KURDLED DIPLOMACY

True or false: the Kurds are the largest single ethnic group on Earth that do not have a country of their own.

That statement, of course, is true. Most people have no idea who or what the Kurds are, as they have no PR machine or deeply concerned Hollywood spokespeople encouraging the world to help them out. From the Bush administration's perspective the Kurds are in a position so precarious that it sums up Operation Iraqi Clusterfuck perfectly.

The Kurds were the "human rights" piece of the pre-2003 We Must Invade argument. Sadaam Hussein had a long, unpleasant history of trying to exterminate the restless Kurdish settlements in the northwest ("Kurdistan" comprises parts of Turkey, Iran, and Iraq) including the use of chemical weapons. So imagine how stupid we'd look if, for example, we started encouraging the Iraqi "government" to use its armed forces (read: ours) to suppress uppity Kurdish regions. Ha. Wow, that would be pretty hilarious.

The Kurds (via the PKK) are a subject that rasies Turkey's blood pressure to almost fatal levels. As most of the Kurdish people live in modern-day Turkey, the two parties have been engaged in a slow, simmering secessionist movement / civil war for the better part of 20 years. And now the Turks are claiming (correctly) that the Kurds are using the free-for-all that is Iraq to plan and supply attacks on Turkey. This practically makes that vein on Turkey's forehead throb. They've announced in no uncertain terms that they will attack and invade Kurdish positions within Iraq if the latter cannot do something to control the situation.

On the one hand, the sheer destabilizing insanity of Turkey invading Iraq is obvious. The U.S. wants nothing more than to avoid that outcome. Iraq can't even govern 12 blocks of Baghdad let alone enforce the sovereignty of its borders. Yet we are not exactly on Turkey's good side these days, what with our resolutions condemning the Armenian genocide that Turkey refuses to acknowledge. You might ask yourself why we give a shit what Turkey thinks given that we don't seem to give a shit what anyone else thinks these days. Well, those planes at Incirlik aren't going to station themselves. Half of our military supply material to Iraq and Afghanistan passes through that base. It's like the Cold War all over again – making decisions to support brutal, repressive governments based on their willingness to host the military facilities with which we surround our enemies and mark our territory all over the world.

So our options are:

  • 1. Curry favor with Turkey by letting them invade Iraq
  • 2. Curry favor with Turkey by using our military in Iraq to subdue the same Kurds whose treatment at the hands of Hussein was one of our invasion motives
  • 3. Enforce the status quo, piss off the Turks, and find ourselves a new forward air base in central Asia (remember, Uzbekistan already evicted us and we hang onto Manas by a thread)

    Hmm. I wonder which one of those scenarios will win out.

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  • 3 Responses to “KURDLED DIPLOMACY”

    1. Paul Says:

      option 4: We say that the kurds are being used by Iran and use this excuse to repress the kurds and to strike Iran

      First rule of Bush, the most absurd and least likely scenario will most likely be correct.

    2. Brandon Says:

      Interesing post. I agree with most of what you say, Ed, but I wouldn't go so far as to label Turkey a brutal, repressive government. It's true, their policy towards the Kurds has been heavyhanded at times, and it is ridiculous that they continue to deny the Armenian genocide. However, they are a secular republican democracy, and I don't feel that trying to curry favor with them entails abandoning our principles to the same extent that we abandon the moral high ground when we coddle Pakistan, Uzbekistan, China, etc.

      On a somewhat unrelated note, the Times had an interesting article last week about Iranian Kurds who are fighting for independence from Iran. There is some speculation that the US has been aiding the fighthers, which raises questions about the hypocrisy of supporting Iranian Kurds' insurgency while siding with Turkey in their own counterinsurgency.

    3. Chris Says:

      Tremfu kicked ass at Fester's this weekend. I enjoyed the set.