Turkey ready to take any measure against ISIS
Turkey said Friday it was prepared to take any measure that ensures its own security in the fight against Islamic State militants, keeping Ankara’s options open amid growing pressure from its Western allies for concrete action.
Ankara has for months frustrated the West with its distinctly low-key role in the campaign against ISIS militants but there have been signs over the last days it is shifting its approach.
“If any military operation or a solution carries the perspective of bringing peace and stability to the region, we will support it,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a meeting of his ruling party in Ankara.
“We will take whatever measures our national security requires,” he said, but without giving details about what such measures could entail.
Turkey is under pressure from the United States to play an active role in the broad coalition to defeat the militants, who have seized large swathes of territory in neighbouring Iraq and Syria.
ISIS militants have advanced on the mainly Kurdish Syrian town of Ain al-Arab, just a few kilometres south of the Turkish border. Davutoglu said some 160,000 refugees have now fled from there into Turkey.
Ankara had justified its reticent cooperation by saying its priority was to save dozens of Turkish nationals abducted by IS in Iraq. But after its citizens were freed over the weekend, Ankara’s tone has changed.
On Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed US-led air strikes against the militants in Syria, saying Ankara could provide military or logistical support for the air campaign.
But it still remains unclear how extensive Turkish involvement would be.
Davutoglu said Turkey would oppose any operation in the Middle East region that has the aim of controlling oil and other energy resources.
A key moment in determining further Turkish action could come on October 2 when parliament convenes to consider extending the scope of two existing mandates allowing the government to take military action in Syria and Iraq.
Reports have said the United States is pressing Turkey to allow US forces the use of the Incirlik air base for launching air raids on IS in northern Syria.
Erdogan, currently in the United States to attend the UN General Assembly, on Thursday held two hours of talks with US Vice President Joe Biden.