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Operation Claw-Sword: Erdogan’s Big New Game in Syria
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has his sights on Syria. Photo: Ramil Sitdikov / Sputnik

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(From Asia Times)

There’s another Special Military Operation on the market. No, it’s not Russia “denazifying” and “demilitarizing” Ukraine – and, therefore, it’s no wonder that this other operation is not ruffling feathers across the collective West.

Operation Claw-Sword was launched by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as revenge – highly emotional and concerted – for Kurdish terrorist attacks against Turkish citizens. Some of the missiles that Ankara launched in this aerial campaign carried the names of Turkish victims.

The official Ankara spin is that the Turkish Armed Forces fully achieved their “air operation objectives” in the north of Syria and in Iraqi Kurdistan, and made those responsible for the terror attack against civilians in Istanbul’s Istiklal pedestrian street pay in “multitudes.”

And this is supposed to be just the first stage. For the third time in 2022, Sultan Erdogan is also promising a ground invasion of Kurdish-held territories in Syria.

However, according to diplomatic sources, that’s not going to happen – even as scores of Turkish experts are adamant that the invasion is needed sooner rather than later.

The wily Sultan is caught between his electorate, which favors an invasion, and his extremely nuanced relations with Russia – which encompass a large geopolitical and geo-economic arc.

He well knows that Moscow can apply all manner of pressure levers to dissuade him. For instance, Russia at the last minute annulled the weekly dispatch of a joint Russo-Turkish patrol in Ain al Arab that was taking place on Mondays.

Ain al Arab is a highly strategic territory: the missing link, east of the Euphrates, capable of offering continuity between Idlib and Ras al Ayn, occupied by dodgy Turkish-aligned gangs near the Turkish border.

Erdogan knows he can’t jeopardize his positioning as potential EU-Russia mediator while obtaining maximum profit from bypassing the anti-Russian embargo-sanctions combo.

The Sultan, juggling multiple serious dossiers, is deeply convinced that he’s got what it takes to bring Russia and NATO to the negotiating table and, ultimately, end the war in Ukraine.

In parallel, he thinks he may stay on top of Turkey-Israel relations; a rapprochement with Damascus; the sensitive internal situation in Iran; Turkey-Azerbaijan relations; the non-stop metamorphoses across the Mediterranean; and the drive towards Eurasia integration.

He’s hedging all his bets between NATO and Eurasia.

‘Close down all of our southern borders’

The green light for Claw-Sword came from Erdogan while he was on his presidential plane, returning from the G20 in Bali. That happened only one day after he had met US President Joe Biden where, according to a presidential Erdogan statement, the subject had not come up.

“We held no meeting with Mr Biden or [Russian President Vladimir] Putin regarding the operation. They both already know that we can do such things at any moment in this region,” the statement said.

Washington not getting briefed on Claw-Sword mirrored Erdogan not getting invited to an extraordinary G7-NATO meeting in Bali, on the sidelines of the G20.

Then-US vice president Joe Biden (L) speaks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at Beylerbeyi Palace in Istanbul. Photo: AFP / Bulent Kilic
Then-US vice president Joe Biden (L) speaks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at Beylerbeyi Palace in Istanbul. Photo: AFP / Bulent Kilic

That meeting was called by the White House to deal with the by-now notorious Ukrainian S-300 missile that fell in Polish territory. At the time, no one at the table had any conclusive evidence about what happened. And Turkey was not even invited to the table – which profoundly incensed the Sultan.

So it’s no wonder Erdogan, mid-week, said that Claw-Sword was “just the beginning.” Addressing AKP party lawmakers in Parliament, he said Turkey is determined to “close down all of our southern borders … with a security corridor that will prevent the possibility of attacks on our country.”

The ground invasion promise remains: It will begin “at the most convenient time for us” and will target the regions of Tel Rifaat, Mambij and Kobane, which the Sultan called “sources of trouble.”

Ankara has already wreaked havoc, using drones, on the main headquarters of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, whose commanders believe the main target of a potential Turkish ground invasion would be Kobane.

Significantly, this is the first time a Turkish drone targeted an area extremely close to a US base. And Kobane is highly symbolic: the place where the Americans sealed a collaboration with Syrian Kurds to – in theory – fight ISIS.

And that explains why the Syrian Kurds are appalled by the American non-response to the Turkish strikes. They blame – who else? – the Sultan for stoking “nationalist sentiments” ahead of the 2023 elections, which Erdogan now stands a great chance to win despite the catastrophic state of the Turkish economy.

As it stands, there is no Turkish troop buildup near Kobane – just airstrikes. Which brings us to the all-important Russian factor.

Manbij and Tel Rifaat, west of the Euphrates, are much more important for Russia than Kobane, because they are both vital for the defense of Aleppo against possible Salafi-jihadi attacks.

What may potentially happen in the near future makes the situation even murkier. Ankara intel may use Hayat Tahrir al-Sham jihadis – which have already taken over parts of Afrin – as a sort of “vanguard” in a ground invasion of Syrian Kurd territory.

Selling stolen Syrian oil to Turkey

The current fog of war includes the notion that the Russians may have sold out the Kurds by leaving them exposed to Turkish bombing. That does not hold – because Russia’s influence over Syrian Kurd territory is negligible compared with the US’s. Only the Americans could “sell out” the Kurds.

The more things change, the more they remain the same in Syria. It could all be summarized as a monumental impasse. This gets even more surrealist because, in effect, Ankara and Moscow have already found the solution for the Syrian tragedy.

The problem is the presence of American forces – essentially protecting those shabby convoys stealing Syrian oil. Russians and Syrians always discuss it. The conclusion is that the Americans are staying by inertia. They do it because they can. And Damascus is powerless to expel them.

ORDER IT NOW

The Sultan plays the whole thing with consummate cynicism – in geopolitics and geo-economics. Most of what is unresolved in Syria revolves around territories occupied by de facto gangs that call themselves Kurds, protected by the US. They traffic Syrian oil to resell it mostly to … Turkey.

And then, in a flash, armed gangs that call themselves Kurds may simply abandon their “anti-terrorist” fight by … releasing the terrorists they apprehended, thus increasing the “terrorist threat” all over northeast Syria. They blame – who else? – Turkey. In parallel, the Americans increase financial aid to these armed gangs under the pretext of a “war on terror.”

The distinction between “armed gangs” and “terrorists” is of course razor thin. What matters most of all to Erdogan is that he can use the Kurds as a currency in trade negotiations linked to bypassing anti-Russian embargoes and sanctions.

And that explains why the Sultan may decide to bomb Syrian territory whenever he sees fit, despite any condemnation by Washington or Moscow. The Russians once in a while retake the initiative on the ground – as happened during the Idlib campaign in 2020 when Russians bombed the Turkish military forces that were providing “assistance” to Salafi-jihadis.

A view of the site after attacks carried out by Assad regime in Syria on the city center of Idlib on September 7, 2021. Photo: Izzeddin Kasim / Anadolu Agency
A view of the site after attacks carried out by Assad regime in Syria on the city center of Idlib on September 7, 2021. Photo: Izzeddin Kasim / Anadolu Agency

Now a game-changer may be on the cards. The Turkish Army bombed the al-Omar oilfield north of Deir ez-Zor. What this means in practice is that Ankara is now destroying no less than the oil infrastructure of the much-lauded “Kurdish autonomy.”

This infrastructure has been cynically exploited by the US when it comes to the oil that reaches the border with Iraq in Iraqi Kurdistan. So in a sense, Ankara is striking against Syrian Kurds and simultaneously against American robbery of Syrian oil.

The definitive game-changer may be approaching. That will be the meeting between Erdogan and Bashar al-Assad, (Remember the decade-long refrain “Assad must go”?)

Location: Russia. Mediator: Vladimir Putin, in person. It’s not far-fetched to imagine this meeting paving the way for those Kurdish armed gangs, essentially played by Washington as useful idiots, to end up being decimated by Ankara.

(Republished from Asia Times by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. Notsofast says:

    the kurds above all people, should understand that the u.s. will throw them under the bus, as they have done in the past. anyone that works for or with the u.s. will be stabbed in the back eventually, whether friend or foe. wonder if the europeans will ever figure this out? erdogan sure figured it out.

    • Replies: @Ann Nonny Mouse
  2. Anon[279] • Disclaimer says:

    Erdogan the occupier and ethnic cleanser of Christian lands in northern Cyprus. Nevertheless in one way or another all nations get thrown under the bus, stabbed in the back etc when it becomes expedient to the great power they have aligned with .

  3. Republic says:


    Turkey &Iran Strike US Proxy

    • Thanks: Notsofast
  4. anonymous[236] • Disclaimer says:

    So the Kurds are only ‘armed gangs’ according to Escobar … unlike the Donbass Russians whom he sees as ‘freedom fighters for self-determination’? This is horrid, immoral, rather racist inconsistency.

    Every people has a right to self-determination, their own homeland, to unilaterally declare independence from oppressors … This is Article 1 of the UN Charter, and the International Court 2010 Kosovo decision.

    33 million Kurds have their country carved up by foreign powers, just like Poland was – Kurds have been betrayed by the world over and over again.

    We need to be consistent and principled, not just ‘pick sides’:
    – Kurds have a right to their own country, freed from Turkey, Syria, Iraq & Iran
    – East Ukraine Russians have a right to exit Ukraine & join Russia
    – Chechens have a right to leave Russia
    – Taiwan has a right to remain independent
    – Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang all have rights to leave China
    – Catalonia has a right to leave Spain
    – Scotland has a right to leave the UK
    – US states and regions have a right to secede

  5. What the fuck do the Turks care about things like

    He well knows that Moscow can apply all manner of pressure levers to dissuade him. For instance, Russia at the last minute annulled the weekly dispatch of a joint Russo-Turkish patrol in Ain al Arab that was taking place on Mondays.

    or stopping the so-called “war” in EUkraine? Putin has already unveiled the plan to turn the Turks into a “gas hub”; with Russian gas, that is, to provide Russia’s “our Western partners” with resold fuels at inflation-friendly markups. Then, they’re also profiting dearly from managing the sale of Ukrainian grain along with the UN, not to mention that the Pentagon and NATO aren’t about to let the jewcy business like the Ukrainian no-war with Russia go down the crapper of “peace” for some Turk sultan wannabe who isn’t in the least interested is that “peace” to begin with.

  6. Most readers don’t understand this complex mess. Here is a short video of how this evolved.

    • Thanks: nokangaroos
    • Replies: @Bro43rd
    , @Anonymous
  7. @anonymous

    We need to be consistent and principled, not just ‘pick sides’:
    – Kurds have a right to their own country, freed from Turkey, Syria, Iraq & Iran
    – East Ukraine Russians have a right to exit Ukraine & join Russia
    – Chechens have a right to leave Russia
    – Taiwan has a right to remain independent
    – Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang all have rights to leave China
    – Catalonia has a right to leave Spain
    – Scotland has a right to leave the UK
    – US states and regions have a right to secede

    Interesting how you left out the Palestinians. The Palestinians have a right to Palestine which Israel has occupied since 1948 don’t you think?

    • Replies: @Son of a jedi
    , @Ayax
  8. @Notsofast

    But why can’t the Kurds of Syria be friends with Assad? Why the need for breakaway? Racism on their part?

    They may have some excuse for attacking the turkeys in Anatolia, who took their land from them, but the Syrians, Arameans, were there, in Syria, first!

  9. @dogbumbreath

    ‘Interesting how you left out the Palestinians. The Palestinians have a right to Palestine which Israel has occupied since 1948 don’t you think?’-Well said. Over to you,anonymous

  10. @anonymous

    Are you right about right? Does China have the right to prevent Taiwan from becoming a separate sovereign state? Yes.

    Does anyone have the right to prevent Texas from becoming a separate sovereign state? Who?

    • Replies: @nokangaroos
  11. @Ann Nonny Mouse

    Syria is weak from years of civil war and the Kurds want to take advantage of the opportunity to use their inertia to get their freedom. However, their country would be small, weak and landlocked. Moreover, they’d ultimately just be puppets of Washington, which I don’t think is any good either. Autonomy for Kurds in Syria is the best option I think. All other options on the table are much more violent.

  12. Bro43rd says:
    @Carlton Meyer

    A complex mess 100% US made. All for the bestest ally evah.

    And never forget to vote harder.

    • Agree: Notsofast, Cruelnunusual
  13. Notsofast says:
    @Ann Nonny Mouse

    the kurds have been used by the u.s. as a proxy, in their sinister plans to break up syria, iraq and iran, as well as a means of punishing the turks if they step out of line. the kurds have been promised a home land time and time again (which the u.s. has no intention of ever doing) but there’s always oil fields involved somehow. the kurds never seem to be able to understand that the u.s., sold saddam hussein the chemical weapons, he used against them and has sold them out every time they have had a chance since then.

    assad was willing to talk to them but they are holding out for an independent country and the lolipop trees uncle sam has promised them. since it is the u.s. that tells the kurds not to negotiate, a simple solution would be to give them california, call it kurdifornia and let them treat the current residents like palestinians.

    • Replies: @acementhead
    , @Warren
  14. Anonymous[137] • Disclaimer says:
    @Carlton Meyer

    This is after Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, 11 days after taking office. The Western world has been full 🤡 🌎 for at least two decades by now.

    • Agree: Cruelnunusual
    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  15. Ayax says:
    @dogbumbreath

    If every ethnic group within a nation has a right to secede from their current country, wouldn’t other ethnicities also want to follow suit and demand their right to secede?

    How would it be possible to hold a country together with such unfettered rights to secede?

    I understand that Kurds may be an exception in this case.

    • Replies: @dogbumbreath
  16. @Ayax

    If every ethnic group within a nation has a right to secede from their current country, wouldn’t other ethnicities also want to follow suit and demand their right to secede?

    How would it be possible to hold a country together with such unfettered rights to secede?

    I’m not the one advocating that “every ethnic group has a right to secede”. To me, this is not sustainable reality. There will always be a bigger, stronger, more advanced group (ethnicity) in the region. The smaller, weaker, less advanced groups will want to improve their standards of living and security so joining the larger “regional” group makes sense. What matters is the regional (ethnic) hegemon rules in a fair and just manner. This depends on leadership so solutions to almost all problems stems from “correct” leadership. Geopolitics manipulates this reality for good and bad. In the case of the Global Uni-polar hegemon, it uses deception, lies and threats to influence groups for their own benefit and not the benefit of ALL. In reality, there is no utopia so the best we can do for the foreseeable future is to have a Multi-Polar World where the regional hegemon works for the benefit of ALL ethnicities (groups) under it’s umbrella while protecting the economy, traditions, culture and religion from outside negative influences.

  17. Jeez, you’ve got to be stupid to fight in all these meaningless conflicts. What happens when every soldier finally realizes they are just stupid pawns? What are they supposed to be fighting for? And why am I paying for it??

    • Agree: Bro43rd
  18. @Ann Nonny Mouse

    First, it is imperative to grok that our idea of “nation” is German romanticism;
    the jury on whether the Kurds are the progeny of the Kardukh mountain cutthroats
    Xenophon described is still out, but it doesn´t really matter.
    – They speak three dialect groups – Kurmandji, Sorani, Zazaki – of the
    northwest Iranian branch and regard themselves as Aryans, yes 😀 but had no
    writing until comparatively recently (one oft-overlooked consequence is that
    most of the foundational “nationalist” literature is Soviet – there is a tiny
    autochthonous minority as well as a certain politicized diaspora north of the border).
    – They have two racially distinct castes, the Assiretes (warriors/herders) and the
    Gurans (subsistence farmers); the former have always been mercenaries:
    Salah ud-Din, Karim Khan Zand, Reza Shah (Mohammed Reza´s daddy, ousted
    by UKUS in 1941 for being insufficiently antifa; “Pahlevi” meaning both “hero” and
    “highwayperson” in the area, much like the Caucasian “djigit”).
    – The majority Sunni despise above all the Turks, with the Shia a close second;
    the Yezidi (a kind of degenerate Persian religion, in NE Syria and W Iraq) are
    technically Kurds but despised by everybody and his mama; the extra pejorative
    ghiaur (instead of the generic kaffir for “infidel”) is reserved for them;
    the Alawites (a kind of relaxed Twelver Shia who “not go in mosque”) are traditionally
    the most enlightened segment, carriers of Westernization, (alongside (((Dönme)))
    and Armenians) the Young “Turk” Movement and (most importantly) the Baath
    (“National Renaissance”). Assad is Alawi (as, btw, was Uncle Saddam).
    – Little Britain originally intended an independent (North) Kurdistan after WWI
    to get one over at the Turks – but then the oil of Kirkuk was discovered, see
    (and Mustafa Kemal´s Revolution put a lid on the rest). There have been two or three
    homegrown attempts under Savonarola-grade psychos (Qazi Muhammed) but
    these were short-lived.

    TL;DR:
    1) There will always be enough internal quabbles for outsiders to exploit
    for whatever goals; Kurdish loyalty is to mafia-like family clans (Barzani etc.) or
    to cults (PKK, MEK etc.), not to some nebulous “people”. Still their stupidity
    re: the US is as disheartening as the Ukies´.
    2) What (((they))) show you on the boobtoob are just the bandits du jour
    (especially the YPG women´s battaillon); whoever comes at you with
    Right to Self-Determination Heroic Freedom Fighters an Sheet ™ is selling you
    a load of gefilte fish.

    • Thanks: Ann Nonny Mouse
  19. @Ann Nonny Mouse

    China must prevent Taiwan from becoming an USraeli colony –
    there go your “rights”; besides the actual (Austronesian) Formosans –
    the only ones with a plausible claim – are a tiny and persecuted minority.

    The case for Texas is mostly legalistic … as you know Texas was sovereign state
    before joining the Union (what they cover with the mantle of love is that´s
    because Mexico outlawed slavery), did not surrender in the War of Northern
    Aggression and reserved the right to re-secede in the clauses of accession –
    I see no problem 😀

  20. @Notsofast

    “…a simple solution would be to give them california, call it kurdifornia and let them treat the current residents like palestinians.”

    A great idea, thanks. I really did laugh out very loud.

    • Thanks: Notsofast
  21. @Anonymous

    The first precog award, given for what he might do than what he did. Of course, he expanded the wars, but the Nobel Committee said nothing.

    What’s funnier is Obama actually accepted. If he had any dignity, he would have said ‘thanks but no thanks’ as he hadn’t yet proven himself. But the egotistical dolt shamelessly grabbed the prize.

  22. Sari says:
    @anonymous

    [[So the Kurds are only ‘armed gangs’ according to Escobar … unlike the Donbass Russians whom he sees as ‘freedom fighters for self-determination’]]

    Stop your lies ignorant. First of all, Russia was blackmailed and had to act to save her country. Beside The area that Russia is trying to bring back, and more territory, used to be part of Russia, like the Kurdish regions in other countries like Iraq, Turkey, Syria where used to be part of IRAN where was stolen by the Ottoman and the evil British empire. Why don’t you promote the fact that all of Kurdish region should be return to Iran? Kurds are one of the Iranian tribes whose language and race have changed the least. Kurds have believed in Zoroastrian monotheism, which later changed to Islam. Kurds are of Iranian origin and the main part of the survivors of the Iranian-Median people. where majority of them live in the west and northwest of Iran. The Kurds live in other Iranian states. They also live in Mazandaran, Gilan, West Azerbaijan and Khorasan.
    Kurds are one of the most famous Iranian ethnic groups. According to historians, the history of Kurdish settlement in Iran reaches 4,000 years BC. Kurds first lived in Iran and around Lake Van, and then they settled in today’s Kurdistan region and Kermanshah.
    In the era of Seljuq rule in Persia, the name of Kurdistan became more popular and their court offices were registered with this name and the boundaries of Kurdistan were defined. In later historical periods, especially during the Safavid era (early 16th century), due to the invasion of enemy, the Ottoman with better weaponry, and the inability of the Iranian army to protect the borders, Part of these states (Kurdistan and Azarbaijan) were separated from the geography of Iran. The battle known as Chaldaran in the year 1514. So since 1514 big chunk of Iranian state (Kurdistan) was stolen by the Ottoman. In 1514 AD, a war broke out between the Safavid Shah Ismail forces and the Ottoman Sultan Selim. In this war, which was known as the Chaldaran battle, parts of the land of Iran from province of Kurdistan in Iran was separated from Iran, and this separated territory of Kurdistan further was divided and added to the countries of Turkey, Syria and Iraq by the Evil British Empire in WWI. The criminal West always by invasion and theft of territory rule over other nations. One of the tool of the criminal west is to steal territories and divide it further and put in different nations to create tension, so later they can destabilize the host nations to steal more land and resources. The people of the region should not be confused about their MAIN enemy and must be united to force these criminals and terrorists out of the region. The soldiers should not fight and give blood for these thieves and refuse fighting the nations who have civilization older than the history of the western countries combine. Why don’t you partition the US and give back the stolen Palestine to Palestinian before deciding for other countries. How many more millions of Muslims do you want to kill?

    This was the territory of Persia (Iran)

    And this is the territory of Iran now. Aren’t you satisfy? Work on Partition of US and UK, and leave us alone.

    • Thanks: nokangaroos, dogbumbreath
    • Replies: @nokangaroos
  23. anonymous[226] • Disclaimer says:

    Until the beanie control over the United States is broken, the US will continue to wage wars of aggression at whoever Tel Aviv hates. US hasn’t had an independent foreign policy in three generations. But what is most breathtaking is how stupid and arrogant most americans are. The average muricunt has an IQ just above room temperature, and thinks he/she/it can be an asshole in the world because of a trillion-dollar defense budget.

  24. @Sari

    The problem with your approach (that I second BTW 😉 ) is that you go
    tell the Dutch and the Vlaams that they are in reality just swamp Germans
    (though they seem to be learning).
    – For those who still believe the (((MSM))) line a good exercise would be
    to revisit the accolades heaped on the Afghan Freedom Fighters ™ in the ´80s.

  25. Warren says:
    @Notsofast

    To solve the Palestinian problem, give them Louisiana. It is much bigger than historic Palestine. As far as the people currently living in Louisiana, they will not understand what is going on.

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