Erdogan Waves Finger at Obama During Heated White House Talk

Harut Sassounian


Pulitzer-prize winning American journalist Seymour Hersh, in a sensational article “The Red Line and the Rat Line,” published in the London Review of Books, discloses that the Turkish government had secretly orchestrated the August 21, 2013 sarin gas attack in Syria, killing hundreds of civilians. Prime Minister Recep Erdogan had hoped that the Syrian regime would be blamed for that chemical attack, leading to a retaliatory US strike on Syria, since Pres. Obama had warned Syrian leaders that using chemical weapons against rebel fighters would cross a ‘red line.’

Erdogan’s plot almost worked! In the aftermath of the sarin attack, Pres. Obama began planning a massive US strike on dozens of Syrian targets, even though British intelligence had informed the US joint chiefs of staff that samples of the sarin gas obtained from the site of the attack did not match the chemical weapons in Syria’s possession. A former US intelligence official told Hersh that “Erdogan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups.” Hirsh revealed that the US Defense Intelligence Agency had issued “a highly classified” document on June 20, 2013, confirming that “Turkey and Saudi-based chemical facilitators were attempting to obtain sarin precursors in bulk, tens of kilograms, likely for the anticipated large scale production effort in Syria.”

Last May, several members of the al-Nusra Front were arrested in Turkey with two kilograms of sarin. A Turkish court accused the group of planning to acquire other related materials to launch a chemical attack in Syria. Five of the arrestees were freed shortly, while the rest were released pending trial. They were not seen again!

After a special UN mission went to Syria to investigate two earlier chemical attacks in Spring 2013, a person with close knowledge of UN’s activity told Hersh that “there was evidence linking the Syrian opposition to the first gas attack, on March 19 in Khan al-Assal, a village near Aleppo…. It was clear that the rebels used the gas.”

Just before launching the joint US, British, and French attack on Syria in September 2013, Pres. Obama suddenly decided to postpone the strike, using the excuse that he needed congressional approval. The real reason for the delay was the President’s discovery that he was being set up by Turkey for an ‘unjustified’ attack on Syria, but did not want to publicly acknowledge his near blunder with potentially catastrophic consequences for the entire Middle East. Ironically, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was the one who rescued Pres. Obama from embarrassment by securing Syria’s agreement to hand over its chemical stockpile, thus providing the President a cover for canceling his threatened attack.

Investigative journalist Hersh further revealed that the chemical weapons had reached the Syrian rebels through a CIA operation code named ‘rat line’ — a secret Turkish-US agreement in 2012 to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya to Syria through Turkey. After the terrorist attack on its consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the hub of this clandestine activity, the US pulled out of this covert arrangement, yet Turkey continued to supply Libyan weapons to the Syrian rebels.

By the end of 2012, as the rebels were losing the battle against the Assad regime, a former US intelligence official told Hersh that “Erdogan was pissed,” leading him to concoct a scheme to have the rebels use sarin gas and falsely blame the Syrian government, thus instigating an attack by the United States on Syria.

To personally plead his case for a US attack on Syria to save the rebels from defeat, Turkey’s Prime Minister flew to Washington. On May 16, 2013, Erdogan, along with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and head of intelligence Hakan Fidan, had a working dinner at the White House, with Pres. Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon. Infuriated by Obama’s unwillingness to take military action against Syria, Erdogan “fucking waved his finger at the president inside the White House,” Donilon recounted the shocking episode to a foreign policy expert who reported it to Hersh. “The American decision to end CIA support of the weapons shipments into Syria left Erdogan exposed politically and militarily,” Hersh explained. “Without US military support for the rebels, the former intelligence official said, ‘Erdogan’s dream of having a client state in Syria is evaporating and he thinks we’re the reason why. When Syria wins the war, he knows the rebels are just as likely to turn on him — where else can they go? So now he will have thousands of radicals in his backyard.’”

After the August 2013 sarin attack near Damascus, a former intelligence official told Hersh: “We now know it was a covert action planned by Erdogan’s people to push Obama over the red line…. The deal was to do something spectacular…. The sarin was supplied through Turkey.” Another indication of Turkish officials’ complicity was Hersh’s report that phone calls intercepted by the US revealed their joy with the success of their orchestrated chemical attack!

Hersh concludes his exposé by relaying a most worrisome observation from a former US intelligence official: “I asked my colleagues if there was any way to stop Erdogan’s continued support for the rebels, especially now that it’s going so wrong, the answer was: ‘We’re screwed.’ We could go public if it was somebody other than Erdogan, but Turkey is a special case. They are a NATO ally. The Turks don’t trust the West. They can’t live with us if we take any active role against Turkish interests. If we went public with what we know about Erdogan’s role with the gas, it’d be disastrous. The Turks would say: ‘We hate you for telling us what we can and can’t do.’”

For almost a century, successive US governments have failed to understand a fundamental geostrategic truth — Turkey needs the US much more than the United States will ever need Turkey. There is indeed something terribly wrong when the tail wags the dog!

Part 2 of last week’s article on the Turkish deportation of Jewish settlers from Palestine will be published at a later date.

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  1. Sharkobal said:

    Brilliant article Mr. Sassounian! Erdogan and Turkey are the cause of all that mess in Syria. They shall be held accountable for what’s happening in Syria.

  2. Sarkis said:

    Thank you Mr. Sassounian for this important and insightful report.

    “but Turkey is a special case. They are a NATO ally. The Turks don’t trust the West. They can’t live with us if we take any active role against Turkish interests.”

    Yet in about a weeks time, clueless Armenian-Americans will be in a frenzy as they ask the US government to “recognize” the Armenian Genocide, and then will be disappointed when the US sides with the Turks again. This is all further proof that the world is divided into two camps with solid, impermeable borders: the US, the EU, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Israel, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and their puppets on one side; and on the other side Russia, Armenia, Iran, Belarus and their allies.

  3. Dino said:

    The jihadist attack on Kessab which the turks allowed to proceed from their territory is the proof of turkey’s defeat in their proxy war against Syria. It’s over for Turkey, they lost all chances of having a Sunni Syrian client state. What will all those al Qaida terrorists do now in turkey? Erdogan is a madman juggling too many things at once with a bad case of diarrhea and no bathroom in sight.

  4. Armen said:

    Armenia, with the consent of Syrian government, should deploy military forces to protect Kessab and its Armenian population. Boots on the ground, that’s what is needed and it is long overdue.

  5. hye said:

    Re: “For almost a century, successive US governments have failed to understand a fundamental geostrategic truth — Turkey needs the US much more than the United States will ever need Turkey”

    I think U.S. needs Western Armenia(and Western Armenia would be much better partner than Turkey).

    • Hratch said:

      Turkey with a 75+ million Muslim population can disrupt the security of Israel if it were antagonized. Therefore, a tamed and friendly Turkey is much more important than a christian Western Armenia to the security of Israel.

  6. Josef said:

    Why is Erdogan waving fingers at Obama ? Did he forget he is America’s stooge? Lets remind him and all of Turkey is we don’t give Turkey our tax money and support they are finished!

  7. John Keusseyan said:

    Great article Harut! Let us expose these bastards for what they really are. Why the main media is silent about this? If this was Iran or some other country that we (U.S.) don’t like, we would never hear the end of it. What a bunch of hypocrites we (Americans) are.

  8. Karten Van Zant said:

    I could see how Prime Minister Erdogan would blame the west for his down fall. With charter school funding from the Gulen movement practically supporting the opposition to his cabinet he panic to regian control. The charters schools in this country are giving too much time and money to political appointees to make themselves look ligitimate.
    Gulen “loosely” affiliated charters schools aren’t doing any beeter then any regular public school. They buy land and build and repurpose buildings that can be easily converted into other types of property and uses such as mosque, mediacl facilities and strip malls. It is smart and is what public ed should have been allowed to do. However, these charters, provide minimal assistance and the lowest cost education to low income children,.while collecting on SpEd services that is barely provided. It’s all about the appearence or providing a good education; not that it actually is. Also know the parents of children that enroll who have low incident needs (autism, Intellectual disability) are deliberately frustrated out of these schools. This was my personal experience and my shock to realize how different a value system these folks really have.
    It’s great for normal and higher functionaing children to have a choice… what about the low incident children… where is their choice? Oh that right… money needs to go back to Turkey to help religious groups fund activities to over throw the governement, and usher in the moderate muslims which only means they tolerate and OK to lie to others that aren’t muslim.
    So this very much appears like funneling money back to Turkey through its employees to fund other service projects which funds the Gulen movement. Were else but in America do we fully fund education to charter schools where these corporations keep all the profits they save in ripping off the American public.

    We as a nation need to stop having foriegn corporation owning and operating charter’s school in the US. Better yet, lets ban school district unions and charter schools owners form being allowed to make political contributions. Keep the money reinvested in the American community and education so our kids can compete globally. It’s obvious that funding for such instutution’s can easily be misappropriated leading to distrust amoung governement officials all over the world. For once I will say good job for President Obama and thank you to Russia for avoiding this mess.