Turkey is walking a fine line in the growing war against ISIS but – should Iraq and Syria ultimately fall to the Islamist terror army – it may be the next country targeted for insurgency. There is no geopolitical genius behind this prediction; how could Turkey not be on the minds of those whose ultimate goal is to establish a new Islamic Caliphate? There are three main reasons for the inevitable assault upon this most strategically located of countries; each of these reasons is glaringly obvious and – if the Turkish government is not already preparing for this eventuality – it has made a tragic and, possibly, fatal mistake.
The first reason must begin with an exploration of why the West – Europe, Canada and, particularly, the United States – is so despised by the extremist element in the Muslim world? The common refrain has always been that western intervention – meddling – in middle eastern affairs has turned the Muslim world against the west. Whilst there is more than a grain of truth in this idea, the bigger picture is expansion and conversion. Just as the Christian world once sought to conquer and Christianize the Middle East, so have the most fervent followers of the Prophet ever sought to conquer Europe. By extension, the United States is hated for strategic reasons; Still the greatest military power on Earth, the United States stands – as it has in the past – in the way of any subjugation of Europe by a dictatorial power.
Were ISIS to emerge as the victors in Iraq and Syria and be granted the time and space to regroup and consolidate, their intentions will turn to those two geographical areas that have always been their target; the Levant – North Africa – and Europe. Turkey, straddling the passageway from the Middle East to Europe, is the natural, and obvious, next target. This is the second reason why Turkey will be next.
The third reason is matter of Turkish demographics. Although a mainly secular nation, approximately 99 percent of the country’s more than 70 million people are Muslim. Additionally, Turkey’s internal problems with ethnic Kurds are likely to increase in direct proportion to the Islamic State’s control of Syria and Iraq. Not long ago, Kurdish separatists saw the very real prospect of carving out an autonomous Kurdish entity from northern Iraq and Syria. Should ISIS prevail in those two countries, the Kurds will find themselves pushed back into southeastern Turkey – swelling the numbers of ethnic Kurds and creating a full-blown refugee crisis. This process has already begun, as Kurdish refugees pour into Turkey from northern Syria. Years of animosity between the Kurds and their Turkish oppressors will, inevitably, boil over. Indeed, the strategic thinkers at the head of ISIS would surely see this ethnic hatred as a tool of destabilization in Turkey.
In the minds of Islamic State long-term thinkers, the subjugation of Turkey would serve to shield their gains in the Middle East from military assault; providing them with an unassailable base from which to conduct the long, hard struggle to conquer Europe. Given the population growth among Europe’s Muslims, coupled with the ability to pump fighters and equipment from the Middle East into Europe via Turkey, the ultimate demise of Europe’s secular democracies is all but inevitable. Turkey, more so than even the United States, must come to terms with the fact that it faces an implacable threat to its east; a threat that will consume it next, after the fall of Iraq and Syria, should it fail to take action now against ISIS.
Opinion by Graham J Noble