Demystifying Turkey’s Approach to ISIS

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Parliamentary Authorization an Aegis for Intervention in Syria

Siamak Kakaei
Expert on Turkey Issues

A recent bill approved by the Turkish parliament allowing the country’s army to carry out military operations outside Turkish borders has led to many controversies and disputes both inside Turkey and across the entire region, prompting most analysts to discuss the real goals that Turkey is seeking through approval of this bill. 

Analysts have been thinking about why the Turkish government has out of a sudden decided to get authorization from the parliament for conducting military operations outside its borders. The measure has been also construed as a sign of medium-term goals that Turkey is pursuing by adopting an aggressive policy toward its neighbors, including Syria and Iraq. The important point is that paving the way for fighting the ISIS terrorist group has been mentioned by the government as the main reason for the submission of the bill to the parliament. However, in its nature, this plan does seek to actually pit Turkey against the ISIS through military action. Many analysts, therefore, believe that the decision is just a symbolic measure. This is the most important reason why neighboring countries around Turkey are pessimistic about Ankara’s true intentions behind applying for a parliamentary authorization for military operations beyond borders. Even within Turkey, political parties that are opposed to the incumbent government have warned the officials against playing with fire.

First of all, the bill seeking authorization for the Ankara government’s military intervention in Syria is certainly a reaction to mounting international pressure on Turkey because the world’s public opinion considers Ankara as a main source of support for the ISIS group. Speculations in this regard started to soar after the ISIS released 49 nationals and diplomats of Turkey, who had been taken into captivity by the group in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. Secondly, asking for authorization to carry out military operations beyond Turkey’s border with Syria is not considered a new measure by the government in Ankara. The country’s parliament had already authorized the government to carry out military operations in Syria, and for many long years, the same government has been also conducting military operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Iraq. Now, Turkey is trying to do the same in Syria and it seems that the administration of new Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is grasping the existing opportunity for fighting against the ISIS as a prelude to the implementation of its aggressive policy toward Syria.

During recent months, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has offered plans for the establishment of a buffer zone the latest of which was a plan for establishment a safe fly zone along his country’s border with Syria. It seems that by doing so, Turkish officials are trying to create a security atmosphere along the country’s border with Syria because this issue can provide a ground for the military intervention of Turkey in its southern neighbor. The third issue here is that the recent decision by the Turkish parliament to authorize the government to carry out military operations beyond the country’s border is not actually a plan to stave off the threat posed by the ISIS. It is rather a strategic move in order to bring the activities of Syrian Kurds under Ankara’s control and also to restrict movements by the PKK in neighboring areas of Turkey and Syria.

It seems that despite this development, the Turkish army is not actually resolved to engage in a serious battle with the ISIS. However, the parliament’s authorization will pave the way for the army to take action against the PKK any time it deems necessary and use parliament’s decision as an excuse to launch operations along the border with Syria or even enter the Iraqi territory for the same purpose. However, it should be noted that the parliament’s decision cannot change the nature of Turkey’s political approach toward the ISIS on its own.

Key Words: Turkey, ISIS, Parliamentary Authorization, Intervention in Syria, Kurdistan Workers’ Party, Iraq, Ahmet Davutoglu, Recep Tayyip Erdogan,  Kakaei 

Source: Hamshahri Online
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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*Photo Credit: Daily Sabah

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