The challenge of understanding "who's fighting who" in the conflict in Syria and Iraq has led to a simplified representation of the Kurds solely taking up arms against ISIS. Kurdish groups such as the People's Protection Units (YPG) have indeed proved worthy adversaries to this Islamist extremist group and as allies to the US. However, scores of Iraqi Kurds are also fighting alongside violent extremist groups.
Contrary to the desires and interests of regional governments, arming and helping the Kurds to fight ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) in Kobane may be the trigger for the birth of a new nation - Kurdistan. No country in the region wants that but this will be one of the unintended consequences of the break up of Syria and the emergence of ISIL.
When I began visiting the Kurdistan Region in 2006, one big issue was how best to deal with its awkward neighbour, Turkey. We heard stories of people finding it difficult to cross the border. One trade union delegation, delivering a fire engine to Erbil, was delayed for a day at the border without food or water. It was all pretty petty stuff but more serious dangers simmered. Just five years ago, 100,000 Turkish troops were poised on the border with the Kurdistan Region.
It sometimes seems that Iraqi Kurds have no word with the urgency of manana but it hasn't stopped Iraqi Kurdistan making tremendous strides in a few short years. The best start date for their renaissance is 2006, the first full year of the new Iraqi constitution, agreed by the people and which recognised Kurdistan as a largely autonomous region.
Out of tragedy, community is often born. Turkey realised that in 1999 when successive earthquakes here and in Greece prompted mutual outpourings of aid and led to reconciliation between the arch enemies. The earthquake in Van offers Turkey another chance at such "earthquake diplomacy," this time inviting it to make peace with its own citizens.