'There will be chaos once again'
October 8, 2019 9:17 AM   Subscribe

After talking on the phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday, Trump announced that US troops will stand aside for a Turkish offensive in northern Syria (NPR), much like last year (WaPo). This resulted in condemnation from Senate Republicans, among others (The Guardian) as the Kurds prepare to face Turkish troops (Al Jazeera) and "ethnic cleansing." (WaPo)

  • Trump sends strong, conflicting signals on Syria, Turkey (AP)
    One official described a botched effort by the White House on Sunday night, putting out a statement that appeared aimed at making Trump look bold for ending a war. The official said attempts by the Pentagon and State Department to make the statement stronger in its opposition to Turkey’s military action were unsuccessful. But in what the official described as a “exercise in damage control” Monday morning, the Pentagon made it clear to the Turkish military that “there will be a major break in relations if you do this.”
  • Exclusive: Official who heard Trump call says Trump got 'rolled' by Turkey and has 'no spine' (Newsweek)
    [a National Security Council source said:] "The U.S. national security has entered a state of increased danger for decades to come because the president has no spine and that's the bottom line." "To be honest with you, it would be better for the United States to support a Kurdish nation across Turkey, Syria and Iraq. It would be another Israel in the region." "When the bigger guy [United States] moves aside in the playground, they [Turkey] get to beat on the smaller guy [Syrian Defense Forces] and this is not about the U.S. being the world police. We are telling the world, we will use you and then throw you away. It's not like they don't have a television in Asia, in Africa, and South America."
Washington/Policy: Kurdish: Turkey:
  • Turkey rejects Trump’s threats amid conflicting U.S. signals over Syria offensive (WaPo)
    "Erdogan and other Turkish officials have suggested for days that the military operation could begin at any moment. Turkish troop convoys have headed to the border, and local media outlets have published details of what they say is the battle plan."
  • Twitter apologizes after 'Die Trump' trends in Turkey (The Hill)
    'The phrase began trending after Trump's series of tweets. Doğu Perinçek, chairman of Turkey's nationalist Patriotic Party, responded with a tweet of his own. "Mr. Trump you can destroy only USA," Perinçek tweeted. His tweet ended with the hashtag “Mahvolursun Trump."'
Following the Decommissioning of the Megathreads, collaboration on focused topical uspolitics/potus45-related FPPs continues, and draft posts can be found on the MeFi Wiki. • Thanks to TK , Katra, Doctor Zed, Zachlipton, and Box for helping to create this post.
posted by ZeusHumms (313 comments total) 65 users marked this as a favorite

Well, given that the YPG are secular, socialist/feminist democrats, that would probably make Erdoğan a good Freedom Fascist like Pinochet, rather than an Unacceptable Fascist like Hitler.
posted by acb at 9:37 AM on October 8 [15 favorites]

Trump’s Green Light to Turkey Raises Fears About ISIS Detainees

It seems likely that Trump's actions will cause the release of 1000s of ISIS fighters currently in Kurd-controlled prisons. Canada's failure to repatriate former ISIS fighters and families leading to 'inevitable' crisis. It's a Canadian-centric article, but points to a wider problem that the Kurds may close prisons to free up forces currently acting as guards simply to defend themselves. It's not that prisons are in danger of being over-run, but that the forces keeping the prisoners confined may be withdrawn and the facilities closed.
posted by bonehead at 9:40 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]

Basically he’s against the USA
posted by growabrain at 9:46 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]

Well, given that the YPG are secular, socialist/feminist democrats, that would probably make Erdoğan a good Freedom Fascist like Pinochet, rather than an Unacceptable Fascist like Hitler.

They really are like the POUM.
posted by ocschwar at 9:51 AM on October 8 [7 favorites]

So as far as I can get a read on it, it's like this:

Turkey: We are going to straight up murder these Kurds, OK?

Trump: Yeah, nbd.

Kurds: Wait we're going to have to let these ISIS guys go if we have to fight Turkey.

Trump: Rick Perry made me call Ukraine.

Turkey: Let's get this genocide going!

this is so fucked I can't even...
posted by allkindsoftime at 10:25 AM on October 8 [26 favorites]

As seen on Facebook today:


From Heather Cox Richardson:

Impeachment news today was overshadowed by Trump's surprise announcement that he is pulling U.S. troops out of Syria, leaving our Kurdish allies there to the mercy of advancing troops from Turkey. But my guess is that this and impeachment are actually the same story. This is really complicated, and some of it is outside my wheelhouse, so bear with me as I try to untangle it.

Pundits are spinning Trump's surprise withdrawal of troops as an attempt to fulfill a 2016 campaign promise to end foreign wars, and he certainly mentioned that promise in his declaration about the removal. But I'm shocked that no major American news outlets appear to be talking about oil. Kurdistan is a region of people who share cultural, historical, and linguistic ties. It overlies the intersection of four countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey. The Kurds have their own leaders and have different political relationships with each of the governments of the nations in which they live, but they have tended to work with the US, especially in our war against ISIS, for which they have done much of the fighting. The base of Kurdish wealth is oil. Their land has a lot of it.

The Russian oil and gas giant, Rosneft, has been trying to gain access to develop Kurdish oil for years. Rosneft is one of the largest companies in the world, worth around $70 billion. It is the tool of Putin and Russian oligarchs, and after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, President Obama put sanctions on Rosneft to freeze its assets in the United States. These are the sanctions Putin wants lifted. Russia bought the Kurdish oil pipelines that run through Turkey almost two years ago, and if it can control the Kurdish oil fields, it will become the dominant foreign power in the Middle East, replacing the United States.

So what does this have to do with impeachment? Ukraine is another developing region with petroleum resources. We recently learned that while Rudy Giuliani and Trump's other people were attacking Hunter Biden's dealings in Ukraine, they were themselves trying to take control of Ukraine's huge natural gas company. They were working with the corrupt president, but the election of Volodymyr Zelensky, a reformer, brought them up short. They successfully torpedoed America's Ukraine Ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, who stood against them, and pushed for the investigation of Hunter Biden as well as the conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that attacked the 2016 elections. Key to this scheme were two Soviet-born Florida real estate men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who had poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Republican campaigns.

I know, you need a scorecard. But here's the full circle: The House impeachment investigating committees asked Parnas and Furman to produce documents and to testify about the Ukraine scandal. Today their lawyer wrote an astounding letter denying Congress had the authority to make such demands and that it was simply trying to "harass, intimidate and embarrass" his clients. He wrote the letter in comic sans font, which seems to suggest he is laughing at the idea he and his clients have to answer to Congress.

And now full circle back to Trump....
It sure looks like Russia wanted Trump to be president so he could loosen US support for Ukraine and lift the US sanctions on Rosneft (this is actually pretty well established, so I won't argue it here). The Steele Dossier of information about Trump, compiled by a former British intelligence agent, suggested that Putin had offered Trump and his associate Carter Page brokerage fees on the sale of up to 19% of Rosneft stock. That has never been proven, but Rosneft's interests were almost certainly in the air in 2016. Once president, Trump did hold back US military aid to Ukraine, but while he has been able to delay some of the sanctions, and to lift a few selectively, he hasn't been terribly successful at removing them altogether.

So why is there suddenly this Syrian announcement, an announcement that goes against not only established US policy but against most Republican Senators, whom Trump needs very badly right now to protect him from conviction if he is impeached? A few days ago, Rosneft announced that it was switching its operations to euros rather than dollars, because it wanted to lessen its exposure to future US sanctions. That suggests to me Russian leaders have lost faith that Trump can end sanctions, and that they are going to figure on doing business without him.

I think they see the writing on the wall that Trump's presidency is crumbling. I think Trump does, too, so he's trying to help out his friends in the Russian oil industry as much as he can, while he still can, come hell or high water. In addition to pulling troops out of Syria, we learned this afternoon that Trump is considering pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty, which would likely bring the whole treaty crashing down. It enables countries to conduct unarmed reconnaissance flights over each others' territories. Without it, Ukraine will not be able to monitor the Russian troops on its border. America will have ceded its influence in the Middle East and Asia to Putin.

Ever since July 23, 2016, when I read the first story about Russian interference in the American election, it has seemed to me that it has always been about Russia. No matter how the story twists and turns, always Russia seems somewhere around. This Syria story floored me because... why are we abandoning our allies?!? and why now, when it looks like an end is in sight?!?... and then I read that after Trump began the troop drawdown, the Russian foreign minister met with the Kurdish Prime Minister first thing this morning.
posted by dbiedny at 10:29 AM on October 8 [139 favorites]

Sending mixed signals like this never leads to further problems. Never, ever.

Meanwhile, Iraq is having problems as protests over the removal of a popular general who lead the fight against ISIS continue; his removal is likely due to pressure from pro-Iranian groups, while Saudi Arabia is moving to bolster the protests (at least, that's the analysis from the article)...so Iraq is unsettled, at the same time that the Kurds might have to release ISIS prisoners.
posted by nubs at 11:21 AM on October 8

It's worth emphasizing that the Kurds being thrown off a cliff here include perhaps the most democratic, cooperative and feminist government in the region. An article in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz this past June went into detail describing the egalitarian emphasis of Rojava society:

In the Heart of Syria's Darkness, a Democratic, Egalitarian and Feminist Society Emerges

Four million people, thousands of communes, a non-hierarchical social structure and a cooperative economy. Why is no one talking about Rojava?

I could quote it at length, but just know: this is a must-read about the people Trump is allowing Turkey to destroy.
posted by mediareport at 11:37 AM on October 8 [48 favorites]

Reminder: We pressured the Kurds to dismantle their defenses along the Turkish-Syrian border on the explicit assurance the United States wouldn't let something like this happen.

Our word is forever fucking useless thanks to this fucktitude. God forbid we get involved in any other major quagmire in any region because no side with any sense will ever trust the United States ever again.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 11:47 AM on October 8 [58 favorites]

I have visited Assad's Syria and I didn't like it at all. My friends claim I have a genetic dispostion against totalitarianism, but there was a degree of feminism in the official policy even back them. I'm not at all defending the Assad regime, but more worried that a future combination of Turkish, Russian and Iranian influence will be bad for human rights.
posted by mumimor at 11:51 AM on October 8 [4 favorites]

Pigging baking on what your childhood pet rock just said, this is from the SDF’s Coordination and Military Ops Center Twitter:
Based on our confidence in the #US efforts in the Security Mechanism agreement, we implemented all our commitments to remove military fortifications between Tal Abyad & SereKaniye, withdraw combat forces with heavy weapons, risking a security vacum as a result of the agreement.
But Erdogan's threats are aimed to change the security mechanism into a mechanism of death, displace our people & change the stable & secure region into a zone of conflict and permanent war.
Any #Turkish attack will result in:
1. Reverse the successful effort to defeat #ISIS, where #SDF sacrificed 11K martyrs of our sons & daughters over 5 years of war, which led to destroy the caliphate & created stability & security for the people of NE #Syria.
2. A long-term war in the region making #Syria a permanent conflict area. While the international community look for Syria political solution, the Syrian people suffer years of war and migration.
@UN @DOTArabic @mutludc
( 5)
3. The return of leaders of #ISIS who are hidden in the desert & Euphrates Shield areas to in of NE #Syria. #ISIS cells will break their terrorist out of prisons (12K terrorists) & camps ( 70K #Daesh families) which is a threat to local & international security.
4. Force the #Syrian people to subject to the extremist #terrorist organizations as #Nosra & #Daesh, that still retain more than 50K extremist terrorists, & also they are able to extend their reach all Syria.
@rabrowne75 @gaylelemmon @LindseyGrahamSC @CENTCOM @brett_mcgurk
posted by gucci mane at 11:56 AM on October 8 [10 favorites]

Never Again*
*for certain values of 'Never'
posted by j_curiouser at 12:11 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]

For others, “ever again,” instead.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:13 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]

So what are the chances the US forces on the ground don't cooperate or just take their sweet time in cooperating?
posted by asteria at 12:16 PM on October 8

From 2015
Why Turkey is bombing the Kurds more than Islamic State.
posted by adamvasco at 12:22 PM on October 8 [7 favorites]

So what are the chances the US forces on the ground don't cooperate or just take their sweet time in cooperating?

The former, zero. The latter, high, but in a business as usual sort of way.

NYT, today: Top Secret Russian Unit Seeks to Destabilize Europe, Security Officials Say
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:22 PM on October 8 [9 favorites]

To my knowledge, the only justification for this that Trump has managed to put forward is his conviction that anyone who we help is a freeloader who is taking advantage of us.
posted by thelonius at 12:26 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]

Trump announced a sudden withdrawal before (way back in December 2018), but that ended up being more of a draw-down as that demilitarized buffer between Turkey and northeastern SDF/YPG/YPJ-controlled Syria got negotiated. Clearly that collapses the minute the US pulls out, but it's possible this withdrawal gets slow-walked again.

Trump threatened Turkey to not go too far (in literally the most insane tweet ever), but I don't think that's likely to dissuade them.
posted by netowl at 12:35 PM on October 8 [3 favorites]

Well, we already knew the US's word wasn't worth anything, but before now Trump turning America into the same faithless, honorless, sort of scumbag that he personally is didn't create a genocide.

It says something about how far we've fallen that I'm asking this, but I don't suppose any NATO powers are willing to take up America's security assurances for the Kurds long enough for them to rearm their borders and reassemble the border defenses they took down after trusting America would keep its word? France maybe? Even the PRC just to make America look bad?

Because if **SOMEONE** doesn't step up and do what Trump is refusing to we're going to be saying "never again" over the graves of millions of Kurds pretty soon.
posted by sotonohito at 12:39 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]

It's difficult for the NATO powers to have a meeting without the US. Some EU powers can have a meeting and they probably will, the same alliance who are working for the Iran deal (except the UK who have gone rogue). But this exact time in history is one where supporting the Kurds is politically difficult. Let's see tomorrow.
posted by mumimor at 12:51 PM on October 8 [3 favorites]

General Votel just retired as commander of CENTCOM in March, and wrote this along with Elizabeth Dent: The Danger of Abandoning Our Partners: The Syria policy reversal threatens to undo five years’ worth of fighting against ISIS and will severely damage American credibility and reliability.
A possible invasion from Turkey against the Kurdish elements of the SDF, coupled with a hasty U.S. departure, now threaten to rapidly destabilize an already fragile security situation in Syria’s northeast, where ISIS’s physical caliphate was only recently defeated. Nearly 2,000 foreign fighters, about 9,000 Iraqi and Syrian fighters, and tens of thousands of ISIS family members are being held in detention facilities and displaced-persons camps in areas under SDF control. What happens if we leave? The SDF has already stated that it will have to fortify defense mechanisms along the Syrian-Turkish border, leaving ISIS detention facilities and encampments with little to no security. This is particularly troubling given the self-proclaimed caliph of ISIS Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s recent sermon called on supporters to break fighters out of these facilities, and amid violent attacks in the al-Hol refugee camp, where tens of thousands of women and children are housed and where ISIS sympathy runs rampant.

The Pentagon and White House later clarified that the U.S. was not abandoning the Kurds and did not support a Turkish incursion into Syria. But the damage may already be done, because it appears the Turks have taken the shift to signal a green light for an attack in the northeast. This policy abandonment threatens to undo five years’ worth of fighting against ISIS and will severely damage American credibility and reliability in any future fights where we need strong allies.
posted by zachlipton at 1:19 PM on October 8 [9 favorites]

Fun* exercise: on a map from 2040, where do you think “Putingrad” will be?

* not fun.
posted by acb at 1:22 PM on October 8 [6 favorites]

Fun* exercise: on a map from 2040, where do you think “Putingrad” will be?

In order of most to least likely:
Renamed Sevastopol
New Russian city down the road from the bombed out ruins of Kyiv.
New Russian city built on top of the ruins of Visby
Renamed Berlin
Renamed Washington DC, sold by Trump to the Russians for a bag of magic beans
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 1:59 PM on October 8 [15 favorites]

Rojava Information Center: Turkey has shelled SDF positions near Sere Kaniye, in what could be the first attack of its long-threatened invasion.

@RojavaIC has documented over 30 such unprovoked cross-border attacks from Turkey targeting North East Syria in the last year.
The shelling was some distance from the city, where the situation remains calm.

@RojavaIC spoke to women's activist Hemrin Selah in one of the protest camps on the border.

"The situation is peaceful here. but everyone is ready for what will come..."
Rojava Information Center: Fact sheet: Factions in the Turkish-backed “Free Syrian Army”
Key findings include:

• Islamist factions backed by Turkey in their assault on Rojava previously guilty of torture and shelling of civilian areas amounting to “war crimes”, per UN and Amnesty reports
• Fresh assault on Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS) follows killing of hundreds and displacing of hundreds of thousands of civilians during Turkish-backed militias in Afrin
• Civilians in Rojava face bombing from Turkish aircraft and assault from militias linked to Al-Nusra Front (Al-Qaeda in Syria) and accused of rape, torture, execution
• Jaysh-al-Islam (Army of Islam) fighters transported from Ghouta will participate in invasion: notorious militia paraded caged captives, tortured and executed civilians
Al Jazeera: Uncertainty over jailed ISIL suspects' fate before looming push

US says Turkey to be responsible for captives held by SDF but analysts say it is unclear if Ankara has such capacity.
The SDF has long called for the international community to take the prisoners, who include 2,000 foreign fighters, off its hands, saying it does not have the capacity to prosecute the captives or hold them in prison long term.

SDF officials say there are 10 such detention facilities spread across the vast region the groups controls east of the Euphrates River. Described by some as "pop-up prisons", the facilities are housed in former schools and old government buildings, including in Raqqa, Deir Az Zor and Hasakah provinces. Up to 70,000 women and children, relatives of ISIL fighters, are also being held at the sprawling al-Hol camp, according to the United Nations.

Mutlu Civiroglu, an analyst based in Washington, DC, said there was "no doubt" ISIL would take advantage of the situation created by a Turkish operation.

While the US says the ISIL captives are now Turkey's responsibility, Civiroglu said Ankara may not be equipped to deal with the armed group's prisoners in SDF prisons or a resurgence in attacks.

"It's a huge burden for Turkey," he said. "More or less the ISIS detainees are under control [right now], but it's going to be very hard [for Turkey] to control these people. Turkey does not have the advantage of the Kurds and the local groups … because it's unfamiliar territory for them."

Brett McGurk, a former US presidential envoy to the anti-ISIL coalition, echoed the same sentiment in a Twitter post. "Turkey has neither the intent, desire nor capacity to manage the 60k [60,000] detainees in al-Hol camp," he said.
Popular Front: Guarding against ISIS sleeper cells in Raqqa

Popular Front: Syria Q&A

Popular Front podcast: On the front line of the YPG’s ongoing battle

Popular Front podcast: Inside the camp for ISIS “brides”

Coordination and Military Ops Center - SDF THREAD: Who are the TSO? Each time Turkey invades Syria, they disguise their invasion as a peacekeeping mission & use Turkish Supported Opposition or TSO. These are mercenary insurgents used by Erdogan. They change their names many times but many are al-Qaeda & some are ISIS fighters.
The TSO disguise themselves as opposition to the Assad regime. In reality, they are terror groups that are paid, supported, & controlled by Turkey. Groups like al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham commit many atrocities and human rights violations against the people of Syria.

The TSO group al-Nusra Front handed Tal Abyad over to #ISIS in 2014. The city was the most important crossing point for foreign Daesh terrorist coming from #Turkey. TSO have also been used by Erdogan in Jarabulus, al-Bab, and Afrin to take more land.
I’ll keep trying to update the thread as news and information rolls in. Lots going on right now. I’m also attempting to figure out how to get over there to volunteer. If I am able to I will make a post about that, and when I arrive there attempt to update on-the-ground (if I survive!) I sent my application in and am waiting for a response, but they are very busy.
posted by gucci mane at 2:03 PM on October 8 [26 favorites]

Has Turkey thought about the implications of de facto annexing Kurdish parts of Syria? If I was more cynical I’d wager cash that the Turks are just baiting the Kurds to form a breakaway autonomous republic to give said Turks the pretext to perpetuate a second genocide they won’t acknowledge.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:09 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]

it wanted to lessen its exposure to future US sanctions. That suggests to me Russian leaders have lost faith that Trump can end sanctions, and that they are going to figure on doing business without him.
I think they see the writing on the wall that Trump's presidency is crumbling.

There is a different solution that doesn't have to worry about who's in charge of US policy.

Stop the US Dollar from being used as the settlement method for international trade. Trump doesn't strike me as someone who sees that as important and won't defend the Dollar status. And really, he is gonna be a bit distracted even if he wanted to it would seem.

The hard power of having the most military spending is not going to last. $22.7 Trillion in debt and rising will mean cuts to the military at some point. Now if your weapon systems are considered by buyers to be problematic like the new F-35 or an air defence system that can't stop some drones from hitting your oil refinery that is not going to help the projection of power.

The soft power of the US comes from being believable. Oh and needing US Dollars to settle international trade.

The poster known as Gail the Actuarty over at the frozen in Amber site Theoildrum.com talked about this idea along with others. Historical examples of being the reference currency for global trade are Spanish with the pieces of 8 and the Brittish Pound and are examples of what happens when you are not the global reference for trade. Being the oil drum there was a whole lot of money is the proxy for energy and the US of A is not in the business of exporting energy to the rest of the world like it was when Bretton Woods was established.


Something to consider: Turkey is still in NATO. Now what happens when Kurds shoot back at Turkey? Does the US follow the NATO treaty obligations?
posted by rough ashlar at 2:11 PM on October 8 [7 favorites]

I think it'd be useful here to share some info about how Rojava's society is organized and why they are so interesting, unique, and vitally important.

From Debbie Bookchin's article How My Father’s Ideas Helped the Kurds Create a New Democracy:

As the Syrian civil war enters its eighth year, most Westerners are familiar with images of the Kalashnikov-toting men and women of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, known respectively as the YPG, which is mostly male, and the YPJ, the all-female units. These militias have fought and died by the thousands across the battlefields of Syria as the leading units of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the multi-ethnic force supported by the United States in the campaign against ISIS. Less often acknowledged is what they are fighting for: the chance to achieve not only political self-determination but also a new form of direct democracy in which every member of the community has an equal say in the popular assemblies that address the issues of their neighborhoods and towns—that is, democracy without a central state.


In 2014, the three cantons established their autonomy as the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, which became commonly known as Rojava, the Kurdish word for “West” (Syria being the most western portion of greater Kurdistan). Though still known informally as Rojava, the Kurds officially dropped the name in 2016, in recognition of the multi-ethnic nature of the region and of their commitment to freedom for all, not just the Kurdish people. The Democratic Federation (or DFNS) is founded on a document called the “Charter of the Social Contract,” whose Preamble declares the aspiration to build “a society free from authoritarianism, militarism, centralism and the intervention of religious authority in public affairs.” It also “recognizes Syria’s territorial integrity and aspires to maintain domestic and international peace”—a formal renunciation by Syrian Kurds of the idea of a separate state for their people. Instead, they envisage a federated system of self-determining municipalities.

In the ninety-six articles that follow, the Contract guarantees all ethnic communities the right to teach and be taught in their own languages, abolishes the death penalty and ratifies the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and similar conventions. It requires public institutions to work toward the complete elimination of gender discrimination, and requires by law that women make up at least 40 percent of every electoral body and that they, and ethnic minorities, serve as co-chairs at all levels of government administration. The Social Contract also promotes a philosophy of ecological stewardship that guides all decisions about town-planning, economics, and agriculture, and runs all industries, where possible, according to collective principles. The document even guarantees political rights to teenagers.

posted by One Second Before Awakening at 2:15 PM on October 8 [33 favorites]

posted by pompomtom at 2:15 PM on October 8

[One deleted; I know different people have different approaches to dealing with fears, but let's not go to town with joking about terrible things that might happen.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:17 PM on October 8 [3 favorites]

rough ashlar asked
Turkey is still in NATO. Now what happens when Kurds shoot back at Turkey? Does the US follow the NATO treaty obligations?
I think we might be able to finesse that, since Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty says
The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all
which Article 6 clarifies
For the purpose of Article 5, an armed attack on one or more of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack: [...] on the territory of Turkey
So by my reading, as long as the Kurds fight the incursion in Syria, NATO could demur. If they shell or push back into Turkish territory, then NATO would have to debate whether defending against an attack by a NATO member is the same as attacking one – unless that's already been debated?
posted by nicwolff at 2:45 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]

Our word is forever fucking useless thanks to this fucktitude

Arguably it wasn't worth much in the first place... From January 2019, Gordon Campbell on our history of selling out the Kurds.
posted by dmh at 3:06 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]

@ChiefPentSpox: The DOD does not endorse a Turkish operation in Northern Syria. We will work w/our @NATO allies & Coalition partners to reiterate to Turkey the possible destabilizing consequences of potential actions to Turkey, the region, & beyond. Full statement here:

Statement Attributable to Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Mr. Jonathan Hoffman
The Department of Defense made clear to Turkey - as did the President - that we do not endorse a Turkish operation in Northern Syria. The U.S. Armed Forces will not support, or be involved in any such operation.

In conversations between the Department and the Turkish military we have consistently stressed that coordination and cooperation were the best path toward security in the area. Secretary Esper and Chairman Milley reiterated to their respective Turkish counterparts that unilateral action creates risks for Turkey. As the President has stated, Turkey would be responsible, along with European nations and others, for thousands of ISIS fighters who had been captured and defeated in the campaign lead by the United States.

We will work with our other NATO allies and Coalition partners to reiterate to Turkey the possible destabilizing consequences of potential actions to Turkey, the region, and beyond.
Nobody has any idea what the fuck is going on behind the scenes. Trump goes and has a phone call with Erdogan, decides to pull this shit, and the Pentagon and others have to figure out the mess they’re left with. In the mean time nobody trusts these statements because Trump and the US government in general have historically lied and betrayed everybody.
posted by gucci mane at 3:18 PM on October 8 [8 favorites]

appreciating kurdish / rojava background info and links. also see books by Abdullah Öcalan. mostly links to vendors, but in a few places free pamphlets. i have recently enjoyed the democratic confederalism pamphlet.
posted by 20 year lurk at 3:48 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]

I don't wanna live in interesting times.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:08 PM on October 8 [30 favorites]

@laraseligman: Just in: US and Kurdish officials say they expect Turkey to launch an attack on northeast Syria within the next 24 hours. This comes after the administration spent the last 48 hours backpedaling Trump's initial statement Sunday night. Story update TK
posted by zachlipton at 4:15 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]

I know it’s not this simple, but having paid attention to events in this part of the world for the last X years, my list of “countries in the Middle East that have their shit together” goes

Kurdistan (hypothetical)
Ummm not totally sure who’s next

I think a lot of other Americans have this impression, so it’s extra sad to see them getting the short end of the stick time and time again.
posted by freecellwizard at 4:18 PM on October 8 [8 favorites]

YPG members and associates also are warning about basically fake news from Turkish intelligence releasing false videos claiming to be from the YPG/SDF. There had been a lot of fake news in the past 8 months or so showing Kurdish attacks on Arabs, as a way to stir up ethnic violence. They were all debunked.
posted by gucci mane at 4:26 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]

I’ll try to cutdown frequency of updates here but I’m using Twitter @tdk2019 if you want more frequent updates. I am entirely using it as a compilation of information for myself and for anybody else that wants information. The people I follow on it and retweet are trusted sources, and I provide no commentary myself.
posted by gucci mane at 4:50 PM on October 8 [9 favorites]

I think a lot of other Americans have this impression, so it’s extra sad to see them getting the short end of the stick time and time again.It's

The West have been fucking the Kurds since the Treaty of Lausanne and we haven't stopped since. And what did we throw the Kurds under the bus for back then? To stop Ataturk from bitching about losing all the oil past the Taurus mountains. Talk about lame ass excuses.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:52 PM on October 8 [3 favorites]

The great folks of the Coffee with Comrades podcast just dropped a FANTASTIC backgrounder on Rojava, the style of communism practiced there, and why the revolution is inherently feminist. I learned a ton.

As a partial counterpoint, a recent Revolutionary Left Radio episode gives a bit of a needed corrective with respect to the Assyrian presence in the region. The episode has been heartily critiqued on a few fronts, but it's important to know about the history of "Kurdification" of the region even if the Rojava communist leadership has eschewed it.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 4:52 PM on October 8 [10 favorites]

Just popping in to point out that the Kurds don't have to be some idealistic society of democrats and feminists for this development to be wrong and morally bankrupt. It would still have been wrong if, in some hypothetical world, Saudi Arabian citizens had been left at risk of devastation and genocide. The tendency to think of good guys (people like us, however we define 'us') and bad guys (people not like us) lies at the root of many of humanity's problems, and particularly those in which the US has had a hand.

Edited to clarify, if it's needed, I think this is fucking appalling, and yes, heartbreaking
posted by tavegyl at 4:55 PM on October 8 [42 favorites]

I’ll try to cutdown frequency of updates here but I’m using Twitter @tdk2019 if you want more frequent updates.

I don't have a Twitter account and I prefer to avoid Twitter anyway. Personally I really appreciate your updates and hope you'll keep posting here.
posted by biogeo at 6:04 PM on October 8 [18 favorites]

Thank you for the updates, gucci mane. I hope you'll continue them here as well.
posted by bcd at 6:17 PM on October 8 [9 favorites]

All of this is extremely terrifying, and from a standpoint of interest of mine personally, I’m waiting to see if we get any information about Wagner Group operations in the area. They’re a Russian private military company funded by our pal Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose companies you may recognize!!! In February of 2018 they were involved in a firefight with the SDF over control of an oil field, until US airstrikes obliterated them.
posted by gucci mane at 6:35 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]

Turkey vows to press ahead with attack on Kurdish-led forces in Syria (Guardian)
The SDF said late on Tuesday night that Turkish forces were already attacking near the border. “The Turkish military is shelling one of our points on SereKaniye Border with Turkey,” it said in a tweet, referencing the key border town of Ras al-Ayn.

It was one of the places from which US troops withdrew on Monday, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“There were no injuries to our forces. We didn’t respond to this unprovoked attack,” the SDF said.

Turkey’s military also struck the Syrian-Iraqi border on Tuesday to prevent Kurdish forces using the route to reinforce north-east Syria.
posted by katra at 7:05 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]

FP, Oct. 6: The Rise and Fall of a Russian Mercenary Army

"After a deadly debacle in Syria, Vladimir Putin has put the Wagner Group in its place—but plenty of other private security firms remain, and they could pose a threat to security in Russia and beyond."
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:10 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]

Renamed Washington DC, sold by Trump to the Russians for a bag of magic beans

close but more precisely

Renamed Washington DC, sold by Trump to the Russians for a bag of GOLD PLATED magic beans
posted by sammyo at 7:16 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]

Pentagon won’t take over Islamic State prisons if U.S.-allied Kurdish forces withdraw, officials say (WaPo)
The U.S. military has no plans to intervene if Syrian Kurdish forces abandon a constellation of Islamic State prisons in Syria to confront a possible Turkish invasion, officials said Tuesday.

Kurdish officials said that guards were still in place at the more than 20 prisons and camps under their control but were prepared to move, raising the possibility that about 11,000 militants and their families could escape.

U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe the evolving U.S. strategy in Syria, said the Pentagon did not have enough forces to oversee the prisons if those facilities were left unguarded, nor a mandate to do so.

The Trump administration has said the responsibility for the militants detained by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the main U.S. partner against the Islamic State in Syria, would fall to the Turkish government if it goes ahead with the incursion. [...]

Even before this week’s announcement, Kurdish officials said tensions in the detention facilities had increased since the release of an audio recording last month that purportedly featured Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi urging fighters to carry out attacks and free detainees from prisons and camps in Iraq and Syria.

“The camps and detention facilities are a time bomb. We can guard them, but in areas where we have weak security it may become easier for Daesh to reorganize itself,” [SDF spokesman Kino] Gabriel said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.
posted by katra at 7:16 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]

Will Abandoning the Kurds Result in the Mass Release of Islamic State Fighters? (Robert Chesney, Lawfare)
The critical point is that there is no reason whatsoever to think that there will be an actual handoff of detainees from Kurdish to Turkish control—quite the opposite, in fact. Nor is there reason to believe that the Turks will attempt to swoop in to ensure continued detention of Islamic State fighters if and when the Kurds feel obliged to abandon detention operations, let alone that Turkey could do so effectively.

It is possible that all this hand-wringing will prove unwarranted. Perhaps Turkey’s military incursion will be limited, leaving the Kurds capable and willing to continue detaining Islamic State fighters. Perhaps vast numbers of the detainees will be dispatched to Iraq for prosecution after all (a much-touted plan a year ago, about which little has surfaced since). Perhaps Turkey will somehow gain control of and maintain detention operations. Anything is possible. But none of that seems likely. More likely, the biggest beneficiary of all this will be the Islamic State.
posted by katra at 7:24 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]

And so it begins.
Turkish military shelling SDF position in border town of Ras al-Ain, Kurdish-led force says.
Wednesday, October 9
Erdogan aide says Turkey to start Syria offensive "shortly".
posted by adamvasco at 7:38 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]

Turkish invasion of Syria would be 'godsend' for ISIS, experts warn (NBC News)
As news of the dramatic shift spread, a top Kurdish general told NBC News that SDF fighters assigned to guard thousands of captured extremists had started to rush to the border ahead of an expected Turkish attack. Some 12,000 suspected terrorists in detention centers guarded by Kurdish forces are now a “second priority,” according Gen. Mazloum Kobani, commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

[...] Last month, U.S. envoy James Jeffrey said radicalization in the notorious al-Hol camp was “on everybody’s mind." [Fawaz Gerges, a professor of Middle Eastern politics at the London School of Economics] described it Tuesday as a “hotbed for the resurgence of ISIS ideology.”

Al-Hol is home to more than 70,000 people, including at least 9,000 foreigners, mostly wives and children of extremist fighters.

Karin Von Hippel, director-general of the Royal United Services Institute think tank in London, said if the Kurds withdrew and left ISIS prison camps to be attacked by extremists, the fighters and their families could become the “nucleus of ISIS 2.0 or 3.0.”

“ISIS could just take over the prisons if the Kurds leave,” she said. “I’m sure they’re planning that as we speak.”
posted by katra at 7:39 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]

Chaos in Syria, Washington after Trump call with Erdogan unleashed Turkish military (NBC News)

A side note:
Sunday's phone call between Trump and Erdogan was held to try to ease the Turkish leader's fury that he didn't get a one-on-one meeting with Trump last month on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, according to three current and former officials. Erdogan made it known to U.S. officials that he was not happy his only interaction with Trump during the gathering of world leaders in New York was at a large reception, according to the officials.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:06 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]

Our word is forever fucking useless thanks to this fucktitude. God forbid we get involved in any other major quagmire in any region because no side with any sense will ever trust the United States ever again.

America's word has forever been fucking useless, especially when it comes to leftists of color. Every person of color outside of America (and many inside) knows this, but the Kurds went along because the other option was even worse.

9/11/1973, never forget.
posted by Ouverture at 9:34 PM on October 8 [9 favorites]

More likely, the biggest beneficiary of all this will be the Islamic State.

Don't forget the Trump Towers Istanbul!
posted by triggerfinger at 10:06 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]

A good organization to donate to that I’ve heard of and seen passed around is the Kurdish Red Crescent. It may be because I’m on my mobile but their website is hard for me to maneuver, but they’ve been around since 1993 and help extensively with medical services. They had a headquarters in Afrin until it was bombed in the illegal Turkish invasion.
posted by gucci mane at 10:20 PM on October 8 [6 favorites]

One imagines that the more likely outcome than a mass prisoner release is a mass slaughter. I can't imagine the Kurds would want to allow the creation of a fifth column to their rear while they're trying to defend an attack by the Turks—and dead people require no manpower to guard them. Eventually someone is going to do the math.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:52 PM on October 8 [8 favorites]

The US withdrawal from northern Syria creates the perfect climate for war crimes (Simon Tisdall, Guardian Opinion)
Renewed fighting in northeast Syria, potentially spreading westwards to areas such as Afrin – seized in an earlier Turkish incursion – and even to besieged, war-ravaged Idlib, threatens yet another humanitarian disaster. What Turkey now proposes, with Trump’s blessing, amounts to the forcible repatriation of hundreds of thousands of defenceless civilians into what may soon be, or already is, a war zone. Don’t be fooled by US-Turkish spin. It’s not safe. And it’s not right. This is a war crime in the making.
posted by katra at 10:57 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]

This comment gave me a lot to think about:
The Russian oil and gas giant, Rosneft, has been trying to gain access to develop Kurdish oil for years. Rosneft is one of the largest companies in the world, worth around $70 billion. It is the tool of Putin and Russian oligarchs, and after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, President Obama put sanctions on Rosneft to freeze its assets in the United States. These are the sanctions Putin wants lifted. Russia bought the Kurdish oil pipelines that run through Turkey almost two years ago, and if it can control the Kurdish oil fields, it will become the dominant foreign power in the Middle East, replacing the United States.
It just makes sense that Trump is doing this to grift and protect Russian oil interests, and no sense that he's doing this for military reasons. I can't even explain his stated motivations to other people.
posted by xammerboy at 2:55 AM on October 9 [22 favorites]

Pat Robertson: Trump in "danger of losing mandate of Heaven" over Syria decision.

I don't care about Pat Robertson either, but it's interesting seeing Trump make a misstep so bad evangelicals say maybe it means the Lord doesn't like him anymore.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:31 AM on October 9 [6 favorites]

Not to mention having pissed off the evangelicals so much that they turned Confucian in shock.
posted by acb at 5:33 AM on October 9 [10 favorites]

Not to mention having pissed off the evangelicals so much that they turned Confucian in shock.

Have you seen the state of the evangelical brand lately?
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:53 AM on October 9

Do any Turkish Mefites know how ordinary Turks are taking this news? I know there have been tensions over the Kurdish population in Turkey and certainly over Syrian refugees, but a military offensive that risks empowering ISIS again is a big decision, especially since it seems that ordinary Turks heard about this move at the same time everyone else did, just a few days ago.
posted by facehugger at 7:59 AM on October 9 [4 favorites]

And here we go: Turkey launches offensive in northern Syria with airstrikes.

The Kurds have apparently requested air support and a no fly zone, and US forces have been ordered not to help.
posted by nubs at 8:00 AM on October 9 [3 favorites]

The Latest: Turkey says artillery shelling targets in Syria (AP)
5:35 p.m.

Turkey’s state-run news agency says Turkish artillery units are shelling suspected Syrian Kurdish forces targets across the border in the Syrian town of Tal Abyad.

Anadolu Agency said howitzers pounded the town Wednesday after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the start of a Turkish military operation against Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria. Turkey’s Defense Ministry said the offensive started at 4 p.m. (1300 GMT).

Earlier, Turkish television reports said Turkish jets were carrying out airstrikes on Syrian Kurdish positions in the town of Tal Abyad and showed smoke billowing from the targeted areas. [...]

4:35 p.m.

A spokesman for the U.S.-backed Kurdish-led force in northern Syria says Turkish warplanes have started targeting “civilian areas” in northern Syria.

Mustafa Bali of the Syrian Democratic Forces says the airstrikes have caused “a huge panic among people of the region.”

Bali’s tweet on Wednesday afternoon came shortly after Turkish President Erdogan announced in a tweet that a Turkish military offensive into northeast Syria has started.
posted by katra at 8:01 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]

Two hopeful questions -

What are the chances that the Senate/House unite to levy punitive measures, political or economic, against Turkey?

It looks like the EU are holding emergency meetings, and France and the UK have called for a UN Security Council meeting. What are the chances that the EU are able to unite to levy punitive measures? I can see the EU acting more decisively and effectively, especially since they are much more threatened by the lingering threat of a reanimated ISIS.
posted by facehugger at 8:06 AM on October 9 [2 favorites]

I'm glued to BBC World News and the DC reporter just said that lawmakers are preparing to draft a bill to impose sanctions on Turkey, and that he expects the bill to pass relatively easily.
posted by facehugger at 8:18 AM on October 9 [3 favorites]

facehugger I think there are good chances of the House and Senate passing sanctions against Turkey by veto proof majorities. I think it might happen because the Senate Republicans want to look like they give a shit and passing such a bill would give them some rhetorical cover.

But we've already seen with the Russian sanctions they passed with veto proof majorities that Trump can just ignore those sanctions laws and nothing will happen.

There is no hope from America for the Kurds, Trump has sold them out for about $15 million (that's the licensing fees he collects from Trump Towers in Istanbul) and while he's a double crossing two faced liar I don't think he'll go back on his pledge to let Turkey commit a second genocide because he wants to keep getting paid.

I'm holding out hope that the EU will do something, or perhaps France on its own, or maybe even China just so Xi can get credit for doing what Trump wouldn't. But that's the only hope I see.

Sanctions will likely pass, and Trump will ignore them and make Lindsey Graham "troubled", or perhaps "concerned" for a moment before he goes back to worshiping Trump.
posted by sotonohito at 8:22 AM on October 9 [10 favorites]

That’s what makes me so sick, Sotonohito. Of course, selling America’s power for any price is unacceptable, but a measly 15 million dollars? Disgusting. He’d rather allow a genocide to happen than lose 15 million. What a bargain price for monsters like Erdogan.

This issue reminded me that he never divested, either. This shit show of an administration has been so wild that we’ve all kind of moved on from it.

There was a point a few years ago, where I thought that because my life was going nowhere, I might as well volunteer for the YPG. Now I regret it all the more. Why die in poverty here when I could have at least helped to stand up against evil? I hope we go on to remember those that sacrificed their lives to fight the Turks and ISIS. They ought to be remembered in the same breath as those who fought for freedom in the Spanish Civil War.
posted by constantinescharity at 8:33 AM on October 9 [10 favorites]

sotonohito, I just read how President Macron himself met with a SDF spokesman just yesterday to express France's solidarity. That's all I know about France-SDF relations, though. When you say that France might act on its own, what else do you know about that context?

I forgot about the relative ineffectiveness of the sanctions against Russia, but maybe the widespread condemnation will lead to stricter and more comprehensive sanctions against Turkey?

Man, China getting involved would probably be the only other thing that would immediately put the fear of god in Erdogan, but (for better and for worse) we've seen that China is extremely loathe to get involved in international military conflicts.

BBC World News reports that the EU is currently drafting a strongly worded "condemnation." It will probably take the rest of this week for us to leave the condemnation phase.
posted by facehugger at 8:37 AM on October 9 [2 favorites]

Is this it, then? When they write the book about the third world war, will this be the prologue?
posted by jquinby at 8:42 AM on October 9 [8 favorites]

Just woke up, looks like the operation began roughly an hour ago.

I’d like to make a note about my Twitter and some of the news people I’m following: sometimes their pages don’t look all fancy like BBC or CNN, which to some people may scream “not legitimate”, but I’m following and retweeting them based on cross referencing other tweets from “legitimate” sources such as SDF commanders and other reporters and reports on the ground. Whoever I’m retweeting (or whatever news I post here) was liked or retweeted from what I consider to be a “legitimate” source. (Maybe legitimate isn’t the right word, but I guess “trusted” is better.) So, for example, I’ve seen Syrian-focused reporters from The Daily Beast and places like that retweet this person before.

North Press Agency: Military source from Sere-Kanyie Military Council: Turkish army targeted 16 points with air strikes and heavy artillery shelling, in the villages of Aluk, Nustel, Aziziya, Aziziya school, Bir Nouh, Asadiya, Musharrafa and silos in Ras al-Ain.

2 civilians died in Musharrafa.

SDF: Two civilians lost their lives, two others were injured in the Turkish aerial bombardment targeted the village of Misharrafa, west of Ras al-Ain. cw: no gore or anything from what I can see but does show the aftermath of a bombing.

SDF: Turkish Artillery shelling targets areas near Bouzra dam in Derik (al-Malikiya), northeastern #Syria.

Jenan Moussa (reporter for Arabic Al Aan TV): I just received this short clip from Northern Syria. A Turkish helicopter flying over Qamishli.

One of my sources filmed it today around 1730 hr local time. She just sent it to me. Clip short because net is slow. She said people are terrified. No one know what to do.

Associated Press appears to have live updates here. All updates are in Syrian local time.

Most recent:
6:20 p.m.

Germany’s foreign minister is condemning Turkey’s offensive in northern Syria and called on Ankara to end the military action, saying it threatened “a further humanitarian catastrophe and further displacement of persons.”

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement Wednesday that “we condemn the Turkish offensive in the northeast of Syria in the strongest possible terms. ”

He said Turkey was running the risk that it would “further destabilize the region and strengthen IS,” referring to the so-called Islamic State group.

Maas said that Syria needed stability after eight years of war and that the first step should be to summon a constitutional committee in the near future: “We call on Turkey to end its offensive and to pursue its security interests in a peaceful manner. ”
posted by gucci mane at 8:47 AM on October 9 [17 favorites]

Is this it, then? When they write the book about the third world war, will this be the prologue?

It seemed like that when an off-duty Turkish cop assassinated the Russian Ambassador to Turkey in 2019.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:59 AM on October 9 [4 favorites]

Agreed. The photo is...iconic doesn't seem strong enough. (cw, dead man on the floor behind the assassin)
posted by jquinby at 9:09 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]

2016! It was 2016 when that happened (I thought I was going crazy for a minute)
posted by armacy at 9:10 AM on October 9 [4 favorites]

AljazeeraTurkish operation in northeast Syria has begun: Erdogan: SDF says 'huge panic' sown as Turkey launches long-threatened push into Kurdish-controlled northeastern Syria
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country's long-threatened military operation in northeastern Syria had started.

"The Turkish Armed Forces, together with the Syrian National Army, just launched #OperationPeaceSpring against PKK/YPG and Daesh terrorists in northern Syria," Erdogan said in a post on Twitter, referencing the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA).

"Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area," he added.
War is peace.
posted by cenoxo at 9:16 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]

jquinby: Is this it, then? When they write the book about the third world war, will this be the prologue?

Yeah, most likely. Syria as a whole is a massive quagmire of multiple actors pushing and pulling one another for control over everything. I know a lot about it, but I don't have the energy to go into it right now :P

In my opinion, Northern Syria (Rojava) is the epicenter for the fight against global fascism. Nearly every big actor is involved: Trump, Erdogan, Putin. Everything I'm about to say going forward is somewhat metaphysical, but bear with me: fascists understand that this is a spiritual war as much as it is a war that exists in physical locations and cyberspace. This isn't only a war for resources, borders, nation-states, ethnic groups, but ideologies, human bodies, human movement, history. It is actually extremely imperative that Rojava be defended at all cost, not only because that is the just and correct thing to do, but also because it would strike a massive blow to the "powers that be". Rojava is a fully functioning region with a functioning, competent government that's only been hindered by powers outside of their control.

Let's go back to my first sentence though. If you look at everything going on in N. Syria, you need to understand that you are witnessing the present-future of warfare. Proxy militias, militant organizations of multiple ethnic groups (oftentimes fighting under one umbrella a la the SDF), internationalist contingents of volunteer fighters, use of social media for propaganda and fake news, etc. These things have all happened before, but I don't think they have all happened simultaneously like this.

I'm not going to sit here and hide my "biases" or be "nuanced" about this, I am absolutely deadly serious, to a degree where I am actively making moves to join the YPG as I type this, to go to a country to fight for people I've never met, and most likely die for. It's not just me that thinks this, you can go find internationalist and Kurdish and Arab and Assyrian and Christian and Yazidi and Turkmen who all believe in Rojava, who all believe the same things, but I will say that my big opinion is that this is the epicenter for the fight against global fascism, and it is absolutely necessary that we win. I'm but one person, whoever is reading this may be asking themselves "why does this guy on Metafilter feel like this?" But what you should really be asking yourself is "why do thousands of internationalists feel like this?"

I'm going to paste the obituary of a man from Sweden who died fighting against ISIS in Rojava:
Ciao, If you are reading this message then it means that I am no longer of this World. Don't be to sad, I'm doing well; I have no regrets, I died doing what I thought was right, defending the weak and remaining loyal to my ideals of justice, equality and freedom.
So despite of my premature departure, my life has been a success, and I'm almost certain that I left with a smile on my face.
I couldn't have asked for better. I wish you all the very best, and I hope that one day (if you have not already done so) you decide to give your life for others, because this is the only way to change the world.
Only by defeating individualism and selfishness in each of us can we make a difference. These are difficult times, I know, but don't fall into resignation, never give up hope, never! Not even for a moment.
Even if everything seems lost, and the bad that afflict humans and the earth seem unbearable, keep on finding strength and inspire it in your comrades. It is exactly in those dark moments that your light helps. And always remember that "Every storm begins with a single raindrop".
I love you all, I hope you will treasure these words. Serkeftîn!
This is who that man was.

Or look at Anna Campbell, the first British woman to die fighting for the YPJ.

I think we all need to begin coming to the conclusion that there is a world war happening, it has been going on for over 100 years, and it is people like those two, "regular people", "normal" people, people like me, people like most of us here, that are fighting against capitalism. You don't need to pick up a gun to fight, but as this war gets bigger and bigger we're going to see more people like myself and Anna Campbell and Lorenzo Oresetti picking up guns to fight alongside people that we have no connection to other than we believe in something bigger than us.
posted by gucci mane at 9:18 AM on October 9 [41 favorites]

SDF: Video #Qamishli city in NE #Syriya during the Turkish air striks.

North Press Agency: Video Thousands of civilians are fleeing the city of Ras al-Ain into the southern and eastern areas, for the fears of their lives under the Turkish indiscriminate artillery and air bombardment that targeted more than 20 civilian and military points
Two civilians killed.

Article from The Intercept: Trump Turned His Back on Syrian Kurds. Here’s How They View Their New Precarious Position.
"People feel terrible,” said Alali. “Everyone was not expecting [the U.S.] to allow the Turks to attack us, especially after what happened in Afrin with so many killed and arrested.” Afrin is a neighboring Syrian-Kurdish region invaded by Turkish forces in 2018. The aftermath of the invasion of Afrin saw alleged incidents of ethnic cleansing targeting Kurds, as well as vulnerable minorities like Yazidis and Christians.

“We’ve documented Turkish-backed factions arbitrarily arresting individuals, looting, harassing, and confiscating property with very little accountability. When these violations were raised with Turkey, they turned a blind eye,” said Sara Kayyali, a Syria researcher for Human Rights Watch, of Afrin.

Kayyali added that another Turkish incursion could worsen what is already the worst crisis of displacement in the world, where some 12 million have already been driven from their homes: “Syria is already facing a major displacement crisis as a result of the hostilities in the northwest and in Idlib. Any kind of instability is likely to increase this.”
posted by gucci mane at 9:27 AM on October 9 [8 favorites]

RojavaAzadi: Video Resistencia popular en los barrios de Serekaniye para defender su ciudad de los invasores turcos

Another tweet from them showing an elderly woman with an AK-47, radio, backpack, ready to defend her neighborhood.
posted by gucci mane at 9:55 AM on October 9 [4 favorites]

Winners and Losers from Trump throwing Syrian Kurds under the Bus, Informed Comment, Juan Cole, October 8, 2019:
So the big winner from Trump’s withdrawal is Turkey itself. I mean huge. At least, from the narrow point of view of Ankara, it is a big win. The Turkish government views the Syrian Kurds as terrorists even though they aren’t proven to have committed any terrorism. It fears that they are hooked up with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which it and the US view as a terrorist organization. Turkey is actually afraid that the Syrian Kurds’ example of autonomy will fuel Kurdish separatism inside Turkey, which anyway is probably an overblown fear. Turkish Kurds speak Turkish and have emigrated from the southeast all over the country, and seem to be invested in it. But whatever the realities, Erdogan will see this US withdrawal as a big triumph and an opportunity to shape Turkey’s security environment for a generation.
posted by cenoxo at 9:57 AM on October 9 [4 favorites]

Turkish-backed al-Hamza Division while moving to the front lines to fight the infidel Kurds as they claim, chanting Allahu Akbar. Al-Hamza is accused of war crimes against humanity in #Afrin region.

Behold: Team Liberty Eagle, circa 2019.
posted by acb at 9:59 AM on October 9

I can't believe no-one has yet mentioned Rachel Maddow's book Blowout, ESPECIALLY relating to Rosneft as other commentators mentioned above, especially good on the long term history of how the oil & gas industry destroy democracies, or nascent democracies all over the world, with receipts, if there is a chance for profitable shale gas or oil.

for a much longer take on how many of the head-scratching stuff from all over the world can be related via the interests of the most lucrative industry in history. It's just out and I'm only on Chapter 16 on Audible and already I can see how her underlying thesis holds true for this as well. If she weren't already a PhD, this would easily qualify. but for this and the podcast on Spiro Agnew she deserves a Pullitzer.
posted by Wilder at 10:07 AM on October 9 [8 favorites]

As with many issues in the Middle East, things are complicated. The PKK in Turkey is designated a terrorist group by NATO and the Obama administration. Turkey views the YPG as terrorist infiltrators supporting the PKK so they see the attacks as justified for securing their borders.

US involvement in these Middle Eastern disputes always seems to make things worse.
posted by JackFlash at 10:48 AM on October 9

Whatever you might think about the wisdom of the US getting involved in the Middle East in the first place, it does not follow that it was in any way good or productive for the US to suddenly pull chocks and let the Turks run roughshod over the Kurds.

Perhaps there was a way to gracefully remove ourselves in a way that didn't cause a war and will more than likely lead to crimes against humanity — but this was certainly not it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:57 AM on October 9 [15 favorites]

As with many issues in the Middle East, things are complicated.

Not that complicated. Erdogan is setting up to commit Turkey's second genocide, I stand with those opposing genocide. Very simple.
posted by sotonohito at 11:04 AM on October 9 [35 favorites]

“Things are complicated” “here’s an entirely simplified view” lol
posted by gucci mane at 11:50 AM on October 9 [8 favorites]

Yes things are definitely complicated.
Reuters: The Kurdish struggle for rights and land
Oxford Institute for Energy Studies: Under the Mountains: Kurdish Oil and Regional Politics - pdf
From 2017 Reuters - Oil seen as real prize of Iran's Kurdish adventure
New Humanitarian: Oil-rich Kirkuk in northern Iraq is a province everyone wants. That’s apparent in the passionate language Kurdish commanders use when talking about winning it back.
posted by adamvasco at 12:22 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]

I was quipping and I shouldn't. Yes, obviously the history of the area and the background for Erdogan's decision to go to war and commit genocide is complicated.

But from a moral standpoint it's not complex. When there's a genocide happening you're either against it or you aren't. There's time to sort out the complexities and the whole mess of Kurdistan and all that **AFTER** Erdogan is stopped from killing millions of Kurds.

Its another important vs urgent situation. The root causes are important and worth study, but they aren't urgent right now.
posted by sotonohito at 1:27 PM on October 9 [6 favorites]

Via zachlipton in the Slack, this statement by Trump is ... well, you decide.

Daniel Dale, tweet:
Trump on the Kurds: "They didn't help us in the Second World War, they didn't help us with Normandy." He says they're only interested in fighting for "their land." He adds, "With all of that being said, we like the Kurds."
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:51 PM on October 9 [5 favorites]

Buried in the comments of that Daniel Dale tweet:
"Don't forget that's their territory. We have to help them… Tens of thousands of Kurds died fighting ISIS. They died for us and with us and for themselves… but they're great people…I don't forget."
posted by jquinby at 1:59 PM on October 9 [3 favorites]

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the President's new favorite news network (One America News Network, who don't have pesky Shep Smith or Chris Wallace around to say mean things about him) is reporting that Antifa fighters traveled to Syria to train with Kurdish militias.

In case anyone needed their vomit to vomit today.
posted by delfin at 2:14 PM on October 9 [4 favorites]

US involvement in these Middle Eastern disputes always seems to make things worse.

Standing in the way of a genocide does not make things worse.

Genocide makes things worse.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:16 PM on October 9 [10 favorites]

Standing in the way of a genocide does not make things worse.

Genocide makes things worse.

While I think that the Trump administration's sudden abandonment of the Kurds is deeply immoral and that the blood of however many die in this will be on his hands (if to a lesser extent than Erdogan), everyone in this conversation lived through a previous round of US-backed genocide prevention in Libya that was more-or-less catastrophic. Libya in 2019 is significantly less stable than in 2009, ruled just as arbitrarily and autocratically, has citizens who live under just as much constant fear, and has now become a regional hub for human slavery. I don't particularly want to compare mass death with mass enslavement and long-term suffering, but the case isn't quite as much of a slam dunk as you're making it out to be. And that was with a US government that was run by competent people trying their best instead of the current crew.
posted by Copronymus at 2:39 PM on October 9 [2 favorites]

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the President's new favorite news network (One America News Network, who don't have pesky Shep Smith or Chris Wallace around to say mean things about him) is reporting that Antifa fighters traveled to Syria to train with Kurdish militias.

They forgot to put "premature" before antifa
posted by ocschwar at 2:56 PM on October 9 [2 favorites]

Fair enough, Copronymus. But I don't think anyone here is looking for a military overthrow of the Erdogan government - one of the major frustrations about what's happening now is precisely that we had a lot of tools we could have used to deter Erdogan from doing what he's doing, tools that we didn't necessarily have with respect to the more isolated regime in Gaddafi's Libya (or Assad's Syria, to cite another example of us getting involved in an ongoing semi-genocidal conflict).

In the cases of Libya and Syria, the regimes in question were doing what they were doing because they genuinely felt existentially threatened - it's hard to convince a dictator to stop doing something he views as necessary to his own survival. There aren't a lot of carrots that outweigh "these people are going to oust and then probably kill me". So the "it's either military action or nothing" argument made more sense. But Erdogan is not in that position. He's not threatened by the Kurds in any serious way, they're just a traditional enemy that he'll win political points from the nationalist faction at home for viciously beating up on. It would have been relatively easy to tip the balance on that calculation, with either carrot or stick, without ever resorting to or even threatening to resort to military action against him. It's probably still within the realm of possibility.

In Libya and Syria we were reacting to crises, this is one we are at best enabling, if not outright helping to cause.
posted by AdamCSnider at 2:57 PM on October 9 [8 favorites]

I think the Russian involvement implies that Putin really does control Trump, because there is no way it's good for Trump here in the US right now to order us to stand aside as Russia and Turkey overwhelm the Kurds — and that Putin believes Trump is a asset which is near the end of its useful life anyway, and as such can be used for things which will destroy it.
posted by jamjam at 3:01 PM on October 9 [22 favorites]

Turkish troops advance into Syria as Trump washes his hands of the Kurds (Guardian)
The UN security council is due to convene on Thursday to discuss the offensive at the request of its five current European members, but it is not expected to deliver a strong rebuke to Turkey, given tacit Russian support and US ambivalence. [...]

Trump later suggested the US had extricated some of the Isis detainees held by Kurdish forces ahead of the offensive.

“We are taking some of the most dangerous Isis fighters out … and we’re putting them in different locations where it’s secure,” the president said. Asked about what would happen to the captured European Isis fighters, Trump said: “Well, they’re going to be escaping to Europe. That’s where they want to go. They want to go back to their homes.”

He said he had given European governments repeated opportunities to take custody of their own nationals who had been caught in Isis ranks, but they had refused. European officials said they had been in talks with the US about arranging prosecutions of European Isis fighters in the region – most likely Iraq – on the grounds that European courts would release them on due process grounds.
posted by katra at 3:45 PM on October 9 [3 favorites]

Not our first fuck-the-ally fiasco.
posted by j_curiouser at 4:41 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]

The Sun: 'THEY DIED IN VAIN' Hundreds of Westerners will flock to defend Syrian Kurds from Turkey says Brit hero Macer Gifford as he slams Trump’s ‘betrayal’ of those who died fighting ISIS
He told Sun Online: “‘Betrayal’ is a difficult word because it doesn’t feel like enough.

“40 international volunteers – including eight British people – died in Syria fighting ISIS and it’s a betrayal of them.

“I’d like to see Donald Trump look into the eyes of the family of the SAS trooper who died in Manbij after being put into harm’s way by Britain.

“Could Trump look them in the eye and tell his family that his sacrifice wasn’t in vain?”

The former Tory councillor from Cambridge said the withdrawal also dishonoured the memory of others like himself who travelled to Syria to join anti-ISIS militias but lost their lives.

These include Jac Holmes, Eric Scurfield and the "incredibly passionate" Anna Campbell, who was killed in a Turkish airstrike after travelling out with Macer.

He recalled how ex-Royal Marine Eric sacrificed his life to rescue comrades in the battle against ISIS.

Macer said: “An RPG hit his tank while he was firing the heavy weapon.

“He was incredible, he had been fighting for hours. His tank had rescued many people when he was killed.

“Ordinarily a man like him would have been recognised and honoured by the British Army for his bravery. But he just had the thanks of the Kurds.”
Thread from It's Going Down (typical antifascist news source): I'd recommend looking at this if I were you.
For years, anarchists, socialists + antifascists have given their lives in the fight against ISIS + in support of the autonomous confederation of Rojava in so-called Northern Syria. Praised by US politicians + pundits as heroes against ISIS, yet demonized at home as "terrorists."

Michael Israel from #Sacramento, #California was a member of the #DSA and the @iww. He was killed by the Turkish State in an air strike north of Raqqa. He was on his second tour with the #YPG.

Anna Campbell, an anarchist from the UK, became the first British woman to be killed in the conflict, dying alongside other YPJ volunteers during the Turkish attack on Afrin. Her death began an international campaign to have her body returned home.

Robert Grodt was an anarchist from the US and a street medic during @OccupyWallStNYC. He was killed during the final battle against ISIS to retake the city of Raqqa.

Şehîd Şahîn Qereçox, known as Waka to his many friends, was an anarchist killed in the fight against ISIS in Hajin on 6th October. At the time of his death he had just been made the co-commander of the YPG International Tabur.

Lorenzo Orsetti, was an Italian anarchist who fought with a variety of armed anarchist and antifascist groups in defense of Rojava. He was killed in March of 2019 by one of the last battalions of ISIS fighters, who celebrated his death over their media channels.

A member of the IRPGF (International Revolutionary People’s Guerrilla Forces), Şehîd Kawa Amed, or Paolo Todd, was a Native warrior who was involved in the struggle at Standing Rock before traveling to Rojava. He was killed in early 2019 while fighting against ISIS.

Haukur Hilmarsson was an anarchist from Iceland who was killed in a Turkish airstrike in Afrin in early 2018 while fighting alongside the #YPG.

Ivana Hoffman, a 19 year old socialist from Germany, was killed during clashes with ISIS in 2015, becoming the third person from outside the region to die along side YPG and YPJ forces.

Jordan MacTaggart, an anarchist from #Colorado was killed in 2016 during "operations inside Manbij city [which] helped to liberate many civilians from the areas occupied by ISIS."

Should be pointed out that this short list doesn't do justice in representing all those who have given their lives in an effort to defend the autonomous cantons of #Rojava, not to mention the #YPG and #YPJ volunteers and civilians who have died during the unfolding conflict.

Like those American volunteers, many from the ranks of working class anti-capitalist movements, who traveled from the US to fight in the Spanish Civil War against fascism, if we don't remember these people, then their memory will be lost forever.
A person in the thread says: You are missing Alina Sanchez (Ş. Lêgerîn Azadî), the first Latin American martyr/Shehid.

The reason some of these people have two names is that they are given Kurdish war names after they complete training at the military academy.

SDF (cw for what I believe is blood in a photo): Jayish al-Muhamadi ( Mohmed's army) that is being sent by Erdogan it's main mission is to invade NE #Syria/ commiting ethnic genocide and to destroy house of worship in our region.

I believe they are talking of Jaysh al-Islam, who are part of Turkey's "National Army". They are a militant Islamist group that believe in creating an Islamic state under Sharia Law. While they've fought against ISIS, they have also been accused of deploying chemical weapons (chlorine gas) against YPG forces and civilians.

VIDEO: Clarissa Ward, a reporter for CNN, on the ground talking to fleeing civilians outside of Ras al-Ayn.

Mustafa Bali, head of SDF press office: Ground attack by Turkish forces has been repelled by SDF fighters in Til Abyad. No advance as of now.
posted by gucci mane at 4:43 PM on October 9 [21 favorites]

Baderkhan Ahmad: Half an hour ago, in #Qamishli city.
#Civilians decide to hold the #weapons to protect their #neighborhoods.

Caki: VIDEO Youth in Rojava prepare for the invaders

Jennifer Griffin: Unrolled thread:

I just spoke to a distraught US Special Forces soldier who is among the 1000 or so US troops in Syria tonight who is serving alongside the SDF Kurdish forces. It was one of the hardest phone calls I have ever taken.

"I am ashamed for the first time in my career."
This veteran US Special forces soldier has trained indigenous forces on multiple continents. He is on the frontlines tonight and said they are witnessing Turkish atrocities.

"Turkey is not doing what it agreed to. It's horrible," this military source on the ground told me.

"We met every single security agreement. The Kurds met every single agreement. There was NO threat to the Turks - NONE - from this side of the border." "This is insanity," the concerned US service member told me. ""I don't know what they call atrocities but they are happening."

This American soldier told me the Kurds have not left their positions guarding the ISIS prisoners. In fact "they prevented a prison break last night without us."
"They are not abandoning our side (yet)."

The Kurds are "pleading for our support." We are doing "nothing."
Troops on the ground in Syria and their commanders were "surprised" by the decision Sunday night.

Of the President's decision: "He doesn't understand the problem. He doesn't understand the repercussions of this. Erdogan is an Islamist, not a level headed actor."

Acc to this US soldier on the ground tonight in Syria: "The Kurds are as close to Western thinking in the Middle East as anyone. "It's a shame. It's horrible." "This is not helping the ISIS fight." Re: ISIS prisoners: "Many of them will be free in the coming days and weeks."

This US Special Forces soldier wanted me to know: "The Kurds are sticking by us. No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."
Disappointed in the decisions coming from their senior leaders.

posted by gucci mane at 6:05 PM on October 9 [56 favorites]

gucci mane, thank you so much for the information you are posting to this thread. I would struggle to find all of this stuff on my own and I really appreciate it. Best of the web right here.
posted by prize bull octorok at 6:11 PM on October 9 [20 favorites]

It really is my pleasure! It’s all I can do for now, the powerlessness is real 😩
posted by gucci mane at 6:19 PM on October 9 [18 favorites]

agreed: thanks gucci mane. appreciate your vetted list of twitter sources, something i've had a very hard time doing myself with respect to kurdish news and issues for some years now. thanks also, balance of contributors and participants.

i would like to hear about the views of ordinary turks too. not sure how to, having the strong impression that political speech via internet/social media is subject to significant chill in turkey. (otoh, #MahvolursunTrump trended, per last item of fpp).

some more background: this "global journalist" episode from feb. 2018, "after isis: the kurdish question"is probably the best single piece of english-language journalism concerning kurds that i've ever seen (followed closely by that bookchin article One Second Before Awakening and that gordon campbell article dmh posted above). in addition to mutlu civiroglu (@mutludc, among those followed by gucci mane's twitter list, also posted above), the episode features nafiseh kohnavard (@nafisehkBBC), ceng sagnic (@cngsgnc), and belkis wille (@belkiswille, whose account has been quiet since march). intercept does pretty well with things kurdish, and democracynow! is routinely reliable for some coverage.

anyway, since i was on twitter, i dug up an attempt i made at a political cartoon -- from jan. 2018, but timeless, i guess -- selflinked here for your meh-dification. note, i am given to understand that "berxwedan jîyane" is a kurdish slogan meaning "resistance is life," (there is a documentary, about isis' assault on kobane, by the same name).

i am acquainted with some kurdish persons who evince a peculiar sense of romantic solidarity with the first-nations cultures genocided by american manifest destiny. i am also acquainted with the family of a kurdish-turkish german teen who disappeared from a protest in paris into some kurdish mountains within who-knows-whose-national-boundaries, incommunicado, for several harrowing months in a reported attempt to join a kurdish martial organization of some sort while his family and friends panicked and flailed at home. not certain which, where, or why/how it happened that he returned safely home to his family in germany. but he did. return safely home.

i feel the call, but i'd be a prohibitive burden on any militia saps charged with making me fit for battle.
posted by 20 year lurk at 8:15 PM on October 9 [11 favorites]

News has slowed down for a bit now, so I'd like to post a 3-part documentary series by the portrait photographer Joey L, who has a great book of photos from Rojava called "We Came From Fire: Kurdistan's Armed Struggle Against ISIS". He went over to Rojava a few times to document the YPG/YPJ as well as some others part of the SDF, and even Kurdish militants in Iraqi Kurdistan. There are a lot of 3 letter groups in this documentary.

Part 1 is here. I'd like to turn eyes toward a few specific scenes in this one. At 12:40 (link should go directly to that timestamp) he meets an American from San Antonio, Texas in the city of Tel Tamer, which is close to the Turkish border, in NE Syria.

From there he goes to Sinjar, in Iraqi Kurdistan. Sinjar (or Shingal) was the place of genocide against the Yazidis, a religious minority. It's estimated that there were 4000 people killed and up to 10,000 abducted by ISIS. Women were sold into slavery.

At the end of this part, 29:19, he happens upon the funeral of a British YPG fighter, Kostadinos Scurfield. It is here you see the Kurdish people paying tribute to him, and although it is a brief scene, it really fills me with tears to see this, both from a place of sadness and happiness.

Part 2 is here. At 12:36 he walks through what is left of Shingal, and talks with a Kurdish Yazididi named Hakeem, as he talks about what he witnessed and goes back to his old house.

At 40:04 he goes to what was the frontline against ISIS, 2-3km away from Al-Hawl, which is where the big ISIS prison is currently at (for now). There is a short operation in which the YPG is attacked by some ISIS suicide trucks. They show a short ISIS propaganda video about the suicide bombers.

At 48:38 he goes to the frontline on the Euphrates river, where he meets an American volunteer, Francisco. They're right by the Turkish border, and they discuss the Turkish military shelling them with artillery. He also talks to a Kurd about Turkish provocation, and at 50:47 he talks about Turkey being upset with the YPG by their border, then shows an ISIS base close by the Turks. At 54:17 he talks with one of the few Free Syrian Army commanders who speaks openly about Turkey's alliance with ISIS. They discuss the city of Jarablus, its strategic significance, ISIS' use of the city to smuggle goods. I won't spoil this part, but it's a big part, especially in light of everything going on now.

Part 3 is short, roughly 13 minutes long, and mostly features a small incursion between the YPG and ISIS.

Joey isn't the most eloquent, but the documentary is extremely well done, with fantastic photography, and loads of first-person information from the actual people that live in the places that he goes to.
posted by gucci mane at 8:28 PM on October 9 [16 favorites]

Thanks 20 year lurk, I will definitely check those documentaries out! I have not heard of them before! And that political cartoon is great, very prescient.

I am certain that you are correct, "berxwedan jiyane" means "resistance is life". "Şehîd namirin" means "martyrs never die", and if you see "Şehîd" before a person's name then they are being called a martyr. Both of those phrases are found all over Kurdish and N. Syrian social media. You'll also see "Bijî Kurdistan", which is basically "long live Kurdistan". "Serkeftin" means "victory".
posted by gucci mane at 8:36 PM on October 9 [6 favorites]

WRT gucci mane's comment above quoting tweets from Fox News national security correspondent "Jennifer Griffin: Unrolled thread", her same story is on the Fox News website:
Turkey's Syria invasion: Member of US Special Forces says, 'I am ashamed for the first time in my career', Jennifer Griffin & Melissa Leon, Fox News, 10/9/2019
This and another Griffin story on Fox News — Trump 'went off script' during call with Erdogan, senior military source reveals — are surprisingly critical of Trump's sudden decision to recall U.S. troops from Syria. Another Fox News story (not authored by Griffin) is Why conservative pundits and pols are denouncing Trump’s Syria move.

Not that they aren't welcome improvements, but why is Fox News publishing stories like this now?
posted by cenoxo at 11:06 PM on October 9 [9 favorites]

Syria - Live Universal Awareness Map, updated with clickable news icons (more about Liveuamap).
posted by cenoxo at 12:17 AM on October 10 [6 favorites]

I haven’t felt quite this way since watching us invade Iraq. I am not sure that what’s happening here has sunk in for the general population, that the Commander in Chief of the U.S. military made a military decision on the basis of Erdogan’s word (at best) or some Russian involvement (at worst), or maybe just because he felt like it on the spur of the moment. It is strongly affecting the veterans I know who’ve otherwise felt about Trump “what’s the point of protesting, there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Above all, it’s frightening that the U.S. President doesn’t even know enough about ISIS to know the cell he’s trying to reference are called the Beatles, not the “Beetles.”
posted by sallybrown at 5:04 AM on October 10 [7 favorites]

'Day after day
Alone [near] the Hill...'
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:39 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]

Why is Fox News publishing stories like this now?

Trump is going after their bread and butter. It's no exaggeration to say that Fox News was built on and still runs on fear of terrorism. And what of Trump's anti-immigration policy, wall, prison camps, etc? They're all needed, supposedly, to keep out terrorists.
posted by xammerboy at 6:47 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]

Because of Fox’s cultivation of military sources and pro-Dept of Defense stance, I think we’re also seeing a genuine reflection of the anger in those places at this policy. Part of it might be worry about political ramifications, but there is genuine anger and shame in the military over Trump’s actions here.
posted by sallybrown at 6:53 AM on October 10 [8 favorites]

Turkish offensive triggers exodus of aid workers from Syria (Guardian)
Dozens of aid workers have crossed the border from north-eastern Syria into Turkey after agencies ordered a widespread evacuation in anticipation of an expanded Turkish push into the region.

The exodus kept border officials busy throughout Thursday morning. Aid workers said they had been told to leave by their organisations, and most had done so reluctantly.

Aid agencies, military leaders and senior international officials have warned that hundreds of thousands of people are in immediate danger from Turkey’s newly announced offensive targeting Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces warned of an “imminent humanitarian catastrophe” as Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, and the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, both appealed to Turkey to avoid adding to the instability in Syria.

Syria is already hosting one of the world’s most complex humanitarian crises, with millions of people displaced both within and outside its borders, and the Turkish offensive, announced on Tuesday, threatens to add a frightening new dimension.
posted by katra at 7:11 AM on October 10 [5 favorites]

Wow, Erdogan openly threatening the EU today.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened Europe with a flood of refugees on Thursday if the continent's leaders call the Turkish invasion of Syria an "occupation."
"We will open the gates and send 3.6 million refugees your way," Erdogan said while speaking to officials from his ruling AK Party, according to Reuters.
posted by gucci mane at 7:16 AM on October 10 [8 favorites]

So a humanitarian win?
posted by Mitheral at 7:36 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]

It's no exaggeration to say that Fox News was built on and still runs on fear of terrorism.

I think it is an exaggeration -- Fox News was built on and still runs on fear of The Other. Terrorism is one of the things that The Other does (but not white men, who are merely responding to outrages perpetrated by The Other), but so are Being On Welfare That Your Taxes Pay For, and Corrupting Your Children's Purity.
posted by Etrigan at 7:39 AM on October 10 [6 favorites]

Fox News runs on chicken-hawk chest-thumping flag-humping these-colors-don't-run militarism replete with animated screaming eagles and whatnot. The incompatibility of that jingoism with isolationist America First ideas doesn't matter, because consistency doesn't matter to Fox or its viewers. If you unironically voted for this Trump, then America needs to win the fights it picks and it can't bow to an "inferior" country like Turkey in an overtly military context even if Trump capitulates on Kurdish policy.

There's a certain amount of shame voiced about abandoning the Kurds, but that would seem to have more to do with the romanticism of American imperialism and determination to justify sunk costs and lost lives, and not repeat post-Cold War mistakes, than any real concern for the Kurds, at least on the right.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:56 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]

I’m at work currently so I can’t update much. Sporadic news about attacks and such. This caught my eye though. From a reporter who’s worked with The Telegraph, Jerusalem Post, and The Independent?

Raman Ghavami: This is absolutely terrifying.

Turkey has released veterans of ISIS from prison&sends them to fight the Kurds.The guy to the one talking(right) was 'arrested'(yeniasya.com.tr/yurt-haber/13-…)back in Oct2015 as part of 'operation against ISIS in Turkey.'
Probably others too,looking into

That link may not work on here but it works if you click it in the tweet.
posted by gucci mane at 10:44 AM on October 10 [9 favorites]

There's a certain amount of shame voiced about abandoning the Kurds, but that would seem to have more to do with the romanticism of American imperialism and determination to justify sunk costs and lost lives, and not repeat post-Cold War mistakes, than any real concern for the Kurds, at least on the right.

I think a substantial amount of this concern is genuine—a mix of “we gave them our word,” “this is going to mess up our successful effort to subdue ISIS,” and “those are the good guys.”—which is why the tenor of some of the criticism is much harsher than usual for Trump. I can only speak to people I know, who aren’t anything close to Congresspeople, but you can feel it in this interview with Rep. Shimkus, who’s from a super pro-Trump district: he says to take his name off the “I support Trump” list (that’s pretty stark for a GOP Rep!) and “President Trump is a populist who wants to put America first and to the detriment of our allies and friends, people we’ve been associated with for decades. Some people in the country like that. I do not...I’m a very loyal person, so loyalty is very important to me.”
posted by sallybrown at 11:53 AM on October 10 [4 favorites]

Shells Fired Into Turkey as Syria Offensive Extends Into 2nd Day (NYT)
Shells and rockets landed in several Turkish border towns on Thursday, killing four civilians, one of them an infant, and wounding 70, in a sharp escalation of the conflict between the Turkish state and the Kurdish militias who fought alongside American forces in the campaign to contain Islamist extremists in northern Syria.

The attack came as a Turkish offensive against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria entered its second day, with Turkish troops continuing an air and ground assault against the Kurdish groups, killing at least 16 Kurds, rights groups reported.

By Thursday morning, Turkey had conducted 181 airstrikes in the area, its Defense Ministry said. The Turks also used cranes to remove parts of a concrete border wall, allowing Turkish troops and military vehicles to enter Kurdish-held territory in northern Syria.

Turkish-backed Syrian Arab rebel fighters said they had taken at least one formerly Kurdish-held village that lies just yards from the border.

On Thursday afternoon, Kurdish fighters appeared to return fire, as three sharp explosions in the border town of Akcakale filled streets around the town’s police headquarters with smoke, and sent pedestrians fleeing for cover and armored police vehicles barreling through the streets.

On both sides of the border, droves of civilians crammed into cars and pickup trucks search for safety from the fighting. More than 60,000 Syrians in Kurdish-held territory have fled away from the border since Wednesday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a conflict monitor based in Britain, and United Nations officials.
posted by katra at 12:05 PM on October 10 [3 favorites]

Statement from Rep. Shimkus: “While my votes will continue to support the president's domestic policy agenda, because of this terrible foreign policy decision I asked that my name be removed from his campaign’s official list of supporters.”
posted by sallybrown at 12:24 PM on October 10 [6 favorites]

For geographic reference, Akcakale, Turkey is roughly 4-6 km from Tal Abyad, Syria, where US forces had pulled out before the Turkish invasion.
posted by gucci mane at 1:04 PM on October 10

I have only a day in the car listening to radio as a reference, but it seems Europeans are trying to gather a defence force for the Kurds. I hope this is true. In two weeks, I will have an actual opportunity to influence this, but obviously it it may be too late.
posted by mumimor at 1:25 PM on October 10 [6 favorites]

Times of Israel:
“Israel strongly condemns the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas in Syria and warns against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies,” Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office. “Israel is prepared to extend humanitarian assistance to the gallant Kurdish people.”
I don't know how much practical support this will translate to, but it's more than other countries are offering. Also Times of Israel: Security Council fails to pass resolution condemning Turkish invasion of Syria
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:41 PM on October 10 [7 favorites]

Trump on the Kurds: "They didn't help us in the Second World War, they didn't help us with Normandy."

Actually, President Trump, some Kurds did fight in World War II
“Numerous people who didn’t have nation-states weren’t necessarily at Normandy but participated either directly in the war or in terms of providing materials and labor for the war.”

Some Kurdish fighters were among them. “They didn’t have a state, so they couldn’t act as a state,” said Jordi Tejel, a professor of history at the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland and author of “Syria’s Kurds: History, Politics and Society.” Still, he said individual Kurdish fighters from across the region did join other armies, fighting alongside the British and the Soviet Union’s Red Army.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:20 PM on October 10 [15 favorites]

Senators ready ‘far-reaching’ sanctions against Turkey for fighting US-backed Kurds in Syria, Stars and Stripes, John Vandiver, October 10, 2019:
U.S. lawmakers are preparing a bill that would impose sweeping sanctions on Turkish military and political leaders, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in response to Turkey’s invasion of Syria.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democrat Sen. Chris Van Hollen on Wednesday drafted framework legislation that spells out who the sanctions would target. “These sanctions will have immediate, far-reaching consequences for Erdogan and his military,” Van Hollen said in a statement.

The draft legislation is expected to come up for a vote later this month when Congress reconvenes. Graham has said he believes he could muster the necessary votes in the Senate to pass the bill.

The bipartisan legislation would ban military assistance to Turkey and prohibit the sale of any equipment to the Turkish armed forces, such as weapons and spare parts used by Turkey’s air and ground forces. Assets held in the U.S. by Erdogan and other top government officials would be frozen, according to the bill.

President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday that he could support sanctions or something “much tougher than sanctions” if Turkey’s invasion isn’t done in “as humane a way as possible.” However, Trump said in September that the U.S. and Turkey shared a “great friendship” and that he attributed much of that to his personal relationship with Erdogan.

The sanctions would go into effect unless the Trump administration certifies to Congress every 90 days that Turkey is not operating unilaterally in the affected area in Syria and has withdrawn its armed forces, including Turkey-supported rebels, the draft legislation says.

The move could provoke threats from Turkish leaders over U.S. military access at Incirlik Air Base, a strategic hub in the country used by both the Turkish and U.S. air forces. Turkish officials have, in the past, used U.S. access to the base as leverage during policy disagreements.
Sanctions like this – or threats from The Donald – are much, much easier said than done.

Since 1954, Incirlik Air Base (WP, map) has been used for Turkish Air Force, U.S. Air Force, and NATO flight operations in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, including missions against ISIS. The U.S. may also store dozens of tactical nuclear weapons at Incirlik.

The loss of Incirlik would be a major strategic blow to the U.S. and NATO. In July 2019, Turkey hinted they might restrict access to the base if the U.S. imposed sanctions over their purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense missile system. Turkey bought the S-400 and the U.S. retaliated by cancelling suspending Turkey’s F-35 program, losing hundreds of millions of dollars.

If the U.S. imposes new sanctions (or Trump ‘obliterates’ Turkey’s economy), what wager is the U.S. willing to lose?
posted by cenoxo at 2:41 PM on October 10 [2 favorites]

I don't know how much practical support this will translate to, but it's more than other countries are offering.

The leaders of right-wing Yemina (which split today) and the more moderate Blue and White party have been quoted as saying Israel should consider a stronger response than humanitarian relief if necessary to prevent ethnic cleansing.

I would certainly hope so, this is a "never again" situation for this American Jew and it's in Israel's neighborhood and has been brought about by the regional proxy wars that Israel has participated in.

Turkey has done this before, ask an Armenian.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:49 PM on October 10 [10 favorites]

My childhood neighbor in Billerica, MA is Armenian. His family were refugees of that genocide. The stories...I am stunned and horrified that the US is behind this.
posted by j_curiouser at 3:18 PM on October 10 [4 favorites]

the armenian genocide doesn't really display kurds in the best light.
posted by 20 year lurk at 3:40 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]

That is also true. But the Kurds are on the defensive here, and the point was that Turkey's last attempted genocide wasn't too long ago.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:45 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]

Although 49 American states recognize the “Armenian Genocide“, the United States federal government (and all relevant Presidents from Trump backwards) do not.

In 2007, Adam Schiff introduced a non-binding “Armenian Genocide Resolution”, but Turkish lobbying prevented it from reaching the House floor.
posted by cenoxo at 4:29 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]

Lindsey Graham dishes on Trump in hoax calls with Russians (Politico)
Kevin Bishop, a spokesman for Graham, confirmed the call’s authenticity to POLITICO. “We have been successful in stopping many efforts to prank Senator Graham and the office, but this one slipped through the cracks,” he said. “They got him.” [...]

In the call, Graham was primarily concerned with getting Turkey back into the F-35 program and urging the “defense minister” to refrain from using Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft weapon system, which was fully delivered to Turkey last month in defiance of requests from the U.S. and NATO.

But Graham also expressed sympathy for Turkey’s “Kurdish problem” and described the Kurds as a “threat.” Those private comments appear to contradict his public statements this week, in which he criticized Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria because it’s “wrong to abandon the Kurds, who have been strong allies against” the Islamic State.

“Your YPG Kurdish problem is a big problem,” Graham told the pranksters. He was referring to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, a group that began fighting ISIS as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces in 2015—with support from the U.S.—but is considered a terrorist group by Turkey because of its push to establish an autonomous state for the Kurds on the Turkish-Syrian border.

“I told President Trump that Obama made a huge mistake in relying on the YPG Kurds,” Graham continued. “Everything I worried about has come true, and now we have to make sure Turkey is protected from this threat in Syria. I’m sympathetic to the YPG problem, and so is the president, quite frankly.”
posted by katra at 4:45 PM on October 10

Trump under pressure to respond to Turkey’s offensive in Syria as death toll rises (WaPo)
“Some want us to send tens of thousands of soldiers to the area and start a new war all over again,” Trump said early Thursday on Twitter. “Others say STAY OUT and let the Kurds fight their own battles. I say hit Turkey very hard financially with sanctions if they don’t play by the rules.”

In a later tweet, echoed in comments to reporters as he departed for a political rally in Minneapolis, Trump altered the set of available options, saying, “Send in thousands of troops . . . hit Turkey very hard financially . . . or mediate a deal between Turkey and the Kurds.”

While one senior administration official said that sanctioning Turkey was the leading option, another said that mediation was “the path the president would most prefer to do.” Separately, a senior Trump adviser described the president as indecisive and said that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney had warned him that he was getting “boxed into a complete corner” by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. People discussing the sensitive situation did so on the condition of anonymity.

At the United Nations Security Council, both the United States and Russia, for different reasons, refused to approve a European-proposed resolution condemning Turkey’s action. Russia, whose air power has been decisive in helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad all but vanquish opposition rebels, has formed a close relationship with Turkey. [...]

The official repeated administration denials that Trump had given a “green light” to Erdogan to begin attacks against Syrian Kurdish forces that have served as the principal U.S. ally in combating the Islamic State. Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish group to be one and the same as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a Turkish group seeking autonomy that has clashed with Turkey’s government for decades.
posted by katra at 6:21 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]

Separately, a senior Trump adviser described the president as indecisive and said that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney had warned him that he was getting “boxed into a complete corner” by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

To be honest, I'm worried what Trump might take it into his head to do if he decided that he needs to make himself look tough and decisive. Bush II was at least rational, but the US still ended up in an alliance with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and invading Afghanistan in order to catch a Saudi citizen who was presently being given refuge in Pakistan.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:26 PM on October 10 [6 favorites]

"...mediate a deal between Turkey and the Kurds" screeched my mind to quivering stop, before "a deal" slowly saturated the phrase, making it just more of the same ongoing torrent of syntactically-dubious and semantically-torturous gaslit bullshit. it was the "mediate" i guess.
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:45 PM on October 10

katra: > Lindsey Graham dishes on Trump in hoax calls with Russians

Trump’s use of private cellphone raises security concerns, CNBC, May 30, 2017
President Donald Trump has been handing out his cellphone number to world leaders and urging them to call him directly, an unusual invitation that breaks diplomatic protocol and is raising concerns about the security and secrecy of the U.S. commander in chief’s communications.
‘Too inconvenient’: Trump goes rogue on phone security, Politico, 5/21/2018:
President Donald Trump uses a White House cellphone that isn’t equipped with sophisticated security features designed to shield his communications, according to two senior administration officials — a departure from the practice of his predecessors that potentially exposes him to hacking or surveillance.

The president, who relies on cellphones to reach his friends and millions of Twitter followers, has rebuffed staff efforts to strengthen security around his phone use, according to the administration officials.
The Donald wouldn't recognize an actual fake caller if they reached through his phone and tweaked his nose. Who knows if he only hears what he wants to hear (and disregards the rest), or if he really knows who's on the other end of the call?
posted by cenoxo at 10:28 PM on October 10 [5 favorites]

Taking a look back — Erdogan threats against Kurds will not stop Syria withdrawal, Pompeo says, Reuters, January 9, 2019:
The U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria will not be scuppered despite Turkish threats against Washington’s Kurdish allies there, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday, promising to ensure that the Kurds would still be protected.
Pompeo met leaders in Iraq’s capital and its semi-autonomous Kurdistan region on Wednesday, aiming to reassure them about Washington’s plans following President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement last month [December 2018] of an abrupt withdrawal from Syria.
Pompeo has the task of explaining U.S. policy in the region after Trump’s announcement of the withdrawal of all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria, which rattled allies and came as a shock to top U.S. officials. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis quit over it.
Washington has repeatedly said its Kurdish allies will remain safe despite the withdrawal. But Turkey, which considers the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG militia an enemy, has repeatedly vowed to crush the group and repudiated any suggestion of protecting it once U.S. troops leave.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan denounced visiting U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton on Tuesday for suggesting that protecting the Kurds would be a pre-condition of the U.S. withdrawal, a suggestion Erdogan called “a serious mistake”.

Asked in Erbil if Erdogan’s pushback on the protection of the Kurds puts the withdrawal at risk, Pompeo told reporters: “No. We’re having conversations with them even as we speak about how we will effectuate this in a way that protects our forces...

“It’s important that we do everything we can to make sure that those folks that fought with us are protected and Erdogan has made commitments, he understands that,” Pompeo added.
Apparently Erdogan understands how to shoot first, eliminate his enemies, and talk later (maybe: We've got your number. We'll call you, OK?). This is sound doctrine for any dictator.
posted by cenoxo at 12:01 AM on October 11 [3 favorites]

Been busy all day, lots happened! A bit too many photos of dead children for my tastes (no matter which side it is!) I’m in bed now, but I leave the thread with this and will arise early tomorrow for updates!

Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign: VIDEO SDF/QSD forces on the road to Serê Kaniyê to confront the fascist Turkish invaders blasting Rage Against the Machine to get pumped @tmorello @ZackdelaRocha @RATM bijî Kurdistan bijî RATM

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon: VIDEO Last summer. The opening of the Raqqa Women’s Council. A feeling of hope in NE #Syria that the unseen US presence helped local forces make possible. Women celebrating on the same streets where they had been bought and sold. Now, questions about tomorrow.

Business Insider: The US shared intelligence with Turkey that may have helped it target the Kurds in Syria
Two US officials told The Times that as Turkish military officials planned the assault over the past few weeks, they were provided with American surveillance video and information from reconnaissance aircraft. Information like this could prove useful in picking out targets for air strikes.
!!!!! Emily McGuire made a beautiful pamphlet detailing Kurdish resistance in Turkey and Syria, available in a .PDF posted here!!!!!

Omar Abu Layla: The SDF-held #DeirEzzor Military Council sent large reinforcements to northeastern Syria to support the SDF against the Turkish invasion.

These forces are entirely Arab and have joined the #SDF since their formation and since the beginning of the battles with #Daesh in Raqqa.

Very important to note that Rojava, while roughly 55% Kurdish, is extremely polyethnic, with Arabs, Assyrians, Circassians, Armenians, Turkmen, and even some Chechens.

International Volunteers Report: VIDEO #Kobanê vibe tonight is amazing. Even under attack they are out there dancing haha ✌

Biji berxwedana #YPG 💪#TwitterKurds #TurkeyIsNotOurFriend #StandWithTheKurds #Syria #Rojava

posted by gucci mane at 1:47 AM on October 11 [18 favorites]

20 year lurk: the armenian genocide doesn't really display kurds in the best light.

It’s good you bring this up! When people go through the YPG/YPJ academy, the Kurdish teachers teach about the Kurds’ roll in the Armenian genocide and are very up front about what happened. No whitewashing if their roll. I saw a video interview with an internationalist fighter who explained what was taught there about the Armenian genocide, I’ll try to find it later.
posted by gucci mane at 1:52 AM on October 11 [17 favorites]

The YPG is not the PKK, but here is PKK's statement on the matter from 1997, and a 1998 letter from Ocalan.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:58 AM on October 11 [4 favorites]

Turkish forces push deeper into Syria, with deaths rising (Politico)
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said 342 “terrorists” — Ankara’s term for Syrian Kurdish militiamen — have been killed so far.
Turkey said it captured more Kurdish-held villages in the border region, while a camp for displaced residents about 12 kilometers (7 miles) from the frontier was evacuated after artillery shells landed nearby amid intense clashes. [...]

Plumes of black smoke billowed Friday from the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad as Turkey continued bombarding the area in an offensive that was progressing “successfully as planned,” the Turkish Defense Ministry said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said the military intends to move 30 kilometers (19 miles) into northern Syria and that its operation will last until all “terrorists are neutralized.” [...]

The Turkish assault aims to create a corridor of control along Turkey’s border — a so-called “safe zone” — clearing out the Syrian Kurdish fighters. Such a zone would end the Kurds’ autonomy in the area and put much of their population under Turkish control. Ankara wants to settle 2 million Syrian refugees, mainly Arabs, in the zone.
posted by katra at 10:18 AM on October 11 [1 favorite]

Following up on the Kurdish Red Crescent link that gucci mane posted above -- while the body of the page is taken up with European bank account info that won't be relevant for most Mefites, there is a fully operational PayPal donation button in the top right.
posted by Not A Thing at 10:37 AM on October 11 [5 favorites]

@katra Here it comes, the plans for population restructuring. They want to eliminate a Kurdish population by expelling or killing the current residents, and then replace them or dilute them with Arabs. It's sick that the international community is permitting them to pull a Soviet-like tactic of genocide in the 21st century. Or really, this is essentially a modern revisiting of the Armenian Genocide. I'm furious. Absolutely fucking repugnant. We should have shredded them in the Treaty of Lausanne. No concessions.
posted by constantinescharity at 10:50 AM on October 11 [2 favorites]

I’d be wary of trusting casualty information from either side right now. Turkey has been known to inflate casualty counts, and the SDF has been coy with theirs while fighting is going on. I’ve been seeing wildly differing information as far as casualty counts go, so I’ve been ignoring them. Likewise, from what I can gather, a lot of the aggression right now is coming from Turkish-backed Islamist proxy militias. ISIS suicide bombers killed a few people in Qamishli, for example.

Syrian Civil War Map: VIDEO Five Islamic State fighters managed to escape from a Kurdish prison after the Turkish Army shelled the prison


I’ve seen this posted by many other officials as well.

SDF: A Vbeid targeted Munir Habib Street in #Qamishli city of NE #Syria. The neighborhood is overcrowded and reports of heavy civilian casualties.

I’d say CW for this link just to be safe. It’s a short video of the aftermath of the suicide bombing, but there’s no gore as far as I can tell. From SDF as well: As results 4 civilians killed and 9 injured.

VOA: Which Syrian Groups Are Involved in Turkey's Syria Offensive?

So it’s hard to say what Turkey’s casualties are when they can hide behind their militant jihadist groups, and hard to pinpoint what the SDF’s casualties are because they’re somewhat coy with them.
posted by gucci mane at 11:23 AM on October 11 [4 favorites]

Also, I keep seeing reports of SDF troops taking back control of villages and surrounding Turkish-backed militiamen. I think they may be having a hard time pinpointing their casualties due to the back and forth of combat.
posted by gucci mane at 11:26 AM on October 11

Mustafa Al-Ali: VIDEO please watch this short vedio for the extrimists that are being supported by Turkey to invade NE Syria, they are using the same speech as ISIS, syaing " Baqyaa- Jind Al Caliphate."

this is big threat to the minorities in NE Syria.

This may be the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army, or SNA. I’ve seen a few different videos of these guys going absolutely ape shit, rolling around in trucks and SUVs and tanks on their way into Syria.

Mutlu Civiroglu: VIDEO Video of from the CCTV of the Navkur prison in NE Syria where a mortar hit. Some ISIS suspects are fleeing while number of SDF fighters were trying to transfer them them to a safer location

I’ve also seen that this prison is in, or near, Qamishli, which was hit by an ISIS suicide attack (see above). This prison was hit by a Turkish mortar round prior to prisoners escaping. 5 of the prisoners were ISIS members, but not all of the prisoners were. No word on total number of prisoners missing.

Cehîda Dêrsim: Important statement by #SDF spox Kino Gabriel: “Turkish media claims that mortars by ours forces are being fired from Qamishlo to target civilians in Nisebin.These news are not true & are being spread to hide the Turkish massacres in Qamishlo & other cities on the border” (ANHA)

Gabriel referred to a recording by the Turkish MIT Chief Hakan Fidan from 2013.
In this recording Fidan said: “If needed, I would dispatch four men to Syria. [Then] I would have them fire eight mortar shells at the Turkish side and create an excuse for war.”

MIT is Turkish intelligence agency.
posted by gucci mane at 11:49 AM on October 11 [3 favorites]

Here is a looooooong unrolled thread from Jeff Seldin:

Brief beginning of it. It is 21 tweets total. TONS of information from SDF General Mazloum Kobani Abdi:
#SDF positions in northeastern #Syria "very weak" against #Turkey-backed forces, per #SDF Gen. Mazloum Kobani Abdi, speaking thru translator on a teleconference

He describes the situation as "frustrating...We trusted the security mechanism sponsored by the United States”
“We are now preparing ourselves for a long military operation that might take more than a year,” per #SDF Gen Abdi on #Turkey incursion in NE #Syria
“They want to attack all the Kurdish towns…they want to destroy all of our area” says #SDF Gen Abdi of #Turkey's military operation in NE #Syria, saying Turkey will turn the area into "another #Idlib"
Highly recommended read.
posted by gucci mane at 11:56 AM on October 11 [4 favorites]

Don’t want to abuse edit button:

As much as I dislike the name Make Rojava Green Again (I utterly despise every play on Trump’s slogan 🙄), their work is super important. Ecology is a major backdrop of the Rojava revolution and a huge part of Abdullah Öcalan’s political theory, heavily influenced by Murray Bookchin. It’s something that is entirely forgotten in the midst of all this.

Make Rojava Green Again: Introduction
A pillar of the revolution: Ecology

People who are alienated from nature are alienated from themselves, and are self-destructive. No system has shown this relationship more clearly than capitalist modernity; environmental destruction and ecological crises go hand in hand with oppression and exploitation of people. The feckless mentality of maximum profit has brought our planet close to the edge of the abyss, and left humanity in a whirlwind of war, hunger, and social crisis. Because of this, developing an ecological society is a pillar of the Rojava Revolution, alongside women’s liberation and a total democratization of all parts of life. This is about more than just protecting nature by limiting damage to it; it is about recreating the balance between people and nature. It is about a “renewed, conscious and enlighted unification towards a natural, organic society” (Abdullah Öcalan).

Monoculture: Colonialism against nature

The results of the capitalist mentality and state violence against society and the environment are clearly visible in Rojava; the Baath regime was and remains uninterested in an ecological society throughout all of Syria. The regime always focused on maximum resource exploitation and high agricultural production rate at the expense of environmental protection, especially in colonized West Kurdistan. Systematic deforestation made monoculture possible: wheat in Cizire Canton, olives in Afrin, and a mixture of both in Kobani have altered the landscape of Rojava. For several decades it was forbidden to plant trees and vegetables, and the population was encouraged by repressive politics and deliberate underdeveloppment of the region to migrate as cheap labour to nearby cities like Aleppo, Raqqa and Homs.

Challenging the embargo: Ecological works

The attempts of the Turkish and Syrian regimes to strangle the revolution in Rojava by military, political and economic attacks, the war against ISIS, and the embargo, supported by the South Kurdish KDP, are creating difficult circumstances for ecological projects in Rojava. Although there are many current projects, including reforestation, creation of natural reserves and environmentally-friendly waste disposal facilities, the infrastructure of the Democratic Self-Administration is still in a difficult material situation, making these goals harder to achieve. The projects of most regional committees are either just beginning or in the planning stage. The ecological revolution, within the larger revolution, is still in its infancy. It lacks environmental consciousness among the population, expert knowledge, necessary technology, and a connection to solidarity from abroad.
posted by gucci mane at 12:10 PM on October 11 [9 favorites]

Newsweek: Turkey Bombs US Special Forces in Syria Attack, Apparently by Mistake
Newsweek has learned through both an Iraqi Kurdish intelligence official and senior Pentagon official that Special Forces operating in the Mashtenour hill in the majority-Kurdish city of Kobani fell under artillery fire from Turkish forces conducting their so-called "Operation Peace Spring" against Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. but considered terrorist organizations by Turkey.

The senior Pentagon official said that Turkish forces should be aware of U.S. positions "down to the grid."
posted by mcdoublewide at 12:25 PM on October 11 [7 favorites]

Joint press conference [transcript, video, audio] with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, NATO Opinion, October 11, 2019:
QUESTION: My question is to Mr Stoltenberg. If there is any sanction decision by the US Congress against Turkey, what will NATO do? Do you have any plans, and do you also have any plans for Turkey?

JENS STOLTENBERG: I think it’s wrong if I start to speculate about hypothetical situations. What I can say is that Turkey is an important and strong NATO Ally and it is important for our collective defence, for our different missions and operations, including in the fight against terrorism. And for us it is important to have Turkey as a strong and committed Ally, because we are all safer when we stand together. And we have to remember that the progress, for instance, we have made in the fight against Daesh [WP] has been very much supported, and very much dependent on, the contributions of Turkey: Turkish forces, Turkish infrastructure, Turkish bases have been critical in the progress we have made together in fighting terrorism, especially the fight against Daesh.

So, what is also reflected by the fact that this is my second visit to Turkey this year and I visited Turkey many times as Secretary General, highlights also the importance of Turkey as an Alliance . . . as an Ally in the . . . in the NATO Alliance. And therefore, I appreciate the many ways Turkey can contribute to our collective defence and our Alliance in NATO.
Legally speaking, the NATO treaty does not require the U.S. to “automatically” use force to defend allies, LawFire, Charlie Dunlap, July 21, 2016:
...allow me to answer this question: as a matter of law, does the NATO treaty “automatically” require the U.S. use force to defend a NATO ally? The short answer is “no.”

Here’s what Article 5 to the NATO treaty provides:
The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
The crucial point is that the response to an “armed attack” that a NATO member owes to a NATO ally is simply whatever “it deems necessary.” NATO itself provides an explanation that illustrates that the U.S. has always resisted the notion of an “automatic” obligation:
At the drafting of Article 5 in the late 1940s, there was consensus on the principle of mutual assistance, but fundamental disagreement on the modalities of implementing this commitment. The European participants wanted to ensure that the United States would automatically come to their assistance should one of the signatories come under attack; the United States did not want to make such a pledge and obtained that this be reflected in the wording of Article 5. (Italics added.)
Importantly, Article 5 should not be read in isolation from Article 11 which states that “the Treaty shall be ratified and its provisions carried out by the Parties in accordance with their respective constitutional processes. (Italics added.) Following the Paris terrorist attacks last November [2015], Hofstra’s Professor Julian Ku referenced Article 11’s acknowledgement of the need for countries to adhere to their “respective constitutional processes” and observed this about the relationship of U.S. domestic law to the NATO Treaty:
If you are someone who believes that Congress must authorize the use of force by the President in most cases, [then] this language would mean that the President has to go back to Congress. This might actually happen. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush actually called for a “declaration of war on [ISIS]” today. Of course, if you believe (as I do) that the President has independent constitutional authority to use military force without Congress in most circumstances, than all Article XI does not limit the President much.
The key is that the NATO Treaty neither obviates the need to find domestic U.S. legal authority to use force, nor forecloses a decision not to use force at all....
“Everything in war is very simple. But the simplest thing is difficult.” – Carl von Clausewitz
posted by cenoxo at 1:30 PM on October 11 [6 favorites]

Now I see why Paradox named their engine after him.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 1:37 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]

Brett McGurk: Turkish forces have fired on a declared U.S. military outpost in northern Syria. Turkey knows all of our locations down to the precise grid coordinate as confirmed by SECDEF and CJCS only two hours ago. This was not a mistake.

I’m seeing conflicting reports about whether or not US forces fired back. Also have seen reports about French soldiers being attacked but can’t verify currently.
posted by gucci mane at 1:45 PM on October 11 [4 favorites]

Now I see why Paradox named their engine after him.

Also, to paraphrase Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.” applies to about every human enterprise during war or peace.
posted by cenoxo at 2:46 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]

Isis militants break out of prison in Syria after bombing by Turkey (Independent)
Five Isis militants have broken out of a prison in northern Syria after Turkish shelling nearby, a spokesman in the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has said. The detainees escaped from a prison in Qamishli city, Marvan Qamishlo said.
posted by katra at 4:15 PM on October 11

Trump Talks Tough with Journalists but Lets Real Strongmen like Turkey’s Erdogan Walk All Over Him, Informed Comment, Juan Cole, October 7, 2019 – in which the author proclaims less than admiration for The Donald.
posted by cenoxo at 5:57 PM on October 11

Previously > ...why is Fox News publishing [Trump-critical] stories like this now?

Are Fox News and rightwing media making plans for a post-Trump future? Some Fox anchors have become more stridently critical of Trump following the revelations of the impeachment inquiryThe Guardian, Luke O’Neil, October 11, 2019.

Hat tip: katra (in the ITMFA discussion).
posted by cenoxo at 7:08 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]

From Mutlu Civiroglu: Going to put a big content watching on this one. This is a very hard video to watch. I have no words to write to this tweet as I speechless after receiving this video from Syria 😔

Mahmoud Bali: PHOTO US military soldiers in northern Syria feel shame

Wladimir: Reports co-head of Syrian Future Party Hevrin Khalaf killed on the road by Turkish artillery strike. I am trying to get more info. She was a very strong female politician. I interviewed her once in Ain al Issa.

ANF News: SDF discloses the names of seven fighters who fell in battle
The SDF fighters marked a historic resistance against the invading Turkish army and mercenaries.

Wladimir: Another video showing ISIS members attempting to break out of prisons. Most likely near Qamishli or Hasakah. Turkish attacks are helping ISIS to escape.

Caki: What SDF is up against: ISIS cells are active all over, hitting checkpoints, home invasions, ambushes, car bombs, the ISIS prisoners believe they gonna be freed. Then you have Turkey airstrikes and artillery, Jihadist attacks, looting, civilian deaths

On Assignment with Richard Engel: VIDEO .@RichardEngel is on the frontlines of #Turkey's assault in #northern Syria. The Kurds fear that Turkey wants to clear the region and resettle it with Arab refugees who support Turkey. @NBCNightlyNews

I think the issue of Turkish-backed militias and the ISIS resurgence is really understated. There were SDF operations against ISIS sleeper cells, but the region was extremely peaceful for the time being. Now, all of a sudden you’re seeing ISIS suicide bombings coordinated with the Turkish-back militias, and that’s before they have the additional 12,000 prisoners. This is a massive destabilization, and a resurgence of one of the world’s most terrifying terrorist armies. Besides a genocide against the Kurds and Arabs and other people in the area, there’s no telling what this will bring.
posted by gucci mane at 7:36 AM on October 12 [10 favorites]

Via Business Insider The US shared intelligence with Turkey that may have helped it target the Kurds in Syria.
posted by adamvasco at 8:13 AM on October 12 [3 favorites]

Information Regarding The Attacks By The Invading Turkish Army On Northern Syria On October 11th.

There are videos sprouting up of Turkish-backed militants executing people on the international freeway M4, the same one that the Hevrin Khalaf was killed in. I’ve seen reports that she and her driver were executed and there are photos of their SUV, but I cannot confirm. The videos being released now are either of civilians or SDF fighters being executed, but it’s not known.

SDF ~6 hours ago: #SDF regain control over the international road M4, after clashes with Turkey-backed armed group, who infiltrated the area and killed some civilians.

This was tweeted AFTER the attacks so I’m under the presumption that the freeway has been secured, but am not sure if the videos I’m seeing are of civilians being executed or SDF fighters. Either way, Turkish-back militias have been executing people on the freeway.
posted by gucci mane at 9:56 AM on October 12 [2 favorites]

Right after I posted that this popped up:

CONTENT WARNING There’s no death or gore in this video but I just want to be safe.

Wladimir: VIDEO New info: SDC statement mentions she was summarily executed on the street by Turkish-backed group. Most likely Ahrar al-Sharqiy is behind the crime. In a video you can hear a female voice (most likely Hevrin 12-15 sec ) saying "he is the party's driver."

Official press release from the Syrian Democratic Council: It is with great sorrow and sadness to receive the news of the martyrdom of the Secretary General of the Future Syria Party, Hevrin Khalaf on the morning of October 12, 2019. She was taken out of her car during a Turkish-backed attack and executed by Turkish backed mercenary factions on the International Road between Qamishlo and Manbij, where her driver who was also martyred.
This is a clear evidence that the Turkish state is continuing its criminal policy towards unarmed civilians. Professor Hevrin Khalaf, was the Secretary General of the Future Syria Party, a party with a political orientation towards Syria in general, is far from military agendas, equally approaches all Syrian parties since the past one and a half years to establish a pluralistic society that Syria lacked; it gives hope to all Syrians that the Future Syria Party is for a new, democratic, pluralistic and decentralized Syria.
Hevrin Khalaf, Secretary General of the Future Syria Party, born in Derik 1984, graduated from the Faculty of Civil Engineering in 2009 and had a prominent role in creating a comprehensive Syrian case that gives hope to all Syrians through her new party, amid the sectarian divisions that have ravaged Syria, and amid international and regional policies that plan for Syria in accordance with their interests, which made the Syrians lose hope for the future of a united and democratic Syria considering that chaos and crisis was spreading throughout the country.
Leading figures appear during the times of crises and difficulties in order to find a solution and lead the ship amidst crashing waves towards safety. Martyr Hevrin represented that character who was responsible for facing all external, regional and internal challenges, promising the Syrian people a bright future, a future of coexistence and brotherhood of peoples rather than the ethnic and sectarian divisions that many regional actors and forces have worked on since the beginning of the crisis.
By targeting the Secretary General of the Future Syria Party and a member of the Presidential Council of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC/MSD), it shows that those who rely on war and destruction, led by Turkey, are still determined in their aggressive criminal policies by spreading chaos in the region which was considered the most secure and stable area in Syria, leading to the revival of spirit in the body of terrorist organizations that was defeated as ISIS.
We call on the international community, the United Nations and the European Union to hold the Turkish state and affiliated factions accountable for the brutal massacres in northern and eastern Syria as they did in Afrin. Targeting the Secretary General of the Future Syria Party, engineer Hevrin Khalaf, is another proof of their past criminal policy of committing massacres against unarmed civilians.
We also pledge to martyr Hevrin Khalaf that we shall continuea her path to achieve the goals for which she fought for; a democratic, pluralistic, decentralized and united Syria.
posted by gucci mane at 10:01 AM on October 12 [14 favorites]

Realize that our troop presence was extremely small in this part of Syria, just enough to keep Turkey from attacking the Kurds out of fear they would be symbolically also attacking the U.S. In return for our extremely small presence, the Kurds were fighting ISIS and keeping watch over thousands more prisoners.

Considering the cost of maintaining this presence was minimal in return for huge rewards, what possible justification was there for removing them? Do any of Trump's rationales make any sense at all?
posted by xammerboy at 11:04 AM on October 12 [2 favorites]

Mattis: ISIS will surge back after Trump's Syria withdrawal (Politico)
"I think Secretary of State Pompeo, the intelligence services, the foreign countries that are working with us have it about right that ISIS is not defeated. We have got to keep the pressure on ISIS so they don't recover," Mattis said in an interview on NBC News' "Meet the Press" set to air Sunday. [...] "You can pull your troops out, as President Obama learned the hard way, out of Iraq but the 'enemy gets the vote' as we say in the military. And in this case, if we don't keep the pressure on then ISIS will resurge. It's, it's absolutely a given that they will come back," Mattis continued.
posted by katra at 3:15 PM on October 12

I’m seeing this posted around with photos of the same people just in different points of view so I’m thinking it’s legit. Hoping for more details.

Cahîda Dêrsim: Important statement: #Arab tribes from Northern and Eastern Syria have declared their support for the SDF & said that they will send 50K fighters to the border areas to fight alongside the #SDF against the invading Turkish army (ANHA)
posted by gucci mane at 4:47 PM on October 12 [3 favorites]

U.S. forces say Turkey was deliberately ‘bracketing’ American troops with artillery fire in Syria (WaPo)
Turkish forces who launched multiple artillery rounds near a U.S. Special Operations outpost in northeastern Syria on Friday have known for months that Americans were there, according to four current and former U.S. officials, raising questions whether Turkey is trying to push American troops farther from the border. [...] The incursion has focused on an area 60 miles to the west of Kobane, but U.S. officials believe Turkey has long-term aspirations to control a much larger swath of Syria. [...]

Turkey appears to have aspirations to push the United States away from Kobane, as well, several officials said. The Army officer with knowledge of Syria said that Turkish forces previously have launched artillery over the border near U.S. forces.
posted by katra at 7:10 PM on October 12 [2 favorites]

I am against Trump, Erdogan, and genocide. But ISIS does not matter and should not drive US foreign policy.
posted by great_radio at 7:56 PM on October 12

posted by gucci mane at 8:27 PM on October 12 [11 favorites]

isis = genocide &c.; erdoğan doesn't mind isis & craves a particular genocide; that other fucker doesn't mind genocide. q.e.d.
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:24 PM on October 12 [2 favorites]

Trump’s Abrupt Shifts in Middle East Unnerve U.S. Allies (NYT)
Critics say that Mr. Trump’s zigzagging policies have emboldened regional foes, unnerved American partners, and invited Russia and various regional players to seek to exert their influence.

“It is chaos,” said Michael Stephens, a scholar of the region at the Royal United Services Institute in London. “The region is in chaos because the hegemonic power does not seem to know what it wants to do, and so nobody else does.”

Even in Britain, which customarily keeps its Middle East policies tightly aligned with its superpower ally, “nobody knows what to do any more, because you don’t know what is coming next,” Mr. Stephens said. “Donald Trump is pouring gasoline on the fire and leaving a lot of us very confused.” [...]

As soon as Mr. Trump moved the fewer than a hundred American troops from a border area, Turkey unleashed its cross border assault on Wednesday. By Friday, there was evidence that ISIS was already attempting to regroup amid the chaos. Five militants had escaped from a Kurdish-run prison and ISIS claimed responsibility for a bombing in a provincial capital.
Trump defends decision to pull U.S. forces as Turkey continues military offensive against Kurds in northern Syria (WaPo)
In a tweet, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Tex.) seized on the president’s complaint about the United States being stuck in an “endless war.”

“Situation when we were there: relative peace. We leave: -Turkey attacks our Kurdish allies -shoots artillery at US troops -bombs a prison where ISIS fighters already escaped. -ISIS car bomb in Qamishli. That’s just day one. Which scenario looks more like an endless war?” Crenshaw said.
posted by katra at 10:12 PM on October 12 [5 favorites]

Bill Neely: BREAKING As chaos envelopes N. Syria, hundreds of ISIS affiliated women escape from camp, executions of Kurds, 210,000 people fleeing, US announces 1,000 troops will evacuate in a "deliberate withdrawal..as safely & quickly as possible" (US Def. Sec. Mark Esper)

Baderkhan Ahmad: Now in #Qamishli city, #injuries coming from Ras Al Ain to Qamishli city.
Injured people are from the Turkish #airstrike.

Hisham Arafat: VIDEO "They ended my family, kill me please,
I have lost my three children," a civilian from #Serekaniye/#RasAlAin tells what Turkish airstrikes did.

New York Post: Hundreds of Islamic State followers escaped after storming the gates of a detention camp in northern Syria on Sunday after Turkish forces shelled the region – and Kurdish fighters warned more mass breakouts are likely as Turkey continues pressing its military assault.

Kurdistan 24 News: The Turkish military and allied Syrian armed groups it backs have been targeting hospitals, medical clinics, and ambulances since the beginning of their assault on northern Syria, and on Sunday abducted an emergency medical rescue team, according to a local Kurdish health organization.

“This morning, two ambulances that were heading to Tal Abyad to rescue the wounded were kidnapped with the team,” Kurdish Red Crescent (KRC) said in a statement.

“We do not yet know the fate of the four[-member] crew,” it continued. “And Due to the attack near Ain Issa camp, IDPs, including a large [number] of ISIS families, left.”


Mutlu Civiroglu: Horrifying video from a civilian convoy hit near Ras al-Ain N. Syria. Tried to blur it quickly because it’s hard to warch.

It’s been confirmed that this convoy was carrying journalists, at least one of whom is dead now.

Content Warning:
North Press Agency: Large number of injured civilians arrived at Tal Tamr Hospital
They were hit by Turkish airstrikes while heading as a civilian convoy from Jazira to Ras al-Ain.

North-Press reporter in Hasakah "Journalist Delosoz Yousef" is among the injured civilian

posted by gucci mane at 8:02 AM on October 13 [5 favorites]

U.S. "preparing to evacuate" remaining troops from northern Syria, defense secretary says (CBS News)
The U.S. is "preparing to evacuate" about 1,000 U.S. troops from northern Syria "as safely and quickly as possible," Defense Secretary Mark Esper told "Face the Nation" in an interview Sunday. [...] "In the last 24 hours, we learned that [the Turks] likely intend to extend their attack further south than originally planned, and to the west," Esper said. "We also have learned in the last 24 hours that the ... SDF are looking to cut a deal, if you will, with the Syrians and the Russians to counterattack against the Turks in the north."

Esper told "Face the Nation" the troops remaining in the country were caught between Turkish forces and the SDF. According to the United Nations, more than 100,000 internally displaced people are fleeing the violence.

"And so we find ourselves, we have American forces likely caught between two opposing advancing armies, and it's a very untenable situation," Esper said. "So I spoke with the president last night, after discussions with the rest of the national security team, and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria."

Asked if the U.S. had the authority to return fire, Esper said U.S. troops "have the right to self defense and we will execute it if necessary."
posted by katra at 8:39 AM on October 13 [2 favorites]

Exclusive: Military leader of Syrian Kurds tells US 'you are leaving us to be slaughtered' (CNN)
The commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces told a senior US diplomat, "You are leaving us to be slaughtered," demanding to know whether the US is going to do anything to protect Syrian Kurds as Turkey continues its military operation targeting America's Kurdish allies in Syria. "You have given up on us. You are leaving us to be slaughtered," Gen. Mazloum Kobani Abdi told the Deputy Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, William Roebuck, in a meeting Thursday, according to an internal US government readout that has been obtained exclusively by CNN.

"You are not willing to protect the people, but you do not want another force to come and protect us. You have sold us. This is immoral," Mazloum added. He insisted the US either help stop the Turkish attack or allow the Syrian Democratic Forces to strike a deal with the Assad regime in Damascus and their Russian backers, allowing Russian warplanes to enforce a no-fly zone over northeast Syria, thereby denying Turkey the ability to carry out airstrikes. The US does not want the Kurds turning to the Russians, administration officials say.
posted by katra at 8:46 AM on October 13 [2 favorites]

This is sickening and horrifying. Pelosi should hold a press conference. I want her to say something like:

This president is guilty of crimes against humanity. He has abandoned our allies in our fight against terrorism, setting tens of thousands of terrorists free. These freed terrorists are now slaughtering innocent civilians, including children. The president did this knowingly. This slaughter was not just predictable, but inevitable according to all military advisors. His actions will make the entire world vulnerable to terrorism for possibly generations to come. As of today, the president alone is responsible for this genocide. If we, as a country, do not remove him now, then history will hold all of us rightly responsible for his crimes.
posted by xammerboy at 9:29 AM on October 13 [17 favorites]

Breaking news: it appears the Syrian government forces are preparing to enter Kobani to fight against Turkey + Turkish-backer militias in a deal brokered with the SDF.

North Press Agency: "The Syrian Governmental Forces (SAA) are preparing to enter the region of Kobani today, based on an agreement with the Syrian Democratic Forces",
According to Mohammed Shaheen, the deputy chairman of Euphrates region told North-Press

No idea how this will play out.
posted by gucci mane at 9:53 AM on October 13 [6 favorites]

Mazloum Kobani Abdi, the Commander-in-Chief of the SDF, has an article out on Foreign Policy, but it’s behind a paywall. I guess the gist of it is this:

Syrian Civil War Map with the quote: Mazlum Kobani (Commander-in-chief of the SDF): "We know that we would have to make painful compromises with Moscow and Assad. But if we have to choose between compromises and the genocide of our people, we will surely choose life for our people."
posted by gucci mane at 12:11 PM on October 13 [9 favorites]

I'm a little disturbed by the cavalier usage of the term genocide. Most conflicts involve ethnic or religious entities but we don't call them all genocide. Genocide is a deliberately inflammatory term.

I am also wary of "atrocity propaganda." Public relations is an integral part of warfare and atrocity reports should be taken with a grain of salt until verified by independent sources. For example reports of Uday and Qusay feeding people into wood chippers and Iraqis throwing babies out of incubators were testified under oath in the US congress and later debunked as false.

Maybe my having lived through many of decades of warfare has made me cynical.
posted by JackFlash at 12:57 PM on October 13 [3 favorites]

Worst case scenario, if we refer to this mass killing of the Kurdish ethnic group as a 'genocide' even though it may not strictly meet the requirements for that term as proposed by some academics:
  • we bring more attention to an ongoing crime against humanity
  • public outcry helps bring international pressure to bear to save some lives
  • some cynical folks worry that we're being deliberately inflammatory
Best case scenario, if we worry more about whether describing this mass killing of Kurds using this term or that term might be more/less appropriate or more/less inflammatory:
  • we can feel good about having appropriately categorized and labeled this atrocity as something terrible but not strictly meeting the definition of genocide
  • we have sagely avoided using such a inflammatory word and the tenor of our wise discourse is thus improved
Worst case scenario, if we worry more about whether describing this mass killing of Kurds using this term or that term might be more/less appropriate or more/less inflammatory:
  • genocide
While your measured concern is noted, I'm going to go ahead and (perhaps cavalierly) stick with 'genocide' for now.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 1:34 PM on October 13 [18 favorites]

all many decades of warfare has made some people is dead, jackflash - and they will continue to be dead in spite of your cynicism
posted by pyramid termite at 1:37 PM on October 13 [3 favorites]

They are already pulling civilians out of their cars and killing them; I'm comfortable with using the word genocide at this time.
posted by Mitheral at 2:13 PM on October 13 [11 favorites]

Metafilter continues it’s tradition of having contrarian pedants question everything while the thread literally has links to video of dead civilians and pools of blood running in the streets. Thank you to the people who are posting news here, it’s embarrassing and shameful that my country isn’t stopping this GENOCIDE.
posted by Drumhellz at 3:28 PM on October 13 [22 favorites]

Thanks ActingTheGoat, I was just going to post an excerpt from that section, which unfortunately I I had to read very recently about another conflict that is very close to home.
posted by unearthed at 4:45 PM on October 13

I'm a little disturbed by the cavalier usage of the term genocide.

Fuck! Sorry to hear you're disturbed! Are you okay?
posted by Greg Nog at 4:58 PM on October 13 [27 favorites]

Just months ago the Kurds were involved in military operations with the stated goal of "extermination" of ISIL, a religious group. Over 20,000 ISIL soldiers and civilians were killed.

From the UN Convention cited above:
Killing members of the group - yes
Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group - yes
Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or part - yes

Dead civilians and blood running in the street - pretty much every war

Was that genocide?

If you want to call this current war genocide, go right ahead. To me it looks like another of many religious and ethnic wars in the Middle East.
posted by JackFlash at 5:28 PM on October 13

Technically, was it really a Holocaust if all the Jews weren't killed?

I kid, JackFlash. I think using genocide is appropriate here, because as far as I can tell that's the stated goal of Turkey and/or ISIS. They've said they will genocide. We're seeing what looks like the start of a genocide. We can still stop a genocide.
posted by xammerboy at 5:29 PM on October 13

gucci mane > Mazloum Kobani Abdi, the Commander-in-Chief of the SDF, has an article out on Foreign Policy, but it’s behind a paywall.

Try this link: If We Have to Choose Between Compromise and Genocide, We Will Choose Our People, Foreign Policy, Mazloum Abdi, October 13, 2019. The Kurds’ commander in chief explains why his forces are finally ready to partner with Assad and Putin.
posted by cenoxo at 5:36 PM on October 13 [4 favorites]

ISIL the terrorist organization the U.N. has declared guilty of crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, human rights abuses, and war crimes? That religious group?
posted by xammerboy at 5:40 PM on October 13 [5 favorites]

If that link doesn’t work, here’s the article text:
If We have to Choose Between Compromise and Genocide, We Will Choose Our People
Foreign Policy, Mazloum Abdi, October 13, 2019

The world first heard of us, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), amid the chaos of our country’s civil war. I serve as our commander in chief. The SDF has 70,000 soldiers who have fought against jihadi extremism, ethnic hatred, and the oppression of women since 2015. They have become a very disciplined, professional fighting force. They never fired a single bullet toward Turkey. U.S. soldiers and officers now know us well and always praise our effectiveness and skill.

I have always told our forces, this war is ours! The jihadi terrorists of the Islamic State came to Syria from all over the world. We are the ones who should fight them, because they have occupied our lands, looted our villages, killed our children, and enslaved our women.

We lost 11,000 soldiers, some of our best fighters and commanders, to rescue our people from this grave danger. I have also always instructed our forces that the Americans and other allied forces are our partners, and so we should always make sure that they are not harmed.

Amid the lawlessness of war, we always stuck with our ethics and discipline, unlike many other nonstate actors. We defeated al Qaeda, we eradicated the Islamic State, and, at the same time, we built a system of good governance based on small government, pluralism, and diversity. We provided services through local governing authorities for Arabs, Kurds, and Syriac Christians. We called on a pluralistic Syrian national identity that is inclusive for all. This is our vision for Syria’s political future: decentralized federalism, with religious freedom and respect for mutual differences.

The forces that I command are now dedicated to protecting one-third of Syria against an invasion by Turkey and its jihadi mercenaries. The area of Syria we defend has been a safe refuge for people who survived genocides and ethnic cleansings committed by Turkey against the Kurds, Syriacs, Assyrians, and Armenians during the last two centuries.

We guard more than 12,000 Islamic State terrorist prisoners and bear the burden of their radicalized wives and children. We also protect this part of Syria from Iranian militias.

When the whole world failed to support us, the United States extended its hands. We shook hands and appreciated its generous support. At Washington’s request, we agreed to withdraw our heavy weapons from the border area with Turkey, destroy our defensive fortifications, and pull back our most seasoned fighters. Turkey would never attack us so long as the U.S. government was true to its word with us.

We are now standing with our chests bare to face the Turkish knives.

President Donald Trump has been promising for a long time to withdraw U.S. troops. We understand and sympathize. Fathers want to see their children laughing on their laps, lovers want to hear the voices of their partners whispering to them, everyone wants to go back to their homes.

We, however, are not asking for American soldiers to be in combat. We know that the United States is not the world police. But we do want the United States to acknowledge its important role in achieving a political solution for Syria. We are sure that Washington has sufficient leverage to mediate a sustainable peace between us and Turkey.

We believe in democracy as a core concept, but in light of the invasion by Turkey and the existential threat its attack poses for our people, we may have to reconsider our alliances. The Russians and the Syrian regime have made proposals that could save the lives of millions of people who live under our protection. We do not trust their promises. To be honest, it is hard to know whom to trust.

What’s clear is that the threat of the Islamic State is still present in a network of sleeper cells capable of mounting an insurgency. The large number of Islamic State prisoners in inadequate confinement are like a ticking time bomb that might explode at any time.

We know that we would have to make painful compromises with Moscow and Bashar al-Assad if we go down the road of working with them. But if we have to choose between compromises and the genocide of our people, we will surely choose life for our people.

Syria has two options: a religious sectarian and ethnic bloody war if the United States leaves without reaching a political solution, or a safe and stable future—but only if the United States uses its power and leverage to reach an agreement before it withdraws.

The reason we allied ourselves with the United States is our core belief in democracy. We are disappointed and frustrated by the current crisis. Our people are under attack, and their safety is our paramount concern. Two questions remain: How can we best protect our people? And is the United States still our ally?

Mazloum Abdi is the commander in chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces.
posted by cenoxo at 5:51 PM on October 13 [19 favorites]

This is so low I don’t even know what to say 🤦🏻‍♂️

Calling ISIS a “religious group” is probably one of the most insulting things you can say about a religion that hosts roughly 25% of the entire Earth’s population. ISIS went on a killing spree across Iraq and Syria, destroying cultural sites and wiping out minority groups (and yes, mostly killing Muslims). There’s a reason why a lot of people call them Daesh, which is a rough version of the Arabic words daes, meaning “one who crushes something underfoot”, and dahis, which means “one who sows discord”. They are a religious group IN NAME ONLY. If you actually read into ISIS you’ll find that, more than anything, they are just a massively violent doomsday cult, who believe the final battle will be fought in Syria. They are an outlier when compared to other militant Islamic groups, to such a degree that they may as well simply be considered a doomsday cult. Their entire modus operandi isn’t to create an Islamic state and then call it a day, it’s to bring about the end times in conjunction with their extremist jurisprudence beliefs.

You can do your own research and figure out why the Kurds and Arabs and Yazidis and Christians and everybody else are afraid for their lives. These people were butchered by ISIS and other militant groups. I shouldn’t have to post videos of beheadings in here to convince anybody as to why this group is bad.

Genocide of Yazidis by ISIL
Genocide of Shias by ISIL
Persecution of Christians by ISIL
Mass executions in ISIL-occupied Mosul
posted by gucci mane at 6:16 PM on October 13 [27 favorites]

Does it have to be said that this is — or should be — a major political disaster for Donald Trump, and a serious blow to the international credibility of the United States?
posted by cenoxo at 6:30 PM on October 13 [2 favorites]

Ideas Beyond Borders is an organization devoted to getting anything and everything possible translated into Arabic and Kurdish. It was founded by an Iraqi refugee in the states and is made up mostly of students and alums of the University of Mosul, that is, survivors of the ISIL occupation there.

A lot of them are still in Mosul, And still going at it. These people are the reason the Arabic Wikipedia is now larger than the Hebrew one. That won't win them any favor with ISIL if they return.
posted by ocschwar at 7:12 PM on October 13 [7 favorites]

Meanwhile as 1000 US troops are withdrawn from Syria;
US to deploy 3,000 additional troops to Saudi Arabia
So all this withdrawing from the region is just more bullshit.
posted by adamvasco at 7:57 PM on October 13 [3 favorites]

Trump bragged at one of his press things about how they were sending those new troops to Saudi Arabia because the kingdom had agreed to pay all the expenses... as if that's somehow a good thing.

I mean, we have a good word for groups of soldiers who are available for whomever is willing to pay for them, and one would like to think that US forces are not simply mercenaries.


Maybe that always been the case, but I'm sure the rank and file won't like having their noses rubbed in it so blatantly.
posted by bcd at 9:27 PM on October 13 [3 favorites]

American troops in Saudi Arabia was literally one of the motives for the 9/11 attacks.

That was 5,000 troops, though.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:37 PM on October 13 [4 favorites]

All US Troops Pulling Out of Northern Syria After Turkish Fire on Special Forces, Military.com, Richard Sisk, October 13, 2019:
The additional withdrawal was ordered by President Donald Trump after discussions Saturday night, [Defense Secretary Mark] Esper said. U.S. troops last week had already withdrawn from areas of northeastern Syria initially targeted by the Turks.

"So I spoke with the president last night after discussions with the rest of the national security team and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria," Esper said.

Esper also said the withdrawal was being ordered out of concern that U.S. troops could be caught up in crossfire should the SDF follow through on warnings that they might join up with Russia and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Esper said U.S. intelligence had learned in the last 24 hours that SDF commanders, feeling abandoned by the U.S., "are looking to cut a deal, if you will, with the Syrians and the Russians to counter-attack against the Turks in the north."

Trump appeared to dismiss concerns that the SDF would join up with the Russians and the Syrian Army against the Turks.

"The Kurds and Turkey have been fighting for many years," Trump said in a tweet, referring to the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) and its alleged links to the SDF. "Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other. Let them! We are monitoring the situation closely."

In another tweet, Trump said he was working with Congress on the possibility of "imposing powerful Sanctions on Turkey. Treasury is ready to go, additional legislation may be sought."
posted by cenoxo at 10:50 PM on October 13 [4 favorites]

I honestly don't get our actions. Trump talks about throwing Turkey under the bus for the genocide of the Kurds but at the same time we're shelling the SAA. What the fuck is going on?
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:53 AM on October 14 [1 favorite]

Non-zero chance of US personnel engaging in mutiny at this point.
posted by ocschwar at 5:20 AM on October 14 [1 favorite]

Was the real point of this to have the US get Turkey kicked out of NATO?
posted by benzenedream at 8:04 AM on October 14 [2 favorites]

The real point was to get Erdogan to stop yelling at Trump on the phone.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:17 AM on October 14 [15 favorites]

Are you happy now, Trump supporters? WaPo opinion
I'm so sad about all of this, it is unbearable. And in the general chaos of Trumpism, it barely gets noticed.
posted by mumimor at 10:12 AM on October 14 [3 favorites]

US Troop Morale at Risk Amid Withdrawal from Northern Syria, Mattis Says, Military.com, Richard Sisk, 10/14/2019
Former SecDef Weighs in on Syria, Turkey and Mattis' Departure, Military.com, Richard Sisk, 10/14/2019
Trump Says He's an 'Island of One' on Syria, Military.com, Darlene Superville (AP), 10/14/2019
posted by cenoxo at 10:46 AM on October 14 [1 favorite]

US nuclear bombs at Turkish airbase complicate rift over Syria invasion.
An estimated 50 nuclear bombs stored at a US airbase in Turkey have become potential bargaining chips in the tense relationship between Washington and Ankara in the wake of the Turkish offensive into Syria.
posted by adamvasco at 1:01 PM on October 14 [5 favorites]

And once again we're all held hostage by people whose brains still think it's 1978.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:26 PM on October 14 [4 favorites]

Trump’s Worst Betrayal Yet (Fred Kaplan, Slate)
By turning his back on the Kurds, the president has done irreparable damage to America’s standing in the world. That’s by design.
Utterly clueless.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:34 PM on October 14 [1 favorite]

MSN: BREAKING NEWS: Trump says 1,000 US troops to stay in Syria, raises steel tariffs against Turkey. Details to come.

Trump Followed His Gut on Syria. Calamity Came Fast. (NYT)
At the Pentagon, officials struggled with the right response if Turkish forces — NATO allies — again opened fire on any of the 1,000 or so Americans now preparing to retreat from their positions inside Syria. Those troops are trapped for now, since Turkey has cut off the roads; removing them may require an airlift.

And over the weekend, State and Energy Department officials were quietly reviewing plans for evacuating roughly 50 tactical nuclear weapons that the United States had long stored, under American control, at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, about 250 miles from the Syrian border, according to two American officials.

Those weapons, one senior official said, were now essentially Erdogan’s hostages. To fly them out of Incirlik would be to mark the de facto end of the Turkish-American alliance. To keep them there, though, is to perpetuate a nuclear vulnerability that should have been eliminated years ago.
posted by katra at 1:35 PM on October 14 [1 favorite]

2019 October 6th: Turkish President Erdoğan accepts Trump invitation to visit White House (Ursula Perano, Axios)
Erdoğan accepted the invitation during a call with Trump in which the Turkish president expressed dissatisfaction over the U.S military's apparent failure to implement a safe zone agreement in northeast Syria. Erdogan wants the safe zone to be established to eliminate threats from the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which is supported by the U.S. but considered a terrorist organization by Turkey.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:47 PM on October 14 [2 favorites]

An estimated 50 nuclear bombs stored at a US airbase in Turkey

American nukes in Turkey? What could possibly go wrong?
posted by kirkaracha at 1:57 PM on October 14 [2 favorites]

Guardian: Trump’s statement mentions that the executive order authorizing sanctions on Turkey could bar Turkish officials from entering the United States. [...]
Kevin Liptak (@Kevinliptakcnn) Trump's statement says possible sanctions against Turkish officials will include "barring entry into the United States" -- yet shortly after the phone call where Erdogan told him he'd be invading Syria, Trump invited him to the White House in November. Unclear if that's still on. October 14, 2019
Guardian: Mnuchin said at the White House that Trump was prepared to enact sanctions but made clear he was not yet doing so. The treasury secretary said: “These are very powerful sanctions. We hope we don’t have to use them. But we can shut down the Turkish economy if we need to.” Critics of Trump’s handling of the Syria situation complained that the conditional sanctions were meaningless and would only serve to embolden President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
posted by katra at 2:01 PM on October 14 [1 favorite]

Jesus fuck, he's going to reverse course and try to claim he's the savior of the Kurds isn't he? He's gotten dozens, possibly hundreds, of people killed and thousands to tens of thousands displaced and fleeing, and he's going to reverse course and try to treat the suffering and the dead as props for making him look awesome.
posted by sotonohito at 2:22 PM on October 14 [3 favorites]

Jesus fuck, he's going to reverse course and try to claim he's the savior of the Kurds isn't he?

Doesn't sound like it, based on his recent tweets. (via Guardian)
After defeating 100% of the ISIS Caliphate, I largely moved our troops out of Syria. Let Syria and Assad protect the Kurds and fight Turkey for their own land. I said to my Generals, why should we be fighting for Syria....
....and Assad to protect the land of our enemy? Anyone who wants to assist Syria in protecting the Kurds is good with me, whether it is Russia, China, or Napoleon Bonaparte. I hope they all do great, we are 7,000 miles away!
posted by katra at 2:36 PM on October 14 [1 favorite]

He can't make up his mind.

He completely fucked everything up. By now, behind closed doors, I imagine at least someone has explained in very simple terms the sheer scale of how badly he has fucked up--unleashing a genocide, blatant betrayal of an ally, looking weak, and oh yeah that whole thing where we have to wonder if Turkey really is a legitimate NATO ally at this point and that's on Trump's watch.

But changing course would be an acknowledgment of his fucking up. It would also likely make Putin unhappy. And everything in Trump's performance as president* so far says he is terrified of taking any sort of military actions, because as we've seen he'll fuck them all up. I really don't think he's made up his mind, and I don't know if he can.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:50 PM on October 14 [8 favorites]

He completely fucked everything up.

not yet - he's still got to figure out how to get a thousand u s troops out of syria and 50 u s nukes out of turkey
posted by pyramid termite at 3:35 PM on October 14 [3 favorites]

More about Incirlik Air Base (WP). Since 1954, Incirlik has been a strategic hub for U.S. Air Force, Turkish Air Force, and other NATO flight operations in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Over 5,000 USAF and other NATO personnel are stationed there.

If The Artful Donald — in his eagerness to demonstrate his superior negotiation skills* — rubs Edrogan the wrong way, Turkey could deny or revoke U.S. access to this base. Putin would not be unhappy with this result.

Related articles at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: *Reminiscent of the overconfident guy in Die Hard (1:33 ff) who tries to make a deal with the Nakatomi Tower terrorists.
posted by cenoxo at 4:26 PM on October 14 [5 favorites]

Trump Followed His Gut on Syria. Calamity Came Fast. (NYT)

Trumpty Dumpty sat on his Wall,
Trumpty Dumpty made a phone call;
All the right's liars and all the right's spin
Couldn't put Trumpty together again.
posted by jamjam at 5:41 PM on October 14 [11 favorites]

So we've gone batshit insane, we're going to be sanctioning a NATO ally who has also gone batshit insane, and we're doing nothing else about the genocide.

The fuck, 2019?
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:43 PM on October 14 [3 favorites]

it is strange to hear variations on "holds nukes hostage" repeated and trumpeted across the news spectrum.

i don't know too much about nukes, but assume they're triggered remotely. accordingly, not great "hostages" in a confrontation with a man who has publicly fantasized about using such weapons. the real hostages must, thus, be those 5,000 usaf and other nato personnel. but maybe not erdoğan's hostages, exactly.
posted by 20 year lurk at 7:05 PM on October 14 [1 favorite]

Doesn’t seem like there’s a lot going on today, but what is going on is fairly interesting.

Firstly, as far as warfare goes, the women and men of the YPJ/G have continued to hold out in the town of Serekaniye against Turkish artillery, airstrikes, and assaults by Turkish-backed militias. They’ve regained almost the entire town and the outlying areas. The town is roughly the size of “the West End of London”.

Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign: A tiny town the size of the West End of London has successfully held off NATO’s second largest army for SIX DAYS! Her bijî!

Rojava Network: +++Syrian democratic forces are fully controlling the city Serêkaniyê. SDF forces has launched a number of actions against the invading Turkish army on the western and eastern fronts of Serêkaniyê.

-One tank belonging to Turkish occupation were destroyed.

According to Anadolu News (a Turkish news agency), Hamas has given them their blessings. Good for them!

Foreign Policy: Turkish-Backed Forces Are Freeing Islamic State Prisoners

Ankara’s radical proxies are also apparently executing Kurdish prisoners and killing unarmed civilians, videos show.

Mahmoud Bali: News from the city of Ras Al Ain. Turkish special forces fail to advance, after SDF confronted them. Reports indicate that there are a large number of dead.

Rojava Information Center: Mother of Hevrin Khalaf, executed by Turkish-backed jihadis two days ago, speaks at her daughter's funeral:

"Her aim was to build the Syrian Future Party for the unity of Kurds & Arabs, so everybody can live on this land. Everybody has the the right to stay in this country."

Ryan Browne: .@VP Pence announces the commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces, Gen. Mazloum spoke, with President Trump about the situation in Syria

I’ve been skeptical of posting this, but I keep seeing this video pop up in a few different places. I don’t know if this guy is a “legitimate” reporter or somebody who is considered a crank, but here it is:

Raman Ghavami: VIDEO Scoop! This is BIG
Turkish reporter on Turkish TV:"Our gov backed forces fighting the Kurds are ISIS,Al-Qaeda and mercenaries. They take money from Qatar... .Turkey can't deny this.These forces are committing war crimes,&our state would be held to account."

Anchor:"So what?"

And lastly, but not least, it appears Trump spoke on the phone today with General Mazloum Kobani Abdi of the SDF in regard to Turkish sanctions and brokering a ceasefire. So now we have all the actors here: the Syrian Democratic Forces, Assad, Putin, Trump, and Erdogan. Jfc 🙄
posted by gucci mane at 8:00 PM on October 14 [12 favorites]

‘Complete Gibberish’ and ‘Garbled Nonsense’: Experts Weigh in on Trump Announcement of Sanctions ‘Soon’ Against Turkey (David Badash, New Civil Rights Movement)
“He’s Yeltsin, without the vodka.”
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:17 PM on October 14 [3 favorites]

Trump asks Turkey for ceasefire and orders sanctions as violence escalates (Guardian)
The US president’s conversation with Erdoğan was revealed by the vice-president, Mike Pence, who said he would soon be travelling to the Middle East. “The United States of America did not give a green light for Turkey to invade Syria,” Pence insisted to reporters at the White House.

But Trump’s announcement just over a week ago that he was withdrawing US troops, who had served as an effective buffer against Turkish invasion, has been widely viewed as a historic foreign policy blunder and provoked an extraordinary backlash even from Republicans.

[...] the president said he had issued an executive order to impose sanctions on current and former Turkish officials and was immediately freezing negotiations on a $100bn US-Turkey trade deal. Trump said he was also reimposing tariffs of 50% on Turkish steel – one of a series of measures taken last year to win the release of the American pastor Andrew Brunson from detention. In May, Trump scaled tariffs back to 25%.

[...] The statement confirmed that all 1,000 US troops in northeastern Syria are pulling out entirely, although they will “redeploy and remain in the region”. It added that a “small footprint” of US forces are staying in At Tanf Garrison in southern Syria “to continue to disrupt remnants” of the Islamic State. [...] The White House appears to have shifted to a strategy of claiming that the Turkish invasion was inevitable and it is merely moving US forces out of harm’s way. [...] But Trump has also maintained his argument that he made a campaign promise to stop endless, faraway wars and bring troops home.
posted by katra at 8:40 PM on October 14

Trump literally told the world that Erdogan was launching an invasion into Syria ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I think he should be investigated for this. It’s too coincidental that the “security mechanism” involved the SDF destroying their defenses and moving away their heavy weapons, allowed Turkish military surveillance and patrols, and that surveillance and recon information was given to them, prior to a massive invasion that was predominantly all Turkish-backed terrorist groups, including ISIS. Does it really matter if Turkey is a NATO ally? This may be the closest thing to treason we have.
posted by gucci mane at 8:48 PM on October 14 [12 favorites]

The Daily 202: Trump hands Putin another win with Syria pullout (WaPo)
THE BIG IDEA: Vladimir Putin has won so much these past three years that he may get tired of winning. [...]

“We don’t want the Russians and Syrians in there, but obviously we understand why they reached out,” a senior Trump administration official told one of my colleagues. “This is total chaos,” the official added, “a total s---storm.”
posted by katra at 8:51 PM on October 14 [5 favorites]

From The Daily 202: WaPo article
Trump has played down concerns about the crisis for days, saying Turkey will be responsible for any Islamic State fighters who might break free in the chaos.

On Sunday, he tweeted before departing for his golf course in Virginia that it was “very smart not to be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish Border, for a change” and accused “those that mistakenly got us into the Middle East Wars” of pushing the United States to stay in the fight.

Trump added that the Kurds and Turks have been fighting for years, a reference to the decades-long Kurdish insurgency in Turkey.

“Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other,” he said. “Let them! We are monitoring the situation closely. Endless Wars!”
Just another water hazard (on the Euphrates): "Do you mind if I play through?"
posted by cenoxo at 11:14 PM on October 14 [2 favorites]

Russia patrolling between Turkish and Syrian forces after U.S. troops withdraw, WaPo; Kareem Fahim, Sarah Dadouch, Erin Cunningham; October 15, 2019. There’s so much going on now it’s hard to focus on any one thing, but this stands out:
Erdogan has given no indication he is willing to halt the offensive. “We will soon secure the region from Manbij to the border with Iraq,” he said on Tuesday, during a visit to Azerbaijan, referring to a 230-mile expanse.
He’s apparently saying that Turkish forces will now occupy all of northeast Syria from Manbij in NE Syria’s western end to the Iraqi border on the east (simplified map). So much for the 20 mile limited incursion, and the SDF.
posted by cenoxo at 7:59 AM on October 15 [3 favorites]

A new David Ignatius piece on the feelings of anguish, guilt, and betrayal of US military who served alongside the Kurds: Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds is sickening to U.S. soldiers:
And now, as we near the end of the story, it’s last July, and I’m in Kobane meeting with Gen. Mazloum Abdi, the Syrian Kurdish commander. Trump has announced in December that he wants to withdraw all American troops. Mazloum is too polite and loyal to criticize the American president. “We respect any decision made by the U.S., whether they want to stay or leave,” he says in a calm, flat, battle-hardened voice.

American officers tell me later that Mazloum has been criticized for being too trusting of the United States, but Mazloum keeps insisting that he has confidence in his allies. I ask one of the U.S. officers what it was like to tell Mazloum in December that the United States would be leaving. The answer isn’t printable.

What do these American soldiers feel as they watch Trump retreat from the Syrian battlefield and leave their former comrades to die? They feel sick.
posted by sallybrown at 8:29 AM on October 15 [10 favorites]

Was Trump's Syria pullout just an impulsive decision — or another favor for Putin? (Heather Digby Parton, Salon)
Trump clearly gave Turkey the green light to invade Syria. Is it just a coincidence this strengthens Putin's hand?
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:32 AM on October 15 [7 favorites]

Russia Savors U.S. Missteps in Syria, and Seizes Opportunity (NYT)
As the Middle East reels from President Trump’s erratic foreign policy, Russia is savoring a fresh chance to build its status as a resurgent world power and cast itself as a force for stability. The withdrawal of United States troops from northeastern Syria, coupled with Turkey’s incursion, is allowing Russia to play the part of responsible peacemaker and to present a contrast to what many in the region see as unstable leadership from Washington.

It’s too soon to tell whether Russia will be able to manage the new volatility in Syria, just as it’s not clear if the impeachment furor over Ukraine will help the Kremlin’s interests in Eastern Europe. But as Russian President Vladimir V. Putin landed in Saudi Arabia Monday for a state visit to one of America’s most important allies, it appeared clear that Mr. Trump’s moves in recent months were helping him make the case that Moscow, not Washington, was the more dependable actor on the world stage.
posted by katra at 9:01 AM on October 15 [3 favorites]

Good piece in the Independent talking with people about their hopes and fears with the Syrian army moving in.

Return of Assad’s forces to Kurdish areas brings relief for now, but fear for future
The memories of repression under Syrian government rule are still fresh in the minds of many Kurds. For decades, the community was treated as second-class citizens in Syria, and faced restrictions on where and when they could speak their language and celebrate their culture.

The Syrian government’s withdrawal from most of northeast Syria changed that. As it battled to destroy the Isis caliphate, the SDF also set up local councils and other nascent democratic structures.

Sirwan Muhammed, a 51-year-old truck driver, also from Qamishli, says the deal with Damascus was a matter of life and death.

“ I know the regime well and I lived for 50 years under it. But we are forced to stay in the regime because the people would be slaughtered. For this reason I cannot deny that my heart is heavy,” he says.

“If we are conscious, that we, as a people, are going to be exterminated, we would not just make agreements with the regime, but with the devil,” he adds.
Everything that I’ve read about the deal with the Syrian army is that right now it’s only for border security and that political details will be figured out down the line, but the SDF will continue controlling a lot of cities and their governments will remain intact. There’s a lot of hesitation and uncertainty here, for good reason. I am just a guy sitting behind a keyboard so I have no idea what it must be like to make a decision such as this one when the genocide of your people is facing you, so I am hoping for the best for them.

Mahmoud Bali: Ein Issa camp is out of control, ISIS families are burning the tents and trying to flee towards Turkish army .
posted by gucci mane at 9:12 AM on October 15 [5 favorites]

Russia moves to fill void left by US in northern Syria (AP)
A U.S. military spokesman, Col. Myles B. Caggins, confirmed U.S. troops had completed their pullout from Manbij. During the withdrawal, contacts were kept open with the Turks and Russians to ensure the several hundred American forces there got out safely, U.S. officials said. [...]

“No one is interested” in fighting between Syrian government troops and Turkish forces, said Alexander Lavrentyev, Moscow’s envoy for Syria. Russia “is not going to allow it,” he told Russian state news agencies. Kurdish leaders and representatives of the Syrian government held talks at a Russian military base last week, Lavrentyev said, adding he was unaware of any results. Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters Washington is “deeply concerned” that Russian troops are patrolling between the two sides. [...]

Farther east on the border, Kurdish fighters battled to retake Ras al-Ayn, a town captured by Turkish forces days earlier. An AP journalist reported heavy Turkish bombardment of targets in the countryside around it. The Syrian Observatory said Syrian Kurdish fighters had retaken the town, but it appeared it was still being contested.

A U.S. official said the approximately 1,000 U.S. troops being withdrawn from northern Syria will reposition in Iraq, Kuwait and possibly Jordan. The U.S. forces in Iraq could conduct cross-border operations against the Islamic State group in Syria as they did before creating the now-abandoned partnership with Syrian Kurdish-led forces, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive planning for a U.S. pullout.
posted by katra at 9:34 AM on October 15 [1 favorite]

^ He’s apparently saying that Turkish forces will now occupy all of northeast Syria from Manbij in NE Syria’s western end to the Iraqi border on the east (simplified map). So much for the 20 mile limited incursion, and the SDF.

Thinking again, maybe not. Erdogan may simply be referring to the overall length of the limited, 20 mile wide security zone along the Turkey-Northern Syria border. Note this map in today’s Al Jazeera article Turkey's military operation in Syria: All the latest updates - SANA news agency says Syrian army at the city's main square as Turkish president vows to press ahead with offensive.

It’s more likely that Russia — a long-time ally of Syria — will stop Turkey’s incursion altogether.
posted by cenoxo at 9:58 AM on October 15 [1 favorite]

Another Aljazeera map Syria: Who controls what? (updated October 9, 2019) showing Turkey’s proposed security zone.
posted by cenoxo at 10:52 AM on October 15 [2 favorites]

With Turkey as an official part of NATO, however uncomfortable and perhaps deeply wrong that inclusion is, what we're seeing is Russia telling the world that NATO is powerless and enables genocides while the noble and brave Russian military does what NATO can't and solves problems.

While it's wrong to ascribe superpowers to Putin, this outcome is so positive for Russia it's difficult not to imagine that Putin at least tried to steer Trump to it.
posted by sotonohito at 12:20 PM on October 15 [15 favorites]

Lucas Tomlinson: U.S. military sends F-15 fighter jets, Apache gunships in "show of force" to disburse Turkish-backed forces who came "very close" to U.S. troops west of Ain Issa, Syria. Turkish-backed fighters “violated a standing agreement" not to threaten American troops: U.S. official

2nd: U.S. lodged formal complaint with the Turkish military after the incident through diplomatic channels.

The American Special Operations forces were partnered with Syrian Kurdish allies during the encounter which took place a few hours ago, the official added.

KongraStarDiplomacy: Civilian women in #Kobane take up arms to defend their land. They will not be allowed to be driven from their homes again. Long live the women of #Rojava!

Barzan Sadiq: VIDEO #Russian journalist playing with #US base checkpoint in #Manbij, northern #Syria.

KongraStarDiplomacy: VIDEO The city of #Istanbul rises against the Turkish army's invasion of #Rojava. In spite of the political, social and economic repression in Turkey under Erdogan's dictatorship the people are not silent! pic.twitter.com/ugYdBKdyTg

This is an impressive development considering how oppressive Turkey is to its citizens and especially the Kurds.

Wladimir: VIDEO Qamislo units say they captured a Turkish personnel carrier.

"Long live YPG's resistance!
They have left the vehicle and fled. This is what remains of Turkish soldiers," the fighters say.

"Let us try using it."

North Press Agency: VIDEO Syrian Democratic Forces #SDF foil an infiltrating operation by Turkey-backed armed militias into the Global Coalition's main base in Kharab Eshk, west of Ein Issa
SDF destroyed two armored vehicles were used by the infiltrating militants

Rojava Information Center: Local journalist on Khereb Eshk situation:

“Two hours ago, 6 turkish military vehicles came to villages near the Coalition base. There were SDF forces there as well. Because these vehicles look like American vehicles and weren't flying flags, no-one thought they were Turkish."

2nd tweet: The SDF forces engaged with the vehicles, and the Americans didn’t do anything, just fled by helicopter. Because the Turks were close to their place. The SDF fought back and destroyed 2 vehicles of theirs and the raid was fought off.”

North Press Agency: “They Mutilated the Body of My Daughter” The Mother of an Assassinated Kurdish leader speaks out about Turkey backed militias war crimes
After the funeral of Havrin Khalaf, her mother Souad Mohammed told "North Press", “They called me when they captured my daughter, they were shouting in Arabic and they didn’t answer me, I said to myself that Havrin must be in the hands of the enemy now ... I don't even know who the enemy is." Added “my daughter was a civilian, she’ never been a combatant, she was a political advocate, it’s a human right guaranteed for each man and woman”

Khalaf’s mother describes her daughters mutilated and dismembered body “They were able to kill her with a bullet or two, but they chose to keep nothing from her body, her body was like a cotton ball wrapped with a piece of cloth”

The Mother said “I moved a cloth that covered her chest and face and found nothing left from her body but a small piece from her jaw”
Syrian Civil War Map: Twitter still hasn't @verified us after several requests. Therefore we are a simpler target of censorship and troll/spam attacks.

We ask @Twitter to finally verify our profile.

A number of journalists have been having their accounts either frozen or banned by Twitter due to pro-Turkish trolls mass reporting them. Wladimir, posted above, had his account restricted.

Wladimir: VIDEO Thank you all for your support! I'm back I hereby ask @jack to verify my account so it won't get censored again by trolls. My work is important to shed a light on what's going on in northern Syria. Especially now that fewer journalists are going there due to security risks (1)

2nd: Moreover, this is not the first time it happens! My account was restricted several times while I was reporting about Turkish threats against the northeast & the fight against ISIS. I hope this can be prevented in the future

Thanks everyone again for their support (2)

3rd: I am not the only victim of these attempts of online censorship. There are 100s of other accounts that are being targeted for simply giving more attention to the situation in N Syria. Accounts of local journalists were shutdown, like @HesenHoseng who made a new account (3)

KongraStarDiplomacy: VIDEO A mother from #Rojava in #Dirbesiye city: "As a mother, as a companion, we are going to support our fighters in this city... To the last drop of our blood we will be on the streets to defend ourselves." #WomenDefendRojava #Riseup4Rojava

Morning Star Online: Turkey's President files criminal complaint against exiled Kurdish MP for anti-war speech in London
TURKISH President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has filed a criminal complaint against a leading exiled Kurdish politician for a speech he gave in London opposing the invasion and war in Syria.

Former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP for Urfa Osman Baydemir is charged with “insulting the Turkish state” after he spoke at Sunday’s 20,000 strong demonstration.

Mr Baydemir, who already faces a 117-year jail sentence, said outside the BBC headquarters: “Who is a terrorist, who is a dictator? Who kills the Kurds? Who kills children and women?” referring to Mr Erdogan.

He continued: “Now we all have to crush fascism together. Now we all have to stop the massacre in Rojava. If we don’t do this now, history will repeat itself, like the Armenian genocide in 1915.

“We have to see the relationship between Erdogan and Isis. This relationship continues as it did yesterday.”

Mr Erdogan’s lawyer Huseyin Aydin filed a petition with the Ankara chief public prosecutor’s office and stated that Mr Baydemir’s speech was a crime.
posted by gucci mane at 12:58 PM on October 15 [15 favorites]

I have just been given a document created by the Kurdish Red Crescent that has documented war crimes. CONTENT WARNING I posted it in Google Drive here, please let me know if this works.
posted by gucci mane at 1:06 PM on October 15 [14 favorites]

It does. Thank you for everything you are posting here.
posted by Golem XIV at 1:13 PM on October 15 [9 favorites]

I hereby nominate gucci mane for the Distinguished Medal of Honor for the Knights of the Order Metafilter. May the Blue be with you.
posted by xammerboy at 2:05 PM on October 15 [22 favorites]

Mutlu Civiroglu: Sources report French and British forces are now in #Kobani. Despite all attacks it’s facing from Turkey & its groups, SDF fighters tried to protect US forces and still host them

Jake Hanrahan: Last night in Yafes area in Cizre (a city sometimes known as “the heart of the Kurdish resistance”) southeast Turkey, Kurdish youth apparently attacked an armoured patrol with Molotovs and a shotgun. A lot of the cross border shelling launched from Cizre.

I don’t know much about Turkish issues, but I see people online posting about how Turkey is potentially at the edge of civil war and that their economy is in shambles. Not sure how much to believe that, but there are roughly 15 million Kurds in Turkey and there have been a lot of protests lately, all at risk of massive oppression.

Wladimir: VIDEO This video allegedly shows "ISIS families trying to escape from detention in al-Hol camp".
posted by gucci mane at 2:15 PM on October 15 [4 favorites]

It weighs heavy on the heart to see the YPG/SDF abandoned by the US, but I also never saw a long-term alternative. It always seemed untenable to commit to the indefinite military support of the sworn enemy of one of the US's ostensibly closest allies. Now with IS virtually destroyed and with the stinking, rotten corpse of US-backed "regime change" unceremoniously shoved in the closet with the other skeletons there's no longer a clear military purpose to the US presence. Certainly it seems the US has a moral obligation towards the Kurds, but I don't think it's clear-cut what that entails, precisely. It's not like the Kurds are feckless children who need to be patronized by the US. And the relatable plight of the Kurds cannot countenance the terrorist violence of the (YPG/SDF linked) PKK.

At the same time one has to imagine that some potent multilateral diplomacy & maneuvering could have minimized the impact on the men and women who now find themselves in the frontline of a conflict that at the very least foreshadows a genocidal campaign along Turkey's southern border, not to mention the spectre of twenty thousand murderous religious fanatics unleashed. As usual, Donny picked the most haphazard & callous way to go about things, and untold lives will pay the price.
posted by dmh at 6:59 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]

There's not a lot of info about future US plans in Northern Syria. This article on Reuters from 2017 has an SDF spokesman quoted who suspected a long-term US presence there, and even floated the idea of N. Syria being used as a base as opposed to Turkey, and said that there were initiatives for political support for the SDF. It would seem that there was maybe some sort of plan in place to begin a process of recognition. So, I'm not sure what the long-term plans were. The U.S. didn't have many forces there, I think everyone has quoted 1000, and it prevented this shitshow we have now. I think that's a somewhat good use of resources, although I am biased.

ISIS was virtually destroyed, but this situation we're in now is seeing a resurgence, especially with 12,000 potentially getting freed. The SDF wanted (and still wants) ISIS prisoners to be taken back to their home countries and prosecuted, but since nobody wanted to take them they instead asked for there to be an international court to try them. They also asked for more resources for the prisons they have setup. They did a good job cleaning out ISIS sleeper cells, systematically killing off their leaders and taking control their arms caches.

It's not so much that the Kurds are "feckless children", because they aren't, as we are all witnessing now, but that doesn't mean that they don't need help. I think it needs to be heavily stated here that they were creating a "radical" form of democracy, and they were succeeding. It takes hundreds of years for countries and governments to form, and they have been working on this one since roughly 2012, all whilst defending their land from ISIS and other extremists, and being afraid of exactly this situation happening. International recognition, or even just recognition from the US, would have been beneficial. I don't know what a moral obligation toward the Kurds entails, but we owe them big time, so there better be something of substance there.

YPG isn't linked to the PKK except via their ideological founder. They're two different entities.
posted by gucci mane at 7:42 PM on October 15 [14 favorites]

Just in terms of crass, amoral Realpolitik Trump flubbed the situation badly. Everyone except the SDF wanted the US gone and none of them had any leverage whatsoever toward getting it done. Trump could have asked for and gotten a LOT for US/NATO/SDF security and interests and instead it looks like he took the hotels.
posted by notyou at 8:09 PM on October 15 [6 favorites]

A better pullout plan would have at least worked with the Kurds to allow them to reposition defenses along the Turkish border that were removed earlier at our request.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 8:27 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]

Surely an insignificant coincidence that the phone-call that set all this in motion was made the afternoon before V. Putin's birthday? (As per the always acute Gaslit Nation.)
posted by progosk at 12:38 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]

I'm guessing it went like this:

PUTIN: "Well, tovarisch, we did not think you or your crew of flunkies would be quite stupid or incompetent enough to turn your engagement with us in prior electioneering into kompromat after the fact, since you already sent a few fall guys to jail for it, but I must confess we are delighted. This is the best birthday present yet, with all of the gifts you are about to give me at the expense of literally the entire world so you can avoid living out your few remaining years in disgrace....."
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:04 AM on October 16 [2 favorites]

Air Force Times, yesterday:

With Turkey’s invasion of Syria, concerns mount over nukes at Incirlik

"concerns are growing over the reported presence of U.S. nuclear weapons at Incirlik, believed to be about 50 B61 gravity bombs. The New York Times on Monday reported that officials from the State and Energy departments over the weekend reviewed plans for evacuating the nuclear weapons there.

Not surprisingly, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek would not answer questions about possible nuclear weapons at Incirlik and whether they would be moved in a Monday email.

“The mission of the 39th [Air Base Wing at Incirlik] is to provide persistent surety and continuous air operations for the U.S., our allies and our partners and helps protect U.S. and NATO interests in the Southern Region by providing a responsive and operational air base ready to project integrated, forward-based airpower,” Stefanek said. But she stated there have been no daily operations changes at the base.

A senior official reportedly told the Times that the weapons “were now essentially [Turkish President Recep] Erdogan’s hostages” since removing the weapons would effectively spell the end of America’s alliance with Turkey, but keeping them there would leave them vulnerable."

Seriously, it’s time to take our fucking nuclear weapons out of Turkey.

"Emergency Pod: The New York Times reported that US officials are considering removing US nuclear weapons from Turkey. The crew discusses U.S. basing of nuclear weapons in allied states and the fraught history of base security incidents."
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:09 AM on October 16 [5 favorites]

YPG isn't linked to the PKK except via their ideological founder. They're two different entities.

I realize things are complicated but I don't think this is true, either. From a 2015 WSJ piece:
The PKK says its affiliates—Syria’s YPG and groups called the PJAK in Iran and the HPG in Iraq—are separate but closely linked. PKK fighters and some analysts say they are one and the same.

“It’s all PKK but different branches,” Ms. Ruken said, clad in fatigues in her encampment atop Sinjar Mountain this spring as a battle with Islamic State fighters raged less than a mile away at the mountain’s base. “Sometimes I’m a PKK, sometimes I’m a PJAK, sometimes I’m a YPG. It doesn’t really matter. They are all members of the PKK.”
FWIW, I don't think association with the PKK is some sort of cardinal sin. But I also don't consider them to be "the good guys" and in any case I'm pretty sure it is impossible to convince Turkey that they are.
posted by dmh at 4:20 AM on October 16 [2 favorites]

Without having to resolve how distinct the groups are, the endgame that Turkey and Russia (and presumably Iran) clearly feared was that the contiguous Kurdish zone of control in Syria and Iraq would coalesce into a recognized Kurdistan in control of half of its traditional territorial claim (with the remaining two quarters inside the borders of Turkey and Iran).

That would definitely change the game for PKK in the Kurdish areas of Turkey, regardless of their level of coordination with YPG & SDF.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:45 AM on October 16 [4 favorites]

Choice quotes from the President of the United States sitting next to the President of Italy: "The Kurds are much safer right now." "They're not angels. They fought alongside us very well, but not so well without us." "These are two countries fighting about land, it has nothing to do with us." "Syria will probably have a partner with Russia. I wish 'em all a lotta luck." "The situation in Syria is strategically brilliant." "Some [imprisoned ISIS fighters] were released for effect, to make it look like we gotta get back in there." "When [my 2016 election report] comes out, I predict you're going to see things you won't even believe." "We're not allowed to representation, we're not allowed to lawyers, we're not allowed to anything." "I ask the FBI, where's the server?" "I want to see the server. I want to see the server. No-one wants to see the server." "But Republicans want to see the server." "Don't forget, stock markets aren't just rich people, it's all people. All people own in the stock markets. It's New York Stock Exchange."
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:08 AM on October 16 [8 favorites]

@dmh: I think I worded that wrong, with "linked" being the incorrect wording to use there. Let me try to correct myself.

The YPG and the PKK are two different organizations that come from the same ideological strain, but interpret that ideology differently based on their respective situations on the ground. So while there are PKK members that go and fight with the YPG (I was going to say "and vice versa" but I don't think there are many Syrian Kurds going to Turkey to fight in a guerilla warfare campaign), the two groups are not linked at some sort of "official" level. The YPG and PKK have fought alongside each other at times, such as during the Sinjar Massacre, which took place in Sinjar near the border of Iraqi Kurdistan and Syria, as well as in Kobani, which is on the border of Syria and Turkey.

Truthfully, that article is riddled with weird, unsubstantiated assumptions about the two groups. They don't ever establish an actual link, and instead within the opening paragraphs assume there to be one without offering any evidence.

Foreign Policy: Syria's Kurds Are Not the PKK

snuffleupagus actually put it very succinctly: the international actors in that area fear a unified Kurdish state, even though political entities such as the Kurdistan Regional Government (led by Nechirvan Barzani, who a lot of Kurds do not like) are very different from the political entities in Syria (Syrian Democratic Forces, TEV-DEM, the Syrian Democratic Council, etc.) These geopolitical issues go back to the British and French promising the Kurds a country of their own, and instead reneging on that deal and carving up areas of Syria and Iraq.

I think the main issue with the "YPG = PKK?" is the inability to understand or to come up with a framework that resolves the concepts of militias and guerilla warfare in the first place, especially as we move further into fourth-generation warfare (I'm not saying that you are doing this, I'm talking about a macro-geopolitical level). This is exactly why my use of the word "linked" was incorrect: there are links between the two at a quantum level, such as a member of the PKK fighting in the YPG, and potentially, but unlikely at a macro level. I don't think any of the politicians involved in N. Syria/Rojava affairs are former PKK members, because they're almost entirely local Syrian people representing their own cantons (cantons being self-governing autonomous sub-regions), their own tribes, their own ethnic groups, etc.

If this is all confusing to you don't worry, it's entirely confusing to me as well :P Even as somebody who spends a lot of time looking into these things.

Okay news roundup time!

Raman Ghavami: VIDEO After US officials confirmed that Turkey backed Islamists groups are formed of ISIS,Al-Qaeda and mercenaries, Erdogan earlier today praised them and said: "Those forces fighting alongside of our troops in Syria fight like lions and I pray to Allah for their successes."

Kurdistan 24 News: First wave of Syrian refugees fleeing to Kurdistan Region reaches nearly 1000
The Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Joint Crisis Coordination Centre (JCC) announced that on late Tuesday night, 472 new Syrian refugees had arrived in the Kurdistan Region to escape the ongoing Turkish military assault on northern Syria. This brings the total number since Monday, when they began crossing, to 930.

We are expecting 140 Syrian refugee families to arrive in Bardarash, which is a total of 400 individuals.” said Khalil Mahmood, mayor of Bardarash district.

“We have made the proper preparations in coordination with the Board of Relief and Humanities Affairs in Duhok to receive the refugees,” he added, explaining that they would be transferred to settle in Bardarash camp, built in 2014 to house large numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) fleeing the Islamic State in Mosul.

Hoshang Mohammed, Director General of the JCC, affirmed that the agency “met with international organizations and more than 100 of them expressed their readiness to provide humanitarian aid.”

Bardarash district falls between the cities of Duhok, Mosul, and Erbil and that falls under the provincial administration of Duhok. Another camp located in the area, known as Gawilan, is populated by Syrian refugees who escaped conflict in Syria in previous years.

On Tuesday, the Kurdish-led self-administration in northern Syria said that at least 275,000 civilians, including 70,000 children, have been displaced from areas along the Syrian-Turkish border over the past week since Ankara's assault began.
Reuters UK: Erdogan says Turkey will never declare ceasefire in northern Syria
President Tayyip Erdogan told U.S. President Donald Trump that Turkey will never declare a ceasefire in northeastern Syria and that it will not negotiate with Kurdish forces it is fighting in its offensive into the region.


On Monday, Trump announced sanctions on Turkey to punish it for the offensive. On Tuesday, a senior U.S. official said Washington would threaten more sanctions to persuade Turkey to reach a ceasefire and halt its offensive.

However, speaking to reporters on a flight back from Baku, Erdogan said the offensive would continue until it reaches its aims, and added that he was not worried about sanctions.

“They say ‘declare a ceasefire’. We will never declare a ceasefire,” Erdogan said. “They are pressuring us to stop the operation. They are announcing sanctions. Our goal is clear. We are not worried about any sanctions,” he said.
Cahîda Dêrsim: VIDEO ANHA Footage: Aftermath of an IDP camp in Ain Issa where today #Turkey-backed jihadists have freed #ISIS prisoners and set the whole camp on fire

Mutlu Civiroglu: VIDEO Russian and Syrian forces entering #Kobane #Kobani via @WehbeRomi3

And Trump said the PKK are worse than ISIS so we know somebody has been getting their talking points from the Turkish MIT.
posted by gucci mane at 12:43 PM on October 16 [10 favorites]

Here is the letter Trump sent Erdogan on the 9th October..

It's real and it's spectacular.
posted by PenDevil at 1:40 PM on October 16 [26 favorites]

It reads like a four-year-old's letter to Santa Claus. Is it possible that this guy is President of the United States?
posted by JackFlash at 1:55 PM on October 16 [8 favorites]

Let's work out a good deal!
posted by FakeFreyja at 2:01 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]

I am confidentially disclosing this thing to you in a letter that will not remain confidential.

Hard to believe a Fox host tweeted that out....
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:03 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]

“Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!”
Everybody come and play,
Throw every last care away,
Let's go to the mall, today!
posted by sallybrown at 2:07 PM on October 16 [2 favorites]

That letter reminds me of when Blofeld offers Bond a delicatessen
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:15 PM on October 16 [2 favorites]

the phone-call that set all this in motion was made the afternoon before V. Putin's birthday

Per Foreign Policy, "At 6:30 am local time Monday [Oct. 7], U.S. troops withdrew from their observation posts in northern Syria after a late night call between U.S. President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan." Another source for a late night call. Trump's tweetstorm began at 4:40 a.m. local time Oct. 7.

DC is GMT-5, Russia and Syria are GMT+3; might've already been the birthday.

That letter! First he threatens to destroy the Turkish economy, writing "I've already given you a little sample with respect to Pastor Brunson." Then he's trying to get Gen. Mazloum Kobani Abdi killed: "General Mazloum is willing to negotiate with you, and he is willing to make concessions that they would never have made in the past. I am confidentially enclosing a copy of his letter to me, just received."
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:16 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]

reads letter

posted by jquinby at 2:17 PM on October 16 [9 favorites]

October 9: Trump writes to Erdogan: "General Mazloum is willing to negotiate with you, and he is willing to make concessions that they never would have made in the past."

October 10: General Mazloum tells the Deputy Senior Envoy to the Global Commission to Defeat ISIS: "You have given up on us. You are leaving us to be slaughtered. You are not willing to protect the people, but you do not want another force to come and protect us. You have sold us. This is immoral."
posted by box at 2:24 PM on October 16 [5 favorites]

Upon further research, it actually turns out that Mazloum Kobani Abdi, the Commander-in-Chief of the SDF, was part of the PKK in the 90’s, and is friends with Abdullah Öcalan, as noted in this fantastic New Yorker article by Robin Wright from April of this year. However, depending on who you believe, he insists that the YPG is separate from the PKK.
“For a period of time, I served in P.K.K. ranks,” Mazloum told me. “Öcalan was working here, and the people here had loyalty to him. But the Y.P.G. is not a terrorist organization. Always the Turks like to paint everything in Syria like it’s the P.K.K., but this is not true.” Yet Mazloum has relatives who are still with the P.K.K. Huge posters of Öcalan adorned every Y.P.G. and S.D.F. base I visited.
So I am partially wrong, but I still don’t think there is a enough of a link to the degree that the YPG would be considered a terrorist counterpart.

That article is awesome, by the way. There’s a ton of inside information there that I didn’t know about before.

(Humorous side note I found this out because I was trying to figure out who he reminds me of and I can’t help but think he looks like BJ Blazkowicz from Wolfenstein.)
posted by gucci mane at 2:32 PM on October 16 [12 favorites]

Here is the letter Trump sent Erdogan on the 9th October..

Is that Times New Roman? Fake!
posted by kirkaracha at 2:57 PM on October 16

Talia Levin is a national treasure
posted by schadenfrau at 3:08 PM on October 16 [2 favorites]

hi, I'm an international lawyer criminal in charge of the shadow state department and I LEAVE MY READ RECEIPTS ON BY DEFAULT WHAT THE FUCK RUDY
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:22 PM on October 16 [6 favorites]

YPG/YPJ forces have been heroic in their defense of the city Serekaniye, having held out for 8 days now. Still serious fighting being done and Turkey is basically just leveling the town at this point.

Riseup4Rojava: Largest Turkish attack on Sere Kaniye from all sides, using airstrikes, Tanks and heavy artillery, #YPG is defending the city.

Historical resistance. The world is with you. No Pasaran!

Rojava Information Center: Tonight's assault on Sere Kaniye is led by Jaysh-al-Islam, a Turkish-backed jihadist militia who:

• Carried out torture using electrocution, detention without trial, and summary execution
• Paraded captured civilians in cages as a human shield

Here is a Liveuamap of the situation.

Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign: Fitting that the Nubar Ozanyan unit made up of Armenian fighters is currently resisting the fascist Turkish state invasion! ❤️

Retweeting AnnMan: Armenian SDF unit fighting in SereKaniye together with their Kurd, Syrian and Assyrian brothers agianst the only nation in the world with no history but criminal record.

Khabat Abbas: Armenian father Hofsip Sarkis, 53 yd, from Serekaniya city and member of HPC Community Protection Forces. His daughter Anoish Sarkis (her name means Sugar in Armenian language)19 yd, YPJ fighter and fought against ISIS in Raqqa. Both protect the shelter of IDPs in Hasaka.

I’ve been seeing the acronym “IDP” a lot and I had never seen it used before. It means “internally displaced person”.

Kongra Star Diplomacy Rojava: CONTENT WARNING VIDEO: Video shows children wounded during #Turkish airstrikes on civilians in NE #Syria. Doctor Faris Hemo at #Haseke hospital suspects that chemical weapons have been used due to shape of burns & wounds. Investigations continue.

I have seen other photos and videos claiming that white phosphorous was being used, but I have not seen any confirmation about this. The photos I’ve seen do match what it looks like when white phosphorous is dropped, but I haven’t seen confirmation that the photo is recent (as in, taking place in the previous 8 days).

Rojava Information Center: SAA & SDF fighters are fighting Turkish-backed forces together on frontlines outside Manbij and Til Temir-Ayn Issa, but political and security administration across the region remains solely with the Autonomous Administration.

We will update as and when the situation develops.

posted by gucci mane at 3:54 PM on October 16 [7 favorites]

Top Democrats walk out of Syria meeting after Trump insults Pelosi (Politico)
Pelosi said Trump appeared "very shaken up" after the House overwhelmingly approved a resolution condemning the U.S. withdrawal from northern Syria and the abandonment of its Kurdish allies. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), GOP Conference Chairman Liz Cheney (Wyo.) were among the 129 Republicans who crossed party lines and voted for the Democratic-drafted measure, a dramatic slap at Trump in the midst of one the most serious foreign policy crises of his presidency.

"What we witness on the part of the president was a meltdown, sad to say," Pelosi declared. [...]

Lawmakers in both parties also slammed the president's remarks as undermining Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, who are traveling to Ankara on Wednesday to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The high-level U.S. delegation hopes to broker a ceasefire between Turkey and Kurdish forces, although Erdogan already told Sky News that he had no plans to halt the offensive.
posted by katra at 4:26 PM on October 16 [13 favorites]

gucci mane: Your commentary is much appreciated, thanks. Over the years my sense of the conflict has been informed by leftist friends from Turkey. While they generally express sympathy for some form of Kurdish autonomy and loathe Erdogan, they are also wary of the PKK. In particular they feel the PKK has a tendency to "hide behind different names to put on a nice face for the West" (that's the best way I can paraphrase it). Their view is itself influenced, of course, by decades of Turkish propaganda.

Still I personally I think that wariness is warranted to some extent, because it is consistent with the wily use of a fluid mixture of guerrilla / terrorist tactics and political & media manipulation (the fourth generation warfare you mention) that, I think, explains why the PKK is still around and remains arguably the most important force to reckon with. The sad fact is that they were frequently ruthlessly violent in the process of getting there. The even sadder question is: who wasn't?
posted by dmh at 4:52 PM on October 16 [2 favorites]

Apparently Erdogan threw Trump's letter in the bin.
posted by essexjan at 2:33 AM on October 17 [10 favorites]

U.S. Bombs Its Own Bases to Keep Them from Turkey
“On Wednesday, the U.S. military said two F-15E jet fighters carried out an airstrike to destroy an ammunition-storage facility, latrines, tents and other parts of the Syria headquarters of the American campaign to destroy Islamic State after pulling its forces from the base,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
That's some catch, that Catch-22.
He had landed another contract with the Germans, this time to bomb his own outfit. Milo's planes separated in a well-coordinated attack and bombed the fuel stocks and the ordnance pump, the repair hangars and the B-25 bombers resting on the lollipop-shaped hardstands at the field. His crew spared the landing strip and the mess halls so that they could land safely when their work was done and enjoy a hot snack before retiring. They bomb with their landing lights on, since no one was shooting back. They bombed all four squadrons, the officer's club and the Group Headquarters building.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:48 AM on October 17 [12 favorites]

More than a few active & recently so folks are pointing out we have also bombed our own bases on the way out in Afghanistan to deny anyone the chance to use them, and that got considerably less attention.

I can see the point as a matter of what gets attention and what doesn't and it's a good argument for how Afghanistan gets routinely ignored in the media but the circumstances here are also pretty different.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:10 AM on October 17 [1 favorite]

If We have to Choose Between Compromise and Genocide, We Will Choose Our People, Foreign Policy, Mazloum Abdi, October 13, 2019:
The reason we allied ourselves with the United States is our core belief in democracy. We are disappointed and frustrated by the current crisis. Our people are under attack, and their safety is our paramount concern. Two questions remain: How can we best protect our people? And is the United States still our ally?
Kurdish commander: Trump OK’d deal with Moscow, Damascus, Associated Press, Lefteris Pitarakis and Sarah El Deeb, October 17, 2019:
U.S. President Donald Trump did not oppose the deal that Syrian Kurdish-led forces struck with Russia and the Syrian government to protect them against Turkey’s offensive, the force’s commander said Thursday, as his fighters battled a new push by Ankara-backed forces to seize a strategic border town.

The commander’s comments underscored Trump’s willingness to see a crucial U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State switch allegiance to Moscow and Damascus. Trump said Wednesday he welcomed the move by the two militaries to fill the void created when he ordered the pullout of U.S. forces from northeastern Syria.

“We told (Trump) that we are contacting the Syrian regime and the Russians in order to protect our country and land,” the commander, Mazloum Abdi, told local TV station Ronahi TV. “He said, ‘We are not against that.’”

The deal by the Kurds, announced Sunday, allows forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad to move into border areas held by the Kurdish-led fighters, effectively replacing the U.S. troops, and establishing Russia as the agreement’s guarantor. Abdi spoke with Trump by phone the next day.
Abridged version:
Q. Abdi: Will you help us save our country?
A. Trump (speaking for the United States): No. Go ask somebody who cares.
posted by cenoxo at 9:37 AM on October 17 [5 favorites]

Aaron Rupar :"Referring to Kurds living along Turkish border in Syria, Trump says of Turkey, "they had to have it cleaned out."
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:55 AM on October 17 [9 favorites]

So...there are details about a ceasefire. 120 hours and the SDF has to move their forces out from the border areas and allow the Turkish forces 20 miles in to take over. Which is not a ceasefire but a massive capitulation. Also interesting that Erdogan is meeting with Putin in 5 days (120 hours) and its Russian and Syrian government forces in areas of the border now. People online are calling this another Sykes-Picot Agreement.
posted by gucci mane at 12:59 PM on October 17 [9 favorites]

posted by gucci mane at 1:05 PM on October 17 [4 favorites]

Also reminiscent of the 1949 armistices (in being ad hoc and insisted upon by external powers). Which ultimately resulted in more wars and decades of proxy conflict.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:08 PM on October 17

This stain of blood and dishonor will not easily be washed away. As the dua says:
Rabbana zalamna anfusina wa il lam taghfir lana wa tarhamna lana kunan minal-khasireen. Surah Al-A'raf - 7:23 (Oh Lord! We have wronged our own souls: If thou forgive us not and bestow not upon us Thy Mercy, we shall certainly be lost.)
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 2:34 PM on October 17 [7 favorites]

The fact it was Turkey issuing that statement is one hell of a power play. That's telling the whole world that they are calling the shots and America is doing what it is told.

Then, to reinforce that, they got Trump to endorse ethnic cleansing carried out by Turkey as necessary and good.
posted by sotonohito at 2:34 PM on October 17 [13 favorites]

Clearly, it’s time for The Donald to build yet another Wall, and have Turkey pay for it. He must have some kind of real estate business on the side.
posted by cenoxo at 3:35 PM on October 17 [3 favorites]

Unrolled thread from Louis Fishman: I think anyway one reads this document, the US capitulated to Turkey's demands+thus Erdogan secured a major strategic victory, which will allow Turkish army more leeway on ground. However a quick look shows the document is not worth paper its written on, with many unclear goals.
So let's break this down. I think obvious point is it gives zero recognition to YPG, or Kurds. This document pretty much equates the YPG as being terrorists, a Turkish claim, and one that most in US Congress are clearly arguing against. This in itself is a HUGE Turkish gain.

Further, Turkey received US recognition of its right to protect its border by occupying a foreign country. Of course this is NOT internationally binding-but this is nothing to brush aside. The US supports Turkish occupation of Northern Syria--a safe zone, Turkey has long sought.

So, yes, Turkey's safe zone now has support of the White House, which inherently counters right of the YPG to be on the ground they are claiming. Of course, this document does not touch upon fact the US is no longer a power there, and thus, it'll be Russia making final decision.

Article 12 is a doozy: It lifts sanction once Turkey pauses its activities, thus its highly unlikely US Congress will be able to pass a sanction bill as long "pause" is in place, or if Turkey is at least abiding partially by document. Trump certainly played a number on Congress.

Therefore, hard to imagine US congress, at least at this stage, gathering support for a sanction bills, something the Trump obviously veto, if needed. Missing also in the text are the forces that are supporting Turkey in Syria, who have been accused of war crimes. Zero, zilch.

And, the future? Will ceasefire hold? Will Syria continue to grab military points? And Russia? How will YPG act? Will Congress still pursue sanctions? Even w/all these variables, Erdogan can rest today; Turkish pundits reorganize arguments-in short a huge Turkish political gain.
Baxtiyar Goran: #BREAKING: Turkish army resumes bombardment of Serekaniye (Ras al-Ain) despite the agreed ceasefire - Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Foreign Policy: Turkish Proxies Appear to Be Using White Phosphorous in Syria

WSJ OpEd: Trump’s Syria Exit Puts Yazidis in Peril
I am a Yazidi who was born and raised in Iraq. I worked for seven years as an interpreter for the U.S. Army in Iraq before immigrating to the U.S. in 2012. In 2014 I co-founded Yazda, a U.S.-based nongovernmental organization, to support the Yazidi community after ISIS orchestrated a genocide against the Yazidi people.
simla: Ethnic map of Turkish operation in Syria
posted by gucci mane at 5:27 PM on October 17 [10 favorites]

Trump says it was good to let the Turks attack the Kurds. "Sometimes you have to let them fight like two kids,” he tells rally in Dallas. “Then you pull them apart."

Trump is a psychopath. The Republicans who enable him are psychopaths.
posted by JackFlash at 8:21 PM on October 17 [24 favorites]

This week's episode of Worst Year Ever, starring Robert Evans from Behind the Bastards and Katy Stoll and Cody Johnston from Even More News (and also guesting on several episodes of Behind the Bastards), is mostly Robert talking about the history of the PKK, YPG, and other groups in the area, and about his experiences traveling through Rojava and talking to some amazing people there. Really, really interesting stuff.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:35 AM on October 18 [2 favorites]

Our Republic is Under Attack From the President — If President Trump doesn’t demonstrate the leadership that America needs, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office, William H. McRaven [WP bio], NYT Opinion, October 17, 2019. If you're blocked by the NYT's paywall, almost all of McRaven's opinion (except for a few paragraphs followed by ...) is quoted at Democratic Underground.

CNN interview: Fmr. Navy Adm.: Our republic is under attack from Trump. Retired Navy Admiral William McRaven explains why he wrote an op-ed in the New York Times titled "Our Republic Is Under Attack from the President" where he argued that President Trump is undermining many American institutions.
posted by cenoxo at 7:29 AM on October 18 [6 favorites]

Hawkish think tank speaks out — Forecast: The Consequences of the U.S. Withdrawal from Syria, Institute for the Study of War, Col. (Ret.) Ketti Davison, October 13, 2019. Bullet points (note details in article):
The United States made a deliberate choice to depart from Syria. America will pay a heavy price for this unforced error.
  • The United States has lost its defeat mechanism against the Islamic State.
  • The United States will face a pan-Kurdish uprising that will further fragment an already unstable region.
  • The United States’ decision to withdraw from Syria has emboldened jihadists worldwide.
  • The United States has ceded the moral high ground.
  • The U.S. decision to leave Syria has allowed a neo-Ottoman armed force to march on the Arab world
  • The United States has decided not to be an indispensable world leader.
The ISW (WP article) blog also posts a series of descriptive, updated 'Syria SITREP' maps: the latest is the Situation in Northeast Syria: October 17, 2019 Map.
posted by cenoxo at 9:00 AM on October 18 [9 favorites]

God, I finally got around to reading the Robin Wright piece from The New Yorker that gucci mane posted up-thread (and which is indeed fantastic). I kind of knew this already, but it really hit it home for me in a way I hadn't fully grasped before, what a fucking tragedy this whole thing is and how much we have betrayed the SDF. Ugh.
posted by AwkwardPause at 11:02 AM on October 18 [6 favorites]

WRT to the ISW maps linked above, they also post updated "Situation in Northeast Syria" maps.
posted by cenoxo at 12:39 PM on October 18

Turkish Trolls Working For Erdogan Hijacked American Right-Wing Media — And Rudy Giuliani’s Brain (BuzzFeed News) (contains racial slurs from quoted 4chan users)

About how Turkish-government-funded trolls pushed stories about Fethullah Gulen (he has a lot of followers in the charter-school business) from 4chan into right-wing media into Rudy trying to trade Gulen for Pastor Brunson. Come for Rudy, stay for the Mike Flynn cameo, in which, while serving on the Trump campaign, he floats the idea of kidnapping Gulen and returning him to Turkey.
posted by box at 1:22 PM on October 18 [4 favorites]

Withdrawing from Syria is a grave mistake (Mitch McConnell, WaPo Opinion)
The combination of a U.S. pullback and the escalating Turkish-Kurdish hostilities is creating a strategic nightmare for our country. Even if the five-day cease-fire announced Thursday holds, events of the past week have set back the United States’ campaign against the Islamic State and other terrorists. Unless halted, our retreat will invite the brutal Assad regime in Syria and its Iranian backers to expand their influence. And we are ignoring Russia’s efforts to leverage its increasingly dominant position in Syria to amass power and influence throughout the Middle East and beyond.

Predictably, our adversaries seem to be relishing these developments. The resulting geopolitical chain reaction appears to have been perfectly distilled by an online video which, according to reports, shows a smiling Russian “journalist” strolling around a just-abandoned U.S. military base in northern Syria. A strategic calamity neatly captured in one Facebook post.
posted by katra at 6:10 PM on October 18 [1 favorite]

katra: Withdrawing from Syria is a grave mistake (Mitch McConnell, WaPo Opinion)

Hey Mitch, you're probably the one person here with the power to actually do anything about it. Maybe try that instead of writing an op-ed?
posted by Arbac at 6:32 PM on October 18 [12 favorites]

gucci mane, would you know if any Turkish Air Force strikes are being flown out of Incirlik Air Force Base? Have there been any rumblings from the Turkish government about restricting/denying American military access to the base?
posted by cenoxo at 7:37 PM on October 18 [1 favorite]

@cenoxo: Unfortunately I don’t know enough about that stuff to give a good answer. Incirlik is only a hundred miles or so from Syria, right? I’d be surprised if they weren’t flying sorties from there but maybe it wouldn’t be that weird if they were coming from somewhere else. I don’t know about them denying use of the base to the US, I haven’t heard anything about that. I’d think that would be a fairly big piece of news if that were to happen, especially as I think we’re seeing a major reappraisal of Turkey as an ally and member of NATO and Putin’s desire to break up NATO, as well as all the European countries halting arms sales to Turkey.
posted by gucci mane at 10:46 PM on October 18

Flying east from Incirlik Air Base, it's about 70 miles to the Syrian border, and about 140 miles to Manbij in Northeastern Syria. Wikipedia has a List of Turkish Air Force bases and airfields with a diagram showing three additional air bases in southeastern Turkey.
posted by cenoxo at 8:05 AM on October 19 [1 favorite]

McConnell wants a Syria resolution stronger than what passed the Democratically controlled House

"I strenuously object"? (Youtube)
posted by JackFlash at 8:44 AM on October 19

It's incredible Mitch, you put a crazy Russian asset in the Presidency, he let you put your crooked wife in his cabinet, you were ok with children in cages, and now for some strange reason Trump thinks he can get away with anything up to and including sabatoging our own military. Maybe the SC positions weren't such a good trade after all.
posted by benzenedream at 8:50 AM on October 19 [8 favorites]

Mustafa Bali: VIDEO Turkish-backed armed groups threaten to behead any “infidel Kurd” they capture on their way to NE Syria. To all those who are worried that ISIS may come back. ISIS is already back to NE Syria with Turkish protection.

Mustafa Bali: VIDEO More jihadists, including former ISIS members dressed up in ISIS uniform, have been deployed to Syrian-Turkish border this morning in preparation of new attacks on border towns despite the announced cease-fire. Aggressors will continue to attack unless there is a guarantor.

Mustafa Bali is the head of the SDF press office. There’s a fantastic photo of him carrying a child out of harms way on the battlefield that made the rounds earlier in the invasion.

CMOC SDF: Gen. Mazloum Abdi to AFP:
If #Turkey is not committed to the agreement, we'll consider what happened a game between the #US and Turkey
As Turkey prevented the withdrawal of our forces, and claims that our forces did not withdraw,we will consider it a conspiracy against us.

Baderkhan Ahmad: VIDEO Now in Tal Tamr #Hospital, rescue teams managed to evacuate 37 #wounded from inside the #city of Ras Al-Ain, and were transferred to the #hospitals of #Qamishli, #Tal_Tamr and Al-Hasakeh.

BBC News: Turkey's Erdogan vows to 'crush heads' of Kurdish fighters
Speaking at a televised event in the central Turkish province of Kayseri on Saturday, President Erdogan said that if Kurdish fighters did not withdraw by Tuesday evening - as agreed in the ceasefire - "we will start where we left off and continue to crush the terrorists' heads".

The Turkish leader is due to hold talks next week with Russia's President Vladimir Putin. On Saturday he said that if those talks did not produce a solution, Turkey would "implement its own plans".

Turkey's defence ministry earlier accused Kurdish forces of carrying out 14 "provocative" attacks in the last 36 hours, mostly in Ras Al-Ain, but insisted Turkish forces were fully abiding by the agreement.

However, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) accused Turkey of violating the ceasefire.

They also accuse Turkish troops of failing to create a safe corridor for the evacuation of civilians and wounded people from the besieged town.
I’m not too sure people are believing Turkey, but I’m not tuned into mainstream media outlets very much these days. I’ve been seeing the war crimes stuff posted in major newspapers, which is good, and the typical Republicans like Lindsay Graham and some others have been accusing Turkey of breaking the cease fire.

Rojava Information Center: VIDEO Speaking to @RojavaIC, @DaveEubankFBR of the Free Burma Rangers describes their "miraculous" entry into Sere Kaniye, a city still besieged by the Turkish army and its proxies:

"The Free Syrian Army still has a lock on the city. So we need, still, a humanitarian corridor..."

I don’t know a lot about the Free Burma Rangers. Their Wikipedia page calls them a “private military company” but they appear to be a predominantly humanitarian aid organization?
posted by gucci mane at 10:49 AM on October 19 [3 favorites]

My impression is that "humanitarian aid" is used to cover pretty much any non-state actor in foreign conflicts. Maybe it's the contemporary euphemism for "foreign legion."
posted by rhizome at 11:40 AM on October 19 [1 favorite]

US Task Force Smoking Gun smuggles weapons to Syria: Serbia files (part 2)
Dilyana Gaytandzhieva is an investigative journalist from Bulgaria specializing in the murky underworld of Arms dealing.
posted by adamvasco at 4:47 PM on October 19

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