by David Boyajian, …for Veterans Today
First published … September 5, 2021
As America leaves Afghanistan and the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, it’s worthwhile to consider the countries that sponsor global terrorism and Washington’s response to them. One country stands out: Turkey.
NATO is purportedly a bulwark against attacks on Western civilization. Yet NATO member Turkey has long supported ISIS and numerous other anti-Western terrorist organizations. Turkey has been arming terrorists and sending them into countries such as Syria, Libya, and Azerbaijan.
For example, in 2020 Turkey transported terrorist mercenaries into Azerbaijan, which then deployed them against Armenian-populated Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabagh. These included former ISIS commander Sayf Balud and war criminals such Fehim Isa of the Sultan Murad Brigade.
One hundred bipartisan members of Congress (2021) and the European Union Parliament (2020) have condemned Turkey and Azerbaijan for that.
In contrast, the State Department has said little and done nothing about those two countries’ blatant use of terrorist thugs. Does Washington still have a Global War on Terrorism?
The U.S. is concerned that ISIS-K (an ISIS affiliate) and Al-Qaeda will remain in Afghanistan after America departs and become a threat to America. Hence, Turkey’s support for ISIS and other terrorists is relevant to the Afghan debacle.
Moreover, Turkish President Erdogan just admitted that he’s comfortable talking to the Taliban “since Turkey has nothing against the Taliban’s beliefs.” The State Department has apparently not reacted to this stunning confession. That’s disturbing. Turkey’s terrorist record goes back years.
Turkey’s counterterrorism chief from 2010-13, Ahmet S. Yayla, says, “Turkey was a central hub for … over 50,000 ISIS foreign fighters, and the main source of ISIS logistical materials [including] IEDs, making Turkey and ISIS practically allies.” This makes NATO itself look like an ISIS supporter.
Two studies by veteran State Department adviser Dr. David L. Phillips, who now heads Columbia University’s Peace-building and Human Rights Program, exposed Turkey’s alliance with ISIS: ISIS-Turkey Links (2014) and Turkey-ISIS Oil Trade (2015/2016).
In 2014, Vice President Joe Biden told a Harvard audience that Turkey and others had been giving “hundreds of millions of dollars [and] tons of weapons” to Al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS. President Obama quickly papered over Turkey’s guilt by forcing Biden to apologize to Erdogan. Again, what happened to the Global War on Terrorism?
This year, in his exposé Turkey: A state sponsor of terrorism?, David Phillips noted that if a “non-NATO country behaved like Turkey, it would warrant designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.” In January and July, the U.S. Treasury Department fingered Turkey as a financial base for ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
America hasn’t penalized Turkey itself, however, but rather merely some Turkish individuals and companies. No wonder Washington’s efforts —assuming they’re sincere, which is questionable — have been largely ineffective.
Turkey’s longtime backing of terrorist groups raises fundamental questions about U.S. policy. Have the State Department and covert American actors actually been supporting terrorist organizations in certain cases?
More specifically, while Washington publicly opposes terrorism, do the State Department and CIA silently support terrorist violence that is somehow deemed in America’s interests or that targets countries and regimes considered unfriendly to the U.S.?
We must sadly conclude that the Global War on Terrorism has become a criminal fraud perpetrated on the American people, both civilians and our men and women in uniform, by persons whose names we can only guess.
As the U.S. departs Afghanistan, one wonders whether the blood and treasure spent there were in vain or part of something larger and more sinister.
David Boyajian’s primary foreign policy focus is the Caucasus. His work can be found at http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/David_Boyajian.