Earlier today, ISIS fighters reportedly attacked a Turkish border post in Kilis, killing two Turkish soldier and drawing return fire that killed at least one ISIS member. This, combined with Monday’s terrorist bombing of a pro-Kurdish rally in the Turkish town of Suruç, which is being blamed on ISIS, seems like it may have made an impact on Ankara, which announced later in the day that it was preparing to allow anti-ISIS coalition airstrikes to take off from its Incirlik air base, a development that Turkey has been resisting and that could have a significant positive impact on the coalition’s ability to strike ISIS inside Syria (particularly if this is just the first of many steps that really bring Turkey into the fight). Obviously it would be too much to say that the Suruç attack and the Kilis fighting caused Ankara to reverse course on the use of Incirlik, an issue that Ankara and Washington have been trying to negotiate for months now, but either or both may have nudged the Turks just a little.
If the Turkish army is going to start openly engaging ISIS on the border now, it’s probably only a matter of time before Ankara revisits the idea of invading northern Syria and establishing a buffer zone. That hypothetical buffer zone would ostensibly be about keeping ISIS away from the border, but could easily be used to contain Kurdish ambitions in the Rojava area, which is pretty firmly under Kurdish control at the moment. Indeed, Suruç also looks like it may cause further deterioration in Turkey’s relations with its own Kurdish population; yesterday Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party claimed responsibility for the murder of two Turkish riot policemen, who it claimed were in cahoots with ISIS, in Ceylanpınar. Ankara is unlikely to just let that kind of thing slide.
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