15 November 2015

Erdogan and the AKP's 1 November Victory- For the Present

Erdogan cut a deal with the United States. The Kurds entering the political spectrum had all but sabotaged his political ambitions and constitutional aspirations. He allowed the US to formally utilize the bases in the south (Incirlik and Diyarbakir) to strike ISIS while at the same time at the behest of Erdogan, the US betrayed the Kurdish factions in Syria which it has been backing contra ISIS. In truth most US allies are not allies at all, but throw away tools, a type of fodder to feed the war machine. Thus Erdogan was given the go-ahead and promptly began to bomb Kurdish positions seeking to break their growing power along the Syrian border. This harmed the fight against ISIS in one sense but for the Americans it allowed them closer striking points for their aircraft.

The whole Syrian conflict was reduced to pure cynicism and a proxy playground as the US has not been able to put together a coherent force to bring down Assad or defeat ISIS. The Free Syrian Army is a fiction, a nomenclature and false unity attached to groups of mostly Islamist forces, some with loose ties to Al Qaeda and in other cases only a shade removed from groups like ISIS. The rest of the so-named FSA is comprised of small factions of Syrian army defectors, groups of Kurds and handfuls of Syriacs and Druze. There is no unified command and it's not clear who they're fighting against or alongside with. The various groups are just as likely to fight each other.

There are few if any secular Sunnis to speak of and the US has known this all along. This is why the attempted to create a new vetted fighting force but that ended in a dismal failure. Most of them quickly defected to the various Al Qaeda-type groups and handed over their munitions and supplies.

The Russians saw an opportunity and took it. They hope to defeat the all anti-Assad/pro-Islamist militias and force a deal thus securing Assad, blocking ISIS and at the same time preventing the US from gaining complete hegemony of the Levant.

Erdogan wants to defeat the Kurds and keep them from forming a state and creating a political faction within his country. The US is scheming against him and yet they're also more than willing to betray the Kurds. There is no honour among thieves and murderers. Everyone is shaking hands with knives hidden behind their backs.

But again, Putin stepped in and changed all the equations. His motives are less than pure though no more sinister than any of the other proxy actors.

Erdogan was able to defy his electoral setbacks, and push for new elections. His victory signifies in many ways another defeat of the policy the US has pursued for the past 12-13 years. Yet, his victory also secures the need for the moment with regard to Syria.

His victory is mired and clouded by shadowy forces moving against him in the political, military and cultural spheres. NATO is a friend, and one that desperately wants to keep Turkey in their camp. And yet NATO represents a military alliance and that's perhaps where his greatest internal threat lies. The return to Kemalist policies vis-à-vis the Kurds does much to win the military to his side, but will it be enough? Will it stand?

He will necessarily seek to consolidate his power. He knows the US will continue to move against him but quietly, and at present things may be put on 'pause' so to speak. For the moment he's doing what the US wants. Will the 2003 affront to the United States be forgiven and forgotten?

Christians in Turkey run the risk of being caught in the middle. They can be viewed as a potential Fifth Column, a source of intelligence and a means to funnel money into other causes. That said, the US hardly needs to work through Church groups as they do in other places. The US has long ties to the Turkish Underground and many other ways to shake things up.

Christians will serve as a convenient object of scorn, representatives of Western Imperialism and treachery. As Islamists look for quarry, sadly there's a good chance Christians will make inviting targets.