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Erdogan’s Gift to Bolton

Bolton’s condition [1] that the U.S. won’t withdraw until Turkey guarantees not to attack the YPG didn’t go over very well [2] in Ankara:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan scolded and snubbed visiting White House national security adviser John Bolton on Tuesday, saying that he had made a “very serious mistake” by demanding protection for U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria.

The point of Bolton’s demand was to have it rejected so that U.S. forces would have a pretext to stay in Syria for a long time to come. We have to assume that Bolton wanted a bad reaction from the Turkish government. By insisting on a guarantee Turkey would never give, he has made it politically harder to pull U.S. forces out of Syria. Erdogan’s snub is the perfect gift for Bolton and for the other Iran hawks that want an excuse to keep our illegal war in Syria going a while longer.

The danger in all this is that it may soon put the U.S. in the absurd position of having to decide whether to defend the YPG from a Turkish military assault:

“The message that Bolton gave in Israel is unacceptable. It is not possible for us to swallow,” Erdogan said. He suggested that he might ignore the Trump administration’s request to delay the Turkish military operation.

“Very soon, we will take action to neutralize terrorist organizations in Syria,” Erdogan said. “We have completed our preparations for the operation to a large extent.”

The U.S. isn’t obliged to defend against an attack by one of our own treaty allies inside the borders of a country where our forces have no right to be. It is a measure of how far removed from U.S. security interests our Syria policy is and how far outside the law our military operations in Syria are that we are confronted with such a ridiculous predicament. No U.S. interests will be served by remaining in any part of Syria, and the risk of clashing with our own treaty allies is reason enough to get out as soon as possible.

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11 Comments To "Erdogan’s Gift to Bolton"

#1 Comment By Sid Finster On January 8, 2019 @ 11:22 am

Does anyone honestly think that this was not entirely intentional on the part of Bolton?

Does anyone honestly think that after bending over at least twice for the War Party in Syria alone, Trump was going to stand up to the hawks this time?

#2 Comment By BobPM On January 8, 2019 @ 12:36 pm

Normally agree with you, but I think saying that “No U.S. interests will be served by remaining in any part of Syria” overstates things a bit. Although I am ready to get out of Syria, I think abandoning the Kurds is a problem. That said, I have no idea how to do it without troops, which you rightly reject.

#3 Comment By Mystery Solved On January 8, 2019 @ 1:31 pm

Reminds me of Albright’s ploy at Shambouillet that was designed to fail as pretext for the bombing campaign on Belgrade. Demorat or Republican, seems they all draw from the same threadworn bag of tricks.

#4 Comment By Mystery Solved On January 8, 2019 @ 1:32 pm

Reminds me of Albright’s ploy at Shambouillet that was designed to fail as pretext for the bombing campaign on Belgrade. Democrat or Republican, seems they all draw from the same threadworn bag of tricks.

#5 Comment By Jonathan Mark On January 8, 2019 @ 5:46 pm

The Kurds should be our treaty ally and Turkey should not be. Then the problem is solved. Hopefully John Bolton is working towards that goal. Thanks to the Turkish dictator Erdogan for unintentionally helping to break up what is left of the US-Turkey alliance.

#6 Comment By Unholy Lands On January 8, 2019 @ 9:42 pm

@Jonathan Mark : “The Kurds should be our treaty ally and Turkey should not be. Then the problem is solved.”

Newsflash: you can’t have a treaty with a country that doesn’t exist.

The US and Israel really need to stop betraying the Kurds. It’s tempting, because the Kurds are so useful for meddling or intervening in Iran or Syria or Turkey. But in the end the Kurds always get screwed by the false promises of those who manipulate them. It’s about to happen again. The Israelis and the neocons lied to the Kurds again, and now they will suffer the consequences.

In the meantime the US Turkey alliance will continue, because it must – it is strategic and many-layered.

But our other regional alliances have become big question marks. No one seems able to explain what we get out of the alliances with Saudi Arabia or Israel anymore. We’re no longer dependent on Saudi oil, and after all the big talk about what a great asset Israel would be if there were ever a war in the Middle East, it turned out to be comepletely worthless.

Both are now moral embarrassments and major liabilities to us, always causing problems with other countries in the region, from Yemen to Iran and Syria.

Isn’t it time, at long last, that we ended these useless relationships?

#7 Comment By About Time On January 8, 2019 @ 11:56 pm

I don’t care if Erdogan played into his hands or not. I’m glad somebody’s treating Bolton with the contempt he deserves, and it’s too bad Trump himself hasn’t gotten round to it yet.

#8 Comment By Clyde Schechter On January 9, 2019 @ 12:21 am

@BobPM. After we left Vietnam we received many South Vietnamese who had fought along side us and supported us. Even more followed as refugees later. There is a thriving Vietnamese community in the United States and they have contributed much to our country.

We could do this for the Kurds as well. Protect those who fought Isis for us by letting them resettle in the United States. We don’t need to defend them with troops.

#9 Comment By JR On January 9, 2019 @ 1:26 am

” We have to assume that Bolton wanted a bad reaction from the Turkish government.”
Not so sure about that. Has Bolton ever demonstrated to understand diplomacy and geopolitics beyond the use of force?

#10 Comment By outrigger On January 9, 2019 @ 12:27 pm

I don’t think it’s a “gift” at all. Unlike Bolton, Erdogan is a serious character. Whether or not we get out of the way, he’s gonna kill him a mess of Kurdish terrorists, and that’s just the way it will be.

Erdogan has been paying attention. He sees how we let the Israelis and Saudis push us around and rip us off. He’s not impressed. And he certainly isn’t impressed by some draft evading punk like Bolton who flits in from Tel Aviv to repeat whatever Netanyahu told him to say.

#11 Comment By Jason On January 9, 2019 @ 2:17 pm

We didn’t enter the Syrian war to protect the Kurds, we started by arming and training the Jihadi groups to the tune of 2 Billion dollars a year for every year of the war. Ironically much of our support went to FSA, which is a Turkish Islamist group whose fighters are joining the current Turkish assault on Manjib. Our goal has always been to help the Jihadis overthrow the government and if not destroy and Balkanize the country. We bombed Syrian troops directly dozens of times in support of the terrorists such as the the 2016 bombing of Deir Ezzor and the numerous times we killed Syrian and Iraqi PMUs as they tried to attack the terrorist pocket around Al Tanf. We also committed many documented war crimes such as the viscous total destruction of both Raqqa and Mosul where we killed thousands of civilians to uproot a few hundred IS fighters who held these cities. These war crimes have been documented in reports by Amnesty international. Its also import to understand that the YPG’s sister organization PKK has carried out terror bombings against civilian targets in Turkey for decades, so when the US announced that were setting up a 30k strong “border force” on Turkey’s border the Turkish Army invaded Northern Syria. They armed their proxies (FSA, HTS.etc) but did not attack Northern Syria until this idiotic and totally illegal move by the US and Kurds.
Just a few months ago the state department stated that our new goal would be to block Syria from it’s oil wealth so it can’t stabilize and rebuild. The west of Syria is where the bulk of Syria’s oil production is, it is home to 1.7 million Kurds as well as many Arab tribes. The population of Syria is 22 million. We have no right to set up a quasi-state for an ethnic group and block the extraction of oil from the rest of Syria. Nobody wants a Kurdish mini state; Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria are against it, as well as the local Arab populations (a group of 70 tribes met months ago and said they will never accept a Kurd/US proxy government in their areas of Western Syria. Further, as you’ll recall when Turkey was getting ready to invade Afrin the Syrian government offered to send troops to help the SDF defend if if they would just submit to Syrian government rule (as this is Syrian territory), they refused and lost Afrin in weeks. The SDF choose to allow the illegal occupation of Syria by the US while publicly stating their friendship with Israel, which has bombed Syria 1000+ times during the war. They have a choice: reconcile with the Syrian government and be protected by SAA, Hezbollah and Russia, or fight the Turks themselves, which they will eventually lose.