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March 2, 2018 12:18 pm

Proposed Weapons Sales by US Companies to Turkey, Qatar Raise Concerns

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: Reuters / Kayhan Ozer.

Advanced anti-tank missiles that the US companies Raytheon and Lockheed Martin plan to sell to Turkey and Qatar could end up in the hands of jihadists. That report comes from a member of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC).

US Defense Department officials announced last week that the two aforementioned 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, [and they could end up being used against the West],” said Bassam Ishak, a member of the SDC’s political bureau. The SDC is the political wing of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that form the backbone of the Trump administration’s strategy to combat ISIS in Syria.

Recently, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to attack SDF forces — and possibly US troops who are stationed in Manbij, Syria, in support of the SDF. Turkey also has recently threatened to invade NATO ally Greece.

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Erdogan’s government has a track record of arming jihadists in Syria. Turkey and Qatarprovided 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, according to a March 2016 United Nations Security Council panel of experts. Exiled Turkish journalist Abdullah Bozkurt reported that UN experts tracked the weapons to companies linked to the Turkish government.

Turkish intelligence, known by its Turkish acronym MIT, has also armed hardline jihadists in Syria.

“At this point, any arms provided to Turkey under Erdogan[‘s] leadership are potentially dangerous,” Bozkurt said. “He is the most anti-Western political leader, and is on par with Iran’s Mullahs.”

US officials seem oblivious to Turkey’s role arming and supporting jihadists who attacking Sunni Syrian Arabs and Kurds — groups that share America’s secular, democratic values, Ishak said.

He said that 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 law.

“Turkey is acting like a bully in the neighborhood. If the world allows them to do this, you will have a powerful Muslim Sunni state that is supporting religious extremists,” Ishak said.

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