Turkey Finally Gives In To NATO Pressure On ISIS, But Is It Too Late?

October 13, 2014: Confused about Kobani and what it means in the fight against ISIS? Don’t worry, we have you covered.

John Kerry

After days of deliberation and pressure from NATO members, Turkey has finally agreed to let United States and coalition forces use its bases.

According to latest reports, Ankara has allowed coalition forces to use a key installation within 100 miles of the Syrian border to fight Islamic State militants currently trying to take over a crucial town Kobani in Syria.

What's happening in the embattled region right now is really important, but it can become a little confusing with the news being updated nearly every hour of the day.

Therefore, here are some answers to some of the most basic questions you might have on the issue.

What’s Kobani?

Kobane (or Kobani) is a town in northern Syria that ISIS militants are trying to capture currently.

It is home to people of different ethnicities such as Arab, Turkmen and Armenian, but the majority of the population belongs to Kurdish people – one of the many communities severely being hunted down by terrorists in the region.

Why is it important?

Kobani is a stone's throw from Turkey.

If ISIS succeeds in the fight for its siege, it will gain a foothold on Turkey's border and would provide the militant organization access to the black markets it needs to expand its illegal oil trade – which has reportedly been disrupted by U.S. airstrikes.

Since selling oil over the past three months has turned ISIS into a multimillion-dollar enterprise, the terrorists will go to great lengths to gain control of the crucial town to keep the business running.

Besides, if ISIS takes Kobani, another predictable result will be massacres of thousands of captured men and enslavement of women, according to the United Nations.

"The 12,000 civilians ... will be most likely massacred," Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. special envoy for Syria said.

How is Turkey involved?

Kobani is just six miles from the Turkish border – which could become a potential gateway into Europe for the militants.

Although Turkey has made some effort to crack down on the smuggling of oil products across its borders, there has been a lot of speculation as to why isn’t Ankara doing more to help save the town.

David Kenner of Foreign Policy spoke to Suat Kiniklioglu, a former MP for the ruling Justice and Development Party, who stated there are two possible reasons behind Turkey’s hesitation.

First, Turkey is anti-Syrian government and they want to be sure they don’t end up helping President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in wiping out ISIS.

Secondly, Ankara is also concerned about the Kurdish militia in Kobani known as the People's Protection Units, which is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party – a militant organization which Turkey says is as dangerous as ISIS.

What’s the U.S. got to do about all of this?

The U.S. is as confused as Turkey when it comes  to helping Kobani, it seems.

Soon after ISIS militants started waging the battle for Kobani, the Obama administration demanded Turkey to do more to help the U.S. save the embattled town.

Several White House politicians even criticized Turkey for not actively participating in the fight to defend Kobani.

While one unnamed official said that Ankara was "inventing reasons not to act" adding "this isn't how a NATO ally acts while hell is unfolding a stone's throw from their border," another anonymous U.S. official said the Turks are hesitant because "they want the U.S. to come in and take care of the problem.”

And when finally Turkey agreed to let American and coalition forces use its bases for operations against ISIS, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stated on Sunday that saving Kobani is not a priority for Washington, D.C.

“As horrific as it is to watch in real time what is happening in Kobani, you have to step back and understand the strategic objective,” Kerry said.

“Notwithstanding the crisis in Kobani, the original targets of our efforts have been the command and control centers, the infrastructure.”

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