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On Friday, the United States rejected a draft resolution by Russia that was intended to prevent a Turkish invasion of Syria. Moscow had called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to address its growing concern that Turkey is planning to send thousands of ground troops and armored vehicles it has massed on its southern border, into Syria to protect Turkish-backed militants and to block the Kurdish militia, the YPG, from establishing a contiguous state in northern Syria. Moscow’s one-page resolution was a thoroughly-straightforward document aimed at preventing a massive escalation in a conflict that has already claimed the lives of 250, 000 and left the country in ruins.

According to Russia’s deputy U.N. envoy, Vladimir Safronkov, “The main elements of this Russian draft resolution are to demand that all parties refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Syria, that they fully respect Syria’s sovereignty and independence, stop incursions, and abandon plans for ground operations.”

The resolution also expressed Moscow’s “grave alarm at the reports of military buildup and preparatory activities aimed at launching foreign ground intervention into the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic.”

There was nothing controversial about the resolution, no tricks and no hidden meaning. The delegates were simply asked to support Syrian sovereignty and oppose armed aggression. These are the very principles upon which the United Nations was founded. The US and its allies rejected these principles because they failed to jibe with Washington’s geopolitical ambitions in Syria.

Quashing the resolution confirms in the clearest terms that Washington doesn’t want peace in Syria. Also, it suggests that the Obama administration thinks that Turkish ground troops could play an important role in shaping the outcome of a conflict that the US is still determined to win. Keep in mind, if the resolution had passed, the threat of a Turkish invasion would have vanished immediately.


Because the Turkish “military has publicly stated that it is not willing to send troops across the border without U.N. Security Council approval.” (Washington Post)

Many people in the west are under the illusion that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dictatorial powers and can simply order his troops into battle whenever he chooses. But that is not the case. While Erdogan has removed many of his rivals within the military, the top brass still maintains a certain autonomy from the civilian leadership. Turkish generals want assurances that they will not be prosecuted for war crimes in the future. The best way to do that is to make sure that any invasion has the blessing of either the US, NATO or the UN.

The Obama administration understands this dynamic, which is why they quashed the resolution. Obama wanted to leave the door open so Turkish troops could eventually engage the Russian-led coalition in Washington’s ongoing proxy war. This leads me to believe that the Washington’s primary objective in Syria is no longer the removal of Syrian President Bashar al Assad but the bogging down of Russia in a never-ending conflict.

Just hours after the US defeated Moscow’s draft resolution at the UN, closed-door talks were convened in Geneva where high-level U.S. and Russian military officials met to discuss the prospects for ceasefire.

The cease-fire, which is typically referred to as a “cessation of hostilities”, is aimed at temporarily stopping the fighting so the battered jihadists and US-backed rebels can regroup and rejoin the war at some later date. Both Moscow and Washington want to deliver humanitarian aid to war-torn cities across Syria, and to move towards a “political transition” although both sides are deeply divided over Assad’s role in any future government. According to the Washington Post:

“One of the many problems to be overcome is a differing definition of what constitutes a terrorist group. In addition to the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Russia and Syria have labeled the entire opposition as terrorists.

Jabhat al-Nusra, whose forces are intermingled with moderate rebel groups in the northwest near the Turkish border, is particularly problematic. Russia was said to have rejected a U.S. proposal to leave Jabhat al-Nusra off-limits to bombing as part of a cease-fire, at least temporarily, until the groups can be sorted out.” (“U.S., Russia hold Syria cease-fire talks as deadline passes without action“, Washington Post)

Repeat: “Russia was said to have rejected a U.S. proposal to leave Jabhat al-Nusra (al Qaida) off-limits to bombing as part of a cease-fire, at least temporarily, until the groups can be sorted out.” In other words, the Obama administration wanted to protect an affiliate of the group that killed 3,000 Americans in the terror attacks on 9-11 and that is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Syrian civilians whose only fault was that they happen to occupy country that these Wahhabi mercenaries wanted to transform into an Islamic Caliphate. Naturally, Moscow refused to go along with this charade.

Even so, Secretary of State John F. Kerry announced on Sunday that he and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, “had reached a ‘provisional agreement in principle’ for a temporary truce in the Syrian civil war and that it could start within days” although no one really knows how the “cease-fire would be enforced and how breaches would be resolved.”

Consider how hypocritical it is for Obama to reject Russia’s draft resolution at the UN and, just hours later, try to put Al Qaida under the protective umbrella of a US-Russia brokered ceasefire. What does that say about America’s so called “war on terror”?

Meanwhile in Turkey, Erdogan’s threats to invade Syria have intensified following a car bombing in Ankara last week that killed 28 and wounded 61 others. The Turkish government blamed a young activist, Salih Neccar, who had links to the Turkish militia (YPG) in Syria of being the perpetrator. But less than 24 hours after the blast, the government’s version of events began to fall apart. In a story that has been scarcely reported in the western media, the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) claimed full responsibility for the bombing according to a statement on its website. (The Freedom Hawks are linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK.) Then, on Monday, the Erdogan regime was slammed with more damning news: DNA samples demonstrated conclusively that Neccar was not perpetrator, but rather Abdulbaki Sömer, a member of the group that had claimed responsibility from the beginning. (TAK) As of this writing, the government still hasn’t admitted that it lied to the public to build their case for war. Erdogan and his extremist colleagues continue to use thoroughly discredited information to threaten to invade Syria. As he said on Saturday at a UNESCO meeting in Gaziantep:

“Turkey has every right to conduct operations in Syria and the places where terror organizations are nested with regards to the struggle against the threats that Turkey faces…No one can restrict Turkey’s right to self-defense in the face of terror acts that have targeted Turkey.”

This explains why Turkey has been shelling Syrian territory for the last week. It also explains why Erdogan has given Sunni jihadists a free pass to traverse Turkey and reenter the war zone in areas that improve their chances of success against the Syrian Army. Check this out from the New York Times:

“Syrian rebels have brought at least 2,000 reinforcements through Turkey in the past week to bolster the fight against Kurdish-led militias north of Aleppo, rebel sources said on Thursday.

Turkish forces facilitated the transfer from one front to another over several nights, covertly escorting rebels as they exited Syria’s Idlib governorate, traveled four hours across Turkey, and re-entered Syria to support the embattled rebel stronghold of Azaz, the sources said.

“We have been allowed to move everything from light weapons to heavy equipment, mortars and missiles and our tanks,” Abu Issa, a commander in the Levant Front, the rebel group that runs the border crossing of Bab al-Salama, told Reuters, giving his alias and talking on condition of anonymity.” (“Syrian Rebels Say Reinforcements Get Free Passage via Turkey“, New York Times)

The Obama administration knows that Erdogan is fueling the conflict, but has chosen to look the other way. And while Obama has (weakly) admonished Turkey for shelling Syrian territory, he has, at the same time, acknowledged Turkey’s “right to defend itself”, which is an expression the US reserves for Israel when it conducting one of its murderous rampages in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Now, Obama has bestowed that same honor on Erdogan. This alone speaks volumes about the duplicity of Washington’s approach.

So what is Washington’s gameplan in Syria? Is the administration serious about defeating ISIS and ending the hostilities or does Obama have something else up his sleeve?

First of all, Washington is not the least bit concerned about ISIS. The group is merely a straw-man that allows the US to conduct military operations in a region that is vital to its national interests. If the ISIS boogieman disappeared tomorrow, the White House would conjure up some other phantom–like the drug war or something equally ridiculous–so it could continue its depredations uninterrupted. What matters to Washington is breaking up the strong, secular Arab governments that pose a long-term threat to US-Israeli ambitions. That’s what really matters. The other obvious goal is to control critical resources and pipeline corridors to the EU and make sure those resources continue to be denominated in US dollars.

We continue to believe that the US-Kurdish (YPG) alliance does not really advance US strategic interests in Syria. The US is not interested in Kurdish statehood nor do they care if jihadist militias control the northern quadrant of Syria’s border-region. The real purpose of the US-YPG alliance is to enrage Turkey and provoke them into a cross-border conflict with the Russian-led coalition. If Turkey deploys ground troops to Syria, then Moscow could face the quagmire it has tried so hard to avoid. Turkish forces would serve as a replacement army for the US-backed jihadists and other proxies that have prosecuted the war for the last five years but now appear to be in full retreat.

More importantly, a Turkish invasion would exacerbate divisions inside Turkey seriously eroding Erdogan’s grip on power while creating vulnerabilities the US could exploit by working with its agents in the Turkish military and Intel agency (MIT). The ultimate objective would be to foment sufficient social unrest to incite a color-coded revolution that would dispose of the troublemaking Erdogan in a Washington-orchestrated coup, much like the one the CIA executed in Kiev.

It is not hard to imagine Obama secretly giving Erdogan the greenlight, and then pulling the rug out from under him as soon as his troops crossed over into Syria. A similar scam was carried out in 1990 when U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, gave Saddam Hussein the nod to invade Kuwait. The Iraqi Army had barely reached its destination before the US launched a massive military campaign (Operation Desert Storm) that forced Saddam to speedily withdraw along the infamous Highway of Death where upwards of 10,000 Iraqi regulars were annihilated like sitting ducks in a vicious and homicidal display of American firepower. That was the first phase of Washington’s plan to overthrow Saddam and replace him with a compliant Arab stooge.

Is the same regime change trap now being set for Erdogan?

It sure looks like it.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected]

(Republished from Counterpunch by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Erdogan, Russia, Syria, Turkey 
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  1. Excellent analysis, and his prediction that the US is backing the Kurds to draw Turkey into Syria is for me the final piece of the puzzle to explain a US duplicitous strategy.

    A couple of years ago Turkey was at peace with its neighbors and prosperous, a positive for the entire region. Since the US invasion of Iraq its all been downhill.

    If only the US would pull out of the MENA, Europe, and Asia. The world has outgrown the need for the US but the US will not relent and will destroy the world to maintain its hegemony.

  2. Thirdeye says:

    Mike’s written some good stuff before, but I’m not buying the narrative on this one. Erdogan is walking into the trap on his own accord. A color revolution coup sponsored by the State Department is not in the cards because Erdogan is a NATO ally. The biggest danger for Erdogan is from his Al Qaeda dogs turning on their master after either the government or Al Qaeda faces setbacks in Syria.

    According to Colonel Pat Lang, who had a front seat view of the 1990 – 1991 confrontation with Iraq over Kuwait and is as skeptical of US imperial intentions as anybody, there was genuine miscalculation between the GHW Bush Administration and the Iraqis over Kuwait, not a setup. Glaspie thought Saddam was bluffing and sidestepped the bluff. Once Iraq was in Kuwait, GHWB sought to force the Iraqis to withdraw under the most humiliating conditions possible, and barring that, drive them out by force.

    • Replies: @KA
  3. I’m not sure I agree with your conclusions, but its certainly an intriguing read.

  4. Svigor says:

    You guys really need to drop the “April Glaspie greenlighted Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait” thing. It’s almost as bad as the “‘gentleman’s agreement’ not to expand NATO into the former Soviet Empire that Russia was too weak to hold onto” thing. Makes you sound like idiots.


    Within hours of the invasion, Kuwait and U.S. delegations requested a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, which passed Resolution 660, condemning the invasion and demanding a withdrawal of Iraqi troops.[63][64] On 3 August, the Arab League passed its own resolution, which called for a solution to the conflict from within the League, and warned against outside intervention; Iraq and Libya were the only two Arab League states which opposed a resolution for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait. The PLO opposed it as well.[65] The Arab states of Yemen and Jordan – a Western ally which bordered Iraq and relied on the country for economic support[66] – opposed military intervention from non-Arab states.[67] The Arab state of Sudan aligned itself with Saddam.[66]

    On 6 August, Resolution 661 placed economic sanctions on Iraq.[68][69] Resolution 665[64] followed soon after, which authorized a naval blockade to enforce the sanctions. It said the “use of measures commensurate to the specific circumstances as may be necessary … to halt all inward and outward maritime shipping in order to inspect and verify their cargoes and destinations and to ensure strict implementation of resolution 661.”[70][71]
    President Bush visiting American troops in Saudi Arabia on Thanksgiving Day, 1990.

    From the beginning, U.S. officials insisted on a total Iraqi pullout from Kuwait, without any linkage to other Middle Eastern problems, fearing any concessions would strengthen Iraqi influence in the region for years to come.[72]

    On 12 August 1990, Saddam “propose[d] that all cases of occupation, and those cases that have been portrayed as occupation, in the region, be resolved simultaneously”. Specifically, he called for Israel to withdraw from occupied territories in Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon, Syria to withdraw from Lebanon, and “mutual withdrawals by Iraq and Iran and arrangement for the situation in Kuwait.” He also called for a replacement of U.S. troops that mobilized in Saudi Arabia in response to Kuwait’s invasion with “an Arab force”, as long as that force did not involve Egypt. Additionally, he requested an “immediate freeze of all boycott and siege decisions” and a general normalization of relations with Iraq.[73] From the beginning of the crisis, President Bush was strongly opposed to any “linkage” between Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait and the Palestinian issue.[74]

    Saddam Hussein detained several Westerners, with video footage shown on state television

    On 23 August, Saddam appeared on state television with Western hostages to whom he had refused exit visas. In the video, he asks a young British boy, Stuart Lockwood, whether he is getting his milk, and goes on to say, through his interpreter, “We hope your presence as guests here will not be for too long. Your presence here, and in other places, is meant to prevent the scourge of war.”[75]

    Another Iraqi proposal communicated in August 1990 was delivered to U.S. National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft by an unidentified Iraqi official. The official communicated to the White House that Iraq would “withdraw from Kuwait and allow foreigners to leave” provided that the U.N. lifted sanctions, allowed “guaranteed access to the Persian Gulf through the Kuwaiti islands of Bubiyan and Warbah”, and allowed Iraq to “gain full control of the Rumaila oil field that extends slightly into Kuwaiti territory”. The proposal also “include[d] offers to negotiate an oil agreement with the United States ‘satisfactory to both nations’ national security interests,’ develop a joint plan ‘to alleviate Iraq’s economical and financial problems’ and ‘jointly work on the stability of the gulf.’”[76]

    In December 1990, Iraq made a proposal to withdraw from Kuwait provided that foreign troops left the region and that an agreement was reached regarding the Palestinian problem and the dismantlement of both Israel’s and Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. The White House rejected the proposal.[77] The PLO’s Yasser Arafat expressed that neither he nor Saddam insisted that solving the Israeli–Palestinian issues should be a precondition to solving the issues in Kuwait, though he did acknowledge a “strong link” between these problems.[78]

    Ultimately, the U.S. stuck to its position that there would be no negotiations until Iraq withdrew from Kuwait and that they should not grant Iraq concessions, lest they give the impression that Iraq benefited from its military campaign.[72] Also, when U.S. Secretary of State James Baker met with Tariq Aziz in Geneva, Switzerland, for last minute peace talks in early 1991, Aziz reportedly made no concrete proposals and did not outline any hypothetical Iraqi moves.[79]

    On 29 November 1990, the Security Council passed Resolution 678 which gave Iraq until 15 January 1991 to withdraw from Kuwait and empowered states to use “all necessary means” to force Iraq out of Kuwait after the deadline.

    On 14 January 1991, France proposed that the U.N. Security Council call for “a rapid and massive withdrawal” from Kuwait along with a statement to Iraq that Council members would bring their “active contribution” to a settlement of the region’s other problems, “in particular, of the Arab–Israeli conflict and in particular to the Palestinian problem by convening, at an appropriate moment, an international conference” to assure “the security, stability and development of this region of the world.” The French proposal was supported by Belgium (at the moment one of the rotating Council members), Germany, Spain, Italy, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and several non-aligned nations. The U.S., the UK, and the Soviet Union rejected it; U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Thomas Pickering stated that the French proposal was unacceptable, because it went beyond previous Council resolutions on the Iraqi invasion.[80][81][82] France dropped this proposal when it found “no tangible sign of interest” from Baghdad.[83]

    The Gulf War began with an extensive aerial bombing campaign on 17 January 1991.

    Dipshit had from August 2nd 1990, to January 17, 1991 to GTFO of Kuwait. Let’s not pretend Desert Storm was some big surprise. He should’ve taken the 9 billion.

  5. attonn says:

    Obama will forever be remembered as a patron saint of Al-Qaeda and a butcher of secular Syria. Quite an accomplishment.

  6. KA [AKA "Carthage"] says:

    GHW was not very keen to go after Iraq. It was the Zionist operating in Israel ,UK (Thatcher Cabinet ) and in Democratic party who made the war inevitable .It was impossible ( stopping war )after the news emerged of the “incubator”baby dying outside the incubator in front of Lantos.
    But a misunderstanding could always have been reconciled between two friendly countries and US and Iraq were friends back then unless forces were working against it. US could allowed Egypt and Saudi to broker a deal. Actually it prevented . Iraq was ready to walk back .It was not allowed.
    Again ,none of these was inevitable or necessary .Iraq was not threatening American interests .

    Erdogan has lost Israel,EU,and Russia . His value to US is predicated on the ability to serve America. Those three entities are more powerful and important to US than a loose dishonest fanatic impulsive man like Erdogan .
    Did US entrap him? No.But the result that could have arisen from any entrapment was inbuilt in the entire episode as one of the many consequences . Israel wins from the fiasco. It was one of the few constants that have been touted as recent as this Feb in NYT that America( neocon aka Israel ) would rather prefer a bloody ongoing stalemate than see any definite outcome .
    But even in case of an outcome that is favorable to Russia ,Israel benefits from weakened demoralized dishonest Saudi and Turkey . Saudi has been shaking hands with Israel. Erdogan has been trying to comeback to Netanyahu with a face saving posture .

    ( Turkey has bombed Syria and Russia has rightfully condemned but Russia has not condemned Israel for periodic bombings of Syria – that is telling )

    • Replies: @Quartermaster
    , @Thirdeye
  7. Kiza says:

    Consider how hypocritical it is for Obama to reject Russia’s draft resolution at the UN and, just hours later, try to put Al Qaida under the protective umbrella of a US-Russia brokered ceasefire. What does that say about America’s so called “war on terror”?

    What does it say indeed?

    Some commenters may not agree with Mike’s explanations and conclusions, but one must admit that his version is plausible. The USrael’s game in the ME is quite complex, with many balls in the air. They have their goals which no “peace”-accord or cease-fire will change. Mike just describes one possible scenario how they may get from here and now to where they want to be (dividing the loot).

    If one understands that the whole game/war is only about USrael’s power, control and profit, then one can watch the news with sound off and still understand what is going on.

  8. dearieme says:

    Given the choice between believing (i) US policy in the Middle East is an intelligent, subtle, patient, complex business, being skilfully driven to success, and (ii) It’s the usual US foreign policy cock-up, my vote is with (ii).

  9. @KA

    Erdogan has trapped himself. He’s an Islamist and he’s tried to rid himself of the Kemalists among the Officer Corps, who have been the guardian of Turkey’s secular status, but has failed miserably. He has supported ISIS and Al Qaeda because that’s where his sympathies lie, but they can’t give him any support. Erdogan, consequently, has isolated himself and has no where to turn. He’s trying to walk back the business with Israel, but it’s not likely they will ever trust him again. He’s also learning that Obama is of no help whatsoever.

    There’s one thing Erdogan can do – go home. It is unlikely that he would be left in peace there, however.

    The Saudis have dealt with Israel on the “QT” for many years. This is nothing new.

  10. It is not hard to imagine Obama secretly giving Erdogan the greenlight, and then pulling the rug out from under him as soon as his troops crossed over into Syria. A similar scam was carried out in 1990 when U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, gave Saddam Hussein the nod to invade Kuwait. The Iraqi Army had barely reached its destination before the US launched a massive military campaign (Operation Desert Storm) that forced Saddam to speedily withdraw along the infamous Highway of Death where upwards of 10,000 Iraqi regulars were annihilated like sitting ducks in a vicious and homicidal display of American firepower. That was the first phase of Washington’s plan to overthrow Saddam and replace him with a compliant Arab stooge. Is the same regime change trap now being set for Erdogan?
    It sure looks like it.

    Are you suggesting that US would attack Turkey or is it an attempt in science fiction?

  11. If the Turkish army is considering a coup it should hurry up already. NATO will not fight Russia for Erdogan. Turks and anybody anywhere near them will die like flies if Erdogan comes to the rescue of his mercenaries. Israel, Saudi and Turkey all want a piece of Syria. Fine. But first they must fight Russia and Iran.

  12. Thirdeye says:

    These sentiments might ring alarm bells among the Turkish military if they gain traction.

  13. Matra says: • Website

    Last year at this time Mike Whitney was declaring Putin a genius for his gas deal with Erdogan which had left the Americans fuming impotently:

    Talking Turkey

    How are the big powerboys in Washington going to express their rage over this new threat created by Putin and Erdogan?

    It doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out, after all, we’ve seen it a million times before.

    They’re going to go after Erdogan hammer and tongs. That’s what they always do, isn’t it?

    The only reason they haven’t started in already is because they’re getting their propaganda ducks in a row, which usually takes a day or two. But as soon as that’s taken care of, they’ll start dismantling old Recep one excruciating headline at a time. Erdogan is going to be the new Hitler and the greatest threat to humanity the world has ever seen. You can bet on it.

    Oops. It turns out it is Whitney’s beloved Russians who are going after Erdogan hammer and tongs. You can bet they’ll be calling him Hitler next – if they haven’t started already – because all opponents of Russia somehow end up being Nazis. Funny that.

    • Replies: @Regnum Nostrum
  14. @Matra

    Most of the self appointed analysts, political commentators, experts of all kind and other assorted wise men are like weathervanes. Their analysis changes according to the latest news. Those who are consistent are either fanatically attached or fanatically opposed to the subject at hand and blind to the facts. Those who are consistent and correct are a rare breed indeed.

  15. Rehmat says:

    Don’t expect any regime change in Turkey. Like Barack Obama, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is very popular among Turks and Jewish groups in the United states, who consider him a ‘security fence’ against the ‘real Islamists’.

    On December 4, 2014, Lee Smith at Jewish ‘Tablet Magazine’ penned an article, entitled, “Barack Obama’s Turkish Fruitcake”, in which he partly blamed Obama’s 20-year mess policy in the Middle East being responsible for Turkey’s \$350 million Presidential Palace.

    “It’s after Thanksgiving, and so it bears mentioning that Turkey, under the direction of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, formerly that country’s prime minister and now its president, has apparently lost its mind. Erdogan, a proudly demagogic Islamist, thinks Muslims discovered America, centuries before Columbus got there. Further he’s built a presidential palace four times the size of Versailles and 30 times the size of the White House,” whined the poor Zionist soul.

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