Why France’s brave new war on ISIS is a sick joke
NATO is harbouring the Islamic State
“We stand alongside Turkey in its efforts in protecting its national security and fighting against terrorism. France and Turkey are on the same side within the framework of the international coalition against the terrorist group ISIS.”
The 13th November Paris massacre will be remembered, like 9/11, as a defining moment in world history.
The murder of 129 people, the injury of 352 more, by ‘Islamic State’ (ISIS) acolytes striking multiple targets simultaneously in the heart of Europe, mark a major sea-change in the terror threat.
For the first time, a Mumbai-style attack has occurred on Western soil — the worst attack on Europe in decades. As such, it has triggered a seemingly commensurate response from France: the declaration of a nationwide state of emergency, the likes of which have not been seen since the 1961 Algerian war.
ISIS has followed up with threats to attack Washington and New York City.
Meanwhile, President Hollande wants European Union leaders to suspend the Schengen Agreement on open borders to allow dramatic restrictions on freedom of movement across Europe. He also demands the EU-wide adoption of the Passenger Name Records (PNR) system allowing intelligence services to meticulously track the travel patterns of Europeans, along with an extension of the state of emergency to at least three months.
Under the extension, French police can now block any website, put people under house arrest without trial, search homes without a warrant, and prevent suspects from meeting others deemed a threat.
“We know that more attacks are being prepared, not just against France but also against other European countries,” said the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. “We are going to live with this terrorist threat for a long time.”
Hollande plans to strengthen the powers of police and security services under new anti-terror legislation, and to pursue amendments to the constitution that would permanently enshrine the state of emergency into French politics. “We need an appropriate tool we can use without having to resort to the state of emergency,” he explained.
Parallel with martial law at home, Hollande was quick to accelerate military action abroad, launching 30 airstrikes on over a dozen Islamic State targets in its de facto capital, Raqqa.
France’s defiant promise, according to Hollande, is to “destroy” ISIS.
The ripple effect from the attacks in terms of the impact on Western societies is likely to be permanent. In much the same way that 9/11 saw the birth of a new era of perpetual war in the Muslim world, the 13/11 Paris attacks are already giving rise to a brave new phase in that perpetual war: a new age of Constant Vigilance, in which citizens are vital accessories to the police state, enacted in the name of defending a democracy eroded by the very act of defending it through Constant Vigilance.
Mass surveillance at home and endless military projection abroad are the twin sides of the same coin of national security, which must simply be maximized as much as possible.
“France is at war,” Hollande told French parliament at the Palace of Versailles.
“We’re not engaged in a war of civilizations, because these assassins do not represent any. We are in a war against jihadist terrorism which is threatening the whole world.”
The friend of our enemy is our friend
Conspicuously missing from President Hollande’s decisive declaration of war however, was any mention of the biggest elephant in the room: state-sponsorship.
Syrian passports discovered near the bodies of two of the suspected Paris attackers, according to police sources, were fake, and likely forged in Turkey.
Earlier this year, the Turkish daily Meydan reported that citing an Uighur source that more than 100,000 fake Turkish passports had been given to ISIS. The figure, according to the US Army’s Foreign Studies Military Office (FSMO), is likely exaggerated, but corroborated “by Uighurs captured with Turkish passports in Thailand and Malaysia.”
Further corroboration came from a Sky News Arabia report by correspondent Stuart Ramsey, which revealed that the Turkish government was certifying passports of foreign militants crossing the Turkey-Syria border to join ISIS. The passports, obtained from Kurdish fighters, had the official exit stamp of Turkish border control, indicating the ISIS militants had entered Syria with full knowledge of Turkish authorities.
The dilemma facing the Erdogan administration is summed up by the FSMO: “If the country cracks down on illegal passports and militants transiting the country, the militants may target Turkey for attack. However, if Turkey allows the current course to continue, its diplomatic relations with other countries and internal political situation will sour.”
This barely scratches the surface. A senior Western official familiar with a large cache of intelligence obtained this summer from a major raid on an ISIS safehouse told the Guardian that “direct dealings between Turkish officials and ranking ISIS members was now ‘undeniable.’”
The same official confirmed that Turkey, a longstanding member of NATO, is not just supporting ISIS, but also other jihadist groups, including Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. “The distinctions they draw [with other opposition groups] are thin indeed,” said the official. “There is no doubt at all that they militarily cooperate with both.”
In a rare insight into this brazen state-sponsorship of ISIS, a year ago Newsweek reported the testimony of a former ISIS communications technician, who had travelled to Syria to fight the regime of Bashir al-Assad.
The former ISIS fighter told Newsweek that Turkey was allowing ISIS trucks from Raqqa to cross the “border, through Turkey and then back across the border to attack Syrian Kurds in the city of Serekaniye in northern Syria in February.” ISIS militants would freely travel “through Turkey in a convoy of trucks,” and stop “at safehouses along the way.”
The former ISIS communication technician also admitted that he would routinely “connect ISIS field captains and commanders from Syria with people in Turkey on innumerable occasions,” adding that “the people they talked to were Turkish officials… ISIS commanders told us to fear nothing at all because there was full cooperation with the Turks.”
In January, authenticated official documents of the Turkish military were leaked online, showing that Turkey’s intelligence services had been caught in Adana by military officers transporting missiles, mortars and anti-aircraft ammunition via truck “to the al-Qaeda terror organisation” in Syria.
According to other ISIS suspects facing trial in Turkey, the Turkish national military intelligence organization (MIT) had begun smuggling arms, including NATO weapons to jihadist groups in Syria as early as 2011.
The allegations have been corroborated by a prosecutor and court testimony of Turkish military police officers, who confirmed that Turkish intelligence was delivering arms to Syrian jihadists from 2013 to 2014.
Documents leaked in September 2014 showed that Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan had financed weapons shipments to ISIS through Turkey. A clandestine plane from Germany delivered arms in the Etimesgut airport in Turkey and split into three containers, two of which were dispatched to ISIS.
A report by the Turkish Statistics Institute confirmed that the government had provided at least $1 million in arms to Syrian rebels within that period, contradicting official denials. Weapons included grenades, heavy artillery, anti-aircraft guns, firearms, ammunition, hunting rifles and other weapons — but the Institute declined to identify the specific groups receiving the shipments.
Information of that nature emerged separately. Just two months ago, Turkish police raided a news outlet that published revelations on how the local customs director had approved weapons shipments from Turkey to ISIS.
Turkey has also played a key role in facilitating the life-blood of ISIS’ expansion: black market oil sales. Senior political and intelligence sources in Turkey and Iraq confirm that Turkish authorities have actively facilitated ISIS oil sales through the country.
Last summer, Mehmet Ali Ediboglu, an MP from the main opposition, the Republican People’s Party,estimated the quantity of ISIS oil sales in Turkey at about $800 million — that was over a year ago.
By now, this implies that Turkey has facilitated over $1 billion worth of black market ISIS oil sales to date.
There is no “self-sustaining economy” for ISIS, contrary to the fantasies of the Washington Post and Financial Times in their recent faux investigations, according to Martin Chulov of the Guardian:
“… tankers carrying crude drawn from makeshift refineries still make it to the [Turkey-Syria] border. One Isis member says the organisation remains a long way from establishing a self-sustaining economy across the area of Syria and Iraq it controls. ‘They need the Turks. I know of a lot of cooperation and it scares me,’ he said. ‘I don’t see how Turkey can attack the organisation too hard. There are shared interests.’”
Senior officials of the ruling AKP have conceded the extent of the government’s support for ISIS.
The liberal Turkish daily Taraf quoted an AKP founder, Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat, admitting: “In order to weaken the developments in Rojova [Kurdish province in Syria] the government gave concessions and arms to extreme religious groups…the government was helping the wounded. The Minister of Health said something such as, it’s a human obligation to care for the ISIS wounded.”
The paper also reported that ISIS militants routinely receive medical treatment in hospitals in southeast Turkey— including al-Baghdadi’s right-hand man.
Writing in Hurriyet Daily News, journalist Ahu Ozyurt described his “shock” at learning of the pro-ISIS “feelings of the AKP’s heavyweights” in Ankara and beyond, including “words of admiration for ISIL from some high-level civil servants even in Şanliurfa. ‘They are like us, fighting against seven great powers in the War of Independence,’ one said. ‘Rather than the PKK on the other side, I would rather have ISIL as a neighbor,’ said another.”
Meanwhile, NATO leaders feign outrage and learned liberal pundits continue to scratch their heads in bewilderment as to ISIS’ extraordinary resilience and inexorable expansion.
Unsurprisingly, then, Turkey’s anti-ISIS bombing raids have largely been token gestures. Under cover of fighting ISIS, Turkey has largely used the opportunity to bomb the Kurdish forces of the Democratic Union Party (YPG) in Syria and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey and Iraq. Yet those forces are widely recognized to be the most effective fighting ISIS on the ground.
Meanwhile, Turkey has gone to pains to thwart almost every US effort to counter ISIS. When this summer, 54 graduates of the Pentagon’s $500 million ‘moderate’ Syrian rebel train-and-equip program were kidnapped by Jabhat al-Nusra — al-Qaeda’s arm in Syria — it was due to a tip-off from Turkish intelligence.
The Turkish double-game was confirmed by multiple rebel sources to McClatchy, but denied by a Pentagon spokesman who said, reassuringly:
“Turkey is a NATO ally, close friend of the United States and an important partner in the international coalition.”
Nevermind that Turkey has facilitated about $1 billion in ISIS oil sales.
According to a US-trained Division 30 officer with access to information on the incident, Turkey was trying “to leverage the incident into an expanded role in the north for the Islamists in Nusra and Ahrar” and to persuade the United States to “speed up the training of rebels.”
As Professor David Graeber of London School of Economics pointed out:
“Had Turkey placed the same kind of absolute blockade on Isis territories as they did on Kurdish-held parts of Syria… that blood-stained ‘caliphate’ would long since have collapsed — and arguably, the Paris attacks may never have happened. And if Turkey were to do the same today, Isis would probably collapse in a matter of months. Yet, has a single western leader called on Erdoğan to do this?”
Some officials have spoken up about the paradox, but to no avail. Last year, Claudia Roth, deputy speaker of the German parliament, expressed shock that NATO is allowing Turkey to harbour an ISIS camp in Istanbul, facilitate weapons transfers to Islamist militants through its borders, and tacitly support IS oil sales.
Instead, Turkey has been amply rewarded for its alliance with the very same terror-state that wrought the Paris massacre on 13th November 2015. Just a month earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkeloffered to fast-track Turkey’s bid to join the EU, permitting visa-free travel to Europe for Turks.
No doubt this would be great news for the security of Europe’s borders.
It is not just Turkey. Senior political and intelligence sources in the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) have confirmed the complicity of
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