As I see it, President Barack Obama, his administration and the U.S. military, by turning their backs on the Kurds’ YPG militia in exchange for the U.S. right to use Turkish air force bases, are making a major strategic mistake. The U.S. is choosing to ignore that the fact that Turkey’s top priority is to fight the Kurdish military versus attacking ISIS. Although Turkish officials vehemently deny these allegations, their actions indicate otherwise.
AT THE END OF THIS BLOG, SEE WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT TURKEYS’ DENIALS.
Neil Arun of BBC News describes the current relationship between Turkey and the Kurds in his 8/12/15 article, titled, “Turkey v Islamic State v the Kurds: What’s going on?” The following are some excerpts:
“Turkey has launched a high-risk offensive against the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), while providing the US with an airbase for attacking Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria.”
“A ceasefire with the PKK collapsed last month, after renewed clashes in south-eastern Turkey. In the latest violence, four Turkish police officers and a soldier were killed in Sirnak, part of the Kurdish-majority region.”
“Meanwhile, US F-16 fighter jets have arrived at Turkey’s southern Incirlik airbase to join the fight against IS. US drones have already launched raids on IS from there.”
“Turkey says its war on two fronts will prove decisive. Critics say Turkey’s strategy – complicated by long-standing problems with its large Kurdish minority – is short-sighted and likely to backfire.”
In 2015, after Turkey leaders ended a 2 year cease fire with the Kurds, they are paying a price to the tune of an estimated 55 billion dollars. Their currency has been significantly devalued along with a major decline in tourism.
According to the author, Neil Arun, the two year cease fire between Turkey and the Kurds disintegrated due to the following incident:
“A bomber blew himself up at a gathering of left-wing activists (7/15), killing 32 people (in Surac, a town with many Kurds). The attack was apparently ordered by IS. However, Kurdish protesters also blamed the Turkish government for colluding with IS – a charge it denies.”
“Two days later, PKK rebels killed two Turkish policemen, accusing them of facilitating the Suruc bombing.”
“The PKK – branded a “terrorist” organisation by Turkey and its Western allies – has been fighting for Kurdish self-determination since 1984. A ceasefire was signed in 2013.”
“The Turkish government says it is ready to fight all the enemies of its national interest. But many observers believe it is particularly interested in one enemy(Kurds).”
“Some say Turkey will help the Americans hammer IS, while striking the PKK as a warning – no more. Others say it will go after the Kurds hardest, while doing the bare minimum against IS.”
“Turkish policy is “to pretend that it is waging a war against IS, while at the same time following up on another goal, which is to destroy the PKK,” says Kerem Oktem, a professor at the Centre for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz in Austria.”
“In a BBC interview , PKK leader Cemil Bayik went further, accusing Turkey of attacking the PKK in order to “stop the Kurdish advance against [IS]”. So Turkey, he said, was actually “protecting IS”.
The Turkey leaders such as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu have been vehemently denying any involvement with ISIS and they have protested against this smear campaign by the Kurds and the international press.
A Columbia University Research Paper: “ISIS- Turkey Links,” by David L. Phillips, discredits the Turkey leaders’ denials of their association with ISIS to the detriment of the Kurds. Excerpts are as follows:
“Is Turkey collaborating with the Islamic State (ISIS)? Allegations range from military cooperation and weapons transfers to logistical support, financial assistance, and the provision of medical services. It is also alleged that Turkey turned a blind eye to ISIS attacks against Kobani.”
“Columbia University’s Program on Peace-building and Rights assigned a team of researchers in the United States, Europe, and Turkey to examine Turkish and international media, assessing the credibility of allegations.”
Allegations That Turkey Provides Military Equipment to ISIS
• An ISIS commander told The Washington Post on August 12, 2014: “Most of the fighters who joined us in the beginning of the war came via Turkey, and so did our equipment and supplies.”
• “Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), produced a statement from the Adana Office of the Prosecutor on October 14, 2014 maintaining that Turkey supplied weapons to terror groups. He also produced interview transcripts from truck drivers who delivered weapons to the groups. According to Kilicdaroglu, the Turkish government claims the trucks were for humanitarian aid to the Turkmen, but the Turkmen said no humanitarian aid was delivered.”
• “According to CHP Vice President Bulent Tezcan, three trucks were stopped in Adana for inspection on January 19, 2014. The trucks were loaded with weapons in Esenboga Airport in Ankara. The drivers drove the trucks to the border, where a MIT agent was supposed to take over and drive the trucks to Syria to deliver materials to ISIS and groups in Syria. This happened many times. When the trucks were stopped, MIT agents tried to keep the inspectors from looking inside the crates. The inspectors found rockets, arms, and ammunitions.”
• “Cumhuriyet reports that Fuat Avni, a preeminent Twitter user who reported on the December 17th corruption probe, that audio tapes confirm that Turkey provided financial and military aid to terrorist groups associated with Al Qaeda on October 12, 2014. On the tapes, Erdogan pressured the Turkish Armed Forces to go to war with Syria. Erdogan demanded that Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MIT), come up with a justification for attacking Syria.”
• “Hakan Fidan told Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Yasar Guler, a senior defense official, and Feridun Sinirlioglu, a senior foreign affairs official: “If need be, I’ll send 4 men into Syria. I’ll formulate a reason to go to war by shooting 8 rockets into Turkey; I’ll have them attack the Tomb of Suleiman Shah.”
• “Documents surfaced on September 19th, 2014 showing that the Saudi Emir Bender Bin Sultan financed the transportation of arms to ISIS through Turkey. A flight leaving Germany dropped off arms in the Etimesgut airport in Turkey, which was then split into three containers, two of which were given to ISIS and one to Gaza.”
Turkey Provided Transport and Logistical Assistance to ISIS Fighters
• According to Radical on June 13, 2014, Interior Minister Muammar Guler signed a directive: “According to our regional gains, we will help al-Nusra militants against the branch of PKK terrorist organization, the PYD, within our borders…Hatay is a strategic location for the mujahideen crossing from within our borders to Syria. Logistical support for Islamist groups will be increased, and their training, hospital care, and safe passage will mostly take place in Hatay…MIT and the Religious Affairs Directorate will coordinate the placement of fighters in public accommodations.”
• “The Daily Mail reported on August 25, 2014 that many foreign militants joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq after traveling through Turkey, but Turkey did not try to stop them. This article describes how foreign militants, especially from the UK, go to Syria and Iraq through the Turkish border. They call the border the “Gateway to Jihad.” Turkish army soldiers either turn a blind eye and let them pass, or the jihadists pay the border guards as little as $10 to facilitate their crossing.”
• “Britain’s Sky News obtained documents showing that the Turkish government has stamped passports of foreign militants seeking to cross the Turkey border into Syria to join ISIS.”
• “The BBC interviewed villagers, who claim that buses travel at night, carrying jihadists to fight Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq, not the Syrian Armed Forces.”
• “A senior Egyptian official indicated on October 9, 2014 that Turkish intelligence is passing satellite imagery and other data to ISIS.”
Turkey Provided Training to ISIS Fighters
• “CNN Turk reported on July 29, 2014 that in the heart of Istanbul, places like Duzce and Adapazari, have become gathering spots for terrorists. There are religious orders where ISIS militants are trained. Some of these training videos are posted on the Turkish ISIS propaganda website takvahaber.net. According to CNN Turk, Turkish security forces could have stopped these developments if they had wanted to.”
• “Turks who joined an affiliate of ISIS were recorded at a public gathering in Istanbul, which took place on July 28, 2014.”
• “Kemal Kiliçdaroglu warned the AKP government not to provide money and training to terror groups on October 14, 2014. He said, “It isn’t right for armed groups to be trained on Turkish soil. You bring foreign fighters to Turkey, put money in their pockets, guns in their hands, and you ask them to kill Muslims in Syria. We told them to stop helping ISIS. Ahmet Davutoglu asked us to show proof. Everyone knows that they’re helping ISIS.”
• “According to Jordanian intelligence, Turkey trained ISIS militants for special operations.”
Turkey Offers Medical Care to ISIS Fighters
• “An ISIS commander told the Washington Post on August 12, 2014, “We used to have some fighters — even high-level members of the Islamic State — getting treated in Turkish hospitals.”
• “Taraf (news outlet) reported on October 12, 2014 that Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat, a founder of the AKP, said that Turkey supported terrorist groups and still supports them and treats them in hospitals. “In order to weaken the developments in Rojova (Syrian Kurdistan), the government gave concessions and arms to extreme religious groups…the government was helping the wounded. The Minister of Health said something such as, it’s a human obligation to care for the ISIS wounded.”
• “According to Taraf, Amet El H, one of the top commanders at ISIS and Al Baghdadi’s right hand man, was treated at a hospital in Sanliurfa, Turkey, along with other ISIS militants. The Turkish state paid for their treatment. According to Taraf’s sources, ISIS militants are being treated in hospitals all across southeastern Turkey. More and more militants have been coming in to be treated since the start of airstrikes in August. To be more specific, eight ISIS militants were transported through the Sanliurfa border crossing; these are their names: “Mustafa A., Yusuf El R., Mustafa H., Halil El M., Muhammet El H., Ahmet El S., Hasan H., [and] Salim El D.”
•” Fehim Tasken wrote in Radikal on September 13, 2014 about illegal pipelines transporting oil from Syria to nearby border towns in Turkey. The oil is sold for as little as 1.25 liras per liter. Taksen indicated that many of these illegal pipelines were dismantled after operating for 3 years, once his article was published.”
• “According to Diken and OdaTV, David Cohen, a Justice Department official, says that there are Turkish individuals acting as middlemen to help sell ISIS’s oil through Turkey.”
Turkish Forces Are Fighting Alongside ISIS
“On October 7, 2014, IBDA-C, a militant Islamic organization in Turkey, pledged support to ISIS. A Turkish friend who is a commander in ISIS suggests that Turkey is “involved in all of this” and that “10,000 ISIS members will come to Turkey.” A Huda-Par member at the meeting claims that officials criticize ISIS but in fact sympathize with the group (Huda-Par, the “Free Cause Party”, is a Kurdish Sunni fundamentalist political party). BBP member claims that National Action Party (MHP) officials are close to embracing ISIS. In the meeting, it is asserted that ISIS militants come to Turkey frequently to rest, as though they are taking a break from military service. They claim that Turkey will experience an Islamic revolution, and Turks should be ready for jihad.”
• Seymour Hirsch maintains in the London Review of Books that ISIS conducted sarin attacks in Syria, and that Turkey was informed. “For months there had been acute concern among senior military leaders and the intelligence community about the role in the war of Syria’s neighbors, especially Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Erdogan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups. ‘We knew there were some in the Turkish government,’ a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, ‘who believed they could get Assad’s nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.”
Turkey Helped ISIS in Battle for Kobani
• “Anwar Moslem, Mayor of Kobani, said on September 19, 2014: “Based on the intelligence we got two days before the breakout of the current war, trains full of forces and ammunition, which were passing by north of Kobane, had an-hour-and-ten-to-twenty-minute-long stops in these villages: Salib Qaran, Gire Sor, Moshrefat Ezzo. There are evidences, witnesses, and videos about this. Since these trains stopped in villages located in the east of Kobane, we guess they had brought ammunition and additional force for the ISIS.” In the second article on September 30, 2014, a CHP delegation visited Kobani, where locals claimed that everything from the clothes ISIS militants wear to their guns comes from Turkey.”
• “Released by Nuhaber, a video shows Turkish military convoys carrying tanks and ammunition moving freely under ISIS flags in the Cerablus region and Karkamis border crossing (September 25, 2014). There are writings in Turkish on the trucks.”
• “Salih Muslim, PYD head, claims that 120 militants crossed into Syria from Turkey between October 20th and 24th, 2014.”
• “According to an op-ed written by a YPG commander in The New York Times on October 29, 2014, Turkey allows ISIS militants and their equipment to pass freely over the border.”
• “A Kurdish commander in Kobani that ISIS militants have Turkish entry stamps on their passports.”
• “Kurds trying to join the battle in Kobani are turned away by Turkish police at the Turkey-Syrian border.”
TURKEY SIDES WITH ISIS
•”According to the Hurriyet Daily News on September 26, 2014, “The feelings of the AKP’s heavyweights are not limited to Ankara. I was shocked to hear words of admiration for ISIL from some high-level civil servants even in Şanliurfa. ‘They are like us, fighting against seven great powers in the War of Independence,’ one said.” “Rather than the [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK on the other side, I would rather have ISIL as a neighbor,” said another.”
• “Cengiz Candar, a well-respected Turkish journalist, maintained that MIT helped “midwife” the Islamic state in Iraq and Syria, as well as other Jihadi groups.”
• “A Turkish Social Security Institution supervisor uses the ISIS logo in internal correspondences.”
Inside Syria: Kurds Roll Back ISIS, but Alliances Are Strained http://www.nytimes.com/…/syria-turkey-islamic-state-kurdis…Aug 10, 2015 – The tight coordination of American air power with the militia, known as the Y.P.G., from the Kurdish initials for People’s Protection Units…
Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
Middle East education …. Turkey!! Take a look …
GRAZIE MILLE!! I am so appreciative of your support and for the reblog. On an aside: I just read in the LA Times that we are taking in 10,000 Syrian refugees. I am so upset. We can do so much better!!!
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Agree!! SMH …. where’s humanity? Bet it’ll be a huge issue given the anti-immigrant rhetoric of politics!
Reblog: you are most welcome!
I am learning so very much from this series. Thank you for your very concise and thorough research and writing.
THANKS for saying this. I have often thought that if we in 2003, knew more about this part of the world, we would have been more publicly vocal about being against the Iraq war. I believe we know enough now that when folks start preaching about military action in Iran, we know better.
Many of us were very vocal, we simply got shouted down and called names.
I remember that too! Everyone of any substance who was brave enough to question the neocon thinking, paid a price. The press and most of congress did not do their due diligence. When some act now like they knew this was a mistake, my question is why didn’t they speak up at the time.
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