'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 (438 comments total) 70 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [2 favorites]

Basically he’s against the USA
posted by growabrain at 9:46 AM on October 8, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019

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, 2019 [50 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [10 favorites]

Never Again*
*for certain values of 'Never'
posted by j_curiouser at 12:11 PM on October 8, 2019 [4 favorites]

For others, “ever again,” instead.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:13 PM on October 8, 2019 [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, 2019

From 2015
Why Turkey is bombing the Kurds more than Islamic State.
posted by adamvasco at 12:22 PM on October 8, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [27 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [35 favorites]

posted by pompomtom at 2:15 PM on October 8, 2019

[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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [6 favorites]

I don't wanna live in interesting times.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:08 PM on October 8, 2019 [32 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [6 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [43 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [3 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [10 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019

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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [19 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [2 favorites]

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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [43 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019

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, 2019 [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, 2019

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, 2019 [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, 2019 [35 favorites]

“Things are complicated” “here’s an entirely simplified view” lol
posted by gucci mane at 11:50 AM on October 9, 2019 [9 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [3 favorites]

Not our first fuck-the-ally fiasco.
posted by j_curiouser at 4:41 PM on October 9, 2019 [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, 2019 [22 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, 2019 [57 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [12 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [7 favorites]

'Day after day
Alone [near] the Hill...'
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:39 AM on October 10, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [8 favorites]

So a humanitarian win?
posted by Mitheral at 7:36 AM on October 10, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [5 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, 2019

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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [16 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, 2019 [3 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, 2019 [11 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019

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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [1 favorite]

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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [19 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, 2019 [18 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019

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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019

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, 2019

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, 2019 [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, 2019 [11 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [15 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [1 favorite]

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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019

posted by gucci mane at 8:27 PM on October 12, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [20 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, 2019 [4 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, 2019 [12 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, 2019 [24 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, 2019 [1 favorite]

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, 2019 [30 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, 2019

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, 2019

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, 2019 [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, 2019 [6 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, 2019 [22 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, 2019 [31 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [4 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, 2019 [5 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [1 favorite]

Non-zero chance of US personnel engaging in mutiny at this point.
posted by ocschwar at 5:20 AM on October 14, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [17 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [5 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [9 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [13 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, 2019 [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, 2019

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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [11 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [16 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, 2019 [17 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, 2019 [15 favorites]

It does. Thank you for everything you are posting here.
posted by Golem XIV at 1:13 PM on October 15, 2019 [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, 2019 [24 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, 2019 [5 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [15 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [11 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [9 favorites]

Let's work out a good deal!
posted by FakeFreyja at 2:01 PM on October 16, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [1 favorite]

reads letter

posted by jquinby at 2:17 PM on October 16, 2019 [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, 2019 [6 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, 2019 [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, 2019

Talia Levin is a national treasure
posted by schadenfrau at 3:08 PM on October 16, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [2 favorites]

Apparently Erdogan threw Trump's letter in the bin.
posted by essexjan at 2:33 AM on October 17, 2019 [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, 2019 [14 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [9 favorites]

posted by gucci mane at 1:05 PM on October 17, 2019 [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, 2019

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, 2019 [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, 2019 [14 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [11 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, 2019 [25 favorites]

Trump vs. Trump: Kurds Edition
posted by kirkaracha at 9:29 PM on October 17, 2019

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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019

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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019 [14 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, 2019 [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, 2019

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, 2019 [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, 2019

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, 2019 [11 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, 2019 [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, 2019 [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, 2019

Does Trump understand how grossly he just insulted the president of Turkey?, Washington Post, Can Dundar, October 19, 2019:
Can Dundar, the former editor in chief of the leading Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet, is now living in exile.

Earlier this week, amid burgeoning scandals in Washington and a dramatic shift in the balance of power in Syria, President Trump revealed a letter he had sent to the president of Turkey [*]. Trump was apparently trying to show a confused American public that he’s really the man in charge.

Trump was acting on impulse. Yet his decision is likely to haunt Turkish-U.S. relations for a long time to come.

The text of the letter rocked Turkish politics. “Don’t be a fool!” Trump admonished his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan — an astonishing insult to a man who carefully guards his public image as a strongman. Trump threatened “to destroy the Turkish economy” and reminded Erdogan that “I have worked hard to solve some of your problems,” a reference to some personal matter whose nature we can only guess at. And he also recommended that Erdogan negotiate with Syrian Kurdish leader Gen. Mazloum Abdi — a man that Turkey considers to be a terrorist.

For anyone to address Erdogan in such language inside Turkey is inconceivable; he has sent many people to jail for far milder comments. He also has a long record of reacting harshly to criticism from abroad, and commentators waited with bated breath to see how he would respond.

For the historically minded, Trump’s missive recalls another letter [**] sent to Ankara from Washington 55 years earlier. In 1964, Turkey’s apparent preparations for a military operation in Cyprus unnerved President Lyndon B. Johnson. Johnson wrote to Turkish Prime Minister Ismet Inonu, expressing grave concern about the risk of a Turkish-Greek war in the Mediterranean and the damage it could cause to NATO. Johnson also warned about the possibility of direct involvement by the Soviet Union. In such a case, he said, the United States would not be able to defend Turkey — nor would he agree to the use of American military equipment.

The “Johnson letter” of 1964 was a turning point in Turkey’s relations with the United States. Ankara refrained from acting against Cyprus for the time being, but Turkish leaders never forgot how a U.S. president had lectured them....
*Trump’s short, signed-with-a-Sharpie letter to Erdogan is also at PBS.
**Lyndon Johnson's long, formal letter to Ismet Inonu is archived at The Office of the Historian of the U.S. Department of State.
posted by cenoxo at 12:37 AM on October 20, 2019 [10 favorites]

Mutlu Civiroglu: VIDEO Tonight in N. Syria while US forces are withdrawing ‘Thanks for US People but Trump Betrayed Us’

Another: Heartbreaking moments while US forces are ordered to leave N. Syria leaving behind defenseless Kurds, Arabs, Syriacs, Yezidis

Another: Tonight in N. Syria, Kurds showing their reaction to US forces who are ordered to withdraw. Emotional signs pointing out how people left defenseless

Rojava Information Center: VIDEO The humanitarian convoy has successfully returned from besieged Sere Kaniye, bringing with it many wounded, dead, civilians & also fighters, our team on the ground in Til Temir confirms.

This follows YPG spox statement last night that SDF would today withdraw from Sere Kaniye.

Kurdistan 24: Foreign ISIS wives in Syrian camp: 'Our men are waiting for us in Turkey'
Female Islamic State suspects living in al-Hol Camp in northeast Syria told Kurdistan 24 on Saturday that they welcomed the Turkish assault on the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and called on Ankara to invade the area and free them.

“God willing, Turkey will help us to flee from here and go to Turkey,” said a French woman known as Um Mustafa.

“We heard that the Turkish army attacked Ain Issa, and our sisters who were detained there have escaped and they fled to Turkey,” she said.

A Russian woman who preferred to be unidentified complained that Kurdish fighters had been preventing her from leaving the camp, saying, "We want Turkey to attack here.”

“If the Turkish army comes to this area, I will be able to flee and meet my husband, who I know well is in Turkey.”
Aylina Kiliç: Syrian Kurdish leader Ilham Ahmed has landed in Washington DC for talks with American officials on the future of northeast Syria, say sources.

#SDF’s Mazloum Kobani was initially invited but refused to leave the frontline to travel to the US, sending Ahmed as an envoy.

International Volunteers Report: VIDEO "I ran the #ISIS campaign, 40 000 foreign fighters jihadist from 110 countries around the world all came into #Syria to fight in that war and they all came through #Turkey" -@brett_mcgurk

Wladimir: VIDEO SDF Commander-in-Chief Mazlum Abdi clearly says the ceasefire deal only for the area between Tal Abyad + Ras al Ain.
He said would not be possible for Turkish army to enter Kobani and Cizere & ready if Turkey will decide attack other areas

Hoshang Hasan: The father fought against #ISIS , and win, but he lost his life by a #Turkish bullet.
The crying of the son is enough to know how he feels

posted by gucci mane at 5:53 PM on October 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

Can Dundar, the former editor in chief of the leading Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet, is now living in exile.

More about Can Dündar (WP):
  • Quote: "We are journalists, not civil servants. Our duty is not to hide the dirty secrets of the state but to hold those accountable on behalf of the people."
  • BBC HARDTalk interview, March 21, 2018
  • Cumhuriyet "The Republic" (WP)
Jailed and wanted Journalists in Turkey - Updated List at the Stockholm Center for Freedom:
Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) is an advocacy organization that promotes the rule of law, democracy, fundamental rights and freedoms with a special focus on Turkey, a country with eighty million citizens that is experiencing a dramatic decline in its parliamentary democracy under its autocratic leadership.

SCF is a non-profit organization set up by a group of journalists who have been forced to live in self-exile in Sweden against the background of a massive crackdown on press freedom in Turkey, where almost 300 journalists have been jailed, (For updated list click) and close to 200 media outlets have been shuttered by a series of arbitrary decisions taken by the Turkish authorities. It is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, a country that has a strong tradition on the freedom of expression and just celebrated the 250th anniversary of the anniversary for the adoption of legal guarantees for freedom of information and a free press.
What freedom of the press is supposed to do.
posted by cenoxo at 1:13 AM on October 21, 2019 [5 favorites]

Residents of Northeast Syria City Pelt Departing US Troops, Military.com, Lolita C. Baldor & Lefteris Pitarakis (Associated Press), October 21, 2019:
AKCAKALE, Turkey — Angry over the U.S. withdrawal from Syria, residents of a Kurdish-dominated city pelted departing American military vehicles with potatoes Monday as they drove through. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said U.S. troops will stay in eastern Syria to protect Kurdish-held oil fields for at least the coming weeks and he was discussing options to keep them there.

A video by the Kurdish news agency showed a convoy of armored vehicles driving through the northeastern city of Qamishli. People in the street hurled potatoes at the vehicles, shouting, "No America," and "America liar," in English.

"Like rats, America is running away," one man shouted in Arabic. Another shouted obscenities and talked of babies in Kurdish-held areas who have died in the Turkish offensive.


Esper said he is discussing an option that would keep a small residual U.S. military force to secure oil fields located in eastern Syria and continue the fight against Islamic State militants.

Speaking during a visit to Kabul, he said he has not made a final decision on that option and has not yet presented it to Trump. He underscored the importance of protecting the oil fields from ISIS to ensure the militants don't profit from them

He said American troops who are working with Kurdish-led forces to guard the oil fields are still in place. The withdrawal could take weeks, he said, and troops around the town of Kobani on the border with Turkey are the first leaving.

As part of the cease-fire deal, Kurdish forces on Sunday pulled back from the border town of Ras al-Ayn on Sunday, paving the way for Turkish troops deployment in the area. Under the deal, the Kurds are to withdraw from a stretch of territory 120 kilometers (75 miles) along the border and 30 kilometers (19 miles) deep. Qamishli is east of that area.
posted by cenoxo at 12:00 PM on October 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Trump has effectively made the US military a mercenary force. He touted sending troops to Saudi Arabia because they paid for everything, and now they’re being used to guard resource points in Syria. For whom, exactly? Does the US government expropriate oil themselves and sell it on the market? Or is this merely a territorial thing?
posted by gucci mane at 12:06 PM on October 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

US May Now Keep Some Troops in Syria to Guard Oil Fields, Military.com, Lolita C. Baldor (Associated Press), October 21, 2019.
posted by cenoxo at 12:07 PM on October 21, 2019

Trump keeps saying, "The Kurds are no angels." I'm confused, does he now think they are unarmed black boys being shot by the police? Could they at least keep their own racist excuses straight?
posted by bcd at 1:58 PM on October 21, 2019 [9 favorites]

Pompeo, asked about Turkey crisis, says Trump is ‘fully prepared’ to take military action if needed
“We prefer peace to war,” Pompeo told CNBC’s Wilfred Frost in a taped interview that aired on “Closing Bell” on Monday. “But in the event that kinetic action or military action is needed, you should know that Elder God Azathoth is fully prepared to undertake that action.”
Military action? Against a NATO ally? In this part of the world? At this point in this administration? In response to a crisis almost entirely of Trump's own making?
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 3:16 PM on October 21, 2019 [9 favorites]

Trump keeps saying, "The Kurds are no angels." I'm confused, does he now think they are unarmed black boys being shot by the police? Could they at least keep their own racist excuses straight?

Is there a word in psychology when you're trying to effect transference? Guilt by association, but as a strategy.
posted by rhizome at 3:24 PM on October 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Military action? Against a NATO ally? In this part of the world? At this point in this administration? In response to a crisis almost entirely of Trump's own making?

“Can we air it?” -the media
posted by nubs at 3:49 PM on October 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

In Rare Joint Statement, U.S. and European Lawmakers Condemn Trump for ‘Abandonment’ of the Kurds (Jerry Lambe, Law & Crime blog)
Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) on Monday issued a joint statement with his counterparts from several European allies condemning both President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeast Syria and the Turkish government’s subsequent military offensive in the region. [...]

The statement was co-signed by chairman of the U.K. House of Commons Committee on Foreign Affairs Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs David McAllister, chairman of the German Bundestag Committee on Foreign Affairs Norbert Rottgen, and Marielle de Sarnez, the chairwoman of the French National Assembly Committee on Foreign Affairs.
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:35 PM on October 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

X “is no angel” is one of Trump’s throwaway lines.

Usually prefaced with “Believe me, folks” which actually means “I am about to tell a lie I know my supporters will accept because it pleases them.”
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:13 PM on October 21, 2019 [9 favorites]

Rojava Information Center: Explainer: Shifting power plays in North and East Syria.
With the 13 October agreement between the Syrian Democratic Forces and Damascus, and the 17 October ‘ceasefire’ agreement between Ankara and Washington, the geopolitical situation in North and East Syria has been rapidly shifting. Both these agreements have been poorly understood, interpreted differently by various parties to the crisis in North and East Syria, and implemented on the ground in ways which differ from global media narratives.

Drawing on the text of the reports, eyewitness accounts and interviews conducted by Rojava Information Center, our new report explores the actual impact of both agreements in the region; the wider ramifications for all parties to the conflict; and whether these developments are likely to actually lead to lasting peace in the region.
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: The pro-Turkey factions open the silos of Tal Abyad and sell their contents .. and information about the return of ISIS commanders to Tal Abyad
Sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that one of the pro-turkey factions operating within the Operation “Peace Spring”, started to open Al-Dahaliz Silos east of Sluk town in Tal Abyad countryside and sell what is inside them.

And according to information obtained by the SOHR; a kilogram of barley is being sold now for 25 SYL, wheat for 80 SYL, and a ton of fertilizer sold for 100000 SYL.

At the same time, sources confirmed the return of the Emir of ammunition in the “Islamic State” organization in Tal Abyad, with 150 members to the city, amid information about the return of the people of Al-Ballou who are known for their ties to the organization.

A source in Sluk town pointed to the appearance of the media activist in the organization, who shot the scenes of throwing victims by the organization in Al-Houtah Hole, and he is one of the cousins of the first ISIS Emir in the area of Tal Abyad.
There are photos of the ISIS members on social media. When they pop back up I will post them. I saw somewhere that an “emir” is a commander, or some sort of official. The “media activist” emir they are talking about is a higher up who worked on their social media stuff, and he filmed a video of ISIS throwing people down a giant sinkhole, which I believe was this one.

Ceasefire ends in 3 hours.
posted by gucci mane at 9:23 AM on October 22, 2019 [5 favorites]

Trump Syria statement, paraphrased: Turkey's cease-fire-ing, sanctions will be lifted unless there's something we're not happy with. This is an outcome created by the United States, nobody else. We want other nations to get involved in securing the Turkey/Syria border. We'll be protecting the oil with a small number of troops and deciding what we want to do with it in the future. Kurds and Turks have been fighting for centuries, we planned on a short stay, it was supposed to be thirty days, but we were there for ten years, and now we're getting out.

"Let someone else fight over this long blood-stained sand."

Thanks some people. Countless lives saved, not one drop of American blood spilled. Just spoke to the wonderful General Mazloum, who was extremely thankful. He assured me that ISIS is under strict lock and key. There were a few that got out and they've been largely recaptured. We had a great talk. Thanks some people again.

"By getting that cease-fire to stick, we've done something very special."

Our troops are safe, and we could have never made this arrangement without the short outburst of fighting. We are now an economic powerhouse like ever before and like no other. We expect Turkey to abide by its commitments re ISIS and not ethnic cleansing. We implore European countries to try and incarcerate captured ISIS fighters. Now is Europe's chance to finally act. American forces defeated 100% of the ISIS caliphate. We thank SDF for their efforts in this area.

Some people wanted another American military intervention. "I don't think so." That would've required deploying tens of thousands of troops against a NATO ally and our good friend Erdogan. How many Americans must die in the Middle East, in these ancient sectarian tribal conquests. America has poured lots of blood and treasure into the deserts of the Middle East.

"Now people are saying, 'Wow, what a great outcome, congratulations.' It's too early for me to be congratulated, but we've done a great job."

Obama said Assad must go, but didn't get rid of him. Children were gassed and killed. But I honored my commitment with 58 tomahawks. Syria is a nightmare of misery, with anguish on a colossal scale. We've spent 8 trillion on wars, never really wanting to win them, in the Middle East. The ME is less safe, less stable, and less secure. People who support foreign wars also often support unlimited migration and importing terrorism. Border security is national security.

We're investing trillions to build up military might, our military won't be depleted fighting in areas of the world where we shouldn't be. We'll only deploy troops when a vital national interest is at stake.

"We need a plan of victory. We will only win... Nobody's gonna beat us."

Thanks some more people, including Erdogan ("in his mind he's doing the right thing for his country"), and we may meet soon. Thanks Mazloum for his incredible words about himself.

"The job of our military is not to police the world. Other nations need to step up and do their fair share."

One quick question: "You said ISIS fighters have been recaptured, but today your top envoy said that's not true, that they don't know where they are. Any comment?" By the 'any comment' part, Trump has already walked out of the room.
posted by box at 9:12 AM on October 23, 2019 [8 favorites]

Apparently Trump is calling the cease-fire in Syria a permanent cease-fire.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:14 AM on October 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

A Russian video from an abandoned American base. Looks like it everything was left behind, on a moment’s notice.
posted by growabrain at 10:42 AM on October 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Rips Trump for Claiming Syria Victory ‘Against All Evidence’ as ‘Distraction’ from Ukraine (Charlie Nash, Mediaite)

Basically Wag The Dog: using one fiasco to distract from another fiasco.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:05 AM on October 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

”the job of our military is not to police the world”
>sends 2000 troops to Saudi Arabia bc they allegedly paid for it
>keeps a few guys by the oil fields in Syria
posted by gucci mane at 11:15 AM on October 23, 2019 [6 favorites]

Trump’s Syria cease fire speech, CBSN (starts at 1:00), October 23, 2019.
posted by cenoxo at 11:24 AM on October 23, 2019

In Win For Putin, Turkey, Russia Reach Deal On Syrian Patrols (webpage title from NPR article, which has a softer title on the article itself -- "Turkey, Russia Reach Deal To Control Syrian Areas Once Patrolled By The U.S.")
The leaders of Russia and Turkey agreed Tuesday after more than five hours of talks on how to jointly patrol parts of Syria that until recently were controlled by Kurdish forces.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey signed a 10-point memorandum at the Black Sea resort of Sochi that is set to go into effect at midday Wednesday local time.

Under the deal, Russian military police and Syrian border guards will first facilitate the withdrawal of Syrian Kurdish forces from the Turkish border. Russians and Turks will then jointly patrol the area now occupied by the Turkish military. Russian military police and border guards from Syria will cross the over the Syrian side of the border with Turkey. At that point, the two forces will "facilitate the removal of YPG elements and their weapons," according to the memorandum.

The Kurdish YPG fighters, the key U.S. allies in the fight against ISIS, will have to retreat roughly 20 miles from the Turkish-declared security zone in Northern Syria. The pullback is expected to last about six days, the memorandum said. Once it's completed, Russia and Turkey will jointly patrol that zone.

As NPR's Jane Arraf reports, the deal brokered by Turkey and Russia allows for Turkish-Russian patrols outside the zone previously brokered by the U.S. while giving the Kurds an extra 150 hours to withdraw from the area. It also calls for Kurdish fighters to withdraw from Manbij and Tal Rifat, which are outside the immediate conflict area. The U.S.-brokered deal, put into place after Turkey began bombarding Kurdish facilities, is set to expire late Tuesday.
Emphasis mine. Unstated/un-spun: Turkey bombed Kurdish territory, U.S. said "cut that out!" Turkey and Russia agreed on how they'd now share control of the area. And as a bonus, Turkey and Russia claim an expanded area of Kurdish territory. All without Kurdish representation in this "negotiation."
posted by filthy light thief at 12:17 PM on October 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

Note too the bit about how we'll protect the oil and 'decide what to do with it in the future' (The Grayzone, not a source I'd usually cite, but they were quick with the quote--I cosign the reporting, but not the analysis), and note Esper's press conference, where he said that "A purpose of those [US] forces, working with the SDF, is to deny access to those oil fields by ISIS and others who may benefit from revenues that could be earned."

This following up on yesterday's tweet that 'the U.S. has secured the oil' (WaPo) and a Cabinet meeting where he suggests 'keep[ing] the oil' (WSJ) (he said 'we want to keep the oil' (Axios) on Monday as well).

And when he campaigned on the idea that we should've kept the oil (Guardian, 2016) in Iraq.

He thinks we get to decide what to do with the Syrian oil. He doesn't want anyone else to benefit from the revenues. If you've been keeping a bingo card, start looking for the space that says 'war crimes.'
posted by box at 12:22 PM on October 23, 2019 [6 favorites]

A Russian video from an abandoned American base. Looks like it everything was left behind, on a moment’s notice.

все ваши базы принадлежат нам
posted by kirkaracha at 12:28 PM on October 23, 2019 [5 favorites]

Speech text: Remarks by President Trump on the Situation in Northern Syria, White House - Foreign Policy, October 23, 2019:
Over the last five days, you have seen that a ceasefire that we established along Syria’s border has held, and it’s held very well, beyond most expectations. Early this morning, the government of Turkey informed my administration that they would be stopping combat and their offensive in Syria, and making the ceasefire permanent. And it will indeed be permanent. However you would also define the word “permanent” in that part of the world as somewhat questionable, we all understand that. But I do believe it will be permanent.

I have therefore instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to lift all sanctions imposed on October 14th in response to Turkey’s original offensive moves against the Kurds in Syria’s northeast border region. So the sanctions will be lifted unless something happens that we’re not happy with.

This was an outcome created by us, the United States, and nobody else, no other nation. Very simple. And we’re willing to take blame, and we’re also willing to take credit. This is something they’ve been trying to do for many, many decades. Since then, others have come out to help, and we welcome them to do so. Other countries have stepped forward, they want to help, and we think that’s great. The nations in the region must ultimately take on the responsibility of helping Turkey and Syria police their border. We want other nations to get involved.

We’ve secured the oil, and, therefore, a small number of U.S. troops will remain in the area where they have the oil. And we’re going to be protecting it, and we’ll be deciding what we’re going to do with it in the future.

Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds, have been fighting for centuries. We have done them a great service, and we’ve done a great job for all of them. And now we’re getting out. A long time. We were supposed to be there for 30 days; that was almost 10 years ago. So we’re there for 30 days, and now we’re leaving. It was supposed to be a very quick hit and let’s get out. And it was a quick hit, except they stayed for almost 10 years. Let someone else fight over this long-bloodstained sand.

There were some political pundits who responded to Turkey’s offensive in Syria by calling for yet another American military intervention. I don’t think so. But halting the incursion by military force would have required deploying tens of thousands of American troops against Turkey — a NATO Ally and a country the United States has developed a very good relationship with, including President Erdoğan.

The same people that I watched and read — giving me and the United States advice — were the people that I have been watching and reading for many years. They are the ones that got us into the Middle East mess but never had the vision or the courage to get us out. They just talk.

The same people pushing for these wars are often the ones demanding America open its doors to unlimited migration from war-torn regions, importing the terrorism and the threat of terrorism right to our own shores. But not anymore. My administration understands that immigration security is national security.

When we commit American troops to battle, we must do so only when a vital national interest is at stake, and when we have a clear objective, a plan for victory, and a path out of conflict. That’s what we have to have. We need a plan of victory. We will only win. Our whole basis has to be the right plan, and then we will only win. Nobody can beat us. Nobody can beat us.

I want to again thank everyone on the American team who helped achieve the ceasefire in Syria, saved so many lives, along with President Erdoğan of Turkey — a man I’ve gotten to know very well and a man who loves his country. And, in his mind, he’s doing the right thing for his country, and we may be meeting in the very near future.

The job of our military is not to police the world. Other nations must step up and do their fair share. That hasn’t taken place. Today’s breakthrough is a critical step in that direction.
Judging from the recent Syrian mess in the Middle East; adopting the goal of putting America first (and foremost); and encouraging Turkey (and all other nations) to do likewise, I think the U.S. military will be very, very busy in the future.
posted by cenoxo at 1:05 PM on October 23, 2019

I happened to be watching DW News on PBS this evening when this was reported and the news reader was scathing, pointing out that Trump never mentioned Putin, that the US hadn't been in Syria for "ten years", that troops weren't in fact coming home, and I forget what else. I can't find the clip online unfortunately but hearing such straightforward reporting brought tears to my eyes.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:16 PM on October 23, 2019 [5 favorites]

I haven’t been able to update much but just checking Twitter rn!

Reuters: Evidence found of war crimes during Turkish offensive in Syria, says U.S. official

There’s been a video posted around of Turkish-backed militiamen “desecrating” a woman’s body. Here’s a news story about that. CONTENT WARNING (note: I do not know if the video is posted in this article but it could be so I’m taking the precaution.) ’This is one of your whores’: Turkey’s Syrian proxies desecrate corpse of female YPJ fighter
On Tuesday, in a video published by the UK-based war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a bearded fighter is seen alongside others identifying themselves as the “Mujahideen of Faylaq al-Majd,” the ‘Jihadis of the Majid corps’ who invoke the word “Allah w Akbar” (God is Great) on several occasions.

“The corpses of PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party) and PYD (Democratic Union Party) pigs under the feet of the Mujahideen of Faylaq (Corps) al-Majd,” the fighter who is recording the video is seen saying.

Fighters of the same faction can be seen standing on the corpse of a member of the all-Kurdish female unit Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

“This is one of your whores whom you have sent to us. This is one of the whores under our feet,” the Turkish-backed proxy member, as he appears to chuckle from happiness, is seen saying.
The commander of the SDF, Mazloum Kobani Abdî, has spoken with Trump, and with Putin as well. Also, Ilham Ahmed, a leader of the Syrian Democratic Council (the political wing of the SDF) spoke with the House Oversight and Reform Committee. I haven’t seen a full video or transcript of it yet however. The evidence of atrocities was submitted and shown.
posted by gucci mane at 12:33 AM on October 24, 2019 [8 favorites]

..Trump never mentioned Putin...

The Donald doesn’t like to share credit, but Putin’s holding up the other end of this deal (with Erdogan and Syria in the middle):
Turkey Syria offensive: Russia deploys troops to border, BBC News, 23 October 2019

Russian forces have begun to deploy towards the Turkey-Syria border, as part of deal to remove Kurdish troops. Units have already entered the two key border towns of Kobane and Manbij.

Under the deal agreed by Russia and Turkey [*], Kurdish fighters were given 150 hours from noon on Wednesday to pull back 30km (18 miles) along the border.

Turkish troops will continue to control an area they took during a recent offensive against the Kurdish fighters, regarded by Turkey as terrorists. Part of Turkey's plan is also to create a "safe zone" along the border that will house some two million of the Syrian refugees it hosts.

The deal was negotiated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia's Vladimir Putin after lengthy talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday.

It was agreed that Russian and Syrian forces would oversee the Kurdish pullback in an area from the Euphrates river, just east of Manbij right up to the Iraqi border in the east. On Wednesday, Russia's defence ministry said its forces had crossed the river at noon (09:00 GMT) and "advanced towards the Syrian-Turkish border".

[See embedded map in article] Turkey and Russia’s Deal on Northeast Syria
*Russia and Turkey’s 10 point deal: Memorandum of Understanding Between Turkey and the Russian Federation, October 22, 2019 (original BBC link to this document is now broken):
President of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President of The Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin agreed on the following points:
  1. The two sides reiterate their commitment to the preservation of the political unity and territorial integrity of Syria and the protection of national security of Turkey.
  2. They emphasize their determination to combat terrorism in all forms and manifestations and to disrupt separatist agendas in the Syrian territory.
  3. In this framework, the established status quo in the current Operation Peace Spring area covering Tel Abyad and Ras Al Ayn with a depth of 32 km will be preserved.
  4. Both sides reaffirm the importance of the Adana Agreement [**]. The Russian Federation will facilitate the implementation of the Adana Agreement in the current circumstances.
  5. Starting 12.00 noon of October 23, 2019, Russian military police and Syrian border guards will enter the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border, outside the area of Operation Peace Spring, to facilitate the removal of YPG elements and their weapons to the depth of 30 km from the Turkish-Syrian border, which should be finalized in 150 hours. At that moment, joint Russian-Turkish patrols will start in the west and the east of the area of Operation Peace Spring with a depth of 10 km, except Qamishli city.
  6. All YPG elements and their weapons will be removed from Manbij and Tal Rifat.
  7. Both sides will take necessary measures to prevent infiltrations of terrorist elements.
  8. Joint efforts will be launched to facilitate the return of refugees in a safe and voluntary manner.
  9. A joint monitoring and verification mechanism will be established to oversee and coordinate the implementation of this memorandum.
  10. The two sides will continue to work to find a lasting political solution to the Syrian conflict within Astana Mechanism and will support the activity of the Constitutional Committee.
**Why is the 1998 Adana pact between Turkey and Syria back in the news?, Arab News, Sinem Cengiz, January 25, 2019.
posted by cenoxo at 12:49 AM on October 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

Alternate link to Full text of Turkey, Russia agreement on northeast Syria, Al Jazeera, 22 Oct 2019.

Analysis: Trump's 'success' in Syria cedes region to Russia — Trump believes the US has wasted too much money and blood on sectarian and tribal fighting in the Middle East, Al Jazeera, 24 Oct 2019:
President Donald Trump declared success in Syria on Wednesday and created a bumper-sticker moment to illustrate his campaign promise to put a stop to American involvement in "endless wars".

But with his abrupt withdrawal from what he called "bloodstained sand," the president ceded American influence over a huge swath of the region to rivals and may have spun the Middle East into a new season of uncertainty.

In remarks at the White House, Trump made the case that American administrations before him wasted too much money and blood on sectarian and tribal fighting in which the US had no place meddling.

"We have spent $8 trillion on wars in the Middle East, never really wanting to win those wars," Trump said. "But after all that money was spent, and all those lives lost, the young men and women, gravely wounded so many, the Middle East is less safe, less stable and less secure than before these conflicts began."

But analysts and politicians said Trump declared victory for a crisis along the border of Turkey and Syria that was arguably of his own making, while underplaying the reality that he has strengthened the hand of Russia....
posted by cenoxo at 5:55 AM on October 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

Ejder Memis: VIDEO Erdogan: "What is important is to prepare a controlled life in this enormous area, and the most suitable people for it are Arabs. These are not suitable places for Kurds' lifestyle ... because these areas are virtually desert." https://t.co/oP6yp50PId

Hadeel Oueis: VIDEO Thousands of Kurds mourn 3 SDF fighters. Al-Qaeda linked militias backed by Turkey continue to target Kurdish cities, killing civilians until this moment.

Giran Ozcan: Pro-Turkish govt. Journalist (👇🏽) calls on #Turkish intelligence to assassinate #SDF General @MazloumAbdi within 48 hours so that he is “unable to visit the #USA and speak in Congress”. He adds that “it would be classier if this happened while he was under American protection.”

Giran Ozcan is the Peoples’ Democratic Party representative to the United States. They’re a Kurdish political party in Turkey.

Richard Engel: .@realDonaldTrump calling on the Kurdish people to head to Syria's "Oil Region" where they have never lived. He's saying Kurds should abandon their cities, farms and homes. Mass population transfer was a tactic Stalin often used, not one called for by modern American presidents.

North Press Agency: VIDEO #SDF Commander-in-Chief Gen. @MazloumAbdi in press conference:
We have not yet agreed on 13 items
We demand a unified Syria
SDF to have peculiarity in the military system
We continue communication in consultation with Russian side

Ragip Soylu: Erdogan: “ [YPG/SDF head] Mazlum is his code name, a terrorist, there is a red notice on him. The US should deliver him to us. Justice Minister will do the necessary paperwork”

This guy has survived assassination attempts before, but it is worrying considering how Flynn was trying to setup a deal to kidnap Fethullah Gulen for Turkey.
posted by gucci mane at 7:23 PM on October 24, 2019 [6 favorites]

reminded me of gulen too, 'cept it was a very different u.s. government that was unmoved to turn him over. this debased government? this justice/state dep't? this capricious, contrary, cruel & determinedly ignorant narcissistic demagogue? i'll be surprised if mazloum passes through unmolested. by the government. (and i suspect the worst of other parties, organized & ... stochastic, known to go where kurds gather to beat them up, on some notable occasions when kurds have gathered in the streets and parks of the nation's capital).

resisting allowing my mind to dwell on the questions begged by the turkish president's ominous "suitable places for kurds' lifestyle" quip because i suspect it is some sort of semantic bomb: distracting at best, a malignant framing device at least, and a too-easy path to idle visualization of imagined atrocities, when obviously the suitable place for the lifestyle of kurds is where they have elected to pursue that lifestyle. (on the other hand: where two armies and myriad fundamentalist irregulars are trying to effect one's ethnic cleansing doesn't sound exactly suitable.)
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:21 PM on October 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

Turkey-Backed Rebels Who Filmed Gruesome Executions on Their Phones Accused of 'Blatant War Crimes' (Tim Hume, Vice News)
“Killing defenseless people in cold blood is utterly reprehensible and a blatant war crime,” said Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s secretary general.
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:00 PM on October 25, 2019 [4 favorites]

There have been a few other videos involving women posted online, but even with a content warning I don’t think I can post them here. The Kurdish Red Crescent also said a few of their nurses were killed and their bodies found mutilated in a sewer. Allegedly “Sharia Law” is being implemented in the city of Serekaniye.
posted by gucci mane at 4:47 PM on October 25, 2019 [4 favorites]

posted by katra at 9:04 PM on October 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

WRT protecting the oil fields in eastern Syria, here's Here's Everything We Know About The Reported U.S. Plan To Send Tanks To Syria (Updated), The War Zone, Joseph Trevithick, October 24, 2019:
The U.S. military is reportedly considering sending a task force equipped with tanks or other armored vehicles to establish an outpost overlooking oil and gas fields in eastern Syria [Feb 2018 article]. The primary aim of this deployment would be to prevent the Syrian regime or terrorist groups, such as ISIS, from seizing control of these resources. Where and to what degree the United States intends to maintain a military presence in Syria has been the subject of intense scrutiny and speculation following the start of a major Turkish operation into the northern part of the country two weeks ago, which then precipitated a major American withdrawal.

Newsweek, citing unnamed U.S. military officials, was first to report on this potential deployment, which is supposedly pending White House approval, on Oct. 23, 2019. Other outlets, also referencing anonymous sources, have offered corroborating reports. The Washington Post's Dan Lamothe said that his source indicated the troops would be stationed somewhere in the vicinity of the Conoco Gas Plant, which is situated outside of the Syrian city of Deir Ez Zor. This area has been under the control of U.S.-backed predominantly Kurdish forces from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) since 2017.

The concern now is that Turkey's intervention, which has primarily targeted the SDF, has drawn the attention of those forces away from the area and raises risks that Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad, together with his Russian and Iranian allies, or ISIS terrorists [April 2018 article] may make attempt to retake this strategic area. Within days of the official beginning of Turkey's operation, dubbed Peace Spring, reports had emerged that the United States was considering retaining some sort of residual force in the country to maintain control of these resources and otherwise ensure that ISIS does not make a comeback.

[Background info about the possible use of U.S. military forces.]

UPDATE: 10/25/2019—

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has now confirmed that a task force will reinforce existing U.S. personnel in Deir Ez Zor and will include "some mechanized forces." This could mean tanks or other heavy armored vehicles, but he did not elaborate on the exact force mix. "We are now taking some actions... to strengthen our position at Deir Ez Zor, to ensure that we can deny ISIS access to the oil fields," Esper told reporters on Oct. 25, 2019:
Pentagon to add troops to Syria to protect oil. Esper: “We are reinforcing that position, it will include some mechanized forces...the mission in Syria remains what the mission in Syria began with, it’s always been about defeating the ISIS coalition. That is the core mission” — Jennifer Griffin (@JenGriffinFNC) October 25, 2019
Boots will stay on the ground.
posted by cenoxo at 6:55 AM on October 26, 2019 [3 favorites]

So uh...this is something:

US military targeted ISIS leader al-Baghdadi in a raid on Saturday
The US military targeted the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in a raid in northwest Syria on Saturday, according to a senior US defense official. The CIA assisted in locating the ISIS leader, the official said.

President Donald Trump is scheduled to make a major announcement Sunday at 9 a.m., White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley announced. An administration official tells CNN that the announcement is foreign policy related.

Baghdadi, the leader of the terror group, has been in hiding for the last five years. In April, a video was published by the ISIS media wing al-Furqan that showed a man purporting to be Baghdadi. It was the first time Baghdadi has been seen since July 2014, when he spoke at the Great Mosque in Mosul.
Rojava Information Center: We are working with local sources to document looting and property crimes in the zone of Turkish occupation.

These images show the home of community leader Fuad Pasha after being plundered and burned.

Local supermarkets, cooperatives and other family homes were also plundered.

2nd: Also looted were:

- Wheat and barley stores
- Workshops for cement, iron and car batteries
- Car workshops throughout garage district

Look out for our detailed report on attacks and crimes against civilian infrastructure, coming soon.

Rudaw: Panic hits Syrian Kurdish businesses as fear of Turkish forces remains
Farmers and businessmen have been forced to sell crops at quarter of their original price, fearing a possible arrival of Turkish army and Syrian-backed militia groups to the border town of Darbasiyah. .

Originally from Kobane, Mohammed Isso now sells his wheat and barley for 25 Syrian pounds, down from its original value of 100 pounds before Turkey started its invasion campaign of northeastern Syria on October 9, which has received widespread condemnation from the international community.

Isso is worried that Turkish backed groups, who are now in Sari Kani (Ras al-Ain), less than a 30 minute-drive from his town, will loot his business if they reach Darbasiyah.

"We have lost confidence. There will be no stability. If the Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF] withdraw from this area, the Turkish-backed groups will have an open space to do what they wish,” he said. “They will easily come and loot our products, because there will be no one to protect us and stop them."

"Turkish attacks have impacted my business and the economy of the region in general," Isso lamented. "The Turkish-backed groups loot people’s houses, so people are afraid and sell off their products for cheaper prices,” he added.
Mustafa Bali: VIDEO ” We will resist

We will again prepare our children for school where they are raised with faith and culture

Every mother will be a teacher and a guide

Once again we will live in peace on our homeland"

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: The SOHR reveals medical reports confirming Turkey’s use of internationally prohibited weapons in northern Syria, calls on the international community to investigate and hold officials accountable
One of the reports obtained by the Syrian Observatory is one the case of H.H., a 23-year-old SDF fighter, who sustained injuries on 10 October while escorting a civilian convoy targeted by Turkey. He suffered injuries while he was in Ras al-Ain. According to the report, (H) arrived at the hospital with severe burns in the feet and hands, difficulty swallowing, severe cough and heartburn. The second case, which the SOHR obtained the medical report of it, is for (A.H), a SDF fighter aged 30 years, who was injured on October 15, in “Ras al-Ain” after an air strike targeted him. He was unconscious but remembers the smell of sulfur and saw red lights, and suffers from burns in the face, head, hands, chest and stomach.

Reliable medical sources disclosed several reports of other cases, including the case of J.C., a 23-year-old Syrian Democratic Forces fighter, who was injured in the industrial area of ​​Ras al-Ain after a Turkish airstrike in the area. He lost consciousness after the raid; however he confirms that he still remembers the smell of sulfur, and he suffers from severe burns, difficulty swallowing and watery eyes. Moreover, there was the case of (A.H.) a SDF fighter who is 19 years old, and he is one of the serious cases, as he suffers from second and third degree burns in 30% of his face, and confirmed in his testimony that he remembers seeing yellow and orange lights at the time of his injury, in “Alia Silos”’ area of ​​the M4 road, in a Turkish airstrike at 3 or 4 a.m. on October 17, 2019.
Brett McGurk: Syria, last 24 hours:

* US military returns in force from Iraq to guard oil fields

* Thousands of refugees stream in other direction into northern Iraq

* Erdogan threatens again to “do the cleansing work” in Kurdish areas US forces left to Russia and Assad


posted by gucci mane at 9:03 PM on October 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

The conspiracy theories and rumor mill are that Baghdadi was in Idlib, Syria, right by the Turkish border. The conspiracy theories revolve around giving Trump a victory, implying that Turkey knew where Baghdadi was. Potentially this is a payment for allowing the Turks to invade. None of that is confirmed of course.

And this is why I think an investigation should be opened up and the transcript of Trump’s call with Erdogan subpoenaed.
posted by gucci mane at 9:06 PM on October 26, 2019 [13 favorites]

Mixture of reports about the raid: it was either an airstrike or helicopters on the ground.

Amichai Stein allegedly with the video: #BREAKING: video from the operation in which Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS was reportedly killed

People on twitter are extremely suspicious of the raid and are awaiting more information. The actual raid allegedly took place 3 miles away from the Turkish border, by a town called Hurras al Din. There are a mixture of reports stating that he was living in Idlib, which is patrolled/controlled by Turkey.
posted by gucci mane at 9:59 PM on October 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

abu bakr al baghdadi was just chillin' in his compound wearing a suicide vest?
posted by 20 year lurk at 10:22 PM on October 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

Just woke up but gotta go to work. Currently the news is that SDF intel helped take down Baghdadi.
posted by gucci mane at 7:48 AM on October 27, 2019

C-SPAN has the closed captioning transcript of the announcement and Q&A.

Trump twice refers to Osama bin Laden as "handsome" or "very handsome". He repeatedly refers to securing oil for the US, arguing that we should do so in Syria and Iraq. He closes the Q&A by repeatedly describing deceased ISIS hostage (and likely rape victim) Kayla Mueller as "beautiful". He praises Russia.

He also tells an insane rambling lie about how his 2000 book "The America We Deserve" predicted that Osama bin Laden was a major threat to the US and had to be taken out. In fact, bin Laden is mentioned only once in passing, and if anything Trump describes him skeptically as "a shadowy figure with no fixed address" that "we're told" is public enemy number one.
posted by jedicus at 8:52 AM on October 27, 2019 [11 favorites]

Mr. Trump said Mr. al-Baghdadi was chased to the end of a tunnel, “whimpering and crying and screaming all the way” as he was pursued by American military dogs. Accompanied by three children, Mr. al-Baghdadi then detonated a suicide vest, blowing up himself and the children, Mr. Trump said.

Mr. al-Baghdadi’s body was mutilated by the blast, but Mr. Trump said tests had confirmed his identity. The president made a point of repeatedly portraying Mr. al-Baghdadi as “sick and depraved” and him and his followers as “losers” and “frightened puppies,” using inflammatory, boastful language unlike the more solemn approaches by other presidents in such moments. [...]

Critics of the president’s decision to withdraw American forces quickly argued that the operation took place in spite of, not because of, Mr. Trump and that if the military had not slow-rolled his plan to withdraw, the raid would not have been possible. [...]

Unlike previous presidents announcing such operations, Mr. Trump ended his national address by taking questions from reporters. He made a point of thanking Russia, Turkey, Syria and Iraq for their cooperation and said Kurdish forces provided “information that turned out to be helpful.”
According to Javed Ali, a former White House senior director for counterterrorism, the death of Baghdadi would be a “huge blow.” But, like the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces in 2011, it “will not lead to strategic defeat,” he said. Ali noted that the Islamic State has proved resilient despite the physical loss of its caliphate.
The AP has ongoing updates.
posted by katra at 9:06 AM on October 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

the President approved the raid "late last week" after being presented with different options. The objective, Esper said, was capturing al-Baghdadi or if necessary, killing him.
"He reviewed them, asked some great questions, chose the option that we thought gave us the highest probability of success and confirmation that the head of ISIS would be there and either captured and killed and then we executed from there," Esper said.

"He reviewed them, asked some great questions" ... Everyone in the administration feels the need to stroke the ego of the very stable genius. It's laughable. Do they realize that it makes Trump sound like a petulant child they have to coddle?
posted by JackFlash at 9:09 AM on October 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

Trump has no gravitas. But his followers can't see that.

I suppose and hope that this happened because it was a good time strategically. But if it was a "wag the dog"- situation, where they are trying to create a success for the president, they are wasting it too soon.
Also, they are so clearly imitating the description of the bin Laden raid. It's like Melania copying Michelle.
posted by mumimor at 9:15 AM on October 27, 2019 [8 favorites]

There are sirs in there
posted by mumimor at 9:41 AM on October 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

I’m surprised that Al Baghdadi didn’t call Trump sir as one of his last utterances.
posted by affectionateborg at 9:43 AM on October 27, 2019 [8 favorites]

There's always a tweet.

@realDonaldTrump, 6:12 PM - 22 Oct 2012
Stop congratulating Obama for killing Bin Laden. The Navy Seals killed Bin Laden.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:46 AM on October 27, 2019 [21 favorites]

"These people are very smart. They are not into the use of cell phones any more. They are technically brilliant. They use the internet better than anybody in the world, perhaps other than Donald Trump. What they have done with the internet through recruiting."
posted by box at 9:52 AM on October 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

Detailed background on ISIS-controlled oil fields – Inside Isis Inc: The journey of a barrel of oil, Financial Times; Erika Solomon, Robin Kwong and Steven Bernard; UPDATED February 29, 2016.
Isis controls most of Syria’s oil fields and crude is the militant group’s biggest single source of revenue. Here we follow the progress of a barrel of oil from extraction to end user to see how the Isis production system works, who is making money from it, and why it is proving so challenging to disrupt, even with airstrikes.

[Topics with maps]

1. Where the oil is extracted
2. Selling crude oil
3. Oil refineries
4. Fuel to market
5. Fuel smuggling
6. Airstrikes

Why is the Isis oil trade so difficult to disrupt? [FT, October 14, 2015]
More at WP’s Petroleum industry in Syria.

Oil and war have a highly flammable relationship. Remember that little spark from Iraq’s Invasion of Kuwait?
posted by cenoxo at 10:19 AM on October 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Mazloum Abdî: ‏التنسيق و العمل المشترك في ملاحقة و استهداف قيادات تنظيم داعش الإرهابي مستمرة بوتيرة عالية وستحدث عمليات مماثلة قريباً.
‏The joint cooperation in monitoring and targeting ISIS leaders is giong strongly and soon there will be other effective operations.

In March of this year another YPG commander stated that Baghdadi was in Idlib, according to somebody who is able to read this article.

Foreign Policy: ISIS Leader Killed in U.S. Special Operations Raid in Northern Syria
Syrian Kurds spent five months gathering intelligence on Baghdadi.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spent five months working with the U.S. government to gather intelligence on Baghdadi’s whereabouts, according to Kurdish and U.S. officials. Gen. Mazloum Abdi, SDF commander, was the only foreigner to know about the target, he told Foreign Policy through a translator. His account was confirmed independently by the senior U.S. official.

The operation was delayed for a full month by Turkey’s military activity at the border and the subsequent incursion into northeastern Syria, Mazloum said. Ankara moved into Syria days after Trump withdrew U.S. forces from the border in early October, move was widely seen as essentially green-lighting the Turkish operation.

“Mazloum built a sophisticated network of informers in Northwest Syria, a lot of his intelligence helped even stopping terrorist attacks in the west,” said Ahed Alhendi, a Syrian analyst close to the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), the SDF’s political arm.

Baghdadi dragged three of his children into a tunnel before detonating a suicide vest, killing himself and the children, Trump said. Though his body was “mutilated” by the blast and the tunnel collapse, on-site test results “gave certain immediate and totally positive identification, it was him,” Trump said.

Baghdadi was hiding out in Idlib province in northwestern Syria, in an area controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadi rebel group hostile to the Islamic State, according to the senior U.S. official.

Trump thanked the governments of Russia, Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, as well as the Syrian Kurds, for support that aided the successful completion of the mission. The president said he watched the operation from the Situation Room with Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, and other generals.

Trump said the operation did not make him rethink the decision to withdraw the majority of U.S. troops from Syria. “We’re leaving soldiers to secure the oil,” he said. Syria’s rich oil fields are situated in eastern Syria, primarily in territory controlled by the SDF.

The SDF, which has fought the Islamic State alongside the United States and others since 2015, contributed to the operation through a network of human intelligence throughout northern Syria, according to U.S. and Kurdish sources. Though Idlib is controlled primarily by Syrian rebels and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham—formerly known as the Nusra Front, the Syrian arm of al Qaeda—the SDF has “many sympathizers and informers” there, a Kurdish source said.
Emphasis mine. Lately, with Mazloum potentially traveling to Washington and a lot of Turkish government and pro-Turkish mouth pieces pushing the “Mazloum Abdî is a PKK terrorist” and talking about assassinating or extraditing him, it’s important to remember what I learned earlier this week (or was it last week?), which I’ve been thinking about pretty heavily in light of the furor over the PKK that’s happened lately: Mazloum Abdî (and a lot of Kurds in general) have been fighting and building networks for decades. This is exactly why you do not abandon your allies. The PKK, while nominally a terrorist organization (and there are arguments for and against that designation, for sure), also has a lot of Human Resources and even clout amongst Syrian Kurds, Arabs, and other groups across Northern Syria, not to mention Turkey. While I do not have any information that the PKK aided in the intelligence gathering, I think it is extremely probable that Abdî used his clout and built connections over the years to obtain this information.

I’ve been reading things on Twitter that, again, are not fully substantiated, but if anyone else would like to research it that’d be great.

Primarily, this:

Ross Greer: The US has a base in Turkey, 100km from Baghdadi's location. Not only did they use a base 700km away in Iraq for this op instead, they didn't even notify Turkey, despite Baghdadi being in territory under Erdogan's control.

Pretty clear the US knew Turkey would tip him off.

So the rumor mill and conspiracy theories are still going. Whether this is fervent anti-Turkey sentiment or actually substantiated rumors, I do not know quite yet. Maybe both ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by gucci mane at 11:26 AM on October 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

Trump is quoted as saying "[Baghdadi] ignited his vest, killing himself and the three children. Test results gave certain, immediate and totally positive identification. It was him." I have no reason to doubt that al-Baghdadi was killed, but after the last three and a half years it's very clear that the more emphasizing and superlative adjectives that Trump uses, the more likely it is that he's lying or distorting. I doubt that even Trump would be able to get away with an outright lie here, but it seems entirely plausible that the report he was given was much more qualified about the identification of al-Baghdadi's body. It would not surprise me at all if it turned out that Trump was told that the body was probably al-Baghdadi's but that they could not yet confirm it, and his emphatic "certain, immediate, and totally positive" is a reflexive and preemptive attempt to cover that uncertainty with a lie.

Al-Baghdadi was a monster and I hope he really is dead, not only because of the horror he could still inflict on the world but also because if it turns out he's not, this will be yet another major blow to U.S. credibility.
posted by biogeo at 11:47 AM on October 27, 2019 [9 favorites]

Yeah, that line set off my bullshit detectors too. It’s a very specific set of qualities and immediately makes you wonder what the unnamed identification method was. DNA analysis would be “certain,” but not immediate. Facial recognition would be immediate, but the “mangled—but” framing seems to be implying it that wasn’t possible t do that with certainty. I think biogeo’s take is exactly right.
posted by lostburner at 12:25 PM on October 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

NYT: Al-Baghdad’s raid succeeded largely in spite of Trump.

Raid had to be pushed up due to Trump’s precipitous withdrawal from northern Syria.
posted by darkstar at 12:45 PM on October 27, 2019 [8 favorites]

It's dubious as it is to pull a self-absorbed stunt like this victory lap but maybe wait before the ink is dry on the Mattis mockery before you immediately turn to steal some credit from the military whose allies you just screwed over. As the above NYT coverage shows, no one seems inclined to let him walk away with whatever credit exists here.
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:27 PM on October 27, 2019

Baghdadi under Turkey's nose, bin Laden in Pakistan...it's almost like everybody in that part of the world, foe and "friend" alike, is playing the US.
posted by rhizome at 3:16 PM on October 27, 2019 [5 favorites]

"Test results gave certain, immediate and totally positive identification."

Yeah, that line set off my bullshit detectors too.

NYT (Oct 27, 2019 Updated 6:28 p.m. ET): "A Defense Department official said before the president’s announcement that there was a strong belief — “near certainty” — that Mr. al-Baghdadi was dead, but that with any other president, the Pentagon would wait for absolute certainty before announcing victory."

Newsweek (Oct 26, 2019 at 10:45 PM EDT): "A U.S. Army official briefed on the results of the operation told Newsweek that Baghdadi was killed in the raid, and the Defense Department told the White House they have "high confidence" that the high-value target killed was Baghdadi, but further verification is pending DNA and biometric testing."

CNN (Updated 5:19 AM ET, Oct 27, 2019): "ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is believed to have been killed in a raid conducted by the US military in northwest Syria on Saturday, according to a senior US defense official and a source with knowledge. The final confirmation is pending while DNA and biometric testing is conducted, both sources tell CNN."
posted by katra at 4:09 PM on October 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

DNA testing? Compared to what? Do they have his DNA or his relatives on file?
posted by JackFlash at 4:22 PM on October 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

WaPo: "The DNA material needed to identify Baghdadi was voluntarily provided by one of his daughters, the official said."
posted by katra at 4:55 PM on October 27, 2019

And now, here we are, collecting the evidence of our enemies from the bodies of their children.
posted by SPrintF at 5:37 PM on October 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Techniques used in the May 2, 2011 Death of Osama bin Laden > Identification of the body:
U.S. forces used multiple methods to positively identify the body of Osama bin Laden:
  • Measurement of the body [post-mortem estimate]
  • Facial recognition software [post-mortem photo analysis]
  • In-person identification [witnesses at the scene]
  • DNA testing [compared to family DNA]
  • Inference [physical evidence at the scene]
More details in the thorough WP article, especially WRT how OBL’s body height was estimated.
posted by cenoxo at 6:09 PM on October 27, 2019

Trump is trying to set up a narrative that his "DROP EVERYTHING AND RUN" troop withdrawal was a good deal in exchange for intel on al-Baghdadi from Erdogan and Putin, to keep anyone from investigating what the real deal was. Nice to see the NYT (or more likely, the intelligence officers pissed at this framing) for once getting ahead of Trump's bullshit -- no, it was the Kurds and Iraqis who gave the intelligence, not Erdogan and Putin.
posted by benzenedream at 6:58 PM on October 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

Measurement of the body [post-mortem estimate]

To be fair this was literally having a guy lie down on the ground next to bin Laden's body. So maybe more of a guesstimate.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:31 PM on October 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

Situation Room: 2 photos capture vastly different presidents: Compare and contrast the staged photo of Trump and four old white dudes vs. the genuine Obama article.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:46 PM on October 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Relinquishes Control of ISIS, but not the Islamic Caliphate, International Policy Digest, August 23, 2019. Note also the mention of his “limb paralysis”:
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ruthless commander of ISIS, has named a successor to replace him at the helm of the terrorist organization, Abdullah Qardash [WP bio] of Tal Afar, a predominantly Sunni Muslim city in northwestern Iraq. The appointment was announced on 8 August, via ISIS’s semi-official news agency, Amaq.

It came as little surprise to jihad-watchers across the globe, given Abu Bakr’s deteriorating health since his most recent recorded address in April, he is believed to be suffering from limb paralysis—according to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior—sustained from shrapnel wounds inflicted during ISIS’ last battle in Hajin on the Euphrates River in Syria [* article below].

What many failed to grasp was that Qardash’s designation was to replace Baghdadi only as commander of ISIS and not the self-proclaimed caliphate of all Muslims, a post that Baghdadi had assumed back in 2014. That remains exclusively in the hands of Baghdadi—at least for now—and he won’t be relinquishing it to anybody, anytime soon.
Not voluntarily, anyway. Who is a likely candidate?

*Previous report of Abu Bakr’s leg paralysis from Iraqi Intelligence Source: ISIL Ringleader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi Paralyzed in Syria, FARS News Agency, July 31, 2019:
“Al-Baghdadi together with a number of his Arab and foreign aides are presently in Syria as he is feeling too much danger after several ISIL commanders were killed in Iraqi Army’s military operations on ISIL’s hideouts in Western Iraq,” Head of Iraq’s Intelligence Forces Abu Ali al-Basri told the Arabic-language al-Sabah newspaper on Monday.

He noted that al-Baghdadi has now taken a defensive position under threat by Iraq’s intelligence forces, escaping battle with the Syrian and Iraqi armies.

Al-Basri noted that al-Baghdadi is still very much popular among his foreign, Arab and Iraqi militants, and said that the ISIL ringleader is now replacing some his commanders after he lost a number of his militants and aides in a joint military operation by the Iraqi intelligence forces and the Syrian Army.

He reiterated that al-Baghdadi has been paralyzed after he sustained a spinal cord injury in the Iraqi forces’ attack on a meeting between him and his aides in al-Hojin region before the ISIL left the region in 2018.
Another one bites the dust, and yet another one stands up.
posted by cenoxo at 7:55 PM on October 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

WaPo: "Despite Baghdadi's vest detonating, U.S. troops were able to recognize him, the official said. A ground commander reported to Marine Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, chief of U.S. Central Command, that they were “absolutely convinced” it was the Islamic State leader. McKenzie in turn relayed that message to the White House. The results of the DNA test were complete Sunday morning, the official said."

Trump is trying to set up a narrative that his "DROP EVERYTHING AND RUN" troop withdrawal was a good deal

WaPo: "The ideal time to act is when the leadership ranks are in chaos, as they are now, the official said, and militants’ likely movements or communications provide opportunities to target them. “We’ll keep picking away,” the official added." [...]
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), ranking minority-party member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was among the Democrats who paired accolades for a successful operation with a warning about the potential impact of Trump’s larger Syria policy.

“The concern of this hasty withdrawal is that we’re going to lose that connectivity with the Kurds in terms of intelligence gathering,” Reed said in an interview. “I think that’s going to be a very significant loss going forward.”
posted by katra at 7:59 PM on October 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

ISIS Already Has a New Leader, But Baghdadi May Not Have Been Running The Group Anyway (Newsweek)
Abdullah Qardash, sometimes spelled Karshesh and also known as Hajji Abdullah al-Afari, was said to have been nominated by Baghdadi in August to run the group's "Muslim affairs" in a widely-circulated statement attributed to ISIS' official Amaq news outlet, but never publicly endorsed by the group. Though little is known about the former Iraqi military officer who once served under late leader Saddam Hussein, one regional intelligence official asking not to be identified by name or nation told Newsweek that Qardash would have taken over Baghdadi's role—though it had lost much of its significance by the time of his demise.

Baghdadi, who died after detonating a suicide vest following a Delta Team operation first reported by Newsweek, built ISIS' self-styled caliphate out of Al-Qaeda's Iraqi branch, but the official said that the influential hard-line cleric's role had become largely symbolic. "Baghdadi was a figurehead. He was not involved in operations or day-to-day," the official told Newsweek. "All Baghdadi did was say yes or no—no planning."
posted by katra at 8:38 PM on October 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

we’re going to lose that connectivity with the Kurds

"What's on your mind today, Brutus?" "I'm worried I'm going to lose that connectivity with Caesar now that I stabbed him to death in the Senate."
posted by Not A Thing at 8:41 PM on October 27, 2019 [10 favorites]

A paralyzed guy ran to the end of a tunnel while under attack? Seems problematic.
posted by j_curiouser at 9:26 PM on October 27, 2019 [12 favorites]

Stop congratulating Obama for killing Bin Laden. The Navy Seals killed Bin Laden.

Fair enough. We won't credit you with killing Al Baghdadi, then, either. (Which we won't, anyway)
posted by Stoneshop at 10:19 PM on October 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

The results of the DNA test were complete Sunday morning, the official said.

Compact, portable Rapid DNA testing instruments (developed by the Department of Homeland Security and recently used by ICE) can obtain results for multiple individuals within 90 minutes. One of these units could have been aboard a helicopter on the Barisha Raid, with DNA swabs taken from the dead Abu Bakr and his children.
posted by cenoxo at 11:00 PM on October 27, 2019

Doubts over Donald Trump's dramatic account of Baghdadi raid, The Guardian, Michael Safi, 28 Oct 2019:
Footage relayed to US situation room was only overhead surveillance and had no audio.

Footage of the US special forces raid on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s Syrian compound reportedly consisted of overhead surveillance footage and no audio, prompting questions over the extent of the dramatic licence taken by Donald Trump in describing the final moments of one of the most wanted terrorists in the world.

US officials who also watched the feed have declined to echo details of Trump’s macabre account of the Isis’s leader death on Saturday, including that Baghdadi was “whimpering, crying and screaming all the way”.

Revelling in a major national security accomplishment in his press conference on Sunday morning, Trump said Baghdadi, 48, had “spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread” as a US military dog pursued him and three of his children down a dead-end tunnel.

Cornered, Baghdadi detonated his suicide vest, killing himself, his children and injuring the “beautiful” and “talented” dog, Trump said.

The White House monitored the Syria operation through video feeds that Trump said was “as though you were watching a movie”.

The footage piped into the situation room would have consisted of overhead surveillance shots of the dark compound with heat signatures differentiating between US fighters and others, intelligence and military officials told the New York Times.

Those cameras would not have been able to peer into the tunnel where Baghdadi died, nor provide audio proof of his conduct during the last minutes of his life.
Remember that The Donald, to put it tactfully, always exaggerates and embellishes any success.
posted by cenoxo at 6:07 AM on October 28, 2019 [8 favorites]

The White House monitored the Syria operation through video feeds that Trump said was “as though you were watching a movie”.

Perhaps he's seen Patriot Games (1992) too many times: Patriot Games Desert Attack (SLYT).

Trump's (self-authored?) White House statement — Statement from the President on the Death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, October 27, 2019 — reads more like a Saturday night action/thriller movie review than an official Presidential announcement.
posted by cenoxo at 7:52 AM on October 28, 2019 [4 favorites]

Compact, portable Rapid DNA testing instruments (developed by the Department of Homeland Security and recently used by ICE) can obtain results for multiple individuals within 90 minutes.

CNBC: "Trump said that an on-site DNA test confirmed Baghdadi’s death just 15 minutes after he was killed"

Remember that The Donald, to put it tactfully, always exaggerates and embellishes any success.
posted by katra at 8:03 AM on October 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Not to mention how often he gets things confused.

Extending that CNBC quote: "Trump said that an on-site DNA test confirmed Baghdadi’s death just 15 minutes after he was killed, and that American troops brought back “body parts” from the scene."

They brought back body parts? Really?

Seems like having one's head, arms, etc. blown off one's body by an explosive vest [WP > Forensic Investigation (text description)] would be rather instantaneous proof of death. However, if a President were to order (FAKE) "Bring me the head of Al Baghdadi !", then that's the trophy they get.

SNL or John Oliver would go absolutely nuts over this.
posted by cenoxo at 8:43 AM on October 28, 2019

They brought back body parts? Really?

Huh, I haven't seen anything about MBS lending a hand on this one.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:56 AM on October 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

Everything We Know And Don't Know About The Raid That Killed ISIS Leader Al Baghdadi (Updated), The War Zone, Tyler Rogoway and Joseph Trevithick, October 27, 2019. Lengthy, military POV article that ends with:
Source tells me Abu Bakr al Baghdadi remains have already been buried at sea.
Jennifer Griffin (@JenGriffinFNC) October 28, 2019.
posted by cenoxo at 9:04 AM on October 28, 2019

Trump's (self-authored?) White House statement — Statement from the President on the Death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, October 27, 2019 — reads more like a Saturday night action/thriller movie review than an official Presidential announcement.

Goodness, how can that even get sent out? At this point, he is totally out of control. I wonder how the US will ever get repaired again.
posted by mumimor at 10:11 AM on October 28, 2019 [4 favorites]

Now on NBC News: Watch live: Pentagon briefing on al-Baghdadi raid, 1:00 PM ET, 10/28/2019.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley hold a briefing on the mission that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
posted by cenoxo at 10:25 AM on October 28, 2019

“Our ‘K-9,’ as they call it,” Trump said, “I call it a dog. A beautiful dog – a talented dog – was injured and brought back.”

It seems no one bothered to tell Trump that their propaganda plan to "wag the dog" is a euphemism, not a literal thing.
posted by JackFlash at 10:32 AM on October 28, 2019 [4 favorites]

C'est finis, but there's a Washington Post video of the Pentagon presser on YouTube.
posted by cenoxo at 10:34 AM on October 28, 2019

The press briefing starts about 9:30.
posted by cenoxo at 10:39 AM on October 28, 2019

So does anyone in the press have the nerve to ask Espey if there was audio of the raid or was Trump just making stuff up?
posted by JackFlash at 10:51 AM on October 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

WRT earlier comments about body parts, JCS Gen. Mark A. Milley stated that al-Baghdadi's remains were transported from the raid site to another (undisclosed) location for DNA identification.
posted by cenoxo at 10:58 AM on October 28, 2019

mumimor Goodness, how can that even get sent out? At this point, he is totally out of control. I wonder how the US will ever get repaired again.

We were never unbroken, its just that we could deceive ourselves into thinking we were.

But Trump's bloodthirsty gore is exactly what a great many Americans want and think is symbolic of strength, resolve, and all that stuff.

Way back when Osama was killed I had a conservative friend (back when I had conservative friends) who was absolutely livid at Obama. Because Obama had ordered a burial at sea rather than having Osama's head cut off and put on a pike outside the White House. No, seriously, that's what he said should have been done I'm not exaggerating or engaging in hyperbole. He not only thought Obama should have had the corpse torn up and the head on display, he told me he thought the world was laughing at us because we didn't do that.

To him that was strength. And anything less was weakness. I'm not in touch with him anymore, but I'm sure he thought Trump's b-movie gorefest was a great thing and a proper show of American strength.
posted by sotonohito at 11:24 AM on October 28, 2019 [10 favorites]

Related background info — "Identity Intel Ops" Turn US Special Operators Into Combat Detectives, The War Zone, Joseph Trevithick, June 30, 2017:
When you hear a report about an American counter-terrorism operation, especially one that results in the death or capture of some apparently notable militant in a hot spot around the world, you’ll often hear about how important intelligence was in tracking them down. What you won’t hear much about is exactly what this “intelligence driven” process necessarily entails in any detail. The War Zone has now obtained a document through the Freedom of Information Act that gives a more in depth look at how U.S. special operators are becoming combat detectives, gathering vacuuming up forensic details during missions that could lead them to their next target.
posted by cenoxo at 11:25 AM on October 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

He not only thought Obama should have had the corpse torn up and the head on display, he told me he thought the world was laughing at us because we didn't do that.

It sounds more like he didn't like Obama and came up with something that would never ever happen in real life from any administration of any party. And it is hyperbole, by definition: proposing an impossible consequence for a conventional act.

I do this too, I think a lot of people do, but I think I'm fairly up front about it being a fantasy.
posted by rhizome at 12:06 PM on October 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Time Magazine: U.S. Spies Say Turkish-Backed Militias Are Killing Civilians As They Clear Kurdish Areas in Syria
Three weeks after President Donald Trump ordered U.S. forces to pull out of northern Syria, American spy agencies are seeing disturbing intelligence. Turkish-backed militias, armed by Ankara, have killed civilians in areas abandoned by the U.S., four U.S. military and intelligence officials tell TIME. The officials say they fear that the militias committing those potential war crimes may be using weapons that the U.S. sold to Turkey.

These officials say they are concerned that worse could lie ahead. Turkey and its allies are deploying larger forces and bringing more significant weapons to the field than would be necessary to complete their publicly-stated mission. They have said that they plan only to maintain a security zone along a 18-mile wide ribbon of land south of Turkey’s border with Syria. “They’re far more than the Turks need to conduct the operations they’re supposed to be conducting,” one of the U.S. officials told TIME.
North Press Agency: Sources to North-Press:
A landing operation took place in Jarablus by Global @coalition, northeastern countryside of Aleppo, under control of Turkish-backed Euphrates Shield groups,
Operation resulted in the arrest of a group of people, likely ISIS members

Matthew Petti: BREAKING: Syrian Democratic Council representative @sinam56 just confirmed to me that the #SDF and the US military conducted counter-#ISIS operations with air support in #Afrin and #Jarabulus, both #Turkey-held territories. Updates to come...

Afrin was under the control of the YPG until Turkey invaded back in I believe December of 2018, and began ethnically cleansing it. It wasn’t very much involved during the civil war, and now there are anti-ISIS operations occurring in it. This isn’t very surprising to a lot of people, as I’ve seen photos from Afrin of ISIS members rolling around, but it seems like a lot of stuff is happening with ISIS in areas controlled by Turkey.

Unrolled thread from Polat Can, SDF senior advisor, about the Baghdadi operation: 1- Through our own sources, we managed to confirm that Al Baghdadi had moved from Al Dashisha area in Deir Al Zor to Idlib. Since 15 May, we have been working together with the CIA to track Al Baghdadi and monitor him closely.
2 - One of our sources was able to reach the house where Al Baghdadi was hiding. Al Baghdadi changed his places of residence very often. He was about to move to a new place in Jerablus.

3 - Our own source, who had been able to reach Al Baghdadi, brought Al Baghdadi’s underwear to conduct a DNA test and make sure (100%) that the person in question was Al Baghdadi himself.

4- More than a month ago, the decision was made to eliminate Al Baghdadi. However, the US withdrawal and the Turkish invasion prompted us to stop our special operations, including the pursuit of Al Baghdadi. The Turkish invasion caused a delay in the operation.

5- All intelligence and access to Al Baghdadi as well as the identification of his place, were the result of our own work. Our intelligence source was involved in sending coordinates, directing the airdrop, participating in and making the operation a success until the last minute

6 - All armed groups and elements surrounding the village of Barisha were Daesh (ISIS) terrorists, operating under various names. In the airdrop operation, all their military posts and positions were targeted.

7- Terrorist Abu al-Hassan was on a special mission to Jerablus to secure Al Baghdadi’s transfer to his new home. There was a plan B to target Al Baghdadi in his new home if he had moved before the planned strike in Barisha. Abu al-Hassan was closely monitored by SDF intelligence
posted by gucci mane at 4:21 PM on October 28, 2019 [6 favorites]

So does anyone in the press have the nerve to ask Espey if there was audio of the raid or was Trump just making stuff up?

It seems the press has been on the case.

President Donald Trump claimed that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was “whimpering and crying and screaming” right before his death, but Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Gen. Mark Milley doesn’t know where Trump got those particular details.

“I know the President had planned to talk down to the unit and unit members, but I don’t know what the source of that was,” Milley told reporters on Monday. “But I assume it was talking directly to unit members.”

Milley is the general in the staged photo giving the serious side-eye to the photographer. Seems he isn't too inclined to go along with Trump's lies. At the very least, we know that Trump did not hear the "whimpering and crying" with his own ears. He just made it up, as usual.

You can see the press conference excerpt here at TPM.
posted by JackFlash at 5:52 PM on October 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Officials cringe as Trump spills sensitive details of al-Baghdadi raid
But current and former senior U.S. officials said from the earliest days of his presidency that Trump consistently wants to make public more than his advisers think is legally sound or wise for U.S national security.

"We agonized over what we would put in his briefings," one former senior White House official said, "because who knows if and when he's going to say something about it."

"He has no filter," the official added. "But also if he knows something, and he thinks it's going to be good to say or make him appear smarter or stronger, he'll just blurt it out."


A couple of the president's statements on Sunday were inaccurate or left U.S. officials wondering where he got his information, officials said. The president said when U.S. officials notified Russia it would be entering airspace in western Syria, they told the Russians, "We think you're going to be very happy." But that phrase was not said on the call with the Russians, a U.S. official said. Trump also said al-Baghdadi was "crying and screaming" as U.S. forces chased him down, but U.S. officials said they didn't hear those sounds, and Milley told reporters he doesn't know the source of the president's information on that.

The overarching concern about Trump's disclosures on the al-Baghdadi raid, officials said, is that he gave America's enemies details that could make intelligence gathering and similar military operations more difficult and more dangerous to pull off.
posted by zakur at 6:17 PM on October 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Speaking of leaks:

Trump: "We have declassified a picture of the wonderful dog (name not declassified) that did such a GREAT JOB in capturing and killing the Leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi!"

Who knew? Special forces dogs are under deep cover! Trump blows the dog's cover with a photo but carefully keeps the dog's name classified, so totally cool.

Is this a joke? It makes no sense, in so many ways. Just typical Trump.

And Trump has a serious hangup about dogs.
posted by JackFlash at 6:34 PM on October 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

“I know the President had planned to talk down to the unit and unit members, but I don’t know what the source of that was,” Milley told reporters on Monday. “But I assume it was talking directly to unit members.”

I'm like 75% sure that Milley slyly meant "talk down to" in both ways here.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:39 PM on October 28, 2019

Is this a joke? It makes no sense, in so many ways. Just typical Trump.

No joke, real. Typical Trump, yes.

And Trump has a serious hangup about dogs.

Apparently no dog (or cat) is willing to adopt him either. They might poop on Reagan's rug or scratch Obama's desk. Trump is the first U.S. President since Harry Truman who hasn't owned a dog.
posted by cenoxo at 8:03 PM on October 28, 2019

We have declassified a picture of the wonderful dog (name not declassified)

I won't cite the tweet because on searching for it, there's multiple variants, but I actually think there's a decent chance people are right when they say

they can't declassify the dog's name because it's a (probably Islamophobic) slur.

Also I hope everyone is feeling nice and ashamed of themselves for bullying Trump and not respecting his achievements, Nate Silver is here to call us all out for our mean behaviour:

It really amazing how many Libs can't even permit Trump to have *one good day*...
posted by Acid Communist at 1:02 AM on October 29, 2019 [4 favorites]

In this particular instance, I’m pretty sure Nate Silver was trying to be sarcastic, but tripped over Poe’s Law.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 7:04 AM on October 29, 2019

How do you figure, C’est la D.C.? This follow-up comment seems pretty darn earnest.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 7:33 AM on October 29, 2019 [5 favorites]

I was basing it on recent tweets where he said he needed to step away from non-literal tweets. I might have misunderstood ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by C'est la D.C. at 7:41 AM on October 29, 2019

Ahh, the ol’ “I wasn’t being an ass, I was being a comedian” gambit.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 7:52 AM on October 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Most of the stuff on the Twitter are people talking about how Turkish-backed militias captured and may have executed Syrian Army and Russian troops, and A LOT of people extremely mad at Ilhan Omar for her voting “present” on the Armenian Genocide resolution and no on Turkish sanctions. Lots of photos of her with Erdogan, and people condemning her for meeting with him two years after the Cizre massacre, in which the Turkish military killed hundreds in the town of Cizre. People are saying “glad to see AKP interests represented in Congress”. This link talks about that.
The film tells the story of the events in the small city of Cizre, on the Syrian border. In the summer of 2015, Cizre and a dozen other Kurdish-majority towns declared autonomy from the Turkish State, adopting the model of “democratic confederalism” that Kurds and others had been using in Northern Syria (Rojava) to manage their own affairs since the start of the Syrian Revolution. The response from the Turkish state was characteristically brutal. In Cizre, they declared a series of curfews and proceeded to systematically demolish neighborhoods. The members of the Cizre People’s Assembly, hiding in town basements from Turkish shelling, were burned alive. Throughout the region, more than a thousand died in the fighting, including hundreds of civilians.
The Cizre People’s Assembly was a socialist group in the town, which has definitely raised the ire of the internationalist socialists.

It (for obvious reasons) seems to be a very powerful moment since so many people are mentioning it in direct relation to her meeting with Erdogan. Lots of upset Kurds and Armenians, both men and women. People calling her an Islamist, and people speaking about conspiracy theories, saying she’s an agent of Qatar. Trying to parse through a lot of the racist and sexist dirt but there is a major “she supports Erdogan” focus amongst a lot of very upset people, especially former supporters of her.

Rodi Said, a Kurdish photojournalist for Reuter’s: 1-
Turkey backed Syrian armed factions have seized my house because am Kurdish, since Turkey sees any Kurd like me as a threat to its national security, while the presence of someone terrorist and dangerous like ISIS leader (Baghdadi) next to Turkish borders and in an area under
Turkey's control, also the presence of other ISIS leaders in Jarablus the stronghold of Syrian opposition and under direct Turkey control is not considered a threat to their national security!

My house in Ras Al Ayn/Serê kanîyê is one of many houses of Arabs and Kurds and other components of the city which extremist armed groups have seized
As for the Syrian Army incursions with the Turkish-backed militias: they appear to be taking a lot of casualties because they don’t have heavy armaments, and they’re being shelled by Turkish artillery. I guess Russian heavy military pieces aren’t in place where these attacks are happening.

There’s a video showing two women being executed by militias. There’s also a video of a woman doctor from the Kurdish Red Crescent being driven in a vehicle after being captured by the militias.
posted by gucci mane at 7:16 PM on October 29, 2019 [4 favorites]

Rojava Information Center: @RojavaIC summary: 29th October

- Local authorities call for humanitarian aid to help with water crisis, many displaced families without enough water

- Russia confirms SDF fully withdrawn, 150 hour deadline passes

- Many casualties in clashes btw Syrian Army and Turkish forces


Mutlu Civiroglu: VIDEO Local sources say with the Turkish forces approaching Tal Tamir city people fleeing the area. City was the first point of refuge for displaced residents of Ras al-Ain and its hospital is very important for the region. Tal Tamir is outside of so called ‘safe zone’ of 32 km depth

The smoke is from tires being lit on fire, as a way of defending against drones.

Roj Mousa: VIDEO Armed opposition and the #Turkish army continue to breach the truce by attempting to advance in several areas of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain, especially in the town of Zarkan/Abu Rasin, where the #Turks clash directly with the Syrian government forces in some of its villages #Syria

Hoshang Hasan: Syrian regime forces #SAA withdraw from Tal Tamr and Derbasiyah villages

Jenan Moussa replying to that: This is not a good sign.

Turkey keeps on pushing in North Syria border area while Russia, at least for the time being, is not willing to stand up for the Syrian army/SDF.

My take: Russia is annoyed by continuing cooperation between SDF and the U.S. forces in East Syria.

Abdullah Bozkurt: VIDEO In Parliament speech today, #Turkey's President #Erdogan predicted bombs will start exploding in European streets, guns will rain death and vandalism will spread all over. He accused Europe of supporting and protecting terror groups against his supporters in Turkish diaspora.

Erdogan has repeatedly threatened to “open the gates” by sending 2 million refugees to Europe, and now he’s threatening bombings and shootings.

Here are some more quotes from this speech, from “bianet”, which appears to be a Turkish news site?
“Since the operation started, almost 700 protests were staged by terrorist organization members abroad, especially in Europe. Most of them are with us at the NATO. Most of them are our addressees at the EU. Despite all these, protests are held. Do they say something? No.

"I am calling on the countries supporting the terrorist organization: You are making a mistake, the snake of terror that you feed with your own hands today will bite you sooner or later. When bombs start to explode on your streets, when the weapons of terrorists strat to spill out death, when vandals start to devastate your surroundings, you will, of course, come to realize your mistake. You know the yellow vests, right? They will not be in a single country, they will be in all countries.

"But, then, it will too little too late. Correct your mistake before it is too late. We know that you let them leave your countries with bags full of weapons just to get rid of this trouble. We know that you have taken no action about the terrorists whose names we gave to you.
And as of 20 minutes ago:

Rojava Information Center: Two sources in Til Temir confirm that Syrian Army forces are leaving their positions close to the city, crossing through the city on their way south and east.

The move follows heavy Turkish assault to the north of the city throughout the day, killing and injuring many SAA.

Syrian Army appears to be getting rolled by Turkish-backed militias and Turkish artillery, with little to no support from Russia.
posted by gucci mane at 10:09 AM on October 30, 2019 [5 favorites]

If U.S. Takes Syrian Oil, It May Violate International Laws Against Pillage (David Welna for NPR, October 30, 2019)
President Trump has executed a policy U-turn on Syria. He's now tasking U.S. forces he'd promised to withdraw from there with a new mission: securing the oil fields of southeastern Syria.

And it's raising questions (NPR) about just what he intends to do with that oil.

Trump has appeared fixated on Syria's largely defunct oil fields in the weeks since his Oct. 9 tweet announcing he'd moved U.S. forces out of northern Syria and was bringing (DJT tweet) the troops deployed to that nation home.

"We're keeping the oil — remember that," Trump declared on Monday (Whitehouse.gov) at a gathering of police chiefs in Chicago. "We want to keep the oil. Forty-five million dollars a month? Keep the oil. We've secured the oil."

Trump was referring to oil fields in Syria's Deir el-Zour province that Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces wrested from Islamic State insurgents in 2017. The area holds nearly three quarters of Syria's oil and gas reserves, whose production has plummeted (NPR) over the past decade by more than 90 percent. Islamic State fighters had earlier generated substantial revenues from other oilfields farther north through smuggling operations into neighboring Turkey.

On Sunday, Trump again brought up Syria's oil fields moments after announcing the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

"It can help us, because we should be able to take some also," Trump said of Syria's oil (NPR) while taking reporters' questions at the White House. "And what I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an Exxon Mobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly."
Standing by to second Trump's pitch for exploiting Syria's war-blasted oil fields was Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who said it was A-OK to storm in and "modernize the oil fields."
"(Trump) makes no mention of who owns the oil and that seems like a fairly key question," says James Graham Stewart, a law professor at the University of British Columbia. "The second question is what exactly is Trump planning to do with the oil."

It makes quite a difference, Stewart adds, whether the U.S. is securing Syria's oil and protecting it for its true owners or taking it without the owners' consent. "One would probably be more acceptable," he tells NPR. "The other would be a war crime."
The official mission is to keep oilfields out of ISIS hands. But once the territory is secured by U.S. forces, there's no word of what happens next.

But there's more --
The U.S. has not declared war on the Assad regime, but University of Oklahoma Middle East scholar Joshua Landis tells NPR the occupation of the Deir el-Zour oil fields by U.S. forces is really all about keeping the government that owns that oil from having it. "The main reason for America to retain that oil is to deny it to Assad," Landis says. "This is not about ISIS — this is about greater policy in Syria, to hurt the Assad regime and to gain and retain leverage on the part of America."
I wonder what Putin thinks about this. Also, no word of Kurdish people or forces in the region.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:16 AM on October 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

There are a lot of weird geopolitical things involving that oil, involving p much all the actors involved in this crisis. Halkbank, a Turkish state-owned bank, was involved with funneling billions of dollars to Iran against US sanctions, and that money was from oil revenue. This was done with knowledge of high-ranking government officials, maybe Erdogan himself even. Members of Hezbollah have been sighted in NE Syria, not to mention all the turmoil in Iraq which involves Iranian-backed militias. It seems like Russia would also like to have control of that oil, giving Putin much more influence in the region.
posted by gucci mane at 11:54 AM on October 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

Wladimir: VIDEO Heavy fighting between SDF-backed Christian fighters from the Syriac Military Council and Turkish armed groups

Mutlu Civiroglu: VIDEO In a new video circulating in messaging groups, Turkey backed armed factions are seen forcing a group of men to imitate animal sounds. Sources say these are civilians from Tal Tamir area

I am wondering what’s going on with Assad. The Syrian military is notoriously terrible, but judging from sources on the ground it doesn’t look like they are prepared at all to deal with this. Now the Syrian Defense Minister is asking the SDF to be assimilated into the Syrian military.
posted by gucci mane at 12:07 PM on October 30, 2019

Bianet (English) — News Articles, Wikipedia.

Trump: Number One Replacement of al-Baghdadi Killed as Well, Bianet News Desk Istanbul, October 29, 2019:
Sharing a brief message on his Twitter account, US President Donald Trump has announced that the “number one replacement” of killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “has been terminated by US troops.”

US President Donald Trump has announced that "the number one of replacement" of killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed.

It was on October 27 that President Trump held a statement for the press and made it public that ISIS leader al-Baghdadi was killed in an operation. Regarding Turkey's role in the operation, Trump also said, "They know we were going in. We flew over some territory. They were terrific. No problem".

Making another statement on his Twitter account today (October 29), Trump has indicated,
"Just confirmed that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s number one replacement has been terminated by American troops. Most likely would have taken the top spot - Now he is also Dead!"— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 29, 2019
The killing of ISIS Spokesperson Abu-Hasan al-Muhajir was last confirmed by an anonymous official from the US Department of State.

It was also alleged by Mazloum Kobani. After Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Commander Mazloum Kobani alleged that al-Muhajir was killed in an operation "conducted via direct coordination of the SDF intelligence and US military", a US official said that "first the death of al-Baghdadi at the weekend, then the death of Abu-Hasan al-Muhajir in Jarablus, Aleppo are the result of operations of US forces."

It has been reported that al-Mahuaji was killed in an airstrike in Jarablus. (EMK/SD)
posted by cenoxo at 12:17 PM on October 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

AMERICAN HERO! — @realDonaldTrump retweets an '@realDailyWire'-stamped mashup of a declassified photo of the Wonderful Dog (who is recuperating OK) with a real photo of Trump's first Medal of Honor award ceremony for Vietnam veteran James C. McCloughan on July 31, 2017.

Outrage understandably ensues, but the Daily Wire suggests that it's all in good fun.
posted by cenoxo at 1:52 PM on October 30, 2019

ISIS Confirms Baghdadi's Death And Names His Successor, NPR, Brakkton Booker, October 31, 2019:
The Islamic State Thursday confirmed the death of its founder and leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and announced a successor. The propaganda arm of ISIS also confirmed the death of another top ISIS official, its former spokesman [Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, WP bio].

In an audio message released through its central media operation, the group's new spokesman announced that Baghdadi's successor is a man named Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi [WP bio]. He is a figure largely unknown outside of ISIS circles and is hailed in the message as "Emir of the Believers" and "Caliph" of the group's alleged caliphate[*].

In the announcement, both Baghdadi and former ISIS spokesman Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir were praised as "martyrs".
*Per the news article cited upstream, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi allegedly appointed Abdullah Qardash [WP bio] of Tal Afar as his successor on August 8, 2019. However, other unconfirmed reports indicate Qardash may have died in 2017.
posted by cenoxo at 3:17 PM on October 31, 2019

Central Command Chief Gives Details on Baghdadi Raid, U.S. Department of Defense — Lethality, Jim Garamone, October 30, 2019:
The mission to capture or kill ISIS founder and leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was exquisitely planned and executed, the commander of U.S. Central Command said.

Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie briefed Pentagon reporters today on the Oct. 26 raid in northwestern Syria that resulted in Baghdadi's death. Pentagon officials also released videos of the raid.
This article includes declassified photos, video clips, map, and a transcript.
posted by cenoxo at 3:39 PM on October 31, 2019

Our Analysis Of New Info And Video From The Raid That Killed ISIS Head Al Baghdadi, The War Zone, Joseph Trevithick and Tyler Rogoway, October 30, 2019:
New facts, videos, and imagery give new insights as to how U.S. forces got to the compound and then obliterated it after the operation was complete.

The top U.S. commander in the Middle East has now briefed reporters on the U.S. special operations raid this past weekend that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in an isolated compound near a village located close to the Turkish border in western Syria. The presentation also included video footage showing portions of the raid as it occurred and the subsequent destruction of the compound after the operation was complete.
posted by cenoxo at 3:51 PM on October 31, 2019

Went to a meeting about the situation last night. Came home crying.
If I were to say something positive it was that a Conservative old white man came over to me and suggested that the main speech be published in a Conservative paper. Sorry not to offer more.
posted by mumimor at 10:34 AM on November 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

Amnesty International: Turkey: Hundreds arrested in crackdown on critics of military offensive in Syria
Silencing of journalists

On 10 October, a day after the offensive began, Turkey’s broadcasting regulatory body (RTÜK) warned media outlets that there would be zero tolerance of “any broadcasting that may negatively impact the morale and motivation of […] soldiers or may mislead citizens through incomplete, falsified or partial information that serves the aims of terror”.

On the same day, two journalists were detained. Hakan Demir of the daily newspaper Birgün was questioned over a tweet on the paper’s official Twitter account based on an NBC report stating that “Turkish warplanes have started to carry out airstrikes on civilian areas.”

Meanwhile Fatih Gökhan Diler, managing editor of the Diken news website, was detained after publication of an article with the headline “SDF claim: two civilians lost their lives”. Both journalists were accused of “inciting enmity and hatred” before being released with overseas travel bans pending the outcome of criminal investigations.

Police also burst into the home of journalist and human rights defender, Nurcan Baysal, at 5am on 19 October. She told Amnesty International: “Having my home raided and my children terrorized by 30 heavily armed, masked police officers simply for some social media posts calling for peace, shows the level of suppression of freedom of expression in Turkey.”

Journalist Özlem Oral was detained on the same day and questioned over tweets criticizing ‘Operation Peace Spring’ which were posted on a Twitter account not even her own. She was released the next day with an overseas travel ban, required to regularly report at a local police station, and not to leave İstanbul where she lives.

On 27 October, lawyer and columnist Nurcan Kaya was detained at Istanbul airport for criticizing the offensive by tweeting “We know from experience how everything you call a peace operation is a massacre”. She was released after questioning the same day,but received an international travel ban.

It is not just Turkish journalists that have been targeted. On 25 October, President Erdoğan’s lawyers announced that they filed a criminal complaint against the director and editor of French magazine Le Point, following the publication of the October 24 issue which used the cover headline “Ethnic cleansing: the Erdoğan method” in its coverage of the military offensive. The lawyers claimed the cover is insulting to the president, a crime under Turkish law.
The whole thing is pretty damning.

HSNB: #SDF forces Syriac Military Council (MFS) @SyriacMFS and Syriac Bethnahrin Women Protection Forces (#HSNB) held a press conference highlighting the threat posed by the Turkish military offensive against the lives of #Syriac population living in #Til Temir region of northern Syria

ANF News: Turkish attacks put the lives of Assyrians and Syriacs in danger
Representatives of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Syriac Military Council (MFS) and Syriac Bethnahrin Women Protection Forces (HSNB) held a press conference highlighting the threat posed by the Turkish military offensive against the lives of Assyrian and Syriac population living in Til Temir region of northern Syria.

SDF Spokesman Kino Gabriel provided information on the latest situation in the region as the attacks of the Turkish state and allied mercenary groups against North and East Syria have not stopped despite ceasefire agreements made for the region.

Syriac Military Council Spokesman Ebjer Yaqûb pointed out the disasters that followed the Turkish state’s military offensive seeking to invade North and East Syria.

Yaqûb recalled that numerous civilians have been targeted in the attacks, while dozens of them were massacred and hundreds wounded. He noted that the attacks also caused major damages to the substructure in the region.

Syriac Military Council Spokesman denounced ongoing attacks by the Turkish state in spite of its agreements with Russia and the US, and despite the SDF adhering to the ceasefire and acting in accordance with it.

He remarked that the lives of Assyrian and Syriac population living in Til Temir were in danger as the Turkish state wanted to massacre these people. He called on the international community, Russia and the US to do their part to stop the ongoing attacks.

Syriac Bethnahrin Women Protection Forces (HSNB) Spokeswoman Nîsha Gewriyê said the following; “The Turkish state continues to pursue genocidal policies against the Assyrian and Syriac people and women. We did not forget the Sayfo genocide perpetrated by the Ottomans in 1915 when more than one and a half million people were slaughtered in a genocidal campaign. The Turkish state seeks to perpetrate more genocides today. The enemy has always targeted women in the first place. ISIS gangs attacked the Xabur villages in February 2015 and savagely murdered a woman named Widad Daud in the same way they have murdered Havrin Khalaf recently. We the Syriac Bethnahrin Women Protection Forces will continue to remain on the frontline and eliminate the threats against our people until the invasion of the Turkish state is repelled.”
Rojava Information Center: Our ground team confirms:

- Clashes ongoing N of Til Temir in Salhiye & Arisha, low intensity

- SDF in position to protect Christian villages outside Turkish-claimed areas

- Turkish-backed proxies still attacking Zirgan E of Til Temir, well outside Turkish-claimed 'safe zone'

Rojava Information Center: Database: over 40 former ISIS members now part of Turkish-backed forces
Over 40 former ISIS members now working in Afrin as part of Turkish-backed forces have been identified in a new database, published today by Rojava Information Center.

They include commanders, brigade leaders, recruiting officers and co-ordinators working directly with the Turkish intelligence services. The database includes their role under ISIS, their new role as part of Turkish-backed jihadist forces in the Afrin region, their current location, biographical information, and in some instances photographs of the individuals in question.

Some names and photos were obtained by Rojava Information Center and OSINT researchers following opposition Telegram channels in Afrin, others were provided by the Foreign Relations Bureau of North East Syria, and others identified in research presented at the International Forum on ISIS.

Names included in the database include: Isma’il Firas al-‘Abbar, who was an ISIS commander in Deir-ez-Zor before becoming a Turkish-backed brigade leader in Afrin; Basil Nayef al-Shehab, who fought against YPG with ISIS in Kobane before becoming a commander in the Turkish-backed Sultan Murad brigade and participating in the occupation of Afrin: and Abu al-Baraa al-Ansari, an ISIS commander in Deir-ez-Zor who is now a commander of Turkish-backed militia Ahrar al-Sharqiya.

Across Afrin, groups like Ahrar al-Sharqiya and the Sultan Murad Brigade are imposing sharia law, and engaging in extortion, kidnapping, murder, torture, rape, and gender-based violence, in actions possibly amounting to war crimes per the United Nations. You can see our report here for more information about the atrocities being committed by these jihadist militias, and the depth of Turkish state support for their actions.
The Guardian: Kurds call on US to block Turkish military drones from Syrian air space
Syrian Kurds are asking the Pentagon to block US-controlled air space over north-eastern Syria to Turkish armed drones which they claim are causing significant civilian casualties.

Ilham Ahmed, the head of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), said the Kurds would hold the Pentagon responsible for Turkish war crimes if they did nothing to guarantee protection from the air.

She told reporters during a visit to Washington that armed Turkish drones were a constant presence in the air above north-eastern Syria, striking at will against both military and civilian targets.

“We have been promised by the United States on a couple of occasions that areas that have US forces will never be attacked by Turkey,” Ahmed said through a translator “However, we saw that the US did not fulfill its promise after the Turkish incursion.”
Mutlu Civiroglu: VIDEO Orphaned children, widowed women and ruined families of #Kobani as a result of recent recent attacks. This is how the city is marking #WorldKobaneDay today

Rojava Information Center: Latest on the IDP crisis in Heseke:

- 51,000 IDPs in west Heseke currently living in private homes, and 15,000 in the east of the city

- 52 schools house IDPs

- Those in schools include: 813 children who need mother's milk, 433 pregnant women, 200 seriously ill

2: - Because IDPs are being housed in schools, 86,000 children cannot attend class

- Water, sewage, electricity systems lacking in schools: 150 water tanks installed in streets

- Autonomous Administration & NGOs coordinating to build up a camp to house 50,000 IDPs near Tuwena

3: - 60 NGOs, mostly local, are organised via the Autonomous Administration

- They have 6 cars for transporting refugees plus an ambulance team

- Local NGOs take lead in distributing services

- Each school has a kitchen inside so residents can prepare own food

Dani Ellis: VIDEO Just tried to make an update video from a medical point North West of Til Temir but got interrupted...

Everyone fine. We’re now enjoying the sights and sounds of a combined SDF/SAA force replying with mortars.

Dani Ellis is a civil defense volunteer and has a fantastic Twitter account.

Tomorrow, November 2, is World Resistance Day for Rojava. Check around to see if there are rallies in your area!
posted by gucci mane at 6:34 PM on November 1, 2019 [5 favorites]

One last thing, that I’m just going to paste in full.

The Guardian: We stand in solidarity with Rojava, an example to the world.

Leaders from social movements, communities and First Nations from around the world, including LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, Eve Ensler and Stuart Basden on the Turkish invasion in north-east Syria
What is at stake in north-east Syria is more than the fate of the Kurdish people or the autonomous homeland of Rojava or even the fight against Isis. What is at stake is humanity’s ability to survive our current civilisational crisis and to imagine new alternatives before it’s too late.

Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s brutal invasion of Rojava is using 20th-century techniques of extreme violence and genocide, despite a proclaimed “ceasefire”. Turkey’s air force is raining down napalm and white phosphorus on innocent civilians. At the same time, jihadi squads are massacring fleeing civilians as retribution for Rojava’s fight against Isis and their role as arguably the most important ally to the west in the region.

The US, the UK, France, Russia and other alleged superpowers are actively betraying both international law and the Geneva convention by allowing and facilitating the ethnic cleansing and occupation of Rojava. Turkey’s aim is clear: to eradicate what all fascist powers fear most, a free people daring to create brave and successful experiments outside the globalised, extractive system.

Since 2012, around 5 million people – Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, Turkmen, Yazidis and others – have built the autonomous region of Rojava, demonstrating how a multi-ethnic society can respectfully coexist beyond the constraints of nation state, patriarchy and capitalism. By promoting radically democratic and decentralised self-governance, equity between genders, regenerative agriculture, a justice system based on reconciliation and inclusion of minorities, the Rojava experiment has presented a living example of possibility under the most impossible of circumstances. We encourage readers to review the Rojavan Charter of the Social Contract for inspiration.

Western leaders are feigning empathy while American, German and British weapon manufacturers are actively selling weapons to Turkey. It is clear that the dominant system cannot and will not defend those seeking to explore other ways of knowing and being. As the imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan writes: “The real power of capitalist modernity isn’t its money and its weapons, [but] its ability to suffocate all utopias […] with its liberalism.”

However, a growing chorus of allies are rising up around the world. From Haiti to Lebanon, from Chile to Iraq, from Cameroon to the US, from the UK to Hong Kong, social revolutions are confronting the rise of fascism, short-termism, greed, climate destruction and warfare that are required to prop up our existing economic paradigm. The battle lines are becoming clearer. Domination versus cooperation, colonisation versus autonomy, oppression versus freedom, patriarchy versus partnership – these values are the warp and weft of the defining struggle for the future of humanity.

For Rojava to survive and for justice to truly prevail, those rising up in their local context must stand together creatively with shared voice, values and visions for global systems change. Rojava is fighting for the same reasons as the awakening majority from around the world. It has shown that the way out of social and ecological crisis is not through GDP-focused “development”, but rather with decentralised autonomous communities.

Making such communities work in more and more places, by regenerating ecosystems, healing our collective trauma and creating social structures of solidarity and trust, is the transformational work of our times. Once we see our struggles as inherently interdependent with each other, and with the web of life itself, no army on the planet will be able to stop the inevitable transition.

As leaders from social movements, communities and First Nations from around the world, we stand in solidarity with the vision and work of Rojava. We pray for their resilience, protection and perseverance. We pray that we will listen to and learn from the living Earth as she continues to show us how to create societies which live in cooperation with all beings. We pray that those in positions of power be reminded of their humanity and end this invasion immediately.

LaDonna Brave Bull Allard Standing Rock, Turtle Island (USA)
Salim Dara Rural Solidarity, Benin
Eve Ensler One Billion Rising, USA
Sabine Lichtenfels Tamera Peace Research Center, Portugal
Tiokasin Ghosthorse First Voices Indigenous Radio, Turtle Island (USA)
Alnoor Ladha The Rules, Canada
Gildardo Tuberquia Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, Colombia
Yael Ronen Maxim Gorki Theater, Germany
Sami Awad Holy Land Trust, Palestine
Gigi Coyle Beyond Boundaries, USA
Joshua Konkankoh Better World, Cameroon
Stuart Basden Extinction Rebellion, UK
Aida Shibli Global Campus, Palestine
Claudio Miranda Favela da Paz, Brazil
Rajendra Singh Tarun Bharat Sangh, India
posted by gucci mane at 6:41 PM on November 1, 2019 [12 favorites]

Last Days of Vietnam in Fanfare, especially relevant because 'history repeating itself as tragedy' - US betrayal of Kurdish allies.
posted by j_curiouser at 6:48 AM on November 2, 2019

Rojava Information Center: VIDEO In Til Temir hospital, Dr. Hassan describes ongoing crisis:

"We are operating but there is no resuscitation room and we are running low on health supplies. Several NGOs promised support, but there is no practical response.

We are alone, working with with what we have."

SyriacMilitaryMFS: VIDEO Elisabeth Gauriye, leading #Syriac Christian member of the Syrian Democratic Council leadership speaking about latest situation in NE Syria, danger for local communities and Turkey plans of ethnic cleansing.

Translated from Aramaic.

Dani Ellis: VIDEO 10km North of Til Temir: Former ISIS militants & their mates ransack villages, murder innocent people and film themselves mutilating bodies.

In Til Temir: 5 teenage boys drive around blasting Kurdish dance music followed by a quarter of the city’s populace.

Internationalist Commune of Rojava: VIDEO This morning, we participated to the demonstration in #Derik.

We walked and shouted with the crowd:
Biji Berxwedana Rojava - Long live the resistance of #Rojava
Biji Berxwedana QSD - Long live the resistance of #SDF

Rise Up For Rojava!

Raman Ghavami: VIDEO Walking in #Paris and just saw this demonstration, place de la République.

Kongra Star Diplomacy Rojava: Bethnahrin Women Protection Forces @HSNB_ :

“We will not let jihadists occupy our land & massacre & rape Assyrian, Arabic Armenian, Kurdish & Syriac Women. We will resist & women worldwide must stand up to attacks & occupation of the Turkish army in #Syria”

Rojava Information Center: In Til Temir, @SyriacMFS spokesperson Kino Gabriel explains how their all-Christian militia defends Christian villages from the ongoing Turkish invasion:

"The same area that repelled attacks from ISIS 4 years ago is now the focus of this attack from Turkey and its mercenaries."

2: "As the @SyriacMFS and [all-female] Bethnain Women’s Protection Forces, we are fighting together to repel this attack from those areas. We demand the international community, specifically the US & Russia, apply their agreement with Turkey and force Turkey to stop its attacks."
posted by gucci mane at 6:50 PM on November 2, 2019 [8 favorites]

Ooooookay, how legitimate is this website and this person? Because...

Spectator: ‘Seven whistleblowers’

And a story that — if true — could be deadly for Jared Kushner
According to Cockburn’s source about the seven whistleblowers, there’s more. It is that Kushner (allegedly) gave the green light to MBS to arrest the dissident journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, who was later murdered and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. A second source tells Cockburn that this is true and adds a crucial twist to the story. This source claims that Turkish intelligence obtained an intercept of the call between Kushner and MBS. And President Erdogan used it to get Trump to roll over and pull American troops out of northern Syria before the Turks invaded. Cockburn hears that investigators for the House Intelligence Committee know this whole tale and the identities of some of the people telling it. Whether any of is true is another matter but Adam Schiff certainly seems to be smiling a lot these days.
Emphasis mine.

Morning Star: CHEMICAL weapons inspectors have abandoned investigations into the alleged use of white phosphorus by Turkey on Kurds in northern Syria, saying on Saturday it falls outside of their remit.
International investigators from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said they would not examine tissue samples from victims of last month’s attack because white phosphorus injuries are produced by thermal, rather than chemical, properties.

In a statement to the Times newspaper the organisation said: “The OPCW has not initiated an investigation regarding recent developments in northern Syria.
“White phosphorus is commonly used in military operations to produce smoke or provide illumination. When white phosphorus is used as smoke, illumination or as an incendiary weapon, its use does not fall under the purview of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

“In such instances, the intended effects are due to white phosphorus’ thermal properties, rather than its chemical (toxic) properties.”

The move is a controversial one, coming soon after Turkey made a €30,000 (£26,000) donation to the Future OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology.
Emphasis mine again.

Mutlu Civiroglu: VIDEO Good overview of the Kurds and their decades long struggle for political, social and cultural rights
‘Their struggle for a country of their own has lasted for almost a century’ @dwnews #Kurdistan

Mutlu Civiroglu: VIDEO Today’s mass by the tiny #Armenian community in Qamishli NE Syria. Members if the community are trying to survive while the region has been under attack for weeks. Video by American photographer Alex Lourie

Rojava Information Center: VIDEO Volunteer medic & camera person Zhao Sang was killed today by Turkish shelling, @DaveEubankFBR of @FreeBurmaRangrs tells @RojavaIC:

"We’ll stay here & keep speaking about this zone of invasion, this zone of death, that Turkey & their proxies, jihadists & others, have launched."

Dear friends,

We are very sad to announce that Zau Seng, our Kachin cameraman and medic from Burma, was killed today, Nov. 3., by a Free Syrian Army/Turkish Army mortar strike that hit our forward casualty collection point where we were assembled to treat the wounded.

Last night, Nov. 2, we had rescued three people from this area successfully but this time we were hit very close, about 10 meters from us. Mohammed, our Iraqi translator and coordinator, was also wounded but is in stable condition in the hospital.

Zau Seng was my brother and hero. He leaves behind a wife, Lunu, and daughter, who celebrated her first birthday today. We pledge to take care of his wife and daughter as much as we can. We believe Zau is with Jesus now, in what the people of Burma call “the undiscovered land.” He has now discovered it.

I know he’s happy and still laughing, as he was always laughing, but we are sad because the world is emptier without him.

This attack happened in the area that the Turks have invaded, about four kilometers north of Tel Tamir. The fighting continues and so we will continue providing medical care and telling the truth about what is happening here. We will do our best to take care of Zau’s family and will continue to take care of Mohammed.

Thank you for your prayers during this time in our sorrow and loss, which is a loss for Burma, for the world, our family, and most of all, for his family.

Zau, my brother, this is to you: I miss you and I love you very much. Thank you for being my brother and for being fearless in all things. Thank you for being a man of love and being patient with me and teaching me so much. I’m sorry for any time I lost my temper with you and was impatient. Thank you for always forgiving me. Thank you for showing me how to live and for putting a light on the world. Thank you for going to another country because as you said, others had helped you. I love you and will miss you until I see you again in heaven.

Thank you and God bless you,

Dave Eubank, family, and the Free Burma Rangers.

Ahval: Being Kurdish in Turkey
Şirin Tosun was 19 years old. This photograph may have been taken a few months before his death. He was working as a steward for a bus company based in the majority-Kurdish city of Diyarbakır in southeastern Turkey. To help support his family, he travelled with them to northwestern Turkey as a seasonal worker to harvest hazelnuts. One day, the weather was rainy, so he took a break from picking hazelnuts and went into the city with his friends. He and his friend were heading home at night, when a bus with a Diyarbakır license plate drove by them.

The bus stopped and they spoke Kurdish with each other. A group of six people passing by heard them speaking Kurdish, and began to attack Şirin and his friend for speaking Kurdish. After hurling insults and curses, they threw bottles. One of the people in the group fired at Şirin at close range, and Şirin sustained a head injury. After being hospitalised, he remained in intensive care for 50 days before passing away last week. A 19-year-old boy while a beautiful smile, Şirin was murdered for speaking his mother tongue.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres appeared to back a Turkish plan to settle millions of mostly Arab refugees from other parts of Syria in an area where more than 180,000 Kurds had been forced to flee in recent weeks. The UN leader thanked Turkey for its strong cooperation and support and agreed to form a team to study Turkey’s proposal and engage with Turkey. The UN’s news service put out a statement amenable to Turkey’s plan and seeking to study it.

In the discussions the UN chief did not critique Turkey’s October military offensive which has led to human rights violations, including extrajudicial assassinations and videos of executions of prisoners by Turkish-backed Syrian rebel groups. The UN also did not say the 180,000 civilians, which its own experts have recorded fleeing, have a right to return to their homes in northern Syria. Instead, the UN now is studying how to implement a Turkish occupation of northern Syria and how to work with Ankara on a “safe zone.” The UNHCR, which is supposed to ensure the right of the 180,000 people forced to flee by Turkey’s offensive, will now be asked to study the proposal to replace them with 3.6 million other Syrian refugees who live in Turkey.
Sozan Fahmi: VIDEO “My Children haven’t had a wash for a week.
Can I quickly give them a wash !” This mother asked me while we were distributing clean water in #Bardarash camp.
It’s sad to see 1000s juts like me & u living their normal life now they found themselves in a refugee camp.

posted by gucci mane at 7:41 PM on November 3, 2019 [5 favorites]


I hope this report is wrong, because it's hard to imagine any action more at odds with international law and with the charter of the UN itself. If the UN gives its blessing to the invasion of Syria one might well ask what the point of the institution is.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:49 AM on November 4, 2019 [7 favorites]

Ilham Ehmed: Only two weeks into the occupation &Turkification already starting! Syrian National Army posing in the occupied city of Ras al-Ayn/Serê Kaniyê. Signs in Arabic, Kurdish&Aramaic were removed &replaced with signs in Arabic&Turkish. Repeat of the Turkification of #Afrin

Rojava Information Center: Units of the Khabour Guards, an all-Christian militia, in position to defend their villages along the Khabour river.

These Christian forces fought off ISIS, and are now facing down Turkish-backed jihadist proxies advancing on the same land.

Mustafa Bali: Jihadists are stealing homes of the Kurds they expelled and showing off with it. Home of politician Khaled Kota in Tanuza was turned into a mosque after he’d been killed and the rest of the Kurdish villagers expelled. Thanking God for successful cleansing of Kurds?

Raman Hesê: VIDEO Jaysh Al-Islam terrorists, roam with #Turkish support and protection in the northeastern town of Ras al-Ain, #mocking a small shopkeeper.

Hoshang Hasan: VIDEO #Qamişlo residents tear up billboards for #Turkish products as part of a boycott of Turkish products.

Cehîda Dêrsim: This Xelil Ibrahim (67). He lives in the village Dawudiye of Tal Tamir. He has two children in the ranks of the SDF. He refused to leave his village & said: “This is our land and the #SDF fighters are our children. We will not leave them alone on the front lines”

Dilar Dirik: #Jinwar Women’s Village had to evacuate due to the Turkish army’s invasion. Women around the world are expressing their anger. Here an older article by one of the women that helped create this autonomous women’s village.

How we built Jinwar Women’s Village in Rojava/northern Syria
The women of Jinwar wanted to run themselves based on democratic principles that respect everyone’s rights and assure everyone’s ability to participate in life as equals. Thus, the Jinwar debates about the women’s council of the village began. Every woman, who settles in the village can participate in the village council and help plan the village life. Jinwar women can collectively bake their bread in the bakery or cook and eat in the communal kitchen. At the school, the academy, or the health center, as well as in the realms of agriculture, media, and diplomacy, every woman can take up responsibilities based on her own wishes. She can shape social life, welcome visiting delegations, run the shop with her own products according to her own needs. She can get education and join discussions at the academy. She can discuss and share her views on woman and life, free co-life, women and ethics-aesthetics, women and ecology, women and economy, women and history, women and health/natural health. Women can of course arrange for their needs beyond the village as well, they go on family visits or invite and host their loved ones to the village. But men are not allowed to stay in the village overnight.

When the women tell their stories to each other, it becomes obvious that each of them is expecting the beginning of a new journey with their life in the village. In the discussions held in our everyday life, women constantly express their happiness: “How great that we exist, how great that we are together, how great that we are here. Every women’s group can be able to imagine and create such spaces and villages for themselves.”

Jinwar came into being as the collective effort and labour of Kurdish, Arab, Armenian, and Circassian volunteers and working women. Jinwar has been built on the soil of barren farming estates, a stony and dry piece of land, where animals would graze and children would play in the summer. For the first time, this piece of land is experiencing a creation period of such dimensions: its own soil, water, and stones provided the basis for the building of an entire village of women. It constitutes a geography for different communities, cultures and beliefs to blend with each other in the creation of a new life. Every person, stepping on this soil, is filled with the joy of contributing something to this historic undertaking. Today, women in Jinwar re-create themselves from their ashes to develop their own self-determined identity.
The New York Times: ‘The Bombs Are Drawing Close’
Our village was built to create a peaceful place for women in Syria who have fled war and other hardships. But now our futures are full of danger.
Before the Turkish invasion, Jinwar offered a sanctuary to women from all over northeast Syria and beyond — Kurds, Arabs, Yezidis. Some of our husbands were killed by ISIS; others of us left abusive relationships to live in Jinwar. Here was a place where women were able to live communally and autonomously, to raise and educate our children free of male influence. Jinwar was just one small part of the societal revolution taking place across northeast Syria — known to us as Rojava — where women are organizing autonomously in every city, creating alternative ways of life based on the principles of communal living, ecological thinking and a cooperative economy.

Turkey and its proxies have targeted women. In Kurdish regions already under Turkish occupation, there are reports of forced prostitution and trafficking and kidnapping of women for forcible marriage. During this invasion, Turkey’s jihadist proxies have already beaten and executed a leading female politician, Hevrin Khalef, and abducted and abused female fighters. Turkey’s occupation of other regions of northern Syria will mean the same brutal exploitation for women here.
It’s so hard to put into context how important this place is for the human race.
posted by gucci mane at 7:35 PM on November 4, 2019 [6 favorites]

WarIsBoring.com: On Saturday, Assad heaped sarcastic praise on Trump in an interview on state TV, calling him “the best American president.”
Video here: Trump says he wants to keep Syria’s oil. Here’s the problem
posted by Harald74 at 10:59 PM on November 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Syriac Military MFS: VIDEO Short interview in Arabic with Khabour Akkad, Responsible of Hasake region for #Syriac Military Council, MFS explaining their deployment to protect and defend Tel Tamir town and Khabour Valley #Assyrian villages with partner forces from attacks and aggressions. @HSNB_ @cmoc_sdf

North Press Agency: An Old Kurdish woman from Tal Abyad tells the bitterness of the displacement
The 70 years old woman Zalikha Muslim Ahmad summarized the suffering of her displacement twice in a question she was asked during her talk to North-Press: "What story do you want?!"

Zalikha, who suffers from diabetes and had an open heart surgery not long ago, couldn't hold her tears while she was telling the bitterness of displacement twice.

With her 8 children, Zalikha was displaced to the city of Raqqa since the beginning of the Turkish military invasion in northeastern Syria, she is staying in a house provided to her and her family by a citizen of Raqqa in a neighborhood "north of the railway", where people of Raqqa join with Tal Abyad (Gire Spi) IDPs.
Mazloum Abdî: ‏نتيجة لسلسلة اجتماعات مع قيادات قوات التحالف الدولي، تستأنف قوات سوريا الديمقراطية برنامج عملها المشترك مع التحالف لمكافحة ⁧‫#داعش‬⁩ وتأمين البنى التحتية لمناطق شمال شرق سوريا. وذلك وفقًا للمرحلة الراهنة والمستجدات الجديدة على الأرض.

As a result of a series of meetings with coalition commanders, the SDF is resuming its joint program of work with the Coalition to combat ⁧‫#داعش‬⁩ And to secure the infrastructure of northeastern Syria. According to the current stage and new developments on the ground.

Rojava Defense Units: VIDEO cw for combat footage Pictures of liberation of Bir Isa village from terrorists and Turkish state gangs Liberation of Bir Issa

NBC News: As most U.S. troops withdraw, others move into Syria to help guard oil fields

U.S. special operations forces who were targeting ISIS are leaving Syria. They're being replaced by infantry who are helping Syrian Kurds hold territory.
"The enduring defeat of ISIS mission that we have, the oilfields are contained inside of that," Lt. Gen. Pat White said. "It denies them revenue, denies them an opportunity to reconstitute."

Trump's accelerated withdrawal plan, which he announced in mid-October, ended most of the U.S. military's roughly 1,000-person presence in the country, leaving only about 300 troops in the Al Tanf base in the south. According to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, most of the U.S. troops that pulled out of northern Syria in the past month are heading to western Iraq to continue the campaign against ISIS militants.

The new troops in the east are in addition to the 300 who remained. They are there to support the SDF, a longtime U.S. ally that has held more than 10,000 ISIS members in detention centers and prison camps, though some have escaped as U.S. troops have pulled out.

"We are still partnered with the Syrian Democratic Forces," said Maj. Gen. Eric Hill, commander of U.S. operations in Iraq and Syria. "All of the infrastructure that's in those areas will be secured by the Syrian Democratic Forces."

The partnership includes training, equipping and advising the SDF troops on how to operate to counter ISIS militants with less U.S. support, Hill said. But what's still unclear is how many U.S. troops will be in Syria once the withdrawal from the north and the west is over and the new deployments into Syria are complete.
Cahîda Dêrsim: VIDEO Footage: Jihadists of Jaysh al-Islam, backed and supported by NATO member Turkey, using German Leopard-tanks in fight against the civilian population of Northern Syria

Rojava Information Center: Jihadist faction Jaysh-al-Islam advance E. Sere Kaniye backed by a Leopard 2A4 tank sold by Germany to Turkey, footage published via official channels shows.

JAI are known for torture, electrocution, summary execution, and parading religious minorities in cages as human shields.

The Telegraph, from 2015: Jaish al-Islam, regarded as the most powerful rebel group near the capital, has put regime soldiers and Alawite civilians it was holding in metal cages, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP.

The group then placed these cages in public squares in the Eastern Ghouta region in an attempt to "prevent regime bombardment", Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

The National: Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi's brother travelled in and out of Istanbul as his courier for months
“We were watching somebody who was acting as a messenger to Al Baghdadi and he was travelling frequently to Turkey and back,” a senior Iraqi intelligence official said. “He was Al Baghdadi’s brother.”

Iraqi security services first detected Juma, who is believed to still be alive, crossing the Syrian-Turkish border at the end of 2018 before he appeared in Istanbul.

ISIS militants or sympathisers had attacked a nightclub in the city on New Year’s Eve, tourists in its historic Sultanahmet Square near Hagia Sophia, and its now-closed Ataturk International Airport.

Iraqi security services worked with US intelligence in watching Juma inside Turkish territory, the officials said.

Spokespeople for the Pentagon and US-led coalition to defeat ISIS said they would not comment on matters of intelligence.

The office of the Turkish presidency and the Turkish Interior Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
Joey L: VIDEO Just now: My interview on BBC World News about my exhibition & the unfolding crisis in Syria / Rojava.

We already know what happened when Turkey invaded Afrin. Ethnic cleansing & horrific war crimes. Why should we believe their recent invasion will be any different?

Part 2

Part 3

Erdogan is visiting Trump on November 13. There’s a protest planned and considering his bodyguards beat Kurdish protestors last time it’s possible we can see another violent confrontation.
posted by gucci mane at 3:10 PM on November 6, 2019 [4 favorites]

Richard Engel: Serious accusation: “Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria, spearheaded by armed Islamist groups on its payroll, represents an intentioned-laced effort at ethnic cleansing,” Mr. Roebuck wrote.

Link to the NYT article. It’s behind a paywall for me.

Delil Souleiman: Syrian Kurdish women mourn during a funeral in Qamishli in the northeastern Hasakeh province on November 7, 2019, for fighters from the Kurdish-majority Syrian Democtratic Forces (SDF) killed during clashes in Ras Al-Ain with Turkish and Ankara-backed forces Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP

Mutlu Civiroglu: VIDEO Speech of @DaveEubankFBR at the funeral ceremony for @FreeBurmaRangrs team member Zau Seng in a Qamishlo, NE Syria today. Zau got killed near Tal Tamir few days ago while teying to help people

Cahîda Dêrsim: VIDEO Today, 17 #Arab #SDF fighters who have lost their lives while defending Serekaniye against the Turkish army and it’s jihadists were honoured during a ceremony (ANHA)

Elle Magazine: This Women-Only Village Was Built To Be A Feminist Utopia. Now It’s Under Threat.
Together the women of Jinwar are working to build a life that is free of the constraints of patriarchy and capitalism. When 33-year-old Amira Muhammad’s husband, a soldier in the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, died fighting ISIS in 2017, she was left without an income or a place to live. Eventually she made her way to Jinwar, where she told The Independent last year, “Here they provide a lot of benefits like education for the kids, their living expenses. It is a nice village, most importantly, my kids like it.”

Having survived the rule of violent jihadists, the residents of Jinwar are attempting to build their own female utopia. It’s a wild feminist experiment in democratic communal living that’s happening in one of the most socially conservative regions in the world, and for nearly two years it seemed like it might actually work. But with Turkey’s ongoing military offensive against the Syrian Kurds, whom Turkey considers terrorists, the village has been under constant threat, and on Monday it was temporarily evacuated following heavy shelling.

Women have played a major role in resisting the spread of ISIS and working to create a democratic society in the wake of the Syrian uprising, which left the Kurdish region of Rojava with de facto autonomy. In July 2012, a handful of women founded Yekîtiya Star (now called Kongreya Star), an umbrella organization for Rojava’s many feminist collectives that strove to ensure the revolution embraced feminist principles. Yekîtiya Star worked with other groups to form democratically-run communes, provide self-defense training, and establish schools and a communal economic system. The People’s Protection Units, a portion of the largely Kurdish and Arab-led Syrian Democratic Forces that played a major role in driving out ISIS, is famously mixed-gender and boasts all-female brigades called the Women’s Protection Units. In 2017, five years after the democratic revolution, Kongreya Star decided to build Jinwar as a safe place for women seeking an egalitarian and self-sufficient way of life.

Now, that dream of a feminist utopia could come to an end. Trump’s support of the Turkish military offensive—which began in earnest last month—threatens not just Jinwar, but the entire autonomous Kurdish region in Syria, which has spent more than seven years attempting to build a free society. It is a blatant betrayal of the Syrian Democratic Forces, which the U.S. employed in the fight against ISIS, and will exacerbate an already enormous humanitarian crisis that has left millions displaced. It’s also a disaster for global security, as SDF troops are holding several thousand ISIS militants in makeshift jails roiling with extremism and violence. At least 750 "ISIS affiliates" have already escaped due to Turkish shelling.

In the face of Turkish occupation, the women of Jinwar are vowing to stand by what they have established, whatever the cost. “We cannot accept to lose what has been built up by so many,” they wrote on Facebook in October. “Let‘s defend each other against the attacks of the Turkish state and all other forms of patriarchal violence and oppression.”
I mentioned Jinwar above.

Macer Gifford: The names of the 48 men and women that died fighting for the people of North-Eastern Syria and to defeat the death cult - 'Islamic State'.
I hope they inspire people with their selflessness and compassion. They fought and died for internationalism and their love of humanity. ✌️😔

Internationalist Commune of Rojava: VIDEO For more than 7 years, the #Rojava revolution has been building hope. But now Rojava is under attack.

The people of NE #Syria are writing history with a historical resistance against #Turkey`s invasion.

Become part of this story, come to support Rojava!

The Internationalist Commune is looking for civil volunteers. Their website has a lot more information!
posted by gucci mane at 6:17 PM on November 7, 2019 [5 favorites]

Jinwar - village of free women has a website in english.
According to Kurdistan-24 the village has been temporarily evacuated after ongoing Turkish attacks.
posted by adamvasco at 9:15 AM on November 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

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