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Turkey feels sustained NATO ally pressures over Kobani Kurds

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Turkey feels sustained NATO ally pressures over Kobani Kurds


The fate of Kobani is seen as less strategically crucial for the radical Islamic State movement than for Turkey.

If the besieged city falls, Ankara is expected to feel seismic political aftershocks.

Pressures inside and outside Turkey have brought it to slightly change its position.

The Kurds living on the Turkish side of the border overlooking Kobani welcome the air-drop by the Americans to their Kurdish counterparts in the attacked city, but it is long overdue, in their eyes, no thanks to Turkey.

Ankara’s refusal to offer military support or logistical help, and its prevention of Kurds from Turkey crossing the border to reinforce their side has triggered lethal riots in southeastern Turkey.

On Sunday, the Turkish president reiterated his resistance to support for Kobani’s PYD defenders.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “The PYD (Kurdish Democratic Union Party) is for us, the same as the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party); it is also a terror organisation. It would be wrong for the United States – with whom we are friends and allies in NATO – to expect us to say ‘Yes’ to such support — supplying arms to a terrorist organisation. We can’t say ‘yes’ to that.”

The armed branch of the PYD political party are the YPG people’s protection units.

The armed PYD have run the administration of three Syrian Kurdish cantons since 2012.

PYD is an extension of the PKK, against which Turkey has fought a 30-year war in which some 40,000 people have been killed.

Ankara wants a buffer zone on the Syrian side of the border.

Kobani is one of three areas near the border with Turkey where Syrian Kurds have established their own government since the civil war began in Syria.

But Turkey’s intransigence opposite NATO allies is hard to maintain; Ankara’s easing the passage of Iraqi Kurdish forces which have also fought the Islamic State movement is a gesture, even though Turkey’s foreign minister stopped short of saying whether Ankara backed the US decision to air-drop weapons.

Turkish security and ties within NATO are both under tense scrutiny given the danger of Kobani falling to the Islamic State radicals.

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