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US-Turkey Invasion Derailed by Syrian Army Triumph at Kuweires
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The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) achieved its greatest victory in the four year-long war on Tuesday when it recaptured the strategic Kuweires military airbase in North Syria. Hundreds of ISIS terrorists were killed in intense fighting while hundreds more were sent fleeing eastward towards Raqqa. The victory was announced just hours after Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that Turkey would be willing to invade Syria as long as Washington agreed to provide air support, create a safe zone along the Syrian-Turkish border, and remove Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

Now that Kuweires has been liberated, Davutoğlu will have to reconsider his offer taking into consideration the fact that Russian warplanes will now be within striking distance of the border while troops and artillery will be positioned in a way that makes crossing into Syria as difficult as possible. The window for Turkish troops to enter Syria unopposed has closed. Any attempt to invade the country now will result in stiff resistance and heavy casualties.

To fully understand the significance of Kuweires, we need take a look at Amanpour’s interview with Davutoglu and see what was being planned. Here’s an excerpt:

Christiane Amanpour: Would Turkey, under the right conditions, agree to be a ground force?

PM Ahmet Davutoğlu: “A ground force is something which we have to talk [about] together. There’s a need of an integrated strategy including air campaign and ground troops. But Turkey alone cannot take all this burden. If there is a coalition and a very well designed integrated strategy, Turkey is ready to take part in all senses.”

C.A.: Including on the ground?

Davutoğlu: Yes, of course….We have to solve the Syrian crisis in a comprehensive manner.

C.A.: So I understand what you’re saying is that the condition for Turkey to be more involved would be an agreement by a coalition to also go after Assad?

Davutoğlu: Yes, and against all groups and regimes that are creating this vacuum and this problem. On many days we are assisting the coalition in (the fight) against ISIS, but it is not enough. Now we are suggesting to our allies for many months–and now we are suggesting again–to create a safe haven and to push ISIS far away from our borders.

C.A.: So what do you make of the US, Europe and especially Russia saying Assad must and can stay for a period of time?

Davutoğlu: …..The question is not how long can Assad stay, the question is when and how Assad will go. …What is the solution. The solution is very clear. It is when millions of Syrian refugees are able to return home, assuming there is peace in Syria, then this is the solution. And if Assad stays in power in Damascus, I don’t think any refugee will go back. There is a need of a step by step strategy, but what is the endgame? What is the light at the end of the tunnel, that is what is important to the refugees.

C.A.: Why is the Turkish government making it hard for the US government to arm and train and use Kurdish fighters as their ground troops?

Davutoğlu: (we are not making it hard for the US government to use the) “Kurds”, but the PYD as a wing of the PKK…

There is another Kurdish group, the Peshmerga. We allowed the Peshmerga to go through Turkey to go to Kobani in order to help Kobani to be free. If the US wants to arm Kurdish fighters on the ground against ISIS, we are ready. But not Kurdish terrorists like PKK. If they want to arm and help Barzani, or Peshmerga and help them go to Syria, we are ready to help. But everybody must understand, that today PKK is attacking our cities, our soldiers and our civilians. We will not tolerate any help to any PKK-related groups inside Syria or Iraq. If that happens, Turkey will take all measures to stop it.” (“For refugees to return, Assad must go, says Turkish PM“, CNN)

Let’s recap: Even though the Russian-led coalition is conducting major military operations in Syria, Turkey is willing to invade provided that Washington meet its demands, demands that have never changed and which (we have said in earlier columns) were part of a secret deal for the use of the Incirlik airbase so the USAF could conduct sorties over Syria.

What are Turkey’s demands:

1 A safe zone on the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border

2 A no-fly zone over areas where Turkish troops are conducting operations

3 A commitment to remove Assad.

For a while it looked like the Obama administration might abandon their alliance with Turkey and join with the PYD (The Kurds) in their effort to create a buffer zone where they could harbor, arm and train Sunni militants to continue hostilities in Syria. In fact, Obama went so far as to air-drop pallet-loads of weapons and ammo to the Democratic Union Party (PYD) militia just 10 days ago. (Note: The US has already stopped all weapons shipments to the PYD) Whether Obama did this to force Turkey into playing a more active role in Syria, we don’t know. But what we do know is that a Turkish-US alliance is more formidable than a PYD-US alliance, which is why Washington is planning to sell out the Kurds to join-forces with Turkey.

Another sign that US-Turkish relations have begun to thaw, is the fact that Obama phoned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to congratulate him on his party’s victory eight days after the election. The delay suggests that they were working out their differences before expressions of support. Erdogan needed the landslide victory to consolidate his power in Parliament and to persuade the military brass that he has a mandate to carry out his foreign policy. Obama’s phone call was intended to pave the way for backroom negotiations which would take place during next week’s G-20 meetings in Ankara. But now that the Russian-led coalition has retaken Kuweires, it is impossible to know how the US and Turkey will proceed. If Putin’s warplanes and artillery are able to seal the border, then Washington will have to scrap its plan for seizing the 60-miles stretch of northern Syria that’s needed to keep vital supplylines to US-backed jihadis open or to provide sanctuary for mercenaries returning from the frontlines. The changing battlescape will make a safe zone impossible to defend.

The fact is, Kuweires changes everything. ISIS is on the run, the myriad other terrorist organizations are progressively losing ground, Assad is safe in Damascus, the borders will soon be protected, and the US-Turkey plan to invade has effectively been derailed. Barring some extraordinary, unforeseeable catastrophe that could reverse the course of events; it looks like the Russian-led coalition will eventually achieve its objectives and win the war. Washington will have no choice but to return to the bargaining table and make the concessions necessary to end the hostilities.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].

(Republished from Counterpunch by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: ISIS, Syria, Turkey 
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  1. tom. says:

    And that’s why there was such urgency from the Russians to capture this crucial airbase that’s close to Turkey. The Russians knew that this US/Turkey plan of “no fly zone” bullshit as a pre-text to invade Syria, as well as crush the Kurds, was underway.

    Now I just wish the Russians would stop the bullshit with adding joint terrorism operations with the US in Syria. It might be good for PR, but it’s also helps create an opening which is an is invite of the US into Syria, which could be a disaster.

    • Replies: @Kiza
  2. Kiza says:

    This article is simply too optimistic. Winning back Kuweires is a big win for the Syrian Army, but will it be enough to repel the terrorists and their sponsors? Mike is underestimating the trouble making capacities of the sponsors of terrorism.

    Whilst this article covers the Northern Front against Turkey, it says nothing about the South-Western front against Israel. If US, Turkey and Israel coordinate their actions, they will all attack at the same time, from two sides and the Syrian Army will not be able, even with Russian help, to defend Syria on two fronts. Israel has increased pressure on Obama to recognize Israeli annexation of Golan Heights which it occupies, which would be immediately followed by recognition by most, if not all, US satellites (about 100 countries). Israel has also been making noises about fighting Iran’s intervention is Syria against the terrorists (Israel is another country of the Dark Alliance wanting to “protect” its own interpretation of the international law using military force). It would not be unimaginable for IDF to attack Syria under the excuse of fighting Iran.

    Finally, Saudi Arabia, which is paying most of the ISIS mercenaires’ salaries is running out of money, which means that “rebellion” is running out of steam. Without “moderate rebels”, the sponsors of terrorism will have to resort to direct military intervention.

    The civil war in Syria did not work out. Now, how to present an open military aggression on a country as R2P or some other sweet garbage invention? Obama is in a tough bind – if he goes along with the desires of Turkey and Israel, the Democrats can almost certainly kiss goodbye the US presidency. Not an easy decision, is it?

    Therefore, the only good thing about the current situation is that it is forcing the sponsors of terrorism to come out into the open. The masks in front of the Western domestic population are dropping.

  3. Kiza says:
    @tom.

    Tom, think about what the Russians are saying about “working together with the US to fight terrorism” in Syria as a master stroke of counter-propaganda. The US is a sponsor of terrorism in Syria, but it claims to fight terrorism. The theory of perception management states that you can shift perceptions over time and step-by-step, that you cannot turn perceptions 180 degrees and quickly. If the Russians claimed that the US is a sponsor of terrorism, they would be going head-to-head against the amazingly powerful Western MSM brainwashing machine and its global media domination (although diminishing domination). They would quickly lose out. By saying that they wanted to “fight terrorism together”, they forced the US to behave in an illogical manner and refuse to fight “a common enemy”. Thus, the Russians have put the US on a media defensive and the US could only claim that the Russians are killing the “moderate rebels” and civilians. But, such position was difficult to defend in front of domestic audience. Few people in the West are so naive as to believe in “moderate terrorists”, most would interpret them as “our terrorists”.

    Similar goes for Russia calling the West – our “Western partners”.

    Manipulating public discourse was one of the biggest Western advantages, but the Russians have shown how to counteract. I am sure that China is watching and learning. I may be wrong, but I believe that this Russian approach was spearheaded by the experienced Lavrov. That guy has seen everything under the sun, he is just amazing.

  4. tom. says:

    Agreed , and well stated, that Russia PR would lose out to the west’s MSM liars, but it’s so easy to prove how complicit the MSM are in support of the US proxy terrorism, but Russian leaders doesn’t want that battle.
    Plus that “masterstroke” as you call it, has I think no real short term effect and I think no long-term effect on most of the Wests people’s Minds. They’re already willingly brainwashed and will be more-so into the future. It doesn’t take much for the sheeple into thinking Russia will always be the USSR.

    Russia could win that US proxy terrorism PR battle quite easily, but they don’t want to engage.
    But, countering my own point, is the absurd coverage the RT news agency. If that’s Russisa standard of counter-news propaganda, then they might as well give up now. It’s terrible.

    Plus a big reason the US is sending troops into Syria is that they have an opening because of that move to make the US look bad like you described above. Without that cooperation, there is no clear opening.
    To me, WW3 looks to be getting closer all the time. And that opening to the US to invade Syria Syria brings it a little bit step closer.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Cat Pillar
  5. The Anglo/Zio Empire is in decline. The Russia/China alliance is ascendant. Turkey, Germany, Japan will have to choose. The hour is getting late.

  6. What are Turkey’s demands:
    1 A safe zone on the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border
    2 A no-fly zone over areas where Turkish troops are conducting operations
    3 A commitment to remove Assad.

    ———————————————————————
    Davtoglu and Amanpour were playing Rip van Winkle and just woke up?

    Else…. what gives them the idea Russia will (1) allow or (2) ignore any of that?
    They might collateral damage some Americans wandering thru’?

    And WTF happened to Western morality?
    Each constitutes aggressive invasion – ergo all are serious infringements of international law!
    —————————–
    1. If Turkey wants a safe zone – let them install a safe zone on their side of the border.
    2. If they want a no-fly zone – let them no-fly zone whatever part of Turkey they choose.
    3. And if those turkeys want to remove a country’s leader – let them remove their own.

    • Replies: @RobinG
    , @tbraton
  7. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @tom.

    Plus that “masterstroke” as you call it, has I think no real short term effect and I think no long-term effect on most of the Wests people’s Minds. They’re already willingly brainwashed and will be more-so into the future. It doesn’t take much for the sheeple into thinking Russia will always be the USSR.

    Listening to conservative radio (Michael Savage excepted), most conservatives believe the problem with ISIS is all because spineless Obama didn’t enforce the “red line”. As if taking out Assad and the secular government should help turn the Islamist tide with benevolent jihadist-terrorists in power.

    “Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.” — H.L. Mecken

  8. @tom.

    50 guys is “sending troops?”

    • Replies: @tom.
  9. The Turks (or Erdogan at least) are on a roll. The abject surrender of Merkel and having Barry utterly dependent on his every whim must do his heart good.

    Time to demand that Gulen be repatriated

  10. Sean says:

    Assad is safe in Damascus

    In the whole of Syria, a country of 22 million people that is the only place he is safe, because of the blood on his hands. He will have to kill the 70% of the population that opposes him to win.

    • Replies: @Kiza
  11. RobinG says:
    @Cat Pillar

    Cat says, “And WTF happened to Western morality?”

    Apparently you’re still dreaming. There never was any; only interests.

  12. […] Syrian Army triumph at Kuweires air base throws wrench into planned US-Turkey invasion […]

  13. Kiza says:
    @Sean

    Hasbara blah, blah, “the blood on his hands” meme straight out of Hasbara Central. Assad is so popular in Syria that the terrorists will not let him even be a candidate in the open and free elections.

    Nobody pays attention here, tell your handlers that you are getting paid for nothing.

  14. tom. says:
    @Cat Pillar

    That’s the troops already sent, and the ones that are secretly there already, and the announcement by the air force lady saying they wants to send More.

    Sending more troops into a Russia suppotred Syria, always has to be done slowly and/or secretly

  15. […] “US-Turkey Invasion Derailed by Syrian Army Triumph at Kuweires”  “Was the Turkish election rigged?” (writing this was a firing offense) […]

  16. Junior [AKA "Jr."] says:

    This article is one of the craziest things I have ever read. It is so filled with nonsense that it really is comical. I think that Mr. Unz should rename Mr. Whitney’s section from “Economic CounterPuncher” to “The Funny Pages.” I suggest that Mr. Whitney either start getting better informed from a myriad of sources or stop doing Geopolitics and stick to Economics.

    What are Turkey’s demands:

    1 A safe zone on the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border

    2 A no-fly zone over areas where Turkish troops are conducting operations

    3 A commitment to remove Assad.

    No. Erdogan and his lapdog Davutoğlu’s demands are that the US stop assisting the Syrian Kurds like the PKK. And not only is it a demand, that Son of a Bitch had the NERVE to THREATEN the US when he said, “We will not tolerate any help to any PKK-related groups inside Syria or Iraq. If that happens, Turkey will take all measures to stop it.” This is the final straw, either Erdogans gotta go or Turkeys gotta be kicked out of NATO. Allies don’t threaten each other, aka Erdogan is no ally. That “safe zone” on the border that he’s talking about wanting Turkish troops to be able to operate is where the Kurds are. He wants a no-fly-zone so that he can bomb the Kurds in Syria to try to stop the Kurds from reaching the Mediterranean and getting their own Kurdish port to ship oil. PERIOD. This has NOTHING to do with Assad anymore since the Russians stepped in.

    In fact, Obama went so far as to air-drop pallet-loads of weapons and ammo to the Democratic Union Party (PYD) militia just 10 days ago. (Note: The US has already stopped all weapons shipments to the PYD) Whether Obama did this to force Turkey into playing a more active role in Syria, we don’t know.

    Note: The US has stopped weapons shipments because they ALREADY just armed them.

    But what we do know is that a Turkish-US alliance is more formidable than a PYD-US alliance, which is why Washington is planning to sell out the Kurds to join-forces with Turkey.

    No. What we DO know is that the US just helped the Kurds to free a village near Sinjar in Iraq. And who was a part of the Joint -Operations of Kurds that were assisted by the US? The PKK. Yes, that’s the same PKK we are currently assisting that Erdogan and Davutoğlu threatened the US about helping in Iraq or Syria. So, Mr. Whitney, maybe you should pump your breaks with your assumptions of “what we do know”, or maybe just change the words to what YOU cluelessly assume.

    http://kurdishdailynews.org/2015/11/12/breaking-new-sinjar-offensive-to-liberate-kurdish-yazidi-land-from-isis-starts/

    • Replies: @tbraton
  17. tbraton says:
    @Cat Pillar

    “And WTF happened to Western morality?
    Each constitutes aggressive invasion – ergo all are serious infringements of international law!”

    I’m glad to see someone else say clearly what I have been saying all along. Needless to say, I totally agree. And I would repeat (and underscore): “WTF?”

  18. tbraton says:
    @Junior

    ” He wants a no-fly-zone so that he can bomb the Kurds in Syria to try to stop the Kurds from reaching the Mediterranean and getting their own Kurdish port to ship oil.”

    The Kurds reaching the Mediterranean appears highly unlikely. Kurds only comprise 9% of Syria’s population, and they are located mostly in northeastern Syria adjacent to Turkey and in northern Syria adjacent to Turkey, far from the coast (at least 75 miles). To get to the coast, they would have to take Latakia, which just happens to be the home of the Alawites and where the Russians have their airbase.

    • Replies: @Junior
  19. Junior [AKA "Jr."] says:
    @tbraton

    Kurds only comprise 9% of Syria’s population, and they are located mostly in northeastern Syria adjacent to Turkey and in northern Syria adjacent to Turkey

    There are many factors to consider about them having the capabilities of reaching a coast. One of them is that they have already taken over huge swaths of land in which they are NOT the majority. The majority in those lands from Jarablus to their stronghold in northeastern Syria are Sunni but the Kurds control it. So I would say that whether or not they are a majority in an area that they are looking to control along the border seems to be an obstacle that they can overcome.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/kurds-ally-with-syrian-arabs-say-that-us-arms-are-on-the-way-2015-10

    To get to the coast, they would have to take Latakia, which just happens to be the home of the Alawites and where the Russians have their airbase.

    Yeah if they’re not able to secure a port between Latakia and Kassab by the border of Turkey then the only other way that they could get an independent one would be through a port in Turkey. That is, if Turkey is the next government in the Middle-East-partition-hit-list of countries to be broken apart by civil war. The Kurds currently have a pipeline from Iraq that runs through Turkey to the Turkish port of Ceyhan bypassing the Iraqi Government which is how they got that contested tanker to the Mediterranean last year which delivered its oil to Israel. Israel currently gets 77% of their oil from the Kurds through this pipeline. Erdogan wants to make sure that port in Turkey is the only one that Kurdistan uses and, more importantly, that HE is the one that is control of it to get a cut of the profits. At this point, Kurdistan is an inevitability. The only question left is who controls where they ship their oil out of.

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/181991#.VkbuPV5GSvA

  20. […] In the second hour, we’re joined by guest and geopolitical analyst Mike Whitney from Counterpunch magazine to discuss the reality on the ground in Syria and the Middle East. In the third hour, […]

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