The New York Times reports: As jihadist fighters of the Islamic State lay siege to the Kurdish town of Kobani in Syria, the implications of the battle have resonated deeply among residents in this part of the Qandil Mountains in northeastern Iraq, hundreds of miles and a country away.
In this region, beneath craggy peaks near the Iranian border, is the headquarters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., which has been fighting a guerrilla war against the Turkish state for three decades, a fight that has claimed more than 30,000 lives. Members of the group, along with fighters from an offshoot rebel army in Syria, have been at the heart of the Kurdish resistance in Kobani.
P.K.K. commanders say their halting, nine-year-old peace process with the Turkish government and, indeed, the future of the region, will turn on the battle for Kobani and on Turkey’s response. If Turkey does not help the embattled Kurdish forces in Kobani, the commanders say, they will break off peace talks and resume their guerrilla war within Turkey, plunging yet another country in the region into armed conflict.
“Negotiations cannot go on in an environment where they want to create a massacre in Kobani,” Cemil Bayik, a founder and leader of the P.K.K., said in a recent interview in a secret location in this area of the Qandil range. “We cannot bargain for settlement on the blood of Kobani.”
“We will mobilize the guerrillas,” he vowed.
Despite increased pressure from the United States and pleas from outgunned Kurdish fighters in Kobani, Turkey has refused to deploy its military against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, or to open the border to allow reinforcements, weapons and supplies to reach the town.
In a shift, though, Turkey will allow American and coalition troops to use its bases, including a key installation within 100 miles of the Syrian border, for operations against the Islamic State, Defense Department officials said Sunday. On Sunday, Kurdish officials said their fighters in Kobani had been able to fend off a two-day assault by Islamic State fighters on the center of town. Coalition airstrikes had destroyed a convoy on its way to support the jihadist fighters, according to Idris Nassan, a spokesman for the Kobani resistance, who said the Kurds had been able to “manage” the latest assault. But without more extensive airstrikes and supplies of weapons and ammunition, he added, “Maybe tomorrow the situation will change again.” [Continue reading…]
Today’s Zaman reports in contradiction: Turkey and the US have no new agreement on the use of İncirlik airbase in southern Turkey, Turkish officials said on Monday, a day after US officials revealed that Ankara will let US and coalition forces use its bases, including İncirlik, for operations against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants in Syria and Iraq.
Existing arrangements concerning the use of İncirlik are still in force between Turkey and the US and there is no new understanding in addition to them, Prime Ministry sources were quoted as saying by state news agency Anadolu.
Turkey and the US did reach a new agreement on the training of Syrian opposition forces, the same unnamed sources told the agency.