Turkey and the Caliphate of IS: You Scratch my Back and……..

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“Turkey, however, did not join the 10 Arab countries that signed on to help build a coalition against IS at a meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, this past week, and has made it clear that it will not partake in military operations against IS. It is willing to provide humanitarian aid, and will in all likelihood offer clandestine support to U.S. efforts. The primary reason the Turks give for their reticence was their concern for the fate of 49 Turkish diplomatic and security personnel who were seized by IS when the group overran the Iraqi city of Mosul; they were released this past weekend. The hostage crisis was emblematic of all that has gone wrong for Turkey in Syria…………..”

Turkey bet on the Syrian rebels early on. In those heady early days of the Arab Uprisings of 2011, when they looked and sounded and smelled like an Arab Spring. Early on, the Turks started voicing support for the Syrian protests, then for the armed Syrian rebels. No doubt partly because they knew that a large portion of the protesters were Sunni fundamentalists of the kind Mr. Erdogan can be comfortable dealing with.

That was just before the nascent Syrian uprising was hijacked by Persian Gulf Wahhabi princes and their Salafi allies. Before it was bought with vast amounts of petroleum money flowing north from Saudi Arabia and Qatar and other places. Before it was quickly changed into a blatantly sectarian movement of hundreds of rival groups and gangs of Jihadis, quasi-Jihadis, and kidnappers fighting Assad and each other.
The Turkish government opened its borders to everyone who was heading into Syria to fight the Assad regime. Foreign volunteers from the Gulf, North Africa, and Europe flowed into Syria from the Turkish borders. As did weapons and money. If this Caliphate is selling Syrian (or Iraqi) oil, as some reports claim, then their only route for that would be through Turkey, with the cooperation of the authorities.
Meanwhile, the sources of volunteers and money for the Jihad were secure in their palaces in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Abu Dhabi. They were far away from the Syrian borders and hence felt shrapnel from the Syrian crisis, which they had converted into a sectarian civil war, would not touch them. They wanted to manage the Syrian war and shape its outcome to serve their interests even as starry eyed Western pundits waxed poetic about the war for democracy and freedom in Syria. Which is also what the Turks aimed for: to manage the Syrian war.

The Turks have been scratching the Jihadist backs for three years. Now ISIS have released the Turkish hostages from Mosul. No beheadings there, but then the Turkish hostages probably were all of the right religion and sect. Not surprising that the Turks are staying away from this new NATO campaign against the Caliphate, to the extent of refusing to “cooperate” with the air campaign.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum