After initially remaining uninvolved in the West’s struggle to contain Islamic State militants in the Middle East, Turkey recently announced that it would be supporting U.S. and NATO airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq. What initially came as welcome news, however, was soured by the reality that Turkish forces seemed more interested in engaging Kurdish targets than ISIS militants. The Kurds, for the record, have to this point been one of the West’s strongest regional allies in containing and combatting ISIS.
Turks and Kurds have a long and violent history with one another, but the most recent flare-up has the potential for far-reaching and long-lasting consequences for the nation of Turkey. Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine reports on the increased violence in Turkey’s troubled and divided eastern region:
“The killing continues, especially in Cizre and in other places in the overwhelmingly Kurdish inhabited southeast. And it won’t allow itself to be stopped again so quickly. Several municipalities have broken away from Turkey and declared autonomy. There, young Kurds with Kalashnikovs, Molotov cocktails and stones are calling the shots. Trenches and barricades made of rocks, rubble and car tires are meant to prevent the advances of security forces that are no longer simply responding with tear gas, but also with live ammunition and snipers” (Hasnain Kazim, “‘We Want a Massacre’: Turkish-Kurdish Tensions Escalate as Election Looms,” Sept. 17, 2015).
Many in the country, especially Kurds, are placing blame for the violent eruption on Turkish President Recep Erdogan: “Critics argue that Erdogan . . . consciously pushed the country into chaos in order to portray himself as a strong leader. He is risking a civil war, they claim, in order to win the Nov. 1 elections” (ibid.).
Whether or not Erdogan or other leaders are engineering a civil war in the country, the human toll has been and will continue to be large with intense violence. In an already unstable region, a weaker or divided Turkey opens the door for insurgents like ISIS to take further root. Jesus urged His disciples to watch events in and around Jerusalem—the area of the Middle East—in anticipation of His coming (Matthew 24-25). We should do likewise. (Source: Der Spiegel.)