This week, there have been more than a few media misfires concerning the United States’ relationship with its ally, Turkey, and the agreement to allow the U.S. military to carry out missions over Syria from Turkish air bases.
On Sunday, October 12, 2014, it was reported by several major media outlets that Turkey had agreed to allow the U.S. to use their air bases to stage air strikes over Syria against the Islamic State (IS), also referred to as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Early the next day, Turkish officials were adamant that no deal had been struck, and that talks were still in progress. This announcement prompted several news sources to release stories that hinted of hostilities between the U.S. and Turkey. These stories told of bickering and confusion between the two allies, and even a possible rupture in the alliance. But perhaps it was the news sources that may have been confused.
DOD officials say that Turkey has agreed “in principle” to allowing the U.S. military the use of its air bases, but there are still several details that need to be ironed out before the deal can be finalized. Besides Turkey’s hesitancy to welcome a foreign military into their sovereignty, the Turks have a few other concerns that need to be negotiated.
Turkey has insisted on a no-fly zone over northern Syria, near the Turkey-Syria border, that would facilitate the continued arming and training of moderate rebels to fight against Syria’s Assad regime. The U.S. has resisted this plan despite belief that providing a haven for these rebels could help them fight the IS forces.
Americans reading about the ongoing talks should be aware that Turkey has been a long-time ally to the U.S., as well as a member of NATO. Turkey has been an ongoing partner in the fight against the IS, and has shared intelligence with the U.S. military, as well as participated in a U.S.-led mission to arm and train moderate rebels in Syria. Turkey has granted the U.S. access to a base in Incirlik, to be used as a staging area for surveillance drones.
It is hoped that the tense negotiations will end soon, and the U.S. will be granted a staging area in Turkey to provide better support for our allies that are fighting against the IS on the ground.
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Military Connection: US/Turkey Not Done Talking: By Debbie Gregory