Turkey Plays NATO Attack Dog, Risks Future

Choosing Hegemony: Turkey, NATO and the Path to War

Eric Draitser


August 1, 2012

As the destabilization of Syria has evolved over
the course of the last year and a half, what has become apparent to
political observers is the seeming incongruity of Turkey’s role in the
region.  While Ankara has attempted in recent years to establish itself
as a force for political and economic change and progress, it has also
assumed the role of a NATO attack dog, becoming a crucial weapon in the
arsenal of the Western imperialists.  While Turkey’s actions in Syria,
in particular the sponsorship and coordination of terrorists,
must be vigorously condemned, it is also important to note the
geopolitical and economic issues at stake for Turkey.  In doing so,
those of us around the world who reject imperialist meddling and
destabilization, who stand in opposition to Western hegemony and proxy
states, must help push Turkey back onto the path of peace and progress.

Turkey’s Role in Syria

Anyone who has followed the evolution of the
imperialist aggression against Syria has undoubtedly noted the insidious
role that Turkey has played.  From a diplomatic perspective, Ankara has
led the charge in demonizing the Assad regime,
saying that it “stands against the will of the Syrian people” and is
“killing its own people.”  However, the reality is that Turkey, along
with its collaborators in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Lebanon and elsewhere,
have done more to fan the flames of violence and instability than the
Assad regime ever could.

First and foremost, one must examine the overt sponsorship and hosting of international terrorists on Turkish soil.  As Reuters and other news outlets reported last week, Turkey has been operating a terrorist base in Adana, in the vicinity of US-NATO’s base at Incirlik
It is from this base (and others, to be sure) that many of the
terrorists have been funneled into Syria.  Moreover, these terrorists
are not strictly Syrians trying to destabilize their own country.  In
fact, the majority of those operating from the Turkish base are from
Libya, Chechnya, Qatar, and elsewhere.  Essentially then, it is clear
that, at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, under the command and
control of the Turkish military and intelligence apparatus, the
destabilization of Syria has been led.  So, it would be fair to say that
Turkey has been at the forefront of the attack on its neighbor, acting
as a willing partner of NATO, complicit in countless horrendous war
crimes perpetrated against the people of Syria.

Hosting and operating terror networks is not the
only way in which Ankara has played an instrumental role in exacerbating
the conflict.  In an article entitled “War at Any Cost: Another Manufactured Pretext for War with Syria”,
I analyzed the way in which the Erdogan government attempted to use the
downing of one of its jets as a legitimization of war against its
neighbor.  In the ensuing weeks, and after careful investigation, it has
become clear that, at the very least, the Turkish jet had violated
Syrian airspace and that the military acted within the confines of
international law in their response.  It was the rhetoric of Erdogan,
Davotoglu and others that was more instructive however.  In the
aftermath of this event, Erdogan threatened military action against Syria,
claiming that the military might pose a threat.  Of course, this should
be taken to mean that Turkey would have taken upon itself the right to
interpret the military of a sovereign state acting within its own
borders as a threat, a clear violation of the principles of
international relations and law.  Essentially, the entire episode with
the downing of the jet demonstrated the fact that Erdogan and Co. were
willing to allow themselves to be used as NATO’s dagger against Assad.

One integral element of the destabilization
campaign has been the use of foreign “diplomatic” entities, primarily
the so-called Syrian National Council to act as the ostensible voice of
the opposition, while in fact being the mouthpiece of US-NATO. The SNC,
led by foundation-funded Western proxies such as Bassma Kodmani,
advocates regime change in Syria and supports the loose collection of
terror groups and death squads operating under the moniker of the “Free
Syrian Army” (FSA).  The Council has been hosted by Turkey, receiving
financial and diplomatic support from Ankara.  This dubious entity has
failed to unite the opposition, its one US-NATO delegated task, and has
instead become a lightning rod for criticism from much of the
international community.  It has become clear in recent months that the
SNC is, in fact, composed of a number of factions including the Muslim
Brotherhood, which has been implicated in weapons smuggling along the Syria-Turkey border in tandem with the CIA
In addition, the SNC and their Turkish hosts have attempted to foment
chaos in Syria using discontented Kurdish elements, many of whom view
the SNC and the dismantling of the Syrian state as a prelude to Kurdish
independence. Essentially, the Syrian National Council (and, to a lesser
degree, the Free Syrian Army) could not exist were it not for overt
support, both financial and diplomatic, of the Turkish government.

What the Turkish government has called “support for
the Syrian people” has, in fact, become support for international
terror networks.  It is now public knowledge that Al Qaeda is operating
on Turkish soil near the Syrian border, using Turkey as a safe haven and
command center from which to launch incursions into Syria.  As Tony Cartalucci points out however, this trend is nothing new.  Cartalucci points to the famous New Yorker article by Seymour Hersh entitled “The Redirection”, in which Hersh states:

“To undermine Iran,
which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has  decided, in
effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon,
the  Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which
is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken
Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has
also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally
Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni
extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are
hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”

Here we see the complicity of the United States and
its proxies in the region in organizing and unleashing Al Qaeda as a
weapon against its enemies.  Turkey has merely allowed itself to be made
into a staging ground for this type of destabilization, precisely what
the Assad regime has argued since the beginning of the conflict.  Aside
from Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and other terror networks have been mobilized in Turkey
in order to smash the Syrian state.  The attempt was to topple the
Assad regime and put, in its place, a government more amenable to US
designs for a new Arab World, one that would be subservient to Western
imperialism for another half century.  What has taken place however, has
been quite the opposite.  Instead of destroying Syria and the regime in
Damascus, it is the terrorists and their handlers in Ankara, Riyadh,
and Washington who have had to backpedal as Damascus has executed a
successful counter-terrorism strategy and maintained control of the

Geopolitics and Rationalizing the Subversion

Many times since the destabilization of Syria
began, keen political observers have wondered what Turkey hopes to gain
from fomenting chaos over the border.  In addressing this perplexing
question, one begins to gain insight into more than Turkey’s reasons for
doing so; one begins to explore the Turkish mindset.  For years, Turkey
has maintained a “Zero Problems” policy with its neighbors, essentially
preferring to have relations with all regional players, from Israel to
Syria and Iran.  However, as the NY Times points out,
this strategy has changed in recent years, particularly under the
leadership of Erdogan and current Foreign Minister Davutoglu.  With them
at the helm, Turkey has instead chosen to allow itself to become NATO’s
enforcer, doing the dirty work of imperialism including diplomatic
attacks, terrorism, and countless other equally horrendous forms of
subversion.  In doing so, the ruling establishment in Ankara has bought
into NATO’s insidious tenets of hegemony and domination.

The Turkish government seems to have succumbed to a
form of hubris or, as some might argue, the hysteria of power. 
Erdogan, Davutoglu and others have chosen to try to make Turkey into a
regional hegemon capable of dominating its neighbors economically,
politically, and militarily.  However, what they seem to have failed to
realize is that Turkey itself is a fragile state, created less than a
century ago and comprised of a number of ethnic groups at odds with each
other.  As author and historian Webster Tarpley has pointed out,
“Turkey has been bought off by the Anglo-American elite and created a
situation where the risk and possible rewards are entirely out of
proportion.”  Indeed, it would seem that the ruling establishment in
Ankara has made the proverbial “deal with the devil”, eschewing the
rational and sound “zero problems” policy in favor of an “endless
problems” policy espoused by NATO and its masters on Wall St. and in

Playing a Dangerous Game

Turkey is risking quite a lot in attempting to
destroy the Assad regime and, with it, the Syrian state.  First and
foremost is the immediate blowback from the destruction of its
neighbor.  Undoubtedly, the Kurdish minority in Turkey, which makes up
more than a quarter of the total population, will then become more
difficult to manage, uniting with their Syrian cousins and beginning to
cause unrest inside Turkey which has, for decades, been fighting a
perpetual separatist movement in the Kurdish areas.  The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)
has been engaged in terrorist activities in Turkey for years and, with
the destruction of Syria, would likely emerge as a much more immediate
threat to the safety and security of Turkey.  Essentially then, Turkey’s
destabilization of Syria would, quite predictably, grow to destabilize
Turkey itself.

Secondly, Turkey risks very lucrative and
long-standing economic ties with Russia and China. Because of their
belligerent position vis-à-vis Syria, Turkey might jeopardize precisely
those relations which stand to benefit its economy and people most. 
With regard to Russia, Turkey has important development deals that must
be understood.  Most prominent among these is the proposed Mersin Akkuyu nuclear power deal signed by Moscow and Ankara worth upwards of $20 billion
This represents the largest single Russian investment anywhere outside
of the Russian Federation.  Moreover, this deal would move Turkey
forward in the fields of energy production and high technology, both of
which are crucial for the maintenance and building of an advanced
economy in the 21st Century.  Likewise, the South Stream Pipeline,
long seen as integral to the economic futures of both Russia and
Turkey, could be in jeopardy.  Additionally, the establishment of the
High Level Cooperation Council (UDIK) under Medvedev sought to bring
together the diplomatic and political leadership of the two countries to
jointly work toward building a common economic destiny
This could be the beginning of tremendous economic and geopolitical
progress for Russia and Turkey, progress which is likely to be stymied
by Ankara’s incomprehensible folly in Syria.

Lastly, Turkey continues to look towards membership
in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), dominated by Russia and
China.  Because of the economic crisis in Europe and cloudy future of
the EU more generally, Turkey has put the brakes on possible full
integration with Europe and, instead, chosen to focus on the SCO.  Just this week, Erdogan explained that his country is looking more and more to integration into the SCO instead of the EU
Naturally, Moscow and Beijing will not allow a NATO attack dog state
into the SCO and so, as with many other issues, Turkey risks their
opportunity to integrate themselves into the “developing world” of the
BRICS and SCO solely because they’ve allowed themselves to be hoodwinked

Turkey would do well to look at its own past to
find the wisdom that will light the path back to a sound foreign policy,
back to progress and reason.  Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey
once said, “Unless a nation’s life faces peril, war is murder.”  The
truth and meaning of this statement must not be underestimated.  In
fact, Turkey had to learn the hard way that the path to progress is
fraught with challenges; that notions of empire and hegemony must be
shed in order to better the lives of the people.  In this case, we must
think not only of the lives of Turkish people, but of Syrians as well
and, for that matter, all people of the world.  In so doing, it is
important to remember that no good can come to Turkey or the region if
they continue down the path of subversion, terrorism, and destruction in
Syria.  As Ataturk famously said, “Peace at home, peace in the world.”
Hopefully, these words are not entirely forgotten in Turkey today.