The Turkish Special Forces, alongside the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Faylaq Al-Sham, reportedly captured their first village during this new offensive dubbed “Operation Euphrates Shield.”According to Faylaq Al-Sham’s official media wing, their forces captured the village of Tal Katlijah after the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS)terrorists quickly abandoned the area in order to reinforce Jarabulus.ISIS has mostly abandoned the small area between Jarabulus and the Turkish border, leaving only small units to resist the advancing Turkish-backed rebels.The Turkish-backed rebels are now attacking the hilltop village of Tal Sha’er, which is along the road to Jarabulus.
What Is Turkey Doing?
. . . . . Damascus and Ankara have been engaged in secret talks for months now in the Algerian capital of Algiers, as has been repeatedly confirmed by many multiple media sources ever since this spring. Moreover, Turkey justdispatched one of its deputy intelligence chiefs to Damascus a few days ago to meet with his high-level Syrian counterparts, so this might explain the reason why Russia and Iran aren’t condemning Turkey’s incursion into Syria, nor why the Syrian officials aren’t loudly protesting against it either. More and more, the evidence is pointing to Turkey’s operation being part of a larger move that was coordinated in advance with Syria, Russia, and Iran. Nevertheless, for domestic political reasons within both Syria and Turkey, neither side is expected to admit to having coordinated any of this, and it’s likely that bellicose rhetoric might be belched from Ankara just as much as it’s predictable that Damascus will rightfully speak about the protection of its sovereignty.What’s most important, though, isn’t to listen so much to Turkey and Syria, but to watch and observe what Russia and Iran say and do, since these are the two countries most capable of defending Syria from any legitimate aggression against its territory and which have been firmly standing behind it for years now, albeit to differing qualitative extents though with complementary synergy (i.e. Russia’s anti-terrorist air operation and Iran’s special forces ground one). This isn’t in any way to ‘excuse’, ‘apologize for’, or ‘explain away’ the US’ opportunistic and illegal inadvertent contribution to this coordinated multipolar campaign, but to accurately document how and why it decided to involve itself in this superficially Turkish-led venture, namely because it was cleverly misled by Erdogan into thinking that this is a precondition for the normalization of relations between both sides.Russia lacks the political will to cleanse the Wahhabi terrorists and Kurdish separatists from northern Syrian itself, and for as much as one may support or condemn this, it’s a statement of fact that must be taken into account when analyzing and forecasting events. With this obvious constraint being a major factor influencing the state of affairs in Syria, it’s reasonable then that Syria, Russia, and Iran wouldn’t vocally object too much to Turkey tricking the US into doing this instead out of the pursuit of its own self-interests vis-à-vis the attempted normalization with Ankara. The major qualifying variable that must be mentioned at this point is that serious Russian and Iranian condemnation of Turkey’s ongoing operation would signal that something either went wrong with their multilaterally coordinated plan, or that Turkey was just a backstabbing pro-American Trojan Horse this entire time and the skepticism surrounding Moscow and Tehran’s dedicated efforts to coax Ankara into a multipolar pivot was fully vindicated as the correct analysis all along.
Ahmet Davutoğlu: “Prime Minister said that in current conjuncture, this attack (on Suleiman Shah Tomb) must be seen as an opportunity for us.”Hakan Fidan: “I’ll send 4 men from Syria, if that’s what it takes. I’ll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey; we can also prepare an attack on Suleiman Shah Tomb if necessary.”Feridun Sinirlioğlu: “Our national security has become a common, cheap domestic policy outfit.”Yaşar Güler: “It’s a direct cause of war. I mean, what’re going to do is a direct cause of war.”
A bombing on Saturday night at a Kurdish wedding in Gaziantep, a Turkish town near the Syrian border, was one of the deadliest in a string of terrorist attacks that have struck Turkey. Since June 2015, Kurdish and Islamic State militants have staged at least 15 major attacks across Turkey, killing more than 330 people.
Thus, Turkey’s government and a complicit Western media have helped place the blame equally on both the Islamic State and Kurdish militants ahead of the now ongoing cross-border operation.The above mentioned BBC article would also note:Turkey has vowed to “completely cleanse” IS from its border region, blaming the group for a bomb attack on a wedding that killed at least 54 people in Gaziantep on Saturday.In the aftermath of the July coup, many were hopeful Turkey would realign itself geopolitically and play a more constructive and stabilising role in the region.Instead, while citing the threat of the Islamic State and Kurdish forces along its border, a threat that its own collusion with US and Persian Gulf States since 2011 helped create, Turkey has decisively helped move forward a crucial part of US plans to dismember Syria and move its campaign of North African and Middle Eastern destabilisation onward and outward.The response by Syria and its allies in the wake of Turkey’s cross-border foray has so far been muted. What, if any actions could be taken to prevent the US and its allies from achieving their plans remain to be seen.While the toppling of the government in Damascus looks unlikely at the moment, the Balkanisation of Syria was a secondary objective always only ever considered by US policymakers as a mere stop gap until eventually toppling Damascus as well. Conceding eastern and parts of northern Syria to US-led aggression will only buy time.
An alternative is for diplomatic efforts to focus first on how to end the violence and how to gain humanitarian access, as is being done under Annan’s leadership. This may lead to the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power. This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Asad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts.
In addition, Israel’s intelligence services have a strong knowledge of Syria, as well as assets within the Syrian regime that could be used to subvert the regime’s power base and press for Asad’s removal. Israel could posture forces on or near the Golan Heights and, in so doing, might divert regime forces from suppressing the opposition. This posture may conjure fears in the Asad regime of a multi-front war, particularly if Turkey is willing to do the same on its border and if the Syrian opposition is being fed a steady diet of arms and training. Such a mobilization could perhaps persuade Syria’s military leadership to oust Asad in order to preserve itself. Advocates argue this additional pressure could tip the balance against Asad inside Syria, if other forces were aligned properly.
We should make no bones about it. It first entails killing a lot of people and destroying the Syrian air defenses and those people who are manning those systems. And then it entails destroying the Syrian air force, preferably on the ground, in the air if necessary. This is a violent combat action that results in lots of casualties and increased risk to our own personnel.
I know it sounds stark, but what I always tell people when they talk to me about a no-fly zone is . . . it’s basically to start a war with that country because you are going to have to go in and kinetically take out their air defense capability