'Washington using Turkey as a tool to destabilize Russia'

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan  (L) and U.S. President Barack Obama (R) © Kevin Lamarque
NATO member state Turkey seems strangely committed to keeping Islamic State going strong in Syria, thus willing to take dangerous risks in confronting Russia in the region. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail, a group of experts told RT.

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“I don’t think the Turkish government would have undertaken such an action against a military superpower like Russia without the consent of the US. It’s simply ridiculous to suggest the Turkish military would have acted alone,”O'Colmain told RT.

“So they were carrying out this attack certainly with the backing of the US,” he added.

The political analyst argues we need to look at the region in general. “Until 2011, Turkey had a policy in the Middle East which was considered quite diplomatic and progressive; it had a good-neighborly policy,” said O'Colmain.

The expert suggested that the long-term strategy of the US is to use Turkey as a tool to destabilize Russia, and that was confirmed recently by the head of Stratfor, George Friedman, who said:  “In the future you’re going to see Turkey emerge as a new maritime power.”

“... You have a Turkish speaking population in Central Asia and in the North Caucasus region. So Turkey has a lot of levers to pull with Russia, and what we’re seeing with these attacks is an attempt to raise the tension with Russia,” O'Colmain told RT.

“Of course Russia is destroying the Islamic State, and Turkey needs to keep the IS going in Syria. They have been openly backing it, and that had been openly admitted by the western press,” analyst added.

Turkey-Russia proxy war in Syria

We effectively have a proxy war, says Nader Hashemi, Assistant Professor of Middle East Politics at the University of Denver.

“This is much less about violating Turkish airspace and much more about the fact that both Russia and Turkey are backing different sides in the conflict in Syria. And we effectively have a proxy war. And these types of clashes and conflicts were completely predictable and inevitable”, he told RT.

Nader Hashemi thinks US-made TOW missiles are being used in a way that “advances US interests in this particular conflict, so they have no problem with those missiles being used in that capacity and in that direction.”

Meanwhile, the US holds the opinion that Bashar al-Assad is the primary source of the problem in Syria and Russia’s policy in supporting Bashar al-Assad is “extending and perpetuating the crisis.”

“The US has no particular problem in allowing its missiles to be used by rebel forces that it considers friendly,” Hashemi continued.

“It explains why there has been relative silence with respect to the use of its own missiles in this particular context.”

Turkey committed ‘foolish and rash decision’ in attacking Russian jet

Turkey feels a political need to show its strength inside the country as well as in the Middle East region, Senior Policy Consultant from British American Security Information Council Ted Seay told RT. 

“In fact in early October there were supposedly a couple of incursions by Russian military aircraft into Turkish airspace – they were chased away,“ said Seay.

“What has happened now, I believe, is that Turkey is feeling some kind of political need, whether it is domestically or for its regional sort of audience, to show its strength in these things, and it has made a very foolish and rash decision in firing missiles at a Russian aircraft just to do this,” he added. 

He argues that “Turkey is in the unfortunate position of being a frontline state with the Syrian civil war, on the one hand, and a NATO ally, on the other.”

“It looks to me, as someone who has worked in NATO for several years – that there was ineffective coordination beforehand with NATO authorities and with the allies about how Turkey ought to be ready to respond if, for example, future incidents along the lines of early October again with, again, these alleged airspace incursions happened again,” Seay told RT.

He said that there should have been a rehearsal for what is and isn’t acceptable under these circumstances. “Quite frankly, apart from self-defense, firing of air-to-air missiles is not acceptable,” the expert added.

Acting against Russia not in Erdogan’s interest

Ankara took action against a Russian fighter jet because the plane got too close to some serious interests of Turkey, former senior security policy analyst in the office of the US Secretary of Defense Michael Maloof told RT.

It is not in Erdogan’s interest to escalate conflict with Russia any further, former senior security policy analyst in the office of the US Secretary of Defense Michael Maloof told RT.

“Well, I think right now it’s avoiding escalation and cooler heads hopefully will prevail so that Turkey doesn’t try to invoke Article 5 under the NATO treaty [Collective Defence],” Maloof told RT.

He said they tried that a few years ago when they shot down a Syrian jet. “But again cooler heads prevailed and they just decided to invoke Article 4 which was to have a consultation. Hopefully that will happen again,” he added.

“What happened was that the Russian jet got too close to some very serious interests of Turkey, and that is why they probably took action,” Maloof said.

“It is probably one of the routes through which they send their forces in through Turkey into Syria to fight on behalf of the jihadist groups,” he told RT.

Maloof suspects the Russian jet was getting too close “since it was aiming at possibly Al-Nusra or one of the other jihadist groups that was on the ground.”

Expert believes that it is really not in Erdogan’s interest to escalate this thing any further. “Turkey has tremendous relations and exchanges with Russia from energy to a lot of trade,” he said.

“It is only right that the two sides get together and talk this thing out. But I don’t see NATO getting engaged in this except to have consultations, because the last thing the European countries want - including the US – is an armed conflict with Russia,” Maloof added.

The US war on terror - monumental hypocrisy

The strategy of American imperialism: seeking to control Syria, seeking regime change in Syria is part of a broader aim of controlling the Middle East, says Joseph Kishore, National Secretary of the Socialist Equality Party.

“Turkey has its particular interest in Syria and has a de facto alliance with ISIS. Turkey has been a central force in backing the anti-Assad forces in Syria, many of which, of course, are Islamic fundamentalist organizations,” Kishore told RT.

“While the question of Turkish interests is significant, the real issue here is the US. It has to be said upfront that this action could not have been taken without the prior approval of the Obama administration,” he added.

According to Kishore, “it is clear that the US is preparing to escalate the situation in Syria dramatically; it is seeking to send a shot across the bow against Russia, making clear that the US is prepared to defend its interests in Syria by very provocatively and aggressively escalating the situation there.”

Kishore thinks that “we are talking really not about Turkey and its strategy per se, but about the US, about American imperialism - that is really the driving force here.”

“I don’t think we can accept for a minute the idea that the Turkish government would do this without the support of the US. The question really is: What is the strategy of American imperialism,” he continued.

Kishore said that “they are seeking to control Syria; they are seeking regime change in Syria as part of a broader aim of controlling the Middle East.”

In his opinion, “the whole sort of policy of the US in the region – the so-called ‘war on terror’- is a monumental hypocrisy based on lies.”

“ISIS is a product of American intervention in Syria and is part of the aim of unseating the Assad government. And the idea that they are engaged in a war against ISIS is a monumental fraud,” he added.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.