Iraq/Syria Policy Paralysis

Characteristically, the CNN and Reuters reporting on this is extremely U.S. centric. It’s not a question of bias, but rather, a simplification of the regional actors.  In U.S.-centric reporting, Turkey becomes no more than an obstacle to the implementation of U.S. policy objectives. In Aaron Stein’s article for Al Jazeera, a specific reason comes to light for Ankara’s refusal to intervene: they want a strong central state in Syria. Without it, a “free city of Kobane” (spelled “Kobani” on U.S. sites), could become a base for Kurdish insurgency in Turkey.

It is almost reasonable to surmise that, in comparison to a Kurdish “Free Kobani”, Turkey would prefer an ISIS state across the border, because ISIS would lack significant insurgent potential inside Turkey. By comparison, there are enough Kurds in the eastern provinces of Turkey to tear the country apart from the inside.

So the demand by Turkey on the U.S. that Turkish boots be accompanied by removal of the Assad regime may not be analogous to the typical U.S. quixotic quest for human rights. Erdoğan’s previous friendship with Assad was undeterred by the atrocities of Syria’s Mukhbarat toward Sunnis prior to civil war.  Stein’s article implies that Turkey wants a strong central state in Syria to frustrate the formation of a Kurdish state. And, according to the Turks, this cannot be accomplished under the aegis of the Assad regime. But (new idea) it might be accomplished in the presence of the Assad regime.

Recall how quickly the Iraqi army collapsed in early August, prior to Maliki’s departure on 8/15, and how this was supposed to vitalize a new coalition. It did not. It appears another rout is in the making, and the same people are exercising the same decision processes, because they have the same brains and mindsets as they did on August 15 of this year.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. But “desperate” is not synonymous with “futile.” As history is written by the victors, there is always the slight possibility of exoneration. But given the astonishing collapse in August, the next rout may well have the remnant Shi’ites cowering in the shrines of Karbala, while the Sunni Anbar tribesmen, who at least tried to do the right thing, suffer the unspeakable tortures of the vanquished in ancient times.

Next, an examination of decision processes specific to this situation.




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