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09 October 2019

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Raven

"Trump betrays Kurds!" Ho Hum

Stephanie

This is all on one man.

The Twisted Genius

But Trump had good reason. The Kurds didn't help us with WWII or at Normandy. They didn't help us with Viet Nam, either. But neither did cadet bone spurs. ;)

Fred

TTG,

If only Obama had crossed that red line and overthrown Assad in favor of what's his name, the leader of Free Syria, none of this would be happening. The other Syrians, well I'm sure Free Syrian President what's his name would treat them all the way they deserve; especially the Christians and other non Muslim peoples.

The Twisted Genius

Fred, the Free Syria jihadis would have tried to kill off the Kurds on behalf of their Turkish benefactors long ago if Obama's arm/aid the rebels efforts didn't fail miserably.

plantman

You say "Turkey has coordinated its strikes with Russia."

I doubt that this is true, in fact, Putin and Lavrov have both expressed their reservations about the operation. I would guess that Putin has set definite parameters on how far Erdogan can go, certainly not ant any farther than the 25 mile limit.

The media would like us to believe that Erdogan has a bone to pick with the Kurds, but that's not true either. Turkey hosts more Kurds than any of the neighboring countries. But the SDF is linked to the PKK, a marxist leninist cadres that has waged war on Turkey for 30 years killing over 30,000 people.

. Erdogan might be a obnoxious autocrat, but he has legitimate security concerns regarding the YPG on his southern border. If he doesn't clean the mess up, then there's bound to be trouble in the future.

Jackrabbit

It all makes sense now.

Looks like Trump will HAVE TO accede to the Kurds request for a No-Fly Zone (NFZ) that extends across all of Northeastern Syria. The political pressure to not abandon the Kurds is just too great.

Then SAA will back down from any attempt to take back the oil fields because they'll have to face ISIS (supplemented by "escaped" prisoners, of course) without the benefit of Russian air support.

IMO such an outcome (if it does indeed come to pass) was all pre-arranged.

MG

Yes, it's all on Obama, who authorized the John Brennan CIA's Operation Timber Sycamore, which gave billions to terrorists aka "moderate rebels" in Syria. Part of the US dirty war on Syria.

The US has been trying to destablize Syria and topple its leader since 1950.

Syria's government offered the Kurds peace and protection. It's up to the Kurds.

Turkey is our "NATO ally" that has supported ISIS for years.

Stephanie

"Turkey has coordinated its strikes with Russia. We have no idea what was agreed to by these two."

Hard to believe. Russia is peeling off part of the sovereign territory of Syria to Erdogan for... for what?

Russia entered the Syrian conflict because it did not want another Chechnya. The Kurds have been guarding compounds filled with ISIS fighters. It is precisely those people that Russia is in Syria to defeat/exterminate.

I don't understand this.

The Twisted Genius

"I would guess that Putin has set definite parameters on how far Erdogan can go"

I'm sure that's true, but we have no idea what those parameters are. This may be all part of a plan to get the US out of Syria. I doubt the fact that Kurds will get killed in the process is of any concern to Moscow.

Leith

Actually Kurds helped the Soviet Army in WW2 against the Nazis.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samand_Siabandov

Designated a Hero of the Soviet Union. He was awarded the Orders of Lenin, Red Banner (twice), Red Star, Badge of Honour (twice), Order of the Patriotic War (three times), and the Medal for Courage. And he was not the only Kurd living in Soviet Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia who fought with the Red Army.

Normandy? A small number of Turkish Kurds immigrated to America during the Turkish War of Independence, 1919 to 1923. I like to think there was a Kurdish-American GI at Normandy. Probably a Nashville Tennessee Boy. And there sure as hell were more Kurdish-American boys fighting in Viet-Nam than there were Trumps.

The Twisted Genius

Stephanie, as I said we don't know the Russian plan. There is no guarantee Turkey will get any new Syrian territory out of this. I think this may be a plan to get the US out of Syria. It won't solve all the problems in the region, but it's one step in the process. You, I and everyone else will have to see how this all plays out before we understand it.

Leith

Turkey has had a Kurdish problem for 40 years and it will continue for another 100 years. Unless Erdogan reinstates the ceasefire that he broke in 2015. He broke that two years of peace by arming his ISIS proxies who were attacking the mostly Kurdish city of Kobani on Syria.

JP Billen

Hafez Assad, Bashar's father, offered the Kurds sanctuary, but it was conditional. He gave them arms and training. He encouraged their insurgency attacks in Turkey. And he sent them to Lebanon in 82 to fight with the Palestinians against the Israeli invasion.

Then he gave them up in 1998 after the Adana Agreement. Bashar has followed his father's line regarding the Kurds.

By the way, the Kurds have always been at peace with the Syria and the Syrian Army. They cooperated with the Syrian Army in Aleppo City and Manbij. They lived peacefully side-by-side with Syrian Army detachments in Hasakah and Qamishli cities in the NE.

Christopher Sims

What Free Syrian President?! He would have likely been a jihadist puppet. If Assad had been overthrown Syria would be a thousand times worse than now...think Libya but even more chaotic. Much of Syria would have become a Jihadi hellhole, possibly Lebanon as well. I also have no doubt that a Turkish incursion would have happened much sooner on a much bigger scale...

Lyttennburgh

Tell you what? Tell you what? I, actually, admire this clűsterfûck. I mean, just a few days ago there was this much waunted “bipartisan” report by the Syria Study Group (https://www.usip.org/syria-study-group-final-report) with its evaluations, concerns and recommendations on “how to further vital American national interests” and then – BLAM! The Donald wipes his ass (will WaPo and NYT call this act “presidential”?) with it and all megabytes worth in volume of all other ditherings and hitherings courtesy of sell-out egg-heads working not for the sake of the truth, but for a paycheck. This militant anti-intellectualism which shows that pathetic little think-tankers are powerless and useless – ain’t it a beautiful sight? ;-)

turcopolier

jackrabbit

And the motive was, what? the small Syrian oil fields?

rho

At that rate, the Kurds will seriously consider making a deal with Assad once they have lost all their remaining territory in Syria. You really have to admire the wisdom of their Marxist leadership.

turcopolier

TTG

People are over thinking this. IMO the Turkish (Erdo) motive is twofold 1- kill as many "enemy" Kurds as possible and 2-Gain control of as much Syrian territory as can be managed in a complex political situation. Someone said that Turkey "hosts" a lot of Kurds. Not so, the Kurdish population of SE Turkey is one of the major indigenous ethnic groups of the Turkish Republic. It used to be a sad joke that the Turkish government referred to them as "mountain Turks."

rho

Talks about a NFZ are wishful thinking from the SDF leadership at that point. SDF is begging for one right now "to stop the attacks on innocent people", but the US has nothing meaningful to gain from imposing one, while risking an open confrontation with Russia in doing so.

Gabriel

What would a Turkish offensive against the YPG/J look like? Last week an Interesting analysis of Turkish military performance during Operation Euphrates Shield (northern Aleppo) and Olive Branch (Afrin) came out (link at bottom). Adding to its finding what I've myself observed of the TSK since 2015, I attempt below a very quick sketch of the "model" or "style" the Turkish military has evolved.

* Carefully planned, firepower-intensive advances, with generally limited objectives [edit: this apparently has to be stressed: this will almost certainly not be a ground offensive along the entirety of Rojava bordering Turkey: it's not just a bad idea, but they don't have that kind of strength. They'll do artillery and air-strikes everywhere, but their ground operations will be much more focused] . US/UK audiences tend to underestimate power of modern artillery because air power has a higher profile in their interventions. During Euphrates Shield its effectiveness was limited because of poor planning, convoluted command lines, chaotic liaison with FSA, and a very "shock and awe" idea of winning the war with Special Forces and F-16s. This was corrected in Afrin. I may modestly add that I was warning in real-time that this was likely to negate a lot of the advantage some commentators posited the YPG would have from all that mountainous terrain plus tunnels, simply because I'd seen how, in late 2015, Russian artillery had shot some *extremely* mediocre SAA formations across northern Latakiah, which has even worse terrain than Afrin for an offensive.

* -Very- heavy use of drones, both for spotting and for direct action. Turkey's "drone-industrial sector" has to be admitted to be a clear success of a local industrial military policy: in this way it could be seen as similar to Iran, in that both countries have a very strong incentive to develop a capability that is not as expensive and fragile as manned aircraft. They have also used Unmanned Ground Vehicles with some effect, primarily a sort of armored bulldozer to clear obstacles.

* A core of Turkish ground forces built around their "commando" units --staffed with professionals, essentially light infantry specialized to fight against PKK guerrillas--, armor battalions used for direct infantry support, SF and MIT (Turkish CIA) liaison teams, and, again, masses of artillery and drone units. As with many armies, only a fraction even of "high-readiness" formations is actually ready to deploy at short notice, so, in practice, individual battalions are levied from different commands and combined ad hoc in the theater of operations, under direct command of an Army-level HQ.  As long as fancy maneuvers not required, this does not seem to cause problems. [EDIT: See my first comment above for why Turkish Army not as large as it can seem: overrunning entirety of Syrian Kurdistan simply not in the cards]

* Use of the jihadi bashi-bashouks of the "Free Syrian Army" to do the infantry dirty work. However, not much of this dirty-work required, so these units don't have to be of spectacular quality: the bulk of the killing (as ever) is done by artillery, drones, and manned airstrikes. FSA just soaks up the casualties involved in actually occupying enemy positions, detonating IEDs, etc.. Turkish casualties have run at a steady 10% of the overall number: only difference with Olive Branch is that total casualties considerably lower. As long as the tempo of ground operations is not too fast, and the Turkish elements have a streamlined and unified links between each other and their FSA auxilliaries, this appears to be a perfectly workable model.


(piece here, https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/uploads/Documents/pubs/PolicyNote59-Gurcan.pdf Author a former Turkish SF officer turned military analyst: has the bias you'd expect but, used with caution, I've found him generally reliable and have profited much from having followed his columns since 2015) '

2/2:
' Possible weaknesses?
* The command team that did an efficient managing of Olive Branch (in 2nd Army HQ, for fellow TSK obsessives) has been entirely removed. Both the titular head (Metin Temel--who might have been acquiring too public a profile), and an important chunk of the field grade staff (for reasons still very unclear). Thus, the people managing an operation now might show all the weaknesses on display after the coup purges: men new to their commands and to the people they have to work with.
* There are signs that Erdogan didn't quite expect the level of success he achieved with Trump over the weekend, so forces (both Turkish and FSA) are only now being moved into what one assumes are their jump-off positions at the border. Thus, the careful planning and deployment that characterized the Afrin operation can no longer be expected, and Turkish leaders and units might be required to show a flair for improvisation that they have so far lacked. There are doubtless rooms full of Turkish Army plans to occupy the East bank of the Euphrates, but there is only so much preparation that can be done beforehand without knowing the exact time frame and the units that will be taking part in the operation. That FSA units also being rushed to the area makes the problem even worse: at the best of times these are mess of different organizations and commanders, require the strictest and simplest top-down command: mixing-and-matching them on the spot could lead to 2016-like trouble. OTOH, Erdogan could conclude that higher casualties and some initial messiness better than letting this political "moment" slip by, and he probably wouldn't be wrong.

* The "deployable" element of the Turkish military is smaller than it seems. Even within the Turkish commando formations there have been reports of increasing problems with recruitment, which, as usual with these, compound themselves as shortages of numbers impact the length of active deployments and retention. Thus, there may be hard limits to the level of ground forces (and thus casualties) Turkey can use for this operation.

And that is about as much as I can think of at the moment and at short notice. My guess would still be that the TSK will take whatever it wants in northern Syria if it is only going against the YPG/J (especially if it keeps its actions limited and does not rush the tempo), but I have very little knowledge of what the Kurdish side of all this looks like. Hopefully other fans can help fill this in.

PS. One possibly significant difference between Olive Branch and now is that in Afrin YPG/J made a deliberate decision not to contest Afrin city, choosing instead to withdraw its fighters and some of the civilian population. They also did not commit as many of their ATGMs as they might have. However, it really depends on the Turkish command whether this makes a difference: if they try to rush this, try fancy armored maneuvers, try to seize towns by "coup de main", then they might just suffer enough casualties for there to be localized stalemates and political problems for Erdogan. Even this is a stretch: it would have to be Grozny 1995 bad, and I don't think the TSK is likely to make this kind of mistake, even if it turns out that, because rushed, this operation will go less smoothly than Olive Branch. Even within Turkey their strategy for enemy controlled cities is the brutal but effective one of encircling it and shoot the shit out of it with tank and artillery fire. No reason they wouldn't do this now.

Put another way, the only way I could see the YPG/J pulling a *military* victory out of this is if there's some time-limit for Erdogan's freedom to conduct this operation. If this has to be done within a week (or even a month), then ***maybe*** some miracle of Kurdish defense and TSK/FSA clumsiness could produce a stalemate that would make possible some sort of international-community ceasefire. I, to say the fucking least, don't see the least indication that this is possible at all, but it doesn't mean I wouldn't welcome and be willing to consider an argument that the TSK is actually on a timer here. '

Jackrabbit

Before the war caused a decrease in production, those "small Syrian oil fields" allowed Syria to be energy independent and export oil:

Syria produced about 400,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) of crude and other petroleum liquids in 2010.

Syria had 2.5 billion barrels of petroleum reserves as of January 1, 2011, according to The Oil and Gas Journal.

In 2009, Syria produced an estimated 219 billion cubic feet per year (Bcf/y) of dry natural gas.

<> <> <> <> <>

Would another Iranian tanker be allowed to deliver oil to Syria after Grace 1?

turcopolier

jackrabbit
I used to know some scurrilous Syrian exiles who lived in southern France and London in great luxury from the distribution rights from those oil fields. For them these were major oilfields but on the world scene they are not very important. Syria was oil independent? Good!

oldman22

My view:
Kurds must reconcile with Syria to gain Russian support to resist invasion by Turkey.
Russia's interest is security of its borders and profitable trade with its neighbors. That means peaceful relations with all these parties at war with each other, including Turkey, Syria, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Saudi and USA.
I am not aware of any debt which Russia owes to Kurds or to Rojava. The Kurds helped USA, they did NOT help Russia. It is USA which is betraying the Kurds, not Russia.
Russia has never guaranteed that Syria will recover all of its former territory. That is Assad's policy, not Russia's.
The fact that Turkey "coordinated" its actions with Russia does NOT mean that Russia supports those actions. Russia and USA coordinate their actions all the time.

confusedponderer

Ah, these bone spours. They're nasty I read. How good it is to know helpful doctors.

Anyway, I had my 4th or so ankle torn ligament when I did my military service, but then, I did communications and phone things there. Our regiment did the long range communication to troops deployed to Somalia then, with HF radio and some of the first (then rented) satellite communications in the Bundeswehr.

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