Friday, February 28, 2020

Fog Of War. Or Schrodinger's Erdogan.

Oh, goodness, Turkey's Defense Minister declared that Turkish Army "annihilated" 300 SAA's soldiers (in Russian). Why not 3,000 remains a mystery to me. Russia officially stated that the so called "observation posts" by Turkish Army are not targeted by either Russian VKS or SAA. Those 33 KIA Turkish soldiers and about the same number of wounded was a result of Turks being "deployed" within humanitarian jihadists rank and file and getting it as a result. Turks, certainly, are free to continue with this MO, but then they might expect even more casualties. Russians are unequivocal:
As was expected, a shitstorm was unleashed in the analytical community about who, why, what and how will handle this situation.  Let's start with a simple fact: Turkey is attacking a sovereign independent country. Obviously, Erdo being Erdo, that means full of hot air, already stated that:
A member of an expert body advising Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinted that Ankara is prepared to go to war with Russia after tensions over Syria’s Idlib province escalated over the past 24 hours.Mesut Hakki Casin, who is a member of Turkey’s Security and Foreign Policy Board advising Erdogan, made his comments shortly after 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in an airstrike by Russian-backed Syrian government forces in Idlib province. We have fought Russia 16 times in the past, and we will fight it again.The official pointed to Russia’s sizeable Muslim population and claimed that the country "will be shattered from inside” should an armed conflict break out between Moscow and Ankara.
My main concern here is whether this "expert" or Erdo himself looked at the "score" in those 16 "fights with Russia"? A hint--it is heavily not in Turkish favor, to put it mildly. Plus, there are serious misconceptions about Russia's Muslim population, but let's leave it to Turkish "expert's", hm, expertise. The point is, Erdo is not feeling well in his Syria's adventure for a number of operational and strategic reasons and Russia is getting ready to give Turkey more reasons for that--two frigates of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Makarov and Admiral Grigorovich,  are on their way to Mediterranean, to join Admiral Essen and other 3M14 carrying ships there. In other words, Russia makes her intentions to "influence" Turkey-supported jihadists' decisions. Plus, do not forget, there is always this pesky Caspian Flotilla and those Tu-95s and Tu-160s which carry many-many X-101 cruise missiles. So, the signal is clear: Turkey must "behave" or else.  

Nobody in Russia wants the war with Turkey but there is a legal matter involved here, with Turkey being an invader (will omit support for jihadists for the moment) and Turkey can appeal to NATO, to UN or to even Washington State Lottery board, she is in Syria illegally, even if to consider Turkey's legitimate concerns with Kurds. So, Erdo ran himself into the trap and now he has to deal with the situation he helped to escalate. I also do not share such point of view as:  
It is, certainly, not the case because of military-political ramifications of such a war if it happens (hopefully not), because Turkey for Russia always was and remains merely a situational "ally", which, as a matter of fact, stands to lose not just militarily but economically. What also the author of this concept forgets in his rather emotional conclusion...
On the other hand, Moscow, a key ally of the Syrian government, is unlikely to stand by while Turkey insists on invading Syrian territory and defending the various jihadist groups which have wreaked havoc in Syria for close to a decade. Perhaps this is what Donald Trump was hinting at when he recently said he would pass the fight against IS over to Iraq, Syria, Iran and Russia while he focused on maintaining control of oil and resources. The US can sit on the sidelines and watch other nations fight among themselves, while the US concentrates on the spoils of war. The divide-and-conquer strategy of the American empire is still alive and well. Given the risk of a heightened conflict involving a NATO member who holds a significant stock of US nukes, one can only hope that cooler heads will prevail and avert the ignition of such a regional powder keg. that it is precisely Turkey who is THE main destabilizing factor in the region and this alleged "divide-and-conquer" so called "strategy" is good only when not the other superpower is involved, the one which is fully capable of not allowing to "concentrate on spoils of war" (whatever that means) for already grossly overextended and bankrupt Empire, who, in the end, wasn't that effective in fighting jihadist forces (when not supporting them outright) anyway. As per NATO--the only REAL arrangements are possible between US and Russia and NATO here is but a PR front for US presence in Europe. France and Germany's puny attempts to make themselves relevant by trying to "mediate" (that means bite something off for themselves) is merely a diplomatic porn designed to cover own feebleness and a paralyzing fear of Turkey indeed opening the floodgates of refugees to Europe who, together with the United States, IS directly responsible for unleashing hell in Syria and Libya.  In the end, it is the battlefield which only settles the issue. As Deng Xiaoping famously rephrased Clausewitz' dictum: "diplomacy is a continuation of the war by other means". And so it is.  So, it is time for Erdo to decide what chair, or the box, if one wishes, he wants to put himself into, and in what state, politically, he wants to stay in the real world in which, unlike it is the case with Schrodinger' Cat, one cannot be both alive and dead. Not that Erdo is not trying. 

UPDATE: Scott Ritter penned an excellent piece for RT hust now. Here is his conclusion. 
While the US was vocal in its desire to support Turkey at the consultations, NATO is a consensus organization, and the complexities of Turkey’s Syrian adventure, which extend beyond simple Russian involvement to include issues involving the legality of Turkey’s presence inside Syria, and the fact that many of the armed groups Turkey supports in Idlib are designated terrorist organizations, precluded a NATO decision to intervene on Turkey’s behalf. Having failed in its effort to get NATO support in Syria, Turkey is now left with the Hobson’s choice of retreating or doubling down. Neither will end well for Turkey, and both will only further exacerbate that humanitarian disaster taking place in Idlib today.
In other related news.  
Putin and Erdogan MAY meet in Moscow on 5th or 6th of March (in Russian). 
As you can see yourself, Moscow is not very interested in "mediation" by France and Germany, plus Erdo called Moscow this morning anyway. And Erdo's algorithm is so obvious (such as blackmailing cowards in EU for them to press on Russia), that I am beginning to think that Putin, considering Erdo's capital of "trust" and goodwill in Moscow falling with the speed of the Wall Street stock market, may maximum offer some kind (as was done before) a "buffer zone" for Turkey, if that at all. What's the point of making deals with the guy who is not going to honor them? 

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