At the end of November, Erdogan had a phone call with Putin concerning Syria in which it appears Erdogan never made any claims about seeking regime change in Syria. However, according to Alexander Mercouris, the call was initiated by Erdogan and and its purpose was to complain about the alleged Syrian airstrike on Turkish troops that reportedly resulted in casualties.
It is in fact known that what happened was that Erdogan telephoned Putin to complain about the alleged Syrian air strike on Turkish troops north of Al-Bab, which the Turks say killed and wounded several Turkish soldiers.
The terse Kremlin account of the conversation suggests that there was a furious row, with Putin reminding Erdogan that unlike Russian troops, who are in Syria legally at the invitation of Syria’s legitimate government, Turkish troops are present in Syria illegally and contrary to the wishes of Syria’s legitimate government, and that for this reason the Russians are not in a position to help them.
Mercouris goes on to explain that this angered Erdogan, which in turn, prompted his comments a couple of days later claiming that the purpose of the Turkish Operation Euphrates Shield was to overthrow Assad.
Erdogan’s comments about the Turkish troops being in Syria to overthrow President Assad were almost certainly provoked by this row with Putin. It seems Erdogan came away smarting from his conversation with Putin and – as is his character – tried to save face by saying more than it was wise of him to say.
The result was another furious telephone conversation between Putin and Erdogan yesterday.
….However on this occasion we have more information about the call from Putin’s aide Yury Ushakov
“I can only say that a telephone conversation between our president and Erdogan took place yesterday, and the topic [of Turkey’s presence in Syria] was addressed. Yes, he [Erdogan] gave an explanation.”
Today Erdogan has made public what that “explanation” was. Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reports him telling a meeting of village elders at his Presidential palace in Ankara
“The aim of the Euphrates Shield Operation is no country or person but only terror organisations. No one should doubt this issue that we have uttered over and over, and no one should comment on it in another fashion or try to [misrepresent its meaning].”
In other words Erdogan has backed down. After his conversation with Putin he has now been forced to deny the truth of what he said just the day before yesterday: that he is seeking to overthrow President Assad.
Erdogan continues with his mercurial shenanigans. I’m sure there will be more to report on Turkey in the near future.
As for Syria, it is looking like the government has regained control of approximately 3/4 of the territory of eastern Aleppo that was once held by the jihadists, with reports of Al Qaeda/Al Nusra commanders negotiating surrender. Many are predicting that Aleppo will be completely liberated by the end of this month.
As The Duran reports:
Further reports of Syrian army advances suggest that the fighting in Aleppo may be drawing to an end with Jihadi resistance in eastern Aleppo close to collapse.
It seems that over the course of the day Syrian troops have recaptured two more districts west of Aleppo airport – Karam al-Jazmati and Karam al-Tarab – bringing them within 2 km of the Aleppo citadel in the centre of the city, which throughout the Syrian conflict has remained in the possession of the Syrian army, as a salient of the western section of the city which has always been under the Syrian army’s control.
Following these latest advances it is now confirmed that the Syrian army now controls more than half of the former Al-Qaeda controlled pocket of eastern Aleppo.
It seems that the Syrian army’s objective is to advance west from the districts it has just recaptured to the Aleppo citadel, slicing what is left of the Jihadi pocket once more in two.
At that point the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo will be forced to withdraw even further into the southern areas of their former pocket, which would however become so diminished in size as to be rendered increasingly indefensible.
More details are provided by military analyst Moon of Alabama:
Since the start of the Syrian army offense on the Takfiri held east-Aleppo some 21,000+ civilians have left towards the government held areas in the western part. Several news accounts confirm that these civilians had been held hostages by the Takfiris and had to flee under fire:
“We were under pressure by all means, psychological and financial. The gunmen were trying to prevent us from leaving until the army came,” said 36-year-old Amina Rwein, who fled with her husband, seven daughters and three sons.”We came under fire from the gunmen as we were leaving and the army hit the minaret from where the sniper was shooting, and then we crossed,” she said.
About 500 fighters among those civilians gave themselves up to the Syrian army. 480 of them were locals and where led go after they pledged to end all fighting.
The remaining rebels want to stay in the city and continued fighting until the end. This sabotages plans by Secretary of State Kerry who tries to get another ceasefire in which some al-Qaeda fighters would leave but other Takfiris kept in control of east-Aleppo. Kerry was late anyway. That deal was no longer on the table. The EU has even worse ideas – it wants to bribe the Syrian government to keep some Jihadis alive and in power. What a joke! The Russian and Syrian forces will not leave any enemy fighter in the area alive or any inch of Aleppo city grounds occupied by them. Later the same will apply to all of Syria.
New controlled exits for civilians and fighters who want to leave will be set up soon. All the old exit areas in the northern parts are now completely under Syrian government control.
I doubt that there are many, if any civilians left. As my original estimated from October 15 said:
Based on the Daraya numbers and those of other sieges in Syria there are probably no more than 4-5,000 fighters and some 3-5 civilians per fighter, i.e. their immediate families, in east-Aleppo. The real total could easily be as low as 20,000.The UN Refugees Agency and UN officials told fairy tales of some 270,000 civilians under siege in east-Aleppo. Numbers every “western” media repeated without caveats. More than 60% of the areas have been liberated. The International Red Cross went there and they were empty. Where are all those hundred-thousands civilians the UN envisioned now?
As reported by TASS on December 5th, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov made it clear that, in discussions with Washington, no ceasefire will be agreed to until after all jihadists have agreed to withdraw. There were initial signals made by Washington that it would agree to the removal of the jihadists from Aleppo.
MOSCOW, December 5. /TASS/. Those militants who refuse to leave Eastern Aleppo will be regarded as terrorists, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, adding that US Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposal handed over to him in Rome concerned “coordination of specific routes and dates for the pullout of all militants without any exceptions from eastern Aleppo.”
“Those groups which refuse to leave eastern Aleppo will be treated as terrorists,” Lavrov said. “By refusing to walk out from eastern Aleppo they will in fact go ahead with armed struggle. We will treat them accordingly, as terrorists and extremists, and support the Syrian army in its operation against such armed gangs.”
“We proceed from the assumption the Americans, when they put forward their initiative for letting all militants leave eastern Aleppo, were well aware what steps they and their allies will have to take to influence the militants entrenched in that party of the city,” he added.
However, that proposal has now been rescinded by Washington (possibly due to the fact that Washington cannot force those jihadists to leave who have chosen to stay and go down with the ship as it were).
RT reported on Washington’s pullout from the agreement on the following day:
Just as the US and Russia were preparing to discuss a solution for Aleppo, which was to involve free passage for all rebels from the part of the city still under their control, Washington abruptly withdrew its own proposal, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
According to Lavrov, the Americans are currently working on an alternative plan for the city. He said the Wednesday consultations are canceled at this point.
“They have withdrawn their document and have a new one. Our initial impression is that this new document backtracks, and is an attempt to buy time for the militants, allow them to catch their breath and resupply,” Lavrov said.
The minister remarked that there would apparently be no serious discussion of the Syrian crisis with the administration of outgoing US President Barack Obama.
“The same thing happened with our agreement of September 9,” Lavrov explained. “The thing that the Americans offered on paper and what we backed is now somehow not OK for them. It’s difficult to understand who makes decisions there, but apparently there are plenty of those who want to undermine the authority and practical steps by John Kerry.”
Ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich was scheduled to give evidence by video link to a court in Kiev last Friday (December 2nd) regarding the events on Maidan that led to the massacre of protesters and police and the subsequent coup.
However, his testimony was thwarted when, according to The London Times,
…a handful of camouflage-clad Ukrainian nationalists blockaded the detention centre holding the accused officers, preventing their arrival in court.
Mr Yanukovych was asked to return on Monday, but a nationalist spokesman suggested that a second prison blockade was likely.
“Personally, I think the video interrogation is an absolute disgrace,” Zorian Shkiryak, chief adviser to the internal affairs ministry, said.
(The Pentagon in January 2008; https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pentagon)
The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post.
The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel. Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology.
The study was produced last year by the Defense Business Board, a federal advisory panel of corporate executives, and consultants from McKinsey and Company. Based on reams of personnel and cost data, their report revealed for the first time that the Pentagon was spending almost a quarter of its $580 billion budget on overhead and core business operations such as accounting, human resources, logistics and property management.
And just when I thought I’d heard everything, it has been announced that Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski will be honored by the Nobel Institute and Oslo University on December 11th. These two old buzzards will be asked to speak on — get this — “The United States and World Peace After The Presidential Election.”
As Jan Oberg, whose article made me aware of this, comments:
These two experts on warfare and interventionism will – Orwellian style – speak about “The United States and World Peace After The Presidential Election”.
This is the country that, since 1980, has intervened violently in Iran, Libya, Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Kosova/Serbia, Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, i.e. 14 Muslim countries. It has some 630 base facilities in 130+ countries. It has its US Special Forces (SOF) in 133 countries.
It has used nuclear weapons without apology and owns the second largest arsenal of nuclear weapons.
The US stands for about 40% of the world’s military expenditures, is the world’s leading arms exporter and has killed more people than anybody else since 1945. It’s the master of (imprecise) drone strikes. It presently supports Saudi Arabia’s bestial war on Yemen and conducts a military build-up in Asia and the Pacific planning, as it seems, for what looks like a future confrontation with China. And not with terribly positive results in its Middle East policies since 1945.
So with all these credentials, please tell us about world peace!
I wonder if barf bags will be included for the attendees at this soiree.