EMRE – Turkey and the Islamic State

Turkey and the Islamic StateThe liberal Taraf daily published an article claiming Turkey is in negotiations with the Islamic State (IS), formerly known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), to release 49 Turkish diplomats who were taken hostage by the IS 70 days ago.According to Taraf, the IS requested Turkeyand#39s last remaining land in Syria, the tomb of Suleyman Iah, and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government agreed to give it to them The Foreign Ministry accused Taraf of being irresponsible but, however, could not deny the allegations claiming the government agreed to give Suleyman Iah as ransom to IS.

Further, Taraf editorials insist that they have documents: a written order to the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) with instructions to withdraw from the tomb of Suleyman Iah. However, Taraf could not publish the document because a recently passed law prohibits newspapers from publishing classified documents.

If a newspaper published such document, the government would have the right to shut down the publication and put the journalist, the editor, the owner and even the workers who helped publish the document in jail.For obvious reasons, Taraf chose not to publish the document.

However, the daily announced that, if there is a court case, Taraf is willing to share the document with the court.Interestingly enough, the most important allegation in the news was regarding the written order given to the TSK however, the TSK did not deny the allegation.

I have no doubt that Tarafand#39s story is true. Pro-government journalists ask why the IS would request the Suleyman Iah Tomb as ransom for the Turkish hostages.

Well, there is a strategic reason for the IS to take the tomb over If the IS successfully takes the last remaining Turkish land in Syria, it will boost IS credibility in the eyes of its supporters and Arab nationalists who are inclined to support the IS.With this strategic calculation, the IS surrounded the tomb back in February and gave Turkey time evacuate its security forces from the area If it were not in the strategic interest of the IS, why would they take the risk of confronting Turkey for such a small piece of land?In addition, taking a piece of land from the regionand#39s most powerful country, a NATO ally, would indeed boost IS popularity among Syrians and Iraqis.

Therefore, it is logical for the IS to negotiate to get the tomb in return for Turkish diplomats.One might ask why the IS didnand#39t demand more money and weapons in return for the Turkish diplomats.

The IS has already answered this question. One of the IS leaders told the press that they received weapons through Turkey however, they no longer need them because they have attained most of their weapons from Iraq.

Indeed, the IS confiscated heavy artilleries from Iraqi Army they even they seized helicopters and tanks from the Iraqi army. Thus, they donand#39t need arms or cash.

When it comes to money, the IS doesnand#39t need any. They seized oil fields and they sell oil on the black market.

Anyone who goes to the region, even in southeastern Turkey, will see that there are parallel oil prices. One is for regular oil, and the other is for smuggled oil.

One thing the IS has asked of Turkey is medical treatment. Evidence shows that even IS leaders admit to having received medical treatment in Turkey.

Turkish authorities, too, have not been able to deny that IS militants received medical treatment from Turkish hospitals. In response to these allegations, Turkish authorities argue that they cannot ask for ID from those who are wounded and come to a hospital.

All in all, so far, there is enough evidence to believe and no reason to doubt that the IS, for a long time, has used Turkey as a base to transfer its militants and weapons and receive medical treatment.Even UN inspectors visited Turkey to inspect armed transfer of arms to militant groups from Libya through Turkey to Syria UN inspectors once asked me to share my opinion on the matter however, I preferred not to comment.

In addition, international intelligence agencies, specifically US and German intelligence agencies, are not so happy with the Turkish authoritiesand#39 practice of turning a blind eye to militant groups using Turkish territories.If Turkey faces heavy international pressure, it is likely that it will tighten its borders and work to curb weapons running to the IS and other al-Qaeda-affiliated groups.

It appears that in order to punish Turkey, the IS has taken Turkish diplomats and are now asking for the tomb of Suleyman Iah as a ransom for their safe return.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman