By Richard Walker —
Turkey has ignored calls from Washington and European capitals to abandon plans for an invasion of Syria and to stop targeting the Kurds, who are allies of the West and Russia against Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has warned Turkey and Saudi Arabia they will have to go it alone if they invade Syria to create what they claim would be a “safe zone” for refugees. Russia has put Turkey on notice that an invasion would be a breach of Syria’s territorial integrity and a crime in international law. Russia would, as Syria’s ally, respond militarily at the behest of the Syrian leadership.
To make its point, Russia has sent additional naval assets into the Black Sea, armed with a very large supply of the Russian version of the Tomahawk cruise missile. The assets are within striking distance of the Turkish coast and Syria. NATO intelligence has also detected the arrival of Russia’s most advanced electronic surveillance planes at Syrian airbases.
According to intelligence sources in Europe, Moscow and Washington agree that Turkey’s aim to establish a military corridor inside Syria would have a two-fold objective.
One would be to exploit it, with Saudi military support, to arm and resupply the extreme Islamic militias, including ISIS, which the Turks and Saudis created to overthrow the Assad government.
Second, and just as vital an objective from Turkey’s viewpoint, would be the positioning of ground forces within Syria to devastate the Syrian Kurds who have been backed by Washington and lately by Russia.
Turkey fears that if Assad grants the Syrian Kurds autonomy in an area close to the Turkish border that would encourage Turkey’s Kurds, who make up 20% of its population, to demand greater freedoms. It could also lead to a link-up between Syria and Iraq’s Kurds. The United States and France have told Turkey to stop shelling the Kurds since they are making headway against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
U.S. media coverage of the conflict has been a stark example of the unwillingness of journalists to tell the truth, relying instead on dubious official sources and the so-called think tanks controlling information in Washington. Think tanks are more often than not financed by corporations linked to nations with a vested interest in furthering neoconservative agendas.
An opinion piece in The Boston Globe says the “coverage will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press.” It cites the dishonest report of “the carnage in the ancient city of Aleppo.” Those responsible for the carnage have not been Assad or Russian forces, as most U.S. media outlets and politicians have claimed, but Islamic militias backed by Turkey, the Saudis, Washington, and Israel through its links to the al-Nusra Front.
Saudi Arabia, too, has been treated by the media as a democracy worthy of Western support, yet it has financed most of the major terror groups across the globe. According to the online news site “Defense One,” the Saudi kingdom is not a state, but “an unstable business so corrupt as to resemble a criminal organization,” and the U.S. should prepare for its demise.
The Saudis, like the Turks, now know Moscow has told the Kurds it has their back. Reports coming out of Syria, following meetings with Kurdish leaders in Moscow, are that Russia will not only provide Kurdish forces with more weapons but with advanced armaments capable of taking on a Turkish-Saudi invasion force. The bottom line is that Russia will make the Turks and Saudis pay heavily should they continue to shell Syria or send in ground troops.
Contrary to U.S. media denials, NATO has a deal with Moscow to coordinate air-ground operations in Syria, but that does not apply to Turkey. In recent weeks, the Saudis have sent fighter jets and special forces to Turkey. In response, Moscow has placed both nations on notice that their planes will be shot down should they enter Syrian airspace.
Turkey conveniently blamed a recent bombing at a military base in the capital, Ankara, on Syrian Kurds to justify attacking Syria. The bombing, however, was the work of a Kurdish splinter group in Turkey, carried out in revenge for the deaths of an estimated 150 Kurdish civilians burned to death when the Turkish military shelled buildings in a Kurdish town in southeastern Turkey.
Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.