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09 December 2015


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Tail wags the dog in DC though, I suspect they will try and go with the federalised system.


the problem is not leading from behind, nor is it deputising locals.

The problem is handing them your foreign policy to do as they see fit, lest you lose them as allies. The US has, by undue deference, maneuvered hereself in a tail-wags-dog situation vis a vis the Saudis and the Israelis, and the Turks are busily trying to achieve the same.

The US has little leverage over their nominal allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia, who have demonstrated very independent behaviour.

The Obamaites publicly maintain that this is not happening but try to cope with the consequences in their trademark calculated passive-aggressive way while clinging to their own goals as dictated by Borg groupthink.

At the same time their critics who do call for DIRCET and DECISIVE US leadership are frauds, since there is no way that the US military is in a position to ikplement the goals as dictated by Borg group think on their own. That is, they may bitch and moan about Obnama's fecklessness and lack of direct leadership and intervention - but the US is simply not capable to do what they are calling for.

The US have occupied Iraq for several years and spent billions there and yet they have been unable to shape the country or government according to their own ideas of how it should be. There's a lesson in that.

What the US could do, and do very well and decisively, is to bomb something to smithereens. McCain would probably a public orgasm over that. And then? Air power cannot conquer ground and change regimes or shape post-war outcomes. It can wreck things and kill and maim people. If that needed illustration, one only needs to take a look at Libya today. Anybody here who finds that attractive?

Policing by air-strike doesn't work either. The US military, especially the ground forces, needs to recover from the strain of a decade of continuous deployment, and there is no public will to do another invasion to impose the US will on Syria for example. Obama's critics ignore that.

Obama appears to understand that, and his "leaqdership from behind" is his answer to that conundrum - with all its aforementioned shortcomings. Perhaps his detractors understand that too, bet even when they do, that wouldn't keep them from accusing Obama anyway.

An alternative answer would be to say that, given the limits of US power, prudence would moderate US political objectives - but, since being a hegemon is the cornerstone of the US foreign policy consensus, such heresies are beyond the pale.

FB Ali

An excellent post, CP. I think you have it exactly right.

FB Ali

There is a big difference between supplies coming through/from Turkey, and the Turkish government providing them.

As I said earlier, Erdogan has 'used' IS to advance his own agenda (eg, tear apart the Syrian and Iraqi states). So long as they served that purpose he turned a blind eye to the support they receive from and through Turkey. When it becomes counter-productive to help them, he will not hesitate to turn around and strangle, or even attack, them.

FB Ali

I agree that "the US is not trying to create a Sunni state" in Iraq. However, I think US policy makers would be happy to see a Sunni (as well as a Kurd) entity be formed in Iraq, while maintaining the facade of an Iraqi state.


MK Bhadrakumar presents persuasive evidence (in the last paragraph excerpted below) that Turkey is acting in accordance with NATO.

NATO taunts Russia, Turkey makes hay http://atimes.com/2015/12/nato-taunts-russia-turkey-makes-hay/
Suffice it to say, NATO has decided to send a stark message to Moscow that it cannot hope to dominate Syria (or Iraq), and if it persists on the present path, Turkey will resist Russia (and Iran) on the ground under NATO protection. Thus, in rapid moves, British, French and German warplanes are being deployed in Incirlik; hundreds of German military personnel are arriving in Incirlik; Italy has decided to deploy Patriot missiles in Turkey (a similar move by Spain is expected); Denmark is dispatching frigates to protect Turkey from Russia’s S-400 missiles and to provide electronic intelligence through jammers; US has decided to keep the USS Donald Cook in the region (equipped with Aegis missile defence systems and Tomahawk missiles that can protect Turkey from ballistic missile attacks). …

Moscow’s assessment is borne out by the latest news that Turkey has made a stunning move to rush a battalion of crack troops with tanks and heavy artillery in Mosul in the night of Thursday. At a stroke, the great game tensions have assumed dangerous proportions. Turkey did not take permission from the Iraqi government. Baghdad has reacted furiously calling the “incursion” a gross violation of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and demanding that Ankara should withdraw the troops from Iraqi soil, while Ankara maintains, funnily, that its troops hope to provide “training” to the Iraqi forces.

The big question is why Turkey has acted like this. The Turkish incursion closely follows the NATO meeting in Brussels just a day earlier, which decided to strengthen Turkey’s defences. Typically, the US and NATO will now maintain that they have had nothing to do with the Turkish incursion into Iraq, but it doesn’t need any ingenuity to figure out what is afoot.

Looks like the US and NATO finally have come up with some sort of plan to respond to Russia's Syria strategy.


Here is a news report on meetings between Barzani and Turkey occurring yesterday and today.

"The head of the KRG Parliamentary Committee for Industry and Energy, Sherko Jawdat, said on Sunday that Turkey and the KRG have a strategic agreement on the delivery of gas in 2017.

"Kurdish gas will reach Europe via Turkey. The Kurdish region can fill the gap created by Russia's gas cut-off to Europe," Jawdat said.

Gas reserves in Irbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah are estimated to be more than 1.7 trillion cubic meters, but will reach up to near 2.4 trillion cubic meters if the disputed areas between the KRG and central Iraqi government in Baghdad, including Kirkuk, are made available for use.

Additionally, the head of the Energy Committee of Sulaymaniyah, Galip Muhammed, said Sulaymaniyah is the richest province in the region in terms of gas reserves, holding 1.5 trillion cubic meters of natural gas alone."Sulaymaniyah has almost 80 percent of the natural gas reserves of the KRG," he said, adding that Sulaymaniyah's gas has the best quality in the region, but has not been evaluated yet."

Babak Makkinejad



i agree fb ali.. and for all the dictators the usa has been happy to install, i don't believe the interest in democracy is much more then a good front to conceal the intent to be able to manipulate whoever is in power to their own economic agenda.


yes - and the us/nato are siding with turkey who have all but openly supported ISIS while working towards the great image erdogan has of himself as leader recreating the ottoman empire.. i wouldn't want to associate with any of that, but it does appear that this is the wests game plan at this point..



Another economic determinist heard from, sad, you will never understand what drives the US by trivializing it this way in the service of trite academic drivel. pl


Expect to see funding efforts for this in early 2016 led by Turkey with European banking support. Iraq, Iran and Russia which supplies Turkey with energy will of course have objections. Turkey will position this as in the better interests of Europe to have alternative O&G supply sources. It is hard to argue with that logic especially once Turkey poked the bear a few weeks ago. Barzani et al may feel that not only is it a good move, it may be the only one given Iraqi government fiscal incompetence and Shia corruption and the hard geographic realities facing the Kurds - namely that there is only one direction to realistically export O&G.


Col. I wonder if there is someone on the forum that might give us a sense of the present mood of the population around Mosul.

One might see them facing these options: 1. continued governance by IS 2. possible Turkish control in 2016-17 in some manner to be determined or 3. a Iraqi government redux possibly 2017.


Perhaps good news coming from Ramadi. Surprised the article is only talking about a couple of hundred IS fighters left and 1700 odd families total.


Considering how attempts for changing civilian governmental authority around the world is going, and by whom, it is more like 1917.


Interesting juxtaposition of articles, cp.

"While I still think that the West's ultimate aim is to have Iraq end up in three entities ‒ Kurdish, Sunni and Shia"

Would be interesting to trace this meme from its earliest genesis and or rumors in the post Mission Accomplished universe.


"what US, Russia, Gulfies, China, or EU wish or do not wish."

Would be interesting to trace the genesis of the idea that the West/the neocons (/...)want to divide Iraq into ethnically (? - kurds, shia, sunni)pure smaller states in the post Mission accomplished universe and all its variations in interpretation of the reality now.


In the time of the first Gulf War the neocons, Wolfowitz, Libby et all wanted to divide Iraq that way. I argued strongly against it. pl


"Seen this advocated by the usual Zionist mouthpieces"

Which of the "usual * mouthpieces"?

Doug Colwell

Have I misunderstood something? Tomahawk missiles can stop ballistic missiles?


Hey Doug, I'm outta my depth on the missile issue, but I looked up some missile info and found the following.

Apparently the Aegis missile defense system was "developed to provide missile defense against short to intermediate-range ballistic missiles."

And the full parenthetical comment you mentioned from the article says: "equipped with Aegis missile defence systems and Tomahawk missiles that can protect Turkey from ballistic missile attacks" ... so I think MKB must have meant the Aegis system was the protection against ballistic missiles.

While surfing for missile info came across this interesting tidbit on upcoming US missile defense capabilities.

SM-6 Can Now Kill Both Cruise AND Ballistic Missiles http://breakingdefense.com/2015/08/sm-6-can-now-kill-both-cruise-and-ballistic-missiles/
More here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIM-174_Standard_ERAM

Hopefully one of the military hardware geeks here knows more.


thanks.. we see it differently.. i don't need to belittle the usa's intentions.. there actions speak well enough on the matter..


Russia will have a great ally in Le Pen, Liga Nord, Pegida-types in the E.U. against Erdogan and it's "fifth-column" (not my view but the anti-immigrant Party's view) inside the boarder.


It is discussed by Israel Shahak in regard to the Oded Yinon Plan for the ME published in 1982.


Although I believe the fracturing of the ME along sectarian lines goes back to Ben Gurion, probably before then too.



You have no factual basis for thinking what you do of the intentions of the US in its misadventures. You simply believe what you do because like a lot of people you think man does live by bread alone. Give me examples of the US looting some other country's natural resources. I expect that the response will be US investment and trade overseas. pl

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