Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Battle for Kobani: Turkey's actions have revealed that it is pursuing its own contradictory political agenda

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014   No comments

Just a few kilometers away from the Turkish border, the war is raging. In the Kurdish city of Kobani, US jets bomb Islamic State positions while the town's last defenders, equipped with more grit than guns, fight the jihadists on the ground .

As the Turkish army impassively watches the deadly battle from its side of the boundary with Syria, it has opened its own mini-front on the outskirts of Suruç, a Turkish border city. A young policeman, his finger on the trigger of his automatic weapon, stands in front of the town's sports club, a second officer next to him holding a grenade launcher for tear-gas cartridges. Behind them are two dozen soldiers and policemen, and armored vehicles bearing mounted machine guns and crates of ammunition.

Since Oct. 6, the jittery unit has been detaining a number of Kurdish civilians who fled across the border from Kobani. In the beginning, they numbered 160 -- most of them were young men, though there were also women and children. The guards in front of the gate are not allowed to say why the civilians are being held and they point their weapons at everyone who approaches.

Suddenly, a group of boys from a local team appears. A boy of about 10 explains that they're arriving for weekly soccer practice, held on the field next to the gymnasium. A man in uniform searches through their gym bags, one after the other, while the others look on nervously.

The scene is prosaic and absurd. But it is, for that very reason, symbolic of what is taking place on the Turkish side of the border these days. The fight for Kobani -- which, thanks to its proximity to the border, is being filmed and watched around the world in real time -- is no longer exclusively about control of the city. The desperate defense mounted by the Kurds embodies their decades-long struggle for an independent country.

Kobani was a city where a Kurdish government sprouted and flourished, a fulfillment of dreams in miniature. Now that the city is being threatened with destruction by Islamic State Ankara is doing nothing to prevent it, and thus putting the future of Turkish-Kurdish reconciliation in danger -- and domestic peace along with it.

Incomparable Triumph

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Ed Isr

About Ed Isr

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