First ISIS destroys Kobane and then Turkey can save it?

AFP reports that Turkey’s President Erdogan says Kobane is “about to fall” and that a ground operation is needed to defeat ISIS.

Of course Kurdish forces are already in the midst of a valiant ground operation — they just haven’t received the support they need.

Thus far, Turkey has appeared resolute in its military inaction as its armored forces have quietly watched ISIS advance on Kobane. Likewise, until the last few hours, U.S. airstrikes have been minimal.

An explanation of U.S. objectives with ISIS was provided by an official who said: “We’re not trying to take ground away from them [in Syria]. We’re trying to take capability away from them.”

That’s an ambiguous statement when it’s widely recognized that the territory ISIS holds in Syria is the foundation for its capabilities. So the official explanation about why the U.S. has not been more forceful in preventing ISIS from capturing Kobane really makes little sense.

At the same time, it’s been said by many that it looks like Turkey would prefer to see ISIS rather than the PKK-aligned YPG controlling this part of the Syrian border. But even though the Turkish government feels threatened by the presence of an emerging Syrian Kurdish state, Rojava, ISIS is surely an unacceptable neighbor.

Maybe — and this is just speculation — there has been some cunning in American and Turkish inaction and neither power has any intention of allowing ISIS to gain full control of Kobane.

A Kurdish fighter tells Jenan Moussa: “ISIS brought in 1000s of fighters to Kobane. Seems whole of Raqqa is standing at our gates.”

Might this be what the U.S. and Turkey have been hoping to see as the prelude to a joint U.S.-Turkish operation? Turkish ground forces “rescue” Kobane as high concentrations of ISIS fighters approaching the city make themselves easy targets for air strikes.

At the end of the battle and after the self-congratulatory statements about the devastating impact this has had on ISIS, Turkey then establishes what it calls a “buffer zone” and what Kurds will see as the occupation of Rojava.

If a scenario along these lines is unfolding, it probably means that in the eyes of the U.S. and Turkey, the Kurdish men and women fighting on the front lines against ISIS are not engaged in a heroic struggle — they are simply bait.

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