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24 October 2019


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Barbara Ann

Hold the front page; Gordian knot cut by Trump!

Well he certainly wielded the sword, but I have yet to find anywhere a definitive answer to your first question. b thinks we will have to wait for the memoirs. My own feeling is that Trump must have at least read and agreed the script ahead of time. I first smelt a rat with the 'green light' announcement on 6th and Trump's withdrawal order the day after. His remarks subsequently have confirmed my suspicions, for example yesterday:

"Our troops are safe, and the pain and suffering of the three-day fight that occurred was directly responsible for our ability to make an agreement with Turkey and the Kurds that could never have been made without this short-term outburst"
Could Trump have believed Turkey would take over NE Syria instead of what happened? Maybe, but for my money he knew the plan was to get the Kurds to run into the arms of Assad. The screenplay was a masterpiece anyhow, I look forward to the next part of the trilogy.


Note: The RF MP that performed so well in Aleppo after the surrender of the jihadis were Chechens, selected because, as Sunni Muslims, they could reassure the population that they were there to keep order. The Russians had arranged in advance that neither Hezbollah nor the other militias would enter the fallen side of the city.

The Chechen MPs did run into trouble when they deployed for a similar mission in Idlib. When the Chechen jihadis found out who they were, they went crazy and the SAA had to rescue them. I wonder if this contingent is also from the Caucasus.


Putin's victory lap through the Gulf had many goals. I'm sure he was quite content that the UAE Crown Prince has come to its senses and is repairing relations with Iran. I'm sure he is advising MbS to do likewise.

However, in addition to other economic deals discussed, was Putin's attempt to further solidify UAE and possible SA investment in his plan for an artic port [thank you, global warming.] The UAE, of course, has its highly professional Dubai Ports that would be operating at least one of our ports had not anti-Arab sentiment squashed the negotiations. Putin had been counting on China, but its leadership is preoccupied with its belt and road, not an iceberg at this time.


I think Trump's move is directly addressed to the Europeans. They created the mess and they have to fix it themselves. The UK report on the rush to Libya war has put in evidence complete improvisation and the role of France in convincing its allies. So let's ask Sarkozy and BHL on that rather than Trump. The deal with Turkey was then made, as were the deals with the Gulf who wanted to get rid of the charismatic and young Asad.
The current situation was going to evolve into a status quo "Palestine type" which would still be impossible to fix in a 100 years. That's the only thing the French and the UK have been good at. Let your djihadists be cared of by others, let the refugees be taken care of by others, and empty the pockets of your people to pay for the inhumane refugee camps in Greece and Turkey, since it is far enough from our borders.

Peter AU 1

Doyou have any links to the incident of Chechen jihadis attacking the Russian military police. As far as I know, these only go into reconciliation areas.


Helmer analyzes Russian position in Syria, with some nuance lacking elsewhere.
"The big fact on the ground that’s being missed in North America is that Putin has agreed to another Turkish invasion of a neighbouring country."

Andrei Martyanov (aka SmoothieX12)

Note: The RF MP that performed so well in Aleppo after the surrender of the jihadis were Chechens,

Many, but not all--there are still quite a few Slavs and Tatars in MP in Syria.

Andrei Martyanov (aka SmoothieX12)

Here is (in Russian) report of Russian MP platoon fighting back against jihadists, 29 Russian MPs and 10 Syrian soldiers.


Actually, the platoon was mixed and commanded by Russian,all doesn't really matter--all Russians (Chechens and Dagi included, Russian soldiers). They fought like hell until SSO arrived, then pretty much the outcome was easily predictable.


From an eurpean:
Quite true. And fair. But,left to ourselves we would not have started in 2011/2012. It took the US impulse to which our deep states were quick to obey. (In Europe, deep state= pro-US, on their knees,hanging tongue out.)

Peter AU 1

I thought the military police wore the red berets.
There have been several incidents of Russian frontline forces having to fight it out with the Jihadis on their own.
One was when Syrian forces retreated and the small Russian force held a strategic position and were cut off for a time.
Another, I think a small unit, perhaps five Russian arrived at a front line and were immediately hit with a strong attack. I think four were quickly hit, the the last man holding the jihadis off for sometime until help arrived.

Barbara Ann

I honestly couldn't disagree with Helmer's piece more. His core point is that Putin disregarded the rest of Russia's leadership in allowing the Turkish invasion & occupation in the 'safe zone'. He seems to miss entirely the bigger picture; that this was essential in order to remove US forces from the border. The SAA & Russian MP's (the latter a tripwire too) are flooding in and will shortly have secured it all (including around the safe zone). This is an enormous coup for Putin and a major step towards ending the war.

He also says:

"To Trump’s supporters and the anti-war party, Putin and Erdogan have made a better agreement towards ending the war in Syria than the one Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed the week before"
This is laughable. Patrick Armstrong's description of Pence's mission as part of the wider overall plan is accurate. The ceasefire war part of the charade, allowing critical time for the US to get out and be replaced by SAA/Russian troops. I think Trump knew exactly what he was doing sending Pence on the fools mission and it was brilliant.

Helmer then goes on to moan about the fact that Idlib is not yet liberated in accordance with the 2018 DEZ agreement. Well Rome wasn’t built in a day. To most other observers Putin is doing a remarkable job of liberating what he can with limited Syrian ground forces, whilst at the same time juggling his relationship with Erdogan. In fact, I see Idlib as a liability for Turkey now. It is like a dangling testicle to be squeezed at will. The 'pain' is the threat of hundreds of thousands more refugees flooding into Turkey. Erdo has his Weapon of Mass Migration wrt the EU and Putin and Assad have their own wrt Turkey.

I'd encourage Helmer to publish his own plan showing how he would have achieved a rout of US forces from 300 miles of the Syrian border without a Turkish incursion.

Patrick Armstrong

Much as I generally respect Helmer's acuity I think he's got hold of the wrong end of the stick here. We in the West have grown accustomed to "diplomacy" as moralistic posturing and ultimatums and have forgotten what the real, slow, patient, step by step thing looks like. Moscow's aim from the start was 1) a peaceful stable Syria 2 and neighbours 3 with a lot of jihadist graves.


Peter Galbraith has been close to the Kurds for many years. He just published an article describing the current situation in Syria, containing many insights which are new to me. Too much to restate, read for yourself here:


I hold your experience in Russia in high regard, and certainly have no comparable experience, as I have never been to Russia or Syria, and do not speak their languages.
However, I would like to ask what you mean by "he's got hold of the wrong end of the stick here".
I think Helmer has many times written about Putin's patience and diplomacy. He has also written about differences of view between Putin and his top advisers, i.e., Lavrov and Shoigu.
Here is an example:
After one of the longest, bitterest negotiations ever held between President Vladimir Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov forced the Turks into an agreement for a Turkish military enclave inside Syrian territory between Tal Abiad and Ras Al-Ain (Sari Kani). That is less than one-quarter of the Syrian territory Erdogan was demanding at the start of the Sochi talks.

The western towns of Manbij and Kobani will remain Syrian, guaranteed by Russian arms and denied to Operation Peace Spring, as the Turks are calling their invasion since October 9.

The Turkish advance eastwards along the Syrian Highway M4 to the Iraqi border has been stopped. The Syrian Army will reoccupy the eastern zone to the Yarubiya crossing, with Russian military police on the ground; that also means the Russian Air Force in the air.

The practical result is that Russia accepts that the Turkish capture of Tal Abiad and Ras-Al-Ain since October 9 will not be reversed. This territory will thus be added to the Turkish hold on Afrin and Idlib in Syria’s northwest. Shoigu told [4] reporters there was no discussion of how long the Turkish forces will occupy these areas. This is a major Russian concession to the Turkish demand for permanent military occupation and partition of Syria.

The Russians believe this concession is worth making to the Turks so long as the Americans are forced out; this is the message Putin has relayed to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.


Patrick Armstrong

I was referring to Helmer's piece here http://johnhelmer.net/the-sultan-blinked-the-tsar-agreed-to-close-his-eyes-the-ottoman-empire-expands-by-118-kilometres-of-syria/#more-21528 in which he seems to be arguing that Erdogan somehow outwitted Putin. I don't believe that. But, if there are still Turkish troops in Syria in, say, six months then I will have to admit Helmer saw something I didn't.
I expect this part of Syria to under Damascus' control, perhaps with some Kurdish degree of autonomy and the border secured by Syrian forces.
But we'll see. it's not over yet especially with this apparent US occupation of the oil fields.


Thanks for your reply.
Yes, that is the same Helmer article I quoted.
You say "he seems to be arguing that Erdogan somehow outwitted Putin. I don't believe that."
I don't read it like that. Helmer writes:
"The Russians believe this concession is worth making to the Turks so long as the Americans are forced out; this is the message Putin has relayed to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad."
I read it as a concession knowingly made that was worthwhile, not that Putin was outwitted.
And yes, agree with you that the continued USA military presence in oilfields is the key to whether or not the concession was worthwhile. The fly in the ointment.
What I appreciate most about Helmer's piece is his knowledge of Russia government, the differences of view between Putin vs. Lavrov and Shoigu, who spoke when, and who chose to remain silent.

Andrei Martyanov (aka SmoothieX12)

What I appreciate most about Helmer's piece is his knowledge of Russia government, the differences of view between Putin vs. Lavrov and Shoigu, who spoke when, and who chose to remain silent.

In my humble opinion, you give too much credit to a "knowledge" mixing it with "repackaging" or rumors in Moscow's rumor mill. Some Helmer's statements (especially on military issues) are puzzling to put it mildly.


here is latest from PA, including link to NYT cartoon - must watch

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