Noose Tightens on
Turkey’s Sultan of Swing
November 30, 2015 "Information
Clearing House" - "SCF"
- Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – a self-styled
neo-Ottoman sultan – was only a few years a darling of Western
governments and media, proclaimed as a moderniser of Turkey,
overseeing a bustling economy and positioning his country as a
strategic bridge to Asia.
involvement in the US-led regime-change project in Syria is now
steadily revealing his family’s appreciable criminal enterprises:
from smuggling oil and stolen artefacts, to gun-running for
terrorist networks. The former Sultan of Swing is swinging alright,
but it could be at the end of an incriminating rope whose noose is
becoming ever tighter around his neck.
Russia’s air strikes
in support of the Syrian government in its nearly five-year war
against foreign-backed mercenary brigades are blowing the lid on
the corruption at the heart of the Turkish ruling AK Party, and the
Erdogan family business in particular.
One factor in why
Erdogan ordered the fatal shoot-down of a Russian Su-24 fighter jet
this week was out of revenge for how Russia is destroying
the Turkish ruler’s criminal schemes. The destruction of hundreds of
oil tankers and other facilities commandeered by the jihadist terror
network in eastern Syria and western Iraq is hitting Erdogan’s
The smuggling routes –
estimated to earn $1 million per day for the terror brigades – are
integrated by Erdogan’s son, Bilal, whose licensed shipping
companies traffic the illicit goods to global markets. Russian
intelligence has laid bare this smuggling empire, as presented by
President Vladimir Putin at the recent G20 summit held in Turkey’s
Antalya. Further incriminating details are expected in coming
This week, following
the downing of the Russian warplane, Erdogan boldly dismissed the
oil connections as «slander».
But as Putin retorted,
with a touch of sarcasm, it’s hard to imagine how the Ankara
authorities could be unaware of an illicit industry involving
thousands of oil-laden trucks criss-crossing the heavily militarised
Among the contraband
are believed to be precious artefacts stolen from Syria’s ancient
dwellings, such as the cities of Palmyra and Iraq’s
Nimrod, according to the Syrian information minister, Omran
al-Zoubi. These artefacts dating from 2,000 years ago are
designated as world heritage valuables by the United Nations. It
says something about the dubious values of Erdogan and his AK Party
cronies when world heritage objects are being looted to finance
personal gain and terrorism.
The trade in oil
stolen from Syrian and Iraqi state-owned facilities by the jihadists
is only one half of a giant cross-border loop tied up by Turkey.
Convoys of trucks
laden with weapons are going back into Syria from Turkey on an
almost daily basis. Those weapons, paid for by proceeds from the oil
smuggling, are then distributed among the plethora of jihadist
terror groups, including the Al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra and so-called
Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh). The arms
trade is overseen by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation
(MIT), headed up by Hakan Fidan, who is closely associated with
Erdogan and the AKP leadership.
Fidan was quoted by
the state-run Anadolu news agency last month as offering an apologia
for the IS terror group. «ISIS is a reality and we have to accept
that we cannot eradicate a well-organised and popular establishment
such as the Islamic State», said Fidan, who added: «Therefore I urge
my Western colleagues to revise their mindset about Islamic
political currents… and thwart Vladimir Putin’s plans to crush
Syrian Islamist revolutionaries [terrorists]». The statement caused
such a controversy that the Anadolu news agency later issued a
denial of its prior publication.
Despite a heavy media
crackdown under Erdogan, sections of the Turkish media have
courageously carried damning reports on the oil-weapons nexus that
is fuelling the war in Syria. This week, the editor of the
Cumhuriyet newspaper, Can Dundar, was arrested on charges of
«spying» and crimes against the state because he published articles
with photographic evidence exposing the massive cross-border weapons
dealing, overseen by Turk I ntelligence. Erdogan has threatened the
editor with a life sentence for daring to reveal «state secrets».
newspaper, Today’s Zaman, also this week reported on an unintended
slip made by Adana state prosecutor, Ali Dogan, a protégé
of Erdogan. The prosecutor inadvertently revealed in a statement
that up to 2,000 trucks filled with arms and operated by Turk
intelligence have been ferrying firepower to militants in Syria.
It thus makes the
claims made by the Syrian minister al-Zoubi that the downing of the
Russian Su-24 this week – resulting in the death of its pilot – was
an act of revenge by Erdogan owing to the severe damage that
Russia’s military intervention in Syria is inflicting. That damage
includes not only huge financial losses to Erdogan and his family
entourage, but also to the entire war effort for regime change
against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In an interview with
Russian media, the Syrian minister said: «All of the oil was
delivered to a company that belongs to the son of Recep [Tayyip] Erdogan.
This is why Turkey became anxious when Russia began delivering
airstrikes against the IS [Islamic State] infrastructure and
destroyed more than 500 trucks with oil already. This really got on
Erdogan and his company’s nerves. They’re importing not only oil,
but wheat and historic artefacts as well», added al-Zoubi.
If Erdogan thought he
could poke the Russian bear in the eye and get away with it, he is
sorely mistaken. Russia has stepped up its bombing campaign along
the Syria-Turkey border, hitting oil trucks heading north and
the reverse-flow of arms trucks heading south. In the Syrian border
town of Azaz, a Russian air strike this week reportedly destroyed up
to 20 vehicles believed to be stocked with weapons. Seven people
were killed in the air raid.
Ankara claims that the
convoys crossing the border are carrying «humanitarian aid» to
Turkmen Syrians. Turk Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has complained
that Russian air strikes have been targeting Turkmen «brothers and
sisters» – inferring civilians.
But these are the same
Turkmen militia who gained notoriety this week by brutally murdering
the Russian pilot who parachuted from the Su-24 downed by Turk F-16s
The Turkmen militia,
with names like the 10th Brigade of the Coast,
are fighting hand-in-hand alongside the other jihadist terror
groups, Al Nusra and IS, to topple the government in Damascus. The
Turkmen, who reside in northern Syria but who are ethnically related
to Turkish people, have played an instrumental role in waging
Erdogan’s covert war of terror in Syria.
Last year, in April
2014, Turkmen militia carried out a massacre in the northern coastal
village of Kessab, in Latakia Province, where 88 Armenian Christians
were slaughtered. Thirteen of the victims were beheaded, according
to survivors. That attack also involved brigades from al Nusra, IS
and the so-called Free Syrian Army, the alleged «moderate secular
rebels» much championed by the Western governments and media. (A
follow-up column will be published on that specific massacre in the
Turkmen commander recently protested bitterly to the Erdogan regime
over it not suppling his fighters with enough weapons.
Turkmen commander Ömer
Abdullah of the Sultan Abdülhamit Brigade was quoted as saying: «We
are trying to survive under unbearable brutality and we need
Turkey’s help.» He was referring to Russian air strikes, adding:
«Every day our Turkmen brothers are dying. We expect the [Erdogan]
government to support us. Why have they abandoned us? Our martyrs
fall every day. Why are we being left alone? I don’t understand».
As Turkey’s Today’s
Zaman points out, the Turkmen’s claim of not receiving sufficient
weapons raises the bigger question about the arms trucks that Turk
intelligence, MIT, has been running into Syria. Where have the
machine-guns, artillery and mortars contained in thousands of
cross-border convoys gone to? If the Turkmen brigades are being cut
out of the supply chain then that suggests that Ankara’s weapons are
being funnelled instead to the other jihadist groups, such as Al
Nusra and IS.
intervention in Syria is turning the tide decisively against the
criminal US-led war for regime change, by decimating the ranks for
terror brigades that Washington and its allies have deployed for
self-styled strongman Erdogan, Russia’s intervention is also
hammering home huge personal losses. His egotistical schemes
of resurrecting Turkey as a new Ottoman regional power are being
shattered. The international reputation of the country under his
leadership is sinking into a putrid sewer.
Moreover, his family’s
criminal involvement in the conflict is also being exposed. And his
responsibility for fuelling a criminal war of aggression with the
loss of over 250,000 lives looms ahead of Erdogan like a noose.
The Sultan of Swing indeed.
See also -
‘The Sultan Complex’ with host Patrick Henningsen and
guest Finian Cunningham
In the second hour, we’re joined by global
affairs analyst and independent journalist Finian Cunningham to
discuss events happening between Syria, Turkey, Russia, the Ukraine
and the most under-reported story in the region: