Turkey allows Kurdish Peshmerga to Cross to Kobane

By Juan Cole

The Turkish press is reporting that Turkish intelligence is facilitating the crossing of a couple hundred paramilitary troops (Peshmerga) from Iraqi Kurdistan to the Turkish town of Suruç, 16 km from the Syrian border. They intend to help relieve the besieged Kurdish-Syrian town of Kobane, which is being attacked by ISIL.

The likelihood is that the real story is that Turkish intelligence is making sure that the Kurdistan fighters are Peshmerga, loyal to President Massoud Barzani of Iraqi Kurdistan, and not members of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), the leftwing separatist guerrilla movement in eastern Turkey itself. The Turkish government considers the PKK a terrorist organization and has fought it for decades, with both sides committing atrocities. Initially the PKK wanted to relieve Kobane, where the fighters are from a Syrian offshoot of the PKK. Turkey strictly forbade that, and did not seem very eager to help Kobane if the intervention would benefit the PKK and its Syrian counterparts.

Iraqi Kurdistan has cultivated fair relations with Ankara and it is no longer seen as threatening by Ankara. Some 70% of investment in Iraqi Kurdistan is from Turkey, and the Iraqi Kurds appear to have promised Turkey oil exports on favorable terms. Iraqi Kurdistan is now Establishment, seen as stable and increasingly wealthy, in contrast to the rough separatist guerrillas of the PKK, who have in recent years attacked Turkish troops and other targets.

Kobane is a small town wedged between ISIL-held al-Raqqah Province and the Turkish border and is virtually the last hold out of that Kurdish Syrian “canton.” It is a little unlikely that it can survive the ISIL onslaught for very long unless ISIL itself starts suffering setbacks in al-Raqqah, until recently its main power base. The Peshmerga relief force is an attempt to keep Kobane from falling and to establish it as a base from which attacks can be launched on ISIL-held villages in northern al-Raqqah, many of them Kurdish.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday the US subjected ISIL tanks and armored vehicles to aerial bombardment outside Kobane.

Related video:

BBC News: “Video shows massive Kobane blast”

5 Responses

  1. Juan, as a U.S. military effect, the Battle of Kobane is another Battle of Khe Sanh (Operation Niagara).

    U.S. tactical airpower (some of which are strategic bombers employed in a tactical bombing role) is turning the prolonged battle into a meat grinder of ISIL fighters.

  2. “Meanwhile, on Tuesday the US subjected ISIL tanks and armored vehicles to aerial bombardment outside Kobane”

    Ramblings. It’s odd that there are any ISIL vehicles remaining given US aerial assault capabilities. Possibilities:

    1 the US is allocating a relatively small amount of its air power to the Syrian theatre; or
    2 US aerial assault capabilities are greatly exaggerated; or
    3 ISIL is particularly skilled at concealing armoured vehicles; or
    4 the US is lying about attacking tanks and armoured vehicles, actually attacking infantry forces, because attacking armoured vehicles makes a better press release; or
    5 the US is lying about attacking at all, providing cover for aerial assaults by Persian Gulf countries who would otherwise want to remain anonymous.

    Useless ramblings, of course, but I want to know what’s really going on down there.

  3. A little article for those who would like something more than the cowboys-and-Indians versions of what’s shaking (and BOOMing and collapsing, see apparent 2,000-lb JDAM explosion in opening video) in Kobane, there is this nice piece from Counterpunch:

    “The Battle for Kobani — A Civil War Without End,” link to counterpunch.org

    Pictures of Great Game Geopolitics in action: link to dailymail.co.uk

    “We” should be so very proud of what “we” have brought to pass with “our” Power Projection and Democratization…

  4. Awesome. When you have a 17th philosophy that shuns the 21th it has consequences. Modern western armies have learned the hard way that air power can be decisive. Once the guerilla army became the occupying force its changes it dynamics completely. It now must have a static army and long supply lines. The same weakness that the US had during its occupation. The same weakness that ISIS et al took advantage of before the US left. Pity the army that does not have some ability to protect itself from air attack. Unless its ISIS then they get what they deserve.

  5. Patrick Cockburn skirts around the question because he doesn’t know what will happen to ISIS if they are forced to retreat from Kobani? He changes the subject and starts talking about the Civil War in Iraq.

    Just a few weeks ago, everybody was talking about the imminent fall of Kobani. Erdogan was comparing the Kurds in Kobani to the terrorists in ISIS while he was busy letting them flow across the border into Syria.

    Things have changed dramatically since then. ISIS may be back on their heels in Kobani and Iraq. Why else would they have a public execution of young Sunni men in broad daylight? Why would ISIS risk a backlash among other Sunni tribes in Anbar province?

    They don’t have any friends.

Comments are closed.