Illusions and realities

The incumbent Justice and Development Party (AKP), which just garnered 49.4 percent of the vote and gained the opportunity to form a single-party government on Nov. 1, received jubilant messages of support from almost 15 and”moderate jihadiand” groups fighting in Syria as well as Hamas of Palestine.
All of these groups hope that the AKP government will continue supporting them. They share the two aims of the Turkish government: to topple the Assad government and to neutralize the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). However, their mutual agenda is likely to run into difficulty with the Russian presence in Syria. They believe Turkey will protect them against Russia and a belligerent Damascus.
The difference between the and”moderate jihadistsand” that Turkey supports and radical ones such as ISIL is simply the following: First, they say they would respect democratic election results in Syria if President Bashar al-Assad allows one. Second, rather than pursuing the goal of a global jihad, their aim is to deliver Syria from satanic rule.
The Free Syrian Army was first to congratulate President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoilu for the AKPand’s electoral victory. This was followed by the and”Army of Conquest,and” which issued a declaration noting that Erdogan and the AKP government had never abandoned them.
Similarly, the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood released a message congratulating the AKP and the Turkish people and praised them for standing by the Syrian people. The Syrian opposition is now more confident that an AKP government will be more supportive of them. They believe that Erdogan is the true leader of the AKP government.
But how reliable are these groups? Many of them, such as the and”Army of Damascus,and” are trying to sign non-hostility pacts with ISIL. They will not engage ISIL until it attacks them. Their primary target is to bring down the Assad government rather than ISIL.
Why is it that the Turkish government has supported these moderate jihadists? The AKP government is in a deadly fight against the Kurdistan Workersand’ Party (PKK) and its declared adjunct in Syria, namely the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing the Peopleand’s Defense Force (HPG). Turkey wants these and”moderate jihadistsand” to break the initiative of the PYD forces. Indeed the PYD has been warned by Ankara not to go west of the Euphrates River. Soon we will see how influential Ankara is on them if these groups wage an effective war on the PYD.
The and”moderate jihadistand” groups target the Assad regime, but Assad is now under Russian protection. Now they are caught in the crossfire by both Damascus and the Russian armed forces. While the Americans remain cautious, it is hard for Ankara to give full support to these jihadists given the chances of their collusion with Russia and Iran. Yet these groups are more hopeful than before the elections and believe that Turkey will continue to support them.
Hamas is even more zealous. Hamas leaders were excited by the AKP victory and congratulated the victors earlier than any other political formation or state. Hamasand’ spokesman in Gaza, Sami Abu Zuhri, said the result of the Turkish elections is a and”victory for the Palestinian cause before it is a victory for Turkey.and”
Hamas leaders like Yousef Rizqa think along the same lines as their Turkish counterparts: and”With these results, Turkey was able to overcome the crises it suffered as a result of foreign interventions and the Israeli one in particularandhellip The Turkey-Saudi Arabia-Qatar axis has become stronger.and” Hamas leaders hope that the next AKP government will end its relations with Israel and develop an anti-Israel policy. Hamas as a sub-state organization may have an anti-Israel agenda but Turkey is a major player in the Middle East and elsewhere. It has to engage with Israel as well as Iran and Russia because its national interests require it to do so. Lasting interests, not ephemeral radical groups, do and must guide Turkeyand’s policies in this volatile region.


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