By Halil Karaveli
January 25th, 2016, The Turkey Analyst
Terrorist attacks that target opponents of the Turkish regime and for which the “Islamic state” is held responsible are used to legitimize a “war against terrorism” that is a euphemism for Turkey’s new old war against the Kurdish movement. The forces behind the terrorism that has struck Turkey during the last six months will in all probability never be exposed. As a rule, political violence remains unresolved in Turkey, except when the Kurdish PKK is involved. Nonetheless, it is ultimately enough to know which forces that have historically been served by political violence. The instigators may have remained in the shadows, but it has always been clear that the winners have been the advocates of authoritarian rule.
Murat Belge in Taraf writes that Turkey’s downing of the Russian plane is going to have repercussions for its Western allies. The question now is, did we warn our allies before taking an action that could have forced all the members of the NATO to go to war against Russia? For instance, were the people of Norway, or Denmark, Italy or Canada aware that they could have found themselves at war with Russia before the month of November was over? How probable is it that a Dane would approve of his state declaring war against Russia just because a Russian war plane flew over Turkish air space for seventeen seconds? Isn’t he or she going to think that one ought to reconsider being allied to a country that can behave so irresponsibly?
Ali Bayramoğlu in Yeni Şafak notes that Russia is giving air support to the Kurdish PYD forces in Syria, helping them to cross to the west of the Euphrates. Do you think that the U.S. would mind if the Kurds were to succeed in their advance? It would not at all be surprising if the U.S. prefers that the Kurds – rather than the Sunni opposition that the Russians are hitting – acquire control over the area. In that case, Turkey will have only one counter-measure that it has often said it will deploy: To hit the PYD. You can imagine what the consequences of such an extreme and bad scenario – a probable fight between PYD and the Turkish army – would have on relations with the U.S., with Russia and how societal tensions in the southeast would escalate. Since Russia joined the game, everything has been turned upside down. This has also been a strike against Turkey that supports the Sunni opposition and it has turned into an endeavor to push out Turkey from the area.
Orhan Bursalı in Cumhuriyet writes that the Russian planes are hitting the armed groups in Syria that Ankara support, and that the Russian offensive risks paving the way for a Kurdish advance, connecting the three Kurdish cantons. Ankara relies on the armed groups that Russia is hitting to defend the 98 kilometer long corridor that separates the Kurdish areas. Russia is in all probability aiming to create the conditions for the capture of this corridor by Syrian government forces. This is the main reason why Ankara shot down the Russian plane in this area. The loss of the forces that Turkey has built up during all these years means that its whole Syria policy is crumbling. The question is if this area might come under the control of PKK? Russia’s operation in the area creates the possibility that the corridor of 98 kilometers might be taken over by PKK/PYD. What happens if the U.S. and Russia were to come to an agreement on this? Would they do it? Let us here remind that Ankara has declared that it will certainly intervene if that were to come to pass. However, if the area comes under the control of the Assad forces that might perhaps prevent the realization of what Turkey fears – the establishment of a contiguous Kurdish corridor that reaches to the Mediterranean. Ankara ought to keep this in mind and make its plans accordingly. Otherwise it will lose everything. Peace with Assad is the solution!
Ali Bulaç in Zaman asks what Turkey stands to gain from joining the United States in its war against the terrorist group that calls itself the Islamic State (ISIS). Turkey will gain nothing! Let us imagine that northern Syria is cleared from ISIS. What is the U.S. going to deploy there in its place? It is of course not going to hand the place to al-Nusra, the Muslim Brotherhood or any other Islamic organization. It is very clear that Kurdish PYD is going to be deployed in the place of ISIS. And does not the PYD equal the PKK? The war against ISIS is not only fought against an organization, but it is a war against a Sunni Arab population that Turkey has committed itself to fight alongside and for the sake of the West! No one is approving what ISIS is doing. If ISIS is harming Islam and the Muslims, then the way to stop this is not to shoulder the role of the gendarme of the U.S. There are other ways to do it, in accordance with the codes and dynamics of the region. But there is right now no reasonable ground for declaring war against IS. The massacre in Suruç, that the ISIS has not taken responsibility for, is a very murky operation! ISIS has established authority over an area which is inhabited by millions of Muslims. That Turkey wageals war against a Muslim population represents a first in the history of the Republic. This has no Islamic legitimacy, and it is politically and militarily wrong.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.