‘Turkey to lose big if ISIL wins against coalition’

‘Turkey to lose big if ISIL wins against coalition’

İpek Yezdani - ipek.yezdani@hurriyet.com.tr
‘Turkey to lose big if ISIL wins against coalition’

Hürriyet photo: Muhsin Akgün

Turkey and Western allies need to be in full cooperation in order to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), former British Defense Secretary and a prominent member of the governing Conservative Party, Dr. Liam Fox has said.

“Turkey will be one of the big losers if we don’t deal with ISIL successfully,” Dr. Fox told daily Hürriyet in an interview on Feb. 3. 

“Rising Tides: Facing the Challenges of a New Era,” a book Dr. Fox wrote on transnational terrorism and rising extremism and was published by TEAS in Turkish recently. 

“If ISIL goes on and we don’t deal with it properly, it will be a problem destabilizing one of your borders for a long time. It is Turkey’s interest, as well as our interest, to maintain a strong coalition and speak as a single voice as much as we can while dealing with this problem. If we don’t; the consequences for us all will be fairly dreadful,” Fox said. 

Turkey and the West need to have full cooperation in militarily and in intelligence, Fox said. “In all these areas we need to see full cooperation from Turkey. And Turkey deserves full cooperation from the rest of us too.  We are going to deal with it by cutting off their money and financial flows, we must make the case actively that that type of society is barbaric and medieval,” he said.  

'Airstrikes are not enough'

Fox said air strikes by the coalition forces led by the U.S. on ISIL targets in Iraq and Syria can only be “partly effective” and there needed to be a land battle against ISIL.  

“You can never win a war from the air alone. I have always thought that one of the key elements in Iraq and Syria is getting the Sunni tribes; especially the tribes in the Anbar province to active and to be the ground troops along side the Iraqi army. We need to give them whatever help, equipment and training they require,” he added.  

'ISIL did not appear overnight'

Fox also stressed that the ISIL was very well funded and organized and it was not a terrorist organization that appeared overnight. 

“ISIL emerged with great deal of finance, a great deal of organization and that couldn’t have happened by accident. They had to have assistance in that,” he added. 

Fox said one of the biggest troubles with the conflict in Syria was it was so complex and too many people supported more than one side in the conflict. 

“A lot of people inadvertently gave ISIL strength over time. They gave financial support and arms; they allowed ISIL to grow and have strength. Some people wanted to support those who were fighting against [Bashar] al-Assad in Syria. So you had a whole range of different interests. Whether states were involved is difficult to say now. What is clear is ISIL is a very dangerous threat to everybody and we have to use every tool to defeat them,” he said.  

Fox also said the secular legacy left by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was important for both Europe and the Middle East.

Turkey is very important because where Turkey ends up will have great impact on the rest of us, on Europe, the Middle East and beyond. It is not just the internal politics where Turkey orients itself; internationally does Turkey still orient itself toward the EU with an aspiration for membership? Does it see NATO as its key international relationship? What does it see its role as ensuring the energy security of the Western allies? There is a whole range of questions that are important for us.