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Middle East Muddle
Turkey Refuses to Let US Use Its Air Bases for Attack on ISIS

Turkey, a NATO ally and host to two U.S. Air Force bases, will not cooperate with the attacks on ISIS. The AFP reports:

Turkey will refuse to allow a U.S.-led coalition to attack jihadists in neighboring Iraq and Syria from its air bases, nor will it take part in combat operations against militants, a government official told AFP Thursday.

Turkey made a similar refusal during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which it disapproved of. This time, however, Ankara has shown at least some concern about ISIS, which has attacked Turkey directly. So what is going on?

Turkey may be reluctant to act because ISIS is holding dozens of Turkish diplomats hostage:

Turkey now sees itself a victim of ISIS with Islamist militants holding 49 Turks hostage, including diplomats and children, abducted from the Turkish consulate in Mosul in Iraq on June 11.

Ankara is therefore reluctant to take a stronger role in the coalition against ISIS militants in apparent fear of aggravating the hostage situation.

“Our hands and arms are tied because of the hostages,” the official told AFP.’

Meanwhile, a new survey shows that support for the EU and NATO is on the rise among the Turkish people, and it doesn’t seem too speculative to attribute this shift to the collapse of Iraq and Syria next door. While for the moment Turkey is unwilling to participate in the offensive against ISIS, will the recent polls and setbacks for neo-Ottomanism change AKPs calculus?

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  • Duperray

    This is theater: Even without hostages at risk, this country would not shoot against IS, they have the same deep long term target !

  • Pete

    I’ll say it again — Turks out of NATO

    • rheddles

      No, US out of Nato.

      • Curious Mayhem

        I get the sentiment, but, like the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency, there’s no plausible substitute.

        • Fat_Man

          There is no plausible substitute for an alliance with a bunch of countries that won’t lift a finger to help us? I would say that not having an alliance is a plausible substitute. Actually, it is a perfect substitute and it has no calories to boot.

  • S.C. Schwarz

    This is what happens when countries, even countries which are ostensibly our friends, see no downside to defying us.

  • Corlyss

    If Doofus didn’t detest America deeply and knew anything about hard power, he’d begin base closure preparations of at least one of those bases immediately. But since he does and he doesn’t, he wouldn’t think of it. Besides, Val would never let him do it . . .

  • Anthony

    “Our hands and arms are tied because of the hostages….” Turkey is definitely in a thicket and more delicate situation than 2003. But alliance ought to mean something – getting reliable (coalition partners) allies in there own sphere to do the inevitable appears more and more daunting.

  • FriendlyGoat

    The hostages are a complication, but the REASON for this is that most of the Turkish citizens are Muslim. It is an open question whether anybody from the world of Islam will actually fight ISIL.

  • ShadrachSmith

    I don’t buy the hostage thing. It would help the Kurds, is a more likely reason. Turkish national policy decisions are more often about power than filial loyalty.

    • Curious Mayhem

      The Turks have been coming around on cooperating with the Kurds. It’s the neo-Ottoman blight that’s the root problem here, as with Putin’s neo-imperial Russia.

  • Verinder Syal

    As stated by others, NATO has been an oxymoron for many years. The US spent the money and was willing to lose its children in wars that were not ours while the Europeans, and many Arab States, preached smugly in public while privately groveling.

    Turkey has not been an ally for more than a decade. What do we need from Turkey? What has Obama’s best friend done for him recently? Farce all around.

    How about if we more clearly saw and defined who the allies are? The U.S. worries too much about perception and about being liked. Other countries often think we are naive and fools for trying to help them.

    Enough is enough.

  • Michael Gebert

    No love for Erdogan’s government, but what would be the upside for him, making himself and Turkey a target long after the U.S. has moved on to caring about something else? By which I mean next month.

  • Danny K

    Cut off all aid.

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