Monday, June 21, 2004


The Shit Has Hit The Fan

Seymour Hersh bounces off the Abu Ghraib story with a piece about Israel's active efforts in Kurdistan viz a viz training commandos and other related endevours. Hence the cooling of relations between Turkey and Israel does not simply seem to be motivated by Turkey's attempts to gain the Islamic Conference Presidency but rather Turkey's fears of an independent Kurdistan.

The Israeli decision to seek a bigger foothold in Kurdistan—characterized by the former Israeli intelligence officer as “Plan B”—has also raised tensions between Israel and Turkey. It has provoked bitter statements from Turkish politicians and, in a major regional shift, a new alliance among Iran, Syria, and Turkey, all of which have significant Kurdish minorities.
At the moment, the former American senior intelligence official said, the Israelis’ tie to Kurdistan “would be of greater value than their growing alliance with Turkey. ‘We love Turkey but got to keep the pressure on Iran.’” The former Israeli intelligence officer said, “The Kurds were the last surviving group close to the United States with any say in Iraq. The only question was how to square it with Turkey.”

In a classicly awful Turkish response:

Over breakfast in Ankara, a senior Turkish official explained, “Before the war, Israel was active in Kurdistan, and now it is active again. This is very dangerous for us, and for them, too. We do not want to see Iraq divided, and we will not ignore it.” Then, citing a popular Turkish proverb—“We will burn a blanket to kill a flea”—he said, “We have told the Kurds, ‘We are not afraid of you, but you should be afraid of us.’” (A Turkish diplomat I spoke to later was more direct: “We tell our Israeli and Kurdish friends that Turkey’s good will lies in keeping Iraq together. We will not support alternative solutions.”)

We will burn a blanket to kill a flea? ohh-kay. The legitimate concern is that the Israeli trained Kurdish commando units will run attacks into Turkey with their new found power. I have no idea how this will benifit Turkish Kurds if it were to happen. Whatever the case, our government or military clearly does not trust the Iraqi Kurd leadership to discourage or prevent attacks into Turkey. Under what pretenses though do they think that Turkey can afford a war with a neighbor, politically or econmically? We can only afford the body count, which is a very sinister way of looking at things. Of course, any small chance we had of getting into the EU in the next decade or two will disappear--but that never really concerned me as much as a general evolution in policy.

What we need is a guarentee from the Israelis that if the commando units they train turn against us, the Israelis will be on our side. In that way, Israel may be able to do what the Iraqi Kurds perhaps cannot: keep tabs on hostile fighters. Of course, the need to continue pumping money into the East for development goes without saying.


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