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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 10/23/19

Unlike Trump, Putin faces down Turkey on Plans for Massive Syria Incursion

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With Trump and his special operations troops out of Syria, it fell to Russia to deal with Turkey's invasion of northern Syria to push back from its border the leftist Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

Trump has not only become irrelevant, but the troops formerly stationed in Syria now seem to be Flying Dutchmen, wandering the earth without a home. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper had said they would be based in western Iraq, but Baghdad immediately announced that they had no such permission.

Turkey had planned an incursion to the depth of 20 miles along a 276-mile stretch of northeast Syria, from which it planned to expel hundreds of thousands of Kurdish residents and replace them with Syrian Arab refugees from elsewhere in Syria, who now live in Turkey. That is a little over 5,500 square miles.

Instead, Turkey will keep for a while a 75-mile long stretch between Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, to a depth of 20 feet down into Syria. That is only 1,500 square miles.

On either side of the miniaturized Turkish "safe zone" (i.e., zone of ethnic cleansing), the Russian army will patrol alongside Turkish troops over in Turkey, with Syrian Arab Army troops taking over security duties in the Kurdish areas south of the border.

This outcome is an enormous climb-down by Turkey in the face of Russian insistence.

 

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Juan Cole is an American academic and commentator on the modern Middle East and South Asia.  He is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. Since 2002, he has written a weblog, Informed Comment (more...)
 

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George W.Reichel

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Trump irrelevance seems to be trending in World affairs.That's a good ting.

Submitted on Thursday, Oct 24, 2019 at 12:00:46 PM

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Scott Baker

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This is pretty much playing out as I predicted two weeks ago: http://bit.ly/2Eclg27

I give Trump more credit however, by saying it was his best foreign policy decision to date, to allow "Russia to handle it" as he promised to do when he first campaigned.

It seems the Kurds will barely have to give up any territory at all now, and their dream of a separate country will have to be postponed again, in favor of an alliance promoting stability in an otherwise unstable region where, as Trump said "people have been fighting there forever." In a couple of months, this will all be seen as a good development, bringing peace for most people in the region.

Repatriating the 3million or so Syrian refugees will be harder, but it must be done since Turkey cannot house them all indefinitely and won't absorb them into its own population. It looks like some will be co-mingled into the Kurdish areas, but some will opt to try to return to their abandoned homes. That will be Assad's test, to see what part of that population he allows to resettle. If he is too aggressive towards them, he will have to answer to Russia, which is eager to get out of Syria ASAP. They will not tolerate a restart of the Civil War by Assad, and free of U.S. interference, they won't have to.

Submitted on Thursday, Oct 24, 2019 at 2:06:07 PM

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John Lawrence Ré

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Yes, you are exactly right.

Submitted on Thursday, Oct 24, 2019 at 5:14:47 PM

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