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Loose Cannon on Deck: Turkish Gov't Poses Threat to Neighbors, Own People

© AFP 2021 / ADEM ALTANTroops parade with Turkish flag on August 30, 2013 in Ankara during celebrations for the 91st anniversary of Victory Day, with ceremonies held at Ataturk's Mausoleum known as Anitkabir in Ankara, Turkey
Troops parade with Turkish flag on August 30, 2013 in Ankara during celebrations for the 91st anniversary of Victory Day, with ceremonies held at Ataturk's Mausoleum known as Anitkabir in Ankara, Turkey - Sputnik International
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The Turkish leadership has become the proverbial loose cannon on deck: no one knows which way Ankara will roll, but everyone realizes that the results will be very damaging, a former CIA Case Officer Philip Giraldi remarks.

Turkey with its unique geographic position, a 600,000-strong army and a vibrant and diversified economy is both "indispensable" as well as a dangerous power in the Middle East, former CIA Case Officer and Army Intelligence Officer Philip Giraldi underscores.

"It is perhaps Turkey's indispensability that is part of the problem, as it has given its current government a hubristic sense of entitlement that has developed into a conceit that it can be the arbiter for all its neighbors while also transforming itself into an autocracy at home," Giraldi writes in his article for The Unz Review.

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The former CIA official calls attention to the fact that a largely secular Turkish republic has now turned into an "illiberal democracy" increasingly run on "Islamic principles." Turkey's independent media have been eradicated, protesters beaten and shot and the opposition ruthlessly suppressed.

Giraldi stresses that it was Turkish President Recep Erdogan who is responsible for this embarrassing transformation.

So, it is hardly surprising that Ankara has been repeatedly spotted colluding with radical Islamists, most notably Daesh (IS/ISIL), in Syria and Iraq.

"As Turkey is nominally a US ally in combatting ISIS [Daesh] going after another de facto ally would seem to be a strange choice, but it ignores the fact that Ankara has been duplicitous from the beginning in terms of its real objectives," Giraldi notes.

Indeed, during the US-led operation against Daesh Turkey allowed jihadists to travel through it in and out of the war zone in the Middle East. Turkey's motif is understandable: Ankara's major goals in Syria are to eliminate the Kurdish military forces and topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

According to the former CIA officer, Recep Erdogan has no interest at all in defeating Daesh, quite the contrary.

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"One might reasonably go a step farther to assert that Turkey has been an ally of ISIS [Daesh], supporting from the beginning radical Sunni groups that eventually came together to form the terrorist organization," the former CIA Case Officer underscores.

Giraldi refers to that fact that back in 2014 he himself saw a certain number of Daesh supporters collecting money for Islamic extremists in various Istanbul neighborhoods.

It has long been rumored that Ankara is funding terrorists, providing them with arms and treating wounded Daesh militants in Turkey's hospitals. However, when two well-known Turkish journalists stepped out to provide ample evidence of Ankara's complicity in terrorism they were immediately detained and charged with treason.

But it is only a part of the story. On the other hand, Turkey has been twisting the EU's arm, threatening the European leaders with flooding the European Union with refugees from the Middle East and North Africa.

"It has been taking advantage of the refugee crisis, which it has helped create, and exploited legitimate fear of ISIS [Daesh] infiltration. Erdogan has promised to slow the human wave engulfing Europe only if the European Union comes up with 3 billion Euros to cover expenses," Giraldi points out.

In light of this Turkey resembles nothing so much as a blackmailer and a racketeer, not a credible partner.

Furthermore, Ankara has been involved in oil smuggling from Daesh-held territories in Syria and Iraq. The president's son Bilal Erdogan, the principal owner of BMZ Group Denizcilik, is transporting the stolen oil to Asia and Israel, according to the former intelligence official. Turkey is also smuggling Kurdistan oil despite vocal protests from the Iraqi government.

"Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is now seeking to increase his own considerable de facto powers, has certainly become a danger to all its neighbors but mostly inflicts damage on itself," Giraldi emphasizes, adding that Ankara's treacherous attack against the Russian Su-24 proved this assumption once again.

"Erdogan has become, internationally speaking, the proverbial loose cannon on deck. No one knows which way he will roll, but everyone has become absolutely certain that the results will be very, very damaging," the former CIA Case Officer concludes.

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