The Deep Roots of Turkey’s War on ISIL

By Ramzy Baroud

July 23 signalled a major shift in Turkey’s policy towards Syria when its fighter jets began pounding Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets.

The change in Turkey’s attitude towards the US-led war on ISIL is explained by many in the context of the devastating suicide bombing in the southern province of Suruc. The attack, which has been blamed on ISIL militants, killed 33 people.

But Turkish firepower alone is unlikely to curtail ISIL’s advances or fundamentally alter the geopolitical equation.

In fact, the US-led aerial war campaign has lasted for nearly a year, and there is little evidence to suggest that ISIL’s control, which extends from Turkey’s southern border to eastern Syria and western Iraq, among other regions, has be considerably reduced.

Much is now being written about Turkey’s change of heart towards ISIL. The country’s relationship with the group has been suspect even in the eyes of Turkey’s own NATO allies, lead among them the United States.

Shady oil smuggling dealings, which have sustained the nascent ISIL economy, have been largely facilitated by Turkish dealers taking advantage of the purposely porous 900km border with Syria.

Turkey was keen on seeing the demise of the Syrian regime, and ISIL among other militant groups, seemed to be capable of achieving that objective.

– Read more: The Deep Roots of Turkey’s War on ISIL – Ramzy Baroud, Al Jazeera


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