December, 2016 Middle East

 Truce in Syria Turkey


Murat Yetin
The truce in Syria toward the end of the fifth year of the civil war was announced simultaneously by the Russian and Turkish foreign ministries on Dec. 29.

Syria truce US left out


DEBKAfile Special Report
President Vladimir Putin has announced that the Syrian government and rebels have signed a truce deal and are ready to begin peace talks. The ceasefire begins Thursday, Dec. 289, at midnight local time. The deal excludes the Islamic State the ex-Nusra Front and all groups linked to them. He did not say which rebel groups were covered.

 Iran  Aleppo


Author: Ali Hashem, Al Monitor

 

On Dec. 22, the same day the Syrian government announced that Aleppo was under its control, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari was in Damascus to meet President Bashar al-Assad. Ansari was in fact in the Syrian capital to congratulate his country’s prime regional ally for retaking Syria’s largest city and one of the main strongholds of the armed opposition. 

 Turkish army ISIS pushback


DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis 

Wednesday, Dec. 28, hours before US Secretary of State John Kerry was due to deliver a major speech on his vision for the Middle East, Turkey and Russia announced a ceasefire plan going into effect the same night for the whole of Syria, and in all regions, where fighting between pro-government forces and opposition groups were taking place - excepting for terrorist organizations.
Moscow and Ankara assumed the role of guarantors of the process.

Kurdish state unlikely


Murat Yektin
A Hürriyet Daily News reader from Santa Barbara has written me a detailed and lengthy letter that actually echoes similar letters from other parts of the world. The U.S. military cooperation with Kurdish militants against the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) in the Syrian civil war has increased interest in the Kurdish question in the Middle East among American and European intellectuals. And the fact that the militants belong to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting with NATO member Turkey since 1984, confused the minds of Western intellectuals.

Aleppo Liberated


Moon of Alabama (USA)
As planned by the Russian forces the liberation of east-Aleppo was completed before Christmas. There are no longer beheadings by Takfiris in East-Aleppo. Instead a Christmas mass could be held in the damaged Elias Cathedral in the Old City in east-Aleppo.

Aleppo or cemetery?


Yusuf Kanli
A Syria crisis-famed bearded “strategy expert” on a TV program was explaining how it was “normal” to have 14 casualties in a war being waged in a city. The expert said fighting a war with drones or armored vehicles was important in undermining the capacity of the enemy but in order to achieve victory, it was necessary to have boots on ground. 

Iran’s Ascendancy

By Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 388

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Widespread moral revulsion at the horrors of the battle for Aleppo, and the aftershocks of the assassination of the Russian ambassador in Turkey, should not blind us to the dark strategic implications of the recent turn of events in Syria. 

Saudi Arabia  Islamist Groups

 Zero hedge,

A newly-leaked German intelligence report states Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar are funding extremist Islamic groups in Germany.
The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and Northern German public radio broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk saw the brief and raised concern regarding a reported increase in Salafism, an ultra-conservative movement within Sunni Islam, within Germany. 

New Arab Spring


by Tarek Fatah
The Toronto Sun

This month is the sixth anniversary of the "Arab Spring," when Tarek el-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor, set himself on fire to protest police harassment.

 Assad’s next battle

Ron Ben-Yishai

Analysis: After three and a half years of fighting, the Syrian president scores a huge victory in Aleppo along with his partners in Iran and Syria, dealing a heavy blow to the rebels, Syria’s citizens, and Israel too. Meanwhile, the rebels are already preparing for the next major battle in Idlib.

Turkey  Middle Eastern markets


Author Mustafa Sonmez
TranslatorSibel Utku Bila

 

The turbulence in the Turkish economy, marked by a dramatic depreciation of the Turkish lira, is forcing Ankara to consider emergency measures. While President Recep Tayyip Erdogan led a campaign against the threat of dollarization, the government last week unveiled a package of measures to appease and buoy up economic actors.

Battle for Mosul


Daniel L. Davis
Since the battle to retake Mosul began in mid-October, Iraqi and coalition spokesmen have touted the significant number of villages retaken around the periphery of Mosul by the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), and the fact that they reportedly recaptured Mosul’s al-Salam hospital, barely a mile from the Tigris. Yet an examination of the battlefield reveals that from the perspective of ISIS, it could be argued that the fight is going better than expected. Such a belief is not without substance.

 ISIS impetus


DEBKAfile Special Report 

Judging from the rash of reports claiming US-Iraqi military progress in the Mosul offensive against ISIS and the extra American special operations forces personnel posted to Syria for an impending US-Kurdish operation to capture the ISIS Syrian stronghold of Raqqa, the Islamic State ought to be cowering under siege, finally defeated - or at least on the run.

Next ISIS?


We learned with Al Qaeda and ISIS that localized jihadist movements are not local.
Seth J. Frantzman

When Islamic State overran Mosul more than two years ago media and observers mistook it for an “insurgent” force fighting the Iraqi army. Amnesty International, on June 11, 2014 described it as an “armed opposition group” and called on it to protect civilians. 

 Turkey Syria


Turkey presses for reset with Russia

Amberin Zaman

Reports that “Turkey’s outsize ambitions in Syria lie in shreds as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad press on to assert control over the rebel strongholds that remain in Aleppo.”SummaryTurkey’s Syria policies "lie in shreds"; Syrian Kurds coordinate with government forces in Aleppo; would Russia support federalism in Syria?

Israel’s National Security


By: Avigdor Liberman
The dramatic turmoil that has seized the Middle East in recent years holds a number of important lessons for the international community, as policy options are considered regarding the ongoing regional crises. These lessons are particularly salient for Israel and for those concerned with ensuring its national security.

Russia commandos


DEBKAfile Exclusive Report 

Moscow started to deploy Chechen special operations forces units to Syria this week, DEBKAfile’s military sources reveal. The troops come from elite units of the Chechen military with extensive field experience in urban warfare. Some of the units fought in eastern Ukraine in the past two years and, before that. in Chechnya for suppressing radical Islamic terror organizations linked to Al Qaeda and the Salafi movement.

Conflict in Syria


By Giancarlo Elia Valori
 "Information Clearing House" - "Modern Diplomacy" - While we are writing this article, much of South Aleppo has now been liberated by Bashar al-Assad’ Syrian Arab Army. Jaish Al Fatah, which cooperates with the Al Nusra Front, namely the "Syrian section" of Al Qaeda, has now been ousted from the Southern districts of Aleppo and from most of the city suburbs. But it still keeps Idlib.

Kurds Syria


Author Fehim Taştekin TranslatorTimur Göksel

Among all the complex alliances and shifting loyalties in Syria, the Kurds seem caught in the middle. Common sentiment is that the Kurds are now at a critical threshold of relations with the Damascus regime, and the outcome could be cooperation or, just as easily, combat.

Erdogan’s Neo-Ottoman Geopolitics

 
The geopolitical and geostrategic interests and balance in Turkey, due to its current Islamist Government lead by the authoritarian President Erdogan, have changed the country in last 15 years to an unrecognizable degree.

Michael Flynn

 By CAROLINE B. GLICK 
With Mattis and Flynn at his side, Trump intends to bring down the Iranian regime as a first step toward securing an unconditional victory in the war against radical Islam.

 Mosul offensive


DEBKAfile Exclusive Report 

The failue of the US-backed Iraqi army offensive to liberate Mosul - nine weeks after it began - could no longer be denied when a delegation of ISIS chiefs arrived there Sunday, Dec. 4, traveling unhindered from Raqqa, Syria.

 Saudi-Egyptian Tensions


By Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 384

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: A dangerous rift has developed in Saudi-Egyptian relations on two fronts. The Saudis, for whom the Iranian-backed Houthi uprising in Yemen has become an existential issue, are aggrieved that Egypt is not pulling its full weight in that campaign.

 Dead end in Aleppo


Cengiz Candar writes, “The fate of Aleppo has the potential to seal the fate of [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan's regime in Turkey. Too many of Erdogan's eggs are placed in the basket of northern Syrian geopolitics, and most of them are likely to crack.”

 ANKARA TURKMENS


AYKAN ERDEMIR AND MERVE TAHIROGLU
The Mosul operation has made the predominantly Turkmen city of Tal Afar the latest focus of Turkey and Iran’s sectarian struggle for influence in post-Islamic State Iraq. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned against allowing Iran-backed Shiite militias to liberate the city.

Aleppo Day after


The fall of Aleppo could lead to a further increase in tension between the Syrian regime and Turkey.
Francesco Belcastro

The Syrian army’s rapid advances in eastern Aleppo last weekend have rekindled discussions over what the consequences would be of the fall of the besieged northern city. Observers seem to agree on the fact that (barred dramatic changes on the ground) the regime will be able to take control of Eastern Aleppo.

 Erdogan US, Russia  Syria


Author Semih Idiz
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been promising since September to liberate the northern Syrian town of al-Bab from the Islamic State (IS) and move east to Manbij to rid it of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). Turkey claims that the YPG — the core of the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting IS — and its parent organization, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), are terrorist groups linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), but it has failed to generate international support for this position.