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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 12/24/15

Meet the Sultan of Civil War

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Reprinted from Sputnik

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
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Southeast Anatolia is burning. And nobody can say Sultan Erdogan, a.k.a. President Tayyip, hasn't issued one of his trademark macho warnings.

Since mid-December the Turkish President has been adamant that a blitzkrieg/"cleansing" op in Southeast Anatolia will only end with Kurdish militants associated with the PKK completely "annihilated."

An array of towns -- especially Cizre, Silopi and Nusaybin -- is totally under siege, encircled by tanks and armored vehicles. Ankara's tactics include the Ministry of Education text-messaging around 3,000 teachers forcing them to return to their hometowns for "on-the-job training."
The Turkish Army is facing a very determined enemy; the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H) -- a lightly weaponized PKK urban youth faction following PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, who still languishes in an island prison. In a few towns, the YDG-H is occupying whole neighborhoods, setting up barricades and declaring autonomy.

As Ocalan has been kept virtually incommunicado by Ankara for months now, the political vacuum has been occupied by Cemil Bayik, a no-nonsense PKK commander fully supportive of the YDG-H. Representatives from the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) have also been forbidden by Ankara to meet with Ocalan.

Predictably, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu -- he of the former "zero problems with our neighbors" doctrine -- told the HDP to stay away from the conflagration, as they would be "playing with fire." The HDP estimates that Ankara's new offensive has created at least 200,000 internal refugees.

The bear shows its claws

Erdogan's renewed anti-Kurdish civil war predictably has not elicited even a peep from the EU -- fresh from being extorted by the Sultan to the tune of 3 billion euros, which supposedly will be used to contain the refugee crisis unleashed by the Sultan himself when he decided to "release" the refugees from many a holding camp.

Yet this new civil war chapter offers a window of opportunity for a really serious power player -- as Erdogan, foolishly, now fights on two fronts, internal (Kurds) and external (Moscow). Sooner or later Moscow's support for the YPG Syrian Kurds may translate into decisive support for the PKK inside Turkey.

Everyone remembers when the YPG, four months ago, was on the verge of making a move towards Jarablus -- the last town under the control of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh on the Turkish/Syrian border and an essential hub to resupply Raqqa, the capital of the fake "Caliphate."

If the YPG conquered Jarablus, Raqqa would inevitably fall in no time. Thus Erdogan duly declared Jarablus a "red line." Translation: PKK-linked Kurds would be fought to death by the Turkish Army.

Russian intel is carefully monitoring the chessboard, although Moscow has not yet made a move to unconditionally support the YPG-PKK -- weaponizing included.

But hardcore action is in the cards. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met Selahattin Demirtas, the leader of the People's' Democracy Party, Turkey's top Kurdish political party, in Moscow.

Demirtas says he can do what the Sultan can't; restore the Russia-Turkey relationship.

As much as this Turkey insider theme is open to contention, what matters mostly for Moscow is Syria; Russia insists the YPG must be at the negotiating table on the future of Syria as representatives of a legitimate opposition. Russia knows very well this may end up with a Kurdish autonomy scenario in northern Syria, which would imply freedom of movement for the PKK to cause trouble to Ankara.

It does not hurt, meanwhile, to keep a good relationship with the People's Democracy Party in Turkey, which keeps its distance from the PKK although both parties share quite a few goals and key supporters.

Even ruling AKP members in Turkey have realized that Erdogan's civil war strategy leads to a dead end. So they are suggesting Erdogan talks to the People's Democracy Party as a way to further sideline the PKK politically.

That may be too little, too late; Demirtas has been stressing that autonomy is the way for the whole of Southeast Anatolia -- in contrast to what is characterized as Ankara's dictatorship.

So now Russia is able to add pressure against the Sultan on two separate fronts; support for autonomy in Anatolia, and support for a Syrian Kurd-controlled northern Syria.

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Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia (more...)

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