Syrian Flashpoint

US and Turkey invade Syria

by , August 26, 2016

Even as top Turkish officials excoriate the United States for supposedly backing the failed coup attempt against President Recip Erdogan, Turkish troops and US Special Forces are coordinating with Syrian Islamist rebels to carry out a de facto invasion of Syria. Under the pretext of fighting the Islamic State, Erdogan’s Janissaries, thousands of “Free Syrian Army” jihadis, and 300 US “advisors” are moving to consolidate control over a large swathe of Syrian territory along the Turkish-Syrian border. The government of Bashar al-Assad immediately denounced the move as a “blatant violation” of Syria’s sovereignty.

Syria’s four-sided civil war just got more complicated – and much more dangerous.

The invasion commenced hours before the arrival of Vice President Joe Biden in Turkey, where he is on a mission to appease the cantankerous Turks. As an official traveling with Biden put it:

“The major goal of the trip is to make sure that our alliance remains rock-solid and that relations get back on track. We can’t afford any friction in our relationship right now, because we have a lot of business to do with the Turks.”

The “business” Biden has to take care of involves stabbing the Kurds in the back, reiterating US support for radical Islamist “rebels,” and furthering the US plan to overthrow Assad using the ambitious Erdogan as the spearhead.

Up until this point, the Kurdish YPG has been the recipient of US aid, with our “advisors” embedded in their ranks: enjoying US air support, they have managed to carve out a safe space which they call “Rojava,” protected from the depredations of both ISIS and the Turks. This sudden turn in US policy, however, means that their usefulness has perhaps come to an end – and that the Americans, having used them as cannon fodder, are now ready to dump them. As that official traveling with Biden told the Associated Press:

“In addition to helping the Turks in the Jarabulus offensive, he said, ‘we’re living up to our assurances to the Turks that the Kurds are not going to move north. . . . We’ve made it clear to [the YPG] that we won’t support them going north and, by the way, they can’t move without us providing air support.’”

The poor Kurds never learn their lesson: allying themselves with one or the other regional actor in a bid to gain some measure of independence, they have been continually betrayed just when they’re on the brink of achieving their goal. This most recent treachery, however, is the cruelest blow. For what it portends is the virtual annexation of a big chunk of Syrian territory and the extension of Turkish power into the heart of Syria. While the government in Damascus has, until recently, been relatively lax in enforcing its claims over the Kurdish Syrian enclave, even continuing to provide government services in areas it no longer really controls, the Turks are viscerally hostile to the idea of even limited Kurdish autonomy. Indeed, Ankara has waged a twenty year war against Kurdish “terrorists,” a conflict that is likely to be reignited in the very near future – and Joe Biden has made it very clear which side Washington will take. The Washington Post reports:

“Kurdish-led forces in Syria have partially withdrawn to the east of the Euphrates River, American and Turkish officials said Thursday, after Vice President Biden publicly threatened to pull U.S. support if the fighters remained in areas where Turkey says they pose a threat to its national security.”

With both the US and Russia backing different factions, the prospect of a direct conflict has been looming over the sands of Syria  — and there have been several near misses. US “advisors” have also come into contact with Syrian government forces, most recently last week when US planes scrambled to intercept Syrian warplanes as they bombed YPG positions near the northeastern city of Hasakah.

ISIS is just a pretext: the real goal of the US and Turkey is regime change in Damascus. The US-Turkish offensive now being launched is a portent of a frightening future. How long before US-Turkish forces are engaged in a pitched battle with the Russians and the Syrian military over Syrian skies?

The irony is that, under the rubric of fighting the ISIS “Caliphate,” the US is actively aiding the creation of a far more dangerous Turkish Caliphate. As Sultan Erdogan Islamicizes the remnants of once-secular Turkey, jailing tens of thousands and gets closer to imposing Sharia law, this NATO member is seeking to create a “Greater Turkey” – a goal supported by Turkish secularists as well as the Erdoganites.

Why is the US getting behind Erdogan’s expansionist program?

Two reasons:

1) This is consistent with the Obama-Hillary policy of playing the “Sunni card.” Supporting Islamist rebels in Libya and Syria, backing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and aiding and abetting the Saudis and the Gulf states in the invasion of Yemen and the anti-Shia crackdown in Bahrein, is all part of their “strategy” to “fight terrorism” by ….  co-opting it. It’s the same strategy the Bush regime employed in Iraq, putting Sunni tribal fighters on the CIA payroll to fight al-Qaeda during the “surge.”

2) Syria is another front in NATO’s war on Russia. Instead of confronting the Russian military in Crimea, the NATO-crats are choosing to make Syria the battlefield, where Russian troops will have trouble making an appearance.

With American “liberals” making a big push for direct US military intervention against Assad, and Hillary Clinton raring to be their instrument, the prospect of a US-Russian face off isn’t just speculation. Indeed, it is already happening.

That’s why it’s more important than ever for our readers to support Antiwar.com. We have reached a crucial crossroads: a new cold war with Russia is now the central platform plank of the Democratic party, and the war cries of the Washington Establishment fill the air. We’ve been warning you in this space that an all-out assault on the Russians is fast taking the place of the “war on terrorism” – and now that Washington is allying itself with those terrorists against the Russian “threat,” our prophecy is being fulfilled.

This is the most dangerous development since 9/11. Russia, need I remind you, is a nuclear power. A repeat of the Cuban missile crisis is in the cards – except it may turn out quite differently, and not for the better.

Syria is a potential flashpoint for World War III – and that’s why it’s vitally important for you to support Antiwar.com at this pivotal moment. We can mobilize the American people against this madness – but we can’t do it without your help.

It’s more important than ever: please help us bring this fundraising drive to a successful conclusion. Make your tax-deductible donation to Antiwar.com right now.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.

I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

Read more by Justin Raimondo