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Kobane Under Siege by Islamic State

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By Brett Daniel Shehadey
Special Contributor for In Homeland Security

Islamic State fighters penetrated the city of Kobane (AR. Ain-al-Arab), Syria, on Monday. In spite of the U.S. led coalition, the mass murdering Islamic State militants moved from mortar fire around the city to street-to-street urban warfare. They seek a strategic victory which will offer them multiple advantages, including: 1) a victory of contest for Kobane over U.S. led efforts to stop them from taking an important city and 2) unfettered access to a border town with Turkey and the refugee camp populations nearby. These victories will allow them to pursue the image of an unstoppable Islamic fighting force and they will genocide the Kurds. That is why they cannot be allowed to take Kobane.

Turkey has other reasons for intervention. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for ground troops to intervene in the Kobane crisis and defeat the Islamic State there. President Erdogan said, “The terror will not be over… unless we cooperate for a ground operation.”

If Turkey engages the Islamic State on the ground, they will suffer a strong retaliation from swelling extremists within their ranks and in their streets, but if they do not, they will also have to face the Islamic State entering breaching their borders and claiming land right and left as they do in Syria and Iraq. Turkey must not forget that the Islamic State is a radical pseudo-caliphate that does not politically recognize them and will eventually undermine and attack them.

Suspicions that Turkey made some kind of deal with the Islamic State after the release of near 50 consulate hostages in Mosul, Iraq, is coming to the forefront and being tested now in another moment of truth. Regardless of any arrangement, Turkey cannot afford to continue as a gateway for foreign militant extremists into Syria or from Syria. This was allowed early on to combat Syria’s Assad Regime. That has been the primary objective of turkey, but that objective may be changing. While the Islamic State made many gains against Assad, they mainly acted as a buffer of the war to the north of Syria. They went their own direction and that direction is at the critical point that jeopardizes the future and security of Turkey. It also endangers the rule of President Erdogan as well as everyone else there in power.

Another factor is Turkey initially wanted to see Kobane without a military Kurdish rule and they sealed off their border after the 160,000 plus Kurds fled the Islamic State advance the past days. More importantly, Turkey has avoided direct military involvement with Syria, Russia and Iran. But as the Islamic State advances toward Turkey’s border, the music out of Turkey is having second thoughts about permitting the on-going success of the Islamic State.

NATO has assured Turkey that they will be protected under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty if the fighting spills over from Syria.

Turkey’s decision or indecision to intervene with a ground force will greatly affect the survival of Kobane from the on-coming assault. If they do not act to save the town from genocide and against the Islamic State, then their membership to NATO should be reevaluated.

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