Could Turkey’s Sunday Election End the Invasion of Syria?

Eric Zuesse

The Turkish election on Sunday, November 1st, is a contest between a Sunni, Saudi-U.S.-allied, Islamic-run Turkey, ruled by the Islamicist Sunni Recep Tayyip Erdogan; or else a non-religious neutralist Turkey, ruled by the human rights lawyer Selahattin Demirtas. If Demirtas wins, that will be a huge blow to America’s war that aims to overthrow Syria’s Shiite non-religious President Bashar al-Assad and replace him with a Sunni. It would also be a huge blow to the jihadists’ (including ISIS’s – which is Sunni) chances of winning that war, because Turkey has been America’s essential ally (perhaps even more important than Qatar and Saudi Arabia combined) in overthrowing the non-religious Shiite Assad.

Geopolitics is about location, location, location; so, here’s a map showing Syria and its surrounding countries:

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 10.35.05 AM

The route that the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, have mainly used for supplying weapons to the overthrow-Assad forces has mainly been via Turkey. Iraq hasn’t helped the U.S.-Saudi-Qatari-Turkey effort, nor has Lebanon, nor has Jordan helped very much (despite being generally pro-U.S.). (Jordan’s Government are anti-terrorist, not pro-terrorist; so, they part with the U.S. alliance here.) Israel has secretly been trying to help the U.S.-Saudi-Qatari-Turkish – i.e., the pro-Islamicist, jihadist Sunni – forces, but has largely been blocked from doing that, because a U.N. peacekeeping force monitors the border there, and also because the anti-Assad forces on the Syrian side of that border are Syria’s Al Qaeda affiliate, which calls itself Al Nusra, and because the Israeli Government doesn’t want to become exposed to the Israeli public as providing help to Islamic jihadists – it would weaken President Benjamin Netanyahu’s support. Netanyahu won’t weaken his domestic position in order to help the U.S. Government. Furthermore, the Israeli population are at least as anti-Sunni as they are anti-Shiite; so, public support in Israel for replacing Assad with a Sunni regime is virtually nil.

As Seymour Hersh reported in April 2014 in the London Review of Books,

Last May, more than ten members of the al-Nusra Front were arrested in southern Turkey with what local police told the press were two kilograms of sarin. In a 130-page indictment the group was accused of attempting to purchase fuses, piping for the construction of mortars, and chemical precursors for sarin. Five of those arrested were freed after a brief detention. The others, including the ringleader, Haytham Qassab, for whom the prosecutor requested a prison sentence of 25 years, were released pending trial. In the meantime the Turkish press has been rife with speculation that the ErdoÄŸan administration has been covering up the extent of its involvement with the rebels. 

More recently, on 10 October 2015, Pamela Geller bannered, “VIDEO of Turkey’s 9/11: Twin suicide bombings at peace rally kills 97 people and injures 246,” and she reported that,

The attack is the deadliest ever of its kind on Turkish soil.

Word is that the Islamic State is behind these horrific bombings. President Erdogan covertly backed this group over the past couple of years. The Turkish government has censored media coverage of bombings as Twitter and Facebook were “blocked.”

Those corpses had been demonstrators for Demirtas’s party.

On Friday, October 30th, France24 headlined, “The rise of Turkey’s Demirtas, Erdogan’s nemesis,” and reported that,

The two men are worlds apart. Demirtas’s modern, reserved image contrasts heavily with the authoritarianism of Erdogan’s rule. According to Ali Kazancigil, a specialist in Turkish politics and director the geopolitical magazine “Anatoli”, Demirtas is the antithesis of the notorious megalomaniacal Erdogan, largely because of the democratic roots of his political movement. 

The Turkish public’s competing urges, on the one hand for democracy, on the other hand for religion, might determine whether the U.S.-Turkish-Saudi-Qatari war against Assad continues, or instead end in defeat for the jihadists and their foreign backers.

If Turkey stops assisting the U.S.-Saudi-Qatari alliance, then how will the overthrow-Assad forces in Syria continue to receive their (mainly U.S.-made) weapons? (The Saudi royal family and the Qatari royal family are reimbursing the U.S. Government for the cost of those weapons. The prospective benefits for them are largely this: takeover of Syria would enable their oil and gas to become pipelined into the EU, thus displacing Russia there as the main supplier to the world’s largest energy-market – which the U.S. Government very much wants to do.)


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.