The Syrian war and the uses of ISIS

Published 26.06.2015 19:35
Updated 27.06.2015 15:27

ISIS's primary use in the Syrian war is to weaken the anti-Assad opposition from Aleppo to Afrin, Tal Abyad and Kobani where all attacks have targeted Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen groups

In the early hours of June 25, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) carried out multiple suicide attacks in Kobani and Haseke, Syria, killing dozens and injuring hundreds. While displaying ISIS's barbarism once again, the attack confirms the urgent necessity of the removal of the threat of ISIS and the Assad regime to end this bloody war. As long as the Syrian war continues and the Assad regime remains, ISIS and similar terrorist groups will continue to cause mayhem. The ISIS attack on Kobani comes two weeks after the fighting in Tal Abyad where the PYD and Syrian opposition groups expelled ISIS from the city with the air support of U.S.-led coalition forces. Since this is a cowardly suicide attack and not a full-blown attempt to retake the city, one can speculate that the main reason for it is to preempt the possibility of anti-ISIS opposition groups moving into Raqqa, ISIS's stronghold and virtual capital in Syria. ISIS has used such terror and shock tactics before.

Looking at the use of something is one of the ways to find out what it is. ISIS's primary use in the Syrian war is to weaken and cripple the anti-Assad opposition and justify power games in the Levant. From Aleppo to Afrin, Tal Abyad and Kobani, all ISIS attacks so far have targeted Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen opposition groups. Intelligence reports confirm the dirty dealings between the Assad regime and ISIS, how the regime provides air cover to it, buys oil from it and uses it for military and propaganda purposes. ISIS has become the most convenient tool in the Syrian war. Everyone uses it to justify its policies in Syria and the Levant. Russia cites ISIS to justify its support for the Assad regime. Iran and Hezbollah send in foreign fighters using the same pretext. The Assad regime kills indiscriminately in the name of "fighting terrorism." Others use ISIS as a cover to prop up their players and proxies on the ground. Given its convenient use, the Assad regime does not want ISIS to be degraded and destroyed.

The Kobani attack, while seeming to be tactical, may signal the beginning of a prolonged conflict between ISIS on the one hand and the PYD and Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups on the other. This would be a dangerous development and cause more destruction and chaos along the Turkish-Syrian border. Turkey has strongly condemned the latest ISIS attacks and taken in the wounded for treatment. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu both reiterated Turkey's position regarding ISIS, which is on Turkey's list of terrorist organizations. Turkey will not allow terrorist activities on its soil or across the border.

When fighting broke out in Kobani last year, Turkey took in close to 200,000 residents of Kobani, most of them Kurds, and coordinated the passage of Iraqi peshmerga and FSA forces to defend the city against ISIS. This played a key role in the expulsion of ISIS terrorists from Kobani. When fighting erupted in Tal Abyad, Turkey again opened its doors to about 23,000 Syrians. Most of these people are still hosted in Turkey. Instead of thanking Turkey for these efforts, some groups including the PKK's political branches and propaganda outlets launched a smear campaign to accuse Turkey of aiding ISIS against the Kurds. This is an outright lie and dirty propaganda. They repeat the same self-fulfilling story without any evidence.For the record, it should be stated again that Turkey has arrested and deported over 1,300 foreigners suspected of terrorism. Over 10,000 people suspected of terror-related activities have been banned from entering the country. Turkey has beefed up security along its long border while carrying the heavy burden of having to deal with hundreds of Syrian refugees entering the country every day. One wonders if other countries including those in Europe from which foreign fighters come to join ISIL have done their share to stop the flow of potential terrorists. Those who unashamedly attack Turkey have virtually nothing to say about those countries whose citizens, according to their own statements, join ISIS in the hundreds. Nor do they say anything about the virtual indifference of wealthy countries to help the Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and elsewhere. One wonders where the sense of fairness has gone.

On another front, the PKK outlets are trying to create a war of identity and loyalty between Turks and Kurds by spreading lies about Kobani, ISIS and the war in Syria. The last time they called on people to go out on the streets, they caused the death of 50 innocent people in Turkey. Using Kobani and the ISIS lies to embolden Kurdish nationalist sentiments against Turkey is a dangerous political game. All stakeholders must act with responsibility to prevent any further chaos and pain.

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