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10 March 2018


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The simplest answer to me is that the SAA want any surrendered insurgents sent up to Idlib because 1) it's easier than executing prisoners and being blamed for that, 2) it's easier than trying to imprison them, and 3) if they're in Idlib, they're Turkey's problem - until it's time get rid of both Idlib and Turkey's forces inside Syria.

In other words, throw all the scum into Idlib and when the time comes to annihilate Idlib, they get everybody - jihadists and Turks.

The problem remains: what to do about Turkey?

I submit that the issue of Turkey inside Syria can only be resolved be diplomatic negotiations between Assad, Putin and Erdogan. Iran can be on Assad's side but they really don't have any say. The US doesn't really have a say either.

There is no military solution to forcing Turkey out of Syria. The SAA can't do it without inviting even more Turkish troops into Syria. Iran and Hizballah can't do it. Russia theoretically could do it, but it would destroy relations between Russia and Turkey and Putin won't do that without serious reasons. The US won't do it because it doesn't mind Syria being broken up into pieces, regardless of what happens to the Kurds - unless Turkey actually attacks US forces which is extremely unlikely.


Laguerre, Interesting you mentioned archaeology; I saw a spot on CNN
the other day showing only the "lion's feet remain" of a 5,000 year old
temple in Syria the Turks just blew to smithereens & I thought that looks
like something ISIS would do. Now I'm wondering if the Syrians will try
to destroy Gobekli Tepe in retaliation or if the Turks will destroy their
own 9,000 year old archaeological site because it's pre-Islamic.

When ISIS destroyed much of Palmyra it played on tv for weeks & now the
Turks destroying a 5,000 yr old temple in Syria barely gets any play. Any comment?

Jony Kanuck


Busing salafist jihadis to Idlib?
I think it's prosaic concerns: Reducing SAA casualties, not wrecking anymore of very wrecked Syria & shutting down the operation sooner.

On Afrin I take the Russian version that says Erdo was going after the Kurds one way or the other. They tried to tell the Kurds that the jig was up but the Kurds were & are in gwakalala land. The Turks have brought up their commandos & Gendarmeries for street fighting in Afrin City. Their pet jihadis have taken at least one Yazidi village & there are reports of Yazidis being dissapeared.


I assume the Russian and Turkish leadership came to agreement on the parameters of the Turkish operation in Afrin when the Russians greenlighted it. I still think the issue is more whether Turkey sticks to it than the nature of the agreement itself. I also reckon for the Syrian government time is on their side, they will reclaim terroritory that wishes to be reclaimed when they can.

Account Deleted


I have similarly not seen any public statement from Putin along these lines. But what is said publicly does not alter the fact that it is in Russia's interests to reassure its ally.

I am not really interested in what Putin says publicly or privately to Assad, as I would not in either case expect him to explicitly reveal Russia's exit strategy from the war - especially if that involves 'abandoning' parts of its ally's territory. Whether or not Putin has given Assad assurances re Idlib, the reality is that Damascus would be wise to treat any such assurances with caution, in my view.

Account Deleted

Afrin is all but gone, but I am not so sure the SAA won't be able to recover Idlib in due course. If the SAA resumes its offensive in Idlib Erdogan must decide how much he wants it & what risk he is prepared to take to take it. Fighting the now highly capable, albeit smaller, SAG forces will not be like the resistance encountered in Afrin. Even if Russia does not provide air support, it may choose to deny the airspace to TAF. Surely Turkey would need to commit very significant regular forces to such a venture - and it should expect high casualties.

Timing may be everything. A bloodbath in Idlib will not do Erdogan's election chances any good. Afterwards, who knows what he'll do.


Clue deary,

My orbit is confined to NOVA and parts of the EU where Erdostan is clearly persona non grata.

Peter AU

In most of the deals where jihadists have been bussed off to Idlib, the families of the fighters generally move as well. I would guess many of the wives are just as fanatical as the men, so they would raise the boys to be just like their fathers. Better that they are moved out, which helps prevent longer term low level insurgency.
As to Russia and possible partition of Syria, I see on the earlier Russian maps of the de-escalation zone that the occupied Golan is not separated from Syria by so much as a dotted line. Russia's primary concern appears to be the internationally recognized borders rather than who has temporary occupation of various sections of Syria at any given moment.
Putin's stated aim in Syria is to end the fighting and bring about conditions for negotiations to take place. On the demarcation line between Turk/jihadist occupied Jarabulus area and SAA there has been no fighting other than a couple of very minor incidents.
I would guess this is what Russia is aiming for with Idlib.


"The Ottoman empire was openly multi-cultural, modern Turkey is not". Yes but isn't a shift taking place away from Ataturk's secularism? Erdogan has given plenty of evidence of his support for a form of religious multiculturalism, both inside and outside of Turkey.

"A number of reforms and initiatives, undertaken by the Justice and Development Party (AKP or AK Party) governments in Turkey, widely known as Kurdish and Alevi ‘openings,’ and the less prominent non-Muslim (primarily Armenian and Jewish) openings, have puzzled scholars as to their causes, consequences, and limitations. In this article, I first briefly review four different kinds of analytical accounts that seek to explain the AK Party’s openings. Second, I introduce my argument that an Islamic conceptualization of a new religious-national identity is both the main motivation and the main limitation of these reformist initiatives. Third, I provide an analysis of critical speeches, official statements, and declarations by AK Party leaders, in particular by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on the Kurdish, Alevi, and non-Muslim openings, demonstrating that they invoke overwhelmingly religious justifications."


and -
"The AKP rose to power precisely because it was willing to challenge the traditional orthodoxy of what it meant to be a Turk. Over the past decade, the party has gained both praise and scorn for its efforts to reform the doctrinaire and heavy-handed versions of state secularism and Turkishness that long defined the Republic of Turkey. "

"Much has been made about how the AKP wants to replace an old-fashioned version of Turkish nationalism with that of a religious community built around the Muslim idea of the Ummah."



Correction: The Telegraph & National Geographic have briefly reported
on the Turk's recent destruction of the neo-Hittite temple of Ain Dara &
date that site @ 1,300 BCE. None the less UNESCO appears as a toothless
tiger once again.

Babak Makkinejad

I agree, vast number of relgious or semi-religious Sunni Turks have scant tlerance for their fellow Sunni Turks who are not religiously observant, let alone such heretics as the Alevi/Bektashi.


my take is that they simply prefer to kill them somewhere else where there is not that much infrastructure or civilians friendly to the Syrian state. If they fight each other there, that would be a bonus.

different clue

Bill Herschel,

( reply to comment 11),

Your theory of "how Trump does what Putin wants" seems too complex to me and also wrong about what Putin might want. Why would Putin want America to devolve into anarchy and decay? That would leave ten thousand big and little nukes loose and unwatched with various bad actors seeking to grab them and maybe use them for this or that reason.

Also, Trump supported the "moderate Republican" all throughout the Alabama primary. He only supported Moore when the Alabama primary voters ( or whoever made that decision) picked Moore. At that point, Trump had to support Moore against Jones if Trump was to retain respected title as Head of the Republican Party.

Saying that Russian destabilization is behind any of the turmoil here is just a cynical Democratic effort to re-brand McCarthyism and make it weaponisable and deployable in Democratic hands for Democratic benefit. The pro Globalist IC Borg also supports that effort to make McCarthyism a Democratic Party political weapons system.


You seem to stop following what has been happening in Turkey since 2010. From that day on, AKP started to show their real colors as they considered they have reconciled power in the country.

No, they are typical sunni extremists, some are more moderate in comparison to ISIS some are very similar to it. In general they are muslim brotherhood with some turkish colors.

They now don't allow any Alawi to hold any position of power in the country, they converted police force to its own military arm. And they are looking forward to the day to declare sheria law in the country. At least half of the population would resist. Very hard days ahead for Turkey, and possibly disintegration


I am not describing what I think, rather what others are reporting coming out of the AKP, Erdogan, and Turkey. Obviously you didn't read the links as your "question" makes no sense in the context of my post.

And you are assuming that I support what is happening in Turkey. I suggest you might also look into basic logic fallacies as your comment exhibits at least two.



According to Wikipedia Turkish poll results, Erdogan still has a comfortable lead in the polls. And there are rumors he may call for an early election which would work in his favor. Any campaign in Idlib might not occur until after the elections in that case and it may be months after before such a campaign went badly for Turkey. Also keep in mind that the SAA may be more formidable than before and Turkey may not have fought a real army in years, but Turkey is still much more powerful than the SAA (without direct Russian air support.)

So I suspect he's not too worried about the results of the Afrin expedition. As for Idlib, I suspect he won't try to engage SAA forces until they attack him - and Putin will try to prevent Assad from doing that before negotiations are tried.

Much depends on the upcoming summit between Russia, Iran and Turkey where a new deal might be struck that saves face on all sides.

The same situation exists for US forces in Syria. Despite being small in number - a couple thousand - they can call on the entire US/NATO assets in the region. And any attempt to remove them by force will result in exactly that war on Syria that the US has been trying to get started since it started. So there is no military solution to US forces in Syria, either. Unfortunately, diplomatic negotiations are unlikely to get anywhere either.


On Erdogan, AKP, and religious multiculturalism. The Ottoman Empire was a multicultural society. Ataturk imposed a strict secular and Turkish identity on all citizens to forge a new nation and national identity.

Religious minded Turks were suppressed. Kurds forbidden to use traditional names and language. Yet the multi ethnicities and religious beliefs still exist and it looks like Erdogan and the AKP are working to create a more unified society under the banner of sunni islam.

The Alevis are a significant portion of Turkey's population and suffer a lot of discrimination. If they get official recognition that is a big deal and fits into what I described above.

Erdogan is using the frustration of long suppressed religious elements to make changes in Turkey and some of them justified - women that wear headscarves should be able to attend university. That was a good change. Forcing everyone too would be of course a bad thing to do.

"The Alevi issue has been on the AK Party agenda for years and recently the government has taken a series of steps to understand and respond to Alevi identity-based concerns. Popularly known as the "Alevi opening" in 2010, the process is the first systematic effort to rectify the identity- based discontent of the Alevis. The government has been holding meetings with several Alevi associations to listen to their requests and note their proposals.

The key point in the reform package will be the status of cemevis. Currently, cemevis are not officially acknowledged as a place of worship despite persistent demands by the country's Alevi community to officially sanction them. However, the reform package will allow for cemevis to be recognized as places of worship. The reform package will likely also offer Alevi religious figures (dedes) a salary after they are officially certified as a "religious leader." Moreover, the plan aims to get all Alevi and Bektashi associations and foundations affiliated with the Foundation of Hacı "


People think too much in abstracts as if all kurds are the same and all want their own country, or Turkey is a monolith of all Turks, or too often look at issues from only one perspective with little information.



"The Ottoman empire was openly multi-cultural, ..."

How did they treat the Christians, the Jews, the athiests?


Yes, whenever fanatics rule, of whatever ideology, they will use that power to advance their cause and anyone outside the group is an enemy. Partisans always place group identity and loyalty over morality and truth. It never ends well. Unfortunately sociopaths and their sycophants are drawn to and corrupt all movements.

I know that these openings were earlier in Turkey,
I am skeptical that any ideology can hold off partisanship especially one based on religious grounds. Even science, the gold standard for objectivity, is riddled with science partisans fighting new ideas and clueless about basic principles.

Funny, somehow refuting Laguerre's comment that Turkey is firmly secular and pointing out that it is heading in a sunni religious direction has so many thinking that I'm all for it.

This article sums it up well, especially the final paragraph of why, even if revived once the external threats subside, that this unifying outreach under a sunni umbrella will fail -


Sid Finster

If Trump were really a "Siberian candidate" the last thing he would talk about on the campaign trail is better relations with Russia. Instead, he'd bloviate like McCain on steroids, then after he took office he and his minions would find or manufacture an excuse ("Russian aid in toppling international terrorist ring" or somesuch) to switch his position.

Moreover, if Putin is this alleged genius, able to manipulate election results with nothing but FB posts, able to hack any computer (other than HRC's homebrew server, of course) and responsible for everything bad that ever happens in America, why would he choose a puppet with so much publicly and obvious baggage as to be unblackmailable and uncontrollable, not to mention someone who is *almost* (but not quite) unelectable?

You'd think Putin would want a candidate that looks too good to be true on the outside, and with some very serious weaknesses that nobody knows about for leverage.

Sid Finster

Oh, and the "Trump owes Russian banks bigly" crap - even if that were true (and I have seen zero evidence of it) - what are they going to do? Sue him? Threaten his life? Then what's to prevent them from doing that right now?


Coalition brief to the Pentagon press corps tomorrow at eleven AM.


Here is an older resume of MG White. He is currently commander of coalition land forces in Syria and Iraq.


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