“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, February 04, 2016

The US Ally: Turkey

Why the ‘Sultan of Chaos’ is freaking out

Picture sleepless nights at ‘Sultan’ Erdogan’s palace in Ankara. Imagine him livid when he learns the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), backed by Russian air power, started a preemptive Battle of Aleppo – through the Bayirbucak region - cutting off Ankara’s top weaponizing corridor and Jihadi highway. 

Who controls this corridor will control the final outcome of the war in Syria.

Meanwhile, in Geneva, the remote-controlled Syrian opposition, a.k.a. High Negotiations Committee, graphically demonstrated they never wanted to meet with the Damascus delegation in the first place – “proximity” talks or otherwise, even after Washington and Moscow roughly agreed on a two-year transition plan leading to a theoretically secular, nonsectarian Syria.

The Saudi front wanted no less than Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam and all Jabhat al-Nusra, a.k.a. al-Qaeda in Syria, collaborators at the table in Geneva. So the Geneva charade, quicker than one can say “Road to Aleppo!” was exposed for what it is.

And forget about NATO

Notorious Saudi intel mastermind Prince Turki, a former mentor of one Osama bin Laden, has been to Paris on a PR offensive; all he could muster was an avalanche of non-denial denials - and blaming the whole Syria tragedy on Bashar al-Assad.

The bulk of the Syrian ‘opposition’ used to be armchair warriors co-opted by the CIA for years, as well as CIA Muslim Brotherhood patsies/vassals. Many of these characters preferred the joys of Paris to a hard slog on Syrian ground. Now the ‘opposition’ is basically warlords answering to the House of Saud even for bottles of water – regardless of the suit-and-tie former Ba’ath Party ministers handpicked to be the face of the opposition for the gullible Western corporate media.
Meanwhile, the ‘4+1’ – Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, plus Hezbollah – is now winning decisive facts on the ground. The break down; there won’t be regime change in Damascus. Yet no one broke the news to the Turks and Saudis.  

‘Sultan’ Erdogan is wallowing in a sea of desperation. He continues to divert the gravely serious issues at stake to his own war against the PYD - the umbrella organization of the Syrian Kurds - and the YPG (People's Protection Units, their military wing). Erdogan and Prime Minister Davutoglu wanted the PYD not only banned from Geneva but they want it smashed on the ground, as they see the PYD/YPG as “terrorists” allied to the PKK.

U.N. mediator for Syria Staffan de Mistura gestures during a news conference on the Syrian peace talks outside President Wilson hotel in Geneva, Switzerland February 3, 2016. © Denis Balibouse
Yet what is ‘Sultan’ Erdogan going to do? Defy the recently arrived 4G++ Sukhoi Su-35S fighters – which are scaring the hell out of every NATO Dr. Strangelove? The Turkish Air Force putting its bases on “orange alert” may scare the odd vagrant dog at best. The same applies to NATO Secretary-General, figurehead Jens Stoltenberg, pleading to Russia “to act responsibly and fully respect NATO airspace.”

Moscow is going after the Turkmen with a vengeance and at the same time providing air support to the PYD west of the Euphrates. That hits the ‘Sultan’ in his heart of hearts; after all Erdogan has threatened multiple times that a PYD/YPG advance west of the Euphrates is the ultimate red line.
An already scared NATO won’t support the folly of an Erdogan war against Russia – as much as US and UK neocons may crave it; as NATO decisions must be unanimous, the last thing EU powers Germany and France want is yet another Southwest Asia war. NATO may deploy the odd Patriot missiles in southern Anatolia and the odd AWACs to support the Turkish Air Force. But that’s it.

Pick your favorite regime change

ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, meanwhile, continues to profit from its own Jihadi highway across a 98 kilometer stretch of Turkish/Syrian border, especially in Jarablus and Al Rai across from Gaziantep and Kilis in Turkey.

Taking a cue from Israel, Ankara is building a wall – 3.6 meters high, 2.5 meters wide - covering the stretch between Elbeyli and Kilis, essentially for propaganda purposes. Because the Jihadi Highway, for all practical purposes, remains open – even as Turkish Armed Forces may apprehend the odd trespasser (always released). We’re talking about a monster smuggler/soldier scam; as much as $300 change hands for each night crossing and a noncommissioned Turkish officer may earn as much as $2,500 to look the other way for a few minutes.

The real question is why Gaziantep is not under a curfew imposed from Ankara, with thousands of Turkish Special Forces actually fighting a “war on terra” on the spot. That’s because Ankara and provincial authorities couldn’t give a damn; the real priority is Erdogan’s war on the Kurds.

This brings us to the only leverage the ‘Sultan’ may enjoy at the moment. From Brussels to Berlin, sound minds are terrified that the EU is now actually hostage to Erdogan’s Kurd “priority”, while Ankara is doing next to nothing to fight massive migrant smuggling.

When Davutoglu went to Berlin recently not only did he make no promises; he re-stressed Erdogan’s vow to “annihilate" the Syrian Kurds.

And that explains German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s own desperation. How could the alleged most powerful politician in Europe falls for such a crude extortion racket? The ‘Sultan’ wants a lot of cash, a lot of concessions, and even a further shot at entering the EU. Otherwise, he won’t turn off the tap on the grim refugee flood.

No wonder the regime change rumor mill is frantic. In Ankara? No; in Berlin.


Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online. Born in Brazil, he's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of "Globalistan" (2007), "Red Zone Blues" (2007), "Obama does Globalistan" (2009) and "Empire of Chaos" (2014), all published by Nimble Books. His latest book is "2030", also by Nimble Books, out in December 2015.


  1. “The Syrian refugees worry that there will be some kind of backlash against them,” said Anna Tuson, a communications manager at the Small Projects Istanbul, which provides educational assistance to refugees. “After being so massively traumatized in Syria, moreover, many have said that the bombings have pushed them to continue westward onto Europe, where things seem to be more stable.”

    For many refugees like Mohamad Ayman, who works at the Salloura desserts shop, waiting out the war in Istanbul has the advantage of being in a familiar culture. He pointed to the nearby mosque as Syrians returned from late afternoon prayer.

    “Still, it’s so difficult for us here," Ayman said. "We feel that we are outside of Damascus even more because we see everyone here from Damascus, which only reminds us again of the crisis we escaped at home,” he said.

  2. Terrific debate between Clinton and Sanders. A real debate instead of the usual nonsense. Bernie Sanders is a real class act. Both candidates should make The GOP nervous.

  3. Neither said they will carpet bomb anybody. Neither mentioned Jesus. Clinton burnished her Neocon badge. Sanders played out the case for reforming the electoral system. It was an intelligent balanced debate.

  4. Bernie Sanders is a real decent human being. I would love to see him become president.

  5. .

    Since I can't in conscience vote for any of these dolts from either party, I am left with only non-presidential candidates to vote for (well they are all non-presidential but you know what I mean, congressional, state, local).

    That being said, since one of them is going to get in anyway I registered as a Democrat on my absentee ballot request. I will vote for Bernie in the primary here. Likely, won't help but anything is better than Hillary on the Dem side. On the Republican side, there is no one there I would prefer over the others. They are all terrible.


    1. Gary Johnson, Q, Gary Johnson ...


    The huge global scale of female genital mutilation has been revealed in disturbing new statistics, which show at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone ritual cutting, half of them living in just three countries.

    The latest worldwide figures, compiled by Unicef, include nearly 70 million more girls and women than estimated in 2014 because of a raft of new data collected in Indonesia, one of the countries where FGM is most prevalent despite the practice being banned since 2006.

    In the analysis of 30 countries, published to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, statistics showed women in Indonesia, Egypt and Ethiopia account for half of all FGM victims worldwide. Somalia has the highest prevalence of women and girls who have been cut – 98% of the female population between the ages of 15 and 49.

  7. Too bad someone didn’t take Abraham out and drown him.

    1. WHY ?

      Do you know the provenance of FGM ?


      Do you know where it is most practiced ?


      When it was first practiced ?


      Do you know the peoples among whom it is most practiced ?


      Therefore you got zero to say on the subject, other to show, once again, your ignorance of Abraham and the wonderful meanings of his stories.

    2. The discovery of widespread FGM in Iraqi Kurdistan suggests the assumption to be incorrect that FGM is primarily an African phenomenon with only marginal occurrence in the eastern Islamic world. FGM is practiced at a rate of nearly 60 percent by Iraqi Kurds, then how prevalent is the practice in neighboring Syria where living conditions and cultural and religious practices are comparable?

      Why should a single US soldier die to protect this horrid cultural practice,

      Answer US that Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson

    3. Judaism[edit]

      The Jewish Bible does not mention female circumcision (i.e removal of clitoral hood ) or female genital mutilation (i.e. clitoridectomy and infibulation). [87] [88]


      The Kurds are moslem, of a rather strange type, not Jews.

      You have earned the right to silence on the subject of child rearing, Dead Beat Dad, as you abandoned your own daughter.

      And Kindly quit stalking me.

      Some African cultures are into FGM, as was ancient Egypt.

      Bed time here, big day tomorrow.

      Cheers ! to everyone but rathole

    4. If you do not want to discus the topics you post on, Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson, quit posting on this blog...

      If you post on your own blog, or at "O"rdure's, if creating your own is to daunting a task, for you, I will not respond to what I do not see.

  8. I watched the debate, also. A hell of a debate.

    To use a poker player's parlance: Bernie only has one move; but, it's a hell of a move. :)

  9. I support Hillary,

    because I don't believe any self-identified Socialist, running on a platform of Radical Revolution, and Tax Increases for Everyone, can win a general election.

    But, I can't help but like the crazy, old coot. :)

    1. Just like you, Rufus, to support an old bitch who covered up her husband's felonies with young women and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

      We need to bring back the literacy test for voting in this country. You'd flunk, and we'd all be better off for you lack of participation.

      Wanting to sell heroin over the counter, and cover up sexual crimes...rampant corruption, and that's just for beginners.....

      Truly you are a shame to your race.


    2. Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson, your misogynistic tendencies are showing.

    3. Along with your ingrained racism.

  10. Big Jobs Number, tomorrow. The "smarts" are taking the under, it seems.


  11. Those of US that would like to see the defeat of the Islamic State can only stand on the sidelines and cheer for Assad and the Russians, as they close the logistical trail to Turkey that is essential to the Islamic State.

    As our own Republican controlled Congress refuses to authorize the use of military force against the Islamic terrorists, in Syria, Libya and Iraq.


  12. Forget Peace, Netanyahu, What About Our Security?

    Instead of castigating him because there is no peace, something that he never promised, we should be asking the prime minister: Where the hell is the security you promised?

    by Carolina Landsmann

    read more: