Almost a thousand armed Turkish Kurds have entered Syria to rescue the Syrian Kurdish city of Korbane from ISIS militants. The AFP reports:
“At least 800 Kurdish fighters crossed the Turkish-Syrian border to help their comrades in Ain al-Arab (Kobane in Kurdish), which is under total siege by Islamic State jihadists,” Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
A Kurdish Syrian activist said the flow of fighters came as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), blacklisted in Turkey as a terrorist organisation, gave orders for Kurdish fighters to move to protect Kobane.
“Fighters started going into Kobane from Turkey some four or five days ago,” said Havidar, who goes by only one name.
“But the latest entry, last night, came after orders from the higher leadership of the PKK. Last night, there were celebrations in Kobane — fighters were firing into the air as they arrived in the town,” he told AFP.
Turkey’s Prime Minister, Tayyip Recep Erdogan, recently moved to end the decades-old strife between Ankara and Turkey’s ethnic Kurds. And as Adam Garfinkle noted at the very start of the Syrian conflict, Turkey has long been anxious to get a better hold on events in Syria, to the point of supposedly offering to send in troops—an offer the Obama Administration turned down. Despite upping some border patrols, Ankara has been far quieter in response to this news than one would expect.Meanwhile, rapprochement continues with Iraqi Kurdistan. The President of Iraqi Kurdistan, Masoud Barzani, was in Ankara for talks with Erdogan and Turkish President Abdullah Gul today. They discussed both the oil trade and Iraqi Kurdish independence, with Turkey continuing to take a cautious but not disapproving line.As a recent analysis in the Financial Times points out, any independent Kurdistan would be heavily dependent on Turkey, both to export its oil and to import the majority of its food. Ankara must see the advantages of this scenario, while the Kurds clearly view this situation as preferable to staying in a chaotic Iraq.War, even more than politics, makes strange bedfellows. Turkey’s embrace of Kurdish independence seemed surprising as the mess in Iraq began to unfold. But taking these bits of news together, perhaps it should not have been: a friendly Kurdish buffer state to Turkey’s south is surely better than the alternatives.