NATO is harbouring the Islamic State

1-uPGE-GLlKmVVEvfyKjqzHwWhy France’s brave new war on ISIS is a sick joke, and an insult to the victims of the Paris attacks

INSURGE INTELLIGENCEby Nafeez Ahmed, Nov. 19, 2015:

“We stand alongside Turkey in its efforts in protecting its national security and fighting against terrorism. France and Turkey are on the same side within the framework of the international coalition against the terrorist group ISIS.”

Statement by French Foreign Ministry, July 2015

The 13th November Paris massacre will be remembered, like 9/11, as a defining moment in world history.

The murder of 129 people, the injury of 352 more, by ‘Islamic State’ (ISIS) acolytes striking multiple targets simultaneously in the heart of Europe, mark a major sea-change in the terror threat.

For the first time, a Mumbai-style attack has occurred on Western soil — the worst attack on Europe in decades. As such, it has triggered a seemingly commensurate response from France: the declaration of a nationwide state of emergency, the likes of which have not been seen since the 1961 Algerian war.

ISIS has followed up with threats to attack Washington and New York City.

Meanwhile, President Hollande wants European Union leaders to suspend the Schengen Agreement on open borders to allow dramatic restrictions on freedom of movement across Europe. He also demands the EU-wide adoption of the Passenger Name Records (PNR) system allowing intelligence services to meticulously track the travel patterns of Europeans, along with an extension of the state of emergency to at least three months.

Under the extension, French police can now block any website, put people under house arrest without trial, search homes without a warrant, and prevent suspects from meeting others deemed a threat.

“We know that more attacks are being prepared, not just against France but also against other European countries,” said the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. “We are going to live with this terrorist threat for a long time.”

Hollande plans to strengthen the powers of police and security services under new anti-terror legislation, and to pursue amendments to the constitution that would permanently enshrine the state of emergency into French politics. “We need an appropriate tool we can use without having to resort to the state of emergency,” he explained.

Parallel with martial law at home, Hollande was quick to accelerate military action abroad, launching 30 airstrikes on over a dozen Islamic State targets in its de facto capital, Raqqa.

France’s defiant promise, according to Hollande, is to “destroy” ISIS.

The ripple effect from the attacks in terms of the impact on Western societies is likely to be permanent. In much the same way that 9/11 saw the birth of a new era of perpetual war in the Muslim world, the 13/11 Paris attacks are already giving rise to a brave new phase in that perpetual war: a new age of Constant Vigilance, in which citizens are vital accessories to the police state, enacted in the name of defending a democracy eroded by the very act of defending it through Constant Vigilance.

Mass surveillance at home and endless military projection abroad are the twin sides of the same coin of national security, which must simply be maximized as much as possible.

“France is at war,” Hollande told French parliament at the Palace of Versailles.

“We’re not engaged in a war of civilizations, because these assassins do not represent any. We are in a war against jihadist terrorism which is threatening the whole world.”

The friend of our enemy is our friend

Conspicuously missing from President Hollande’s decisive declaration of war, however, was any mention of the biggest elephant in the room: state-sponsorship.

Syrian passports discovered near the bodies of two of the suspected Paris attackers, according to police sources, were fake, and likely forged in Turkey.

Earlier this year, the Turkish daily Meydan reported citing an Uighur source that more than 100,000 fake Turkish passports had been given to ISIS. The figure, according to the US Army’s Foreign Studies Military Office (FSMO), is likely exaggerated, but corroborated “by Uighurs captured with Turkish passports in Thailand and Malaysia.”

Further corroboration came from a Sky News Arabia report by correspondent Stuart Ramsey, which revealed that the Turkish government was certifying passports of foreign militants crossing the Turkey-Syria border to join ISIS. The passports, obtained from Kurdish fighters, had the official exit stamp of Turkish border control, indicating the ISIS militants had entered Syria with full knowledge of Turkish authorities.

The dilemma facing the Erdogan administration is summed up by the FSMO: “If the country cracks down on illegal passports and militants transiting the country, the militants may target Turkey for attack. However, if Turkey allows the current course to continue, its diplomatic relations with other countries and internal political situation will sour.”

This barely scratches the surface. A senior Western official familiar with a large cache of intelligence obtained this summer from a major raid on an ISIS safehouse told the Guardian that “direct dealings between Turkish officials and ranking ISIS members was now ‘undeniable.’”

The same official confirmed that Turkey, a longstanding member of NATO, is not just supporting ISIS, but also other jihadist groups, including Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. “The distinctions they draw [with other opposition groups] are thin indeed,” said the official. “There is no doubt at all that they militarily cooperate with both.”

In a rare insight into this brazen state-sponsorship of ISIS, a year agoNewsweek reported the testimony of a former ISIS communications technician, who had travelled to Syria to fight the regime of Bashir al-Assad.

The former ISIS fighter told Newsweek that Turkey was allowing ISIS trucks from Raqqa to cross the “border, through Turkey and then back across the border to attack Syrian Kurds in the city of Serekaniye in northern Syria in February.” ISIS militants would freely travel “through Turkey in a convoy of trucks,” and stop “at safehouses along the way.”

The former ISIS communication technician also admitted that he would routinely “connect ISIS field captains and commanders from Syria with people in Turkey on innumerable occasions,” adding that “the people they talked to were Turkish officials… ISIS commanders told us to fear nothing at all because there was full cooperation with the Turks.”

In January, authenticated official documents of the Turkish military were leaked online, showing that Turkey’s intelligence services had been caught in Adana by military officers transporting missiles, mortars and anti-aircraft ammunition via truck “to the al-Qaeda terror organisation” in Syria.

According to other ISIS suspects facing trial in Turkey, the Turkish national military intelligence organization (MIT) had begun smuggling arms, including NATO weapons to jihadist groups in Syria as early as 2011.

The allegations have been corroborated by a prosecutor and court testimony of Turkish military police officers, who confirmed that Turkish intelligence was delivering arms to Syrian jihadists from 2013 to 2014.

Documents leaked in September 2014 showed that Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan had financed weapons shipments to ISIS through Turkey. A clandestine plane from Germany delivered arms in the Etimesgut airport in Turkey and split into three containers, two of which were dispatched to ISIS.

A report by the Turkish Statistics Institute confirmed that the government had provided at least $1 million in arms to Syrian rebels within that period, contradicting official denials. Weapons included grenades, heavy artillery, anti-aircraft guns, firearms, ammunition, hunting rifles and other weapons — but the Institute declined to identify the specific groups receiving the shipments.

Information of that nature emerged separately. Just two months ago, Turkish police raided a news outlet that published revelations on how the local customs director had approved weapons shipments from Turkey to ISIS.

Turkey has also played a key role in facilitating the life-blood of ISIS’ expansion: black market oil sales. Senior political and intelligence sources in Turkey and Iraq confirm that Turkish authorities have actively facilitated ISIS oil sales through the country.

Last summer, Mehmet Ali Ediboglu, an MP from the main opposition, the Republican People’s Party, estimated the quantity of ISIS oil sales in Turkey at about $800 million — that was over a year ago.

By now, this implies that Turkey has facilitated over $1 billion worth of black market ISIS oil sales to date.

Read more

Also see:

WATCH: Turkish Football Fans Boo And Cry ‘Allahu Akbar’ During Silence For Paris Victims

Burak Kara/Getty

Burak Kara/Getty

Breitbart, by LIAM DEACON,  Nov. 18, 2015:

Turkish football fans booed and shouted “Allahu Akbar” during a minute’s silence for the victims of the Paris terror attacks, during which 132 people died at the hands of Islamist Jihadists.

The silence was held before a friendly game between the Turkish national team and Greece on Tuesday night in Istanbul. There are long standing historical tensions between the two rival nations, and it was the first time the two teams had met for eight years.

Fans in the 17,000 strong sell-out crowd began jeering and shouting as soon the collective gesture of respect and morning for the victims and refection on the horrors that befell France began.

As well as “Allahu Akbar” — Arabic for “god is great” — spectators also chanted, “the martyrs are immortal, the fatherland indivisible”, a popular slogan used by nationalists against the Kurdish, but also one which appears to imply sympathy for the dead ISIS terrorists and suicide bombers.

Speaking after the game, the Turkish manager Fatih Terim suggested that fans at the Basaksehir Fatih Terim Stadium should have been more respectful.

“Our fans should have behaved during the national anthems and during the one minute silence,” he said, adding: “Greece is our neighbour. Today is world neighbours day, but our fans didn’t behave like neighbours in this match.”

The Turkish Football Federation had announced a string of additional security measures before the match following the attack on France’s Stade de France on Friday and last night’s cancellation of the Germany Netherlands game because of a bomb scare.

Britain’s left wing Newspaper the Independent attempted to argue that, “the boos were not to disrespect those who had died in the attacks – but more to do with the hypocrisy of the Western world.”

In October, European leaders led by Germany’s Chancellor Merkel promised that in return for Turkey absorbing more Syrian migrants for long-term settlement, the EU will fast-track “visa liberalisation” for Turks, granting Schengen-style free movement in the EU for all 75 million Turkish residents.

Terrorist Groups Praise Erdogan on Turkish Election Win

Turkey's Islamist President Erdogan (left) with Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh in the Turkish parliament. (Photo: © Reuters)

Turkey’s Islamist President Erdogan (left) with Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh in the Turkish parliament. (Photo: © Reuters)

Clarion Project, Nov. 2, 2015:

Leading terrorist organizations were among the first to congratulate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist AK party after their surprising sweep in the November 1 election.

Hamas issued congratulations to the “Turkish people and their leadership on the success of the Turkish parliamentary elections,” according to the Palestinian Information Center, a Hamas-affiliated website,

In a press statement, Hamas categorized the Turkish elections as a victory for democracy and a “reflection of the state of stability and civilization in the capital of the Islamic caliphate.”

Turkey is reported to be the top financial sponsor of Hamas since 2012, with Erdogan arranging for the transfer of between $250-300 million anually to the terrorist organization. Turkey is also said to have trained Hamas security forces in Gaza through non-governmental groups.

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood also hailed Turkey’s Islamist party’s victory, offering its “sincere congratulations.” Ironically, amid much documentation of voter fraud, the Brotherhood stated, “The election results and the impressive turnout, which exceeded 87%, show how the state’s strengths can be bolstered with the people’s free will and free choice when they are not subject to despotic and repressive military rule.”

Erdogan’s Islamist government was openly dismayed at the popularly-supported military intervention that toppled the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. According to the Arab newspaper Al-Arabiya, Turkey has since “become the regional hub for the Muslim Brotherhood’s international organization.”

The Islamic Front, an umbrella group funded by Saudi Arabia comprising Islamist jihadi rebels fighting Assad, also sent a letter of congratulations to Erdogan, stating, “The Turkish government and the Turkish people have played a major role in embracing the Syrians and supporting the revolution and have stood by them in the time of their trouble.

“Turkey withstood a lot of internal and external pressure to back off from this unique position but it continued to implement this moral policy. We hope to have good relations – like brothers – between the people of Syria and Turley in the future after Assad and his regime will fall.”

Eight groups signed the Islamic Front’s letter including the Salafist movement Ahrar ash-Sham al Islamiya, the Damascus-based Jaysh al-Islam (the Army of Islam), Filaq al Rahman and Ansar al-Sham.

The well wishes came amid serious accusations of voter fraud which saw the AK party regain its majority in the parliament, taking the country back to single-party rule.

Yesterday’s elections followed a June vote that resulted in a hung parliament. In that election, the AK party, which had garnered only 41 percent of the vote, was not able to form a coalition in order to govern.

Meanwhile, according to the Emirates News Agency, Erdoğan issued words of support for Islamic State (ISIS) jihadis who claimed to have shot down a Russian passenger plane in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people aboard.

“How can I condemn the Islamic State for shooting down a Russian plane as its passengers were returning from a happy vacation in a time when our co-religionists in Syria are bombed by Putin’s fighter jets?” Erogan is quoted as saying. “It is the natural outcome of Moscow’s actions in Syria and the support for Assad.”


Also see:

Turkish elections have potential to alter the balance of power in the Middle East


Center for Security Policy, by John Cordero, Oct. 28, 2015:

Turks head to the polls once again this upcoming Sunday to determine the composition of their parliament. At stake is the direction Turkey will take both internally and externally, with the main domestic concern being unemployment and the principal foreign policy issue being the Syrian civil war.

This election comes after Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) failed to secure a majority for the first time in 14 years, and was unable form a coalition government after the original June 7 elections.

Turkey’s Parliament consists of 550 seats, a minimum of 276 of which are necessary for a party to form a government. In the June elections, AKP failed to secure a majority, with only 258. The People’s Democratic Party (HDP), affiliated with Turkey’s Kurdish community, saw their representation increase to 80 MPs from the previous 40, when they fielded individual candidates, thanks in part to picking up anti-AKP protest votes. None of the AKP’s rivals would consent to a coalition government, hence the need for the upcoming elections.

The AKP’s drop in political support has stemmed largely from the authoritarian behavior of former Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Under Erdoğan, the AKP has successfully transformed Turkey from a secular NATO ally to an increasingly Islamist government which is openly aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood, supports Hamas, and has been credibly accused of supporting al Qaeda in Syria and the Islamic State. The AKP has also demanded amending the Turkish constitution to enable additional powers for the President (currently Erdoğan, who was Prime Minister since the AKP achieved Parliamentary majority in 2002).

While the AKP continues to enjoy substantial support, its base has been eroded by corruption scandals and the Syrian war, which has proved disastrous for Turkish foreign policy. Erdoğan’s inaction during the Islamic State siege of the Syrian border town of Kobani, during which the Kurdish YPG militia prevailed even after Ankara ignored their requests for assistance, drove many religious Turkish Kurds to support the HDP.

After first courting them via peace talks with the PKK and religious rhetoric, his self-defeatist policy of focusing on Kurds as a threat to national security at the expense of the Islamic State and the other jihadist factions in Syria directly led to the AKP losing their parliamentary majority in June and to the PKK picking up their weapons after a two-year cease-fire and the collapse of peace talks.

This Sunday’s elections represent a bet by Erdoğan that the Turkish people will prefer a restoration of the old order and hand AKP a majority in parliament. John Hannah writes that “the terrorist threat from the PKK will re-emerge, putting at risk civil order, national security, and even Turkey’s territorial integrity. Indeed, Erdoğan has more or less explicitly said that all of these dangers would have been avoided if only the Turkish public had chosen more wisely in the elections.” Rising unemployment, depreciation of the lira, and widespread protests are held up by the President as evidence of what happens when the AKP does not have its majority.

If the AKP once again fails to clear the majority threshold, a prospect that seems very likely, expect Turkey to continue its factionalism along ideological lines: the Islamists, the secular Kemalists, the Kurds, and the Conservatives. The seculars are ideologically opposed to the AKP’s platform, while the Kurds feel betrayed and used for political points by Erdoğan.

The AKP’s only hope to form a coalition government may lie with the conservative Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which opposes peace talks with the PKK. Instead of calling for yet another election, Erdoğan may have to swallow his pride and enter into a coalition, which may at least temporarily check his neo-Ottoman revival project.

Also see:

Erdoğan Leads Turkey to the Precipice

by Daniel Pipes
October 17, 2015

[N.B.: The Australian‘s title is “Would-be dictator Erdogan leading Turkey to the precipice” and its version uses Australian spelling]

The Republic of Turkey is undergoing possibly its greatest crisis since the founding of the state nearly a century ago. Present trends suggest worse to come as a long-time Western ally evolves into a hostile dictatorship.

The crisis results primarily from the ambitions of one very capable and sinister individual, Turkey’s 61-year old president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. A career politician who previously served four years as the mayor of Turkey’s megacity, Istanbul, and then eleven years as the country’s prime minister, he forwards two goals hitherto unknown in the republic: dictatorship and full application of the Shari’a, Islam’s law code.

During his first eight years of power, 2003-11, Erdoğan ruled with such finesse that one could only suspect these two aspirations; proof remained elusive. This author, for example, wrote an article in 2005 that weighed the contradictory evidence for and against Erdoğan being an Islamist. A combination of playing by the rules, caution in the Islamic arena, and economic success won Erdoğan’s party, Justice and Development (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, or AKP), increasing percentages of the vote in parliamentary elections, going from 34 percent in 2002, to 46 percent in 2007, to 50 percent in 2011.

That 2011 election victory, his third in succession, gave Erdoğan the confidence finally to remove the armed forces from politics, where they had long served as Turkey’s ultimate power broker. Ironically, this change ended the increasing democratization of prior decades for his fully taking charge allowed Erdoğan to develop an oversized ego, to bare his fangs, flex his despotic muscles, and openly seek his twin objectives of tyranny and Shari’a.

Indeed, Erdoğan made his power felt in every domain after 2011. Banks provided loans to the businessmen who kicked back funds to the AKP. Hostile media found themselves subject to vast fines or physical assault. Ordinary citizens who criticized the leader found themselves facing lawsuits, fines, and jail. Politicians in competing parties faced dirty tricks. Like a latter-day sultan, Erdoğan openly flouted the law and intervened at will when and where he wished, inserting himself into legal proceedings, meddling in local decisions, and interfering with police investigations. For example, he responded to compelling raw evidence of his own and his family’s corruption by simply closing down the inquiry.


The Islamic order also took shape. School instruction became more Islamic even as Islamic schools proliferated, with the number of students in the latter jumping from 60,000 to 1,600,000, a 27-fold increase. Erdoğan instructed women to stay home and breed, demanding three children apiece from them. Burqas proliferated and hijabs became legal headgear in government buildings. Alcohol became harder to find and higher priced. More broadly, Erdoğan harked back to the piety of the Ottoman Empire (1299-1922), eroded the secular republic founded in 1923 by Kemal Atatürk, and positioned himself as the anti-Atatürk.

Erdoğan also faced some serious problems after 2011. The China-like economic growth slowed down and debt spiraled upwards. A disastrously inept Syria policy contributed to the rise of the Islamic State, the emergence of a hostile Kurdish autonomous area, and millions of unwelcome refugees flooding into Turkey. Foreign relations soured with nearly the entire neighborhood: Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus, Jerusalem, Cairo, Athens, the (Greek) Republic of Cyprus, and even (Turkish) northern Cyprus. Ties also went south with Washington, Moscow, and Beijing. Good relations were limited to Doha, Kuala Lumpur, and – until recently, as shown by the many indications of Turkish state support for the Islamic State – Raqqa.

Erdoğan has pugnaciously responded to this predicament by stating, “I do not mind isolation in the world” and even to suggest that other leaders were “jealous” of him. But he fools no one. The old AKP slogan of “Zero problems with neighbors” has dangerously turned into “Only problems with neighbors.”

If Erdoğan’s base loves his strongman qualities and stands by him, his aggressive actions and policy failures cost him support, as major blocs of voters rejected him, especially Kurds (an ethnic minority), Alevis (a religious community spun off from Islam), and seculars. The AKP’s vote dropped accordingly from 50 percent in 2011 to 41 percent in the June 2015 elections, a reduction that meant its losing a long-standing majority in parliament and the numbers to govern on its own.

The poor showing in June 2015 blocked Erdoğan from legitimately gaining his dream powers as executive president. But being the politician who stated long ago, when mayor of Istanbul, that democracy is like a trolley, “You ride it until you arrive at your destination, then you step off,” he predictably did not let something as petty as election results get in his way. Instead, he immediately began scheming to get around them.

He opted for a pair of tactics: First, he rejected power sharing with other parties and called another election for Nov. 1; in effect, he offered Turks another chance to vote as he wanted them to. Second, after years of negotiating with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê‎, or PKK), Turkey’s leading Kurdish violent insurgent group, he renewed war on it. In doing so, he hoped to win over supporters of the anti-Kurd ethnic Turkish nationalist party, Nationalist Action (Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi, or MHP).

These tactics appear to be futile; polls show the AKP losing as many Kurds as it gains Turkish nationalists, and so likely to fare in November about the same as it did in June. But the tactics are highly consequential, tearing apart the body politic, creating tensions and prompting violence. The current round began in July with the bombing of peace marchers leaving 33 dead, followed by PKK retaliation against representatives of the state, a Kurdish town placed under siege, and twin bombings in the capital Ankara (widely considered ultimately attributable to Erdoğan) which killed 105 peaceful protestors. And yet two weeks remain before voting day …

Polls of Turkish voters since the June 7, 2015 elections.

In other words, Erdoğan’s obsession to win a parliamentary majority is doing fundamental damage to the country, damage that takes it to the precipice of civil war.

What makes the situation slightly absurd is that, whatever the results of the Nov. 1 election, Erdoğan will doggedly continue his campaign to become dictator. If he cannot do so legitimately, he will do so illegitimately. Repeating what I wrote just before the June election, “how many seats the AKP wins hardly matters. Erdoğan will barrel, bulldoze, and steamroll his way ahead, ignoring traditional and legal niceties with or without changes to the constitution. Sure, having fully legitimate powers would add a pretty bauble to his résumé, but he’s already the tyrant and Turkey’s course is set.”

Assuming the AKP does not win the votes necessary to make Erdoğan a legal strongman, how might he manage this illegally? The past year, since he became president, offers a hint: Erdoğan has bleached the once-powerful prime minister’s office of its authority. In all likelihood, he will extend this process to the rest of the Turkish government by setting up an alternative bureaucracy in his huge, new presidential palace, with operatives there controlling the ministries of state. An apparently unchanged formalistic structure will take orders from the palace autocrats.

Likewise, the parliament will remain untouched in appearance but voided of true decision making. Civil society will also find itself under palatial control as, exploiting his financial and legal levers, Erdoğan shuts down publicly dissenting voices in the judiciary, the media, the academy, and the arts. In all likelihood, private dissent will next be proscribed, leaving Padishah Recep I master of all he surveys.

What will he do with this authority? In part, he will exult in it, in the unbridled range of his ego and his writ. Beyond that, he will use this might to advance his Islamist agenda by harking back to the Ottoman imperial legacy, further undoing the Atatürk revolution, and imposing Sunni Islamic laws and customs. Just as autocracy came to Turkey in tranches, so will Shari’a be implemented piecemeal over time. The processes already underway – Islamic content in schools, women urged to stay home, alcohol disappearing – will continue and accelerate.

Assuming that Erdoğan’s mystery diseases stay under control, this Islamist idyll contains just one flaw: foreign relations, the most likely cause of its demise. Unlike a fellow dictator like Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, who had the good fortune to rule in the placid confines of South America, Erdoğan is surrounded by the world’s most crisis-ridden region. His domestic success increases the chances of an ego-driven blunder that diminishes or ends his rule. Tense relations with Iran and Russia over the fighting in Syria offer one temptation, as the seemingly purposeful Russian penetrations of Turkish airspace highlight; or with Israel over Jerusalem or Gaza; or with Cyprus over the newly discovered gas fields.

(With this prospect presumably in mind, Erdoğan’s son Bilal recently relocated to Bologna, Italy, supposedly to work on a Ph.D. thesis; a whistleblower plausibly claims Bilal from there will manage the family’s vast fortune.)

Refep ans son Bilal

When the Erdoğan era expires, the country will be much more divided than when it began in March 2003 between Turk and Kurd, Sunni and Alevi, pious and secular Sunnis, and rich and poor. It will contain millions of difficult to assimilate Syrian refugees and Kurdish areas declared independent of the state. It will be isolated internationally. It will contain a hollowed-out government structure. It will have lost the tradition of legal impartiality.

Erdoğan’s larger accomplishment will have been to reverse Atatürk’s Westernizing policies. Whereas Atatürk and several generations of leaders wanted Turkey to be in Europe, Erdoğan brought it thunderingly back to the Middle East and to the tyranny, corruption, female subjugation, and other hallmarks of a region in crisis. As Turks struggle over the years to undo this damage, they will have ample opportunity to ponder the many evils bequeathed them by Erdoğan.

Also see:

Yet Again: Turkey, Israel Terror Attacks Committed By ‘Known Wolves’

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, Oct. 14, 2015:

Multiple individuals suspected in the terror attacks over the past week in Turkey and Israel appear to be additional examples of the phenomenon I have termed “known wolf” terrorism. The attacks were committed in part by people already known to law enforcement and national security authorities as being dangers.

Saturday’s horrific suicide bombing of a Kurdish peace rally in Ankara killed more than one hundred people and injured more. According to Reuters, the suspects are thought to be members of a previously identified terror network – the “Adiyaman cell”:

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Monday Islamic State was the prime suspect. Officials in Ankara said they were focusing on the so-called “Adiyaman cell” — a group of Turks, some of whom had traveled to Syria, and who were thought also to have been behind a suicide bombing in July in the town of Suruc near the Syrian border, which killed 34 people.

The cell is also believed to have been involved in the bombing of a pro-Kurdish opposition rally in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir on the eve of Turkey’s last election in June.

Additional information indicates that one of the bombers in Saturday’s attack in Ankara — Yunus Emre Alogaz — was the brother of a bomber who struck in Suruc back in July and who had been identified by Turkish media as potentially planning an attack:

Miller tweet

Additionally, the suspect’s father had reported his son to police, but to no avail:

Blaser tweet

What makes this “known wolf” situation all the more tragic is that the Turkish government has established policies that only allow for action against suicide bombers once they have struck, and presumably are already dead:

tweets 22

Information regarding the recent wave of terror attacks in Israel also indicates that many of these so-called “lone wolf” Palestinian terrorists were also already known to Israeli authorities.

One terrorist who struck in Jerusalem yesterday by ramming his car into a bus stop and then attacking onlookers — killing one — had been interviewed by Israeli TV last year after two of his relatives had butchered five people in an attack on a synagogue. He praised their actions, Arutz Sheva reports:

The Bezeq telephone company responded to the car attack conducted in Jerusalem Tuesday by its employee Alaa Abu Jamal, claiming there were “no warning signs” of his lethal terrorist leanings — but an interview he gave just one year ago would seem to prove that wrong.

Well before he used his company car to murder Rabbi Yeshiyahu Krishevsky and wound another person — running into passersby with the car and then getting out with a butcher’s knife before being shot – Jamal appeared on Yedioth Aharonoth where he gave an interview about the Har Nof massacre last November.

Jamal was in fact the cousin of the two terrorists who conducted the brutal attack with hatchets, knives and guns in western Jerusalem, in which four Jews were murdered at prayer — with two of them reportedly beheaded — in addition to a Druze police officer who was also killed in a subsequent shoot out with the murderers.

Speaking to the news station in Arabic in an interview broadcast on Israeli TV, Jamal appeared in the black and white khefiyeh associated with arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat, and spoke about the attack.

“This act was because of the pressure of the Israeli occupation government against the Palestinian people and Jerusalem in general, and the ongoing harm to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It’s a normal thing that can be expected from every man who has courage and a feeling of belonging to his people and to Islam. It’s a normal reaction to the treatment we receive.”

Asked if he thinks there will be more incidents, he said, “I don’t know, everyone is responsible for themselves. We were also surprised by the act.”

“But you’re happy?,” asked the interviewer, apparently noting Jamal’s wide smirk. The future terrorist immediately responded, “thank Allah, someone who dies as a martyr, that’s a great thing.”

The Jerusalem Post reports that more of the Palestinian terrorists who have struck this week, including Alaa Abu Jamal, were already known to the Shin Bet:

The deadly stabbing and shooting attack on board a Jerusalem bus was carried by two terrorists; The first was 23-year-old Baha Alian from Jabel Mukaber in east Jerusalem, who is affiliated with Fatah and has a history of extremist statements, according to the Shin Bet intelligence agency.

Alian was shot and killed in the attack.

A second terrorist involved in the bus attack, who has not been named, was described by the Shin Bet as a Hamas operative from Jabel Mukaber, who has served time in an Israeli prison in 2013 to 2014 due to Hamas-related activities. He is being questioned by security forces.

The deadly vehicular and axe attack on Malacei Yisrael Street in Jerusalem was carried out by Ala Abu Jamal, 33, a resident of Jabal Mukaber. He is the uncle of Adi and Asan Abu Jamal, who carried out the gun and axe attack on Jewish worshippers in the Har Nof synagogue in Jerusalem in November 2014.

After last year’s attack, he made radical statements, and made online pledges of support for ISIS, the Shin Bet said.

Additionally, the suspect who got in a a gunfight with police last week in a Paris suburb had already been tagged by French authorities as a radicalization threat:

french t

The “known wolf” phenomenon is something that I have repeatedly documented here at PJ Media over the past year:

Oct. 24, 2014: ‘Lone Wolf’ or ‘Known Wolf’: The Ongoing Counter-Terrorism Failure

Dec. 15, 2014: Sydney Hostage Taker Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome

Jan. 7, 2015: Paris Terror Attack Yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome

Feb. 3, 2015: French Police Terror Attacker Yesterday Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome

Feb. 15, 2015: Copenhagen Killer Was yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorism

Feb. 26, 2015: Islamic State Beheader ‘Jihadi John’ Yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorism

Apr. 22, 2015: Botched Attack on Paris Churches Another Case of “Known Wolf” Terrorism

May 4, 2015: Texas Attack Is Yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorism

June 26, 2015: France’s Beheading Terrorist Was Well-Known By Authorities

July 16, 2015: Report: Chattanooga Jihadist Was Yet Another ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorist, Anonymous Feds Dispute

Aug. 22, 2015: European Train Attacker Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorism

Yet the persistent media narrative, fed by many Western governments, is that the escalating wave of terrorism is from unknown individuals striking randomly.

Until Western authorities are willing to acknowledge their failures in identifying and acting on these threats, it is likely that this “known wolf” terrorism phenomenon will only continue to grow.


“Rise of Jihadist Attacks and the Fallacy of the ‘Lone Wolf’ Terrorist” – with Patrick Poole

Also see:

Obama and Putin Agreed To Screw Erdogan?

!cid_image006_jpg@01D103C7Moon of Alabama, Oct. 13, 2015: h/t @pulpark

It’s official! The New York Times finally admits that the “CIA rebels” in Syria who received tons of TOW anti-tank missiles are working under the field command of al-Qaeda/Jabhat al Nusra:

Rebel commanders scoffed when asked about reports of the delivery of 500 TOWs from Saudi Arabia, saying it was an insignificant number compared with what is available. Saudi Arabia in 2013 ordered more than 13,000 of them. Given that American weapons contracts require disclosure of the “end user,” insurgents said they were being delivered with Washington’s approval.

But, be assured, because these “CIA rebels” feel bad about it, they are still “moderate” or somewhat “relative moderate”.

Advancing alongside the Islamist groups, and sometimes aiding them, have been several of the relatively secular groups, like the Free Syrian Army, which have gained new prominence and status because of their access to the TOWs.

It is a tactical alliance that Free Syrian Army commanders describe as an uncomfortable marriage of necessity, because they cannot operate without the consent of the larger and stronger Nusra Front. But Mr. Assad and his allies cite the arrangement as proof that there is little difference between insurgent groups, calling them all terrorists that are legitimate targets.

That these “relative secular” al-Qaeda auxiliaries are threatening suicide attacks against Russians only confirms their secularism. Judging from the reader comments to that NYT piece the U.S. people are pretty aghast about this now openly admitted cooperation. They, and a realist op-ed in the NYT, call for cooperation with Russia and the Syrian government.

There may already be more cooperation between Russia and the U.S. than we can see. At least that is what the Turkish President Erdogan perceives.

Yesterday the U.S. dropped 50 tons of small weapons and munition to Kurdish fighters in north east Syria. According the U.S. justification for this those Kurds along with some Arab Syrian tribals are supposed to attack the Islamic State in Raqqa. (Those Arab tribals are by the way just a bunch of worthless thieves. This according to the Voice of America(!).) But the Kurds do not seem to know about those Raqqa plans anyway. They have different aims:

U.S. officials hope the YPG will now turn its attention to Raqqa, the Syrian city that is the defacto capital of the Islamic State, which lies just 60 miles south of Tal Abyad, a border town the YPG seized from the Islamic State in June, with U.S. help.

But PYD spokesman Can said the Kurdish group’s first priority is to link the Kurdish enclave of Afrin, northwest of the Syrian city of Aleppo, with Kobani, the Kurdish enclave northeast of Aleppo. That would mean clearing the Islamic State from villages along 60 miles of the Turkey-Syria border, in particular the border town of Jarablus.“Our prime and most important goal is to liberate Jarablus and to connect Kobani with Afrin,” Can told McClatchy. Capturing Raqqa, a mostly Arab city, is “not really” a PYD objective, he said. “Not for now,” he said.

That is just as I suspected the Kurds to react. But why did the U.S. officials claim that these Kurds and the collection of thieves would attack Raqqa? Did they not coordinate with them or was that Raqqa story a ruse?

The Turks seem to assume such and they accuse the U.S. as well as Russia of coordinating with the Kurds to seal the border with Turkey: Turkey warns U.S., Russia against backing Kurdish militia in Syria

Turkey has warned the United States and Russia it will not tolerate Kurdish territorial gains by Kurdish militia close to its frontiers in north-western Syria, two senior officials said.”This is clear cut for us and there is no joking about it,” one official said of the possibility of Syrian Kurdish militia crossing the Euphrates to extend control along Turkish borders from Iraq’s Kurdistan region towards the Mediterranean coast.

The PYD has been getting closer with both the United States and Russia of late. We view the PYD as a terrorist group and we want all countries to consider the consequences of their cooperation,” one of the Turkish officials said.

Turkey suspects Russia, which launched air strikes in Syria two weeks ago, has also been lending support to the YPG and PYD.

“With support from Russia, the PYD is trying to capture land between Jarablus and Azaz, going west of the Euphrates. We will never accept this,” the official said.

Is there now really coordination between Russia and the U.S. to seal the Syrian-Turkish border witch would cut off the Islamic State but also the al-Qaeda “CIA rebels” from their supplies? This would destroy all Turkish plans for Syria: a “safe zone” in Syria under Turkman control, a Sunni ruled pipeline corridor from Qatar to Europe, the Turkish-Ottoman annexation of Aleppo. Turkey would be pushed back into a secondary role.

Do Russia and the U.S. now really make common cause and decided to screw Erdogan? This would make sense if the destruction of the Islamic State and all other terrorists in Syria is the common aim. That would be a change in the Obama administration’s policy. Up to now it only helped the “salafist principality” to grow and never seriously attacked it.

And if there is such cooperation why does the U.S still deliver thousands of TOWs to al-Qaeda which only kill more Syrians and prolong the fighting?

Also see:

IS Targets Kurdish Civilians in Ankara Bombing-Turkey Drags its Feet into Action

The ISIS Study Group, Oct. 13, 2015:

This past weekend had a lot going on, didn’t it? Aside from Iran’s conviction of an American journalist, testing of new ballistic missile technology and death of a senior IRGC officer in Syria, we had a suicide attack in Ankara, Turkey targeting Kurdish civilians. Just a little while ago the Erdogan government finally broke down and admitted that it was the work of the Islamic State (IS) – although we strongly suspect they did it kicking and screaming. They really wanted to pin that rose on the PKK – but that didn’t make any logical sense as the PKK doesn’t operate like that. Especially when they get a bigger bang for their buck by targeting hapless Turkish conscripts – which they do extremely well.

Turkish PM blames Ankara bombing on Islamic State

At least 86 killed in twin bombings near train station in Turkey’s capital

At least 86 killed in Turkey’s deadliest attack

The aftermath of the attack Source: The ISIS Study Group

The aftermath of the attack
Source: The ISIS Study Group

Reporting indicates two suicide bombers detonated themselves on Saturday. The target? a peace rally held by the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party or “HDP.” The demonstration’s participants had gathered to call for an end to the renewed conflict between the PKK and the Erdogan government and for the two sides to go after the real enemy – IS. Reporting on the casualties continue to fluctuate, but the numbers have consistently been between 86-90 people killed and another 186 wounded. This attack represents the worst attack Ankara has seen in a while.

First responders finally arrive to secure the scene Source: Defne Karadeniz (Getty Images)

First responders finally arrive to secure the scene
Source: Defne Karadeniz (Getty Images)

Of course the Kurdish community knew it was IS. They also knew that Erdogan will do the minimum amount of work required to demonstrate he’s “doing something” about a jihadist organization that he’s perfectly fine with operating inside his country – provided that they only target Kurds inside Turkey. Rallies were held in Istanbul as well as select locations in Germany and France slamming the Erdogan government for their slow reaction and failure to crackdown on IS as hard as they have the PKK. The protestors have a point, you know. In last year’s “The Real Turkish Agenda,” we discussed how in light of IS attacks against Kurdish refugees in Southern Turkey Erdogan decided to launch airstrikes against PKK positions – while the Kurdish group was actively fighting IS.

Turkey hit by protests over government response to suicide bombings

Pro-Kurdish ralliers slam Ankara twin blasts in Germany, France

The Real Turkish Agenda…

One of the many demonstrations that emerged in protest to the Erdogan government’s slow response to the Ankara attack Source: Sedat Suna (EPA)

One of the many demonstrations that emerged in protest to the Erdogan government’s slow response to the Ankara attack
Source: Sedat Suna (EPA)

Our 26 JUL 15 piece “The Curious Case of Turkey’s Military Action Against IS” covered a similar incident where IS executed a suicide bombing that killed 31 Kurdish activists trying to get humanitarian aid into Kobane. Erdogan’s response? He launched a “anti-IS campaign,” only the targets were predominately PKK and YPG personnel fighting IS in Northern Syria. That’s why the Kurdish community has so much anxiety right now. On one side they’re on the forefront of the battle of good vs. evil, civilization vs. anarchy. On the other side, they have an opportunistic Turkish head of state who desires to rid himself of his “Kurdish problem” and obtain supremacy of the Middle East region over Iran and Saudi Arabia. Erdogan’s refusing to lift a finger to help the besieged Peshmerga forces in the battle of Kobane was bad enough – but what he did last NOV and earlier this summer is something that makes the US government complicit in those actions whether President Obama likes it or not.

The Curious Case of Turkey’s Military Action Against IS

Situation in Kobane Bleak; Missed Opportunity for Coalition Forces

Source: Hachfeld (

Source: Hachfeld (

Erdogan is willing to “look the other way” as long as IS only targets the Kurds. That could change should IS decide to start targeting Westerners and Turkish citizens, but right now their arrangement with Erdogan appears to remain intact. Our loyal readers are fully aware of the arrangement made between Erdogan and the IS leadership where Turkey allows the easy passage of fighters and weapons into Syria with access to medical and Turkish financial institutions in exchange for limiting the violence inside Turkey to the Kurds (If this is your first time here, check out “The Emperor Has no Clothes – Erdogan Thinks he “Controls” IS”). Turkey apologists in the American IC will point to the “great things Erdogan did” to combat IS. Our counter to that is at what time were Erdogan’s security forces ever proactive in targeting IS cells operating inside the country? You see, the dirty little secret is the Turks will only go after IS when another country tells them about a specific threat or personality – otherwise they act like they don’t know what’s going on which is inaccurate. The Turkish security forces know a great deal what goes on in their country, especially when it comes to the PKK, IRGC-Qods Force and Hezbollah, yet we’re made to believe they’re “not aware” of the heavy IS presence in their own country. This is no different than the Pakistani government’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) relationship with the Haqqani Network. They claim to be “reliable allies” in the fight against IS, but all the evidence points to the contrary – just as it did for Pakistan during the OEF years. We don’t trust a thing Erdogan or his flunkies say regarding IS – and neither should the US government. Its time that the Obama administration reevaluate our relationship with Erdogan.

The Emperor Has no Clothes – Erdogan Thinks he “Controls” IS

Screen-Shot-2015-10-12-at-11.46.14-AMYeah we know trying to figure out how we could possibly trust Turkey is quite the head-scratcher; we’re just going to have to trust the likes of Marie Harf (a potential advisor for VP Biden should he run in the 2016 election) because she wears glasses and a “Masters Degree” – because, you know, this administration “knows more” than we do
Source: The ISIS Study Group

Other Related Articles:

Why Do We Still Consider Turkey an “Ally?”

Is Turkey a Reliable Partner In The Fight Against ISIS?

Turkey Evacuates the Tomb of Suleiman Shah

Reports are Credible that Turkey Swapped 180 Islamic State Prisoners for its 46 Diplomats

Biden Turkey Visit Highlights the Failure of US Foreign Policy

VP Biden Makes Apology to US Coalition Partners Turkey and UAE

Turks increasingly sympathetic to Islamic State – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East

Update on the Baghdad and Kobane Fronts

Kurdish Fighters Help Islamic State Group Militants in Battle for Key Syrian Town of Kobani

Also see:

Turkey is the Next Failed State in the Middle East

From left to right: A Marxist terrorist holds hostage Turkish prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz (who died in the ensuing shootout) in March 2015; crowds protesting the government's failure to stop ISIS terror attacks are tear-gassed in October 2015; the June 8-14, 2013 cover of the Economist.

From left to right: A Marxist terrorist holds hostage Turkish prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz (who died in the ensuing shootout) in March 2015; crowds protesting the government’s failure to stop ISIS terror attacks are tear-gassed in October 2015; the June 8-14, 2013 cover of the Economist.

ME Forum, by David P. Goldman
Asia Times Online
October 10, 2015

We do not know just who detonated the two bombs that killed 95 Kurdish and allied activists in Ankara Saturday, but the least likely conjecture is that President Erdogan’s government is guiltless in the matter. As Turkish member of parliament Lutfu Turkkan tweeted after the bombing, the attack “was either a failure by the intelligence service, or it was done by the intelligence service.”

Betrayed by both the United States and Russia, and faced with the emergence of a Kurdish state on its borders and the rise of Kurdish parties in the parliamentary opposition, Erdogan is cornered. At risk in the short-term is the ability of his AKP party to govern after the upcoming November elections. At risk in the medium term is the cohesion of the Turkish state itself.

In public, Western leaders have hailed Turkey as “a great Islamic democracy,” as President Obama characterized it in a 2010 interview. That was the view of the George W. Bush administration before Obama, which invited Erdogan to the White House before his selection as prime minister in 2003.

Erdogan’s ability to govern, and cohesion of the Turkish state itself, is at risk.

A minority of military and intelligence analysts, though, has warned that Turkey may not be viable within its present borders in the medium term. The trouble is that its Kurdish minority, now at 20% of the overall population, has twice as many children as ethnic Turks, so many that half of Turkey’s military-age population will speak Kurdish as a first language in fewer than twenty years.

An existential crisis for Turkey has been in the making for years, as I reported in my 2011 book, How Civilizations Die (and Why Islam is Dying, Too). During the past week, a perfect storm has overtaken Turkish policy, and threatens to provoke deep political instability. Turkey may become the region’s next failed state.

Erdogan has suffered public humiliation by both Washington and Moscow.

There has to be a fall guy in the Middle East’s film noir, and that unenviable role has fallen to Turkey. Prior to the bombings, the worst terrorist incident in modern Turkish history, Erdogan suffered public humiliation by Washington as well as Moscow. As Laura Rozen reported October 9 in Al-Monitor, Washington announced a 180-degree turn in its Syrian intervention, abandoning the Sunni opposition in favor of Syrian Kurds.

The United States will supply arms, equipment and air support to Syrian Arab and Kurdish groups already fighting the so-called Islamic State (IS) on the ground in Syria, the White House and Pentagon announced Oct. 9.

The decision to refocus the beleaguered, $500 million Pentagon program from training and equipping a new force to fight IS in Syria to “equip and enable” rebel groups already fighting on the ground came after an interagency review of the train and equip program, US officials said.

“A key part of our strategy is to try to work with capable, indigenous forces on the ground … to provide them with equipment to make them more effective, in combination with our air strikes,” Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Christine Wormuth told journalists on a call on the new strategy Oct. 9.

Until last Friday, America and Turkey both supported the Sunni opposition to the Assad government with a view to eliminating Assad and installing a Sunni regime. That policy has been in shambles for months, but it allowed the Turks leeway to provide covert support to ISIS, the one Sunni force that shows effectiveness in the field. Russian intervention exposed the fecklessness of America’s attempts to find a “moderate” Syrian opposition to back. As the veteran strategist Edward Luttwak wrote last week in Tablet magazine:

Putin must certainly be innocent of the accusation that his air force has bombed the U.S.-trained “pro-democracy” freedom fighters, because the trainers themselves have admitted that the first lot on which one-tenth of the budget has been spent, i.e., $50 million, are exactly five in number, the rest having deserted after receiving their big family-support signing bonus and first paycheck, or after they were first issued with weapons (which they sold), or after first entering Syria in groups, when they promptly joined the anti-American Jabhat an-Nuṣrah, whose Sunni Islam they understand, unlike talk of democracy.

The Russians forced Washington to find something credible on the ground to support, and Washington turned to the Kurds, the only effective fighting force not linked to ISIS or al-Qaeda. That was precisely the result Turkey had wanted to avoid; the Kurdish military zone in northern Syria links up with Kurdish-controlled territory in northern Iraq, and the two zones form the core of a prospective Kurdish state.

Russia humiliated Turkey, meanwhile, by challenging Turkish fighters inside Turkish airspace, leaving NATO to protest loudly. Nonetheless the US and Germany have deactivated Patriot missile batteries–the only weapon system that represents a threat to Russian fighters–despite urgent Turkish requests to leave them in place. Russian fighters over Syria prevent the Turks from providing air cover for ISIS and other Islamist groups in Syria, as I noted Oct. 6 in our Chatham House Rules blog. M.K. Bhadrakumar observed in Asia Times Oct. 9, “Turkey’s scope for maneuvering vis-à-vis Russia is actually very limited and it has no option but to reach an understanding with Russia over Syria.”

Less obvious but no less ominous is the deterioration of Sino-Turkish relations due to Ankara’s covert support for the East Turkestan Independence Movement, a terrorist organization active among the Uyghurs of Western China. Despite official assurances, Turkey continues to provide safe passage to Turkey to thousands of Chinese Uyghurs via Southeast Asia, some of whom are fighting with ISIS in Syria. Thailand claims that Uyghur militants carried out the Aug. 17 bombing at Bangkok’s Erawan shrine after Thailand sent 109 Chinese Uyghurs back to China.

Erdogan has suffered not merely a collapse of his foreign policy, but a public humiliation by countries that backed his regime in the interests of regional stability–and this just before November’s parliamentary elections. After the Kurdish-backed HDP party took 13% of the national vote in last June’s elections and removed Erdogan’s majority in parliament, Erdogan called new elections rather than accept a coalition government. Erdogan also revived military operations against Turkish Kurds in order to elicit support from Turkish nationalists, a transparent maneuver widely reported in the major media.

As the New York Times reported August 5,

Having already delayed the formation of a coalition government, analysts say, Mr. Erdogan is now buttressing his party’s chances of winning new elections by appealing to Turkish nationalists opposed to self-determination for the Kurdish minority. Parallel to the military operations against the Kurds has been an effort to undermine the political side of the Kurdish movement by associating it with the violence of the P.K.K., which has also seemed eager to return to fighting.

Instead of responding to Erdogan’s provocation, the Kurds have shelved military operations in order to concentrate on winning votes in the November elections. After the Saturday bomb attacks, Thomas Seibert noted in the Daily Beast:

Observers agreed that the Ankara blast was probably linked to a decision by the PKK rebels to suspend hostilities with Ankara. The PKK had hinted in recent days that it would declare a new ceasefire in order to boost the HDP’s election chances. The people behind the attack wanted to “prevent the ceasefire” from coming into effect, respected journalist Kadri Gursel tweeted. The PKK’s ceasefire announcement became public shortly after the attack, but the decision by the rebels had probably been taken before.

In short, Erdogan now contemplates American heavy weapons in the hands of Syrian Kurds; the end of Turkey’s ability to provide air support for Sunni rebels in Syria; a Russian campaign to roll up the Sunni opposition, including Turkey’s assets in the field; and a collapse of his parliamentary majority due to an expanding Kurdish vote at home.

Whether the AKP government itself ordered the Ankara bombing, or simply looked the other way while ISIS conducted the bombing, both Turkey and global opinion will assume that the ghastly events in Ankara on Saturday reflect the desperation of the Erdogan regime. Regimes that resort to this sort of atrocity do not last very long.

The best thing that Turkey could do under the circumstances would be to ask the United Nations to supervise a plebiscite to allow Kurdish-majority areas to secede if they so chose. The mountains of southeastern Turkey with the highest concentration of Kurds are a drain on the national budget and of no strategic importance. Neither Erdogan nor his nationalist opposition, though, will consider such action; that would undermine both Erdogan’s neo-Ottomanism as well as the old secular nationalism. The pressures under the tectonic plates will only get worse. Saturday’s bombing may have demarcated the end of the Turkish state that arose out of the First World War.

David P. Goldman is a Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the Wax Family Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Turkey: America’s Really Bad “Faustian Bargain”

Gatestone Institute, by Burak Bekdil, September 8, 2015:

  • Turkey cannot fight the Islamic State (IS) and the Kurds, who are the essential ground force of any coalition campaign against IS, at the same time forever.
  • “…America’s deal with Turkey will prove to be a Faustian bargain. Short-term operational convenience is not worth the long-term danger of destabilizing Turkey and demoralizing the Kurdish forces that have carried the bulk of the burden in fighting militants.” — Eric Edelman, former U.S. ambassador to Ankara and former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.

Many people believed that the Turks and their Kurdish compatriots were close to a historic handshake when, in 2013, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdish separatist movement, Abdullah Ocalan, declared a farewell to arms after a three-decade-long violent campaign that had left nearly 40,000 dead — Turks and Kurds. The Turkish government would grant broader political rights to its restive Kurds, who demand regional autonomy. In return, the Kurds would conduct politics peacefully instead of seeking their rights with rifles in their hands.

Slightly more than two years later, Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast is seeing the same bloodshed it saw before the 2013 truce. On July 20, a suicide bomber belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Islamic State, or IS) murdered more than 30 pro-Kurdish activists in a small Turkish town bordering Syria. Before that, another IS operative detonated a bomb at a Kurdish political rally in Diyarbakir, the capital of Turkey’s Kurds, killing four people and injuring over 200.

The scene of the suicide bombing in Suruc, Turkey. An ISIS suicide bomber murdered 32 people and wounded more than 100 others in a July 20 attack on Kurdish humanitarian activists. (Image source: VOA video screenshot)

The jihadist attacks on Kurds ignited a new spiral of violence from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the notorious armed wing of the Kurdish political movement. An autonomous PKK cell killed two Turkish police officers at their home during their sleep. In retaliation, Turkey has since been pounding PKK strongholds in northern Iraq.

Between June 1 and August 29 of this year, a total of 129 people (over 50 civilians) were killed in clashes, and 526 were injured. Those numbers must be higher by now, as every new day adds to the death toll of the Turkish-Kurdish conflict. The number of casualties does not include the nearly 1,000 PKK militants the Turkish military claims it has killed in ongoing air strikes since late July. The combined Turkish-Kurdish death toll should now be close to 1,500.

This is a very Middle Eastern war; not so easy to read for the Western eye:

  • Turkey is fighting the Kurds at home and in Iraq; but it also has friendly economic ties with the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq, which has been trying to perform a balancing act between Turkey and their more radical brethren, the PKK.
  • Turkey recently joined the allied campaign against IS. So, Turkey is fighting IS and, at the same time, its regional nemesis, the Syrian Kurds.
  • The Kurds are fighting both Turkey and IS, Turkey’s declared enemy.
  • Turkey is a NATO ally and a partner of the U.S.-led war on IS, but is also fighting the Kurds.
  • The Kurds are the only “[proxy] U.S. boots on the ground in the fight against IS.”

Too complicated? Just Middle Eastern. And note that the “friend-and-foe” tableaux here are only a microcosm of the much more complex and broader affairs in this part of the world.

One thing, however, looks like a near certainty. Turkey cannot fight IS and Kurds, the essential ground force of any coalition campaign against IS, at the same time forever.

The Turkish campaign against the PKK sounds as if it is an air force bombing allied ground troops.

Eric Edelman, a former U.S. ambassador to Ankara and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy (2005-2009), put it realistically in a recent article in the New York Times:

“…America’s deal with Turkey will prove to be a Faustian bargain. Short-term operational convenience is not worth the long-term danger of destabilizing Turkey and demoralizing the Kurdish forces that have carried the bulk of the burden in fighting militants.

“An ally racked by violence and insurgency simply can’t play the role that the United States needs a secular, democratic Turkey to play in the turbulent Middle East.

“Fortunately, America does have leverage. Turkish officials desperately crave the approval of their counterparts in Washington; the United States must not grant it.

“Instead, the Obama administration should restrict Turkey’s access to senior-level meetings, reduce intelligence cooperation and withhold American support for Turkey in international financial institutions in the likely event that Mr. Erdogan’s policies precipitate an economic crisis.

“Getting Turkish leaders to change course will be extremely difficult, but it is imperative to pressure them if Turkey is to avoid being sucked into the vortex created by a failed Syria policy and Mr. Erdogan’s dogged quest for absolute political power.”

Edelman is right. Turkish President Erdogan’s dogged quest for absolute political power is not just poisoning Turkey but also its allies and their fight against Islamist extremism.

Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a Turkish columnist for the Hürriyet Daily and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Also see:

Explosive accusations against Turkey are exposing a major problem for Obama

REUTERS/Jason Reed

REUTERS/Jason Reed

Business Insider, by NATASHA BERTRAND AND MICHAEL B KELLEY, Aug. 25, 2015:

US-trained rebels allege that Turkish intelligence tipped off Al Qaeda’s al-Nusra Front and orchestrated the kidnapping of US-trained rebels entering Syria, Mitchell Prothero of McClatchy reports.

Though experts immediately advised skepticism of the accusations, the situation typifies the contradictory priorities in the faltering partnership between the US and Turkey against ISIS in Syria.

“All of this speaks to a bigger issue of how Turkey is perceived to have been nurturing the Islamist side of the Syrian insurgency at the expense of Syrian nationalists,” Aaron Stein, a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council, told Business Insider.

The US began training a small group of Syrian rebels known as the New Syria Force, or NSF, in early May, on the condition that they focus solely on combating ISIS while refraining from going after forces loyal to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and his allies.

The program was intended to graduate as many as 2,000 moderate Syrian opposition forces, but only 54 have completed the program so far. In July, the Pentagon’s sent the first NSF graduates, known as Division 30, into Syria to fight ISIS.

The initiative failed spectacularly when the group was attacked by al-Nusra Front, the branch of Al Qaeda operating in Syria, immediately after it entered the country. The Division 30 Syria headquarters was subsequently bombed by Assad’s warplanes.

Map of Syria showing control by cities and areas held as of August 3 as well as a safe zone that the US and Turkey are trying to implement.

Map of Syria showing control by cities and areas held as of August 3 as well as a safe zone that the US and Turkey are trying to implement.

The US-backed rebels now claim that Turkish intelligence leaked information about the NSF’s arrival plans in Syria to al-Nusra. And a Turkish official told McClatchy that the leak would humiliate the Obama administration and push the US to go after both ISIS and Assad’s regime.

But some analysts quickly noted that a leak wasn’t necessary.

“The group itself had advertised its entry into Syria on social media, and it was well known that they were entering through Turkey,” Stein said.

Nevertheless, the accusations underscore Turkey’s alliances with rebel groups — specifically Ahrar al-Sham and al-Nusra — that the US opposes.

A member of al Qaeda's Nusra Front carries his weapon as he squats in the town of the northwestern city of Ariha, after a coalition of insurgent groups seized the area in Idlib province, May 29, 2015.

A member of al Qaeda’s Nusra Front carries his weapon as he squats in the town of the northwestern city of Ariha, after a coalition of insurgent groups seized the area in Idlib province, May 29, 2015.

“Our research has long pointed to a closer Turkish relationship to Ahrar al-Sham and Nusra than to IS. In that sense, this is not surprising,” Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told Business Insider by email.

Stein has previously written about how Turkey “eventually reached out directly to al-Nusra, believing that the rebel group would be useful in achieving its ultimate goal: the overthrow of Assad.”

“Turkey also believed that it could potentially moderate the group and that al-Nusra would be good to work with as a ‘Syrian group’ fighting against the regime for the future of all Syrians,” he added.

The country has even closer ties to Ahrar, which is one of Syria’s largest rebel groups and the one with the most Turkish citizens. And although Ahrar is linked to Nusra, its stated political project is focused on toppling the Assad regime and establishing an Islamic state in Syria.

Read more 


FDD VP for Research Jonathan Schanzer discusses Turkey and the growing threat from ISIS. – The John Batchelor Show (Syndicated) – August 20, 2015

Proposed buffer zone leads al Qaeda to withdraw fighters from northern Aleppo province

An Al Nusrah Front fighter on the lookout in Aleppo.

An Al Nusrah Front fighter on the lookout in Aleppo.

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, Aug. 10, 2015:

The Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, has released a statement saying its fighters have been ordered to withdraw from their frontline positions north of Aleppo. Al Nusrah’s jihadists had been fighting against the Islamic State in the area. The move comes in response to Turkey’s attempt to establish a buffer zone for forces fighting Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s organization.

The statement, which was released via Twitter on August 9, does not indicate that Al Nusrah is siding with the Islamic State in the multi-sided conflict. The group makes it clear that it will continue to fight Baghdadi’s men elsewhere. Instead, Turkey’s cooperation with the US-led coalition, which has targeted veteran al Qaeda leaders in northern Syria, has forced Al Nusrah to change tactics.

The al Qaeda arm says it is relinquishing control of its territory in the northern part of the Aleppo province. Other rebel groups will step into the void.

Al Nusrah criticizes the proposed buffer zone in its statement, saying it is intended to serve Turkey’s national security interests and is not part of a real effort to aid the mujahdeen’s cause. The Turkish government fears a Kurdish state on its southern border, according to Al Nusrah, and that is the real impetus behind its decision. The Kurds are one of the Islamic State’s main opponents and have gained territory at the expense of Baghdadi’s jihadists in recent months.

The al Qaeda branch also says it cannot find religious justifications for cooperating with the joint US-Turkey initiative.

There is an even simpler explanation for Al Nusrah’s rejection of Turkey’s buffer zone: the US has been striking select al Qaeda operatives in Al Nusrah’s ranks.

The Pentagon announced earlier this month that it had begun flying drones out of the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. Some of the air missions are reportedly backing up US-trained rebel forces on the ground. Those very same fighters have battled Al Nusrah, which has killed or captured a number of the “moderate” rebels.

In late July, for instance, Al Nusrah claimed that it had captured members of a group called Division 30, which has reportedly received American assistance. Other members of Division 30 were killed during clashes with Al Nusrah after the al Qaeda arm raided the group’s headquarters north of Aleppo. Subsequently, a statement attributed to Division 30 disavowed any role in the US-led coalition’s campaign. The statement also said that Division 30 would “not be dragged [into] any side battle with any faction, as it did not, and will not, fight against Al Nusrah Front or any other faction.”

Regardless, the Defense Department is providing air support to US-backed rebels, who have been dubbed the New Syrian Force. And Al Nusrah has made it clear that any American effort to influence the anti-Assad and anti-Islamic State insurgency will be treated as a hostile act.

Separately, the US has also repeatedly targeted senior al Qaeda leaders in Al Nusrah’s ranks. Labeled the “Khorasan Group,” this cadre of al Qaeda veterans has been plotting attacks in the West.

Al Qaeda’s view of cooperation with Turkey, independent from US-led coalition

From al Qaeda’s perspective, tactical cooperation with Turkey, or elements of the Turkish government, is one matter. Working with the US-backed coalition, which Turkey supports in some ways, is another issue altogether.

Consider what Nasser bin Ali al Ansi, an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) official who alsoserved as al Qaeda’s deputy general manager until his death in April, said about Turkey earlier this year. In a question and answer session that was released online, al Ansi was asked how the jihadists should deal “with countries like Qatar and Turkey, whose policies tend to benefit the mujahideen.” Al Ansi replied that there “is no harm in benefiting from intersecting interests, as long as we do not have to sacrifice anything in our faith or doctrine.” However, al Ansi warned, this “does not alleviate their burden for collaborating with the Americans in their war against the mujahideen.” The jihadists “need to be attentive to this detail,” al Ansi explained.

In other words, al Qaeda’s members and like-minded jihadists can benefit from working with Turkey and Qatar, as long as those nations do not cross the line by advancing America’s “war against the mujahideen.” Given the circumstances described above, this is exactly how Al Nusrah now views Turkey’s proposed buffer zone.

However, as Al Ansi made clear, this does not preclude the possibility of tacit cooperation between al Qaeda’s Syrian branch and parts of the Turkish government on other matters. Indeed, because of their “intersecting interests” in Syria — namely, both want to see Bashar al Assad’s regime toppled — Turkey has been slow to recognize Al Nusrah as a threat in its own right.

In September 2014, Francis Ricciardone, the former US ambassador to Turkey, accused the Turks of working with Al Nusrah. “We ultimately had no choice but to agree to disagree,” Ricciardone said of his discussion with Turkish officials. “The Turks frankly worked with groups for a period, including Al Nusrah, whom we finally designated as we’re not willing to work with.”

Since early on the rebellion against the Assad regime, Turkey has permitted large numbers of foreign jihadists to travel into Syria. At various points, this benefitted not only Al Nusrah, but also al Qaeda’s rivals in the Islamic State, which Turkey now opposes.

For instance, in October 2013, The Wall Street Journal reported on meetings between US officials, Turkish authorities and others. “Turkish officials said the threat posed by [Al Nusrah], the anti-Assad group, could be dealt with later,” according to US officials and Syrian opposition leaders who spoke with the newspaper. Officials also told the publication that the US government’s decision to designate Al Nusrah as a terrorist group in December 2012 was intended “in part to send a message to Ankara about the need to more tightly control the arms flow.”

Eventually, in 2014, Turkey also designated Al Nusrah as a terrorist organization. Turkish authorities have also reportedly launched sporadic raids on al Qaeda-affiliated sites inside their country.

Still, al Qaeda has found Turkey to be a hospitable environment in the past. According to the US Treasury Department, al Qaeda has funneled cash and fighters through Turkish soil to Al Nusrah.

In October 2012, Treasury said that a network headed by al Qaeda operative Muhsin al Fadhli was moving “fighters and money through Turkey to support al Qaeda-affiliated elements in Syria.” In addition, al Fadhli leveraged “his extensive network of Kuwaiti jihadist donors to send money to Syria via Turkey.” (The Defense Department believes that al Fadhli was killed in an airstrike on July 8.)

It remains to be seen how Al Nusrah will react to Turkey’s latest moves, beyond rejecting the proposed buffer zone. In the meantime, groups allied with Al Nusrah will likely take over its turf.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracy and the Senior Editor for The Long War Journal.

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IS U.S. Going to Be Backed into Airstrikes Against Assad?

Center for Security Policy, by Kyle Shideler, August 3, 2015:

The U.S. is now redefining it’s support relationship with “Division 30″, following its embarrassing launch last week.  Several of the U.S. trained Syrian rebels and their commanders were captured by Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra Front just days after the group’s entry into Syria. The U.S. has allocated $500 million for the training effort, which has so far produced approximately 60 fighters.

The attack by Nusra apparently took the U.S. completely by surprise, according to current and former officials interviewed by the New York Times:

While American military trainers had gone to great lengths to protect the initial group of trainees from attacks by Islamic State or Syrian Army forces, they did not anticipate an assault from the Nusra Front. In fact, officials said on Friday, they expected the Nusra Front to welcome Division 30 as an ally in its fight against the Islamic State.

“This wasn’t supposed to happen like this,” said one former senior American official, who was working closely on Syria issues until recently, and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential intelligence assessments. The Nusra Front said in a statement on Friday that its aim was to eliminate Division 30 before it could gain a deeper foothold in Syria.

That the attack was not anticipated is a particularly egregious failure, seeing as Al-Nusra has undertaken to co-opt or eliminate every militia in Syria which the U.S. supported. Yet somehow U.S. planners failed to foresee the obvious. Following the attack, the U.S has now announced that it will use airstrikes against any force attacking Division 30, including the Assad regime’s forces. This is a relaxation of a previous more restrictive policy, which was formed under concerns that the rebels would attempt to direct U.S. ordinance against Assad instead of the Islamic State.

The U.S.’s policy towards Islamic State in Syria fails to address the reality that Islamic State is simply not a priority for any other force operating in the Syria except the U.S., its Western allies, and perhaps the Kurdish PKK/YPG. Turkey’s entry into the conflict, celebrated by U.S. policy makers, is almost entirely directed towards damaging the Kurdish PKK and preventing an autonomous or independent Kurdistan in Syria. The Syrian rebel forces, the vast majority of whom are Islamist in orientation, if not, like al Nusra, overtly jihadist, and are focused on Assad, not Islamic State.

What does the U.S. intend to do if, as seems likely, Division 30 forces engage Assad’s forces, either alone, or in coordination with other rebels? Will the U.S. provide airstrikes if Assad’s forces launch a counter offensive? Will it provide air cover to defend Division 30 against Assad’s Air Force? As Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin noted in January, this was not an unforeseen problem.



Then consider the deal for the use of Incirlik Airbase, which reportedly required the U.S. agreeing to Turkish effort to establish a “safe zone”,  along the border for Syrian rebels and refugees.

That agreement has been a long time desire of Turkey, Syrian rebels and pro-intervention U.S. lawmakers, and efforts to agitate for a no-fly zone have stepped up again in recent days.And while U.S. sources seek to emphasize the space is intended as an “anti-ISIS” safe zone, the real goal of the Turks and their rebel allies is, and has been since at least 2012,  a zone to shield forces from  Assad, and especially his air assets. In 2013, U.S. officials reportedly could not find a compelling national interest in establishing a no-fly zone over Northern Syria, and it 2014, National Security Advisor Susan Rice described a No Fly Zone or safe zone as “premature” or “a diversion”.

Yet it appears Turkey may now achieve this long-time objective. , thanks in part to the Islamic State.


Former Defense Department spokesman, JD Gordon, joins former U.S. Congressman Michael Flanagan, to discuss President Obama’s approval of airstrikes in Syria that could lead to the U.S. taking sides in the Syrian civil war:

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The funny thing is the Kurds have the numbers, capability and the tenacity needed to defeat IS. So why is it we’re not doing more to support them and why are we still trying to convince ourselves that Turkey is a legitimate “ally?”


turkish_pm_recep_tayyip_erdoganFrontpage, by Rober Ellis, July 29, 2015:

The bomb attack on the Turkish border town of Suruc in southeastern Turkey, targeting a group of activists planning to help rebuild Kobane across the border in Syria, came at an opportune moment for Turkey’s interim AKP (Justice and Development Party) government.

Unlike a bombing in another border town, Reyhanli, two years ago, which failed to attract U.S. support for Turkey’s campaign against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, this time the bombing has done the trick. The suicide bomber was a member of an Islamist group linked to ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), and by pointing the finger at ISIL, Turkey has gained Obama’s support for an incursion into Syria, as this falls in with American plans.

Three years ago, Turkey failed to secure the U.N. Security Council’s support for the creation of a safe zone for refugees and a no-fly zone along the Syrian border and has since lobbied for U.S. backing, but now a formula has been found. In return for allowing American aircraft the use of Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey for sorties against ISIL – instead of the long haul from the Gulf, or Iraq and Jordan, an agreement has been reached on creating an “ISIL-free zone” in northern Syria with U.S. air support.

The plan is to drive ISIL from an area running for 68 miles along the Syrian border and some 40 miles inland and to replace ISIL with “moderate” Syrian opposition forces such as the FSA (Free Syrian Army) to allow displaced refugees to return.

On paper, the plan provides welcome leverage for the U.S. in its offensive against ISIL and evidence of Turkey’s good intentions, but there are drawbacks.

The suicide bombing in Suruc has been met with widespread Kurdish anger against the AKP government, akin to the anger felt by the Kurds over what they considered the AKP’s abandonment of Kobane to ISIL. There have not only been demonstrations but the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) has attacked the Turkish army and murdered two policemen in retaliation.

Turkey’s response has been to bomb PKK camps in northern Iraq and after a cross-border exchange of fire to launch air strikes against ISIL. The PKK’s reply has been unequivocal. “The truce has no meaning any more,” it stated on its website.

The peace process, which began in 2012, is now over, and the Istanbul Police Department and the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) have warned of impending attacks from both the PKK and ISIL.

Turkey’s latest move fits in with the AKP’s and, in particular, President Erdogan’s domestic agenda. Unable to garner Kurdish support in June’s election, the AKP’s aim of gaining an overall majority was thwarted by the Kurdish-based HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party), which passed the electoral threshold and gained 80 seats out of the parliament’s 550. If the AKP is unable to form a coalition government with the leading opposition party, the secular CHP (Republican People’s Party), President Erdogan will call for a re-election in the hope that the AKP once again will secure an overall majority and legislate a new constitution to provide him with unbridled power.

Erdogan has also reneged on the Dolmabahce Agreement from the end of February, a 10-point list of priorities for the Kurdish peace process, which was prepared and announced by the Deputy Prime Minister and an HDP deputy. The President has called the HDP a parliamentary extension of the PKK and said it has “an inorganic link” with the organization. The HDP has called on the PKK to lay down its arms against Turkey, but it is feared the government may take steps to close the party, thus depriving Turkey’s Kurds of legitimate political representation.

On the other hand, there is an overall suspicion among the Kurds that the AKP government is in cahoots with ISIL. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s claim that “Turkey and AKP governments have never had any direct or indirect connection with any terrorist organization” flies in the face of last November’s report from the U.N. Security Council’s Analytical Support and Monitoring Team, which identifies Turkey as the primary route for weaponry smuggled to ISIL and the Al-Nusrah Front.

The State Department’s briefing at the beginning of June also stated Turkey is the main route for more than 22,000 fighters who have flocked to Syria to join extremist organizations, mainly ISIL. There are numerous other sources.

After the fall of Tel Abyad in June Erdogan declared Turkey would never allow the establishment of a Kurdish state in northern Syria, and now the accord with the U.S. has provided an ideal opportunity to drive a wedge between a Kurdish canton to the west and two Kurdish cantons to the east in the form of an “ISIL-free zone.”

Davutoglu has said Turkey will not send in ground forces, but his foreign minister, Mevlüt Cavusoglu, has not ruled out the possibility. Nevertheless, 54,000 Turkish troops, tanks and artillery have been deployed on the Syrian border, if need be.

Such a move will further exacerbate tensions between Kurds on both sides of the border and Turkey’s AKP government.

As the HDP has warned in a statement: “It is a plan to set the country on fire in order for the government to secure a single-party government in a snap election, while creating an impression it is conducting a comprehensive fight against terrorism.”

Robert Ellis is a regular commentator on Turkish affairs in the Danish and international press.


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Obama Admin Backs NATO Ally Turkey’s Double Game with Islamic State After Turks Bomb Anti-ISIS Kurdish Groups

1436985867gory-23PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, July 26, 2015:

A bizarre situation unfolded this past week, one that could possibly drag the U.S. into a new war in the Middle East.

On Monday, a suicide bomber attacked a rally in Suruc, Turkey, targeting a news conference of the Kurdish Federation of Socialist Youth Associations, killing 32. The suicide bomber was identified by Turkish authorities as an Islamic State supporter who had returned from Syria.

NYT tweet

In response the Islamist government in Ankara, led by Obama’s pal Recep Erdogan (one of Obama’s top five international friends), launched airstrikes targeting not the Islamic State, but Kurdish groups in Iraq.

CNN Turk

CNN Turk m2

This comes as more evidence emerges that Turkey has been playing a double game with the Islamic State. The evidence was obtained in a U.S. special forces raid of a senior ISIS leader in Iraq.

The Guardian reports today:

When US special forces raided the compound of an Islamic State leader in eastern Syria in May, they made sure not to tell the neighbours.

The target of that raid, the first of its kind since US jets returned to the skies over Iraq last August, was an Isis official responsible for oil smuggling, named Abu Sayyaf. He was almost unheard of outside the upper echelons of the terror group, but he was well known to Turkey. From mid-2013, the Tunisian fighter had been responsible for smuggling oil from Syria’s eastern fields, which the group had by then commandeered. Black market oil quickly became the main driver of Isis revenues – and Turkish buyers were its main clients.

As a result, the oil trade between the jihadis and the Turks was held up as evidence of an alliance between the two. It led to protests from Washington and Europe – both already wary of Turkey’s 900-mile border with Syria being used as a gateway by would-be jihadis from around the world.

This comes as more evidence emerges that Turkey has been playing a double game with the Islamic State. The evidence was obtained in a U.S. special forces raid of a senior ISIS leader in Iraq.

The Guardian reports today:

When US special forces raided the compound of an Islamic State leader in eastern Syria in May, they made sure not to tell the neighbours.

The target of that raid, the first of its kind since US jets returned to the skies over Iraq last August, was an Isis official responsible for oil smuggling, named Abu Sayyaf. He was almost unheard of outside the upper echelons of the terror group, but he was well known to Turkey. From mid-2013, the Tunisian fighter had been responsible for smuggling oil from Syria’s eastern fields, which the group had by then commandeered. Black market oil quickly became the main driver of Isis revenues – and Turkish buyers were its main clients.

As a result, the oil trade between the jihadis and the Turks was held up as evidence of an alliance between the two. It led to protests from Washington and Europe – both already wary of Turkey’s 900-mile border with Syria being used as a gateway by would-be jihadis from around the world.

Turkey oil link t0 ISIS


This is not the first time that Turkey has been caught double-dealing against their U.S. NATO ally. There was the “gas for gold” scheme with Iran that allowed the Islamic Republic to skirt international sanctions, and Erdogan and the Turkish intelligence chief had a photographed meeting with U.S. designated Al-Qaeda global terror financier Yasin al-Qadi.

Curiously, shortly after those reports showing photographs of Erdogan meeting with al-Qadi appeared in the Turkish media, the Treasury Department under Obama removed al-Qadi’s terror designation.

The preferred route of thousands of foreign fighters now in the ranks of ISIS appears to have been mostly coming from Turkey and crossing the border into Syria, bringing complaints that Turkey was not doing enough to combat the group’s growth and that the border was becoming “a two-way jihadist highway.”

But a series of published reports going back to last year seem to show direct and indirect Turkish support for the Islamic State.

  • In April 2014, Turkish media reports showed photographs of ISIS commander Abu Muhammad being treated at the Hatay State Hospital after being injured fighting in Syria. Opposition politicians also claimed that fighters with Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria, were allowed to stay at the guesthouses of the government’s Religious Affairs Directorate.
  • Last November, Newsweek published an interview with a former ISIS fighter who said that ISIS fighters faced no obstructions entering from Turkey. Meanwhile, ISIS commanders bragged about the “full cooperation with the Turks,” while anti-ISIS Kurdish fighters were blocked by Turkish authorities.
  • This account seems to be confirmed by a report from Aydınlık Daily, which reported in July 2014 that the Turkish intelligence service, the MIT, had transported members of Syrian terrorist groups and their weapons across the border.
  • Two weeks after that report, at an event site approved by Erdogan’s ruling AKP Party and sponsored by a publication known for its ISIS sympathiesa rally was held in Istanbul where video showed speakers openly calling for jihad. There were also reports that recruiting for ISIS fighters took place.
  • In January, Turkish military documents from the Gendarmerie General Command leaked online showed that Turkish intelligence were transporting missiles, mortars and anti-aircraft ammunition for Al-Qaeda and actively obstructed the military from documenting the transfers.
  • The New York Times reported in May that massive amounts of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer used for making bombs, were being prepared in a Turkish town near Syria and transported across the border. The report quoted an opposition politician who admitted that the fertilizing was not for farms, but for bombs.
  • Reuters reported exclusively in late May that court documents and prosecutor testimony revealed that Turkish intelligence had transported weapons across the border in 2013 and early 2014, aiding the offensive push by ISIS into Iraq in June 2014. Erdogan himself had said that the shipments were aid.

And then there’s this, though it’s unlikely that it’s much of a secret…

Turkey recruting IS

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