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The Obama Administration Has a

Kiss-and-Tell Problem
In its excitement to trumpet the coalition
against the Islamic State, the U.S. is outing
partners before they're ready to go steady.
BY GO!" #!$%!& , 'O(% (U)SO%*O+$OB,# -., /0-1
$he Obama administration insists that it has a large and
gro2ing coalition of nations arrayed to 3ght the Islamic State. If a ne2
diplomatic blo2up 2ith $ur4ey is any example, though, the alliance may be
far less robust than 5ashington says.
$he latest ro2 concerns the 4ey 6uestion of 2hether $ur4ey, 2hich hosts a
spra2ling !merican air base, 2ill let U.S. 2arcraft 7y from it into Ira6 and
Syria to batter the militant group. U.S. o8cials said Sunday that !n4ara had
gi9en the green light. "ess than a day later, $ur4ish o8cials categorically
denied that they'd agreed to allo2 their bases to be used against the terror
$he con7icting 9ersions of e9ents from the t2o allies ha9e one of t2o
causes. One is political: $he 5hite (ouse is eager to sho2 a 2ar*2eary
!merican public that the United States 2on't be 3ghting alone, but many
&iddle ,astern countries don't 2ant to rile up their o2n populations by
ad9ertising their roles in the coalition. $he other is a more basic and
troubling one: that 5ashington may be consistently misreading its partners
and o9erestimating ;ust ho2 committed they are to the 3ght.
$he $ur4ey dispute re9ol9es around the use of the country's bases by
coalition forces to 7y airstri4es and sur9eillance missions against ISIS <as
the Islamic State is also 4no2n= in Ira6 and Syria. But !n4ara 2asn't the
only capital to experience a 3t of stage fright after its potential in9ol9ement
in the anti*ISIS coalition 2ent public.
In September, 2hen >oreign olicyreported details of a secret o?er by the
nation of Georgia to host a training camp for anti*ISIS 3ghters, the story
prompted a strong public bac4lash in $bilisi due to security concerns for the
tiny +aucasian nation of 1.@ million. 5ithin /1 hours, Georgian o8cials
denied ha9ing made any such o?er.
AI categorically rule out any military participation or training base in
Georgia,A Georgian >oreign &inister &aia an;i4idBe said.
"ast month, Slo9enian rime &inister &iro +erar said his
go9ernmentopposed terrorism, but expressed annoyance that his country
2as included in the U.S. go9ernment's o8cial list of anti*ISIS partners
2ithout being informed.
AI am bothered by the fact that 2e ha9e been placed on the list 2ithout the
go9ernment's 4no2ledge,A he said. A5e 2ill ha9e to 9oice some sort of
protestC it is not appropriate to consent to our country being placed
any2here 2ithout our 4no2ledge and consensus.A
State )epartment o8cials did not respond to a 6uestion see4ing comment
on Slo9enia.
!dministration o8cials ha9e said that at least D0 countries are part of the
anti*ISIS coalition, but the 9ast ma;ority aren't contributing militarily.
In other cases, the United States has boasted about allied commitments of
ground troops to 3ght ISIS, but the o?ers ne9er materialiBed.
A5e ha9e countries in this region, countries outside of this region, in
addition to the United States, all of 2hom are prepared to engage in
military assistance,A Secretary of State 'ohn Eerry told +BS last month. (e
insisted that the United States 2ould not send ground forces but that other
countries Aha9e o?ered to do so.A (o2e9er, none of the !rab coalition
partners, the nations most li4ely to pro9ide ground troops, ha9e yet to ma4e
such commitments in public. <In September, the Times of
Londonreported that 'ordan o?ered to send its 5estern*trained special
forces to combat ISIS in Syria, but the !rab monarchy has yet to con3rm the
$he United States has also struggled to explain its relationship 2ith another
4ey player, Iran. $he ma;ority*Shiite country has a 9ested interest in
eradicating ISIS from the region but 5ashington insists it is not coordinating
directly 2ith $ehran, though some discussions on the topic ha9e clearly
ta4en place.
A5e're not in coordination or direct consultation 2ith the Iranians about any
aspects of the 3ght against ISI",A 5hite (ouse %ational Security !d9isor
Susan #ice said on Meet the Press on Sunday, using another name for the
militant group. 5hen pressed, she noted that A2e'9e had some informal
consultationsA 2ith Iran about regional issues on the sidelines of the
ongoing nuclear negotiations in Fienna, but did not elaborate. Iran's )eputy
>oreign &inister, (ossein !mir !bdollahian, by contrast, said Sunday that
the t2o countries had exchanged messages regarding the 3ght against ISIS.
Outside of Syria, hundreds of Iranian troops ha9e crossed into Ira6 to 3ght
against ISIS forces.
In the case of $ur4ey, the latest incident came after #ice said !n4ara had
;oined Saudi !rabia in agreeing to allo2 its bases for training moderate
Syrian opposition forces and had agreed that Afacilities inside $ur4ey can be
used by the coalition forces, !merican and other2ise, to engage in
acti9ities inside of Ira6 and Syria.A Incirli4 !ir Base, located about @0
4ilometers inland from the &editerranean Sea in southern $ur4ey, is home
to the U.S. !ir >orce's .Gth !ir Base 5ing and about -,@00 !merican
military personnel and is 4ey to protecting %!$O's southern 7an4.
On &onday, $ur4ish >oreign &inister &e9lut +a9usoglu denied there 2as
such an agreement on bases, according to state*run !nadolu !gency.
A$here is no decision at the moment concerning Incirli4 or any other issue,A
the agency 6uoted +a9usoglu as saying in reference to the U.S. air base
located in southern $ur4ey.
AI thin4 the Obama administration is some2hat eager in 2anting to sho2
some progress'' in bee3ng up the anti*ISI" coalition, said Ste9en +oo4, a
senior fello2 for &iddle ,astern studies at the +ouncil on >oreign #elations.
$hat may ha9e led to putting some Aadditional pressure on !n4ara by
saying 2e ha9e an agreement.A
5hile the United States 2ants to use the Incirli4 air base for stri4e missions
against ISIS, $ur4ey may be bal4ing at allo2ing that, +oo4 said. 5ashington
may still get $ur4ey to allo2 the use of the base for sur9eillance missions,
as it has in the past, he said.
$he 5hite (ouse insists that #ice's comments 2eren't contradicted by the
$ur4ish go9ernment's denial of a deal. Bernadette &eehan, a spo4es2oman
for the 5hite (ouse %ational Security +ouncil, said that #ice hadn't named
any bases or outlined 2hat the bases 2ould be used for as those details are
still under discussion.
!lthough #ice didn't name Incirli4, other U.S. o8cials ha9e said access to
that base is critical. )uring his 9isit to +olombia on Oct. -0, )efense
Secretary +huc4 (agel told reporters that the United States 2ould li4e to
get access to Incirli4 as a base from 2hich to launch stri4es against Islamic
militants, according to the !ssociated ress. !s4ed if $ur4ey had agreed to
gi9e the United States access to Incirli4, (agel said only that Abasing rights
2ould be helpfulA and that it 2ill be part of the discussions, the ! reported.
U.S.*$ur4ey relations hit a rough patch more than a decade ago o9er
another military operation to launch attac4s on a neighboring country. Bac4
in /00., $ur4ey declined to allo2 a U.S.*led coalition the use of its territory
for in9ading Saddam (ussein's Ira6.
Unli4e 2ith the Ira6 in9asion in /00., 2hen $ur4ey's parliament 9oted
against supporting the U.S.*led coalition and opposed !merican
in9ol9ement in the region, this time $ur4ey 2ants the United States to get
in9ol9ed but di?ers on the goals, +oo4 said. $ur4ey 2ants the coalition to
focus on remo9ing Syrian resident Bashar al*!ssad, 2hile resident Barac4
Obama 2ants to 4eep the focus on the Islamic State and pre9enting the fall
of Baghdad, +oo4 said.
Obama's en9oys to the nascent anti*ISIS coalition, retired &arine +orps
Gen. 'ohn !llen and )eputy !ssistant Secretary of State Brett &cGur4, ;ust
3nished meeting 2ith o8cials in Ira6, 'ordan, ,gypt, and $ur4ey, and are
slated to tra9el to the Gulf +ooperation +ouncil countries later this month.
$he purpose of the meetings 2as to explain the !merican strategy and
assess the coalition's potential contributions, according to State
)epartment o8cials.
$he Obama administration's criteria about 2hat it ta4es to be considered a
member of the anti*ISIS coalition re6uires little e?ort on the part of coalition
Eerry and (agel ha9e listed 39e lines of e?ort against the terror group:
pro9iding military support to the coalitionC impeding the 7o2 of foreign
3ghtersC stopping the group's 3nancingC addressing the humanitarian crisis
in the regionC and exposing ISIS's Atrue nature.A
Gi9en the limited e?ort it ta4es to release a statement in opposition to the
terror group's ideology, 2hich technically 2ould merit inclusion in the
coalition, it's little 2onder that the United States 2as able to boast a list of
D0 nations. Still, such rosters do little to indicate the depth of commitment
any one nation may be o?ering. Slo9a4ia, for instance, said it 2on't send
soldiers to the e?ort, but that it 2ould contribute H/@,000 to the
International OrganiBation for &igration in northern Ira6 ** not exactly a
game*changing mo9e, but su8cient to merit inclusion on the list.
Posted by Thavam