Turkey, Kurdish Rebels, and ISIS

Turkey, Kurdish Rebels, and ISIS

According to a Monday October 20, 2014 CNN report by Brian Walker, the Turkish government has agreed to let Kurdish fighters go through Turkey to enter into Syria to help fight against the ISIS forces. This decision followed additional military support by the United States, as the “U.S. military airdropped weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to Kurdish fighters in Kobani to beef up the defense against the ISIS forces” (CNN, 2014).

This decision by the U.S. was criticized by Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In order to understand why, one merely has to look at Turkey’s history with Kurdish rebels. Erdogan has not been fully supportive of this action, namely because of the support to the Kurdish forces, who he sees as terrorists (CNN, 2014).

Turkey’s interests in the region are to stop ISIS, but also to limit influence by Kurdish rebels. Turkey has attempted to quell Kurdish rebel forces, believing that they are attempting to create a Kurdish state, part of which may include elements of modern-day Turkey. And thus, while they did provide this support for this action, according to the article, they did iterate that this is not a full endorsement of the group, because of its affiliation with the Kurdistan Workers Party (CNN, 2014).

This story is clearly an example of multiple interests in international relations. On the one hand, Turkey wants to eliminate ISIS from the region, but on the other hand, it distrusts the Kurdish rebel forces. In addition, there has been international pressure on Turkey to help with regards to the fight against ISIS. With these situations in international relations, a state often has to balance their various goals, and in this case, it seems that Turkey is willing to provide some support to the Kurdish forces, for their overall interests in fighting ISIS.

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