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Obama’s deal with Turkey is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken ISIS

The deal between the US and Turkey which will allow American bombers to use Incirlik airbase while Turkey takes action against Islamic State (Isis) looks stranger and stranger. When first announced over a week ago, US officials spoke triumphantly of the agreement being “a game-changer” in the war against Isis. In fact, the war waged by Turkey in the days since this great American diplomatic success has been almost entirely against the Kurds, at home and abroad.

Turkish jets are pounding sites occupied by the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) guerrillas in the Qandil Mountains and other parts of northern Iraq. Inside Turkey, the majority of those detained by the security forces turn out to be Kurdish or left-wing activists and not suspected Isis sympathisers. Prosecutions are threatened against MPs of the largely Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) which has tirelessly advocated peace between the PKK and the Turkish government. Evidently, the HDP’s offence was to win 13 per cent of the votes in Turkey’s general election on 7 June, thereby depriving President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AKP of its parliamentary majority for the first time since 2002.

It is now becoming clear that two crucial parts of the accord were not agreed at the time of the historic announcement. The US Air Force was desperate to get the use of Incirlik, 60 miles from the Syrian border, in order to intensify its bombardment of Isis. American planes currently have to fly long distances from Bahrain, Jordan and an aircraft carrier in the Gulf. The failure of the US air campaign to prevent Isis fighters capturing Ramadi and Palmyra in May intensified the sense of urgency.