Last week Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said: "The person who mediated for three [British] girls to cross into Syria was arrested. He works for a member of the coalition formed against ISIS." The statement subsequently became the hottest issue on the political agenda.
Three teenage girls from the U.K. named Shamina Begum, Anira Abase and Kadiza Sultana, were met in Istanbul by a person codenamed "Dr. Mehmet Reşit." Transferring the girls to Gaziantep province on Feb. 18, Reşit then brought them to an Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militant codenamed "Abu Bakr" in Syria. Security forces identified the person's real name as Mohammed al-Rashed who is of Syrian origin. They then detained him in an operation conducted in Şanlıurfa province on Feb. 28. During his interrogation, Rashed said: "I work for the Canadian intelligence service. I occasionally share the data I collect with intelligence agents in a Canadian Consulate in Jordan. Lately, I transferred the girls named Shamina Begum, Anira Abase and Kadiza Sultana from Istanbul to the Gaziantep bus terminal, and I contacted the persons engaging in member transfers and submitted [the girls] to them for the crossing into Syria. I conveyed this information to Canadian intelligence officers on Feb. 21. I have done all this to obtain Canadian citizenship."
If Rashed's remarks are true, then two significant questions stand out. First, are those intelligence agencies involved in the ongoing propaganda that suggests that Turkey helps ISIS? Or do Western countries try to camouflage some of their activities in Turkey regarding ISIS? And further, do Western countries keep this channel deliberately open in order to get rid of those they think are radically religious in their own countries?
It is perfectly normal for intelligence agencies to send spies to infiltrate organizations such as ISIS as part of their protection/prevention strategy. But the hostile stance adopted toward Turkey from the very beginning is not sensible. That is, the pressure imposed on Turkey to provide ground troops to fight ISIS is evident, but Turkey's priority must be to protect itself from the disaster taking place next door. Having a 1,250-kilometer border with the conflict area, it quite naturally demanded from the coalition powers a more comprehensive strategy with a more equal distribution of duties. Furthermore, Turkey attempted to explain that ISIS was the outcome of the inhumane administrations of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq and President Bashar Assad in Syria, and called on coalition powers to build a new order in the Middle East.
However, Western countries self-absorbedly expected Turkey to act only as foot soldiers, and when this demand was not met, they spread propaganda as a trump card saying that Ankara supports ISIS. Inexplicable news reports full of disinformation became prevalent in Western media. Meanwhile, Turkey became the first country to bomb ISIS from the air. Kobani was also saved from ISIS's siege after Turkey opened its territories to armed peshmerga forces from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq. Some 1.7 million Syrians and Iraqis were welcomed into the country regardless of their religion, sect or race. Turkey spent $5 billion and created living spaces that were even acclaimed by the U.N., who had to cut its food aid to refugees. While Turkey was engaged in all these activities of aid, the contribution of Western countries did not even total 5 percent, and the whole of Europe accepted a fewer number of refugees than Turkey. The number of refugees they accepted did not even reach 10 percent of the total number of refugees in Turkey.
Of course, the other problem is an ethical one. To use people as spies who are trying to flee from the inferno in Syria in return for promises of citizenship raises huge ethical concerns.
Countries regarded as allies should end their unjust treatment of Turkey. However, in spite of all this, Turkey will nevertheless have a crucial role to play in the operation against ISIS in Mosul.