CNN speaks with Fareed Zakaria about the vote in the British parliament, by 524 votes to 43, to authorize airstrikes in Iraq against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
I think many people might have actually thought Britain was already on board for airstrikes in Iraq. We're not talking about Syria. We're talking about Iraq. The significance of this?
It’s very significant, particularly the size of the vote. Britain has been with the United States in almost every military struggle it's had really for decades and decades. But militarily, it's not as significant as you might think.
The crucial issue is the fight between the Syrian Kurds and ISIS that is now taking place very close to the Turkish border. The crucial question becomes, will Turkey get involved? Because if Turkey gets involved, you have a very large country with a very serious army with lots of ground troops that could take on the battle with ISIS.
So far, they’ve been unwilling to do it, for two reasons. One, they're very close to the border, and they worry about ISIS retaliating. But most importantly, there were 49 Turkish hostages that ISIS had. They have been released, and Prime Minister Erdogan said at a meeting that I was at last week that there was no political deal made with ISIS.
It was basically a swap. It was a prisoner swap. So the Turks didn’t promise ISIS that they would not attack them. If Turkey gets more involved, that will be much more significant than Britain. I'm sorry to say that, but it's the new world we live in. Turkey is the power on the ground. It has tens of thousands of incredibly well-trained troops.
Would Turkish soldiers go over that border into Syria, into Iraq and fight ISIS?
Here's what I'm thinking. If you end up coordinating with Turkey, you begin with airpower, which would be American, but also Turkish. The Turks have a very good air force. And then you have hot pursuit, which the Turkish army could do. They wouldn't stay in Syrian territory, but they'd go in and then withdraw.
It could be far more effective than anything we've talked about yet. Because until now, our big hole has been the lack of competent ground forces. The Iraqis aren’t that good. The Peshmerga, the Kurdish forces, are good but small. This is a serious army from a serious NATO country.
Do you think that will happen?
I think there's a chance. Erdogan hinted in this meeting that Turkey was going to change its strategy now that it had its hostages back.