When they took power in Ankara in 2003, the Islamist party AKP modified Turkey’s strategic priorities. Rather than using reports on the post-« Desert Storm » balance of power, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan harboured the ambition of freeing his country from the isolation it has known since the end of the Ottoman Empire. Based on analyses provided by his advisor, Professor Ahmet Davutoğlu, he advocated solving century-old problems with Turkey’s neighbours, and becoming progressively the inevitable regional mediator. In order to do so, Turkey had to become a political model and build relations with his Arab partners, without losing its alliance with Israël.
This policy, known as « zero problem », began sucessfully at first.Ankara no longer feared Damascus and its support for the PKK, and also asked Syria for help in negotiating an exit. In October 2006, the Kurdish party declared a unilateral truce and began negotiations with the Erdoğan government. In May 2008, Ankara organised indirect negotiations between Damascus and Tel-Aviv, the first talks since Ehud Barack’s rejection of the Bill Clinton / Hafez el-Assad plan. But President Bachar el-Assad withdrew from the discussions after Israël attacked Gaza in December 2009.
Realising that because of the Palestinian conflict, it was impossible to maintain good relations with all the states in the region, Ankara chose to support the Palestinians against Israël. This was the period of the Davos and Freedom Flotilla episodes. Backed by vast popular support in the Muslim world, Ankara approached Teheran and accepted, in November 2010, to participate in a Turkey-Iran-Iraq-Syria common market. Visas were repealed ; the rights of the Customs were considerably reduced ; a consortium was created to manage the oil and gas pipe-lines ; an authority was created to enable the management of water ressources. The overall structure looked so inviting that Lebanon and Jordan presented their candidacy. Sustainable peace seemed possible for the Levant.
When, in 2011, the United Kingdom and France launched a double war against Libya and Syria, at the request and under the control of the United States, Turkey quite logically opposed it. These wars, launched on the pretext of protecting the populations, were far too evidently neo-colonial strategies. Besides, they damaged Turkish interests, since Libya was one of its main economic partners and Syria had become one by way of the new regional common market.
That’s when everything collapsed…
How France caused the collapse of Turkey
In March 2011, on the initiative of the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alain Juppé, Paris secretly proposed to support Ankara’s candidacy to the European Union and help it solve its Kurdish problem if Turkey would join France in its war against Libya and Syria. From the French point of view, this was a radically new proposition, since during the period he led the Gaullist party and was a collaborator of Jacques Chirac, Alain Juppé had been firmly opposed to the entry of Turkey into the Union. But, condemned for corruption in France, he had exiled himself to America in 2005 and taught classes in Québec while at the same time following a course at the Pentagon. Converted to neo-conservatism, he returned to France and was chosen by Nicolas Sarkozy as Minister for Defence, then for Foreign Affairs.
Retrospectively, the Juppé plan revealed French intentions : they concerned the creation of a Kurdistan in Iraq and Syria, according to the map which was published two years later by Robin Wright in the New York Times, and was implemented conjointly by the Islamic Emirate, the Regional Government of Iraqi Kurdistan and some ex-collaborators of Saddam Hussein linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. The document, co-signed by Alain Juppé and his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoğlu, leaves no doubt : France intended to reconstitute a colonial empire in Syria. Moreover, it had connections within the Islamist terrorist movements and anticipated the creation of Daesh. In order to guarantee the Juppé plan, Qatar agreed to make massive investments in eastern Turkey, hoping that the Turkish Kurds would then abandon the PKK.
This plan has remained secret until today. If the French and Turkish parlementaries could manage to legally obtain a copy, it would amply suffice to bring Messrs. Juppé and Davutoğlu before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.
Contrary to a popular notion, the Kurds are deeply divided. In Turkey and Syria, the PKK, originally a Marxist-Leninist party, has always defended the anti-imperialist point of view. While the Iraqi Kurds, linked with Israël since the Cold War, have always been the allies of the United States. The two groups do not speak the same language and have very different histories.
It is probable that, from their side, the United States would sweeten the dowry by promoting the Turkish political model in the Arab world, and helping the AKP to take charge of the political parties born of the Muslim Brotherhood, so that Turkey would become the centre of the next Middle East. In any case, and in extremis, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan supported NATO’s project, which took over from AfriCom after the revolt of its commander .
Immediately, Ankara mobilised the citizens of Misrata in Libya. These are mostly the descendants of the Jewish soldiers of the Ottoman Empire, the Adghams, and the nomadic merchants descended from black slaves, the Muntasirs, who had supported the Young Turks. They formed the only significant Libyan group capable of attacking Tripoli .
Simultaneously, Ankara organised several meetings of the Syrian opposition in Istanbul, from August 2011. Finally, the Muslim Brotherhood constituted the Syrian National Council in October, associating representatives from the diverse political and minority groups.
NATO renounces the invasion of Syria
Watching NATO’s implication in Libya, Ankara was logically counting on an identical implication by NATO in Syria. But despite a large number of terrorist attacks and an unflagging international Press campaign, it proved impossible to both inflame the population and attribute mass crimes to President el-Assad in a credible manner. Above all, Moscow and Bejing, angered by the Libyan affair, opposed any Security Council resolution pretending to « protect » the Syrians from their own government (October 2011, February and July 2012).
Washington and London abandoned the game, even though Paris and Ankara continued to believe in it . The two states developed close collaboration, which went as far, in September 2012, as planning the assassination of the Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Walid al-Mouallem, and President Bachar el-Assad.
The terrorist attack in Riyadh, a response to the assassination of members of the Syrian National Security Council, seriously wounded Prince Bandar ben Sultan in July 2012, and left the international jihadist movement orphaned. Even though the prince survived his wounds, he only left hospital a year later, and was never again able to assume the role he had played until then. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan seized the occasion to replace him. He opened personal relations with Yasin al-Qadi, the banker for al-Qaïda, whom he received in secret several times in Ankara. He supervised a number of jihadist groups, initially created by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France.
In January 2013, by intervening in Mali, France distanced itself from the Syrian jihadists, thus leaving on-the-ground military operations to Turkey, even if it left a few legionnaires in place. Shortly afterwards, the Emir of Qatar, cheikh Ahmad, was obliged to abdicate by Washington, which blamed him – after denunciation by Russia – for operating in a way that was damaging to United States economic interests. Even before his son, cheikh Tamim, succeeded him, the greater part of the financing of the war against Syria was being handled by Saudi Arabia.
In order to benefit from this support, and that of Israël, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan began to promise anyone who was listening that the United States were going to ignore the Russian and Chinese vetos and launch NATO in an assault against Damascus. Profiting from the confusion, he organised the pillage of Syria, dismantled all the factories in Aleppo, the economic capital, and stole the machine-tools. Similarly, he organised the theft of archeological treasures and set up an international market in Antioch . Still apparently unaware of the consequences, with the help of General Benoît Puga, Chief of Staff for the Elysée, he organised a false-flag operation intended to provoke the launching of a war by the Atlantic Alliance – the chemical bombing of la Ghoutta in Damascus, in August 2013. But London immediately uncovered the manipulation and refused to engage .
Turkey participated in the operation of ethnic cleansing and partition of Iraq and Syria, known as the « Wright plan ». The presence of the Turkish secret services in the preparatory meetings for Daesh in Amman is verified by the publication of a record of decisions by the PKK. Moreover, the « Wright plan » is a copy of the « Juppé plan », which convinced Turkey to go to war. Following this, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan himself took command of the terrorist organisation, ensuring at the same time its arms supply and the sale of its petrol.
Anxiously observing the talks between Washington and Teheran, Ankara feared a peace agreement which would leave it powerless. Solicited by his Russian opposite number, Vladimir Putin, Mr. Erdoğan accepted to participate in the gas pipe-line project Turkish Stream, intended to break the US monopoly and avoid the European embargo. Then, racking up his courage, he went to see his Iranian opposite number, cheikh Hassan Rohani, who assured him that he had nothing to fear from the agreement which was then being developed. But as soon as it was signed, on the 14th July 2015, it was apparent that it left no room for Turkey in the region.
Without surprise, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received, on the 24th July, an ultimatum from President Obama, requiring him to
- immediately renounce the Russian gas pipe-line project ;
cease his support of Daesh – of which he had become the excutive chief behind the screen of calife Abou Bakr al-Baghdadi – and go to war with them.
Applying even greater pressure, Barack Obama evoked the possibility of excluding Turkey from NATO, with the concertation of the United Kingdom, even though this situation is not mentioned in the Treaty.
After having begged pardon and authorised the United States and NATO to use the the military base at Incirlik against Daesh, Mr. Erdoğan made contact with the special emissary for the Anti-Daesh Coalition, General John Allen, known for his opposition to the agreement with Iran. The two men agreed to interpret President Obama’s remarks as an encouragement to fight terrorism, a heading under which they listed the PKK. Exceeding his functions, the General promised to create a « no-fly zone » ninety miles wide, over Syrian territory, along the whole border with Turkey, supposedly intended to help Syrian refugees fleeing from their government, but in reality to apply the « Juppé-Wright plan ». The Turkish Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, revealed US support for the project on the TV channel A Haber by launching a bombing raid against the PKK.
General John Allen had twice succeeded in prolonging the war against Syria. In June 2012, he plotted with General David Petraeus and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to sabotage the Geneva agreement between Washington and Moscow for peace in the Near East. This agreement called, amongst other things, for peace in Syria – even though Damascus had not been invited to the conference – but this was considered inacceptable by both the US neo-conservatives and the US « liberal hawks ». The trio Clinton-Allen-Petraeus counted on the new French President, François Hollande, and his new Minister for Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, to convene a conference of the « Friends of Syria » and reject the Geneva Agreement. Since he was in the heat of an election campaign, President Obama could not sanction his collaborators, but the day following his election, he had David Petraeus and John Allen arrested, victims of a sexual trap. Hillary Clinton stayed on for a few weeks, but then suddenly retired after an « accident ». Finally, only Petraeus was found guilty, while Allen was whitewashed and Clinton – like Juppé – began preparations for the next Presidential election campaign.
The trio Clinton-Allen-Petraeus staged a second operation in December 2014 which managed to disrupt the Moscow Conference. By promising the Muslim Brotherhood that they would implement the « Juppé-Wright plan », they convinced the Syrian National Coalition to refuse any disscussions on peace. Incidentally, this episode attests to the fact that the aim of the Syrian National Coalition is not regime change in Syria but the destruction of the country and its state.
Learning the facts during his journey to Africa, President Obama officially denied the engagement of General Allen, recognised Turkey’s right to fight the PKK, but denounced any action against it outside of Turkey. President Erdoğan then called for a meeting of the Atlantic Council to inform them of his entry into the Anti-Terrorist Coalition and his double action against Daesh and the PKK. On the 29th July, the Allies coldly replied that they supported his action, but did not recognise his right to bombard the PKK in Iraq and Syria except in cases of « pursuit » – in other words, if the PKK used bases in other countries to manage troop movements against Turkey.
Moreover, President Obama has relieved Daniel Rubinstein of his functions as Special Envoy to Syria, and replaced him with Michael Ratney, a specialist of both the Near East and communications. His main task will be to keep an eye on General Allen.
Turkey enters into civil war
Presently, the actions of the Turkish army against the PKK in Iraq and Syria have no legal justification in international law. Both governments have denounced attacks on their territory. From the US pont of view, the PKK and the Syrian Arab Army – in other words, the army of the Republic – are the only ground forces capable of confronting Daesh. The resumption of the war against the Kurdish minority illustrates the AKP’s desire to continue the implementation of the « Juppé-Wright plan », even after the partial withdrawal of Qatar and France.
However, one fundamental element has profoundly changed the game : Israël and Saudi Arabia, who not so long ago supported the idea of creating a Kurdistan and a Sunnistan in Iraq and Syria, are now opposed to it. Tel-Aviv and Riyadh now understand that these two new states, if they come to be, will not be controlled by them, but by a Turkey which is no longer hiding its imperial ambitions, and will become a de facto regional giant.
By one of those turn-arounds of which the Near East has the secret, Israël and Saudi Arabia have reached an agreement in order to oppose President Erdoğan’s folly, and also, surreptitiously, to help the PKK, despite its Marxist identity. Furthermore, Israël has already contacted the traditional enemies of Turkey, Alexis Tsípras’ Greece, and Níkos Anastasiádis’ Cyprus.
Let there be no mistake – Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has chosen civil war as his only political exit. After losing the general election and managing to block the creation of a new government, he is now trying to scare his own people into convincing the MHP (nationalists) to support the AKP (Islamists) and form a coalition government, or call another round of general elections – and win.
The anti-terrorist operation which was intended to fight both Daesh and the Kurdish population is aimed almost exclusively at the PKK and the PYG (its Syrian alter ego). The bombings which were supposedly aimed at the Islamic Emirate destroyed nothing. At the same time, Mr. Erdoğan has begun judicial enquiries against the Kurdish leaders of the HPD, Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ. For a start, the prosecution accuses them of having called for violence against non-Kurds – which is ridiculous – and secondly, of supporting the PYG, the militia of the Syrian Arab Republic and therefore, according to the magistrate, a terrorist organisation.
The civil war which is beginning will not be the same as in the 1990’s. It will be far more wide-ranging and murderous. Partly because Turkey has not one ally left outside its boundaries, and partly because the government’s Islamist policies have divided its own society. Thus there will not be Turkish institutions supported by NATO on one side and Syrian-backed PKK on the other – but a fragmentation of Turkish society – secular against Islamist ; modern against traditionalist ; Alevis against Sunnites ; Kurds against Turks.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.