The specter of the ISIL threat and Syria’s civil war hung over the Turkish seaside city of Antalya as Obama and other leaders descended for the Group of 20 summit of leading rich and developing nations. Although the overlapping crises were already on the lineup for the two days of talks, they were thrust to the forefront by the elaborately coordinated attacks that killed more than 130 people in the French capital just two days earlier, in the most destructive attack in the West blamed on the group.
French President François Hollande withdrew from the summit to stay in Paris and deal with the aftermath of the attacks that have shaken his nation.
World leaders gathering for the G-20 are looking to answer a critical question: Beyond tough talk, how will the world respond to bloodshed now extending far beyond ISIL’s foothold in the Middle East? Leaders in Europe, the U.S. and beyond have pledged to step up the response, with Hollande vowing a “merciless” war on ISIL.
Yet despite plenty of tough talk, there were few signs of an emerging consensus about exactly what that means. Asked by reporters at the start of the meetings whether he would consider additional action against ISIL following the Paris attacks, Obama declined to tip his hand.
Obama's nine-day trip to Turkey, the Philippines and Malaysia has already been largely overshadowed by Friday's attacks in Paris and the related issues of Syria's civil war and the resulting migrant crisis. Obama said the U.S. stands with Turkey and Europe in the effort to reduce the flow of migrants, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan predicted a “strong message” on fighting terrorism would result from the summit.
“We are confronted with a collective terrorism activity around the world. As you know, terrorism does not recognize any religion, any race, any nation, or any country,” Erdogan said.
ISIL also claimed responsibility for a bombing in Beirut that killed at least 43 people on Thursday. Turkish authorities blame ISIL for two bomb attacks in October that appeared to target a peace rally by leftist and Kurdish activists in Turkey's capital, Ankara, the nation's deadliest attacks in years.
Al Jazeera and wire services