Turkish media liken Obama to New Year’s Reina nightclub gunman
Nearly all over the world, New Year’s is a time for lighthearted celebration, and at Istanbul’s exclusive Reina nightclub the cosmopolitan crowd gathered there appeared to be having a good time indeed. That is until an hour after midnight, when the partying was changed to bloodshed and terror, as a gunman dressed as Santa Claus began opening fire, ultimately killing 39 of the party-goers and wounding 65 others.
The next day ISIL claimed responsibility for the massacre stating: “In continuation of the blessed operations that Islamic State is conducting against the protector of the cross, Turkey, a heroic soldier of the caliphate struck one of the most famous nightclubs where the Christians celebrate their apostate holiday.”1 The gunman himself, who is still on the loose, has been identified by Turkish authorities as Abdulgadir Masharipov, also known as Abu Muhammed Horasan, an ethnic Uyghur either from Uzbekistan or East Turkestan in China (depending on the report).2
Whenever such attacks occur, people are always looking somewhere to place blame. Obviously one could do so squarely on ISIL and Masharipov. One could also potentially find fault in the Turkish security agencies for doing a poor job of preventing such attacks, and more importantly the Turkish government for playing a double game with ISIL. But in Turkey the finger of blame is also being pointed at American President Obama.
Turkish news outlet Yeni Akit, published an image on its twitter account, in which Obama’s face was photoshopped onto that of Masharipov’s, with the statement “Clearest photo of the murderer” (in Turkish “katilin en net goruntusu”).3 It appears that the people at the pro-Erdoğan Yeni Akit are trying to imply that somehow Obama was responsible for the Reina shooting.
Such vilification against Obama should come as no surprise, as many Turks believe that the US is supporting terrorist groups such as FETÖ, ISIL, PKK and PYD against Turkey. A recent nationwide survey conducted in Turkey found that 76% of respondents believed “Another power is behind the terrorist groups,” and when asked “What powers promote terrorism” 80.3% said the US and 45.1% Israel. So it is not a stretch to state that a significant portion of Turks see the US as promoting the terrorism currently afflicting Turkey.4 Even important state officials such as Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and President Erdoğan himself have also accused the US of aiding ISIL.5
Many in the West may dismiss such accusations as crazy. Undoubtedly Erdoğan and company are looking for a scapegoat to blame Turkey’s problems on and an enemy, real or imagined, to rally the Turkish people against (just as Hitler used the Jews). But just as Turkey appears to be playing a double game involving ISIL, the US appears to be behaving likewise as well.
The latter claim is not some wild conspiracy theory, as there is reason to sensibly believe that the US, led by Obama, were at the very least attempting to utilize ISIL against Assad. At the end of September the New York times wrote a story about leaked audio of John Kerry meeting with representatives of various Syrian opposition groups.6 During the meeting, while attempting to explain why the US was not providing more definitive support to the rebels, Kerry said the following (emphasis mine):7
“The reason Russia came in was because ISIL was getting stronger. Daesh was threatening the possibility of going to Damascus at some point, and that’s why Russia came in, because they didn’t wanted Daesh government and they supported Assad. And we know that this was growing and we were watching. We saw that Daesh was growing in strength and we thought Assad was threatened. We thought however we could probably manage that Assad might then negotiate. Instead of negotiating you got Assad, you got Putin to support him.”
Basically Kerry is saying that prior to Russia’s intervention in Syria, the US thought that an advancing ISIL would prompt Assad to negotiate with the US out of desperation. Reading between the lines, since it is the US objective to oust Assad, and since Kerry clearly says that ISIL could help bring Assad to heel, then it stands to reason that the US wanted ISIL, at that time, to be strong enough to threaten Assad and, as such, to enable this stratagem, the US were not attacking ISIL at maximal capacity.
This does not prove that the US and Obama were supporting ISIL (although it doesn’t disprove that either), yet what it does suggest, is that the US was not fighting ISIL as intensely as possible. In other words it was in America’s geopolitical interest to not obstruct ISIL’s rise in Syria, so that the Assad would be sufficiently threatened so as to play ball with the US. However, as Kerry admits, that did not happen, instead Russia intervened, propping up Assad and significantly degrading ISIL.
With John Kerry’s remarks leaked for all to hear,8 Turkish claims that Obama is supporting ISIL, while obviously trumped up to some extant, no longer appear to be so crazy after all.
References and Notes
 http://www.dailysabah.com/investigations/2017/01/07/turkish-police-identify-name-of-nightclub-attacker-reports , http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-police-identify-reina-attacker-as-abdulkadir-masharipov.aspx?pageID=238&nID=108266&NewsCatID=509 , http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/01/08/How-Reina-attacker-duped-police-after-being-briefly-arrested-.html
 https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/01/05/pro-govt-yeni-akit-portrays-obama-photos-istanbul-nightclub-attacker/ , http://www.yeniakit.com.tr/haber/paylasim-rekorlari-kiriyor-katilin-en-net-goruntusu-253664.html
 I would not be shocked if the Obama administration and media will blame the Russians for the leak, in an attempt to hack Obama’s legacy.