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Will Turkey Toughen ISIS Stance Now That Hostages Are Free?

Turkey has resisted calls to join the U.S. in military action against ISIS, citing the safety of 49 Turks taken hostage by the group.

Will Turkey Toughen ISIS Stance Now That Hostages Are Free?
Hurriyet Daily News

Finally, some good news in the global fight against ISIS.

Since June, 49 Turks have been held hostage by ISIS militants in the Iraqi city of Mosul. On Saturday, they were finally freed. What’s unclear is how Turkey managed to secure their release after all this time. (Video via Euronews)

Incredibly, Turkish media are reporting there was no ransom or prisoner swap involved — prompting all sorts of questions over what may have been promised in return.

But the big question is whether this will change Turkey’s involvement in the American-led campaign against ISIS.

A number of Turkey’s Arab neighbors have pledged to military action against ISIS. So far, Turkey — a key U.S. ally and NATO member— has resisted, despite an intense lobbying effort by the U.S.

Turkey would make for an effective partner. The U.S. could launch its airstrikes from an airbase in southern Turkey. But for now, Turkey's only providing humanitarian and logistical support. (Video via YouTube / BYN TV News

Turkey’s reluctance to getting involved can be explained by a few factors, the hostages being one. Turkish officials feared they could be further endangered if Turkey took aggressive action against ISIS. But there’s another more, political reason.

Turkey likely fears any action against ISIS could indirectly strengthen its primary enemy, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The thinking is, eliminating ISIS would clear the way for Assad to focus on the more moderate rebels trying to overthrow him. (Video via Eretz Zen

Turkey has been accused of turning a blind eye to arms shipments that have ended up in the hands of these very rebels. (Video via YouTube / WarClashes)

Turkey’s critics also say it’s done little to prevent the flow of foreign fighters across its 560-mile long border with Syria — an accusation Turkey denies. (Video via Voice of America

The U.S. strategy against ISIS also creates political problems for Turkish officials, who worry efforts to arm the Iraq's Kurdish fighters could strengthen Turkey’s own Kurdish militants fighting for autonomy in Turkey. (Video via Press TV)

The Daily Beast boils down Turkey's predicament: "Turkey could take part in Western strikes against ISIS and risk a backlash from the jihadists themselves .... Or Turkey could refuse to have anything to do with the strikes, angering its Western allies." 

Turkey's stance has drawn comparisons to its refusal in 2003 to allow U.S. troops to operate from Turkish bases during the Iraq War. 

This video includes images from the U.S. Department of State