Turkey and the (un)Islamic State

On September 20th, the 46 Turkish hostages that were kidnapped last June were brought back to Turkey safely. IS seized the diplomats, soldiers, and children, along with three Iraqis, from the Turkish consulate in Mosul in northern Iraq. Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu would not elaborate on the circumstances of the release, but says that the hostages were freed using Turkish intelligence agency’s ‘own methods’.

This is important as Turkey has decidedly stayed on the sidelines of the fight against IS due to concerns over these hostages. Now that the hostages are home safe, Turkey has lost its reasoning for staying out of the fight. Turkey is a very important player in the conflict with IS due to their location (sharing a border) and the fact that militants are going through Turkey to enter IS.

Ankara is concerned that supporting the PKK and its various affiliates against IS will hinder the peace process in Turkey by making them seem more legitimate. It is believed that IS fighters have been using Turkish towns in order to secure supplies and medical treatment, so the Turkish government is helping them, even if indirectly. There is even already noted occasions of IS fighting in Turkish towns near the Syrian border.

Turkey has also been the host of many Syrian refugees, including many Kurds, since the civil war erupted. IS militants have captured dozens of Kurdish villages along the Syrian-Turkish border in the past few days, causing an influx of 70,000 refugees in 2 days, where there have been reports of beheadings among other violence occurring. There are currently reports of Turkish authorities closing border crossings into Syria in response to the influx of refugees and location of IS fighters. This also stops Kurdish refugees who wish to cross into Syria to fight IS. There are also reports of demonstrations at border posts, supporting Kurdish groups, that have gotten violent involving military intervention.

Turkish officials, as well as other world leaders, will be meeting for the UN general assembly today, in order to discuss the situation with IS. There has been talk of Turkey creating a buffer zone in its border to Syria in order to efficiently intake refugees and keep out fighters, but this cannot be done without international support and financing; it is expected they will bring up this topic today. I will continue to provide updated information as it becomes available.


Categories: International

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