Despite all its negative approaches towards the US interests in the region, Turkey is still considering itself an old ally to the US and a member of NATO, which deserves to receive the same political, military, and financial support from the US that it used to prior to the Second Gulf War. However, with the backstab that the United States experienced by Turkey when it engaged in the “Freedom Iraq Oppression,” how much more and for how much longer should the US take the burden of and old “ally” when, in stead, it has the essential and loyal collaboration of the Kurds?
The worst of Turkey’s burdens for the US to share are: financial, military, and political support to cover up its unprecedented Kurdish issue, the Armenian Genocide, the Islamic orientation, the Cyrus issue, its human rights violations, its so-called freedom of expression, etc. Most of these issues are conditions for Turkey’s membership into the European Union. But Ankara is “allergic” to and quite sensitive about mentioning any of these points. In many aspects, however, the US has a responsibility to press Turkey to obey the criteria set by the EU; otherwise, the load will not be an easy one for America to share.
It is a heavy weight on US shoulders to share with an old ally, which is now a more restrictive and problematic regime for the World Super Power in the region than any other country. Recently, the Turkish government rejected, once again, the requests made by the US Air Force to conduct training flights in the Mediterranean Sea air space and overnight fighter air raids over Turkey. The main backstab by Turkey; however, was when it declined the US troops access to their land in the 2003 Iraq War, which is a clear factor in affecting the strategic relationship between the two countries.
Moreover, Turkey threatens to invade the Kurdish region of Iraq every now and then, further attempting to halt the US efforts in the area. Meanwhile, Turkey's political and military leaders are expressing their need for more US military and financial support to eradicate PKK, Turkey’s Kurdish rebels. Turkey is asking the US to be reluctant in supporting the Kurdish objective over an independent Kurdish state in Iraq’s northern region. The Bush administration is playing much smarter than Turkey in this regard. The United States has come to realize that the Kurdish leaders are their key ally, and they would not jeopardize this robust relationship over an old, retired one.
Senator and wife of the former US President Clinton, has lately realized the significance of this relationship. "I think we have a vital national security interest and obligation to try to help the Kurds manage their various problems in the north so that one of our allies, Turkey, is not inflamed and they [the Kurds] are able to continue their autonomy," she has said.
The only stable region that the US can depend on where it feels welcomed, at the present time and in the aftermath of its potential withdrawal from Iraq, is Kurdistan. US officials have now become well aware of the Kurdish support for Americans in the region, and they should respect Kurdish ‘sensitivities.’
Although the US blacklisted PKK, naming it a “terrorist” organization in the 1990s – to keep Turkey happy at the time – it is now realizing that taking action against any Kurdish political party would mean taking action against the Kurdish nation as a whole. This is regardless to the part of Kurdistan for which the party is struggling. If the Bush administration will take Turkey’s burden at least in this matter, it should prepare itself to face other more serious circumstances in the region. Such a move by the US would be viewed by the Kurds as another betrayal in a series of betrayals by America.
In 1975, Iran agreed with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to close its doors and end its support to the Kurdish people, leaving them at the mercy of Saddam Hussein in 1975 – still vivid in the memories of the Kurdish people. In 1991, under the rule of George Bush Senior, the US encouraged the Kurds to rise up against the now obsolete Iraqi regime, but did not keep its promise, leaving the Kurds, once again, completely helpless. As a result, more than one million Kurdish civilians fled to neighboring Iran and Turkey.