Over the past five weeks, Turkey’s role in facilitating the trafficking of illicit Islamic State crude has been exposed for the world to see. Ankara’s move to shoot down a Russian Su-24 near the Syrian border prompted a media blitz from Moscow, which has variously accused the Erdogan government of being complicit in a business that nets Bakr al-Baghdadi between $500 million and $1 billion per year in revenue.
To be sure, those who have followed Islamic State’s meteoric rise are well aware of the fact that Turkey has played a rather decisive role in the group’s recruiting efforts by looking the other way as a steady stream of foreign fighters - emboldened by the ISIS propaganda machine - have streamed into Syria.
Ankara, like Riyadh and Doha, is keen on seeing the Assad government fall and has been instrumental in the effort (supported by the West) to funnel money and weapons to the various Sunni extremist groups fighting for control of the country. As Nafeez Ahmed put it in a recent piece posted first on Medium, “NATO is harbouring the Islamic State and France’s brave new war on ISIS is a sick joke, and an insult to the victims of the Paris attacks.” Here are some key excerpts from the article:
A senior Western official familiar with a large cache of intelligence obtained this summer from a major raid on an ISIS safehouse told the Guardian that “direct dealings between Turkish officials and ranking ISIS members was now ‘undeniable.’”
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