According to some reports, the US spy agency along with al-Qaeda terrorists are now operating in the southern areas of Turkey that border Syria.
According to a July 31 report by the NBC News channel, nearly two dozen missiles have been delivered to the rebels in Syria by Turkey. The report, however, did not provide details on the exact type of the missiles, also known as MANPADs (man-portable air-defense systems).
An interview with security analyst, Charles Shoebridge.
The interview also offers the opinions of two other guests: author and historian Webster Griffin Tarpley and international lawyer, Franklin Lamb.
Q: Looking at the role of Turkey, this program specifically is taking a look at what role Ankara has been playing in Syria. Before we move on to the broader aspects of the conflict there, let’s discuss the question of Turkey becoming the main stronghold now of foreign forces against President Assad. Would you go as far as saying that?
Shoebridge: I think the fact is that if you have got a situation where many of the refugees have formed camps along the Turkish border, it’s inevitable that amongst those all those camps are going to be used as a haven if you like for the armed opposition’s organization, not purely as if you like humanitarian areas.
Now Turkey has of course provided a lot of support for those refugees from the fighting and they are also of course it’s well known, it’s been publicized by various media, in fact not really hidden by Turkey itself that of course within those camps, within those areas naturally you therefore also have the organization of the armed opposition and amongst the armed opposition you are also going to have elements of what would certainly in the West be called extremist or even al-Qaeda operatives. And so therefore I think if you look at even the geography of the place, let alone the politics, if you look at the nexus within Turkey of the Syrian rebel fighters being largely based there; if you look at for example the West cease of access to Syria via Turkey for example the CIA of course interconnecting with Turkish agents in what is after all a NATO power, then of course you will see why Turkey has become so crucial not only to the rebel supplies but also their political and military organization.
Q: Our guest earlier on in Washington referring to the ties between Turkey and the United States, how important those ties have now become. We had in the latest reports the Turkish lawmakers saying that Turkey’s Hatay province which is on the Mediterranean coast is now in his words in the hands of American and Israeli agents. Now in your view how much of its authority has Turkey actually given away on this issue, Mr. Shoebridge?
Shoebridge: I think obviously all countries are beholden to their political ties. We need to consider not just the region but also the global level of Turkey’s interactions with its allies. The United States is clearly one of its most important if not its most important ally and naturally therefore you would imagine that it will if you like align itself with America’s policy in the region particularly in respect to its neighbor Syria and now it has done that. In fact of course Turkey is going beyond what the United States is actually on the surface at least publicly doing, and it is actually channeling arms and equipment to the rebels as opposed to through intermediaries. There is also an issue in relation to the EU, don’t forget that not only is Turkey a member of NATO, it is also seeking EU membership.
The EU is also supporting, albeit not with weapons but it is supporting politically the rebels on the ground and outside Syria and therefore again we can expect Turkey to do this. But I would say that also I think in many ways Erdogan has looked at the situation that is possibly imploding within Syria because of the nature of the backing from rebels from Saudi Arabia and other places and it may well be that Erdogan is actually just positioning as indeed your last speaker said, positioning Turkey for possible implosion of Syria in the future to its best advantage particularly vis-a-vis the Kurdish population of course in Syria itself.
Q: Mr. Shoebridge, would you agree then that what Turkey decides when it comes to Syria is what the United States has decided beforehand that it is taking its guidelines from the United States?
Shoebridge: Yes, I think they’re working together, like I said they’re both members of NATO; they are extremely close in terms of their military structures and also politically of course. Really it seems to me almost inconceivable that Turkey would act certainly overtly without at least the approval of the United States and one might expect that given their closeness.
To go back to what your previous speaker was saying, I would imagine that it’s extremely unlikely that we will see direct American presence, boots on the ground or even any military intervention in Syria.
The reason I say that is because first of all American public opinion especially in an election year is now opposed to war as we have seen in Afghanistan, Iraq and so on.
But secondly I think there is increasing awareness amongst aspects of the media. We have seen articles recently in Der Spiegel, in New York Times and in other places that is revealing slowly but surely to the American and Western public that they cannot take it for granted that because people are opposed to ...Assad in Syria that those people are democracy-seeking themselves. So it may be people are seeing more and more that they should not support such people.