A Kurdish man reacts to tear gas during a clash between Turkish soldiers and Kurdish protesters on the Turkish-Syrian border. Photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - MPs in the Kurdistan Region debated hurdles in rushing aid to Kobane in Syrian Kurdistan, as Islamic State (ISIS) fighters were reported to be advancing to the city in a three-pronged attack.
Erbil cannot rush to the embattled Kurdish fighters standing against ISIS because Kobane is removed from the embattled town by hundreds of kilometers of territory held by the militants, Kurdish MPs said during in the debate.
“Geographically Kobane is like an isolated island, surrounded on three sides by terrorist forces and from the north by Turkey, which doesn't send them help and prevents help from reaching them,” said Rabun Maruf, the Change Movement’s (Gorran) MP in the Kurdish parliament.
“We have asked the (US-led) coalition forces to help Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan) as they are helping the Kurdistan Region,” he said. He explained the problem was that the Democratic Union Party (PYD) ruling the Kurdish Syrian territories is seen as a wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and Europe.
“We have tried to persuade the world not to treat the PYD as terrorists and rather deal with them as freedom fighters, especially in Syria,” Maruf said.
“Rojava is about to fall victim to ideological fights among its groups. They must be united and work through their institutions,” he added, saying that Gorran was not happy with Turkey, which he accused of hampering help to Kobane while turning a blind eye to jihadis going to join ISIS.
ISIS fighters were closing in on Kobane on three fronts Sunday, with reports saying they remained only a kilometer away. The PYD has its armed wing and has said in the past that it does not need fighters, but weapons.
Any help to Kobane must go through Turkey, which has a heavy military presence on the border and is allowing nothing to cross in either direction.
There have been two rounds of US air strikes against the ISIS near Kobane in the past two weeks, but they have failed to halt the jihadi advance.
“We want the same military support, air strikes and arms that we receive to be also supplied for Rojava,” said Omed Khoshnaw, an MP from the dominant Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). He added that that the Kurdistan presidency had “spared no effort to bring international support to the Kurds in Rojava.”
Criticizing Turkey, he said Ankara “speaks of taking part in the fight against IS, but its stance is not very clear yet.”
Abubakir Haladni, a lawmaker from the Islamic Union of Kurdistan (Yekgirtu), said the KRG could send help to Rojava, away from the media eye. “There are many ways to get assistance to Rojava,” he said.
Haladni blamed the PYD for its “strategic mistake,” saying it should have allowed different Kurdish groups to take be part of the political process, instead of concentrating power in its own hands.
“This does not mean we will ignore the Kurds in Rojava, but the PYD has to change its authoritarian policies because it doesn't serve our cause,” he said.
Meanwhile, MP Farhad Sangawi said the PYD cannot be expected to act democratically because it has no government.
“The PYD has done a good thing by not allowing other Kurdish armed groups in Rojava because that would lead to tensions,” he said. “You cannot win a war with democracy. Democracy can only help you advance your government and people, when you have one,” Sangawi said.