Archive for the ‘Turkey’ Category

Democratic autocracies

April 16, 2017

The trend is clear.

Democratic elected autocrats is political evolution in motion.

We already have Czar Vladimir, Maharaja Modi and King Barack succeeded by King Donald. The squabbling kingdoms of Europe are drifting without any clear vision or direction.

Now comes Sultan Erdogan.

It is the sign of things to come.

image The Economist

Democracies have probably become too wishy-washy, too soft and very close to anarchic mob rule. This development may well be a necessary political evolution.


 

Erdogan has “proof” that Obama has been supporting ISIS

December 27, 2016

Hard on the heels of Obama’s betrayal of Israel in the UN Security Council, now comes Erdogan’s accusation – and he says he has proof – that Obama has been supporting ISIS. Now Russia, Turkey and Iran have sidelined the US and the EU from the Syrian process, and Russia has announced today that peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups would begin in Kazakhstan. The Obama/Kerry strategy is in  tatters as it is, and now Erdogan’s accusation gives weight to the suspicion that Obama has even been prepared to support ISIS and other terrorist organisations in his zeal to get rid of Assad. Erdogan made his accusationa at a press conference on Tuesday.

Express: 

ISLAMIC State militants are being supported by America, blasts Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan, who claims to have proof at his disposal.

In the wake of two members of the Turkish military being savagely burnt to death by ISIS jihadis, Erdogan has launched a stinging attack on the Obama government, accusing it of supporting the terror cell. 

The 62-year-old, who recently survived a military coup, said: “They (US) were accusing us of supporting Islamic State.

“Now they give support to terrorist groups including Daesh, YPG, PYD. It’s very clear. We have confirmed evidence, with pictures, photos and videos.” …..

Turkey has rushed tanks and heavy weapons to its border and blamed the US-led coalition for inadequate air support after Erdogan’s forces encountered deadly resistence from ISIS militants – 14 Turkish troops were killed. 

SIS claims it has killed 70 Turkish soldiers during the conflict and just a few days ago the warped death cult released a video of two Turkish men being burned alive.

Turkey has entered into an arrangement with Russia and Iran whereby Erdogan’s forces will be awarded the strategic city of al-Bab should they wrestle it from ISIS’ clutches.

Obama’s foreign policy legacy has been dominated by paralysis by analysis and is a legacy of many failures. And now even his intentions, it seems, were not always good.


 

US and EU sidelined as Turkey, Iran and Russia sign Syria declaration

December 21, 2016

The opposition to Assad was primarily fueled (and maybe even initiated) by the EU and the US. It was a regime-change exercise where the expectations of the various rebel groups that Assad would be quickly overthrown did not materialise. The Obama/Kerry engagement in Syria can be characterised as being based on wishful thinking and without any implementable strategy.

Until the Russians intervened ISIS, the Al Nusrah front, Al Qaida and other diverse extremist and rebel groups were making daily gains. Turkey of course dislikes Assad, does not like any Kurdish success which helps the formation of a Kurdistan – or at least a Kurdistan which would include any part of Turkey. Nevertheless Turkey sees benefit in allying with Russia rather than with NATO – mainly because they always play both sides against the middle and certainly want to be part of any winning Russian coalition.

In any event, the EU and the US have had to accept a humiliating defeat of the opposition groups they supported in Aleppo. The French in particular have been extremely upset by the reverse suffered by their surrogates. (The attempt by Iraqi forces to retake Mosul with US support continues).

It has got to the point where now Iran and Russia and Turkey (along with Assad’s representatives) arrange meetings about the future of Syria where the EU and the US are not even invited.

But of course the EU and the US are full of high moral platitudes but have made it quite clear that they are not prepared to ‘walk their own talk’.

Countercurrents:

Yesterday, top Russian, Turkish, and Iranian officials met in Moscow and signed a declaration they billed as ending the US-instigated war in Syria. Coming after Russian-backed Syrian army units captured the key city of Aleppo from US-backed Islamist fighters, the deal shows that moves to improve ties between the three countries are continuing despite Monday’s assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov.

“Today, experts are working on the text of the Moscow declaration on immediate steps towards resolving the Syrian crisis. It is a thorough, extremely necessary document,” Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said at a meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Dehghan.

Shoigu dismissed US and European initiatives in Syria, declaring that “attempts to agree on joint efforts undertaken by the US or their partners were doomed. … None of them exerted real influence on the situation on the ground.”

The initiative was hailed by officials from Turkey, in a sharp turnaround from Turkey’s support for US-backed Islamist opposition militias in the early years of the war. “Now we are observing a very successful operation to liberate eastern Aleppo from fighters, the evacuation of the families of the opposition from Aleppo,” said Turkish National Defence Minister Fikri Işık.

Meeting with his Russian and Iranian counterparts, Sergei Lavrov and Javad Zarif, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said cooperation between Russia, Turkey, and Iran had “brought about definite successes” in Aleppo. He said he hoped “to spread it to other districts of Syria.”

The expulsion of the Islamist opposition from Aleppo and developing collaboration between Moscow, Ankara, and Tehran mark a major setback for Washington and its European allies. For five years, US imperialism tried to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by backing Islamist militias, a strategy it later expanded to include backing Kurdish nationalist forces in Syria, as well. While this operation was marketed as a revolution in the US and European media, it collapsed because the US-backed forces lacked any real popular support.

Though Turkey is a NATO ally of the United States, Ankara is reacting to the victory of the Syrian regime, Russia, and Iran in Aleppo by developing ever closer ties to Russia. During the launch of a Turkish-Russian joint investigation into Karlov’s murder, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara and Moscow would “not let anyone harm Turkish-Russian relations.” …….

It could well be that if Trump’s administration starts a pull-back from NATO expansionism, the much feared departure of Turkey from NATO could be on the cards again.

…… Amid escalating damage to the Turkish economy and fears that NATO allies, notably in Europe, might not intervene to aid Turkey in a war with Russia, the Turkish regime shifted its foreign policy. It began mentioning a possible rapprochement with Russia and the Syrian regime. In May 2016, Erdogan discharged his prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, who had previously declared that he ordered the shooting down of the Russian fighter, and apologized to Russia.

This set the stage for Washington and Berlin to tacitly back a coup attempt that nearly succeeded against Erdogan on July 15, and which Ankara blamed on Gülen’s movement. It was reportedly averted thanks to timely warnings from Russia. This inflamed the already explosive tensions not only inside Turkey, but above all, between Erdogan’s government and the major NATO powers.

The Turkish government has reacted by manoeuvring ever more desperately between its ostensible allies in NATO and the major Eurasian powers, Russia and China. In recent months, amid growing economic ties between China and Turkey, Erdogan has repeatedly declared that Turkey might join the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), claiming this would allow Ankara “to act more freely.”

This drew a sharp reaction from NATO. Visiting Istanbul last month for the NATO Parliamentarians Assembly, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg met with Erdogan and said, “I am sure Turkey will do nothing that could impair the concept of joint defence … and NATO unity.”

Above all, however, Ankara sought closer ties to Russia. Earlier this month, the Russian and Turkish prime ministers, Dmitri Medvedev and Binali Yildirim, met in Moscow. They agreed that “the normalization of the Syrian situation is a priority task for our countries and it will definitely serve to the benefit of the whole region, not to mention Syria, which is currently in a very complicated situation.”

On December 6, Yildirim criticized NATO for “hesitation” and “foot-dragging” in Syria: “Nice words are exchanged about defending civilization against terrorism. But the big terrorist networks challenging us today operate across borders.” He described the Turkish-Russian initiative as a push for a “forceful and united international front to eradicate terrorism.”

Turkey, Russia, Iran Sign Deal On Syria

Turkey, Russia, Iran Sign Deal On Syria


 

Uninvited Turkish troops jeopardise the assault on Mosul

October 21, 2016

Burak Bekdil has an article in The Gatestone Institute where he makes the case that

  • Turkey’s primary concern is not to drive ISIS out of Mosul but to make it a “Sunni-controlled city” after ISIS has been pushed out. And this ambition jeopardizes the planned assault on ISIS.
  • Turkey’s pretext is that its troops are in Iraq to “fight ISIS.” That does not convince anyone.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fancies himself as a reincarnation of Sultan Abdulhamid II who was the 34th and last effective Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. He reigned from 1876 to 1908. As Mustafa Akyol writes in Al Monitor:

Sultan Abdulhamid II (image Brittanica)

Sultan Abdulhamid II (image Brittanica)

In Turkey, there has been an unmistakable revival of the image of Sultan Abdulhamid II. The powerful Ottoman monarch who ruled the empire single-handedly from 1876 to 1909 is praised with a flood of articles in the pro-government press, endless messages on social media and various conferences and panels. The speaker of the Turkish parliament, Ismail Kahraman, a confidant of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, even hosted an “International Symposium on Sultan Abdulhamid II and His Era,” at the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul, a relic from the latter-day Ottoman Empire. The great sultan, Kahraman said, “is a mariner’s compass to give us direction and enlighten our future.”

It is – at least partly – Erdogan’s vision of a new Ottoman Empire with himself as a Great Sultan which has triggered Turkish adventurism in Syria and Iraq. A key defensive component of Turkish actions are to eliminate – or at least to block – Kurdish or Shiite influence. The aggressive portion is to expand and promote Sunni dominated areas and keep on good terms with Saudi Arabia.

Their presence in northern Iraq is uninvited.

Bekdil:

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi renewed the call for the withdrawal of Turkish soldiers from his country and warned that Turkey’s military adventurism could trigger another war in the Middle East. He said: “We do not want to enter into a military confrontation with Turkey … The Turkish insistence on [its] presence inside Iraqi territories has no justification.”

The Iraqi parliament said in a statement: “The Iraqi government must consider Turkish troops as hostile occupying forces.” Baghdad has also requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to discuss the issue. The UNSC should “shoulder its responsibility and adopt a resolution to end to the Turkish troops’ violation of Iraq’s sovereignty,” said Ahmad Jamal, spokesman for the Iraqi Foreign Ministry.

That ISIS is a Sunni group undermines Turkey’s explanations for why they are in Iraq. It is the support for Sunnis and the supposed opposition to ISIS which makes Turkey’s actions seem schizophrenic. The simple reality is that Turkey would like “good Sunnis” to be in control in northern Syria and in northern Iraq. Even the barabarians of ISIS are preferable to the Kurds (and Shiites in Turkish eyes are almost as bad as the Kurds).

Ankara remains defiant. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that Turkish troops would remain in Iraq. Turkey’s pretext is that its troops are in Iraq to “fight ISIS.” That does not convince anyone. Turkey’s intention is largely sectarian (read: pro-Sunni) and Yildirim admitted that in a not-so-subtle way when he said that the Turkish troops were in Iraq also “to make sure that no change to the region’s ‘demographic structure’ is imposed by force.”

Turkey fears that the aftermath of a planned assault on Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and ISIS’s Iraqi stronghold, could see a heavy Shiite and Kurdish dominance in the Mosul area. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said: “Involving Shiite militias in the operation [against IS] will not bring peace to Mosul. On the contrary, it will increase problems.” Unsurprisingly Turkey’s pro-Sunni Islamists want Sunni dominance in a foreign country. This is not the first time they passionately do so.

The problem is that Turkey’s sectarian ambitions come at a time when the coalition is preparing a heavy offensive on ISIS-controlled Mosul. Turkey’s primary concern is not to drive ISIS out of Mosul but to make it a “Sunni-controlled city” after ISIS has been pushed out. And this ambition jeopardizes the planned assault on ISIS. ……. 

….. Turkey’s sectarian ambitions in neighboring Syria have ended up in total failure and bloodshed. Now Ankara wants to try another sectarian adventure in another neighboring and near-failed state, under the pretext of “bringing stability.” Yildirim said that Turkey “bears responsibility for stability in Iraq.” That is simply funny. You cannot bring stability to a country that looks more like a battleground of multiple religious wars than a country with just a few hundred troops.

Now that the assault on Mosul has started, it is already reported that the Turks are complicating and hindering the advance. Presumably they are trying to hinder Kurdish and Shiite forces and trying to assist the Iraqi Sunni forces.

Swedish Radio:

“Turkey jeopardizes the entire military operation by setting their insane demands”, says Mahmoud. “We do not want anyone other than the Iraqi army and peshmerga forces involved here on the Nineveh Plain”, he says.

Altercation between Turkey and Iraq have become increasingly poisonous in recent days. Iraq’s prime minister has told Turkey to stay out of the Mosul operation, while Turkish President Erdogan responds that it is out of the question, and at the weekend the Turkish newspapers published old maps of the Ottoman Empire which included Mosul.

Erdogan also stamped the Iraqi government as sectarian and fanatical. In Baghdad Shiite Muslims demonstrated against Turkey and demanded an end to the Turkish occupation of northern Iraq, referring to the soldiers at the military base Bashiqa.

The increasingly serious contradictions also reflects the regional power struggle, where Sunni Muslim Turkey is now viewed by many here as part of the Saudi sphere of influence, while the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government is considered part of Iran’s sphere of influence.


 

Something fishy with the “attempted coup” in Turkey

July 17, 2016

The attempted coup was pretty inept and not at all representative of the skills and organising abilities of the Turkish army. It could have been that it was just a small group involved. But the purge that Erdogan is now carrying out against Hizmet and supporters of Fethullah Gülen (3000 military and 2500 judges detained so far) begins to give weight to the theory that the failed, inept, coup was stage-managed by Erdogan, just to have an excuse to move against Hizmet.

Fethullah Gülen (image Reuters/ BBC)

Just another conspiracy theory. Perhaps. But as conspiracy theories go, this is a rather simple intrigue by the standards of intricate, Byzantine plots. It could be that Erdogan is just being an opportunist and is using  a “genuine” coup attempt to now crack-down on Gülen supporters. But, I would not be at all surprised if it had all been orchestrated by Erdogan.

Reuters: 

U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose followers Turkey blames for a failed coup, said on Saturday the attempted overthrow may have been staged, and he urged the Turkish people not to view military intervention in a positive light.

“There is a slight chance, there is a possibility that it could be a staged coup,” Gulen told reporters through a translator in Pennsylvania, where he resides. “It could be meant for court accusations and associations.”

Gulen said democracy cannot be achieved through military action. He criticized the President Tayyip Erdogan’s government. “It appears that they have no tolerance for any movement, any group, any organization that is not under their total control,” he said.

Whether staged or not, Erdogan wins. He is obsessed with Fethullah Gülen and his supporters and what he calls their “parallel state”. It is not a coincidence that Gülen’s supporters tend to be much better educated than the mass support that Erdogan so successfully mobilises.


 

We’re having a heat wave, …..

January 18, 2016

After 16 consecutive days with daily high temperatures between -12ºC and -18ºC, and daily lows between -15ºC and -24ºC, a blast of hot air is now passing over us from the south west. For about 12 hours we are told we may see temperatures as high as -6ºC before returning to less than -12ºC for the rest of the week.

Though the sun rises at 0831 and sets at 1543, the days are getting perceptibly longer.

Roll on summer.

heat wave 20160118

heat wave 20160118

We’re having a heat wave
A tropical heat wave
The temperature’s rising
It isn’t surprising …

Irving Berlin

In winter we spend most of our time in heated spaces at around +20ºC. In summer we cool our spaces to about 22-24ºC. We are after all, evolved for tropical climates.

If only the global warming fantasy were true (which it isn’t).


 

Turkey’s Byzantine machinations with people trafficking for Europe, oil trading for ISIS

December 3, 2015

Turkey (and Erdogan and his family) are living up to my perceptions of supreme Byzantine duplicity. They are involved in a particularly dirty game of complex intrigue and unprincipled double dealing in Syria.

The EU is going to pay Turkey some €3 billion to control the flow of refugees to Europe and for housing refugees in Turkey. The better the control that can be shown the greater the payment by the EU. Now Turkey has a mechanism in place to earn money from people trafficking. There is real financial benefit to show more coming in to Turkey across the border with Syria and to show that less of them are leaving for Europe. Moreover Turkish citizens now have visa-free travel to Europe. The fault lines in Europe are easy to exploit and Turkey is running rings around the EU.

Henry Barkey in Carnegie EuropeThat Europe is selling out to Turkey is perfectly understandable in this light. But many in Europe will perceive as excessive the deal reached by Brussels and Ankara on November 29: money, visa-free travel arrangements for Turkish citizens, and the opening of a chapter of Turkey’s EU accession process in exchange for better management of the refugees and steps to prevent them from reaching Europe.

The EU is coming out as naive and gullible and complicit in Turkey’s people trafficking games.

But far more damaging are the Russian allegations of the involvement of Turkey, and more specifically of the President’s son, Bilal Erdogan, in the trading of ISIS oil.

BBCRussia’s defence ministry has accused the family of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of being directly involved in the trade of petroleum with the Islamic State group.

Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov said Turkey was the biggest buyer of “stolen” oil from Syria and Iraq.

The Russians are getting very detailed about the involvement of Bilal Erdogan in profiteering from ISIS oil and even about Erdogan’s daughter providing aid and comfort to wounded ISIS fighters

MintPressNews: …….. Others reaffirmed Lavrov’s stance, such as retired French General Dominique Trinquand, who said that “Turkey is either not fighting ISIL at all or very little, and does not interfere with different types of smuggling that takes place on its border, be it oil, phosphate, cotton or people,” he said.

……. And while we patiently dig to find who the on and offshore “commodity trading” middleman are, who cart away ISIS oil to European and other international markets in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars, one name keeps popping up as the primary culprit of regional demand for the Islamic State’s “terrorist oil” – that of Turkish president Recep Erdogan’s son: Bilal Erdogan.

Byzantine Empire in 650 AD Wikipedia

William Engdahl writes in New Eastern Outlook:

More and more details are coming to light revealing that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, variously known as ISIS, IS or Daesh, is being fed and kept alive by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Turkish President and by his Turkish intelligence service, including MIT, the Turkish CIA. Turkey, as a result of Erdoğan’s pursuit of what some call a Neo-Ottoman Empire fantasies that stretch all the way to China, Syria and Iraq, threatens not only to destroy Turkey but much of the Middle East if he continues on his present path.

In October 2014 US Vice President Joe Biden told a Harvard gathering that Erdoğan’s regime was backing ISIS with “hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons…” Biden later apologized clearly for tactical reasons to get Erdoğan’s permission to use Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base for airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, but the dimensions of Erdoğan’s backing for ISIS since revealed is far, far more than Biden hinted. …..

The prime source of money feeding ISIS these days is sale of Iraqi oil from the Mosul region oilfields where they maintain a stronghold. The son of Erdoğan it seems is the man who makes the export sales of ISIS-controlled oil possible.

Bilal Erdoğan owns several maritime companies. He has allegedly signed contracts with European operating companies to carry Iraqi stolen oil to different Asian countries. The Turkish government buys Iraqi plundered oil which is being produced from the Iraqi seized oil wells. Bilal Erdoğan’s maritime companies own special wharfs in Beirut and Ceyhan ports that are transporting ISIS’ smuggled crude oil in Japan-bound oil tankers. ….

… In addition to son Bilal’s illegal and lucrative oil trading for ISIS, Sümeyye Erdoğan, the daughter of the Turkish President apparently runs a secret hospital camp inside Turkey just over the Syrian border where Turkish army trucks daily being in scores of wounded ISIS Jihadists to be patched up and sent back to wage the bloody Jihad in Syria, according to the testimony of a nurse who was recruited to work there until it was discovered she was a member of the Alawite branch of Islam, the same as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who Erdoğan seems hell-bent on toppling. …….. 

I note that though Turkey is part of the US coalition, they have only attacked Kurdish fighters in their strikes in Syria. And now they have also shot down a Russian fighter which was threatening their oil from Da’esh. I am left with the perception that Turkey’s priority is overwhelmingly the suppression of the Kurds. Anything is acceptable to prevent a Kurdistan getting off the ground (let alone a greater Kurdistan). The second priority is to stir the conflict to make it as lucrative as possible for Turkey and its ruling families. Getting rid of Assad is also on their list, but not at the price of advancing the Kurds. If Da’esh (ISIS) is to take over from Assad and curb the Kurds, then that is perfectly acceptable. To fight Da’esh is not even explicitly on their list as an objective.

Why Barack Obama and John Kerry put up with the Turkish duplicity is not clear to me. That Turkey is a member of a belligerent and expansionist NATO (What has Turkey to do with the North Atlantic? and now Macedonia?), may provide some explanation. But recalling the way in which Biden changed his tune suggests that US “principles” are fairly flexible here. Unless Turkey’s protection of the flow of funds to Da’esh is stopped, no strategy to eliminate them can succeed. (Of course to stop the “idea” of Da’esh, requires that Saudi Arabia stop playing games). Now with Raqqa under attack it seems Turkey is also complicit in allowing Da’esh members to escape to Libya to set up an alternative “safe zone”.  Such a Turkey as a member of the EU and as its first majority Muslim country is almost frightening.

Turkey is “against” Kurdish separatism much more than it is “against” ISIS

October 14, 2014

I remain of the opinion that Turkish government policy is dominated by being against any Kurdish unity or separatism even if it means that their actions may assist ISIS. A Greater Kurdistan with access to oil wealth is a much greater fear than any new Caliphate. Two reports today only serve to strengthen my perception of Turkey walking the tightrope between NATO membership and an application to join the EU on the one hand, and their reluctance to intervene against ISIS if it helps the Kurds to consolidate their territory and attacks on PKK on Turkish territory on the other.

BBC: Turkish jets bomb Kurdish PKK rebels near Iraq

Turkish F-16 and F-4 warplanes have bombed Kurdish PKK rebel targets near the Iraqi border, as their ceasefire comes under increasing strain. The air strikes on Daglica were in response to PKK shelling of a military outpost, the armed forces said.

Both sides have been observing a truce and it is the first major air raid on the PKK since March 2013.

Kurds are furious at Turkey’s inaction as Islamic State (IS) militants attack the Syrian border town of Kobane. Fighters from the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) have been aiding Kurdish YPG militia in Kobane and Turkey has refused to help supply its long-standing enemy with weapons or allow Kurdish fighters to enter Syria.

NYT: Turkey Denies Reports of Deal for Use of Its Bases in Fight Against Islamic State

A day after American officials said Turkey had agreed to allow its air bases to be used for operations against the Islamic State, which they described as a deal that represented a breakthrough in tense negotiations, Turkish officials said on Monday that there was no deal yet, and that talks were still underway.

US, UK and Turkey give up on Kobani

October 9, 2014

Neither the US or the UK see Kobani or its Kurds as having strategic importance. The US admits that air strikes alone cannot save Kobani. Turkey sees greater strategic value in not supporting the Kurds than in confronting ISIS.

As I thought, Turkey sees ISIS and their vision of a Caliphate as being a lesser evil than any future Kurdistan. Their reluctance to assist with ground troops to confront ISIS in Kobani has probably helped the US to stay out as well. John Kerry has confirmed what I suspected that helping the Kurds in Kobani is not a strategic objective (though one does wonder whether Obama and Kerry have any strategic objectives at all beyond public relations) for the US. The UK is content to follow where the US leads (or stays still).

ISIS must be quite encouraged by the US / UK idea of “a buffer zone for the influx of refugees crossing the border from Syria”. It suggests that the US and the UK have already given up on Kobani. They will effectively write off Kobani and put all the refugees into a miserable limbo. But it will help their ally Turkey from being invaded by more Kurds and in general a weakening Kurdish position. But they have no intention of protecting any such “buffer zone” from a rampaging ISIS. It will be nothing but a refugee camp with no exits.

Meanwhile the US-led air attacks against ISIS is giving Assad more room to attack his other opponents in Syria.

Deutsche Welle:

At a press conference on Wednesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry indicated that saving the besieged Syrian town of Kobani from the terror of the “Islamic State” (IS) was not a strategic military objective for the United States.

Joined by British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond to address the press, Kerry also said the idea of a buffer zone proposed by Turkey should be thoroughly studied.

“As horrific as it is to watch in real time what is happening in Kobani … you have to step back and understand the strategic objective,” Kerry said.

“Notwithstanding the crisis in Kobani, the original targets of our efforts have been the command and control centers, the infrastructure,” he said. “We are trying to deprive the (Islamic State) of the overall ability to wage this, not just in Kobani but throughout Syria and into Iraq.”

He said the US and the UK were considering a buffer zone for the influx of refugees crossing the border from Syria – an issue Turkey should not have to deal with alone.

The advance of IS into the Kurdish town of Kobani, which can be seen from the Turkish border, has prompted 180,000 residents to flee to Turkey.

Turkey continues to watch.

BBC:

Turkey’s foreign minister says it cannot be expected to lead a ground operation against Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria on its own.

Mevlut Cavusoglu also called for the creation of a no-fly zone over its border with Syria after talks in Ankara with new Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg. …… Activists say IS now controls about a third of Kobane after fierce fighting. Monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, quoting “reliable sources”, said IS was advancing towards the centre of the town from eastern districts. Earlier, a Kurdish leader in Kobane said IS had entered two more districts overnight, bringing in heavy weapons.

Mr Cavusoglu was holding talks with Mr Stoltenberg and US envoys on possible Turkish action against IS. “It is not realistic to expect Turkey to conduct a ground operation on its own,” he told a news conference. “We are holding talks. Once there is a common decision, Turkey will not hold back from playing its part.”

Turkey watches – while ISIS advances against Kurds

October 7, 2014

The US is bombing ISIS positions in Syria. But when ISIS advances against the Kurds in the border town of Kobani, Turkey – although a NATO ally – is content to watch. An enemy of the Kurds is almost a friend!!

Turkish tanks on the Syrian border near Kobani – image ibtimes

Of course nothing is simple in the Middle East.

But sometimes it seems to me that anything that weakens the Kurds is considered a “good thing” by the Turkish government. I have the feeling that even Turkey’s membership of NATO is subordinate to their goal of containing the Kurds and preventing the growth of a Kurdistan which stretches across part of present day Turkey. A “Great Kurdistan” as Ralph Peters’ map shows (from this analysis) is Turkey’s nightmare.

Great Kurdistan a Turkish nightmare – graphic Ralph Peters

For Turkey it is a choice between evils. They could well perceive that an ISIS Caliphate may be less of a geographic threat than a Great Kurdistan.

Caliphate claimed by ISIS – graphic zerohedge.com

The many ISIS advances also cast doubt on whether the US air strikes will be anywhere near as effective as Obama hopes and has proclaimed.

Our objective is clear:  We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy.

At Kobani, ISIS advances are not even being contained – let alone degraded and destroyed.


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