If you have been following the story, there may be as many as 40,000 Kurds, residents and refugees, on the city of Kobane. They are just a few hundred yards from the Turkish border but effectively surrounded by ISIS fighters.
The situation in Kobane is dire:
The UN envoy for Syria has urged the international community to act to prevent the “rape and massacre” of Kobane, as US-led air attacks failed to stop ISIL storming the Kurdish-Syrian town.
Staffan de Mistura said on Tuesday that Kobane faced horrific violence under ISIL. “The world has seen what happens when a city is overtaken by the terrorist group: massacres, humanitarian tragedies, rapes, horrific violence,” he said.
“The international community cannot sustain another city falling under [ISIL]. What is needed now is concrete action. The world – all of us – will regret deeply if ISIL is able to take over. We need to act now.”
His comments came as ISIL continued its advance on the city, seemingly unhindered by air attacks by a US-led coalition. The black flag of the armed group was raised over three districts in the east of Kobane after fierce battles with its Syrian-Kurdish defenders.
The town is virtually on the Turkish border. We are launching airstrikes into Syria. What is the problem? How can this be happening.
When Obama embarked on his current ill-considered adventure in Iraq and Syria he decided he needed a coalition. Because President Bush. It isn’t that the coalition partners are actually able to contribute anything of value in the combat power arena but Obama needed a coalition and the regional coalition members all have interests at stake in Iraq and Syria. Never mind that those members, until lately, either directly or indirectly aided ISIS. As I noted in Obama Assembles Coalition of the Useless to Fight ISIS:
Only one Muslim nation, Turkey, is represented and based on their pro-ISIS actions to date one presumes they signed on more to ensure they are in the loop on decisions and have some degree of veto over US actions.
Because we assembled a coalition that is in equal parts useless and needless we are now harnessed to the regional ambitions of those coalition partners.
At the October 6 daily press gaggle at the State Department, spokescreature Jen Psaki was put on the spot by a Kurdish reporter. That isn’t hard. If you recall Psaki claimed that Hamas was not a part of the Palestinian Authority (they are) and tried to liberate Ukraine via a Twitter hashtag campaign. Belittling her has apparently ascended to the level of a spectator sport in Russia, there is rumor it may be an Olympic event in Rio de Janeiro.
QUESTION: My question is about the advance of ISIS towards Kobani. My – this question might be more for your colleagues at the Pentagon, but it’s related to the broader Obama strategy.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Over the past 24 hours, we’ve seen only one strike, according to the Central Command, around Kobani. I don’t really understand why there hasn’t been more attacks while large numbers of ISIS fighters are closing in on Kobani. And according to CNN and some other American media reports, they have raised the American flag – the – sorry, Islamic flag over some buildings inside Kobani. Why hasn’t been there more strikes?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I know we have this exchange kind of every single day, which is absolutely fine, but you’re talking about one strike in the last 24 hours. That was the update, you’re right, that came from CENTCOM. There were – that strike destroyed two ISIL fighting positions south of Kobani. Other recent strikes have hit two modular oil refineries, an ISIL training camp, an ISIL-occupied building. So this is an ongoing effort.
QUESTION: They’re not around Kobani, those refineries.
MS. PSAKI: It’s an ongoing effort around – in the same part of the country. I would refer you to DOD for more about their military strategy, but obviously this is something where we’ve long said from the beginning that this would take some time. We’re working closely to do everything we can to help push back ISIL in this part of the country, but again, I don’t have any other military updates from here.
QUESTION: When I talked to – on a daily basis I talk to Kurdish people, Kurdish rebels even, Kurdish politicians on the ground in Syria. They have a different perspective. They say, well, Turkey is now trying to do America’s bid in the country when it comes to ISIS attacks on Kobani, and Turkey yesterday invited Salih Muslim, who is the leader of the Kurdish party, to reach some sort of deal with Turkish intelligence. So are you waiting for Turkey to reach a deal with the Kurdish rebels? That’s why you’re not —
MS. PSAKI: I think we haven’t – clearly we haven’t held back from our own military airstrikes in this regard. There are a range of other countries who have also participated in the last couple of days in strikes in Syria. I don’t have any other update for you.
QUESTION: Just one more thing, Jen. It’s clearly, like, obvious that – I mean, President Obama on the eve of 9/11 said the strategy was to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIS. We’ve seen ISIS been degraded in Iraq, but we’ve seen ISIS advancing in Syria. Can we say there are flaws in President Obama’s strategy?
MS. PSAKI: I would not say that. You’re right that the Iraqi Security Forces have certainly pushed back and they have been able to hold and even regain some areas. The efforts that have been underway in Syria have been not – have not been happening as long. I think DOD has addressed some of our strategy, so let me reiterate some of what they’ve said – that the initial round of strikes in Syria had fixed targets, such as command and control nodes, finance centers, training camps and oil refineries. Those kind of strikes will continue. Targeting in Syria is also evolving beyond fixed facilities and also includes more dynamic targeting of a tactical nature, such as vehicles, armored vehicles, convoys.
One airstrike. In the words of Psaki, it was “in the same part of the country.” I’m sure that is a great answer in Foggy Bottom, but to Kurdish fighters and their families it is a lot less than helpful. The fact is that no target list is so firm that it can’t be adjusted and when you are looking at a total of one mission being flown against ISiS targets in Syria, it is obvious that either ISIS doesn’t have targets worth hitting in the class Psaki refers to or we can’t find them.
The official policy of this administration embraces the idea of Responsibility to Protect, or R2P. Personally, I think it is nuts but it is how we got involved in Libya and why we decided Syria’s Assad had to go. It is why we used airstrikes and humanitarian relief flights to aid Iraqi Yazidi. The situation in Kobane is just as dire as that involving the Yazidi, there are more people in Kobane than the Yazidi enclave, and Kobane has strategic value. Why, then,
Turkey and the Kurds have a long and unhappy history. There are some 12-15 million Kurds in Turkey. Turkey has been opposed to the creation of a Kurdistan in Iraq for fear Turkish Kurds, which until recently were the object of very oppressive laws, would wish to join. Turkey has acquiesced to the presence of an autonomous or independent Kurdistan in Iraq but is not all that happy about the same thing happening in Syria.
Equally, Turkey remains as wary of the Kurdish-nationalist militias defending the besieged town as it is of IS itself.
The Democratic Union Party (PYD), an armed organization that has run northeastern Syria’s Kurdish populated region as an autonomous enclave since the Assad regime withdrew in 2012, has close links to the PKK, the Kurdish rebel group that has fought a 30-year-long insurgency for greater Kurdish autonomy in Turkey and is regarded by Ankara as a terrorist group.
“Turkey is more than happy that the semi-autonomy declared by Syria’s Kurds is being demolished by the so-called Islamic State,” says Cengiz Aktar, a political scientist at Istanbul’s Suleyman Sah University.
Earlier this week, intelligence officials in Ankara were visited by the PYD’s leader, Salih Muslim. But they told him that Turkish assistance would only come in return for the PYD abandoning all demands of autonomy, and ending its alleged ties with the Assad regime.
As Robert Zubrin pointed out in National Review:
According to Kurdish sources, the Turks are massing troops on their own side of the border, with the apparent plan being to sit in place and allow the Kurds to be exterminated, and then move in to take over the region once they are gone. This is the same plan as Josef Stalin used when he allowed the Nazis to wipe out the Polish underground during the Warsaw rising of 1944, and only afterward sent in the Red Army to take control of what was left of the city. If anything, it is even more morally reprehensible, since it could be pointed out in Stalin’s defense that his forces were at least pummeling the enemy elsewhere while the Warsaw fight was under way. In contrast, the Turks are doing nothing of the sort. For an American administration to collude in such a mass atrocity is infamous.
Of course the administration is feigning outrage as the story gets attention:
Secretary of State [mc_name name=’Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’K000148′ ] has had multiple phone calls in the last 72 hours with Turkey’s prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, and foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, to try to resolve the border crisis, American officials said.
For Mr. Obama, a split with Turkey would jeopardize his efforts to hold together a coalition of Sunni Muslim countries to fight the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. While Turkey is not the only country that might put the ouster of Mr. Assad ahead of defeating the radical Sunnis of the Islamic State, the White House has strongly argued that the immediate threat is from the militants.
But if Turkey remains a holdout, it could cause other fissures in the coalition. It is not only a NATO ally but the main transit route for foreigners seeking to enlist in the ranks of the Islamic State.
But when read in the context of Psaki’s “don’t worry, be happy, our one airstrike was in the same part of the country” briefing from Monday, it is obvious that this is just a total fabrication.
Obama Will Kill You
One of the things we have learned about Barack Obama is that he’s not particularly averse to breaking however many eggs it takes to make a particular omelet. In his criminal gunwalking campaign, Fast and Furious, several hundred Mexicans and at least one US Border Patrol agent were killed in a deliberate effort to create gun violence along our border with Mexico and so justify the regulation of firearms. Obama has signed the Turks onto this venture and to keep them involved killing a few thousand Kurds is a small price to pay.