The Heroes of Kobane

On the Turkish frontier, around the town of Kobane in northern Syria, the world is witnessing the very best of humanity alongside the very worst.

On the Turkish frontier, around the town of Kobane in northern Syria, the world is witnessing the very best of humanity alongside the very worst.

The very best are of course the Kurdish defenders of the town, whose courage and heroism in resisting an onslaught by the forces of IS is such that songs will be written about them in years to come. The sight of those men and women, many barely out of their teens, holding the line with light weapons against the barbaric hoards of IS fighters attacking the town from three sides with heavy artillery and tanks, conjures up parallels with Thermopylae, the Warsaw Ghetto, even Stalingrad in microcosm. And given the medieval ideology of IS, under which women are reduced to the status of slaves, the fact that women are playing such a key role in the town's defence adds an extra dimension of defiance to the barbarism they are facing.

Islamic State has emerged and erupted across northern Syria and Iraq as a direct consequence of the West's disastrous policy of military intervention in the region, going back to 2003 with the war in Iraq. Moreover, in pursuit of its domination of this oil rich part of the world, Washington and its allies have extended themselves in propping up the most vile regimes across the region - specifically corrupt kleptocracies in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, and Kuwait, while lacking the political will to arbitrate a just settlement for the Palestinians.

During this crisis he previously mentioned Gulf States, along with Turkey, a NATO ally of Washington, have managed to navigate a pernicious policy of providing, if not direct certainly indirect, support to IS over the past couple of years, while maintaining the façade of fighting terrorism. The Saudis in particular give new meaning to the word mendacious. That this vile regime retains the support of the West is an affront to decency. The medieval and religious obscurantist creed of Wahhabism, near indistinguishable from the fundamentalist perversion of Islam which underpins the ideology of Al Qaeda and its various offshoots, such as IS, has no place in the 21st century. It is barbarous, inhuman, and incompatible with human rights.

So why is the West an ally of the very state which exists to promote Wahhabism across the region? Oil, trade, and strategic advantage is the answer, of course, but even on those terms the Frankenstein's monster that is IS demands a major reorientation of this policy and alliance.

Indeed, if Washington was serious about defeating IS, it would order airstrikes not only against IS forces on the outskirts of Kobane but also against the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul followed by airstrikes to root out the Saudis in Riyadh.

The world should not make the mistake of holding its breath waiting for this to happen, however, as currently in the White House resides not a president but a comedian masquerading as one.

Obama's recent announcement that he is still formulating a strategy to deal with IS, weeks after their eruption across the region, suggests a president who feels the need to consult his advisors and ponder the issue endlessly before he even takes a trip to the bathroom.

This is not a game. The defenders of Kobane, the Syrian people as a whole, the Iraqi people - the people of the Middle East in their entirety - demand an end to the double dealing, opportunism, and hypocrisy that has defined the West and its allies' role in creating the conditions for the carnage being visited upon them by this murder cult.

Only the most callous would criticize the US airstrikes in recent days against the IS forces surrounding Kobane - airstrikes which those desperately defending the town have been pleading for. We are where are and the plight of Kobane gives its defenders the right to make a pact with the devil himself in order to defeat those who mean to torture, rape, and behead them.

Ultimately, however, until the West desists from its wrongheaded policy of treating Assad as an enemy rather than a crucial pillar of resistance to this poisonous ideology, and understands that a coalition which includes Turkey and the Saudis is no coalition at all, will the region finally begin to emerge from this disaster.

Sadly, anyone betting on such an eventuality is likely to lose their money. For as the saying goes, 'We have met the enemy and it is us'.

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