Tuesday, November 24, 2015

So now they’ve shot down a Russian jet

Several days ago, Patrick Cockburn reported in the Independent, in a story which received virtually no attention elsewhere, that the US government would be allying with the Turkish government to take the stretch along the Syria-Turkey border controlled by ISIS: “‘Seventy five per cent of Syria’s northern border has so far been shut down [preventing Isis’s access to Turkey]’, said US Secretary of State John Kerry. ‘And we are entering an operation with the Turks to shut off the remaining 98km’.” (Who exactly would control this stretch on the ground, I wonder.) They weren’t interested in acknowledging previously stated Kurdish plans to take this area or the Turkish government’s attacks on those Kurds.

David Graeber provided context in an important article in the Guardian a few days ago:
In the wake of the murderous attacks in Paris, we can expect western heads of state to do what they always do in such circumstances: declare total and unremitting war on those who brought it about. They don’t actually mean it. They’ve had the means to uproot and destroy Islamic State within their hands for over a year now. They’ve simply refused to make use of it. In fact, as the world watched leaders making statements of implacable resolve at the G20 summit in Antalaya, these same leaders are hobnobbing with Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a man whose tacit political, economic, and even military support contributed to Isis’s ability to perpetrate the atrocities in Paris, not to mention an endless stream of atrocities inside the Middle East.

How could Isis be eliminated? In the region, everyone knows. All it would really take would be to unleash the largely Kurdish forces of the YPG (Democratic Union party) in Syria, and PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ party) guer[r]illas in Iraq and Turkey. These are, currently, the main forces actually fighting Isis on the ground. They have proved extraordinarily militarily effective and oppose every aspect of Isis’s reactionary ideology.

But instead, YPG-controlled territory in Syria finds itself placed under a total embargo by Turkey, and PKK forces are under continual bombardment by the Turkish air force. Not only has Erdoğan done almost everything he can to cripple the forces actually fighting Isis; there is considerable evidence that his government has been at least tacitly aiding Isis itself.

…And then there are Erdoğan’s actual, stated positions. Back in August, the YPG, fresh from their victories in Kobani and Gire Spi, were poised to seize Jarablus, the last Isis-held town on the Turkish border that the terror organisation had been using to resupply its capital in Raqqa with weapons, materials, and recruits – Isis supply lines pass directly through Turkey.

Commentators predicted that with Jarablus gone, Raqqa would soon follow. Erdoğan reacted by declaring Jarablus a “red line”: if the Kurds attacked, his forces would intervene militarily – against the YPG. So Jarablus remains in terrorist hands to this day, under de facto Turkish military protection…. [links removed]
As I said last week, these actions and alliances would seem perfectly mad to anyone thinking the US government was genuinely determined to defeat ISIS and promote democracy and human rights. And now Obama is on television suggesting that the Russian government is at fault for supposedly focusing not on ISIS but on the moderate, democratic elements of the FSA (do they think the constant references to these mythical elements will somehow conjure them into existence?). Real democratic forces capable of taking on ISIS militarily are being marginalized and sacrificed in order to cooperate with an authoritarian government murderously hostile to them and long complicit with Islamists. And they’re still obsessed with overthrowing Assad. The fateful alliance with Erdoğan (not to mention Saudi Arabia, Israel,…) will continue; the Kurds will continue to be betrayed and abandoned.

We can of course expect the corporate media, with that dupe Richard Engel in the lead, to dutifully repeat their claims. (Last month, Rachel Maddow, evidently surprised and displeased that Tulsi Gabbard didn’t read from the government script,

the next week invited Michael McFaul,

who didn’t disappoint.)

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