Israel Shamir: The Southern Flank of NATO Is Collapsing Before Our Eyes

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


The Russian-Turkish deal concluded these days about the supplying of the S-400 air defense missile system caused a shock in the world. Turkey — the old long-term member of NATO, and as a result, the buyer of American arms — decided to acquire a Russian weapon. This is a loss for the American treasury and producers, and a profit for the Russian craftsmen of the defense industry. But happiness is not in the money. The weapon is not a refrigerator or a vacuum cleaner. The Americans warned the Turks: the Russian air defense won’t cooperate with NATO equipment, but the Turks waved away the warning. I.e. behind this deal the real prospect of an exit of Turkey from NATO and its reorientation to the east loomed. The western talking heads already tear their hair apart and curse Vlad Putin who yanked the charming Turkish woman into his harem.

Before our eyes the southern flank of NATO is collapsing. The deal on air defense is only the top of the iceberg. Of course, the diplomacy of Putin-Lavrov played a crucial role, but it wouldn’t work if Americans and Europeans didn’t treat Turkey like a captured slave who won’t be going anywhere. Americans pursued the titmouse that is the Kurds and missed the Turkish stalk. Europeans sacrificed the Turkish ally because of their internal political calculations.

The Turks became angry at Americans and at their European allies — and not without reason.

The other day the leading Turkish news agency published the highest quality report on the American bases in Syria, in particular about the air base in Kobani. The report contained a mass of technical details — arms, number of military personnel, defense parameters. Any intelligence of the world would sell family jewelry in order to obtain such intelligence information. In the West terrible crying arose: “The Turks endanger NATO military!”

It reminded me of the wave of attacks on Julian Assange. When he published correspondence of the American State Department, he (and at the same time me, because I was the link between WikiLeaks and the Russian press) was blamed for delivering American agents in Russia and Belarus to the authorities. After all, in this correspondence there were the names of people who were receiving under-the-table cash from America for conducting subversive activities. So it is in the same way that now the western newspapers started to cry: “How does the Turkish agency dare to give out American military secrets?” The representative of the news agency reasonably answered them: “Don’t mingle with terrorists. And if you do — then wait for revelations”. However, the report disappeared from the site of the agency — after everyone had read it.

The Americans decided to use the Kurds in Syria in order to win back part of the Syrian territory. The Kurds didn’t think about what they risk when they got involved in this adventure. They thought that while they are supported by the US and Israel, they can neglect the Turkish warning. But it was in vain! The Kurds could take Raqqa with the support of the American military and mercenaries, but this prize still can turn out as a strategic loss. Turks are extremely concerned by the progress of the Kurds in Syria and Iraq, behind which they quite reasonably see the efforts of the US directed at dismembering Turkey.

Therefore the Turks decided to address their partners in Astana — Russia and Iran. Qatar also decided to join this new bloc. After the recent visit of the American President Donald Trump to Riyadh, when the Saudis believed that the Americans appointed them as their favourite wife, they, together with their closest ally the United Arab Emirates, clashed with independent Qatar and demanded its total surrender. But instead of capitulation they achieved the opposite effect — Qatar turned towards Turkey and Iran.

The Americans thought that the Turks will want to keep their union with the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and maintain close connections with the European Union. But they also miscalculated here. The Turks want, of course, to be on friendly terms with the Saudis, but on the condition of their leadership. And if KSA thinks that it will conduct an independent game, and the Turks will support it – then the Saudis are mistaken.

And with the European Union it turned out even more ridiculous. For many decades Turkey stood on the threshold of the European Union, begging for a visa-free regime and for full membership. It didn’t receive anything besides the severe behavior of the European Sirs, who treated Turkey as their great-grandfathers to the withering Ottoman empire. Europeans remembered Turkey only when from there the wave of refugees from Syria and Iraq rushed to Europe.

When the rejection of mass resettlement of refugees became a political fact in Europe, the leaders of the European Union didn’t think up anything more clever than to shift the blame to President Erdogan — as though it was him, and not Mrs. Merkel who urged all refugees to come to Germany. During the General Election in the Netherlands there was a threat to the existing regime — voters, dissatisfied with a landslide wave of migrants, could vote for a party that opposed the European Union. At the same time Turkey held a constitutional referendum, and Turkish ministers went to Europe to persuade the citizens of Turkey living there. The Dutch and Germans didn’t allow these ministers — they sent them back with shame. They also didn’t allow Erdogan to come. As a result, the Dutch ruling party kept its positions, and also the internal political positions of Merkel also became stronger — but the Turks for good reason took offense from being the fall guy.

In particular they were offended by Germany, the leading member of the European Union. When Merkel began to lecture them about how they should behave, the Turks forbade German parliamentarians from visiting the NATO Incirlik airbase, and then completely removed the German soldiers from there.

Also the Turks weren’t ashamed to arrest the German emissary who arrived in Istanbul and began to agitate the Turks against the dictator Erdogan. You, after all, know what a dictator is, children? A dictator is a governor who doesn’t execute the commands of Washington and Brussels.

Erdogan said with indignation: allegedly, the Germans think in vain that they won’t let him come to Europe and speak before his compatriots, and then will go to Turkey and try to cause a revolt and the discontent of the population.

Thus, the discontent of Turks in relation to Europeans and Americans took a concrete form. The Turkish people — as well as all people of the region — treat with deep distrust Americans, their European vassals, and Israel with its cunning plans. Especially as at this time there is an aggravation of the situation in Jerusalem surrounding the Al-Aqsa Mosque, where Israel tries to change the status quo and to take the entrance to the mosque under its effective control, and this, in turn, causes the discontent of Palestinians.

The pro-American axis in the Middle East is also pro-Israeli one. The KSA is the closest ally of Tel Aviv in the region. And President Erdogan supports Palestinians and intercedes for the Al-Aqsa Mosque. And here you have one more line of split between pro-Israeli forces and Turkey. Turkey, as well as Russia, doesn’t look for a conflict with Israel, but demands from Israel to consider its interests. This thought isn’t close to the Israelis. Now they with all means prepare for war, which, according to the Israeli military, will be waged on the territory of Syria against Iran and its Shia allies, and also on the territory of Lebanon, which the Israelis threaten to return to the Stone Age.

The Americans are anxious about the Turkish pivot. They still hope that at the last minute the deal on deliveries of S-400 will be disrupted. They also have another option — to force Europe to conclude a deal favorable for Turkey, which would open the European markets for Turkish goods, to add a visa-free regime, and thus keep Turkey away from changing its vector.

It isn’t over yet, and there is no end in the Great Game, and one isn’t expected. But in this round a victory is Russia.

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