Why the Fight for Kobani Matters

Battle over Syrian town emerges as test of US policy: 'New York Times'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 24, 2014 11:15 AM CDT
A woman uses binoculars to watch fighting across the border in Kobani from a hilltop on the outskirts of Suruc, near the Turkey-Syria border.   (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
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(Newser) – It's a safe bet that most Americans had never heard of the town of Kobani, Syria, a few weeks ago. Now, however, a common school of thought seems to be, "As Kobani goes, so goes the war on ISIS." In an editorial today, the New York Times declares that the fight for the town near the Turkish border has emerged as a crucial test of US strategy. "A setback in Kobani would show the fragility of the American plan and hand the Islamic State an important victory," says the editorial. If ISIS wins there, it puts the group in position to cross into Turkey "and directly threaten a NATO ally, a move that could force the alliance to come to Turkey’s defense."

So why isn't Turkey doing more to help defeat ISIS in Kobani? Partly because most of the fighting against the militants there is being done by Syrian Kurds, and Turkey has its own tangled history with Turkish Kurds. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has agreed to let a limited number of Iraqi fighters cross its border and join the Kobani battle, but his country doesn't seem overly concerned with stopping the spread of ISIS, writes the Times. That doesn't bode well for the US. "The failure to secure the full cooperation of an important ally leaves the success of the fight against the Islamic State increasingly open to question." Click for the full editorial. (Read more Kobani stories.)

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