(JTA) — German government officials accused Turkey’s regime of financing terrorist groups in the Middle East, including Hamas.
The report Tuesday by the German radio station ARD cited a classified document sent from the Germany’s Interior Ministry to the Left Party saying that members of the government consider the Turkish regime under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a supporter of militant groups in the Middle East.
Erdogan supported Hamas, the German officials said in the document, which Erdogan in the past has said he does not regard as a terrorist group despite its classification as such by the United States and the European Union, as well as Egypt.
His backing for Hamas is well known. In 2013 Erdogan had planned, with Egyptian mediation, to visit the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in what would have been a major diplomatic success for the besieged Islamist group before a fallout between Turkey and the Egyptian government prevented the visit.
The German report’s release is nonetheless significant because it comes at a sensitive time in Turkey’s relationship with Germany and the European Union. Many in Europe believe that Erdogan is blackmailing the bloc for trade and visa concessions in exchange for blocking Turkey’s borders to Europe-bound migrants from the war-torn Middle East. Turkey is bound by international treaties to prevent such movement, but hundreds of thousands of migrants have passed through Turkey since 2014.
Erdogan, for his part, has accused Western nations, including EU countries, of helping to plan the failed coup attempt in Turkey last month.
The leaked document also speaks of Turkey’s support for militants fighting the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria, which Turkish journalists have reported in the past.
“Especially since the year 2011 as a result of its incrementally Islamized internal and foreign policy, Turkey has become a central platform for action for Islamist groups in the Middle East,” the German officials said, according to ARD.
German security officials also said Erdogan had an “ideological affinity” with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, ARD reported. Suppressed under Hosni Mubarak’s rule, the movement went on to produce Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi.
Despite the “affinity,” Erdogan has been publicly at odds with the Muslim Brotherhood in the past, though he has since also criticized current Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who overthrew Morsi in a 2013 coup.