Istanbul

It remains to be confirmed, but western officials are already blaming ISIS/ISIL for today’s bombings in Istanbul. The American special envoy to coordinate the fight against the Islamic State, Brett McGurk, has condemned the Istanbul attack. He tweeted: “Strongly condemn suicide attack in heart of Istanbul and stand with the people of Turkey in our common fight against ISIL terrorists.” [1]What is both interesting and extremely frustrating (not least for the poor innocent victims of the bombing, who were mostly German nationals and for the people of Istanbul who will likely live in fear in its aftermath) about the Istanbul bombing is that Turkey (and certain western allies) has been supportive of ISIS.

If ISIS is behind today’s Blue Mosque area bombings, then this is yet another tragic example of blowback; a regime that has supported particular terrorists groups later has to deal with the same group committing violent acts of terrorism on its soil. Turkey is a NATO member and a strategic ally of the US. While western powers like the US readily condemn Islamic terrorism, they seem unwilling to take out terrorist groups like ISIS, despite having the capacity to do so. This is something even the mainstream media acknowledges. After the 2015 Paris attacks, the Guardian lamented that: “we can expect western heads of state to do what they always do in such circumstances: declare total and unremitting war on those who brought it about. They don’t actually mean it. They’ve had the means to uproot and destroy Islamic State within their hands for over a year now. They’ve simply refused to make use of it.” [2]

Turkey’s support of ISIS against its regional enemies recently became public knowledge. According to an article that originally appeared in the Middle East Quarterly, Turkey’s Islamist government has been discreetly supporting what it calls “its own Frankenstein monster: the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).” The article explains:

“Ankara’s support for ISIS and other jihadist groups became undeniable in January 2014 when Turkish prosecutors sent a team to search three trucks in the southern province of Adana. The Syria-bound trucks carried a cargo of more than fifty missiles and nearly forty crates loaded with ammunition. An ISIS jihadist later indicated that the Turkish government had delivered stocks of weapons and military hardware to the group’s fighters in Syria.” [3]

While sources like the Guardian place the onus on Turkey, arguing that western powers could easily take out ISIS by calling on Erdoğan to end his attacks on Kurdish forces in Syria and Turkey and allowing these forces to fight ISIS on the ground [2], observers with a deeper understanding of Empire understand that Turkey is not alone in its support of and acquiescence to ISIS. It has strategic allies in the west and the Middle East that share its desires to undermine the current Syrian and Iraqi regimes. As I have said in previous post, oftentimes those that claim to oppose terrorism are actually keen to support and bolster certain terrorist groups when and if it serves their interests. One of the main problems is that once you unleash such a beast, it is bound to eventually effect innocent civilian populations. In the end, terrorist blowback is a serious problem; not necessarily for the hypocritical governments that support these lunatics in the first place, but for the citizens that may one day suffer at the hands of monsters their own governments helped to create or keep alive to some degree.

 

 

Notes:

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2016/jan/12/istanbul-explosion-several-reported-killed-in-tourist-area-live-updates

[2] http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/18/turkey-cut-islamic-state-supply-lines-erdogan-isis

[3] http://www.meforum.org/5317/turkey-isis

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