Much has been written about how Turkey is sitting on the sidelines, both figuratively and literally, in preventing the spread of ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
Jonathan Krohn, writing for USA Today over the weekend from Suruc, Turkey, accused Turkey of preventing aid and Kurdish fighters from reaching Kobani to repel the siege by ISIS.
What’s more, since the fighting began in Kobani, many Kurds on the Turkish side say they are repeatedly stopped by Turkish police and military and tear-gassed and forced to move back from crossing the border to Kobani to join Kurdish fighters.
“The extremist group that is threatening the existence of the Iraqi state was built and grown for years with the help of elite donors from American supposed allies in the Persian Gulf region.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, who has a dog in this fight, said it more directly at the CFR, where he called the West’s partners against ISIS a “coalition of repenters.” Adding:
“Most participants in that — in that meeting in one form or another provided support to ISIS in the course of its creation and upbringing and expansion, actually at the end of the day, creating a Frankenstein that came to haunt its creators.So this group has been in existence for a long time. It has been supported, it has been provided for in terms of arms, money, finances by a good number of U.S. allies in the region.”
Politicking aside, there is little debate about who funded the nascent organizations that became ISIS. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey made a pragmatic decision to, at a minimum, indirectly fund Sunni militants fighting the Assad regime. It’s classic “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” realism and not really surprising.
The NY Times ran a story on Sunday noting that Vice President Joe Biden had apologized to Turkey’s President Erdogan for implying that “Turkey or other allies and partners in the region had intentionally supplied of facilitated the growth of ISIL or other violent extremists in Syria.”
But little has been reported about what Biden actually said.