|Down To the Last Kurd|
by Dr. Mordechai Kedar
The battle over the Kurdish city of Kobane in northern Syria has become a point of convergence for all the forces currently on the stage in the Middle Eastern arena: Radical Islamists are represented by "Islamic State", failed states by Syria, backers by Qatar, hypocrites by Turkey, angry nations by the USA and anxious ones by Lebanon, Jordan and Israel.
Radical Islam is gaining more and more power as "Islamic State" succeeds in pushing city after village, fortress after army base, under the wheels of its jeeps. Kobane, a Kurdish-Syrian city on the Turkish border, refused to join "Islamic State", so its residents were duly sentenced to the usual punishment: massacre for the males and the slave markets for the females. The Kurds, however, did not accept that verdict and are fighting bravely, down to the last [Kurdish] man.
Assad's regime calls the city "Ayn Al-Arab", but the Kurds call it "Ayn Al-Kurd". This difference in names is not simply semantic; it expresses the struggle between Assad and the Kurds. He wants an Arab Syria that ignores Kurdish identity, but the Kurds want an independent area, if not an independent state – this at the expense of Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran.
Assad abandoned the Kurds to their fate in order to teach them a lesson, and as far as he is concerned, they can be butchered down to the last man.
The Turkish government headed by President Erdogan and Prime Minister Davutoglu, wants to teach the Kurds a lesson as well, to the tune of "You wanted a Kurdish entity, you got Islamic State".
Except that the 200,000 Kurds who fled to Turkey last month, added to the 15 million Turkish Kurds already there, are not willing to see their Kobane brothers butchered and sold as slaves while the large and powerful Turkish army stands within touching distance and doesn't lift a finger.
Tens of Kurds were killed by police in demonstrations organized by Kurds in Turkey to protest Turkish indifference at what is going on in Kobane, and the Turkish police – if they but could - would be happy to participate in the elimination of the Kurds, down to the last man.
Obama bases his Middle Eastern foreign policy on ground operations carried out by local allies while the US and Western involvement is expressed by bombing from the air. This is the way he wants to defeat "Islamic State". He is even willing to ease nuclear demands on Iran to get it to send arms and weapons to the Kurds, allowing them to defend themselves.
The Kurds accuse America of waiting for three years to take action in Syria – they feel that the source of the problem is Assad and that international indifference to the Syrian rebellion led to a slow death for the Syrian regime that allowed "Islamic State" to get stronger, as well as accumulate weapons, money and fighters in order to eliminate the Kurds, down to the last man.
Obama is angry at honorary NATO member Erdogan - who did not permit NATO to use his territory as a corridor - for his lack of concern about "Islamic State" and his indifference towards the sad fate of the people of Kobane. But Obama is afraid to open his mouth for fear that Erdogan will demand an apology from him, as he did - and duly received - from US Vice President Joe Biden.
Washington trembles for fear that the temperamental Turk will demand that the US close Incirlik air base, the center of American military presence in a region that includes Russia and Ukraine, in addition to the problem of the last of the Kurds.
"Islamic State" is working together with Jabhat al-Nusra, an al Qaeda branch, in order to keep the pledge that "after it destroys the rat from Damascus, it will do the same for the mouse in Beirut". Hezbollah is desperately attempting to stem the tide, but the battle is creeping closer and closer to Lebanon.
The Lebanese town of Arsal on the Syrian-Lebanese border has been serving, for several months now, as a battleground between Jihadist Sunnis of "Islamic State" joined by Jabhat al Nusra on the one side and Hezbollah Jihadist Shiites trying with all their might to prevent the war from spilling over into Lebanon, on the other. Kobane's bravery encouraged Hezbollah, but its impending fall makes Nasrallah fear that his fate will be the same as that of the last of the Kurds.
Jordan has joined the air operation against "Islamic State" but is concerned about possible revenge. It closed its border with Syria to refugees a week ago, for fear that "Islamic State" would infiltrate Jordan disguised as refugees and then open an internal front against the regime. Except that this horse has already escaped the stable: among the 600,000 Syrian refugees already in Jordan there are surely more than a few who identify with "Islamic State". The Jordanian Secret Service has already conducted arrests among them, hoping that the Jordanian government doesn't suddenly find itself fighting for survival like the last of the Kurds.
Qatar is attempting to downplay its support for "Islamic Sate", by transferring its funds to the organization by way of private Qataris. This support exists for two reasons:
First and foremost, identification with the "Islamic State" goal of ruling the entire world through Islam in its pure and unadulterated form and second, the acquisition of an insurance policy against the threat and attacks of "Islamic State". In Mafia lingo, this is called "protection money".
Israel is worried, that is true, by the Facebook protest at the price of milky yoghurts and by the love Israelis have lately been evincing for Berlin through that social media, but also by the stability level of the Jordanian regime, Hezbollah's two deliberate attacks last week, Jabhat al Nusra's cooperation with "Islamic State" (the former being right opposite Israel's Golan Heights), by the first signs of "Islamic State" in Gaza and the Sinai – as well as among Israeli Arabs, twenty of whom have gone to the Jihad fields of Syria and Iraq. Some are already receiving rewards in Paradise for their blessed efforts for "Islamic State" and against the last of the Kurds
All the actors in the region are waiting to see the fate of Kobane. Each side will draw conclusions from its fall or survival. There have never been so many sides observing – for such a long period - a fateful battle with such far reaching results.
I wish the valiant Kurdish fighters every success, down to the last man.
Written for Arutz Sheva, translated from the Hebrew by Rochel Sylvetsky