Friday, April 13, 2007

US-Turkey Alliance on the Way Out

When asked by a local reporter about Mr Barzani and Turkey’s alliance with the US, the general said: "He [Mr Barzani] is at a very low level and I look to the one who enables him to speak so, who enables the division of Iraq, which is the greatest threat to the region."

Do the Americans not understand how serious this is?

For the long term, the key situation in Iraq is the quasi-separatist movements of the Kurds and Badr/Shiites.

The only way the US can keep bases in Iraq is by allying with parties that want to split the country. Even the US expert class does not seem to acknowledge what everyone else in the region sees: The US either actively wants to break up the country or is unwilling to take steps to prevent it.

Turkey does not want this. Iran does not want this. Saudi Arabia does not want this. Iraq's nationalists, who probably are a majority in Iraq - Sadr's Shiites and other nationalist Shiites plus the Sunnis - do not want this.

Nobody in the US, including the experts, is willing to make the following statement:

"We would prefer a unified Iraq that is hostile to the US to a divided Iraq where the US can get temporary advantages by playing behind rivalries".

Everybody in the region except the US is emphatically eager to make that statement.

The US refusal to issue a withdrawal schedule or to commit to a full evacuation of US troops from the country is related to the US not being willing to accept a united Iraq that is hostile to the US.

That makes sense. The United States didn't invade Iraq because of personal animus against Hussein, it invaded because it did not want to tolerate a hostile Iraq.

The problem is that the costs of a non-hostile Iraq are clearer now and the cost is very high. The costs are, at minimum, civil war and increased sectarian violence between Shiites and Sunnis (and not just in Iraq) as well as Kurdish independence and support for Kurdish secessionists in Turkey, Iran and Syria.

The United States, by its actions demonstrates that it is willing to pay those costs. Nobody else in the region except Israel thinks it is worth it.

The US alliance with Saudi Arabia has, as far as I can see, been broken over this issue. Recently there have been none of the anti-Iranian official statements or actions from the Saudis that were routine one or two years ago.

The US alliance with Turkey has reached the point where it has not yet broken but it is not sustainable unless the US changes priorities in Iraq.

By changing priorities I mean the US must admit defeat in its project of attempting to make Iraq non-hostile to US interests by force. The longer the US waits to admit defeat, the more hostile Iraq will be toward US interests when it eventually stabilizes.

As things are going, the alliance with Turkey will not survive until the end of the Bush presidency.


Ziad said...

Interesting discussion. I wish I knew more about internal Turkish politics to rate the odds of your prediction. The popularity of books like "Metal Storm" and a movie where Turkish commandos battle sadistic us troops point to a big change in public sentiment.

But my guess is that while Turkish-U.S. relations will be severely strained, they will survive for lack of a better alternative. Turkey will not be permitted to join Europe. Its choices are a alliance with the U.S. or an alliance with Russia. Though, possible, the latter is a long shot.


Arnold Evans said...

Turkey has always had a relatively anti-Western voting population and a relatively pro-Western military class.

The West is now in the process of losing the military class.

I don't expect to see a formal alliance with Iran but I expect to see greater cooperation. I don't expect to see a formal renunciation of alliances with the West, but I expect to see less cooperation.

Turkey will not join Europe officially. If Turkey does not get comparable benefits from Europe unofficially, I expect it to discuss with Iran and Saudi Arabia a new Middle East arrangement where the US will lose its current favored position, with all three being dealing on a neutral basis between the US, Europe, Russia and China, instead of two of the three favoring the US as today.

Turkey will have made it clear by the end of Bush's presidency through elections and/or official policies that it no longer considers the United States a favored partner.