Friday, 17 October 2014


Turkey must join in 

The Islamic State, as it seems, is being pushed out of the Syrian town of Kobane. While that sounds good for all those who are not driven by fanaticism, I have a question bubbling in my mind: Why is Turkey not active as it should have been in fighting the Islamic State. Is it because the government in Ankara has Islamic leanings? Or is it because the Islamic State is facing stiff opposition from the Kurdish fighters who are close to the Kurdish Workers Party or PKK? 

The Kurds have been fighting the Turkish government for a long time, seeking a separate country of their own --- the Kurdistan --- which could be carved out of Turkish and Syrian territories. For the Turkish government, fighting against the Islamic State would in a way also mean helping the Kurds who are loyal to PKK. I think that could be the prime reason for Turkey not joining fights against the Islamic State which has no respect for human rights and civilisation.

Even though it seems that Turkey is anxious about the Islamic State --- more so after Turkish citizens were kidnapped and held hostage for days by the bandits in black --- media reports say that the government in Ankara is not that serious about confronting the immediate threat across the border. And that has to change. Turkey is crucial in dealing with Islamic State. Just as is Bashar al-Assad. Despite West's apparent hatred for al-Assad and Turkey demanding "anyone but Assad" in Syria, it is important that all the parties that are opposed to fanaticism be part of one coalition. 

If Turkey disapproves of Islamic fanaticism then that must be stated unequivocally, followed by concrete action. Joining forces with the coalition against Islamic State is necessary for Turkey if it wants to stay safe in the long run. There will be immediate threats for sure; Turkish interests will come under attack from the Islamic State. But when civilisation in West Asia and beyond is facing a massive threat, one cannot afford the comfort of inaction. 

It is, therefore, important for the West, in particular the US, to convince Turkey to join the coalition against Islamic State. Turkey's discomfiture about the Kurdish involvement cannot outweigh the need to banish the Islamic State. If Turkey and other countries in West Asia do not join forces then one day they will be destroyed by the Islamic State. Some of the West Asian countries have understood that. Turkey needs to understand too. 

But will it mean American boots on the ground? America cannot afford to get entangled in a protracted war once again. It can remain a guiding light for the civilised world, especially for the Arab nations. But nothing beyond that. If there has to be battles on the ground then that should involve the West Asian coalition. It's for them to deal with the devil. That devil is both external and internal.