The world was shocked when hearing that Turkey destroyed a Russian jet that was commissioned to fight ISIS, Al-Nusra and other terrorist groups plaguing Syria. Even more shocking was NATO’s immediate defense of Turkey’s actions, despite Turkish President Erdogan not giving any condolences at that point or to date an apology. Rather we have seen Erdogan become increasingly emboldened knowing that he has the full backing of NATO against what could have been Russian military retaliations.However, what has been exposed since this tragedy is a policy of denial by Turkey. This policy of denying any implications of Turkish wrongdoing has permeated since the forefathers of the Republic of Turkey exterminated millions of non-Turkish minorities beginning in 1915.
The Young Turks Movement brought about radical modernization changes to the Ottoman Empire. The Young Turks changed the political system from an Absolute Monarchy to a functioning modern republic. However this vision also meant the creation of a homogenous Turkish state.
In the radical attempts to create this nationalistic, yet supposed secular state, 1.5 million Armenians, 900,000 Greeks and 300,000 Assyrians were systematically executed, exterminated or killed on death marches through the Syrian Desert.
100 years later, the only response we have seen from Turkey is complete and utter denial that such a genocide took place.
The 1955 Istanbul pogroms was set in motion and reduced the Greek population of Turkey from 120,000 in the 1950’s to 2500 in 2015. This pogrom begun with fake reports that the house where the Republic’s founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, was born in Greece had been bombed. Despite knowing a Turkish national had planted the bomb, the Turkish media and government continued to insinuate that Greeks had done it, resulting in mob violence against Greek people, churches and businesses. The Turkish government had once again denied that it had set flame to nationalistic sentiments aimed against its Greek minority, and denied knowing it was not a Greek who attempted to bomb Ataturk’s house.
If we ignore Turkey’s illegal invasion and occupation of Cyprus in which it denies committing war crimes, and if we ignore Turkey’s brutal treatment of its Kurdish minority, which of course it also denies, it brings us to the Syrian War.
Erdogan had the audacity to state that ‘everyone should respect the right of Turkey to defend its borders.’ However, amongst his rage, he failed to acknowledge the hypocrisy of his statement when one considers that Turkey in 2014 alone had violated Greek air and maritime territory 2,244 times, and Turkey violates Syrian airspace on a daily basis when it conducts airstrikes against Kurdish forces.
It has been revealed by the Khmeimim airbase radar in Latakia that it was in fact Turkey who had violated Syrian airspace when it bombed down the Russian jet. And what were Turkey’s reactions to this evidence? The omnipresent policy of denial.
Russia took the responsible action of not attacking Turkey military, but has responded by taking economic sanctions on Turkey and revealing the murky role it has played in the Syrian War.
Turkey’s support for terrorist groups like ISIS, as well as the Army of Conquest which consists mostly of Islamist groups like Ahrar ash-Sham and Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, Al-Nusra Front, have begun to be exposed. But of course, keeping in line with Turkish policy, it denies that the Army of Conquest is a radical Islamist group, and it utterly denies that it collaborates with ISIS at all.
But what does the evidence show?
Just in a speech over the weekend Putin said in a press conference with French President Hollande how Turkey and ISIS have a thriving oil trade. He says: “Day and night trucks are going to Turkey. Trucks always go there loaded, and back from there – empty. We are talking about a commercial-scale supply of oil”. Putin continues saying “we assume that the top political leadership of Turkey might not know anything about this illegal oil trade although that’s hard to believe.”
Of course Turkey has denied it facilitates the ISIS oil trade.
Even more recent, reports begun emerging that suggests Erdogan’s son Bilal is the key player of bringing Iraqi and Syrian oil from ISIS held territories to Turkey, in which yet again, Turkey denies.
The Russian Prime Minister Medvedev has even come out and said that Turkish officials have direct financial interests in the ISIS oil trade. This compliments Putin’s statements in exposing Turkey’s collaboration with ISIS.
Russian planes have relentlessly been bombing ISIS oil storages, refineries and several columns of fuel trucks. It becomes clear why an emboldened Turkey has gotten the courage to militarily attack Russia. They’re simply protecting their oil ventures with ISIS.
Virginia Senator, Richard H Black, states that the Army of Conquest has the “barbaric belief that all who deny puritanical Islam must be murdered, enslaved, raped or dominated through terror.”
Yet Turkey, with the assistance from Saudi Arabia, has helped create, fund and prop this coalition of terrorist groups. In keeping with this policy of denial, it refutes the claims that the Army of Conquest is an alliance of radical Islamist groups. However, many atrocities have been committed by the Army of Conquest towards Alawite, Christian and moderate Sunnis, in which Erdogan does not acknowledge.
And once again, what we have seen radical Turkish elements do to the Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians 100 years earlier, we are seeing a repeat of in Syria. Their support for the Army of Conquest and their multi-million dollar trade that financially props ISIS has only served to facilitate the genocide of Syria’s population. Continuously we see the extermination of Christians, Druze, Alawites and moderate Sunnis, because of Turkey’s support for these radical Islamist groups.
And most importantly, 100 years on from the genocides that took place, we have seen the consistent policy of denial by the Turkish state.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Al-Masdar News.
Paul Antonopoulos is currently a Candidate for an MA Degree, writing his dissertation on the Saudi-Iranian Geopolitical Rivalry in the Syrian War.
You can follow him on twitter: https://twitter.com/oulosP