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Conflict Escalates Between Turkey And Russia, NATO In Play

Next Cold War Roundup 11-27-15

M/W/F 10AM Eastern.

 

Russia – Turkey – Europe – US – NATO Conflict in Syria Escalates and Complicates

o Game changer? The meetings and agreements between Russian and American military in which the two coalitions assured each other that they did not intend to shoot down each other’s planes, and established protocols to try to “deconflict” and avoid accidents now seems to be on the rocks. Russia deployed S-400 air defense missiles at Hmeimim air base in Latakia.

Defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Thursday that the military had been “sure that Russian planes destroying IS targets are guaranteed not to be attacked from the US-led so-called anti-IS coalition.”

But the downing of the Russian jet on Tuesday changed this and “now the safety of Russian fleet’s planes… will be ensured by more secure means,” he said.

o In addiiton to air defense system, Russia will increase the number of aircraft deployed and according to Interfax, all tactical bomber jets doing airstrike missions will be accompanied by fighter escorts with air-to-air missile capabilities.  Today, Turkey has decided to stop flying missions in Syria with the US anti-ISIS coalition. Anonymous sources in the Hurriyet article claim that this was a “mutual decision taken with Russia” in which Russia also “also halted its aerial campaigns near the Turkish border” but this remains to be seen. This agreement was supposedly made during initial talks about the shootdown on Nov. 25 but the article also mentions that relations between Russia and Turkey have been cut off and that the Turkish foreign minister has suggested a sidebar talk with Russian FM Lavrov at an upcoming meeting in Belgrade but Lavrov has, as yet, not agreed to it.  More on the no-fly zone Turkey has established for itself here — with a healthy dose of sarcasm.

o Syrian “Turkmen commander” who claimed his group shot Russian pilots in the air isn’t Syrian. He is Alpaslan “Celik” Steel, son of a former Turkish mayor and according to RT’s “In the Now” is a “member of a radical militant armgroup associated with MHP party”. MHP and Grey Wolves have ties to NATO and deep state. *See background articles below for more on Grey Wolves.

 

o There was no statement expressing regret or condolences from NATO after their emergency meeting of 28 NATO countries regarding the shootdown of the Russian SU-24 jet but Sec State Kerry did make such a statement the following day.

o The rescue operation by Syrian and Russian special forces lasted 12 hours during which another Russian was killed — a marine.

o The Turkish jet that shot down the Russian SU-24 entered Syrian airspace to do it, then left flying low enough to evade Russian radar at their air base in Latakia.

To attack the Russian bomber with a close-range air-to-air missile, the Turkish fighter jet had to enter Syrian airspace, where it remained for about 40 seconds. Having launched its missile from a distance of 5-7 kilometers, the F-16 immediately turned towards the Turkish border, simultaneously dropping its altitude sharply, thus disappearing from the range of Russian radars at the Khmeimim airbase.

o Interesting explanation of Russian use of the word “provocation” by Roland Oliphant.  Oliphant notes that Lavrov ” implied that America may bear some responsibility”.  This implication has been made in many,  many places and is spreading.,.

o In a press conference today, the Syrian foreign minister said the people calling for Assad to step down and supporting terrorists in Syria are trying to disrupt the Vienna peace talks/political process.

 

ISIS in Middle East, North Africa and Europe

o David Cameron is still trying to get authorization for full UK involvement in Syria from his parliament and has moved to full court press on the issue.  Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn opposes Cameron’s proposal and this has caused turmoil in the Labour Party. Members of his Shadow Cabinet are pressuring for a “free vote” for Labour MPs on the issue and two members of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet have gone to the length of calling for Corbyn’s resignation.

o Meanwhile, big news on countries teaming up in anti-ISIS (and other groups) in Syria.  France’s Hollande has followed through on his stated intention to personally meet with President Obama and President Putin to try to bring them together into an anti-ISIS coalition.  His efforts with Obama failed but his meeting with Putin in Moscow resulted in an agreement — Moscow and Paris have agreed to share intelligence about terrorist activity as well as military operations in Syria.  In a rather shocking statement considering his attitude to date, French foreign minister has said Syrian troops could also join the anti-ISIS coalition, which is desperate for ground troops.

Hollande: What we agreed, and this is important, is to strike only terrorists and Daesh [Islamic State] and to not strike forces that are fighting terrorism. We will exchange information about whom to hit and whom not to hit”

o “Germany plans to deploy several Tornado reconnaissance jets, a refueling aircraft and a frigate to help protect the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.” Although there has been no UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force in Syria, Germany cites the recent post-Paris attacks UN resolution that skirted around the edges by calling on countries to use “all means necessary” to counter ISIS as legal justification for their new involvement “which they said provided sufficient grounds for Germany to get involved in non-violent aspects of the mission.”

o These recent moves by France and Germany are seen by some as siding with the Kremlin.

 

o ISIS claims credit for attack in Tunisia where a suicide bomber with “10 kilos of powerful Semtex explosive” detonated on a “presidential guard bus” in Tunis on Wednesday.

o A reliable Kuwaiti daily journalist on the ground in Syria and Iraq reported that Russia has deployed ground troops in Syria for the first time. Reportedly their main function is to hold ground recaptured by the Syrian army and coalition partners. “According to Assad, Syrian forces are advancing on “almost” all fronts — and they probably need help holding these positions.

Hours Before the Terror Attacks, Paris Practiced for a Mass Shooting. “In a twist of fate, the simulated emergency was a mass shooting, according to Dr. Mathieu Raux, emergency room chief at the Pitié-Salpetrière hospital in Paris.” More in this from a BBC report.

o Last week it was reported that US has not bombed the ISIS oil tankers because of the risk of hitting civilians. Now the CIA says it was because of the environment.

o In the past, the idea that there were underlying western (and Saudi and Israeli) motives for the war in Syria, intent to redraw borders, etc. was considered to be rather fringe.  Now the NY Times is publishing op-eds with such proposals.

Warnings or No Warnings?

o The airman killed by “rebels” on the ground, Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Peshkov, was referred to as “commander” by the surviving airman, Konstantin Murakhtin, the navigator, who claims that Turkey gave no visual or radio warnings before shooting the plane down. Murakhtin also said he is sure that they never crossed the border into Turkey because he knows the territory well.

Konstantin Murakhtin

We were flying at an altitude of 6,000 meters in completely clear weather, and I had total control of our flight path throughout… You need to understand the difference in speed between a tactical bomber like a Su-24, and that of the F16. If they wanted to warn us, they could have sat on our wing..”

o Turkey originally claimed that they gave ten warnings in the 17 seconds that the plane allegedly breached their territory and on Wednesday released an 11 second recording of an alleged warning. They claim that the warning came from the Turkish Diyarbakir airbase, not from the attacking fighter jet.  While the media published the audio clip of the reported warning, the Russian Defense Ministry says their counterparts in the Turkish Defense Ministry said they released no audio of the warning, therefore it is presumed to be fake.

 

Afghanistan

o Doctors Without Borders is not too happy with the US military investigative report on the Kunduz hospital attack: “The US version of events presented today leaves MSF with more questions than answers […] MSF reiterates its call for an independent and impartial investigation into the attack on our hospital in Kunduz. Investigations of this incident cannot be left solely to parties to the conflict in Afghanistan.”

China

o China signed a long term contract is setting up a naval base in Djibouti, near Yemen. This is their first base on the African continent. Djibouti is strategically located near the world’s busiest shipping lanes, and of course, the site of the only official, permanent US military base in Africa, Camp Lemonnier and an vital American intelligence-gathering hub.

Useful Background Articles for Today’s Events

On the Trail of Turkey’s Terrorist Grey Wolves

o More on Grey Wolves and their ties to NATO, CIA, Gladio (Wikipedia)

 

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Joanne Leon

Joanne Leon

Joanne is a blogger with focus on issues of war and peace, a mom, engineer, software developer and amateur photographer.