Earlier this week Shafaqna had a conversation with retired US Colonel and former ambassador, Col. Edward Sommerson.
Following is a transcript of the interview:
SHAFAQNA – Paris attack led to an explosion of negative sentiments towards Muslims and calls for renewed efforts against ISIL in the Middle East – yet, Western powers have systematically refused to side with Russian and Iran against ISIL. Worse still, Turkey has now directly intervened against Russia’s efforts in Syria in combating ISIL. What do you make of this?
COLONEL EDWARD SOMMERSON – First I would say this: not all powers allied against terror carry the same agenda, and so this has led to conflicting policies and of course tensions among states. While Turkey is a NATO member, it remains at the periphery … Ankara’s political vision is not in alignment with that of European nations or the United States for example.
There are geo-political realities to be considered when it comes to the MidEast and the war on terror needs to be understood from a perspective of power. Capitalism has fed imperialism and today economic realities mean that political powers need to assert control to remain relevant.
Turkey is looking to carve itself a sit at the capitalist table – this is really the end game here.
SHAFAQNA – Do you see a military escalation in the region as a result of this?
COLONEL EDWARD SOMMERSON – Yes and No. Russia is unlikely to directly retaliate, at least not in the manner some media have theorized … those are warmongers looking to instill fear to forward their own agenda.
Russia’s main goal is to destroy ISIL, that I see as a constant. Moscow will in my mind work to isolate Turkey politically by weakening its standing within the NATO and beyond, the international community.
Turkey might be a great nation but it cannot stand alone in the region – and having two neighbours as enemies (Iran and Russia) is not exactly a policy any government should favor.
President Erdogan miscalculate here. I doubt the US or other EU nations for that matter will back an escalation against Russia at this political juncture. There are grander repercussions to take into account: the global economy being one of them.
SHAFAQNA – What do make of accusations Turkey has helped radicals?
COLONEL EDWARD SOMMERSON – That’s a tough one … There have been whispers and allegations, some rather well substantiated. I would say that Turkey is playing dangerous war games to assert its standing within the region and the international community.
Turkey as a result is losing its political credibility.
I’m going to say this:Turkey must have been eager to shoot down a Russian aircraft. Even going by the Turkish account of what happened, as illustrated by a Turkish map of the route of the Russian plane, it would only briefly have been in Turkish airspace as it crossed a piece of Turkish territory that projects into Syria. And so if we are to assume that Turkey was indeed looking for an opportunity to strike Russia, we must therefore imply that its motives are related to those interests it is trying to protect or pursue in Syria.
SHAFAQNA – Do you see Iran playing a greater role in the MidEast? Especially in the fight against terror.
COLONEL EDWARD SOMMERSON – Yes absolutely! Iran is a key partner and peace will only ever be brokered when Iran enters the fray. That being said it will take much political goodwill for Western powers and Iran to mend their ties – I’m hopeful however that economic ties will speed the process.