Syria claims Turkey enabling al-Qaida

Damascus complains to UN that Ankara enables terrorist organizations "to receive funding and arms, enter Syrian territory.”

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February 27, 2013 02:10
2 minute read.
Syria's President Bashar Assad (center L) heads a cabinet meeting in Damascus, Feb. 12

Syrian Leadership 370. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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NEW YORK – Syria submitted a letter of complaint last week to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon alleging that Turkey is enabling “Al-Qaida, as well as the Nusra Front and other terrorist organizations, to assemble, take refuge, receive funding and arms, engage in smuggling, and enter Syrian territory.”

The Syrian delegation, representing the regime of President Bashar Assad, claims those same organizations are responsible for the killing of civilians and the destruction of public and private property in Syrian lands. Citing international law, the delegations claims that Turkey’s actions are “tantamount to an act of aggression,” a violation of the UN charter and of Syria’s right to self-determination.

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“I hate to side with the Syrian government, but in this case the accusation is correct,” said Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official now with the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

“By any objective measure, Turkey has become a state-sponsor of terrorism for its support not only of Hamas, but also of al-Qaida affiliates and the Nusra Front,” he said.

The letter is an escalation in an increasingly tense relationship between the two countries. In the past week alone, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has called Assad a “mute devil” for his willingness to attack his own people, and the Turkish government has encouraged efforts to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court for committing crimes against humanity.

“The regime has lost its legitimacy,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in a speech to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“It is no longer governing. It is surviving by oppression, terror and massacres.”

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But whether or not to label the Nusra Front a terrorist organization, as the United States and NATO have done, has become a political debate in Turkey that has revealed a subtle delineation between jihadist and terrorist.

Just a week ago at a Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Commission, Davutoglu said, in reaction to questions on the Nusra Front’s classification, that “for [Turkey], jihad is a sacred notion. Let us not taint this notion by using it like neo-cons and pro-Israelis in America.”

An estimated 300,000 Syrian refugees have flooded Turkey, a NATO ally committed in public statements to the war on terrorism.

Protests have erupted in recent days in Turkey’s southern provinces over the government’s involvement in the Syrian conflict, and against the deployment of US Patriot missile batteries, which became operational just weeks ago.

Iran’s government-sponsored television network, Press TV, reported claims today that Turkish nationals were taking drugs and crossing over the border to fight Assad’s forces, while maintaining a “constant arms flow” to rebel groups.

“It comes down to ideology,” says Rubin. “Turkey would rather support al-Qaida affiliates than have secular Kurds like the PYD [Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Union Party] consolidate control along its border.”

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