My notes from the livestream, which is a little under 18 minutes and can be found here: https://theduran.com/turkey-delivers-its-terms-to-us-ground-invasion-imminent/
AC: let's talk about well-grounded rumors that Turkey is considering a ground offensive against the Kurdish factions in Syria and Iraq. We've
mentioned that these Kurdish factions are aligned with the US, that they've served as a proxy for the US as well as the US occupying a part of Syria.
I was reading articles, haven't been able to confirm them, saying Russia has given Turkey a green light for a ground offensive, don't know if true. Also read that the US ambassador in Ankara has been
holding talks with Turkish officials trying to prevent a ground offensive. There are two conditions Turkey wants met by the US to prevent it: that the Kurds pull back 30 km from the border, which I believe the US agreed to; and the extradition of PKK leaders (in line with what they want from Finland and Sweden wrt entering NATO), which I don't think the US has agreed to.
AM: I don't know that the Russians have exactly green-lighted a ground offensive because I don't think they're in a position to give a green or red light, and this is a misunderstanding. They have
certainly had discussions about it with the Turks, the Turkish defense minister has had discussions with the Russian defense minister,
Shoigu. And of course there have been phone discussions between Putin and Erdogan.
Rumors are circulating that Russia is again trying to set up meetings between Erdogan and Assad and Erdogan has basically said he wants this. The possible venue for the meeting would be Kazakhstan. And possibly not coincidentally, the president of Kazakhstan, Tokayev, is meeting with Putin in Moscow now.
The Russians want to see a reconciliation between Turkey and Syria because it's important to bringing the overall conflict in Syria to an end. I did see reports several days ago that the Russians advised
the Kurds to pull back 30 km from the border if they wanted to avert a Turkish ground invasion (i.e., they're the ones who floated the idea). The Kurds have apparently resisted the idea, the Americans have now accepted it and are now trying to get the Kurds to agree because they do not want to see a Turkish invasion of northern Syria, don't want to see the Kurds hammered in that way.
It's difficult to see how the US could agree to the extradition of PKK leaders as if they did its relationship with the Kurds would break down. But apparently, Erdogan is saying the other thing he wants is a cut from the revenues of the oil the US is extracting from eastern Syria. And apparently the US isn't keen on that either.
Erdogan has an election he has to win soon, he's rising in the polls but he's again playing hardball, bargaining with the Russians, bargaining with the US. Personally I think he WILL launch some kind of ground offensive because I think this is what he wants to do, that he feels that's his way of getting back into the Syrian game - achieving a
rapprochement with Assad, knocking the Kurds but also by establishing a Turkish presence getting some influence with Damascus.
If it happens, the Kurds will be big losers. They've lost the support of the Russians, antagonized the government in Damascus and will be hammered by the Turks. The other loser will be the US, which will
see its position in eastern Syria severely weakened.
AC: there's something like 900 American troops in Syria at the moment. What happens if Turkey launches a ground offensive? It's so interesting, it's a NATO country launching an offensive against a
NATO proxy with another NATO country illegally occupying part of that territory.
AM: my own personal view - Trump, as president, wanted to pull those troops out but was repeatedly blocked by the neocons in the Defense and State departments who found ways to get the media and the Democrats worked up against the idea. I think we see again that his instincts were correct, the position of those 900 troops - if it is 900, some people think it's more - is unsustainable. They're isolated in this strip of eastern Syria, they've been overcommitted to supporting the Kurds which has antagonized the Syrian government plus the governments of Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Russia; all of them are unhappy about their presence. I think those troops will have to be pulled out if there is a Turkish invasion.
AC: is it too late for the Kurds to reconcile with Assad?
AM: the great problem is that by now Assad doesn't trust them. The Kurds have repeatedly been told by Syria and Russia that they should try to get some kind of deal done but the Kurdish leader has
repeatedly called Assad their greatest enemy. So they've stuck by their alliance with the US even though it's brought them nothing but trouble.
AC: they'll be the big losers then because the only way out is reconciliation with Assad. I think Erdogan knows the US isn't going to give him everything he wants, that's why he's asking for so much.
AM: exactly, I think he's asking for them because he wants to carry out his ground offensive. Read reports today from 10/28 that he said everything is in place for it and I think it's been under preparation
for a long time, since before the Istanbul incident. I think he wants a deal with Assad whereby Syria regains nominal control over the Kurdish regions in northern and eastern Syria but some kind of
important influence is achieved by Turkey in Damascus. And also Turkey may draw Syria closer into its orbit alongside Russia.
AC: so the Kurds get kicked out of where they are, there's a historic meeting between Turkey and Syria in Damascus where Turkey seeks more influence, with Russia at the table as they try and broker the deal. What is the influence Turkey is wanting? Resources, oil, gas pipelines?
AM: It's all of those things, above all it's Turkish economic penetration into Syria. The Russians will continue to exercise considerable influence in Syria, they have their base there and will remain the guarantors of Syria. The Iranians will continue to have some kind of presence there. By economic penetration I think some people in Ankara are thinking of making Syria some kind of economic satellite of Turkey.
AC: it's interesting because 4-5 years ago Turkey was completely out of the mix wrt Syria, they were going to gain nothing from Assad's victory in this conflict because they were on the side of the US and "Assad must go". Now, interestingly, they've put themselves in the position of getting something, possibly economic. And if they're
sitting at the table with Syria and Iran, with Russia there as guarantors, you're strengthening the relationships between these powers because they're now invested in Syria in one form or another.
AM: exactly correct. Just to add that Erdogan is more intent on meeting with Assad than vice versa at the moment because Assad clearly doesn't want to be in a situation where the Turks have achieved
this kind of influence over Syria, but he may have to, there may be no other choice.
You're right that the Turks looked to be the big losers after Russia intervened in 2015. They were able to pull it back because they maintained their dialogue with the Russians and the Russians
needed the Turks to help stabilize Syria and bring the war under control.
The Syrians have survived, the state has survived, their economy will be rebuilt in one form or another, maybe the Turks will be more visible on the ground than they would like but there we go.
Iran will continue to be a major player because it's been an emotional, economic, military and intelligence backer of the Syrian government, the big losers will be the US and the Kurds.
The Russians and Syrians and Iranians and Turks all do diplomacy. The US never did diplomacy over the Syrian conflict, and now runs the real risk of being frozen out.