Turkey holds security summit over its role in anti-ISIL fight

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With eyes turned to Washington to hear the U.S. strategy to combat extremist jihadists in Iraq and Syria, the Turkish government is pondering its potential contribution to the anti-terror international coalition. A security summit was held Sept. 10 in the Turkish capital Ankara under PM Ahmet Davutoğlu and with the participation of senior military and government officials.

The meeting took place in two stages, according to sources, who said the participants first discussed the ongoing Kurdish resolution process and the potential impact of developments inside Iraq and Syria to the government’s efforts to resolve the problem. In the second stage, they analyzed developments in the field as clashes between jihadists and Iraqi central and regional government forces continue, as well as international efforts to destroy the growing threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The summit comes one day before U.S. President Barack Obama is set to outline a broad strategy in the fight against the ISIL.

A key international summit will also then be convened in Saudi Arabia with the participation of potential members of the core coalition, established under U.S. leadership. Turkey will be represented by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu at the meeting, which U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will also attend.

The meetings follow U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s visit to Ankara on Sept. 8, where he discussed methods of cooperation between the two countries against ISIL. Turkey is set to be included in the coalition, but it is expected to have a passive contribution because of its 49 citizens who have been held as hostages by ISIL since June 11.

Turkey’s main contribution would be to increase its border security to stop the infiltration of foreign fighters into Syria and Iraq to join the ISIL, to deepen intelligence cooperation and sharing with Western countries, to assist the coalition by easing logistic transportation, and to continue effective humanitarian assistance to those in need – especially in northern Iraq.

Along with from Davutoğlu, Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel, Land Forces Commander Gen. Hulusi Akar, Gendarmerie Forces Commander Gen. Abdullah Atay, Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, Interior Minister Efkan Ala, National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Chief Hakan Fidan, and the undersecretaries of the foreign ministry and prime ministry, Feridun Sinirlioğlu and Fahri Kasırga, were also present at the meeting. Ankara’s internal consultations will continue with the participation of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in due course, with Erdoğan likely to meet his Western counterparts, including President Obama, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting between Sept. 21 and 25 in New York.

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