To put pressure on Turkey for more support the Islamic State attacks the Turkish economy. But that is in vain if the Syrian government and its supporters can close the border to Turkey. That now looks very possible as the Syrian government, supported by Russian air force and indirect fire, is winning on all fronts.
Turkey received the fruits of its support for terrorists in Syria today. Ten people, most of them foreign tourists, were killed in a suicide attack in the Sultanahmet district, a main tourist area in Istanbul.
The Turkish government says the culprit was a 28 year old Saudi man. That mostly excludes that this was an attack of the PKK or any radical left group. The Islamic State is likely the organization behind this attack.
The attack’s real target is the Turkish economy. Istanbul is the third most visited tourist city in Europe. That will now change. Earlier Russia warned its citizens against visiting Turkey. The German government and others are now likely to follow. Russians and Germans were the two top tourist origins for Turkey. This will have significant consequences for the Turkish economy and employment situation.
Turkey has supported the Jihadists anti-government terrorists in Syria and Iraq. Until,very recently the Islamic State ran a sophisticated immigration operation through the Turkey-Syria border:
Turkey has long said that it is unable to secure its 500-mile border with Syria. In January, as Isis was logging people passing in and out of Tel Abyad, the Turkish prime minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, told the Independent that sealing the border would be impossible.
The border crossing remained open until Kurdish forces took control of the town in June, at which point Turkey promptly sealed it. The crossing remains closed, a government official confirmed.
There are still other parts of the border where people can cross from Islamic State held territory to Turkey and back. Imports to the Islamic State come mostly from Turkey while stolen oil is exported to Turkey. Turkey will have to stop all support for the various terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq or it will experience ever increasing mayhem on its own soil.
Last year Turkey helped an alliance that included al-Qaeda in Syria and similar groups in capturing Idleb province and Idleb city from the Syrian government. That attack und the Turkish support for these groups was one of the reasons that prompted the Russians to intervene on the Syrian government side. Since then Russian intelligence and air support has helped to turn the war on Syria around. The government forces are now winning on every front.
But Turkey is not the only “western” country that is still actively supporting the Jihadidsts:
In a statement Monday to Foreign Policy, the Syrian Emergency Task Force said Russian planes bombed one of its offices in central Idlib province in a strike that “completely destroyed” the facility and equipment. The staff — which host civil society workshops, helps distribute U.S. humanitarian aid, and documents atrocities — was not present during the incident, and no one was killed, according to SETF.
Can someone explain why and how the U.S. Syrian Emergency Task Force, which is financed by the U.S. State Department, can continue to operate in al-Qaeda occupied Idleb?
When the Russian air support in Syria started and the Syrian army went on the offense a large number of U.S. provided anti-tank guided missiles where used by the terrorists. The number of such missile attacks has now significantly decreased. The Russian bombing broke the logistic lines of the various groups and ransacked their headquarters and support areas. The four month bombing campaign is now showing real results.
In Latakia in north west Syria the Syrian army today took the resort town Salma which had been a major center of terrorist activities in the area. Yesterday a whole suburb west of Aleppo city fell to the Syrian army. East of Aleppo city the Syrian army is advancing towards Al Bab which lies on one of the Islamic State’s major roads to Turkey. Near Rastan in Homs province the Syrian army crossed the Orontes river and captured Jarjisah. Further south the Syrian army is progressing towards the Jordanian border. The Russian air attacks also support the advances of the Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State under the label of the U.S. created Syrian Democratic Front. The SDF is now moving to Manbij north east from Aleppo from the east and towards Avaz north-west of Aleppo from the west which together with the Syrian government rush north towards Al Bab develops into a pincer movement that will cut the Islamic State and other terrorist groups from the Turkish border.
Since the beginning of active Russian support the Syrian army has – according to the Russian General Staff – liberated more than 150 towns and villages from the terrorist forces. Since the beginning of January more than twenty two towns have been freed.
Bombing is not a solution for conflicts. The U.S. started bombing Iraq 25 years ago and has bombed it ever since. last year alone it dropped over 23,000 bombs on Muslim countries. But the Russian bombing in Syria is in support a legitimate and capable government which has the majority support of its people and that makes all the difference.
The Russian campaign has significantly decimated the militant’s fighting force. A few weeks ago the head of the Islamic State Baghdadi had called for a general mobilization of all Muslims to support his shrinking state. Yesterday the main religious leaders of Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s organization in Syria, also issued a call for total mobilization. The Chechen terrorist groups in Latakia under Emir Muslim Shishani are calling for help. The fronts held by these shrinking forces now regularly fall apart when under Russian style attacks. They are now near their breaking point.
During World War II a majority of casualties were caused by indirect fire. During the recent fighting in Ukraine some 80-90% of the casualties on the Ukrainian government side were caused by massive artillery attacks. The Syrian army has copied this Russian style of fighting by using more by artillery and airstrikes for the preparation of attacks. This preserves the manpower of friendlies but requires strong logistics and causes massive damage on buildings and infrastructure.
With the lack of manpower resulting in defeats everywhere the militants and their supporters have upped their “information operations”. In a massive propaganda effort they asserted the people in Madaya, under siege by Syrian troops, were starving. Lots of fake and old pictures distributed by “activists” and mainstream media like the BBC showed starving people. But Madaya, like other cities under siege from the terrorists, had received food for several months in October and in late November. The militants seized all provisions and sold them to the inhabitants at extortion prices. Still the International Committee of the Red Cross could not confirm any famine casualties. The propaganda campaign over Madaya did not achieve the intended result of more “western” intervention. Madayan received fresh food but so did Fuar and Kefraya which are bigger and under siege by the terrorist forces.
The “starving” claims were fake assertions as they have accompanied the war on Syria from its very beginning. According to the Indian ambassador in Syria at that time al-Qaeda was involved even in the very first weeks of the 2011 “peaceful protests”. A fact that at that time was denied by “western” media and is still covered up in recent reporting.
But as 9/11 showed and today’s attack in Istanbul again demonstrates supporting fundamentalist terrorist forces always comes back to bite. Unfortunately only after creating terrible damage elsewhere.