Dec 16 2017

McMaster’s changing view on radical Islam concerns Turkey, expert says

U.S. National Security Adviser General HR McMaster’s views on radical Islam and Turkey’s role in it will likely to have consequences for Ankara, Gönül Tol, an academic at George Washington University’s Institute for Middle East Studies said.

Speaking on Turkey’s online-only alternative TV platform Medyascope, Tol said McMaster did not agree with the long-argued distinction between radical and non-radical Islamist organisations and had warned about organisations that recruit already radicalised members, and also charities, schools and other organisations where young Muslims could be radicalised.

Although she disagrees with McMaster, who said that Saudi Arabia had stopped funding radicalism, Tol said that naming Turkey and especially Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling party among political organisations that support radical Islam was very significant.

Tol also referred to an off-the-record meeting in Washington where she said McMaster had said the U.S. administration was extremely disturbed with anti-American sentiment in Turkey and that the portrayal of the United States in Turkish pro-government media was more hostile than in Iran.

McMaster also raised concerns about Turkey’s military operation in northwestern Syria, Tol said, where Turkey is known to cooperate with extremist group Tahrir al-Sham, and abbreviated HTS, which is an al Qaeda affiliate.

McMaster and his UK counterpart Mark Sedwill did a rare appearance at an event hosted by the Policy Exchange think tank in Washington, and both served together in Afghanistan in the past, have known each other well. Top national security advisers of both countries appear to have the same understanding when it comes to Muslim Brotherhood type of Islamist groups. 

On Monday, U.S. President Trump will reveal his first National Security Strategy. Expectations that Trump's first NSS might also target Muslim Brotherhood type of Islamist structures along with Iranian threat and other radical groups. McMaster already referred Mr. Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, AKP, as an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, much like the Mursi Government in Egypt, which was overthrown by the military coup, led by Sisi.



McMaster has said Turkey and Qatar are sponsors of radical Islamist ideology in the Middle East.