Phantom missiles in Aegean skies part II: did Israel shoot down a Turkish jet to kick start Syrian invasion?
By Richard Cottrell
Contributing writer for End the Lie
A cryptic remark by an unnamed US State Department official made on Wednesday may well supply a clue hinting that an Israeli jet was in close proximity when a Turkish Phantom reconnaissance plane was shot down either over or close to Syrian sovereign airspace on June 22nd.
Cited in the Wall Street Journal, the official described as ‘senior’ explained that the “US government has information about circumstances concerning the jet incident but is not planning to make them public.”
The early reports indeed spoke of a second plane in the vicinity, with the assumption that it also belonged to the Turkish Air Force, probably to escort the doomed jet on a reconnaissance mission.
The Turkish military came up with a rather unbelievable story that the unarmed Phantom was sent up to test radar defenses, as though the military had some practical doubts if the high-tech equipment was in working order.
Another US spokesman told the Turkish daily Hürriyet on condition of anonymity, “Whether the jet was shot over Syrian territory or over international waters, or what it was shot with, what difference does it make? What matters to us is that it was downed.”
The phraseology is important. Instead of lashing out at the wicked Syrians, as one might expect in the circumstances, it seems that Washington is not prepared to pin the blame on the Assad regime.
Even more significantly, we learn that the US knows exactly who shot down the Turkish aircraft but does not intend to name any embarrassing names.
Rather incredibly the same anonymous official ventured to ask why “a top Turkish official” like Premier Recep Tayyip Erdoğan “felt the need” to speak on the matter.
Well, being prime minister of Turkey one would expect he might have something to say on the subject.
This language from the lips of an obviously well-briefed US “official” is even more curious:
“Turkey thought the louder its statements were, the more believable they would be. I guess that was why the prime minister made those statements. It’s like an American shouting to someone who doesn’t speak English. We, however, will not say anything on the matter.”
The same talkative official trotted out the standard line that Turkey and the US are “90 percent” on the same track on how to respond to the Syrian crisis. Then comes the cracker: they differed in that Turkey was more “interventionist.”
This is vintage reading-between-the-lines Kremlinology stuff. We are supposed to believe that Erdoğan and company are frantically tugging at the leash to get at Assad’s throat while Uncle Sam quietly ponders the options. We are also told that the US is not alone in its stance, reminding us that “other NATO states are also against an intervention in Syria.”
What is behind the undiplomatic shouting in which the Turks are supposed to be indulging? It is certainly the case that in the wake of the incident, the Turkish authorities urged their fellow partners in the NATO alliance to invoke the joint defiance and retaliation clause against Syria. The alliance responded by sitting on the fence.
I have previously referred to the probable significance of the Sledgehammer Plot of 2003, hatched by the Turkish High Command, which called for a Turkish military jet to be shot down by friendly fire in order to drag the recently-elected soft Islamist Justice and Development (AK) Party into a crisis with Turkey’s old adversary, Greece.
Does the United States government, which was privy via the CIA to every nut and bolt of that plot, now believe that Sledgehammer is back in a new guise, this time to fast forward a Grand Slam on Syria?
Here is a little more intriguing history concerning Sledgehammer: nine years ago, Turkey was still aligned in friendly relations with Israel. The Turkish High Command shared with Israel a common abhorrence of the Islamist regime freshly come to power in Ankara. Sledgehammer was born from a shared desire to bring down the Islamists before their “revolution” had time to plant roots and change the nature of Turkish society permanently (which is more or less exactly what has happened in the interval).
In the circumstances having the finger of someone else on the trigger suited the High Command perfectly. Israeli jets – at that time permitted to freely roam Turkish skies – would be perfectly suited to shoot down the fighter in a classic variation of the old false flag ruse.
This time around, Turkey and Israel are politically divorced after the Israeli commando attack on the Gaza aid convoy in the summer of 2010, in which nine Turkish citizens died. But as in 2003, the repeat scenario of the Sledgehammer scenario is clearly visible, down to the civilian power and the military again on opposing tracks.
The possibilities are as follows:
Turkey shoots down its own jet with friendly fire, to provoke a scrap with Syria, as US diplomats appear to be suggesting when the language is decoded.
Or, Israel attacks and downs the jet for identical reasons.
John Le Carre would be proud of this one.
Let’s revert to the ballistics. The military is sticking firmly to their earlier assertion that the plane was not hit by anti-aircraft fire. Officials at Air Force Command also insist that the fact that the plane was shattered into eight chunks supplies the necessary proof that it was destroyed by “a close explosion.” The military refuse to envision any kind of radar-guided missile and clearly they do not embrace either the Syrian missile or ground battery explanation advanced by Erdoğan.
The wreckage is lying on the seabed a kilometer below the surface. Further examination is hampered by the departure from the scene of the specialist sea reconnaissance vessel Nautilus which by coincidence is currently berthed in Turkey’s Aegean port of Bodrum. She is said to have suffered a breakdown of her vital underwater cameras.
Nautilus is skippered by an ex-US Navy officer turned famous marine archaeologist Dr. Robert Ballard. Did he advance his own maritime version of Not Tonight Josephine and leave the scene of his own option – sensing the risk of Nautilus getting involved in a serious political shipwreck – or was he privately advised by the usual suspects to sail quietly away?
The latest communiqué from Air Force Command firmly reiterates its conviction that the Phantom was not shot down with a radar-guided missile. “So it is normal that there is no radar record [of a missile attack],” a senior commander blandly informed the Sabah daily.
The High Command appears certain that there are no holes consistent with a ground barrage apparent in the sunken fuselage. The latest explanation of a massive blast close to the plane, sufficient to smash it to pieces in micro-seconds, in fact points precisely to an air-fired heat-seeking missile designed to explode close to the intended target without specifically striking it. Since it was not fired from the ground it would not show up on radar.
Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç seems to lean in this direction by stating that the plane “seems to have been hit by a missile – or another device similar to a missile.”
Retrospectively, Arınç may well be seen as having given the game away. The Turkish government obviously cannot rule out Israel as the sharpshooter, but is not in a position, given the tense relations between the two parties, to point the finger at the High Command.
This is almost certainly an action replay of Sledgehammer. After all it is commandingly obvious that it is Israel, and not Turkey, that earnestly desires the war to end all wars designed to ensconce Israel in a position of final security in the Middle East. Looked at in this light, the sooner things get going in Syria, the better.
The Turkish High Command always opposed the breach with its old ally and co-Sledgehammer plotter, Israel.
It would be perfectly simple to dispatch a decoy jet into dangerous airspace near Syria in order to attract an attack seemingly from the Syrian authorities, which then served to pitch NATO into an earlier-than-expected assault on Syria.
This is the explanation for the coded diplomatic emissions from Washington. The US knows or suspects the Turkish military acted provocatively in cloaked alliance with the Israelis. The Israelis would get their war. The High Command embroils the Islamists in a no-win situation on the wrong side of the fence with the Americans. Now we have a reason for the curious language emanating out of Washington.
As I explained in my previous post, the US-led NATO coalition is not yet ready to smite Syria. There are still pockets of doubt within the alliance. Agents provocateur planted in Syria still have much work to do to justify a full scale “humanitarian” intervention.
At the same time the US needs to maintain cordial relations with the Turkish High Command, against the day when the insufferable Erdoğan and his friends can be pushed aside. This is yet another reason that Washington intends to maintain radio silence.
It remains to explain the stubborn attachment of the Turkish government to provocative action by the Syrians.
There are two plausible explanations: one is that it would be embarrassing for Erdoğan to tacitly admit that for all his crackdowns on the High Command, they were in cahoots with the Israelis right under his nose to drag the country into an early war in Syria.
The second is that he intends to allow the situation to deteriorate so that when the time is ripe, he can order a new round of arrests to pull the military’s remaining teeth once and for all.
One can see no other reason why the US tiptoes through the minefield.
Richard Cottrell is a writer, journalist and former European MP (Conservative). His new book Gladio: NATO’s Dagger At The Heart Of Europe is now available from Progressive Press. You may order it using the link below (or by clicking here – Gladio, NATO’s Dagger at the Heart of Europe: The Pentagon-Nazi-Mafia Terror Axis):
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Edited by Madison Ruppert