Not everyone helping you out of the dung is your friend
First, a short story taught in diplomacy, intelligence and management academies around the world, reflecting the tense situation in Syria:
In Russia, a little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold that the bird froze and fell to the ground in a large field. While it was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on it. As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, it began to realize how warm it was. The dung was actually thawing him out!
He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy. A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate. Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out. Then he ate him.
The lesson to be drawn from this story will come at the end of this piece. First we should summarize the tense Turkish-American relations over Syria today.
The U.S. had asked Turkey for years to intervene in Syria militarily, since U.S. President Barack Obama did not want any GI Joe boots on the ground.
The Turkish government had its own game plan - whether right or wrong, it was authentic - which was not in line with the U.S. plan.
Especially since the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in early 2013, Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan (then prime minister) has been subjected to harsh criticism for ignoring the jihadist traffic crossing the Syrian border and placing priority on the fall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
But Obama needed someone on the ground to support his air attacks against ISIL. First a combined operation was planned to train and arm Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels. That plan did not work. Then the Americans saw an opportunity in the Syrian Kurdish militants who had taken control in the town of Kobane near the Turkish border and were resisting ISIL, which wanted to capture the town in 2014.
Turkey told its NATO ally, the U.S., that the militants of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) were the militia of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is the Syria extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK has been waging an armed campaign against Turkey since 1984, in which more than 40,000 people have been killed. It has long been recognized by the U.S. as a terrorist organization.
The CIA knew those links for sure, as did the Pentagon and the State Department. But they pretended not to know as they desperately needed local collaborators.
History was repeating itself. In 2003 the U.S. thought its ally Turkey’s terms for a joint operation were too much and had found Iraqi Kurds as partners. They had enjoyed victory for a short while, but now that entire operation in Iraq is not something to be proud of for the U.S. Neither Iraq, nor the Middle East, nor the world is safer now.
In today’s Syria, the U.S. is taking sides with the Syrian Kurdish PYD militia and warning its old friend and ally Turkey not to touch its newly found friends.
Now the lessons from the earlier story:
1) Not everyone who drops dung on you is your enemy.
2) Not everyone who gets you out of dung is your friend.
3) When you’re in deep sh*t, keep your mouth shut.
4) And take friendly advice from bitter past experiences for future success, even if it seems like you’re in the dung today.