Turkey is fighting ISIS and PKK. Is this a strategy?

Turkey is simultaneously attacking the positions of ISIS and Kurds and for example PKK says truce has no meaning after Turkish air strikes. What do think about Turkish strategy, does it make sense in your opinion? Read few comments.

Robert Rabil, Professor of Middle East Studies, Florida Atlantic University

The Turkish response against Pkk and ISIS has been expected. On the regional level, Turkey as other countries in the region have concluded that Isis cannot be defeated easily or timely and that the Syrian regime will have for the foreseeable future an Iranian lifeline. So I think the struggle for regional countries to acquire sphere of influences/safehaven in Syria have begun. This is also associated with Turkey’s domestic politics. Turkey has been constantly concerned about an autonomous Kurdish region on its border. The recent terror attack in Turkey by Isis and the murder of Turkish policemen at the hands of PKK brought the two matters together (create a safe haven under Turkish influence in Syria and attack Isis and Pkk at the same time).

I think this policy will become a definite strategy. You have also to remember that Turkey has had similar concerns regarding the Kurds in Iraq. Turkey came to deal with this concern by becoming one of the biggest investor in Iraq Kurdistan. This time around, Turkey has little if any choices but prevent tangibly the creation of an autonomous Syrian Kurdish region adjacent to its border.

And at the same time to fight Isis on order to control part of Syria.

David RomanoAssociate Professor, Missouri State University

The ceasefire appears to be over. The PKK, through one of its political fronts, had already declared that the ceasefire was over a few weeks ago due to Ankara’s insistence on building more and more police stations and dams in the Kurdish parts of the country, both of which are viewed as ceasefire violations and a strategy for asserting more control more than anything else. Then the PKK also assassinated a few policemen it claimed were in cahoots with the Islamic State bomber who struck Suruc a few days ago.

Now Ankara has decided on a major shift in strategy, it seems. Under the guise of acting against the Islamic State, the AKP government actually declared war on “all terrorist organizations.” I suspect they mean the PKK more than the Islamic State. By acceding to American demands to join the effort against IS (and allowing American use of the air base at Incirlik), Ankara hopes for a quid pro quo that will see Washington distance itself from PKK-linked Kurdish groups in Syria. With active fighting between Ankara and the PKK, it will be harder for the Americans to cooperate with the PKK-linked PYD in Syria. It will also be harder for Turks, many of whom voted for the pro-Kurdish HDP party in the last Turkish election (the results of which denied President Erdogan the majority he needed to change the Constitution), to vote for them again should a new election be called. By simultaneously opening up a front against both, the AKP government likewise hopes to associate Kurdish nationalists of the PKK with the Islamic State under the same “terrorist” label. By launching these military operations against IS and the PKK, Ankara thus hits several birds with one stone.

I think the PKK will see this as well, and they already have their hands full in Syria fighting the Jihadis. I would therefore expect the PKK to try to pull back, and not resume the guerrilla war against Ankara in earnest. They will take some hits, but as long as Ankara does not act militarily against the PYD in Syria, I think the PKK will hold back in its response.

Paul Sullivan, Adjunct Professor of Security Studies, Georgetown University

It makes sense to them. Focusing on ISIS earlier on and before the threat came to the land of Turkey may have been more effective. But Turkey sees threats in their viewpoint and will work on those perspectives within the limits of their domestic politics.


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