Thursday, November 6, 2014

Kobane, a Significant Battle Site between the Kurds and the ISIS

A US Air Force Photo from Wikipedia
The initial military successes of the ISIS in Iraq and Syria have been reversed with the recent gains made by the Iraqi and Kurdish forces which are supported by US and coalition airstrikes. Waging a jihad and trying to establish a caliphate based on its extreme interpretation of Islam,  the Islamic State, an offshoot of Al Qaeda, is a big threat not only to the security of the Middle East but also to the world.                                                            
Although it claims to be inspired by Islam, the ISIS is disowned by Islamic religious and political leaders who say that its action is un-Islamic. In the battle fronts Muslims and non-Muslims are the victims of the ISIS’ aggression. Local tribesmen have to cooperate or do the bidding of the terror group lest they be punished. ISIS brutalities include among other acts mass executions of captured enemies and kidnappings of women and making them as sex slaves.

The terror group is able to sustain its operation through seizure of oil fields and selling oil through the black market, kidnapping for ransom and other illegal activities. It is also able to have its supply of recruits with the use of the internet. Its effort in the social media such as Facebook and Twitter has attracted fresh fighters from western countries, USA, Canada and other parts of the world. Lately, however, the number of new arrivals has decreased which is an indication that the appeal of the terror group to attract new members to its fold might have been affected by flood of news report depicting it in a very bad light.

The Kurds are indigenous people in parts of Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran who are courageously resisting the ISIS advance into their territory. While some Iraqi forces ran away from the enemies in battles, the Kurds prefer to fight to the death rather than giving in to the demand of the terror group. The Kurdish forces in the battle front include even women. The Kurds are the largest stateless ethnic minority in the Middle East who has suffered long years of persecution from the leaders in the four countries where they live in.

To show its power, the ISIS has to deal with the Kurds defiance. It has attacked some Kurdish inhabited area to include Kobane which is situated in the Syria-Turkish border. The ISIS captured part of Kobane on September 2014. But fierce resistance of the outgunned Kurds has kept the jihadists from moving further. At that time many analysts thought that it would just be a matter of time before the town could fall to the terrorists. However, the intervention of the US with its air support has helped the Kurd stall the advance of the ISIS and prevented it from capturing the city.

Turkey which was earlier hesitant to provide military assistance to the embattled Kurds in Kobane has now allowed hundreds of peshmerga forces to enter Kobane through its territory. This peshmerga forces now is using artillery to pound ISIS positions. This development is a big boost to the morale of the Kurds in its effort to repel the ISIS from Kobane.

To some analysts Kobane is of less significance than to other areas that are also besieged by the terrorists. But the city has now gained prominence with the attention given to it by the world media. The city is now widely known to many people all over the world because of the ISIS phenomenon. Whichever side prevails in this ongoing battle will have the psychological edge over its opponent. For the ISIS a victory in Kobane is an inspiration to expand the coverage of its caliphate, and for the Kurds, a victory is a promotion of solidarity and loyalty to their own ethnic group and to the land or the territory which they consider as their own.