Turkish Military Buildup on Syria Border
Next Cold War Roundup, 2/5/16.
Turkey Preparing for Invasion of Syria?
_ Russian defense ministry says developments on Turkish-Syrian border “give serious grounds to believe Turkey is preparing to invade Syria. Russian officials have been doing a ground inspection of Turkish military activities in one zone in coordination with the Turkish military , conducted within the framework of OSCE 2011 Vienna agreement but they were later denied the ability to do aerial reconnaisance under the Open Skies Treaty. Russia also has satellites, of course, and have provided satellite evidence of Turkish border activity in the past including recent evidence submitted to prove Turkish shelling across the border in Syria.
“We have serious grounds to suspect intensive preparations by Turkey for a military invasion on the territory of the sovereign state of Syria,”Major General Igor Konashenkov, Defense Ministry spokesman, told journalists.
“We are recording more and more signs of concealed preparations by the Turkish military,” he added.
_ Last week, Patrick Cockburn wrote about potential Turkish invasion of Syria to push back YPG Kurds and cited experts who thought Erdogan was “unpredictable” and likely to do things another more cautious leader would not. He also cited experts who warned Kurds that Russia and Syria were unlikely to stop them in defense of the Kurds.
Turkey is the last regional power that could reverse the trend of events in Syria by open military intervention, a development that cannot be discounted as the Syrian-Turkish border is progressively sealed off. But, barring this, the conflict has become so internationalised that only the US and Russia are capable of bringing it to an end.
_ Moon of Alabama believes Erdogan may be preparing for invasion of Syria but his military will not follow the order without NATO approval and certain NATO countries will oppose war with Russia. However Turkish proxies like the so called “Turkmen” who have been identified as the neo-fascist Grey Wolves may be used to invade, possibly with support from the Turkish military from their own side of the border.
_ After the Syrian army and coalition recaptured Zahraa and Nubbul and cut off supply lines to Aleppo, Turkey refused a reconnaissance flyover by a Russian plane under 2002 Open Skies treaty request
_ In Iraqi Kurdistan, arms continue to pour in.
Additional vehicles, Ammunition, equipment & Arms arrive (25 tons in total) from Germany in Hewler today pic.twitter.com/frm9VY7BCD
— Rostam Mariwan (@RostamMariwan) February 2, 2016
Geneva 3 Talks Collapse, Rescheduled
— Hala Jaber (@HalaJaber) February 3, 2016
— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) February 3, 2016
_ Via Patrick Cockburn, Kurds believe the only way to defeat ISIS in Iraq is to defeat them in Syria first
_ “Late last week, Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, the top U.S. general in Iraq, warned that the [Mosul] dam is again in danger of collapsing.” This is not new news. It was known in 2003 and in 2007 “U.S. Army Engineers famously called it ‘the most dangerous dam in the world'” and for 30 years it has been under critical daily maintenance. The Iraqi government is close to closing a deal with an Italian engineering firm to “provide a long-term fix.” In Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan region, “officials and engineers” say the dam not in danger of collapse and the situation is pretty much the same as it has always been. But periodically there are waves of reports in the media about the danger of the Mosul dam. The last time was just before US intervention again in Iraq, in 2014. The recent wave may be related to the anticipated operation to retake Mosul from ISIS. A breach of the Mosul dam has also been used as a threat in the past, for example by Saddam, post-invasion.
Turkish-Syrian Border Crossings
_ Border crossings reality. “Also, this human trafficking has become a lucrative source of income for our border villagers. We know that in the 98-kilometer gap they provide crossing services for IS and earn big-time money.’”
Despite over a decade of reconstruction, the Afghan economy remains in fragile & worsening condition https://t.co/Xf6CXYlU56
— SIGAR (@SIGARHQ) February 4, 2016
— Joshua Landis (@joshua_landis) February 3, 2016
_ New York Times says Saakashvili’s glass-throwing fight with Avakov “succeeded in bringing to light a dangerous fault line in Ukraine’s leadership, one that threatens the West’s $40 billion effort to build the country into a bulwark against President Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia.” ……… “President Petro O. Poroshenko’s appointment of Mr. Saakashvili and a number of foreign technocrats created tension between anticorruption forces and those who want to respect a tacit agreement made with the country’s business elite in exchange for their support against pro-Russian forces.”
_ The government in Ukraine is splintering. Ukraine president Poroshenko’s cabinet is likely to be reshuffled. The leader of Poroshenko’s party in parliament suggested the overhaul after one of the parties in the ruling coalition in parliament (Rada) called for a no-confidence vote on prime ministr (Washington’s man) Yatsenyuk. If Yatsenyuk is ousted, he claimed that new elections would likely be triggered because there’s no PM candidate that could hold the ruling coalition together. There have been suggestions in recent months that Saakashvili might take Yatsenyuk’s place. In the past, war in eastern Ukraine has distracted from the current Kiev government’s problems. Stratfor analysis says that a breakup of the current pro-West government makes implementation of the Minsk agreement more tenuous and “politics in Kiev will increasingly shape the conflict throughout 2016.”
_ The corporate and oligarch economic warfare continues around Ukraine. Two Ukrainian oligarchs, Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov, are likely to be behind the takeover of British-based company JKX Oil and Gas, a company that does hydrocarbon exploration mainly in Russia and Ukraine, according to John Helmer. And a Moscow-based investment firm made it happen.
_ Helmer also writes about US investors working to raid other energy companies focused on Ukraine resources, like Misen Energy, currently controlled by the sanctioned Dimitry Firtash, whom the US is trying to extradite and prosecute. In December when Firtash planned to travel to Ukraine, the interior minister published a photo of heavily armed fighters who were waiting for him at the Kiev airport.
NATO Troop Buildup on Russian Border in Eastern Europe
_ In this week’s radio interview, John Batchelor and Stephen F. Cohen express alarm at recent U.S. decision to deploy heavy weapons and troops in Eastern Europe on Russia’s borders and to quadruple defense spending for Europe. Cohen also reported that Ukraine president Poroshenko spit in the face of Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande when the reneged on a promise to pass legislation that would grant special status to DPR and LPR regions in eastern Ukraine, to move the Minsk agreement toward implementation. Instead Poroshenko announced a long delay to any such legislation.