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Gulf Of Tonkin Redux? Prelude To Waging War On Syria? – OpEd


By Stephen Lendman

Lyndon Johnson wanted war on Vietnam and got it. The August 1964 false flag Gulf of Tonkin incident initiated full-scale conflict after Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

War was authorized without declaring it.

It’s an American tradition. Big lies launch wars. Manufactured pretexts initiate them. Mass killing and destruction follow.

One nation after another is ravaged. Syria’s next, then Iran. Expect other states on Washington’s hit list to follow.

On June 22, two Turkish warplanes provocatively entered Syrian airspace low and fast. Perhaps they were testing its defense systems or probing for other reactions.

Doing so showed hostile intent. It wanted a response and got it.

Ankara’s directly involved in Washington’s war on Syria. It’s arming insurgents. It provides safe havens.

On June 23, Syria’s SANA state media headlined “Military Spokesman: Anti-Air Defenses Intercepted a Target That Violated Syrian Airspace Over Territorial Waters, Shot It Down West of Lattakia,” saying, “At 11:40 AM on 22/6/2012, an unidentified aerial target violated Syrian airspace, coming from the west at a very low altitude and at high speed over territorial waters, so the Syrian anti-air defenses counteracted with anti-aircraft artillery, hitting it directly as it was 1 kilometer away from land, causing it to crash into Syrian territorial waters west of Om al-Tuyour village in Lattakia province, 10 kilometers from the beach.”

Syria’s military spokesman also said naval forces from both countries were “searching for the two missing pilots.”

On June 23, Turkey’s Today’s Zaman headlined “Turkey says Syria down(ed) its air force jet,” saying, the incident will “likely….worsen already strained relations between” both countries.

After a two hour security meeting, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed Syrian forces for downing its aircraft. An official statement said, “Following the evaluation of data provided by our related institutions and the findings of the joint search and rescue efforts with Syria, it is understood that our plane was downed by Syria.”

Turkey “will determinedly take necessary steps” in response. No further details were given.

Ankara said it wouldn’t “tolerate any action that it deemed violating its security.”

Turkish TV reports said two military aircraft were on a reconnaissance mission.

In fact, Ankara acted provocatively. Likely it was at the behest of Washington. Turkey is a NATO member. It can invoke NATO Charter Articles 4 or 5.

Article 4 calls for members to “consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence, or security of any” is threatened.

Article 5 considers an armed attack (real or otherwise) against one or more members, an attack against all, and calls for collective self-defense.

On June 23, Reuters headlined “Turkey warns it would respond decisively to Syria downing it aircraft,” saying, Erdogan’s “initial comments and subsequent statement (were) measured in tone. He said Turkish and Syrian forces were working together to search for the two missing crew of the aircraft.”

Turkish media also said Syria has apologized for the incident.

“Turkish state television interviewed witnesses on the country’s Mediterranean coast, near the Syrian border, who said they saw two low-flying fighter jets pass overhead in the morning in the direction of Syrian waters but only one return.”

Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said, “There was no aggression.” Damascus confirmed “an unidentified target flying at very low range when it violated Syrian airspace.” He added that both sides were searching for missing crew members.

The New York Times said an official Turkish statement hadn’t “yet concluded that the Syrian action was provocative, and it acknowledged that Syrian rescue teams were cooperating in trying to locate the aircraft and crew.”

“But the statement also left open the possibility that Turkey, a NATO member, would respond militarily, an outcome that could further complicate and widen the Syrian conflict.”

Washington has longstanding regime change plans. In early 2011, it orchestrated Western-generated violence.

It wants Assad replaced by a subservient puppet leader. If events on the ground don’t succeed, expect war to follow.

Obama and Erdogan likely staged Friday’s incident. Whether it’s a pretext for full-scale intervention remains unknown.

Events on the ground keep escalating dangerously. Anything may erupt anytime. Provocations are easy to stage.

Friday’s incident may indeed become a casus belli for full-scale intervention. If not, perhaps something greater is planned to let Obama ravage another country. What better way to silence his Republican critics who call him soft on Assad.

Interviewed on TRT Haber television, Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu claimed Turkish aircraft briefly entered Syrian airspace “but not during the time it was shot down.”

“During the entire operation conducted by the downed jet, Syria made no attempt to contact Turkish authorities by any means.”

“We will, without any hesitation, decisively take the necessary steps regarding the Turkish plane downed by Syria. No country can show the courage to test Turkey’s patience.”

On June 24, Turkey’s Hurriyet daily said “wreckage of a Turkish jet shot down by Syria (was found) in Syrian waters….Turkish news channels reported (it) on Sunday, without citing a source.”

On June 24, Reuters headlined the truth in a two paragraph report, saying:

“Wreckage of downed Turkish jet found in Syrian waters: TV.”
“Search teams have located the wreckage of a Turkish fighter jet shot down by Syria on Friday in Syrian waters at a depth of 1,300 meters, Turkish news channels reported on Sunday, without citing a source.”

Mossad-connected DEBKAfile (DF) featured the same information, saying:

“Turkish TV: downed plane wreckage found in Syrian waters.”

Haaretz and UK-based ITV News also reported what The New York Times, Washington Post, and most other Western media sources buried. So did CNN saying:

“Turkish search-and-rescue teams found the wreckage of the fighter jet in the Mediterranean Sea on Sunday, about 1,300 meters (4,260 feet) underwater….”

Omitted was saying the aircraft was found in Syrian waters. Other major US media also suppressed what most needs explaining.

Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said Turkish planes flew at an altitude of 100 meters. Anti-aircraft fire, nor radar-guided missiles, downed one. Unauthorized entering Syria’s airspace “clear(ly) breach(es its) sovereignty.”

He added that Damascus seeks friendly relations with Ankara. It’ll respond in kind to any positive overtures.

On June 24, the UK government controlled BBC sent mixed messages. On the one hand, it reported high-level British and US condemnations.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague called Syria’s act “outrageous.” He stressed “how far beyond accepted behavior the Syrian regime has put itself.”

Hillary Clinton “condemn(ed) this brazen and unacceptable act….It is yet another reflection of the Syrian authorities’ callous disregard for international norms, human life, and peace and security.”

Ten paragraphs into its online report, BBC also said, “The Turkish foreign ministry said it knew the coordinates of the jet, which was in Syrian territorial waters at a depth of 1,300m (4,265ft)…”

At the same time, it quoted Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu saying, “According to our conclusions, our plane was shot down in international airspace, 13 nautical miles (24km) from Syria.”

Territorial waters extend 12 nautical miles from coastlines.

Downed aircraft, at depths of 4,265 feet at the bottom of the Mediterranean, don’t move on their own one nautical mile (6,076 feet) in a matter of hours.

BBC highlighted his comments. It noted the truth on three lines buried well into a detailed report. It featured misinformation, not truth and full disclosure.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said its aircraft may have violated Syrian airspace. Doing so isn’t unusual for short distances at high speed, he added.

“It is routine for jet fighters to sometimes fly in and out over (other) borders….when you consider their speed over the sea,” he claimed.

“These are not ill-intentioned things but happen beyond control due to the jets’ speed.”

Unexplained was that it’s one thing for peaceful neighbors occasionally to violate each other’s airspace without authorization.

No harm, no foul.

It’s quite another given months of intense violence in Syria and Turkey’s direct role.

Moreover, violating another country’s airspace by trying to avoid its defensive capabilities at low altitude shows clear hostile intent.

Damascus has every right to consider these type actions aggressive and threatening. Turkey would react the same way. So would Washington, key NATO partners and Israel.

A virtual state of war exists in Syria short of officially declaring it. These type incidents can easily be used as pretexts for full-blown conflict. It remains to be seen if Washington has that in mind.

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