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Solon

Middle East Wars

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The greatest battle against the Islamic State began today. Mosul is the largest and most important city controlled by IS and its capture will mark the end of any claim to be a Caliphate. The US has worked for a couple of years to rebuild cooperation between Sunni tribes, the Kurdish pesh merga, and the Shiite government in Iraq to make this effort possible. The temporary and tenuous unity demonstrated by the offensive is symbolic of the unity needed to create a functional Iraq. It is unlikely to last beyond the capture of the city. US air strikes and special forces coordination are key elements in the offensive. It is expected to be a bloody affair. Approximately one and a half million civilians remain in the city. Retired General David Petraeus spoke yesterday about the ring of fire, underground bunkers, IEDs, and building to building city warfare faced by the coalition. IS will be defeated he said, but the coalition is facing its most difficult military challenge.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/17/world/middleeast/iraq-isis-mosul-battle.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=a-lede-package-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

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us could go in there and wipe out isis with ease.they keep letting these cockroaches scurry into the dark. load upo the drones so you can keep the civilian count low,and bomb the bastards back to the stone age.bush played games with terrorists and obama has been doing basically the same thing. wipe them offf the face of the earth while you still can.i am convinced these terrorists are basically idiots. they take advamtage of our gun laws and have mass killings here ocassionally,but there are ways they could really put us in danger,if i can think of them,somebody that does it for a living damn sure should. i think they bark like st bernards when it fact they are little annoying tiny dogs.

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Retired General David Petraeus spoke yesterday about the ring of fire, underground bunkers, IEDs, and building to building city warfare faced by the coalition. IS will be defeated he said, but the coalition is facing its most difficult military challenge.

 

he is a true idiot if he thinks that. load up the drones and bomb the hell out of them is all it takes to kill them.he and the rest of the us government just want to keep jerking off the american public.

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us could go in there and wipe out isis with ease..

 

Of course we could nuke them, or fire bomb the hell out of them, which is something that Donald Trump wants to do. The objective is to spare the lives of civilians, around one and a half million remaining in Mosul, and create the conditions for an accommodation between the Sunni and Shia populations in Iraq. The rise of the Islamic State, like the rise of al Qaeda in Iraq before it, is a result of the civil war waged between the Shia and Sunni during the US occupation. Gen. Petraeus did not initiate the effort but led the process of winning the cooperation of Sunni tribes who found al Qaeda in Iraq to be as bloodthirsty and vile toward them as Shiites. After our departure, the Shia government in Iraq failed to continue the cooperation with Sunnis that the US developed. That enabled the Islamic State to arise, basically AQI 2.0, based on Sunni anger and frustration at its treatment by the Shia-dominated government in Baghdad. As Petraeus pointed out, and anyone who has followed the conflict since the US invasion agrees, unless cooperation between Shia and Sunni follows the fall of Mosul we can expect ISIS 3.0.

 

The idea that we should just murder over a million innocent victims to kill as few as 6,000 IS militants would qualify as a war crime of the most grotesque sort. At present there are approximately 30,000 forces involved in the encirclement of Mosul to prevent the escape of IS fighters. There are reports that those who have been caught trying to escape before the offensive have been executed by IS itself. A mass murder of the magnitude proposed by Trump would end any cooperation the US would ever get from governments in the Middle East. Moreover, it would make us the target around the world for massive attacks on American civilians, government personnel, soldiers, and property, not to mention the radicalization of multiples of young Muslims in the US and Canada. If we want a war with a billion Muslims that will do it. In other words, it is the most counterproductive proposal imaginable.

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solon,you have to play the same game they are playing,they shoot to kill,not to hurt,but kill.

you said nuke,i did not say that cause we do not need to nuke them.why not ask the saudis to get involved in negotating an end to this and taking in the syrian refugees?

if we want to stop them,yelling trick or treat is not gonna help much. kill them and we no longer have to worry about them,i am talking about soldiers,not innocent people.

 

The Obama/Clinton JV team (ISIS) is still alive and killing innocents.

 

can you name 1 major war that innocent people did not get killed in? are you saying our government is in cohoots with isis? so that must mean you agreee bush 43 is the real cause of this then,right?

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solon,you have to play the same game they are playing,they shoot to kill,not to hurt,but kill.

you said nuke,i did not say that cause we do not need to nuke them.why not ask the saudis to get involved in negotating an end to this and taking in the syrian refugees?

if we want to stop them,yelling trick or treat is not gonna help much. kill them and we no longer have to worry about them,i am talking about soldiers,not innocent people.

 

 

can you name 1 major war that innocent people did not get killed in? are you saying our government is in cohoots with isis? so that must mean you agreee bush 43 is the real cause of this then,right?

 

I don't know what game you are talking about. Also, the problem in city fighting is that the soldiers are mixed in with civilians, so you kill a lot of innocent people if you carpet bomb. You don't specify the means by which you can kill only soldiers in such a setting. In fact, you can't.

 

Also,

1. The Saudis actually put together the team of opposition groups in Syria that attempted to negotiate with the Assad government to end the war via some kind of agreement. Assad and the Russians seem to think they can destroy eastern Aleppo and win the war. Time will tell if that is true. I tend to think it is an illusion.

 

2. Syrian refugees evidently prefer Europe, Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey to Saudi Arabia. Frankly, who can blame them.

 

3. Of course innocent people die in war, but to deliberately massacre as many as a million Sunnis to end the territorial rule of ISIS would be criminal as well as stupid. As I said before, it would alienate a billion Muslims for no good reason. The Islamic State is shrinking into oblivion and has been for the last year.

 

4. The effort to take Mosul, which is an Iraqi city, is important for the Iraqi government. It must prove its ability to defend its territory in order to create a viable country. This campaign is about more than ISIS which will eventually lose. It is about creating a viable peace between Iraqi Shias and Iraqi Sunnis. That is ultimately the most critical part of the campaign. The failure to do that in the wake of the US war in Iraq is the reason for the rise of the Islamic State and al Qaeda in Iraq before it.

 

5. The enmity between Sunnis and Shias existed long before the United States existed. The particular circumstances in Iraq were unleashed as a result of the US invasion. Is the sectarian civil war all George Bush's fault? In this particular case his actions provided the occasion for it to erupt in Iraq. Some historians point to that as the trigger for the current conflict. (Fawaz Gerges, ISIS: A History is the most recent book to argue that.) At this point it doesn't matter much except as a counter to the absurd notion that Obama and Clinton created ISIS. The problem to be faced is how do we clean up this mess...and the "we" doesn't mean just the United States.

 

Also, the constant claim is made that Obama's withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq made possible the rise of ISIS. I think there is some truth to that in so far as the continued presence of US troops might have continued the pacification of Sunnis begun during the Petraeus era. HOWEVER, Obama offered to leave around 5,000 US troops in Iraq, but that was rejected. The Bush administration had negotiated the Status of Forces Agreement that required all US troops to leave. It wasn't Obama who did that, it was the Bush administration. Obama's offer had to be approved by the Iraqi Parliament and it refused to do so. The reason the US could not leave troops was because the Iraqi government would not allow US troops to be judged by US law rather than Iraqi law. This requirement is a part of every agreement where US forces are stationed. The whole issue became toxic in Iraq as a result of the massacre of Iraqi civilians by a private security force, Blackwater. It poisoned the waters so badly that no Iraqi Parliamentarian could expect to be elected to office if he voted to allow US troops not to be subject to Iraqi criminal law. This was especially true in 2008 when the SOFA was negotiated and signed. Its key provision required all US troops to leave Iraq by the end of 2011. Obama, like a typical politician, took credit for the departure, but he had no control over it.

 

The Status of Forces Agreement signed by the Bush administration expired after three years, which is why US troops can be invited back by the Iraqi PM without the approval of Parliament. If SOFA still existed, the Islamic State would be a permanent fixture of the Iraqi countryside.

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Russia is being pulled into the Syrian conflict to a greater and greater degree. It was predictable. The map below shows just how far Russia had to send its fleet of one aircraft carrier to get to Syria. This is incredibly costly. NATO member Turkey controls the Straits through which Russia is unable to sail, making this expensive trip necessary. It just points out another strategic deficiency Russia faces in trying to be a world power. On the old forum I posted a thread about Putin being clever, devious, and foolish. Look at the map below and I think you will concur with the foolish part.

 

http://ichef-1.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/176F/production/_92099950_russian_flotilla_map624_v4.png

(the map is too large a file to post here)

 

Clinton's proposal to create a no fly zone is two years outdated. That does not prevent a safe zone protected by US air power. Turkey is the key to that. The difference may appear to be merely semantics, but if the US could broker a ceasefire between Syrian Turks and Erdogan in Turkey, the Turks and Kurds could control the ground and the US provide the air cover with only a small commitment to ground forces. That seems very unlikely at present.

 

(Trump, of course, has no idea what this discussion is about. He is so clueless it's embarrassing to all Americans that he is the nominee of any party, much less the Republican party.)

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There is an excellent article today in the NY Times that provides a broader geopolitical explanation for the current chaos in the Middle East. The contest between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran was a topic of interest on the old forum, but this article provides background and brings us up to date. Basically, the message is that the US is not and has never been in a position to impose a peace in the Middle East. We are a participant in causing the political chaos, death, and destruction, but we have never been in control of the situation.

 

 

Behind much of the Middle East’s chaos — the wars in Syria and Yemen, the political upheaval in Iraq and Lebanon and Bahrain — there is another conflict.

 

Saudi Arabia and Iran are waging a struggle for dominance that has turned much of the Middle East into their battlefield. Rather than fighting directly, they wield and in that way worsen the region’s direst problems: dictatorship, militia violence and religious extremism.

 

The history of their rivalry tracks — and helps to explain — the Middle East’s disintegration, particularly the Sunni-Shiite sectarianism both powers have found useful to cultivate. It is a story in which the United States has been a supporting but constant player, most recently by backing the Saudi war in Yemen, which kills hundreds of civilians. These dynamics, scholars warn, point toward a future of civil wars, divided societies and unstable governments.

 

How the Iranian-Saudi Proxy Struggle Tore Apart the Middle East

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/world/middleeast/iran-saudi-proxy-war.html?ref=world&_r=0

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The Syrian government with the backing of Russia and Iran has split the opposition forces in Aleppo and taken one third of the former rebel territory in the eastern part of the city. It would appear that Aleppo will fall sometime in the future. The refugee crisis will only grow more deadly as the million or so civilians seek safety. The Syrian army is seriously depleted as are the rebels and a negotiated peace would surely follow if the Iranians and Russians were not involved on such a significant scale.

 

Even if Assad is able to pacify a significant portion of the country, sectarian hatreds have been intensified between Sunni and Shia, and the Kurds have carved out a formidable regional entity. Peace in any meaningful term is not on the horizon even with the fall of Aleppo.

 

There is no incentive for Trump to continue any assistance to the rebels and it is likely that he will abandon the Kurds in a fight with Russian-backed Syria. His pledge to bomb IS may be a cover for joining the Russians in a reign of destruction on the resistance. IS in Syria is likely to grow in strength, at least temporarily, as Mosul in Iraq is gradually reduced to rubble. Fighters can still escape from Iraq to Syria and attempt to prevent the fall of Raqqa, the "capital" of the Caliphate.

 

While Americans can ignore the horrific death and destruction in the Middle East, we are not immune to its effects. There will be consequences.

 

Aleppo siege: Third of rebel-held Syria city taken by forces

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-38128370

 

Aleppo Map

http://ichef-1.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/50DA/production/_92689602_aleppo_corridors_624_211116.png

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The fight for Aleppo is over. The government and opposition forces have agreed to end the fighting. Opposition forces will vacate their last remaining enclave and leave Aleppo. Civilians have the option of remaining or leaving according to the BBC report.

 

This is a major victory for Assad and his Iranian, Hisbullah, and Russian backers. All major population centers are now in government control and ISIS remains the most powerful opponent of the regime. The US has acquiesced in this apparent defeat for one very important reason. The opposition to Assad was dominated by radical Islamic factions, the largest and most powerful until recently affiliated with al Qaeda. The US sought to produce and support a moderate faction of fighters, but has had little success. Failing that, the US sought a peace agreement between opposing Syrian forces that would protect the civilian population, but Assad saw no point in that once Russia intervened, and the US was not prepared to send in US troops or establish a no-fly zone.

 

What comes next will be interesting to watch. Will Assad and his allies turn to the destruction of Kurdish fighters who have largely targeted ISIS and protected their enclave. or will they turn to face ISIS which has recaptured Palmyra during the Aleppo offensive, or will they seek to exterminate the remaining opposition, largely Sunni, that remains a military threat and still controls large swaths of Syria?

 

Assad and his allies have committed atrocities on a large scale. As late as today there were reports that more than 80 civilians had been gunned down as his fighters moved from house to house prior to the announcement of the opposition's agreement to leave Aleppo. These crimes will make pacification much more difficult in the long run as the Assad regime seeks to establish control over the entire nation.

 

The capture of Aleppo will not end this war.

 

Trump will have a decision to make when he takes office whether to continue to support the Kurds and some elements of the the opposition fighting Assad whom the US has aided with money and air support in attacking ISIS, or abandon them entirely and align US policy with Russia and Syria.

 

 

Military action has ended in eastern Aleppo, Russia's ambassador to the UN has said.

Vitaly Churkin said the government had re-established control over the last areas of the city held by rebels.

The announcement, if confirmed, brings to an end more than four years of vicious fighting.

Earlier Mr Churkin said an arrangement had been made for rebel fighters to leave the city. Rebels have confirmed the deal.

 

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-38308883

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Naturally each side blames the other, but does it seem probable that the Assad government was going to let a group of surrounded and outnumbered rebels just ride out of the city to fight again...not bloody likely.

 

 

"The clashes are violent and bombardment is very heavy... it seems as though everything (the ceasefire) is finished," Rami Abdulrahman, director of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) monitoring group, said.

The SOHR also said aircraft had resumed bombing in rebel-held areas.

Russia - Syria's ally - said the Syrian army resumed firing after the rebels broke the truce. Syrian TV reported rebel rocket fire on government-held parts of the city and said at least six people had been killed.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Syrian forces of breaking the ceasefire deal and called the situation in Aleppo "very fragile". He said civilians had to be allowed to leave.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-38314291

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Turkey and the Kurds in Context.

 

The PKK--the Kurdish Worker's Party--has fought an off and on civil war with the government of Turkey in a quest for civil and cultural autonomy for the Kurdish minority estimated to be around 25% of the nation’s population during the last 30 years or so. The US along with NATO and the EU have labeled them a terrorist group since Turkey is a member of NATO. Lately, the political organization and its military wing have expanded their reach beyond Turkey (and Iraq where they have a presence in autonomous Kurdistan) and taken leadership of the Syrian Kurds renaming themselves the People's Defense Units or YPG. This group is the most determined and successful of the militias fighting ISIL. The US has given them arms and assistance as well as considerable air cover. They have taken Kobani, blocked an important route for trade and contact between Raqqua and Mosul, and are gradually moving in on Raqqa itself, the so-called capital of the Islamic State. As you may have observed by now, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

 

The PKK had begun peace negotiations with the Erdogan government in 2013, but they broke down this June when a Kurdish party gained parliamentary seats in an election that denied Erdogan a super majority (one that would allow him to change the Turkish Constitution so he could become an imperial President). Fighting began again and there have been deaths on both sides with the Turkish government resorting to air strikes on Kurdish/PKK sites.

 

To contravene the growing power of the PKK among Syrian Kurds, the Turkish government became involved in the training of non-PKK Kurds in Iraq to assist them in the capture of Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq and presently under the control of the Islamic State. Although this had been ongoing for a while, the Iraqi government suddenly raised hell publicly and at the UN about this “violation of Iraq’s sovereignty”. After initial belligerence, the Turkish government withdrew troops from northern Iraq and expressed its desire to cooperate with the Iraqi government.

 

Since these events, the US has increased its commitment to the Kurds in Syria as they move in on Raqqa at the same time that Kurdish terrorist actions have increased in Turkey. Just this week...

 

Turkish authorities arrested at least 291 officials and members of a major parliamentary opposition party on terrorism charges Monday, following a deadly twin bomb attack in Istanbul that killed at least 44 people.

 

The arrests marked the continuation of government reprisals against the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (known by the Turkish acronym HDP), which controls the third-largest bloc in Turkey’s parliament. The arrests come in the context of a broader crackdown on critics of the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has moved to shore up his own power after surviving a deadly military coup attempt last July.

 

The pair of bombings outside Vodafone Arena in central Istanbul on Saturday night killed dozens of police officers and several civilians, including a medical student and a minibus driver. The blasts were heard miles away, rattling Turkey’s largest city just an hour and a half after the conclusion of a match at the stadium. A splinter group of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) called the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons said that it carried out the attack.

http://time.com/4598362/istanbul-stadium-bombing-kurdish-party/

 

Today (Dec. 17) another terrorist attack killed 13 Turkish soldiers and wounded another 56. It appears to be the work of the PKK or its offshoot.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-38350662

 

This is a serious complication for the US, given its support and close cooperation with Kurds in Syria and Iraq against the Islamic State, and its frayed relationship with its NATO ally, Turkey. Erdogan is demanding the expulsion of a Muslim leader he accuses of being the principle instigator of the coup attempt. Obama has refused until the Turkish government presents evidence to implicated the mullah.

 

In Iraq the Kurds are essential to the capture of Mosul as the attack continues to progress and US air power is being employed to protect and assist them.

 

What Trump will do remains a complete mystery, and his advisers are likely to be at odds with each other given their past positions. The complex and sometimes opaque alliances that exist in the conflict between militias opposing the Assad regime, the regime itself, Turkey, the Islamic State, Kurds in Syria, Kurds in Iraq, the US, the Iraqi government, Sunni tribes in iraq, the Iranian government, Iranian militias in Iraq, Hisbullah, and the Russians make this a Gordian knot that cannot be cut or disentangled in the foreseeable future regardless of what the Trump administration attempts.

 

Even the fall of Aleppo, while it is a victory for Assad, Russia, and Iran, only intensifies the war in other areas. It solves nothing.

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The Trump administration has launched approximately 60 cruise missiles at the Syrian air base from which a chemical weapons attack was launched last week. The Syrian action came after Assad and the Russians had claimed to have removed all such weapons from the country in 2013 in an effort to forestall military action from the Obama administration. I think the US had no alternative but to react decisively to this violation of international law and its slap in the face to the US and Russia. If the Russians were complicit, they deserve to suffer consequences as well. It may be, however, that they were embarrassed by this action. Since the sarin gas attack, they have consistently denied that it took place. Either this was an effort to save face or a effort to cover Syrian criminality.

 

Only a few days ago, Secretary of State Tillerson stated that the Syrian people would decide the fate of Assad. Those comments left the impression, as had previous comments by Trump, that the US was not prepared to take any action against Assad. This policy of indifference may have led Assad to launch the chemical weapons attack as some observers have suggested, believing he could do so with impunity. If so, this policy incoherence has had an unpredictable result. It led Assad to show his hand and, possibly, that of Russia. Trump's attack is entirely justified. We do not know what the response of both Russia and Syria may be, but we must be prepared to deal with them.

 

We are told that a number of friendly countries were notified and approved of the attack. Russia was also contacted so that we could avoid killing any of their personnel. The objective was to send a message and destroy the air field. We will know soon enough if the message was received.

 

http://www.latimes.com/politics/washington/la-na-essential-washington-updates-1491533682-htmlstory.html

 

Tiillerson stated tonight that Russia was either dishonest or incompetent in its claim to have overseen the elimination of all chemical weapons in the possession of the Assad regime. Their response has been to condemn the US and call for Security Council action. Such behavior suggests culpability in the sarin gas attack given that they had personnel in the air base at the time the strikes were launched.

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Russia has shown its hand. By condemning US action, denying that the chemical weapons attack took place, and pulling out of an agreement to minimize the risk of in-flight incidents between U.S. and Russian aircraft operating over Syria, Russia is clearly complicit in Syria's crime against humanity. As part of the deal with the Obama administration, Syria signed the UN pledge never to use chemical weapons. By violating that pledge, Assad has earned the condemnation of the world. That Russia would attempt to shield the Assad regime from Security Council sanctions adds to its complicit behavior.

 

There has been a real fear that Trump was going to attempt to emulate Russia's authoritarian regime and tolerate its vicious campaign against the Ukrainian and Syrian people. Last night's action suggest that national interests may come first. Only time will tell if that is true. There are still too many conflicts of interest, kleptocratic, and nepotistic elements in Trump's government to overlook. Trump's actions last night have won him support from many of his critics temporarily at least.

 

Russia condemns U.S. missile strike on Syria, suspends key air agreement

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/russia-condemns-us-missile-strike-on-syria/2017/04/07/c81ea12a-1b4e-11e7-8003-f55b4c1cfae2_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_russiasyria-3am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.d94d4bc7538c

 

 

_95503349_shayrat_map_plus_image.png

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those countries are gonnna always fight because it is easier for them to fight than it is to get along.

 

Thats quite an elementary statement to make. As for we could "easily wipe ISIS off the map"; you can't be serious. They are not home-based, they are not soundly infrastructured, and they recruit all over even in the black web and social media all over the world. Its a long battle, and the nomination of General Mad Dog Mattis was a GREAT one! Also, a troubling thing about the Trump administration is that he did NOT extend the ban on Saudi Arabia (the home of Bin Laden and breeding grounds for global terror) and he has had personal business ties with that nation.

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Bruce Bartlett‏ @BruceBartlett

 

 

They told me if I voted for Hillary we'd be at war in Syria in 6 months. I voted for Hillary and we were at war in Syria within 6 months.

 

Just saying...

 

Reuters Top News‏

@Reuters

 

 

JUST IN: Syrian warplanes take off from air base hit by U.S., carry out strikes in Homs countryside - Syrian observatory for human rights

 

I spent 60 million dollars and all I got was a lousy pothole? Hmmm...let's see those after strike photos again.

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This Sunday is an important day in Turkish history. Therefore, it is an important day in the history of NATO, and the US position in the Middle East. I wrote in some detail on the old forum about the termination of the peace talks between Erdogan's government and the Kurdish PKK. I won't repeat the lengthy background, but some explanation is necessary.

 

The Kurds are an important minority in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. The Kurds sought, were promised, and ultimately denied an independent state in the post WWI Treaty of Sevres, a component of the Peace of Paris, that created the territorial and political conditions for the end of the war in the Ottoman Empire. The failure of Sevres led to further fighting, primarily between Greece and Turkey, resulting in a successor Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.

 

The Kurds in Turkey, led by a Marxist revolutionary party, the Kurdish Worker's Party known as the PKK, began a low grade resistance to the harsh secular nationalism of Kemal Ataturk's successors over thirty years ago. The PKK abandoned its Marxist origins along the way and its leader, isolated in a Turkish prison in recent years, has called for negotiations with the Erdogan government for the right to use the Kurdish language in schools and a degree of cultural autonomy, but not a separate state. Other Kurds have organized a successful political party, the People's Democratic Party (HDP), that won a significant number of seats in Parliament with the support of many non-Kurds. In an election two years ago it won enough seats to deny Erdogan the referendum he will have on Sunday. The referendum seeks to transform Turkey from a legislature-centered government into an executive-centered government. Current polls are inconclusive about the outcome.

 

When Erdogan lost his bid for the referendum two years ago he terminated talks with the Kurdish PKK, relaunched the internal war against the Kurds, and attempted to sabotage the non-PKK political party. He blamed the Kurds for his failure. Now, after the failed coup, the imprisonment of thousands of political opponents and the firing of as many as 100,000 civil servants from teachers to policemen, Erdogan is in a position to seek the constitutional changes that would essentially give him the dictatorial powers he needs to legitimate his personal rule. The president would have the power to dissolve Parliament at will, the prime minister position would be eliminated, and Erdogan would legitimately remain in office until at least 2029.

 

Erdogan will react violently to a rejection which probably means a more severe crackdown on political opponents and a wider war on the Kurds. However, it will also show that his best efforts to isolate, imprison, or wage war on his political enemies has been insufficient to validate his quest for personal dictatorship. It will show a residual support for democratic government, in spite of the personal popularity Erdogan has enjoyed since 2002.

 

If he wins, it is possible that Erdogan will seek a return to peace talks with the Kurds and relax his harshness towards his own bureaucracy. In the short run it will mean a milder exercise of power. In the long run it will result in the imposition of a legalized dictatorship.

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By a vote of 51.4% Turkey chose an Erdogan dictatorship...or so the Turkish electoral commission determined. The opposition protested that there were some significant irregularities as in the acceptance of unverified ballots. Election monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said the "referendum process was held on an 'unlevel playing field', with campaigning restrictions and late procedural changes" that disadvantaged those opposed to Erdogan's grab for power. With such a disputed result, Turkey will remain discontented and many people there and abroad will view Erdogan's victory as tainted and illegitimate.

 

The US and its NATO allies will not look favorably on this turn of events. The European Union will no longer consider Turkey a legitimate candidate for membership.

 

The US airbase at Incirlik, which has been crucial to our attacks on ISIL in Syria, makes Turkish cooperation valuable. Close cooperation between US forces and Syrian Kurds, especially in the ongoing campaign to take Raqqa, however, has angered Erdogan. With his status more firmly in place, he may feel even freeer to move Turkey closer to Russia now that he occupies a political position more like that of Putin than the US president. Speculation aside, we will know soon enough what to expect from the dictator of Turkey.

 

Turkey referendum: Campaign on Erdogan powers 'unequal'

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39622335

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According to Reuters via NY Times "Monday Briefing"

 

 

• The consequences of Turkey’s turn toward a more authoritarian rule are already felt overseas.

 

The authorities in Germany, which is home to Europe’s largest Turkish diaspora, have accused some imams sent by Ankara of spying on critics of Mr. Erdogan.

And a day before Sunday’s vote, a prosecutor in Turkey opened an investigation into prominent Americans, including a former C.I.A. director, accusing them of fomenting last year’s failed coup.

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The Iraqi PM, al Abadi, is in Mosul to congratulate the Iraqi army on its successful conquest of the last great stronghold of ISIS in Iraq. The Sunni terrorists still control a small amount of territory, but the so-called Caliphate has been shattered.

 

The dispersal of 900,000 residents, the near complete destruction of buildings and infrastructure, and the remaining bitterness between the Sunni survivors and the Shiite government pose a challenge no Iraqi government has had to meet before. The last time the Sunni areas were pacified, the al Maliki government abused the leadership and the population leading to the rise of ISIS. Will history repeat itself under even more difficult conditions for the government to manage?

 

The role of the US has been decisive. The Obama administration was instrumental in the appointment of al Abadi to replace al Maliki and the retraining of an Iraqi army decimated by corruption and incompetent sectarian leadership. The retrained army has proven resilient in extremely difficult fighting. US air power has been a vital part of the victory. Ironically, given the Trump administration's open hostility toward Iran, a battlefield tolerance has been practiced between US forces and Iranian-backed militias who participated in the conquest. Some measure of continued tolerance will be necessary for Iraq to heal its wounds.

 

The Trump administration has expressed a general hostility to foreign aid, but walking away from Iraq now would put at risk the success of the moment. Mattis is well aware that continuing the policies of the Obama administration was critical to defeating ISIS, so it is possible, dare one hope--probable, that he will see to it that the US does not walk away from Iraq and allow a third Sunni uprising with its terrorist foundation to occur.

 

 

 

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