Experts – Experts Everywhere
You don’t label yourself “expert” an amazing lady once told me. It’s a title which you should get because you have shown above average levels of knowledge about a certain topic time and again. It’s a title which is given to you after years of demonstrated “expertise” and not one which you take on yourself. The lady was right but “expert” also can be a marketing term or a careful framing of somebody, lifting them up beyond what they are and know. Mainstream media often feature “experts”.
It almost automatically gives their words some credibility towards the credulous and uncritical consumer. “The dude’s an expert. Better listen.” In Belgium, the national news channel gave the title to some of their team. I suppose it nets them more than these who are not an “expert” and it makes the Belgians listen. Truth be told: these “experts” are one-sided, biased and atlanticist parrots. Something which I am not. I know their “Western” story as do I the alternative view. This would mean I know more about some topics than them which in turn would make me… even more of an “expert” but anyway…
One of these “experts” was raging against the Turkish incursion in North-Eastern Syria stating how the poor Kurds are outclassed and outgunned by the Turkish army. That, at least, is undisputably correct. Only a few days ago mainstream was frothing at the mouth when Trump announced he’d pull out US troops stating “the endless wars should stop“.
It’s entirely irrelevant that Trump’s right stating so but well; Trump’s another easy target right, as he has been. As mainstream banged on about Trump for three years with hollow and unfounded accusations as if they were the Biblical Gospel itself, I should not be surprised they don’t understand what’s happening in North-Eastern Syria after three days. I’ll give my take for you to #makeupyourownmind with. As usual I don’t have the pretence to call my take the one and only truth but I do think it is worth considering. You’ll be the judge.
Alliances with whom?
So. I gasped in disbelief when I read the title of the Belgian (Dutch-language) article: “What after the Turkish incursion in Syria? The Kurds are not up for it, but what if they seek support from Iran, or Russia?” Really expert? I’ll give you my take as an non-expert as to why your preposition shall never pass the border of hypothetical talk.
The Kurds can not seek support from Iran. The Islamic Republic’s a pawn in a geo-political game and its government-slash-regime is in and by itself an acquired target. In other words: they don’t decide in the middle of a US, NATO and Russia wargame. The SDF / the Kurds can seek immediate support from Russia though by doing one single thing: lay down arms, re-acknowledge President Assad as the rightful ruler until new elections are held, ask official support from the Syrian Arab Army and deliver their ISIS prisoners to the SAA – instead of threatening to set them free.
Apart from that scenario, insinuating that Russian help can just be invoked against Assad is sheer nonsense. Some reasons are.
- This Turkish operation was fully aligned with Russia to start with. The Slavic country would never allow Turkey to invade the Syrian ally they have. Russia’d abandon the S400 deal to start with and Erdogan “needs” these. Russia-Turkey relations are too well established too as even taking down one of Russia’s fighters in 2015 only dented the relation for a mere three quarters of a year. (Such a short amount of time I was entirely surprised back then I admit).
- Russian spokesman Peskov’s “warning” to Turkey thus is geo-political lip-service to appease the masses and support the narrative. He even admits that “Russian and Turkish militaries and intelligence agencies maintain close contact“.
I’ll explain “the narrative” later.
- The Turkish operation likely was aligned with the US as well or at least with its commander-in-chief and this in turn was aligned with the Russians. Trying to avoid collaterals, Trump ordered to pull out troops mere hours before the operation started also using a series of tweets which should net him te Nobel Peace Prize some day but that’ll not happen obviously.
Alliances with everyone
Although he specifically warns the Kurds about their American “allies” Assad’s always been clear about Syria: he will not allow his country to be divided. What we are seeing now is the last operation and the final drive in Syria’s eight-year old war and Turkey’s the strategic partner to carry it out.
It could only be the Turkish as Assad’s SAA is kept stretched not only defending Syria’s vast territory, but also in the final assault against the headchopping “rebels” in Idlib. The effort would be off-limits for the Russians as the operation needs both boots on the ground as well as an extensive redeployment of Russian material now not present in Syria (and needed to scare off the consistent NATO aggression along Russia’s Western borders). Although the Kremlin might have (briefly) considered doing so, they opted out. The main reason they might have went with it is that this Syrian war has allowed for the North-Eastern country to extensively test all of their modern weaponry – with the exception of ground-based material.
However, it would also put Russian soldiers in jeopardy and most likely would have resulted in Russian casualties which is not something Putin is willing to defend at home. Furthermore, a Russian ground-operation would pit it squarely against an adversary it has not and is not willing to face. Russia, in all of its modern history, has only faught extremist elements and never a community, nationality nor an ethnic group which the Kurds are. To top that off, it would also give ammunition to the entire “deep-state” Washington group of warmongers that “Russia goes against US allies” and that it should be “contained”; NATO and the spineless farce on the “old continent” named the EU would lap up that narrative as well.
So an easy decision for Russia not to mingle themselves but as an example of pure masterclass in “International Diplomatic Stratego-Chess” it negotiated with Turkey to go in. And there even is no nefariously negative outcome to follow.
- Russia continues to keep its hands clean on the international theatre (try to find a Western mainstream new outlet saying this!)
- Russia’s ally Syria will see its territory entirely returned.
- Russia will be increasingly seen as “everybody’s friend” – including by all of the opposing parties in the Middle-East as explained in this excellent article.
- The SDF / the Kurds have their wrists slapped after having been too opportunistic again – not the first time in their history.
- ISIS will be largely defeated still as Trump, nor Russia, nor Turkey, nor the KSA will continue to fund them.
- Trump uses the opportunity to follow-on on his “reduce intervention” promise.
- Turkey can’t and will not be blamed as they have been fighting the Kurds for decades and have all approval from the major international powers.
While the risk might have existed that Erdogan proves a lone lunatic in equally opportunistically grabbing Syrian land, both Russia as well as the US have given the country very strong warnings he should refrain from doing so. He’s not though and has been explicit about it, as he tweeted on October 9th.
The only risk left are the Kurds themselves. They might prove as finicky as always and may follow up on the threat of releasing ISIS prisoners. Because the question to ask here is: why are they not handing them over to Syria instead?
One Final Remark
What could have made Trump agree with Russia’s plan to have Turkey clean up Syria’s Northeast? That’s a guess but maybe a deal around Iran was made.
You know that country where Trump wants change but Russia doesn’t?
Time will tell.