Jan Weatherhead writes from Washington: The wonderful straight faced hypocrisy from Washington over the Syrian-Turkish border clashes is brilliant theatre de farce – as they say in the smartest eateries down my end of Georgetown.
There was 2016 Democrat Presidential candidate, current US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, wringing her hands with all the anguish of a car salesman explaining that the gear box that had fallen out of the car just sold had absolutely nothing to do with the dealership. For gear box read Syrian civil war that is getting out of control, not least because America has no effective policy and is letting some nations in the region play out their own scenarios.
If we are brutally honest about it, the US, the UK and a whole bunch of other impotent governments and agencies of international diplomacy have been longing for this war to spill over into Syria’s neighbours: Jordon, Iraq, Lebanon and especially Turkey and Israel.
Cynical, you say. Maybe. But let’s list what we know about the latest incident on the Syrian-Turkish border. On Wednesday, Syrian government forces shelled the Turkish border town of Akcakale. Two women and three children were killed as a result. Turkey’s permanent representative at the UN in New York, Ertugrul Apakan, wrote formally to the UN Security Council to take the necessary action to stop Syrian ‘aggression’. The Council gathered and condemned Syria.
Turkey is also a member of NATO, so it said in the Alliance’s spirit of all-for-one-and-one-for-all that NATO had to do something. The one-for-all thing may have been OK for the Three Musketeers but NATO had one of its meetings and said it supports Turkey. Turkey would like NATO to assassinate the Al Assad family and bomb crap out of army command. NATO, however, are not those sort of musketeers.
Turkish troops then blasted away at Syrian positions in Tel Abyad.
Very quickly, Syrian’s information wallah, Omran Zoabi, issued a statement: ‘Syria offers its sincere condolences to the families of the victims and to our friends the Turkish people.’ The Foreign Ministry said it was looking into the incident. Incident? Two woman and three kids killed is just an incident nowadays. Two woman and three children written off as an incident.
What was Syria doing to create such a sad affair? Probably trying to cut rebel supply routes through the crossings at Tel Abyad.
That should be that. Just another day in the Syrian war that is grinding its beautiful towns and its own sensitive people into dust. But let us for one moment step coldly aside. How about this for a scenario?
The attack on Turkey was carried out by rebels. Why would they do that? To get Turkey and its allies into the fire fight. And why would they want that? Because the rebels are not winning this war. They may eventually, but not yet. And the Syrian people are not 100 per cent behind them.
But here goes with the master cynicism: the US, the UK and allied look-away hangers on are pleased about this. They proclaim that they have always feared this could spread and become a regional confrontation. But could it be that the US and its cronies want that to happen?
In the State Department, they believe that the only way to fix the civil war is a local solution – a palace revolution in Damascus or Syria’s neighbours threatened so much that they’ll do something about it.
Iran, Lebanon and al Qaeda cast-offs are already involved in Syria. The State Department has a core group that has always believed that if regional governments say that enough is enough and we’ll get together just as neighbours are doing in East and West Africa, then that takes the heat off Washington. It also lines up with what the US and UK have always believed: Syria can only be fixed locally. The so-called Super and Great Powers are incapable of resolving this crisis – especially in election year and when everyone in NATO is getting out of wars, not into them.
So, cynically speaking, what’s happening on that border suits everyone except the relatives of the two women and three children who got killed.