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Middle East Aflame
The U.S. and Turkey: Past the Point of No Return?

With Ankara and Washington on a collision course in northern Syria, both sides will have to rethink their priorities if they want to salvage an increasingly hollow alliance.

Published on: February 1, 2018
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  • Marathon-Youth

    America is caught in a conundrum:
    -Oppose Turkey and side with the Kurds could lead to a military exchange between Turkey and the US both NATO members with Turkey being the 2nd largest contributor to NATO in terms of soldiers, after the US. This would be a first and could lead to Turkey pulling out of NATO and joining Russia. That would about end NATO forcing the EU to develop her own military.
    -Agree with Turkey and pull out of the Syrian border leaving the Kurds to the Turkish military. The blowback will come from our congress and the Jewish Lobby where Israel wants the Kurds to have a homeland. Not so much because of deep and abiding love for the Kurdish people but the formation of a Kurdish homeland would shatter the sovereignty of Israel’s Arab neighbors, especially Syria.
    -The breakup of Syria is vital to Israel. She already got the Golan Heights from Syria and now wants a larger chunk of that nation, so do the Kurds. Meeting the demands of the Kurds with America’s help means overthrowing Assad and watching the Kurds also cleave Turkey. But at the end of this chapter Israel doubles in size.

    • Micah718

      “But at the end of this chapter Israel doubles in size.” With the end game being Niles to Euphrates, it has to start somewhere.

      • Marathon-Youth

        Google Oded Yinon and read what he has to say about ‘greater Israel”

        • Micah718

          I’m referring to what One God said WILL happen. Agreeing or disagreeing with it has no bearing on the final outcome. My opinion, your opinion, Oded Yinon’s opinion are all irrelevant.

    • Why can’t the Kurds have a homeland? The Arabs have long controlled about 80-90% of the entire Middle East, the other ethnic groups should begin to have a say as well.

      • Kuruova

        Why don’t the USA five the Kurds the state of Florida. Problem solved.

  • Fat_Man

    Turkey has no economic or strategic importance to the United States. Turkey has no natural resources of any importance. It has no technology, and limited industrial capacity. No trade routes go through Turkey. It is time to pull out of Turkey and leave the Turks to their fate. If Turkey were destroyed utterly by some natural calamity, the United States and its people would not notice the missing country in any way. And it would have no impact on the world at large. Although the Kurds would be very happy.

    The idea that Turkey has strategic importance is a historical remnant. At the First Millennium of the Christian Era, Constantinople was the largest and richest city in western Eurasia. In 1453, the Turks conquered Constantinople. They then controlled the trade routes between Europe and East Asia. The Europeans responded by exploring the sea routes to Asia, and in the process discovered the New World. Ocean trade always trumps land routes. Turkey began its long slide into irrelevance. In the 19th Century, control of the Eastern Mediterranean, and the trade routes from India to Britain was a vital object of British foreign policy. None of that has any relevance in the 21st century. Turkey is just another dying Islamic country without oil.

    Turkey does control the entrances to the Black Sea. But it is not really a sea or part of the open ocean, it is a lake between Turkey, which is worthless, and Russia which is malignant. The Black Sea is surrounded by countries that are poor and irrelevant to the United States, Sorry Bulgaria, Romania, and Georgia, it sucks to be you. Ukraine — It’s dead, Jim.

    We should never allow an American Naval vessel to go into Black Sea. No reason to give our enemies hostages.

    Turkey is also the key to the Balkans. The Balkans are a miserable and useless part of the world. Strategically, the Balkans are on the way to no place in particular. The Balkan countries: Greece, Albania, Macedonia (FYROM), Bulgaria, are irrelevant. They have no natural resources worth mentioning. Their agricultural products have no role in US markets, not even olive oil. The wines are terrible, unless you are a connoisseur of paint thinner. They manufacture nothing.

    It is true that Turkey is a member of NATO, but that just shows how worthless and outdated NATO is. Turkey is, in large part, responsible for the refugee invasion of Western Europe. I would never risk the life of an American serviceman, or a Pomeranian grenadier to defend Turkey. I should add that NATO ally Turkey, positively refused to aid the United States during the Iraq war.

    The US should close the Incirlik base. There is no reason to maintain a base in a country that is of no importance. We should not leave potential hostages so deep in enemy territory. BTW, I pray to God that there are no nuclear weapons in a place that is so vulnerable to enemy attack. It is long past time when we should shut down Incirlik, and get our people away from a situation where they could become the hostages of an Islamist madman. On our way out we should destroy the place and its facilities so that the Russians and the Turks cannot use them. If there are nuclear weapons at Incirlik, we must get them out of there STAT. The danger of the Turks, the Russians, and the Iranians stealing them is far too grave. Incirlik should be replaced by a new base in Jordan that should also house an armored brigade. That would serve to protect Jordan from both ISIS and Iran.

    If Russia wants Turkey, let Russia have Turkey. If the Turks ask for help, tell them to pound sand. The world would be better off if Turkey were cut into three pieces. Turkey in Europe, the suburbs of Constantinople, and the Black Sea littoral should be given to Russia and Christianized. The Eastern third of Turkey should be given to the Kurds, and the remainder should be left to rot. As to seaports for the Kurds, they could take Hatay Province from Turkey. It is the chunk of Turkey, on the Mediterranean coast north of Syria. Its capital is Antakya (Antioch), and its port city is Iskenderun (Alexandretta). The United States should side with Kurds and help them establish an independent Kurdistan in Kurdish areas of Anatolia, Mesopotamia, and the Levant. It was of the few positive moves the US could make to stabilize the Middle East and limit the expansion of Iranian Power. The other one is building a base in Northeastern Jordan.

    Under Erdogan, the Turks have not been friends of the United States. The United States needs the Turks like it needs boils. And boils is pretty much what the Turks have been to US foreign policy for the past 20 years. It is time to be quit of the Turks.

    • Kuruova

      You either failed to read the articles or as I suspect you simply have a very negative view of Turks / Turkey either way your write up is simply trash and best ignored.

      • Fat_Man

        I think a strong majority of Americans agree with me. And I don’t care what foreigners think.

        • Kuruova

          Quite frankly I don’t care for much what you or the Americans think either. The fact that fool was elected as president of the USA says it all.

          • Fat_Man

            Better than your tinpot dictator.

      • Fat_Man

        “I suspect you simply have a very negative view of Turks / Turkey”

        Yes. Very negative.

    • wri

      I think history a geography show your analysis to be unfounded.

      • Fat_Man

        What history and what geography?

  • D4x

    Svante Cornell does a better job than most in his recap of US-Turkey relations, but a mediocre job of explaining Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch (OOB) military assault on the NW Syria Afrin District since Jan.19, 2018. Assad did withdraw in 2012, but Afrin was never in rebellion: 08 17 2011 A delegation of mayors from Afrin District received by President Bashar Al-Assad at the presidential palace in Damascus, they want peace. http://abdallah-osman.blogspot.com/2011/ https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ef989a00dbeeadc99027341f32ba0419017d8237dab44376d7ec0a0707aa2f4a.jpg

    One major error is his point that “the trigger for the current crisis was the American decision to create a largely Kurdish “border security force” of over 30,000 personnel in northern Syria.” NO. Turkey has been itching to go after Afrin District in NW Syria for a year, after Turkey ‘occupied’ the border area in Jarabulus, west bank of the Euphrates River: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8bd7a2e197af7cde54b55dc3499b5e389835b5af2ed82c7cccf88af80c73b1f0.png
    Russia stopped protecting Afrin until Jan. 19, 2018 in what appears to be a deal for Turkey to withdraw their FSA-Islamists out of Idlib.

    This is far more complicated than USA-Turkey relations.

    In October, 2017, I was only following the SW Syria de-escalation zone at syrialiveuamap.com while re-reading William Dalrymple’s 1999 serious travel memoir, “From the Holy Mountain: A Journey Among the Christians of the Middle East”, where he retraced the 587 CE pilgrimage of two monks, John Moschos and his pupil Sophronius the Sophist, from Athos to Egypt. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/104039.From_the_Holy_Mountain Liveuamap uses icons, and I noticed Turkish artillery hits very close to the Church of St. Simeon Stylites near Afrin. Same Byzantine Saint, and Church, that I was reading about in Dalrymple’s powerful travel memoir.

    Since Jan. 12, it is the only story I follow, and can recommend these analyses as of Feb 1, 2018 as more nuanced in the complexity

    Jan. 25, 2018: City of Geneva statement : “[…] In the face of these violations of the Geneva Conventions, the City of Geneva calls for an immediate halt to the Turkish army’s offensive in the Erfîn canton and in northeastern Syria.
    The City of Geneva also recalls that respect for the principles of the Geneva Conventions is a priority for the international
    community and all parties to the Conventions, including Turkey. They are required to protect the lives of civilians,
    to ensure the free organization of the areas to treat the wounded and to ensure the free passage of humanitarian aid.”
    http://www.ville-geneve.ch/actualites/detail/article/1516805955-offensive-turque-syrie-ville-geneve-appelle-respect-conventions-geneve/

    Jan. 30, 2018: “Relentless fighting in Syria continues to exact terrible toll on civilians, says UN deputy aid chief Ursula Mueller,
    Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, addresses the Security Council Jan 30, 2018. PDF Statement as Delivered:
    https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/SyriaSCStatementAsDelivered.pdf
    http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=58509#.WnHIJbly6EZ

    Jan. 24, 2018: “Turkey Enters the Fray: Never in the field of human conflict has such a limited military operation been threatened for so
    long.” Last updated: January 24, 2018 George Friedman https://geopoliticalfutures.com/turkey-enters-fray/

    Jan. 30, 2018: Analysis // ” The Real Reason Behind Turkey’s Military Incursion Into Syria President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the Turks invaded Syria in order to combat ‘Kurdish terror,’ but preventing three Kurdish districts establishing territorial contiguity along the border is no less important” Zvi Bar’el |  Jan 30, 2018 8:10 AM https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/the-real-reason-behind-turkey-s-kurdish-skirmish-1.5766942

    Jan. 31, 2018: “Ankara-Moscow dealings still tangled as Idlib smoke clears” Amberin Zaman January 31, 2018
    https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/01/turkey-russia-agree-accelerate-syria.html

    Jan. 31, 2018: “Can Sochi be Syria’s Taif?” Fadi Esber | Published — Wednesday 31 January 2018[…]Last week, the foreign ministers
    of the United States, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and Jordan met in Paris to produce a detailed paper on the Syrian crisis and called
    on the opposition not to attend Sochi.[…] http://www.arabnews.com/node/1236821

    Feb. 1, 2018: “Afrin offensive strains Turkey and Russia’s ‘alliance of convenience’” MENEKSE TOKYAY | Published — Thursday 1 February 2018 http://www.arabnews.com/node/1237771/middle-east

    AFP has the best news reports, and VOA is improving. Beware of AP, and any Turkish source.
    I keep trying to stop, but Afrin is such a beautiful place, and OOB echoes 1939.
    The difference between 1939 and 2018 is that, the UNSC, led by France and the USA, is trying to stop this. Too late for Bulbul town, Afrin District, at peace in 2010, until OOB:
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0239a8c74582d58469ed33f6906dc58ab7d6fd90e5452b7ad74ce932e4eb36ec.jpg
    until Feb. 1, 2018, “#OpOliveBranch forces officially control over Bulbul town”
    https://syria.liveuamap.com/en/2018/1-february-opolivebranch-forces-officially-control-over-bulbul

    • Kuruova

      It is common knowledge that Afrin has and continues to be used by the PKK to attack Turkey. Fo those in the know Turkey’s move into Afrin was a no brainier.

      • D4x

        01 28 2018 “Like ISIS, Turkey destroyed 3,000 year-old Iron Age Ain Dara World Heritage site in Afrin.”
        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f03441f7585511ed033f29bfe66183e9fb4ff957c0b9405c2376c8851a0d5713.jpg
        Widely reported globally, days after Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced 2018 as “Year of Troy”, to stimulate tourism of Turkey’s Iron Age World Heritage site at Canakkale, and new Museum of Troy opening. No word yet if actor Brad Pitt accepted Turkey’s offer to be the ‘face’ of The Year of Troy. He probably noticed UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie with two of their children at a refugee camp for Syrians in Jordan on Jan. 28, calling on the world to stop the war in Syria..

        No one lived at Ain Dara. It was a tourist destination. Yesterday, Turkish artillery bombarded YPG positions around
        Darmak mountain in Afrin. The co-ordinates are VERY close to the Greek-Roman-Byzantine Heritage site of the city of Cyrrhus.

        Also widely reported, outside Turkish media, is that there is no evidence of any terror attacks out of Afrin. The City of Geneva formally accused Turkey of violating the Geneva Conventions on January 25, cited in my comment. Lots of evidence since then. That is what the rest of the world sees, hears, and says, including the U.S. State Department and UN Security Council.

        • Kuruova

          Collateral damage, happens in all wars. This is a mere pink prick to what the Americans and Russians have done in Iraq and Syria. I guess you’ve highlighted those as well?

        • Marathon-Youth

          What do you think of Oded Yinon and “A Greater Israel” ?

  • But the problem is, the instant the U.S. decides to break its alliance with Turkey, Erdogan will immediately attempt to join the CSTO or the SCO, and place himself in the enemy camp, opposing Europe and America as an open adversary and further frustrating our interests.

    • wri

      My conclusion from the article is that we should accept that Erdogan will always be anti-American, conspiracy-minded, and untrustworthy. Nevertheless, we should focus on the importance of our longterm relationship with Turkey, the country, not its present leader. In the short run Erdogan likley will play footsie with Russia and others American adversaries in the region even if we try to accomodate him. Nevertheless we should bite the bullet with the Kurds. None of the powers in the region will tolerate a Kurdish state. We should do what we can to preserve the autonomy of the Kurds in the region they occupy in Iraq. While it would be nice to have a Kurdish enclave opposing Assad in Syria, unless Turkey agrees it will costs us more than we gain to try to sustain a Kurdish presence.

  • Kuruova

    Excellent analysis of the dynamics and current state of the play in the region. One of the very few articles that manages to expose the underlying issues. Well done.

  • Jonathan Dembo

    I find it hard to accept that the US has no firm strategy in the Middle East when it is obvious that it has clear, long-term, objectives and has moved consistently to achieve them. What is that US strategy? Simple. To keep the Turks away from the Arabs; to keep the Arabs away from the Persians; to limit the role of Russia; and to keep everybody away from the Israelis. Israel is protected by the Sinai, by American allied Jordan, and by the Golan. Except for the Lebanese frontier, which is very short, Israel is largely safe from attack. Under Bush 43, the US overthrew Saddam Hussein and attempted to create a Shia Arab barrier to hem in the Iranians. Under Obama the US temporized vis a vis Iran and worked to delay Iranian nuclear advances. Under Trump, the US has been working toward creating an alliance of Sunni states plus Israel to create a barrier against Persian hegemony. It seemed for a while the the Shia Arabs in Iraq could become an effective barrier; but the failure of the Obama administration to support the Surge-created peace in Iraq spoiled that possibility. The US is still trying to come up with a substitute. The creation of a Kurdish condon sanitaire between the Arabs and the Turks is the third leg of this triad. In creating a Kurdish enclave that extended from the Kurdish region of Iraq to the Mediterranean sea, the US could accomplish this part of its plant.
    It could prevent Turkish attacks on the Arabs and Arab attacks on the Turks. It would protect both parties from external attack and it could minimize Russian influence in the whole region. Turkish fears of a Kurdish separatist threat pale into insignificance compared to the mortal threat posed by a joint Arab-Persian attack with Russian support. The Turks are frustrated that this plan prevents the possibility of a new Ottoman Empire; but they should be relieved that it also prevents the possibility of new Persian or Arab empires; or a combination of both against them.

    • wri

      I wonder whether you read or understood this article. A Kurdish domain from Iraq to the sea, if it existed and was accepted (reluctantly or otherwise) by the powers in the region, would have a number of potential benefits. But if Turkey is willing to risk war with the U.S. because the Kurds temporarily occupy land next to Turkey, why would it accept a Kurdish permanent presence? You have a lot of wishful thinking regarding what a mentally unstable, authoritarian, anti-American, Erdogan will accept.

      • D4x

        Kurds do not “temporarily occupy land next to Turkey”. The Seljuk Turks advanced into Anatolia about 1068 CE. Kurds have been living in what is now northern Syria a bit longer. Although many Syrian Kurds are descended from the Kurds driven out of Turkey by Ataturk in 1925 CE, the Kurds in Afrin are descended from Saladin’s troops. Saladin was a Kurd, born in Tikrit, but ‘Arabicized’ by Arab nationalists around 1900 CE.

        Afrin has been the crossroads of empires for more than 2,000 years. On Feb. 4, Turkish-backed militias occupied Afrin’s Khurus ‘mountain’ and captured the village of Shaykh Khurus https://syria.liveuamap.com/en/2018/4-february-turkishbacked-forces-captured-shaykh-khurus-east – Khurus ‘mountain’ is also site of ancient citadel of Cyrrhus, a magnificent archaeological Heritage site from every Empire since 300 BCE, especially important to the Romans, and then Byzantines, and the Patriarch of Antioch. Two Roman bridges are still in use, and Cyrrhus/Khurus was famous for it’s Maronite (Catholic) Church.

        The US-led coalition presence, and bases, in northern Syria, east of the Euphrates River, create a ‘facts on the ground’ position for the Kurds, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Arabs, and other minorities who live there, to be valid participants in the Syrian peace process. It would be nice if the USA made up for the promise of Kurdish self-determination made in the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, and 1920 Treaty of Sevres, but deleted in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, because of Ataturk’s ‘facts on the ground’ in Anatolia, which created the modern nation-state of Turkey, but that does not appear to be on the agenda.

        • Everett Brunson

          I don’t know if it was the same attack you suffered, but my computer would not boot up yesterday. I tried various fixes–going back to an earlier restore point and so on–but nothing worked. I finally had to wipe it back to the factory settings. Needless to say, I lost all of my treasured bookmarks. My bookmarks contained articles I had saved for years. I’m not a happy camper this morning.

          • D4x

            Oh no! What you describe happened with my last desktop. Best Buy told me that, sometimes, the chip dies. Doubt that was a hack because I did not have high-speed, and was not commenting online 2012-2016. This Xmas Eve’17 attack was different – everything worked but keystrokes did not register. It was targeted virus …Reluctant to add that, I have an external hard drive, but could not remember a back-up since August. You should invest in an external hard drive. Staples did a great job with ‘re-hab’, including McAfee, which apparently is superior. The rest – I owe you an email, maybe overnight, tho recovering from a sudden, brief power outage today. PC looks fine, but too many trolls, too much news today, including TeamRussia v Erdo: http://valdaiclub.com/a/highlights/national-dialogue-congress-olive-branch-operation-/

          • Everett Brunson

            I’m really not sure what happened. I think the problem was on the Microsoft side of things. I had to wipe out all installed programs and then reload. None of the built in fixes, such as taking it back to a January set point worked. It did mean losing all of my browsing history and I still have to reload all of my Adobe programs.

            I had to go to Longview today. If you do email I can explain it then–it isn’t something to discuss in a forum.

          • D4x

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5a3e6c221ef49b7dbe701a8675786bcd0396a5b719c6431a51b3f23e974438e1.jpg “AfrinOp: in an unprecedented move a sizeable “support” convoy with YBS-YPG fighters coming from E. Syria and Iraq reached Afrin tonight through Assad-held territory.” https://syria.liveuamap.com/en/2018/5-february-afrinop-in-an-unprecedented-move-a-sizeable-support [I could not identify the insignia in the upper right hand corner] Twitter reports they are from Sinjar, Qamishli, Kobane, Raqqa and elsewhere. Sinjar means Yazidi. The demonstration of thousands in Afrin is being livestreamed right now on Rojava’s Ronahi TV. Of course they have a tv station – Afrin started the University of Afrin in August, 2015. wiki “After teaching three programs (Electromechanical Engineering, Kurdish Literature, and Economy) in the first academic year, the second academic year 2016/17 has three additional programs: Human Medicine, Journalism and Agricultural Engineering. Who starts libraries and universities during a civil war? Kurds. In 2015, I was trying to find a way to ship many of my books to Rojava, when I read they were starting a library and wanted English language books. It was too difficult. The Valley of the Literate was only interested in helping Syrian refugees relocate. Virtue-hypocrites.

            Yes, the USA knows – hard to miss traffic like that transiting north Aleppo to Afrin 🙂 There was also a convoy of armored trucks and APCs from Iraq into Syria the night before. That might be for the humanitarian aid stuck at the border.

            Not even checking email much, but it is a ToDo.

          • Everett Brunson

            Aha! I saw multiple convoy emblems in Liveuamap early this morning but I mistakenly thought they were Turkish reinforcements. Looks like Turkey bit off more than it can chew. The tide is shifting.

          • D4x

            There were also Turkish military convoys today, to set up the observation posts in Idlib that they promised to do last year when they instead drone mapped Afrin and set up artillery. The tide has been low for a year. No one could talk him down, or charm him out of this.

            Liveuamap is a confusing source. The site started in 2014. Ukrainians lose a bit in translation to English, and, a bit of Russia-bias.

          • MyWord245

            You have a nasty habit of posting facts. ;). Any way Turkey sucks. Bring our nukes back from there. Make sure Kurds survive. Let them all have a free go at it.

          • Everett Brunson

            I see. I went back to look again and noted two sets of convoys–one almost due west of Aleppo at Idlib and one south south-west of Aleppo just north of Kafr Karmin and another at Sarmada. All were Turkish. It wasn’t until a few minutes ago I saw the convoy going into Afrin–the convoy from Manbij, Qamishli and Hasakah.

            I was not timely in my reply. Laura Ingraham interviewed Carter Page on her show tonight. I recorded it earlier but didn’t get to watch it until 10:15 CST.

          • D4x

            All good. Have just been visiting the Cathedral of St. Simeon Stylites in Afrin, the largest Cathedral in the world when it was completed in 473 CE, as much floor space as the Haga Sophia. St. Simeon is a Saint in the Catholic (Eastern and Roman), Coptic, and Eastern Orthodox Churches. http://www.kuriositas.com/2013/08/the-dead-cities-of-syria-ancient.html http://aleppost.blogspot.com/2005/06/cathedral-of-st-simeon-stylites.html
            It is part of the ruins of the 700 ancient cities Heritage site. The Telegraph had an article in 2015 that refugees were living in these ruins, because not much bombing until Turkey started shelling last year. That was what caught my eye, because I was reading about St. Simeon. He had quite a view, from his pillar, of some of Afrin’s now thirteen million olive trees, and 250 olive presses. This is why it keeps my focus – creating a war zone that had been a haven. http://www.tirejafrin.com/index.php?page=category&category_id=174&lang=en
            When I read liveuamap, have to restrain myself from commenting about Operation Olive Branch: “How many olive trees did you kill today?”
            Having IE problems since the short blackout. This is still a good way to ignore the absence of news coverage. Tillerson in Argentina? That the press was barred from seeing him on horseback on Saturday afternoon. Scanning the headers is too annoying.

          • D4x

            “the Pope gifted Erdo?an a small medallion, depicting an angel of peace choking a demon of war […]” https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-turkish-president-discuss-middle-east-in-first-vatican-meeting-93514 Notice the reference to Afrin’s Syraic Aramaic churches and monasteries:
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e2a608268df2472aa7ddb99f7811908098af23de9cb82995597ff1bccb7f6380.jpg Syriac Military Council of SDF: Feb. 4: “As a sign of friendships of peoples, MFS decided to send reinforcements to defend #Afrin ppl from Turkish invasion & attacks & its terrorist mercenaries, continuing to defend our democratic project of justice & equality for all ppl of our homeland”
            THAT is who was in the convoy, thousands now in Afrin. Forgot I had this.

        • wri

          I wasn’t aware of the Kurdish history in NE Syria mentioned in these replies. I thought the Kurdish forces in the area were primarily from Iraq. There is no doubt the Kurds have been unfairly treated by history. Maybe an accommodation can re reached with Turkey similar to that in northern Iraq. Or, if the Syrian Kurds can give Erdogan a bloody nose (without American help) that would be fine with me — I don’t like the guy.

          • D4x

            The Kurds are indigenous to the Tigris & Euphrates watershed in all four nations. There has not been a trilateral water meet between Iraq, Syria, and Turkey since 2011. The KRG border with Syria is the Tigris, the Turks ‘occupy’ the West bank of the Euphrates as it enters Syria. The Afrin River is critical to Syria’s part of the Orontes River watershed, which is another postponed dispute between Syria and Turkey. In other words, this assault is as much about geographically economically crippling Assad’s Syria as Syrian Kurdish autonomy, or more ‘Turkification’, or the imagined ‘YPG=PKKterror’ threat, a very different situation from Iraqi KRG. It is a fast moving situation, and no one supports Turkey, not even NATO.
            A convoy of SDF from the east arrived in Afrin today. https://syria.liveuamap.com/en/2018/5-february-convoy-from-manbij-qamishli-and-hasakah-in-afrin The Assyrian part of the SDF said they were going, and I hope that is who is in the convoy, with the APCs delivered from Iraq the night before. Following this at kurds or syrialiveuamap is more than any news service can cope with (and the comment threads are nasty). The diplomatic front is also in overdrive. UNSC meeting today. TeamRussia v Erdo is on: http://valdaiclub.com/a/highlights/national-dialogue-congress-olive-branch-operation-/ fwiw, Israel is NOT involved. They are focused on SW Syria, not the Kurds.

      • Jonathan Dembo

        Firstly, Turkey is already willing to accept a Kurdish, almost independent mini-state In Iraq. They have been living together quite well for almost three decades now. The Kurds allow the Turks to keep troops in Northern Iraq to protect the Turkomen; and the Turks prevent the Iraqis from invading the Kurdish regions. There is a flourishing trade between between Kurdistan and Turkey Almost all Kurdish oil is exported through Turkey. There is nothing fundamentally different about the idea of a Kurdish mini-state along the Turkish-Syrian frontier.
        Secondly, the area of Syria where the Kurdish forces are posted has been Kurdish for thousands of years. The Kurds are not strangers or interlopers. They have been ruled by outsiders for most of their history but this area is part of their homeland, not some foreign conquest.
        Thirdly, the Kurds are not pushovers. The Turkish army is a shambles, having been gutted by Erdogan’s decade of purges. All the top officers are jailed, exiled, or dead. It is run by political appointees loyal to Erdogan. Turkish soldiers are tough fighters but they are poorly led and poorly trained. On the contrary, the Kurds are well armed, experienced, led by excellent officers;
        they are fighting in their homeland for their national existence, and they are supported by US and Israeli intelligence assets and bases. The Kurds have a good chance of defeating a Turkish invasion and thoroughly embarrassing Erdogan if he presses his attacks. The Turks have already received several severe bloody repulses and have made no significant headway against the Kurds.
        This is not an open and shut case of Erdogan and Turkey wins; Kurds and Americans lose.

  • Attila_the_hun

    Very well written analysis. But the reality is that Turkey and America alliance eventually will come to a head. Erdo or no Erdo Turkey can no longer suppress the aspirations of 20 million Kurds within its borders. Second the current post WWI map is unsustainable. One way or another current ME map will be redrawn along ethnic, religious and geographical boundaries. Just like former Yugoslavia. The difference here is a larger population and many more diverse population. Plus ancient rivalry among Persians, Turks and Arabs. I hope The U.S a longer view beyond Syria. Looking back in a decade or two Syria conflict may look like a walk in the park.

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