With Allies like Turkey and Saudi Arabia the US doesn’t need Enemies: Erdogan Must Go
By Vojin Joksimovich, PhD
Modern Tokyo Times
Turkey and Saudi Arabia, routinely referred to as the United States (US) Middle East allies, have been implicated supporting the Islamic State (IS) or ISIS or ISIL (term used by president Obama) or Daesh (Arabic name); Salafists, Al Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front and other jihadists pursuing the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) agenda conspiracy to break up Syria and Iraq in order to create a Sunni Salafi area at the expense of Shiite Muslims, Alawites, Christians, Kurds, Sunni Muslims who support central forces and Armenians. Together with Qatar, and to a lesser extent with other Gulf States, the two have acted as the IS godfathers. In an Orwellian riddle the US, while publicly claiming the leadership of the 65 nation anti-IS coalition, has de facto been implicitly supporting the IS insurgency by allowing Turkey and Saudi Arabia to set the direction of US policy, which kept war in Syria burning with immense human suffering. The US support for supposedly “moderate” groups operating in Syria has served only to strengthen jihadists and the notorious Al -Nusra in particular. There is no such thing as a “moderate terrorist.” The US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have de facto created a new Afghanistan on the shores of the Mediterranean.
The US support for Sunni Salafi militants is illustrated best with frequently repeated demands that the duly elected Syrian president Bashar al-Assad must go. Since 2011, President Obama and the mainstream media have been calling for Assad to step down. Another “regime change” was in the making following the precedents of: Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Muammar Gadhafi in Libya, and Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine. The “regime change” has been a specialty of the “Washington war party” consisting of duopoly of neocons and neoliberals like Hillary Clinton. Two former national security advisers have been critical of the Obama administration policies. Brzezinski: “Assad has more support than any group opposing him.” Scowcroft said: “I’m not really sure we knew what we were doing.”
On the other hand, Assad has been supported by Iran, Russia, Hezbollah in Lebanon and central forces in Iraq. If Assad falls, a slaughter of Christians, Alawites, loyal Sunni Muslims and others would follow and the battle for control of Damascus would be between IS and al-Nusra.
As of September 30 last year Russia joined the military conflict in support of Assad but also to fend off a terror threat to Russia by about 2,000 IS fighters from the former Soviet republics. Russia has not only started destroying IS but discovered an incredible complicity of the US/NATO ally, insidious Turkey led by Turkish President “Sultan” Erdogan, who has been supporting MB chapters around the world. The Sunni Salafi and Muslim Brotherhood coalition caused a civil war in Syria, which led to 270,000 fatalities and several million refugees. Turkey responded to Russian intervention by shooting down a Russian warplane. After the Paris massacre on November 13 by the IS inspired radical Islamists, the French declared war on IS and joined Russia in the heavy bombing of Raqqa, the capital of the IS Caliphate. Currently, it seems more appropriate to replace the slogan Assad must go with “Erdogan must go.” Probably as a result of the Russian intervention the State Department announced a stunner that “bringing peace to Syria was the top 2015 win.” Let us hope so.
Saudi Arabia, one of the worst human rights abusers on the planet, has been complicit with most terrorist organizations including Al Qaeda and ISIS but that requires a separate article.
Turkey shoot-down a Russian Warplane Su-24
On November 24, Turkish air-to-air missile fired by a US-supplied F-16 killed a Russian pilot. Also, there was a subsequent death of a Russian marine on a search-and-rescue mission killed by a US-made TOW missile. Turkmen rebels, who are seen on a video shouting “Allah Akhbar” over the pilot’s dead corpse, killed the Russian pilot. However, a Turkish citizen Alpaslan Celik boasted that he murdered the Russian pilot. This was an episode without precedent even during the Cold War.
According to an account based on Turkish data, the Russian Su-24 strayed into a slice of Turkish territory for 17 seconds and ignored repeated warnings; Russia denies that. It is the first time a NATO country has downed a Russian plane in more than a half century. The Turkish Prime Minister (PM) Ahmet Davutoglu claimed that he ordered the shoot-down, which triggered a bitter falling out between the two countries that had developed close economic ties over the last 15 years. The Turkish media portrays Davutoglu as a “Turkish Kissinger.” His shoot-down order cannot possibly be compared with a move Kissinger would make. Russia immediately deployed the state-of-the-art S-400 anti-aircraft missile system to protect its planes in Syria after this event and slammed an array of economic sanctions on Turkey. It demanded that Turkey arrest the Russian pilot murderer.
Russian president Putin characterized the shoot-down as “stab in the back” and “treacherous war crime” and complained: “We told our US partners in advance where, when at what altitude our pilots were going to operate. The US-led coalition, which includes Turkey, was aware of the time and place where our planes would operate. And this is exactly where and when we were attacked. Why did we share this information with the Americans? Either they don’t control their allies, or they just pass this information left and right without realizing what the consequences of such actions might be.” In addition, Putin suggested that the Turkish attack was in retaliation of Russia’s bombings of a truck convoys carrying IS oil, stolen from Syria, to Turkey and an attempt to disrupt the formation of a grand alliance to destroy the IS. Subsequently on the sidelines of the Paris meeting Putin said that Russia has “received additional information confirming that oil from the deposits controlled by IS militants has been entering Turkish territory on industrial scale.” A senior State Department official estimated that IS was making $1-1.5 million daily selling oil, sufficient to finance recruitment of fighters and military supplies. This is likely an underestimate. Why is it that the US-led coalition didn’t stop it? Presumably, because Turkey is a sacrosanct NATO allied power?
On December 2, the Russian Defense Ministry invited several hundred journalists and military attaches to a briefing. This resulted in reconnaissance photos taken from satellites and aircraft that were presented in order to provide the existence of a massive logistical operations of columns of trucks loaded with oil crossing into Turkey from the IS controlled territory in Syria and Iraq. The illicit oil was transported to processing facilities for domestic use and to port installations from where it was shipped to third countries. The key points were identified explicitly.
The ministry also accused Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family of personally benefiting from the oil trade with the IS, however without providing hard evidence. Putin said: “We know who in Turkey is stuffing his pockets and letting the terrorists prosper.” Moscow accused Erdogan’s 34-yr son, Bilal Erdogan, of profiting as a partner in the BMZ Group, Turkish oil and shipping company that has purchased oil from the IS. Davutoglu has dismissed the Russian allegations as “Soviet-style propaganda,” while Erdogan the called it “slander” and pledged to step down if Russia proves its accusations. This writer asserts that the US/NATO should have jumped on his pledge demanding his resignation or to threaten expulsion of Turkey from NATO unless he resigns. Instead both the US and NATO have defended him! In other words, a pathetic and irresponsible stance is being taken.
Russian TV gave extensive coverage of this extraordinary briefing but for those having no access to Russian TV there was silence. Not a word in the New York Times (NYT) or leading German and British dailies. The French were the odd man out, but in a very qualified way, according to Gilbert Doctorow: “News Blackout: Civil society living in near total ignorance” writing in Une parole franche. Furthermore, Doctorow wrote: “Is it any wonder that your average, well educated, public minded American, Briton, Frenchman, or Belgian is largely clueless about the key international events that are today leading the international community to the brink of world war after reading his or her favorite newspaper of record, be it The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Figaro or Le Soir, and after catching the news bulletins on local state television, or Euronews, or the BBC for that matter.”
Obama and NATO defend Erdogan
Immediately after the shoot-down President Obama offered a knee-jerk justification. He asserted Turkey’s right to defend its territory and air space despite the fact that Su-24, even if it strayed, had no hostile intentions against Turkey. Two explanations come to mind.
One, it seems Obama is more afraid of neocons that dominate the Washington think tanks, mainstream media including the TV news such as Fox News, and hold key positions in his own administration than provoking a conceivable nuclear confrontation with Russia. An example is Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, whose husband Kagan is a leading neocon ideologue. She is widely known for her instruction to the US ambassador in Kiev to “f… the EU.” Mike Averko, New York based foreign policy analyst, wrote that neocons (and to a good extent neoliberals) are great at understanding the world through their limited mindset. It is imperative that the US become less dependent on “their limited mindsets” or the planet might become a nuclear wasteland.
Second, Obama and Erdogan have established a special working relationship. In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria president Obama has listed Erdogan among the five world leaders he has close personal ties with. It quickly comes to mind that the two are ideologically on the same page in their love of the Muslim Brotherhood. Erdogan, who has received an honorary doctorate from Qatar University in Doha on December 2, is a Sunni Islamist as best demonstrated by his dismantling of Kemal Ataturk’s secular Turkey. He departed from Ataturk’s prudent foreign policy: peace at home, peace abroad, and no adventures. Nonetheless, the western media portrays Turkey as a moderate Muslim nation that serves as an example that democracy and Islam can co-exist. Obama has taken every opportunity presented to defend Islam, even at the expense of the security of American citizens. His White House has been inventing absurd narratives such as “workplace violence” instead of a radical Sunni Islamist terrorist act. In 2009, a joint terrorism task force overseen by the FBI concluded that Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a US born Palestinian Muslim, wasn’t linked to terrorism. Major Hasan after shouting ”Allah Akbar” murdered 13 soldiers at Fort Hood military base in Texas and wounded two dozen. Obama said that he was at a loss for an explanation!!
For decades Turkey has used its NATO membership to achieve own goals, which are often in conflict with the interests of the Alliance. The shooting-down of the Su-24 is an excellent example. Why should NATO member states be interested in escalating tensions with Russia? Czech-based journalist Martin Berger has called attention to the fact that “since the MB came to power in Turkey, the country has become a serious headache rather than a reliable partner in the western block.” When Turkey joined NATO in 1952; it was a coup for Western Europe and the US. Turkey had control of the strategically important Bosporus Strait and the Dardanelles. In addition, Turkey was a secular doorway into the oil-rich Middle East. However, it’s now 2015. The Soviet Union imploded a quarter of century ago. The Middle East is in an absolute mess. After 63 years Turkey has turned into NATO’s biggest liability in the region.
Shared values have disappeared with the birth of the Party of Justice and Development (AKP) in 2001 – gaining two thirds of seats in the 2002 parliament. It was a watershed event for Turkish secular society. The Kemalists were reduced to observing social changes. This could be called the Turkish spring leading subsequently to the Arab ones marking the arrival of Sunni Islamism to power led by the MB. Erdogan and former Turkish president Gul have been the gravediggers of Turkish secularism. The Turkish military, which for years was the guardian of Kemalism has lost its mission during the AKP’s rise to power. Erdogan and Gul supporters were appointed to key military positions, de facto a coup-de-etat.
Erdogan has made it his duty to create “pious generations.” There are more than 80,000 mosques in Turkey. Erdogan considers Muslims as their brothers anywhere in the world despite the fact Turkey is multiethnic and multi-confessional – and, the ironic reality, that Turkey is fueling sectarianism and killing the mainly Sunni Muslim Kurds. During an official visit to Kosovo in October 2013 Erdogan stated: “We all belong to a common history, common culture, common civilization. We are the people who are brethren of that structure. Do not forget, Turkey is Kosovo, Kosovo is Turkey.” The Turkish policy in the Balkans promotes a neo-Ottoman agenda aimed at expanding its influence in the space of the former Ottoman Empire. Turkey exports Sunni Islamism under the guise of cultural cooperation. According to David Philips, who served in the State Department during the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, “the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) is a primary vehicle through which Turkey advances its ideological agenda. TIKA is the Vanguard of Turkey’s AKP, which supports MB chapters around the world.” In his article Turkey’s Islamist Agenda in Kosovo, Phillips explains in depths how TIKA operates in Kosovo. Davutoglu during a visit to Bosnia said: “The Ottoman centuries of the Balkans were a success story. Now we have to reinvent this. Turkey is back.” Erdogan’s dreams of empire are likely to be perilous to Turkey. Taking on Russia, which has defeated the Ottoman Empire 17 times is the best example.
Erdogan requested an extraordinary meeting of NATO ambassadors seeking NATO support. The Turkish ambassador ironically was telling the French and Belgian ambassadors, countries practically under martial law due to recent IS inspired Sunni Islamist terrorist attacks, that Turkey was justified in shooting down the Russian plane that which was trying to kill IS and other sectarian jihadists! NATO said that the Su-24 had violated Turkish airspace. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, stated: “We have repeatedly made clear, we stand in solidarity with Turkey and support the territorial integrity of our NATO ally.” Subsequently, Stoltenberg announced that NATO decided to send to Turkey planes and ships to strengthen Turkish defenses on the border with Syria. If Russia decided to strike back, there would have been a distinct possibility that Ankara would invoke Article V of the NATO Treaty and demand that the US/NATO come in on the Turkish fight with Russia. Yet the nuclear war possibility was not discussed anywhere that I saw. Have NATO members lost their minds or do they also have a “limited mindsets” like the US neocons?
Sultan Erdogan’s Turkey: A Pariah Nation
David Phillips, now Director of the Program of Peace Building at Columbia University wrote: “Turkey’s role has not been ambiguous it has overtly supported the ISIL. It has provided logistical support, money, weapons, transport and healthcare to wounded warriors.” For example, a killed IS commander’s cell phone showed direct ties to Turkish intelligence (MIT). Since 2012, city of Adana, about 100 km from the Syrian border became a “nerve center” staffed by intelligence operatives from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the US. Turkey invaded northern Iraq without Iraq’s consent allegedly to protect itself against IS attacks on a Turkish training camp. Iraq’s cabinet authorized PM Haider al-Abadi to ask for UN action, which didn’t happen. Russia called Turkish deployment illegal and inadmissible. Turkish artillery has also rained shells on the Kurdish community of Kobane and in other areas.
As an ultimate hypocrisy, six Turkish F-16s violated Greek air space over the Aegean Sea on December 1. This incident is one of many airspace violations committed by Turkey; on October 9 the Greek authorities reported 39 violations. The Hellenic National Defense claimed that since 2011, more than 7,000 Turkish violations of Greek airspace took place. The Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had strong words for his counterpart Davutoglu: “Fortunately our pilots are not as mercurial as yours against the Russians.” The Greeks need S-400 but probably cannot afford it. Turkey has also been violating Armenian airspace.
The bad blood between Russia and Turkey is spreading to Armenia and Azerbaijan. The two former Soviet republics have been at loggerheads since a six-year war over an ethnic Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan called Nagorno-Karabakh that ended in 1994. Armenia, a Russian ally, now controls Nagorno-Karabakh, while Azerbaijan is a Turkish ally. Russia maintains a military base in Armenia and has sent 7,000 troops on the border with Turkey. Azerbaijan is also mobilizing. It should be remembered that Armenians once comprised the majority population in what is now Eastern Turkey. By the end of the genocide, conducted first by Abdul Hamid II known as the Red Sultan and his successors the Young Turks between 1896 and 1915, Armenia was less than one quarter of original size, and three quarters had been slaughtered in the name of Islam and nationalism. Turkey has successfully lobbied the US Congress from recognizing the Armenian genocide threatening to sever security ties. Armenia and Greece condemned Turkish support for IS and the Turkish shooting-down of the Russian warplane. “We condemn the activities of Turkey against our strategic partner. We think that Turkey’s underground activities do not allow implementation of measures directed against terrorism.”
The main Turkish Opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) member Eren Erdem told Russia Today (RT) that the IS in Syria received all necessary materials to produce sarin gas via Turkey but assembled in Syria. Erdem insisted that there are grounds to believe a cover up has taken place. Addressing parliamentarians, Erdem showed a copy of the criminal case number 2013/120 that was opened by the General Prosecutor’s Office in the city of Adana.
Sarin gas was used in a notorious attack in Ghouta, killing hundreds of civilians (US claimed 1,429 victims, while France claimed 281), near the Syrian capital of Damascus in 2013. The US blamed the Syrian leadership and President Assad. Syria dismissed the US claim and stated it was “full of lies,” while Putin said it was nonsense. Assad had crossed Obama’s “red line” against the use of chemical weapons, but Obama at the last minute decided not to launch military attacks. The United Kingdom Prime Minister Cameron also lost the Syria vote, while Germany ruled out participation. The republicans have been and continue to be critical accusing Obama of “weakness for not following through.” In the end Assad accepted Russian advice and agreed to get rid of the chemical weapons stockpile under UN-brokered deal. Supposedly conclusive proof against Assad came in a “vector analysis” developed by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the New York Times (NYT). However, that analysis collapsed as reported by legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. The New Yorker refused to publish it. Rebuffed Hersh took his story to the London Review of Books in order to get it out in April 2014.
This writer was skeptical that Assad was behind the Ghouta massacre in view of his knowledge of the “false flag” methodology practiced in the Balkans to blame the Serbs. For example, Bosnian Muslims had staged the massacre at the Sarajevo Markale market just like the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) staged the Racak massacre in Kosovo that was used by President Clinton to launch a 78-day war against Serbia in violation of every international law in the books. Incidentally, Alija Izerbegovic’s security team member testified in The Hague recently that Izetbegovic and the Islamic chief Mustafa Ceric ordered the massacre. In the case of Racak, Hashim Thaci, former leader and now the Kosovo deputy PM, admitted that the KLA staged the massacre. My article Obama’s War with Assad: Flimsy Evidence, “Kosovo Model” and Saudi Involvement published by Modern Tokyo Times on September 5, 2013, alluded to this reality. Senator John McCain, perpetual warmonger, argued that the 1999 bombing of Serbia and so called “Kosovo Model” should have been implemented for the resolution of the Syrian dilemma.
On November 17 at a friendly soccer match between Turkey and Greece a group of Turkish spectators interrupted a minute of silence honoring victims of the November 13 Paris massacre, chanting slogans and shouting “Allahu Akbar.” This episode shouldn’t be dismissed as an act of hooliganism as it stems from Erdogan’s domestic and foreign policies. A sizeable segment of Turkish society approves of IS terrorism. Erdogan failed to condemn this disrespect shown towards Paris victims. A similar event happened on October 10 during a one minute of silence to honor the Turkish citizens-mostly Kurds and Alevis (one of the largest and least familiar religious minorities) that had been killed during a suicide bombings in Ankara attributed to IS. Furthermore, Turkish nationals have emerged as the perpetrators in internal bombings that are attributed to IS, indicating recruitment from among the local populace. Yet Erdogan shows sympathy for the IS and insists the West is the source of the problem. He blamed the West for the flow of international jihadists to Syria via Turkey. Allegedly Turkey was not informed. “Are we supposed to stop tourist entries and exits? They would then start screaming that Turkey has banned freedom of travel.” The EU is certainly responsible because it has done little until a photo of three-year old Ajlan Kurdi drowned in the Aegean attempting to reach Europe. This was a wakeup call for the EU. My guess is that Erdogan and probably some others are engineering the migration of Syrians and other refugees/migrants to Europe in an attempt for the strategic geopolitical destabilization of Europe. How else can one explain that in excess of half a million refugees crossed Turkey and ended up on the Greek Aegean islands. Moscow has accused Turkey for the refugee/migrant waves that are engulfing Europe (strangely Muslims appear not to desire the praised Turkey or wealthy Gulf states – nor the Islamic Republic of Iran and so forth).
Will Sultan Erdogan Survive?
In his RT interview Srdja Trifkovic, Foreign Affairs Editor of Chronicles magazine, stated: “The real issue is what the US will do about this. It is quite obvious the Turkish tail has been wagging the American dog for far too long, and Erdogan has been getting away with murder, both literally and figuratively. Unless and until the US decides that this nonsense must stop, he will continue to get away with it.”
There is little doubt that Erdogan’s Turkey is a pariah state as asserted above. How much longer will the US and NATO tolerate this status? Obama, for his shared love for the Muslim Brotherhood and other forces in Islam, is probably not capable of instructing the CIA to orchestrate a regime change in Turkey. There has been an opportunity for over 15 months prior to Russian airstrikes in Syria. However, Obama has been preoccupied in generating narratives for the defense of Sunni Muslim regional allies rather than protecting Americans, Europeans, Muslim minority sects, Shabaks, Yazidis and Middle East Christians. However, the Washington-Ankara-Riyadh axis for the creation of Sunni Salafi controlled areas in Iraq and Syria has failed. Peace in Syria is possible with genuine UN mediation that listens to nations that are neutral – and to nations that support Syria. The Saudi-Iranian crisis is likely to complicate matters.
Peace in Syria
After about 270,000 fatalities and several million refugees suddenly the State Department announces “bringing peace to Syria is top 2015 win.” This writer attributes this turnaround to the success of the Russian intervention in Syria as illustrated with the stunning John Kerry’s visit to Moscow – and sessions with Russian leaders including President Putin.
Mike Whitney wrote in Counterpunch: “From the time he touched down at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport, to the time he left some 26 hours later, the Secretary of State was a cordial and conciliatory as anytime in recent memory. There was no hectoring, no lecturing, no threats of additional sanctions, no finger-wagging condescension, and just pleasant give-and-take on main issues followed by friendly chi-chat, multiple handshakes, and plenty of smiles photo ops.”
Whitney continues “To say the hosts were surprised by Kerry’s behavior is a probably an understatement. After nearly three years of nonstop belligerence and confrontation, the last thing Sergei Lavrov and Vladimir Putin expected was an ingratiating Kerry oozing brotherly love and carrying on like an old buddy from college.”
Here’s what Kerry said: “The United States and our partners are not seeking regime change in Syria…the focus is no longer on our differences about what can or cannot be done immediately about Assad…There’s no question that when the United States and Russia work together our two countries benefit. Despite our differences we demonstrated that when our countries pull together, progress can be made.”
The product of Kerry’s visit to Moscow was a joint US-Russia UN Security Council resolution unanimously adopted in dealing with blocking the IS finances plus a road-map for terminating the war in Syria.
Vojin Joksimovich, PhD is the author of three books and over 120 articles in the field of world affairs.
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