11/18/15, "Turkey could cut off Islamic State’s supply lines. So why doesn’t it?" The Guardian, David Graeber, opinion
"Western leaders could destroy Islamic State by calling on Erdoğan to end
his attacks on Kurdish forces in Syria and Turkey and allow them to
fight Isis on the ground."
"How could Isis be eliminated? In the region, everyone knows. All
it would really take would be to unleash the largely Kurdish forces of
the YPG (Democratic Union party) in Syria, and PKK (Kurdistan Workersâ€™
party) guerillas in Iraq and Turkey. These are, currently, the main
forces actually fighting Isis on the ground. They have proved
extraordinarily militarily effective and oppose every aspect of Isis's reactionary ideology.
But instead, YPG-controlled territory
in Syria finds itself placed under a total embargo by Turkey, and PKK
forces are under continual bombardment by the Turkish air force. Not
only has Erdogan done almost everything he can to cripple the forces
actually fighting Isis; there is considerable evidence that his
government has been at least tacitly aiding Isis itself.
seem outrageous to suggest that a Nato member like Turkey would in any
way support an organisation that murders western civilians in cold
blood. That would be like a Nato member supporting al-Qaida. But in fact
there is reason to believe that Erdogan's government does support
the Syrian branch of al-Qaida (Jabhat al-Nusra) too, along with any
number of other rebel groups that share its conservative Islamist
ideology. The Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia
University has compiled a long list of evidence of Turkish support for
Isis in Syria....
How has Erdoğan got away with this? Mainly by claiming those fighting
Isis are “terrorists” themselves. It is true that the PKK did fight a
sometimes ugly guerilla war with Turkey in the 1990s, which resulted in
it being placed on the international terror list. For the last 10 years,
however, it has completely shifted strategy, renouncing separatism and
adopting a strict policy of never harming civilians. The PKK was
responsible for rescuing thousands of Yazidi civilians
threatened with genocide by Isis in 2014, and its sister organisation,
the YPG, of protecting Christian communities in Syria as well. Their
strategy focuses on pursuing peace talks with the government, while
encouraging local democratic autonomy in Kurdish areas under the aegis
of the HDP, originally a nationalist political party, which has
reinvented itself as a voice of a pan-Turkish democratic left....
Had Turkey placed the same kind of absolute blockade on Isis
territories as they did on Kurdish-held parts of Syria, let alone shown
the same sort of “benign neglect” towards the PKK and YPG that they have
been offering to Isis, that blood-stained “caliphate” would long since
have collapsed – and arguably, the Paris attacks may
never have happened. And if Turkey were to do the same today, Isis would
probably collapse in a matter of months. Yet, has a single western
leader called on Erdoğan to do this?
The next time you hear one of those politicians declaring the need to
crack down on civil liberties or immigrant rights because of the need
for absolute “war” against terrorism bear all this in mind. Their
resolve is exactly as “absolute” as it is politically convenient.
Turkey, after all, is a “strategic ally”. So after their declaration,
they are likely to head off to share a friendly cup of tea with the very
man who makes it possible for Isis to continue to exist."
"David Graeber is an American anthropologist, political activist and
author. He is currently a professor at the London School of Economics Global Justice Movement and
was one of the earlier organisers of Occupy Wall Street. He is the
author of numerous books including The Democracy Project, and Debt: The
First 5,000 Years (2011)"