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Turkey agrees to allow Peshmerga from Iraq into Kobane
by S
Tuesday Oct 21st, 2014 10:53 AM
Turkey to allow Kurdish PUK troops from Iraq to pass Turkey and enter Kobane. YPG is not asking for this support. Indeed, it may turn into an occupation of revolutionary Kobane after ISIL has been kicked out, since Iraqi Kurdish PUK is not as left-leaning and democratic as the YPG. Kurdish militias in Iraq are unfortunately not revolutionary, which is why they enjoy endless US and EU support. PUK: Kurdish Patriotic Union.
“Opening a passage for the pesh merga creates the impression that Turkey has changed its stance, and is on board with the coalition against ISIS,” said Halil M. Karaveli, an expert on Turkey and a senior fellow at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute in Stockholm. “But this move is actually in Turkey’s own interests.” Mr. Karaveli said the pesh merga would counterbalance the Kurdish groups in Kobani that Turkey opposes.


Uh oh...


http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/21/world/middleeast/kobani-turkey-kurdish-fighters-syria.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=LedeSum&module=first-column-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=1





Turkey to Let Iraqi Kurds Cross to Syria to Fight ISIS

By KAREEM FAHIM and KARAM SHOUMALIOCT. 20, 2014

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An explosion in Kobani, Syria. Turkey said it would let Iraqi Kurds cross into Syria to fight the Islamic State there. Credit Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images
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MURSITPINAR, Turkey — Turkey will allow Iraqi Kurdish forces, known as pesh merga, to cross its border with Syria to help fight militants from the group called the Islamic State who have besieged the Syrian town of Kobani for more than a month, the Turkish foreign minister announced Monday.

The decision represents an important shift by the Turkish government, which has angered Kurdish leaders and frustrated Washington for weeks by refusing to allow fighters or weapons to cross its border in support of the Kurdish fighters defending the town. Speaking at a news conference in Ankara, the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said that his government was “helping the pesh merga cross over to Kobani.”
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The announcement, along with an American decision to use military aircraft to drop ammunition and small arms to resupply Kobani, reflected escalating international pressure to push back Islamic State militants. As the United States-led coalition has increased its airstrikes as well as its coordination with the Kurdish fighters, who have provided targeting information, the militants have lost momentum after appearing close to overrunning the town.
Photo
Syrian Kurds on Monday trying to spot a relative who is fighting Islamic State jihadists in the Syrian border town of Kobani. Credit Bulent Kilic/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The battle has become a closely watched test for the Obama administration’s policy of combining air power with reliance on local forces on the ground to fight the militant group in Iraq and in Syria. At the same time, the American effort has been criticized — including by the Turks — as too selective and ineffective in stopping the suffering of other cities, under bombardment by the Syrian government or menaced by militants, in a war that has killed more than 200,000 Syrians.

The Turks’ refusal to allow large amounts of military aid to flow to the defenders of Kobani has also raised tensions across Turkey, where Kurds have accused the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of abandoning the city to the militants of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Turkey has been reluctant to empower the Kurdish fighters in Kobani, who are affiliated with the Kurdish Workers’ Party, or P.K.K. That group has fought a three-decade war against the Turkish government, though there have been peace talks for the last year and a half. Turkey, along with the United States and the European Union, considers the group a terrorist organization.

As recently as Sunday, Mr. Erdogan had said he would not agree to any American arms transfers to Kurdish fighters in Kobani, whom he called “equal” to the P.K.K., according to the semiofficial Anadolu news agency.

“It would be wrong for the United States, with whom we are friends and allies in NATO, to talk openly and expect us to say yes to such a support to a terrorist organization,” Mr. Erdogan said.
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Featured Comment
Oli
London

Better late than never, I guess! Still a P.R. and foreign policy disaster for Turkey.

280 Comments
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The decision to permit fighters aligned with different Iraqi Kurdish factions — groups that are aligned with Turkey — to join the battle in Kobani allows Mr. Erdogan to maintain his stance against the P.K.K. while addressing some of the criticism of his policy.

“Opening a passage for the pesh merga creates the impression that Turkey has changed its stance, and is on board with the coalition against ISIS,” said Halil M. Karaveli, an expert on Turkey and a senior fellow at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute in Stockholm. “But this move is actually in Turkey’s own interests.” Mr. Karaveli said the pesh merga would counterbalance the Kurdish groups in Kobani that Turkey opposes.
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Turkish Official on Pesh Merga in Kobani
Turkish Official on Pesh Merga in Kobani

The Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said his government was helping Iraqi Kurdish forces “cross over to Kobani” to aid Syrian Kurds defending the town against Islamic State militants.
Publish Date October 20, 2014. Photo by Adem Altan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images.

Turkey’s decision also suggested that it had quietly agreed to the United States’ decision to airdrop weapons and ammunition to Kobani’s defenders.

Mr. Obama spoke with Mr. Erdogan on Saturday, and notified him of the decision to conduct the airdrops, American officials said. It was not clear what kind of deal had been struck, though analysts said Turkey probably wanted assurances that the supplies would not be used by the P.K.K. against Turkey.

American officials speaking on a conference call with reporters late Sunday declined to characterize Turkey’s reaction to the airdrops. They said the Obama administration had “made clear to the Turkish government for some days now the urgency of facilitating resupply,” a senior official said on the call, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in Jakarta, Indonesia, said the Obama administration approved the airdrop because it would have been “irresponsible” and “morally very difficult” to fail to support the Kurdish fighters in a “crisis moment,” The Associated Press reported.

He acknowledged the pressures facing Turkey, but defended the focus on Kobani.

“Let me say very respectfully to our allies the Turks that we understand fully the fundamentals of their opposition, and ours, to any kind of terrorist group, and particularly, obviously, the challenges they face with respect to the P.K.K.,” Mr. Kerry said. “But we have undertaken a coalition effort to degrade and destroy ISIL, and ISIL is presenting itself in major numbers in this place called Kobani.”

Kurdish fighters, backed by an intensifying campaign of airstrikes by the United States-led military coalition, succeeded last week in pushing the militants back in several places around Kobani, including in the west of the city. The militants counterattacked, sending car bombs to Kobani and harassing their opponents with heavy mortar fire over the last few days.



The US administration and the NY Times readers should not forget to make a clear distinction between Turkey a stable and dependable secular...



Kurdish officials had repeatedly complained that without new supplies of ammunition and weapons, the airstrikes would not be sufficient to drive away the militants. On Monday, a commander in Kobani, Abu Hasan, said that “spirits and morale were high,” after the airdrops, which United States officials said included 27 pallets from Iraqi Kurdish authorities and contained medical supplies, ammunition and weapons.

The containers fell to the west of Kobani about 4 a.m. local time, he said, adding that one pallet that fell astray was destroyed to prevent it from falling into militant hands.

Polat Can, a spokesman for the Kurdish fighters in Syria, said that shipment included antitank weapons. He said that the Kurdish forces were expecting more airdrops in the coming days.

There was less visible fighting in the city during the day. In the afternoon, fires started appearing to the east of the city, an area still partly controlled by Islamic State fighters, and residents fretted that the militants were torching homes.

Mr. Cavusoglu did not say how or when the pesh merga fighters would cross into Kobani. Late Monday, Hemin Hawrami, an Iraqi Kurdish official, wrote on Twitter that the fighters had been ordered to deploy in the next 48 hours.

A senior Pentagon official said on Monday, speaking on the condition of anonymity, that “it will be a significant change to be able to have a free flow of fighters going into Kobani.”

A Kurdish defense official in Kobani, Ismet Sheikh Hassan said he had not been given any information about when the pesh merga would arrive. He welcomed the influx, while asserting that the Kurdish fighters already in the city — members of the People’s Protection Forces, the Y.P.G. — were not desperate for more fighters.

“We are short on ammunition and weapons,” he said “not on human power.”

But Mohamed Arif Ali, a doctor working in Kobani, said that the arrival of even a few pesh merga fighters was symbolically important, and would bolster Kurdish unity. “It means a lot to the civilians and fighters,” he said. “They are not left alone facing ISIS.”

Ceylan Yeginsu contributed reporting from Istanbul, and Eric Schmitt from Washington.
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