Nov 18 2017

Turkey supported both sides of the Syrian conflict, analyst says

Turkey provided money and arms for anti-Assad militants in Syria, while also helping Iran, Assad’s backer, to evade U.S. sanctions, BuzzFeed quoted a foreign politics expert as saying.

Between 2011 and 2013, Turkey declared its support for Syrian anti-government groups, hosting interim governments in Turkey such as the Syrian National Council, Aykan Erdemir, a senior fellow at the U.S. think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the news outlet.

He said that Turkey had supported armed opposition to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces, trained and sheltered the Free Syrian Army, and gave logistical and intelligence support and allegedly also provided weapons to extremist jihadist groups.

Yet it also facilitated Iran’s war efforts in Syria.

The U.S. investigation that formally charged Turkish-Iran gold trader Reza Zarrab and Turkey’s former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan for money laundering and evading U.S. sanctions against Iran “will expose the hypocrisy of the Turkish government shedding tears over Syrian victims of a regime that Ankara indirectly supported”, Erdemir was quoted as saying.

According to the indictment prepared by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, Zarrab’s Turkish companies made money transfers to multiple Iranian companies affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Lebanese Hezbollah.

Iran was backing the Syrian government by sending it IRGC officials, but also by training and providing logistical support for Hezbollah fighters and other Shiite militant groups in the region, BuzzFeed quoted an anonymous intelligence source as saying.