Turkey is linked to the entire network of radical Islamist organizations and has the same enemies as the militant group Islamic State (IS / ISIS), said in an article for the “Politico” Behlul Ozkan, expert for international relations and assistant professor of Marmara University in Istanbul.
Appeared at Informer.rs, translated by Mario Andrijasevic exclusively for SouthFront
Turkey, unlike its allies, supports opposition forces in Syria and the occurrence of IS has further complicated the situation. But there are also other jihadist groups in Syria: Al-Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda, then Ahrar al Sham and various other extremist organizations.
Some US officials have criticized Turkey for supporting radical Islamists – Even US Vice President Joe Biden didn’t like the fact because Turks, the Saudis and the Emiratis support “anyone who fights against Assad”, including fighters Al-Nusra Front and other extremists.
Despite these statements, radicals in Syria have regularly received military supplies from Saudi Arabia and Qatar via Turkey, with the full knowledge of the CIA.
At the moment Turkey is at odds with three of ISIL’s rivals – Kurds, Arab Shiites and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
From the very beginning of the “Arab Spring” of 2011 Ankara is doing everything to oust Assad from power.
Kurds from The Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) who have fought for months against ISIS in the areas around the cities Kobane and Haseke belongs to the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party against which the Turks are at war already for 30 years.
In addition, Ankara would be happy when Shiites would not be in power in Iraq and fears the growing influence of Iran in southern Iraq.
Turkey and the IS have the same regional enemies, said Ozkan and adding that the most direct critic of the Turkey´s policy towards IS Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has called the shooting down of the Russian fighter jet as “Stab in the back” was performed by those who help the terrorists.
According to Ozkan, ISIL’s rise goes hand in hand with the failure of the Turkish project to create a “Muslim Brotherhood belt” stretching from Tunisia to Syria under Ankara’s leadership.
In the competition for prestige between the Sunni-majority nations of the Middle East, Turkey has lost ground to Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabi ideology — the most radical proponent of this ideology being ISIL itself.
Ozkan said that it has long been claimed that ISIS used the advantages of porous borders with Iraq and Syria, and the black market that has emerged due to regional conflicts to sell oil to Turkey and other neighboring countries.
Back in 2014 when the American Secretary of State John Kerry had his speech he has called out Turkey and Lebanon as the main destinations for ISIL’s black-market petrol.
Also the OECD report which was titled “Financing of the Terrorist Organization Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant” states that the.. “Following capture of oil fields by ISIL by summer 2014 and the seizures of smuggled oil increased sharply, reaching 20 million liters at the seven Turkish provinces bordering Iraq and Syria.”
Turkish press has also published materials on human trafficking and smuggling on the border of Turkey and the territory under the control of IS.
According to Turkish media, the illegal trade takes place with the tacit consent of local authorities, which ISIS gets with bribery.
Ozkan believes that many Turkish Islamists support IS and it is yet another cause for concern. Official figures put the number of ISIL militants of Turkish origin at approximately 1,300.
Ozkan mentions the example when there was a group gathering in July by the Turkish Islamists who supported IS which took place in the center of Istanbul marking the end of Ramadan and the local police did not interfere.
And while ISIL fighters wounded in battle are said to have received treatment in Turkish hospitals, Turkey´s Minister of health responded, “Our duty is to treat patients, not interrogate them. We have no way of knowing if a wounded person belongs to ISIL.”
Turkey insists that ISIS is a “symptom, not the main problem” and that overthrowing Bashar al-Assad would facilitate the fight against IS.
Ankara´s game plan is not supported by any regional or global power that is in any way connected with this conflict, including Russia and the United States.
These countries, according to Ozkan, are thinking primarily about how to eliminate IS, not Assad. So, Ankara has no choice but to go along with this strategy, even if they will have to pay a heavy price.
Turkey is undoubtedly thinking about how to untangle itself from the relationship with IS, concluded Ozkan.