Turkey is the big Muslim power that sits atop raging conflicts in Iraq and Syria, so it might be expected to take a leading role in the NATO coalition announced this month to take on the Islamic State group.Only to its own regime, not Syria's. We shouldn't be surprised if Turkey would want to take over Syria! Indeed, that's a vision doubtlessly shared by opposing Muslim factions, to take over the other's territory.
Instead it has told allies that it will stay quietly behind the scenes, keeping its soldiers out of combat operations and even declining to allow NATO to use its bases or territories to launch air attacks.
The reticence has roots in two dilemmas: the Islamic State group holds dozens of Turkish hostages, including diplomats, and Turkey is wary of boosting its rebellious Kurdish minority in the battle against Islamic State group enemies in Iraq.
Turkey's position is complicated by its eagerness to uproot the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad, which led to tolerance of anti-Assad Islamist fighters taking refuge on its side of the Syrian border — and may have given the Islamic State group some breathing room in Turkey. More recently, it has been forced to confront the threat that the group posed.
The only reason why Turkey is getting involved here is obviously because of the hostages taken from their side. It has nothing to do with any British or American hostages who've been taken by ISIS. Regardless of that, Turkey shouldn't be trusted to be of any help to NATO, and their involvement here could be very dangerous.