For those that hoped Trump would bring a more sensible approach to the Western-induced Syrian crisis, it is almost for certain that those hopes have been officially dashed with the revelation of the Trump administration’s new policy regarding the SDF, Kurds, a new border force, and the logical partitioning plan that is obviously moving forward.
The new plans announced by the United States involve the creation of a “border force” that is expected to contain around 30,000 personnel to be deployed at the borders controlled by the SDF (Syria Democratic Forces). The force will be trained by the United States and will contain members from the SDF and YPG and will see Kurdish members patrolling “Kurdish areas” while Arab members patrol “Arab areas.”
Naturally, the move has angered Turkey since it is opposed to Kurdish nationalism out of fears that it will inspire Kurdish extremists inside Turkey itself. Russia has also condemned the move claiming that it will lead to partitioning. Syria, for its part, has labeled the Trump administration’s plan as an insult to Syria’s national integrity and appears dedicated to Assad’s promise to liberate every inch of Syrian territory.
The U.S.-led coalition is working with its Syrian militia allies to set up a new border force of 30,000 personnel, the coalition said on Sunday, a move that has added to Turkish anger over U.S. support for Kurdish-dominated forces in Syria.
A senior Turkish official told Reuters the U.S. training of the new “Border Security Force” is the reason that the U.S. charge d’affaires was summoned in Ankara on Wednesday. The official did not elaborate.
The force, whose inaugural class is currently being trained, will be deployed at the borders of the area controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – an alliance of militias in northern and eastern Syria dominated by the Kurdish YPG.
In an email to Reuters, the coalition’s Public Affairs Office confirmed details of the new force reported by The Defense Post. About half the force will be SDF veterans, and recruiting for the other half is underway, the coalition’s Public Affairs Office said.
The force will deploy along the border with Turkey to the north, the Iraqi border to the southeast, and along the Euphrates River Valley, which broadly acts as the dividing line separating the U.S.-backed SDF and Syrian government forces backed by Iran and Russia.
U.S. support for the SDF has put enormous strain on ties with NATO ally Turkey, which views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – a group that has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey.
Syria’s main Kurdish groups have emerged as one of the few winners of the Syrian war, and are working to entrench their autonomy over swathes of northern Syria.
Washington opposes those autonomy plans, even as it has backed the SDF, the main partner for the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State in Syria.
The coalition said the BSF would operate under SDF command and around 230 individuals were currently undergoing training in its inaugural class.
“Efforts are taken to ensure individuals serve in areas close to their homes. Therefore, the ethnic composition of the force will be relative to the areas in which they serve.
“More Kurds will serve in the areas in northern Syria. More Arabs will serve in areas along the Euphrates River Valley and along the border with Iraq to the south,” the coalition’s Public Affairs Office said.
“The base of the new force is essentially a realignment of approximately 15,000 members of the SDF to a new mission in the Border Security Force as their actions against ISIS draw to a close,” it said.
“They will be providing border security through professionally securing checkpoints and conducting counter-IED operations,” it said, adding that coalition and SDF forces were still engaging Islamic State pockets in Deir al-Zor province.
The “coalition” has stated that the training was already underway. This has prompted a strong response by Turkey. As ABC Australia reports,
Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said the US was “playing with fire” by setting a force that would include Kurdish militia.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Washington “is taking worrying steps to legitimise this organisation [YPG] and make it lasting in the region”.
“It is absolutely not possible for this to be accepted,” he said, adding that Turkey “will continue its fight against any terrorist organisation regardless of its name and shape within and outside its borders”.
US support for the SDF has put enormous strain on ties with NATO ally Turkey, which views YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — a group that has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey and is considered a terrorist group by the European Union, Turkey and the United States.
Turkey has criticised the US for arming YPG and Arab fighters in the SDF, which drove Islamic State (IS) out of Raqqa and other parts of Syria.
“The US sent 4,900 trucks of weapons in Syria. We know this. This is not what allies do,” Mr Erdogan said.
“We know they sent 2,000 planes full of weapons.”
‘We will tear them down’
Mr Erdogan on Saturday said Turkish forces in Syria would “vanquish” Kurdish militia that control the neighbouring region of Afrin, putting Turkey at odds with US-backed forces.
“God willing, in the coming days, we will continue the operation to purge our southern border from terror,” he said in a speech in the eastern Turkish city of Elazig.
Turkish troops entered Idlib three months ago after an agreement with Russia and Iran for the three countries to try to reduce fighting between pro-Syrian government forces and rebel fighters in the largest remaining insurgent-held part of Syria.
But now they have turned their sights on the neighbouring Kurdish-controlled region of Afrin.
“If the terrorists in Afrin don’t surrender we will tear them down,” Mr Erdogan said.
Rojhat Roj, the YPG spokesman in Afrin, said Turkish forces stationed in Syria shelled several Kurdish villages in the Afrin region on Saturday, without causing casualties.
“From our side, there is no shelling at present,” he added.
Mr Erdogan has said the Kurdish YPG militia is trying to establish a “terror corridor” on Turkey’s southern border, linking Afrin with a large Kurdish-controlled area to the east.
In 2016 Turkey launched its Euphrates Shield military offensive in northern Syria to push back IS from the border and drive a wedge between the Kurdish-controlled regions.
“With the Euphrates Shield operation we cut the terror corridor right in the middle; we hit them one night suddenly,” Mr Erdogan said.
“With the Idlib operation, we are collapsing the western wing,” he said, in reference to Afrin.
The traditional borders of Kurdistan extend from Syria, through Turkey, Iraq and Iran.
Turkey fear Kurdish independence in Syria could spark a new push for independence among ethnic Kurds in Turkey.
Mr Erdogan said Turkey expected support and “strategic cooperation” from the US in their “legitimate efforts” in Syria.
“Despite it all, we believe we have common interests with America in the region and hope we can act in concert,” Mr Erdogan said.
“We expect our friends to display an attitude that befits them in this issue of survival that is so sensitive and so critical for our country.
“During the Afrin operation, I hope these powers will not give rise to error by appearing on the same side as the terror organisation.”
It is, of course, ironic that Erdogan would mention a “terror corridor” as reason for his military operations in Syria since it was initially Turkey who operated the “terror corridor” known as the “Jarablus corridor” that saw ISIS fighters trained in Jordan by the U.S. and NATO pouring into Syria along with foreign terrorists belonging to fighting units of various names (but all extremists, essentially ISIS fighters). Many writers such as myself stated early on that Erdogan was, at best, making a huge strategic mistake in encouraging the destruction of Syria since such a move was likely to stir up Kurdish nationalist sentiment both outside and inside Turkey. Now that Erdogan has risked the stability of his own country on pipe dreams of being the next Ottoman Empire, he is worried that the cards he played on his reckless gamble are not going to pay off. Make no mistake, Turkey is not interested in righting its wrongs but in expanding its territory, defending against the Kurds, and continuing to push an Islamist overthrow of the Syrian government. It’s closer partnership with Russia came only as Erdogan came to understand that the U.S. and its “coalition” had very little concern with the overall aspirations of Turkey.
Russia also condemned the plans. ABC, again, reports,
Chairman of the Defence Committee of Russia’s State Duma Vladimir Shamanov told local media Russia would undertake measures as a response to the US-led coalition’s decision to create the “so-called Border Security Force”.
He said the move “stands in direct confrontation” with Russian interests, and they would take measures to stabilise Syria.
The Syrian government stated that the new American-organized force “represents a blatant assault” on Syrian sovereignty and has referred to the US as an illegal occupying force. It also referred to members of the SDF and new American “border force” as “traitors.”
What is becoming more and more clear is that the United States, GCC, Israel, and NATO have determined that the feasibility of destroying the Syrian government in the same manner as in Libya is becoming less and less plausible by the day. Plan B, however, is the partitioning and the “Federalization” of Syria into several independent countries or one country with several “autonomous” zones headed by a weakened central government incapable of maintaining power and steering the ship of state.
The move to create a “border force” is nothing more than an attempt to solidify the borders of “Kurdistan” in Syria and a possible “Sunnistan” in the east. These plans are not reasonable solutions to a crisis, they are imperialism pure and simple and they have existed for decades. Not only Syria’s allies but the American people must oppose this plan as well.
Brandon Turbeville writes for Activist Post – article archive here – He is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President, and Resisting The Empire: The Plan To Destroy Syria And How The Future Of The World Depends On The Outcome. Turbeville has published over 1000 articles on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s radio show Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. His website is BrandonTurbeville.com He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.
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