by MIKE WHITNEY, COUNTERPUNCH
On Tuesday, Turkey shot down a Russian warplane that was carrying out military operations against jihadi groups in Northern Syria. The downing of the Su-24 fighter jet is part of a broader plan by the administration of Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan to topple the secular government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad and to establish “safe zones” on the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border. Erdogan needs the safe zones to provide a sanctuary for the militant extremists who are the footsoldiers in his war against Syria. The downing of the Russian fighter is a desperate attempt by Erdogan to incite a reaction from Russia that will draw either NATO or the United States deeper into a conflict which has dragged on for 4 and a half years and killed 250,000 people.
Unlike the Obama administration, that has been willing to arm and train jihadi groups to conduct its proxy-war against Assad in Syria, Erdogan is a true believer, a committed Islamist who has done everything in his power to roll back democracy in Turkey, to establish one-man rule, to destroy the independent judiciary, to silence the free press, and to establish a conservative and intolerant Islamic state. Erdogan is what many would call a “Koolaid drinker”, a man who believes that his support for disparate and vicious terrorist groups that have decimated Syria, laid its civilian infrastructure to waste, and displaced more than half the population is “God’s work”. Make no mistake, the Turkish government is the modern-day Caliphate. The fact that its government officials dress in nicely-tailored suits rather than black pajamas, is merely a way to divert attention from their extreme fanaticism and their covert support for liver-eating fundamentalist savages.
In the seven weeks since Russia began military operations in Syria, nearly all of the gains of the US-Turkey-Saudi-Qatar jihadi coalition have been wiped out. The decisive battle took place more than a week ago at Kuweris airbase east of Aleppo. This was the tipping point for the war although the imminent fall of Aleppo is bound to attract more notoriety. It’s clear now that the Russian-led coalition is winning the war, has foiled US attempt to remove Assad, and that the bulk of the foreign mercenaries will either be killed or captured. The Obama administration realizes that the current phase of the war is hopeless and has started to implement a fallback plan to control territory in E Syria that is critical for future pipeline corridors. In contrast, the Turkish government is completely unwilling to accept the fact that its plan has failed which is why it has embarked on this risky strategy to draw either NATO or Washington deeper into the fray. Check this out from a Tuesday battlefield report from South Front:
“The Syrian forces backed up by the Russian warplanes, pushed back the militant groups from nearly 200 kilometers of land in the coastal province of Lattakia, military sources said Monday. On Sunday, the Syrian army and popular forces purged the terrorists and advanced to areas near the Turkish borders. The ground reports argue that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) took control of Zahia heights, 2km from the joint borders with Turkey.”
Can you see what’s going on? The Russian-led coalition is closing in on the Syria-Turkish border which will put an end to Erdogan’s dream of toppling Assad or continuing to fuel the war with terrorists that are provided a safe haven on Syrian soil. This is why the Su-24 fighter was shot down on Tuesday. It is a desperate attempt to salvage the failed strategy of toppling a secular government and replacing it with friendly Islamic extremists who hew to Erdogan’s twisted worldview.
By the way, readers should take a minute and review the video of the “moderate” headchoppers that the US supports in Syria paying special attention to their moderate treatment of prisoners. The Russian pilot was captured by these “freedom fighters”, shot twice in the chest and then his clothes were ripped off so he could be moderately photographed. These are the fine fellows that Uncle Sam would like to see in Damascus heading the government because, as we all know, “Assad has lost legitimacy.” (See here.)
For the last three days, I have been following a fast-evolving plan by the Turkish Terrorist Government (TTG) to create a false flag operation that would draw either the US or NATO deeper into the war in Syria reversing Obama’s recent commitment NOT to deploy ground troops to the warzone. On Saturday, Turkish newspapers reported that 1,500 Syrian Turkmen had fled to the Turkish border for safety. The reasons that were given were that the Russian warplanes were bombing areas where ISIS was not located. True, ISIS is not located in these Turkmen villages by the border; rather the barbarians that you see in the video are located there. These men belong to the jihadi groups that that have been funded, armed and trained by Turkey and the US and who are fighting to topple Assad. Reasonable people who would like to see an end to terrorism, should feel supportive of Putin’s efforts to annihilate these monsters. Instead, the Turkish government has been trying to make the case that Russia is bombing innocent civilians. Now check out this story (from Monday) in Turkey’s leading newspaper Hurriyet:
“Turkey has called for a U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss attacks on Turkmens in neighboring Syria, according to Prime Ministry sources, with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu saying his government will “not hesitate” to take the required measures on Syrian soil to protect the Turkmen people…
Turkey is in discussions with the United States and Russia over the bombing of the villages and has sent a letter to Britain, the current holder of the U.N. Security Council’s presidency, asking for the subject to be taken up, sources from Davutoğlu’s office told Reuters on Nov. 23…
Speaking to reporters late on Nov. 22, Davutoğlu recalled that he was engaged in constant contact with both Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Chief Hakan Fidan over the weekend concerning alleged Russian air raids on Turkmen villages near the Syrian-Turkish border. Sources, meanwhile, told Reuters that Davutoğlu had consulted on the intelligence dimension of the issue with Akar and Fidan.
“Our security forces have been instructed to retaliate against any development that would threaten Turkey’s border security,” the prime minister said. “If there is an attack that would lead to an intense influx of refugees to Turkey, required measures would be taken both inside Syria and Turkey,” he added.
“Looking at background of these attacks, in a region where very clearly there is no element of Deash (ISIS), where there is no terrorist element, first Russian airplanes come and then with support from foreign fighters.
“We will also take the required measures diplomatically for the protection of our brothers and sisters in the place where they are located and for the protection of their human rights in the face of any threat,” he also stated.” (Turkey urges UN to act to protect Turkmens in Syria, Hurriyet)
So is the Turkish PM correct in saying the Russians are bombing the Turkmen civilians forcing them to flee from their homes. Not according to Turkmen leader Ali Türkmani. Here’s what he said:
“There is a perception operation that is being waged over the Turkmens. The regime will of course attempt to maintain its territorial integrity. As such, threats from al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army are being targeted [by Russian air strikes]. It’s not correct to say the Turkmens are being targeted.”
So civilians are not being targeted, but the Turkish government is supplying weapons and ammo to the terrorists as this article in the Turkish Daily Zaman proves:
“Several trucks bound for Syria were stopped at the beginning of last year by Turkish gendarmerie forces upon instructions by a prosecutor. It turned out they contained weapons.
The AK Party government claimed for months that the trucks only included humanitarian aid, but a report published by the Cumhuriyet daily in May last year revealed that the trucks contained weapons.
According to the daily’s report, a truck, which is thought to be one of many, contained 1,000 artillery shells, 50,000 machine gun rounds, 30,000 heavy machine gun rounds and 1,000 mortar shells.
The government was accused of sending the weapons to radical Islamist groups in Syria, but Davutoğlu swore in June that the trucks were bound for Turkmens. In contrast, Turkmens had earlier denied receiving any weapons from Turkey.” (Turkey calls on UN Security Council to convene for Turkmens in Syria, Today’s Zaman)
So what is the game-plan here? What is Turkey really up to?
Well, first of all, they are trying to set up a safe zone on sovereign Syrian territory so they can continue to spread terror across Syria. Check out this clip from the Daily Sabah and you’ll see how these Turkmen radicals who are allies of Ankara are seizing villages to create the safe zone:
“Syrian opposition groups supported by Turkish and US warplanes took control of two Turkmen towns in Northern Syria early Saturday, Anadolu Agency reported….The operation was supported by six Turkish F-16s, four US F-15s and an AC-130 joined the offensive along with three drones.
Security sources added that this success in the fight against DAESH that can be defined as the first step for the creation of a DAESH-free zone in Northern Syria….
Speaking about Turkey’s stance on the recent developments in Northern Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a live broadcast on Wednesday that declaring no-fly and safe zones is crucial to resolve the Syrian Crisis….Erdoğan further stated that Turkey will continue to carry out anti-terror operations until concrete results are achieved and peace is restored.” (First step for the safe zone in N. Syria: opposition groups take two Turkmen towns from DAESH, Daily Sabah)
Whether you call it an ISIS-free zone or not is irrelevant. The fact is, the Turkish government (with US air support) is trying to annex Syrian territory for its own nefarious purposes. That much is clear.
The downing of the Russian Su-24 fighter fits perfectly with the way in which the Turkish government has been ratcheting up tensions on the border, using its jihadi allies to seize Syrian territory, and trying to incite a violent reaction that will force greater NATO or US involvement. I seriously doubt that Putin is gullible enough to take the bait and overreact to this obvious and pathetic provocation in Ankara. He will exact his pound of flesh at some other time, a time of his own choosing.
MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.