Chivers at NY Times leaves out the meat: Turkish involvement with Jabhat An-Nusra, implications for US policy and relations
Sadly – it is with these kinds of articles that the New York Times opens itself up to criticism over its curious blindspots.
Chivers has this story just yesterday but totally fails to mention - as most of the US media is currently failing to mention (but for how long?) – that there are very serious and very disturbing reports (for just some here and the AFP story here) that in the major battles taking place along the Turkish-Syria border in and around Ras Al-Ain, that Jabhat an-Nusra – the designated terrorist group acording to the US – is being allowed, and perhaps aided, in bringing HEAVY WEAPONRY including tanks over from safe zones in Turkey to battle the supposedly PKK-affiliated kurds (and the bane of the Establishment here in Turkey).
We have spent ten days in Turkey meeting and challenging high level officials and think tankers from across the spectrum about this very issue – it is an EXPLOSIVE one and very uncomfortable for the “liberals” here of course as well as the supposedly very modern AKP folks, that will start to finally resonate in the US media because it is so hard to suppress and so obviously hypocritical, dangerous, obtuse etc.
Suffice it to say that pro-government folks here are trying to challenge the increasing reports by saying “you cant trust youtube”… but of course the very next minute they refer to evidence “on youtube” about hizbullah atrocities in Syria. We literally had one of the foremost Turkish experts on the mideast tell our group of phd and masters students that his only evidence was “hundreds of videos on youtube” – which led my colleague who has a mere BA to wonder if they started letting phds footnote only youtube for their dissertations.
The bottom line: there is a clearly ascendent irrationality and refusal to come to terms with facts on the ground driving forwards the hopes, dreams and POLICY of many pro-AKP officials and ideological fellow travelers on Syria, such they most cannot yet comprehend the strategic dangers they are facing clearly, their own complicity in where they find themselves (it is always the US’s fault or Assad’s fault solely) as well as ways to deal more rationally and even more morally with the situation at hand.
[incidentally this trend seems mirrored by the incredible over confidence on the part of the pro government forces vis a vis domestic issues and opponents]
Some criticism of specific parts of Chivers piece, beyond this major blindspot:
– He writes far too expansively here: “which means his experiences and decisions upend conventional wisdom that holds that the Kurds do not see this as their fight.”
As is too often the case, “the other side” is not given a voice in the piece: He may argue that the piece is about the upending side, but how much upending is there really going on – his language suggests to the unknowing NYT reader that yes, whew, the kurds really do want the Jabhat an-Nusra/FSA future…when a more careful analysis would of course greatly circumscribe that notion, as most of our most trenchant analysts here in TURKEY HAVE CONSISTENTLY NOTED!
– Another example of the dangerous and misleading lack of economy in his wording which is – he admits – saying HIS ONE EXPERIENCE “upends”:
“Kurds here fiercely note that they have suffered under Mr. Assad’s rule, too, and taken up arms against him. They sharply contradict the notion that they rely on Mr. Assad’s government for protection. And so while there have been signs that many Kurds remained pro-government, with some pro-P.K.K. fighters clashing with rebels, hundreds of others have joined the Free Syrian Army, as the loosely assembled antigovernment fighters call themselves, Kurdish and rebel leaders say.”
SIGNS! Chivers himself quite unscientifically is actually the one doing the upending by suggesting a few hundred kurds he was led to in hostile territory – who of course say they do not want a separate state to the NYT reporter (where is the qualification that this begs!?) – are actually THE DOMINANT NARRATIVE and not the “signs” – a weak word if ever there was one – of the opposite.. the “somes.”
Also – is it Kurdish AND rebel LEADERS…. or just rebel leaders and some foot soldiers – Chiver’s wording is unfortunately quite imprecise here.
Chivers is a great reporter of course, so how, once again, does a great reporter fall into these traps that merely bolster the case that the NYT, as in the lead up to the Iraq war, is merely a part of the info ops war going on every day?
FROM AFP – how did he miss this?
Fighting also raged in the majority Kurdish northern city of Ras al-Ain, on the Turkish border, with jihadists battling Kurdish militiamen for control of the district, activists and residents said.
They said fighters from the radical Al-Nusra Front — listed by the United States as a “terrorist” organisation — and Ghuraba al-Sham groups launched an assault on Thursday, crossing into the city from Turkey with three tanks.
“The Kurdish fighters seized one of the tanks,” on Friday, an activist identifying himself as Havidar told AFP via the Internet.
Syria’s Kurds are divided over the conflict with some supporting Assad’s regime, others backing the uprising and others striving to stay neutral.
Activists say they fear Turkey, which backs the revolt against Assad, may be using jihadists in Syria to fight its own battle against its own Kurdish minority.