Open letter on Syrian Refugees to Mr. Tsipras

Dear Mr. Tsipras,

With fast internet and global coverage of every thinkable event, we become overwhelmed with instant information from various sources about anything and everything as it happens. Opinions and facts are mixed so fast that we have no opportunity to understand what is true and what isn’t.

It is therefor that I respectfully request you to answer the following questions related to the refugee crisis Greece is dealing with daily:

  1. How many refugees have arrived in Greece during 2015?
  2. How many of those refugees are Syrian citizens?
  3. Are you able to establish how many Syrian refugees have arrived in Greece through Turkey directly?
  4. Are you able to establish how many Syrian refugees have arrived in Greece through other countries but have passed through Turkey during their journey?
  5. How many of the refugees who arrived in Greece have been transferred to other EU members?
  6. Which financial aid has Greece received from other EU members?
  7. Which material aid has Greece received from other EU members?
  8. Which organizational support has Greece received from other EU members?
  9. Which recommendations do you have for the other EU members in dealing with the refugee crisis?

With kind regards,

JD

SU-24 attack by Turkey – all guts and no glory!

Until this week, the exchanges between Turkey and Russia were verbal. Rhetoric back and forth, accusations to the other and emphases on the own goals and results. In the view of Turkey, an opponent of the Syrian Government and supporter of rebel forces, Russia was actively attacking the rebel forces which Turkey supports and not attacking ISIS at all. Russia, a strong support of the Syrian Government, accused Turkey of supporting the rebel forces and allowing supplies and financing of ISIS through Turkey.

The majority of these rhetoric cannonades seemed to be focused more on the own local audience than on shirtfronting the other side in a serious manner. Turkey upped the exchange of verbal attacks when it claimed that Russian fighter jets were penetrating its airspace  and summoned the Russian Aide over these incidents. Not surprisingly at all, Russian denounced these claims except for one instance in which Russia stated this occurred by mistake. Russia took the verbal battles to the next level by stating that the ISIS oil production and trade it started to attack was mainly distributed through Turkey, which Turkey of course denied in all thinkable ways.

All rhetorical statements for political purposes between 2 parties that obviously support other sides in the same armed conflict. Nothing out of the ordinary, popcorn moments at most. Until Turkey decided to attack a Russian SU-24… Continue reading

Opinion: who fights who in Iraq and Syria and who doesn’t

On the ground in Syria, we see various rebellion groups fighting against Assad and among themselves. Besides the notorious ISIL/ISIS (IS), there are different groups which are aligned with the just as notorious Free Syrian Army (FSA) or Al Qaida (AQ) or both and in all cases there are also at least indications of alliance with IS in the battles against Syrian Armed Forces (SAF) in Syria. Assad gets support from Iran and Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon and various volunteers in the same manner as other combatant groups do. In the middle of this turmoil, Kurdish Armed Forces (KAF) have carved out an area of Syria in which they basically engage in battles against all but mainly against IS and SAF.

In Iraq, the KAF have long before the conflict in Syria started already carved out the Northern area which was at time even protected by a no-fly-zone and seriously contested by Iraqi Armed Forces (IAF) between the 2 Iraqi wars. In the middle of the vacuum created by those Iraqi wars and the withdrawal of the Western International Coalition (IC), IS was able to conquer large parts of Iraq and defeat IAF rapidly before their campaign was finally brought to an halt. Iraq becomes direct support from Iran in its struggle against IS and indirect support from remaining small units from IC.

In the air, the picture is entirely different. In Syria and Iraq, the International Coalition conducts daily missions and the local Air Forces only play a minor role in the combat operations. IC mainly operates from bases in Jordan and Iraq with support from naval vessels in the Mediterranean Sea. Besides ongoing negotiations with NAVO-partner Turkey to use its bases for operations in Syria and Iraq, Turkey itself has engaged in sorties in Northern Iraq which appear to focus mainly against Kurdish forces and/or PKK.

And since a few days, Russia has entered the equation in Syria and continuous to expand its operations Syria and is obviously preparing to do the same in Iraq. In Syria, Russia has opted for direct air support from bases in Syria and added naval launched cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea earlier this week. A similar or even wider combination can be expected for Iraq in case Russia would join the campaign there. With this new development and further expansions to be expected in the near future, it is interesting to take a closer look at the constellations so far in Syria and Iraq. Continue reading