© Tim Anderson
Reading the news over the last couple of weeks, you'd be forgiven for thinking that some players on the world stage are doing their best to provoke all-out war.

On November 24, Turkey committed an act of war against Russia and Syria, violating Syria's airspace to shoot down a Russian jet flying anti-terrorist missions in northeastern Syria. Turkey had the audacity to call it "self-defense against Russian aggression."

Immediately after the shoot-down, Turkish-born and Turkish-backed terrorists committed a war crime, violating the Geneva Conventions by executing the Russian pilot as he parachuted to the ground. The U.S. called it "legitimate self-defense against Russian aggression."

On December 4, Turkey invaded the territory of Iraq, sending over 100 troops and 25 tanks into northern Iraq - in ISIS-controlled territory. By December 7 that number increased to over 900 troops. After repeated warnings and complaints from the Iraqi government, Ankara told Baghdad that "no further forces will be deployed". They have yet to remove the troops that were deployed.

On December 6, the U.S. committed an act of war against Syria, violating Syria's airspace to launch four airstrikes on the Syrian army near Deir Ezzor, killing three soldiers and severely injuring another 13. (Photos of the damage here.) The U.S. denied the strikes, saying they targeted oil well heads in the same area: "We have no indication any Syrian Soldiers were near our strikes." They can claim this because they routinely refuse to acknowledge such indications, just as they claimed they could not "see" the evidence provided by Russia of Turkey's complicity in the illegal ISIS oil trade.

In addition to these acts of naked aggression, Turkey is currently constructing an airbase in northern Iraq without the Iraqis' prior knowledge or consent. The U.S. is reportedly doing the same in northern Syria.

On the interpersonal level, this type of behavior is called picking a fight. The aggressive party engages in taunts and provocations, wishing the other party to 'take the bait'. This might include insulting the opponent's mother, 'getting in their face' by invading their personal space, and escalating the level of physicality, e.g., with an aggressive poke or a light shove. The goal, of course, is to get the other party to throw the first punch.

Turkey and the U.S. are now responsible for the deaths of 2 Russian soldiers and 3 Syrian soldiers. They have both sent troops into Iraq and Syria without the permission of those states and unilaterally 'set up shop', constructing military bases there. This is not just rude; it is cause for war. So far, Russia, Syria, and Iraq have shown remarkable restraint. World wars have started over less.

Now take a look at these maps. First, the locations of the illegal airbases in Syria and Iraq, along with the locations of the Turkish troops in Iraq.

Now take a look at the image provided by the Russian Defense Ministry showing the routes where ISIS oil is smuggled into Turkey.

© syria.mil.ru
This must be a coincidence; 'our' team would surely never side with terrorists.

This nexus where the borders of Turkey, Syria and Iraq meet has long been a crucial region for Western control of the Middle East. This location is the center-point where the country of Kurdistan would, and arguably should, exist, if if had not been for the deliberate gerrymandering of borders by Western imperialists during and after World War 1, which trapped them between three countries.

In nearly every regional conflict since then, Western intel. has used and abused Kurdish freedom fighters/terrorists as it plays the Kurds against each state, and thus each state against each other. The 'promise' of statehood has been the carrot that kept Kurds in the game, while Western military support and 'looking the other way' has given the states a green light to repress the Kurds.

Turkish troops have recently entered Syria and Iraq illegally, allegedly to "train" certain 'forces' there. The real reason for this incursion however is to prevent the Syrian and Iraqi Kurds from taking more land and possibly establishing an independent Kurdistan across northern Iraq, Syria and possibly into parts of Turkey. This is a scenario that Turkish governments, in particular that of Erdogan, have strenuously fought against for decades.

Obama recently 'prophesied' "pockets of ceasefire" in Syr-aq, aka Islamic State. I think he was obliquely referring to US-NATO military efforts to secure control of bits of Syria and Iraq for themselves, effectively taking over stewardship of the so-called 'Islamic State' from the terrorists. Maybe by 'creating new facts on the ground' in this way, the Empire anticipates using its de facto control of 'safe, ceasefire zones' as leverage in the Vienna talks on the region's future.

On the other hand, something else entirely could be brewing. The Imperial Exceptionalists HATE it when things don't go their way. Syria was scheduled to be obliterated as Libya was. Russia has so far blocked that from happening, but that doesn't mean the obliteration of Syria is off the table.