New Eastern Outlook
by F. William Engdahl
In this most bizarre of seemingly endless conflicts in the Middle East, wars ultimately over something as stupid as control of oil, a most alarming report has surfaced introducing the nightmare scenario of nations using tactical nuclear weapons to secure their aims. That were it to happen wouldl be the most stupid thing the human race has done to date to destroy itself. Given the implications and what is being reported it warrants more than close scrutiny.
It’s a report from a serious US journalist, citing an anonymous “source close to Putin” that a nuclear war pitting Russia against USA, NATO, Turkey and Saudi Arabia is possible. I refuse to believe in such a nuclear war over Syria and I want to say why.
On February 18, Robert Parry, an American investigative journalist of unusually high-quality, one who uncovered explosive details about the 1980’s illegal US Government Iran-Contra scandal among other stories, wrote the following alarming note on his website:
“A source close to Russian President Vladimir Putin told me that the Russians have warned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that Moscow is prepared to use tactical nuclear weapons if necessary to save their troops in the face of a Turkish-Saudi onslaught. Since Turkey is a member of NATO, any such conflict could quickly escalate into a full-scale nuclear confrontation.”
I have followed Parry’s research since the 1990’s and find it to be of high professional quality.
Parry’s report was then picked up by Alexander Mercouris for the Russia Insider website. Mercouris is also an unusually serious and careful analyst of events Russian. He added to the Parry report his own details of a February 11 unusual meeting of the highly-important Russian Security Council, followed by a series of military exercises arranged at short notice in their Southern Military District, which look like they were “intended to prepare the Russian military for rapid action at short notice against Turkey should the need arise.”
The Saker, the pen-name of an equally-highly-respected and knowledgeable military analyst, one whose writings on Russia since the US-organized coup d’etat in Ukraine in early 2014 have been exceptionally sober, while reprinting the Mercouris article on his blog, openly disagreed with the Parry report and the Mercouris analysis. On February 20 The Saker wrote, “I don’t see any scenario short of a massive US/NATO attack under which Russia would use her tactical nuclear weapons.” He also cited a translation of Russian doctrine on use of nuclear weapons:
§27: The Russian Federation reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use against her and (or) her allies of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, as well as in the case of aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons in a way which would threaten her very existence as a state. The decision to use nuclear weapons is taken by the President of the Russian Federation.
I want to state something completely different about the report on possible use of nuclear weapons over the conflict in Syria. I refuse to believe there will be a nuclear war over Syria and oil. Full stop!
The conflict in Syria is essentially a conflict between two persons–Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, and his neighbor, Bashar Hafez al-Assad, President of Syria, commander-in-chief of the Syrian Armed Forces, General Secretary of the ruling Ba’ath Party and Regional Secretary of the party’s branch in Syria. This is NOT World War III, and I refuse to believe it will become World War III. It is a conflict between two people, Assad and Erdoğan.
If we recognize this reality about the nature of the Syrian conflict, we begin immediately to relativize what’s going on. The problem is that there is a faction in the West drooling at the prospect of engineering a nuclear war with Putin’s Russia and willing to manipulate Erdoğan, Saudi Prince Salman, and anyone and everyone they can deceive to reach that end. They tried and failed in Ukraine.
The problem, a most fundamental problem which I now see more clearly in hindsight, is, when understood in this light, it was an initial error, if an understandable one. Russia’s leadership decided to intervene militarily at the end of September for a complex of reasons I believe, some in defense of Russian military security, some for reasons of Russia’s standing or perceived standing in the world, some for complex psychological reasons going deep into Russian history. All that led Russia to accept the plea of one of the two parties in that Syrian conflict, to make a military war against the terrorists, which were in reality the extended arm of the second party, Erdoğan.
That error has now played into the hands of the war faction in NATO and beyond, a faction in the West that desperately wishes to destroy Russia along with China as a positive force for good in the world.
It matters not whether a trusted person in Vladimir Putin’s inner circle passed that message to Robert Parry about using tactical nuclear weapons should Erdogan’s army invade Syria and threaten the lives of an estimated 20,000 Russian military personnel. Russia’s military action in Syria fed the world more energy of war, killing, hate. That, the world urgently needs less of.
As I stated in a recent interview for the Russian state Sputnik News media, there are no winners in war, by the very nature of war. Everyone in this war is deceiving, playing Machiavellian games — Erdogan, Salman and his son, Prince Salman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, John Kerry, Obama, David Cameron, Hollande.
Russia is in a most risky situation in Syria if it and its leading people have any illusion that the other actors are reasonable. Hate knows no reason. Syria’s Bashar al Assad cannot win this conflict with Turkey’s Erdoğan. Nor can the most sophisticated air power of Russia win it for him.
That being said, now we have an absurd situation with thousands of nervous Turkish military, standing, armed and peering across the border into Syria. Alongside that stupid spectacle, we have the recent deployment of Saudi Air Force jets now sitting at the Incirlik Air Base–106 miles away from the Russian airbase at Khmeimim, near Latakia, Syria. The Saudi jets sit alongside some 5,000 airmen and the various military jets of the United States Air Force 39th Air Base Wing, and of the Turkish Air Force, along with F-15E jets from the British Royal Air Force that arrived in November, 2015 to join the “attack on ISIS.” It’s worth noting also that Incirlik Air Base today is one of six European NATO airbases holding a stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons.
The Turkish Incirlik Air Base (Red Star) near the Syrian border is one of six European NATO bases which hold tactical nuclear weapons.
As I detail in my newest book, The Lost Hegemon: Whom the gods would destroy, dealing with the complex, decades-long unholy alliance between the Muslim Brotherhood death cult and the CIA, going back to Saudi Arabia in the early 1950’s, the conflicts between Syria’s Assad and Turkey’s Erdogan have nothing whatsoever to do with religion.
That’s a fact, no matter who else has decided to join in on either of the two sides. It reminds much like in a barroom brawl once the first beer bottle is hurled. It has not to do with killing of Christians–Orthodox or Catholic or other, despite the recent talks between the Roman Pope and the Moscow Patriarch. It has not to do with a war of Sunni Wahhabists against Shi’ite or Alawites.
The secret: It’s about the oil, stupid!
The poorly-understood reason for this conflict over Syria and over the entire Middle East is a conflict to control its oil–Syria’s reportedly huge oil reserves in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights; Iraq’s huge oil reserves in Kirkuk and elsewhere; Libya’s significant oil reserves and Qatar’s vast gas reserves. They all want the oil–British and US circles, French circles, Saudis, Turks, Syrians, Israelis, Iraqis–all. A good part of the NATO conflict with Russia is also about oil and gas. And even China’s ongoing conflict with her neighbors and with the United States in the South China Sea is significantly about oil.
The Syria conflict in this light must be seen for what it is: it’s essentially a conflict between two persons, Assad and Erdoğan, over control of oil and the vast sums of money from oil. It is not the beginning of World War III as that Pope in Rome said in Jose Marti Airport in Cuba last year. That is why I refuse to believe there will be a nuclear war over Syria and its oil.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.