Turkey must not get involved in this mess

Turkey must not get involved in this mess

It is not clear what the truth about the Syria-bound truck, stopped on a tip-off by police for allegedly being laden with weapons, is all about. All we know is that the authorities did not allow it to be searched and let it continue on its way.

The policemen who stopped the truck and the prosecutor who tried to have it searched have since received their marching orders, thus adding to the intrigue. Prime Minister Erdoğan even sees a link between the current corruption scandal, for which he is blaming anti-government elements in the police and judiciary, and this incident.

Newly appointed Minister for Interior Efkan Ala said after Hürriyet broke the news about the truck that it was carrying supplies for Syrian Turcoman, refusing to elaborate further. The government says it is a state secret and will not divulge any details. What we do know is that the Turkish intelligence service MIT is involved.

The release on Sunday of Bünyamin Aygün, the Turkish journalist kidnapped over a month ago in Northern Syria, has added to the intrigue and stoked more speculation. Aygün said, after being brought to Turkey by an MIT team, that he thought his abductors were Al-Qaeda affiliated.

Some claim now that the truck was carrying weapons for the MIT team that crossed into Syria to get Aygün, which hints at a Hollywood type rescue operation if true. Others claim the truck was carrying weapons to the group that kidnapped Aygün in exchange for his release.

Of course it is not clear if this truck had anything to do with Aygün at all. But this is Turkey where conspiracy theorizing comes second to soccer in popularity. Meanwhile, claims that Turkey is arming radical Islamist anti-Assad elements in Northern Syria refuse to go away.

The Syrian government has even complained to the Security Council over this. The truck incident merely adds grist to Assad’s mill. No doubt it has also attracted the interest of every intelligence service operating in the region too.

News is coming in, against this backdrop, that Iran is vowing military support to the Iraqi government, which is fighting Al-Qaeda elements in Iraq’s Anbar Province. Gen. Mohammad Hejazi, the deputy chief-of-staff of the Iranian armed forces was quoted by Iranian media on Monday as saying that they can offer “military equipment and advisers” should Baghdad ask for it.

The city of Fallujah in Anbar province is said to be more or less under the control of radical Islamists aligned with Al-Qaeda. Fallujah became a rallying cry for Turkish Islamists, radical or otherwise, when U.S. forces attacked it in 2004, after the vengeance killing and mutilation of trigger-happy American mercenaries in Iraq.

The U.S. operation was accepted by most Turks as bloody and indiscriminate “payback” rather than an organized security operation. It also provided material for the rabidly anti-American blockbuster film “The Valley of the Wolves.” The bottom line is that there is sympathy in Turkey for the Sunnis of Anbar province.

This is clearly the case for Saudi Arabia and Qatar also. Many wonder now if Iran’s readiness to help the predominantly Shiite Maliki government in Anbar province will carry the proxy war in Syria to Iraq, and if so where Turkey will stand in all this.

Turkey’s involvement in Syria has been a messy one with much undesired blowback that still continues to come. For all the support that there may be among Turkish Islamists for the radical elements in that country, it is clear that most Turks are wary of getting embroiled in the Syrian debacle any further.

The same can be said for Iraq should matters get out of hand in Anbar province. This is a world of car bombs, kidnappings and beheadings, not to mention merciless massacres over arguments which go back 1400 years and which have nothing to do with the modern world.

This is why Turkey must not get involved any further in this mess, and only concern itself with the humanitarian dimension.