Syrian Kurds from Kobani wait behind the border fences to cross into Turkey, seen from the Turkish border town of Suruc, June 25, 2015. Murad Sezer
Murad Sezer / Reuters

Last week’s showdown between the Islamic State (also called ISIS) and Turkey, which left one Turkish soldier and one militant dead, has been marked in the West as the first direct Turkish military confrontation with the terrorist organization since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in 2011.

Soon after the attack, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that a subsequent military campaign, Operation Yalcin, which was named in honor of the killed soldier, would be “against all terrorist organizations.” His implication was that it would not be restricted to ISIS but could also target Turkey’s other foe, the PKK, the militant Kurdish pro-separatist organization. Although observers had expected such an escalation for some time, a number of factors played into Erdogan’s decision to go big now. It remains to be seen, though, whether his calculated risk will pay off in the form of greater security, more

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  • JOSHUA W. WALKER is a Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and a former Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of State. ANDREW J. BOWEN is a Senior Fellow and Director of Middle East Studies at the Center for the National Interest.

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