Road to Damascus is through Ankara

Qatar and Saudi Arabia find it convenient to finance the bullets being supplied to Syrian Free Officers based in southern Turkey. The Arab tribal states would not dare consider opening war fronts on their boundaries no matter how far. They dont have an army to defend themselves and besides its always easier to fund raise another country’s war which in the end benefits the tribal heads.

Take for example the Iran-Iraq war. After nearly 10 years of destruction to his country Saddam came to realise he had been duped by the tribes he had considered to be his “sunni” brothers. Iraq was a bulwark against Iranian popularity in the Arabian Gulf. Shiites were feared as possible corners of revolt against the monarchs whose rule depended completely on peoples’ loyalty to their clan and US-NATO backing. Khomeini’s popular slogan to export the Islamic revolution was knocking the living daylights out of the sunni kings and they found Saddam stupid enough to do their work. He fought an insane and ridiculous war with Iran costing a few million men dead, hundred billion dollars lost, and a region in devastation.

Saddam had to once again prove his extraordinary genius this time by attacking the little emirate of Kuwait inviting the whole world to come and shred his country into 3 pieces. That was still not enough for him. He had to wait another 12 years for the final assault before the Iraqi army of 250 thousand strong was annihilated by the US in the 2003 war. 

The point being Iraq was never the target for invasion nor the object of admiration. Iran was the country which had to be stopped by the sheikhs and Iraq was their answer. So long as they needed Saddam to fight their war they were ready to bank roll him. When the job was done he was no longer indispensible. 

It’s the same thing repeating all over again this time with Turkey and Syria as the new players. This time Turkey has replaced Iraq and Syria replaced Iran. The threat is still Iranian popularity amongst the shii population in the Arab Gulf. Turkey with its strong army can do what Iraq did to Iran, pin Syria down for a long drawn war. Grow the fear of shiite takeover of sunnis amongst the population and use the sectarian political game to keep the common people away from any unified stand. Will Turkey fall for this?

More reading from a strategic site:

The North Atlantic Council emergency session called upon the request from Turkey condemned the Syrian “aggressive acts”. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance had a plan to defend Turkey with force as a NATO member according to the article 5 of the organization’s charter. The Turkish parliament urgently made a decision authorizing a “right” to conduct trans-boundary military operations that is to start military action against Syria any time…

The Turkish armed forces began to concentrate artillery, armor and air units at the Syrian border. Turkish Chief of General staff visited the area and made some hostile statements. Prime Minister Erdogan spoke by and large along the same lines with the only reservation that his country “had no intention of starting a war”. It should be noted that the majority of Turks doesn’t support the anti-Syrian policy of their leadership. The fact is corroborated by mass demonstrations with “no to war” slogans and critical views expressed by parliamentary opposition. It can be understood. Curbing ties with Syria has damaged economy, internal instability is on the rise. Kurdish radical organizations intensify their activities; extremists come to Turkey together with the Syrian refugees. The incident with the Syrian civilian airliner, that was made land by Turkish fighters, added fuel to the fire. The aircraft allegedly had arms on board. In reality it happened to be radar parts. The Turkish authorities committed this act of hostility against Russia and Syria after detailed consultations with Washington. It’s a known fact a Syrian militants training camp is situated in the Syrian territory, the arms are paid for by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The CIA experts are among those who distribute the weapons.

The USA and NATO use Turkey as a “battering ram” to destroy Syria and eliminate it for being an ally of Iran and a potential threat to Israel. Incapacitating Syria will make easier the destruction of Iranian nuclear program and quelling Hezbollah in Lebanon, the movement that poses a threat to the Jewish state, especially after it launched an Iran-made unmanned aerial vehicle over the Israeli nuclear facilities…

At that Turkey doesn’t play the role of a Western puppet on a string in the given situation, even if it is acting in line with global NATO policy. It has its own goals in Syria besides the so to say “Euro-Atlantic interests.”

First, Ankara is interested in supporting Syrian anti-government groups where Syrian Muslim Brothers make up the major striking element. The contemporary leadership of the country is represented by the Turkish association of Muslim Brothers. The incumbent Prime Minister was jailed under the military regime for his fidelity to Islam. At present the influence of military is significantly curbed. 650 acting senior commissioned officers and 250 retirees are put behind bars as a result of bringing top military officials to court. They are the so called “elite of Kemal”, who support the secular ideology Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of Turkish Republic. It should be noted the members of Sufi tarikats (religious orders), especially Nаqshbandi and Iskander-Pasha, are actively pushed to key top state positions. The Sunni Islam values are becoming more and more important in Turkey. The overthrow of secular Baath regime in Syria and preparation of Syrian Muslim Brothers to get hold of power fully meet the interests of the incumbent Turkish leadership.

Second, the Turkish leaders position themselves as the heirs and assigns of the Ottoman Empire and do their best to strengthen the Turkey’s stand as a regional center of power. That’s where the expansionism towards Syria and other states comes from. Turkey has territorial claims on Syrian territories. For instance, Alexandret Sanjak that is part of Syria since the end of WWI. Turkey never forgot Syria was part of the Ottoman Empire for four hundred years. That’s why Syria’s dismemberment, inevitable if Bashar Assad is toppled, meets the interests of the Turkish ruling top.

Third, at present the Turkey’s interests are concentrated on toppling the incumbent Syrian regime, they match the interests of Sunni Persian Gulf monarchies, first of all Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It’s important for them to get rid of Syria, because it’s an ally of Shiite Iran, a country they see as a threat since the days of Iranian revolution of 1979.

The Turkey’s geopolitical ambitions go far beyond Syria. Turkey has actively pursued its interests in the Muslim regions of the Russian Federation and Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union. Suffice it to mention Turkish-Tatar colleges in Tatarstan and the same type of educational centers in the republics of Central Asia where teaching is done in Turkish and English. The graduates (the author has had a chance to meet some of them) automatically become champions of the Turkish great power doctrine. Turkey never leaves attempts to strengthen its clout in Crimea. It comes to memory that during the first and the second Chechen wars the Chechen militants found refuge in Turkey.

It is assumed that in cases of hypothetical downfall of the Bashar Assad’s regime, US-Israeli strike against Iran and unleashing a large-scale military conflict in the “Greater Middle East” that would get close to the Caucasus and further to the South of Russia, Turkey will not lose the opportunity to treat itself to the “Russian pie”.

Everything said doesn’t mean it’s the time to go back to the days of Cold War and curb the relations with Turkey. To the contrary these relations should be broadened and deepened. It relates to economic projects, interaction in managing political issues, including the management of Syrian crisis. There is a statement by Syrian National Council based in Istanbul that attracts attention. The Council is the most well-known group of Syrian opposition. The statement confirms its agreement to consider the possibility of armistice with the Syrian authorities. Damascus has also expressed its willingness to start talks. The Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Turkey, re-scheduled on December this year, can play a very positive role. Nevertheless, while having contacts with Turkey, Russia should be as scrupulous as never while analyzing all possible options of the way the events may develop in the most “hot” spots of the world.

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One thought on “Road to Damascus is through Ankara

  1. Thanks for every other excellent article. Where else may just anyone get that kind of info in such a perfect manner of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I’m on the look for such information.

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