Tensions have risen once again along the Syrian-Tukrish border as Turkey downs a Syrian warplane and terrorists backed by Turkish troops storm across the border and down Syria’s western coast in Latakia province. Turkey’s renewed vigor appears to be in part a result of pressure placed on Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan by US-backed mobs who have been taking to the streets for months seeking his ouster.
Citing Reuters and AFP reports, RT’s article, “Turkey downs Syrian jet near border ‘for airspace violation’,” notes that:
The Syrian Air Force jet was shot down near the Kasab crossing in Latakia province, where fierce fighting between Syrian forces and armed insurgents has been going on for three days, Reuters reported.
The statement [of the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces] noted that the jet went down “1,200 meters to the south of the border on the Syrian territory in Kasab region,” adding that Turkish border guards “observed its fall.”
That the plane was shot down while conducting air raids against militants crossing over the Syrian-Turkish border, and even fell within Syrian territory – suggests that not only did Turkey unreasonably target a Syrian warplane it knew posed no threat to Turkey, but did so while providing anti-air support for internationally designated terrorists it is harboring within its territory.
Additionally, it has been reported that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s cousin, Hilal al-Assad, had been killed in the ongoing clashes in Latakia along with several other defense militia fighters while fighting admittedly Al Qaeda Al Nusra terrorists. Reuters, in their report, “Assad cousin killed in Latakia clash with Syria rebels,” states:
…Hilal al-Assad, local head of the National Defence Force militia, and seven of his fighters were killed in clashes with the Nusra Front and other Islamist brigades.
While the news of Hilal al-Assad’s death will be leveraged by the West for propaganda value, it must be remembered that the West’s proxy war is against the nation of Syria, not one particular family, or even the government of Syria. Syria possesses institutions, and when leaders are removed, new leaders take their place, just as was illustrated by the July, 2012 assassination/bombing in Damascus.
The death of Hilal al-Assad will only steel the resolve of Syrians further in their fight against foreign-backed violence.
Latakia Offensive is Part of Larger “Last Gasp” Militant Campaign
The battle in Latakia is part of what appears to be a larger two-pronged Western-backed incursion into Syria. The other front, literally called the “Southern Front” by the West, includes allegedly 49 militant factions operating along the southern Syrian-Jordanian border near the city of Daraa. The operation includes the continued material support by both Saudi Arabia and the United States, and features a PR campaign to portray the sectarian extremists as “secular” and “pro-democracy.”
Regarding the creation of the “Southern Front,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace even stated in its post, “Does the “Southern Front” Exist?,” that:
Rather than an initiative from the rebels themselves, word is that it was foreign officials that called on rebel commanders to sign a statement declaring their opposition to extremism, saying it was a precondition for getting more guns and money. Since beggars can’t be choosers, the commanders then collectively shrugged their shoulders and signed—but not so much to declare a new alliance as to help U.S. officials tick all the right boxes in their reports back home, hoping that this would unlock another crate of guns.
However, despite the renewed rhetorical vigor, the West has been directing a torrent of cash, weapons, equipment, and even foreign fighters over Syria’s borders since 2011 to no avail. The irreversible gains by Syrian security forces against this torrent indicates that the West’s strategy has failed in its ultimate goal of achieving regime change, and may be failing in terms of sufficiently weakening Syria ahead of an increasingly unlikely assault on Iran.
Attempts up to and throughout 2013 to justify direct Western military intervention have failed, but the fact that they were attempted in the first place indicates a failure by the West’s proxy forces to overwhelm Syria’s military, or to even hold on to enough territory long enough to carve out the much desired “buffer zones” sought after by NATO from which it hoped to project military support deeper yet into Syria.
Turkey’s Hypocrisy Only Matched by Its Desperation
Turkey’s downing of a Syrian plane it knew was targeting militants it is intentionally harboring within its territory is problematic for several reasons.
First, these militants crossing over into Syria from Turkey are openly identified as Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra front by the above mentioned Reuters report – Al Nusra being a designated terrorist organization by the US State Department itself, thus making the Turkish government guilty of violating both US and international law.
Second, as a NATO member for decades, Turkey’s role in aiding and abetting Al Qaeda terrorists, including harboring them within its territory, providing them with material support, and even coordinating its military assets including its air force during this latest incursion into neighboring Syria – all while NATO is allegedly fighting “Al Qaeda” in Afghanistan, further illustrates the profound hypocrisy of not only Turkey’s foreign policy, but undermines utterly both NATO’s legitimacy and the legitimacy of each nation’s foreign policy counted among its membership.
Additionally, Turkey’s insistence that Syria has no right to pursue designated terrorists near or across its borders jeopardizes Turkey’s own long-standing policy of pursuing Kurds near and well across its borders. As recently as 2011, even as it lectured Syria on fighting armed militants, Turkey sent troops and warplanes across its border with Iraq in “pursuit” of “Kurdish rebels.” McClatchy reported in its article, “Turkey invades Iraq after Kurdish rebels kill 26 Turkish soldiers,” that:
Turkey sent troops and fighter jets into Iraq Wednesday in “hot pursuit” of Kurdish rebels who killed more than 25 Turkish soldiers in multiple attacks in the southern Turkish province of Hakkari. It was the first cross-border violence in five years between Turkish troops and Kurdish guerrillas who Turkey says shelter in northern Iraq.
Turkey’s recent obstruction of Syria in its battle against internationally designated terrorist groups within and along its borders will give the enemies of Ankara the ability to further leverage the Kurdish struggle for independence against Turkish interests. On a more international scale, Turkey’s behavior, particularly as a member of NATO, could be cited by nations such as Pakistan in regards to NATO’s cross-border incursions from Afghanistan. If Turkey can shoot down Syrian warplanes targeting Al Qaeda terrorists openly flooding into its territory, why couldn’t Pakistan apply more pressure on NATO as it carries out attacks on much more ambiguous targets within Pakistani territory?
The West’s legitimacy and reputation continues to suffer as a direct result of its systematic and increasingly overt hypocrisy. It’s inability to adhere to the standards it has set as the framework for the very global order it presumes leadership over shakes the confidence of others expected to find their place within it. And as this hypocrisy manifests itself in invasions, occupations, proxy terrorism, regime change, political and economic destabilization, as well as overt propaganda campaigns carried out by the West’s immense media corporations, the world will seek a different order all together.
The West’s insistence on seeing through its Syrian campaign to the bitter end instead of conceding defeat and changing tack, ensures that this will be one of its last foreign adventures. While it may send troops and proxy forces else where to meddle on behalf of its special interests, the West will do so without the benefit of an influential media, perceived legitimacy, or justification – moral or otherwise.
The facts on the ground combined with the West’s deferral to propaganda ploys rather than demonstrable success in Syria indicates that this latest push in Latakia in the north and Daraa in the south will end as all other pushes have – in defeat for the West’s proxy forces and with the Syrian military inching closer to total victory.
Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”