Biden's New Roadmap to The Mideast

Published January 30th, 2021 - 08:33 GMT
Joe Biden (AFP File Photo)
Joe Biden (AFP File Photo)

Having survived the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol Hill, the US made it to the swearing-in ceremony on the 20th, and the inauguration was left behind with much less damage than worried.

With Donald Trump gone from Washington DC, what followed immediately was a torrent of executive orders: In line with the expectations of the segments of society that he represents, Joe Biden, the new president, signed a total of 19 executive orders in his first 48 hours in the office to erase the traces and reverse the effects of the legacy of Donald Trump, who is believed to have disrupted the established state structure of the US.

There are, however, some policies established during the Trump era that could not be overturned by signatures or executive orders. In order to more accurately analyze the routes of the changes in policies, which are indeed very difficult to publicly talk about, we need to follow the map by which the Biden administration made its designations. The first three messages this roadmap delivers to the Middle East are the return to the Iran Nuclear Energy Deal, the two-state solution in Palestine, and the restoration of support to the PKK/YPG terrorist organization in northern Syria.

Those who built careers out of Daesh have returned

The third message, which closely concerns Turkey, has been clarified with the appointments following the message that the US under Biden would expectedly be increasing its presence on the ground against Russia, especially in Libya and Syria. Brett McGurk, who, on Dec. 22, 2018, due to his “deep disagreements” with Trump, had resigned from his position as Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (Daesh), has returned to the stage on the new president’s team as the National Security Council’s coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa. Another critical appointment was made to the Department of Defense. Lloyd Austin, who had commanded US troops in Iraq in 2010-2011 and went on to become the head of the US Central Command (CENTCOM) in 2013, became the new Secretary of Defense. Terrorist organization Daesh, interestingly enough, was able to capture the city of Mosul during Austin’s tenure as head of CENTCOM. When it came to fighting against Daesh, Austin played a significant role in the arming and supporting of the PKK/YPG terrorist organization as well, instead of the groups opposed to the regime in Syria. Austin retired and left CENTCOM in 2016 at a time when the terrorist Daesh was carrying out suicide attacks in Istanbul, Brussels, and Baghdad, and the Iraqi army was fighting to take back Al-Fallujah from the hands of Daesh, who had been holding the city since 2014.

It was not only civilian and military bureaucrats who supported the PKK/YPG that have made a comeback with Biden’s presidency; Daesh also jumped out of its grave and resurfaced in Baghdad. The terrorist organization had carried out its last suicide attack in the Iraqi capital in January 2018 in Baghdad’s al-Tayaran Square, where two suicide bombers killed 35 people and wounded more than 90. Daesh reappeared in Baghdad three years later; this time, only one day after Biden took office. Similarly, two bombers targeted the al-Tayaran Square. Detonating the bombs they had on themselves, the terrorists took 32 lives this time, injuring 110.

The magical date: January 21

This attack on Jan. 21 was not the only abnormal development in the region. On the same day, it was reported that a large US military convoy crossed the al-Waleed border between Iraq and Syria. It was observed that the US convoy crossing into the al-Hasakah region of Syria was carrying large quantities of weapons, ammunition and logistic equipment. The convoy of 40 trucks and armored vehicles was also accompanied by helicopters.

The unusual developments in the region continued on Jan. 22. Convoys carrying logistic equipment to the Global Coalition Forces were targeted a total of six times with hand-made explosives placed on the roadside; five times in different locations in the south of Baghdad and once near Tikrit in the north of Baghdad. Ashab al-Kahf, an Iranian-backed paramilitary group, claimed responsibility for the attacks. The group announced in a statement that the attacks had been carried out as retaliation for the terrorist act of Daesh in Baghdad, emphasizing that Daesh had been established and operated by the US. Daesh killed 10 people on Jan. 23, targeting one of the headquarters of the Shia militia force Hashd al-Sha’bi (Popular Mobilization Forces) in the Saladin province. It was thus signaled that new steps would be taken to increase the tension with Iran in the Iraqi field. While the tensions over the re-emergence of the long-gone terrorist organization in Baghdad were quickly rising, the official Twitter account of CJTF–OIR (Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve) posted a message about the delivery of million-dollar-worth cross-country vehicles to the Iraqi security forces as part of the Operation Inherent Resolve carried out by the multinational force fighting against Daesh in Iraq. When McGurk actively begins his duty, we will most probably have a better picture of why such extensive mobilization is required against an allegedly “finished” terrorist organization.

A return to pre-Obama era

All of these developments have given rise to concern in the regional capitals, particularly in Ankara, in that they signal a return to Obama-era policies, especially on the Syrian issue. However, if we take a closer look at the historical process, we can see that the point of return --already going farther back than the Obama term-- is to the George W. Bush-era, and even to the years of Father Bush (George H. W. Bush). The history of US assistance to the terrorist PKK with weapons, ammunition, and medical supplies (even in the form of treating wounded terrorists) dates back to the post-Gulf War period when the air force unit known as the Poised Hammer was deployed in the region. Chief Commander of the Turkish Gendarmerie at the time, General Esref Bitlis, in a letter to then-president Turgut Ozal on March 22, 1992, expressed doubts as to whether Poised Hammer was operating in coordination with the PKK.

The US response to this letter was harassment by US fighter jets against General Bitlis’ helicopter flying towards the Iraqi city of Saladin on Dec. 17, 1992, forcing it to land. Despite this open intimidation, General Bitlis publicly announced on Feb. 7, 1993, that the US air elements taking off from the Incirlik Air Base had been carrying supplies to the PKK.

Ten days after he made this revelation, Gen. Bitlis was martyred in Ankara as the plane he was on crashed shortly after the take-off. Let us remember here that Brigadier General Bahtiyar Aydin and Colonel Ridvan Ozden, who were part of Bitlis’ team and had access to the same details as Bitlis, were also martyred, respectively, in Lice and Mardin in 1993 and 1995, in unprecedentedly sophisticated attacks attributed to the PKK.


Brett McGurk on stage since 2004

This network of relations between the US and the PKK, which became public in the 1990s, took on a new dimension with the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Brett McGurk’s name was heard in the area for the first time eight months after the invasion of Iraq. McGurk took office in Iraq as a consultant for the provisional administration established by the occupying forces, the Coalition Provisional Authority, and the US Embassy in Baghdad. He was promoted to the National Security Council in 2005 and served as the director for Iraq. In the same year, then-US President George W. Bush started to threaten the Assad regime, pointing to Syria as the culprit behind the attacks on the US army in Iraq. In 2009, when George W. Bush turned over the White House to Barack Obama, McGurk was one of the bureaucrats who retained their positions. However, the short break he took from state service by his own choice lasted until 2010. He was then tasked with personally overseeing the efforts to establish a government in Iraq. In 2013, he reached a new level in his career. He was named Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs of the Department of State.

When Daesh captured Mosul in June 2014, McGurk was in Erbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). In September 2014, McGurk was appointed as Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter Daesh and became a Special Representative to the US president. In his preference to back and arm the PKK/YPG, instead of the Syrian opposition, McGurk became the architect of the terror corridor created along the Turkish border. His duty continued until he came to loggerheads with Trump, who withdrew the US support from the terrorist organization by altering the policy of the White House.

McGurk turned a relentless adversary of Trump as he resigned his position on Dec. 22, 2018. Unheard-of for any other resigned bureaucrat, McGurk used his Twitter account, until the presidential elections on Nov. 3, 2020, to voice support for the PKK/YPG terrorist organization and to condemn Trump’s Syria policy, as well as the propaganda war against Turkey. With the Biden administration, McGurk was duly recompensed for his efforts with his new position, where he will be involved in conflict zones both in the Middle East and North Africa; Syria, Iraq, and Libya, as well as another major potential conflict zone, Iran.

Are false flag operations coming?

It is a must to concentrate on the perpetrators of Daesh’s attack in Baghdad on Jan. 21 just as carefully as on the side effects that this attack will trigger. In fact, part of the speech made by Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein at the Al-Nahrain Center for Strategic Studies in Baghdad on Jan. 23, Saturday was shared as last-minute information by international agencies. Foreign Minister Hussein announced that they would be making a request to the new US administration to assign new delegations for the Strategic Dialogue process and to continue the US military presence in the country. Considering the past efforts of McGurk and the new Secretary of Defense Austin to create a terror corridor in northern Syria, Hussein’s request can only be seen as a starting point for the goals of the new US administration. In the following days and weeks to come, it would not be too surprising to witness “false flag” operations that would enable the US to increase its military presence in both Iraq and northern Syria.

The most infamous of the false flag operations conducted by the US to justify its plans to occupy certain regions took place in the Gulf of Tonkin, Vietnam, 1964. While the whole world thought that Western imperialism had been purged from Southeast Asia with the French losing the First Indochina War in 1954, the US Army claimed that North Vietnamese torpedo boats had attacked the US Navy unprovoked, and that attack led to direct US involvement in the Vietnam War.

Nevertheless, the Gulf of Tonkin incident immediately sparked a new conflict in the region that would last for the next 10 years. In his statement in the 2003 documentary, The Fog of War, Robert McNamara, who served as US Secretary of State between 1961 and 1968 and was also in office during the Gulf of Tonkin incident, revealed that the attack that allegedly led to the start of the Vietnam War on August 4, 1964, had never happened. McNamara backed up his testimony by his 1995 meeting with General Vo Nguyen Giap, who commanded the Vietnamese forces during the war. Former Secretary of State McNamara said that General Giap had also confirmed that the Gulf of Tonkin incident had never actually occurred.

Who knows, we might as well have the opportunity to learn the true identities of Daesh and Brett McGurk in the 2050s.

Mehmet A. Kanci specializes in Turkish foreign policy 

This article has been adapted from its original source.


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