October 21, 2011
Kurdish Attack On Turkey Disrupts Plot Against Syria
With Gaddhafi gone the Lidless Eye of NATO turns to its next target, Syria, for a repeat of the successful model that was applied in Libya. But the plan for Syria has a flaw in that it depends on Turkey. But attacks by Kurds can press Turkey to abandon the plan.
Alastair Crooke explains the plans that have been made to engineer the downfall of Assad and Syria's fall into post-revolutionary hell. The main actors behind this plot:
In operational terms, Feltman and his team coordinate, Qatar hosts the "war room", the "news room" and holds the purse strings, Paris and Doha lead on pushing the Transitional Council model, whilst Bandar and Turkey jointly manage the Sunni theater in-country, both armed and unarmed.
For details please read Crooke's piece. It is quite good and makes sense.
There are two weak points in these plans. Crooke only points out that control of the Salafi's, as is shows in Libya, is difficult and there are others then Prince Bandar in the house of Saud, that may have very different ideas on how to use them.
Another weak point in the plan is the role of Turkey and the role of the Kurds. Turkey's prime minister Erdogan supported some Syrian opposition folks to set up their National Transitional Council in Turkey. But the Syrian Kurds were not amused when they were not included.
The killing of the Kurdish activist Mashaal Tammo in Syria was not followed, as the plans provided, by the Kurdish main parties joining the insurgency against Assad. They smelled the rat and did not blame him for that death.
Then Erdogan was suddenly confronted with a big attack by 100 fighters of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) on his military at the Iraqi border. He responded with a division size invasion of North Iraq.
I do not believe that the two issues, Turkey plotting against Syria and the Kurdish attacks in south-eastern Turkey are unrelated. As I wrote back in August:
Some people hope for the Turks to get involved in Syria. Forget about it. Syria, Iraq and Iran have, like Turkey, partly Kurdish population. If they want to pressure Turkey to stay away from an intervention in Syria they only need to unleash some of the Kurdish rebels into east Turkey.
The countries with Kurdish populations, Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, have always used the various Kurdish groups to challenge their respective neighbors when they found it necessary or convenient to do so.
After recently damaging the relations with Iran by accepting a NATO anti-missile radar on Turkish ground and by plotting against Syria, Erdogan now had to again sue for piece:
Turkey is seeking Iran's support for its fight against Kurdish rebels, as thousands of troops press ahead with an air and ground offensive against militants in northern Iraq for a third day.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in Ankara on Friday to discuss closer cooperation against the separatist rebels, who have also attacked Iran in the past.
The Iranians will, of course, support Turkey against the Kurds. Provided, as they will have quietly requested, that Turkey leaves its hands off their Syrian ally. That Turkey has now given in to Iranian demands is visible in its public rejection of the U.S. allegations of an Iranian plot against the Saudi ambassador in Washington. This even after having been shown evidence by U.S. emissaries.
That lets me believe that Turkey has now accepted that a conflict with Syria (and Iran) is not in its interest.
Turkey leaving the revolutionary club takes a big and necessary piece out of the plan: A safe base like Benghazi inside Turkey from where the revolutionaries could jump off their attack on Syria under NATO air cover. One wonders how the plotters will adapt their plans to that.
Posted by b on October 21, 2011 at 12:50 PM | Permalink
It was a very good piece and fairly expansive.
On Syria it looks like things are not going well for people who want Assad gone. The Pro-Assad demonstration on Wednesday in Aleppo was upwards of 80,000... the photos convey the numbers. For a revolution to be successful it needs mass popular support and it seems to me that given the last weeks Pro-Assad rallies (in Aleppo and last week in Damascus) there are still a good 50% who aren't going along with the protests. With the Kurds now refusing to take part as well a betting man would be wise to bet on Assad staying at least for the next few years until the sanctions start to bite.
Turkey getting bogged down in Northern Iraq is just one more piece of bad news for the opposition. Russia/China/Iraq/Iran also remaining solidly behind Assad. The real worry is that Saudi Arabia gets desperate and starts unleashing its Jihadists everyone knows that Saudi funded the Iraq Sunni insurgents will they do something similar in Syria?
Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Oct 21, 2011 1:57:46 PM | 1
I had much the same assessment, but I disagree with this:
"That Turkey has now given in to Iranian demands is visible in its public rejection of the U.S. allegations of an Iranian plot against the Saudi ambassador in Washington."
I think that's a jump, and Ankara is still in the process of re-calibrating. If it's campaign in Iraq is successful, it will proceed as planned. Iran is a necessary component of Turkey's energy security and economic expansion plans. Turkey will be against a conflict with Iran no matter what happens in Syria. That, and it doesn't want to look like an idiot by pretending it believes the announced 'plot' is credible.
Posted by: masoud | Oct 21, 2011 4:11:05 PM | 2
The statement of a "division size Turkish invasion" of Northern Iraq is not borne out by facts on the ground. This campaign is very limited.
The approach of Turkey to Syria's regime is much more nuanced than going along with the US wishes 100%. As for Iran, it can't dictate to Turkey what to do, just like Turkey can't dictate to Iran.
Posted by: kodlu | Oct 21, 2011 5:49:22 PM | 3
I doubt that anyone will intervene in Syria. Things may go to the edge, there are a lot of plots. But an actual intervention risks all the surrounding countries suffering from the instability.
Ok, let's denominate the problems.
1) Turkey. New Syrian refugees could inflame the Turkish Syrian Arabs round Antakya to demand the return of their territory to Syria.
2) Iraq. Iraq has to receive back all the refugees who fled to Syria.
3) Lebanon. Lebanon gained territory from Syria in the 1920 French settlement. The eastern peoples in the Biqa` are very close to the Syrians, with a lot of sympathy.
4) Israel. A short militarised border, but an unknown potentially Islamist regime in Syria is bound to give fear. It is why Israel wants a weak regime in Syria, but not confusion.
5) Jordan. Not too many problems there.
The Saudis do want revolution in Syria, for ideological reasons. That doesn't mean that they are going to get their wish.
I doubt that NATO is going to intervene militarily itself. The risks of things going differently from what they want are too great. Quite different from Libya, where things seemed straight forward.
Posted by: alexno | Oct 21, 2011 5:56:07 PM | 4
I'm quite surprised that this attack by the PKK on Turkish troops happened, which led to the Turkish response of an invasion of northern Iraq.
There are still Israeli advisors in Kurdistan. New war with Turkey weakens Kurdish autonomy, and thus their chance of giving trouble to Arab Iraq. Against Israeli interests. And weakening to Kurdish independence.
Posted by: alexno | Oct 21, 2011 6:17:22 PM | 5
There will be no invasion of Syria. Destabilization efforts such as are witnessed in Iran, yes, but Syria is not Libya....or Egypt.
Posted by: Morocco Bama | Oct 21, 2011 9:49:49 PM | 6
@Kodlu - The statement of a "division size Turkish invasion" of Northern Iraq is not borne out by facts on the ground. This campaign is very limited.
Turkey sends 10,000 troops to Iraq border
The Turkish military dispatched about 10,000 troops to the border with northern Iraq yesterday as part of its largest offensive against Kurdish militants for three years.
Turkish television reported last night that most of the troops, part of 22 battalions, had crossed into the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, after massing at five different border points.
That is certainly a "division size" operation. (A division typically has some 12 fighting battalions plus assorted support battalions)
Posted by: b | Oct 22, 2011 1:13:19 AM | 7
I think NATO's involvement in Syria is dependent on two main factors; long term Geo-political strategy & interest in natural resources. Seems as through Altruism, is only used as an excuse for NATO to intervene anywhere.
Posted by: ben | Oct 22, 2011 10:32:13 AM | 8
I think your analysis here is just about correct, B. Chapeau!
I agree with Masoud though, that the Turks are probably reclibrating their position a bit. Over the last few months the AK has really bought heavily into a 'Sunni-ist' view of matters Syrian, without thinking hard enough about Turkey's state/national interest. Back in May, I was arguing that Ankara was ideally placed to mediate the negotiation (over governance reform-- NOT over the Feltmanesque goal of regime change) that Syria's people so desperately need... But then, the AK-ers got rather carried away with their support of the Gulf- and Feltman-backed Sunni agenda. Understandable, I suppose. But still, if Ankara really wants to have 'zero problems with its neighbors', this was a stupid move...
Posted by: Helena | Oct 23, 2011 9:40:50 PM | 9
over the Feltmanesque goal of regime change) that Syria's people so desperately need... But then, the AK-ers got rather carried away with their support of the Gulf- and Feltman-backed Sunni agenda. Understandable, I suppose. But still, if Ankara really wants to have 'zero problems with its neighbors', this was a stupid r rt
Posted by: esc turkey | Oct 24, 2011 3:53:30 PM | 10
#10, as i understand it you changed helena's meaning which was Ankara was ideally placed to mediate the negotiation (over governance reform-- NOT over the Feltmanesque goal of regime change) that Syria's people so desperately need
b, great post including the assassination of Tammo. couldn't quite decipher if you were snarking about "This even after having been shown evidence by U.S. emissaries." does anyone take that seriously? i would assume just as a matter of course the entire plot fiasco ( as it stands)would not be taken seriously by any rational player.
alexno New war with Turkey weakens Kurdish autonomy, and thus their chance of giving trouble to Arab Iraq. Against Israeli interests. And weakening to Kurdish independence.
take a look at the neocon new middle east map. requires a big chunk of turkey, syria and iran to make that happen. turkey is not going to just hand that over. any movement towards that map increases israeli interest and strengthens kurdish independence. while this particular agitation of kurdish terrorist action may appear to weaken it but if things break out in a regional conflict that brings in nato intervention this would be in the objective. coupled w/the assassination of tammo lighting a fire under syrian kurds this too inflames the chances for syrian/regional upheaval. regional upheaval is what the neocons do best.
Posted by: annie | Oct 25, 2011 12:33:04 AM | 11
also, what you term 'arab iraq' i suppose is the non kurdish iraqi gov factions which stood by and gave turkey the go ahead 3 years ago to attack the pkk (as i recall). there's not a lot of love lost between the pkk and the iraq gov. at least that is my understanding. don't forget turkish interests in kirkuk. turkey is not going to be happy about an independent sovereign region of kurdistan in iraq and neither is the iraqi government. that's my understanding anyway. plus, the peshmerga we're actively aligned w/US interests in the invasion, do they stop the pkk? not that i know of.
Posted by: annie | Oct 25, 2011 12:45:01 AM | 12
there is something weird about this poll.
look at the results for jordan and lebanon. i find this bizarre.
Posted by: annie | Oct 25, 2011 1:22:39 PM | 13
look at the results for jordan and lebanon. i find this bizarre.
No, not bizarre. who financed the poll? The Saudis? Okay ...
Posted by: b | Oct 25, 2011 3:18:30 PM | 14