Connect with us

Latest

Analysis

News

Turkish proxies and US Kurdish proxies are engaged in heavy combat in Syria’s Aleppo Governorate

This is a further symptom of Russia’s pivot away from the Kurds and a pragmatic move closer to Turkey.

Published

on

11,263 Views

As of 17.30 Damascus time, intense fighting continues between Turkish proxy militants and the Kurdish led US proxy militia group SDF in Syria’s Aleppo Governorate.

Although Turkish backed militants had previously exchanged fire with the SDF, the ensuring battle in the town of Ain Daknah appears to be the most intense instance of fighting to-date, between Turkish and US proxies.

Al-Masdar reports that heavy artillery fire is being exchanged between the SDF and Turkomen dominated groups flying under the SDF flag in addition to the pro-Turkish Sunni militant group Ahrar Al-Sham.

This development does not come as surprise, as Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has remarked that among the top priorities for Turkey in Syria is fighting Kurdish militants who in many cases have openly expressed solidarity with the Turkey based Kurdish terrorist group PKK.

Turkey prepares military operation against Syrian Kurds as Iraqi Kurds surrender

Erdgoan has been unambiguous in his refusal to allow Syrian Kurds the ability to gain any territorial or geo-political upper hand in Syria and other members of his government have been even more abrasive in stating their lack of reservations in respect of directly confronting a proxy militia of the United States, a fellow NATO member.

Turkey’s own position as a US “ally” and NATO member has become increasingly tenuous over the Kurdish issue, over which Ankara and Washington find themselves on opposite sides of what for Turkey is a supremely important issue of national security, something that both Erdogan’s AKP and the secular Kemalist opposition CHP agree upon. While Erdogan does and likely will still occasionally offer domestically aimed anti-Ba’athist rhetoric in respect of Syria, at this point this is just fodder for Erdogan’s core supporters who continue to represent a Muslim Brotherhood style ideology with Turkish characteristics.

As for Turkey’s actual role in Syria, it is now to restrain or even make gains against Kurdish militias. While this has caused extreme friction between Ankara and Washington, with Ankara accusing Washington of being behind Gulenist plots against Turkish sovereignty, the real decisive factor in Turkey’s war against Syria Kurds will be Russia.

Turkey is next in line to be a Pakistan style “frenemy” of the US

Turkey’s relationship with Russia continues to grow strong and crucially, Russia itself seems to be pivoting away from its historic sympathies with Middle Eastern Kurds and towards a cautious and pragmatic embrace of the reality that all of the major regional players, except for Israel, are now dead set against any Kurdish ethno-nationalist agitations. This is one of the few things that both Syria and Turkey agree upon, even though Ankara and Damascus still do not have diplomatic relations, stemming from Turkey’s erstwhile support for Takfiri lead illegal regime change in Damascus.

On Monday of this week, Presidents Erdogan and Putin met in Sochi, a symbolic Russian city on the north cost of the Black Sea which is just a warm water boat-ride away from Turkey.

In the aftermath of the meeting, I described Russia’s pivot away from latent Kurdish sympathies in the following way,

“During the most recent Astana meeting, Turkey openly objective to the participation of Kurdish groups in the so-called “pan-Syrian dialogue” which Russia has called for.

These objections are one of the unique areas where Iran, Turkey and Syria have a clear point of view while Russia’s view is far more nuanced. Iran, Turkey and Syria are now on the same page in so far as they consider armed Kurdish led, US proxy militias in Syria to be a terrorist threat and a long-term security issue.

Russia by contrast, has previously welcomed the participation of “moderate” Kurdish factions in a political process to end the Syrian conflict and had previously been somewhat sympathetic to Kurdish demands for federal autonomy in post-conflict Syria.

The rationale for this much over-hyped and gradually closing schism is obvious enough. Syria, Iran and Turkey all have militant Kurdish terrorist groups operating on their own soil and the clear fear is that if one group gets an upper-hand over their respective central government, this could set a dangerous precedent in the region. This is why Turkey and Iran cooperated with Iraq on subduing ethno-nationalist Kurds in northern Iraq in the autumn of 2017.

Russia has always respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations, but at the same time, due to historic links with Kurdish groups, Russia was willing to facilitate the meeting of some Kurdish demands, if possible. This is because, Russia would prefer Kurdish groups to see Russia as a guarantor of peace, rather than the United Stats which Iraqi Kurds have openly said let them down. It is also because in the past, Russia had explored the possibility of a Kurdish buffer-zone between traditional Arab allies and Turkey in order to add one more layer of protection against a once hostile NATO member in the region.

Today, both of these Russian rationales have largely been changed due to new realities on the ground. Russia’s long-time ally Syria has recently stated that it views armed Kurdish groups occupying Syrian territory as no different than Takfiri groups doing the same, such as ISIS and al-Qaeda. In naming Kurdish militants as terrorists, Syria has affirmed that it is not planning on taking a soft-line against Kurdish ethno-nationalists after the conflict against Takfiri groups is inevitably won. With Iraq, Iran and Turkey all taking the same line, Russia is not about to fight for a non-state group against four states whose friendship with Russia is key to Moscow’s ability to have good relations in the region and balance out would-be power struggles in the Middle East.

Secondly, with Turkey’s relationship with Russia and its relationship with Iran improving at a fast pace and with Ankara’s relations with Washington downgrading at an equally frantic pace, the idea of a ‘buffer zone’ is becoming largely outdated. Any would-be Kurdish statelete would be US/Israeli puppet state that would only strain the regional balance of power that Russia is so keen to stabilise.

Turkey and Iran will both be happy by Russia abandoning its moderate version of Project Kurd. In return, Russia will no be well placed to insure that after remaining issues are settled, Turkey does not end up permanently occupying Syria’s Idlib, thus alleviating a grave concern of Damascus.

A longer term issue will be balancing out Iran’s legal partnership with Syria against Israel’s illegal but seemingly unstoppable threat to continue to occupy and strike Syrian targets under the pretext of Iran’s presence (however limited) in Syria.

In this sense, Russia’s deal-making with Turkey, could prove to be a useful precedent in working out a solution that keeps Syria safe once the conflict formally ends, while also insuring that Russia maintains good will with Iran, while acting to quietly restrain Israeli aggression. The progress Russia has made in terms of turning Turkey from an outspoken enemy of Syria into a country that cooperates with both Russia and Iran (as Syrian allies) is a significant achievement. Convincing Israel to cease its hostility against Syria while allowing Syria and Iran to pursue their alliance will be the next great task of Russia, as Russia is the only power capable of speaking on friendly terms with all parties in the Middle East, including the occupier entity.

It is clear that while Turkey and Russia still have a fair share of disagreements on regional security, that Turkey and Russia are now the key leaders on ‘both sides’ of the international community who will help to bring the conflict to the close in Syria”.

Turkey replaces the US as Russia’s key Middle Eastern partner from the “other side”

This is not to say that Russia gave Erdogan a “green light” for further attacks on the Kurdish dominated SDF such as the one currently taking place, however it does indicate that Russia will not step in, even in a quiet capacity to restrain such attacks as it may have done previously. To be sure, Russia will continue to seek a balance of powers in the region, but Russia’s patience with the Kurds appears to have run out.

Instead, Russia is moving into a position whereby, Moscow will use the Kurds as leverage against protecting Syrian territory from future Turkish incursions. Turkey has been quietly setting up shop in Syria’s Idlib Governorate  in what can only be described as a prelude to an attempt at long term occupation. This has included the appearance of state-run Turkish post offices on Syrian territory. This is something Syria finds totally unacceptable and it is something that increasingly frustrates both Russia and Iran.

The United States, which previously endorsed Turkey’s military adventurism in Syria, now realises that the presence of Turkish Army troops and paid up Turkish proxies in Idlib and elsewhere in Syria, is going to be one of the biggest long-term stumbling blocs to setting up a Kurdish zone of occupation in northern Syria, one which Kurds have said they hope will stretch from eastern Syria to the Mediterranean.

Against this background, Russia is in a position to both effectively guarantee a hands-off ‘wink and a nod’ approach to Turkey going after the SDF in Syria, while using this as future leverage to force a Turkish withdrawal from Idlib and nearby areas of occupation in Syria.

Turkey cannot afford to alienate Russia and the US at the same time and as Turkey and Russia’s relationship is steadily becoming one of strategic and economic importance, while Ankara’s relationship with the US is becoming one that is increasingly seen by Turkey as an infuriating dead-end, the choice for Turkey is becoming obvious.

Turkey has already expressed solidarity with Russia’s calls for the US to leave Syria. This became most clearly expressed when the Turkish Prime Minister slammed the US for helping ISIS terrorist to safely evacuate from Raqqa. The statement was crucially made only hours after Sergey Lavrov blasted the US along roundly similar lines.

Russian FM Lavrov slams “most dangerous” illegal US presence in Syria – seeks US withdrawal

Turkey therefore is demonstrating that its statements on Syria are increasingly in-line with those of Russia, this is especially true in respect of statements intended for an international audience, as opposed to Erdogan’s domestic rhetoric which ought to always been listened to in its appropriate context. Russian political leaders tend to speak in generally similar styles whether their remarks are intended for domestic or international consumption. The opposite is true of many Turkish leaders, including Erdogan.

Ultimately, Russia is allowing Turkey to do Syria’s ‘dirty work’ while preserving the public status quo of Turkey and Syria being at odds, something which serves the domestic purposes of both the leaders of Turkey and Syria. At the same time, in failing to restrain Turkey, Russia is showing that it has dropped its opposition to Turkey’s hard-line against Syrian Kurds, which itself is an admission of Syrian Kurds being disproportionately loyal to the United States whose goals in Syria are becoming increasingly and ever more stridently opposed by Russia.

Russia does not want Turkey to expand its influence in Syria but nor does Russia want a permanent or semi-permanent occupation of Syria by a US military using Kurdish ethno-nationalists as a fig leaf for their ambitions.

Syria, Turkey and the Kurds: A Devil’s Triangle that only Russia can navigate

In this sense, just as Turkey under Erdgoan has chosen Russia over the US as an important superpower with whom to form a strategic partnership, so too has Russia chosen to deal with Turkey’s concerns regarding Syria as a priority over those of the US with whom Russia cannot see eye to eye. By contrast, Russia can make important “win-win” or near “win-win” compromises with Turkey. This appears to be the immediate result of the most recent Putin-Erdogan meeting.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of

Latest

Rod Rosenstein resigns from his post before President Trump can fire him

Rosenstein’s comments about secretly recording the President backfire, and resignation may throw the Mueller Russiagate probe into question.

Seraphim Hanisch

Published

on

The Washington Times broke the story that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein resigned from his post. He submitted his resignation to Chief of Staff John Kelly.  At present the breaking story says the following:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is out at the Department of Justice.

Axios reported that Mr. Rosenstein verbally resigned to White House Chief Of Staff John Kelly, but CNN said that he is expecting to be fired.

Sarah Isgur Flores, a Department of Justice spokeswoman, declined to comment on the reports.

Mr. Rosenstein’s departure immediately throws Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian collusion probe into chaos.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation, leaving Mr. Rosenstein in charge.

President Trump mulled firing the No. 2 at the Department of Justice over the weekend.

CLICK HERE to Support The Duran >>

This report came after Fox News reported that the Deputy AG was summoned to the White House. Fox reported a little more detail:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is heading to the White House expecting to be fired, sources tell Fox News, in the wake of a report that he suggested wearing a wire against President Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office last year.

This is a developing story, however one major factor that comes under consideration is the fate of Robert Mueller and his Russiagate investigation, which was authorized by Rosenstein. CNBC had this to say in their piece:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is resigning Monday, according to Axios, which cited a source familiar with the matter.

NBC News’ Pete Williams, however, reported that Rosenstein would not resign of his own accord, and that he will only depart if the White House fired him. He will refuse to resign if asked to do so, Williams added.

Rosenstein was at the White House when Williams reported this on the air. However, President Donald Trump is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

Bloomberg later reported that the White House accepted Rosenstein’s resignation, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Rosenstein’s expected resignation will immediately raise questions about the fate of the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump.

Rosenstein’s job security was called into question after The New York Times reported last week that the No. 2 DOJ official had discussed invoking the 25th amendment to remove Trump, and had also talked about surreptitiously recording the president.

Rosenstein oversees the special counsel investigation, and has appointed Mueller to run the Russia probe last year, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the case.

The special counsel’s office declined to comment on the report.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Axios’ report. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to CNBC’s inquiry.

Trump has repeatedly blasted Mueller’s inquiry, which also is focused on possible collusion with Russia by members of the Trump campaign.

He has called the investigation a “witch hunt,” and has repeatedly vented frustration about Sessions’ recusal, which directly led to Mueller’s appointment by Rosenstein.

Rosenstein’s expected departure comes on the heels of a guilty plea by Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort to conspiracy charges related to his consulting work in Ukraine, which predates his role on the campaign.

As part of the investigation, Mueller’s team has been locked in an ongoing back-and-forth with Trump’s legal team over an in-person interview with the president.

Trump’s lawyers, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have signaled that Trump is unwilling to sit for an interview, calling it a “perjury trap” and setting up a potential challenge for Mueller to subpoena the president.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

 

 

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

European Council crushes Theresa May’s soft Brexit dream (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 116.

Alex Christoforou

Published

on

UK Prime Minister Theresa May hoped that the European Council was ready to see things her way, in terms of proceeding with a soft Brexit, which was essentially no Brexit at all…at least not the hard Brexit that was voted on in a democratic referendum approximately two years ago.

Much to May’s surprise, European Council President Donald Tusk delivered a death blow verdict for May’s Brexit, noting that EU leaders are in full agreement that Chequers plan for Brexit “will not work” because “it risks undermining the single market.”

Without a miracle compromise springing up come during the October summit, the UK will drift into the March 29, 2019 deadline without a deal and out of the European Union…which was initially what was voted for way back in 2016, leaving everyone asking, what the hell was May doing wasting Britain’s time and resources for two years, so as to return back to the hard Brexit terms she was charged with carrying forward after the 2016 referendum?

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss what was a disastrous EU summit in Salzburg for UK PM Theresa May, in what looks to be the final nail in May’s tenure as UK Prime Minister, as a hard Brexit now seems all but certain.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel

Via Zerohedge

Tusk was speaking at the end of an EU summit in Salzburg, where the leaders of the 27 remaining states in the bloc were discussing Brexit. He said that while there were “positive elements” in May’s Chequers plan, a deal that puts the single market at risk cannot be accepted.

“Everybody shared the view that while there are positive elements in the Chequers proposal, the suggested framework for economic co-operation will not work, not least because it is undermining the single market,” Tusk said. He also said that he could not “exclude” the possibility that the UK could exit the EU in March with no deal.

May has been urging her European counterparts to accept her controversial Chequers plan which has split both the Conservative party and the broader UK population after it was thrashed out back in July. However, despite the painfully-slow negotiation process, which appears to have made little headway with just a few months left, the UK is set to leave the EU on March 29 2019 – with or without an exit deal.

The main sticking point that has emerged, and left May and the EU at loggerheads, has been how to avoid new checks on the Irish border. May has claimed that her proposals were the “only serious, credible” way to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland. She said during a press conference after the Salzburg meeting that she would not accept the EU’s “backstop” plan to avoid a Northern Ireland hard border. She said the UK would shortly be bringing forward its own proposals.

May also said that there was “a lot of hard work to be done,” adding that the UK was also preparing for the eventuality of having to leave the EU without a deal. Tusk, meanwhile, said that the upcoming October summit would be the “moment of truth” for reaching a deal, and that “if the conditions are there” another summit would be held in November to “formalize” it.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

Russia makes HUGE strides in drone technology

Published

on

The US and Israel are universally recognized leaders in the development and use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones. Thousands of American and Israeli UAVs are operating across the world daily.

The US military has recently successfully tested an air-to-air missile to turn its MQ-9 Reaper drone into an effective long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance unmanned spy aircraft capable of air-to-surface as well as air-to-air missions. This is a major breakthrough. It’s not a secret that Russia has been lagging behind in UAV development. Now its seems to be going to change with tangible progress made to narrow the gap.

Very few nations boast drones capable of high-altitude long endurance (HALE) missions. Russia is to enter the club of the chosen. In late 2017, the Russian Defense Ministry awarded a HALE UAV contract to the Kazan-based Simonov design bureau.

This month, Russian Zvezda military news TV channel showed a video (below) of Altair (Altius) heavy drone prototype aircraft number “03”, going through its first flight test.

Propelled by two RED A03/V12 500hp high fuel efficiency diesel engines, each producing a capacity of 500 hp on takeoff, the 5-ton heavy vehicle with a wingspan of 28.5 meters boasts a maximum altitude of 12km and a range of 10,000km at a cruising speed of 150-250km/h.

Wingspan: about 30 meters. Maximum speed: up to 950 km/h. Flight endurance: 48 hours. Payload: two tons, which allows the creation of a strike version. The vehicle is able to autonomously take off and land or be guided by an operator from the ground.

The UAV can carry the usual range of optical and thermal sensors as well as synthetic-aperture ground-surveillance radar with the resolution of .1 meter at the range of 35km and 1 meter at the range of 125km. The communications equipment allows real-time data exchange.

Russia’s UAV program currently underway includes the development of a range of large, small, and mid-sized drones. The Orion-E medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAV was unveiled at the MAKS 2017 air show. Its developer, Kronstadt Technologies, claims it could be modified for strike missions. The one-ton drone is going through testing now. The Orion-E is capable of automatic takeoff and landing.

It can fly continuously for 24 hours, carrying a surveillance payload of up to 200 kg to include a forward looking infra-red (FLIR) turret, synthetic aperture radar and high resolution cameras. The drone can reach a maximum altitude of 7,500 m. Its range is 250 km.

The Sukhoi design bureau is currently developing the Okhotnik (Hunter) strike drone with a range of about 3,500km. The drone made its maiden flight this year. In its current capacity, it has an anti-radar coating, and will store missiles and precision-guided bombs internally to avoid radar detection.

The Kazan-based Eniks Design Bureau is working on the small T-16 weaponized aerial vehicle able to carry 6 kg of payload.

The new Russian Korsar (Corsair) tactical surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will be upgraded to receive an electronic warfare system. Its operational range will be increased from 150km to 250km. The drone was revealed at Victory Day military parade along with the Korsar unmanned combat helicopter version.

The rotary wing drone lacks the speed and altitude of the fixed wing variant, but has a great advantage of being able to operate without landing strips and can be sea-based. Both drones can carry guided and unguided munitions. The fixed-wing version can be armed with Ataka 9M120 missiles.

The first Russian helicopter-type unmanned aerial vehicle powered by hydrogen fuel cells was presented at the Army-2018 international forum. With the horizontal cruising speed of the drone up to 60 kph, the unmanned chopper can stay in the air at least 2.5 hours to conduct reconnaissance operations. Its payload is up to 5 kg.

Last November, the Kalashnikov Concern reported that it would start production of heavy unmanned aerial vehicles capable of carrying up to several tons of cargo and operating for several days at a time without needing to recharge.

All in all, the Russian military operate 1,900 drones on a daily basis. The multi-purpose Orlan-10 with a range of 600km has become a working horse that no military operation, including combat actions in Syria, can be conducted without. Maj. Gen. Alexander Novikov,
the head of the Russian General Staff’s Office for UAV Development, Russian drones performed over 23,000 flights, lasting 140,000 hours in total.

Russia’s State Armament Program for 2018-2027 puts the creation of armed UAVs at the top of priorities’ list. Looks like the effort begins to pay off. Russia is well on the way to become second to none in UAV capability.

CLICK HERE to Support The Duran >>

Via Strategic Culture

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Advertisement

Advertisement

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!
Advertisement
Advertisement

Advertisement

The Duran Newsletter

Trending