Uneasy allies

Uneasy allies

Believe it or not Turkey and the United States have agreed during Secretary of State John Kerry’s one-day trip to Ankara that they will cooperate in the fight against terrorism. What will the two countries do? Will Ankara offer bases, troops, participate in war or engage militarily in any sort other than “merely humanitarian assistance?”

Turkey is not a banana republic, of course, and Turks cannot be expected to shed their blood for some war the American president might declare on some Frankensteins that were “accidentally” produced by the all-capable network of secret agencies. “No boots on the ground” the American president would say to soothe probable anti-war reactions at home, but Turks would join in knowing all previous American interventions indeed helped to produce an even less safe region in this part of the world.

Who fathered Hamas? Who fathered the Taliban? Which countries were supporting the “opposition fighters” in Syria? What about the local al-Qaeda elements given security contracts in Libya? Were they much different than the guys who cold bloodedly murdered the American ambassador? Or why is Libya in such an awful state now? Good boys managed to make a comeback and reclaim governance from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, but really, who was behind the “Arab Spring” that was supposed to bring democracy to the region, but instead placed the entire region on fire?

Bashar al-Assad was ruthless, a murderer, a dictator. All fine. He definitely must be removed from office, as Saddam Hussein had deserved to be removed from office in Iraq. Yet, this time, Americans were reluctant to occupy the country. Why? After more than a decade, Iraq could not return to any degree of normalcy and remains buried in an acute deficiency of state control. Why? The day after was not considered before action was taken against Saddam.

In an insolent manner, an American editorial writer headlined “Our Non-Ally in Ankara” and suggested Washington should better consider the northern Iraqi Kurds as its new ally and establish regional operation base there.

Of course, the current team in power in Ankara might not be the smartest guys this country could have, but they sometimes do rather well, as well. Staying out of a war that might have far serious consequences on a Muslim country in the region than a world power thousands of kilometers away cannot be a test of allied relations. Turkey has already been paying a very heavy financial and security price because of well over 1.5 million Syrian refugees. Will there be a resolution to the Syria situation anytime soon? Well, some bright Turks once thought within two weeks al-Assad would go. He was wrong. His assessments were wrong. Got a promotion. We all know well now that a Syria resolution will take many more years.

Will the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) be defeated with aerial bombardment? Did Turkey manage to defeat the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) by bombarding mountains in northern Iraq? Did the U.S. manage to eradicate the Taliban and al-Qaeda by carpet bombing mountains in Afghanistan? “Boots on the ground” is a must to cleanse a territory from unwanted elements. Particularly if the local population helps such unwanted elements, than the success of a military option can only be limited and palliative. Turkey learned that the hard way. Besides, the ISIL has 49 Turkish hostages, one of them the Mosul consul general. Can Turkey participate and risk the lives of its 49 citizens? (Interesting… How far-sighted ISIL was in taking Turks hostages months in advance.)

All this being said, it is a fact as well that Turkey’s hands are not less clean than the Americans’ or the British in nourishing ISIL or the al-Nusra Front and such sorts of Sunni terrorist groups. Some people in Turkey are definitely responsible for the horrendous crimes committed by that group. I just can’t stop but remember the trucks stopped close to the border and the claims they were loaded with arms and ammunition.

Still, this war cannot be Turkey’s war and with a wise move opting to stay out cannot be the scale of allied relationships with the U.S. Turkey cannot be expected to act like an equerry just to prove it is a trustworthy ally.