Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | Turkey | ISIS | Syria

Susan Rice: Turkey Will Be 'Important Player' in ISIS Campaign

By    |   Wednesday, 24 September 2014 11:49 AM

Turkey will be an "important player" in the campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS) that's being waged in Iraq and Syria, said National Security Advisor Susan Rice.

Turkey, which borders both Iraq and Syria, has already been involved in supporting "elements in Iraq and the Kurds" as well as aiding the Syrian rebels, Rice told MSNBC's "Morning Joe," adding they understood the impact ISIS could have on their country.

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"Turkey is a very important player in this. I think now that their hostages have been released, we expect Turkey, both as a NATO ally and as a country very directly affected by what's happening in Syria and Iraq, to play an important role," Rice said Wednesday.

Turkey was absent from the initial airstrikes launched by the U.S. and five Arab nations against ISIS in Syria on Monday evening. Rice said talks would continue with Turkish officials over "what form that role takes" in the ISIS effort.

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Jordan participated in Monday's attacks, and Rice said that officials with each country told Obama they recognized that the fight against ISIS was their war to wage.

"These were all countries that met with the president of the United States yesterday, and underscored that this is their fight. That is their words. That this is their fight," Rice said. "They welcome U.S. support. They welcome U.S. leadership."

The nations that participated with the U.S. in the airstrikes in Syria represented "a collection of five important countries in that region," Rice said, adding that their involvement was not "in a cosmetic way," but included "taking strikes."

In addition, Rice said the White House had been assembling a coalition of over 40 countries through "a lot of very hard, quiet diplomatic work." She said the administration was "well aware" of concerns about tensions among the countries involved in the effort, though the cause against ISIS also united them.

"Yesterday, in the meeting with President Obama, they were together underscoring the same message that [ISIS] was a threat to them all, and that together they have to confront this threat," Rice said. "[ISIS] has had [a] remarkable unifying effect, and U.S. leadership has been a critical piece of this."

Training the Syrian rebels to combat ISIS was going to "take time," though the U.S. has been "partnering for some time with the Syrian moderate opposition, the vetted opposition," Rice explained, adding the administration was going to work to "vet these fighters carefully."

"Obviously, we want to be sure that those that we're giving our support to are those we have confidence in. And, then, we will also need to build their ranks and their skills. It's not something we can do with the flip of a switch," she said.

Rice indicated working with military forces in Iraq would be easier, building on the Iraqi special forces and the Kurdish Peshmurga, though some troops had "atrophied and need additional equipment, additional training and support."

Rice said she saw no scenario that included the use of U.S. ground troops in the effort, because it had to be "the fight that the locals take to the terrorists on their own ground."

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Turkey will be an important player in the campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS) that's being waged in Iraq and Syria, said National Security Advisor Susan Rice.
Turkey, ISIS, Syria
Wednesday, 24 September 2014 11:49 AM
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