Thursday 25 August 2016

Turkey's incursion in Syria

Blatant violation of sovereignty’: Damascus condemns Turkish operation in Jarablus

24 August, 2016

Smoke rises from the Syrian border town of Jarablus as it is pictured from the Turkish town of Karkamis, in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 24, 2016. © Umit Bektas
Smoke rises from the Syrian border town of Jarablus as it is pictured from the Turkish town of Karkamis, in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 24, 2016. © Umit Bektas / Reuters

Damascus denounced Turkey’s joint military operation with the Syrian rebels aimed at re-taking the Syrian border town of Jarablus from Islamic State militants (IS, former ISIS/ISIL). Damascus said it considers Turkish troops’ incursion into Syria a violation of its sovereignty.

Damascus condemned Turkish incursion into the Syrian territory after Turkey’s tanks and Special Forces supported by the Turkish and US aircraft and Syrian rebels launched an offensive on the Syrian northern border town of Jarablus, calling it“a national security issue.”

Turkish army tanks and Turkish-backed Syrian fighters make their way in the Syrian border town of Jarablus as it is pictured from the Turkish town of Karkamis, in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 24, 2016. © Stringer

Syrian government officials said that any side willing to fight terrorism on the Syrian territory should cooperate with the authorities and the Syrian Army, “which has been fighting terrorism for over five years,”as reported by SANA news agency.

Syrian government called the Turkish operation a “blatant violation of the sovereignty” of Syria, adding that “replacing” Islamic State with“other terrorist organizations backed directly by Turkey” cannot be regarded as a fight against terrorism.

What is happening in Jarablus now isn’t fighting terrorism as Turkey claims - rather it is replacing one type of terrorism with another,” a Syrian government official told SANA and once again called on the UN to “put an end to this aggression” and to make Turkey and the US-led coalition fulfill the UN resolutions related to closing the borders and preventing the terrorists from receiving funding and support from abroad.

The Syrian UN envoy also said Wednesday that the Syrian government did not request any such aid from Turkey and stressed that all foreign forces fighting terrorism in Syria should coordinate their actions with the Syrian Army.

Meanwhile, Russia also expressed its concern over the Turkish actions in Syria. Moscow is “deeply worried” by the developments on the Syrian-Turkish border, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that “a possibility of the further deterioration of the situation in the conflict zone” as well as “potential losses among the civilian population and the aggravation of … antagonism between Kurds and Arabs” is a “source of primary concern.”

The ministry also once again stressed that the Syrian crisis could be resolved only through peaceful means, including a broad interethnic dialog that should particularly involve Kurds.

Turkey managed to successfully hit the previously identified IS targets during its operation in the town of Jarablus, Turkish envoy to the UN said in a statement. He also said that the operation was aimed at liberating the Syrian territory bordering Turkey from terrorists and strengthening Turkish border security.
The envoy also stressed that “maintaining Syria’s territorial integrity”was one of the goals of the operation. Turkey said it supported Syrian“moderate” opposition forces during the operation.

Earlier, Syrian rebel groups supported by Turkish tanks and special forces, as well as US airpower, said they had entered Jarablus and now control about 50 percent of the town that had been held by Islamic State since 2013, according to Reuters. Rebel sources told the agency that most IS fighters had fled the town, while some had surrendered.

At the same time, Syrian Kurdish YPG militia condemned the Turkish operation by calling it a “declaration of war.”

A spokesman for the YPG Kurdish militia, Redur Xelil, denounced Turkey’s move as “blatant aggression in Syrian internal affairs.” Aldar Xelil, another influential Kurdish politician, accused Turkey of initiating an occupation of Syria, saying the operation amounted to “a declaration of war” on the autonomous administration set up by Kurdish groups in northern Syria in 2011.

In the meantime, the Kurdish Firat news agency (ANFNews) reported that 29 civilians have been killed by the advancing Turkish and allied troops so far.
Turkey launched a ground operation in northern Syria at 4 am local time (02:00 GMT), which involved tanks and Special Forces, after its artillery shelled targets across the Syrian border. The operation, called Euphrates Shield, was also supported by Turkish air forces, as well as A-10S and F-16 warplanes from the US-led coalition.

There's some real debate going on about this latest development

Andrew Korybko

24 August, 2016

It’s very fashionable nowadays for people to criticize the Kremlin for incompetency, and its recent history of controversial decisions coupled with the suspected liberal fifth-and-six-column infiltration of key national institutions gives plenty of ground for this, but sometimes people jump the gun, such as when accusing Russia of being ‘duped’ by Turkey. It’s interesting that no such criticisms are publicly leveled against Iran despite Tehran bending over backwards to Ankara during and after the failed pro-US coup attempt against Erdogan, but double standards are the norm when people engage in diatribes, and it’s always been the case that Russia has caught much more flak than anyone else whenever multipolar commentators critique their own camp. 

This is the precisely the case with the news that Turkish forces have crossed into Syria, with the most common knee-jerk reaction being that President Putin was manipulated by Erdogan as part of some large-scale Machiavellian plot, though of course, without making any mention that this charge could more rightly be directed against the Ayatollah. Anyhow, the prevailing narrative among multipolar supporters appears to be one of grief and despair, with Facebookers pulling their hair out over how stupid Russia apparently was to trust Turkey and work on helping it pivot towards Eurasia. As popular and trendy as it may be for people to jump on the bandwagon and start railing against Russia, and for as ‘healthy’ as it is for people to let off some steam and vocally vent their frustrations every once in a while, there’s actually countervailing evidence that Turkey’s operation isn’t a unipolar conspiracy but evidence of high-level multipolar coordination. 

To explain, as of the moment of writing (11.30am MSK), neither Moscow, Tehran, nor even Damascus has issued any statement condemning Turkey’s military intervention, and the website of the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) is noticeably silent about this development. All of this is very strange if one accepts the assumption that Turkey’s moves constitute an ‘invasion’ of Syria, since while the Kremlin critics might invent all sorts of explanations for why Moscow isn’t saying anything, less people can attribute a semi-plausible reason to why Tehran and Damascus aren’t publicly rabid with fury right now. Though it’s true that Turkey is even coordinating part of its operation with the assistance of US air support, there’s actually a novel, contextual touch to that which needs to be further elaborated on. 

The recent clashes between the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Kurdish YPG militia in Hasakah have been halted for the time being as a result of Russian mediation, but even when they were ongoing, many observers agreed that it’s not to anyone’s interests besides the US’ to see the SAA begin a full-on law and order operation against the Kurds, as this would dramatically impede post-conflict resolution efforts in retaining the Syrian Arab Republic’s territorial sovereignty and unitary nature. However, no such diplomatic sensitivities are present when it comes to Turkey’s capability to do this, since it’s globally known just how ferociously opposed Ankara is to the creation of a Kurdish “federalized” (internally partitioned) statelet all along its southern frontier. Hand in hand with this, most people are aware that the US is desperately trying to curry favor with Turkey and prevent its withdrawal from the unipolar fold, ergo American eagerness to publicly assist its Mideast partner in its latest operation. 

To put it more simply, Russia and the SAA – for reasons of political sensitivity and long-term strategy – do not want to attack the YPG and proactively stop it from occupying all of northern Syria, whereas Turkey has no such reservations in doing this and is more than eager to do the ‘heavy lifting’, especially if it could con the US Air Force into helping it target actual terrorists on the ground during this time. The American intent in all of this is to prove that it’s a ‘loyal ally’ of Turkey and to contribute to the attempted reconciliation that Washington is trying to carry out with Ankara, though in this case, it’s being exploited as the ultimate ‘useful idiot’ in helping the Multipolar Community in its quest to destroy the second ‘geopolitical Israel’ of “Kurdistan”. Having said all of this, naysayers will still point to the fact that Turkey is not to be trusted and that the presence of any foreign troops or the ordering of any military attacks on Syrian soil without Damascus’ permission is a violation of its sovereignty and a breach of international law, which is certainly true in this case if President Assad didn’t coordinate any of this with his Turkish counterpart. 

However ‘inconvenient’ it may be for the most gung-ho (usually foreign-based) supporters of Syria to admit, Damascus and Ankara have been engaged in secret talks for months now in the Algerian capital of Algiers, as has been repeatedly confirmed by many multiple media sources ever since this spring. Moreover, Turkey justdispatched one of its deputy intelligence chiefs to Damascus a few days ago to meet with his high-level Syrian counterparts, so this might explain the reason why Russia and Iran aren’t condemning Turkey’s incursion into Syria, nor why the Syrian officials aren’t loudly protesting against it either. More and more, the evidence is pointing to Turkey’s operation being part of a larger move that was coordinated in advance with Syria, Russia, and Iran. Nevertheless, for domestic political reasons within both Syria and Turkey, neither side is expected to admit to having coordinated any of this, and it’s likely that bellicose rhetoric might be belched from Ankara just as much as it’s predictable that Damascus will rightfully speak about the protection of its sovereignty. 

What’s most important, though, isn’t to listen so much to Turkey and Syria, but to watch and observe what Russia and Iran say and do, since these are the two countries most capable of defending Syria from any legitimate aggression against its territory and which have been firmly standing behind it for years now, albeit to differing qualitative extents though with complementary synergy (i.e. Russia’s anti-terrorist air operation and Iran’s special forces ground one).  This isn’t in any way to ‘excuse’, ‘apologize for’, or ‘explain away’ the US’ opportunistic and illegal inadvertent contribution to this coordinated multipolar campaign, but to accurately document how and why it decided to involve itself in this superficially Turkish-led venture, namely because it was cleverly misled by Erdogan into thinking that this is a precondition for the normalization of relations between both sides. 

Russia lacks the political will to cleanse the Wahhabi terrorists and Kurdish separatists from northern Syrian itself, and for as much as one may support or condemn this, it’s a statement of fact that must be taken into account when analyzing and forecasting events. With this obvious constraint being a major factor influencing the state of affairs in Syria, it’s reasonable then that Syria, Russia, and Iran wouldn’t vocally object too much to Turkey tricking the US into doing this instead out of the pursuit of its own self-interests vis-à-vis the attempted normalization with Ankara. The major qualifying variable that must be mentioned at this point is that serious Russian and Iranian condemnation of Turkey’s ongoing operation would signal that something either went wrong with their multilaterally coordinated plan, or that Turkey was just a backstabbing pro-American Trojan Horse this entire time and the skepticism surrounding Moscow and Tehran’s dedicated efforts to coax Ankara into a multipolar pivot was fully vindicated as the correct analysis all along.  

In closing, the author would like to refer the reader to his article from over a month ago about how “Regional War Looms As “Kurdistan” Crosses The Euphrates”, in which it was forecast that Russia would assemble a multipolar “Lead From Behind” coalition in pushing back against the US’ attempts to carve the second ‘geopolitical Israel’ of “Kurdistan” out of northern Syria, with it specifically being written that “it can be reasonably assumed that there’s an invisible Russian hand gently coordinating their broad regional activities” in stopping this. With Turkey crossing into Syria to preempt the YPG from unifying all of its occupied territory in northern Syria and breathing sustainable geopolitical life into the US’ latest divide-and-rule project in the Mideast, and keeping in mind the fast-paced diplomacy between Russia, Iran, and Turkey and the months-long ongoing secret negotiations between Ankara and Damascus, all empirical evidence suggests that this latest development in the War on Syria is less a unipolar conspiracy and more a multipolar coordinated plan to bring an end to this conflict and preempt the internal partitioning of Syria. 

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