Ankara seeks further dominance in Middle East: Eric Draitser

Press TV has conducted an interview with Eric Draitser, the founder of stopimperialism.com from New York City. Draitser is joined by Sharif Nashashibi, the chairman of the Arab Media Watch from London. The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: Mr. Draitser, Ankara has accused Damascus of being behind the bombings and Damascus has denied the charges. What would Syria gain by bombing its neighbor and possibly opening up another front in this fight?

Draitser: Absolutely nothing, which is the primary reason why we should be incredibly skeptical of the assertions that Damascus was involved in these bombings in Turkey. The Assad government gains nothing from this. If anything, it forces them onto their defenses; it forces them to distance themselves from this and to attempt to absolve themselves of whatever has happened.

But, again the story here, I think is not even just so much the fact that the Turkish government is accusing Damascus, it is that the Turkish government refuses to acknowledge its role in creating this situation in the first place.

The previous speaker [Mr. Nashashibi] mentioned the refugees being hosted on the Turkish side of the border with Syria and that is true, but we should not forget, we should not leave out of the narrative the fact that Turkey also hosted many-many of the terrorists, which have streamed into Syria.

Let’s not forget the Reuters report from almost a year ago about the terrorist training camp near Adana (a southern Turkish city), which is right adjacent to the NATO military base at Incirlik (eight kilometers east of Adana).

So, there is a direct connection between the role that [Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and [Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet] Davutoglu have played in fomenting the conflict in Syria and these latest bombings. So, the assertion that Damascus was responsible is I think ludicrous.

Press TV: What about that Mr. Draitser? Do you see that that could be a possible motive, is it a possibility that the Syrian government has actually benefitted from this bombing?

Draitser: This is an illogical position in my estimation because if Damascus wanted to foment conflict in Turkey, they would unleash their Kurdish population to rouse up the Kurdish very sizeable minority inside of Turkey and rip that country apart.

Syria could unleash many more horrors upon Turkey if it wanted to; other than isolated bombings.

So, what we are seeing is instead of, I think, following the facts and trying to determine a conclusion based on those facts, rather we are seeing people from all sides of this conflict attempting to essentially make the narrative fit the facts. And that is, I think, a real distortion. Again, you should remember that Turkey is involved in this strategy against Syria in its own self interests.

Remember that Davutoglu is a champion of the smart power theory of foreign relations that is to say engaging in destabilization efforts in the region in order to further perpetuate Turkish dominance.

In many ways the Davutoglu and Erdogan faction sees Turkey as a potential imperial power. If you look at the [mode] of which they use, talking about the Turkic communities all throughout – stretching the way to China, the Turks have a very real belief, or at least there is a segment of the ruling class in Turkey, that has the very real belief that Turkey needs to be the new Ottoman empire, that it needs to reassert its authority in the region.

This is certainly not the Turkey of 30, 40, 50 years ago and that is the fundamental reason why people are calling for Erdogan and Davutoglu’s resignations because they are bringing Turkey back decades from the progress that they had made.

Press TV: Well what about that Mr. Draitser? How do you see it in general? Why, in your perspective, Ankara has chosen to get involved in the way it has in the Syrian situation?

Draitser: Well Erdogan sees himself as being very closely allied to the United States. Erdogan has made note on multiple occasions of his warm and cozy relationship with [US President] Barack Obama and the Obama administration. And in many ways I think that Erdogan and Davutoglu have been kind of pushed in this direction or prodded with… Who knows what sorts of promises have been made?

As the previous speaker [Mr. Nashashibi] mentioned, we should try to shy away from speculation as much as possible. But, I think that it is reasonable to assert that Turkey sees self interests in all of this. That Turkey believes that it can further its own political and geopolitical agenda by getting involved in this and I have to say that the notion that Turkey only became involved in the Syrian conflict because of its own defense reasons is totally absurd.

Turkey played a fundamental central role in the importation of foreign Jihadists into Syria, not only did they host them inside of the country they provided them safe passage in and out of the country. They have also worked with Qatar, with Saudi Arabia, with others in the region to make sure that weapons got into the hands of these brutal terrorists.

Remember that, for instance, that the al-Nusra Front is merely the Syrian incarnation of al-Qaeda in Iraq. That is an example of how the infiltration has happened and how that infiltration has impacted with what happened on the ground in Syria.

Now, al-Nusra comes from Iraq, but there are many other factions which come through Turkey. Not the least of which is the Free Syrian Army, which we have seen implicated in many-many war crimes.

Remember there have been at least three or four or five documented war crimes that have happened in Syria in the last, say, month; all of those crimes committed by Israel or by Turkey or by terrorists who are proxies of those entities. So, to say that somehow Turkey is only involved for defensive reasons, I think again, it is a distortion of reality.

Press TV: What about that Mr. Draitser? Our guest, Mr. Nashashibi has said that crimes have taken place on both sides and of course I am sure that they have, but have we seen anything like the type of crimes that we are seeing coming out of these extremists elements that we have very-very barbaric type of situations that it is almost as if the world has not seen before.

So, how likely is that type of element to actually backfire on secular Turkey?

Draitser: Well let me get to that in a second, but I am obligated to respond to what the gentleman has just mentioned.

This is the standard tactic of those who aren’t quite sure how to be apologists for the terrorist elements in the country.

Please remember that what you are essentially doing is equating the two sides in this conflict. You are saying that the Assad government on the one hand and the rebels on the other hand – both of them have committed atrocities.

Okay fine, please point to me where you have shown the evidence of the Assad government using chemical weapons because I can certainly show you the UN report of the rebels using chemical weapons.

Please show me a report of where the Iranian arms, that are supposedly being funneled into Syria, come anywhere near to the extent of the Qatari, Saudi Arabian, US, Israeli, Turkish arms flooding into that country.

To equate the two sides of this conflict, I am sorry this is 100 percent unadulterated propaganda and the fact that you are trying to do that, I think, really weakens your own position because you are correct to point out that there have been atrocities committed on all sides of this conflict, which is why I would advocate the position of peace the whole way.

That is everybody get their hands off of Syria, not just one side or the other side; allow the Syrians to determine the course of their own destiny and stop meddling in their affairs.

Please remember that to meddle in the affairs of a sovereign state, such as Syria, is a gross violation of international law, it is a violation of the UN charter and it is outrageous that anybody could try to legitimize this type of action.

Now, in response to the question, yes absolutely, the Turks are inviting their own destruction. If you see a failed state in Syria, it will not be long before that conflict is completely engulfed in Turkey. The Kurdish minority in that country will be riled up, the faction that has been opposed to the Davutoglu-Erdogan alliance will be emboldened and that country will be torn apart and whatever secular nature has been developed in that country will bode the way of the historical dustbin.

Press TV: Go ahead Mr. Draitser [in response to Mr. Nashashibi’s comments].

Draitser: That is false. What you are doing is you are not only attacking me with falsehoods, but you are distorting the issue here.

I am not defending the Assad regime. I am defending the right of Syrian people to determine their own future.

Nashashibi: Really?!

Draitser: Absolutely. What you are suggesting is that the ‘so called’ revolution in Syria is entirely peaceful; that this was not fomented from the outside beginning in 2011.

More to the point, if you want a ‘so called’ revolution in Syria to topple the Assad regime, then allow it to happen in the way that it is happening in Bahrain, the way that it happened in Yemen, the way that it is happening in other countries.

Rather, the imperialist powers have decided that Syria is a strategic and fundamental part of their geopolitical strategy and it is a prelude to an imperialist war against Iran.

And if you are going to deny that and if you are going to deny the facts on the ground, and that is your prerogative, but that makes you a propagandist for imperialism, not an objective observer.

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