Independent Columnist on Turkey


The Independent (September 3, 2015)

Headline reads “With friends like these, who needs enemies in the Middle East?”

There are a handful of factual errors in this column on the Independent written by Rachel Shabi. Ms Shabi states that in July, Turkey agreed to join the fight against Islamic State “after resisting the move for years”, which is an incorrect statement as international pressure to fight the terrorist group only began to mount one year ago when Islamic State invaded northern Iraq from Syria.

Ms Shabi furthermore claims that Turkey is using their attacks against IS as a pretext to launch attacks against the “Kurds”, which is “the only force effectively combating Isis on the ground.” Whilst it is true that Kurdish groups, specifically the Peshmerga in Iraq and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria are arguably the most competent ground forces fighting against IS, Turkish attacks have thus far been centred on the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), which is based mainly in Turkey and northern Iraq. Turkey has not been launching attacks against the Kurds in general, as she insinuates.

The most glaring factual error is that Ms Shabi claims that Turkey has thus far only launched just one airstrike against IS. It is certainly true that Turkey’s fight against IS has been limited, especially in comparison to its fight against the PKK, but Turkey has conducted numerous airstrikes against IS since July 24th. Indeed, even in the period between July 24th and July 25th, there were three waves of airstrikes against IS conducted by the Turkish airforce in that period. Turkey only recently joined in on air raids conducted by the coalition against IS, on August 29th, but Turkey has been conducting its own airstrikes against the group sporadically since July 24th.