Hello all. In the old forum I tried to keep people up to date on what was going on in Syria and to keep discussions going on what was and is a very complex and dangerous situation. It can loosely be compared to a game of Risk being played in real time for real consequences. Especially with Trump president now(and I can guarantee you that if he did the text on Idlib earlier this week his first response was “What the **** is Idlib?”) Not too many people cared before, but with the
presumed Idlib offensive probably starting
next week it’s probably a good time to start one. Soooo, let’s go.
For background, Syria/Iran/Russia are getting ready to assault Idlib governorate(which the rebels mostly control along with parts of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo governorates). They’ve managed to reconcile/drive out the rebels from every other part of the country except for here, the SDF controlled north east where we are, the area around al-Tanf where we also are with the last non SDF rebel group we support, and Afrin and North Aleppo where Turkey has completely occupied along with their pet TFSA groups. There are about 3 million people in the northwest rebel areas. Afrin and North Aleppo are completely controlled by Turkey and Assad isn’t going to attack there. But Idlib is controlled by different factions with HTS(successor to al-Nusra which was once and essentially is an al-Qaeda affiliate) probably the strongest along with JTS, TIP and various FSA groups. Now along the rebel borders Turkey has 12 observation posts to limit conflict between pro Assad forces and the rebels as part of a deal to deescalate. Now that deal is about to go out the window which is what this Assad offensive is all about. So Turkey, Assad and Russia are in talks about this, but it seems like Assad is just going to go all in and target the “terrorists” in Idlib. Which is any rebel in Assad’s mind but which we pretty much only consider HTS. HTS controls the city of Idlib and most of the border between Idlib and Turkey. So the big question is what’s going to happen if/when the assault starts. Turkey’s troops are literally on the front line in those observation posts(and we’re not talking like a couple guys we’re talking maybe a couple thousand troops along the borders and more spread out throughout Idlib). Turkey is moving tanks and other reinforcements to the border. Might just be doing what Jordan did when Assad took back Daraa, or they might be getting ready to enter Idlib with armored, mechanized and anti aircraft forces. HTS could disband(ostensibly removing a reason for the operation in most of the world’s eyes), or Turkey could join in an anti HTS campaign with Assad(which I think is highly unlikely) and take HTS territory along their border with the help of Turkish backed rebels. Turkey could do nothing and be content with holding Afrin and North Aleppo. Or something else entirely could happen. God only knows. But it’s a highly delicate complicated situation. One for which Trump has absolutely no knowledge about. I can pretty much guarantee that. But this is the kind of thing that can start World War III, and that’s not even counting the situation between SDF(our major allies that control about 30% of Syria) and Assad. So I’m hoping Trump’s advisors who actually do stuff and stop him from doing the stupid stuff are on their game. Trump mentioning Idlib in a tweet is very out of character and Haley talking about it a lot is out of character for this administration. We were relatively silent about Daraa earlier in the year. And don’t forget that Turkey is a NATO ally.
I’m confused? One the one hand you accuse Trump of having absolutely no knowledge about the situation in Idlib, and then you turn right around and concede that his advisors do have knowledge. Are you implying that they are keeping him in the dark and doing things behind his back?
Wouldn’t it be more credible to believe that Trump is being kept abreast of the developing situation and that he is being presented with options that he will be able to choose from, in terms of a response?
Actually, I never conceded his advisors have knowledge, I just said I hope they’re on their game to stop him doing something stupid. For a normal president yes I would absolutely believe that he is kept abreast of things by knowledgeable advisors and is aware of what is going on and is given options he understands. But Trump has shown time and again that he doesn’t have any knowledge about world events when he talks about them even after a president would normally be briefed on things. He does not absorb information. Examples:
Doesn’t understand how Brexit works
Thinks NATO members owe actual money/aren’t paying bills
Thinks EU can make citizens buy things
Does not understand how bills become law and what the process is
Doesn’t understand how treaties work and how they’re started or ended
Thinks all of Korea used to be part of China
Doesn’t understand what trade deficits are and who we have surpluses with
Thinks that somehow the stock market rising cancels out US nation debt
Doesn’t understand the basic principle of NATO members being required to defend other NATO members(see Montenegro)
Refugee agreements we have with our allies when talking to a Prime Minister over the phone(see Australia)
Not important, but thinking people show ID to buy groceries. Which is humorous.
Want me to go on? That’s just public information. Don’t get me started on the things its reported that he doesn’t understand. Things like Time Zones and why assasinating Assad might be a bad idea. How our security alliance with South Korea is helpful to us. Stuff like that.
Turkey will do whatever advances Erdoğan’s plan to create a Turkish controlled space in which he will exile Kurds and other (in his mind) “trouble makers” who do not sufficiently assimilate into his vision of a modern (and initially smaller) Ottoman caliphate. Note that the old Ottoman empire did not require all to be Muslims either on culture or faith. But these other groups would not have the same rights as the citizen who accepts the right brand of Islam and assimilated into the Turkish culture… however he defines it.
Erdoğan is patient and he has limits on how much global condemnation he wants to suffer for human rights violations. So he will not create a Kurdish genocide. (And I’m not suggesting that he has a genocidal impulse held back only by world politics. But if one does not accept that Erdoğan has some civility rooted in humanity, they should accept that he is a skillful politician who does not want that fight). And the forced exodus by Kurds from Turkey to this space will be advertised as “fair” with compensation to Kurdish land owners. But he wants Turkey to be Turkish more than anything else.
President Bashar al-Assad of Syria must not recklessly attack Idlib Province. The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy. Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed. Don’t let that happen!
This is going to be another topic you know nothing about(you didn’t admit earlier today that you had no idea what the wage growth percentages from your own article meant). I personally think Obama made a mistake for not striking Assad in 2013. But after the deal to remove Assad’s sarin happened, there were no chemical attacks while Obama was president. He waited till Trump to do it again. Multiple times. And our own government says he’s getting ready to do it again. But what Obama did do was arm the CIA vetted groups with TOWs and other weapons to fight Assad and his Iranian and Hezbollah allies. Killing thousands of them and destroying hundreds of armored vehicles. Those arms helped the rebels take Idlib governorate in the first place. Trump stopped all that and now the only rebels left are in the Northwest and theyre only still there because of Turkey. So there’s that.