2014 October 02 Thursday
Doomed To Failure: US Policy In Syria, Iraq
Barack Obama has pinned his hopes in Iraq on an "inclusive" government even while the two excluded groups (Sunni Arabs and Kurds) want a divorce. Can you say "setting yourself up for failure"? Sure. In Syria the search is on for acceptable moderates.
Many moderate factions have been squeezed out or self-destructed in a morass of corruption, incompetence and dissent.
Obviously, the Obama Administration's policy goals in Iraq and Syria are not achievable. In tribal societies deeply divided by blood and religious faith we can't make everyone just get along. What's missing? A civil society that is a counterweight to the state. A commitment to the rule of law (tribe comes first). A belief in free speech.
Think Turkey is going to enthusiastically fight against ISIS? Read: Turkey’s Attitude Toward ISIS? Sympathy for the Devil.
But there is sympathy for jihadists battling in Syria along the border among Erdogan’s rural base. Journalist Ahu Özyurt reported last weekend in the Hurriyet Daily News that local officials in Turkey’s southeast province of Şanlıurfa had confided to her their respect for the jihadists. “I was shocked to hear words of admiration for ISIL,” wrote Özyurt, a senior editor for CNN Turk. The officials said: “They are like us, fighting against seven great powers in the War of Independence.” And the officials maintained they would rather have the jihadists than the Kurds south of the border as neighbors.
US support for Kurdish fighters remains lukewarm. The Kurds fighting to keep ISIS out of Kobani aren't going to get heavier weapons because the Turks don't want them to. The Turkish government most of all wants Assad's government to fall.
What we are going to find out: How much has the efficacy of air power improved? Also, can US special forces and CIA agents bribe some Sunni tribes in Iraq to turn against ISIS? Also, will the Sunni region in Iraq be allowed to create a regional parliament like Scotland with some budget authority and security control moved to the Sunni Arab zone. Also, will the Kurds get enough weapons to carve out a mini-state in Syria?
Also, will the smaller minorities continue to get majorly shafted?
“Members of Iraq’s diverse ethnic and religious communities, including Turkmen, Shabak, Christians, Yezidi, Sabaeans, Kaka’e, Faili Kurds, Arab Shi’a, and others have particularly been affected by the situation,” the report continues.
If I was King of America I'd heavily arm the Turkmen, Sabaenans, Christians and other smaller minorities and let them carve out mini-states in Iraq and Syria.
By Randall Parker at 2014 October 02 11:08 PM
If an independent Kurdish state comes out of this mess it will inevitably destabilize Turkey. We have no idea what we are doing in the Middle East.
"Doomed to Failure" -- exactly right.
But look at Libya and Ukraine, two wars of choice (from Washington's point of view) that were similarly doomed from the outset. "Let's you and him fight" as far as boots on the ground, combined with US air-delivered PGMs blowing stuff up (Libya) or hand-wringing (Ukraine). Result: strategic failure.
On the other hand, Obama and the foreign policy elites don't experience any meaningful adverse consequences. So, it's all good.
In Iraq, the Islamic State is looking more like a state with an army, less like a terrorist organization. Battlefield defeats for the Iraqi Army and security forces just keep coming. The Islamic State keeps adding to its inventory of M1A1 tanks, M113s and BMPs, artillery, Humvees, mortars, ammunition, small arms, etc., etc. The Iraqi Army keeps adding to its inventory of... corpses, desertions, and rock-bottom morale.
The Long War Journal is the key source on Iraq and Syria. Today's news -
The Islamic State continues its offensive to consolidate control of Iraq's Anbar province. Today, the jihadist group is reported to have taken control of the town of Hit and has launched assaults on the Anbar Operations Command north of Ramadi and the 7th Division headquarters at Al Asad Airbase in Al Baghdadi.
As far as "moderate rebels" in Syria: think Ahmed Chalabi, circa 2002.
"If an independent Kurdish state comes out of this mess it will inevitably destabilize Turkey."
And serve them right. They were the great imperial power for centuries and, just like the British Empire, they shipped nationalities around and messed about pitting neighbour against neighbour, dividing for conquering's sake. Modern day Turkey is no more than the ebb-point of that particular tide and does not have divinely-set borders. Let the Kurds break away and join up with the Iraqi Kurds, and let them destabilise Iran in turn. And in particular, let Turkey break up to such a degree that they lose the rump north of the Bosphorus to Bulgaria and/or Greece: that would be both a very small punishment for their centuries of trading European slaves *and* a good excuse for the EC to wash its hands of this fast-radicalising country once and for all.
If I were King for a day, I'd leave 'em alone to sort out their own borders.
Some will fight, some will flee, many will die, governments will rise, governments will fall, borders will change and over time a natural equilibrium will settle on the region. That's how stable countries are formed.
Gerard said: And serve them right. They were the great imperial power for centuries and, just like the British Empire, they shipped nationalities around and messed about pitting neighbour against neighbour, dividing for conquering's sake.
No country would be stupid enough to do that these days!
Jim said at October 3, 2014 5:30 AM:
"If an independent Kurdish state comes out of this mess it will inevitably destabilize Turkey. We have no idea what we are doing in the Middle East."
I think an independent Kurdistan is already a fait accompli. They are functioning as an independent state already and since Iraq has already failed in a government's first duties to protect the peace, how is Baghdad ever going to get the Kurds back?
Agree with Mike: The Kurdish region in Iraq is already de facto independent.
Turkey's policy is aimed at making sure the Kurds in Syria do not retain their own de facto independence. So the defeat of Kurds in Kobani by ISIS is a good thing to the people who run Turkey. But I think the Kurds deserve independence. So I am rooting for them.