Monday, October 7, 2019

Springtime for Erdogan, winter for the YPG

I'd love to blame this one on Donald the Dove, but, sadly, I think the upcoming betrayal of the Kurds who fought for U.S. objectives in Syria is likely to have happened under any U.S. government. There's just no compelling national interest there, and the notion that they would have gained any sort of lingering obligation from Uncle Sammy by killing and dying for him was...well, the YPG could have asked any Vietnamese highland clansman or Iraqi translator what happens when you put your faith in the Big Guy to stand by you when you're no longer of any sort of geopolitical value.

The sadly-ironic part is that we're again reminded that for all his tough-guy talk Donnie is a puff-pastry when real dictators come into view, and his "foreign policy" is entirely based on what's in it for him.

In this case at least his cupidity and political cowardice will insure that the dead are "only" dusky foreigners and not Americans. Given the wasteful spending of lives my country has indulged in since 2001 perhaps that's the best we could have hoped for.

For the Kurds, well...this must feel pretty familiar.

That said... THIS... a nastily cynical bit of business. "Captured ISIS fighters"? My ass.

Look, if you want to throw your Kurdish proxies under the bus, fine. Man up and admit it. Come out and say "We no longer have compelling interests in northern Syria and will not stand in the way of Turkey's desire to crush armed Kurdish forces, wherever they may be." Or, if you have to, try and make up at least a more plausible lie. "Captured ISIS fighters" is ridiculous nonsense; Trumpkins who don't care about dusky Mooslims can't be bothered, and anyone who knows anything about this sees it as the cheap and transparent lie it is.

Or, better yet, don't say anything. Dirty deeds are always done more appropriately in the night and the fog.

Update 10/8: Perhaps Sven is the only perceptive one here in sussing out that the supposed-Commander-in-Chief doesn't really command jack shit and his words are, indeed, meaningless:
My guess, though, is that Trump did, indeed, direct the abandonment of NE Syria and that the military and whatever-is-left-of-the-diplomatic-corps is trying to slow-roll the troop movement to let adults try and talk Liddle' Donnie out of whatever caused his tantrum after getting off the phone playdate with his buddy Erdie. There is no real reason to do this other than whatever bat is in Trump's belfry; if a handful of GIs can keep Turkey and the YPG from going at each other that really is better than the alternative, regardless of how you feel about idiotic U.S. adventures in the Middle East in general.

This, on the other hand, is just TOO perfect:

Update 10/12:
The "Celebrity Geopolitical Apprentice" showrunners are clearly now past just doing weed and blow and are huffing sterno straight from the can, because it would take a perfect fool to set up this ridiculous plotline; the orange-tinted frontman, having bloviated that he will #endendlesswars proceeds to feed more GIs into the meatgrinder. And, in the unintentionally comic kudo of the season, claims that the move will inaugurate a new - or, rather, a return to a very old and discredited - military tradition; renting the nation's armed forces to a client state in return for cash:

Coupla things here.

First, if I was one of those zoomies I'd be pretty chapped. First, because I'd be me, and as me I would happily tell Prince Bonesaw and his merry band of religious nuts to fuck off and die in a hole. Outside of Israel, Saudi is the most worthless "ally" the US has in the Middle East. The people who Trump says should die now because they didn't help us on D-Day are a thousand times more valuable to US interests than the most pimped-out Saudi royal.

Second, IIRC Bush the Elder got most of the costs of the '91 Second Gulf War repayed by the various oil sheikdoms, so this isn't like Trump is coming up with some brilliant stroke of foreign policy here. Like he always does, he's just slapping his brand on other people's work.

And, third, the Bush example is a good counterpoint to how you do this if you really know how to play the foreign policy game. You ostentatiously lend support to your clients, emphasizing what a great partner you are, how strong and magnanimous you are and will be...and then, quietly, you stick out a hand so your grateful pals can slap you on the palm with some Franklins. You don't blow your intention to get moo-la-la in return for your mercenaries out your piehole first before you get so much as a single rial so you don't look like a fucking chump if and when the client stiffs you.

Mexico was gonna pay for that wall, amirite? Bwa-ha-ha...


I'm as tired of these idiotic whack-a-muj exercises as anyone. There's no real point to them anymore, largely because there has never been a genuine attempt to assess what the U.S.'s interests are in these parts. It's all fear and panic and "radical Islamic terrorism" all the way down.

Trump just adds a particularly idiotic icing to this shitcake.

As he is with U.S. domestic politics; he's not the disease. He's a symptom.

But...damn if it's not a pretty nasty virus.

Update 10/14: What a fucking shitshow:
"Rarely has a presidential decision resulted so immediately in what his own party leaders have described as disastrous consequences for American allies and interests. How this decision happened — springing from an “off-script moment” with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, in the words of a senior American diplomat — likely will be debated for years by historians, Middle East experts and conspiracy theorists.

But this much already is clear: Mr. Trump ignored months of warnings from his advisers about what calamities likely would ensue if he followed his instincts to pull back from Syria and abandon America’s longtime allies, the Kurds. He had no Plan B, other than to leave. The only surprise is how swiftly it all collapsed around the president and his depleted, inexperienced foreign policy team."
Stable genius!

Update 10/16:
Sweet Holy Jesus Fucking Roosevelt Christ, get the fucking net!
"Syria may have some help with Russia, and that’s fine. It’s a lot of sand. They’ve got a lot of sand over there. So there’s a lot of sand that they can play with."
What the...what the actual fuck..?

One thing I think is important is not to overestimate the rock-bottom level of Orange Foolius' actual understanding. I don't know much about the topography and geography of Syria, but right off the top of my head I don't think there really IS a "lot of sand over there". The deserty parts of eastern Syria are mostly rocky desert (the Hamad) or bare soil (the Homs desert).

But here's the thing; when this simple fucker hears "Arab" he probably really does think "Ahab, the A-rab, Sheik of the Burnin' Sands".


It's like having a really simple ten-year-old as a president.

Jesus wept.

Update 10/18: So apparently the Trump Administration and Erdogan's Turkey arrived at some sort of agreement to pause Operation Peace Spring for about five days. As the linked piece notes, it's pretty much a Munich Agreement between the US and Turkey to allow Erdogan to get his piece of Syrian Sudetenland:
"This is essentially the US validating what Turkey did and allowing them to annex a portion of Syria and displace the Kurdish population," a senior US official familiar with operations in Syria told CNN. "This is what Turkey wanted and what POTUS green lighted. I do think one reason Turkey agreed to it is because of the Kurds have put up more of resistance and they could not advance south any further as a result."
My question is "What does this operational pause (since it's NOT a ceasefire and fighting is going to continue) "mean for the U.S. on the ground in Syria?"

I mean, the only way this actually helps is if there's a massive Dunkirk of Kurds from NE Syria; lock, stock, pots, pans, cats, kids...everyone gets marshaled out of their farms, towns, and cities, trucked to the railhead or airhead, and then from there to secure locations...where? somewhere south in Syria? To refugee camps at the tender mercies of Assad's Mukhabarat? To Iraq or Jordan?

Trump sure as hell ain't gonna take million of filthy wogs here in God's Great America.

And how does the US actually facilitate this? The logistics alone are breathtaking, and would require a massive commitment from a superpower - how the hell are the Syrian Kurds themselves going to do this alone? Surrounded by enemies (or at least people who are indifferent to their survival) and without a welcoming place to go to? I'm sure they might get a grudging reception from Iraqi Kurdistan, but those provinces are not rich, and have little in the way of resources (or need) for million of displaced relatives; it's be like having my in-laws come to live in our basement.

I mean...after Trump greenlighted this atrocity it's good that his people have managed to somehow deflect some of it. But I don't see how this works as anything but a rolling goatscrew without massive, immediate, and well-organized US-supported and internationally-coordinated evacuation.

To kick back and congratulate yourself over this is pure Trumpian looney-tunes.


  1. What is the French position? They have troops there also, just a small number though. And isn't the Brit SAS still in country? If the French and Brits stay, I assume they will stay below Erdogan's declared "peace corridor". On the other hand they will probably pack up also.

    I'm doubtful Erdogan will send TKK infantry into NE Syria (or maybe Im just hoping?). Erdo has been recruiting his TFSA proxies in Idlib, Afrin, and al-Bab for the job in the NE. Supported of course by TKK armor & artillery and intel from MIT. Perhaps some Turlish Grey Wolves to stiffen and guide the TFSA militias.

    If Erdo manages to get custody of the "Captured ISIS fighters", they will soon be joining his TFSA proxies. Or let them loose in place in NE Syria to wreak more head-chopping, burning-alive, stonings, and mass executions. Or he will sic them against Assad. He doesn't want them in Turkey.

  2. Do the Kurds now go for the tender embrace of Assad, or do they try and fight it out with the Turkish proxies from Idlib?

  3. Commander Bone-Spurs' best buddy, Senator Lindsey Graham, thinks there is a "compelling national interest". He is going to oppose the withdrawal in Congress, and is claiming he will get overwhelming support. His main beef is that our withdrawal will force the Kurds to align with Iran. What Graham does NOT mention is that it will also weaken all of our alliances. And it will force the Kurds to align with Russia (perhaps Putin was the one that convince Bone-Spurs and not Erdogan?).

    But no matter whether the deal was made with Putin or Erdogan, what I want to know is what was the QPQ?

  4. Ael -

    Javad Zarif, the Foreign Minister of Iran, has already tweeted to the Kurds: "Iran ready to help." Unsaid in his offer is their need to 'embrace Assad' to get Iranian help.

    Which is NOT a problem for the Syrian Kurds. Their political arm, known as the PYD, has been negotiating off and on with Assad for many years. It was Assad's Army that fled from the eastern provinces in fear of both al-Qaeda and ISIS. Assad totally abandoned the people of northern and eastern Syria except for the tiny pockets in Qamishli and Hasakah cities. The Kurds did not ask him to leave and did not kick his government out. The YPG and the Assyrian militias and a few Arab tribes started out just defending their villages.

    The Kurdish PYD has never asked for an independent Kurdistan. The only thing they were asking for was a small measure of autonomy: i.e. something less than what is enjoyed by US States and Canadian Provinces. They have always said that whoever rules in Damascus rules Syria. Ditto for the 'Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria' comprised of Arabs, Assyrians, Kurds, and Turkmen. Although there has been some dissension there lately among some Arab tribes close to the Euphrates with tribal contacts on the southern bank; and there'll be a lot more now that Bone-Spurs is pulling out.

  5. It's once again an instance where I get irritated by the choice of words of people in power (not the lying moron - his words don't matter anyway).

    Example Graham, who talked about the Kurds being allies that needed protection (against Turkey).
    Turkey is the ally. The Kurds are at most brothers-in-arms against daesh.

    I saw this before, when people called for siding Israel when it was in conflict with Turkey. Supposedly, Israel was the ally in need of support - but actually, Turkey was the ally.

    This is part of a pattern that goes way beyond Turkey. American politicians and political commentators use the word "ally" inflationarily, and muddle the waters.
    The result is that actual alliance treaties lose their power over the thinking of people, and thus their relevance. The U.S. is rather unreliable in international affairs in general (trying to skip treaty obligations, but making up treaty obligations of others). The muddled waters around alliances make this worse.

    As so often, the lying moron is but the caricature of the nation - not an original aberration.

    1. Andy does this thing, too, where "it doesn't matter what Trump says", and it's just as nonsensical when you say it, too. Of COURSE it matters. By law he's the sole final authority of U.S. military force. His words matter because they have the force of legal orders, regardless of how ill-informed or nonsensical. So you can't get irritated by the "choice of words of people in power" and elide the Trumpster. He IS the "people in power" of the armed forces. His underlings and various organizations can try and deflect him...but his words have weight.

      Now...that said, you're right on the formal alliance with NATO (that includes Turkey) versus the informal arrangement that the U.S. has with the YPG. Turkey is an "ally" in the formal sense. The Syrian Kurds are not.

      But the Syrian Kurds were a de facto "ally" (or "proxy" would be a better word, but the idiotic American public wouldn't understand "proxy"...) of the U.S., and in this case the Kurds are acting closer to what might be construed as American interests in Syria, while the Turks are acting in what they see as their own interests which, in this case, are at least tangential, if not wholly contrary, to the American ones. To abandon the Kurdish proxies to Erdogan's and the Turkish paranoia about Kurdish independence is not remotely in U.S. interests. There's no real reason to do this. The risk of American mission creep is minimal, while the risk of increased chaos and instability that will result from this Turkish ratissage are significant.

      So...yes, this is, unfortunately, not Trump's "fault" - most U.S. politicians would have done this, too. It IS Trump's fault in that he's doing it now, publicly, as opposed to later, slowly, after working to try and resolve some sort of solution that WON'T involve a Turk-Kurd war along the northern Syrian border.

    2. Here's a fairly detailed look into why Five-Deferment Donnie's words DO matter:


    1. Ugh. Yes. My country has been utter shit in Kurdistan. While I understand the geopolitical realities...I can't help but rage against them. Some "realities" are simply too brutally ugly to take quietly.

  7. I never thought we would do this to an regional ally who has consistently carried America's water even while America pissed itself.

    I never thought that we, who defended the Kurd's against a Russian mercenary assault would turn around and hand them over to the Turk's who will seek to give the Kurds the same treatment they gave the Armenians.

    I never thought we would be this craven...and yet here we are.

    I knew donny would fuck us over, but it seems he's fucking everyone over...

    also, S.O. you should note that this move of donny's signals that the US cannot be trusted as a NATO partner.


    I'm afraid, Europe is on it's own.

    as is Japan, and Korea.

    We, the United States cannot be trusted as a friend or as an ally.

    Under donny, and the GOP we have become a client state of Putin.

    1. "S.O. you should note that this move of donny's signals that the US cannot be trusted as a NATO partner."

      I didn't need any additional evidence. I wrote about it since 2016.
      ...and that's not all of the posts about the issue.

    2. Very prescient, SO
      I wish you were wrong...God, I need a drink.

  8. Sven -

    Turks may still be our formal NATO Allies. But under Erdogan they are horrible allies, supporting ISIS in Syria and protecting them within Turkey itself. Plus they have conducted ethnic cleansing within their own Eastern provinces and encouraged it within Syria's Afrin. Meanwhile our YPG/SDF informal & lowercase allies have gone all out in supporting the fight against ISIS. That was at a large cost to themselves as they lost 11,000 killed in that fight against the jihadists, and many more WIA.

    Although an alliance is sometimes done formally by ratified treaty, that is only one instance or definition. Per Wiki "Allies is a term referring to individuals, groups or nations that have joined together in an association for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose." There is no mention of a formal written agreement under international law. No mention of sovereign states. And no mention of a conventional Treaty, or Entente, or Accord, or Pakt, or Vertrag.

    We owed the same deference to our allies against ISIS in Syria as we did to our NATO allies in Brussels. And by the way, NATO is part of the coalition alliance against ISIS, yet looked the other way when the ISIS ratlines ran in and out of Ankara.

    1. Merriam-Webster:

      "alliance" noun
      al·​li·​ance | \ ə-ˈlī-ən(t)s
      Definition of alliance

      (Entry 1 of 2)
      1a : the state of being allied : the action of allying nations in close alliance
      b : a bond or connection between families, states, parties, or individuals a closer alliance between government and industry
      2 : an association to further the common interests of the members specifically : a confederation of nations by treaty the alliance of Western nations
      3 : union by relationship in qualities : affinity an alliance of industry and academia
      4 : a treaty of alliance
      "comrade in arms" noun phrase
      Definition of comrade in arms

      : a person one fought with or worked together with to achieve something


      The YPG was comrade in arms. The U.S. (and by fig leaf amounts the British and French) helped them in their already ongoing war against daesh by bombing daesh, providing forward observers, training and delivering arms and munitions (training and arms + munitions was also done by Germany).

      An alliance is something different; the YPG would not help the U.S if the U.S. was under attack. Israel wouldn't, either. Turkey would - within the North Atlantic Treaty's defined geographic limits (Pearl Harbor II would not trigger article 5).

      The inaccurate choice of words helps the 'hawks' (warmongers) to demand and get military action with a false argument (alliance obligations that don't exist) and is thus creating a bias towards a more aggressive, more bloody and more stupid foreign policy.

    2. Sven - So now we have dueling dictionaries?

      Turkey in the past might have helped if the US was under attack. But neo-Ottoman Turkey under Erdogan would chuckle from the sidelines and cheer for US and German comeuppance if not for our destruction.

      The YPG would have come to our aid - within their own geographic ability.

      Agree with you on Israel, they would not help us an inch. They only want to use us as their proxy and financier. Ditto for the Saudis.

    3. "The inaccurate choice of words helps the 'hawks' (warmongers) to demand and get military action with a false argument (alliance obligations that don't exist) and is thus creating a bias towards a more aggressive, more bloody and more stupid foreign policy."

      Typically I'd just nod because, yes; the U.S. "foreign policy" establishment is chock-full of people who still believe that "war works".

      This case, though?


      Before this would be simply maintaining the status quo; keeping the Turkish Army on the north side of the border, the US/YPG on the south, and everybody mildly unhappy with the result. This Trumpy move is what invites more war and less stability, regardless of who is the dictionary definition of "ally" of whom.

    4. It's an extension of "war works" into "military force works" - not all that much better, especially as American troops there DID engage in combat actions.

      And where's the endgame? Americans in Kurdistan / Northeast Syria forever? Wait until Erdogan AND Assad are gone? Recognize landlocked Kurdistan and see it blockaded by all neighbours, potentially starving if not supplied with food by air?

      You cannot dis-entangle globally without disappointing some partner in some places. To not dis-entangle leads to involvement in further conflicts and higher expenses. At some point, one has to make a hard choice and stick with it.

      That being said, the lying moron doesn't think things through, so he can only be correct at anything by pure chance.

    5. Well, according to the wisdom of our great and unmatched President, we could have used economic leverage to slap the Turks out of this idea. Ummm...apparently we have other things to do this week...

      Frankly, to me the preferable "hard choice" would have been to keep a U.S. mission embedded with the YPG. The "hard choice" in leaving the Syrian Kurds to their fate is, likely, murderously vile. If I have to choose, I choose the less-murderous hard choice.

      But there were a lot of other options left on the table by this. You and mike mentioned Pat Lang; back when Lang was still within shouting distance of geopolitical sanity he used to talk about a Grand Consort of the Middle East. Well, why not a Grand Consort of Syria? Donnie and Pootie are pals...why not invite our Russian buddies and their bloodthirsty Syrian pal Assad to sit down with Erdogan and his bloodthirsty Sunni fundamentalist pals and Prince Bone-saw and his fanatical Wahhabi pals and the Kurds and the Iranians and the Iraqis and try and hammer out a modus vivendi for everybody in Syria?

      Shit...short of that fantasy there's probably a half-dozen other diplomatic tricks in the bag. The problem with this is that there was no real pressure. The Turks were unhappy but willing to sit on their hands, the Assad regime didn't want the trouble, and the Islamic State whackos were too beaten down to do anything really dangerous. It was a stalemate, but not a particularly expensive or dangerous one; shit, we probably spent 100 times what we spent on the YPG in three days in Afghanistan, and that shit's going nowhere.

      So the lying moron isn't correct here, either. If he wanted to save money and quit diddling around in the hustings, there's a shitload of African expeditionary forces he could shutter without nearly so much bloody consequences.

    6. I doubt there's going to be an official accord on how to change the borders.
      All countries in the region are artificial and their nationalism is artificial. It's not rooted in ethnicity or culture. To question borders in that region questions the existence of the countries in the region, and thus the power of the politicians.

      The way out is to get over factional politics and move towards programmatic politics (such as left vs. right rather than Sunni vs. Shia, Arab vs. Kurd).
      The U.S. with its rising factionalismis terribly ill-equipped to assist such progress and its general purpose hammer is outright useless.

      Four things need to happen for peace, stability & prosperity in the Near and Mid East:
      1. Abandon the dictatorships
      2. Stop protecting Israel with UNSC veto
      3. Help/let the region advance past factional politics
      4. The multi-ethnic countries in the region need to produce calmness with a pre-war Lebanon-style political culture (which guarantee all factions some posts in the government as a means to protect and empower minorities) until #3 is done

      Optional #5; steadily develop the Arab League, using lessons from the European Community. An Arab Adefensive alliance might help to eliminate the idea of inter-Arab wars as NATO/EC eliminated the idea of wars between their members (save for the stupid Aegean Little Cold War).

    7. I agree that the US has been a "bad actor" in the ME, particularly in our idiotic obsession with protecting Israel from the consequences of their construction of their apartheid state. I guess what I'm talking from is a more rational US foreign policy that lets go of its Israel-first-last-and-always obsession and tries to help the ME get past it's current Wars of Religion. I agree that in the actual world we live in that's VERY unlikely to happen.

      Unfortunately, I think the problem is that there had never been a post-factional, non-zero-sum Middle Eastern politics, and that's damn difficult to set up. The current trajectory of much of Europe and the United States show how easy it is to destroy; you just need one party (coughRepublicanscough) that refuses to accept the legitimacy of their political opponents and that will work to destroy the possibility of peaceful transfer of power. There's WAY too many of those in the Middle East already.

  9. There is some dissent over at Pat Lang's SST blog that worships the ground Trump walks on. Some commenters there are calling Trump spineless. But they'll soon be banned when Lang wakes up. It's quite an honor though to be banned from there. FastEddieI was banned there. I suspect Sven and several others here were also. I was banned there under my own name and later under several others for daring to poke holes in Lang's 'great and unmatched wisdom' on all things military. I keep going back though, as I agree generally with many of his positions. I bite my tongue though when he posts his rabid views on politics. How did a former US Army Colonel ever decide to fall in man-love with a cowardly draft-dodger and whoremonger?

    1. AFAIK I'm not banned there.
      He got rude & arrogant (while showing that he didn't pay attention to facts/reasoning), I shot back once and left forever.


    2. I lost interest about the same time he went full-MAGAt, largely for the same reason that I have trouble taking other MAGAts seriously; he began putting his allegiance to Trump before his analysis. The neo-Confederate fanfic didn't help, either.

      Plus, frankly, as he moved further from his active involvement in Middle Eastern intelligence his analyses got weaker and less incisive.

    3. I was Banned there? Who'da thunk it? No, I still post really small driblets of perceived facts, almost always as a reply to another poster's, perceived truth, like every six months or so ....... like I do here. Well, it looks like I've already said too much, so See Ya.

      Oh Mike, the "Already said too much" bit came from an ITT spoof cartoon featuring two CI buffoons showing their "Creds," and acting all too strictly Hush Hush to a poor woman opening her door to these would be Beavis and Butt Heads.

    4. Eddie -

      I admire your self control. For me, I'm more of a shoot-from-the-hip type. I always seem to let my mouth outrun my brain. Gets me in trouble a lot.

  10. Kurds: "More than seven years of building a free and autonomous life in one of the most hostile places on earth, whilst also battling the biggest jihadist threat the modern world has seen, and now Rojava is being bombed by NATO."

    The busloads of jihadi TFSA or TSO headchoppers and liver eaters enroute via Turkey will be a bigger problem for the women and children of Rohava. And when the YPG reacts Erdodog will increase the artilley attacks and airstrikes and tell the world how justified he was. He'll probably demand Article 5 be activated, although that won't happen.

    And if our dufus in the WH decides in his 'great and unmatched wisdom' to 'destroy and obliterate' Turkey's economy, then Erdogan will sign up with the EEU and get huge trade deals with Russia, China, Iran, and the former CCCP -stans.

  11. Now the a$$wipe in the WH is claiming the Kurds did not help us at Normandy? Well, actually they did take part in helping to defeat Hitler. Kurds living in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia were in the Red Army during WW2. One case in point is LtCol Semendê Elî Siyabendov‎, a Kurd from Soviet Armenia and a Hero of the Soviet Union.

    He was awarded the Orders of Lenin, Red Banner (twice), Red Star, Badge of Honour (twice), Order of the Patriotic War (three times), and the Medal for Courage. He was not the only Kurd in the Red Army.

    And I don't doubt that there was a Kudish-American GI at Normany that had come over as a child during the Turkish War of Independence when the first Kurds immigrated to America. Probably a Tennessee boy.

    1. Yeahm, the Normandy doctrine about whether to help or not to help will be beloved in Japan...

    2. I can't even...

      And yet, 35-40% of America luuurves this fucking moron.

  12. Oh, and FWIW...the troop movement that greenlighted Operation Kill the Kurds didn't even DEROS the guys from northeastern Syria; they were just moved somewhere else in-country. So much for THAT lying sack of shit.

    And I note that the Turkish economy remains surprisingly undestroyed, so apparently a little random shelling and a smattering of dead civvies aren't "off limits" to a chief executive of great and unmatched wisdom...

  13. Donny's investors are not gonna like this tweet:

    1. It's a fake.

      Mind you, Lidcul isn't wrong. But there was no real banner...

  14. Are the events at the US and French OPs on Mashtenour Hill just plain old TKK artillery incompetence? Or a deliberate message from either Erdodog & Hulusi, or from a low ranking TKK commander with Gray Wolves membership and a grudge up his backside?

  15. Chief - Re your 10/12 Update: I'm wondering if any old-timers of those 3000 on their way to the Kingdom were there 23 years ago when the USAF lost 17 killed.

    Also re the TKK artillery shelling within 225 meters of the US SOF outpost on Mashtenour Hill: The Turks claimed they were firing on a YPG position 1000 meters behind the US outpost. As an old Fire Direction wizard, what is your opinion on the perhaps 775 meter (or more?) differential?

    1. Turkish artillery munition production had a horrible reputation during the Cold War. Germany once bought 155 mm munitions from them and had to do all-new testing to determine their actual external ballistics of the production lots.

    2. Well, not knowing what systems - both cannon and fire control - the Turkish battery was using I can only offer a guess, but here are my thoughts:

      1. A range error is, at least, more likely than a deflection error. Outside of pure computational error there are at least six factors that can cause errors of range. These include: muzzle velocity, projectile weight (as Sven notes), range wind, air temperature, air density, and rotation of the earth. Deflection errors are typically influenced by three; crosswinds, earth rotation, and "drift", the tendency of a spinning projectile to curve in the direction of the rotation.

      2. Computational errors can include simple mathematical error, incorrect battery location and elevation, incorrect target location and elevation, and failure to correct for geographic conditions, such as failing to calculate (or incorrectly calculating) angle of site.

      3. That said, a 700-meter range error presumes either a hugely gross computational error, or a cascade of factors. FM 6-40 states that the typical Probable Error of Range - that is, the effect of things like the projo manufacture irregularities Sven mentions, or propellant temperature, or deviations from the most recent meteorological data, are well within 100 meters. The example the FM uses states that FT 155-AM-2 shows that the value of range probable error for charge 5 green bag (GB) at a range of 6,000 meters is 15 meters. On the basis of the 100 percent rectangle, 50 percent of the rounds will impact within 15 meters (over and short) of the mean range line, 82 percent will impact within 30 meters (over and short), 96 percent will impact within 45-meters (over and short), and 100 percent will impact within 60 meters.

      Based on a quick perusal of the 'net it looks like the standard RA self-propelled system is the T-155 "Firtina", a licensed version of the ROK K-9. That's a decent system, and should be capable of getting well within the PER of the M126 155mm system of the M109.

      In other words...if the Turkish gunners were splashing within 200 meters of the US position and 700 meters away from what was supposed to be their target, they were either 1) pretty grossly incompetent at fairly simple fire direction tasks, or 2) jerking the Yankees' chains.

    3. Thanks for the info. I note that the ROK K9 design is based on the M109. Based on Sven's comment, perhaps Turkish Quality Control was poor when building to spec on the T51.

    4. My understanding is that the Firtina is supposed to be a fairly decent system. I wouldn't presume that the manufacture is substandard because of problems with projos back in the 1960s or 1970s. Shells are cheap, and can be subbed out to some pretty shifty contractors. Full-on howitzer systems? Not so much...

    5. And one thing I should have emphasized more is the thing about "angle of site"; specifically, this US position is on a ridge. If the supposed target was in defilade behind it and the elevation difference is considerable - say 400-500 meters - AND the Turkish FDC didn't plot or compute the intervening terrain correctly it would be very likely that if they fired this as a low-angle mission the rounds would strike the ridge; the fire direction system wouldn't "see" the ridge and would assume that they were passing through empty air rather than the intervening ground.

      If the topography is relatively gentle, or the rounds were fired as a high-angle mission...that's not an excuse, and it was, as discussed, either deliberately targeting the US position, or a gross fire direction error.

    6. The ridge has always bothered me. The Turks initially claimed they were taking DShK fire from 1000 meters directly behind the US outpost. DShk is a 12.7mm machine gun. But when I look on both google maps and wikimapia, it appears that terrain 1000 meters behind the OP is much lower. So the Turk claim is BS.

      There are reports that the US OP was bracketed. Doesn't sound like incompetence. And this morning SecDef Esper would not say the fire was accidental when specifically asked by the Face-the-Nation Reporter.

      In any case we are leaving now. At least in the NE. Not sure how long it will take. But it looks like Bone-Spurs is leaving troops in the East at the main Damascus/Baghdad border crossing; at the behest of Netanyahu to block the quickest route for Iran to resupply the Hez.

    7. The Syrian government has tolerated the Americans, but the Shia incl. Hezbollah are part of their coalition. An American force in Syria with no other function than blocking a MSR between Syria/Hezbollah and Iran would not be tolerated any more.
      Syria could with 100% legitimacy go to the USNC and UN General Assembly and accuse the U.S. of illegally and aggressively occupying parts of Syria. There would be no official sanctions, but it would be very harmful and further erode what moral high ground the Western democracies supposedly have and will want to wield.
      Remember what happened when some Sunni looneys accused the U.S. of occupying Saudi-Arabia.

  16. Re Normandy: (Kurdish paratrooper Omar Ahmad Barzanji)

    Meanwhile many Arabs throughout the ME cooperated with Hitler. The Turks remained neutral but did business with and supplied the Nazis. They got Marshall Plan $$$ despite never being in the fight and never suffering war damage.

  17. Unsurprisingly, the Syrian Kurds are desperately trying to come to some sort of deal with the Assad regime as the entire US MAC-K pulls out. And also unsurprisingly, the Sunni fanatics the Turks are siccing into NE Syria are killing prisoners and civilians, and the Turkish economy is still, surprisingly, un-destroyed.

    I'm perfectly happy to see the GIs the hell out of Syria. And that's about the only upside I see here.

    What IS disturbing is I'm reading hints that this wasn't simply Trump wanting to #endendlesswars, but this was a quid pro quo with Erdogan; Erdie wanted to do some genocide on the Kurds, and Trump greenlighted it by moving our guys out. No move, no it's not just Trump getting out of Syria, it's about Trump fluffing his buddy Erdie so he can do some killing.

    Abandoning the Kurds for geopolitical reasons may be a nasty bit of cynical realpolitik.

    Abandoning them in order to facilitate Turkish killing?

    I'm not sure there's a nasty-enough term for the nastiness of that.

  18. Deal was made. But unfortunately Assad only agre to deploy the SAA to Manbij, Kobane, and Qamishli. There is no Turkish forces ground troop invasion in or near those three areas. The Turks and their chop-chop Syrian militias have crossed the border in Tel Abyad, Ras al-Ayn, and in between those two cities. That are is where the Syrian civilians are being killed. And it is where Erdo wants to resettle 3M refugees on someone elses land.

    I smell a rat in the Putin/Erdogan dealings. Assad has no choice but to go along with it or lose Russian support. I kinda feel sorry for the guy, sure he's a monster, but nobody deserves both the friends and the enemies that Assad has.

  19. Sven -

    No way that I agree with Trump about leaving a detachment at al-Tanf. But according to this NYT article he is going to do it for now anyway.

  20. Apparently the Trumpkins' line is going to be that he/they were stupid rather than murderous:

  21. And, apparently, Erdogan was counting on Trumpy Bear to keep him from being stupid, which says something about how clueless Erdogan is about the Trumpster:

    "Erdoğan did not expect — or want — a 30-km-deep (18-mile) buffer; that was assumed to be a negotiation aimed at getting something smaller. Now Erdoğan may be in over his head and facing global condemnation and sanctions, but he got so far extended politically inside Turkey that he has had little choice but to go forward, the official said."

  22. It gets worse the more you look at it; apparently the Kurds have been perfectly perceptive about Trumpy's unwillingness to give them a ring, and have been asking to see other people, but lead by Fathead-In-Chief John Bolton the US DoD and DoS were promising that they'd really, truly, leave their wife this time...until the clock ran out because the Big Lebowski got impatient.

  23. Kurds were trying to make deals with Assad and Putin long before Trump was elected. They actually had a semi-alliance with Russia until Putin gave Erdogan the green light to invade & occupy Afrin in early 2018.

    Now the YPG & SDF are reportedly part of the Syrian Army's 5th Corps. And they may or may not get Kurdish rights written into in the new Syrian constitution with some degree of autonomy. But Assad (like a certain former Manhattan real estate tycoon wannabee) has been known to offer up Wimpy type sandwiches with a hook attached to the meat. When the offeree goes to take a bite the line is pulled and the meat disappears. After the Kurds usefulness against Turkey and the jihadist rebels goes away, their promised semi-autonomy will also go up in smoke. And Assad's Mukhbarat will re-begin a new reign of repression in the NE.

    Before that happens I wouldn't be surprised if Assad makes the Kurds go to al-Tanf to retake that area from the US Special Forces unit and their Maghawir al-Thawra as a test of their allegiance.

    1. Yep.

      Still, the culpability of Trump's people is in not being honest (even if on the downlow) with their Kurdish contacts.

      And that's not really the case; the problem is that Trump has no "policy" so his people can't have one, either. They have to try and figure out what he's gonna pull out of his capacious ass from one day to the next, and that has to be damn near impossible.

      Once again, the Kurds are fucked. But the part "we" played in that is truly loathsome.

  24. Pious Pence to maybe meet with Erdogan Thursday to sweetalk a ceasefire. He'll be accompanied by SecState Pom-Pom and Trump's Nat'l Scty Adviser Robert O'Brien. Pence is not much of a negotiator and won't have any authority to horse trade, so is probably being set up to fail by his boss. Pom-Pom won't do jack as he is too wrapped up in dirty deals with the Ukraine.

    O'Brien is a weird choice. His claim to fame is his term as Presidential Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs when he threatened Swedish courts trying to get rapper A$AP Rocky freed from an assault charge. Why Trump wanted to go all out for a foul-mouthed, violent, woman-beating, convicted drug dealer is beyond me. Why would he send a hostage negotiator instead of a low level diplomat to browbeat the Swedes about a penny-ante thug guilty of assault.

    Brow-beating Erdogan won't do any good. And besides, the fix is already in as Putin will make sure any TKK troops eventually withdraw. But leaving the Turkish proxies to grind down the YPG & SDF. When the Turks withdraw, count on it that Trump will claim the credit, and restart his barnstorming for a Nobel Prize.

    1. Pious Pence should come home. Sky News is reporting "Turkish President Erdogan says he will not be meeting with the U.S. delegation in Turkey, but will only speak with his United States' counterpart Donald Trump".


    Forget Impeachment.
    Article 25 NOW!

    1. Jesus Fucking Roosevelt Christ.

      Get the fucking net.

  26. I have a question about troop quality. Given that the Russians have essentially banished the Turkish Air Force from norther Syria the only fire support the Turks can offer from is artillery. My guess is that the Turkish proxy forces are essentially useless and that Erdogan doesn't want to send (many of) his regular troops into northern Syria. This means that his proxies will go toe to toe with the SDF and the SAA. My guess is that the Turkish proxy forces are essentially useless, so unless the SDF is equally incompetent, they are likely to quickly get crushed if they climb out of their holes.

    This analysis would explain why the Turkey has not been advancing very quickly. Does this make sense?

    Also, I note that the SAA/SDF are making trouble around A'zaz and Al Bab. Does this mean that the entire Turkish position in Syria is in jeopardy? Could the SAA snap up large chunks of Idlib and Afrin?

  27. Ael -

    My admittedly incomplete understanding of the SDF/SAA deal is that the SAA reinforces Kobane and Qamishli areas. In those areas there has been no incursion so far by either Turks or their proxies; only air and artillery strikes that stopped once the SAA arrived. The SDF fights in the center at Ras al-Ayn (Serikaniye) and Tel Abyad (Gire Spi) areas where there has been a massive incursion by TKK and their jihadi allies. Whether or not the SDF will get fire support from the SAA is unknown. But there have been reports that they are moving BM-21 Grad MLRS to Ain Issa, which is within range of the Turkish incursion at Tel Abyad.

    Turkish artillery is long ranging. They have both 155s and 8-inchers lined up on the border. I believe it can affect ops anywhere within the combat zone. The proxies have Turkish Special Forces with them, they are capable of directing and observing fire. Plus drones and recon aircraft flying within Turkish airspace could also direct fire on targets close to the border. SDF has nothing to counter Turk Arty except for mortars.

    Aren't there also Turkish main battle tanks in Syria? I'm thinking those would not be manned by proxies.

  28. Ael -

    Regarding A'zaz and Al Bab: In the long term I think you are correct. But I don't see it happening tomorrow. How soon that happens is the big question. Eventually Turkey is going to abide by the Russian diktat to leave Syria.

  29. Mike-
    All true, however I have seen pictures of SAA tanks and MLRS up near Ayn Issa so I think the SAA is moving faster than the Turks.

    Also, Turkey seems to be in a hurry to declare a "ceasefire" with the Americans (of course, none of the SDF, Syria, or Russia was involved in this ceasefire. If the Turks indeed back off for a week, northern Syria will be a *much* harder nut for them to crack. Eredogan knows this.

    We will learn a lot by watching what happens tomorrow.

  30. You are right about what happens tomorrow. But my thinking is the SDF will never agree to a ceasefire while Turks and their jihadis are in Syria. Turkey knows this. And I doubt the Turkish supported jihadis will be bound by any ceasefire.

    1. The USA has agreed that they will move the SDF away from the border. I am not sure how much influence America has with the Kurds right now. Still, if the Kurds can hem and haw for a couple days, they get a very good chance to dig in and dare the Turks to molon labe.

  31. U.S. special envoy on Syria James Jeffrey: "It's not called a ceasefire in the document agreed by the U.S. and Turkey, it's called a pause, where the Turks will cease moving forward & taking military actions other than self-defense for a 5-day period in areas that they control."

    SDF Commander Mazlum Kobani: "This ceasefire is only for the fight that has erupted in the last 9 days in Ras al-Ayin & Tall Abyad. We will do anything to make this ceasefire a success. Meanwhile, our forces will remain in other places."

    The Syrian government:

    Meanwhile, during this 'Pause' TKK is building new bases in Syria, and are bottling up SDF forces still in Serekaniye (Ras al-Ayn). Plus you can bet the farm that also during the 'Pause' the TKK is sending reinforcements and resupply south from their bases at Elazig and Diyarbakir.

  32. Meant to say that the Syrian Government claims they are NOT bound by this agreement. The so-called 'safe zone' is is incorrect, this is an occupation. "Erdoğan is the invader in our lands. We are looking to get back Afrin, Jarabulus and Idlib."

  33. My question is "How does this operational pause (since it's NOT a ceasefire and fighting is going to continue) "work with the U.S. on the ground in Syria?"

    I mean, the only way this actually helps is if there's a massive Dunkirk of Kurds from NE Syria; lock, stock, pots, pans, cats, kids...everyone gets marshaled out of their farms, towns, and cities, trucked to the railhead or airhead, and then from there to secure locations...where? somewhere south in Syria? To refugee camps at the tender mercies of Assad's Mukhabarat? To Iraq or Jordan?

    Trump sure as hell ain't gonna take million of filthy wogs here in God's Great America.

    And how does the US actually facilitate this? The logistics alone are breathtaking, and would require a massive commitment from a superpower - how the hell are the Syrian Kurds themselves going to do this alone? Surrounded by enemies (or at least people who are indifferent to their survival) and without a welcoming place to go to? I'm sure they might get a grudging reception from Iraqi Kurdistan, but those provinces are not rich, and have little in the way of resources (or need) for million of displaced relatives; it's be like having my in-laws come to live in our basement.

    I mean...after Trump greenlighted this atrocity it's good that his people have managed to somehow deflect some of it. But I don't see how this works as anything but a rolling goatscrew without massive, immediate, and well-organized US-supported and internationally-coordinated evacuation.

    To kick back and congratulate yourself over this is pure Trumpian looney-tunes

    1. Your mention of the Munich Agreement is prescient. Since he took office Moron Don has reminded me of the 'Coroner' AKA Neville Chamberlain. They may have had different motives, but both have the same end results. Erdogan violated the 'Pause' as soon as it was announced. He, Erdo, is also making a game of the Russian declared NFZ. Turkish Air Force is staying on the north side of the border and using stand-off weapons against the SDF.