sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Twofer Tuesday

You Can't Make This Up

I move in odd circles at times. Out doing what I was doing, the talk of the day revolved around an active shooter situation at YouTube HQ. I wonder if some anti-gun people were killed? There is no word as of this writing. A lady PhD I know who is a bull (as opposed to lipstick) lesbian who shaves her head and swallows the liberal agenda with as much gusto as she swallows pizza had a novel suggestion to the active shooter dilemma. "Everyone should lay down and play dead."  I didn't say a word and moved on with what I needed to say, ignoring the snowflake answer to a serious situation. I would expect that she would have waddled (unable to run) to the nearest safe space, drank a cup of cocoa, picked up a security blanket and sucked her thumb. Her answer dumbfounded me.

Thoughts on Syria, Turkey, US and the Region

There has been interest by this blog's readers in the unfolding situation with respect to the Turks and Kurds in Syria. Here is a brief update.

US Tripwire

On 1 April, the Turkish state-run news agency, Anadolu, reported that 300 US soldiers moved to reinforce Manbij and to block a Turkish operation against it.

General Information

On 30 March, Turkish President Erdogan suggested that French policy is so wrong that France might become a Turkish target. Finally, he called President Macron’s pledge to send special forces to Manbij an “invasion” that violated international law. The last map I saw had Manbij inside of Syria, not Turkey, but never mind. The Turks claim the entire Middle East as being part of the (old) Ottoman Empire.

Russian intervention at Tell Rifaat, backed by Syrian allied forces, plus the US contingent at Manbij, backed by Syrian Kurds, appear to have prevented Turkish forces in Afrin from linking up with Turkish forces farther east. Turkish operations have slowed. The linkup is an important battlefield condition for attacking Manbij.

The various parties blocking expansion of Operation Olive Branch do not appear to be coordinating their moves, but the blocking effect is working. The Turkish accusation that France would be invading Syria suggests Erdogan’s perception is distorted by his obsession with the Kurds.

The deaths of one US and one British soldier from a roadside bomb near Manbij over the weekend help ensure that US and other Coalition soldiers will remain in Manbij a while. Islamic State fighters are believed responsible for the bomb. Their responsibility supports the US justification for keeping soldiers in Syria – to complete the defeat of the Islamic State.

The Saudi Opinion

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman disclosed a major change in Saudi policy towards Syria. Assad and US forces can stay in Syria. Crown Prince Mohammed said that Assad is not likely to be ousted from power. “Bashar is staying,” he said. “But I believe that Bashar’s interests are not to let the Iranians do whatever they want to do.”

“We believe that US forces must stay in Syria for the medium term at least…. The US presence in Syria is the only way to limit Iranian influence in the region.” He also said that having US troops in Syria would allow the US to have a say in Syria’s future. 

His remarks convey a signal to Syrian opposition groups that their fight to overthrow Assad will receive no support from Saudi Arabia. This is a morale breaker for those who fought Assad’s forces since the failed uprising in 2011.

Russia

President Putin’s aide Yuri Ushakov said of an upcoming summit meeting, “Much attention will be given to international affairs and military cooperation, also here is a famous topic -- delivery of the Russian air defense system S-400 to Turkey -- other questions concerning military exchange."

Ushakov confirmed that Russia would accelerate the delivery of the S-400 at the request of Turkey. "Necessary efforts will be made from our side to satisfy the request of the Turkish side," he said. He also affirmed that delivery of Turkish tomatoes to Russia would likely be on the agenda of the bilateral meeting. 

Turkey has not explained the reason it requested accelerated delivery of the S-400 air and missile defense system. Nor has it explained the primary target of that system. 

Ushakov’s statement that Putin will support Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity is dark humor. Neither Turkey nor Iran respects Syrian sovereignty or territorial integrity. Iran and Russia exploited Syria’s dire condition in 2015 to enlarge their military presence and bases, while sending aid. Russia bargained for and got permanent naval and air bases in Syria with generous terms.

Comment

While Russians, Iranians and Turks presume to determine the future of Syria, the US and its allies control about a third of Syria, including the oil producing region. The US has clout and territory, but it loses both if it withdraws.