We also thought Turkey would be embarrassed enough to apologize and stop its illegal dealings with the multinational terrorist group. They didn’t. Quite the opposite, Ankara not only continued its illegal dealings but also went further and invaded Iraq. This is not surprising as Turkish policy calculus contains a self-contradictory wish list:
-Pretend to cooperate with the West by cheating without ISIL noticing.
-Keep ISIL offices in Turkey, tease them with logistical support and the idea of Sunni solidarity against Shia “infidels” — without Iran noticing — so that ISIL’s sleeper cells do not attack Ankara.
-Win Western support for the downfall of Syrian President Bashar Assad in return for limited support for the ISIL war.
-Challenge Russian interests in Syria without alienating Moscow for energy.
-Play the peace game with Kurds and offer timid support to Kurdish troops fighting ISIL. Do not support them too much in case the peace talks collapse.
-Look like an ally to the West, Kurds, ISIL and various groups of terrorists at home and in the neighbourhood. Because, why not.
We can now understand why the problem child of NATO refuses to recall its occupying troops from Iraq. Ankara’s support for all manners of terrorism and extremism has been back and forth from open to secret, temporarily suspended, curbed, suspended again and rebooted. It all depends on what method the government felt it could use to fool a suspicious Western audience and how much it thought it could lean on ISIL for the downfall of Syrian government.
The political class in Ankara should take note: Eventually ISIL will become a security threat to Turkey – just like in Europe and the United States. Simply put, they are making a terrible mistake by investing in terrorist groups they think can help them in toppling President Assad and creating a Muslim Brotherhood-type regime in Damascus.
The double game Turkey is playing with regard to the West and ISIL has been clear since the start of the US-led war on Syria in 2011. It is no secret to Western intelligence agencies that foreign jihadists have been crossing over the Turkish border into Syria in droves with the acquiescence of Ankara for years.
So we end this write-up with a fine confession by US Vice President Joe Biden in 2014: “Our allies in the region are our largest problem in Syria. They pour hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad except that the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra, Al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadists.”
Biden’s confessions serve as further proof that the financing and arming of extremist outfits is not being done in secret by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and other US “allies.” The White House knows of it and tolerates it, which means they are complicit in Turkish crimes. Not the Kremlin.
With the entry of Russian forces into the region in alliance with Iran, Syria, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iraq, Turkey’s double game is coming to a disastrous end. There is broad support for the Russian airstrikes not only among the Iraqis and Syrians, but among the Europeans as well. The real counter-ISIL alliance has, among other things, helped to make clear the continuing absurdity of US-NATO policy in the Middle East, in which back-stabber and (pro-ISIL) Ankara is their “ally” and the (counter-ISIL) alliance led by Moscow is their “enemy.