Streetwise Professor

August 14, 2015

Obama & Kerry: (a) Chump, (b) Patsy, (c) Mark, (d) Sucker, (e) All of the Above?

Filed under: Military,Politics — The Professor @ 6:07 pm

Apparently the administration is shocked! Shocked! that Turkey took advantage of its deal with the US to hammer its real enemy (the Kurds) while leaving its frenemy (ISIS) virtually untouched:

Turkey has launched a series of aggressive airstrikes against Kurdish militants but has yet to turn its firepower on Islamic State in Syria as expected, increasing concerns in Washington about the Ankara government’s intentions.

. . . .

But some U.S. officials suspect Turkey is using its recent agreement with the U.S. to fight Islamic State as cover for a new offensive against Kurdish separatist group PKK.

A senior U.S. official said Turkey gave American officials assurances last week that it planned to wrap up attacks on the Kurds in short order, but it has kept up the bombardments focused on the group’s bases in northern Iraq near the Turkish border.

“It’s clear that ISIL was a hook,” said a senior U.S. military official, referring to Islamic State. “Turkey wanted to move against the PKK, but it needed a hook.”

Who knew? This was evident within minutes of the deal being announced, and should have been eminently foreseeable. The US got conned. Played. Pantsed. Obama and Kerry were chumps. Suckers. Patsies. Marks. So yes, the answer is (e)!

But by all means, after seeing them getting totally taken by a duplicitous Middle Eastern autocrat, we should totally trust their assurances that they have this Iran thing completely under control. With such an abysmal record of diplomatic failures, of which this is just the latest, Obama’s superciliousness towards the numerous critics of the Iran deal (supercilious, when he isn’t accusing them of warmongering and treason) is an amazing thing to behold.

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  1. SWP, I understand you (a) don’t like BHO much, and (b) think the Iran deal is bad. But what outcome, exactly, are you actually calling for? Imagine for a moment that with suitable commitment of US resources the issue of ISIL could be overcome. Do you support an independent Iraqi Kurdistan? If so, why do you think Turkey will be OK with this, and if they won’t, how do you propose to make it work? Should it have sovereignty over Syrian Kurdistan? What about Turkish Kurdistand? Do you want to see an independent self-capable government in the territory known as Iraq under Saddam? If so, should it be a federal system with Kurdish self-determination and an oil-wealth sharing agreement amongst Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites?

    Basically I’m just confused about what the end-game in the region should be. For third parties such as ourselves, the objectives are already manifold. We want (a) to contain Iranian power, partly to support our Saudi allies and partly to curtail the threat to Israel, (b) to support Kurdish self-governance because we owe them, they’re one of the few semi-capable governing coalitions in the region, and because national self-determination is something we value, and (c) to support U.S. national interests in the region, which includes energy supplies, but is complicated by the viability of various supply chains conditioned upon the political situations in key transit regions. Point (c) is the stickiest, because it hinges upon stability in ISIL territory, Assad territory, and Kurdish territory, but I suspect you can shed some light. How should I be thinking about this issue?

    Comment by sflicht — August 14, 2015 @ 8:07 pm

  2. In other news, AKP-CHP coalition talks have ended in failure. Expect another election in November. Erdogan is clearly betting he can achieve a majority now that he’s bombing the Kurds.

    I’m not sure where he expects to pick up the votes. HDP took votes from AKP primarily by attracting socially/religiously conservative Kurds despite Western media swooning over HDP’s “liberal” appearance. Bombing Kurds is not an immediately intuitive method to win those votes back. Maybe he thinks he can suppress the Kurdish vote so they fall under 10%? He might hope to win some of the nationalist MHP votes, but I would think MHP voters likely will continue to vote MHP in hopes to force a AKP-MHP coalition.

    If CHP, MHP, and HDP leaders were smart, they’d agree on a limited government coalition to enact certain reforms they all share and keeping status quo on the issues that divide them. Then dissolve parliament early for new elections at a time of their convenience, not Erdogan’s. This is extremely unlikely to happen though.

    Comment by Chris — August 17, 2015 @ 4:49 pm

  3. @Chris-It all makes sense that Erdogan doesn’t have many moves on the board. Which suggests he might attempt to turn it over, e.g, by banningg HDP. I don’t know, but it seems like that’s the kind of thing a guy like Erdo would do when cornered.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — August 17, 2015 @ 7:04 pm

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