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Turkey's leaders see Kobani as opportunity, not threat

The fall of Kobani would deal a severe blow to Kurdish independence hopes and bolster Turkey's political goals.
A protester throws stones at an armoured army vehicle during a pro-Kurdish demonstration in solidarity with people of Kobani, near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border, in the Turkish town of Suruc in southeastern Sanliurfa province October 7, 2014. Islamic State fighters advanced into the south west of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani overnight, a monitoring group said on Tuesday, taking several buildings to gain attacking positions from two sides of the city.  REUTERS/Umit Bektas

As Islamic State (IS) fighters keep up their battle to gain control over Kobani, a strategic Syrian Kurdish-controlled enclave on Turkey’s border, the effects of the conflict are being felt in Turkey itself. Thousands of Kurds took to the streets across the country on Oct. 7 to protest Turkey’s inaction against IS' seemingly unstoppable advance. The government slapped curfews on six provinces in the mainly Kurdish southeast region after clashes between protestors and the security forces, and between rival Kurdish groups, left at least 14 people dead. Elsewhere across the country, police clashed with demonstrators, trying to push them back with pressurized water and pepper spray while the Kurds responded with Molotov cocktails in a foretaste of the violence that is likely to engulf the country should Kobani fall.

None of this comes as a surprise. Many Kurds continue to believe that Turkey is complicit in the jihadists’ onslaught against Kobani. Cemil Bayik, one of the top commanders of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), repeated this claim in a Sept. 25 interview with Al-Monitor. Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned PKK leader, is threatening to call off peace talks with the Ankara government should there be a massacre in the enclave. Turkey denies it is siding with IS.

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