Jan 12, 2016, A suicide bomber blew himself up in Sultanahmet Square, Istanbul, killing 10 and wounding 15. President Erdogan and his deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş, a bit too quick to point fingers, blamed the attack on a Syrian. It turned out later that the bomber was a Saudi born Nabil Fadli with possible links to ISIS.
Chickens coming home to roost!
It is not surprising that Turkey is becoming a victim of its own aggression against Syria. Ankara’s quiet support for ISIS and other Jihadists, has long been an open secret. Turkey’s border with Syria has been an open highway for jihadists flocking to join ISIS. In January 2014, Syria-bound trucks, carrying cargo of missiles, rockets, and ammunition were escorted by Turkish intelligence officers. In July 2015, Turkey launched several waves of airstrikes against Kurdish separatist group who were fighting ISIS. On November 24, 2015, after Russia got involved in Syrian conflict to help their man in Syria, Turkey shot down a Russian airplane for allegedly crossing into their airspace.
Turkey has also been caught buying smuggled Syrian oil from the ISIS terrorists. Erdogan had stated that if the above charge was ever proven, he would resign. It turns out Turkey was indeed buying smuggled Syrian oil. Russia’s Defense Ministry has provided satellite imagery and videos showing ISIS trucks routinely crossing between the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa and Turkey.
Syria’s envoy to the UN accused Turkey of supporting ISIS in order to “revive” the Ottoman Empire. Allying with bad partners eventually yields bad results. By supporting ISIS, Erdogan is no doubt making the same grave error that General Zia made in supporting Taliban in Pakistan. Zia too had fanciful dreams. He wanted a grand empire in Central Asia which he hoped his pet terrorists would help him acquire.
In this comedy of errors, Erdoğan’s adventurism risks the destruction of Turkey. Erdogan had given a hospitable welcome to more than 2 million refugees expecting Asaad to fall quickly. He never did. The Syrian conflict resulted in the emergence of a Kurdish entity on Turkey’s border. A serious threat to Turkey’s own territorial integrity. The Russians then moved in to help Asaad. And now, adding insult over injury, ISIS has shown its true colors on the streets of Istanbul. Is Erdogan scratching his head, yet?