Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Turkey launches airstrikes against Kurds in Iraq and Syria.

A US military commander inspects the damage with a group of Kurdish YPG fighters in Malikiya, Syria. Reuters. 

Turkey has launched airstrikes at Kurdish forces, and US allies, in both Syria and Iraq. Reuters. Between 20 and 70 Kurdish fighters were killed in what is seen as an escalation of Turkey's war against the Kurds. Though Turkey has struck the Kurds before, this was the first time that they hit the Sinjar region of Iraq. The Turks said they were targeting members of the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), a far left group of Kurdish nationalists who are considered terrorists by the Turks. Many of the people killed were members of the much more moderate Kurdish Protection Units. The United States expressed concern about the attack because it killed US allies in the fight against ISIS. The Kurds are a key member of the Syrian Democratic Forces who have been crucial in pushing back ISIS.

My Comment:
With allies like these, who needs enemies? It's not like the Kurds are critical allies against ISIS or anything. Though Turkey has long said that their military operations are primarily focused on stopping ISIS, it's clear that they are really in it to stop the Kurds. Remember, Turkey's main goal in clearing out ISIS in Syria was to prevent the Kurdish enclaves from linking up and creating a de facto Kurdish state in the Northern part of Syria. Turkey would not tolerate it. 

Why? Because the Turks consider the Kurds to be an existential threat to the survival of Turkey. Turkey is not a multicultural society and believe that everyone that lives there should both be Muslim and Turkish. This desire was the driving force behind the Armenian and Greek genocides and is the main reason why the Kurds are being attacked today. Though Turkey hasn't gone so far as destroying the Kurds, they are being attacked because they are different culturally. 

Of course, the Kurds aren't helping their case by tolerating the PKK. They are a far left group of communists that use tactics more suited for radical Islamic terrorists. They are the only secular group that I know of that regularly uses suicide bombing as a tactic in warfare. How they find people willing to blow themselves up for Communism is beyond me, but they find a way to do so. They are a dangerous group of terrorists that only look good in comparison to Islamic terrorists. 

This attack also was extremely dangerous for US forces on the ground. First of all, US forces are deployed in the area and could have been hit by Turkish airstrikes. There is a chance that Turkey let NATO know where they were going to hit, much like we did for the Russians with our Tomahawk strike in Syria, but there was nothing in the Reuters report that said they did so. It could have just been dumb luck that no Americans killed in this attack... 

There is also a fear that if these attacks continue, the SDF might decide that having the Kurds as a member is more trouble than it is worth. After all, the SDF is made up off Arab Syrians as well and their main goal is fighting ISIS. Attracting Turkish airstrikes might not be worth it for them and it could break up the alliance. It would reverse the gains against ISIS in the region if that were to happen.

Turkey has put the United States in a very awkward position. On the one hand, Turkey is a critical NATO ally and we need a strong relationship with them. On the other, the Kurds have been the best fighting force against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria with only the Iraqi and Syrian governments giving them competition. President Donald Trump has made it very clear that his number one priority is fighting ISIS and Turkey just screwed up our plans against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. It will be interesting what the United States will do in response. 

My personal opinion is that the United States should put pressure on both Turkey and the Kurds. Both of them are in the wrong as far as I am concerned. We should not tolerate an ally that bombs our other allies. We also should not tolerate allies that have communists in their ranks. But trying to navigate those competing demands are a massive minefield.  

The only people that really benefit from this development is ISIS. ISIS is on the defensive everywhere and it looks fairly obvious that they will be defeated soon. The only hope they have is that the forces arrayed against them end up fighting each other and not them. Doing so would give ISIS a reprieve and a chance to go back on the offensive. It's not too likely, but it's the best chance that ISIS has. Considering that Syria and the rebels, the Turks and the Kurds and the United States and Russia are all more concerned about confronting each other than destroying ISIS, it's not like it's impossible...   

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