Turkey: From Iraq to Syria – Bülent Kale

This article is translated from the Turkish original “Türkiye: Irak’tan Suriye’ye” by Bülent Kale, published in Bianet‘s Turkish website on 5 July 2012.


Nine years ago in 2003, when Turkey applied to NATO in accordance with Article 4 before the Iraq Occupation; NATO sent five Patriot air defense systems and three AWACS aircrafts to Turkey in order to provide defense against “Iraq’s non-existent chemical weapons”.

At that time, the relations were not as good as today. NATO played hard to give these systems, and even then gave them temporarily. In any case, the Turkish Parliament ended up not giving permission to 40.000 US soldiers passing through Turkey.

Rumors said that the Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan let the MPs loose and the negative answer coming from the parliament was a shock to everyone including the governing party, but the parliament was “people’s will”. There is another rumor. According to this version, the bargaining didn’t go well. Turkey demanded 25 million dollars for 40.000 American troops for passing through Turkey to enter Iraq, the US did not accept, and in the end the US had find other ways. You know the rest of the story: Bags, scenes, incidents…

In fine, a lot of water has flowed beneath the bridge. Once submissively watched its foundation, the Kurdish Autonomous Region has today become Turkey’s biggest trade partner. And Turkey is not anymore a passive country to let soldiers pass through its land, but a strategical partner.

If this is what is understood by development; yes, Turkey has developed quite a lot.

Because now, they don’t need to send missile defense systems to Turkey; paramount systems had just placed to Kürecik last summer when the partnership agreement was declared. And in connection to that; the central control station of the missile defense systems, the Monterrey US battleship, anchored to Iskenderun; the predators were deployed to Incirlik and are not working towards Syria and not towards PKK; the ties with Iran were broken; unlimited air operations were allowed to Kandil; Roj TV was closed down; Abdullah Öcalan is under segregation since one year; the oppression of the Kurdish has gone wild; and Turkey does not care at all about any kind of foreign pressure…

You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours. The power elite are in action for dirty business for Syrian people’s democratic demands as well as the Kurdish people’s basic rights.

Let us come to the point. No one actually showed interest as to how the aircraft was shot down in Syria. Even the Wall Street Journal news item was nothing but a warning to Turkey. NATO made a statement without bothering to ask what has happened: “The allied forces will follow this incident very closely, if it is repeated, NATO will take action.” After this statement, Turkey made the following statement: “Turkey will take the necessary steps to implement its rights coming from international law against this injustice, and will decide the place, time and method by itself.”

And this more or less means the following: Turkey, the only NATO member which has a border to Syria, declared publicly that it accepts the offer. Turkey will go first and wait with fingers at the trigger. Meanwhile, “The Friends of Syria” will work for no-flight zones, buffer zones, and an operation permission from the UN. When the US-NATO give the sign, a preplanned friction will occur. Islamist militia supported (by air force and by rear guard support) by Turkey and NATO will gain grounds. This is how it looks on paper. Yet we never know how it will turn out in reality. Plans don’t work out as in the Phantom story. Something happens, and you can’t find NATO on your back. You end up with a society in front of you, who has no other option than fighting till death.

There are many things to say but these two developments – the Geneva meeting of the war merchants and the Cairo meeting of the political beggars – once again underlined an important point: The structures that are promoted to us as Syrian National Council and Free Syrian Army are a total mess not promising any trust even for their supporters.

Despite all the make-up and presentation, despite all the strategical, economical and media supports; they are incorrigibly fragmented. They are much more dispersed than they seem. This means: It seems impossible for Syria to remain as a single country if Assad falls.

And Turkey’s calculation – together with many other calculations – is not to watch this breaking-up as in the case of Iraq but be an active participant of it. It says “It is not enough to ignore the Kurds in Turkey and deny their basic human rights; we should ignore the Kurds in Syria and deny their rights too.” It says “We cannot allow another Kurdish Autonomous Region in Syria after Iraq.”

Turkey is excited, Turkey does not want to remain passive, Turkey wants to manipulate regional developments for its benefits. It supports, directs and manipulates the Syrian National Council. It hosts, trains and arms the Free Syrian Army. What is Turkey doing? Let us have a look at the conjuncture:

Much blood was shed. After nine years, the Iraq invasion accounted for the death of more than 1 million people. Iraq is not liberated, neither is it democratized. The US, with blood up to its neck, abandoned the country in 2012. Why did it leave, actually? Seeing that the next target was Syria, why did the US leave Iraq and gave the leading role to Turkey?

The US, the servant of benevolence and peace, changed its war strategy. The US soldiers in Iraq were cleared up. The 90.000 soldiers in Afghanistan are to be reduced to 20.000 by 2014. From now on, it will distribute benevolence and peace via unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

These UAVs can be launched from nearby bases, controlled from really far away, and they can see and shoot the target. There are subcontractor armies that are quite willing to do the job of the 40.000 US soldiers for much cheaper. There are huge Muslim masses, who are of no use but to fight and die but could be trained to do these.

And most importantly, there is a neoliberal system where money is valued and respected much more than humankind.

Ege M. Diren

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