By Thoreau Redcrow for the Kurdopia Project
There are recent revelations from The Guardian that the U.S. deal with Turkey involves a “no fly zone” (that would only apply to Assad’s Syrian Regime, as neither ISIS nor the Kurds have planes) in exchange for a tacit agreement that Turkey can prevent further land acquisitions by the Kurdish PYD in their quest to unify Rojava by connecting the Kobane and Afrin Cantons. Essentially, the U.S. gets use of a closer location at Incirlik Air base to bomb ISIS from, in exchange for selling out the Kurdish PYD (which includes their heroic YPG & YPJ guerrillas), who were the only ground forces effectively defeating ISIS.
In the fight against ISIS, the U.S. is basically exchanging their “ground forces” (the YPG/J), for closer use of their Air Force, but then eliminating the Syrian Air Force, by disallowing them to target ISIS in the no fly zone area which ISIS now controls. This also helps paradoxically give both air cover from Syria and ostensibly closer range for U.S. bombing of the LAST border crossing that Turkey has to send weapons to their ISIS proxy force, since the Kurds have cut off all the other ones. On the surface this doesn’t make much sense, until you consider what will happen next.
What I predict will now occur is that ISIS will slowly vacate the “no fly zone” area and move south since they can now be easily targeted by U.S. planes (the Turks may also drop a few meaningless cosmetic bombs with advanced warning to make it appear like ISIS isn’t their proxy force), and then the Turkish Army themselves will eventually fill that void by invading Syria (Rojava) under the guise of creating a phony “refugee safe haven” and preventing imaginary “ethnic cleansing” of Turkmen who reside in the area – an action which normally would incur the wrath of the Syrian regime and their Air Force, but alas, the U.S. would have agreed already to shoot down any Syrian jets who enter the skies over this corridor which Turkey would then control. The irony in this scenario is that the U.S. would then be acting as Turkey’s Air Force for an invasion of Syria against an Assad regime that ISIS, Turkey, and the U.S. all want defeated. Ipso facto, the U.S. would be acting as ISIS’s Air Force (by way of Turkey) against Damascus.
How all of this above assists in the defeat of ISIS is hard to see (but maybe that’s not the point, nor what the U.S. wants sadly). However, what’s clear is that within hours of agreeing to this deal, Turkey went on the offensive with bombing runs not against ISIS (the supposed new foe of them and their NATO ally Americans using a base on their territory), but against the Kurdish PKK, who have been valiantly battling and defeating ISIS for the past 2 years in both Western and Southern Kurdistan (Syria & Iraq). The PKK also heroically saved 200,000 Ezidis on Mount Sinjar from ISIS genocidal decapitation and sexual slavery, and the reward they get is staying on the U.S. terrorist list, and now being bombed by Turkey with U.S. bombs. Sickening. This is what happens when governments operate without a moral compass.
This isn’t surprising for those who are aware of the reality that Turkey has been using ISIS as a proxy army against the Kurds of Rojava, but anyone left in the U.S. State Dept that has any ethics may want to pick up a Kurdish newspaper at some point and stop swallowing Turkish propaganda. Sure most U.S. planes were previously coming from the Gulf, so yes the distance is drastically shortened, but I think overall, it’s a net loss for the U.S. if the objective is defeating ISIS. However it is looking like the U.S. calculation has been made that Assad is more of a threat than ISIS is (incorrect in my view). Also, I think the U.S. may be content with ISIS at its current state, which allows for military contractors to still profit, and operates as a ‘rat trap’ to draw all the world’s jihadists to the desert to be killed by F16s. The fact that locals suffer from ISIS I don’t think matters at all to the pathologically Machiavellian impulse in Washington.
The U.S. Govt needs to realize that you don’t defeat ISIS by cutting deals with Turkey who arms and allies with ISIS (Turkey’s President Erdogan’s own daughter runs a hospital for ISIS wounded), and you don’t defeat the inhumanity of ISIS in Syria by betraying the one force on the ground (The PYD) who is fighting on behalf of humanity and the values you claim to believe in (allied with their fellow brethren the PKK I might add). But at this point it must honestly be asked if the U.S. even wants to defeat ISIS? Regrettably, while the world awaits an answer, the Kurdish proverb of “No friends but the mountains” tragically strikes again.
About the author
Thoreau Redcrow is a U.S Based writer and academic who lived in north Kurdistan as a child. He has degrees in International Conflict Analysis and his doctoral research focuses on the PKK.