Allen B. West

Obama backing the wrong horse again: Turkey should not be trusted in fight against ISIS

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Tonight we’ll probably hear from President Obama about building a coalition in order to contend with ISIS. And many have stated there should be buy-in from the Arab League nations or Islamic countries – to which I agree. The question is which ones? I believe that Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Bahrain could provide a core of support. I don’t have much trust in Saudi Arabia since the intel sources I read tell me there are quite a few Saudis who are part of ISIS as well as funding from the House of Saud.

As I wrote previously, there is no way I would seek the support of Qatar, knowing fully of their financial support to Hamas and ISIS. There is one other country that I would not enjoin in a fight against ISIS, and that is Turkey. But it seems right now it’s the only country willing to join a coalition, but of course they have caveats — go figure.

As reported by CNS News, “Turkey is the only Islamic country currently identified by the administration as part of a “core coalition” against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL), but as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited Ankara Monday for talks on the threat some Turkish officials voiced misgivings about the initiative. With President Obama preparing to lay out a strategy Wednesday to counter the terrorist group, Turkey’s new foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, expressed concern that international efforts to bolster anti-ISIS forces in northern Iraq could have negative consequences for Turkey.”

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Never mind that Turkey has been turning a blind eye as Islamists have been crossing its border into Syria to fight. Never mind that under current President Recip Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has taken a huge turn towards becoming an Islamist state, even pushing for more sharia law in a country intended by Kemal Ataturk to be secular. And never mind that Turkey has become another major contributor to Islamic terrorist groups, recently supporting Hamas — and they want NATO membership?

So who does Turkey have a problem with? Well, none other than the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, because Turkey fears a strong, well-armed and independent Kurdistan. Of course Turkey is immediately concerned about the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and its insurgent activities against the Turkish government. Further, Turkey isn’t going to admit to the persecution of ethnic Kurds in its own southern region. As well, I doubt you’ve ever heard about the last major genocide in northern Iraq between 1914-1919 of Christians and other religious minorities by the Ottoman Empire, in modern-day Turkey.

CNS News reports that Turkey’s foreign minister specifically said weaponry – which some European countries have already pledged to send to the Peshmerga forces of the Kurdish autonomous region – could end up in the hands of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Cavusoglu told the state-run Anadolu Agency that due to the “sectarian” nature of the Iraqi military, it may be difficult to control what happens to any weaponry the international community may provide. “Weapons being sent should not end up in the hands of terrorist organizations.”

Speaking before talks with Hagel, according to CNS News, “Cavusoglu sounded cautious about what contributions Turkey was willing to make. He said Turkey has agreed in principle to do its part to restabilize the region, but was also “familiar with the realities in the region” and had shared those “facts” with its allies. “We openly told them what will happen, how it will happen, what we will do and what we will not do,” he said. After his meetings in Ankara, Hagel told reporters he had not come to Turkey “to ask for specific missions that they would take on or specific roles that they would perform.”

So why did he waste American taxpayer dollars to go? SecDef Hagel should have been in Irbil or Kirkuk — but perhaps President Obama doesn’t want him there.

So Turkey is trying to dictate to the United States the terms of their support — to wit, we should say, “pound sand.” Turkey is not currently the secular state it was intended to be. And anyway, after the crap they pulled on us in the 4th Infantry Division in 2003 when they changed their mind about our deploying through Turkey to open a northern front in Operation Iraqi Freedom — I don’t trust them. I do trust the Kurds — been there, met them, and while serving in Congress, I often met with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) representatives.

Here is the source of Turkey’s consternation. As CNS News writes, “the ISIS advance across northern Iraq has seen Kurdish factions set aside long-held rivalries, with the PKK, Syrian Kurds and the Peshmerga forces of the Kurdish autonomous region all regarding ISIS as a potential threat to Kurdish aspirations in both Syria and Iraq. The prospect of PKK and Peshmerga cooperating militarily against ISIS has set off alarm bells in Turkey, which fears that growing impetus towards an independent Kurdistan will boost separatism among its own large Kurdish minority. There are more than 30 million Kurds, the largest ethnic group in the world not to have a state of their own, are scattered across Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran.” Unlike the “Palestinians,” Kurds have a separate culture, language, and although Muslim, embrace pro-Western civilizational concepts. They are the second-best ally America has in the region after Israel — and the Kurds are pro-Israel.

From a strategic perspective, if we want to curb Islamism in the Middle East we should invest in these three alliances: Israel, Egypt, and Kurdistan. If there were to be a major strategic imperative from President Obama for the long term “defeat” of Islamo-fascism in the Middle East, he should declare his support of the Kurds and the establishment of a truly independent Kurdistan – to unite this people across the land — a land where there would be respect of Christians and other religious minorities – truly a place of respectful coexistence and economic opportunity.

It would be a strong bulwark against Sunni (Saudi Arabia/Arab) or Shia (Iran/Persian) Muslim militant aims and objectives. And certainly would serve to keep Turkey and Iran honest.

Geopolitics requires long term vision and strategy, but it is a bipartisan failure here in America. ISIS is a terrorist army of some 10,000 to 15,000 strong. It could be destroyed in a month with a focused enemy-oriented massive strike and engagement. However, what next? Obama attempted to pivot away from the Middle East and the cockroaches came out — there has to be a way forward to keep the cockroaches from reappearing.

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