Smear campaign being run to tarnish Turkey's reputation, experts claim

Published 26.06.2015 10:58
emReuters Photo/em
Reuters Photo

Claims that Turkey has explicitly or tacitly aided the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in northern Syria are being angrily rejected by Turkish academics and politicians.

A three-way struggle between Kurdish forces, ISIS and the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad has been taking place close to Turkey's southern border, prompting speculation about Ankara's role in the conflict.

Recent intensification of the fighting between Kurdish forces like the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) and ISIS in and around the Syrian border town of Kobani has seen claims emerge that Turkey allowed extremist fighters to use its territory to attack Kurdish forces.

Turkish sources say a smear campaign is being run to tarnish Turkey's reputation and deter it from its pro-active' role in the south.

Some also say that, as part of this operation, incidents in Kobani were introduced differently to Turkey and the world to redesign Middle East policy and exclude Turkey.

Yasin Aktay, deputy chairman of Turkey's Justice and Development (AK) Party, said these reports aimed to make Turkey passive about the incidents which were happening around it.

"Turkey has never supported terrorist groups, but seemingly, those who accuse it are secretly supporting them and have a secret agenda against Turkey, as well," Aktay claimed to Anadolu Agency on Thursday.

He said the "negative" results of all demographic changes and operations in Syria affected Turkey, which he said was asked not to intervene in the war-torn country.

Ankara-based Gazi University Professor Mehmet Akif Okur called the allegations against Turkey "baseless" and said basic criticism was about "Turkey's inadequate border security over crossings into Syria".

The professor said Thursday's ISIS suicide bomb attack in Kobani was a tactic to derail a Kurdish military movement advancing towards the extremist rebels by opening a different front and diverting their rivals' resources.

"There was a YPG, PKK attack that was moving towards Raqqa; the [ISIS] attack in Kobani is compatible with the military strategy it follows in other areas," Okur added.

People's Protection Units, or YPG, is the military wing of the Syrian Democratic Union Party, or PYD, which Turkey considers a terrorist group along with Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

Okur also claimed the PKK and YPG are trying to form a state infrastructure in the Syrian regions they dominate, which he said brought concerns about potential "ethnic cleansing".

"Ethnic cleansing means ethnic wars and the YPG is taking steps to turn these lands - where societies lived for thousands of years - into unlivable places," said Okur.

Mehmet Şahin, another professor from Gazi University, said the PKK, YPG and PYD were trying to turn the international reaction against Daesh into an advantage to claim an "ethnic victory" in Syria and Iraq.

"The trio has begun producing a political strategy as part of efforts to reform policy in the Middle East," Şahin said.

Şahin said the allegations that Turkey supports ISIS were a perception that plunged Ankara into a defensive position.

Mazhar Bağli, an AK Party central executive committee member and a professor at Yıldırım Beyazıt University said Assad, ISIS and the PKK/PYD were "extremely blatantly" behaving in their own interests.

"PKK/PYD is not only making ethnic cleansing there but also a political-ideological cleansing; in addition, it is dismissing Kurds who are not [following] the PKK line," Bağli said.

Bağli said Turkey was the only power to balance these groups in Syria and it had become a target, adding that Turkey was put into a deadlock with the alleged link to the ISIS militants.

"Turkey should not step back about expressing the truth of its position regarding the Syrian issue," added Bağli.

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