News Daily Spot: Turkey Islamic State Attack Risks Retaliation

more news

Turkey Islamic State Attack Risks Retaliation

As a fulcrum of empires for millennia, Turkey straddles the straits between Europe and Asia giving the lie to Kipling's adage that "East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet" – but the balancing act can be mortally dangerous.
 RecepTayyipErdogan, Turkey’s Muslim conservative president, has sought a balance between remaining an important member of NATO, vocally calling for international intervention against Bashar al Assad, and containing the spread of so-called Islamic State’s violent extremism into his own country.
This week the scales have been tipping dangerously, forcing an escalation against IS – and that may be exactly what the death cult wants.
On Monday, 32 civilians were murdered by a suicide bomber in Suruc – an attack on a mostly ethnic Kurd group preparing to take aid into Kobane, the Syrian town recently liberated from IS.
The killer was a Kurd but a member of IS, Turkish authorities say.
Two Turkish policemen were then murdered, allegedly by a Kurd separatist group angered by what it saw as a failure of the Turks to protect them.
Then on Thursday a cross-border skirmish between IS and the Turkish army near Kilis left one dead on each side and sparked three air strikes by Turkey against IS targets nearby.
Coincidentally, the Turks also, finally, gave permission to the US-led coalition to use the Incirlik air base for operations against IS in Syria and Iraq.
This latest development will allow the coalition to hit IS harder, faster and in more volume than before.
But it inevitably risks retaliation against soft Turkish targets – like tourism centres – as Ankara more heartily joins the fight against the jihadis.
Mr Erdogan’s government has long argued that - while IS is a threat - the genesis of the horrors that the Middle East has endured for the last three years was in Damascus and the Assad regime.
He’s unsuccessfully called for a no-fly zone to be imposed against Mr Assad’s barrel-bombing forces and pleaded for the establishment of a buffer zone in northern Syria to protect his borders and give a safe haven to civilians.
It would also serve as a buffer against Kurdish separatists whom Turkey fears are being empowered in the fight against IS.
The more support Turkey now gives to the fight against IS the more it will look like it’s tipped its balance towards the West.
But Mr Erdogan will also to be able to make a powerful case to NATO allies and other coalition partners to rebalance the complicated campaign in Syria which looks to many in the east like a campaign against Sunnis and a cynical tolerate of Mr Assad’s atrocities.
It would be worth Western leaders listening to Turkey – or they risk being weighed in the strategic scales and being found tragically wanting.

click here