Israel’s Role in Syrian Conflict Brought into the Open: Direct Support to Al Qaeda Terrorists

19 Dec

By Nicola Nasser
Global Research, December 17, 2014

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Overtly, the Israeli superpower of the Middle East has been keen to posture as having no role whatsoever in the four-year old devastating conflict in Syria, where all major regional and international powers are politically and militarily deeply involved and settling scores by Syrian blood.

In his geopolitical weekly analysis, entitled “The Islamic State Reshapes the Middle East ,” on November 25 Stratfor’s George Friedman raised eyebrows when he reviewed the effects which the terrorist group had on all regional powers, but seemed unaware of the existence of the Israeli regional superpower.

It was an instructive omission that says a lot about the no more discreet role Israel is playing to maintain what the Israeli commentator Amos Harel described as the “stable instability” in Syria and the region, from the Israeli perspective of course.

Friedman in fact was reflecting a similar official omission by the US administration. When President Barak Obama appealed for a “broad international coalition” to fight the Islamic State (IS), Israel — the strongest military power in the region and the well – positioned logistically to fight it — was not asked to join. The Obama administration explained later that Israel ’s contribution would reflect negatively on the Arab partners in the coalition.

“Highlighting Israel’s contributions could be problematic in terms of complicating efforts to enlist Muslim allies” in the coalition, said Michael Eisenstadt, a senior fellow at AIPAC’s arm, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Covertly however Israel is a key player in prolonging the depleting war on Syria and the major beneficiary of neutralizing the military of the only immediate Arab neighbor that has so far eluded yielding to the terms dictated by the U.S. – backed Israeli regional force majeure for making peace with the Hebrew state.

Several recent developments however have brought the Israeli role into the open.

First the latest bombing of Syrian targets near the Damascus international civilian airport on December 7 was the seventh major unprovoked air strike of its kind since 2011 and the fifth in the past 18 months on Syrian defenses. Syrian Scientific research centers, missile depots, air defense sites, radar and electronic monitoring stations and the Republican Guards were targeted by Israel .

Facilitating the Israeli mission and complementing it, the terrorist organizations operating in the country tried several times to hit the same targets. They succeeded in killing several military pilots and experts whom Israeli intelligence services would have paid dearly to hunt down.

Foreign Policy on last June 14 quoted a report by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki – moon as saying that the “battle – hardened Syrian rebels … once in Israel, they receive medical treatment in a field clinic before being sent back to Syria,” describing the arrangement as a “gentleman’s agreement.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu in February this year visited this “military field hospital” and shook hands with some of the more than 1000 rebels treated in Israeli hospitals, according to Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF).

Foreign Policy quoted also Ehud Yaari, an Israeli fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, as saying that Israel was supplying the rebel – controlled Syrian villages with medicines, heaters, and other humanitarian supplies. The assistance, he said, has benefited civilians and “insurgents.” Yaari ignored the reports about the Israeli intelligence services to those “insurgents.”

Israel facilitates war on UNDOF

Second, the latest quarterly report by the UN Disengagement Force (UNDOF) to the UN Security Council (UNSC) on December 1 confirmed what eight previous similar reports had stated about the “interaction … across the (Syrian – Israeli) ceasefire line” between the IOF and the “armed members of the (Syrian) opposition,” in the words of Ki-moon’s report to the Council on December 4.

Third, Ki-moon in his report confirmed that the UNDOF “was forced to relocate its troops” to the Israeli side of the ceasefire line, leaving the Syrian side a safe haven zone for the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, which the UNSC had designated a “terrorist group.”

UNDOF’s commander Lieutenant General Iqbal Singh Singha told the UNSC on October 9 that his troops were “under fire, been abducted, hijacked, had weapons snatched and offices vandalized.” Australia was the latest among the troop contributing countries to pull out its forces from UNDOF.

UNDOF and the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) operate in the buffer zone of about 80 km long and between 0.5 to 10 km wide, forming an area of 235 km². The zone borders the Lebanon Blue Line to the north and forms a border of less than 1 km with Jordan to the south. It straddles the Purple Line which separates the Israeli – occupied Golan Heights from Syria . The west Israeli side of this line is known as “Alpha”, and the east Syrian side as “Bravo.”

Speaking at the U.S. military base Fort Dix on Monday, President Obama warned those who “threaten America ” that they “will have no safe haven,” but that is exactly what Israel is providing them.

Israeli “interaction” has practically helped the UNDOF “to relocate” from Bravo to Alpha and to hand Bravo as a safe haven over to an al-Nusra Front – led coalition of terrorist groups.

Al-Nusra Front is officially the al – Qaeda affiliate in Syria . U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate Committee on Foreign relations on this December 9 that his administration considers the IS to be a branch of al – Qaeda operating under a different name. Both terrorist groups were one under the name of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and only recently separated. Whoever accommodates either one is in fact courting the other.

“The 1,200-strong UN force is now mostly huddled inside Camp Ziouani , a drab base just inside the Israeli – controlled side of the Golan Heights . Its patrols along the de facto border have all but ceased,” the Associated Press (AP) reported on last September 18.

Israeli air force and artillery intervened several times to protect the al-Nusra Front’s “safe haven” against fire power from Syria, which is still committed to its ceasefire agreement of 1974 with Israel. Last September for example, Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet that was bombing the Front’s positions, only three weeks after shooting down a Syrian drone over the area.

Israel is not violating the Syrian sovereignty only, but violating also the UN – sponsored ceasefire agreement and the UNSC anti-terror resolutions. More important, Israel is in fact undermining the UNDOF mandate on the Israeli – occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

This situation could only be interpreted as an Israeli premeditated war by proxy on the UN presence on the Golan Heights .

“Israel is the most interested in having (UN) peacekeepers evacuated from the occupied Golan so as to be left without international monitoring,” Syria ’s permanent envoy to the UN, Bashar al- Jaafari, told reporters on September 17.

The UNSC seems helpless or uninterested in defending the UNDOF mandate on the Golan against Israeli violations, which risk the collapse of the 1974 ceasefire arrangements.

Syrian Foreign Ministry was on record to condemn these violations as a “declaration of war,” asserting that Syria reserves its right to retaliate “at the right moment and the right place.” Obviously a regional outbreak is at stake here without the UN presence as a buffer.

Upgrading unanimously Israel ’s status from a “major non – NATO ally” to a “major strategic partner” of the United States by the U.S. Congress on December 3 could explain the UNSC inaction.

The undeclared understanding between the Syrian government and the U.S. – led coalition against the self – declared “Islamic State” (IS) not to target the latter’s forces seems to have left this mission to Israel who could not join the coalition publicly for subjective as well as objective reasons.

The AP on September 18 did not hesitate to announce that the “collapse of UN peacekeeping mission on Golan Heights marks new era on Israel – Syria front.” Aron Heller, the writer of the AP report, quoted the former Israeli military liaison officer with UNDOF, Stephane Cohen, as saying: “Their mandate is just not relevant anymore.” Heller concluded that this situation “endangers” the “status quo,” which indeed has become a status quo ante.

Israeli strategic gains

The emerging fait accompli seems very convenient to Israel , creating positive strategic benefits for the Hebrew state and arming it with a pretext not to withdraw the IOF from the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and Palestinian territories.

In an analysis paper published by The Saban Center at Brookings in November 2012, Itamar Rabinovich wrote that, “Clearly, the uncertainty in Syria has put the question of the Golan Heights on hold indefinitely. It may be a long time until Israel can readdress the prospect of giving the Golan back to Damascus .”

Moreover, according to Rabinovich, “the Syrian conflict has the potential to bring the damaged Israeli – Turkish relationship closer to normalcy … they can find common ground in seeking to foster a stable post – Assad government in Syria.”

The hostile Turkish insistence on toppling the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, the concentration of the IS and other rebel forces in the north of the country and in central, eastern and southern Syria are diverting the potential and focus of the Syrian Arab Army northward and inward, away from the western front with the Israeli occupying power on the Golan Heights.

The protracted war on the Syrian government is depleting its army in manpower and materially. Rebuilding the Syrian army and the devastated Syrian infrastructure will preoccupy the country for a long time to come and defuse any military threat to Israel for an extended time span.

On the Palestinian front, the rise of the IS has made fighting it the top U.S. priority in the Middle East, which led Aaron David Miller, a former adviser to several U.S. administrations on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, to warn in Foreign Policy early in September that the rise of the IS would pose “a serious setback to Palestinian hopes of statehood.”

The expected fallback internally of the post – war Syria would “hopefully” relieve Israel of the Syrian historical support for the Palestinian anti – Israeli occupation movements, at least temporarily.

Netanyahu on Sunday opened a cabinet meeting by explicitly using the IS as a pretext to evade the prerequisites of making peace. Israel “stands … as a solitary island against the waves of Islamic extremism washing over the entire Middle East,” he said, adding: “To force upon us” a timeframe for a withdrawal from the Israeli – occupied Palestinian territories, as proposed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the UN Security Council, “will bring the radical Islamic elements to the suburbs of Tel Aviv and to the heart of Jerusalem. We will not allow this.”

Israel is also capitalising on the war on the IS to misleadingly portray it as identical with the Palestinian “Islamic” resistance movements because of their Islamic credentials. “When it comes to their ultimate goals, Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas,” Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly on September 29.

Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories (nassernicola@ymail.com).

The Islamic State’s (ISIS) Bloody Footprints Lead From NATO Territory

19 Dec

By Tony Cartalucci
Global Research, December 18, 2014
New Eastern Outlook

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It was reported recently that Germany’s broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) investigated what turned out to be hundreds of trucks a day carrying billions of dollars in supplies, flowing into Syria and directly into the hands of the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS).

Turkey, a NATO member since 1952, has played a pivotal role in the destabilization and destruction of neighboring Syria. Since 2011, Turkey has allowed its territory to be used as a transit and staging point for sectarian terrorists flowing from around the world and into Syria in what could be described as a defacto NATO invasion by proxy.

In 2011, after the Libyan conflict drew to an end in favor of NATO, terrorists it had armed and provided air cover for in North Africa were promptly shipped to Turkey where they then slipped into Syria to engage the Syrian government and its military. Since then, an untold number of terrorists have used not only Turkey as a staging ground, but also Lebanon and Jordan.

In addition to literal terrorists being harbored in NATO territory, security agencies of NATO members including the US and UK, have been active along the Turkish-Syrian border arming, funding. and equipping what they call “moderate rebels.” These moderate rebels have recently been revealed as affiliates of or organized directly organized beneath both Al Qaeda and ISIS.

DW’s report does not implicate merely Turkey in aiding and abetting ISIS, but exposes the fact that ISIS’ supply lines lead from within NATO itself – in other words, ISIS is a creation, perpetuation, and agent of NATO.

Contrary to Western propaganda, Al Qaeda was intentionally organized and directed by the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel to engage in a regional confrontation aimed at Iran and its powerful arc of influence. Exposed by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 2007 article, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” it was stated explicitly that (emphasis added):

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

Clearly, ISIS is the verbatim fulfillment of Hersh’s 2007 warning.

And while some may question what took place between 2007 and the current disposition of ISIS today, those documenting the ongoing conflict in Syria starting in 2011 have noted substantial and continued state sponsorship of militants fighting in the Syrian conflict, many of which are now confirmed to be operating under the banner of ISIS.

Headlines over the past 3-4 years including, “C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition,” “First Syria rebels armed and trained by CIA ‘on way to battlefield’,” “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.,” and “Official says CIA-funded weapons have begun to reach Syrian rebels; rebels deny receipt,” reveal ongoing Western support, bridging the gap between the conspiracy exposed by Hersh in 2007 and the current torrent of supplies flowing to ISIS via NATO territory.

It is clear that the ISIS threat was NATO all along, the culmination of a conspiracy spanning at least two US Presidential administrations, and resulting in a regional conflict marked by some of the most horrific barbarism documented in modern history.

With NATO feeding the ISIS threat directly, no serious attempt to destroy ISIS in either Syria or Iraq can be attempted without first cutting its supply lines leading from NATO territory. Clearly the United States, NATO, or regional partners like Israel, Qatar, or Saudi Arabia have any intention of doing so. As indicated by DW’s report, Kurds operating on both sides of the Turkish-Syrian border are attempting to seal off the flow of supplies leading from NATO territory.

The Syrian Arab Army, the Iranian forces supporting anti-ISIS fighters in Syrian territory, and the allies of both countries must insist that strict resolutions are passed to secure the border and stem the flow of ISIS’ lifeline. A clearly worded resolution, if voted down by the likes of the US and its NATO accomplices, will expose further the true nature of ISIS and the misanthropic agenda of the West it is a manifestation of.

If the West capitulates and the resolution is passed, further steps toward arming and aiding the Syrian and Iranian governments and their various allies in the securing of the Turkish-Syrian border can be made. From there, the proxy war engineered and executed by the West which has engulfed the region for years, may finally be brought to an end.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Competitive Shia-Sunni Gas Pipelines Politics?

14 Dec

Brig Amar Cheema
Issue Net Edition | Date : 19 Jun , 2014
Indian Defense Review

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When combat soldiers are faced with a chemical attack, the military practice to exhale polluted air before donning a protective mask is by shouting ‘gas-gas-gas.’ By repeating the ‘G’ word many times over, it appears that USA and her allies have taken the first step: further action(s) against Assad’s Syria – justified or otherwise, are expected.

The Syria-Iran-Iraq Gas Pipeline, dubbed as the ‘Islamic Pipeline,’ is a $10 Billion project which was agreed upon by the three countries in July 2011.
While the western narrative for initiating actions against Syria is being justified as retribution for chemical attacks perpetuated by a diabolic President Assad, there is more happening ‘in’ and ‘around’ Syria than what meets the eye : control of natural gas reserves, its trade, distribution and the strategic advantages it bestows are alternative and cogent reasons meriting western military intervention? History has proved that the lure of energy resources is powerful and oil and gas bequeathed to the Islamic world has turned out more as a curse, rather than a boon for its people; Iraq, Libya and the division of Sudan are recent examples of the plunder of Middle Eastern nationhood. This energy rich region has been repeatedly crushed and mutilated with utter disregard for socio-ethnic concerns for gaining control over the oil ‘wells of power.’ The anticipated attack on Syria by an incensed ‘coalition of the willing’ portends to be the latest in this game of hardball played for gaining geo-political strategic advantage(s).

Since it is intended to provide an alternative narrative for the fast developing war-like situation, a brief background is required to be provided. Geographically located at the junction of the fuel starved European Union and energy rich Iraq and Iran, Syria, by virtue of her location alone has the potential to play a pivotal role in conduiting gas supplies to Europe. In addition, Syria now has recently struck gas off her coast, the closest to Europe from where she could now supply gas directly. Collectively, these advantages make Syria’s role pivotal and dominant in the future. At the same time, the spectre of direct supply supplemented by the gas pipeline from Iran through Syria would trip the dream of Qatar to supply gas to Europe directly. USA, a strategic partner of Qatar and Saudi Arabia and being the largest beneficiary of their oil revenues, seems willing to back her partners to knock out Syria and Iran from the energy equation. By doing so, she would concurrently stymie Russian and Chinese attempts to alter the status quo favouring the USA, western powers and the nations of the Sunni Muslim world as also favour herself and Turkey by ensuring alternative Qatari gas for their joint gas pipeline project.

Essentially an Arab nation with 74 percent of its population being Sunni Muslims, the territory of Syria, which included what is today’s Lebanon, was mandated to France as spoils after the First World War under the Treaty of Sevres; in turn this was the outcome of a secret agreement (Sykes-Picot) brokered between Britain and France. This not only dampened Arab democratic aspirations, despite the elections of May 1919, this also flew in the face of the American led Crane Commission which was required to recommend the political future in accordance with the aspirations of the Arab people: both were thrown out of the window by Britain and France. Cutting the story of the Syrian struggle to the barest, France went on to occupy Syria in July 1920, though it took them another three years to establish full control over Syria. Later, Lebanon was carved out of Syria to provide a safe haven to Christians; the only state in the middle east where they are in majority over the Muslims.

As the world waits with bated breath for American Tomahawks to fly across the Syrian bows, it would be prudent to surmise that these are not merely being fired to punish the use of chemical weapons, but more importantly to serve a warning to Assad to scuttle his ambitious plans to supply piped gas to Europe directly.
The story of independent Syria since 1946 remained turbulent as it soon entered the Arab war against the newly created state of Israel in 1948, losing a part of the strategic Golan Heights in the bargain. Internal rumblings resulted in a coup-de-tat which ushered in military rule, which was replaced by another and the third in 1951. Even a return of a national (civil) government in 1956 could not bring stability; to illustrate, till 1956, Syria already had twenty new cabinets and four separate constitutions. In order to overcome her security concerns after the Suez Canal crisis of 1967, Syria signed a pact with the Soviet Union, allowing the chill of the Cold war to permeate the region. This naturally alarmed the Turks (Turkey has the Syrian city of Iskendron under its occupation), and in turn, pushed the Syrians further in the embrace of the Soviet Union. The important point being made in this story of unstable nationhood is that ‘external’ factors have been many and they have repeatedly altered the course of Syrian history.

A brief interlude (1958-1961) of merger with Egypt followed taking the form of the short lived United Arab Republic. The experiment failed after power was retaken by the military in Damascus, this time under the cloak of the Baath Party: the party that had also taken over in neighbouring Iraq. At that stage there were talks of a unification of Syria, Egypt and Iraq as a solitary Arab nation, which eventually floundered after the party lost control over Baghdad in 1963. Within three years there was yet another coup ushering in the Second Baath government. The 1967 Six Day War with Israel that followed resulted in weakening of the Syrian government, though this did not deter them to send in forces for a misadventure against Jordan in support of the Palestine guerrillas after the dramatic events of the Black September. After receiving another bloody nose, it was the turn of the Minister of Defence, Hafez al-Assad, the father of the current president belonging to the dominant Alawites (Alawis are a prominent religious group of Shia Muslims, forming twelve percent of the population of Syria who live in the Levant which is located at the cross roads of Western Asia, Eastern Mediterranean and North East Africa) to take over and consolidate the nation under the National Progressive Front, which undertook a ‘Correctionist Movement’ over the next thirty years. It was the lingering effect of his ‘reformist’ movement that transfer of power to the son following his death in June 2000 was smooth as the Syrian Parliament relaxed the minimum legal age from 40 to 34 to facilitate taking over by President Bashar al-Assad. The reign of Assad, an army physician by training, has been relatively less turbulent, despite the US led invasion of Iraq and the ongoing civil war. He has cultivated amicable relations with Iran and despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, has maintained close links with Moscow.

Coming to what has led to war clouds rumbling over Syria once again – it’s all about gas and more importantly, the economics connected to it. Environment friendly and low cost natural gas has emerged as the energy of choice of the future and is set to replace coal and nuclear power generation, with the European Union being the largest market. This shift has coincided with major gas finds in Qatar, Iran, Syria and Israel, and it is this happenstance in energy geo-politics that as a blog put it as forming the string that ‘binds Israel, Turkey and Qatar in the form of an unholy alliance on one side, and Assad’s Syria, Iran, Russia and China on the other.’

…in strategic terms, the Qatar-Turkey pipeline is exceedingly important for Europe and USA as Europe can be freed from the Russian gas stranglehold, a grim reality of today.
As the world waits with bated breath for American Tomahawks to fly across the Syrian bows, it would be prudent to surmise that these are not merely being fired to punish the use of chemical weapons (rumoured to be a false flag operation), but more importantly to serve a warning to Assad to scuttle his ambitious plans to supply piped gas to Europe directly. It needs to be highlighted that the war to destabilise President Assad has been going for over two years and has taken the form of a Sunni-US sponsored civil war. It is the lack of success on this front that USA is being forced to go in for the kill. Legitimacy for undertaking the operation is being brokered to undertake punitive action(s) under an UN mandate for purported crimes committed against humanity and the chemical attack is being played up. It would be recalled that hysteria for war on Syria had also been built up in 2012; this got scuttled due to the actions taken by Russia and China working in tandem; this also led to the resignation of the then UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan.

The Syria-Iran-Iraq Gas Pipeline, dubbed as the ‘Islamic Pipeline,’ is a $10 Billion project which was agreed upon by the three countries in July 2011. This proposes to pipe gas from the Pars field located in the Persian Gulf (single largest in the world) to Lebanon’s coast from where it would be supplied to the European markets by the year 2018. Since the Iranian Pars gas field extends beyond the Persian Gulf, Qatar, the second claimant of the world’s second largest field also plans to supply gas directly to Europe but through an alternate pipeline through Turkey traversing Iraq, but bypassing both Iran and Syria. In Turkey this would be linked with the US backed Nabucco pipeline, carrying gas supplies from the Central Asian Republics, adding to the value, since it would have a diversified source. Both proposals are thus in direct competition with each other whose leverage makes them strategic since their impact would be far reaching and would increase with time. It is important to highlight that in strategic terms, the Qatar-Turkey pipeline is exceedingly important for Europe and USA as Europe can be freed from the Russian gas stranglehold, a grim reality of today. On the other hand, the pipeline from Iran and Syria would remain somewhat under Russian influence as would be the supply of gas through the Nabucco line from the Central Asian Republics.

USA which is not only a strategic partner of Qatar, has compulsions since her strategically important bases of CENTCOM are located in Qatar…
Adding to the complexity are issues related to the supply of gas from Egypt and Jordan. President Assad has preferred his tie up with Iran over that with Egypt and Jordan who planned to supply gas directly to Homs in Syria for Europe and Turkey through the Arab Gas Pipeline running directly from Aqaba via Amman in Jordan. This line already supplies gas to Lebanon and Israel through outlets in Sidon and Haifa, though the link to Homs in Syria is still to be developed. By proffering his preference over Egypt and Jordan, both Sunni Muslim states, President Assad has placed his hopes with Shia Iran and therefore this competition is projected as a Sunni-Shia Muslim internecine conflict and this is the colour of the civil war raging in Syria to displace President Assad with a candidate of choice from the Muslim Brotherhood, preferred by the Sunni world. It is pertinent to highlight that amongst others, the fight against Assad (regime change being the unstated aim) is being waged by Al Qaida jihadis along with numerous fighters sponsored by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the western world, including Israel. Principles, if there are any which are followed in the real world of energy geo-politics and geo-strategy already stand compromised.

At this stage there is the requirement to inject the role of the other affected party who is in direct competition with Syria – Israel. In addition to the gas that Syria is to receive from Iran for supply to Europe, her own (recently discovered, but under played) Qara gas field close to her border with Lebanon and near the Russian naval port of Tartus on the Mediterranean coast is believed to be equal if not greater than the gas reserves of Qatar; bestowing a great advantage to Syria. Around the same time, Israel which was till recently an energy deficient nation hit pay dirt by the discovery of a ‘giant’ gas field in the offshore Levant basin. Both Syria and Israel are therefore now in direct competition with each other for supply of gas to Europe, which in practical terms would be cheaper than the gas sourced from either Iran or Qatar due to the low transportation costs. A map is highlighting these links and issues.

When viewed in perspective, Israel and Syria will both have the economic edge over Iran and Qatar due to reduced distances, whereas in strategic terms, the enhanced role that Syria could play directly, combined with the leverage of Iran and Russia at the expense of Qatar, Turkey and Israel becomes the compelling and time critical reason for the west and the Sunni world to nip the threat before it can develop. USA which is not only a strategic partner of Qatar, has compulsions since her strategically important bases of CENTCOM are located in Qatar; these include the Air Expeditionary Wings of the US Air Force as well that of the Royal Air Force. Naturally, she would wish that the Iran-Syria initiative is eliminated from the equation. Since the thrust of the western initiative is also directed against Iran, this also reinforces Sunni domination over the Islamic world by the House of Saud over the Shiites of Iran. While the benefits for Israel and Turkey are obvious, this also dilutes Russian influence over Syria, while it provides an alternative source of gas for the US Nabucco pipeline. At the same time this restricts Chinese penetration in Iran’s energy infrastructure. Thus while the immediate case to act against Syria is loudly made out as retribution for Assad’s purported use of chemical weapons against the freedom loving people of the sponsored ‘Free Syrian Army,’ the game plan is larger with major strategic ramifications – behind the planned attacks, it’s all about gas.

About the author:
Brig Amar Cheema, author of The Crimson Chinar: The Kashmir Conflict – A Politico-Military Perspective

Israel Partners with Obama’s War on Syria

11 Dec

By Stephen Lendman
Global Research, December 09, 2014

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Both countries partner in each other’s wars. Israel bombs Syria at its discretion. Naked aggression by any standard. Longstanding Israeli practice.

The latest incident striking a Damascus’ international airport warehouse. Believed to contain Iranian and Russian-supplied weapons. Separate attacks targeted a Dimas area military site near Lebanon’s border. Syrian and Lebanese sources reported at least 10 strikes. Israel’s last air attack was in March. Against alleged Syrian Quneitra region military positions. On Syria’s side of the Golan.

A Syrian Foreign Ministry letter to Ban Ki-moon and Chadian Security Council president Mahamat Zene Cherif said in part:

“The Syrian government called for imposing deterring sanctions on Israel, which did not hide its policy in supporting terrorism, calling also on taking all procedures, in accordance with the UN Charter, to prevent Israel from repeating such attacks.”

The letter accused Israel of committing a “heinous crime.” Striking Syrian territory lawlessly. Wanting Security Council imposed sanctions. US veto power prevents it.

Russia called Israeli attacks “aggressive action.” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich saying:

“Moscow is deeply worried by this dangerous development, the circumstances of which demand an explanation.”

Iranian Foreign Minister spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham strongly condemned Israeli air strikes, saying:

“The Zionist regime intends to misuse Syria’s critical conditions, but the consequences of warmongerings will backfire on the regime.”

Israel collaborates with anti-Syrian terrorist groups, she added. Massacring its “oppressed people.”

Separately, Fars News reported “(a)n Iraqi army unit…find(ing) around 10 weapons and munitions depots (containing) Israeli-made weapons and explosives.”

“(I)n Hamrin mountains.” Apparently used by IS terrorists. According to Fars News:

“This is not the first time that such revelations are made about Israeli arms aids to the terrorists in the region. In February, a senior Iraqi military commander disclosed that the weapons used by ISIL in its war against both the governments of Syria and Iraq are Israeli-made. In June, the Syrian army discovered and seized a large cache of Israeli-made weapons and ammunition from Al-Qaeda-linked militants in Banias city of the Tartous governorate near the Lebanese borders. The Syrian troops discovered the arms depot in al-Maydan district of Banias city arresting several armed rebels during the operations. The security forces also confiscated several sniper rifles, thousands of bullets and forged documents as well as maps of Banias city from the armed rebels. Syrian Special Forces seized weapons and ammunition in farmlands in Banias city and arrested an armed group in the countryside trying to flee to the Lebanese territories. Earlier, in 2013, the Syrian army discovered and seized Israeli-made missiles and weapons from armed rebels in Reef (outskirts of) al-Qusseir in Northwestern Syria. (I)n December 2012, the Syrian army seized Israeli-made missiles and weapons from the armed rebels near the border with Jordan. The army confiscated (from terrorists) Israeli-made LAV anti-tank missiles and several wireless equipment which were also made in Israel…”

Israel neither confirmed or denied the latest attack. At the same time, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said:

“We have a firm policy of preventing all possible transfers of sophisticated weapons to terrorist organizations.”

Israel supports Islamic State, Nusra Front and other anti-Syrian terrorist groups. Serving as their air force. Along with Washington.

UN Golan Heights observers report regular contacts between Israel and radicalized terrorist groups. According to the UN Tribune:

UN Disengagement Observer Force(s) (UNDOF) “monitoring the 1974 ceasefire between Israel and Syria have witnessed interactions between members of the Israeli Defence Forces and the Al Nusra Front who have taken over a large part of the Golan Heights.” Including treating wounded terrorists in Israeli hospitals. Israel’s Ministry of Health admitted treating about 1,000 in four northern Israeli hospitals.

An IDF spokesman saying “in the past two years the Israeli Defense Forces have been engaged in humanitarian, life-saving aid to wounded Syrians, irrespective of their identity.”

UNDOF reports show IDF/extremist rebel interactions weren’t limited to medical care. Israeli forces were seen handing two boxes to extremist groups in Syrian territory.

Israeli soldiers opened a Syrian border gate. Letting two unidentified individuals enter Israel.

The IDF erected tents for dozens of families of alleged Syrian deserters. In Syrian territory. About 300 meters from Israel’s border.

Syria complained last September. Telling UNDOF the so-called camp was a “base (for) armed terrorists.” A legitimate target if not removed.

Syrian UN envoy Bashar Jaafari comments often about anti-government terrorist groups getting aid from neighboring countries.

Including an “undeclared alliance with Israel,” Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Mossad-connected DEBKAfile (DF) said unnamed “Middle East military and intelligence sources” called Israel’s latest attack its “first overt military clash with Russia” since conflict erupted in March 2011.

Allegedly targeting Iranian weapons. Moscow supplied SA-25 components. Other “top-line anti-air missile systems.” Intended for Syrian and Hezbollah use.

Russian transport planes supposedly “shipped these consignments in the last few days to the military section of Damascus international airport.”

Israeli air strikes occurred the day after Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov met with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut.

DF sources claim Moscow wants “a reckoning with the US and Israel over the fall in the last week of October of the large Russian intelligence post at Tel a-Hara in southern Syria to Syrian rebel units.”

“One of the most highly sophisticated Russian intelligence bases outside its borders…The prized hi-tech apparatus, much of it unfamiliar to Western spy agencies, was quickly shipped out of Syria for examination in the West.”

On Monday, US military sources said Israeli strikes targeted newly arrived Russian hardware. Including advanced missiles and radar.

DF saying to be deployed ahead of a possible US/Turkey imposed northern Syria no-fly zone.

Letting US warplanes operate within Syrian territory from Turkey’s Incirlik airbase. Including against Syrian aircraft, helicopters and drones entering no-fly zone areas.

Moscow calls establishing any type buffer zone direct US intervention against Syria. Giving it just cause to defend Assad.

Another wrinkle in what’s ongoing is Israel’s upcoming March 2014 elections. Netanyahu’s prime ministerial job up for grabs.

Citing security threats served him well in previous campaigns. He hopes fear-mongering will help this time. Claiming a region filled with threats.

Invented ones serving his interests. Israelis overwhelmingly supported Operation Protective Edge. Attacking Syrian positions shows Netanyahu’s toughness.

A Knesset Channel aired poll shows he’s in for a close race. An opposition Labor/Hatnua center-left alliance getting 23 seats.

Compared to Netanyahu-led Likud’s 21. Partnering with one or more right-wing parties might be enough to remain prime minister.

Despite his sagging popularity. Plunging from 77% around midyear to 38% currently.

Polls show Israelis favor him for prime minister over other choices – 26% approval compared to Labor’s Isaac Herzog’s 15% and Economy Minister (Jewish Home party) Naftali Bennett’s 11%.

Elections are over three months away. A lifetime in politics. Anything can happen between now and then.

Maybe another Gaza war to shore up Netanyahu’s popularity. Beware possible false flags or other stunts for whatever he may have in mind.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Syria: Death Squads Receiving Training in Joint US/Qatar Operation

8 Dec

By Brandon Turbeville
Global Research, November 27, 2014
Activist Post 26 November 2014

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According to a new report by Reuters, Western-backed death squad fighters operating in Syria are receiving a portion of their training inside Qatar via the Qatari government and the United States.

The unnamed sources of the information reported to Reuters that the training was taking place near Doha, Qatar in between the border of Saudi Arabia and the American al-Udeid Air Base, the largest U.S. Air Base in the Middle East. Al-Udeid is located inside a military zone protected by Qatari special forces.

According to Reuters, “Syrian rebel sources” have reported to the news agency that many of the fighters trained in Qatar belong to the Free Syrian Army, an umbrella group of death squad fanatics passed off as “moderate” by Western governments.

The training, as described by the sources, has been running for close to a year.

Reuters states that the program involves the identification of small groups of jihadists fighting in Syria by the CIA, the relocation of these jihadists to Qatar via Turkey, and the subsequent training in “ambush techniques” by the U.S. and Qatar before the fighters are shipped back in to Syria via Turkey.

Although Reuters admits the training of the death squads in the art of ambush, the news agency attempts to claim that the fighters are in no way trained in IEDs or otherwise more advanced techniques.

While mainstream outlets like Reuters portray the “rebels” being trained at al-Udeid and surrounding locations as “moderate” or, at least, not members of the Islamic State, Reuters is also forced to admit that Qatar is by no means opposed to supporting IS militants in its battle against Assad. Indeed, Reuters states that “A source who works with rebel groups said Qatar had delivered weapons, mostly mortar bombs, to the Islamic Front and some FSA brigades about two months ago and had paid some salaries for Islamic Front groups.”

Such training of death squad battalions in Qatar is by no means the first recorded instance of Western operated jihadist training operations nor is it the largest. It must be remembered that, over a year ago, European press outlets reported that jihadists numbering in the tens of thousands were being trained in Jordan for the purposes of being deployed against Assad in Syria. These militants were the “highly-skilled” and organized fighters of the Islamic State that appeared in Iraq and Syria shortly thereafter.

Of course, the reality is that there is no discernible difference between the Islamic State, Free Syrian Army, or any other “militant/rebel” group operating against the secular government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Indeed, IS is nothing more than Al-Qaeda which is entirely controlled and coordinated by Western powers since the very beginning. IS followed from ISIS which followed from IEIL, IEI, and Al-Qaeda in Iraq/Nusra Front. The Free Syrian Army is nothing more than a public relations creation designed to operate as the public face of jihadist fighters who are every bit as brutal, fanatical, savage, and backed and controlled by Western powers as the IS.

Without a doubt, there is no such thing as a “moderate” rebel in Syria and the individuals who graduate from the Qatari/American training program will prove as much.

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 300 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.

The Geopolitics of Gas and the Syrian Crisis: Syrian “Opposition” Armed to Thwart Construction of Iran-Iraq-Syria Gas Pipeline

6 Dec

By Dmitry Minin
Global Research, September 19, 2014
Strategic Culture Foundation 31 May 2013

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What has one of the most democratic countries of the Middle East, Syria, done to tick off some of its neighbors in the West, the fierce fighters for democracy? The irrationality and unscrupulousness of the approaches Western countries have taken to the Syrian crisis, when the same people who in Europe are considered terrorists are declared «freedom fighters» when it comes to Syria, becomes clearer in light of the economic dimension of the Syrian tragedy. There is every reason to think that by helping destroy its own cultural and historical roots in Syria, Europe is first and foremost fighting for energy resources. And a special role is played by natural gas, which is emerging as the main fuel of the 21st century. The geopolitical problems connected with its production, transportation and use are perhaps more than any other topic on the radar of Western strategists.

In the apt expression of F. William Engdahl, «Natural gas is the flammable ingredient that is fueling this insane scramble for energy in the region.» A battle is raging over whether pipelines will go toward Europe from east to west, from Iran and Iraq to the Mediterranean coast of Syria, or take a more northbound route from Qatar and Saudi Arabia via Syria and Turkey. Having realized that the stalled Nabucco pipeline, and indeed the entire Southern Corridor, are backed up only by Azerbaijan’s reserves and can never equal Russian supplies to Europe or thwart the construction of the South Stream, the West is in a hurry to replace them with resources from the Persian Gulf. Syria ends up being a key link in this chain, and it leans in favor of Iran and Russia; thus it was decided in the Western capitals that its regime needs to change. The fight for «democracy» is a false flag thrown out to cover up totally different aims.

It is not difficult to notice that the rebellion in Syria began to grow two years ago, almost at the same time as the signing of a memorandum in Bushehr on June 25, 2011 regarding the construction of a new Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline… It is to stretch 1500 km from Asaluyeh on the largest gas field in the world, North Dome/South Pars (shared between Qatar and Iran) to Damascus. The length of pipeline on the territory of Iran will be 225 km, in Iraq 500 km, and in Syria 500-700 km. Later it may be extended along the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea to Greece. The possibility of supplying liquefied gas to Europe via Syria’s Mediterranean ports is also under consideration. Investments in this project equal 10 billion dollars. (1)

This pipeline, dubbed the «Islamic pipeline», was supposed to start operation in the period from 2014 to 2016. Its projected capacity is 110 million cubic meters of gas per day (40 billion cubic meters a year). Iraq, Syria and Lebanon have already declared their need for Iranian gas (25-30 million cubic meters per day for Iraq, 20-25 million cubic meters for Syria, and 5-7 million cubic meters until 2020 for Lebanon). Some of the gas will be supplied via the Arab gas transportation system to Jordan. Experts believe that this project could be an alternative to the Nabucco gas pipeline being promoted by the European Union (with a planned capacity of 30 billion cubic meters of gas per year), which doesn’t have sufficient reserves. It was planned to run the Nabucco pipeline from Iraq, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan through the territory of Turkey. At first Iran was also considered as a resource base, but later it was excluded from the project. After the signing of the memorandum on the Islamic Pipeline, the head of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), Javad Oji, stated that South Pars, with recoverable reserves of 16 trillion cubic meters of gas, is a «reliable source of gas, which is a prerequisite for the building of a pipeline which Nabucco does not have».It is easy to observe that about 20 billion cubic meters per year will remain from this pipeline for Europe, which would be able to compete with Nabucco’s 30 billion, but not the 63 billion from the South Stream.

A gas pipeline from Iran would be highly profitable for Syria. Europe would gain from it as well, but clearly someone in the West didn’t like it. The West’s gas-supplying allies in the Persian Gulf weren’t happy with it either, nor was would-be no. 1 gas transporter Turkey, as it would then be out of the game. The new «unholy alliance» which formed between them shamelessly declared its goal to be «protecting democratic values» in the Middle East, although logically speaking the U.S. and its allies ought to begin this with their own partners in the coalition against Syria from among the monarchies of the Persian Gulf, which are questionable in this regard.

The Sunnite countries also see the Islamic Pipeline from the viewpoint of interconfessional contradictions, considering it a «Shiite pipeline from Shiite Iran through the territory of Iraq with its Shiite majority and into the territory of Shiite-friendly Alawite Asad». As renowned researcher on energy issues F. William Engdahl writes, this geopolitical drama is intensified by the fact that the South Pars field lies in the Persian Gulf directly on the border between Shiite Iran and Sunnite Qatar. But tiny Qatar, which is no match for Iran in power, makes active use of its connections with the military presence of the U.S. and NATO in the Persian Gulf. On the territory of Qatar are a command node of the Pentagon’s Central Command of the U.S. Armed Forces, the headquarters of the Head Command of the U.S. Air Force, the No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group of the British Air Force and the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing of the U.S. Air Force. Qatar, in Engdahl’s opinion, has other plans for its share in the South Pars gas field and is not eager to join efforts with Iran, Syria and Iraq. It is not at all interested in the success of an Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, which would be completely independent of the transit routes of Qatar or Turkey leading to Europe. In fact, Qatar is doing all it can to thwart the construction of the pipeline, including arming the «opposition» fighters in Syria, many of whom come from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Libya. (2)

Qatar’s resolve is fed by the discovery by Syrian geological exploration companies in 2011 of Syria’s own large gas-producing area near the Lebanese border, not far from the Mediterranean port of Tartus which Russia leases, and the detection of a significant gas field near Homs. According to preliminary estimates, these discoveries should substantially increase the country’s gas reserves, which previously amounted to 284 billion cubic meters. The fact that the export of Syrian or Iranian gas to the European Union could take place through the port of Tartus, which has ties to Russia, is unsatisfactory to Qatar and its Western patrons as well. (3)

The Arabic newspaper Al-Akhbar cites information according to which there is a plan approved by the U.S. government to create a new pipeline for transporting gas from Qatar to Europe involving Turkey and Israel. The capacity of such a pipeline is not mentioned, but considering the resources of the Persian Gulf and Eastern Mediterranean region, it could exceed that of both the Islamic Pipeline and Nabucco, directly challenging Russia’s South Stream. The main developer of this project is Frederick Hoff, who is «in charge of gas issues in the Levant» and a member of the U.S. «Syrian Crisis Committee». This new pipeline is to begin in Qatar, cross Saudi territory and then the territory of Jordan, thus bypassing Shiite Iraq, and reach Syria. Near Homs the pipeline is to branch in three directions: to Latakia, Tripoli in northern Lebanon, and Turkey. Homs, where there are also hydrocarbon reserves, is the «project’s main crossroads», and it is not surprising that it is in the vicinity of this city and its «key», Al-Qusayr, that the fiercest fighting is taking place. Here the fate of Syria is being decided. The parts of Syrian territory where detachments of rebels are operating with the support of the U.S., Qatar and Turkey, that is, the north, Homs and the environs of Damascus, coincide with the route that the pipeline is to follow to Turkey and Tripoli, Lebanon. A comparison of a map of armed hostilities and a map of the Qatar pipeline route indicates a link between armed activities and the desire to control these Syrian territories. Qatar’s allies are trying to accomplish three goals: «to break Russia’s gas monopoly in Europe; to free Turkey from its dependence on Iranian gas; and to give Israel the chance to export its gas to Europe by land at less cost». (4) As Asia Times analyst Pepe Escobar indicated, the Emir of Qatar apparently made a deal with the «Muslim Brotherhood» according to which it will support their international expansion in exchange for a pact of peace within Qatar. A «Muslim Brotherhood» regime in Jordan and in Syria, supported by Qatar, would abruptly change the entire geopolitical world gas market – decidedly in favor of Qatar and to the detriment of Russia, Syria, Iran and Iraq. It would also be a crushing blow to China. (5)

The war against Syria is aimed at pushing this project through, as well as at the breakdown of the agreement between Tehran, Baghdad and Damascus. Its implementation has been halted several times due to military action, but in February 2013 Iraq declared its readiness to sign a framework agreement which would enable the construction of the pipeline. (6) It is worth noting that after this, more and more new groups of Iraqi Shiites have risen up in support of Asad; as The Washington Post admits, they have «no little battle experience» in confronting Americans in their country. Along with fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah, they make an ever more formidable force. (7) The stakes in the «elimination game» started in Syria by the West over the gas pipeline continue to grow. The end of the European Union’s embargo on supplying weapons to the Syrian opposition, which according to the BBC the majority of EU member countries were against (8) (democracy, where are you?), might not be able to help the rebels.

As for civilization and justice, when profit is at stake, sentiment doesn’t matter. The main thing is not to play the wrong card in this unfair game that smells of blood and gas.

Cold Turkey: Ankara Buckles Against Western Pressure, Turns to Russia

5 Dec

By Andrew Korybko
Global Research, December 03, 2014
Oriental Review

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Russia has abandoned the troubled South Stream project and will now be building its replacement with Turkey. This monumental decision signals that Ankara has made its choice to reject Euro-Atlanticsm and embrace Eurasian integration.
In what may possibly be the biggest move towards multipolarity thus far, the ultimate Eurasian pivot, Turkey, has done away with its former Euro-Atlantic ambitions. A year ago, none of this would have been foreseeable, but the absolute failure of the US’ Mideast policy and the EU’s energy one made this stunning reversal possible in under a year. Turkey is still anticipated to have some privileged relations with the West, but the entire nature of the relationship has forever changed as the country officially engages in pragmatic multipolarity.

Turkey’s leadership made a major move by sealing such a colossal deal with Russia in such a sensitive political environment, and the old friendship can never be restored (nor do the Turks want it to be). The reverberations are truly global.

Missing The Signs

It’s amazing how much the West lost in such a short period of time and due to such major and totally unnecessary political miscalculations, and they owe their roots to the disastrous regime change operations in Syria and Ukraine.

The US In The Mideast:

Nearly four years ago, the US co-opted Turkey to ‘Lead From Behind’ in overthrowing the democratically elected Syrian government. However, things didn’t go as quite as planned and the Syrian people engaged in a fierce Patriotic War to defend the existence of their secular state. Turkey purposely sat out on the anti-ISIL coalition because it wanted solid guarantees of its reward in a regime-changed Syria, but none were forthcoming. Its leadership held firm, so the US started playing the ‘Kurdish Card’ of ethnic nationalism to bully them into submitting – which eventually backfired. The US crossed the line by arming and training the Kurds (some of whom are registered as terrorists by Turkey), and faced with such an existential threat to their state (that would either be unleashed wittingly or unwittingly with time), they knew they had to pivot, and fast.

Turkey is playing all sides to its advantage, so it will still retain a defense relationship with NATO and the US, but it will no longer behave as an absolute lackey.

The EU And Its Energy Policy:

Meanwhile, the EU totally fudged its energy policy with Russia. As a result of the Ukraine Crisis, it began exerting tremendous pressure (which was already building up) on the South Stream project, calling upon EU energy legislation clauses to state that its member states’ cooperation with Russia was illegal. Poorer countries like Bulgaria pleaded for the EU to allow the project, emphasizing how important it was for their national economies (which haven’t received much of Brussels’ largesse since joining), but to no avail, as the EU stonewalled the project. Russia had no choice but to find a replacement route and saw that the only viable stand-in was Turkey, which just so happened to be undergoing its most serious crisis ever with the US.

Ducks In A Row

Let’s look at how this geostrategic masterpiece was set into motion, as the past two months contain the main moves of this political waltz — and they’re all centered on Russian President Putin.

(1) Serbia:

Putin’s October visit to Serbia served to inform his counterpart about the plans to scrap South Stream, while still giving him strong assurances that the Russian-Serbian relationship will remain intact going forward, with or without the gas project.

(2) Syria and Sochi:

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem visited Sochi last week and personally met with Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov. The meeting, held behind closed doors, was highlighted for the attention that the Russian leader gave to his guest. Putin could have told him to tell President Assad about his upcoming visit to Turkey in order to reassure his loyal and respected partner of his positive intentions and the bigger picture surrounding his motives.

(3) Turkey:

The final step was for Putin to go to Turkey and make the announcement after his meeting with Erdogan. Turkey understands that it has made a definitive move by joining the project and that there is no going back from this decision. It had been rejected by the EU for decades and it now realizes that its closest military ally, the US, had played it for a fool during the entire Syrian War.

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Worse still, the Kurdish Card has gotten out of control, and it seems inevitable that sooner or later the insurrection will be rekindled, and with bloody and destabilizing consequences. On a pragmatic note, global events are shifting from the West to the non-West (read: BRICS and G20), so in the national self-interests of the Turkish state, it’s seen as wise to join the new winner’s circle (after being rejected by Europe and betrayed by the US) and try to turn over a new leaf with new friends.

The Aftershocks

The announcement of the New South Stream has global implications, but here’s just a few of them as arranged by region:

Europe:

The EU will now have to pay for expensive LNG (on average 30% higher) that will likely be sold from the terminal at the Greek-Turkish border as well as remain energy dependent on risky Ukrainian routes. But there’s a catch – the poor Balkan South-Stream-300x160countries are able to get in on the deal by building relatively cheaper overland connecting lines and resurrect the project…but only if they leave the EU and its authoritative energy legislation. All that it takes is for Greece or Bulgaria to abandon Brussels (which doesn’t seem improbable), and the project can either go through Macedonia en route to Serbia or via Bulgaria as initially planned, then up to the Hungarian border. At this point, it’s certainly a tantalizing thought for the countries that have paid the most for their ‘integration’ and received scarcely anything in return. Expect the New South Stream to politically divide the EU like never before.

Mideast:

There is no way that Russia would have sold Syria out after so many years of friendship, especially after Putin’s high-profile meeting with Muallem. Thus, Turkey is not forecast to directly invade Syria (although it could continue training some anti-government fighters). It may, however, allow the US to use its airbases and airspace to carry out airstrikes on ISIL.

Since it’s now behaving in a multipolar fashion, Turkey is playing all sides to its advantage, so it will still retain a defense relationship with NATO and the US, but it will no longer behave as an absolute lackey. Taking things further, Turkey’s shift to the East might allow Iran to one day build pipelines through it to access the Western market, and it could also allow Turkmen gas to transit both countries en route to Europe.

As Western decision makers are scratching their heads and wondering how it ever got to this point, they’d do well to remember that none of this would have happened had they just allowed the Syrian and Ukrainian people to live in peace with their democratically elected governments.

As Western decision makers are scratching their heads and wondering how it ever got to this point, they’d do well to remember that none of this would have happened had they just allowed the Syrian and Ukrainian people to live in peace with their democratically elected governments.

Eurasia:

Most significantly, Turkey has shown that it has the political grit to make historical decisions independent of NATO, showing that it is embracing its pivotal geography and combining it with a multipolar policy.The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (importantly encompassing Russia and China) just outlined the specific procedures for admitting new members a few months ago, although at the time analysts thought this was directed towards India and Pakistan.

Now, however, with Turkey already being a dialogue partner, it might make the rapid step to observer status and full-fledged membership just as quickly as it made its decisive pivot. There’s also been talk of the country entering into a free-trade agreement with the Russian-led Eurasian Customs Union, so it might incidentally find its EU replacement with Brussels’ eastern adversary, Moscow.

As Western decision makers are scratching their heads and wondering how it ever got to this point, they’d do well to remember that none of this would have happened had they just allowed the Syrian and Ukrainian people to live in peace with their democratically elected governments.

Andrew Korybko is the political analyst and journalist for Sputnik who currently lives and studies in Moscow.

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