Turkey did not act on its own. Was Washington complicit in downing Russia’s aircraft?

Global Research, November 24, 2015

Both countries are NATO allies, united against Assad, wanting him toppled, actively complicit in supporting and using ISIS, as well as other terrorist groups as proxy foot soldiers in the war Obama launched in March 2011.

It’s inconceivable Turkey acted on its own, independent of US-dominated NATO. Its action is a major geopolitical incident – a premeditated act of war against Russia in Syrian airspace.

Ankara claiming the aircraft entered Turkish airspace, ignoring multiple warnings, has the distinct aroma of a bald-faced lied to cover up a hostile act.

Erdogan’s recklessness ruptured Turkish/Russian relations, at least for the time being. Sergey Lavrov cancelled his scheduled Wednesday trip to Istanbul, saying “(a) decision has been made to cancel the meeting at the level of Russian and Turkish foreign ministers…”

He urged Russian citizens avoid visiting Turkey, leaving themselves vulnerable to terrorism, adding:

“It’s necessary to emphasize that the terror threats with their roots in Turkey have been aggravated. And that’s true even if we don’t take into account what happened today. We estimate the threats to be no less than in Egypt.”

Russia’s state tourism agency Rostourism recommended suspending tour package sales to Turkey. Moscow-based Natalie tours already did so.

Putin minced no words blasting Erdogan, saying “(t)his incident stands out against the usual fight against terrorism.”

“Our troops are fighting heroically against terrorists, risking their lives. But the loss we suffered today came from a stab in the back delivered by accomplices of the terrorists.” He warned of grave consequence for Russian/Turkish relations.

A Turkish Lockheed-Martin produced F-16 warplane willfully and without provocation downed Russia’s aircraft posing no threat to Ankara’s national security, Putin explained.

He’s well aware of Erdogan’s complicity with terrorists Russia is combating in Syria – at the request of its government, its actions entirely legal and heroic against a common scourge.

“IS has big money, hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars, from selling (stolen Syrian) oil. In addition they are protected by the military of an entire nation,” Putin stressed – leaving no doubt he means Turkey, well aware of Washington using ISIS and other takfiri terrorists as proxy foot soldiers against Assad’s legitimate government.

“One can understand why they are acting so boldly and blatantly,” said Putin. “Why they kill people in such atrocious ways. Why they commit terrorist acts across the world, including in the heart of Europe.”

Recalling Russia’s ambassador may come next. Expect Putin to react appropriately to what happened. It’s too serious to ignore or smooth over through normal diplomatic channels between both nations.

Putin explained Ankara didn’t contact Russia after what happened, instead outrageously called an emergency late afternoon Tuesday NATO meeting – apparently wanting the Alliance to serve the interests of ISIS, he added. Its actions won’t be tolerated, he stressed.

Washington backed Turkey’s absurd claim about issuing “10 warnings” before downing Russia’s aircraft. Was it directly complicit with what happened?

It bears repeating. It’s inconceivable Turkey acted alone without permission or direct complicity with NATO’s highest authority. America provides 75% of its budget. It calls the shots – deciding whether, when, where and how to act or react.

Erdogan’s action was reckless. Obama is playing with fire if his involvement with what happened is determined. Putin won’t let it pass without appropriate actions in response, already begun.

An official protest was lodged with Turkey military attache. A Russian Defense Ministry statement said “(w)e are considering actions of the Turkish air forces as an unfriendly act.”

Moscow’s anti-terrorist campaign in Syria will continue as planned, maybe intensified further after what happened – Turkey now clearly and openly an adversary in the war on terrorism, risking direct confrontation with Russia.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Advertisements

Putin’s “Line in the Sand”: No “Regime Change” in Syria

Global Research, September 17, 2015

“Obama administration officials, who have been negotiating with Turkey for months, said Thursday that they had reached an agreement for manned and unmanned American warplanes to carry out aerial attacks on Islamic State positions from air bases at Incirlik and Diyarbakir. The agreement was described by one senior administration official as a “game changer.” New York Times, July 23, 2015

The Syrian war can be divided into two parts: The pre-Incirlik period and the post-Incirlik period. The pre-Incirlik period is roughly the four year stretch during which US-backed Islamic militias and al Qaida-linked groups fought the Syrian army with the intention of removing President Bashar al Assad from power. This first phase of the war ended in a draw.

The post-Incirlik period looks like it could produce an entirely different outcome due to the fact that the US will be able to deploy its drones and warplanes from a Turkish airbase (Incirlik) that’s just 15 minutes flying-time from Syria. That will boost the number of sorties the USAF can able to carry out while increasing the effectiveness of its jihadi forces on the ground which will conduct their operations under the protection of US air cover. This will greatly improve their chances for success.

The New York Times calls the Incirlik deal a “game-changer” which is an understatement. By allowing US F-16s to patrol the skies over Syria, Washington will impose a de facto no-fly zone over the country severely limiting Assad’s ability to battle the US-backed militias that have seized large swaths of the countryside and are now descending on Damascus. And while the war cannot be won by airpower alone, this new tactical reality tilts the playing field in favor the jihadis. In other words, the Incirlik agreement changes everything.

putin-assad_2577178b

The Obama administration now believes that regime change is within its reach. Yes, they know it will require some back-up from US Special Forces and Turkish combat troops, but it’s all doable.  This is why Obama has shrugged off Russia’s plan for forming a coalition to defeat ISIS.  The US doesn’t have to compromise on these matters because, after all, it has a strategically-located airbase from which it can protect its proxy-army, bomb cross-border targets, and control the skies over Syria. All Obama needs to do is intensify the war effort, put a little more pressure on Assad, and wait for the regime to collapse. This is why we should expect a dramatic escalation as we begin Phase 2 of the conflict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin knows this, which is why he’s sending more weapons, supplies and advisors to Syria. He’s signaling to Washington that he knows what they’re up to and that he’ll respond if they carry things too far. In an interview with Russia’s state Channel 1, Putin said, “We have our ideas about what we will do and how we will do it in case the situation develops toward the use of force or otherwise. We have our plans.”

The administration is very nervous about Putin’s plans which is why they keep probing to see if they can figure out what he has up his sleeve. Just days ago,  Secretary of State John Kerry phoned his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to express his concerns about “an imminent enhanced Russian military buildup” in Syria. The call was a clumsy attempt to trick Lavrov into volunteering information that might shed light on what Moscow intends to do if Washington goes ahead with its regime change strategy.  But Russia’s foreign minister didn’t take the bait. He stuck to his script and didn’t tell Kerry anything he didn’t already know.

But the fact is, Putin is not going to allow Assad to be removed by force. It’s that simple. Obama and his advisors suspect this, but they are not 100 percent certain so they keep looking for confirmation one way or the other. But Putin is not going to provide a clear answer because he doesn’t want to tip his hand or appear confrontational. But that doesn’t mean he’s not resolute. He is, and Washington knows it. In effect, Putin has drawn a line in the sand and told the US that if they cross that line, there’s going to trouble.

So it’s up to Obama really. He can either seek a peaceful solution along the lines that Moscow has recommended or push for regime change and risk a confrontation with Russia. Those are the two choices.

Unfortunately, Washington doesn’t have an “off” switch anymore, so changing policy is really not in the cards. Instead, the US war machine will continue to lumber ahead erratically until it hits an impasse and sputters to a halt. Once again, the immovable object will prevail over the unstoppable force (as it did in Ukraine), albeit at great cost to the battered people of Syria, their nation and the entire region.

Keep in mind, that the imperial plan for Syria is subtler than many people realize. As the Brookings Institute’s Michael E. O’Hanlon states in his piece titled “Deconstructing Syria: A new strategy for America’s most hopeless war”:

The plan… would not explicitly seek to overthrow him (Assad), so much as deny him control of territory that he might still aspire to govern again. The autonomous zones would be liberated with the clear understanding that there was no going back to rule by Assad or a successor. In any case, Assad would not be a military target under this concept, but areas he currently controls… would be. And if Assad delayed too long in accepting a deal for exile, he could inevitably face direct dangers to his rule and even his person.” (“Deconstructing Syria: A new strategy for America’s most hopeless war”, Michael E. O’Hanlon, Brookings Institute)

This is the basic plan: To seize major cities and large parts of the countryside,  disrupt supply-lines and destroy vital civilian infrastructure, and to progressively undermine Assad’s ability to govern the country. The ultimate goal is to break the state into a million disconnected enclaves ruled by armed mercenaries, al Qaida-linked affiliates, and local warlords. This is Washington’s diabolical plan for Syria. It is strikingly similar to the Zionist plan to “effect the division of the whole area into small states by the dissolution of all existing Arab states.” (“The Zionist Plan for the Middle East”, Israel Shahak) In fact, it is virtually identical.

It’s clear that Obama is emboldened by the Incirlik deal and believes that, with Turkey’s help, he can achieve US imperial ambitions in Syria. But it’s not going to happen.  Russia, Iran and Hezbollah are prepared to defend their ally Assad and stop Washington dead-in-its-tracks.  Obama will have succeeded in destroying another sovereign nation and scattering its people across the Middle East and Europe. But the US mission will fall short of its original objectives. There will be no regime change in Syria. Putin, Nasrallah and Khamenei will make sure of it.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.