Sunday, September 28, 2014

Turkey Inching Toward Alliance With U.S. in Syria Conflict

Turkish Kurds watched Kurdish forces battle with Islamic State militants across the border in Syria on Saturday. Turkey fears the fight against the Islamic State may embolden Kurdish separatists. Credit Bryan Denton for The New York Times

By ANNE BARNARD and MARK LANDLER, NYT
SEPT. 27, 2014

KARACA, Turkey — No American ally is closer to the threat of the Islamic State than Turkey, and no country could play a more important role in a coalition that President Obama is assembling to combat the extremist Sunni militants. Yet Turkey has been reluctant to enlist, in part because of the desperate conflict playing out on its border with Syria.

On hilltops within sight of frontier outposts like this one, black-clad Islamic State fighters have been battling for the last week with Kurdish militants defending Kobani, a besieged Kurdish area that has become the prize in a fierce struggle between Syria’s embattled Kurds and the rampaging Islamic State militants. Turkish fighters have watched from behind the border fence.

It is a violent, murky situation, with the Turkish authorities preventing Kurds from crossing into Syria to help their Kurdish brethren fight, while Syrian Kurds are fleeing into Turkey to escape the militants. The chaos on the border, and Turkey’s ambivalent reaction, is a reflection of Turkey’s complex role in the Syrian civil war raging to its south. Turkey is caught between conflicting interests: defeating Islamic militants across its border while not enhancing the power of its own Kurdish separatists.

(More here.)

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