Friday, October 26, 2007

What if the Kurds beat back Turkey?

Front paged at Booman Tribune and ePluribus Media

Before getting into the ramifications of a Turkey/Kurd conflict in Iraq, I just want to point out that Saddam was charged with gassing the Kurds in the 1980s and that was one reason that he was an evil man whose country we must invade, yet it is ok for Bush offers bombing strikes against the PKK Kurds in Iraq for Turkey.

Now, there is quite a bit of hypocrisy there to begin with as we know how many times the surgical air strikes have hit wedding parties or other innocent civilians, while not coming anywhere near the “intended target”. And there is also the sheer lunacy of engaging the only group within Iraq (or much of the surrounding area) that hasn’t made life miserable for our troops or the “mission™”. They haven’t attacked our troops like the Sunnis (who are being armed by the US and a number of wealthy Saudis) or the Shiites (who were the ones we were supposed to be “liberating” in the first place. They aren’t harboring bin Laden, al Qaeda and the Taliban like Pakistan.

And they are unlike the rest of the region in that there has been a major issue with the Kurds splintering off and away from the rest of Iraq and be independent. Now, whether that is feasible or not (or whether it has been closer to reality since we invaded Iraq in 2003) isn’t really the issue here. The issue really is that the thought and possibility is out there, and it is feasible, certainly more so if certain events break one way or another.

Of course, there is also the little issue of this year, of all years, being the year that the US Congress has decided to piss Turkey off by condemning the Armenian Genocide that occurred between 1915 and 1920. So, could this be a hasty attempt at mending fences? Or is this just another ill-thought out knee jerk reaction to something that has rapidly spiraled out of control, only to be exacerbated by those who can’t do anything other than chest thump?

All that being said, there are a number of issues that certainly aren’t being considered by those who are making the decisions about whether we should stick our fingers in yet another pie that we have no business sticking our fingers in. I’m pretty sure that if another country invaded Mexico or Canada and the conflict threatened to spill over our border, or if there were hundreds of thousands of refugees entering our country, or if we felt threatened by the country that invaded, or if we don’t share the same goals and interests as that country, you would bet that we would get involved. Hell, we get involved in shit halfway around the world that we have no business getting involved with, so why not something right in our backyard?

For starters, this invasion of Iraq was supposed to be a cakewalk, against a bunch of dead enders, and look at what is going on. The civil war is threatening to splinter into many little sub civil wars. And there is no guarantee that in any given situation, the “mighty military” doesn’t necessarily have the big advantage (see Israel vs. Hezbollah in Lebanon and US in Iraq).

I see two major issues that arise from the potential conflict between Turkey and the Kurds, and neither one is a good one. It would be compounded by the backing of this administration – especially if it is as half-assed as everything else that this reverse-Midas administration has done in Iraq and Afghanistan – (1) the backlash against the US military in Iraq and (2) the ramifications if the Kurds beat this bombing campaign back.

There are already not enough troops in Iraq to do whatever it is that they would currently be “required to do”, let alone stretch into another major conflict in the only relatively stable region. We can’t possibly devote enough resources or attention to helping Turkey and their military out in this conflict. If the Kurds can hold their own, it strengthens their case and cause for independence. And with an overwhelming vote in the US Senate for a de facto partition in Iraq, this offer to bomb can’t sit well with either the Kurds or Turkey.

We also shouldn’t forget that one of the reasons for the “no-fly” zones was to help out the Kurds in Iraq, yet there has been conflict and controversy for a good number of years between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds. Over the years, we have hedged our bets with our relationship (or whatever you can call it) with both Turkey and (indirectly) the Kurds in Iraq. Getting involved here would be disastrous on a few levels, no matter who prevails.

If the Kurds prevail, then that creates another major problem with a group that will be, shall we say, less than sympathetic to the US and our troops for assisting Turkey. They will be more confident about breaking off on their own – something that Turkey doesn’t want to see happen. And if the Kurds do not prevail, then they can make things very difficult in Iraq as a number of weapons and explosives that were lost in Iraq ended up in PKK hands and have already been used in Turkey.

In the precarious situation and the potential for a colossally stupid “all in” strike against Iran, the Strait of Hormuz will no doubt be blocked, and any ships in the region will be sunk. Turkey, despite the fact that it didn’t allow the US to use its bases for the 2003 invasion, would be one of the only “ways out” of Iraq for our troops. That is, if Congress does anything remotely resembling what the American people are demanding.

By getting involved in and inflaming the situation between Turkey and the Kurds, the US is pretty much guaranteeing that our troops will be trapped (to a degree) in Iraq in the event of a withdrawal or need for withdrawal of troops. Of course, by getting dragged into yet another conflict, there would be a further strain on our troops. But they are tough, so why think of whether we can even support this logistically, let alone the ramifications of sticking our noses in this bubbling over situation.

There are so many bad things that can happen, and the ripple effect (both long term and on the security of our troops, not to mention the further eroding of our credibility below zero) of getting involved or encouraging more violence between the Kurds and Turkey is just insane. As with everything else that was done in Iraq, there are only options of “bad” and “worse”. This region was just about the only one that we could reasonably not have to worry too much about.

And now, it is something that we will not only have to worry about, but could be crushing on so many levels.

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