Business Insider quotes Rafik Hariri Center Senior Fellow Frederic Hof on how the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham has affected the US relationship with Turkey:

Frederic Hof, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and a former special advisor for transition in Syria at the U.S. Department of State, explained the phenomenon in an email to Business Insider. He said Turkey and the US have fundamental differences in how to approach ISIS (emphasis added):”Yes, there is a fundamental difference between the US and Turkey. The Obama administration sees Syria as an adjunct to an anti-ISIS war in Iraq; Syria as an ISIS safe-haven, logistical rear area, and headquarters; ISIS forces in Syria to be harassed while the main combat effort takes place in Iraq. This approach views the Assad regime as a bystander – someone to be ignored to the maximum extent possible. Turkey sees Syria and the Assad regime as the heart of the problem (as well as a direct threat to Turkey’s national security). ISIS, from Ankara’s point of view, cannot be ‘degraded and destroyed’ (Obama’s words) without moving toward implementing President Obama’s ‘Assad should step aside’ dictum of August 2011. “


“This difference has come to a head with the ISIS assault on Kobane,” Hof said. “Its solution requires two things: Turkish rededication to a cooperative relationship with Kurds, both in Turkey and Syria; and American agreement to DO something in Syria instead of just talking about Assad having lost all legitimacy, he must go etc etc.”

“Grounding Assad’s air force so that Turkey can establish a buffer zone inside Syria would be the near-term result of a solution. I’m not optimistic,” Hof added. “President Obama seems satisfied with the Syria policy he’s been pursuing for over three years.”

Read the full article here.

Related Experts: Frederic C. Hof