By Giovanni Giacalone, Analyst KEDISA
As Turkey’s Islamist president Tayyip Erdogan progressively consolidated his power throughout the years, Ankara’s role on an international level has quickly changed from being NATO’s vanguard towards the East and a bridge between Europe and the Middle East to a State sponsor of terrorism, supporting jihadist and ruthless mercenaries in Gaza, Libya, and Syria.
If such a statement might appear excessively strong to some who still wish to see Turkey in its old shoes, then it is more than appropriate to expose Erdogan’s latest act in favor of international terrorism, as around a dozen high members of the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas have received Turkish passports and ID cards, as exposed to Reuters by Roey Gilad, chargé d’affaires at Israel’s embassy in Turkey, who also added:
“We have already one document that we will present to the government in copy… Judging by the last experience we had by presenting a well-based portfolio to the government… and getting no reply, I must say I don’t have high hopes that something will be done this time.”
Gilad also explained how Hamas members who received Turkish documents were financing and organizing terror activities from Istanbul, something which Turkey has previously denied. Many of them came to Turkey under a 2011 deal between Turkey and Israel to exchange a captured Israeli soldier for more than 1,000 prisoners.
The news was further confirmed by the British daily newspaper “The Telegraph”.
Among terrorists receiving Turkish citizenship it is possible to find Zakarya Najib, well known to Israeli authorities for having transferred $25,000 to Hamas operative Seif al-Din Abd al-Nabi, back in 2016. The money was intended for the families of terrorists residing in Gaza and the West Bank.
Another well-known terrorist who now owns a Turkish passport, thanks to Erdogan, is Jihad Yaamour, Hamas key man on Turkish soil and with plenty of contacts among government officials and AKP party members. Israeli domestic intelligence, Shin Bet, linked Yaamour to two Hamas members detained three years ago: Kamil Takli, also known with the Turkish name “Cemeli Tekeli” (professor of legal studies in Turkey) and Daram Jabbarin.
Another well-known Hamas member who is now a Turkish citizen is Hisham Abdel Qader Ibrahim Hijaz, a native of the Ramallah area, who has been accused by Israeli authorities of organizing terrorist attacks and recruiting operatives, as exposed by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Information Center.
As if this wasn’t enough, last week Tayyip Erdogan received a delegation of high members of Hamas, including Ismail Haniyeh and Saleh al-Arouri, a top military commander who has a $5 million US bounty on his head.
The meeting was strongly condemned by the US government, but the Turkish Foreign Ministry rejected such criticism by accusing Washington of “serving Israel’s interests” and by adding that “Declaring the legitimate representative of Hamas, who came to power after winning democratic elections in Gaza and is an important reality of the region, as a terrorist will not be of any contribution to efforts for peace and stability in the region.”
It is quite ironic to see the Turkish government mention the term “democratic elections” since Hamas hasn’t allowed new elections in Gaza since the organization achieved power back in 2006. It is also worth recalling how, after the electoral victory, Hamas operatives conducted violent attacks against Fatah members, including a raid at a wedding, as caught in a video and reported by the Associated Press.
After all, Erdogan doesn’t seem to get along very well with democratic principles either, as shown by the mass arrest campaigns against political opponents, journalists who dared to criticize the regime and even law enforcers simply trying to do their job. The accusations are always the same: “treason” and even “terrorism”, which makes many wonder if Erdogan has any idea of what terrorism really is.
It might be worth recalling that Hamas is blacklisted as a terrorist organization in Europe, the United States and Israel; hence, considering Turkey’s current membership in NATO, Erdogan needs to decide on which side he wants Turkey to be, because keeping feet on multiple brackets can be extremely dangerous, even for expert equilibrists.
It is also important to recall how Erdogan’s administration actively supported, armed and medically treated jihadist terrorists operating in Syria and belonging to al-Qaeda and Isis. Many of these terrorists have later been transferred to Libya in support of Ankara’s Islamist puppet GNA regime led by Fayyez al-Serraj and his militias.
Erdogan’s delirium of omnipotence and ideological hysteria has also generated serious problems within NATO as Turkish navy and military have constantly been provoking their Greek neighbors and seeking confrontation with French and Greek navy in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey’s real problem comes from within and it is called “the Muslim Brotherhood” (MB). As a matter of fact, Erdogan is the most blatant example of an Islamist democratically elected government turned despotic and whose only interests are to maintain power at all cost, crash criticism and implement aggression on an international level.
This same path had been taken in Egypt by Erdogan’s Islamist fellow, Mohamed Morsy, back in 2011. In just one year of power, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood-led government managed to achieve several records, such as a frightful amount of legal acts taken against those who dared to oppose Morsy’s decisions; an amount four times greater than during the Mubarak years and twenty-four times more than that of Sadat, as already illustrated by the Arabic Network for Human Rights. Now, considering that Morsy only remained in power for one year, the number is extremely meaningful.
Morsy also managed to achieve the first pogrom against Shias in the story of Egypt while at the same time trying to set up secret deals with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, supporting Hamas and even being accused of spying for Qatar (The Muslim Brotherhood’s safe haven in the Middle east).
It is clear that Turkey’s secular achievements and NATO membership are being put at serious stake by Erdogan’s agenda. It is fair to say that if on one side Erdogan and his establishment are strongly committed to an Islamist ideology, on the other hand, the Turkish president needs such an aggressive stance as dissent within Turkey is on the rise and the Turkish economy is progressively crumbling. This explains Erdogan’s thirst for oil and gas, wherever it might be found (Syria, the Eastern Mediterranean, Libya, the Black Sea) and at anybody’s expense.
So far, Erdogan has managed to maintain power through massive internal repression, incarceration and by keeping one foot on NATO and one on Russia; however, this game might not last for long as Turkey looks increasingly similar to State sponsors of terrorism such as Iran and Qatar, a characteristic which, on the medium-long term, will create incompatibility with Europe, NATO, and the United States, no matter how hard will their leaderships try to look the other way. It’s just a matter of time and it is running out.
On Saturday, Erdogan hosted Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh and other officials in Istanbul for the second time this year, prompting objections from Washington, which linked one of the men to terrorist attacks, hijackings and kidnappings. Ankara said it rejected the U.S. criticism.