25 February 2018

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Washington asking a reluctant Turkey to do "more" against the Islamic state

A statement by US Secretary of State John Kerry confirms that the US is putting pressure on Ankara, which however is more concerned about the possibility that Syrian Kurds autonomy alongside the largely autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan might boost a push for autonomy by Turkish Kurds. Turkey also wants the coalition to get rid of Assad.

Washington (AsiaNews/Agencies) - US Secretary of State John Kerry said he expected Turkey to decide "over the next hours, days" what more it may do to confront the Islamic State (IS).

The statement confirms that Washington is putting pressures on Ankara to act as war rages in and near Kobane between Islamic State (IS) and Kurdish forces.

The Turks "are using excuses not to do more," said a US official, speaking about talks between Washington and Ankara. "It's a larger objective with them than Kobane . . . a larger discussion," he added, suggesting that Washington was playing a longer game with Ankara about "the role they can play overall here."

Meanwhile, Turkey's military has deployed tanks on the border, not far from the city. For now, they are just sitting on the sidelines, as IS militants fight to gain control of Kobane. At the same time, Turkish authorities are preventing Turkish Kurds from helping their compatriots in Syria.

In Turkey itself, the death toll from protests over the government's inaction has hit 22.

Turkey is ambivalent about the fight across its border because of its distrust of Kurdish fighters protecting Kobane. It views them as an extension of the Kurdish PKK, the rebel group that has waged a long and bloody insurgency against Ankara.

In recent days, Turkish officials have in fact gone out of their way to suggest that they view IS and the PKK as terrorist groups.

Underlying everything is Turkey's fear that if Syrian Kurds achieve autonomy next to an autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, Turkish Kurds would be next.

In addition, Ankara wants the anti-IS coalition to aim at removing the Assad regime. Responding to critics, " Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said, "The ones who were silent in the face of the death of 300,000 people in the past 3.5 years, ignoring the use of chemical weapons, SCUD missiles and barrel bombs [in Syria], are suddenly putting an effort to create an international perception as if Turkey must immediately solve the problem in Kobane itself".

See also

08/10/2014 SYRIA - TURKEY
As airstrikes fail to stop Jihadist push in Kobane, ground operation appears necessary
As street fighting rages, Kurdish fighters and militias of the Islamic State battle for control of the city. Ankara is playing hard to get, using its intervention as a bargaining chip for support for anti-Assad rebels. Iran claims airstrikes are designed to topple the Syrian regime. In Turkey 14 Kurdish protesters die.

27/01/2015 TURKEY - SYRIA
Kurdish victory in Kobane worries Erdogan
The Islamic state had threatened the city since September. Some 1,800 people died in the fighting with tens of thousands made refugees. Turkey's ambiguity stems from its fear that a Kurdish autonomous region might emerge in northern Syria.

Ankara to allow Iraqi Kurds to cross to fight Islamic state
The Turkish government backtracks on blocking Kurds. The latter will now be able to fight with Syrian Kurds in Kobane. The United States carries out airdrops of military and medical supplies to fighters resisting Islamic fundamentalists.

08/02/2016 18:59:00 SYRIA
For Nuncio in Damascus, pope's efforts on Syria to be admired, but peace needs a miracle

Mgr Zenari welcomes the pontiff’s call for a "political solution" to the conflict. For the prelate, civilians want more than words; they want "concrete steps" towards a ceasefire. However, a miracle is now needed, like the one that led to the elimination of chemical weapons. As Gulf States put pressure for a ground operation, Syrian government forces push north.

14/10/2014 SYRIA - TURKEY
Jihadist flag removed in Kobane after Kurdish counter-offensive against Islamic state
Kurdish militias retake the Tall Shair hilltop and remove Islamist flag thanks to US airstrikes. Obama meets coalition military leaders. Ankara stops aid to the Kurds, denies the US use of its air bases and bombs PKK rebel sites.

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