After destroying Syria with tens of thousands of foreign jihadists and threatening the Russian Air Force operating in the country at Damascus invitation with man portable surface to air missiles (MANPADs) in jihadi hands, it seems the chickens have come home to roost for Washington's Sunni Muslim allies against Assad. The Kurdish militant group the PKK has shot down a U.S.-made Turkish AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter with a MANPAD, reportedly killing its two-man crew, while at least six Turkish soldiers died in combat with Kurdish guerrillas this weekend. Overall, the PKK claims to have killed 48 Turkish combatants in recent days, a number that does not appear to be an exaggeration.
The video reproduced below not only went viral via #TwitterKurds feeds, but also among pro-Russian and Greek nationalist Twitter accounts as the news spread around the world via sites like the Lebanese Christian-managed, pro-Assad site Al-Masdar News and later, the mainstream media's Bloomberg News. For its part, the Turkish military announced that the AH-1 Cobra had experienced a technical failure and denied that it was shot down, while pro-Turkish Twitter accounts sought to portray the shoot down footage released on a known PKK video channel online as several years old.
Nonetheless, the caption on the video posted at the Kurdistan YouTube channel, before .Gov-oogle took down their video for supposedly 'violating its content standards', bears the unmistakable signature of the pro-PKK Syrian PYD party's offices in Moscow, which were established in February 2016:
Yevgeny Primakov's Old...and Now Russia's 'New' Kurdish Comrades
In mid-February after the Russian Foreign Ministry officially welcomed the Syrian Kurds and demanded that they be included in the Geneva peace talks over Syria to the fury of the Turks, Russian diplomatic analyst Yury Barmin tweeted out the picture above. The photo shows legendary KGB spymaster and former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov nicknamed "Maxim" as a younger man, wearing Kurdish Peshmerga garb sometime back in the early 1970s, when the PKK had a Marxist orientation and were considered another 'revolutionary' movement by Moscow. Thus when the Russia Analyst saw the video on Saturday May 14, we knew we'd seen a prominent Russian wearing the same garb in an old photograph, and went back into our email archives to find a message sent to 'W the Intelligence Insider' on Saturday February 20 with this exact tweet by Yury Barmin.
Attention Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Neocons Who Expect to Fight Assad to the Last Turk:
Proxy War and Allah Snackbaring While Firing Anti-Tank Missile Videos Go Both Ways
For us, the message from Moscow and Tehran to the Turkish military is unmistakable: "if you arm your jihadi proxies to attack our troops and aircraft in Syria your choppers and your troops will die too, and the Americans and Israelis will sit back and laugh at your stupidity at bleeding and dying for their new Cold War. What you are getting now in terms of casualties and embarrassing videos of your losses posted online is but a taste of what would happen to the Turkish Army if it faced the Iranians and Hezbollah if not the Russian aerospace forces in northern Syria. In which case, the Turkish Army had better order up several thousand body bags. You had better stop fighting us to the last Syrian and foreign jihadi inside Syria because your militants have failed to topple Assad and will fail to hold Aleppo, or to save Daesh from defeat."
The recent video released by the Turkish Army, in which Allah snack-baring ISIS terrorists fire a captured Russian Kornet anti-tank missile on an Israeli-modified M60 Sabra tank to no apparent harm to the crew, smacked of a propaganda effort on the Turks' part to buck up their nervous tankers as they enter more built up urban areas where the PKK are waiting in ambush with large IEDs or rocket propelled grenades. If the Russian-made Kornets took out Israel's ultra-modern Merkavas during the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah war, they can take an increasingly heavy toll on the Turks' older M60s, to say nothing of their light armored vehicles and Humvees across southeastern Turkey.
Not coincidentally, this week some Twitter feeds which track Iranian military hardware in the Syria/Iraq theater of war noticed the Persians have produced a spitting image knockoff of the Russian Kornet, if not a license produced model through the new post-U.S./EU sanctions arms deals between Moscow and Tehran. It isn't hard to imagine in whose hands those Kornets will end up or what their effect will be on Turkish Army morale in much the same way the once invincible IDF had to pull back and re-evaluate its armored tactics after Hezbollah killed dozens of Israeli tankers with Kornets in 2006.
While Israeli media has gloated at the number of Tehran's generals and hundreds of IRGC and regular Iranian soldiers killed by the jihadists in Syria since October, it has basically failed to reckon with the fact that Iran excels at irregular, guerrilla warfare, not at meat-grinder urban combat of the kind that requires heavy artillery and airpower only the Russians can presently provide. It also seems the Western and Israeli media alike are being caught off guard by what may be a brewing PKK offensive -- even though the alternative media, led by Damascus-based French activist Thierry Meyssan, reported that Russia and the U.S. would arm the Kurds against Erdoğan's government in March.
Team RogueMoney's very own Bankster Slayer picked up the story on March 20:
The Washington (Com)Post's Interesting Reaction to the Realization the Turk Bleeds Too
With the prominence given to the Turkish Army Cobra helicopter shoot down by The Washington Post, which generally has ignored the destruction of the Saudi Army's U.S.-made tanks and equipment by the Houthis in Yemen, it's easy to believe that Meyssan and his American friend Webster Griffin Tarpley's reporting from March was spot on. The only surprise really now is that it took this long for Moscow and Tehran to agree, most likely after the visit of Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani in mid-April to the Russian Ministry of Defense, that the best defense against unlimited quantities of TOW and other anti-tank missiles being poured into Syria is a good offense.
Namely, arming the PKK and the Houthis more aggressively to take the fight to the anti-Assad jihadists sponsors and ultimately, sending them the message that their war in Syria is futile and they will pay dearly for it. Perhaps to the point of Russia playing the card with the Turkish military of:
"Do you really think the Zionists aren't ready and eager to fight their enemies Assad and Iran to the last Syrian Sunni militant or Turk? Do you really think the neocons or your supposed 'friends' in Washington give a crap about the lives of your soldiers? They are plotting with Rothschild and Rockefeller to create a greater Kurdistan out of not only Syria and Iran but also YOUR country too. Will you really let this fool Erdogan lead your proud Army into the valley of death inside northern Syria and risk direct confrontation with us? Do you really think the Americans will stand with you after Russia incinerates one of your armored brigades twenty kilometers inside Syria, or hang you out to dry and then divide your country up with the victorious Kurds?"
Heavy losses for the Turkish and Saudi armies alike as they seek to deal with PKK and Houthi insurgents will turn the cracks in Ankara and Riyadh's relations with Washington into chasms, creating a wide open door for Russian psyops to target the Turkish military with inducements of restored trade and energy ties if they finally work up the nerve to overthrow Erdoğan in a military coup. A palace coup in Saudi Arabia against the warmongering 30-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is also rumored to be in the works, according to RogueMoney's friend Dr. Jim Willie.
Escalate in Syria or Finally Negotiate in Good Faith?
Turkey is at a Crossroads, as is the Increasingly Indefensible U.S.-Turkish Alliance
Prior to these events, the increasingly dictatorial and Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan saw the resignation of his Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. Although Davutoğlu disavowed speaking a word against Erdoğan's administration, outsiders to Turkey's notoriously intricate 'Deep State' politics have speculated that the PM had become increasingly unhappy with his reduced powers in the government and Ankara's overall foreign policy after promises of 'zero problems with neighbors'.
At least one reason for the resignation of course, often de-emphasized in some British or U.S. media accounts that sought to portray Davutoğlu as a moderate rather than radically neo-Ottoman academic, is that relations between Washington and Ankara have become increasingly strained as Turkish repression and aggression become harder for the U.S./NATO and the EU to rationalize. In a sign of growing cognitive dissonance in the Pentagon branch of America's own 'Deep State', over at War on the Rocks, active duty officers (whose editorials carry the standard disclaimer that they speak only for themselves and not the Army) are trying and failing to deflect criticism of Turkey as an authoritarian, terrorist sponsoring state that at best, turned a blind eye to ISIS and Al Nusra operating from its territory, and at worst directly supported Daesh and Al-Qaeda's Syrian branch.
In a previous article here at RogueMoney, we showed a video of Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-SC/neocon) hissy fit during Secretary of Defense Ash Carter's recent testimony over the fact that the Pentagon continues to arm and fund the YPG Kurds, who have close ties to the PKK. The fact that the YPG Kurds are basically the only non-Assad aligned force inside Syria that has proven effective at fighting ISIS (with Sen. Graham's beloved 'moderate rebels' generally offering weak to little resistance and often surrendering or selling weapons to Daesh) didn't make it into Sen. Graham's rant.
Payback's a You Know What:
The Neocons Underestimated Russian and Iranian Retribution vs. Turkey
According to Katehon, the think tank run by Eurasianist ideologue Alexandr Dugin in Moscow, Erdoğan "is looking for a way out of the crisis" Davutoğlu created by personally ordering the shoot down of the Russian SU-24 Fencer bomber last November. At the time, Republican presidential candidates like Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush as well as Capitol Hill neocons like Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) rushed to declare their support for "our ally Turkey", and to blame the Russian Air Force for the incident. As it turned out, those who imagined that simply because Russia abstained from a direct military response that Turkey would get away with ambushing the SU-24 and then using its Grey Wolves terrorists to murder the Russian pilot in a war crime U.S. neocons tacitly endorsed because the Turks are in NATO were sorely mistaken.
At the collective level, Turkey is not only paying economically but is also apparently paying in blood for its treachery as Russian and Iranian arms increasingly flow to the PKK via long and porous borders with Iraq and Iran. At individual level, in March the Syrian Arab Army captured and displayed on camera some of the CIA-supported 'Free Syrian Army' TOW jihadis who shot down a rescue helicopter sent to find downed pilot Lt. Col. Oleg Peshkov and his surviving co-pilot Capt. Konstantin Murakhtin. As for Alparslan Celik, the Grey Wolves ultra-nationalist who was set free by a Turkish court due to supposedly insufficient evidence, we'd strongly advise him to avoid tourist areas in Turkey like Antalya frequented by 'Ukrainians' who are the physical type. Some of them might turn out to be GRU spetsnaz entering Turkey on fake passports to exact some retribution on Grey Wolves involved in the parachuting Lt. Col. Peshkov's murder.
Is Erdoğan Trying to De-escalate, or Clearing the Decks for Doubling Down with an Insane Turkish Invasion of Syria?
Turning to Katehon's reckoning, the policy of neo-Ottomanism with all out Turkish proxy war against Syria and illegal under international law base near Mosul, as well as Russia's sanctions against Turkish agro-exports and tourist industry, have taken their toll on the Turks' economic and political stability. The rumors that Erdoğan's old enemies after his purges of the Army, the secularists and the industrialists (who don't wish to see Turkey continue down the path of full blown Muslim Brotherhood governance and Islamist adventurism) are plotting against him may have motivated the Sultan to appear more reasonable. Alternatively, with the rumors that Erdoğan intended to appoint his son-in-law prime minister, the shakeup in Ankara may be purely about raw presidential power, and not about any real policy difference at all.
One thing is clear: the proxy war between U.S. 'allies' Turkey and Saudi Arabia on one side and the Syrian Arab Army, the Iranians and Russians on the other just got bloodier for Ankara. The notion that TOW or Stinger missiles are some sort of wunderwaffen that can bring about victory for the anti-Assad coalition in Syria if Washington merely has the will to continue supporting the widespread carnage is belied by retaliation in kind, with Turkish and Saudi troops dying on their own soil.
Will the Turks double down, or recognize the goal of fighting Assad and Iran to the last TOW jihadi isn't worth hundreds if not thousands of their soldiers' lives? Watch this space, we hope to have the answer to that question by mid-summer.