Washington: Time to Make Choice
Nikolai BOBKIN | 08.12.2015 | OPINION

Washington: Time to Make Choice

The United States holds the United Nations Security Council presidency in December. Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, expressed hope that the Vienna talks on Syria’s crisis management will continue. On Tuesday, December 1, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee that the United States was deploying a new force of special operations troops to Iraq to conduct raids against Islamic State there and in neighboring Syria, ratcheting up Washington's campaign against the terrorist group. President Obama also expressed his intent to deploy fighter aircraft along the Turkey-Syria border.

The majority of US experts believe that under the circumstances in Syria one should rely on cold-blooded and sober-minded approaches typical for Vladimir Putin, something that Barak Obama clearly lacks. Clear evidence of this can be seen against the backdrop of the tensions between Moscow and Ankara.

Henri J. Barkey, the director of the Middle East Program at the Wilson Center, writes in his article An Unnecessary Crisis published by The American Interest, that by downing the Russian Su-24 bomber, «Turkey may now realize that it has overplayed its hand». The author does not share President Obama’s point of view that Turkey acted in self-defense. By giving an order to down the Russian bomber Erdogan tried to protect the status quo in northern Syria, where Turkey has been creating a bridgehead for terrorist operations for years. «The Turks seemed particularly upset at the Russian bombardment of its allies, the anti-Assad Turkmen militia. Turkey has invested a lot of support in this militia; Erdogan publicly admitted that they had been supplying it with arms», the article reads.

Mike Whitney, a Washington-based writer on politics and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (link), writes in his piece Putin’s Revenge? The Fight for the Border, published by CounterPunch that «The downing of the Russian warplane has only intensified Putin’s determination to seal the northern border, defeat the terrorists and win the war in Syria». The article says, «Erdogan has long hoped that the area would be turned into a Safe Zone where Sunni militants – committed to removing Assad from power – could receive weapons and other support from their sponsors while coming and going as they pleased. The Russian-led coalition’s attempt to retake the area and seal the border to stop the flow of terrorists from Turkey, is probably what precipitated the attack on the Russian warplane. It was a desperate attempt to wave-off the Russian offensive and reverse the course of the war which has turned decisively in Assad’s favor». The author cites Pepe Escobar, a roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, who said, «Erdogan has been ISIS best friend, of that, and there is little doubt». It sounds like a publicly announced verdict for the Turkish leader.

RJ Larzo, a Colorado Springs-based freelance writer, journalist and aspiring novelist, notes in the article Putin Puts Skies over Syria on Lockdown Thanks to 'Quickdraw' Erdogan that appeared on the pages of Examiner internet outlet «It took almost five years to reach anything resembling an end to the Syrian Civil War and just 17 measly seconds to throw it all away». «What was Erdogan thinking?» asks the author.

Reading the piece titled Time to trade Turkey for Russia in NATO by Sierra Rayne in The American Thinker one gets the impression that the Turkish leaders have mush for brains.

The Moscow’s reaction to the Turkish provocation against the Su-24 warplane is not limited to bilateral relationship. The package of retaliatory measures also goes beyond the economic countertops listed by the executive order of President Vladimir Putin signed on November 28.

Russia has concentrated even more on the final goal of its mission in Syria – the victory over terror. It has no intention to relent in its efforts. To the contrary, Russia has increased its military presence in the country. It has deployed S-400 long-range air defense system in Latakia, boosted the number of warplanes, submarines and surface ships in the Mediterranean. The Su-34 fighter-bombers have been additionally equipped with air-to-air missiles. The Turkish hostile action against the Russian aircraft has actually led to the establishment of a «no-fly zone» in the Syrian air space near the Turkish border.

Washington was too busy vindicating the actions of its ally. It had no time to assess the importance of the military measures undertaken by Moscow. In the meeting held on the sidelines of a climate summit at Le Bourget on the outskirts of Paris, Obama called for easing the tensions between Russia and Turkey and expressed his regret for the death of the Russian pilot. At that he shied away from mentioning the Ankara’s role in supporting extremists and terrorists striving for seizing power in Damascus. The Obama’s reaction is increasingly questioned in the United States. Chris Ernesto, a co-founder of St. Pete for Peace, an antiwar organization in St. Petersburg, FL., and manager of OccupyArrests.com and USinAfrica.com., writes with indignation on the pages of Opednews.com«Can you imagine what the United States would do if Turkey – a country that has supported ISIS – shot down an American fighter jet and then executed a US soldier? And then the President of Russia said he supported the jet being shot down and that it was actually America's fault? And consider that this would follow an American commercial airliner being blown out of the sky by ISIS, killing all 224 passengers aboard».

Michael Desch, a professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame and a co-director of the university's International Security Center, sounds skeptical in its comment publicized by CNN, saying «President Barack Obama took advantage of the fact that both he and Vladimir Putin were in Paris for this week's multilateral climate talks to give the Russian President some strategic advice about Russia's military intervention in Syria». The President said Russia was running the risk to get bogged down in Syria, like the Soviet Union did in Afghanistan. «I think Mr Putin understands that with Afghanistan fresh in the memory, for him to simply get bogged down in an inconclusive and paralyzing civil conflict is not the outcome that he's looking for», Barack Obama said. Americans have doubts their President can give Russia an advice on its Middle East policy. «This is surely good advice. But I wonder whether we should follow it ourselves? After all, if we are talking about recent military interventions, it is hard to see how our ill-fated experiences in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Syria could make President Obama think we have a better sense of strategy for this wickedly complicated part of the world than his counterpart in Moscow», writes Michael Desch.

Nabih Bulos, a special correspondent of The Los Angeles Times writes about shady dealings between Turkey and radical Shiites in his piece titled Downing of Russian Warplane Shines a Light on Turkey's Shadowy Links to Extremists. The author reports that «Turkish assistance has been instrumental in empowering the Army of Conquest, a loose coalition of hard-line Islamist factions including Al Nusra Front, which seized control of Idlib province in March in an offensive backed by Turkey and Saudi Arabia». He believes that Washington should be concerned over the Turkey’s ties with Al-Nusra and the Islamic States. It does not seem to be.

Finally, I’d like to offer the opinion of James A Lyons, a US Navy retired Admiral who served as the Commander-in-Chief of the US Pacific Fleet and the senior US military representative to the United Nations, expressed on the pages of The Washington Times in his article A Contrived Shoot-Down? The Admiral believes that «Based on reported information, the Turkish shoot-down of a Russian SU-24 jet bomber along the Syrian border on Nov. 24 points to a preplanned, contrived incident that had to be authorized by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. While Turkey is a NATO ally, Mr Erdogan is a very dangerous individual, who is a committed Islamist and has essentially transformed what was once a secular nation into an Islamic state».

All told, it goes to show that the time is ripe for the US administration to stop dilly-dallying and finally make a decision. It’s impossible to fight the terrorist groups in Syria while pursuing the very same goals they pursue – the regime change achieved by the use of force. The refusal to make a choice will make the United States follow Erdogan in its adventurist policy.

Tags: ISIS   Middle East  Turkey  US 

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