US sells Turkey 'smart bombs' (to use against Kurds)
The Pentagon announced on Oct. 29 that the US State Department has approved a $70 million sale of "smart bombs" to Turkey—one day after the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) informed Congress that the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) systems would be sold. Lawmakers have 15 days for any block. The package to be sold to Turkey includes BLU-109 "bunker-busters" as well as 900 "smart bomb kits," 100 laser kits and 200 warheads. "It is vital to the US national interest to assist our NATO ally in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability," the DSCA stated on its website. (Hurriyet Daily News, Oct. 30)
It's a perverse irony that the sale is announced precisely as Turkey is preparing to move against US-backed Kurdish forces in Syria. The YPG Kurdish militia reports ongoing attacks by the Turkish military on the border of Kobani canton. (ANF, Oct. 31)
The sale is doubtless motiviated by the Russian intervention in Syria and the potential for superpower confrontation. Washington wants Turkey prepared for a showdown with Russia and "World War 5" scenario, while Turkey will be tempted to use the new firepower to crush the Kurdish autonomous zone and replace it with a military "buffer zone" (in the ongoing World War 4 context of states against non-state actors). Hopefully, the White House will be able to restrain Anakara, but the sale certainly raises questions about Washington's seemingly inevitable betrayal of the Rojava Kurds
The sale also comes as a dictatorship may be consolidating in Turkey. Following new elections Nov. 1, Turkey's Justice and Development Party (AKP) is on track to regain the majority it lost in June and form a government alone—potentially reviving President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's push for constitutional changes giving himself broad executive powers. The AKP's 50% of the vote was followed by the Republican People's Party (CHP) at 25% and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) at 12%. The Kurdish-led leftist Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) just squeaked past the 10% threshold needed to maintain parliamentary seats. (BBC News; Hurriyet Daily News)
There were scattered clashes and charges of vote-rigging during the election day, and serious street confrontations broke out in Diyarbakir as the resutls came in. (AFP)
The elections of course took place in an atmosphere of terror and amid a vigorous crackdown on the media. On Oct. 28, police raided the studios of Kanalturk and Bugun TV stations mid-broadcast to take them off the air Oct. 28. The stations were said to be in sway of Erdogan's former ally and now exiled rival Fethullah Gulen. (NPR) However, restrictions on social media remain in place, overwhelmingly aimed at silencing the Kurdish and leftist opposition.