News / Europe

Turkey's Erdogan May Be Changing His Attitude Toward Jihadists

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of his ruling AK Party during a meeting at the party headquarters in Ankara, Turkey, Aug. 14, 2014.
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of his ruling AK Party during a meeting at the party headquarters in Ankara, Turkey, Aug. 14, 2014.
Dorian Jones

As prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan's foreign policy toward jihadist groups like the Islamic State has strained relations with his Western allies. And once again the issue is being raised as Erdogan ascends to his new role as president of Turkey, though it appears a change may be in the offing.

Erdogan bellowed to his supporters last month that Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip dwarfs the atrocities Hitler committed during World War II.

Despite condemnation from both Europe and Washington, Erdogan has continued to repeat these explosive remarks to rapturous applause from his conservative Muslim base.

Turkey's allies increasingly have been concerned about Erdogan's outbursts since last year's brutal crackdown on anti-government protests over plans to build on Gezi Park next to Istanbul's Taksim Square.

Signs of change

Sinan Ulgen, an analyst for the Carnegie Institute in Brussels, said that with Erdogan's ascension to the presidency, however, he may be ready to change course.

"He will try and improve his international image, an image that was tarnished over the past year, especially since Gezi," said Ulgen. "He will certainly have the opportunity to win back some of the trust that he lost in the last year in terms of his international standing."

The raging conflicts in Iraq and Syria, heightened by the sweeping gains of the radical group Islamic State, could offer President-elect Erdogan an opportunity to improve relations with his Western allies.

Turkey shares borders with both Iraq and Syria, so it's seen by Western intelligence agencies as key to keeping tabs on jihadists, especially when they return home.

Competing loyalties

But where Ankara's loyalties lie regarding radical Islamist groups like Islamic State is far from clear, according to international relations expert Soli Ozel of Istanbul's Kadir Has University.

"We have enough stories and evidence that Turkey played a role in the grooming of IS. They thought 'the more the merrier,' that is, the more groups attacking Bashar al-Assad regime [the better]," said Ozel. "We've heard from people in the regime and IS people themselves, how easily they can cross the border and now how it is finally becoming more difficult. Because in words, and I guess in deeds too, it's changing its policy. Because it can't sustain its dialogue with its Western allies, which after all Turkey understood it needs."

Analysts say cooperation between Turkey and Western intelligence agencies has improved in terms of monitoring Islamic State. They say the reason could be partly because Turkey is concerned about the repercussions of having backed jihadists.

Also adding to Erdogan's apparent change in policy is concern over the 49 diplomats that the Islamist group took hostage when it seized the Iraqi city of Mosul.

Ozel contends Ankara cannot fully move against Islamic State, though, for a few reasons.

"IS basically holds Turkey hostage by holding 49 hostages. We don't know the fate of the hostages. [And], if the reports are correct, 10 percent of IS fighters are Turkish," said Ozel. "That means there are lots of sympathizers. You never know where there are sleeper cells that may actually decide to commit a violent act in a major city."

Last month many Turkish TV channels broadcast footage of scores of Islamic State members and supporters holding a gathering just outside Istanbul. Such an event sends a powerful message to Erdogan that if he does move against the jihadist group, he will have to reckon with the threat of retaliation and the fate of the Turkish hostages. But the reward could be an important step in rebuilding relations with Turkey's Western allies.
 
 

 

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: hmp49 from: Asheville, NC
August 15, 2014 4:42 PM
How comical is it that the head of the country that massacred 1.2 million Armenians, an act that lead to the creation of the word "genocide" accuses Israel of being "worse than the Nazis"

More recently, Turkey has killed 40,000 Turkish Kurds, 90% of whom were fellow Muslims. Yet this NATO "ally" has 1600 troops in Afghanistan as non-combatants because they refuse to lift a weapon against "other Muslims."

Erdogan is a terrorist and a hypocrite.

In Response

by: Ali baba from: new york
August 16, 2014 10:27 AM
I totally agree with you. I need to add if Turkish group refuse to combat mission, NATO should remove Turkey as a member Of NATO .Beside , they killed Armani on , they several million in several country such Bulgaria, Egypt. The history of Turkey is So dark and the president say it straight that he supported Muslim brotherhood which I terrorist organization. Today he said he will not supported Jihadist whom killed at least hindered of thousand. He let them use turkey as a base for them


by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 15, 2014 10:51 AM
I have been wondering where ISIS has been getting its funds from. Now I know. Erdogan has had outbursts that only a terrorist can exhibit. He is fundamentally raw; he is largely brutish. No wonder he hates civilization despite his leaning west. If Erdogan is mellowing down now, it is not because he has had a change of heart, it does not even mean he is ready to change his position or attitude to anything that is not extremist in islamist nature, it is because his noisemakers - his praise singers, maybe mercenaries - are at work to see how they can make him what he is not.

I don't even think he's going to like it either. This is because he likes to see himself as a toughie and a hard man of islamist thinking. He thinks that brings him respect from his fellow islamist hardliners in Asia and Middle East, and may be also put fear into Israel. Even though these were not the primordial reasons he is the way he is, but he enjoys it and wants to remain so, because it may have truly fagged a few muslim states within his region, but I do not know if Israel regards him more than they are prepared to take on him any time he played into their 18yard box. Which he has not done so far, even though he's always ranting like boxing/wrestling contestants before they enter the ring.

In Response

by: Ali Baba from: New york
August 16, 2014 10:38 AM
Do not wonder please ,t hey got the money from Arab countries and from their relative who live in Us and Europe. Radical Muslim can immigrate to US .There is lottery immigrant program . Their radical group can arrange phony marriage . once in Us they able to get rich . doctors cam make !0 million/year and contribute money for them . I believe that the richest person in England is A Egyptian. ,there some Egyptian can earn over 100,million and supported them by giving money

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid