By Emre Uslu
August 31, 2014
Turkish authorities and pro-government academics have been busy in recent days, visiting world capitals in an effort to convince them that Turkey has not provided assistance to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces. This has been a nice effort, but it is far from convincing major foreign powers. Such efforts are nothing but a reflection of a state that was caught helping a brutal terror organization.
Visiting Washington, London and Brussels to protest that Turkey has never helped ISIL is a lie that even Turks are not buying. Beyond the evidence collected by foreign intelligence agencies, there is ample proof that has been published by international media outlets.
While the dirty relationship between Turkey and ISIL is clear, Turkish authorities think that Western observers might be stupid enough to believe their tall tales.
If there was no hard evidence concerning Turkey's dark relations with ISIL-like terrorist organizations, the court testimony of the drivers who were carrying ammunition to Syria is convincing enough to make a case that Turkey is helping al-Qaeda-affiliated extremists in Syria.
For example, truck driver L.K., who was arrested carrying 9,000 mortar rounds, testified in Adana in 2013 saying, "I carried similar loads more than once, unloading them at a gendarmerie station on the border. The load did not belong to the Turkish Armed Forces." The court in Adana determined that the direction which the truck drivers reported that their loads were being taken to was that of an al-Qaeda camp.
When the police and gendarmerie stopped the trucks full of ammunition at the Reyhanlı border, Turkish authorities claimed that the trucks were carrying aid to Turkmens in Syria. It is ridiculous for any reasonable person to believe that these trucks were carrying aid to Turkmens.
This was an obvious lie for two simple reasons: Turkmens in Syria live right across the border from the Turkish town of Yayladağı, which is located at the very southern corner of Hatay province. However, the trucks were stopped at the Cilvegozu Gate, which is at the top of Hatay province. The distance between Cilvegozu and Yayladağı is 100 miles.
More importantly, extremist al-Qaeda-affiliated groups were controlling the Syrian side of the Cilvegozu gate, Bab-Al-Hawa at that time. ISIL forces were controlling the highways on the Syrian side in 2013, when the trucks were stopped.
Pro-government academics and analysts who want us -- and the world community -- to believe that Turkey has not helped al-Qaeda affiliated groups want us to believe that those trucks full of ammunition were carrying aid -- even military aid -- to Turkmens, not through Turkish territory, but through Syrian territory controlled by al-Qaeda and ISIL forces.
Dealing with terrorists and helping terrorism is like a boomerang; sooner or later it will come back on those who engage in it. This was Turkey's argument back in 1990, telling the countries of Europe that helping the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) would hurt them in the long run, which was true.
Yet, the “new Turkey,” as pro-government analysts love to say, has forgotten its own argument in helping al-Qaeda-affiliated terror groups to topple the Assad regime. Not surprisingly, the boomerang has come back to strike Turkey quite severely. Now 49 Turkish diplomatic staff and dependents are being held captive by ISIL and Turkey has not even lifted a finger to rescue them thus far.
There is little doubt that government authorities violated international law pursuing aggressive policies to topple the Assad regime. If there is a price to be paid, it should not be Turkey; rather, it should be those who made such decisions and played such dangerous games.
Unfortunately, Turkey's contribution is one of the reasons ISIL wields so much power today. This is not only limited to Turkey's passive support by turning a blind eye to ISIL fighters using Turkish territory to cross into Syria, but it is also due to these shadowy arms transfers from Turkey to Syria. ISIL officials are not even shy about confessing that they carried their weapons through Turkey on their way to jihad.