Washington Plays Hardball with Russia on Syria
by Stephen Lendman
If words could kill, America and Russia might be at war. Hopefully it won’t come to that. Given America’s rage to fight, even the unthinkable is possible.
Russia and China represent Washington’s final frontier. Building up around their borders and encircling both countries with US bases makes anything ahead possible.
Prioritizing peace isn’t America’s long suit. Unchallenged global dominance assures war. One country after another is ravaged. Multiple direct and proxy wars remain ongoing. Flashpoints easily shift from one region to another or target several at the same time.
Currently, the Middle East is ground zero. Longstanding US plans want Syrian and Iranian governments replaced by pro-Western ones. Russia opposes US imperialism for good reason. Recent exchanges between both sides show strain.
On October 12, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland addressed Turkey’s anti-Russian/Syrian provocation. Fighter jets forced a Moscow inbound Syrian airliner to land in Ankara. “We have no doubt (about) serious military equipment” being shipped, she claimed. She lied.
In less than so many words, she accused Russia of aiding and abetting Washington’s enemy. AP said Obama officials “Friday accused Russia of pursuing a ‘morally bankrupt’ policy in Syria.”
“Everybody else on the Security Council is doing what it can unilaterally to ensure that the Assad regime is not getting support from the outside.”
“No responsible country (should help) the Assad regime and particularly those with responsibilities for global peace and security as UN Security Council members.”
Washington, of course, planned and initiated conflict. Stopping it is as simple as withdrawing support, halting Turkey’s involvement, telling Saudi Arabia and Qatar to back off, informing other regional and Western states the same way, and calling off its dogs.
Russian nationals were on board the inbound flight. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu lied or didn’t tell all, saying, “We received information that the plane’s cargo did not comply with rules of civil aviation.”
Syria justifiably accused Turkey of “air piracy.” Its Foreign Ministry said “the hostile Turkish behavior is additional evidence of the aggressive policy adopted by Erdogan’s government, taking into account the training and harbouring of gunmen and facilitating their infiltration through its borders and bombing Syrian territories.”
Syrian Air’s Airbus A-320 departed Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport. On entering Turkey’s airspace, Turkish Air Force F-16s forced it to land in Ankara. On board were 37 passengers. They included crew members and 17 Russian nationals with children.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry accused Turkey of endangering the lives of those on board. FM spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said “the Turkish authorities without explaining the reason and in violation of the bilateral Consular Convention did not allow diplomats to meet with the Russian citizens.”
They and others on board were forcibly held for nine hours without food or other assistance. They were abused. Crew members were accosted at gunpoint. Turkish authorities demanded they sign a statement saying an emergency landing was necessary. They refused.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been spoiling for a fight for months. He serves shamelessly as Washington’s lead regional belligerent. He’s little more than a convenient stooge. Obama may get the war he wants without direct US involvement.
Erdogan claimed Moscow was sending “equipment and ammunition” to Syria. Syria’s Foreign Ministry accused him of lying.
Russia was very irate. A formal protest was lodged. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, “We have no secret, and we have scrutinized the details. There were no weapons on board the plane and could not have been any.”
“There was a cargo on the plane that a legal Russian supplier was sending in a legal way to a legal customer.” The plane carried radar parts. International agreements permit them.
The pilot landed “because he knew he was not transporting anything illegal. We are waiting for an official reply why our diplomats were not allowed to meet with Russian passengers on board.”
So far, Ankara stonewalled. It displayed no weapons seized because there are none. Vladimir Putin indefinitely postponed a planned visit. Weeks earlier, he accused Washington of being back in bed with Al Qaeda. It’s no secret. Hillary Clinton admitted it months ago.
Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party called for decisive action. It wants Turkey’s Moscow ambassador expelled.
Other hostile exchanges followed. Tensions already are heightened. Russian Foreign Ministry deputy media and press director, Maria Zakharova, said:
“Based on news coming from Syria, terrorism has become the top among the means of the armed opposition. This raises a serious concern as it obviously signals the growing role of the radical extremists in the ranks of the ‘Syrian opposition.’ “
Security Council condemnation statements should be followed by corresponding deeds, she stressed. It hasn’t happened so far.
At Washington’s behest, Turkey falsely accused Moscow of shipping weapons and/or weapons grade material. At the same time, Western and regional countries actively supply anti-Assad mercenaries with heavy weapons and munitions.
It’s been ongoing since early last year. Funding, training, and directing foreign fighters are involved. CIA and UK intelligence elements are active players. So are Western and regional special forces.
Washington, Britain and Turkey actively wage war on Syria without declaring it. On October, 13 Hurriyet Daily News said Erdogan accused international countries of encouraging Assad. He told participants at an Istanbul World Forum:
“So what is the source of this attitude? If we have to wait for what one or two of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council will say, then the consequences for Syria will be very dangerous.”
“The UN, which was an onlooker to the massacres of hundreds of thousands of people in the Balkans 20 years ago, is having the same kind of blindness in Syria today. What kind of explanation can be made for the injustice and the inability that is being displayed here?”
His comments targeted Moscow and Beijing. On October 13, Hurriyet Daily News headlined “Syria row hits Assembly,” saying:
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) submitted a motion to censure Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. It was rejected. On June 6, so was an earlier one. Erdogan’s government was accused of aiding and abetting anti-Assad mercenaries in Turkish territory.
Davutoglu threatened to sue CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu. CHP deputy Osman Koruturk said Turkey was coming to “the last exit before the bridge (on Syria). If we miss this exit, we will proceed through uncertainties in foreign policies.”
At the same time, Ankara bolstered its presence on Syria’s border. Armored vehicles, heavy weapons, and 250 tanks were deployed in Sanliurfa, Mardin and Gaziantep provinces.
NATO was asked to activate radar and other technical capabilities against Syria. Syrian air defenses and offensive positions are targeted.
Erdogan ordered military readiness. Maybe he knows something he’s not revealing. On Friday, in response to a Syrian helicopter attack on Azmar bordering Turkey, Ankara scrambled two fighter jets.
Each incident builds on earlier ones. At some point perhaps, a point of no return gets crossed. Ankara warned Damascus. Baseless accusations claimed Syria fired mortars on Turkish territory.
Anti-Assad militants were responsible. Assad wants tensions cooled and good relations restored. Washington wants its lead regional belligerent stoking conflict.
Turkish Chief of General Staff General Necdet Ozel warned about launching cross-border attacks “with greater force.” Conditions are dangerously close to full-scale war. Ankara awaits word from Washington.
It’s ready to attack on cue. NATO support may be involved. Fresh from receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, perhaps EU/North Atlantic Alliance countries want to say thank you. What better way than by waging war. It’s what NATO/EU nations do best.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.