Who will stop Erdogan? Update

November 25, 2015

The second pilot from the Russian SU-24 jet is alive and has been rescued by Russian forces in an overnight special operation. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu: “The operation was successful. The pilot is already at our base. He is alive and well. I want to thank all our guys, who worked at great risk throughout the night.”

President Vladimir Putin has ordered the surviving pilot and his rescuers to be decorated for bravery. Putin: “He has been rescued, I understand he us already back at the base, at the aerodrome. He and all those who participated in this operation, including the rescue mission, will receive state awards. The defense ministry proposed this.”

The airplane’s other pilot, who died as he was fired at from the ground, will posthumously be given Russia’s highest award for valor, the Hero of Russia medal.

Mi8 helicopter

General staff spokesman, Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi, told that Turkmen rebels in Syria fired on a Russian helicopter that was searching for the two pilots of the SU-24.

The shooting killed one crew member on the Mi-8 helicopter and forced it to land in neutral territory.

The rest of the crew was evacuated. Rudskoi also said that Russian radar data showed that Turkish warplanes had violated Syrian airspace in the course of shooting down the Russian plane.

map SU-24 shotdown

In Syria the Turkmen, who are linguistically and ethnically Turkish, live alongside Arabs and Kurds and have mostly stayed neutral. They historically objected to the Arab nationalism of the Syrian Baath party, which stressed assimilation to the Arab language and culture. In turn, the Syrian government has often regarded them as a fifth column working for Ankara.

Around a dozen Turkmen militias were created, trained, and equipped by Turkey. It is one of these, Alwiya al-Ashar, who’s members have killed the Russian pilot. They have been fighting alongside other rebel groups, including the al-Qaeda affiliates Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, in the north of Latakia province.

Alwiya al-Ashar is linked to a Turkish and CIA-backed logistics supply program that funnels a near-constant stream of small arms, ammunition, and cash for salaries to rebel groups across northern Syria.

Many of the Turkmen brigade fighters are from Central Asia or Uighurs from China and the few real Syrian Turkmen are hardline Islamists, who cooperate with Jabhat al-Nusra, Ansar Al Shams, Jabhat Ansar Ad Din, and Ahrar al-Sham. Turkmen leader and spokesman Alparslan Celik is a Turkish citizen from Elazıg and a member of Erdogan’s AKP (Justice and Development Party). It seems that the Turkmen battalions have been reinforced by AKP youth volunteers.

In recent days 1,700 civilians have fled over the border, because of an escalation of fighting between rebels and government troops in the area. Another 4,000 arrived at a refugee camp at Arfali, on the Syrian side of the border.

Turkmen Sultan Brigade

After the downing of its jet, Russia is sending the most hi-tech air defense system to Latakian air base in Syria to help bolster deterrence and protection of the Syrian air space, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu: “The S-400 anti-aircraft missile system will be deployed to the Hmeimim airbase.”

The S-400 first came into service in 2007. It is the next generation of the S-300, a particularly effective air defense missile system that Russia intends to sell to Iran and India.

With a maximum range of 400 kilometers, the two announced S-400 systems based at Latakias Hmeimim airbase would easily cover the area where Turkish jets shot down the SU-24, and would even threaten Turkish aircraft on the other side of the border.

S-400.Triumf anti-aircraft

NATO held an emergency meeting, but a NATO spokesman stressed that the meeting did not fall under Article 4, in which a member country discusses a threat to territorial integrity, political independence or security, and was purely for information.

NATO support for Turkey is not secured and even staunchly anti Russian members in Eastern Europe like Poland or the Baltic states are not likely to join a war for Turkey. They know that Erdogan caused the refugee crisis and that he supports IS.

There was certainly nothing accidental or unforeseen about the Turkish attack. The Turks fully intended to destroy a Russian aircraft and were waiting for an opportunity. Putin should have seen it coming because Turks throughout their history never acted differently, never acted in good faith, always used ambushes and deceit. Putin failed to learn the lesson from history, so he had to learn it now.

Judging from the remarks of Western leader, it seems that Turkey and the USA want to force Russia to back away from bombing Islamic rebel positions near the Turkish border, acquiescing to a de facto no-fly zone.

It has not worked because Russia increased its air support for Syrian troops in Latakia’s northern countryside and also bombed rebel supply trucks in Azaz, an town north of Aleppo and just 2 kilometers away from the Turkish border. Azaz is on the western edge of Erdogan’s envisioned “safe zone.”

The USA and Turkey have conducted a series of airstrikes along the “Marea line.” Marea is 25 kilometers north from Aleppo, the distance to Azaz is only 20 kilometers. Azaz, Marea, Jarabulus, al-Bab, Manbij are all located inside Erdogan’s “safe zone” and al parties scramble to conquer this area because it is the most important supply corridor for the Islamic rebels.

IS flag smoke

The Syrian War is growing past the stage of a proxy war and is now heading towards a conventional confrontation between military powers. Few of the current world leaders have relevant experience during their lifetimes of either waging such wars, or of avoiding them.

There are five nuclear countries flying sorties over Syria; Russia, USA, Israel, France, Britain. World War III has maybe already started, but is not yet officially acknowledged. If the world leaders are not able to imagine the ignition of hydrogen bombs over their heads, the war will inevitably escalate with no one trying to dampen it down.

One possible development is that Russia will in future act much harder and uncompromising in Syria than it would seem “rational.” For Russia the question is whether or not it can sustain an alliance. For Russia the Syrian conflict is not just about Syria, it is about Belarus, Armenia, and other former Soviet republics.

It would be surprising if Putin will back off here and one wonders what the Turks will do when future  air strikes near the Turkish border are done with proper fighter escort? Will the Turks engage in a full-fledged air superiority battle at the Syrian frontier?

Also, will the Russians risk exposing valuable electronic countermeasure assets to enemy observation and assessment in anything less than a major war?

Realistic predictions, educated guesses, wishful thinking

I don’t want to fall into the trap and write: “Russia has to do this or avoid that.” Putin is not dependent on the advise of an unimportant humble blogger and he most likely has more insight and information than even the most enlightened and well connected commentators and analysts. But some possibilities nevertheless can be discussed and suggestions be made without appearing presumptuous and saucy.

This incident will not distract Russia from the prime mission, which is to safe Syria from destruction by Western proxy forces. But, the enablers and supporters of the proxy armies have to be hindered, weakened, neutralized, cordoned off. Erdogan, together with Netanyahu, is the most dangerous enemy of Syria, there has to be done something to stop this hazard.

Which means, that Putin finally needs to put the gloves off, otherwise Erdogan will make a fool out of him. A look into the CIA destabilization and assassination handbook is in order.

IS 11 2015 z

Russian media will inform the world public about Turkish support for terrorism. There is so much undeniable evidence that it is not difficult to make this case. Russia will publish a detailed documentation (The Terrorism Black Book) about Turkish support for terror organizations and distribute it globally. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has already began to address the issue when he said: “This [the downing of SU-24] is no surprise, considering the information we have about direct financial interest of some Turkish officials relating to the supply of oil products refined by plants controlled by IS.”

IS Oil tanker

The huge Russian tourist stream to Turkey will disappear, Russian companies will be banned to conduct business in Turkey, Turkish exports to Russia and transfer of goods to Central Asia will stop, gas supplies will be disrupted due to “technical reasons” and “pipeline maintenance,” and various financial and government institutions will find themselves under sustained cyber attacks.

What about Russian NGOs swarming out all over Europe and funding, advising, coordinating anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, anti-globalist grassroots movements? European resentments against Turkey are high (the siege of Vienna in 1529 and 1683 is still remembered), and Russia can forge an alliance with anti-EU and anti-immigration parties. These parties are constantly gaining popularity and have a rather positive view of Russia. Greek, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese left wing parties need support too.

Erdogan Obama

In Turkey maybe the Gulen movement can lend a helping hand. Remnants of secular Kemalism are possibly still in the army, waiting for a resurrection.

Religious bigotry, discrimination of minorities, misogyny, social inequality and injustice cause discontent and disloyalty in Turkish society, which can be exploited by outside players. The CIA has shown how to do it and has accumulated an impressive track record starting from the days of Allan Dulles (1953 Iranian coup, 1954 Guatemalan coup) till now.

Many Kurdish towns in southeastern Turkey have been devastated by fighting between Turkish special forces and the PKK (Silvan, Cizre, Nusaybin). The Turkish troops have fired indiscriminately into civilian areas, killing women and children. Curfews and blockades have paralyzed the towns and destroyed the economy.

The PKK and their affiliate YPG/YPJ need help. Arms, logistic support, high tech intelligence would be appreciated. Iran could make peace with PJAK and appease the Kurds with increased autonomy, freeing Iranian Kurdish fighters to join the Syrian and Turkish brothers and sisters in their struggle against Erdogan.

It doesn’t seem impossible that the Barzani clan, who rules Iraqi Kurdistan and is friendly to Turkey, can one day be replaced in a popular uprising. Violent protests in Sulaimaniyah and other cities, with at least four killed and dozens of KDP offices torched, open interesting opportunities. Public discontent is high because of endemic corruption, a collapsing economy, and the pitiful display of Masoud Barzani, his near family members, and allied cronies unconstitutionally clinging to power and unashamed further enriching themselves.

YPJ drills at Shilan Camp

Apart from such quiet operations Russia simply needs to wait till the chickens come home to roost.

The volatility in the worlds financial markets reminds of 2008. The 1.4 quadrillion US$ derivative time bomb is ticking. Sovereign gold reserves in the Manhattan (NY Fed) and London vaults are “over leveraged” (meaning stolen). China stock market turmoil, global bond market insecurity, commodity glut (oil, wheat, metals), everybody is rushing to make a killing before the house of cards finally crushes with nothing left than barter, scavenging, neighbors help, subsistence.

Don’t even talk about US deteriorating infrastructure, growing poverty (food stamps, homelessness, the (un)affordable care act), mind boggling amounts of private and public debt, increasing social tension (black lives (don’t) matter, mass shootings).

Russia’s economy will decline too and Russians will have to scale back and live more modest. But if Putin continues to dismantle the oligarchs fiefdoms and if he can overcome obstruction by the liberal faction under Sberbank CEO German (Herman) Gref, Russia will be stable while the Western consumer economies will descend into chaos.

This is the big game and compared with that the reckless and illegal shooting of the SU-24 is a minor annoyance. It is a tragedy for the killed pilot Lt. Col. Oleg Peshkov and a war crime because he was helpless and didn’t pose any threat. He and the killed member of the rescue helicopter crew will be remembered as heroes.


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