The Turko-US schism in northern Syria
US State Department officials have met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to discuss Turkey’s concerns about US funded YPG/PKK activity in the northern Syrian city of Manbij. By now, Turkey has become accustomed to the fact that the US has been patently dishonest about claims that the Pentagon is not arming and funding radical Kurdish terrorists in northern Syria, but nevertheless in-line with Russia’s favoured method of a negotiated peace process, Ankara continues to attempt and thrash out agreements with the US over Manbij.
The issue stems from Turkey and America’s totally diverge goals in northern Syria which have turned the two NATO members into rivals for influence in the region. Turkey has been provoked by the US into conducting its Operation Olive Branch in northern Syria which is aimed at neutralising the presence of YPG/PKK terrorist groups on Turkey’s border. By contrast, the US continues to fund and arm the radical Kurdish terrorist groups and has used them as cover for the so-called “SDF” occupation of north-eastern Syria which is in reality a traditional US occupation of Syria’s oil rich regions. All the while, Syria remains opposed to both Turkish and American activity in the region, even though realistically, the YPG/PKK pose a far greater threat to the territorial and political unity of Syria than Turkey’s Arab proxies.
Manbij is essentially the central point which divides areas to the north west where Operation Olive Branch has been a success, particularly in the former YPG/PKK stronghold of Afrin and the areas to the east and south, centred around the former Daesh capital of al-Raqqa where the US and its Kurdish terrorist proxies are now the new occupiers of the city that has been reduced to rubble in illegal US airstrikes.
Negotiations leading to more negotiations
Turkey has previously expressed its desire to pursue YPG/PKK terrorists up to the Iraqi border but this would necessarily mean coming into direct conflict with US personnel. While Turkey’s relations with the US continue to be poor, not least because of the situation in Syria, Ankara nevertheless has sought to avoid any direct conflict with the US in Syria, just as Russia has sought the same.
Today’s meeting which follows on from a visit by former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in February of this year, has produced a joint statement that is remarkable for its vagueness.
Joint Statement Following May 25 Talks in Ankara pic.twitter.com/lKaPNHUodE
— US Embassy Turkey (@USEmbassyTurkey) May 25, 2018
In reality, the statement merely indicates that discussions on the matter of Manbij will continue on the 4th of June while no apparent progress was made beyond the previous meeting between Cavusoglu and Tillerson.
Unlike others, Turkey embarrasses the Russian model of a political process
What this broadly indicates is that the situation in northern Syria has reached a stalemate wherein Turkey is now in control of territory along its border west of Manbij while the US and its Kurdish terrorist proxies control areas to the east of Manbij as well as areas to the south-east of Manbij. While Turkey remains furious about the fact that the US is funding and arming YPG/PKK terrorists anywhere in the region, in line with Russia’s aims to pivot the nature of the conflict in Syria from a military engagement to a political settlement, Turkey seems largely resigned to the fact that it will take possibly years of international negotiations to remove the US from and disarm the YPG/PKK in north eastern Syria.
However, throughout this interim process, the US will almost certainly further subjected to an organic rebellion of indigenous Arabs who find the situation of Kurdish ethnic cleansing in their regions as unacceptable as Daesh occupation. Already, many armed Arab groups around al-Raqqa have begun a small but growing armed rebellion against US/YPG/PKK occupation that will likely grow exponentially over time. This rebellion could have the effect of forcing an involuntary US withdrawal in the same way that US troops withdrew from Lebanon in 1984 after coming under attack from local fighters. Without the US to protect them, YPG/PKK terrorists would either disperse or be neutralised by Turkey and/or Syrian forces in short order.
An Arab Vietcong
While the issue of the Arab rebels of Raqqa’s loyalty to one state or another is a key mystery, ultimately the most immediate threat to the always flimsy US narrative regarding the region, is that the US and their allies may face a Vietnam war style combat situation against the Arab rebels, assuming the US doesn’t “pull out” of Syria as Donald Trump recently indicated.
In the American war in Vietnam, the US found itself facing not only regular troops from Northern Vietnam but indigenous Vietcong rebels in the South whose fight was first and foremost against a foreign occupier. The Arab rebels in and around Raqqa likely feel the same way, as for example did the Algerian fighters who rebelled against French rule between 1954 and 1962. While the US did have Southern Vietnamese allies on its side, such troops were in the minority and ultimately faced ostracism after the US loss. Just as some South Vietnamese and other minorities who sided with the US during war, typically out of opportunism, attempted to run away from Vietnam when the war was lost by the US, so too might many YPG militants attempt to flee along with their US masters when defeat is imminent as it could be in short order.
A French connection
Prior to the US entering Vietnam, indigenous Vietnamese (referred to as Indochinese at the time) rebels fought a colonial French occupation between 1946 and 1954. After the French were vanquished in 1954, the US began gradually sending so-called “military advisers” to Vietnam before the situation spiralled into a full-scale US invasion after the Gulf of Tonkin false flag incident in 1964.
Today, there is discussion that US troops in north-eastern Syria will be replaced by French and/or Saudi troops. The irony here is that while the US went into Vietnam only to repeat the loss of their French predecessors, not it appears as though France may enter north eastern Syria only to inherent a rebellion against the US and its Kurdish proxies that neither foreign army is likely to win.
As French President Macron has publicly come out in support of Kurdish radicals in Syria, it is unlikely that a French strategy in Raqqa would look significantly different than the US strategy. Moreover, the presence of Saudi troops in the region would only have the effect of making apolitical rebels likely to side increasingly with either Turkey or Damascus, were a fellow Arab army to fight along side infamously anti-Arab Kurds against indigenous Sunni Arabs.
Syria remains an Arab Republic
With the defeat of Daesh in Syria, many Arabs have attempted to return to their homes in places like Raqqa, only to find that they are being abusively occupied by US backed Kurdish militants. This is a classic recipe for rebellion and while the world is focused on Eastern Ghouta and Manbij, the Arab rebellion against the USA and YPG is already underway, as has been confirmed by the Russian military.
Now a spokesman for the Arab rebels has issued the following statement,
“Following the intelligence activities, the militia of Raqqa waged a special operation targeting the US Staff located at the former base of the 93rd Brigade in the district of Ayn Issa, 43 miles north of Raqqa. Several mortar shells were fired on individual targets without any casualties on our side”.
While the authors of this statement claimed they were opposed to both the US and Turkish presence in Syria, seeing as they are operating in an area far from any Turkish troops, the likelihood is that this group of rebels is centred around a pro-Damascus and anti-US political/military agenda. Indeed, as the government Damascus remains the only legitimate Arab representative of the Syrian people, the rebellion in Raqqa may prove to help reconcile formerly anti-government forces with the government, as indigenous Arabs displaced by American troops and their proxies look to restore Syrian Arab rule over the Syrian Arab Republic.
First operation of "Resistance Popular Forces" (pro-#SAA) against a #US base in #Raqqa province with GRAD rockets. This operation marks the beginning of an uprising against the #US as we already witnessed in #Iraq in the 2000s. #Syria
— Ali Özkök (@Ozkok_) April 2, 2018
While Turkey has said countless times that it does not intend to stay in Syria beyond a reasonable timeline for orderly withdrawal, the US has stated that it plans to stay in Syria for an extended period of time. Recent statements from the so-called SDF saying that they are unaware of Donald Trump’s proposed “pull out”, indicate that the veracity of the US President’s statements are far from certain. Thus, whatever faction the Arabs of north eastern Syria are ultimately loyal to, the fact remains that the US and its allies will be the primary targets and in the context of Syria, this excludes Turkey.
This the likelihood is that the Arab rebellion against the US and its proxies will only grow, perhaps especially if the US troops in the region are replaced by generally less capable French or Saudi troops. In this sense, whoever seeks to occupy Arab land in north eastern Syria whether Kurdish terrorists, the US military, French military or Saudi military – they will ultimately be doomed to failure for the same reason the US failed in Vietnam and Iraq and likewise, for the same reasons that the French failed in Indochina and Algeria.
The difference between a fake rebellion against a legitimate government funded by outsiders, as was seen in Eastern Ghouta, Aleppo, Hama, Homs and Deir ez-Zor, versus a genuine indigenous rebellion against an occupying foreign army and a minority of non-local militants whose loyalty (in terms of cooperation) is to the invader, is clear enough. The fake foreign funded “rebellions” historically lose battles while organic rebellions against an imperial occupier tend to eventually win, often with very decisive results.