Welcome to bizarro world.
That’s where Turkey, a notorious state sponsor of international terrorism, has the sheer gall to accuse Finland and Sweden of supporting terrorists.
Even more bizarre: Neither Finland, Sweden, the U.S., NATO, EU, nor any country or leader has, to my knowledge, pointed out Ankara’s glaring hypocrisy.
Turkey claims that Finland and Sweden host members of the PKK, the militant Kurdish organization that the U.S. and EU regard as terrorists. Both Nordic nations deny the charge.
Like many Europeans, however, Finns and Swedes sympathize with Kurds. Turkey has long repressed and ethnically cleansed the latter.
Regardless, Ankara is blocking uber-civilized Finland and Sweden from joining NATO.
The point is, who is Turkey to accuse others of terrorism?
No objective analyst disputes Turkey’s longtime sponsorship of ISIS and other terrorist groups.
- Turkey’s counterterrorism chief from 2010-2013, Ahmet S. Yayla, acknowledged in 2020 that “Turkey was a central hub for … over 50,000 ISIS foreign fighters, and the main source of ISIS logistical materials [including] IEDs, making Turkey and ISIS practically allies.”
- Terrorism expert/State Department adviser Dr. David L. Phillips directs Columbia University’s Peace-building and Human Rights Program. It has confirmed Turkey’s alliance with ISIS: ISIS-Turkey Links (2014) and Turkey-ISIS Oil Trade (2015-2016).
- The NY Times (2014): “Western intelligence officials … track ISIS oil shipments … into Turkey,” [which has] failed “to help choke off the oil trade.”
- In Turkey: A State Sponsor of Terrorism? (2021), Phillips again documents Ankara’s patronage of terrorists. If a “non-NATO country behaved like Turkey, it would warrant designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism,” like Iran and North Korea.
- The U.S. State and Treasury Departments (2021) say Turkey is a financial hub for ISIS/al-Qaeda. Yet Washington has penalized only a few Turkish individuals and companies, with minimal effect.
- In 2020, Turkey transported thousands of terrorist mercenaries to Azerbaijan to attack Armenian-populated Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabagh and Armenia. These included war criminal and former ISIS commander Sayf Balud and commanders of the Sultan Murad Brigade—several of them murderers and rapists.
So why aren’t the U.S./NATO/EU exposing Turkey’s terrorism hypocrisy over Finland/Sweden?
Partly because America and Europe are schizophrenic about ISIS and similar groups.
America’s phony global war on terrorism
While the West loudly condemns and occasionally battles such groups, it sometimes deems them to be militarily useful.
The State Department, for instance, quietly wants Turkish-backed terrorists (e.g. The Free Syrian Army (FSA)/Syrian National Army (SNA)) to help depose President Assad and push Russia out of Syria. There’s no other explanation for our nation’s tolerance of Ankara’s terrorist sponsorships. Assad is also aligned with Shiite powers that America loathes: Iran and Hezbollah.
‘The enemy (Turkish-backed terrorists) of our (America’s) enemies (Assad/Russia/Iran/Hezbollah) is our friend.’
The U.S. dislikes, however, Turkey’s targeting the pro-American, anti-ISIS, Kurdish YPG in Syria. Turkey insists that the YPG is an arm of the PKK. However, America usually lets Ankara have its way with Kurds anyway.
Elsewhere, the U.S. House and European Parliament criticized Turkey’s using terrorists against Armenians in 2020. Yet the West took no action against Turkey because Armenia, a Russian ally, lost the war. This advanced America’s and NATO’s strategy of penetrating the Caucasus.
In 2021, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee openly quizzed Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland about Turkey’s deploying terrorists in Azerbaijan. She refused to answer in public, again unmasking Washington’s tacit support for Turkish-backed terrorists.
Even when America and Europe genuinely disagree with Ankara’s demands/threats, they rarely push back with their own counter-demands/counter-threats.
Turkey’s nonstop, unhinged temper tantrums have always psychologically disarmed the West. Turks know that and exploit it.
And, despite the boasts of pro-Turkish sycophants, Turkey is not more important, and certainly not more powerful, than the U.S./NATO/EU.
Instead of pushing back against Turkey over the Finland/Sweden fuss, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg spinelessly implores us to empathize with Ankara’s demands. Meanwhile, Finnish and Swedish delegations have scampered off to Ankara to prostrate themselves before His Royal Highness, King Erdogan.
American Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Dr. Michael Rubin suggests instead that NATO threaten to ban Turkish Airlines, hurt Turkey’s already battered economy, and legitimately withhold certain classified documents/intelligence from Ankara.
Only rarely does the West counter Turkish mischief. Turkey has been—temporarily, anyway—kicked out of America’s F-35 jet program because it bought Russia’s S-400 missiles. Also, by applying economic penalties on Turkey, Washington won Pastor Andrew Brunson’s release in 2018. But these happened only because the Pentagon unequivocally insisted on it and because Evangelicals pressured the White House.
Whether it’s Turkey threatening Greek islands, making illegitimate claims over Mediterranean Sea energy deposits, threatening to release millions of Syrian refugees into Europe, or countless other examples of bullying, Western capitals habitually appease Ankara.
Why should our (and NATO’s) servicemen and servicewomen spill their blood fighting a largely phony Global War on Terrorism, especially when NATO member Turkey outright supports terrorism?
Frankly, when it comes to Turkey, Western countries behave like weaklings. What’s more, they don’t even realize it.
Welcome again to bizarro world.
David Boyajian’s primary foreign policy focus is the Caucasus. His work can be found at armeniapedia.org/wiki/David_Boyajian.