Ankara (GPA) – President Donald Trump withdrawing troops from northern Syria and allowing Turkey to run wild is anything but a “gift” to Russia.
Over the last 48 hours, there has been a rush by the neoconservative and elite liberal pundit and political class to condemn US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw around 1,000 troops from Syria. There have been multiple theories as to what would motivate Trump to make this decision (including the only correct theory: mine), but none are quite as stupid the idea that somehow Trump’s decision over the weekend is somehow going to advance Russian objectives in Syria.
This particular strain idiocy, which has spread from the coastal libs at Esquire, who say “Russia is cheering” the Turkish offensive to neocon ghoul (and creator of W’s “Axis of Evil”), David Frum. Frum, for his part, was also so stupid that he thought Trump may be trying to buy silence for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi (which Trump could not give less of a fuck about) or that Trump possibly shifted his entire Syria policy to “protect Trump tower Istanbul.” Both of these are just as stupid as the Russia theory, but whatever, that’s not what we’re here to address.
Possible Trump motives
1) Protecting income flow from Trump Towers Istanbul
2) Payoff to Turkey to cover up recording of Khashoggi murder by Trump allies
3) Obeisance to Putin
4) Warning to House: if you impeach me, Ill burn every American alliance and interest before I go
— David Frum (@davidfrum) October 7, 2019
Let’s get into explaining why this bird-brained theory is so stupid.
Peace Spring is a timebomb
Turkey’s operation, dubbed “Peace Spring” could wind up making the situation in Syria worse if the forces that plan to aid the Turkish military are any signifier. As of right now, Turkish-backed “Syrian rebels” are on their way to the Turkish border to aid in this latest move by Ankara.
These rebels, most of whom aren’t exactly Jeffersonian democrats, while they may be helping Turkey now, are still opposed to the government of Bashar Assad in Damascus. As Turkey works to move the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) they also aim to build a safe zone to resettle Syrian refugees and these Salafist fighters from the Frankenstein monster that is the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) will also be included.
This safe zone could end up providing the FSA some breathing room now that the actual Syrian army is in the process of liberating Idlib where they had previously been sent from all over Syria. These fighters may originally come from all different militant groups but after Turkey picked the winners of the Idlib infighting the ideology is much more radical.
Added to these rebels are the returning Syrians themselves. Not all, but a good portion of these refugees are likely also opposed to the leadership of Assad. This includes members of Islamic State and Al Qaeda networks that have been operating in Turkey for years as Ankara has not only turned a blind eye to but actively facilitated these groups’ activities by doing everything from looking the other way at border crossings with Syria to buying oil directly from ISIS.
These groups, and by extension their backers in Ankara can’t be trusted. Although Turkey may be a part of the Astana talks with Russia and Iran, the rebels backed by Ankara are an unreliable element that could end up causing more chaos.
Adding to this threat is the thousands of ISIS prisoners that the western media has been worrying will have no Kurdish forces to guard them. While that may be true, what the western media isn’t saying is that if Turkey or their mercenaries reach these prisoners, the war in Syria could easily descend back into chaos. There is no doubt that these freed IS fighters would either join with the Turkish occupiers or be awarded support from some other scumbag outside influence like Riyadh.
This revitalized jihadist movement, in league with Turkey, would be just as dangerous, if not more, than US troops when it comes to who is occupying northern Syria.
Syria and its allies are opposed to anyone occupying any part of Syria and the Turks are just as unacceptable as the US. Depending on how long Turkey decides to stay, there is no reason to think that they won’t eventually come into conflict with Syria, Iran, and Russia. Iran has already started previously unannounced military drills near the Turkish border in the last 24 hours while simultaneously asking Turkey to refrain from this operation.
This confrontation period may also be accelerated should the Kurds decide to take their best available option and finally commit to rejoining Syrian society. Should this happen, the Syrian army, backed by Iran and Russia would suddenly be allied with the YPG. If this ends up being the case then that means Russia and Iran will suddenly be facing a confrontation with a NATO ally again.
While this would seem like a wash if anything it is far worse this time now that the NATO ally is Turkey. Turkey’s leadership (ie President Recep Erdogan) has worse goals in mind for Syria than simply occupying space with the Kurds while refusing to admit you’ve lost (like the United States was doing). As I explained in a post earlier this week, Turkey doesn’t just conduct military operations, they occupy the areas they have invaded and brought the Turkish national project along.
Much like in Afrin, the areas Turkey takes during operation Peace Spring will likely end up under the control of Turkish civil authorities in coordination with the Salafist rebels as enforcers. The Syrian government will never be able to accept northern Syria basically being annexed as New Turkey and will inevitably come into conflict with Turkey. Although Turkey is in the Astana group with Russia and Iran, the realities on the ground demonstrate why those talks seem so futile. Turkey has its own plan for Syria and it doesn’t line up with those of Moscow or Washington at all and to think Trump just gifted Russia anything other than a new pain in the ass, you’re mistaken.