|Islamist Turkey’s Betrayal|
by Joseph Puder
The struggle for Kobani, the Syrian Kurdish town on the border with Turkey where the Kurdish forces alone are battling the barbaric hordes of the Islamic State, aka ISIS, is reminiscent of the Polish uprising in Warsaw against the Nazis in August, 1944. While the Polish Home Army fought courageously against the might of the superior armed Nazis, the Soviet Union’s Red Army stood by across the River Vistula, which divides Warsaw, watching the merciless slaughter of Polish civilians and the destruction of the city.
The Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan, like the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin before him, showed no consideration for the lives of innocent Kurdish civilians already butchered by the sadists of the Islamic State mercenaries. For those still alive in Kobani, unless rescued by outside intervention or supplied with heavy arms and ammunition, will also die a gruesome death. Turkish tanks, in the meantime, are ensconced on the crest overlooking Kobani. They can help save the remaining Kurds should Erdogan give them the order to fire on the ISIS fighters. But, just as Stalin wanted the Nazis to decimate the Polish nationalist Home Army, Erdogan is wishing for ISIS to destroy the Syrian Kurds.
What is puzzling in all this is the role the U.S. is playing. In his September 10, 2014 speech, President Obama said that, “military advisors are needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence, and equipment.” Hitherto, there has been no supply of equipment or training of the Kurds. In fact, the Obama administrations blind support for a unitary Iraqi state led by Shiite ruled Baghdad government is in contradiction with the realities on the ground. The Shiite-led Iraqi army folded in the face of the jihadi ISIS guerrilla offensive, and in the process, abandoning U.S. supplied heavy weapons including tanks, armored cars, Humvees, etc. The Kurdish Peshmergas alone hold the line against ISIS, and they are not getting the promised arms because the U.S. has long insisted that all sales of U.S. weapons must go through Iraq’s central government, despite Kurdish complaints that Baghdad had deprived them of promised military equipment and financial support.
Washington has not overruled Baghdad on issuing direct shipments of arms to the Kurds. The Iraqi government has demanded that all shipments to the Kurds arrive first in Baghdad. Iraqi officials have regularly blocked or delayed these shipments to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Erbil. Moreover, U.S. State Department regulations bar the KRG from purchasing U.S. made weapons without “end-user certificates” issued by Baghdad. According to the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy, “Baghdad is bent on wielding this authority to prevent the KRG from developing antitank and antiaircraft arsenals.”
The Kurds in both Iraq and Syria are the only effective fighting force, boots on the ground, capable of stopping the ISIS hordes. In Iraq, the Peshmergas, the Kurdistan Regional Government defense forces are facing ISIS while armed with antiquated Russian Kalashnikovs (AK-47) and machine guns mounted on open Toyota pick-up trucks. Britain, France and Germany pledged to supply arms, but the KRG, while welcoming such support, has yet to receive them.
In Syria, the Kurdish defenders of Kobani are encircled on three sides with their backs pressed against the Turkish border, and the only supply line is through Turkey. Erdogan and his government however, have branded the defending Kurds as terrorists. Erdogan has argued that the Kurds of Kobani are no better than ISIS. The New York Times (October 12, 2014) quoted Erdogan as saying, “The P.K.K. and ISIS are the same for Turkey…It is wrong to view them differently. We need to deal with them jointly.”
The P.K.K. is indeed considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the European Union, yet the P.K.K. has been in peace negotiations with Ankara, demanding not the destruction of Turkey (unlike Hamas’ aim of destroying Israel) but merely cultural rights. The P.K.K demands include use of the Kurdish language in educational institutions, reduction in the threshold for elections to parliament from 10% to 5%, greater decentralization, and the removal of all discriminatory provisions against Kurds from the constitution and other laws.
It is highly hypocritical for Erdogan to compare the P.K.K. to the fanatical Islamist group ISIS, when he has been one of the chief supporters of the Palestinian terrorist organization, Hamas. And, if there is to be a fair comparison, it would be between ISIS and Hamas, both seeking to create an Islamic Caliphate, and the expulsion of non-Muslims from the region.
Kobani is being defended by the People’s Protection Units, or Y.P.G., an affiliate of the P.K.K. Erdogan’s concern is that the Syrian Kurds might try to establish an autonomous region on the border, which Turkey wants to prevent. Again, Erdogan’s transparent hypocrisy is clear to see. He actively supports Hamas and Palestinian independence but seeks to deny the same to the Kurds, the end result being that he will allow the Kurds of Kobani to perish while at the same time looking the other way while the ISIS jihadists use Turkey as a corridor for their recruited fighters to enter Syria and Iraq.
Erdogan’s Turkey is a member of NATO, yet in 2003 he refused Turkish airspace to U.S. and allied forces on the way to Iraq. The New York Times reported (October 7, 2014) Turkish President Erdogan said “Turkey would not get more deeply involved in the conflict with the Islamic State.” Erdogan conditioned Turkey’s possible involvement in fighting ISIS on the U.S. giving greater support to the rebels trying to oust Bashar Assad, the Syrian President. Turkey has, moreover, denied that it has signed an agreement authorizing the U.S. and the coalition forces to use its airbases for operations against the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria. Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic told Reuters: “There is not an agreement; no decision has been taken with regard to using Incirlik air base.” He refuted U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s claim on NBC News ‘Meet The Press’ show on October 12 (2014) that Turkey had agreed to allow the use of the Incirlik airbase against IS.
The U.S. should react to the Turkish treachery by removing its airbase from Incirlik, Turkey to Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government. The U.S. should immediately provide the KRG with heavy weapons, including tanks, artillery, anti-armor rockets, and Humvees. The equipment should be sent directly to Erbil bypassing Baghdad. The State Department must change its regulations, and allow the KRG to become a certified “end-user,” instead of being at the mercy of Iranian controlled Baghdad.
The Wall Street Journal headline on October 15, 2014 reading “Turks Bomb Kurds, Not Islamic State” is most telling. It is in essence siding with the enemies of the U.S. and its NATO allies. Considering Turkey’s behavior as a NATO member, it is time to consider its leader – President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for what he really is – an anti-western pro-Jihadist dictator. If anything, in Kobani, Erdogan has shown the world his treacherous nature by betraying the Kurds with whom he has been negotiating peace.