Saturday, September 17, 2016

US Special Forces deployed with the Turks to fight in Syria get a chilly reception from rebels.

US troops in Turkey. AFP. 

US Special Forces have been deployed to work with Turkish troops and their rebel allies, but received a cold reception from the rebels. AFP. Dozens of troops were deployed to help "vetted" rebel groups working with the Turks in the fight against ISIS. But the rebels rejected their help, yelling and threatening the soldiers due to the United State's support for the Kurds. Turkey, and their proxy rebel groups in Syria, consider the Syrian Kurds to be terrorists allied with the PKK group that is embroiled in an insurgency in Turkey. US commanders chalked up the incident to a "misunderstanding" and claim that the troops are still in the area and had not been hurt. Adding to the tensions in a separate incident the Kurds flew the American flag over one of their bases, without permission from the United States. Theoretically, the Kurds, Turks, rebels and the United States are all opposed to ISIS and will fight against them. 

My Comment:
Yet another embarrassment in Syria. As you can see from the above video, this was less of a disagreement and more of a riot. These rebels were yelling and screaming at our troops and forced them to evacuate with their tails behind their legs. Keep in mind, these were the people we are supposed to be helping in Syria, and they totally rejected us.

Why? Because these rebels aren't really rebels. They are a proxy army for the Turks. Many of them are ethnically Turkish and their interests are essentially the same as the Turks. They hate the Kurds of course and the fact that we are working with them and giving them weapons does not play well. Given the circumstances it was lucky that the incident didn't end in violence.

The government says that we will go right back to training and working with these rebels, but I will believe it when I see it. If it does happen, I don't think those special forces will be all that safe. We are trying to play two sides of a conflict to fight our common enemy but given how much the Kurds and Turks hate each other, it will be a fine line to straddle.

The Kurds, for their part, seem to be unhappy with the situation as well. Though I am not sure exactly why they would fly the American flag over their base, it does seem to be a message. My guess is that they are trying to remind us that we are allies and that we probably shouldn't be helping their enemy. How they will react in the long term is still to be seen, but I can see the Kurds rejecting our help if we continue to help the Turks.

Which is a shame because I like the Kurds a lot more then I like the Turks. Though the Kurds are way too far to the left for my liking, at the very least they aren't Islamic fundamentalists. They have more western values which would be close to our own if it wasn't tainted by threads of communism that is found in many of their groups. And they are one of the only secular groups in the region with any kind of power at all.

The Turks, on the other hand, have gone further into Islamic fundamentalism then I would prefer. They aren't Jihadists yet, but they are heading in that direction. Tayyip Erdogan is cracking down on western values like freedom of the press and freedom of religion and doing so hard. He's been a terrible ally in the the war against ISIS and I am not a fan of their actions in Syria.

All that being said, if we can somehow balance our alliances with both the Kurds and the Turks we might just be able to defeat ISIS. They are in a very bad position once again. Not only have the Turks cut off their main supply lines to the outside world, they are the primary losers in the cease fire between the rebels and the government. With both sides taking a break from fighting each other, their efforts can be focused on where they belong, ISIS. It's even looking like Russia and the United States will attempt to coordinate their efforts together against ISIS and al-Nusra, which is something I have been calling for since Russia joined the war. ISIS is in a very bad position right now.

Which is why these incidents worry me. ISIS is on the backfoot and about the only thing that could give them an out right now is a major battle between their enemies. If the cease fire fails, and it probably will eventually, they will be able to take advantage of the chaos to recover lost territory. And if the Turks and Kurds go all out against each other as well, then they might even have a chance at a resurgence.

Finally, I think that the Turks have the ability to end the war against ISIS pretty much any time they want. If they were really concerned about destroying ISIS completely they would just send a couple armored columns to Raqqa. They would take casualties, yes, but ISIS would not be able to stand against a fresh and well armed military like Turkey. It won't happen, not only because of the instability in Turkey with the failed coup and Kurdish insurgency, but because the Turks main mission in Syria was never ISIS. It has always and will always be the Kurds...

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