Thursday, February 22, 2018

Syriana - an Update

It's hard to believe that in my last post more than three weeks ago, I commented that 'Afrin' - a Kurdish enclave in NW Syria - had been taken under attack by Turkish forces. What looked back then like a slam dunk waiting to happen,  has degenerated into another second-world failure to win.  For here we  are,  well-up the road and the Turks are barely beyond the areas they had bravely motored-into on Day 1. Motored into and failed to motor out of. Last week, if some sources are to be believed, the Kurds beat-off a Turkish assault that left the battlefield festooned with some burning armor and an estimated 34 Turks dead on the ground.  This is unusual for, until now, the Turks were content to let their SFA 'comrades' take pride of place liberating 'their homeland'.  As one source put it last week, the Turks 'have met mud and mountains and their advance has drawn a blank'. Winter in northern Syria, and southern Turkey is like that. Kurds are coming from  NE eastern Syria through government held arreas, to take part.

In the most recent development the Kurdish forces in Afrin have done a deal with Assad that is quite likely to see the Syrian flag hoisted over Afrin and the Kurds withdrawn to their enclave in the eastern part of Syria.  Today the government forces assumed control over the Kurdish suburb of the long embattled city of Aleppo. It too having suffered the blandishments of Islamic Jihad without caving, so it just as much in need of rebuilding as East Aleppo.

What's really interesting is intersting for Turkey which, all of a sudden, loses its reason to be grabbing another chunk of Syria - this time from Assad's forces and not ISIS or the Kurds.  As well as still having to face-off against the PKK in the Syrian version of Rohava. And that latter involves the USA

America is on the 'horns' of another 'dilemma',  for it now gets to face-off against the Turks or abandon its new friends the Syrian Kurds.  It will be facing-off against Assad as he turns his attention toward the jihadis and FSA still holding on in the Golan and near the SW border. Both of which, without Russian help, will be nasty and with Russian help will be complicated.  I think the Syrian Kurds know on  which side their falafel is greased and there isn't much America could, or would, do to stop the Turks. Assad would.

To ensure there is  no Turkish 'hanky panky' into what is marked out as 'Rojava', Kurdish units are evacuating north from the US-inspired conquest of the east bank of the Euphrates around Deir Ez Zor. That's something the US won't like. Especially if it leaves ISIS isolated and at  the mercy of Syrian forces which already have a bridgehead on the East Bank. (It was bombed last week for "threatening" US "allies"  in the area, or for repulsing an SDR/ISIS attack on the bridgehead - that news is clarified below.)  The US is also in a pickle further north backing-up its  Kurdish allies while facing-down a potential fight with the Turks over the 'buffer zone' the Turks want,  to keep Kurds off their border. Had the Turks not been taking a licking in Afrin, that zone might have been better-formed - as of now, it isn't. 

Assad's forces continue to 'bite back' the remaining ISIS enclaves in western Syria, as well as nipping off parts of Idlib governate not covered by de-escalation agreements.  The Russians are still bombing targets in central Idlib accused of being the launch points of drones that bombed Russian bases a week and a half back and, more recently, of being the 'home' of whichever group it was used a manpad rocket to down a Russian forces fighter-bomber.  The Russians had, I thought,  closed the airspace over Afrin, but since the Turks are still attacking the borders, aside from preventing any further bombardment of the hard-hit governate 'capital',  that isn't having any immediate effect on Turkish Air operations.

That incident near Deir EzZor last week upped the US ante significantly, as they waded-in to 'defend' their part of Eastern Syria and consequently may have killed a large number of Russians when they gave what they thought were 'only' Syrians  the full-treament from assets in the area.  While the Russians, so far, have taken time to study and decry the 'we got ya' idiots,  they were starting to release more information on the dead and wounded 'contractors' they claim had "nothing to do with the Russian military"  They were treating the incident far differently than they treated the notorious ceasefire 'introductory' boming at the same place, a year ago Christmas.

I don't think the fat lady has had her 'ups' about this one. Somebody's going to wait until America gets cocky again to perhaps show them what the Russians can do to a force caught out in the open.