‘Turkey follows consistent policy to undermine Syrian sovereignty’
RT:The Armenian foreign minister said that extremists who attacked the village arrived from Turkey. Could Ankara be aware of such groups operating on the country's territory?
Abayomi Azikiwe: Well, I’m absolutely sure that the Turkish government is aware of these organizations that are operating on its border, and I think that this is representative of the role of Turkey with regard to the Syrian conflict of the last three years. They have not been helpful with regard to assisting the Syrian government and their attempts to eliminate these rebel groups from the border. And of course it is also representative of the ethnic cleansing that has been going on inside of Syria over the last three years. Syria is a multinational state comprised of many different peoples, various religious groups and sex, and I think this has been a target of these rebel organizations that are supported by the US and NATO, to break up the multinational character of the Syrian state.
RT:Why would extremists target a small ethnic group of Armenians and that particular town?
AA: The Christian population inside of Syria has been quite consistent and loyal to the government of President Bashar Assad. The Pashtuns historically inside of Syria haven’t been prosecuted because of their religion. There is a strong orthodox community in Syria, there are many different ethnic and religious groups – we have the Allawite, who are there, there are people from other religious Muslim orientations in Syria, and by and large Syria is a secular state and people there have the freedom of religion. Most of the groups who have been doing the bulk of the fighting against the Syrian government have been religious extremists, those who have attempted to enhance the sectarian religious as well as ethnic violence in the Pashtun population. [They have been] targeted by these rebels inside Syria over the last three years and many of them have been forced to flee the country. Many of their religious sites and communities have been attacked and also dispersed by the rebels. And of course the forces that are supporting the rebels are well aware of what they are doing inside Syria.
RT:Armenia also called on Turkey to prevent any such crossings in the future. Do you think the government will cooperate there, or Ankara will continue turning a blind eye on that issue?
AA: I think they are doing more than turning a blind eye. This is a conscious and consistent policy to undermine the sovereignty, unity and stability of the Syrian state. Turkey, being a NATO member, is well aware of what is going on there and is part and parcel involved in this whole war over the last three years to destabilize Syria, and indeed to bring down the government of President Bashar Assad. I think it’s the strategy that has been carried out by NATO which is largely coordinated by the Obama Administration in the US.
RT:A recent YouTube leak suggested Turkey's officials were ready to launch a false flag attack in Syria. Why would Ankara be interested in launching a full-blown intervention in to the country?
AA: I believe this has been the overall strategy of the Western powers that are allied or part of NATO. I don’t think that it’s an accident that these revelations have come forward, the Turkish government has moved missiles to the border with Syria; they have also played a key role in mobilizing and dispatching these rebels into Syrian territory. This was exposed just prior to the recent elections inside Turkey, and this is why the Turkish state retaliated to this criticism by banning Twitter, as well as YouTube, and targeting them as mechanisms of communication rather than looking at its own role within the Syrian conflict. There is a considerable amount of anti-war sentiment inside Turkey and I think that sentiment will grow as the political and economic crisis inside Turkey worsens.
RT:The attack took place exactly one century after the Armenian genocide. Do you think the timing is a coincidence?
AA: I don’t know if this is a coincidence or not, it definitely speaks of the history of the Armenian people and of course of the role of Turkey during the early years of the WWI in the extermination and force removal of the Armenian population.
I believe that the Turkish government, who has refused to recognize the Armenian genocide, are of course utilizing the perhaps ongoing animosity towards the Armenian community as another mechanism for the destabilization of the multinational character of the Syrian state. I think that Syria has of course made a tremendous amount of progress in regard to eliminating these rebel bases around the border with Turkey, as well along the border with Lebanon, and they are highly concentrated in that particular area right now of the country. In fact, the US is quite concerned that this rebel insurgency that they have been financing and coordinating, sometimes overtly over the last three years, will be trapped and eventually eliminated. So they have to come up with some pretext, or some rationale for a ground invasion if not directly by the US forces.
If Turkey sends troops or special forces into Syria, this could also provide an excuse for the US or other NATO countries to carry out massive air bombardment of Syrian territory. They wanted to do this last year, but because of the international outcry, (and of course the word of Russia and China in the UN Security Council), an effort to block any type of resolution that would provide an illegal basis for the bombing of Syria was defeated at least on a temporary basis, and, at the same time, there was growing antiwar sentiment here in the US against a potential airstrike against Syria.
RT:The attack has led to international calls for help. Why haven’t we seen any outside response?
AA: As I mentioned before they are aware that these developments are taking place, they are a well-armed military force, they are part of NATO, they have access to the intelligence that is gathered by other NATO countries, so it is quite obvious that they are aware, if they want to move to prevent these activities from taking place on their borders, there are measures that the Turkish government and military can take but apparently they have not done so. So we can only interpret this as another means for the destabilization and possible overthrow of the Bashar Assad government in Syria.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.