World View: US Aligns With Kurds and Shias in Syria and Iraq, Angering Turks and Saudis

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Syrian Kurd militias deal a heavy blow to ISIS
  • Turkey’s support splits between Kurds and ISIS
  • US support for Kurds further alienates Saudi Arabia
  • Understanding men’s moustaches in Turkey

Syrian Kurd militias deal a heavy blow to ISIS

Raqqa province in Syria. Kurdish forces have defeated ISIS in Tal Abyad, Ain Issa and Liwa 93 military base, and taken control of all three.  (Reuters)
Raqqa province in Syria. Kurdish forces have defeated ISIS in Tal Abyad, Ain Issa and Liwa 93 military base, and taken control of all three. (Reuters)

The Kurdish YPG militias in Syria, combined with forces from the US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), have succeeded in a string of dramatic and significant victories over the Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in their stronghold in Raqqa province.

On Monday, YPG/FSA forces took full control of the town of Ain Issa, as well as the Liwa-93 military base, following last week’s seizure of the border town of Tel Abyad.

These are significant victories for a couple of reasons. First, it leaves the Kurdish forces poised to strike at the city of Raqqa itself, the self-declared capital of ISIS in Syria.

And second, it cuts off two important supply routes for ISIS, the north-south route from Raqqa to Turkey, and the east-west high running through Ain Issa, which links the city of Aleppo with the north-eastern province of Hasaka, which leads into Iraq, which makes these victories a significant blow to ISIS.

It is also significant that these victories were done in close coordination with the US and the US-led coalition, with the offensive backed heavily with dozens of coalition airstrikes.

The close cooperation between the US and the Syrian Kurds began last year in the battle over the Syrian town of Kobani, on the border with Turkey, with a victory by the Kurds. ( “27-Jan-15 World View — Kurdish militias drive ISIS out of the Syrian town of Kobani”) After that, the Kurdish forces began moving east toward Tal Abyad, while other Kurdish forces in eastern Syria began moving west. The two forces met near Tal Abyad last week, cutting off the main north-south road between Raqqa and Turkey. ISIS had been using that route to funnel foreign fighters and equipment into Syria and sell their black market oil.

Now the victories in Raqqa province are said to be a model for future cooperation between the US and the Kurds when fighting ISIS. According to Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren:

This fight… has been an example of ISIL fighters breaking under the pressure delivered by coalition air power and capable and willing ground forces.

Hundreds of Syrian refugees in Turkey returned to their homes in Tal Abyad on Tuesday. They had fled to Turkey to escape the fighting between YPG and ISIS.

Both Syria’s army and Iraq’s army have shown little will to fight against ISIS, nor has Hezbollah. The strongest fighting on the ground against ISIS has been with the local groups, the Kurds and the Shia militias known as Hashid Shaabi (popular mobilization units). The US is cooperating with these groups, thus providing indirect support to the PKK and Iran, which are listed as terrorist groups and sponsors by the US State Dept.

Note: PYD = Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria. YPG = Kurdish People’s Protection Unit in Syria, armed wing of the PYD. YPJ = Women’s Protection Units in Syria. HDP = Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party in Turkey, PKK = Kurdistan Workers’ Party anti-government insurgents in Turkey. In Syria, YPG is the armed wing of the PYD, which is allied with the PKK in Turkey, which is considered a terrorist organization by the US. Peshmerga = Kurdish militias in Iraq. Be prepared for a quiz. Australian Broadcasting and USA Today and Today’s Zaman (Istanbul)

Turkey’s support splits between Kurds and ISIS

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has always made it clear that his top priority is to get rid of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad. Furthermore, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is a separatist group fighting for an independent Kurdistan, taking pieces from Syria, Turkey and Iraq. The PKK considered a terrorist organization by both the US and Turkey, and there have been years of terrorist PKK violence in Turkey.

So Erdogan is not happy with the turn of events that have allowed the Kurds in eastern and western Syria to link up at Tal Abyad on the border with Turkey, with substantial support from US airstrikes.

Erdogan’s opposition in Turkey is now saying that pro-Erdogan media is siding with ISIS against the Kurds. According to reports, officials in Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) have been praising ISIS and demonizing the Kurds.

A report in the pro-opposition Daily Zaman quotes the Sabah daily headline: “PYD is more dangerous than Daesh.” Sabah also claimed that the PYD were not allowing Turkmens and Arabs from Tal Abyad to return to their towns and hinted that the real target of the Kurdish militants is actually Turkey.

Turkey’s deputy prime minister Bülent Arinç says, “We see that there are signs pointing towards a kind of ethnic cleansing,” by both the PYD and ISIS.

A Turkish state broadcaster said:

Daesh attacks and kills those it captures. The PYD/PKK seize certain regions and force people living there to migrate. It doesn’t matter who comes — the [al-Assad] regime, Daesh or the PYD — they are all persecuting civilians.

Today’s Zaman (Istanbul)

US support for Kurds further alienates Saudi Arabia

Saudi media makes it clear that the Saudis are also pretty unhappy with US support for the Kurds and for Iran, while leaving Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad untouched. There is nothing new about this, as the Obama administration has been relentless offensive to the Saudis, and has alienated them considerably. However, the support for the Kurds is one more step in the same direction.

According to a report in the Arab News:

As you will remember, the coalition partners that remained silent during the four years of turmoil in Iraq and Syria immediately swung into action when Kobani was targeted last year and provided military assistance to the PYD/YPG forces in the region. […]

At the same time we issued this warning: The PYD, a terror organization, and its armed wing the YPG, are more dangerous than all the armed groups in Syria. The US must become aware of the growing communist threat.

Despite these warnings, very little has changed in the attitude of the US and its allies. The YPG now know the passcode that would open all doors for them. It used Daesh card in every area it advanced through, ensured that coalition planes would bomb the region and thus secured control of that territory. When events were portrayed in that manner in the international media, all developments were depicted as a victory; not a word was said about the civilians dying in the coalition attacks or local residents under threat by the YPG.

The same thing has now happened in the region of Tal Abyad. … The code word “Daesh” was employed again and coalition planes horrifyingly dropped bombs on the local residents of Tal Abyad. The interesting thing is that the area had already been under Daesh control for a year. The only thing new in the area was the violence inflicted on the inhabitants by the coalition bombs and the YPG.

Certainly we in no way approve of the violence employed by Daesh in Syria and Iraq. But the point we wish to make here is that the YPG is playing the Daesh card to legitimize its own evil and to deceive the US in particular. The terrible thing is that the US secret state apparatus that has wanted to see a Great Kurdistan for the last 100 years is keen to believe in this scenario and believes that its objective is being attained.

In another Arab News editorial:

Today, one can summarize Washington’s approach toward Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon as follows:

* In Iraq, it is supporting the ruling elite jointly brought to power by the 2003 US invasion and Iran’s expansionist policies.

* In Syria, the virtual disregard of human suffering and meaningless “red-lines” after four years and three months of the country’s popular uprising.

* In Lebanon, the tacit acceptance of Hezbollah’s hegemony after neutralizing the former battlefront with Israel through UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

In all three cases Washington’s policies have been underpinned by Obama’s all-out push for an “agreement” with Iran, and his exploitation of Daesh extremism as the perfect justification for such an agreement, eventually developing into a full-fledged alliance.

This is a good time to review where things stand. As I have been writing for years, we are headed for a Clash of Civilizations world war in which some of the “allies” will be the West, India, Russia and Iran, and some of the “axis” will be China, Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab countries. In the Mideast, the US will be siding with the Shias against the Sunnis.

The events of the last year allow us to refine this, in that it is becoming increasingly clear that the Kurds will be aligned with the Shias and the West against the Sunnis.

I have written about this many times, at length. In brief, the explanation is as follows: China is allied with Pakistan, which is allied with Saudi Arabia. The US is allied with India, which is a close ally of Russia, which is a close ally of Iran. Also, India’s Hindus and Iran’s Shia’s have been allies all the way back to the Battle of Karbala in 680. ( “China ‘betrays’ Iran, as internal problems in both countries mount” from 2008.)

It has been pretty obvious for years that Iran would become our ally, because there large numbers of pro-American and pro-Western student demonstrations in the early 2000s. Although the old geezers who survived the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution refer to America as the Great Satan, the young people are overwhelming pro-Western, and are taking over as the Revolution survivors grow old and die off. Arab News and Arab News

Understanding men’s moustaches in Turkey

Turkish Moustache Styles (Hurriyet)
Turkish Moustache Styles (Hurriyet)

According to a helpful analysis of moustache styles in Turkey, there are three main styles illustrated above:

  • Strongly nationalist Turks wear the “idealist” style on the left.
  • Mainstream Islamists wear the “almond” style in the center.
  • Hard-line Islamists (pro-Ottoman) tend to wear a beard.

Moustaches in both of the latter styles are generally trimmed short, in line with the advice of the Prophet Muhammad. Hurriyet (Ankara)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Syria, Tal Abyad, Ain Issa, Liwa 93, Raqqa, Kurdish People’s Protection Unit, YPG, Free Syrian Army, FSA, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Aleppo, Kobani, Hezbollah, Hashid Shaabi, popular mobilization units, Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK, Bashar al-Assad, Iraq, Lebanon, China, Pakistan, India, Russia
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