Turkey, Syria, Kurds and Trump threats

The complicated political situation in Syrian is far from over, with Turkey wanting to keep Syrian Kurds away from their border, Trump allowing them to make a move into Syria but warning them not to go too far.

Reuters – U.S. expects Turkey to take over IS fighters if Kurdish militia forced to withdraw: official

The United States expects Turkey to take responsibility of captive Islamic State fighters, a senior State Department official said on Monday, if Ankara’s planned incursion into northeast Syria seizes areas where the detained militants are held.

The official said as of now, U.S. allied Kurdish militia was still going to be in control of the detention facilities. “If they (Turks) come into an area with obvious prisons and the SDF withdraws from those security positions around those prisons, we expect the Turks to take them over,” he said in a briefing.

That sounds a bit vague, and is a mixed signal given a threat from Trump.

Fox News; Trump pulls back troops from northern Syria ahead of Turkish assault, Pentagon officials ‘blindsided’

The White House announced late Sunday that Turkey will soon move forward with a planned military operation in northeast Syria, as U.S. troops who have been deployed and operating with Kurdish-led forces in the area began pulling back from their positions.

The decision sent shockwaves through the region and Washington, with U.S. officials telling Fox News that top Pentagon officials were “completely blindsided” and “shocked” by the order to pull back hundreds of U.S. troops, a move that effectively green-lights the Turkey operation. President Trump spoke with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by telephone.

Some officials see the move as a betrayal of the Kurds, whom the U.S. supported against ISIS for years.

Speaking on “Fox & Friends” Monday morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called it an “impulsive decision” by Trump that would undo U.S. gains in the region and give ISIS fighters a “second lease on life.”

Reuters: Trump threatens to ‘obliterate’ Turkish economy over Syria incursion plan

President Donald Trump on Monday launched a harsh attack on NATO ally Turkey, threatening to destroy its economy if Ankara takes a planned military strike in Syria too far even though the U.S. leader himself has opened the door for a Turkish incursion.

Turkey has repeatedly threatened to carry out an incursion against U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria who have links to Kurdish guerrillas operating next door in Turkey.

The United States began pulling troops back from the northeast Syrian border on Monday, effectively giving Turkey a green light to move into the area.

But:

Trump said he would “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy if it took action in Syria that he considered “off-limits” following his decision on Sunday to pull out U.S. forces from northeastern Syria.

Trump’s stern words seemed to be an attempt to placate critics, even from within his own Republican Party, who complain he was abandoning the Syrian Kurds by pulling out U.S. forces.

Trump tweeted:

This doesn’t seem too be a great or wise approach by the vain Trump. Under pressure with a possible impeachment hovering over him in Washington, Trump has been increasingly agitated and shrill, even by his standards.

He sounds to me like an increasingly unhinged megalomaniac, with emphasis on the maniac (or at least manic).

That was before Trump’s threat tweet.

Fox News: Turkey’s Syria incursion may allow ISIS to attempt mass prison break amid US withdrawal, Kurdish fighters warn

ISIS fighters and other terrorists comprising the more than 10,000 Islamic militants jailed in northeast Syria could launch a mass prison break as U.S. troops withdraw from the region in response to Turkey’s impending incursion, Syrian Kurdish fighters warned Monday.

Reuters Explainer: Turkey set to redraw map of Syrian war once more

A looming Turkish incursion into northern Syria is set to reshape the map of the Syrian conflict once again, dealing a blow to Kurdish-led forces that have battled Islamic State while widening Turkey’s territorial control at the border.

This would be Turkey’s third such incursion since 2016. Motivated largely by the aim of containing Syrian Kurdish power, Turkey already has troops on the ground across an arc of northwestern Syria, the last stronghold of anti-Damascus rebels.

Turkey has two main goals in northeast Syria: to drive the Kurdish YPG militia which it deems a security threat away from its border, and to create a space inside Syria where 2 million Syria refugees currently hosted in Turkey can be settled.

It had been pushing the United States to jointly establish a “safe zone” extending 20 miles (32 km) into Syrian territory, but repeatedly warned it could take unilateral military action after accusing Washington of dragging its feet.

President Tayyip Erdogan has recently talked about pushing even deeper into Syria, beyond the proposed “safe zone” region to the cities of Raqqa and Deir al-Zor, in order to allow still more refugees to return to Syria.

HOW WILL THE KURDS BE AFFECTED?

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have spent years expanding its control across northern and eastern Syria, helped by the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State.

A rare case of a winner in the Syrian war, the Kurds and their allies have set up their own governing bodies while always insisting their aim is autonomy, not independence.

All of this could unravel in the event of a major Turkish invasion that would plunge the area into warfare. The SDF-affiliated Syrian Democratic Council said an attack would trigger a new wave of mass displacement.

DO RUSSIA AND IRAN BACK TURKEY’S MOVE?

Russia and Iran, the other two major foreign powers in Syria, strongly support President Bashar al-Assad – unlike Turkey and the United States which both called for him to stand down and supported rebels fighting to overthrow him.

Russia has said that Turkey has the right to defend itself, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that Syria’s territorial integrity must be preserved and that all foreign military forces “with illegal presence” should leave Syria.

So the situation remains quite complex, and not helped with the apparent impetuousness and unpredictability of Trump .

 

 

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50 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  8th October 2019

    Trump stirring up a distraction from the impeachment shemozxle, which has sent his egomaniacal brain to brain fart overdrive – & with his usual total ignorance of the realities of a complex Mid-East regional situation on display.

    At least the Kurds & everyone else can see, Trump has no friends, only people he can make use of & discard.

    Erdogan has two main objectives, I think.
    1. Get rid of the YPG/PKK threat to his unified state
    2. Create a big enuf safe zone to finally send all their Syrian refugees home. They’re a drain on the Turkish economy & society, even with the European countries paying him heaps of moolah to keep them there & out of their countries, & they’re a a potential terrorist threat.

    Reply
  2. Gezza

     /  8th October 2019

    And while we’re talking about that region, the dangerous & disastrous legacy of the 2003 US illegal invasion of Iraq continues, with nationwide protests against the corruption, sectarianism, & general utter uselessness of the current Iraqi government in getting the economy going, jobs for people, long-destroyed infrastructure & devastated cities rebuilt, & now multiple fatalities caused by the Security Forces opening fire on protestors with live ammunition – then (not credibly, too many witnesses) denying it.

    The country is full of armed militia, many loyal Iran, which is no doubt looking at how to exploit the dituation to Iranian advsntage & Trump’s US’s disadvantage.

    Moves by their PM to mollify the protestors with promises of jobs & money for the poor are no longer enuf.

    This situation in both Syria & Iraq are tailor made for IS to exploit as well. Commentary on Aljazeera this morning is that IS is still well-organised & far from wiped out.

    Reply
  3. lurcher1948

     /  8th October 2019

    Trump, a piece of rubbish you cannot trust…ScoMo remember this, before he gives australia to the Chinese

    Reply
  4. It seems that President Trump may have “gone rogue” on his National Security Advisors.

    https://www.politico.com/news/2019/10/07/trump-syria-turkey-national-security-leaders-037958

    He has been out-negotiated by Erdogan and has only endorsed the troop withdrawal to make it look like he’s getting something. But he’s not getting anything. In fact he has destablilised the region further by trampling all over the safe zone border security system that his own administration has been working towards, and by endangering the lives of the US-backed Syrian Kurds who were fighting ISIS for him.

    Seems to me that President Trump’s “great and unmatched wisdom” is really benefitting the Putin and Assad regimes.

    Reply
  5. “great and unmatched wisdom” I wonder how many American bumpkins out there are saying “I like the way he always tells it as it is”.

    Reply
    • President Trump has screwed over a loyal ally that has done exactly what the US asked of them.

      Meanwhile Lindsay Graham has dialled his defcon status all the way up to “unnerving” and does nothing but continue to enable Trump

      What concerns me – apart from the instability and potentially tragic outcome that this will cause in the ME – is how easily Trump folded to Erdogan, and how rapidly US foreign policy changed during a single phone call. This is, after all, the ‘nominal’ head of the free world, and the guy with his finger on the nuclear trigger. He seems completely out of control.

      Reply
      • Pink David

         /  8th October 2019

        “President Trump has screwed over a loyal ally that has done exactly what the US asked of them.”

        How have they been screwed? Was the US expected to be there forever?

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  8th October 2019

          Being Trump …he’s said the US would leave totally and weren’t leaving totally and now they are leaving again to leave the area open for Turkey , but a day later Turkey will be so sorry if they take advantage of US leaving.
          Typical Trump…all over the place as he listens Tweets what the last person he spoke to said.

          Reply
  6. This is possibly a red herring but doesn’t the Trump Organisation have a residential/commercial Trump Tower in Istanbul?

    There’s a potential tragedy in the making, and it may be due to Trump wanting to protect his licensing fees and personal profits from Turkey.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  8th October 2019

      Trump Towers Istanbul, is just a branding. The buildings were developed by a local developer, who pays Trump to use his name. It doesnt make any difference what the political situation is.

      Reply
      • Patzcuaro

         /  8th October 2019

        Is the value of the “Trump” brand going up or down?

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  8th October 2019

          I imagine it’s still very high with gun nuts & the intellectually & morally sub par.

          Reply
          • Pink David

             /  8th October 2019

            Gezza, the correct term is ‘deplorables’.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  8th October 2019

              Cheers David. Been hsving some nasty cluster migraines lately & they leave you feeling washed out & make you forget things at times.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  8th October 2019

              Deplorables has been flogged to death as an expression. I prefer something original.

  7. Pink David

     /  8th October 2019

    Ursula von der Leyen has announced the EU Army will be filling the void left by the US. Everyone can breath a sigh of relief at that.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  8th October 2019

      😠 Drat. Hit by the Random WordPress Wilkinson Effect. Reply went below.

      Reply
    • Duker

       /  8th October 2019

      EU is more concerned a refugees staying in Syria, anyway they don’t have UN authorisation to invade…..remember the little problem of Russia and Crimea and eastern Ukraine…it’s supposed to be bad when the Russians do it

      Reply
  8. Gezza

     /  8th October 2019

    Probably on the list for special thanks to Allah by Al Qaeda/Al Nusra Front & IS devotees at Friday Prayers.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  8th October 2019

      @David

      And that’s likely to further complicate matters. European NATO member countries vs Turkey, a non-European prediminantly Muslim NATO member country, which Erdogan is trying to position as a dominant Middle Eastern power – seeing the EU is showing no signs of wanting to rush to embrace him into the European fold.

      And Germany’s sinking under the weight of now a couple of decades of inflows of Turkish guest workers doing the hefting & bottom-end jobs the heinies don’t want to. Erdogan got himself into the diplomatic grotney pudding blatantly electioneering & pitching strongly to them while visiting Germany during the last Presidential election.

      So if the Germans & Turkey get into any argy bargy over Erdogan’s clearly wanting to clear out a chunk of lebensraum in Northern Syria to send his Syrian refugees to, that could get really tense in the Fatherland.

      Reply
      • Pink David

         /  8th October 2019

        Trump is quite right to withdraw these 25 soldiers then. If the EU’s not up to it, why should the US be there?

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  8th October 2019

          Because the Kurds took out ISIS for the yanks when they asked them to, seeing the US weren’t going to take any casualties themselves, even though the yanks were responsible for creating ISIS in the first place. (And responsible for the destruction of Iraq – which they actually ought to be paying, in full, to rebuild.

          The nominal number of US truppen on the deck in Northern Syria has served to prevent Erdogan attacking the SDF because of the risk of a firefight with the US troops patrolling the lines & subsequent escalation. Those US truppen I’m sure have established good relations with the Kurds. Bet they’re pissed off at abandoning them like that.

          It’s a safe bet the previous US admiistration gave the Kurds to understand that in return for sacrificing 11,000 men & women to clear IS out of their allotted area, the US would look after their interests & ensure them their expected seat at the table when the powers in control get around to settling the final territorial spoils & governance arrangements.

          Then an absolute turd of a man became the US Military Blunderer in Chief & world’s current biggest calamity. Poor blighters have had no show ever since of having their interests looked after.

          Reply
          • Pink David

             /  8th October 2019

            “It’s a safe bet the previous US admiistration gave the Kurds to understand that in return for sacrificing 11,000 men & women to clear IS out of their allotted area, the US would look after their interests & ensure them their expected seat at the table when the powers in control get around to settling the final territorial spoils & governance arrangements.”

            You do realise this would commit the US to a major presence in the region forever don’t you?

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  8th October 2019

              You do realise how small a number of their truppen are actually, there & yet how effective that has been at preventing Erdogan attacking the Kurds, don’t you?

              At little real cost,especially in comparison to the mega billions of costs of the destruction they are directly & indirectly responsible for in that region, & the astronomical amounts they spent on their bloated military anyway – this is peanuts.

              Ultimately they & other Western powers should pack up & piss off out the ME, but Trump won’t, cos Ivanka > Jared > Bibi. And cos of all the associated machinations that are constantly going on with the Saudis & the Emiratis & the Iranians.

  9. Kitty Catkin

     /  8th October 2019

    Is Syria where NZ’s own dear Bumbling Jihadi is ?

    Reply
  10. Gezza

     /  9th October 2019

    Aljazeera confirms movement of heavy weapons & Turkish troops along the border with Syria, and some detailed background on the players, dangers, & Trump’s usual ignorance.

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/10/turkey-military-preparations-syria-incursion-complete-191008082547251.html

    Reply
  11. Republican allies blast Trump’s decision to hand northern Syria over to Turkey

    – President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria ahead of a long-planned Turkish military operation is being blasted by lawmakers in Washington, including Republicans better known for being loyal allies of the president.

    – Sens. Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell and Marco Rubio, and former Govs. Nikki Haley and Mike Huckabee are among those expressing outrage over the president’s decision.

    In a rare attack on Trump’s policies, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called the move “impulsive” and “a disaster in the making.”

    “I hope I’m making myself clear how shortsighted and irresponsible this decision is in my view,” Graham, a close confidant of Trump’s, told Fox News on Monday morning. “This is a big win for Iran and Assad. A big win for ISIS.”

    Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., broke with Trump over the foreign policy shift.

    “A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime. And it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup,” McConnell said in a statement Monday afternoon.

    “I urge the President to exercise American leadership to keep together our multinational coalition to defeat ISIS and prevent significant conflict between our NATO ally Turkey and our local Syrian counterterrorism partners,” McConnell said.

    Graham also wrote a lengthy thread on Twitter, writing, “By abandoning the Kurds we have sent the most dangerous signal possible – America is an unreliable ally and it’s just a matter of time before China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea act out in dangerous ways.”

    He added that the decision “makes it difficult for the U.S. to recruit allies against radical Islam.”

    “I feel very bad for the Americans and allies who have sacrificed to destroy the ISIS Caliphate because this decision virtually reassures the reemergence of ISIS. So sad. So dangerous.”

    Graham pledged to introduce a Senate resolution opposing and asking for a reversal of this decision if the plan moves forward.

    Graham’s message was echoed by Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who similarly stressed the risks of abandoning local U.S. allies and ceding influence to Iran, who has long had forces in Syria supporting its dictator Bashar Assad.

    Rubio called the Trump administration’s decision “a grave mistake that will have implications far beyond Syria,” adding, “It would confirm Iran’s view of this administration & embolden then to escalate hostile attacks which in turn could trigger much broader & more dangerous regional war.”

    Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, wrote on Twitter: “Withdrawing US forces from Northern Syria is a catastrophic mistake that puts our gains against ISIS at risk and threatens US security.”

    Nikki Haley, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. under Trump, tweeted on Monday: “We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back. The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake.”

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/07/republican-allies-blast-trumps-decision-to-hand-syria-to-turkey.html

    Reply
  12. Top Military Officers Unload on Trump

    “The commander in chief is impulsive, disdains expertise, and gets his intelligence briefings from Fox News.”

    To get a sense of what serving Trump has been like, I interviewed officers up and down the ranks, as well as several present and former civilian Pentagon employees. Among the officers I spoke with were four of the highest ranks—three or four stars—all recently retired. All but one served Trump directly; the other left the service shortly before Trump was inaugurated.

    Such rudderless captaincy creates the headlines Trump craves. He revels when his tweets take off. (“Boom!” he says. “Like a rocket!”) Out in the field, where combat is more than wordplay, his tweets have consequences. He is not a president who thinks through consequences—and this, the generals stressed, is not the way serious nations behave.

    I. HE DISDAINS EXPERTISE

    Trump has little interest in the details of policy. He makes up his mind about a thing, and those who disagree with him—even those with manifestly more knowledge and experience—are stupid, or slow, or crazy.

    As a personal quality, this can be trying; in a president, it is dangerous. Trump rejects the careful process of decision making that has long guided commanders in chief.

    II. HE TRUSTS ONLY HIS OWN INSTINCTS

    Trump believes that his gut feelings about things are excellent, if not genius. Those around him encourage that belief, or they are fired. Winning the White House against all odds may have made it unshakable.

    Decisiveness is good, the generals agreed. But making decisions without considering facts is not.

    III. HE RESISTS COHERENT STRATEGY

    If there is any broad logic to Trump’s behavior, it’s Keep ’em confused. He believes that unpredictability itself is a virtue.

    Keeping an enemy off-balance can be a good thing, the generals agreed, so long as you are not off-balance yourself.

    IV. “HE IS REFLEXIVELY CONTRARY”

    General H. R. McMaster, who left the White House on reasonably good terms in April 2018 after only 14 months as national security adviser, is about as can-do a professional as you will find. He appeared to take Trump seriously, and tailored his briefings to accommodate the president’s famous impatience, in order to equip him for the weighty decisions the office demands. But Trump resents advice and instruction. He likes to be agreed with. Efforts to broaden his understanding irritate him.

    V. HE HAS A SIMPLISTIC AND ANTIQUATED NOTION OF SOLDIERING

    Though he disdains expert advice, Trump reveres—perhaps fetishizes—the military.

    The problems posed by Trump’s skewed understanding of the military extend beyond bad decision making to the very culture of our armed forces: He apparently doesn’t think American soldiers accused of war crimes should be prosecuted and punished.

    Having never served or been near a battlefield, several of the generals said, Trump exhibits a simplistic, badly outdated notion of soldiers as supremely “tough”—hard men asked to perform hard and sometimes ugly jobs. He also buys into a severely outdated concept of leadership.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/11/military-officers-trump/598360/

    Reply
    • Pink David

       /  9th October 2019

      “He is not a president who thinks through consequences—and this, the generals stressed, is not the way serious nations behave.”

      Without a about, the funniest thing written by a ‘General’ for quite some time.

      “Having never served or been near a battlefield, several of the generals said, Trump exhibits a simplistic, badly outdated notion of soldiers as supremely “tough”—hard men asked to perform hard and sometimes ugly jobs. He also buys into a severely outdated concept of leadership.”

      When you are committed to turning your army into a social experiment in gender equality, you can’t afford for people to believe your troops are tough.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  9th October 2019

        I see, as usual when it comes to Trump, the relevant matters have gone right over your head as you choose, your idol Trump-like, to introduce & focus on a snide irrelevancy.

        Your slavish devotion to the moron is an embarrassment to read, Pinky.

        Reply
        • Pink David

           /  10th October 2019

          I’m just one of the deplorable’s Gezza. I think those 5 characteristics they have listed are good.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  10th October 2019

            When you look at them in their proper context, as the US Military’s Commander-in-Chief, & as features of Trump’s extreme narcissism, they are clearly not.

            Because you find just about every deplorable quality of Trump either of no concern, or actually worthy of your almost swooning admiration, I have concluded you are quite likely barracking for a kindred spirit, because you are actually very similar in personality.

            I think, among Trump’s supporters, there is perhaps something of a mixture of types backing or supporting him, at least initially maybe, for a variety of reasons – some good (that is, they hoped some good things would happen & that he would become more Presidential with behaviours more worthy of the office), some bad, some just because he’s the Republican candidate & they’ll never vote Democrat.

            Only those who back & admire him for bad reasons are The Deplorables, imo. But yes, I think you are very much one of them. 👍🏼

            Reply
  13. Patzcuaro

     /  10th October 2019

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  10th October 2019

      Yes, they launched air & artillery strikes last night. There was coverage of aircraft & bombing smoke on Aljazeera tv.

      The Kurds & other NATO allies are disgusted with Trump. The Kurds were the US’s most loyal & most effective allies in the fight against IS, which they of course (not Trump, not the US as the pathological liar keeps claiming) defeated on the ground, with some US sir strike assistance & a few sophisticated but low-grade US weapons such as anti-tank missiles.

      11,000 of their fighters, men & women, were killed. How many yanks died? Fark all.

      They also, foolishly now, they realise, pulled back from their forward positions, as requested by US commanders, who had persuaded Trump to let them do joint patrols with Turkish troops – preventing the Turks from attacking the Kurds, as they have been threstening to do for months.

      So, having given up of their defence-in-depth to the Americans, the US troops have now gone & surrendered those to the Turks. Trump has betrayed them. There’s no other word for it & he is widely seen – even by some Republican congresspersons & Trump supporters – as having done so.

      Although that probably should come as no surprise. He has loyalty to no one & shown himself willing to shit on even ardent acolytes, should he see some personal advantage to doing so. He’s in trouble at home, he knows it – he & Pompeo are going full retard. He needed a distraction.

      Sergey Lavrov has given a press conference somewhere (I think he might be in Iraq?) & advised that Russia was not consulted by the US before they turned tail & ran. There was commentary this morning on Aljazeera that the Russians are possibly somewhat pleased to see the Kurds getting some punishment. They have been decades-long allies of the USSR & the Russian establishment was very annoyed when they suddenly shifted alliance to the Americans.

      Lavrov is now saying (of course) that there can be no military solution to the conflict(s) in Syria & has suggested the Kurds should enter into negotiations with Assad’s Syrian regime & its allies, them, & the Iranians. They are reported to be considering it.

      Russia is the main beneficiary of Trump’s disloyalty & incoherence. Russia has good relations with Turkey & Iran & effectively now controls Assad.

      EU / NATO countries are calling for an immediate Security Council meeting, fearful of the risk to the Kurds & the expected resurgence of IS. It has become clear that – unbeknown (naturally) to the US’s intellectually lazy-arsed Doofus-in-Chief the Turks have no plan for what to do about the thousands of IS fighters & their committed family members the Kurds have been holding as prisoners & in closely-supervised refugee camps & pleading for assistance with because of the threat they still represent.

      Reply
  1. Turkey, Syria, Kurds and Trump threats — Your NZ – Truth Troubles

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