Wednesday, May 15, 2019

A Quagmire in the Making? Turkey to Move East in Syria?

 Previously discussed has been this idea of the Adana Agreement being in play, present time, in Syria. I've read claims that allege Turkey is sending slews of fighters to block SAA in the Hama/Idlib area. That seems not likely for a number of reasons already mentioned. 
 If we also consider the possibility that Turkey is 'poised to expand' eastward, which would be Adana in action, then it's not likely Turkey is behind any mass movement of fighters towards the region that SAA is retaking. 
 At the same time some are claiming Turkey is behind the flow of fighters heading SAA off, there have been reports that Turkey is removing their fighters from the general area.
 If Turkey is actually going to make a move eastward then it's more sensible they are withdrawing fighters and resources from the area and positioning to make a move east. Taking us back round to Adana.

Carnegie- Middle East Insights

Mohanad Hage Ali
"Turkey is poised to expand its “safe zone” in northern Syria toward regions eastward controlled by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). With this goal in sight, Ankara will seek to contain Kurds affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization, who are fighting under the banner of the SDF.

Turkey is setting high expectations. Recently, Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan claimed that this expansion would allow for the return home of 4 million Syrian refugees currently residing in Turkey. However, such a swift return is unlikely given the security challenges in the Turkish-dominated region. Failure to fulfill his promises could cost Erdogan politically, as the Turkish leader has faced more organized domestic political opposition recently.

Once it takes place, the move east would represent Turkey’s third military expansion inside Syria—following the Euphrates Shield Operation that began in August 2016 and the Olive Branch Operation that started in January 2018. Expanding the areas under Turkish military control is now officially Ankara’s policy. Turkey has pursued this through a series of understandings with Russia on the one hand, and the United States on the other. For Russia and the Syrian regime, Turkish advances have been characterized by land swaps. This process began with the Olive Branch operation, when Turkey’s takeover of Afrin was accompanied by a Syrian military advance toward the former Hijaz railway in Aleppo Governorate. These swaps have not introduced any procedure for withdrawals, so that each side has been left on its respective battlefield.

Now, it appears that such an arrangement is being replicated. A Turkish-led expansion into Manbij and Tal Rif‘at would see Russian-backed regime forces storm into opposition-controlled territories in Hama and Aleppo Governorates. The details have not been disclosed. However, the Guardian quoted two “senior diplomats” referring to such a quid pro quo, which would see a “limited campaign that gives Russian and Syrian forces a foothold in Idlib, in return for allowing Turkey to deepen its current zone of control further to the east.”
This quid pro quo was discussed in one of my earlier reports regarding the situation present day in Syria

"Expanding the Turkish zone is one thing, but keeping it secure is another. There are two main challenges to stability in the Turkish-dominated zone. The first is the internal divisions and violence among the various militant groups. These are often the result of their coming from different areas of origin, tribal rivalries, or competition over resources. The Euphrates Shield area, which is approximately 2,000 square kilometers, has turned into a melting pot for communities from Homs, Damascus, and Aleppo, among other places, as the vast majority of the zone’s population is made up of refugees. These refugees live in communal clusters, often under the protection of armed groups whose members fled with them. These groups frequently clash with other groups.  
Bombings and firefights are now recurrent in Turkish-controlled areas, which are home to a diverse mix of Turkmen, Arab, and Kurdish communities. Under the umbrella of a so-called “Syrian National Army,” the Turkish authorities have been trying for the past year and a half to build a more coherent force and contain the large number of militias operating in the region. Their divisions can at any time escalate into a wider communal conflict. This occurred last January, when members of Ahrar al-Sharqiyyeh, a militant group whose members hail from Deir Ezzor, killed a Damascene merchant. It quickly led to fighting between the group, and Jaish al-Islam, which in Afrin has claimed to be a protector of refugees from the region of Damascus. Such disarray deprives Ankara of the tools needed to implement a coherent security strategy in the region, one that accompanies its efforts to provide services and an economic framework for the areas under its control.
A second challenge is the growing insurgency in the region, specifically in the Kurdish zones. Kurdish insurgents, often operating under the name of the Afrin Freedom Movement, have launched attacks against Turkish forces deployed in Kurdish areas. Earlier this month they attacked a Turkish military vehicle, killing a soldier and injuring five others. Such attacks have become recurrent. Adding to Turkey’s trouble is the lack of organization among pro-Turkish militias, who often respond to attacks by targeting Kurdish civilians, which further alienates the population.

In parallel to its military efforts, Turkey has been pursuing a holistic cultural and economic policy, further Turkifying the region. Turkish is now taught in schools, alongside Arabic and English, while Turkish post office branches and hospitals, often staffed by Turkish doctors, have been opened across the region. This underlines Ankara’s long-term commitment to maintaining its presence in northern Syria.
As Turkey prepares to widen its “safe zone” again, new challenges will most likely emerge, though not only because of the Kurds. The region’s security void and disarray could potentially create opportunities for other actors—from the Syrian regime to jihadi groups—who are increasingly wary of Turkish policies in Syria and Ankara’s understandings with Russia and the United States."

  1. Syria: Blow by Blow 4- Hama to Idlib

  2. US Backed Kurds Kill Protestors- Idlib/Hama Update

  3. "Russia and Turkey landgrab 'behind fresh Syria bombardment' "

  4. Syria: Blow by Blow 3- Idlib, Opening Highways/Taking Higher Ground?
  5. Syria: Blow by Blow Updated

  6. Syria: Blow by Blow


  1. And people like Stephen Gowans continue to promote Alex Jones-calibre conspiracymongering with regards to the Justice and Development government in Turkey. He's repeated ad nauseum in a few blog posts that Recep Tayyip is a "Muslim Brotherhood puppet" (then why are alcohol and porn still legal, as New Zealander expat Alan Scott pointed out in his blog "The Turkey File"?") who "loves repressing civil society". Even if true (though I have my doubts), did he forget the various military dictatorships which the country went through in the XX century? Or the existence of PKK terrorism which has claimed thousands of lives? Or the existence of the Gulen-led parallel government which organised the failed 2016 coup (and is probably supporting Daesh in Syria and Iraq)? Also for a supposed Islamist autocrat, Erdogan won at least HALF the vote in recent elections, which means part of the population supports him, and while they're not The Netherlands, Turkey, Kazakhstan (due to Soviet secularisation), Egypt and Tunisia/Algeria/Morocco are easily the most
    culturally liberal countries in the Islamic world. My grandmother visited the first two in the mid-noughties and told me that both are "modern nations" and "highly Westernised". So I, an admitted current NEET, know more facts about Turkey than supposed professional journalists like Gowans and Maupin? Or are they contradicting their stated anti-imperialist values and engaing in bad-faith information warfare against Turkey? Now that I remember, Caleb even took a photo of himself with Fethullah! For a pair of socialists, they also failed to inform their readers that Erdogan has rejected IMF austerity packages.

    1. Hi Martin: it's weird how it's become de rigueur to associate MB with Turkey- when historically MB has been more associated with Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

      I can't help but wonder if there is present time a specific propaganda value in linking the two entities together in the hearts and minds of the empire

      Particularly when one looks at the displeasure the US is having with Turkey, at this moment in time.

      Coinciding with this move to demonize MB (which is not one organization-but rather numerous organizations varying from state to state, covering a gamut of political parties/charities/etc.)

      What I'm suspecting is that the move to synchronize the demonization of the two parties (MB and Turkey) serves as a very good perception management type of scheme and can help sell Turkey as a problem.

      Took some time to look at Stephen Gowans work...Realized I've seen one piece of his work previously. What I saw wouldn't be not enough to make me go there and read again.

      "did he forget the various military dictatorships which the country went through in the XX century? Or the existence of PKK terrorism which has claimed thousands of lives? Or the existence of the Gulen-led parallel government which organised the failed 2016 coup"

      If he did forget that history, then he did so for the sake of advancing an agenda- that's what I would think.

      "So I, an admitted current NEET, know more facts about Turkey than supposed professional journalists like Gowans and Maupin?"

      Not sure what a NEET is? But it's doubtful these two are unaware of the history- they are most probably just glossing it over in support of imperialist propaganda.

    2. *Not in education, employment or training- definition of NEET

    3. Stephen Gowans. Wow that's a name I haven't seen for at least 15 years. I actually liked what he wrote in the early 2000s because it was so different and new from what I could hear in mainstream media. But the fun thing is that I once mixed up the name after a metacrawler (people remember before google?) search with David McGowan. The rest is history, after that, the lukewarm self-pleasuring of Gowans had no appeal anymore, I got the real deal of "conspiratology :-)" with his news, commentary letters. That was an eye opener and searching for people who appreciated also his work, I found your blog (or was it via nobody? I don't remember).

      So, you can see, even lame authors can lead to good results, it only requires to recognize soon enough the limits and agendas.

    4. hi again gallier2
      glad to know you are well and chatty :)
      I realized I used one of S Gowan's pieces here previously, but, overall he appears a typical leftist- chastising of Israel in a way that earns some cred with the left crowd, but, still glossing over a whole lot of pertinent information.

      Yah, I recall when I first stumbled across Nobody and then he was surprised to see I linked to Dave McGowan all the years back-- You know I feel very fortunate to have gotten a copy of his Laurel Canyon book, with a really nice autograph- so typical of him
      Something like directed to me personally "Hope you like the book"

      Sometimes I'll dig up old shows to listen to and wonder where he'd be at right now in his research had he lived.

      Yes, lame authors can get good results :)
      And I'm glad you found this blog and still contribute all these years later :)
      Stay well my friend
      And gallier the elder as well- I've gotten quite fond of you both after all this time