In Russia, Turkey / Türkiye

By Adam Garrie, The Duran, Aug 26, 2016

Recently, I warned Russia and those supportive of Russia’s just cause in helping Syria rid itself of fanatical, terrorist murderers, that under President Erdogan, Turkey is not a reliable nor consistent ally.

Turkish soldiers and APC at Syrian border (Sedat Suna, EPA)

Turkish soldiers and APC at Syrian border (Sedat Suna, EPA)

Of course, it is right that Russia and Turkey should de-escalate tensions, but there is a big difference between dressing a wound and making a full alliance. It seems just weeks after the rapprochement, Turkey has betrayed Russia, violated international law and helped to further destabilise Syria.

Yesterday, Turkish tanks and plans with the aid of the U.S. air force illegally invaded Syrian territory, specifically the town of Jarablus. The Turks and Americans justify this incursion by claiming they seek to fight ISIS who have controlled Jarablus.

The real reason is because Kurdish fighters were on the verge of taking Jarablus and Turkey feared the establishment of a Kurdish stronghold on the Turkish border.

Interestingly, whilst no major states currently involved in Syria favours the establishment of a Kurdish state, America had been one of the most steadfast supporters of the Kurds. I suppose America’s loyalty to Kurdish fighters is on par with Turkey’s loyalty to Russia.

Yet the Turkish invasion is more than just a slap in the face to Russia. It is puts Turkey at strategic loggerheads with Russia, fighting for a cause contrary to that which Russia and Syria are fighting for, and it exposes the only thing consistent about the Turkish regime; constant hypocrisy.

As of the 24th of August, Jarablus has been claimed by the so-called ‘Free Syrian Army’, a statement which merits scrutiny.

The ‘Free Syrian Army’ is less of an actual group than a catch all name for various fighters with multiple and changing allegiances, fighting for a single common goal, the overthrow of the legitimate government of Syria. Indeed, it was fighters labelled as the ‘Free Syrian Army’ who in 2011 began actions which helped to destabilise the country, which allowed ISIS, Al-Qaeda and similar groups to infiltrate the country from their then strongholds in northern Iraq.

Once ISIS began conquering large parts of Syria, the Free Syria Army faded away with its former members either joining ISIS, ISIS clones like Al-Nursa or simply fading away.

The name ‘Free Syrian Army’ has in the last year been resurrected, mainly by foreign commentators to name a mishmash of fighters who are willing to take orders from NATO members at any given time and in any given place.

If ISIS fighters occasionally change the name of their group to suit the notion of ‘moderate Islamist extremists’, then the Free Syrian Army is the opposite, it is a non-group whose inoffensive name occasionally appears in the press to make it seem like foreign anti-government forces have mainstream legitimacy in Syria.

In summary, Turkey has substituted a group calling themselves ISIS with an unknown band of conquerors which statistically includes former ISIS members and current ISIS members temporarily moonlighting under a different flag. In no way is this in the interests of the Syrian people nor of political stability in the region.

Russia’s interest is clear. Russia will do what is required by the Syrian government to help the fight against all forms of terrorism. Only countries invited by the government to intervene in Syria are doing so in accordance with international law.

The UN has not approved the Turkish-U.S. invasion, nor for that matter has it approved any other NATO country’s bombings of Syria. Syria remains a sovereign state and whilst ISIS claim they run an ‘Islamic State’, no one in the world recognises it as a state.

Ironically, by invading ISIS-controlled parts of what is legally Syrian territory, one grants recognition to the Islamic State by proxy. To say one has declared war on ‘the Islamic State’ means that it is a state.

In reality, the only legitimate state in the area in question is Syria and therefore Syria has been invaded. In a world governed by either logic or justice, all countries should join Syria in fighting terrorists. The imposition of a no-fly-zone around Jarablus is a total affront to both Syrian nationhood and a provocation to Russia, which has the only foreign air force legally flying over Syrian territory.

In all of this, the hypocrisy is astounding. Last year, Turkey shot down a Russian jet for allegedly entering Turkish airspace for mere moments (this turned out to be an outright lie as the plane remained within Syrian airspace at all times).

Now, Turkish tanks and planes enter Syria with total impunity. This is the same Erdogan who rebuked Syria in 2012 when a Turkish jet actually did stray into Syrian airspace and was shot down by Syrian forces.

I said that Erdogan’s inconsistency made him a liability and sure enough it has only taken him weeks to stab Russia in the back after grovelling before Putin and criticising America for refusing to hand over Turkish dissident Fethullah Gülen.

Now Erdogan is back at the core of NATO, threatening to shoot down Russia jets who fly into the parts of Syria that Turkey has illegally invaded. Anyone in Russia who thinks Erdogan is a friend must think again and be realistic.

Related reading on The Duran:
Russia and Turkey: An end to the rapprochement?, by Alexander Mercouris, Aug 26, 2016

The Turkish incursion into Syria does not wreck the recent Russian – Turkish rapprochement because it is only a limited rapprochement not a realignment. In the meantime Russia is working hard to reconcile the Syrian government with the Kurds.


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