Friday, August 28, 2015

Wag the Dog - Part 2

NYT

AFTER a year of intense diplomatic negotiations, the Turkish government is now permitting the United States to use Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base, which will allow American aircraft to fly missions in Syria and Iraq with greater operational effectiveness and economic efficiency.

The price of this agreement, however, may well be too high in the long run, both for the success of America’s anti-Islamic State campaign and for the stability of Turkey.

That’s because the Turkish government’s recent change of heart and its sudden willingness to allow American access to the Incirlik base was driven by domestic political considerations, rather than a fundamental rethinking of its Syria strategy.

Shortly after granting access to the base, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, launched a wave of airstrikes on Kurdish targets, reigniting a conflict that had been on the road to resolution. To make matters worse, Turkey has struck hard at Syrian Kurds who have, until now, been America’s most reliable ally in fighting the Islamic State, often called ISIS, in northern Syria [..]

Mr. Erdogan’s overriding objective has instead been to achieve a parliamentary supermajority that will grant him an executive presidency [..] Since his party lost its governing majority in the June elections, dashing his desires, he has focused on forcing early elections — now set for November — to regain control of Parliament [..]

To do so, Mr. Erdogan hopes to tar the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party as a terrorist front and steal votes from the Nationalist Movement Party. He has used the current crisis as a smoke screen behind which to launch an air war against militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., in Iraq and artillery strikes on the Democratic Union Party, or P.Y.D., in Syria. He has also unleashed a new wave of repression aimed at Kurds in Turkey, which risks plunging the country into civil war.