BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
On Monday morning, news of ISIS militants’ advance on Kobane near the Turkey-Syria border flooded the media, with some citing eyewitness accounts that ISIS has planted its flag atop the hilly area, with the local Kurdish population fighting for its life and against the ISIS militants.
So where was the United States’ trusted ally Turkey in its pledge to help the so-called international effort led by the US to topple the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which now goes by the name of Islamic State?
We can say one thing: The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was, most likely, gloating because a day before he had received an apology from Vice-President Biden, who told the truth by revealing Turkey’s—and Erodgan’s—role in the advancement of ISIS in the region.
While speaking to a group of students at Harvard, Biden discussed the US strategy/policy in the region and expressed that Erdogan had admitted Turkey’s errors in allowing militants to freely roam its border. This comment angered Erdogan, who demanded an apology from Biden and threatened that “he [Biden] will be history for me if he has indeed used such expressions.”
It seems that Biden’s friendship with Erdogan, also known as the US completely succumbing and kowtowing to Turkey, far outweighs the truth that Turkey, in fact, has played a large role in aiding ISIS and allowing its spread of deadly violence in Iraq and Turkey.
This fact was highlighted by former US Ambassador to Turkey Francis Riccardione who told the London-based The Telegraph last month that Turkey has directly supported al Qaeda’s Syrian wing in defiance of the US and has worked with other hard-line al Qaeda affiliates, effectively opening its borders to Syria and allowing free access to those rebels.
“The Turks frankly worked with groups for a period, including al Nusra, whom we finally designated as we’re not willing to work with,” Riccardione was quoted in The Telegraph explaining the US response to Turkey.
Turkey’s role in advancing the ISIS cause has also been widely reported and highlighted by the media in the US, including a front-page report last month by The New York Times.
“Turkey has been criticized at home and abroad for an open border policy in the early days of the Syrian uprising. Critics say that policy was crucial to the rise of ISIS,” reported the New York Times on September 16.
“Turkish fighters recruited by ISIS say they identify more with the extreme form of Islamist governance practiced by ISIS,” added the New York Times report.
President Obama has vowed to destroy ISIS and has appealed to countries in the region to join the coalition. Turkey has refused US access to its own airbase in Incirlik, the second time Turkey has blocked US efforts in the region, and now, true to Turkish form and despite Biden’s apology, Ankara wants guarantees from the US that the current mission in the region would conclude with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s demise before fully committing Turkey’s support for the mission.
The Obama Administrations complete and utter submission to Turkey has been well-documented, but Biden’s apology takes the cake since he was simply stating what everyone already knew: Turkey is responsible for the rise of ISIS and the current crisis in the Middle East.
Also on Monday, The Times (of London) reported that Turkey may have freed more than 100 ISIS jihadists in return for 49 Turkish hostages the militant group was holding since June after taking over the Iraqi city of Mosul. These newly-released ISIS militants are now free to bear arms and wreak more havoc in the region, all thanks to Turkey’s policy in the region, which run counter to US interests.
What Biden’s apology has done is to embolden Turkey to, on one hand, place more preconditions to the US for its involvement in the campaign and, on the other, to continue its support for ISIS and other extremist militants in the region. More importantly, however, Biden’s apology has weakened US foreign policy, its standing in the international community and strengthened the resolve of ISIS to continue its reign of terror in the region.
Bravo Vice-President Biden for your cowardice.