Well, it looks like some of the Kurds finally won a round in their ongoing battle with the Turks for the hearts and minds of the American military. The press has reported that we are arming their YPG units for the campaign to take Raqqa and deprive ISIS of its capital. Of course the Turks are complaining loudly that those Kurds are terrorists, a spinoff of the hated PKK that operates within Turkey and the label terrorist because sometimes it resists Turkish efforts to eliminate it.
If you’re unsnarling a fishline you look for the more important knots and go after them. In the Syria mess, I would agree that the knot that most needs untangling is the Turkish propensity to label all Kurds terrorists and enemies no matter which battles they are fighting and where. They hate the Kurds for historic reasons and being Turks are pretty stubborn about it. The Kurds have a charismatic leader, Ocalan, who looks as reasonable as Mandela did way back when, and if the South Africans could work out their problem the Turks could at least start talking to Ocalan and see what was possible. No way, they are still a long way from dickering with him.
Our military has worked with the Kurdish YPG and come to respect them as the gang that wins its fights. There is evidently a lot of respect there, even the affection of one brother in arms to another. So this little affair between us and the Turks over the Kurds has gotten to the point, who blinks first? Or rather, from the Turkish point of view, to blink or not to blink?
This version of the eternal triangle has happened to us before in one form or another and it has always been our side to blink first. Turkey’s an important country with an important army and it’s in NATO, and in the past its our side that gives way. This time it’s different. Turkey’s still important, but someone must have pointed out that we are important to Turkey too. And the Turks have drawn heavily on the credit they have with us, what with a lurch toward authoritarianism, telling Europe to go to hell, the Gulen affair, all while this thing about the Kurds continues to get in the way of practically everything we are trying to do in the region. So our military is saying, this time, old buddy, you have to suck it up, we’re going our way not yours.
I hope Turkey will accept this decision of our military’s. I think they will, but paper it over so it looks like something else. They cannot abandon us without it hurting them a more than it hurts them. On the other hand, they are very stubborn and feel about Kurds as strongly as a plantation owner in our antebellum south felt about his slaves. The situation could get worse before it gets better. But that’s always been the case in the Middle East.
At least, the Kurds seem to have won a round, for a change.