Turkey Threatens Retaliation against Russia and Syria if they attack Al Qaeda in Syria’s Idlib Province

ER Editor: Readers may be interested in this Al Jazeera piece of 2 days ago, titled Turkey bolsters Idlib outposts as Syrian gov’t forces make gains. Of note:

Turkey has sent nearly 150 vehicles with commandos and ammunition to reinforce its 12 observation posts in Idlib, Syria’s last rebel-held region, according to Turkish state news agency Anadolu.

The entry of the Turkish convoy, at least the second in a week, on Friday followed an increase in fighting in northwestern Idlib province and a rare  between Turkish and Syrian government forces.

The development also came a day before Russian officials arrive in Turkey for talks over the situation in Idlib.

As Eric Zuesse explains below, Idlib province (see map), always naturally sympathetic to the ISIS/Sunni cause, with not only Turkey’s backing but also a strong military presence there, has become a kind of holding pen for the ISIS fighters that had managed to escape the fighting in other parts of Syria. What to do with these troublesome, violent people, who had served their purpose as proxy fighters against the Assad government? Instead of holding them in for later extermination, as may have been the original plan, Erdogan now seeks to retain Idlib, which is sovereign Syrian territory after all, for himself with the blessing of the US neocons, who most likely relish a confrontation with Russia. 

See also this from Arab News: Turkey threatens escalation of Idlib crisis after Syrian regime shelling kills Turkish soldiers.

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Turkey Threatens Retaliation against Russia and Syria if they attack Al Qaeda in Syria’s Idlib Province

ERIC ZUESSE

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech on February 5th to his AKP islamist Party that if Syrian troops or Russian planes attack Al Qaeda in Syria’s Idlib Province (see map), then Turkey will be at war against Syria and Russia. If that happens, then Turkey, as a member of the NATO alliance, could call in U.S. and allied forces to join Turkey’s war against Syria and against Russia, in that part of Syria.
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Here is one news report of this, from Syria’s Voltairenet:
VOLTAIRE NETWORK | 5 FEBRUARY 2020
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Speaking on 5 February 2020 before members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said:
“Any ground or air attack against our troops or the friendly elements with whom we work will be met with a response without any warning regardless of its origin. No one can object to our exercising our right to do so given the inability to guarantee the security of our troops in Idlib.”
[In Voltairenet’s original French version: Erdoğan a désigné sous l’expression « éléments amis » les membres des milices turkmènes formant l’« Armée nationale syrienne » (Jaych al-Watani as-Suri) et ceux d’Al-Qaeda ayant fait alliance avec des groupes locaux pour former l’Organisation de Libération du Levant (Hayat Tahrir al-Cham).]
Turkey, whose army invaded northern Syria, had four Russian FSB officers killed in Aleppo by “friendly elements” on 1 February and engaged in a deadly clash on 2 and 3 February with the Syrian army in Idlib. It received support from the United States on 4 February, the day the Turkish President revved up provocations against Russia in Ukraine.
President Erdoğan designates as “friendly elements” both the Turkmen militia linked to the Gray Wolves and the Al-Qaeda jihadists.
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Turkey’s Grey Wolves organization (see image) is fascist, nationalist, far-right, and xenophobic, advocating a Turkey that is of, by, and for, only ethnic Turks, and expelling everyone else. Affiliated with it in Syria are the Syrian Turkman Brigades. It is an ethnically terrorist organization. Al-Qaeda, and its Syrian affiliate al-Nusra or Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, are an extremist Sunni Muslim terrorist organization.
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The United States has been backing Al-Qaeda in Syria so as to overthrow and replace Syria’s secular Government by a fundamentalist-Sunni government; and, therefore, if Turkey will be inviting America back into Syria to defend Al Qaeda in Syria and Turk-allied fascists in Syria, the United States would be on Al-Qaeda’s side and also on Turkish fascists’ side there in Syria’s Idlib Province, against Russia and Syria.
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Erdogan’s statement on February 5th can also be seen and heard in a video from Turkey’s TRT World, titled “Erdogan warns Syrian regime forces to withdraw from Idlib posts”  which is accompanied by English-language translation of it, here:
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The English-language translation says:
“During our phone call last night, I told Mr (Vladimir) Putin that the (Syrian) regime must withdraw to the limits of the Sochi agreement in Idlib, meaning behind our observation posts. Any ground or air assault on our soldiers or on the friendly elements we are working with [the Turkish fascists and the Sunni jihadists] will be avenged in kind, regardless of its source. Since the safety of our soldiers in the Idlib region [which is Syrian territory] cannot be ensured, nobody can question us for exercising our right to do this [i.e., to seize permanently that province of Syria].”
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The TRT video also says:
“The US also condemned the Syrian regime’s attacks on Idlib, and some US officials stated their support for Turkey. Secretary Pompeo [9:19 PM Feb 2020 .4]: “The U.S. stands by our @NATO Ally #Turkey in the aftermath of the mortar attack by Assad regime forces on Turkish observation posts. This is a grave escalation. The Assad regime, Russia, Iran, and Hizballah’s ruthless actions [trying to exterminate both Al Qaeda and the Turkish fascists in Syria’s Idlib Province] are preventing the establishment of a ceasefire.”

So: Erdogan made this statement on February 5th after having already received the U.S. assurance that America will go to war against Russia if Russia defends Syria’s troops who are trying to rid Syria’s Idlib Province of Al-Qaeda and of pro-Turkish fascists.

The TRT video continues by citing U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham at “8:42 PM Feb 2020 .5” saying: “Appreciate Turkey pushing back against Assad & Russia when it comes stopping the slaughter in Idlib. … All options are on the table.”
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This means that nuclear war with Russia is on the table.

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The background behind this, so that it can be understood, is given in two previous reports from me, which now follow:
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Prelude to World War III

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ERIC ZUESSE
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Unless Syria simply hands its most heavily pro-jihadist province, Idlib, to adjoining Turkey, which claims to have 30,000 troops there and is planning to add 20,000 more, World War III will probably happen soon, and here is why:
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Russia’s troops are in Syria at the invitation of Syria’s Government and they have provided crucial assistance to restore the Government’s control over areas that the jihadists (sometimes called “Radical Islamic Terrorists” or otherwise) had seized. Consequently, unlike the Turks and the Americans, who are invaders of Syria, Russia is instead a defender of Syria, and is committed to doing there only what the Syrian Government authorizes it to do and what Russia is willing to do there.
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Right now, the Trump Administration has committed itself to prohibiting Syria (and its allies) from retaking control of Idlib, which is the only province that was more than 90% in favor of Al Qaeda and of ISIS and against the Government at the start of the ‘civil war’ in Syria. Idlib is even more pro-jihadist now, because almost all of the surviving jihadists in Syria have sought refuge there and the Government freely has bussed them there in order to minimize the amount of “human shield” hostage-taking by them in the other provinces. Countless innocent lives were saved this way.
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Both Democratic and Republican U.S. federal officials and former officials are overwhelmingly supportive of U.S. President Trump’s newly announced determination to prohibit Syria from retaking control of that heavily jihadist province, and they state such things about Idlib as:
It has become a dumping ground for some of the hardcore jihadists who were not prepared to settle for some of the forced agreements that took place, the forced surrenders that took place elsewhere. … Where do people go when they’ve reached the last place that they can go? What’s the refuge after the last refuge? That’s the tragedy that they face.
That happened to be an Obama Administration official expressing support for the jihadists, and when he was asked by his interviewer “Did the world fail Syria?,” he answered “Sure. I mean, there’s no doubt about it. I mean, the first person who failed Syria was President Assad himself.
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The U.S. Government in 2003 said that Saddam Hussein had failed Iraq and so America and its allies invaded and occupied there in 2003; and then America and its allies said that Muammar Qaddafi had failed Libyans and so invaded and occupied there in 2011; but, unlike Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, neither of those two heads-of-state was backed by Russia whereas Assad is. That’s the main difference between him and those others. But the U.S. Government still demands ‘victory’ there; so the world stands at the brink of WW III, the war to end all wars, and (unlike its two predecessors) to end ourselves.
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Therefore, unless Assad simply hands Idlib over to adjoining Turkey, there will be war between the U.S. and Russia over Idlib. Since neither side will publicly admit its defeat in that U.S.-Russia war, the loser in it will naturally invade the other; and, regardless of whether the U.S. or Russia will be the first to do that (go nuclear), each of the two sides will still be able to annihilate the other after the other’s sudden blitz nuclear attack; and the end-result will be not only an unprecedentedly nuclear-contaminated planet, but a nuclear winter following it, in which agriculture will collapse, and the survivors will wish that they weren’t.
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The way for the plan to avert that outcome to be carried out would be:
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Assad and Putin both will announce that, due to complaints from the U.S. Government and from the United Nations and from the Turkish Government, Syria will give up Idlib province, and will construct on the border between it and the adjoining areas of Syria, a DMZ or De-Militarized Zone, so that not only will the residents in Idlib be safe from any attack by Syria and its allies (such as America and its allies have been demanding), but Syrians — in all the others of Syria’s provinces — will likewise be safe against any continued attacks by the jihadists that have concentrated themselves in Idlib.
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This way, Turkey’s President Erdogan can safely keep his 50,000 troops in Idlib if he wishes; America’s President Trump can claim victory in Syria and finally fulfil his long-promised intention to end the U.S. occupation of (most of the jihadist-controlled) parts of Syria (which they’ve occupied), and maybe WW III can be avoided, or, at least, postponed, maybe even so that people living today won’t be dying-off from WW III and its after-effects.
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If this peaceful path to ending the prelude to WW III — to avoiding the jump off a nuclear cliff — succeeds, then the world will be able to continue debating who was right and who was wrong in all of this. But, otherwise, that debate will simply be terminated by the war itself, and everyone will end up losing.
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Here is how these and associated matters are being taught to school students in the United States. It’s a magazine that’s handed out free to school students in the U.S. to teach them the ‘history’ behind these current events, though it conflicts with the actual history behind them: but, of course, those children won’t know that history because it’s not being taught to them.
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Putin and Erdogan Plan Syria-Idlib DMZ as I Recommended

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ERIC ZUESSE
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As I recommended in a post on September 10th, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan jointly announced on September 17th in Tehran, “We’ve agreed to create a demilitarized zone between the government troops and militants before October 15. The zone will be 15-20km wide,” which compares to the Korean DMZ’s 4-km width. I had had in mind the Korean experience, but obviously Putin and Erdogan are much better informed about the situation than I am, and they have chosen a DMZ that’s four to five times wider. In any case, the consequences of such a decision will be momentous, unless U.S. President Donald Trump is so determined for there to be World War III as to stop at nothing in order to force it to happen no matter what Russia does or doesn’t do.
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[UPDATE ON 1 JUNE 2019: Putin was the ultimate decider at the Tehran Conference (an event the U.S.’news’ media ignored). According to a Russian video misdated 30 March 2018 but probably a year later, “Soloviev’s Exclusive Interview with President Putin” (at 7:55), “After meeting with Assad, Putin held phone negotiations with the key players of the Middle East policy. At 20:50 with the President of the USA Donald Trump, at 21:20 with the King of Saudi Arabia Al Saud, at 22:00 with the President of Egypt al-Sisi, at 22:05 with the Prime Minister of Israel Netanyahu. On the next day a groundbreaking meeting took place. Leaders of Iran, Turkey and Russia discuss the situation in Syria and its future. On one side of the table is USA’s sworn enemy Iran [Rouhani], on the other side sits Turkey [Erdogan], the USA’s NATO partner, and, the third is Russia [Putin and Lavrov].” So: the decisions reached by the three were to be based also on the input from the prior 4: Assad, Trump, Saud, Sisi, and Netanyahu.]
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What the Putin-Erdogan DMZ decision means is that the 50,000 Turkish troops who now are occupying Idlib province of Syria will take control over that land, and will thus have the responsibility over the largest concentration of jihadists anywhere on the planet: Idlib. It contains the surviving Syrian Al Qaeda and ISIS fighters, including all of the ones throughout Syria who surrendered to the Syrian Army rather than be shot dead on the spot by Government forces.
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For its part, the U.S. Government, backed by its allies and supported in this by high officials of the United Nations, had repeatedly threatened that if there occurs any chemical weapons attack, or even any claimed chemical weapons attack, inside Idlib, the U.S. and its allies will instantaneously blame the Syrian Government and bomb Syria, and will shoot down the planes of Syria and of Russia that oppose this bombing-campaign to conquer or ‘liberate’ Syria from its Government. The U.S. has announced its determination to protect what one high U.S. official — who is endorsing what Trump is doing there — calls “the largest Al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11.” He admits it, but he wants to protect them from being bombed by Syria and by Russia.
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During recent weeks, the U.S. military has increasingly said that even if the jihadists, who’ve  been assisting with the assemblage of materials for a chemical-weapons attack, fail to carry it out or to stage one, any attempt by Syrian and Russian forces to destroy the jihadists (which the U.S. side calls ‘rebels’) in Idlib will be met with overwhelming U.S.-and-allied firepower. That would spark WW III, because whichever side — Russia or U.S. — loses in the Syrian battlefield will nuclear-blitz-attack the other side so as to have the lesser damage from the nuclear war and thus (in military terms) ‘win’ WW III, because the blitz-attack will destroy many of the opposite side’s retaliatory weapons. In a nuclear war, the first side to attack will have a considerable advantage — reducing the number of weapons the other side can launch.
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If, on the other hand, the DMZ-plan works, then Turkey’s forces will be responsible for vetting any of Idlib’s residents who try to leave, in order to prohibit jihadists and their supporters from leaving. Once that task (filtering out the non-dangerous inhabitants and retaining in Idlib only the jihadists and their supporters) is done, the entire world might be consulted on whether to exterminate the remaining residents or to set them free to return to the countries from which they came or to other countries. Presumably, no country would want those ‘refugees’. That would answer the question.
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America’s Arab allies, the oil monarchies such as the Sauds who own Saudi Arabia and the Thanis who own Qatar, and which have funded Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, would then be put on a spot, because if they say “Exterminate them!” then their clergy who have provided the moral imprimatur upon those families’ ownership of those nations, will either be in rebellion or else will themselves become overthrown either by their own followers or else by their monarch — overthrown from below or from above.
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Alternatively, after Turkey’s forces in Idlib will have allowed release from Idlib of all who will be allowed out, Syria’s and Russia’s bombers will simply go in and slaughter the then-surrounded jihadists and take upon themselves the responsibility for that, regardless of what the leaders of the U.S. and its allied governments might say.
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On the night of September 17th in Syria, there were missile-attacks “from the sea” against several Syrian cities; and those attacks could have come from either Israel’s or America’s ships, or from other U.S.-allied ships. Russian Television bannered, “Russian plane disappears from radars during Israeli attack on Syria’s Latakia – MoD” and reported:
A Russian military Il-20 aircraft with 14 service members on board went off the radars during an attack by four Israeli jets on Syria’s Latakia province, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Air traffic controllers at the Khmeimim Air Base “lost contact” with the aircraft on Wednesday evening, during the attack of Israeli F-16 fighters on Latakia, said the MOD.
Russian radars also registered the launch of missiles from a French frigate in the Mediterranean on the evening of September 17. …
The attack on Latakia came just hours after Russia and Turkey negotiated a partial demilitarization of the Idlib province
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If the missiles were authorized by President Trump, then WW III has already begun in its pre-nuclear stage. However, if the attacks were launched by Israel’s Netanyahu, and/or by France’s Macron, without U.S. authorization, then the U.S. President might respond to them by siding against that aggressor(s) (and also against what he used to call “Radical Islamic Terrorists”), so as to prevent a nuclear war.
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Late on September 17th, Al Masdar News bannered NATO warships move towards Syrian coast” and reported “The NATO flotilla cruising off the Syrian coast reportedly consists of a Dutch frigate, the De Ruyter, a Canadian frigate, the Ville de Quebec, and a Greek cruiser, the Elli.” Al Qaeda and ISIS have influential protectors.
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Ultimately, the decision will be U.S. President Trump’s as to whether he is willing to subject the planet to WW III and to its following nuclear winter and consequent die-off of agriculture and of everyone in order to ‘win’ a nuclear war such as America’s aristocracy has especially championed since 2006. The nuclear-victory concept is called “Nuclear Primacy” — the use of nuclear weapons so as to win a nuclear war against Russia, instead of to prevent a nuclear war. That concept’s predecessor, the “Mutually Assured Destruction” or “M.A.D.” meta-strategy, predominated even in the U.S. until 2006. Trump will have to decide whether the purpose of America’s nuclear-weapons stockpiles is to prevent WW III, or is to win WW III.
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In Russia, the purpose has always been to have nuclear weapons in order to prevent WW III. But America’s President will be the person who will make the ultimate decision on this. And Idlib might be the spark. Netanyahu or Macron might be wanting to drag the U.S. into war even against Russia, but the final decision will be Trump’s.
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CONCLUSION: The agreement that was reached between Putin, Rouhani, and Erdogan, in Tehran, on 10 September 2018, was never published, but the presumption behind it was clearly that Turkey would hold the jihadists in Idlib until Idlib was no longer receiving much press in The West, and then Russian planes and Syrian troops would blitz-exterminate the tens of thousands of jihadists there, so the problem would be resolved. However, apparently Erdogan double-crossed both Putin and Rouhani and determined to take Idlib as Turkey’s own territory. Putin and Assad refused to allow that. Turkey now is receiving America’s backing to do it. Furthermore, Erdogan has now declared Al Qaeda in Syria to be “friendly elements we are working with.” And even during the U.S. Presidency of Barack Obama, the U.S. was protecting Al-Qaeda in Syria. Trump is, on this matter, carrying out Obama’s policy there. Rather than abandon that policy, Trump appears now to be willing to go to nuclear war against Russia in order to enforce that policy there, in the most-heavily-jihadist place on Earth, to protect Idlib’s jihadists and to defeat America’s ‘enemies’.
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