Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AK Party have a well developed reputation for anti-Semitism and anti-Israel policies generally. But now ties to the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, are emerging. The Jerusalem Post reported one Islamic State member said Turkey, a member of NATO, provided funds for the terrorist group.
“Turkey paved the way for us. Had Turkey not shown such understanding for us, the Islamic State would not be in its current place. It [Turkey] showed us affection. Large [numbers] of our mujahedeen received medical treatment in Turkey,” said the man, who was not identified. “We do not have the support of Saudi Arabia, but many Saudi families who believe in jihad do assist us. But anyhow, we will no longer need it, soon,” he said.
“We will build the Islamic state in the territories from Tigris to Jordan and Palestine and to Lebanon. Sunni Law will rule,” he continued.
The terrorists took over Azaz, a key town in Syria near the border of Turkey in September 2013. That is significant because Turkey “vocally supported the fight against forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and allowed weapons to cross into Syria on its southern border.” The capture of Azaz allowed easier access to the jihadists. Two months later, CNN featured Turkey’s secret jihadi route to Syria.
Now, ISIS is speaking with Turkey businesses and asking them to return to Iraq.
“Turkish companies have signed major contracts in Iraq, promising to keep their shelves stocked,” said Turkey’s Minister of Economy Nihat Zeybekci. “Our exports to Iraq are now down to 35%, but Iraq cannot easily substitute other sources. We think there will be a boom in demand soon. We also know that IS is contacting individual Turkish businessmen and telling them, ‘Come back, we won’t interfere.’ That is not easy, of course. But when in the future Iraq is rebuilt, it will be Turkey doing it.”
The Islamic State declared a caliphate in areas of Syria and Iraq. There are no confirmations the Islamic State is involved in the Gaza-Israel conflict, but the group made it known they desire a worldwide caliphate. ISIS was present at an anti-Israel rally in the Netherlands and chanted, “Death to the Jews.” On Wednesday, ISIS said the group will aid Palestine when they are finished in Iraq and Syria.
If they feel a kinship with Palestinians, however, there is evidence that that feeling is not mutual. Palestinian TV recently broadcast a comedy sketch mocking ISIS, where the punchline was that, when confronted with an Americanized Israeli, ISIS let them live while killing “infidel” Muslims.
“As for the massacres taking place in Gaza against the Muslim men, women and children, then the Islamic State will do everything within its means to continue striking down every apostate who stands as an obstacle on its paths towards Palestine,” ISIS said in a statement. “It is only matter of time and patience before it (Islamic State) reaches Palestine to fight the barbaric Jews and kill those of them hiding behind the gharqad trees of the Jews.”
The American Jewish Congress asked Erdogan to return his 2004 Profile of Courage Award and described him as “the most virulent anti-Israel leader in the world.” Erdogan replied he would be more than happy to return the award due to Israel’s actions in Gaza. On July 18, he accused Israel of genocide and lashed out at Muslim countries for not doing enough to protect Palestine. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Israel’s actions amount to “ethnic cleansing and a crime against humanity.”
Erdogan and Davutoglu aired these statements as violent, anti-Jewish protests at the Israeli embassy and consulates across Turkey put Turkish citizens in danger. Israel recalled its diplomats and families. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said the Turkish government did nothing to protect its citizens “as rocks were thrown at the Istanbul consulate and the Israeli flag was reportedly torn down and replaced with the Palestinian one at the Ankara embassy.” Newsweek reported Alev Scott said the police were “lenient with protesters compared to the anti-government protests last May.” Erdogan did promise to keep Turkish Jews safe from mobs and protests but asked them to condemn Israel.
“Jews in Turkey are our citizens. We are responsible for their security of life and property,” he said. “I talked with our Jewish citizens’ leaders on Thursday and I stated that they should adopt a firm stance and release a statement against the Israeli government. I will contact them [Jewish leaders in Turkey] again, but whether or not they release a statement, we will never let Jewish people in Turkey get hurt.”