Bedfellows get stranger in war on ISIS

The Great Power convergence against ISIS continues to show ever greater signs of political schizophrenia. The Pentagon acknowledged Dec. 2 that (former?) Axis of Evil member Iran has carried out air-strikes against ISIS targets in eastern Iraq. Rear Adm. John Kirby insisted the US is not co-ordinating with Iran. "We are flying missions over Iraq, we co-ordinate with the Iraqi government as we conduct those," he said. "It's up to the Iraqi government to deconflict that airspace." As if the US had no influence over its client state. A senior Iranian military official also dismissed talk of co-operation between the two countries. Yet some astute observers noted that Iran may have been sending a coded political message by using F-4 Phantoms in the strikes—warplanes purchased from the US under the Shah's reign, before the Iranian revolution of 1979. (IBT, BBC News, Dec. 2)

In other news… officials of the Kurdish autonomous zone in northern Syria claimed that ISIS militants actually launched an attack on the besieged town of Kobani from Turkish territory. The assault began when a suicide bomber driving an armored vehicle detonated his explosives on the border crossing north of Kobani, said Nawaf Khalil, a spokesman for the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD). ISIS "used to attack the town from three sides," Khalil said. "Today, they are attacking from four sides." The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights corroborated the claim. A Turkish government statement on Nov. 29 confirmed that one of the suicide attacks involved a bomb-loaded vehicle that detonated on the Syrian side of the border—but denied that the vehicle had crossed in through Turkey. (ROAR Mag, Dec. 2; AP, Nov. 29)

So the US is in at least a de facto alliance with its supposed enemy Iran, but (if the PYD and Observatory claims are to be believed) working at complete cross-purposes to its NATO ally Turkey.

Meanwhile, the UN World Food Program says it has suspended a food voucher program serving more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt because of a funding crisis. The UN agency said in a statement that without the assistance "many families will go hungry." (AP, Dec. 1) Guns before butter, as usual.

  1. Did Turkey bomb Kobani?

    Kurdish news agency Rudaw reported Nov. 30 that the Turkish military actually bombed Kobani, injuring several of thw town's defenders as well as civilians. “Under the pretense of stopping an ISIS attack on Turkey the Turkish army bombarded the center of Kobane with tanks and artillery,” Anwar Muslim, co-chair of the Kobane canton told Rudaw. “A number of civilians and fighters have been wounded.” The report is unclear on whether Turkish warplanes overflew the city, or if it was shelled by artillery from across the border.

  2. Research paper documents ISIS-Turkey links

    Answering the previously-cited International Crisis Group paper purporting to show links between the Rojava Kurds and the Assad regime, David L. Phillips of Columbia University has issued a study (online at HuffPo) on "ISIS-Turkey Links," citing numerous reports of Turkish security and border forces collaborating with the jihadists. In addition to allowing ISIS to use Turkish territory as a rear-guard, receive medical services for wounded fighters and sell black-market oil, the report cites claims in the Turkish press that ISIS openly maintains a recruitment office in Istanbul.

  3. International investigation of ISIS-Turkey link: call

    Democratic Union Party (PYD) co-president Salih Muslim reacted angrily to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's comment that Turkey did not support ISIS, proposing that an independent international commission be set up to carry out an inquiry. (ANF, Dec. 18) The statement came after Turkish authorities announced the confiscation of 80 million liters of ISIS black-market oil. (Iraq News, Dec. 18)