News / Middle East

    Turkey's Ties With ISIL Continue to Arouse Suspicions

    Masked people in guerrilla outfits hold up a poster of of jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan as they demonstrate during the Nowruz celebrations in southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, Turkey, March 21, 2014.
    Masked people in guerrilla outfits hold up a poster of of jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan as they demonstrate during the Nowruz celebrations in southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, Turkey, March 21, 2014.
    Dorian Jones

    Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants continue to score victories across Iraq. For neighbor Turkey, there is growing concern over ISIL's growing power, particularly in its predominantly Kurdish southeast, which borders Iraq and Syria.

    In Diyarbakir, as in the rest of Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are religious.

    That, analysts say, and decades of economic underdevelopment and conflict, with the Kurds fighting for minority rights, have helped make the region a fertile recruiting ground for organizations like ISIL.

    Young Kurds

    Already more than dozen young Kurds from Turkey have died fighting for ISIL in neighboring Iraqi and Syria, according to Muammer Akar, a Diyarbakir city counselor and prominent member of Turkey’s ruling AK Party.

    Besides local factors, the region - like the rest of the Middle East - is paying the price for years of religious rivalry between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Iran, he said, adding that ISIL is attracting a growing number of recruits.

    Saudi Arabia has spent a significant amount of money here developing a radical form of Sunni Islam called Wahhabism to counter Iran’s influence. Over the years, many Kurdish youths were attracted and have become increasingly radical and closer to committing violence.  

    Akar claims funerals in the region for ISIL militants draw large numbers and have become a powerful recruiting tool for the Islamic group.

    But critics are accusing the ruling AK Party, which has its roots in Islam, of turning a blind eye to ISIL activities on Turkey's border with Syria because of the party's opposition to the Syrian regime, and because ISIL is fighting Syrian Kurds, who have declared a secular autonomous state on Turkey’s border.

    Ankara fears its own restive Kurdish population could make similar demands for autonomy. It has accused the Syrian Kurdish leadership of links to the PKK, which has been fighting the Turkish state for minority rights for decades.

    Two hours drive from Diyarbakir, in the town of Cizre, located near the Tukrish, Syrian and Iraqi borders, Deputy Mayor Kadir Konur accuses the ruling party of going beyond tacit support of ISIL.

    He said ISIL's resources come from Turkey, citing what he said are numerous instances of trucks leaving Turkey with arms for groups like ISIL.

    Many people on Cizre's streets appear to share such concerns, especially for the plight of Syrian Kurds just across the border.

    "We are very pessimistic because of ISIL and all the massacres they’ve done in Syrian Kurdistan, he said. The killing of women and children. It is very clear that many ISIL fighters cross the border from Turkey and the AK Party allows this," said a man on the street interviewed by VOA.

    Escalating charges

    Suspicions of Turkish government involvement with ISIL have been heightened by an anonymously released video showing Turkish soldiers intercepting two Turkish trucks allegedly carrying Syria-bound weapons. The soldiers manhandle Turkish intelligence officers who are in cars escorting the trucks. According to prosecutors, the arms were being sent to radical Islamic groups fighting in Syria.

    The government claims the trucks were only carrying aid and strongly denied allegations of gun-running, pointing out that it has designated ISIL a terrorist group. But the prosecutors and soldiers investigating the trucks have now been charged with spying.

    Diyarbakir city counselor and AK Party member Muammer Akar said his own party may not be aware of the dangers Turkey is facing.
     
    "Ankara doesn’t see the danger, as they are dealing with so many other issues, but we do," said Akar. "It’s only a matter of time before ISIL targets Turkey; since they see us as a country of heretics, they will attack our big western cities."

    ISIL videos aimed at Turkish and Kurdish youths continue to appear on the Internet, calling them to join the jihad. Observers are increasingly asking if -- or when -- the war to create an Islamic state will come to Turkey.

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: John from: London
    July 06, 2014 2:28 PM
    More than dozen young Turks* from Turkey have died fighting for ISIL in neighboring Iraqi and Syria too... Really bad analyse... Muslims from all over the world have joined ISIL and ISIS... If the kurds become "violent" it's because they would be fighting for their rights and freedom and not for some islamic state!

    by: claudia urquiaga from: germany
    June 29, 2014 4:56 PM
    I do not believe that kurds fight for isil...and with an akp politician stating this less...the akp seems to do everything to bring kurds in a bad reputation...and this article helps them...very bad research..very bad article for kurds..and very bad for article for a future achieving peace between turks and kurds...

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora