Erdogan

The Ongoing Collapse of Turkey’s Secular Democ­racy and… the Backstory to the Attempted Turkish Coup (part 2/3)

Off the keyboard of Allan Stromfeldt Christensen

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Published on From Filmers to Farmers on August 19th, 2016

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

 


Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (photo courtesy of rene de paula jr)

So where did I leave off in part 1? Oh yeah. Erdoğan and Putin are now BFF-FAW (Best Friends Forever For A While), Erdoğan’s Turkey has quite possibly been helping ISIS unload its oil, the United States / Europe / NATO has purportedly been turning a blind eye to it all, and Turkey is trying to avoid joining its western neighbour for as long as it can before embarking on its journey to the endarkenment. But before I continue from where I left off and address whether or not a local supply of fossil fuels from the north could be enough to sway Erdoğan “from the bad guys to the bad guys,” a little bit of Turkish history is in order. And fortunately, having introduced my Turkish confidant to the Turkish (falafel) joint I frequent, in return I was introduced by him to the work of Turkish writer Efe Aydal, whose writings went a long way in clearing things up for me.

As Aydal explained it in May of 2016, when the AKP first came into power “The American media was calling Erdoğan ‘second Atatürk.'” Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, in case you aren’t aware, is sometimes described as Turkey’s George Washington. In the 1920s he became the first president of the country, and upon putting through various political, economic and cultural reforms meant to transform Turkey’s religiously-oriented Ottoman caliphate into a secular, democratic, and modern nation-state, he also went out of his way to make sure that the military would not be answerable to the government. The purpose behind the latter move was to ensure that above all else the military would uphold its mandate of protecting Turkey’s new constitutional principles of secularism. This is why Turkey has had six coups/attempted coups since 1960, the military moving in when it believes that civilian governments are violating its secular principles (although it’s possible that outside interests played some roles in those coups).

On top of that, Atatürk had thousands of new schools built, primary education was made free, taxation on peasants was reduced, the use of Western attire was promoted, and women were given equal civil and political rights. And contrary to what I initially thought, none of this is to say that Atatürk was some kind of Western stooge. Unbeknownst to me, and as my Turkish confidant filled me in, the ANZAC holiday which many Australians and Kiwis celebrate every year was originally in reference to Australia’s and New Zealand’s failed invasion of Constantinople (in what is now Turkey) back in World War I – and which Kiwi mates of mine see as a ridiculous thing to celebrate since ANZAC Day is essentially about glorifying the (attempted) invasion of another country and of sending our young men to needlessly fight and die in a banker’s war. But regardless of all that, it just so happens that the commander of the Turkish army that held back the Aussie and Kiwi minions of British bankers was none other than Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

It’s been nearly a century since Atatürk’s time though, and while Atatürk’s image is currently being paraded around Turkey by the AKP – even though it’s been talking about abandoning the constitution’s tenet of secularism, and so is likely just jumping on the bandwagon because it now needs the support of the secularists after having split with the Gülenists – “democracy” also seems to have become a mostly-empty buzzword as well.


Where the world’s finest go to shine (photo by United Nations Photo)

First off there’s the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who after supporters he was addressing outside his Istanbul residence began chanting for the death penalty to be restored, summarily stated that “We cannot ignore this demand… In democracies whatever the people say has to happen.” Or in other words, mob rules.

(As an aside to that, if Turkey reinstates the death penalty, which it scrapped in 2004 as a condition for eventually gaining admittance to the European Union, its chances for gaining passage onto the Titanic drop to zero. Furthermore, even if Turkey could squeeze its way in onto the lower decks of the EU, admittance to the club pales in comparison to the allure of a new imperial Turkey that could dominate the region. Granted, the EU is Turkey’s biggest trade partner, but with possibility of membership in the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union [EEU – a two-year-old, five-member free trade zone], and with the BRICS consortium a possible trading partner as well, a turn away from the EU may not actually be as bad as it sounds – as far as these things go, that is.)

Moving on in this darlings-of-democracy showcase (which is certainly giving the United States’ Democratic Party a run for its money – to the bottom), next in line is Fethullah Gülen, the Muslim cleric living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania who the mainstream media likes to portray as a “staunch advocate of democracy,” who is then said to have “left Turkey in 1999 just ahead of a treason charge,” but from what I’ve strangely noticed hardly ever seems to get explained any further.

But according to an old BBC article I came across, it turns out that shortly after Gülen left to the United States in 1999 for what he claimed were medical reasons, Turkish television channels broadcast recordings of comments by Gülen “in which he urges his followers in the judiciary and public service to work patiently to take control of the state.” Gülen dismissed the allegations (from the United States) and said his comments were taken out of context. He was tried in absentia in 2000 by Turkey’s then-secular courts, but ultimately cleared in 2008 by Erdoğan’s more Islamic-leaning courts, his acquittal possibly a gesture of gratitude for his support of Erdoğan’s election to prime minister in 2003. Nonetheless, Gülen has remained in self-imposed exile ever since his initial departure.


Apparently not everyone is a fan of Fethullah Gülen
(photo courtesy of SHOTbySUSAN)

To make things even murkier, United States immigration authorities had planned to expel Gülen in 2006, but plans for such were rescinded following a letter of recommendation written to the FBI and the United States Department of Homeland Security by former Vice Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council, Graham Fuller (who openly admits to this, and which is part of the public record anyhow).

As it turns out, and as Aydal also states,

In Turkey, the governments come and go, the one thing which doesn’t change is every government had to get the approval of Fethullah Gülen until now. Because he had so much vote potential, if he didn’t approve a party, that party wouldn’t be able to win. When AKP came to lead [in 2003], it was made possible by the Gülen power again.

However, and as Aydal also states, “Something I never expected happened” (which an article in Foreign Policy delved into):

[In 2013] AKP and the Fethullah cult started fighting. And everything you see today in Turkey is the result of that. AKP has the government advantage, but Fethullah has the advantage that it’s backed by USA.

Moreover, and as Aydal put it a couple of months before the attempted coup shenanigans,

[I]n the future AKP will eventually lose. Because ever since they broke the bonds with USA based Fethullah cult, they’re not useful for USA anymore. And they will be replaced by one which is useful. That’s why in recent months the foreign press started attacking him [Erdoğan] and calling him a dictator, whereas they used to hail and love him.

“Love him”? And refer to him as the “second Atatürk”? Well sure, if – and contrary to the wishes of most of the world’s global Muslim population – you sign up as a full supporter of the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, and even pen an article for the Wall Street Journal, you’re the United States’ latest BFF-FAW. (Just don’t get too uppity, lest you want to end up like the United States’ former BFF-FAW, Saddam Hussein.)

Regardless, that’s pretty much all changed now. For as Aydal concludes,

You guys have to understand, for Turkey this is HISTORY. It’s the day when USA lost total control over Turkey. I was always wondering how long can Erdoğan resist the Gülen cult, but he actually waged straight-up war. And every party who’s against Gülen is supporting Erdoğan in this.

And not just every party, but many – most – run-of-the-mill Turks. Although Erdoğan is generally a divisive figure, his recent purges of Gülenitsts from judiciaries, police forces, and other government sectors is being praised by Turks of all political stripes, even those who normally oppose him. Post coup, his approval ratings have shot up to 68% from 47% prior to the coup, and a recent rally saw more than two million Turks, of various political persuasions, join together in solidarity. As one attendee put it, “We came together to save our nation from outside forces, so we are here for the love of our country and flag.”

While the west generally sees Erdoğan’s purges as a witch hunt and Erdoğan as little more than an authoritarian, many Turks are frustrated that the West isn’t taking the Gülen network (FETO) seriously. As an article in the Intercept put it, for years Gülentists have been using “clandestine methods to sneak into the military schools” as well as recruit in the police, judicial, and other government agencies. (According to the article’s informant, military pilots who could fly the American-made F-16 fighter jets were the most prized of all.) Anybody who spoke up about what was going on was swiftly punished. And while it was (secular) Kemalists that were the first targets of the Gülen network due to their sought after positions in public offices, Erdoğan’s AKP became the most recent target after the fallout in 2012.

Granted, prior to 2012 the AKP had actually assisted the Gülenist take-over of the judiciary, and so in return had any laws it wanted passed done so. Likewise, the government also turned a blind eye to the Gülenist infiltration of the army. That being so, even though (secular) Kemalists are generally supportive of the purges, they are nonetheless concerned that after Erdoğan is finished with the Gülenists he will set his sights on them and it will be back to the old divisive ways, if not worse. As someone by the name of “actual turk” stated in the comment section of part 1 in this Turkey series, “Erdogan is no angel – he is a scumbag – but this purge is getting rid of an islamic cancer far worse than Erdogan.”

Having said all that, the West has not been all to happy with the outcome of the attempted coup. As the not-conspiracy-oriented Oil Price put it, “European leaders were not too enthusiastic when the attempted coup failed, despite official declarations in support of Erdogan’s government.” Taking it a bit further, others have even stated that “Only when it became clear the coup was in fact smashed President Obama and the ‘NATO allies’ officially proclaimed their ‘support for the democratically elected government’.” The Unites States’ government obviously denies this, and while some simply dismiss the United Statesian government’s retort as “damage control,” it’s perhaps not too hard to imagine who the United States was likely rooting for.

In the meantime, the Erdoğan/AKP government has been vehemently calling for the United States to extradite Gülen back to Turkey so he can face charges of treason (since they see him as the mastermind of the failed coup), but the United States is having no part in this. Following that, Western media sources have repeatedly reported that the United States’ government is demanding evidence of Gülen’s involvement before any judicial process can begin, full stop. But look outside the bubble, and you’ll see it stated that

According to Erdogan, “Documents have been sent to the U.S.” establishing Gulen’s guilt. But the Obama administration remains unmoved, even though Turkey has handed over terrorists to the US in the past without evidence.

And as Erdoğan has also apparently stated (and which I’ve never seen quoted in any Western mainstream media source),

Now I ask, does the West give support to terror or not? Is the West on the side of democracy or on the side of coups and terror? Unfortunately, the West gives support to terror and stands on the side of coups… We have not received the support we were expecting from our friends, neither during nor after the coup attempt.

Like the saying goes, “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t,” which is perhaps useful when you know which one of them you know better than the other.


Nearly everybody likes a good Ponzi scheme

Anyhow, what has now emerged following Erdoğan’s displeasure with the United States is an ultimatum over the delayed visa-free access for Turks to the European Union. That is, in return for Turkey stemming the flow of illegal migrants to Europe, Turks were to receive a free pass to the land of not-exactly-plenty. But despite Turkey working on its end of the bargain (five of seventy-two demands are still to be met), the visa-free access still eludes Turks, and the recent post-coup crackdowns have added a bit of a sore-spot to the whole thing. But as Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu recently stated, Turkey could renege on its efforts to hold back said migrants. As Reuters put it,

Asked whether hundreds of thousands of refugees in Turkey would head to Europe if the EU did not grant Turks visa freedom from October, Çavuşoğlu told Bild: “I don’t want to talk about the worst case scenario – talks with the EU are continuing but it’s clear that we either apply all treaties at the same time or we put them all aside… It can’t be that we implement everything that is good for the EU but that Turkey gets nothing in return.”

To drive the point home even further, Çavuşoğlu has also stated that

We worked very hard to have good relations with Europe for 15 years. If the West one day loses Turkey – whatever our relations with Russia and China – it will be its own fault.”

Working off of a few things I mentioned in part 1, if Turkey’s demands aren’t met, this may very well mean Turkey will turn a blind eye to Syrians and other refugees flooding into Europe, some of which may very well be jihadi-wannabes from neighbouring countries. On the other hand, if Turkey does somehow get its way and its citizens are granted visa-free access to the European Union, the 2.7 million Syrians that Erdoğan plans on granting citizenship to may very well gain a form of access to Europe anyhow – and some of which, again, may be jihadi-wannabes from other countries. So the solution is…?

In other words, the story in Turkey is a whole lot messier than what those of us in the West are being led to believe. And when penultimate control of energy supplies is the hidden agenda, the devil you know is apt to partake in actions contrary to what might be expected. I’ll finish off the story in part 3.

EDIT 29/08/2016: Upon completion of the last part of this Turkish trilogy a few changes were made to better clarify things and improve its overall structure. In part 2 the only significant change was the addition of three paragraphs describing the rather favourable reaction Turks have had to Erdoğan’s purges, why that is so, and what some fear could transpire following said purges.

Is There a US-Russia Grand Bargain in Syria?

Jetsgc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Jets

Originally published in Sputnik on March 17, 2016

 


It’s spy thriller stuff; no one is talking. But there are indications Russia would not announce a partial withdrawal from Syria right before the Geneva negotiations ramp up unless a grand bargain with Washington had been struck.

Some sort of bargain is in play, of which we still don’t know the details; that's what the CIA itself is basically saying through their multiple US Think Tankland mouthpieces. And that's the real meaning hidden under a carefully timed Barack Obama interview that, although inviting suspension of disbelief, reads like a major policy change document.

Obama invests in proverbial whitewashing, now admitting US intel did not specifically identify the Bashar al-Assad government as responsible for the Ghouta chemical attack. And then there are nuggets, such as Ukraine seen as not a vital interest of the US – something that clashes head on with the Brzezinski doctrine. Or Saudi Arabia as freeloaders of US foreign policy – something that provoked a fierce response from former Osama bin Laden pal and Saudi intel supremo Prince Turki.

Tradeoffs seem to be imminent. And that would imply a power shift has taken place above Obama — who is essentially a messenger, a paperboy. Still that does not mean that the bellicose agendas of both the Pentagon and the CIA are now contained.

Russian intel cannot possibly trust a US administration infested with warmongering neocon cells. Moreover, the Brzezinski doctrine has failed – but it’s not dead. Part of the Brzezinski plan was to flood oil markets with shut-in capacity in OPEC to destroy Russia.

That caused damage, but the second part, which was to lure Russia into an war in Ukraine for which Ukrainians were to be the cannon fodder in the name of “democracy”, failed miserably. Then there was the wishful thinking that Syria would suck Russia into a quagmire of Dubya in Iraq proportions – but that also failed miserably with the current Russian time out. 

The Kurdish factor

A Kurdish man waves a large flag of the Democratic Union Party (PYD)

© AFP 2016/ DELIL SOULEIMAN

Kurds Sign Declaration on Creating Federal Region in Northern Syria

Convincing explanations for the (partial) Russian withdrawal from Syria are readily available. What matters is that the Khmeimim air base and the naval base in Tartus remain untouched. Key Russian military advisers/trainers remain in place. Air raids, ballistic missile launches from the Caspian or the Mediterranean – everything remains operational. Russian air power continues to protect the forces deployed by Damascus and Tehran. 

As much as Russia may be downsizing, Iran (and Hezbollah) are not. Tehran has trained and weaponized key paramilitary forces – thousands of soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan fighting side by side with Hezbollah and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). The SAA will keep advancing and establishing facts on the ground.

As the Geneva negotiations pick up, those facts are now relatively frozen. Which brings us to the key sticking point in Geneva – which has got to be included in the possible grand bargain.

The grand bargain is based on the current ceasefire (or "cessation of hostilities") holding, which is far from a given. Assuming all these positions hold, a federal Syria could emerge, what could be dubbed Break Up Light.

Essentially, we would have three major provinces: a Sunnistan, a Kurdistan and a Cosmopolistan.

Sunnistan would include Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa, assuming the whole province may be extensively purged of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.

Kurdistan would be in place all along the Turkish border – something that would freak out Sultan Erdogan to Kingdom Come.

And Cosmopolistan would unite the Alawi/ Christian/ Druze/ secular Sunni heart of Syria, or the Syria that works, from Damascus up to Latakia and Aleppo.

 

Kurdish people carry flags as they march during a protest in the city of al-Derbasiyah, on the Syrian-Turkish border, against what the protesters said were the operations launched in Turkey by government security forces against the Kurds, February 9, 2016

© REUTERS/ RODI SAID

Syrian Kurds are already busy spinning that a federal Syria would be based on community spirit, not geographical confines.

Ankara’s response, predictably, has been harsh; any Kurdish federal system in northern Syria represents not only a red line but an “existential threat” to Turkey. Ankara may be falling under the illusion that Moscow, with its partial demobilizing, would look the other way if Erdogan orders a military invasion of northern Syria, as long as it does not touch Latakia province.

And yet, in the shadows, lurks the possibility that Russian intel may be ready to strike a deal with the Turkish military – with the corollary that a possible removal of Sultan Erdogan would pave the way for the reestablishment of the Russia-Turkey friendship, essential for Eurasia integration.

What the Syrian Kurds are planning has nothing to do with separatism. Syrian Kurds are 2.2 million out of a remaining Syrian population of roughly 18 million. Their cantons across the Syria-Turkey border —Jazeera, Kobani and Afrin – have been established since 2013. The YPG has already linked Jazeera to Kobani, and is on their way to link them to Afrin. This, in a nutshell, is Rojava province. 

The Kurds across Rojava – heavily influenced by concepts developed by imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan — are deep into consultations with Arabs and Christians on how to implement federalism, privileging a horizontal self-ruled model, a sort of anarchist-style confederation. It’s a fascinating political vision that would even include the Kurdish communities in Damascus and Aleppo.

Moscow – and that is absolutely key – supports the Kurds. So they must be part of the Geneva negotiations. The Russian long game is complex; not be strictly aligned either with Damascus or with the discredited “opposition” supported and weaponized by Turkey and the GCC. Team Obama, as usual, is on the fence. There’s the “NATO ally” angle — but even Washington is losing patience with Erdogan.

The geopolitical winners and losers

Only the proverbially clueless Western corporate media was caught off-guard by Russia’s latest diplomatic coup in Syria. Consistency has been the norm.

Russia has been consistently upgrading the Russia-China strategic partnership. This has run in parallel to the hybrid warfare in Ukraine (asymmetric operations mixed with economic, political, military and technological support to the Donetsk and Lugansk republics); even NATO officials with a decent IQ had to admit that without Russian diplomacy there’s no solution to the war in Donbass.

In Syria, Moscow accomplished the outstanding feat of making Team Obama see the light beyond the fog of neo-con-instilled war, leading to a solution involving Syria’s chemical arsenal after Obama ensnared himself in his own red line. Obama owes it to Putin and Lavrov, who literally saved him not only from tremendous embarrassment but from yet another massive Middle East quagmire.

 

Russian Aerospace Forces aircraft leave Hmeimim airbase in Syria

RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY

Farewell to Arms: Real Results of Russia's Air Campaign in Syria

The Russian objectives in Syria already laid out in September 2015 have been fulfilled. Jihadists of all strands are on the run – including, crucially, the over 2,000 born in southern Caucasus republics. Damascus has been spared from regime change a la Saddam or Gaddafi. Russia’s presence in the Mediterranean is secure.

Russia will be closely monitoring the current “cessation of hostilities”; and if the War Party decides to ramp up “support” for ISIS/ISIL/Daesh or the “moderate rebel” front via any shadow war move, Russia will be back in a flash. As for Sultan Erdogan, he can brag what he wants about his “no-fly zone” pipe dream; but the fact is the northwestern Syria-Turkish border is now fully protected by the S-400 air defense system.

Moreover, the close collaboration of the “4+1” coalition – Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, plus Hezbollah – has broken more ground than a mere Russia-Shi’te alignment. It prefigures a major geopolitical shift, where NATO is not the only game in town anymore, dictating humanitarian imperialism; this “other” coalition could be seen as a prefiguration of a future, key, global role for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

As we stand, it may seem futile to talk about winners and losers in the five-year-long Syrian tragedy – especially with Syria destroyed by a vicious, imposed proxy war. But facts on the ground point, geopolitically, to a major victory for Russia, Iran and Syrian Kurds, and a major loss for Turkey and the GCC petrodollar gang, especially considering the huge geo-energy interests in play.

It’s always crucial to stress that Syria is an energy war – with the “prize” being who will be better positioned to supply Europe with natural gas; the proposed Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, or the rival Qatar pipeline to Turkey that would imply a pliable Damascus.

Other serious geopolitical losers include the self-proclaimed humanitarianism of the UN and the EU. And most of all the Pentagon and the CIA and their gaggle of weaponized “moderate rebels”. It ain’t over till the last jihadi sings his Paradise song. Meanwhile, “time out” Russia is watching.

 


PepePepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Europe’s Slow Motion Debacle

s_500_opednews_com_0_---jpg_73066_20160303-743 gc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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s_500_opednews_com_0_---jpg_73066_20160303-743

Originally published in Op-Ed News on March 3, 2016

 


From a failed attempt to clear the Calais jungle to the appalling situation at the Greek-Macedonian border, the EU crumbles under the strain of a massive refugee crisis. Even the Kafkaesque Brussels Eurocrat construct admits it — off the record, because official EU must always project a mythical image of unity: We are on the edge of an abyss.

Across the EU and amidst Russian intellectual elites, scenarios proliferate on the imminent collapse of Western civilization, as a huge number of refugees cannot be properly assimilated. In Russia, this process is examined with extreme concern because it happens not far from Russia's western borderlands, and involves what the Kremlin traditionally defines as our partners.

But what if this European slow-motion debacle was not enacted as a Mad Max dystopia, but rather brought about by a tsunami of Muslims ultimately displaced by Western-engineered wars?

Behold Fortress Europe

It was only six months ago that Chancellor Angela Merkel's government took a huge gamble in adopting a so-called humanitarian refugee policy; call it the civilized face of the otherwise politically tainted R2P (responsibility to protect) concept, which was ruthlessly manipulated for the invasion and destruction of Libya.

Six months later, we have swarms of refugees stranded all along the Balkan Route — and progressively encircled/trapped by strict border controls, the disappearance of social benefits, creeping fences and walls, and the practical extermination of the Schengen accords. The Merkel gambit is over; Fortress Europe is back with a vengeance.

 

Can you hear the sound of a basket of myths crumbling? Here are a few. The notion of European solidarity — not to mention egality and fraternity. The notion that EU members would accept a sensible, harmonious, proportional distribution of refugees. The notion that Europe would not reject, deport and repatriate people fleeing from war zones. The notion that Turkey would protect the EU from the crisis.

The Balkan Route, for all practical purposes, is now sealed off to refugees while Ankara, for its part, is slowly building a wall along stretches of the Turkish-Syrian border — not as much to really contain them (after all Ankara must keep open the Jihadi highway), but as a propaganda coup.

(image by Rabble, UK)   DMCA

Germany's humanitarian refugee policy is in tatters and corroded by self-doubt; only two weeks ago Chancellor Merkel was wondering whether she should pursue our European-Turkish approach or whether the EU should order the absolute sealing off of the Greek-Macedonian border, pure and simple.

And that leads us close to the heart of the matter — which is, of course, Turkey.

The majority of German conservative politicos want Merkel to seal off German borders to refugees, while Merkel still believes in the Hand of Providence; help from European partners — which won't come — and most of all from Ankara.

And that's exactly where Turkey's Sultan Erdogan wants her to be; as a supplicant, not as the leader of the number one European economic power.

Ankara's power play

One of the key myths of the whole refugee crisis is that Erdogan's AKP government is doing all it can to contain it.

Nonsense. The crisis itself was engineered by Ankara in 2015 — when refugees were released from their holding camps in Turkey under threat that they would not be cared for anymore. The refugee flood was not a spontaneous creation, as Syrians, Iraqis and/or Afghans suddenly decided to flee to the EU; it was directly instigated by Ankara. And Erdogan from the start was already contemplating the Big Prize; to bribe the EU, especially Merkel, to pay — at least 3 billion euros — so most refugees remain not on Turkish soil, but on one of his own neo-Ottoman sub-plots; a safe zone to be built inside Syrian territory.

Extra evidence pointing to Ankara's plotting is the fact that Turkey has not increased patrols on its Mediterranean coast — the departure point for scores of refugees to try their luck by boat on their way to safety of the Greek islands. The priority for Ankara was to close the Turkish-Syrian border. Not really close it, as safe passage remains guaranteed for selected moderate rebels.

The Warsaw-based European border control agency Frontex is absolutely convinced that the Turkey-EU refugee power play will continue. Diplomatically, Frontex's director Fabrice Leggeri advances that Turkey has to make it more difficult for the migrant smugglers.

Yet that won't happen. And Germany — and the EU as a whole — will continue to be hostages of Ankara's political maneuvering.

A EU-Turkey summit was held in November 2015. At the time, Erdogan promised there would be more security in the Aegean coast and more raids on migrant smugglers. Too little, too late. Turkey's Aegean coast is 2,800 kilometers long. Ankara does not have the resources to police it properly.

So smuggling on a massive scale proceeds unabated. Smuggling rings with the right contacts — within Turkish police and AKP-related politicians — only need to pay roughly 3,000 euros for each group of refugees to clear the border and hit the sea.

In parallel, Ankara is clearly at war in Southeast Anatolia against the PKK Kurds. This is the number one priority, not smuggling of refugees, not to mention fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu could not be more straight to the point when he visited Berlin late last year: the Erdogan/Davutoglu Plan A is to annihilate the PKK Kurds. There is no Plan B.

Chaos, created then applauded

No one in Brussels will do it. So Frau Merkel ultimately would have to be the only EU leader to confront Erdogan and read him the riot act. It's not only a matter of politely requesting Ankara to reduce refugee numbers. It's to order him to do so; question him on why he released them en masse in the first place last year; and withhold any future financial rescue package, including the building of refugee camps inside Syrian territory.

The stark fact is that the whole refugee crisis — an existential crisis for Europe — is being used by Ankara as a bargaining chip for an elaborate extortion racket. Erdogan wants a tsunami of EU cash; and he wants a tsunami of concessions regarding Turkey's negotiations for accession to the EU.

Meanwhile, there's no concerted EU refugee policy to be seen. Not even a balancing act between humanitarian concerns and deterrence, altruism and realpolitik. No EU political leader will confront the responsibility of NATO's wars (with petrodollar GCC support) crafting the whole crisis. The absolute majority of refugees are Syrians, Afghans and Africans who depart the continent via NATO-destroyed Libya.

Polls consistently show that a majority of EU citizens don't want to welcome refugees anymore. As Belgium-based Jean Bricmont, author of Humanitarian Imperialism has correctly stressed, EU citizens who were never consulted on the issue of refugees and who are constantly asked to make sacrifices because "there is no money" understandably do not accept this moral discourse anymore.

Bricmont is among the very few in Europe to connect the dots: The same people who encouraged "humanitarian" interventions and "support" for armed insurrections abroad, that have led to perpetual wars, generating a constant flow of refugees, are now demanding that the population of our countries "welcome the refugees." They first generate chaos there, then they applaud chaos here.

Well, that's the whole logic of the Empire of Chaos in a nutshell.


PepePepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

A dose of Dadaism to call the Sultan/Saudi bluff

Erdogan-angry-600x360gc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Syria pepe

Originally published in RT on February 18, 2016

 


Darkness dawns at the break of noon, sirens blare, red alerts convulse – and it feels like we’re 30 seconds from the 9th circle of hell. The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of demented intensity.

Is this the end, beautiful friend?

Well, not really. It’s a bluff. So let’s invoke Dada – the original internet – to put this hellhole in perspective. Dada was born a century ago at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich – smack in the middle of WWI. *Dada was not only a revolution in art; it’s a revolution still in progress.

Dada is a state of mind – pretty much the ideal antidote to manifestations of Cold War 2.0; it is all about destabilizing pomposity; search and destroy symbols; dislocation of language. So with multiple intimations of doom shaping the onset of (fake) WWIII, what’s best than to keep on truckin’ fueled by impertinence and fantasy? After all, “Life is a Cabaret”(Voltaire). Come to the cabaret.

Cut to a gaggle of rollicking Wahhabis making a cabaret entrance, complete with jets overflying Incirlik. They seem to be getting ready for…boo hoo! Ground operations in Syria! They desire it. Utterly. But, alas, there’s no plan. Listen to ringmaster Adel al-Jubeir in all his transgender glory; they may eventually add a “ground component”! But it all depends on ‘His Masters’ Voice’ issuing his permission. And the permission is not forthcoming.

bus Ankara

“The timing is not up to us,” moan the Wahhabis. So, thirsty for the limelight, and adding to the suspense, enter… the Turks! “The best time to enter Syria is now,” howl the pro-AKP hordes from Ankara to Antalya. How can we possibly allow those seedy YPG Kurds to concoct a buffer state along our border and, moreover, one that is controlled by the Yankees and the Russkies?

Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) Terrorists! Off with their heads – like the Red Queen said, inspiring Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Our destiny is to set up a ‘secure’ refugee enclave 10 kilometers inside Syria. And forbid these refugees – by all means necessary – to cross into Turkey.

Onwards to the Jarablus pocket, north of the Azaz-Munbij line! It’s Kurd-shelling time! 
Oops! They did it again. The neo-Ottomans forgot to register that ‘His Masters’ Voice’ does not regard the PYD and the YPG as “terrorists”. After all, they are gallantly battling ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. And they are not connected to “moderate rebel”Jabhat Al-Nusra, a.k.a. Al-Qaeda in Syria, while all the favorite Wahhabi/neo-Ottoman-linked goons are excited Nusra lovers. How Dada is that? And the Dada-o-meter spectacularly explodes into interstellar space as we add the seriouspossibility that no less than US Special Forces may be giving a little help to their Kurdish friends.

Say hello to my no-fly zone

While all hell is (moderately) breaking loose, everyone seems to have forgotten that Russia has (discreetly) imposed a de facto no-fly zone over virtually all of northern Syria. Not even squalid crows fly along the border, not to mention Turkish F-16s and copters. Turkish planes know that if they enter Syrian airspace, it’s an Ashes to Ashes scenario (Bowie dubbed in Cyrillic). So what is Washington to do? Provide “air support” to the neo-Ottomans and risk WWIII? Obviously not.

Erdogan tweetThe Kremlin totally gets Dada but plays constructivism. The secret: to win against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh and assorted Salafi-jihadi terror gangs is impossible without sealing the same Syria-Turkish border the neo-Ottomans are itching to trespass. After all, that’s the highway from where the Jihadi/Weaponizing flows in and smuggled oil flows out. Russia, constructively, is willing to strike deals with anyone who’s not Salafi-jihadi. But there’s the rub. The Russian guest list does not match the American guest list.

So how do you get into the club? And once inside, whose tune will you be dancing to? Israel, Egypt, Jordan and even the Emirates – that profitable marriage between Abu Dhabi oil and Dubai smuggling rackets – are in close touch with the Russian game in Syria. They want closure. Not exactly the Wahhabi/neo-Ottoman game. But even if the double down desperadoes might be “supported” by Qatar and Bahrain in that notoriously elusive “ground operation”, the notion they would dare to confront both Russia and the US head to head is nothing but prime Dada.

So no wonder selected neo-Ottoman heads are doing more spinning than dervishes in Konya. We hate everybody! But we can’t declare war against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, the PYD and that regime-unchanged ingrate Bashar Assad all at the same time!

To mollify their unspeakable chagrin, the neo-Ottomans dutifully persist in their offensive against… more Kurds – those of the PKK in Anatolia. But should they strike harder on the PYD in Syria, expect the PKK in Turkey to mastermind a lethal counterpunch.

And then, amidst such mayhem, whose head is held high as a portrait of moderation? The TSK (Turkish Armed Forces)! Picture proud Turkish generals resisting to play the (fake) prologue for a possible WWIII. How Dada is that?

White on white, anyone?

Common sense though has not prevailed – yet; that would have been so un-Dada. Re-enter ‘Northern Thunder’! Wahhabi General Ahmed Asseri continues to insist the notorious ground operation is “irreversible”. Sorry, eventually reversible if the green light from ‘The Masters’ never shines.

Still, never underestimate a frantically fearful Wahhabi for superior Dada effect. Jubeir, at the Munich Security Conference, said with a straight face that Assad is the “single most effective magnet for extremists and terrorists” in the whole Middle East. So it’s regime change or what, self-beheading en masse? Now that would be some performance art worthy of the Dadaist Manifesto.

Russia, meanwhile, behaves as placidly as Malevich’s White on White. Moscow certainly does not want to wallow into a Syrian swamp. And yet Russia is already firmly placed in Syria – and is not going anywhere apart from expanding its geopolitical footprint even further. That’s called Mediterranean projection. Everyone else, live with it.

We keep ragin’, ragin’ against the dying of the (Southwest Asian) light… And then, in a flash, we might even glimpse the possibility of the big powers, Russia and the US, reaching an ersatz of symbiosis in Syria, which may eventually translate into that “peace process” Kerry and Lavrov are so fond of. Who wants WWIII if not the mentally disabled? Oops, we Dada-it again. Tell it to ‘Sultan’ Erdogan and warrior Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

*Dada  was an art movement that surfaced during World War I in Zurich in negative reaction to the war. The art, poetry and performances of the Dada artists is often nonsensical in order to convey their message.


PepePepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Will MENA Get Nuked?

youtube-Logo-2gc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on The Economic Collapse on February 21, 2016

Nuclear War - Public Domain

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

World War 3 Could Very Easily Turn Into The Very First Nuclear War In The Middle East

Saudi Arabia already has nukes, Iran probably does, and the Russians are one of the two great nuclear powers on the entire planet.  So if Saudi Arabia, Turkey and their Sunni allies do decide to conduct a full-blown ground invasion of Syria, could someone ultimately decide to use nuclear weapons when their backs get pushed up against a wall?  As you read this article, there are thousands of military vehicles and hundreds of thousands of troops massed along the southern border of Turkey and the northern border of Saudi Arabia.  If the command is given and those forces start streaming toward Damascus, it is inevitable that the Syrians, the Iranians, Hezbollah and the Russians would fight back.  It would literally be the start of World War 3, and the Saudis and the Turks are trying very hard to convince the United States to be involved.  But the truth is that we don’t want any part of this conflict, because it could very easily become the very first nuclear war in the history of the Middle East.

Perhaps you didn’t know that the Saudis already have nukes.  Of course the official position is that they don’t, but it is a fact that they were the ones that funded the development of Pakistan’s nuclear program.  It is an open secret that the Saudis have the bomb, but nobody is really supposed to talk about it.

That is why it was so alarming what Saudi political analyst Dahham Al-‘Anzi told RT just recently

Earlier this week a Saudi political analyst told RT’s Arab network the kingdom has a nuclear weapon.

Dahham Al-‘Anzi made the claim while saying Saudi Arabia is engaged in an effort to “minimize the Iranian threat in the Levant and Syria.”

Although Saudi Arabia has officially denied it has a nuclear weapons program and has publicly stated it opposes nuclear weapons in the Middle East, it has funded a military nuclear program and received scientific assistance from the United States and Pakistan.

You can watch video of this exchange right here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you don’t want to believe him, perhaps you will believe the former director of the CIA counter-terrorism operations center.  He told Fox Business that everyone in the intelligence world knows the Saudis have nukes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the fur started flying in Syria and Russia and Iran decided to start bombing Saudi airbases, would Saudi Arabia resort to using their nukes?

Let’s hope not.

In the event of a massive ground invasion by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and their allies, it is actually more likely that Russia may decide to be the first one to use nukes.  An invasion force of hundreds of thousands of troops would vastly outnumber the relatively small Russian force that is already inside Syria, and so the Russians may feel that the only way that they can keep the Sunni powers out of Damascus is to use tactical nukes.

Russia has more tactical nukes that anyone else in the world by far, and there are some reports that indicate that Russia may be prepared to use them in Syria.  For example, former Associated Press reporter Robert Parry, the author of America’s Stolen Narrative, says that a source has told him that the Russians have already warned Turkey that this could potentially happen

If Turkey (with hundreds of thousands of troops massed near the Syrian border) and Saudi Arabia (with its sophisticated air force) follow through on threats and intervene militarily to save their rebel clients, who include Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, from a powerful Russian-backed Syrian government offensive, then Russia will have to decide what to do to protect its 20,000 or so military personnel inside Syria.

A source close to Russian President Vladimir Putin told me that the Russians have warned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Moscow is prepared to use tactical nuclear weapons if necessary to save their troops in the face of a Turkish-Saudi onslaught. Since Turkey is a member of NATO, any such conflict could quickly escalate into a full-scale nuclear confrontation.

Given Erdogan’s megalomania or mental instability and the aggressiveness and inexperience of Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman (defense minister and son of King Salman), the only person who probably can stop a Turkish-Saudi invasion is President Obama. But I’m told that he has been unwilling to flatly prohibit such an intervention, though he has sought to calm Erdogan down and made clear that the U.S. military would not join the invasion.

Are you starting to understand how serious this is?

With all of the talk of a potential invasion in recent days, the Russians are on high alert and are rapidly preparing for a direct conflict with both Saudi Arabia and Turkey.  The following comes from Infowars

Still, the Russians are taking no chances and they have put all their forces into high alert. They have very publicly dispatched a Tu-214r – her most advanced ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) aircraft. You can think of the Tu-214R as an “AWACS for the ground”, the kind of aircraft you use to monitor a major ground battle (the regular Russian A-50Ms are already monitoring the Syrian airspace). In southern Russia, the Aerospace forces have organized large-scale exercises involving a large number of aircraft which would be used in a war against Turkey: SU-34s. The Airborne Forces are ready. The naval task forces off the Syrian coast is being augmented. The delivery of weapons has accelerated. The bottom line is simple and obvious: the Russians are not making any threats – they are preparing for war. In fact, by now they are ready.

In addition, it is important to remember that it is quite likely that the Iranians have nuclear weapons as well.

Of course the U.S. government and the Iranian government both insist that Iran does not have nukes, but many of those in the know insist otherwise.

For instance, you may want to consider what retired U.S. Army Major General Paul Vallely and U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Dennis B. Haney are saying.  The following comes from an article that was authored by Jerome Corsi of WND

In a joint statement, Vallely and Haney say an accumulation of available evidence shows a coalition of Russia, China and North Korea have assisted Iran since 1979 in achieving a nuclear weapon, despite sanctions, under the guise of a domestic nuclear energy program.

Vallely explained to WND that he and Haney have taken a systematic approach to evaluating each component needed to deliver a nuclear weapon, from the development and testing of a ballistic missile system, to the design of a nuclear weapons warhead, to the development of the weapons-grade uranium needed to produce a bomb.

“To come to our conclusion that Iran is a nuclear weapons power right now, we supplemented publicly available research, plus information from intelligence sources, including Iranian resistance groups such as the National Council of Resistance of IRAN, NCRI,” Vallely explained.

I happen to agree with Vallely and Haney.  I cannot prove it, but all of the intel that I have received indicates that Iran already has nukes.

Hopefully I will not be proven accurate any time soon.

It had been hoped that a cease-fire could be negotiated that would at least temporarily defuse tensions in Syria.  Unfortunately, it does not look like the shooting is going to stop, and this is going to put immense pressure on both Saudi Arabia and Turkey to do something to rescue the radical Sunni militants that are on the verge of defeat.  The Saudis, the Turks and their allies have poured enormous amounts of money and resources into this war over the past five years, and now they are faced with the choice of either accepting defeat or directly intervening in this conflict themselves.

But in order to conduct a full-fledged ground invasion, they are going to need justification for doing so.  There are some that are suggesting that we could soon see a false flag attack that would provide that justification, so that is something to watch out for.

I can’t remember a time when our planet has been so close to World War 3 potentially beginning.

And if it does break out, I believe that it is quite likely that nuclear weapons will be used.

So what do you think?

Do you agree with me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why The ‘Sultan of Chaos’ Is Freaking Out

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sultan erdogan

Originally published in Information Clearing House  on February 5, 2016

 


Picture sleepless nights at ‘Sultan’ Erdogan’s palace in Ankara. Imagine him livid when he learns the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), backed by Russian air power, started a preemptive Battle of Aleppo – through the Bayirbucak region – cutting off Ankara’s top weaponizing corridor and Jihadi highway.

Who controls this corridor will control the final outcome of the war in Syria.
Meanwhile, in Geneva, the remote-controlled Syrian opposition, a.k.a. High Negotiations Committee, graphically demonstrated they never wanted to meet with the Damascus delegation in the first place – “proximity” talks or otherwise, even after Washington and Moscow roughly agreed on a two-year transition plan leading to a theoretically secular, nonsectarian Syria.

The Saudi front wanted no less than Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam and all Jabhat al-Nusra, a.k.a. al-Qaeda in Syria, collaborators at the table in Geneva. So the Geneva charade, quicker than one can say “Road to Aleppo!” was exposed for what it is.

And forget about NATO

Notorious Saudi intel mastermind Prince Turki, a former mentor of one Osama bin Laden, has been to Paris on a PR offensive; all he could muster was an avalanche of non-denial denials – and blaming the whole Syria tragedy on Bashar al-Assad.

The bulk of the Syrian ‘opposition’ used to be armchair warriors co-opted by the CIA for years, as well as CIA Muslim Brotherhood patsies/vassals. Many of these characters preferred the joys of Paris to a hard slog on Syrian ground. Now the ‘opposition’ is basically warlords answering to the House of Saud even for bottles of water – regardless of the suit-and-tie former Ba’ath Party ministers handpicked to be the face of the opposition for the gullible Western corporate media.

Meanwhile, the ‘4+1’ – Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, plus Hezbollah – is now winning decisive facts on the ground. The break down; there won’t be regime change in Damascus. Yet no one broke the news to the Turks and Saudis.  

‘Sultan’ Erdogan is wallowing in a sea of desperation. He continues to divert the gravely serious issues at stake to his own war against the PYD – the umbrella organization of the Syrian Kurds – and the YPG (People's Protection Units, their military wing). Erdogan and Prime Minister Davutoglu wanted the PYD not only banned from Geneva but they want it smashed on the ground, as they see the PYD/YPG as “terrorists” allied to the PKK.

Yet what is ‘Sultan’ Erdogan going to do? Defy the recently arrived 4G++ Sukhoi Su-35S fighters – which are scaring the hell out of every NATO Dr. Strangelove? The Turkish Air Force putting its bases on “orange alert” may scare the odd vagrant dog at best. The same applies to NATO Secretary-General, figurehead Jens Stoltenberg, pleading to Russia “to act responsibly and fully respect NATO airspace.”

Moscow is going after the Turkmen with a vengeance and at the same time providing air support to the PYD west of the Euphrates. That hits the ‘Sultan’ in his heart of hearts; after all Erdogan has threatened multiple times that a PYD/YPG advance west of the Euphrates is the ultimate red line.

An already scared NATO won’t support the folly of an Erdogan war against Russia – as much as US and UK neocons may crave it; as NATO decisions must be unanimous, the last thing EU powers Germany and France want is yet another Southwest Asia war. NATO may deploy the odd Patriot missiles in southern Anatolia and the odd AWACs to support the Turkish Air Force. But that’s it.

Pick your favorite regime change

ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, meanwhile, continues to profit from its own Jihadi highway across a 98 kilometer stretch of Turkish/Syrian border, especially in Jarablus and Al Rai across from Gaziantep and Kilis in Turkey.

Taking a cue from Israel, Ankara is building a wall – 3.6 meters high, 2.5 meters wide – covering the stretch between Elbeyli and Kilis, essentially for propaganda purposes. Because the Jihadi Highway, for all practical purposes, remains open – even as Turkish Armed Forces may apprehend the odd trespasser (always released). We're talking about a monster smuggler/soldier scam; as much as $300 change hands for each night crossing and a noncommissioned Turkish officer may earn as much as $2,500 to look the other way for a few minutes.

The real question is why Gaziantep is not under a curfew imposed from Ankara, with thousands of Turkish Special Forces actually fighting a “war on terra” on the spot. That’s because Ankara and provincial authorities couldn’t give a damn; the real priority is Erdogan’s war on the Kurds.

This brings us to the only leverage the ‘Sultan’ may enjoy at the moment. From Brussels to Berlin, sound minds are terrified that the EU is now actually hostage to Erdogan’s Kurd “priority”, while Ankara is doing next to nothing to fight massive migrant smuggling.

When Davutoglu went to Berlin recently not only did he make no promises; he re-stressed Erdogan’s vow to "annihilate" the Syrian Kurds.

And that explains German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s own desperation. How could the alleged most powerful politician in Europe falls for such a crude extortion racket? The ‘Sultan’ wants a lot of cash, a lot of concessions, and even a further shot at entering the EU. Otherwise, he won’t turn off the tap on the grim refugee flood.

No wonder the regime change rumor mill is frantic. In Ankara? No; in Berlin.


Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online. Born in Brazil, he's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. He is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

NATO’s got a brand new (Syrian) bag

gc2smOff the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Smoke rises after what activists said were airstrikes by forces loyal to Syria's President Assad in Raqqa, which is controlled by the Islamic State

Originally published in RT on December 14, 2015


The FSB, SVR and GRU in Russia, while drawing all the right connections, cannot help but conclude that Washington is letting Cold War 2.0 escalate to the boiling point.

Imagine Russian intel surveying the geopolitical chessboard. 

A Russian passenger jet is bombed by an affiliate of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. A Russian fighter jet is ambushed and downed by Turkey;  here is a partial yet credible scenario of how it may have happened.

Ukrainian right-wing goons sabotage the Crimean electricity supply. A Syrian army base near Deir Ezzor – an important outpost against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in eastern Syria – is hit by the US-led Coalition of the Dodgy Opportunists (CDO). The IMF “pardons” Ukraine’s debt to Russia as it joins, de facto, Cold War 2.0.

And this is just a shortlist.

This is a logical progression. The NATO-GCC compound in Syria is devoured by angst. Russia’s entry into the Syrian war theater – a proxy war, not a civil war – threw all elaborate, downright criminal regime change plans into disarray.

If the US-led CDO were really committed to fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, they would be working side by side with the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), not bombing it or trying to stall it.

And they would be actively trying to shut down the key Turkey-Syria crossroads – the Jarablus corridor which is in fact a 24/7 Jihadi Highway.

NATO’s game in Syria wallows in slippery ambiguity. Discussions with dissident EU diplomats in Brussels, not necessarily NATO vassals, reveal a counter-narrative of how the Pentagon clearly mapped out the Russian strategy; how they interpreted Russian forces to be relatively isolated; and how they decided to allow Ankara under Sultan Erdogan to go wild – a perfect tool offering plausible deniability.

Which brings us back to the downing of the Su-24. Venturing one step further, Russian expert Alexei Leonkov maintains that not only did NATO follow the whole operation with an AWACS, but another AWACS from Saudi Arabia actually guided the Turkish F-16s.

The F-16s are incapable of launching air-to-air missiles without guidance from AWACS. Both Russian and Syrian data – which can be independently verified – place the American and the Saudi AWACS in the area at the time. And to top it off, the detailed US-Turkey deal on the F-16s stipulates permission is mandatory for deploying the jets against a third country.

All this suggests an extremely serious possibility; a direct NATO-GCC op against Russia, which may be further clarified by the Su-24’s recovered black box.

As if this was not enough to raise multiple eyebrows, it could mean just the first move in an expanding chessboard. The final target: to keep Russia away from the Turkish-Syrian border.

But that won’t happen for a number of reasons – not least the Russian deployment of the ultra-lethal S-400s. The Turkish Air Force is so scared that everything – even owls and vultures – is grounded across the border.

Meanwhile, the Humint component is being boosted; more Western boots on the ground, Germans included, branded as mere “advisers” – which, if deployed to the battlefield, may inevitably clash with the SAA. To mold public opinion, the humanitarian bombing faction of German neoliberalcons is already spinning the tale that Assad is the real enemy, not ISISI/SIL/Daesh. Finally, the Germans have made it clear they won’t work alongside Russia and the SAA, but responding to Centcom in Florida and the CDO HQ in Kuwait.

The NATO master plan for northern Syria in the next few weeks and months essentially features US, UK and Turkey fighter jets, with the French still in the balance (are we de facto collaborating with the Russians, or is it just posture?) This is being sold to global public opinion as a “coalition” effort – with Russia barely mentioned.

The master plan, under the cover of bombing the fake “Caliphate” lair in Raqqa, would ideally open the way to a de facto, Erdogan-concocted “safe zone” across the Jarablus corridor, which in reality is a no-fly zone able to harbor a gaggle of“moderate rebels”, a.k.a. hardcore Salafi-jihadis of the al-Nusra kind.

In parallel, expect a torrent of Turkish spin centered on “protecting” the Turkmen minority in northern Syria, actually Turkey’s fifth column, heavily infiltrated by Islamo-fascists of the Grey Wolves kind. It started with Ankara accusing Moscow of “ethnic cleansing”. Erdogan will go no holds barred appealing even for R2P (“responsibility to protect” NATO liberation, Libyan-style.)

And here’s where NATO is totally in sync with Ankara; after all, a “safe zone” protected by NATO crammed with “moderate rebels” is the perfect tool to turbo-charge the breakup of the Syrian state.

It’s not legal but we don’t care

NATO’s Syria intervention is of course absolutely illegal.

UN Security Council resolution 2249 does not fall under Chapter 7 of the UN charter. Yet once again creative language – French-style rhetorical artifice – blurs the non-justification of military might by conveying the impression the UNSC approves it.

And that’s exactly how David of Arabia Cameron interpreted it. Obfuscation is inbuilt in the process, with London pledging to work side by side with Moscow.

Resolution 2249 is yet another case of international law reduced to rubble. For these – sporadic – UK and French air strikes, covered by the pretext of hitting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, were never authorized by Damascus, and the UNSC was not even consulted. Russia, on the other hand, has been fully authorized by Damascus.

On top of this, the CDO is no coalition of 60 or 65 countries, as the Obama administration is frantically spinning. They are actually a gang of seven: Germany, France, UK, US, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. In a nutshell; a pared-down-to-the-bone NATO-GCC compound.

Who’s actually fighting the fake “Caliphate” on the ground are the SAA; Hezbollah; Iraqi Shi’ites under Iranian advisers; and outside of the “4+1” alliance (Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq plus Hezbollah) a coalition of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and smaller Arab and Christian militias, now united under a political umbrella, the Syrian Democratic Council, which Ankara predictably abhors.

Ankara provocations won’t stop – including “creative” ways of denying the passage of “Syrian Express” Russian ships through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles without violating the Montreux Convention.

So NATO’s “new” master plan, twisting and turning, still slouches towards the prime objective: “liberating”, Libya-style, northern Syria and allow it to be occupied either by “moderate rebels” or in the worst case scenario Syrian Kurds, which in theory would be easily manipulated.

ISIS/ISIL/Daesh would be in this case “contained” (Obama administration lingo) not in eastern Syria but actually expelled to the Iraqi western desert, where they would solidify a Sunnistan. Erdogan also badly wants a Sunnistan, but his version is even more ambitious, including Mosul.

This is all happening while a gaggle of Syrian “moderate” rebels met – of all places – in Wahhabi/Salafi-Jihadi Central Riyadh to choose a delegation of 42 people to “select the negotiators” of future Syrian peace talks.

Once again they agreed “Assad must go” even during the transition process. And that “foreign forces” must leave Syria. Obviously that excludes the tsunami of mercenaries paid and weaponized by Riyadh alongside Doha and Ankara.

Any sound mind would ask how the House of Saud gets away with it: choosing who is a “moderate” in a nation they are heavily involved in destabilizing. Simple: because Riyadh owns a gaggle of US lobbyists and handsomely rewards PR gurus such as Edelman, the largest privately owned PR agency on the planet.

The die is cast. Whatever Ankara – under the cover of NATO – may be concocting to prevent the “4+1” from advancing on the ground in Syria, the writing is on the (lethal) wall. It may come embedded in cruise missiles delivered by the Caspian Fleet or delivered by submarines. And it will follow to the letter what President Putin himself told the Defense Ministry's collegium: And not by accident, the Syrian Democratic Council was not invited to go to Riyadh.

"I order you to act extremely tough. Any targets that threaten Russian forces or our infrastructure on the ground should be immediately destroyed."

 


Pepe Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online. Born in Brazil, he's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

 

How Russia is smashing the Turkish game in Syria

CU740GCU8AAHTAIgc2smOff the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Oil transportation routes into Turkey from Syria and Iraq. © Ministry of defence of the Russian Federation / Sputnik

Originally published in RT on December 3, 2015


So why did Washington take virtually forever to not really acknowledge ISIS/ISIL/Daesh is selling stolen Syrian oil that will eventually find its way to Turkey?
Because the priority all along was to allow the CIA – in the shadows – to run a “rat line” weaponizing a gaggle of invisible “moderate rebels”.

 

As much as Daesh – at least up to now – Barzani mob in Iraqi Kurdistan was never under Washington’s watch. The oil operation the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) runs to Turkey is virtually illegal; stolen state-owned oil as far as Baghdad is concerned.

Daesh stolen oil can’t flow through Damascus-controlled territory. Can’t flow though Shiite-dominated Iraq. Can't go east to Iran. It’s Turkey or nothing. Turkey is the easternmost arm of NATO. The US and NATO “support” Turkey. So a case can be made that the US and NATO ultimately support Daesh.

What’s certain is that illegal Daesh oil and illegal KRG oil fit the same pattern; energy interests by the usual suspects playing a very long game.

What these interests are focused on is to control every possible oil asset in Iraqi Kurdistan and then in “liberated” Syria. It’s crucial to know that Tony "Deepwater Horizon" Hayward is running Genel, whose top priority is to control oil fields that were first stolen from Baghdad, and will eventually be stolen from the Iraqi Kurds.  

And then, there’s the Turkmen powder keg.

The key reason why Washington always solemnly ignored Ankara’s array of shady deals in Syria, through its fifth column Turkmen jihadis, is because a key CIA “rat line” runs exactly through the region known as Turkmen Mountain.

These Turkmen, supplied by Ankara’s “humanitarian” convoys, got American TOW-2As for their role in preserving prime weaponizing/ smuggling routes. Their advisers, predictably, are Xe/Academi types, formerly Blackwater. Russia happened to identify the whole scam and started bombing the jihadis. Thus the downing of the Su-24.

The Turkmen fifth column

Now the CIA is on a mission from God – frantically trying to prevent the “rat line” from being definitely smashed by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) on the ground and Russia in the air.

The same desperation applies to the Aleppo-Azez-Killis route, which is also essential for Turkey for all kinds of smuggling.

The advanced arm of the “4+1” alliance – Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, plus Hezbollah – is taking no prisoners trying to re-conquer these two key corridors.

And that explains Ankara’s desperation – with a little help from ‘His Masters’ Voice’ – to come up with an entirely new rat line/corridor through Afrin, currently under Syrian Kurd control, before Damascus forces and Russia air power get there.  

Once again it’s important to remember that a gaggle of Turkmen outfits are Ankara’s fifth column in northern Syria.

Most Turkmen live in Kurdish territories. And here’s the ultimate complicating factor; the majority happen to live in the Jarablus region, currently controlled by ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. It’s exactly this area that is cutting the geographic connection between the two Kurdish cantons, Kobani and Afrin.

So imagine a continuous Syrian Kurd control/autonomy/corridor all across the Turkish-Syrian border. For Ankara this is the ultimate nightmare. Ankara’s strategy is to move its Turkmen pawns, with added “moderate rebels”, all across the Jarablus region. The pretext: wipe Daesh off the map. The real reason: prevent the two Kurdish cantons – Afrin and Kobani – from merging.

And once again Ankara will be directly pitted against Moscow.

The Russian strategy rests on very good relations with Syrian Kurds. Moscow not only supports the Syrian Kurd canton merger, but qualifies it as an important step on the way to a new Syria rid of takfiris. Russia will even officially recognize the PYD (Democratic Union Party) and allow them a representative office in Russia.

Ankara regards the PYD and its paramilitary arm, the YPG (People’s Protection Units) as branches of the PKK. It gets curioser and curioser when we know that both Moscow and Washington are cooperating with the YPG against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.

The predictable All-Out Ankara Freak Out came in the form of ‘Sultan’ Erdogan declaring the Euphrates a “red line” for the YPG. If they try to move westward to fight Daesh, sending them out of the Jarablus area, the Turkish Army will strike.

It’s absolutely key for Turkey to control this area between Jarablus and Afrin because here is the site of the would-be “safe zone”, actually a no-fly zone, which Ankara dreams of implementing using the three  billion just extorted from the EU to house refugees but also control northern Syria. Turkmen would be in charge of the area – as well as the Azez-Aleppo line, assuming the SAA does not clear it for good.

The case for UEBA

So Ankara is looking at two very unpleasant Turkmen-filled scenarios to say the least.

Turkmen becoming instruments of Ankara and gatekeepers against the Kurdish YPG; that means a nasty sectarian divide, orchestrated by Turkey, whose greatest loser is the unity of the Syrian nation.

Meanwhile, the SAA and Russian air power are on the verge of total control of Turkmen Mountain.

This will allow the “4+1” to go much deeper fighting against the so-called Army of Conquest and its twin-headed reptile, Jabhat al-Nusra (a.k.a. al-Qaeda in Syria) and Ahrar al-Sham, the whole lot “supported” and weaponized by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The “4+1” inexorable advance comes with extra benefits; the end of all rat lines in the region, and no more possible threats to Russia’s air base in Hmeimim.   

Make no mistake that Moscow will inflict as much pain on ‘Sultan’ Erdogan as possible.

As Turkish newspaper Radikal quoted him, Prof. Abbas Vali of Bogazici University confirmed, “The PYD was pleased about Russia’s intervention in Syria. An alliance between the PYD and Russia is inevitable. Russia’s bombardment of the radical Islamist groups on the ground will have a huge impact on the PYD operations.”

So no matter which way we look, Turkey and Russia are on a serious collision course in Syria. Moscow will support Syrian Kurds no holds barred as they push to link the three major Kurdish cantons in northern Syria into a unified Rojava.

As for Washington’s “strategy”, it now boils down to the CIA need for a new “rat line”. That could imply sitting on the – weaponizing – sidelines watching Turkmen and Kurds slug it out, thus creating an opening for the Turkish Army to intervene, and the Russian Air Force to prevent it, with all hell guaranteed to break loose.

‘Sultan’ Erdogan badly needs a new CIA-secured “rat line” to weaponize not only his fifth column Turkmen but also Chechens, Uzbeks and Uyghurs. And Bilal Erdogan, a.k.a. Erdogan Mini Me, desperately needs new oil smuggling routes and a couple of new tankers; Russia is watching their every move. The latest news from Russia’s Defense Ministry has struck like a volcanic eruption; the Erdogan family mob was branded as “criminals”, with Moscow presenting only an appetizer of the all the evidence it has in store.

So we have the Afghan heroin rat line. The Libyan oil racket (now over). The Ukraine fascist rat line. The Libya to Syria weapon rat line. The stolen Syrian oil trade. The northern Syrian rat lines. Let’s call them UEBA: Unregulated Exceptionalist Business Activities. What’s not to like? There’s no business like war business.


Pepe Escobar
 Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online. Born in Brazil, he's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of "Globalistan" (2007), "Red Zone Blues" (2007), "Obama does Globalistan" (2009) and "Empire of Chaos" (2014), all published by Nimble Books. His latest book is "2030", also by Nimble Books, out in December 2015.

The Bizarre Explanation for not Bombing ISIS

Smoke and fire from an Israeli bomb rises into the air ove Gaza Citygc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on the The Economic Collapse on November 29, 2015

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The Bizarre Explanation For Why The U.S. Has Avoided Bombing ISIS Oil Wells

What - Public DomainWhy hasn’t the U.S. bombed the oil wells that ISIS controls into oblivion by now?  Would you believe that it is because the Obama administration “didn’t want to do environmental damage”?  Former Deputy Director of the CIA Michael Morell has publicly admitted that we have purposely avoided damaging the main source of income for ISIS, and his explanation for why we were doing this is utterly bizarre.  But at this point what could the Obama administration say that would actually make sense?  Everyone now knows that ISIS has been making hundreds of millions of dollars selling oil in Turkey, and that this has been done with the full knowledge and complicity of the Obama White House.  This is potentially the biggest scandal of the entire Obama presidency, and yet so far the Republicans have not jumped on it.

If you or I even gave five bucks to ISIS, we would be arrested and hauled off to Guantanamo Bay.  And yet Barack Obama is allowing ISIS to funnel massive quantities of oil through our NATO ally Turkey, and he is not doing anything to stop this from happening.  It is a betrayal of the American people that is so vast that it is hard to put into words.

By now, virtually everyone on the entire planet knows exactly what is going on.  For example, Iraq’s former National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie shared the following on his Facebook page on Saturday

“First and foremost, the Turks help the militants sell stolen Iraqi and Syrian oil for $20 a barrel, which is half the market price.”

Until Russia started bombing the living daylights out of them, an endless parade of trucks carrying ISIS oil would go back and forth over the Turkish border completely unmolested.  Following the downing of a Russian SU-24 bomber by Turkey in an area where many of these trucks travel, Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to publicly air this dirty laundry.  Just check out what he told reporters following a meeting with French President Francois Hollande last week

Commercial-scale oil smuggling from Islamic State controlled territory into Turkey must be stopped, Putin said after meeting Hollande in Moscow.

Vehicles, carrying oil, lined up in a chain going beyond the horizon,” said Putin, reminding the press that the scale of the issue was discussed at the G20 summit in Antalya earlier this month, where the Russian leader demonstrated reconnaissance footage taken by Russian pilots.

The views resemble a living oil pipe stretched from ISIS and rebel controlled areas of Syria into Turkey, the Russian President stressed. Day and night they are going to Turkey. Trucks always go there loaded, and back from there – empty.

We are talking about a commercial-scale supply of oil from the occupied Syrian territories seized by terrorists. It is from these areas [that oil comes from], and not with any others. And we can see it from the air, where these vehicles are going,” Putin said.

If the Russians could see all of this, the U.S. military could see it too.  In fact, we have far better surveillance capabilities than the Russians do.

So why didn’t Obama put an end to this?

Well, as I mentioned above, former Deputy Director of the CIA Michael Morell told PBS that the Obama administration didn’t want “to create environmental damage”, and he insists that the oil wells are “infrastructure that’s going to be necessary to support the people when ISIS isn’t there anymore”.  The following comes from the Daily Caller

Appearing on PBS’s “Charlie Rose” on Tuesday, Rose pointed out that before the terrorist attacks in Paris, the U.S. had not bombed ISIS-controlled oil tankers.

Morell explained, “Prior to Paris, there seemed to be a judgment that … look, we don’t want to destroy these oil tankers because that’s infrastructure that’s going to be necessary to support the people when ISIS isn’t there anymore, and it’s going to create environmental damage. And we didn’t go after oil wells — actually hitting oil wells that ISIS controls because we didn’t want to do environmental damage and we didn’t want to destroy that infrastructure, right.”

In case you think that this is some sort of a joke, you can watch video of Morell making these comments on PBS below

 

After the horrific terror attacks in Paris, the Obama administration finally was shamed into bombing a few of these oil trucks.  But 45 minutes before the U.S. military bombed them, they dropped leaflets telling the truck drivers to “get out of your trucks now and run away from them”.

Leaflet

What kind of “war on terror” are we running?

Why in the world would we want to warn the terrorists to get away from their trucks?

Meanwhile, things between Russia and Turkey continue to get even more tense.  The Russians have slapped severe economic sanctions on the Turks, they have shut down all channels of communication with Turkey’s military, and they are bombing every Turkish vehicle that they can find inside Syria.  The following comes from a report that was put out by Debka

In the last two days, Putin has been found saying one thing and doing another: Although he declared that Russia would not go to war with Turkey for “stabbing it in the back”, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report that since Wednesday night, Nov. 25, Russian heavy bombers and warplanes have been hitting every Turkish vehicle moving or stationary inside Syria.

They bombed the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, located on the Turkey-Syria frontier, as well trailers and tractors parked in an area belonging to the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation, on the Syrian side of the border.

As I wrote about the other day, it has been documented that our NATO ally Turkey has been “training ISIS militants, funneling weapons to them, buying their oil, and tending to their wounded in Turkish hospitals”.  Now, heavy bombing by the Russians threatens to cut off those links

In addition to punishing the Turkish leader, Russia’s massive military operations in Syria aim to degrade the rebel groups fighting the Assad regime. Heavy bombing sorties this week on the Syrian-Turkish border are cutting off tens of thousands of rebels from their only source of fresh supplies of weapons, ammo, food and fighters, leaving them without a line of retreat and nowhere to send their wounded.

At this point, Russia and Turkey are very close to a state of war.

But as a member of NATO, the United States is obligated to help protect Turkey if a full-blown shooting war does break out.

We are closer to World War III than we have been in decades, and yet most Americans are still completely and totally oblivious to what is taking place.

Hopefully cooler heads will prevail, because things over in the Middle East threaten to spiral completely and totally out of control.

And here’s the top 10 terrorist list

terrorist-300x214gc2smOff the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Originally published in Asia Times on November 13, 2015

 


They might as well have hauled David Letterman from retirement to do it.

Episode two of the Vienna charade – sorry, the Syrian peace talks – this Saturday comes with a show biz package; all 20 players on the table are supposed to come up with a definitive Syria terrorist list. As in who gets a seat to talk about prospective Syria unity in the future, and who qualifies for being bombed.

This is inbuilt – Chinese box-style – in a truly surrealist ploy; a purported Syria peace plan that should include a ceasefire between Damascus and some “opposition groups.” As if ISIS/ISIL/Daesh goon squads would respect any ceasefire.

So imagine the frenzy at that Viennese table. One man’s jihadi is another man’s “freedom fighter.” Not to mention that according to the Beltway ethos, anyone subscribing to “Assad must go” is a “moderate rebel.”

The usual suspects – US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar – have unsurprisingly pre-empted the move, fiercely defending their (moderate) Rebels With a Cause. These are the ones that would respect democratic elections in Syria; respect other religious groups; would be willing to negotiate with anybody; would respect a ceasefire, de-weaponize and abide by the political transition; and would never engage in global jihad. All of the above, of course, if you take them at face value.

Sultan Erdogan, “moderate rebel” pin-up

Turkish Sultan Erdogan is the undisputed protector saint of “moderate rebels.” So let’s see how some outfits praised his recent electoral landslide.

What passes for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) sent congratulations. Same for Khaled Khoja, chairman of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.

The Army of Conquest, which groups all sorts of goons, from hardcore jihadis to discreet Salafis, and is heavily weaponized via Saudi money said, “We are ardently awaiting the day of Assad’s collapse and the building of brotherhood bridges between the people of Turkey and Syrians.”

The Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood – totally supported by the ruling AKP, not to mention Qatar – predictably praised the AKP and “the Turkish people.”

All in all, around 15 opposition outfits hailed the Sultan. These will definitely not make the Top Ten terrorist list.

But Vienna, we got a problem. Many, if not the majority of these outfits, are striking “non-hostility pacts” with ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. Daesh will lead the terrorist list. In fact it may be THE terrorist list itself; Jabhat al-Nusra, a.k.a. al-Qaeda in Syria, are regarded as “moderate rebels” by Washington. What gives?

Meanwhile, as reported by Lebanon’s Al Mayadeen, US military advisors are already training “moderate rebels” near Salma, in Latakia province, very close to Russia’s air base.

For his part Muhammad Bazarbashi, the leader of the Army of Damascus outfit (3,000 fighters north of Aleppo), told the Anatolian News Agency they are ready to help Ankara fight PKK/PYD Kurds in Syria. Compare it with the fact PKK/PYD are side-by-side with the Americans in the fight to liberate Sinjar in Iraq.

So expect NATO member Turkey to forcefully defend outfits such as these in Vienna – even if they go against American interests.

Bets can be made that Sultan Erdogan, now on a full-fledged ego trip, won’t admit his “strategy” in Syria is in tatters. Even the ultimately demented option – the Turkish Army invading northern Syria – is not out of the cards. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu – who buried his own “zero problems with our neighbors” policy – is now frantically spinning Turkey would join a hypothetical “coalition ground operation” targeting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, with Washington leading from behind.

Despair, or read Shelley

Ankara is planning by itself to send no less than 10,700 soldiers to invade northern Syria 46 kilometers deep in mid-December to allegedly fight ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. The real target would not be ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, of course; but PKK/PYD Kurds. And ultimately, that would pit Turkey directly against the “4+1” (Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq plus Hezbollah).

Neglecting all setbacks so far, Erdogan has not given up on his pet “buffer zone” north of Aleppo. That would be Erdogan’s “gift” to the EU: “solving” the refugee crisis via 17 security zones, 11 logistics bases and 6 refugee camps. Inside Syrian territory.

This is arguably Erdogan’s pièce de résistance at the G20 summit in Antalya starting this weekend. After unveiling the cake, he will pass the hat around the Big Table; after all he needs the cash to buy it. Russia, of course, reserves the right to smash the cake in the Sultan’s face.

Selected sound minds in the Pentagon – they do exist — must have been forced to admit that facing the recent advances of “4+1”, Erdogan’s dream is now a no-go.

Or not. Take this hallucinatory, straight from the Cheney regime-era spin that the US needs boots on the ground to “occupy” and even “govern” parts of Syria.

Vienna and Antalya may end up with a certified terrorist list of One (the fake “Caliphate”) and a check for the invasion of northern Syria.

The rest of us may find consolation in Shelley’s long-lost 1811 poem – composed when he was a 18-year-old student at Oxford – just acquired by the Bodleian Library, where he writes about “cold advisers of yet colder kings” and political leaders who lend “to each smooth rogue a courtier’s smile.”


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

The Caliph at the Gates of Vienna

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Originally published in Asia Times on October 29, 2015

 


History has a jolly habit of repeating itself as surrealist farce. Is it 1683 all over again, with the Ottoman Empire laying siege to Vienna just to be defeated by the “infidels” at the last minute?

No; it’s 2015 and a Caliph simulacrum – Ibrahim, a.k.a. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi — has prompted a gaggle of world powers, lesser powers and assorted minions to converge to Vienna to discuss how to defeat him.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Westphalians, we got a problem. None of this makes any sense if Iran is not at the table discussing a solution for the Syrian tragedy. Moscow knew it from the start. Washington — reluctantly — had to admit the obvious. But the problem was never Iran. The problem is the ideological matrix of goons who metastasize into Caliphs: Saudi Arabia.

Back — inevitably — to surrealism. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir stated, “The view of our partners … was that we should test the intentions of the Iranians and the Russians in arriving at a political solution in Syria, which we all prefer.”

Translation: “Our partners” means “His Masters’ Voice,” Washington; and the beheading-addicted oil hacienda does not “prefer” a political solution; they want regime change and a House of Saud satrapy.

Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, the EU, France and even Qatar — whose mini-emir wanted to launch his own military campaign for regime change before someone told him to shut up — are keeping company to Iran in Vienna, alongside the US, Russia, Turkey and the House of Saud.

Talk about parallel lives. One thing is a polite altercation inside a gilded Vienna palace. The shifting military sands across a Sykes-Picot-in-shambles “Syraq” tell a very different story.

Beware the new Global Jihad

The ideal solution is tempting; Russia dispatches the Spetsnaz and some extra commandos; beheads the ISIS/ISIL/Daesh goons from a C4i point of view; surrounds them; and wipes them out.

Yet it won’t happen, as long as Sultan Erdogan in Turkey, petrodollar GCC minions and the CIA persist to “support” and/or weaponize assorted Salafi-jihadi goons, “moderate” or otherwise.

The fake “Caliphate” will be a very tough nut to crack because they don’t – and won’t – care about their own mounting casualties. The “4+1” alliance – Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq plus Hezbollah – already knows it, and has already experienced trouble in their ranks.

Hezbollah took casualties. So did Iran’s Quds Force – as in reliable mid-level commanders. Iran has around 1,500 fighters on the ground – many of them Afghans – on the “4+1” side. On the opposite side we have the House of Saud funneling a lot of cash and TOW anti-tank missiles to the Army of Conquest, which is nothing but an al-Qaeda-led coalition of the willing displaying relatively overlapping agendas (first regime change, then Caliphate or Muslim Brotherhood reign).

There’s no evidence – yet – that ISIS/ISIL/Daesh has been depleted of the bulk of their shoulder-fired anti-aircraft plus anti-tank guided missiles.

So while Vienna talks, what is ISIS/ISIL/Daesh really up to?

They are about to choose between two different strategies.

  1. They dig in in Raqqa – the former capital of the Abbasid Caliphate, before Baghdad – waiting for a Mother of All Battles. After all they can’t afford to lose it, as Raqqa, geostrategically, is the ultimate crossroads in Syria. Former Ba’athist military and a cluster of Arab nationalists are lobbying for this strategy.
  1. Forget about digging in. The best is to expand the frontline, into the deeper desert, to the max. This means no clusters of targets available to the Russian Air Force, with the added benefit of the “4+1” – as in the Syrian Arab Army (SAA)/Iran/Hezbollah ground units supported by the Russian Air Force — overextending their lines of communication/supply and being faced with extra logistical problems. Hardcore Turks, Chechens, Uyghurs and Uzbeks are lobbying for this strategy.

Arguably the ISIS/ISIL/Daesh command is leaning towards option 2 – because of the Jihad Inc. component. At least 2,000 fake “Caliphate” goons – most of them from Chechnya, Turkey, Central Asia and Xinjiang – were killed in Kobani, which, unlike Raqqa, had no strategic value. The Jihad Inc. gang now wants to expand all the way to Central Asia, Xinjiang, Russia and, if they manage to find an opening, Europe and the US.

Option 2 also carries the added benefit, for fighting purposes, of extra support for “moderate jihadis” (not “rebels”), which means more interaction with Ahrar al-Sham, Liwa al-Tawhid, a few Army of Conquest factions, the Islamic Front and a bunch of Turkmen Salafi groups. None of these, by the way, are “moderate rebels”.

All these outfits would perfect mesh into an ISIS/ISIL/Daesh “expanding frontline” strategy, defended, among others, by one Muslim Shishani, Chechen commander of the Jund al-Sham, which is currently fighting around Latakia.

Shishani, significantly, told al-Jazeera Turk, “Fronts [such] as Raqqa and Aleppo will have no significance in a ground war against the Russians. The real war will be on the Tartus-Latakia front line. Jihad must be moved to that area.”

So imagine all of these outfits coalescing on an internal jihad plus global jihad platform, and still flush with cash. It’s no secret that Russian intel is alarmed by the high number of Chechens in the fake “Caliphate” ranks, not to mention Chinese intel regarding the Uyghurs. These may find very hard to return to Xinjiang; but the Chechens will be back in the Caucasus. That’s the famous “Aleppo is 900 km away from Grozny” syndrome.

To add to the royal mess, FSB director Alexander Bortnikov has already warned about a concentration of Taliban – many of whom pledged allegiance to the fake “Caliphate” — at Afghanistan’s northern borders with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. For Putin and the Russian intel apparatus, the situation in Afghanistan is “close to critical”. A jihad spillover across Central Asia is all but certain.

The bottom line, thus, is stark. Move over, al-Qaeda; ISIS/ISIL/Daesh is using the “4+1” offensive to forge its identity as the leader of a Global Jihad. Saudi imams anyway have already declared jihad against Russia. And the decrepit Al-Azhar in Cairo is about to do the same thing.

Check the Iranian game

There’s no evidence the Obama administration is about to admit all “moderate rebels” are, after all, jihadis. The ISIS/ISIL/Daesh command, anyway, is waiting; were that to happen – as in Washington sharing Moscow’s analysis – all outfits will switch to Global Jihad mode, led by the fake “Caliphate.”

Russian airstrike against ISIS in Syria

 

 

 

 

Russian airstrike against ISIS in Syria

It’s already murky enough as it stands. The mix of Syrian/Iranian ground intel plus the Russian air campaign have to make sure not only that ISIS/ISIL/Daesh does not have the hardware nor the manpower to defend Raqqa; they also need to cut off all their communication/supply lines with those jihadis who are fighting the “4+1” in western Syria.

Even under attack by the Russian Air Force, which forced a large number of goons and their families to flee Syria for the Western Iraq desert, ISIS/ISIL/Daesh managed to make progress in southern Aleppo, infiltrating al-Safira, and keeping control of at least 10 checkpoints along the crucial supply line that runs from Hama, through Salamiyeh, Ithriyah and Khanaser, all the way to Aleppo. The SAA simply cannot afford to lose this corridor; now that’s priority number one. Hundreds of thousands of Aleppo civilians, meanwhile, are trying to survive as de facto hostages.

It’s crucial to check out the Iranian game on the ground. The best source so far has been the deputy commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Brig. Gen. Husayn Salami, who talked extensively to the Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 2.

Salami – that’s the IRGC speaking – frames Syria as the “focal point of strategic efforts made by an international coalition” to implement a “destructive political scheme in the Islamic world.” By “international coalition” he means NATO plus the Saudis. Iran’s role is “guaranteeing the political, psychological, economic and military stability of the Syrian system.”

He frames Iran’s role on four levels. “On a strategic level, we support the Syrian government, nation and army politically and psychologically. As advisors, we transfer our war experiences to top commanders in the Syrian army. Actually, we are helping them modernize and rebuild the structure of the Syrian army … When it comes to the operational level, we are helping brigade commanders for example … This is why a number of our commanders are there and are helping in planning and devising operational strategies.” Iran also helps at a tactical and technical (logistic) level.

And here’s something absolutely key – as well as anathema for the House of Saud; “Our national security is intertwined with the security of important parts of the Islamic world, the national security of Syria. This is the main philosophy behind our presence [in Syria].” The nuance that US Think Tankland is incapable of spotting is this doesn’t have anything to do with keeping Assad in power forever, as Iranian diplomats are now saying on the record.

Salami also stressed Russia went into Syria because otherwise it would have to fight jihad at home (that’s exactly what the Chechens at ISIS/ISIL/Daesh want). Putin’s Syria strategy, by the way, has been fully supported by the speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, who was a key guest at the Valdai summit last week.

I’m the Caliph; hear me roar

Faced with the Russian/Iranian strategy, what is the Empire of Chaos to do?

Murk the already murky sands, what else? That sorry lot that passes for Obama’s “senior national security advisers” has recommended positioning US Special Forces closer to ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in Syria.

This special “guidance” is supposed to help the coalition known as Democratic Forces of Syria – which is led by the YPG Kurds – to take Raqqa. But that does not necessarily mean US Special Forces will be fighting alongside the “4+1” towards the same objective. After all, we’re always thrown back deep into Geopolitics Surrealistan – where the US-led Coalition of the Dodgy Opportunists (CDO) totally ignores what the “4+1” are doing. And don’t forget intra-coalition hatred — as in Ankara abhorring the US insistence on working with Syrian Kurds.

As for Iraq, the Obama administration and the Pentagon now barely qualify as the butt end of running jokes. Sunnis in Anbar province are furious that the mightiest satellite surveillance system in history simply failed to register ISIS/ISIL/Daesh’s advances, from Tikrit to Ramadi and environs.

To add a final insult to (repeated) injuries – as in the “4+1” intel center in Baghdad, excluding the US, plus the authorization for Russia to bomb fake “Caliphate” convoys trying to cross from the Syrian desert – Baghdad and the EU have just agreed to set up yet another intel center to exchange data on ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. The bottom line is the Obama administration is absolutely terrified that the EU is inclined to support the Russian campaign – increasingly regarding the CDO for what it is; a joke.

The near future offers even more dangerous surrealist instances; think of the Obama administration helping Shi’ite militias to take Mosul in Iraq back from ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, and at the same time helping Kurds in Syria to take back Raqqa, an Arab city. All hell is bound to break loose between Sunnis across “Syraq” and Americans – and ISIS/ISIL/Daesh will mightily profit from it.

As it stands, there’s not going to be a frontal attack on Aleppo by the SAA and Iran/Hezbollah, covered by the Russian Air Force; instead, the “4+1” strategy will be to disrupt to the max the logistical supply routes to all Salafi-jihadi outfits, which implies trying to cut off the flux of cash and weapons smuggled via Turkey.

But once again; what about the Empire of Chaos?

The Obama administration is essentially fighting — sort of — ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in Iraq, where Washington lost a multi-trillion dollar war. Team Obama never bothered to fight the fake “Caliphate” in Syria — because they were contributing to the “Assad must go” agenda.

Sultan Erdogan – with Ankara at the table in Vienna – is still allowed to have a free-for-all border out of which ISIS/ISIL/Daesh profits handsomely. And the paranoid, Shi’ite-hating House of Saud – with Riyadh at the table in Vienna – is still allowed to shower all manner of Salafi-jihadi goons with all manner of weapons. This is what passes for Obama’s policy in Syria, as the Caliph’s roaring laughter can be heard all the way to Vienna.


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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Quote from: Surly1 on Today at 08:36:22 AMQuote from: RE on Today at 07:41:54 AMQuote from: Eddie on Today at 07:09:06 AMWhat a fine mess. Looks like it'...

Quote from: Surly1 on Today at 08:36:22 AMQuote from: RE on Today at 07:41:54 AMQuote from: Eddie on Today at 07:09:06 AMWhat a fine mess. Looks like it'...

Quote from: Surly1 on Today at 08:19:06 AMQuote from: Eddie on Today at 08:10:36 AMI had to take a 20 minute detour this morning because the main road in front of my neighborhood was clo...

Quote from: RE on Today at 07:41:54 AMQuote from: Eddie on Today at 07:09:06 AMWhat a fine mess. Looks like it's going to be bad for some time. Wow!On the comparison scale, it ...

Quote from: Eddie on Today at 08:10:36 AMI had to take a 20 minute detour this morning because the main road in front of my neighborhood was closed because someone clipped a telephone pole last night, or a utility pole ...

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This Week In Doom Sept. 16: Florence

The Diner as seen on GEI: “(The Weather Chile’s Mike) Seidel appeared to be waging a valiant struggle against the elements, swaying back and..

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Our Planet Is Angry

We aren’t necessarily seeing more large storms. We’re seeing the usual storm activity jumping into overdrive, as The Washington Post’s..

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This Week in Doom Sept. 16: Florence

“Hurricane Florence stormed the East Coast this week inducing dread that roiled millions and left seventeen dead as of Sunday. When they tot..

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China says it will retaliate after Trump imposes fresh tariffs

Dept. of What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Trump hits China with fresh tariffs, threatens more if Beijing retaliates-

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Leave no dark corner– China is building a digital dictatorship to exert control over its 1.4 billion citizens. For some, “social credit”..

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Knarf’s Knewz

Quote from: Eddie on March 13, 2018, 05:21:10 PMAl [...]

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A new study found that the Great Recession correla [...]

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Of all of these stories that moved today, I think [...]

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Quote from: Eddie on March 13, 2018, 05:21:10 PMAl [...]

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Quote from: knarf on March 13, 2018, 03:25:04 PM [...]

A new study found that the Great Recession correla [...]

From 2003 to 2005, Gina Haspel was a senior offici [...]

My good fortune in life was to find a good mentor [...]

Quote from: Eddie on September 17, 2018, 08:23:27 [...]

These glitches are a pain in the ass. I was pretty [...]

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I got the new permanent D/L in the mail, which I a [...]

I got over to the USPS today for the Passport Rene [...]

You know that we always write the month first on b [...]

Quote from: Eddie on August 31, 2018, 06:59:21 AMO [...]

Alternate Perspectives

  • Two Ice Floes
  • Jumping Jack Flash
  • Error

Mother Nature Shows Off Her Stuff By Cognitive Dissonance     Mrs. Cog and I live on the edge of the [...]

Control the Narrative and You Control the People By Cognitive Dissonance   It is extremely difficult [...]

Impotence and Denial: The Desperate Virtue Signaling Voices By Cognitive Dissonance     Regardless o [...]

A Near Death Experience: Back from the Brink By Cognitive Dissonance   In an odd sort of way I am fa [...]

Bob By Cognitive Dissonance     Mrs. Cog has an ironclad rule honed and confirmed by decades of expe [...]

Event Update For 2018-09-16http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2018-09-15http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2018-09-14http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2018-09-13http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2018-09-12http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

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Sustainability

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Cherry Blossom Soap"China’s real wealth is not yuan but cherry blossoms."No longer having a television at hom [...]

Sustainablin…"Guided by an unquenchable passion for meaning and impact."We are participating in a 4 wee [...]

Eco-Civ 101"We are the people who are eating the first crabs."I have never been terribly fond of citi [...]

Angels in Carbon Paradise"Being co-evolutionary, Gaia tried to keep pace with our evolution but lately has given that up [...]

Slow Thinking"Plastics and climate change have a lot in common with a broken Maytag." The sudden emerge [...]

The folks at Windward have been doing great work at living sustainably for many years now.  Part of [...]

 The Daily SUN☼ Building a Better Tomorrow by Sustaining Universal Needs April 3, 2017 Powering Down [...]

Off the keyboard of Bob Montgomery Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Friend us on Facebook Publishe [...]

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To fight climate change, you need to get the world off of fossil fuels. And to do that, you need to [...]

Americans are good on the "thoughts and prayers" thing. Also not so bad about digging in f [...]

In the echo-sphere of political punditry consensus forms rapidly, gels, and then, in short order…cal [...]

Discussions with figures from Noam Chomsky and Peter Senge to Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama off [...]

Lefty Greenies have some laudable ideas. Why is it then that they don't bother to really build [...]

Top Commentariats

  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

Interesting.... does this mean I should open the fire door on the Rayburn and allow some of the blac [...]

Whatever it takes... means WHATEVER it takes. And so far.... it is working.... it is staving off the [...]

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/01/China%20National%20Team [...]

https://pinkblockchain.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/4-phuong-dien-bitcoin-van-dung-cartel-ep-gia-l [...]

Modern nation survive through debt. Credit issuers that issue credit backed by oil seem to do the be [...]

Why fetishize debt/GDP? Because it is a trend that never ends. It is chronic, not some temporary flu [...]

Charles Hugh Smith is saying that since 2008 the central banks of the world have been buying up zill [...]

Steve, have you read this author? http://michael-hudson.com/2007/08/why-the-miracle-of-compound-inte [...]

Absolutely true. I am waiting for someone to say that debt can increase faster than income forever. [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

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Simplifying the Final Countdown

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Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

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Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

Discuss this article @ the ECONOMICS TABLE inside the...

Singularity of the Dollar

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Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

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SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

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Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

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Merry Doomy Christmas

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Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

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Collapse Fiction

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Technical Journals

El Niño–Southern Oscillation strongly influences rainfall and temperature patterns in Eastern Austra [...]

In this study, the authors evaluated the spatial and temporal variability of rainfall over the centr [...]

Despite the interest in detecting the extremes of climate in the West African Sahel, few studies hav [...]