What's actually going on in northern Syria? First, let's start with the obvious. The Middle East is controlled by "Big Oil" and their political proxies. The "people" have no say, but you already knew that. This isn't a conspiracy theory. Even a superficial reading of Middle Eastern history makes this point clear. Next, check out who funds Washington's major think tanks. Big Oil. Okay, now that we know who funds those that shape the policy and the political action committees that elect politicians, let's get to the play.
There's a lot of oil in Northern Iraq but those regions are landlocked. The only way to ship the oil out is through a tiny sliver of land in Iraq. As luck would have it, this port opens up onto the Persian Gulf – not exactly the most secure waterway at present. So, what's the cheapest alternative? Well, there's instability in Syria right now. Instability means opportunity, especially for those with power. Why not carve out some land, build a pipeline to get the oil out to the Mediterranean and then control the entire supply chain? Brilliant!
Okay, but how would someone go about taking over the land necessary to build the pipeline? You can negotiate with the owners of the land, but that would be expensive and time-consuming. Hmm, what about just taking the land by force? This might be cheaper but it could lead to loss of life for the countries that would be acting on behalf of Big Oil. Coffins draped with flags aren't good for politicians trying to get re-elected (politicians don't send their own children to the front line, they're not actually worried about the servicemen and women.) Any other suggestions?
Why not pay someone to fight on your behalf? This is a good idea but it can't be obvious or else you'll look bad. Why not hire a group of individuals that already have experience fighting wars? Who are okay with fighting for you in exchange for "legitimacy?" How about a group of desperate terrorists? Well, they can't appear to be terrorists or again you'll look bad. That's going to be tricky, maybe rebrand the terrorists? You'll need PR experts, marketing gurus, politicians you can buy, influencers, social media experts, an entire team. This is going to be really expensive but it's going to be a hell of a lot cheaper than licensing the rights to a pipeline or paying the Iraqis and the Iranians to use the Persian Gulf without incident.
Okay, so now you're all caught up. U.S. Army Gen. Raymond Thomas, head of Special Operations Command, says that in 2015 he told the PKK terror organization, "You have got to change your brand," and a day later they began calling themselves the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). A marketing campaign so spectacular Don Draper would be envious. Next? The terrorists co-opted the term "Kurds," the ethnic group that has lived peacefully side-by-side with the Turks and other ethnic groups in the region for over 600 years. But that was before there was oil. So how do you get a small minority of Kurds to pretend to represent all of the Kurds and say they're fighting for a noble cause, like liberty?
The PKK wasn't chosen by accident. Kurdish people have historically faced institutionalized discrimination in the Republic of Turkey for nearly 80 years. The U.S. was fine during the 20th century with it as were the Europeans because they had more important things to worry about. The PKK, a radical Marxist/Leninist and Communist terror group, has done its best to use this past oppression to galvanize peace-loving Kurds into joining their cause, albeit unsuccessfully. They've killed tens of thousands of Kurds that haven't joined them and kidnapped, raped, and tortured tens of thousands of other Kurds who refuse to fight for their cause.
In the last two decades, Turkey has repealed many of the facets of institutional racism ingrained in Turkey's laws. It has invested billions of dollars in cities where Kurds are the majority. All of these steps are an existential threat to the PKK. In response, the PKK has continued to kill innocent civilians and newly conscripted Turkish soldiers. Their PR machine is in full swing and they're trying to cover-up their radical communist ideologies and use of child soldiers by pivoting toward whatever it takes to look good. Their PR machine has polished off their spotty record at fighting Daesh to make it look like they've done all the heavy lifting in obliterating those terrorists. Now the scene was set. They were going to take over. The 4 million Syrians in Turkey, many of whom are Kurds themselves wouldn't get to go back to northern Syria and the PKK would take over and protect the sacred pipeline. Then came Trump. He didn't go for it. He didn't want another war and more coffins and he put the brakes on the Obama-era project. Trump's actual motivations? Who knows. In the meantime, Obama continues to get paid millions by private equity funds and Wall Street bankers heavily invested in Big Oil, perhaps as payment for his gifts to them.
Months from now, peace and prosperity will return to northern Syria. The Syrians that fled will slowly be repatriated and the terrorists that were so close to making billions for Big Oil may be disappointed… Unless they can stop this chain of events, somehow.