• Saudis, Turks warned about arming terrorists.
• Turkey seems determined to start world war.
By Richard Walker —
While Turkey ponders the risk of invading Syria to establish a foothold in areas close to its border, Russia continues its military dominance in Syria, making it clear it will confront all challengers. The Saudis, smarting from the fact that Russian airpower is eliminating the extreme Islamic groups they have been arming, have offered to send troops to Syria to support the United States if it decides to put boots on the ground.
The Russians meanwhile have made it clear to the Saudis and Turks that if they provide the Islamic State (ISIS) or al-Nusra in Syria with ground-to-air missiles there will be serious consequences.
The major issue facing Washington is that Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member, appears determined to lure Russia into a wider war. The downing of the Russian fighter jet by Turkey is now regarded as having been a calculated gamble by the Turks to open up a shooting war in which it was expected NATO would have to come to its aid. That galvanized Moscow into increasing its military commitment to the Syrian government led by Bashar al-Assad, including sending its best fighter planes, bombers, and long-range artillery units to support the Syrian military. It also deployed its S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile system. This effectively created a defensive net over the skies of Syria, making it possible to shoot down any Turkish planes entering Syrian airspace.
The reality is that Moscow has established its own no-fly zone, meaning NATO fighters have to seek permission and identify their targets before entering Syrian airspace. Turkish aircraft are excluded.
An East European intelligence source, speaking to AMERICAN FREE PRESS on condition of anonymity, warned that recent reports that Russia suspected Turkey was planning to invade Syria were not far-fetched. Russian special forces tasked to monitor Turkish military units had detected the large movement of forces in barracks close to the Syrian border. The special forces had been sent into Turkey after satellite surveillance picked up evidence of heavy artillery and tank units positioned within striking distance of Syria. A Russian surveillance aircraft that tried to enter Turkish airspace was turned back. According to this source, some NATO members have made it clear to Washington that they believe Turkey is “a loose cannon,” and they will not authorize NATO backing for a Turkish-Arab confrontation with Russia.
Moscow has made it clear to Washington it will retaliate if the Turks send forces into Syria. The Russians are convinced the Saudis are pressing Turkey to so something militarily before Russian airpower eliminates all the extreme Islamic groups the Turks and Saudis have been supporting.
Both Sunni nations see the writing on the wall. Putin has shown he is determined to get rid of all the extreme groups trying to overthrow Assad, even the ones backed by Washington. He is not asking if his planes are targeting ISIS or al-Nusra. He believes they are all cut from the same branch.
The source says NATO leaders in Europe have told Washington that Turkey and the Saudis will have to go it alone if they engage Russia.
Turkey has seen the Russian military methodically degrade all the Islamic militias, ISIS included. The Turks never anticipated that Russia would make it pay a heavy price for downing one of its jet fighters. Russian revenge included the clearing of Turkish-backed Turkmen militias from a large swath of land adjoining Syria’s border with Turkey. This has demonstrated to Turkey its forces will be sitting ducks if they move into Syria. Putin also made good on his promise to send the Kurds in northern Syria a big weapons shipment. That angered the Turkish leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and demonstrated that Moscow was happy to see the Kurds reinforce their territory. It is a move that worries a Turkish state facing increasing Kurdish unrest within and beyond its borders.
Recent reports claim Russia’s success in preventing Turkey and the Saudis resupplying their anti-Assad elements have led to al-Nusra and al Qaeda turning on each other.
Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.