Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Turkey on the Verge of War with the Kurds

Turkey's parliament approved by a large majority on Wednesday a government request to allow troops to cross into northern Iraq to crush Kurdish rebels based there. Are we going to allow WW III to happen right before our eyes? This is not something that was not imagined before the Iraq war. Everyone knew this was a possibility. We cannot act surprised when this happens.

The Kurds have a long history with Turkey. The Kurds are a large and distinct ethnic minority in the Middle East, numbering some 25-30 million people. The area that they have inhabited--referred to on maps for centuries as "Kurdistan"--spans modern day Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Half of the Kurds reside in Turkey, where they comprise over 20 percent of the Turkish population.

Modern Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal (better known as Atatürk--"father of the Turks"), enacted a constitution 70 years ago which denied the existence of distinct cultural sub-groups in Turkey. As a result, any expression by the Kurds (as well as other minorities in Turkey) of unique ethnic identity has been harshly repressed. For example, until 1991, the use of the Kurdish language--although widespread--was illegal. To this day, any talk that hints of Kurdish nationalism is deemed separatism, and grounds for imprisonment.

For more go here.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

World War III is nearly upon us...run for cover because it is coming it seems.

Hobogomil said...

The genocide-statement issue is now at the no-brainer stage, and was always the right action to take.

Pelosi's caving to the long over-abused 'support the troops' blackmail is unacceptable. There are numerous good reasons for the Democratic leadership to follow through on a condemnation of the Armenian genocide:

1) Morally, it's an atrocity that did happen and should be recognized now that it's on the table so squarely - in and of itself, independent of any other concerns; our international relations teams are there to handle exactly such fallout.

2) Geopolitically, it's important to recoup some of our soft power (obliterated by the Bush admin)wherever we can; we drive for an Iranian war in no small part for our 'ethical' stand against Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denying and nuclear development - how soft-powerlessly hypocritical would our triply-evident pattern of double standards on Turkey, India and Israel be now???

3) Diplomatically, we can't let the diaphanous Turkish blackmail here succeed - they and anyone with any role in Iraq get further precedent to walk all over the US in public or in other issues or in other fora around the globe. Note Putin's lovely timing of late...

4) Ethically and spiritually, we have no obligation - never have, and never should have let ourselves be manipulated into a false sense of one - to support an patently immoral war. It should be of little weight that Operation Iraqi Freedom will be broadly compromised if we upset Turkish cooperation in promoting democracy and humanity abroad.

5) Logically and militarily, the practical realities contradict and eviscerate the specific counterarguments of impeding offensive progress in Iraq and/or complicating withdrawing/supporting our troops. We conquered and occupied the country easily (if shamefully) w/o Turkish assistance, and it's always been pure myth BOTH that withdrawal would lead to any lack of support thereto for the process, and that withdrawal of any supposed kind would significantly jeopardize the short-term safety of our troops en route. Redirecting air cover and strike capabilities from the EXTRA carrier forces we have now in the Gulf to Iraq only actually compromise the option of an IRAN war, and would - along with gratefully obeisant standing-aside of the broad Iraqi factionality (except miniscule Al Qaeda) - only enhance the safety of troops from current risk during any withdrawal or support operations.

6) Strategically, the dominant Turkish Muslim population and the Kurd-deedicated Turkish military have only been waiting for this opportunity for this rift; it is inevitable and other excuses would be seized upon (and milked) until it occurs. We protect no strategic alliance in any meeaningful or enduring way by caving in such spineless fashion.


The ramifications of caving here and now are much more dire by far than showing integrity for once.