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Sledgehammer: Turkey’s false flag attack kicks off NATO’s Syrian invasion

Published: June 25, 2012
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Turkish F16 Falcon
A decade ago the Islamist government of Turkey uncovered the now legendary ‘sledgehammer’ – or Balyoz in Turkish – false flag plot hatched by the Turkish High Command  to justify a coup d’état.

The plan called for a Turkish fighter plane to be shot down by friendly fire somewhere over the Aegean and the blame then shifted to the Greeks. It was a blatant attempt by the secular military establishment and their friends in the underground secret state to destabilize the freshly-installed ‘soft’ Islamic AK government before it had time to establish strong roots.

The same plan called for mosques to be bombed during Friday prayers. Military guard posts would be attacked by ’sharia dressed persons.’  As I explain in my new book about NATO Gladio secret armies (see below), elements of Sledgehammer bore a startling resemblance to the US supreme commander General Lyman Lemnitzer’s infamous Northwoods Plot to attack American navy ships and civil airliners and then blame Castro.

There is never anything that is entirely fresh or original in the false flag playbook.  So, the downing of a Turkish fighter operating in international air space – we understand by a Syrian missile – served as the excuse for Turkey to summon an immediate conclave of NATO chiefs.

As the Turkish daily Zaman observed in a somewhat under-stated editorial, the attack stoked tensions in the 16-month Syrian crisis to a new level ‘raising the possibility of further measures to internationalize the situation.’

‘Further measures’ sounds fairly soft and imprecise. In fact Turkey immediately invoked the famous all-for-one and one-for-all Article 5, which states that any attack on one member of the alliance is an attack all 27 members of the pact.

It seems incredible, yet the Turkish authorities apparently lifted the essential elements of the original Sledgehammer Plot as an excuse for a full-scale alliance intervention in Syria, even as the culprits named in the original indictments are still on trial in Turkey’s highest criminal court.

True, it appears – at this stage, at any rate – that a Syrian missile did bring down a Turkish warplane, instead of the friendly fire envisaged in the Sledgehammer Plot. But of course this scarcely matters now that the NATO war chiefs are getting ready to shoulder their holsters.

The affair provides the perfect false flag cover to justify a full-scale Libyan-style alliance ‘humanitarian intervention’ in order to get rid of yet another squalid Arab dictator who just happens to be sitting on lakes of oil.

Nor is it any coincidence at all that Sledgehammer Mark Two struck just three weeks after the annual Bilderberg conclave held at Chantilly, Virginia, close to Washington D.C.

Other parallels with the first Sledgehammer scheme are not hard to find, for example measures to destabilize the internal situation inside Turkey with attacks on mosques and army posts. Here an even closer fit is Operation Ajax in 1953, when the CIA and the UK’s MI6 combined forces to overthrow the Iranian government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh.

The ouster of Mossadegh was preceded by false flag violence staged by agents operating in the country during the build up to the royal coup by Shah Mohammad-Reza.

This dispute was provoked by imaginary claims that Mossadegh had nationalized the country’s oil industry – what is now British Petroleum – as part of some back door deal with the Russians.

Similarly, it is plainly obvious that western secret services have been actively stoking violence inside Syria which is then blamed on government forces. This of course is the usual warm-up act for a full scale intervention, as in Libya. But before any sort of intervention can be justified, there has to be a motive.

My impression is that Syria is a tougher nut in many ways than Libya. So, while contingency planners preparing for the intervention could deploy many familiar copy-cat measures – provoking internal strife and instability in general – it might require a larger force should Assad and his supporters decide to make a fight of it.

NATO, remember, did not put boots on the ground in Libya – except clandestine special forces. Similarly, they may not in Syria, at least at first; but they will wallop the country with a massive air assault and then leak ‘peace-keeping forces’ through the frontier with Turkey.

So everyone in the alliance is about to start singing from the same song sheet? Not quite, because Turkey is playing a game of a different order. To understand that it is necessary to understand the complex mind of the Turkish premier, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan is the living symbol of the modern Ottoman revival which is now under way in Turkey. Having cemented popular Islamist rule since the first AK victory in 2001, fixed the economy, routed the sulking secular establishment and defanged the whisky generals of the High Command, Erdogan’s main aim is pushing Turkey’s claims right across the Middle East.

Turkey’s moves on the Middle Eastern chess board are designed solely to advance Turkey’s interests so that she emerges as the chief powerbroker in the region.

Erdogan broke with Israel after the Gaza convoy incident in June 2010, so he is not afraid of acting as well as talking tough.  He enjoys something akin to rock star status, thanks to the teeming Islamic masses of the region that see him as a standard bearer of genuine democracy and the leader of a highly prosperous, modern state with a humming economy.

Erdogan has demonstrated on many occasions that he can be extremely devious. Take the cat and mouse game with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. One minute the Iranian leader is getting the red carpet treatment in Ankara, the next he is tossed out in the cold again.

The Gaza convoy raid was ruthlessly milked to justify the bust with Israel, Turkey’s chief rival in the region.

He plays cat-and-mouse with NATO as a matter of course. He kept Turkey away from the scrap in Libya, since he had no wish for his finger-prints on the still unfolding disaster there.  His menu a la carte attitude to alliance projects now extends to Syria, an old coping stone of the former Ottoman Empire which Turkey intends to dominate after the fall of Bashar al-Assad.

I am not sure if NATO strategists are fully on board with this but Turkey and specifically Erdogan – is rebuilding the old Ottoman dominion of the Middle East, steadily, patiently and above all cunningly, country-by-country until the picture is complete – and Israel finds herself encircled and thus compelled to come to terms.

Erdogan will freely sell Iran down the river when the time comes. He is undermining with every intention of destroying Nouri al-Maliki’s government in Iraq. That is why he is hosting al-Maliki’s chief rival, the refugee deposed vice president Tariq al-Hashemi.

Erdogan plans to break up Iraq by detaching the Kurdish north as part of his complex plot to establish a Kurdish home land and thus settle the long-lasting internal strife with Turkish Kurds.

This leaves the Shia bastion of Saudi Arabia – Mecca, the beating heart of the Islamic world.

The recent and one must say rather convenient expiry of the heir to the Saudi throne, Prince Nayef, who “died of ‘cardiac problems’ while at his brother’s residence in Geneva” according to AFP, has raised interesting issues of succession among the royal clique. Whether his successor, possibly his younger brother Prince Salman, has the intellectual scope to grasp the threat posed by Turkey, is not clear.

The Saudis belong with the Shia ranks of the Islamic divide, while Turkey is stoutly Sunni. This introduces another element of the game, that the deeply pious Erdogan regards Turkey as the natural religious as well as political and military power in the region.

Now you will begin to see what Sledgehammer Mark Two is all about.  I am fairly confident that collectively, NATO does not.

Erdogan hitchhikes with the alliance when it suits the interests of the New Ottomans, but only when it is to his benefit. He knows it would be extremely difficult for the US to sir up some popular rebellion in Turkey (as in the past) with any hopes of success. So to this extent he has out-witted all those gritted teeth in Washington.

On the other hand, NATO is desperately afraid that Erdogan might pull the plug on the alliance altogether. So every time he seems to come around to some common cause, they rush at him with a warm and clammy public embrace.

Just now Erdogan has served up the first course of his latest a la carte fraternization with NATO, in order to seize control of Syria.

That he fished into the pockets of bitter secular domestic rivals and made off with the Sledgehammer Plot is, I am afraid, entirely typical of a personality steeped in practicalities, not sentiments.

Erdogan has been getting treatment for undisclosed medical problems. I see a man in a hurry. I also see the sharpest, most incisive mind in the Middle East, and yet again, the collective clots of NATO blundering into another minefield where they can neither speak the language, still less understand the culture and the climate.

The New Ottomans do. It is their standing inheritance.

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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