On July 24, Turkey launched a massive military campaign that included sweeping attacks against Kurdish forces as well as minor strikes on Islamic State positions south of Turkey’s border. Just five days later, the Turkish government inked a contract to hire a team of prominent lobbyists to add to its already formidable army of influence-peddlers in Washington.
Luke Harding’s report (11 August) considerably underplays the extent to which Turkey has sought to reverse Kurdish gains in Syria and Iraq on the pretext of confronting Isis. Far from being embroiled in a two-front war, Turkey has carried out hardly any attacks against Isis and has instead focused on bombing raids on PKK camps in northern Iraq. Almost all the jihadis entering Syria did so via Turkey. There are an estimated 12,000 jihadis. That’s a lot to miss. In 2014, when the al-Qaida affiliate al-Nusra captured Kassab, it was clear they’d been allowed to mobilise from within Turkey. Ankara initially opposed the movement of Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga to lift the siege of Kobani by Isis. So far as Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is concerned, the PKK represents a greater threat to Turkish interests than Isis.