Aletho News


UAE, Saudi sense convergence with Syria

The reported plan by the United Arab Emirates to reopen its embassy in Damascus shortly leads to a startlingly new alignment on the map of the Middle East.

At the most obvious level, it signals the realization among the Gulf States that the brutal war to overthrow the Syrian government has ended. But the pragmatism is stunning. There isn’t even going to be any ‘cooling-off’ period!

What explains the urgency? Analysts may say it is to counter Iran’s influence. After all, the Saudis with UAE backing tried a similar approach in Iraq through the past year – to counter Iran’s multi-vectored influence in Iraq.

But the UAE cannot but be unaware of the exceptionally strong bonding between Damascus and Tehran. Syria may have uses for ‘green money’ to advance its reconstruction agenda but Iran’s backing has existential dimensions.

The western analysts tend to view the Iran factor as the leitmotif of Middle Eastern developments. However, in this cacophony over Iran, we are largely overlooking that simmering differences among the major Sunni states have also surged to the centre stage lately.

Through the past 2-3 year period, a Turkish-Qatari alignment has crystallized. For Qatar, Turkey’s support is invaluable for resisting the pressures on its strategic autonomy from the regimes in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The establishment of a Turkish military base in Qatar underscores this new axis. Lately, Qatar has become a pillar of financial support for the Turkish economy.

Neither Qatar nor Turkey is flustered by Iran’s rise. Neither is seeking Iran’s isolation, either. Washington recently ‘granted’ a waiver to Turkey to continue to buy oil from Iran, but Ankara shot back saying it opposed US sanctions anyway, calling them ‘imperialistic’.

For Turkey too, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the principal regional adversaries today. Turkey viewed with disquiet the UAE’s support of terrorist groups in Libya, Yemen and Syria. In next-door Syria, the Saudi and Emirati openly supported ISIS groups and al-Qaeda affiliates. Circles close to Turkey’s ruling elite have alleged that UAE is targeting Erdogan in a concerted way.

However, the ‘red line’ was crossed when the two Gulf oligarchies lent support to the failed coup in 2016 in Turkey to assassinate President Recep Erdogan. (After the coup failed, it took 16 hours for Riyadh to even issue a statement!) Turkey estimated that the UAE provided a staging post for the coup plotters.

As Turkey sees it, the UAE is implementing a western project to weaken it. Meanwhile, reports also appeared that the two Gulf oligarchies have been funding the Kurdish militant groups (who are the US’ allies in Syria.)

No doubt, it is a combustible mix. But what makes it really explosive is the perception in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh that Turkey and Qatar are patronizing the Muslim Brotherhood as a potent vehicle for the democratic transformation of the Muslim Middle East.

Both regimes (Saudi Arabia and the UAE) regard the Brotherhood as existential threat. Their visceral hatred of Brothers is such that they bankrolled the coup d’état against elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 in a multi-billion dollar project.

Enter Syria. Given the above backdrop, the UAE and Saudi Arabia are inclined to sense a convergence with the Syrian regime on pushing back at Erdogan’s perceived aspirations of ‘neo-Ottomanism’ in general and his support of the Brotherhood as a vehicle of change in particular.

A tantalizing question will be: Where does the US stand apropos the Brotherhood? The Barack Obama administration with a sense of history saw in the Brotherhood much potential to finesse the Arab Spring toward establishment of ‘Islamic democracy’ in the Middle East. The US had dealings with the Brotherhood in Egypt based on estimation that it could do business with them and even influence them to democratize the Muslim Middle East. Of course, the premature end to the transition in Egypt in 2013 changed everything.

The Muslim Brotherhood lobbying US Congress, May 2017

Erdogan always hoped that the US (and the West as a whole) would appreciate that Turkey is uniquely placed to play the leadership role in the transition to a New Middle East. The Khashoggi affair has noticeably rekindled those hopes. (Interestingly, the spokesmen of the US intelligence establishment who have been very vocal about the Kahshoggi affair have also suddenly mellowed toward Erdogan.)

Now, this subtle shift on the part of the ‘Deep State’ in America toward Erdogan couldn’t have gone unnoticed in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. It has probably prompted them to open a line to Damascus as early as possible.

How this delicate tango will play out remains to be seen, since there are far too many variables. With the US midterm elections over, President Trump may come under pressure to ‘do something’ on the Khashoggi affair.

Meanwhile, the Saudi and Emirati presence in Syria will be a matter of concern for Turkey in the ‘post-truth’ politics after Khashoggi’s murder.

November 8, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

US Blocks $199Mln in Assets Belonging to Iran, Syria, N Korea in 2017 – Treasury

Sputnik – 07.11.2018

WASHINGTON – The United States blocked nearly $200 million in assets belonging to Syria, Iran, and North Korea in 2017 as a result of the sanctions imposed on the three countries, the Treasury Department said in its annual report to Congress released on Wednesday.

“Approximately $199 million in assets relating to the three designated state sponsors of terrorism in 2017 have been identified by OFAC as blocked pursuant to economic sanctions imposed by the United States,” the report said.

The statement comes days after the US fully reinstated sanctions against Iran, including measures that curb Tehran’s oil industry. At the same time, the United States temporarily exempted eight nations — China, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey — from the sanctions on importing oil from Iran.

In May, US President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and reimpose sanctions against Tehran that were previously lifted under the accord, including secondary restrictions.

The first round of the US sanctions was reimposed in August, while the second round, targeting over 700 Iranian individuals, entities, banks, aircraft and vessels, came into force this week.

November 7, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Syrian FM: US Seeks to Prolong Conflict in Syria

Al-Manar | October 30, 2018

Under the pretext of protecting Kurds, the US is setting up military bases and aerodromes in Syria’s east, which signals their intention to prolong the armed conflict, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told a press conference on Monday.

SANA news agency quoted Muallem as saying that the US is using its base in Al-Tanf on the Syrian-Iraqi border to train former members of the ISIL terrorist organization in order to include them later into units fighting against the Syrian army.

The foreign minister noted that the government forces and their allies are “the only real force fighting against ISIL groups and al-Nusra front extremist group on the Syrian territory.”

Muallem also said that terrorists from the al-Nusra group still remain in the area where the Idlib demilitarized zone should have been established.

“This is a signal that Ankara does not want to fulfill its obligations in the framework of Russian-Turkish agreements on Idlib,” he said.

The foreign minister noted that Idlib, located 320 kilometers from Damascus, remains under the control of terrorists who are supported by Turkey and the West, Tass news agency reported.

“We remain in close coordination with Russian friends regarding the situation in Syria’s north-west,” he added. Muallem also reminded that the agreement on Idlib is temporary, and the Syrian government has a legal right to return the province under its sovereignty.

According to the Russian-Turkish memorandum signed in Sochi on September 17 after talks between the presidents of Russia and Turkey, the demilitarized zone 15-20 kilometers deep in Idlib should have been established by October 15. However, Turkey asked to postpone joint patrolling in Idlib due to its inability to guarantee security from its side.

October 30, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Istanbul Summit on Syria Was a Success but Caveats Remain

By Melkulangara BHADRAKUMAR | Strategic Culture Foundation | 29.10.2018

The four-nation Turkey-Russia-Germany-France summit on Syria on October 27 in Istanbul had an impressive outcome. All participants – each with own interests – has some ‘takeaway’ from the summit, which itself is a measure of the success of the event. This is also important because the participants now have a reason to work together.

Such an outcome can be interpreted in the following ways. First and foremost, a major regional conflict impacting international security was addressed without US participation. A sign of our times?

Second, participants didn’t quarrel over President Bashar Al-Assad’s “fate”. The debate becomes pedantic today in terms of ground realities. The Syrian nation should decide on its future. That’s also been Assad’s demand.

Third, some serious thought has been given to the journey towards a Syrian settlement – ceasefire, drafting of new constitution followed by elections under UN supervision.

Four, the participants snubbed the US-Israeli plan to balkanize Syria into “spheres of influence” and have also squashed the Israeli dreams of getting international legitimacy for its illegal occupation of Golan Heights as part of any settlement.

Five, Germany and France have become amenable to the Russian demand pressing the urgency for rendering humanitarian aid to Syria and help in reconstruction. (The US made this conditional on Assad’s removal.) We’ll have to see how it pans out, but the summit also stressed the importance of the return of Syrian refugees (which is a key issue for European countries.)

Six, the participants recognized that the remaining terrorists in Syria must be destroyed – although, significantly, they also supported the Idlib ceasefire deal brokered by Turkey and Russia.

The bottom line is that it is the post-war Syrian order that is under discussion now. However, it must be understood as well that the proxy war is not ending but is rather morphing into the diplomatic war that lies ahead, which of course will be keenly fought, given the divergent interests of the foreign protagonists.

Generally speaking, Russia and Turkey are in command as of now. Their own equations are good but there are grey areas, too. The importance of close coordination between Russia and Turkey cannot but be stressed.

Iran cannot be happy that it has been excluded from the Istanbul summit. But it may prove an underestimation that Iran is in no position to assert its legitimate interests. The close consultations between Russia and Iran – not only regarding Syria – are of course the mitigating factor here.

Similarly, a “post-Khashoggi” Saudi attitude to Syria remains the “known unknown”. The US is in a position to blackmail Saudi Arabia to continue to bankroll its military presence in Syria, but the Saudis cannot have their heart in the overreach to project power abroad. Something has fundamentally changed – Saudis are not used to their prestige being dragged in the mud as in this past month and the traumatic experience cannot but have a sobering effect.

Besides, Saudis dare not cross swords with Turkey on the latter’s Syrian playpen. Above all, Saudis would not want to undermine Russian efforts to stabilize Syria, since Moscow’s goodwill and cooperation is extremely vital for Riyadh in the coming period, now that the raison d’etre of Riyadh’s “Look East” is beyond doubt.

Basically, France and Germany are lightweights in Syria. They had a limited agenda at the Istanbul summit. Russia must know fully well that in the final analysis, US involvement is crucial. It is entirely conceivable that at the forthcoming Russian-American summit in Paris on November 11, Syria will be a major topic of discussion.

The US policy in Syria is at a crossroad and will hinge greatly on the standing of President Trump in the aftermath of the November 6 mid-term elections in the US.

Clearly, this was far from a situation of three major allies of the US staging a mutiny on the NATO ship. Germany and France would have consulted Washington most certainly ahead of the Istanbul summit (which has been in the making for months.)

The big question is how the Turkish-American relations evolve. The Khashoggi affair has brought about certain US-Turkey “proximity”. Ironically, the Deep State in America and Trump are on the same page here – rediscovering the vital importance of Turkey for US regional strategies.

The spokesmen of the Deep State used to defame Turkish President Recep Erdogan for being “Islamist” and “authoritarian” and so on and probably even tried to overthrow him in the failed coup of 2016, but today, they laud him for espousing Islamic democracy as the panacea for the region.

Erdogan, in turn – or at least a part of him – had always hankered for recognition by the West when he sought Turkey’s historic leadership role in the Middle East and uniqueness to act as a bridge between the West and the region. Equally, Trump is eternally grateful to Erdogan to refrain from spilling the beans on the Khashoggi affair and for helping him finesse a major crisis for his presidency on the foreign-policy front.

Suffice to say, this “transition” in the US-Turkey tough love can profoundly affect the geopolitics of the Middle East – provided of course Washington plays its cards carefully in regard of Erdogan’s wish list on a host of pending issues, including some of great sensitivity.

Syria is somewhere at the top of Erdogan’s priorities. Howsoever unpalatable it may appear, Erdogan will expect the Americans to throw their Syrian Kurdish allies under the bus. Yesterday, the Turkish army bombarded Kurdish positions east of Euphrates.

Now, how Turkish policies play out in Syria is difficult to predict, since the variables are too many. A US-Turkey rapprochement is hard to reach. But then, Turks and Americans are also old allies and they have a way of knocking their heads together and start working together again.

October 29, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Putin: Russia Reserves Right to Help Damascus Contain Terror Threat in Idlib

© Sputnik / Mikhail Klimentyev

Sputnik – 27.10.2018

ISTANBUL – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday his country will take active steps if terrorists use the Idlib demilitarized zone as a cover to launch attacks on the rest of Syria.

“Should radicals … launch armed provocations from the Idlib zone, Russia reserves the right to give active assistance to the Syrian government in liquidating this source of terrorist threat,” the Russian President vowed during a summit on Syria in Istanbul.

He also proposed an initiative to hold an international conference to solve the problem of Syrian refugees.

“We offered partners to support the Russian initiative of convening an international conference on Syrian refugees. We understand what is linked to this issue, we understand the problems, but if we don’t work together, we won’t achieve any results,” Putin said following the quadrilateral talks on the Syrian settlement.

According to the Russian president, the parties agreed to broaden the concept of “humanitarian aid” and to understand it as “supply of medical equipment, medicines, restoration of infrastructure and water supply.”

Addressing the upcoming setup of the Syrian constitutional committee, Putin said that constitutional reform would strengthen statehood and unite the Syrian society.

“First of all, it is necessary to ensure the launch of the activities of the constitutional committee in Geneva, which is intended to consider the fundamental issues of the future state system of Syria. At the same time, decisions taken at the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi should be taken into account,” he said after talks with the leaders of Turkey, France, and Germany in Istanbul.

He stressed that such a committee should be recognized as legitimate by all parties in Syria and be respected.

“Only in this case, this structure will be efficient and effective, it will be able to prepare and implement a mature constitutional reform that will strengthen Syrian statehood and unite Syrian society. So, the work on forming a committee must be serious, painstaking, and it needs to be done fundamentally. Russia, as a guarantor of the Astana process, will actively participate in it,” the Russian leader continued.

Russia hopes that by the end of the year, the Constitutional Committee of Syria will be approved and will work, Putin said, stressing that the work on the creation of the committee should be conducted with respect to the legitimate government of the Syrian Arab Republic, otherwise it would be counterproductive.

There is progress in the creation of a constitutional committee of Syria, but patience is needed, the Russian president added.

“You said that 9 months after the decision in Sochi we didn’t achieve a specific result. I want to remind you that before the start of the Astana process, the parties didn’t meet at all for a year. This process simply stalled,” Putin recalled.

According to the president, “nothing happened at all” over that period. Then, as he noted, the Astana process was initiated, and “the wheel began to spin on and on.”

“Yes, the agreements reached are not being implemented as quickly as we would like, but there is still some progress. We managed to persuade the Syrian government to submit its part of the list for the formation of a constitutional committee. This is not an easy process, yes, there must be people who are trusted by all parties involved in the conflict. But we need patience and respect for all participants in the process. Only on this path will we succeed,” he said.

The Russian leader also underlined that only the Syrian people can decide for themselves.

“Our principled position is that the fate of our own country, including the choice of personalities on the political scene, should be determined by the Syrian people themselves,” he said after talks with the leaders of Turkey, France and Germany in Istanbul.

He noted that certain conditions must be created for this, one of which is the launch of the political process to form a constitutional committee and the beginning of its work. Participants of the summit in Istanbul did not discuss any personalities regarding the Syrian leader, since this is counterproductive, the president added.

On Saturday, Putin, as well as French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a joint statement in Istanbul following a meeting dedicated to the Syrian crisis and other international problems.

In January this year, the Syrian National Dialogue Congress was held in Sochi. Its main result was the decision to establish a constitutional commission that will work in Geneva.

October 27, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 2 Comments

Turkey seeks to ‘blackmail’ Saudi over Khashoggi’s case: Analyst

Press TV – October 26, 2018

The United States and Turkey are seeking to manipulate the crisis over the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in an attempt to change the equilibrium in the Middle East, says a political analyst.

“I think the Turkish intelligence have so many information but they want to blackmail the Saudis and they push a little part after little part of the information that they have to press and blackmail the Saudi government,” Hadi Kobaysi told Press TV in an interview on Friday.

“I think that from the beginning why [did] Khashoggi go to Turkey, there is a Saudi consulate in Washington … I think that there is a game from the beginning to put the Saudi government under pressure … So from the beginning there is a game and the manipulation was from Turkey and the United States and the goal was to change the game in the Middle East,” he added.

Khashoggi – a US resident, Washington Post columnist, and a leading critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain a document certifying he had divorced his ex-wife, but he did not leave the building.

Saudi officials originally insisted that Khashoggi had left the diplomatic mission after his paperwork was finished, but they finally admitted several days later that he had in fact been killed inside the building during “an altercation.”

Several countries, including European ones, Turkey and the US, a major ally of Riyadh, have called for clarifications on the murder.

October 26, 2018 Posted by | Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

Syria Update: Creeping Partition

By Peter Ford | October 23, 2018

The September crisis over Idlib was brought to a conclusion by the Russian Turkish agreement to create a partially demilitarised border strip. This should have been implemented by 16 October but hasn’t.


Some armed groups have pulled back their heavy weapons from the 15-20 km wide 250 km long strip but others haven’t, while the groups internationally categorised as terrorist, including Hayat Tahrir Ash Sham (HTS), Hurras Ad Deen, and the Turkmenistan militia, have not vacated the area as the Turks promised. Russia was supposed to be allowed into the area to monitor but isn’t. In blatant violation of the ceasefire some of the groups are shelling neighbouring government-controlled areas including the outskirts of Aleppo and northern Lattakia.

The Turks claim all is well. The Russians, putting a brave face on a very unsatisfactory situation, call for patience. The reality appears to be that the Russians don’t think the Syrian government forces are strong enough to overcome the approximately 90,000 jihadi fighters in Idlib, many dug in in areas of difficult terrain, and all promised air cover by the US if Asad advances.

It has barely been noticed that the US has moved the goalposts on what it gives itself permission to do in Syria. The new US envoy for Syria, James Jeffrey, a former diplomat emerging from that neocon haven, the Washington Institute for the Near East Policy, stated explicitly recently that the US no longer felt itself bound to bomb Syria only if Asad used chemical weapons: henceforth the US would bomb ‘if Asad advances. Period’. (In such an eventuality it would be interesting to see how the British government went about following suit, although it is worth noting that its much contested legal opinion which was offered in April (attached) would startlingly licence the government to bomb under any circumstances whatever as long as it claimed to be acting for humanitarian reasons.)

Some claim that the standoff and emergence of an effectively separate entity in the North could force the Syrian government to make concessions at the negotiating table. This is wishful thinking. The Syrian government would never regard recovery of a lost province as a fair price for surrendering power. That being the case what we are witnessing appears to be the beginning of the emergence of a safe haven for terrorists under the guardianship of the Turks and the air umbrella of the Western powers: a replay of US/Saudi support for the Taliban in the days when removing the Russians from Afghanistan seemed like a good idea.

The North East

The dismemberment of Syria continues also in the North East (Al Hasakeh province and part of Deir Ez Zor province) which is under the joint control of the Kurdish-dominated SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) and the US. Here too the US recently moved the goalposts virtually unnoticed, Secretary of Defence Mattis declaring that the purpose of the US forces’ presence was to combat Iran, which has no presence whatever in the North East. The US barely even pretends now that the purpose is to defeat the lingering remnants of ISIS, a task which the Syrian forces could handle easily if they were allowed to enter the parts of Deir Ez Zor and Hasakeh provinces where ISIS lurks effectively under US protection. The US plan appears to be to condition the withdrawal of the US presence on the withdrawal of that of the limited number of Iranian military advisers in Syria and of the rather larger number of Iranian–funded militia forces, considered essential to its security by the Syrian government. As many have pointed out this is a recipe for another open-ended US commitment to a military presence in the Middle East.

When the US-led coalition does move against ISIS remnants it is careless of civilian casualties: 62 civilians were killed this week in an air strike on two villages in Deir Ez Zor. This being the conveniently anonymous ‘coalition’ we have no way of knowing if the RAF was involved.

Hopes had been aroused that the US might pull out because of the costliness of propping up local civilian services, which for Trump is anathema. The arrival of 100 million dollars from Saudi Arabia in the Pentagon’s bank account last week (totally unconnected of course with the current predicament of Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman) may have upset the Turks, unhappy to see another Kurdish statelet emerging, but it has eased the financial burden of de facto US occupation.

Al Tanf

The US had given some hints that it might be willing to draw back from the Al Tanf enclave it controls with UK military support near the apex of the Syrian, Jordanian and Iraqi borders. Displaced persons started to go home from the jihadi-infested Rukban camp which lies within the Al Tanf perimeter. The Syrian government is offering to facilitate more returns but will not acquiesce in US control over sovereign Syrian territory. Hopes of US departure appear to have been dashed, however, as it becomes clearer that the new US strategy for Syria requires the US to keep all its assets in Syria, however vulnerable they would be in the event of major conflict, and however much they complicate the humanitarian situation, as potential bargaining chips to force the Syrian government to make concessions in terms of relinquishing Iranian military protection, preparatory to a reinvigorated Geneva negotiating process with a weakened Asad which would deliver the yearned for ‘transition’ away from him.

Return of refugees and reconstruction

With most territory clawed back and fighting now virtually on pause, the Syrian government is working hard to resettle the internally displaced and encourage the return of refugees. Syria’s enemies have discouraged return but many Syrians have voted with their feet: 50,000 have already returned from Lebanon in 2018. Much has been made by those enemies of Law 10 which required property owners to register their claims, an essential step before large scale reconstruction of heavily damaged districts could proceed and new housing be allocated. This was disingenuously portrayed as a land grab by the government. Reports suggest that registration has been put on hold.

Funds for reconstruction remain elusive. The Western powers continue to block any international development assistance as long as the holy grail of ‘transition’ has not been attained.

Meanwhile ordinary Syrians continue to groan under the handicaps of sanctions and government red tape.


Israel’s mis-step in causing the shooting down of a Russian plane has been heavily punished. Syria has now taken delivery of several Russian S-300 anti-aircraft systems, as well as aircraft communication jamming equipment. As a result Israel, which carried out over 200 air raids on Syria before the incident, has not carried out a single one since, possibly pending delivery by the US of more stealth fighter bombers. The US has categorised Russia’s delivery of the new (defensive) systems as ‘destabilising’ ….

Farewell Staffan de Mistura

The UN envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has announced his intention to step down in November, citing ‘personal reasons’. His great achievement in the eyes of Western powers was to keep the Geneva process alive when it was clearly moribund. Without Geneva they would lose the commitment to ‘transition’ which Russia conceded in a moment of great weakness in 2014. The Geneva process has been void of significance, however, for years. The besuited opposition representatives who attend the Geneva discussions are transparently stooges of the Western and Gulf powers and have absolutely no influence over the Islamist battalions, who have not the slightest interest in the refining of the constitution or sharing power and who listen only to Turkey, which controls their logistics. The only meaningful negotiation takes place between Turkey and Russia.

White Helmets

The government declined to answer Baroness Cox’s parliamentary question as to their plans for receiving White Helmets who fled Syria via Israel in July, citing the protection needs of this particularly ‘vulnerable’ category of refugee, only to leak details via the Daily Telegraph a few days later. It transpires that the country can look forward to receiving 28 of these ‘heroes’ with their families. Meanwhile a White Helmets local leader who remained behind, giving the lie to those who claimed they would all be rounded up, told a Western journalist that half of the evacuees were not White Helmets at all but jihadis masquerading as such.

Peter Ford was a British Ambassador to Syria; he is now an important, independent commentator on the dirty war.

October 24, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 1 Comment

Britain on the Leash with the United States – but at Which End?

By James George JATRAS | Strategic Culture Foundation | 13.10.2018

The “special relationship” between the United States and the United Kingdom is often assumed to be one where the once-great, sophisticated Brits are subordinate to the upstart, uncouth Yanks.

Iconic of this assumption is the mocking of former prime minister Tony Blair as George W. Bush’s “poodle” for his riding shotgun on the ill-advised American stagecoach blundering into Iraq in 2003. Blair was in good practice, having served as Bill Clinton’s dogsbody in the no less criminal NATO aggression against Serbia over Kosovo in 1999.

On the surface, the UK may seem just one more vassal state on par with Germany, Japan, South Korea, and so many other useless so-called allies. We control their intelligence services, their military commands, their think tanks, and much of their media. We can sink their financial systems and economies at will. Emblematic is German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s impotent ire at discovering the Obama administration had listened in on her cell phone, about which she – did precisely nothing. Global hegemony means never having to say you’re sorry.

These countries know on which end of the leash they are: the one attached to the collar around their necks. The hand unmistakably is in Washington. These semi-sovereign countries answer to the US with the same servility as member states of the Warsaw Pact once heeded the USSR’s Politburo. (Sometimes more. Communist Romania, though then a member of the Warsaw Pact refused to participate in the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia or even allow Soviet or other Pact forces to cross its territory. By contrast, during NATO’s 1999 assault on Serbia, Bucharest allowed NATO military aircraft access to its airspace, even though not yet a member of that alliance and despite most Romanians’ opposition to the campaign.)

But the widespread perception of Britain as just another satellite may be misleading.

To start with, there are some relationships where it seems the US is the vassal dancing to the tune of the foreign capital, not the other way around. Israel is the unchallenged champion in this weight class, with Saudi Arabia a runner up. The alliance between Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) – the ultimate Washington “power couple” – to get the Trump administration to destroy Iran for them has American politicos listening for instructions with all the rapt attention of the terrier Nipper on the RCA Victor logo. (Or did, until the recent disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Whether this portends a real shift in American attitudes toward Riyadh remains questionableSaudi cash still speaks loudly and will continue to do so whether or not MbS stays in charge.)

Specifics of the peculiar US-UK relationship stem from the period of flux at the end of World War II. The United States emerged from the war in a commanding position economically and financially, eclipsing Britannia’s declining empire that simply no longer had the resources to play the leading role. That didn’t mean, however, that London trusted the Americans’ ability to manage things without their astute guidance. As Tony Judt describes in Postwar, the British attitude of “superiority towards the country that had displaced them at the imperial apex” was “nicely captured” in a scribble during negotiations regarding the UK’s postwar loan:

In Washington Lord Halifax
Once whispered to Lord Keynes:
“It’s true they have the moneybags
But we have all the brains.”

Even in its diminished condition London found it could punch well above its weight by exerting its influence on its stronger but (it was confident) dumber cousins across the Pond. It helped that as the Cold War unfolded following former Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s 1946 Iron Curtain speech there were very close ties between sister agencies like MI6 (founded 1909) and the newer wartime OSS (1942), then the CIA (1947); likewise the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ, 1919) and the National Security Administration (NSA, 1952). Comparable sister agencies – perhaps more properly termed daughters of their UK mothers – were set up in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This became the so-called “Five Eyes” of the tight Anglosphere spook community,infamous for spying on each others’ citizens to avoid pesky legal prohibitions on domestic surveillance.

Despite not having two farthings to rub together, impoverished Britain – where wartime rationing wasn’t fully ended until 1954 – had a prime seat at the table fashioning the world’s postwar financial structure. The 1944 Bretton Woods conference was largely an Anglo-American affair, of which the aforementioned Lord John Maynard Keynes was a prominent architect along with Harry Dexter White, Special Assistant to the US Secretary of the Treasury and Soviet agent.

American and British agendas also dovetailed in the Middle East. While the US didn’t have much of a presence in the region before the 1945 meeting between US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Saudi King ibn Saud, founder of the third and current (and hopefully last) Saudi state – and didn’t assume a dominant role until the humiliation inflicted on Britain, France, and Israel by President Dwight Eisenhower during the 1956 Suez Crisis – London has long considered much of the region within its sphere of influence. After World War I under the Sykes-Picot agreement with France, the UK had expanded her holdings on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, including taking a decisive role in consolidating Saudi Arabia under ibn Saud. While in the 1950s the US largely stepped into Britain’s role managing the “East of Suez,” the former suzerain was by no means dealt out. The UK was a founding member with the US of the now-defunct Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) in 1955.

CENTO – like NATO and their one-time eastern counterpart, the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) – was designed as a counter to the USSR. But in the case of Britain, the history of hostility to Russia under tsar or commissar alike has much deeper and longer roots, going back at least to the Crimean War in the 1850s. The reasons for the longstanding British vendetta against Russia are not entirely clear and seem to have disparate roots: the desire to ensure that no one power is dominant on the European mainland (directed first against France, then Russia, then Germany, then the USSR and again Russia); maintaining supremacy on the seas by denying Russia warm-waters ports, above all the Dardanelles; and making sure territories of a dissolving Ottoman empire would be taken under the wing of London, not Saint Petersburg. As described by Andrew Lambert, professor of naval history at King’s College London, the Crimean War still echoes today:

“In the 1840s, 1850s, Britain and America are not the chief rivals; it’s Britain and Russia. Britain and Russia are rivals for world power, and Turkey, the Ottoman Empire, which is much larger than modern Turkey — it includes modern Romania, Bulgaria, parts of Serbia, and also Egypt and Arabia — is a declining empire. But it’s the bulwark between Russia, which is advancing south and west, and Britain, which is advancing east and is looking to open its connections up through the Mediterranean into its empire in India and the Pacific. And it’s really about who is running Turkey. Is it going to be a Russian satellite, a bit like the Eastern Bloc was in the Cold War, or is it going to be a British satellite, really run by British capital, a market for British goods? And the Crimean War is going to be the fulcrum for this cold war to actually go hot for a couple of years, and Sevastopol is going to be the fulcrum for that fighting.”

Control of the Middle East – and opposing the Russians – became a British obsession, first to sustain the lifeline to India, the Jewel in the Crown of the empire, then for control of petroleum, the life’s blood of modern economies. In the context of the 19th and early 20th century Great Game of empire, that was understandable. Much later, similar considerations might even support Jimmy Carter’s taking up much the same position, declaring in 1980 that “outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” The USSR was then a superpower and we were dependent on energy from the Gulf region.

But what’s our reason for maintaining that posture almost four decades later when the Soviet Union is gone and the US doesn’t need Middle Eastern oil? There are no reasonable national interests, only corporate interests and those of the Arab monarchies we laughably claim as allies. Add to that the bureaucracies and habits of mind that link the US and UK establishments, including their intelligence and financial components.

In view of all the foregoing, what then would policymakers in the United Kingdom think about an aspirant to the American presidency who not only disparages the value of existing alliances – without which Britain is a bit player – but openly pledges to improve relations with Moscow? To what lengths would they go to stop him?

Say ‘hello’ to Russiagate!

One can argue whether or not the phony claim of the Trump campaign’s “collusion” with Moscow was hatched in London or whether the British just lent some “hands across the water” to an effort concocted by the Democratic National Committee, the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, the Clinton Foundation, and their collaborators at Fusion GPS and inside the Obama administration. Either way, it’s clear that while evidence of Russian connection is nonexistent that of British agencies is unmistakable, as is the UK’s hand in a sustained campaign of demonization and isolation to sink any possible rapprochement between the US and Russia.

As for Russiagate itself, just try to find anyone involved who’s actually Russian. The only basis for the widespread assumption that any material in the Dirty Dossier that underlies the whole operationoriginated with Russia is the claim of Christopher Steele, the British “ex” spy who wrote it, evidently in collaboration with people at the US State Department and Fusion GPS. (The notion that Steele, who hadn’t been in Russia for years, would have Kremlin personal contacts is absurd. How chummy are the heads of the American section of Chinese or Russian intelligence with White House staff?)

While there are no obvious Russians in Russiagate there’s no shortage of Brits. These include (details at the link):

  • Stefan Halper, a dual US-UK citizen.
  • Ex-MI6 Director Richard Dearlove.
  • Alexander Downer, Australian diplomat (well, not British but remember the Five Eyes!).
  • Joseph Mifsud, Maltese academic and suspected British agent.

At present, the full role played by those listed above is not known. Release of unredacted FISA warrant requests by the Justice Department, which President Trump ordered weeks ago, would shed light on a number of details. Implementation of that order was derailed after a request by – no surprise – British Prime Minister Theresa May. Was she seeking to conceal Russian perfidy, or her own underlings’?

It would be bad enough if Russiagate were the sum of British meddling in American affairs with the aim of torpedoing relations with Moscow. (And to be fair, it wasn’t just the UK and Australia. Also implicated are Estonia, Israel, and Ukraine.) But there is also reason to suspect the same motive in false accusations against Russia with respect to the supposed Novichok poisonings in England has a connection to Russiagate via a business associate of Steele’s, one Pablo MillerSergei Skripal’s MI6 recruiter. (So if it turns out there is any Russian connection to the dossier, it could be from Skripal or another dubious expat source, not from the Russian government.) Skripal and his daughter Yulia have disappeared in British custody. Moscow flatly accuses MI6 of poisoning them as a false flag to blame it on Russia.

A similar pattern can be seen with claims of chemical weapons use in Syria: “We have irrefutable evidence that the special services of a state which is in the forefront of the Russophobic campaign had a hand in the staging” of a faked chemical weapons attack in Douma in April 2018. Ambassador Aleksandr Yakovenko pointed to the so-called White Helmets, which is closely associated with al-Qaeda elements and considered by some their PR arm: “I am naming them because they have done things like this before. They are famous for staging attacks in Syria and they receive UK money.” Moscow warned for weeks before the now-postponed Syrian government offensive in Idlib that the same ruse was being prepared again with direct British intelligence involvement, even having prepared in advance a video showing victims of an attack that had not yet occurred.

The campaign to demonize Russia shifted into high gear recently with the UK, together with the US and the Netherlands, accusing Russian military intelligence of a smorgasbord of cyberattacks against the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) and other sports organizations, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Dutch investigation into the downing of MH-17 over Ukraine, and a Swiss lab involved with the Skripal case, plus assorted election interference. In case anyone didn’t get the point, British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson declared: “This is not the actions of a great power. This is the actions of a pariah state, and we will continue working with allies to isolate them.”

To the extent that the goal of Williamson and his ilk is to ensure isolation and further threats against Russia, it’s been a smashing success. More sanctions are on the way. The UK is sending additional troops to the Arctic to counter Russian “aggression.” The US threatens to use naval power to block Russian energy exports and to strike Russian weapons disputed under a treaty governing intermediate range nuclear forces. What could possibly go wrong?

In sum, we are seeing a massive, coordinated hybrid campaign of psy-ops and political warfare conducted not by Russia but against Russia, concocted by the UK and its Deep State collaborators in the United States. But it’s not only aimed at Russia, it’s an attack on the United States by the government of a foreign country that’s supposed to be one of our closest allies, a country with which we share many venerable traditions of language, law, and culture.

But for far too long, largely for reasons of historical inertia and elite corruption, we’ve allowed that government to exercise undue influence on our global policies in a manner not conducive to our own national interests. Now that government, employing every foul deception that earned it the moniker Perfidious Albion, seeks to embroil us in a quarrel with the only country on the planet that can destroy us if things get out of control.

This must stop. A thorough reappraisal of our “special relationship” with the United Kingdom and exposure of its activities to the detriment of the US is imperative.

October 13, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Background of Russia-Greek Summit in December: Greek Defense Chief Makes Landmark Foreign Policy Proposals

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 13.10.2018

Greece’s Defense Minister Panos Kammenos visited the United States on October 9 to make two proposals that would change a lot if accepted: a new Balkans military alliance and substantial expanding of US military presence in the country. The latter includes setting up three military bases in Larissa, in Volos, in Alexandroupolis on a more permanent basis. The regional defense alliance, formed to diminish “Russia’s influence”, is to comprise Greece, Macedonia (FYROM), Albania, Bulgaria, and later Serbia. “I want to affirm that Greece considers the United States a strategic partner and ally… the only one, I dare to say,” he said during the meeting with US Defense Secretary James Mattis. “It is very important for Greece that the United States deploy military assets in Greece on a more permanent basis, not only in Souda Bay but also in Larissa, in Volos, in Alexandropoulis,” he added.

In the spring of 2018, the US began operating MQ-9 Reaper drones out of Greece’s Larisa Air Force Base. The American-Greek defense cooperation agenda includes the extension of the agreement for the use of the US naval base in Souda Bay, Crete, the upgrading of the Greek fleet of F-16 military jets and the plans to build a second military base in southern Crete. The United States and Greece are reportedly discussing the creation of a military base on the island of Karpathos in the South Aegean Sea, between Rhodes and Crete. According to the plans, the island will host US Patriot air defense missile systems and F-22 Raptor fighters. US F-35 will be stationed in Volos, F-16 in Andravia, while F-15 are already in Souda airbase in Crete.

As the relationship with Turkey continues to deteriorate, Greece acquires a more significant military role for the United States in the Mediterranean as well as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The Wall Street Journal reported last month, “the US military is in talks to expand its operations in Greece, including using more air and naval bases here, signaling a potential move toward the eastern Mediterranean amid growing tensions with Turkey.” According to the source, US officials who had visited Greece not long before the publication said both the government and the opposition were receptive to strengthening military ties. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, believes that the “geography of Greece and the opportunities here are pretty significant.”

A military alliance of Greek Cyprus, Israel and Greece, Eastern Mediterranean Alliance (EMA), has actually been formed. Greece and Israel have a military cooperation agreement in place since 2015. The military ties between Cyprus and Israel are also expanding. After a trilateral conference held in Larnaca in June, defense chiefs of the three countries pledged to expand cooperation on cyber-security, joint military drills and search and rescue operations in the eastern Mediterranean. The three also visited the US together in May. Last month, the United States opened its first permanent military facility in Israel.

The US has recently changed its Syria policy, including the support of the Kurds that angers Turkey so much. With the tariffs and sanctions war unleashed by Washington against Ankara, it appears to have nothing to lose. The United States is considering permanent cuts to its military presence in Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey, a strategic point for its military operations in Syria. This possibility is very real as several pro-government Turkish lawyers have reportedly filed charges against US Air Force officers associated with the base, alleging they are connected to those who staged the attempted coup d’état against Turkey’s government in 2016.

Greece wants Alexandroupolis to become a hub for the gas being exported from Israel via Cyprus, Crete and Greece to Italy. The route will bypass Turkey, which is adamant in its desire to prevent such a scenario. It says part of the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus is under Turkish jurisdiction. A conflict is possible and the EMA partners want the US to be on their side. America needs the allies too as it strives to increase its clout in the Middle East. Libya is among the countries it wants to control, while rolling Russia back. The United States needs military support, especially bases, as it has decided to stay in Syria “until Iran withdraws its forces”. The growing military cooperation between the EMA alliance and the US reflects nothing else but war preparations.

In summer, Greece expelled two Russian diplomats accused of attempting to instill opposition to the agreement in order to prevent Macedonia’s NATO membership. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov subsequently canceled a planned visit to Athens. All these trends and events create certain background before the visit of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to Russia scheduled on Dec. 7 (it had been previously planned for Dec.12). The two countries have always been friends and close partners but the announced plans to turn Greece into a US aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean is a matter of concern and not only for Moscow.

October 13, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

China’s Uyghur Problem — The Unmentioned Part

By F. William Engdahl – New Eastern Outlook – 05.10.2018

In recent months Western media and the Washington Administration have begun to raise a hue and cry over alleged mass internment camps in China’s northwestern Xinjiang where supposedly up to one million ethnic Uyghur Chinese are being detained and submitted to various forms of “re-education.” Several things about the charges are notable, not the least that all originate from Western media or “democracy” NGOs such as Human Rights Watch whose record for veracity leaves something to be desired.

In August Reuters published an article under the headline, “UN says it has credible reports that China holds million Uighurs in secret camps.” A closer look at the article reveals no official UN policy statement, but rather a quote from one American member of an independent committee that does not speak for the UN, a member with no background in China. The source of the claim it turns out is a UN independent advisory NGO called Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The sole person making the charge, American committee member Gay McDougall, stated she was “deeply concerned” about “credible reports.” McDougall cited no source for the dramatic charge.

Reuters in their article boosts its claim by citing a murky Washington DC based NGO, the Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD). In an excellent background investigation, researchers at the Grayzone Project found that the CHRD gets hundreds of thousands of dollars from unnamed governments. The notorious US government NGO, National Endowment for Democracy, is high on the list of usual suspects. Notably, the CHRD official address is that of the Human Rights Watch which gets funds also from the Soros foundation.

The ‘Uyghur Problem’

The true state of affairs in China’s Xinjiang Province regarding Uyghurs is not possible to independently verify, whether such camps exist and if so who is there and under what conditions. What is known, however, is the fact that NATO intelligence agencies, including that of Turkey and of the US, along with Saudi Arabia, have been involved in recruiting and deploying thousands of Chinese Uyghur Muslims to join Al Qaeda and other terror groups in Syria in recent years. This side of the equation warrants a closer look, the side omitted by Reuters or UN Ambassador Haley.

According to Syrian media cited in, there are presently an estimated 18,000 ethnic Uyghurs in Syria most concentrated in a village on the Turkish border to Syria. Since 2013 such Uyghur soldiers have gone from combat alongside Al Qaeda in Syria and returned to China’s Xinjiang where they have carried out various terrorist acts. This is the tip of a nasty NATO-linked project to plant the seeds of terror and unrest in China. Xinjiang is a lynchpin of China’s Belt Road Initiative, the crossroads of strategic oil and gas pipelines from Kazakhstan, Russia and a prime target of CIA intrigue since decades.

Since at least 2011 at the start of the NATO war against Bashar al Assad’s Syria, Turkey had played a key role in facilitating the flow of Chinese Uyghur people to become Jihadists in Syria. I deliberately use “had” tense to give benefit of the doubt if it still is the case today or if it has become an embarrassment for Erdogan and Turkish intelligence. In any case it seems that thousands of Uyghurs are holed up in Syria, most around Idlib, the reported last outpost of anti-regime terrorists.

Washington and ETIM

In an excellent analysis of China’s Uyghur terror history, Steven Sahiounie, a Syrian journalist with 21st Century Wire, notes that a key organization behind the radicalization of Chinese Uyghur youth is the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and its political front, the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), which is also known as “Katibat Turkistani.” He cites a speech in Istanbul in 1995 by Turkey’s Erdogan, then Mayor, who declared, “Eastern Turkestan is not only the home of the Turkic peoples but also the cradle of Turkic history, civilization and culture…” Eastern Turkestan is Xinjiang.

ETIM today is headed by Anwar Yusuf Turani, self-proclaimed Prime Minister of a government in exile which notably is based in Washington DC. ETIM moved to Washington at a time the US State Department listed it as a terrorist organization, curiously enough. According to a report in a Turkish investigative magazine, Turk Pulse, Turani’s organization’s “activities for the government in exile are based on a report entitled ‘The Xinjiang Project.’ That was written by former senior CIA officer Graham E. Fuller in 1998 for the Rand Corporation and revised in 2003 under the title ‘The Xinjiang Problem.’”

I have written extensively in my book, The Lost Hegemon, about career senior CIA operative Graham Fuller. Former Istanbul CIA station chief, Fuller was one of the architects of the Reagan-Bush Iran-Contra affair, and a prime CIA sponsor or handler of Gülen who facilitated Gülen’s USA exile. He was also by his own admission, in Istanbul the night of the failed 2016 coup. In 1999 during the end of the Russian Yelstin era, Fuller declared, “The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Russians. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.” This is what the covert US weaponization of ETIM is aimed at. Like most radical Sunni Jihadist groups, Turani’s ETIM got funding as most radical Sunni Jihadist groups from Saudi Arabia.

In the late 1990s, Hasan Mahsum, also known as Abu-Muhammad al-Turkestani, founder of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, moved ETIM’s headquarters to Kabul, taking shelter under Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, ETIM leaders met with Osama bin Laden and other leaders of the CIA-trained Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to coordinate actions across Central Asia. When the Pakistani military assassinated al-Turkestani in 2003 Turani became head of ETIM, and took his roadshow to Washington.

In his own study of Xinjiang, the CIA’s Graham E. Fuller noted that Saudi Arabian groups had disseminated extremist Wahhabi religious literature and possibly small arms through sympathizers in Xinjiang, and that young Turkic Muslims had been recruited to study at madrasas in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. He adds that Uyghurs from Xinjiang also fought alongside Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Fuller noted, “Uyghurs are indeed in touch with Muslim groups outside Xinjiang, some of them have been radicalized into broader jihadist politics in the process, a handful were earlier involved in guerrilla or terrorist training in Afghanistan, and some are in touch with international Muslim mujahideen struggling for Muslim causes of independence worldwide.”

The January 2018 Pentagon National Defense Strategy policy document explicitly named China along with Russia as main strategic “threats” to continued US supremacy. It states, “Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in US national security.” Explicitly, and this is new, the Pentagon paper does not cite a military threat but an economic one. It states, “China and Russia are now undermining the international order from within the system by exploiting its benefits while simultaneously undercutting its principles and ‘rules of the road.’” The escalating trade war against China, threats of sanctions over allegations of Uyghur detention camps in Xinjiang, threats of sanctions if China buys Russian defense equipment, are all aimed at disruption of the sole emerging threat to a Washington global order, one that is not based on freedom or justice but rather on fear and tyranny. How China’s authorities are trying to deal with this full assault is another issue. The context of events in Xinjiang however needs to be made clear. The West and especially Washington is engaged in full-scale irregular war against the stability of China.

October 6, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Illegal US Nuclear Weapons Handouts

By John Laforge | CounterPunch | September 27, 2018

The US military practice of placing nuclear weapons in five other countries (no other nuclear power does this) is a legal and political embarrassment for US diplomacy. That’s why all the governments involved refuse to “confirm or deny” the practice of “nuclear sharing” or the locations of the B61 free-fall gravity bombs in question.

Expert analysts and observers agree that the United States currently deploys 150-to-180 of these nuclear weapons at bases in Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Turkey and Belgium. The authors of the January 2018 report “Building a Safe, Secure, and Credible NATO Nuclear Posture” take for granted the open secret that nuclear sharing is ongoing even though all six countries are signatory parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

In a paper for the journal Science for Democratic Action, German weapons expert Otfried Nassauer, director of Berlin’s Information Center for Transatlantic Security, concluded, “NATO’s program of ‘nuclear sharing’ with five European countries probably violates Articles I and II of the Treaty.”

Article I prohibits nuclear weapon states that are parties to the NPT from sharing their weapons. It says: “Each nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly….” Article II, the corollary commitment, states says: “Each non-nuclear weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to receive the transfer from any transferor whatsoever of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly … or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices….”

What nuclear sharing means in practice

The five NATO countries currently hosting US H-bombs on their air bases are officially “non-nuclear weapons states.” But as Nassauer reports, “Under NATO nuclear sharing in times of war, the US would hand control of these nuclear weapons over to the non-nuclear weapon states’ pilots for use with aircraft from non-nuclear weapon states. Once the bomb is loaded aboard, once the correct Permissive Action Link code has been entered by the US soldiers guarding the weapons, and once the aircraft begins its mission, control over the respective weapon(s) has been transferred. That is the operational, technical part of what is called ‘nuclear sharing.’”

This flaunting of the NPT is what peace activists on both sides of the Atlantic refer to when calling the US bombs in Europe “illegal.” Nassauer notes, “The pilots for these aircraft are provided with training specific to use nuclear weapons. The air force units to which these pilots and aircraft belong have the capability to play a part in NATO nuclear planning, including assigning a target, selecting the yield of the warhead for the target, and planning a specific mission for the use of the bombs.”

“NATO nuclear sharing,” Nassauer writes, “was described in 1964 by one member of the US National Security Council … as meaning that ‘the non-nuclear NATO-partners in effect become nuclear powers in time of war.’ The concern is that, at the moment the aircraft loaded with the bomb is on the runway ready to start, the control of the weapon is turned over from the US, a nuclear weapon state, to non-nuclear weapon states. … To my understanding, this is in violation of the spirit if not the text of Articles I and II of the NPT.”

How Do the US and its Allies Explain their Lawlessness?

An undated, 1960s-era letter from then-US Secretary of State Rusk explained the US ‘interpretation’ of the NPT. The pretext for ignoring the treaty’s plain language, the Rusk letter “argues that the NPT does not specify what is allowed, but only what is forbidden. In this view, everything that is not forbidden by the NPT is allowed,” Nassaure explained.

In its most absurd section, Rusk simply denies the treaty’s obvious purpose and intent. “Since the treaty doesn’t explicitly talk about the deployment of nuclear warheads in countries that are non-nuclear weapon states,” Nassaure writes, “such deployments are considered legal under the NPT.”

It is so easy to show that the United States and its nuclear sharing partners are in violation of the NPT, the governments involved work hard pretending there is nothing to worry about, no lawbreaking underway, no reason to demand answers. This is why so many activists across Europe have become nonviolently disobedient at the air bases involved.

The transparent unlawfulness of NATO’s nuclear war planning is also the reason why prosecutors in Germany don’t dare bring serious charges against civil resisters; even those who have cut fences and occupied hot weapons bunkers in broad daylight. Some Air Force witness might testify at trial that US nuclear weapons are on base.

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

September 27, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Turkey and Syria: When “Soft Power” Turned Hard

By Jeremy Salt | American Herald Tribune | September 25, 2018

The onset of the so-called Arab Spring in late 2010 took governments around the world by surprise, and Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi, AKP) government was no exception. Repositioning itself to meet new circumstances, it gradually turned its back on some of the defining principles of its previous policy. Opposed to outside military intervention anywhere in the Middle East, it came in behind the NATO attack on Libya. Committed to “soft power” and dialogue, it substituted engagement with Syria in favor of confrontation and “regime change.”

In supporting the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which launched murderous assaults across the Syrian border, as well as other armed groups seeking to pull down the Syrian government, the AKP government took foreign policy in a radically new direction, leading eventually to the occupation of Syrian territory. Not since the establishment of the republic in 1923 had a Turkish government interfered so openly and aggressively in the affairs of a neighboring state. Balancing risks against opportunities, its choices seemed a signal to the world of how it saw Turkey, no longer just as a regional power but one intent on playing a more influential role on the global stage and prepared to act accordingly.

In 2011, following the collapse or overthrow of governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, the “Western” and Middle Eastern regional coalition calling itself the Friends of the Syrian People set out to destroy the government in Damascus. Initially, it hoped to achieve this through an aerial offensive launched under the aegis of the UN Security Council. With Russia and China making it clear that they would not allow a no-fly zone to be established over Syria, and with Russia going on to veto a French resolution (October 2016) demanding an end to air strikes on “rebel” positions in and around Aleppo, the Friends of the Syrian People had to resort to the use of proxy forces that it armed and paid. Given Turkey’s long border with Syria, its role in this project was of critical importance; without its participation, it is doubtful this onslaught on the Syrian government could have gone ahead.

Some of the fallout could have been predicted. Shia Iran — and Iraq, with its predominantly Shia government — were hostile from the start. A refugee flow from Syria into Turkey was inevitable, but possibly not to the extent it reached: according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 3.5 million people by May 2018, maintained in and out of more than 20 camps near the Syrian border, at a cost to the Turkish government alone, according to its own figures, of about $30 billion. The refugee situation ultimately gave rise to friction with the EU. Turkey complained that the EU was not delivering the aid it had promised, and President Erdogan warned in 2018, as he had in 2016, “We are the ones feeding three million to 3.5 million refugees in this country. You have betrayed your promises. If you go any further, those border gates will be opened.” [1] These angry words fed into anti-Turkish sentiment developing in Europe over other issues, namely Turkey’s deteriorating human-rights situation and President Erdogan’s labeling Dutch and German authorities “Nazi remnants” and “the grandchildren of Nazis” for refusing to allow Turkish electoral campaigning within their borders. Against European protests, he insisted, “I will describe Europe as Nazis [sic] as long as they call me a dictator.” [2]

Turkey’s involvement in Syria led to accusations of widespread plunder from East Aleppo when it was occupied by takfiri jihadist groups, with factories allegedly being dismantled and the parts transported across the Turkish border for sale. The sale of oil from territory conquered by the Islamic State was another issue. According to reports, a company with links to President Erdogan’s son-in-law and cabinet minister, Berat Albayrak, was transporting contraband oil from territory conquered by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria across the Turkish border, along with oil from Iraq’s Kurdish north — which was in dispute with the government in Baghdad over oil rights. [3] The oil was allegedly moved to the southeastern Turkish oil terminal at Ceyhan for onward sale. Russian drone surveillance footage showed hundreds of tankers lined up in the Iraqi desert or clustered around the Turkish border, some of them crossing it. Large-scale aerial bombing of the tankers after Russian intervention in Syria appears to have brought the trade to an end.

An MP of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Eren Erdem, was charged with treason after alleging that President Erdogan himself benefitted from Islamic State oil sales. Erdem also claimed that the sarin nerve gas allegedly used against civilians in the Ghouta outer district of Damascus in August, 2013 was transported across the border from Turkey (a charge also made by the veteran American journalist Seymour Hersh [4]). Erdem’s parliamentary immunity from prosecution ended when the CHP failed to renominate him ahead of the June 2018 elections and he was banned from leaving the country.

Ankara’s Syria policy also led to serious complications with Moscow, especially the shooting down of a Russian Sukhoi SU-24 by a Turkish F16 fighter aircraft near the Turkish-Syrian border on November 24, 2015. Trade sanctions by way of punishment continued until most had been lifted by May 2017, in tandem with the progress of the Astana “peace” talks involving Russia, Turkey and Iran.

In the wake of the decision to confront the Syrian government, uncounted numbers of takfiri jihadists traveled across Turkey from around the world to join the fight in Syria. Some entered Turkey by land from the Caucasus. Others flew into Istanbul and then moved by bus or plane to safe houses in the southeast before crossing the border. As they entered the country legally, and as journalists were able to locate them, it could scarcely be argued that the government did not know who they were or where they were going. At the same time, Islamic State (IS) cells were forming in various parts of the country.

Between 2013 and 2016, suicide or car bombings caused havoc across Turkey. Some were the work of the Kurdish Freedom Hawks (TAK), retaliating for Turkish military action against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the southeast and the civilian casualties that were caused inside Kurdish towns and cities as a result. Others were bombings connected with the Islamic State. The TAK bombing of buses carrying military and civilian personnel from army headquarters in Ankara on February 17, 2016, was followed on March 13 by its bombing of civilian buses on Ataturk Boulevard in nearby Kizilay. More than 60 people were killed in the two bombings. Later that same year, on June 7, 12 police were killed when the TAK bombed a bus in central Istanbul; and on December 10, a car bombing and a suicide bombing in the central Istanbul Bosporus suburb of Beşiktaş, both claimed by the TAK, killed 48 people.

Attacks by the Islamic State include the suicide bombing of a police post in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet tourist district in January 2015. The bomber, the Daghestani widow of a Norwegian-Chechen IS fighter, and one policeman were killed. In July 2015, a student from the city of Adiyaman, a known center of IS recruitment, killed 32 Turkish and Kurdish students in a suicide bombing in the border town of Suruc. In January 2016, a Syrian IS suicide bomber killed 13 people, all of them foreign tourists, in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district. In March, a suicide bombing killed five people, three of them Israeli, in the fashionable Beyoglu quarter. In June, Russian and Central Asian IS attackers killed 45 people in an attack on the international terminal at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport. On January 1, 2017, an Uzbek national killed 39 people and wounded dozens with an AK-47 assault rifle during an attack on the Reina nightclub in the Bosporus suburb of Ortakoy. He was captured and more than 50 alleged accomplices were later arrested. The attack was claimed by IS.

In some cases, no responsibility was claimed, and the perpetrators were never clearly identified. These attacks include the bombing of a peace demonstration outside the central Ankara railway terminal in October 2015, in which 109 people were killed. One of the bombers was allegedly identified as the younger brother of the perpetrator of the Suruc bombing. However, as the demonstration had been organized by the largely Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), along with civil-society groups, and as general elections were to be held in three weeks time, suspicions were also raised of “deep-state” involvement. The first, and worst, of the atrocities were the two car bombings on May 11, 2013, which killed 51 people, wounded scores of others and caused massive destruction in the Hatay Province town of Reyhanli, adjacent to the Syrian border. Responsibility was never claimed but suspicions rested on the Islamic State or Jabhat al-Nusra.

Turkey had wanted a physical presence inside Syria from the beginning of the crisis, a “safe” or “buffer” zone or “humanitarian corridor.” Ankara had already sent troops across the border on one specific mission — to relocate the historic Suleyman Shah tomb to a new site only a few hundred meters from the Turkish border — when in 2016 it launched the large-scale Euphrates Shield operation in the name of driving the Islamic State and the Kurdish militia (the People’s Protection Units, YPG) out of the border region.

Disagreement between the United States and Turkey over the status of the YPG, a “terrorist” group allied with the PKK, according to the Turkish government (though not in the eyes of the U.S. administration) led to heated rhetoric, with Turkey threatening to extend its military operations to Manbij and even across the Euphrates to the Iraqi border. Daily control of Manbij by the largely Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an ally of the YPG, further inflamed relations between Washington and Ankara, until the two governments reached agreement on the withdrawal of the SDF and joint patrols by their military forces. Other issues dividing the two NATO members included the refusal of the United States to extradite the Muslim guru Fethullah Gulen, accused of orchestrating the failed coup of 2016; the arrest of a U.S. pastor in Izmir accused of fomenting terrorism through his alleged links with the Gulen movement; the prosecution in the United States of a senior Turkish Halkbank (People’s Bank) executive on charges of money laundering for Iran; the charges laid against 12 members of Erdogan’s security detail, filmed brutally kicking and beating demonstrators outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence during the president’s visit to Washington in May 2017; and the strengthening of Turkey’s relations with Russia — despite the near crisis in 2015, when Turkey shot down a Russian jet along the Syrian border, and its decision to purchase Russian S-400 missiles.

The exclusion of the United States from negotiations over Syria in Astana by Russia, Iran and Turkey, and the purchase of Russian missiles were followed by hints from President Erdogan of increased “defense” cooperation with Russia, putting further strains on the NATO alliance. Along with developing trade relations was the issue of Russian support for Turkish nuclear development. In April 2018, in line with an agreement signed by the two governments in 2010, work began on the construction of a nuclear power plant at Akkuyu, on the Mediterranean coast in the southern province of Mersin. The plant will be built, owned and operated by the Russian state energy corporation, Rosatom.

In early 2018, Turkey launched a second military operation (Olive Branch) in the Afrin region of northwestern Syria, culminating in the routing of the YPG militia and the occupation of Afrin city. As a result of these two operations, Turkey and its Turkish Free Syrian Army (TFSA) auxiliaries — many recruited from armed groups involved in the fighting against the Syrian government — control hundreds of villages and towns in 3,460 square kilometers of northwestern Syria. The occupied zone stretches as far south as Al Bab, 40 kilometers north of Aleppo. Within this region, Turkey has set up a full range of administrative services, from police and post offices to schools (where Turkish is now taught as a second language) and local councils operating under Turkish control. Harran University, in Turkey’s southeast, will also be opening a branch in the Turkish-occupied zone. Following his victory in the presidential elections, Erdogan said he would take further measures to “liberate” Syria.

The infrastructure at Al Bab includes the establishment of an industrial zone north of the city. Representatives of the governor of Gaziantep were present at the laying of the cornerstone on February 10, 2018. Built over 56 hectares, the site will include factories, hotels, four mosques, power stations and the provision of all utilities as well as the construction of a road network connecting Al Bab to other parts of the territory Turkey has occupied. Turkish control extends to Idlib province, where in the name of “de-escalation” it has established at least 12 “observation posts,” as sanctioned by its partners in the Astana negotiations. Large parts of the province plus Idlib city itself are controlled by the takfiri Hayat Tahrir al Sham. In the regions brought under Turkish control, Kizilay (the Turkish Red Crescent) and the Turkish Directorate of Emergency Management (AFAD) have prepared camps and assistance for tens of thousands of refugees from other parts of Syria, including takfiris and their families removed from cities and regions recaptured by the Syrian army.

The political complexities in this situation include the “green light” given by Russia for Turkish military intervention in Afrin, including the use of air power. Through the Astana talks, Russia had also sanctioned the stationing of Turkish troops in Idlib to monitor the “de-escalation” zones, transforming Turkey through these maneuvers into an ostensible partner for peace talks even as it continued to consolidate its occupation of Syrian territory. With all takfiri groups cleared out of the Damascus region, the Syrian army turned its attention towards the armed groups operating near the Jordanian border and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and campaigned against U.S.-backed forces in Deir al Zor province. Eventually its attention must swing towards the northwestern and northeastern regions occupied by Turkish and U.S. forces and their proxies. In early June 2018, President Assad, determined to restore his government’s authority over all of Syria, warned that force would be used against U.S. troops if they were not withdrawn voluntarily.

The Turkish government says return of the territory it holds to the Syrian government is “completely inconceivable,” as Deputy Prime Minister Recep Akdag has remarked of Afrin. According to President Erdogan, “We will solve the Afrin issue and the Idlib issue, and we want our refugee brothers and sisters to return to their country,” adding that Turkey would not shelter them forever. [5] To whom the occupied territory would be returned if not the Syrian government remained an unanswered question.

Against the background of all the developments since 2011, a central question is how or whether intervention in Syria can be said to have served the Turkish national interest, as assessed on the basis of costs and benefits to the Turkish state and its people. The course of Turkish involvement in the war in and on Syria, as examined in the foregoing pages, may point to some answers.


The election of the AKP in 2002 signaled radical, if not counterrevolutionary, changes in Turkey’s social and political fabric as well as redirections in its foreign policy. As early as 1994, the success of the Islamist Refah (Welfare) Party in local elections was a sign that Turkey was breaking away from its Kemalist past in favor of a political model that would place greater emphasis on Muslim values and closer connections with the Muslim world. The military had intervened in 1960 and 1980. Then, in 1997, less than a year after Refah had become the dominant partner in a coalition government with the True Path Party (Dogru Yol Partisi), it intervened again, not by putting tanks on the streets but by squeezing Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan out of office in what has often been called a “soft” or “post-modern” coup.

With the Constitutional Court closing down the party and Erbakan banned from taking part in politics, the military fixed its sights on Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Refah mayor of the greater Istanbul municipality. He was jailed for reciting a poem considered to be incitement to religious or racial hatred; released after six months, he went on to co-found the Justice and Development Party in August, 2001. His rhetoric was that of a changed man. While not retreating from his conservative religious convictions, Erdogan insisted that his party was on a different path from its Refah forerunner. “We have opened a new page with a new group of people, a brand new party…. We were anti-European. Now we’re pro-European.” [6] Although the new party was committed to enlarging democracy within the secular framework of the constitution, doubts remained, usually summed up with mystical references to a “hidden agenda” that would only become clear once the party had consolidated its position in power.

Cutting the head off the Refah hydra made no difference; other heads quickly grew in its place, first the Fazilet (Virtue) Party and then Erdogan’s AKP. In the 2002 general elections, the party won 34 percent of the vote, enough to give it a majority in the Grand National Assembly. In 2007, it took 46.7 percent of the vote, and in the 2011 elections — after narrowly surviving an attempt by the Constitutional Court prosecutor to close it down in 2008 — increased its lead still further to 49.8 percent. In the June 2015 elections, the AKP lost its majority but regained it when fresh elections were held in November to resolve the parliamentary deadlock. The party also won a series of constitutional “reform” referendums in 2007, 2010 and 2017, centering on the establishment of an executive presidency, the authority of which Erdogan had already de facto assumed. In 2014, he was elected president by popular vote, replacing the parliamentary mode. This election was marked by numerous reports of irregularities, including the use of unofficial unstamped ballot papers. In an unprecedented move, the head of the Supreme Electoral Board, refusing to investigate complaints about the conduct of the elections, declared that they should be regarded as valid. In 2017, constitutional changes diminishing the power and prerogatives of parliament and tightening government control of the judiciary while greatly increasing the authority of the president were narrowly passed by referendum. Again, many irregularities were reported but not investigated. On June 24, 2018, Erdogan was re-elected as president in the new constitutional system on 52.59 percent of the vote.

In the early years, the AKP government worked hard for EU accession. It brought hyperinflation to a halt and stabilized the currency, but perhaps its most startling achievement was the way in which it took on its primal enemy — the military — and won. Hundreds of senior army officers were accused of being part of a “deep-state” network known as Ergenekon [7] and charged with plotting to overthrow the government. These measures were taken when the AKP government was cooperating with the Gulen movement. The latter’s methods (the slow indoctrination of society through a countrywide network of dershane preparatory schools) were different from the political route followed by the AKP, but their aims were the same: the gradual re-Islamization of Turkish society and the slow whittling away of the Kemalist heritage. However, by 2013, the relationship between the government and the movement had broken down. From that time onwards, the Gülen movement became the “parallel state” and finally the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), which the government accused of launching the failed coup of 2016.

Reconnecting with Turkey’s Ottoman past, and seeking to use the historical and cultural connections between Istanbul and the Muslim world as a foreign-policy tool, the government tilted towards closer relations with Arabs and Muslims, while still proclaiming its commitment to the goal of EU accession. An early sign that Turks were prepared to take a more independent stand on the Middle East was the decision by the Grand National Assembly in 2003 not to commit Turkish troops to the war on Iraq. Another was Erdogan’s close identification with the Palestinian cause. In 2004 Erdogan called Israel a terrorist state after a missile attack killed the eminent Gazan religious scholar Ahmad Yassin. He sharply criticized Israel during its attacks on Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008 and later said that “a slow and methodical massacre has been taking place in Palestine since the early 20th century.” [8] Taking part in a panel discussion at Davos in January 2009, he turned on Israeli President Shimon Peres with the words: “When it comes to killing you know well how to kill.” After the 2010 attack on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, Erdogan said the Israeli government was inhuman, aggressive, brazen, irresponsible, despicable, cowardly, reckless and vicious. [9]

While Turkey had been moving towards a major policy reorientation ever since the AKP government came into office, it was Ahmet Davutoglu who set its contours. An academic and former senior adviser to the prime minister, Davutoglu was appointed foreign minister on May 1, 2009, subsequently serving as prime minister from 2014 to 2016, when he decided not to stand for office again. The phrases associated with his approach to foreign policy were “soft power,” “strategic depth,” “dialogue” and “zero problems” with neighboring states. While Turkey suffered some setbacks (including the rejection in 2010 by the White House of a nuclear agreement with Iran brokered by Turkey and Brazil), soft power was extremely successful as a diplomatic tool.

Dialogue was especially marked in the case of Syria, with senior officials from both countries making a flurry of visits to each other’s capitals and cementing both political and commercial ties. By 2010, trade between the two had jumped to $2.5 billion, a 43 percent increase over the previous year. The lingering aftereffects of previous problems — especially Syria’s support for the PKK and the sanctuary given to its leader, Abdullah Ocalan — appeared to have been smoothed over, with the lifting of visa requirements for Turkish and Syrian citizens putting the seal on the process.

By late 2010, however, the onset of the Arab Spring had rocked the foundations on which Turkish foreign policy had been built. Within a few months, soft power began to look more like old-fashioned hard power. Having initially opposed outside armed intervention anywhere in the Middle East, the AKP government ended up coming in behind the NATO air attack on Libya and backing armed groups seeking to overthrow the Syrian government, from within Syria and through attacks launched across the Turkish border. Where Syria’s president was concerned, the language of dialogue and mediation gave way to threats, warnings and insults.


In the years leading up to the Arab Spring, the AKP government had given no signs of disapproval of Arab governments, even though their abuses of human rights and — in the case of some Gulf states — lack of democratic infrastructure were matters of global concern. Erdogan had developed a close working relationship with both Bashar al-Assad and Muammar al-Qadhafi, from whose government he had received, as late as December 2010, the Qadhafi International Prize for Human Rights (worth $250,000). Like governments everywhere, however, the AKP was caught on the back foot by the rapid developments in Tunisia, where the death of Muhammad Bouazizi on January 4, 2011, triggered demonstrations that precipitated the flight of President Zine el Abidine bin Ali 10 days later. In the Turkish government’s view, Tunisia was the start of a widespread regional revolt to which it should respond by supporting the people. This would accord with being on “the right side” of history as depicted by Davutoglu. [10]

Although Davutoglu described Turkey’s intervention in Egypt as “a risk,” [11] the government only intervened after even Husni Mubarak’s chief sponsor, the U.S. administration, was getting ready to abandon him. Addressing his party’s parliamentary caucus in early February 2011, Erdogan called on the Egyptian leader to listen to his people… “Mubarak, we are human beings. We are not immortal. We will die one day and we will be questioned for the things that we left behind. The important thing is to leave behind sweet memories.” [12] The crisis in Egypt was followed by the crisis in Libya, beginning with protests in Benghazi on February 17. This further upheaval involved very practical considerations for Turkey, given the $15 billion investment of close to 200 Turkish companies in Libya and the presence of about 25,000-30,000 workers (mostly employed in construction). Turkey’s immediate concern was their repatriation, effected by ferries from Benghazi or overland to Alexandria and home by sea from there.

The steady escalation of the crisis in Libya paved the way for resolutions passed by the UN Security Council deploring the “systematic violation” of human rights in the Libyan jamahiriyya, many of them grossly exaggerated by the media, but still forming the body of accusations at the UN. Resolution 1970 referred the situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and Resolution 1973 authorized member states to take “all necessary measures” to protect civilians, including the establishment of a “no-fly zone” in Libyan air space. On March 19, the United States, Britain and France, using the pretext of a no-fly zone, launched an aerial assault on Libya that was to last for seven months. A week later, the operation was transferred to NATO, immediately involving Turkey.

Initially, Turkey opposed the imposition of the no-fly zone. On March 14, Erdogan warned that military intervention by NATO in Libya would have “dangerous consequences.” [13] On March 19, he called for an immediate end to the bloodshed and violence against civilians: “We expect steps to be taken right now without losing any time and expect the people’s demands for change and transformation to be met.” [14] Only reluctantly and under pressure from its allies did Turkey throw its weight behind military action, authorizing the dispatch of a naval mission to the Libyan coast. For columnist Semih Idiz, “Turkey was confused and late, … [but] joining the game was inevitable. It could not have stood against its NATO allies.” With the approval of the naval mission, “Turkey will effectively have joined the military operation. If the soldiers are fired upon they will respond.” [15]

Having taken the decision, the Turkish government moved quickly to support the Libyan National Transitional Council. On May 2, it closed its embassy in Tripoli, and the following day Erdogan called on Qadhafi to cede power. Turkey moved quickly to consolidate its support for the “rebels,” irrespective of the fact that there was no countrywide popular uprising against the Libyan leader, only demonstrations in Benghazi. The “civil war,” such as it was, had been created by external intervention, with the “rebels” on the ground sheltered and advancing only under the umbrella of French, British and U.S. air power.

In September, Erdogan made a triumphal trip across North Africa. His strong support for the Palestinians prepared the way for what Time magazine called the “rock star” reception he was given by thousands of people at Cairo airport. [16] Building on his forceful previous intervention on the Palestine question, he told a session of the Arab League that a Palestinian state was “not an option but an obligation.” [17] Later he coupled criticism of Israel with a call on Arab leaders to accept democracy and freedom, which “is as basic a right as bread and water for you, my brothers.” [18] In Libya, he told a crowd chanting anti-Assad slogans that “those who repress their own people in Syria will not survive. The time of autocracies is over. Totalitarian regimes are disappearing. The rule of the people is coming.” [19] What could not escape notice was that, when it came to the crushing of the protest movement in Bahrain and the autocratic nature of other Gulf regimes, the Turkish government’s language was noticeably more restrained and at most only mildly critical. It responded to the crackdown on demonstrators in Bahrain by calling on “all parties” to refrain from violence. Davutoglu spoke of the need to “complete” reforms through a social compromise and for the intervention of Saudi and UAE forces in Bahrain to be a “temporary measure.”

Only in Syria did “soft” power give way to hard. Conforming to its self-image as a world power in the making, Turkey began acting like one. In principle, as explained by the foreign minister, Turkey was opposed to foreign intervention but, “if there is an oppression by an autocratic leader against the people, nobody can expect us or [the] international community to be silent.” [20] Apparently deciding that the government in Damascus could not long resist the wave of demonstrations spreading across the country, the Turkish prime minister and his foreign minister washed their hands of President Assad, whom Erdogan had only recently been addressing as “brother.” Their stand reinforced the position Turkey had already taken against Libya inside the U.S.-EU-Gulf-state bloc, the difference being that, whereas the Libyan government did not have strong international support, the Syrian government did. Iran, Iraq, Russia and China all opposed foreign intervention in any form. The regional and global stakes were much higher, as President Assad made clear when referring to the regional “earthquake” likely to follow an attack on his country.

Still referring to President Assad as a “good friend,” Erdogan said they had had “long discussions about lifting the state of emergency [and] the release of political prisoners. … We discussed changing the election system [and] allowing political parties; … however, he was late in taking these steps … and that’s how unfortunately we ended up here.” [21] According to Davutoglu, President Assad had agreed to introduce reforms but “never delivered.” [22] He would not spell out what these reforms were on the grounds of “diplomatic propriety,” but Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem said they centered on a political role for the Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned in Syria. Erdogan “kept asking Assad and Syrian officials in every meeting they held to establish dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood. We kept telling him that the disagreement between the Syrian regime and the Muslim Brotherhood goes back to the 1980s and cannot be resolved that easily.” [23]

Claiming to have visited Syria more than 60 times in the previous eight years, in August 2011, Davutoglu made a final attempt to bring President Assad around to his government’s way of thinking. The core message carried to the Syrian leader in Damascus was that Turkey had “run out of patience.” [24] Back in Ankara, Davutoglu told reporters that “this is our final word to the Syrian authorities. Our first expectation is that these [military] operations stop immediately and unconditionally. … If the operations do not end, there would be nothing more to discuss about steps that would be taken.” [25] In the coming weeks he said that, while “we hope military intervention will never be necessary,” Turkey was preparing for any scenario. [26] In the Syrian capital, however, President Assad continued to insist that his government would not relent “in pursuing the terrorist groups in order to protect the stability of the country and the security of the citizens.” [27]

The “steps that would be taken” by Turkey were already taking shape. On August 23, the government threw its weight behind the establishment of the Syrian National Council (SNC) in Istanbul and the operations of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Hatay province, allowing the group “to orchestrate attacks across the [Syrian] border from inside a camp guarded by the Turkish military.” [28] For his interview with a New York Times reporter, the leader of the FSA, former Syrian army colonel Riad al Assad, arrived under a guard of 10 heavily armed Turkish soldiers and wearing a business suit that “an official at the Turkish Foreign Ministry said he had purchased for him that morning.” [29]

Increasing the pressure on Damascus, the AKP government imposed a range of sanctions against the Syrian government and senior officials, consolidating measures already taken by the United States and the EU. The sanctions included a travel ban, a freeze of Syria’s financial assets, an embargo on weapons deliveries by third countries transiting Turkish land and sea space, and a trade ban that forced trucks crossing Syria to and from Jordan and then on to the Gulf countries and Yemen to take the longer and more costly route through Iraq. The government seemed to be preparing itself for all contingencies, including the establishment of a “buffer zone” across the Syrian border and “a huge influx of refugees after a massacre, for example, as happened at Halabja in Iraq.” [30] Needless to say, Turkey’s role in the unfolding of the Syrian crisis was strongly supported by the United States. [31]

The breakdown of relations with Syria was followed by dire warnings of what President Assad could expect if he did not leave office.

If you are such a hero that you are willing to fight to the death then why didn’t you fight to the death for the Golan Heights? Are your heroics only against your oppressed public? This isn’t being a hero. This is being afraid. … Quit power before more blood is shed, … for the peace of your people your region and your country. [32]

President Assad should learn from the fate of Hitler, Mussolini, Ceausescu and much more recently, Muammar al Qadhafi, “who was killed just 32 days ago in a manner none of us would wish for and who used the same expression you used” [to “fight and die for Syria”]. [33] Davutoglu compared the situation in Syria to Srebrenica: “If Assad could have been a Gorbachev he would have succeeded. But he chose to be a Milosevic. It is now too late for him to transform, to become a Gorbachev. He has lost his credibility.” [34] He described the situation in Syria as

a confrontation between a whole community and a theocratic regime whose suppression does not affect just the Sunnis but also the Christians and Alawites. … For us the confrontation in Syria is not a civil war or sectarianism, it is a confrontation between a society that is trying to decide its fate and a theocratic regime that is trying to save itself and preserve the status quo by persecuting large sections of the [Syrian] people. [35]

In fact, Syria does not have a “theocratic regime” but a secular government, and while Alawis are influential inside the Syrian political, military and intelligence system, for reasons that go back as far as the French mandate, the system could not have survived without a high degree of support among Sunni Muslims. The foot soldiers in the army are overwhelmingly Sunni, yet through eight years of severe conflict sectarian divisions were unknown, undermining the hostile narrative centering on “the Alawi regime.” Their imperative was clearly not the survival of the “regime” as such but the survival of the country, against the most determined attempt ever made in modern Middle Eastern history by foreign governments, their regional allies and their proxy forces inside Syria to destroy an Arab government.


Absent from the rhetoric of Turkish government leaders was any acknowledgement of the personal popularity of President Assad and the scale of violence being directed against the army and civilians by the armed takfiri groups. Early in the conflict, arms streaming into Syria across the borders of neighboring states included AK-47 assault rifles, Cobra anti-tank missiles and Sam-7 surface-to-air missiles. Libya was another source of weaponry, following the destruction of its government and the murder of Qadhafi. In November 2011, Abdulhakim Belhaj — head of the Tripoli Military Council until his resignation to enter politics, and previously the commander of the Islamic Fighting Group in Libya (IFGL) and widely regarded as an al-Qaeda proxy — met leaders of the FSA in Istanbul and along the Turkish border with Syria. Libya was also an early source of recruitment, with groups of men flown to Turkey before crossing the border to take up arms against the Syrian government. Staying in luxury hotels, they were a common sight in Ankara, Antalya and the cities of the southeast.

While the FSA and the Turkish foreign minister, speaking to members of the U.S. Congress in Washington, claimed that about 40,000 Syrian soldiers had defected,[36] defections were, in fact, few in number. From the start, Russia and China made it clear they would not allow the UN Security Council to be used as a mechanism for open intervention in Syria, as it had been against Libya. In October 2011, they vetoed a European-sponsored resolution that would have imposed sanctions on Syria (as distinct from the sanctions already being imposed by individual UN members). In early February 2012, they vetoed another resolution, this time based on an Arab League initiative calling for President Assad to step down. The decision infuriated the United States; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remarked that, faced with a “neutered” Security Council, “we have to redouble our efforts outside of the United Nations with those allies and partners who support the Syrian people’s right to have a better future.”[37] All measures taken by the Syrian government to create a new political environment were dismissed out of hand by the Friends of the Syrian People as cosmetic or a “cynical ploy.”[38]

The Turkish government continued to play a central role in all these events, though at a mounting internal and regional cost. In the southeastern provinces bordering Syria, economic sanctions declared by the government crippled cross-border trade and tourism emanating from Jordan and the Gulf countries. In Antakya, restaurants, small shops and truckers were all badly affected; informal trade of goods across the border via private cars stopped altogether. In Gaziantep, the cross-border trade in Turkish electrical goods, cosmetics, textiles and carpets destined for sale in the Gulf all but dried up. The ethno-religious makeup of these border regions added another dimension to the government’s policy. Both the Alevis (Alawis) of Hatay (estimated at more than 50 percent of the province’s 1.5 million population) and the Christians maintain close ties across the Syrian border dating back to the French mandate for Syria. By and large, they shared the view that the present Syrian government was the best protector of minority interests against the prospect of a Muslim Brotherhood-type government. Alevi sensitivities were further aggravated by the pointed references Erdogan made to the Alevi background of CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, seven times alone during the election campaign of 2011… [39] “Mr Kilicdaroglu, you should say openly what you really mean to say in regard to Syria. Say openly why you sympathize with the Syrian regime and why you are turning a blind eye to the oppression.” [40] Taken together with the prime minister’s known sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood, Alevis suspected the government was aiming to oust not only Bashar al-Assad, “but the Alawis as a whole and to replace them with the pro-AKP Sunni Ikhwan movement.” [41]

Turkey’s confrontation with Syria inevitably led to difficulties with Iran and Russia, both of them already critical of Turkey’s decision to host a NATO anti-missile radar base in Malatya province. Visits by Davutoglu to Tehran and reciprocal visits by senior Iranian officials to Ankara had no effect on Iran’s basic position of support for the Syrian government. Iraq remained equally critical of Turkish policy, relations worsening after Turkey decided in 2015 to open a military base at Bashiqa, Mosul. Turkey’s reasons were twofold: the occupation of Mosul by the Islamic State and the presence around that city of Kurdish peshmerga forces. Although the Islamic State had been driven out of Mosul by September 2017, the Turkish parliament still voted to maintain the troop presence at Bashiqa, described by the Iraqi parliament as a “hostile occupying force.” The peshmerga were to be withdrawn a short time later, following the collapse of the Kurdish drive for independence.

With the Iraqi government opposed to Turkish intervention in Syria, Turkey reoriented its Iraq policy towards the strengthening of relations with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). As interpreted by the Istanbul academic Soli Ozel,

Ironically, after years of writing off the Iraqi Kurdish leadership as simple tribal leaders, Turkey has established the closest of relations with the KRG. The Kurds have emerged as Turkey’s natural ally in Iraq, its most important trading partner and investment destination, not just regionally but globally, and a partner in containing the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), whose stronghold is the Kandil mountains inside the KRG. [42]

Trade relations included the signing of extensive oil and natural-gas agreements, over the protests of the government in Baghdad. Accusations against Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi of Iraq further complicated the tripartite relationship among Turkey, the KRG and the central government. In December 2011, Hashimi, a leader of the Sunni Muslim Iraqiyya political bloc, fled to the Kurdish north after being accused of sponsoring an anti-Shia “death squad.” He then shuttled among Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the governments of all three countries declining, along with the KRG, to extradite him. Although Iraq’s Shia prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, said a judicial inquiry had confirmed the substance of the evidence against Hashimi, statements from Ankara implied that he was the victim of a Shia witchhunt.

Turkey’s emphasis on relations with the KRG, at the expense of its relationship with the government in Baghdad, was severely undermined in the first place by Masoud Barzani’s support for the Syrian Kurds, whom Barzani encouraged to overcome differences and work together for autonomy, much to the chagrin of President Erdogan. The isolation of the KRG by Turkey and Iran after the independence referendum in 2017 was followed by the Kurdish abandonment of Kirkuk and the restoration of the authority of the central government there and elsewhere. These developments, along with the death on October 3 of Jalal Talabani, founder of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the decision of Masoud Barzani on October 30 not to stand for reelection as the Kurdish region’s president, threw the Kurds’ national cause into disarray. These events turned Turkey’s Iraq policy upside down, compelling it to repair its damaged relationship with the central government. The triumph of the Sadrist bloc in the Iraqi elections of May 2018 added to the uncertainties of Turkish policy.

In 2012, Erdogan remarked that “Bashar is losing blood day by day. … Sooner or later those who have oppressed our Syrian brothers will be called to account before their nation. Your victory is close.” [43] While Turkey represented itself as being on the right side of “the people” and “history” in Syria, there was never any evidence that the bodies it backed — the SNC, the FSA and other armed groups — had any support in Syria beyond the marginal. Throughout the crisis, it was clear that Syrians, overwhelmingly, wanted an evolved political solution to the crisis shattering their country, not a solution imposed through violence and outside intervention. In parliament, Davutoglu said a new Middle East was about to be born, and “we will be the owner, pioneer and servant of this new Middle East.” Domestic critics had not understood the zeitgeist and had failed to understand what was happening in Syria. “The era of policies [such as] ‘wait and see’ and following behind big powers has ended …. Turkey is no longer a country which does not have self-confidence and is waiting for foreign approval [of its policies].” [44] However, six years later, Bashar al-Assad remains in power, and the takfiri armed groups have been largely routed. Looking back from 2018 to the beginning of the crisis in 2011, it seems that it was Davutoglu who had put himself on the wrong side of history.


Within a year of the launch of the proxy war against it in 2011, Syria was not so much collapsing as being collapsed by a war of attrition funded and coordinated by outside governments. Turkey’s role in this war was pivotal. As the dangers increased, critics were wondering precisely where Turkey’s policies would end. For Gokhan Bacik, the implications of the Turkish position were revolutionary. Not since the foundation of the republic in 1923 had a Turkish government been party to “an aggressive foreign policy strategy that urges regime change in another country.” [45] Some criticisms centered on how Turkey seemed to have positioned itself at the vortex of other agendas, principally a Saudi-dominated Sunni Muslim agenda and a Western/Israeli agenda determined by Syria’s alliance with Iran. [46] For the veteran journalist Cengiz Çandar, the question was whether the Arab Spring was not turning into a Turkish autumn. [47]

Challenging Turkey’s support of the FSA, Faruk Logoglu, the CHP’s deputy chairman, said Turkey “has taken a one-sided approach to the Syrian case from day one. The Turkish government has excluded the regime directly and positioned itself on the side not only of the political figures of the opposition but also military figures of the opposition. Facilitating the military arm of the opposition which aims to destroy the regime of a country is against international law and regulations.” The notion that Turkey had a pioneering role to play in the “new” Middle East was a “dangerous fantasy.” In another view, while Turkey’s strong position on the question of Palestine had been greatly appreciated across the Middle East, it was not an Arab country, and any attempt to play a leadership role would be resisted, apart from which Turkey needed to solve its own problems before setting itself up as a model for anyone else. [48]

Within a short time of intervening in Syria, Turkey’s zero-problems policy had turned into an accumulation-of-problems policy. Russian aerial intervention in 2015 helped to turn the corner for the Syrian government, which by early 2018 had regained control of most of the country. However, statements that “the war is over” or “all but over” will remain premature as long as Turkey occupies northwestern Syria, the United States occupies the northeast and maintains military bases there and elsewhere, and the United States and Israel continue to launch air attacks on Syrian military positions or against what Israel claims are Iranian positions or Hezbollah weapons-supply routes.

Through the agreement with Turkey to remove Kurdish forces from the city of Manbij, the United States undermined the Kurdish rationale for its presence in northeastern Syria. In response, the Syrian Democratic Council, an umbrella group representing both the YPG and the U.S.-sponsored Syrian Democratic Forces, entered into negotiations with Damascus centering on the Kurds returning to the Syrian national fold in return for a decentralized form of government in the north. Of necessity, such an agreement would end the U.S.-Kurdish tactical alliance. With the Islamic State largely suppressed and the Kurds falling away as an ally, the rationale for a continuing U.S. presence in Syria is reduced to limiting Russian gains and holding Syria hostage to its strategic alliance with Iran. With no exit point in sight, the continuing occupation of Syrian territory, by the United States or Turkey, is a formula for future conflict.

The costs to Turkey of intervention in Syria — not to speak of the catastrophic effects on the Syrian people — through armed proxies have been enormous. These include civilian deaths from Islamic State suicide bombings, a refugee influx of more than three million people, the cost of maintaining them (running to tens of billions of dollars), domestic discontent over their presence at a time of developing economic crisis, and strained relations with Iran, Iraq, the EU, Russia and even the United States. If riding the wave of reform set off by the Arab Spring was seen as a “national-interest” benefit, the wave has long since receded, taking with it Davutoglu’s aspirations to “serve and lead” the Arab world. If overthrowing the Syrian government in the interest of democracy was a national interest, there were other targets far less democratic with which Turkey continued business as usual.

The intentions of other members of the collective calling itself the Friends of the Syrian People were clear. The dominant partners in this alliance are the traditional enemies of national independence in the greater Middle East: the United States, Britain and France, and Gulf states attaching themselves to these powers. Iran was their ultimate target, and Syria the central pillar in the strategic alliance among Iran, Syria and Hezbollah that they hoped to destroy. It is difficult to see how Turkey’s national interest was served by joining this company and helping it to achieve goals that clearly are not Turkey’s.

As the YPG is an ally of the PKK, there was a credible national interest in routing it. However, it was intervention by Turkey and other countries that empowered the YPG in the first place. Formed in 2004, it played no significant role in Syrian politics until the destruction of the government’s authority in the north by proxies of the Friends of the Syrian People created the opportunity. Ironically, Bashar al-Assad was just as opposed to Kurdish autonomy in the north as Tayyip Erdogan.

All Turkish opposition parties are opposed to the AKP government’s Syria policy. The CHP’s presidential candidate, Muharrem Ince, said before the June 2018 elections that his government would restore relations with Syria, a step that would have had to include the withdrawal of Turkish forces. The party’s defeat closed off this exit route. In the long term, historians are likely to regard the Syria policy of the AKP government as a violent rupture of Ataturk’s guiding principle of “peace at home and peace in the world,” and as misguided adventurism unprecedented in Turkey’s republican history.

[Note: In March 2016, the Turkish government took over Zaman newspaper. Its digital archive was destroyed and all its subsidiary news outlets subsequently closed down on the grounds that they were part of the Gülenist “terror organization.” Zaman files are no longer accessible within Turkey. Zaman reports cited in these endnotes were accessed before 2016.]

[1] “Erdogan Threatens to Let 3m Refugees into Europe,” Financial Times, November 25, 2016.

[2] “I Will Describe Europe as Nazi as Long as They Call Me a Dictator: Erdoğan,” Hurriyet Daily News, March 23, 2017.

[3] Of many reports on these allegations, see Ahmet S. Yayla, “Hacked Emails Link Turkish Minister to Illicit Oil,” World Policy, October 17, 2016.

[4] Seymour M. Hersh, “The Red Line and the Rat Line,” London Review of Books 36, no. 8 (April 17, 2014).

[5] “Turkish Efforts in Afrin, Idlib Will Allow Syrians to Return Home,” Daily Sabah, February 8, 2018.

[6] Hugh Pope, “Erdoğan’s Decade,” Cairo Review of Global Affairs, March 29, 2012,….

[7] The mythological “happy valley” in the Altay mountains where Turkish tribes stopped during their migration westward.

[8] Elad Benari, “Erdoğan Accuses Israel of Massacre in Gaza,” March 14, 2012,

[9] See “Full Text of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Speech on Israel’s Attack on Aid Flotilla,” June 2, 2010,….

[10] From the address given by Mr. Davutoğlu at the Statesmen’s Forum, Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Washington DC, February 10, 2012,

[11] Ibid.

[12] “Erdoğan Urges Mubarak to Heed People’s Call for Change,” Sunday’s Zaman, February 2, 2011.

[13] “Turkey Opposes No Fly Zone over Libya,” Habertürk, March 14, 2011,….

[14] “Turkey Calls for Cease-fire in Libya, Opposes Intervention,” Today’s Zaman, March 19, 2011.

[15] Burak Akıncı, “Turkey Reluctantly Joins Libya Military Action,” Defense News, March 24, 2011,

[16] Rania Abouzeid, “Why Turkey’s Erdogan Is Greeted like a Rock Star in Egypt,” Time, September 13, 2011.

[17] “Recognising Palestinian State ‘an Obligation’: Erdoğan,” Hürriyet Daily News, September 13, 2011,….

[18] “Turkey’s Erdogan Tells Arabs to Embrace Democracy,” Reuters Africa, September 13, 2011,

[19] “Syria’s Oppressors Will Not Survive, Erdoğan Says in Libya,” Today’s Zaman, September 16, 2011.

[20] Speech made at Statesmen’s Forum, op.cit.

[21] “Erdoğan: Assad Is a Good Friend but He Delayed Reform Efforts,” Today’s Zaman, May 12, 2011. Erdoğan was speaking on PBS’s Charlie Rose Show.

[22] Ernest Khoury, “Davutoglu: Assad Not Reforming despite Our Best Efforts,” Al Akhbar English, January 16, 2012,

[23] “Syria Rejects Imposed Reforms, Muslim Brotherhood not to Form a Party: Syrian FM to Turkish Newspaper,” Al Arabiya, February 28, 2012,

[24]Nada Bakri, “Turkish Minister and Other Envoys Press Syrian Leader,” New York Times, August 9, 2011,

[25] Anthony Shadid, “Turkey Warns Syria to Stop Crackdown,” New York Times, August 15, 2011,

[26] “Turkey Says Ready for ‘Any Scenario’ in Syria,” Haaretz , November 29, 2011,….

[27] “Turkish Leader and Other Envoys Press Syrian Leader,” op. cit.

[28] Liam Stack, “In Slap at Syria, Turkey Shelters Anti-Assad Fighters,” New York Times, October 27, 2011,….

[29] Ibid.

[30]]Ernest Khoury, “Davutoglu: Assad Not Reforming Despite Our Best Efforts,” Al Akhbar English, January 16, 2012,

[31] Emre Peker and Nicole Gauoette, “U.S. Supports Turkey Playing a Leading Role on Syria Crisis,” Bloomberg, February 9, 2012,….

[32] “PM Erdoğan Warns Assad, ‘You Reap What You Sow,'” Sabah, February 8, 2012.….

[33] See “Erdoğan Tells Assad to Draw Lessons from Fate of Gaddafi, Hitler,” Today’s Zaman, November 22, 2011.

[34] Soli Özel, “Turkish Foreign Policy Losing Ground in Syria: Davutoglu Calls Assad a ‘Milosevic,'” Al-Monitor, posted January 31, 2012. Originally published in Habertürk under the title ‘Before Losing the Ball Bearings.’….

[35] Tha’ir Abbas, “Al Sharq al Awsat Interview: Turkish FM Ahmet Davutoğlu,” Al Sharq al Awsat, April 1, 2012,

[36] “U.S. Supports Turkey Playing a Leading Role on Syria Crisis,” op.cit.

[37] Glen Carey and Elizabeth Konstantinova, “Clinton Calls for ‘Immense Pressure’ on Assad,” Bloomberg, February 6, 2012,….

[38] These measures included the decree (August 2011) allowing every Syrian to form a political party, the subsequent registration of eight political parties (January-March 2012), the constitutional amendment removing the Baath Party as the “leading party in society and the state,” overwhelming popular support for this amendment through a referendum and parliamentary elections in May 2012.

[39] Sedat Ergin, “Erdoğan and the CHP leader’s Alevi Origin,” Hurriyet Daily News, May 18, 2011.….

[40] “Erdoğan Lambasts Opposition, Says Syrian Crisis not Sectarian,” Today’s Zaman, May 15, 2012.

[41] Nazim Can Cicektan, “Turkey and Syria: the Alawite Dimension,” Foreign Policy Association, contained in a blog posted by Akin Unver, March 18,2012,

[42] Soli Özel, “Turkey, Syria, Iraq and the Kurdish Issue,” Hurriyet Daily News, March 26, 2012,…ID=449&nID=16842&NewsCatID=396.

[43] “Syria Crisis an International Challenge, Erdoğan says,” Today’s Zaman, May 7, 2012.

[44] “Turkey Owns, Leads, Serves to ‘New Mideast’: Davutoğlu,” Hurriyet Daily News, April 27, 2012,….

[45] Gökhan Bacik, “The Syrian Revolution in Turkish Foreign Policy,” Today’s Zaman, March 25, 2012. See also the similar criticism of Kadri Gürsel in “Ikinci yeni dış politika [A second new foreign policy],” Milliyet, December 15, 2012. In seeking regime change in Syria, he wrote, Turkey had joined the side of the west in a cold war against the Tehran-Damascus axis,….

[46] Nuray Mert, “Süriye, ‘güzel ve yalnız ülke'” [“Syria ‘a beautiful and lonely country'”], Milliyet, April 28, 2011,….

[47] Cengiz Candar, “Arap Baharı, Türk Sonbaharı’na dönüşür mü?” [“Is the Arab spring turning into a Turkish autumn?”] Radikal, November 11, 2011,….

[48] Hakan Yilmaz, quoted by Kadri Gürsel, “Ilımlı Islamcılara 10 puanlık soru” [“A ten point questionnaire for the moderate Islamists”], Milliyet, December 8, 2011,….

September 26, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 6 Comments