An implosion in Syria
President Obama’s dainty
maneuvers invite a war in the region
By The Washington Times Staff
July 1, 2015
administration's determination to stay clear of the civil war in Syria,
understandable but dangerous, is a tale of red lines drawn and then ignored as
if they had never been drawn. President Obama's brave talk followed by nothing
much threatens to lead to an implosion of the region.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey threatens to intervene directly along his
southeastern border with Syria to prevent the consolidation of an anonymous
Kurdish colony that could become a state. A Kurdish militia, the People's
Defense Units, supported by low-intensity American air bombardment, has wrested
control of two-thirds of Syria's 560-mile border with Turkey. That's the good
not-so-good news is that this is an area populated mostly by ethnic Kurds, and
there's evidence that they intend to set up a government of their own. Such a
state could ally itself with fellow Kurds in neighboring Iraq who are bearing
the weight of the ground fighting against the Islamic State, or ISIS.
jeopardized Mr. Erdogan's effort, after years of refusal by Turkish governments,
to negotiate a settlement with his own Kurdish minority, perhaps 16 million of
the nation's 80 million residents. Most of them live in southeast Turkey near
the Syrian border, now in a chaotic state with refugees swarming everywhere.
It's the pathway for Muslim volunteers — including some from Europe, the
United States and Canada — to join the war against the Assad regime in
critics have charged Turkish connivance with ISIS, though the Ankara government
is part of the American mission to "degrade and destroy" the Islamic
State, as Mr. Obama promised to do a year ago.
Kurds, once supported by the Soviet Union, waged a bloody 30-year guerrilla
campaign against the central government. Mr. Erdogan had been moving to defuse
the Kurdish issue with concessions on language and other issues. In the recent
election, however, it was a Kurdish party which emerged in parliament, becoming
the principal opposition to blocking a majority for Mr. Erdogan's party. That
halted his efforts to remold Turkey's constitution to create a strong, perhaps
authoritarian, presidential system, to enhance his growing flirtation with
newspapers say Mr. Erdogan wants to establish a 20-mile "security"
zone inside Syria to boost the tiny Free Syrian Army, which, with American
backing, is trying to seize the opposition mantle from ISIS and other Islamic
terrorists. The increasingly fragile Assad regime in Damascus is supported by
Iran and Russia. Many in the region warn that Turkish direct intervention could
get out of hand quickly, given the chaotic nature of the Syrian war. Nothing is
uncomplicated in the Middle East.
It may be too late to do much about it, and it is increasingly self evident that the Obama administration not only doesn't have a strategy — as the president himself concedes — but its patchwork of fixes, like patches on an old inner tube, is contributing to the prospects of a regional war.