It has been strongly evidenced that Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP in Turkish) has woven relationship with militant groups in Syria and other Arab world, which is so intricate that it has become at the centre of suspicions regionally and internationally. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is regarded as the architect of criminal deals, which are dealing major threats to the sovereignty and national security of different Arab states.
According to substantial accusations, Ankara is offering safe refuge to militants, who escaped from crackdowns by security authorities in their countries. The clandestine cooperation between Turkey’s AKP and militants, including ISIS fighters, came out in daylight when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on December 5, 2017 told Russian news agency Sputnik that terrorists evacuated from Raqqa in Syria were sent to Egypt.
The secret relationship between the Turkish ruling party and militants reared its ugly head in the fall of 2013, when Syria’s northwestern town of Idlib, 30 kilometre off the Turkish border, witnessed the establishment of a militant group called the Islamic Union of Ajnad al-Sham. The military chief of the newly-founded group, Abu Mohamed Al-Fateh, was the leader of Shabab al-Huda militant group.
Al-Fateh managed to deploy more than 15,000 rebels in eastern Ghouta after several armed militias decided to tuck their heads under the banner of IUAS. These groups include Amjad-al-Islam, Al-Habib-al-Mostafa, Al-Sahaba and Der’ al-Assema. The merger gave IUAS to declare itself the most powerful militant group fighting the army of Bashar Assad in Syria.
Due to its position, IUAS has become Ankara’s most favoured terrorist group in the region. In an interview with Turkey’s TRT World, IUAS’s spokesman Wael Elwan acknowledged that the militant group was depending entirely on Turkey’s logistic and financial support.
However, Al-Fateh resigned on November 30, 2015. No reasons for his resignation were given. But he advised militant groups and their leaders to reassess their steps in the battlefields around the Syrian capital. He also urged them to consolidate their unity and upgrade their war strategy. Concurrently, IUAS issued a statement, in which it pledged to cooperate with its militant groups to adopt a unified military strategy near Damascus. The parent group also urged a unified political stance, which could encourage the integration of their administrative, financial and military hierarchies.
Elwan, on February 19, 2016, called upon IUAS-led coalition to join Faylaq-al-Rahman, which was declared as the central force in eastern Ghouta. Elwan’s call was supported by Ajnad-al-Sham’s general commander Abu Hamza al-Hamawi, who confirmed that the move would stimulate coherence and serve the unified action and the interests of Al-Jihad.
Nonetheless, the merger between IUAS and Faylaq-al-Rahman under colonel Abdel-Nasser Shamir provoked the ire of Geishul Islam. IUAS’s spokesman criticized colonel’s alleged poor military experience, which frustrated plans to launch large-scale operations, regardless of the coalition’s big number of rebels and weapons.
The dispute between Geishul Islam and Faylaq-al-Rahman reached the boiling point. About 170 rebels from both sides were killed when a violent battle broke out on April 28, 2017. Geishul Islam also besieged Ajnad-al-Sham fighters in different parts of eastern Ghouta. According to London-based Syrian Human Rights Observatory, bloodier fight took place between various military groups, and at least 500 fighters were killed.
Qatar and Turkey are unmasked
In addition to IUAS, Ankara and Doha expanded their logistic and financial support to bloodier militant groups, such as Gaysh-al-Islam, which was launched in September 2011 by Zahran Alloush under the banner of Sariyat-al-Islam. A year after, Alloush announced the formation of Liwa-al-Islam, a coalition of several rebel groups, whose number increased to 60 in 2013.
Gaysh-al-Islam has a different political dimension from Ajnad-al-Sham. Mohamed Alloush, brother of its military chief, represents the Syrian opposition in Geneva talks. Like ISIS, Gaysh-al-Islam is fighting to turn Syria to an Islamic state.
The barbaric group admitted to using forbidden weapons against Kurdish militias in Aleppo on April 7, 2016. Worse, London-based Observatory revealed that Gaysh-al-Islam used women and children as human shields in its fights in eastern Ghouta. The militant group also published in June 2015 a video showing mass executions of its adversaries. Atrocities committed by GAyesh-al-Islam prompted several countries, such as Egypt and Russia, to categorise it as a terrorist group. Nonetheless, Gaysh al-Islam’s rebels were not asked to leave the negotiating table in Geneva.
The group’s military chief was killed in December in 2015 in an airstrike in eastern Damascus. Several leading members, including his deputy commander Abu Mahmoud al-Zeibaq and military spokesman Hamza Berqerdar, were also killed in the attack, which was described as a deadly blow dealt to this major militant group. Abu-Hamam al-Bouaydani was appointed Alloush’s successor.