Thursday, December 20, 2007

More of Turks, Kurds, and other stuff

(Explicit Language, you have been warned)

Well, since the Turks are knocking the terrorists (wait, WP says "rebels" so they must be the good guys, right?) about in northern Iraq, I have had a number of email exchanges with concerned friends. As an outside observer, but having had the pleasure of standing in the same spot in Ankara a couple of days after a suicide bomber (also a "rebel" - shame on you, Washington Post!) blew himself to pieces next to the Atatürk statue, I suppose I could be allowed to offer an opinion on the matter.

Now, many in the US, as seems to be the pattern, choose to only remember the bad stuff - like Turkey saying no to the 4th Infantry Division's invasion route. Rummy and Cheney declared it to be so, and when the Turks did not heel up, they were to blame for the Iraq debacle.

Primarily Kurdish northern Iraq has been a poster child for US propaganda on the surface; construction is working, police are knocking out Arab terrorists, rather than using military might. Never mind the ethnic cleansing of non-Kurds in the cities, that would be bad press. But in Turkey's east, the ethnic Kurds are near destitute, since the PKK kills enough teachers to make the rest leave, as well as doctors. Without education, people stay stupid, and believe what the smarter ones tell them. Before you say once more that my GF makes me pro-Turkish, I have actually been amenable to Turks ever since getting into a fight for talking to a Turk in my elementary school playground in Germany. You know I generally don't take sides, and prefer to highlight other perspectives when it comes to what's now an academic discussion more than one of belief.

With the 4ID and Turkey, it's not as if US gear, other than that was used for normal NATO operations, was landed already; Rummy and Cheney falsely assumed that the Turks would take their billion dollar bribe and were caught flat footed when they didn't. Rummy certainly blames Turkey, but the lost ordnance came primarily from south of Baghdad, which US troops had reached in a week. Who fucked whom first will obviously be a matter of contention, with the Turks position being that the way it was announced, and then the billion dollar carrot made the ruling party lose the elections, and the new government wasn't about to throw themselves in front of the bus for Bush with the IMF/WB's fucking of Turkey, and the Gulf War One Fuck so fresh on everyone's mind.

I'll beg to differ with the securing the armories bit anyways since that's Rummy's big copout - it was never a part of the battle plan as announced, and while the 4ID's heavy equipment was delayed, the soldiers fly on commercial jets, and could have easily secured the armories would that have been in the plan in the first place. You don't need tanks in that case, especially with air support less than 10 minutes away.

The reason that the US "assists" the Turks is to stop them from rolling into the north wholesale, and wrecking the only part of Iraq that's even remotely functional. The Turkish military has lobbied hard for clearance from parliament to do so. What the Kurds want is for US-Turkish relations to break down - since something like 70% of US war materiel is trucked in from Turkish ports and comes through the US Airbase in Turkey, the Turks cutting this off would almost eliminate US presence in northern Iraq.

Pelosi's motioning of the Armenian Genocide was another stick in the eye for Turkey; I think they should get over it, but considering the time that has passed it would do more harm that good to Turkish-Armenian relations to order additional restitution. Akin to Germany paying to Israel for over 50 years, for the sins of its grand fathers - I am sure this has nothing to do with the antisemitism on the rise there now.

The other reason is that while Cheney and Bush see fit to piss on 50 years of cooperation with Turkey, the militaries are more closely intertwined that anyone wants to admit; remember the missile crisis, remember 9/11, remember Gulf War One, Lebanon, Libya and a number of other times where they stepped up to the plate and more than what a NATO ally would. The US military may be able to project might worldwide without help, but it sure is easier with convenient ports of call.

Happy New Year!

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