By Sal Bommarito
Turkey has become a flashpoint in the war against ISIS. The country’s mixed loyalties and fears have complicated President Obama’s objectives to destroy ISIS in Syria.
The latest problem has arisen on the Syrian side of the border with Turkey. In a town called Kobani, Syrian Kurds are fighting for their lives against ISIS forces. It is expected that the city will fall barring more assistance from either Turkey or the U.S.
As usual, it is important to understand the objectives of the players in this episode of hostilities.
The U.S. wants to take down ISIS forces but only with airstrikes. “Airstrikes alone are not going to fix this, not going to save the town of Kobani, said Rear Adm. John Kirby.” President Obama has been pressing Turkey president Erdogan to launch air attacks in the Kobani area to assist the Syrian Kurds and employ ground troops to root out ISIS terrorists.
Turkey’s principal objectives are to bring down the regime of Bashar al-Assad, president of Syria, and prevent Turkish Kurds from uniting with Syrian Kurds, as it could represent a political risk to Turkey at a later time. Note: the Kurds want to establish their own nation.
Turkey has refused to intervene until the U.S. has established a no fly zone in Syria, which would protect Turkish forces from air attacks along with other demands, including a buffer zone to protect Syrian refugees.
The tepid response by Turkey is problematic because it may weaken the U.S. led coalition and encourage other members of the group to limit their involvement.
The question is why didn’t the U.S. have an agreement in place with Turkey to be more aggressive on its border with Syria? Once again, it appears that the nations in greatest jeopardy of an ISIS attack prefer that the U.S. be responsible for all or most military operations.
It is doubtful that the U.S. is going to be successful against ISIS without increased support from allies in the region, if the use of U.S. boots on the ground is off the table by presidential edict.