Archiv der Kategorie 'Türkische faschismus / Turkish fascism '

Trump: I Stopped Erdogan from Attacking Kurds in Syria, 6/29/19

‘RELIGIOUS CONVERSION’ ON A LIVE TV PROGRAM

HDP MP Paylan: This is Child Abuse, I Will File a Criminal Complaint

The family of the child, for whom Nihat Hatipoğlu organized a religious conversion ritual, told HDP Diyarbakır MP Garo Paylan that nobody asked them for a permission.

Theologist Nihat Hatipoğlu on his live TV program at İstanbul Sultanahmet Square converted the religion of a 13-year-old Armenian refugee boy through a religious conversion ritual from Christianity to Islam on May 12.

Hatipoğlu said that the permission was given by the child’s mother. However, Peoples‘ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Garo Paylan has said that he talked to the family and the family told him that they have not given a permission for the conversion. Paylan has stated that he will file criminal complaint.

Paylan, whom we called to learn the details of the phone call with the family and of the criminal complaint, has stated that the family got contact with him:

„The child’s mother was very unhappy, they were very sorry as the family, because they are face to face with a child abuse towards their child. The mother has not been informed about this incident.


‚It was obviously outside of the parent’s knowledge‘

„One of the assistants of Nihap Hatioğlu has called the mother; yet, she could not respond to the phone call as she was in the market at that moment. Her Turkish is already not very good.

„She has learned that her child was a guest in the program. However, she stated that it was outside of her knowledge that her child would be on television, such an incident would happen and he would be converted to Islam. The gravity of the situation is that it cannot happen despite the parent’s information. This is an incident of child abuse. It was obviously outside of the parent’s knowledge.

„We have an open wound for hundred years. During the genocide, many relatives of mine got lost, disappeared and died on the migratory routs. Some of them went to the Muslim families.


‚A lot of Islamicized Armenians in many families“

„Now, wherever I go in that region, everybody says, ‚My grandfather is Armenian, my grandmother is Armenian‘. Every family there has at least one Islamicized Armenian or some villages were forcefully converted to Islam.

„It surely means the making an open wound bleed again because in Anatolia, a very high number of people have been Islamicized forcefully.


‚Religious conversion can be through free will‘

„This child was faced with an attempt of forced Islamicization. An individual can choose his/her belief with a free will after the age of 18.

„A child can have a belief, too. She/he is baptized early in the Christianity, the religious education is given in early ages in Islam, yet the religious conversion of a child should be through a free will.

„I will file a criminal complaint today (May 15) because this TV program has obviously violated the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey. I will also lodge a complaint about this program to the Radio Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) and a complaint against Nihap Hatioğlu to the prosecutor’s office.

„I will also get in touch with the Minister of Family and Social Services Ministry and talk about the precautions to be taken to protect our children in any time. I will make a demand for the increase of precautions about Arthur and the refugee/immigrant children living in this country like Arthur, and I will ask the Minister to look after Arthur.“

Bianet

Rojava „Wir werden die türkischen Truppen in den Sumpf ziehen“

Seit mehr als einem Jahr hält die Türkei den syrischen Kanton Afrin besetzt. Ein Großteil der kurdischen Bewohner ist geflüchtet. Doch den Traum von der Rückkehr geben sie nicht auf.

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OMAR HAJ KADOUR/ AFP

Brett McGurk muss kein Blatt mehr vor den Mund nehmen. Mehr als drei Jahre lang amtierte der Jurist und Diplomat als US-Sonderbeauftragter für den Kampf gegen die Terrororganisation „Islamischer Staat“ (IS). Zum Jahresende 2018 schmiss er den Job hin – aus Protest gegen den Beschluss von US-Präsident Donald Trump, die etwa 2000 in Syrien stationierten US-Soldaten abzuziehen.

Diese Entscheidung ist bis heute nicht umgesetzt worden – trotzdem kritisiert McGurk die Syrien-Politik der US-Regierung und ihrer Verbündeten in der Region. In einem Aufsatz im Fachblatt „Foreign Affairs“ erhebt er schwere Vorwürfe gegen den Nato-Partner Türkei. Bei der Offensive gegen den kurdischen Kanton Afrin in Nordsyrien Anfang 2018 habe das türkische Militär unter Präsident Recep Tayyip Erdogan gemeinsam mit islamistischen Verbündeten aus Syrien mehr als 150.000 Kurden vertrieben und anschließend Araber und Turkmenen aus anderen Teilen Syriens dort angesiedelt.

Erdogans Ziel ist die Islamisierung und Türkisierung von Afrin

„Diese Operation war keine Antwort auf eine wirkliche Gefahr, sondern ein Produkt von Erdogans Ambitionen, die Grenzen der Türkei zu verschieben, die seiner Ansicht nach 1923 im Vertrag von Lausanne unfair gezogen wurden“, schreibt McGurk.

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Damit bestätigt ein langjähriger hochrangiger US-Beamter, der Erdogan selbst mehrfach persönlich traf, was die Kurden und auch internationale Menschenrechtsgruppen seit Langem sagen:

• Der türkische Staatschef plant eine langfristige Besetzung Nordsyriens und eine Veränderung der Demografie des Grenzgebiets.

• Die Kurden sollen von der Grenze zur Türkei vertrieben und durch Araber und Turkmenen ersetzt werden, die Ankara gegenüber loyal sind.

Im August 2016 waren türkische Armeeeinheiten in der sogenannten Operation „Schutzschild Euphrat“ in das Gebiet zwischen den Städten Asas und Dscharabulus eingerückt. Damit schlug das Militär eine Bresche zwischen die beiden kurdischen Kantone Afrin und Kobane. Im Januar 2018 gab Erdogan dann den Befehl, Afrin zu erobern:

• Innerhalb von zwei Monaten eroberten das türkische Militär und verbündete syrische Milizen Afrin.

• Angesichts der militärischen Unterlegenheit entschieden sich die kurdische Selbstverwaltung und ihre YPG-Miliz im März 2018 zum kampflosen Abzug aus Afrin.

Seither verhindern die türkischen Besatzer eine unabhängige Berichterstattung aus dem Gebiet. Um an Informationen zu gelangen, sind Journalisten auf Berichte von Menschen vor Ort angewiesen, die bislang nicht geflüchtet sind und unter großer Gefahr ihre Eindrücke weitergeben.

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Anhand von Satellitenaufnahmen lässt sich zudem belegen, dass die Eroberer seither etliche Schreine von Alawiten und Jesiden zerstört und Friedhöfe geschändet haben. Mehrere historische Kultstätten sind inzwischen in Militärposten verwandelt worden. Die Vertreibung der religiösen Minderheiten und der Umgang mit ihrem kulturellen Erbe sind ein Indiz dafür, dass die Besatzer das Gebiet langfristig islamisieren wollen. Das zeigt sich auch im Alltag:

• Zu den neuen Herrschern gehören viele islamistische Milizen, die aus anderen Landesteilen, die inzwischen wieder vom Assad-Regime kontrolliert werden, nach Afrin gebracht wurden.

• Mindestens eine von ihnen, die „Brigade des Barmherzigen“, fungiert in Afrin inzwischen als eine Art Polizei.

• Sie ist bestrebt, ihre Auslegung der Scharia im öffentlichen Leben durchzusetzen – und verlangt, dass Frauen nur verschleiert und in Begleitung eines männlichen Angehörigen das Haus verlassen.

• Zwischenzeitlich hatten die Besatzer auch Plakate in der Stadt aufgehängt, die Frauen aufforderten, sich völlig zu verschleiern. Nach Protesten der Bewohner wurden die Poster wieder abgehängt.



Parallel dazu strebt Ankara die Türkisierung Afrins an:

• Die türkische Flagge gehört zum Straßenbild, an den meisten Schulen wird türkisch unterrichtet.

• Die kurdische Sprache und Identität der Region hingegen wird mehr und mehr getilgt.

• Orte verlieren ihren kurdischen Namen, kurdisch wird nicht länger unterrichtet.

• Im März verbot die von der Türkei eingesetzte Lokalverwaltung von Afrin auch die Feiern zum kurdischen Neujahrsfest Newroz.

Das alles dient nach Einschätzung der Kurden nur einem Zweck: Die letzten verbliebenen Kurden aus Afrin zu vertreiben.

Aisha Issa Hesso gehört zu jenen, die schon im März 2018 vor der türkischen Armee flüchteten. Als Co-Vorsitzende der PYD gilt sie in Ankara als Staatsfeindin. Die PYD ist die wichtigste politische Vertretung der Kurden in Syrien. Die Türkei betrachtet sie als Teil der kurdischen Terrororganisation PKK.

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Aisha Issa Hesso: „Je mehr wir angegriffen werden, umso erbitterter leisten wir Widerstand“

Zusammen mit ihren Mitstreitern versucht Hesso, den Widerstand gegen die Besatzung zu koordinieren. Dabei geht es zunächst einmal darum, die Reste der kurdischen Selbstverwaltung, die bis vor einem Jahr in Afrin existierten, in den Flüchtlingslagern irgendwie aufrechtzuerhalten. Der Großteil der Flüchtlinge aus Afrin lebt in Zelten oder einfachen Behausungen in Shehba, einem Gebiet unter kurdischer Kontrolle, das eingezwängt ist zwischen der türkischen Besatzungszone im Norden und dem syrischen Regime im Süden.

Erinnerung an das Schicksal von Alexandretta

Daneben leisten die Volksverteidigungseinheiten (YPG), der militärische Arm der PYD, aber auch militärischen Widerstand. In den vergangenen Wochen häuften sich die Anschläge auf türkische Soldaten und arabische Milizionäre in Afrin. „Je mehr wir angegriffen werden, umso erbitterter leisten wir Widerstand“, sagt Hesso.

„Wir werden die türkischen Truppen in den Sumpf ziehen“, beschreibt die Politikerin ihre Strategie. Ziel sei es, die Besatzung Afrins für Erdogan so kostspielig werden zu lassen, dass er sich irgendwann doch zum Rückzug entscheidet. Die Kurden setzen darauf, dass die schlechte Wirtschaftslage in der Türkei ihnen langfristig in die Hände spielt.

Genau wie McGurk hat Hesso keinen Zweifel daran, dass Erdogan das Gebiet am liebsten der Türkei einverleiben würde. So wie es die Türkei einst mit der Region gemacht hatte, das westlich von Afrin liegt.

Das Gebiet um die Stadt Iskenderun, einst als Alexandretta bekannt, hatte bis 1938 zum französischen Mandatsgebiet Syrien gehört, war dann aber von Frankreich der Türkei überlassen worden. Bis dahin waren Türken in dem Gebiet nur eine von vielen Minderheiten, nach dem Anschluss veränderte Ankara die Demografie des Gebiets und türkisierte die Region, die heute Hatay heißt.

Diesem Schicksal wollen die Kurden von Afrin unbedingt entkommen.

Der Spiegel

Turkish soldiers (TSK) proudly showing heads of Kurdish guerillas they beheaded

WARNING: Graphic content.

Turkish soldiers (TSK) proudly showing heads of Kurdish guerillas they beheaded. It’s not the first time the Turkish army execute or mutilate bodies of Kurdish soldiers. This isn’t a sign of undisciplined soldiers, this is how TSK work in Kurdish areas.

Twitter removed the video showing the barbarity of Turkish soldiers. You can reach here.

American magazine: Turkey is safe haven for money, gold of Daesh

A report by The Atlantic Monthly on the vaguely secret ways of transferring money says that some of these funds are held in cash by individuals in Turkey, while some of them have also been invested in gold

The writer David Kenar said: If you’re looking to transfer money here, there’s a chance you will be directed to Abu Shawkat. He works out of a small office in a working-class suburb of the Lebanese capital, but won’t give you its exact location. Instead, he’ll direct you to a nearby alleyway.

The writer said Abu Shawkat—not his real name—is part of the hawala system, which is often used to transfer cash between places where the banking system has broken down or is too expensive for some to access.

According to the magazine thus, cash can travel across borders without any inquiry into who is sending or receiving it, or its purpose.

The group remains a financial powerhouse: It still has access to hundreds of millions of dollars, according to experts’ estimates, and can rely on a battle-tested playbook to keep money flowing into its coffers. That continued wealth has real risks, threatening to help it retain the allegiance of a committed core of loyalists and wreak havoc through terrorist attacks for years to come.

The writer said that the Islamic State’s financial strength offers a window into the broader challenge facing the United States and other governments….

The writer added that in its effort to squeeze the group financially, Washington has been forced to rely on a fundamentally different strategy than it employed in its military campaign: The main weapons at its disposal are not air strikes and artillery barrages, but subtler tools, such as sanctioning Islamic State–linked businesses, denying them access to the international financial system, and quietly cooperating with governments across the globe. Successes will be less visible, the campaign against the group will likely take years, and there is no guarantee of victory.

The end of the Islamic State’s days of holding and governing territory represents a double-edged sword for officials looking to starve it of resources. On the one hand, its dramatic losses have made it far more difficult for the group to rely on two major sources of revenue: the exploitation of oil fields in Iraq and Syria, and the taxation of citizens living under its rule. These methods played a key role in allowing the Islamic State to raise roughly $1 million a day, a senior Iraqi security official, who declined to be identified discussing intelligence issues, told me, transforming the group into the world’s richest terrorist organization.

On the other hand, the Islamic State’s loss of territory has freed it from the costs associated with trying to build its self-declared “caliphate,” allowing it to focus exclusively on terrorist activity. A U.S. Treasury Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the group is operating increasingly like its insurgent predecessor, al-Qaeda in Iraq, and no longer requires the same resources it did when it governed territory. Oil still brings in revenue too: While the Islamic State no longer controls individual fields, the Treasury official added that a key source of the group’s income is the extortion of oil-supply lines across the region.

The Islamic State is also still sitting on the massive windfall that it built up during the height of its power. “What we know is that they accumulated large amounts of cash and other assets,” said Howard Shatz, a senior economist at the Rand Corporation and co-author of several studies on the Islamic State’s finances. “We don’t know where it all went.”

The senior Iraqi security official told me that the bulk of the Islamic State’s assets had been transferred to Turkey, though the Treasury Department has sanctioned its money-services businesses in Syria and Iraq, which have connections as far away as the Caribbean. Some of these funds are reportedly held in cash by individuals in Turkey, while a portion has also been invested in gold. There is precedent for Ankara turning a blind eye toward the terrorist organization’s activity on its soil: The group used to make millions of dollars by selling smuggled oil to Turkish buyers. The October raid in Erbil also targeted the financial network built up by Fawaz Muhammad Jubayr al-Rawi, an Islamic State leader who the Treasury Department claims owned and operated Syria-based money-services businesses that exchanged money with Turkey. The Turkish government has consistently denied providing safe harbor to either Islamic State individuals or the group’s assets.

The war-ravaged states of Syria and Iraq also provide the Islamic State with ample opportunities to revive the tactics that financed its predecessor organization. From 2008 to 2012, when al-Qaeda in Iraq was driven underground, it operated much like a mafia: It skimmed construction contracts, particularly in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul; stole goods and resold them; and kidnapped members of wealthy families for ransom. Despite its straitened circumstances, the group was recording monthly revenues of nearly $1 million just in Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital, in late 2008 and early 2009.

Today it has even more factors working in its favor. The destruction of areas of northern Iraq once controlled by the Islamic State has necessitated a massive reconstruction effort. At a conference last year, countries pledged $30 billion to rebuild the area, a figure that is still well below what the Iraqi government said it needs. Perversely, such a massive injection of funds provides the Islamic State with even more opportunity to benefit from corruption. Declassified documents show that senior Iraqi, Kurdish, and Turkish politicians had dealings with al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2009; oversight of how funds are spent is likely even worse now, given the magnitude of the task. Second, the Islamic State kept meticulous records about the approximately 7 million to 8 million people living under its rule during the height of its power. If it retained control of those records, it could use them to extort Iraqis and Syrians.

“If you lived in ISIS territory, they know where you live, they know much money you make, and they know what your business is,” Shatz told me. “They can go to a businessman and say, ‘You must be very proud of your son. It would be a pity to see something happen to him.’”

Like any smart multinational conglomerate, the Islamic State has diversified its streams of revenue. Even if the United States and its allies manage to cut off, for example, the group’s kidnap-for-ransom business, it can turn to those commercial enterprises and extortion rackets.

The situation is far from hopeless. The United States has already made a dentin the Islamic State’s finances by targeting its oil network, and the group may find that its meticulous records can be used against it: Once captured, those records could provide a detailed overview of its personnel and sources of revenue. But there are no silver bullets.

Abu Shawkat’s market advantage is that he can send money to places where formal institutions have crumbled. The Islamic State’s business model relies on similar factors, only on a much grander scale. It aims to exploit state breakdown as a way to fund its main product: political violence. That violence then weakens the state further, creating more financial opportunities for the terrorist organization.

The military victory against the Islamic State is cause for celebration, but it also allows the group to fall back on an economic strategy that has served it well for years. Don’t expect it to go out of business anytime soon.

ANHA

The ISIS Ambassador to Turkey

In the complicated relationship between the government of Turkey and ISIS, it’s unclear how much of the relationship was direct and formal, as opposed to support coming from private individuals and entities in Turkey, or in response to the vast amounts of money ISIS had to spend on a network it deployed inside Turkey to receive and funnel foreign fighters, weapons, and medical supplies into its huge state apparatus. In any case, it’s clear that every state needs diplomats to negotiate political deals with the countries near its borders. ISIS, it seems, was no exception to this rule, as ICSVE researchers learned in a February 2019 five-hour interview with an ISIS emir, Abu Mansour al Maghrebi, who claims he essentially served as the ISIS ambassador to Turkey.

“My job in Raqqa was dealing with the international cases,” Abu Mansour al Maghrebi recalls of his three years serving ISIS. “My issue [duties] was our [Islamic State’s] relationship with Turkish intelligence. Actually, this started when I was working at the borders,” he explains, harking back to the first job he undertook for ISIS before becoming an ISIS emir and, seemingly, their ambassador to Turkey.

Abu Mansour, an electrical engineer from Morocco, came to Syria in 2013. Like many foreign fighters we interviewed, he stated he came hoping to unshackle Muslims from dictatorial regimes and build an Islamic Caliphate ruled by Islamic ideals. He traveled from Casablanca, Morocco, to Istanbul, Turkey, and through the southern border of Turkey into Syria. His first stop was Idlib, Syria, just as hostilities between al Nusra and ISIS had begun. Abu Mansour ended up on the ISIS side of that rift and was assigned by ISIS the job of an intake official on the Syrian side of the Turkish border. His job was to receive the steady flow of foreign fighters streaming into ISIS via Turkey – many who shared his same dream.

“My job was to direct operatives to receive the foreign fighters in Turkey,” Abu Mansour explains, referring to the network of ISIS-paid people who facilitated foreign fighter travel from Istanbul to the Turkish border towns of Gaziantep, Antakya, Sanliurfa, etc. “Most of them were paid by Dawlah [ISIS],” Abu Mansour explains, but differentiates them from ISIS members, due to their non-ideological motivations. “Most of those working on the Turkish side, their goal is money,” he said. Although when asked about ISIS networks inside Turkey, he also admits, “Many in Turkey believe and give their bayat [oath of allegiance] to Dawlah. There are ISIS guys living in Turkey, individuals and groups, but no armed groups inside Turkey.”

In addressing the foreign fighters, Abu Mansour explains: “[They came from] different places, from North Africa mostly. The numbers of Europeans was not a big number, 4,000 total.”

“Tunis 13,000, 4,000 from Morocco. There were less fighters from Libya because they had a front there [in Libya], fighting less than 1,000. I’m just talking about up to 2015,” he adds. Not surprisingly, his figures confirm data collected on the origins and numbers of foreign fighters who joined ISIS – that the most came from Tunisia. It was interesting how he can rattle off the numbers.

“So, you were more than a simple clerk working in the ISIS reception center registering new recruits?” I ask, suspecting he was much more important than that, given his grip on ISIS statistics.

“[My job was] guarding the borders between Syria and Turkey and to receive the fighters,” Abu Mansour explains, smiling at being recognized as more powerful than he was originally conveying. “I oversaw reception at Tal Abyad, Aleppo, Idlib, all their borders,” he answers.

It’s clear he was in charge, so I ask him, “So, you were an ISIS emir?”

“Yes,” he admits, seemingly happy to be “caught out” and recognized for who he really was. “At the beginning I was registering people, then I became the supervisor. I was the emir.”

The ISIS Foreign Fighters

We discuss the women who came into Syria via Turkey. “The single females, they go directly to Raqqa to the centers for singles. Married women go to their husbands,” he explains. He states that those wives [couples] stay in the ISIS female guesthouses: “Since they are family, they are offered a place to live until their husbands finish trainings.” He is referring to the ISIS military and weapons training and the ISIS “obligatory shariah training” in which new male recruits are taught the ISIS takfir ideology, an ideology that justifies use of violence against those considered heretics or unbelievers, including against fellow Muslims.

Abu Mansour explains the format and nature of intake forms that were filled out at the ISIS reception area. “It was a form about experience, countries you visited, etc. I don’t remember it very well, but it was very detailed,” he explains. He further continues, “There were several people who came with higher education. We wrote his discipline, his studies, his languages. These things were recorded on my forms.” According to Abu Mansour, job placements occurred after another intake took place inside the training camps. “At those places, there were very trusted people running the ISIS offices of recruiting, so if you say you’re an engineer, they put you to that kind of job. It was an office of human resources management,” he states, adding, “but of course different, because in ours we also had, ‘I want to be a martyr.’”

Martyrs and Those Returning to Become Sleeper Cells

Asked to explain what happens to those who came saying they wanted to “martyr” themselves, he answers, “There are specific centers interested in these things.

Before 2014 and 2015, a high number of them were willing to martyr themselves.” Abu Mansour explains that those who came to die for the Islamic Caliphate were more plentiful in the beginning. “Approximately 5,000 came to be martyrs. I didn’t send them to the center,” he states, referring to where the would-be suicide cadres were isolated and encouraged on their death missions. He further continues, “I only record him and send them to the training camp. Then there is a center in Raqqa. There is a central management who control who is assigned where. That was not my job.”

According to Abu Mansour, the numbers of would-be “martyrs” went down as the Caliphate was in fact established. “It started to go down as Raqqa stabilized. [Then,] most came simply to live. It was a small ratio of those who came to martyr themselves.” Adhering to his uncanny ability to remember exact recruiting figures, he explains, “Before 2014, 50 percent came to martyr themselves. Then it went under 20 percent.”

“During 2014 and 2015, we had approximately 35,000 [foreign fighters who] entered,” Abu Mansour recounts. “After that I don’t know, but the numbers declined each year,” he continues. His numbers match those of experts who estimate at least 40,000 foreign fighters went to Syria, most ending up in ISIS.

Concerning those who were invited by the ISIS emni to train and return to their home countries to attack, as was revealed by Harry Sarfo, an ISIS returnee incarcerated in Germany, and an ISIS smuggler speaking to ICSVE in February, who detailed some of those operations, Abu Mansour explains, “We are the point of reception. It was not our job to ask if they will return to attack. That was Raqqa’s job.”

Although he confirms that it did happen. “There were some who invited others to go back home and attack, but it was not our job; we were reception,” Abu Mansour repeats. “It exists, but not all the people who returned home [are sleeper cells]. Many simply quit the job. Many people didn’t like the situation and left,” he clarifies, putting some myth to the statements made by some that a large portion of the ISIS returnees in Europe may be part of sleeper cells. “There was a central management in Aleppo and in Raqqa,” Abu Mansour states, adding, “I turned the passports to them. They were archived.”

Becoming an ISIS Ambassador

“I went to Raqqa after the coalition assault against the border,” Abu Mansour recalls. “Eastern Syria got stability in Raqqa, etc.” This was in 2015 and 2016. When we ask Abu Mansour if injured ISIS fighters were allowed to cross the border and receive medical care in Turkey, things suddenly take another twist, as we realize that Abu Mansour was not only an emir, but an ISIS diplomat.

“There were some agreements and understandings between the Turkish intelligence and ISIS emni about the border gates, for the people who got injured,” Abu Mansour continues. “I had direct meeting with the MIT [the Turkish National Intelligence Organization], many meetings with them.”

When we ask who exactly in the Turkish government was meeting ISIS members, he states, “There were teams. Some represent the Turkish intel, some represent the Turkish Army. There were teams from 3-5 different groups. Most meetings were in Turkey in military posts or their offices. It depended on the issue. Sometimes we meet each week. It depends on what was going on. Most of the meetings were close to the borders, some in Ankara, some in Gaziantep.”

When he mentions meeting Turkish government officials in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, we suddenly upgrade him in our minds to an ISIS ambassador, which is indeed how he was functioning. “I passed the borders and they let me pass. [At the border,] the Turks always sent me a car and I’m protected. A team of two to three people from our side were with me. I was in charge of our team most of the time.”

Abu Mansour, it seems, was meeting high-level officials in all the security branches of the government, negotiating deals. “The subject of common benefits is a big subject,” Abu Mansour states, adding, “It’s a new thing when you create a state and separate it from the outside world. The negotiations were not easy. It took a long time. Sometimes it was hard.”

“I am not the big guy you are talking about,” says Abu Mansour, demurring at the idea that he was an ambassador of sorts. He stated ambassador is not a term they would have used in the Islamic State. Yet, as he continues, we learn that his “diplomatic” reach on behalf of ISIS extended even to the president of Turkey himself. “I was about to meet him but I did not. One of his intelligence officers said Erdogan wants to see you privately but it didn’t happen.”

Abu Mansour explains, “I got my orders from the representative of the Majlis al Shura, from Mohamed Hodoud, an Iraqi. The individuals of the [ISIS] shura have the highest authority; they create a negotiation committee, and delegates.” In regard to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, Abu Mansour admits, “I saw him for a short while,” which is more than most ISIS members can say of the elusive leader who hid himself from almost everyone we have managed to interview (n=141 ISIS cadres).

The Islamic State’s Usefulness for Turkey

We ask if this was a funding relationship. “There was no changing money between us,” Abu Mansour answers, and agrees it was a coordinating function – diplomacy where “both sides benefit.” The benefit to Turkey, according to Abu Mansour, was that “we are in the border area and Turkey wants to control its borders – to control Northern Syria. Actually they had ambitions not only for controlling the Kurds. They wanted all the north, from Kessab (the most northern point of Syria) to Mosul.”

“This is the Islamists’ ideology of Erdogan,” Abu Mansour explains, adding, “They wanted all of the north of Syria. That is what the Turkish side said [they wanted], to control the north of Syria, because they have their real ambitions. Actually, we talked about what Erdogan said in public [versus what he really desired.] This part of Syria is part of the Ottoman states. Before the agreement following the Second World War, Aleppo and Mosul were part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. The agreement Sykes Picot [in which they lost these regions] was signed for one hundred years. In our meetings, we talked about re-establishing the Ottoman Empire. This was the vision of Turkey.”

Abu Mansour makes it clear that what he was told in his meetings with Turks was put forward as President Erdogan’s vision, but that it was not necessarily shared by all: “I cannot say that this is the vision of the whole Turkish government. Many are against interfering to bring this project to reality. They say we will try to defeat the PKK and Kurds. We are afraid of the union between Kurds and that they may make a Kurdish state, but they also expanded to Aleppo,” he adds regarding Turkish aspirations inside Syria.

Abu Mansour continues, “Since they are a NATO state they cannot make NATO angry against them. So, they cannot deal directly with the situation, but they want to destroy the Kurdish ummah, so they deal with the situation [via ISIS] and get benefits from the Islamic State.”

On the side of ISIS, he explains, “It’s a big benefit to Dawlah, as they could protect our back. Approximately 300 km of our border is with them. Turkey is considered a road for us for medications, food – so many things enter in the name of aid. The gates were open.”

However, on the subject of getting arms from Turkey, Abu Mansour clears the Turks of any guilt, stating, “No one can accuse the Turkish government that they gave us weapons, because we got weapons from different sources. Actually, we didn’t need to get weapons from Turkey,” he explains, noting that the Free Syrian Army soldiers would trade their weapons for a pack of cigarettes. “Anti-government Syrian people provided us with weapons; many mafias and groups traded weapons to us.”

“In Syria the oil was enough to pay for the weapons and everything needed,” Abu Mansour continues. “[Our oil revenues] were more than $14 million per month and half of this oil money is more than enough to pay for everything needed for our weapons expenditures.” When I remark on the huge amount of $7 million per month for weapons, Abu Mansour states, “It’s actually a small amount. Turkey sometimes opened an operation in which the management for one battle is $10 million.” When pressed for more figures on the total ISIS budget, Abu Mansour says he’s been in captivity for 1.5 years and doesn’t remember the total ISIS budget anymore. Yet it sounds like he once knew it well and in detail.

Negotiating for Crossing the Turkish Borders

“We negotiated to send our fighters to the hospitals [in Turkey]. There was facilitation – they didn’t look at the passports of those coming for treatment. It was always an open gate. If we had an ambulance we could cross without question. We could cross [into Turkey] at many places. They don’t ask about official identities. We just have to let them know.”

When asked to explain exactly how this occurs, Abu Mansour explains, “When the person gets injured, there is hospital in Syria, and this hospital sends him in a car to the border. There were ambulances on the Turkish side waiting for this person. There were doctors who disliked Bashar. They treated our guys. The MIT was made aware of every critical situation and they sent the ambulances to the border. There were also hospitals close to the border. Those who received critical care were treated there and they [the MIT] sent the others all over Turkey depending on their needs. There were very interested doctors, Syrian and Turkish, who wanted to help. So, if there were not facilities to serve them on the border, they would be sent further into Turkey for this.”

We ask who paid the medical bills. “Dawlah [ISIS] paid for the treatments, but some Turkish public hospitals took these fighters for free. It was not only for our fighters but also for the victims of bombings. I don’t know how many were treated in Turkey, but it was routine,” Abu Mansour explains, adding that it was not his area, so he doesn’t have the figures on that. “I just know this agreement to open the gates for our wounded and that there were ambulances sent for them. It was a ‘state-to-state’ agreement regarding our wounded. I negotiated these agreements. For the wounded, medical and other supplies to pass, and I negotiated about water also, the Euphrates.”

Negotiating for Water

The water issue was crucial for ISIS, actually, allowing them to have water for farming and to generate electricity through dams. “Actually, we [Syria] had an agreement with Turkey for 400 cubic meters per second [of water] into Syria. After the revolution, they started to decrease the quantity of water to 150 cubic meters per second. After our negotiations [in 2014] it returned to 400. We needed it for electrical power and as a vital source of living. Even water we cannot keep it, it passes to Iraq also,” he explains. “But the importance of water [cannot be understated]. We don’t need to generate electricity through the dams. We could have another source [i.e. petrol], but we need water for farming. There are three dams. The biggest is Tabqa dam. Actually, at 150 cubic meters, we could generate some electricity, but if the level of the lake reached 5 meters it would not work.”

“It took a long time to negotiate,” Abu Mansour explains. When asked what ISIS gave in return for water, he answers, “There is the most important benefit – their country will be safe and stable.” We ask if he means that ISIS agreed not to attack inside Turkey.

“In negotiations I could not say I would attack Turkey. This is the language of gangs, but I would say we will try to keep Turkey from the field battle, we will not see Turkey as an enemy. They understood what we are talking about. We said many times, ‘You are not our enemy and not our friend.’”

Abu Mansour explains that ISIS dealt both with Turkey and Assad’s regime to manage the Tabqa dam as well as other resources under their control. “At the end when Raqqa was encircled, the coalition forces tried to control the rooms for the dam. There was no control. All the gates were closed and the level of water rose. Rumors were that it would burst, but this was not technically true.” To fix the issue ISIS sent for Assad’s engineers to try to manually open the gates. “About these engineers, this is a company that belongs to the Assad regime. When he tried to fix the gate and open it manually, he was hit by the coalition forces. He died in Raqqa.”

Oil Sales

Regarding the sale of ISIS oil, Abu Mansour admits, “Most of the Syrian oil was going to Turkey, and just small amounts went to the Bashar regime.” Abu Mansour claims he did not need to negotiate these sales directly with the Turkish government officials as “this happened spontaneously.”

“There are many traders to do that and Turkey was the only market in which to send oil. Their traders paid for the oil that went into Turkey,” he explains making clear that although Erdogan’s son is believed to have been enriched by ISIS oil, that the deals occurred via middle men. “Oil that went to the Syrian government – some went by pipes, some by trucks. Oil sent by Dawlah [ISIS] to Turkey was arranged by traders from Turkey who came to take the oil with our permissions. Traders came from the Syrian side also.”

Negotiating for the Release of Turkish Diplomats, Soldiers and Citizens

When asked about the negotiations for the release of the Turkish diplomats and workers after ISIS took Mosul, Abu Mansour explains, “The negotiation happened in Syria. Actually, [ISIS] entry in Mosul was not a surprise takeover in one day. It took many days, but I think the Turkish government told their consul not to leave Mosul. Many Turkish truck drivers were also in Mosul at that time. They were not in danger, but there was a negotiation to release them. Islamic State made demands as well. It took time.”

“We didn’t ask ransom for the consul employees, we asked for our prisoners. MIT knows their names.” For the consul employees, “approximately 500 prisoners were released from Turkey, and they came back to Dawlah,” Abu Mansour explains.

In regard to the soldiers guarding the tomb of Suleyman Shah that Turkish soldiers had permission to guard inside Syria, which was taken by ISIS in 2014, Abu Mansour states, “It wasn’t liberation of their soldiers. They had 45 guards that they changed every 6 months. They changed at the time of FSA [being defeated]. Turkey made it look like they got liberated [when ISIS took over] but it was really just the change of guards. [Likewise,] at that time we didn’t want to open problems with Turkey. It would have been an obstacle to our work, so we gave them back.”


Turkey’s Double Game with the West

According to Abu Mansour, in 2014 Turkey was trying to play a double game with the West: to allow foreign fighters into Syria but make it appear as though they were taking measures to prevent it. “Turkey wanted to make it easy for foreign fighters to cross the borders,” Abu Mansour explains. “They just want to control, they need to be known, and how they enter, so they ask me to tell who has entered and where. Actually, the Turkish side said, ‘You should reduce, change the way you do it, the way you cross. For example, don’t come with a group to enter because it’s clear that a bunch of people entered. Enter only specific gates. Come without any weapons. Don’t come with long beards. Your entry from north to south should be hidden as much as possible.’”

“For example, the EU guys were very distinguished with their beards so they should come at night and cross, and they should not come in groups as before, to hide it. For Europeans, it depends on the person. If he can mix with Syrians he can come without being noticed – the Arabs, they can enter normally.” We didn’t ask Abu Mansour if the European Arabs were given fake Syrian passports to enter, but we did learn from other ISIS members we have interviewed that fake Syrian passports were provided by ISIS operatives to Europeans and others while still in Istanbul. Likely, these are the persons Abu Mansour is saying could enter normally through the border gates as they could easily pass for legitimate entries from Syria into Turkey by appearance and documentation.

“[In 2014,] they opened some legal gates under the eye of Turkish intel that our people went in and out through,” Abu Mansour explains. “But, entry into Syria was easier than return to Turkey. Turkey controlled the movements.”

For those who could not pass as Syrians legally crossing into Syria, Abu Mansour explains that they used “specific ways provided by smugglers” and that “of course Dawlah pays them.” He also notes that when smugglers worked for years, “of course they are recruited to [Turkish] security services, too.” Yet these persons were never completely trusted by ISIS as they were in it for the money only. “The smuggler is like a trader, a guy with a taxi – you pay him, but you don’t trust him. He isn’t necessarily loyal, [he has] maybe some sympathy to the Syrian side.”

An ISIS Ambassador in Ankara

“Our negotiations took place one time in Syria, second time in Turkey and so on, [back and forth],” Abu Mansour explains, and most often “near the borders, close to the official gates.” However, in 2016, Abu Mansour was asked to present himself in Ankara and stay for a few weeks. “They asked us to stay for a while in Turkey, perhaps to meet with President Erdogan. At this time in 2016, before the military assault on Manbij between June to September 2016 (May to August 2016), Turkey was trying to withdraw from the Islamic State. I went to stay in Ankara.”

Suddenly terrified at the idea that we could have been at the same hotel in Ankara during one of my many visits there, I ask him with horror filling my voice where he stayed. “There was a private guest hotel, an intelligence guest house. I think I was in the specific place of their headquarters office, or maybe it’s a crisis cell. I stayed one week.” Still fixated on the chance that I could have unknowingly crossed paths with an ISIS emissary in Turkey, I ask if he went out on the town during the days or at night. “They do not refuse if I ask to go out. I was under their protection. They also suggested if I want to take one week for rest here that I could.” Indeed, we could have crossed paths…

Negotiating a Buffer Zone

“There were ups and downs with Turkey,” Abu Mansour states. Likewise, there were factions inside ISIS that didn’t agree with one another. “After the Manbij events there were many changes and there was always internal conflict in the Islamic State. Turkey asked us many times for a separate area between Turkey and Syria for a safe zone. They wanted 10 km for Syrians to live but under control of Turkey.”

It’s interesting to note that even ISIS was considered a danger to the Turks, as they now claim the Syrian Kurds are. “Turkey wanted us to move 10 km back from the borders so the danger from Turkey is removed. They wanted it to be under control of Turkey and no aviation above it. This was for an area 60 km long and 10 km wide.”

ISIS Attacks in Turkey

We ask him how things went wrong with Turkey – that ISIS began attacking at the airport and at the Reina nightclub and on the streets in Ankara and Istanbul. “The operation of bombing in Turkey was not political. I was in Turkey and they thought I have a link with these things. I was in Gaziantep when the [Istanbul] airport was attacked,” he replied. “When those things happened, they thought it was something prepared from the political side of the Islamic State, but that’s not logical. We are there and attacking them?”

“It was directed from Raqqa,” Abu Mansour explains. “The ISIS external emni ordered it. And I think that there were Turkish MIT guys inside the external emni. I suspected that the striking at the airport was not for the benefit of IS, but Turkish groups of IS who wanted to strike Turkey, or they were affected by other agencies that don’t want a relationship between Dawlah and Turkey. It makes no sense, otherwise, because most of our people came through that airport. These orders for these attacks in Turkey were from those MIT guys inside Dawlah but not from our political side. They didn’t want to destroy Erdogan, just change his road in the matter of the Syrian issue. They wanted him to use his army to attack Syria, and to attack Dawlah. The airport attack makes a good excuse for him to come into Syria.”

“It’s not a conspiracy theory,” Abu Mansour insists, telling us that when he was imprisoned in YPG prisons, before being moved to Iraq, he heard “that the Turkish government, after they were in Raqqa, took 40 persons out that were part of Turkish security agencies.”

While what he heard could be true, it doesn’t mean that these Turkish intel actors were working with ISIS. They may have been Turkish intel planted inside the organization to keep tabs on it. Yet, Abu Mansour insists that Turkey, and President Erdogan with his “Islamists’ aspirations” was working hand in glove with ISIS and reminds us, “If you go back to Erdogan’s history, in 83 to 87, he was a fighter in Afghanistan. This stuck with him.”

Dashed Dreams of an Islamic State

Abu Mansour’s journey started in Morocco when he was a young man and where he first watched the 9/11 events from afar and suddenly began to feel that if he wasn’t with them, as U.S. President Bush stated, he was against them – that Muslims in the world needed to unite and resist dictators and world powers, like the U.S.-led coalition that invaded foreign countries. “After I heard George Bush say it’s you are with us or against us – when I heard that [and saw his invasion of Iraq] I searched for who stands up for the Muslims.”

Abu Mansour began following the actions of leaders of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, and learning militant jihadi teachings over the Internet. “The invasion of Iraq affected deeply in the heart of Muslims more than Afghanistan,” he explains. “We start to build ourselves at that time. We know that we are fighting very smart people and we have to prepare very well. Those groups who chose the resistance [in Morocco] would start and then they were captured, which made me to be very alert, and very patient to chose when to resist.”

Abu Mansour waited until 2013, when he became convinced that the time was right and an Islamic State could be created in Syria, at which time he was already fully committed to come and help bring it to fruition. “We were searching for the identity of Muslims, to protect Muslims and to be freed to do our Islamic duties. There was no desire to fight, no tendency to kill or revenge, just to free ourselves from dictators. I use the weapon to prevent harm by others and all that is taken by force should be regained by force,” he explains. “All these government regimes, we were forced to follow, we didn’t chose them.” Indeed.

Now imprisoned, he has had time to reflect on whether or not the dream of a just and good Islamic State is even possible and if ISIS had any chance of bringing it to reality.

“Today I feel really tired,” he confesses. “It’s not like you see it. Most were not educated people in IS. Most have some reasons for joining, how they collect them to make this state, who collects them, the matter is really strange,” he reflects, sadness filling his eyes. “While we came to save Muslims from the authoritarian control of the Syrian regime and to build these things [the ISIS dream,] we were shocked and we fell into the same that they were in. There are many people in authority in the Islamic State that are dictatorial. Sometimes I feel like we were used like a paper burned and discarded. We tried to remove Assad and replaced with worse than Assad.”

“The practices used against the Syrian people, it was very violent. The people under the authority of IS, they don’t care about the education system. They just wanted to extract the oil, etc. They didn’t give thought to the poor people, to enhance their life levels, to be taken care of. Likewise, under Bashar, the Ba’ath Party regime has a very violent security agency, but ISIS built worse than this – the emni security system. Also, they divided the people into fighter and non-fighters, and the fighters were not punished like they punished the others,” he said.

“In Raqqa there were bodies on the roads in different places, actually when you pass through the squares and roads you see hanging bodies. There were hangings, torture with electricity… They are not good people. They try to take benefit from their places. Each one has a desire to control.”

“My search was not for power, or getting authority or ruling,” Abu Mansour claims, and he may be speaking honestly. Once representing ISIS as an ambassador, representing a short-lived, but powerful state, he is now powerless, sitting in an Iraqi prison, facing a death sentence – his dreams dashed completely.

Special thanks to the Iraq Counter Terrorism Services, ICSVE’s partner in Iraq, supporting ICSVE’s research on behalf of our Breaking the ISIS Brand Counter Narrative Project.

Homeland Security Today

Police beat minors in southeastern Turkey

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Van Bar Association published photos of minors subjected to torture at police station in Van

Three Kurdish teenagers said they were subjected to police torture during detention in Turkey’s southeastern city of Van, lawyers from the Van Bar Association reported on Sunday.

Turkish police on Feb. 15 detained the three teenagers, aged between 14 and 17, and used violence against them during and after their detention in Van’s Ipekyolu district, according to victims’ statements. The youngsters told the Van Bar Association that the police beat them, kicked them in the head, hit them with batons and put their heads into toilet bowls, the Ahval news site reported.

“After I came home from work, the police detained me due to incidents in the neighborhood and got me on the ground. They struck my back with batons. They kicked me in the stomach with their boots, pulled my hair and hit me in the face. They took me to the police station [near the Tuşba Shopping Center] and continued beating me there. They put my head into a toilet bowl and insulted me,” one of the victims, aged 17, said.

A 16-year-old victim said the police mistreated him as well. “They questioned me at the police station, but I told them I knew nothing. They beat me and swore at me.”

The third victim, a 14-year-old Kurd who lost partial vision in his left eye due to the police torture, said he was going shopping when the police detained him.

“Eight police officers assaulted me. …They took me to the police station after they beat me on the street. They put my head into a toilet bowl. Right now, there is blurriness and itching in my left eye.”

The Van Bar Association said hospital reports proved the three teenagers were mistreated and subjected to torture, sustaining serious injuries.

Perihan Duman, the mother of one of the detained minors, said: “I am haunted by images of my son. I haven’t been able to sleep for two days,” while his father, Hacı Duman, added, “The police called us at 3:30 a.m., long after my son was detained and badly beaten.”

The bar association filed a criminal complaint against the police officers involved the incident.

The families claim the police try to extend detention of minors, hoping that signs of torture will disappear in time. (SCF with Ahval, Bold Medya)


Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF)

VIDEO


HERE

„Folter an Minderjährigen wird zur Normalität“

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Drei Minderjährige werden am 15. Februar in Wan festgenommen und anschließend von den Sicherheitskräften misshandelt. Die Rechtsanwaltskammer sieht einen direkten Zusammenhang zwischen der Folter und der Haltung der AKP-Regierung.

Am 15. Februar wurden in dem Bezirk Ipekyolu in Wan (Van) drei Minderjährige festgenommen und anschließend von den Sicherheitskräften misshandelt. Das geht aus den ärztlichen Attesten der 14-, 16- und 17-jährigen Jugendlichen hervor. Alle drei befinden sich weiterhin in Gewahrsam. Die Rechtsanwaltskammer von Wan kündigte an, juristisch gegen die Misshandlung der drei Minderjährigen vorzugehen.

Die Jugendlichen waren am Abend des 15. Februars festgenommen worden. Anschließend wurden sie in der Leitstelle der Sicherheitskräfte am Kopf und Körper mit Fußtritten und Schlägen mit den Gewehrkolben traktiert. Später wurden zudem die Köpfe der Minderjährigen in Toiletten eingetaucht.

„Folter wird zur Normalität“

Cemal Demir von der Rechtsanwaltskammer Wan sieht einen Zusammenhang mit den zunehmenden Foltervorfällen im Land und der Haltung der türkischen Regierung. Trotz der vermeintlichen Bekenntnisse der Regierung zur „Null-Toleranz für Folter“ seien Vorfälle wie nun in Wan niemals von der Tagesordnung der Türkei verschwunden. „Im Gegenteil, Foltervorfälle wie jüngst in Wan sind zu Normalität geworden. Es gibt zahlreiche Beispiele dafür. Es gibt kein ernstzunehmendes Vorgehen der Regierung gegen die Folter. Die allgemeine Straflosigkeit gegen Foltervergehen führt zu einem sprunghaften Anstieg von Misshandlungen und Folter in Gewahrsam. Dass Minderjährige in Wan dieser menschenverachtenden Folter ausgesetzt wurden, darf nicht missachtet werden. Die Verantwortlichen müssen auf schnellstem Wege identifiziert und hart bestraft werden“, so Demir.

Die Rechtsanwaltskammer von Wan berichtet, dass sie den Vorfall in Wan weiter verfolgen werden. Die drei Folteropfer wurden mittlerweile in eine Jugendstrafanstalt überbracht. Bevor sie dorthin verlegt wurden, habe man bewirken können, dass sie einer ärztlichen Untersuchung unterzogen werden. Dort konnten die Foltereinwirkungen attestiert werden. Die Anwält*innen halten weiter Kontakt zu den drei Minderjährigen. Ihre Berichte über die Folter wurden dokumentiert und ein Beschwerdeverfahren zu dem Vorfall bei der Staatsanwaltschaft von Wan eingeleitet. Die Rechtsanwaltskammer werde den Fall weiter verfolgen.

ANF

VIDEO

HIER ( auf türkisch )

The Killing of Tahir Elçi

On 28 November 2015, Tahir Elçi, a prominent Kurdish human rights lawyer, was shot and killed during a press conference in the city of Diyarbakır, Turkey.

Elçi’s death came during a time of rising tensions in the country, against the backdrop of the decades-long conflict between Turkish security forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a militant political movement dedicated to achieving Kurdish autonomy in Turkey’s southeast.

By late 2015, a major peace process had recently collapsed into violence. Elçi had been a prominent voice for calm and de-escalation, but after his death, the situation in Diyarbakır deteriorated into humanitarian catastrophe, leaving hundreds of civilians dead and thousands displaced.

It was not only the manner of his death—seemingly echoing the assassinations of the conflict’s worse years—that caused outrage, and fulled rumours and conspiracy theories. The early days of the investigation into his death were chaotic, and in three years since the killing, no one has been charged.

In 2016, the Diyarbakır Bar Association, of which Elçi was chairman at the time of his death, asked Forensic Architecture to examine the evidence in their possession, and to independently investigate the circumstances of his death. As Elçi was killed during a press conference, multiple cameras captured the moments leading up to his death.

In December 2018, the results of our analysis were submitted to the public prosecutor in Diyarbakır, with the intention of challenging the Turkish state to reinvigorate its own investigation.

In February 2019, we published an extended report on our investigation through openDemocracy, exploring in depth some of the wider context behind Elçi’s death, and our investigation. You can read that here (English) and here (Türkçe).

You can also view our methodology here: English / Türkçe



Forensic Architecture

VIDEO

The Killing of Tahir Elçi – ENGLISH

The Killing of Tahir Elçi – EN from Forensic Architecture on Vimeo.

Syrians celebrating new year at Istanbul’s Taksim square sparks outrage

Thousands of Syrian refugees in Turkey pouring into Istanbul’s Taksim square on Monday night to celebrate the new year created a wave of anti-Syrian outrage in the country, Sözcü newspaper reported.

Turks reacted when many young Syrian men opened flags and chanted slogans in square, the central point of new year celebrations in Turkey.

A video showing Syrian refugees’ new year celebrations in Istanbul went viral in the early hours of 2019, with many lashing out at the Syrians and the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Syrian refugees policy on social media.

Over 5,000 tweets were posted within hours with the hashtag #ÜlkemdeSuriyeliİstemiyorum [I don’t want Syrians in my country].

“In the video, which was shared by thousands in a couple of hours, there are Syrians who are jubilantly celebrating the new year by dancing in the Taksim square and waving Syrian flags. But, it is noticed that there are no Turks among those joining the celebrations,” Sözcü newspaper said.

One Syrian man was detained by the police on Monday night for allegedly sexually harassing two women, Sözcü said.

Turkey is home to a reported 3.8 million Syrian refugees, having implemented an open doors policy since the beginning of the conflict in the neighbouring country in 2011.

More than 70 percent of Turkish people believe Syrian refugees are taking their jobs and two-thirds think Syrians are responsible for increasing the crime rate, according to a poll conducted by Istanbul Bilgi University’s Centre for Migration Research in 2018.

“In the past we were talking about tourists being harassed during celebrations in Taksim, now we are excepted to digest the fact that Syrians wave their flags and harass us. Welcome 2019, this is Turkey,” Ata Benli, a Turkish Twitter user said. ( VIDEO )

Some Turks spoke out against the outrage and hashtag against Syrians.

‚‘It’s easy to say I don‘t want Syrians in my country just because they had fun in Taksim Square. If we are to question anything, it should be the support Turkey provides to armed forces under the name of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). For example, the fee for the salary, clothing, weapons and food provided to this group is coming out of the pockets of this country’s citiziens,'‘ one Twitter user said.

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“Did our young people become martyred on their soil for Syrian youth to invade Taksim, to stage a show with their flags chanting ‘Syria’, and to harass our girls,” another one said on Twitter.

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‚‘You don‘t want Syrians in your country, but do the Syrians want you in their country?'‘ another user asked, in an apparent reference to Turkey’s military presence in the country.

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“There are Syrians everywhere, on the streets at schools, offices,” one Turkish woman said. “Taksim has been invaded by them. They can mark this in history as ‘land invaded without fighting any war’,” she added.

Özkan Yalım, a deputy of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), also criticised the Syrians’ celebrations. “On the one side there are our glorious Turkish soldiers during in Syria, on the other side there are Syrians celebrating new year in Istanbul. Isn’t enough is enough,” he said.

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Many Turks are angered by AKP policies which they claim provide Syrian refugees with preferential treatment in social services as well as financial assistance.

The debate over Turkey’s protection of Syrian refugees has taken on more urgency in the past year, with opposition lawmakers criticising the government’s spending on refugees during an economic downturn.

Some 55,000 Syrians have been granted Turkish citizenship in the past seven years, according to the Turkish government.


Ahval




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