Skip to comments.Turkish intervention could trigger Syria's 'second great war'
Posted on 03/20/2019 4:50:56 PM PDT by Texas Fossil
AL-OMAR OIL FIELD, Syria After a bloody and protracted five-year war, the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the US-led coalition are on the verge of declaring victory against the Islamic State after the fall of its last crumbs of territory in Baghuz. With Islamic State cells continuing to operate to deadly effect in Syria and neighboring Iraq, it's too early to say "mission accomplished," cautioned Mazlum Kobane, the commander in chief of the SDF, in an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor March 10 at a heavily guarded complex near al-Omar oil field in eastern Syria. The charismatic 50-year-old Syrian Kurd, whom coalition officials address as general, is seen as one of the chief architects of the battle against the jihadis.
US diplomats and officers of all ranks who have worked with him for the past four and a half years are full of praise for Kobane, whose nom de guerre was Sahin Cilo when he was a militant in the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The PKK, which has been fighting Turkey for Kurdish independence, and now autonomy, since 1984, is on the US State Department's list of terrorist organizations. Turkey likes to remind Washington of this irony, and it's the reason why Kobane is unlikely to be rewarded for his prowess on US soil anytime soon. His real name is Ferhat Abdi Sahin and he is on Turkey's list of most wanted terrorists.
Kobane is from the Syrian border town of Kobani, where imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan fled to from Turkey in 1979. Ocalan was Kobane's early mentor, and a photo posted online of the pair, bathing together in the Euphrates River, is viewed as proof of their closeness.
Erect/unflappable, Kobane surrounds himself with fellow natives of Kobani. It's not surprising. He survived several assassination attempts, including, Syrian Kurdish officials claim, a Turkish airstrike on Mount Karachok that allegedly targeted him...
(Excerpt) Read more at al-monitor.com ...
I've read Amberin Zaman's work before, this is a great interview because it is from one of the top SDF commanders over the past 4-5 years of conflict. And because one of the best efforts of the conflict was the result of cooperation between Kurd, Arab and Syriac elements in Manbij. This is one area that my friends have told me that stood out with the outcome.
I hope there are enough "mature" leaders in the region to dampen the Evil Rogues. Big order in the Middle East.
I pray there is a good solution. The slayer's of ISIS deserve peace.
Turkey is at least as dangerous as Iran...
they both have to be contained and.. hopefully...helped to get much less dangerous governments
Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and, to a lesser extent, Iran, have fragile governments. While seemingly a regional military powerhouse, it is made up of a seething stew of ancient hatreds and rivalries with a thin veneer of western style nationhood stretched over it. It is hard to tell what will break them apart, but war, internal strife and financial stress will show up the fracture lines.
A machiavellian person would organize a Middle East soccer cup... Syria vs Turkey.. just like happened between Egypt and Algeria back then.. nearly started a war if Libya had not been separating their borders...
You would think we could tell Turkey to not get S400s or else we recognize Kurdistan and decorate Kobane... but our people prefer watering the plants instead
Very helpful article.
Im posting in response to your initial post, but I wanted to thank several other posters who have added helpful comments below (and of course, to thank you for posting to begin with!).
I was in Greece a couple of weeks ago, and while they have a justifiable long-standing animosity towards the Turks, I felt that their current concerns are real and not just a grudge.
Several Greeks I met mentioned that the Turkish government of the moment is a serious menace and is trying to build up momentum for challenging Greece in various areas. Perhaps the Turks are just doing this saber rattling for effect, but Greece is spending serious money that it doesnt have on attempting to protect itself.
Thank you for your comments.
Yes, I’m aware of Greece history related to Turkey and especially to Turkey under Erdogan the Islamist.
I’ve been following this for a number of years and have some close friends who are/were involved in the conflicts destroying ISIS.
They are not saber rattling, these people are committed on a level that is hard to imagine. Much less believe unless you know them. They are committed to it on a cultural level.
Sorry for the length of time responding, had to go spend time with my 93 year old father. Have stayed with him many nights lately, but tonight his normal help is back.
I understand your instinct. I don’t pretend to tell President Trump what he should do. We do not turn on Turkey lightly, but heaven knows he has given use more than enough excuses to act against him. He badly abuses the NATO membership issue.
It is a complicated thing with Russia, Iran and Assad involved.
The N. Syrian Kurds and their SDF allies are the bravest of the brave and we have supported them in an important just cause against ISIS.
Iran is also fragile on the economic and cultural stability level.
Our sanctions have badly hurt them.
Alliances in the ME can and do shift, but normally those shifts are short term.
Only the insane want war. But there are plenty of insane in the ME.
I totally agree that Turkey is every bit as dangerous as Iran. They have a more advanced military with modern weapons, including many aircraft. They now make noises about shifting to Russia.
That could happen, but I think if it does, Putin will eventually turn on Erdogan. But both have territorial expansion ambitions. Both nurse great loss of stature. Turkey from the Ottoman Empire fall and Russian from the collapse of the USSR.
Neither are predictable.
Well, bear in mind, N. Syria is not all Muslim. In fact within the Kurd community and the Syriac community it is a minority.
Among N,. Syrian Kurds there may be a division on religious basis something like 1/3 atheist, 1/3 Muslim (may be less) and 1/4 Christian (possibly more). Remainder Ezidi.
Turkey is probably 98% Muslim (many in name only). Those who admit other than Muslim are seriously disadvantaged by the government.
Iraq was 95% Muslim (75% Sunni, 25% Shia division), possibly 5% Christian, Ezidi or Atheist.
Iran is very hard to get numbers for, but the Muslim percentage is very high.
A recent report by a NGO in Syria has stated that in the past 4 years there have been 21,000 Christian converts. Have not seen source documentation. Syriac Christians have been in N. Syria a long time. So I’m convinced the Christian population is grossly understated in Syria.
[Only the insane want war. But there are plenty of insane in the ME.]
Wars are not a sane act.
If you win one decisively, you still loose in general. They are seldom pacified quickly and the destruction they bring is incredibly costly to the survivors.
Bless him! And you for your kindness. I hope he is well.
Lot of diplomacy going on as the situation in Syria heads to reconstruction.
IMHO China, as the only country that has the money to invest and the certainty of profit, will determine the dynamics of post-war Syria. and that determines what happens in this preparatory phase.
Russia and Turkey, and Iran all want to please and profit from China’s reconstruction of Syria. Syria desperately needs investment- especially the kind with no moral constraints.
We know they want a Med port, but what will they settle for?
I guess we’ll know soon. Kurds are in an excellent position re China whatever the outcome.
( Yeah, to paraphrase Jan Brady: “China, China, China!” is how I, and I alone, see Syria LOL!”
[Wars are not a sane act.
If you win one decisively, you still loose in general. They are seldom pacified quickly and the destruction they bring is incredibly costly to the survivors.]
The Chinese invasion of Vietnam in 1979, where 100K civilians were killed, over a 6-week period, along with Vietnam’s Gold Star Division, is typical of non-Western methods. They simply don’t have the resources to spend $50b a year for decades.
Genghis Khan, probably the greatest conquerer ever, never had a problem with guerilla warfare, even though the lands he conquered included Afghanistan. Why? Because his army simply slaughter all civilians, including their babies, who dare to fight against them.
In the Vietnam war, the Americans struggled against the Vietcongs. When China fought Vietnam, China simply romped through North Vietnam (north of Hanoi), transport removable factories/infrastructure back to China while destroying those that they cannot bring back. One crack Vietnamese division that was rushed back from Cambodia wisely decided to settle into prepared defensive positions near Hanoi instead of reinforcing the surrounded troops north of Hanoi. Why didn’t China has problem with Vietcong guerilla fighters?
When I first visited China in the 1990s, a retired veteran bitterly told me that his Major was killed by a ~6 year old Vietnamese kid holding a secret pistol when he was giving out food to the kid. Apparently, this is not an isolated incident. Very soon, they enacted Genghis Khans strategy. North Vietnamese villagers encountered were simply labeled as civilian militia, treated as combatants and showed no mercy. PLA never encounter anymore guerilla problems because there were no civilians left to provide the guerilla with information, shelter and food!
In the 1980s, there is no internet and no international reporter who has access to report on this. Chinese body counts, which included civilian militia combatants, concluded that enemy casualties were in excess of 10 times PLA losses.]
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