(This essay shows just how important the Kurds are when comes to stabilizing that part of the Middle East. Promoted at 7:15 Pacific (10:15 Eastern) promoted by ekhornbeck – promoted by mishima)
Joseph Ralston: the former Nato Supreme Commander and Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was supposed to prevent a Turkish invasion of Iraq. As I noted in my preceding diaries on Ralston, here and here, Bush appointed Ralston one year to prevent the building crisis threating to engulf the region.
Neo-cons are freaking because they know that Bush support for PKK terror is actually making it harder for the US to attack Syria and Iran…
Things were different this time last year…
NYT, October 2006…After a Kurdish group claimed responsibility for a series of recent bombings in Turkey that killed three civilians and injured many others, the United States appointed a retired Air Force general and former NATO commander, Joseph Ralston, to work with Turkish authorities. General Ralston will be responsible for coordinating American antiterrorist efforts with Iraq and Turkey, both of which have sizable Kurdish minorities – and minorities within those minorities who have resorted to terror.
Problem was General Ralston had a tiny little conflict of interest. Two reporters as Harper’s noticed:
…Three months ago, the Bush Administration appointed retired Air Force General Joseph Ralston to be U.S. “Special Envoy for Countering the PKK,” or Kurdistan Workers Party. Ralston’s job, said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, was to work with the governments in Ankara and Baghdad “to eliminate the terrorist threat of the PKK and other terrorist groups operating in northern Iraq and across the Turkey-Iraq border.” But it appears that Ralston is representing the interests of the shareholders of Lockheed Martin rather than the interests of the American people.
At the time, it was not clear why Ralston was chosen for the post. As a former supreme allied commander for NATO and vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he would appear overqualified for the job.
Then came the mid-September announcement (just weeks after Ralston’s appointment) that Turkey would be purchasing thirty new F-16’s from Lockheed Martin. … A deal between Lockheed and Turkey would be worth as much as $10 billion…On August 11 of this year, seventeen days before he was named Special Envoy, Ralston was appointed to The Cohen Group team that lobbies for Lockheed.
However over-qualified the former NATO Supreme Commander may have been to end PKK activities in Northern Iraq, Joe Ralston’s seat on the Lockheed board made him the ideal candidate to lobby on behalf of the company.
The Wheels Start to Come of Big-time.
Time running out on Kurdish rebels in Iraq, Turkey tells US
Publication time: 23 December 2006, 12:53
Turkey wants the United States to take concrete steps against Iraq-based separatist Kurdish rebels, a special Turkish envoy said, warning that time was running out for Ankara to see substantial progress in eliminating the threat posed by the militants.
Retired general Edip Baser, Ankara’s coordinator with Washington in the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), said he would discuss “priority concrete steps” with his US counterpart, retired general Joseph W. Ralston, when they meet in January…
There could be a “parting of ways” if the United States rejects measures that Turkey believes should be in place against the rebels, Baser said.
Six months later Baser had been fired. Neo-Cons Panic
NY Sun, June 7, 2007 … the director of the Turkish research program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Soner Cagaptay, estimates that there are now 250,000 soldiers, most of whom have gathered in the last four weeks, massed at the Qandil mountain range on the border with northern Iraq. Those troops, according to Mr. Cagaptay, include heavy artillery and tanks, the most significant troop buildup by the Turks since they nearly invaded Syria in 1998…
Even in the teeth of an imminent Turkish attack on Iraq, Bushco and their Iraqi proxies were still tap-dancing. Eli Lake in the same NY Sun piece begged them to do something:
An Iraqi official who spoke on condition of anonymity explained the delicate American diplomacy as follows: “The Americans want the Kurds to make their lives easier. They need the Kurdish government to show they are willing to do something to tackle terrorism in the north. They are asking for them to be creative. They don’t expect them to go after every cell, but maybe alert Turkey of a threat, act on intelligence, arrest some people, make an effort.”
Turkey had 250 thousand troops on the border in June this year and the Iraqis were talking about ‘arresting some people’. Talk about disconnect. Meanwhile, Ralston discreetly slipped back to Alaska. And while Ralston had been busy pitching for Lockheed instead of ending PKK attacks, Bush had been promoting PKK/PJAK terror in Iran.
Bush’s bellicose saber-rattling predictably drove Syria to seek regional allies. In 1998, Turkey was ready to invade Syria, not Iraq, over the PKK. In 2004 Syria pledged to work with Turkey against the PKK and signed a number of agreements with Turkey. Syria, Turkey and Iran are now working closely together with Russia nodding in approval.
Iran is dangling the ultimate carrot: nuclear technology in front of Turkey. Bush’s feckless indifference to Turkey’s demand that the US end PKK activities in Iraq have created a monumental diplomatic crisis for the US.
MSM outlets fail to grasp how Bush torture and terror continues to transform the region. The Ralston appointment was an un-mitigated disaster; and the only media outlets willing to mention Ralston are neo-cons who fear the new Syria, Turkey, Iran alliance will make it impossible to launch a fresh war. The MSM is completely asleep. What will it take to wake them up?
Indeed the entire fiction that Iran is trying to destabilize Iraq hinges on keeping Turkey out of Northern Iraq. These efforts may fail. It’s a nightmare.