Thursday 26 November 2015

Sultan Erdogan and the Sukhoi 24

It’s again the time when you, the reader, are invited to answer a question:

How would you tell if an armed man in Syria, fighting against the forces of President Assad and his Iranian, Russian and Hizbollah allies, is an Evil ISIS Terrorist or a Freedom Loving Pro-Western RebelTM?

Does he, for instance, eat a dead soldier’s heart on video? Or is he photographed with another soldier’s decapitated head, cooking it on a grill? Does he impale a Christian woman on a crucifix in a church in Maloulaa? Has he been photographed playing football with the severed heads of civilians or holding up the severed heads of dead soldiers? 

Was he part of the conspiracy to launch a poison gas attack which would subsequently be blamed on Assad? Does he conduct mass executions on camera? 

Does he yell “Allahu Akbar” as he shoots at a Russian pilot dangling helplessly from a parachute, totally unable to defend himself?

If your answers to any of these questions was “yes”, then you can rest assured that there’s no further need to doubt: the man you are looking at is definitely, without question, a Freedom Loving Pro-Western RebelTM.

The latest proof of this, of course, was the Russian Sukhoi 24 strike aircraft shot down by Turkey on 24th November 2015.

A few weeks ago, I’d written an article in which I’d said that the situation in today’s world reflects, with startling similarity, the worst of the era just prior to the First World War, with its entangling alliances and competition for colonial empires, and the worst of the era just prior to the Second World War, with a rising tide of fascism allied to so-called democracies in the west, as well as resentment against minorities and economic stagnation. In this situation, not only does it only need a spark to set off a war, but with the tensions swirling about, there is no shortage of said sparks. They don’t even need to be very large sparks, or planned at a top level; if the situation is right, almost anything can set off the powder train that leads to war.

Also, in this situation, it’s extremely easy for minor players to practically hold the main actors hostage, by playing on said entangling alliances. Let’s remember that it only needed a Serbian spy chief, almost certainly acting without his own government’s knowledge, to arrange for the killing of an Austrian prince for Russia, Germany, France, Italy, Britain and Turkey to go to war against each other a hundred years ago.  

Today, things are on the brink. With two nuclear powers, one – though filled with hubris – in decline, one again rising after a two decade eclipse, on opposite sides, both at the head of alliances, it becomes even more important to try and stave off direct conflict. Because that would mean the end of civilisation as we know it.

Of course, the two alliances aren’t equal. One is a defensive grouping of secular and Shiite Arabs, with the help of Shiite Persians, none of whom have ever conducted aggressive war on anyone in centuries, headed by an Orthodox Christian nation which is not a theocracy and which has no history of aggressive war in living memory. On the other hand is a hyper-aggressive imperialist empire which has been at war for almost the entirety of its existence, heading a grouping including an economic imperialist entity of European powers, with an eighty year long history of alliance with Sunni jihadism. In simple terms, Alliance A can only benefit from peace; Alliance B, on the other hand, wants endless war.

Now, of course, both alliances are headed by nations armed with enough nuclear weapons to wipe out all multicellular life on earth, and it would be logical to conclude that neither one of them actually wants a nuclear war. This opens up plenty of room for the minor players on both sides to do as they wish, in the belief that they can hide behind the skirts of the big nations for protection from the consequences of their actions. In this instance, of course, the last thing Alliance A, which is interested in peace, will do is take part in this kind of brinkmanship. For Alliance B, though, it’s a different thing altogether.

Now, the most important local components of Alliance B are Saudi Barbaria, which at the moment is suffering both from an impending economic disaster (of its own making) at home and is stuck in an unwinnable war (of its own making) in Yemen. It is not, at this point in time, in a position to do much in Syria except run (some) money and weapons to the jihadis. On the other hand, to the north, is Turkey, under a deeply corrupt and totally unscrupulous president, Erdogan, who has, apart from a deeply vindictive streak, extremely strong reasons for making sure the war in Syria continues as long as it possibly can. For one thing, his family is directly involved in profits from oil smuggled from that nation.

Turkey, for those who don’t know, is a genuine terrorist-sponsoring state, one which for some reason seems to avoid the attention of almost everyone who points to Saudi Barbaria as the source of all jihadist terror. If it's Barbaria with its petrodollars, its poisonous Wahhabism, and its desire to rule the Muslim world, which provides the ideological fount of world jihad, it is the much more civilised-appearing Turks, with their business suits and resorts with bikini-clad women, their ancient architecture and their European Union aspirations, who are its enablers. Simply put, without Turkey’s active cooperation and encouragement, no matter what Saudi Barbaria, Qatar or the Imperialist States of Amerikastan did, there would have been no jihad in Syria and no Islamic State.

The government of Turkey has, since 2011, thrown open its southern border with Syria to jihadists. The flight from Istanbul to Gaziantep, on the Syrian border, is called the “jihad express” because it is loaded with young men clearly on their way to fight. It poured, and pours, in money and weapons (a lot of which was shipped from Libya by the CIA) to the jihadis, treated, and treats, their wounded in its hospitals, has repeatedly bombed the anti-jihadi Kurds, and continues to insist on Assad’s overthrow. In return, it has looted the factories and architectural treasures of Northern Syria and Iraq; it buys looted Syrian oil at a pittance and passes it on at a huge markup to EU markets; it, in fact, is probably the only real beneficiary of the Syrian war on either side, if you leave out the Islamic State.

Turkey also has a habit of “protecting” Turks elsewhere by military invasion. It attacked and divided Cyprus, setting up a so-called Turkish republic in the north of the island. It has repeatedly looked for an excuse to intervene directly in Syria too, on one occasion planning a false flag attack to justify an invasion. In 2013 it deliberately connived in a false flag gas attack in Ghouta which was blamed on Assad and which it expected, wrongly, would inevitably trigger an Amerikastani invasion. It has watched with increasing dismay in the past few weeks as Russian planes and Iranian and Hizbollah troops have helped the Syrians smash the Freedom Loving Pro-Western RebelTMs as well as ISIS, and advance rapidly back towards the north of the country, where the border with Turkey lies.

Once the border is secure, there goes the only open route to supply the Freedom Loving Pro-Western RebelTMs. There go the profits from oil and antiquities smuggling. There go, too, the premise on which Erdogan has spent so much time and effort – to recreate Turkey’s historical hold over the territories of Northern Syria. And, too, there goes the Great Big Syrian Rebellion. Any terrorists trying to sneak into Syria after that would have to cross the open desert from Jordan, and be bombed to fragments; or sneak in across the heavily fortified border to the south with the Zionist entity, and more likely than not suffer the same fate. So, to Erdogan’s mind, the Russian bombing campaign – the single most important factor in this reversal of fortunes – had to be stopped.

And that, precisely, is why the Russian Sukhoi 24 was ambushed and shot down. To try and stop the Russian bombing campaign.

Yes, of course it was an ambush. There can be absolutely no doubt about that at all. Even according to the Turkish account, the Russian plane was in Turkish airspace for (an oddly specific) “seventeen seconds”. Let’s see what would have to be done within those seventeen seconds:

1. The Turks would have to warn the Russian plane, which they said they did “ten times”. The Russian pilot who survived said, much more believably, that there had been no warning at all.

2. They would have to determine that a border violation had occurred. By a plane flying at high speed at most a few hundred metres across a border line.

3. Having confirmed the violation, which could not possibly be done by a fighter plane following the Russian aircraft on its radar alone, but would require triangulation from ground radars and plotting on a computer map, they would have to order the fighter pilot to shoot down the Russian plane.

4. The fighter pilot, even if he had been tracking the Russian plane on his radar, and had locked on it with his fire control radar in anticipation that it just might cross the border, and even if his finger had been on the firing button (an insanely dangerous thing to do, like walking along with your finger on the trigger of a gun with the safety catch off, and pointing at someone) would have to press that button, and the missile would then have to go and explode in close enough proximity to the Russian plane to have shot it down before it got back over its own side of the border. Which, even according to the US, didn't happen: the Russian plane, Alliance B admits, was hit in Syrian airspace.

All in the space of seventeen seconds.

Not only does this beggar belief, it’s not even something that anyone ever does. Extremely short duration border airspace violations aren’t unknown; even Erdogan himself in 2012 protested loudly when a Turkish F4 was shot down (deep inside Syrian territory) off the coast of Latakia, saying that planes should not be shot down because of this. Turkey, in any case, has probably the world's highest incidence of border violations, and has been bombing the Kurds in Iraq for decades - as it has now been doing in Syria as well. This was an excuse that didn’t wash even with some people in NATO, with the former vice chief of the US Air Force calling it a “very bad mistake”. And the Prime Minister of Turkey, Erdogan’s partner in crime Ahmed Davotoglu, claimed that he’d given the order days ago to shoot the plane down.

But there’s no need even for all this analysis to know it was all a set up, a planned ambush. When did you ever see so many video cameras all set to photograph a plane being shot down? Either someone knew it was going to happen, when and where...or they got so lucky I’d like to know why they don’t go to the nearest casino and break the bank.

Even the choice of the plane targeted was far from random. It was a Sukhoi 24, an aging pure strike aircraft, unable to fight back against an aerial attacker, not one of the far more modern and far more potent SU 30 or 34 Russia also has in action over Syria. It had no escort, and was flying alone, with no wingman; adequate for a strike operation against an enemy on the ground but a sitting duck for an aerial ambush from across the safety of an international border.

If, as is surpassingly likely, the plan was to get the Russians to back down, it was another bit of evidence of Erdogan’s hubris and ignorance of history. Of course the Russians didn’t back down. They’ve rather increased their bombing campaign, and extended it right to the border crossing, within metres, literally, of Turkish territory. Erdogan, who had said the plane was shot down to “protect his Turkmen brothers”, can only watch as said Turkmen are barbecued in the smashed wrecks of their vehicles. There’s nothing he can do now, and he knows it. Russia is looking to even the score, and has said as much; any Turkish plane which even paints a Russian bomber with its radar is likely to be blown into scrap metal before the pilot can turn into position to open fire.

And this is what convinces me that in this instance, Erdogan and his cronies acted alone. They did not take NATO’s permission, and in fact must have alarmed and infuriated the war criminals in Warshington. Because, by this act, not only did they bring NATO into a position of confrontation with Russia they didn’t want – Wall Street can’t make a profit once it’s turned into radioactive ash – but in one stroke they made a no fly zone a reality. 

Only, it’s not the long desired NATO no fly zone over northern Syria; it’s a de facto no fly zone over...southern Turkey. It’s made the defeat of the Freedom Loving Pro-Western RebelTMs much more likely, not less.

Behind the ritual expressions of support for Turkey at NATO, there must have been incensed back room excoriations of Erdogan's idiocy.

Not that the Turkmen did themselves any favours by shooting one of the Russian pilots as he dangled from his parachute, and shouting “Allahu Akbar” as they did so. It’s fortunate that the other pilot was rescued by the Syrian Army, or he’d likely have suffered the same fate. That the same Turkmen hit the helicopter trying to reach the shoot down site (which was several kilometres inside Syria) with an American-supplied anti-tank missile, killing another Russian serviceman, was simply pouring more fuel on the fire. Russia now has a real, personal grudge against the Turkmens.

And, as the Chechen terrorists discovered after Beslan, when Russia has a grudge against anyone, they don’t tend to live very long. Erdogan could have asked Shamil Basayev, Salman Raduyev, Doku Umarov, Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, or the Saudi terrorist Khattab about that. But he can’t, because they’re all dead.

Sultan Erdogan, for all his fuming, will only be able to watch helplessly as his grand plans come undone. Unless, of course, NATO thinks the risk of the Third World War is worth taking, and gets stuck into the war fully.

In which case we are all done for, anyway.     

Update: Apparently Erdogan was told in no uncertain terms by his masters that he was alone on this one. He's already started the process of damage control.


  1. . . with you all the way on this one, Bill - apart from the bit about Cyprus. As an ex-1 Para squaddie I have a personal take and perhaps one day, time permitting, we can discuss the subject.
    Best to you and want you to know how much I value your take on stuff.

  2. I think sultan Erdogan has crossed a line he should have kept away from. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. One headline at Sputnik news said a US General is calling for Turkey to be kicked OUT of NATO. It would be funny, to me for sue, if Turkey is hung out on its own over this incident. Putin/Russia will not ignore this. Your mention of Chechnya was very relevant to this mess. I can muster no compassion for Erdogan, he did this to himself. As I was taught way back in my distant youth, don't do the crime if you can't do the time. We all make mistakes, the thing is, own up to yours. Oh, and don't keep making the same mistake over and over. Once is all I was allowed.

  3. Good analysis & deeply troubling - the missile the F-16 fired travels at a little over 1Km/Second so the F-16 must have been within 20KM range & most likely following the SU-24 out of the crew's visible range. Considering ISIS don't/didn't have (until Turkey) an air-force its totally reasonable that the Russian crew did not consider an air to air threat.

    If the F-16 pilot fired within 2 or even 17 seconds of the alleged violation of Turkish airspace it is certain that in all events the pilot had been given a shoot to kill pre-command as no 2 way communication was possible.

    My conclusion is this was a pre-planned ambush that only Erdogan could have sanctioned but I don't believe it is safe to say that he did not get prior permission from the US? Never forget the US created ISIS as a tool & Erdogan was/is profiting from stolen oil etc. so its a partnership.

    1. Yes of course. But as I've said elsewhere, ISIS has proved perhaps a bit too successful, with franchises sprouting everywhere, even in countries like Bangladesh which weren't involved.


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