— The Erimtan Angle —

‘US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta landed Friday [, 14 Dec] at the Incirlik air base in Turkey that hosts US troops, as part of a tour that has also taken him to Afghanistan and Kuwait. The visit by the US defence chief comes a week after NATO approved Turkey’s request for Patriot missiles to defend its border with its war-torn neighbour Syria. A report in the New York Times on Friday said that the US plans to send two Patriot missile batteries and 400 personnel to Turkey’.[1]

‘The Times said the move is part of a larger effort to beef up Turkey’s defenses as the civil war in neighboring Syria grows more violent, with another four Patriot batteries expected to be supplied by Germany and the Netherlands. The report comes after US officials said Syria launched a number of Scud missiles in recent days, and amid heightened fears that it could resort to using its vast chemical weapons arsenal against advancing rebels. Turkey has strongly backed the 21-month-old rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but fears he could lash out against it in desperation if the conflict grinds on. US officials could not immediately be reached to comment on the Times report’.[2]

How will stationing these Patriots on the Turco-Syrian border affect the actions of either the Assad forces or the “rebel” (read ‘terrorist’) FSA???  And what would be the likelihood of the conflict spilling over into Turkish territory???  One of the main U.S. actors in this conflict, Ambassador Robert Ford, also made a brief appearance on Turkish soil on that same Friday, the 14th: Robert Stephen Ford flew in from Damascus to meet with the U.S. Ambassador in Ankara, Francis Ricciardone. Together these men reiterated the U.S. position that Assad has to go, nothing less will do.[3]  According to Hürriyet’s Zeynep Şafak, Robert Ford stated that Assad does not shy away from killing his own people and that his swift exit from the scene would be desirable, the sooner the better, as it seems clear that he is in no position to win the on-going conflict. Ford added that up to 210 million U.S. $ have so far been deployed, in conjunction with the United Nation, the Red Cross and the Syrian Red Crescent, to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people.[4]

Ambassador Ford’s propagandistic statement ring particularly hollow against the backdrop of atrocities committed by the Western-backed FSA and other opposition forces. Here is, for example, a report filed by the generally anti-Assad Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera: ‘In Syria, Al Jazeera has visited a village in Idlib province which was once home to the Alawite community, the sect of President Bashar al-Assad. They fled when opposition forces pushed into their territory, the fighters say the Alawites have been working with the government, and have blood on their hands as well. Zeina Khodr reports from the IdlibProvince inside Syria (16 Dec 2012)’.

[1] “U.S. Defense Secretary visits Turkey’s İncirlik base” AFP (14 Dec 2012). http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/us-defense-secretary-visits-turkeys-incirlik-base.aspx?pageID=238&nID=36830&NewsCatID=338.

[2] “U.S. Defense Secretary visits Turkey’s İncirlik base”.

[3] Zeynep Şafak, “ABD Büyükelçileri konuştu” Hürriyet (14 December 2012). http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/22160574.aspç

[4] Zeynep Şafak, “ABD Büyükelçileri konuştu”.


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