News / Middle East

Turkey Concerned About Militant Uprising in Iraq

This image from video posted by Iraqi Revolution, a group supporting ISIL, shows a militant standing in front of a burning Iraqi Army Humvee in Tikrit, Iraq, June 11, 2014.
This image from video posted by Iraqi Revolution, a group supporting ISIL, shows a militant standing in front of a burning Iraqi Army Humvee in Tikrit, Iraq, June 11, 2014.
Dorian Jones
An Islamist militants' seizure of the Turkish consulate in the Iraqi city of Mosul is stoking concerns Ankara could intervene in the fast-spreading insurgency.   

The radical Islamic group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is holding 49 Turkish diplomats and family members, including children, captive.   An ISIL spokesman told an Iraqi Kurdish news organization that no harm will come to the diplomats.  

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has warned of swift retaliation if the diplomats are harmed.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag says Turkey's government is considering whether it has sufficient legal powers to launch a military operation.

The issue of whether the existing mandate is sufficient for a military operation or a new mandate is required is among the issues being discussed, he said.

Cross-border military operations have to be sanctioned by the Turkish Parliament.  Last year, the parliament gave the government the power to launch military operations against Kurdish rebel bases in neighboring Iraq, but the mandate expires in September.

Analyst Cengiz Aktar of the Istanbul Policy Center says Turkey may hold back.

"Turkey’s intervention could be justified by the hostage taking at the Mosul consulate.  But whether Turkey will dare to intervene militarily, there is serious doubts," Aktar said.  

Adding to pressure on the government is the fate of more than 30 Turkish truck drivers also being held by ISIL.  Turkish media quoting one of the drivers as saying they are facing execution unless a ransom is paid.

These seizures are posing difficult questions for the Turkish government about its regional foreign policy, says international relations expert Soli Ozel of Istanbul’s Kadir Has University.

"The fall of Mosul and, certainly the taking of the consulate, is basically declaring the bankruptcy of Turkey’s foreign policy vis-a-vis the neighborhood," said Ozel. "Because this organization is one that Turkey has at least indirectly, nurtured, certainly tolerated and gave logistic support to."

The Turkish media has been awash with reports of the presence of ISIL fighters in Turkey’s border towns with Syria, along with pictures of ISIL fighters being treated in Turkish hospitals.  Ankara strongly denies it has given any support to ISIL.

Analyst Ozel warns Turkey is vulnerable to retaliation if it moves against ISIL.

"They probably have fighters, militants in Turkey," he said. "They probably have sympathizers in Turkey.  And there are, I am sure, plenty of Turkish fighters among them." 

But Ankara has given signs of a recalibration of its regional foreign policy.  

Last month, it designated the radical Islamic group al-Nusra, also affiliated to al-Qaida, as a terrorist group.  On Monday, the Turkish and Iranian presidents committed their countries to cooperation against what they described as the threat of terror and radical extremism in the region.

Observers say the latest events in Iraq may well expedite that cooperation, but it remains too early to say whether it will result in meaningful action.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid