President Barack Obama wants Turkey to close its 60-mile-long border with Syria to end the influx of new Islamic State fighters pouring into Syria and Iraq.
If Turkey acquiesces to Obama’s demands, no entry points will remain between the two countries. The entire border is 550 miles long, The Wall Street Journal reports.
But Turkey quickly pointed out the irony in Washington’s call to close off the border, given that the U.S. is completely unable to stop flows in and out of Mexico.
Tens of thousands of fighters use Turkey as a gateway to ISIS-controlled territory. If the border closes down completely, ISIS will suffer a serious blow in terms of recruitment.
While the U.S. has allowed Turkey to beg off closing the last section of the border because of feasibility concerns, with the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, a whole new wave of pressure is coming from Washington to get the job done.
“The game has changed. Enough is enough. The border needs to be sealed,” an Obama administration official told The Wall Street Journal. “This is an international threat, and it’s all coming out of Syria and it’s coming through Turkish territory.”
Apparently, the Obama administration is convinced that strong borders work, at least in some cases, estimating that about 30,000 troops are needed to block ISIS movements.
Turkish officials confirmed that removing ISIS from the border is a chief concern, but added Turkey doesn’t need patronizing reminders.
“Turkey is determined to clean Daesh from the 98 kilometers of border between Kilis and Jarabulus,” a senior Turkish government official told The Wall Street Journal. “There is no need to receive any kind of warning or advice from anyone, including our U.S. partners.”
The U.S. has offered air support on the Syrian side of the border, but airstrikes slowed down following Russia’s deployment of the S-400 anti-air defense system. U.S. officials maintain there is no relationship between the slowdown in airstrikes and the S-400. Last week, Lt. Gen. Charles Brown Jr. said that although the S-400 deployment complicates U.S. air action in the region, airstrikes will move forward as planned.