TEL AVIV, Israel – Turkey fears that Russia’s growing involvement in the Syrian civil war on behalf of Bashar al-Assad’s regime may push the Syrian president to claim the disputed border region of Iskenderun, a senior Arab intelligence source told Breitbart Jerusalem.
Located on the Mediterranean coast in southern Turkey, Syrian nationalists claim Iskenderun as part of their homeland, believing it was stolen from them in a supposed Turkish-French plot in 1939.
Turkey’s uncompromising stance in favor of the Syrian opposition has put Ankara at odds with Russian interests in the Middle East. Tensions between the two countries spiked with the interception of a Russian warplane by Turkey last November.
Some Syrians have already started demanding the return of Iskenderun in protest of Turkey’s policies.
A Facebook page dedicated to the “occupied Iskenderun region” has been launched, which describes the Syrian army’s war against “terrorists.”
One on the Facebook page commenter wrote that once the town of Kanasba – the last rebel stronghold in the Latakia region – is “liberated,” the rest of the region, including parts of Turkey, should be next. “We want to see the reaction of that crazy Turk, Erdogan, when Latakia is liberated in its entirety, including our beloved Iskenderun.”
The intelligence source said that in discussions between Ankara and anti-Assad Arab governments, Turkish officials voiced concern that Moscow would demand the reopening of the Iskenderun issue as a means of pressuring their government.
“When the question of dividing Syria comes up, Putin and Assad will most likely call for dividing Turkish territory as well, given that Russia supports the Turkish rebels who wish to establish an independent entity near the Turkey-Syria-Iraq border,” he said.
The Arab states fear that it will open the door to other territorial demands, like Iran’s concerning Bahrain and some islands belonging to the Emirates. That’s why Arab regimes are so disappointed in Washington’s feckless strategy – it not only allows for the strengthening of the Shi’ite camp at the expense of America’s Sunni allies, it may also risk their territorial integrity.
“The Arab states are convinced that the US abandoned them in many respects, not just the military,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, a ceasefire in Syria that went into effect two days ago is coming dangerously close to collapse with Syrian and Russian forces both being accused by opposition groups of seriously violating the terms of the truce.
A spokesman for the Saud-backed Syrian High Negotiating Council claimed on Monday that Assad’s forces committed 15 violations within the first day of the ceasefire and stated there were other transgressions by Russia and the Assad-aligned Hezbollah terrorist group.
Asaad al-Zoubi, the chief negotiator for the SHC to the Syria peace talks, stated on Al Arabiya al Hadath TV that “We are not facing a violation of the truce … we are facing a complete nullification.”
“I believe the international community has totally failed in all its experiments, and must take real, practical measures towards the [Syrian] regime,” Zoubi added.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault confirmed that France had been urgently consulted about the alleged truce violations.
“We have received indications that attacks, including by air, have been continuing against zones controlled by the moderate opposition,” he said. “All this needs to be verified. France has therefore demanded that the taskforce charged with overseeing the cessation of hostilities meet without delay.”
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.