All-out Turkish-Kurd war. Barazani goes to Tehran

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An all-out Turkish-Kurdish war has boiled over in northern Syria since the Turkish army crossed the border last Wednesday, Aug. 24 for the avowed aim of fighting the Islamic State and pushing the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia back. Instead of falling back, the Kurds went on the offensive and are taking a hammering. This raging confrontation has stalled the US-led coalition offensive against ISIS and put on indefinite hold any US plans for campaigns to drive the jihadists out of their Syrian and Iraqi capitals of Raqqa and Mosul. Continue reading

Assad in a position to strength after Vienna deal with Iran. Tehran revitalizes his depleted army

Syrian President Bashar Assad, in his first public speech in a year, could afford Sunday, July 26, to admit that his overstretched army had been forced to give up “critical areas” in a civil war that was dragging into its fifth year at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives, because he was confident that he is on a winning streak.  This confidence he gained from three recent developments:

1. The nuclear accord Iran signed with the six world powers led by the Unite States on July 14 has granted him and extra lease of life. The Syrian dictator, Tehran’s senior ally, can now count himself safe from US efforts to depose him – never mind if he cheated on his chemical weapons stocks and continues to use them in battle – after the Obama administration effectively anointing Iran leading Middle East power and strategic partner.

In his speech, Assad congratulated his best friend in Tehran for pulling off this feat in Vienna and commended the “positive changes in western attitudes to the {Syrian] conflict.” He noted that the “US and its allies now understood they shared an interest” with his regime “in defeating ISIS-style jihad terrorism.” Continue reading