A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Threat to Kobanê: Will Air Strikes Expand into Syria?

This piece at Al-Monitor about how Yazidis, Christians, and other minorities in northern Iraqi are asking to be armed and trained to fight ISIS may be particularly timely, since ISIS is currently threatening to take the city of Kobanê, a mixed town of Kurds, Turkmen, Armenians and Syriac Christians. Rather like Amerli, which was besieged by ISIS until US airstikes nd Iraqi ground roop lifted the siege, there are fears of a massacre of the minorities if  Kobanê, (which is also spelled Kobani and is known by the Arabic name of ‘Ayn al-‘Arab), falls to ISIS.

There is one big problem:  Kobanê is in Syria, not Iraq, and no one is yet bombing targets in Syria. The town has been under the control of the People's Protection Units (YPG), Kurdish Syrian Peshmerga. ISIS is reportedly using armored vehicles in attacking the town, forces the YPG cannot possibly match.

KRG President Barzani is calling on the world to prevent a massacre, and Turkey's PKK is also calling for support for the besieged town.

The danger to the town and threat of a massacre seems certain to increase pressure on the US to expand its air strikes into Syria.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Turkey's Double Standards: Jihadis had free reign along the order for ages, but the Kurds are a different matter.

Tales of the ISIS outrages in surrounding villages have stirred Turkey's Kurdish citizens and their politicians. Hundreds of young men, apparently in possession of heavy weapons [PKK] amassed on the border ready to go into Kobane, [with families going to the border to cheer them on] only to be met with Turkish water cannons and tear gas to disperse them. About 300 did manage to cross at night but probably NOT with the weapons.

Seventy thousand people did get into Turkey in the last few days, but only after Turkish Kurds scuffled with border staff, starting the flow. Military age men, however, have not be able to get in.

Turkey is in a unique position to let the PKK/PYD help themselves simply by giving them the access they once or perhaps still do giver to assorted Islamist fighters. Instead of acting in a way that would gain the GOT a positive image going into negotiations with the PKK, they reinforce the hostility between the parties.

As a result of this short-sighted policy, Syrian Kurds are suffering and dying unnecessarily. I wonder whether the US or others in the coalition understand the urgent need to revise their own policies vis a vis the PKK/PYD.