Turkey and the Russian Threat

The Turkish military is concerned about Russian forces in Syria, but there may be a political solution to the issue, a Turkish general said on Sept. 28. “We have some concerns about it for the military aspect,” said Lt. Gen. Salih Ulusoy, J-5 on the Turkish General Staff, speaking at the American Turkish Council’s 34th Annual Conference on US-Turkey relations. “It’s [a] big danger for us,” potentially leading to Turkey “being dangerously flanked by Russia on two fronts,” he said. Ulusoy was joined on a panel by James Townsend, deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO policy. Townsend said rumors that the US-Turkey military relationship is in trouble are “not true,” pointing to Incirlik Air Base, which he noted was a key location in the Cold War, the “epicenter for Operation Northern Watch—our joint effort to police the skies over Iraq in the late 1990s,”—and is now a “critical node in our joint fight against Daesh [another term for ISIS].” Townsend said he was particularly impressed with how quickly the US and Turkish militaries moved to make and implement plans for flights over Syria after the two countries’ p?residents spoke.