It was only to be expected. Donald Trump, increasingly isolated and under pressure on the internal front—including from inside the CIA—on account of the impeachment scandal and the crisis engendered by his aggressive tariff policy, is lashing out on the external front with the start of another proxy war, which he has the gall to spin as a withdrawal “from these ridiculous endless wars.” A notorious isolationist and sovereignist, who could boast up to now that he hadn’t started any new wars, but “merely” continued to fight those started by the Democrats’ militarist “humanitarian” ideology before him, is now giving the green light to the Turkish army to invade northern Syria, abandoning the Kurds to their fate, after he previously said he wanted to protect them.
Of course, this is not a direct war. The US has learned its lesson from all the armed conflicts that became more and more burdensome and ended up outsourced and privatized by previous US administrations. No “boots on the ground” then, but a populist “farewell to arms” which is actually a friendly invitation to war offered to Sultan Erdogan to wage his offensive. Now, the Turkish president, whose country has been a reliable economic and logistics support for ISIS—and while the jihadist stronghold of Idlib hasn’t even fallen yet—can wage all-out war against those whom he calls “the Kurdish terrorists,” who are the only ones, together with the Iranian forces and Hezbollah, who fought on the ground to regain their territory from the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
Erdogan has been imprisoning and repressing the Kurdish “terrorists” with armed offensives inside Turkey, and he intends to finally wipe them from the face of the earth in Syria and set up a buffer zone with which to ensure control over ethnic and strategic areas that he believes he is entitled to, putting into question the role of the United Nations in Syria. The UN has been directly involved, in the person of Secretary-General António Guterres, in the difficult but crucial negotiations to write the new Constitution of Syria, which should preserve its territorial unity and at the same time respect the new autonomies—including for the Kurdish forces in Rojava, who are justly fighting to defend their democratic and self-organized confederation for which they have shed much blood.
But now, a scenario of endless war is again in the cards: after Trump’s decision and the hurried exit of the small number of US special forces who were actively defending the Kurds, the latter will continue to fight. Russia’s reaction was to insist that the operation should not “jeopardize the territorial integrity of Syria,” which sounded like a veiled threat, though less so than Trump’s later sinister-sounding tweet: “[I[f Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).” However, it’s difficult to argue that Putin wasn’t aware of this move, especially after all his arms deals with Sultan Erdogan.
It is thus imperative for the Italian government to take a position against this military venture—after all, we have much experience and evidence that the Western-caused disaster of the wars in the Middle East can only result in wholesale destruction, increased instability (the death toll of the Iraqi social revolt, which has fallen out of the headlines, had already reached 100 as of the writing of this article) and escape attempts by desperate refugees, the unwilling protagonists of clashes against the political barriers keeping them from reaching safe ground, an issue which has been, and remains, the central political problem which is affecting Europe’s already short-sighted outlook.
The refugees are also the reason why Erdogan’s Turkey has a handy lever to blackmail Europe: for years now, as a designated “safe country,” it has received €6 billion in funding to keep the desperate people running from our Middle East wars in refugee camps. Now, the European Union seems to be belatedly trying to distance themselves from the (almost joint) announcement by the US and Turkey, stressing that “any sustainable situation will not be reached by military means” and expressing its support for the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. But if the European governments don’t speak out in more explicit terms against this turn, with what legitimacy will they be able to erect even more walls against refugees coming from the war-torn area? And what “innovative security decree” will Italy dare pass to stop the desperate people fleeing from this new attack? Yes, we should indeed “help them in their own country” for once—protect the Syrian Kurds from this new betrayal, of which they are the only victims.
Unfortunately, it’s not just about us not having the courage to speak out clearly—in fact, it gets worse. It turns out that Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte might really end up in the role of Trump’s subservient “Giuseppi”—during the visit to Rome of the US Secretary of State Pompeo this week, Conte delivered a message to Trump saying “yes” to the quick purchase of the infamous and useless F-35 fighter-bombers, “because they help our defense.” It went unmentioned that these are precisely the planes that the Turkish president doesn’t want to buy anymore, and that they will cost a fortune, just as the government is struggling to find the money for VAT cuts and health care. Equally unconvincing was Conte’s partial backpedal in the statements released afterwards from the Palazzo Chigi, trying to reassure the electoral fears of the M5S (which said it had been left in the dark and is now pushing for a revision of the agreement), that “Conte agrees with a renegotiation.”
It looks like the White House’s blackmail goes much further than the tariffs on Parmesan cheese: exploiting our hyper-loyalty to the Atlantic Alliance, it may result in our full acquiescence, in both substance and details, with the new plan for a proxy war in Syria via the army of the Sultan, himself a NATO member. If it does this—whether silently or, even worse, explicitly approving Trump’s plan on Syria while dutifully buying the F-35s—our government will be firmly in the wrong.
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