All in all, this is a wise proverb. President Trump’s decision to stay out of the Turkish-Kurdish fray unless our geopolitical interests are threatened is a wise decision.
Turkey’s incursion into Northern Syria in pursuit of Kurdish rebels has been almost universally deplored by the media and politicians in both the United States and Europe. The outrage is justified but it is curious that no such outrage has heretofore been voiced as the Turks have been bad actors for a very long time. Examples abound as Turkey has a long history of execrable misbehavior in their part of the world directed especially at Christians. Turkey’s genocidal campaign which began approximately one hundred years ago gathered additional steam with the Istanbul pogrom of 1955 which left many dead and private property in ruins. Such ethnic cleansing did not subside until well into the nineteen nineties during which time Greeks on the islands of Tenedos and especially Imbros were persecuted and purged.
Turkish aggression against the Greeks currently takes the form of frequent violations of Greek airspace by fighter aircraft, and an intensified naval presence stretching from the Greek island of Rhodes – fewer than twenty miles distant from Turkey as the crow flies – to the island nation of Cyprus. Turkish seismic research vessels now operating within Cyprus’ territorial waters have practically encircled the island. In the light of recently discovered hydrocarbon deposits in the areaTurkey has stated that it is ready to begin gas exploration. Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, warns that not even a bird will be allowed to fly over the Aegean without Turkey’s permission.
Turkey’s belligerence in the area has been on display before. In 1974 Turkey invaded and occupied about one-third of Cyprus and NATO proved powerless to stop it. The do-nothing diplomatic corps, of course, claimed that “legally” their hands were tied because Cyprus was not a member of NATO. To this day, it remains obvious that Turkey has territorial ambitions that include not only Cyprus but the Greek islands in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Devlet Bahceli, leader of the Turkish nationalist party (MHP), is clear when he says that “… Cyprus is Turkish. It’s a Turkish homeland and it will remain Turkish. The will for the Aegean to again become a grave for Greek aspiration is still alive.” Mr. Bahceli’schurlish remarkis an obvious reference to the savagery that was unleashed on the Greek community in the Eastern Aegean city of Smyrna, in Asia Minor, in 1922 when Turkish troops and their allies razed the historically Greek city to the ground.
THROW THE KURDS A LIFELINE?
It is now conventional wisdom that the United States has abandoned its allies, the Kurds, in their struggle against Turkish aggression. But the United Sates and the West need to think twice before throwing the Kurds a lifeline as they have a checkered legacy: 1) Beginning in 1894 and continuing through the nineteen-twenties the Kurds did a lot of the dirty work for the Turks in the massacre, rape, pillage, and plunder of Christian Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians. The death toll from the thirty-year long atrocities numbered approximately two million innocents. 2) Winston Churchill’s ill-fated and admittedly hare-brained scheme to invade the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915 was met by the stiff resistance not only of Turkish soldiers but also of Kurds and Arabs who inflicted heavy losses on ANZAC troops. 3) The Kurds did not fight on the side of the Allies during WW II. Anti-Trump talking heads claim that it was not possible for the Kurds to assist the Allies as they did not have a state. Being devoid of a state, however, did not keep the Kurds from participating in the Christian genocide at the turn of the previous century. 4) Kurdish insurgents have indiscriminately killed many police, military personnel, and civilians, both Turkish and foreign in Istanbul, Ankara and other cities as they continue to press their case for an independent Kurdistan which would spill beyond Turkey and onto Syria, Iran, and Iraq. Turkey’s fear that the Syrian Kurdish rebels might make common cause with Kurdish terrorist groups operating inside Turkey’s borders is hardly irrational. 5) Religious extremism is still the norm particularly in rural Kurdish-controlled areas. Female genital mutilation, honor killings, and child marriages are not uncommon to this day.