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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 29-Oct-2014
29-Oct-14 World View -- Egypt begins evacuating Sinai residents on Gaza border

Web Log - October, 2014

29-Oct-14 World View -- Egypt begins evacuating Sinai residents on Gaza border

Turkey explains why they won't send troops into Kobani

This morning's key headlines from

Egypt begins evacuating Sinai residents on Gaza border

Tunnel underneath wall separating Gaza and Egypt (AP)
Tunnel underneath wall separating Gaza and Egypt (AP)

Following on the car bomb that killed 33 Egyptian troops in Sinai last Friday, which Egypt's president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi said in a nationally televised speech was an existential threat to Egypt, Egypt is now beginning to evacuate residents of Sinai along the border with Gaza near the Rafah crossing, in order to create a buffer zone.

Several readers wrote to me regarding the article I wrote on Friday's attack. ( "26-Oct-14 World View -- Egypt in state of emergency after terrorist attack in Sinai") They said that although the article was accurate, the headline was misleading in that the state of emergency did not apply to all of Egypt, but only to parts of the Sinai peninsula.

Al-Sisi has blamed Hamas for supporting the attack, and has ordered the creation of a 500 meter buffer zone along the border with Gaza, to prevent the smuggling of weapons. The buffer zone will eventually stretch along the full 8 mile length of the border. Residents living in homes along the border are being forced to evacuate so that their homes can be demolished. Over 800 houses and 10,000 residents may be affected.

For years, Egypt has been destroying tunnels that are used to smuggle weapons and terrorists underneath the walls separating Gaza from Egypt. This has been a somewhat futile effort, since Hamas quickly rebuilds tunnels after they're destroyed.

In an effort to end the building of tunnels once and for all, Egypt's army intends to dig a deep trench along the Gaza border, and fill it with water. The trench will be 500 meters deep along the entire Gaza border, but will be as much as three km deep in the final stage.

Update:The Jerusalem Post article has been updated to indicate that the trench will be 500 meters wide, as much as three km wide in the final stage. (Paragraph added. 29-Oct) Al-Ahram (Cairo) and BBC and Jerusalem Post

Iraqi Kurdish fighters to enter Kobani, Syria, from Turkey

Apparently final agreement has been reached for Turkey to permit 161 Iraqi Kurdish fighters (Peshmerga) to enter Turkish soil from Iraq and then cross the border into Kobani, Syria, later this week.

Kobani has become one of the major symbols of the rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL), in that the United States coalition has been using air strikes to prevent ISIS from overrunning Kobani, and this has energized ISIS to pour more troops into the battle in order to humiliate the United States. CNN

Turkey explains why they won't send troops into Kobani

Turkey has been under a great deal of international pressure to send troops into Kobani, across the border in Syria, to save the Kurdish population from extermination by the the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL).

Turkey's prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu gave a very interesting interview on the BBC on Tuesday on Kobani and on Turkey's position on numerous issues. Davutoglu speaks English, and the following excerpts are my own transcription, with a little bit of editing for clarity:

"Saving Kobani has been the main slogan the main message of the international community for last 2 months, but we have to define what means saving Kobani.

If saving Kobani means saving civilians living in Kobani, you're well aware that people of Kobani already came to Turkey [as refugees], and they're under safe conditions.

But if saving Kobani is retaking Kobani and some area around Kobani, from ISIS, then there's a need of a military operation. Who will be doing this military operation? This is the question that I was really surprised and shocked when some international media accusing Turkey or expecting Turkey to do something, should define what Turkey should do. If Turkish military intervenes Kobani, I am sure many of these media or international parties will criticize Turkey for intervening in another country.

The only way to help Kobani, since other countries don't want to use ground troops is sending some peace oriented or moderate forces to Kobani. What are they? Peshmerga [Kurdish militia in Iraq]. The Peshmerga is part of the Iraqi army, constitutionally they are part of the Iraqi army, and the Free Syrian Army. So when the Free Syrian Army and Peshmerga said that they're ready to go, we said yes. But if other countries, Americans, Europeans, want to send their troops, Turkey never said no."

Davutoglu was reminded that the Americans and the Europeans have repeatedly said that they would not send in ground troops to Kobani.

"Well, if they don't want to send their ground troops, how can they expect Turkey to send Turkish ground troops with the same risks on our border? So the question is here: is it easy to accuse, to say something against another country.

But they have to make empathy, and they should ask, what can we do, and what can we expect from Turkey to do? Nobody can accuse Turkey or blame Turkey for the situation in Kobani."

Two weeks ago, American vice president Joe Biden was forced to apologize to Turkey, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates after accusing them of having funded ISIS and contributing to its rise. The interviewer reminded Davutoglu of that, and said that even Jordanian and Egyptian intelligence officials have accused Turkey of the same thing. Davutoglu firmly denied this:

"You mentioned some intelligence services - they cannot claim this - there is no evidence that Turkey has any link, any cooperation, any support to these type of groups.

It is up to Turkey - it is on our border - and Turkey declared ISIS as a terrorist organization last year in Oct 2013 - when these countries didn't do so for many months, and they are also not fighting against them. Turkey is fighting.

Only Turkey has bombarded ISIS troops in December 2013. And several hundreds of them were killed when they approached the Turkish border."

Next, Davutoglu was reminded that Turkey is accused of allowing foreign fighters and jihadis to come to Turkey and then cross the border into Syria to join ISIS. Even Turkish fighters have done this.

"Turkish fighters on the ground who went there illegally are [far fewer] than British fighters. Much less.

I spoke with my colleagues two years ago, on how to prevent these foreign fighters [from going] in, and I asked them to stop these people [from leaving] their countries like Britain to come to Turkey. They said we're a democratic country, so how can we stop them? I told them, then, then please give us the names, so that we can prevent them from coming into Turkey.

They said we cannot give the names unless they've committed a crime. Then I said, how can you expect Turkey to stop them, when Turkey receives 35 million tourists every year. We cannot make such a check.

So fighting against this type of flow is the combined effort of all the concerned parties. Nobody can expect from us to stop tourism or coming foreign people inside Turkey, and check them whether their name are Muslim names, and so forth."

Finally, Davutoglu was given an opportunity to talk about the refugee situation. Lebanon has announced that they will no longer accept refugees, and Davutoglu was asked whether Turkey will adopt the same policy:

"Thank you very much for this question. Nobody is looking at refugee crisis, this humanitarian crisis. We have now around 1.6 million [refugees in Turkey, but this is approaching almost 2 million after the Kobani cases.

Yesterday I was in a town, not a border town, and there are 56,000 Syrians living there, not only in camps, but also in the cities. In some other cities, the Syrians outnumber the Turkish citizens who are living there. We have been taking a huge responsibility, and huge risk receiving Syrian refugees, and we spent 4.5 billion until now, and it is increasing every day, and nobody is helping us. I have to make very clear- UNHCR and others are doing their efforts, but altogether around 200 million. Very minimal.

And I understand very well the Lebanese situation, because it is affecting the Lebanese social political demography altogether. [But we would not do the same] in Turkey because of our historic relations.

We've always said, not only in Syrian case. When Kurds were massacred by Saddam, we opened our border. When Bosniaks were massacred by [Slobodan] Milosevic we opened our border. ...

So this is the historic tradition that our border has been open for people, for victims, and it is against our tradition to close our door.

But we will insist to have safe havens on the other side of the border, so that Syrian people will stay in Syria, rather than to come into Turkey. Therefore , we have a long-term vision, and we can see the consequence of any policy if Aleppo is being taken, or is being bombarded by Syrian regime like today, millions of Syrians may come. at that time of course, we have to take certain measures - how to keep them on Syrian side."

The final remarks refer to Turkey's proposal to create a protected border strip within Syria where Syrian refugees can go rather than Turkey. BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Oct-14 World View -- Egypt begins evacuating Sinai residents on Gaza border thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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