[Obama refuses to call-out the B-52s over Kobane.]
Nearly 200,000 people have been forced to abandon their homes and flee the town, joining 1.5million Syrian refugees already in Turkey.
Poorly equipped Kurdish fighters — men, women and even children — try in vain with AK-47s to hold back the maniacal hordes of Islamic State fighters, firing the equivalent of popguns against the terrorist group’s modern, heavy-grade, American weapons.
By yesterday, IS had taken a third of the Syrian Kurdish stronghold of Kobane on the border with Turkey.
U.S. and Arab planes and drones have been targeting IS positions, but to little avail.
U.S. General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accepts the town could fall, leaving its remaining citizens facing rape, murder and torture at the hands of the barbarians besieging it.
All the while, just a few hundred yards over the border, Turkish troops look on. As IS fighters stalk the deserted streets of the town, Turkish tanks in sight of the calamity stand idle.
Turkey’s inaction as Kobane falls has provoked worldwide fury. Kurdish expats have taken to the streets throughout the country, and 19 people have died in violent clashes against the government’s troops and police.
The White House has ‘voiced concern’ about Turkey’s reluctance to engage IS, even though it has its own parliament’s approval to do so.
Less diplomatically, a U.S. official told the New York Times: ‘This isn’t how a Nato ally acts while hell is unfolding a stone’s throw from its border.’
It does, indeed, seem outrageous that Turkey, the second-largest land power in Nato with 290,000 troops, and a candidate for EU membership, is doing nothing to prevent a massacre on its doorstep.
Why does it view the prospect of IS’s dreaded black banner fluttering over a town near its border with such apparent equanimity?
The main reason — and it is a very simple one — is that Turkey hates the 1.3 million Syrian Kurds more than it hates IS.
Turkey is home to some 15 million Kurds — about 20 per cent of its population — many of whom are locked in a violent secessionist battle with the Turkish government.
What Turkey really fears is that the Syrian Kurds will establish their own state on the Turkey/Syria border, which could prove deeply destablising to a country with such a large Kurdish population. Anything — even IS — that weakens the Syrian Kurds reduces that threat.
Turkey has for 30 years fought a brutal war against the far-Left militant Kurdish Workers Party, the PKK, until a fragile ceasefire was declared in 2013.
In those blood-soaked decades, 40,000 people were killed in vicious fighting that involved suicide bombers on the terrorist PKK side, the flattening of Kurdish villages on the other — and widespread allegations of torture on both.
What makes Turkey particularly reluctant to defend the Syrian Kurds in Kobane is that they are allied to the PKK, and committed to a Kurdish homeland.
This explains why Turkish border guards have been stopping PKK militia and other Kurdish fighters from joining their Syrian kinsmen in Kobane to fight IS.
And why, in contrast, they turned a blind eye to foreign jihadis flying into Turkey to take the long bus journey over the border to Syria — not to mention the 3,000 Turks who have joined IS after being recruited in rundown provincial towns.
Turkey’s response to IS was certainly complicated by the terrorists’ seizure of 49 Turkish hostages in Syria. But rather than refuse to negotiate, the Turks exchanged them for 180 imprisoned IS sympathisers.
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has made it plain he sees no moral difference between the Kurds in Kobane and IS.
‘It is wrong to view them differently, we need to deal with them jointly,’ he told journalists in Istanbul.
‘Erdogan hates the Syrian Kurds,’ says one diplomat involved in trying to build the anti-IS alliance. ‘He thinks they’re worse than IS.’
Meanwhile, Gilles de Kerchove, the EU’s counter-terrorism co-ordinator, said: ‘The Syrian Kurds are a big concern for Erdogan because he is not done with the PKK.’
It’s true, the PKK are hardly a bunch of angels.
Both the EU and U.S. have designated them a terrorist organisation. The irony is that the West is now implicitly relying on PKK fighters to relieve Kobane. And the fact is that, until IS came along, the Syrian Kurds were getting ever closer to their dreams of an autonomous state.
In the chaos of the Syrian civil war, they had declared their own statelet, calling it ‘Rojava’, which straddled Syria’s northern border with Turkey like a series of cantons.
An embattled President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, locked in a lethal war with IS, tolerated this arrangement, which put Kobane right in the centre of the statelet. Little wonder IS considers the town to be of such strategic significance.
The Syrian Kurds had taken their lead from Kurds in northern Iraq, who have established their own thriving and virtually autonomous regime in an oil-rich region now known as Iraqi Kurdistan.
The difference, however, is that Turkey does not see the Iraqi Kurds — who will have nothing to do with the PKK — as a threat.
Indeed, Ankara has invested hugely in the region and become increasingly dependent on Kurdistan’s oil and gas to fuel its own growth.
In contrast, Turkey fears that any concession to the Syrian Kurds will fuel demands from its own restive Kurdish population for autonomy.
On top of all this, you have the autocratic and self-determined nature of Mr Erdogan who, in a move reminiscent of Russia’s President Putin, appointed himself president this summer after serving 12 years as prime minister.
No Turkish leader since the death in 1938 of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, has invested himself with such power as Erdogan. But whereas Ataturk wanted to distance Turkey from its religious heritage, turning it into a power player in modern Europe, Erdogan has very different ideas.
As part of his general social conservative push, Erdogan has been trying to re-orientate the country away from the decadent West and towards the Arab world, which the Ottoman Turks ruled for centuries.
Up in flames: A fire blazes in the street in Diyarbakir, Turkey. Kurdish protesters clashed with police in Turkey leaving at least a dozen people dead and scores injured on Tuesday
With his ambition to revive of Turkey’s once-great power status, Erdogan has allied the country not only with the conservative Sunni Muslims of Saudi Arabia, but with the Muslim Brotherhood regime of former President Morsi in Egypt, and with the Sunni militant Palestinian group Hamas.
In doing so, he destroyed Turkey’s good relations with Israel, a staunch ally of the Kurds.
Relations with the newly elected military regime in Egypt are grim, too. Erdogan’s emotional pull towards Sunni Arabs means he is implacably opposed to Syria’s President Assad, who is an ally of Shia Iran, and explains why he is so keen to back Assad’s enemies, even if that means backing IS.
That is why he is telling the U.S. that only if America extends its intervention in Syria to toppling Assad will he move a muscle to help the Kurds in Kobane.
Erdogan will drive a very hard bargain before he contemplates any military action, not least because the Turks realise that while Western intervention comes and goes in the Middle East, Turkish intervention in Syria could involve the country in an intractable war that lasts decades.
This, then, is the country which the West hopes will put men on the ground to repulse IS.
Some hope. For as well as supporting the terrorists, Turkey has been allowing British jihadis to cross its borders, while simultaneously claiming to join the anti-IS coalition.
Tragically for President Obama and the West, at this terrifying moment when IS appears to be unstoppable, Turkey is also the country that holds most of the cards.