Handle the scorpion, get stung by it: a Saudi ISIS suicide bomber detonated himself in Istanbul, killing at least ten people and injuring over a dozen
Ever since President Obama's tepid endorsement of Turkey's treacherous ambush of a Russian bomber flying inside Syrian air space near the border in late November, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu have watched the Administration capitulate to the Russians and Iranians on point after point. Secretary of State John Kerry's face to face talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin ended with a big grin on Putin's face. Meanwhile, according to his neoconservative as well as Mideast Sunni critics, Obama is so desperate to push his grand nuclear peace deal with the Iranians over the finish line, that the White House is rationalizing the on camera humiliation of American sailors captured with their river patrol boats in Iranian Persian Gulf waters -- who were later returned safe and unharmed by the Iranians.
This split has become so ugly and out in the open, that the Mayor of the Turkish capitol Ankara is publically calling for the American Ambassador John Bass to leave the country. While not a formal declaration of persona non grata or revocation of diplomatic status, Melih Gökçek's blunt call for the Americans to mind their own business and cease criticizing Turkey's arrests of pro-Kurdish and anti-war scholars as well as critics of Erdoğan means that the split between the two NATO allies can no longer be quietly swept under the rug. As Dr. Jim Willie has hinted, the honeymoon between Turkey and the U.S. that had seen the American Embassy in Ankara become a host for all sorts of nefarious activities related to narcotics trafficking and ISIS is over. Saudi Arabia and Turkey are now huddling up, looking to take matters into their own hands, but continue to fail in their offensives on all fronts -- whether in Turkish Kurdistan, maintaining proxy control over northern Syraq, or the disastrous campaign in Yemen.
As Ft. Russ reports, Mayor Gökçek accused Washington of meddling in Turkey's sovereign affairs as well as 'Black Lives Matter' hypocrisy on human rights:
Bass, on Friday, expressed concern about the detention of Turkish scholars who protested against violence in Kurdish-populated provinces of the country. Previously 1128 Turkish and foreign scientists published an appeal entitled "We are not going to be part of this crime", urging the Turkish authorities "to stop the massacre and carnage" on the South-East of the country and to return to the negotiating table for a peaceful settlement to the Kurdish problem. The Prosecutor's office of the Kocaeli province in northwestern Turkey on Friday sanctioned the arrest of 21 Turkish scholars who signed the appeal, 14 of them were detained.
"In the U.S. the police are shooting people, like birds, due to the fact that the man does not raise his hands. And do we advise enduring the attacks of armed terrorists on our police and soldiers? No, we are not going to tolerate it, Ambassador. You're the wrong choice for the USA, go back to your country, and let them send another Ambassador who knows us. Whilst we want to improve American-Turkish relations at the highest level, you're trying to say Turkish people are the enemy of the United States. Learn to be silent and not try to ruin our relationship", read the statement of Gökçek to Bass, posted on the website of the mayor of Ankara on Twitter.
Humanitarian exploitation: neocons and neo-liberal interventionists tried to use the Syrian Army siege of Madaya as a rallying cry for more forceful intervention against Assad, but the PR campaign backfired when Hezbollah and Damascus exposed the fact that the rebels in the town were blocking and stealing UN humanitarian aid from the hungry residents, not the SAA. Another Soros/State Dept. propaganda machine #fail
The third most important fact out of the Mideast this week is the increasingly evident defeat of Saudi-Qatari-Turkish proxies on the battlefields of northern and southern Syria. Damascus continues its Russian aided push to regain control of both borders with Jordan and Turkey, as well as the supply lines to its jihadist enemies. While neocon hacks like Eli Lake of Bloomberg and the UK Guardian were insisting as recently as Christmas that Damascus had not achieved any significant territorial gains against the jihadist rebels, the Salafists' lines have collapsed in the last few days in Dara'a region, near the border with Jordan (which came to an agreement with Putin on abandoning support for the takfiris back in August, and is now public about operating a joint war room with the Russians against Daesh and Al-Qaeda in Syria).
More critically for the GCC-Turkey coalition, in the northern part of Latakia and now Idlib province the retreat of their jihadi proxies is accelerating. As retired Army Green Berets Col. and Defense Intelligence Agency analyst Patrick Lang wrote earlier in the week, the D.C. and London-directed U.S./UK mainstream media are still reluctant to admit the combined Russian/Syrian advances on the ground:
IMO this is part of the shaping of the battlefield for the coming decisive battle of annihilation in Idlib and western Aleppo provinces. As "b" has pointed out the jihadi forces at Salma withdrew without much of a fight at the end. Western Borgist media are doing a great job in their task of ignoring R+6 progress. -- Pat Lang Turcopolier blog
Instead of putting up a fierce fight for the stronghold of Salma that had been controlled by the rebels since 2012, the 'Free Syrian Army' and Turkish-backed 'Army of Conquest' were routed from the key road juncture in northern Latakia close to Turkey without significant SAA casualties. Without vital lifelines and key highways through the Euphrates valley to Idlib and Aleppo, both the so-called 'moderate' Al-Qaeda aligned jihadis backed by the Sunni powers and the Islamic State with its stronghold in Raqqa will face military and economic strangulation by siege.
Adding to Turkish rage and Ankara's sense of betrayal at Washington's hands is the fact that the U.S. military actually provided air support for the Kurdish units who seized the Tishrin Dam on the Euphrates, cutting off one of the few roads left to Daesh in Raqqa. The much hyped super terrorist group, which Obama and his so-called 60 nation coalition had until recently barely touched militarily, is facing encirclement by spring and total destruction by next winter. In the near term, the Daeshbags are also facing the humiliating loss of ancient Palmyra, which has been a centerpiece of their propaganda videos, to a quick Russian-advised Syrian assault. Russian military advisers and the SAA are already operating within sight of what's left of the ancient ruins, which the Daeshbags blew up as part of their propaganda.
In a pincer move that demonstrates at least some agreement between Russia and the U.S. 'Deep State', Kurds continue to press their attacks from the east on ISIS' northern front, while Russian air strikes and powerful artillery and rocket barrages are allowing the Syrian Arab Army to accelerate its advance against the Daeshbags northeast of the Kuweires military airport. The SAA as well some Hezbollah fighters are only a few kilometers from the ISIS-held town of Al-Bab, less than thirty kilometers south of the Turkish border. Should Al-Bab fall by February, the only way Turkey will be able to save its pet jihadis is to overtly intervene on their behalf against the SAA and Kurdish YPG.
However, the Kurds know that this time around, unlike in the summer of 2015 when the Russians weren't dominating the skies, Turkish jets violating Syrian air space to strike Kurds or the SAA will get shot down (though the Russians will for political reasons claim that any Turkish F-16s shot down were splashed by Syrian MiG-29s, rather than their own jets or SAMs -- see the Southfront video below). The Turkish Air Force, it should be noted, has cautiously refused to test Russia's resolve since the deployment of Moscow's king kong S400 air defense system, knowing that their pilots might not even be able to bail out if their jets get struck by hypersonic S400 SAMs hitting their F-16s like meteors at Mach 8.
No more Turkish sucker punches -- joint air operations of Syrian MiG-29s covering Russian Air Force Su-25 strikes along the Turkish border
Washington already agreed in December to pressure Turkey to pull most of its troops out of the base it has established in violation of Iraqi sovereignty near Mosul at the Assyrian town of Bashiqa. Not only is the remaining Turkish garrison at that location small and vulnerable to attack from both (Russians supplied) Iraqi Tochka ballistic missiles, but also low level Su-25 strafing/bombing runs by the Iraqi air force. Iraqi Shi'a militias that possess Russian made and Hezbollah provided Kornet anti-tank missiles could also infiltrate the area, to ambush Turkish convoys that thought the Kurds would protect them -- only to find out that even Barzani's ISIS oil smuggling Kurds won't stay bought. Not when their 'brothers' across the Turkish border are being massacred by the same Turkish army they're supposed to protect from Baghdad's 'rogue' Shi'a militia men!
In Syria, the situation is even worse for the Turks, because any Turkish Army invaders would not have the human shields of bought off Barzani Kurds around them as protection. Any significant Turkish armored push into northern Syria to secure Erdoğan's 'safe zone for Syrian refugees' would likely be massacred by SAA 'Hurricane' cluster MLRS munitions and long range Russian fired artillery tubes -- even without Russian Air Force strikes on their spearheads. In the absence of air cover provided by U.S. jets, the Turks would be sitting ducks and they know it. Hence the lack of any Turkish Army intervention to back up the failed neo-Ottoman Sultan's 'buffer zone' bluster.
A Turkish-Israeli made Sabra tank (a modernized version of the old U.S. M-60) burns after being ambushed in the Kurdish town of Cizre, Jan. 2016. After years of gloating about 'Free Syrian Army' jihadis hitting Syrian armor with CIA provided TOW missiles, Turks are waking up to the fact that proxy wars can go both ways and the PKK is getting increasingly sophisticated RPGs from Iran to use against Turkish soldiers and armor
Even without an invasion of Syria or losses in northern Iraq, the Turks are facing increasingly brazen Kurdish militant PKK attacks on security personnel and troops inside their borders, including the filmed destruction last week of an Israeli-made Sabra tank in the Kurdish town of Cizre (see the video above). According to Kurdish sources, at least 50 Turkish policemen or soldiers have been killed in attacks on police stations, checkpoints and vehicles in the past two weeks, as the PKK has launched a mini Tet offensive in retaliation for Ankara's mass arrests and killings of Kurds.
The actual body count among the Turks according to my Washington D.C. source with contacts in Lebanon is likely higher, and that is fueling discontent in the Turkish Army. Given Turkey's history of military coups and the now cancelled provision in the Turkish constitution that permitted the army to step in as guardian of a Kemalist secular state, the neo-Ottoman Sultan Erdoğan has to be getting increasingly paranoid that his old enemies in the 'Ergenekon' Deep State as well as Turkish industrialists facing huge losses from Russia's sanctions could be plotting his downfall.
The fourth important even of the week in the Mideast was the arrival of Egyptian soldiers at the port of Aden in Yemen. While General Sisi's government is supportive of the Saudi led coalition and in maintaining safe shipping through the vital gateway to the Suez at Bab al-Mandeb, it will be interesting to observe how strict the rules of engagement for the Egyptian troops will remain. Sisi is obligated to come to the Saudis aid thanks to the billions that the Kingdom has poured into propping up Egypt and his strongman government since the overthrow of the elected Qatari/Turkish Muslim Brotherhood fanatic Mohammed Morsi. However, the Egyptians under the secular pan-Arabist leader Gamal Abdel Nasser fought an unsuccessful counterinsurgency campaign in the country back in the 1960s, with the CIA and British intelligence covertly backing the southern Yemeni insurgents against Nasser's perceived pro-Soviet and anti-Israel coalition with Syria.
We are positive Sisi has not forgotten Nasser's mistakes and will try to avoid repeating them, even with the expanding threat of the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemeni territory not controlled by the Shi'a Houthis. That may mean that Egyptian soldiers try to abstain from combat, and perform more of a gendarme role in securing the immediate area around the strategic Aden, but do little else to help the Saudis.
It begins? An explosion in Al-Jubail, eastern Saudi Arabia, where Riyadh has angered the Shi'a minority by the execution of a prominent cleric
The bottom line: Turkey and Saudi Arabia are clinging together like two desperate men, but both Ankara and Riyadh are facing ruin. Turkey will likely survive the Kurdish uprising and Washington's evident alignment with the Kurds, at least until President Obama leaves office on January 20, 2017. In the meantime, the Turkey will be cooked, just as the Guerrilla Economist predicted on the day after Thanksgiving 2015. On the other hand, as multiple members of Team Rogue Money have written, the writing is on the wall for the Saudi Kingdom and the failing U.S.-Saudi alliance. God has weighed it on the scales and found it wanting, and given their extended Mideast Kingdom over to the resurgent Medes and Persians.