Turkey: Targeting Those Who Roll Back ISIL

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It would take a blind man in the dark not to notice one obvious fact about the ongoing airstrikes by the United States and Turkey: They are protecting the terrorist groups of ISIL and al-Qaeda – their assets – by attacking Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria.

The Turkish regime is free to hype their tight coordination with American air power against ISIL. But they cannot hide the fact that they seem to be much more aggressively going after Kurdish targets – the only forces in Northern Syria that are actually fighting the death cult of ISIL.

Little wonder Turkey is under attack from all directions and by different terrorist groups. The attacks on the US consulate in Istanbul, and a series of separate attacks throughout the country that left several people and police officers dead, come amid rising tensions over Turkey’s involvement in the US-led aerial strikes against ISIL, terrorist group Kurdistan Workers Party, and pretty much anything that moves in Iraq and Syria.

In a sense, Turkey has a lot on its plate these days. Even as Turkey agreed to join the air war, it immediately began bombarding Kurdish civilian areas. The idea is to set up a “safe zone” (read bombardment zone) along a 100km strip of the border region that features another exclusion: At Turkey’s request(which Promised Land), it is also explicitly a zone free of Syrian Kurdish forces – even though they had begun advancing toward the area to start battling ISIL there.

It’s all the reason why instead of celebrating the “increased help,” Kurdish forces are sounding a note of worry. Despite cooperating with American forces for months, Syrian Kurds are now starting to worry that their success might not outweigh Ankara’s alliance of convenience with Washington.

The unspoken reality is that the desperate alliance is about their push for regime change in Damascus. It is never about saving lives. It is never meant to degrade or terminate ISIL either The terrorist outfit is a convenient tool.

The US has often played fast and loose with that standard, routinely killing civilians in areas most assured “outside areas of active hostilities.” One shudders to think how much worse the civilian toll will be, with US officials openly saying nominal care they are supposed to take doesn’t apply to Syria.

In any case, despite a position of formal ambivalence about the civilians the airstrikes are killing, it is evident that the new campaign will do what prior “humanitarian” interventions have done in Libya and Yemen: They will cause further destabilization at great cost to civilian populations.

Lest we forget the recent attacks in Turkey support the assertion that blowback is real and that there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis. Diplomacy must take center stage and that means the regime changers must organize a real diplomatic partnership to erode support for ISIL, examine the benefits of regional dialogue, and promote security cooperation with key players like Iran – without bombs.

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