A source close to Russian President Vladimir Putin told me that the Russians have warned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Moscow is prepared to use tactical nuclear weapons if necessary to save their troops in the face of a Turkish-Saudi onslaught. Since Turkey is a member of NATO, any such conflict could quickly escalate into a full-scale nuclear confrontation.
Parry is a serious man [“serious” is the highest compliment that an insider can give to someone]. I cannot say it will lead to nuke war, but it is very dangerous, as is quadrupling US/NATO forces near Russia’s borders.
American security expert Bruce Blair – a former nuclear-missile launch officer – notes that Turkey’s downing of the Russian warplane at the Syrian-Turkish border “fits a pattern of brinkmanship and inadvertence that is raising tensions and distrust between Russia and US-led NATO,” and that “this escalation could morph by design or inadvertence into a nuclear threat.”
Russia has the launch time from what it was during the Cold War. Today, top military command posts in the Moscow area can bypass the entire human chain of command and directly fire by remote control rockets in silos and on trucks as far away as Siberia in only 20 seconds.
Why should this concern us? History shows that crisis interactions, once triggered, take on a life of their own. Military encounters multiply; they become more decentralized, spontaneous and intense. Safeguards are loosened and unfamiliar operational environments cause accidents and unauthorized actions. Miscalculations, misinterpretations and loss of control create a fog of crisis out of which a fog of war may emerge. In short, the slope between the low-level military encounters, the outbreak of crisis and escalation to a nuclear dimension is a steep and slippery one.
Russia expert Stephen Cohen agrees that the risks of nuclear war are much higher than people know, telling the Commonwealth Club last year that the threat of nuclear war with Russia is now greater than it was with the Soviets.
The owner of Saudi Arabia, King Salman al-Saud, speaking through his spokesperson and chosen Foreign Minister, in says that he demands the resignation or else the overthrow of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, who is allied with both Iran and Russia. , consistently show Assad to be overwhelmingly approved by the Syrian people to be the leader of Syria, and show that Syrians blame the United States for causing ISIS, which is disapproved by 76% of Syrians. The other named jihadist groups, such as al-Nusra which is Al Qaeda in Syria, received similarly low approval-ratings from the Syrian public. In stark contrast, . But the United States is allied with the fundamentalist-Islamic dictatorship Saudi Arabia, against the separation-of-church-and-state democracy of Russia. So too is America’s fellow-NATO-member Turkey allied with the fundamentalist Muslims, and they’re publicly threatening to invade Syria (another nation that has ) with ground troops. They’re backed by planes that were supplied to the Sauds by the United States.
Spiegel’s interviewer asked some challenging follow-up questions, such as, “Is Saudi Arabia not financing extremist groups? Zarif speaks of attacks by al-Qaida.” To that one, he answered, “Yes, but that’s not us. We don’t tolerate terrorism.”
In the UAE, the TV network of Dubai telecast on 22 January 2016 an interview with the former Imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca Saudi Arabia, a high authority on the Sauds’ faith, which is likewise the faith of the six royal families of UAE, and this interview was telecast in Arabic, so the expectation was naturally to be speaking to the locals instead of to foreigners. However, a youtube on January 27th included subscripts in English, and is headlined He states there that the only difference between ISIS and their faith is that (1:55-) “We follow the same thought but apply it in a refined way,” because Saudis believe that (1:12-) “if we execute them [people] in a way that does not show us in a bad way, then that’s fine,” whereas ISIS’s way is so (1:09-) “brutal that it ruins our image in front of the world.” But that’s just the Saudi faith as it’s represented by the ‘holy men.’ What about the royals themselves?
The past week saw no decrease in the tense confrontation between Turkey and Russia over Syria. While Russia’s position is simple – ‘we are ready to fight’ – the Turkish position is much more ambiguous: Turkish politicians are saying one thing, then the opposite and then something else again. At times they make it sound like an invasion is imminent, and at times they say that “Turkey plans no unilateral invasion”. Since a UN authorized invasion of Syria will never happen, this means some kind of “coalition of the willing”, possibly NATO. The problem here is that the Europeans have no desire to end up in a war against Russia. At the same time, the US and France refuse to allow a UN Resolution which would reaffirm the sovereignty of Syria. Yup, that’s right. The US and France apparently think that the UN Charter (which affirms the sovereignty of all countries) does not apply to Syria. Go figure…
There are persistent rumors that top Turkish military commanders, categorically oppose any attack on Syria and that they want no part in a war with Russia. I don’t blame them one bit as they understand perfectly well two simple things: first, Turkey does not need a war, only Erdogan does; second, when Turkey is defeated, Erdogan will blame the military. There are also signs of disagreements inside the USA over the prospects of such a war, with the Neocons backing Erdogan and pushing him towards war just as they had done with Saakashvili while the White House and Foggy Bottom are telling Erdogan to “cool it”. As for the Turks themselves, they have shelled Kurdish and Syrian positions across the border and, on at least two occasions, a small military force has been seen crossing the border.
From a purely military point of view, it makes absolutely no sense for the Turks to mass at the border, declare that they are about to invade, then stop, do some shelling and then only send a few little units across the border. What the Turks should have done was to covertly begin to increase the level of readiness of their forces then and then attacked as soon as Russians detected their preparations even if that meant that they would have to initiate combat operations before being fully mobilized and ready. The advantages of a surprise attack are so big that almost every other consideration has to be put aside in order to achieve it. The Turks did the exact opposite: they advertised their intentions to invade and once their forces were ready, they simply stopped at the border and began issuing completely contradictory declarations. This makes absolutely no sense at all.
What complicates this already chaotic situation is that Erdogan is clearly a lunatic and that there appears to the at least the possibility of some serious infighting between the Turkish political leaders and the military.
Still, the Russians are taking no chances and they have put all their forces into high alert. They have very publicly dispatched a Tu-214r – her most advanced ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) aircraft. You can think of the Tu-214R as an “AWACS for the ground”, the kind of aircraft you use to monitor a major ground battle (the regular Russian A-50Ms are already monitoring the Syrian airspace). In southern Russia, the Aerospace forces have organized large-scale exercises involving a large number of aircraft which would be used in a war against Turkey: SU-34s. The Airborne Forces are ready. The naval task forces off the Syrian coast is being augmented. The delivery of weapons has accelerated. The bottom line is simple and obvious: the Russians are not making any threats – they are preparing for war. In fact, by now they are ready.
At least one reporter, Robert Parry, as written the following: “A source close to Russian President Vladimir Putin told me that the Russians have warned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Moscow is prepared to use tactical nuclear weapons if necessary to save their troops in the face of a Turkish-Saudi onslaught”. Is that really possible? Would the Russians really use nuclear weapons of things get ugly in Syria?
For one thing, the Russian task force in Syria is not an infantry tripwire force like the 82 in Iraq. The terrain and the opposing forces are also very different. Second, the Russian contingent in Syria can count on the firepower and support of the Russian Navy in the Caspian and Mediterranean and the Russian Aerospace Forces from Russia proper. Last but not least, the Russians can count in the support of the Syrian military, Iranian forces, Hezbollah and, probably, the Syrian Kurds who are now openly joining the 4+1 alliance (Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah) turning it into a 4+2 alliance I suppose.
There is one important feature of this 4+2 alliance which ought to really give the Turks a strong incentive to be very careful before taking any action: every member of this 4+2 alliance has an extensive military experience, a much better one than the Turkish military. The modern Turkish military is much more similar to the Israeli military in 2006 – it has a great deal of experience terrorizing civilians and it is not a force trained to fight “real” wars. There is a very real risk for the Turks that if they really invade Syria they might end up facing the same nightmare as the Israelis did when they invaded Lebanon in 2006.
In the meantime, the Russian backed Syrian forces are still advancing. Since the beginning of their counter-offensive the Syrians have succeeded in recapturing all of the strategic locations in western Syria in slow and incremental steps and they are now threatening Raqqa. See for yourself:
The bottom line is this: the size and capabilities of the Russian task force in Syria has been expanding and the level of collaborations between the elements of the 4+2 alliance has been increasing. Add to this the capability to deploy a regimental-size (and fully mechanized) Airborne force in Latakia if needed, and you will begin to see that the Turks would be taking a major risk if they attacked Russian forces even if Russia does not threaten the use of tactical nukes. In fact, I don’t see any scenario short of a massive US/NATO attack under which Russia would use her tactical nuclear weapons.
Making predictions about what the Turks and their Saudi friends will do makes no sense. We are clearly dealing with two regimes which are gradually “losing it”: they are lashing out at everybody (including their US patrons), they are terrified of their own minorities (Kurds and Shia) and their propensity for violence and terror is only matched by their inability in conventional warfare. Does that remind you of somebody else?
Scalia murder cover-up begins to unravel: Intelligence officers and high ranking police publicly question his untimely death