by Eric Zuesse
This is the first of our twin articles offering different interpretations of the current political situation in Turkey and Syria. The second article, by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, can be found here.
Until the July 15th U.S.-backed (or so the Turkish government alleges) coup-attempt to overthrow Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan, Erdogan was trying to overthrow Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, whom the U.S. regime likewise wants to overthrow.
However, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin saved Erdogan’s Presidency, and probably Erdogan’s life, by contacting him hours prior to the pending coup and thus enabled him to plan and prepare so as to overcome the attempt, and crush the operation.
Putin wouldn’t have known ahead-of-time about the coup-plan unless Russian intelligence had provided to him intelligence that it was coming. This intelligence might have included information about whom the source of it was. If Putin had intelligence regarding that matter, then he presumably shared it with Erdogan at that time — prior to the coup.
Promptly on July 16th, Erdogan announced that the source of the coup was his long-time foe (but former political supporter) Fethullah Gulen, who in 1999 had relocated himself and the headquarters of his multibillion-dollar Islamic organization to Pennsylvania in the United States. Erdogan said that he would demand Gulen’s extradition to stand trial in Turkey. However, the U.S. State Department said it had not yet received a “formal extradition request.”
On August 4th, “Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said Ankara had submitted a second extradition request”, but the U.S. ‘Justice’ Department was “still trying to evaluate if the documents can be considered a formal extradition request.”
The ‘Justice’ Department is still trying, 16 days later, as of the present writing.
Meanwhile, on August 9th, Erdogan flew to Moscow to meet privately with Putin — the man who had saved his Presidency if not his life. Presumably, Erdogan wanted to see all of Russia’s intelligence on the matter. After that meeting, he may be presumed to have seen all of the intelligence on it, both from Turkish and from Russian intelligence agencies.
Erdogan continued his demand that the U.S. extradite Gulen. Evidently, after his having seen all of the intelligence from both Turkey and Russia, he remained convinced that Gulen was behind it.
Putin is determined to prevent what the American-Saudi-Qatari-Turkish alliance have been demanding on Syria: the ouster of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad prior to any election being held in Syria. The repeated demand by Putin has instead been that only the Syrian people themselves, in a free and fair internationally monitored election, can decide whether or when to terminate Assad’s present term of office, and that Russia will accept whatever the voters of Syria decide as to the identity of Syria’s President going forward.
The U.N. Secretary-General, Ban ki-Moon, has, on at least two occasions, publicly stated that he supports Putin’s position on this, and that there would be no legitimacy for a forced ouster of the current Syrian President.
On Saturday August 20th, the AP bannered “Turkey: Assad can be part of transition in Syria”, and reported that:
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Saturday his country is willing to accept a role for Syrian President Bashar Assad during a transitional period but insisted he has no place in Syria’s future…‘Could Syria carry Assad in the long-term? Certainly not….The United States knows and Russia knows that Assad does not appear to be someone who can bring (the people) together.”
Of course, Russia does not “know” that (and, in fact, more than 50% of Syrians even when polled by western firms, want Assad to continue being President of Syria, and more than 80% blame the U.S. for backing the jihadists), but Turkey’s statement that Russia does “know” it, will help the Turkish public (whom the Erdogan regime has indoctrinated to consider Assad evil) acclimate to thinking of Assad’s ally Russia as being actually a friend, no foe, of Turkey; and this will, in turn, assist Erdogan going forward, especially if he’s aiming to, for example, remove Turkey from the NATO alliance and align with Russian foreign policy.
What’s happening here is the setting of the terms for the next Presidential election in Syria. Washington and its allies (which used to include its fellow-NATO-member Turkey) demand that the Syrian ‘democratic revolution’ (or foreign invasion by fundamentalist-Sunni jihadists hired and armed by the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and UAE) succeed and establish a fundamentalist-Sunni leader for Syria, who will then, perhaps, hold elections, which, perhaps, will be ‘democratic’ instead of imposing Sunni Islamic law. But Assad, and Russia, demand that there be no such overthrow prior to the election; and, now, Turkey has stated that this would be acceptable to them. That’s a big change in Turkey’s international relations.
How seriously should one take Turkey’s continuing demand that “Certainly not” could the Syrian people re-elect Assad to be their President? One should take it with a grain of salt that would easily be washed away if Assad does win that election.
In other words: Turkey announced, on August 20th, that, at least on the Syrian issue, it’s no longer an ally of the U.S.
An earthquake has thus happened in international relations.