Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Trumps Syrian Safe Zones: Trouble for Turkey & Syria / Undermining Astana Agreement

Just to be clear- Any safe zone idea that has previously emanated from the US has always been a negative for both Turkey and Syria- I’ve discussed this previously here at the blog on more then one occasion.  Therefore I've little reason to think a so called safe zone under the Trump administration would be any different..

Troubles With Safe Zones- Sputnik
"Turkey has long advocated creating a safe zone in the border region," said Faruk Logoglu, Turkey's former ambassador to the United States referring to the area where Ankara has conducted its Operation Euphrates Shield. "However, if Trump announces that he wants to create a safe zone in the entire northern Syria, Turkey will face major problems."
"The majority of Syrian refugees are in Turkey. They have also settled in Jordan and Iraq. Clearly the stance of these countries on safe zones in Syria matters, but Turkey's take on the issue is of key importance. However, we have not seen Turkey and the [Trump administration] discuss this issue. Turkey's Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling for a thorough and comprehensive review of this issue and its potential implications. This was a right step, but it has shown that Ankara and Washington have not conducted official direct talks on Trump's initiative," the diplomat observed.
Why hasn’t Washington, under Trump, spoken to Turkey’s leadership yet?

The diplomat also warned that Trump's plan could affect the Geneva peace process. This initiative could to a certain extent "embolden" the opposition, offering an opportunity to delay the talks. Should this happen, "all achievement reached at the Astana talks could be brought to nothing," he said.
Coincidentally, or not, the Geneva Talks have been postponed until February 20/2017
Syria: UN-supported talks delayed until 20 February to give opposition time to unite
de Mistura: He explained that the delay of UN-supported intra-Syrian talks would give time for the ceasefire to solidify, give the Government a chance to consider concessions, and give a chance for the armed groups to come as “one unified opposition.”

Wondering aloud if the UN is waiting/hoping for Astana to fail?

An interesting read from Lawfare
The U.N. Charter and Safe Zones in Syria

Yesterday President Trump spoke to leaders in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates about the creation of “safe zones”—areas of protection for individuals displaced by the conflicts in Syria and perhaps also in Yemen.  According to Politico, President Trump “requested, and the [Saudi] king agreed to support, safe zones in Syria and Yemen.” 
Nevertheless, the hurdles to creating “safe zones” are significant.  Some already have identified policy resistance within the Defense Department, which the White House has ordered (along with the State Department) to produce a plan for safe zones by the end of April. Lawmakers also likely are not enthused about deploying more U.S. troops on the ground in the Middle East, something a safe zone likely would entail.  Yet others have worked through how international humanitarian law treats safe zones and raised a variety of practical questions to ask and resolve before deciding whether and how to proceed.

But none of these actors have noted the serious problem that could arise under the U.N. Charter if the United States or other states tried to establish these safe zones inside Syria without Assad’s consent. I wrote about this previously when the idea of creating a “buffer zone” over a part of northern Syria was on the table in 2014.  If the basic idea this time around is to take over a small part of Syria’s territory to create a protected zone into which refugees could come and be safe from the violence, the states creating the safe zone will almost surely run afoul of the prohibition on the use of force under Charter article 2(4) unless they have Assad’s consent.  Taking control of part of another state’s territory in this context—even for purely humanitarian purposes—is very difficult to justify under a self-defense theory, particularly where the safe zone is not immediately adjacent to the fighting with ISIS. And although the U.N. Security Council conceivably could decide to establish such a zone under Chapter VII over Assad’s objection, Russia surely would veto such a resolution.

Thus, those crafting options for the President should push hard for plans that either create safe zones consensually on the territory of Syria’s neighbors (e.g., Turkey) or that extract consent for the zones from Assad (with the strong urging of Russia, perhaps). Indeed, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov has said that safe zones might be possible, but only with Assad’s consent.
The United States should pursue one of these alternate avenues rather than trying to establish a safe zone in Syria without such consent.

One of these alternative avenues? So establish a safe zone in Syria with Assad’s consent?
OR... Create a ‘consensual’ safe zone in Turkey?  And if neither Turkey or Syria consent?

I certainly don't expect Turkey to consent. Syria? Depending on outside pressure? Maybe? Maybe not?

Turkey Faces Two Uneasy Choices in Syria- Neither of them Good for Turkey-An Oped

 Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, in a phone call Sunday with U.S. President Donald Trump, agreed to support safe zones in Syria and Yemen, a White House statement said.

Kurds get more weapons from the US and plan "new phase"

SDF is mostly YPG/PKK so I'm not including the absolute nonsense about this supply going to the Arabs portion of SDF which is just a veneer to cover up US cooperation with PKK terrorists

SDF spokesman Talal Silo said the delivery of the armored vehicles marked a significant improvement in U.S. support and attributed the change to the new administration. Trump says eradicating Islamic State will be one of his biggest priorities.
"Previously we didn't get support in this form, we would get light weapons and ammunition," Silo told Reuters. "There are signs of full support from the new American leadership -- more than before -- for our forces."


The U.S. strategy towards fighting Islamic State in Syria has generated tension with NATO ally Turkey
 The Kurdish military source said the third phase would focus on capturing remaining areas, including the road between Raqqa city and Deir al-Zor. Cutting off Raqqa city from IS strongholds in Deir al-Zor would be a major blow against the group.

RT: Trump Administration sends Armored Vehicles to Syrian Rebels
The shipment was confirmed by Pentagon spokesman John Dorrian, who said it was made "using existing authorities, in the interest of helping protect our partnered force from the (IS) improvised-explosive device threat."
The Pentagon also said that plans to deliver the vehicles pre-dated the Trump administration, but were a sign of its renewed commitment to defeaating IS, which the new US President promised as part of his campaign.
Why didn't Trump prevent the delivery of these new arms and vehicles


  1. Recall it is Kissinger who has advocated partition since the inception. He is also whispering in Trumps ear on all matters of policy. One wonder if the Russian position on Kurd autonomy - rather unchanged stance since the first leaked constitution document - was the NATO/US negotiating carrot.

    1. United Nations has restarted air drops of food to support 93,500 Syrians besieged by ISIS in the city of Deir al-Zor, the UN World Food Programme said on Tuesday.Moreover, the air drops to Deir al-Zor are conducted at high altitude because of the threat of attack from the ground. UN air drops cost an average of $10,000 per tonne, a total cost of $33 million so far.

      Coordinating with the Long range Russian bomber runs?

    2. https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2017/01/30/France-s-scandal-hit-Fillon-Leave-my-wife-out-of-election.html

      Macron rises like the phoenix

    3. http://www.thelocal.fr/20170106/fillon-to-keep-pushing-christian-faith-as-election-looms


      Asked about Trump's comments on NATO, Macron said: "We would react if it came to that (weakening of the alliance). But I am warning against developing premature scenarios," he said, without elaborating. "I’m in favor of resolving the Ukraine conflict through the Minsk peace accords. If there is no progress, it would make sense to expand sanctions against Russia. At the same time, we also need continuing and demanding discussions with Moscow," he said.

      Next up: Making the National Champions great again

      "French presidents and their governments have always put industrial policy at the forefront of their programmes. It has produced some notable successes – among these, a world class aerospace and defence industry, the development of high speed rail travel and a leading position in nuclear energy. At the same time, it has also reinforced the enduring perception of French dirigisme, its protectionist instincts and “economic patriotism”.


  2. Hi Penny:

    Here an interesting video report on the topic by Bill Still.


    Huge tent city in Saudi Arabia ready for use by refugees. Begs the question of who will foot the bill? At least Trump is approaching these issues creatively. The best idea, of course, would be not to cause this instability in the first place with perpetual wars for cheap, migrant labour.


  3. A safe zone in Turkey would end up as a US occupation of Turkish territory inhabited by Kurds. Regardless, a safe zone in either Syria or Turkey is a PKK safe heaven.
    Russia has practically been begging the US to partition Syria with them since the ceasefire early last year. What has stopped it has been the US refusal to cooporate with Russia.
    Russia might finally get their wish now, who knows?

  4. Astana has already failed. The aim of Turkey was for the FSA and their favorite jihadists Ahrar al-Sham to fight Al-Nusra. Instead many 'moderate' groups and half of Ahrar have joined Nusra. This means the SAA, & probably Turkey, will have to fight in Idlib.

  5. Russia will never agree to the partition of Syria...by the US or any other country. This is counter to International Law...which Putin is an adamant scholar of. It would set a dangerous precedent for the future of any small, vulnerable country (like Canada) and also...and most importantly...it would destroy all the trust and good will that Russia has built up amongst the non-aligned/third world countries over the past two decades.

    1. I hope you are correct. But I have my doubts. There still exists a very basic reality. Those that control the money control the government. At this point I see no actions by the Tussian government to take actions against Elvira and the Atlanticists who are in control of the central bank.

  6. Why didn't Trump prevent the delivery of these new arms and vehicles

    Simply because Mr. T is a lying,duplicitous son of a bitch. He may have fooled the trump chumps, but there are many here among us who saw through the facade. He had no intention of pulling back from the empires interventionist policies. He is a member of the most thuggish sector of the oligarchy.

  7. http://www.basnews.com/index.php/en/news/middle-east/325406