This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The NATO Member and U.S. Ally

"They say, 'Don't go to al-Bab'. We are obliged to, we will go there. We have to prepare a region cleansed from terror."
"Recently the Republicans’ nominee (sic) Mrs. Clinton similarly said she would continue to support the PYD. A very unfortunate statement. I think the meaning of making such a statement in politics is quite different. In fact, I see this as a political novelty."
"This [arming the Kurds] must not be done because the region has sensitivities. Are you not aware that you have caused the killing of 600 thousand people with these weapons you gave? Where is the importance of human life?"
"They say ‘well, I have got weapons, let the bombs rain down from the skies, who cares if those killed are Muslim."
"[The [anti-IS] coalition represents 63 countries, all of them relying on] a bunch of PYD people [to fight IS. Turkey would never stand for] the creation of a terror corridor [in northern Syria, the Kurdish autonomous region]."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

"The presence of Turkish military units inside the Syrian border is totally unacceptable in any form. We will deal with them as an occupying force and will confront them by all possible means."
"[Turkey is guilty of] flagrant aggression, which targeted innocent citizens [Syria considers this] a dangerous development that could escalate the situation."
"Any attempt to once again breach Syrian airspace by Turkish war planes will be dealt with and they will be brought down by all means available."
Syrian Army General Command

"As for reports of Turkish Air Force airstrikes in northern Syrian regions, we have heard about these statements. We are very alarmed about what is happening. As I understand it, we are talking about attacks on areas inhabited by the Kurds."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
A Turkey-backed rebel fighter in Marea shoots towards Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) in Tel Rifaat [Khalil Ashawi/Reuters]
A Turkey-backed rebel fighter in Marea shoots towards Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) in Tel Rifaat [Khalil Ashawi/Reuters]
Erdogan, determined to make his mark as the resurgent Ottoman Sultan in Iraq and Syria, both of whose governments warn Turkey to withdraw from within their sovereign borders. He speaks of his concern for human life -- Muslims in particular, while relentlessly bombing Kurds in Turkey and Syria, outraged that the U.S.-led coalition is so heavily dependent on the Kurdish militias. This dependence on their determination and fighting skills owes entirely to the fact that they have proven repeatedly they can be trusted and they are committed to the defense of not only Kurdish enclaves but also for the lives of Christians and Yazidis seeking haven with them.

Erdogan obviously has missed his political lessons in American political parties and their candidates as being irrelevant to his understanding of what motivate the United States in deliberating on who, how and why. He appears as well deliberately oblivious when it suits him to what he most certainly knows is the source of the hundreds of thousands of fatalities that have taken place in Syria; adducing that the ultimate responsibility of those deaths must be the United States for selling weapons to the Syrian military, not the regime's deliberate deadly response to sectarian protests is just too obtuse.

Erdogan is rather a late-comer to the NATO alliance members' war on Islamic State jihadis, since up until a relatively short time ago, Turkey saw fit to aid and abet those very same ISIL terrorists. When push came to shove, he had to make a choice and did so grudgingly, turning his back on those he had supported and was complicit in furthering their agenda, not only by sheltering them and offering Turkey as an open corridor for aspiring ISIL fighters from abroad to flow through to Syria, but conspiring to aid ISIL's black market in fossil fuel sales.

Turkish warplanes and artillery have struck Syrian Kurdish fighters in the north of Syria with the state-complicit news agency in Turkey advising that up to two hundred Kurds were killed as Turkey initiated a major escalation against Syrian Kurds whom he accuses of being allied with the outlawed Turkish PKK Kurds. Syrian rebels have been advancing under the Turkish bombardment to take a northern Syrian town held by Kurdish-led forces. Turkish tanks crossed into Syria close to the town of Marea, heading to Tel Rifaat, determined that no corridor where Kurds will be established next to the Turkish border will be facilitated on his watch.

Turkey, grimly states Erdogan, is prepared to embark on a mission to do the necessary in Raqqa, ISIL's Syrian stronghold for its caliphate, but never, ever in coordination with the Syrian Kurdish militias, a stance which fails to sit well between Turkey and the United States, and which perhaps bemuses Moscow, which has agreed to its own self-interested arrangements with Turkey. That Russia and Turkey are on opposite sides in supporting Bashar al-Assad no longer appears an impediment to their improved relations.

Washington's trust and backing of the YPG Syrian Kurds is a reflection of their effectiveness as fighters well prepared to do battle with Islamic State. The Syrian Kurdish successes on the battlefield fuel Erdogan's fears that their advance will serve to give heart to the Turkish separatist Kurds. Turkey talks of driving Islamic State from its captured towns and villages, but focuses its efforts on putting up roadblocks against the advance of the Syrian Kurdish fighters. A situation not dissimilar to Russia and Syria declaring their targets to be ISIL, while besieging and bombing Sunni Syrian rebels.

Smoke rises from a bomb attack south of Mosul, during an operation to attack Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq, Oct. 20, 2016.  (photo by REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani)

Turkey continues to focus on battling the Kurds. Kurdish fighters reported an intense attack with tanks and heavy shelling. A senior commander confirmed the Turkish attack on his forces north of Aleppo. His description of the fighting was brutal, but he dismissed Turkey's claims of having killed a large number of the Kurdish militias; no more than ten fighters had been killed, he emphasized. Whether ten or two hundred, what Turkey has commended itself for is precisely what Erdogan has given pained voice to as violent persecution of Muslims.
Turkish planes have even been on bombing missions close to Aleppo. It is difficult to ascertain whether Moscow really is perturbed by Turkey's bombing of Syrian Kurds. But since they are allied with Syria's regime and the regime is equally livid as is Iraq over Turkey's intervention in both conflicts since it seems obvious by Ankara's direction that the Turkish military is not focusing on Islamic State jihadis, but remains fixated on bombing Kurdish enclaves, the lives of innocent Kurds really do lie at Erdogan's paranoid feet.
And even while a relative lull occasioned by a 'humanitarian pause' announced by Syria and Russia was taking place, Turkish jets escalated their bombing in Aleppo province. The presence of Turkish troops on Syrian soil, according to the Syrian military, is a "dangerous escalation and flagrant breach of Syria's sovereignty". Any Turkish warplanes entering Syrian air space would be shot down, warned the Syrian military. Perhaps this is an issue urgent enough for Damascus to more fully discuss with Moscow, in its refreshed alliance with Turkey.

A Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jet
© AP Photo/ Anatolia, Kenan Gurbuz

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