December 7, 2015 -
Svyatoslav Knyazev, PolitRussia -
Translated for Fort Russ by J. Arnoldski
“Turkey versus Iraq and Syria: prologue of the Third World War?”
Military publications and information agencies have exploded with the news that Turkish security forces are beginning to consolidate on Iraq territory. For the last few days, the Turkish army has been crossing the Syrian border and started digging in and equipping their border positions. Earlier, Turkish armed forces had already penetrated into both Syrian and Iraq territory (and “experts” were sure that they had been there the whole time), but this time we are dealing with a fundamentally new approach.
In February 2015, the Turks went a few dozen kilometers into Syrian territory to evacuate the remains of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, Suleiman Shah, and protect their honor. In September 2015, Turkish armed forces held a short-term operation against activists of the Kurdish Workers Party in Iraq not long after a clash with police in Turkey. Plus, for quite some time Turkish air forces have attacked the Kurds under the pretext of fighting Daesh. Turkey’s willfulness, of course, is not liked by Baghdad or Damascus, but air raids are one thing. A totally different thing is an actual occupation.
On November 26, the Turkish army broke into the territory of Syria and captured the border height tal-Sieb. It started with infantry accompanied with construction equipment. And then, after the erection of fortifications, tanks and light armored equipment were placed on the heights. Various media report that the local residents were convinced that this was all done with the aim of covering oil exports of the terrorists to Turkey, so that external forces would not prevent Daesh’s peaceful hydrocarbon trade, and in order to replenish the family budget of the country’s leadership.
And now units of the Turkish army have already “materialized” in the area of Bashiq near Mosul in Iraq. In the beginning there was talk of a company, then a battalion of infantry reinforced by 20-25 tanks. That is, there was talk of a battalion-tactical group capable of performing separate tasks. In particular, one capable of retaining positions or landing areas until the arrival of the main forces located not far away.
In general, according to media reports, directly on the south-eastern border of Turkey more than 1,000 armored vehicles, or about 8 brigades, are now concentrated. Given the size of the Turkish army, in a short time this grouping could be expanded significantly.
Unlike previous “raids,” the Turks seem to be accustoming themselves to being in Iraq and Syria for a while.
The intention to train the Turkish-loyal Kurdish militia group “Peshmerga” was officially announced. But in fact, there is a bigger question. Why are groups loyal to Turkey not being prepared on its own territory? Why go to a territory which, according to news agencies, is controlled by the “Islamic State.” Moreover, nothing has been heard of supposed conflicts between Turkish forces and the Islamic State.
Official Baghdad in a rage
Iraq authorities have stated that they gave no permission for this entry onto their territory and they have demanded that it their territory be left immediately. Turkey has pretended that it doesn’t hear anything. Then the head of the Iraq parliamentary committee on security and defense, Hakim al-Zamili, officially appealed to the government to airstrike the positions of Turkish occupational forces.
And, if the decision will be made, the consequences could be unpredictable. Given the policies of Ankara in recent times, being three our four times wrong as an aggressor, Turkey nonetheless believes that those who it his committing acts of aggression against have no right to use force. And Iraq, in this situation, might be blamed as the aggressor with all the ensuing consequences.
The situation is quite delicate, remembering that the US is officially continuing to “nurture” official Baghdad and that Turkey is a NATO ally and has recently, clearly been the pet of the alliance. Here it should be noted that relations between Washington and Baghdad are becoming more and more formal at an eye level. Iraqi authorities have openly pro-Iranian positions, and Tehran is clearly closer to them in every sense than their overseas “partners” who are bombing their country back to the stone age. In the words of American authorities, there is all the less heat aimed at Baghdad while there is more undisguised irritation at the growing influence of Tehran in the region and, indirectly, Moscow.
Turkey, despite the fact that the US has publicly distanced itself from the Mosul situation, is unlikely to decide on an invasion of a foreign territory without approval from Washington. Moreover, the situation is slippery. This member of the alliance’s troops could be struck at. But this would not be a strike at the territory of a member of the alliance, but against what is in fact an occupation force on a different territory. Formally, the allies have all the legal bases to politely (or rudely) refuse to support Ankara. But how everything will actually turn out is unknown. However, it is 90% probable that Turkey will not just leave its soldiers to be bombed. And then a spark can ignite a flame. And it is very likely that Iran will be compelled to come to the aid of its friends and fellow believers in Iraq.
Syria is being pulled apart
The situation in Syria is no less complex. Given the audacity and impudence with which Ankara acts, and its absolute nihilism in regards to issues of international law, it is impossible to exclude that, once established in one place in Syria, Turkish troops will move further. It is impossible for the Syrian army no to react to this, but what will happen if it does react? I recall that the Syrian army today operates in tandem with the Russian air force.
Russia is trying with all of its strength to maintain peace, and it is not responding to the military provocations of Turkey. But in view of the total and complete inadequacy of the Turkish leadership, it is impossible to predict its next steps. Turkey’s policies are, unfortunately, beginning to look more and more like the policies of Nazi Germany and, if a finger is raised, then the hand will be slapped...
Moreover, the situation in Syria and Iraq is already appearing to be not merely indirectly, but straightforwardly terrifying to Russian security. If earlier couch experts and idealists reasoned that the Caucasus are separated from the positions of ISIS by Turkey, then today it is obvious to everyone that the Turkish border is fully transparent for terrorists.
ISIS is now becoming more powerful in almost openly cooperating with Turkey. In Afghanistan, the death of the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, has been announced. This information has not been fully confirmed but, if it is true, then a vacuum will be created among the leadership of Islamic groupings in Central Asia, and ISIS will immediately rush to fill it. Plus, in recent months (under the nose of American security forces), its forces are growing with impunity in Northern Afghanistan. I think that it is not necessary to explain how this could threaten Russia.
In all of this terrible game, we don’t need to delude ourselves over the relationship between the US government and Erdogan. The US and the West in general have been traditionally close to nationalist Pan-Turkists in Turkey who are popular in the military. It is not excluded that Washington will once again plan a reshuffle similar to the one which Soviet spies thwarted in Germany 70 years ago. From 1943 to 1945, London and Washington thought through the technical variants of replacing Hitler with Nazi military and secret service men who were loyal to them, together with whom a united front could be formed against the USSR. But thanks to the efforts of brilliant Soviet agents, Moscow was constantly one step ahead, and attempts to “make friends” with the Nazis while simultaneously sacrificing Hitler resulted in an ugly international scandal.
Now, the United States is encouraging Erdogan with a conspiratorial half-smile while trying not to cross a certain line. Once his job is done and the fires of war have been lit, then it will be possible to accuse him of all mortal sins (first and foremost the financing of international terrorism) and skillfully replace him with someone fully controlled by the West from among the military-based nationalists who are dreaming of revenge against Erdogan over recent mass imprisonments and other humiliations.
Who is interested?
Why the United States? Everything is very simple. We have already written about the fact that the US has “ventilated” the question of changing borders in the Middle East into ones more comfortable for it over the past few years.
Moreover, this is done by force and “unofficial” but also “non-accidental” entities. In particular, experts from the former leadership of security and diplomatic structures of the US. Former chief of staff of the US Army, General Raymond Odierno, spoke on the feasibility of changing borders at his press-conference upon resigning. A former high-ranking intelligence officer, Ralph Peters, whose books are taught at leading military colleges in the US, wrote on this. And not long ago he was joined by one of the most authoritative American experts, the former deputy secretary of state and representative of the US to the UN, John Bolton:
“The current reality is such that the Iraq and Syria which we knew no longer exist. The Islamic State has carved out a new structure out of the heritage of the post-Ottoman empire, mobilizing Sunnis who are in opposition to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and the government of Iraq controlled by Iran. In addition, after years of struggle, a de fact independent Kurdistan has been formed...Instead of fighting for the restoration of the map of the world from after the First World War, Washington should recognize the new geopolitical situation. The best alternative to the Islamic State in north-eastern Syria and western Iraq is a new, independent, Sunni state."
Bolton almost verbatim repeated Peters and cynically stressed that the new government is clearly not democratic, but that there is, supposedly, nothing wrong with this! If Peters had only predicted in theory a change of borders, then Bolton’s speech would have been about this, but such statements have now been based in a real, operative setting! This leads to very serious suspicions that the entire situation is being completely modified in the framework of realizing one strategic plan.
There is not need to have any illusions. This “new independent Sunni state” designated by Bolton is ISIS! Just at the right moment some of its most odious leaders will be sacrificed! Once again, the “Dulles-Himmler variant of 1945”!
In a certain sense, the problem today is Kurdistan. The Kurds on the territory of Turkey and Syria are obviously negative towards Ankara, as towards the West, and do not hide their leftist views. Therefore, the West will carry on work with the Iraqi Kurds loyal to it, out of whom a new elite can be “forged.” It is possible that a united, independent Kurdistan, unlike today’s “anti-Western” mosaic of Kurdistan, could be deployed against Damascus, Baghdad, and Tehran. One option is that it could be either restricted to northern Syria and Iraq or a new Turkish elite would be compelled to sacrifice part of their territory in exchange for power and recognizing legitimacy. In the situation of a “great war,” this would be perceived normally.
And so, the ideal map for the West includes:
- the division of Iraq into three parts (a Shiite South, part that will leave for a new Sunni state, and part going towards a new Kurdistan)
- the division of Syria into three or four parts (one part goes to the new Sunni state, another to the new Kurdistan, and the costal part will be made into a miniature, secular and pro-Western state, or, over the course of trading, could be left for the Alawites)
- a weakened, reduced, and more Western-controlled Turkey
The countries which the West would like to throw into the fire of war are Iran (from which Washington would obviously and with pleasure separate the northern part inhabited by Kurds and Azerbaijanis) and Saudi Arabia, which is heading towards policies more independent from Washington (this recent behavior of yesterday’s ally cannot but annoy the United States).
The ideal option for Washington would be excluding Iran’s north, which is populated by ethnic minorities and which has access to the Caspian Sea. The resulting strip would be turned into a land corridor for pro-American forces in Central Asia.
And, of course, the strategic goal of this grand plan would be the southern part of Russia which, according to Western military doctrines, is the “main threat” against which all measures are good.
If this plan is carried out from across the ocean according to plan as written and in a controlled scenario, then this would be entirely tragic for us.
But it would be no less tragic for us than for the whole world if over the course of the implementation of this plan uncontrolled reactions begin (the appearance of unexpected players, the use of WMD’s, etc.), which could set the world on fire.
Russia’s actions in this situation are turning into a complicated chess match. One this is 100% clear. The decision to start operations in Syria was strategically, absolutely correct. And it has only one drawback: it was not taken earlier.