01 October 2014

Turkey May No Longer be a Bystander with ISIS


Turkey may no longer be a bystander in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS). On Tuesday, the Turkish government sought a mandate from Parliament to expand cross-border military operations into Iraq and Syria. This week Parliament will vote on whether or not to authorize it, as Turkish soldiers and tanks position themselves along the border with Syria.

It’s not clear whether Turkey would immediately send in ground troops or conduct airstrikes over Syria. However, even though Parliament is likely to approve the mandate, the government will most likely not authorize ground troops without an internationally backed no-fly zone in northern Syria. The White House is said to be considering a no-fly zone.

Until now, Turkey has had a less active military role against ISIS. Given it shares a 560-mile border with Syria, Turkey has to put more focus on ISIS controlling border points. Since ISIS besieged Kobani last week, more than 160,000 Kurdish refugees have poured into the country, according the semiofficial Anadolu News Agency. Kobani is a Syrian border town, and Turkey can’t ignore the fact ISIS fighters are at its front door steps. Turkish leaders have already shown support in the United States-led operations against the militant group, but the push for this mandate is the first proactive military move. Should Parliament authorize Turkish troops on the ground? If it comes to the no-fly zone, should the U.S. back a no-fly zone in northern Syria? What else can the U.S. and other NATO members do to eliminate Turkey’s hesitation with combat force?

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