World Bulletin/News Desk
The State Department welcomed Turkey’s delcaration Monday that it would facilitate the crossing of Iraqi Kurdish pesmerga forces into Kobani to help fight the ISIL.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announcement that his country would help Iraqi Kurdish forces access Kobani, through Turkey, in order to help Kurdish militias fight the ISIL came a day after U.S. conducted airdrops in the northern Syrian town to resupply the Kurdish militia group Unionist Democratic Party, or PYD.
That may signal a change in policy for Turkey, which has ardently opposed the main fighting group in Kobani, the People’s Protection Units, and its affiliated party, the Democratic Union Party, or PYD, according to Daniel Serwer, a senior fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
“The Turks and the Americans have been talking about this for weeks, so I assume they reached some kind of mutual accommodation – otherwise the Turks wouldn’t be allowing Kurdish fighters to cross the border,” he said.
U.S. officials notified their Turkish counterparts in advance of the airdrops.
"We made clear why we believed it was important to take these airdrops to support these fighters pushing back against ISIL in and around Kobani," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
She made it clear that the calls were not seeking Turkey’s consent but were notification about the U.S.’s intent to supply arms to the Kurdish militia.
The weaponry were not those of the U.S. but were supplied by the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional government and airlifted by U.S. air forces.
Turkey considers the PYD an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a terrorist group. The U.S. and EU have listed the PKK as a terrorist organization. Turkish officials have expressed several times that PYD is the same as the PKK, and Turkey would not accept any accommodations made to the group simply because it was fighting ISIL.
"The PYD is a different group than the PKK legally under United States law," Harf said while dismissing Turkey’s concerns, but she added that it was “incredibly important” to support groups like the Kurdish fighters and a small number of non-Kurdish fighters, who are on the ground pushing back against ISIL.
"A risk-reward strategy"
As Washington seeks to reinforce besieged Kurdish forces fighting back the ISIL, its policy may pose unforeseen risks, according to experts.
The U.S. carried out an initial resupply of Kurdish forces overnight Sunday in Kobani. Senior administration officials who spoke to reporters on condition that their names not be made public, said that the air drop included 27 bundles of small arms, ammunition and medical supplies.
Additional drops may occur “in the days ahead,” according to an administration official and initial assessments are that “the vast majority” of supplies reached their intended targets.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters Monday that the arms falling into the wrong hands is “always a possibility certainly.”
That seems to nearly have happened once already.
U.S. Central Command said in a statement Monday that one resupply bundle strayed from its target and was later hit by an air strike to prevent it from falling into enemy hands.
Even if the arms do reach their intended targets, it is impossible to say if they will stay there, according to Greg Myre, an expert at the Middle East Institute.
“There’s no way you can predict who may end up with those weapons, and who is going to use them, or how they’re going to use them,” he said. “That’s one of the risks you have to take.”
Anthony Cordesman, the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington, said that the risk is mitigated by the types of arms being sent to Kurdish forces compared to those being used by ISIL.
“The fact is that most of these elements are armed and the problem is not the flow of small arms to the ISIL, it is the fact that so many of the people around the ISIL don’t have any kind of matching firepower with light automatic weapons,” he said. “You’re taking a really minimal risk. You’re showing people you will resupply the groups that are isolated and being attacked by the ISIL, but what you’re resupplying them with does not represent a meaningful risk.”
In addition to providing Kurdish forces with only small arms, the actual theater of ongoing hostilities may further narrow the risks, according to Cordesman.
“The irony here is simply that because Kobani is so isolated, it is fairly easy to isolate what you’re doing to supply this particular group of Kurds,” he said.
Still, James Carafano, the Heritage Foundation’s vice president for foreign and defense policy studies, said that there is no such thing as “an absolute guarantee” when carrying out these types of operations “particularly in this part of the world where arms trafficking and smuggling is so rampant.”
Kobani has been the scene of fierce battles between Kurdish groups and ISIL since mid-September.
Thousands of people would likely be massacred if Kobani were to fall to ISIL militants and it would also allow the group to link its self-declared capital in Raqqa with its fighting positions in the contested city of Aleppo to the west and the Iraqi city of Mosul to the east.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 21 Ekim 2014, 10:53