BELLS OF PANIC MUST STOP TOLLING:
30 July 2015
The bells of panic toll again, and this time they are being pulled by the ropes of recent events in Northern Syria.
This story repeats itself everytime there is a turn in the events of the War On Syria, and sadly, many observers and analysts, including highly intelligent ones fall into the traps of despair.
The same people who panicked in March 2011, panicked again in August 2013 in the face of an imminent NATO-led attack. Panic became a habit and was turned into fearmongering when NATO decided to start striking ISIS in Syria.
In all of the above situations, and many other minor ones, analysis of events clearly showed that such wide-based NATO-led attack was highly unlikely. As I have put forward the arguments, there were many criticisms, some made very rudely, and fortunately the counterargument proved to be wrong and Syria remains standing with NATO unable to strike it.
The bells of panic are ringing again in relation to the new role of Turkey.
Over the last week only, I had to write two articles in an attempt to dispel the myth of yet a new threat that is going to break Syria’s back. There is no need to repeat the same argument. For those interested in looking at it (if they haven’t yet) they can go to those articles are read them.
The focus herein will be to clarify Turkey’s position even more.
If someone believes that the initial coalition of forces that initiated the War On Syria back in March 2011 is still united, then there is really no point trying to convince him/her otherwise.
“…You think they are united, but their hearts are apart…” Holy Quran, Al-Hasher (59:13). Such is the station of unity of the forces of evil; each after his own bounty.
I have written over and over again about the history of America with Islamists; how the two can get together at times and then break apart when their interests diverge. To be unable to see that the interests of ISIS and the US in Syria have fallen apart is again something that no one can convince any other of. One either sees it or doesn’t.
America is in a tough bind in every respect, and it has been trying for some time to disengage from the Middle East with minimal losses and as much gains as possible. Its recent deal with Iran is part-and-parcel of this disengagement. This is leaving its regional allies Israel and Saudi Arabia very upset and concerned, but America is sunk to the hilt in debt and crises with Russia and China. It needs to focus on saving its own skin.
Ever since America decided to strike ISIS, the big stick in the mud was Turkey.
“What is in it for me?” was Erdogan’s question, not literally, not in a manner to be literally quoted, but that was his stand.
Erdogan is an Islamist, but he only wants to support Islamist organizations that are answerable to him. Ideologically, there is no difference between ISIS and Al-Nusra, but ISIS does not take orders from Erdogan. This did not stop him from supporting it especially after they became the dominant rebel group in Syria. He supported them because they were the only force on the ground that was prepred to fight his major enemies; the Kurds.
For Erdogan to accept an all-out war on ISIS was unfathomable because that would inadvertently mean empowering the Kurds. At “best”, ISIS was seen by Erdogan as the enemy’s enemy. The common enemy (the Kurds) brought the two monsters together just like the hatred of Syria brought many monsters together before.
Thus, America’s interests and those of Turkey became at odds. But their historic alliance had to weather the storm. After all, they are both formal states not gangs like those fighting the Syrian Army together one day and then fighting each other the next.
It was not a slip of the tongue when Biden overtly spoke of Turkey supporting terrorism. The apology he made later did not and cannot take back his words. But as usual, diplomacy sometimes means to sit back and wait for the opportune time to revamp discussions.
The time has come for Erdogan for a number of reasons. To begin with, before he loses the ultimate power in Turkey, he wants to score a victory; albeit a partial one. Secondly, for whichever reason, he too fell out of favour with ISIS. Recent clashes between their fighters and the regular Turkish Army did not sit nicely with Erdogan any more than the recent suicide bombing attack of Suruc.
It is not by accident that soon after this event, Turkey allowed NATO fighter jets to use the Incirlik air base. A deal was struck between Turkey and the US, the details are not made to be public, and even though America insists that the deal does not include creating a safe zone for Turkey, in reality it does. The Americans might have kept this condition out of the written wording of the agreement, but Erdogan would not have agreed to open up his air base for NATO and accept an upgrading of strikes on ISIS without a tradeoff.
This has all been discussed in my previous article; The Last Tango of Erdogan. What has transpired since is that Turkey is using this plan allegedly to repatriate its share of Syrian refugees. A cynical analysis indicates that Turkey wants to cherry-pick Syrians who support the opposition in order to relocate them into the buffer zone. This will serve a number of objectives for Turkey; it will enable it to off-load a big chunk of its Syrian refugees, it will create a buffer zone of Syrian-controlled area that is manned by Syrian opposition groups who answer to Turkey, and it hopes that the presence of this group will overwhelm the local Kurds and keep them at bay. Last but not least, as mentioned in a previous article, it will separate Turkish Kurds from Syrian Kurds.
The scenario that Turkey seeks is almost identical to the one that Israel tried to do and failed in South Lebanon in the 1980’s. Even though Israel manned, supplied and financed the Antoun Lahed’s “South Lebanon Army” members and their families in an attempt to dilute and weaken Hezbollah, the plot failed abysmally.
It must be borne in mind that this whole hope of Erdogan to be able to create a buffer zone is only his consolation prize after his initial plot of toppling President Assad has failed.
For anyone to think that Turkey is still capable or even intent of toppling the legitimate government of Syria is a mistake borne by blurred vision and lack of understanding of what is going on.
It is highly likely that this new plan will fail just like all previous plans. At the end of the day, the United States will have to come to terms with understanding that the only way to deal with the ISIS monster that it co-created is by working with the Syrian government or just simply by keeping its nose totally out of the joint.