Do Turkey or the US-led coalition have a real plan to combat militants?

What the Arabic-language media has to say about the fight against ISIL, featuring Rajeh Al Khouri (Annahar), Abdulrahman Al Rashid (Asharq Al Awsat) and Hosink Ossi (Al Hayat).

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In August, the US began its air raids in Mosul, Iraq. Then four weeks ago, the international coalition began executing air operations against ISIL locations in Syria.

However, despite information about the destruction of ISIL bases in these raids, terrorists continue to advance on all fronts, remarked the columnist Rajeh Al Khouri in the Lebanese daily Annahar.

Despite this, there are no indications that Washington, the coalition leader, is in a hurry to develop a strategy that could change the tide of the war on the ground.

Earlier this week, Gen Martin Dempsey, the US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, held a military meeting with coalition chiefs of staff in the US in which he observed that there haven’t been any developments on the ground that indicate that a direct involvement by US troops would have made air strikes more efficient.

“No developments?” the writer asked. “But what about the slaughters in Kobani?

“And what about Baghdad, where ISIL forces would have come close to controlling the airport if it weren’t for Apache helicopters?”

Meanwhile, Iraqi officials are alerting Washington of their extreme distress, asking for protection from the terrorists who are inching ever closer to the Baghdad.

Adding to the confusion, Washington recently announced that Turkey had allowed the US military to access its bases for raids on ISIL positions.

Turkey, however, was quick to deny that. The writer postulated that Turkey’s participation was dependent on it “securing the establishment of a buffer zone and guaranteeing the defeat of ISIL and Al Assad simultaneously”.

Examining the Turkish attitude towards the war on ISIL, the columnist Abdulrahman Al Rashid wrote in the London-based daily Asharq Al Awsat: “Turkey is the influential power capable of toppling the Assad regime, besieging the extremist groups in Syria, supporting the Iraqi regime as well as protecting Kurdistan.

“Nonetheless, the Turkish government has not taken any significant action and instead has left the Assad regime to wreak havoc and slaughter unabated for three years while extremist groups mushroomed and Kurdistan remained unprotected.”

Why does Ankara refuse to play a decisive role in the battle? Is it apprehensive of military involvement? Syria is geographically closer to Turkey than it is to the Gulf countries and Iran, but Turkey remains hesitant to use its vast military capabilities.

“Had the Turks made good on their repeated threats and helped in ousting the Assad regime in Syria, Ankara would have risen to become the prevailing power and the decision-maker for the region,” the writer noted.

Turkey has disappointed millions of Syrians who were promised help. Iran was quick to take advantage of this Turkish inertia and expose it.

“What good is Turkey’s military power if it can’t rescue a population that has had 250,000 of its members slaughtered,” Al Rashid asked.

“Why be a member of the Nato alliance when it can’t intervene to end a regional conflict at its borders?”

The Kurdish columnist Hosink Ossi, writing in the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat, accused the Turkish government of providing logistic support to ISIL.

“Turkey could wash itself in a sea of holy water and it wouldn’t be enough to wipe out its blatant involvement, because it offered itself as a safe haven to all terrorist takfiri groups of the likes of ISIL and Al Nusra Front.”

He said Turkey had been supporting Islamists in Syria since the 1980s to counterbalance the support that the then Syrian president Hafez Al Assad offered to Kurds and Turkish left wing groups.

Turkey is using ISIL as a proxy military force in Syria to mount the pressure on Syrian Kurds, the writer suggested.

It is seeking to move its battle with the Kurdish Labour Party from Turkey to Syria, using terrorist organisations to fight on its behalf, he added.

Translated by Racha Makarem