SUAT – Turkey’s stance on ISIL seems to be changing

Turkey’s stance on ISIL seems to be changingThe news that Turkey has delivered aid to Baghdad in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)ame a day after I listened to Gen. John Allen, the US special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL at an event at the Atlantic Council.

During this event, Gen. Allen provided an overview of his work and the challenges ahead in the fight against ISIL.

When asked about Turkeyand#39s role in the fight against ISIL he was rather polite. Allen noted that the conversation he andldquowas engaged in with Turkey has been productive.

andquot This comes in stark contrast to what we have been hearing from President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan in recent months. ErdoIanand#39s resistance to supporting the coalition effort to aid the Kurds in Kobani and his unwillingness to open Incirlik Air Base for coalition warplanes has been duly registered.

Given Gen. Allenand#39s remarks and the news of Turkish aid deliveries to Iraq, it seems Turkeyand#39s policy on ISIL is changing.

Ankara and Washingtonand#39s disagreement over the objective of the Syrian rebels once they are trained and led into the fight in Syria is now widely known. Washington wants to degrade and defeat ISIS, while Ankara wants Assad out of the picture.

Allenand#39s comments about an andldquoamicable and rich conversationandrdquo with Turkish authorities on this subject indicate that some challenges still remain. Regarding the Turkish change of heart, two dynamics seem to be at play.

First, Ankara now understands better the cost of its blunder in refusing to aid the Kurds in Kobani. Prime Minister Ahmet DavutoIlu certainly comprehends better than ErdoIan that there is little sympathy for Turkey on this issue.

He also sees that ISIS is now much more vulnerable and that it may suffer significant losses in Iraq. He wants to be on the winning side.

Second, Washington seems to have underscored the significance to Ankara that its continued reluctance to support the coalition may have lasting consequences. In any case, it is welcome news that Turkey is acting as a true member of the coalition.

This is a position Ankara should have adopted from the very beginning.The lesson learned from this bizarre and equally unsuccessful policy of appeasing ISIL has been a monumental loss of prestige and image in the international arena for Turkey.

The obvious sympathy Ankara harbored for ISIL has now been confronted with the cold reality in the region. Needless to say, Ankaraand#39s change of heart also coincides with the possibility of ISIL striking targets inside Turkey.

Turkeyand#39s standing in the international community has been already damaged by this authoritarian government and ErdoIanand#39s erratic statements. On top of that, the perception that Turkey was somehow not with its allies in the fight against ISIL has even further compromised Turkeyand#39s position.

After all the wobbling and the outright intransigence we have seen in recent months, it is good to see that Turkish policy is now slowly coming in line with its allies. However, this constant uncertainty and unreliability that Ankara has projected have seriously damaged Turkeyand#39s standing, and we will feel its consequences for some time to come.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman