World War III: Turkey Sends Troops into Syria as Saudi Warplanes Arrive


Conflict is Convoluted, Outcome is Unknown

The United States seems unable to decide who to back. Some of her actions were designed to bring down the Assad regime, but appear to have encouraged and allowed the build up of ISIS in the region. Now that ISIS is seen as a problem and enemy, the U.S. had to shift gears and battle against that group. The middle ground seems to be to support the Kurds who are fighting against both Assad and ISIS, but given the criticism leveled at the U.S. for meddling in the area, support to the Kurds and been measured and careful.

In the meantime, Turkey's Erdogan is less interested in the Syrian civil war and more interested in reopening petroleum shipments from ISIS to Turkey, and now in fighting the Kurds who have a sizable population in Turkey that would prefer to break off and establish their own territory. And as always, the Russians loom in the background.

The Syrian government says Turkish forces were believed to be among 100 gunmen it said entered Syria on Saturday accompanied by 12 pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns, in an ongoing supply operation to insurgents fighting Damascus,” Reuters reports. “The operation of supplying ammunition and weapons is continuing via the Bab al-Salama crossing to the Syrian area of Azaz,” the Assad government says.

Meanwhile, since all that would take to unleash a full-blown war is for some Russian to be unexpectedly blown up, events like this do not inspire much confidence in the Syrian “ceasefire”:

On Saturday, the geopolitical world was shocked when Turkey began shelling Aleppo, where the Syrian opposition has its back against the wall in the face of an aggressive advance by Hezbollah and the IRGC supported, of course, by Russian airstrikes.

To be sure, everyone knew Ankara and Riyadh would have to do something quick if they wanted to preserve the rebellion. Their proxies are being rolled up rapidly by Hassan Nasrallah’s army and Vladimir Putin’s air force juggernaut. But few expected the escalation would come so quickly.

But Recep Tayyip Erdogan is unpredictable (just ask the lone surviving pilot of the Su-24 Turkey shot down in November) and this weekend, he decided that there’s no time like the present when it comes to starting World War III.

Officially, Turkey says it’s shelling Kurdish positions in Syria in self defense. It’s all about securing the border against hostiles, Ankara says. Of course the idea that the YPG are set to invade Turkey is laughable. The Syrian Kurds have secured enough space in their own country to declare an autonomous proto-state, and they needn’t aspire to capturing Turkish territory.

“They are abusing U.S. support to capture land from the opposition,”a Turkish official said, reflecting Ankara's anger at the fact that Russia and Hezbollah's offensive is making it easier for the Kurds to consolidate their gains. “The U.S. should tell them to stop rather than telling Turkey to stop.”

And so, Turkey is set to take the fight to Syria in the name of fighting “terrorists”, which for Erdogan, means eradicating the Kurds. As we noted on Saturday, the challenge for Ankara and Riyadh is this: somehow, Turkey and Saudi Arabia need to figure out how to spin an attack on the YPG and an effort to rescue the opposition at Aleppo as an anti-ISIS operation even though ISIS doesn’t have a large presence in the area.

Incredibly, Turkey seems less concerned about the optics than we thought. In short, Erdogan looks as though he’s prepared to simply enter the war on the pretext that Turkey needs to roll back the YPG which, you’re reminded is explicitly backed by the US.

In a way that makes sense. You can’t very well shell Aleppo and use ISIS as an excuse. The group’s presence isn’t large enough in the area. But what you can do is say “the PKK are terrorists, they’re allied with the YPG who are in Aleppo, and therefore, we need to shell Aleppo.”

Put in the simplest possible terms, what Erdogan is really doing is trying to reopen supply lines closed by Russia and Iran by wiping out Kurdish forces who dominate the northern border with Turkey.

Meanwhile, the Russians aren't letting up. Aleppo will be recaptured and that, as they say, is that.

“Russia is determined to create facts on the ground, and when they have accomplished this, then they will invite the West to fight a common enemy, this is ISIS,” Norbert Roettgen, head of the foreign affairs committee in the German parliament says, underscoring our contention that Russia is determined to negotiate from a position of absolute strength. “Let's be clear about what this agreement does. It allows Russia's assault on Aleppo to continue for another week,” John McCain exclaimed. “Mr Putin is not interested in being our partner. He wants to shore up the Assad regime, he wants to establish Russia as a major power in the Middle East, he wants to use Syria as a live fire exercise for Russia’s modernizing military.”

The Middle East has always been a problem on the world stage, with intrigue and instability the hallmark of politics there. The larger issue is the expansion of Russian presence and influence in the region, coupled with the stature and respect that Putin has garnered, even as Obama has allowed the U.S. to become a secondary figure with little power to shape the outcome.

Mr. Obama has shown once again that he truly was and is merely a community organizer, ill equipped to deal with complex world issues and unpredictable leaders. Whether the new president can regain the stature and respect American once had after the disastrous administration of Obama is anyone's guess, but it will be a monumental task given the tremendous damage he has done to American international power and prestige.

Source: zerohedge.com



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