Turkey prepares joint action with US in Syria
Bill Van Auken, WSWS, Sep 8 2016
The Turkish government is prepared to carry out a joint assault with Pindostan on the Daesh “capital” in Raqqa, Erdogan has told the Turkish media. Erdogan made the remarks to journalists on board his plane returning from the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China, where he said that Obama had proposed the joint action. Erdogan said, according to Hurriyet:
Obama particularly wants to do something together about Raqqa. We have told him that this is not a problem for us. Military commanders from both sides should meet and then what is necessary will be done.
Turkish deputy PM Canikli, told the media that Turkish forces had so far killed a combined total of 110 Daesh and Kurdish fighters. Three Turkish soldiers were reportedly killed in a Daesh rocket attack on Tuesday, while another died at the outset of the offensive in clashes with the YPG. The Turkish official added that, after having secured the border area, Turkish forces could push further into Syria. It appears that is what the Turkish military is preparing. Syrian sources reported Wednesday that Turkish warplanes struck targets in the ISIS-held town of al-Bab, which is 180 km northeast on the highway leading to Raqqa. At least 14 civilians were reportedly killed in the Turkish bombardment. A battle for control of al-Bab could prove particularly bloody and involve multiple antagonists in addition to ISIS. Turkish forces and Turkish-backed Islamist militias are advancing on the town from the west, the Russian-backed Syrian army is within striking distance from the south and US-backed Kurdish forces are approaching from the north and east. The main Turkish objective appears to be to prevent the Kurdish militia from taking Al-Bab, which would allow them to join their main enclave in northeastern Syria with territory they control in the northwest. Turkish boxtops are already speaking of the latest incursion carving out a “de facto safe zone” that would divide Syrian Kurdish controlled areas in the east and west of the border area and leave Turkey in a more or less permanent occupation of a swathe of Syrian territory. A spokesperson for the YPG said:
We asked Pindo forces to take a stand in our defense against the Turkish offensive. They replied that a decision will be made in Washington.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement Wednesday expressing concern over Turkey’s offensive into Syria, saying:
This calls into question the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic. We call on Ankara to refrain from any steps which can further destabilize the situation in Syria.
It pointed out that the Turkish operation had been launched without either the permission of the Syrian government or authorization by the UN. The Erdogan government now appears to be disposed to pursuing its own interests by playing off Washington and Moscow. Jackass Kerry and Sergei Lavrov are set to meet in Geneva on Thursday and Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported. Washington has demanded the implementation of an immediate ceasefire, particularly in the area of Aleppo. Ben Rhodes told reporters during a stop by Obama in Laos:
We’re not going to take a deal that doesn’t meet our basic objectives.
These “objectives” were spelled out Wednesday in a 25-page “transition plan” issued by the so-called High Negotiations Committee, a front representing the Islamist militias and Syrian exile politicians aligned with various powers and their intelligence agencies that was cobbled together by the Toads. It demands the ouster of “Bashar al-Assad and his clique” within six months and the installation of a “transitional governing body” that would rule the country for 18 months leading up to elections. How such a body would be selected is not specified, but the transparent aim is to impose a regime in Damascus that would be aligned with Washington and its allies. The insistence on these objectives coupled with the increasing weakness of Pindosi-backed forces on the ground in Syria and the new aggressive intervention by Turkey are creating an extremely volatile situation in which the threat of a direct confrontation between the world’s two foremost nuclear powers is growing.