Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)
Monday, October 31, 2016
As the Syrian army, with support from Hezbollah and Russia crushes ISIS in Aleppo, and as the Iraqi Army with support from Shite Militias and the US squeezes ISIS in Mosul, the next step becomes the big question. Will the US respect the wishes of the Syrian government and leave the Syria battle to its government and the Russian military, or will the US ignore the sovereign rights of the Syrian government and push to install a Kurdistan from North Eastern Syria and North Western Iraq? That is really the $1 million question. Will things escalate between Russia and the US on this battlefield or will there be a recognition of traditional spheres of influence.
Traditionally and historically, Turkey has done everything within its power to thwart a Kurdish state. Whether it be decades long intelligence/military operations against the Kurds within Turkey itself, or whether it be actual uninvited military incursions into Syria and/or Iraq to attack Kurdish fighting elements, the Turkish position has always been against the development of any Kurdish state. Given that the Kurds are claiming a good portion of South Eastern Turkey as part of the new Kurdistan one can somewhat understand the Turkish policy toward the Kurds. However, the result has been ongoing turmoil within the region for decades.
As it stands now the main force of the Syrian army, and allies, are focused around the Aleppo area in a time consuming fight in that city. The Turkish army has invaded and driven south toward the Al Raqqa area, although not to the city itself. Instead the Turks have pivoted east to take on the Kurds and drive them to at least behind the Euphrates River that runs through central Syria. At first the US had agreed to the Kurds withdrawing, but that seems to have changed and the Kurds are standing their ground. Meantime, the bulk of Iraqi forces are surrounding Mosul from three sides, but thus far leaving the western side of the city relatively open - which could allow the ISIS elements and others in the city to retreat westward to Syria. Curiously, a large contingent of Shite militia are attempting to cut off that exit by flanking Mosul, however Turkey has since warned them not to take the strategic city between Mosul and Al Raqqa that would cut off the ISIS retreat. All very complicated.
Bottom line is that within three months both Mosul and Aleppo will be liberated from ISIS and other Islamic forces. The race will then be on to take ISIS's capital Raqqa. Currently the Kurds, with their American allies, are closer than anyone else - other than the Turks. And that brings the Turkish role to the forefront. First point: Turkey is only in Syria because Russia allowed it to be so. Shortly after Turkey reconciled with Russia that country's army militarily intervened from the north, and secured its border with Syria. That effectively sealed any chance ISIS could resupply or sell oil to the north without Turkey's approval, and if Turkey approved such an action its relationship with Russia would be over before it started. So Russia's plan for Turkey was to seal the border first. Mission accomplished. In return, Turkey got the green light to go after the Kurds from Russia, but not the US.
Phase two, which hasn't happened just yet, will be Turkey sweeping into Raqqa before the Kurds and the US can. The Syrian army is out of position to move on Raqqa before anyone else does, because they are still fighting to the south along the Lebanon border. They must also retake Dayr az Zawr located strategically south of Raqqa and on the wrong side of the Euphrates River for anything other than a cross river assault - which would involve massive casualties and every chance of a serious defeat. So bank on it that Russia has already got Turkey to take on Raqqa. It suits both of their purposes.
Once that battle takes place, and the remnants of ISIS are trapped on the Syrian-Iraqi border, the focus turns to restoring the territorial integrity of not just Syria, but also Iraq. The area is rich in oil reserves - a wealth that both countries will need to rebuild their war-torn countries. However, American oil companies have strong ties and contracts with the Kurds in northern Iraq, and are likely expecting the same kind of concessions in north eastern Syria. It is at this point in the conflict when push will come to shove. Russia will have no choice to back the Syrian military in recovering all their territory, and that means driving the Kurds from all of Syria. That will also involve driving all the Americans out of Syria to. Considering the US has opened an air force base in north east Syria, in Kurdish controlled territory, it is easy to see how this battle will escalate. Likely, the only factor that could stop an actual military confrontation between the US and Russia in eastern Syria would be the election of Donald Trump. He has pledged to work with Russia on destroying ISIS and my analysis of him is that he's a deal maker that would seed Syria because the it is Russia's sphere of influence. That is the only action that could stop a direct escalation between Russia and the US.
In case you haven't heard, Russia has mobilized its sole aircraft carrier, along with warships and submarines to the coast of Syria. It is also expanding the facilities of its Syrian air base. The Chinese have also declared they are prepared to intervene militarily on Syria's side. What we are witnessing right now is not the Russians preparing for immanent action in Syria. They are instead prepositioning resources for a much larger battle with the US and its allies. The Americans are doing the same thing by position naval forces off the coast near Syria, and massively reinforcing the air base at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. If Trump does not win the US Presidential election, and reverse the show down in Syria, then these prepositioned forces will engage each other. That's why they're there. They're not there to take on rebels, or ISIS or Hezbollah, or Kurds or the Syrian army.
It has to be said that a lot rides on the result of that politicians gone wild election to the south of our country. On the one hand a deal maker who is not opposed to pulling the US back from the "policeman of the world" self-appointed status it has generally abused for the last two decades. He may be a chauvinistic you know what, but he may not be a blood thirsty imperialist - so that's ok by me if the choice comes down to it. Hillary Clinton on the other hand has been shown to be an instrument of the big corporations that are driving America's foreign policy, and also driving it to placing it and the rest of us in the world in mortal danger. So, my fingers and toes are crossed that the egotistical chauvinist isolationist wins in a few days from now, and not the corrupt insider doing the bidding of those that not only do not respect humanity, but in fact see it as a mere inconvenience in a quest to have the world as they see it.