Turkish turnaround

For the past several days the Turkish air force has been attacking IS forces across its border in northern Syria and the Turkish Govt. has suddenly agreed to allow the USAF to use its facilities in Turkey, particularly the Incirlik base, to carry out such attacks.  What has caused the Turkish Govt. to make this significant turnaround?  Clearly the terrorist suicide bombing in the border town of Suruc that killed 30 people as well as attacks on Turkish forces played a significant role.

Until now the Turkish policy has been more concerned with the Kurdish opposition to Pres. Assad of Syria than with the Islamists (IS and al-Qaeda affiliates).  Under considerable pressure, the Turkish Govt. allowed Kurdish Pesh Merga forces to traverse Turkish territory from the Kurdish Autonomous enclave in Iraq to that in northern Syria to bolster the Kurdish YPG forces fighting IS in the town of Kobani.  But, nevertheless the Turkish Govt. has been very resistant to all Kurdish actions.

Meanwhile there has been suspicion of cooperation between the Turks and the IS forces fighting in Syria.  It has become a scandal that Western (British, French and other) Islamist recruits are able to fly to Turkey and then take a journey across the country and cross the Turkish border into Syria without any problem.  How is it that Turkey has not been able to interdict thousands of Muslims travelling to join IS on Western passports?  This is very suspicious and smacks of cooperation of Turkey with IS.

But, after the terrorist incident that has been blamed on a Turkish member of IS, the Turkish Govt. decided to abruptly change its policy.  But, its not as simple as that, because the Turkish authorities rounded up as many as 300 terrorists, but most of them turned out to be Kurds.  And the locations that the Turkish air force has been attacking in Syria turn out to include many Kurdish fortifications.  So Turkey is now attacking combatants on both sides of the civil war in Syria, the Kurds and the IS, who are at the same time attacking each other.  And you thought the Middle East was complex.



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