by Sheri Laizer
“Önce bu hainlerin kafasını kopartacağız” (First of all we’ll sever the traitors’ heads!” Erdogan pledges, making reference to embracing the death penalty, his greater powers having been secured. He stood before a crowd on the Bosphorus bridge where a year earlier, tanks had rushed against the crowd in the dubious ‘coup’ to remove him. The ‘No’ campaign barely got a look in on the referendum that took place on 16 April this year.
I watched as a cold rain fell around the podium where Erdoğan was delivering his Presidential speech while all around me in the un-celebratory darkness, the tang tang tang domestic protest of pots and pans being clashed rang out across Taksim and Cihangir – the old heart of Istanbul now turned “Islambul”. A pathetic shower of fireworks barely lit up the sky on the Asian shore. Erdogan lost Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir – Turkey’s three main cities to the ‘No’ vote – but that would make no difference. The CHP’s challenge would remain on its knees, like other opposition endeavours.
Wearing their hairdryer-style turbans, his wife and daughter waved limply to their supporters with all the pretense of little Majesties, his son-in-law and business partner, Energy Minister, Berat Albayrak positioned at a slight distance. “Yes, we’ll hang them!” he promised the baying crowd.
Erdoğan family and oil
Erdoğan’s pernicious Islamization drive not only affects those in Turkey but threatens far wider regional alignments, general freedoms and security of life and person. Refer to my earlier paper Welcome to the Islamic Republic of Turkey.1
While he turns a blind eye to Salafist killers being trained (allegedly by his allies in SADAT inside Turkey and beyond), he and his family profit regally from their direct involvement in oil and energy companies, jewellery, cosmetics, ready meals, and shipping (eldest son, Ahmet Burak Erdoğan) inter alia. Although he receives a formal salary equating to 50,000 euros per annum for office, his offspring and their spouses have become worth millions.
Some time ago German Bild newspaper asked where all this wealth of the First Turkish Family comes from noting: “While their father [President Erdoğan] earns some 50 thousand euro per year, his children bathe in luxury. Where does it come from? There is no official data on that account.” 2
The related story about Erdoğan’s son-in-law Albayrak’s shady business dealings and ISIS contacts has already been well aired in the media as also the scandal revolving around Erdoğan son, Bilal, in 2012-20133 over laundering stacks of cash and ensuing investigations were smothered well into 2014. 4 Erdoğan’s response has been lies, denial and to invoke the spectre of Fethullah Gülen followed by the witch hunts in action that are still being pursued with vigour – but that is a different story and one upon which we must not deviate here. More pressing is to expose to light of day the nature of those dealings and their implications in the ‘terrorism’ front – and just whose terrorists are whose?
MIT trucks – Erdoğan denies fault but punishes the messengers
As INSURGE intelligence reported, “there is significant evidence that high-level elements of Turkish government and intelligence agencies have covertly sponsored Islamist terrorist groups in Syria, including ISIS, and that this has involved permitting black market oil sales. Why, however, did Vladimir Putin wait until the murder of a Russian pilot before announcing Russia’s possession of intelligence on Turkish state-sponsorship of ISIS? There can be little doubt that Putin had previously been more interested in protecting Russian relations with Turkey as an emerging gas transshipment hub to Europe, under which he and Erdoğan planned to build the multibillion Russia-Turkey gas pipeline, Turkish Stream — now suspended after the recent diplomatic furor…”5
Turkey seems to have been more highly involved with Ahrar al Sham than ISIS in Syria – the former was competing with ISIS at the time the weapons shipments were exposed.6 Ahrar al Sham was in control of the area directly across the border from Hatay but like Jabhat al Nusra was no less brutal than ISIS. MIT truck deliveries also went to Adana.
Ahrar al-Sham’s commanders included the late Abu Khaled al-Soury, (AKA Abu Omair al-Shamy), killed by a suicide attack in Aleppo in February 20147 a former cohort of Osama bin Laden and ally of Al Qaeda successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Erdoğan quietly appears to have backed them all at the same time. He also supported the Jihadists against the PKK-linked groups fighting in Syria and continues to launch direct attacks on YPG and PKK positions in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) and Iraqi Kurdistan, including PKK and Yezidi controlled areas of liberated Sinjar).
The MIT trucks that had been secretly transporting weapons supplies to jihadists in Syria were first intercepted in November 2013 and three times in January 2014. The radical Wahabbist groups were competing for resources and regional control in Syria.
Reuters states that it accessed “testimony from gendarmerie officers in court documents reviewed by Reuters allege that rocket parts, ammunition and semi-finished mortar shells were carried in trucks accompanied by state intelligence agency (MIT) officials more than a year ago to parts of Syria under Islamist control.
“One of the truck drivers, Murat Kislakci, was quoted as saying the cargo he carried on Jan. 19 was loaded from a foreign plane at Ankara airport and that he had carried similar shipments before. Reuters was unable to contact Kislakci.
Russia provided corroborative evidence.
Turkish human rights lawyer, Sezgin Tanrikulu, claimed the weapons were for ISIS in Syria and has spoken about taking Erdoğan to the Criminal court (in Turkish) for state crimes. 8
Enis Berberoğlu, a member of the secular opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), was convicted this June to 25 years’ imprisonment for revealing the “state secrets”. He was accused of having exposed footage from January 2014 of the MIT trucks clandestinely carrying arms to jihadists but the story had already been published in Aydinlik. Other reporters, including Can Dundar have also been unjustly imprisoned over the affair.9
Dundar stated: “Erdoğan was in a fix. He couldn’t refute the story, so instead chose to censor the publication and threaten the journalist responsible, who was me. In a live broadcast on a state TV channel, he said: “The person who wrote this story will pay a heavy price for it; I won’t let him go unpunished.” He added that the footage was a “state secret”, and that publishing it was an act of “espionage”. Furthermore, as if to confirm that this was not the state’s secret but his secret, he filed a personal complaint to the prosecutor’s office.
“The punishment he demanded for me was two life sentences – for “treason” and for “acquiring and publishing classified information for the purpose of espionage”. This signalled the arrest of those of us who were well aware that the president of the republic’s wishes are received as orders by the judges of the criminal court…”10
Further evidence of Turkey’s illegal oil dealings
Tehran had been criticising Turkey’s illegal oil smuggling even before Moscow. Erdoğan retorted publicly that he had demanded President Rouhani cease the negative media reporting and also stop “supporting Russian revelations about his family’s involvement in the illegal oil trade…” But “Mohsen Rezaie, secretary of the Iranian Expediency Discernment Council stated that ‘Iranian military advisors in Syria have taken photos and filmed all the routes used by ISIL’s oil tankers to Turkey; these documents can be published’.”11
For their part, the UK Foreign Affairs Committee hearings (and published reports) did not reveal that they also knew ISIS was smuggling oil with the help of Presidents Erdoğan and Barzani – perhaps because some of its authors were those deriving immediate profits 12.
During a meeting with a friend in Germany in July 2017 who enjoys inside knowledge it was explained how “The mixing and oil truck transport nexus was run by the Turks just outside Hunt Oil’s Ain Sifni block, not far from Bashiqa. IS trucks were being driven in and then the oil was mixed and came out via Erdoğan’s lorry fleet. Photographs were circulated of the mixing and topping plant opposite the Maglub well in the Ain Sifni block. This operation constituted a well organised collaboration between the KDP, the IOCs involved and Turkey. Erdogan and Barzani were sending this oil up to Turkey with Range oil, active on the border with Iran while IS was transporting it to the Nineveh governorate borders. Oil was also coming in from Syria and was being mixed with Hunt Oil. With ISIS oil, it was easy to mix the oil with other oil at places like Turkey’s Ceyhan Dörtyol – there are several routes by which it was transported out.13
Erdoğan stationed troops close to the border with Iran near where Range Oil was becoming active just as he had done in Bashiqa, also close to the oil wells. Landing strips were built in partnership with KDP President, Masoud Barzani, and the Nujaif brothers, fellow Sunni allies whose own militia, Hash’d al Watani were Turkish trained.14 15 16
Turkish troops arrived in Bashiqa in 2014, such arrival coinciding with that of ISIS. Before long, ISIS was getting oil out via Turkey. Moscow elaborated in detail upon the routes in operation also making its satellite imagery public.17
Çalık Enerji, operates under Çalık Holding and is one of the largest of Turkey’s corporations. The Oil Price source, Shadow Governance Intelligence, revealed the following details in a feature published on Turkish influence in the KRG oil sector earlier this month. Its former CEO is Berat Albayrak, who went on to apply to the Petroleum Directorate of Turkey for a license to build a crude oil pipeline from the KRG-Turkish border to Ceyhan in early 2012. The pipeline from Khurmala to Faysh Khabur, was subsequently completed at the end of 2013. PowerTrans was granted the rights to transport the oil by lorry, having been founded just four months prior to the resolution. PowerTrans’s rights were extended to 31 December 2020 (under Resolution 2015/7583), finalised just one week before June 2015 Turkish elections. Its access to the energy collaboration strongly suggests that it enjoyed “privileged access to the industry before it became a high-profile sector.”
Turkish Energy Company (TEC)
In May 2012, Turkey had sealed an energy agreement with ExxonMobil to cooperate on ExxonMobil’s six blocks in the KRG region that was signed at the Steam Energy Conference with Nechirvan Barzani, Tillerson and Taner Yildiz. Trafigura and Vitol had been working with XOM, Turkey and the KRG in October 2012 moving 90,000 bpd by truck. Exxon had been backing out in April 2012 as the six Blocks they had signed up to in September 2011 had TEC in place in two of them and fell in disputed territory in Nineveh governorate (strictly outside the KRG). They therefore had to pay the local Nujaifi brothers in whose territory it lay.
Erdogan said this deal made it suitable for an (unnamed) “Turkish company” to embark upon a partnership with Exxon and KRG.18
Erdoğan had withheld the name of the “Turkish company” given stakes in the Choman (80 percent), Hindren (80 percent), Arbat (80 percent), Pulkhana (40 percent), Jabal Kand (40 percent), and Khalakan Blocks” (40 percent with Jamal Daniels Range Energy Resources being one of the other partners in Khalakan. It was subsequently disclosed that the company concerned was TEC – the Turkish Energy Company (initially registered as Salus Energy in the Channel Islands, 12 October 2012).
There is much much more to this story. The huge energy deals being done are cemented by the Turkish and the Kurdish ruling elite bypassing Baghdad, and are not executed in the name of the Turkish and Kurdish governments.
Berat Albayrak has reportedly “played a key role in the Ankara-Erbil energy relations, benefiting economically and politically. His ministerial role has further upgraded his presence in the KRG energy sector such that his network has presented benefits to “Kurdish families with strong ties to the KDP, such as Mushin Nezir, active in the Turkish energy company, PetroTrans…”19
“Despite having no background or experience in politics, Albayrak has led the Turkish Energy Ministry since November 2015.”20
Albayrak presents as a staunch Sunni Muslim just like his father-in-law, and their hands are overflowing with golden apples. Clearly these riches have all fallen from Allah’s tree – a tree that was not originally growing in Albayrak’s garden as the son of a Conservative writer close to Erdoğan, Sadik Albayrak, or indeed Erdoğan himself, the son of a Black Sea coastguard that moved his family to Istanbul.
“Then Satan whispered to him; he said, “O Adam, shall I direct you to the tree of eternity and possession that will not deteriorate?” [Koran 20:120]
After winning the post of Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Berat Albayrak “pushed through preferential Tax Amnesty legislation written by his former Çalık associates. The law, called the ‘Wealth Peace Act’, would permit Çalık to repatriate unlimited amounts of offshore cash. Tax-free. Albayrak’s offshore dealings are exposed in a combination of leaked financial documents and the Redhack e-mails as part of the European Investigative Collaboration (EIC) network’s #MaltaFiles.” “21
Nepotism is the name of the game. Concern for the inhumane massacres and murders perpetuated by the jihadist extremists they backed was always on the back burner.22 But by then it was too late and ISIS had established a strong foothold inside Turkey.
Islamic State’s Turkish home bases
The “Islamic State” organisation has become bigtime in the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep. Lying not far from the border with Syria and being a sizeable multi-ethnic, but mainly Sunni city, ISIS recruitment and training in Gaziantep proved very effective. Some commentators even go so far as to say ‘Antep is the logistical base of the organization in Turkey aligning across the Syrian-Turkish border with Jarablus and Azaz and from there to Raqqa.
CHP MP, Aran Ardam, claimed that “ISIS had around 200 networks in Turkey and that there were active cells in Istanbul…” 23 Three Antep based, ISIS leaders of Turkish origin, İlhami Balı, Mustafa Dokumacı and Yunus Durmaz, were reportedly involved in the twin terror attacks inside Turkey in Ankara in October 2015. Hurriyet newspaper reported “Yunus Emre Alagöz, one of the suicide bombers in the Oct. 10, 2015 Ankara attack which claimed 101 lives, and his brother, Abdurrahman Alagöz, who killed 33 students in a similar attack in Suruç on July 20, 2015, were both members of the ‘Dokumacılar’ group.” 24
The porous border between Syria and Turkey also allowed the AKP government to support Jabhat al-Nusra’s local reign in Idlib 25, with hundreds of foreign fighters arriving from countries like Turkmenistan along with weaponry freely transiting the border after arriving in Turkey via mysterious air carrier routings like Azerbaijani Silk Way Airlines.26 The same major border transit points were also used by ISIS recruits until foreign pressure on Erdoğan meant he had to attempt to save face and carry out limited strikes on ISIS while striking YPG Kurdish guerrillas at the same time under the auspices of the euphemistically named Operation Euphrates Shield – equating to protect the AKP’s Islambul.
Among the ranks of the jihadists may also be found many Turkish and Turkmeni fighters, including, it is said, personnel from Turkish Intelligence. Turkish recruits are said to number in the thousands 27. At least one ISIS captive taken prisoner by Kurdish YPG forces has stated the same while coolly admitting to mass executions. Filmed by a Jewish reporter, the videotape interview discloses chilling details of the beheadings of civilians in cold blood, executed simply because they were not Wahabbist extremists. The captive reported on the good relations they enjoyed with Turkey and the numerous Turks in their ranks.28 Jihadist propaganda has been widely disseminated in Turkish and websites allowed to flourish. 29
The key to the spiraling support for Jihadist ideology in Turkey lies with Erdoğan’s direct complicity with the Free Syrian Army and jihad sponsors even before the Arab Spring in Syria of 2011 turned rotten.
Erdoğan displays huge ambition towards becoming the key Sunni Islamist leader in the wider region, hence his recent addresses on the Al Aqsa mosque crisis calling for Muslim unity in action against Israel. Erdoğan believes in the concept of the ‘Caliphate’ with himself firmly positioned at its centre, reviving the Turkish Pan Turanian ‘Empire’ incorporating the Turkic peoples of Central Asia and Iraq’s Turkmen.
Sacked, pro-Islamist, former General Adnan Tanrıverdi, now head of SADAT, was appointed as Erdogan’s military advisor.
SADAT presents itself as a company dealing in ‘International Defense Consulting (Uluslarasi Savunma Danismanliği. The SADAT website currently flies a banner denying negative allegations in the media writing: “In order as to inform yourselves about the false reporting concerning our company and Adnan Tanrıverdi click here!”30 However, its promotional blurb make its mercenary training activity clear to “the countries that it serves.” It details in Turkish, Arabic and English the brochures it makes available on: “Military training, military maintenance systems, training modules for air, land and sea forces as well as interior security forces. Tanrıverdi spearheads a pro-Islamic agenda in serving Muslim countries in rivalry to private Western defense and consultancy companies writing in bad English:
“This urged us to found “SADAT International Defense Consultancy Company” for islamic countries or friendly countries to bring organized idealist and capable Officers and NCOs having broad experiences and qualifications from Turkish Armed Forces after their services in various units and branches of TAF, to care for national values of islamic countries based on the co-benefits of islamic world when they need military personnel from an armed forces with profound military sensations to get their armies to be set, reorganized, modernized and trained by…..
“Turkish Armed Forces have been providing training, consultancy and ordnance services in 22 other Turkish or Friendly Islamic Countries already but still seem not possible to respond all of 60 Islamic countries’ all needs at defense sector.
“In order to provide services for their needs, to help them prevent from dependence on western crusader imperialist countries and to help establishment of a Defensive Collaboration and Defensive Industrial Cooperation among Islamic Countries with the intend of serving Islamic Union; SADAT International Defense Consultancy Construction Industry and Trade Incorporation was founded by 23 brave enterprising co-owners with the support of 64 successful Officers and NCOs who have served in various units of Turkish Armed Forces and respectful to Islamic values.”31
Detailed evidence of the AKP’s relations with jihadists and close links with SADAT is set forth in a well sourced fashion on the Turkishpedia website that deserves close reading. It observes inter alia on SADAT:
“Adnan Tanrıverdi was retired without his consent from the Turkish Armed Forces in the 90s due to his fundamentalist belief when he was holding rank of Brigadier General. He is the Honorary President of the association named ASDER (Association of Justice Defenders) founded by the people who were retired from the TSK because of their Islamist tendencies.
Tanrıverdi has established private security firm SADAT on February 28, 2012 together with ASDER members Reşat Fidan, Nuretin Yavuz, Fethi Kıran, Haluk Yildirim.
“He is in close connection with the leading members of the AKP government including Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag and Mustafa Şentop. Tanrıverdi is a columnist in the Yeni Akit Daily (Formerly known as Vakit), which adopts a radical religious publication policy and gives unconditional support to Erdogan. From time to time, Yeni Akit daily publishes news to legitimize actions of Al Qaeda and ISIS.
“In his interview published on his personal blog about the July 15 coup, he claims that the United States which controls the Gülen movement was behind the coup and that emptied positions with post-coup large scale purges to be filled by competent (meaning, pro-Erdogan) officers and the TSK will be even stronger. As can be understood from his statement, pro-Erdogan officers with radical tendencies who cannot find the opportunity to rise within the secular TSK had the opportunity to rise within the TSK after the attempted coup…” 32
“Islambul” and TÜRGEV (Turkish Foundation for Youth and Education)
German Bild had also fingered the TÜRGEV association and reported last year that Bilal Erdoğan reportedly received “230 million dollars for only 1.2 million dollars” for a 30-year lease of public ground in Istanbul for the Association. Turkish newspaper, Anadolu Türk Haber reported the foundation (established by the Erdogan family) bought up protected plots of land with the budget of the Istanbul Fatih municipality.
The paper cited Aydınlık newspaper claiming “the General Directorate of Foundations allocated free of charge for 49 years some of the most valuable land from Eminönü, one of the most central districts of İstanbul, to the TÜRGEV foundation, which has been turned over to the management of PM Erdoğan’s daughter, son and relatives.”33
Then there are the Osmanlı Ocaklar (Ottoman Hearths) the word ‘ocaklar’ (hearths) provoking links with the Ülkücü Ocakları – the Grey Wolf/Bozkurt ‘Idealist hearths’ foundations. The paramilitary ‘youth’ group swears loyalty to Erdogan: The group’s site confirms its ideology as that of: “being a soldier who wears a shroud for the leader with the shroud.” The leader is apparently Erdoğan, who frequently reminds the audience in his speeches that he departed for his holy voyage in politics with his shroud — in a clear reference to the idea that he is ready to be a martyr. In other words, Erdoğan is stressing the idea that he is willing to risk everything for his cause without explaining what that cause actually is.”
“Kadir Canpolat, the head of Osmanlı Ocakları, is an open fan of Erdoğan. Speaking in Isparta this April, Canpolat said: “We are soldiers of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. I want to thank Tayyip Erdoğan. We owe Osmanlı Ocakları to him. We would not exist if he did not exist!” 34
The pro-Kurdish HDP accuse the group of targeting its members and premises as well as provoking street violence and becoming entangled in the Gezi Park protests. Osmanlı Ocakları members have also attacked CHP premises and one local branch leader publicly praised ISIS after the Suruç bombing. 35
Fresh Decrees of the Super President
The Turkish Super President now holds to ransom the police chiefs he has personally appointed, the new Chief of Staff and the judiciary – all on the basis of unswerving loyalty to himself. At the same time political opponents and media workers that challenge him face spurious allegations of support for “terrorism.”
On the anniversary of the failed ‘coup’ in July 2017 a fresh decree was published on the basis of which were sacked “7,395 state employees including teachers, academics, military and police officers, bringing the number of the dismissed to more than 110,000. The government calls the crackdown necessary to purge state institutions of those linked to Gülen, but critics say the dismissals are arbitrary and paths to recourse severely curtailed.” 36
Many commentators, including the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) ascribe the coup plot to Erdoğan himself observing: “Based on publicly available data, the coup indictments, testimonials in court trials, private interviews, reviews of military expert opinions and other evidence collected by researchers, SCF is fairly confident that this attempt did not even qualify a coup bid in any sense of military mobilization which was unusually limited in numbers, confined in few cities, poorly managed, defied the established practices, tradition, rules of engagement and standard operating procedures in Turkish military.
“This was a continuation of a series of false flags that were uncovered in the last couple of years under the authoritarian rule of Erdoğan regime and it was certainly the bloodiest one,” said Abdullah Bozkurt, the President of SCF…” 37
Tel Afar – a new stage in the same contest
Following the ‘coup’, the purges, the Presidential referendum that secured further power for the Turkish leader in April this year, pseudo ally, IS/ISIS remains powerful, despite being dislodged from Mosul. Those operations carried a very high price for civilians along with damage to the city itself. ISIS would never have been able to seize control of Mosul had Turkey, the peshmerga and the Iraqi Army forces not failed in their duty to protect civilians.
Erdoğan’s forces, including those based in Bashiqa allied with the KDP peshmerga, may yet oppose the Shi’a PMU militia over Tel Afar, also taken under control by ISIS in 2014. And Tel Afar is rich in oil. Meanwhile, as a challenge to Turkey, IS is busy executing Turkmen Iraqis in the interim 38.
Al Masdar News observed of the newly launched campaign to retake Tel Afar: “The Iraqi Army’s 15th Division – heavily backed by the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) and Kataib Hezbollah (paramilitary branch)…managed to impose full control over the villages of Abu Sheka and Halawah following a series of related gains this weekend. The two villages are located near the main road between Mosul and Tel Afar. “39
Al Masdar News also claims the ISIS-linked Amaq Agency published photos of a Turkish suicide bomber, nicknamed Abu Musab Al-Turki, striking the newly liberated government-held town of Tal As Saman…”40
IS fighters may still retreat to the Hamrin mountains and to the desert routes between Iraq to Syria without suffering serious losses. Without their presence, the strategic justification for the US military to stay on in Iraq and Syria effectively ceases. However, senior military personnel and politicians close to Trump – and indeed Bush – have long since swapped their military hats to commercial ones in service of their personal ‘energy’ interests. 41
Qatar’s leadership and Rex Tillerson, allied with Erdoğan, constitute a working partnership aimed at protecting their joint corporate gains. Qatar had also been arming the Jihadist groups along with Turkey. Now Erdoğan stands shoulder to shoulder with Qatar publicly.
IS forces also remain in control of Hawija, outside Kirkuk. Sleeper cells are active in Kirkuk city, with so-called ‘rats’ frequently being flushed out and displayed before the cameras and cell phones in the course of being brutalized in a raucous hue and cry by the peshmerga reserving for themselves the final means of punishment.42 Extra judicial killings of disarmed alleged IS fighters feature widely in these short sequences.
Kirkuk – what future?
With the referendum for Kurdistan’s independence due to take place on 25 September, questions should be focused on the future of Kirkuk and the thorny issue of oil control. But that is another chapter and one that has to be written. Just who will protect which parts of Kirkuk appears to be up for grabs.
Michael Rubin recently exposed outright lies on the part of the KRG’s Washington representative, Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman observing: “The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) meanwhile complains that they are also not receiving weaponry. Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman…has gone so far as to tell congressmen that Baghdad has not transferred weaponry to the Kurds for the fight against the Islamic State.” 43
Rubin then reproduces a precise breakdown of the content of “369 plane loads of military equipment and weaponry delivered to the KRG between August 21, 2014 and June 22, 2015” adding “to the national breakdown: 131 British flights, 71 Italian flights, 45 US supply flights, 35 Canadian flights, 31 German flights, 28 French flights, 15 from Australia, six from the Netherlands, two each from Russia and the Czech Republic, and a single flight each from Ukraine and Norway. This list, of course, only includes official purchases. The KRG has separately received weaponry from Iran, Bulgaria, and Hungary, the manifests for which are not available to Baghdad and so are also not included below.” 44
These lists speak for themselves. Rubin sums up saying: “Perhaps it’s time for Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman to be a bit more like Barham (Salih) and to stop spinning a false tale of woe to congressmen while her patrons divert weaponry to their political party and away from the fight against the Islamic State. And, as for US congressmen, rather than blindly repeat calls for more arms to be delivered to Iraqi Kurdistan, it’s long past time to demand transparency on the whereabouts of the weaponry provided: How much of it is warehoused in Erbil or distributed to party apparatchiks? How much has actually reached the frontlines in regions like Kirkuk where it is most sorely needed?“ 45
So just who will help the people of Kirkuk? Will Kirkuk’s diverse civilian population numbering hundreds of thousands of families (at least 1.5 million) simply be deemed collateral damage in the high stakes game for control in Iraq as, sadly, with Mosul?
The New Arab recently reported how even late last October, Erdoğan was boasting “that Turkey would expand its Euphrates Shield operation in northwest Syria to “Kirkuk, Mosul, Tel Afar and Sinjar”…The phantom limb syndrome that Turkey expresses in different ways over Kirkuk and Mosul from time to time also goes hand-in-hand with the so-called Sevres Syndrome…” 46
Phantom limb, hidden hands, big companies in the complex network of those that put business before ethics and power above all.
Germany has taken the brave step of calling Erdogan to account over its abuse of journalistic freedoms etc. and is urging fellow EU member states to do the same. The Super President’s response to German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel:
“Who are you to talk to the president of Turkey?” Erdogan said in a televised speech. “Know your limits. He is trying to teach us a lesson… How long have you been in politics? How old are you?” 47
It is worthwhile remembering that “Turkey repeatedly blocked access for German MPs to NATO’s air base at Incirlik, once home to some 300 Bundeswehr soldiers and several reconnaissance jets. In June, Berlin authorized troop withdrawal, relocating its contingent to Jordan.” 48
Given the lucrative business deals – including oil contracts with Turkey and the KRG, the UK’s Conservative government, that boasts billionaire investors with enormous shares in Kurdish oil, is certain to stand behind him. 49
Exhibiting a blatant conflict of interest, corrupt politicians turned entrepreneurs in the UK continue to fill their pockets even while Islamic extremists plot mass carnage on London’s streets and the class gulf yawns ever wider. Their often eye watering theft continues in the wake of that other dubious referendum – the so-called Brexit vote that was staged – not least – on a populist anti-migration basis while thousands from Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and other turbulent nations, drown annually in the Mediterranean unable to endure life at home. 50 51
14 Private interview
24 Cited in Rudaw at http://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/turkey/050420161
29 “Online propaganda in Turkish has been central to recruitment efforts of Nusra and ISIS. Forms of propaganda include videos and nasheedat (jihadi songs) with Turkish translations, as well as Turkish-language jihadist magazines, websites, and social media accounts. ISIS supportive websites and social media accounts were readily accessible before March 2015, when Istanbul’s Third High Criminal Court ordered the closure of Takva Haber, Turkey’s leading ISIS website.49 Turkey’s principal ISIS websites, including Takva Tube, a video sharing website, and Enfal Medya, which opened following the closure of Takva Haber, were subsequently shuttered. On the other hand, sites linked to Nusra have remained largely unaffected by government crackdown. A range of Nusra supporting websites, Facebook pages, YouTube pages, and Twitter accounts are as active today in 2016 as they were in 2014.50 Despite the crackdown on ISIS media in Turkey, sympathetic Turkish language websites that repeat favourite ISIS themes without explicitly declaring support remain accessible.51 ISIS’s glossy Turkish-language 18 ISIS and Nusra in Turkey magazine, Konstantiniyye, is also available to download online. Al-Hayat Media Center, the foreign language media division of ISIS, began producing Konstantiniyye in summer 2015. The publication released its sixth issue in April 2016. Turkish translations of some issues of Dabiq, ISIS’s English language magazine, also exist…” cited from pp 17-18 https://www.isdglobal.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/ISDJ4677_Turkey_R1_WEB.pdf
51 https://missingmigrants.iom.int/ More than 2410 deaths in the Mediterranean sea in 2017.