Turkey detains soldiers and intelligence agents over seizure of Syria-bound arms shipments. “Is this evidence of a highly organized fifth column within the Turkish military and state apparatus?” The Harper government is involved | TONY SEED
(Revised and updated May 23) – Turkish authorities have arrested dozens of military and security personnel from the National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) in an ongoing investigation of weapons shipments from the NATO bloc country to terrorists in Syria. The sensational development reported by Middle East Eye and regional news agencies (see below) reveals a fierce struggle within the Turkish power structure.
A subsequent Reuters report – Exclusive: Turkish intelligence helped ship arms to Syrian Islamist rebel areas – confirms the MEE report:
Testimony from gendarmerie officers in court documents reviewed by Reuters allege that rocket parts, ammunition and semi-finished mortar shells were carried in trucks accompanied by state intelligence agency (MIT) officials more than a year ago to parts of Syria under Islamist control.
The Turkish power structure can be compared to a mafia, but a mafia somewhat independent of Washington, as evidenced by its recent gas pipeline deal with the Russian Federation (the so-called Gazprom Turkish Stream).
On March 23, we published a post in which Önder Sığırcıkoğlu, a 19-year veteran of the MIT, documented MOT black ops that began in June 2011 against Syria, at a time when NATO and media disinformation falsely portrayed the conflict inside Syria as a “civil war”:
“Thousands were brought to Turkey illegally, without passports, from undisclosed points of origin; and they were helped across the border into Syria. Some of it I witnessed, some I was directly involved in. An agency charged with upholding security was working to undermine security in another country. I had lost all faith in my job. Shiploads of weapons arrived at Iskenderun port, were loaded in containers and transported by trucks to Reyhanlı to be slipped into Syria.”
Sığırcıkoğlu underlined that “Great care was taken to avoid a military display and to put a civilian face on all this activity.”
The southern Hatay province of Turkey had become a magnet for intelligence agencies from all over the world. “American, British, Jordanian, Saudi, you name it,” he stated.
Now those being arrested in Turkey are being accused by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with “running a parallel state in the judiciary and police” with U.S. links, i.e., Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic preacher – the Gulenists are described as “an influential international movement” (here and here) – whose articles are featured by the New York Times. Gulen actually lives on a gated estate in Pennsylvania.
Is this evidence of a highly organized fifth column within the Turkish military and state apparatus?
It is worth recalling that Erdoğan visited the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on September 22, 2014. He criticized “smear campaigns [and] attempts to distort perception about us.” Erdoğan decried, “A systematic attack on Turkey’s international reputation, “complaining that “Turkey has been subject to very unjust and ill-intentioned news items from media organizations.” Erdoğan posited: “My request from our friends in the United States is to make your assessment about Turkey by basing your information on objective sources.”
In October, US Vice-President Joe Biden publicly accused Turkey – along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – of secretly colluding to subvert the Syrian Arab Republic and President Bashir al-Assad. In a sectarian speech at Harvard, Biden declared that they were “so determined to take down Assad,” that they started a “proxy Sunni-Shia war” by pouring “hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons” towards anyone who would fight against Assad. The self-serving speech, which he was forced to recant in the face of a furious Turkish counter-attack, masked the U.S. policy of arming “moderate rebels” as the preferred proxy force to be deployed against Syria and to hide the U.S. hand, as well as its option of creating a desert army under the flag of its Coalition Against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
One month after Biden’s public attack on the Turkish government, David L. Phillips of the Columbia University Institute for the Study of Human Rights published a selective dossier assembled by “a team of researchers in the United States, Europe, and Turkey.” It documented abundant links between Turkey and ISIS – from military cooperation and weapons transfers to logistical support, financial assistance, and the provision of medical services. The dossier omitted all evidentiary media reports documenting US and NATO links to the terrorist forces assembled against Syria. Phillips previously “served as a Senior Adviser and Foreign Affairs Expert for the U.S. Department of State.”
The U.S. is increasingly intriguing within Turkey with state-oriented opposition parties waiting in the wings until the crises of Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) party demand “new” solutions. Turkish general elections are on June 7.
Canada’s dirty role
The Harper government is as overtly involved in the meddling in Turkey as it is covertly involved in Syria. It merits attention that in August 2011 the Canadian government gave over premises in its embassy in Ankara to the newly-formed “Syrian National Council” (SNC), which included al-Qaeda/al-Nusra and the “Free Syrian Army” jihadists, to be introduced at a reception for resident legations of the NATO bloc in Turkey.
In November, 2011 two SNC members were brought to the Wshington-based Halifax International Security Forum (HISF) – – headquartered in Washington and mainly funded by Harper’s Department of National Defence; attendance is by invitation only – as accredited delegates and speakers. Sen. John McCain issued a public call on November 19, 2011 for formal recognition of the SNC and its proxy army of mercenaries and jihadists, the first U.S. official to so, as the official U.S.-NATO instrument for destabilizing and destroying the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria.
HISF president Peter Van Praagh, whose salary is paid by the Canadian Department of National Defence, openly incited Turkey against the Syrian Arab Republic, stating in a feature interview with Todays Zaman that “No doubt Turkey intends to work with international partners, but Turkey should lead within that category of partners.” (“Turkey should lead international partners to action on Syria,” Todays Zaman, November 27, 2011) Praagh served as the senior policy advisor to Peter MacKay when he was minister of foreign affairs of Canada. He also served as deputy vice president of programs at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, D.C., and country director for the National Democratic Institute (NDI) both in the former Soviet Union and in Turkey.
A “guest of honour”: The Abdullah Gül card
In November 2014, the HISF featured Turkey’s 11th president, Abdullah Gül, as its “guest of honour.” Notably, it was his first public appearance since leaving Erdoğan’s circle for an enforced “retirement” in April, 2014.
Cengiz Çandar reported in the Washington-based Al-Monitor that in the factional struggle which ousted him as president, “For Gül, not only was he betrayed by his former colleagues, but he was also cornered.” Erdoğan moved up to the presidency, succeeding Gül, and Ahmet Davutoglu succeeded Erdoğan as prime minister. The following passage really jumped out:
“Gül seemed to ease into a ‘graceful’ retirement, if not pushed into an eventual oblivion. Fewer and fewer people thought that he would ever come back, given his soft style, which was incompatible with the high-wire politics of the Erdogan era.
“Yet, after nearly three months, he surfaced in Halifax, Canada. The occasion was the Halifax International Security Forum, which is considered one of the most important international gatherings on security on the globe. The November forum, a brainchild (sic) of Canadian Justice Minister Peter McKay, also a former foreign and defense minister, attracts statesmen, politicians, experts and opinion shapers from all over the world. Members of the US Congress, led every year by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., attend in growing numbers.
“Gül’s attendance this year, for the first time ever, as the ‘Halifax Chat’ session speaker, created as much interest in Turkish domestic politics as in international affairs. The president of the Halifax forum, Peter Van Praagh (former head of the U.S. National Democratic Institute in Turkey, and Peter MacKay’s onetime policy advisor – TS), told me that even if Gül had not uttered a single word, his mere presence would be sending signals to Turkey.
“At a time when the politicians of the Western hemisphere in particular are displaying resentment of Erdogan, Gül’s presence as a guest of honor was significant.
“At the Halifax Chat, he delivered a speech from a written text in which there was an unmistakably strong emphasis on his constructive contribution to all the issues that are high on the international agenda. The text of his speech was not distributed, but he made a copy available to me.
“Gül’s recollection of his imprint as Turkey’s 11th president on a number of issues coincided with Western leaders’ increasingly negative perception of the anti-Western rhetoric of the 12th president, Erdoğan, and of Erdoğan’s manifest noncooperation with Washington on Syria. It is noteworthy that Gül listed his stark differences from Erdoğan at a predominantly Western but global forum.”
Following the HISF, Gül was then taken for an appearance at the Chatham House in London by his U.S handlers, something not publicized back in Turkey, according to Cengiz Çandar. “His presence and presentation in Halifax, Canada, has been a signal of his eventual return to Turkey’s political life.”
The “human rights” card
Further, in December 2014 the editor-in-chief of Today’s Zaman was among 16 journalists arrested. Today’s Zaman, which is linked with the Murdoch interests and affiliated via partnership with the British daily The Times, is a regular at the Halifax conference. (The Turkish Zaman is printed in 11 countries, distributed in 35 countries, and printed in 10 different languages]; it publishes Turkish Policy Quarterly [Istanbul, est’d 2002]. NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division supported the summer 2004 and spring 2009 issue, while the EU Commission funded the spring 2006 issue]. Zaman correspondent, Suat Kiniklioglu attended the 2012 HISF; formerly of the Turkish air force, he was educated at Carleton University; founding director of the Ankara office of the German Marshall Fund United States (which initiated the Halifax conference in 2009 and employed Peter Van Praagh as a senior programme director); a member of the Justice and Development Party’s Central Executive Committee; and is now Director, Center for Strategic Communications and doing a Phd in England.
The infiltration of the Iraqi Kurds and the rise of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party in Turkey has a similar aim. Biden has advocated the sectarian project of an independent Kurdistan by publicly advancing the concept of three independent states in Iraq, one Shi’a, one Sunni, and one Kurdish, a strategy of wrecking shared by the Harper government.
Using the card of freedom of expression, the New York Times has urged the US and other NATO allies demand that Erdoğan turn away from his “destructive path,” highlighting that he might be preparing to shut down Turkish critical media outlets and labour unions.
The Libyan card
Meanwhile, newly declassified reports of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) – the main foreign military espionage organization of the United States – from August and October 2012 about the war on Syria that were released on May 18 admit and confirm that an “Islamic State” was desired in Eastern Syria to effect the West’s policies in the region.
One report explains that Al Qaeda was, from the beginning, a big part of the Syrian “revolution.” Dated August 12, 2012, the DIA stated that for
“THE WEST, GULF COUNTRIES, AND TURKEY [WHO] SUPPORT THE [SYRIAN] OPPOSITION… THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING A DECLARED OR UNDECLARED SALAFIST PRINCIPALITY IN EASTERN SYRIA (HASAKA AND DER ZOR), AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE SUPPORTING POWERS TO THE OPPOSITION WANT, IN ORDER TO ISOLATE THE SYRIAN REGIME…”. (See also an excerpt and comment on the Levant Report here)
Another DIA report dated October 2012 reported this incriminating information:
Weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the Port of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria. The weapons shipped during late-August 2012 were Sniper rifles, RPG’s, and 125 mm and 155mm howitzers missiles.
During the immediate aftermath of, and following the uncertainty caused by, the downfall of the [Qaddafi] regime in October 2011 and up until early September of 2012, weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles located in Benghazi, Libya were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the ports of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria. The Syrian ports were chosen due to the small amount of cargo traffic transiting these two ports. The ships used to transport the weapons were medium-sized and able to hold 10 or less shipping containers of cargo.
These weapons were shipped on Turkish vessels with U.S. knowledge, if not co-ordination, confirming the account by Önder Sığırcıkoğlu.
“A few hours before he was killed [in Benghazi] the U.S. ambassador met with a Turkish diplomat, likely to coordinate more such weapon shipments,” reports Moon of Alabama.
Further revealing Washington’s hand in leading al-Qaeda (under the name Jabhat al-Nusraor known also as Army of Conquest) from behind is a recent report by Charles Lister of the Brookings Institute Doha Center, in which it is admitted that the operation rooms headed by the U.S. in Turkey and Jordan specifically encouraged “moderate” forces inside Syria to work closely with al-Qaeda. (Foreign Policy, “Why Assad is Losing”, May 5, 2015)
Further confirmation that foreign terrorists inside Syria – whether the U.S-Saudi “moderate rebels” and the new desert army, or the Turkey-Qatar “jihadists” – are proxy forces that are harboured, trained, armed and funded by a coalition of NATO and members of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) within the borders of Turkey (NATO territory) and Jordan. At the same time, the internal crisis in Turkey is fuelled by the intensification of inter-imperialist contradictions and rivalry over a strategic prize.