Category Archives: Middle East

Putin Thumbs Down Erdogan’s Ottoman Ambition in Syria

In recent weeks, Sultan Erdogan is testing Vladimir Putin’s resolve in defending Syrian sovereignty by sending more Turkish troops to aid the remaining ISIS terrorists at their last stronghold in the Idlib province. Erdogan even complained about what the Russians are doing in the area, as if the region is still under the reign of the Ottoman Empire.

Ex-USMC intelligence officer Scott Ritter wrote this for Russia Today,

New Putin-Erdogan deal is sugar-coating the Turks’ surrender

by Scott Ritter

This week’s meeting between Presidents Putin and Erdogan in Moscow was cast as preventing a war between Russia and Turkey in Syria. War, however, was never on the horizon. Putin called Erdogan’s bluff, and the Turk folded.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan, accompanied by their respective senior national security advisers, met in Moscow on March 5. The purpose of this emergency summit was to negotiate the terms of a ceasefire that would bring an end to heavy fighting in Syria’s Idlib province that threatened to draw their two nations into direct military conflict.

After more than six hours of meeting, a new agreement, packaged as an “additional protocol” to the “Memorandum on Stabilization of the Situation in the De-escalation Area as of September 17, 2018” (better known as the “Sochi Agreement”), was agreed to by both parties.

A sputtering offensive

Over the course of a week, from February 27 through March 5, Syria’s Idlib province transitioned from being ground zero for a war between the Syrian army and allied forces, and heavily armed groups opposed to the rule of Syrian President Bashar Assad, into a geopolitical powder keg that threatened to pull the Turkish and Russian militaries into direct conflict with one another.

On March 1, Turkey, following up on threats previously made by President Erdogan to drive the Syrian Army and its allies back to the line of demarcation set forth in the original Sochi Agreement, unleashed a major offensive, dubbed “Operation Spring Shield” and involving thousands of Turkish troops fighting alongside anti-Assad formations.

This operation soon fizzled; not only was the Turkish advance halted in its tracks, but the Syrian Army, supported by Hezbollah and pro-Iranian militias, were able to recapture much of the territory lost in the earlier fighting. Faced with the choice of either escalating further and directly confronting Russian forces, or facing defeat on the battlefield, Erdogan instead flew to Moscow.

The new additional protocol, which entered into effect at midnight Moscow time on Friday, March 6, represents a strategic defeat for Erdogan and the Turkish military which, as NATO’s second-largest standing armed force, equipped and trained to the highest Western standards, should have been more than a match for a rag-tag Syrian Army, worn down after nine years of non-stop combat.

The Syrian armed forces, together with its allies, however, fought the Turks to a standstill. Moreover, the anti-Assad fighters that had been trained and equipped by the Turks proved to be a disappointment on the battlefield.

One of the major reasons behind the Turkish failure was the fact that Russia controlled the air space over Idlib, denying the Turks the use of aircraft, helicopters and (except for a single 48-hour period) drones, while apparently using their own aircraft, together with the Syrian Air Force, to pummel both the Turkish military and their allied anti-Assad forces (though neither side has officially confirmed the Russians bombing the Turks – that would be a disaster for the talks).

In the end, the anti-Assad fighters were compelled to take shelter within so-called ‘Observation posts’– heavily fortified Turkish garrisons established under the Sochi Agreement, intermingling with Turkish forces to protect themselves from further attack. Operation Spring Shield turned out to be a resounding defeat for the Turks and their allies.

Problems talking doesn’t solve

Under the terms of the original Sochi Agreement, the Turkish military was supposed to oversee the removal of heavily armed anti-Assad forces, including Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a designated terrorist organization, from so-called ‘de-escalation zones.’ The failure to accomplish this task, coupled with continued attacks against Syrian positions by HTS fighters, prompted the Syrian Army’s attack in Idlib. The additional protocol negotiated this week in Moscow “reaffirms” the Turkish and Russian “dedication” to “combat all forms of terrorism” and to “eliminate all terrorist groups in Syria”.

How this will be implemented is not spelled out in the additional protocol, indeed, given the fact that the majority of the anti-Assad forces that have sought refuge in the Turkish observation posts are HTS fighters that had, just a week before, been provided arms and vehicles to carry out attacks coordinated with the Turkish Army, the practicalities of implementation appear non-existent.

The agreement also focuses on another critical, yet unfulfilled, aspect of the original Sochi agreement – the guarantee of safe passage along the strategic M4 and M5 highway corridors connecting the city of Aleppo with Latakia (M4) and Damascus (M5). The inability and/or unwillingness on the part of the Turks to follow through with this provision was the major impetus behind the current Syrian offensive in Idlib.

Indeed, the Syrian Army was able to gain full control of the M5 highway and was in the process of doing the same for the M4 highway when the Moscow agreement brought an end to the fighting.

Under the terms of the additional protocol, the new zones of de-escalation will be defined by the frontlines as they currently exist, securing the hard-won advances made by the Syrian Army and embarrassing Erdogan, who had promised to drive the Syrians back to the positions as they existed at the time of the original Sochi Agreement.

Moreover, the M4 highway will now be buffered by a 12-kilometer security zone (Six kilometers on each side), and will be jointly patrolled by Turkey and Russia, guaranteeing secure passage for commercial vehicle traffic. These patrols will begin on March 15, which means the Turks have ten days to oversee the evacuation of anti-Assad forces from this corridor–in effect, pushing them back north of the M4 highway, which was the goal of the Syrian offensive to begin with.

Back in line, but for how long?

While couched as a ceasefire agreement, the additional protocol produced by the Moscow summit between Putin and Erdogan on Thursday is a thinly disguised instrument of surrender. The Syrian government got everything it was looking for by launching its offensive, and the Turks and their anti-Assad allies were left licking their wounds in a much-reduced Idlib pocket.

Beyond preventing direct conflict between Turkey and Russia, the additional protocol achieves little that changes the situation on the ground. Turkey is still faced with the task of disarming the HTS fighters it currently embraces as allies, and the humanitarian crisis triggered by hundreds of thousands of refugees displaced by the earlier fighting remains.

In many ways, the additional protocol, like its antecedent, the Sochi Agreement, is an arrangement designed to fail, because by succeeding it only perpetuates an unsustainable reality that will only be resolved when the totality of Syrian territory is restored to the control of the Syrian government.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer. He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter

CIA Chief ‘behind Soleimani’s assassination’ Killed in Downed Plane in Afghanistan | Taliban

Russian intelligence sources have claimed that Michael D’Andrea, head of CIA operations in Iran and who orchestrated the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, was killed in a US spy plane downed yesterday in Ghazni, Afghanistan.

Continue reading CIA Chief ‘behind Soleimani’s assassination’ Killed in Downed Plane in Afghanistan | Taliban

Soleimani Fallout Continues to Produce Diplomatic Dividends for Russia

Ahead of this year’s Munich Security Conference, due to begin on February 14th, its chairman Wolfgang Ischinger praised what he called President Putin’s “method” concerning security-issues in the Middle East.

Continue reading Soleimani Fallout Continues to Produce Diplomatic Dividends for Russia

U.S. Says 11 US Troops Wounded in Iranian Missile Attack Despite Earlier Denials

The United States military has said that 11 of its troops were wounded in an Iranian retaliatory missile attack last week despite Washington’s initial claim denying casualties.

Continue reading U.S. Says 11 US Troops Wounded in Iranian Missile Attack Despite Earlier Denials

What Part of “Go home” Don’t You Understand? – Iraq to US

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Continue reading What Part of “Go home” Don’t You Understand? – Iraq to US

Satellite Photos Confirm Iranian “Warning Slap” Missile Precision

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Continue reading Satellite Photos Confirm Iranian “Warning Slap” Missile Precision

The Israel Lobby’s Hidden Hand in the Theft of Iraqi and Syrian Oil

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Continue reading The Israel Lobby’s Hidden Hand in the Theft of Iraqi and Syrian Oil

The Story of Daher Al-Umar Undermines Israel’s Own Origin Story

Akka, Haifa, Tabaria, are all cities with a rich Arab history which Daher made into thriving towns, and yet little memory of him exists, thanks to enormous efforts put forward by the state of Israel to control the historical narrative.

Continue reading The Story of Daher Al-Umar Undermines Israel’s Own Origin Story

Turkey is Not A Hotel for Jihadists, EU Must Provide A Grand Welcome

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Continue reading Turkey is Not A Hotel for Jihadists, EU Must Provide A Grand Welcome

Cauldrons Forming vs. Zionists in the Middle East

Not too long ago, the Israel Air Force was caught hiding behind a Russian surveillance plane operating outside the coastline of Syria to provoke an aerial defensive response from the Syrian Surface-to-Air Missile System [SAMS] that eventually killed all 20+ Russian personnel on board.

Continue reading Cauldrons Forming vs. Zionists in the Middle East

Eastern Alliance Thwarted Shameless Deep State Offensives

In recent months, the Deep State started being openly aggressive against one of the thorns in the Greater Israel ambition in the Middle East, i.e. Beautiful Iran, through MOSSAD false attacks on multiple sovereign oil tankers plying the Strait of Hormus, as aided and abetted by a US carrier fleet assigned in the area specifically for the purpose of castigating Iran. Continue reading Eastern Alliance Thwarted Shameless Deep State Offensives

Fake Wars and Big Lies: The Muslim Brotherhood as Assassins

We are beginning the publication, episode by episode, of the new book by Thierry Meyssan, Right Before Our Eyes. It is an ambitious narration of the History of the last eighteen years, taken from the experience of the author in the service of several Peoples. Continue reading Fake Wars and Big Lies: The Muslim Brotherhood as Assassins

As Yemen Starves, International Aid Agencies Play Politics With Food

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30 British Marines Seized Iranian Oil Tanker

On July 4, a detachment of Royal Marines and the authorities in Gibraltar seized a supertanker suspected of carrying oil to Syria on the belief it was breaching EU sanctions. 30 Royal Marines from 42 Commando were involved in the operation targeting Grace 1 that had sailed from Iran. Continue reading 30 British Marines Seized Iranian Oil Tanker

Declassified: The Sino-Russian Masterplan To End U.S. Dominance In Middle East

Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin’s early June 2019 summit in Moscow with People’s Republic of China (PRC) Pres. Xi Jinping seems likely to have a disproportionate influence on the next phases of the crises unfolding in the greater Middle East, and therefore on the future of the region. Continue reading Declassified: The Sino-Russian Masterplan To End U.S. Dominance In Middle East

Moscow’s Strategy: To Win Everywhere, Every Time

Important events have occurred in the Middle East and North Africa in recent weeks that underline how the overall political reconfiguration of the region is in full swing. The Shia axis continues its diplomatic relations and, following Rouhani’s meeting in Baghdad, it was the turn of Adil Abdul-Mahdi to be received in Tehran by the highest government and religious authorities. Continue reading Moscow’s Strategy: To Win Everywhere, Every Time

'Time to Leave': Iraq MPs Call for Withdrawal of US Troops

This past week saw US President Donald Trump make a surprise Christmas visit to US troops stationed in Iraq. Only days prior to his visit, the mainstream media were in full-scale attack mode, charging Trump with being “the first President since 2002 not to visit the troops at Christmas.” Continue reading 'Time to Leave': Iraq MPs Call for Withdrawal of US Troops

Yemen Genocide About Oil Control

The ongoing de facto genocide in the Republic of Yemen in a war whose most intense phase began in 2015, has until very recently been all but ignored in the Western mainstream media. What has also been ignored is the fundamental casus belli for the US-backed Saudi war, ostensibly against the Shi’ite Houthi by the Sunni Wahhabite Saudis. Continue reading Yemen Genocide About Oil Control

Khashoggi Murder Made to Force Saudis to “Buy American”, Not Russian S-400

The response of the Trump administration and many U.S. politicians to Khashoggi’s disappearance is largely being guided by the military-industrial complex — in this case Lockheed Martin — but masquerading as a response motivated by “human rights.” Continue reading Khashoggi Murder Made to Force Saudis to “Buy American”, Not Russian S-400

It’s Saudi Arabia’s Turn to Feel the Heat, Here's why

Until a few weeks ago, all eyes were set on Israel’s post-mortem diplomacy with Russia in the aftermath of its sneak attack on Syria, which resulted in the untimely deaths of 15 Russian personnel onboard a surveillance aircraft. Now, it is Saudi Arabia’s turn to formulate a good public relations plan to mitigate the effects of the Khashoggi murder fiasco. Continue reading It’s Saudi Arabia’s Turn to Feel the Heat, Here's why

Holy Cow Israel Continue to Have its Way, So is Saudi Arabia

Deep State-sanctioned Israel bullying against inferior Gaza and Saudi’s airstrike against Yemeni civilian targets continue. The global community’s attention is somewhere else. While America has grown numb to the fact that its own government is complicit in all of these genocidal crimes that sometimes victimize its own people, too. Continue reading Holy Cow Israel Continue to Have its Way, So is Saudi Arabia

The Latest US Sanctions Point to a Declining World Superpower

On Monday 6th of August the United States imposed a fresh set of sanctions on Iran. These are intended as a prelude to even stronger sanctions to take effect in November. The clearly stated intention is to break the Iranian governments will to resist American demands, and to cause such domestic pain that the Iranian people Will rise in revolt against their government and bring about the long sought after (by the Americans) regime change. Continue reading The Latest US Sanctions Point to a Declining World Superpower