"Joe Biden had told Kurdish forces that they "must move back across the Euphrates River." He said "they cannot -- will not -- under any circumstance get American support if they do not keep that commitment," according to the AP news agency."Covered the Manbij promise here
So, there was the matter of a promise given by the US to Turkey- once ISIS was removed from Manbij, the Kurds were to vacate the area- They, of course, did not. And it looked as if the US had no intention of encouraging them to do so- Resulting in Turkey taking matters into their own hands. We know the Manbij Kurdish fighters let ISIS go free, displaced a whole bunch of residents and destroyed the registry records making it difficult for the displaced to return. Run of the mill stuff for the Kurdish militias and their US backers. This failure to keep a promise appears to be a factor in Turkey’s move into Jarablus, Syria- Turkey surely noticed the the US didn’t keep their word regarding Manbij- so it appears they moved on their own.
Fallout from the coup?
Turkey is not pleased at all with the handling of the Gulen extradition. Yildirim made that clear. This displeasure over the extradition of Gulen, along with the failure to uphold a promise made, have likely played into their decision to move on Jarablus. If you can’t trust your NATO allies, who can you trust?
“Jarablus is a key lynchpin in the Turkish-Kurdish rivalry. The town lies on the western bank of the Euphrates River at the Turkish border in a pocket controlled by the Islamic State group.
The YPG and other Syrian Kurds stand on the east bank of the river, and from there they hold the entire border with Turkey all the way to Iraq. They also hold parts of the border further west, so if they ever took control of Jarablus, they would control almost the entire stretch”
Turkey has long, long wanted a no go zone- The US never went along with it
I covered this topic more then a year ago: Here You can read that post now, if you didn't then.
Snipped from year ago plus post:
Turkey has long sought a "no-fly zone" or "safe zone" in northern Syria but met resistance from Washington, which says direct military pressure on Islamic State, not a "safe zone", is the best way to end the region's fighting and refugee crisis.Shortly after writing the above post another possibility was entertained, here at the blog, that the US might let Turkey have their zone as a way to grind them down: Here
Read now if you did not read then- Makes all this history more understandable!
Turkey’stance : ‘The safe zone , if successful, would enable Turkey to rid itself of it's huge refugee population, while preventing a hostile Kurdish terror state at it's southern border.”
The US stance at that time ”The United States will not allow Turkey to attack Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (PYD) forces in northern Syria, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner told Rudaw Tuesday”
My how this situation has changed!
Also interesting that the US is saying they’re fully behind this, allied with Turkey, but Turkey is presenting this as their own move. AsiaTimes
“A senior US official, apparently traveling with US Vice-President Joe Biden, said that the United States was giving air cover to the Turkish operations, telling the Syrian government to keep its planes away.Actually that's not what the US official said so it's interesting to notice the disinfo aspect, the obfuscation of what is really going on.
“We have full visibility on what they [the Turks] are doing,” the official told journalists.I’ve no doubt the US has full visibility, but, that does not tell us they are supportive. It tells us they are aware, watching, can see what’s happening. Having “full visibility” does not speak of participation- active participation. It’s interesting also that the US was supposed to contribute some artillery rockets for the operation, but, they hadn’t arrived yet. Will they arrive? Ever?
"References to this support have been relatively few so far in the Turkish media and politicians’ speeches and in Ankara the operation, known as ‘Euphrates Shield,’ is being portrayed simply as a Turkish military success”The support isn't being referenced because it doesn't exist. No one can say 'full visibility' = active participation. It doesn't!
"However, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, said “Turkey and the United States have planned this from the beginning. The US was to contribute M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) but unfortunately they have not arrived yet.”Another slight on the part of the US towards Turkey?
“Turkey appears to have secured the approval of several of its other neighbors before launching Wednesday’s intervention, including apparently Russia. Presidents Erdogan and Putin met in Moscow on 9 August”There seems to be consensus that Turkey made this move with some types of approval from Russia, Iran, Masoud Barzani and the US. Possibly from Bashar al Assad also.
“It also apparently secured the agreement of the Kurdistan Regional Administration in Erbil in Northern Iraq during a one-day visit to Ankara by President Masoud Barzani on Tuesday this week. The Erbil government enjoys good relations with Turkey and is on poor terms with the Kurdish militants of Turkey and Syria.”
YEREVAN. – At present, no country in the region—neither Turkey nor Iran nor Iraq nor Syria—is interested in the creation of a Kurdish state.
Analyst and former deputy foreign minister of Armenia, Ambassador Arman Navasardyan, noted the aforementioned at a press conference on Thursday.
In his words, if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had to make a choice between the Kurds and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, he would side with Assad.
“As long as no Kurdish union is created at the border, since this is a matter of life or death for Turks,” stressed Navasardyan. “Turkey may even conduct some negotiations with Assad, only to prevent the creation of a Kurdish state and take them out of the ‘game.’”
If the US was behind the coup, as most suspect, did it’s fail change the dynamics? Or is the US simply biding time until the election? I can hardly believe that the US/NATO/Israel/Kurds allies are going to let this pass..
Turkish incursion into Syria, backed by the US (??) and likely by Russia too, could be a game changer in civil war
Turkey’s incursion into Syria reflects a shift away from its insistence that President Bashar al-Assad be removed from power in any settlement there and may start to close the gap between the international coalitions that have helped keep the country’s civil war raging, analysts and diplomats say.
In recent months, Turkey has indicated a readiness to accept a transitional role for Assad in any political solution, something Unal Cevikoz, a retired senior Turkish diplomat, called a major change.
“Turkey has realised there are more important challenges than removing Assad,” said Cevikoz, and that in turn has opened the door to improvements in Ankara’s relationships with Russia and Iran, Assad’s main backers. Turkey would not have launched “Operation Euphrates Shield” on Wednesday without a green light from Russia, he said.
The challenges Ankara is now prioritising over Assad include fighting Islamic State, which has stepped up its terrorist campaign inside Turkey, and - even more importantly - stopping the advance of Kurdish forces along the Syrian-Turkish border. Turkey sees the Kurdish militia in Syria as a branch of the Kurdish Workers’ Party, or PKK, an insurgent force it is trying to crush inside its borders.I don't usually quote Landis- However his statement is accurate
The focus on Kurdish militias risked further tension with the US, at a low point in their relations, given that Syria’s Kurds are key US allies in the fight against Islamic State. Instead, the operation appears to have provided ground for cooperation there as well.
“The capture of Manbij has changed things dramatically,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, who has run an influential Syria commentary forum for much of the war. “American special forces helped the Kurds to capture a swathe of territory that put them in reach of building a Kurdish state. That clearly terrified the Turks.”
"Robert Ford, former US Ambassador to Syria, said in a phone interview that after creating tensions with Turkey by supporting the Kurdish YPG, or People’s Protection Units, “the Americans are choosing not to resist.”
"Turkey has been agitating for years to create a buffer zone (read the two posts from 2015) along its border with Syria to prevent Syria’s Kurds from connecting the two areas they hold and establishing their own state, which they have named Rojava. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey previously failed to convince the US to help with the buffer zone, however, and was unwilling to act alone. He would have faced opposition from the Assad regime as well as its Russian and Iranian backers. That calculation now appears to have changed"
“The interesting thing is that there has been basically no Russian reaction” to the Turkish incursion, said Dmitri Trenin, director of the Moscow bureau of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Russians understand Turkey’s legitimate interest on the Kurdish issue, and it looks like Russia may have agreed not to object to a limited operation, in exchange for Turkey being more cooperative on a political settlement with Assad.”WSJ- Today
A new wave of Turkish tanks rolled into northern Syria on Thursday as the military extended its fight to drive Islamic State away from the border and deter advances by American-backed Kurdish forces.
Fears of an immediate clash between Turkish-backed Syrian fighters and the Kurds appeared to subside as the Kurdish forces pulled out of Manbij, a strategic Syrian town on the western side of the Euphrates River, according to U.S. and Kurdish officials.
The withdrawal could help defuse regional tensions as Turkey moves into the second day of military operations inside Syria, an offensive complicated by competing interests among the allies and the rival groups of fighters they support.
The Kurdish forces, known as the YPG, are seen as America’s most effective force against Islamic State. But Turkish leaders see the group as an extension of an outlawed Kurdish militant group in Turkey and are pushing to limit its territorial gains in Syria.
The U.S. has been putting pressure on the Kurds to pull back from territory that they have taken from Islamic State, as they have previously promised to do. In a call on Thursday with his Turkish counterpart, Secretary of State John Kerry said the YPG was moving back to its strongholds on the eastern side of the Euphrates.
Turkish soldiers and U.S. warplanes (?- I need more verification of US warplanes being involved?) kicked off the new offensive on Wednesday, joining forces with the Syrian rebels to quickly push Islamic State out of Jarablus, the Syrian border town the extremist group long used as a vital supply route.
Fighting was continuing between the Turkish-backed forces and militants in villages around Jarablus on Thursday.
After the swift victory in Jarablus, Turkey said it would remain in Syria until the Kurdish forces in Manbij, 25 miles to the south, followed through on the pledge to pull back.
But it has also said it would stay until it is certain that Islamic State poses no imminent threat to Turkey, which gives the military open-ended support to remain in northern Syria.
The operation creates an opening for Turkey to fulfill a long-held desire to carve out a buffer zone in northwest Syria that could become a sanctuary for Syrians fleeing the fighting—and a staging ground for its rebel allies.Of course, it's the chemical weapons meme. Again
It would also allow Turkey to retain a geographic wedge between two Kurdish-controlled regions of northern Syria that the YPG would like to connect. That would create a unified Kurdish area on Turkey’s border that Ankara sees as an unacceptable security threat.
The US has urged "strong and swift action" after a UN investigation concluded that Syria used chemical weapons against its own people.
The report will be discussed by the security council next week.