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  • Erdogan, Following in Stalin’s Footsteps

    Posted by David Foster on October 10th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Richard Fernandez notes that Turkey is watching ISIS destroy the Kurds, in much the same way that the Soviets stood back and let the Nazis crush the Warsaw uprising of 1944:

    Winston Churchill pleaded with Stalin and Franklin D. Roosevelt to help Britain’s Polish allies, to no avail. Then, without Soviet air clearance, Churchill sent over 200 low-level supply drops by the Royal Air Force, the South African Air Force and the Polish Air Force under British High Command. Later, after gaining Soviet air clearance, the US Army Air Force sent one high-level mass airdrop as part of Operation Frantic. The Soviet Union refused to allow American bombers from Western Europe to land on Soviet airfields after dropping supplies to the Poles.

    While the US has apparently sent some weapons to the Kurds, the aid so far seems rather desultory.  Meanwhile, ISIS has fifty-two American-made 155mm howitzers.  “The Kurds of Kobani feel let down by the Europeans, by the Americans, and particularly by their Muslim neighbors…Everybody here is ready to fight ISIS: old men, pubescent children, young women. They’re all waiting in line in front of the YPG recruiting station. It looks as if they are waiting to vote, but actually it is to register for the war.”    link

    Meanwhile, the US air campaign does not seem to be of a sufficient level to destroy ISIS or even to stop its advance.

    If the US strategy is to fight ISIS by arming intermediaries, rather than directly with US troops, then why is heavy support not being provided to the Kurds? Almost certainly, the main reason is a reluctance on Obama’s part…and maybe on the part of certain people in the State Department…to do anything that would anger Turkey.  (In 2012, Obama named Erdogan as one of the world leaders he feels personally closest to.)  The result of this attitude will very likely be further ISIS advances, and mass slaughters of Kurds.

    Arthur Koestler wrote that the Soviet non-support of the Warsaw uprising was “one of the major infamies of this war which will rank for the future historian on the same ethical level with Lidice.”

     

    18 Responses to “Erdogan, Following in Stalin’s Footsteps”

    1. David Foster Says:

      Related: the case for arming the Kurds

    2. dearieme Says:

      I must admit that when O said there would be no boots on the ground, I rather imagined that he’d be sending your fellows to war in trainers.

    3. TM Lutas Says:

      We cannot control Turkey but we can ask better questions about our own air campaign. Is it an interdiction campaign? Is it a close air support campaign? Is it intended to do both roles? There seems to be a gap between the operational tempo needed to push back ISIS and the actual operations tempo. What are the limiting factors creating that gap? Follow on questions would go from there. For instance, do US pilots talk to the Kurdish defender ground commanders so they can place bombs close in or are we limited to air strikes behind the current combat lines so that we avoid fratricide incidents?

      Even where the conversation is knowledgeable such as this Jane’s 360 article, it’s written with an assumption that everybody reading it will understand the difference between interdiction strikes and close air support. From that article we’re apparently doing both in Iraq but only interdiction in Syria because we’re apparently not directly talking to the Syrian Kurdish forces to generate the information needed for close air support strikes. Since we have JTAC officers in Erbil coordinating with the peshmerga, either the Syrian kurds have no way to radio Erbil or they’re not talking. This may possibly mean that it’s not only Turkey that’s letting Kobani hang out to dry.

    4. Lexington Green Says:

      Why can’t our air power destroy the 52 howitzers? They are large and cannot be concealed and used at the same time.

    5. Jonathan Says:

      Our air power could destroy much more than the howitzers. The problem is that Obama will not use it, because to do so would indirectly weaken his allies, the Turks and Qataris. So Obama dithers, and pretends to assemble an anti-ISIS coalition that will not (because we lack resolve) come together in time, while ISIS defeats the Kurds.

      We are heading for a worst-case outcome in which parts of Iraq and Syria will go to ISIS and the rest of Iraq will go to Iran. It was all unnecessary and it is all the fault of Obama and the fools who elected him.

    6. Grurray Says:

      They must not be using the big guns.
      On Twitter this morning, observers on the Turkish side of the border are saying they can hear street to street fighting, so that would be small arms combat. Airstrikes, also in the past few hours, but some are complaining that jets are just flying around without attacking.
      The CENTCOM daily briefing said that fighters from the UAE and KSA participated in the attacks, so that may be part of the problem.

    7. pst314 Says:

      I suspect that, in the future, I will no longer feel prepared to condemn the PKK, no matter what sort of horrific terror attacks they may launch in Turkey.

    8. pst314 Says:

      via Drudge:
      http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Oct-10/273626-at-least-31-killed-in-turkey-spiral-of-violence-minister.ashx

      Agence France Presse

      ANKARA: At least 31 people have been killed and 360 others injured in a four day “spiral of violence” in Turkey led by pro-Kurdish protesters demonstrating against the government’s policy on Syria, the interior minister said Friday.

      Interior Minister Efkan Ala pledged that the government would press on with efforts despite the violence to make peace with Kurdish rebels who have a waged a 30-year insurgency for self-rule in the east of Turkey.

      In addition to the toll of 31 people killed in protests, two policemen were shot dead in the southern city of Bingol late Thursday while inspecting the scene of a demonstration, Ala told reporters.

      Bingol province’s police chief was seriously wounded in the attack.

      Five “terrorists” suspected of gunning them down were themselves killed by the security forces, Ala confirmed.

      “This spiral of violence should immediately be stopped,” he said in a statement.

      “Everyone should do their part to put an end to these incidents. We should all stand in solidarity with each other.”

      It seems hard to fault Kurds who conclude that the only peace that Erdogan really wants is one in which all Kurds are dead.

    9. Richard Cranium Says:

      Just because you have the guns doesn’t mean that you have the ammo, accurate maps and fire control expertise to use them.

    10. David Foster Says:

      RC…accurate maps and fire control calculations are important if you’re trying to hit a point target, especially if you’re trying to hit it one the first shot or one of the first few shots…but if you’re attacking an area target such as a city, and have plenty of time to adjust your aim for repeated firing, then these factors matter much less. See Don Sensing’s thoughts at the “155mm” link in my original post….Don was an artillery officer before he became a minister.

      Here’s the link again, for convenience:

      http://senseofevents.blogspot.com/2014/07/isis-now-has-dozens-of-us-made-howitzers.html

    11. skh.pcola Says:

      With Erdogan’s steady push away from secularism and the growing islumification of Turkey–not to mention a NATO member’s refusal to help the Kurds–NATO should eject Turkey and consider them an enemy. What Preezy Obola, Erdogan, and the rest of NATO is allowing to happen is criminal. ISIS won’t stop with this conquest. The latest figures have ISIS at a strength of 100k fighters and that number will only grow with their success. The PC Brigade (including that Afflack jackass) are aiding and abetting the modern caliphate.

    12. MikeK Says:

      ” Is it an interdiction campaign? Is it a close air support campaign? Is it intended to do both roles?”

      The lack of CAS aircraft like the A 10 is an indication that this is a sham. If we had troops and support facilities in Iraq, which we don’t, we could fly A 10 missions in support of the Kurds. That doesn’t look likely.

      “You want to keep in mind [that] this is not exactly a purely military confrontation,” said Pierre Sprey, considered the father of the A-10. “If you want to stop an outfit like these ISIL guys with pickup trucks and machine guns, there’s no other airplane anywhere that’s really useful.”

      Sprey raises concerns about potential civilian casualties if high-level fast jets come by and cannot distinguish between ISIL forces and innocent locals. In contrast, he argues, the A-10 can go low and slow to scope things out before engaging.

      But

      It’s easy to assume a successful operation conducted by the A-10 would turn heads on the Hill and raise support for the plane. In theory, it could give supporters of the plane the proof they need to push back at the Air Force’s attempts to retire the system.

      But in reality, those minds are already made up.

      Air to ground has never interested the Air Force. That’s why the Marines were so smart to fight to keep their air wing. Give the A 10 to the army.

    13. Richard Cranium Says:

      I was a tanker, myself, and served in a MLRS battalion as its SIGO later on. I’ve got a pretty damned good idea how indirect fire works.

      Turning a city into rubble by random shelling tends to help the defenders. Fire-and-adjust eats ammo (which is heavy and perhaps not plentiful) as well as alerting the intended target that a) they are being observed and b) Bad Things Are Going Happen Soon After The Targeting Round Hits Close Enough.

      I’d expect ISIS to register the guns against road junctions entering Kobani (or where ever their main thrust is this week) and use them to interdict supplies to the city. That would allow them to get more-or-less time-on-target battery stonks when something worthy shows up.

      I agree with Mr. Sensing’s assessment, other than the random shelling part.

    14. vxxc2014 Says:

      Why should Turkey help their enemies? Who have designs on Turkish Territory?

      Why should anyone trust the United States?

      Why would Turkey trust us after we promised them aid for helping in 1991, then reneged?

      Why doesn’t Turkey conclude partition is our actual policy and we’ve sold out the Kurds in favor of Iran, since that’s what’s happening?

      Why doesn’t Turkey conclude we’re actually dabbling in bombing since in 2013 ISIS was our client, and we’re actually just nudge bombing them back into the fold?

      Our Foreign and Domestic Policies are Silas Gaunt of “Needful Things” channeling a Demonic version of Lord Palmerston, we really shouldn’t blame Turkey for not playing the Fool.

      As they already did once before.

      As did the Shia, Kurds, Sons of Iraq, Nicaraguans, Vietnamese and any number of other victims. As well as we the American People, who must at last face the Truth of our Government. Which of course doesn’t handle us with fealty and Honor either.

    15. veryretired Says:

      Expecting the figurehead of the current regime to do anything positive towards furthering American interests anywhere at home or abroad is a fool’s errand.

      The entire ISIS fandango is political theater to pretend we are doing something while we stall until our various antagonists can achieve their goals.

      This particular puppet’s strings are long, and very elastic. If you want to find out who’s pulling them, just follow the money.

    16. David Foster Says:

      Ralph Peters on Obama’s ineffective air campaign:

      http://nicedeb.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/ralph-peters-blasts-obamas-phony-air-campaign-he-doesnt-want-dead-terrorists-video/

      (with video)

    17. Carl from Chicago Says:

      The story is deep and very strange. The current Turkish government only is in power because they made a deal with the Kurds to trade for semi-independence. It is a marriage of convenience since the long term goals of the Kurds, independence, are crystal clear.

      This alliance allowed the current government to hold all the levers of power and unseat the military that protected Turkey against being an Islamic state. They then went after these generals and turned them out of power and put many of them in jail. Later the government went after students and non-captured business interests.

      Thus when the Kurds turn on the current Turkish government, they won’t have electoral support and will fall. The insurgency in the Kurdish areas will likely move to a fever pitch, and the government can’t really count on the military to put it down since they went after the military to take over in the first place.

      The real story then is a likely military coup in Turkey along with a hot war with the Kurds in their half of the country. It will depend on whether or not the generals think that is a winnable war or if they want to consolidate their power in the Turkish part of the country.

      Likely Turkey will then go the way of Egypt with coups and counter coups and rigged elections on both sides, but with the unwelcome distraction of an uprising among the Kurds and a fanatically hostile ISIS on their border.

      Look up “Adnan Oktar” and some of the videos for one of the biggest backers of the current Turkish government – it is completely insane.

      The next convulsive page in the history of the region will be lit in Turkey, and this debacle in Syria will be the spark. No one knows what happens next.

    18. MikeK Says:

      Erdogan has used the Islamist theme, presumably one he agrees with, to purge the military which has been the secular force maintaining Ataturk’s legacy. His present course is buying huge problems with the Kurdish people in Turkey who have not been supportive of the leftist PKK.

      That may change if Erdogan allows a Kurdish massacre.