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06 March 2018


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Erdogan will surely make the attempt to "regain"(?) north Syria but why would Russia or Iran allow that? Greece could do little against the north-Cyprus heist as NATO was unwilling to give it support. But I do not see Iran or Russia agreeing with the wannabe-sultan on this. They would Syria in a fight. NATO would not come into action as Turkey is clearly not acting on its own soil.
The "operational pause" in east Syria has been in place since January. The maps have not changed one bit since. The U.S. is coddling the rest of ISIS (some 3,000 allegedly) to later reuse them against Syria and Iraq. The same happens in Tanf.



It doesn't square with US policy in Syria. Remove him? you have seen too many movies. Only the Turkish Army could have done that and they did not. pl



He is quite serious about the ottoman thing and believes that the lands of the Empire should be regained as much as they can be. The main question is whether or not the Russian and Iranian governments will prevent him from doing this in Syria. As for the US, you saw my response to Crooke. The quartet of generals are trapped in a largely self-fulfilling world view and they are running the show. Mattis seems the sanest of the lot but that is not saying much. Harper is doing a piece on efforts in the Congress to impose a new AUMF that will restrict the generals freedom of action. pl


so are we actually going to have what everyone was afraid of at the start of this?

that the next war would start before ISIS was totally routed and they will hang on as the various players fall on each other.


It seems that YPG is not going to subordinate itself to Syria,
and that Syria, Iran and Russia are not going to defend Afrin from Turkey unless YPG changes this "submits". And no one expects USA to protect them.
Maybe YPG is strong enough to defend Afrin without help, but that seems doubtful to me.
We saw in Iraq how Kurds blew what they had gained by being overconfident.


It seems hard to believe that there isn't some tacit agreement between the Russians and and Turks, perhaps its better to have the Turks there than the Kurds which basically equal the US at this point. There are reports that Kurdish forces are now leaving Raqqua for Afrin to fight the Turks. I am sure the Syrians/Russians will allow them through to be killed by the Turkish military. Weakens the Kurds in Eastern Syria which eventually the Syrians and Russians will have to deal with once all the pockets such as Ghouta are cleared out. perhaps this is why all the western whining about Ghouta? Its a chess match.




"There are reports that Kurdish forces are now leaving Raqqua for Afrin to fight the Turks." Do you actually read the material here or just the headlines? My post indicated that the YPG are departing the east for Afrin. pl

Jony Kanuck

Never mind Afrin, I'm sure the wanna-be sultan has designs on Allepo & Mosul. It's my opinion that the Kurd's are running a personality cult on Abdulah Ocalan: Radical politics often becomes a new, bad, religion. That blinds them to what is obviously going to happen in Afrin. I don't believe Russia or Syria will save them, if they can't make a deal.


Any possibility of the Kurds stirring up trouble for the New Porte in Hattay province?


The Russian's and Iran's lose nothing by letting the Kurd's fall in Afrin and gain everything. Currently the independent minded Kurd's have sneered at the SAG and their supporters with American backing. Now the SAG has leverage once the Afrin pocket is eliminated. It can recoup the Northeast ( especially the southeast ) once Turkey begins threatening it as it surely will. It also provides the SAG with a new supply of combat/cannon fodder eager to regain their homes. The goal is to bring the Kurds to heel.

The Turks face a guerrilla warfare far more expensive and extensive then anything they've had in Turkey. Once Afrin is captured the Turk's will need to decide where next. Manjib ? Probably. The Kurd's have very little true support in the area. Are the Kurd's willing to turn it over to the SAG or let it go to the Turks ? It may end up a race by the FSA and SAG to see who can gain the most territory. Perhaps why the SAG is cleaning up it's own backyard first and not pursuing Idlib. It all in the end comes down to the US actions. The Russians and Iranians can sit back and watch things develop and maneuver as they like. The important things will fall their way if they are patient. They are playing longball.



Erdogan seems to be overplaying his hand. If he

* Cedes Idlib to R+6 and re-populates the dominantly Kurdish border areas with his favorite Jihadis, he runs the risk of a rapprochement between the YPG and R+6. His best move then is to mend fences with the U.S., which also opposes this prospect. This will accelerate schisms among the Kurds, some staying with the U.S., others heading back to Assad. Can the U.S. broker a deal between its Kurds and Erdogan?

* Blocks the R+6 advance to Idlib, he'll have to count on Israel to open a new front in the South and on the U.S. to re-ignite the fight in the East with rehabilitated ISIS to blunt the R+6 advance. Can Erdogan meet the U.S. and Israel demands in return for their "help"?

Babak Makkinejad

Neither Russia nor Iran will do anything against Erdogan - overt or covert. They have nothing to gain. At any rate, politically, Arab states will oppose any land grab by Turkey. That would be sufficient for Russia and Iran to join that protestation.


Patrick Cockburn on events in Afrin and Eastern Ghouta.

Syria Afrin Attack 'Will Bring Devastation Akin to Eastern Ghouta'

Of interest is the claim by a Kurdish officer of the Movement for a Democratic Society (a Kurdish group) that Putin won't defend the Kurds because "the reason that the Russians gave a green light to a Turkish invasion was in retaliation for the drive of the Kurdish Arab forces into Deir Ezzor, depriving Mr Assad of Syria’s biggest oilfields."

He also claims that Putin won't act against Turkey because relations between Russia and Turkey are more important than between Russia and Syria. " “Even if all of Assad’s army goes to Afrin, Putin will not defend it,” says Mr Khalil."

I have my doubts on those claims but I believe it is true that neither Turkey nor Russia want a conflict between them.

Neither Iran nor Russia have sufficient forces in Syria to force Turkey to back down although Russia could certainly give Turkey a "bloody nose" if forced to.

Cockburn notes "He describes a Syrian political landscape in which all the players still believe they can be successful, making his belief that the Syrian war still has at least four more years to run sound horribly convincing."

Babak Makkinejad

The Mokhtar of Gulfies instructed those generals to discomfit Iran in Syria and they are doing their best. It ruffled Turkish feathers, it is not like Turkey is going to leave NATO. And I do not think this "best effort" discomfits Russia or Iran. This is like Qatar and GGC; like Qatar is going to join the Resitance Axis.



I always transliterated your name as 'Imad. Any reason you spell it this way? "Can the U.S. broker a deal between its Kurds and Erdogan?" I do not think so. pl



"It all in the end comes down to the US actions." Why? It seems to me that the US has very limited options in the area having made enemies of the SAG, Russia and Iran. The comment by Babak that Trump the Saudi Mukhtar may have waved his hand and told the quartet to make life hard for Iran and that plus their hard-headed Russophobia has produced the present situation. A race between FSA and R+6 for territory? I hope so. Unless they take massive losses in East Gouta the SAA would crush FSA like beatles. pl


jony canuck

Aleppo and Mosul? I am sure that is the next phase goal. pl


Something is not right with these discussions. By and large my (not very informed) estimate of the forces is similar to that of other posters. But the Rojava Kurds don't seem to believe it. And they have a pretty fair track record for realism and effectiveness. They have been careful to not commit beyond their means. Do they actually think they can defeat the Turks? That seems doubtful, but they are hanging pretty tough on conditions demanded by other players to back them up. They must think they can accomplish something by fighting.

I don't have any answers for these points, just questions. But the logic of the situation doesn't feel right without an explanation for their willingness to commit their forces to a fight that looks pretty hopeless to everyone else.



"Do they actually think they can defeat the Turks? That seems doubtful," Is there nothing you would fight for in a hopeless cause? pl


Why aren't the Kurds not opening up guerrilla action all over Turkish-Syrian-Iraqi land where there are Turkish forces? Why concentrate on Afrin, where the TAF+pet jihadists are deployed at force... why not dispersed harassment?

Account Deleted

I agree Colonel, it's all about the ancestors with Erdogan.

Rather than Sultan though, I think Erdogan sees himself as the new pan-Islamic Caliph. He is not yet ready to formally declare himself thus & reinstate the Caliphate after its 94 year hiatus, but it would not surprise me if this was his ultimate aim. His mentor/adviser, a fez-wearing arch revisionist called Kadir Mısıroğlu makes no bones about the territorial goals: https://twitter.com/KadirMisiroglu/status/921087737125638144. The translation is something like "This is our minimum limit. We will magnify our case step by step. We will claim everywhere the blood of our ancestors [that word again] is laid". Note Aleppo & Mosul on this map.

My guess is the aim is conquest, resettlement (with appropriate ethnicity), Hatay-style referendum & welcome the 82nd province. US are probably just delighted someone is conquering part of Syria. Will Russia of Iran stop him? I agree with Babak & don't think so.


Apologies if someone else has already shared this ...



Indeed there are things that I would fight for in a hopeless cause. And that may be what is happening - sheer desperation with no good options. That seems be a common assumption. But their actions in the war so far lead me to suspect a more purposeful and calculating attitude. They have not rushed in battles that did not further their goals. They held off from camapigns against Raqqa and Manbij until they saw clear opportunity and benefit. Even in the fight for Kobane, which looked to me like a hopeless cause, it turned out that they did have the strength (and help) to hold the town.

But I don't know these people, and I can't make out that anyone else I read does either. And without any understanding of their thought process, I can't feel very confident about theories based on abstract balances of forces, however compelling.

Jony Kanuck

Re: Afrin. Everything that Erdo has said & done inclines me to believe that he intends to ethnically cleanse Afrin & populate it with some combination of FSA & Syrian refugees. This would give him a 'jihadi army' to use to go after Allepo once the SAA is embroiled with the Izzies. I'm not sure what pretext he has in mind for Mosul but he can be inventive...

I'd also note that Russia can stop Erdo anytime but they won't, as long as they think he could be pulled out of NATO.


Erdoğan is picking fights with everyone it seems. I’m sure you’ve all read about the Italian chartered oil exploration vessel that was threatened and stopped by the Turkish Navy off the coast of Cyprus.
The US Navy is now accompanying Exxon chartered vessels that are engaged in the exploration the same area. Erdoğan and the Turkish leadership in general seem to try what they can get away with but I just can’t imagine Russia and Iran will let him get away with stealing parts of northern Syria and Erdoğan needs them.

It’s pretty clear “the west” is dedicated to neocon plan of balkanizing Syria and creating a Kurd state. All of the think tank plans I’ve seen envision part of turkey as part of that Kurd state. Erdoğan really can’t turn on Russia and Iran anymore because NATO leaders, israel, and pretty much all of the gulf monarchs who oppose Iran pose an existential threat to turkey. So no I don’t believe Erdogan intends to steal northern Syria but he does need to put on a good show to get the Kurds to accept rule from Damascus and he is ultimately killing off both YPG and his Islamic nut jobs at the same time. He needs to do both and he is helping the SAG, Russia and Iran by doing so. Kurds are leaving eastern Syria already.

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