Tags: America's Forum | ISIS/Islamic State | Turkey | ISIS | Kurds | Erdogan

Ex-Embassy Official: Turkey Weighs Options Before Engaging ISIS

By    |   Thursday, 09 October 2014 11:19 AM

Turkey has not joined the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) because officials there are likely figuring out which regime poses the greatest threat to the country, former Turkish embassy official Joshua Walker said Thursday on Newsmax TV's “America’s Forum.”

“When you boil it down, this comes down to do the Turks think that ISIS is a bigger threat or do they think that Assad and his regime or do they worry about a Kurdish independent state that is supportive of a terrorist organization that they've been fighting for over three decades now,” Walker said.

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While Turkish leaders have said they won’t allow the Syrian border city Kobani, which is majority Kurds, to fall to ISIS, they have done nothing to stop the advance despite having tanks deployed along the border, Walker said, adding that ISIS is certain to wrest control of Kobani.

“This is about when, and not if, at this point in time,” said Walker. “Everyone seems to be in the 11th hour trying to do everything they can to keep Kobani. It's amazing to me that they've made Kobani the rallying cry. You've heard President Erdogan say that if Kobani falls, this will be a big problem. The Kurdish leaders in Turkey have said that if Kobani falls, the peace process is done. This has major domestic ramifications.

"We've seen already 25 people in Turkey die over the last couple days. First time in over three decades that we've seen a curfew imposed in Turkey. This is very serious for Turkey and what's surprising is how Turkey has continually blamed the U.S. and blamed other actors when they are the largest military power in the region that has not taken steps yet.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a “big problem on his hands,” according to Walker, who explained that Erdogan is motivated by a desire to remain in power, but to do so he needs the Kurdish vote.

“He's been in power for the last 12 years,” said Walker. “He's just become the president of the republic. To win the next set of parliamentary elections, he needs the Kurdish vote.

"And so he has made a tacit agreement with the Kurds of Turkey. He’s s done more than any other political leader to bring Turks and Kurds together and all of a sudden the Syrian peace continues to explode and given that the only people fighting ISIS in the north of Syria and the north of Iraq are Kurds, the PKK, which is the major terrorist organization that the U.S. and Turkey have been fighting for the last three decades, is now becoming the good guy.

“This puts President Erdogan in a very difficult situation. Does he work with the PKK and its Syrian offshoots? Or does he basically join the U.S. coalition to support them and go against ISIS when actually his major objective is to keep power, keep the Kurds out of that region of the world, and to defeat Assad in the long term.”

Turkey must be engaged, Walker said, but the question is “how they get involved and will they drag the U.S. in with whatever they do next.”

Turkey is likely swayed by a perceived “lack of commitment” by the U.S., which has not even given the operation a name, Walker said. That criticism has been echoed throughout the region.

“He (Erdogan) continually puts it back on the U.S. and says the U.S. has sat by for the last two-and-a-half years and let this war rage,” Walker explained. “There was a red line that was set, no one is stepping up to. So there is a fair criticism there but there's a lot of blame to go around here and the question is we can play the blame game all we want, but now we've got a humanitarian disaster and a crisis on our hands. What are we going to do about it? What's the next step and what is the administration's policy on resolving this situation both in Syria and in northern Iraq with ISIL?”

Erdogan has called for a buffer zone that would send the 1.4 million refugees in Turkey back to Syria and have American and Turkish forces provide protection. The U.S. has not agreed since that “would mean another land war for the United States.”

“It doesn't' seem the American people are in a mood for that,” he said. “The administration has certainly not put that on the table. They're considering it, but that's not what they're moving towards right now. So it seems unlikely in the short term.”

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Turkey has not joined the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) because officials there are likely figuring out which regime poses the greatest threat to the country, former Turkish embassy official Joshua Walker said Thursday on Newsmax TV's “America’s Forum.”
Turkey, ISIS, Kurds, Erdogan
Thursday, 09 October 2014 11:19 AM
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