Turkey’s act of abandonment may mark an ‘irrevocable breach’ with Kurds across the region | The Independent

Kurds vented their fury at the Turkish government for standing by as Isis fighters looked poised to take the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani in view of the Turkish border and the watching Turkish army.

At least 12 people died and dozens of people were wounded in demonstrations across Turkey. Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters who burnt cars and tyres as they took to the streets mainly in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish eastern and southeastern provinces, although clashes erupted in the nation’s biggest city, Istanbul, and the capital Ankara as well. [Read more]

No Wonder Iraq’s Army Has Trouble Fighting. Too Many “Astronauts”! | The Daily Beast

The Iraqi army is suffering badly from what locals describe as the “astronaut phenomenon.” That is, soldiers who pay money to superior officers so they can leave the world of the military and stay out of danger, far from the battlefield. This means that sometimes when a general sends a battalion to fight, only half the soldiers are there. And recently, with attacks by extremists, this phenomenon has been getting worse.

On September 27, Iraq’s Parliamentary committee on security and defense hosted a confidential meeting. One of the guests was Rasheed Flaih, the Lieutenant General who is in charge of the Iraqi army’s operations in the province of Anbar.  Military men and politicians discussed the ever-increasing absence of soldiers from their units in the province. [Read more]

The Last Days of Kobani Loom as IS Closes In on Syrian Kurds With Murder on Its Mind | truthdig

ISIL fighters have advanced into the Kurdish Syrian city of Kobane (`Ayn al-`Arab), with fighting in the streets as Kurds resist, according to the pan-Arab daily, al-Hayat [Life].  Kobane, a city ordinarily of about 50,000, is the third biggest town in the Kurdish part of Syria (the far northeast).  ISIL has taken dozens of nearby Kurdish villages, provoking an exodus of perhaps 300,000 refugees, with about 180,000 going to Turkey.  Turkey now has over a million Syrian refugees.

Iran is complaining about the West hanging the Kurds out to dry.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan warned a Kurdish audience that Kobane could soon fall. [Read more]

Iranians Join Protests in Support of Syria-Turkey Border Town Kobane, Beseiged by ISIS | Global Voices

Protesters in Iran and elsewhere around the world have taken to streets to publicly support the people of Kobane, the prominently Kurdish Syrian city near the Turkish border, as they desperately try to fend off ISIS.

The city of Kobane has been under attack since mid-September by ISIS, the Al Qaeda offshoot that has come to control large parts of Iraq and Syria using brutal and violent tactics, leading nearly 200,000 inhabitants to flee to nearby Turkey. Though ISIS forces have encountered resistance from Kurdish forces, since this post was last updated, ISIS was encroaching upon the city center of Kobane. [Read more]

Betraying Syrian Kurds-ISIL Slaughter Looming at Kobane as Turks Watch | OpEdNews

Turkish President Recep Erdogan, an outright criminal*, outlined three requirements before nearby Turkish troops intervene to stop ISIL’s takeover of Kobane, Syria. Absent Turkish intervention, it is generally agreed that ISIL will conquer the Kurdish city and begin massacring civilians. The tragedy of Erdogan’s three demands are that there is no way they can be met in the next few days, the estimated widow for Kobane’s survival.

The United States is bombing ISIL fighters surrounding Kobane to little effect. There are no plans for U.S. troops to intervene. [Read more]

For Turkey, it’s all about regime change in Syria | Al Jazeera

After severing ties with Bashar al-Assad in August 2011, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has actively worked to hasten the dictator’s downfall. Turkey’s Syria policy unfolded over many months and eventually came to be defined by the government’s absolute insistence that Assad be forced from power via the use of military force.

The AKP had spent much of its time in office lauding the improvement in Turkish-Syrian relations. The geopolitically minded AKP argued that closer relations with Damascus would help advance Turkish economic interests because it was an ideal transit route for Turkish trucks headed to the oil-rich Gulf states. Thus, as the Arab revolts spread to Syria, Ankara’s first instinct was to broker a political compromise, whereby Assad would step down as president and become prime minister. The plan lacked any real political meaning, owing to the fact that Assad would have a say over his successor and maintain his control of Syria’s armed forces and intelligence services. [Read more]

Because of Hezbollah, ISIS will reach Jounieh | Al Arabiya

The word “If” is Hezbollah’s propaganda weapon to justify its involvement in Syria and its implication of Lebanon’s Shiites and the entire of Lebanon in the Syrian war. It says: “If Hezbollah hadn’t supported the Assad regime, Shiite religious shrines would’ve fallen,” “If Hezbollah hadn’t gone to Syria, takfiris would’ve made it to Dahiyeh” and “If Hezbollah hadn’t protected Lebanon’s borders, ISIS would’ve seized it from south to north.”

And now another of these “if” statements is being attributed to Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai. According to media reports, a source close to Hezbollah claims that before heading to Rome, Rai said to an inner circle that “if Christians in Lebanon were asked their opinion on the ongoing developments, they would all give the same reply that if it weren’t for Hezbollah, ISIS would have been in Jounieh.” [Read more]

Obama’s Darkest Hour | Times of Israel

The US coalition against ISIL has already started to unravel. Less than one month into the military campaign, the key regional player in any anti-ISIL endeavor, Turkey, has placed serious conditions on its involvement. Ankara is demanding a no-fly zone over all of northern Syria in conjunction with a humanitarian corridor connecting Turkey with a massive liberated area free of all pro-Assad forces. From a strictly Syrian political and military perspective, this makes complete sense. However, President Obama does not see the wisdom of the Turkish demands. In fact, the American president and his NATO ally, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are miles apart in their respective views as to the priorities of the US-led war on ISIL.

If Turkey is to provide the coalition’s “boots on the ground”, it must have a foolproof understanding from Washington that the enemy will be not only ISIL, but the Assad regime as well. This places the Obama administration in the same fix that originally stymied American action back when Assad was clearly losing to the Free Syrian Army in 2012. To say yes to Erdogan now, Obama must say no to Putin. He passed on that deal two years ago. But now the stakes are clearly much higher. Obama has entered the war in Syria, and whether he likes it or not, the die has been cast. Either he confronts the Russians on their support for Assad or he risks open fissures within his fragile Middle East coalition. [Read more]

15,000-plus for Fighting: The Return of the Foreign Fighters | War on the Rocks

After years of being treated as a niche topic, the rise of the “Islamic State” in Syria and Iraq has moved the issue of foreign fighters from academic journals and wonky conferences to the front pages of major newspapers. But this has long been a topic of both personal and professional interest to me, beginning when I served alongside an Iraqi infantry battalion in western Ninevah province in 2006-2007. During my deployment in Ninevah, al Qaeda in Iraq exploited the numerous wadis (or dry riverbeds) across the Iraqi-Syrian border as their “ratlines” to move in and out of Iraq and to carry out horrendous acts of sectarian violence and terror. I returned to the United States to run a number of conferences and panels on foreign fighters at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

The scale of the current rush of foreign fighters going to fight in Syria and Iraq, however, is unprecedented, their numbers dwarf those of their predecessors in 1980s Afghanistan and in Iraq of the noughties. An estimated 15,000 men and women from 80 or more countries have gone to fight there. The foreign fighters involved in the Soviet-Afghan and the Iraq War (2003-2011) are greatly celebrated in the jihadist martyrdom canon, but they only reached a small fraction of what the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has attracted. But those conflicts unleashed what Clint Watts has described as the first and second foreign fighter gluts, respectively. The veterans of those conflicts seeded the jihadist movement in places such as Algeria, Egypt, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chechnya, and Dagestan, spawning the al Qaeda network and other jihadist organizations. The ongoing civil wars in Iraq and Syria will unleash a third foreign fighter glut that will likely create further regional and global security concerns, and exacerbate existing ones. [Read more]

 

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