Israel and Turkey: Shared Concerns Include Radical Islamic Fighters in Neighboring Syria

Israel and Turkey have been on the “outs” for years, and Prime Minister Recip Erdogan continues to make efforts — in public — to appear as a Muslim political hero, in part through voicing constant criticism of Israel.

Prime Minister Erdogan

In private, however, the two countries — and especially their intelligence agencies — are again finding common cause: because sandwiched between them is Syria, where a vicious civil war for almost three years has created a vacuum partially filled by Islamist radicals who come from near and far.

Turkey’s population is overwhelmingly Muslim, but the country has generally been ruled by secular laws.

And, because Turks are not Arabs, they were part of the “Peripheral Strategy” that Israel’s Mossad (foreign intelligence agency) developed — since the 1950s — to make secret alliances around the fringes of the Muslim Arab nations of the Middle East.

This article by Benjamin Weinthal of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies quotes Yossi Melman, co-author of Spies Against Armageddon (and other books, including our previous history of Israeli intelligence, Every Spy a Prince):

The brutal, Al Qaeda-linked group rebels invited into Syria to help topple President Bashir Assad has virtually taken over northern Syria, raising fears that its brand of indiscriminate terror could spill into neighboring Turkey, where some 300 U.S. soldiers are based to protect Turkish airspace from Syrian missile attacks.
 
ISIS — whose name has been translated as “Greater Syria” — joined the Free Syria Army’s bid to oust Assad, but now seeks to turn the embattled nation into a building block in a radical Sunni Islamic empire, or caliphate, across the Middle East. The group has captured towns and swaths of territory along the border with Turkey.
 
According to a recent analysis from Stratfor, a Texas-based global intelligence organization, ISIS “has dispatched hundreds of fighters north toward Turkey in response to closure of certain border crossings.” Turkey has a powerful military, but even so, can’t welcome an enclave of radical jihadists on its border, say experts.
 
“Turkey could be a target for them [ISIS ]… Not in the immediate future, but maybe in the far future,” said Yossi Melman, a top Israeli security expert and co-author of “Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars.”
 
Melman said Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is not a “real Muslim” in the eyes of ISIS because he is a relatively moderate Islamic leader.
 
The ISIS has “gained a lot of knowledge and experience about Turkey,” cultivated ties and could form sleeper cells, added Melman. “If I were a Turkish official, I would say, there is  room for concern,” he said.

Here is the rest of the article at FoxNews.com : http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/10/15/jihadists-flooding-into-northern-syria-put-turkey-on-edge/?intcmp=latestnews

 

October 16, 2013

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