The Trump administration policy in Syria is finally coming into daylight.
It has decided to permanently separate north-east of Syria from the rest of Syria with the rather comical idea that this will keep Iranian influence out of Syria and give the U.S. a voice in a final Syrian settlement.
This move lacks strategical foresight:
The U.S.-led Coalition against Islamic State is currently training a force to maintain security along the Syrian border as the operation against ISIS shifts focus. The 30,000-strong force will be partly composed of veteran fighters and operate under the leadership of the Syrian Democratic Forces, CJTF-OIR told The Defense Post.
“The Coalition is working jointly with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to establish and train the new Syrian Border Security Force (BSF). Currently, there are approximately 230 individuals training in the BSF’s inaugural class, with the goal of a final force size of approximately 30,000,” CJTF-OIR Public Affairs Officer Colonel Thomas F. Veale said.
Veale acknowledged that more Kurds will serve in the areas of northern Syria, while more Arabs will serve in areas along the Euphrates River Valley and along the border with Iraq.
The SDF and the Kurds are under control of the PKK/YPK, a terrorist organization that is nearly daily fighting and killing Turkish forces within Turkey. The Arabs which ostensibly shall seal the area off from the rest of Syria are most likely tribal forces that were earlier aligned with the Islamic State.
The Turks were not consulted before the U.S. move and are of course not amused that a “terrorist gang”, trained and armed by the U.S., will control a long stretch of their southern border. Any Turkish government would have to take harsh measures to prevent such a strategic threat to the country:
Such initiatives endangering our national security and Syria’s territorial integrity through the continuation of cooperation with PYD/YPG in contradiction with the commitments and statements made by the US are unacceptable. We condemn the insistence on this flawed approach and remind once again that Turkey is determined and capable to eliminate any threats targeting its territory.
Russia noted that such a U.S. occupation has no legal basis:
The Russian foreign minister stressed decisions of the kind were taken without any grounds, coming from a UN Security Council resolution, or from some agreements reached during the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva.
Syria warned that any Syrian taking part in this move will be in trouble:
The Ministry considered any Syrian citizen who takes part in the US-backed militia as a traitor to the Syrian state and people and will be treated as one, adding that these militias will hinder reaching to a political solution to the situation in Syria.
The U.S.Congress is concerned about this move:
Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, David Satterfield, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, outlined US goals in Syria as finishing off IS, stabilizing northeastern Syria and countering Iranian influence.
“That won’t pass muster,” committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., interjected.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who initially asked Satterfield the question he declined to answer, expressed concerns that eliminating Iranian influence from Syria entirely was a fool’s errandthat could keep US troops tied up in Syria forever.
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., the top Democrat on the committee, also voiced concern that the Trump administration does not have the necessary legal authorization from Congress to keep US troops in Syria beyond the defeat of IS.
Just two month back, in a phone call with the Russian President Putin, the President Trump seemed to be against such a move:
The Presidents affirmed their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, unity, independence, territorial integrity, and non-sectarian character, as defined in UNSCR 2254, …
The U.S. move comes at the right time for Syria. The Russian, Turkish, Iranian and Syrian agreement of Astana set up a de-escalation zone in Idleb governorate but committed the parties to continue the fight against al-Qaeda. The agreement was in imminent danger of breaking down as Turkey protested against the current Syrian operation against al-Qaeda in east-Idleb. Turkey cooperates with al-Qaeda to keep its options open for a take-over of some Syrian land. It is also concerned about the north-western Kurdish enclave of Afrin which is protected by Russian forces.
But the U.S.move in the east constitutes a greater threat to Turkey than tiny Afrin. The east is more important to Turkey than Idelb in the west. The whole eastern half of Turkey is now endangered by a Kurdish force at its underbelly. The U.S. move increases Turkey’s incentive to keep the Astana agreement about Idleb intact and to re-unite with Syria, Russia and Iran against the U.S.-Kurdish alliance. Erdogan, with his usual rage, was clear that he can not and will not let the U.S. move stand:
“A country we call an ally is insisting on forming a terror army on our borders,” Erdogan said of the United States in a speech in Ankara. “What can that terror army target but Turkey?”
“Our mission is to strangle it before it’s even born.”
Joshua Landis believes that the U.S. has given up on Turkey as an ally and is solely committed to do Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s bidding. It is completely concentrated on countering Iran. But there are few if any Iranian troops in Syria and the supply line from Tehran to Damascus is via air and sea and can not be influenced from an enclosed Kurdish enclave. Moreover, the U.S. presence in the north-east is not sustainable.
The north-eastern U.S. held area of Syria is surrounded by forces hostile to it. Turkey in the north, Syria in the west and south, Iraq, with a pro-Iranian government, in the east. It has no ports and all its air-supplies have to cross hostile air space.
Internally the area consists of a Kurdish core but has nearly as many Arab inhabitants as Kurds. The Kurds are not united, there are many who are against the PKK/YPG and support the Syrian government. Probably half of the Arabs in the area were earlier Islamic State fighters and the other half favors the rule by Damascus. What all Arabs there have in common is hatred for their new Kurdish overlords. This all is fertile ground for an insurgency against the U.S. occupation and its Kurdish YPG proxy forces. It will need only little inducement and support from Damascus, Ankara or elsewhere to draw the U.S. presence into a chaotic fight for survival.
Turkey’s wannabe Sultan Erdogan has long tried to play Russia against the U.S. and vice versa. He ordered Russian air defense systems which will enable him to withstand a U.S. air attack. At the same time he allowed U.S. ships to pass the Bosporus Straits into the Black Sea and to threaten Russia in Crimea even when the Montreux Convention would have allowed him to restrict their passages. The U.S. now leaves him no choice. Russia is the one force that can help him to handle the new threat.
The NATO bigwigs in Brussels must be nervous. Turkey has the second biggest army within NATO. It controls the passage to the Black Sea and with Incirlik the most important NATO airbase in the south-eastern realm. All these give Turkey leverage that it can use when Russia offers it a decent alternative to NATO membership.
One wonders who in the White House developed this idea. It goes against everything Trump had said about U.S. engagement in the Middle East. It goes against NATO’s interests. There is no legal basis for the move. It has little chance of being sustainable.
My guess is that National Security Advisor McMaster (pushed by his mentor General Petraeus) is the brain behind this. He has already proven to lack any strategic vision beyond moving military brigades here and there. What will he do next? Order the CIA to restart arming al-Qaeda aka the “Syrian rebels”who just sent their emissaries to Washington to beg for renewed support? Turkey needs Russia and Russia is fighting those “Syrian rebels”. Why should Turkey, which controls the border to Syria, allow new CIA weapons to pass?
It is beyond me how the U.S. expects to sustain its positions in the north-east of Syria. It is hard to understand why it believes that such a position will give it any influence over Iran’s commitment to Syria. The move robs it of any political flexibility. It is a trap of its own design.
In the end the U.S. military will have to retreat from the area. The Kurds will have to crawl to Damascus to beg for forgiveness. The strategic shortsightedness of both, the U.S. administration and the YPG leadership, amazes me. What do these people think when they make such decisions?
This article was originally published by Moon Of Alabama –
By Moon Of Alabama
January 16, 2018 “Information Clearing House” –
Map of US plan in link below.
Turkish President Calls On NATO To Take Stand Against U.S.
January 16, 2018 “Information Clearing House” – Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged NATO to take a stand against the United States over its plans to form a Kurdish-led border security force in Syria.
Addressing his ruling party’s deputies, the Turkish president protested over the proposed formation of the 30,000 strong Kurdish-led border force.
Ankara believes Syrian Kurdish militias to be terrorists and has previously threatened to launch a military offensive against the groups.
Mr Erdogan questioned NATO’s stance on the issues saying:
“Hey NATO! You are obliged to make a stance against those who harass and violate the borders of your members.”
Tuesday comments follow Mr Erdogan’s accusation that the United States is creating an “army of terror” in Syria along the border with Turkey. He then vowed to crush the force.
Turkey’s military chief is set to discuss the issue further in Brussels.
This article was originally published by Forces –
TAP – Erdogan tried to use ISIS to further his own interests, but found the US/CIA a poor ally. He is now back peddling. The Pentagon needs wars, any wars, to keep itself from falling into irrelevance. It might run out of willing partners as its reputation for competence collapses.
We Amerikans have become like those serfs on the feudal manors
Many thanks to Bob Dylan’s great song of the same name. What rankles me is how so many of my friends, neighbors and acquaintances seem to accept how far down the rabbit hole our Amerikan society has fallen. We live under the broken umbrella of an empire that cares not to protect the overwhelming majority of us. We live under the auspices of a regimethat spends half or our hard earned tax dollars on phony wars, illegal foreign occupations and excessive militarism at home. Yet, most of the lemmings I cohabit with are only concerned about tripe news on sexual scandals and other base events that have nothing to do with their health or financial well being. For every person who can profit from this insane stock market run up, there are a thousand times more folks who are lucky to afford the bare necessities of life. Many of us, even we who earn more than the median income level, still walk around with missing teeth, knees and necks in need of operative repair and so on.
We Amerikans have become like those serfs on the feudal manors, working hard and still bowing and scraping when the lord of the manor passes. Why should the boss worry in most businesses, when but less than 10% of private sector workers are in a union? There are fewer and fewer protections for working stiffs in Amerika, and the empire knows it. When we who know better shout as loud as we can that the Fat Cat CEOs earn upwards of 300 times that of their workers, some serfs answer ” Well, they worked hard for their success, and they deserve it! ” Really? Well, in 1960 the top federal tax rate was at 90%, and the Fat Cats still did very well ( of course no one paid 90%- they all had accountants and plenty of write offs ). In 1985 that top rate was at 50%… now it is at less than 39%, and sinking lower as I write. So, do the math: A Fat Cat CEO who earns 300 times of his or her worker is most likely keeping double or triple what his counterparts of 32 or 57 years ago kept. Where is the disgust from most of my fellow working stiffs?
To keep one soldier in Afghanistan costs the same as hiring 25 new fireman, policeman or school teachers, each at a $ 40k a year salary. Hellfire Missiles ($ 70,000 each) shot from a Reaper Drone ($28 million dollars) many times not only kill innocents via Collateral damage, but that spending redirected can help keep our neighborhood libraries open longer and filled with tons of new books! The real crime is in the fact that our empire has NO business being in those countries… period! Monday, January 15th was Reverend King’s birthday, and this coming April will be the 50th anniversary of his assassination, for that matter. A year before he was murdered, Reverend King gave one of his most memorable speeches at the Riverside Church in N. Y . C. For the first time he publically denounced our empire’s involvement in Indochina:
This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love…. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
Amerika is truly running out of band-aids!
Philip A Farruggio
Philip A Farruggio is a son and grandson of Brooklyn , NYC longshoremen. He has been a freelance columnist since 2001, he writes a great deal on the need to cut military spending drastically and send the savings back to save our cities. Philip has a internet interview show, ‘ It’s the Empire… Stupid’ with producer Chuck Gregory, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was originally published by Information Clearing House –