Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) shake hands with Ex-Turkish PM (from 1993 to 1996) Tansu Çiller, 2018. Photo credit: Sabah.com.trS
Sheri Laizer speaks with Kurdish hostage, Hüseyin Baybaşin, about Kurdish independence and preventing terror policies of domination and genocide.
“If you tell Erdoğan to clean up the leftovers of ISIS, it is just like telling Hitler to clean up the leftovers of the Nazis…”
Q. Do you think the PYD is at all responsible for provoking the Turkish invasions of Kurdish areas of Syria through flaunting Öcalan’s message and erecting giant images of him in areas where they took control from ISIS?
A. I don’t believe the PYD can be held accountable for provoking the Turkish state in any way as Turkey has no need of ‘provocation’ and uses such things as an excuse to attack and crush the Kurdish people’s ambitions; Turkey openly imposes genocide on the Kurds since the Treaty of Lausanne.
Most of us will be questioning why the PYD and the YPG forces are using Abdullah Öcalan’s portrait and name. I believe they can use these things in order to coordinate Kurdish people for Kurdistan’s independence. They can also protect and show their respect for him. We all know the PYD has protected other minorities from ISIS in the areas they took over from these barbaric militants. The PYD organised a civilised administration for Turkmens, Christians and Arabs in the areas that came under their control. However, now is the time for change because we are very clear that Syria, Iran, Iraq and particularly Turkey are not going to recognise Kurdish people’s desire for self determination and this is what the people of Kurdistan need most. The countries that have occupied Kurdistan will act in the same way that they have been doing since 1923 to promote a fascist ideology combined with Islam. In such a manner they are causing harm and destruction at the same time to their own people, including Muslims.
We the Kurds must co-operate with the USA, Israel and other civilised nation states and focus on unity and independence. This is what the Kurdish forces in Rojava and all other Kurdish forces must do. This has to be the new strategic policy that the Kurdish nation needs to pursue to bring about the beginning of change.
Q. You speak about unity as if it were straight forward. Yet, even now the KDP, PUK and other players are divided over Kirkuk and the disputed territories in Iraq and manipulated against one another through their disparate relations with Ankara, Baghdad, Tehran and Damascus – as well as with America, Europe and Russia and the Gulf States.
A. Kurds were more unified prior to controls under the Ottoman Empire and can be so again. Many rotten elements are still robbing Kirkuk inside the traditional Kurdish parties just as in the central governments they have made deals with. It is not Kirkuk that is causing the divisions but the policies of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and the forces pulling Syria apart.
We Kurds have to stand together and find new ways to go forward as clearly the past century shows us that ‘divide and rule’ has always harmed the Kurds and continues to do so. Fresh vision is needed for the future and for Kurds to be ever on the run from the central governments exploiting and killing them. Without a nation of their own there can be no protection. New ’Anfal’ 1 style policies will be tried, just as Erdoğan is doing.
Huseyin Baybasin, Rotterdam prison, the Netherlands 2017. Photo: baybasinhuseyin.com
The referendum for the independence of Kurdistan that went ahead on 25 September 2017 resulted in a 97.3% vote in favour. At once the forces bent upon the annihilation of Kurdistan and their Western business partners began barking and howling, followed by the swift imposition of punitive measures. The forces that be demanded that the affirmative results be annulled as if the voice of Kurds should never be heard.
These harsh measures contrasted in the extreme with Britain’s Brexit referendum, in which poll not only were voters badly informed about what they were actually voting on, only some 51.9% voted in favour 2. No one of substance was able to scream ‘annul’ and impose instant punishments.
For the past one hundred years since the Treaty of Lausanne, Kurds have been slaughtered and forced to flee in all directions as refugees because they lack the status of statehood to protect them and Ambassadors to represent them – not just as a small enclave land locked in northern Iraq but in all the territory that has been Kurdish for thousands of years.
Erdoğan is not only ridiculous, he is ignoring history and deploying racist propaganda ahead of the provincial vote, telling Kurds: “If you love it so much, then get out of Turkey. Go to Northern Iraq. Kurdistan is there. There is no place for you in this country. We have our people and God on our back…” 3 Kurds will never accept this attitude. It is not Erdoğan’s country – nor anyone’s god zone. He shows even more the Islamist fascist dictator he has become.
Q. Has the Trump administration really given Erdoğan a free hand to annihilate those Kurds they relied on as allies and who more than anyone served to defeat ISIS?
A. Erdoğan is not qualified as a world leader. Just close your eyes and ears and then think to yourself, who is Erdoğan? You will then realise that Erdoğan’s policy can only bring destruction to the whole world.
In practical terms, the best option will be for the US to remain in power for the sake of the security and safety of the free world, as also for the protection of civilisation and order. China is mainly self-interested and focused on business and their policy reflects this. Russia’s Putin is acting no differently than Erdoğan: they get on so well that they are coordinating over Syria, but in my view, the way they are acting is akin to Russian roulette.
We know who Erdoğan is and his ideology is very clear. For Putin, whatever is going on in his head he is cooperating with Erdogan and this poses a question for me. Erdoğan is only using Putin in the interests of his own ideology. The civilised world and their leaders should stop playing these games and should focus on the safety and security of the civilised world because Erdoğan’s ideology and Putin’s actions are clearly not a game.
If you tell Erdoğan to clean up the left overs of ISIS it is just like telling Hitler to clean up the left overs of the Nazis. You cannot be thinking normally and not see this as a world leader.
I recently saw an interview with French political philosopher, Bernard-Henri Levy, who recently published a book called The Empire and the Five Kings (Turkey, Iran, Russia, China and Sunni Islamism that he designates as a threat to civilisation as American withdraws). I was very pleased to see that at least one prominent political thinker has seen this the threat it is. He also calls for the independence of Kurdistan as a solution to the existing problems of the Middle East. His film ‘peshmerga’ was screened in. One review observed: “Despite his admiration for Persian and Arab civilization and Russia’s great literature, the author condemns the five empires for their attraction to Nazism, anti-Semitism, fascism, and totalitarianism…”
ISIS was removed from direct power by the Kurds with the help of the US-led coalition. The PYD created a generally workable solution in the area for everyone. This kind of management never happened in any other country in the region except Israel. Those who are critical of the PYD’s policy should come up with a better alternative. Christians, Arabs and Turkmen were not generally unhappy with the system put in place by the PYD. If some Kurds are not happy with it because of their relations with Turkey or the KDP, that is understandable but I believe the PYD must create a basis for discussion and find a way to work through their differences. We have to face facts on the ground and deal with them.
Q. Have Erdoğan ’s goals changed since Syria became drawn into the Arab Spring revolution from March 2011 onwards presenting ISIS Erdoğan with an opportunity for a Sunni caliphate?
A. I don’t think Erdoğan has changed his strategy – I think he is part of the wider Muslim Brotherhood and that the revolution was really no Arab ‘Spring’ at all. In Erdoğan’s head the driving vision is that of Islamicisation and there is no real difference when it comes down to it between Erdoğan, ISIS, Al Nusra and others like them. 4
I could not see this right at the beginning as Erdoğan claimed to have changed but at that time we could not see what he was going to do. I had even spoken with some of his people about potential changes to the Kurdish policy, but, in fact, from 2008 onwards, Erdoğan showed his true colours and that he had just been playing a game all along. He is an Islamist fundamentalist – that is what he is. Unfortunately, he is the leader of a country which is a member of NATO.
Q. Do you think Erdoğan is genuinely pious and a true ‘believer’?
A. I think Erdoğan aims to make the whole world Muslim and he believes he will go to heaven. Once he got a hold on power he became an ‘Islamist Hitler’ – power changes this kind of person. Anyone who believes religion will change the world has to have a very weak character and is in need of psychiatric help. How can he be a believer and order the murder of others because they are not the followers of his sickening ideology.
Q. What do you think is likely to happen when Erdoğan goes, as one day he must? Is the damage done to secularism in Turkey irreparable?
A. The damage can be repaired if the USA, UN, EU, and NATO allies coordinate better and set the line for Turkey not to act solely in its own interests but for the greater global interest. Israel is a good example of a member state being coerced to obey the rule of law and being sanctioned when it doesn’t.
If the International Community pay attention and take proper measures the damage can be repaired but if they behave as irresponsibly as in the past – like Russia has done – then the destruction will be greater than it is now. 5
Q. What is in it for former Prime Minister, Tansu Çiller, said to be one of Erdoğan ’s advisers?
A. The Turkish leaders, past and present, all have the same mind set and believe in Pan -Turkish power, Turkish strength and Islam. They don’t know the difference.
I knew Çiller and her husband Özer very well. She was working closely with Fethullah Gülen when she was in office as Prime Minister. She was meeting him in her office and this was broadcast on Turkish State Television. She was reading verses from the Koran and saying Islam should be the basis of power. She even met Qaddafi when Libya was under sanctions and she had to drive from Tunisia to Libya to meet him and she said he was a great leader and she was trying to gain people’s sympathy. The Turkish leaders have all been immoral like this and have double standards.6 Çiller was charged with corruption but instead of justice being done politics were set above the law and she got to keep her ill gotten wealth, just the same as Demirel did.
Tansu Ciller (C) with Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Abdullah Gul (L), 1996. Photo: hurriyet.com.tr
A case was brought by a German court against Tansu Çiller for her involvement in drug trafficking. I gave interviews at the time on MED TV, ZDF, Turkish mainstream media and Evrensel, that effectively ran stories on it. Çiller’s government was after every influential Kurdish opponent.
Tansu Çiller’s husband, Özer Çiller, was working inside the Dutch Consulate in Istanbul to find a way to silence me by fabricating evidence to be used in a court in Holland, which was completely illegal. This is what they succeeded in doing. The proof of this can be seen in my case file and on the website of the BS Foundation.
When on a trip to Belgium in 1997, Tansu Çiller held a meeting with a man named Metin to cooperate with her men to assassinate me. They offered him money and a place in their party, DYP, and also quashing a case against him. He refused so they tried other means and I am still held hostage in Holland because of their intrigues.
Proof about this matter was given to the Dutch parliament, prosecutor’s office, the court, the police and they are still keeping silent and not doing anything about it. They didn’t even show any reaction. Nor did the ECHR – they serve the politicians for their own interests and not the rule of law. 7
Q. What about the role of the so-called “Free Syrian Army” acting as a Turkish military unit in Syria?
A. The main policy thrust of Turkey and its leaders has been to use Ottoman ideology so as to gain fundamentalist Islamist support for an Islamic Turkey to become a world power under the Islamic flag.
With this objective in their sights they created the Free Syrian Army and directly aided and empowered the rise of ISIS.
Erdoğan has been trying to manipulate the USA. He has also been trying to blackmail the EU over refugee issues, which he is partly responsible for creating in the first place. Erdoğan was the one who organised the Syrian refugee people to move them from the east of Turkey to the Aegean coast to go on to Greece. Then he threatened the EU that he would send more refugees. Erdoğan himself announced it to the public.
Europe next gave him six billion euros and with that money he reorganised terror groups, Liwa al-Tawhid, Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam linked with the former al-Nusra Front, ISIS and others. He has organised them under the Free Syrian Army. Some fighters changed allegiance from al-Nusra to ISIS. They have been recycled back through Turkey. 8
Look at the UN report and at what former US Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, Brett McGurk, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour concerning ISIS in mid-January this year. He said, the Turkish border with Syria that is not under Kurdish control is controlled by Syrian Al Qaeda.
We know that their new name is the Free Syrian Army that is operating in Turkish military uniform, a member of NATO.9 Some others among them are dressed in ISIS uniform. Look at the picture. Only the Turkish Army was said to be there, but the pictures show otherwise – the so-called FSA and ISIS.
If the EU and the civilised world want to play the game, then destruction will be brought about through the EU’s carelessness. ISIS has sold Yazidi Kurdish girls as sex slaves, raped them, impregnated them, and brainwashed teenagers in Western countries to join them and participate in suicide bombings and massacres, and the destruction of cities, towns, villages, as well as world heritage sites, churches, mosques and ancient monuments. They kill those that follow other religions and murder other Muslims for being less rigid. So, how can such people be ‘rehabilitated’ and repatriated, or allowed back into civilised society when they firmly and blindly believe that their actions are sanctioned under Sharia law?
Erdoğan wants to create a ‘security corridor’ in Kurdish territory and annihilate the Kurds. As all means justify the ends, just one example has been deploying ISIS fighters and sending them into Afrin under the guise of AFAD, pretending to deliver aid to refugees in the camps10 while re-populating the area with Islamic extremists.
“I cannot understand and do not believe that it is acceptable to any civilised person, that the whole world is talking about how to deal with these killer-criminals rather than talking about how to be helpful to their victims and dealing with the destruction they have been responsible for.”
It is disturbing for me to follow the news in Western Europe focusing on what to do with some 800 ISIS militants imprisoned by the Kurdish forces as if those 800 people are the sole problem. That is a crazy view. They are already in prison but where are the tens of thousands of others? How are you going to deal with the basis of this madness which is Islamic extremism? This is the core of the problem. So wake up and get real, people!
BBC Persian correspondent, Jiyar Gol, said in a recent interview with the BBC World Service that he had been observing such conduct on the part of the Turkish government and its military in Syria over the past two years. The town of Manbij was strategically important to Erdogan’s Islamicisation drive as it is not Kurdish. Here he could concentrate and organise Islamic extremist militants, circulate them through the Kurdish-held areas to bring terror and force the Kurdish people to flee, altering Kurdish demographics 11 – a policy pursued within Turkey in the 1990s in the destruction and forced migration of Kurds from more than 3000 villages, aimed at destroying support for the PKK. In Syria, altering the demographics is aimed at destroying support for the YPG.
Erdoğan has been abusing NATO to implement this Islamicisation policy. 12
All this information has been available to the USA, UN, NATO and EU forces. Now the three tyrants – Erdogan, Putin and Rouhani, – seem to be being given a free hand to map out the future for Syrian territory according to their respective interests. The Telegraph newspaper asked how this can possibly work.
A great concentration of jihadist groups is still present in Idlib, including the renamed former Nusra Front. Erdogan’s policy is to see the defeated ISIS and other jihadist fighters gather there unharmed to continue their work.
A recent meeting was hosted on 14 February 2019 by Putin in Sochi in Russia’s Black Sea region. Putin was reported to have told Erdogan he had “no right to create a “safe zone” inside Syria unless it sought and received the consent of President Bashar al-Assad, signaling tensions as a three-way summit on the Syrian conflict began…” 13
Putin knows more than anyone how Erdoğan has organised and financed ISIS and sent them across the Turkish border into Syria and Iraq. Erdoğan also bought their petrol to finance them. This is no secret. But the civilised world is not doing anything about it.
Let me read out a piece from an article for you: On 16 September 2016, journalist, Nafeez Ahmed, “published an exclusive investigation into Turkish state-sponsorship of jihadist groups in Syria, including the Islamic State (ISIS): ‘Whistle-blower exposes how NATO’s leading ally is arming and funding ISIS 14.’…The story is based largely on interviews with a top Turkish police whistle-blower, Ahmet Yayla — former Chief of Counterterrorism in the Turkish National Police — but includes analysis of other public record sources and documents…
The author noted that Halis Bayancuk (right), the emir of ISIS in Turkey and son of Haci Bayancuk, a founding member of the Turkish Hizbullah (Hezbollah) is pictured here during an arrest by Turkish police. He is not handcuffed. Ahmet Yayla explains that under Erdogan, ISIS operatives have such free reign they are never handcuffed by Turkish police if they are arrested, 2015. Photo: hurriyet.com.tr 15
Nafeez Ahmed also explained how there is a “direct line of descent between TH (Turkish Hezbollah), al-Qaeda and ISIS…Halis Bayancuk, whose nom de guerre is Abu Hanzala, is the emir of ISIS in Turkey. Previously, Turkey’s state-run national public broadcaster, TRT, identified Bayancuk as the head of al-Qaeda’s Turkey branch. But Bayancuk is also the son of Haci Bayancuk, one of the founding members of TH”.
Nafeez Ahmet emphasized that: “If Yayla’s claims are correct, then the current head of Turkey’s powerful MIT under Erdogan is a member of the al-Qaeda affiliated Turkish Hizbullah, responsible for countless murders …in the 1990s.”
Nafeez Ahmet also observed – as we have been doing – that “NATO, it seems, has no interest in investigating the systematic sponsorship of ISIS from within the very heart of the alliance.”16 He received formal threats thereafter. 17
Even when Erdoğan passes on, other war criminals like him will still be there. This policy has to be stopped. The extremists that justify mass murder and the execution of Christians, Yazidis, non-Sunni Muslims and other targets continue to recruit fresh blood. A survey carried out in Turkey in 2015 indicated that 21% of the Turkish population did not consider ISIS to be a terrorist organisation and 8.9% believed the group is actually a country or state.18 Probably, that number is even higher now.
Q. And in the short term? What solutions exist to protect Kurdish people?
A. Many would not agree with captured PKK leader, Abdullah Öcalan’s, ideology but no alternatives were provided by the EU or anyone else, so now he is held prisoner and has no freedom to say anything nor even to talk with his lawyers or family. Turkey is claiming he is saying things when we don’t know if what they circulate is true or not.
Öcalan’s family cannot visit him properly in accordance with EU rules to which Turkey is signatory. They do not accord Öcalan the rights to which he is entitled, so because he doesn’t have free access to the outside world we don’t know his real circumstances and it is not ethical to criticise him when we know that he is in a very difficult situation. Kurdish people should do everything possible to help him, but Kurdish people also need to reorganise themselves.
The Kurds need to unify and align with the US, the EU, and with Israel to see that the United States of Kurdistan be established. These players also have to help to bring about a solution for the Palestinian problem.
In Iraqi Kurdistan, the KDP and PUK should finally unify their respective peshmerga forces and stop being used as pawns by Turkey and Iran. Both countries should be compelled to get out of Kurdish land. Lacking a state of their own, the Kurds have been left without protection for the past century. Unless they have a state, this persecution will continue.
Cooperation with neighbours is important but these countries need to change their rule of law and not rely on Islamic law dating from the 7th century – that doesn’t fit with today’s needs. No human being can tell me it is OK to bury human beings in the ground up to their necks and kill them with stones; to behead journalists, teachers, doctors and other professionals and burn people alive. This is mentally indefensible and is a deep sickness. It is what Sharia law is all about.
UN member states must insist that the countries and groups behind this barbarity respect basic human rights. Well, Sharia law is violating basic human rights. That is sufficient cause to forbid it. No nation state should be allowed to operate according to Sharia law any more than according to the Old testament or the Torah. Nation states are not being ruled according to the Bible and should not be ruled according to the Koran either. No country should be ruled by Sharia law – not Iran, and not Turkey – but Erdoğan is putting his fingers up to everyone saying, “Rabia is our guiding power and Islam is the rule of law.”
What is the difference between Erdoğan, Bin Laden and Al-Baghdadi and the countries ruled by Sharia law? What is ‘moderate Islam’?
Don’t fool yourself – it does not exist! Anyone says ‘they are moderate’ – really, there is no ‘moderate’ Islam. You believe in the Koran or you don’t, but Sharia law should not be allowed to rule any country or to be imposed upon any other country.
Civilised nations have made use of civil law and should be open and flexible to change, but religion is fixed.
Click on map to enlarge. Kurdish populated areas of Greater Kurdistan, 2019. Photo: Google Maps
The United States of Kurdistan (USK) must be realised19 to stop all these excuses and help to prevent the further expansion of the Islamicisation policy.
People must have the right to worship and follow their own religion but Sharia law should not be allowed to control the state. People adhering to any belief can have the right to worship accordingly and be protected but not to use their religion so as to impose their religion on others.
The USA has enjoyed a successful partnership with Kurdish forces in Syria. This good relationship must continue. A year ago, the US military warned the Kurdish forces against pursuing relations with Russia and Assad’s regime saying that they could not work with them if they were also seeking relations with them. I fully agree with this view. However, then the USA must agree with the Kurds for full allied partnership and not leave them vulnerable. When Turks, or others attack the Kurds, the USA must support and protect the Kurds. Then the Kurds would not be in need of getting together with Russia, with the Assad regime or with anyone else. Let us be reasonable and realistic.
The Kurdish forces were the only group present that did not run away from the mediaeval slaughterers flying the banners of ISIS but checked their advance with their own blood. The PYD and its fighting battalions, the YPG and women’s group, the YPJ that were supported until now by the US and the Coalition, single-handedly stopped ISIS from sustaining their grip on Syria – a fact Erdoğan detests. Potentially abandoned by an inconsistent, US leader, these Kurds are still facing ISIS fighters that are being recycled in Turkish military uniform.
ISIS fighters deployed by the Turkish State under Erdogan’s policy of Islamicisation. Photo: Reuters/Twitter/@Gargame34330169
Thousands of ISIS (and other jihadist) militants remain at large – they have not been imprisoned and many were just trucked into Idlib; they have not been prosecuted and are free to continue their radicalisation drive in parallel to Erdogan’s Islamicisation objectives. A large majority of these criminals are directly responsible for the merciless execution of innocent civilians and the rape and brutalisation of women and girls sold like potatoes in the market and shared about among ISIS commanders. What of the fate of the hordes of unfortunate children born from this terrible union?
Q. Women and girls have little if any protection under Sharia law and the countries which adhere to it. Even in Turkey, women’s rights are eroding at a great pace since Erdoğan came to power. Since regime change in Iraq, women have lost fundamental rights and freedoms that they enjoyed under the secular Ba’ath regime; in Iran, everyone knows their fate under ISIS conditions have been extreme. How can Kurdish women be emancipated and protected?
A. After 630 AD with the occupation of Kurdistan by Caliph Omer and the forceful imposition of Islam on the Kurds, this brought division and a destructive culture amongst Kurds in all parts of Kurdistan, and in particular, women’s lives became much worse than ever before. Before Islamicisation, there was no difference between men and women’s lifestyle in Kurdistan. In fact, many of the Kurdish tribes were led by women.
To be able to reinforce Kurdish culture in the daily life of the Kurdish nation women must be empowered as a first step. So Islam must not have any role in governing Kurdistan or anywhere else in the world. The role of women in civilised society is very important and when women are in power they can do better than the situation that we are in now. It is very important that the Kurds do everything possible, as they are doing in some parts now, to reorganise their way of life based on Kurdish culture and not Islamicisation. So women have to be empowered and this in turn will bring about a better lifestyle for all of the Kurds.
Q. But how to prevent Erdoğan from continuing as he is now?
A. NATO, the EU, and the various European institutions in which Turkey enjoys membership must hold Erdoğan accountable for helping Jihadist groups carry out these crimes, including sanctioned underly q and Palmyra in Syriass.rrible union?e to be processed. Protests ensued across the country.cldued nd are conthose from ISIS now dressed in Turkish uniform.
Why should Turkey be permitted to continue to retain one foot in NATO while the other supports Islamic terrorism? Numerous photographs provide proof of Turkish fighters from ISIS20 that have gone on to impose the Turkish language on their captives21 and of fighters that have changed sides going from al-Nusra to ISIS and still being recycled through the Turkish army. Turkish has been used as a primary recruitment language, including to recruit Turkish women jihadists.22 Many have been captured in Iraq and Syria.
Afrin was peaceful: Erdoğan had no justification to invade, installing jihadist forces with the army, unleashing terror on the Kurdish population there – it was one of the most stable areas of Syria – an historic Kurdish enclave in a sea of Arabs. But this is not an ethnic conflict – Kurds and Arabs have been working together in the Democratic Syrian Forces and are continuing to do so with Coalition support, sorting out the problem of jihadist women and their children, including the orphans brought into Al Hol camp. Now they have the task of detaining and providing sustenance to the IS remnants fleeing from Al-Baghouz in Deir ez-Zor governorate close to the frontier of Syria and Iraq. The Coalition forces must fulfil their obligations.
The Kurds ought to be protected by the Coalition and ISIS or others like them and their supporters like Erdogan must be tried in court to pay for the crimes they have committed.
International Criminal Court , The Hague, Netherlands, 2016. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
For his leading role in war crimes, Erdoğan should be made to stand trial in the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Others have stood trial there for far less serious crimes than him.
Putin is using Erdoğan to destroy NATO. Well, what are you going to replace it with when you’ve destroyed the existing force established to protect stability in the world?
Are you going to reorganise sick militants from al-Qaeda, ISIS, al-Nusra or whatever their name is and rename them the “Free Syrian Army” or something else to replace NATO’s position? Is that the plan? Maybe it sounds funny, but surely this is the way it is going…
the Iraqi Ba’ath regime through the late 1980s, Kurdish rebellion was
intended to be crushed through genocidal policies of annihilation, known
as the Anfal campaign.
5 See more at https://www.law.upenn.edu/live/files/7539-turkey-nato-1192018
6 See more at http://www.dusun-think.net/dosya/kutuphane/dun-bugun-yarin-eng-web.pdf
7 See more at https://ekurd.net/turkish-killing-list-kurds-2017-07-27
8 See ISIS former commander interview with the Independent 7.02.2018 “Turkey is recruiting and retraining Isis fighters to lead its invasion of the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northern Syria, according to an ex-Isis source. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/turkey-isis-afrin-syria-kurds-free-syrian-army-jihadi-video-fighters-recruits-a8199166.html
12 Turkey’s support to Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, also shows the duplicity of Erdogan’s regime. The US has pressured Turkey to cease its support for al-Nusra, and US officials have been clear that its “rebranding to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and more recently to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) has not changed the perception of the group in Washington. JPost https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Erdogan-Trumps-fixer-against-ISIS-in-Syria-Are-you-laughing-575661
21 https://www.publications.atlanticcouncil.org/islamic-state-networks-in-turkey/ ISIS’s rise in Turkey closely followed on the group’s successes in Syria and Iraq. However, the group’s cross-border infrastructure, which is used to ferry recruits and supplies to the caliphate from Turkey, is built on decades-old al-Qaeda and like-minded jihadist networks based in numerous Turkish cities, and was previously used as a secondary route for jihadists to join the Iraq jihad during the US occupation between 2003 and 2011. From the outset of the conflict in Syria, Turkish citizens travelled back and forth, oftentimes joining with Turkish-speaking sub-groups in larger, anti-regime opposition groups, the two most prominent of which are Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (Syria’s rebranded al-Qaeda affiliate, previously named Jabhat al-Nusra, or the Nusra Front) and the Salafi Ahrar al-Sham. With the rise of ISIS in 2013, Turks began to travel to the caliphate, where they joined with Turkish-speaking units, complete with Turkish imams and military trainers. The available open-source evidence points to a slight difference in Turkish ISIS and al-Qaeda members. In the case of the latter, the fighters tend to be older, whereas Turkish ISIS members are younger. However, there are exceptions, underscoring the need for more data to draw definitive conclusions about “typical” Turkish ISIS members…
Sheri Laizer, a Middle East and North African expert specialist and well known commentator on the Kurdish issue. She is a senior contributing writer for Ekurd.net. More about Sheri Laizer see below.
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