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Turkey’s Conditions for Joining the ISIS War Are Unacceptable

The U.S. and Turkey remain at odds over the latter’s participation in the war against ISIS. The biggest sticking point continues to be the Turkish obsession with overthrowing Assad:

[Foreign Minister Cavusoglu] reiterated Turkey’s position that it is not prepared to step up efforts to help the U.S.-led coalition counter the Islamic State in Syria unless the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad also becomes a goal of the operation.

The administration would be extremely foolish to agree to these terms, and so far it appears that they aren’t willing to agree to them. If Turkey thinks that this will get the U.S. to expand the war to include attacks on the Syrian regime, Kerry should make clear to Ankara that this isn’t going to happen. Turkey may continue to withhold its support for the ISIS war, or it may decide to participate at some point, but the U.S. can’t let its policy be dictated to it by its allies as a condition for their support. If Turkish support comes at the price of having to fight both sides in Syria, the price is far too high. It is understandable that the Turkish government doesn’t want to bear the brunt of a ground war in Syria, since there has long been strong opposition in Turkey to the government’s Syria policy and even greater opposition to Turkish involvement in the war, so the administration would be wise not to expect a large Turkish commitment to the war in any case. Turkey is trying to use the war against ISIS to keep pursuing the misguided goal of regime change in Syria that it has pursued for the last three years without success, and the U.S. would be irresponsible to indulge them in this any more than it already has.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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