Their typical excuse is that "shots have been fired in Israel's direction" and the consequence, no matter who fired those "shots", was always an artillery barrage in Syrian army positions.

Nusra would not have had any chance to establish itself in Quneitra if the Israelis would not have helped them.

Israel may well feel that a chaotic Syria with several Islamic groups fighting each other (think Libya) would be no danger. The geography is clearly to Israel's advantage. It can take out any heavy weapon that may come near.

Sept 4, 2014
Israel strikes Syrian army position near Golan Heights

August 27, 2014
Al-Nusra Front captures Syrian Golan Heights crossing

June 23, 2014
Israel hits Syrian army on Golan after teen killed

March 19, 2014
Israeli warplanes strike Syrian military positions in Golan Heights

Above links from a 10 sec search - there were more such incidents.


"This "plan" is a bit too convenient and has an odor of the narghile about it. "

The plan I describe is what the Syrian and Russian high commands are expecting. Too dumb a plan? As dumb as invading Iraq? Maybe.

Bandar had tried roughly the same plan in spring 2013 but it failed for lack of manpower and air support. Both factors are now being worked on.


Thank you, Colonel.



"The plan I describe is what the Syrian and Russian high commands are expecting..." Really? How do you know that? The comparison to the Iraq invasion betrays willingness to make inappropriate arguments for the mere "scoring of points." The decision to invade Iraq was a political decision not a military decision. The actual invasion was actually carried out completely according to plan in spite of constant interference in operations by von Rumsfeld and his civilian flunkies. This operation would be launched from a very shallow strip of land with a potential enemy just behind the force. Where would the logistics base for this force be located, in Galilee? The Israelis are reported, on occasion, to have indirectly given help to the Nusra Front when such help coincided with Israeli desire to prevent Assad taking delivery of equipment that they did not want the Syrian Army to have? The coincidence of events is not proof of causality. pl

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