YAIAR – Turkey’s Kobani dilemma

Turkey’s Kobani dilemmaTurkey has chosen to cooperate half-heartedly with the United States, allowing the peshmerga (armed Kurdish fighters of northern Iraq) to cross over using Turkish territory to join their kinsmen in order to defend the northern Syrian city of Ain al-Arab, called Kobani by the Kurds, against the fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).Until last week Turkey was using harsh language, not differentiating between ISIL and the Kurdish fighters of the Peopleand#39s Protection Units (YPG).

It considered both of them terrorist organizations, and said neither of them deserved any support from Turkey. However, after a telephone conversation between Turkish President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan and US President Barack Obama, Turkey adopted an attitude diametrically opposed to its former one, and agreed to allow the peshmerga to cross using its territory.

This is a welcome development, because a human tragedy is taking place in Kobani, which has been besieged by ISIL for about a month-and-a-half.Despite this positive step, President ErdoIan continued to use language belittling the US efforts to drop weapons to the Kurdish fighters in Kobani, highlighting that one of the bags fell into the hands of the ISIL fighters.

This is a clear sign that Turkey agreed under duress to the passage of the peshmergaAllowing the passage of the peshmerga is actually the least of the goodwill gestures that Turkey made since the beginning of the Kobani crisis, but it has its reasons to be hesitant about helping the YPG. Turkey is engaged in a settlement process that is aimed mainly at the recognition of the cultural identity of Turkeyand#39s Kurds.

This was going to be achieved in exchange for disarming the Kurdistan Workersand#39 Party (PKK) terrorist organization.This process is now going through a shaky period.

PKK militants last week killed three soldiers and a village guard that they had kidnapped two months ago. They also hijacked a military vehicle loaded with explosives.

Disarming the PKK fighters was to be done with a plan composed of steps to be taken simultaneously by the government and the Kurdish side. Both the government and the Kurdish leaders now blame each other for not abiding by the provisions of this agreement.

Since the details of the negotiations have never been made public, we do not know who did not abide by their promises. Furthermore, those who made the agreement with the government are not the same people as the people who are going to implement it.

Abdullah calan, the jailed leader of the PKK, sees that if the agreement is implemented in full, there is a possibility for him to be moved from the island prison where he is currently and put under house arrest, while the fighters in the field may be looking at the process from a different perspective. They may not see sufficient incentive for themselves in the implementation of the agreement.

Or they may be trying to use the present international climate that favors the promotion of the Kurdish cause Kurdish fighters are needed to fight ISIL and they are probably the best fighters to carry out this task, because ISIL is seriously threatening their own motherland and natural resources.At a time when the international community is in dire need of finding soldiers to fight ISIL, it will be difficult for Turkey to persuade the international community that Kurds should not be equipped with weapons.

This is one of the dilemmas that Turkey is faced with in Kobani. It fears that if Kurds grow stronger, whether in Turkey or in Syria, they may try to impose more unacceptable conditions on Turkey and that may lead to the collapse of the entire process, in which the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has invested a lot of effort and hope.

At a time when the international communityand#39s priority is moving in favor of keeping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his present position, at least until a workable alternative to his regime is found, Turkeyand#39s efforts to make the overthrow of the regime their first priority makes its task all the more difficult.Turkey has to find a way to get rid of its obsession with overthrowing the Assad regime in Syria before doing anything else and to revisit its Syria policy altogether.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman

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