As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) prepares to open a summit this week in Wales, at least two international issues will be front and center in the effort to craft strategic vision for the alliance in the years ahead. Russian aggression and intervention in Ukraine and the battle against the onslaught of the Islamic State in northern Iraq present two very unique, separate, and challenging problems for the leaders of the Atlantic Alliance.

These issues make for a particularly interesting (and important) meeting this week for NATO leaders. In particular, the war in Syria and Northern Iraq will be of great consequence to alliance leaders in the effort to plan strategy for tackling regional issues.

The entangling alliances that threaten to pull regional powers into the quickly intensifying war in Northern Iraq are an interesting problem for NATO. The Kurdish military elements and militias comprising the tip of the spear in the battle against IS present an interesting and potentially far-reaching strategic problem for NATO.

Turkey, a member-state of the Atlantic Alliance and a rising power in the region, represents NATO’s most direct investment in the conflict in Syria and Iraq. Should the Kurds eventually surmount the nearly impossible odds laid out before them in their battle against IS, the consequences could inspire bristling in Ankara.