Hillary Clinton is playing with fire

Hillary Clinton is playing with fire

In her second debate with the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Oct. 10, Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton said she was considering “arming the Kurds” because they are the “best partners in Syria and Iraq” against the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım declared that remark to be “unacceptable” while addressing his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) group in the parliament on Oct. 11. “Clinton has said she would support Kurds in the region, terrorist organizations, with arms, if she is elected,” Yıldırım said. “Is the U.S. not our ally? What does it mean to support them with arms?”

President Tayyip Erdoğan did not directly refer to what Clinton said but said that there was an effort to isolate Turkey from the operations against ISIL in Syria and Iraq even though 63 countries (including) Turkey are taking part in the U.S.-led coalition. He also noted the 910 km border with Syria and 330-one with Iraq.
This is not usual.

The usual thing would be the outrage of the Turkish leadership expressed in strong words and “if not” kind of threatening remarks.

There is something else which is not usual. That is the surprise support from Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), for the government’s stance regarding the Bashiqa training camp near Mosul after the Iraqi government sought to evict Turkey with support from both the United States and Iran.

This rather low-profile reaction from Ankara could be the indication of two possible developments. 

The first could be Turkey choosing to stay where it is now on the Jarablus-Azaz line in Syria and at the Bashiqa camp – without stepping out – as it is desired and wait for its turn if things go wild after the Mosul operation as a party who will not bear any responsibility on the issue.

The second scenario is the possibility that the Turkish government is cooking something which could be a real surprise for everyone.

There is more.

The Washington Post reported that the White House has already been preparing to arm the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria, the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is the Syria extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging an armed campaign for separation since 1984, resulting in the deaths of 40,000 people.

Turkey has been asking the U.S. not to arm and collaborate with the YPG, whether for the fight against ISIL, because it is no different than the PKK, which is on the U.S. terrorist list. It seems that instead of taking its NATO ally seriously, the U.S. administration has ignored it and started to encourage the YPG further by promising more arms to them.

It is not possible for the U.S. to give guarantees to Turkey or anyone else that those arms will not be used against Turkey or against the U.S. one day. It was the U.S. arms delivered to the mujahedeen in Afghanistan which were used to kill Americans later on in the hands of Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Also, to give more arms to the YPG means the U.S. is supporting them to have their region, autonomous from the government or totally seperated from Syria. Will that make Russia happy at a time when the tension over Aleppo is escalating with the risk of poisoning the dialogue between Washington DC and Moscow over the future of Syria? Or Bashar al-Assad backed by Vladimir Putin? Or any other Arab country which would not like to see the division of one of them with Western force? As a former U.S. secretary of state and a former first lady, those are some of the questions that Clinton should have considered. To vow to “arm the Kurds” at such a time is not responsible, it is like playing with fire, and for American interests as well.

And at a different angle, the U.S. has used the Kurdish nationalist forces in Iraq four times since World War II with the carrot of autonomy or independence and abandoned them at the last minute at the expense of the Kurds themselves. Now a similar game is being staged in the Syria theater, and the Kurds seem to trust the U.S. more than they have trusted anyone else so far, perhaps not considering that they might be heading for a fifth failure.