Source Gatestone Institute

NEW YORK, US: Since 2002, Turkey has been ruled by the Islamist government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a vocal supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), a movement that seeks to establish a worldwide Islamic caliphate based on Islamic sharia law.
For 22 years, Erdogan's policies have not only impoverished Turkey's people by ruining the country's economy, but also have brought wars, violence, and bloodshed to the wider region.
Most recently, on April 20, as a sign of his utmost support for Hamas terror group, Erdogan received Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas Political Bureau, at the Dolmabahçe Presidential Palace in Istanbul.
The first signs of a possible nationwide defeat of Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) became visible, however, on March 31.
The AKP received its biggest electoral blow in nationwide municipal and local elections that reasserted the opposition as a political force and reinforced Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) as the president's chief rival. Erdogan's AKP lost in every major city across Turkey.
The main reason seems to be the decline of the economy. As the Turkish lira continues to plummet, and crushing unemployment and inflation skyrocket, more people are struggling to cope with an immense decrease in purchasing power.
"Turkey's economy is in tatters," reported Euronews in 2022.
"Runaway inflation and a collapsing lira have pushed millions of Turks to the brink of financial ruin and slammed factories, farmers and retailers across the country.
"More than two-thirds of people in Turkey are struggling to pay for food and cover their rent, according to a survey by Yöneylem Social Research Centre, fuelling a surge in mental illness and debt."
Nearly two years after that assessment, the economic situation today is even worse. Inflation, in 2024, has soared to almost 70%, according to official data.
Turkey's central bank, citing the continuing need to counter inflation, raised its key interest rate to 50%. The Turkish lira has weakened even further, to a new record of 30 liras to the US dollar, with forecasts that it will reach 40 liras to the dollar by the end of this year.
Turks earning the minimum wage cannot afford their rents, and have difficulty paying utility bills. Many people cannot even afford to buy food, while Erdogan's government has chosen to spend its resources on aggressive wars and cooperation with terrorist groups and regimes in the region such as Hamas, Islamic State (ISIS), the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups in Syria, and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Below is a brief list of the terror groups and regimes that Erdogan's government enabled in pursuit of pro-jihad ideological and territorial gains.
Islamic Republic of Iran
As the Counter Extremism Project notes:
"The Islamic Republic of Iran has aggressively sought to remake the Middle East under its dominion, mainly by anchoring loyal 'proxies' in the region.
"Some of Iran's proxies in the Middle East include Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, Hamas in Gaza, the Houthis in Yemen, and others. Where its proxies have not been able to take root, Iran has engaged in subversive activities via the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to undermine its rivals and enhance its influence. Iran's quest for regional dominance has created tremendous instability in the region and inflamed wars that have left thousands dead."
Between 2012 and 2015, however, Iran relied on Ankara as well as Turkish banks and gold-traders to circumvent US sanctions. Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), detailing the Iran-Turkey cooperation, called it "The Biggest Sanctions-Evasion Scheme in Recent History":
"A dual Iranian-Turkish national, [Reza] Zarrab was the swashbuckling gold trader who had helped Iran evade sanctions with the help of Turkish banks in 2013 and 2014, yielding Iran an estimated $13 billion at the height of the efforts to thwart Tehran's nuclear ambitions. A leaked report by prosecutors in Istanbul in March 2014 suggested that Zarrab spearheaded a second sanctions-busting scheme involving fake invoices for billions more in fictitious humanitarian shipments to Iran that were processed through Turkish banks."
Turkey remains a major enabler of Iran's Islamist regime. The US government has recently added various people and companies from Turkey to the US sanctions list for aiding Iran's nuclear and military programs.
On March 20, 2024, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) targeted three procurement networks – based in Iran, Turkey, Oman and Germany – that have supported Iran's ballistic missile, nuclear, and defense programs:
"These networks have procured carbon fiber, epoxy resins, and other missile-applicable goods for Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force Self Sufficiency Jihad Organization (IRGC ASF SSJO), Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL), other U.S.-designated entities in Iran's defense industrial base, and Iran Centrifuge Technology Company (TESA), which is linked to the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).
"Through complex covert procurement networks, Iran seeks to supply rogue actors around the world with weapons systems that fuel conflict and risk countless civilian lives," said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. "The United States will continue to use our tools to disrupt these networks and hold accountable those countries that would help proliferate Iran's drones and missiles."
Meanwhile, Turkey is coordinating its response to the Hamas-Israel war with Hamas's primary patron, Iran, the FDD reported. Since Hamas' October 7 massacre of 1,200 Israelis, Turkish officials, including Erdogan and Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, have openly met with their Iranian counterparts to coordinate an anti-Israel response. A meeting on November 1 resulted in both officials advocating for "peace" while threatening Israel with a broader regional war.
Muslim Brotherhood
Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party also openly supports the Muslim Brotherhood, whose motto is:
"Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Quran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope."
According to the Counter Extremism Project:
"Despite banning and censoring thousands of oppositionist news outlets since taking the presidency in 2014, Erdoğan allows a handful of pro-Brotherhood stations to operate within the country. Stations such as Rabia TV, al-Sharq, and al-Watan (formerly Misr Alaan)—run by exiled Egyptian Brotherhood members such as former Secretary General Mahmoud Hussein and Brotherhood politician Basim al-Khafagy—often broadcast pro-Islamist messaging including glorified accounts of Brotherhood clashes with the Egyptian government and threats directed at Western-owned companies in Egypt to leave the country.
"Analysts have also suggested that Turkey has supplied weapons and activists to the Muslim Brotherhood for its activities in Egypt. Turkish intelligence officer Irshad Hoz, for example, was arrested by authorities in Egypt in connection to the Brotherhood. Egypt has also accused the Turkish government of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood. In November 2017, Egyptian authorities detained 29 individuals on suspicion of espionage for Turkey. Egypt's General Intelligence Services (GIS) alleged that they had been passing information to Turkish intelligence services as part of a plot to bring the Muslim Brotherhood back to power in Egypt."
In early 2019, Turkey allegedly deported some members of the Muslim Brotherhood. In an interview with BBC in 2022, however, Ali Hamed, press spokesman of the Muslim Brotherhood in Turkey, denied allegations about the detentions of the MB members in Turkey and the closures of MB-affiliated TV channels:
"No Egyptian channels have been closed in Turkey. All of the Egyptian TV channels in Turkey that have a stance against the [Egyptian] coup are still active and not even one of them has been closed."
When BBC asked Hamed if the MB had received any official or unofficial request from Turkish authorities to stop or reduce their work in Turkey, Hamed replied:
"No such thing has happened. They have not made such a request to us, and our work is still continuing."
The AKP government, however, is trying to falsely portray the MB as a "pro-democracy movement." After US President Donald Trump announced in 2019 that he was considering declaring the international Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, a spokesman for Erdogan's Justice and Development Party responded, questionably, that such a move "would hurt democratization and human rights across the Middle East while helping ISIS."
This was an extremely misleading statement by the AKP spokesperson: for years, Turkey operated as a transit hub for jihadists heading to Syria and Iraq, beginning from 2011 and the emergence in the region of ISIS.
The Islamic State (ISIS)
In a 2015 report, "A Path to ISIS, Through a Porous Turkish Border," the New York Times detailed the process for ISIS members to enter Syria to engage in jihad and other crimes against humanity. The government of Turkey was also financially involved in ISIS activities. In 2014, for instance, BuzzFeed News reported how ISIS smuggled Syrian oil into Turkey.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar, an expert on the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups, in 2020, described Turkey's relationship with ISIS:
"2014 marked the year when ISIS became a very real threat to the Middle East. Within one year, the group managed to take over a third of Iraq and half of Syria, with 200,000 fighters under its control. ISIS quickly became successful at producing oil and selling it as an important source of income. It also managed to ensure a constant supply of weapons, ammunition, vehicles, and advanced communication devices.
"The ability of ISIS to become a functioning state so quickly is largely due to its relationship with President Erdoğan in Turkey.
"ISIS has had strong connections to Turkey over the years, whether through its oil industry or through its willingness to shield wanted members of the Muslim Brotherhood. This "neighborly" relationship was essential to ISIS's success, and it continues to be reflected in Turkish decisionmaking....
"Not only did President Erdoğan never launch any counterterror operations to disrupt ISIS's networks or recruitment activities, but he provided it with assistance."
Kedar continued that Turkish contributions to the flourishing of ISIS were most apparent in areas such as providing money (through the oil business), allowing volunteers to use Turkish territory to go to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS, illegally dispatching arms to jihadists, and allowing ISIS forces to launch attacks on their opponents from Turkish territory.
Al-Qaeda-Affiliated Groups in Syria
The Turkish Armed Forces and al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists have occupied areas of northern Syria since 2016. These jihadists originated from Jabhat al-Nusra and appear inspired by Al-Qaeda's doctrine of global jihad.
One group is the al-Qaeda affiliated Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS or the "Organization for the Liberation of the Levant") that is occupying the Syrian city of Idlib. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies:
"In May 2018, the group [HTS] was added to the State Department's existing designation of its predecessor, the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Today, HTS can be thought of as a relatively localized Syrian terrorist organization, which retains a Salafi-jihadist ideology despite its public split from al-Qaeda in 2017."
A 2021 study by the Middle East Institute details how Turkey and HTS are both occupying and exploiting parts of northwest Syria:
"The most significant shift in HTS economic policy occurred in July 2017, when the group took over the Bab al-Hawa crossing, one of the biggest sources of revenue in NW [north-west] Syria and a particularly strategic acquisition in terms of the relationship with Turkey."
In January 2018, the Watad Petroleum Company was formed in HTS-occupied northwest Syria and granted exclusive rights to import oil derivatives and gas from Turkey into the area. In June 2020, HTS began replacing the Syrian pound with the Turkish lira, indexing the prices of goods to the lira. The Turkish government, through its massive economic support to the group, thereby became a lifeline for the jihadist HTS.
Another Syrian city the Turkish military is occupying together with jihadist forces is Afrin.
In January 2024, the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Syrians for Truth and justice announced they filed a criminal complaint concerning the human rights violations that Islamist armed militias have been committing in Afrin:
"In January 2018, the Turkish army and allied armed militias invaded the northern Syrian region of Afrin. The so-called military operation "Olive Branch" lasted for over two months, beginning with intensive aerial bombardment followed by a ground invasion. As Turkish forces and Turkish-backed Syrian armed groups seized control of the region, the predominantly Kurdish population was driven from their homes and stripped of their livelihoods.
"What began back then still continues to this day. Officially, Afrin is administered by Syrian local councils, but de facto the region has been under Turkish control since March 2018. Turkish-backed armed groups operating under the umbrella of the Syrian National Army (SNA), which had already committed crimes in many places, have imposed arbitrary rule in Afrin. With Türkiye's knowledge, they systematically commit atrocities, including arbitrary arrests of civilians, sexual violence, torture, as well as systematic looting and killings.
"These human rights violations committed by Turkish-backed and Islamist militias constitute crimes under international law and can be investigated anywhere in the world. Together with six survivors of the crimes, ECCHR, Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ) and their partners filed a criminal complaint with the German Federal Public Prosecutor's Office in January 2024, calling for a comprehensive investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity"
The terrorist organization Hamas receives significant funding, matériel and political support from Turkey. After Hamas's October 7 massacre against 1,200 Israelis, instead of condemning and expelling Hamas from Turkey, Erdogan called the terror group "a liberation movement". His public endorsement of Hamas and hostility to Israel killed Turkey-Israel diplomatic relations.
The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies summarizes how the Turkish government provides Hamas with financial, military, intelligence and diplomatic support:
"Hamas established a presence in Turkey in 2011 at the direct invitation of the Turkish government... Since then, Turkey has provided a safe haven for senior Hamas leadership. Saleh al-Arouri, currently Hamas's deputy political chief, temporarily relocated from Damascus to Turkey following the outbreak of the Syrian civil war to establish a Hamas branch there. The U.S. Treasury sanctioned al-Arouri in 2015.
"Hamas maintains offices in Turkey, although these locations are not publicly known. In 2015, Jihad Yaghmour, a Hamas operative who played a role in the abduction of IDF soldier Nahshon Waxman, became Hamas's representative to the Turkish government. According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Yaghmour "liaises between Hamas and the Turkish government and the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT).
"Erdogan openly takes meetings with senior Hamas leadership, most recently in July 2023, when he hosted Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh. Ankara granted Haniyeh Turkish citizenship in 2020. His deputy, Saleh al-Arouri, also received a Turkish passport.
"In 2012, the Turkish government reportedly donated $300 million to Hamas as the group set up shop in Turkey. A Turkish nongovernmental organization with ties to the government, the Foundation for Human Rights (IHH) [which also organized the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla], has transferred cash payments to its branch in the Gaza Strip since 2010. Hamas uses these payments to fund terrorism. Jihad Yaghmour leads another Turkish NGO that raises money for Hamas. In 2020, a U.S. District Court identified Yaghmour as a financier of a 2015 Hamas terrorist attack that killed two Israelis in the West Bank. The court explicitly ruled that the Turkish bank Kuveyt Turk Bank 'helped finance the Hamas.'
"In 2018, Israel arrested and deported Kamil Takli, a Turkish law professor and Hamas financier. Takli admitted during an interrogation with Israeli officials that Hamas operates in Turkey and receives military support from Ankara. Turkey-Hamas collaboration is facilitated by SADAT, a private military contractor in Turkey led by an Islamist general with close ties to Erdogan. Israeli security officials believe that SADAT is responsible for supplying Hamas with weapons and materiel. In July 2023, Israeli authorities seized 16 tons of explosive material that originated in Turkey and were bound for Gaza, apparently intended for Hamas rockets."
Erdogan, a Muslim Brotherhood supporter, also supports Hamas, which is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2017, Erdogan directly quoted a hadith (a reported saying by Islam's prophet, Mohammed) about Judgement Day, used in Hamas's charter, that calls for the destruction of Jews:
"Abu Huraira reported Allaah's Messenger (sall Allaahua layhiwa sallam) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allaah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews."
Meanwhile, according to a 2023 report, a staggering 98% of the population in Turkey is struggling to meet their basic needs, with 83.75 million people unable to achieve the minimum income required for a decent standard of living.
Erdogan's government nevertheless flows its resources to almost every terrorist group in the region to pursue Muslim Brotherhood-style Islamist ideological and territorial goals, impose sharia law, to harm or destroy "infidel" nations, and to establish its Islamist dominance throughout the world.
Any future financial cooperation between the West and Turkey should depend on the Turkish government's human rights record towards the Turkish people and requiring that Turkey end its relationships with all these terrorist groups and regimes that have cost the lives of thousands of innocent people in the region.