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15 September 2014


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I am moving my reply to your previous comment in the "Turkey Trot" post to this thread.

ISIL may really be vulnerable to Turkey's visionaries who probably dream to see Istanbul again as the capitol. Huge amounts of funds have been funneled to ISIL by KSA subjects some of whom may also see themselves as the legatees of the Caliphate as purifiers of the corrupted Saudi polity. This sorting-hat process to determine the dominant Caliph will not go without serious internecine bloodshed in a Darwinian conflict.


re: How can we help US "get real" with the new meme and stop wanting to tear around in the briar patch only to be wounded with thousands of thorns?

Defeating the Zionists in Washington DC would be a good start.

no one

Origin, So in your opinion the Islamic State will have membership in NATO via Turkey? This would be truly strange, interesting and paradigm shifting from a western perspective.


No one: If the Turks no longer fear a Russian invasion, why should Turkey be in NATO at all? To get access to top-flight arms? So what. Turkey could never use them successfully against another NATO country--those countries (like Greece) would have similar arms and security guarantees.


What about Iran?

After spending his post-op convalescence being entertained by US double-talk re plans for ISIS, http://goingtotehran.com/hillary-mann-leverett-on-obama-the-islamic-state-and-americas-never-ending-war-in-the-middle-east#comment-58813 Khamenei respectfully declined the invitation to join the US coalition against ISIS. http://news.yahoo.com/iran-rejects-u-bid-coordinate-against-isis-130502716.html

Iran's deputy foreign minister met with his Saudi counterpart in Jeddah. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/26/us-saudi-iran-idUSKBN0GQ1VC20140826

If the Islamic states manage to overcome the religious divides that are real, but that Westerners have attempted to exacerbate, does anyone see the possibility of pan-Islamic solidarity in the region?

In 1995, at the time of the signing of the extension of NPT, at least Egypt & Iran sat at the same table and agreed to the same deal (that was never fulfilled) -- in exchange for their acquiescence to permanent extension of NPT, a conference to discuss a nuclear-free zone in the region, at which Israel's nukes would be on the table, would be convened.

And a few years ago, Erdogan collaborated with Iran (and Brazil) to craft a nuclear deal that Iran agreed to (but Obama's administration/Clinton rejected).

So there are some embers of cooperation between these parties. It may be that the western-led coalition against ISIL is just the galvanizing force required to bring KSA, Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Syria together.

-- no -- Egypt's Sisi is Netanyahu's man. back to the drawing board.


no one

Quite the contrary.

Turkey is on the cusp of having to make an existential decision. It will have to decide whether it exists in the West or exists in Sunni Salafist Islam. It cannot be both. The current trajectory is moving Turkey rapidly out of NATO. If that trajectory continues, NATO will have to make a decision about expulsion.

Also, if the views of members of this Committee like Ishmael Zechariah on the prior "Turkey Trot" thread are correct, the current trajectory will likely lead to a religious civil war. Unless the Sunni Islamists can figure out a way to modify their Takfiri doctrine to allow the minorities to pay a tax and co-exist, civil war seems inevitable.

The future seems to be turbulent for Turkey as Endogen has engaged in a walk across live coals. The tiger he painted on his wall is animating and preparing to bite.



"... does anyone see the possibility of pan-Islamic solidarity in the region?" None at all. As for your foolishness about the West having exacerbated religious differences in the ME, how absurd! The only way you can say that with a straight face is from a base of zero experience of the region. pl


Oh, Col. Lang, I have far less than zero experience in the region; I have a romantic notion of Iran. I hear Iran and think ancient Persia -- not quite the Shah's lavish anniversary celebration - Persia, but what I imagine (fantasize?) is a deeply-embedded Persian sense of poetry, comity, rationality, and history. Cyrus laid a groundwork for Persian getting-along-with-neighbors that is, I think, the equal of what Americans imagine was established by US founders.

I think, or hope, that Iranians have a very deep well to draw upon.

Babak Makkinejad

Turkey is not and will never be a Western country - and therefore there is no existential situation for Turkey.

Your predicate does not obtain.


Origin: Its an existential decision that is a long time coming. When I was in Turkey a decade or so ago, there were a lot of negative feelings about looking towards Europe because they had implemented many European requirements in their economy, unlike say Bulgaria, or some parts of the former Yugoslavia, who ascended while Turkey languished in an endless process.

Meanwhile, the EC is tearing itself apart by austerity (to German benefit), and looking less and less a role model.

I expect rationality will play a minimal role in how the decision plays out.

BTW: I second the colonel on the unparalleled hospitality of the people and quality of the food - even simple things like Cherries or watermelon.


Origin & BM: This statement by Origin encapsulates the problem: "Unless the Sunni Islamists can figure out a way to modify their Takfiri doctrine to allow the minorities to pay a tax and co-exist, civil war seems inevitable."

To my mind, this is the primary challenge of 21st Century: How do you maintain "liberal democracy" when popular faith in that concept is dying?

And it is dying because what we call "liberal democracy" basically means all questions about real governance, basic political arrangements, etc., are decided by supra-national entities or by "the rule of law," which ironically means a system of rules that were decided by elites, and which are often fundamentally unchallengeable.



By an "existential" decision, I am not referring to continuing existence of the Turkish State, but I am referring to a decision as to whether Turkey will remain modernist or move more fundamentalist. From my understanding, for the last couple of centuries, Turkey has been a like a pendulum swinging back and forth across the modernist/secular-theocratic line mentally lying between the Islamic Middle East and a modernist, secular approach more aligned with Europe and the West.

To a real degree, Turkey seems to be some sort of border state constantly vacillating as to its understanding of its own identity, never being sure of its position on the divide. During the Kemalist years and the Cold War, it vacillated westward by adopting more secularist policies and joining NATO. Now, with the rising of Erdogan, the taming of its military, and the emergence of IS, the position on the line is in continuing existential vacillation, this time more toward Islamic anti-secularism.

In its delicate dance, I wonder if Erdogan may view himself as some sort of candidate to be the Caliph and find affinity to ISIL as a variant of the Muslim Brotherhood. Vainglory is a powerful drug.

Seamus Padraig

"I am referring to a decision as to whether Turkey will remain modernist or move more fundamentalist."

It seems to me that Erdo-war may have already made that decision. All my secular Turkish contacts regard him and his party as total islamo-fascists, bent on restoring religious law. After Ergenekon and Gezi, anything is possible.

Seamus Padraig

Well, if one were attempting to exacerbate sectarian tensions in the region, the best possible strategy would be to take out as many secular/nationalist governments as possible. Please note that, since 2003, every Arab government we have overthrown or attempted to overthrow would fit the definition of secular/nationalist quite nicely. The result has been predictable: more sectarian killing. The only question I have is: why? Cui bono?

Babak Makkinejad

I think you misunderstand Turkey and Turkish people. They joined NATO because of fear of USSR.

Many countries emulated Europe and North America - chief among them Russia and Japan - yet they have remained non-Western.

Turkey is no different in that regard; Islam remains the core of that state and people.

Babak Makkinejad

Turkey was never a Liberal Democracy; she conformed to the pattern of almost all Sunni Muslim states; garrison secularism with the Army being the state-within-the-state.

In the West, it is quite clear that Democracy can be corrupted.

Babak Makkinejad

Mr. Khamenei has ruled out cooperation with US.



I agree that this is a conflict that the US needs to watch from a distance. Now, I have believed the same from Korea to Iraq. Unfortunately, it seems that decision makers in the US prefer non-stop conflict. And, if no conflict exists then to create one.

This is clearly marching in the direction of destroying what our fathers built. As Pat has noted, our political and governmental elites are intoxicated with their imagined imperial dominance. Consequently, I believe they are likely to continue flailing around the world until the US military - both people and material- are worn out from constant war. Additionally, this state of war continues to erode all the important facets of what makes a constitutional republic. We have seen the continued erosion of the rule of law and the extraordinary build up of the surveillance state among growing interventions of the state in our economic & social affairs. Our grandchildren are inheriting a distopia worse than the most dire imaginings of our grandfathers. There is no doubt in my mind that my generation has failed them.

William R. Cumminh

PL and ALL! This is a great great post and thread. Thanks to all for illuminating my views.


Origin -

How much Ottoman and how much Celiphate?



I acknowledge the Islamic core, but do you see that core as Salafic Takfiri with a willingness to adopt a strict sharia law, or inherently flexible with respect to accommodating western modernism and having a willingness to interact with the West and tolerant of western cultures?



The spread does not seem to be a distinction with a difference. If it comes into existence, either way it is a meme of power for the self-appointed aggrandizers.


Aren't there already other Caliphates in Libya and north eastern Nigeria. Quite a popular idea! Is Yemen next?

Are we going to have a foot race to Saudi Arabia? First Caliph to hold Mecca wins?



Not sure how much credence to,give this reporting, but interesting nonetheless.

My money is on a Sunnistan client of Turkey, meant to counter the Shiastan in Iraq. IMO, the regional powers (non-Arab) are already playing the great game as the U.S. looks on. These a players, Israel, Turkey and Iran are reassertion their spheres of influence as they carve up what is left of the Arab heartland. What they are seeking is a balance of power. Them gulfies are just a bit player in all of this. That is why I think there will be limits to the size and scope of the caliphate.

The Arabs are easy to divide. The young men flocking to the caliphate will be no different in the end.

Piotr, Poland

Disagree. Author of this article:


is absolutely right. IS made strategical error. If you want to create solid, not ephemerical State, you need to have real (not based on your bayonets only) support from as big group of civilians, as possible.
Natural group of support for IS are sunni tribes, but you should to treat them with respect, not abusing the local communities, like IS fighters doing now.
Claiming women from Sunni tribes as wives or sex slaves like IS doing now is typical for occupation forces, not for liberators

It was Iraqi Sunni tribes who saw in IS kind of leverage for pressure on Baghdad Maliki's govt and decided to support them.
And taking back this support will be beginning of the end of IS.

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