The struggle for Kobani, the Syrian Kurdish town on the border with Turkey where the Kurdish forces alone are battling the barbaric hordes of the Islamic State, aka ISIS, is reminiscent of the Polish uprising in Warsaw against the Nazis in August, 1944. While the Polish Home Army fought courageously against the might of the superior armed Nazis, the Soviet Union’s Red Army stood by across the River Vistula, which divides Warsaw, watching the merciless slaughter of Polish civilians and the destruction of the city.
The Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan, like the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin before him, showed no consideration for the lives of innocent Kurdish civilians already butchered by the sadists of the Islamic State mercenaries. For those still alive in Kobani, unless rescued by outside intervention or supplied with heavy arms and ammunition, will also die a gruesome death. Turkish tanks, in the meantime, are ensconced on the crest overlooking Kobani. They can help save the remaining Kurds should Erdogan give them the order to fire on the ISIS fighters. But, just as Stalin wanted the Nazis to decimate the Polish nationalist Home Army, Erdogan is wishing for ISIS to destroy the Syrian Kurds.
What is puzzling in all this is the role the U.S. is playing. In his September 10, 2014 speech, President Obama said that, “military advisors are needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence, and equipment.” Hitherto, there has been no supply of equipment or training of the Kurds. In fact, the Obama administrations blind support for a unitary Iraqi state led by Shiite ruled Baghdad government is in contradiction with the realities on the ground. The Shiite-led Iraqi army folded in the face of the jihadi ISIS guerrilla offensive, and in the process, abandoning U.S. supplied heavy weapons including tanks, armored cars, Humvees, etc. The Kurdish Peshmergas alone hold the line against ISIS, and they are not getting the promised arms because the U.S. has long insisted that all sales of U.S. weapons must go through Iraq’s central government, despite Kurdish complaints that Baghdad had deprived them of promised military equipment and financial support.
Washington has not overruled Baghdad on issuing direct shipments of arms to the Kurds. The Iraqi government has demanded that all shipments to the Kurds arrive first in Baghdad. Iraqi officials have regularly blocked or delayed these shipments to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Erbil. Moreover, U.S. State Department regulations bar the KRG from purchasing U.S. made weapons without “end-user certificates” issued by Baghdad. According to the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy, “Baghdad is bent on wielding this authority to prevent the KRG from developing antitank and antiaircraft arsenals.”