Point man to take advantage of US muddling and meddling in Syria by US State is Recep Tayyip Erdogan, clearly playing his hand as the “great NATO ally” posturing to avoid US sanctions, in light of Turkey’s recent S-400 missile purchase and his attempt to fill a perceived power vacuum in the Middle East and Africa.
RTE (Erdogan) has proven himself useful to the US-Israeli regime by providing weaponry to terrorists within the Idlib pocket. This video from Afrin (Turkish-held) shows just two pieces of armor provided by Turkey to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham terrorists in Idlib. The APC shown is certainly a Soviet MT-LB likely supplied by rogue Ukrainian weapons brokers to Turkey. Ukrainian weapons merchants possess vast amounts of old Soviet military gear, and Kiev arms dealers will sell any sort of weaponry to anyone so long as the currency is convertible.
Turkey is in a dispute with Israel over gas resources around Cyprus too, where Cyprus has signed natural gas deals with Egypt and Israel, while Turkey appears only as the interloper, based on its illegal occupation of Northern Cyprus. (For Israel to call out Turkey on that occupation is the ultimate in irony.) While Turkey pushes Israel for a cut in spoils with regard to Cypriot gas, Turkey can appease Israel by arming terrorists in Syria and (so far) to Turkey’s advantage.
Besides militarist intervention, Erdogan is pushing the envelope with his bizarre concept of a US-Turkish along the eastern Euphrates in northern Syria (negotiated with zero regard for the legitimate and sovereign government of Syria) which poses a dilemma for all in the northeast. Turkey pressed the issue by threatening to invade the northeast, a brinksmanship bluff that the former United States refused to call. How Turkey’s “safe zone” will operate, and whether the goal is to truly repatriate 700K or so refugees back to Syria from southern Turkey, has yet to be seen.
Briefly, Turkey’s leadership foresaw a power vacuum in Syria just as Turkey (somewhat) successfully exploited a power vacuum in Libya. Erdogan is now pressing the issue even further, challenging all powers present in Syria to oppose him. So long as Turkey can draw this out and leverage that exposure, Erdogan will present himself as a regional power to be reckoned with.
Meanwhile by supplying weaponry to Idlib terrorists – not to mention – Erdogan can thus press the issue of Syrian security with Syria’s allies, Russia and Iran, and demonstrate his proposed omnipotence as a regional potentate, by aggressively intervening wherever Turkey so chooses.. including Libya.
But unfortunately for Mr Erdogan, Syria is a far different matter than simply hijacking Misurata oil from Libya. For one thing, Israel has little interest in destabilizing Libya – as it does in Syria – and only benefits by selling weapons to all sides in Libya. Also, the Russian Federation does not have the vested interest in Libya that it does in Syria, and Iran too has little interest in Libya, while the United States has largely been frozen out of the Libyan equation by creating the crisis there in the first place.
Again, it’s a double game, playing US and Israel interests versus Russian and Iranian goals in Syria. The risk for Turkey in Syria – as we see from the conflict map – is that RTE’s double-dealing game is not lost on Russia… or on Iran. Syrian security forces have greatly stepped up their attacks versus Idlib to a level not seen before, including attacks on southern Idlib proper, to the great consternation of assorted US-Saudi-Israeli aligned terror groups trapped there.
Ironically it was the west that warned against making Idlib province a humanitarian crisis zone, after originally engineering the disaster in Syria. Subsequent to nine years of US-led armed conflict, Idlib is now a pocket populated by many ISIS and al Qaeda linked groups, and the defeat and disarming of HTS and its myriad associated terror militias in the province will go a long way to subverting US-Israeli ambitions to further destabilize the Middle East. Ironically too, it was arguably Hillary Clinton’s design to group ISIL terrorists in one location and then eliminate them all… a policy that John Bolton no longer supports due to the Israeli and US State desire to implement regime change in Syria by supporting ISIL terror.
However the ultimate question relates to a Russian Federation slap down of Turkish adventurism in Syria with regard to Turkish support for terrorist militias in Afrin, Hama and Idlib. So far the Russian leadership has chosen to concentrate on its goals, to support the SAA clean-up of terror groups in Idlib province, targeting Ahrar al Sham, HTS, the NLF, and many flavours of ISIS and al-Qaida polluting the region. And Erdogan is certainly aware that in any conflict between Russian forces and Turkey’s there can only be one outcome.
Turkey has no doubt provoked the Kremlin’s ire too by providing terrorists in quantity with the Russian-made 9M133 Kornet (aka AT-14 Spriggan – an effective ATGM) since April 2019, and terror militias have used these weapons effectively to turn back SAA advances.
Meanwhile as the situation in Syria heats up further, look for the US leadership to divert and switch attention, to focus on Iran. That is, by focusing on Iran the US can divert from its regime change failures in Venezuela, North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, the Ukraine, Georgia, Hong Kong, and more.
For example it is abundantly clear that US State was behind the seizure of Iranian oil carried by the GRACE-1 tanker, even though the Gibraltar governate announced some weeks ago that it was solely responsible for the hijacking. Indications are that Iran is intending to steam off with this re-flagged tanker despite the US order, providing potential for Washington to display its usual grandstanding, propaganda, bluster, and imperial hubris.
Another issue for the US is the UAE withdrawal from Yemen — based on US belligerence in the region – which has left Saudi exposed, and may result in yet another regime failure in Yemen, to group with all the other US failures.
As time goes on, the power vacuum left in the wake of failed US regime change attempts will provide an opening for more demagogues and rogues like Erdogan to exploit… and Erdogan certainly knows that well.
By gradually reducing its options and sphere of influence based on hubris, arrogance, and aggression, the US will lose its trading advantage and possibly even lose the USD as global reserve currency. And yes, there is a difference between losing a war and failing to win one. But there are only so many wars a hegemonic behemoth can fail to win before the winds of change catch up with it. And certainly, Recep Tayyip knows that too, along with the rest of the world.
Steve Brown is the author of “Iraq: the Road to War” (Sourcewatch), editor of “Bush Administration War Crimes in Iraq” (Sourcewatch), “Trump’s Limited Hangout” and “Federal Reserve: Out-sourcing the Monetary System to the Money Trust Oligarchs Since 1913.” Steve is an antiwar activist, a published scholar on the US monetary system, and has appeared as guest contributor to the Duran, Fort Russ News, and Strategika 51.