Saturday, 14 July 2012

The US flirts with Syrian Islamists, but Israel's interests lie with the Kurds

Israel has now got a rare opportunity to tilt the strategic balance in the region in its favour and to right a historic injustice.

Israel has found itself between a rock and a hard place with regard to Syria as both sides in the civil war are implaccable foes of Israel (ditto Egypt as nationalists and islamists are in wholehearted agreement when it comes to Israel) . The military opposition which will bring Assad down is mostly made up of islamists. They have the fanatical motivation, the finances and the weapons. The weapons and finance come courtesy of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with even more finance and non military supplies and very possibly special forces aid being provided courtsesy of Britain and the US.

The UK and the US can never resist interfering in far flung theaters of war, even when they only half understand the dynamics of a conflict. Libya should have been a salutary lesson, having brought anti-western fanatics and Al Qaidah into power in that now fractured country. Ghadaffi was a broken reed, no threat at all to the west, and for the last ten years even cooperating with the west. But Obama doesn't see west hating islamists as a threat. He's even now trying to strong arm Egypt's Tantawi to handing power over to the Muslim Brotherhood's Morsi.

And islamists from the Libyan conflict have moved to destabilise surrounding countries. Mali is now split, with fanatical islamists controlling the north. Shariah along with its 'merciful' punishments are now the norm. Even mosques aren't safe when of the wrong pedigree.

But the US under Obama is determined to support the Syrian islamists to overthrow Assad, a nasty piece of work if ever there was one. But as Russia supports Assad Obama is bringing the west again into conflict with Russia for no good reason. Assad might be an enemy of the west, but the islamists that will replace Assad are no more friendly. And western aid is going to the islamists, as Obama's best friend in the middle-east PM Erdogan of Turkey is the channel through which US support is being funneled to the the opposition.

Israelis are giving Syrian refugees aid, and Israel should leave it at that. There is no reason for Israel to mix in the civil war. If Assad falls, Hezbollah is in serious trouble and Iran will be pushed out of the region as far as Iraq. But then Israel will face an almost continuous islamist front from Turkey down to Egypt.

I hope when Netanyahu received Putin the other week in Jerusalem, he reassured Putin that Israel has no intention of helping to overthrow Assad.

But that doesn't mean Israel should do nothing. It is in Israel's interests to see Syria weakened, to lose its Kurdish provinces, and for those provinces to unite in however loose a form with the Iraqi autonomous Kurdish regime (a state by any other name). The Kurds are not arabs and are have no love for Iran and Turkey. The Kurds are also increasingly restive in Syria, having no love for that regime either.

So whilst the UK and the USA follow their misguided policy of aiding islamists everywhere and in Turkey, and in promoting the islamists in Syria, Israel can follow a parallel policy of aiding the Kurds to realise their state in part of Syria.

The spin off from aiding the Kurds in Syria is that Iran's convoys will be less secure having to traverse a route close to an ally of Israel. Syria will also have to watch its back in future conflicts with Israel. All this is independent on whether Syria does or does not fall to the islamists.

The Kurds in Turkey are forever restive, already are 20% of the population there and increasing in population as opposed to ethnic Turks who have a reproductive rate less than replacement level. Turkey is going to find it increasingly difficult to control the Kurdish east in coming years, to prevent Turkish Kurds with a high birth rate from breaking away from Turkey to form an alliance with Syrian and Iraqi Kurds.

If Israel wishes to protect its interests in the middle-east, it should be aiding Kurds who are at least in sympathy with Israel than waste its limited resources on Syrian refugees who have no love for Israel.

Israel needs to train Kurds for the day they will become independent and now is the best time to initiate the process. If the Assad regime does fall or is seriously weakened, a nascent Kurdish army will be armed and made ready to take over the eastern provinces of Syria, just as the Haganah defeated the palestine arabs even before the British Mandatory regime left in 1948.

It will soon be time for the Kurds to rise and unite with Iraqi autonomous Kurds.

Israel should not let this opportunity slip to radically alter the map in the middle-east. At one and the same time it will begin the process of righting a historical injustice against the kurds committed by British imperialists who split the Kurdish nation between four countries; it will also drive an ethnic wedge into the arab middle-east, an ally against Israel's major arab and Iranian enemies to the east.

And lastly Turkey which has turned itself into an enemy state working against Israel on all levels internationally has no good options. It has threatened to invade Syria to stop the Kurds gaining independence, but if Israel trains kurds now, Turkey will find it bites off more than it can chew when fighting to suppress the Kurds.

A Turkish military invasion of Syria and campaign against the Syrian Kurds will very possibly be too much to resist for the Ottomanist islamist Erdogan, but this will bleed an already shaky Turkish economy and non too efficient Turkish military whose top commanders are mostly in prison. Israel must train Kurds not only to fight for their independence but again, as with the Haganah, prepare them to regroup into armies once their independence needs to be defended. This will be easier than in 1948 as the Iraqi kurds already have an army.

A Turkey with its hands full in the east will be less of a problem for Israel in the west.

For Israel to give the kurds the sort of support they need, Israel has to finally understand that Turkey is now lost to islamists. Turks understand this, but Israel still doesn't seem to fully realise that it has lost its erstwhile ally. And this despite Erdogan trying very hard to help Israel get the message.

Israel is finding doors closed to it wherever Turkey has influence, such as in Nato, and even a US sponsored conference on terror. Of course the Obama administration preferred to give in to Turkish blackmail and deinvite Israel rather than face down Erdogan and support its real ally.

And let's not forget the Mavi Marmara episode deliberately designed by Erdogan to bring about a rupture between Israel and Turkey. And then the war threats last year, the sending of Turksih warships off the coasts of Cyprus and Israel. And the warships are still there.

So we must be thankful to Erdogan to that extent. It's better the enemy you know, than to have Turkey stringing Israel along, giving Israel hope for a reestablishment of the old friendship.

That water is now under the bridge and Israel must reach out to the Kurds.

I haven't found the time to supply links in support of the above article. If you think links would be helpful then i'll try to find time to oblige.

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