Monday 29th August
Throughout History Turkey has been a problem. Geographically straddling both Europe and Asia and controlling access to the Black Sea it has been seen as vital in both keeping Russia out of the Mediterranean Sea and in bringing stability to the Middle East. For centuries Turkey was in decline and fighting rearguard actions to control her Empire in both the Balkans and the Middle East. But they could never be trusted. Duplicity seemed hard-wired into their thinking. And it is much the same today.
They are desperate to be seen to be modern and to join the EU (just as we are desperate to leave) but they have a pitiful human rights record. They are a member of NATO and the Americans need them as a bulwark against Russia, especially after their recent incursions in the Ukraine. There is also the thorny issue of Syria and the never-ending civil war. Officially Turkey is fighting the Assad regime and also Isis, though Assad is fighting Isis too. But the real enemy as far as Turkey is concerned is the Kurds, and always has been. The poor Kurds have been seeking Nation status for decades, but as they straddle Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Russia there is little hope of their ever being granted a true homeland. They have been, almost singlehandedly fighting Isis in both Iraq and Syria, and achieving quite a few victories. But this only worries Turkey more; the stronger the Kurds are in Iraq and Syria the more Turkey fears them. Turkey labels them as terrorists, along with Isis and almost everyone else fighting in Syria. But the real terrorists are the Turks. They have been complicit in helping Isis gain weapons and in selling oil for them with some links even to the Turkish President’s son. They are also playing cat and mouse with the refugees pouring out of Syria, using them as bargaining chips with Europe and accepting huge financial assistance in the process.
There is a dirty war going on in Syria and Iraq. Russia is almost certainly colluding with the Turks to try to get them to fight Isis and so assisting Russia’s ally Assad. America is urging Turkey to get involved too, though not against the Kurds, who after all have done most of the fighting against Isis. And Assad still survives, though officially everyone except Russia wants him gone. Roger Waters expressed it wonderfully when he said that war made perfect sense, expressed in dollars and cents, pounds shillings and pence. Nobody really wants the war in Syria to end, and sadly it won’t for some time yet. Almost everyone is behaving badly but I think that Turkey (officially our ally) is completely untrustworthy. It is only interested in subduing the Kurds and will play America and us along for years to come.