Turkish False Flags and the Invasion That Almost Was

Turkey Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC June 5, 2009 (Michael Gross/US Department of State)
Turkey Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC June 5, 2009 (Michael Gross/US Department of State)

Turkey seems fond of so-called ‘false flag’ operations. In 1955, for example, the Turkish government covertly bombed its own consulate in Thessaloniki, Greece and blamed it on Greeks. The following day, Turkey stage-managed massive anti-Greek riots in Istanbul that killed over a dozen Christians and caused hundreds of millions in damage.

Fast forward to March 2014.   A leaked audiotape caught Turkish officials plotting to stage ‘false flag’ military attacks on their own territory and blame them on Syrians.   Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, General Yaşar Gürel, and Intelligence chief Hakan Fidan planned to use the attacks as an excuse to invade Syria.   The title of this article could easily apply to that plot.

To close observers of the Caucasus, however, it could also describe a failed covert Turkish plan to attack Armenia two decades ago and turn the geopolitics of the region upside down.

In October 1993, two years after the USSR had splintered, an ethnic Chechen Muslim named Ruslan Khasbulatov – the Speaker, believe it or not, of the Russian Parliament – led a coup against beleaguered Russian President Boris Yeltsin. According to American, French, and Greek officials, Khasbulatov and Muslim Turkey had a secret agreement.

If his coup succeeded, Khasbulatov would order Russian troops to withdraw from Armenia, where they helped guard the latter’s border with Turkey.   That would pave the way for Turkey to invade the landlocked Christian nation of just three million inhabitants.

History tells us that Turkey has always wanted to overrun Armenia.   Doing so would create a path to Turkic-speaking Muslim Azerbaijan, the Caspian Sea, and, eventually, Central Asia. It’s called pan-Turkism.

In 1993, of course, Azerbaijan was losing its war with Armenians over the ancient, majority-Armenian province of Karabagh.   Azerbaijan was, therefore, eager for Turkey to attack Armenia, and Turkey was ready to help Azerbaijan turn the tide.

The Plot Fails

Harkening back to the Armenian genocide, Turkish President Turgut Özal had threatened to teach Armenia “the lessons of 1915.” Tansu Çiller, Turkey’s prime minister, warned Armenia that she wouldn’t “sit back and do nothing.” Turkey was massing forces on Armenia’s western border and supplying Azerbaijan with weapons, military advisors, and paramilitary forces. Chechen militants and Afghan Mujahideen were already fighting alongside Azeris.

A successful Turkish attack on Armenia – Russia’s only military partner in the Caucasus – would have all but destroyed Russian influence in the region. That, in turn, would have increased the likelihood that Chechnya, and much of the Muslim North Caucasus, would eventually escape the Russian Bear’s grip. For a native-born Chechen like Khasbulatov, it would all be a dream-come-true.

But bombarded by Russian tanks, Speaker Khasbulatov, V.P. Alexander Rutskoi, and hundreds of rebel parliamentarians and supporters surrendered the Parliament building on October 4, 1993. The coup and the plot to invade Armenia had failed.

The Secret Pact

The Khasbulatov-Turkish pact was first revealed by Leonidas T. Chrysanthopoulos in his book Caucasus Chronicles (London: Gomidas, 2002).   He was Greece’s ambassador to Armenia from July 1993 to February 1994.   Chrysanthopoulos, now 68, has served as ambassador to Canada and Poland, and was recently Secretary General of the 12-country, Istanbul-based Black Sea Economic Cooperation organization.

France’s ambassador to Armenia, Mme. France de Harthing, told him that “French intelligence sources” confirmed that “the Turkish incursion into Armenia would take place immediately after Khasbulatov would have withdrawn the Russian troops from Armenia.”   “This information,” wrote Chrysanthopoulos, “was later confirmed to me by my United States colleague,” Ambassador Harry J. Gilmore.

As a “pretext,” Turkey would claim to be targeting Kurdish PKK militant bases, which in fact have never existed, in Armenia. Such a “pretext” is similar, though not identical, to a “‘false flag”.

The Turkish strike would be “incursions of a limited nature,” though it’s unclear what “limited” meant. More likely, as Turkey wouldn’t find any PKK, the aim was to forge a permanent corridor across Armenia, link up with Azeri forces, and cleanse Karabagh of Armenians.

The U.S. and France have never, as far as is known, publicly denied the existence of the Khasbulatov-Turkish plot. Moreover, Chrysanthopoulos gives no indication that any country tried to talk Turkey out of its deal with Khasbulatov.

Is any of this relevant today?

NATO Ambitions

Yes, because current Turkish, American, and NATO policies in the Caucasus strongly echo the 1993 Khasbulatov-Turkish plot. For two decades, the West has been trying to penetrate and dominate the Caucasus – Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia –and eventually cross the Caspian Sea into energy-rich Central Asia.

One piece of the plan has already been partially implemented: constructing oil and gas pipelines from Azerbaijan through Georgia and Turkey.

NATO’s remaining goal: absorb the entire Caucasus. NATO would thereby threaten Russia from the south, just as it now pressures Russia from the west with its absorption of much of Eastern Europe (and, NATO hopes, Ukraine).

Georgia and Azerbaijan are inclined to eventually join NATO.   Armenia, however, is not, though it has excellent relations with NATO and the West. Armenia has little choice but to ally itself with Russia because the former faces an ongoing existential threat from NATO member Turkey, the 1993 plot being one example.

Armenia is the Caucasus’s linchpin. Had the Khasbulatov-Turkish quasi-‘false flag’ operation against Armenia succeeded, Russia would probably have lost, and NATO would have gained, the entire Caucasus.  New provocations, including ‘false flags,’ by Turkey and NATO cannot, therefore, be ruled out.

Turkish, American, and NATO leaders must also be interrogated as to whether their policies in the Caucasus are leading to peace or war.

Forget what you think you know about the Israel-Palestine conflict

David Boyajian is an Armenian American freelance journalist. For his activism and writing on the ADL issue, he has been honored by Armenian American organizations and has won commendations from the Massachusetts Governor’s Council, Watertown (MA) Town Council, and the Newton Tab newspaper. Many of his articles are archived at Armeniapedia.org

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  • Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

    While Turkey’s role in Syria is deplorable and they should be blamed for supporting and enabling terrorists to cross border, including McCain, one must also consider the strong possibility of a setup and diversion tactic here. Turkey is important in Israel’s plans/plot, especially in putting pipelines for water through Syria as planned in 2000, and now the potential of gas to Europe, but it
    is feasible to consider that Erdogan was becoming too resistant to all of Israel’s plans and became dispensable. It is worthwhile pointing out here that Erdogan is also being undermined by neoconservative Foundation for Defense of

    “Questions remain,
    however, about whether the AKP tampered with the elections. There were also
    power cuts in 40 of Turkey’s 81 provinces during vote counts. Alleged lost
    ballot boxes have also sparked public outrage on social media over election
    fraud. These charges, coupled with ongoing corruption allegations, will
    continue to create headaches for the AKP, even as it celebrates its electoral success.”
    – See more at: http://www.defenddemocracy.org/media-hit/turkeys-akp-wins-local-elections-but-challenges-remain/#sthash.krgUwmzG.dpuf”
    It is important not to overlook the role of Fethullah Gülen behind all this, including the “leaks”. Gulen is extremely powerful, lives in the US, is a
    major player in Turkey, and BLAMES Turkey for the Flotilla incident and defends
    This putting the blame on Turkey which first came into circulation in Sy’s piece is unnerving. It only acts as a divergent taking attention away from those who may and probably are complicit. Let us not forget some established facts:
    It was Israel that told the US they had intercepted a call to use these weapons pointing the finger at Assad. Further, “According to the UN report two types of rockets had been used, including an M14 artillery rocket bearing Cyrillic markings and a 330-millimeter rocket of unidentified origin – though perhaps not so unidentified. Shortly after the August incident, Foreign Policy published
    and made mention of these mysterious rockets which according to former UN
    inspectors bore a strong resemblance to a 1970’s American weapon—the SLUFAE . Although SLUFAE had been shelved, the concept was built upon by several countries—namely Israel. According to the former UN inspector, “a very similar munition was found 3-5 years ago, during one of the Israeli excursions into Southern Lebanon”. Further, there is the strong possibility that the rockets with Cyrillic markings (attributed to the Soviets) can be traced back to the “Bear
    Spares” program. Both Israel and Egypt made the “Bear Spares” program
    feasible – major contributors. Neither has their chemical weapons under scrutiny – have not signed the chemical weapons treaty.
    Let us not forget why Syria was targeted, who planned it, and
    who executed the plan. We cannot dismiss those who are responsible based on yet another “leak” which conveniently creates a scapegoat.