- - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The commander of the Iranian Air Force aid Sunday that his forces would protect Syrian airspace against foreign military intervention, a humorous comment since the Russia and Iran militaries in Syria, last time I checked, weren’t Syrian. Brig. Gen. Farzad Ismaili said, “Any presence there without the cooperation of the Syrian government will fail.”

“Syria has a legitimate government and without working with it any presence there will only bring humiliation,” said the Iranian commander in an interview with Tasnim news agency, reported Rudaw, a Kurdish media network.

The Iranians are obviously worried about comments and actions by the Turks and the Saudis regarding entering the war on the side of the anti-Assad forces. Saudi Arabia has deployed aircraft to the Turkish air base at Incirlik and are preparing to inject ground forces into the war. A military spokesman for Hezbollah, the Shiite Iranian-backed militia, declared that “the servants of the Saudi entity will never be able to deal with Hezbollah’s fighters. If the Saudi soldiers want to try to fight against us, they will have to write their names on their graves before they even think of resisting us.”

For its part, Turkey is now calling for a coalition ground force to get involved in the conflict. “We want a ground operation with our international allies,” a Turkish official said, speaking to reporters in Istanbul. “Without a ground operation it is impossible to stop the fighting in Syria.” The official ruled out Turkey entering Syria on its own and stressed that such an operation would only take place as a coordinated effort with the United States and other allies. “Turkey is not going to have a unilateral ground operation,” he stated.

All the while, tension between Russia and Turkey, long-term historical adversaries (think Ottoman-Russian wars), is building. Russian President Putin, furious over Turkey shooting down a Russian jet, has been supporting Kurdish YPG fighters in their effort to expand their gains along the Turkish, Syrian border.

Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish prime minister, accused the YPG on Monday of being “Russia’s instrument in Syria.” Turkey has been shelling YPG units now for two days across the border to Russia’s fury. YPG units are also backed by the United States as they are very effective against ISIS. Davutoglu said that Turkey would attack the Menagh air base north of Aleppo if Syrian Kurds did not withdraw from it and vowed to protect the Syrian border town of Azaz from the Kurdish forces, reports FT.

Russia would like nothing more than to use this situation to break apart the North Atlantic Treaty Organization by provoking Turkey to act unilaterally, and therefore invite a Russian response where NATO would be obligated to respond. It is highly doubtful that the Obama administration would forcefully back any NATO action against their new friend in Syria, Iran, who would most likely get involved, and Vladimir Putin knows this.

Turkey acted very irresponsibly by shooting down the Russian aircraft in a most-likely premeditated manner. Turkey is becoming a Sunni theocracy that is slowly implementing Sharia law and supporting the Islamic State. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is turning into a dictator and his government does not share Western values.

The interesting question is whether NATO will be drawn into this conflict, which is highly likely to occur in some form in the near future. This is what happens when you have a complete lack of forceful American leadership around the world. The Obama administration should be publicly declaring what American interests are and what we are willing to do to protect them. Unfortunately, at the moment, American interests are taking a backseat to the underlying agendas of the Obama national security staff.

In another special aside, Hezbollah spokesman, Saudis Qasser, also claimed the Shiite militia was ready to confront the Israelis in the case another war breaks out between the two enemies. I’m sure Israel feels comforted by all of these developments.

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