Turkey Launches War On Islamic State's Worst
Enemies - The Kurds
By Moon Of Alabama
July 25, 2015 "Information
Since 2013 a ceasefire between the state
of Turkey and Kurdish PKK rebels in south-east Turkey held up well.
The government pledged some support for Kurdish cultural autonomy
and in return the ruling AK Party gained votes from parts of the
Kurdish constituency. The AKP government also has good relations
with the Kurds in north Iraq. It buys oil from the Kurdish regional
government and supports the kleptocracy of the ruling Barzani clan
in that autonomous Iraqi region.
The PKK is
a militant Kurdish organization in Turkey. The equivalent in Syria
is known as YPG. In Iran the group is called PJAK and in Iraq HPG.
The HDP party in Turkey is the political arm of the PKK. The PYD is
the political arm of the Syrian YPG. All these are essentially the
same egalitarian, secular marxist/anarchist organization striving
for Kurdish autonomy or independence.
Turkey has now reopened its war on the PKK Kurds
in Turkey, Iraq and in Syria. Turkish police rounded up hundreds of
Kurdish activists in Turkey and tonight dozens of Turkish fighter
planes attacked PKK positions in Syria and Iraq. This war is likely
to escalate and will be long and bloody. It will be mostly fought on
Turkish ground. How did it come to this?
The war on Syria and support by Turkey for even
the most radical islamists fighting the Syrian government changed
the relations with the Kurds. It is undeniable that Turkey not only
supports the Free Syrian Army but also the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate
Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Turkey is
the transit country for international suicide bomber candidates
joining these organizations. Weapons, ammunition and other goods are
smuggled into Syria with the help of the Turkish secret services and
the Islamic State exports oil to Turkey. The Islamic State is
recruiting in Turkey and is believed to have many sleeper cells
throughout the country.
When the Islamic State attacked Kurdish positions
in Kobane in north Syria the U.S. intervened on the side of the
Kurds. Turkey was miffed and at first blocked all support. The Kurds
in Kobane are, like the Kurdish rebels in Turkey, organized in the
PKK/YPG. They want an continuous autonomous region in north Syria
connecting all Kurdish enclaves along the Turkish Syrian border.
Ankara fears that such a region could be joined by
the Kurdish areas in south-east Turkey. This would be a threat to
the Turkish state. Turkey wants to
gain land in the war on Syria not lose any. Idleb and Aleppo in
Syria and Mosul in Iraq are regions that Erdogan would like to add
to his realm.
As the Kurds in Syria as well as Iraq had some
success in fighting against the Islamic State and increased their
territories the Turkish AKP government saw its plans in shambles.
Additionally the AKP lost in the recent elections in Turkey while
the Kurdish HDP party, for the first time in its history, joined the
Turkish parliament. Without a solid parliamentary majority Erdogan's
plan of becoming the almighty president over
a larger, Ottoman Turkey is finished.
To change the situation Erdogan decided to reopen
the war against the Kurds under the disguise of joining the U.S. war
against the Islamic State.
On July 20 a bomb exploded during a meeting of
young socialist Kurds in the southern border town of Suruç. Some
thirty people were killed and over a hundred wounded. Turkey
immediately attributed the attack to the Islamic State but IS never
claimed the attack. The Kurdish PKK immediately blamed the Turkish
state and accused it of collusion with the Islamic State. The next
day the PKK killed two Turkish police officers in revenge for the
secret audio tapes leaked of conversations between the Turkish
prime minister and the head if the Turkish secret service. They
planned a false flag attack against Turkish targets as a pretext to
invade Syria. The PKK assumption that Turkey colluded with the
Islamic State to attack Kurds in Turkey is thereby quite plausible.
claimed "intelligence failure" that allowed the attack seems to
be a mere smoke screen. The attack gives Turkey a public relation
talking point that it is fighting the Islamic State while in
reality Turkey is attacking those Kurds who are fighting the Islamic
On Wednesday Turkish police raided hundreds of
homes all over the country. The mass arrests was sold as an action
against Islamic State fighters. But beside a few well known IS
functionaries hundreds of Kurdish activists and leftists politicians
taken into custody. Demonstrations and riots by Kurds in
Istanbul and other cities increased. Today Turkish courts banned
Kurdish news agencies and media. Turkish media and the Internet in
Turkey are again partially
Why would Erdogan now launch a war against the
Kurds? What are his aims? These come to mind:
- Prevent the unification of Kurdish cantons in
north Syria which the Islamic State lost after the Kurdish
- Maintain secure supply routes to AlQaeda, the
Islamic State and other anti-Syrian groups with the long term
aim of incorporating north Syria into Turkey.
- Rally nationalist for a new round of
elections to Erdogan's side. Shut out the Kurdish HDP from the
next election to again win an outright AKP majority.
- Gain support from the Turkish army which is a
political opponent of Erdogan but sees the bigger danger in a
possible Kurdish autonomy.
Yesterday the Turkish government announced that it
would open the Incirlik air base for U.S. attack flights against the
Islamic State. It also claimed that the U.S. had agreed to set up a
no-fly zone over Syria. The U.S.
officially denied the later. Turkey fighter jets flew a few
attacks against alleged Islamic State targets in north Syria. The
Kurds say the Turks only bombed some empty houses. The official
plan seems to differ from what the Turks are actually doing:
Turkey and the United States have agreed on a
military action plan with the objective of clearing the
Turkish-Syrian border of jihadist terrorists in what the two
countries have called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)-free
The plan crafted by Ankara and Washington foresees the
deployment of FSA units to this area if ISIL is completely
cleared from that particular zone, which would both prevent the
Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) from further expanding its
influence towards the West and create a safe environment for
either sheltering Syrians fleeing violence or those who want to
return to their homelands.
Last night the Turkish air-force went on an
all out attack against Kurds in Iraq not against Islamic State
fighters or positions. Several dozens Turkish jets attacked PKK
postions in north Iraq. These jets allegedly flew through Syrian air
space. This is an attack against the group that was, with
international support, most successful in fighting against the
Islamic State. One wonders how much of this part of the plans was
agreed upon with the United States.
Does the U.S. collude with Ankara in the now open
war against the Kurdish PKK? How then can it then continue to use
the PKK/YPG as an ally against the Islamic State?
The U.S. position is
Obama administration officials acknowledged the
PKK and YPG have links and coordinate with each other in the
fight against Islamic State, but they said the U.S. continues to
formally shun the PKK while dealing directly with YPG. The
groups operate under separate command structures and have
different objectives, the officials said.
Just two years ago, President Barack Obama told Turkey the U.S.
would continue to aid its battle against PKK “terrorists.” The
U.S. continues to share intelligence about the PKK with Turkey,
and military officials from the two countries sit together in an
Intelligence Fusion Cell in Ankara established by the George W.
Bush administration to help Turkey fight the group.
But now, “the U.S. has become the YPG’s air
force and the YPG has become the U.S.’s ground force in Syria,”
said Henri Barkey, a former State Department analyst on Turkey
now at Lehigh University.
Again, the PKK and the YPG are not really distinct
organizations. They are essentially the same. It seems that the U.S.
is now helping the Turkish government, which supports the Islamic
State, to target Kurdish positions while at the same time giving air
support to the same Kurds against the Islamic State.
Who in Washington came up with such a lunatic
policy position and what is the real aim behind it?