Showing posts tagged as "Turkey"

Showing posts tagged Turkey

20 Oct

ISIS-Kurdish fight stirs trouble in Turkey | Ivan Watson

Gaziantep, Turkey (CNN) — Turkey made a significant policy shift Monday when it announced it would allow Kurdish Peshmerga fighters from northern Iraq to travel through the Turkish territory to reinforce the besieged Kurdish town of Kobani in northern Syria.

The announcement was all the more striking, because earlier this month Turkey’s President equated the Kurdish militants defending Kobani to the ISIS fighters who were laying siege to the town. Both the Kurdish and ISIS militants are, in the words of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, “terrorists.”

"Turkey feels like it has fallen into the subway tracks and is surrounded by live rails," said Hugh Pope, senior Turkey analyst with the International Crisis Group, a conflict mediation organization. "It is very difficult for Turkey to make any choice."

Turkey’s historically troubled relations with its own ethnic Kurdish population is one reason Ankara balked at joining the U.S.-led coalition bombing the militants who call themselves the Islamic State.

FULL TRANSCRIPT (CNN)

15 Oct
Why ISIS Is Gaining Ground – and So Hard to Beat | Lara Setrakian 
Noah Bonsey, senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, gave us an in-depth explanation of why ISIS has had so much success in Syria and the challenges ahead for degrading its influence.
As of Thursday, the Islamic State (ISIS) had seized 40% of the strategic Syrian border town of Kobani, raising questions about the success of U.S.-led airstrikes meant to stem the group’s advance. The U.N. warned that ISIS could massacre the remaining 500 people trapped in Kobani, while analysts said an ISIS victory there would destabilize both the border region and the Middle East at large.
ISIS now controls roughly one-third of Syrian territory. Its continued spread has sparked a debate over new measures to counter the group, among them the possible creation of a buffer zone in northern Syria – which could require a no-fly zone to protect it.
As part of the strategy behind coalition airstrikes, unveiled last month, the U.S. had said it would rely on moderate rebel groups in Syria – what’s been known as the Free Syrian Army – to fight ISIS on the ground. But in the past couple of days, the White House admitted that those moderate groups are not prepared to take on ISIS and win; they have been outgunned and overwhelmed by the superior weapons, training and resources that ISIS has at hand.
“The U.S. shares some of the blame for the current state of the rebel forces,” said Noah Bonsey, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group.
“Part of the issue here is that the U.S. is coming late into the game … prior to this current stage the U.S. had not invested significant resources in improving capacities.”
Bonsey gave us an in-depth explanation of why ISIS has had so much success in Syria and the challenges ahead for degrading its influence.
FULL INTERVIEW (Syria Deeply)
Photo: Wouter/flickr

Why ISIS Is Gaining Ground – and So Hard to Beat | Lara Setrakian 

Noah Bonsey, senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, gave us an in-depth explanation of why ISIS has had so much success in Syria and the challenges ahead for degrading its influence.

As of Thursday, the Islamic State (ISIS) had seized 40% of the strategic Syrian border town of Kobani, raising questions about the success of U.S.-led airstrikes meant to stem the group’s advance. The U.N. warned that ISIS could massacre the remaining 500 people trapped in Kobani, while analysts said an ISIS victory there would destabilize both the border region and the Middle East at large.

ISIS now controls roughly one-third of Syrian territory. Its continued spread has sparked a debate over new measures to counter the group, among them the possible creation of a buffer zone in northern Syria – which could require a no-fly zone to protect it.

As part of the strategy behind coalition airstrikes, unveiled last month, the U.S. had said it would rely on moderate rebel groups in Syria – what’s been known as the Free Syrian Army – to fight ISIS on the ground. But in the past couple of days, the White House admitted that those moderate groups are not prepared to take on ISIS and win; they have been outgunned and overwhelmed by the superior weapons, training and resources that ISIS has at hand.

“The U.S. shares some of the blame for the current state of the rebel forces,” said Noah Bonsey, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group.

“Part of the issue here is that the U.S. is coming late into the game … prior to this current stage the U.S. had not invested significant resources in improving capacities.”

Bonsey gave us an in-depth explanation of why ISIS has had so much success in Syria and the challenges ahead for degrading its influence.

FULL INTERVIEW (Syria Deeply)

Photo: Wouter/flickr

14 Oct
The Implications of Turkey’s Turn Towards Fighting ISIS | Katarina Montgomery
In a significant expansion of its role in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS), Turkey agreed to let the U.S.-led coalition use its territory to launch attacks and train moderate Syrian rebels.
The move comes after weeks of complaints that Turkey hasn’t done enough to combat ISIS, as it swept across Syria and Iraq and seized nearly half of the strategic border town of Kobani.
Didem Akyel Collinsworth, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, explained why Turkey has stepped up its cooperation with the international community in the fight against ISIS.
Syria Deeply :Turkey will now allow the U.S. and its allies to use its bases against ISIS. Why this move and why now?
Collinsworth: The agreement to train moderate Syrian rebels on its soil, the latest motion at parliament to allow cross-border military operations into Iraq and Syria, and to allow foreign troop deployment on Turkish soil, were all important steps recently taken.
From a public perspective, the moves show that Turkey is taking proactive steps towards its safety, so in that sense it was a defensive move.
Recent developments have tarnished Turkey’s image in Western Media and called in to question Turkey’s NATO membership. These steps shows its Western allies that Turkey is not just standing on the sidelines and that it is still a valuable NATO ally.
Many of the reasons why Turkey is shying away from direct military intervention and involvement in northern Syria are understandable. Opening up the bases is one way Turkey can contribute, but even before that, Turkey took steps that didn’t jeopardize its safety. Turkey allowed the use of its air space, opened up humanitarian corridors to Syrian refugees, and allowed information sharing.
FULL INTERVIEW (Syria Deeply)
Photo: EC/ECHO/flickr

The Implications of Turkey’s Turn Towards Fighting ISIS | Katarina Montgomery

In a significant expansion of its role in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS), Turkey agreed to let the U.S.-led coalition use its territory to launch attacks and train moderate Syrian rebels.

The move comes after weeks of complaints that Turkey hasn’t done enough to combat ISIS, as it swept across Syria and Iraq and seized nearly half of the strategic border town of Kobani.

Didem Akyel Collinsworth, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, explained why Turkey has stepped up its cooperation with the international community in the fight against ISIS.

Syria Deeply :Turkey will now allow the U.S. and its allies to use its bases against ISIS. Why this move and why now?

Collinsworth: The agreement to train moderate Syrian rebels on its soil, the latest motion at parliament to allow cross-border military operations into Iraq and Syria, and to allow foreign troop deployment on Turkish soil, were all important steps recently taken.

From a public perspective, the moves show that Turkey is taking proactive steps towards its safety, so in that sense it was a defensive move.

Recent developments have tarnished Turkey’s image in Western Media and called in to question Turkey’s NATO membership. These steps shows its Western allies that Turkey is not just standing on the sidelines and that it is still a valuable NATO ally.

Many of the reasons why Turkey is shying away from direct military intervention and involvement in northern Syria are understandable. Opening up the bases is one way Turkey can contribute, but even before that, Turkey took steps that didn’t jeopardize its safety. Turkey allowed the use of its air space, opened up humanitarian corridors to Syrian refugees, and allowed information sharing.

FULL INTERVIEW (Syria Deeply)

Photo: EC/ECHO/flickr

7 Oct
Islamic State: Why Turkey is hesitating to prevent fall of Kobane | Alexander Christie-Miller
BURSA, TURKEY — The future of the Syrian town of Kobane hung in the balance Tuesday as the Islamic State’s three-week assault on the Kurdish-held enclave appeared to enter its endgame.
Its last hope likely hinges on Ankara, whose armed forces remain poised on the border only hundreds of yards from the battle, resisting mounting pressure from Turkey’s own Kurdish minority to assist Kobane’s defenders.
Despite a range of strategic and ideological factors inclining Ankara against direct intervention, increasingly angry protests both in Turkey and abroad are creating mounting pressure for it to act.
“Kobane is about to fall,” acknowledged President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an interview with Turkish television as he toured a refugee camp in southern Turkey early Tuesday.
FULL ARTICLE (The Christian Science Monitor)
Picture: Fraktion DIE LINKE. im Bundestag/Heike Hänsel/flickr

Islamic State: Why Turkey is hesitating to prevent fall of Kobane | Alexander Christie-Miller

BURSA, TURKEY — The future of the Syrian town of Kobane hung in the balance Tuesday as the Islamic State’s three-week assault on the Kurdish-held enclave appeared to enter its endgame.

Its last hope likely hinges on Ankara, whose armed forces remain poised on the border only hundreds of yards from the battle, resisting mounting pressure from Turkey’s own Kurdish minority to assist Kobane’s defenders.

Despite a range of strategic and ideological factors inclining Ankara against direct intervention, increasingly angry protests both in Turkey and abroad are creating mounting pressure for it to act.

“Kobane is about to fall,” acknowledged President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an interview with Turkish television as he toured a refugee camp in southern Turkey early Tuesday.

FULL ARTICLE (The Christian Science Monitor)

Picture: Fraktion DIE LINKE. im Bundestag/Heike Hänsel/flickr

30 Sep
Turkey shifts tone on Islamic State. Will it join US-led coalition? (+video) | Dominique Soguel
ISTANBUL, TURKEY — When President Recep Tayyip Erdogan returned home from the United Nations last week, he said Turkey was ready to play a more active role in the US-led anti-Islamic State coalition that has drawn new members both from across the West as well as the Arab world.
Just how active may become clearer Thursday when the Turkish parliament meets to take the “necessary steps” cited by President Erdogan, who was lobbied intensively by US leaders while in New York.
The Turkish lawmakers are expected to decide whether to expand the scope of two existing mandates authorizing the government to take military action in Iraq and Syria, where the jihadist Islamic State (IS), also known as ISIS, has sought to create the seed of an Islamic caliphate.
Turkey shares a 206-mile-long border with Iraq and a 544-mile-long border with Syria, where IS thrived unchecked for months. Already a temporary home for more than a million refugees fleeing the 3-1/2-year civil war in Syria, Turkey has just opened its borders to a fresh wave of more than 200,000 mostly Kurdish refugees fleeing the latest IS offensive in Syria.
FULL ARTICLE (The Christian Science Monitor)
Photo: UN/Eskinder Debebe/flickr

Turkey shifts tone on Islamic State. Will it join US-led coalition? (+video) | Dominique Soguel

ISTANBUL, TURKEY — When President Recep Tayyip Erdogan returned home from the United Nations last week, he said Turkey was ready to play a more active role in the US-led anti-Islamic State coalition that has drawn new members both from across the West as well as the Arab world.

Just how active may become clearer Thursday when the Turkish parliament meets to take the “necessary steps” cited by President Erdogan, who was lobbied intensively by US leaders while in New York.

The Turkish lawmakers are expected to decide whether to expand the scope of two existing mandates authorizing the government to take military action in Iraq and Syria, where the jihadist Islamic State (IS), also known as ISIS, has sought to create the seed of an Islamic caliphate.

Turkey shares a 206-mile-long border with Iraq and a 544-mile-long border with Syria, where IS thrived unchecked for months. Already a temporary home for more than a million refugees fleeing the 3-1/2-year civil war in Syria, Turkey has just opened its borders to a fresh wave of more than 200,000 mostly Kurdish refugees fleeing the latest IS offensive in Syria.

FULL ARTICLE (The Christian Science Monitor)

Photo: UN/Eskinder Debebe/flickr

25 Sep
Why Turkey is reluctant to join U.S-led coalition against ISIS | Mark Gollom
The launch of airstrikes in Syria by a U.S.-led coalition as part of the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has placed Turkey in a delicate position of needing to thwart the militant group’s growing threat while not wanting to raise its ire and face retribution.
"It`s obviously very careful on how it handles ISIS," said Didem Ackyel Collinsworth, the International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Turkey. "In terms of signing on to the coalition and taking part in airstrikes and so on, [it] would be very cautious about that."
On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was considering expanding support for Western and Arab operations against the Islamic State group to include everything, “both military and political.”
The remarks signalled a possible shift by Erdogan, who has so far not committed to a U.S.-led coalition to take on the militants.
FULL ARTICLE (CBC News)
Photo: Eboni Everson-Myart, U.S. Army/DOD/flickr

Why Turkey is reluctant to join U.S-led coalition against ISIS | Mark Gollom

The launch of airstrikes in Syria by a U.S.-led coalition as part of the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has placed Turkey in a delicate position of needing to thwart the militant group’s growing threat while not wanting to raise its ire and face retribution.

"It`s obviously very careful on how it handles ISIS," said Didem Ackyel Collinsworth, the International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Turkey. "In terms of signing on to the coalition and taking part in airstrikes and so on, [it] would be very cautious about that."

On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was considering expanding support for Western and Arab operations against the Islamic State group to include everything, “both military and political.”

The remarks signalled a possible shift by Erdogan, who has so far not committed to a U.S.-led coalition to take on the militants.

FULL ARTICLE (CBC News)

Photo: Eboni Everson-Myart, U.S. Army/DOD/flickr

19 Sep
Syrian Kurds appeal to Turkish brethren for help fighting Isis |  Erika Solomon in Beirut and Piotr Zalewski in Istanbul
Syrian Kurdish militias pleaded for help from Turkish Kurds on Thursday after fighters from the Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant, Isis, seized 21 Kurdish villages in northwestern Syria in less than 24 hours, bringing them within sight of the Turkish border.
Activists said Isis is now surrounding the area around Kobani, also known as ‘Ayn al-Arab, inside Syria’s embattled Aleppo province. The region is a Kurdish pocket in rebel and Isis-held territories.
FULL ARTICLE (The Financial Times)
Photo: James Gordon/flickr

Syrian Kurds appeal to Turkish brethren for help fighting Isis |  Erika Solomon in Beirut and Piotr Zalewski in Istanbul

Syrian Kurdish militias pleaded for help from Turkish Kurds on Thursday after fighters from the Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant, Isis, seized 21 Kurdish villages in northwestern Syria in less than 24 hours, bringing them within sight of the Turkish border.

Activists said Isis is now surrounding the area around Kobani, also known as ‘Ayn al-Arab, inside Syria’s embattled Aleppo province. The region is a Kurdish pocket in rebel and Isis-held territories.

FULL ARTICLE (The Financial Times)

Photo: James Gordon/flickr

15 Sep
To Stop ISIS in Syria, Support Aleppo | JEAN-MARIE GUÉHENNO and NOAH BONSEY
President Obama’s speech last week signaled a likely expansion into Syria of American airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, yet offered little indication of an immediate strategy to halt ISIS’ gains there. The administration’s first focus thus remains on Iraq, while familiar pledges to work with regional allies and increase support to moderate rebels in Syria — if Congress approves sufficient funding — appear divorced from the urgency of the situation on the ground.
Though Western attention is drawn to Iraq, it is Syria that has witnessed the most significant ISIS gains since June. It is Aleppo, Syria’s largest metropolitan area, that presents ISIS’ best opportunity for expanding its claimed caliphate. An effective strategy for halting, and eventually reversing, ISIS’ expansion should begin there, and soon.
FULL ARTICLE (The New York Times)
Photo: Basma/Foreign & Commonwealth Office/flickr

To Stop ISIS in Syria, Support Aleppo | JEAN-MARIE GUÉHENNO and NOAH BONSEY

President Obama’s speech last week signaled a likely expansion into Syria of American airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, yet offered little indication of an immediate strategy to halt ISIS’ gains there. The administration’s first focus thus remains on Iraq, while familiar pledges to work with regional allies and increase support to moderate rebels in Syria — if Congress approves sufficient funding — appear divorced from the urgency of the situation on the ground.

Though Western attention is drawn to Iraq, it is Syria that has witnessed the most significant ISIS gains since June. It is Aleppo, Syria’s largest metropolitan area, that presents ISIS’ best opportunity for expanding its claimed caliphate. An effective strategy for halting, and eventually reversing, ISIS’ expansion should begin there, and soon.

FULL ARTICLE (The New York Times)

Photo: Basma/Foreign & Commonwealth Office/flickr

18 Aug
Iraq refugees ‘terrified to be sent back’ | Noah Blaser
Silopi refugee camp, Turkey - After a four-day trek through the barren, sun-blasted terrain of northern Iraq, Murad Kasim Rashow shook with anger as he remembered the family members he left behind.
Newly arrived at a makeshift refugee camp in Silopi, a remote border town in Turkey’s southeast, he grieved for his two aunts who have been missing since armed fighters from the Islamic State group overran their hometown of Sinjar one week ago.
"I fear the worst. Every family now has its tale of loss or death," said Rashow, a 37-year-old former translator for the US army. "There is no way we can imagine returning there."
Rashow is one of tens of thousands of Yazidis - ethnic Kurds who practise a distinct religion - who have fled northern Iraq amid the advance of fighters from the Islamic State group, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
The Islamic State offensive left thousands of Yazidis trapped and starving on Iraq’s desolate Sinjar mountain, while tens of thousands of Iraqis have fled to the country’s Kurdish region in the northeast.
FULL ARTICLE (Al Jazeera America)
Photo: Rachel Unkovic/International Rescue Committee/UK Department for International Development/flickr

Iraq refugees ‘terrified to be sent back’ | Noah Blaser

Silopi refugee camp, Turkey - After a four-day trek through the barren, sun-blasted terrain of northern Iraq, Murad Kasim Rashow shook with anger as he remembered the family members he left behind.

Newly arrived at a makeshift refugee camp in Silopi, a remote border town in Turkey’s southeast, he grieved for his two aunts who have been missing since armed fighters from the Islamic State group overran their hometown of Sinjar one week ago.

"I fear the worst. Every family now has its tale of loss or death," said Rashow, a 37-year-old former translator for the US army. "There is no way we can imagine returning there."

Rashow is one of tens of thousands of Yazidis - ethnic Kurds who practise a distinct religion - who have fled northern Iraq amid the advance of fighters from the Islamic State group, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

The Islamic State offensive left thousands of Yazidis trapped and starving on Iraq’s desolate Sinjar mountain, while tens of thousands of Iraqis have fled to the country’s Kurdish region in the northeast.

FULL ARTICLE (Al Jazeera America)

Photo: Rachel Unkovic/International Rescue Committee/UK Department for International Development/flickr

13 Aug
'Offering Syrians work permits increase locals' anger toward refugees' | AYDIN ALBAYRAK
If Syrian refugees in Turkey are granted work permits, it would not only make the hostility already felt by locals toward Syrians rise, it would also pave the way for more Syrians, hard-pressed by the civil war, to flock to Turkey, Hurşit Güneş, a deputy from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has warned.
“If this step is taken, then all the Syrians would rush to Turkey and hostility toward Syrians [in Turkey] would increase further,” said Güneş, who recently submitted a proposal to Parliament that called for an investigation of the Syrians’ situation in Turkey and the problems that they face, when speaking to Today’s Zaman.
According to reports, the Ministry of Labor has been working on a proposal to grant work permits to Syrians who are officially registered in Turkey, thereby giving them the means to earn a living legally. Business owners will reportedly only be required to pay a 2 percent social security contribution for Syrians they employ, while the regular contribution paid by businesses for Turkish employees is 32.5 percent.
This huge gap in social security payments between locals and Syrians is precisely what concerns Güneş. Noting that if such legislation goes into effect, employers would be more inclined to employ Syrian instead of Turkish workers, Güneş said: “This would surely provoke further hostilities toward Syrians in Turkey. This should not be allowed to happen. This is why I submitted a proposal for an investigation to be launched by Parliament into the situation of Syrians in Turkey.”
FULL ARTICLE (Today’s Zaman)
Photo: Mustafa Khayat/flickr

'Offering Syrians work permits increase locals' anger toward refugees' | AYDIN ALBAYRAK

If Syrian refugees in Turkey are granted work permits, it would not only make the hostility already felt by locals toward Syrians rise, it would also pave the way for more Syrians, hard-pressed by the civil war, to flock to Turkey, Hurşit Güneş, a deputy from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has warned.

“If this step is taken, then all the Syrians would rush to Turkey and hostility toward Syrians [in Turkey] would increase further,” said Güneş, who recently submitted a proposal to Parliament that called for an investigation of the Syrians’ situation in Turkey and the problems that they face, when speaking to Today’s Zaman.

According to reports, the Ministry of Labor has been working on a proposal to grant work permits to Syrians who are officially registered in Turkey, thereby giving them the means to earn a living legally. Business owners will reportedly only be required to pay a 2 percent social security contribution for Syrians they employ, while the regular contribution paid by businesses for Turkish employees is 32.5 percent.

This huge gap in social security payments between locals and Syrians is precisely what concerns Güneş. Noting that if such legislation goes into effect, employers would be more inclined to employ Syrian instead of Turkish workers, Güneş said: “This would surely provoke further hostilities toward Syrians in Turkey. This should not be allowed to happen. This is why I submitted a proposal for an investigation to be launched by Parliament into the situation of Syrians in Turkey.”

FULL ARTICLE (Today’s Zaman)

Photo: Mustafa Khayat/flickr