FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Is Turkey Colluding with ISIS?

Mystery surrounds the surprise release of 49 Turkish diplomats and their families held captive for three months by Isis. The Turkish government is denying any deal with the hostage-takers, making it unclear why Isis, notorious for its cruelty and ruthlessness, should hand over its Turkish prisoners on Saturday without a quid pro quo.

Hailed in Ankara as a triumph for Turkey, the freeing of the diplomats seized when Mosul fell to Isis on 10 June raises fresh questions about the relationship between the Turkish government and Isis. The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the release is the result of a covert operation by Turkish intelligence that must remain a secret.

He added on Sunday that “there are things we cannot talk about. To run the state is not like running a grocery store. We have to protect our sensitive issues; if you don’t there would be a price to pay.” Turkey denies that a ransom was paid or promises made to Isis.

The freeing of the hostages comes at the same moment as 70,000 Syrian Kurds have fled across the border into Turkey to escape an Isis offensive against the enclave of Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, which has seen the capture of many villages.

The assault on Kobani is energising Kurds throughout the region with 3,000 fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) based in Iraq’s Qandil mountains reported to be crossing from Iraq into Syria and heading for Kobani.

The Turkish security forces closed the border for a period on Sunday after clashes between them and the refugees. They fired tear gas and water after stopping Kurds taking aid to Kobani according to one account, or because stones were thrown at them as they pushed back crowds of Kurdish onlookers, according to another. Most of those crossing are women, children and the elderly, with men of military age staying behind to fight.

Many Kurds are expressing bitterness towards the Turkish government, claiming that it is colluding with Isis to destroy the independent enclaves of the Syrian Kurds, who number 2.5 million, along the Turkish border. The pro-Kurdish Amed news agency asks “if Isis [is] the paramilitary wing of the of the neo-Ottomanism project of Turkey in the Middle East?” The Turkish government vehemently denies any collaboration with Isis.

Nevertheless, the strange circumstances of both the capture of the 49 Turks and their release shows that Ankara has a different and more intimate relationship with Isis than other countries. Pro-Isis Turkish websites say that the Turks were released on the direct orders of “the caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. They had been moved to Raqqa, the Syrian headquarters of Isis from Mosul, and both men and women were well-dressed and appeared to have suffered little harm from their imprisonment. This is in sharp contrast to the treatment of Alan Henning, the British taxi driver seized when taking aid to Syria, and of the journalists who have been ritually murdered by Isis.

Patrick Cockburn’s new book is The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising.

More articles by:

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
January 24, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
A Letter From Iowa
Jim Kavanagh
Aftermath: The Iran War After the Soleimani Assassination
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Camp by the Lake
Chuck Churchill
The Long History of Elite Rule: What Will It Take To End It?
Robert Hunziker
A Climate Time Bomb With Trump’s Name Inscribed
Andrew Levine
Trump: The King
James Graham
From Paris, With Tear Gas…
Rob Urie
Why the Primaries Matter
Dan Bacher
Will the Extinction of Delta Smelt Be Governor Gavin Newsom’s Environmental Legacy?
Ramzy Baroud
In the Name of “Israel’s Security”: Retreating US Gives Israel Billions More in Military Funding
Vijay Prashad
What the Right Wing in Latin America Means by Democracy Is Violence
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Biden’s Shameful Foreign Policy Record Extends Well Beyond Iraq
Louis Proyect
Isabel dos Santos and Africa’s Lumpen-Bourgeoisie
Nick Pemberton
AK-46: The Case Against Amy Klobuchar
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Promtheus’ Fire: Climate Change in the Time of Willful Ignorance
Linn Washington Jr.
Waiting for Justice in New Jersey
Ralph Nader
Pelosi’s Choice: Enough for Trump’s Impeachment but not going All Out for Removal
Ted Rall
If This is a Democracy, Why Don’t We Vote for the Vice President Too?
Mike Garrity – Jason Christensen
Don’t Kill 72 Grizzly Bears So Cattle Can Graze on Public Lands
Joseph Natoli
Who’s Speaking?
Kavaljit Singh
The US-China Trade Deal is Mostly Symbolic
Cesar Chelala
The Coronavirus Serious Public Health Threat in China
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Must Remain Vigilant and on Guard Against US Hybrid Warfare
Robert Fantina
Impeachment as a Distraction
Courtney Bourgoin
What We Lose When We Lose Wildlife
Mark Ashwill
Why Constructive Criticism of the US is Not Anti-American
Daniel Warner
Charlie Chaplin and Truly Modern Times
Manuel Perez-Rocha
How NAFTA 2.0 Boosts Fossil Fuel Polluters, Particularly in Mexico
Dean Baker
What Minimum Wage Would Be If It Kept Pace With Productivity
Mel Gurtov
India’s Failed Democracy
Thomas Knapp
US v. Sineneng-Smith: Does Immigration Law Trump Free Speech?
Winslow Myers
Turning Point: The new documentary “Coup 53”
Jeff Mackler
U.S. vs. Iran: Which Side are You On?
Sam Pizzigati
Braggadocio in the White House, Carcinogens in Our Neighborhoods
Christopher Brauchli
The Company Trump Keeps
Julian Vigo
Why Student Debt is a Human Rights Issue
Ramzy Baroud
These Chains Will Be Broken
Chris Wright
A Modest Proposal for Socialist Revolution
Thomas Barker
The Slow Death of European Social Democracy: How Corbynism Bucked the Trend
Nicky Reid
It’s Time to Bring the War Home Again
Michelle Valadez
Amy Klobuchar isn’t Green
David Swanson
CNN Poll: Sanders Is The Most Electable
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Our Dire Need for “Creative Extremists”—MLK’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”
Robert Koehler
FBI, King and the Tremors of History
Jill Richardson
‘Little Women’ and the American Attitude Toward Poverty
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail