We have heard the story of the downing of a Russian fighter plane by a Turkish F-16. We have also heard all the predictable recriminations that went with it. But none of them actually add up to a motive, much less a solution, at the end of the day.
The downing of the Russian SU 24 bomber wasn’t a Turkish attempt to curry favour with NATO, nor was it a NATO order. It was not a way of deflecting attention from the Turkish economy and political infighting, or about a country without a domestic policy creating an external enemy. It is about what most aggressive acts in this region have been about for a long time – another cartel, not OPEC, smuggling stolen oil and protecting the mechanisms and players doing that.
Why take the nuclear option?
Turkey claims that the SU-24 aircraft violated its airspace and did not respond to repeated warnings, thereby provoking the armed response. The Russians claim that the plane was actually in Syrian airspace, and there with the agreement of the Damascus government.
If the Turkish claim is true, it still does not explain why the plane was shot down, as this is not the usual practice unless the plane is actually attacking the country in question, not flying over it. The Director of the Italian Defence Review claims that Turkey’s action is illegal, as even if the airplane was within the Turkish border, according to international law Turkish aviation should have accompanied the aircraft outside the border, taken photographs of its matrix number and reported the incident. If the Russian claim is true, this implies that Turkey is trying to claim jurisdiction over Syrian airspace, and thus make it NATO airspace and give it the right to provoke further conflict by getting its own planes shot down there.
There is an obvious subtext here. Russia bombs ISIS and does it successfully, exposing the fact that NATO, with all its resources, has been helping ISIS instead of trying to stop it. The West responds by ensuring that a wave of co-ordinated attacks takes place, blamed on ISIS, in different parts of the world. This shows that ISIS has not been greatly damaged by the Russian bombing, but still demonstrates that Russian fighter planes are effective when used.
The West is of course fighting on the same side as ISIS in Syria, while Russia is opposing it. Russian planes have to be recast as a threat to provide justification for such a position. This explains why the plane was shot down rather than intercepted, and why the mainstream media focus has been on geopolitical issues, as slotting Russia into a new “Axis of Evil” conveniently makes the ongoing Western support for other elements of it seem improbable, or too complicated an issue to fathom.
But although shooting down the plane does indeed serve these purposes it doesn’t explain how we’ve got to where we are. As former CIA agent Robert Baer has pointed out in several books, Western political positions don’t come out of nowhere. They are linked to energy supplies, and ensuring that the West obtains and controls these.
This is why the West ignores conflicts in, for example, Burundi, where more people were killed in civil conflict per capita in the last century than anywhere else, whilst intervening in those which are “threats to humanity” in places where the West can obtain oil and gas. It is also why those wars end when the local energy supplies are controlled by Western countries and companies, and the locals henceforth depend on those companies for the existence of their state. Why did the civil conflict in Iran in the 1950s end when the popular Prime Minister who tried to nationalise the oil industry was kicked out? Who owns the energy supplies in all the states of former Yugoslavia, each created by a war fomented by the West?
Hubris is blind
It is known that ISIS is largely funded by oil, most of which is sold to the Western countries who claim to oppose it. It is also known that new players don’t enter the oil market without the other players agreeing. Look at the oil companies quoted on the world’s stock exchanges, who owns them and how long those owners have been there, whatever the configuration of their companies.
If any war the West is involved with is about who controls oil supplies, any conflict involving ISIS is even more driven by oil. The West may still be hoping to buy ISIS off by being a good customer and talking full control of its operation. But for now it can have it both ways – profit from the sale and use of the oil and still pretend to oppose its existence by declaring these sales illegal. Provided, of course, it brings in reliable people to handle the operation, who have corrupted themselves so much previously their loyalty can be guaranteed.
Much has been written about Georgians disappearing and fighting for ISIS, and Tatarkhan Batashvili, a man who was invalided out of the Georgian Army as unfit for service, becoming the fearsome commander of an unbeatable ISIS unit. It is therefore no surprise that the men who created these links between Georgia and the worst aspects of Western conduct are now, once again, in the thick of the oil transit business.
The number of former members of Mikheil Saakashvili’s now-reviled Georgian government, including the man himself, who are now working in Ukraine was almost designed to arouse suspicion of their true purpose. The “revelation” of their recent attempt to regain power in Georgia through a coup confirms some of these suspicions. But it also clouds the issue.
We are happy to have been proved right, and don’t want to look at the details, as getting the big picture right justifies every allegation made. We don’t stop to think what the remaining details might mean, as everything is explained by the attempted coup Saakashvili seemingly leaked into public knowledge by accident, with CIA handlers round him 24 hours a day. As long as we are right, case closed.
But take for example this detail. As Archil Chkoidze, Chairman of the Georgian NGO King Irakli the Second, recently pointed out, one of these imported Saakashvili loyalists, Khatia Dekanoidze, is now head of the Ukrainian police. It is her responsibility to intercept any contraband, such as smuggled oil, which has passed through the various customs points.
It is not Poroshenko who chooses who is appointed to what position, it is the CIA, as is confirmed by the fact that the US pays the staff of these runaway Georgians but not other Ukrainian officials. Dekanoidze has no previous experience of running a police force, and in Georgia her portfolio was Education. This is seemingly unrelated, until you understand what the Saakashvili government did in the schools, and their attitude towards them.
The main change the Saakashvili government made in education was to introduce individuals called “mandaturi” into the schools. These were school policemen, whose job was to track the “moods and thoughts” of parents, pupils and teachers. They were happy to allow crimes such as violence and drug dealing to take place in schools, as they were there to neutralise potential threats to government programmes. That is what the Ukrainian police force is now for, and this is unaffected by the revelations about a coup in Georgia.
We should also consider this detail. Those who offended the Saakashvili regime swiftly found themselves in jail. The world now knows what went on in Georgian prisons during that time – broomstick rapes, torture, bullying. The minister who was discredited as a result of the tapes revealing these things was Khatuna Khmelidze.
What happened to her? She isn’t in jail herself. Khmelidze joined an educational institution, one controlled by Saakashvili’s UNM – again, one in which crime can flourish unhindered because it is a base for attempts to bring down the present Georgian government. Where does the Ukrainian government get its advisers from, in education, police and other matters? Two countries: the USA and Georgia. Look them up, or wait until their LinkedIn profiles start to acknowledge this.
Georgia has a long history of using criminal elements to further government programmes. This is how the ongoing relationship between the UNM and regional crime bosses such as Megis Kardava in West Georgia developed. Kardava continues to provide ‘muscle’ for local UNM bigwigs, including the torturers who operated in the secret bunkers gradually being uncovered in areas they still control. These are connections which remain in place while we congratulate ourselves on being proved right over the coup, furthered by the same individuals, who Saakashvili’s notoriety is allowing to pass under the radar.
Two and two make crime
So how do we know that the Ukrainian government, and therefore CIA, programme includes smuggling oil? How do we know that shooting down a plane belonging to the West’s greatest competitor in the energy field, Russia, is connected to smuggling oil?
Saakashvili is Governor of Odessa, a port city. He has a longstanding relationship with Turkey, or rather official Turkey. His mother is the rector of the International Black Sea University, which is effectively run by the Turkish state, and has close ties with Turkish business interests who themselves have close ties to, or are members of, the Turkish government.
While Saakashvili was president he gave a number of influential Turkish citizens Georgian passports, at knockdown prices. He didn’t do the same for Turks in general, or even Georgians, who were entitled to Georgian passports, who lived in Russia. He also concocted a transport agreement with Turkey, under which Turkish trucks and buses could cross the Georgian border free of charge while Georgian ones had to pay 800 euro for the privilege. The outcome of this was that most of the Georgian transport companies which once crossed the border went bankrupt, replaced by Turkish ones.
The current President of Turkey has business connections, through his family, with the supply of ISIS oil from Syria and Iraq. Members of his AKP party trade this oil, and those who publish photos of weapons being sent to ISIS are jailed. In most countries, such compromising relationships would render a president liable to investigation and subsequent impeachment – think Clinton and Whitewater, which involved his wife rather than him.
The West arms, trains and funds ISIS. One way it does that is by buying its oil, in an attempt to maintain control of the supply. Now former clients of the CIA black ops department, Saakashvili and his gang, have been inserted to Ukraine, the latest US project, and control its ports.
So that is where the ISIS oil must be going. If you look at what went on in the Turkish-controlled ports in Georgia, Batumi and Poti, during Saakashvili’s time, all of which is well documented, this conclusion is inescapable.
Evil is stranger than fiction
Russia is the West’s biggest challenger for control of world energy resources. That is why the West soon abandoned its initial attempts to be friendly to post-Communist Russia: it couldn’t buy it off the way it did everywhere else, it has enough resources of its own. It is also why the West sees anything, war and smuggling included, as fair game in its struggle to retain control, as it is unable to prevail by purely legal means.
Consequently, Russia has to be made to be on the other side, somehow, even when it is technically on the same side as the West. It is when it is combating ISIS, but not when that disrupts the oil supplies ISIS was inserted to get. Shooting down Russian fighter planes thus serves many purposes, but none of them are good ones.
Percy Bysshe Shelley once wrote a poem entitled “To a Balloon Laden With Knowledge”.
Russia knows very well why the West continues with its wars and what their outcomes are. It also knows the track record of its patsies. This is the knowledge its planes are laden with, and this is what the West is trying to shoot down. But there are enough Saakashvilis in this world to ensure that the truth isn’t going to go away.
Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.