Turkey will be a useful ally against ISIL. However, the partnership could become complicated. Turkey will do what it must to stop a Kurdish state. The Kurds and the US have enjoyed a healthy relationship over this past decade of war. Syria has spoken out against the Turkish invasion calling it a “breach of sovereignty.” Syria might know what Turkey’s goals are, to remove Assad.
Turkey is a Sunni government and Syria is Shia and aligned with Iran. Turkey has argued for the removal of the Assad regime since the beginning of the unrest in Syria. Little changed over the years of the conflict. In 2014, during the world economic forum President Erdogan stated that while he will fight ISIS, he wants Assad gone.
Why does Turkey want Assad gone? The alternative to the Assad regime would be a new Sunni government. Syria is majority Sunni. Syria could serve as an extension of the Turkish government. The Middle East is on the verge of being born anew. Borders once observed will not be much longer. Turkey is in concert with the Gulf states in their desire to bring about regime change. They probably view the ISIL parade as a product of negligence of the international community. And the Gulf countries aren’t going to stop pumping money into the conflict.
Turkey knows that the ISIL phenomena has distracted Western forces from their original intent: to remove Assad. The Atlantic asked, “Can the U.S. Defeat ISIS Without Removing Assad?” It’s not a question that’s been answered. As Turkey moves into Syria, the world might find out. However, Turkey might also be on a simultaneous mission to curb the Kurds. The Kurdish – Turkish conflict has been ongoing since 1978, with no end in sight.
Turkey may soar into Syria and pound ISIL with airstrikes and ground troops. But, their official involvement is significant. Because Turkey is a relevant world power, it does not bode well for the Kurds. There is great sentiment between American and Kurdish officials and warfighters. Turkey’s political power could overrule it all. Turkey could work to make ISIL irrelevant on the battlefield. Making ISIL less relevant means the West can re-focus on Assad. Simultaneously, Turkey will undoubtedly seek to block a Kurdish state. If they’re able to deliver real blows to ISIL, then – it could be the beginning of a greater plan to oust Assad.
Except, today, Russian, Chinese, and Iranian forces are present in Syria. Removing Assad is not as simple, in comparison, as it would have been at the outset. The Western stance and policy remains eventual downfall of the Assad regime. But, to do so will mean a nearly global proxy war. This proxy war may continue to rage on for some time as there is no clear solution.
Featured image courtesy of cofda.wordpress.com.