by Dr. Jack Wheeler
April 2, 2016
You may want to secure an adult beverage because this is going to get engrossing. An intriguing connection between Vladimir Putin and Indiana Jones arose this week.
We first go to Palmyra – the 3,000 year-old World Heritage Site in eastern Syria seized by ISIS a year ago, which the deranged jihadists proceeded to destroy because it was heathen.
It was recaptured this week by Bashar al-Assad’s government forces enabled by Russian fighters bombing the blazes out of entrenched ISIS crazies. The London Daily Mail has a terrific photo essay on what Palmyra looks like now – fortunately more intact than expected.
Now that he’s consolidated Assad’s rule, what’s Putin’s next target? Something called The Azaz Corridor.
That’s the encircled “safe zone” between the two Kurdish-held areas of Kobane and Afrin on the Syria-Turkey border. “Safe” for whom? ISIS. The corridor is how Turkey’s Islamist leader Recip Erdogan provides protection, supplies, weapons, and medical aid to ISIS, and how ISIS transports its oil to Turkey.
ISIS could not exist without Erdogan’s sponsorship, which is made possible via the Azaz Corridor. Erdogan has threatened all out war and military invasion of Syria should Assad make any attempt to shut the corridor down. Putin is sick and tired of this, hates Erdogan’s guts, and will soon call Erdogan’s bluff by seizing the Azaz Corridor.
And he’ll do it not with Assad’s forces, but with the Kurds – giving the Kurds control of the Syria-Turkey border all the way from Aleppo (a predominately Kurdish city) to Iraq (where Turkey, Syria, and Iraq come together). Without their sanctuary in Turkey, ISIS will be closed off from the world. Assad’s forces will proceed to take the ISIS capital of Raqqa and wipe ISIS out.
Yet Putin knows he can’t stop there. He can’t leave Erdogan free to strike back. He’s got to keep on the offensive. Which brings us to Incirlik. That’s the Incirlik Air Base with the fighter jet icon in the top left corner of the map.
It is a US military installation, and on Tuesday (3/29), the Pentagon announced the evacuation of all families and dependents from it.
Why? That gets us to Indiana Jones.
In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Jones’ and his father’s (played by Sean Connery) search for the Holy Grail takes them to the city of “Alexandretta”, capital of “the Republic of Hatay.” Alexandretta is a real place, founded by Alexander the Great in 333 BC, now renamed Iskenderun (Iskendar is the Turkish rendering of Alexander). And there was an actual Republic of Hatay, of which Alexandretta was the capital, during the time in which the Indiana Jones movie was set: 1938.
I told the story in Indiana Jones and the Alawite Apostasy back in August 2007. The story of how Turkey stole Hatay from Syria and made it into a Turkish province.
To this day, Syria has never renounced its claim on Hatay. You can see why – it cuts off northern Syria’s access to the Med. Now we get to the nub. The population of Hatay is 1.5 million – and well over half of them are Kurds. Iskenderun is predominately a Kurdish city today.
You can see the dots. Putin has brokered a deal between Assad and the Kurds. With all the help Putin can muster, the Kurds seize the Azaz Corridor, enabling Assad to seize Raqqa, then all together with their Russian godfather, start a campaign to destabilize and eventually take Hatay back for Syria.
Kurdish Syria would be given considerable autonomy – and Iskenderun would be its provincial capital. The Turkish people in response would sweep Erdogan away.
Oh, and with ISIS defeated and Syria consolidated and stable, all those Syrian welfare migrants to Europe can now return. All the EU needs to do as a demonstration of gratitude is not bug Putin for taking Crimea and a bite out of eastern Ukraine.
That’s how Putin plays chess. There’s good reasons to let him win this game. Which is why Incirlik is being evacuated. It’s right next to Hatay. The Pentagon has decided the best move is to stay out of the way and let Putin play this out.
— Dr. Jack Wheeler is editor-in-chief of To The Point News and is widely credited as the architect of the Reagan Doctrine. This article is excerpted from the April 1, 2016 edition of Jack’s “Half Full Report,” which you should absolutely sign up to receive.