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The ISIL militants in Syria have posed a security threat in the Middle East. The advancement by ISIL has been described by the United States and the western world as a threat to regional and international security (Kelly, par. 4). The U.S. and NATO have been carrying airstrikes against ISIL. There are ground fighters, mainly the Kurdish fighters that have been confronting and preventing the ISIL from taking over the strategic town of Kobani. The United States and allied forces have been supporting the Kurdish fighters by supplying them with weapons (Kelly, par. 4). Meanwhile, the western countries have been urging Turkey to be actively involved in the fight against the ISIL. Though a member of NATO, Turkey has been reluctant to combat the ISIL. Turkey has been in a political dilemma to fight or not fight because there are aspects of national security and economic implications.
Turkey’s foreign policy towards its neighbors has been that of a balancer and a conciliator. Turkey has a regional policy that is aimed at advancing its hegemony in the region (Akyel, par. 4). The foreign policy has led to its divided stance in fighting ISIL, which has posed a threat to the economic and political stability of Turkey. However, the increasing threat by ISIL has necessitated a change of policy. The change of policy has seen Turkey allow the U.S. and the allied forces to use its territory to launch attacks against the ISIL. In addition, Turkey has allowed the allied forces to train the moderate Kurdish fighters as a ground strategy of combating the ISIL. The Turkish parliament authorized the Turkey government to back the allied forces by directly making incursions into Syria.
The public has been in support of the policy; however, there are fears that the empowerment of some rebel groups by the U.S. may result in another security risk for Turkey (Akyel, par. 6). The policy has been effective, as it has weakened the ISIL’s advancement in Kobani town. In addition, the policy allowing the coalition forces to use Turkey’s bases has placed the country in a better position to convince the U.S. to enforce a no-fly zone in the region bordering Syria.
Statement on the Necessity for Change
The current policy that supports U.S. and NATO training and providing weapons for Kurdish fighters contradicts Turkey’s policy on regional peace. An autonomous ISIL poses a high risk to regional stability. Even though the current policy seems to be successful in preventing the spread of ISIL in Kobani town, Turkey may be exposing itself to the danger of stronger Kurdish forces that may threaten the internal security on the ouster of the ISIL. Thus, there is the need to take decisive measures that ensure that the economic prosperity, security, and political stability of Turkey and the region is not compromised by the current fight against ISIL.
The approach should include lobbying for ground forces from the allied forces to combat ISIL instead of arming the regional militants that may pose a great threat to the region. The supply of weapons to Kurdish may provide the basis for the weapons to end up in the wrong hands, which is a major concern for the Turkish government.
In the fight against the Kurdish and military occupation of Kobani, some ISIL bombardment has ended in Turkey’s territory. The result has been a fall in the stock market prices in Ankara. Investors have raised concerns on economic turndown due to shelling by ISIL (Akyel, par. 11). The policy by Turkey government to allow U.S. and NATO forces to use Turkey’s military bases has provided the needed strategy to force the ISIL outside the Kobani town and other strategic positions in Syria. The result has been restoring economic confidence by investors, and the stock market prices have stabilized.
The policy also includes military training and arming of the Kurdish fighters. Though this has helped in repelling the ISIL advancements in the Kobani town, there is the risk of the trained groups being a threat to Turkey. Weapons in the hands of Kurdish fighters could easily end up in the hands of some rebel groups in Turkey; hence, risking the political, security, and stability of the country.
The continued advancement of ISIL has led to Turkey’s parliament authorizing military incursion of the ISIL. The policy is very viable and provides a decisive stance of Ankara towards armed groups. The policy provides Turkey with a viable option to defend its internal peace and protect its borders. However, the policy goes against its foreign policy of non-interventions in neighboring states. Hence, the Turkish military tanks have been positioned on the border but have not been actively involved in the intervention. The main disadvantage of the direct intervention is that it will drag Turkey to direct confrontation with ISIL and may compromise its neutrality policy in the region (Akyel, par. 12). Therefore, Turkey has been left with no option but to lobby for an inclusive policy to fight ISIL.
The option entails a policy to advocate for ground troops from the U.S. and NATO. Even though the U.S. and the allied forces have continuously used airstrikes against ISIL, the coalition has been pushing Turkey to take decisive actions and actively deploy combat troops on the ground. Combat troops will play a critical role in fighting ISIL. However, Turkey should not be left to tackle the ISIL alone; ground forces composing of the U.S. and NATO will be the best option.
The forces will directly fight and create a buffer zone that will secure the border between Syrian and Turkey. In addition, stability in Syria will be achieved, which will translate to a stable region in line with Turkey’s foreign policy. The move will also avoid the necessity of arming Kurdish fighters, which may pose a security challenge to Turkey later. The main disadvantage of the allied combat troops is that the strategy may be perceived as an occupation of Syria. The strategy may escalate the problem as troops loyal to the Assad regime, and anti-western rebels may form a strong coalition.
In order to remain a regional peace player and promote its hegemony, Turkey has to adopt a policy that will ensure that it keeps its ties with NATO and, at the same time, restore its policy of neutrality in the region. Therefore, Turkey should advocate for a combat troop from the allied forces to fight the ISIL and discourage the training of Kurdish and other Syrian rebel fighters. There should be comprehensive discussions with the U.S. and other NATO members on the strategies that will be used to ensure that mutual benefit and participation is achieved. The strategy should be designed in a manner to dispel the perception of the Syrian occupation. It should include entry and exit strategies to neutralize the ISIL in the shortest time possible.
Turkey should discount the policy that allows the training and supply of weapons to Kurdish fighters. The combat troops should have the capability to fight without the use of regional militants. The people fleeing Syria present a security risk for Turkey. Therefore, a buffer zone and establishment of a no-fly zone in Northern Syria will ensure that Turkey is in full control of its territory. The policy will protect the air space and the boundary from being used for the acquisition of weapons, hence weakening ISIL.
Akyel, Didem. The implications of Turkey’s turn toward fighting ISIL. The International Crisis Group. 2014. Web.
Kelly, Andrew. US Policy Options for Iraq and the ISIS Threat. International Affairs Forum. 2015. Web.