As Syria News reported last Friday nine civilians were murdered in Mhardeh. At the same time, UNSC President Nikki Haley warned Syria against fighting terrorism and terrorists in Syria.
While these vermin beyond description- who even the great wordsmith Oscar Wilde could never have hoped to describe anywhere near adequately- were murdering Syrians, Recep Erdogan seems to have prevailed at the tripartite Russia/Turkey/Iran meeting in Tehran to discuss what should happen in Idlib. It may be a stretch to call it a train wreck, but the three leaders were engaged in a public debate, Hassan Rouhani and Vladimir Putin on one side, Erdogan on the other. Rouhani was closest to Syrian government desires to conduct a full operation to cleanse the province of terrorist groups. Putin, while expressing the urgency to destroy Al-Qaeda forces, was sympathetic to Erdogan’s desires to exclude Turkish backed Free Syrian Army forces from anti-terrorist operations.
Erdogan showed once again that with friends like him who needs enemies by proposing a ceasefire. The ceasefires associated with the de-escalation agreements were not indefinite in nature and excluded ISIS, Al-Qaeda and those who allied with them. With Hayat Tahrir al-Sham HTS (Al-Qaeda) a dominant faction in control of heavily populated areas of Idlib, it is clear they must be confronted, at the same time recognizing it is imperative to protect civilian populations by carrying out carefully targeted attacks and seeking to establish humanitarian corridors and the provision of humanitarian aid.
It is almost as though the terrorists launched an attack in anticipation of the welcome news from their perspective.
RT reported, “Erdogan reiterated his government’s concern over the potential death toll of an offensive in highly populated Idlib”
Did that make everyone gasp? Well here’s more: “objecting to a major operation there because it would likely cause a major exodus of refugees across the border, with extremists potentially sneaking in with refugees.”
Double whammy to have you keeled over with laughter…or should that be tears.
Concerns for refugees??!! Erdogan steals their organs. Refugee camps in Turkey became harvesting centers for it.
“Extremists sneaking in with refugees” It happens all the time, although it is certainly outstripped by Erdogan’s henchmen sending terrorists the other way to wreak havoc across Syria, a prime driver in the campaign to overthrow Bashar al-Assad going back to 2011 in the quest to reshape Syria in the interests of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and their major western allies.
Ranking terrorists in terms of savagery seems a futile and pointless task. What is the difference between a child rapist and a killer? Can you really separate groups when they all unleash widespread death and destruction and subjugate citizens, all with the ultimate goal of expelling the Assad government and radically changing Syria into a state unrecognizable from its previous secular form?
Saying this, Erdogan really did cozy up to the worst of the worst. He supplied arms and equipment to ISIS, the Turkish border acting as an open thoroughfare for all the weapons the savages needed to sweep across northern Syria, engulfing everything in their path. The US let their planes idle, watching ISIS roll across the desert in shiny new Toyota’s, the RPG’s and machine guns glistening in the desert heat.
Erdogan had a roaring trade in illicit oil sales with ISIS, who smuggled it with ease over the border from Iraq and Syria. It was a two-way exchange: fighters, arms, and cash going in; oil coming out. The discovery of this led to the death of reporter Serena Shim, a crime the US government appeared unruffled by, never undertaking the investigation of her heinous death demanded.
It wasn’t until Russian jets took aim at the very vulnerable tankers laden with Syria’s riches that this came to a glorious end. Erdogan lashed out, shooting down a Russian SU24 from the back which did not travel into Turkish airspace for 1 second, let alone 17.
WHAT DOES ERDOGAN WANT IN IDLIB?
The Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah released the components of Turkey’s plan for Idlib. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out it effectively means annexing Syrian territory, entrenching Turkish proxy Free Syrian Army forces, while falsely legitimizing their presence through a trilateral agreement, one made it should be mentioned without the presence of the country it concerns; Syria. The concession to Russia in securing its base in Latakia almost seems like a morsel tossed to keep it happy, sweetening an otherwise unpalatable deal.
Russia, in any case, does not require Turkish assistance to secure its base. On the contrary, it has regularly been blasting drones sent in feeble attempts to attack it by Turkish backed terrorist groups. Russia is viewed as a partner, edging toward ally status with Turkey, moving ahead with trade and investment deals such as Turkstream; the memory of Turkey shooting down the SU24 fading quietly away.
Erdogan Plans to Keep Control of Idlib Using His Terrorist Proxies
Erdogan wants to stop the influx of refugees into Turkey, where 3 million Syrians are currently located. He may feign concern for them, but let’s not forget that he has done more than probably any other leader to unleash destruction on Syria and has allowed terrorist cells to roam refugee camps for organ harvesting as previously mentioned.
Integration of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham into the Turkey-supported FSA/ Jabhat Tahrir Suriya alliance is the real objective, rather than the stated aim of disbanding HTS. Erdogan can follow the example of the US, who integrated ISIS elements into new formations alongside the SDF forces they had previously fought. Alliances in Syria change as quickly as the weather for mercenaries and their state sponsors, as they seamlessly adapt to changing conditions on the ground. Erdogan himself has had a rocky relationship with ISIS, merrily buying oil from them but then watching relations turn sour when he couldn’t protect them from Syrian and Russian advances from late 2015 onward.
So too the relationship with HTS is troubled but has been manageable. Turkish forces needed security guarantees from HTS to be able to set up their observation posts in Idlib in accordance with the de-escalation agreement in 2017. Turkey has a number of the observation posts set up in areas controlled by HTS.
The de-escalation agreements were devised to implement ceasefires between government forces and so-called moderate opposition to address humanitarian needs, carry out essential infrastructure repairs and set the conditions for long-term political settlement through the Astana process. They specifically excluded ISIS and Al-Qaeda (HTS) so it is not difficult to see why Turkey cooperating with rather than fighting HTS was viewed as problematic. The engagement between the parties means Turkey has been able to consolidate its position and exert economic, military and political influence stretching across Northern Syria. It also has offered some protection to HTS, notwithstanding the clashes with JTS and the fracturing of the group, some elements unhappy with Turkey for engaging with Russia and Iran in the Astana process.
Juggling JTS and HTS in limiting their conflicts and fragmentation aids in one of the major goals of Turkey: containing Kurdish forces and stopping any southward push from the Afrin area. Erodgan has said he is willing to militarily confront Kurdish forces, whether they are in Turkey, Syria or Iraq, the territorial sovereignty of his neighbors not a barrier to his actions. Training arming and paying proxies have evolved from a singular focus of regime change to one of assertively attacking Kurdish forces and establishing buffer zones well into Syria.
Unfortunately for Syria, he can use the pretext of maintaining Turkish security through an advanced defense. That advanced defense just happens to be slicing off Syrian territory, resembling partition the longer his forces occupy Syria. The US uses similar excuses of not just extinguishing the ISIS threat, but remaining in Syria, vigilant to its reemergence like a firefighter at the ready should embers spark and restart a fire. Stabilization and security are also offered as justification, euphemisms for denying Syria retaking its land, destabilizing activities, and as we have seen in recent days, an intention to indefinitely remain in Syria.
Erdogan seeks to control Idlib, along with Turkish controlled areas of Aleppo. Disarming terrorist groups in favor of fictional moderate groups means Turkey will effectively maintain political, military and economic control of the region. This denies Syria’s territorial integrity, despite the rhetoric of affirming Syrian sovereignty as per the Astana process and in line with international law.
Iran and Russia appear to have yielded for the time being against their better judgment and given a break to the terrorists. Putin understands the need to expel the terrorists from the province, but he is patient and thinks strategically. He has become the ultimate regional balancer, an approach that seeks to alienate no one, but risks displeasing some. It is difficult to say if the pressure exerted by the US, France, and UK, who threatened to attack Syria again if chemical weapons were used —or even preemptively—had any influence on him. It is unlikely to sway his objectives, but it may delay the actions needed to achieve them.
It may come down to giving Erdogan more time to convince the assortment of terrorist groups he knows all too well that Iran, Russia, and Syrian forces are determined to launch attacks, want groups to separate from HTS and lay down their arms. Attacks from this area are constantly being launched against the Russian airbase in Latakia, government forces, and the horrific attack which murdered nine civilians in Mhardeh came from nearby Hama. Idlib is the terrorist’s last stand with nowhere else to go, although we can’t rule out Turkey giving them safe passage across the border, or further along toward Afrin Jarabalus and Manbij.
The love affair between Turkey and the USA is in the dustbin of history at this point, the US determined to strangle the Turkish economy by sending the Lira plummeting and doubling down on the support of the YPG and Hezen Suriya Demokratik HSD (SDF).
The US and UK invested heavily in setting up a shadow state in Idlib, implementing what some call “Plan C” in developing government institutions and recognizing them as the legitimate representatives of the province. To enforce this, military and police forces supported by these projects ensure control of the population and armed opposition to any attempt by Damascus to liberate the area. Washington is dismayed that not only has Turkey asserted a large degree of control, but is excluding it in cooperation with its Russian and Iranian adversaries.
The Syrian government gave a formal response to the Tehran summit, Sana reporting “The joint statement of the Tehran Summit for the guarantor states of the Astana process affirmed commitment to the unity and sovereignty of the Syrian territory and the continuation of combating terrorism.”
At the United Nations Security Council meeting on Friday, Syrian Ambassador Bashar al-Jaafari made it clear what Syria thinks of the destructive actions of Turkey, the US, and its allies. Nikki Haley, as chair of the meeting, had to sit to listen to words of wisdom and truth for a change. Normally, she disgraces herself and the international body by walking out when he speaks.
The Battle for Idlib Begins
The battle to liberate northwest Syria began over the weekend when the SAA and its allies undertook heavy bombardment of the Idlib and Hama governorates. The strikes are targeted to weaken jihadists defenses and avoid civilian casualties in preparation for an expected ground offensive. Erdogan has been given time to separate the factions Turkey supports from jihadists, allowing an offensive against the latter while the former observe a ceasefire. Worryingly, a large Turkish convoy which included tanks, armored vehicles, and artillery field guns entered Idlib from the Hatay province on Monday night. The question is, is this to maintain security or to adopt defensive positions to deter the SAA from launching a ground offensive.
The US coalition will be worried about their Special Forces embedded in Idlib, just as they were when they were in Aleppo assisting terrorist groups. Humanitarian concerns paper over the truth that the only lives they are worried about are not wanting to have their Special Forces killed, or even worse captured.
Mutual accusations of imminent chemical weapons attacks in Idlib are flying around. Imperial mouthpiece The Wall Street Journal reported that Bashar al-Assad has personally authorized a chemical weapons attack in Idlib. It has been repeated over and over that there is no military necessity to use chemical weapons, it is suicidal to invite attacks by some of the world’s most powerful militaries and that Syria gave up its stockpile way back in 2014.
The Russian Ministry of Defense has reported that terrorists are filming faked chemical weapons attacks, ready for distribution to western TV and on social media. It previously reported that the terrorist groups and the White Helmets were waiting on a signal from their western sponsors to begin the staged attacks.
Donald Trump knows he is likely to be impeached if the Democrats win the House of Reps in the midterms, so is desperate to do something to make sure that doesn’t happen. Launching a war is the oldest trick in the book when leaders are in grave danger at home, so Trump may reach into his bag of tricks and pull out an escalated war on Syria to save his presidency.
It goes without saying that the threats by the criminal coalition are an open invitation to terrorist groups to launch their own CW attack with the help of the White Helmets, who will then, in turn, lead the fierce propaganda assault blaming Assad for killing his own civilians in his trademark barbaric manner.
The likes of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (Al-Qaeda) Ahar al-Sham and Nour al-Din al-Zinki will probably break out with impromptu flag-waving celebrations. It will be the 3 starred green, white, and black flag used by the Free Syrian Army, a symbol of the foreign-sponsored war, opposed vehemently by the people of Syria.
Intermingled among the FSA fake flag, will be an assortment of takfiri savages groups flags, as they dance the dance of intolerance and death.
Don’t expect to see any women in downtown Idlib. They are confined and subjugated with little to celebrate among the hardline Islamists that rule them.
Do expect to see Niki Haley and Karen Pierce fluttering their eyelids at them. After all, they gave theatrical performances at the UN, riddled with lies and emotional blackmail, putting their best foot forward to protect the trash bought into Syria to destroy it.
Just don’t let the Takfiris see those feet ladies.