Turkey has started digestion and recognition of its importance and strategic position to the International Coalition battle to defeat the brutal terror group - the ISIL. After weeks of lukewarm verbal support for the international effort, pledging to train and to equip fighters, Turkey has now gotten off the fences and explicitly committed to allow Coalition leader, the United States(US), to use its military bases in Turkey in the fight against the ISIL.
For weeks Turkey has kept its idled tanks on top of a hill overlooking the besieged Kurdish Syrian Turkish border town of Kobani as ISIL terrorists assaulted civilians with heavy arms-fire. More than 500 have died in fighting for the town and some 200,000 Kurdish refugees have fled into Turkey. Calls for Turkey to intervene on behalf of the Kurds were never acted upon because of Turkish fear of arming the Kurds. Angry Kurds from Germany to Iraq and within Turkey wasted no words or actions to convey to Ankara their disapproval of Turkey's self imposed impotence against the ISIL.
Finally, yesterday, US National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, revealed that Turkey had agreed to allow the US use of military bases within Turkey including Incirlik, in Adana in southern Turkey and close to the Mediterranean Sea. "That's the new commitment, and one that we very much welcome," Ms. Rice told NBC News. Also Turkey has pledged to train moderate Syrian Opposition forces.
These important agreements by Turkey indicate that Ankara is recognizing Turkey's strategic and important role against the ISIL and as a leader in the region. Yet, to clearly define its role as a major player in the region, Turkey, NATO's second largest army, could raise the bar against the ISIL by deploying ground troops against the ISIL in order to speed up the defeat of the terror group and to appease and to re-heal the opening of old wounds within its own Kurdish minority population.
But in consideration of the Ankara government and in light of its new commitments to the battle against the ISIL, Turkey's desire to establish an expensive no-fly-zone along its border with Syria, could now be assessed with considerations of deferring some costs to maintaining the zone split between wealthy Gulf states wanting to participate in the campaign against the ISIL. With a no-fly-zone established, Turkey's scope to the source of instability in the Levant - Damascus, should clearly come into view.