Turkey, ISIS, and the Kurds

sevres-map

At this point it seems pretty clear that some sort of deal was struck in late July: Turkey actively joining and further enabling US airstrikes against ISIS in Syria if the US would allow Turkish strikes, military and otherwise, against Turkey’s Kurdish PKK party and its various affiliates or mere fellow Kurds in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. Whatever really happened, the alliances are pretty tangled here. Maybe the US didn’t agree to the Iraq/Syria part of striking at Kurds, maybe they genuinely didn’t know about any of it, maybe Erdogan is seizing a chance, but whatever happened, the battlefield in Syria looks to change pretty drastically. (For some background on the Kurds’ controversy, particularly over territory, read about this forgotten post-WWI treaty)

Turkey joining airstrikes may not make a huge difference against ISIS, though if Turkish calls for a no-fly zone are implemented, that could have an impact on Assad’s chances. The Kurds Turkey is actively maneuvering against are so far the most effective anti-ISIS force on the ground in northern Syria, as those forces are hit by Turkey, ISIS’ chances of advancing towards Turkey’s southern border may be increased, not decreased. Who is going to protect this safe zone? Is Turkey really willing to commit troops to defend Syrian territory? If not them, then who? The Kurds don’t seem to be allowed anymore…

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