Thursday, May 29, 2008

Turkish conflicts: PKK, Turkish Hizbullah

Before they pulled out of excavations in the South-East (at the height of the war between the PKK and the TSK), archaeologists observed 'the conflict between fundamentalist Muslim and leftist Kurdish groups'; it was another part of the same problem. The draft report of the Turkish Parliament Actor Unknown Murder Investigation Commission(1) delicately recorded suspicion, and others have intimated, that the Turkish state turned a blind eye to, or that its security forces colluded with, Turkish Hizbullah.

Former President Süleyman Demirel was circumspect, opining that, 'Devlet bazen rutinin dışına çıkabilir [occasionally the State may depart from its routine]', 'when higher interests require it, if the government approves', accepting 'that some of the weapons might have been given to paramilitary village guards, and that "from there they may have found their way to other places"'.

Yet former Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Çiller freely admitted that,
"Yes, it was my signature on the order to deliver those weapons.... We met and made a decision. We decided that terror was the main issue and that whatever was necessary to stop it would be done... The military chief of staff, the governors, the police – everyone worked together on it."(2)
Former Batman Governor Salih Şarman explained that, '[i]t was my idea.... I wrote to Ciller. She approved.... The gendarmerie helped with accommodation and training.... The weapons in question were... from Bulgaria'. In fact, the weapons were from 'Kintex, a Sofia-based, state-controlled import-export firm', in an arms-for-drugs deal, where '[t]he weapons were distributed to village guards -- some of whom later joined Hizbullah'.(3)

Like Sedat Buçak's private army - of ten thousand troops, rather than the registered four hundred Village Guards - in Siverek and Hivan, Salih Şarman's gang in Batman Province was a private army/paramilitary and was part of the deep state; it had the direct and indirect support of the governorship, the gendarmerie and the prime ministry, with only the presidency's coy denial in the face of Şarman's insistence that '[t]he state knew all about it'.

Despite Çiller specifically stating that the military chief of staff agreed upon support for Şarman's army and Turkish Hizbullah and retired General Nevzat Bölügiray creating a middle ground where it could be accepted that '[s]ome people who see themselves as patriots formed what amounts to a terrorist group', the Turkish military have insisted that it would be 'slander devoid of sense or logic' to conclude that either the Turkish Armed Forces or gangs within it (like, indeed, Şarman's gang) had supported Turkish Hizbullah.

Turkish security forces only targeted Turkish Hizbullah(4) when they feared that it would target them, imprisoning or killing its leaders, but failing to prevent its activists (who then numbered and still now number about 20,000) leaving to fight outside Turkey, including in Bosnia and Afghanistan.(5) Yet, they did not merely "fail to prevent" Islamic extremists going elsewhere to fight.

Turkish ex-military and 'maybe' serving secret service staff trained Mujahideen to go to Chechnya at a (Grey Wolves splinter group) Nizamı Alem (Universal Order) camp in Turkey and '[a]rms purchased by Iran and Turkey [and].... Mojahedin fighters were also flown in [to Bosnia by the US, Turkey and Iran]'; moreover, '"... some of these people who went to fight Russians or Serbs were indoctrinated against infidels" and returned to Turkey as cell leaders for Al Qaeda'.(6)

Turkey even formed a pivot between conflict zones, as
members of the Bosnia-based terrorist group Kvadrat have been facilitated in traveling through Turkey to get into Chechnya, where they have been engaged in terrorist and insurgent operations, and then repatriated through Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus, where they are clearly supported by the Turkish Cypriot and Ankara authorities.
[The question of the source for this had been playing at the back of my mind, until I vaguely remembered, then Googled and rediscovered, Oliver Kamm's note on the 'less well known and far more controversial body called, confusingly, the International Strategic Studies Association', which is not 'the well known International Institute for Strategic Studies'.

Now, I find a similar claim on a Serb nationalist website, and I distrust it even more. Thankfully, it doesn't materially change anything I've said, because it was a detail, an illustration, and the BBC's, CNN's, the Guardian's and the Boston Globe's documentation of the flow of Mujahideen between Turkey and Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya is certain.]

Furthermore, Turkish Mujahideen trained and fought alongside the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) (Ushtria Çlirimtare e Kosovës (UÇK)).
  1. Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi Faili Meçhul Cinayetler Arast1rma Komisyonu taslak raporu.
  2. Although none of the sources have exactly the same phrasing, they agree that former Prime Minister Tansu Çiller said (something like), 'her şeye imza attım [I signed everthing]'. She may have claimed ignorance of any 'irregularities', but most sources agree that she was defiant and said (something like), 'I'm glad I signed', or '[b]unu bugün olsa yine yapardım [if it were today I would do the same again]'.
  3. While most sources say that, despite ideological and practical similarities, Turkish Hizbullah has no relation, no connection with Lebanese Hizbullah (indeed, Lebanese Hizbullah deny that they are connected), even to say that it has no formal links would be inaccurate.

    'Ehud Sadan, chief of security at the Israeli embassy in Ankara.... was blown up by a bomb planted under his car. The authorities arrested several members of Turkish Hezbollah, acting under orders from Mr. Mugniyah'. So, at least to some extent, some or all of Turkish Hizbullah's (then and now again) 20,000 members were being directed by Lebanese Shi'ite Haji Imad Fayez Mugniyah, who was a senior officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's paramilitary Quds Force and the leader of the military wing of Lebanese Hezbollah.
  4. There was too little space in the jails to imprison many Turkish Hizbullah activists, but apparently some of its 1990s members gave up the violent methods that they considered 'had lost [them] divine support'.
  5. That would provide circumstantial evidence for 'alleged collaboration' between Turkish Hizbullah and al-Qaeda, that collaboration seemingly confirmed by the activities of el Kaide Turka.
  6. The money for the Special Mixed Battalions/Mixed Special Operations Units came from secret government funding, passed through the Mass Housing Administration, Development and Support Fund, written off as accommodation for the gendarmerie.
[Corrected on the 2nd of September 2008.]

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