Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Russia and Turkey Plot The Endgame in Aleppo

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Asia Times-M.K. Bhadrakumar    By M.K. Bhadrakumar October 12, 2016 5:28 PM (UTC+8)
The visit by President Vladimir Putin to Istanbul on Monday marks the Russian-Turkish rapprochement taking a leap toward full normalization of relations. Energy cooperation provided the leitmotif.

The signing of the inter-governmental agreement on the proposed Turkish Stream gas pipeline and the consensus to expedite work on the US$20 billion Akkuyu nuclear power plant were important milestones.

Below the radar, Turkey is mooting collaboration in the military-technical field with Russia, NATO’s number one ‘geopolitical enemy’ at the moment. Turkish President Recep Erdogan conveyed to Putin an invitation for Russian companies to bid in a fresh tender on its first long-range air and anti-missile defense system.

It is a strategic call insofar as if Turkey selects a Russian air and anti-missile defense system, it will mean a stand-alone ABM architecture, since there is no ‘inter-operability’ possible between the Russian system and the US and NATO assets deployed in Turkey. Turkey is apparently leaning forward to build an indigenous system.

Subsuming these extraordinary developments, however, what transpired regarding Syria at the Istanbul summit would be what engages the international community.

The talks were held in highly restricted format. The sensitivity is only to be expected, given the surge in US-Russian tensions regarding Syria and Russia and Turkey’s high stakes in the outcome of the ‘Battle of Aleppo.’
*I understand that Erdogan and Putin conferred for 100 minutes behind closed doors
On Monday, while Putin was holding talks in Istanbul, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Paris will turn to the International Criminal Court for consultations over how an investigation into war crimes in Syria possibly can be launched.

Evidently, Paris is acting on US Secretary of State John Kerry’s allegation that Russia and Syria are committing war crimes.

Again, France snubbed Moscow by scrapping a planned meeting between President Francois Hollande and Putin in Paris on October 19. And all this unfolded amidst the Russian veto of the French resolution in UN Security Council calling for halt to Russian-Syrian campaign in Aleppo.

Nonetheless, there is compelling evidence that the big energy and trade deals and investment plans between Turkey and Russia created a favorable ambience of trust and mutual benefit for Russia and Turkey to work toward harmonizing their differences over Syria.

Four signposts must be noted.

One, Moscow announced its decision to create a permanent naval base in Syria on Monday even as Putin arrived in Istanbul. But Turkey calmly took the announcement, although Moscow’s move underscores that Russia would be expanding not only its military footprint but its military potential in the Middle East. (By the way, Izvestiya newspaper also reported on Monday that Moscow is in talks with Cairo to open an air base in Egypt.)

Two, Turkey is blasé about the Russian veto of the French (western) resolution on Aleppo in the UN Security Council. It has no interest to bandwagon with the US.

Three, Ankara continues to maintain deafening silence over the on-going Syrian-Russian military campaign to take control of Aleppo. Turkey has excellent intelligence presence in the region and estimates that the ‘fall’ of Aleppo is to be expected. It has no appetite to challenge the Russian-Syrian offensive and is already looking ahead.

Finally, Turkey kept mum on the latest Russian deployments of missile defense systems in Syria, which de facto means imposition of a ‘no-fly zone’ over entire Syrian air space and would have implications for the security of the ‘safe zone’ Ankara vows to create in northern Syria.
Related Post:  Is Russia Ready to Establish a No Fly Zone Over Syria ?
Safe passage
Interestingly, Putin and Erdogan reached a consensus to build on the proposal of UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura that the rebel fighters trapped in eastern Aleppo could be provided safe passage out of the city.

The Russian and Turkish militaries and intelligence agencies have been directed to step up contacts.

Putin and Erdogan also discussed the modalities of providing humanitarian aid to the civilians in Aleppo, an issue on which Russia faces a barrage of western criticism.

The two countries’ militaries, intelligence and diplomats have been tasked to flesh out details.

Erdogan said, “We thoroughly discussed the Syrian issue. We talked about the Euphrates Shield operation and evaluated ways we can cooperate in this direction. We specifically talked about what strategy we may choose in order to help, from a humanitarian point of view, the inhabitants who are in a dire situation, especially in Aleppo.”

Putin noted, “We have a common stance regarding what must be done to deliver humanitarian aid to Aleppo. The issue is ensuring security for the deliveries of this cargo.”

All in all, the signs are that Russia and Turkey are inclined to develop a blueprint on Aleppo, while leaving the US and its western allies in the cold as mere onlookers.

Quite obviously, all this is not possible without reaching a broad understanding to harmonize the two countries’ differences over the Syrian question. Such an understanding can only be at a nascent stage as of now, but the signal from the Istanbul talks is that there is political will to move forward.

The tenor of the joint press conference in Istanbul by Putin and Erdogan suggests that the Russian-Turkish narrative on Syria has phenomenally changed. There is strong impetus for both sides to work together.

Turkey would see that Moscow has virtually slammed the door shut on any prospect of a US military intervention in Syria. It also would be seeing that Russia is in Syria for the long haul.

Therefore, Russian acquiescence over Euphrates Shield becomes vital. Erdogan can draw satisfaction that Moscow is displaying great reticence as regards Euphrates Shield and Turkish military intervention in Syria. Most importance, it is an existential question for Turkey that Russia is supportive of its staunch opposition to a Kurdish political entity appearing in northern Syria.

Inflection points

Broadly, there are three inflection points today Aleppo, Raqqa and Mosul. Russia and Turkey are exploring common ground to end the fighting in Aleppo.
On Raqqa, Russia is concerned about any US-led operation to liberate the ‘capital’ of the Islamic State. So is Turkey, but from another angle, given Washington’s refusal to abandon its alliance with Syrian Kurdish militia in any such operation.

As for Mosul, given the defeat in Aleppo and the stalemate over Raqqa, the Obama administration is keen to showcase a ‘victory’ there before the US presidential election.

Not much resistance is expected from the Islamic State fighters numbering around 1000 in Mosul, but then, US and Turkey do not see eye to eye.

The US is not keen on Turkey’s participation in the assault on Mosul and in this, curiously, Baghdad – and, perhaps, Tehran too – happens to share the same view.
The US doesn't want Turkey to participate because Turkey will impede PKK advances, which should come as a surprise to no one

Meanwhile, all protagonists understand perfectly well that Mosul is as much a political question of far-reaching consequence as a fight against Islamic State. At stake is the future of Mosul and the wider Nineveh region.

Suffice it to say, for both Turkey and Russia, the fault line running from Aleppo to Mosul (via Raqqa) is important because it is along that fault line that the US strategies in both Iraq and Syria can be expected to develop in the coming period.
Paradoxically, this fault line, which runs parallel to Turkey’s borders with Syria and Iraq, conjoins Syrian and Iraqi conflicts at the hips, as it were.

Russia and Turkey would have a congruence of interests in curbing the US attempts to use Mosul’s future as a pressure point to create a certain balance of power in Iraq and Syria.

I'm going to repeat the last paragraph
"Russia and Turkey would have a congruence of interests in curbing the US attempts to use Mosul’s future as a pressure point to create a certain balance of power in Iraq and Syria"
A certain balance of power being, the remake of the middle east featuring a greater kurdistan aka Israel 2.0- Yup, the one that has been spoken of for years by myself - 
And,  Willyloman-American Everyman All other alternatives have been curiously quiet on the remake of the middle east that is ongoing from all I've seen and I do wonder why that is?

Update: Greencrow wrote what appears to be a very connected post to the one above and this previous post: Turkey Coup, Part Two? That's One October Surprise Option!

He cited a recent news published in several mainstream U.K. newspapers, including Daily Express and Daily Star, claiming that 10,000 British Naval infantry forces are on standby in Cyprus to enter Turkey in case of another military coup, under the pretext of evacuating British holidaymakers from Turkey. RT reported this same news: British special forces poised to rescue UK citizens if Turkey suffers 2nd coup attempt

The SAS, as well as the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG), are reportedly ready to deploy from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus should the need arise.
Greencrows must read post:

Putin's Istanbul Trip...fleeting answers to fleeting questions.

From earlier:

How the UN Can Ensure Aleppo Falls to Terrorists- Resolution 377A “Uniting for Peace”



    1. Wow, Ally you are busy- read the first one- for greater kurdistan to be created Iran has to be destabilized- it's been on since last year of more- you go!
      I'll get the second one tomorrow and btw
      what did you think of this post and the Turkey Russia meeting?

    2. Great post. What many are not mentioning is that the TurkStream will put an end to the Qatari gas pipeline that was supposed to go through Syria/Turkey. It could bring an end to the war on Syria as there is no point now in helping the rebels

  2. Putting this here for now

    ALEPPO, SYRIA (4:10 P.M.) - Negotiations to surrender the rebel-held east Aleppo pocket have begun between the Syrian Arab Army's High Command and Islamist groups, a local source told Al-Masdar News on Wednesday afternoon.

    The two parties are currently negotiating the possible exit of all Islamist groups from east Aleppo, via the contested Bustan Al-Qasir District.

    If the Islamist groups agree to the terms offered in today's negotiations, the Syrian Armed Forces will be in full-control of some east Aleppo neighborhoods.

    While the Syrian Armed Forces have found some rebel groups to negotiate with, large Islamist factions like Harakat Nouriddeen Al-Zinki and Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham (formerly Al-Nusra Front) refuse to speak to the government and their Russian allies.

  3. Putin: West Responsible for Middle East Instability and Terrorism in Europe

    interview w/ French media. He really lays it out well.
    Oh.. over at Turkey news.. the Lira sank to new low against the dollar

  4. Penny and anyone else
    Have you heard yet about the US painting their warplanes' underbelly to look like Russian planes ? Been out for a couple of days

    I've seen people I know [ twitter] who mostly support Russia, Syria efforts ask why they would do such a thing.
    Evidently they don't know history, or at least 'history' created by the winners of wars.
    OF COURSE they would do this !!
    cellphone pictures recorded of aircraft flying into Aleppo ( or anywhere else) against 'opposition' lies.
    a given

    1. hey karin:
      Yup I saw that reporting- and can't put anything past the US, though it seems unlikely, but....

    2. Proxy the Israeli f16 repainted Saudi colors or so alleged last year when onne went down over Yemen.

    3. See haaretz article days ago about Iran plotting to secure logistics route to the med with the aside that militias to be deployed west of mosul to block esccape.

      Sputnik running the alleged pla to smuggle 9000 into Syria to fight in raqqa ezzor and. Palmyra (which raises the question of the latest manpad "leak" onsidering the Russia troops in sinai for exercises - was nayef back channeling to putin). Deputy crown prince looks like he is in trouble with the Iranian commander hinting at a Qatar like succession in ksa only more violent. dcp was in DC a few times most recently selling the aramco privatization as Russia central bank talking about possible 24 oil amidst leaks the Chinese strategic stockpile much bigger than estimated. Aramco just said 2018 is best time to sell as th:e opec pump and shale hedging exhausts itself. How much war premium is in the price? Natas too.

      Where are those b52 as Obama plots a Syria strategy as the UK former mi6 says missed opportunity in 2013 (though not clear if he was talking about airstrikes aloe or a major UK troop deployment since rumors had those french special forces and coalition troops on the ground for years.) Russia just put pantsir Sams in Syria too.

      Also notable assad forces are eyeing raqqa and ezzor also which makes the us and ypg raqqa operation like mosul accelerated. Ergo the new airfield south of Kobami as alleged like the field south of airfield south of mosul.

      Erodgan tells abadi not on his level? Abadi is maliki replacement. And it was maliki, who like his counterpart in afghanistan who wouldn't sign the troop agreement into that dangling Chad election brokered by kerry, got waited out.did abadi get cold feet in spite of the lending deals? Or is the nato agreement and the dethroned of the defense minister a testament to erdogan comment?

      Another conspiracy theory article from the WAPO.

      Aside: the USN ship alleged to be fired on was in the straits between dijbouti and Yemen as reported. Whose radar sight was that? Houthi deny firing on USN amidst more was crimes allegations? Days ago us threatened to strike Russia at place of choosing for cyber. Last night a slbm and icbm were tested within weeks of other slbm and icbm tests and thos islander deployments. S300 delivered and complete in Iran. Iran also just deployed two naval ships to the Yemen waters to protect shipping. Inviting the accident the us admiral just wanted about Inn calling for new rules. Iran alleges to have intercepted another terror plot after the latest round of border incidents in kurd land. Consider the drone strike isil?? Onn Turkish troops days after the us told erdogan he was on his own. Us just deployed a drone surveillance net to counter the isil drones


    5. thanks anonymous:
      I did see the news of the drone strike after the US told Turkey they were on their own

      erdogan telling abadi he was not on his level?
      did read some of that and I took it that Erdogan was saying Abadi was heavily puppeted- notice Sadr was threatening with protests. again

      which defense minister was dethroned?
      this I missed?
      let me know, thanks :)

    6. Iraqi via corruption allegation post fallujah

  5. dammit.. typing too fast trying to keep up with my mind again. I struggled with typing in school 50+ years ago

    'history' Not <--created by the winners of wars.