Not Really a Coalition: The U.S.–Turkey Deal on the Fight against the Islamic State

Pinar Elman
Content Type
Policy Brief
The Polish Institute of International Affairs
Turkey’s decision to open Incirlik airbase to the anti-IS coalition could offer a significant advantage in the fight against the Islamic State, including cutting it off from outside supplies, and changing the regional parameters. However, statements from the U.S. and Turkey still contradict each other, and their divergent priorities could hamper their operational capacity. Turkey’s contribution to the coalition may potentially reduce cooperation between the U.S. and the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) in the anti-IS zone. In addition, the absence of a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the domestic polarisation provide a permissible environment for potential provocations that may escalate the violence in Turkey, potentially diminishing its contribution. The U.S. and Turkey still have to overcome their differences in order to become effective coalition partners