Turkey finally lists al-Nusra Front as terrorist group

Turkey finally lists al-Nusra Front as terrorist group
Thu Jun 5, 2014 11:26:47

Turkey listed the al-Nusra Front, a branch of al-Qaeda operating in Syria and Lebanon, as a terrorist organization in a sign that it is growing more concerned about the rise of radical militants across its border.

The Turkish government's decision also includes freezing the assets of individuals and organizations listed by the United Nations Security Council as being affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Turkey has long championed robust support for Syria's fragmented militant groups, but the growing influence of al-Qaeda-affiliated groups in the war-torn country has left it open to accusations that it is backing terrorist groups.

Lale Kemal, a security expert from Ankara, said that Turkey has provided at least tacit support to terrorist groups like al-Nusra by treating their wounded and providing logistic support, as well as by allowing their forces to use Turkish territory to regroup.

But these groups have now started posing threats to Turkey itself and Turkey has already suffered from their activities, she added.

She said the government's decision shows its awareness of al-Nusra's growing presence in its territory and its determination to stem the flow of radical terrorists.

"Turkey has also realized that al-Nusra is posing a threat, or other radical groups are also posing a threat to Turkey's security," said Kemal, adding that Turkey is now concerned with stopping the massive influx of foreign militants via Turkish territory.

Gokhan Bacik, an analyst and associate professor of international relations at Ankara's Ipek University, said the decision is in line with the policies of the United States and other Western countries, which have listed al-Nusra as a terrorist organization.

He added that the move will likely lead to better relations and greater cooperation between Turkey and these countries.

"Jabhat al-Nusra was a terrorist group, no doubt. They were killing people. And [it is a] radical group. What is the explanation? In my understanding, Turkish government is under very big pressure from international community because of authoritarian debate, its foreign policy. So the government is trying to change its image by giving this kind of symbol," said Bacik.

Al-Nusra Front was created in January 2012 during the Syrian crisis. It was designated as a terrorist organization by the United States in December 2012. Several other countries, including Australia and the United Kingdom, as well as the United Nations, also recognize it as a terrorist organization.


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