How far will Russia go to help Syria liberate Idlib? From Patrick Lawrence at consortiumnews.com:
Turkey’s leader, who nurses dreams of some kind of neo–Ottoman restoration across the Middle East, is now on a reckless tear.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a press conference in Turkey, Dec. 1, 2014. (Russian government)
As Recip Tayyip Erdogan prosecutes his latest military intrusion southward into Syria, all the old mythologies about the Turkish president and the 9-year-old Syrian conflict are rehearsed once again, hopelessly threadbare as they are. The problem now is not the fog of war. The problem is the war of fog.
Let us be clear from the start, then, as to what has unfolded since last week and what will be the desired outcome. The Syrian Arab Army, a force for good, must not stop short of decisive victory in Idlib, the governorate in northwest Syria sheltering the last jihadist militias operating on Syrian soil. Russia, which is correctly (and legally) supporting the S.A.A.’s campaign, should try to avoid a direct conflict with a NATO member but should engage Turkish forces if there is no alternative.
NATO, breaking its own Article 5 covenant, will not come to the aid of a member nation engaged in so despicable an assault on another sovereign nation. I am not alone in holding this opinion. Don’t forget: Most NATO members are squeamish, mealy-mouthed Europeans who have given up the ghost in Syria.
The best bet is that Idlib ends up being deluded Erdogan’s Rubicon. Putin doesn’t have too many follies to his credit. From Tom Luongo at tomlungo.me:
It’s been a dramatic few days in Syria. The Syrian Army pushed across Idlib Province to retake major strongholds of Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists who have controlled the region for years thanks to support from Turkey.
This provoked a major escalation from Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Major offensives by the jihadists, backed by Turkish armor and air power, pushed back the Syrian army from the outskirts of Idlib city and took back the town of Saraqib at the confluence of the M4 and M5 highways which are of major strategic importance.
That counterattack occurred while the Syrian Army had moved south to claim vast territory northeast of the Russian air base at Latakia.
Erdogan has been threatening for weeks for the Syrian army to halt its advance or face the brunt of the Turkish Army. He made good on those threats, but only after taking advantage of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s temperance.
The US can’t allow its terrorist proxies in Syria to be defeated or it will lose its all important “presence” in that nation. From Finian Cunningham at strategic-culture.org:
NATO member Turkey was recently caught out providing artillery support for terror groups in Syria’s Idlib province; now leader of the NATO alliance, the United States, is hinting at Russia and Syria holding dialogue with the terrorists to curb the upsurge in conflict.
As Syria’s endgame closes, the protagonists and their proxies are coming more clearly into focus. NATO’s covert shadowy connection with the jihadist insurgents it has sponsored for regime change is being flushed out as the Syrian army and its Russian ally home in on the last stand of the terror groups.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov this week ruled out any mediation with Tahrir Hayat al Sham (HTS), the main terrorist network holding out in Idlib in northwest Syria. Lavrov was referring to comments made earlier by US envoy James Jeffrey who suggested that HTS was “not a terrorist organization any more” and therefore might be included in negotiations for de-escalation.
Turkey is playing a weak hand in Syria and it’s up to Vladimir Putin to see that Erdogan quietly folds. From Pepe Escobar at asiatimes.com:
Idlib is Erdogan’s last stand, but the fighting goes way beyond Syria – it’s shaping as another NATO-Russia proxy war
That pesky “Assad regime” simply won’t go away. The new Western narrative on Syria is that the regime is about to “massacre” over 900,000 people fleeing the not really de-escalated zones across the countryside in Idlib and Aleppo provinces.
Context, as always, is absent. The fleeing masses – essentially conservative Sunnis – had been living in these areas under the yoke of myriad incarnations of al-Qaeda in Syria. Either they supported them, did their best to basically survive, or now know for sure the offensive by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is for real, and all jihadi holes, protected or not by human shields, will be bombed.
The most relevant story, once again, is what Sultan Erdogan wants. Ankara and Moscow – partners in the Astana Process that theoretically would pave the way for peace in Syria – are at a crossroads. There were lengthy talks earlier this week, and a crucial phone call between Erdogan and Putin on Friday night. The stalemate prevails – they appear to have only agreed to “intensify contacts”.
The official US-Great Britain narrative of Syria makes so little sense it could only have been written by intelligence agents. From Moon of Alabama at moonofalabma.org:
Russia has called Turkey’s bluff of a wide ranging attack on Syrian government forces. The Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan will now have to find a way out of the Idleb trap he set himself in. His excellent Syria adventure is coming to an end.
Meanwhile we learn that the British military intelligence ran another large dis-information campaign that brought ‘Syrian voices’ into the ‘western’ press.
#ERDOGAN: “#Turkey cannot be confined within the 780,000 km2 border. #Misrata, #Aleppo, #Homs & #Hasaka are outside our actual borders, but they are within our emotional & physical limits, we will confront those who limit our history to only 90yrs.”
The Turkish talks with Russia have not gone well. Russia had proposed the following points:
1- 16-km border strip in Idlib under Turkey control
2- Russia controls crossing between Idlib strip and Afrin
3- M4 and M5 opened under joint Russian-Turkish supervision
4- Retreat of observation points to border strip
Some ten of Turkey’s observation points are currently surrounded by the Syrian army. If Turkey starts to escalate they will be in a dire situation.
The Syrian government is moving against the largest remaining jihadist stronghold. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
The Syrian Army unleashed a major assault across the southeastern part of Idlib province on Saturday, a military source told Middle East news site Al-Masdar in a breaking report. According to the source, government forces pounded jihadist defenses across the southeast Idlib axis with a plethora of artillery shells and surface-to-surface missiles.
This latest exchange between the Syrian military and jihadist rebels comes as the Sochi Agreement falls apart in northwestern Syria, and in response to a Friday attack by jihadists which killed 22 Syrian soldiers near a planned buffer zone around the country’s last major anti-Assad and al-Qaeda held region. The jihadist strikes resulted in the highest number of casualties for the army since the Sochi Agreement was established on September 17th.
Though the Syrian war has grown cold in terms of international spotlight and media interest since September, it is likely again going to ramp up dramatically over the next few months.
Haven’t we seen this movie before, and asked the same question before the opening credits rolled? From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:
Is President Donald Trump about to intervene militarily in the Syrian civil war? For that is what he and his advisers seem to be signaling.
Last week, Trump said of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s campaign to recapture the last stronghold of the rebellion, Idlib province: “If it’s a slaughter, the world is going to get very, very angry. And the United States is going to get very angry, too.”
In a front-page story Monday, “Assad is Planning Chlorine Attack, U.S. Says,” The Wall Street Journal reports that, during a recent meeting, “President Trump threatened to conduct a massive attack against Mr. Assad if he carries out a massacre in Idlib.”
Idlib contains three million civilians and refugees and 70,000 rebels, 10,000 of whom are al-Qaida.
Friday, The Washington Post reported that Trump is changing U.S. policy. America will not be leaving Syria any time soon. Continue reading →
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