By Michael Collins
Turkish President Recep Teyyip Erdogan’s attempts to demonize the Syrian Kurd’s YPG army and threaten and bully the United States are having the net effect of creating a powerful movement for his removal based on a rationale that will encourage the public in the United States and Europe to forget the real culprits in the tragic attack on Syria and focus on charges of genocide leveled against ISIS. The genocide charge will be tied to Erdogan as a result of his documented support for ISIS and ultimately doom his increasingly dictatorial rule of Turkey. Rather than divert the attention of Turks from his crimes and massive negligence as a means to preserve his power, Erdogan’s castigation of the Kurds and, more significantly, his public blackmail of the U.S. will spell his doom in the near future.
Erdogan is lashing out in all directions as he experiences the collapse of his allout support for Syrian rebels, including ISIS. The president’s anger at the United States is both surprising and dangerous. For weeks, Erdogan has objected to U.S. support of the YPG, the Syrian Kurdish army that controls nearly the entire Syrian border region with Turkey.
The spark that lit Erdogan’s fuse occurred about ten days before the start of the U.S. – Russia sponsored Munich peace conference on the Syrian conflict. The YPG and the Syrian Arab Army are the only major land forces fighting ISIS. While YPG should have been invited to the Munich conference, the U.S. accommodated Erdogan by leaving them off list of invited parties.
About the same time that YPG was removed from the Munich conference, the White House sent Brett McGurk, “President Barack Obama’s envoy to an international coalition fighting IS in Syria and Iraq” to visit Syrian Kurdish forces in Kobani, Syria. French and British officials made the trip with McGurk. The envoy made clear U.S. admiration and support for the YPG’s efforts. Unlike Erdogan and his foreign minister, the Kurds welcomed the delegation with open arms and muted their concerns about being left out of the Munich affair.
Instead of accepting a partial victory, Erdogan and his foreign minister threatened the U.S. with a harsh choice. The U.S. must show that it is either for Turkey by labeling the YPG as terrorists or against Turkey by continuing to support YPG and its efforts against ISIS.
Bitterness toward the U.S. continued, including implied threats of a Turkish-Saudi land attack on Syria.
The Turks then took direct action by shelling YPG forces that were closing in on the critical Syrian border town of Azas.
Despite the provocation, Washington tried to be even handed. State Department spokesman Mark Toner suggested that the YPG stop its advance on Azaz and, at the same time, asked the Turks to end their daily barrage of YPG and other anti-ISIS forces in Syria. The Turkish army continued the barrage.
After days of threats to the U.S. and rash actions against its Kurdish allies, on February 20 The Saker noted the abject folly of Erdogan’s statements and actions: “If Erdogan and his advisors seriously believe that they can publicly blackmail a superpower like the USA then their days are numbered.“
Unfortunately, for Erdogan, he didn’t get The Saker’s memo. On February 24, the Turkish leader said: “If Daesh (IS/ISIS) and Al-Nusra are kept outside the ceasefire, then the PYD-YPG must similarly be excluded from the ceasefire for it is a terrorist group just as they are,” Erdogan told local officials in Ankara.”
Why is the current Turkish government obsessed with the YPG? There are several reasons, none of them related to terrorism and all of them about the survival of the amazingly corrupt and repellant Erdogan, his family, and cronies in the AKP party.
What do Erdogan and company have to fear?
Erdogan and his cronies were caught engaged in the following on publicly released audiotapes: instructing his son on how and where to hide huge sums of cash that neither party wanted found; telling judges how to decide critical cases in his interests; planning a false flag operation in which Turkish troops would fire weapons at the Turkish border from within Syria and assign the blame to Syria; ordering government takeovers of private corporations, media outlets in particular, that simply opposed his government; ordering the release of weapons bound for Syrian rebels held up by local authorities at the Syrian border; and enabling the transit and sale of ISIS oil traveling over the Turkish landmass and shipped from Turkish ports.
These criminal acts are well known in Turkey. Should any government other than one controlled by Erdogan come to power, then Erdogan, his family members, and his cronies will go to trial and likely be sentenced to serious jail time.
What does Erdogan have to fear more than jail?
You might ask why I didn’t say Vladimir Putin. That’s simple. Putin is indeed Erdogan’s enemy, one he should greatly fear. However, Erdogan doesn’t work for Putin, he works for Obama. Putin can make life very difficult for Erdogan, but only Obama can fire him. Turkey is part of NATO, which is up to its neck in supporting Islamic extremists fighting to topple the government of Syria. More specifically, Erdogan has been a willing servant of the White House through Turkey’s key role in training, supplying, and transferring foreign fighters into Syria and supporting homegrown rebels.
Erdogan’s wholehearted support of the Syrian rebels didn’t happen as a result of any long-held Shia-Sunni antipathy or due to his steadfast opposition to Bashar Al-Assad, Syria’s elected president. As late as 2010, Erdogan was engaged in personal diplomacy with Al-Assad for closer trade and security relations. But when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said ‘Assad must go,’ Erdogan fell in line immediately. This path was sweetened by inducements by Saudi Arabia but there was no question that the maestro was (and is): President Barack Obama.
Over recent weeks, as it became obvious that the U.S. ‘Assad must go’ policy was a failure, it was time for Erdoğan to back down and follow the leader. This was necessary for two compelling reasons. First, Erdogan isn’t the leader. Obama is. Turkey is not the world’s dominant superpower. The United States is.
The second reason to follow Obama’s lead is subtler.
Everything Turkey has done to stoke the flames of Islamist extremism, including support for the rise of ISIS, was done with the full knowledge and, in many cases, involvement of the White House and its subordinates in London, Paris, and Berlin. Turkey was the frontline state. But Obama and his supporting cast of NATO leaders were providing instructions and pitching in.
Had Turkey cooperated and allowed what will happen inevitably to happen quietly, i.e., peace in Syria with a government chosen by Syrians, then the White House and company could have taken a victory lap with the knowledge than no one will be inclined to take a serious look at what they all did to destroy a society.
By failing to cooperate and making a spectacle of defying Obama, Turkey raises the risk of a more detailed examination of this entire sordid affair – the real cause of the loss of 250,000 lives in Syria; the real cause of the refugee crisis (there was none prior to the attack on Syria); the strong support, direct or indirect, by all parties of jihadist extremists who gloried in the killing of Christians, Druze, and other minorities in Syria.
Erdogan’s attempt to create an ever expanding set of dramas to divert public attention finally provoked what appears to be a rationale for his removal.
Here’s the emerging basis for end pseudo Sultan’s demise.
Foundations for the end of Erdogan – backing ISIS genocide
The White House is facing pressure to label as genocide the actions of ISIS.. The pressure comes from American Catholics, the Vatican, Republicans, and some Democrats including Hillary Clinton, and an assortment of academics.
Secretary of State John Kerry was pressured to apply the label at a recent congressional hearing. At that hearing of the House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations (February 24), Representative Jeff Fortenberry, Republican of Nebraska, asked Secretary of State John Kerry to “use the authority and power of your office to call this [ISIS attacks on Christians and other minorities] genocide.” Kerry responded by saying “… obviously none of us have ever seen anything like this in our lifetimes though obviously to go back to the holocaust the world has seen it.”
A press by Rep. Fortenberry’s office just after the hearing demonstrated the bipartisan nature of the effort to declare ISIS anathema.
“A growing coalition is urging the world to recognize that ISIL is committing genocide against Christians, Yezidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities. While Secretary of State John Kerry has not yet reached that conclusion [to label ISIS acts as genocide], I was grateful for his willingness to openly engage in a thoughtful dialogue on this gravely important matter. I hope the State Department makes a comprehensive and inclusive genocide designation soon.”
This is not at all typical behavior by House Republicans toward the secretary of state and it is no accident. The words “grateful and willingness to engage” along with “thoughtful dialog” are a clear sign of bipartisan coalescence against ISIS. Those in Congress and the White House who supported the cause of Syrian rebels and who enabled Turkey’s supply of material and funds by their failure to object are now standing together to characterize ISIS actions in the harshest terms, genocide.
This accomplishes two purposes. It provides a major diversion from any serious examination of the history of U.S. policy in the conflict, including the start of the attack by demands that ‘Assad must go.’
The genocide label is also a pretext to correctly label President Erdogan and his cronies as both supporters of ISIS and the acts of genocide. The accusation is the opening act for the end of the Erdogan government. When the State Department does what Kerry indicated it will do by mid March, label ISIS actions as genocide, the sentence will be served and the survival of Erdogan’s government will become an affront to the world, the European Union, and NATO. How on earth can we have a nation, an international partner, that supports a group committing genocide will be the question asked again and again.
U.S., British, and French supporters of the attack on Syria will be able to hide their complicity in this abomination of a policy behind the more sensational demands that something be done to end the genocide. Since Turkey is the hands-on culprit as ISIS enabler and ally, there will be no possibility of distancing from the charge. At that point, Erdogan’s opponents in the AKP, who are already hinting of a party break up, and the three main opposition parties will unite to demand Erdogan’s removal. AKP founders Bulent Arinc and Abdullah Gul are two well known, highly regarded figures to watch. Arinc has already openly criticized the president about his policy towards Turkey’s Kurds. A direct attack on Erdoğan by Gul for the ISIS scheme may well provide the coup de grace.
How that removal happens depends on the power centers of Turkish society. Erdogan will be hard pressed to find many supporters willing to risk EU trade relationships and NATO membership simply to preserve the power of the would-be Sultan. The president will struggle to find any business leaders or merchants to champion his cause if the Russian sanctions are joined or expanded by European nations. Erdogan will be a dictator unable to issue dictates, a bully who finds himself smaller that those he has consistently bullied, and, worst of all, an embarrassing and damaging inconvenience and impediment.
Erdogan is already doomed. He just doesn’t know it