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17 October 2019

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JP Billen

It's just a five day pause for the Turks to resupply and reinforce their effort. Pence was snookered.

Peter AU 1

Erdo has cards to play and aspirations that in some areas will fit with Trump's aspirations, so some genuine horse trading occuring.
The fat lady sings when pics come out of SAA at the oilfields.

different clue

Of course it is also a five day pause for the Syrian government army, their Russian supporters and assistants, perhaps Iranian personnel to resupply and reinforce THEIR effort . . . perhaps even co-ordinating with the Kurdish forces in the region on how to do that together.

JMH

Erdo is solving his own long term "Reaver" problem by sending them into a death mill from which they will never return.

LondonBob

I have seen the Israel First crowd increasingly fulminating about Erdogan and the Turks in recent years. Personally I wouldn't be looking to make an enemy there, Turkey is above Israel's weight division. I doubt the Turks are under any illusion as to who is pulling Menendez's and Graham's strings on the sanctions.

Barbara Ann

TTG

You are right about the intended audience for the ceasefire agreement. In fact I think it is increasingly looking like the whole affair is a show put on as cover for the plan to eject US forces from NE Syria. Did Erdogan ever intend a full scale invasion and massacre of the Kurds? I wouldn’t bet on it. But he will now be able to declare victory once Damascus & Moscow guarantee the YPG has pulled out of the 'safe zone'. With luck Turkey will soon agree to pull its proxies out and allow the SAA (having absorbed the "SDF") to deploy along the rest of the border. It should then be possible for Damascus/Ankara to revert to the 1998 Adana agreement, which if I recall correctly, allows 5km incursions by Turkish forces in case of PKK terrorist activity.

I believe what we have witnessed was mostly choreographed. Trump's recent comments have to a large extent given the game away, particularly his "tough love" tweet, the following one about the country following his "somewhat unconventional path" (in Syria) and his comments at the Dallas rally. Trump doubtless had a good deal of help, but fundamentally I have no problem with the fact that he could have been in on it from the start. He would have appreciated the fact that US forces could not leave unless the Kurds reconciled with Damascus and that this would happen only with a Turkish invasion and their simultaneous and unequivocal abandonment by himself. His role was simply to shout “you’re fired!” at a bunch of folk who did a deal with Obama – perfect.

People wondering what Erdogan gets out of this should appreciate his fear of the Borg's desire to create a state of Rojava and this potentially being used as a launch pad to regime change him in the future. With US forces gone and Assad's control being restored that is now a pipe dream. There is plenty more to work out, not least what now becomes of the “Syrian National Army”, but the plan seems to have been a huge success. It has been awe-inspiring to watch it play out.

Trump, Putin, Erdogan, Assad, Rouhani (not forgetting the US taxpayer) 1 : Borg 0.

The Beaver

5 day-pause brings us to October 22nd when the Sultan meets with Putin in Sochi. Will have to see who will make demands?
The sultan may cave to Putin's demands if he really wants those S-400.
In addition there is the Adana Agreement that both Turkey and Syria signed in 1982, unless the Sultan hopes to recreate his empire from Kirkuk to Bulgaria.

Lars

I have seen speculation that Erdogan gave Trump an ultimatum and he folded immediately. Maybe his bonespurs acted up again.

The Beaver

Not Syria BUT next door neighbour Lebanon

Does the "agent" David Ignatius know something that we will get to be informed later?
"What would a stronger Lebanese state look like? First, it would be better able to assert its sovereignty, starting with borders. To that end, the United States should push to resume back-channel negotiations to define a land and maritime border between Lebanon and Israel. The talks began this year, under a U.N. umbrella, but then foundered. And down the road, the United States should help Lebanon establish a real, smuggler-proof border with Syria.

In return for deepening its support, the United States should demand some urgent reforms. Lebanon needs a modern telecommunications regulatory authority, as a first step toward privatization of the largely state-owned telecommunications sector that could raise $6 billion. It needs to privatize its inept state-run electricity company, too, which could save up to $2 billion."

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/the-us-should-double-down-on-support-for-lebanon/2019/10/16/846f9a18-f028-11e9-89eb-ec56cd414732_story.html

Yeah every pro-israel hawk inside the beltway and NYC wants Lebanon to hand over Block 8 and 9 to Israel including Foggy Bottom political diplos.

Having said that, look at what is happening in Lebanon since Wednesday:
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/10/protests-erupt-lebanon-plans-impose-taxes-191017194856354.html

Ghost Ship

Right, but you're limiting your horizon. Since the ceasefire doesn't apply to the SAA and Russians, they have five days to move enough forces along the Turkish-Syrian border so that at the end of the ceasefire, Erdogan packs up and goes home, leaving the takfiris, who've almost certainly will have broken the ceasefire, to fertilize Syrian soil, the only thing they deserve.

How long does it take to move a SAA "convoy" 220 miles (der Ezzor to opposite Cizre) without any opposition? My guess is about five hours, say ten allowing for tea breaks, and a Toyota pickup could do it on a single tank of diesel with plenty (400 miles) to spare

This "operation" has been on the books for some time. The SAA stopping after capturing Khan Sheikhoun when they had considerable momentum. Russian SF throwing a new bridges across the Euphrates when the Russians tend not to do something for no reason.

As for Trump, he tried to get out of Syria once before and got nowhere, then he tried to unload American involvement in Syria onto other parties but neither the Europeans nor the Gulfies were prepared to do anything. That left the Turkish, Russians and Syrians but Putin had already made it clear that Syria would be left whole so that ruled out the Turkish except in a bit part, so Trump gave the job to the Russians and Syrians who also decided to help Erdogan with his three biggest problems, the takfiris, the PKK and a few million refugees. The takfiris will be fed to the SAA Meat Grinder, the PKK will be physically separated from the YPG and with the conflict over and the takfiris gone, they'll be no reason for the refugees to not return.

With the refugees in Turkey returning to Syria, the Europeans will be relieved that they're not coming to Europe and might even cough up some money for reconstruction.

Meanwhile, Trump, the master of disinformation and bullshit, is distracting the Republicans and corporate Democrats and succeeding. By the time that idiot Pelosi has worked out what's happening, it'll be too late.

For those worried about a resurgent ISIS, remember that Washington tolerated ISIS to displace the Syrian government and scare Baghdad and it's only when Russia arrived in Syria and started hunting ISIS that Obama felt any real need to take action against ISIS. Syria and Russia will liquidate any attempt at resurgence by ISIS.

MK

Lars:

For the other view, see MOA:
https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/10/media-and-pundits-misread-the-everyone-wins-plan-for-syria.html#more

prawnik

Hope you're recovering nicely, Colonel.

IMHO, the Trump Administration had to reach some kind of agreement with the Turks, just to try to take the heat off the Administration.

Seems that, in their rush to make some kind of a deal, any deal, the Administration gave the Turks everything they wanted, and the Turks haven't even kept their end of the bargain.

prawnik

Pence wasn't snookered. He was playing from a weak hand, with little leverage over Erdogan, and facing enormous domestic pressure to come back with some kind of a deal, anything that could be used to deflect criticism that the Trump Administration left the Kurds out to dry.

That's where Trump's hyperbole about a victory of humanity or whatever come from.

As it is, the Turks got almost everything they wanted, and didn't even bother to keep their end of the bargain.

Keith Harbaugh

Interesting comments from Stephen M. Walt about the Syria situation
at the Washington Times
(some comments from Ted Carpenter and Damon Linker are also included)

“The dirty secret is that
allowing Bashar Assad to regain all control over Syria
is going to solve a number of vexing problems,”
Mr. Walt said.
...
“We live in a world that is not perfect,” said Mr. Walt,
adding that Damascus — for better or worse —
is in the best position to tamp down, not exacerbate, tension with Syrian Kurds and Turkish forces who have invaded Kurdish-controlled areas in northeastern Syria.

“Once Damascus takes control over all of Syria,
Turkey’s fears about Kurdish autonomy will go down
[and] ISIS will become Assad’s problem,” [Walt] said.
“And [Assad] is going to be ruthless in dealing with ISIS.”

“The more secure Assad becomes,
the less he’s going to need Russian or Iranian support,” Mr. Walt said.
“I don’t think he wants a large Russian or Iranian presence in his country on a permanent basis, so eventually Russian and Iranian influence will go down.”


[Ted Galen Carpenter told The Washington Times]:
“Trump’s critics offer nothing more than a compendium of policy cliches that would keep America mired in a murky, multisided conflict for decades ...
We already have a forever war in Afghanistan.
The American people don’t need another one in Syria.”

[Damon Liner wrote]:
“The operation in Syria was a success, achieving its goal under President Trump.
Yet now we’re told that we need to maintain a military presence indefinitely
to keep the [Islamic State] caliphate from returning.
Or to protect the Kurds.
Or to guard imprisoned ISIS fighters.
Or to serve as a counterweight to Iran and Russia.
Or to try and undermine the government of Assad.
Or all of the above” .

Too bad Walt isn't Trump's NSA.
Even so, Trump looks like a geopolitical genius on this (Syria) one.
The comparison with Nixon seems ever more apt.

Walt also has some accurate thoughts about Afghanistan:
"We Lost the War in Afghanistan. Get Over It."
According to Walt,
"After 18 years of war, thousands of lives lost, and hundreds of billions of dollars squandered, the United States accomplished precisely nothing."
Walt is wrong on that.
What the U.S. did "accomplish" was delaying for those 18 years the establishment of a stable, if certainly not politically correct, regime in Afghanistan, namely, that of the Taliban.

JP Billen

The ethnic map of Erdogan's pretended 'Safe Zone' shows his intent of ethnic cleansing the Kurds with Trump's consent. Kurds in yellow, Arabs in green, Mixed in pink.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EG_nYEQXkAELDAG?format=jpg&name=large

The YPG agreed to evacuate from Ras al-Ayn and Tel Abyad, but they will never abandon the hundreds of Kurdish villages in Kobane to the west and Cizre to the east. Plus the SAA and Russian MPs are already in Kobane and Cizre and will keep the TKK out of those areas. And SAA artillery is already beyond Tel Tamr within range of Ras al-Ayn.

The question is when will Putin allow the SAA to intervene against the Turkish invasion?


Leith

Beaver -

Regarding the protests in Lebanon. Check out this lady-kick on one of the thugs:

https://twitter.com/KarlreMarks/status/1184968531286343680

Good aim!

Christian J Chuba

We're keeping the oil

https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/us-military-unlikely-withdraw-syrias-key-oil-fields-report ... A military source in Damascus told Al-Masdar News

Yeah, I believe it, that's how we roll today.
1. Trump is obsessed w/oil fields, it's an angle the Neocons can play.
2. It's a way to keep the Kurds bridled to keep them a thorn in Syria's side.
3. As long as the SAA is stuck doing guard duty on the border and not able to actually able to occupy the oil fields in the east I wouldn't count on it.

We are so small minded and petty, we would take the last piece of bread from a starving child, oh wait, Pompeo is already doing that in Yemen.

Vegetius

Last night Trump got a huge ovation for saying "Bring Our Troops Home."

This was in Dallas. Dallas, Texas.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkYS9SCn5Co

Ghost Ship
First, it would be better able to assert its sovereignty, starting with borders.
Nah, starting with being able to shoot down any foreign military aircraft that enter Lebanese airspace without permission including every one from that shitty little country just to the south.

The last thing Lebanon needs is US support because the nature of it will be what best suits Israel rather than Lebanon. If the United States really wanted to help Lebanon, it'd give it several squadrons of F-16s and the contract pilots to fly them. Failing that, the next best thing would be buying the Lebanese multiple batteries of S-400 and Pantsirs from the Russians. As for the Telco being sold off, I doubt Hezbollah would allow that and it's probably the same with the electricity company.

plantman

There are too many balls in the air to figure out what's going on behind the scenes. ...But Idlib may indicate what a final settlement might look like.


In Idlid, Russia wants to remove the jihadists from the DMZ. BUT Turkey STILL occupies Syrian territory north of that zone. Is Putin going to demand that Turkey leave that area??

I doubt it, nor will he demand that Turkey leave the nascent "safe zone."

Why? Because Russia needs Turkey as a crucial gas-transit country. That means, Turkey will have to be given something in exchange for its 8 years of fighting.

Putin has been a loyal ally to Assad, but eventually he will bow to geopolitical necessities. He'll have to throw Turkey a bone to end the war and strengthen his position in Europe. But that's just my opinion.

mpn

Very good summary. That is how I see it.

cirsium

What the U.S. also accomplished in those 18 years was the establishment of a extremely profitable opium smuggling operation.

elaine

If I'm getting this correctly you & Christian J Chuba see this conflict
primarily as a blood for oil conflict. Is that really the prime mover?
Excuse my flippancy but what about the Green New Deal? Lots of sunshine in the M.E. & there are ppl on this committee who seem to gravitate to progressive values. What's next? More armed conflict for sunshine & wind?

I concur there's a fossil fuel component @ play but if that's all that's
driving this madness it could be worked out. It's much deeper, it's tribal,religious, autocratic & vengeful IMHO. Americans have a unique
ability to forgive & forget, not so with many in the M.E.

As for Vegetius' post of Trump getting a big ovation for yelling, "Bring
the Troops Home"; I wonder how that'll work out. My guess is lots of mostly soldiers & Marines who've put their lives on the line for 8 to 16
long years thinking they were actually on a career path in the military
will be informed they can't re-up. & plentry of the brass will likely
also get the heave-ho a hair's breath away from making more rank. And the
average civilian won't pay an iota of attention. Honor? What's that? That's not a business concept. The closest we've come to winning any armed conflict since WWII is cut n run. Perhaps it's best that way, it
saves lives but not without a certain amount of humiliation. The west is
in decline & debt. The 3rd world is on the march. What could possibly go wrong?

plantman

Elaine,

I would respectfully disagree with you that the conflict is " much deeper, it's tribal,religious, autocratic & vengeful"

Turkey's territorial ambitions are primarily imperial originating from the breakup of the Ottoman empire following WW1.

As far as Putin is concerned: He sees the nation state as the foundation block upon which the international system rests. Russia joined the fight not simply to save Assad to to prevent another Iraq or Libya. As Putin said in his 2007 speech at Munich, the way the US is thrashing around toppling sovereign regimes carelessly, "No one feels safe." His defense of the nation state is actually a defense of Russia itself.

As for the US: Washington wants to checkmate Putin in Syria to control pipeline corridors from N Iraq thru syria to Turkey and onto the EU. The US also wants a greatly-weakened balkenized syria that cannot resist US-Israeli machinations.

In short, I don't think the main drivers of the conflict are "religious or tribal" at all, but geopolitical, and on that count, the US is losing quite spectacularly.

Fred

Lars,

Turkey, world power. Or, the bonespurs that kept Americans from being killed in a foreign land for foreign freedom. Either one works for me.

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