Geopolitical Commentary

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The Islamic State (ISIS)
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) captured the city of Tabqa and its nearby dam from the Islamic State on 10 May. SDF spokesman Talal Sello told the press that his forces had “achieved victory and completely liberated Tabqa city and the dam”.
A spokesman for the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, “The Syrian Democratic Forces seized control of Tabqa and the adjacent dam.” SOHRsaid cleanup operations were continuing in Tabqa.
This is the second time that the SDF have declared the complete liberation of Tabqa City. Their claim on 2 May was premature.
The liberation of Tabqa is an important milestone in the preparations for offensive operations against Raqqa, capital of ISIS. Tabqa is 55 kms/35 miles for Raqqa. This success also shows there is no military need for Turkish or Turkish-backed forces to participate in the Raqqa operations, provided the YPG and their Arab allies continue to receive US air, artillery and logistics support.
The US program to provide heavy weapons to the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) will cause a pause in offensive operations until the equipment and weapons are integrated. Nevertheless, the defeat of the Islamic State and its so-called caliphate is in prospect.
Meanwhile, in Turkey
On 9 May, Turkish President Erdogan called on the United States to reverse immediately a decision on arming Syrian Kurdish fighters.
“I hope very much that this mistake will be reversed immediately,” Erdogan said. He said he would raise “our worries” on the issue in talks with the US President on 16 May in Washington. 
“The supply of arms to the YPG is unacceptable,” Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli told A Haber television. “Such a policy will benefit nobody. We expect that this mistake is to be rectified.”
The Turks are likely to be disappointed during Erdogan’s US visit. Their concerns have merit, however, because the emergence of the political awareness and military capabilities of the Syrian Kurds is arguably the most destabilizing development in the Syrian civil war. It also is the most significant development in the post-war history of the region. The Syrian Kurds have a new sense of their identity and their power.

And what Future for the Syrian Kurds?
After the Islamic State is defeated, there will be multiple critical questions about the next phase pf the struggle. Key among them is the future status of the Syrian Kurds and their People’s Protection Units. For example, how many YPG will support the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels after the defeat of the Islamic State. Some certainly will.
Will YPG forces fight to overthrow the Assad government with the armed opposition groups?
Who will disarm the Syrian Kurds, if anyone? Can they be institutionalized as part of the Syrian armed forces? If not, what happens to the armored vehicles and the ammunition and supplies that the US lavishes on its proxies. Will the young Kurdish men and women who have matured as fighters during the past six years be willing to disarm and pursue more peaceful pursuits?
Those questions are secondary, however, to the larger question of political autonomy for the Kurds within a federated Syria. The Syrian Kurds have already laid the ground work for self-government in the northern cities that they have liberated. Their political leaders already are looking past the defeat of the Islamic State. 
Assad owes them a great deal, along with the Russians, but both oppose an autonomous Syrian Kurdistan. 
Central African Republic
On 8 May, suspected anti-Balaka terrorists attacked a UN convoy near Bangassou. Four Cambodian peacekeepers were killed and 10 peacekeepers were wounded. The UN force killed eight anti-Balaka fighters.
The motive for this attack has not been reported. The anti-Balakas are a militia that is viscerally anti-Muslim in a state that is mixed. They claim to be a Christian militia that continues to fight the Muslim Seleka coalition, which officially was disbanded four years ago. They have no reason to attack a UN convoy, unless this was a botched bandit attack. 
The UN peacekeeping mission, known as MINUSCA, contains 13,429 total personnel, including 10,108 military personnel; 1,696 police personnel and 1,007 civilian staff. 
The latest fatalities raise the total number of peacekeepers killed to 36. It has been a relatively safe mission, compared, for example, to Mali where 116 peacekeepers have been killed.

And in Other News

16 thoughts on “Geopolitical Commentary

  1. Hahahahaha! (Trumps new FBI Director)

    I think the Kurds deserve their own piece of country. Why should the Palestinians be the only ones who get one?

    Thanks for the news. Always a good read.

  2. The Kurds should take a piece of Syria and a piece of Iraq (and Iran) for their own. The problem for the Iraqis is that Mosul, which would be part of Kurdistan, has a lot of oil in the ground. At present the Kurds raise opium poppies to sustain themselves and they (along with Afghanistan) account for a significant percentage of the China White that's floating around these days.

    If they declared independence, Turkey would invade. They're committed to killing every last Kurd on the planet.

  3. I know. They would need some sort of protection. Oil instead of drugs would be a good trade. For them.
    Thanks, LL.

  4. Doesn't control of a portion of the Euphrates River give the Kurds some clout? That must be the most important resource in that part of the world.

  5. Thanks for the briefing. I'd imagine we'll be seeing more and more of the Caliphate's leadership disappearing into the ratlines that end, curiously, in Belgium. Then there's sultan Erdogan, who dreams of a caliphate all his own.

  6. There will be a cultural transition for them – war to peace, drugs (traditional means of earning a living for the past 4000 years) to oil, etc. And the US to keep the Turks at bay.

  7. New lines need to be drawn, new spheres of influence. I think that the Russians will enforce some type of Kurdish semi-autonimous region in Syria. As to Iraq? Well, that's another matter. These things are far from settled.

  8. Will Erdogan join a cover band and sing this: ??? Who knows. I think that's as close to a genuine sultan as he's likely to get (outside of his own self-image). Turkey was secular for a long time. Breaking their backs and building a caliphate out of educated and civilized people isn't all that easy.

  9. This is starting to sound like the post WWII redrawing of the former English colonies' Asian borders that helped start a few long term conflicts.

  10. The Durand Line that created Afghanistan, the straight line boundaries between Iran and Iraq, etc. The Brits were great for that sort of boundary line.

    You also have lines dividing US States in the same way. Some lead to peace, others lead to war.

  11. LL,
    With the factions at odds in Iraq, namely Shia, Sunni and the Kurds, a demand for oil profits would suggest that each group share in the oil money. Since they are going to be drilling themselves, the outside management (think EXXON) would handle that and the presence of Americans would somewhat inhibit the Turks from their hostilities. Besides, after the Armenian escapade of 100 years ago, haven't they had enough of genocide for a while?

  12. No, the Turks still have an appetite for genocide.

    And nobody wants to share ANYTHING in that part of the world. They'd prefer to fight and there are lots of weapons laying around from war-after miserable-war.

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