At dawn on Sunday the 22nd of February, Turkey launched a military operation into Syria to purportedly rescue Turkish soldiers who had been surrounded by Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL) fighters for months. The troops were guarding the tomb of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire. The military operation involved drones, tanks, reconnaissance planes and nearly 600 soldiers (including special forces) according to Reuters, with the Syrian government denouncing the operation as an act of “flagrant aggression”.
The official justification for the invasion is suspicious to any informed reader as Turkey has been a major player in supporting and aiding ISIS, in addition to the tomb of Suleyman Shah being the subject of a leaked conversation between top Turkish strategists discussing a false flag attack on the tomb to justify war with Syria.
Buffer Zone in Syria
Syrian MP Khalil Mashhadiyah stated earlier this week that the Turkish military operation in Syria is aimed at creating a “buffer zone” in Northern Syria.Mashhadiyah told Fars News:
“Turkey’s aggression against the Syrian territory is within the framework of joint efforts with Israel to create a buffer zone, especially North of Aleppo, to delay the Syrian army’s operations and this shows Turkey’s clear support for the Takfiris.”
Some reports suggest there is already a de facto buffer zone in the Southwest of Syria near the Golan Heights, although this is an undeclared zone in an area that will be hotly contested in the coming months. A buffer zone in Northern Syria is often promoted by NATO powers under the auspices of humanitarian concerns, which is a disgrace considering the humanitarian disaster in Syria is a direct result of NATO powers and their allies funding and supporting a rebel invasion of Syria to oust the regime in Damascus.
A buffer zone in Syria would serve as a rebel mini-state where fighters would be trained by foreign military personnel to launch attacks against Syrian government forces. As the Brookings Institution admits in an article titled: What Would the Turkish Buffer Zone Mean for Syria’s Displaced:
“Beyond humanitarian concerns, the buffer zone likely has politico-military functions: the cleared zone could be used as an area to train forces opposed to Assad.”
Turkey has repeatedly called for buffer zones which will almost certainly be accompanied by no fly zones in Syria, although the Turkish government has often termed them as “safe zones” in a bid to obfuscate the public. The Syrian Foreign Ministry has rejected the creation of buffer zones on its territory as it views such proposals as a violation of its sovereignty.
In November of 2014, Bloomberg View reported on an alleged plan between the US and Turkey to create an “air-exclusion zone” in Syria along the Turkish border, which would be a zone policed by Turkish soldiers on the ground and the US air force in the sky. The US has so far refrained from imposing a no fly zone in Syria, but this could change in the coming months.
Was the Turkish invasion of Syria a test to see how the Syrian government would respond to such an act of aggression, in addition to monitoring the response of regional players? This could merely be a test in preparation for a real ground invasion of Syria in the future.
If NATO powers manage to implement a buffer zone accompanied by a no fly zone in Northern Syria in the future, it would weaken the al-Assad regime.“As we saw with Libya, a “no fly zone” is merely a euphemism for aerial bombardment and aggressive regime change,” as Paul Joseph Watson wrote in 2012.
Attempting to impose a no fly zone may even provoke a direct military response by the government in Damascus. The Syrian government has been under relentless military assault by an assortment of regional players and NATO powers, but it has responded with restraint and strategic astuteness so far. But how much more can the al-Assad regime endure before it responds to a Turkish attack or an Israeli attack, or to NATO powers attempting to implement a no fly zone?
The entire Middle East is balancing on a knife’s edge with the possibility of the region exploding becoming more likely by the week….
Steven MacMillan is an independent writer, researcher, geopolitical analyst and editor of The Analyst Report, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.