Sometimes I wonder which side Turkey takes in this war against terrorism in general and the ISLAMIC STATE, ISIS in particular. The shooting down of a Russian fighter jet earlier today, for allegedly violating Turkish airspace came as a huge shock to me, though Turkish authorities claim that several warnings were issued to the pilot before the jet was brought down, while the Russians claim that at the time the jet was shot down, it was still within Syrian airspace.
For starters, it is widely suspected that oil from fields controlled by ISIS passes through countries like Turkey to the outside world, while jihadists from different parts of the world and weapons going to ISIS enter Syria and Iraq from Turkey. Recall how some Turkish captives held by ISIS were freed while those from other countries (including from Jordan in the Mideast, in the case of the pilot who was torched) were beheaded or shot in the head (as with captured Iraqi soldiers), and you begin to wonder if there isn’t an unholy alliance between the state and the pseudo state in question here, besides the Sunni arm of Islam to which both subscribe and belong majorly.
In hitting at a Russian jet on a bombing campaign against ISIS strongholds in Syria (amongst other groups such as those opposed to President Bashar Al-Assad’s reign, as the western media would like to believe), Turkey has once again shown where it’s allegiance lies (and that is besides having no love lost for incumbent Syrian President Assad, whose toppling Turkey encouraged heavily at the start of the Syrian Spring, from when it was just a peaceful protest to when it became a full blown revolution, and a civil war), especially when you juxtapose that with how they frustrate military efforts of the Kurds to downgrade ISIS’ capabilities, not only by starving them of much needed military and non-military aid or blocking access to such, but even hitting at Kurdish held areas, even at sites from where the Peshmerga forces launch attacks against ISIS positions in parts of Kurdish controlled Iraq and Syria. It would appear that on the issue of the Kurds, the Erdoğan-led Turkish government and ISIS share a common goal (of annihilation), and therefore unlikely partners on that front, if not on many other fronts covertly or overtly.
NATO really has to review Turkey’s presence in its midst especially with a radical like President Tayyip Erdoğan, who has turned the gains made by secular founding fathers of Modern Turkey to a theocratic autocracy in the guise of “free market democracy” that exists only on paper, in the blinking of an eye. Athough NATO opposes Russia’s military activities in Syria, I doubt any of its members would have gone ahead to shoot down a Russian jet like Turkey has done this morning even if the jet was flying right in the middle of the country on its way to Syria, if not that Turkey intended to send a personal message with this strike, not only to Russia but also to ISIS as a country they could count on for some support howbeit symbolic.
This coming at a time a strong coalition is being built worldwide to tackle the jihadist group head on, especially following the recent outrageous attacks on France, Lebanon before it, Mali after it and other acts of terror worldwide spreading from the middle east, to East Africa, then to West Africa and Central Africa involving countries like Kenya, Somalia, Cameroun, Nigeria, Chad, Niger amongst others, perpetrated by Islamic Fundamentalist groups that have pledged allegiance to ISIS, such as Al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Ansar-Dine, and the latest Al-Mourabitoun group (responsible for the attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali).
If the war on ISIS is to be won with this renewed vigour by western powers and their allies (and also Russia), the situation with Assad must needs be buried for now, and any thought of animosity towards him for now be perished until we are out of the woods. I say this because if ISIS isn’t stopped and more countries are allowed to be enveloped in the web of terror spun by ISIS we will have no world to return to at the end of the day. Russia didn’t wake up just one day to begin to strike terrorist safe havens in Syria, it only bridged a lacuna left by the worlds’ only superpower, the U.S.A. and rather than praises, it has received only shellacking by the western powers and its media, simply because it has aligned itself with the Syrian regime, which the west would have none of.
In admiting the mistakes of the past, as regards channelling of weapons to anti-ISIS/anti-Assad groups in Syria, President Obama has declared that it is still willing to send weapons to groups in Syria if only such genuine groups (who wouldn’t put the weapons into the hands of ISIS) can be found, especially coming from years and history of so many terror groups today been formerly funded by the Americans in their early days to achieve one foreign policy aim or the other in the middle east, gulf region and parts of Asia. I fear however that much more than that is needed to not only degrade ISIS’ capability or even to tear the group down, as much as the point that remains uncharted and unspoken i.e. BOOTS ON GROUND, as air raids and drone attacks appear to have done very little to dislodge the insurgents, even though I have always wondered why the economic basis of ISIS, including the oil fields have not been directly hit by the coalition forces of western powers operating in parts of Syria and Iraq (that America has successfully starved of military hardware and air capabilities).
Finally, if the west continues its romance with gulf countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar and the likes (rather than reining them in), whose religious policies and funding of religious extremist sects (with petrodollars) within and outside of their countries, which contribute in no small measure to the growth and spread of Islamic Fundamentalist groups like ISIS, this war against terror at most may wipe out ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the likes for now or for a while, but it won’t stop new groups from emanating from where those had been nipped, and we would be back to square one.