An opinion piece by a pro-government commentator in Turkey about tensions with Greece has raised eyebrows, coming just ahead of Thursday’s fatal jet crash in the Aegean Sea.
In the article run by the Yeni Safak daily, a paper strongly supportive of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party, columnist Ibrahim Karagul claimed tensions in the Aegean were part of an international ploy to destabilize Turkey.
“The spark of a new conflict in Turkey’s west under the guise of a Turkish-Greek crisis in the Aegean, on the orders of the Atlantic circles, may be spurred once again using the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO),” Karagul wrote, referring to the clandestine network run by exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Gulen, a former Erdogan ally, is wanted by the Turkish government for his group’s alleged mastermining of the July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.
Karagul goes on to write that the “possible scenario is for an ‘accident’ to occur as the tension in the Aegean rises, Turkish equipment to strike a Greek boat or ship, a Western front that is under the protection of the entire EU and U.S. to suddenly be established, and for our country to be dragged into a great crisis both from the inside and outside”.
Turkey’s government is mindful of the November 2015 downing of a Russian warplane by Turkish forces for entering its airspace illegally. Sanctions from Moscow followed, hurting Turkey’s economy and distancing it from one of its few remaining international partners.
That incident later brought forth allegations that those involved in shooting down the Russian jet were members of the Gulen conspiracy, attempting to sabotage Erdogan’s government.
Karagul claimed that incident bound Turkey to U.S. plans in Syria and the Gulen group was used by outside powers — including the U.S., Israel, Europe and some Arab states — to “conduct the greatest attack in Turkey’s political history”.
“With that attack, Turkey was going to be drawn to the U.S. axis once again, downsized, the Thrace region was going to secede, and east and southeast Anatolia was going to split,” Karagul also claimed.
He went on to write that outside forces were trying to “sabotage Turkey-Russia ties”, break an electoral alliance between Erdogan’s AK Party and the far-right MHP; work with France to “siege Turkey” from Syria and “cause chaos in the Aegean”.
“Whatever the price, Turkey must never hesitate; it must respond with offensives to new plots to be formed domestically using FETO and the PKK, pressures of the U.S. and Europe and the sabotage run by some Arab countries through Syria,” he added.