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The Russian - Turkey Tinder Box in Syria

Updated on February 14, 2016
Turkish tanks along the border of Syria
Turkish tanks along the border of Syria
Turkish aircraft
Turkish aircraft
Russian aircraft
Russian aircraft
Russian missiles
Russian missiles

Russia has its own agenda. It is a friend to the West only when it benefits them, much like many friends we have all had in our lives. Putin has decided for the next few years, it no longer benefits Russia to be a friend of the West, but be more of a bully that only tolerates the West. In a recent RAND study and wargame, Russian forces easily retook the Baltic nations now under NATO within three days! The Baltic forces simply were overwhelmed and NATO could do little to prevent Russian forces. Not very reassuring for NATO, which is going be tested when Turkey and Russia clash in Syria.

It has already happened. Turkey shot down a Russian MiG when it strayed across the border. Putin has not forgotten and is simmering to find a way to cause trouble. After that incident, the Russians deployed top-of-line S-400 ground-to-air missile batteries and advanced Sukhoi Su-35 warplanes to their base in Latakia near the Turkish border. Turkey had asked NATO month ago for a No-fly zone over the Northern areas of Syria to allow refugees a safe haven, but Obama was too afraid to allow it. Turkey has since simmered with being a NATO member and publicly said what is the point of being a member, the US cannot be trusted to have our back. One cannot disagree.

There is a lot of mistrust between Russia, Turkey, and the US, all bidding for Syria resolution! This is a horrible mix. Turkey and Russia and the US do are not agreeing on Syrian targets, so, they are not allies but each has its own agenda. Turkey is not in favor of arming the Kurds, who they consider terrorists also, yet, the US considers the only effective ground force against ISIS. Russia supports Assad and the Syrian army and does not target ISIS, but the Free Syrian fighters who are supported by NATO.

Turkey is increasingly frustrated with being a NATO member. Russia senses this and Putin is going to test this as a payback for the shooting down of the MiG. Russian air defenses have already curtailed Turkish aircraft to stay within their borders. Angered by this, Turkey recently conducted a two-our cross-border artillery bombardment on Saturday, Feb. 13, targeting Syrian army forces positioned around the northern Syrian town of Azaz and the Kurdish YPG. The Kurds had recently retook an airbase some six km from the border supported by Russian aircraft. Turkey has demanded the Kurds leave the captured airbase or face more consequences and Turkey requested NATO's help. The Turkish bombardment was an indirect attack on Russia's power. If you know history, Syria was part of greater Turkey in WW1, then, Turkey was on the German side and when the war ended, the Allies carved up the Ottoman (Turk) Empire. Turkey, today, has expressed its longing for part of it to be recovered. They offered over a year ago, to send in its military to create a buffer zone along the border if NATO provided air cover. Obama said no.

Now, tensions are simmering between Turkey-Russia. Both countries have what they think are valid reasons in Syria. Putin may create a situation where NATO is tested and then the question is- will NATO come to defend Turkey?

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    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 19 months ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Right before World War II became a world war, Japan's military rose to have more power than other political elements in Japan. Could it be that Mainland China's military is moving to ascendancy in Communist China? Would that explain how North Korea can seem to thumb its nose at its neighbor to the north and the United Nations with impunity? North Korea called recently for a negotiation to end the Korean War. Let's watch that one carefully and do some wise interpreting of what that offer really means, coming as it does at this time. Would China need to sit in on that one, and if so would they send civilians or military to head their delegation? Is Kerry following up on the offer, and if not why not? Don't lose sight of the Far East's major tinder box. America's history of dealing with two crises at the same time is notoriously poor. It would be even poorer in an election year as President Obama is doing fund raisers and traveling to Communist Cuba. Let's also be certain that China only moves antiaircraft missiles onto its new South China Sea isles and not ICBM's!

    • perrya profile image
      Author

      perrya 19 months ago

      For sure, China is now sending AA missiles to the remote islands it claims in the South China Sea...

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 19 months ago from California

      Glad you brought China,and South Korea into the mix. While this country is focusing on The Middle East they are doing an end run that looks deadly.

    • perrya profile image
      Author

      perrya 19 months ago

      Yes, some would claim with good reason it is part of the beginning of events leading to Armageddon. When you add in US vacillation, weather change, ocean extremes, the rise of China, Russia and how ISIS, the ultimate dark force, has quickly spread , I would say I would agree.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 19 months ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Interesting discussion of a tinder box, of which there are too many in today's world. A third player almost anywhere in today's world could trigger another holocaust; Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, to mention but a few.

      I believe America to be a force for good. But force of any kind can be both good and bad. ISIL Assad, Putin, Kim, sad to say are beasts with other stray cats scavenging their perimeters such as Boko Harom, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Queda, the Taliban, and others less known including pirates, warlords, drug cartels, all manner of mafias, enslavers, and board room titans.

      The world cannot remain this way. Can it? If not, how will it be resolved? How will America's strength be applied? When? Where, and by whom? How will China be involved? When, not if, the fires start, how will contagion be contained?

      We may need to know all the 2017 "players" before we can postulate even a tentative answer, unless events overtake us all.

      Our world is far more dangerous for all of humanity than the world we inherited from our grandparents; sane voices and wise councils seem even fewer and so much more needed.