Proposed Anti-Tank Missile Sale to Turkey, Qatar Raises Concern
by John Rossomando
Investigative Project on Terrorism
Advanced anti-tank missiles that Raytheon and Lockheed Martin plan to sell to Turkey and Qatar could end up in the hands of jihadists, a member of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) told the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT).
Defense Department officials announced last week that the two companies won a $95 million contract to sell sophisticated Javelin anti-tank missiles to Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, France, Taiwan, Jordan and Lithuania.
“This is very dangerous. Give these people weapons today. Never know if they end up using it in the West and Europe. These guys want back [the] Ottoman Empire,” said Bassam Ishak, a member of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC)’s political bureau. That is the political wing of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces that form the backbone of the Trump administration’s strategy against ISIS in Syria.
Recently, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to attack SDF forces – and possibly U.S. troops who are stationed in Manbij, Syria in support of the SDF. Turkey also has recently threatened to invade NATO ally Greece.
Erdogan’s government has a track record of arming jihadists in Syria. Turkey and Qatar provided arms to Libyan rebels, much of which ended up in the hands of the “more antidemocratic, more hard-line” groups.
Turkey served as the main source of arms in Libya, a March 2016 United Nations Security Council panel of experts found. Exiled Turkish journalist Abdullah Bozkurt reported that U.N. experts tracked the weapons to companies linked to the Turkish government.
Turkish intelligence, known by its Turkish acronym MIT, also armed hardline jihadists in Syria.
“At this point, any arms provided to Turkey under Erdogan[‘s] leadership is potentially dangerous,” Bozkurt said. “It is the most anti-Western political leader that is on par with Iran’s Mullahs.”
U.S. officials seem oblivious to Turkey’s role arming and supporting jihadists who attacking Sunni Syrian Arabs and Kurds who share America’s secular, democratic values in the Afrin region, Ishak said.
He contrasts SDF supporters with the forces Turkey supports, saying the SDF wants a peaceful pluralistic Syria that is open to all regardless of religion or ethnicity, while Turkey wants a Syria ruled under shariah.
“They are acting like a bully in the neighborhood. They have regained the Ottoman bully spirit. If the world allows them to do this, you have a powerful Muslim Sunni state that is supporting religious extremists,” Ishak said.
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