Is Erdogan a double-dealing tyrant helping Daesh?

From what I can tell Turkey was seriously over-reaching shooting down Russian’s Su-25 when it was barely over Turkey.

Putin won’t be pleased but there are other reasons why we shouldn’t be that pleased with Erdogan and Turkey at the moment.

Michael Burleigh writes in the Daily Mail about Erdogan’s actions and duplicity

Despotic presidents tend to have many admirers who will hail them as saviours of their nations. But they also have a tendency to lock horns with other despots.

The clash between Russia?s Vladimir Putin and Turkey?s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, after Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian fighter, is one which has set the entire world on edge as diplomats desperately work overtime to reduce the tension.

Putin is not blameless in this affair. His air force has been probing Western air spaces provocatively in a number of different locations in recent months. But was the Russian president right, after the downing of the jet, to accuse ?back-stabbing? Turkey of being the accomplices of ISIS terrorists?

And was there any truth in Putin?s accusation yesterday ? made just as Moscow was expelling 39 Turkish businessmen attending a conference in Russia ? that Turkey is propping up ISIS by buying oil from them?

This latest claim inevitably prompted a furious response from Erdogan, who accused Putin of slander. But the fact is that Erdogan?s regime has on many occasions turned a blind eye to ISIS activity in Turkey, as well as to Turkish businessmen and smugglers doing trade deals with the jihadist butchers.

To be fair, on the surface, Turkey?s president is fully involved in the fight against ISIS. In October he allowed U.S. jets to use Turkey?s Incirlik air base for operations against ISIS, pledging that his forces, too, would join the fight.

But the truth is that Turkey?s planes have aimed their missiles almost exclusively at the one army which poses a real threat to ISIS, and has won countless battlefield victories against them ? the Kurdish PKK forces inside Syria.

Erdogan is an Islamist, and a hard core one at that. He is on record as stating there is no such thing as moderate Islam, just Islam.

The trouble is that Erdogan, who has spent years ruthlessly concentrating power into his own hands, considers the Kurds an even greater threat to his nation than ISIS.

A fifth of Turkey?s 75 million people are Kurds who, along with fellow Kurds in Syria, Iran and Iraq, want to form their own country, with a population of some 40 million. Erdogan sees this plan for a Kurdish nation as a mortal threat to Turkey and will take any opportunity to attack those behind it. Furthermore, he loathes Syria?s President Bashar al-Assad. And if ISIS is weakened, Assad?s forces ? backed by Russia ? will be strengthened commensurately.

The fact is that ISIS could rapidly be destroyed if Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq ? along with Kurdish guerillas in Turkey ? were fully unleashed. They have proved extraordinarily militarily effective and oppose every aspect of Isis?s devilish ideology.

Yet this does not happen because PKK forces in Syria and Kurds in northern Iraq are under continual bombardment by the Turkish air force. No, the fact is that while Turkey may be a member of Nato ? and of the alliance taking on the jihadists ? Erdogan seems to be doing almost everything he can to cripple the forces actually fighting ISIS.

But then Erdogan has always been utterly ruthless when it comes to protecting his own interests. He became prime minister of Turkey back in 2003, has been re-elected three times, and last year became the country?s first directly elected president.

Erdogan has changed Turkey and people I know from there are quite afraid of the changes he has brought.

But perhaps the most worrying aspect of Erdogan?s consolidation of power is that it has gone hand in hand with his transformation of Turkey ? a country with a 500,000-strong army ? from a secular into an Islamist state.

Modern Turkey was founded in 1923 as a secular republic by the ?father of the nation?, Kemal Ataturk, after the collapse of the mighty Ottoman Empire, of which Islam was the main religion and where Sunni clerics were hugely influential.

In Ataturk?s new republic, the clerics were marginalised in terms of government influence. Government officials (who were often generals) at gatherings where imams were present always made a point of offering delegates the local spirit ?raki? ? even though Muslims are forbidden to touch alcohol.

Whenever the Islamists appeared to be getting too powerful, the army would move in to remove them. In the decades before Erdogan came to power, the army had intervened four times to curb Islamist influence.

Erdogan himself was jailed in 1997 when he was mayor of Istanbul and active in Islamist circles.

It was an experience he never forgot and in 2012, when he was prime Minister, he got his revenge by putting 324 serving officers on trial. Some were jailed for 20 years, reportedly as a result of fabricated evidence. Funding for the armed forces, meanwhile, was cut by 30 per cent.

To help crush the independence of the armed forces, Erdogan relied on a shadowy network called the Gulenists, a sect-like elite which had infiltrated the judiciary, prosecution service and police. Once they had served their purpose, Erdogan jettisoned them ? and the sect?s leader is now exiled in Pennsylvania.

Thousands of prosecutors and police have been purged, political protests have been crushed, investigations into corruption dismissed and the country?s relatively free media repressed.

The actions of a despot heading towards dictatorship. He is slowly but surely turning secular Turkey into an Islamist nation…and trying quietly to assimilate Turkey inside NATO at the same time.

[T]he violent Islamists are gaining in strength.

In his obsession with removing Syria?s President Assad, Erdogan has ignored the way ISIS has quietly infiltrated dingy and depressed Turkish towns through which they funnel foreign jihadists to Syria. Turkish smugglers buy ISIS oil by the tanker load.

Worrying numbers of young Turks, including members of the youth wing of Erdogan?s AKP party, now support ISIS. In the aftermath of the ISIS attack on Paris, Turkish football fans booed during the minute?s silence for victims at a match in Istanbul between Turkey and Greece. There were even cries of ?Allahu Akbar? ? the Islamic phrase meaning ?God is greater?.

Before this year?s elections, ISIS launched two bomb attacks in Turkey on Kurdish rallies in Suruc in July and Ankara in October, killing 134 people in total.

Yet despite this, 7 per cent of Turks do not regard ISIS as terrorists, and more than 15 per cent say they are not a threat to Turkey.

Erdogan?s deep fear is not ISIS, but rather 40 million Kurds in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran who might coalesce into a single new state.

That?s why he has been bombing the Kurds (and illegally sending his planes into northern Iraq to hit PKK bases) rather than focusing on ISIS.

That?s why, too, Vladimir Putin is at least partly right to accuse him of duplicity in his fight against ISIS. Erdogan may want to join the EU, but he?s only a fair-weather friend of the West.

We are in a war for our society, and Turkey isn’t on our side….again

– Daily Mail