Against all wisdom and commonsense, Trump has turned around and started partnering with terrorists in Syria. This is certainly bad for Syria but it would also be catastrophic for many parts of the world including Central Asia.
And, USA under Trump would definitely be among the losers.
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Trump is acting like ‘The Foolish Tree Climber.’
Here is the East African tale of ‘The Foolish Tree Climber,’ as rendered into English by Amy Friedman and Meredith Johnson:
Once upon a time, in a land known as Hope and Plenty, there lived a man named Mumanyi, full of knowledge. He was a quiet man who seldom spoke, but when he did, the people gasped in wonder at his wisdom. Everyone admired him, and he was invited to people’s homes to babies’ births, harvests and the trapping of dangerous leopards.
One day a young man named Mutei spotted Mumanyi. “He doesn’t look so very wise,” Mutei said.
“Oh he is,” his friends said. “He knows everything.”
But Mutei was a brash, bold youth, and he believed most of all in himself.
“I know how to carve better than he does,” Mutei said. “I’ll bet he doesn’t know a thing about trees.”
“Careful how you speak,” Mutei’s friends cautioned. “Mumanyi says it is not wise to speak ill of people.”
“What does Mumanyi know!” Mutei said defiantly, as he strode into the woods.
This day he walked through the woods. The sun blazed down, but Mutei did not care. When he spied a nice thick branch, he quickly climbed up the tree, crawled out on the branch he desired and began to chop away with his machete.
Mumanyi passed by. When he saw the boy sitting on the branch he was cutting, he quickly called up to him.
“Mutei,” he called.
“Hello, Mumanyi,” Mutei answered, continuing to chop. He was halfway through the branch, imagining the beautiful carvings he would make with this wood.
“Mutei,” Mumanyi said, standing directly beneath the tree, “you mustn’t cut the branch that you are sitting on.”
Mutei simply laughed. “Everyone thinks you are wise, Mumanyi, and all the praise has gone to your head. What do you know about branches and trees?”
“I do know you must not cut the branch on which you are sitting,” Mumanyi said.
“And why is that?” Mutei laughed.
“Mutei, my friend, if you cut the branch on which you are sitting, you will fall down and break your arms and legs.”
“Ha!” Mutei scoffed. “Tell me, Mumanyi, how many branches have you cut in your life?”
“I’ve never cut a branch,” Mumanyi answered.
“There, so I suspected,” Mutei said. “And I have cut dozens and dozens of branches. Surely I know more than you about cutting branches.”
“Mutei, my friend,” Mumanyi said, “I am certain there are many things you know that I do not, but I know for a fact that if you cut through that branch on which you are sitting, you will fall to the ground.”
Mutei simply laughed. “Other people think you’re wise, Mumanyi, but I know a wise man when I see him, and I do not see any wise men around here.”
Mumanyi shrugged and went on his way. He knew that only fools think they know everything.
Mutei, meanwhile, went on chopping, and sure enough, the minute he chopped through that branch, he fell to the ground and broke his arm and leg.
Tell Me a Story
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Also relevant to the situation is the encapsulated fable of ‘The Woodcutter from Gura’:
A woodcutter from Gura goes to cut wood for his family. As he cuts a branch he is sitting on, a priest warns him that he will fall and die. The woodcutter ignores him. A short time later the branch breaks and he falls.
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Without any thought to the future progression of events, mostly because he is incapable to do so, Trump is siding with a Kurdish terrorist group in Syria.
Mevlut Cavusoglu, the minister of foreign affairs of Turkey, has written an op-ed which was published by The New York Times on 28 January 2018.
Here is the op-ed in full, because it has a number of points directly valid for Central Asia.
America Has Chosen the Wrong Partner
JAN. 28, 2018
ANKARA, Turkey — The United States is bound to the Middle East by interests, but Turkey shares about 800 miles of border with Syria and Iraq alone. In this geography and beyond, Turkey and the United States share the goal of defeating terrorist organizations that threaten our nations. Daesh (or the so-called Islamic State) has been our common enemy, and the victory against the group could not have been possible without Turkey’s active contributions.
Those contributions continue even though the group has been defeated militarily in both Iraq and Syria. The Turkish military was crucial in the liberation of the northern Syrian city of Jarabulus from Daesh in 2016. Turkey detained more than 10,000 members of Daesh and Qaeda affiliates, and deported around 5,800 terrorists while denying entry to more than 4,000 suspicious travelers.
Daesh has lost territorial control in Syria and Iraq, but it still retains the capacity to inflict horrors. Turkish authorities recently carried out operations against Daesh cells and damaged its efforts to reorganize.
American officials have told us that the United States wants to remain engaged and needs boots on the ground in Syria to prevent the remnants of Daesh from regrouping. But fighting Daesh cannot and should not mean that we will not fight other terrorist groups in our region that threaten our country and the security of our citizens.
An impasse has been created between us by the United States’ choice of local partner in this war: a group that the American government itself recognizes as a terrorist organization. The so-called People’s Protection Units, or Y.P.G., is simply the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party terrorist organization by another name.
The groups have adopted different names and developed convoluted structures, but that does not cloak their reality. They are led by the same cadres, train in the same camps, share organizational and military structures, and use the same propaganda tools and financial resources. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., directs the Y.P.G., and the P.K.K.’s suicide bombers are trained in Y.P.G. camps in Syria.
To our dismay, the Y.P.G./P.K.K. terrorists across our borders in Iraq and Syria are using weapons and training provided by the United States. The weapons confiscated by our security forces from P.K.K. terrorists have also been significantly increasing in both numbers and sophistication.
A NATO ally arming a terrorist organization that is attacking another NATO ally is a fundamental breach of everything that NATO stands for. It is a policy anomaly that needs to be corrected.
We have no doubt that the United States will see the damage this policy is inflicting on the credibility of the NATO alliance and correct its policy by putting its allies and long-term interests first again. American reliance on the People’s Protection Units is a self-inflicted error when the United States already has a capable partner in Turkey.
Turkey, however, cannot afford to wait for eventual and inevitable course corrections. Paying lip service to understanding Turkey’s security concerns does not remove those threats and dangers.
In the recent weeks, Turkish authorities have documented an increase in threats posed by the Y.P.G. and Daesh encampments in Syria. Terrorists in the Afrin region in Syria were menacing the lives and property of both the people of the region and Turks along the border.
We had to act, and so Turkey has launched Operation Olive Branch against the terrorists in Afrin.
The operation has a clear objective: to ensure the security of our borders and neutralize the terrorists in Afrin. It is carried out on the basis of international law, in accordance with our right to self-defense. The targets are the terrorists, their shelters, their weapons and related infrastructure. The Turkish Army is acting with utmost precaution to avoid harming civilians.
We have already intensified our humanitarian efforts substantially, setting up camps to help the civilians fleeing Afrin. We are already hosting over three million Syrians, and Turkish humanitarian agencies are helping those who need our support.
Turkey will continue the mission until terrorists are wiped out. Turkey will not consent to the creation of separatist enclaves or terrorist safe havens that threaten its national security and are against the will of the Syrian people.
Turkey has already been active in every political process that seeks a solution to the quagmire in Syria. Maintaining the territorial integrity of Syria is key to the peace efforts. Clearing terrorists means opening space for peace.
We strive for a future that is free of terrorist entities, imploding neighbors, wars and humanitarian calamities in our region. Turkey deserves the respect and support of the United States in this essential fight.
[Mevlut Cavusoglu is Turkey’s minister of foreign affairs.]
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The world, including Central Asia, must add their voice to the concerns of Turkey because shenanigans of Trump know no bounds. Tweeting from his bed with greasy fingers dipped in double cheeseburger, he spews anything that comes to mind, or most likely, what comes to his fingers because mind, even a shriveled mind like Trump’s, doesn’t seem to play much role in a lot of his rants.
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Of course, the op-ed by Cavusoglu has neatly described the flaws in the Trump strategy and the rationale behind the Afrin operation.
Every unbiased mind will give moral support to the ideas of Cavusoglu.
Beyond that, there is the need to look at the vast significance his article has for Central Asia.
At the very start of the article, Cavusoglu points out that “The United States is bound to the Middle East by interests, but Turkey shares about 800 miles of border with Syria and Iraq alone.”
This is the defining argument for decision-makers in Central Asia – While the USA has some real or imaginary interests in Afghanistan, Central Asia is joined by a very long and direct border with the troubled country. Therefore, it stands to logic that Central Asia cannot afford to tow blindly the American policy line for Afghanistan.
This point is so important that it needs to be rephrased and re-emphasized – While the USA and Central Asia may have some common concerns about Afghanistan, the methods for addressing those concerns will differ because of the diktat of geography. Central Asia cannot afford to be a partner of the USA in bloodshed in Afghanistan when peaceful means are available for anyone who sincerely desires peace on the Afghan soil.
Cavusoglu writes, “American officials have told us that the United States wants to remain engaged and needs boots on the ground in Syria to prevent the remnants of Daesh from regrouping. But fighting Daesh cannot and should not mean that we will not fight other terrorist groups in our region that threaten our country and the security of our citizens.”
This is solidly applicable for what is being done in Afghanistan. The names differ but there is the same old strategy at place, from the playbook of a previous era. There is a sense of déjà vu when we register that ISIS (Daesh) is being created systematically by the USA in Afghanistan. A lot of observers including Hamid Karzai, the former president of Afghanistan, have said it without mincing their words. — There was a time in living memory when Uncle Sam created Al-Qaeda.
Cavusoglu points out, “A NATO ally arming a terrorist organization that is attacking another NATO ally is a fundamental breach of everything that NATO stands for. It is a policy anomaly that needs to be corrected.”
This is a wakeup call for both NATO and Central Asia.
If NATO keeps quiet on this and doesn’t distance itself from the American stance, it will entirely smash the remaining credibility of this uneasy alliance.
Central Asia must watch the reaction of NATO. If nothing concrete takes place to reject and dismantle the alliance between the USA and the terrorist Kurds, it would prove that NATO is not a trustworthy partner. — The take home lesson would be: Country-by-country interaction on its own merits – Yes; partnership with NATO as an organization – No.
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As a matter of fact, the strategy of the Trump administration is crystal clear – they are trying to sow the seeds of a Kurdish state right at the doorsteps of Turkey. However, owing to a number of factors including the lines drawn on the map by Churchill, this plan would create lots of bloodshed but remain short of fruition.
Trump, who is arguably the least intellectually gifted person to occupy the While House, would be well advised to consult with his advisors. It is not just Turkey but three other regionally powerful states that would deny the creation of a Kurdish state, by whatever name. And, Russia and China would be their natural allies. /// nCa, 31 January 2018