What did the Gülenist plan on MİT trucks mean for Syria?

Published 24.06.2017 23:36

Had the MİT trucks not been stopped that day, maybe the Turkish military would not have had to carry out a ground operation inside Syria in 2016 and have 70 of our men killed by Daesh terrorists

Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MİT) has always been one of the primary targets of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). The MİT-Gülenist crisis on Feb. 7, 2012 was one of them; a Gülenist prosecutor named Sadrettin Sarıkaya in Istanbul summoned high-level members of the Turkish intelligence agency. MİT Chief Hakan Fidan was asked to testify as part of an investigation into the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the umbrella organization of the outlawed PKK. All the names requested to testify were part of the Turkish delegation that carried out negotiations, known as the Oslo process, with the PKK on behalf of the Turkish government that is believed to have taken place between 2008 and 2011. It was probably the very first political crisis that had shaken Turkey after the Gülenists decided to put a gun to the head of the Turkish government. That crisis was not going to be the last.

On Jan. 1, 2014, the Adana prosecution office received an anonymous call claiming to be a soldier from the Turkish gendarmerie. The call claimed that several trucks were transporting weapons to Syria in Hatay, warning for a possible link with terror groups. In response, the Adana prosecutor requested police to conduct a search on the trucks. The call, the rush of the prosecutor, the things that happened at the scene and the Gülen loyalist journalists already being there were suspicious, and it was later understood that it was a Gülenist plot targeting the MİT. That day, the Adana governor prevented the Gülenists from making a big thing out of the incident.But on Jan. 19, they tried again. With a similar tip-off, the prosecution requested the head of Adana's gendarmerie to conduct the search. The trucks were stopped by the prosecutor with more than a hundred gendarmerie soldiers. Learning the situation and having obtained an emergency command to stop the search, the Adana governor claimed the trucks belonged to the MİT, but the prosecutor refused saying that the MİT itself had to send a command to stop the search, escalating the tension between the gendarmerie, MİT personnel and other police officers. The gendarmerie soldiers pointed their guns to MİT personnel, and the trucks were searched and photographed.

The Turkish state TV and radio regulator agency RTÜK issued a ban on both written and visual reporting of the situation. It was a year before the Supreme Board of Judges Prosecutors (HSYK) took the decision to begin disciplinary investigations into the five prosecutors involved in giving the order to search the trucks, suspending them from their positions for three months.

The daily Cumhuriyet newspaper, on May 29, 2015, published the footage of the search, claiming that the trucks were in fact carrying weapons. But to whom? While the Cumhuriyet daily did not mention a name or a group on its report, the newspaper's editor-in-chief Can Dündar alleged on his social media account that the weapons were being delivered to Daesh. If Can Dündar had evidence for his allegations, why did he not provide that evidence in his paper? Again, there were too many questions about the release of the footage of the incident.

An investigation began into the daily Cumhuriyet while the government was harshly attacked, accused of assisting Daesh, faced with calls both in Turkey and abroad to resign. Republican People's Party's (CHP) Deputy Hüseyin Aygün made a legal complaint against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, accusing him of high treason for assisting the enemies of the Turkish state.

On May 6, Dündar was sentenced to imprisonment for five years and 10 months for leaking secret information of the state. Dündar was previously released by the court pending trial. He had escaped from Turkey and moved to Germany. In his book on the Cumhuriyet case, which was published in 2016, he said his source was a leftist member of Parliament. The period that led to CHP Istanbul Deputy Enis Berberoğlu's being sentenced to 25 years of jail time on charges of spying had started with those words.

Many things have been said about the Gülenists' MİT trucks plot as the objective in Turkey was to put the Turkish government and President Erdoğan in a very difficult position in the international arena. But in another aspect, the plot had extremely powerful results beyond the Turkish border, in Syria.

Back in that period, in January 2014, Syrian opposition forces were fighting against Daesh in the territories under their control, not only in Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa, but also in Aleppo and Idlib. Al-Bab was captured by Daesh on Jan. 13, 2014. Jarablus had been already largely under Daesh control since July 2013. The opposition forces, which managed to rescue the 70 slaves held captive by Daesh a day before, and 26 of the civilians with them, lost their lives in Daesh's car bomb attack on Jan. 15. Finding an opportunity to easily settle in on our border, Daesh opened fire on Turkish soldiers on Jan. 28. So the claim was that Turkey assisted Daesh, however, the support was provided to the opposition forces fighting against Daesh, and unfortunately it was blocked by the Gülenist's MİT trucks plot.

The opposition forces, clashing on the other side of the border with terrorists trying to settle in on our border, were left without backing, and they had a large number of casualties and lost strength. While the PKK's Syrian affiliate, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), settled in on part of Syria's border with Turkey, the remaining side was fully settled in on by Daesh in the following days. The Gülenist plot severely harmed the Syrian opposition but made Daesh stronger as a result.

Had the MİT trucks not been stopped that day, had the support provided to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) not been prevented and had the Turkish opposition parties been able to say, "What is happening in Syria is a matter of national security," and encouraged to provide more help beyond the border, maybe the Turkish military would not have had to carry out a ground operation inside Syria, code named Operation Euphrates Shield, in 2016, and have 70 of our men martyred on Syrian soil.

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