Turkey and ISIS have long been at odds and exchanged both rhetoric and firepower indicating such. Turkey claims to have been the first country that designated ISIS as a terrorist organization, and more than any other European country Turkey has been the target of ISIS terrorist attacks.
Suspected ISIS involvement in attacks on Turkish soil have occurred in 2013, 2014, and 2015. In 2014, Turkey joined a US-led coalition to fight ISIS. In 2015, Turkey allowed the US to use Incirlik Air Base for airstrikes on ISIS. Following this decision, Turkey has been involved in attacks on ISIS in Syria. ISIS inflamed it’s rhetoric against Turkey as a result, calling Turkey an apostate nation in league with “the crusaders.”
In 2015, 1,200 people were detained in Turkey with suspected ties to ISIS, indicating a strong awareness and desire in the state to combat the terrorist group. In 2016, further terrorist attacks in prominent areas in Turkey resulted in a great number of casualties.
Turkey has been a key location for ISIS activities and a transit point for fighters crossing into Syria. Turkey has also been an important logistical hub for ISIS equipment and bomb transportation.
ISIS seems to be showing no indication to ease its presence in Turkey. On July 10th, ISIS released a video containing armed ISIS members threatening Turkey and affirming their allegiance to the Islamic State. The video appears as part of an effort to emphasize ISIS’s global presence following its losses in territory under its control in Iraq and Syria.
In it, one of the Turkish speaking ISIS members stated “Hey, Erdoğan, the arrogant tyrant of Turkey, do not think the swords of the caliphate’s soldiers are far away from you.” These words send a clear message that ISIS will continue its conflict with Turkey and does not seem deterred by retaliatory Turkish military action in the area.
With this recent video being released of ISIS threatening Turkey, Turkey may be incentivized to reconsider its important relationship with the US in its desire to combat terrorism. The recent indications of Turkey slipping towards a greater relationship with Russia does not bode well for any further Turkish-US coalitions against ISIS. A point not to be overlooked is the US’s force in combating terrorism around the world, a force that Turkey would surely miss if they choose to withdraw from US relationships.
Considering the conflict in Syria and areas close to Turkey, along with the attention ISIS has long paid to Turkey and its geographical importance in supporting their terrorist operations, it is not a stretch to assume ISIS only wishes to strengthen its foothold in Turkey. It serves as a sort of staging ground for both forces combating terrorism and those promoting it, propping Turkey up as as an area likely for terrorist acts.
Postings, Robert. “Islamic State Turkey Province Video Claims New Wilayah in Old Turf.” The Defense Post. July 11, 2019. Accessed July 25, 2019. https://thedefensepost.com/2019/07/11/islamic-state-turkey-province-bayah-video/.
Ahval. “ISIS Threatens Erdoğan in Newly Released Video.” Ahval. July 10, 2019. Accessed July 25, 2019. https://ahvalnews.com/turkey-islamic-state/isis-threatens-erdogan-newly-released-video.
Yeginsu, Ceylan. “Turkey Detains 2 ISIS Militants Planning New Year’s Eve Attack.” The New York Times. December 30, 2015. Accessed July 25, 2019.