Turkey’s troubling ISIS game

Roger Cohen writes: Above a restaurant specializing in sheep’s head soup, with steaming tureens of broth in the window, two young Syrian journalists took up residence in this ancient town in southeastern Turkey. They had fled Raqqa, the stronghold in Syria of the Islamic State, or ISIS, and devoted their time to denouncing the crimes of the barbarous jihadi group. Today, their second-floor apartment is a crime scene, with a red police seal on the door.

On Oct. 30, the Islamic State beheaded Ibrahim Abdel Qader, age 22, and slit the throat of 20-year-old Fares Hammadi. They later posted a video of their handiwork, saying enemies “will never be safe from the blade of the Islamic State.” The killers have not been found; a new unease inhabits this bustling town about 30 miles from the Syrian border. “It was shocking to have a first beheading in Turkey,” Omer Yilmaz, the owner of the restaurant, told me. “We are used to bullets, but that, no. To slaughter a human like an animal is unthinkable.”

The unthinkable is becoming conceivable in a combustible Turkey. Syrian violence has seeped over the border. The Islamic State is now entangled in the age-old conflict of Turks and Kurds. During several days near the Syrian border, often in areas with Kurdish majorities, I found simmering anger among Kurds and predictions of worsening bloodshed. [Continue reading…]

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