Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Ah - The End Game Becomes Apparent

Faux sad faces all around Ankara these days.  Turkish President Erdogan has figured out how to game the system - and pull US support along.
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The Turkish President earlier this year called for a governmental election.  His hope was to up his majority to a 2/3 super-majority so that he could change the Constitution and give the Presidency more power.  (He had already termed out as Prime Minister).
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Unfortunately for him, but excellently for Turkish Democracy, his party not only missed the 2/3 mark, it lost their majority.  They won the most seats, but will need a coalition party to govern.
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On July 9th, Erdogan officially asked the Majority Party to make a government, which gives them 45 days.  We are twenty days into that - how can he "fix" it?
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The biggest surprise in all of this was the success of the HDP (the People's Democratic Party), which has a voter base in the Kurdish Turks, city-based liberals and women.  Remember "liberal" in Turkey isn't "liberal" as we we think of it - it is more 'no head scarf / let women vote / let Kurds participate' type of liberal.
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Anyway, this was a breakthrough.  Not just because the HDP did so well, but because the President and ruling party were letting them take their seats in Parliament!  It was a huge, democratic step forward.
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Cut to this week.  President Erdogan finally has allowed the US to use the NATO bases in Turkey to attack ISIS.  This reduces flight times by many hours.  Previously, Turkey did not exactly support ISIS, but ISIS' enemies were also Turkey's enemies - Syria, Iran and Iraq (basically the Shia coalition).  They didn't support ISIS, but didn't do a lot to stop them.

The Kurds in Iraq have long been the "good guys" in the US eyes.  But Turkey has a Kurd problem of their own, and doesn't support Kurdish self-determination anywhere.
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Then, last week, a bomb was set off in a Kurdish city in Turkey, Suruc.  It was an ISIS suicide attack, that Turkey built up as both ISIS and a Kurdish attack (even though those two are mortal enemies and have never worked together).
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So the other day, Turkey approved US bombing from their bases.  And Turkey started bombing ISIS with the US.  The same day they bombed ISIS, they also bombed our allies against ISIS - the Kurds in Iraq.  As you can image, the Kurds in Turkey were pretty much outraged.
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So Erdogan and his party have said that the Kurds that don't support the government are terrorist and terrorist supporters.  And, of course, no terrorist supporter should be seated in Parliament.  Which would once again give his party a majority and control of government.
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The US and Europe, which should be the first to condemn this, don't want to rock the boat, because they can finally use Turkish AirBases for bombing runs.  So the question becomes (in an area with no good answers) - are we ready to accept multiple Kurdish deaths (our allies) in order to use bases to kill more ISIS fighters.  And, knowing the American attention span - I can guess the sad and pathetic answer.
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This map is about a year old, but mainly correct.  It underestimates the ISIS control a bit.  Turkey bombed ISIS in Raqqa (the semi "capital") and the Kurds in the grey area in Iraq.

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