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Tribute-Bearer from Syria or Turkey

Tribute-Bearer from Syria or Turkey

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Hindu Kings Who Ruled Syria and Turkey!

Research paper written by London Swaminathan
Research article No.1341 Dated 11th October 2014.

Foreign “scholars” who wrote Indian history books deliberately hid some glorious chapters of Indian history — 1500 year rule of the Hindus in South East Asian countries and 2000 year rule of Hindus in Syria, Turkey and Iraq. Though the Bogazkoy inscription mentioning the Vedic Gods, Amarna letters of Dasaratha in Egypt, Kikkuli’s Horse manual with Sanskrit numbers were discovered long before Indian independence, they never found a place in our school and college text books.

The British writers who wrote our history books wrote more about their “achievements” and “developments” in India than Indian contribution and cultural expansion. But instead of blaming them now, we have to blame our “scholars” who never bothered to correct it or update it. All over the world they updated their past history saying that they had glorious civilization around 1000 BCE or 2000 BCE. Indian history has a huge gap between Mauryan dynasty and Indus Valley. The Marxist and Dravidian scholars are very happy! They never recognised any of the 153 generations mentioned by Megasthenes and the Hindu Puranas.

It is not too late to read about the glorious Hindu rule in Syria and Turkey.

Between 1600 BCE and 1200 BCE the major powers of the Near East contended with each other for control of the region by means of war and diplomacy. Much of our knowledge of this period comes from the Amarna letters, a collection of clay tablets containing correspondence between Egyptian rulers of the later 18th Dynasty and their neighbours. They reveal amongst other things, the existence of Mitanni (Amarna is in Egypt).

The Amarna letters date from the reigns of Amenophis III and IV (Akhenaten) and Tutankhamun (1390—1327 BCE). Written in Akkadian, the diplomatic language of the time, in cuneiform script, they include letters from subject princes and regions in the Near East. In the letters we see rulers sending gifts to each other and sometimes entering into dynastic marriages such as that between Amenophis III and Taduhepa, daughter of Tushratta (Dasaratha) of Mitanni.

Tushratta wrote to his son in law, “ I have sent you , as a present to my brother, five chariots and five yoke of horses, and as a present to Taduhepa my sister, I have sent trinkets of gold, a pair of gold earrings ….. and godly stones”. After the death of Amenophis III, Taduhepa was married to his son Akhenaten.
Tushratta twice sent the statues of Ishtar of Nineveh to Egypt to heal the pharaoh of Egypt. (Ishtar is Goddess Durga. Foreign writers always give their known equivalents instead of original names. All the Greek writers wrote that Indians worship Bacchus and Hercules meaning Shiva/Indra and Vishnu)

Mitanni (Mitranya Desa) appears in history in 1480 BCE, when Parrattarna (Pratardhana) was in control of Aleppo in Syria , By the end of 15th century BCE, Saushatar brought Assyria under Mitannian control. Tushratta was assassinated by his son in 1340 BCE. He was the last king of independent Mitanni. His kingdom was destroyed by the Hittites and Assyrians. A document from the Hittite capital Hattusa records a treaty in which Tushratta’s son Shattiwaza is recognised as the ruler of Mitanni as a Hittite vassal. Mitanni’s capital was called Washukanni (Vedic God Vasu) .
A powerful Hurrian (Surya Vamsa Hurrian=Suryan)) state in north Mesopotamia and Syria (named after Surya, Hindu sun god) , Mitanni is first mentioned in an Egyptian tomb inscription dating to the early the fifteenth century BCE and last attested at the time of Assyrian king Tiglath-pilesar 1115—1077 BCE.

The name Mitanni comes from a personal name maiita (MITRA for Sun) known from Nuzi In Iraq. Since Bogazkoy inscription mentioned Mitra in Mitannian Peace Treaty, there is no doubt that it denotes MITRA, the Vedic God. Hurriya is also Surya=Sun=Mitra.
Mitra, Surya, Hurya, Solomon, Suleyman, Shulman are all same (H=S)

Mitanni changed in to a geographical name Maittani. The state was also known as Hurri in Hurrian, Khanigalbat in Assyrian and some other texts, Khabigalbat in Babylonian, and Naharina or Nahrima in Egyptian.
Sanskrit word Nagara= Nagarika= City dwellers ,Cultured, Posh

Scholars could not identify or locate its capital Washukanni. Its identification with Tell Fekherieh is disputed. By the mid fifteenth century BCE, Mitanni has conquered many parts of Iraq, Turkey, Syria which stretched to the Mediterranean sea. Its kings campaigned against Egypt and Hatti and eventually signed peace treaties with them.

It has been argued that the glass production in the fifteenth century BCE should be attributed to Mitanni and the best early glass comes from Nuzi in Iraq.
After Mitannian contact with Egypt, we see lot of Sanskrit names among Egyptian royals. Tutankhamen’s wife was Ankenan. It is the corrupted form of Anjana or Angana (Surangana= Sura+ angana= Woman of Devaloka)

Mitanni Kings with pure Sanskrit Names
Kirta (1500 BCE) = Kreeta/Crown or Kirti=Fame
Shuttarna = Sudhana or Sudharsana (Gautama Buddha’s father name was Sudhodana)
Paratarna = Pratardhana in Vishnu Sahsranama
Shaushtatara = Suacadhara (Pure?)
Artatama = Like Rudra Daman(130—150 CE), Arta Daman or Arta Dharma
Shuttarna II
Artashumara = Artha Kumara
Artatama II
Shuttarna III
Shattivaza/ Kirtiwasa = Sathya vakya, Sathya Vacha, Kirti Vacha, Krittivasan is name of Lord Shiva
Shattuvara= Satvavara or Sathyavaran
Wasashatta = Vasu satva or Sathya
Shattuara II =

(Like India, grand father’s name or great grand father’s name was repeated. Pandyas alternated with Maran and Sadaiyan Maravarman and Jadavarman)

Dasaratha Letter to Egyptian Paharoah

Hindu Migration
Vedas mention Pancha Jana (five tribes) in many places. Of the five tribes, Druhyus were the people who migrated to West Asia. Now we get lot of proof for this from the 8th Mandala of Rig Veda. The names correlate with the names in Iraq and Iran. It should have happened before 2000 BCE.
In my post “Did Indra Attack Ur in Sumeria?”, I have given enough proof for the Vedic contact with Mesopotamia (Iraq).

Old Reference:
Following is the piece posted by me under Indus Valley to Egypt: Lapiz lazuli Export:
“The contact between Egypt and the Hindu kings of Turkey and Syria is well documented. Thanks to the clay tablets of Amarna letters we know that Dasaratha’s daughter Taduhepa ( Datta shivaa) was married to Amenophis III of Egypt. Dasaratha was ruling Syria and Turkey around 1380 BCE. He was assassinated in 1340 BCE. Mitanni kings followed Vedic religion is confirmed by Bogazkoy inscription where all the four major Vedic gods are mentioned in a peace treaty. Pratardhana – name in Vishnu sahasranama – was ruling Aleppo now in Syria. Turkey and Syria were ruled by the Vedic kings from 1480 BCE according to the clay tablets.

Dasaratha sent Amenophis five chariots, five horses, trinkets of gold, a pair of gold rings and goodly stones, says one of the Amarna letters. We have more Sanskrit names and horse manual with Sanskrit numbers around 1400 BCE in Turkey. Marrying one’s daughter with a king of a neighbouring country is a typical Hindu custom followed by kings from Kanyakumari to Kashmir and beyond. Afghan Gandhari and Iranian Kaikeyi were married to Drudharashtra and Dasaratha, because all those countries were ruled by the Hindus in those days.

(Mitannian Dasaratha is different from Ramayana Dasaratha. Like Tamils, Tamilize Sanskrit words, Mitannians also wrote Dasaratha as Tushratta, Pratardhana as Parartana. Even today Sri Lankan Tamils write Damayanthy as Tamayanthy. Mauritius Tamils are still worse and they write Subramanya as Soupramoniamme due to French influence. Greek writer, Chinese visiors and British rulers distorted all place names and people’s names beyond recognition. Beautiful Aralvaymozi became Aramboli, Tarangampadi changed to Tranqbar, Tutukkudi changed to Tuticorin < Alexander became Alikasunda etc.)

The horse manual written by Kikkuli ( Aswa Sena) runs to 1080 lines on clay tablets. Though it was written in Hittite language the numerals Aika,Tera,Pancha, Satta, Nava vartaana (1,3,5,7,9 intervals) and words for colours are in Sanskrit.

Books used: Dictionary of the Near East by the British Museum, Time’s World History, Arya Tanagini by A. Kalyanaraman and Wikipedia.)


Larisa Epatko produced multimedia web features and broadcast reports with a focus on foreign affairs for the PBS NewsHour. She has reported in places such as Jordan, Pakistan, Iraq, Haiti, Sudan, Western Sahara, Guantanamo Bay, China, Vietnam, South Korea, Turkey, Germany and Ireland.

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Why Is There a Civil War in Syria?

The Syrian civil war, which has devastated the entire country of Syria and its neighbors, is a complex conflict that involves several nations, rebel groups and terrorist organizations.

What started as a nonviolent protest in 2011 quickly escalated into full-blown warfare. Since the fighting began, more than򠑰,000 people have been killed, with over 1 million injured and millions more forced to flee their homes and live as refugees.

Was Arab Spring the spark that ignited the civil war?

Although many complicated motives led to the Syrian civil war, one event, known as the Arab Spring, stands out as perhaps the most significant trigger for the conflict.

In early 2011, a series of political and economic protests in Egypt and Tunisia broke out. These successful revolts, dubbed the Arab Spring, served as an inspiration for pro-democracy activists in Syria.

However, in March of that year, 15 Syrian schoolchildren were arrested and tortured for writing graffiti that was inspired by the Arab Spring. One of the boys was killed.

The arrests sparked outrage and demonstrations throughout Syria. Citizens demanded the release of the remaining children, along with greater freedoms for all people in the country.

But the government, headed by President Bashar al-Assad, responded by killing and arresting hundreds of protestors. Shock and anger began to spread throughout Syria, and many demanded that Assad resign. When he refused, war broke out between his supporters and his opponents.

“The Syrian government must stop shooting demonstrators and allow peaceful protests release political prisoners and stop unjust arrests allow human rights monitors to have access to cities like Dara𠆚 and start a serious dialogue to advance a democratic transition,” U.S. President Barack Obama stated in a 2011 speech.

“Otherwise, President Assad and his regime will continue to be challenged from within and isolated abroad,” Obama said. By July 2011, Syrian rebels formed the Free Syrian Army (FSA), and a civil war was imminent.

President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad.

Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images

Assad’s crackdown is just one of several problems plaguing Syria.

Even before the Arab Spring-inspired incident, many Syrian citizens were dissatisfied over the government’s incompetency, the people’s lack of freedoms and the general living conditions in their country.

Assad became president in 2000 after the death of his father. Several human rights groups have accused the leader of habitually torturing and killing political opponents throughout his presidency.

A lagging economy, high unemployment, government corruption and a severe drought were other issues that generated frustration among people under Assad’s rule.

Another problem was a tense religious atmosphere in the country: Most Syrians are Sunni Muslims, yet Syria’s government is dominated by members of the Shia Alawite sect. Tensions between the two groups is an ongoing problem throughout Syria and other nations in the Middle East.

A diverse mix of characters complicates the situation.

Since the start of the war, the situation in Syria became much more complicated, as other countries and organized fighters have entered the picture.

Essentially, the Syrian government’s main backers are Russia, Iran and Hezbollah (a militia group based in Lebanon). The United States, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and other western countries are described as supporters of moderate rebel groups. Many newer rebel groups have emerged since the war began.

The ongoing conflict also encouraged terrorist organizations, such as ISIS and al-Qaeda, to join in on the chaos. These groups are primarily made up of Sunni militants.

The rebels and Assad’s forces have both fought separate battles against ISIS, while also waging war against each other. To further complicate the dynamics, the United States has also led an international bombing campaign against ISIS targets since 2014.

In April of 2017 and 2018, the United States launched military attacks against chemical weapons sites in Syria. Assad’s office spoke out against the 2017 attacks and said in a statement, “What America did is nothing but foolish and irresponsible behavior, which only reveals its short-sightedness and political and military blindness to reality.”

After the 2018 attack, U.S. President Donald Trump told the press: "The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons. Establishing this deterrent is a vital national security interest of the United States. The combined American, British and French response to these atrocities will integrate all instruments of our national power—military, economic, and diplomatic.”

The conflict has spawned a humanitarian and refugee crisis of massive proportions.

Experts estimate that 13.1 million Syrians need humanitarian assistance, such as medicine or food. Nearly 3 million of these people live in hard-to-reach areas.

More than 5.6 million refugees have fled the country, and another 6.1 million are displaced within Syria. Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan are credited with hosting the most Syrian refugees.

Syrians walk amid the rubble of destroyed buildings following air strikes by regime forces in the rebel-held area of Douma on August 30, 2015.

Abd Doumany/AFP/Getty Images

The outlook is grim, with violence continuing.

By September 2018, Assad&aposs forces had reclaimed control of most of the country’s biggest cities, although parts of the country were still held by rebel and jihadist groups and the Kurdish-led SDF alliance. The last remaining rebel stronghold was the north-western province of Idlib. ISIS’s presence in Syria, meanwhile, has been greatly diminished.

Since 2014, the United Nations has hosted nine rounds of mediated peace talks, known as the Geneva II process. Despite this intervention, little progress has been made.

After negotiations failed in 2014, UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi apologized to the Syrian people in a statement, saying, "Unfortunately, the government has refused, which raises the suspicion of the opposition that, in fact, the government doesn&apost want to discuss the (transitional governing body) at all," he said.

Both the Syrian government and rebels appear unwilling to agree on terms of peace. If nothing changes, this war-torn area of the world is likely to be the site of more violence and instability.

Who are the Kurds?

The Kurds are the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East. Despite their numbers, they are a stateless and often marginalized people whose homeland stretches across Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia.

After World War I and the fall of the Ottoman Empire, many Kurds pushed for an independent Kurdish state, and promises were made in early treaties for the creation of a Kurdistan. But when the region was eventually divvied up, the nation never materialized.

In the years since, numerous attempts at nationhood have been largely quashed .

How did the United States try to solve this problem?

The Obama administration tried to play down the militia’s connections to guerrillas in Turkey, encouraging the group to change its name and enlist more non-Kurdish fighters. The group is now called the Syrian Democratic Forces, and about 40 percent of its fighters are Arab or from other ethnic backgrounds, according to a 2016 estimate by American officials.

American forces also began to act as de facto peacekeepers, conducting patrols of the Turkish border, first on their own, and then in tandem with Turkish troops.

In recent months, the United States persuaded the Kurdish authorities to withdraw forces from the border and dismantle a series of defensive fortifications, as a show of good will to Turkey.

Why were Kurds at the forefront of the fight against IS?

In mid-2013, the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) turned its sights on three Kurdish enclaves that bordered territory under its control in northern Syria. It launched repeated attacks that until mid-2014 were repelled by the People's Protection Units (YPG) - the armed wing of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).

An IS advance in northern Iraq in June 2014 also drew that country's Kurds into the conflict. The government of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan Region sent its Peshmerga forces to areas abandoned by the Iraqi army.

In August 2014, the jihadists launched a surprise offensive and the Peshmerga withdrew from several areas. A number of towns inhabited by religious minorities fell, notably Sinjar, where IS militants killed or captured thousands of Yazidis.

In response, a US-led multinational coalition launched air strikes in northern Iraq and sent military advisers to help the Peshmerga. The YPG and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades and has bases in Iraq, also came to their aid.

In September 2014, IS launched an assault on the enclave around the northern Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee across the nearby Turkish border. Despite the proximity of the fighting, Turkey refused to attack IS positions or allow Turkish Kurds to cross to defend it.

In January 2015, after a battle that left at least 1,600 people dead, Kurdish forces regained control of Kobane.

The Kurds - fighting alongside several local Arab militias under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance, and helped by US-led coalition air strikes, weapons and advisers - then steadily drove IS out of tens of thousands of square kilometres of territory in north-eastern Syria and established control over a large stretch of the border with Turkey.

In October 2017, SDF fighters captured the de facto IS capital of Raqqa and then advanced south-eastwards into the neighbouring province of Deir al-Zour - the jihadists' last major foothold in Syria.

The last pocket of territory held by IS in Syria - around the village of Baghouz - fell to the SDF in March 2019. The SDF hailed the "total elimination" of the IS "caliphate", but it warned that jihadist sleeper cells remained "a great threat".

The SDF was also left to deal with the thousands of suspected IS militants captured during the last two years of the battle, as well as tens of thousands of displaced women and children associated with IS fighters. The US called for the repatriation of foreign nationals among them, but most of their home countries refused.

In October 2019, US troops pulled back from the border with Turkey after the country's president said it was about to launch an operation to set up a 32km (20-mile) deep "safe zone" clear of YPG fighters and resettle up to 2 million Syrian refugees there. The SDF said it had been "stabbed in the back" by the US and warned that the offensive might reverse the defeat of IS, the fight against which it said it could no longer prioritise.

Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels made steady gains in the first few days of the operation. In response, the SDF turned to the Syrian government for help and reached a deal for the Syrian army to deploy along the border.

The Origins of Turkey’s Buffer Zone in Syria

Rumors are everywhere about some sort of a buffer zone inside Syria along its border with Turkey. The notion of a buffer zone has a deep history rooted in Turkey’s shifting foreign policy towards Syria – from close partner to intractable enemy. In order for policymakers and observers to weigh the likelihood of a buffer zone or “air exclusion zone” to succeed, this history must be understood from Turkey’s perspective.

After being elected in 2002, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) prioritized Ankara’s relationship with Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad. The AKP’s approach to Syria has been defined by the work of Ahmet Davutoğlu – Turkey’s former foreign minister and current prime minister. The former academician was eager to use Turkey’s unique geography to expand Turkish influence in the Middle East. Syria, Davutoğlu argued in his book Strategic Depth, was historically connected to Anatolia, with Aleppo being a part of Ankara’s “natural hinterland” because of its historic links to the Anatolian towns of Kahramanmaras, Gaziantep, and Urfa. These areas once made up the Ottoman Empire’s Aleppo vilayet.

Turkey, Davutoğlu has argued, should act as a “center state,” adopting geopolitical theories first posited by Nicholas J. Spykman, Sir Halford John Mackinder, Alfred Mahan, and Karl Haushofer to more closely cooperate with its neighbors. These scholars divided the world into zones, known as the “heartland,” comprising much of Central Asia, and the “rimland,” which extended from Western Europe through the Arabian Peninsula to Asia. During the Cold War, Davutoğlu observed, these areas were under the influence of either the United States or the Soviet Union, thereby preventing the expansion of Turkish influence in its near abroad.

The collapse of the Soviet Union was thus perceived by Davutoğlu as an important opportunity for Turkey to extend its sphere of influence into these vitally important areas. To this end, Ankara incorporated elements of these theories into a policy of “Strategic Depth,” which argued that Turkey should act as a “center state” and re-connect with areas in its former hinterland via the blurring of the region’s borders that were artificially drawn after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire following World War I.

To implement this vision, Turkey relied heavily on its relationship with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, despite his embrace of Ba’athism (which Davutoğlu viewed as a faux political ideology), incongruent with the region’s history of governance because of its reliance on secular nationalism for political legitimacy. Davutoğlu, in 1999, wrote that political legitimacy in the Middle East has historically stemmed from the concept of Dar al Islam­ – the idea of shared religious identity inside both Muslim majority and non-Muslim majority states. Thus, in his book Strategic Depth, he argued that Ba’athism was destined to fail and would eventually be replaced with a form of government more consistent with the “Muslim masses.”

As such, the AKP described its Syria policy – and its close cooperation with Bashar Al-Assad – before the start of the protests in Syria as being akin to West Germany’s policy of ostpolitik during the Cold War, in reference to Bonn’s normalization of relations with East Germany. For much of the AKP’s time in office, the AKP lauded its relationship with Damascus. Davutoğlu went as far as to describe it a striking success of his “zero problems with neighbors” policy.

In 2011, the spread of the Arab revolts from Tunisia, to Egypt, to Bahrain, Yemen, and then on to Libya challenged Turkey’s policy of ostpolitik. In every case but Egypt, the AKP favored the maintenance of the political status quo and did not aggressively call for regime change, choosing instead to wait until it was all but assured that the leader would be toppled before choosing to work with the local party affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood (the AKP’s own roots are in Turkey’s Islamist movement, and there is a great deal of ideological sympathy between the AKP and Muslim Brotherhood as a result).

And so it went in Syria. In April 2011, then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Davutoğlu Hakan Fidan, Turkey’s intelligence chief, and other members of the cabinet, met to discuss the turmoil in Syria and Bashar Al-Assad’s use of force to quell growing street protests. At this meeting, the AKP agreed that Assad’s violence was untenable. But the alternative—civil conflict—would be far worse for Turkish security, owing to a potential influx of Syrian refugees and the effect any power vacuum could have on the Turkey’s Kurdish issue and fears over the nationalist ambitions of Ankara’s sizeable Kurdish majority. To this end, Erdoğan dispatched Davutoğlu—and then Fidan at a later date—to try and convince the Syrian leader to make political reforms. This would include lifting the ban on the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and for its leadership to return from exile.

These efforts failed. In September 2011, Turkey severed its ties with the Assad regime and began to work more closely with Qatar to create a viable Syrian opposition in exile. This policy was premised on Turkey’s support for the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, who, according to Hassan Hassan, an analyst at the Delma Institute in Abu Dhabi, promised to pressure the AKP to set-up a buffer zone along the Turkish-Syrian border, in return for a pledge of loyalty from defecting Syrian Army officers. These officers later formed some of the first rebel brigades in the Free Syrian Army. Turkey first floated the idea of a buffer zone in September 2011, before formally endorsing the proposal in November of that year.

The proposal was intended to create a safe haven for the rebels inside Syria, similar to that of the city of Benghazi during the Libyan revolution. Ankara envisioned moving the Syrian political opposition into this zone, so that the group could bolster its legitimacy with the Syrian armed opposition, whilst also beginning the task of setting up a government in waiting to rapidly assume power once Assad was toppled. At the time, Turkey was of the opinion that Assad would fall from power within six months to a year.

This assessment, in turn, prompted Ankara to stop short of calling for a no fly zone over all of Syria and instead push for a “buffer zone” – a concept that Ankara never adequately defined. This policy was broadly reflective of Davutoğlu’s April 2012 assertion that as a matter of “principle,” the AKP would “[oppose] foreign intervention because this region’s future has to be decided by its people.”

As such, Turkey did not formally advocate using air power to induce regime change, but rather argued for an intervention that differed in scope to the military action taken in Libya, which eventually resulted in the use of direct air support to assist with the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. To be sure, the Turkish proposal would have necessitated U.S.-led airstrikes on regime targets, but they would have ideally been limited in nature—and perhaps defined by something akin to the “point defense” (the protection of a specific place) mission later used to defend Erbil in June 2014. The United States, however, remained hesitant and refused to endorse the Turkish supported policy.

In 2012, Ankara changed its tune, and pushed for a much larger intervention in the Syrian conflict. Turkey urged its preferred rebels to march on Aleppo. During that summer, Ankara was convinced that the United States would intervene in the conflict after the November election freed President Obama to take a more definitive stand on the conflict. Ankara’s optimism, however, proved to be short-sighted and President Obama chose to refrain from using military force inside Syria.

In any case, after the U.S. election – and then after the Syrian regime’s 21 August 2013 chemical weapons attack – Turkey began to advocate for the establishment of a more comprehensive no fly zone. In May 2013, Erdoğan and Fidan met with President Obama in White House, where they made their case for Turkish backed U.S. military action. Erdoğan advocated for a U.S. air campaign —supported by allied countries, including Turkey—that would strike regime targets and strongholds, forcing Bashar from power. Ankara quietly argued that the introduction of U.S. air power could successfully pressure Assad to step down in favor of another figure who, without “blood on his hands,” could govern a fractured Syria. This approach guided the AKP’s approach ever since and is currently a point of convergence with the United States about the future of Syria. The United States refused to intervene, choosing instead to chide Turkey for its lax border policy and its history of support for certain rebel groups like the salafist Ahrar Al-Sham and, in certain cases, the Al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat Al-Nusra.

The disagreement over the use of air power has since grown more acute. The rise of the Islamic State (also known as ISIL) and its offensive in Iraq resulted in a circumscribed Western air campaign targeting ISIL but governed by restrictive rules of engagement. While the United States prioritized the destruction of ISIL, Ankara argued that the group is akin to a “mosquito” that has taken refuge in Bashar Al-Assad’s Syrian “swamp.” Thus, in order to kill the mosquito, one must “drain the swamp.” As such, Ankara conditioned its participation in direct military action inside Syria and Iraq on the expansion of air strikes to include regime targets.

Turkey argues that the current mission is too focused on Iraq and that the current air campaign in Syria indirectly empowers Assad, rather than create the conditions for a more comprehensive solution to the Syrian civil war. Ankara believes that the “degradation” of ISIL will allow for the Assad regime to move into areas vacated by the group thus priming conditions for the defeat of the Turkish-supported rebels. In turn, Turkey has once again touted the buffer zone as a key piece for what it believes is its “comprehensive strategy” to address the ISIL threat in Syria and Iraq while providing a haven for its preferred anti-Assad rebels.

In October 2014, Ankara released a map of an updated proposal for a safe zone along its border. During that same month, Davutoğlu indicated Turkey’s willingness to introduce ground troops into Syria, albeit under strict rules of engagement (directives that governs how a military will use force, or operate in a conflict zone), presumably linked to the enforcement of the safe zone by American air power. The plan, however, was a bit puzzling.

First, the map did not include Aleppo, which Ankara has subsequently made clear should be protected from regime attacks. Second, the map included Kobane—a Kurdish-majority town on the Turkish-Syrian border. Kobane nearly fell to ISIL in October, before increased coalition air strikes and an emergency U.S. airdrop of weapons and medical aid (which Turkey did not support) helped stop the ISIL advance. Turkey chose not to intervene in the still ongoing battle for Kobane, owing to the fact that the town has been governed and fought for by the Democratic Union Party (PYD)—the sister party to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The Kurdish challenge and the buffer zone

The PYD has controlled three non-contiguous areas in Syria (Afrin, Kobane, and Jazira, known collectively as Rojava) since July 2012. Since then, Turkish authorities have kept their border gates with these areas closed. Ankara has also pressured the PYD to join the Syrian opposition, ostensibly as part of a broader collation of Kurdish political parties, supported by Masoud Barzani– the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government, who Ankara prefers to other Kurdish leaders. Thus far, the PYD has refused, citing the dominance of Turkish supported Islamists among the Syrian rebellion and its discomfort with Barzani’s politics.

In response to the Kobane crisis, the AKP subtly changed tactics and sought to link the issue to its on-going negotiations with Abdullah Ocalan – the imprisoned leader of the PKK. As part of the peace-process, which Turkey has pursued intermittently since 2009, the AKP has demanded that PKK fighters in Turkey disarm, or withdraw to Iraqi Kurdistan. The PKK has done neither, owing to the slow pace of negotiations with the Turkish state. In turn, AKP officials quietly began to argue that if the PKK had disarmed, the Turkish government would not have had a problem with some sort of limited Kurdish autonomy in Syria. However, so long as the PKK refused to disarm, the threat posed by a possible resumption of Turkish-Kurdish hostility prevented cooperation with the PYD.

Ankara’s latest argument is a bit disingenuous, owing to the fact that in October 2014, Fidan is reported to have told Salih Muslim, a high level PYD official, that in return for Turkish support, the group must end its bid for autonomy in Syria, distance itself from the PKK, and integrate its forces with those of the Free Syrian Army. These demands are untenable for the group.

Ankara’s plan, therefore, envisioned the fall of Kobane and then the incorporation of the city—which would presumably entail the ousting of ISIL via Turkish supported military means—in to its proposed safe zone. Third, Turkey left the areas surrounding the ISIL-controlled town of Tel Abyad out of its proposal, which—like Kobane—is near the Turkish border, but included the ISIL-occupied and controlled town of Jarabulus. As such, Ankara was sending mixed signals about its intent to combat ISIL directly or to allow for air strikes to degrade the group in certain areas. In the cases of Jarabulus and Kobane (assuming the town fell), for example, the plan suggested direct combat for Turkish troops, backed by coalition air power, to uproot and force out ISIL. However, in Tel Abyad, which is sandwiched between Kobane and the Kurdish controlled canton of Jazira, no such military action was envisioned. Ankara neither explained these discrepancies, nor outlined its proposed rules of engagement for Turkish troops, with Erdoğan choosing only to say that ground forces are needed to defeat ISIL.

This plan was contingent on a fundamental shift in the tactics adopted by the United States and the Arab coalition partners operating over Syria. Ankara does not have the capability to independently enforce a large contiguous no fly zone thus it requires the United States to help sustain – and ultimately protect – any proposed area. At the time of writing, the United States has rejected Ankara’s request on numerous occasions, going as far as to say in October “that the American-led coalition, with its heavy rotation of flights and airstrikes, has effectively imposed a no-fly zone over northern Syria already.” Against this backdrop, John Allen, Brett McGurk, and Vice President Joe Biden have travelled to Turkey to more closely coordinate the American strategy with that of Turkey’s. After each meeting, both sides tout the convergence of interests in defeating ISIL, but U.S. and Turkish officials admit that the buffer zone issue remains a key sticking point.

Can Washington and Ankara agree?

Early this month, U.S. officials leaked details about a recent discussion about “the creation of a protected zone along a portion of the Syrian border that would be off-limits to Assad regime aircraft and would provide sanctuary to Western-backed opposition forces and refugees.” The proposal calls for the creation of an “air-exclusion zone” that differs little from the current status quo and does not envision any strikes on Syrian air defense systems. Instead, the defense of the zone would rely on a warning sent to Assad to stay away from coalition aircraft operating along the border and, in the event of a violation, the use of long-range air launched weapons to strike Syrian aircraft. The proposal, according to the Wall Street Journal, does not include the city of Aleppo and would rely on Turkish soldiers to identify targets for aircraft. (It also does not address artillery and the exact location of this zone has not yet been released.) However, there are concerns about whether these soldiers are up to the task and have the requisite training to act as joint terminal attack controllers (JTAC) – soldiers on the ground that have the training to call in precision strikes to support ground forces.

The AKP, in turn, was surprised by the leaks with one senior researcher at a government-aligned think tank, to wonder (in a private conversation with me last week) whether the timing of the leak about the zone was intended to embarrass Erdoğan before a high-profile meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In any case, the proposal, as envisioned, does little to address Ankara’s key demands. President Erdoğan has recently weighed in on the leaks, saying the only areas of convergence with the United States are about a proposed program to train 2,000 rebels in Turkey, but that “no commitment has yet been given by the coalition powers, particularly about a no-fly zone and safe zone.”

To be sure, Erdoğan is stretching the truth: Turkey has been supportive of a phased transition in Damascus that envisions the maintenance of certain regime figures since the summer of 2011. In this regard, Turkey and the United States do share a similar point of view about the future of Syria. However, on the key issue of the no-fly-zone, the two sides remain at odds. The coalition, it appears, is taking steps to side-step the Turkish veto on the use of its bases and has begun to move more aircraft to bases in Jordan and Kuwait, as well as inside Iraq to support the anti-ISIL mission.

If Ankara agrees to the “air defense zone” it would represent a serious concession on the part of the AKP. Moreover, Ankara remains wedded to its own Syria policy and it is unlikely that the AKP would give up its most important bargaining chip — the usage of air bases in Turkey — for a plan that the AKP does not support. This suggests continued disagreement about the no fly zone in the near future.

Aaron Stein is an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute. He blogs at Turkey Wonk and Arms Control Wonk. Follow him on Twitter @aaronstein1.

Turkey — History and Culture

One of the most intriguing destinations on the planet, Turkish history goes back a long way because of the country’s unique Eurasian position on the map. As a result, There are Ottoman, Roman, and ancient sites here, not to mention a host of modern marvels to keep things interesting.


Turkey has a settled history that dates back more than 4,000 years, making it one of the longest surviving civilizations in the world. However, modern Turkey really began after the fall of the Ottoman Empire post-WWI. The Ottomans took control of the Anatolian Peninsula during the 15th century, and their authority over the region lasted until the empire’s decline in the 19th and 20th century.

The Ottoman Empire fought on the side of the Central Powers during WWI, and although they were eventually defeated, millions of people from minority populations such as the Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians were displaced from their homes and killed, which is still denied by the Turkish government today. After the war, the Allied Powers occupied the area, prompting the Turkish Nationalist Movement in 1918.

The War of Independence saw the Turkish Nationalist Movement finally succeed in expelling foreign authorities in 1922, leading to the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, who moved the capital from Istanbul to Ankara. The War of Independence Museum (Karsiyaka Mh. Cumhuriyet Cd 14, Ankara) has plenty of historical information about this event. Mustafa Kemal was given the title “Ataturk,” which means Father of the Turks, for his efforts to pull Turkey away from its long and deep-rooted Ottoman influences. In WWII, Turkey remained relatively neutral until joining forces with the Allies in 1945.

The spread of Communism throughout Eastern Europe led to communist-backed violence in countries like Turkey and Greece after the war. Following the enunciation of the Truman Doctrine in 1947, Turkey was provided with massive economic and military assistance from the United States. It became a member of the United Nations in 1945, and a NATO member in 1952. Mustafa Kemal died prior to the war, so multi-party governments began after 1945, leading to political instability and military coups in the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s. The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) created conflict with the representing government in the 1980’s, which resulted in civil instability that lasted until just a decade ago.

Contemporary Turkey finally began to show signs of stable leadership, largely thanks to the Justice and Development Party (AKP). They have been in power since 2002, promoting increasing economic development in recent years. Tourism plays an important role in modern Turkey, which has shown an annual growth rate of nine percent per year. Roman sites, like the Aspendos Theater (Aspendos, Serik, Antalya Province), and Ottoman structures, such as the Blue Mosque (Torun Sokak 19, Istanbul) are still some of the busiest attractions in Turkey.


Modern Turkey’s cultural diversity is just as fascinating as the ancient landmarks that dot the country’s landscape. A host of foreign influences have created a dynamic blend of east and west, reflecting their unique position on both the Asian and European continents. The early Roman times, Ottoman Empirical control and steady 20th century immigration from the Balkans, Greece and other European destinations have all helped shape modern Turkey.

There are two things that seem to unite all Turkish citizens. The first is faith, and the second is football. A majority of locals are Muslims, but variations and levels of Islam are found across the region. Football is almost as important when it comes to local culture. Turkish people follow the sport closely, and the country even boasts a very competitive professional league.

Turkey’s Presence in Northern Syria: A Caring Brother Acting in its Own Self-interest

Mohammed Abdullatif Published on December 19, 2018

Turkish-backed Syrian fighters train in a camp in the Aleppo countryside, northern Syria, on December 16, 2018. Photo AFP

Where does the rebuilding of daily life end and the ‘turkification’ of Syrian society begin? That seems to be the central question when assessing what the Turkish state is doing in the areas of northern Syria under its control. To make that more concrete with an example: nobody can object to the re-opening of a hospital in the town of Jarablus, but what are the portraits of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan doing on the walls?

It is not only the Turkish military and its armed affiliates that have become dominant in several areas of northern Syria, Turkish companies and the Turkish state have also established a strong presence. This was kicked off by the Turkish army’s first cross-border operation in the summer of 2016, when the border town of Jarablus was captured from Islamic State (IS). Turkey has since expanded its influence westwards. Its last conquest early in 2018 was Afrin in the northwestern corner of Syria, which has been occupied by Turkey and its proxies ever since.

Turkey has so far remained on the western side of the Euphrates river. The eastern side is ruled by the Kurdish YPG and its political arm the PYD, supported by the United States (US) in its ongoing efforts to neutralize IS. Recently, however, Erdogan has stepped up his rhetoric, announcing an operation east of the river “within days”. Due to the US presence east of the Euphrates, a large-scale operation is not possible, as journalist Amberin Zaman explains. However, smaller cross-border actions are likely, maybe in towns where the US army is not present like Tal-Abyad and Ras al-Ayn. This makes the question of whether Turkey is ‘turkifying’ the border regions and if so, to what extent, even more pressing.

Internet and Post Offices

Turkish construction companies have started to rebuild destroyed houses and other buildings, mobile internet providers have set up antennas to provide their services and teachers from Turkey have taken jobs in Syrian schools. In some towns, clocks have even been set to Turkish time, the residents now living an hour behind their fellow Syrians.

Turkey has not been secretive about its activities in the areas under its control. It has taken groups of international journalists across the border to show off its efforts to rebuild destroyed houses and neighbourhoods, to re-open schools and hospitals and to start services with Turkish brands, like internet and post offices. One report, by France24, showed a school in Syria that has been dedicated to the victims of the failed coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016. Turkish newspapers, especially those with English-language websites, are also contributing to the picture that Erdogan wants to paint of Turkey’s presence on Syrian soil: that of a caring older brother, tirelessly and altruistically helping people get back on their feet.

Sources: Wikipedia, CSS Analyses in Security Policy, liveuaemap.com, TRT World. @Fanack.com

While few would argue against the importance of children being able to go back to school, of hospitals functioning and of the police being trained, the question arises of how altruistic Turkey really is. What is its interest in the region?

This interest is first and foremost military. There is another military power in Syria, and it is no coincidence that this is Turkey’s archenemy: the PYD and its military wing the YPG and YPJ (women’s units). They share an ideology and a leader with the PKK, the armed Kurdish movement that has been at war with the Turkish state since 1984. Turkey finds the presence of ‘Öcalan fighters’ along its border unacceptable. It also claims the presence of IS in the border region was problematic, although this is doubtful. When Turkey first crossed the Syrian border in the summer of 2016, IS was already weakening. A weakened IS, Turkey knew, could no longer control the further expansion of the PYD and the YPG/J. Turkey thus took over that task.

This was just a tactical move. By also investing in the region administratively and commercially, Turkey is serving a longer-term strategic goal: to enhance the country’s influence in the region and in Syria specifically, as a force working against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom Turkey has wanted to see removed from power since the beginning of the uprisings in 2011. This expansionist desire is inspired by the vast territories controlled by what was then the Ottoman Empire, the grandeur of which Erdogan is keen to revive. Commercial and cultural dependency on Turkey helps to further that goal.

Last but not least, Turkey hopes that by helping life return to normal in at least some parts of the war-torn country, some of the more than 3 million Syrian refugees can be convinced to return home. A town like Jarablus, which has working schools, hospitals, internet and electricity, does indeed have appeal, if the official numbers are correct: the population has grown from 5,000 residents under IS to at least 140,000 today, a number that includes both returnees from Turkey and internally displaced Syrians.

Former Colonizer

Meanwhile, a lot remains unclear about the extent of Turkey’s efforts to recreate parts of north Syria in its own image.

Education offers an interesting example. Turkey has supplied school books and teachers who speak Arabic. The fact that children now also learn Turkish instead of French, as used to be the case in all Syrian schools, could also be considered logical, as this article by France24 makes clear. Isn’t it more useful to know the language of the current influential northern neighbour than that of the former colonizer? Yet this begs other questions. What about local languages in the curriculum, like Aramaic and Kurdish? And how much influence did the Turkish state have on the content of the school books it supplied? In other words, what are children under Turkish rule in Syria learning?

Turkey’s actions show an interesting contradiction in its Syria policies. After all, ever since the beginning of the Syrian war and especially since the Kurds started building their autonomous regions in the north of Syria, Turkey has warned against the disintegration of its southern neighbour. Syrian unity was to be respected at all times. Turkey’s fear of self-rule for the Kurds in a post-war Syria, which could further embolden the Kurdish movement at home, runs deep, since it undermines the strength of the state. Apparently, ‘turkifying’ parts of Syria is not considered to be a nail in Syria’s coffin.

Watch the video: Syrian Army Tribute. Offensive Operations supported by Russia 2015 (July 2022).


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  2. Beacan

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  3. Rangley

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  5. Mac An T-Saoir

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