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FTR #879 Further Update on Pan-Turkism, Islamism and the Earth Island Boogie

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This program was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

Ottoman Empire

Introduction: As the title indicates, this broadcast continues analysis of the growing confluence of Muslim-Brotherhood dominated Islamism and Pan-Turkist elements, this against the background of the mounting hostilities overtaking the region.

These events are also manifesting themselves in the European portion of the Earth Island, particularly in Ukraine. (See the links in the “Progam Highlights” section.)

(For background on this complicated dynamic, see–among other programs–FTR #’s 710720723, 737819, 862, 863, 878.)

We begin with a short quote from Zbigniew Brzezinski, read by Elizabeth Gould in FTR #872. Brzezinski is quite open about the utility of using Islamists to destabilize Russia and China.

Next, the program begins by noting that the Turkish shoot-down of a Russian Su-24 appears to have been an instance of the Turkish air force providing air cover for the Turkmen militia and elements of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, who are part of the so-called “moderates” enjoying the support of the West and its allies in the region, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The region controlled by the Turkmen has become the focal point for al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front fighters and ISIS combatants as well. There appears to be a degree of overlap and synthesis of the ISIS forces with the Nusra and Turkmen fighters.

Tayyip Erdogan

Next, we revisit a very important, relevant article by Cornell University professor Robert Kaplan.

Kaplan notes that U.S. military intervention in the Muslim world occurs in former territories of the Ottoman Empire and results in Islamists coming to power for the ultimate benefit of–Germany!

In FTR #’s 710720723 we noted that the GOP/Underground Reich faction of the U.S. intelligence establishment was pursuing covert operations in the Earth Island, particularly in parts of Russia and China. Partnered in this is the Muslim Brotherhood and irredentist Turkish elements seeking a return to the glory days of the Ottoman Empire.

(We should never fail to note that the areas of activity in the dynamic highlighted here are areas that are rich in natural resources–fossil fuels, in particular. The petroleum-rich Caucasus and coal and petroleum resources of Xinjiang Province in China are noteworthy in this regard.)

Alparslan Turkes, giving Grey Wolf sign

Kaplan notes a pattern that is of more than passing interest: ” . . . . Each U. S. military action in Europe and the Middle East since 1990, however, with the exception of Iraq, has followed an overt pattern: First there is an armed conflict within the country where the intervention will take place. American news media heavily report this conflict. The ‘good guys’ in the story are the rebels. The ‘bad guys,’ to be attacked by American military force, are brutally anti-democratic, and committers of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Prestigious public figures, NGOs, judicial and quasi-judicial bodies and international organizations call for supporting the rebels and attacking the regime.

Alparslan Celik & Friends give the Grey Wolf hand sign. They executed the pilot of the Su-24.

Next, the American president orders American logistical support and arms supplies for the rebels. Finally the American president orders military attack under the auspices of NATO in support of the rebels. The attack usually consists of aerial bombing, today’s equivalent of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries’ gunboat which could attack coastal cities of militarily weak countries without fear of retaliation. The ultimate outcome of each American intervention is the replacement of a secular government with an Islamist regime in an area that had been part of the Ottoman Empire. . . .”

Weighing the operational history of the Grey Wolves, we conclude the program with a re-broadcast of FTR #59, noting that the organization had functioned as the Turkish component of Operation Stay Behind. This was a NATO operation that created underground cadres to fight any left-wing government that may have come to power in one of the organization’s member nations. With the Grey Wolves having served as an underground extension of the NATO order of battle, we should evaluate their activities in the context of the Earth Island “op” apparently under way.

Program Highlights Include: 

  • Review of Grey Wolf activity in Asia.
  • Review of Grey Wolf activity in Syria.
  • Review of Erdogan’s support for the Crimean Tatars.
  • Review of Crimean Tatars’ collaboration with Pravy Sektor in the sabotage of the Crimean power grid, water supply and the blockade of road traffic.
  • Review of ISIS-linked Chechens trained in Syria fighting in Ukraine under Pravy Sektor administrative command.

1a. We begin with a short quote from Zbigniew Brzezinski, read by Elizabeth Gould in FTR #872. Brzezinski is quite open about the utility of using Islamists to destabilize Russia and China.

1b. Next, we note that the Turkish shoot-down of a Russian Su-24 appears to have been an instance of the Turkish air force providing air cover for the Turkmen militia and elements of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, who are part of the so-called “moderates” enjoying the support of the West and its allies in the region, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. (“Air cover” refers to combat aircraft neutralizing enemy air threats to ground forces. This should not be confused with “air support,” which refers to combat aircraft acting in support of ground forces against their opponents–serving, in effect, as “airborne artillery.”)

“Facts Back Russia on Turkish Attack” by Gareth Porter; Consortium News; 11/30/2015.

The United States and its NATO allies offered a ritual of NATO unity after Turkish officials presented their case that the shoot-down of a Russian jet occurred after two planes had penetrated Turkish airspace. The Turkish representative reportedly played a recording of a series warning the Turkish F-16 pilots had issued to the Russian jets without a Russian response, and U.S. and other NATO member states endorsed Turkey’s right to defend its airspace.

U.S. Defense Department spokesman Colonel Steve Warren supported the Turkish claim that 10 warnings had been issued over a period of five minutes. The Obama administration apparently expressed less concern about whether Russian planes had actually crossed into Turkish airspace. Col. Warren admitted that U.S. officials have still yet to establish where the Russian aircraft was located when a Turkish missile hit the plane.

Although the Obama administration is not about to admit it, the data already available supports the Russian assertion that the Turkish shoot-down was, as Russian President Vladimir Putin asserted, an “ambush” that had been carefully prepared in advance. The central Turkish claim that its F-16 pilots had warned the two Russian aircraft 10 times during a period of five minutes actually is the primary clue that Turkey was not telling the truth about the shoot-down.

The Russian Su-24 “Fencer” jet fighter, which is comparable to the U.S. F-111, is capable of a speed of 960 miles per hour at high altitude, but at low altitude its cruising speed is around 870 mph, or about 13 miles per minute. The navigator of the second plane confirmed after his rescue that the Su-24s were flying at cruising speed during the flight.

Close analysis of both the Turkish and Russian images of the radar path of the Russian jets indicates that the earliest point at which either of the Russian planes was on a path that might have been interpreted as taking it into Turkish airspace was roughly 16 miles from the Turkish border – meaning that it was only a minute and 20 seconds away from the border.

Furthermore according to both versions of the flight path, five minutes before the shoot-down the Russian planes would have been flying eastward – away from the Turkish border.

If the Turkish pilots actually began warning the Russian jets five minutes before the shoot-down, therefore, they were doing so long before the planes were even headed in the general direction of the small projection of the Turkish border in Northern Latakia province. In order to carry out the strike, in fact, the Turkish pilots would have had to be in the air already and prepared to strike as soon as they knew the Russian aircraft were airborne.

The evidence from the Turkish authorities themselves thus leaves little room for doubt that the decision to shoot down the Russian jet was made before the Russian jets even began their flight.

The motive for the strike was directly related to the Turkish role in supporting the anti-Assad forces in the vicinity of the border. In fact, the Erdogan government made no effort to hide its aim in the days before the strike. In a meeting with the Russian ambassador on Nov. 20, the foreign minister accused the Russians of “intensive bombing” of “civilian Turkmen villages” and said there might be “serious consequences” unless the Russians ended their operations immediately.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was even more explicit, declaring that Turkish security forces “have been instructed to retaliate against any development that would threaten Turkey’s border security.” Davutoglu further said: “If there is an attack that would lead to an intense influx of refugees to Turkey, required measures would be taken both inside Syria and Turkey.”

The Turkish threat to retaliate – not against Russian penetration of its airspace but in response to very broadly defined circumstances on the border – came amid the latest in a series of battles between the Syrian government and religious fighters.

The area where the plane was shot down is populated by the Turkmen minority. They have been far less important than foreign fighters and other forces who have carried out a series of offensives in the area since mid-2013 aimed at threatening President Bashar al-Assad’s main Alawite redoubt on the coast in Latakia province.

Charles Lister, the British specialist who was visiting Latakia province frequently in 2013, noted in an August 2013 interview, “Latakia, right up to the very northern tip [i.e. in the Turkmen Mountain area], has been a stronghold for foreign fighter-based groups for almost a year now.” He also observed that, after Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh) had emerged in the north, al-Nusra Front and its allies in the area had “reached out” to ISIL and that one of the groups fighting in Latakia had “become a front group” for ISIL.

In March 2014, the religious rebels launched a major offensive with heavy Turkish logistical support to capture the Armenian town of Kessab on the Mediterranean coast of Latakia very close to the Turkish border. An Istanbul newspaper, Bagcilar, quoted a member of the Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs committee as reporting testimony from villagers living near the border that thousands of fighters had streamed across five different border points in cars with Syrian plates to participate in the offensive.

During that offensive, moreover, a Syrian jet responding to the offensive against Kessab was shot down by the Turkish air force in a remarkable parallel to the downing of the Russian jet. Turkey claimed that the jet had violated its airspace but made no pretence about having given any prior warning. The purpose of trying to deter Syria from using its airpower in defense of the town was obvious.

Now the battle in Latakia province has shifted to the Bayirbucak area, where the Syrian air force and ground forces have been trying to cut the supply lines between villages controlled by Nusra Front and its allies and the Turkish border for several months. The key village in the Nusra Front area of control is Salma, which has been in jihadist hands ever since 2012. The intervention of the Russian Air Force in the battle has given a new advantage to the Syrian army.

The Turkish shoot-down was thus in essence an effort to dissuade the Russians from continuing their operations in the area against al-Nusra Front and its allies, using not one but two distinct pretexts: on one hand a very dubious charge of a Russian border penetration for NATO allies, and on the other, a charge of bombing Turkmen civilians for the Turkish domestic audience. . . .

2. We then review a very important post that distills a line of inquiry we’ve been pursuing for years. Cornell University professor Robert Kaplan notes that U.S. military intervention in the Muslim world occurs in former territories of the Ottoman Empire and results in Islamists coming to power for the ultimate benefit of–Germany!

In FTR #’s 710720723 we noted that the GOP/Underground Reich faction of the U.S. intelligence establishment was pursuing covert operations in the Earth Island, particularly in parts of Russia and China. Partnered in this is the Muslim Brotherhood and irredentist Turkish elements seeking a return to the glory days of the Ottoman Empire.

Following the turn to the Muslim Brotherhood (formalized during Bush’s second administration growing out of the profound GOP links to the Brotherhood and the al-Taqwa milieu) we witnessed the center piece of this operation–the so-called Arab Spring. The Boston Marathon bombing appears to be “blowback” from this operation, with FBI apparently having cut across elements of the covert operation mentioned above.

The Fetullah Gulen organization appears to be an outcropping of this massive Earth Island “op.”

Before returning to the subject of the “Muslim Brotherhood Spring,” let’s highlight a key paragraph of the Kaplan essay, summing up an all-too familiar pattern in the operations that are bringing to power the German Hand in the Ottoman/Islamist glove:

. . . . Each U. S. military action in Europe and the Middle East since 1990, however, with the exception of Iraq, has followed an overt pattern: First there is an armed conflict within the country where the intervention will take place. American news media heavily report this conflict. The “good guys” in the story are the rebels. The “bad guys,” to be attacked by American military force, are brutally anti-democratic, and committers of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Prestigious public figures, NGOs, judicial and quasi-judicial bodies and international organizations call for supporting the rebels and attacking the regime. Next, the American president orders American logistical support and arms supplies for the rebels. Finally the American president orders military attack under the auspices of NATO in support of the rebels. The attack usually consists of aerial bombing, today’s equivalent of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries’ gunboat which could attack coastal cities of militarily weak countries without fear of retaliation. The ultimate outcome of each American intervention is the replacement of a secular government with an Islamist regime in an area that had been part of the Ottoman Empire. . . .

Another fascinating and very important part of the article concerns the ICC, much-ballyhooed by the so-called progressive sector in this and other countries:

. . . . From that article, “A Lawless Global Court” by John Rosenthal (Policy Review Feb. 1. 2004 No.123), one learns that the ICC is a project initiated, promoted and, to a considerable extent, funded by Germany. Given this, the idea that the ICC serves Germany’s purposes is common sense. Through the ICC connection, Germany’s promotion of the “Arab Spring” is clear. Yet it is never or almost never mentioned. This silence calls for explanation. . . .

Amen! That silence does indeed call for an explanation.

Notice, also, the German methodology here. Underscoring German power-political methodology prior to, and during, World War I, Kaplan’s analysis applies equally well to Nazi German’s geo-political orientation. It applies equally well to that of the Federal Republic, which, like the GOP and a disturbingly large part of the U.S. national security establishment, is controlled by Germany:

. . . . In the view of the leaders of Germany, Turkey was controllable through a combination of economic intercourse, gifts of educational opportunities, provision of technical expertise and administrative aid, as well as bribes to Turkish officials. Germany saw influence over Turkey as a means of influencing Moslems worldwide for its own interests. . . .

Let’s review the bullet points from the description of FTR #737 (recorded on 4/2/2011.):

  • WikiLeaks appears to have played a role in the events, with a purported “leaked” State Department memo having helped spur the uprising in Tunisia which, in turn, helped to galvanize events in Egypt. Far from being the “progressive,” “whistle-blowing” entity it purports to be, WikiLeaks is a far-right, Nazi-influenced propaganda and data mining operation.
  • Karl Rove’s dominant presence in Sweden as the WikiLeaks “op” was gaining momentum may well have much to do with the “leaking” of State Department cables from the Obama administration that are undoubtedly making the successful execution of statecraft even more difficult under the circumstances.
  • Far from being a spontaneous event, the Middle East uprisings appear to have stemmed, in part at least, from a covert operation begun under the Bush administration and continued under Obama’s tenure. (Obama may well have been set up to take the fall for negative consequences of the event. It is unclear just how “on top of it” his administration is. In this regard, the event is very much like the Bay of Pigs operation, begun under Eisenhower’s administration and continued under JFK.)
  • The operation may well be intended to destabilize the Obama administration, paving the way for the ascent of the GOP in the United States. In this respect, it is very much like what has come to be known as the October Surprise.
  • Courtesy of WikiLeaks, the operation’s existence was “blown”–contacts between U.S. Embassy personnel in Cairo and leaders of the April 6 movement during the last months of the Bush administration came to light courtesy of more allegedly “leaked” State Department memos made public by WikLeaks. Previously, the U.S. embassy in Cairo had been in contact with leaders of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
  • Looming large in the unfolding scenario are the theories of non-violent theoretician Gene Sharp, who held positions associated with the “liberal” element of the U.S. intelligence apparatus.
  • Sharp’s activities have been underwritten by junk bond king Michael Milken’s former right-hand man Peter Ackerman, who has served as an advisor to the United States Institute of Peace, an agency of the U.S. government.
  • The United States Institute of Peace’s Muslim World Initiative–charged by critics with legitimizing jihadists–may well have been the initiating element in these developments.
  • High tech firms with links to the U.S. intelligence establishment appear to have facilitated the Piggy-Back Coup.
  • The Muslim Brotherhood’s free-market economic perspective has endeared it to laissez-faire theoreticians around the world. American University in Cairo, at which Brotherhood affiliated theoreticians hold forth, is an epicenter of the economic philosophy of Ibn Khaldun, the Ikhwan’s economic godfather.
  • Despite assurances from many “expert” sources, the Muslim Brotherhood seems poised to benefit the most from the unfolding events in the Middle East.
  • The Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Al Jazeera network has also had much to do with the uprisings.
  • The youthful idealists of the Anonymous/Pirate Bay/Pirate Party milieu appear to have been cynically deceived and manipulated into supporting an operation that figures to empower some truly dark forces. Those dark forces are fundamentally opposed to the Utopian values dear to the Anonymous/Pirate Bay folks.
  • Those same reassuring voices have told us that the Brotherhood aspires to a political agenda to the “moderate” agenda of the Turkish AK party. That party is closely affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The “moderation” of the AK Party may be weighed in the discussion below.
  • Precipitating the ascent of the fascist Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East may well be an attempt at using the Muslim population of the Earth Island as a proxy force against Russia and China. The goal, ultimately, is to peel away strategic, resource-rich areas such, as the petroleum-rich areas of the Caucasus and Xinjiang province.

The Robert E. Kaplan post epitomizes the arguments we’ve been advancing for many years. Please digest it and disseminate the information to others. Although he does not mention it, veteran listeners and readers will no doubt recognize the presence of the Underground Reich in the concatenation that Kaplan presents. Detailing the evolution of the Underground Reich is beyond the scope of this post.

The wealth of information contained on this website will provide the necessary intellectual underpinning for interested and curious readers/listeners.

Suffice it to say here, that the proxy warriors of the neo-Ottoman caliphate will, ultimately, be used to destroy the U.S. and the U.K., as well as Israel.

With Obama responding to his long-forecast (in these quarters) destabilization by continuing to build bi-partisan bridges and committing political suicide in the process, this should be relatively easy to accomplish.

“The U.S. Helps Reconstruct the Ottoman Empire” by Robert E. Kaplan; The Gatestone Institute; 5/29/2013.

Since the mid-1990s the United States has intervened militarily in several internal armed conflicts in Europe and the Middle East: bombing Serbs and Serbia in support of Izetbegovic’s Moslem Regime in Bosnia in 1995, bombing Serbs and Serbia in support of KLA Moslems of Kosovo in 1999, bombing Libya’s Gaddafi regime in support of rebels in 2010. Each intervention was justified to Americans as motivated by humanitarian concerns: to protect Bosnian Moslems from genocidal Serbs, to protect Kosovo Moslems from genocidal Serbs, and to protect Libyans from their murderous dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Other reasons for these interventions were also offered: to gain for the United States a strategic foothold in the Balkans, to defeat communism in Yugoslavia, to demonstrate to the world’s Moslems that the United States is not anti-Moslem, to redefine the role of NATO in the post-Cold War era, among others.

Each of these United States military interventions occurred in an area that had been part of the Ottoman Empire. In each, a secular regime was ultimately replaced by an Islamist one favoring sharia law and the creation of a world-wide Caliphate. The countries that experienced the “Arab Spring” of the 2010s without the help of American military intervention, Tunisia and Egypt, had also been part of the Ottoman Empire, and also ended up with Islamist regimes.

In the United States most discussions of the military conflicts of the 1990s in the Balkans and the “Arab Spring” of the 2010s do not mention that the areas involved had been part of the Ottoman Empire; these included Turkey, the Moslem-populated areas around the Mediterranean, Iraq, the coastal regions of the Arabian Peninsula and parts of the Balkans. In the areas that experienced the Arab Spring Turkey’s role in every instance has been to support the rebels and quickly recognize them as the legitimate government of the country in upheaval.

Turkish leaders do make the connection between the conflicts in the Bosnia, the “Arab Spring” and the Ottoman Empire. Harold Rhode, an American expert on Turkey, has reported:

[President of Turkey] Erdogan’s recent [2011] electoral victory speech puts his true intentions regarding Turkey’s foreign policy goals in perspective. He said that this victory is as important in Ankara as it is in the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sarajevo, under Ottoman times, an important Ottoman city; that his party’s victory was as important in a large Turkish city Izmir, on the Western Anatolian coast, as it is in Damascus, and as important in Istanbul as it is in Jerusalem….

In saying that this victory is as important in all of these former Ottoman cities, Erdogan apparently sees himself as trying to reclaim Turkey’s full Ottoman past.

The occurrence that since 1990 each European and Middle Eastern country that experienced American military intervention in an internal military conflict or an “Arab Spring” has ended up with a government dominated by Islamists of the Moslem Brotherhood or al-Qaeda variety fits nicely with the idea that these events represent a return to Ottoman rule. Besides being a political empire ruling a territory and its population, the Ottoman Empire claimed to be a Caliphate with spiritual suzerainty over all Moslems – those within its borders and those beyond. Though it might seem strange at first, the idea of advancing the renewal of the Ottoman Empire on two tracks – breaking down the post-Ottoman political structure and promoting a Caliphate which Islamists say they long for – is really quite reasonable.

Just as the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s and the “Arab Spring” of the 2010s considered in historical perspective suggests that Turkey might be attempting to recreate its former empire, consideration of the Turkish Empire in historical perspective suggests the possible partnership of Germany with Turkey in the project given that, from its creation in 1870, Germany viewed Turkey with its empire as a most valuable client and ally. In the view of the leaders of Germany, Turkey was controllable through a combination of economic intercourse, gifts of educational opportunities, provision of technical expertise and administrative aid, as well as bribes to Turkish officials. Germany saw influence over Turkey as a means of influencing Moslems worldwide for its own interests. Thus as the German scholar Wolfgang Schwanitz has shown, during World War I Germany employed the Turkish Caliphate to promote jihad – riot and rebellion – in areas where Moslem populations were ruled by its enemies Russia, France, Britain and Serbia.

Yet in the 50-odd articles collected in an exploration of the awareness on the part of Americans of a possible Turkish connection with the “Arab Spring,” I found not a single mention of “Germany.”Only from a link in one of those articles – to an article on the International Criminal Court (ICC) which, with its indictment of Muammar Gaddafi and issue of a warrant for his arrest, provided the “legal” basis legitimizing NATO’s bombing of Libya — which gave the rebels their victory and ended the Gaddafi regime – did I find mention of Germany. From that article, “A Lawless Global Court” by John Rosenthal (Policy Review Feb. 1. 2004 No.123), one learns that the ICC is a project initiated, promoted and, to a considerable extent, funded by Germany. Given this, the idea that the ICC serves Germany’s purposes is common sense. Through the ICC connection, Germany’s promotion of the “Arab Spring” is clear. Yet it is never or almost never mentioned. This silence calls for explanation.

Later, I did come across an explicit reference to Germany’s role in it — specifically in the war against the Assad regime in Syria — in John Rosenthal’s article “German Intelligence: al-Qaeda all over Syria” in the online Asia Times ­­­­­­­­­­­­ — which reports that the German government supports the rebels and their political arm, the Syrian National Council (SNC), against Assad; that the German government classified [made secret] “by reason of national interest” the contents of several BND (German foreign intelligence) reports that the May 25, 2012 massacre of civilians in the Syrian town of Houla, for which Assad has been blamed, was in fact perpetrated by rebel forces; and that “the German foreign office is working with representatives of the Syrian opposition to develop ‘concrete plans’ for a ‘political transition’ in Syria after the fall of Assad.” So far the German policy of keeping hidden its leadership role in the attempt to reconstitute the Ottoman Empire seems to have succeeded.

Each U. S. military action in Europe and the Middle East since 1990, however, with the exception of Iraq, has followed an overt pattern: First there is an armed conflict within the country where the intervention will take place. American news media heavily report this conflict. The “good guys” in the story are the rebels. The “bad guys,” to be attacked by American military force, are brutally anti-democratic, and committers of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Prestigious public figures, NGOs, judicial and quasi-judicial bodies and international organizations call for supporting the rebels and attacking the regime. Next, the American president orders American logistical support and arms supplies for the rebels. Finally the American president orders military attack under the auspices of NATO in support of the rebels. The attack usually consists of aerial bombing, today’s equivalent of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries’ gunboat which could attack coastal cities of militarily weak countries without fear of retaliation. The ultimate outcome of each American intervention is the replacement of a secular government with an Islamist regime in an area that had been part of the Ottoman Empire.

Why the government of the United States would actively promote German aims — the destruction of Yugoslavia (both World Wars I and II saw Germany invade Serbia) and the re-creation of the Ottoman Empire — is a question that needs to be answered.

3. Weighing the operational history of the Grey Wolves, we repeat FTR #59 (April of 1997), noting that the organization had functioned as the Turkish component of Operation Stay Behind. This was a NATO operation that created underground cadres to fight any left-wing government that may have come to power in one of the organization’s member nations. With the Grey Wolves having served as an underground extension of the NATO order of battle, we should evaluate their activities in the context of the Earth Island “op” apparently under way.

The article comprising much of the discussion can be found here.

Discussion

One comment for “FTR #879 Further Update on Pan-Turkism, Islamism and the Earth Island Boogie”

  1. Here’s an analysis of the jet shootdown timeline in Harpers that’s based on the data provided by Russia and Turkish radar maps. It will be interesting to hear if the Turkish government responds to the analysis because it comes to the kind of conclusion that isn’t going to please Erdogan: The shootdown was an ambush:

    Harpers
    Mountain Ambush

    “Looking at the detailed Russian timeline of what happened,” says defense analyst Pierre Sprey, “I’d say the evidence looks pretty strong that the Turks were setting up an ambush.”

    By Andrew Cockburn

    On November 24, a Turkish F-16 fighter jet shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber near the border of Turkey and Syria. In the immediate aftermath, officials from the two countries offered contradictory versions of what transpired: Russian president Vladimir Putin claimed that the plane was flying over Syrian territory when it was downed; Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan countered that it was inside Turkey’s border and had been warned ten times to alter its course. Hours later, President Obama threw his support behind Erdogan. “Turkey,” he said, “has a right to defend its territory and its airspace.”

    I asked Pierre Sprey, a longtime defense analyst and member of the team that developed the F-16, to examine what we know about the downing and determine what actually occurred that morning.

    The Russians have claimed the November 24 downing of their bomber was a deliberate pre-planned ambush by the Turks. Is there any merit in that argument?

    Looking at the detailed Russian timeline of what happened—as well as the much less detailed Turkish radar maps—I’d say the evidence looks pretty strong that the Turks were setting up an ambush. They certainly weren’t doing anything that would point to a routine air patrol along the border. Their actions in no way represented a routine, all day long type of patrol.

    How can we tell that?

    Well, let’s set up the situation and it’ll be a little easier to understand. The Russian pilots were assigned a target very close to the Turkish border, about ten miles in from the Mediterranean coast and about five miles south of an important border crossing at a little place called Yayladagi. That’s a border crossing that the Turks have used to slip jihadists into Syria, or to allow them to slip in. It’s also a place where there’s quite a bit of truck traffic, a fair amount of it probably oil tankers. It’s the only crossing for many, many miles around. This is a pretty sparsely populated, well forested and hilly area occupied by Turkmen—Turkish speaking Syrian tribesmen who are sympathetic to al-Nusra and the Islamic State, who harbor Chechen terrorists and who we know have been supported by the Turks.

    The target area the Russians were interested in was about five miles south, along the road leading to this crossing. That was the target area that they assigned to these two Su-24s on the day of the shoot-down. The crews were assigned the mission at about nine-fifteen in the morning, Moscow time. They took off about a half hour later, headed for an area about thirty miles inland from the Mediterranean coast—in other words well east of this target area—to loiter until they got further instructions on hitting a target in the target area. At this point they’re just cruising and loitering at eighteen thousand, nineteen thousand feet, trying to conserve gas while they’re waiting to be assigned a specific target.

    The flight to their holding area was very short, because they were flying out of a Russian base south of Latakia. It was like a ten-minute flight. They were only about thirty miles away or so. After they reached their loiter area—at roughly a quarter to ten—they were well in view of Turkish radar coverage because they were up high and not far from the border, roughly sixteen miles south.

    They got assigned their target, which was the road south of this important border crossing, and executed a first strike, each of them attacking separate targets at about a quarter after ten. They then made a U-turn, so to speak, to follow a racetrack pattern back toward where they had been loitering to get ready for a second attack. They in fact executed the second attack about seven or eight minutes later. One of the two Su-24s hit its target right at about ten twenty-four and was almost immediately shot down as he was pulling off the target.

    What about the Turkish air force, what were they doing meanwhile?

    The Turks had launched two F-16s quite a bit earlier than the time we’re talking about, from Diyarbakir, a major base for the Turkish Air Force about two hundred and fifty miles away, to loiter just in from the Mediterranean over a mountainous area that was about twenty-five miles north of this border crossing. Interestingly, they arrived in that area to loiter just about the time that the Russian pilots were being assigned their targets, and the F-16s loitered over that mountainous area for about an hour and fifteen minutes.

    Here’s the crucial thing. They were not loitering up at high altitude—say twenty to thirty thousand feet—to conserve fuel, which is where you would normally be loitering if you were simply doing a routine border patrol. They were loitering quite low, at about seven thousand five hundred to eight thousand feet, which, first of all, is below the coverage of the Syrian and Russian radars that were down around Latakia, and which is a very fuel-inefficient altitude to loiter. You suck up a lot of gas down at those low altitudes.

    That tells you right away, if they hung out there for seventy-five minutes, they must’ve been tanked on the way in to that mission, because they were quite far from their home base—two hundred and fifty miles—so they must’ve topped up on fuel to have enough to even last for an hour and a quarter at this inefficient low altitude. The Turkish Air Force does have a number of American tankers that they own, so they certainly could’ve and almost beyond a shadow of a doubt did tank these F-16s before this whole engagement.

    They’re hanging out at low altitude over this mountainous area north of the border, and it’s now about a quarter after ten. The Russian fighters, the Su-24s, are just finishing their racetrack pattern after their first strike and are about to re-attack from this holding position well east of the target. At that point, the two F-16s break out of their loiter patterns to fly in a straight line south, quite certainly under Turkish ground control because they clearly are not hunting for the Su-24s and following a curved path, they’re heading straight for an intercept point that apparently ground control has provided them—a point that’s very close to the target that the Su-24s have just bombed. That’s clearly the point they’re coming back to bomb again.

    The F-16s arrive quite nicely and precisely timed to a missile-shooting position very near the border and three to four miles from the second Su-24—who has just finished bombing his second target—at about ten twenty-four. One of the F-16s locks onto him, launches a missile—an infrared missile according to the Russians—and immediately dives down to get back under the Syrian radar coverage. The F-16 makes a hard diving right turn and is back down under eight thousand feet in no time at all and heading north away from the scene of the engagement. In that turn he actually is penetrating Syrian airspace before he heads north to go home to Diyarbakir, probably at that point out of fuel and hooking up with a tanker again in order to make it home.

    Would he have been in Syrian airspace when they fired the missile?

    Not necessarily. It’s hard to tell at this point. All this action is pretty close to the border, and there’s no reason to believe either the Turks or the Russians about distances of half a mile or a mile north or south of the border, but there’s no question that the Turkish F-16 penetrated Syrian airspace in executing his diving turn to get out of the area. He was heading due south to attack the east-west track of the Su-24 that had just finished bombing the target. That Su-24 augured in almost immediately, about a mile and a half south of the border.

    The bone of contention here is not the target area. The target area is roughly four or five miles south of that famous border crossing we were just talking about. The bone of contention is a narrow finger of Turkish land about five miles long, sticking straight down into Syria, about a mile and a half at its widest at the northern end and tapering down to a half mile at the southern tip. That finger is a good six miles east of the target area. So when heading west on their way to attack their targets, the Su-24s necessarily had to pass very close to the southern tip of the finger. In other words, the whole controversy about whether this shoot-down was legitimate or not is whether the Su-24s on the way to the target happened to cross that finger for a few seconds.

    Remember again the setup. You’ve got a target that’s like ten miles in from the Mediterranean to the east. Another six miles or so east of there is this finger of land. It’s well east of the target area. The loiter area that the Sukhois were coming from is another sixteen miles to the east of that. They’re flying from their loiter area, which is well south of the border. They’re flying past the finger, maybe they crossed it, maybe they were just below it, and heading for the target.

    But if the Russians were in Turkish airspace, as the Turks claim, wouldn’t it be reasonable for the Turks to intercept them?

    There’s a little detail that’s very telling. The alleged border-crossing took place on the first bombing run from the loiter area to the target, and according to the Turks the Russians were roughly half a mile north of the tip of the finger and so they were in Turkish airspace for about seventeen seconds—a tiny, short, brief time—on their way to hitting the first target. The Russians, of course, say they were south of the finger by about a mile. God knows who’s right. I’m sure if we had access to the radar records we could tell very promptly who’s lying and who’s not, but nobody is going to give us access to the exact radar plot.

    Here’s the very interesting thing. This border-violating incursion was on the first run to the target at around quarter after ten a.m. On the second run to the target the Russian planes were clearly further to the south. This is according to the plots and maps released in the Russian briefing, which are very, very detailed with exact time marks every minute. The seventeen-second crossing of the border alleged by the Turks happened at about a quarter after ten, but the Turks waited. They didn’t come in and attack the airplane that had crossed the border at that point. They simply sat and waited until the plane flew a long re-attack pattern and came back on a second run seven or eight minutes later, and that’s when they attacked and shot him down.

    Between the fuel-guzzling low altitude of the holding pattern of the F-16s, which miraculously coincided with the flight times of the Russian airplanes, and the fact that they didn’t even chase the airplane immediately upon its alleged border incursion, all that smells very much like a pretty pre-planned operation. The Turks allowed the Russian plane to hit a target and make a long seven or eight minute re-attack pass and then came in from their hidden low altitude position. They came up a little higher to gain a good firing altitude, came whistling south, hit the Su-24, dove under the radar coverage at the same time that they entered Syrian airspace and headed north out of radar coverage to head back to Diyarbakir.

    Such an ambush wouldn’t have been hard to pull off, because the Russians, in their detailed account of this, state very clearly that they had coordinated with NATO, with the Americans, announcing this attack well in advance, and had followed the protocol of listening on the NATO-agreed frequency for any warnings or alerts from NATO or from the Turks. There was plenty of time for the Americans to inform the Turks that this mission was taking place. They might’ve even been informed by the Russians the day before it was going to take place. All the prerequisites for a setup were there.

    The Turks made a big deal about the ten warnings they said they issued to the Russian planes. What do we make of that?

    Again, that’s one of those things where it’s hard to tell and hard to know which side to believe. The Russians in their briefing, in their detailed briefing, are very clear and very adamant that the F-16s themselves, the attacking F-16s never transmitted any warning. Nor are the Turks or the Americans claiming that the F-16s warned the Russian fighters. But of course the international protocols for defending against incursions of your airspace require the attacking fighters themselves to inform the target—visually or by radio—whether it’s an airliner or a fighter or whatever, that they are now violating airspace and need to turn away.

    The Turks do say they transmitted their warnings from a ground-control station. They also claim they transmitted those radio calls on both the civilian international emergency “guard” UHF-band frequency and on the military VHF-band frequency previously agreed to by NATO and the Russians. The Americans were quick to confirm that their monitoring equipment picked up the Turkish ground-station radio warning calls, but they’ve been careful not to say what frequency they heard. Now it so happens that Su-24s have no radios onboard for receiving UHF-frequency signals, a fact which is well known to American, NATO, and Turkish intelligence.

    There’s a lot of outs to this that could be the fault of either sider. It’s quite likely true that the Turks radioed warnings, but those warnings may have been deliberately transmitted only on the international civilian frequency so that the Su-24s would never hear them. Or it may be that the Su-24’s military frequency radios were on the fritz, which is easy to believe given the well-known unreliability of Russian electronics.

    I do believe that the F-16s never issued any warnings, because it would be astonishing if they did. Here they went to all the trouble of tanking up and flying at a very low altitude, stretching their fuel endurance just to stay out of radar coverage of the Russians and the Syrians, and then why would they suddenly announce that they were there by warning the fighters when they had so obviously set up a situation where they were hiding? The ground-control station in Turkey probably did issue warnings, but they may have been warnings that were intended not to be received.

    Between the fuel-guzzling low altitude of the holding pattern of the F-16s, which miraculously coincided with the flight times of the Russian airplanes, and the fact that they didn’t even chase the airplane immediately upon its alleged border incursion, all that smells very much like a pretty pre-planned operation. The Turks allowed the Russian plane to hit a target and make a long seven or eight minute re-attack pass and then came in from their hidden low altitude position. They came up a little higher to gain a good firing altitude, came whistling south, hit the Su-24, dove under the radar coverage at the same time that they entered Syrian airspace and headed north out of radar coverage to head back to Diyarbakir.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 6, 2015, 6:51 pm

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