German Government Sees Erdogan Support for Islamist Militants


Muriel Mirak-Weissbach

Special to the Mirror-Spectator

BERLIN — Rumors, reports and allegations pertaining to covert support for terrorists by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government have circulated since the first armed Syrian groups convened in Turkey, in the early stages of the Syrian crisis.

In late 2015, the Saudi connection was exposed in the German press; it was not only the Wahhabite ideology but also direct military support that came to light. In the December 12, 2015 issue of the Armenian Mirror-Spectator (“Friends of ISIS – First in Riyadh, Now in Ankara?”), I reported on this coverage and suggested that the case of Turkey should also be put under the magnifying glass. In recent weeks, the issue has crept into the newspapers in background features and commentaries. Now, according to a press report by the German television channel ARD in its online edition, it appears that the German government has officially expressed the view that active cooperation with such organizations in the Middle East has been part of a conscious policy on the part of Ankara.

The news was released on radio and online publications on August 16, and cited the Berlin office of ARD-Informationen, the first national television station, as its source. ARD reported on a written reply by the federal government to a parliamentary question posed by the opposition Left (Linke) Party, a reply that was classified as confidential and not intended for publication. “The numerous solidarity events and support activities for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and armed Islamist opposition in Syria on the part of the governing party AKP and President Erdogan underline their ideological affinity to the Muslim Brothers,” according to the document quoted by ARD. As it notes, this would be the first time that the German government has officially acknowledged a direct link between Erdogan and such organizations.

According to ARD, the Turkish government deliberately intensified these relations over time. In the leaked document one reads: “As a result of the progressively Islamized domestic and foreign policy that Turkey has followed especially since 2011, it has developed into the central action platform for Islamist groups of the Near and Middle East region.” Again according to ARD, this government view rested on an evaluation of the German Intelligence Agency (Bundesnachrichtendienst-BND). The Interior Ministry, according to ARD, did not coordinate the reply with the Foreign Ministry, and it was not intended to be made public. It does stand however as an official government position.

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As of this writing reactions from Ankara have not yet appeared. But one should prepare for fireworks.

(— Note: Translations from German are those of the author.)

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