Monday 24 October 2016

Sultan Erdogan's designs in Northern Syria

The first two headlines are from today.

Below that Stephen Ba-Noon of Israeli News Live discusses the issues behind the Turkish expansion

Turkey 'obliged' to press on to Syria's al-Bab, Erdogan says

22 October, 2016

Turkish-backed forces will press on to the Islamic State-held town of al-Bab in Syria, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday, emphasizing Ankara's drive to sweep militants and Syrian Kurdish fighters from territory near its border.

The Syrian military, however, said the presence of Turkish troops on Syrian soil was unacceptable and a "dangerous escalation and flagrant breach of Syria's sovereignty."

Backed by Turkish tanks, special forces and air strikes, a group of rebels fighting under the loose banner of the Free Syrian Army crossed into northern Syria in August and took the border town of Jarablus from Islamic State largely unopposed.

The rebels have since extended those gains and now control an area of roughly 1,270 square km (490 square miles) in northern Syria. While Turkey's initial focus was on driving Islamic State from Jarablus, much of its efforts have been spent on stopping the advance of U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters.

"They say, 'Don't go to al-Bab'. We are obliged to, we will go there," Erdogan said in a speech at the opening of an education center in the northwest province of Bursa. "We have to prepare a region cleansed from terror."

Erdogan also said that Turkey would do what was necessary with its coalition partners in Syria's Raqqa, but would not work with the Syrian Kurdish fighters.


Differences over Syria have caused strains between NATO allies Turkey and the United States. Washington is backing the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, seeing it as an effective partner in the fight against Islamic State. Turkey fears the militia's advance will embolden Kurdish militants at home.

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has carried out a three-decade insurgency that has killed more than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast.

Both sides are supposed to be fighting Islamic State in Syria, but escalating clashes between them have highlighted the conflicting agendas of Ankara and Washington in the increasingly complex battlefield of northern Syria.

Since Wednesday, dozens of Turkish rockets and air strikes have pounded territory taken recently from Islamic State by Kurdish fighters allied to the U.S.-backed Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) militia, a monitor and militia spokesperson said.

Turkey's military on Saturday confirmed that it had hit 72 Islamic State and 50 Syrian Kurdish fighter targets in northern Syria by early Friday morning.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said there was heavy fighting on Saturday on the frontline between Turkish-backed forces and Kurdish fighters allied to the U.S.-backed SDF militia west of Marea. Marea is a town in Turkey-backed rebel territory on the way to al-Bab.

The Observatory said around a dozen fighters on both sides have died in the past three days of escalating fighting.

If Turkey-backed rebels push further south through the current battleground with Kurdish fighters, they will come into contact with territory controlled by Syrian government and allied forces north of the city of Aleppo.

Statements from the Kurdish fighters on Saturday said an intense attack was being waged by Turkey-backed forces with tanks and heavy shelling. The Observatory and the Kurdish fighters said tanks had been seen crossing from Turkey from more than one border crossing.

The Syrian military said earlier this week it would bring down any Turkish war planes entering Syrian air space and reiterated its warning against Ankara on Saturday.

"The presence of Turkish military units inside the Syrian border is totally unacceptable in any form. We will deal with them as an occupying force and will confront them by all possible means," the Syrian Army General Command said.

Erdogan proclaims Mosul and Aleppo belong to Turkey

23 October, 2016

ANKARA, TURKEY (1:20 P.M.) - Speaking during an opening ceremony for an educational institution in Bursa on Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan compared the way that Syrians and Iraqis have been driven away from homes because of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS; ISIS/ISIL), to how Turkish people were once forced out from the same cities.

Erdogan added that the cities of Mosul and Aleppo belong to the Turkish people.

Video footage of this speech was broadcasted by Ruptly on Sunday morning:

This is not the first time that Erdogan has said something this controversial; just last week, the Turkish President told Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider Al-'Abadi, he should know his place and that they are not equals.

Putin Issues Ultimatum to US while Turkey Crosses Syrian Red Line

President Putin Issues Ultimatum to US and NATO while Turkey Crosses Syrian Red Line. In such troubling events moves the world closer to conflict. One must wonder is the US policy boots on the ground in Mosul is not setting the stage for a direct attack on Syria in coordination with Turkey. Now that Turkey has encroached on Russia’s Red Line inside Syria. Turkish tanks have entered the town of Marie only 10 miles from Aleppo Russia’s Red Line that alter the confrontation into a global war.


2 days ago - 36°28′N 37°11′E

Turkey Tanks In Mare Town, northern Aleppo

Erdogan on Tuesday reaffirmed his commitment to Syria’s territorial integrity, stressing the military operation in its north only aimed to bring peace to the region.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday reaffirmed his commitment to Syria’s territorial integrity, stressing the military operation in its north only aimed to bring peace to the region. "We have no expectations whatsoever with regards to the territory of Syria. Syria belongs to the Syrian people. Nobody should ever have any plans whatsoever for the Syrian territory," he claimed.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Turkish President Erdogan has defended his decision to send ground troops into Syria claiming that his incursion had helped establish "peace, balance and stability in a region taken over by hopelessness"; however political analyst Mehmet Yuva has warned Ankara against crossing "Russia's red line" in the country.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has used the UN General Assembly platform to defend his invasion into Syria claiming it has helped restore "peace, balance and stability in a region taken over by hopelessness". 

Turkish officials have vowed to continue military operations in the border region with Syria "until all threats to its national security are removed." Sputnik Turkiye discussed the issue with Mehmet Yuva, Syrian political analyst of Turkish origin and international security expert at Damascus University. 

"It is only too clear that Turkey is striving to play a more substantial role in defining Syria's political future. Or, at least to ensure that the groups it supports take part in this process," Mehmet Yuva told Sputnik. The political analyst noted that such a decision might seem quite natural for the neighboring country. 

However, he added,  if Ankara, on the one hand, wants to create a safe zone along its common border with Syria and prevent the unification of the Kurdish cantons, and, on the other, eliminate Daesh in the region, it should act more transparent and establish contact with other players in the region, and, first of all, with the Syrian government. 

 Ankara Has No Plans to Use Own Infantry in Euphrates Shield Operation Meanwhile, until now Turkey has failed to demonstrate its eagerness to set up contact with the central Syrian leadership for further settlement of the crisis in the country. 

"This causes serious concerns amongst Russia and Iran who expected a more active approach from Turkey in the setting up of a direct dialogue with Damascus," Yuva told Sputnik. 

"Taking into account all the above, Ankara should not forget that its military presence in Syria is possible only thanks to Moscow in the first place, which did not impede its Euphrates Shield operation," he said. 

The expert noted that the political and military presence of Turkish armed forces on the territory from the western Euphrates towards the city of Azaz, including the city of al-Bab, does not trigger Moscow's concern. 

However Russia, he added, firmly insists that it is the Syrian government army which should control the line from Aleppo and Idlib to the north of Lattakia. "This is the red line for Russia. 

In case the Turkish troops cross this line, it could drastically alter the situation in the region and trigger the process of turning the "proxy hybrid wars" into direct military actions between foreign forces in Syria – and this means a new world war," warned the political analyst. 

Commenting on the Turkish Euphrates Shield military operation, the expert noted that Ankara claimed that its main aim is to ensure security of its border territories and clear it from Daesh and other terrorist groups. 

However Mehmet Yuva pointed out that it is being carried out in cooperation with the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters and with the support of the Turkish military. 

"Everyone knows only too well that is the FSA is all about and who it consists of," the expert said. Besides, he added, it has become known that the Ahrar al-Sham group, a coalition of multiple Islamist and Salafist units also intends to take part in the operation. 

All the above has made the expert wonder what Turkey is really after from the military operation in Aleppo. It could be the case that it is planning a new operation with those groups which were previously defeated in Aleppo, or alternatively Turkey may want to prevent the closure of the frontline in Aleppo and to continue further support of the opposition groups in the region. 

The real reasons are yet to be revealed, Yuva concluded

HUGE: Putin Issues a Ultimatum to the United States

 In recent weeks, tensions have risen to a truly dangerous level. We must renew dialogue now.

Italian PM Renzi blocks new Russia sanctions over Aleppo at EU summit

Russian ships have visited Spain's Ceuta port.

Spain has sparked an international outcry after it let Russian ships dock at its port in African exclave Ceuta.

The country has been accused of ‘absurdity and hypocrisy’ after allowing three Russian navy ships to dock in its North African territory.

UK MPs have criticized Madrid’s decision to allow the vessels, which included a heavily-armed destroyer, to take on food, fuel and supplies.

The ships docked in Ceuta just two weeks ago as tensions increased between NATO and Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

Spain, which is a NATO member, is being accused of double standards as they form part of an alliance which is standing up against Russia over the ongoing Ukraine conflict.

The Ceuta disclosure has highlighted Spain’s hypocrisy over Gibraltar and recent tension over British sovereignty while Spain persists in controlling Ceuta and Melilla, their territories some fifty miles away in Morocco.

In Parliament last night (Wednesday) Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell said: “How is the defence alliance supposed to work if members of NATO behave like this?

It is completely perverse and highlights the absurdity and short-sightedness of Spain’s position. We are supposed to be allies.

It is also blatantly hypocritical to allow Russian warships to use a territory which is not part of mainland Spain while complaining to the UK about us having Gibraltar.

Spain is going to achieve nothing by pursuing these shoddy and nonsensical policies.”

Just three weeks ago the Royal Navy sent destroyer HMS Dragon to track Russia’s Vice Admiral Kulakov as it approached British waters.

Although the Russian ship stopped short of entering British territorial waters military experts believe that Russia is testing out UK defences in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.

Yesterday the Russian fleet passes through the English channel panicking the British Establishment

The Russian navy anti-submarine ship Severomorsk which is being monitored through the English Channel with a tanker and a support ship (file picture)

  • Four Russia ships passed through the through the Strait of Dover
  • They had been carrying out military exercises in the North Sea
  • Cameron does not want a 'confrontational relationship' with Russia

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