The British Foreign Secretary William Hague has said that the United Kingdom promises to increase its support for the armed gangs fighting the Syrian government.
Hague made the remarks at a joint press conference with the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in London.
The British government has already joined other Western countries in backing the groups of taking up arms against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Meanwhile, Turkey has set up a secret base near the Syrian border to send military and communications supplies to armed groups fighting against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
According to a Qatari source, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are sending weapons and communications equipment for Syrian rebels via the base, which is located in the southern Turkish city of Adana, about one hundred kilometers from Syria’s border, Reuters reported on Friday.
According to the source, the base was set up after Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Saud visited Turkey and requested it.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Webster Griffin Tarpley, author and historian, to further discuss the issue. The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Press TV: First of all I like to get your opinion on how significant do you think is this directed mission being made by Hague that Britain is backing armed groups in Syria and that it is ready to step up its support for them?
Tarpley: Well he really had no choice. We had the Reuters news agency 24 to 36 hours ago publishing the report that you referred to about the Adana base supported actively by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and of course on Turkish territory.
This base was actually made to order during a visit by Saudi Prince Abdulaziz, the Deputy Foreign Minister who demanded that the Turks open up such a base. The trick with that base is Adana is right next to the Incirlik NATO air force base. It is Incirlik AFB and the account in Reuters is not certain whether the Adana logistical base for the death squads in Syria is actually on the NATO base. So at that point it is getting very hard to deny anything.
I think we have to look at the behavior not just of the British but also of Turkey which has been I think breathtaking irresponsible examples of real folly in the last couple of days. Erdogan, the leader of the country made a speech yesterday where he threatened the Syrians with hot pursuit. If PKK Kurdish elements from Northern Syria raid into Turkey then he is going to follow them back into Syria.
He needs to be reminded that the great principle of international relations is reciprocity and right now with that base that we have just heard about Turkey is actually sending terror teams into Syria and when they go back to Adana and then they would be subject also to hot pursuit which would include that NATO base.
The Turks have tried to cover themselves in the last days or two by saying that they are sealing their border but we have a very informative article here in the Washington Post a day or two ago where we find out that the Turks are only referring to the official border crossings and they have got a whole set of other semi-official border crossings which are actually run by the Turkish army where the Guerilla fighters and terrorists are being allowed to pass in both directions.
Press TV: Well that is an interesting point you made, the involvement of Turkey throughout what is happening in Syria. Now Turkey has set up a secret base, a nerve-center so to speak, which directly is sort of a route between mercenaries being sent by Saudi Arabia and Qatar into Syria? Now how do you think, what kind of a precedent is Turkey setting by undermining its own national security for the sake of NATO’s own ultimate objectives?
Tarpley: Well the old Greek proverb is “whom the gods would destroy, they first drive mad” usually with hubris, excessive pride, overweening ambition and that seems to apply to Erdogan and unfortunately also Davutoglu. They have also got other problems though, they have got not only Syria and the Kurds but then there is also Russia.
I think the big development of the last week or so is this landmark statement by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov that the United States policy is to justify terrorism. The US justifies terrorism and says Lavrov the US negotiating pasture from Susan Rice at the United Nations is essentially the United States will continue to support terrorism until the Security Council does what the US and NATO want and Lavrov deplored that position.
This is a very important moment I think in terms of clarifying what is going on. It seems to me now that it would be in order to follow up on that some kind of resolution in the Security Council or the General Assembly at the very least, condemning the United States for supporting terrorism in the person of al-Qaeda as you mentioned before.
This has now gone so far that a whole country is in crisis in Europe and it is Germany as your account mentioned the BND, the Bundesnachrichtendienst has pointed to the overwhelming presence of al-Qaeda and you have got the Frankfurter Allgemeine, Die Welt and Bild-Zeitung, one of the biggest tabloids in Europe, all of them are taking I think important steps to show that the massacres in Syria are actually the handiwork of the anti-Assad forces, that is not the army and Assad who are doing these killings but it is the opposition and they do it with the desire to provoke a foreign intervention and in that regard we are told a lot about Aleppo.
Press TV: Well speaking of which Dr. Tarpley, let me just cut in there, the massacre that took place in Houla, there are reports now by German intelligence services that it was carried out by al-Qaeda. They have also admitted that numerous al-Qaeda attacks have taken place in Syria which have been blamed on Syrian security forces. Again the US is speaking of a massacre set to take place in Aleppo which is again reminiscent of what took place in Houla.
Now speaking of which, these countries are putting in as much as they can when it comes to Syria even their own integrity in the international arena. Do they even have a plan B if things don’t work out the way they have planned?
Tarpley: Well their plan B is constricted in the sense that they fear possible retaliation from Putin and Russia and to some extent from China. They also fear the anti-aircraft systems, the SAMs, the surface to air missiles that are in the hands of Syria.
So their goal up to now has been to try to do this with Special Forces and sending in swarms of terrorist Guerilla fighters but that has not worked over the many months and in the past week to ten days the great escalation and the numbers that I have heard range from two to three thousand foreign fighters to tens of thousands of foreign fighters who were expected to swarm the main cities of Syria at the same time that the assassinations took place last Wednesday.
Well that did not work. The Syrian army did not collapse, the Syrian state was not decapitated and in Damascus and now in Aleppo those foreign fighters must realize that they cannot hold the positions that they have taken and if they try to stay there it is going to go very, very badly for them.
I would just point out Corriere Della Sera, big Milan newspaper, most important newspaper of record in Italy already on Thursday evening, last evening here in Washington said that the rebels have left Aleppo, they are fleeing towards the Turkish border and the only people left are the citizens of Aleppo.
Now then the New Yorker magazine correspondent who seems to speak for the US intelligence community says the opposite, the residents have fled and only people left are the fighters.
In either case you are absolutely right. Nobody should believe Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, Victoria Nuland, these people discredited as they are lying as they have done the whole time. Any report of a massacre in Aleppo would have to be taken with a great deal of skepticism.
Secret Turkish nerve center leads aid to Syria rebels (Reuters Exclusive)
(Reuters) - Turkey has set up a secret base with allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar to direct vital military and communications aid to Syria's rebels from a city near the border, Gulf sources have told Reuters.
News of the clandestine Middle East-run "nerve centre" working to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad underlines the extent to which Western powers - who played a key role in unseating Muammar Gaddafi in Libya - have avoided military involvement so far in Syria.
"It's the Turks who are militarily controlling it. Turkey is the main co-ordinator/facilitator. Think of a triangle, with Turkey at the top and Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the bottom," said a Doha-based source.
"The Americans are very hands-off on this. U.S. intel(ligence) are working through middlemen. Middlemen are controlling access to weapons and routes."
The centre in Adana, a city in southern Turkey about 100 km (60 miles) from the Syrian border, was set up after Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Saud visited Turkey and requested it, a source in the Gulf said. The Turks liked the idea of having the base in Adana so that they could supervise its operations, he added.
A Saudi foreign ministry official was not immediately available to comment on the operation.
Adana is home to Incirlik, a large Turkish/U.S. air force base which Washington has used in the past for reconnaissance and military logistics operations. It was not clear from the sources whether the anti-Syrian "nerve centre" was located inside Incirlik base or in the city of Adana.
Qatar, the tiny gas-rich Gulf state which played a leading part in supplying weapons to Libyan rebels, has a key role in directing operations at the Adana base, the sources said. Qatari military intelligence and state security officials are involved.
"Three governments are supplying weapons: Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia," said a Doha-based source.
Ankara has officially denied supplying weapons.
"All weaponry is Russian. The obvious reason is that these guys (the Syrian rebels) are trained to use Russian weapons, also because the Americans don't want their hands on it. All weapons are from the black market. The other way they get weapons is to steal them from the Syrian army. They raid weapons stores."
The source added: "The Turks have been desperate to improve their weak surveillance, and have been begging Washington for drones and surveillance." The pleas appear to have failed. "So they have hired some private guys come do the job."
President Barack Obama has so far preferred to use diplomatic means to try to oust Assad, although Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signaled this week that Washington plans to step up help to the rebels.
Reuters has established that Obama's aides have drafted a resolution which would authorize greater covert assistance to the rebels but still stop short of arming them.
The White House's wariness is shared by other Western powers. It reflects concerns about what might follow Assad in Syria and about the substantial presence of anti-Western Islamists and jihadi fighters among the rebels.
The presence of the secret Middle East-run "nerve centre" may explain how the Syrian rebels, a rag-tag assortment of ill-armed and poorly organized groups, have pulled off major strikes such as the devastating bomb attack on July 18 which killed at least four key Assad aides including the defense minister.
A Turkish diplomat in the region insisted however that his country played no part in the Damascus bombing.
"That's out of the question," he said. "The Syrian minister of information blamed Turkey and other countries for the killing. Turkey doesn't do such things. We are not a terrorist country. Turkey condemns such attacks."
However, two former senior U.S. security officials said that Turkey has been playing an increasing role in sheltering and training Syrian rebels who have crossed into its territory.
One of the former officials, who is also an adviser to a government in the region, told Reuters that 20 former Syrian generals are now based in Turkey, from where they are helping shape the rebel forces. Israel believes up to 20,000 Syrian troops may now have defected to the opposition.
Former officials said there is reason to believe the Turks stepped up their support for anti-Assad forces after Syria shot down a Turkish plane which had made several passes over border areas.
Sources in Qatar said the Gulf state is providing training and supplies to the Syrian rebels.
"The Qataris mobilized their special forces team two weeks ago. Their remit is to train and help logistically, not to fight," said a Doha-based source with ties to the FSA.
Qatar's military intelligence directorate, Foreign Ministry and State Security Bureau are involved, said the source.
The United States, Israel, France and Britain - traditionally key players in the Middle East - have avoided getting involved so far, largely because they see little chance of a "good outcome" in Syria.
"Israel is not really in the business of trying to 'shape' the outcome of the revolt,", a diplomat in the region said. "The consensus is that you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't. The risk of identifying with any side is too great".
A former U.S. official who advises a government in the region and other current and former U.S. and European security officials say that there has been little to zero direct assistance or training from the U.S. or its European allies.
The former official also said that few sophisticated weapons such as shoulder-fired bazookas for destroying tanks or surface-to-air missiles have reached the anti-Assad forces.
While some Gulf officials and conservative American politicians have privately suggested that a supply of surface-to-air missiles would help anti-Assad forces bring the conflict to a close, officials familiar with U.S. policy say they are anxious to keep such weapons out of the hands of Syrian rebels. They fear such weapons could make their way to pro-jihad militants who could use them against Western aircraft.
The CIA and the Israelis' main concern so far has been that elements of al-Qaeda may attempt to infiltrate the rebels and acquire some of Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons.
Sima Shine, a former chief Mossad analyst who now serves as an adviser to the Israeli government, told Reuters: "It's a nightmare for the international community, and chiefly the Americans - weapons of mass-destruction falling into the hands of terrorists. In parallel to its foreign contacts, Israel is taking this especially seriously. After all, we are here, and the Americans are over there."
She envisaged two circumstances under which Hezbollah, the Lebanese Islamist group, could obtain some of the chemical weapons stockpile.
"Assad goes and anarchy ensues, during which Hezbollah gets its hands on the weapons. There is a significant Hezbollah presence in Syria and they are well-ensconced in the military and other national agencies. So they are close enough to make a grab for it.
"Another possibility is that Assad, knowing that he is on his way out, will authorized a handover to Hezbollah, as a message to the world about the price of encouraging his ouster."
However, British and U.S. officials believe there is little or no sign of Assad being toppled imminently.
The situation, one senior European official said, is still likely to veer back and forth, like a tug-of-war between pro- and anti-Assad forces.
There is no indication, the official added, that Assad himself has any intention of doing anything but fighting on until the bitter end.
(additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in London and Dan Williams in Jerusalem; writing by Richard Woods; editing by Michael Stott and Ralph Boulton)