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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.