Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Today's Links

1---Turkey, US, Syrian ISIS-Free Safe Zone: Turkmen Brigades Move Into Syria, Al-Nusra Moves Out, Soldiers Say (Safe zone is already being imposed)

Turkish officials acknowledged the beginning of the military operation when Foreign Ministry undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu said Tuesday that the U.S. and Turkey had finalized details on the safe zone. Members of the Islamic State group and Kurdish militants who try to infiltrate the safe-zone will immediately be "neutralized by both Turkish and US military forces," the statement said.
Although Turkmen fighters have been seen entering Syria to establish the safe zone, no U.S. forces have taken part in the mission so far. About six U.S. F-16 fighter jets arrived Sunday at the Incirlik air base in eastern Turkey, but had not yet been deployed in airstrikes.
"At first everyone thought the tanks were filled with Turkish soldiers, but it was the Turkmen," one of the rebel fighters said.
The soldiers, interviewed Tuesday by IBTimes, were trained in Turkey and are in one of the biggest moderate-opposition rebel coalitions in the country. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are in combat. Shifting alliances among rebel groups in the country have left them fearing retribution if they identified themselves on the record. One of the soldiers, a commander, recently attended talks with the Turkish government in the capital city of Ankara regarding the Turkish-U.S. plan to create a safe zone in the northern part of the country. ...

Until now, it has been unclear which Syrian rebel factions would participate on the monitoring team, but both sources interviewed said the Turkmen force, which consists of some soldiers from previously established rebel groups in nearby Aleppo, would lead the fight. Other rebel groups would follow, they said.
Rebel groups in the northern part of Syria are interested in joining the team monitoring the safe zone because they see it as a chance to garner valuable cash and weapons...

Fight For Land, Power
While many rebel leaders used to fall under one umbrella group, the Free Syrian Army, they recently separated into two groups and were duking it out for land and power. Among them are the hard-line Islamist fighters with known battlefield strength, but with an extremist Muslim ideology, as well as the more moderate groups known for their popularity among the people of Aleppo, who, while still devoutly Muslim, do not want the implementation of Shariah law, or conservative Islamic regulations, in the post-war era.
Finding a rebel force with a common ideology and strategy to carry out the monitoring of the buffer zone will be difficult, rebels in Aleppo recently told IBTimes. The weapons, they said, will end up falling into the hands of groups that have different ideologies and goals

2--(archive) Ash Carter Sails Through Senate Armed Services Committee

I reject the notion that Russia should be afforded a ‘sphere of influence,’” Carter said. “If confirmed, I will continue to encourage U.S. partners, such as Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine, to build their security capacity and military interoperability with NATO

3--Russia plane downing planned provocation: Lavrov

“We have serious doubts that this act was unintentional. It looks very much like a pre-planned provocation,” Lavrov told a press conference in the Russian capital, Moscow, on Wednesday.
He said it is “no secret” that terrorist groups are using the Turkish territory in their operations against the government of Syria.

4--Turkish jets gave us no warning before shooting’ – rescued pilot of downed Russian Su-24

5--U.S. SecDef Ashton Carter Implies Russia & China Are Enemies of U.S.

Russia appears intent to play spoiler by flouting these principles and the international community. Meanwhile, China is a rising power, and growing more ambitious in its objectives and capabilities. Of course, neither Russia nor China can overturn that order, given its resilience and staying power. But both present different challenges for it.

6--The 39-year-old airman, who won the Top Navigator award at Russia’s biggest military flying competition last year, says he will ask to return to front-line service as soon as he is declared fit.
I must ‘pay back’ the debt for my captain,” said Murakhtin.
The navigator of the Russian Su-24 shot down by a Turkish fighter jet on Tuesday insists that his plane did not cross into Turkey’s airspace, and says he was given no visual or radio warning before being fired at.
It’s impossible that we violated their airspace even for a second,” Konstantin Murakhtin told RT and other Russian media. “We were flying at an altitude of 6,000 meters in completely clear weather, and I had total control of our flight path throughout.”
In actual fact, there were no warnings at all. Neither through the radio, nor visually, so we did not at any point adjust our course. You need to understand the difference in speed between a tactical bomber like a Su-24, and that of the F16. If they wanted to warn us, they could have sat on our wing,” said Murakhtin, who is currently recuperating at Russia’s airbase in Latakia, northern Syria.
As it was, the missile hit the back of our plane out of nowhere. We didn’t even have time to make an evasive maneuver

7--Cartalucci:  Russia Continues Toward the Finish Line 

In recent weeks with Russian air support, Syrian troops have retaken large swaths of territory from ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other terrorist fighters. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has even begun approaching the Euphrates River east of Aleppo, which would effectively cut off ISIS from its supply lines leading out of Turkish territory.
From there, Syrian troops would move north, into the very “safe zone” the US and its Turkish partners have long-sought but have so far failed to establish within Syria’s borders. This “safe zone” includes a region of northern Syrian stretching from Jarabulus near the west bank of the Euphrates to Afrin and Ad Dana approximately 90-100 kilometers west.

Once Syrian troops retake this territory, the prospect of the West ever making an incursion into Syria, holding territory, or compromising Syria’s territorial integrity would be lost forever. Western ambitions toward regime change in Damascus would be indefinitely suspended.
The endgame is at hand, and only the most desperate measures can hope to prevent Russia and Syria from finally securing Syria’s borders. Turkey’s provocation is just such a measure...

Until then, Russia’s best bet is to simply continue winning the war. Taking the Jarabulus-Afrin corridor and fortifying it against NATO incursions while cutting off ISIS and other terrorist factions deeper within Syria would be perhaps the worst of all possible retaliations. With Syria secured, an alternative arc of influence will exist within the Middle East, one that will inevitably work against Saudi and other Persian Gulf regimes’ efforts in Yemen, and in a wider sense, begin the irreversible eviction of Western hegemony from the region.

On April 12, just four days later, the US ship inexplicably left the area of the Crimean waters of the Black Sea for a port in NATO-member Romania. From there it left the Black Sea entirely. A report on April 30, 2014 in Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta Online titled, “What Frightened the American Destroyer,” stated that while the USS Donald Cook was near Crimean (Russian by that time) waters, a Russian Su-24 Frontal Aviation bomber conducted a flyby of the destroyer.
The Rossiyskaya Gazeta went on to write that the Russian SU-24 “did not have bombs or missiles onboard. One canister with the Khibin electronic warfare complex was suspended under the fuselage.” As it got close to the US destroyer, the Khibins turned off the USS Donald Cook’s “radar, combat control circuits, and data transmission system – in short, they turned off the entire Aegis just like we turn off a television by pressing the button on the control panel. After this, the Su-24 simulated a missile launch at the blind and deaf ship. Later, it happened once again, and again – a total of 12 times.”
While the US Army denied the incident as Russian propaganda, the fact is that USS Donald Cook never approached Russian Black Sea waters again. Nor did NATO ships that replaced it in the Black Sea. ...

A second highly-advanced new Russian military technology that’s raising more than eyebrows in US Defense Secretary ‘Ash’ Carter’s Pentagon is Russia’s new Bumblebee which Russia’s military classifies as a flamethrower. In reality it is a highly advanced thermobaric weapon which launches a warhead that uses a combination of an explosive charge and highly combustible fuel. When the rocket reaches the target, the fuel is dispersed in a cloud that is then detonated by the explosive charge. US Military experts recently asked by the US scientific and engineering magazine Popular Mechanics to evaluate the Bumblebee stated that, “the resulting explosion is devastating, radiating a shockwave and fireball up to six or seven meters in diameter.” The US experts noted that the Bumblebee is “especially useful against troops in bunkers, trenches, and even armored vehicles, as the dispersing gas can enter small spaces and allow the fireball to expand inside. Thermobarics are particularly devastating to buildings — a thermobaric round entering a structure can literally blow up the building from within withoverpressure.”...

We don’t go into yet another new highly secret Russian military technology recently subject of a Russian TV report beyond a brief mention, as little is known. It is indicative of what is being developed as Russia prepares for the unthinkable from Washington. The “Ocean Multipurpose System: Status-6” is a new Russian nuclear submarine weapons system designed to bypass NATO radars and any existing missile defense systems, while causing heavy damage to “important economic facilities” along the enemy’s coastal regions.

Reportedly the Status-6 will cause what the Russian military terms, “assured unacceptable damage” to an adversary force. They state that its detonation “in the area of the enemy coast” (say, New York or Boston or Washington?) would result in “extensive zones of radioactive contamination” that would ensure that the region would not be used for “military, economic, business or other activity for a long time.” Status-6 reportedly is a massive torpedo, designated as a “self-propelled underwater vehicle.” It has a range of up to 10 thousand kilometers and can operate at a depth of up to 1,000 meters. At a November 10 meeting with the Russian military chiefs, Vladimir Putin stated that Russia would counter NATO’s US-led missile shield program through “new strike systems capable of penetrating any missile defenses.” Presumably he was referring to Status-6.
US Defense Secretary Carter declared on November 8 in a speech that Russia and China are challenging “American pre-eminence” and Washington’s so-called “stewardship of the world order.” Carter added that, “Most disturbing is Moscow’s nuclear saber-rattling,” which in his view, “raises questions about Russian leaders’ commitment to strategic stability, their respect for norms against the use of nuclear weapons…”

9---Sultan Erdogan's War on...Russia

The Su-24s were actually after Chechens and Uzbeks — plus a few Uyghurs — smuggled in with fake Turkish passports (Chinese intel is also on it), all of these operating in tandem with a nasty bunch of Turkish Islamo-fascists. Most of these goons transit back and forth between the CIA-weaponized Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Jabhat al-Nusra. These were the goons who machine-gunned the Russian pilots as they parachuted down after the hit on the Su-24....

Turkey, for all practical purposes, has been a handy, sprawling Salafi-jihadi Infrastructure and Logistics Center; it offers everything from porous borders enabling countless jihadi return tickets from Syria to Europe, facilitated by corrupt police, to a convenient crossroads for all kinds of smuggling and a hefty money laundering ops.

So Ankara, with a missile, thought it might completely change the narrative.
Hardly. Just follow the money. Even in the US and Europe the Turkish game is becoming increasingly transparent. A research paper at Columbia University details at least a fraction of the multiple instances of collusion between Turkey and ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.
Bilal Erdogan, the Sultan's son, is a major profiteer of illegal trading of stolen Iraqi and Syrian oil. Imagine his terror after Putin revealed to G-20 leaders in Antalya — Turkish territory! — how Russian intel has identified most of the mobster maze of connections pointing directly to ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.

10--It was an ambush "Must read" summary of recent events in syria

All this provides that yesterday's incident in which Turkey shot down a Russian jet was not a case of an ordinary airspace violation but a deliberate act to take down a Russian plane. The surviving co-pilot of the Russian jet insists that it neither flew through Turkish airspace nor was warned of an imminent attack. As I wrote yesterday:
This then was not legitimate air-defense but an ambush.....

The attack on the Russian plane was preconceived on November 22 when a security summit was held with the Turkish government under Prime Minister Davutoğlu and the Turkish Armed Forces. Davutoğlu personally gave the order to shoot down Russian planes. This, Turkey says, was necessary to stop Russian bombing of "Turkmen" in north Syria's Latakia near the Turkish border.
Many of the "Syrian Turkmen" fighting against the Syrian people are from Central Asia and part of the terrorist groups of Jabhat al-Nusra, Ansar Al Shams, Jabhat Ansar Ad Din and Ahrar al Shams. Uighurs smuggled in from China and fighting under the "Turkistan Islamist Party" label even advertise their ‘little jihadists’ children training camps in the area. The few real Syrian Turkmen work, as even the BBC admits, together with al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Their leader and spokesman, one Alparslan Celik, is a Turkish citizen from Elazığ.
The Turkish claim of defending "Turkmen" in Syria is a sham. It is defending mostly foreign Islamist terrorists.
Whoever planned the ambush on the Russian jet miscalculated the reaction. NATO will not come to Turkey's help over this or the next such incident. NATO countries know that the Russian plane was hit within Syria. Russia will not be scared into drawing back. Instead it massively increased the bombing of targets in that area:
At least 12 air strikes hit Latakia's northern countryside as pro-government forces clashed with fighters from al Qaeda's Nusra Front and Turkmen insurgents in the Jabal Akrad and Jabal Turkman areas, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. A Turkmen commander said missiles fired from Russian warships in the Mediterranean were also hitting the area, as well as heavy artillery shelling.
Russian jets also bombed insurgency supply trucks (video) in al-Qaeda controlled Azaz, north of Aleppo and just some 2 kilometers from the Turkish border. That is another big FU to Erdogan....

But there is also a bigger game going on and it is likely that Erdogan has a new contract and Obama's backing for this escalation. James Winnefeld, the deputy chief of General Staff of the U.S. military, was in Ankara when the incident happened. The cooperation between U.S. and Turkish military and especially the air forces is quite tight. It is hard to believe that there was no communication about what was prepared to happen....

The Obama administration is also preparing to install the Turkish dream of a "safe zone" between Aleppo and the Turkish border north of it.
Among several coalition priorities in Syria, the United States has begun a series of airstrikes in an area known as the “Mar’a line,” named for a town north of Aleppo in the northwest. There, a 60-mile stretch to the Euphrates River in the east is the only remaining part of the Syria-Turkey border under Islamic State control. The administration had delayed beginning operations in the area because U.S. aircraft were needed in operations farther east, and it has been uncertain that local opposition forces­ would be able to hold the territory if it could be cleared with airstrikes...

Obama, in my conclusion, still wants to drag NATO into Syria and wants to assemble enough forces "against ISIS" to be able to overwhelm the Syrian government and its Russian protectors. If that does not work he at least hopes to give Russia the Afghanistan like "quagmire" in Syria he and other U.S. officials promised. The again increasing tensions with U.S. proxy Ukraine only help in that regard.
But there is even more to that plan. Just by chance (not) the NYT op-ed pages launch a trial balloon today for the creation of a Sunni state in east Syria and west Iraq. But that (Islamic) State is already there and the "containment" strategy Obama practices towards it guarantees that it will fester.

11--Abdullah Bozkurt@abdbozkurt 6 hours ago
PM says he gave orders personally to Gen. chief of staff about shooting down intruding jets from
journalist Todays zaman

12--Mr. Obama complained that Russian airstrikes against moderate opposition groups in Syria were bolstering the Assad government instead of trying to destroy the Islamic State....
Turkey has the right to defend its territory, Mr. Obama said, but he urged both sides to talk to make sure they figure out what happened and “discourage any kind of escalation.”...

Washington is not interested in getting deeper into Syria with ground troops or having a conflict with Russia. So cautious are the NATO countries about Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, which calls for mutual self-defense, that when Mr. Hollande declared “war” on the Islamic State after the Paris attacks, he invoked the European Union’s toothless Lisbon Treaty and sidestepped NATO. Mr. Hollande was also, French officials have said, eager not to offend Mr. Putin by making Syria a NATO issue.

12--John Bolton: To Defeat ISIS, Create a Sunni State

(US boots on the ground needed for Sunni stan and Syrian surge)

Creating an American-led anti-Islamic State alliance instead of Moscow’s proposed coalition will require considerable diplomatic and political effort. American ground combat forces will have to be deployed to provide cohesion and leadership. But this would be necessary to defeat the Islamic State even if the objective were simply to recreate the status quo ante.

The Anbar Awakening and the American military’s 2007 “surge” provide the model, as do Kurdish successes against the Islamic State. Local fighters armed, trained and advised by the United States would combine with Arab and American conventional forces.

This Sunni state proposal differs sharply from the vision of the Russian-Iranian axis and its proxies (Hezbollah, Mr. Assad and Tehran-backed Baghdad). Their aim of restoring Iraqi and Syrian governments to their former borders is a goal fundamentally contrary to American, Israeli and friendly Arab state interests. Notions, therefore, of an American-Russian coalition against the Islamic State are as undesirable as they are glib....

Today’s reality is that Iraq and Syria as we have known them are gone. The Islamic State has carved out a new entity from the post-Ottoman Empire settlement, mobilizing Sunni opposition to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and the Iran-dominated government of Iraq. Also emerging, after years of effort, is a de facto independent Kurdistan.

13---Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet and the danger of world war

Obama then bluntly warned Russia not to attack Islamist opposition militias in western Syria that are supported by NATO: “I do think that this points to an ongoing problem with the Russian operations in the sense that they are operating very close to a Turkish border, and they are going after a moderate opposition that are supported by not only Turkey but a wide range of countries. And if Russia is directing its energies towards Daesh and ISIL, some of those conflicts, or potentials for mistakes or escalation, are less likely to occur.”

After Obama spoke, former US Ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns again made clear that the Turkish government had acted as a proxy for Washington by shooting down the Russian plane. He told PBS News that US officials were considering declaring a no-fly-zone in the Syrian-Turkish border area. This would mean shooting down Russian fighters overflying the area in order to protect the Islamist opposition forces—that is, doing precisely what Turkey did.

3. The comments of Obama and Burns underscore the fraud of Washington’s claims to be waging a “war on terror” aimed at the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militia. While claiming to oppose Islamist terrorism, Washington is in fact protecting Islamist militias in the Lattakia mountain areas that include the Al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra Front, as well as Chechen Islamist fighters. On the pretext of fighting ISIS, Washington is in fact recklessly pursuing its geopolitical ambitions, which in the Middle East currently center on removing Assad from power.

14--Time for Russian ground troops?

The key question is whether this unjustified attack on the RuAF plane operating in Syrian airspace will be the incident that causes Russia to provide additional support to its air operations in support of Syrian sovereign rights of self defense in the form of introduction of ground forces. Such ground forces could now justifiably be deployed directly along the Syrian-Turkish border, at a minimum against the Turkmen Brigade which just butchered two RuAF servicemen, but perhaps more expansively along larger swaths of the open border and thereby help close off not only the NATO-ISIS arms supply lines (the reporting of which cost Serena Shim her life) but also the Erdogan family’s illicit enterprise of shipping and selling ISIS oil supplies in western oil markets.

15--James Winnefeld, the deputy chief of General Staff of the American military meets erdogan on day Russian warplane shot down

On a day the president and his protégé prime minister were discussing a new cabinet list and Ankara was hosting James Winnefeld, the deputy chief of General Staff of the American military, and preparing to host Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, news broke out that Turkey had downed a Russian jet fighter that it said violated its airspace.

16--Russia is our friend says Turkish PM

“Russia is our friend and neighbor. Our bilateral communication channels are open. But our security, as for every friendly country, should be based on the principle of respect under international law. It’s normal to protect our national airspace,” Davutoğlu said, addressing party members in parliament.


Erdoğan tacitly acknowledges claim MİT transported arms to Syria
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday seemingly validated claims previously made by critics who alleged that the Turkish government was sending weapon-filled trucks to radical groups in Syria by sarcastically asking, “So what if the MİT [National Intelligence Organization] trucks were filled with weapons?”

Speaking at an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting in İstanbul, Erdoğan said on Wednesday that Turkey favors “peace, dialogue and diplomacy.” The president said the Russian jet was fired upon while in Turkish airspace but crashed inside Syria, although he said parts of it landed in Turkey and injured two Turkish citizens.
"We have no intention of escalating this incident. We are only defending our own security and the rights of our brothers," Erdoğan said, adding Turkey's policy in Syria would not change. "We will continue our humanitarian efforts on both sides of the [Syrian] border. We are determined to take all necessary measures to prevent a new wave of migration," he added
Putin on Wednesday accused Turkey's political leaders of encouraging the “Islamization of Turkish society,” something he described as a deeper problem than the downing of the jet..
Davutoğlu also tried to reduce tensions with Moscow, saying on Wednesday that Russia is Turkey's friend and neighbor and he insisted that relations cannot be “sacrificed over accidents of communication.” Davutoğlu told his party's lawmakers on Wednesday Turkey did not know the nationality of the plane that was brought down on Tuesday until Moscow announced that it was Russian.

18---What does Ankara want in Syria?---Must Read" Turkey's changing dynamic

There seem to be two main elements that have shaped the current position: A future of Syria without President Bashar al-Assad and the prevention of a “Kurdish belt” along the Turkish-Syrian border, which until recently included helping al-Nusra which, Ankara hoped, would be instrumental in establishing a “Sunni-based opposition buffer zone” -- a base to bring down the regime in Damascus

The reality today is clashing severely with this position.

Furthermore, the recent downing incident added to the problems developing in the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government's relations with Russia, which seen from today's perspective are far broader than only the severe differences on Syria. There are earlier moves by Moscow, such as the Georgian crisis and the annexation of Crimea. Ankara's increased dependency on Russian energy, with the addition of awarding the contract for Turkey's nuclear plant to Moscow, and its hallucination that existed until recently of becoming a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) display a series of erratic decisions on the part of Turkey.

As a result, Turkey -- which seems to have wasted opportunities to become a key player in deconflicting the Syrian theater -- is emerging as the most swiftly weakening player in the current multi-dimensional chess game....

 I would argue that the downing of the plane should push Ankara and Moscow to brush aside their sharp differences and do the same.

19---NATO will never want to engage in war against Syria over Turkmens. ...
The Western powers are not against a Kurdish autonomous region in Syria anyway. So the AKP is alone in this fight. From now on, what the Russians will do is stay away from Turkish air space, which will probably make the AKP leaders heroes at home, thanks to their media, but Russia will never allow Turkey to help the Syrian opposition or the Turkmens. What a misery for the Syrian opposition, the Turkmens and the AKP! The AKP is now allowed by both NATO and Russia to wage war against ISIL. Again, what a misery for the AKP!

Turkey has become a sort of satellite state of Russia from the energy perspective. Turkish industry and Turkish households now rely on natural gas, and Turkey gets this from Russia and Iran. The genius AKP increased Turkey's heavy reliance on Russia for energy by giving nuclear plant tenders to the Russians. What strategic depth!

20--arm the kurds

The main reason is that Russia cannot afford to stop selling natural gas to Turkey, its second largest customer, particularly at a time when low energy prices are putting pressure on the future of the Russian economy. The fact that Gazprom declared there will be no interruption in the flow of natural gas only hours after the downing of the Russian jet was very telling. However, the limits of compartmentalization will also be tested in areas such as energy infrastructure cooperation, construction tenders, tourism and financial interaction. Even in these areas, the impact of this latest crisis may prove short-lived.

21--Face the Bear

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other prominent members of the top echelons of the Russian state mechanism sent harsh messages to Turkey, making clear that Turkish-Russian relations would be severely affected. Putin used the term “stab in the back” and accused Turkey of being an accomplice of the terrorists, referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). He even hinted Russia has documents substantiating the involvement of some Turkish officials in oil trade with ISIL.

Medvedev said the Russian government will consider scrapping some important projects they are undertaking or planning to undertake in Turkey. The Akkuyu nuclear energy power plant and the Turkish Stream projects are the first to come to mind. Medvedev said Turkish companies doing business with or operating in Russia will lose ground and may face barriers. Poultry imports from Turkey may end by January of next year. Lavrov warned Russian citizens to cancel their trips to Turkey, promising a hard hit to Turkey's tourism business. Some even suggested cutting natural gas sales to Turkey, but I don't think this may be put into action since it would have equally high costs for the Russians, too

22--"Must, must, must read"  Erdoğan picks up a new contract from the West...

The protective sort of rhetoric we're hearing from Obama with regard to these groups shows us that Turkey was not the main planner of this latest operation....

What's more, the near perfection of the messages given by Ankara to the global public the moment Turkey brought down the Russian jet show us that this was no last-minute operation, and that the scenario as a whole had been well thought out. Think about this: The plane goes down and immediately Ankara is able to show the entire world the maps showing the route flown by the plane. Then we hear the audio tapes of the Turkish pilots warning the Russian planes; the voices are so clear and audible, it's as though they had been taped in a studio beforehand. After this, we hear statements from Western pilots and soldiers -- in this case, American and Dutch -- noting that they, too, had clearly heard the Turkish pilots warning the Russian plane.

Let us first make this clear: The decision to down the Russian plane was not one Turkey made alone. If it were, the reactions from various Western capitals would be different than what we are hearing now. It's clear now that Turkey -- more specifically, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan -- has picked up a new contract with the West, and that the downing of the Russian jet is just the first stage of this contract.

So what makes this all so clear now? A few essential signals. The first is the process of preparing domestic public opinion, which we have witnessed in recent days. The second is the statement made by US President Barack Obama after the plane came down. The third is the public statements we now hear coming from high-level offices in Turkey.

Let's start with the first signal, though. A project -- one which always seems to work with the Turkish public -- was implemented by Ankara in the weeks preceding the plane incident. A loud media fuss was made over the “massacres being carried out against the Turkmens” in Syria. For those familiar with Turkish state traditions, it was definitely not a fuss to be ignored. In Turkey, whenever there is a stir made over Turks or Turkmens being harmed (or being in harm's way) abroad, it always means that a military operation is soon to come. This is actually a strategy that's been in place since the 1950s, when the whole campaign aimed at raising awareness of Cyprus started. Likewise, we've seen the Turkmen population of northern Iraq used the same way that the Turkmens of Syria have now been used. And recalling the Sept. 6-7, 1955 pogrom, it was the same thing, with the Turkish population in Thessaloniki being used. In nearly all of these situations, there have been deep state operations.

In fact, I began to get suspicious about all the news being broadcast regarding massacres against Turkmens in Syria some time ago, which is why I wrote this on my Twitter account back on Nov. 20:
“When there is TURKMEN DRAMA news in Turkey, it means society is being prepared for something. They're going to put our military into Syria, which is why all the news about Turkmen Mountain is quite suspicious.”

Just four days after this tweet of mine, the Russian plane was brought down. It's clear now that Turks were being prepared for something like this. Which means, in this case, the bringing down of the Russian plane was not an act committed in the heat of the moment, but a planned operation.
But does this mean it's an operation Turkey carried out alone, or with the backing of a network of Western countries?

We see answers to this question in the statement made by Obama in the wake of the incident. While Obama warned both sides “not to increase the tension,” he only directly blamed Russia. He said that Russia claims to be bombing ISIL, but it is in fact bombing the opposition along the borders. The second half of this statement is crucial, as it marks the first time we've heard Obama mention Turkmen Mountain, in the north of Syria, and use protective language in talking about the groups there, while simultaneously blaming the Russians. But who are these groups that Obama is pushing to protect?

Well, there's al-Nusra, as well as Ahrar al-Sham and the Fatih brigades. Most of these are groups linked one way or another with al-Qaeda. The protective sort of rhetoric we're hearing from Obama with regard to these groups shows us that Turkey was not the main planner of this latest operation.
What's more, the near perfection of the messages given by Ankara to the global public the moment Turkey brought down the Russian jet show us that this was no last-minute operation, and that the scenario as a whole had been well thought out. Think about this: The plane goes down and immediately Ankara is able to show the entire world the maps showing the route flown by the plane. Then we hear the audio tapes of the Turkish pilots warning the Russian planes; the voices are so clear and audible, it's as though they had been taped in a studio beforehand. After this, we hear statements from Western pilots and soldiers -- in this case, American and Dutch -- noting that they, too, had clearly heard the Turkish pilots warning the Russian plane.

Clearly, it's all a well-rehearsed scenario. We've seen the downing of a Syrian helicopter and a plane in the past, not that long ago, but there was nothing like the map distribution and preparation of public opinion in advance we saw this time around.

 For those who know the normal speed of Turkish bureaucracy, it's obvious that unless this scenario was prepared in advance, there's no way the statements we've already heard -- and the reactions we've already seen -- would have come in such a timely fashion.
So, in the end, all this data points to just one possible conclusion, as I mentioned at the start: Erdoğan has picked up a new contract. Let's hope he's able to carry it through successfully.


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