Turkey gains time for contribution to anti-ISIL coalition
Sevil Erkuş ANKARA
Retired general John Allen met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Ankara on Oct. 9. AA PhotoIn a meeting to draw up Turkey’s contribution to the anti-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) coalition, Ankara has asked U.S. officials to present a comprehensive strategy for Syria before taking a step for its cooperation. The strategy should include not only the defeat of the jihadists, but also put forth a post-ISIL perspective that includes toppling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Ankara insists.
“The U.S. already has an action plan, but Turkey will not take a step from today to tomorrow, because we want to see an overall strategy,” a Turkish official told Hürriyet Daily News, elaborating on meetings between President Barack Obama’s special representative in dealing with the ISIL threat, former Gen. John Allen, and the deputy undersecretary of the Department of State, Ambassador Brett McGurk, in Ankara on Oct. 9.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told Gen. Allen the necessity of establishing a safe haven in Syria to tackle the mass influx of Syrian refugees into Turkey, as well as creating a no fly zone, according to the official. The U.S. delegation did not comment on Turkey’s demand for a safe haven, but took note of the demand, according to the official.
The minister stressed “al-Assad and similar regimes to his administration were the reasons behind the security problems in the region,” the minister told the U.S. official. The transformation in Syria should be in line with the Geneva declaration, according to the official.
The use of İncirlik Airbase in Turkey by coalition forces was not discussed at the meeting with the Foreign Ministry.
Çavuşoğlu also briefed Gen. Allen about the measures Ankara has been taking concerning foreign fighters crossing through Turkey into Syria and Iraq.
Meanwhile, a joint military planning team will visit Ankara early next week to follow up on military-to-military channels, U.S. Department of State spokesperson Jan Psaki said at a press conference on Oct. 9.
“Gen. Allen and Deputy Special Envoy McGurk also emphasized that urgent steps are immediately required to degrade ISIL’s military capabilities and ongoing ability to threaten the region,” Psaki said.