— The Erimtan Angle —

At the end of last year, the Director of Peace-Building and Rights Program at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights, David L. Phillips released his research on the ties between the Prez and the Caliph (aka Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi).[1]  Rather than being a purely academic exercise, this study arguably more than somewhat reflects the way in which the White House views Turkey and its relations with the Kurds, the IS, and Iraq, given that the author also acts as the foreign affairs expert and senior adviser to President Barack Obama. In fact, last February Phillips published a book entitled Kurdish Spring, another indication that the Saudi-Israeli drive towards the establishment of an independent Kurdistan is all but supported by Washington.[2]  But now back to the Prez and the Caliph or the AKP and the IS. Phillips starts off by saying that “President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu strongly deny complicity with ISIS. Erdogan visited the Council on Foreign Relations on September 22, 2014. He criticized ‘smear campaigns [and] attempts to distort perception about us’. Erdogan decried, ‘A systematic attack on Turkey’s international reputation’, complaining that ‘Turkey has been subject to very unjust and ill-intentioned news items from media organizations’. Erdogan posited: ‘My request from our friends in the United States is to make your assessment about Turkey by basing your information on objective sources’. Columbia University’s Program on Peace-building and Rights assigned a team of researchers in the United States, Europe, and Turkey to examine Turkish and international media, assessing the credibility of allegations. This report draws on a variety of international sources — The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, BBC, Sky News, as well as Turkish sources, CNN Turk, Hurriyet Daily News, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, and Radikal among others”.[3]

In the next instance, David Phillips lists a number of allegations followed by corroborating material from his sources, beginning with “Turkey Provides Military Equipment to ISIS”. Then Phillips writes that an “ISIS commander told The Washington Post on August 12, 2014: ‘Most of the fighters who joined us in the beginning of the war came via Turkey, and so did our equipment and supplies'”. Next, the author goes on that “Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), produced a statement from the Adana Office of the Prosecutor on October 14, 2014 maintaining that Turkey supplied weapons to terror groups. He also produced interview transcripts from truck drivers who delivered weapons to the groups. According to Kiliçdaroglu, the Turkish government claims the trucks were for humanitarian aid to the Turkmen, but the Turkmen said no humanitarian aid was delivered” and that, “[a]ccording to CHP Vice President Bulent Tezcan, three trucks were stopped in Adana for inspection on January 19, 2014. The trucks were loaded with weapons in Esenboga Airport in Ankara. The drivers drove the trucks to the border, where a MIT agent was supposed to take over and drive the trucks to Syria to deliver materials to ISIS and groups in Syria. This happened many times. When the trucks were stopped, MIT agents tried to keep the inspectors from looking inside the crates. The inspectors found rockets, arms, and ammunitions”.[4]  David Phillips then turns to the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet, which reported that “Fuat Avni,[5] a preeminent Twitter user who reported on the December 17th corruption probe, that audio tapes confirm that Turkey provided financial and military aid to terrorist groups associated with Al Qaeda on October 12, 2014. On the tapes, Erdogan pressured the Turkish Armed Forces to go to war with Syria. Erdogan demanded that Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MIT), come up with a justification for attacking Syria”. Continuing that “Hakan Fidan told Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Yasar Guler, a senior defense official, and Feridun Sinirlioglu, a senior foreign affairs official: ‘If need be, I’ll send 4 men into Syria. I’ll formulate a reason to go to war by shooting 8 rockets into Turkey; I’ll have them attack the Tomb of Suleiman Shah’. Documents surfaced on September 19th, 2014 showing that the Saudi Emir Bender Bin Sultan financed the transportation of arms to ISIS through Turkey. A flight leaving Germany dropped off arms in the Etimesgut airport in [Ankara, ] Turkey, which was then split into three containers, two of which were given to ISIS and one to Gaza”.[6]

In the next instance, David Phillips posits the claim that “Turkey Provided Transport and Logistical Assistance to ISIS Fighters”. And scanning the news led him to say that according to the Turkish newspaper “Radikal on June 13, 2014, Interior Minister Muammar Guler signed a directive: ‘According to our regional gains, we will help al-Nusra militants against the branch of PKK terrorist organization, the PYD, within our borders. . . . Hatay is a strategic location for the mujahideen crossing from within our borders to Syria. Logistical support for Islamist groups will be increased, and their training, hospital care, and safe passage will mostly take place in Hatay . . . MIT and the Religious Affairs Directorate will coordinate the placement of fighters in public accommodations’. [and that] [on August 25, 2014] “[t]he Daily Mail reported . . . that many foreign militants joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq after traveling through Turkey, but Turkey did not try to stop them. This article describes how foreign militants, especially from the UK, go to Syria and Iraq through the Turkish border. They call the border the ‘Gateway to Jihad’. Turkish army soldiers either turn a blind eye and let them pass, or the jihadists pay the border guards as little as $10 to facilitate their crossing”, adding that “Britain’s Sky News obtained documents showing that the Turkish government has stamped passports of foreign militants seeking to cross the Turkey border into Syria to join ISIS. The BBC interviewed villagers, who claim that buses travel at night, carrying jihadists to fight Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq, not the Syrian Armed Forces”. Moreover, Philips adds that a “senior Egyptian official indicated on October 9, 2014 that Turkish intelligence is passing satellite imagery and other data to ISIS”.[7]

Next, the Director of Peace-Building and Rights Program deals with the claim that “Turkey Provided Training to ISIS Fighters” . . . leading him to posit that “CNN Turk reported on July 29, 2014 that in the heart of Istanbul, places like Duzce and Adapazari, have become gathering spots for terrorists. There are religious orders where ISIS militants are trained. Some of these training videos are posted on the Turkish ISIS propaganda website takvahaber.net. According to CNN Turk, Turkish security forces could have stopped these developments if they had wanted to . . . Turks who joined an affiliate of ISIS were recorded at a public gathering in Istanbul, which took place on July 28, 2014 . . . A video shows an ISIS affiliate holding a prayer/gathering in Omerli, a district of Istanbul. In response to the video, CHP Vice President, MP Tanrikulu submitted parliamentary questions to the Minister of the [then-]Interior, Efkan Ala, asking questions such as, ‘Is it true that a camp or camps have been allocated to an affiliate of ISIS in Istanbul? What is this affiliate? Who is it made up of? Is the rumor true that the same area allocated for the camp is also used for military exercises?’. [His boss, the CHP Chairman] “Kemal Kiliçdaroglu warned the AKP government not to provide money and training to terror groups on October 14, 2014. He said, ‘It isn’t right for armed groups to be trained on Turkish soil. You bring foreign fighters to Turkey, put money in their pockets, guns in their hands, and you ask them to kill Muslims in Syria. We told them to stop helping ISIS. Ahmet Davutoglu asked us to show proof. Everyone knows that they’re helping ISIS'”, and adding as an afterthought, Philips writes that “[a]ccording to Jordanian intelligence, Turkey trained ISIS militants for special operations”.[8]

Then, Phillips considers the point that “Turkey Supports ISIS Financially Through Purchase of Oil” . . . and recording that “[o]n September 13, 2014, The New York Times reported on the Obama administration’s efforts to pressure Turkey to crack down on ISIS extensive sales network for oil. James Phillips, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, argues that Turkey has not fully cracked down on ISIS’s sales network because it benefits from a lower price for oil, and that there might even be Turks and government officials who benefit from the trade”, adding that “Fehim Taştekin wrote in Radikal on September 13, 2014 about illegal pipelines transporting oil from Syria to nearby border towns in Turkey. The oil is sold for as little as 1.25 liras per liter. Taştekin indicated that many of these illegal pipelines were dismantled after operating for 3 years, once his article was published” and that “[a]ccording to Diken and OdaTV [an arguably quite questionable source], David Cohen, a Justice Department official, says that there are Turkish individuals acting as middlemen to help sell ISIS’s oil through Turkey”. He finishes off this items by noting that “[o]n October 14, 2014, a German Parliamentarian from the Green Party accused Turkey of allowing the transportation of arms to ISIS over its territory, as well as the sale of oil”.[9]  Then, the researcher considers whether “Turkey Assists ISIS Recruitment”, a question leading him to post that “Kerim Kiliçdaroğlu claimed on October 14, 2014 that ISIS offices in Istanbul and Gaziantep are used to recruit fighters. On October 10, 2014, the mufti of Konya said that 100 people from Konya joined ISIS 4 days ago . . . OdaTV reports that Takva Haber serves as a propaganda outlet for ISIS to recruit Turkish-speaking individuals in Turkey and Germany. The address where this propaganda website is registered corresponds to the address of a school called Irfan Koleji, which was established by Ilim Yayma Vakfi, a foundation that was created by Erdogan and Davutoglu, among others. It is thus claimed that the propaganda site is operated from the school of the foundation started by AKP members”. Next declaring that the “Minister of Sports, Suat Kilic, an AKP member, visited Salafi jihadists who are ISIS supporters in Germany. The group is known for reaching out to supporters via free Quran distributions and raising funds to sponsor suicide attacks in Syria and Iraq by raising money”, also saying that “OdaTV released a video allegedly showing ISIS militants riding a bus in Istanbul”.[10]

With regards to the point that “Turkish Forces Are Fighting Alongside ISIS”, David Phillips states that “[o]n October 7, 2014, IBDA-C, a militant Islamic organization in Turkey, pledged support to ISIS. A Turkish friend who is a commander in ISIS suggests that Turkey is ‘involved in all of this’ and that ‘10,000 ISIS members will come to Turkey’. A Huda-Par member at the meeting claims that officials criticize ISIS but in fact sympathize with the group (Huda-Par, the “Free Cause Party”, is a Kurdish Sunni fundamentalist political party). BBP member claims that National Action Party (MHP) officials are close to embracing ISIS. In the meeting, it is asserted that ISIS militants come to Turkey frequently to rest, as though they are taking a break from military service. They claim that Turkey will experience an Islamic revolution, and Turks should be ready for jihad . . .  Seymour Hersh maintains in the London Review of Books that ISIS conducted sarin attacks in Syria, and that Turkey was informed. ‘For months there had been acute concern among senior military leaders and the intelligence community about the role in the war of Syria’s neighbors, especially Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Erdogan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups. “We knew there were some in the Turkish government”, a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, “who believed they could get Assad’s nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat” . . . On September 20, 2014, Demir Celik, a Member of Parliament with the people’s democratic party (HDP) claimed that Turkish Special Forces fight with ISIS”.[11]

And finally, the researcher tackles the point that “Turkey and ISIS Share a Worldview” . . . “[a]ccording to the Hurriyet Daily News on September 26, 2014, ‘The feelings of the AKP’s heavyweights are not limited to Ankara. I was shocked to hear words of admiration for ISIL from some high-level civil servants even in Şanliurfa. ‘They are like us, fighting against seven great powers in the War of Independence,’ one said.’Rather than the [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK on the other side, I would rather have ISIL as a neighbor’, said another”. And then saying that “Cengiz Candar, a well-respected Turkish journalist, maintained that MIT helped ‘midwife’ the Islamic state in Iraq and Syria, as well as other Jihadi groups”, and also remarking that an “AKP council member posted on his Facebook page: ‘Thankfully ISIS exists… May you never run out of ammunition’ . . . A Turkish Social Security Institution supervisor uses the ISIS logo in internal correspondences”, and that “Bilal Erdogan and Turkish officials meet alleged ISIS fighters”.[12]

[1] David L. Phillips, “Research Paper: ISIS-Turkey List” Huffington Post (9 November 2014). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-l-phillips/research-paper-isis-turke_b_6128950.html.

[2] Cfr. C. Erimtan, “Will Turkish vote thwart ‘foreign plans’ for independent Kurdistan?” RT Op-Edge (10 June 2015). http://www.rt.com/op-edge/266344-turkish-elections-independent-kurdistan-erdogan/.

[3] David L. Phillips, “Research Paper: ISIS-Turkey List”.

[4] Cfr. C. Erimtan, “Keep on truckin’: Turkey and Al Qaeda in Syria” RT Op-Edge (31 January 2014). http://www.rt.com/op-edge/turkey-al-qaeda-syria-486/.

[5] “fuatavni” twitter. https://twitter.com/fuatavni_f?lang=en and https://twitter.com/FuatAvniEng?lang=en.

[6] David L. Phillips, “Research Paper: ISIS-Turkey List”.

[7] David L. Phillips, “Research Paper: ISIS-Turkey List”.

[8] David L. Phillips, “Research Paper: ISIS-Turkey List”.

[9] David L. Phillips, “Research Paper: ISIS-Turkey List”.

[10] David L. Phillips, “Research Paper: ISIS-Turkey List”.

[11] David L. Phillips, “Research Paper: ISIS-Turkey List”.

[12] David L. Phillips, “Research Paper: ISIS-Turkey List”.

Comments on: "The AKP and the Islamic State: Cozy Relations, State of Alliance or Conspiracy Theory???" (1)

  1. […] Source: The AKP and the Islamic State: Cozy Relations, State of Alliance or Conspiracy Theory??? […]

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