Turkey voted to fight against ISIS/ISIL, but that doesn’t mean they have any interest in saving the Kurdish town of Kobani, just over their border from Syria. ISIS forces have the town surrounded, and the people there have been asking for the Turk’s help to prevent a massacre.
In the morning Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told journalists in a briefing in Ankara that his government would do what it could to prevent the mainly Kurdish town of Kobani [a/k/a Kobane], known as Ain al-Arab to the Arabs, from falling to the militants of the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS).
“We wouldn’t want Kobani to fall,” he said.
The Kurds, however, tell a different story, one that describes Turkish delays and stalling tactics while fierce fighting around the besieged town continues, virtually non-stop, despite American air strikes. The Turks tanks literally standing by at the border in sight of Kobani observing the ‘show’ as outnumbered Kurd fighters and civilians die. Kurdish leaders are naturally angry at the lack of assistance from the Turks, and have threatened to end the peace talks between the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) and Turkey should Kobani fall and ISIS fighters massacre its people.
If the Turks fail to take action and protect the Kurds in Kobane, Kurdish leaders said this week, peace talks within Turkey could be at risk.
“The siege of Kobane is far from being just an ordinary siege,” Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), said in a message relayed to supporters from his cell. “It does not only target the democratic gains of the Kurdish people but would lead Turkey to a new era of coups.”
The Kurds are extremely angry, not only with the Turks, but also with the US led coalition, for not doing more, though I’m not sure how much more we could do, to be honest. Turkey has the ground forces available to save the town in place and nearby. They have chosen, so far, not to use them. In light of their long running conflict with the PKK, and the fear of an independent Kurdistan on their border, this isn’t a surprise, even if it is disappointing and in my view wrong-headed. Allowing a city of 40-50 thousand people to be slaughtered when you have the means to save them is not only immoral, but likely to lead to further PKK attacks inside Turkey in the future. If the Turks really want peace with the Kurds, this is not the way to go about it.
However, it shows that the situation in the region, in Syria and among our so-called coalition “partners” opposed to ISIS is far more complicated and treacherous than is typically portrayed in our nightly TV news and by our so-called “foreign policy experts” who pontificate for more American military intervention as a solution to all the Middle East’s problems (e.g., Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham, et alia). It also demonstrates the ineffective and counter-productive nature of all our military interventions in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. The invasion and occupation of Iraq started a series dominoes falling and inflamed the region in violence. We have yet to see the end of the consequences that continue to flow from that ill-fated mission not-accomplished.