But Ankara, we got a (huge) problem

by Pepe Escobar Originally published as What’s Erdogan’s Game in Syria and Turkey, December 7, 2015

The — predictable — reaction across the West over the Russian Defense Ministry’s very serious denunciation of Ankara embedded with ISIS/ISIL/Daesh still begs to be regarded as no less than astonishing.

The actual evidence is not even discussed by Western corporate media. It’s all dismissed as “Russia claims…” Yet not only Sultan Erdogan has been systematically unmasked as a serial liar; the accumulating evidence points to Ankara both as an indirect ally and shady sponsor of the fake “Caliphate.”

Whatever the Atlanticists can come up with to “excuse” the Erdogan system, at least the devastating PR debacle for the “democratic West” is now a fact of life all across the Global South.

At the same time an elaborate shadow play is in progress. NATO issues non-denial denials — after all it can never back off from its usual “Russian aggression” meme — while the Obama administration, predictably, wallows in doublethink; Turkey may not “support” ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, but Turkey must seal the border with Syria anyway.

Sultan of Divide and Rule

Since Gezi Park it’s clear the AKP model for Turkey has derailed into a Sultanate dictatorship with a slight electoral veneer. Divide and Rule is the norm.

Sultan Erdogan’s bete noire, internally, is the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).  Erdogan wants Kurds — a substantial 20% of the overall population — to choose between the AKP’s Islamist take on Turkish nationalism and the HDP’s Kurdish nationalism with a leftist feel.  He’s playing Kurds against Turks no holds barred.

South of the border, Erdogan actively supports Salafi “moderate rebels,” especially his fifth column Turkmen, heavily infiltrated by Turkish fascists of the Grey Wolves kind, in northwest Syria.  But Ankara is clever enough not to — directly — support ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.  Turkmen have struck de facto alliances with Jabhat al-Nusra, a.k.a. al-Qaeda in Syria. NATO covers Erdogan’s back.

Russia’s entrance with — literally — a bang in the Syrian war theatre blew up Erdogan strategys to smithereens. Couple that with the Obama administration’s penchant to support Kurds across “Syraq.”

The only thing Erdogan wants from NATO is a “safe zone” — an euphemism for a no-fly zone that Ankara will use to prevent YPG Syrian Kurds from unifying their three cantons along the Turkish-Syrian border. For Erdogan, the prospect of Kurds preventing Turks from providing logistical bases and weapons to the whole Jabhat al-Nusra galaxy, and of course ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, is anathema.

So Erdogan had been using the Turkmen against the YPG. Russia went for the jugular. And the Sultan, predictably, went bonkers.

Russia’s strategy — coordinated with the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) — will only intensify.  The priority is to completely rout Turkmen and al-Nusra all across the Bayirbucak region.  Two objectives are crucial. 1) to secure Latakia and thus Russia’s Hmeymim air base, and 2) to get rid of the Chechens, Uzbeks and Uyghurs infiltrated among the Turkmen (crucial for Moscow, aware of the “900 km from Aleppo to Grozny” syndrome, and also for China.)

As for the notion that Erdogan will now abandon his Turkmen strategy and start fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, that’s a myth.  Erdogan will never accept the American support for the YPG.  The thing is there’s not much he can do about it.

Sultan Changes the Subject

The downing of the Su-24 was a crude attempt by Erdogan to force NATO to choose his Turkmen/al-Nusra/anti-Kurd strategy instead of any possible coordination with Russia to fight ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.

Talk about a monumental blowback; Erdogan handed Moscow on a plate the deployment of the S-400s to Hmeymim.  Short-term, this means any Turkish F-16 entertaining funny ideas over Syrian skies will be summarily shot down.  Mid-term, this means the “Assad must go” obsession is now six feet under.  But the cherry in the cake is long-term; Russia has solidified a permanent strategic stake in the eastern Mediterranean.

Across the battlefield, the most important development is that Russia, and not Iran, has taken over tactics, planning operations and also re-equipping the SAA with everything from 152-millimeter MTSA-B guns to the absolutely devastating TOS-1A Solnitsa rocket launcher, able to fire 30 220-mm thermobaric (incendiary) rockets in a single salvo.

Freshly arrived Russian Marines are also about to advise the SAA counter-offensive against Daesh in Tadmur, western Palmyra.

The Russian tactic is essentially to blow everything up, big time.  Of course this implies a serious risk of civilian casualties — something that can only be alleviated by good ground intel, provided by the SAA.  It’s the SAA that is actually capturing those areas on the ground.

With his back against the wall in Syria, Erdogan — what else — changed the subject and made a play in Iraq, via the now famous “incursion” of alleged 150 Turkish troops along with 20-25 tanks.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu swears Ankara had been “invited” in by the Nineveh provincial government, with Baghdad’s approval (a bald-faced lie).  A spokesman for the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq said everything is legit.

Turkish daily Hurriyet spun it as Ankara holding a permanent military base in Bashiqa, near Mosul, to train Peshmerga forces, a deal signed between KRG President Massoud Barzani and Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu earlier last month.

But Ankara, we got a (huge) problem.  Mosul and Bashiqa are not even part of the KRG.

So this has nothing to do with training Peshmerga — as much as Erdogan and the AKP heavily hedge their Kurd hatred: the KRG racket and the Peshmerga are “good Kurds,” while the PYD/YPG and the PKK are “bad Kurds.”

When in doubt, follow the oil.  The Barzani Mob is selling oil that belongs to Baghdad to Turkey — illegally.  They literally own the oil racket in the KRG; and they make a killing, thanks to cozy relations with “partner.”

It has been widely proved that Erdogan’s son-in-law cum Energy Minister Berat Albayrak holds the exclusive rights to move KRG oil through Turkey. Following evidence collected by the Russian Defense Ministry, Daesh stolen oil may well be mixed with KRG oil along the way.  And a key beneficiary of the whole scheme is Erdogan’s son Bilal, a.k.a. Mini Me, through his BMZ shipping company which delivers the oil mostly to Israel. Mini Me is now self-exiled in Bologna, Italy, where he manages untraceable amounts of cash safely ensconced in Swiss bank accounts.

Obviously none of this is seriously examined in Atlanticist circles, thus providing Erdogan with some solace; if the stolen Syrian oil racket may be moribund, the Iraqi side of the op seems to be untouched.

So what we have now in effect is Turkey “violating” the borders of Iraq (remember those famous “17 seconds”?).   Baghdad is actually part of the “4+1” coalition (Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, plus Hezbollah).  Turkey knows it.  The “incursion” is yet one more — serious — provocation.   If Russia — and Iran — decide that’s one too many, Erdogan’s oil racket protecting tanks better get ready to meet their maker.


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Dec 10, 2015 11:45 AM

Reblogged this on leruscino.

Dec 9, 2015 12:01 AM

Reblogged this on Siem Reap Mirror.

Dec 8, 2015 6:45 PM

Pepe Escobar makes a serious mistake by assuming that it was Erdogan who decided to ambush the Russian bomber and not, as Russia has clearly said, a provocation planned by NATO. I think that The Saker’s analysis is broader and more realistic, seeing it as a warning from NATO that the alliance is willing to go to war with Russia in order to win its war against Syria.
It is also highly probable that Hollande staged the attacks in Paris at the behest of NATO: the immediate response of France, England and Germany encircling and invading Syria can only be the pre-planned ‘response’ to a pre-planned ‘terrorist attack’.

Dec 9, 2015 12:25 AM
Reply to  Admin

I think you are wrong and Escobar is right, at least from the perspective that Erdogan and his lackeys are the principal drivers who are attempting to restore the former Ottoman Empire, something they pledged to achieve by 2023 in public speeches around 18 months ago. The Turkish elite is out to tear-up Sykes-Picot permanently.
If they are to be successful, they will have to incorporate all of Syria and Iraq within their freshly gained territories.
Intriguingly, it also could include Jordan and all of historic Palestine. I wonder what the zionists make of that?

Dec 9, 2015 3:33 PM
Reply to  John

You need to address the points made, and not merely express an opinion. I am reiterating what Russia believes. For example:
‘The Russian Su-24 jet was shot down way too quickly to believe Turkey did not have prior authorization to do so from NATO and ultimately the US, annoyed by the effectiveness of Moscow’s campaign in Syria, former MI5 officer Annie Machon told RT’

Dec 9, 2015 4:08 PM
Reply to  anonymous

What I am saying is that I do not believe Turkey considered NATO when deciding to shoot down the Russian bomber.
Erdogan had it shot down because it was interfering with his Turkmen bandits who are engaged in establishing a so-called buffer zone, preparatory to re-establishing Syria as part of a reconstituted Ottoman Empire.
Additionally, Russian actions were interfering with his family interests, in particular the smuggling of looted oil and artefacts by his son and son-in-law.
In Erdogan’s case, the personal really is political.

Dec 9, 2015 4:28 PM
Reply to  John

The Russians have pointed out in public that the only ones who had the flight plans of their jets were the Americans, and that they must have passed them on to Turkey. A lot more than Erdogan’s greed motivated the downing of Su-24.

Dec 9, 2015 4:49 PM
Reply to  Vaska

That is a slightly different matter. I imagine – as part of NATO arrangements – that some of the intelligence obtained by the US is shared with the NATO partners to some extent. Turkey presumably was aware of the flight plans in a general way and used that information to plan the downing of the Russian bomber but – I contend – without informing the US or any of their NATO allies. I can’t honestly say I know this for a fact but I am guessing that Erdogan holds principal and primary responsibility for the order to down the Russian aircraft. Maybe, too, he hoped he would drag all the other NATO members into his engineered conflict with Russia but the other NATO members very sensibly avoided getting into conflict with Russia – so Erdogan’s plan failed. That is what I think happened, though I cannot produce irrefutable evidence to… Read more »

Dec 9, 2015 5:08 PM
Reply to  John

That’s not compatible with what Moscow has revealed; Putin was absolutely clear during his press conference with Hollande last week that no other NATO member was given the flight plans except the US. Such military contact is carried out under specified conditions, one of them being that the information is not shared with a third party. Somebody in either the Pentagon or the State Department or even the White House itself expressly gave the necessary information to the Turkish military.

Dec 9, 2015 5:34 PM
Reply to  Vaska

Either what you say or just plain old-fashioned eyeballing by the Turks of the movements of the Russian aircraft.
I believe the Russians are now saying the aircraft black box will show they never entered Turkish air space.
In that case, it seems the Turks were out to provoke an incident regardless to create NATO-Russian conflict.
In which latter case, they – and Erdogan – failed in their intent.
Hopefully, the NATO countries now know how unreliable Erdogan and the Turks are……..

Dec 9, 2015 5:48 PM
Reply to  John

You insist that the tail (Turkey) wags the dog (NATO). As several analysts have pointed out, Turkey playing the role of the ungovernable junior partner (like Israel) gives the ‘responsible’ NATO imperialists deniability. They enable Turkey to commit repeated acts of war against Syria and now Russia, while serving as a rear base for NATO’s jihadists, while allowing NATO to deny responsibility. Turkey isn’t trying to drag NATO into war: NATO itching for a repeat of its Libya operation, and Turkey playing the victim gives NATO a thin legal justification for war in Syria. ‘The Russian minister said there was a question of American involvement in the downing of the Russian plane. According to his sources, the US demands all members of the anti-IS coalition led by Washington, who use US-made military aircraft, coordinate all deployments with the US military.’ ‘ “I wonder if this demand of the Americans covers…… Read more »

Dec 10, 2015 11:57 AM
Reply to  Admin

The Russian SU bomber shoot down was managed & coordinated by Washington & is technically impossible for it to have happened any other way.

I agree 100% Paris was an inside job – listen to the accounts of Bataclan survivors that the West MSM won’t translate to English & are getting hard to find now. The lights came on briefly in the Bataclan & the attackers were seen to be White with perfect native French – the so-called perpetrators were all killed & in the confusion its hard to say who was who. The girl who switched on the lights was killed immediately & the lights switched off fast WHY THE NEED TO GET THE LIGHTS OFF WHEN KILLING PEOPLE ?

THINK – Charlie Hebdo attackers they were caught & surrounded with no hostages so no need to kill them !

Dec 8, 2015 5:18 PM

Reblogged this on wgrovedotnet.

Dec 8, 2015 5:15 PM

Another good post regarding Erdogan’s false claim that Mosul and the Bashiqa district was ever part of the agreement in the first place. Erdogan is playing with fire, hoping that Russia will blow his tanks and soldiers to smithereens (he is unlikely to give a toss at the loss of a thousand men) so that the US and Cameron of the UK can finally have the excuse they need to attack Russia without any thought for the Syrian lives lost. Putin and Assad might be counting the dead but the other players won’t give a damn. Veterans Today made a claim that Cameron ordered the SAA attack in Deir Azzur, if this is true there should be hell to pay back home. The only ones likely to play hell will be the socialist minority within the Labour Party (the Blairite Right voted FOR bombing in Syria). Cameron called all people… Read more »