Turks, Cease Fire!
By Israel Shamir
In the Middle Eastern corrida, the moment of truth is
approaching fast. Assad’s Syria is running around the
arena like a wounded bull, fraught and worn down by a
year of cruel strife. Banderillas of mujaheeds stick out
of his broken hide. The public, the Europeans, the
Americans, the Gulf rulers call: Kill him! And the
Turkish matador steps forward, pulling out his sword.
His cannons rain death on Syrian slopes; fire and lead
storm consumes the hills. Erdogan is preparing to deal
last blow to his exhausted neighbour.
“Don’t do it, Erdogan! Desist!” – cry thousands of Turks
demonstrating against the bloody war. Syria was a good
neighbour of Turkey: Assad did not allow the Kurdish
separatists to open the second front against the Turks,
he delivered Ocalan to their hands, he did not turn the
loss of Antioch into a national cause, he kept Israeli
army at bay, he bore the brunt of war in Lebanon,
supporting the brave warriors of Hezbullah. Post-Assad
Syria will be worse for Turkey.
If Erdogan’s Janissaries will deal treachourous strike
to Syria, and cause its collapse, a terrible whirlwind
will ensue, and it will engulf Turkey as well.
Inevitable massacre of Syrian Christians by the
mujaheeds with Turkish support will remind the world of
so many forgotten Christian villages and cities smashed
and depopulated by the victorious Turks. The ghosts of
slaughtered Armenians and Greeks will emerge from the
lanes of Smyrna and the shores of Van. From broken
Syria, Kurdistan will definitely come to being, reducing
Turkey to the size envisaged by the Versailles
Saudis will be the great winners of the war, not the
Turks. The dream of Caliphate will be centered on the
Gulf, not on the Bosphorus. With their own hands, the
Turks prepare their own defeat.
Good relations with Russia will suffer immensely. Russia
has called upon Turkey to restrain its actions and
reminded of terrible responsibility to be born by the
aggressor. Russia wants Syria to find its own way.
Russia is the biggest trade partner of Turkey; thousands
of Turkish engineers and technicians work in Russia,
thousands of Russians holiday in Turkey.
Moreover, the relations of Russia and Turkey are
important beyond practical mercantile considerations.
These two great countries are heirs to one greatest
Eastern Roman, or Byzantine Empire. The Ottomans
inherited her main body that was broken in 1918 into
many splinters; her most important offshoot, Russia
inherited her spirit and faith. If you seek symmetry,
think of the Western Roman Empire: her main body,
Western Europe, was fragmented and is now in the process
of being united, while her most important offshoot, the
United States of America, inherited her imperial spirit.
Russians and Turks are very similar to each other; the
Turks are “Russians in shalvars”, they say. Both nations
went through modernisation and Westernisation, but
preserved their own identity. Both nations passed
through violent denial of faith from 1920s to 1990s, and
rediscovered their religious leanings afterwards.
The Russians see the Turks as equal human beings and
feel empathy to them. The leading Russian historian Lev
Gumilev exalted the Russian – Turkic comradeship-in-arms
that broke the wave of Western Crusades in 13-14th
Centuries. In modern times Vladimir Lenin gave a hand in
friendship to Mustafa Kemal and forfeited all Russian
claims to defeated Turkey, for he expected Turkey to
sustain its historical role of protector of the East.
The Russians and the Turks must remain friends. If the
Russians ask Erdogan “Do not do it!” he should listen.
Instead, he grounded their plane.
The Russians are not obsessed with Bashar al Assad, nor
is he their best friend. He came to power in year 2000,
but his first visit to Moscow took place only in 2005,
meanwhile he frequented Paris and London. Russian trade
with Syria is not too big, either. Israeli PM Netanyahu
promised Russian President Putin to protect Russian
interests in Syria in case of the rebels’ victory. The
Russians aren’t selfish; they insist on peaceful
transformation, in accordance with Syrian people’s will,
and they do object to the rape of Syria as envisaged by
Saudis and the West.
The relations of Turkey with Iran will suffer. For Iran,
Syria is an important partner, a window to the
Mediterranean. Victory of pro-American forces in Syria
will close the window. Iranians will be mighty upset
with Turkey. It is not a good idea to spoil these
The people of Turkey do not want war with Syria; even
Turkish generals are not keen to unleash the dogs of
war. Only pro-NATO Westernisers within Turkish
leadership desire to overturn the legitimate government
in Damascus. Other Turks remember that doing Western
bidding never led Turkey – or Russia – to any good
I understand why the Turkish leaders decided to embrace
and support the rebels a year ago: they were misled by
the Western-cum-Gulf spin of Syrian government’s
forthcoming speedy collapse, and they wanted to be on
the winning side. But after the noisy media campaign,
reality came and debunked the propheciers: despite
billions of dollars wasted by Qatar, Saudis and the
West, despite heaps of armaments transported through
Turkish-Syrian border, the Assad regime stands fast and
still enjoys enough popular support.
This is the right time for reassessment. In every game,
there is a moment for it, when you decide not to throw
good money after bad one. And reassessment started, with
many Turks calling to write off the losses, stop
supporting the rebels and try to restore normalcy under
the good slogan “with neighbours – no problems”. The
New York Times reported a few days before the
flare-up of the U-turn in Turkish minds: people are
disappointed with flow of unruly Syrian mujaheddin, with
lawlessness, with flood of refugees, with growth of
Kurdish resistance. Turks are known for their daring
U-turns. In 1940, they sided with Germany being certain
of the Reich’s victory, but in 1944 they understood that
the USSR is winning, and changed sides. Now is the time
to change sides, to go back to strict neutrality, to
stop support of the rebels and seal the border, said the
people to the New York Times reporter.
But people overseas who planned the Syrian Disaster,
drew different conclusion of this turn of mind: they
decided to speed up their operations and provoked the
artillery exchanges. We do not know who aimed the
mortars at the Turkish border villages: whether it was
done by the Syrian Army in the heat of the battle, or by
the rebels trying to trigger the war. The Turkish
reported that the shots were fired from the NATO
weapons recently given to the rebels by the Turks:
"Erdogan's Government Handed over the Mortars to Armed
(Free Syrian Army) Groups in Syria which Shelled
Akcakale Town" – they headlined. The ammunition was
reportedly NATO ammunition 120 AE HE-TNT. Even the
New York Times admitted that it's unknown who's
responsible for mortars landing in Turkey. A German TV
canal ZDF reported: mortars were launched from territory
controlled by FSA fighters. A leaked video clip said
they admitted responsibility for striking Akcakale and
killing five Turkish nationals.
But it is possible that the shells were fired by the
government troops who shot at the rebels and the Turkish
villagers became innocent victims. Provided the Turks
allow the rebels to operate freely on their territory,
it is quite possible.
It is still not a good reason to begin war. Let us
remember 2010, when the Israelis murdered mafia-style
nine unarmed Turkish volunteers on board of Mavi
Marmara. This was brutal murder at full daylight,
filmed and undoubted. Erdogan threatened to send Turkish
Navy to the shores of Palestine and relieve Gaza by
force. Now, did he do it? No, he did not. Now he is
brave to shoot at tired and devastated Syria; but why he
was not brave enough to deal with Israel, like the
Now Israelis hope Erdogan will help the rebels to
destroy Syria; they asked Turks to coordinate joint
action with them. So instead of punishing Israel,
Erdogan ends with doing Israel’s desire.
I remember snowy February 2003 in Istanbul, when I came
to argue for banning the US army passage to Iraq. I told
them that “the long standing Zionist plan is being
realised. First, Iraq must be destroyed. After that,
Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, until all the former Ottoman
Empire and its neighbours from Pakistan to Africa are
turned into a Zone of Special Interests for Israel,
policed by the Turks.
This plan was outlined by General Sharon many years ago,
re-formulated by the Zionist Neo-cons Richard Perle and
Douglas Feith in 1996, and is now upheld by the
Wolfowitz Cabal, the people who run the US foreign
policy. If it will be done, it will have been done with
the connivance of Turkey, of its ‘Islamic’ government.
I am sorry for you, friends. You were shepherds of the
Middle East, now you help the Wolves. You were the
rulers of men, now you have become the servants of your
masters. You were the protectors of Islam, now you are
about to allow desecration of al-Aqsa Mosque.”
What I said then, became true; nothing good came out of
Iraqi war. And now, I can say it again: nothing good
will come out of Syria War.
The stories of multiple massacres are often just
stories. Wikileaks published a Stratfor report saying:
"most of the [Syrian] opposition's more serious claims
have turned out to be grossly exaggerated or simply
untrue." And the events on the ground are certainly
not worse than whatever was done to Kurds in Turkey, and
the Turks probably do not cherish a R2P intervention in
My advice: do not try to finish off Syria, return to
your policy of strict neutrality, cease fire and
logistic support of the rebels. Let the Syrians sort out
their problems themselves, without foreign intervention.
Israel Shamir is now in Turkey. His