Skip to main content

Is Erdogan afraid of poking the IS bear?

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has done little to censor the latest Islamic State video criticizing his government; does this mean that the ruling AKP could stand to benefit from publicizing the threat posed by the group?

On Aug. 17, news broke that the Islamic State (IS) released a video threatening Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In the seven-minute video, three men with rifles sit cross-legged in rocky terrain. Only the one with the graying beard, known by the alias Abu Ammar, speaks in fluent Turkish, with carefully repeated Arabic sayings spread throughout the message.

Unlike other IS videos, this one has an amateur feel. The video focuses on Erdogan exclusively, with photos of the Turkish parliament “as a sign of going against God’s laws” and Erdogan meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House. Abu Ammar charges that Erdogan failed to rule with Sharia (Islamic law) and went along with “Americans, Jews, crusaders, the atheist PKK [Kurdistan Workers Party] as well as the Free Syrian Army and Saudis.” Intriguingly, Abu Ammar labels Free Syrian Army members as friends of the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The video continues to explain how the apostate Erdogan sold Turkey to the PKK and crusaders. By cooperating with the PKK, the Free Syrian Army and the Americans, Abu Ammar argues, Erdogan has paved the way for the massacre of Muslims of Damascus and sold out the holy values of all Muslims. He echoes the Turkish opposition stance that Erdogan continued on the road of servitude to the Americans in order to stay in power.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.