Monday, January 29, 2018

Why is Russia Helping Turkey in Afrin?

Oped Via Al Jazeera
Image from Al Jazeera

The narrative below, excerpted from the oped, works for me. It jibes with much of what I've posted here this past YEAR.
"On January 20, Turkey launched an air and ground offensive, which it called "Olive Branch", against the Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin in northern Syria.

As the offensive progressed rapidly, it became obvious that such an ambitious operation could not have been possible without Russia's explicit approval.

First of all, the operation required the Turkish Air Force to enter Syria's airspace - something Ankara could not have done without consulting Russia.

January 19/18: Russian Forces Exit As Turkey Begins Afrin Operation?

  The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters in Syria, also knew that it would be impossible for Turkey to start the operation "Olive Branch" without coordinating with Moscow. As a result, SDF representatives hastily expressed their disappointment with Russia's stance on the issue.
General Sipan Hemo, a commander for the Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG), the leading Kurdish force within the SDF, said Russia has "betrayed the Kurds". He added that "there will come a day when Russia will apologise to the Kurds for this lack of principles."
I completely missed the YPG/PKK’s display of principles?
 "With the start of the operation, Russia clearly became a Turkish accomplice in the eyes of the Kurds. It is difficult not to agree with the Kurdish assessment, but a close examination of last year's developments shows that the cooperation between Moscow and Ankara regarding the future of Afrin, at the expense of the Kurds, started long before Turkey launched its operation against the enclave.
The seeds of the operation "Olive Branch" were planted last summer, during talks between Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Turkish Chief-of-Staff Hulusi Akar in Istanbul. As result of these talks, Moscow gave consent to the partial use of Syria's airspace by the Turkish air forces, paving the way for Turkey's offensive on Afrin"
"Ankara began building up its military presence near the Kurdish enclave (annexed Syrian territory) over a month ago, after reaching an agreement with Moscow on the delineation of the de-escalation zone in Idlib"

July 2017: Russia and Syria Collude With Turkey
 As covered at that time.. “Russians say if we allow the Syrian regime forces enter Afrin, they will stop the Turkish attacks,” Mr Abdo said.

“We drove the Syrian regime out of Afrin five years ago, and it is impossible to allow them back,” he insisted.

Only one of the external links is viable- And Youtube has taken the video down.  I guess with Afrin heating up- it was best to scrub certain reports from the net.

To recap- Last year in July Russia tried to make a deal with YPG/PKK in Afrin. The Kurds said- NO.  Which again leaves me asking why any of the 5 eyes media, alt or mainstream, was surprised by this move? Two follow up posts from September of 2017 can be found here and here.

"Moscow's approval of the operation Olive Branch became even more clear on the day the hostilities began, when the Russian Ministry of Defence announced the withdrawal of Russian troops from Afrin.

Also, in the brief statement it issued about the operation on January 20, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confined itself only to a duty of "concern" that was interpreted as a "green light" to Turkey's actions"
Russia's end game

Despite the indignation of the Syrian Kurds, cooperation with the Turks on the issue of Afrin is much more beneficial for Russia than confrontation.

Russia's relationship with the Kurds has never been based on long-term, strategic cooperation. On the contrary, throughout its history, Moscow has used "the Kurdish card" only when it needed to reach a compromise with the countries in the Middle East, especially with Turkey.

And in the case of Afrin, Moscow does not owe the YPG much. Throughout the Syrian crisis, the group allied itself with the US and, de facto speaking, placed itself on the opposite side of the conflict. The Kurds rejected Russia's offer to transfer the territory under their control in Afrin to the Syrian regime, in exchange for security guarantees."
 In case anyone missed the two year old post, I'd relinked just last week... Here it is again!  February 2016: US Considers Air Support to "Afrin" Kurds aka Khorasan- Goading Turkey & False Flag Alert
 The US military will look into the possibility of supporting from the air the Afrin Kurds’ advances in northern Syria against Daesh, Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Steve Warren told reporters on Wednesday.
 Indeed, the YPG/PKK in Afrin were firmly on board with the US. The US had provided them with air support under the guise of bombing Khorosan.  Russia had tried to make a deal with them last year- they said no. Turkey was never going to tolerate the creation of this Israel 2.0..

"In addition, cooperation with Ankara is of primary importance for Moscow at the moment. Turkey is one of the co-organisers of the Congress of Syrian People, which is being held on January 29-30 in Sochi.
The forum has domestic political significance for the Kremlin, since it is not only a personal initiative of Vladimir Putin, but also coincides with the beginning of his election campaign. The Russian president wants to approach the presidential elections in March 2018 as a peacemaker and a victor. He wants to offer his electorate a victorious conclusion of the military conflict in Syria, and then position his government as the key player which would bring peace to the war-torn country.

Also, by cooperating with Ankara on Afrin, Moscow has created an opportunity that would allow it to solve the situation in Idlib without military escalation. Russia knew that a military confrontation in Idlib would have been costly for Damascus and its allies, as it would have led to a new humanitarian catastrophe similar to the one that occurred a year ago in Aleppo. Not to mention that such a conflict would have exhausted the already weak Syrian army, forcing Russia to return to the Syrian war front.
Russia's tacit approval of the operation Olive Branch, on the contrary, led to reciprocal concessions from Ankara in Idlib. The same day Turkey launched its operation, the Syrian regime announced that it had seized the opposition-controlled Abu Duhur airport in Idlib without any hindrance.

Finally, Turkey has another, important bargaining chip against Russia: the Turkish Stream gas pipeline. Moscow has pinned high hopes on the project and it does not want anything to hinder its construction"
Moscow's consent to a Turkish operation in Afrin coincided with a statement from Gazprom CEO Aleksei Miller, confirming a long-awaited agreement on the construction of a second gas line passing through the territorial waters of Turkey.
This makes it unlikely for Ankara to suspend the project in the near future, as it did in 2015. If the construction continues without hindrance, the Turkish Stream can be completed in 2019 as planned.

Construction of Turkish/Russian pipeline is more then 50 percent finished

"More than 50 % of the construction pipeline that will supply Turkey with Russian natural gas under the Turkish Stream project has been completed
Natural gas extracted from Novy Urengoy in the Yamalo-Nenets autonomous region in Russia’s Siberia will feed the Turkish Stream pipeline. The field, operated by Gazprom, sits on an estimated gas reserve of 12 trillion cubic meters, the 2nd largest in the world after Iran’s Southern Pars field.

Natural gas produced in the field is also transferred to Germany, Poland, Austria, Denmark, France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. A single gas field in Novy Urengoy, such as the 16th gas field, which employs 3,700 workers, can produce enough gas to meet Turkish Stream’s annual 31.5 billion cubic meters of capacity"
 Speaking of Sochi- Pay attention to the FACT that France and Britian are both shunning the Sochi talks- because they aren't looking for a political settlement for the Syrian situation that doesn't fit their desired goals and agenda-  

 " France and Britain will not take part in Syrian peace talks to be held in Russia on Tuesday, saying the talks had to be part of a U.N.-led process and urging Moscow to get the Syrian government to engage in meaningful negotiations"
Russia has invited the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - Britain, China, France and the United States - to the meeting, which the Syrian opposition has said it will boycott.
”All other initiatives, like the Sochi meeting organised by Russia, must support the U.N. process and be in that framework,” a French foreign ministry spokesman said in a daily briefing.
“We take note of the Syrian opposition’s (YPG/PKK) decision not to go to Sochi. France will not participate in the work being carried out there,” the spokesman said.
 If France and Britian  really wanted peace they'd agree to it through whatever means it can be accomplished. If it's the Sochi talks, so be it!

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