By Sal Bommarito
The situation in Kobani, a city on Syria’s northern border with Turkey, is symptomatic of the persistent problems being encountered in the fight with ISIS. The New York Times acknowledged the problem in an insightful editorial on October 24.
The basic problem is that Turkey unilaterally rated ISIS a lower priority than both dethroning of Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, and Turkey’s decades long fight with the Kurds, who are seeking their independence.
The result of this prioritization is that the Turks have not have assisted Syrian Kurds fighting with ISIS in Kobani. In fact, they have hurt the cause of the U.S.-led coalition by preventing Turkish Kurds from coming to the aid of their Syrian counterparts.
The Turks have demanded the U.S. establish a no-fly zone in the territory near their border to prevent Syrian airstrikes against Turkey should it engage ISIS on the border. This is another strange twist, as the Turks expect possible retribution from Syria even as Turkey fights ISIS, which is dead set on bringing down Assad. It really is a confusing in this part of the world.
When it is all said and done, ISIS will prevail in Kobani because the U.S. bombs are not potent enough to prevent ISIS from overrunning Kobani without ground support. To this point, Turkey has refused to enter the fray. Ironically, the fall of Kobani could be the prelude to an ISIS invasion of Turkey.
The Times article points out that Turkey is a NATO ally, so any ISIS encroachments will automatically engage all fellow NATO members, presumably. This eventuality could be the event that turns the ISIS war around.
To quote the Times, “There were many unknowns when President Obama began a premature and ill-advised mission into Syria. The failure to secure the full cooperation of an important ally [Turkey] leaves the success of the fight against the Islamic State increasingly open to question.”
Exacerbating the Turkish reticence are numerous other issues that should have been considered before the U.S. invaded, such as the real truth about the importance of ground troops, the extent to which coalition members would participate in the imbroglio, the Iranian tactic of tying its assistance to the nuclear negotiations with the U.S., etc.
The ISIS mission is looking progressively worse every day. The American people were sold a bill of goods by the Obama administration about the effect of just bombing the terrorists. This subterfuge is reminiscent of Bush’s bad intel before the invasion of Iraq. Hopefully, it will not lead to another ten year, trillion-dollar odyssey.