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Turkey, Kobani, and American Excuses

American officials are in high dudgeon about Turkey’s inaction to prevent the imminent fall of Kobani, a Kurdish-populated town in northern Syria, to the black-clad fanatics of ISIS. Given that Kobani is right across the border with Turkey, Ankara could presumably save the town simply by rolling its army across the frontier. But this President Erdogan refuses to do, even as ISIS edges closer to the center of town.

Why isn’t he doing more? Partly it’s because he doesn’t want to collaborate with the Syrian version of the PKK, a Kurdish terrorist group which has battled the Turkish state for years. But partly it’s also because he doesn’t think there is any point in intervening against ISIS as long as President Obama isn’t willing to attack the root cause of the Syrian civil war–the Bashar Assad regime.

Erdogan deserves all the opprobrium he is getting for his inaction but, as the Washington Post editorialists astutely note, the U.S. doesn’t have the high moral ground here. The U.S., they write, “is poorly placed to pass judgment, having stood aside for more than three years while 200,000 Syrians died, most at the hands of the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Another 3 million have become refugees, including 1 million who have alighted in Turkey — which, adjusting for population, would be the equivalent for the United States of more than 4 million Mexicans streaming across the border.”

Moreover, the Obama administration is still refusing to create a no-fly zone over Syria as Erdogan and the moderate Syrian opposition are urging. This American failure is allowing Assad to take advantage of the anti-ISIS campaign the U.S. is conducting to focus his attacks on western parts of Syria which are held by the moderate opposition.

Instead of pointing fingers at Erdogan, American policymakers would be better advised to act on his advice to stop Assad as well as ISIS.



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2 Responses to “Turkey, Kobani, and American Excuses”

  1. MARC SALZBERGER says:

    The US may have the moral low ground on Kobane, if it is true, as Michael Rubin noted on October 3, that the president was supervising our every strike in Syria and US air support was going everywhere except to that embattled town.

    According to Aaron Stein, of the Royal United Services Institute, on Oct 3, “What is odd is that ISIS artillery positions seem exposed and easy to hit, yet the strikes have been so few.”

    Finally on Monday, Oct 6, after two weeks of ISIL closing in, ome coalition help seems to have been alloted Kobane. But too late to stop ISIL elements from entering the place.

    More recent air support seems to have turned them back.

  2. RICH KIME says:

    Wow! 4 million Mexicans over our border? What would that be like? It’s hard to imagine but I’ll try to do it anyway. If 7 million of the 11 million Mexicans here illegally right now went back to Mexico…..

    [counting in my head: 11 million minus 7 million is…….] Yes, that would still leave 4 million Mexicans who had come across our border.

    Yeah, it’s not working, I can’t imagine it. But it is a pleasant thought at least.




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