Category Archives: Iraq

Turkey, Kurds and the Islamic State: A Strange Triangle

Among the paradoxes of the Middle East today is Turkey’s relationship with Iraqi Kurds and the “public secret” of its relationship with Islamic State which has seized territories in Syria and Iraq and has announced the de facto establishment of an Islamic Caliphate. How could Turkey’s collaboration with the Kurds – whom it used to see as a threat – be explained, and what does it have to gain from Islamic State?

That Turkey (along with Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and other Western powers) has funded and supported Islamic State (IS) is a fact, though neither Turkey nor Qatar admit it. Is it possible that Turkey uses IS against the Kurdish separatist movement in Iraq, Syria and beyond? Such scenario is not supported by the evidence at hand. If for example Turkey wanted to deter the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan then it would not have ignored provisions of the Iraqi constitution and the central Iraqi government of Baghdad, among others, to sign economic and energy agreements with Kurdish Regional Government. Rather, it would have done the opposite: to try and isolate Kurdistan by cooperating with Baghdad. That would be similar to how Turkey acted when it cooperated with Baghdad in the middle to late 2000s while trying to deal with Kurdish guerillas who found safe haven in Iraqi Kurdistan and other locations on Turkey’s southern borders. Moreover, we should not forget that the emergence of IS accelerated Kurdistan’s process of independence instead of the opposite – both in Iraq and Syria. Continue reading

Comments on the Crisis in Iraq

ISIS Fighters in Syria (Source: Reuters)

Below you can find selected comments (of mine) from an interview I provided a few days ago to a news agency in Turkey. The report was prepared, and published (as far as I know), but now it is nowhere to be found. My best guess is that it was removed (or denied publication) due to censoring – other reasons are not excluded as I am not a fan of conspiracy theories. The report included comments from Dr. Glen Rangwala as well. Admittedly, the quotes by myself and Dr. Rangwala did not suggest anything radical or absurd, but it seems that (possibly) someone did either not like our comments or looked us up and – for some reason – did not like our profile or other works. You can find the report as it was prepared for the agency in Turkish at the end of the article.

Note: I do not know Dr. Randgwala and he is in no way involved in the writing and publication of this post. Continue reading

Turkey’s Worst Nightmare

Turkey’s worst insecurity, and thus nightmare, is nothing else but its territorial dismemberment and therefore anything that has to do with Kurdish autonomy regionally or nationally. As the situation in Syria is getting worse, Assad is focusing on securing Damascus and his own self and family, thus leaving the forces of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in charge. The PYD is said to be linked to and have similar goals with the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has been fighting against the Turkish state for Kurdish autonomy since the early 80s. The fact that Kurdish flags in northern Syria and on border checkpoints with Turkey are becoming more and more can only be alarming for Turkey that is experiencing a déjà vu.

The first negative development for Turkey came with the gradual emergence of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq. Ankara watched its establishment and solidification, during the two Iraq wars, without being able to do something while the Kurdish issue was one of the reasons the Turkish-American relations entered a period of decline, with the 2003 Iraq war notably being the starting point.

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The New Iraq? Libya After Gaddafi

Gaddafi is dead and the Libyan people are outside in the streets, celebrating their victory against the 42 year dictatorial regime. Yet while the dictator is gone, difficult choices lie ahead for the Libyan people.

Libya has not become a “new Iraq” in the sense of western forces undertaking the same role they did in that country. Rather the West preferred to conduct a proxy war against the regime through the rebels. So, the rebels took the victory, killed the dictator and now they are expected to re-build their own state. This is no bad thing! After all, the coalition forces did an extremely poor job in Iraq and no one would expect them or want them to treat Libya as Iraq – mark II.

Yet, it would be naïve of us to think that the West will now leave Libya alone to stand on its own feet, and, most importantly, rely on its own resources! Therefore, despite the fact that the toppling of the Libyan regime took place under different circumstances and was undertaken by different actors than those involved in the downfall of the Iraqi one, the presence and influence of the West or at the very least of western interests – will be very obvious.

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Will Libya be the New Iraq?

The coalition military intervention in Libya that began on March 19th was an example of a well coordinated and organised operation, with a legitimate legal mandate in the form of UN Resolution 1973. Nonetheless, there are several debates regarding the intervention in question as well as the strategy that is being followed by the coalition.

There are two central questions that should be answered in order to understand the discourse regarding the intervention in Libya: (a) what do we want to achieve? (b) How far are we willing to go? If the operation has limited goals such as the maintenance of the no-fly zone it would probably be qualified as a success whereas if the plan is to intervene politically undertaking peace/state-building operations, it might result in a catastrophe or in a long-lasting, torturous situation like Iraq.

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