You read about the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suddenly exploding, antagonizing Russia, even provoking the European Union, and sending more and more occupation troops into neighboring Syria. You could be forgiven for thinking that he has gone insane.
But no, there is actually a steely logic to his actions. For decades, Erdogan has believed that the Turkic minority ethnic group, mainly found in China’s Xinjiang Province, is the proverbial birthplace of the Turkish nation. When he was the mayor of the city of Istanbul, he even erected a small statue of a Uyghur, in the historical Sultan Ahmed neighborhood.
After the war in Syria erupted, or more precisely, after the West began an attempt to overthrow President Assad, Turkey brought militant Uyghurs from China, and began using them inside the Syrian territory. I described this in my lengthy essay “March of the Uyghurs”, published by this magazine (New Eastern Outlook). The longer version of the essay will soon be published as a book.
Turkey dragged Uyghur jihadi cadres and their families through Indonesia and other countries, supplying them with Turkish passports, for the length of the journey. It trained them in so-called refugee camps, mainly in the Hatay area (historically Syrian territory, arguably grabbed by Turkey after WWI)), eventually injecting them into Idlib (a Syrian province). There, often under the influence of combat drugs, Uyghur combatants committed crimes against humanity, murdering hundreds of men, women and children, while de-populating entire villages and towns. They have been cooperating with various terrorist groups, mainly from the Arab countries, which are still holding the area.
I interviewed several Syrian families who had fled in horror from the slaughter. I also interviewed Syrian commanders on the borders of the areas held by the terrorists, in 2019. Both the civilians and armed forces testified that they had never encountered such brutality in their entire lives.
Turkey, a NATO member, was basically doing a favor for its Western allies. The Uyghurs were injected into the Syrian jihadi battlefields, in order to get hardened even further, and eventually to return to China, disrupting peace as well as the vital “Belt and Road Initiative” – the great internationalist project of President Xi Jinping.