Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Mosque at Samarra, The Surge, and the Yazidi Massacre

On February 22, 2006 Sunni insurgents blew up the Great Mosque at Samarra, Iraq. This bombing and the violent response by Shiite militias is widely seen as moment when Iraq officially descended into full blown civil war.

The violence that has continued to rise with this civil war was supposedly the reason for the "surge" strategy. A major part of that strategy was concentrating US troops on the areas around Baghdad and gradually expanding a zone in which something like a secure environment could be established. Another part of the strategy was cracking down on the Shiite militias and reaching out to Sunni Arab tribal leaders in an effort to marginalize Al Qaeda units that operated in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. Sounds reasonable but the fear was that this would merely shift the violence to other areas. Well guess what...

Last week, Sunni insurgents massacred hundreds of a Kurdish speaking religious minority called Yazidis who live in villages near Mosul. Iraqi Kurdistan had been fairly quiet. The massacre may be intended to bring the Kurds fully into the civil war and further force Iraq into unmanageable chaos. The Kurds' leaders seem on the verge of obliging them. I've heard radio reports about this where Kurdish leaders vow to send the Peshmerga (Kurdish militias) into the suspected home villages of the massacre's perpetrators.

The parallels between the Yazidi massacres and the Samarra Mosque are striking. Al Qaeda is on the verge of being marginalized in the Sunni areas. So they provoke a war between the Sunni Arabs and the Kurds.


USWest said...

It is very serious. The death toll in this bombing is rising. And if the Kurds start fighting, then the scenario that I already described where Turkey gets involoved is even more likely. If the Kurdish area, now called Kurdistan, cannot be controled, more PKK will move freely across the border. The AKP just won elections in Turkey and solidified their hold on the government. The Turkish PM has re-nominated Gul to the presidency, thinking that he has a mandate. If he continues forward on this, the Turkish military will host another coup. And the Turkish miltiary is itching to hit northern Iraq. The number one force that is stopping this from happening now is U.S./U.K. diplomacy (and perhaps that of the EU, I don't know.) with Turkey and the Kurds. That is the irony in all of this.

Al Qaeda wants more than Iraqi civil war. They want the Calphiate. And they want all out world war. And they will do anything to get it.

I see this expanding. We will have WWIII. It's in the cards. Sometimes I sit in my local cafe, enjoying the flowers, fresh air, and sun and then I think, " I this must be what Europe felt like in 1932. Only this time, we are Germany."

The Law Talking Guy said...

I think it's the summer of 1914, and we are playing Austria-Hungary. Needlessly provoking a war for silly reasons.

Raised By Republicans said...

I would be surprised (if not shocked) if there were a coup d'etat in Turkey.

The military in Turkey may be nervous about Gul in particular but they are first and foremost interested in binding Turkey to the west and in particular, the EU. A coup d'etat would end Turkish accession talks once and for all. Given that both Gul and the AKP leadership in general are on record as also wanting to join the EU, I doubt US West's fears will come true.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Does US presence in Iraq make a wider war more or less likely?

USWest said...

More likely, LTG. And RBR, I am sorry to disagree, but Turks are pretty much certain that they will not be allowed into the EU, ever. And the military is pretty much certain that if AKP gets in all the way, regardless of how moderate it is, the EU will have even more reason to lock Turkey out. The Turkish constitution basically charges the military with the protection of a secular state. For the military, The AKP is not secular.Reading Turkish press and talking to Turks, I hear over and over again that in Turkey, there is more resentment over the EU than anything else.Turkish opinion of the US is at all time lows. Turks in the know are thinking a Coup by early next year. And every editorial in the national dailies are about one of three things 1) the threat to secularism 2) the threat the Western “imperialists” pose to Turkish territorial integrity and culture 3) The need to keep the effects of globalization in check, which is code for protecting local culture.Turkey is a nation divided. The major cities are West-oriented and fairly prosperous. But the rest of Anatolia looks East and is improvised. These are the Kurdish areas where very conservative forms of Islam and tribalism are still practiced.I hope I am wrong and that you are right, RBR. I hope the Turks with whom I speak are wrong. Only time will tell.

Raised By Republicans said...

I'm sure the feeling on the street in Turkey is anti-western and anti-EU. But the EU has always been characterized by widespread unpopularity among the masses (often about 40%-50% opposition - more than enough for the anti-EU folks to say things like "everyone hates the EU") combined with solid support among elites.

It doesn't really matter what the average Turk thinks about a coup. It only matters what the Generals and Colonels think. If they think they will get what they want from a coup, they may do it. If they think it will end any hopes of joining the EU for decades, they won't.

I can tell you that the EU would be more likely to tolerate a moderate Islamic-Democratic movement along the lines of what the AKP claims to be than they would tolerate a Turkey that still has coups.

Everything I've seen about Turkish politics says that both the leadership of the AKP and the military have joining the EU as the center piece of their foreign policy. It's not about emotion or identity mind you. It's about billions of Euros in subsidies that they hope to get. It's about the material wellbeing of millions of Turks.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Well, if there's a coup d'etat in Turkey, say goodbye to the EU. That's exactly the sort of un-democratic instability that Europe is right to shun.

Raised By Republicans said...

LTG is right. The EU has a past history of refusing to admit non-democracies (and they have a pretty strict definition of democracy). They wouldn't even talk to Turkey about joining until that country abolished its death penalty.

Political extremists in Spain, Portgual and Slovakia were hard pressed by the EU to avoid coups.

In Slovakia a Chavez like politician who was elected but governing in violation of the constitution, was forced to step down to keep Slovakia on schedule for joining.

Portugal and Spain had their membership postponed for a couple of years because of abortive coup atempts.

USWest said...

I don't disagree that a coup would end EU hopes for Turkey. I don't disagree that the EU has been as the center of much of Turkish foreign and domestic policy. I don't disagree that the EU never poll well outside the elite classes. And I don't think a coup is inevitable in Turkey. I do think, however, that there is a much stronger possibility of it that RBR does.

EU accession talks have stalled. The election of of Sarko in France sent a pretty loud message to the Turks as well as France's insistence on prosecuting Armenian genocide deniers. Germany can't seem to figure out what to do with the ethnic Turks who were born and raised in Germany. And the Eastern Bloc who once tangled with the Ottoman's can't be none to pleased at the idea of Turkey in the EU.

Turkey isn't going to settle on Cyprus. And while Turkey has loosened restrictions on Kurds, there have been a wave of attacks, which we should not forgotten. This has re-ignited concerns among the elites about the Kurds. I think many in the military have been wary of loosening up on the Kurds. And Turkey has backed off some of the HR reforms required of them by the EU. Now this may be temporary. But unless the EU starts re-engaging Turkey in a real way, the Turks will cut their losses.

Since Turkey probably isn't going to abolish its death penalty and since the Kurds are still a big problem for Turkey, and since article 301 is still strongly enforced, you can pretty much figure that the military knows the EU ain't an viable option. Either that, or they quarreling among themselves about which way to go Western . . .a stronger alliance with the US or full blown EU effort.

The AKP and the military don't much get along. And they are working together begrudgingly. That is what happens in a democracy, as we well know. But if the AKP pushes too far, the military will move in. For them, protecting the "secular republic" is more important than the EU. Besides, Turkey is strategically very important and the West isn't going to just walk away. There will be money for Turkey regardless. It is to the benefit of the West to have a secular Muslim dominated state. If Turkey can't do it, then none of them can.

Maybe I am being overly bleak. I just prefer to prepare for the worst. That way I stand a chance of being pleasantly surprised.

Raised By Republicans said...

Turkey already abolished its death penalty I believe. It was a condition of getting to the stage they are at now.

What I'm hearing from you is that you agree with all my points but disagree with the conclusion because you really disagree with the idea that the EU is the center of the westernizers' agenda.

You also seem to think that the AKP is insincere about their stated interest in continuing to increase ties to the West. Either that or the military doesn't believe them.

If there is a coup d'etat in Turkey I'd be very surprised.

If the Military wants to join the EU and the AKP wants to join the EU and all the westernized elites want to join the EU and joining the EU would be finished if there was a coup d'etat ....there will be no coup.

As for France. True, they play the role of being the most resistant state to Turkey's joining the EU. However, they were opposed to British membership and look how successful that little long term plan was.

I can easily see a deal being struck where France gives in on Turkey in exchange for the Germans, Dutch and British continuing to subsidize France's bloated and inefficient welfare state. Keep in mind that the refusal to give up even some of the more rediculous welfare payments (like the ag subsidies) is the central feature of French politics. There isn't a French politician alive who wouldn't let the German Chancelor admit Turkey to the EU in exchange for not having to cut spending or raise taxes in France.

USWest said...

I stand corrected. Turkey abolished the Death Penalty in peace time in 2002. So what is wartime these days?

The short answer to your question, RBR is, "sort of".

I am not certain that the "reformers" to which you refer are really "westernizers" in the 360 degree sense.

The centerpiece of government policies (i.e. the military and the civilian
government) has been EU entry. Now, read carefully what comes next. The "main priority" of the military is protecting the secular Republic of Turkey as Ataturk intended it to be. The EU is one means to that end.

The main priority of the AKP (Justice and Development Party) is economic
development in order to legitimize an Islamic conservative democratic party. The AKP is the reincarnation of Welfare Party that was
removed from power in Turkey's last successful military coup in 1997.

Erdogan is like the third way of Islamic politics. He knows that the
secular governments of the past have failed miserably at creating economic stability or well-being in Turkey, which is largely why the AKP has won elections. So he knows that if he can legitimize his party by dampening down the Islamic parts (i.e. like shaving off beards
before elections and making nice with Christian Democrats in Europe) while improving the economics then he can cut a middle ground. This is all well and good, but the problem is many of the people in his party are associated with less than moderate religious groups and many, including Gul, were removed from power in the 1997 coup. Without a strict secularist in the Turkish presidency, the precarious balance that now exists will be disturbed.

The AKP, hands down, has been successful at picking up were Kamalism left off. This is part because of EU criteria and in part to meeting IMF
requirements and to the U.S' backing of Turkish loans and the bale out package offered to Turkey back in 2001. Turkish economic
development is largely contingent on the strong Lira has dampened inflation. That alone makes for a huge improvement in Turkey. But, the plight of the average
person in hasn't much yet changed. It well may. Unemployment, especially in East
Anatolia, is still very high and conditions there are still 3rd world. Privatization is partly responsible for this. And many of the "elites" weren't happy about the privatization movement, yet another reason to dislike the AKP.

If the EU ever lets Turkey in, I will be as surprised as RBR says he will be if
there is a coup. But I remind you of what the
IHT wrote of Turkey in 1997:

"Experts on Turkey and diplomats in the region claim, rightly, that the
chances of a formal coup in Turkey are actually small. They point out that
the three previous military interventions in Turkish politics - in 1960,
1971 and 1980 - failed to improve the situation, and in each case the army had to allow the civilians back in."

Coups in Turkey are the typical, run of the mill types of coup. They are never permanent, nor are they necessarily violent. The Turkish military is not interested in permanently running the country or putting a military dictator in place. As one Turk spent most of his childhood as the child of a Turkish Ambassador to several nations (including Iraq, Iran, and Israel) explained to me, the Turkish constitution gives the role of protector of the Republic to the military. The military is the people because service is mandatory. It is their job to stage coups if the government is swinging too far away from secularism. In effect, the military and the government both know that they are part of the Turkish political landscape and they need not be ruled out. The last coup in Turkey was in 2004. It failed. But I am not ready to count out another one. It won’t be violent. But it may well happen.

Raised By Republicans said...

Yes, let's look at what the IHT said, "Experts on Turkey and diplomats in the region claim, rightly, that the
chances of a formal coup in Turkey are actually small."

A coup in 2004?? I don't recall that. Did the military actually sieze power or are you defining coup as any loud harrumphing by the military. If the definition of a coup is that loose then they probably have a coup a week there.

USWest said...

They said that in 1997 before the previous coup.

In 2004, the police raided and occupied the offices of a Turkish liberal paper, Nokta. The paper had published an article in which it was alleged that there was a plot by former military commanders to stage a coup against Erdogan's government. THe paper was intimidated into closing its doors. The plot was either failed or rumours, but many TUrks believe that it quite possible that such plans were made.

The question of whether there will be another one now is as contested in Turkey as it is here. Our dialogue mirrors that which is going on all over Turkish living rooms.

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