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Suspicions Surround Turkey’s Escalation Against Islamic State

Posted July 28th, 2015 at 3:20 pm (UTC-4)
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Obama Paid a High Price to Get Turkey to Fight ISIS

Patrick J. Smith – The Fiscal Times

President Obama got Erdoğan’s consent to allow American fighter jets to launch missions into Syria from two Turkish bases in a telephone call last Wednesday. The next day Turkish tank and artillery units fought ISIS militants for the first time; early Friday, Turkish F-16s bombed at least eight targets inside Syria and Iraq.

From the Ankara government: “The terrorist organization represents a national security threat to Turkey, and we are working closely with our allies, including the United States, to combat terrorism.” Boilerplate.

From Washington: Regarding the U.S. and Turkey, State Department spokesperson John Kirby said, “We have decided to further deepen our cooperation in the fight against ISIL….” as State calls the Islamic State. That’s it. More boilerplate.

As a tactical expedient, there’s obvious advantage for the Pentagon in this pact. U.S. warplanes can now take off and land much closer to the Syrian border than they can from bases in Iraq, Jordan, and the Persian Gulf….

…the Obama administration gives no indication of a long-term strategy to stabilize the Middle East’s arc of crisis. Where is the rounded thinking, the blueprint for “a new security regime in the Middle East,” as Jeffrey Sachs, the Columbia University development economist, put it last week?

Short-term gain, long-term loss: This is the fruit of Washington’s recruitment of Turkey into the Middle East’s widening war.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the media in front of a mosque in Istanbul on July 24, 2015.  (AP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the media in front of a mosque in Istanbul on July 24, 2015. (AP)

Turkey’s Shift on the Syrian War

 The Editorial Board – The New York Times

Turkey significantly escalated its involvement in Syria’s civil war by carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and announcing that it would allow American military aircraft targeting the terrorist group to fly sorties out of Turkey.

These moves by Turkey, a NATO member that has one of the most powerful militaries in the region and has long been wary of deeper engagement in the Syrian war, could substantially bolster efforts to fight the Islamic State.

But that shift was immediately followed by a dangerous development that will create even more turmoil in the region….

In the short term, Turkey’s action is counterproductive for fighting ISIS. A Syrian offshoot of the P.K.K. known as the People’s Protection Units, or Y.P.G., has been among the most reliable allies for the American military in Syria, as it has desperately sought fighters it can trust in Syria to hold down terrain.

If Turkey were to focus on routing the Islamic State, the multinational fight could possibly gain more traction. Allowing American war planes to operate out of Turkey significantly cuts down flight time to and from targets. Turkey also appears more willing than ever to take meaningful steps to choke off the Islamic State’s pipelines of fighters and money. Those are important steps.

But Turkey’s simultaneous campaign against the Kurds could seriously undermine those efforts.

Mourners gather around the body of a DHKP-C militant, who was killed during a major police sweep that was launched against the group and the Kurdish rebel group, the PKK, and also Islamic State militants, Istanbul, July 25, 2015. (AP)

Mourners gather around the body of a DHKP-C militant, who was killed during a major police sweep that was launched against the group and the Kurdish rebel group, the PKK, and also Islamic State militants, Istanbul, July 25, 2015. (AP)

Instead Of Fighting ISIS, Erdogan Pushes Turkey Toward Chaos And Despotism

Melik Kaylan – Forbes

Let us remember that Turkey conducted a national election on June 7 and still hasn’t formed a government. All these decisions in a time of crisis are being taken by somebody. Someone’s running the country….

The air raids for instance. Worth a little scrutiny. For example, you have to wonder, since the Turkish air force knew of PKK targets in Iraq, so quickly and easily neutralized, why didn’t it act before? And why attack Syrian Kurds near Kobani who, after all, are busy fighting off ISIS? Especially if you’ve declared ISIS the enemy because it has killed 30 people in a suicide bomb inside Turkey.

On the ISIS front, it’s worth viewing the video put out by Ankara of the air strikes against several sites by F-16s using laser-guided munitions. All the targets seem to have one thing in common: they’re each at a safe distance from residential complexes in ISIS territory. They’re set apart in open fields. They betray no marks of military activity.

Now, humanitarian though this might seem – which itself begs the question – you still have to wonder. Does ISIS keep strategic targets clear of population centers? And, if so, why were such targets still so manifestly available. The US has waged its air war against ISIS since last September. They left a few for the Turks? The skeptic might ask if these were meaningful targets at all.

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