By Abdennour Toumi
On Monday, according to local sources of Kurdish media, fighters of the YPG entered the city of Kobani, united with the forces of the Kurdish Alliance, and now together they control 90% of the town and its environs.
The city of Kobani has been seen as a major testing-ground for the Kurdish people in this unfolding dynamic of the Syrian crisis and their struggle for a greater Kurdistan.
Tens of thousands of people fled across the nearby border with Turkey after ISO launched an offensive in mid-September, capturing all outlying villages in its path before entering the predominantly Kurdish town itself.
The fighting left at least a thousand people dead, the vast majority of them among the ISO militants.
On Tuesday, under a bright blue sky on a red-sandy field, thousands of Syrian and Turkish Kurds came from the neighboring provinces of Antep, Mardin, Batman and Deyar Bekir to celebrate and attend the victory concert dedicated to the people of Kobani in the village of Seruç, women wearing their most colorful dresses and chales. PYD and YPG flags were flying all around Seruç and waiving over the crowd of heads both male and female who joined in dancing the Debka.
The Kurds in Seruç are jubilant, declaring they have triumphed over the so-called ISO. They even mocked them in a stage play about the atrocities of ISO and how they looked upon the Kurds. In one line from the play, an ISO militant calls the sheikh to inform him about a young Kurd who was arrested. The sheikh asks, “is he Kurdish?” The emir answers affirmative, and the sheikh screams, “what are you waiting for? Slaughter him!!!”
A festive mood a la Woodstock prevailed, Kurdish faces shining full of hope, dancing and chanting for their APO leader Abdullah Öçalan. The PYD, a branch of the PKK, and the PYG militants made their heavy presence known keeping an attentive eye for any strange moves or comportment.
They warned the families not to get too close to the border demarcation zone that was only a few hundred meters away.
If this is indeed the victory that the Kurds claim, it would certainly change the trajectory of the negotiation process that is taking place between the Turkish government and the PKK. On this matter, Turkey’s Premier extended his hand further to the Kurds last Sunday during his party’s convention in Deyar Bekir saying, “a son of Konya and a son of Deyar Bekir could sit around a table and not run and hide in the mountains!”
However, the situation in the eastern outskirts is still tense with YPG fighters carrying out the final push and besieging areas where they believe ISO leaders might still be hiding.
Although the fight against ISO is far from over, ISO’s defeat in Kobani has denied them one of their strategic objectives and puts their selling-point in doubt.
The Kobani loss would be both a symbolic and a strategic blow for the group, but this setback for ISO does not necessary mean they are losing overall.
Yet the Kurds across the region are exchanging their melancholy for a glimmering sense of hope and anticipating a self-autonomy ruling like that of the self-declared Syrian Kurdish canton of Kobani and the eastern part of Rojava in Qamishli under the watch of the KRG in Iraq.
(Story and photos by Abdennour Toumi.)