Seldom is there such a divergence between a country’s reputation and the reality of its policy than with regard to Turkey. For too many in the White House and Congress, Turkey remains a model for the Middle East, but in reality, Turkey has become an engine for regional instability and the promotion of radicalism. Indeed, when extremists took over northern Mali and gave al Qaeda free rein, a Turkish ambassador tweeted his endorsement of al Qaeda and condemned the French for intervening.
In recent months, there has been a figurative civil war among Turkish Islamists after authoritarian Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had a falling out with the followers of Islamist thinker Fethullah Gülen, upon whose organization he once relied. Gülen’s followers had infiltrated and come to dominate the security forces. When those security forces were targeting Turkey’s secularists and liberals, Erdoğan had no problem. But evidently, the Gülenists were secretly bugging just about everyone, including those in the Prime Minister’s office.
All of the subsequent tapes—showing widespread corruption, abuse-of-power, and illicit activity—seem to reflect reality; none has been shown to have been manufactured or fraudulent. That doesn’t mean they would be admissible in a court of law, although in Turkey that’s neither here nor there since Erdoğan opposes judicial independence anyway.
Over at Commentary, I’ve blogged on occasion about those secret recordings, seeking to put them into context. Two months ago, well before Boko Haram seized more than 300 school girls, I blogged here on one tape that appeared to suggest the leadership of the state-owned Turkish Airlines was upset with having to smuggle arms into Nigeria, apparently to be utilized by insurgents, read Boko Haram. Turkish Airlines seemed to want assurance that those arms would be used only to kill Christians, and not Muslims. While Turkish Airlines has not surprisingly denied their involvement, the tapes speak for themselves.
It’s time Turkey come clean on its support for the most fringe elements in the Islamist spectrum, be they the Nusra Front in Syria, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Mali, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and perhaps even the Islamic State of Iraq. Far from being part of the solution, Turkey is perhaps after Iran the state sponsor of terror with the greatest global reach.