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Quid Pro Blowback: Did Erdogan Trade Baghdadi For Rojava?

It’s all over the news. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you. But I’m a muckraker and telling you what you know is the first half of my job. Baghdadi is dead! The terrifying Cobra Commander of Uncle Sam’s latest jihad Frankenstein, the Ayatollah of the fearsome Islamic State, the world’s deadliest Salafi super-villain, is dead. Dead as a doornail, as our ever-tactful commander in chief put it. Apparently he died like Rerun in the opening of What’s Happening, running and stumbling down a lantern-lit tunnel, flailing his arms all about as he sobbed hysterically, only stopping to blow him and his children to smithereens with a suicide vest once his lungs were empty and his britches were full. This is the official story at least and the mainstream media seems more than happy to put down their impeachment pitchforks just long enough to parrot its Hollywood details with the unblinking innocence of a child. Brave, dick-swinging, red meat-eating American heroes, flying fearlessly into the heart of darkness on their Apache choppers to wright all the wrongs and settle the score. This time there’s even dog so extrajudicial slaughter can be fun for the whole family. But as the days go by, this fable grows more and more suspect to all but the most deluded daydream believers.

Trump’s full-breasted boasts about watching the whole raid in real time on the ground like an executive episode of Cops have turned out to be pure weapons-grade bullshit. The only show the Donald was munching popcorn to that night was hazy overhead surveillance footage without a lick of audio. No matter. Trump’s a liar, even his supporters know that. This raid is still a momentous act of uncut American heroism. Real Rambo shit. But what do we really know about this raid? Every scrap of information we’ve managed to get our hands on comes straight from the State Department. You know, those fine upstanding bureaucrats who are still mining the deserts of Babylon for Saddam’s secret plutonium stash. Baghdadi’s been declared dead a dozen times before and if the motherfucker blew himself to bits, what makes us so damn sure that we even got the right guy? The Kurds are claiming they retrieved Baghdadi’s DNA from a pair of pilfered underwear. So skid marks from a panty raid hold this thing together, and the dogs of war felt confident enough with this evidence to blow up the block and chuck the corpse chunks in the fucking ocean? Am I really the only one who feels like they’re being sold a bill of goods here? Am I the only one with deja vu?

This whole smoke-and-mirrors action movie spectacle feels uncannily familiar. It was way back in 2011, on the brink of another contentious re-election circus, when then-president Barack Obama swaggered down a red carpet like a Tarantino movie pimp to the pulpit where he announced that he and his boys in Seal Team 6 had taken down the original Baghdadi, Osama bin Laden. The mass media zeitgeist swelled and swooned for weeks with every last detail of this real-life Schwarzenegger flick, all delivered directly to them by the same war machine that carried it out. Obama was certainly a much slicker storyteller than Trump, but his boasts of watching the daring raid go down live were quickly proven to be just as bogus as Trump’s. And both White House’s had supplied equally fraudulent family portraits of the Cabinet watching the live snuff flick together like home movies. Turns out they could’ve both been watching the same episode of What’s Happening for all we know. None of these inconvenient details stopped the media from turning Seal Team 6 into the Backstreet Boys with a body count. But the thread of doubt had been exposed. Someone just had to pull it.

Historically speaking, that someone always seems to be Seymour Hersh, the last uncorrupted sleuth from the Bernstein era of hard-boiled investigative journalism. In a stunning piece for the London Review of Books, Seymour pulled the string until Emperor Obama’s sweater came undone. According to independent sources cultivated over decades of flawless journalism, the whole damn raid was a charade, a performance, a work worthy of Attitude era professional wrestling. Bin Laden wasn’t hiding out in Pakistan, he was being held captive under house arrest by the Pakistani Military, who had been saving him for a rainy day bargaining chip. Until, that is, someone squealed to the CIA for the reward money. There was no decade long manhunt, no torture room confession, there wasn’t even a fucking raid. The Pakistanis cut the power to Bin Laden’s Abbottabad penal colony, the Seals were led through the house by a guard who knew the layout intimately, and an unarmed, crippled, half-blind old monster with zero connection left to his past life as an American trained jihadi super-villain was executed by the same empire which once bankrolled his escapades, with two shots to the face before he could squeal any company secrets. Just like shooting fish in a barrel. Quid pro blowback. The whole bloody affair was manufactured like Vienna Sausage and fed to the mass media who didn’t so much as ask what the expiration date was.

So, considering that bit of historical hindsight, what really happened to Baghdadi? I may be a lot of things, dearest motherfuckers, but I’m sure as shit no Seymour Hersh and I’m not going to pretend I know any better than the next well-read skeptic. I’ll leave those kinds of schoolgirl games to the mainstream media. But I am a muckraker. The first half of my job is telling you what you already know, even if you’ve been lulled into believing you don’t know it yet. The second half of my job is to tell you what I know, and these are a few things I know. Baghdadi has had more lives than a Hindu cat. In order for the war machine to be so certain that they finally got their man, they have to have had better evidence than Baghdadi’s soiled jockeys. Somebody knew Baghdadi was there. ‘There’ in this case is Turkish occupied Idlib. A hotbed of foreign Salafi mercenaries jealously protected by the Erdogan regime. And it was just weeks before this raid that Erdogan managed to convince Trump in a single phone call to sell out the Kurds and give him the green light to invade Rojava. Was this another case of Trump utilizing his art of the deal? More quid pro blowback for another ex-ally who had outlived there usefulness. It’s important to remember Erdogan’s long history of cozy ties with ISIS. His own son served as the point man for their once-thriving gas smuggling ring. Perhaps Turkey found themselves in a similar situation to Pakistan, with a bearded bargaining chip in their custody to be played to their regional advantage. All things considered, would any of this be particularly shocking or even unprecedented? Baghdadi for Rojava? Quid pro quo? Call me paranoid, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t at least ask.

Somebody give old Seymour a jangle. I think he might have another emperor’s sweater to pull undone. Maybe this time, it’ll get published in Penthouse Forum before Disney farts out another blockbuster starring an orange psychopath and a talking dog. I’ll hold my breath if you do.

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Nicky Reid is an agoraphobic anarcho-genderqueer gonzo blogger from Central Pennsylvania and assistant editor for Attack the System. You can find her online at Exile in Happy Valley.

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