National Journal on Thursday published analysis detailing how terror activities being facilitated by the Turkish government – Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other top officials have provided “protection and access” to terrorist members from a range of groups, including Hamas and Al Qaeda – have now reached a point where they “threaten future cooperation on security issues.”
“It looks like you’ve got a guy that’s off the rails there,” said Jonathan Schanzer, the vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “It’s an important ally for the United States. They have been managing our Syria policy. They were managing our Arab Spring policy. We’ve got a problem that’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.”
But the relationships with people connected to Hamas and al-Qaida is such a problem, argues Schanzer, that it might even qualify Turkey as a state sponsor of terrorism. Now, there are only four countries currently on that list: Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria. All four nations provide support for acts of terrorism, both domestically and internationally.
Revelations have been steadily emerging for months that Turkey is harboring Saleh al-Arouri, Hamas’s West Bank chief and the one reportedly responsible for overseeing an uptick in violence in the territory. Recently leaked evidence also connects Erdogan to Saudi businessman Yasin al-Qadi, who the U.S. has designated for being an Al Qaeda financer. In one example, al-Qadi was provided VIP treatment and protection by Erdogan’s security detail as he traveled through Turkey. Ilhan Tanir, the Washington correspondent for Turkey’s Vatan outlet, specifically called attention to quotes in the piece from former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey James Jeffrey, who represented Washington from 2008 to 2010. Jeffrey was quoted describing efforts at “the highest levels” to ask Ankara to detail Al Qaeda members transmitting through Turkey, and notes that Turkish officials not only largely failed to comply but in fact “use terror if Turkey sees their political goals as commendable.”
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