Ankara ‘likely to keep’ stance on ISIL action

Ankara ‘likely to keep’ stance on ISIL action

Serkan Demirtaş
Ankara ‘likely to keep’ stance on ISIL action

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and US Secretary of State John Kerry shake hands before addressing the media before a meeting in Ankara, Sept. 12. AP Photo

The international conference to be held under French leadership in Paris on Sept. 15 is unlikely to change Turkey’s position vis a vis the international military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), according to a Turkish official.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who will represent Turkey at the conference, will underline the need for “absolute elimination of ISIL’s root causes,” citing the formation of an inclusive government in Iraq and the toppling of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria as necessary priorities to achieve this end.

In the event that participants in the Paris conference agree on an action plan outlining the division of labor among the coalition countries, including which country will carry out airstrikes or whose country’s airbases and military facilities will be used, Çavuşoğlu will not make any commitment on behalf of Turkey, according to the Turkish official speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News.

French President François Hollande initiated the conference as the last stop of week-long international traffic driven by the United States, including a meeting in Jeddah with members of the anti-ISIL coalition group. French diplomats say the conference could bring up an action plan with a clear division of labor, but it is not yet clear whether the meeting will fulfill this expectation.

Turkey will also participate in the meeting but it won’t change the line that it already disclosed to top U.S. officials visiting Ankara last week - the secretaries of defense and state, Chuck Hagel and John Kerry.

“There has been nothing for us to change our position since last week,” the official said, recalling that Turkey had stressed to its allies that it will not commit itself to military action and will not facilitate its bases for airstrikes against jihadist targets.

‘Root causes should be eliminated’

“Turkey’s approach is well-known. As a country that has suffered a lot from terror, it will continue to cooperate with its allies against all sorts of terrorism and Iraq is not an exception,” the official added.

Turkey believes, however, that eradicating the root causes of the ISIL problem is the most important thing, and Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu will underline this aspect in his address to the conference in Paris.

“There are two main sources of instability in the region: The first is the absence of an inclusive government in Iraq. Turkey has long been in efforts for the formation of such government. Our foreign minister met [Iraqi Foreign Minister] Jaferi last week in Jeddah. The absence of an inclusive government pushes those who are sidelined to join groups like ISIL,” the official said, adding that the second source that should be eliminated is the al-Assad regime in Syria.

“The continuation of this regime is the main obstacle to stability in Syria. Al-Assad must go and an inclusive government should be formed. A comprehensive strategy should include this measure as well,” the official underlined.

What has Turkey done?

In his address to the Paris conference, Çavuşoğlu is also expected to inform participants about Turkish actions so far to stop the flow of foreign fighters, to cut the financial links of terror groups, and to provide sufficient humanitarian aid.

It is not yet clear whether the conference will produce a joint communiqué or statement, the official added.