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Russian shadow falls over Syria as Kurds open door for Assad | The Guardian |

With the US gone, the implications of their departure is beginning to sink in across the Middle East

he moment that changed the Middle East arrived with a sudden silence. Just before 7pm on Sunday, the internet was cut across north-eastern Syria where, for half an hour, the Kurds of the region had been digesting a news flash. The Syrian government was returning to two towns, Manbij and Kobane. The implication quickly sunk in.

The regional capital, Qamishli, soon emptied; streets that had bustled with minibuses and shoppers became eerie and still. With the internet down phones were no help and nor were officials who had vanished along with the traffic. Air seemed to be suddenly vacuumed from the city, and the few people still around knew exactly what it meant: this was the moment power changed hands. It was a time to be scared.

A black sky covered the road to the border, the sparkling white lights of Turkey to the left and the Syrian army somewhere in the darkness to the right. Usually diligent Kurdish checkpoint guards had left their posts, or were preoccupied. Lone speeding cars and belching lorries without headlamps rumbled through the night, perhaps the last to make the journey before the conquerors arrived.

A day later, the ramifications of the momentous week that preceded the Kurds allowing the Assad regime to retake the province is still sinking in, across Syria and far beyond in Riyadh, Baghdad, Cairo and the Gulf.

As if to celebrate the moment, Vladimir Putin arrived in Riyadh for a state visit on Monday, his first in 12 years, hosted by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who three weeks earlier had similarly felt the humiliation of abandonment by US allies.

After Iran launched an attack against the kingdom's oil production centres, the crown prince was expecting a US retaliation. None was forthcoming, and he felt abandoned by an ally that had sworn to protect Saudi interests. "Did you see what they [the US] did to us?" the crown prince asked Iraqi leaders in Riyadh a fortnight ago. "It was unbelievable."

From my diary @BooMan - NATO Partner Turkey Bombs Kurds in SE Near Iraq Border .

As ISIL attacks Kobane, Turkey and US mired in wider stalemate over Syria | Al Jazeera - Oct. 2014 |

The high-stakes game of chicken between the U.S. and Turkey over who should step in and save the Syrian town of Kobane from an imminent takeover by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has exposed a deep divide between the two NATO allies on critical elements of Syria's future, which analysts suspect may not be resolved until long after the Kurdish enclave falls.

Despite an uptick in strikes against insurgent targets descending on the town, the last and possibly best chance for saving Kobane might be to consider Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's renewed push for a no-fly zone in Syria along Turkey's border -- a long-running demand that would stem the flow of refugees and prevent the incursion of insurgents from ISIL who now control hundreds of miles of the notoriously porous Turkish borders with Syria and Iraq.

Ankara has been the most critical holdout from the U.S.-led coalition striking ISIL in Syria and Iraq -- a consequence of the coalition's refusal to target Turkey's foremost enemy in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

The Curious Role of Robert Ford [and Vicky Nuland] | NOW Lebanon - July 2011 |

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - Est. Oct. 2015

by Oui on Mon Oct 14th, 2019 at 10:46:59 PM EST

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