Though today Kurdish rebels are serving on the front lines of the US backed counter-offensive against ISIS, leaked intelligence information reveals a more complicated relationship between the Kurds and the US government. Though the US appears to value its relationship with the Kurds it also wants strong ties with Turkey to the point of betrayal.
According to a new report from The Intercept, the NSA has been providing the Turkish government with intelligence used to kill Kurdish rebels. The intelligence includes mobile phone location data, banking information, and the whereabouts of Kurdish rebel leaders living abroad.
Given that Turkey had labeled the Kurdish rebels “terrorists” and had killed them previously it is impossible for the NSA to not have know that the intelligence it was providing Turkey could have lethal consequences.
Documents from the archive of U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden that Der Spiegel and The Intercept have seen show just how deeply involved America has become in Turkey’s fight against the Kurds. For a time, the NSA even delivered its Turkish partners with the mobile phone location data of PKK leaders on an hourly basis. The U.S. government also provided the Turks with information about PKK money flows, and the whereabouts of some of its leaders living in exile abroad.
At the same time, the Snowden documents also show that Turkey is one of the United States’ leading targets for spying. Documents show that the political leadership in Washington, D.C., has tasked the NSA with divining Turkey’s “leadership intention,” as well as monitoring its operations in 18 other key areas. This means that Germany’s foreign intelligence service, which drew criticism in recent weeks after it was revealed it had been spying on Turkey, isn’t the only secret service interested in keeping tabs on the government in Ankara.
What a tangled web we weave. The NSA is providing Turkey with intelligence to help kill Kurdish allies now fighting with the US against ISIS in Iraq while also targeting Turkey itself for spying operations. Everyone’s friend and everyone’s enemy – Pax Americana.
Now that the information is public it will be interesting to see the reaction of those involved. Turkey has already summoned US representatives to respond to the disclosure of the US spying on Turkey, no word yet as to what the Kurds’ response has been to the revelation that its strong ally has been helping Turkey kill Kurds.