— The Erimtan Angle —

‘Turkey has closed its border with Syria as Islamic State militants battle Kurdish forces in the Syrian border town of Kobane. Turkish checkpoints and tanks ensure that no one enters or exits the town, while nearby some of the 180,000 refugees who previously fled into Turkey watch helplessly as the fighting unfolds in front of them. VICE News travelled to the Turkish side of the border as US airstrikes hit Islamic State positions in Kobane. As we watched alongside Kurds from both Syria and Turkey, they talked about Turkey’s lack of support for the Kurds fighting in Kobane and provided updates on the battle (14 Oct 2014)’.

‘When Islamic State jihadists launched a major offensive on the majority Kurdish town of Kobane in September, more than 180,000 people fled across the border into Turkey. Local authorities struggled to cope with the influx at first, and thousands of refugees were forced to sleep on the streets of the Turkish border town of Suruc. Now camps are being set up to provide shelter and other assistance. With the borders closed and thousands unable to leave Kobane, VICE News visited one of six refugee camps in the town to find out how refugee families — some sharing tents with up to 14 other people — are coping with leaving their homes and livelihoods behind (16 Oct 2014)’.

On Wednesday, 15 October, Turkey’s appointed PM Ahmed Davutoğlu told Al Jazeera that “[t]he buffer zone we mean here is not a military definition, but a humanitarian safe zone under military protection”, and going on to say that the zone would comprise “areas with populations over a certain density”.[1] The wily PM went on that the “United Nations Security Council can’t take any decisions due to certain vetoes. Then, the international coalition that was created for an intervention in Syria and the coalition of the willing can take certain decisions and provide air protection [for the projected safe zone]”.[2] Turkey is unwilling to send its own military into the warzone, and equally reluctant to allow Kurdish volunteers who might be affiliated with the terrorist PKK to enter Syrian territory from Turkey to do battle with the caliphal forces of the Islamic State. This humanitarian safe zone envisioned would be spanning some 600 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea to the Iraqi border. The English-language Iranian broadcaster Press TV adds that ‘[l]ast week, US Secretary of State John Kerry said creating a buffer zone was an idea that was worth examining. The establishment of any no-fly zone would certainly require a United Nations Security Council resolution as happened in Iraq in 1991, Bosnia in 1993, and most recently in Libya in 2011’.[3]

Meanwhile last month, Turkey’s popularly elected president Tayyip Erdoğan made this remarkable statement, while speaking to Al Jazeera‘s Turkish affiliate: “[t]he source [of IS attacks in Iraq] is Syria and al-Qaeda. Unfortunately, it is cruel Assad who is behind the increase of such militant groups, especially in Syria”.[4] The Turkish Prez went on to talk about Iraq as follows: “[i]t is our wish that the new Iraqi government eliminate the chaos which feeds such groups . . . We want Iraqi people to be as one. I pray that Iraq will stand up again in unity . . . We support Iraq’s territorial integrity. The more united a country is, the more powerful it gets”.[5]

[1] “Turkey outlines locations for potential safe zone in Syria” Hürriyet Daily News (16 Oct 2014). http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-outlines-locations-for-potential-safe-zone-in-syria.aspx?pageID=238&nID=73054&NewsCatID=338.

[2] “Turkey outlines locations for potential safe zone in Syria”.

[3] “Turkish PM names 5 sites in Syria as possible safe zones” Press TV (18 Oct 2014). http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/10/18/382650/turkish-pm-names-5-sites-in-syria-as-possible-safe-zones/.

[4] “Turkish president: Syria’s Assad helped rise of IS” MEE (01 September 2014). http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/turkish-president-syrias-assad-helped-rise-1597191513.

[5] “Turkish president: Syria’s Assad helped rise of IS”.

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