by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

There’s plenty of proof that the U.S. Government protects Al Qaeda in Syria. Right now, America is protecting Al Qaeda’s main center throughout the world, which is the province of Idlib in Syria. This protection is part of a bigger picture, no merely isolated phenomenon.

For example: the key point of difference between the Obama Administration in America and the Putin Administration in Russia, regarding the establishment of a cease-fire in the Syrian war, was that Obama refused to allow Al Qaeda in Syria to be bombed during the proposed ceasefire, but Putin insisted that both Al Qaeda in Syria and ISIS in Syria must continue to be bombed during the ceasefire. Obama was protecting Al Qaeda in Syria, but Putin insisted upon bombing Al Qaeda and not only ISIS during any ceasefire there. (See the proof at that link, and you will also understand why Obama was protecting Al Qaeda in Syria.)

Right now, the U.S. Government and some of its allies are threatening to go to war against Russia if Russia will bomb the world’s highest concentration of Al Qaeda terrorists. Those terrorists are located in the only province of Syria that has always preferred Al Qaeda and ISIS to the Government of Syria’s secular President, Bashar al-Assad. That’s Idlib province, which now is Al Qaeda central, like Afghanistan used to be before 9/11 (and for which the U.S. bombed Afghanistan right after 9/11).

A 30 July 2017 speech makes this clear. The speech wasn’t given by an opponent or critic of the U.S. Government, but by a high official of the U.S. Government who speaks for the President of the United States on Syria and who has been doing this not only under Trump, but under Obama. This official is the neoconservative and rabidly anti-Assad and anti-Iranian and pro-Saudi and pro-Israeli Brett McGurk, who is U.S. President Trump’s Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, at the U.S. Department of State. He publicly acknowledged that “Idlib province is the largest Al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11, tied directly to Ayman al-Zawahiri. … Leaders of Al Qaeda who make their way to Idlib province often do not make their way out of there.” He acknowledges there that Idlib is like the pre-9/11 Afghanistan was. McGurk, who consistently supports Sunni Saudi Arabia against Shiite Iran, blames Shiite Iran for Al Qaeda, and for everything that Al Qaeda does. He gives as his reason for blaming Iran, Iran’s having been insufficiently hostile toward Al Qaeda members. (One can say the same about any Muslim-majority nation, but especially regarding Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni-Muslim ones, particularly because Al Qaeda is itself an intensely Sunni organization, not at all Shiite.)

Likewise, the neoconservative scholar Kyle Orton wrote on 21 July 2017 (just days before that U.S. official, McGurk, spoke) saying that Al Qaeda threatens to apply terrorism against Iran if Iran goes too hard against Al Qaeda, and yet Orton also said that Iran is to blame for what Al Qaeda does.

In other words: Iran is in fear of Al Qaeda, and yet (according to Orton and the U.S. Government, including McGurk) Iran is responsible for Al Qaeda — that’s actually the official U.S. viewpoint, crazy though it sounds (and it can be understood only by understanding the broader picture).

The fact that Al Qaeda is totally a Sunni operation, and the fact that Al Qaeda believes that all Shia should be killed, are simply being ignored by U.S. officials. 9/11 is instead blamed on Shiites, though its perpetrators (other than Bush, Cheney and their friends) were almost entirely fundamentalist-Sunni Saudis, and none at all were Shiites, from anywhere.

Orton cites the Obama-Trump Administrations’ McGurk as providing support for his view that Iran needs to be conquered, and that, as the Trump Administration says and the Obama Administration had said, “Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world today.” Not Saudi Arabia, but Iran (which the Saud family have sworn to destroy). The U.S. Government blames Iran, regardless of the evidence, and blames it for everything bad in and from the Middle East. The U.S. Government know better, but lies.

Putin, Erdogan, and Rouhani, met in Tehran on September 7th to discuss the threat by Trump (from condemnation backed not only by Trump’s allies but by the ‘humanitarian’ agencies of the U.N.), the Trump Administration’s threat to go to war against Russia for ‘humanitarian’ reasons if Russia assists Assad’s effort to exterminate the jihadists in Idlib. Russia didn’t want World War III, and so this meeting in Tehran occurred. TIME magazine headlined on September 7th, “Presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran Meet to Plot Future of Syria Ahead of Battle for Last Rebel Stronghold” and reported that “Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a cease-fire and an end to airstrikes in the northwestern province of Idlib, something that wasn’t immediately accepted by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.”

No public announcement was made of what had been agreed-to at the conference. On September 9th, the Wall Street Journal reported that, “President Bashar al-Assad of Syria has approved the use of chlorine gas in an offensive against the country’s last major rebel stronghold, U.S. officials said.” So, the Trump Administration was continuing its planned false-flag operation to have its terrorists in Idlib unleash an Idlib chemical-weapons attack that’s been set up to be blamed against Assad as an excuse for the U.S. and its allies to launch WW III against Syria, Iran, and Russia in order ‘to protect civilians’ in Idlib.

On September 10th, I headlined “Prelude to World War III” and argued why, “Unless Syria will simply hand its most heavily pro-jihadist province, Idlib, to adjoining Turkey, which claims to have 30,000 troops there and is planning to add 20,000 more, World War III will probably happen soon.” I argued there that:

The way for the plan to avert that outcome to be carried out would be:

Assad and Putin both will announce that due to the complaints from the U.S. Government and from the United Nations and from the Turkish Government, Syria will give up Idlib province, and will construct on the border between it and the adjoining areas of Syria, a DMZ or De-Militarized Zone, so that not only will the residents in Idlib be safe from any attack by Syria and its allies (such as America and its allies have been demanding), but Syrians — in all the others of Syria’s provinces — will likewise be safe against any continued attacks by the jihadists that have concentrated themselves in Idlib.

This way, Turkey’s President Erdogan can safely keep his 50,000 troops in Idlib if he wishes; America’s President Trump can claim victory in Syria and finally fulfill his long-promised intention to end the U.S. occupation of (most of the jihadist-controlled) parts of Syria (which they’ve occupied), and maybe WW III can be avoided, or, at least, postponed, maybe even so that people living today won’t be dying-off from WW III and its after-effects.

Also on September 10th, Erdogan headlined a WSJ op-ed, “The World Must Stop Assad: If the Syrian regime attacks Idlib, the result will be a humanitarian and geopolitical disaster.” He argued from Trump’s standpoint. Erdogan now had 50,000 Turkish troops in Idlib. And yet, Russia had already begun a very limited bombing campaign in Idlib. But Turkey’s troops weren’t being hit. Nor were the jihadists being hit that were in place awaiting their camp to be bombed and that had set up the chemical weapons to go off there and so to serve as Trump’s excuse for WW III to begin in Syria.

It was now several days after the September 7th meeting, and yet Trump’s plan for WW III still couldn’t yet be exercised; the excuse for it was still not present. For some reason, a limited cease-fire appears to have been occurring in Idlib.

Evidently, Erdogan had persuaded Putin (if he even really needed persuading — given Trump’s threat, Putin himself might have come up with this plan) that Turkey was going to assume responsibility for Idlib. Russia’s minor bombings in Idlib were just for show, so as not publicly to reveal that Erdogan’s proposal (if it originated with him, instead of with Putin) had won out at the September 7th meeting. If that plan had been publicly first espoused by Putin, then the U.S. side would far more likely have condemned it; but, coming from NATO member Turkey, the U.S. side would be able to present implementation of “Turkey’s position” as being ‘a win for The West’.

But what was the September 7th agreement that was reached in Tehran, really? What was the plan that Putin, Rouhani, and Erdogan, agreed-to?

Clearly, Assad was opposed to it — at least in public. My argument that it would help him and Syria was not publicly shared by him, at all. Whatever the Tehran plan was, with 50,000 Turkish troops now in Idlib, Syria might now, indeed, ultimately have to cede Idlib (the world’s highest-intensity jihadist center) to Turkey.

On September 11th, Peter Korzun at the Strategic Culture Foundation (which favors Russia and its allies, including Syria), argued

Syria needs Idlib — the last stronghold of the jihadists and the shortest route from Latakia to Aleppo. The M5 international highway crosses Idlib, linking Turkey and Jordan through Aleppo and Damascus. Control of the province would greatly facilitate the negotiations with the Kurds and strengthen Syria’s position at the UN-brokered Geneva talks. If the negotiation process succeeds, the only territories left to liberate would be the zone controlled by the US, such as the al-Tanf military base and the surrounding area, the northern parts of the country under Turkish control, and small chunks of land still held by ISIS.

On that same day, SyriaNews.cc (another pro-Syrian site) poured forth venomously against Erdogan for his statements. Linking to this, that commentator said:

objecting to a major operation there because it would likely cause a major exodus of refugees across the border, with extremists potentially sneaking in with refugees.”

Double whammy to have you keeled over with laughter…or should that be tears.

Concerns for refugees??!! Erdogan steals their organs. Refugee camps in Turkey became harvesting centers for it. 

The U.S. alliance is, indeed, now referring to not only Al Qaeda in Idlib but also ISIS in Idlib as being ‘rebels’ and ‘refugees’; and Erdogan does, too. That’s the U.S. side’s propaganda. That SyriaNews commentator was correct to be appalled at it. Erdogan and the U.S. side are accurately represented there. But this does not necessarily mean that Russia and its allies (especially Syria) cannot win with this strategy that’s being condemned by Assad, and by Strategic Culture Foundation, and by Syria News. If that strategy turns out to be the one that I proposed on September 10th, I think that they will win with it. Certainly, for Syria to retain Idlib would be horrible both for Syria and for Assad (who has always been loathed by the residents there, who see him as being either a Shiite or an atheist).

And Erdogan is in both camps — America’s and Russia’s — and playing each side against the other, for what he wants. But he could turn out to be the biggest loser from ‘his’ success here.

If he exterminates Idlib’s jihadists, then the U.S. side will condemn him for it. But if he instead frees those jihadists to return to their home-countries, then both sides will condemn him for having done so.

The biggest apparent ‘winner’ from all this, Erdogan, could thus turn out to be the biggest real loser from it. And the biggest apparent ‘loser’ from it, Assad, could turn out to be the biggest real winner from it.

NEWS UPDATE: On Friday, September 14th, Turkey’s Yeni Safak newspaper bannered “Idlib locals flee to Turkish-controlled areas for safety”, and reported that, “The locals of Syria’s Idlib have started to flee as fears of a looming offensive by the Assad regime and his allies grip the province.” They also headlined “Turkey deploys more armored vehicles to Syrian border”, and reported that, “More military reinforcements including tanks, according to reports from the ground arrived at the Syrian border in Turkey’s southern Hatay province.” These reports are consistent with the plan’s being for Turkey to segregate-out the active jihadists in Idlib so as for Russia and Syria to slaughter those. Another headline there was from Reuters, “Turkey’s Erdoğan, Russia’s Putin to meet in Sochi on Monday”, and this suggests that there is extremely close coordination between Putin and Erdogan on the plan as it proceeds forward. Russian intelligence knows where the al Qaeda and U.S. chemical weapons are located. Presumably, the goal is to kill all the other jihadists first, and then to leave till the end the killing of the ones who are operating the Al Qaeda and U.S. false-flag event. Idlib will remain in Syria. Erdogan doesn’t want it.
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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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