Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Coming Turkish/Syrian War?

The Turks have alleged that Syrian air defense shot down a Turkish military jet that had "accidentally" strayed into Syrian air space. If the reports are correct, then the Turkish warplane may have been fair game, although it was supposedly downed when outside Syrian air space. The incident however has the potential to be a catalyst that will further ignite the region and there is some peril for the Western world here.

Turkey, a NATO member, has been making some threatening moves after the incident including moving more troops to the border. They are also consulting with their NATO partners. This could prove to be dangerous in more ways than one.

Turkey may well be on the way to some sort of Islamist state as could Syria. Syria is somewhat dangerous to the Western world as the Assad regime is reported to be a sponser of various terror groups. Syrian involvement in Lebanon and her military forces facing the Golan do pose a danger to Israel and by extension the West, which will likely not let Israel fall. The real danger at this time has little to do with the Muslim/Jewish conflict however. The real danger is that this brewing conflict could bring more important powers into the mix.

Syria and Russia (along with China) have a relationship that involve arms sales and a warm water port for Russian warships. Russian naval projetion has long been blocked by the Turks and therefore the Muslim nation has been useful to the Western world. (With Russia now weaker and hated by others in the Black Sea region it more important to the Bear to have access to a friendly Med base).  Russia fears Turkey and for good reason. She has control of the straits and has a competent and rather powerful military force and the Turkish fighting man has a fierce reputation.  Turkey is perhaps not fully capable of any long term adventure on her own but fully capable of defending herself.  She is also (at this time) a member of the NATO alliance.

Does the (possible? probable?) upcoming Turkish/Syrian conflict have the potential to spin out of control and involve NATO and Russia in showdown? Perhaps, but not very likely. Russia is weak and likely does not have the stomach for any conflict outside her borders. There is no reason to anyhow. She can bide her time and wait for Turkey to become an aggressive Islamist state (which will happen at some point) and then "partner" with the West to threaten at least the European portion of Turkey and blunt Turkish ambitions in the region. It is telling that Russians still refer to Istanbul as Constantinople (read Sea Power of the State by Adm. Gorshkov).

Syria's other partners, China and Iran, have no means of projecting power in the region and it is likely that China would not find any advantage to offering Syria any real tangible military aid and Iran, as unpredictable as she might be, would invite the wrath of NATO (and perhaps her destruction) should she try to offer any real military assistance.

The potential upcoming conflict between these Mohammedan nations will be watched carefully by all concerned parties but it is nothing for anyone else to become involved with. Turkey would likely make rather short work of Syria with the aftermath something to be dealt with at a later date. Either way Syria, and likely Turkey (along with Egypt and Yemen) are heading down an Islamist path and then the long term geopolitical danger will become apparent.

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