October 20, 2013

Turkey First Sheltered Al-Qaeda, Now It Is Bombing Its Positions Along Its Border

Obama And Erdogan: Foes or Friends of al-Qaeda? Answer: Friends.

An excerpt from, "Turkey Readjusts North Syria Strategy" by Sami Kohen (Al Monitor, October 20):
The Turkish army’s firing of four artillery rounds at positions of the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham [ISIS] in the Aazaz area in northern Syria signals a major readjustment of Ankara’s regional strategy.
At first glance it might appear as a routine reaction to any firing of artillery and mortars into Turkish territory. But the naming of the al-Qaeda-linked ISIS in the statement by the Turkish military command is significant. This is the first time an open warning has been served to the radical Islamist organization that has deployed along the border. Actually, for some time now Ankara has been concerned of the growing presence of ISIS forces including those of Jabhat al-Nusra in the border region. These forces have severed their ties to the Syrian opposition — which Turkey supports — and its military wing, the Free Syrian Army [FSA]. Radicals are now striving to gain the military upper hand and eliminate the opposition to achieve their own agenda.

This situation poses a dilemma for Turkey, which has been supporting the forces struggling against the Assad regime. When Turkey, together with the West, began supporting the FSA and the opposition coalition, radical groups were marginal. But with jihadists coming from other countries they soon became major autonomous forces.
An excerpt from, "Turkey Fires at Al-Qaeda in Syria" by Nihat Ali Ozcan (Al Monitor, October 19):
On Oct. 15 the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) announced it had retaliated to the firing of a mortar round from Syria’s Azaz-Parsa mountains and hit positions of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Striking back at the origins of weapon-fire from Syria had become routine, but this instance retained an interesting dimension: the target of the retaliation fire were positions of the radical, al-Qaeda-linked ISIS.

The government, which received parliamentary authorization to use force in Syria, has transferred such authority to the TSK so they could respond instantly to any attack emanating from Syrian territory. The Bashar al-Assad regime's loss of control in the north prevents it from being a target, but it also increases the ambiguities when Turkey is expanding its list of targets.

Decision-making time must be brief when responding to any attack from Syria. In other words, when Turkish territory is hit with artillery, missiles or mortars, you will not have time to deliberate responses at length. You must transfer the authority to respond to the lowest level possible. We now see that this is how our system operates.
It is an encouraging sign to see the Turkish government change its mind about supporting Jihadist terrorists, but, we shouldn't read too much into these latest retaliations. Its publicized attacks on al-Qaeda is mainly a change in its PR strategy. Turkey wants to distance itself from al-Qaeda, but there is a mountain of evidence that proves it is still aiding al-Qaeda against the Kurds who have taken territory in the north. 

Al-Qaeda is a phantom in the dark, nothing to worry about, but the Kurdish national movement is a transnational mass movement that Turkey does not want to see grow in Syria.

Also, beware of authors who say that moderates led the uprising against Assad's regime but were then taken over by Islamic radicals. This is anti-factual, and a propaganda talking point that has no basis in reality. 

Islamic radicals were the dominant forces that engaged Syria's police and military at the very beginning, and they were confident because they knew they had covert military and financial support from America, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Israel, and others. 

So this idea that Jihadist terrorists came out of nowhere to sour what was a sweet revolution is just not true. Jihadist terrorists were instructed, trained, and led by America, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel, France, England and others from the very beginning of the conflict in Syria.