27 March 2017
US president Donald J. Trump’s vow to defeat what he terms radical Islamic terrorism forces the United States to maneuver the Middle East and North Africa’s murky world of ever shifting alliances and labyrinth of power struggles within power struggles.
The pitfalls are complex and multiple. They range from differences within the 68-member anti-Islamic State (IS) alliance over what constitutes terrorism, to diverging political priorities, to varying degrees of willingness to tacitly employ jihadists to pursue geopolitical goals. The pitfalls are most evident in Yemen and Syria and involve two long-standing US allies, NATO ally Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
At the heart of US-Turkish differences over the Kurds is the age-old-adage that one man’s terrorist is another man’s liberation fighter. The US has a long history of empathy towards Kurdish cultural and national rights and enabled the emergence of a Kurdish state-in-waiting in northern Iraq. The differences also go to an equally large elephant in the room: the question whether Syria, Yemen, and Iraq will survive as nation states in a post-war era.
That may be the real issue at the core of US-Turkish differences. Many Turks hark back in their suspicion that foreign powers are bent on breaking up the Turkish state to the 1920 Treaty of Sevre that called for a referendum in which Kurds would determine their future.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 28/03/2017