The PJ Tatler

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

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.

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.

https://twitter.com/CNNTURK_ENG/status/624975628236886016

https://twitter.com/CNNTURK_ENG/status/624976487637229568

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 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…

On the topic of Turkey’s complicity with Syrian terrorists, Ankara-based journalist Doğu Eroğlu had this Twitter riff Friday:

So Turkey using this opportunity to start a war with the same Kurdish groups that are pushing back the Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq does have some context.

The Obama administration was quick to back the Turkish airstrikes, as stated by Obama’s deputy anti-ISIS envoy Brett McGurk:

That leaves many allies in the region baffled by the U.S. support for Turkey’s anti-Kurdish strikes:

There might be a calculation on the part of the Obama administration to look the other way, namely keeping up appearances on its anemic anti-ISIS campaign:

https://twitter.com/MsIntervention/status/619441408643100672

But it wasn’t just the PKK, which was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., targeted by the Turkish airstrikes — but also other Kurdish and non-Kurdish groups:

Following Turkey’s provocation, they apparently now have a response:

Apart from the fact that efforts in Syria and Iraq should be focused on defeating the Islamic State, the issue for Americans is that since Turkey is a NATO ally, the U.S. could get drawn into the the Turkey-Kurd conflict — against the side actually fighting ISIS.

And that may happen sooner rather than later:

We are quickly reaching terminal velocity with respect to American foreign policy. The Obama administration has emboldened and collaborated with America’s enemies and alienated our allies.

Meanwhile, Republican congressional leaders have not only failed to be an impediment to Obama’s disastrous foreign policy, but have become active enablers of it.

In ten years much will be written on the question: “When did the United States switch sides in the War on Terror?”