Erdogan-Putin Syria Bromance as Turkey accuses US of backing ISIL

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Turkey and Russia are announcing they have reached a cease-fire deal in Syria. The ceasefire reached in Aleppo will be continued past December 28, and will be expanded to other parts of the country

Russia is representing the government of Bashar al-Assad, which its air force has shored up and to which it probably has granted the victory in the civil war, by giving Syrian troops and allied Shiite militias air support.

Turkey is backing elements of the Muslim Brotherhood (remnants of the Free Syrian Army) and the Salafi Jihadi group Freemen of Syria (Ahrar al-Sham), who have been trying to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad. (Turkey’s clients are Sunni Muslims).

Ahrar al-Sham in turn is allied with the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, the Levantine Conquest Front (the Nusra Front). Russia is determined to destroy al-Qaeda in Syria, and both Turkey and Syria agree that this terrorist group must be excluded from the ceasefire.

If this report holds up, it means either that the Freemen of Syria have finally broken with al-Qaeda (the two have a formal political coalition in Idlib) or that Turkey has definitively turned on al-Qaeda. Excluding the Levantine Conquest Front from ceasefires and negotiations has been a key talking point of Russia.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has on many occasions expressed a willingness to talk to and broker deals with the opposition rebels, excepting al-Qaeda and Daesh.

At the same time that Erdogan appears to have found some common ground with Putin, the increasingly authoritarian and erratic Turkish president turned on the United States, making serious accusations that the US and its 12-nation coalition against Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) have actually secretly been supporting the Daesh fighters.

Hurriyet reports,

““They [anti-ISIL coalition forces] were accusing us of supporting Daesh . . . Now they’ve all vanished and they’re giving support to terrorist groups including Daesh, YPG and the PYD . . . It’s very clear. We have confirmed evidence, with pictures, photos and videos . . .”

The US is certainly supporting Syrian left-wing Kurds (the YPG and PYD), which it distinguishes from the Anatolia-based Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Both Ankara and Washington consider the PKK a terrorist organization. Turkey, however, views the Syrian Kurdish parties and militia as branches of the PKK, while Washington insists that they are distinct, and that Syrian Kurds are good guys. Syrian Kurdish fighters have been among the few effective local fighting forces willing and able to defeat Daesh fighters in Raqqa province.

But the allegation that the US and its allies are just bombing Daesh/ ISIL for show but really are supporting it is bizarre.

Hurriyet observes,

“Later in the day, the U.S. State Department rejected as “ludicrous” accusations by Erdoğan that the U.S.-led coalition supported ISIL, though making a distinction to the support given to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

“Daesh – I said that from the outright. That’s just ludicrous. I don’t know where that comes from,” said State Department spokesman Mark Toner during a daily briefing…”

Some of Turkey’s high officials, including cabinet members, have blamed the US for the abortive coup of July 15, 2016. This allegation is without proof and inherently unlikely. But trying to tie the US to Daesh would be sweet revenge for Erdogan.


Related video:

TRT: “Russia says it will work more closely with Turkey, Iran on Syria”

10 Responses

  1. I find it interesting that missing from all of these peace talks is one historically large player in recent Middle East events…the Saudis. Makes one wonder…

  2. “But the allegation that the US and its allies are just bombing Daesh/ ISIL for show but really are supporting it is bizarre.”

    How so?

    • Larry, the trick is easy: the USA can say that it only supports “moderate rebels”, and then admit that those worthy-of-US-support unicorns are thoroughly “marbled in” with ISIL.

      Which leads to this: while it is true that ISIL is worthy of a good US-administered-thumping – and Get’s It whenever the opportunity arises – out there on the battlefield the “good guys” and the “bad guys” are Tweedle De and Tweedle Dum – so the USA’s hands are tied.

      The USA therefore can have is both ways:
      a) It can supply the Unicorn Armies while denying that it is supplying ISIL even though….. a significant amount of those supplies end up with ISIL.
      b) It can and will bomb ISIL everywhere that it “separates” from the Unicorn Army, which merely strengthens the incentive for ISIL to remain “marbled” with those US-supported Unicorns.

      End result: the USA bombs ISIL wherever it refuses to Play The Game, while giving very effective support whenever ISIL Plays Along With Washington’s Fairytale Unicorns.

      Here’s your cake, Mr. Obama. Of course you can eat it, Mr. Kerry.

  3. Sweet revenge would be the EU and the next administration encouraging Tayyip to go have fun with Russia and let it take in the suffering Sunni masses. He’s headed that way anyway now that he’s made peace with Perencek and Peker (!) and the Eurasianists in TSK.

  4. I suppose I can’t comment with any authority concerning the accusation that the Americans are arming the terrorists, but over here in the UK its a fact that my government is arming terrorists who go under the pseudonym of freedom fighters. I recently watch a question and answer session of a parliamentary committee in which the defense secretary and two of his side kicks discussed how they could get more ammunition to the Syrian terrorist for the heavy machine guns that we had supplied. Its worth pointing out that Congress has just past a bill to enable America to supply the so called rebels with shoulder mounted anti air craft missiles! How long before one of these ferocious weapons finds its way to Europe and is used against a civilian air liner?

  5. About half of airstrikes by the US coalition against targets in Syria are launched from an airfield about 1 km from where I’m writing.
    While it has rained heavily all day, and has been heavily overcast when it wasn’t actually coming down,
    I haven’t heard any warbirds since a pair of Saudi F-15’s took off at lunchtime.
    It looks like our team is respecting the ceasefire, even if we were left out of the negotiations.

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    The U.S. Government confirms that two different RIS
    actors participated in the intrusion into a U.S. political party. The first actor group, known as Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) 29, entered into the party’s systems in summer 2015, while the second, known as APT28, entered in spring 2016.

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