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IN TERRORISM studies, there is a theory that states can sponsor terrorism. Turkey is a strong candidate for such a case.
With recent events in north-eastern Syria and Turkish attacks on the Kurds, such a point needs to be explained and made clear.
As its dream of entering the EU vanished, Turkey tried to dig into its Islamic identity and establish itself as a centre for the Islamic world, drawing on a past that goes back to before WWI when the Ottoman empire had a caliph at its head.
Ever since the emergence of the so-called Islamic State (Isis), the Turkish government has turned a blind eye to fighters arriving on its soil from all over the world in order to join the terrorist group.
They have come from as far as China, France, England, Canada, and Australia. Many fighters who arrived in Turkey reported an easy passage through the borders towards Syria.
During the fight for Kobane, Turkey disallowed arms and help from other parts of Syria to reach the city of Kobane in a clear sign of helping Isis.
In 2014, at the height of Isis, the Turkish government stamped passports of fighters who were crossing the border into Syria from Turkey.
Unsurprisingly, most Isis activities when the group was established have taken place on Turkish soil and/or near the Turkish borders.
The fighters and their equipment didn’t just enter once on their way to Isis’s so-called “caliphate,” but they were coming and going between Syria and Turkey. At this time Turkey was Isis’s main customer for oil, which the terrorist group obtained from the land it invaded and took control over.
Then there was the sale of antiquities. Adding to that, the transfer of cash from the Gulf (particularly Qatar) into Turkey and from Turkey into Syria to finance the terrorist group. And of course, the transfer of weapons – done also through Turkey.
South-eastern Turkey had become a massive jurisdiction of terror finance activity as Isis took shape.
This didn’t begin and end with Isis. Large sections of the Turkish establishment and have always supported the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Army of Conquest — which numbers the jihadist groups Ahrar al-Sham and Jund al-Aqsa among its seven members — had a command centre in Idlib, northern Syria.
Turkish officials admit giving logistical and intelligence support to the command headquarters.
Additionally, they gave assistance to al-Nusra, where the Turkish government supported them for a certain period of time during the conflict in Syria.
At some point, the village of Az-Zanbaqi in Jisr al-Shughur’s countryside had become a base for a large number of Uighur Turkestan Islamic Party militants and their families in Syria, estimated at around 3,500.
Nor is Turkey’s role limited to Syria. The Libyan National Army accused the Turkish authorities of supporting terrorist groups in Libya for many years.
Libya added that Turkish support has evolved from just logistic support to a direct interference using military aircraft to transport mercenaries, as well as ships carrying weapons, armoured vehicles and ammunition to support Islamic terrorism in Libya.
Given the above, it is laughable that the West will rely on Turkey to take control of the thousands of Isis fighters and their families after they seize the camps currently run by Kurdish and allied forces during the Turkish “peace spring” operation.
If anything, these fighters will enjoy freedom and give time to recuperate and recharge, ready to create another Islamist terror group later. It will not have to have the same name as Isis, but its roots and ideology will not change.
Amir Darwish is a British Syrian poet and writer of Kurdish origin who came to Britain as an asylum-seeker in 2003 – @darwish_amir.
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