News / Middle East

Turkey Designates Al-Nusra Front as a Terrorist Organization

An Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra fighter talks on a walkie-talkie while carrying his weapon on Al-Khazan frontline of Khan Sheikhoun, northern Idlib province, Syria, May 17, 2014.
An Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra fighter talks on a walkie-talkie while carrying his weapon on Al-Khazan frontline of Khan Sheikhoun, northern Idlib province, Syria, May 17, 2014.
Dorian Jones
Turkey has designated the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaida-affiliated radical Islamist group that is fighting in Syria, as a terrorist organization.  The decision is being seen as a marked change in Ankara's policy towards the Syrian conflict.
 
The Turkish government's decision to designate the al-Nusra Front as a terrorist organization is in line with the policy of the United States and other Western countries: in December 2010, Washington designated the front as a terrorist group.

Semih Idiz, a diplomatic columnist for the Al Monitor website and the Turkish newspaper Taraf, says until now Ankara viewed al-Nusra very differently from its Western allies.

"Turkey was a bit cool towards that, assuming at the time it was a force that was effective against Bashar al-Assad’s army; it should be given more flexibility in its operations.  But banning it goes to show there is pressure on Turkey both from its Western allies but also in terms of the threat these groups have started posing for Turkey itself," he said.

Observers say Ankara provided at least tacit support to al-Nusra, treating its wounded and providing logistic support, as well as allowing its forces to use Turkish territory to regroup. 

Turkey's main opposition Republican People’s Party accused the ruling AK Party of going as far as providing arms to the radical Islamic group, following an incident last year when Turkish paramilitary police intercepted trucks carrying arms close to the Syrian border that were escorted by Turkish intelligence officers.

The government strongly denied the charges, saying the cargo was for ethnic Turks living in Syria.  But analyst Sinan Ulgen of the Carnegie Institute in Brussels says Turkey’s Western allies were also concerned about Ankara’s relationship with al-Nusra, and that designating it as a terrorist group opens the door to greater cooperation between Turkey and its Western allies over Syria.

"Going forward this is going to make it easier to have a policy dialogue with Turkey’s partners on the issue how to manage the aid to some of these rebel groups in Syria," he said. "Because now Ankara has shown that it shares now the same concerns as some of its partners the nature of these groups."
 
Ankara’s decision will likely also lead to greater cooperation with its Western allies to stem the flow of European jihadists crossing through Turkey to join the fight in Syria.  Observers say it is not only international pressure, but also growing Turkish concern over the presence of al-Nusra on its own territory.  A wall is already being built along parts of Turkey’s 900-kilometer border with Syria amid growing security concerns.

Diplomatic columnist Idiz says Turkish security forces will be now targeting al-Nusra.

"There will be more controls of cross-border crossing of elements of this group," he said. "Now that Turkey has official banned the group, it would be incumbent on the security forces to try prevent any infiltrations of weapons going back and forth. No doubt Turkey’s allies in the West will be watching this, too."
 
Turkish security forces are experienced in tracking radical Islamic groups operating in Turkey and breaking up numerous al-Qaida cells.

Analyst Ulgen says such steps will need to be taken quickly.

"Now Turkey will be viewed by al-Nusra as an enemy, as opposed to a country that until now has rather been a supporter in its fight against Assad. So now there is an increasing risk on the Turkish side [of] al-Nusra trying to hit Turkish interests and Turkish targets," said Ulgen.
 
Citing security sources, Turkish media have reported that al-Nusra has suicide bombers already based in Turkey and is planning to target Syrian opposition figures living in Turkey.  In 2003, an al-Qaida cell carried out a series of suicide bombings across Istanbul.  Turkish security forces will be working hard to prevent a repeat of such attacks.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
June 04, 2014 10:34 PM
I was writing in my previous comments that AL NUSRA is a terrorist group sponsor by Saudi Arabia. This is a very shameful act by SA to sponsor terrorist to kill fellow Muslims in the name of Islam. They even issued Fatwa to rape girls in the name of Jihadi al Islam. I do not know why rich and powerful people use religion for their own wish. Every rich and powerful man should be ready in front of God court for their dirty game in this world and play with poor peoples blood and honor.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs