Pres. Erdogan sees Syrian Kurds’ advance against ISIL as “danger” to Turkey

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The leftist Kurdish Protection Forces (YPG) and their Arab allies, the Euphrates Volcano, continued their assault on Sunday on Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) positions in northern Raqqa Province in Syria, taking the village of Salouk on the outskirts of Tel Abyad. Tel Abyad lies on the border of Syria and Turkey and has been a significant supply route for Daesh to receive weapons and money from smuggled petroleum. Without a border with Turkey, the so-called caliphate or theocracy of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (the nom de guerre of Ibrahim al-Samarra’i) could be cut off from such resupply.

The advance of the YPG alarmed Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who complained that an extension of Kurdish control over the Turkish-Syrian border could pose a threat to Turkey in the future.

Last week Erdogan complained that the West was supporting Kurdish “terrorists” over local Arabs and Turkmen, whom its air force coalition was bombing in northern Syria.

The idea that the US is bombing Syrian Arabs or Turkmen in order to promote the Marxisant YPG is a little odd, to say the least. The US and its allies are striking Daesh targets, which has the side effect of benefiting the enemies of Daesh such as the YPG.

We may conclude that Erdogan is less disturbed at the idea of having a border with Daesh/ ISIL, proven mass murderers, than he is with the YPG. Erdogan has been mysteriously unconcerned by the rise of Daesh, and hasn’t given the US much help in rolling it back.

The YPG is the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which the US lists as a terrorist organization, and which was responsible for war crimes during its insurgency against the Turkish state in the 1980s through about 2002. The YPG itself has been accused of using violent coercion against rivals.

The US says it is looking into the allegations against the Syrian YPG Kurds. At the same time, Washington and its allies are giving them and the Euphrates Volcano aerial support against Daesh, which has allowed the rebel advance.

In the past week some 15,000 refugees from Tel Abyad and its hinterland have fled into Turkey, and some Turkish officials have hinted darkly that this policy is a deliberate one on Washington’s part, aiming at the ethnic cleansing of Arabs and Turkmen in northern Syria in favor of Kurds.

Pres. Erdogan blamed the airstrikes of contributing to the Kurdish group’s capture of Arab and Turkmen lands.

He didn’t note that those lands had been usurped by Daesh!

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Related video:

Wochit World: “Thousands Flee Into Turkey From Syria as Kurds Fight Islamic State”

11 Responses

  1. This is why Erdogan has to go. As it is, he’s reduced to complaining as Turkish ambitions to be part of the EU are more important than underhanded daesh support.

    “That’s a nice NATO membership you have there, Mr Erdogan… sure would be a shame if something happened to it..”

  2. “Erdogan has been mysteriously unconcerned by the rise of Daesh, and hasn’t given the US much help in rolling it back.”

    Its not a mystery. Besides that Kurdish animosity, his religo-political ideological leanings makes him have affinity with even the most extremist Sunni Islamist militants in ISIL, seeing them as assets to achieve a singular objective in removing Assad from power, ignoring crimes they commit on others. Not exactly the same, but something similar to Pakistan’s Afghan Taliban rationale.

  3. There are many hands in this killer poker game…all playing to see their proxies come out ahead…soon Israel and Hezbollah will work together in order to keep the Druze safe from Isis…at least until it is done…then back at each others throat

  4. He’s laying down some markers, because he is just as aware as you are that the Kurds can attempt to cut ISIS off from their source of resupply

    And if they do… then he’ll use Turkish forces to push the Kurds away from the border.

    I mean, let’s be real here: as far as he is concerned ISIS are His Boys, and he won’t let anyone tell him that it’s time to stop playing and come back inside.

  5. Why is Obama putting up with Erdogan?

    There are several very simple and effective things the USA could do to close the Turkey/ISIS border and stop the flow of oil from ISIS:

    – Oil pipelines are fixed objects that can not be protected, especially from bunker-buster bombs on buried sections and regular smart bombs on pumping stations. Every pipeline from Syria to Turkey should be destroyed. This will cripple both Assad and ISIS because neither has the resources to repair a massively broken pipe system. With the world glut of oil, the price of oil would not be effected the for more than day.

    – Oil trucks are easy to spot and easy to blow up. Sure some may get through, but many will not and it will dry up ISIS resources.

    – The USA should tell Turkey to either close the border tight, or the USA will do it by carpet bombing the border area, and if Turks get killed, so be it.

    It is time for the USA to make Turkey either cooperate or be punished. I suspect that most people in Turkey will want to cooperate rather than get in a fight with the USA and Europe, leaving Erdogan on a narrow, slippery plank.

    The USA is seen by a bully by many so we may as well use that reputation as an advantage. Sometimes situations call for just being nasty.

    • The US has bases in Turkey. If we start blowing up their oil supply, it could put US troops in harms way.
      Erdogan is profoundly unhelpful (focusing more on keeping Kurds down than ISIS down), but you have to go to a fight with the Turkish leaders you have, not the ones you want…

      • Pull the US troops out of Turkey leaving a nice big economic hole in turkey (US bases pump MILLIONS (and sometimes BILLIONS) into local economies. Once Turks see the USA pulling out, they will either cheer (doubtful) or get real unhappy with Erdogan – In either case the USA “wins.” If the USA wants to have an aircraft launch platform in the area, use Lebanon (and tell the Israelis to shut up and go away) or park a USN carrier in the eastern Med. If the USA wants to better supply the Kurds, there are other ways to do it besides through Turkey. Erdogan is treating the USA and EU terribly, so we should treat him the same way.

        • Sorry spyguy it’s one thing to bomb your allies, quite another to bomb a member of NATO……while I like the politics/economics of leaving the Turkish bases (or at least threatening to do so) and potentially pulling other economic support. The problem becomes who fills the vacuum and will they call your bluff…..tricky business.

        • @Jackthedogg – One of the things I learned from doing four successful start-ups (and two not so successful) is that sometimes it is best to radically re-think perspectives.

          The USA has been basically trying to extent the functionality of the British and French empires long past their “do not buy” date.

          Given the fact that China has awoken from a two hundred year sleep and is on track to once again be a major regional/global player like they were for 5000 years, it is time for the USA to completely re-think its relationships like a mature human. This includes cutting off negative relationships and figuring out who is best for the future .

          The USA should quit NATO and the Europeans need to figure out if Turkey is someone they want to go to war over. Europe has had this tangle of war treaties for hundreds of years and all it has gotten them is needless wars. Europe should tell Turkey that being stupid voids any war treaties.

          That being said, I did not say anything about attacking Turkey inside its borders, but did say the USA should use air power and the Kurds to shut down the Syria/Turkey border to starve ISIS for money and fighters. To facilitate that border closing, we should withdraw from Turkey and use other resources.

          Over the last 200 years the world has VASTLY changed, yet the USA approach to the world has not changed. We are still trying to follow the old British Empire script and that has accomplished nothing except continue the British/French examples of wasting huge resources the USA should be spending on its own citizens.

  6. Is the situation becoming similar to Pakistan’s enmity with India and their support of the Taliban? I hope not.

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