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25 June 2015

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William R. Cumming

Thanks for this post! The Turks are a proud nation-state but IMO nation-states that do not control their borders are disqualified.

Why are the Turks so cavalier about their borders?

turcopolier

WRC

There are "nations" and then there are "nation-states." "Nation-state" implies a state the boundaries of which are co-extensive with an ethno-linguistic "nation." There are not many of these. pl

Patrick Bahzad

They probably have their own reasons ...

A question though, does the US control its Southern border well enough to prevent a steady inflow of illegal immigrants ? No it doesn't.
Does it disqualify the US as a nation, a State or a nation-State ? According to your logic, it should ;-)

turcopolier

All

I am told that on the SW Syria front the Israelis intend to try to transform the Syrian Druze into a buffer against IS. The Izzies are not concerned with all the other menagerie beasts among the Syrian rebels but they fear IS and wish to be freed of the threat by constructing something like their SLA strategy in south Lebanon long ago. There are many Druze in the IDF and Israeli police. These may be an asset in this effort or maybe not. The main Israeli local concern remains Hizbullah and they have no idea how to deal with that threat. pl

Matthew

Col: I read an idiotic comment yesterday on another tread where someone said the Kurds "were beating ISIS" just with AK-47's. Not to diminish the bravery of Kurds, but American airpower helps. A lot.

Matthew

Col: Well, the Israelis could stop preventing Lebanon from developing a real air force and taking control of its own airspace. That might dim Hezbollah's appeal.

Tyler

PB,

As someone on the front lines there, trust me - there are those who would happily see the US as little more than a bazaar with a song and flag.

confusedponderer

Matthew,
Lebanon doesn't have a real air force and doesn't control its own airspace and the Israelis like and want to keep it that way.

AFAIK the IDF is making sonic booms over Beirut every odd day or so just to remind the locals they're there. Needless to say, the same conduct by Russia over the Baltics or Kiev would have the US screaming bloody murder.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/lebanon-army-says-iaf-jets-violated-country-s-airspace-1.333366

http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/UN-protests-Israels-violation-of-Lebanon-airspace-312397

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13931203001146

The US is thowing used F16 at everybody who doesn't get up his tree fast enough. Lebanon doesn't get any, nor will they get a decent air defence.

Patrick Bahzad

Regarding Druze and Israel, the talk is about turning the mainly Druze areas in the Golan Heights into some sort of militarized buffer zone, preferably patrolled by local Druze police and the IDF's Druze 'Herev' Infantry Battalion.

However, the Druze on the Golan Heights (occupied by Israel in 1967 and annexed in 1981) still have very strong ties to the Syrian Druze and are not particularly pro-Israel, unlike the Druze in Israel's Northern region.

Hizbollah in South Lebanon is indeed seen as the more potent threat by the political establishment and part of the military, mainly because of their balistic capabilities (something the Jihadis in SW Syria don't have). This idea of a buffer zone can thus be traced back to several reasons.

However, there is growing concern in Israel about an emerging threat in Gaza, and to a lesser degree in East Jerusalem, where ISIS cells and groups are trying to establish a permanent presence.

In Gaza in particular, they're trying to get more popular among the locals, attempting to infiltrate and dislodge Hamas and linking up with IS affiliated groups in the Sinai, which would also increase the threat on Israeli Red Sea area around Eilat.

FB Ali

An interesting and useful post, PB.

However, it makes no reference to a couple of other important ingredients of the situation. One is the West's assistance to the YPG in terms of weapons, training, planning and, more than likely, battlefield assistance by SF (especially in directing air attacks).

The second is the role of Turkey, which is opposed to the YPG, and is believed to unofficially assist the IS. It is quite likely that the West has planned and directed this YPG attack to cut the access links between Turkey and the IS areas. The latest IS attacks appear to be a counter to such a cut-off, and probably have Turkish blessing.

Beneath this IS-YPG confrontation a deeper conflict is ongoing between the West and Turkey.

Babak Makkinejad

Do you know more precisely what country is actually helping YPG?

I cannot credit Europeans doing so, my guess would be the United States.

But I defer to you if you can shed any more light on this.

Patrick Bahzad

General,

Your additionnal information is very welcome. I wanted to keep this post short and sharp and stick to operational aspects of what is going on at the moment.

Turkey's role in the ongoing fight against ISIS would probably deserve a long piece in it own right, that is why I avoided referring explicitly to it.

Reactions in Ankara to further advance of YPG groups have been quite negative already. The deeper conflict between Turkish and Western interests is one thing you're right, but for the Turks it is just as important to ascertain their neo-Ottoman role in the ME as to avoid the establishment of a large semi-autonomous Kurdish enclave south of their border, in addition to autonomous Kurdistan in Iraq.

From that point of view, there is probably a very cynical balancing act going on in Turkey, where they want to make sure neither the YPG nor the IS gets too much of an upper hand.

At the moment, they're probably trying to come up with new "creative" ways of containing the YPG gains and allowing IS to take back some of the lost territory, especially along the border, as IS acts as a good buffer between Kurds North and South of the border between Turkey and Syria.

That the Kurdish YPG offensive has been coordinated with the West, possiby having enjoyed help from a number of "advisers", is very likely, considering how much coordination there has been between ground operations and air strikes during the advance towards Ain Issa.

mbrenner

An innocent question. It touches on the question of manpower. For a year now, we have been treated to a barrage of reports about the rapidly expanding ISIL army. The two sources are: a wave of foreign fighters; conscription from among the population they control. The numbers floating around have been upwards of 100,000. Yet, somehow, wherever they are confronted by a reasonably coherent opposition force (acting with or without US airpower - march to Tikrit is latter instance)ISIL is defeated or retreats. In most instances, they are said to be outmanned rather than outgunned. Their counter maneuvers, e.g. Ramadi, are tactically brilliant but involve only hundreds of troops.

Could someone more knowledgeable than I please explain this New Math

FkDahl

ISIS is not exactly a Cat A Soviet Motorized Division where the logistics requirements have been estimated and the number of supply trucks per day required is known within reasonable limits (dreamy flashback to younger years).
My question is: what is the logistics footprint of ISIS? How much fuel, jihadists and ammo are they burning through?
Would cutting the border with Turkey have any significant impact? (cough... NATO allies .. cough cough) or do they have enough ammo on hand from booty, and since pickups don't burn that much fuel (compared to a tank!) their consumption is insignifcant compared to the civilian population in the area?
Talking about pickups, since there seems to an active trade in used pickups (e.g. a plumber in Texas), has anyone tracked this trade or started equipping them with hidden transponders?

Fred

cp,

as you know weapons don't fight soldiers do. Just how unified is the social structure of Lebanon that would allow the time to actual develop a capable air force?

Claud_Alexander

To add a small footnote about Turkey, I'd note that, independently of the election results, the Turkish economy seems distinctly vulnerable.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11660864/Turkey-becomes-first-domino-for-emerging-market-debtors-as-politics-split-country.html

It could be that, having grown up in South America in the closing decades of the last century, I'm over-sensitive to lines such as,

"Turkish companies were left heavily exposed as they grapple with record levels of hard currency debt left from an unchecked credit boom." ,

, but I've seen how these have the potential to become breaker of nations, or at least of said nations' foreign policy forward-policies.

FB Ali

I'm afraid I do not know. The Germans and Canadians are helping the Iraqi Kurds (PM).

It may well be the US that is doing it in the case of the YPG. The Canadian SF have become, in effect, a junior partner of the US SF. So some of them may well have been 'sub-contracted' out to the YPG.

mbrenner

A feature of references to Turkey's role in supporting both al-Nusra and ISIL is the only fleeting mention of Washington. We hear virtually nothing as to American efforts to alter Turkish behavior. Any insight as to what - if anything - we are doing, and why it seems unavailing would be helpful to the discussion.

The Obama people seem congenitally incapable of resisting any strong-willed party with access to Washington's antechambers of power - Israel. KSA, Turkey among others. By contrast we are awfully good at attacking Huthis and trying to humiliate the Iranians.

VietnamVet

MB

Washington DC has a fundamental problem in that it doesn’t have the American people in the fight. The Middle East and Ukraine wars are strictly professional efforts to void the sequestration of DOD funds. Russia was chosen as the perfect villain in this play. But, the USA is dependent on proxies on the ground. YPG is similar Donbass rebels. An inclusive secular movement among an ethnic group; while the Jihadists and the Ukraine neo-fascists are at root insular fanatics. The Islamic State was born because the Sunnis did not want to be ruled by Shiites. Northern Iraq fell into their lap when the ISIL and Baathists partnered together. Ukraine was seized by a Western coup.

The problem for wars for profit is that they never end and the participants are uncontrollable. The American bombing is to perpetuate the fighting not end it.

William R. Cumming

YUP!

William R. Cumming

Agree!

Patrick Bahzad

Was just using WRC's image to show it could be used to describe what's going on in "el Norte" ... No doubt the revolving saloon door policy has its opponents there too :-)

William R. Cumming

Agree!

Patrick Bahzad

MB,

I'm afraid there isn't that much the US can do to push turkey into a corner. Remember how Turkish parliament opposed any invasion of Iraq from Turkish territory in 2003 ? They're a sovereign country and a big player in the ME. They got their own interests to defend.
The only reasonable thing to do is try and get them fully onboard a comprehensive blockade policy of their border, to sqeeze the life out of ISIS, but that calls for returning the favour with regard to the Kurds for example, which is problematic because the US needs the Kurds in their anti ISIS startegy as well.
Not an easy equation !

mike

Kurdish news reports are claiming that the attck in Kobani was three-pronged.

1] Two VBIED trucks crossing from Turkey with drivers plus Daesh fighters in FSA uniforms.
2] Multiple Daesh vehicles with YPG flags coming from the east this time dressed in YPG uniforms and shouting Kurdish slogans and singing Kurdish nationalist songs at checkpoints.(my thought is there had to be some Kurd Islamists in this group and not all foreign fighters)
3] A third prong from the south taking the village of Berikh Batan where reportedly a massacre of civilians took place.

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