The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

As Turkey Enters Syria

and takes Jarablus, one wonders what Turkey is doing in Syria. As with everyone, they’re claiming to be there to fight ISIS, and Jarablus was held by ISIS. The ostensible goal is a security zone south of the border, the sub voce goal may be to stop further expansion of the Kurdish YPG mini-state from growing any further, and the fear may be that it will turn on the YPG forces.

The YPG has been working with both the US and Russia, however, and Turkey has been cozying up with Russia recently, even as its relationship with the US has soured since the abortive military coup which Edrogan blames on Gulen, who lives in the US, and which many Turks believe had US support.

At the least, Turkey believes that the Kurds are a major existential threat, and in the past it has very much wanted an end to Assad. Turkey has been a major supporter of ISIS, not its enemy, so it may be wise to see just how much damage it does ISIS in the end, whom it has officially blamed for a suicide bomb attack on a Kurdish wedding.

It’s not clear to me what Turkey’s actual goals are here, but I do think the most important thing is that Turkey has made many gestures of goodwill and reconciliation with Russia recently, so one presumes the plan is not to go all in and take out Assad (which Turkey has the military strength to do).

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  1. different clue

    Guest commenter The Twisted Genius has posted a comment on this subject at Sic Semper Tyrannis. That post and thread would be worth following concurrently with this one.

    Obviously Erdogan wants to cripple or kill any autonomous Kurdish group or capability in Syria. What else does he want? He still wants to Salaficate and Jihadify Syria in the long run, and that will bring him into conflict with the R + 6 in the long run. In the shorter run, he is just improvising as he goes along. Strategery and tacktickery are all he has. Since he thinks like a gangster rather than a chess player, trying to predict his “chess moves” in advance is a fruitless endeavor. If someone here has had enough experience with the Criminal Underworld to really truly understand how Dons and Godfathers think, they might offer their predictions as to what Erdogan will do next. I suspect Don Erdogan thinks more like Crazy Joey Gallo than like the calm Grand Masters of Crime Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky used to think. But that is just pure intuition on my part.

  2. Peter*

    What this action shows me is that Erdogan has gained full control of the Turkish military now especially the frontier forces who’s actions made it appear he was colluding with the IS. The Gulenists have been swept away and now what were only rhetorical promises of action are facts on the ground. The Kurds will not be allowed to unite their territories as Erdogan warned them repeatedly and the IS will be pushed away from the border situation Erdogan couldn’t control until now.

    This beginning of clearing the Safe Zone actually fits well with the US desire to direct the Kurds to attack the IS to their south towards al Raqqa the direction they wanted the Kurds to pursue to earn their arms and aid they received by tackling that much more dangerous task.

    The window of opportunity is short with the Red Queen’s planned Shock and Awe nearing for Assad and his minions so we may be seeing an end game scenario playing out hoping for a negotiated end to this part of the Syrian War before it is too late.

  3. Synoia

    one wonders what Turkey is doing in Syria

    Reconquering Syria Palestrina one step at a time.

    As expected Erdogan has invaded to “keep the peace.” IS has done a great job at assembling all the discontented in a single area all to be eliminated sooner or later.

    Look at a map. Syria and the Iraqi desert are between Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which is a contiguous area, which is the objective of the New Ottoman Empire., founded on Saudi Money, Wahhabi Extremism, and Turkish Military power.

    The Kurds are just meat in his sandwich.

  4. bruce wilder

    It doesn’t appear to be a big commitment of resources, and ISIL was apparently warned off in advance. Coinciding with Biden’s visit, it seems to be sending an extortionate message to the U.S. and Biden responded by obediently warning off the Kurds.
    Does Erdogan also have a long game? Given his somewhat tone-deaf nostalgia for Ottoman glories, he’s probably thinking it would be a good idea to be in a position to benefit from a partition or federalization of Syria. Aleppo is the great rival to Damascus, which has been Assad’s base. Aleppo’s glory days, at least as far as modern recall is concerned, belonged to a time when Aleppo was midway on the road from Mosul to Alexandretta, between the Euphrates and the sea and also had access to a great Anatolian hinterland. Turkey has possession of the sea (Alexandretta) and Anatolia and is now securing one bank of the Euphrates. Erdogan may well imagine that Turkey could offer a lot to Aleppo. Maybe not annexation, but one can dream — maybe only a regional hegemony in a federalized Syria and practical support for Turkey’s claims on Mosul.

    The Russians may have turned the tide in Aleppo for Assad. Or the FSA is warning the Turks that that is the case. Erdogan may be getting ready for an end-game.

    The U.S. continues to very weak and confused, sapped by alliances to powers that cannot be trusted on any level — Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Shiite Iraq.

  5. Tom

    Turkey never once supported IS. There is zero proof of that and no one ever supported IS which is self-financed.

    If Turkey did, it would not have intervened to protect Kobani and allowed PKK and KDP Peshmerga to reinforce it as well as provide artillery support.

    The only difference between SDF and IS is IS is at least honest about its atrocities while SDF is not.

    Any event, Turkey, FSA, and the SDF are already engaging in battle as we speak with the SDF being wiped out and pushed back.

    Also Jarabulus was taken largely intact, which is good.

  6. Synoia

    “Turkey never once supported IS. There is zero proof of that and no one ever supported IS which is self-financed.”

    Where did the oil trucks unload their crude?
    Which Tank Farms? (Hint not Syrian, those tank farms are targets)
    How did the crude cross the Turkish border?
    Who allowed the Tankers (Ships) is come and load at the port of Ceyhan?
    Who issued the bill of lading?
    Who process the loading receipts for the oil (The Turking Dock Authorities)?
    Which Banks were involved in this so-called “Self Financing”?

    The Faries? Or the Turks?

    One would regard the logistics to enable crude export as “support” and Erdogan’s son was implicated in the financing of the oil trade. Certainly exporting oil requires a lot of paperwork, demanded by banks to pay for the oil.

    We are talking millions of dollars in Bank Financing here.

    Thanks for stepping into this trap. Unfortunately sometime one of the commentators here actually has some experience in the logistics and processes of the “self-financed” oil trade.

  7. different clue

    Aside from the massive oil shipments from ISIStan through Turkey, other Erdogist support for ISIS has been discussed now and then at Sic Semper Tyrannis . . . things like keeping the border open so ISIStas could come and go, get supplies in, etc.

  8. V. Arnold

    August 24, 2016

    Just where have you been? Off planet would be my guess.
    Zero proof? Again, where the hell have you been?

    Thanks Synoia, great points. Almost not even worth a reply to the kind of ignorance of reality on display by Tom.

  9. Peter*


    The Islamic State certainly sold oil at the wellhead to oil transporters who then distributed that oil, which they then owned, around Syria and into Iraqi Kurdistan and into Turkey where it was mixed with other oil in the Kurdish pipeline that ended at Ceyhan and was shipped from there. The IS had no control over that oil after they sold it and any deals made to cross borders were made by the transporters with the Turkish border forces which I understand Erdogan had little control over until the recent purges and reorganizing of the military.

    Tom is correct in that there has been no verified evidence to tie Erdogan to the IS or it’s oil business and even Putin who claimed publicly he had evidence failed to produce anything but a foreign statistical analysis of the oil flow. The oil business in Turkey is in private hands and the huge profits this black market oil offered lubricated the gears and opened the valves to let it flow.

    Sites such as SST and MOA excel in parroting rumors, misunderstood information and propaganda and repeat it constantly until they claim it as fact which it is certainly not.

  10. different clue


    Could you give some specific examples of parroted rumors, misunderstood information and propaganda that have occurred at SST? Could you also supply the proof-positive corrective information which indisputably and specifically disproves and refutes the certain specific examples of parroted rumors, misunderstood information and propaganda which you will be able to supply? Can you offer the specific sources ( links would sure be nice) to the specific indisputable rebuttals and disproofs to the specific examples of parroted rumors, misunderstood information and propaganda which you will be happy to supply in order to prove your case?

    If SST exCELS in this practice of parroting rumors, misunderstood information and propaganda, that must mean that SST must have been doing it a long time . . . long enough to have learned how to exCEL at it. So . . . I am sure you can give us several speCIFic examples of SST having done all this in speCIFic instances over the many months or years that SST would have had to be doing this in order to have reached a level of EXcellence in the parroting of rumors, misunderstood information and propaganda.

    I certainly don’t want to be the foolish victim of parroted rumors, misunderstood information and propaganda. I await your setting me straight in this matter.

  11. V. Arnold

    @ Peter*

    A bit disingenuous don’t you think? I wouldn’t want facts to interfere with your beliefs; however Russia released many photo’s of long lines of tankers at the TURKISH border with Syria.
    Now, just how could they possibly cross Turkey’s border with out permission from high places?
    It was also widely reported Erdogan’s son was the main broker of that oil once inside Turkey.
    Turkey’s duplicity in dealing with the war on terror and partnering with ISIL/ISIS raises no red flags for you and Tom? Wow.
    The link below is not a western media link, but Al Arabia.

    I’d supply more links but doubt very much it would change anything in your line of thinking.

  12. EmilianoZ

    China seems to be intensifying its cooperation with the Syrian gov’mint alongside Russia and Iran:

  13. Peter*


    Putin’s claim about having proof of Erdogan’s involvement with the IS oil business came after these photos of tankers at the border were released and they only show oil tankers at the border anything else you think they may represent is pure speculation. This IS oil was also sold in Assad held areas of Syria and in rebel held areas of the country just as it was before the war. I thought Putin actually had evidence of Erdogan’s involvement but he apparently knew many people would parrot his disingenuous propaganda claims even if he couldn’t produce any evidence. The same is true for your ‘ widely reported’ facts about Erdogan’s son who is apparently involved in building oil tanker ships to transport Kurdish oil from Ceyhan. I don’t think the ships were even completed at the time that this spin and rumor campaign reached its peak frenzy.

    The Turkish coup attempt showed how Erdogan’s control of the military was compromised and that was especially true of the border forces where for political or purely mercantile reasons these oil tankers were allowed to pass and the same conclusion can be applied to the movement of IS recruits and supplies during that time so there was duplicity involving that faction of the Turkish military. If Erdogan knew of this duplicity, which is likely, he had no ability at that time to counter it but he does now and we have seen he views this border security issue as paramount and has acted accordingly.

  14. Peter*

    The Chinese have been assisting Assad at a low level from the beginning of this civil war but I doubt we will see the PLA marching into Damascus to save the dictator from his own subjects. The only projection of military power the Chinese are pursuing is their Rapid Response Force in Africa to be used to protect their mercantile interests on that continent.

  15. different clue

    With regard to my comment of yesterday a little up-thread:

    A day later and still awaiting.

  16. Tom


    IS sold Oil to the Syrian Regime (till late 2015), SDF (till 2014), and to the KRG (till 2014) according to captured documents taken by US Raids. Oil smugglers were another set of income using FETO links which have since been purged in Turkey after Erdogan’s crackdown on the FETO in the wake of their attempted Coup which in turn turned up more information on FETO smuggling networks connections to IS allowing Turkey to finally put some IS cell leaders in Turkey behind bars for good on tax evasion if nothing else. Many of the officers suspended by Turkey were corrupt border guards who were facilitating smuggling and had been protected by FETO Judges till the purges in July.

    IS’s main source of income is direct taxing of people under its rule and using informal banking and despite everything, issuing its own gold currency (Most likely made out of tungsten shells seized from Palmyra and you need good chemistry knowledge to distinguish).

    Turkey has always supported the FSA, and Falaq al Sham has many Turkish Military Soldiers “on vacation” serving in it with Erdogan’s blessing.

    In truth no one supports IS which has been around since 1989 when it was first formed in Afghanistan by Abu Musab al Zarqawi. It is it’s own group and is beholden to no one.

  17. different clue

    With regard to my question about whether either Peter* or anyone else can show me detailed evidence proving that SST exCELS in the rePEATed practice of parroting rumors, misunderstood information and propaganda . . . . it has been four days now and I am still eagerly awaiting any specific and genuinely and forensically-provable fact based information which anyone cares to print here in this thread.

    If someone does, be assured that I will give it my very sincerest of all due respect and consideration.

  18. Peter*


    I thought you would get the clue that I don’t usually respond to peckish demands and I doubt I can help you with straightening your thinking if you don’t recognize when you are being propagandized.

    Pat Lang, AKA Col Mustard, is a great source of information on our military, technical and operational but most of his writing on the Syria conflict reads like the fantasy fiction he is known for. He does enjoy using Nazi military nomenclature to describe the Axis of Resistance Forces actions even though they rarely live up to the German model of efficiency.

    A revealing example of the propaganda at his site is the news and analysis sources he promotes. South Front was the latest I noticed who parrot one simple piece of repeating propaganda, that any armed group who opposes Assad is designated as Terrorists/Jihadists and foreign is often added for good measure. This is the propaganda line began by Assad along with the Supreme Leader and mostly adopted by Putin. Putin’s claim of having proof of Erdogan’s connections to the IS and their oil business was just a bald faced lie but it also is useful propaganda repeated by the clueless as if it were a fact.

  19. Tom W Harris

    I doubt Putin will let us get away with our blatant aggression.

  20. Peter*


    Except for Putin blocking the UN resolution on Assad what else can he do?

  21. different clue

    Well, Peter*, thank you for finally responding. I will give your example every bit of the due consideration which it deserves.

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