Why Turkey Stabbed Russia in the Back
By: Pepe Escobar
Russia’s and Turkey’s objectives in fighting the Islamic State group are diametrically opposed.
It’s absolutely impossible to understand why the Turkish government would engage in the suicidal strategy of downing a Russian Su-24 over Syrian territory – technically a NATO declaration of war on Russia – without putting in context the Turkish power play in northern Syria.
President Vladmir Putin said the downing of the Russian fighter jet was a “stab in the back.” So let’s see how facts on the ground allowed it to happen.
Ankara uses, finances, and weaponizes a basket case of extremist outfits across northern Syria, and needs by all means to keep supply line corridors from southern Turkey open for them; after all they need to conquer Aleppo, which would open the way for Ankara’s Holy Grail: regime change in Damascus.
At the same time Ankara is terrified of the YPG – the Syrian Kurd People’s Protection Units – a sister organization of the leftist PKK. These must be contained at all costs.
So the Islamic State group – against which the United Nations has declared war – is a mere detail in the overall Ankara strategy, which is essentially to fight, contain or even bomb Kurds; support all manner of Takfiris and Salafi-jihadis, including the Islamic State group; and get regime change in Damascus.
Unsurprisingly, the YPG Syrian Kurds are vastly demonized in Turkey, accused of at least trying to ethnic cleanse Arab and Turkmen villages in northern Syria. Yet, what the Syrian Kurds are attempting – and to Ankara’s alarm, somewhat supported by the U.S. – is to link what are for the moment three patches of Kurdish land in northern Syria.
A look at an imperfect Turkish map at least reveals how two of these patches of land (in yellow) are already linked, to the northeast. To accomplish that, the Syrian Kurds, helped by the PKK, defeated The Islamic State group in Kobani and environs. To get to the third patch of land, they need to get to Afryn. Yet on the way (in blue) there is a collection of Turkmen villages north of Aleppo.
The strategic importance of these Turkmen lands cannot be emphasized enough. It’s exactly in this area, reaching as much as 35 km inland, that Ankara wants to install its so-called “safe zone,” which will be in fact a no-fly zone, in Syrian territory, ostensibly to house Syrian refugees, and with everything paid by the EU, which has already unblocked 3 billion euros, starting Jan. 1, via the European Commission (EC).
The now insurmountable obstacle for Turkey to get its no-fly zone is, predictably, Russia.
Using the Turkmen
Research Paper: ISIS-Turkey List
IN THE CITY OF NEW YORKINSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF HUMAN RIGHTSResearch Paper: ISIS-Turkey Links
By David L. Phillips
Is Turkey collaborating with the Islamic State (ISIS)? Allegations range from military cooperation and weapons transfers to logistical support, financial assistance, and the provision of medical services. It is also alleged that Turkey turned a blind eye to ISIS attacks against Kobani.President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu strongly deny complicity with ISIS. Erdogan visited the Council on Foreign Relations on September 22, 2014. He criticized “smear campaigns [and] attempts to distort perception about us.” Erdogan decried, “A systematic attack on Turkey’s international reputation, “complaining that “Turkey has been subject to very unjust and ill-intentioned news items from media organizations.” Erdogan posited: “My request from our friends in the United States is to make your assessment about Turkey by basing your information on objective sources.”
Columbia University’s Program on Peace-building and Rights assigned a team of researchers in the United States, Europe, and Turkey to examine Turkish and international media, assessing the credibility of allegations. This report draws on a variety of international sources — The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, BBC, Sky News, as well as Turkish sources, CNN Turk, Hurriyet Daily News, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, and Radikal among others.
AllegationsTurkey Provides Military Equipment to ISIS• An ISIS commander told The Washington Post on August 12, 2014: “Most of the fighters who joined us in the beginning of the war came via Turkey, and so did our equipment and supplies.”
• Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), produced a statement from the Adana Office of the Prosecutor on October 14, 2014 maintaining that Turkey supplied weapons to terror groups. He also produced interview transcripts from truck drivers who delivered weapons to the groups. According to Kiliçdaroglu, the Turkish government claims the trucks were for humanitarian aid to the Turkmen, but the Turkmen said no humanitarian aid was delivered.
• According to CHP Vice President Bulent Tezcan, three trucks were stopped in Adana for inspection on January 19, 2014. The trucks were loaded with weapons in Esenboga Airport in Ankara. The drivers drove the trucks to the border, where a MIT agent was supposed to take over and drive the trucks to Syria to deliver materials to ISIS and groups in Syria. This happened many times. When the trucks were stopped, MIT agents tried to keep the inspectors from looking inside the crates. The inspectors found rockets, arms, and ammunitions.
• Cumhuriyet reports that Fuat Avni, a preeminent Twitter user who reported on the December 17th corruption probe, that audio tapes confirm that Turkey provided financial and military aid to terrorist groups associated with Al Qaeda on October 12, 2014. On the tapes, Erdogan pressured the Turkish Armed Forces to go to war with Syria. Erdogan demanded that Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MIT), come up with a justification for attacking Syria.
• Hakan Fidan told Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Yasar Guler, a senior defense official, and Feridun Sinirlioglu, a senior foreign affairs official: “If need be, I’ll send 4 men into Syria. I’ll formulate a reason to go to war by shooting 8 rockets into Turkey; I’ll have them attack the Tomb of Suleiman Shah.”
• Documents surfaced on September 19th, 2014 showing that the Saudi Emir Bender Bin Sultan financed the transportation of arms to ISIS through Turkey. A flight leaving Germany dropped off arms in the Etimesgut airport in Turkey, which was then split into three containers, two of which were given to ISIS and one to Gaza.
Turkey Provided Transport and Logistical Assistance to ISIS Fighters• According to Radikal on June 13, 2014, Interior Minister Muammar Guler signed a directive: “According to our regional gains, we will help al-Nusra militants against the branch of PKK terrorist organization, the PYD, within our borders…Hatay is a strategic location for the mujahideen crossing from within our borders to Syria. Logistical support for Islamist groups will be increased, and their training, hospital care, and safe passage will mostly take place in Hatay…MIT and the Religious Affairs Directorate will coordinate the placement of fighters in public accommodations.”
• The Daily Mail reported on August 25, 2014 that many foreign militants joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq after traveling through Turkey, but Turkey did not try to stop them. This article describes how foreign militants, especially from the UK, go to Syria and Iraq through the Turkish border. They call the border the “Gateway to Jihad.” Turkish army soldiers either turn a blind eye and let them pass, or the jihadists pay the border guards as little as $10 to facilitate their crossing.
• Britain’s Sky News obtained documents showing that the Turkish government has stamped passports of foreign militants seeking to cross the Turkey border into Syria to join ISIS.
• The BBC interviewed villagers, who claim that buses travel at night, carrying jihadists to fight Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq, not the Syrian Armed Forces.
• A senior Egyptian official indicated on October 9, 2014 that Turkish intelligence is passing satellite imagery and other data to ISIS.
Turkey Provided Training to ISIS Fighters
The shooting down of the Russian Su-24 bomber was a planned attack and a trap set by the Turkish Air Force, Dr. Mark Galeotti, the Professor of Global Affairs at the New York University, told Radio Sputnik.
“What it in fact seems to be, as many are saying, it was more of an ambush than anything else,” Galeotti told Sputnik.
By downing the Russian plane, Turkey had two things in mind. First of all, Ankara wants to assert itself as a powerful regional actor, especially considering Russia’s active participation in Syria. The Turkish government thought that by shooting down its plane Turkey would make Russia take Ankara more seriously in the future.
Secondly, the Turkish government wanted to protect its allies, whom Russia’s currently bombing in Syria, Galeotti, an expert in Russo-Turkish relations, explained.
Turkey intends to protect ISIL, as it has direct financial interests involved in the delivery of oil extracted from ISIL-controlled territories. Various estimates place oil revenues generated by ISIL somewhere between $40 and $50 million a month. A day prior to the downing of the Su-24, Russian airstrikes destroyed over 1,000 semi-truck tankers carrying crude oil to ISIL refineries, a large oil storage facility and an oil refinery in Syria.
Syrian Turkmen commander who ‘killed’ Russian pilot turns out to be Turkish ultranationalist
Alparslan Celik, deputy commander of a Syrian Turkmen brigade turned out to be the son of a mayor of a Keban municipality in Turkey’s Elazig province.
He also turned out to be the member of The Grey Wolves ultranationalist group, members of which have carried out scores of political murders since 1970s.
Did Washington just tell Erdogan to ‘man up’?
Tough-talking Turkish President? No. More like somebody’s message boy.
When the news first broke on Tuesday that Turkish F-16s had downed a Russian Su-24 bomber near the Syrian border, the Erdogan government in Ankara immediately called for an emergency NATO summit.
Ankara rushed to explain that it was the party that had incurred an act of aggression from Russia. Erdogan was running scared because the facts were such that it was the Turks who had actually carried out an act of aggression against Russia, not the other way around.
And they knew it.
Suspiciously, Ankara did not contact Moscow about the incident, which would have seemed a normal thing to do in the aftermath of a serious incident in which a Russian aircrew was forced to eject and one of the pilots was subsequently killed.
Recall that Turkey claimed that it did not know the identity of the Russian warplane as it allegedly approached Turkish airspace. So if, as it turned out, the Turks shot down a Russian jet in a rapid encounter of uncertainty about its “national security”, then why didn’t Ankara make subsequent attempts to resolve the matter with the Russians as an urgent matter when the circumstances soon became clear? That would have been the expected behavior if the incident was simply an unfortunate, unforeseen confrontation.
Again, the inference is that Ankara knew full well that it was committing a sinister deed.
Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.
847 shotguns seized in Italy en route from Turkey to Belgium
The weapons were declared along with other cargoes destined for Germany and the Netherlands on a Dutch-registered truck driven by a Turkish citizen. Gun shipments from Turkey are nothing new in Trieste, but this time the shipment was missing a key document: authorization for transportation in the EU.
The shipment consisted of 847 pump-action Winchester shotguns: 781 SXP 12-51 and 66 SXP 12-47 models, La Stampa reports.
The Haddad I departed from the Turkish port of Iskenderun and was heading to the Libyan city of Misrata. After intelligence services informed the Greek coastal guards about the ship’s cargo of guns, the vessel was intercepted south of Crete by the Open Sea Coast Patrol.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he expected from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to simply apologise, but the latest ruled out such a move
President Vladimir Putin said that Russia had given prior information to the United States of the flight path of the Su-24 downed by the Turkish Air Force on the Syrian border. The US leads the anti-Daesh coalition, in which Turkey is member.
“The American side, which leads the coalition that Turkey belongs to, knew about the location and time of our planes’ flights, and we were hit exactly there and at that time,” Putin said at a joint press conference with French counterpart Francois Hollande in the Kremlin. ”Why did we give this information to the Americans if they did not pass it along to the rest of the coalition?”
Moreover, Putin dismissed as “rubbish” Turkey’s claim that it didn’t know the nationality of the plane when the Turkish Air Force hit it. “They (Russian military jets) have identification signs and these are well visible,” Putin said and added. “If it was an American aircraft, would they have struck an American?…What we hear instead is they have nothing to apologize for.”