Sunday, 7 February 2016
Week Seventeen of the Russian Intervention in Syria: does Erdogan want war with Russia?
February 06, 2016
This article was written for the Unz Review
The situation with Turkey is rapidly getting out of control: not only have the Turks conducted artillery strikes across the Syrian border, Turkey has refused to comply with its obligations under the Open Skies Treaty and refused to let a Russian surveillance aircraft overfly Turkey. The Russian military has now declared that it had detected signs of Turkish preparations for an invasion. The Turkish refusal to abide by the Open Skies Treaty is an extremely worrisome development, especially when combined with the Russian warnings about the preparation for an invasion of Syria, and the Russians are not mincing their words:
There are plenty more indicators and warnings showing that an escalation is possible: the Geneva negotiations have been abruptly terminated, the Saudis are threatening to invade Syria and there are signs that the Syrian army is slowly but surely preparing an operation to liberate Aleppo from the Takfiris, creating a panic in Ankara and Riyadh (so much for the stupid notions that the Russians are not winning or that the Syrian military does not exist).
In the meantime, there are plenty of signs that Erdogan’s entire “grand plan” for Syria has completely collapsed that that he has no more options left (please read the excellent analysis by Ghassan Kadi on this topic posted today as well as Pepe Escobar’s take on the same issue).
I am not a psychic or a prophet. I cannot tell what Erdogan is really thinking, or whether the Turks will try to invade Syria. But what I can do is to try to make some educated guesses about possible Russian responses to such an event.
First, two basic principles:
In other words, Russia will retain a degree of flexibility to interpret the situation in one way or another. That, in turn, means that much will depend on what the Turks really try achieve.
If we are talking about the typical Turkish violation of a national border to attack the Kurds, like what they did many times in the past already, and if that intervention is limited in depth, Russia will probably chose non-military means to put pressure on Turkey. Again, while the crazies in Turkey badly want a war with Russia to internationalize the conflict and force NATO to intervene, the Russians have no interest at all in such an escalation. Just as in the Donbass, the West is trying to bait Russia into a war and Russia is refusing to take that bait. The problem is that unlike the Ukronazis, the Turks have a much more powerful military machine which the Russian cannot ignore like they have ignored the Ukronazi military and various death squads. So if Erdogan’s goal is just to look macho and flex some muscle, say like what Reagan did in Grenada, then he can probably get away with it, at least for a short operation. But if Erdogan is dead set in having a conflict with Russia, the Russian won’t be able to just hunker down and wait for him to calm down.
In the latter case, Russia will have a number of escalatory options.
The first obvious options is to help the Syrians and Kurds with intelligence. This is already taking place now and will only intensify in the case of a Turkish invasion.
The second is to shoot Turkish fixed or rotary-wing aircraft out of the skies. This is an easy option as the Syrians already have some pretty good air defense systems (including some Pantsir-S1, Buk-M1/2E, Tunguskas 2K22 and a fairly robust early-warning system) and a few more or less capable aircraft (possibly including upgraded MiG-29s). The Kremlin can thus enjoy a degree of what the CIA called “plausible deniability”.
The third option for Russia is to help the Syrians with the artillery system she reportedly deployed in the country including 152-millimeter MTSA-B guns, BM-27 Uragan and BM-30 Smerch rocket launchers.
All these options would still fall short of a “full-scale” war between Russia and Turkey. But if Erdogan is determined to escalate further then a war will be inevitable. If Turkey tries to attack Khmeimim directly, then Russia will strike back, no doubt about it.
What could it look like?
The first thing I would say is that neither country will try to invade the other one. The notion of Turkey invading Russia is self-evidently ludicrous, but while Turkey does fall within the 1000km depth the Russian military is trained to fight in, I don’t believe that Russia would ever attempt this. For one thing, and just as was the case with Georgia, nobody in Russia really believes that the Turks, as a nation, want war. If anything, Erdogan is much more of a “Saakashvili v2″ than a Hitler and he will be dealt with similarly. Furthermore, while during the 08.08.08 war Russia had to protect the Ossetians from the quasi-genocidal Georgians, Russia has no such obligations in Kurdistan.
What about the Saudis? Well, what about them? They can’t even deal with the Houthis in Yemen, why would anyone think that they could make a difference in Syria? The Saudi military is a joke, a degenerate repression force barely capable of engaging in anti-Shia repression operations. They can make all the threats they want, but if they try to move into Syria the Syrians, Russians, Iranians and Hezbollah will all try to race each other to be the first one to finally get a hold of these SOBs in teach them a lesson they shall not forget in a long time.
And maybe I am naive, but I want to believe that the Turkish people are not going to just sit back and do nothing while their leader is dragging their country towards a war with Russia.
obscurantism, superstition, wishful thinking on the part of a “resentful Greek”, religious gobbledygook etc. But please keep in mind that between the 15th and the 20th century, Russia and Turkey have already fought 12 wars (!). That over 2 wars (2.4 exactly) per century and that the last one happened a century ago.
So whether you look at prophecies, past experience or statistics, things look very, very scary, at least to me. And, as Ghassan Kadi and Pepe Escobar have explained, Erdogan is now cornered. That also makes him very dangerous.
The AngloZionists are experts at unleashing crazed ideologues (Wahabis in the Middle-East and Nazis in the Ukraine) but that they always seem to eventually somehow lose control over them. I just hope that the American ‘cover’ of the Turkish regime did not result in the unleashing of yet another rabid ideology – Ottoman Imperialism – or, if it has, that it is not too late for the US to rein in this lunatic before it is too late.
Erdogan and his regime are a threat to regional and even world piece. I don’t really care who removes him, the Turkish people or the White House, but I sure hope that his days in power are numbered because as long as he is in power a catastrophe of major proportions can happen.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian