SHAFAQNA – It was Russia back in November who first rung the alarm bell over Turkey, alleging that President Erdogan held interesting friendships and alliances with hardened Wahhabi-inspired terrorists in Turkey. While Moscow backed its claims with hard evidences, President Vladimir Putin’s stand against Ankara then, was dismissed as political posing following the downing of one very Russian jet over Syria.
Unfazed by western capitals’ refusal to look upon Turkish President Erdogan with suspicion, for his political clout was needed to back operations in the region, Russia bided its time, patiently gathering political and legal ammunitions against an increasingly despotic Turkish regime.
This January, President Putin’s claims were vindicated by not one state, but two: Israel and Greece.
“As you know, Daesh (aka ISIS/ISIL) enjoyed Turkish money for oil for a very, very long period of time. I hope that it will be ended,” Moshe Yaalon told reporters in Athens on January 26, after meeting his Greek counterpart, Panos Kammenos, Reuters reports.
“It’s up to Turkey, the Turkish government, the Turkish leadership, to decide whether they want to be part of any kind of cooperation to fight terrorism. This is not the case so far,” he said.
Yaalon’s counterpart, Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, made similar statements, saying that a large part of the Islamic State’s oil trade, as well as the financing of terror, is going through Turkey.
Those claims perfectly echo those formulated by Russian officials in December 2015. Then, the Russian Defense Ministry released maps and satellite images which aimed to prove that Turkey was the main consumer of oil smuggled out of Syria and Iraq by the terrorists. The Russian ministry also claimed that the Turkish president and his family were involved in the criminal dealings.
Russia’s accusations were also backed by Iran by way of photographic evidences, and later on, Syria when Syria’s envoy to the UN Bashar al-Ja’afari slammed Turkey for supporting Wahhabi-inspired terrorist groups. The diplomat then appealed to the UN, urging it to end Ankara’s “violations and crimes.”
While Russia, Iran and Syria pounding of the political pavement failed in December to generate more than a whisper in power’s corridors on the basis Ankara still held great geopolitical appeal in the Middle East, experts are expecting Israel’s voice to carry far and wide.
“President Erdogan was in fact playing both side of the fence: terror and counter-terror, to forward his own geopolitical agenda … Denial is no longer an option! Erdogan clearly lost his footing in the West and he will be now made an example out of,” noted Leon Pasticier, a French analyst for the Middle East.
“Erdogan is becoming too much of a liability those days, and I personally believed that he over-stayed his welcome as far as western powers are concerned. Turkey’s aggression against the Kurds, its leadership’s back dealings with Daesh, and of course its love affair with Wahhabism is becoming a concern. Remember that Turkey sits on Europe’s doorstep … this makes the threat of a terror over-lapping very real. Western officials are not willing to tempt fate by befriending a loose cannon. Erdogan is that cannon,” Pasticier added in an exclusive interview.
Turkey so far continues to deny its officials have entertained any sort of links with Daesh.
Turkey has “permitted jihadists to move from Europe to Syria and Iraq and back, as part of Daesh’s terrorist network, and I hope this will stop, too,” Yaalon stressed, according to a transcript of the Israeli minister’s comments provided by the Greek Defense Ministry.
As evidences and voices have gathered against Ankara, Turkey has adopted a rather interesting strategy: denial by way of victimization.
On January 13, al-Jazeera, a media network affiliated to Qatar, itself a sponsor of both Wahhabism and Salafism across the Middle East, published an article which painted Istanbul January attack as evidence Turkey was indeed a fervent and loyal counter-terror foot-soldier. “Both of those attacks could be seen as the encroachment of the ISIL-Kurdish war into Turkish territory, or, as I argued then, the spilling of the Syrian civil war into Turkey,” wrote Mustafa Akyol, a Turkish-based journalist.
He continues, “This should come as no surprise, since the conflict between Turkey and ISIL has been deepening since last July, after the first major suicide attack in Suruc and following a United States-Turkey deal allowing US warplanes to use the Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey against ISIL.”
Ankara’s narrative is that alleged terror attacks against its people constitute proof of its stance against Daesh … Only experts are not exactly sold on such rhetoric.
It was Marwa Osman, a prominent political analyst for the Middle East affiliated with RT who warned back in December that Turkish President Erdogan might attempt exploit violence within his borders to deflect blame and play his country’s loss as a coat of arm.
Like Mrs Osman, Con Coughlin from the Telegraph believes Erdogan needs to decide whose side he is on.
“In the war against the so-called Islamic State (Isil), the position of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is laced with contradictions. On one hand the leader of a country regarded as a key Nato ally professes to be committed to destroying the Islamist fanatics who are attempting to establish their hate-filled caliphate across the border in neighbouring Syria. US air force F-16 fighters and drones regularly fly combat missions from Turkey’s southern Incirlik air base, while the Turks have even launched attacks of their own against Isil positions in Syria. And yet, for all Mr Erdogan’s constant claims that Turkey is the “top target for all terrorist groups in the region”, strong suspicions remain that Mr Erdogan is guilty of double standards for turning a blind eye to its highly lucrative smuggling activities across the Turkish border,” he wrote in a report published January, 12.
Strong suspicion indeed since Erdogan has been linked to not just the black oil trade but drug dealings as well – both terror’s most lucrative industries.
By Catherine Shakdam