Archive for the ‘Russia – Turkey’ category

Turkey Prepares For First Batch Of Russian S-400 Air Defense Missiles

August 23, 2018

Rosoboronexport’s Director General Alexander Mikheev said that the defense company would begin implementing a contract for the supply of its advanced S-400 missile defense systems to Turkey in 2019, the RIA Novosti reported.

By by Tyler Durden Thu, 08/23/2018 Zerohedge

Source Link: Turkey Prepares For First Batch Of Russian S-400 Air Defense Missiles

{I wonder if these systems will respond to another Russian infraction into Turkish air space. – LS}

“The contract [on the S-400 supplies to Turkey] will be implemented within the agreed time limits. In 2019 we will start implementing the contract,” the company’s director general and CEO Aleksandr Mikheev told reporters on Tuesday.

Washington has expressed great concern that NATO member Turkey’s upcoming deployment of the Russian S-400s could pose a serious security risk for U.S.-made weapons used by Turkey, including the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, a fifth-generation combat aircraft.

Rosoboronexport told Turkey it would switch to the Lira, instead of using the dollar to complete the transaction, the RIA news agency reported.

In April, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin had agreed to expedite the delivery of the missile systems for 2019.

The S-400 system also called the Triumph Mobile Multiple Anti-Aircraft Missile System (AAMS), is an advanced Russian missile system designed to detect, track, and destroy aircraft, drones, missiles as far as 402 kilometers (250 miles) away. Moscow had previously sold the missile systems to China and India. The Economist described the S-400 in 2017 as “one of the best air-defense systems currently made.”

Ankara’s decision to acquire the missile systems stems from last year after Moscow and Turkey signed a $2.5-billion deal for the transfer of the technology.

Washington immediately threatened to halt delivery of the F-35 stealth jets if Ankara finalized the agreement with Russia. With the recent passage of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (passed by the Senate earlier this month), it warned about the US supplying fifth-generation fighters to Turkey amid declining diplomatic relations.

President Erdogan told Washington that it did not want to depend on Western technology, which is why the country had been turning towards Russia.

“We will not just buy the S-400s and place them in a storehouse. We will use them if need be,” Erdogan said in June.

President Trump’s response was to sign a Pentagon bill into law restricting the delivery of F-35 jets. The bill also called for the US Secretary of Defense to submit a report within three months addressing the impacts of Turkey’s purchase of S-400s on US-made weapon systems in the region.

Both NATO allies have discussed various ways on how to resolve this dispute but it seems that has failed with Turkey migrating towards Russia.

Diplomatic ties between Turkey and the US have plummeted in the last month over the detention of US evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson, which could likely be a front for a much larger issue: Washington wants to destroy the Eurasia integration via economic warfare.

The first victim? Well, of course, it was Turkey, as President Trump launched economic and political sanctions on the country, which collapsed the Turkish Lira against the US dollar.

As to why Turkey is buying the world’s most advanced missile system, well, it is preparing for military conflict.

 

The Latest: Erdogan, Putin talk economic ties as lira falls

August 10, 2018


Adem Altan | AFP | Getty Images – Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin last April.

By The Associated Press ANKARA, Turkey — Aug 10, 2018, 10:08 AM ET

Source Link: The Latest: Erdogan, Putin talk economic ties as lira falls

{Note: The original article in this post has disappeared from CNBC and it’s affiliates…strange. I guess it was just an update, but the title was changed as well. – LS}

{Turkey runs to Putin for help. Good luck with that. – LS}

The Latest on Turkey’s financial turmoil (all times local):

5:10 p.m.

Turkish officials say President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has held a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin during which they discussed economic ties between the two countries.

Officials from Erdogan’s office said the two on Friday “expressed pleasure” that economic and financial ties between their countries were progressing “positively” and of the continued cooperation in the defense industry and energy. The officials provided the information only on condition of anonymity according to protocol.

It was an apparent reference to Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems. Russia is also building a nuclear power plant.

The news of the conversation came shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump said he had authorized the doubling of steel and aluminum tariffs “with respect to Turkey,” causing the Turkish currency to plunge further against the dollar.

———

4:15 p.m.

In a bid to ease investor concerns about Turkey’s economic policy, the country’s finance minister says the government will safeguard the independence of the central bank.

Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak on Friday also vowed sustainable and healthy economic growth as well as “strong struggle” against inflation, which currently stands at close to 16 percent.

Albayrak was speaking at a conference where he outlined his ministry’s “new economic policy” as the currency plunged, raising questions about the country’s financial stability.

He said: “One of our principles will be ensuring the full independence of monetary policy.”

Investors are worried about the president’s unorthodox economic policies, pressure exerted on the central bank, and a dispute with the United States that has led to sanctions.

———

4:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he’s just authorized the doubling of steel and aluminum tariffs “with respect to Turkey.”

Trump says via tweet that the tariff on aluminum imports will be increased to 20 percent and the tariff on steel imports will be raised to 50 percent as the Turkish Lira “slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar!”

Trump is also declaring that, “Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!”

The United States slapped sanctions on two Turkish officials earlier this month over a detained American pastor who is being tried on espionage and terror-related charges.

Turkey vowed retaliation “without delay” and warned the move would further harm relations between the two allies.

Trump’s tweet caused a further drop in the Turkish currency, which is now down 13 percent on the day.

———

3:05 p.m.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is appealing for calm as the country’s currency plunges, urging people to change foreign money into local lira.

The lira tumbled about 10 percent on Friday to another record low as investors worry about Erdogan’s unorthodox economic policies and U.S. sanctions.

Erdogan said during an address to supporters: “Change the euros, the dollars and the gold that you are keeping beneath your pillows into lira at our banks. This is a domestic and national struggle.”

He appeared to blame foreigners for trying to hurt Turkey, saying: “This will be my people’s response against those waging an economic war against us.”

The lira fell further as Erdogan spoke.

———

2:15 p.m.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his government “will not lose the economic war.”

Turkish newspaper Hurriyet and other media reports quote Erdogan as making the comment to a group of worshippers following traditional Muslim Friday prayers during a visit to the northern city of Bayburt.

On Friday, the Turkish currency plunged to another record low amid concerns over Erdogan’s unorthodox economic policies and a diplomatic row with the United States that has led to sanctions.

The lira hit a record low of 6.24 per dollar on Friday, before recovering to 5.96, down more than 7 percent on the day.

———

12:05 p.m.

An analyst at Berenberg bank in London is downplaying the risks to Europe’s economy from Turkey’s currency turmoil, saying the impact on trade would be small.

European economist Carsten Hesse said Friday that even if the export of goods to Turkey falls 20 percent that would take no more than 0.1 percentage point from annual GDP in the 19 countries that use the euro currency.

He cautioned that a banking crisis in Turkey could have “some negative repercussions” on eurozone banks that loaned money there or own Turkish banks. But he said that the possible losses seem “too small to cause a significant eurozone crisis.”

Hesse noted that business confidence in the eurozone did not suffer after Turkey’s economy contracted in 2016 in the wake of a failed coup there.

———

11:40 a.m.

The euro sagged to a 13-month low against the dollar amid worries about the impact of financial market turmoil in Turkey.

The 19-country currency fell 0.7 percent to trade at $1.1450 in morning trading in Europe. The dollar, which traders buy in times of financial concern, was up against most other currencies.

The euro’s fall comes as investors try to come to grips with how big a threat the troubles in Turkey might pose for the currency union. Turkey’s currency sagged to an all-time low Friday amid doubts about the country’s economic management and souring ties with the United States.

The Financial Times added to concerns with a report that the European Central Bank was worried about possible losses at eurozone banks operating in Turkey. European officials also rely on a deal with Turkey to restrain migrant flows in return for aid.

———

11:20 a.m.

The Turkish currency has plunged to an all-time low amid concerns over the president’s economies policies persisted and as a dispute with the United States showed no sign of subsiding.

The lira hit a record low of 6.24 per dollar on Friday, before recovering to 5.94, down 7 percent on the day. The currency has fallen 66 percent since the start of the year.

High level meetings in Washington between U.S. and Turkish officials over a detained American pastor ended this week without an apparent resolution. Washington imposed financial sanctions on two Turkish ministers and warned of additional measures.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday portrayed the currency drop as a “campaign” to harm Turkey.

He said: “If they have their dollar, we have the people, we have Allah.”

Congress blocks F-35s to Turkey, as Ankara turns toward tyranny

July 25, 2018


Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto | Getty Images

by Jordan Schachtel · July 25, 2018 Conservative Review

Source Link:
Congress blocks F-35s to Turkey, as Ankara turns toward tyranny

{The payback is starting and it’s going to be a bitch. – LS}

A bipartisan measure in Congress has succeeded in temporarily blocking the latest generation of U.S. fighter jets from getting into the hands of the Erdogan regime in Turkey.

On Tuesday, the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) delayed the delivery of the F-35 joint strike fighter to Turkey. The amendment requires that the Pentagon reassess Turkey’s efforts to purchase an advanced S-400 missile system from Russia.

Legislators also felt that Turkey should not receive the F-35s given the ongoing detention of U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson and other unnamed Americans. Turkey is believed to be holding the pastor as a bargaining chip in hopes of securing the extradition of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Ankara does not appear to be concerned about the transfer of the F-35s. In comments to Turkey’s state-run media, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan remained confident that the F-35s would be delivered on schedule.

Turkey continues to be a thorn in the side of the NATO alliance. The regime in Ankara has repeatedly cozied up to American adversaries in Russia and Iran. Inside Turkey, human rights travesties unfold on a daily basis. An April 2017 referendum gave Erdogan amazing powers, stripping away much of Turkey’s secular, constitutional system of checks and balances.  Erdogan has leveraged an alleged coup against his government to garner even more power. He has ordered the indefinite imprisonment of tens of thousands of academics, religious minorities, activists, journalists, students, and anyone else whom he perceives as a challenge to his rule.

Moreover, some of the regime’s highest-ranking officials have been accused of supporting jihadi terrorist groups in the Middle East. Recently, Erdogan’s son-in-law (who is now Turkey’s finance minister) was connected to energy deals with the Islamic State terrorist organization. Turkey openly supports the Muslim Brotherhood and its terrorist affiliate Hamas.

Erdogan is also stirring up trouble with close American allies. This week, he claimed that Israel was the “most fascist, racist state” in the world, accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of following in the footsteps of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

Despite all of these concerns, Defense Secretary James Mattis has insisted that Turkey should still receive the Lockheed Martin F-35s. He has warned that blocking the sale could trigger a “supply chain disruption.” Turkey aspires to have a fleet of about 100 F-35s.

Kurdish militia repels Turkish Afrin invasion amid continuing Turkish air blitz

January 21, 2018

Kurdish militia repels Turkish Afrin invasion amid continuing Turkish air blitz, DEBKAfile, January 21, 2018ss>

Russian forces did not interfere when 72 Turkish jets Saturday night pounded 100 Kurdish YPG targets in the north Syrian enclave of Afrin. Early Sunday, Jan. 21, Kurdish and Syrian opposition sources confirmed that Turkish troops trying to enter Afrin clashed with the Kurdish militia on the northern and western edges of the enclave and were pushed back. Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan continued to issue dire threats, saying, “Beginning from the west, step by step, we will annihilate the terror corridor up to the Iraqi border. No one can say a word. Whatever happens we don’t care anymore.

”The Turks have cynically dubbed their assault on the Kurds, “Operation Olive Branch.”  Kurdish leaders are reported to have opened secret negotiations with the Assad regime for opening the door to the Syrian army to enter their enclave on the assumption that Erdogan will not wish to open a new warfront with Damascus. Turkey’s deputy prime minister Bekir Bozdaq said that Ankara would preserve Syria’s territorial integrity after it achieved its objective and Turkish troops would cross back home.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the Turkish army has so far not gone further than exploratory steps in its campaign against the Kurdish YPG in Afrin. A major offensive with large numbers of foot soldiers and tanks has not taken place as yet. Erdogan appears to be pulling his punches to test whether the US will come to the aid of its Kurdish allies. But the question still open is: Will he go through with his threat to capture Kurdish lands spanning northern Syria from the Turkish border to the Syrian border with Iraq? If he does and succeeds in pulling off this ambitious campaign, Turkish troops will override the region declared just a few days ago as being under American military protection and secured by a new US-trained and armed Border Defense Force of 30,000 men. Will the 2,000 US military personnel deployed in the bases there then intervene? Russia has made its position clear by refraining from interfering with the Turkish air offensive although its forces control the skies over Afrin.

Russian siege on Raqqa, distant from US troops

May 27, 2017

Russian siege on Raqqa, distant from US troops, DEBKAfile, May 27, 2017

DEBKAfile’s military sources can disclose that Putin has ordered the Russian commanders in Syria to impose an aerial and special forces ground siege on the northern town of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto Syrian capital. This move was designed to match the American initiative on the strategic Syrian-Iraqi border, without a military clash.

Why Raqqa? Firstly, it is in the north, far from the American positions. Second, Russian intelligence had apparently discovered a deal between the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces – SDF – and ISIS which allowed the jihadists safe passage out of their stronghold towards the south.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin acted to strengthen the military alliance he had set up with Iran and Turkey for working together in Syria – as a counterweight to President Donald Trump’s spectacular success in forging a Sunni Arab bloc during his four days in the Middle East.

It was a tough call. Putin’s allies demanded action to prevent a Syrian rebel force, backed by US, Western and Jordanian special forces, from taking control of the Syrian-Iraqi border. The Russian leader had to find a way to satisfy them without getting into a clash of arms with American troops.

On Saturday, May 27, as Trump flew home from his nine-day trip, Putin turned the dilemma over with his two allies, President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and the newly-elected Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani.

Three days earlier, the Russian president was put on the spot by Iran’s National Security Adviser Ali Shamkhani, who arrived in Moscow Wednesday, May 24. He slapped down a demand from supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for an answer as to how the Russian leader proposed to put a stop to the takeover by American special forces and their allies of the eastern province of Deir ez-Zour and the Al-Tanf crossing at the Syrian-Iraqi-Jordanian border triangle. (See attached map)

Shamkhani warned Putin that without fast action, the Americans would block the routes from Baghdad to Damascus against the passage of Iranian and Russian forces.

The Russian leader took a couple of days to come up with a stratagem, which he revealed to Erdogan during their conversation on Saturday.

DEBKAfile’s military sources can disclose that Putin has ordered the Russian commanders in Syria to impose an aerial and special forces ground siege on the northern town of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto Syrian capital. This move was designed to match the American initiative on the strategic Syrian-Iraqi border, without a military clash.

Why Raqqa? Firstly, it is in the north, far from the American positions. Second, Russian intelligence had apparently discovered a deal between the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces – SDF – and ISIS which allowed the jihadists safe passage out of their stronghold towards the south.

The Russian siege on Raqqa was therefore a move against the US-backed SDF and the Kurds, without getting entangled in a direct showdown with the US forces in the South: Putin had installed a Russian-backed foothold in northern Syria to counter the US-led front in the south.

Immediately after the Putin-Erdogan phone call, a Russian military source in Moscow released this story: “Russian intelligence drones have set up a perimeter around the city ([Raqqa] to monitor possible terrorist escape routes, with combat aircraft and special forces units engaged in preventing militants’ escape.” The report went on to warn that any attempts by ISIS fighters to leave the town “will be squashed.”

Putin’s maneuver in Syria was designed to achieve three goals:

1. To counterbalance the America-led takeover of the Syrian-Iraqi border in the south, the Russians would assert control of the northern section of that same border.

2.  To showcase the Russian army as the great champions fighting the Islamic State terrorists, compared with the American troops and their allies who had turned aside from this mission, although President Trump had made it the centerpiece of his nine-day trip.

Putin was careful not to name his objective as the conquest of Raqqa, but only a siege operation.

3. To hit US allies, such as the Syrian Kurds in the north, without tangling with the Americans in combat.

Mystery blasts in Damascus: Syria accuses Israel

January 13, 2017

Mystery blasts in Damascus: Syria accuses Israel, DEBKAfile, January 13, 2017

syrian_iaf_attack_13-1-17

Some unknown hand struck into the heart of that regime in the space of a few hours – not once, but twice.The Assad regime used its standard scapegoat, Israel, for covering up embarrassing and inexplicable occurrences.

However, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources disclose that the regime has reached an awkward crossroads. The Russians have taken charge of the Syrian war and no longer bother to consult with the Syrian president or Iran on its conduct. They are deeply immersed in preparing the Syrian peace conference they are sponsoring which is scheduled to open at Astana, Kazakhstan on Jan. 23.

If Moscow coordinates its Syrian strategy with anyone, it is Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, but even then only to a limited extent.

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There were two unclaimed explosions in Damascus overnight Thursday and early Friday (Jan.12-13) – one at an officers club in Damascus and the second at Mezzeh airport, which Syria alleged was the work of the new Israeli S-35 stealth aircraft firing across the border from a point over the Sea of Galilee.

There was no claim to either of the attacks.

The standard Israeli policy of striking any Iranian arms shipments for Hizballah in Lebanon when they cross through Syria would not longer be applicable to any such air strike, if indeed one was launched..

The Lebanese Shiite Hizballah deploys 9,000 elite fighters in Syria to fight for Bashar Assad. Its Iranian arms supplies no longer need to risk being trucked through Syria to Lebanon; they can be delivered directly to Hizballah bases in Syria without exposure to Israel air strikes.

Indeed, should the pro-Iranian Hizballah decide to go back to shooting missiles at Israel – or using Iranian-supplied unconventional weapon – it has new launching pads readily available in Syria from those very bases. They are located in the Qalamoun mountains in western Syria and at Zabadani, a Syrian ghost town near the Damascus-Beirut highway, which the Lebanese terror group has made its military center.

Both would be obvious targets for Israel to attack rather than Damascus’ Mezzeh airport.

Tehran, having grasped from bitter experience that Mezzeh is under close surveillance by Israeli intelligence, no longer uses its facilities. Instead Iran flies arms shipments for Hizballah to Beirut by commercial aircraft, which Israel prefers not to attack, or overland through Iraq to northwestern Syria, where the consignments are picked up and transferred to Lebanon by sea.

So if an Israeli F-35 air strike on the Damascus airport should be confirmed, its target would not have been Iranian and Hizballah military supplies. Mezzeh is the site of a sterile zone set aside for the exclusive use of President Bashar Assad, his family and his top military and intelligence chiefs. It also houses laboratories for developing and manufacturing unconventional weapons, as well serving as the main command center for the 4th Division, whose Republican Guard unit protects the president, his family and members of the ruling caste.

In the first attack, a suicide bomber blew himself up Thursday night at the officers’ club in the heavily policed Kafra Sousa district of Damascus. At least ten people were killed and dozens injured. Located there are the homes of many Assad loyalists in the security and military establishments, as well as top secret facilities.

The ability of a suicide bomber to penetrate one of the most heavily secured locations in Damascus and blow up at an exclusive regime watering hole raises questions about the inner workings of the Assad regime.

Some unknown hand struck into the heart of that regime in the space of a few hours – not once, but twice.The Assad regime used its standard scapegoat, Israel, for covering up embarrassing and inexplicable occurrences.

However, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources disclose that the regime has reached an awkward crossroads. The Russians have taken charge of the Syrian war and no longer bother to consult with the Syrian president or Iran on its conduct. They are deeply immersed in preparing the Syrian peace conference they are sponsoring which is scheduled to open at Astana, Kazakhstan on Jan. 23.

If Moscow coordinates its Syrian strategy with anyone, it is Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, but even then only to a limited extent.

The Syrian ruler and Iran, after being sidelined by the Russians, are following their example. Both have taken to holding their cards close to their vests and operating under in close secrecy.

In an attempt to pierce the resulting aura of mistrust spreading over the staunch Iranian-Syrian alliance, Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran and one of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s closest confidants, was sent to Damascus Sunday, Jan 8, to find out what is going on there

The mystery deepened further Friday morning, when Syrian state media ran photos of a big blaze – which may or may not be authentic – to illustrate the alleged Israeli attack on Mezzeh airport.

Turkish army like Iraqis stalled by ISIS pushback

December 28, 2016

Turkish army like Iraqis stalled by ISIS pushback, DEBKAfile, December 28, 2016

turkeytrot

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. This accord will be brought for approval before the Syrian peace conference to be convened in the Kazakhstan capital, Astana, this week, attended by Russia, Turkey, Iran, the Syrian government and Syrian opposition groups. The US and Europe were not invited.

Not content with kicking Washington out of any role in resolving the Syrian crisis, the Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan accused the US, leader of the Western war on the Islamic State, of supporting “terrorist groups.”

He claimed Tuesday to have evidence of the US “giving support to terrorist groups including Daesh, YPG, PYD,” adding, ” We have…  pictures, photos and videos.”

While Erdogan is scoring in the diplomatic arena, he faces nothing but frustration militarily over the failure of the large, professional Turkish army to gain ground in the battle for Al Bab in northern Syria. This is Turkey’s first face-to-face with the Islamic State in its  four-month old Euphrates Shield operation in northern Syria – and it is not gong well. The fighting is deadly with no end in sight.

This may partly account for Erdogan’s oddly inconsistent behavior.

Tuesday, Dec. 26, he quietly asked the Obama administration to step up its air support for the Turkish campaign to capture Al Bab, 55 km north of Aleppo and the only major town in ISIS hands in northern Syria. He accused the US of not doing enough.

It was doubly odd in that Turkey has a large air force of its own, and if that force was not enough to support the campaign against ISIS, Erdogan’s obvious address for assistance would be his ally in the Syrian arena, Russian President Vladimir Putin. After all, Ankara, Moscow and Tehran are in the middle of a shared effort to set the rules of the game in Syria, which has pointedly excluded the US under the Obama administration.

As to the state of the fighting, on Dec. 21, Erdogan claimed: “Right now, Al-Bab is completely besieged by the Free Syrian Army and our soldiers.” In fact, this siege has been in place for weeks and, worse still, the casualties are mounting.

Wednesday, Dec. 28, the Turkish military said  it had “neutralised” 44 Islamic State fighters in Al Bab and wounded 117 in Al Bab,  while 154 Islamic State targets had been struck by artillery and other weaponry.

No casualty figures have been released for the Turkish army fighting for Al Baba. They are conservatively estimated at 90 dead and hundreds injured. The losses of Free Syrian Army (FSA), the local rebel force fighting alongside the Turkish army, are undoubtedly heavier still.

Our military and counterterrorism experts explain how the Islamic State’s beleaguered fighters are not just holding out in Al Bab against a superior army, but running circles around it.

The jihadists took the precaution of clearing back passages from Al Bab to their headquarters in Raqqa, 140km to the southeast, and Palmyra, 330km away.

This heritage town, which the Russians took from ISIS several months ago, was recaptured by the jihadists earlier this month, when Russian forces were fully engaged with capturing Aleppo. The US air force has in the last few days redoubled its strikes on Palmyra – both to cut off the flow of reinforcements and supplies to the besieged ISIS fighters in Al Bab and to clear the way for Russian forces to recover the lost town.

This US-Russian cooperative effort is at odds with the Obama administration’s presentation of Washington’s prickly relations with Moscow.

Notwithstanding the forces ranged against it, ISIS has so far managed to repel almost every Turkish bid to break into Al Bab – thanks to the new tactics it has introduced to the battles for Syrian Al Bab and Iraqi Mosul, which mark a turning point in the war on Islamist terror in those countries.

Those tactics hinge heavily on maximizing enemy casualties in order to knock the opposing army off the battlefield.

This is achieved by a deadly mix of guerilla and terrorist methods, and includes car bombs, bomb belt-clad suicides, improvised explosive devices (IED), sniper squads, gliders carrying explosives with small parachutes, as well as the increasing use of anti-air missiles and poison chemicals.

Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar Al-Abadi estimated that the Iraqi army needed another three months to beat ISIS in Mosul. He was trying to buck up the Iraqi people by concealing the true situation.
The fact is that the Iraqi military offensive against ISIS in its Mosul stronghold has ground to a halt – and no wonder, when some units have suffered a 50 percent manpower loss.

Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of American troops in Syria and Iraq, was of the opinion last week that at least two years of fighting were needed to drive ISIS out of its two capitals, Mosul and Raqqa. He did not spell this out, but his meaning was clear: to achieve this objective, a far larger army was needed than the military manpower available at present.