A funny thing happened on the road to Manbij

Al Bab, now held by Turkey, is only 15 miles from the Aleppo Airport

Erdogan has announced that neither Turkey nor his private “Free Syrian Army” franchise, an army nobody has yet seen, are no longer going to fight ISIS.  Belaboring the point, he isn’t going to fight them any less, he couldn’t, and there is a reason for this.

You see, Erdogan’s “Syrian Arab Force” assembled to fight ISIS is, in fact, ISIS.

When ISIS moved into Raqqah years ago, Erdogan said to himself, why let the Saudis have a good thing when I can cash in myself.  So Erdogan set up an operational center in Gaziantep and moved troops into Syria to be “ISIS.”  Turkey began looting Northern Syria, taking initially a few dozen factories, then all of them, literally hundreds from around Aleppo, and then set up a trade system under the leadership of Erdogan’s son to milk Syria dry.

For years now, Turkish ‘ISIS” has been stealing wheat, collecting taxes, robbing residents, and trading in oil and gas from their own region and with the real ISIS further East and South.

Then as the US backed Kurds came in and the Syrian Army came north, most of the oil from the real ISIS was cut off and the wheat came under Kurdish control.  However, as it all had to be sold through Turkey anyway, what was the harm?

Now, with the Syrian Arab Army and the US backed Kurds joined up and economic deals with Damascus in place, it all goes south and Erdogan is now going to take on Damascus, perhaps Washington and Moscow too.  It begins:

According to TASS, the US in the shape of General Townsend is accusing the Russians of carrying out airstrikes on the Turks whereas the Washington Post is claiming the recipients of the the Russian bombs were actually the Syrian Kurds who have just signed a broad agreement of alliance with Damascus.

A few days ago the Turks carried out at least three airstrikes against Syrian Arab Army forces as they drove north to link up with their Kurdish allies, the obvious motivation being to prevent the Syrian and Kurd ground forces joining up.

Then the Turkish ground forces, which includes the Turkish Army and the Free Syrian Army, advanced along the road from Al-Bab towards Manbij, a path which would lead them to direct confrontation with the Syrian Kurds, who we should not forget, are part of the US-led alliance.

However, the Russian air forces stopped this advance dead in its tracks by bombing the Turks as they negotiated the narrow corridor through the mountainous terrain that the road passes through, an act of retaliation for the Turkish airstrikes against the Syrian Army.

Where this is going to lead is far from clear, but an open, declared war between Turkey and Russia is not at the top of the list of possibilities. However, a declared war between Syria and Turkey is very much a strong possibility and that would be a bad situation for Erdogan as Syria would be backed by both Iraq and Iran and most likely by Hezbollah and the Syrian Kurds too.

The Russians would most likely stay out of it but would surely be more than delighted to furnish all the weapons and military goodies the Syrians and their allies could desire, not least because the Russian economy could sorely do with the boost and Putin would surely love to be rid of the troublesome Turk Erdogan and his dreams of restoring the Ottoman Empire at the expense of his arab neighbours.

Syrian army tanks are positioned on the eastern outskirts of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on February 17, 2017

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Posted by on March 1, 2017, With 2534 Reads Filed under WarZone. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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3 Responses to "A funny thing happened on the road to Manbij"

  1. Peter Johnson  March 2, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    It was inevitable that after switching names several times from Al Queda to Al Nusra to Jaish-ul-This and Jebhat-ul-That they would start (or revert to) dressing up as the sovereign armies of NATO Turkey or America’s Friend With Benefits, Saudi Arabia. It makes them harder to bomb and the militia names fool no-one anymore anyway.

  2. roger  March 2, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    Barzani seems to be with interesting “aquaintances” which by no means, are sympatethic to Assad nor the Syrians. Kurds are hopeful on Barzani providing for their own land but neither Turkey, Irak, Iran or Syria are happily willing to surrender parcels of national territories for the birth of an Israeli conditioned enclave with US blessing. Much like latinos trying to have an independent New Mexico. State fractioning and weakening has always been a zionistic practice, Spain and Portugal, divided and made Portugal a Jewish operational base to conquer Holland and later on Britain also, to control the access to the Mediterranean. Latinamerica’s irrational scattering of former Spanish viceroyalties in nonnintegrated economies of dissever entities, well seen in Central America countries, each producing a different banana type, but all Bank of England dependent, India and Pakistan map distributed according to an everlasting iterative conflict source. Irak and Kuwait, the latter oil purveyor when former is non compliant.. Eire an Ulster, Scandinavia kingdom partition, Yugoslavia NATO fragmenting, A case in study, US Civil War.

  3. US-First  March 2, 2017 at 6:25 am

    THE KURD DILEMMA

    Masoud Barzani the Iraqi Kurd leader has an agreement of sorts in place with Ankara against the PKK as of January this year. So all Kurds are not personae non gratae that Erdogan can pin as terrorists. Parsley and cilantro look the same from a distance but you pick up the nuanced difference in the scent. With that said, maybe Barzani – in good faith with Erdogan, can help unite the Kurd factions agreeable to Turkey. I presume of course that all Kurd forces can meet eye to eye with him. Then and only then can a positive picture emerge of the Kurd situation on the ground. The Kurd effort against ISIS has been remarkable and incisive; their bravery undaunted.

    A united Kurd front – without the PKK, would benefit them for any future and deserved part in Syrian national plans. However, that approach is anathema to Erdogan – and probably Kurd solidarity, but something he will have no control over if he decides to go it alone against the power-brokering of Syria and Russia and a probable Gulenist US. He could however, if on board with Barzani, help the ultimate Kurd position at a final negotiating table by rowing in behind them to secure a peace of extended duration. He will still be in a pickle with the PKK but he can use that – as he always has, to his political advantage by having someone to blame and distract attention from his own ineptitude. Right now he is in a dilemma and on the road to nowhere.

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