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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 11/6/15

Turkey Goes to War

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Reprinted from Counterpunch

Turkey soldiers
Turkey soldiers
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"ISIS threatens our way of life and security"We have plans to act militarily against them in the coming days. You will see." ~~ Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu

A landslide victory in Turkey's November 1 snap elections has removed the last obstacle in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's drive to war. The surprise outcome of the balloting, which was widely denounced as "unfair and marred by fear and violence by international election observers," has given Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) 49 percent of the vote restoring single-party rule in Ankara. Shortly after the election results were announced, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called on Turkey's political parties to scrap the existing constitution in order to grant President Erdogan nearly-limitless executive authority.

According to Turkey's Today's Zaman Davutoglu said, "I'm calling on all parties entering parliament to form a new civilian national constitution...Let's work together towards a Turkey where conflict, tension and polarisation are non-existent and everyone salutes each other in peace."

In other words, the balloting is being used to sabotage democracy and establish the supreme power of the president. Less than 24 hours after Erdogan had regained single-party control of the government, he reiterated Davutoglu's appeal for expanding presidential powers through a national referendum.

"An issue like the presidential system can't be decided without the nation," Erdogan told reporters at the press conference. "If the mechanism requires a referendum, then we will hold a referendum ... The executive presidency is not a question of our president's personal future. He has already entered the history books. The basic motivation is to make the system in Turkey as effective as possible."

So, according to Erdogan, the dictatorial powers of the president have already been established and the referendum is merely a formality.

Clearly, Erdogan wants to use the referendum to consolidate his power, establish one-man rule and terminate representative government in Turkey. He is a committed Islamist who wants to repeal democracy and create a Islamic regime that extends beyond Turkey's present borders into Iraq and Syria. This is why he has been such an enthusiastic supporter of the jihadi groups fighting in Syria.

More important, Erdogan intends to use his landslide victory to persuade the Military High Command that he has a popular mandate for his foreign policy, a policy that has amassed thousands of Turkish troops, armored vehicles and tanks on the Syrian border for a possible invasion. Up to now, the military has resisted Erdogan on this matter, but now that Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet zel, has been replaced as head of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) by the more compliant General Hulusi Akar, the plan to invade Syria and secure a so called "safety zone" along the Syrian side of the Turkish border, becomes much more probable.

The plan to annex sovereign Syrian territory and use it to launch attacks on the government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad dates back to 2012. In 2015, however, the strategy was expanded upon by Brookings analyst Michael E. O'Hanlon in a piece titled "Deconstructing Syria: A new strategy for America's most hopeless war." Here's an excerpt:

"...the only realistic path forward may be a plan that in effect deconstructs Syria...the international community should work to create pockets with more viable security and governance within Syria over time... The idea would be to help moderate elements establish reliable safe zones within Syria once they were able. American, as well as Saudi and Turkish and British and Jordanian and other Arab forces would act in support, not only from the air but eventually on the ground via special forces. ... Western forces themselves would remain in more secure positions in general -- within the safe zones but back from the front lines -- at least until the reliability of such defenses, and also local allied forces, made it practical to deploy and live in more forward locations.

"Creation of these sanctuaries would produce autonomous zones that would never again have to face the prospect of rule by either Assad ...The interim goal might be a confederal Syria, with several highly autonomous zones... The confederation would likely require support from an international peacekeeping make these zones defensible and governable...and to train and equip more recruits so that the zones could be stabilized and then gradually expanded." (Deconstructing Syria: A new strategy for America's most hopeless war, Michael E. O'Hanlon, Brookings Institute)

This is the Obama administration's basic blueprint for toppling Assad and reducing Syria into an ungovernable failed state run by regional warlords, renegade militias and Islamic extremists. US Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed our worst suspicions about this sinister plan in a speech he delivered to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace just last week. Here's part of what he said:

"In northern Syria, the coalition and its partners have pushed Daesh (ISIS) out of more than 17,000 square kilometers of territory, and we have secured the Turkish-Syrian border east of the Euphrates River. That's about 85 percent of the Turkish border, and the President is authorizing further activities to secure the rest...

"We're also enhancing our air campaign in order to help drive Daesh, which once dominated the Syria-Turkey border, out of the last 70-mile stretch that it controls." (U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on the Future of U.S. Policy in the Middle East, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

Repeat: "That's about 85 percent of the Turkish border, and the President is authorizing further activities to secure the rest."

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Mike is a freelance writer living in Washington state.

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