Thousands upon thousands of Islamic State recruits crossed Turkey on way to...

Thousands upon thousands of Islamic State recruits crossed Turkey on way to caliphate

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“Unlike the US and Europe, Erdogan didn’t seem so picky about who benefited from his largesse, often choosing conservative Islamist rebels, rather than moderates.”

The US wasn’t really “picky” either under Obama, and armed plenty of jihadis.

And Erdogan himself has dismissed any distinction between “extremists” and “moderates,” saying a Muslim is a Muslim. So why shouldn’t he arm Muslims who believe in an Islamic state, as he does?

“Istanbul terror attack: A bloody end to a grim year for Turkey,” by Nic Robertson, CNN, January 2, 2017 (thanks to Jerk Chicken):

(CNN)In Istanbul’s horrific New Year terror attack the message is clear: 2017 has begun, expect more of the same to come….

The year 2016 had already laid a terrible and bloody foundation of terrorist mayhem for Turkey’s citizens: Dozens of attacks, from Europe’s easternmost tip in Istanbul through to Turkey’s southern border with Syria.

At times last year it felt that barely a week went by between strikes, from a brazen gun and bomb raid at Istanbul’s main international airport to carnage on the city’s tourist-filled streets, to the assassination of Russia’s ambassador in the capital, Ankara, 12 days ago.

Such was the crescendo of attacks in the last few months of 2016 that the terror at Reina nightclub had a feeling of inevitability about it — if not there precisely, then someplace similar: upmarket, secular, serving alcohol.

Barely two months ago, the US State Department warned that “extremist groups are continuing aggressive efforts to attack US citizens in areas of Istanbul where they reside or frequent.”

In a year, Turkey has gone from popular tourist destination to disturbingly dependable terror venue. That’s not a reputation any country wants — and particularly not Turkey, with its economy struggling following an attempted coup last summer. This has not come out of nowhere.

There are two brands of terror targeting Turkey now: Kurdish and radical Islamist.

It would be easy to lay the blame for the growth of both at the feet of Turkey’s increasingly autocratic and powerful President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but that would be to oversimplify the upheaval underway in this once secular country.

Yet Erdogan shapes Turkey’s destiny more than any other single person….

In the early years of the Syrian uprising, Erdogan sought to unseat his onetime friend President Bashar al-Assad by backing Sunni rebels.

Unlike the US and Europe, Erdogan didn’t seem so picky about who benefited from his largesse, often choosing conservative Islamist rebels, rather than moderates.

As ISIS grew in strength, they profited from Turkey’s policy toward rebels. Thousands upon thousands of ISIS recruits transited Turkey on their way to the war.

Near-open borders allowed ISIS fighters and their weapons to pour across, and most damaging for Erdogan, resupply hubs, escape routes and safe houses to develop right under his nose.

Before the country belatedly tightened its border security, Turkey became riddled with ISIS….

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