February 2, 2018

Last summer, I was positioned just across the border from the Syrian town of Afrin around which Turkish and Kurdish and, possibly, American forces, are now poised for a head-on clash.  It seems crazy to me that anyone would want to fight over this one-donkey farm town.  We were there on a mission to rescue wild animals trapped in a zoo in war-torn Aleppo, Syria.

Why on earth are at least 2,000 US troops mixed up in this fracas in darkest Syria?  Because the pro-Israel neocons in Washington, who pretty much run US foreign policy these days, are determined to have revenge for the defeat of US-backed rebel forces in Syria.  So it’s once more into the breach near Afrin and the town Manbij though America has zero national interests in Syria. The US first tried to overthrow Syria’s governments in Damascus in 1948 because it was too independent and flirting with the Soviets.  Today’s intervention is part of Israel’s plan to fragment Syria and gobble up its water and fertile land resources.

Worse, the Pentagon decided to enlist and arm rebellious Kurds in southern Turkey and Syria, and use them as ‘native troops’ to fight first the rag-tag bands of ISIS, then the Turkish armed forces.   This was a terrible idea – compounded by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s incredibly foolish recent announcement that the US would mobilize, arm and finance a ‘border force’ of 30,000 Kurds that was closely tied to the Kurdish PKK rebel group.  Washington has only a child’s understanding of events in Turkey and the dangers involved.  Washington bills the PKK ‘terrorists.’  Clearly, it can’t even keep its ‘terrorists’ straight.  The neocons under Trump have gutted the State Department.

The Turks rightly fear that events in war-torn Syria may enflame demands by Turkey’s restive Kurdish minority for an independent state.  The very likely involvement of the US in the 2016 failed coup attempt to overthrow Turkey’s president, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have deepened Turkish fears of  another US-backed plot to divide Turkey. 

Turks recall post World War I efforts by Britain, France, Greece and Italy in 1918-19 to divide up post-Ottoman Turkey between them.

The Turks are in a rage.   Turkey has been battling a wide-scale Kurdish insurgency since the 1980’s.  I was with the Turkish Army in eastern Anatolia (just north of Syria), witnessing the brutal, bloody guerilla war between the Turks and Kurds that left 40,000 dead, mostly civilians. 

Turkey’s democratic leader, President Erdoğan, had almost forged a peace with the rebellious Kurds and their PKK leadership when the western intervention in Syria rekindled the war.  As often in the past, foreign powers used the warlike Kurds for their own aims, then abandoned them.  Israel has been particularly active in arming and organizing Kurdish rebels since the 1970’s as part of its grand strategy to fragment the Arab world and Turkey, and degrade them into feeble mini-states.

Intervention by Russia, Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah into Syrian ‘civil-war’ caused the defeat of US-Saudi-British-Israeli backed rebel Syrian forces.   This, as noted, led the frustrated US war party to directly base US troops in Syria, an act that flagrantly violated international law.  As US troops prepared to confront the forces from Damascus and their Russian air support, the Kurds declared all-out war.  Involved were not only Syrian Kurds but large numbers of ethnic Kurds in Turkey, who make up about 17% of the total population.  Iran’s Kurds are next to be stirred up.

All this is a huge, dangerous mess.  US and Russian forces are now at rifle’s shot from one another while their warplanes buzz the skies overhead.  Iranian and US forces are nearing a confrontation, something that would delight the Trump White House.  US and Turkish forces are nearing confrontation.

Were it not for the steady hand of Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin, a US-Russian clash might have already occurred. While this dangerous game of chicken goes on, US and NATO forces are busy probing Russia’s border in the Baltic, Eastern Europe and the Black Sea. The hunger for war grows.

Wretched, largely devastated Syria now faces more fighting. The captive wild animals we rescued from Aleppo, Syria (see www.ericmargolis.com), are still in large part in shock from being trapped in the middle of a war zone.  One of the hyenas we saved just died of organ failure. Think of the suffering of Syria’s people as the great powers and their mercenaries turn this once lovely land into a giant cemetery.


Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2018


This post is in: Syria, Turkey


  1. duckandcover says:

    Hi Eric, thank you for calling this out. Now it is 2.5 weeks later, and I would ask why is Turkey in Syria, expect your point is that the Kurds are causing problems for Turkey and US presence/arming them is damaging to the peace efforts of Turkey. What kind of peace was Turkey enabling with the Kurds? Could the US effort be described as fomenting a civil war inside Turkey?

  2. Regarding MANPADS being very effective, from the BBC, “In a statement released on social media, the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group claimed it had shot down the plane using a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile.”
    Could have been an American ‘Stinger’ missile.

  3. jimmywalter says:

    I would not call it revenge since that implies you were not the instigator. As a salesman once told me, “No means not today”. Those sociopaths, Neocons, Israeli government, MIC, Pentagon, et. al., never give up.

    However, I think there will be no big war. Just the cold war cash cow for the MIC. If there were a big war, then the profits would stop when it ended for there would be no one left to build nukes against

  4. Some ramblings:
    Turkey seems to be slowly moving from a secular government to a Muslim governed state. It also appears to be moving from a democracy to an autocratic state by legally changing its constitution. Erdogan is a harsh relentless ruler with many enemies, but, clever. He wants the Kurds to fail.
    Erdogan has a ‘pesky’ separatist group of Kurds. It is this latter group that Erdogan has great difficulty with. They want to separate from Turkey and establish their own state. The US is strangely quiet about this because it was through the American influence that the Sudan ‘split up legally’ due to oil reserves. It will be interesting if the Hawaiians use this precedent to separate from the US, or, Crimea to separate from the Ukraine. It will be interesting to see how others use the ‘rule of law’ to legally separate from the homeland.
    Assad has, surprisingly, managed to maintain his position as leader of Syria. There have been numerous unsuccessful attempts to oust him. Syria is divided into numerous districts/provinces called governorates. ISIS or the Taliban control a decreasing part of these areas. Assad has to assert leadership throughout Syria and contend with the ISIS/Taliban as well as other rebels that want him ousted. In doing so he is coming into direct confrontation with the US and Saudi Arabia. This is further complicated by the Russian support of Assad, who are coming in direct confrontation with their long time antagonist, the US.
    It is interesting to note that Turkey shot down a Russian plane that encroached on Turkish airspace, but, that Turkey and the Americans can fly in Syrian airspace with impunity. This should change.
    The Americans, it is believed, were the original creators of ISIS/Taliban, or, at least kick-started this latest Crusade. The Americans supported the originators, when they were doing battle against the USSR which had occupied Afghanistan. This, I think, was the upstart of the Taliban which with Islamic fervour morphed into ISIS. It has become a common ‘monster’ that both Assad and the Americans are currently fighting.
    The conflict in Syria is more confusing because the ‘rebels’ are supported by the Saudis as long as they stay on ‘their side of the border’ and ‘take down’ Assad. The Saudis are also battling ISIS because they are concerned about their own harsh Islamic dialect, and, the House of Saud being corrupted by other forms.
    Turkey does not want to see an armed Kurd group; this threatens Erdogan’s rule. Much, to the chagrin of Erdogan, the Americans continue to arm the Kurds in Syria; these weapons, in the hands of the Kurds, will eventually be used against Turkey/Erdogan.
    The Russians recently lost a fighter plane in Syria. It was possible that this was ‘brought down’ by American weaponry. If Yemen uses Iranian weapons on Saudi Arabia, there is a furor, but, if the Kurds use American weapons, the Western press is strangely silent.
    It would be interesting if the weapon used was a MANPADS. The use of these effective shoulder fired weapons could be the ‘secret of the week’. They are ideal for this type of warfare, but, not publicised. They can be used against American, Saudi, or Turkish sorties into Syria. Great care has to be exercised to make sure these weapons don’t fall into the ‘wrong’ hands.
    The Russian pilot was killed after he ejected and landed. There is little reference to his death, but, I suspect he survived and his captors were less than gentle. There was a previous article about a Kurdish female YPG fighter being captured, brutally murdered, and mutilated by the Turks. I suspect a difference in Western reporting. It is unlikely that there is anything worse, for a Muslim, than being sent to Virgin Sanctuary by a woman.

  5. Americans may be in denial, but the whole World KNOWS the US went to the United Nations Security Council asking for the Legal permission to invade Iraq and remove Saddam. The US loved Saddam when he was a useful tool renting out his army in 1980 to start the brutal 8 year with Iran, to nip the ’79 Iranian Revolution in the bud.

    The World KNOWS the same US Intelligence Agencies provided fake and false information to convince the UNSC. The World KNOWS the UNSC denied the US that UN Legal Authority.

    The World KNOWS, the US, with it’s delusional, self-proclaimed ‘exceptionalism’ invaded Iraq anyway, in violation of International Law, undermining the Global Order in place since WWII as represented by the United Nations, ushering in the Law of the Jungle to the Middle East and this material World.

    “FIRE and FURY like this World has never seen” may end like it began. The only thing ‘exceptional’ about the US is it stands alone having used Nukes on another Nation.

    For behold, the Lord shall come with FIRE, and like a tempest,
    His chariots, to render His anger with FURY, and His rebuke with flames of FIRE.
    For with FIRE, will the Lord contend, and with His sword with all flesh, and those slain by the Lord shall be many.
    -Isaiah 66:15-16

    But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto FIRE against the Day of Judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
    -2Peter 3:7


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