A War Of All Against All
August 14, 2015 12:12 PM   Subscribe

Why Turkey is bombing the Kurds more than Islamic State - "Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's bombing campaign — capitalizing on the nationalist, anti-Kurd sentiment that has been steadily growing inside Turkey — could help him regain his AKP party's absolute majority in parliament now that coalition talks have failed and snap elections are likely."
US military leaders were "outraged" when Turkey began its bombing campaign, giving US special forces stationed in northern Iraq virtually no warning before Turkish jets started striking the mountains... Erdogan has also complicated his party's relationship with Washington further: While the White House was relieved when Turkey announced it would allow the US to launch airstrikes against ISIS from Incirlik airbase in its southeast, the PKK is a politically contentious target.

The militia was working with US-backed Kurdish fighters to repel ISIS from northern Iraq and is also closely linked to the Kurdish YPG militia, which, backed by US airstrikes, has proved to be the most effective force fighting ISIS on the ground in northern Syria. Now the US is reportedly embracing an all-out partnership with the YPG to make up for the failures of its $500 million Syrian train-and-equip program — a move that is sure to anger Ankara and inflame tensions even further.
also btw...
  • A caretaker government attacks the Kurds, abroad and at home - "Erdogan has used bombing IS as cover for much heavier air strikes against the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq. Peace talks launched over two years ago have in effect ended. Hundreds of Kurds have been arrested. The PKK, which has fought intermittently for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for decades, has resumed killing Turkish policemen and soldiers. The PKK's attacks play into Mr Erdogan's hands; many believe it, too, is escalating the conflict to undermine the HDP's moderates."
  • The Kurds' chance for peace is being blown apart - "Many warn that the situation could spin out of control. Young Kurds born in families displaced by the earlier conflict tend to support the militants. In October 2014, protests against Turkey's lack of support for the Syrian Kurds fighting Islamic State (IS) led to street violence in which nearly 40 people died. Meanwhile the autonomous area carved out by Kurdish fighters in Syria, which they call Rojava, is fuelling dreams on the Turkish side of the border too. In Kurdish towns, the fresh graves of young fighters killed in Rojava, festooned with flowers and flags, testify to the growing numbers joining the struggle."
  • Turkey, America and the Kurds: Awkward allies - "Turkey had been edging towards taking a more active role in the coalition against IS for several weeks, which may well have been the trigger for the suicide attack. The reasons included growing alarm about the strengthening relationship between the Americans and the Kurds; active recruiting by IS inside Turkey's big cities; and worry over the damage being done to Turkey's reputation by its tolerance of IS."
  • By bombing the Kurds, as well as Islamic State, Turkey is adding to the chaos in the Middle East - "Erdogan's vainglory risks placing Turkey on the pyre of the Middle East. The AK party should ignore the president's scheming, get on with forming a coalition with centrists and resume peace talks with the Kurds. The PKK must restore the ceasefire: more than three decades of fighting produced only misery. Now that the PKK has abandoned its old separatism, negotiations on devolution and language rights offer the best prospect of peace. If Turkish and Kurdish guns were pointed at IS, rather than at each other, it would be better for Turkey, the Middle East and the world."
  • The YPG/J are radical feminists, with women fighting on the front lines and even commanding whole fronts - "The Kurds are trying very hard to change, to get out of the sectarian nightmare. So when Islamic State attacked those vulnerable Assyrian villages around the town of Tal Hamer, they fought for the Assyrians."
  • Kurdish fighters 'confused' by U.S. allegiance with Turkey - "So we now have this very complicated triangulation where you have the YPG in northern Syria working with the United States and the coalition actively fighting ISIS and succeeding... and at the same time you have Turkey, which just opened fire on the PKK (the Kurdistan Workers' Party separatists), their sister group in Iraq and Turkey."
  • Back to Fundamentals - "Corruption of a much greater magnitude... implicating President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his family, has gone untouched. A probe by Turkish prosecutors against Erdoğan in 2013 was clearly politically motivated (and driven by Erdoğan's foes in the movement headed by Fethullah Gülen, a self-exiled Islamic preacher), which gave the government the cover needed to quash the investigation."
posted by kliuless (16 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

To complicate matters even further - as though this situation needs that - the PKK is on the US State Department's Foreign Terrorist Organizations List.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:47 PM on August 14, 2015

This is my completely unsurprised face shaking slowly side to side, having known that if there was a way for this to get worse, it would.
posted by eriko at 12:50 PM on August 14, 2015 [5 favorites]

Thank for this post, k.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:53 PM on August 14, 2015

Erdogan is a fascist piece of shit. The PKK has reformed its ways and is no longer the old PKK and should be removed from the list. Not saying Ocalan is a saint or the Kurds don't have problems within, but in terms of progressive movement forward in the Middle East, they are breath of fresh air.
posted by symbioid at 12:55 PM on August 14, 2015 [6 favorites]

And so this provides a wonderful excuse for me to pull out my favorite current events-themed poetry of all time, Calvin Trillin's "The Kurds Are in the Way Again", written just before the 2003 invasion of Iraq:
The Kurds are in the way again,
And so, to our dismay again,
If we begin a fray again,
As it appears we may again,
It seems we must betray again
The Kurds: They’re in the way again.
It's a story that sums up pretty much every US policy intervention in the area for quite some time.
posted by zachlipton at 1:27 PM on August 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

Everyone is betrayed by American Foreign Policy. Even. and perhaps especially, Americans.
posted by srboisvert at 1:29 PM on August 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

If it's a good idea, is there a way for me as a private citizen to fund arming Kurds without falling afoul of "supporting a terrorist organization" (PKK). I know not all Kurds are PKK, but I'm politically ignorant enough not to know who's lumped with whom.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:01 PM on August 14, 2015

If it's a good idea, is there a way for me as a private citizen to fund arming Kurds without falling afoul of "supporting a terrorist organization" (PKK). I know not all Kurds are PKK, but I'm politically ignorant enough not to know who's lumped with whom.
Trying to give weapons (or money for weapons) to "the right people" without a deep, ongoing, and intimate understanding and relationship with those people has not, historically, worked out so well. I'm not sure that even with those caveats it's a good idea. Instead, maybe look for a way to give money towards helping the millions upon millions of Syrian people who are trying to rebuild their lives elsewhere? Turkey is doing what it can, but this is a crisis of enormous proportions.

CNN's How to help Syrian refugees. The BBC has a similar guide. CharityWatch gives ratings for various organizations working on the problem. CharityNavigator does too.
posted by daveliepmann at 2:17 PM on August 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

Meanwhile, American Christians traveling to the region to fight ISIS are abandoning the fight after learning that the Kurds that they signed up to fight alongside are damned, dirty reds.

What a bunch of fucking turncoat cowards!
posted by hal_c_on at 2:21 PM on August 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is my completely unsurprised face shaking slowly side to side, having known that if there was a way for this to get worse, it would.

I think it was John Stewart that did a fantastic bit on this in his final days. That was basically his take.
But, in a week where the Taleban denounced ISIS as being too hardcore, I think my sense of satire has died.

I wonder how many of those American Christians will end up stuck like this guy?
posted by Mezentian at 5:45 PM on August 14, 2015

This kind of topic is why we have war nerds: Don’t be fooled -- Turkey is attacking the Kurds
posted by 3urypteris at 8:45 PM on August 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

pando is paywalled now? Hilarious. War nerd it was nice knowing you.
posted by bukvich at 6:07 AM on August 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was once a friend of a middle class American, born to Turkish parents and went to somewhat elite American schools, e.g., RLS and Berkeley. He said the genocide of the Armenians was "too bad," and what the Kurds were receiving in terms of violent repression was perfectly fine. Arguing a simple right-to-life idea for both of these cultures made no headway. Oh, and the Greeks were considered with considerable negativity as well.
posted by uraniumwilly at 8:24 AM on August 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

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