Cold Turkey

The country says it disapproves of the American weapons drop over Kobani because some arms fell into ISIS hands. But Ankara's protest is really about something else.

On Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered this sharp critique of an American airdrop of weapons on Monday, which was meant to reach the Kurdish fighters in the Syrian town of Kobani: "What was done here on this subject turned out to be wrong. Why did it turn out wrong? Because some of the weapons they dropped from those C130s were seized by ISIL."

As we noted on Tuesday, at least one cache of American weapons was reportedly intercepted by Islamic State fighters, who have been engaged with Syrian Kurds in a feverous battle for Kobani for over a month now. The Pentagon claims that an overwhelming majority of weapons reached the Kurds.

So did the misstep negate the whole act of arming the Kurdish peshmerga? According to Erdogan, yes. However, Turkey was already disinclined to support the arming of the Kurds to begin with. In announcing the military boost earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addressed both American and Turkish misgivings about arming the Syrian Kurds.

"We understand fully the fundamentals of (Ankara's) opposition and ours to any kind of terrorist group, and particularly, obviously, the challenges they face with respect to the PKK."

The Syrian Kurds are linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a group of Turkish Kurds that both Turkey and the United States have previously declared to be a terrorist organization. However, as Kerry implored, "We cannot take our eye off the prize here."

Despite its historic opposition, Turkey may be slowly changing its tune. After some prodding, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said it would allow Iraqi Kurdish fighters to cross into Syria to help aid the efforts in Kobani. On Wednesday, reports of the attempted kidnapping of a high-profile Syrian commander in Turkey surfaced and, along with it, the sense that the Islamic State is taking root in another country.