Until the United States realigns its policies in the region and finds ways to empower the Turkish state to continue combating ISIS both militarily and diplomatically, ISIS will continue murdering innocent civilians and journalists.

Much has been made of last week’s victory against ISIS in Kobani, and many across the world – including the Obama administration – are still assessing the significance of the development in the grander scheme of the conflict against this transnational terrorist group. In the smaller scheme, though, there is broad agreement that credit for the Kobani victory goes, at least in some part, to the Turkish government, which allowed supply lines to cross the borders and aid the Kurdish fighters who recaptured the border town.


Kurdish rebels, like many groups before them, have been largely unable to combat ISIS without widespread support from the international community. As ISIS continues to proliferate, long-term solutions and initiatives that encourage cooperation are more important than ever; otherwise, regional stability will remain evasive.

Since the Syrian conflict first erupted in 2011, Turkey has allowed the use of its air space, opened up humanitarian corridors to Syrian refugees, and shared invaluable information with its allies across the region, all of which allowed for the creation of a concerted international effort. Its recent role in the victory at Kobani underscores an important point that we would do well not to forget: only an empowered and internationally supported Turkish state will prove to be a long-term solution for region instability.

Why then has the U.S. government allowed U.S.-Turkish relations to chill in recent years?

Policy differences between the United States and Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as the echoes of a century-old civil war involving the former Ottoman Empire government (a country that hasn’t existed since 1923) have been highlighted by the press ad nauseam. These are dangerous distractions for the current administration that has broad and meaningful objectives in the region. Make no mistake: allowing these factors to sabotage our interests in the region’s stability is short-sighted, reckless, and will proliferate further violence in the region.

There are many in the United States and abroad who remain determined to desperately hold on to century old issues with the non-existent Ottoman Empire while ignoring the impressive development breakthroughs that the modern Turkey has achieved in the past few decades. This, too, is short-sighted and reckless.

Turkey’s growing middle class – which has quickly become an attractive market and an important voice for inclusive economic development and the consolidation of Turkey’s democracy, acts as an example to be followed by its neighbors in the region. This will prove to be the best opportunity for long term economic stability in the region.

They have achieved this by looking forward, focusing on a future defined by progress and governed by a formula for success and stability. The victory in Kobani is a clear illustration that we have much to learn from this model and much to gain from supporting it.

The United States must move forward though, and ignore the other petty distractions that are endangering the possibility for long-term stability and greater global security.

Berk is a fellow at the Turkish Institute for Progress (TIP).