Yesterday, National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice went on NBC’s “Meet the Press “and glibly announced that Turkey had given permission for use of the Incirlik air base by the U.S.-led coalition assaulting ISIS from the air. She triumphantly commented, “That’s a new commitment and one that we very much welcome”.
Today, The Washington Post reported a senior Turkish official denied such a claim, saying that talks were still underway, perhaps awaiting a Pentagon military planning team this week in Ankara. Meanwhile, Turkey’s President Erdogan has made it abundantly clear that he wants his priority demand opening up a front against the Assad Regime. Erdogan’s negotiations tactics lend credence that he is tacitly supporting ISIS’ destruction of the Kurdish YPG fighters in Kobani.
It looks like the same stall tactics his AKP government used back in 2003, when the U.S. Army First Infantry Division was prevented from off loading in the Mediterranean port of Iskenderun to transit of Turkey and enter Northern Iraq. What is the expression, dog bites man first time, dog’s fault; dog bites man second time, man’s fault. Following in the wake of Ms. Rice’s gaffe on Benghazi on Meet the Press October 15, 2012 and now with this episode, she has lost credibility.
But then the Obama policies in the region have failed.
Whether it is red lines in Syria, supporting a One Iraq policy in the face of disintegration of the Baghdad central government, and his ISIS strategy with a U.S. air assault but no boots on the ground.
Turkey’s stalling on permission for the US-led coalition air contingents use the Incirlik air base less than 100 kilometers from the Turkish – Syrian border has complicated air operations. We have argued that should have been the first orders of business by the Administration. Now US Navy squadrons on board the USS George H. W. Bush in the Red Sea, USAF squadrons based temporarily at the Al Udeid air base in Qatar carrier and RAF squadrons based in Cyprus have to fly 1,100 mile round trip sorties making it virtually impossible to engage in round the clock air operations.
We offer the following suggestions about what to do with a recalcitrant Erdogan in Turkey,. One suggested by Jonathan Schanzer of the Washington, DC-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, is that Turkey be temporarily suspended from the NATO alliance until it agrees to lend meaningful support to the US-led coalition. The Administration might impose an embargo on sales of US military equipment and spare parts to Turkey, akin to what was done following Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974, lifted in 1978. The State Department might delist the Turkish Workers Party (PKK) from its designated terrorist list. There is the precedent of the delisting of the Iranian opposition group, the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK). That act outraged the Iranian Islamic regime. A similar action by the U.S. State Department might cause a diplomatic furor between Washington and Ankara further emboldening Kurdish protests in Turkey and elsewhere.
We have grisly reports from The Daily Mail, today, that hundreds of trapped Kurds in Kobani have been beheaded by ISIS jihadists to the cries of “allahu Akbar”. Rumor has it that a contingent of 200 Kurdish fighters with more modern weapons may be on their way to Kobani. But that may be too little too late to save the encircled YPG fighters in Kobani.
Meanwhile a large column of 10,000 ISIS troops ,equipped with stolen US tanks, artillery and Humvees, have virtually taken all of Anbar province encircling Baghdad and threatening the International airport. The UN reported today that more than 30,000 families, 180,000 persons fled after the town of Hit was taken.
We had this exchange with a veteran U.S. security contractor in Baghdad.
Gordon: Thank you for your comment on my Iconoclast post. Suffice to say all of us pray for the safety of you and all your American colleagues in Iraq. The flight of the Iraqi forces before Mosul in June empowered ISIS with billions in US supplied arms, weapons, tanks and Humvees. ISIS military commanders are former Saddam Ba’athist commanders and quite capable in conducting operations against a corrupt Iraqi national army. ISIS has a friend in Turkey’s Erdogan, allied with the Muslim Brotherhood in the region. Despite the change in government and removal of former Premier Al-Maliki, Iraq remains a satrap of Iran for all intents and purposes. ISIS’ Jihad Qur’anic imperative, to borrow a phrase of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, is “Cry Havoc and let slip the dogs of war” to the cry of “allahu Akbar”. I trust that you and your colleagues can make it out to Kuwait and home before the Baghdad airport falls into ISIS hands.
Tim: I agree with what you say. I have been able to see all this happen first hand. I have been over here for a total of five years. I believe that some plan has been made for our evacuation but nothing has been shared. We will see.
Yesterday, Lisa Benson asked us to join her, Dr. Sherkoh Abbas, President of the Kurdish National Assembly of Syria (KURDNAS) and the Hon. Karwan Zebari,the Kurdish Regional Government Ambassador in Washington. Benson, has drawn attention to the barbaric onslaught of ISIS against the YPG fighters in Kobani, and the efforts of the KRG Peshmerga forces in Iraq. Benson has also reached out to activists to solicit relief assistance to Kurds, Yazidis and Christians in the KRG. She has told graphically of the escape of Yazidi women and girls from Raqaa who were sold into sex slavery by their ISIS captors and the price they had paid to reach safety and freedom in the KRG. Benson has mounted several twitter rally campaigns with hashtags #ArmPeshmerga and #SaveKobani.
In the discussion on this latest Lisa Benson Radio Show broadcast, we addressed revelations by Senior Iranian officials in contact with the Administration. They suggested that Israel will be threatened by ISIS if the Assad regime is attacked. Dr. Abbas, confirmed Iran’s double game strategy facilitating the rampage that emboldened ISIS’ conquest of large swaths of Syria and Iraq virtually destroying the map of the Levant. A map that began with the British-French Sykes Picot secret agreement of 1916 that led to the French and British Mandates of the League of Nations at the San Remo Conference in 1920. This was followed by the creation of the Kemalist Republic of Turkey in 1923 with the Treaty of Lausanne.
The big losers in the Versailles conference in 1919 were the Kurds. They were promised a nation in their ancient homeland in what became modern Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq.
Ambassador Zebari articulated the failure of the so-called One Iraq policy propounded by the US Administration as the basis for the strategy to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State. ISIS has become enormously wealthy from looting banks, extortion, and taxation of conquered people and sales of smuggled oil from fields in both Syria and Iraq. The flood of ISIS fighters from 70 countries have travelled the jihadist highway allowed by the Islamist regime of President Erdogan’s AKP government in Ankara. Dozens have been killed in riots in Turkey’s predominately Kurdish southeast.
Benson fielded a call from a Kurdish American organizer of a hunger strike in support of Kurds in Kobani that will be launched across from the White House this Friday. Another call, asked the probing question of Dr. Abbas and Ambassador Zebari, “ What could be done to arouse the Administration to alleviate this looming disaster?” Ambassador Zebari suggested that Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have recognized the failure of the One Iraq policy and the necessity of supporting the Kurds.
Both Dr. Abbas raised the question of why Jewish advocacy groups in the US don’t support this, as they have been noticeably silent? Benson contrasted the questionable appropriation of more than $500 million by Congress in response to the President’s request to provide training and arms for so-called moderate Syrian opposition forces, most of who appear to Islamist. The consensus of the discussions on Sunday’s program was the One Iraq strategy has failed and that the Kurds deserve a nation-state of their own. Dr. Abbas and Ambassador Zebari opposed Secretary of State Kerry continued espousal of the failed One Iraq policy.
Dr. Abbas drew attention to the US donation of $212 million announced at the Cairo Donor conference organized by Norway for reconstruction in Gaza. Over $2.7 billion was raised in pledges from EU and Middle East Muslim nations. There was nary a word about dismantling and verifying Hamas’s terror command and tunnels. Kerry also pushed for renewal of Palestinian – Israeli peace discussions. All while PA President Abbas pushes his campaign for a UN Security Council resolution recognizing a Palestinian State claiming he has 7 of 9 votes in favor.
Ambassador Zebari pointed out that Israel and the Kurds are objects of scorn and hate by the Muslim Brotherhood, Shia and Sunni, Salafist and Wahhabist Jihadists in the Middle East.
This should, in his opinion, arouse Americans during the upcoming Mid-Term November elections to vote for Congressional candidates who support Kurdish nationalism and provide the arms to fight against ISIS Meanwhile, we had reports from Jerusalem today that Israeli police closed down Palestinian rioters at the Al Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount. These rioters were seeking to rain havoc with rocks and Molotov cocktails on Jews at the Kotel below celebrating the Festival of Tabernacles, Sukkoth.
The UN considered such Israeli actions, “provocative”.
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EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.