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14 February 2016

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annamaria

meanwhile, the Kiev regime has been shelling civilians in the pro-federalizaion region in eastern Ukraine. Perhaps the previous suggestion that the US would try to keep the Russians being occupied both in Syria (with the help of Erdogan and the Princes) and Ukraine (with the help of the US "assets" in the current Kiev government) is indeed a valid prediction.

Degringolade

I think that two Arthur Conan Doyle quote fit in nicely here.

"The game is afoot."

"His ignorance was as remarkable as his knowledge."

This is truly getting interesting. Just how ballsy are the Sauds and the Turks?

What is our response?

Just how committed is Russia?

I am watching almost breathlessly.

Wow

mbrenner

At this point, the pivotal decision center is in Washington. As the Colonel explains, the above reports indicate that the White House has not moved beyond its "moderate' rebels/ Russian air strikes/ civilian casualties/do what we say litany. There is no serious media commentary about what is going on behind the scene - in Washington or diplomatically. I think that it would be a great public service, as well as boost to he enlightenment of regular SST contributors, if knowledgeable people could pool their resources to clarify what the hell is going on in the less than hallowed corridors of power.

FB Ali

Col Lang,

"Sunni juggernaut"! I presume you are being sarcastic.

The maximum one can expect realistically from the Arab contribution to the Turkish force is some token Saudi SF, some Gulfie mercenaries, and some press-ganged Sudanese. Just enough to show the flag.

I don't think Sisi will contribute anything worthwhile to an MB enterprise.

turcopolier

FB Ali

{{Sunni juggernaut}}. I forgot the brackets. pl

turcopolier

mbrenner

How do you explain the cognitive dissonance in US policy? pl

cynic

The rumour mill is spinning faster. Here's another article on Veterans Today containing spectacular allegations, such as that the Saudi's/Turks are about to steal the 84 American nuclear weapons at Incirlik air base.

Might that be with a nod and a wink from the White House? Obama could wring his hands before the tv cameras deploring this action and the subsequent obliteration of Syria whilst contriving to blame Assad and Putin for not surrendering to the liver-eaters when they had the chance.

There's also a claim that a disease based on swine-flu was stolen from the American bio-weapons laboratory in Georgia, by Turks and Ukrainians and is being spread in Donbass and Moscow and amongst Kurds.

This could explain how the Saudis and Turks could hope to achieve victory without an adequate army, and how the Americans could help them without admitting to doing so.

http://www.veteranstoday.com/2016/02/13/intel-drop-february-1314-2016/

turcopolier

cynic

Absolute rubbish, all of it. pl

VietnamVet

Colonel

You have clearly stated what we know. The question is the unknown.

We also know that what is the best for western citizens is not a consideration. We do know that Turkey, Israel and the Gulf Monarchies are opposed to reemergence of the Shiite Crescent. One brigade of the 101st is embarking to the Middle East; perhaps a second. A full blown war information operation is underway. Connected people are getting rich off of the war. Powerful Westerners hate Russia. A regional Christian, Sunni, Shiite holy war is ongoing. The real unknown is will there be a three prong attack to create a new “moderate” Sunni land. The President golfs. Without a peace agreement with Russia, a world war is inevitable.

Valissa

Turkey flexes muscle in Syria http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/2016/02/14/turkey-flexes-muscle-in-syria/
The Turkish objective will be to carve out a buffer zone inside Syria, which it has long advocated, ostensibly to provide for refugee camps for people fleeing the conflict zone, but in reality to gain control of the border territories and prevent the Syrian Kurds from gaining access to them.

The estimation in Ankara seems to be that while the Obama administration had so far refused to go along with the Turkish project, this may no longer be the case as a body of influential opinion in the US increasingly favors the idea. In an article in the pro-government daily Sabah on Saturday, Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin strongly hinted that the US will accept as fait accompli any ‘buffer zone’ that the Turkish military might carve out inside Syrian territory.

Of course, an outright Turkish intervention will be a risky enterprise. For sure, it will meet with resistance – not only from the Syrian government forces and the Kurdish militia but also from the Hezbollah fighters operating in the Aleppo area. The big question will be as regards the Russian reaction.

Quite possibly, this explains the urgent phone call on a Sunday by US president Barack Obama to Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin readout describes the conversation as “frank and constructive” and quotes Putin as forcefully stressing the importance of the US “renouncing double standards”. (Kremlin website)

It is entirely conceivable that Turkey is preparing for some sort of intervention in Syria. The emir of Qatar was in Istanbul to meet President Recep Erdogan on Friday; the Saudi fighter aircraft have arrived in the Incirlik air base.

Washington has expressed concern and has sought de-escalation but would know how headstrong is President Recep Erdogan who will not be easily deterred on his tracks if he sets his sights on something. The point is, Erdogan cannot watch helplessly as Turkey’s proxy groups in the Aleppo region are being systematically vanquished. The fall of Aleppo means defeat for Turkey and it will be a huge loss of prestige for Erdogan. This is the time to act since most of Aleppo’s eastern neighborhoods are now under the control of the government forces and the loss of the tenuous Azaz corridor will mean Turkey loses the means to supply the rebel groups trapped within Aleppo.

...The next few days are going to be most critical. Turkey is the place to watch, as Erdogan figures his way out of the swamp.
---------------------

This reminds me of teenagers in cars playing The Chicken Game in this classic James Dean movie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7hZ9jKrwvo

Ishmael Zechariah

SST;
A few observations:
1- TSK is not averse to neutralizing separatist kurds; they were prevented from acting for the past four years by tayyip&co. under the "opening" rubric and pkk used the hiatus to store arms and ammo in quite a few provinces and towns. When tayyip lost the first election, which was a referendum of sorts on the "opening", he let loose the dogs of war. pkk called for a general insurrection which fizzled out-and they lost a lot of men, quite a few of the much-vaunted women guerrillas, and materiel. Their only hope now is a super-power bail-out.

2-One gambit that the Borg has in mind is a kurdistan with Mediterranean access. This has been in the plan all along and will determine whether this construct will be viable or not. Right now they are not. While most here distinguish between pkk and pyg, to TSK they are the one and the same and they will gladly inconvenience them as needed. For whatever it is worth, at least one branch of the US government is supporting these groups. Patrick Bahzad's older posts on this topic are valuable reading.

3- This is really a fight between the Borg and Russia(+China+Iran). The kurds have to be careful to bet on the right horse-no other ethnic group in the region, and this includes the Alawites, cares for them.

4-The criminal enterprise of tayyip was and is well known. The fellow and his cronies must have salted away billions in off-shore accounts. The Russians stopped part of their racket. The CIA/NSA must have known about it and kept silent. I wonder why these dogs did not bark.

All nations get the governance they deserve and Turkey is no better than it should be. Perhaps a thorough debacle will convince folks that the "islamist" dream is of the "pipe" kind and leads not to salvation, but to perdition.

Ishmael Zechariah

Norbert M Salamon

Defence Ministry reported on exercises in the Southern Military District of Russia to Mr. Putin on February 11, 2016 is rather interesting at:
http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/51300
if the link does not work, go to President of Russia site, enter February 10 on the date site, and scroll

Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

It doesn't seem that Turkey is inclined to send its armed forces into the tangled thicket of Syria's civil war. Just from reading the various sources cited on this blog. It looks like they'll be content to vent whatever wrath they have through bouts of artillery fire like the recent episode. They also seem to have their hands full fighting against Kurds in their own southeast. I have a really hard time understanding what Erdogan's real agenda might be. He probably wants to keep it that way.

It seems to me that the real story in all this is how the US invasion of Iraq and subsequent neo-con destabilization and subversion throughout the region (as well as efforts aimed at creating unnecessary tensions with Russia and China) has pointed up the weaknesses of the United States' imperial management. The whole structure built by FDR, Kennan, Kissinger, Brzezinski, Schultz and the rest of them over time is creaking and leaking so visibly it's hard to understand how countries like France and Germany continue to march in lock step with neoliberal DeeCee diktat.

According to the PNAC doctrine (which Obama has followed), countries like Russia and China are not supposed to act independently. This is to say nothing of KSA or Turkey. But here they all are, pulling the Americans along behind them like an overweight dog being taken on a run. And the Deep State contrivances of the neocons are now so on the surface it's almost impossible to say to any rational observer that the elected executive makes foreign policy anymore. Instead it's an interlocking web of Israelophile think-tank crackpots. Can anyone be blamed for taking the most improbable theories about what might happen seriously?

robt willmann

The publicly stated U.S. policy to overthrow the Syrian government has not changed. The fact that the condition was dropped that Bashar al-Assad must step down before settlement talks could start does not mean that the policy has changed.

A horse race is going on in the western part of Syria where R+6 is trying to clear out the opposition fighters before the humanitarian aid convoys can be positioned by the U.S., Britain, and others to be in the area of the opposition forces to prevent Russia from bombing them and the Syrian army from firing artillery shells at them. The well-meaning aid workers will likely be used as pawns to try to stop Russia from using in Aleppo the lessons and tactics they learned in the battles in Grozny against the Chechens. This is one of the reasons for the recent propaganda in the mass media about Aleppo and refugees. The only card the U.S., et. al. have left to play in western Syria is the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) statement about stopping hostilities and providing for humanitarian aid to various places. Except for an outright military invasion of Syria, of course.

Once the western part is taken back by the pro-Syrian forces, all that is left is ISIS in the east, about which there will be no "cessation of hostilities" or "cease fire". There is the question of what, if any, territory of Syria would go to the Kurds, but that would not prevent R+6 from taking back Syria.

This raises the issue of Saudi troops and mercenaries and Turkish soldiers going into Syria under the false cover story of "fighting ISIS".

Looking at our friend, the map, it appears as if Saudi Arabia is going to have to go across the eastern leg of Jordan to get to Syria. In Iraq, the Muqtada al-Sadr consortium will stand in the way of Saudi troops going through Iraq to Syria.

A map of Jordan--

http://www.jordanjubilee.com/genjord/map.htm

Some good maps of the area from the University of Texas, but the image is large and it may take a little time to display on your computer. When the file displays, you can click the mouse on a spot and it will enlarge it, and then click again to make it smaller--

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/middle_east_and_asia/txu-pclmaps-oclc-746758449-syria_country_profile-2011.jpg

Alleged road maps of Jordan and Syria--

http://www.ezilon.com/maps/asia/jordan-road-maps.html

http://www.ezilon.com/maps/asia/syria-road-maps.html

It is quite a distance from the Jordanian border to Raqqa. And the roads are not exactly a straight line to there.

Any invading soldiers from Saudi Arabia and Turkey will not be able to do what their friends in ISIS/Daesh did, when they (ISIS) appeared out of nowhere in new-looking Toyota pickup trucks, driving in large convoys unmolested in broad open daylight, with their black flags flapping in the breeze and with the matching logo on their black caps.

Amir

It is Valentine, Also in Syria:
Looking for Burka-wearing brides? SAA presents you with...
http://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2016/02/newlyweds-in-the-ruins-a-syrian-wedding-photo-shoot/460440

Proof that life goes on in ‎Syria‬’s most devastated city Homs
http://youtu.be/LuWWZUSYlZg

Even if propaganda, at least they don't market themselves by eating human flesh.
Russia/Iran/HA/SAR/YPG/Iraq are fighting for the above. Hopefully the atrocities in Syria have had a positive effect by healing the Eastern- & Western Schism and maybe also bridging the gap between the Non-Wahabis.

robt willmann

CIA director John O. Brennan is on the CBS 60 Minutes television program right now (6 p.m. central time slot).

mbrenner

I recently did a longish paper on that theme. It is accessible at:

http://pitt.edu/~mbren/Papers.htm

Click on: AMERICA AT BAY - AVOIDING DESTINY

Warning: it's slow

ISL

Dear Colonel,

A couple of days ago I posed the question whether Obama would read Erdogan the riot act. Apparently not at all or not strong enough. This fits "We all look malleable to Erdogan," and makes it uncertain if anything DC can do at this point will reign in Turkey.

I do not see a way for Turkey to move with an expeditionary force, so either they are all in (or bluffing).

Question: would the air system Russia has deployed be overwhelmed by ~200 Turkish Jets absent strategic bombing of Incirlik (and the risk of NATO becoming involved)?

It seems unlikely that 18000 turkish troops (many for logistical support) can hold against the battle hardened R+6 on the ground if they stretch out between Turkey and Aleppo, absent control of the skies.

ex-PFC Chuck

Is there any information floating around about how united the Saudi royal family is about this deployment to Turkey? IIRC the young prince (whose name I don't recall at the moment) is quite controversial within the family.

AEL

To cut off ISIS, would it not be easier to block Highway 4, south of Lake Assad? West of Al Tabaqa. It looks to be excellent tank and airplane country.

ISIS would almost certainly have to attack across a very large kill zone.

cynic

Maybe all the attention being given to the Turkish border is a bit of a distraction from the Syrian advance on Raqqa, which would cut the terrorists supply route much further south and might recapture the oil fields before the Saudis and their stooges and sponsors can get there. Might it be worthwhile for the Syrians/Russians to postpone their battle for Idlib until they have gained a strong position in eastern Syria?
http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/isis-full-retreat-syrian-army-advances-towards-raqqa/ri12838

On a lighter note, here's a not unbiased report of the Koranic science we can expect to replace modernity if the Turkish Islamists are successful.
http://www.breitbart.com/jerusalem/2016/02/14/turkish-islamist-darwin-jew-targeted-muslims-gorillas-mutated-jews/
Monkeys evolved from Jews? Wow!

Fred

Robt,

"The well-meaning aid workers will likely be used as pawns to try to stop Russia"

How many well meaning aid workers are doing humanitarian work within the lines of the Syrian Arab Republic? That should tell you just how much pure humanitarianism is in play. Certainly the Davos humanitarians will wring their hands and bring forth the big guns of social conscience like Amal Clooney and her husband to tell the hoi polo we must send our sons and daughters to fight in yet another foreign land for more foreign freedom. All while avoiding mention of the able bodied Syrians (proud believers in freedom and democracy) now enjoying the winter of Cologne's discontent (at the German taxpayers expense). I'm sure some lawyer's husband will be glad to produce and star in a movie about the noble cause célèbre - while denying any involvement or belief in the ideology responsibe in creating it.

annamaria

Slightly off topic: here is a deputy head of the US Treasury, Mr. Szubin, accusing (almost hysterically) Mr. Putin of corruption. The accuser is the same Mr. Szubin that "served as the Director of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) from 2006-2015 and, earlier, as the Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence." And Mr. Szubin was not aware of ISIS trading oil with Turkey and Israel? Begs the question. ISIS, a terrorist entity, has been getting financial support, for years, from a NATO member. Should not there be a congressional investigation into the affair, involving the Office of Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence?

J

Colonel,
Saudi confirms sending jets to Turkey

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2016/02/14/Saudi-Arabia-confirms-sending-jets-to-Turkey-.html

alba etie

Degringolade
I would say that the Russians are just committed to defending Syria as they have been about any other part of their Near Abroad . An interesting sidebar is the historic meeting recently between Pope Francis & Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in Cuba . A joint statement from both Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill said that the Christian Communities in Syria & Iraq needed to be defending by all of us . It seems that Big Frank is giving his blessings to what President Putin is doing in Syria. So yeah I am thinking that Russia is fully committed to exterminating the Liver Eaters and will be fully engaged until that is done .Apparently Patriarch Kirill is President Putin's spiritual adviser. Let us all Pray Erdogan does not test Russian resolve in Syria militarily --

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