It looks like the Free Syrian Army, so-called, is facing defeat and this is why Erdogan is so hysterical, that he’s got to do something before this dissolves completely on the ground.”Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has gone hysterical over the defeats inflicted on the insurgents in Syria, a political analyst tells Press TV. According to public surveys, only 5 to 10 percent of the Turkish people support their government’s policies towards Syria. This comes as tensions have been running high between Syria and Turkey, with Damascus accusing Turkey -- along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar -- of backing a deadly insurgency that has claimed the lives of many Syrians, including large numbers of security and army personnel. Press TV has conducted an interview with Dr. Webster Griffin Tarpley, an author and historian from Washington, to further discuss the issue. What follows is a rough transcription of the interview. Press TV: First of all, I’d like to have your first impression on Turkey’s move with this civilian aircraft. Tarpley: I guess Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey will not be happy if I have to quote a Greek tragedy, but the old saying is ‘whom the gods will destroy, they first drive mad’. Erdogan has climbed out very far on the limb. He was told by the United States, he was told repeatedly by Obama in their private telephone conversations that the Syrian government would collapse like a house of cards and he could then emerge as the hero of that regime change. It would be like Syria. It would be like Tunisia, Egypt and Syria, and, of course, that has not come true. Instead of having the good sense to cut his losses and pull back, Erdogan is doubling down. He’s doing double-or-nothing; ‘vabonk’, as we say. He’s now gotten himself into this really terrible fix which, of course, could be potentially tragic for the world.
The idea that you’re going to interfere with a Russian cargo on a Syrian commercial airliner is really outside of the normal realm, and it makes Erdogan look like an unstable, erratic, mercurial kind of leader and not at all what he wanted to be.Now, of course, he’s got a diplomatic row with Russia. The Russian foreign minister has called in the Turkish ambassador. They’ve demanded explanations. That’s a pretty tense scene going on there. It seems to me now, the great hope, there might be time for rational forces inside Turkey of which there are a lot… A majority, right?, 82 percent, according to one poll, don’t want this to go any further. They could restrain Erdogan, tell him to cool it, just drop it, chalk that up to experience. It’s a failure, but better a failure for Erdogan than a tragedy for Turkey. Press TV: Despite pressures from Turkey both inside and outside Syria, it’s nearly two years now that all sorts of pressure have been exerted on Syria and the government has almost remained intact. How much is this an indication that Assad’s government is somehow legitimate and has wide support from Syrians? Tarpley: They do. They certainly do have wide support. They’ve carried out a reform. They’ve done what the Soviet Communist Party did 20 years ago, what the Chinese Communist Party may soon do which is to write themselves out of permanent hold on power. The Ba’ath Party is no longer automatically the governing party. They’ve had a multi-party election. A modest beginning but an important step in the right direction.
Above all, the battlefield, militarily, the Assad government, it seems to me has now quelled this Free Syrian Army to a very significant degree. This is playing into the erratic instability of Erdogan.If you look at the rebels in Syria, the death squads, as I would call them, they’re about 300 different death squads operating there. Previously they were under the nominal leadership of Colonel Asaad of the Free Syrian Army. But even some of the Qatar television people are now telling us, the Free Syrian Army, the death squads have broken into three separate camps, one of them is run by a cleric who seems to be an obvious asset for Saudi Arabia. The Syrian National Council has broken up. The main people have quit it. You don’t seem to hear anything more about them although they’re probably living in hotels somewhere. The Free Syrian Army has now shattered itself. It seems to me that they’ve now lost the initiative. They can no longer take over neighborhoods. They cannot help to conquer Damascus or Aleppo. It looks like they’ve been driven out of the last neighborhoods in Aleppo. The Free Syrian Army is being mopped up between Aleppo and the Turkish border, so this is coming to an end. Now, they can always maintain low to medium guerrilla warfare. That I think they can do for quite a while longer. But in terms of a serious force that can occupy territory and hold it, they’ve tried in the middle of July to decapitate the government. That didn’t work. They had a bombing campaign towards the end of September. That didn’t work. It looks like the Free Syrian Army, so-called, is facing defeat and this is why Erdogan is so hysterical, that he’s got to do something before this dissolves completely on the ground. GMA/HJL