german-foreign-policy.com (Oct. 8) – Western interventions and the expansionist interests of NATO ally Turkey are responsible for the dramatic situation in the northern Syrian city of Kobane. The conquest of the city appears immanent, in spite of the desperate defensive battle against the “Islamic State” (IS) terrorist organization that was still being waged on Tuesday evening. There are already countless casualties. Western interventions in the Middle East are ultimately responsible for strengthening the IS, which is on the verge of conquering Kobane. Iraqi Kurdish militia – unlike the Syrian Kurds combating IS – are getting support, also from the Bundeswehr, thanks to Turkey’s expansionist concepts. According to these concepts, which are being greeted with sympathy in the West, a “Kurdistan” state could be pried away from Iraq and linked to – or even integrated into – Turkey, in the hopes of weakening the area’s pro-Iranian forces and pit Sunni forces against Iran. These strategic macro plans, which are in Western interests, have led to the terrible situation in Kobane.
The desperate defensive battle was still being waged against the murderous advance of the “Islamic State” (IS) terrorist group Tuesday evening by Syrian Kurdish units in the Syrian border city Kobane. According to observers however, the resistance against IS’s encroachment hardly has a chance of success. The IS has succeeded in conquering areas of Kobane, and its militia is advancing toward the city’s centre. According to official figures, more than 400 people have already lost their lives in the fighting. Observers assume that the number of casualties could be much higher. Thousands of civilians are reported to still be residing in the city and there have been repeated warnings of possible massacres.
IS’s brutal aggression has once again shown the terrible consequences of the West’s Middle East policies. With the destruction of Iraq and the instigation of the Syrian civil war, the West has created the conditions for the rapid rise of the terrorist group. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) This aggression also clearly demonstrates the common as well as the conflicting interests within the Western Alliance. Whereas the Iraqi Kurdish forces, who are cooperating with Ankara, are receiving arms and training for combat against IS – particularly from the Bundeswehr – Syrian Kurdish forces are receiving no comparable aid in their defensive battle. This is because of Turkey’s strategic macro plans. According to these plans, which are being greeted with approval in the West, Ankara should refuse all assistance to the Syrian Kurds.
Turkish expansionist concepts
Neo-Ottoman Turkey: the possibility of the Iraqi and Syrian Kurdish areas becoming part of a restructured federal Turkey, in five to ten years
In a series of analyses, Günter Seufert, an expert on Turkey at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), has analyzed the basis of Turkish strategic macro plans. According to these plans, the lynchpin of Ankara’s relations to the Kurdish-speaking forces of the entire region lies in Erbil. For years, the autonomous Kurdish regime headed by Masud Barzani, has been quite closely cooperating with Turkey – on a mutually profitable basis of Iraqi-Kurdish energy resources in exchange for Turkish industrial products. Ankara began developing comprehensive concepts for expansion, when Syria’s collapse set, de facto, also its Kurdish-speaking region free. In early 2013, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, at the time Ahmet Davutoglu – today’s Prime Minister – declared that “it is high time” to “re-evaluate the artificial borders” created in the Middle East in 1916. Circles closely associated with him were speaking explicitly in terms “of the possibility of the Iraqi and Syrian Kurdish areas becoming part of a comprehensively politically restructured federal Turkey, in five to ten years,” wrote the SWP in April 2013. Ankara’s policy toward Syria is inseparable from this concept.
the dismemberment of Syria and Iraq will be at the expense of local pro-Iranian governments
Also important, in this context, are strategically motivated western pleas for a serious discussion of revisions of national borders throughout the region. A complete “revision” provides an opportunity of weakening Iran, because the dismemberment of Syria and Iraq will be at the expense of local pro-Iranian governments, thereby, by prying out a “Kurdistan” nation, opening the way for the creation of a “secular Sunni counterweight” to Shiite Teheran. In Washington, plans to this effect have recently been publicly under consideration. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) These plans conform, in many aspects, to Turkish concepts for expansion.
Against PKK and PYD
However, difficulties have arisen in Ankara’s planning. From Turkey’s perspective, it was indispensable to integrate the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), which still is extremely influential in the Kurdish population. Therefore, in late 2012, Ankara initiated comprehensive talks with the PKK, with the objective of having it renounce on founding a Kurdish nation in exchange for a certain federalization of Turkey. As the SWP reported last spring, the talks were initially proceeding very successfully (german-foreign-policy.com reported.), but became stalled over disagreements about how much federalization – or even Kurdish autonomy – should be included. Various tactical maneuvers have followed, with which Ankara has tried to weaken the rebellious PKK and, its close ally, the PYD (the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party) – the predominant force in northern Syria – in an effort to undermine the PKK’s position in the negotiations.
These maneuvers have included close cooperation with Erbil’s ruler, Masud Barzani, a long-time opponent of the PKK and the PYD, as well as “assistance initially to moderate Islamist and ultimately also to Salafist and jihadist groups in Syria,” which was “always aimed also at preventing Kurdish autonomy under PYD/PKK leadership in Syria,” according to SWP expert Seufert. This was particularly beneficial to the IS terrorists. The West – in the hopes of speeding up Assad’s overthrow – had tolerated this. (german-foreign-policy.com reported).
Until recently, Turkey and the West have had the same interests in tolerating and even promoting the IS. However, since the IS began openly threatening western positions, these interests have been clearly diverging. The USA and the EU countries have begun to wage war on the terrorist group, but Ankara, so far, has remained aloof. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan explained, that “Turkey is against the ISIS (IS) terrorist organization, just as it is against the PKK terrorist organization.” The population of Kobane, which has already suffered countless casualties and has to fear suffering even more, is the victim of this complex and contradictory network of Western interventions, projects of a new order and Turkish expansionist concepts. Kobane’s population will not be the last to suffer the consequences of external interference into the Middle East.
Other reports and background information on war on IS can be found here: Liberated by the West, From Kurdistan to Alawitestan and The End of an Epoch (I).