In his first trip abroad since being named Defense Secretary, Ashton Carter addressed an unprotected 60-mile corridor along the Turkish-Syrian border and
“Turkey has an enormous role to play. We appreciate what they’re doing. We want them to do more. The single most important contribution that [Turkish] geography makes necessary is the control of their own border,” Carter said, on a visit to Incirlik Air Force Base.
Following allegations leveled by Russia several weeks ago that ISIS had mastered the for-profit movement of petroleum products and stolen property into Turkey from Syria, Carter expressed the White House’s eagerness to monitor and fortify an area which Turkey shares with Syria currently under ISIS control.
Why Ankara has not been more vigilant in the protection of its border is an unsolved riddle, particularly in face of the fact ISIS remains in control of a vast area of northern Syria bordering Turkey.
Unless Turkey is complicit, as Russia accuses, in the foreign sale of ISIS petroleum or the Turks are more interested in using the catastrophe of ISIS as a distraction to prosecute private hostilities against the Kurds, ignoring ISIS further will result in Turkey’s margins eventually breached by the terror group.
Now identified as an essential source of revenue, cutting off the illicit sale of ISIS petroleum should be of paramount concern for all coalition partners.
Underneath the appearance of unity and support, it is emerging Turkey delights in ISIS as a distraction so Ankara can eke several more military victories and settle scores against their long-time Kurdish rivals.
Long seething over Kurdish resilience, Ankara may be guilty of abetting ISIS’ growth. If ISIS’ spigot of oil is not shut down, the war will widen and consume the entire region.
Long blameworthy for staggering incompetence, if Mr. Obama is as strong as he intended to appear in Monday’s visit to the Pentagon, Mr. Carter will cajole Ankara to act, shut the border with Syria and put aside its campaign against the Kurds.
Or perhaps the union of Washington D.C. and Ankara is a brief interlude.
[RT News] [BBC] [Photo courtesy PBS.org]