Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Erdogan Era Is All But Over

This is not surprising but actually expected:

There’s little doubt now in NATO circles and among the leading countries of the alliance – the US, Britain, France, Germany that the downing of Russia’s bomber Su-24 was indeed an act of aggression. In fact, the Turkish Air Force has been trying to ambush Russian bombers in border areas for days. Everything was planned, including the presence of professional cameramen from a Turkish channel.

Once Washington acknowledged that the Turkish Air Force shot down a Russian bomber over Syria, Ankara has been desperately trying to push the blame on Obama in order to hide behind Washington’s back. On November 26 a number of Turkish TV-stations presented reports that the downing was allegedly approved by Barack Obama at the G-20 summit in Antalya. But it’s way too late, Erdogan is caught at a murder scene with blood on his hands. His political career is almost finished – the murderers of Russian pilots have no place in politics. There’s a already a contender for his post – Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who considerably strengthened his positions in the recent elections.

Experts from around the the world have been guessing what Russia’s response will be, for now one can already name a number of steps that Moscow has made:
  • Complete ban of any tourist trips to Turkey. It will take no more than two weeks. There will be no cheap trips, no charters, no nothing. This will result in approximately 3.5 billion dollars lost by Turkey in just one year.
  • Preparations for “retaliation” strikes. To fulfill this goal Russia has deployed the high-end anti-air systems S-400 Triumf near Latakia. This has de facto created a no-fly zone over Syria for the Turkish Air Force.
  • Russia is reducing the number of Moscow of Turkish being sold at Russian markets. This will affect both food and industrial consumer goods. Turkey will be losing up to 2 billion dollars annually due to this step.
  • Russia has closed all the projects that were connected with Turkey, including the construction of nuclear power plants. At the same time it will ban the activities of a number of Turkish companies in Russia.
  • Russia is beginning to work in close political and military cooperations with the Kurdish political forces – the main threat to the central government in Ankara. This will strike a severe blow to Turkey’s political stability. Especially in a situation when Erdogan’s positions in Turkey are not nearly as strong as they look. He faces a number of serious contradictions within the ruling party, let alone the military circles.

But the most severe blow by far to Erdogan personally is an extensive media coverage of his relations with ISIL and the role his family plays in the smuggling business. It has been proved that president’s son Bilal works for Erdogan’s classmate and childhood friend who delivers stolen oil to Ukraine, Japan and a number of Asian countries. Revenue from these activities amounts to the staggering 5 billion dollars a year, with 2 billions going back to ISIL command structures for them to pay “salaries” to militants and purchase arms.

Moreover, the Erdogan family is involved in the production and trafficking of synthetic drugs. If there’s journalists openly stating that on TV channels, one can be sure that the law enforcement agencies have already accumulated all the evidences needed to prosecute all of Erdogan’s family members.

Therefore, as soon as the Turkish society starts associating Erdogan’s family with ISIL, it will associates it with the terrorist attacks carried out by ISIL in Turkey, the attacks that helped the rulling AKP party win the last parliamentary re-elections.

So Moscow is in no hurry in this situation, and there’s no way it can accept Ankara’s apologies, even if Erdogan is going to beg Vladimir Putin for mercy, standing on his knees. As for the wave of terrorist attacks that started in Turkey after the downing of SU-24, it can mean only one thing – Turkish authorities do not control the situation in the country and cannot protect the lives of Turkey’s citizens or foreign tourists. All this can result in the rapid disintegration of the country with the Kurdish areas breaking away, which means that the whole Southeastern Anatolia will become independent. As for the Hatay province, that is largely populated by Arabs, it can join Syria in the foreseeable future. It’s seems about time to return Armenian regions in the northwest of Turkey with Mount Ararat to Armenia.

And it won’t be of any use to wait for NATO’s cavalry, it just won’t come. After all, when Turkey joined NATO in February 1952, the West didn’t need this Islamic country, it was but a measure to counter the growing influence of the Soviet Union in the Middle East. But this was a deal with the devil.

The radical Islamism has already bit Europe, striking in its heart – Paris. This resulted in the French president Francois Hollande demanding Washington to put aside its differences and disputes with Russia in order to fight the terrorist armies in a united broad coalition. As it was underlined by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Turkey has de facto made an alliance with ISIL by supporting its oil smuggling activities. No wonder there’s a growing number of calls being voiced in the West to exclude Turkey from NATO and establish a closer cooperation with Russia, with which the West has much more in common than with the Islamic world.

One shouldn’t forget that Iran is also actively involved in Syria and it will be supporting the legitimate government of Bashar al-Assad till victory or bitter end. On the other hand Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are convinced that Assad should leave no matter what.
But at the same time the sitting Turkish regime is the most hostile regime towards Israel throughout the history of bilateral relations.

All the parties involved in the Syrian conflict have different interests. As Vladimir Putin noted in his speech, there’s a major flow of stolen oil and oil products going into Turkey’s territory, which provides the Islamic State with huge financial recourses needed to sustain its fighting capacity. This presents us all with a serious concern – a NATO member has been actively supporting radical Islamic terrorist groups, whether it’s ISIL in Syria and Iraq, or Hamas in the Gaza Strip. To this date for a number of reasons Western countries refrained from demanding the Turkish authorities to put an end to their connections with Islamist militants. As for Israeli leaders, all of them, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have repeatedly expressed outrage over the destructive role that the Turkish authorities have been playing in the region. For a long time Turkey has been and remains one of the few countries that provides extensive support to the Palestinian radical Islamists for them to be able to murder Israeli civilians.
After the tragedy with Russia’s Su-24 the need to rethink its relations with Turkey has become apparent to Moscow, which can and should demand NATO to hold those behind this reckless attack responsible for their actions.. A situation when a country can be considered a part of the civilized international community and still be engaged in business activities with the Islamic State could not last forever. If the ruling Turkish elites perceived ISIL as its allies, then the civilized world cannot possibly be an ally of Turkey. The Western double standards are well known across the globe, yet even they cannot hinder the fact a NATO member is one of the key supporters of international terrorism. Turkey’s unique location has been allowing its elites to get away with way too much way too often, but this time enough is enough.

The shooting down of a Russian fighter bomber by Turkish war planes this week throws into stark relief the complex multiple games being played by Turkey and its NATO allies. The incident further highlights the misuse and misquotation of international law by apologists for the US and its allies.

Not even the Turks have claimed that they were being attacked by the Russian fighter-bomber, or that an attack was imminent. To shoot down a non-threatening plane, that even on the Turkish account was in Turkish air space for no more than a few seconds while heading elsewhere, cannot on any reasonable interpretation of international law be reasonable or justified.

The real reason for the shoot down therefore had nothing to do with self-defence. 

Turkey would not, as a member of the US controlled NATO, have risked a war with Russia unless it had the backing of the US government. American foreknowledge of the shoot down, which as a matter of timing alone must have been planned, is to be inferred from the ludicrous statements emanating from the White House.

One such ludicrous defence of the Turkmen militia came from a US government spokesman who when asked about the shooting of the pilot from the downed Russian jet said that the Turkmen militia “were entitled to defend themselves.”

This would be almost funny were it not for the alarming ignorance of international law that such a remark displays. Article 42 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which both Turkey and the US have signed and ratified, and Protocol 1 of the 1977 amendments to the Convention, specifically provides as follows:

  1. No person parachuting from an aircraft in distress shall be made the object of attack during his descent.
  1. Upon reaching the ground in territory controlled by an adverse Party, a person who has parachuted from an aircraft in distress shall be given the opportunity to surrender before being made the object of attack….
The Russian pilot in question, on the unqualified boasting of the militiamen who killed him, had no such opportunity. The killing of the pilot was therefore a war crime.

It is the latest illustration of where criminal acts carried out in pursuit of geo-political objectives are given the courtesy of not even being discussed in the mainstream media. Instead, prominence is given in the media to ludicrous and self-serving statements by politicians and their official spokespersons.

Prior to November, the US “strategy” revolved around bombing the group’s oil infrastructure. As it turns out, that strategy was minimally effective at best and it’s not entirely clear that an effort was made to inform The White House, Congress, and/or the public about just how little damage the airstrikes were actually inflicting. 

There are two possible explanations as to why Centcom may have sought to make it sound as though the campaign was going better than it actually was, i) national intelligence director James Clapper pulled a Dick Cheney and pressured Maj. Gen. Steven Grove into delivering upbeat assessments, or ii) The Pentagon and the CIA were content with ineffectual bombing runs because intelligence officials were keen on keeping Islamic State’s oil revenue flowing so the group could continue to operate as a major destabilizing element vis-a-vis the Assad regime. 

Ultimately, Russia cried foul at the perceived ease with which ISIS transported its illegal oil and once it became clear that Moscow was set to hit the group’s oil convoys, the US was left with virtually no choice but to go along for the ride. Washington’s warplanes destroyed another 280 trucks earlier this week. Russia claims to have vaporized more than 1,000 transport vehicles in November. 

But even as Turkey's ties to the ISIS oil trade have been hiding in plain sight for the better part of two years, the Western media largely ignores the issue (or at least the scope of it and the possible complicity of the Erdogan government) because after all, Turkey is a NATO member. 

Unfortunately for Ankara, Erdogan's move to shoot down a Russian Su-24 near the Syrian border on Tuesday prompted an angry Vladimir Putin to throw Turkey under the ISIS oil bus for the entire world to see. Here's what Putin said yesterday after a meeting in Moscow with French President Francois Hollande: 

"Vehicles, carrying oil, lined up in a chain going beyond the horizon. The views resemble a living oil pipe stretched from ISIS and rebel controlled areas of Syria into Turkey. Day and night they are going to Turkey. Trucks always go there loaded, and back from there – empty. We are talking about a commercial-scale supply of oil from the occupied Syrian territories seized by terrorists. It is from these areas [that oil comes from], and not with any others. And we can see it from the air, where these vehicles are going."

“We assume that the top political leadership of Turkey might not know anything about this [illegal oil trade although that's] hard to believe," Putin continued, adding that “if the top political leadership doesn’t know anything about this, let them find out."

Obviously, Putin is being sarcastic. He very clearly believes that the Erdogan government is heavily involved in the transport and sale of ISIS crude. In the immediate aftermath of the Su-24 incident, Putin said the following about Ankara:


Peter said...

I'm not buying this one. Only time will tell, but Erdogan isn't about to go away.

Scott said...

Because it doesn't fit with your narrative?

ally said...

I have no idea what is going to happen. And I have no narrative but it ain't gonna be pretty. Putin is going to set him up and drop him down like a bowling pin. All in a very mature well thought out statesman style masterchess manuveur. This is for certain.

Peter said...