Is Turkey Ready to Stop World War III Before It Starts?


By Darius Shahtahmasebi at


The recent coup attempt in Turkey over the weekend comes at an interesting time. Had it been successful, it could have presented Turkey with a unique opportunity to pursue a wholly different agenda in the region—though such an agenda is unclear given the many conspiracies surrounding the coup. But the coup’s failure puts Turkey on a different road ahead, given Erdogan’s recent foreign policy agenda.

Turkey has recently worked to normalize relations with Israel. President Erdogan went even further, attempting to mend Turkey’s rift with Russia. Now, the Turkish government has shocked the world by announcing it wants to mend ties with neighboring Syria, a country whose government it has been aggressively attempting to topple for at least five years.

Turkey’s problem with Syria

In order to understand what has been happening between Syria and Turkey, one needs to understand the geopolitical struggle in the region. In 2009, Qatar put forward a proposal to run a pipeline through Turkey and Syria with the purpose of exporting Saudi gas. The Syrian regime rejected this proposal, however, and instead formed an agreement with Iran and Iraq. That arrangement sought to produce a pipeline through Syria and Iraq, send Iranian gas to European markets, and leave Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia out of the route completely.

This Iranian-Iraq-Syria pipeline deal would strengthen Iran’s presence in the region—to the detriment of the aforementioned countries, and ultimately to the detriment of Washington and the hegemony of the U.S. dollar. The pipeline could provide gas to European markets, completely bypassing U.S. allies in the region. This means any subsequent agreements could be more freely negotiated without U.S. interference.

It is consequently unsurprising that Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey—with the aid of Washington—have been thebiggest players in the push to oust Bashar al-Assad out of Syria.

Why the move toward diplomacy?

In comments broadcast live on state television Wednesday, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced Turkey would be looking to mend its ties with Syria and Iraq, stating good ties with Syria were needed “for the fight against terrorism” and to provide stability in the region.

“We normalised relations with Russia and Israel. I’m sure we will normalise relations with Syria as well. For the fight against terrorism to succeed, stability needs to return to Syria and Iraq,” Yildirim stated.

Turkey’s policies regarding Syria have done the complete opposite of providing stability. Take, for example, the mayhem in neighboring Syria, which has in recent times begun to blow back directly in Turkey’s face.

What diplomacy?

Despite this apparent move toward diplomacy, in an interview with the BBC’s HARDtalk, Yildirim appeared to, once again, blow smoke in the eyes of the public. It has become unclear how this change in tactic towards Syria will manifest itself—if at all. “Things need to change in Syria, but first of all Assad should change. Unless Assad changes, nothing changes in Turkey,” Yildirim said.

Despite the fact Turkey openly aids ISIS fighters and has covertly been facilitating the passage of weapons and fanatical fighters across the Syrian border, Yildirim was ambitious enough to accuse the Syrian leader of creating the conditions that gave rise to ISIS. It should be noted that these allegations against Assad’s policies are ludicrously untrue in light of the fact that serving U.K. Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond admitted ISIS evolved out of the U.S.-U.K. occupation of Iraq. He stated:

Many of the problems we see in Iraq today stem from that disastrous decision to dismantle the Iraqi army and embark on a program of de-Baathification…it is clear a significant number of former Baathist officers have formed the professional core of Daesh [IS] in Syria and Iraq and have given that organization the military capability it has shown in conducting its operations”.

But these facts won’t stop the anti-Assad propaganda machine. “As long as Assad is there, the problem won’t be solvedWe’ll have some other terrorist organisation coming up because it’s the attitude of the Syrian regime which created ISIS,” Yildirim said.

Further, Turkish officials have gone on record to reiterate and confirm this point: that Turkey will not negotiatewith Syria while Assad remains in power.

“We hope things will get better and we will formalise our ties with the Syrian people’s government. But we don’t think Bashar al-Assad has the capacity to represent the Syrian people,” said an unnamed Turkish official.

What the corporate media and anti-Assad policy makers refuse to accept is that since the start of the Syrian war, Assad has maintained the majority support of his people. This was true even up until the end of last year. Rarely mentioned is also the fact Assad won the Syrian elections in 2014 by a landslide, with international observersclaiming no violations. Assad has a higher approval rating than Barack Obama.

Yet in Turkey’s eyes, Assad still has to go.

It would appear, therefore, that Turkey’s position on Syria has remained relatively unchanged despite the fact Turkey appears willing to reach a compromise regarding Syria. Of course, they are happy to work with Syria, but only if Assad goes and is replaced by a NATO-friendly puppet, which was the hope of Turkey and its allies all along. Therefore, the repercussions of trying to remove Assad from power, which will set the conditions for a direct confrontation with Russia, China, and Iran, are still in the pipeline.

Has Turkey given up its ambition of pursuing policies that will create the conditions for World War III? Apparently not.

This article (Is Turkey Ready to Stop World War III Before It Starts?) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Darius Shahtahmasebiand Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11 pm Eastern/8 pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, please email the error and name of the article at [email protected].

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