In a country where none of the news is good, this is very very bad. I’ve worried about Turkey since the Islamists started flowing into Syria – they’re Sunnis, determined to help overthrow a Shia government.
An extremist group linked to Al Qaeda routed Syrian rebel fighters and seized control of a gateway town near Syria’s northern border with Turkey on Wednesday, posting snipers on rooftops, erecting checkpoints and imposing a curfew on the local population . . .
Its seizure is likely to alarm Syria’s neighbors. Turkey, which has vocally supported the fight against forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and allowed fighters and arms to flow freely across its southern border, now faces a bold al Qaeda affiliate. . .
In recent months, jihadist groups have isolated local populations by imposing strict Islamic codes, carrying out public executions and clashing with rebel groups.
Lebanon is expressing some worry too.
Posted in Middle East, religion, Syria, war
Tagged Middle East, religion, religious war, sectarian war, Shia Islam, Sunni Islam, Syria, Turkey
This is pretty big news. It’s also very good news.
AMMAN—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan spoke by telephone Friday, after a prolonged effort by President Barack Obama and his aides to overcome a deep chill that had settled into the relationship between Israel and Turkey.
Despite being a majority-Muslim country, Turkey had a cooperative relationship with Israel for years. But it soured in 2010 . . . .due primarily to the Israeli raid on a Turkish-registered vessel carrying activists who said they were trying to take aid supplies to Gaza. Nine Turkish citizens were killed in the raid.
. . . Netanyahu apologized to Erdogan during their conversation Friday and acknowledged “operational mistakes” during the raid. Erdogan accepted the apology . . .
The Israeli government confirmed the apology in a statement and said the two leaders also agreed to normalize relations by dispatching ambassadors again and, on Turkey’s part, cancelling legal charges against Israeli forces.
Details are here about Israel’s 2010 raid on the flotilla, which was delivering relief supplies to Gaza. Nine of the activists aboard were killed.
I posted this morning about Turkey’s military movement into Northern Iraq which was followed today by Obama’s abrupt announcement that all US troops (not just combat troops) would be out of Iraq by the end of this year (although this is always a bit confusing since the Embassy will have 16,000 personnel).
And now, it seems that we closed the last US norther base in Iraq yesterday.
U.S. shutters northern HQ in Iraq
BAGHDAD — The U.S. military closed the second of its three regional headquarters in Iraq on Thursday, redeploying 750 soldiers, consolidating command of nationwide operations under a single Army unit and maintaining a rapid pace of withdrawal 10 weeks before the expiration of its security agreement with Baghdad.
I doubt very much that these are unrelated events. I just had the news on and it’s all chitterjaberchatter about the troop withdrawal announcement. But I haven’t heard anything about the Turkish troops. But the story in the Washington Post notes that:
As the U.S. military carried out its deactivation ceremony, 10,000 Turkish soldiers engaged in a ground offensive against Kurdish rebels who had attacked border towns Wednesday, the Turkish military said.
Remember “Kurdistan:, that region spanning northern Iraq and eastern Turkey that has. for decades, sought independence? Iraq might have allowed it to happen were it not for a dispute over Tikrit, an important oil city. But Turkey was never going to allow it to happen.
I was just visiting my friend Mac at Talk and Politics, and guess what?
After the Kurdish PKK killed 26 Turkish security forces this week – Turkey has now launched a big military operation into Northern Iraq with 22 battalions with air support.
For the U.S., I think this is going to be ‘rock and hard place’. Our presence there, despite the drawdown of combat troops, remains murky. From wikipedia:
In a speech at the Oval Office on 31 August 2010 Obama declared “the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country.” Beginning September 1, 2010, the American operational name for its involvement in Iraq changed from “Operation Iraqi Freedom” to “Operation New Dawn.” The remaining 50,000 U.S. troops are now designated as “advise and assist brigades” assigned to non-combat operations while retaining the ability to revert to combat operations as necessary.
UPDATE: Obama just announced that all US troops, not just combat troops, will be out of Iraq by the end of this year. That’s really interesting.