Connect with us

RussiaFeed

News

Politics

Turkey calls on Russia, Iran to get Syrian army under control

Turkey is displeased that Syrian government forces are liberating areas held by Ankara’s ‘moderate’ opposition allies

Published

on

0 Views

(Al-Monitor) – Even as Russia plans further peace talks aimed at ending the Syrian civil war, elite Syrian army forces are tearing through Idlib province, wrenching control of towns along the way from jihadi forces — or, as some believe, moderate opposition fighters.

​The Syrian army’s ultimate objective is to control Idlib city. The first phase of its operations on Dec. 26 targeted Abu Zuhur base from Ashtan. The army’s elite Tiger Forces moved rapidly under Russian air support and on Jan. 9 captured 12 settlements, moving to within a few miles of the base.

These aggressive moves are making Turkey so tense that it summoned the ambassadors of Iran and Russia and warned them that the Syrian army’s moves violate the accord reached in Astana, Kazakhstan, which provides for de-escalation zones guaranteed by Iran, Russia and Turkey. Idlib is in one of those zones. Turkey — no friend to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — believes he is attacking moderate opposition forces under the guise of combating terrorists.

“Iran and Russia are guarantors of the [Syrian] regime. We are the guarantor of the moderate opposition. Iran and Russia should shoulder their responsibilities and halt the regime,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a Jan. 10 interview with Turkey’s semi-official Anadolu New Agency. “If Russia and Iran would use their weight, the regime couldn’t do what it is doing. The action against Idlib is not only air attacks; the regime is advancing inland.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan angrily repeated Turkey’s intention to launch operations against Kurds in Afrin and Manbij, which are currently behind American and Russian barriers.

“The time has come to totally eradicate the project of the separatist organization to create a terror corridor in Syria,” he said, referring to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). “We will advance the step we took with the Euphrates Shield operation and complete that process at Afrin and Manbij.”

Turkey’s anger over Idlib thus became public. Erdogan has been saying since Oct. 6, just before launching the Idlib operation, “Russia will provide security of Idlib from the periphery and Turkey internally in the town.”

Ankara is calling for pressure on Damascus, but that is not the only force involved: Iranian-supported militias are helping the Syrian army at Idlib, as are the Russians with air support.

The struggle at Idlib is considered by many to be the last act of the war against a jihadi group that is basically controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham under the leadership of al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham labels the Astana and Geneva peace processes as treason, so the cease-fire Russia formulated excludes Hayat Tahrir al-Sham as well as the Islamic State (IS). From the outset, Russia said the cease-fire covers only “moderate” opposition groups; operations against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and IS will not cease. Turkey, on the other hand — despite its approval of the Astana process — decided to place Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in a different category. Ankara first tried to reshape that organization as it had earlier with Ahrar al-Sham. When that didn’t work, Turkey tried to split Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. When that didn’t work as well, Ankara accepted the facts of life and decided to cooperate.

Ankara’s plan was to keep Idlib out of the operation no matter who controlled it until a political solution was found. In October, when Turkey first deployed its troops in Idlib, in line with the de-escalation zone plan, it was actually executing its own plans. When deploying Turkish troops north of Idlib closer to Afrin, Turkey made a deal with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and coordinated its moves with the group.

According to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham sources, there were three conditions to allow Turkey’s army to enter the area without encountering any opposition. One was that the target would be Afrin, where the Kurds have declared autonomy.A second would be that there would be no operation against groups controlling Idlib. The third was that local groups affiliated with Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield would not enter the area.

Turkey’s deployment — approved and escorted by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham — was not compatible with Iran’s and Russia’s definition of the de-escalation zone. Turkey was indirectly providing a shield for the organizations already dominating Idlib.

But cooperation with Turkey caused friction within Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. According to reports, disagreement between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham wing under Abu Mohammed al-Golani, who advocated cooperation with Turkey, and others in the militant group have caused serious, at times bloody, discord. Some sources said killings of at least 35 senior members between September and November were due to these internal frictions. Others thought Turkey was behind this liquidation campaign.

Certain groups also broke off from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham when it took action against groups that decided to go to Astana in cooperation with Turkey. The Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement and Jaish al-Ahrar split from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in July because of efforts to cleanse Idlib of Ahrar al-Sham and its allies. After Hayat Tahrir al-Sham reached an agreement with Turkey, humanitarian assistance and trade with Idlib resumed through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, certainly implying that Turkey had recognized Hayat Tahrir al-Sham as the dominant force at Idlib. There was one more significant split from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham: Ansar al-Furqan — established by former Hayat Tahrir al-Sham member Jordanian Sami al-Urediti — issued a declaration banning cooperation with the Turkish military.

A crisis was inevitable, given the divergences in interpretation of the de-escalation zones between Russia and Turkey. The operations toward Abu Zuhur continued despite Turkey’s objections.

The clashes have intensified in an area some 40 miles (64 kilometers) away from the Turkish line of deployment. Turkey has been determined to avoid any clash with the Syrian army until a political solution is found. But that risk is growing by the day.

Some incidents after the Syrian offensive against Idlib have elements that could trigger confrontation between Russia and Turkey. On Dec. 31, Khmeimim air base, used by Russia, was hit with artillery fire. The Russian Defense Ministry said two Russian soldiers were killed. Syria’s official SANA news agency, quoting Russian sources, said the Vasilyok-type artillery used in the attack had entered Syria via Turkey.

On Jan. 5, the Russian Defense Ministry said, 13 drones were used to attack Russian bases at Tartus and Khmeimim. It said seven drones were destroyed and six were seized. According to Russian newspaper Zvezda, after this attack the ministry sent letters to Turkish Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar and Turkey’s intelligence chief, Hakan Fidan, to underline the “necessity for Turkey to fulfill its obligations to assure the armed groups controlled by Turkey respect” the de-escalation arrangement.

There were comments in Russian media that Turkey intentionally directed these attacks against the Russians to secure a green light to attack Afrin.

Because the drones used in the attacks took off from Idlib’s Muazara area, Russia said that area will no longer be immune to operations. On Jan. 8, near Darat Izza north of Idlib, a rocket struck within a few feet of a Turkish army convoy. The unknown type of rocket from an unknown source was interpreted as warning fire.

It’s not yet certain where the fragile relations between Russia and Turkey will go in this tense atmosphere, but it’s clear Idlib is becoming a dangerous final stage in the war. It’s possible that, in such a risky atmosphere, Ankara is hoping to hold on to Idlib and the triangle of al-Bab, Jarablus and Azaz that Turkey had secured in Operation Euphrates Shield, to use them as a card against Damascus in a settlement process. Such a card would have serious ramifications for the fate of the Syrian president and the future of the Kurds as they seek to build their autonomy in the north.

Until he gets the concessions he seeks for these two key issues, Erdogan doesn’t want the Syrian army to approach the Turkish border and face Turkish troops.

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

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of

Latest

Multipolar World Order in the Making: Qatar Dumps OPEC

Russia and Qatar’s global strategy also brings together and includes partners like Turkey.

Published

on

Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The decision by Qatar to abandon OPEC threatens to redefine the global energy market, especially in light of Saudi Arabia’s growing difficulties and the growing influence of the Russian Federation in the OPEC+ mechanism.

In a surprising statement, Qatari energy minister Saad al-Kaabi warned OPEC on Monday December 3 that his country had sent all the necessary documentation to start the country’s withdrawal from the oil organization in January 2019. Al-Kaabi stressed that the decision had nothing to do with recent conflicts with Riyadh but was rather a strategic choice by Doha to focus on the production of LNG, which Qatar, together with the Russian Federation, is one of the largest global exporters of. Despite an annual oil extraction rate of only 1.8% of the total of OPEC countries (about 600,000 barrels a day), Qatar is one of the founding members of the organization and has always had a strong political influence on the governance of the organization. In a global context where international relations are entering a multipolar phase, things like cooperation and development become fundamental; so it should not surprise that Doha has decide to abandon OPEC. OPEC is one of the few unipolar organizations that no longer has a meaningful purpose in 2018, given the new realities governing international relations and the importance of the Russian Federation in the oil market.

Besides that, Saudi Arabia requires the organization to maintain a high level of oil production due to pressure coming from Washington to achieve a very low cost per barrel of oil. The US energy strategy targets Iranian and Russian revenue from oil exports, but it also aims to give the US a speedy economic boost. Trump often talks about the price of oil falling as his personal victory. The US imports about 10 million barrels of oil a day, which is why Trump wrongly believes that a decrease in the cost per barrel could favor a boost to the US economy. The economic reality shows a strong correlation between the price of oil and the financial growth of a country, with low prices of crude oil often synonymous of a slowing down in the economy.

It must be remembered that to keep oil prices low, OPEC countries are required to maintain a high rate of production, doubling the damage to themselves. Firstly, they take less income than expected and, secondly, they deplete their oil reserves to favor the strategy imposed by Saudi Arabia on OPEC to please the White House. It is clearly a strategy that for a country like Qatar (and perhaps Venezuela and Iran in the near future) makes little sense, given the diplomatic and commercial rupture with Riyadh stemming from tensions between the Gulf countries.

In contrast, the OPEC+ organization, which also includes other countries like the Russian Federation, Mexico and Kazakhstan, seems to now to determine oil and its cost per barrel. At the moment, OPEC and Russia have agreed to cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day, contradicting Trump’s desire for high oil output.

With this last choice Qatar sends a clear signal to the region and to traditional allies, moving to the side of OPEC+ and bringing its interests closer in line with those of the Russian Federation and its all-encompassing oil and gas strategy, two sectors in which Qatar and Russia dominate market share.

In addition, Russia and Qatar’s global strategy also brings together and includes partners like Turkey (a future energy hub connecting east and west as well as north and south) and Venezuela. In this sense, the meeting between Maduro and Erdogan seems to be a prelude to further reorganization of OPEC and its members.

The declining leadership role of Saudi Arabia in the oil and financial market goes hand in hand with the increase of power that countries like Qatar and Russia in the energy sectors are enjoying. The realignment of energy and finance signals the evident decline of the Israel-US-Saudi Arabia partnership. Not a day goes by without corruption scandals in Israel, accusations against the Saudis over Khashoggi or Yemen, and Trump’s unsuccessful strategies in the commercial, financial or energy arenas. The path this doomed

trio is taking will only procure less influence and power, isolating them more and more from their opponents and even historical allies.

Moscow, Beijing and New Delhi, the Eurasian powerhouses, seem to have every intention, as seen at the trilateral summit in Buenos Aires, of developing the ideal multipolar frameworks to avoid continued US dominance of the oil market through shale revenues or submissive allies as Saudi Arabia, even though the latest spike in production is a clear signal from Riyadh to the USA. In this sense, Qatar’s decision to abandon OPEC and start a complex and historical discussion with Moscow on LNG in the format of an enlarged OPEC marks the definitive decline of Saudi Arabia as a global energy power, to be replaced by Moscow and Doha as the main players in the energy market.

Qatar’s decision is, officially speaking, unconnected to the feud triggered by Saudi Arabia against the small emirate. However, it is evident that a host of factors has led to this historic decision. The unsuccessful military campaign in Yemen has weakened Saudi Arabia on all fronts, especially militarily and economically. The self-inflicted fall in the price of oil is rapidly consuming Saudi currency reserves, now at a new low of less than 500 billion dollars. Events related to Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) have de-legitimized the role of Riyadh in the world as a reliable diplomatic interlocutor. The internal and external repression by the Kingdom has provoked NGOs and governments like Canada’s to issue public rebukes that have done little to help MBS’s precarious position.

In Syria, the victory of Damascus and her allies has consolidated the role of Moscow in the region, increased Iranian influence, and brought Turkey and Qatar to the multipolar side, with Tehran and Moscow now the main players in the Middle East. In terms of military dominance, there has been a clear regional shift from Washington to Moscow; and from an energy perspective, Doha and Moscow are turning out to be the winners, with Riyadh once again on the losing side.

As long as the Saudi royal family continues to please Donald Trump, who is prone to catering to Israeli interests in the region, the situation of the Kingdom will only get worse. The latest agreement on oil production between Moscow and Riyad signals that someone in the Saudi royal family has probably figured this out.

Countries like Turkey, India, China, Russia and Iran understand the advantages of belonging to a multipolar world, thereby providing a collective geopolitical ballast that is mutually beneficial. The energy alignment between Qatar and the Russian Federation seems to support this general direction, a sort of G2 of LNG gas that will only strengthen the position of Moscow on the global chessboard, while guaranteeing a formidable military umbrella for Doha in case of a further worsening of relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

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

Latest

Constantinople: Ukrainian Church leader is now uncanonical

October 12 letter proclaims Metropolitan Onuphry as uncanonical and tries to strong-arm him into acquiescing through bribery and force.

Seraphim Hanisch

Published

on

The pressure in Ukraine kept ratcheting up over the last few days, with a big revelation today that Patriarch Bartholomew now considers Metropolitan Onuphy “uncanonical.” This news was published on 6 December by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (running under the Moscow Patriarchate).

This assessment marks a complete 180-degree turn by the leader of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, and it further embitters the split that has developed to quite a major row between this church’s leadership and the Moscow Patriarchate.

OrthoChristian reported this today (we have added emphasis):

A letter of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine was published yesterday by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in which the Patriarch informed the Metropolitan that his title and position is, in fact, uncanonical.

This assertion represents a negation of the position held by Pat. Bartholomew himself until April of this year, when the latest stage in the Ukrainian crisis began…

The same letter was independently published by the Greek news agency Romfea today as well.

It is dated October 12, meaning it was written just one day after Constantinople made its historic decision to rehabilitate the Ukrainian schismatics and rescind the 1686 document whereby the Kiev Metropolitanate was transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church, thereby, in Constantinople’s view, taking full control of Ukraine.

In the letter, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that after the council, currently scheduled for December 15, he will no longer be able to carry his current title of “Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine.”

The Patriarch immediately opens his letter with Constantinople’s newly-developed historical claim about the jurisdictional alignment of Kiev: “You know from history and from indisputable archival documents that the holy Metropolitanate of Kiev has always belonged to the jurisdiction of the Mother Church of Constantinople…”

Constantinople has done an about-face on its position regarding Ukraine in recent months, given that it had previously always recognized the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate as the sole canonical primate in Ukraine.

…The bulk of the Patriarch’s letter is a rehash of Constantinople’s historical and canonical arguments, which have already been laid out and discussed elsewhere. (See also here and here). Pat. Bartholomew also writes that Constantinople stepped into the Ukrainian ecclesiastical sphere as the Russian Church had not managed to overcome the schisms that have persisted for 30 years.

It should be noted that the schisms began and have persisted precisely as anti-Russian movements and thus the relevant groups refused to accept union with the Russian Church.

Continuing, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that his position and title are uncanonical:

Addressing you as ‘Your Eminence the Metropolitan of Kiev’ as a form of economia [indulgence/condescension—OC] and mercy, we inform you that after the elections for the primate of the Ukrainian Church by a body that will consist of clergy and laity, you will not be able ecclesiologically and canonically to bear the title of Metropolitan of Kiev, which, in any case, you now bear in violation of the described conditions of the official documents of 1686.

He also entreats Met. Onuphry to “promptly and in a spirit of harmony and unity” participate, with the other hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in the founding council of the new Ukrainian church that Constantinople is planning to create, and in the election of its primate.

The Constantinople head also writes that he “allows” Met. Onuphry to be a candidate for the position of primate.

He further implores Met. Onuphry and the UOC hierarchy to communicate with Philaret Denisenko, the former Metropolitan of Kiev, and Makary Maletich, the heads of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” and the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” respectively—both of which have been subsumed into Constantinople—but whose canonical condemnations remain in force for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The hierarchs of the Serbian and Polish Churches have also officially rejected the rehabilitation of the Ukrainian schismatics.

Pat. Bartholomew concludes expressing his confidence that Met. Onuphry will decide to heal the schism through the creation of a new church in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Metropolitan Onuphry’s leadership is recognized as the sole canonical Orthodox jurisdiction in Ukraine by just about every other canonical Orthodox Jurisdiction besides Constantinople. Even NATO member Albania, whose expressed reaction was “both sides are wrong for recent actions” still does not accept the canonicity of the “restored hierarchs.”

In fact, about the only people in this dispute that seem to be in support of the “restored” hierarchs, Filaret and Makary, are President Poroshenko, Patriarch Bartholomew, Filaret and Makary… and NATO.

While this letter was released to the public eye yesterday, the nearly two months that Metropolitan Onuphry has had to comply with it have not been helped in any way by the actions of both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Ukrainian government.

Priests of the Canonical Church in Ukraine awaiting interrogation by the State authorities

For example, in parallel reports released on December 6th, the government is reportedly accusing canonical priests in Ukraine of treason because they are carrying and distributing a brochure entitled (in English): The Ukrainian Orthodox Church: Relations with the State. The Attitude Towards the Conflict in Donbass and to the Church Schism. Questions and Answers.

In a manner that would do any American liberal proud, these priests are being accused of inciting religious hatred, though really all they are doing is offering an explanation for the situation in Ukraine as it exists.

A further piece also released yesterday notes that the Ukrainian government rehabilitated an old Soviet-style technique of performing “inspections of church artifacts” at the Pochaev Lavra. This move appears to be both intended to intimidate the monastics who are living there now, who are members of the canonical Church, as well as preparation for an expected forcible takeover by the new “united Church” that is under creation. The brotherhood characterized the inspections in this way:

The brotherhood of the Pochaev Lavra previously characterized the state’s actions as communist methods of putting pressure on the monastery and aimed at destroying monasticism.

Commenting on the situation with the Pochaev Lavra, His Eminence Archbishop Clement of Nizhyn and Prilusk, the head of the Ukrainian Church’s Information-Education Department, noted:

This is a formal raiding, because no reserve ever built the Pochaev Lavra, and no Ministry of Culture ever invested a single penny to restoring the Lavra, and the state has done nothing to preserve the Lavra in its modern form. The state destroyed the Lavra, turned it into a psychiatric hospital, a hospital for infectious diseases, and so on—the state has done nothing more. And now it just declares that it all belongs to the state. No one asked the Church, the people that built it. When did the Lavra and the land become state property? They belonged to the Church from time immemorial.

With the massive pressure both geopolitically and ecclesiastically building in Ukraine almost by the day, it is anyone’s guess what will happen next.

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

Latest

Ukrainian leadership is a party of war, and it will continue as long as they’re in power – Putin

“We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.

RT

Published

on

By

Via RT…


Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has branded the Ukrainian leadership a “party of war” which would continue fueling conflicts while they stay in power, giving the recent Kerch Strait incident as an example.

“When I look at this latest incident in the Black Sea, all what’s happening in Donbass – everything indicates that the current Ukrainian leadership is not interested in resolving this situation at all, especially in a peaceful way,” Putin told reporters during a media conference in the aftermath of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

This is a party of war and as long as they stay in power, all such tragedies, all this war will go on.

The Kiev authorities are craving war primarily for two reasons – to rip profits from it, and to blame all their own domestic failures on it and actions of some sort of “aggressors.”

“As they say, for one it’s war, for other – it’s mother. That’s reason number one why the Ukrainian government is not interested in a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” Putin stated.

Second, you can always use war to justify your failures in economy, social policy. You can always blame things on an aggressor.

This approach to statecraft by the Ukrainian authorities deeply concerns Russia’s President. “We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been soaring after the incident in the Kerch Strait. Last weekend three Ukrainian Navy ships tried to break through the strait without seeking the proper permission from Russia. Following a tense stand-off and altercation with Russia’s border guard, the vessels were seized and their crews detained over their violation of the country’s border.

While Kiev branded the incident an act of “aggression” on Moscow’s part, Russia believes the whole Kerch affair to be a deliberate “provocation” which allowed Kiev to declare a so-called “partial” martial law ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election.

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