BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN
Turkey has not only refused to join its NATO allies in fighting against ISIS, but has trained, armed and facilitated the infiltration of thousands of terrorists into Syria and Iraq.
The British Guardian reported that, in May when U.S. Special Forces raided the compound of ISIS leader Abu Sayyaf in Eastern Syria and killed him, documents seized during the raid revealed Ankara’s close collaboration with ISIS. Hundreds of articles have been published around the world describing various aspects of Turkish assistance to ISIS. Daniel Pipes in his Washington Times article, “Turkish Support for ISIS,” reported that “Turks offered far more than an easy border crossing: they provided the bulk of ISIS’ funds, logistics, training, and arms.” Pipes also revealed that wounded ISIS fighters are treated in Turkish hospitals, and Turkey has paid $800 million to ISIS for illicit oil shipments.
Vice President Joe Biden confirmed Turkey’s sinister role in helping Islamist terrorists at a Harvard University speech last October: Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates “poured hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad — except that the people who were being supplied were all Nusra and al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.” The Vice President also revealed that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had told him privately: “You were right. We let too many people through.” Biden later apologized for his public remarks to soothe Erdogan’s wrath.
In an astounding revelation, Mitchell Prothero of McClatchyDC.com reported on August 24 that Turkish intelligence had alerted Islamist terrorists that a group of U.S.-trained fighters was about to cross from Turkey into Syria. Upon arrival, many of the 54 graduates of the $500 million U.S. training program were promptly intercepted and kidnapped by al-Qaida’s Nusra Front!
Last month, when Turkey finally agreed to join the war against terror and ‘allowed’ the United States to launch airstrikes on ISIS targets from Incirlik Air Base, U.S. officials’ initial delight turned into dismay when they realized that the Turkish military’s priority was attacking the Kurds in Iraq and Syria, not ISIS. By going after Kurdish militants, Turkey was in fact helping ISIS because the Kurds were the only reliable U.S. military partners on the ground.
Beyond wishing to undermine long-held Kurdish aspirations for an independent Kurdistan, by unleashing large scale bloody attacks against Kurds in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, Erdogan is hoping that on November 1 Turkish voters would help his party regain the parliamentary majority it lost in the June elections. Unfortunately for Erdogan, the attacks on Kurds have created a widespread backlash among many Turkish citizens who lost their loved ones serving in the military, simply to boost the President’s political rating!
In desperation, Erdogan may well resort to one more trick in the coming weeks. Seeing that bombing Kurds is not generating the expected public support in the upcoming elections, he could order massive attacks on Kurds throughout Eastern Turkey. He would then use the excuse of an all-out civil war to declare a state of emergency, suspend Parliament, and rule with the iron fist of a theocratic Ottoman Sultan!
The United States and its NATO allies have an obligation to do everything possible to stop the monster they have created before he destroys everything on his path. Erdogan is a serious menace to his own citizens — Turks, Kurds, and others — as well as a destabilizing force to the entire region! The vicious attacks on the Kurdish population in Eastern Turkey makes the best case why Kurds deserve independent statehood and can no longer tolerate the brutal Turkish regime!
The Obama administration should follow the wise counsel of Eric S. Edelman, former U.S. ambassador to Turkey and under secretary of defense from 2005 to 2009. In a commentary published in The New York Times on August 27, Edelman suggests that the United States “restrict Turkey’s access to senior-level meetings; reduce intelligence cooperation; and withhold American support for Turkey in international financial institutions.” These steps and many others must be taken in the next few weeks before November’s parliamentary elections.
In an August 31 editorial, The New York Times Editorial Board described Erdogan’s political shenanigans as an attempt to “salvage his ambitions for continued authoritarian rule and greatly expanded powers.”
To bring the problem of terrorism in Syria and Iraq under control, restore stability in these countries, and stop the escalating bloodshed inside Turkey, the Turkish people must ensure that Erdogan’s party does not regain its lost parliamentary majority!