The Middle East continues to be set ablaze with increased terrorist activity. Along with that we have the possibility of Saudi Arabia deploying troops to Syria, where the city of Aleppo looks to fall to Assad’s troops. And we know Russia is fully engaged in Syria. Any comparison of that situation to Afghanistan is patently wrong.
But it’s about to get much worse.
As reported by Fox News, “An explosion targeting Turkish military buses carrying personnel killed at least 28 people and wounded 61 others in the capital city of Ankara Wednesday, in what government officials called an intricately planned act of terror.
The U.S. Embassy in Ankara activated “duck and cover” following the nearby explosion, a U.S. government source told Fox News.
“We believe that those who lost their lives included our military brothers as well as civilians,” Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said. The buses were waiting at traffic lights at an intersection, the Turkish military said while condemning the “contemptible and dastardly” attack.
At least two military vehicles caught fire and dozens of ambulances were sent to the scene. Dark smoke could be seen billowing from a distance.
It was not clear who was behind the bombing. Kurdish rebels, the Islamic State group and a leftist extremist group have carried out attacks in the country recently.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the attack exceeds all “moral and humane boundaries,” and that his country is determined to fight the “forces” behind the attackers.”
First of all, the ultimate blame for this may sadly rest on the shoulders of President Erdogan himself. If Erdogan had developed better relations with the Kurds, perhaps he would have reduced the possibility that this came from the venerable PKK or YPG.
As you may not know, Turkish forces have been shelling Kurdish positions recently, across border, and have even flown air missions against the Kurds. Amazingly enough, much of this came after an agreement between the U.S. and Turkey to allow American fighter aircraft to take off from Turkish bases for attacks against ISIS.
However, if this attack wasn’t the work of the PKK or YPG, it could have come from ISIS itself. Now, if that’s the case, then Erdogan really only has himself to blame, as he’s been playing Dr. Frankenstein to the monster we know as the Islamic state. For far too long, Turkey has turned a blind eye to what has been going on along its border with Syria. There’s no doubt Turkey has been the staging area for Islamic jihadi recruits seeking to join ISIS. Furthermore, as a Sunni movement, ISIS, along with Jabhat al-Nusra, have been propped up by Turkey as well as Qatar in the internecine war against Bashar Assad. And it’s not just these unconventional threats Turkey faces; they also have to consider the Russian threat — remember Turkey did shoot down a Russian fighter bomber.
So what is the solution? Leadership from the United States. If America had stepped in early and strengthened the relationship with the Kurdish Regional government in an effort to support their independence, we would have leverage. America could have worked to de-fang the PKK and YPG in developing strong diplomatic and economic ties with the Kurds. If there’s one place where we could have a permanent base in the Middle East, it is in Kurdistan. From that vantage point America could have also been in position, or could be in position, to provide safe zones and protection for Assyrian and Chaldean Christians as well as Yazidis. All of this, along with joint military support, would have been conditioned upon the actions of the YPG and PKK being curtailed. A strong Kurdistan would be an incredible bulwark against Iranian belligerence and provide America with another very solid ally in the region, along with Israel, Egypt, Jordan. Will any of this happen in 2016? Nah.
The current class of presidential nominees would be very savvy if they talked about how they’d improve relations with the Kurds. And recognize this factoid: the Kurds are the world’s largest ethnic group without a homeland. Unlike the made-up grievances of the nomadic Arabs referring to themselves as “Palestinians,” the Kurds have a separate language, historic culture and traditions. They are not Arab…they are Kurdish. Kurdistan could be the real oasis of freedom right in the Middle East, and we could gain immense favor with a people who are so pro-western, and yes, they are Muslim.
The terrorist attack in Ankara yesterday was horrible, and my condolences go out to the families of those who lost their lives. However, if we had visionary leadership, perhaps we could develop strategies to cordon off this evil, deny it sanctuary, interdict its materiel support and financing, undermine the jihadist ideology, and in the end, defeat militant Islamism.