This ridiculous situation points up again how drastically the U.S. needs to reconfigure its alliances in light of the global jihad. The old Cold War arrangements simply don’t make any sense today, and lead to this: NATO promising to defend Turkey against the Islamic State that exists today in no small degree because of Turkish help.
“Well-Armed Turkey Aided Rise of Islamic State: Yet NATO Promises To Defend Ankara From Extremists,” by Doug Bandow, Forbes, September 8, 2014 (thanks to Twostellas):
…Also targeted by ISIL is Turkey. This led NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to promise to defend Ankara: “If any of our allies, and in this case of course particularly Turkey, were to be threatened from any source of threat, we won’t hesitate to take all steps necessary to ensure effective defense of Turkey or any other ally.”
As a statement of solidarity Rasmussen’s words might offer comfort. As a guide to Western policy the statement makes no sense.
After all, Ankara is partly to blame for ISIL’s rise. The Erdogan government long ago decided to support the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Ankara allowed opposition fighters from all sides easy access to the battlefield. None were too brutal or radical to bar passage. This included ISIL, which gained strength and resources by conquering Syrian territory. Reported the Washington Post: “eager to aid any and all enemies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Turkey rolled out the red carpet.” The government simply looked the other way as members of the Islamic State and other Islamist groups traveled to Syria.
Indeed, added the Post, Islamic State fighters treated the border town of Reyhanli, Turkey “as their own personal shopping mall.” Local LOCM +1.7% residents acknowledged jihadis purchasing supplies and wounded fighters being treated in local hospitals. One Islamic State commander told the Post: “We used to have some fighters—even high-level members of the Islamic State—getting treated in Turkish hospitals. And also, most of the fighters who joined us in the beginning of the war came via Turkey, and so did our equipment and supplies.” A politician from Reyhanli, Tamer Apis, complained that the government “welcomed anyone against Assad, and now they are killing, spreading their disease, and we are all paying the price.” While there was a lot of blame to go around, “this is a mess of Turkey’s making,” he added.
That Turkey might suffer some unfortunate complications from the bitter civil war next door should not surprise. Blowback is a constant of Middle Eastern policy, irrespective of government. But Ankara knowingly chose to play with fire. The Erdogan government since has changed course, confronting insurgents it once welcomed and attempting to close off what has been called the “jihadist” or “jihadi” highway. But passage for people and materiel through the 565-mile border still is available at a price.
Moreover, the worst damage has been done. Reported Bloomberg’s Mehul Srivastava and Selcan Hacaoglu, ISIL “has already established itself firmly in Turkish society.” The group has gained control of Syrian territory and expanded into Iraq, where it grabbed 49 Turkish diplomats and family members. The Islamic State military leader explained: “Now we are getting enough weapons from Iraq, and there is enough to buy even within Syria. There is no real need to get things from outside anymore.”
In all of this Turkey is paying the price of its own folly. There’s no reason to share the burden with 27 other NATO members. Better to hold Ankara accountable for its actions by leaving it responsible for its self-inflicted wounds….