Bush gave a speech today at Charleston Air Base in South Carolina. In his speech he reiterated that the United States is fighting al Qaeda that is being organized and led by Osama Bin Laden, a figure thought to be long dead by most intelligence analysts. Bush could be right, who knows, it seems as if everything is up in the air at this stage of the game. If Bush can make political hay bringing up the name of the exalted one, then let him do so. At this point he needs all the help he can get. The reason I bring this up is that even al Qaeda is not making any inroads. If the United States were to leave Iraq in my opinion, the forces of the Shiite majority and their Iranian Allies would probably doom it to failure. They would be lucky to survive, let alone make Iraq a “safe-haven” for Osama Bin Laden’s followers.
No, the nation with the biggest stake in Iraq sans the US, is Turkey. For the last 90 years, Turkey has been a pivotal country that stretches two continents, and is the last country that has been the home of a United Muslim nation in the Middle east and the Balkans that under the Ottoman Empire lasted nearly as long as the Roman Empire. The Ottoman Empire was a world player for hundreds of years and it’s only been a secondary player for the last 90. This is because France and England and now the United States have stepped into the role that was held for centuries by Ankara. The last 90 years have been hard for Turkey, a Muslim nation albeit a secular one. Only 20 percent of Muslims in Turkey say they are Muslims first and Turks second. The other 80% believe they are citizens first and religion falls to second place. In fact, many members of Turkey’s population aren’t even practicing Muslims. The Sunni’s are in the majority and the
Shiite and Alevi are minorities.
The Ottoman Empire was a theocracy. The law of the land for Muslims was shari'a, the holy law of the Kur'an-i Kerim (Holy Koran). Christian and Jewish minorities were governed by their own laws, based on their own Scriptures, subject to the ultimate rule of the sultan. By the early 20th century, it was clear to Kemal Atatürk, father of the Turkish Republic, that religious government was hampering Turkey's social, commercial and diplomatic progress. The republic he founded was staunchly secular, with the separation of government and religion as one of its fundamental tenets. According to the constitution, the Turkish armed forces are charged with preserving democracy and secularism.
Another problem is the PPK, the Kurdish Separatist movement. The government in Turkey does not want any Kurdish separatist area, not in Turkey, not Iraq or Iran, anywhere. This is anathema to the Turks and they regard a Kurdish homeland as something that is an internal security problem. This puts the United States somewhere between a rock and a hard place. The US regards the Northern Iraqi Kurds as one of its major allies in the ongoing fight against al Qaeda and the attacks against US troops. Turkey sees this as a security threat. The US has been doing a balancing act trying to keep both sides happy. The problem with this is that the US cannot keep this up indefinitely. Sooner or later it must take a side. If we back the Turks in their war against the PPK, this would be a stab in the back to most Kurds. People that have never had an ally in their historical fight since the beginning of modern history, to secure a homeland for a people that have a distinct culture and language, and have been the victims of ethnic cleansing and holocausts of their own. If we back the Kurds, we are inviting the Islamic nationalists to use this as yet another betrayal by Washington on their promises to work with the Turkish government. We invite them to work with Iran, a nation that has it’s own Kurdish problem.
These are the kinds of problems that the Bush Administration has wrought by their phony “War on Terrorism”. I have added a You Tube clip of the Turkish Army that is now on the Northern Iraqi border deciding if crossing the border and rooting out PPK terrorists would be the best way to solve this dilemma. Notice the professionalism of the Turkish Army and the US armaments they have. We must remember here that because Turkey has been an isolated nation for the last 90 years, doesn’t mean that they will stay that way. They have a booming economy and a high standard of living that is just below that of Switzerland. We are in another Bush driven quandary. I believe the best thing we could do now is to bring our NATO allies, the Iraqi Kurds and the Turks together and sort this thing out with diplomacy before we have two other nationalities that hate us for our interference in their national agendas. Somehow I believe that won’t happen. Maybe this is just another reason to get rid of Bush and Cheney. Either way we are about to see a Turkey that will regain what they lost in the First World War. They will once again become a key player on the world stage. We will go to extraordinary ends to keep them in the Western fold, even it means turning our backs on the only real allies we had during the entire debacle in Iraq.