If the United States had a hard time figuring out its political allegiances and enmities in the build-up to the strike against the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL), Turkey is positively struggling. For now, it is content with protecting its borders and not having to do any serious thinking. It seems increasingly likely that no one will step up to do the hard work needed to drive out ISIL from Iraq.

Let’s look at Turkey’s importance in the region: it shares a combined 1,200 km border with both Iraq and Syria. This long, hard to patrol border is one of the main sources of European recruits joining the Syrian warfront; a serious problem to address. With a relatively strong military presence and the availability of its northern bases, Turkey is indispensable, a fact the United States is aware of. With large numbers of Syrian and Kurdish refugees flooding its territory and the black flags of ISIL being spotted amongst the artillery barrage at Kobane, a Turkish border village, Mr Edrogan is being put under pressure to articulate his ISIL policy. He is expected to submit authorization requests to the parliament, asking for permission to deploy Turkish troops outside the country’s borders if he feels it is necessary.

But will he? Turkey picked sides in the Syrian civil war; destroying ISIL, as vile as they are, will strengthen the Assad regime. Then there is the persistent Kurdish question. The Kurds have gained significant amounts of autonomy in the aftermath of the Iraqi and Syrian collapse. With the word “Kurdistan” having entered mainstream international political discourse and the Kurds having emerged as a key partner in this war, further legitimising the Kurdish state by operating along them will not be a pleasant prospect. Finally, while the US will bomb the militants with impunity from the skies, it will be Turkey, along with other local coalition partners, who will have to bear the brunt of ISIL retaliatory strikes; being a pro-active member will invite greater threats.

It seems unlikely that Turkey will take part in a major ground offensive unless seriously motivated to do so. And what kind of incentives would it take? A stronger Western stance on Assad, perhaps? Guarantees on the Kurdish question? Entry into the EU? We can only speculate. In the midst of serious incoherency, the war against ISIL will run into a brick wall even before it has begun.