Tags Posts tagged with "Turkey"

Turkey

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The 12th century mosque, the Grand al-Nuri in Mosul, from where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed himself the ‘Caliph’ of the world’s Muslims was destroyed by IS as they retreated from the Iraqi troops. Shortly after that, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi formally announced the liberation of Mosul.

The Iraqi army with help from Iran-trained militias, the Kurdish Peshmerga and the U.S. Air Force liberated small cities first, such as Ramadi and Fallujah, before moving towards Mosul in October 2016.

Recently IS has faced many setbacks like:

  • Losing more than half of the territories it once held.
  • Finding it harder to recruit new jihadists under strain of battlefield losses.
  • Its leader Baghdadi being either dead or on the run.

But these setbacks do not mean that the IS has been defeated, because of many reasons:

  • It still controls various strategic territories in Iraq. Hawijah, Tal Afar, Salahuddin province and pockets in Anbar and Diyala. In Syria, it still controls Raqqa, and Deir Ezzor.
  • There’s no guarantee that the IS won’t come back to the cities it lost.

In Syria, the battle against the IS, is more complicated than that in Iraq. In Iraq at least there is a consensus of America, the Kurds and Iran and Shia militias about what the legitimate force is against the IS i.e. the Iraqi government. But in Syria, Raqqa is being attacked by SDF and the government troops both. Russia is backing the regime, while the U.S. is supporting the SDF. Turkey, another country that’s involved by its proxies in the war, is wary of the SDF. So even if Raqqa is liberated someday, it will be difficult to reach on a peaceful decision on who will eventually run the city.

IS which started as an insurgency, has transformed itself into a proto-state. Now the proto-state is under attack, but it can retreat to insurgency (uprising/revolt) for its continued survival.

It has changed its strategy very recently. Instead of expanding its territories now, it has become defensive and released a wave of terror attacks in various parts of the world.

IS has established franchises in other countries. Boko Haram, Africa’s most dreaded terror outfit, has declared loyalty to the IS. In eastern Afghanistan, the Islamic State of Khorasa is a branch of the IS, which is controlling the group’s operations in South Asia. In Philippines, armed jihadist groups have declared their loyalty to the IS and are fighting the government forces also.

 

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Turkey and Russian relations have been very uneven and the assassination of Russian Ambassador Andrey G Karlov was apparently an expression of anger by a lone Islamist who screamed Allahu Akbar adding ” Don’t forget Syria, Don’t forget Aleppo”but Russian president has chosen not to escalate the incident though there are  discussions of World War III breaking out on the lines of World War 1 that started after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria,the heir  to the Austro-Hungarian throne.
But the motives of the assassin, Mevlut Mert Altintas are not known. He could be connected to a jihadist group ie ISIS or lodging a protest against the role of Russia in Syria or could otherwise be a person with Islamic inclination.
As Turkey accused exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen for the killing of Russia’s envoy to Ankara ,Kremlin spokesman Dimitri peskov stated that Turkey should not be in a rush to make conclusions  and wait for the results of a joint investigation.
If it is Islamic inclination or jihadist group than it is a cause for worry because the migration from war-ridden countries like Syria  and others has led such persons to various countries of the world and it is difficult to identify such elements from amongst the migrants.
While Russia has its own problem in Caucasus having large Muslim population where  recently a leader of Islamic State militant group was killed in Caucasus region of Daghestan.There has been a long history of armed insurgency in the North Caucasus  between Russia  and militants associated  with the Caucasus Emirate  and Islamic State of Iraq and Levant.
Even ISIS released a video in which the members of the jihadist group warned Russian President Vladimir Putin and threatened “Putin,we will come to Russia  and will kill you at your homes.”
As a staunch ally of Bashar al-Assad,Russia actually intervened militarily in the Syrian civil war in September 2015 and conducted air raids on the rebel and jihadist groups. But in November 2015 , Turkey shot down  a Russian jet  that precipitated a major crisis.Then in 2016 President Recep Tayyip Erdogen held talks with Vladimir Putin in St.Petersburg and mended ties after the failed military coup in Turkey.
The bone of contention is that Turkey is preventing Syrian Kurdish groups along its border with Syria that may strengthen Kurdish separatism in Turkey while Russia  considers Assad as an strategic ally in Syria and is increasing the number of its allies to oppose US .
Meanwhile, Turkey has accused United States for conspiring with Turkish  cleric Fethullah Gulen to bring down the Turkish government in a coup.
Erdogen ,who has been allowing militants including the Islamic State jihadists to cross into Syria now finds Russia a better ally than US to secure his presidency and his interests in Syria.Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu,who is currently in Moscow for talks with Russia’s Sergey Lavrov and Iran’s Mohammad Javed Zarif  agreed to find a political solution to Syria .