The Strategist

Turkey and the U.S aim for creating a zone free of Islamic State fighters

07/28/2015 - 12:32

Turkey, a NATO member, has finally seen the light of the day and has agreed to join the U.S led coalition against terrorist organisations. However, the dynamics of the situation is complex with each player having its own agenda.

The United States and Turkey have joined forces to provide a strategic air cover for Syrian rebels who are fighting to keep those loose bandits of the Islamic State at bay from a strip of land bordering Turkey. This will not only bolster security for NATO members but also provide a safe haven for civilians in that area.
Despite the barbarity the Islamic State has let loose, Turkey has been so far obstinate in joining the fight against this evil until now. Last week, it made a dramatic turnaround and has granted the coalition, led by the United States, access to its bases. It has also allowed the alliance to bombard targets in Syria which have been intrinsically linked to the jihadists.
One of the reasons for its obstinacy to join the alliance has been its burden of sheltering 1.8 million Syrian refugees. It has since long campaigned for a “no fly zone” in northern Syria so as to keep Kurdish militants as well as fighters from the Islamic State away from its borders, so that it can deal with the tide of displayed civilians.
Although no such formality has seen the light of day, the two allies have at least seen the need to provide air cover for moderate Syrian rebels who are fighting the Islamic State.
"What we have now is air coverage to clear a region from Daesh (Islamic State) and support the moderate opposition so they can gain control of that region," said Davutoglu in an interview broadcast live on Turkish television.
"We do not want to see Daesh on Turkey's borders."
U.S officials in Washington were discussing the modalities regarding the scope and the size of the zone which would allow the Syrian rebels to operate freely. They have however ruled out the creation of a formal no-fly zone and have said that the plan was not aimed at creating a "safe zone" for Syrian refugees.
“The purpose of the operation is not to create a safe zone into which Syrian refugees will go," said a senor official from the Obama administration, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"They might go, but that’s not the purpose of the operation. The purpose of the operation is to clear the border and close the border to Daesh,” said the official.
Meanwhile, Turkey, a member of NATO, is expected to brief its allies on the measures it taking to create this zone. However, as per two people with knowledge of the discussion, it did not request any air or troop support during preparations for the meeting.
"Turkey has a very strong army and very strong security forces so there has been no request for any substantial NATO military support," said General Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary, to the BBC.
On its part, Turkey has launched night strikes on Kurdish insurgents camps in Iraq in what it called a "full-fledged battle against all terrorist organizations". However, this renewed military campaign against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), with which it has battled for three decades has raised suspicionsthat Turkey’s real agenda is to check Kurdish territorial ambitions rather than fighting the hooligans of the Islamic States.
Source: Reuters