Kobani questions abound

Stratfor provides insights into understanding Turkish President Erdogan’s ambiguous actions regarding ISIS, in an interesting piece, “Why Turkey Will Not Help Kobani”:

“Turkey does not sponsor the Islamic State, nor does Erdogan actively collude with the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. But Turkey has done little to prevent the group from wresting control of Kobani, and its abstention from the conflict has raised concerns among its neighbors and the United States. In fact, Turkey has not participated in the campaign against the Islamic State at all even though the militant group holds positions precariously close to its southern flank. Instead, it has elected to secure its border. With the most powerful conventional fighting force in the region, Ankara knows it will not succumb to the group’s advances as Iraq did. With that in mind, Erdogan and his associates are looking at the bigger picture — a view that conflicts with Washington’s plans for the Levant.”

The Independent, a British publication ran a lengthy opinion piece, “War against Isis: US strategy in tatters as militants march”, offering the following views on Turkey’s reluctant support:

“In the course of the past week it has become clear that Turkey considers the Syrian Kurd political and military organisations, the PYD and YPG, as posing a greater threat to it than the Islamic fundamentalists. Moreover, the PYD is the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984.

Ever since Syrian government forces withdrew from the Syrian Kurdish enclaves or cantons on the border with Turkey in July 2012, Ankara has feared the impact of self-governing Syrian Kurds on its own 15 million-strong Kurdish population.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would prefer Isis to control Kobani, not the PYD. When five PYD members, who had been fighting Isis at Kobani, were picked up by the Turkish army as they crossed the border last week they were denounced as “separatist terrorists”.”

Sounds like the oft-repeated saying, “one group’s terrorists are another group’s freedom fighters”, but there you have it.  Not being an expert nor on the ground in Kobani to ascertain which Kurdish groups determinedly fight on to hold Kobani, I’d welcome any information or insights into the US stance on the PKK, PYD and YPG and on the boots on the ground units, for whom we’re providing air support in this war plan of President Obama’s.  This reminds me of our intervention in the former Yugoslavia, where we armed KLA separtists, whom certainly wouldn’t meet even the most generous definition of “moderates”.

Once again, the Obama administration seems stuck on parsing, because they don’t understand the lay of the land, the history of the region, the rivalries, hostilities or alliances in this volatile region fraught with many duplicitous players.  A safe bet is that “moderates” aren’t in Kobani, vowing to fight to their death.  The American press has presented these Kurdish fighters as heroic freedom fighters, but does our intelligence and historical research support that image?  Are we witnessing two terrorist entities fighting it out in Kobani?  Shouldn’t our CINC have a grasp of the details and a clear understanding of the positions of regional leaders, before launching air strikes?  Opinions and insights to help sort this out are welcome.


Filed under Foreign Policy, General Interest, Military, Politics, The Media

18 responses to “Kobani questions abound

  1. JK

    “Note: The following map was prepared by Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters. It was published in the Armed Forces Journal in June 2006, Peters is a retired colonel of the U.S. National War Academy. (Map Copyright Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters 2006).

    “The map of the “New Middle East” was a key element in the retired Lieutenant-Colonel’s book, Never Quit the Fight, which was released to the public on July 10, 2006. This map of a redrawn Middle East was also published, under the title of Blood Borders: How a better Middle East would look, in the U.S. military’s Armed Forces Journal with commentary from Ralph Peters.

    (Well. So much for getting just the map to stick.)


  2. JK

    Okay okay.

    Just I’d never heard of Madsen before. How was I to know he was Pennsylvania Dutch? And therefore probably put out nonsense like the Tonkin Gulf Incident being bullshit.

    Still. I know Kurdish History is a very “fraught thing” & I can see how the Turks mighta got a little bent outta shape if they did, as I’d expect, have a subscription to Armed Forces Journal in 2006. (Probably no connection whatsoever to that Turkish F-4 getting shot down by the Syrians as U expect Conspiracists might have it.)

    You’re right of course LB – our US Government is always on the up and up with us – tell you what just to prove what a dummy I admit to being.

    Fly to Dallas Wednesday and I’ll buy you lunch at Presbyterian Hospital’s cafeteria.

  3. Ralph Peters is a retired Army lieutenant-colonel and a really smart guy. (I know him…we were stationed together in Bavaria in 2D Brigade, 1st Armored Division, in the mid-80’s.) But there is no “U.S. National War Academy”, and so far as I know if what is meant is “The U.S. Army War College” in Carlisle, PA, LTC Peters was never assigned there as an instructor and did not attend there as a student.

  4. JK

    Shoulda been “I” rather than “U” – the inks plumb wore off my keyboard’s alphanumerics and I don’t always proofread.

    I’ll get up to my local electric supply in a few hours and buy a pack of letters. Besides, I’m needing some brown, orange and yellow phase tape anyway.

  5. …Oh, and the Armed Forces Journal (AFJ) does not now nor has it ever belonged to the “U.S. military”… It is an independently-owned publication with no relationship to the Pentagon that publishes articles of interest to military professionals and to people who work in the defense industry. It is a very good and perceptive magazine. I used to subscribe to it and read it regularly on active duty, and had a few things published there myself once upon a time…

  6. JK

    Yes Kinnison, I pay attention to all your comments.

    The fact remains – the map exists outside cyberspace and the copyright is in his name.

    In “real life” I myself have a few titles bearing “credentials” to institutions I was never on the grounds of – of course at the moment I’m somewhat limited to cyberspace and (Columbus Day) can’t get Amazon to fax me a copy of the book mentioned as carrying the cited map.

  7. JK

    Okay. In the absence of Amazon’s faxing me a pdf (notarized to satisfaction) I’ve gotten about as far as I can without calling in a favor – and I’d prefer very very much not expending that sort of capital engaging in (what appears might be developing into) a pissing contest.

    A Blog Pissing Contest at that.

    “The American press has presented these Kurdish fighters as heroic freedom fighters, but does our intelligence and historical research support that image? Are we witnessing two terrorist entities fighting it out …? Opinions and insights to help sort this out are welcome.”

    Now before I mis-place this link [from somebody I earnestly hope has the conservative bona fides — when all my original intent posting “the alleged Colonel Peters map” was merely to buttress the Stratfor link I initially posted efforting to “help sort this out” was the only thing I was attempting —

    be just my luck since this is a NYT link, y’all figure the attribution of Ross Douhat to be a Commie plot machinated by Vlad Putin (and probably helped along in nefarious ways with Samantha Powers’ and Susan Rice’s manipulating me into impugning Colonel Peter’s reputation.

    Okay Kinnison I admit – you didn’t actually “out-‘n-out” state I was a Liar ’cause I’d (as it turned out) used a less than reputable source for Colonel Peter’s alleged map – so here’s the [in my opinion] most reliable author’s piece it was indeed Col. Peters:


    Now ending I’m gonna go with “my own personal feeling”

    The Kurds have both History and Good Reason to distrust the United States.

  8. Although I don’t do “PC-speak” the reason I didn’t call you a “liar” is because I don’t think you are one. I thought you made some invalid statements, and as it was done, I think, in genuine error and without malice aforethought, I just pointed them out to set the record straight. I don’t disagree with anything you just posted vis a’ vis the Kurds and Turkey. Why the Turks were ever admitted to NATO is not exactly a mystery to me—it was the Cold War, and we needed the air bases as a counter to the USSR’s forces in Ukraine and the Black Sea—why they are still members is a mystery. They aspire to EU membership, but that’s never going to happen. They “don’t play well with others” in the Alliance, and under Erdigan have moved further and further towards the kind of government-sponsored Islamiscism that Mustapha Kamal would have abhorred. And their contentious relationship with their native Kurds as well as the Kurds in the immediately-surrounding nations, all of which, in my humble opinion, should finally be recognized as the nation of Kurdistan, is historic and well-known.

  9. JK

    Any chance Kinnison we two can “iron this out” on LB’s blog?

    I Sir take exception to:

    “I thought you made some invalid statements, and as it was done, I think, in genuine error and without malice aforethought, I just pointed them out to set the record straight.”

    True Sir, I placed a link or so but (and LB is vouchsafed) did you Sir, reckon me to be verifying the same assertions?

    Now I think Kinnison, both you and I agree whatever we’ve seen open-sourced — upon which LB is totally dependent on —- we, might “disagree” … well, LB isn’t totally dependent on, I recognize her work … getting back to me JK and you Kinnison, you state,

    ” I thought you made some invalid statements, and as it was done, I think, in genuine error .. “

    Now Kinnison, we’re talking the Kurds as I understand this Blog-post.

    Where the Kurds are concerned – I’d appreciate my History getting corrected.

  10. Holy cow, there I was sitting in the McDonald’s at the front of my store on my lunch hour at 2 am, because I’m working overnight this week doing major resets in my two departments. So, there I was, using McDonald’s wi-fi and I couldn’t get the Stratfor link to open on my tablet. I got the other link to open and thought – I have heard of this guy before and not in a good way – kind of like when Infowars publishes something (even if it’s completely true, I kind of feel uneasy, because of the other crazy crap there). So, I posted my comment and then went back to work. Just got home actually – after working 10 hours and I am trying to figure out male egos more than the Kurd situation at this point. For crying out loud – all I wanted to know is if we are going to run into a problem like we did arming the KLA or blow-back down the road.

    Of course, the Kurds have no reason to trust us, Bush the elder encouraged them to revolt and then we dropped food on their heads and abandoned them.

  11. Oh and for the record, I don’t have any credentials whatsoever – I spent most of my adult life as a homemaker and now I work in a store. I have never met Ralph Peters, although several years ago I did post comments on his New York Post opinion pieces under my “mhere” name. It was when Obama was “planning” his Afghanistan surge. I was quite critical of the “winning the hearts and minds” strategy. All the comments were removed. Peters is from PA, not PA Dutch though – he grew up “down the pike”, as we say in PA – he’s from Pottsville, I believe, and I grew up in the Pocono Mountains.

  12. JK


    I’m reckoning we’re fine. Except for what’s coming at me just now.


    Me ‘n yous friends ain’t we? as ever?

    Just making friends s I can ’cause I got this coming at me – an weather take no sides


  13. Fwends, yes…”an elephant’s faithful, 100%”…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s