Monday, February 8, 2016

Ultimatum! Turkey tells the United States, it's us or the Kurds. AFP.

A Kurdish soldier in Kobani. AFP.

Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan is condemning a diplomatic visit by an US official to the Kurdish city of Kobani. AFP. Erdogan is saying that the United States needs to choose between the alliance between Turkey or their relationship with the Kurds, who he claims terrorists. The YPG are considered affiliates of the PKK terrorist organization which Turkey is currently at war with. The Kurdish city of Kobani survived a major siege by ISIS with significant help from the United States. The Kurds have also been the most effective fighters against ISIS in Syria. Turkey fears that the Kurds will be able to form an independent state.

My Comment:
I'm not sure how serious this diplomatic incident is but it's clear that Erdogan is mad. And I think I understand why. The US Government almost certainly knew that this diplomatic visit would anger the Turks. It had to be on purpose. Why? My guess is that that the US was afraid what Turkey was going to do in Syria. They have been saber rattling quite a bit. First they shot down a Russian plane and now there are rumors that they will try and rescue the rebels that are getting destroyed by the Syrian regime in Aleppo.

If Turkey were to enter the war it would be a disaster for the United States. There would be a real chance of Turkey and Russia to fighting each other, possibly spiraling out into a full scale war. And since Turkey is part of NATO, the United States could be drawn into the war, which could lead to a nuclear holocaust. There's not a huge chance of this happening, but enough of one that the United States needed to send a message to punish Turkey for their saber rattling. And that message is that if Turkey keeps doing what they are doing, we will choose the Kurds over them.

And we would be right to do so. Turkey is a terrible ally. Not only are they risking a war with Russia over comparatively stupid reasons, they are risking bringing the United States into the war. And the only reason the Kurds are a threat to Turkey is because the country has a long and brutal history of oppressing them. To the Turks, the Kurds shouldn't exist and should abandon their culture and become "proper" Turks. That's the kind of thing that the United States generally doesn't like, so it's not surprising that there is a lot of sympathy for the Kurds here. And Turkey has been terrible in terms of Western values for quite a long time. They are slowly morphing into a less secular, more Islamic country, and they have been clamping down on free speech and journalism for quite some time. 

Turkey has also been a bad ally in the fight against ISIS. The Turks, at the very least, have done little to prevent foreign fighters from joining ISIS and other terror groups in Syria. Turkey did not control their borders and thousands of fighters were able to enter Syria. And Turkey has been accused of far worse. Turkey has been accused by Russia and other countries of buying quite a bit of oil from ISIS. That's pretty much directly supporting ISIS, since they need money more then anything else. 

And Turkey's war against ISIS has mostly been an excuse to attack Kurdish targets in Iraq and Syria. Turkey has sent a few token strikes against ISIS but the vast majority of their attacks have been targeting the Kurds. Whatever modest accomplishments that Turkey has made against ISIS, it has been completely overshadowed by their attacks on the Kurds. And if the accusations are true that ISIS is selling oil to Turkey, then those strikes are essentially meaningless. Buying oil from ISIS would far outweigh the tiny amount of damage these airstrikes have done.

That's not to say that the Kurds are perfect allies either. Though they have been the best fighting force arrayed against ISIS, they also have some rather serious problems. Though the YPG isn't the PKK, they are allied with them and often fight together. And the PKK is a pretty serious terrorist organization. They are the only secular group that I know if that regularly uses suicide bombers. Usually, only Islamic terrorist groups use suicide bombers but somehow the PKK, which is a communist group, has convinced it's followers to blow themselves up. 

And that brings up the fact that these Kurdish groups are almost exclusively communists or far left politically. Though their treatment of women is commendable, especially in the region, and they are taking a strong stand against ISIS, the fact remains that they are supporters of an ideology that the United States is still officially opposed. Personally, I am very uncomfortable with working with any group that has far-left tendencies. 

Still, the Kurds, with all their problems, are probably better allies then the Turks. Erdogan has been pushing the United States in all the wrong ways. I have been saying for quite some time that Turkey should be kicked out NATO. They are terrible allies and they have very little in common with the other members of NATO. And we should end our relationship with them. 

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