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October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
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Turkey Becomes Entangled

The Iranian nuclear issue and the chain of disasters that the people of the Middle East have brought upon themselves, called the "Arab Spring," have placed Turkey in a rather bleak situation.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Photo Credit: swiss-image.ch/E.T. Studhalter

Recently, on this stage we have dealt with the increasing tension between the Sunnis and the Shi’ites in the Middle East. The coalitions, which are hostile to each other, reflect this inter-ethnic tension: on one side is the Shi’ite coalition that comprises Iran, Iraq and Hizb’Allah, which support the bloody, Shi’a-aligned Alawite regime, and on the other side is the Sunni coalition whose members are Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as a few other countries who offer background support, principally Jordan and Egypt. The war of Gog the Shi’ite against Magog the Sunni has been in progress since March 2011 on the soil of Assyria, modern Syria.

Today we will focus on the Turkish-Kurdish-Egyptian triangle, in which interests trump principles, the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend, the  beloved of yesterday is the despised of today, hollow slogans and warnings are not backed up by deeds, regional superpowers threaten each other, the economy of yesterday is not the economy of today, and the forecast for the future contradicts the plans of the past. The whole regional alignment that Erdoğan and Davutoğlu planned has collapsed on the heads of the Turks who already are not cheering for Erdoğan as if he was the Almighty’s all-powerful deputy. In his distress, he searches out new friends, but – alas – it turns out that they are beggars, desperately poor. Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.

The Syrian morass is about to drown the Assad regime in blood, fire and tears, but it may also pull Turkey into its bedlam as well. It is clear to everyone that the Assad regime will fall, and the question is who will be there to grab as much as possible of what’s left of Syria; who will emerge with the least damage from this country’s all-out war, and who would gamble today on a horse that will either win or be dead tomorrow.

The Kurds are the Big Winners

After the First World War, when, under European influence,  the superpowers divided up the Middle East into states, the Kurds were forgotten, neglected and betrayed. They were divided up among four states: Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran. No one took their national aspirations seriously, and everyone thought that the Kurds would  abandon them. The fact that they suffered oppression in all of these four states, as well as having a unique language and culture, enabled them to preserve themselves as a living and viable ethnic unit with aspirations of brotherhood and independence that were expressed over the years in bloody battles for their freedom. But the sectarianism and the tribalism among the Kurds did not help them in achieving their shared goals.

The “Kurdish Spring” began twenty-two years ago, when Saddam Hussein was prohibited from flying his air force over the Kurdish district of Iraq. When the skies became free of enemies, it allowed the Kurds to develop social and political mechanisms that resulted in the creation of the independent Iraqi Kurdistan: A flag, political parties, media, elections, parliament, government, an economic system and more than anything else, the Pesh-Merga, an army that fiercely defends all that the Kurds have achieved. These are the components of independence that Iraqi Kurdistan has been enjoying for years with the protection of the United States, in spite of Turkey’s wrath. Iraqi Kurdistan has become a base for the organization, training and arming of the “Kurdish Workers’ Party”, PKK, which conducts bloody warfare against the Turkish government.

The actual independence that Iraqi Kurdistan has succeeded to establish, mainly since the downfall of Saddam in 2003, has encouraged and energized the Kurds of Turkey to struggle for independence from the yoke of the Turks. The declining efficacy of the Syrian regime since March 2011 has caused the Kurds of Syria to take up the idea of independence as well. Most Kurds in Syria live in the district of Hasaka in the Northeast section of the country, close to Iraqi and Turkish Kurdistan.

In recent months many Kurds have moved from Syria to Iraq in order to train and organize fighting units in Kurdish military camps (Pesh-Merga),  and then return to Syria to defend their families there. When the Syrian Kurds also realize the dream of freedom, Erdoğan will have to cope with three Kurdish fronts: Iraqi,  Syrian and local. He wants Assad to be overthrown, but is not at all gratified by what is already occurring in the field: the disintegration of Syria and the development of another Kurdistan in Syria.

About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.


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