ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi predicted “inevitable” war between Turkey and Kurds in a recording published by the group’s al-Furqan media Thursday evening.
The recording has not been independently verified but initial reaction is that it is a genuine recording of the reclusive ISIS leader. The date of the recording is also not clear, but Baghdadi makes reference to several recent events including Kurdistan’s independence referendum and rising tensions between North Korea and the US.
Baghdadi said that Turkey has a lot to fear at the moment, with respect to Kurdistan’s bid for independence, pushing it close to war in order to prevent its own Kurdish population from achieving independence too.
Turkey has, however, stopped short of military intervention for now because it fears its “masters – the United States and Europe,” he said.
He said war between Kurds and Turkey is nonetheless “inevitable.”
Though ISIS is facing defeat on the battlefield, Baghdadi argued that the US-led Global Coalition is cracking as disagreements have surfaced between members.
The Coalition has called on all of its members, including Iraqi and Kurdish forces, to remain focused on the war with ISIS.
Baghdadi said the Coalition “cannot postpone everything,” including their disagreements.
Regarding the United States, he said Americans have lost their traditional role as a superpower and now Russia is taking its place.
Hailing his dying so-called caliphate, Baghdadi claimed it grew into a large force in the last few years to become a power “that was felt by everyone, Muslims and unbelievers” around the world as it “removed the borders.”
The last recording from Baghdadi came in November 2016, when Iraqi and Kurdish forces were closing in on Mosul, ISIS’ then stronghold in Iraq. ISIS now holds control of just pockets of territory in Iraq and is being squeezed out of its bases in Syria.
There have been several reports of Baghdadi’s death. In June, Russian officials said there was a “high probability” he was killed in a Russian airstrike near Raqqa. US officials have stated they believe Baghdadi is still alive.
He has only appeared in public once, when he proclaimed his “caliphate” in Mosul in June 2014.