Can the Peshmerga stop ISIL? - İBRAHIM KARAGÜL

Can the Peshmerga stop ISIL?

Kobane has become a war over a symbol. It has turned into a war of lies and propaganda despite being of little value in terms of military strategy or the fight over control in Syria.

Public opinion about Kobane is being formed through the personal settling of differences, intellectual caprices and salvoes, attempting to pass the blame onto others, analyses that don’t exceed the level of social media, and boastfulness.

It is really saddening that our perception on the Iraq and Syria wars has reached these levels. This war between organizations has blinded us and clouded our minds.

The masses have been taken captive by the Middle Eastern/Arab media’s disinformation campaign undertaken to counter the anti-ISIL disinformation campaign being carried out by Western, Iranian and Kurdish media. The experts closely following events in the region and writers with big words about the region have had a serious impact as part of this disinformation campaign.

Hence not many people have paid any thought to what Kobane is really about, what reality lies behind this small city, and how this war is being transformed into a regional war. The truth has been sacrificed to the propaganda wars and everyone is in a race to adopt a different position on a daily basis. In the atmosphere that has been created what is more important is who shouts the loudest and whose articles are read more.

Kobane has surpassed in importance the deaths of hundreds of thousands in Syria. It has surpassed in importance the renewed civil war in Iraq. It is as if it isn’t a war between ISIL and the PYD, (Democratic Union Party, the Syrian affiliate of the PKK) but a war between states and a fight for influence and power. The deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, attacks that take the lives of tens of people, children that go missing in Syria, and major cities changing hands, have all been placed in the shadow of Kobane. Most importantly, the future of Iraq, Syria, and the direction the region is being dragged toward, doesn’t seem to matter as much as Kobane.

Don’t you find something strange about all this?

It is necessary to properly understand how it comes about that the entire world takes a stance, chooses sides, and prepares for war over a tiny piece of land, far exceeding anything done with regard to Syria and Iraq.


A city that would normally change hands in a few days or weeks at most is being bombed and experiencing clashes for weeks now. Countries have formed an anti-ISIL coalition but it can’t be driven out of Kobane. The PYD is receiving all kinds of support, weapons are being sent to it, its wounded are being treated, U.S. planes are heavily bombing ISIL areas to make it easy for them, but nothing is changing.

Now support has also arrived from the Free Syrian Army. Barzani’s units have also come from northern Iraq with heavy weaponry. They passed into Kobane through Turkey amid great fanfare. Let us see what result all this will have? Based on these images, the Kobane war should end in a few days given the passion on display and the military supplies that were part of that convoy. However, when one considers the progress made by ISIL in Iraq and that it was only through U.S. air attacks that the organization’s march toward Arbil was halted, it might not prove to be that easy.

Let us cast a look back at those days: After ISIL took over Mosul without facing any resistance, it continued its speedy progress toward Arbil. People had already started fleeing Arbil. Apart from a few clashes between ISIL and the Peshmerga there was never any real war. Perhaps the most serious war will be fought in Kobane. We will find out in a few days how that will turn out.

Regardless of what happens, what is important for us is to prevent the drawing up of scenarios that will target Turkey’s stability and the preparation of regional scenarios under the pretext of Kobane. Those that sent the vandals out into the streets and created such ugly scenes in Turkey want that war to drag on.

For the moment the plan to restart the Turk-Kurd conflict by issuing orders to their proxies has come to nothing. The plan was that the PKK and HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) would mindlessly create a bloodbath in the country due to their support of the PYD and would render the reconciliation process meaningless. The scenario that envisioned transporting the PYD-ISIL war to Turkey failed to materialize. However, the call made by Selahattin Demirtaş regarding Nov. 1 could be a move to reignite that fire. If that is what happens then Demirtaş will be the one who bears the principal responsibility.


We are witnessing operations to rebalance power as part of the PKK and PYD’s clash against ISIL. It is due to this that the PKK and PYD opposed the passage of Free Syrian Army and Peshmerga units to the area. They think their sphere of influence will be reduced and other forces will become effective in the area.

The PKK and PYD want the Kobane war to continue. An emotionally charged atmosphere has been generated on the pretext of Kobane so that they can influence the masses, lure them into action, and gain power through clashes and tensions. If ISIL withdraws or is forced out of the city that means a victory for the PYD. If it doesn’t withdraw and clashes continue, Kurdish nationalism will be kept alive on the basis of this war.

This war needs to end, or be brought to an end, immediately. Because Kobane rather than being an internal Syrian affair, has been transformed into a Turkish issue. The PYD and some countries, which are showing such sensitivity toward Kobane while not a peep emerged from them while hundreds of people died in Syria, are implementing the same strategy. Those countries are not concerned about a place called Syria. Their issue is Turkey. This is why Turkey needs to end this war and find ways to somehow bring this situation under control. It should also bear in mind the possibility that it might not achieve a result through the Peshmerga.

Turkey is currently implementing the correct policies. If we say that both the PYD and ISIL are terrorist organizations then we are compelled to not allow these two organizations to take Turkey hostage and corner it into a narrow space. Making a choice between one of those two organizations will invite a host of different problems and open the door to serious crises in the future.

There is a single way forward: To announce a safe zone in some areas of Syria, including Kobane, citing realities on the ground and without waiting for international procedures to be completed. This is because it is from those borders and those regions that Turkey is facing serious and close danger. The fact that there are hundreds of thousands of refugees is enough to provide legitimacy to this operation.

Kobane should be considered as a model for a safe zone.


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