February 22, 2016

Erdogan's Jihad Against Kurds And Other Minorities In Syria Is Not Going According To Plan

Erdogan, in his quest for glory in Syria, will end up falling on his ass, which he is already familiar with.

An excerpt from, "Erdogan 'Continues to Play the Fool as He Paints Himself Into a Corner'" Sputnik News, February 20, 2016:
President Erdogan's politics of confrontation with the Kurds will only further complicate Ankara's relations with Russia and the US, and lead to an escalation of internal tensions, writes Deutsche Welle columnist Kersten Knipp. The Turkish president, he says, is painting himself into a corner, while continuing to project a false image of strength.
Unfortunately, the journalist writes, "Turkey is waging a war not against Daesh (ISIL), and not so much against Syrian President Bashar Assad, as against the Syrian Kurds. The fact that they seek to build their own government in the immediate vicinity of Turkey is an abomination for Ankara."
Erdogan's decision to fight the Kurds "will not be without foreign and domestic political consequences. In foreign policy, it is likely to strain the relationship with both the US and Russia." Both countries cooperate with the YPG, the armed wing of the PYD. "For both, the YPG is a valuable partner in the fight against Daesh."
An excerpt from, "Turkey’s increasingly desperate predicament poses real dangers" by Liz Sly, The Washington Post, February 20, 2016:
But Erdogan appears to have misjudged the extent to which the shifting parameters have constrained Turkey’s room to maneuver, according to Henri Barkey, a Turkey expert at the Wilson Center in Washington.

“Erdogan has mismanaged foreign policy because of hubris,” Barkey said. “He was overconfident in 2010 that Turkey was the darling of the world, and that went to his head. There are setbacks that are not of his doing, but how he managed those setbacks are his doing.”

When Erdogan is also confronting unforeseen challenges to his domestic ambitions, notably his plans to amend Turkey’s constitution to enhance his presidential powers, further Turkish missteps cannot be ruled out, said Bacik, the professor in Ankara.

“I’m not saying that Turkey has lost its mind and is poised for war, but the posture in Ankara is very strange and could lead to surprises,” he said. “What’s happening in Syria is a question of survival for Erdogan, so it is not possible to rule anything out.
An excerpt from, "Turkey's Geographical Ambition" by Robert D. Kaplan and Reva Bhalla, Stratfor, August 12, 2014:
The root of the problem is partly geographic. Turkey constitutes a bastion of mountains and plateau, inhabiting the half-island of the Anatolian land bridge between the Balkans and the Middle East. It is plainly not integral to a place like Iraq, for example, in the way that Iran is; and its Turkic language no longer enjoys the benefit of the Arabic script, which might give it more cultural leverage elsewhere in the Levant. But most important, Turkey is itself bedeviled by its own Kurdish population, complicating its attempts to exert leverage in neighboring Middle Eastern states.

Turkey's southeast is demographically dominated by ethnic Kurds, who adjoin vast Kurdish regions in Syria, Iraq and Iran. The ongoing breakup of Syria potentially liberates Kurds there to join with radical Kurds in Anatolia in order to undermine Turkey. The de facto breakup of Iraq has forced Turkey to follow a policy of constructive containment with Iraq's Kurdish north, but that has undermined Turkey's leverage in the rest of Iraq — thus, in turn, undermining Turkey's attempts to influence Iran. Turkey wants to influence the Middle East, but the problem is that it remains too much a part of the Middle East to extricate itself from the region's complexities.

Erdogan knows that he must partially solve the Kurdish problem at home in order to gain further leverage in the region. He has even mentioned aloud the Arabic word, vilayet, associated with the Ottoman Empire. This word denotes a semi-autonomous province — a concept that might hold the key for an accommodation with local Kurds but could well reignite his own nationalist rivals within Turkey. Thus, his is a big symbolic step that seeks to fundamentally neutralize the very foundation of Kemalism (with its emphasis on a solidly Turkic Anatolia). But given how he has already emasculated the Turkish military — something few thought possible a decade ago — one should be careful about underestimating Erdogan. His sheer ambition is something to behold. While Western elites ineffectually sneer at Putin, Erdogan enthusiastically takes notes when the two of them meet.