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What is Erdogan's Game in Syria and Iraq?

By       Message Pepe Escobar       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   8 comments

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Reprinted from Sputnik

From flickr.com/photos/121483302@N02/14359028808/: Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
(Image by theglobalpanorama)
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The -- predictable -- reaction across the West over the Russian Defense Ministry's very serious denunciation of Ankara embedded with ISIS/ISIL/Daesh still begs to be regarded as no less than astonishing.
The actual evidence is not even discussed by Western corporate media. It's all dismissed as "Russia claims..." Yet not only Sultan Erdogan has been systematically unmasked as a serial liar; the accumulating evidence points to Ankara both as an indirect ally and shady sponsor of the fake "Caliphate."
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Whatever the Atlanticists can come up with to "excuse" the Erdogan system, at least the devastating PR debacle for the "democratic West" is now a fact of life all across the Global South.

At the same time an elaborate shadow play is in progress. NATO issues non-denial denials -- after all it can never back off from its usual "Russian aggression" meme -- while the Obama administration, predictably, wallows in doublethink; Turkey may not "support" ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, but Turkey must seal the border with Syria anyway.

Sultan of Divide and Rule

Since Gezi Park it's clear the AKP model for Turkey has derailed into a Sultanate dictatorship with a slight electoral veneer. Divide and Rule is the norm.

Sultan Erdogan's bete noire, internally, is the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). Erdogan wants Kurds -- a substantial 20% of the overall population -- to choose between the AKP's Islamist take on Turkish nationalism and the HDP's Kurdish nationalism with a leftist feel. He's playing Kurds against Turks no holds barred.

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South of the border, Erdogan actively supports Salafi "moderate rebels," especially his fifth column Turkmen, heavily infiltrated by Turkish fascists of the Grey Wolves kind, in northwest Syria. But Ankara is clever enough not to -- directly -- support ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. Turkmen have struck de facto alliances with Jabhat al-Nusra, a.k.a. al-Qaeda in Syria. NATO covers Erdogan's back.

Russia's entrance with -- literally -- a bang in the Syrian war theatre blew up Erdogan strategys to smithereens. Couple that with the Obama administration's penchant to support Kurds across "Syraq."

The only thing Erdogan wants from NATO is a "safe zone" -- an euphemism for a no-fly zone that Ankara will use to prevent YPG Syrian Kurds from unifying their three cantons along the Turkish-Syrian border. For Erdogan, the prospect of Kurds preventing Turks from providing logistical bases and weapons to the whole Jabhat al-Nusra galaxy, and of course ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, is anathema.

So Erdogan had been using the Turkmen against the YPG. Russia went for the jugular. And the Sultan, predictably, went bonkers.

Russia's strategy -- coordinated with the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) -- will only intensify. The priority is to completely rout Turkmen and al-Nusra all across the Bayirbucak region. Two objectives are crucial. 1) to secure Latakia and thus Russia's Hmeymim air base, and 2) to get rid of the Chechens, Uzbeks and Uyghurs infiltrated among the Turkmen (crucial for Moscow, aware of the "900 km from Aleppo to Grozny" syndrome, and also for China.)

As for the notion that Erdogan will now abandon his Turkmen strategy and start fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, that's a myth. Erdogan will never accept the American support for the YPG. The thing is there's not much he can do about it.

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Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia (more...)
 

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