BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
You’re of course familiar with the aphorism “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” A logical upshot of this is also that “the friend of my enemy is my enemy,” “the enemy of my friend is my enemy,” and “the friend of my friend is my friend.” Laid out formulaically, we have:
E x E= F
F x E= E
E x F= E
F x F= F
Lately, there’s been much laughter at some absurd contradictions that have come of this mindset in the context of what’s been happening in parts of the Near East— Turkey, Syria, Kurdistan, Israel/Palestine, Iraq, Iran. Inevitably, Armenians, given it’s our neighborhood, have been dragged into this, too.
The easiest situation to mock is U.S./Western support of the “rebels” in Syria. The Assad regime is supposedly an “enemy”, so the rebels fighting it become “friends”… (because E x E= F) Yet the rebels include extremist Islamists who hail from the al-Qaeda sector of humanity, who are well established as “enemies” from the Afghanistan and Iraq experiences. But, of course these people were formerly “friends” when fighting against the Soviet Union. So which is true?
It gets even better. That same extremist crowd is now becoming much better known as the ISIS—Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and of course even more recently as the “caliphate” reborn. The juiciest part is that ISIS is a (much denigrated) “friend” in Syria but crosses the border into Iraq and becomes an enemy to the U.S./West. Here’s more. Even though the U.S./West loudly denies supporting ISIS in Syria, Turkey has no such ability to deny its ties to these extremists, who are therefore “friends” of Turkey. Turkey is the U.S./West’s “friend” which means that ISIS must also be the U.S./West’s friend. (because F x F= F) Yet we already know that ISIS is and is not the U.S./West’s friend depending on which side of the Iraq/Syria side of the border we happen to be on. So which is true?
Turkey is also Hamas’ friend, therefore Hamas must be the U.S./West’s friend (because F x F= F). Yet we already know that Hamas is not U.S./West’s friend because Hamas is Israel’s enemy and Israel is the U.S./West’s friend (because E x F= E). So which is true?
The Kurds and Kurdistan, at least formally, are neither clearly enemy nor clearly friend to anyone. Yet because they oppose ISIS, they are friends to the U.S./West, Turkey (depending on the moment), the Shiite dominated Iraqi government (because ISIS is Sunni and opposed to the Iraqi government), and Israel (because Israel is opposed to Hamas which is supported by ISIS), because E x E=F. Here comes the fun: Israel is the “enemy” of Syria so it should be friends with ISIS (Syria’s enemy), but that’s not the case because ISIS is also friends with Hamas which is Israel’s enemy. Iran and ISIS are enemies (Shiite vs. Sunni) but Iran and the Kurds are enemies but so are the Kurds and ISIS, so we get a new equation, “E x E x E= unknown”.
Finally, we have the Shiite government of Iraq which has as “enemies” both ISIS and the Kurds (because they are selling oil independently of Iraq’s government and they want independence from Iraq), meanwhile ISIS and the Kurds are enemies even though both would like to see Iraq dismembered and by that logic should be friends, “E x E x E= unknown”.
I hope you haven’t tried to follow too closely, because something much worse than vertigo would afflict your brain! And, there are a few more examples, but I won’t bore you anymore.
Unfortunately, Armenians have been dragged into this cauldron of nonsense. We are enemies to ISIS because they see us as Christians and want to massacre us. Turkey is our sworn enemy. The Kurds are very slowly becoming our friends. Turkey is playing nice with SOME Kurds (in Iraq) while beating up on others (internally and in Syria). We have a fundamental commonality with Israel—the experiences of genocide and dispossession from our respective homelands. Yet, that same dispossession experience is shared with the Palestinians as well. But the Palestinians, at least those affiliated with Hamas, are friends with ISIS and Turkey, both of which are our enemies. Simultaneously, some of Israel’s supporters in the U.S. have covertly fought against us in the halls of Congress for years and have been very friendly with Turkey (even though that is slowly changing now). The Palestinians and Israelis are enemies. Speaking up in favor of one gets us in trouble with the other.
What’s worse, even though our primary concern should be addressing Armenian issues—the crisis in Syria and Iraq caused by Turkish/extremist Islamist actions, political issues in the U.S., liberation of occupied Western Armenia, etc., because of our commonalities with both Jews and Palestinians, we have come to “enjoy” internal discord as some Armenians argue in favor of Israel while others argue for Hamas in the latest round of bloodshed between those two entities.
I’ve got no solutions for this kind of absurdity which surrounds us. Do you?