Do you watch/read the news to keep up with what’s going on in the world? Recently I’ve been scanning the Yahoo homepage, and I’ve been surprised to see how much negative stuff about Turkey they publish. Most of their items are actually gleaned from other sources. One I came across the other day originated from Business Insider, and announced dramatically, “Turkey created a monster and doesn’t know how to deal with it.”
The gist of the article, insofar as it is possible to follow Michael B Kelley’s tortuous reasoning, seems to be that the Turkish government does not adequately police its border with Syria because it is afraid of retaliation from ISIS. The writer refers to a number of sources, The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He enlists the support of an anonymous ‘Western diplomat’, unnamed ‘Western officials’ and a ‘smuggler and former-fighter with the US-backed free Syrian Army’ to give weight to his argument, which, by implication, is that the Turkish government created the current situation with ISIS.
Well, Kelley’s argument is so porous as to be unworthy of serious debate – but let’s address two of his more outrageous points. Contrary to what he would have us believe, Turkey’s main reason for maintaining an open border has been a humanitarian wish to give sanctuary to hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the civil war that has been raging in Syria for nearly four years. The international community has shown no willingness to provide any relief for these people despite repeated calls from the United Nations to do so. If there are ‘ISIS supporters’ among those refugees, it can hardly be blamed on the Turkish government. Moreover, Kelley appears to criticize Ankara for attempts to ‘trigger the downfall of the Assad regime’ – but later glibly acknowledges that the United States has been backing the Free Syrian Army.
So where is Michael B Kelley coming from? I guess those sources of his make it pretty clear. No need to ask where the sympathies of the folks at the Wall St Journal lie. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy has been described as “part of the core of the Israel lobby in the United States.” The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies is a Washington-based neo-conservative think tank whose ‘major donors are active philanthropists to pro-Israel causes both in the U.S. and internationally.’ Ankara’s willingness to criticise the expansionist policies of the Israeli government in recent years has undoubtedly aroused powerful enemies.
Is there another way of viewing these matters? Indeed there is. A rather more cogent case is put forward on the Global Research website in an article entitled ‘America Created Al-Qaeda and the ISIS Terror Group’. The writer, Garikai Chengu, summarises his argument thus: ‘Much like Al Qaeda, the Islamic State (ISIS) is made-in- the-USA, an instrument of terror designed to divide and conquer the oil-rich Middle East and to counter Iran’s growing influence in the region.’ Avoiding mysterious references to anonymous diplomats, officials and smugglers, and sources whose bias is only too evident, Chengu instead quotes people-in-the-loop like General William Odom, Ronald Reagan’s Director of National Security, and former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook. Among the points he makes:
- Al Qaeda was originally a data-base of Islamist extremists trained by the CIA and funded by Saudi Arabia to combat the Russians in Afghanistan.
- The 2003 US invasion of Iraq handed power to a Shi’ite administration and marginalised vast numbers of Sunni Muslims, exacerbating sectarian divisions and creating a climate conducive to an extremist reaction.
- Washington has been arming rebels in Syria because they perceive Assad’s regime as an ally of Russia. Those weapons have subsequently found their way into the hands of ISIS fighters.
The only way to understand what is going on in the Middle East is to accept that the United States needs the oil and is determined to support Israel right or wrong. From these premises everything else follows. Palestinians must be seen as terrorists rather than as dispossessed people with a genuine grievance. Iran must be prevented from developing nuclear technology to ensure that Israel remains the only nuclear power in the region. Military dictatorships (Saudi Arabia, Egypt) with close ties to the United States must be supported at the expense of human rights and democracy, and so on.
For all the talk of ‘press freedom’ in the Western bloc, governments in those countries are clearly using the manufactured threat of ISIS and Islamic extremism in general to justify increased restrictions on freedom of expression and individual liberties of their own citizens. Watch the news by all means, but keep an eye out for the puppeteer pulling the strings.