30/11/2015 - 12:26 0
The Open Secret of Turkey-Islamic State Group Collaboration

Kurdish resistance in Rojava, especially during the Kobanê war, helped unmask this Fautsian pact between Turkey and the Islamic State group.

The expansion of  Islamic State group terror is buttressed by the unhesitant support of Turkey, along with some other states.

From the beginning of the civil war in Syria, Turkey’s AKP government has been in pursuit of a foreign policy informed and motivated by its exclusionary mindset with regards to its ethnic and religious communities, as well as progressive/revolutionary groups in Turkey. The AKP government, in order to repress and counter any political gains of the Kurds, who are building a radical-democratic political project in Syria, supports any kind of radical group, including the Islamic State group, the Nusra Front , etc.

Why Turkey Supports the Islamic State Group

The revival of a neo-Ottoman approach of the AKP government, which basically implies becoming a regional hegemon, together with the historically rooted social-political questions in Turkey has driven the government toward a strategically designed regressive policy which some suggest is on the brink of collapse.

Before the so called “Arab Spring,” Turkey’s foreign minister at the time, Ahmet Davutoğlu, introduced a new, more aggressive foreign policy intended to dominate the region. By considering themselves as the “big brother” of the region, the AKP believed that Turkey could be a hegemonic state to coordinate the region together with Western imperialist powers. Based on this reasoning, the AKP implemented a two-faced policy. On the one hand, Turkey has intervened in the countries in the region through a set of Islamist organizations, from different branches of the Muslim Brotherhood to extremist jihadist organizations, in order to reshape the political formation of the region in their best interests, from 2007 onwards. On the other hand, the AKP government tried to build good relations with regional powers in order to advance Turkey’s economic and cultural influence, which has been described as “Turkish soft power” by current Prime Minister Davutoğlu in his controversial book called “Strategic Depth” (Stratejik Derinlik). This policy of the AKP Government was backed by Western imperialist powers until late 2012, as they have been seeking an alternative to radical/political Islam in the country.

However, firstly the developments in Egypt and Tunisia in the context of so-called “Arab Spring,” and secondly the civil war in Syria, dramatically changed everything for the AKP in the region, as well as with their relations with imperialist powers by making their engagement/collaboration with terrorist/jihadist organizations visible. 

Turkey excessively supported facilitated and collaborated with various jihadist groups, including the Islamic State group, in order to shape the future of Syria in line with its interests. Ironically, the Turkey-Islamic State group collaboration has surfaced partly thanks to the division of imperialist powers into camps over the war in Syria. During the G20 summit in Turkey, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who doesn’t want to lose his last ally in the Mediterranean region, Bashar Assad, mentioned some 40 countries that support Daesh, one of which, as the world has come to learn afterward, is Turkey.

As mentioned above, the Kurdish question in Turkey is a determinant factor for Turkey’s foreign policy since the formation of the republic. Therefore, Turkish diplomacy is indexed to categorically prevent any kind of Kurdish political advancement. This is observable both in Iraqi Kurdistan following the U.S. invasion in Iraq and in Rojava (West Kurdistan, Northern Syria), where the Kurds have gained the world’s attention with their heroic resistance followed by a historic victory against the Islamic State group in Kobanê. Since any kind of political advancement of the Kurds elsewhere would catalyze the Kurdish struggle in North Kurdistan (Eastern Turkey) against Turkey, the blockade of the Kurds internationally, became a top priority for the Turkish state.

In this regard, the first aspect of the Kurdish resistance against the Islamic State group vis-a-vis the Turkey-Islamic State group collaboration is that the AKP government carried out a proxy war against Rojava Kurds via the Islamist terror group in order to block or at least contain a Kurdish success in Syria. The AKP government is also responsible for Islamic State group attacks against the Kurds and leftists in Turkey for not conducting an effective investigation despite all the evidences. The Islamic State group carried out three bomb attacks; in Diyarbakır during an electoral rally of pro-Kurdish-Leftist HDP; in Suruç, a town on the Turkey-Syria Border; and in Ankara during a peace march.

The second is that the Kurdish resistance in Rojava unmasked this dirty collaboration, especially during the Kobanê war. In fact, Turkey’s collaboration with and utilization of jihadist groups, particularly against the Kurds, had not started with the Islamic State group and had not come out from nowhere. It has done in the scope of their interventionist approach to the Middle-East and can be dated back to the beginning of 2011 when they supported another jihadist group, the Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaida, which is no less cruel than the Islamic State group. Following an internal split within the Nusra Front, it was replaced by the Islamic State group, which has been carrying out attacks on the liberated Kurdish land since then with the help of the AKP government. The AKP-Islamic State group collaboration will continue as long as one needs the other. But there is a balance of terror here for Turkey, created by Turkey: in the case that it stops its collaboration with the Islamic State group, it is quite likely the terror group will turn on them, since the only gate for its logistic needs is the Turkish border.

How Turkey Supports Islamic State Group

Turkey is in collaboration with the Islamic State group both politically and ideologically, which expands on many channels as it has been listed with details by David L. Phillips in Huffington Post. The Islamic State group served Turkish interests militarily by fighting the Kurds, while the AKP government facilitated the murderous campaign of the Islamic State group logistically and financially. The AKP government provided military equipments to the group as well. Three trucks full of weapons stopped in Adana region on Jan. 19,2014. Despite the denial of the government, it has been clear that these weapons would be delivered to the Islamic State group. According to many surfaced documents and media coverage, in addition to these three, there were many other trucks of weapons delivered to the Islamic State group, which were also supported by videos and photos taken by Kurdish YPG and YPJ fighters. Moreover, Turkish soil was used by Saudis for the transportation of arms to the Islamic State group.

The AKP government has also facilitated the border crossing of newly recruited Islamic State group members according to a document signed by Interior minister of the time Muammer Güler on June 13, 2014. It has also been asserted by international media that the Erdogan government has turned a blind eye to the “gateway to jihad” through the country’s border with Syria. Many official amendments and questions in the Parliament of Turkey issued by opposition parties for the official answer of the government concerning the facilitation of border-crossing for jihadists remained unanswered. Among many other unanswered questions, HDP Member of Parliament Ibrahim Ayhan tabled a question for the interior minister if the the government provided Islamic State group members with shelter in the refugee camp in Akçakale district.

Islamic State group fighters, including high ranking commanders, received medical care and were treated in the hospitals of the border cities of Turkey. Turkish journalist Fehim Taştekin claims that the government allowed the purchase and the sale of oil from the territory occupied by the Islamic State group. Moreover, according to other sources, some of President Erdoğan’s family members are involved in the trade of Islamic State group oil.

In addressing this, it is critical to keep in mind that an international military intervention will serve nothing but the reinforcement of the Islamic State group and similar terrorist groups. Instead, supporting the forces on the ground that fight for their land and freedom will be of upmost efficiency.

Ultimately, being in permanent solidarity with the unique radical-democratic experience in Rojava, in the middle of a region full of violence and atrocities, is a responsibility for the entire globe and the best way to move forward.

Yasin Sunca is a Kurdish political activist and independent researcher. Follow him on Twitter @kurdeditir

This piece was originally published on

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