TURKEY THREATENS US: May Close NATO’s Incirlik Air Base

The breaking apart of NATO continues at full speed.  Erdogan’s invasion of Syrian Kurdistan otherwise known as Rojava in northern Syria has been met with the full force of the American trained SDF.  Although the Turkish Armed Forces (TOF) are gaining ground in Afrin, it is coming at a cost and it is a grind.  Turkey’s lack of real forward movement due to the Trump administration’s full support of the Kurds in northern Syria has sparked a potential direct confrontation between the USA and Turkey, two suppoosed NATO allies.

With frustration mounting in Turkey’s military echelon on the lack of sweeping success with their Afrin operation, they have begun to lash out at the USA and NATO.

Turkey’s latest threat is to close the key NATO Incirlik air base. This has been an important part of NATO’s ability to launch missions if needed in the Middle East.

“If Turkey’s medium and long-term interests require to take a step [to close the base] Turkey certainly would not refrain from taking this step,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Fikri Işık said during a press conference, according to the Türkiye newspaper.

Russia is Setting Up a Break Up of NATO

By paving the way for Turkey to invade Afrin, eventhough in other parts of Syria, Russia has pushed back against a break up of Syrian territory, Putin is setting up Turkey to face the USA.  The strategy is to force a direct conflict between two NATO members, thus fast tracking the alliance’s potential disintegration.  For Putin, this is essential as NATO has put more and more military personel into Eastern Europe in order to isolate Russia.

But is Turkey’s presence in NATO necessary?

Does Trump Care About Turkey Being in NATO?

President Trump started his foray into the politics of NATO by declaring it was now obsolete during the campaign trail.  As a reminder here is his statement:

“I think NATO’s obsolete. NATO was done at a time you had the Soviet Union, which was obviously larger, much larger than Russia is today. I’m not saying Russia’s not a threat. But we have other threats. We have the threat of terrorism and NATO doesn’t discuss terrorism, NATO’s not meant for terrorism. NATO doesn’t have the right countries in it for terrorism. And what I’m saying is that we pay, number one, a totally disproportionate share of NATO. We’re spending the biggest, the lion share’s paid for by us, disproportionate to other countries. … NATO is obsolete and it’s extremely expensive to the United States, disproportionately so. And we should readjust NATO. And it’s going to have to be either readjusted to take care of terrorism or we’re going to have to set up a new — a new coalition, a new group of countries to handle terrorism because terrorism is out of control.”

After he became president he changed his opinion and now insists he believes that NATO is not obsolete. Yet, one line stands out in the above statement: “NATO doesn’t have the right countries in it for terrorism.”  This line appears to be a reference to Turkey. Afterall, it has been proven and reported in countless publications that it was in fact Turkey that fostered and helped grow what became to be known as ISIS.

So Putin may be trying to play both Turkey and the USA off eachother, in a bid to cause chaos in NATO, but what if Trump doesn’t care?  Also what if France and Germany don’t care either?

Perhaps Turkey leaving NATO is part of the equation in suporting a much more stable Middle East without the meddling of would be neo-Ottoman upstarts.  As the battle rages on in Afrin Turkey may opt to leave NATO, but it may ultimately backfire on those attempting to force the alliance’s disintegration.

Kurds Continue to Hold Strong Against Turkey in Afrin

Despite the announcement of President Erdogan of Turkey, the Kurdish dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continue to be a serious thorn in the side of Erdogan’s dream of recreating the Ottoman Empire.

The Kurds were meant to be crushed in a manner of days as a result of the Turkish invasion of Afrin dubbed operation “Olive Branch,” but instead of retreating they have pushed back heavily against the Turkish army.

On Saturday (February 10th) alone eleven Turkish fighters involved in Ankara’s invasion of Afrin were killed. Another eleven  were injured on the same day, according to the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF).

Two service members were killed when a T129 ATAK attack helicopter was shot down by YPG/YPJ fighters. The helicopter crashed in the Turkish province of Hatay.

The rest of the Turkish fighters were killed or injured in clashes with SDF forces in defending Afrin from the TAF.

Of course the TAF’s general staff claimed that 1,266 ‘terrorists’ have been ‘neutralized’ in Afrin since the start of Operation Olive Branch on January 20. These numbers are completely unsubstantiated and more than likely inflated to help Erdogan with his citizens as the operation is not going well.

It is hard to see how Erdogan can claim he will have th operation wrapped up in a short time.  Every day that goes by without a decisive victory as the potantial to turn “Operation Olive Branch” into a serious quagmire for the neo-Ottoman autocrat.  Unless Russia and Syria do more than passive allowance of Turkish attacks in Kurdish controlled territory, Erdogan will either have to pull back and accept defeat or go in under full capacity and doing so risk direct conflict.

Syria is becoming the testing ground for the neo-Cold War that is far closer to an active war between the super powers.  Afrin, Deir ez-Azur, and the Golan are ground zero for the coming conflagration.


PACKERS CORNER: Time to Legalize Havat Gilad

Tonight is the Yahrzeit of my Grandfather, of beloved memory, Huna Leib (Lionel) ben Aharon (Packer). Anything good that comes from this installment is dedicated to the spiritual elevation of his precious soul. He was a wonderful man and an even better Grandfather!

Speaking of death, the carnage in northwest Syria continues and seems to only be getting worse. While the Turkish army is making slow but steady progress against the Kurdish defenses, it seems more attention should be focused on the Syrian “rebels”. They are not only fully participating in the fighting, but many videos and pictures have emerged of terrible atrocities they are committing. If this surprises you, I suggest you move from Antarctica to somewhere with access to some form of worldly information. Its difficult to envision the Kurdish forces hanging on, but we can hope and pray. No country is currently more involved in attacking the Jewish Presence in Jerusalem than TURKEY! That my surprise some folks, but evidence is everywhere here in the Old City.

The saga of officially recognizing Havat Gilad as a legal community continues for another week. Now the Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, promises there will be a final cabinet vote on Sunday. To help understand the significance of this potential move, I have included a picture of a map of the area. If one looks closely, Havat Gilad sits in between the Jewish communities of Kedumim and Yitzhar.

On this specific map and in most “peace plans”, the yellow and black line is that of the proposed security fence/possible future Israeli border. Kedumim in inside the line, but Havat Gilad and Yitzhar are outside. By recognizing Havat Gilad, everything gets closer to Yitzhar. Yitzhar sits on the north side of the arab village of Huwara. This is quite a hostile area for Jewish motorists to traverse to get to the nearby Jewish Communities of Yitzhar, Bracha, Itamar and Elon Moreh. Similar to the Hevron area farther south, there is no real possibility for a contiguous “palestinian state” if the Jewish presence remains in this area. The current Israeli Government has promised to build a bypass road around Huwara. If that happens, based on previous similar examples (think/google Tekoa and the “Lieberman Road”), development should skyrocket. Starting to understand why Havat Gilad is so important? If not, pm me. I love the attention.

Investigations of the Prime Minister continue and the Government Coalition remains obscenely stable.

This week, Poland is claiming not to be historically anti-Semitic and not to have been involved in the killing Jews in the Holocaust. Not really sure what to say about this other than to simultaneously think of every dumb polack joke I have ever heard. Those folks got a real talent.

Finally, there’s a whole to do about the planned upcoming deportation of African infiltrators from Israel back to Africa. Personally, I don’t see why the black hebrews can’t be thrown in (out) as well. In short, people who live far away from and are not personally affected by them think we should let them all stay, because why the hell not?  And those who live with/interact with them, vehemently want them to go. Seems to be a recurring pattern. I would like to make a suggestion: those advocating for the infiltrators to stay should threaten to go to Africa with them, in real solidarity, if they get deported. Even better, they should sign legal paperwork guaranteeing it. Or would they prefer to wax self-righteous all the while preaching from their exclusively ashkenazic high income ivory towers. I guess we’ll have to wait to see what they decide.

Does Turkey’s Capture of Key Town in Afrin Matter?

Sources from Afrin, Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) claim the Turkish Army and FSA proxy Bulbul, considered to be a strategic town at the center of the Bulbul district, which is just north of Afrin.  The Turkish army claims over 24 Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) were killed and at least one other was captured by Turkish forces during fighting in the town.

The Turkish-backed FSA groups also announced that their fighters had captured the villages of Ali Kar, Za’ra and al-Ham in the Bulbul district.

The SDF stated that its defense forces had killed 20 Turkish soldiers during fighting in the village of Qurna. The SDF also said its fighters destroyed Turkish Army vehicle in the village of Za’ra.

The Turkish Anadolu Agency reported that the Turkish Air Force (TAF) destroyed 18 SDF positions in the general Afrin area in overnight attacks. Kurdish sources are reporting that over 104 civilians have been killed, and 156 other have been injured in the TAF bombardment so far.

Does Erdogan’s Incursions Matter for Turkey?

With Turkey’s invasion into Syrian Kurdish territory taking longer than expected, the Turkish President Erdogan is increasingly hurting his relationship with the West and even Russia.  He may be playing to his base, but without serious gains early on and high civilian casulties, Turkey risks eventual isolation with the very countries it needs.

Still in question is whether Erdogan is willing to go head to head with American troops.  If so, buckle up, the Middle East will get far more bumpy.


CHAOS GROWING: Turkey Risking War Against the US and Russia

Some people are gamblers and others are just downright insane.  Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the President of Turkey appears to be shifting from political gambler to a completely insane autocrat.  Turkey’s current invasion of the autonomous Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin has not only unnerved the United States, who is the main backer of the the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), but Russia’s Putin as well.  Given the neo Cold War relationship between Russia and the USA, Erdogan has actually accomplished an astounding feet.

Due to the SDF’s American training and advanced weaponry, Turkey has found its operation harder than originally expected.  Most leaders would stop after watching a number of their tanks get blown up in the first hours of combat, but this has made Erdogan more set on invading the Kurdish areas of Northern Syria.  He claims that he will move South into Idlib as well as moving forces into the Kurdish heartland of Manbij which hosts a sizeble American base.

Courtesy of Syria War Map

“We will rid Manbij of terrorists, as it was promised to us, and our battles will continue until no terrorist is left until our border with Iraq,” Mr Erdogan said this past Friday.

This maneuver alone brings Erdogan close to a direct confrontation with US soldiers who according to reports have not planned on moving aside for Turkey’s assault.

As far as the possibility of the US pulling its forces from the Manbig, General Joseph Votel, head of the United States Central Command, Speaking on CNN, said that withdrawing US forces from the strategically important city is “not something we are looking into.”

Yet Erdogan insists he is in the right as his Turkish forces are simply destroying “terrorists.”  The question is whether Erdogan will actually make a move against US forces in Manbij.  For the US, there has been no question that its position in the area is not only just, but necessary.

“Turkey knows where our forces are in Manbij, and what they are doing there, and why they are there –to prevent any kind of escalation between the groups who are in that area,” Dillon told Rudaw TV. “The Coalition will continue to support our Syrian Democratic Forces in the fight against ISIS. We have said this all along, and we have said this with the Kurdish elements of the SDF. We will provide them equipment as necessary to defeat ISIS.”

As if this was not enough, Erdogan’s move South to Idlib brings Russia into the mix.  The following set of Tweets from Jenan Moussa, reporter for Arabic Al Aan TV gives over another one of Erdogan’s toughtless maneuvers.

With Russia appearing not to decide to move out of the way for Erdogan’s scheme to rebuild the Ottoman Empire, the die is cast for a very explosive expansion of the Syrian war.

Erdogan is the Real Terrorist in Syria, Not the Kurds

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launched a brutal assault on the Kurdish majority Syrian region of Afrin on Saturday.  Dubbed “Operation Olive Branch,” the Turkish government insists it is cleaning out the area of Kurdish “Terrorists.”

Afrin is controlled by the Kurdish dominated SDF and trained and armed by the US government to defeat ISIS and offer an alternative leadership to the Assad regime.  Erdogan has a nasty habit of claiming and suspecting every Kurd of being a terrorist.

The truth is, Erdogan and his own family funded and aided ISIS for the past few years in order to sow chaos in Syria and Iraq.  The project worked until more and more countries figured out that Turkey itself was behind the rise of the Sunni Jihadists.  Why would Erdogan fund ISIS?  Turkey has always wanted to regain its former stature and what better way to do that than createenough chaos that it would be forced to go in and stablize it. Now that Erdogan and the Turkish government has been forced out of that strategy by Russia, Iran, and even the US, it has decided to use the chaos to go after a new terrorist entity…the Kurds.

For Erdogan everyone else is the terrorist.  However, in the first 24 hours of his attacking Afrin, over 20 civilians have been killed with most being chilldren, including 8 members of the same family.  Keep in mind, Erdogan has ordered the Turkish army into Afrin, the SDF has not entered into Turkey. So who is the real terrorist?

WORLD WAR 3: Turkish Ground Forces Cross Into Syria, Now in Direct Combat with Kurds

It has begun.  With one single directive to the Turkish forces, the Turkish ground  forces stationed near Afrin have crossed into Syria and pushed the self destruct button on NATO as we know it.  Reports out of Afrin are clear, Turkish armored divisions and troops have moved into Afrin and are now engaged in direct clashes with heavily armed American backed Syrian Kurds.

If the above tweet is accurate, the Turkish forces are already experiencing serious casulties. The SDF, whch the YPG is a majority force in, is well trained and armed with the best weapons.  This won’t be a replay of the Iranian backed occupation of Kirkuk, which seemed to catch the US off guard.

Courtesy of Syria War Map

According to Rudaw, the SDF has repelled the initial Turkish attack.  While it’s true some border villages have been captured by the Turkish army, the heavy and successful resistance is not helpful for Erdogan’s projection of success.

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Meanwhile,France has called for an urgent Security Council meeting over Turkey’s invasion.

“Ghouta, Idlib, Afrin – France asks for an urgent meeting of the Security Council,” Le Drian said on his Twitter feed. He added that he had spoken with his Turkish counterpart on Jan. 21 morning.

“France is very preoccupied by the situation in Syria and by the brutal degradation of the situation,” Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

“This is why we have called for a Security Council meeting to evaluate all the humanitarian risks, which are very serious,” he said speaking in Algiers on the sidelines of a meeting for western Mediterranean countries.

Despite Turkey’s claim that it notified Syria of the operation, the Syrian regime came out against Ankara’s actions.

“The Syrian Arab Republic decisively condemns Turkish aggression against the town of Afrin, which is an inseparable part of Syria,” a statement released by the Syrian regime said, as quoted by the SANA news agency.

NATO also chimed in and asked Turkey to act “rationally.”

So far the US has stayed quiet, but expect that to change is Erdogan keeps trying to push forward.  With Russia staying out of the fray for now, all sides in Syria are on edge for the next big development.  Given the fact that Erdogan cannot afford to retreat until he has accomplished his mission for fear of looking weak in the face of the 20 million Kurds in Turkey, this has the very real potential of shattering post World War 2 alliances as well as pulling the US and Russia directly into the quagmire.

END OF NATO: Turkey Bombs US Backed Kurds in Afrin

The Turkish army announced the beginning of “Operation Olive Branch” earlier today (Jan. 20th) and immediately started bombing the Kurdish dominated enclave of Afrin in an attempt to wipe out what they call “terrorists.”  However, the Syrian Kurds make up the majority of the US trained SDF and are heavily armed with American weaponry.  Afrin may be an isolated enclave, but it is backed up by America.

Turkey’s Erdogan insists that once he is done in Afrin he will move to the main part of what the Kurds call Rojava. Rojava and the area the SDF controls is nearly 1/3 of Syria.  The SDF has been the most effective fighting force against ISIS and with both Secretary of State Tillerson and Gen. Mattis announcing the need to keep American forces in Syria after ISIS, the SDF is critical for American influence in a post ISIS Syria.

To this point, Erdogan senses that the SDF and the expanded territory of an autonomous Syrian Kurdistan are a permanent fixture. His invasion of Afrin and Rojava  is serious.

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Will the US Fight Back?

Yes.  The Kurds in Syria are not the KRG in Iraq.  The US government sees the SDF as a critical component of stabalizing Syria in a way that is beneficial to US interests. The US has already provided ManPads to the SDF to knock Turkish planes from the sky.

Turkey may be able to push the Kurds out of Afrin in the early phases, but it will run into heavy resistance as it continues.

Is this the End of NATO?

If there is a direct clash between the US and Turkey, then yes.  The fact is, Turkey has been on its way out of NATO for a while, but this accelerates the pace of Turkey leaving the Cold War relic. Yet, this does not mean Turkey leaving under these auspices is a good thing. However hated Turkey is within the ranks of NATO, a direct clash between Turkey and a fellow member state’s proxy has the potential to shake foundations of NATO.  Of course this is Erdogan’s goal.

Where is Russia?

Putin has already moved his troops and most of his airforce from Afrin as a way to steer clear of the conflict.  Putin’s goal is to allow Turkey and the US backed Kurds to take each other down while Russia cleans up after the mess.  Russia’s secondary goal is splinter NATO as he pushes forward with his expansion.

The Russian Ministry of Defense issued the following statement:

“The command of the Russian group of troops in Syria has taken measures to ensure the security of Russian servicemen located in the district of Afrin, where the Turkish Armed Forces launched a special operation against the Kurdish armed groups,” the statement reads.

The Russians also said that the US supplies of advance weapons to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria triggered Turkey’s military operation against the Kurdish militias in Afrin.

Uncontrolled deliveries of modern weapons, including reportedly the deliveries of the man-portable air defense systems, by the Pentagon to the pro-US forces in northern Syria, have contributed to the rapid escalation of tensions in the region and resulted in the launch of a special operation by the Turkish troops,” the ministry said.

In the coming days it will become apparant that NATO, Turkey, and the US backed Kurds are moving the region into an expanded conflict that no one will find a clean way out of.


Will Turkey’s Showdown in Afrin Split NATO?

Turkey has always had a complex relationship with the rest of its NATO partners, ut during the current Erdogan period it has grown exceedingly problematic.  With the weakening of US positions across he Middle East and Trump’s reliance on reliable indigenous allies to shoulder the ground burden against ISIS and Iran, Turkey sees its position falter.

The US has spent the past two years strengthening the Kurdish YPG dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Northern Syria by offering training, weapons, and logistics. The YPG/SDF are spread across five cantons that buttress Syria’s border with Turkey.

Turkey has always dealt poorly with the 20 million Kurds within their country, but has grown excessively weary about the Kurdish self-determination movements growing in Syria and Iraq.  Both of these movements are being funded more or less by the US, France, and Germany; all of whom double as fellow NATO members to Turkey.

Erdogan has grown despondent about the US role in building a future Kurdistan.

“We are greatly disappointed by the United States not keeping its promises. Many issues that we could have resolved easily…were pushed to a dead-end,” Erdogan said this past week.

Erdogan’s opposition to the US backing of the YPG in Syria is now seen as a threat to the NATO alliance itself. This makes Turkey’s assault on Kurdish positions in Afrin ground zero to see how Trump views Turkey’s future roll in NATO.  Afterall, the prevailing wisdom is that Turkey was behind much of the early growth of ISIS and used the chaos to push back on growing Kurdish autonomy.  With the narrative flipped, Turkey sees Afrin as an important litmus test on how far America will actually go to defend their proxy in Northern Syria.

“We need to cleanse Afrin of the structure there called the YPG terrorist organization,” Erdogan said.

Comparing the YPG to the notorious PKK, a long time enemy dof Turkey, might play well inside Turkey, but it does nothing to heal the divide between Turkey and the West.

Syrian Kurds and Turkey Exchange Fire Over Afrin

Turkish and Kurdish forces exchanged fire across the Afrin-Idlib border on Monday, according to several reports. No casualties have been reported.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed there was an exchange of fire between the sides. The organization stated that the YPG targeted Dar Ta izzah town and Turkey retaliated by launching fire into YPG-controlled Afrin canton.

The Observatory has also been reporting a steady increase of Turkish armored vehicles and soldiers entering the Afrin and Idlib areas as a preparation for a final assault on the Kurdish positions in Afrin. If Afrin were to fall to Turkey it would be the second Kurdish stronghold to fall to either Iran or Turkey in the past one and half months.

With the SDF offering the most stable option for a post war Syria, the US may have to forego its faltering relationship with Islamist Turkey in order to shore up a far more dependable ally it has found with the Kurds. If this happens, it may spell th end of Turkey’s membership in NATO.


From Afrin to Sulaimani Kurdistan is Moving to Independence

If Turkey did not want an independent Kurdistan, especially one united with West Kurdistan located in Syria, then their actions against the Kurdish enclave in Afrin have had the opposite effect.  Consistent shelling of the YPG (Syrian Kurdish Militia) in Afrin has caused the Kurds of Sulaimani, which is located far to the East near the border of Iran and Iraq to rally to their brothers in Syria.

Last week Israel Rising reported that Turkey was preparing to invade Western Kurdistan, which is located in present day Northern Syria. By amassing Turkish troops in the Kilis triangle opposite Syria, Erdogan was hoping to scare the Kurds into backing down. The opposite has happened and it appears Turkey has now caused both areas to unite in their struggle.

A united Western and Southern Kurdistan which spans from Northern Iraq into Northern Syria is considered an existential threat to Turkey. There are twenty million Kurds living in South-Eastern Turkey, which is considered occupied Northern Kurdistan. An independent Kurdistan arising on the Turkish border would inherently inspire Northern Kurdistan to break away from their Turkish occupiers.