On Wednesday morning, Turkey abruptly launched an all-out military assault on Syria, sending in tanks, troops, and engaging in airstrikes, in concert with airstrikes from the United States, to the northern portions of Syria near the Turkey-Syria border under the guise of combating ISIS forces. At this time, the military operations seem focused around Jarablus.
According to the BBC, “A dozen Turkish tanks and other vehicles have rolled across the Syrian border after heavy shelling of an area held by so-called Islamic State (IS). Military sources told Turkish media 70 targets in the Jarablus area had been destroyed by artillery and rocket strikes, and 12 by air strikes.”
Al-Masdar reports on the progress of the Turkish military offensive by writing:
The Turkish Special Forces, alongside the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Faylaq Al-Sham, reportedly captured their first village during this new offensive dubbed “Operation Euphrates Shield.”
According to Faylaq Al-Sham’s official media wing, their forces captured the village of Tal Katlijah after the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) terrorists quickly abandoned the area in order to reinforce Jarabulus.
ISIS has mostly abandoned the small area between Jarabulus and the Turkish border, leaving only small units to resist the advancing Turkish-backed rebels.
The Turkish-backed rebels are now attacking the hilltop village of Tal Sha’er, which is along the road to Jarabulus.
What Is Turkey Doing?
The Turkish invasion is predicated on the basis of “fighting ISIS,” a wholly unbelievable goal since Turkey itself has been supporting, training, and facilitating ISIS since day one. Not only that, but Turkey is arriving in Syria with terrorists in tow since, as the BBC reported, “Between nine and 12 tanks crossed the frontier, followed by pick-up trucks believed to be carrying hundreds of fighters from Turkish-backed factions of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA).” If Turkey was interested in stopping terrorism, why would they lead the charges for more terrorists to enter Syria? Indeed, if stopping terrorism was truly Turkey’s goal, it is capable of sealing the border from its own side without any need for invasion so why the war the party?
Turkey’s interests do not lie in stopping terrorism. Far from it. Turkey’s foreign policy and military decision to invade Syria are based along three lines; its desire for more territory (which it believes was stolen from it long ago), its willingness to continue working with NATO in its attempt to destroy the secular government of Syria, and its concern over the Kurdish expansion.
With this invasion, Turkey has solidified its willingness to risk outright war with Syria and perhaps even Russia in order to fulfill the goals of NATO and Anglo-American powers who have sought to destroy Syria from the beginning. Part of this strategy is the creation of “buffer zones” and “safe zones” in the north, precisely the concepts that were re-floated and discussed by the United States and U.K. only days before the invasion. Note that the invasion and operations are centering around Jarablus, the eastern border of the famed Jarablus corridor which, bordered by Afrin and Azaz in the west, make up the last fully functioning terrorist supply routes coming in from Turkey. These were precisely the dimensions that were discussed by Western think tanks and NGOs in regards to what a “safe zone” in Syria should look like. Although argued on the basis of “giving civilians somewhere to go” the zones were supposed to be controlled by “moderate” Western-backed terrorists and were clearly designed to prevent the Syrian government and Russian forces from closing the supply routes coming from the Turkish side of the border into Syria.
This “safe haven” is also a way for the neo-Ottoman Erdogan to lay claim to more territory in order to placate his dream of becoming the 21st Century equivalent of the leader of the Turkish empire. At the very least, this desire for more land under the Turkish flag will lead to a situation similar to that of the Golan Heights, which Israel has illegally occupied for decades but which there is frequent threat of military action and controversy.
Erdogan is also incredibly concerned about the growing Kurdish movement both inside Turkey and in Syria. With the Kurds gaining more and more territory in the north of Syria, in large part because of support being given by the United States, as well as Kurds in Iraq becoming more and more willing to work with YPG Kurds in Syria and the growing interest of dissent and military operations inside Turkey by the PKK, Erdogan is undoubtedly concerned that the Kurds could decide to unite and initiate a massive campaign for autonomy and independence or, at the very least, inspire Turkish Kurds to launch a revolution.
While some may suggest that Turkey is getting off the reservation and simply acting on its own interests (i.e. rolling back the Kurds), Erdogan has long acted as a major tool of the NATO agenda against Syria. The very fact that the United States is aiding the Turkish operation with airstrikes of its own should go some length in demonstrating that the NATO powers are in full support of the military incursion.
Still, others have a different perspective. Andrew Korybko of Katehon argues that the Syrians, Iranians, and Russians are tacitly supporting the incursion because it alleviates them of the responsibility of cleansing ISIS and Kurdish battalions from northern Syria. Korybko points to increased political talks between Syria and Turkey in recent days as well as the domestic climate of Russia in terms of support for increased military operations. Korybko suggests that the United States has been duped by Turkey into falling in line with the incursion which is, in reality, an agreement on strategy and policies related to Syria by the “multipolar bloc.” Korybko writes,
. . . . . Damascus and Ankara have been engaged in secret talks for months now in the Algerian capital of Algiers, as has been repeatedly confirmed by many multiple media sources ever since this spring. Moreover, Turkey just dispatched one of its deputy intelligence chiefs to Damascus a few days ago to meet with his high-level Syrian counterparts, so this might explain the reason why Russia and Iran aren’t condemning Turkey’s incursion into Syria, nor why the Syrian officials aren’t loudly protesting against it either. More and more, the evidence is pointing to Turkey’s operation being part of a larger move that was coordinated in advance with Syria, Russia, and Iran. Nevertheless, for domestic political reasons within both Syria and Turkey, neither side is expected to admit to having coordinated any of this, and it’s likely that bellicose rhetoric might be belched from Ankara just as much as it’s predictable that Damascus will rightfully speak about the protection of its sovereignty.
What’s most important, though, isn’t to listen so much to Turkey and Syria, but to watch and observe what Russia and Iran say and do, since these are the two countries most capable of defending Syria from any legitimate aggression against its territory and which have been firmly standing behind it for years now, albeit to differing qualitative extents though with complementary synergy (i.e. Russia’s anti-terrorist air operation and Iran’s special forces ground one). This isn’t in any way to ‘excuse’, ‘apologize for’, or ‘explain away’ the US’ opportunistic and illegal inadvertent contribution to this coordinated multipolar campaign, but to accurately document how and why it decided to involve itself in this superficially Turkish-led venture, namely because it was cleverly misled by Erdogan into thinking that this is a precondition for the normalization of relations between both sides.
Russia lacks the political will to cleanse the Wahhabi terrorists and Kurdish separatists from northern Syrian itself, and for as much as one may support or condemn this, it’s a statement of fact that must be taken into account when analyzing and forecasting events. With this obvious constraint being a major factor influencing the state of affairs in Syria, it’s reasonable then that Syria, Russia, and Iran wouldn’t vocally object too much to Turkey tricking the US into doing this instead out of the pursuit of its own self-interests vis-à-vis the attempted normalization with Ankara. The major qualifying variable that must be mentioned at this point is that serious Russian and Iranian condemnation of Turkey’s ongoing operation would signal that something either went wrong with their multilaterally coordinated plan, or that Turkey was just a backstabbing pro-American Trojan Horse this entire time and the skepticism surrounding Moscow and Tehran’s dedicated efforts to coax Ankara into a multipolar pivot was fully vindicated as the correct analysis all along.
Still, with all that in mind, it should be remembered that Washington has essentially led Erdogan by the nose through most of the Syrian crisis. Only recently has the neo-Ottoman shown signs of moving away from U.S. influence but, even those apparent moves are being questioned by researchers and analysts. At this point, we still do not definitively know if the United States was behind the coup in Turkey or if it was an inside job/false flag staged by Erdogan and the U.S. in order to justify a clampdown on Erdogan’s opponents. Judging by the fact that no diplomatic staff has been recalled, Incirlik continues to be use by the United States, and now joint military operations are taking place between the United States and Turkey, it is difficult to believe that Turkey truly believes the U.S. was behind an attempted coup against Erdogan.
Regardless, Turkish incursions into Syrian territory on the basis of a false flag, all the while being supported by the West, are nothing new. Remember, in 2014, Turkey was exposed for planning to use an alleged attack on the tomb of Suleiman Shah as well as a false flag attack on Turkish territory in order to justify an invasion of Syria.
In its article, “Turkey YouTube Ban: Full Transcript Of Leaked Syria ‘War’ Conversation Between Erdogan Officials,” the International Business Times released the transcript of a conversation between members of Turkish leadership planning a false flag using their terrorist proxies in order to justify an invasion:
Ahmet Davutoğlu: “Prime Minister said that in current conjuncture, this attack (on Suleiman Shah Tomb) must be seen as an opportunity for us.”
Hakan Fidan: “I’ll send 4 men from Syria, if that’s what it takes. I’ll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey; we can also prepare an attack on Suleiman Shah Tomb if necessary.”
Feridun Sinirlioğlu: “Our national security has become a common, cheap domestic policy outfit.”
Yaşar Güler: “It’s a direct cause of war. I mean, what’re going to do is a direct cause of war.”
With this in mind, it is interesting to note that an eerily similar type of “opportunity” took place right before the recent invasion. As the New York Times described,
A bombing on Saturday night at a Kurdish wedding in Gaziantep, a Turkish town near the Syrian border, was one of the deadliest in a string of terrorist attacks that have struck Turkey. Since June 2015, Kurdish and Islamic State militants have staged at least 15 major attacks across Turkey, killing more than 330 people.
The New Atlas also sees the Turkish invasion as part of the NATO goal of destroying the secular government of Bashar al-Assad. The website writes,
Thus, Turkey’s government and a complicit Western media have helped place the blame equally on both the Islamic State and Kurdish militants ahead of the now ongoing cross-border operation.
The above mentioned BBC article would also note:
Turkey has vowed to “completely cleanse” IS from its border region, blaming the group for a bomb attack on a wedding that killed at least 54 people in Gaziantep on Saturday.
In the aftermath of the July coup, many were hopeful Turkey would realign itself geopolitically and play a more constructive and stabilising role in the region.
Instead, while citing the threat of the Islamic State and Kurdish forces along its border, a threat that its own collusion with US and Persian Gulf States since 2011 helped create, Turkey has decisively helped move forward a crucial part of US plans to dismember Syria and move its campaign of North African and Middle Eastern destabilisation onward and outward.
The response by Syria and its allies in the wake of Turkey’s cross-border foray has so far been muted. What, if any actions could be taken to prevent the US and its allies from achieving their plans remain to be seen.
While the toppling of the government in Damascus looks unlikely at the moment, the Balkanisation of Syria was a secondary objective always only ever considered by US policymakers as a mere stop gap until eventually toppling Damascus as well. Conceding eastern and parts of northern Syria to US-led aggression will only buy time.
The idea of establishing a “safe zone” in Syria is, of course, not a new concept. In July, 2015, the agreement being discussed would have effectively created a “buffer zone” that would have spanned from the Turkish border line into Syria. It would have extended from Azaz in the West to Jarablus in the East and as far south as al-Bab. The width of the zone would have been about 68 miles and would have extended around 40 miles deep into Syria, right on the doorstep of Aleppo.
The zone would have much smaller than that which Turkey and the United States have called for in the years prior and wouldn’t have necessarily stretched the length of the Turkey-Syria border. But it is a start.
True to form, the US and Turkey attempted to obfuscate the fact that their agreement was the creation of a no-fly zone by renaming it an “ISIL-free zone.” This is the same tactic used when the term “no-fly zone” and “buffer zone” began to draw too much ire from observers only a year ago. Then, the term became “safe zone.”
Semantics have served NATO and the United States well over the years. After all, a simple name change of terrorist organizations has made the Anglo-American powers able to produce “moderate rebels” and the most frightening terrorist organization the world has ever seen while using the same group of terrorists.
The description of the “ISIL-free zone” of 2015 was that it would be a distinguished area in which the Turkish and U.S. military would engage in aggressive operations against ISIS. It was floated that this area would have also functioned as a place where civilians displaced by the Syrian crisis may run to for safe haven and where “moderate rebel” forces can maintain a higher presence free from the battles with ISIS.
“Once the area is cleared, the plan is to give control to as-yet-unidentified moderate Syrian rebel groups. The United States and Turkey have differing interpretations as to which groups can be defined as ‘moderate,’” the Washington Post reported.
The reality, however, is that the “ISIL-free zone” would have been nothing more than a Forward Operating Base deeper into Syrian territory, working under the direct protection of the U.S. military and Turkish air force. That is exactly what the British and the U.S. are arguing for today.
Going further back, public discussion of the implementation of a “buffer zone” began as far back as 2012 when the Brookings Institution, in their memo “Assessing Options For Regime Change” stated
An alternative is for diplomatic efforts to focus first on how to end the violence and how to gain humanitarian access, as is being done under Annan’s leadership. This may lead to the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power. This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Asad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts.
The Brookings Institution went further, however, describing a possible scenario that mirrors the one currently unfolding in Syria where Turkey, in coordination with Israel, could help overthrow Assad by establishing a “multi-front war” on Syria’s borders. Brookings writes,
In addition, Israel’s intelligence services have a strong knowledge of Syria, as well as assets within the Syrian regime that could be used to subvert the regime’s power base and press for Asad’s removal. Israel could posture forces on or near the Golan Heights and, in so doing, might divert regime forces from suppressing the opposition. This posture may conjure fears in the Asad regime of a multi-front war, particularly if Turkey is willing to do the same on its border and if the Syrian opposition is being fed a steady diet of arms and training. Such a mobilization could perhaps persuade Syria’s military leadership to oust Asad in order to preserve itself. Advocates argue this additional pressure could tip the balance against Asad inside Syria, if other forces were aligned properly.
Of course, the establishment of a “No-Fly Zone” is tantamount to a declaration of war. Such has even been admitted by top U.S. Generals when explaining exactly what a No Fly Zone would entail. As General Carter Ham stated,
We should make no bones about it. It first entails killing a lot of people and destroying the Syrian air defenses and those people who are manning those systems. And then it entails destroying the Syrian air force, preferably on the ground, in the air if necessary. This is a violent combat action that results in lots of casualties and increased risk to our own personnel.
General Philip Breedlove also echoed this description when he said,
I know it sounds stark, but what I always tell people when they talk to me about a no-fly zone is . . . it’s basically to start a war with that country because you are going to have to go in and kinetically take out their air defense capability.
Regardless of the fact that the Anglo-American empire may very well be risking a direct military confrontation with another nuclear power, the NATO forces are intent on moving forward in their attempt to destroy Syria and its government.
The major victories by the Syrian military that have taken place in recent weeks as well as the inability of the West’s terrorists to roll back SAA gains have obviously convinced NATO that more drastic measures are needed and that proxies are simply not enough to defeat a committed military supported by its people. Thus, we now see the plan so heavily promoted by Western think tanks and military industrial complex firms being implemented.
Clearly, the Turkish agenda is not focused on combating ISIS. If it was, the Turks would have long ago sealed their borders with Syria as well as ceased their training and facilitation of terrorist groups flowing into Syria from Turkish territory.
The Turks do not need NATO Buffer Zones to end terrorism within their own country. They need to seal the borders with Syria, immediately cease funding, training, and facilitation of terrorists operating inside Turkish borders alongside a massive sting operation netting and eliminating these organizations. Turkey would also greatly benefit by backing away from Erdogan, his idiotic policies, and his equally idiotic Islamist government. Turkey must put aside “political Islam” and return to a culture of secular governance. Lastly, Turkey must pursue a reasonable and fair policy toward the Kurds in its southeast.
Of course, Turkey has sent every signal possible to announce that they intend to stick with the NATO line of destroying the secular government of Bashar al-Assad and replacing it with a government or governments beholden and favorable to Washington and the Anglo-American oligarchy.
Obviously, a “buffer zone” and/or a “no-fly zone,” of course, is tantamount to war and an open military assault against the sovereign secular government of Syria because the implementation of such a zone would require airstrikes against Assad’s air defense systems.
With the establishment of this “buffer zone,” a new staging ground will be opened that allows terrorists such as ISIS and others the ability to conduct attacks even deeper inside Syria.
While the goal is clearly to establish such a zone before tightening the grip on Assad even further and ultimately leading to his overthrow, one can only wonder as to what pronouncement or “policy” will result from the Tuesday NATO meeting. Whatever it may be, the Syrian people will be the ones to pay the highest price.