Despite the strategic partnership between Ankara and Doha, the Qatari government-backed media outlet Al-Jazeera English continues to adopt a biased narrative against Turkey, particularly on Operation Peace Spring, a counterterrorism operation against the PKK-linked People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria.
In one of the latest examples, Al-Jazeera English specifically presented Turkey’s plans for creating a safe zone to resettle millions of Syrian refugees in northern Syria under the title “Turkey forcibly deported Syrian refugees,” despite Turkish officials denying these claims as “untrue and imaginary” many times.
Claiming that the government has been “forcibly deporting Syrian refugees,” the media outlet also used the term “so-called safe zone” for Turkey’s planned safe zone for the voluntarily return of Syrian refugees to their homelands.
Hami Aksoy, the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman, denied such claims describing them as "untrue and imaginary.”
"While we are hosting 4 million Syrian refugees, including 3.6 million Syrians, within our borders, we are studiously implementing our policy of 'non-refoulment,’" Aksoy said two weeks ago.
"Our authorities have been carrying out the 'repatriating process' in collaboration with the U.N. refugee agency and other nongovernmental organizations. Our country has on every opportunity stressed that refugee returns should be voluntary, secure and in line with the international law."
Turkey currently hosts some 3.6 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world. Ankara has so far spent $40 billion on the refugees, according to official figures.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has shared the proposed plan for a safe zone with his counterparts in Washington and Moscow and other European capitals.
While the proposed safe zone plans were reportedly welcomed during Erdoğan’s meetings with his counterparts, he added that the international community once again fails to provide support for projects for Syrian civilians.
Also, Al-Jazeera’s frequent use of the phrase “Turkey attacking the Kurds in Syria” and references to YPG terrorists as “Kurdish fighters” are other examples of the factually incorrect and biased narratives to direct perceptions against Turkey.
Such wording has been frequently witnessed in the Western media to create a biased perception against Turkey in its military operation against the U.S.-backed YPG terrorists which threaten the country’s national security along the Syrian border.
Turkish officials have frequently criticized such expressions and expressed their frustration about the term "Kurds" used by the international media to refer to YPG terrorists, saying that the operation only targets PKK-linked terrorists, not Kurds, nor any other ethnic or religious minorities.
"Kurds this, Kurds that... We have no problems with the Kurds there. Our problem is only with YPG terrorists," President Erdoğan said, noting that such expressions are disrespectful to Kurdish people.
“We are fighting against the PKK and YPG terrorists. It does not matter what race or religion the terrorist comes from. A terrorist is a terrorist."
In line with its latest efforts, the Qatar-based media outlet also falsely claimed that Turkey’s plans for the resettlement of refugees will change the demographic composition of the border area.
In recent weeks, Al-Jazeera also put Bashar Assad’s negative remarks about President Erdoğan in their headlines and treated the YPG terrorist group’s senior figure Ferhat Abdi Şahin (Mazloum Kobani) as a “Kurdish commander who fought against the Daesh terror group.”
Şahin is the ringleader of the PKK terrorist group’s Syrian branch and the ninth most wanted fugitive in Turkey. He has very close links to the PKK’s jailed head Abdullah Öcalan. He is also wanted by Interpol on red alert because of his actions targeting civilians and a NATO army.
This was not the first time that the Qatar-based media outlet used such rhetoric. They promoted some figures linked with the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) while Turkey was preparing to commemorate those who died in the July 15 coup attempt, carried out by FETÖ in 2016.
In July, Al-Jazeera hosted two FETÖ members presenting themselves to be the victims.
Mahir Zeynalov, a former editor at FETÖ's media outlet, Today's Zaman, and Çağdaş Kaplan, a well-known FETÖ terrorist who fled the country after the coup attempt, appeared in an Al-Jazeera English program on journalism in Turkey.
They were joined by Can Dündar, the former editor-in-chief of the Turkish newspaper, Cumhuriyet. Dündar, who has a red notice issued for him, is also on the run on charges of spying and revealing state secrets.
Although the topic of discussion was supposedly journalism in Turkey, the move was seen by the audience as an attempt to defame Turkey as a country and a state.
Al-Jazeera English presented these FETÖ members as though they were journalists in exile. The show allowed the members to share their skewed views on Turkey and how they fled the country. The real victims of the coup attempt, however, were completely overlooked throughout the show. FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gülen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 251 people dead and nearly 2,200 injured.
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