ERDOGAN – GIVE HIM THE BOOT FROM NATO

United States coup accuser is punching above his weight. A diminutive mule, ERDOGAN, is waging a verbal war against the United States and is gearing up in the trenches for the ultimate fight against Israel. What has to happen here is two-fold, one being to throw the Russia confidant out of NATO and bring to bear all of the economic weight we can against this Muslim Brotherhood bed mate. Turkey is in a predicament,  the economy is in a tailspin, their currency cratering by the minute. Turkey is in big trouble today, but it will only get worse. Remember Turkey is now entering the age of an autocrat taking exclusive power of all levers of government; the legislative and judiciary, not counting the military which has been rationalized since the coup.

What is most important here is Turkey’s stance with Russia, as far as we can tell, Erdogan went to his knees begging for Russia’s help in countering the Kurds in Syria’s Afrin fight.

So why did Russia open the air space to Turkey for the Afrin operation? What does Russia aim to achieve by helping Turkey in this we?

I have come up with the following observations while seeking answers to these questions.

1) It suits Russia’s interests

Russia’s move is in line with the direction that Turkey-Russia relations have recently taken. Russia has considerable economic, political and regional interests in Turkey. By siding with Turkey in Afrin, Russia has actually done what is necessary to protect its interests. On the one hand there are Russia’s interests in Turkey and on the other hand there are its relations with the Syrian Kurds. Obviously the former outweighs the latter. Moscow also probably calculates that the gestures it extends to Ankara help it gain an upper hand and serve as a bargaining chip vis-à-vis Turkey. Indeed, there is no doubt that such gestures will boost the perception of Russia in the eyes of the Turkish public.

2) It shows that Russia is a playmaker

Russia has been an active party in the war in Syria since 2015, supporting Bashar al-Assad with its military power against opposition groups. The steps that Russia has taken towards Turkey will help to bolster its main strategy of strengthening the Syrian regime. Once again, Russia has asserted itself as the main playmaker in Syria. It has shown that all roads lead to Moscow and has prepared the ground for its political strategy of achieving a permanent Russian presence in the Middle East. This, in return, will help Russian President Vladimir Putin achieve his aim of making Russia a powerful global player again.

3) Russia wants Turkey on its side

Russia is also taking into account the possible benefits of maintaining close relations with Turkey because it is a key player in the region. At a time when Syria’s fate is being decided, Russia has taken initiatives – such as the recent peace conference in Sochi – to bring about solutions of its own choosing while maintaining close dialogue and cooperation with Turkey. All of this will give Moscow the upper hand at the table.

4) Turkey is drifting away from the United States

One cannot assume that Russia’s move is not a part of its policy against the U.S. The deepening of disagreements between Ankara and Washington, which has led to serious fissures within NATO, does not upset Russia at all. By facilitating the launch of the Afrinoffensive, which Russia knows the U.S. would be uneasy with, Russia has caused Turkey and the U.S. to drift further away from each other. From Moscow’s point of view, Turkey’s drifting away from the West will bring it within the orbit of Russia.

5) It curbs the U.S.’s Kurdish plan

At the same time, Moscow is trying to curb the U.S.’s plans to establish a permanent American presence in northern Syria and to create an area under its influence that could eventually lead to the emergence of a state. In doing so, Russia is showing the Kurds that cooperating with the U.S. in Syria comes at a price. If the Kurds do not get enough support from the U.S. in the face of the Turkish military operation in Afrin, problems could arise between Washington and the Syrian Kurds. This would also help Russia achieve its geopolitical goals.

6) Russia is trying to mediate between Ankara and Damascus

As a result of Turkey’s operation against the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Turkey has made indirect contact with the al-Assad regime in Damascus. The fact that both sides have troops on the ground necessitates keeping communication channels open, at least to prevent any mishap. We can imagine that out of this necessity, Russia wants to help Turkey and Syria mend ties. Russia might try to strengthen the Syrian regime by helping Turkey and Syria normalize their relations through dialogue.

7) It eases the hand of the al-Assad regime in Idlib

The Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) engagement with the PYD in Afrin has another indirect consequence. The regime in Damascus will find it much easier to act in its plans for Idlib, which is currently held by opposition groups. At a time when the international community’s attention has turned to Turkey’s military operation in Afrin, al-Assad will feel less international pressure as he makes gains around Idlib.

TIME TO TAKE ERDOGAN OUT FOR BOMBING OUR TROOPS – TRUMP SHOULD GIVE THE ORDER TO KILL ON SIGHT

Dozens of pro-Syrian forces killed in Turkish airstrikes

BEIRUT – Turkish warplanes struck pro-Syrian government forces in the northwestern Afrin region of Syria on Saturday, killing at least 36 of them, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

It said this was the third time in 48 hours that Turkish warplanes had struck pro-government forces that entered Afrin last week in support of the Kurdish YPG militia as it fights to stave off an offensive by Turkey and allied Syrian militias.

Afrin offensive: 36 pro-Syrian government soldiers ‘killed in Turkish air strike’BBC News.svg

At least 36 pro-Syrian government troops have been killed by a Turkish air strike in the region of Afrin, a monitoring group says.

The strike targeted a camp at Kafr Jina in the northern Syrian region, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said.

The pro-government troops entered Afrin two weeks ago to back Kurdish forces.

They are fighting a Turkish military offensive that was launched to clear Kurdish groups from Afrin.

Turkey considers the Kurdish militiamen there terrorists.

The Syrian government has denounced the offensive as a “blatant attack” on its sovereignty and, according to state media, forces were sent in to support the Kurds.

The air strike followed one of the bloodiest days for Turkish troops since they began the offensive in January.

Eight Turkish soldiers were killed and another 13 were injured on Thursday in fighting in Afrin.

Five “heroic comrades fell as martyrs and seven were wounded”, an initial statement from Turkey’s military said. A second statement announced three more soldiers had been killed and six more wounded.

No official details of the clashes were given but the private Dogan news agency said Kurdish fighters used tunnels to ambush Turkish special forces in the Keltepe district.

A Turkish helicopter sent in to rescue the wounded was hit and had to turn back, the report added.

Thousands of civilians in Afrin have fled their homes since Turkey’s offensive began.

A map of Syria showing who controls the different areas

The Turkish government says the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia is an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in south-eastern Turkey for three decades.

The YPG denies any direct organisational links to the PKK.

Neither side has released much information about fatalities, making the death toll in Afrin difficult to gauge.

The UK-based SOHR says more than 141 civilians have died but Turkey denies this, saying only combatants are targeted.

Last month, Amnesty International said indiscriminate shelling had killed scores of civilians in Afrin.

Presentational grey line

Yet another new flashpoint?

Analysis by Sebastian Usher, BBC Arab Affairs Editor

When pro-government militia forces edged into Afrin last month, it wasn’t clear what their strategic purpose would be.

Videos showed a small group of militiamen being welcomed to Afrin city by Kurds there as their saviours. But it didn’t seem likely that they would play much more than a symbolic role, allowing the Syrian government to vaunt a new territorial initiative but at no major risk.

In fact, it seemed that it might be a way of de-escalating the latest conflict in Syria after Turkey launched its operation against Kurdish fighters there.

A deal to allow the Syrian government to take over much of the control of the area might suit many of the parties involved. It might even be a less bad option for Turkey, allowing it to turn down the intensity of its offensive.

But if the reports are true that pro-government forces have been badly hit by Turkish airstrikes, that would appear to undercut this interpretation, raising the prospect of yet another new flashpoint in Syria.

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    Moscow: 20 US bases set up in Kurdish areas of Syria

    Secretary of the Russian Security Council Alexander Venediktov told Ria Novosti. “The return of peace and stability to Syria is hampered by continued external interference in the Syrian crisis. For example, in the territory controlled by the people’s self-defense units of Kurdistan, some 20 US military bases have been created,” the official said. According to the Russian official, US interference in the Syria conflict “provoked Turkey’s military operation” targeting Kurdish militias in Afrin. DEBKAfile:  The 20 US bases in Syria were first reported on Jan. 11. The rerun of the report supports Moscow’s campaign against the US military presence in Syria, which claims that it  is illegal, whereas the Russian military was invited by the “legitimate” Assad regime.

TIME FOR THE UNITED STATES TO TAKE ACTION AGAINST TURKEY

Turkish offensive in Kurdish-held Syrian enclave sets up collision course with US

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Damage to the Afrin region of Syria reportedly caused by Turkish forces.

Civilians have been killed, their neighborhoods destroyed and at least one water treatment plant heavily damaged in the Turkish military offensive against the Kurdish-held Syrian enclave of Afrin, according to video, photos and on-the-ground accounts reviewed by Fox News.

Some of the reporting, which included the apparent deaths of children, is too graphic to publish. Some of the accounts of what is happening in Afrin also cannot be independently verified.

The Turkish intervention, called “Operation Olive Branch,” began in late January and, according to national security specialists, further complicates the conflict in Northern Syria involving Kurdish forces that worked with the United States to rout the Islamic State (ISIS).

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“The Turkish attempt to drive the Kurds from Afrin places the U.S. in a very difficult position,” said Tara Maller, a former military analyst for the CIA who is now a senior policy adviser with the Counter Extremism Project. “If the U.S. is seen as abandoning the Kurds, its allies and the most effective fighting force against ISIS, it could result in the loss of credibility and an unwillingness for others to cooperate with the U.S. in the future against ISIS and other terrorist groups.”

While some 2,000 U.S. forces are in the region, Turkey has threatened to clear the Kurds from its border with Syria. The strategy could impact the town of Manbij, widely reported to be a base for U.S. troops.

Maller, who reviewed photos and video for Fox News, said that “there are U.S. troops in this area, in physical proximity to the fighting. The U.S. has said it is not moving its forces from this area and would hit back hard if attacked. At the same time, the U.S. wants to avoid alienating Turkey and pushing it further into Russia’s sphere of influence. The U.S. must work through diplomatic channels to lessen the tension in the area and prevent this confrontation from drawing in other players and becoming a separate war, which will only embolden ISIS and other radical groups.”

Afrin is home to the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, a Kurdish militia. The Turkish government maintains the YPG is a terrorist group and offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a military struggle against Turkey since the 1980s. At the same time, however, YPG is a central element of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces that now control great swaths of Syria.

Returning from overseas last week, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis gave a wide-ranging brief to reporters, one that touched on the Afrin conflict. Mattis said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had recently visited the Turkish capital,  Ankara, where he dealt with issues “causing friction” and a “loss of rapport between us and our NATO ally Turkey.”

Mattis continued. “And while we understand their (Turkey’s) legitimate security concerns, as I’ve mentioned several times, that does not align with us concurring with attacks into areas that were not sources of violence before the attack into Afrin, for example.”

Asked how “mechanisms” would work with Turkey in Afrin and Manbij, he said: “That’s exactly what we have to work out. That’s — as you said, we’re going to put them in place. So there’s a commitment now to work them out. We have to put them — we have to draw them up together, and then we have to employ them.“

The aim of the Turkish operation is to “stop attacks and border harassments, indiscriminate shelling of urban areas, harboring, equipping and training of terrorists, suicide bombers and assassins,” according to a fact sheet sent to Fox News from the Turkish Embassy in Washington. Turkey also maintains that “all precautions are taken to avoid collateral damage to the civilian population” in the operation, a claim sharply disputed by Kurdish groups.

At the Munich Security Conference this month, Turkey’s minister of foreign affairs called Operation Olive Branch a “legitimate right (for) self-defense,” adding that “supporting a terrorist organization against another terrorist organization (ISIS) is a big mistake and risking the future of the country,” a reference to the YPG.

Maller, of the Counter Extremism Project, said ISIS has been beaten back, but emphasized that the terror group would likely stage a comeback, and the U.S. will need its Kurdish allies again. “ISIS continues to have a formidable presence” along the Syria-Iraq border and “is capable of striking quickly and often. Also, ISIS continues to successfully radicalize and recruit individuals globally, while inspiring followers to carry out attacks. Over time, it is quite possible that ISIS could again gain strength, as it has done before, should the war in Syria drag on and Iraq’s government remain weak and under the sway of Iran.

“While the absolute number of ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq may have fallen, the group remains dangerous and continues to spread to Africa, Asia and other parts of the world.”

 

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.