“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Troops Mass in Southern Turkey

It sure does look like things are going to get very interesting in the next few months. This and the previous two posts pose an important question:

Is the US military ready?

Turkey boosts troops at Iraqi border: sources
Paul de Bendern, Reuters
Published: Friday, July 13, 2007
DIYARBAKIR, Turkey -- Turkey's army has boosted troop levels in the restive southeast to more than 200,000, most of them stationed along the border with Iraq, security sources told Reuters Friday.

Those sources, who declined to be named, said the unusually large buildup, which includes tanks, heavy artillery and aircraft, was part of a security crackdown on Kurdish rebels hiding in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates dismissed the estimate of 200,000 troops, saying it was too high.

"I have not seen anything that would indicate there are numbers of Turkey's soldiers along the border of that size," Gates told reporters in Washington.
The Pentagon has disputed reports of increased Turkish troop levels for days. The top U.S. general, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace, said Turkey has the capability to fight the rebels inside Iraq without boosting troop levels.
"The truth of the matter is that the Turkish armed forces on their side of the border have always had sufficient forces to be able to take actions without having to be reinforced," Pace said.
NATO-member Turkey has refused to rule out a possible cross-border operation to crush up to 4,000 Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels believed to be based in mountains in northern Iraq, despite opposition from Washington and Baghdad.
The military General Staff in Ankara was not immediately available for comment on troop numbers. It usually does not release such figures.


  1. No doug, an oil crunch is the worse possible new for the US, as far as the prospect of divided Government, here in the US goes. The Democrats cannot be counted to abandon their base, their programs and "law enforcement", as have the Republicans over the past six years.

    A real "oil crunch" would guarantee a Dem victory in '08.

    The Pakistani Army was ineffective against their cousins, in the past.
    Today they will try to "calm" the Terror-tories, not revamp them.

    The Turks, hard to say what they will do, as their elections near. I'd tend to think the 140,000 is more resonable than the 200,000 number, but not based on any hard data.

    The Russians are going to put a lot of pressure on the Europeans, as has been their track through the ages. Ever since Peter the Great, anyway.

    We're gonna party like it's 1999!

  2. BAGHDAD - Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Saturday that the Iraqi army and police are capable of keeping security in the country when American troops leave "any time they want," though he acknowledged the forces need further weapons and training.

  3. Mr Maliki will not allow the capabilities of his Forces to be the reason the US won't leave.

    He judges them adequate, only the US does not. Mr Maliki's security concerns not the same as the US's

    But don't stop the Carnival, do not close the money tap. Mr Maliki straddles the fence, for cash and prizes.

    His enemeies are not the US's enemies, The CIA Director, Air Force General Hadley, made that clear in his testimony to Congress.

  4. " I looked down and shouted Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna."

    But George had no cheese, nor wine.
    Only ideology.

    He got cut.

  5. Ixnay on the Ishkray:

    In a statement read to the court, Harrison described tasting blood in his mouth as he lay on his back upstairs in his home, and hearing his lung deflate when Abrams plunged the knife into his chest. "There was a time during this violent struggle that I truly believed I was dying," he said.

    Harrison spotted the knife and the stone sword; a "personal memory" of another incident - which he did not specify - flashed through his mind. He said: "I made the decision to shout back at him to distract him.

    I looked down and shouted Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna."

    The tactic did not work and the intruder advanced up the stairs. Knowing that his wife and mother-in-law were in the house Harrison decided to fight back. Armed only with the "element of surprise" he lunged at Abrams.

    "My first instinct was to grab for the knife," Harrison said.

    "We fell to the floor," he continued. "I was fending off blows with my hands. He was on top of me and stabbing down at my upper body."

    Mrs Harrison came out and began hitting Abrams with a small brass poker. The intruder chased her and grabbed her by the throat.

    Harrison said he staggered after his wife and Abrams, and at one point the three of them fell into a "meditation area" with cushions scattered on the floor.

    Harrison said: "I felt exhausted and could feel the strength draining from me. I vividly remember a deliberate thrust to my chest. I could hear my lung exhaling and had blood in my mouth. I believed I had been fatally stabbed." The wound, one of five, caused the lung to collapse and left Harrison with breathing difficulties. His wife suffered head cuts and bruises.

    In the dock Abrams looked very different to the figure who had confronted the pop star and his wife on that night.

    His blond hair was cut short and he wore a smart black pinstripe suit, white shirt, pink tie and round spectacles.

  6. Even the Kurds have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, even though it is already proving that one may not have their cake and eat it too - violence has been inching closer to Kirkuk in recent weeks. Nevertheless, the peshmerga are probably confident they can inflict serious pain in Shi'ite and Sunni neighbourhoods should the Kurdish territories be besieged. By espousing the continuation of federal autonomy within the political framework of a fragile Iraqi state, the Kurds can play upon the sympathies of both the international community and the US. An independent Kurdistan that is potentially as militarily robust and amenable to US interests in the region as Israel would unquestionably ruffle feathers in Tehran and Ankara. Staying in Iraq allows the Kurds to play the 'violation of sovereignty' card should Turkey attempt to increase the intensity of incursive anti-PKK operations into Kurdistan. Already, Iran is rumoured to be collaborating with Turkish authorities on this issue.

    austin's third prediction that Turkey might actually attempt to absorb Iraqi Kurdistan to end the war with the PKK is a valid one, but if only Ankara seriously considers that territorial expansion that would inevitably result in an internal civil war with Iraqi Kurds within Greater Turkey is worth sacrificing EU membership and relations with Europe and the US.

    Defence Against the Dark Arts

  7. NATO-member Turkey has refused to rule out a possible cross-border operation to crush up to 4,000 Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels believed to be based in mountains in northern Iraq, despite opposition from Washington and Baghdad.

    What about 'support from Tehran'? How much does that weigh against the opposition from Washington and Baghdad? The latter is still suspected to be the metaphorical mouthpiece of the former, so pressure isn't doubled.

    The mullahs and Erdogan have a common adversary, one which may possibly be expansionist and without doubt militarily potent enough to challenge the Turkish forces and annihilate Iranian troops.

  8. Two GOP Senators Defy Bush On Iraq
    Warner, Lugar Propose Troop Redeployment

    By Shailagh Murray and Robin Wright
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Saturday, July 14, 2007; Page A01

    The Republican revolt against President Bush's war strategy accelerated yesterday as two of the party's most respected voices on national security proposed legislation envisioning a major realignment of U.S. troops in Iraq starting as early as Jan. 1.

    Defying Bush even as his team fanned out to press Congress for more time, Sens. John W. Warner (Va.) and Richard G. Lugar (Ind.) unveiled a measure requiring the White House to begin drawing up plans to redeploy U.S. forces from frontline combat to border security and counterterrorism. But the legislation would not force Bush to implement the plans at this point.

    The opportunity for Mr Bush to "get in front" of the Peace Train is slipping away.
    As is the victory option. So that no matter what, we will leave with the odor of defeat hanging in the air.
    To have lost what could have been easily achieved, with a little "vision".
    And a little Daring.

  9. ... without doubt militarily potent enough to challenge the Turkish forces and annihilate Iranian troops.

    What adversary would that be, harrison, the US?
    The few PKK villages would fold in a minute, as would the peshmerga against an Army. Whether Turkish, Iranian or US.
    The Iranians ran atillery fire missions into Kurdistan, four, five months ago, with no retaliation by the Kurds, the Iraqi or the US.

    The Iranians were far from annihilated, they "won" in as much as there was no military response to the Iranian aggression, or self-defense.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. But Bush aides acknowledged that they failed to pressure the Iraqi parliament to remain in session in August to advance long-stalled legislation deemed crucial to political reconciliation. "My understanding is at this juncture they're going to take August off, but, you know, they may change their minds," said White House press secretary Tony Snow. He added sympathetically: "You know, it's 130 degrees in Baghdad in August."

    So Tony says it is 130 degrees in Baghdad, so the Iraqi are justified in leaving, but not the US troops.

    His BS is getting thin, hard to spin Iraqi prioritities as matching ours, for much longer.

  12. Lugar and Warner carry particular weight as two of the party's leading authorities on national security. Until Democrats took over in January, Lugar was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and Warner was chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

  13. Force is useless unless you plan to use it - perhaps the Kurds haven't had the chance or made any decision to retaliate against the Iranians. But does that necessarily suggest that Kurdistan is incapable of standing up to Iran should the need arise?

    "Should the need arise" is of course entirely perceived by the Kurds themselves. They are now more interested in minding their own business than to drag the mullahs into this predicament that has till now left Kurdistan more or less unscathed.

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. The Kurds, on their own, with out armor, without air, have a light infantry militia.
    They have no heavy guns.
    They wouldn't hold for a week, against a real Army on the advance.

    The Turks have a different COIN doctrine than does the US. The Turks tend to raze the earth, historicly.

    Without US support, in the form of the "No Fly Zone" they could not have even maintained their limited autonomy during the post Gulf War era, against Saddam.
    The situation in Kirkurk, under Saddam, is proof positive of that.

  16. Hi Harrison,

    I recommend to any and all to take a look at some of the travel posts at his blog site, Possum Bistro .

    back on topic, Turkey annexing Kurdistan would come with a very high price. I think it more likely that they could be tempted to make a warning attack and withdraw, with future options left open.

  17. Which there is ample historical precedent for, duece.

    If the Turks were to wait for Syria to act in Lebanon, the US would turn it's attention to there, letting the the Turks do an "in and out" in Kurdistan.

    Or the Turks move first, with the Syrians then using the cover of that "preemptive strike" to claim the same right in Lebanon and the Golan.

    In either case the US claims of over stretch and lack of resolve in Iraq will be a quickening agent to regional conflict.

  18. There is not much residual "Awe" left over in Damascus or Anakara, from Baghdad '03.

  19. ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Associated Press) -- Islamic militants launched a deadly suicide attack, detonated a roadside bomb and fired rockets on Saturday as thousands of Pakistani troops deployed to the northwestern frontier to thwart the launch of a holy war, officials said.

    At least 24 soldiers were killed in the suicide attack on a military convoy, an army spokesman said. The escalating violence along the rugged Afghanistan border, a haven for local and foreign extremists, follows the government's bloody attack on Islamabad's Red Mosque which sparked calls for revenge from radical groups.

    "With help from local tribal elders, we are trying to ensure that militants lay down their arms and stop issuing calls for jihad against the government," a senior military official said

  20. Turkey is part of NATO. As such, aren't there specific prohibitions against the type of action the Turks are contemplating?

  21. No, the Turks have the same NATO rights and obligations as the US. NATO membership did not negate US rights to premptive defense against Iraq, it will not deter Turkey, from defending itself against terrorists that all parties agree are based in Iraq, either.

    If the host country or the responsible party in the host country fails tp perform in suppling the neighbors an expected international security norm.

    Just as many here have proposed striking at Iran, for its purported actions in Iraq.

  22. Iraq is a US/NATO/UN protectorate. A military invasion of Iraq is a direct challenge to the US, to NATO, and to the UN.

  23. mat makes a good point. it is one thing to deny access to your own country as the Turks did to the 4th ID. It is quite another to attack a country where the US is fighting to protect a fledgling government.

    Maybe Rove and Cheney put the Turks up to it so that Bush can say we have to stay so that foreign troops stay out. Maybe the Turks are signalng they do not want the US to go out. Maybe someone should get the Turks on the phone and say, "Whats up?"

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. They have, the Turks have made their case, the US has refused to shut the PKK down.

    We do not have the resources, they are busy in Baghdad and Fallujah.
    It falls on US to defend the Turks or the Turks to defend themselves.

    It is another indication of the failure of US Policy in Iraq that it has even come to this.

    Just as the Iranian Quds Force is not an extention of the Iranian Government, the PKK is not an extention of the Iraqi

  27. Re: Doug's Link

    Guys, thanks in large part to Dubya's pushing ethanol since 2001, we (the world) will replace a large chunk (over half) of that lost fossil fuel surplus with biofuels, and biomass over the next couple of years. It will get better from there.

    It's starting to look like we got on this developing problem just in time.

    Again; whatever else he's done wrong, or, at least, cockamamie, he got this one right.

  28. Captured U.S Origin Weapons Increased the Tensions Between Turkey, Iraq and US

    Friday , 13 July 2007

    On Wednesday the Turkish Ambassador in Washington, Nabi Sensoy, stated that the PKK terrorist organization has weapons of U.S. origin, but he suggested that he does not believe the weapons were given to the PKK militias directly by the U.S.. Mr. Sensoy added that the weapons may be coming from the supplies provided by the U.S. military to the Iraqi government.

    Mr. Sensoy also emphasized that Turkey had demanded that Washington use its influence on the Iraqi Kurds to end their support to for PKK activities in the region and to force Barzani and his supporters to recognize the PKK as a terrorist organization and lay the legal groundwork for measures to be taken against the PKK in the North of Iraq.
    Turkish Ambassador Sensoy said that the Turkish nation does not have any more patience on this issue and the weapons found on the captured PKK terrorists indicate that the US and Iraqi officials are “not doing enough” to prevent PKK attacks . As a result, Turkey reserves the right to carry out military action against the PKK. “Those who help the PKK terrorists share their goals,” Nabi Sensoy said.

    We are either with the PKK or with the Turks.

    Just as Mr Bush told the World, they are with US or against US, no room for equivication, when it comes to TERRORISTS.
    As Mr Bush said:

    My hope is that all nations will heed our call, and eliminate the terrorist parasites who threaten their countries and our own. Many nations are acting forcefully. ... (Applause.)

    But some governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake about it: If they do not act, America (or Turkey) will. (Applause.)

  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

  30. What's acceptable for the Goose, wins hands down for the gander.

  31. As the USA grows ever more timid in the face of terrorism, let US appauld those that take forceful action against international terrorists.

  32. Good points DR.....sometimes we forget our own words and when someone says them back to us, it can create quite a dilemma, facts being the pesky things that they are.

  33. When it is Iranian weapons killing US or British troops we call for offenxive action against the miscreants in Iran, Viktor on the supply lines, others on the logistical tail in Iran.

    When US weapons kill Turks we wonder why they are so aggresive and what it will take to calm the Turks down. The are such excitable boys.

  34. This comment has been removed by the author.

  35. "There is not much residual "Awe" left over in Damascus or Anakara, from Baghdad '03. "
    No one has an unlimited reservoir of
    Awe Shiites!
    in them.

  36. FOX News had a feature on Big John McCain, now running for President of New Hampshire.

  37. Multi-National Corps – Iraq
    Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory
    APO AE 09342

    RELEASE No. 20070714-07
    July 12, 2007

    Iraqi Army and Coalition Forces kill insurgent cell commander in Baghdad
    Multi-National Corps – Iraq PAO

    BAGHDAD – Iraqi Army and Coalition Forces killed a rogue Jaysh Al-Mahdi Special Group cell commander July 11 during an intelligence driven operation in eastern Baghdad.

    Iraqi Army and Coalition Forces entered the residence to detain Said Jaffer for questioning. When the insurgent commander brandished a pistol, the team verbally instructed him in Arabic to drop his weapon. However, Jaffer refused to comply and the team engaged the insurgent with well-aimed and proportional fire.

    The high-level rogue JAM leader has a history of terrorizing the New Baghdad area by extorting money, kidnapping and carrying out extra-judicial killings on innocent citizens, who resisted his criminal influence in their neighborhoods.

    As a commander of more than 120 fighters, his cell is responsible for engaging military and police forces with small arms fire and emplacing explosively formed projectiles along travel routes. The lethal roadside device has been the cause of many Iraqi and Coalition deaths.

    Intelligence shows a clear link to his group partnering with outside Persian extremists, whose goal is to destroy the legitimate government of Iraq and create instability in the region.

    Coalition Forces served as advisors during the operations. No Iraqi or Coalition Forces members were injured during the operation.

    Here is a written example of the military mindset we are encouraging.
    Intelligence shows a clear link to his group partnering with outside Persian extremists,

    Not Iranian, but the Sunni discription, Persian. Same way the 1920 Brigades once and future terrorist that Mr Yon interviewed describes the government of Mr Maliki. Persians.

    Reconciliation is in the air, by September, magic September.

    Then imagine this release, from Ankara
    "... Intelligence shows a clear link to his group partnering with outside Iraqi extremists, whose goal is to destroy the legitimate government of Turkey and create instability in the region. ..."

  38. LONDON (Associated Press) -- Britain's "special relationship" with the United States could be cooling, as a senior government official said that new Prime Minister Gordon Brown and President Bush would not be "joined at the hip."

    But Britain's new foreign secretary dismissed talk that the relationship had changed.

    Lord Malloch Brown _ a Foreign Office minister and former deputy secretary-general of the United Nations _ said in a Daily Telegraph interview published Saturday that Britain needs a more "impartial" foreign policy.

    "You need to build coalitions which are lateral, which go beyond the bilateral blinkers of the normal partners," Malloch Brown told the Telegraph. "My hope is that foreign policy will become much more impartial."

  39. But one of his top aides, Hassan al-Suneid, rankled at the assessment, saying the U.S. was treating Iraq like “an experiment in an American laboratory.” He sharply criticised the U.S. military, saying it was committing human rights violations, embarassing the Iraqi government with its tactics and cooperating with “gangs of killers” in its campaign against al-Qaida in Iraq.

    Al-Suneid’s comments were a rare show of frustration toward the Americans from within al-Maliki’s inner circle as the prime minister struggles to overcome deep divisions between Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish members of his coalition and enact the American-drawn list of benchmarks.
    ‘The situation looks as if it is an experiment’
    Al-Suneid, a Shiite lawmaker close to al-Maliki, bristled at the pressure. He called Thursday’s report “objective,” but added, “this bothers us a lot that the situation looks as if it is an experiment in an American laboratory (judging) whether we succeed or fail.”

    He also told The Associated Press that al-Maliki has problems with the top U.S. commander Gen. David Petraeus, who works along a “purely American vision.”

    He criticized U.S. overtures to Sunni groups in Anbar and Diyala, encouraging former insurgents to join the fight against al-Qaida in Iraq. “These are gangs of killers,” he said.

  40. “There are disagreements that the strategy that Petraeus is following might succeed in confronting al-Qaida in the early period but it will leave Iraq an armed nation, an armed society and militias,” said al-Suneid.

    He said that the U.S. authorities have embarrassed al-Maliki’ government through acts such as constructing a wall around Baghdad’s Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah and repeated raids on suspected Shiite militiamen in the capital’s eastern slum of Sadr City. He said the U.S. use of airstrikes to hit suspected insurgent positions also kills civilians.

    “This embarrasses the government in front of its people,” he said, calling the civilian deaths a “human rights violation.”

  41. The elected leadership, those chosen by the purple fingers of democracy say the new US COIN Policy: ... will leave Iraq an armed nation, an armed society and militias

  42. After mearly 5,000 miles overevery kind of ground, a two car two fatality accident happens 30 seconds ahead of us, 45 miles from home. Keep those seat belts locked, and drive defensively, ladies and gentlemen.

    For my money, Laramie, Wyoming and Bemidji, Minnesota take top honors. Lots of beatiful country out there. There are pelicans in Montana--the American White Pelican--was news to me.

    To my eye the crops looked good all through the mid west. The best courthouses in America I think are in Indiana--really beautiful some of them, like those small counties were all having a competition to see you could come up with the most beautiful, classic style courthouse. We thought we should take a year, and go all through Indiana, and make a book out of the courthouses. Might even sell.

    I'm beat. Has been fun reading you guys and girls on the road when I could.

  43. Damn, always a day late and a dollar short, that's my life. Courthouses of Indiana

  44. Think the Great Salt Lake has Seagulls, doesn't it, AlBobAl?

  45. We saw some of the blades for These Fellows heading down the highway on semis in N. Dakota and Minnesota. Massive blades, impressive.