The controversial Turkish President announced in speech earlier today that his government has “confirmed evidence” that the US supports ISIS and other terrorist groups active in Syria
Ever since the Islamic State (ISIS) rose to prominence, many journalists and researchers have tried to uncover just how they were able to transform from an obscure jihadist group to a surprisingly well-funded global force of terror. One of the first governments connected to the rise of ISIS was Turkey, led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan. What was suspected, and later confirmed by leaked emails from the President’s son, was that Turkey was helping fund ISIS by laundering crude oil that had originated in ISIS-held territories.
Since those accusations first emerged, much has changed in Turkey. For example, a failed military coup attempted to depose Erdogan this past July, which he wasted no time in blaming on the United States. Though the US could have been involved – due to the nation’s proclivity for clandestine coups – Erdogan had, up until that point, been considered a strong US ally in the region. They had even been helping the US military launch their incredibly inefficient bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria. Whether the US was involved or not, something changed that day that has led Erdogan to wobble between alliances with the Kremlin and the White House – apparently, unsure of which group more strongly favors his interests.
Now, however, it appears that Erdogan has decided to burn any and all bridges with the United States as his most recent speech, delivered this morning in Ankara, directly accused the US-led coalition in Syria of supporting terrorist groups including ISIS. “They give support to terrorist groups including ISIS,” Erdogan declared, adding that the US coalition gives “support to terrorist groups including Daesh, YPG, and PYD. It’s very clear. We have confirmed evidence, with pictures, photos, and videos.” Erdogan’s assertions essentially confirm the contents of a declassified Pentagon report from May of last year, which stated that ISIS was created as a Pentagon tool for overthrowing Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. For those who have been paying attention to the Syria crisis, there is no denying that the ultimate US goal, from the very beginning, has been Assad’s removal from power.
Why would Erdogan choose to do this now? The key to answering this question is Erdogan’s mention of the groups “PYD” and “YPG.” The PYD is Syria’s Kurdish political party whose militia was responsible for several of ISIS’ first defeats. YPG, also known as the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, is Syria’s kurdish militia faction – who have been battling ISIS rather successfully for years. Though the group has received US support, Erdogan is the only one accusing them of terrorism and they are, by no means, in the same category as ISIS. Erdogan mentioned these groups alongside ISIS, however, because he is at war with the Kurds, not just in Syria, but within Turkey as well.
Erdogan’s crackdown on Kurds within Turkey is a witch hunt if there every was one. The Kurds, who lead Turkey’s third-largest political party, have been targeted in Turkey for years with many of their leaders jailed just for their ethnic background. In May, a Kurdish college student in Turkey was even charged with spreading terror propaganda just for speaking in the Kurdish language. In February of this past year, a furious Erdogan demanded that the US choose between Turkey and the Syrian Kurds. Since then, he has been bombing the Syrian Kurds on a regular basis. Though the US managed to appease him after that warning, it seems like Erdogan has finally decided which side to take in the Syria conflict.
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