Syria

Turkey Worried As ISIS Approaches, Wants US to Do More, NATO to Be Ready

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Map of Kobane and combatant forces
erkansaka.net

Earlier this week Vice President Joe Biden apologized to Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, for suggesting their support for Islamist extremists in Syria contributed to the problem of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Biden, in fact, had said that the Turkish president, Recep Erdogan, admitted to him his country let too many foreign fighters cross over into Syria to aid in the toppling of the Syrian president, Bashar Assad.

ISIS, formerly the Islamic State of Iraq or the al-Qaeda affiliate in Iraq, grew in strength amid the Syrian rebels. The United States insists its support for rebels in Syria did not go to rebels affiliated with al-Qaeda or other Islamist extremists.

While ISIS consolidates power in the territory its occupied in Iraq, it continues to fight in Syria as well, and appears poised to overrun Kobane, a border town close to Turkey. The Turkish government is worried, not enough to take any military action of its own, but enough to want the U.S. and NATO to do more.  

"Our government and our related institutions have emphasized to US officials the necessity of immediately ramping up air bombardment in a more active and efficient way," Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan told a local television station. Turkey's defense minister, Ismet Yildiz, said that NATO, at Turkey's insistence, has drawn up plans to defend the country if ISIS attacks. Turkey has not joined the anti-ISIS coalition in Iraq or Syria, and insists the objective in Syria should be the ouster of Assad.

NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, obligates member-states, including the U.S., Canada, most of Western and Central Europe, and Turkey, to aid in each other's self-defense. The alliance was formed after World War II to contain the Soviet Union and its satellite states.

Since the end of the Cold War, its mission has been warped by the U.S. and European countries. In the late 1990s NATO was involved in the bombing of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War, though it involved no NATO member-state. Just a few years ago NATO led the charge for intervention in Libya's civil war, for which the country is still paying in instability. The mission creep's turned NATO into an organ of U.S. and European interventionist policy, but it's largely stayed out of the ISIS fight even as its member states haven't. With ISIS just a few miles from the Turkish border, the consequences of NATO member states' interventions could trigger the only obligation the alliance ever really had, the defense of its members.

Related: Whether post-WW2 institutions like NATO "are still relevant or useful or necessary or proper in the 21st century is an open question."

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  1. I find it hard to believe that Turkey couldn’t handle ISIS on its own.

    1. Who says they want to handle it?

      Erdogan agrees with a lot of Sharia himself, so I wouldn’t hold your breath about him trying to fight them.

      1. Erdogan seems to want NATO to keep them out of Turkey. I think he can do it himself.

        1. It may not be politically tenable with his fundamentalist supporters breathing down his neck. Better to get the Yanks involved so he can get rid of ISIS threat but still keep his cred by bitching about the interfering Yanks. See Pakistan. They been double dealing for years.

          We are played so many ways by the jackoffs, it is embarrassing to be an American.

      2. Just because Obama is so stupid that he wants to get invovled directly in the Syrian civil war, that dosen’t mean Turkey has to be stupid, too. Maybe their leaders are smarter than we are!

        We used to be smart, too. We used to use proxies to fight our wars, but those days ended when Bush and Obama came along. If we’re so stupid that we’ll fight Turkey’s wars for them now, why should they rush in for themselves?

        Why involve yourself directly in the Syrian civil war when the American people, led by Barack Obama, are so effing stupid, they’ll fight your wars for you?

        1. The classic mistakes:

          Never get involved in a land war in Asia.

          And never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

          We’re getting too close to Asia – can we get our own Sicilian?

        2. “We used to be smart, too. We used to use proxies to fight our wars, but those days ended when Bush and Obama came along.”

          You mean like when Reagan supported the Afghanistan Mullahs against the Ruskies? Yeah, that turned out well.

          B.S.

          When threatened, and ONLY when threatened, we should destroy the threat ourselves with our own military for our own interest. See Japan and look at the results. A productive, peaceful trading partner for over 80 years and counting. That’s how it should be done.

          1. You mean like when Reagan supported the Afghanistan Mullahs against the Ruskies?

            I wasn’t sentient when that happened. I’m curious, how did Cap Weinberger feel about it?

          2. You mean like when Reagan supported the Afghanistan Mullahs against the Ruskies? Yeah, that turned out well.

            The collapse of the Soviet Union is a minor footnote in your history of the world?

            See Japan and look at the results. A productive, peaceful trading partner for over 80 years and counting. That’s how it should be done.

            Yeah, I’d like to see a net cost-benefit analysis on that one.

            1. You don’t think Japan was not an existential threat to this country in 1941? I disagree as do all my relatives that fought in that war. I have read no historians that doubt the intentions of the Japanese. The Chinese certainly understood their intentions. In 1942 they were the largest naval force the world had ever seen. They hated the influence of Western culture and wanted to destroy it.

              1. I was talking about the US’s role in Japan post-surrender not the defeat of Japan itself.

                1. Okay, then. So you think having Japan as a trading partner is not a win-win for both country’s or even for you personally. So you haven’t ever purchased a Japanese car, motorcycle, watch, cell phone, oven, radio, cd player, dvd player, etc If you have you have benefitted, my friend. I’ll take your cost-benefit challenge any day.

                  1. Well, setting aside that the original plan was to destroy Japanese society and remake it into a socialist workers’ paradise then oops that was a little too close to communism, I owe the availability of cheap Japanese consumer goods (what decade is this again?) to the ingenuity of Japanese engineers and businessmen, not to the beneficence of American politicians and generals.

              2. “existential threat to this country in 1941?”

                How so? I’ve never read any WWII historian who thinks Japan could have conquered, or had any interest in conquering, the United States.

          3. “You mean like when Reagan supported the Afghanistan Mullahs against the Ruskies? Yeah, that turned out well.”

            If you think that didn’t contribute to the USSR disintegrating, then you don’t know what you’re talking about.

            If you think we shouldn’t have done something in the 1980s because–21 years later–someone that broke off from the group we helped might attack us, then you’re an idiot.

            And even if assuming decision makers in the 1980s were supposed to be prescient wasn’t such an obvious logical fallacy–do you imagine that getting rid of the USSR wasn’t worth a 9/11 or two? Don’t you realize that neither Al Qaeda nor ISIS is anywhere near as big a threat to the security of the United States as the USSR was?

            Certainly even if Reagan’s people should have known that bogging down the USSR in Afghanistan would someday lead to 9/11 (decades in the future), do you imagine they should have known that Bush and Obama would turn their activities in Aghanistan into a war on Iraq and Syria?

            Have you done much thinking about this at all?

            1. Don’t read more into it than the example.

              Reagan did stand up to the Russians DIRECTLY and showed American resolve in many ways that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall, but supporting the Mullahs was a mistake. That was not our war and we should have never gotten involved. The Mullahs took over Afghanistan and gave sanctuary to our enemies that eventually bombed our cities with our airplanes. We tried proxies again in Afghanistan after 911 with poor results and stupid nation building.

              My point is we should fight our own battles and not become entangled with with proxies. It leads to bad results.

              1. Don’t read more into it than the example.

                You are using the example to illustrate a larger point, so you have already read more meaning into it.

              2. “Reagan did stand up to the Russians DIRECTLY”

                No. Reagan did not attack the Soviets directly.

                He sometimes attacked the Soviets allies. He sometimes used locals to fight the Soviets. He never attacked the USSR directly.

                “That was not our war and we should have never gotten involved.”

                The Cold War was a 40 year war that we fought all over the world through proxies. The Soviets had nuclear missiles aimed at us the whole time.

                Communist countries only have a few ways to survive economically. One of them is constant purges–like Stalin did and North Korea continues to do. You can also starve off your population periodically, like North Korea, China, and the USSR did.

                The second way communist societies can survive economically is through constant expansion. That’s their preferred method because it doesn’t engender internal unrest. By checking the USSR in Afghanistan, we stopped Soviet expansion in its tracks. As long as the USSR could continue to expand, they would not collapse.

                “The Mullahs took over Afghanistan”

                “Mullah” is usually a Shia leader. The Mullahs rule in Iran. I think you’re referring to the Taliban.

                The Taliban had a leg up circa 2001, but that was after a secession of various groups were in charge. There’s no way the Reagan Administration should have avoided arming the mujihadeen–out of fear that some faction that didn’t even exist at the time might take power and hit us on 9/11 some number of decades later.

                1. If you want to blame the chaos in Afghanistan on anybody, you should start with the USSR.

                  Their invasion is what threw Afghanistan into chaos.

                  It isn’t clear to me that ObL wouldn’t have been there at all minus American support for the mujihaden. It isn’t clear to me that ObL wouldn’t have wanted to try to scare the U.S. out of Saudi Arabia regardless of whether we had supported the mujihadeen.

                  But it is clear that Afghanistan was in chaos because of the Soviet invasion, and it’s remained in chaos ever since.

            2. Contrary to modern pop history the US didn’t create Al Qaeda. The Pakistan Intelligence Service created them and were already using them to fight the Soviets who they didn’t want on their border.

              All we did was arm them with Stinger missles and some light arms and show them how to use them. Any historical hindsight might be that we should have hung around after the Soviets left. But who knows how that might have turned out ? I’m sure some mullah was have put out a fatwah against us for being infidels in their country.

              It was a good trade off from the point of view of someone who was taught that ducking under my desk would save me from an atomic bomb.

          4. Er, I think we were still at war with them 70 years ago.

            1. Yep, meant 70 not 80. Really 68, I guess.

        3. “We used to be smart, too. We used to use proxies to fight our wars”

          That’s what Obama’s been doing throughout the Arab Spring. That what he proposes to do by arming “moderates.” All he’s really done is arm the islamofascists that he is now proposing to go in and fight against. It used to take decades for us to turn on our former allies. Now it only takes about a year. Probably because those “allies” were really our enemies to begin with.

          1. I disagree for reasons I’ve gone into elsewhere and probably shouldn’t go into here.

            Suffice it to say that there wasn’t any way North Africa was going to suddenly blossom into an American style democracy overnight. They have a process they have to go through, and they’re going through it as painful as it is.

            We went through a similar process ourselves with the Civil War, etc. And violence against Native Americans, legal discrimination against blacks and others, universal suffrage, etc. didn’t come to us, suddenly, the moment we signed the Articles of Confederation.

            It was almost certainly the case that there was situation that was without risk for American security, but that the Arab Spring offered better prospects (for America) than the other options. I believe that there was now ay the threat of terrorism was ever going to abate so long as that part of the world remained under the yoke of authoritarian dictatorships with which we were friendly.

            During the Cold War, we had to make friends with people that made strategic sense then, but don’t anymore. But it’s hard to abandon your alliances. We still need to extricate ourselves from the Saudis, for instance, and after everything that happened, we still couldn’t stop paying off the Egyptians.

            The other thing is that the Arab Spring represents a substantial threat to the Iranians. If you don’t want another cold war but this time with Iran, then the Arab Spring in Syria may be our last, best chance to avoid that.

            1. It was almost certainly the case that there was [no] situation that was without risk for American security…

              Fixed!

            2. We have to pay attention to who the rebels are is what i’m saying. Toppling dictators does not necessarily mean that the people will get democracy or that democracy is necessarily a good thing. In Iraq, the Shia took control and then started oppressing the Sunnis. No wonder they aren’t fighting ISIS to protect a Shia led oppressive democratic government. Allowing jihadists and extremists to gain control of a country will certainly not end terrorism either. The Arab Spring was lose/lose as far as the West is concerned. The best we can do is not associate ourselves with the bad outcome by backing either side.

              I’d also point out that it makes us look really hypocritical when we threaten other countries or actually attack them for sponsoring terrorism when we are directly doing that ourselves, if only due to ignorance and political correctness.

        4. *Just because Obama is so stupid that he wants to get invovled directly in the Syrian civil war, that dosen’t mean Turkey has to be stupid, too*

          Yeah, because it’s ‘stupid’ to get involved after the Islamic State invades your territory.

          Your idiotic knee-jerk anti-war song is all played out, playa.

          1. Whose territory?!

            Maybe you’re a Syrian, but I’m not!

            Are you even following the conversation?

            It was about why Turkey ISN’T committing troops of its own–just calling for the U.S. to do so.

            Did you even bother to read the post?

          2. Everyone in the Middle East is waiting for the Americans to deal with ISIS. We’re leading them to believe we will by launching an air campaign which is how the war always starts. We’ve spent 50 years building the military for Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, and Iraq, etc. Iran has a vested interest in helping Iraq kick ISIS out of it’s territory at least. Time to make good on that investment and let those countries deal with ISIS. We won’t beat islamist extremism by taking out ISIS and we only succeed in making ourselves more of a target.

      3. Isn’t there a bit of distance between Sharia and cutting off innocent people’s heads for purely symbolic reasons? I’m no expert, so I could be wrong.

      4. Erdogan is the one pushing for troops against ISIS. He is scared by the monster he helped create.

    2. We are our Allies’ army. We have a powerful military and we like to use it. Anyone who messes with our allies will have to deal with us. It’s a huge deterrent. May be why we spend more on the military than the next 26 countries combined. Those are our allies so why should they spend so much when we have their back?

      1. Those are our allies so why should they spend so much when we have their back?

        The inherent paternalism of being responsible for something people should be able to provide for themselves?

        1. I’m trying to say that nations have an incentive to use an alliance with us as an alternative to a powerful, professional military. If you know the most powerful country in the world has your back, you don’t need to worry so much about having your own powerful military. Just one strong enough to hold off until we get there. You might not spend so much time taking karate if you know George St. Pierre has your back.

    3. Call up the Mameluks!

  2. Why did Kobane get the ISIS works? That’s nobody’s business but the Turks!

    1. Even old New York use to be new Amsterdam

      1. They should call York in England Old York to avoid confusion, then someone should found a city called New Old York.

    2. Don’t, don’t, don’t let’s start.

      1. You can’t even get the *song lyrics* right…why should anyone trust you on larger issues?

        1. Wrong again, Robin. It’s the first thing outta their mouth.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJQnZZ-Wmao

  3. “The United States insists its support for rebels in Syria did not go to rebels affiliated with al-Qaeda or other Islamist extremists.”

    Uh-huh

    1. If you like your rebels you can keep your rebels.

      1. You go to civil war with the rebels you have. Not the rebels you want.

    2. Didn’t weapons we gave to the rebels in Libya end up in hands of Al Qaeda linked groups in Syria? They have no idea where all the money and weapons we send over there end up.

      1. Shhhh! Nothing happened in Libya. Nothing!

        @/vote Hillary

        1. It’s not Hillary’s fault the state department hired islamists and jihadists to guard the facilities in Benghazi. She was out dancing in Costa Rica, i mean… visiting foreign dignitaries and building relations.

          Hillarity 2016!

  4. Dear Turkey,

    We’ll be happy to help you with that ISIS thing in exchange for a free and independent Kurdistan (see map, enclosed).

    Regards,

    USA

    1. I’d tell the Turks that we’ll help them out as soon as they go back in time and let us invade Iraq from the north in 2003.

      Kthxbye.

  5. Hahahahaha so now the Neo-Byzantines are terrified that the Ottomans/Seljuks are going to invade Anatolia and conquer Constantinople? And they’re calling on the ‘Christian’ world to help based off of traditional geopolitical alliances?

    Which century am I in, the 15th or the 21st?

    1. And there’s your next bit of irony. Do we even have to arm the Turks? Just let them get medieval on ISIS’s ass.

      1. We’ve basically built the Saudi Army. Why not let them handle it. Finally cash in on our investment. We also built the Iraqi Army. The sunni side isn’t doing so hot, but i suspect things will change as ISIS gets closer to Baghdad and Iran steps up. Let our enemies fight each other. All we have to do is sit back and watch the idiots blow themselves up on youtube.

        1. Fun fact: Wahhabi Islam is native to Saudi Arabia.

          1. And still heavily supported by elements of the Saud Family. Fine allies, these guys.

          2. True but they don’t support ISIS. lot to do with oil.

        2. There is a certain merit to this thinking. Also, stop trying to undermine Assad and let him turn Raqqa into a parking lot.
          Let the Russians help.

          1. Assad helped ISIS. Assad has to go; he’s Hezbollah’s main man in the immediate region. But Israel can take of that.

            1. Er, ISIS didn’t form until after we destabilized Assad.

              Assad may have been helping the Iraqi insurgents during the Iraq war, but I guarentee you they were the Baathist kind, not the Islamists.

              You may have noticed that both Assad and Hussein are (were) Baath party members.

            2. ISIS formed as a part of the Free Syrian Army. Assad was basically fighting ISIS before fighting ISIS was cool. We were supporting ISIS back when opposing Assad was cool. We have this pesky doctrine of spreading democracy in the middle east left over from the Bush Administration and the democrats love democracy so much they can’t fathom that toppling a secular dictator could result in islamo-fascism taking control of a country.

  6. Is ISIS still driving around in that Volkswagen Thing? I bet those are great in the desert.

    1. Toyota Hilux. Vehicle of choice for mounting a soviet Dushka in the bed

      1. That’s disappointing. The Thing was so cool. It’s like a Rat Patrol car for personal use.

      2. It also has the advantage of being indestructable

  7. it continues to fight in Syria as well, and appears poised to overrun Kobane

    So, I guess the jihadis are just coming as they are?

    Or did I get the pronunciation wrong?

    1. Nevermind the pronunciation.

  8. I don’t understand. Are these Fremen descending on Harkonnen? I thought the Turks had a proud military tradition and regular access to NATO war colleges and joint exercises. If Jihadi U is turning out war fighters who can actually fight off NATO armored divisions, I say we stop fucking with these ISIS fellows and hope they stay there.

    1. Pretty sure they could easily crush any ISIS threat. This is a political move, not a military one, I suspect.

    2. It more has to do with Erdogen’s political support coming from in-country fundamentalists.

    3. The Turks are anti-Assad. Period. I’m sure ISIS knows it has an ally in Turkey and won’t upset the donkey cart.

  9. Fuck Turkey. They refuse to help us when we need help but then demand that NATO gear up to defend them. What has Turkey ever contributed to NATO? Turkey has consistantly allowed jihadists to move across it’s borders into Iraq and Syria without passport stamps. Without passport stamps these jihadist can then return to their home countries without it being known that they have been training and fighting in Iraq and Syria. Now that these same jhadists are near Turkish borders they call for help from NATO and the US. Of course Turkey want’s the US to increase it’s bombing of ISIS when ISIS nears it’s borders. Turkey gets the benefits of NATO and US defense without any of the blowback from the jihadists they allowed through in the first place.

    The US needs to face up to the fact that we can’t penetrate the Mid Easts politics and culture. Tt’s ever shifting alliances and factions are too subtle and historically ingrained for an outsider to sucessfuly deal with. We look like little kids everytime we try and play their game. McCain takes pictues with “moderate” jihadists ( an oxymoron if there ever was one ) and then finds out they were beheading non muslims just recently for example. In the last 6 years alone, at least, every situation or event we are involved in the jihadists seem to be better off than they were before.

    1. Our energy sources are safe enough that we are no longer dependent on the Mid East for oil. I say it is time enough that those who wish to sell Mid East oil, and those who wish to buy it from them, take on these problems in the future. The future begins now.

    2. I can’t say much about Turkey’s double-dealing, but do they actually have any real control over their southern and eastern borders?

      1. If not, they aren’t sovereign, and nothing they say about those borders should matter to us.

        Yeah, I say fuck the Turks. Don’t come running to NATO with your long history of screwing NATO. If defending their borders causes their jefe heartburn with his nutjob supporters, well, that’s his problem, not ours and not NATO’s.

    3. In the last 6 years alone, at least, every situation or event we are involved in the jihadists seem to be better off than they were before.

      Yeah, funny how that worked out, isn’t it?

  10. Turkish Playboy Party Joke:

    A profound philosophy of life is reflected in the reply of a
    no-longer wealthy rajah who, when asked what he had done with
    all his money, said: “Part of it went for liquor and fast
    automobiles, and part of it went for women. The rest I spent
    foolishly on al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham.”

    POWPOWPOWPOWBLAMBLAMBLAM!AllahuAkbar!POWPOWPOW!

    1. Okay, just for the record, that’s taken from a real statement made by a Britsh Pro football star from the ’60s named Samuel Best.

      He was the highest paid professional athlete in the world at the time, but shortly after retiring, he was in bankruptcy court. When he emerged from out of the courthouse, a reporter asked him, “Where’d all the money go?” And he responded, “I spent a lot of money on booze, birds [chicks] and fast cars ? the rest I just squandered”. …which is hilarious, or course, because it revelas why he really lost all his money.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Best

      I only know about it because he had a bar in the Beach Cities!

      1. That’s George “Pete” Best, isn’t it?

        1. I totally mangled the name.

          I don’t know what I was thinking.

          Samuel who?

          Yeah, the guy I linked. George Best.

          He owned a bar called Besties in Hermosa.

          ’cause if you’re gonna spend two-thirds of your money chasing “birds” and buying drinks for your friends, you might as well own a bar in Hermosa Beach!

          …especially if no one else will run you a tab.

          This guy’s got a picture of the placard I first read that statement from:

          http://dontstopliving.net/best…..s-angeles/

      2. George Best, you colossally ignorant tool.

        And he drank himself through TWO livers.

        1. I corrected myself an hour and a half before you posted.

          You tool.

          And it was three livers and a kidney!

  11. Is there a law that states when a leftist accuses someone of something, they are also guilt of that same action whether the accused party is guilty or not? Not sure if Turkey and UAE played any part in ISIS, but i do know that the Obama administration has been giving them weapons, money, and training since at least last year as part of their effort to help the FSA oust Assad.

  12. Erdogan screwed Turkey. Let his head roll on an ISIL plate.

  13. The United States insists its support for rebels in Syria did not go to rebels affiliated with al-Qaeda or other Islamist extremists

    And if you believe that, I’ve got some prime beachfront property in Wyoming for sale, dirt cheap.

  14. America’s bombing campaign should focus on saving the Kurds and knocking back ISIS and that’s it.

    1. you can’t do that with a bombing campaign. taking ground requires boots on the ground. there’s a reason it’s called “air support.” There is a saying in the military. Fire without movement is a waste of ammo. Not arguing we should send in the Marines. I’m saying we are wasting our time and money.

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