Is Obama a Marxist or a Muslim? It’s a question that has been debated since he burst onto the national scene. On one hand, he was born to a Muslim father and attended Islamic schools as a child. On the other hand, he was mentored for years as a young boy by Communist Party USA (CPUSA) member Frank Marshall Davis. When push comes to shove, which side would Obama choose?
Strangely, events along the Syrian-Turkish border may reveal something in the fog of war. The U.S. continues its formal alliance (NATO) and its strategic alliance in Syria with Muslim fundamentalist Turkey. The recent bombing of Kurds by Turkey raised eyebrows recently. The group Turkey bombed – the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) – is certainly not made of choir boys; it’s a Marxist-inspired bunch that is no stranger to terrorism.
Yet, currently, it is fighting ISIS and being attacked by Turkey, which desperately wants Assad removed from power. That is also clearly what Obama wants but it’s been quite difficult for him to generate enough political will to carry it out.
Next to Ebola, perhaps the biggest perceived threat against the U.S. is ISIS; it’s certainly top of mind. Yet, with each tick of the clock, it becomes more obvious that NATO member country – and supposed ‘ally’ – Turkey is actually an ally of ISIS. This is not new to Shoebat.com readers but there is some additional recent political history that provides some additional context.
Nonetheless, despite all of this history, it comes nowhere close to justifying current U.S. policy in the region:
Old geopolitical rivalries are throwing a wrench into U.S. efforts to bring Turkey on board with the mission to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State in a Syrian border town.
The country’s bigger enemy, some analysts say, is still Bashar al-Assad. So why attack the group that is challenging him?
For the time being, fighting in the town of Kobani appears to be at a simmer after intense U.S.-led airstrikes. But Turkey still has not joined the U.S. and its allies in support of Kurdish fighters battling ISIS militants.
Instead, Turkey earlier this week launched attacks on a Kurdish separatist group known as the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, in the country’s southeast for the first time in two years — after a military outpost was attacked.
The strike underscored the reason that analysts say the U.S. is having a hard time enlisting Turkey to go after ISIS.
To do so, Turkey would have to attack the group fighting its biggest enemy in the region — the Syrian president. And it would have to help a group — the Kurdish fighters — tied to the PKK, which in turn allegedly is backed by Assad.
As Huseyin Celik, a prominent Turkish politician, told The Telegraph in September 2012, “Assad is inclined to view Turkey’s foe, the PKK, as a friend.”
U.S. officials stressed that the U.S. and Turkey still have common goals.
“I think we would say that the Turkish objective, and our objective in the end with respect to the regime in Syria, is the same,” Gen. John Allen, President Obama’s special envoy for the anti-ISIS mission, said Wednesday.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki urged “everybody to look at these as separate circumstances” — referring to the ISIS siege of Kobani and Turkey’s strikes against PKK.
But Turkey’s attention is elsewhere.
PKK has been at war with Turkey for the past 30 years — a conflict that has claimed an estimated 45,000 lives — despite a ceasefire two years ago. Its Marxist-inspired founder, Abdullah Öcalan, has been in jail since 1999 in Turkey. The group has been on the U.S. State Department’s foreign terrorist organization list since 1997.
Animosity between Turkey and Syria goes back decades. In 1939, land belonging to Syria in the northwest along the Mediterranean, then called the Sanjak of Alexandretta, was annexed by Turkey and became its southernmost province, Hatay. As a result of acquiring Hatay Province, Turkey remained neutral in World War II. Syria has never recognized the action and has been an enemy of Turkey ever since.
“The Assad family has had a personal vendetta against Turkey,” Dr. Michael Izady, professor of Middle Eastern and Western history at Pace University, said.
Part of the Assad family’s payback was supporting PKK in their guerrilla war against Turkey starting in 1984. Bashar Assad’s father, Hafez, allowed them into Syria and provided them refuge for years — as they fought for autonomous Kurdistan for Turkey’s Kurds.