The overthrow by the Americans of the authoritarian regime of S. Hussein in Iraq gave rise to Sunni radicalism and allowed Iraqi Kurds to gain autonomy as the basis for future independence. The Arab Spring ended in a civil war in Syria, where Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, behind the Sunni radicals, clashed with Iran and its Shiite militia allies.
The Russian Aerospace Forces in the SAR became the decisive factor in the victory over the Islamists, forcing the US-led anti-terrorist coalition to go to war with the "Islamic State" (IG), ultimately taking Mosul and Syrian Raqqa. However, the defeat of the Islamic State, which was banned in Russia, gave rise to the problem of the Kurds, tying the relations of Washington, Ankara, Damascus, Tehran and Baghdad into a complex knot.
The armed forces of the coalition "Forces of Democratic Syria" (VTS), the backbone of which are Kurdish fighters, will become part of the Syrian troops in the future. This was announced on the TV channel "Rudau" co-chairman of the Council of VTS R. Darar. It was created in March 2016 of the year in Rumeilan with the establishment by the Kurds of the federal region Rojava - Northern Syria. For a VTS formation (50 of thousands of fighters) that took Rakka on 17 in October, a coalition led by the United States provided military assistance for two years. The Kurd-Arab confrontation comes to the fore as the IS infrastructure is eliminated.
Iraqi recipe for Damascus
De facto, it’s about the desire of the Kurds to create the Syrian Peshmerga with the official financing of Damascus, repeating the Iraqi experience. It is clear that the main participants in the settlement process will be against this option, especially against the background of the recent referendum on the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan (IC). The summit in Sochi showed that the problem is still unsolvable. Moscow can positively influence Tehran and Damascus in this direction, but Ankara is not ready for any compromises. Turkey is against the isolation of Syrian Kurds in the north in the version of the IC with the formation of legitimate armed units there.
The prospects for the dominance of the Kurdish forces of M. Barzani, a branch of the Democratic Party of Kurdistan (WPC), loyal to Ankara here are negligible. Their troops are driven from the Syrian north from the very beginning of the crisis. Officially, they were withdrawn to Iraq to fight the IS, but in fact they were forced to leave the Kurds from the Democratic Union (DS) party. In the heyday of "friendship" between Barzani and Erdogan, there were two attempts to introduce KDP units to the north of Syria to weaken the DS units. The latter was undertaken in the summer when Barzani traveled to Washington to ask for permission to remove the "Syrian" troops loyal to him from the front near Mosul and redeploy to the north with active air and fire support from the Turkish troops.
Erdogan's plan to eliminate the hostile Kurdish enclave through feuds in Washington failed under the pretext of not being able to weaken the front line against the IG at the time of the exertion of all forces to take Mosul. And the main thing here was the desire of the Americans to avoid the beginning of the armed struggle of the Kurds among themselves with the active participation of the Turks in it. This could bury plans to strengthen US influence in the Syrian north through the only force controlled by them in this territory - the DC. And the same thing can happen now, if we bear in mind the statement by US President D. Trump about the upcoming changes in providing support to the partners of the United States in Syria.
According to Turkish Foreign Minister M. Chavushoglu, Trump promised Erdogan to stop supplying weapons Syrian Kurds. But this was an impromptu American president who decided to “reassure” a colleague, “suspend” the settlement process initiated by Moscow, and sell the Turks American weapons instead of Russian ones. The US Department of State and the Pentagon were not warned about Trump's plans to stop the supply of weapons to the Kurdish detachments of the National Self-Defense Forces (SNS). There will be a new round of hardware struggle to convince Trump that he has committed populist nonsense. We need to carefully disavow the latest statements by the president and continue to supply the VTS detachments in Syria, since the Americans have no alternative support on the local "land" ...
Islamists will write off everything
The US Department of Defense is supplying weapons to Kurdish detachments from the VTS fighting the IG fighters. This was stated at a briefing by Pentagon spokesman Colonel R. Manning, in response to a question whether the order was received to stop such shipments. According to him, in the Pentagon they have only begun to consider the possibility of changing priorities in the provision of military support to Kurdish partners. “From the very beginning, we made it clear to Turkey that the supply of weapons to the Kurdish detachments would be limited, the mission was specific, and gradually increased these deliveries in order to accomplish the task - to destroy the IS militants,” explained Manning.
That is, the weapon will be supplied. The threat of the IG will write off everything. It is possible that the supply will even increase, since the Sunni detachments from the local tribes are still to be armed under the program for the creation of local self-government bodies. As to the statements of the military that after the end of the active phase of fighting the IS, the weapons supplied to the Kurds will be withdrawn, no one will hand them over, there is no one to take it away and the Americans are not going to do it. It is written off from the assets of the Pentagon, budget money spent. Real politics and PR are two different things. Quarrel Trump with the military, as Erdogan suggests, will not succeed.
Against this background, the Minister of Defense of Turkey N. Janikli did not rule out the possibility of conducting an operation in the Syrian Kurdish canton Afrin. But it is unlikely, since neither Moscow nor Washington needs it. In Afrin, there is a monitoring mission of the Russian Federation, and Ankara does not want to enter the clinch with the Russian military. In Sochi, Erdogan was told about the impossibility of solving the topic of the presence of the PKK detachments in Afrin by force. This explains the gloom of Erdogan at a press conference and the blocking of the convocation of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress. The Americans also do not need the occupation of Afrin because of the beginning after it the aggravation of the situation in the VTS and the mass transfer without permission of the Kurdish detachments of this coalition from the north to the aid of their fellow tribesmen.
This forms a vacuum in important areas for the US east of the Euphrates, which, with poorly structured tribal Sunni militia created by Americans, can be occupied by Assad forces. In addition, such a scenario will involve Washington in difficult maneuvers between the Turks and the Kurds: each side will require support. So intervention in Afrin is unlikely. Moreover, it will fuel long military actions (the Turks will not be able to quickly solve the problem because of the tactical, organizational, personnel and technical weakness of their armed forces), and also mark the beginning of a new stage of the war with the PKK on Turkish territory and inevitably stimulate another wave of terror Turkish cities that Erdogan does not need.
The National Security Council of Turkey called the successful operation of the army to establish observation points in the de-escalation zone in Idlib and said that such actions in Afrin and Aleppo in the north of Syria will help to achieve peace and stability in the region. This, according to the NTV television channel, is said in a statement by the Security Council of the Republic. The NSC meeting was chaired by Erdogan. The results of the meeting fix the real opportunities of Ankara in this direction. This refers to the presence of Turkish monitoring missions in Afrin and north of Aleppo. For Ankara, this is still the limit of possibilities.
At the meeting of the National Security Council discussed the combat readiness of the Turkish Armed Forces. It was about the infiltration of supporters of FETO F. Gulen into power structures. It was also recorded that the operation in Afrin could not be carried out quickly. The army is experiencing a serious shortage of helicopters, armored vehicles with increased mine protection, communications in the mountains. Plus, personnel shortage. Against the background of the FETO paranoia after the coup, the army and the power bloc of Turkey suffered serious losses, which affects their combat readiness. After the coup attempt in the summer of 2016, more than 113 thousand people were detained. According to Interior Minister S. Soilu, 47,1 thousands of suspects have been arrested. “Among the imprisoned 10 are 700 policemen, 7600 military personnel, 168 generals, 2500 judges and prosecutors, 208 officials and 26 100 civilians,” said Soylu.
Of the total number of detainees, more than 65, thousands of people were released, thousands of them 41,5 - under the supervision of law enforcement. The process continues. The Turkish authorities have issued an arrest warrant for 360 people, including 343 soldiers, on suspicion of involvement in a coup attempt. The operation of detention of suspects is carried out in Istanbul. The day before, the Ankara Prosecutor’s Office had issued a warrant for 75 to detain former students of the police academy on suspicion of involvement in the FETO. Up to half of the personnel were fired or detained in the gendarmerie (they bore the brunt of the fight against drug trafficking and earlier - against Kurdish separatism); in the MIT special services, the special intelligence and monitoring department of Internet correspondence was eliminated.
A massive cleansing of the staff of the embassy residency MIT abroad was carried out, as a result of which its reconnaissance activity was paralyzed. Among the main tasks of the residency are solely to track Kurdish separatism and the activity of structures associated with Gulen. In August, the former head of the MIT Department for Combating Right-wing Organizations and Communism, E. Altaili, was arrested. This ethnic Uzbek was accused of having links with the Gulenists, although, being retired, he worked with the CIA on the Uzbek colony in Turkey (in conjunction with the emissaries of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan - IMU) and in Central Asia. Through agents among the right and nationalists, he collected information about the processes in this segment of Turkish politics and their relationship with the leadership of the country.
The arrest of Altaili took place when the Turks began to intensify working contacts with one of the leaders of the Northern Alliance of Afghanistan, General R. Dostum, for which he traveled to Ankara this summer. Thus, the Americans cut off one of the few channels for receiving information about Central Asia and Afghanistan from Turkey. Experts believe that this is a reaction to the arrest of Americans in 2016, businessman R. Zarrab closely associated with Erdogan’s inner circle, who was accused of circumventing the anti-Iran sanctions. The ensuing detentions of local embassies of the US Embassy and the visa scandal fit into the current practice of the Turkish special services to eliminate pro-American agents among the security forces. Both arrested local employees were responsible for collecting information in government agencies and for liaising with officials in the security bloc.
There is an obvious tendency for a hard limitation of US intelligence in the Turkish government. The binding of Gulen to this process (besides Erdogan’s personal hatred of him) is logical. He has been working with the CIA for a long time (this was proven by the Russian security authorities as early as during his time in the power magazine during an investigation into the introduction of American agents in the Nurzhular sect colleges, on the basis of which it was banned in the Russian Federation). There is no reason to exclude the same activity through the FETO structures in Turkey itself and in other countries. So the current campaign against supporters of FETO in the country is also the elimination of the US bridgeheads in the structures of executive power.
All this strengthens the confidence of the Turkish president in the strength of his position and that it will not be possible to shift him even in the case of a direct team from Washington (there will be no one to carry it out), but weakens the Turkish law enforcement agencies to the state when they carry out any serious operation in Syria they can not. Speeches about direct analogies with the purges in the Soviet Red Army 1937, no, but the situation is very close, but the results are exactly the same. The repression of the authorities has never and never helped strengthen the structures that have been subjected to them ...
Everything is just beginning
Recently, secret contacts between the leadership of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Syrian special services have intensified. Over the past month, at least two rounds of talks were held in Damascus between the military leader of the PKK, K. Bayyuk, and the main coordinator of the Syrian special services, A. Mamluk. On November 18, the head of the PKK secret service, M. Carso, and one of the military coordinators of cooperation with the Democratic Union party on the PKK line, A. Dokka, also met with Mamluk. According to French data, the talks dealt with the prospects for the formation of the Kurdish autonomy of Rojava in the north of the country. In exchange for her recognition, Bayuk guaranteed the withdrawal of Kurdish troops from all Arab regions of Syria. At the same time, the Kurds were counting on the assistance of Damascus in convincing the Russian Federation and Iran in the correctness of such a step. The dialogue with Damascus Kurds was allegedly forced by the obscure position of the United States on the recognition of the results of the referendum on the independence of the IC.
Let us understand this interpretation of the negotiations. Persuading the recognition of Kurdish autonomy in Syria is necessary to Damascus and Tehran, not Moscow. Vladimir Putin spoke at a meeting with Assad about the importance of the presence of Kurds from the DS in the Syrian National Dialogue Congress. Moreover, Moscow has channels of communication with the PKK and the DS and the Syrian mediation is not required. The Kurds not only conducted negotiations in Damascus on autonomy in the north of the country, but also tried to determine with the authorities about the zones of influence here and relations with the Syrian garrisons. They would like the withdrawal of government forces from Haseke in exchange for withdrawing their troops from Aleppo and other areas. At the same time, the participation of the Kurds as an independent force in the negotiation formats was discussed. The PKK did not meet with the approval of the Mamluk, which is why Asad had to be urgently summoned to Sochi.
At the same time, the PKK leadership continues regular contacts with the head of the Quds subdivision of the Iranian IRGC, General K. Suleymani, to confirm guarantees of continued supplies of equipment and weapons. In addition, the PKK would like to maintain a presence in Sinjar. And the leadership of the PKK in the middle of November received assurances of support from Suleymani. These negotiations did not pass by the attention of Turkey. The close connection between Tehran and the PKK causes growing irritation in Ankara, as well as the strengthening of Iranian positions in the IC. Competition between the Turks and Iranians in this region has not been canceled. The temporary tactical rapprochement between Ankara and Tehran against the background of the Kurdish independence referendum did not change anything.
Tehran made the most of the unsuccessful attempt by clan M. Barzani to hold a referendum on independence in the EC. He not only crushed the two largest parties - the KDP and the PKK, but also acted as a guarantor at the conclusion of a secret deal between Baghdad and Erbil on the surrender of Kirkuk Kurds and participated in this by the forces of the Iraqi Shiite control units Hashd al-Shaabi. Tehran used this to deploy them in the region on an ongoing basis, thus violating the terms of the deal with Erbil. Iranians have bet on the late KDP leader’s nephew and Parastin u Zinyari head of the party special services L. Talabani as the main leader of the insurgency to overthrow the clan Barzani unfriendly to Tehran, which is too closely linked to Washington and Ankara. In early November, Talabani discussed this in Tehran with the head of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security, M. Alavi.
The strengthening of Iran has forced the United States to take measures to create a strong counterweight in Kirkuk. On November 29, it was reported that units of the US Armed Forces participating in the operations of the counter-terrorist coalition in Iraq were deployed to the K1 military base in Kirkuk province. The task of the forces arriving there is “helping the Iraqi security forces to maintain the constitution and law in a province inhabited by Arabs, Kurds, Turkomans and Christians”. The number of US troops is not specified. The province’s largest military base, KHNUMX, was returned to the control of Iraqi government forces in mid-October. Since 1, this object has been one of the strongholds of the Kurdish Peshmerga paramilitary groups that de facto controlled the province.
According to the Anatolian Agency, a joint command center for US-led operations will be established in Iraq’s Kirkuk. Kurdish troops operating in the provinces will hand over to him. According to the agency, after Iraqi government forces took control of the region, it became unsafe in areas populated mainly by Kurds.
In fact, there is a marked increase in Iranian influence, which worries Baghdad and Washington. Hence the decision of the Iraqi Prime Minister H. Al-Abadi to give the go-ahead to the deployment of a US military contingent in Kirkuk under the pretext of providing security and increasing the combat readiness of the Iraqi army. Which means: the real problems with the Kurds are still ahead. Including Baghdad ...