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Turkey is in trouble and the US is part of it

Written By: - Date published: 11:35 am, February 23rd, 2016 - 33 comments
Categories: colonialism, defence, International, Syria - Tags: , , , , , ,

I figure that the US is unhappy with ultimatums and other rash actions from Turkey. I figure this because the MSM has started printing articles entitled something like “Turkey’s actions make world war more likely.” Whoah!

However when I looked at the very same NZ Herald article again this morning, the title of the piece had changed to a much milder “Turkey’s increasingly desperate predicament poses real dangers.”

Very interesting! The guts of the article seems unchanged however.

“Turkey is facing a multifaceted catastrophe,” said Gokhan Bacik, professor of international relations at Ankara’s Ipek University. “This is a country that has often had problems in the past, but the scale of what is happening now is beyond Turkey’s capacity for digestion.”

A rift with the United States, Turkey’s closest and most vital ally, over the status of the main Syrian Kurdish militia, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), has further exposed Turkey’s vulnerability. A demand by President Recep Tayyep Erdogan that Washington choose between NATO ally Turkey and the YPG, its main Syrian ally in the fight against the Islamic State, was rebuffed by the State Department this month, despite Turkish allegations that the YPG had carried out the bombing in Ankara.

On Saturday, Turkey dug in, demanding unconditional support from the United States. “The only thing we expect from our U.S. ally is to support Turkey with no ifs or buts,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told journalists in Ankara.

Turkey now stands completely isolated, trapped in a maze of quandaries that are partly of its own making, said Soli Ozel, professor of international relations at Istanbul’s Kadir Has University.

“It has so alienated everyone it cannot convince anyone to do anything,” he said. “It is a country whose words no longer carry any weight. It bluffs but does not deliver. It cannot protect its vital interests, and it is at odds with everyone, including its allies.

“For a country that was until very recently seen as a consequential regional power, these facts strike me as quite disastrous,” he added.

The next article is very informative and provides some historic background dating back to the Ottoman Empire as to why the Turkish are reacting so strongly to the Kurds gaining real territorial, political and military standing. From the website of The Saker the article entitled “Turkey is screwed and it’s all the US fault“:

When the modern Turkish state was created on the ashes of the Ottoman empire following defeat in WWI, it was seeking a new identity on which it could successfully establish itself. The new young Turkish elite chose the model of nationalism, at that time a progressive concept so popular in contemporary Europe.

Turkey, just like some of its European counterparts, was however faced with the imperial heritage of diverse ethnic groups living on its newly established territory. There were large and ancient communities of Greeks, Armenians, Kurds and many other people living in Anatolia and the European part of Turkey. Ethnic Turks themselves were relative newcomers to these parts of the world, having arrived only in the 11th century. Greeks and other ethnic groups, on the other hand, can trace their presence in what is now Turkey well into the Bronze Age and beyond (3300-1200 BC).

The Turks managed to solve the Greek question after the Graeco-Turkish war of 1919-1922 and the large exchange of population which followed it. Most Greeks left Turkey and Turkey received an influx of ethnic Turks from Greece in return. The Armenian question got solved already during WWI in what many call the Armenian genocide. Term which Turkey fiercely opposes. It was a forceful deportation of Armenians into the Syrian desert. It is estimated that about 1.5 million of them died. Turkey acknowledges the fact of the deportation, but claims that loss of life was an unintended consequence rather than a deliberate act.

One ethnic question which Turkey however did not manage to solve is the Kurdish question. The Kurds are an ancient community of Iranian people who accepted Islam. They were skilled soldiers and played an important role in Islamic armies, including the Seljuk and the Ottoman. Indeed, the most famous historical Kurdish figure is Saladin (name under which he is known in the West), a Muslim general who reconquered Jerusalem during the Crusades and a sultan of Egypt and Syria.

The Turks tried to solve the Kurdish issue by straightforward assimilation. They announced that from now on, Kurds are simply „Eastern Turks“ and banned the Kurdish language. The Kurds resisted and the Turks answered with repression, forced relocation, discrimination and heavy handed military crackdown. Kurds in Turkey are since then in de facto constant rebellion and a, sometimes less sometimes more intense, war with the Turkish government, which claimed thousands of lives on both sides.Saker Kurds

Turkey is, unsurprisingly deeply unhappy that it’s erstwhile “ally” the US has been militarily and diplomatically supporting the same Kurdish forces that it regards as a terrorist threat against itself and against its (ahem, Islamic militant) interests in Syria.

A recent episode of RT’s Crosstalk put it best: Turkey, a NATO member, is now shelling and bombing the Kurdish forces in Northern Syria which are being supported by the US. Those US backed Kurdish forces are the ones who have been successfully fighting to destroy ISIS and other extremist Islamist militant groups (remember Kobani?) that are being funded and supplied by Turkey.

In essence, we have the ridiculous and dangerous situation of US proxies and Turkish proxies fighting a proxy war against each other.

And of course we now also have Iran and Russia in the region backing their own interests and geopolitical goals. With ordinary Syrian citizens in the middle of this destructive meatgrinder.

What could go wrong?

33 comments on “Turkey is in trouble and the US is part of it ”

  1. Sabine 1

    One could argue if the world War started with the first Iraq War in 1991 or the second most glorious intervention in 2003.

    But to say this is not a ‘world war’ is to be willful blind. It is just a world war that has yet to reach us in any physical way.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      Yep. Not yet anyways. I do worry though because it is reaching us in metaphysical, legislative and technological ways. Also trade, finance and the TPP are non-military ways this war is being conducted. Retina and fingerprint scans when going through the US, anyone…

      • Sabine 1.1.1

        bio metric passports are standard for german citizens. you go to wellington and get it done there now. When i jokingly said that maybe we should not have these passports considering our history i was asked if I wanted a passport. I got mine 9 yeats ago, and will have to renew it soon. This might be my last passport ever.

        • AmaKiwi 1.1.1.1

          “It is just a world war that has yet to reach us in any physical way.”

          +100

          It’s 71 years since WW II ended. Hardly anyone alive today experienced it. So it’s time for another one.

          I do not see any way to get people to stop. Brace yourselves.

      • ropata 1.1.2

        yep, the class war has been ebbing and flowing for over a century, the left were ascendant following ww2 but now all the gains have been ripped apart and our elite ruling class are wondering why the masses are getting restless.

    • Smilin 1.2

      This how the Great adventure began of course with a series of unrelated military and political events culminating in war except this time the focus in the middle east and not europe as the center point
      And the greater the disruption over time the more Europe will be drawn into the conflict directly
      A game of Pawns at present you might say

    • Smilin 1.3

      This how the Great adventure began of course with a series of unrelated military and political events culminating in war except this time the focus in the middle east and not europe as the center point
      And the greater the disruption over time the more Europe will be drawn into the conflict directly
      A game of Pawns at present you might say

  2. Ad 2

    It’s almost; What MORE could go wrong?

    Turkey remains the strongest model of an officially secular Muslim state in the world. How long can that last? I can seriously see Erdogan having another crack at constitutional change.

    • ianmac 2.1

      In Turkey there is constant shift towards abandoning the secular in favour of a Muslim state. This bothers a fairly secular people.

    • joe90 2.2

      Turkey remains the strongest model of an officially secular Muslim state in the world.

      Ya reckon?.

      The deep state is Turkish shorthand for a faceless clique inside the Turkish state that has, some claim, held the reins of real power throughout the republic’s 84-year history. There are some who see it on a continuum with the shady networks that “took care of business” (including, some believe, the Armenian business) in the last years of the Ottoman Empire. The deep state is held to be based in the army, but closely linked with MIT (the national intelligence service), the judiciary, and (since the 1960s) the mafia. It was during the 1960s that paramilitary groups connected to the right-wing, nationalist, and quasi-fascist MHP and calling themselves “ülkü ocaklari” or “idealist hearths” began to act as death squads, assassinating various figures identified as enemies of Turkish unity. Their most infamous act was the murder of the newspaper owner Abdi Ipekci. The man who pulled the trigger was Mehmet Ali Agca, who went on to win international fame by shooting the Pope.

      http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2007-06-06-freely-en.html

  3. savenz 3

    China does not need to go to war, they are quietly going about their business and are buying up NZ so that they own us anyway. Likewise with the trade agreements many countries can live here and buy us up anyway. John Key’s southern vacation and bread basket in the pacific going cheap.

    We then have 5 eyes so we can surveil everyone while they are here, so the US is happy.

    And now we have TPP on it’s way so we can keep it all going and the US and UK does not feel left out and still in control in the region.

    Under the National championed TPPA, Kiwi taxpayers can then pay all those foreign owners of our former assets to use our own water, power and housing and so forth. Some other nationals did not think it was right to rip off schools, but not John Key, why should schools be exempt from the rip off! Forget clean green farming, Monsanto and GM is on it’s way, likewise radioactive levels in food from those pesky nuclear leaks when climate change keeps upsetting the power stations. And don’t forget we have ISDS to make sure NO company or billionaire should have to pay tax on it. Taxes are just for poor locals, silly.

    http://www.globaljustice.org.uk/sites/default/files/files/resources/taxes-on-trial-how-trade-deals-threaten-tax-justice-global-justice-now.pdf

    Funny enough though, the locals can’t really afford to live on local wages anymore. Soon we won’t be able to afford to live in our own country, let alone own most of it.

    The smiling assassin, director of IDU chairman has done a fantastic job. And thanks to some of the All Blacks and MSM journalists and some Labour MP’s for helping making that happen. Every little bit of support, helps sell us all out!

  4. Stuart Munro 4

    Turkey is indeed in a difficult position. It was enjoying some success in Syria until Russia began bombing its allied populations.

    I tend to look at such problems in terms of legitimacy of interests. The Syrians in Syria (or Afghans in Afghanistan for that matter) have a greater interest in the future of the region than outside powers. Turkey and Iraq and should it arise Kurdistan have immediate interests also. Other powers should be discouraged from putting their fingers on the scales.

    Syria has become a ground for proxy war between larger powers. This is never good. It looks like Russia will prop up the Assad regime and work on destabilising Turkey. Europe might find the resulting carnage and refugees and especially large numbers of deculturalised young muslim people inconvenient.

    If the great powers were to seek to profit by the rapacious actions of their construction companies rather than those of their arms manufacturers for a while that might be better for everybody.

  5. Grindlebottom 5

    Ergdogan made a major miscalculation authorising the shoot down of that Russian bomber. I thought at the time he must’ve done it hoping to force NATO and the US to get in solidly behind him & take a more aggressive stance against Assad & his allies, and thus enable him to take on the Kurds while they were distracted with that.

    It’s looking likely Assad’s going to take back most of the territory he’s lost, though it looks largely destroyed. The US and NATO have been stymied by Russia. They clearly don’t want to risk antagonising Putin.

    I don’t know what ultimate outcome is likely now. I previously thought Syria was going to eventually end up split into separate states along sectarian/ethnic lines, with in particular a Kurdish state in the North. But that was when Assad was on the ropes.

    Kerry/Obama seem to be going out of their way to accept double-speak from Putin about a ceasefire to begin on Saturday. I don’t think he or Assad have got any intention of stopping their advances while they’re winning. I don’t think the US has any idea what to do, but one thing it’s emphatically not doing is threatening Russia. Simple fact is Russia was invited in by the Syrian government too. NATO I think only has UN approval to attack ISIS, not Assad.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      the ceasefire does not apply to Daesh or Al Nusra or any of the other militant groups classified by the UNSC as terrorists.

      • Grindlebottom 5.1.1

        I expect the ceasefire will effectively not apply to anybody not already on Assad’s side. Everybody else fits his and Putin’s description of “terrorist’, even civilians living in areas controlled by oppostion forces. I reckon the odds are this ceasefire will be on paper only and Assad / Putin will simply carry on (or have a short break and then resume) attacking everyone they’re attacking now, claiming they broke the ceasefire.

  6. Michael 6

    The world community must make it clear to Turkey that it won’t get any help to defend itself from the Russians while it continues to repress the Kurds. An independent, or at least heavily-federated, Kurdistan must be a non-negotiable precondition for deployment of NATO assets. As soon as Erdogan agrees to it, send the troops.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      “must make it clear to Turkey that it won’t get any help to defend itself from the Russians”

      hmmmm i may have missed something but wasn’t it Turkey which shot down a Russian plane, not the other way around?

      • lprent 6.1.1

        Turkey has been a NATO member since 1952. The NATO policy is pretty emphatic about responses to attacks on any member country. I suspect that Russia would not want to find out what that means. They certainly haven’t in the past. And I suspect that the technical and logistic capabilities of NATO members far exceed a economic failure state like present day Russia.

        Of course NATO is a defence agreement and doesn’t cover foreign adventures of member states. But Turkey appears to be doing everything inside or at its borders.

        However the bloated ego of the current Turkish president and his distrust of secular competence in the military has probably not massively diminished the competence and sheer size of the Turkish army. It is also towards the end of a massive two decade technological boost to their defence force capabilities which would cause the Russians considerable grief and would most likely roll over Assad’s Syrian forces (and anyone else who got in their way). Moreover they have the kind of localised power that would make occupation less of an issue.

        Erdoğan and his AKP aren’t exactly the kind of neighbours to upset.

        • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.1

          Turkey has been a NATO member since 1952. The NATO policy is pretty emphatic about responses to attacks on any member country.

          You know, in Sept last year, Erdogan was a guest of honour in Moscow, invited by Putin to attend the opening of Russia’s largest mosque the Moscow Grand Mosque. Boy have things gone down hill since then and I would say its Turkey which has been pressing down the accelerator.

          I think that most NATO countries saw through Erdogans clumsy attempt via the shootdown of the Russian jet to push NATO into a skirmish with Russia.

          You’ll note that a lot of NATO countries quickly distanced themselves from Turkey’s actions. A lot of NATO countries have stuffed economies too, you know.

          And of course Russia played it smart and didn’t react to the blatant provocation (other than to lodge diplomatic protests).

          That’s even though Russia concluded that US forces e.g. AWACs may have played a role in directing the Turkish F-16 in executing the ambush against their SU-24 bomber.

          BTW Turkey’s military has declared, independently of their politicians, that they will NOT be going into Syria without a UN mandate. I guess they’ve told Erdogan what’s what.

          I suspect that Russia would not want to find out what that means. They certainly haven’t in the past. And I suspect that the technical and logistic capabilities of NATO members far exceed a economic failure state like present day Russia.

          Why view Russia’s/USSR’s unwillingness to risk a nuclear war in Europe as some kind of weakness.

          Is Europe today not also full of “economic failure states”?

          And when speaking of NATO’s firepower…most of that is American, not European. The Americans have plenty of practice against third rate regimes and third rate militaries, but you will note that the outcomes of those conflicts don’t always go the way of the US.

          And I suspect that the technical and logistic capabilities of NATO members far exceed a economic failure state like present day Russia.

          Well, let’s use a concrete example.

          Russia has run hundreds of strike sorties a week for over five months using a few dozen planes which are based out of a single old airbase in Syria that is a couple of thousand kilometres from their own borders.

          Did you see the Americans or British or French managing anything more than a tiny fraction of that.

          And finally, a quote from Stars and Stripes:

          NATO remains by far the largest military force in the world, outstripping any potential rivals in terms of numbers and defense expenditures, according to annual statistics released by the alliance.

          The data also show that the United States still accounts for more than 70 percent of the total defense expenditures of NATO’s 28 member countries.

          My emphasis.

  7. savenz 7

    Let’s face it, when the US invaded Iraq against international law, they rolled the dice for any other Nation to do whatever they feel like too, in the name of terrorism or security as they like to think of it.

    Sometimes the preventative action for terrorism morphs pretty quick into terrorism itself.

    Now we are in free for all, invasions and bombing.

    If the US wants to pretend to have the moral high ground they need to lead by example.

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      “If the US wants to pretend to have the moral high ground they need to at least pretend to lead by example.”

      fify

    • Chooky 7.2

      +100 savenz…”when the US invaded Iraq against international law, they rolled the dice for any other Nation to do whatever they feel like too”

      …they broke international law and they undermined international law

      • Burton 7.2.1

        USA and Nato are backing terrorists. Flaunting (breaking) international law.
        USA has become the evil empire.
        NZ politicians are happily going along with the charade, as are all western politicians.
        Thankfully Putin has called time on their bullsh*t.
        Putin is the greatest statesman of our time. A Putin should be a metric by which politicians are measured. It would take 100 John Keys to make one Putin.

        • lprent 7.2.1.1

          Reads like either an idiot or a troll in my view. But it is an opinion, I will let it through. On probation After all there are mindless morons around who like Trump as well.

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