Turkey says will go on with training, arming Syria terrorists

Turkey says will go on with training, arming Syria terrorists

Turkey has reaffirmed its support for militants operating in Syria, saying it will move ahead with training and equipping opposition elements fighting against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

“Moving forward, train-and-equip activities will continue uninterruptedly,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgic said at a press conference in Ankara on Thursday, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Bilgic further claimed that the policy was in line with the recent agreement between Ankara and Washington to sponsor the so-called moderate militants active in Syria.

“Within the scope of the agreement with US, the train-and-equip program is being carried out as outlined,” he added.

Back in February, the United States and Turkey signed an agreement to train and arm the so-called moderate militants in Syria in their alleged battle against the Takfiri Daesh terrorists in the Arab country.

They began their joint operation in May, claiming that the mission aims only to target the Daesh terrorists. Analysts, however, argue that the project actually seeks to create more chaos in Syria and weaken the Syrian government.

Syria has repeatedly condemned the West and its regional allies for using the concept of “moderate militants” to justify their support for the terrorists in Syria. The Syrian foreign minister recently slammed the US for making a distinction between the armed Takfiri groups fighting against the Damascus government.

“For us in Syria, there is no such thing as moderate or non-moderate opposition. Whoever that takes up arms against the Syrian state is a terrorist,” Walid al-Muallem said in early August.


Militants from the so-called Free Syrian Army take part in a military training in Syria’s northwestern city of Aleppo, May 4, 2015. ©AFP

 

Syria has been grappling with a foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The conflict has so far killed more than 240,000 people.

Turkey, along with several other US allies in the region, has time and again been accused of supporting the militants fighting against the Damascus government.

Turkey, USA created “safe zone” in Syria for use by ISIS terrorists

ISIS Seizes US-Turkey ‘Safe Zone’ Territory in Syria

Fighters Approach Key Town of Marea in Aleppo Province

ISIS gains are mounting in the Aleppo Province of Syria, with reports of heavy fighting overnight in which they routed the Free Syrian Army (FSA), seizing several villages and approaching the strategically important town of Marea, which is now a key base for FSA forces.

The capture is doubly inconvenient for the US and Turkey, as they have not only been backing the FSA in this region, but this area was a key part of the 60 mile “safe zone” they were intending to carve out of northern Syria, which is supposed to be “ISIS-free.”

It’s less ISIS-free than ever, and it’s largely the fault of the US and Turkey, as this territory was under the control of al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front earlier this month, but abandoned by them at the behest of Turkey, because it was to be a part of this “safe zone.”

The FSA moved into the area, with support from some of al-Qaeda’s Islamist bloc in the region, as a more palatable rebel faction to hold the region from the US perspective. That the FSA has failed repeatedly when confronted by other factions, however, meant they handed this region to a group who would never be able to defend it.

If the US and Turkey hadn’t started hyping this “safe zone,” the territory would never have been ceded by al-Qaeda, and they’ve been more effective at fighting ISIS, meaning the ISIS takeover would’ve been a much more difficult proposition.

 

NY Times Comic (again): Why Isn’t Obama Backing Al-Qaeda in Syria?

NY Times: Why Isn’t Obama Backing Al-Qaeda in Syria

Just fourteen years after al-Qaeda attacked New York, the New York Times is wondering why the Obama Administration is not cooperating more closely with al-Qaeda.

Of course they don’t put it quite that way. In an article posted yesterday, the “paper of record” first builds up an impressive new fighting group in Syria that is, as they say, a “potential ally” of the United States, but that the Administration has for some reason found “challenging” to openly embrace:

A rebel group with thousands of fighters, political clout and close ties to key regional powers has emerged as one of the most powerful opposition forces in Syria in recent months. It has vowed to fight the Islamic State and called for engagement with the West.

But despite a long struggle by the United States to find a viable opposition in Syria to counter President Bashar al-Assad and fight the Islamic State, the Obama administration has shown no interest in working with the group, Ahrar al-Sham, or the Free Men of Syria.

A powerful force, ties to key regional powers, vows to fight both ISIS and Assad, calls for “engagement” with the West, and it even has a name straight out of Hill & Knowlton: the “Free Men of Syria.” What’s not to like? The New York Times presents it as a dream come true.

You have to look below the fold to see the slight glitch:

Ahrar al-Sham cooperates with the Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda and has welcomed former associates of Osama bin Laden.

Is that all? This must be the part that poses a “challenge” to the Administration. How to embrace al-Qaeda without being seen to embrace al-Qaeda.

The Times does slightly nod to the uncomfortable history of US support for violent Islamist extremists:

Clear in the minds of American leaders is the history of those mujahedeen supported by the United States in Afghanistan in the 1980s who later formed Al Qaeda

Yes al-Qaeda. And that whole 9/11 thing. But of course that is old history and the current crisis for the foreign policy experts in Washington to solve is how to get rid of Assad. Still, PR problems remain:

A recent promotional video quotes Abdullah Azzam, Bin Laden’s mentor in Afghanistan. And Hassan Aboud, the group’s first leader, has called for the establishment of an Islamic government in Syria.

The Times quotes an “unnamed Administration official” saying, “[a]s long as they remain close to Nusra [al-Qaeda in Syria], I can’t see us working with them.”

Well, at least not openly.

US allies in the region are not so squeamish about the bad PR that might come from actively supporting al-Qaeda. Turkey, for example, has long openly supported Ahrar al-Sham. Shortly after the “Arab Spring” overthrow of Assad that Ankara supported, the Turkish government realized that there was simply no homegrown military force capable of overthrowing the popular Assad regime. So it turned to Islamists with their dreams of an Islamic State encompassing much of the region.

According to an International Business Times piece today, quoting the neocon Institute for the Study of War:

Turkey ‘seems to have chosen a house to [publicly] back in Syria,’ said Jennifer Cafarella, a Syria analyst at the Institute for the Study of War. ‘Ankara has worked closely enough with Ahrar — empowering the group not just as a fighting force, but also as a political actor — that Ankara has assumed a degree of ownership over Ahrar’s overarching political project,’ War on the Rocks reported last week.

So the US government to this point will not publicly embrace al-Qaeda’s allies in Syria, but it will forge an ever-closer military alliance with a Turkish regime that openly supports the organization, has “deep ties,” and empowers the al-Qaeda affiliated group as a fighting force. Just this month the US announced it would conduct joint airstrikes with the Turkish military from Turkish soil. If the Obama Administration had a problem with the embrace of al-Qaeda might it not make that problem known to the group’s biggest supporter, Turkey?

While there is a great irony in the New York Times wondering why the Obama Administration doesn’t cozy up more openly to an al-Qaeda ally in Syria, in fact it does make some sense. The CIA has long been training jihadists to take down Assad. Why keep secret what everyone already knows?

But a friendly word of advice to both the New York Times and Turkey — be careful: According to the original authorization for the use of military force signed into law after the 9/11 attacks:

…the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons (emphasis added)

And worse, the 2012 NDAA authorizes indefinite detention or even drone strikes against:

A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces (emphasis added) that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.

Yes that may sound silly because these groups did not even really exist in 2001 so how could they harbor those who were responsible for the 9/11 attack or be considered “associated forces?” But the Obama Administration has based its entire legal rationale for its (illegal) bombing of Syria on that same 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force. Their rules. Bombs away, NYT and Turkey! Take cover!

Russia, unlike the USA, takes the fight against terrorism seriously

Russian Army Engages in Syria, Supplies Weapons, Advisors and Intelligence

russia-usa-bomb

A profound and significant change has just occurred in the Levant – the Russian army has begun to engage against terrorism in Syria. Although Russia has been absent from the international scene since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and although it is moving with care, it has just created a Russo-Syrian Commission, has begun supplying weapons, sharing intelligence, and sending advisors. All of this is more or less coordinated with the White House.

After having negotiated a regional alliance against the Islamic Emirate which implied Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey, Russia suddenly had to abandon its strategy after the Turkish turn-around. Ankara has in fact decided to break off its ties with Moscow, and has cancelled, without genuine motive, the contract for the gas pipe-line Turkish Stream, created, in partenership with Ukraine, an international Islamic Brigade intended to destabilise Crimea [1]. It has also come to the help of the Islamic Emirate in their fight against the Kurds of the PKK and the YPG.In the same way, the White House has been obliged to change its own strategy after the manœuvers by General John Allen, who agreed to help President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to create a « security zone »for the Islamic Emirate in Northern Syria [2].Finally, Moscow and Washington have coordinated:

- the removal of Patriot missiles stationed in Turkey ;
- the creation of a Russo-Syrian military Commission.

The end of the no-fly zone

The Patriot missiles had been installed by NATO in Turkey as from January 2013, in order to prevent the Syrian Air Force from deploying on the frontier. As a result, the jihadists of the al-Nusra Front (al-Qaïda) were able to seize the North of the country, and as from the summer of 2014, this no-fly zone was occupied by the Islamic Emirate.

Thus, during the battle of Kobane, the Syrian Air Force were unable to bomb the Islamic Emirate, and Syria was obliged to attempt a land attack to save the city. Since it was unable to advance the last thirty kilometres, the Atlantist Press presented the Kurdish forces of the YPG as being independent of Damascus, although the Syrian Arab Republic had supplied it with weapons and was paying its soldiers.

The Patriot missiles, initially deployed by Germany and Holland, are today German and Spanish. They will first of all be revised and modernised, then redeployed in Lithuania, at the Russian frontier.

The entrance of the Russian army into the war against Syria

Although Russia had abstained from participating in military operations since the beginning of the conflict, it has now created a Russo-Syrian Military Commission. And yet, NATO had organised all the events concerned in what was called the « Arab spring », including the war against Syria, and coordinated foreign jihadist groups and their Libyan and Syrian collaborators, called « rebels », from the Turkish base in Izmir [3], now also the location of LancCom (command of the land troops of the 28 member states of the Atlantic Alliance).

Within a few weeks, many military advisors arrived in Damascus.

Six Mikoyan-Gourevitch MiG-31’s were delivered. These planes are the best interceptors in the world. They had been bought in 2007, but the contract had been frozen. Their delivery is not affected by the arms embargo, since they can not be used in operations concerning the maintenance of law and order, but only for national defence, in this case, possible incursions by Israël or Turkey. Under various pretexts, these two states acted many time during the war to support the jihadists whenever they were in difficulty.

So, on the 30th January 2013, Tsahal bombed the Centre for Military Research in Jemraya, under the pretext of destroying weapons that were destined for Hezbollah. In fact, the attack was intended to destroy a communications brief-case captured by the Syrian Arab Army, containing NATO satellite data, before they were able to decipher it [4]. The operation had been commanded by the Israeli Air Force in coordination with the Free Syrian Army, which in turn was directed by officers of the French Foreign Legion under the supervision of NATO’s LandCom.

Simultaneously, and for the first time, the Russian army has just supplied satellite images to Syria. This decision, awaited for five years, inverses the military situation. Indeed, so far the jihadists have often escaped the Syrian Arab Army thanks to satellite images supplied by NATO in real time. Even though, over a six-month period, it would seem that NATO no longer shares its intelligence with the Islamic Emirate, but only with the al-Nusra Front (al-Qaïda).

Finally, the Russian military advisors possess a wealth of information which they use in order to study the possibility of an international deployment under banner of the UNO. They have to present a report to the Kremlin which would also study the possibility of a Russian operation as well as a joint operation by the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

The CSTO will be meeting in Douchanbe, Tadjikistan, on the 15th September. A deployment by the CSTO had aleady been envisaged, in June 2012, during the preparation for the « Geneva Conference 1 » [5]. Indeed, this military alliance includes three states with a Muslim population – Kazakhstan, Kirghizistan, and Tadjikistan, who are better prepared than Russia to fight terrorists who claim to be Islamist. However, at the time, the CSTO had no agreement with the UNO to carry out peace operations. This situation was resolved on the 28th September 2012 – it could also be applied as well in Afghanistan as in Syria [6].

The limits of the cooperation between the Kremlin and the White House

In any event, the cooperation between the Kremlin and the White House has its limits – Russia wants to eradicate the jihadists before they turn against her, while the United States hope that some of them could be re-activated in other conflicts, as was earlier the case in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chechnya and Kosovo.

Already, certain elements of Daesh have arrived in Kherson (Ukraine), where a so-called « Crimean Government in Exile » already exists.

It is apparent that from the US side, the withdrawal of the Patriot missiles is a trap. Washington would be happy for Russia to reduce the number of active jihadists, but at the same time, it would not be dismayed if it were to get bogged down in Syria. That is why the Russian bear is advancing prudently.

Thierry Meyssan is founder and chairman of Voltaire Network and the Axis for Peace Conference. His columns specializing in international relations feature in daily newspapers and weekly magazines in Arabic, Spanish and Russian. His last two books published in English : 9/11 the Big Lie and Pentagate.

Translation

Pete Kimberley

World Must Support Syria, as Syrian Army is Only Force That Can Defeat ISIL

World Must Support Syria, as Syrian Army is Only Force That Can Defeat ISIL

The Syrian national army is the only force that can defeat ISIL in the war-torn country, said Ali Haidar, the Minister of State for Syrian National Reconciliation Affairs.

Syria needs strong international support to preserve the integrity of the state, because only the Syrian national army can effectively defeat the unruly bands of Islamic militants, which includes ISIL, Haidar told Ilyas Umakhanov, the First Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation.

This is why Syria needs to have a full support from the international community, Haidar said.

Right now, the Syrian military is on a large-scale offensive against the rebel militants. Last week, the Syrian army took back 16 villages from Al-Nusra Front terrorists, killing up to 350 rebels in process.

The al-Nusra Front is a branch of al-Qaeda operating in Syria and Lebanon. The group announced its formation in January 2012. It has been described as both one of the most aggressive and successful rebel forces in Syria.Syria has been in a state of a civil war since March 2011 with government forces fighting on multiple fronts against a so-called “moderate” opposition and numerous extremist groups, including Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIL.

 

Hezbollah doing a great job fighting terrorism in Syria, but is that partly a reason for the Rubbish going on in Lebanon?

Assad Defends Presence of Hezbollah Fighters in Syria

Syrian leader says his government formally requested help from group while foreign fighters helping rebels are illegal

Assad has expressed ‘strong confidence’ that Moscow will continue supporting his regime [EPA]

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has defended the presence of fighters from the Lebanese Shia Hezbollah movement among the ranks of the Syrian army, saying his government had legitimately requested their help. 

In an interview aired on Tuesday night on the official Hezbollah channel, al-Manar, Assad said the presence of non-Syrian fighters among the Syrian army was no justification for the presence of foreign fighters in the ranks of the rebels.

Hezbollah has led several battles against rebel groups in Syria along the Lebanese borders in the suburbs of Homs and in the mountainous Qalamoun region.

The Iranian-backed group is now heavily involved in fighting for the Damascus suburb of Zabadani.

When asked to compare Hezbollah fighting in Syria with foreign fighters supporting the rebels, Assad said: “There is a big difference. The Syrian state requested the assistance of Hezbollah.

“It was a request by the Syrian state – which is a legitimate state – in order to help defend the Syrian people.”

Russian support

Assad said his major allies – namely Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah – since Syria’s revolt broke out in 2011 had been “beyond loyal”.

The embattled president also expressed “strong confidence” that Moscow will continue to support his regime.

“We have strong confidence in the Russians, as they have proven throughout this crisis, for four years, that they are sincere and transparent in their relationship with us,” Assad said, in what was a rare television interview.

“They are principled,” the president said, while “the United States abandons its allies, abandon its friends”.

“This was never the case with Russia’s policy, neither during the Soviet Union, nor during the time of Russia.”

Assad had been asked by al-Manar’s correspondent about US President Barack Obama’s comments earlier this month that Russia and Iran “recognise that the trend lines are not good for Assad”.

He rebuffed the statement, saying Iran, too, remained a steadfast ally.

“The power of Iran is the power of Syria, and a victory for Syria is a victory for Iran.

“We are on the same axis, the axis of resistance,” the president added.

UN bias

Syria’s conflict began with anti-government demonstrations in March 2011.

But after a bloody crackdown by the ruling regime, the conflict spiralled into a multi-front civil war that has killed more than 240,000 people.

In the interview, Assad reiterated that “fighting terrorism” should be the priority in any peace deal. The regime regularly labels the opposition as “terrorists”.

He also accused the UN peace envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, of bias for what he said was the envoy’s exclusive condemnation of the Syrian army’s attacks on “terrorists”.

Earlier this month, government air raids on a crowded market in the Damascus suburb of Douma killed over 100 people.

De Mistura said in a statement that hitting crowded civilian markets is “unacceptable.”

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Turkish Air Force had conducted more than 300 strikes against Kurdish targets versus only 3 against ISIS

How Turkey Plays the War on Terror

America’s reluctant ally finally offers token assistance against ISIS only as cover for a campaign against the Kurds.

Valentina Petrov / Shutterstock.com

The United States’s engagement in the Middle East since 2001 would be a comedy of errors but for the fact that it is not funny. It all began with the exploitation of a befuddled President George W. Bush by a group of neoconservative advisers who had long planned to invade Iraq and oust its President Saddam Hussein using phony arguments about Baghdad being a nest of terrorists and a repository of weapons of mass destruction. The bungled occupation was followed by a prolonged case of democracy building that essentially destroyed Iraq as a nation and eventually led to a sectarian government closely tied to neighboring Iran that had the temerity to ask U.S. forces to leave at the end of 2011.

Overall, George Bush’s adventure has rightly been described as the worst foreign policy disaster in the history of the United States, killing approximately 4,500 Americans and some hundreds of thousands of Iraqis while costing the U.S. taxpayer at least $5 trillion. And that judgment does not even consider how the U.S. intervention led to the entry of al-Qaeda into the country as a result of the power vacuum created. Al-Qaeda was followed by the birth of ISIS in neighboring Syria, a development that soon metastasized and expanded back into Iraq. Neither Iraq nor Syria harbored any terrorists before 2001, but they certainly have plenty of them right now, and quite a few of them are using American-made weapons captured without a fight from the U.S.-trained Iraqi Army.

The United States has also given open and covert support to rebel groups operating in Syria in the insane belief that overthrowing President Bashar al-Assad would lead to the creation of a new democracy. Just like in Libya, apparently. Even though almost everyone agrees that the “moderate rebel” is difficult to define in practice and has been sighted less frequently than the unicorn, Washington went ahead with a $500 million dollar program for the CIA and Pentagon to train a strike force of such creatures to turn loose in Syria. The hugely expensive effort trained a paltry 60 rebels, who returned home only to be quickly defeated by their more militant peers. Some were killed and others captured, so they were unceremoniously disbanded. Back to square one.

All of this seems to have benefited ISIS, which has an excellent grasp of social networking as well as a propaganda arm able to depict the group as the Islamic bulwark against the West and its values while also opposing the corrupt Muslim regimes that have betrayed both Allah and the faithful.

From the start, Turkey, which nominally opposes radical rebel groups like ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, has been curiously absent from the fray, instead arguing that the major effort should be focused on defeating al-Assad. Indeed, when I was in Istanbul last July bearded rebels were observed in the more fundamentalist neighborhoods collecting money for ISIS without any interference from the numerous and highly visible Turkish police and intelligence services. Turkey has also been surreptitiously buying as much as $3 million worth of smuggled oil from ISIS every day, virtually funding the group’s activities. Ankara has allowed ISIS militants to freely cross over the Syrian border into Turkey for what might be described as R&R (rest and recreation) as well as medical care and training. Weapons have been flowing in the opposite direction, cash and carry, some provided by the Turkish intelligence service MIT.

Given the plate of pottage that now exists in the Arab Middle East, Washington was understandably delighted when Turkey on July 23rd announced that bygones should be bygones and that henceforth it would play a more active role against ISIS. Or at least that’s what Ankara seemed to be saying. U.S. warplanes would be able to use the NATO air base at Inçirlik to bomb ISIS positions, a much shorter flight than from the facilities hitherto used in the Persian Gulf, though the move did not solve the real problem, which is that there are no forward observers on the ground to direct the bombs and missiles, which has meant that many planes return with their bomb loads intact.

But the euphoria in Washington must have been short lived as Turkey quickly demonstrated that its use of the United States as a partner in an offensive against terrorists could be considered window dressing or possibly even cover for quite different activity, as ISIS was not the enemy that Ankara had in mind.

Some understanding of what was going on in Turkish politics leading up to the shift to an ostensibly more aggressive role is essential. Turkey had held a parliamentary election on June 5th in which the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) failed to obtain a majority. Worse still, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which is largely Kurdish, broke through the 10 percent barrier required to obtain parliamentary seats with more than 13 percent of the vote, much of it consisting of former AKP seats, making it a potential swing party in forming a new government.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose autocratic and increasingly Islamist style was the likely cause for the electoral shift, has been de facto running Turkey while Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has been attempting unsuccessfully to find a coalition partner for a new government. Erdogan has been openly maneuvering for new elections by refusing to make any concessions to potential coalition partners and has attempted to create a political situation perceived to be favorable to the AKP, a tactic that has been described by an opposition leader as a “civilian coup.” November 1st has been proposed as a possible date, but it must be confirmed by the Elections Board. Erdogan had a personal stake in again going to the polls as he has been seeking to have his position as president upgraded with significant new powers, something that will require a substantial majority in parliament to amend the constitution.

The Turkish government of Erdogan has over the past several years been preoccupied with finding both internal and external enemies to justify its increasingly megalomaniacal heavy hand. This effort has largely been focused on the near-mythical foe Fethullah Gülen, who resides in Pennsylvania and who allegedly heads a somewhat cult-like organization called Hizmet (the Service). Gulen, who is a religious conservative, once was a political ally of Erdogan but the two eventually became bitter enemies. Erdogan while Prime Minister accused Gulen of setting up a secret government that was “terroristic” in nature and proceeded to initiate a number of purges of the military, police, judiciary, universities, and the media to destroy it. Nevertheless, the most recent election demonstrated that AKP for all its fear mongering was beginning to lose control and something had to be done to create a more compelling threat narrative. Enter the Kurds.

For three decades Turkey has been at war on-and-off with the Kurds, some of whom seek more autonomy within Turkey, while others favor the creation of an independent Kurdish state incorporating parts of Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey. By some estimates 18 percent of the population of Turkey is of Kurdish origin, concentrated in the rural southeast, making it the country’s largest minority. Kurdish identity has itself been suppressed through the Turkish assertion that Kurds are actually “mountain Turks.” Kurdish language and cultural manifestations have long been illegal in Turkey, though there has been some temporary loosening of those strictures in recent years under pressure from the European Union.

For many Turks Kurds are the existential enemy. A Kurdish state would lead to the dismemberment of the Turkish state and Syria has become the object of Turkish wrath in part due to concerns that al-Assad would unleash Kurdish terrorism along his 600 mile long and largely indefensible border with Turkey. Even though Turkey has had a mainly effective cease fire with the most powerful Kurdish armed dissident group the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) since 2013, Erdogan evidently decided that it was good politics to break the agreement and declare war against the ancient enemy. And he chose to do it under the aegis of the U.S. led war on terror to increase its legitimacy in the media and in front of the international audience, hence the decision to support the Americans against ISIS.

The Turkish turnabout took place four days after a suicide bombing inside Turkey killed thirty-two civilians in Suruç in the Kurdish region. The bombing was attributed to ISIS not completely convincingly, but it nevertheless led to the round up and imprisonment of mostly Kurdish and leftist militants throughout Turkey plus a much smaller number of ISIS supporters. A major air assault on the PKK and other Kurdish targets in northern Syria followed with no warning to American and other allied soldiers and intelligence officers present in the area, a move that reportedly “outraged” U.S. military leaders. Ankara was clearly responding forcefully to fears of some kind of Kurdish state developing in northern Syria, a concern that had been growing after Kurdish militiamen liberated the border town of Tel Abyad from ISIS in June, provoking a pro-government newspaper to describe the Kurds as “more dangerous than ISIS.”

Since the wave of arrests and the initial air attacks, Kurdish reprisals against the Turks have killed more than 50 policemen and soldiers, while there are reports of an estimated 400 Kurdish militants dead at the hands of the Turks. It all guarantees that the tit-for-tat cycle of violence will continue.

As of last week, the Turkish Air Force had conducted more than 300 strikes against Kurdish targets versus only three against ISIS. Turkey’s war against ISIS was quickly and by design directed against the Kurds, including the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units YPG militia which, together with the Iraqi Kurds, is supported by the United States and has been the most effective force in opposing ISIS. So Turkey, pretending to oppose ISIS, is actually attacking ISIS’s enemies and even placing in danger the American advisers known to be working with the Kurds.

All of which means that the United States is again looking on in astonishment over having been bamboozled, recalling Rudyard Kipling’s famous epitaph “A Fool lies here who tried to hustle the East.” One angry American general calls the development a “bait and switch,” while another commented that Erdogan “needed a hook” to go after the Kurds and lied to Washington to accomplish that. I might even suggest that the original suicide bombing that sparked the whole chain of events, which was carried out by a 20-year-old ethnic Kurd, might itself have been a false flag operation by MIT, designed to ease Turkish entry into a hot war ostensibly against ISIS but which would really be directed at the Kurds.

It remains to be seen if Erdogan will actually benefit electorally from the new war, as most Turks continue to be wary about military involvement in Syria and the instability has sent the Turkish lira plummeting on currency markets. He has already explicitly linked the opposition HDP to Kurdish terrorism in an attempt to discredit it and remove it from parliament, also calling for its 80 legislators to be stripped of their immunity so they can be prosecuted. And Erdogan certainly has plenty of precedents in mind when it comes to fabricating a powerful new external threat to revive one’s political fortunes.

Lost in the shuffle are Washington’s hapless diplomats and soldiers, trying to make sense of the long-abandoned U.S. interests, but that does not mean that Americans will be immune from blowback as the situation continues to deteriorate. The United States Consulate General in Istanbul, where I once-upon-a-time worked, came under gunfire two weeks ago, while Kurdish militants have already begun a new terror campaign directed against foreign tourist targets in Istanbul and along Turkey’s Aegean and south coast.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

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