Sunday, October 18, 2015

Ukraine, Syria, Russia and Turkey

Russia has always tried to pawn off the war in Ukraine as a "civil war". It has been a covert Russian invasion since day 1 with Russian weapons, logistics, commanders and military.  The accidental shooting down of MH17 by a Russian BUK missile likely manned by Russian military specialists is but one incident in many.  The Dutch have released their study of the cause of the downing of MH17 but have left designated any fault as that is not their responsibility.  There is a criminal investigation underway which could lay official blame and name names as early as year-end. The Russian manufacturer of the BUK system also conducted their own "study", contradicting the Dutch study and contradicting their own earlier study. This is for teh coinsuption of teh folks at home and to add confusion on behalf of useful idiots abroad.

There is, however, a "civil war" in Ukraine between those determined to stamp out corruption and put in jail as many corrupt bureaucrats and oligarchs as possible and those determined to prevent that happening.  Unfortunately for Ukraine, President Proroshenko and Prime Minister Yatseniuk, both Yanukovych alumni, seem to fall in the latter group. Since the over throw of Yanukovych a year and a half ago, no one has gone to jail.  Suspects have been allowed to leave the country, several even taking their ill gotten gains with them.

Judges, Prosecutors and Police were thoroughly corrupted during Yanukovych's reign. Until they are completely purged and new people appointed, there will be no real reform.  Cleaning up the entire justice system is being resisted at all levels, consequently nothing is happening and Ukrainians are getting very upset with their government.  EU and America have laid it on the line, either clean it up or else but it remains to be seen how it will shake out.

The war in Eastern Ukraine has fallen off the radar.  The constant shelling by the pro-Russian military has more or less stopped though there are still infiltration attempts by sabotage groups and periodic attacks hoping to draw a Ukrainian response.  Ukraine is off the TV News screens in Russia and even the trolls seem to have gone away though certainly not entirely.  Ukraine as the fuel for Kremlin propaganda in Russia has been replaced by Syria which is Russia's big move, inserting itself fully into the Middle Eastern conflict and essentially telling the USA to stay out of its way.

There is a five minute video (link here) that explains the complexity of the war.

Russia claims it is there to fight ISIS but other than a few sorties, most of their bombing attacks have been against rebels fighting Assad, not against ISIS, though that is not how they sell it at home.  Putin gains several things from this newest adventure. He keeps his popularity at home ramped up in spite of the economy which will soon see ordinary Russians spending up to 50% of their income on food.  He shows the world that Russia is a great power and supports its friends.  He keeps his naval base in the Mediterranean.  He makes America look foolish again.  And he gets a possible say in whose gas will go through a gas pipeline through Syria.

Turkey is on Syria's norther border and millions of refugees fleeing both Assad and ISIS have been flooding through Turkey on their way to the EU.  However the real issue for Turkey is not refugees but Kurds. Kurds are teh world's largest ethnic group without a homeland.  They occupy part of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Turkey's Kurds have been waging a civil war off and on for over 30 years in an attempt to be recognized as "Not Turks" and either gain language and political rights or to separate.  Any move towards independence of Kurds in the other three countries terrifies Turkey and some of their foreign policy is intended to prevent that from happening so much as is possible.  They have warned America not to arm the Syrian Kurds who are the most dependable ally USA has in fighting ISIS.

President (former Prime Minister) Erdogan has become increasingly authoritarian in the past several years. (Turkey has more journalists in jail than any country but China).  Instead of being a figure head, with the PM as the power figure as the Turkish constitution now reads, he wants to amend the constitution to make himself as president all powerful.  For that he needed a super-majority which the Turks denied him in June by voting a moderate Kurdish party over the 10% threshold (it got 13%) needed to enter parliament and robbing Erdogan's party of the extra seats, leaving him with a minority government.  Erdogan was furious and instead of forming a coalition, gave the Turks an opportunity to remedy their "mistake" by calling another election for November 1.

This is where things get dirty.  Erdogan acts in many ways like a mini-Putin.  ISIS hate the Kurds, ("Kurds are not Muslims") so in that sense are allies of Turkey. For several years Erdogan has been trying to make peace with the Kurds but after the June election he suddenly stopped.  In July ISIS suicide bombed a Kurdish rally.  There was immediate suspicion that the ISIS bombers managed to do this because Turkish police and security turned a blind eye. PKK (Kurdish version of the Irish Republican Army) immediately cancelled the truce and killed a couple of Turkish policemen and the civil war was on again.  And on October 10, ISIS struck again at a peace march in Ankara organized by the Kurdish political party.  Whether or not this will work to Erdogan's advantage remains to be seen.  There are calls to outlaw the Kurdish political party which would solve his problem in one fell swoop. 

Thus endeth today's lesson.  Stay tuned.


  1. this is the most intelligent information on this situation I've read yet..thanks..

  2. Thanks for the up[date, Al.
    Not much has changed, but, well, that's life in Ukraine (and elsewhere).


Comments are encouraged. But if you include a commercial link, it will be deleted. If you comment anonymously, please use a name or something to identify yourself. Trolls will be deleted