Turkey vs. the Kurds – The New Syrian Proxy War

The more I read the headlines the more I hope our nukes are no longer at Incerlik air base in Turkey.  U.S. policy in Syria has morphed into this zombie strategy of advancing the “Assad Must Go” no matter what.

No matter how many times the pro-Assad coalition shoots our goals in the head, the more our tactics shift so that we can keep coming.

It’s embarrassing, really.  When things become an unmitigated failure on the ground, we normally just ‘declare victory and leave.’  But, in the case of Syria, where the groundwork for this invasion began fifteen years ago, we simply won’t let it go.

Syria was to be the crowning achievement of the Brzezinski/Wolfowitz Doctrine of sowing chaos in Central Asia and isolating Iran from Russia and both of them from China.

An atomized or compliant Syria would be the wedge which would put a docile Turkey on Russia’s southern border.

It would create a staging ground for further destabilization of Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Iraq, pushing Iran’s influence in the region back behind its borders.

At the same time we would cut Iran off from the world via economic sanctions against not only it but anyone who dared to business with it.

From there the entire continent could be kept in the dark ages, fighting internecine tribal wars for another two generations while gunboat dollar diplomacy would perpetuate the conflict by selling arms and drugs to all sides.

It was a nice plan if you are a would-be world emperor.  There’s only one problem.

The Power of No

Putin said no.  Iran said no.  And there was no way to stop them from saying no strongly enough to use their logistical advantages against us.  This exposed our duplicity of ‘fighting ISIS.’

We were behind all of this but it was the proxies who were going to be blamed for it.

And that’s where Turkey comes in.  President Erdogan was perfectly willing to go along with the plan until it became obvious that we couldn’t seal the deal in Syria.

When Russian air support and Iranian/Hezbollah ground support turned the war around it exposed his complicity in ISIS’s oil trading to finance ‘the caliphate.’

Erdogan saw the writing on the wall. He was to be the patsy.

He began backing off on the U.S.’s plans.  He cut deals with Putin over Turkstream, nuclear power and missile defense systems.  He stopped the free flow of terrorists between Idlib and Aleppo, around the Kurdish enclave of Afrin.

Without Erdogan doing this, Aleppo would never have been liberated. The war would be a quagmire.

Once this path was set in stone, the Saudis tried to blame Qatar last summer after Trump read everyone in the Arab world (and Israel too) the riot act on funding terrorism.

The biggest miscalculation in the Syrian war was the failed attempt to remove Erdogan.  We were behind that.  Putin saved Erdogan’s life.  And for that the foundation of the current situation was laid.

Turkey’s military intrusion into northern Syria last year was met with zero howls of protest from Iran, Russia and Hezbollah.  The only ones to complain were Syria, which they must for legal reasons.

But, Turkey’s actions, despite some two-faced rhetoric from Erdogan, has been solidly in its own interests which dovetail with Russia’s goals to secure the territorial integrity of Syria.  And for the military brass in charge of our operations there to not see or expect this is incredibly short-sighted, and now, frankly, incompetent.

Defense Secretary James Mattis continues to not get it when it comes to Turkey and the Syrian Kurds.  Mattis still wants to use the ISIS hobgoblin to sell a blatant abrogation of Syria’s sovereignty and U.S. colonization of Kurdish-controlled territory to pressure Iran.

From RT:

He urged Turkey to exercise restraint, stating that it has already disrupted the peaceful return of refugees and could be seen as an opportunity for Al-Qaeda and IS.

“This could be exploited by ISIS and Al-Qaeda, obviously, that we’re not staying focused on them right now. And obviously it risks exacerbating the humanitarian crisis that most of Syria is going through,” Mattis said

At the same time Secretary of State Rex Tillerson looks completely out of the loop in Syria, backing off on the plan to build a 30,000 strong ISIS 2.0 “Border Security Force” in the region east of the Euphrates River where Kurdish SDF forces have had to stand by and watch Mattis’ military escort ISIS fighters out of Raqqa and Deir Ezzor to fight the Assad government in the future.

With friends like these why would Erdogan show any restraint whatsoever?

The Wrath of Erdo-Khan

The biggest tell that this is now a full-blown proxy war is the Russians pulling all military assets out of there before Turkey’s move.

In fact, after he’s done in Afrin, Erdogan will have his military move east and begin sweeping the entire region of U.S./SDF forces along the Turkish/Syrian border.

And that sets up a potentially ugly outcome for the U.S. Its NATO ally is already attacking our proxy army while our leadership can only issue weak verbal protests.

Why?  Because to do more would be to admit that there are more than 2000 troops in Syria.  It would have to admit we are building more than a dozen bases around the country.  We’re in violation of international law, but the U.S. public doesn’t know the extent.

Notice also that President Trump isn’t saying squat about Turkey.  All the minions of the Deep State are – Pence is in Israel, Tillerson still keeps to the “Assad Must Go” script and Mattis is actively handling diplomatic duties.

What happens when the Turkish army moves against Manbij or crosses the Euphrates?

Remember, the Syrian Arab Army still controls two major towns in the hart of SDF-controlled territory.  The U.S. dare not attack them in response to Turkey advancing east.

Moreover,  I see no hew and cry from the usual suspects at the U.N. over this.  The U.K. came out in support of Turkey.

At some point everyone acts in their own best interest.  And for Erdogan, acting as Russia’s proxy army against the U.S.’s proxy army is the height of survival instinct.

Russia’s Proxy War

Meanwhile, Russia is letting everyone know that the drone strike on the airbase in Latakia was a one-off event.  Another recent RT report has S-400 missile defense systems being delivered to both the air base that was attacked as well as the naval station at Tartus where the Russian navy is parked.

Don’t be surprised if S-400’s make their way to Damascus in the near future.  It would be a provocation to Israel for sure, but at some point they have to know that continued aggression against the Assad government will end.

And while Russia can’t and shouldn’t directly intervene over Israel’s bombing campaign, giving Syria the tools it needs to defend itself it can do.

These S-400’s are a clear statement by the Russians that they will not tolerate further harassment for political purposes.  They will be staying in Syria.  The drone strike was meant as a warning to Putin.  It was also an ill-conceived plot to weaken his political support at home during the election season.

Putin knows the U.S. Deep State will not stop trying to wriggle out of the trap set for them in Syria.  He knows how far they are willing to go to win.  No plot is too desperate and if is sparks another war on Syrian soil, so be it.

But, all it will do is erode what bargaining position we have left in Syria.  The choice now is orderly retreat or a rout at the hands of our NATO ally, who will not stop until the Kurdish threat to Turkey’s integrity is over.

And with it the ignominious end of Zbigniew Brzezinski’s dream of a subjugated Asia.

8 thoughts on “Turkey vs. the Kurds – The New Syrian Proxy War

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  4. Tom, you are an excellent analyst in the ‘game’ of geopolitics. You know how to look at the board and see strategic problems and strategic advantages. Unfortunately, I don’t think that you understand Israel, or the Arabs. You get some of it, but not the most important part.
    Israel’s involvement in Syria is all about survival. Completely. Absolutely. Without question. Nor does Israel want to conquer Syria. They might have thought that this was possible in the heady days of the early ’80s – when they were winning in Southern Lebanon. But, when they realized that they couldn’t hold on to Lebanon, they understood – and hopefully STILL understand – that they cannot rule the Arabs.
    The morons who keep talking about a ‘greater Israel’ are just that – Morons.
    The bigger question is whether ANYONE can rule the Arabs – even themselves.
    My personal belief is that Trump with throw away Obama’s plan for the domination of Western Asia and restart from positions of strength. Obama lost Turkey. Obama also lost Iraq. Obama also mismanaged his attempt to destroy Syria.
    What Obama should have done was forcefully encourage Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia into a closer relationship. Trump is doing that, and it looks like Trump is using Israel’s relationship with the Kurds, to good effect.
    And, whoever set up that coup against Erdogan… should be fired. That failure is a sign of incompetence. The question is who failed? And, why?
    Now, all of that is a fairly dispassionate view of things, without the ‘moral dimension’. And, we need a ‘moral dimension’. Without it, failure is assured. The problem is that we don’t know what promises have been made to the players in the region.
    If the American Empire lies, she will eventually lose her allies – which means that she WILL lose her allies, since telling the truth is a problem for Washington.
    Tom, you need to look a little more closely at the tribalism among the Arabs. We tend to look at the fighting in Syria as a civil war. It isn’t. At least… not completely.
    In reality, it’s a tribal war. And, it’s why ISIS can suddenly pop up in unexpected places in Syria. It isn’t really ISIS. It’s just some tribe taking advantage of a situation and doing what it does naturally.
    What comes natural to the Arab tribes in the Middle East?
    Killing other tribes.
    Seriously. Arab tribes in the Middle East have been killing each other since there were Arab tribes in the Middle East.
    The only places where tribes seem to have less of a hold, are the ‘big cities’. It’s harder to keep tribalism alive in a city, since the ‘us’ vs ‘them’ mentality tends to suffer from erosion as you start to see ‘them’ as people like yourself.
    Iran and Russia will attempt to impose their will on the Syrian tribes. And, they’ve had mixed success, but more success than the Obama administration had. The question is whether Trump can win over the tribes.
    I doubt it, but anything is possible.
    The bigger threat to this Israel-Jordan-Saudi axis in the Middle East, is the eventual fall of Egypt. Egypt is going to implode, and it will distract everyone from this effort to keep Russia and Iran out of Syria.
    Keep up the good work, Tom!
    Lord willing, this article will be posted on Omega Shock, on Friday.

  5. Thanks for the analysis, praise, etc. I appreciate the feedback greatly. But, I do understand that Syria is about survival for Israel, just like I understand that Syria is about survival for Russia.

    Russia can no more afford to have an atomized Syria as a petrie dish for chaos than Israel can have an unchecked Iran and Hezbollah on its doorstep.

    Have you read some of my past work? Because if you did you would realize that back in May of last year I realized the big plan was for a Grand Bargain in the Middle East where the U.S. guarantees Israel and Saudi Arabia’s behavior and Russia guarantees Iran’s and Hezbollah’s.

    Turkey is the wild card that needed to be flipped for Russia to begin contemplating this plan. Because without an explicit guarantee from the U.S. the Israelis will not, rightly, sign any peace deal with the Arabs because they are, as you say, untrustworthy.

    After that, the tribalism issue is the lever by which outside forces can manipulate the situation. Where I disagree with most analysts is that removing Assad from power will not stabilize the situation to anyone’s satisfaction.

    The U.S. has a grudge against the Assad family going back more than 2 generations now and the cold warriors in charge of policy, being military men, still see the board in strategic terms… plus ones and minus ones… a zero-sum game.

    When in reality it is not and that is the fatal conceit of the current strategy. Trump is willing to go along with this because he has no choice while he goes after the domestic spy network arrayed against him in Washington.

    Putin through Erdogan will beat Mattis in Syria and eventually cooler heads will prevail.

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