We Shouldn’t Be Surprised Turkey Is Supporting ISIS

by BEN NORTON

In one of the most contemptible of recent political developments, we now know that the great secular, democratic nation of Turkey is directly aiding ISIS fascists in order to crush the secular, left-wing Kurdish resistance.

This proud member of NATO sat on its hands for weeks, watching across the Syrian border as Daesh fascists tried to take over the town of Kobane, a Kurdish stronghold under-equipped resistance forces have valiantly defended with their lives. Many Western pundits were perplexed by Turkish inaction, going to great lengths to craft risible theories. Clear-eyed analysts, on the other hand, understood what Turkey’s modus operandi was all along: “The enemy of the enemy is my friend.” Secular, leftist Kurdish opposition forces are a threat to Turkish hegemony. President Erdoğan would clearly prefer brutally violent Sunni ethnoreligious supremacist extremists over secular, leftist, autonomous Kurds.

As of 10 November, 363 brave Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters have been martyred. 609 ISIS fascists have been taken down with them.

Until recently, it was speculated that Turkey had provided indirect support to Daesh; there did not appear to be evidence showing direct Turkish assistance to ISIS fascists. New evidence leads to the latter conclusion.

On 7 November, Newsweek published “’ISIS Sees Turkey as Its Ally’: Former Islamic State Member Reveals Turkish Army Cooperation.” The piece is based on testimonies by a former ISIS communications technician who goes by the pseudonym Sherko Omer. Omer traveled to Syria to fight against the bloody Assad regime — a regime with brutal state terrorist campaigns of mass bombingtorturestarvation, and rape of civilians, including children — yet soon “found himself caught up in a horrifying sectarian war, unable to escape.” He never planned on joining ISIS; he was not a Salafi extremist. Omer was trapped in a terrifying snare — a sectarian, international proxy war — and feared for his life, knowing full well that Daesh murders defectors.

Omer managed to escape by surrendering to Kurdish forces (ISIS extremists would not have spared his life after such a surrender), and subsequently detailed to Newsweek what he saw in his time working for the fascist group.

He notes that Turkey allowed trucks from the Daesh stronghold in 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.” He later adds that, not only did they travel “through Turkey in a convoy of trucks,” they even stayed “at safehouses along the way.”

As a communication technician, Omer recalls “connect[ing] ISIS field captains and commanders from Syria with people in Turkey on innumerable occasions,” reporting that he “rarely heard them speak in Arabic, and that was only when they talked to their own recruiters, otherwise, they mostly spoke in Turkish because 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,” Omer says.

Newsweek indicates that, until October, “NATO member Turkey had blocked Kurdish fighters from crossing the border into Syria to aid their Syrian counterparts in defending the border town of Kobane,” and “that people attempting to carry supplies across the border were often shot at.”

YPG spokesman Polat Can claimed:

There is more than enough evidence with us now proving that the Turkish army gives ISIS terrorists weapons, ammunitions and allows them to cross the Turkish official border crossings in order for ISIS terrorists to initiate inhumane attacks against the Kurdish people in Rojava [north-eastern Syria].

We now know that he was indeed correct.

“ISIS and Turkey cooperate together on the ground on the basis that they have a common enemy to destroy, the Kurds,” Omer divulged.

Not a New Policy

Newsweek states that it could not independently verify Omer’s testimony, but “anecdotal evidence of Turkish forces turning a blind eye to ISIS activity has been mounting over the past month.” There have even been reports of the Turkish military shooting Kurdish civilians who are trying to flee into Turkey for safety.

Turkish journalist Fehim Taştekin has been writing for months about how “armed groups like al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic Front cross the [Turkish] border freely.” In just one horrific example, in May 2014, he tells of an incident in which the Turkish military killed a Syrian Kurdish mother, in front of her own children, as they fled from Daesh fascists. (On the same day, the Turkish military shot 14-year-old Ali Ozdemir in the face, causing him to lose both of his eyes. He had crossed the border to visit his grandmother.)

Syrian journalist Bazran Halil explained in May 2014, months before the ISIS siege on Kobani:

The canton of Kobani is surrounded by ISIS. There is no electricity, no water. People drink water from wells. We are threatened by cholera. Turkey is the only place where people can meet their needs. Think, we don’t even have chickens. For Turkey to close the border means, ‘Go surrender to ISIS.’ In the border segments under control of Islamist organizations, everything is allowed to cross. Factories looted in Aleppo are carried across in trucks, and nobody says anything.

The Turkish policy, nevertheless, is to shoot, and to shoot to kill. The chairman of the Bar Association in Diyarbakir, a large southeastern Turkish city, insists that execution is the proper punishment to mete out to refugees “illegally” crossing the border. The chief of Diyarbakir’s Human Rights Association explains that soldiers on the border are ordered to shoot to kill. This is Turkey’s “Rojava policy” — that is to say, its plan to quash the resistance and kill the Kurds.

In fact, while Daesh was carving out huge swaths of Syrian territory in which to impose a fascist “caliphate” (that is recognized by approximately zero of the world’s prominent Muslim scholars, leaders, and institutions), Turkish fighter jets bombed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)  — a secular, leftist organization affiliated with the YPG — for the first time since their 2012 ceasefire. Turkey insisted the bombs were not meant to defend ISIS (there is certainly no way attacking resistance groups as they courageously battle against ethnoreligious supremacist terrorists fighting desperately to take over their land could possibly be construed as implicitly supporting that fascist menace).

Given the long and egregious history of anti-Kurdish racism in Turkey, institutionalized under Atatürk, we should not be surprised. Yet Erdoğan’s regime is doing much more than crushing YPG/PKK freedom fighters — something much, much more perilous. Turkey is fanning the flames of a bloody and mushrooming sectarian conflagration that has already engulfed much of the Middle East and may very well extend further, consuming all in its wake.

Ben Norton is an artist and activist. His website can be found at http://bennorton.com/.

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