America’s Syria SNAFU: Pentagon’s Militias fight Turkey & CIA’s Militias

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The Turkish incursion into Syria at Jarabulus was advertised as an attack on a Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) stronghold and smuggling station in conjunction with (fundamentalist) remnants of the Free Syrian Army.

But the southern outskirts of Jarabulus had already fallen to the Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which are majority Kurdish but have a significant Arab component. The Arab, non-Kurdish SDF brigades such as the Seljuk brigade, the Army of Revolutionaries, and Northern Sun Brigade had fought to liberate the northern Syrian city of Manbij, due south of Jarabulus from Daesh. They have an outpost in the village of Amarna just a few miles south of Jarabulus, where they call themselves the Jarabulus Military Council.

The Turkish army, having secured Jarabulus itself with the help of fundamentalist militias, moved down to Amarna, where they met fierce resistance from the Syrian Democratic Forces, who are allied with the Kurds. The Turkish air force bombarded the SDF positions in Amarna and the militias responded by destroying two tanks and killing one Turkish soldier. Fighting continues there.

jarabulus
h/t Google Maps

Remember, Turkish forces were supposed to be going in to Syria to fight Daesh. But there they were, engaging in combat at Amarna with the SDF, which is backed by the US Department of Defense, which has 200 US special operations forces embedded with it, and which had itself taken heavy losses kicking Daesh out of Manbij.

These actions help answer the question I posed Thursday, about whether the Turkish incursion is really aimed at stopping the Kurds from consolidating their mini-state of Rojava in northern Syria rather than mainly targeting Daesh.

Kurdish media is saying,

“Furthermore, the Turkish-backed [fundamentalist] Sultan Murad brigade captured three SDF fighters in the Turkmen Yusuf Beg village, publishing a video beating them on camera, calling them ‘PKK dogs’.

Turkey sees the leftist Kurdish YPG militia in Syria as a part of the Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK in Turkey. The latter is a terrorist organization according to the US, but the YPG is considered a US ally.

Kurdish sources also allege Turkish incursions near Kobane and Afrin. Afrin is the western-most of the three Kurdish cantons in northern Syria, and the Kurds are accusing the Turks of trying to keep it cut off from the others.

US Syrian policy is in disarray despite the victories against Daesh in Manbij and Jarabulus. US allies on the ground– the Turks, the fundamentalist Syrian rebels, and the leftist, pro-US Kurds and their Arab allies– are now actively combatting one another, and a group backed by the Pentagon has just killed a Turkish soldier, which is to say, a NATO soldier.
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Related video:

CCTV: “Syria crisis: Fighting between Turkish troops and Kurdish forces intensifies”

25 Responses

    • Ask Obama. He vetoed every constructive proposal since day one because all meant excluding Iran from the Syrian cake which Iran was insisting on sharing if Obama wanted a phoney deal on the nukes.

      He alienated everyone in his administration who knew the region and relied on Biden and co. of dreamers and kombaya dancers and this was the result.

    • 1. The Qatari pipeline

      2. The Russians out of their naval base at Tartus

      3. Weakening Hizbullah for the benefit of Israel.

      • 1. There are other routes plus it is cheaper to ship gas right now than to pipe it because of oil prices.

        2. One of the very few things Assad and the Syrian rebels agree on is the Russians out in some future date. Tartus belongs to Syria not Russia.

        3. Israel advanced 50 Km in 4 days in the last war losing 50 soldiers and killing half the Hizbs fighting strength. Not to mention the simple fact that the Hizb right now have been devastated by the war in Syria to the point they are conscripting 15 year olds with money and gifts.

  1. There was a famous old science fiction short story, by one of the classic authors, I’m guessing 1948-54. (Sorry, I’m not trying to look it up, but I read it at least half a dozen times.)

    It chronicles the struggles of a secret US Army expedition to the Moon — only to find that other humans have beaten them there ! Who could these enemies be? The punchline was, it was the US Navy.

    Of course both hands of a huge bureaucratic entity (the institutions of our American military/”national security” apparatus) are eventually going to be found at odds with each other.

    If you want to generalize about human nature and/or typical human predicaments, this kind of bureaucratic self-hypnotism is one of the few things about which I’ll agree with you.

  2. Whatever happened on Biden’s recent visit to Turkey? Some are speculating he may have had to sacrifice the Kurds to Erdogan for the sake of NATO.

    Putin, Erdogan and Assad seem all to have clear cut priorities in Syria which do not actually conflict one with the other while the US appears to be out of that loop, mainly still hankering to eliminate Assad but with so many concerns elsewhere that that purpose is little more than a cloudy dream. Also, all three of them rule in the old fashioned sense of the word and can eliminate opposition, switch allies, and manoeuvre quickly and decisively whereas Obama is constrained by constitutional circumstances better suited perhaps to dealing with domestic rather than shifting global issues.

    It does appear that Erdogan, for all the criticism he receives, is plotting a neat course between Russia and the US while remaining popular at home, eliminating opposition, and having a good go at the Kurds. Some of his actions do get ‘tut tuts’ from the West but I don’t imagine that bothers him any more than it does Netanyahu. The media coverage of events get these days gives people the sense that they are living History. It is an illusion, History is the selective interpretation of the past, and closer to acting than being.

  3. Just a few days ago pundits screamed, “Coalition jets scrambled to defend U.S. forces from Syrian bombing” (Reuters), and now we’re told by the Obama administration it’s OK as long as the perpetrator is a NATO ally. Having Turkey and CIA-backed terrorists attack US military-backed forces isn’t just a snafu, it’s the final proof that the goal of US involvement in Syria is destabilization of that country and perpetuation of bloodshed, not democritization or rescue from the “mobster” Assad.

  4. Let’s not advertise that whole NATO connection. That type of collaberation requires a professional officer core with shared values. The Turkish military was just purged of those types and will become Erdogen / religious fanatics. Not the types that you want to share missile launch codes with. There is no doubt turkey actively supported Isis (who like Assad) saw them as convenient for a time. But as a westerner and a secularist I see anyone who works with Isis/jihadist as an enemy. So let’s stay with these underdog YPG SDF types. Let’s ditch erdogen-the house of saud-etc. Our long term interest lie in a modern ME not a religious nut job one.

  5. What is surprising in all this is that ISIS left Jarabulus without a fight upon the approach of the Turkish-backed rebels. Where did they go to? Some say Al-Bab. Why did they leave without a fight? Were they warned that they should leave? Possibly Turkish Intelligence gave them notice. The whole thing stinks, including U.S. involvement.

  6. Not the first time the US has opted to back multiple factions in a civil war. See US covert and overt actions in Liberia 1970s to 2003, by Niels Hahn. If the objective is to create a crippled and dependent sphere of influence with endless pretexts for further intervention in a region of vast strategic significance, this is how to go.

  7. More and more, U.S. foreign policy appears to be designed and carried out by young children dressed in adult attire.

  8. Everyone in the conflict told the Obama* that the Kurd were their Red-line and will intervene when that Red-line was crossed.

    Obama in his infinite naivety though their red-lines were like his own, lip service for the sake of a legacy, well here is the ugly truth, the world is not naive nor nice to naives.

    * From all my readings the CIA/State Department technocrats were always on the same page when it came to Syria and so was the DoD and all were vehemently resisted by Obama. Everything changed when Gates left the DoD and Admiral Flynn became the most powerful voice in the Syria policy there and it was him who forced the alliance with the Kurds because he had the president’s ear.

  9. I guess the letter in the drawer of the Oval Office from Bush to Obama just said: follow my international policies everywhere.

  10. How is the average US citizen going to get well enough informed about the mess in Syria in order to be able to make an informed choice regarding the Trump or Clinton foreign policy? That’s a rhetorical question, obviously. There’s no way to explain this to millions of voters.

    Other than, “Avoid entangling foreign alliances.”

  11. Not really a problem, is it?

    If push comes to shove the USA will not hesitate to push the Kurds under a bus.

    After all, the Kurds have already served their purpose i.e. shedding blood to disguise the fact that all the other “moderate rebels” didn’t actually exist.

    So why would the yanks care what happens to them now?

    Maybe if the Kurds now offer to fight Assad’s forces. Maybe. Or maybe not, who knows the capricious whims of those that live inside the Beltway?

    Perfidious Albion had nothing on The Indispensables.

  12. Well, I hate to be an I told you so, but from the very first I have been saying that the best US policy is to stay out of Syria. It is a mess, there are so many different factions, there is no good policy and anything we did was probably destined to fail. The big mistake was not any specific policy, but the idea that we thought we could achieve anything positive there.

  13. Soon the Pentagon will decide to end the war by doing what it does best: striking directly at the leadership of the enemy. They will assemble an armored column and drive at high speed down to Langley, Virginia, and assault CIA headquarters.

    Should be fun to watch.

  14. Sounds like what we have is global gang banging–where it’s hard to know who is allied with whom. See the article at the link below for parallels to the 600 odd gang factions in Chicago getting so decentralized that no one knows who is fighting whom.

    Seems like the same kind of fracturing is happening in Syria and across the Middle East. Is it a kind of evolutionary response in warfare? If each person can be an army of one against the larger world, who needs armies affiliated with specific nations?
    link to chicagotribune.com

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