How the strug­gle for Kobane trans­formed the re­gional dy­namic

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS -

re­gional dy­namic. Turkey has re­sisted in­ter­na­tional pres­sure to in­ter­vene in Kobane or al­low Kur­dish vol­un­teers from Turkey to en­ter, la­belling the Demo­cratic Union Party (PYD) as a "ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion" that it sees as no dif­fer­ent to the PKK or in­deed the IS.

Turkey has re­peated this rhetoric whilst con­versely US mil­i­tary as­sis­tance and com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels to the Syr­ian Kurds have rapidly in­creased.

US mea­sures have con­tra­dicted the Turk­ish line, with the US clearly see­ing the Syr­ian Kurds as key al­lies in the bat­tle against IS and hardly as a ter­ror­ist force.

At the same time, Turkey has tried to strike agree­ment with the Kurds to al­low Free Syr­ian Army (FSA) to en­ter Kobane, even as it op­posed the hun­dreds of Kur­dish vol­un­teers from join­ing the fight. Align­ing the FSA in a more of­fi­cial ca­pac­ity in Kobane, would di­lute the sense of Kur­dish na­tion­al­ist strug­gle for Kobane and Ro­java and also soften the ris­ing stock of the PKK.

Turkey has worked hard to pres­sure the PYD to join the FSA to turn the bat­tle as a Syr­ian na­tional strug­gle with the wider goal of oust­ing Bashar al-As­sad. Iron­i­cally, a Kur­dish dom­i­nated win in Kobane, will only strengthen Kur­dish na­tion­al­ism, the stand­ing of the PKK and Kur­dish au­ton­omy, not to men­tion the piv­otal role of the Syr­ian Kurds in the bat­tle against IS across Syria. This is the same fate that Ankara has tried to avoid.

As the US has grown closer to the Syr­ian Kurds, Ankara, in dan­ger of been iso­lated un­der in­tense in­ter­na­tional spot­light, al­lowed Iraqi Kur­dish Pesh­merga forces a pas­sage through Turkey to support Kobane.

This week the Kur­dis­tan re­gional par­lia­ment ap­proved the de­ploy­ment of up to 200 fight­ers. Th­ese fight­ers will pro­vide key support to strained YPG forces but is also a sym­bolic move by the Kur­dis­tan lead­er­ship to bol­ster cross­bor­der Kur­dish unity. For Turkey, hav­ing FSA and Pesh­merga forces on the ground, al­le­vi­ates it from an em­bar­rass­ing sit­u­a­tion of pro­vid­ing de-facto as­sis­tance to the Syr­ian Kur­dish forces, even as they are la­belled as a ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion and ul­ti­mately as an en­emy. A key move on the back of the decision to de­ploy Pesh­merga fight­ers this week was the unity agree­ment ne­go­ti­ated in days of talks in Do­huk be­tween the PYD and ri­val Syr­ian Kur­dish fac­tions. The split be­tween pro-PKK and proKRG Kur­dish par­ties in Syria had se­verely hand­i­capped the Kur­dish strug­gle and their new­found au­ton­omy.

Kur­dis­tan pres­i­dent Mas­soud Barzani hailed the agree­ment, "This agree­ment brings us to­gether and it­self is a sig­nif­i­cant an­swer to en­e­mies who did not in­tend the Kurds to be united." While PYD leader, Salih Mus­lim, stated that “All Kur­dish peo­ple are un­der at­tack, so they should be united.”

Pre­vi­ous unity

agree- ments have quickly bro­ken down and if it sticks this time around, it will serve as a ma­jor boost for the Syr­ian Kur­dish can­tons and per­haps in the way Ankara ap­proaches the re­gion.

Such is the in­tense in­ter­na­tional fo­cus on Kobane and the sym­bol of the fight against IS that even the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment has been quick to stake their part in the strug­gle, al­leg­ing mil­i­tary and lo­gis­ti­cal support to Kurds in Kobane.

Who­ever thought that a small dusty town, un­known to much of the wider world, would bring to­gether the Syr­ian Kurds, Iraqi Kurds, Turkey, IS, FSA, As­sad, the US, Saudi Ara­bia and nu­mer­ous other in­ter­na­tional and re­gional play­ers?

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