Turkey as Confused as We Are by Syria
by Eric Margolis: Who
Won the Iraq War?
It’s dark and foggy here today along the mighty Bosphorus that separates
Europe and Asia. Just as murky and dangerous as exploding next-door
very successful "no problems" foreign policy crafted by
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutogolu buried old arguments with Syria,
Iran, and Lebanon and opened billions of new trade for Turkey’s
bustling exporters. Turkey’s red hot economy grew 7% last year
almost as fast as China.
But that was
before Libya, Syria and Egypt erupted. Turkey’s highly popular prime
minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was forced to take sides. Turkey
called for Egypt’s terminally ill pharaoh, Hosni Mubarak, to leave
office, but still kept its support with Egypt’s all-powerful army.
This was ironic since Erdogan had just waged a decade-long battle
to push Turkey’s bullying army out of politics.
Turkey reluctantly abandoned Libya’s Gadaffi, and old friend, with
whom Ankara was doing about $23 billion in trade, as a lost cause.
Erdogan’s response to Syria was similar: Erdogan insists the Assad
family must go and be replaced by a Turkish-style democracy tempered
with Islamic values of social welfare and justice.
Davutoglu just announced a new "Turkish-Egyptian axis,"
thus linking the region’s two most powerful, populous nations. Davutoglu,
citing an old Ottoman maxim said, "Turkey will be again placed
at the center of everything."
the US has been quietly shoring up Egypt’s large armed forces; the
Saudis just slipped $4 billion to Egypt’s military. The Saudis,
with Washington’s blessings, have reportedly promised Egypt tens
of billions – maybe even $60 billion more to keep democrats, nationalists,
Nasserites and the stodgy Muslim Brotherhood out of power.
in Istanbul wonder if Turkey is considering turning strife-torn
Syria into a sort of Turkish protectorate. Syria is plunging ever
near into civil war; a stabilizing force may be needed to sort it
out and hold it together. Iraq is also getting involved in Syria.
is confusing. It began a year ago when insurgent groups slipped
in from neighboring Lebanon. They were armed, supplied and trained
by the CIA, Britain’s MI6, and Israel’s Mossad. Their finances came
from the US Congress, which voted in the 1980’s to fund overthrowing
Syria’s Assad regime because of its antagonism to Israel and support
for Palestinians, and from the Saudis.
In the 1920’s,
a leading Zionist thinker, Vladimir Jabotinsky, proclaimed the Arab
world was a brittle mosaic of tribes and clans. A few sharp raps,
he predicted, would splinter the whole fragile mess and leave a
new Jewish state as paramount power of the Mideast and its oil.
He was thinking primarily of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.
Syrian groups of mercenaries, Assad-hating Lebanese fascists, and
CIA-cultivated anti-Assad exiles lit the fuse in Syria. Their attacks,
mainly along the Lebanese border, ignited resistance by long repressed
Sunni Muslim conservatives, bitter foes of the Assad’s Alawi-dominated
regime. Alawi – an offshoot of Iran’s Shia and Turkey’s Alevi –
tend to be poor, clannish and disliked by mainstream Sunni as heretics.
Many of Syria’s
smaller cities and towns have revolted, but not yet its large cities,
Damascus, Latakia and Aleppo but their vital economies are collapsing.
Syria has fragmented
along ethnic/religious grounds. Some of the Sunni majority, particularly
the powerful merchant class, still support Assad. So do Syria’s
ancient Christians, about 10% of the population. Like Iraq’s Saddam
Hussein, Syria’s Assad protected his nation’s Christian sects from
those fanatics who call Christians western-backed traitors or idol
numbers of restive Syrian Kurds with links to rebellious Kurds in
southwestern Turkey, where rebellion has simmered for decades and,
as I saw covering the conflict, left 40,000 died.
Syria is a
long-time ally of Iran. The Western powers and Israel are avid to
tear apart Syria, thus dealing a severe blow to not only Iran, but
Syria’s other allies, Lebanon’s Hezbullah and Palestine’s Hamas.
important, if Syria collapses, its highly strategic Golan Heights,
annexed by Israel since 1967, will remain unchallenged in Israel’s
hands. Golan is Israel’s primary source of ground water.
Syria will be a catastrophe for the central Mideast. But the US,
France, Israel and Britain are so blinded by their anti-Iran passion,
they are ready to destroy Syria to get at Great Satan Iranian. That’s
like burning down your house to get rid of mice.
him mail] is the author of War
at the Top of the World and the new book, American
Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the
West and the Muslim World. See his
© 2011 Eric Margolis
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