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US inaction led to Russian interference in Syria, claims former NATO commander

February 20, 2016 at 11:53 am

The former military head of NATO, US General Wesley Clark, said on Friday that Washington’s inaction despite Bashar Al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons has led to Russian interference in Syria, Anadolu has reported. Now retired, Clark made his comments during an event organised by the faculty of law at the University of California, Los Angeles. The programme title was, “Mutual Turkish-NATO and Russian relations in the light of the Syrian crisis.”

“The state of the conflict and continuous instability in the region gave Russia an opportunity to achieve its goals to be present in the Middle East, sell Russian weapons and IT, and to regain global leadership in the region,” Clark told the audience. He pointed out the changes in the Middle East since the ouster of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the emergence of Turkey as a power in the region.

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Speaking at the same event, Turkey’s Consul-General in California, Raefa Izaz, said that her country has exerted a lot of effort to achieve peace and stability in the region through its “active role” in NATO. “Turkey advised the Syrian regime to carry out elections before the start of the crisis,” she said, “but it preferred to use force instead. Hence, it lost its legitimacy.”

American academic Professor Daniel Treisman said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had used propaganda against Turkey in the wake of downing the Russian fighter jet last year when it violated Turkish airspace. Treisman expressed his fears of a potential escalation between Turkey and Russia, noting that if Russia advances towards the Turkish border by controlling Aleppo, the government in Ankara will respond with a military offensive within Syria. “This will aggravate the situation,” he added.

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