The arrest of the new ISIS leader gives Erdogan more negotiating power with NATO, the US and the West
The fate of the West and of NATO is in the hands of Turkey. It may seem like an exaggeration, but maybe it isn’t. Ankara’s no to the entry of Sweden and Finland into the Atlantic Alliance has not only formal and organizational consequences, but symbolic and practical ones. The no to Helsinki and Stockholm would be a sensational assist to Vladimir Putin, but also to China who observes what is happening in Ukraine from afar to test Western unity in the face of hypothetical military moves in Asia-Pacific, with Taiwan at the center of thoughts.
But in the meantime an assist, this already certain, has come to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who with the no to the two Scandinavian countries aims to obtain in exchange something important from the United States and Europe. As already happened during the 2016 migrant crisis, when it received a mammoth sum from Brussels to keep its borders under control.
The assist in question is the arrest of the new Isis leader Abu Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi at the end of an operation that took place in Istanbul and made possible by the work of the secret services of Ankara. The news was reported by the Turkish broadcaster OdaTv, according to which the operation took place in great secrecy, leading to the arrest of a “leading exponent” of the Islamic State whose identity was later revealed by the Bloomberg agency after confirmation obtained from Ankara officials.
It is no coincidence that Erdogan himself will present himself to provide more detailed information on the operation in the coming days, considering that this is a serious blow to terrorism that the president will be able to assert both internationally and internally, the debate on the next elections in 2023 is in fact already hot. Abu Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi had been listed as the successor to the head of ISIS after the death of Abu Ibrahim al-Hasimi al-Qurayshi on February 3 in northern Syria, not far from the Turkish border and from where in ‘October 2019, the first head of Isis Abu Bakir Al-Baghdadi was killed, who announced the founding of the caliphate and the Islamic state.
Turkey decisive for the Russia-Ukraine negotiations and the flow of grain from the ports
This is another issue that Erdogan will bring to bear in his dialogue with the West. But what does the sultan want? He can ask a lot in return, since his own not only does the diplomatic negotiation on the war in Ukraine pass from Turkey, but also the possibility of unblocking the flow of grain at the moment stopped in the ports of the Black Sea. Clearly, after the arrest of the ISIS leader, Erdogan’s negotiating power still increases.
Erdogan appears to use Turkey’s role as mediator in the war in Ukraine and its ability to veto new NATO members as an opportunity to make a series of grievances and to force other nations to act against groups that the Turkish government considers terrorists, including Kurdish militants. Amplifying his strongman image by focusing on international disputes could also have internal resonance, as Turkey prepares for next year’s general elections.
In threatening to block the entry of the two Nordic nations into the Western military alliance, the Turkish government also wants them to end their alleged support for the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, a Syrian Kurdish militia. The PKK is considered a terrorist organization in Turkey, Europe and the United States. Since 1984 he has led an armed insurrection against the Turkish state and the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people. Turkey argues that the PKK and the YPG are one and the same.
Erdogan takes the opportunity to attack the Kurds in Syria
Turkey calls for the extradition of terrorist suspects wanted by Finland and Sweden. The two NATO candidate countries reject accusations of supporting the PKK or other terrorist groups. Another key demand is the lifting of arms sales restrictions that several European countries, including Sweden and Finland, have imposed on Turkey following the 2019 incursion into Syria to take action against the YPG.
Not surprisingly, right now Erdogan prepares a new Turkish offensive in northern Syria to create a 30-kilometer-deep security zone along the southern border. The long-declared goal would be to remove the YPG militias from Turkey’s borders. The timing suggests that such an offensive could be used to rally nationalist voters, while providing a path for the momentum created by Turkey’s role as mediator in the war between Russia and Ukraine to further Ankara’s demands in the negotiations of the Born.
The fate of the West is in the hands of the sultan.
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