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Turkish government co-operated with al-Qaeda in Syria, says former US ambassador

Turkish government co-operated with al-Qaeda in Syria, says former US ambassador

Officials supported the extremist group’s Syrian wing in a failed attempt to moderate extremists, according to Francis Ricciardone. 

U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone and  U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (R) attend a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, on December 16, 2011
U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone with former CIA Director Leon Panetta in Ankara in 2011.


By Richard Spencer, Middle East Correspondent, and Raf Sanchez in Washington
7:43PM BST 12 Sep 2014, Telegraph

Turkey has directly supported al-Qaeda’s wing in Syria in defiance of the United States, the former American ambassador to Ankara has said.

The Turkish authorities thought they could work with extremist Islamist groups in the Syrian civil war and at the same time push them to become more moderate, Francis Ricciardone, who was until late June the US ambassador to Ankara, told journalists in a briefing.

That led them to work with Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s branch, as well as hardline Salafi Islamist groups like Ahrar al-Sham. Mr Ricciardone said that he tried to persuade the Turkish government to close its borders to the groups, but to no avail.

“We ultimately had no choice but to agree to disagree,” he said. “The Turks frankly worked with groups for a period, including al Nusra, whom we finally designated as we’re not willing to work with.”

Turkey allowed its borders to be used as a conduit for aid, weapons and volunteers heading for the Syrian rebel cause from the start of the uprising, and there have long been accusations that it did not do enough to distinguish between “moderate” groups and extremists.

But this is the first time a senior American official – albeit one no longer in service – has said openly that Turkey was working with al-Qaeda.

Ironically, the Turkish policy has been effective in one way – Jabhat al-Nusra is now seen as relatively moderate compared to its splinter group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil). But in other respects, it has backfired.

President Barack Obama repeatedly stalled on providing more support to the rebel cause, fearing weapons would get into the hands of extremists.

Then Isil split from Jabhat al-Nusra in the summer of last year, taking thousands of its recruits and their weapons with it, along with territory the group controlled in the east of the country.

Turkish officials yesterday cited the fact that Isil are holding hostage 49 Turks sized from the country’s consulate in Mosul in northern Iraq as a reason not to take part in the US-led military coalition to take on the group.

Turkish analysts say the government is also worried about a wider backlash by Isil, which now has recruiting stations and supporters entrenched in the country.

“For a long time the Islamic State militants have operated under the policy of ‘benign neglect’,” said Sinan Ulgen, a former diplomat and head of the Istanbul foreign policy think-tank Edam.

He said that the authorities would now start to move against Isil inside the country and support the American coalition, but without advertising the fact.

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, met Turkish leaders yesterday but noticeably held back from publicly asking Turkey to alter its insistence that American forces could not launch military raids on Isil positions from its territory.

Turkey is a key Nato ally and host to a major US base at Incirlik, in the south of the country.

President Barack Obama’s new determination to intervene in the multi-pronged civil war in Syria, attacking Isil from the air and supporting “moderate” rebels on the ground, continued to come under fire.

In particular, doubt has been cast on the potential effectiveness of the non-militant rebels, fighting on two fronts against both Isil and the regime. A new CIA estimate revised the figure for the number of fighters for Isil in Syria and Iraq as 20,000-31,500.

Another critic of President Obama was the mother of James Foley, one of two journalists beheaded by Isil in retaliation for US bombing raids on their positions.

Diane Foley told CNN that the family’s efforts to get her son freed had seemed like an “annoyance” to the government, and that at one stage they were warned that they could be arrested and prosecuted if they tried to raise a ransom for him, as that was illegal.

“We were just told to trust that he would be freed somehow and he wasn’t, was he?” she said.


11 thoughts on “Turkish government co-operated with al-Qaeda in Syria, says former US ambassador

    • So where’s the unusual (for me, anyway) spelling of your fist name from? I’ve never seen it spelt with a k before – it looked Scandinavian to me.
      Cheery Greetz ☺

      Liked by 1 person

    • ERRATUM:
      spotted the “fist name” typo (although you ARE one tough cookie, aren’t ya, so “fist name” is a rather appropriate typo!☺) after clicking Post Comment. I assume I must have meant “first name”, don’t you?☺


  1. Turkey sends mixed messages. There is one scenario which creeps into the back of my mind. How is Russia likely to react if US backs Turkey? Turkey Saudi Qatar Bahrain etc are all Sunni/Wahhabi Iran Iraq Shiia in the likely event of WWIII currently Russia is assisting Syria? IRAN = nuclear missiles just now looks like another version of Cuban missile crisis & Communist Russia backing Israel’s enemies in 67 & 73! Yet Russia has vowed to keep Israel out of this? Not possible or is it? Israel surrounded by four Sunni regimes and Shiia Iran? There is a problem here – better to wipe out IRAN, deal with the rest of Sunni’s similarly in short ISLAMIC OIL is at the root of the problem the only nation it appears who doesn’t need Islamic Oil is Russia? Britian is no longer investing in her own fields but insists on importing from Saudi because it is cheaper crude. Guess Norway/Scandinavia will do the same. Such policies will simply give more power to IRAN/IRAQ/SAUDI/LIBYA there has to be an alternative. OIL WWIII

    Liked by 1 person

      • Before answering your question. Between me and thee a little taqqiya has been used. Although it is true I am an SSS only just! Crude OIL Sheiks are just that, golden lavatories and a 1,000 in the 20th Century. What were they using up till the mid ’70’s? Shovel and spade perhaps? 😀 😀


      • DISAPPOINTED to the max, Ericka. Taqqiya?!! I never would have guessed that you’re actually an Islamidiot spy!!! I’m weeping… ☺☺☺
        I already know that you speak English and Swedish. I don’t know if you can speak German as well, but, in any case, here goes:
        Es gibt keinen Schrott außer Knaller
        und Klohammel ist ein Prolet!
        also –
        Im Namen des Proleten:
        Alle zur Nacktbar!!!
        Alle zur Nacktbar!!!
        Alle zur Nacktbar!!!

        PS: I’m taking a flexi-day today.


    • It’s because Russia has implicitly threatened Iran from attacking Israel. They will face repercussions if they do.

      But they’re all about fighting a bunch of Sunnis, which is why they are immediately onboard with what they are doing, and have willingly used their own ground forces. This way Russia doesn’t need ground forces, because they’re using two armies on the ground.

      The only “moderate” rebels that were only against Assad, but were not themselves Islamist have all simply functionally joined Assad’s forces. Because neither of them want those guys to win. So all the accusations against Russia about not fighting ISIS are just Saudi sunni lies.

      The only thing we should do in the area is back what the Russians are already doing.


      • Thank you Sir, I could kick myself for not seeing this angle. Guess US propaganda has been getting to me, I was beginning to lose my perspective. Wahhabi/Sunni member of so called Saudi Royal family has just started censoring TWITTER! Bare Naked Islam has just informed its followers and I am one. This news was announced on RT about a week ago but it was in the small print if you get my drift. Nevertheless only RT put this out, don’t believe BBC announced this. Now unable to post anti Islamic comments on TWITTER but the ARABS may verbally abuse in print and in the media the Jews/Christians with impunity!


Published under FAIR USE of factual content citing US 17 U.S.C. § 107 fair use protection, Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976 and UK Section 30(1) of the 1988 Act.

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