In Reversal, Turkey to Open Passage to Kobani for Kurdish Fighters

Turkish Kurds watch airstrikes Saturday on the Syrian town of Kobani from neighboring Suruc, Turkey, near the Syrian border. KAI PFAFFENBACH/REUTERS

Turkish Kurds watch airstrikes Saturday on the Syrian town of Kobani from neighboring Suruc, Turkey, near the Syrian border. KAI PFAFFENBACH/REUTERS

By JOE PARKINSON in Istanbul, SAM DAGHER in Dohuk, Iraq and RORY JONES in Beirut:

Turkey said Monday it would allow Iraqi Kurdish fighters to cross its territory to reinforce the embattled Syrian city of Kobani, reversing its long-standing opposition to such aid hours after U.S. airdrops of weapons and ammunition to the city’s Syrian Kurdish defenders.

Speaking in a news conference in the Turkish capital Ankara, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu didn’t offer details how Turkish authorities would enable the transfer Kurdish Peshmerga fighters across Turkey or whether Syrian Kurdish authorities would accept additional forces.

“We are aiding the transfer of Peshmerga forces to Kobani for support. Consultations on this matter are ongoing,” Mr. Cavusoglu said.

The announcement that Iraqi Kurdish fighters would be allowed by Ankara to transit through Turkish territory to Syria followed by hours the start of U.S. airdrops of weapons and supplies to Kobani’s defenders, despite public opposition from Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Mr. Erdogan said Saturday he wouldn’t allow U.S. arms transfers to Kurdish fighters through Turkey and equated the Syrian Kurdish fighters with Islamic State.

Turkey’s government is wary of the Syrian Kurdish militia, which is loyal to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which Ankara has fought in a low-intensity war for three decades.

In a telephone conversation Saturday, President Barack Obamainformed Mr. Erdogan about the airdrops to Kobani, which demonstrated that Turkish objections wouldn’t stop Washington providing weapons to the Syrian Kurds and protecting the credibility of campaign it is leading against Islamic State.

Three U.S. C-130 cargo planes dropped 27 bundles of weapons, ammunition and medical supplies in the northwest of the city, U.S. officials said.

The aid traveled first to Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government, which controls the Peshmerga force and is headed by Massoud Barzani, Kurdish leaders said. From there, it was transported to Kobani.

Leaders of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party, or PYD, the Syrian Kurdish political group whose fighters are leading the battle against Islamic State in Kobani, praised the U.S. move.

“This is a turning point that will set the foundation for better ties in the future,” Aldar Khalil, senior leader in the Social Democratic Movement, an umbrella group for Syrian Kurdish parties that includes the PYD and is tied to the PKK.

“This is a huge deal,” Mr. Khalil said.

There were no signs early Monday that the fresh aid had affected fighting between Kurdish and Islamic State forces, Ferhad Shami, a freelance Kurdish journalist accompanying a Kurdish militia unit inside Kobani, said by telephone.

The militant group was using more sophisticated weaponry, such as tanks, field artillery and Humvees, than the Syrian Kurdish forces, Mr. Shami said.

Read more at WSJ

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Turkish President Declares Lawrence of Arabia a Bigger Enemy than ISIS

1413221153467.cachedBy Jamie Dettmer:

In a stunning speech, Erdogan railed against Western “spies” and journalists and seemed to endorse the ISIS plan to redraw the region’s borders.
GAZIANTEP, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took on the iconic Lawrence of Arabia Monday in a furious anti-Western diatribe.  The Turkish president compared the outside meddling in the region now to the role the renowned British army officer played during the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans during World War I. And Western diplomats here say the tirade bears a rather striking resemblance to some of the propaganda that has come out of the so-called Islamic State, widely known by the acronym ISIS or ISIL.

Last week, stung by Western criticism of Turkey’s conspicuous absence from the U.S.-led air combat against the terror organization, and the refusal of the Turkish government to rescue the besieged town of Kobani, just across the Syrian border, Erdoğan insisted he had no sympathy for the jihadists.

But on one very important point of history and geography it now appears there’s a serious convergence of views between ISIS and Erdoğan. In his speech Monday at a university in Istanbul, the Turkish president blasted the Sykes-Picot Agreement, a secret understanding (signed behind Lawrence’s back) that divided up the Middle East after World War I between British and French spheres of influence. That deal opened the way for a British vow to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine and led to borders drawn by the European powers that created modern Syrian and Iraq. Historian David Fromkin summed up the mess that resulted in the title of his book The Peace to End All Peace.

“Each conflict in this region has been designed a century ago,” said Erdoğan. “It is our duty to stop this.”

In point of fact, T. E. Lawrence was opposed to the secret Anglo-French agreement, because it reneged on promises given the Arabs by London in a bid to persuade them to revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule. He tried mightily to sabotage the deal. But Erdoğan is either unaware of that or sought to simplify history.

ISIS, meanwhile, has done some simplifying of its own, and on similar lines. Its militants say explicitly they are out to erase the borders that Sykes-Picot established across most of the modern Middle East. In the summer, after sweeping in from Syria to seize Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, they produced a video called, yes,  ”The End of Sykes Pico,” in which they blew up a border outpost and leveled part of the earthen barrier on the Iraqi-Syrian border. They declared triumphantly they would bulldoze other Western-imposed borders as well.

The Erdoğan speech was suffused with an angry anti-Western narrative—he also tilted at Western journalists, accusing them of being spies—and will no doubt thrill some of Erdoğan’s supporters. In southern Turkey, some local officials in his Justice and Development Party (AKP) express sympathy for ISIS. But it will ring alarm bells in Western capitals at a time coalition officials are redoubling their efforts to try to persuade a reluctant Turkish government to play a forward-leaning part in the American-led war on the jihadists.

Turkey is considered crucial if President Barack Obama’s war aim to “degrade and defeat” ISIS is to be accomplished. The country has been the main logistical base for the Islamic militants, the main transit country for foreign fighters to enter neighboring Syria and a key source of it’s revenue from the smuggling of oil tapped in captured oil fields. In his determination to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad, Erdoğan has been accused of at best turning a blind eye to the rise of ISIS and at worst actively encouraging it.

Read more at The Daily Beast

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Turkey agrees to let U.S. planes use its bases for attacks on Syria

Turkish armored vehicles patrol the border on Oct. 12 near the Syrian town of Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab. (Aris Messinis / AFP/Getty Images)

Turkish armored vehicles patrol the border on Oct. 12 near the Syrian town of Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab. (Aris Messinis / AFP/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Times, By W.J. Hennigan:

Turkey has agreed to allow U.S. warplanes to use its air bases for bombing missions in Syria, as well as provide rebels there with light arms and train them with infantry tactics for the ongoing battle against Islamic State militants, the Pentagon said Sunday.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke Sunday with Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz and thanked him for aiding in the fight against the Sunni extremists, who have seized vast swathes of land in Iraq and Syria.

“Both leaders have stressed the need to continue taking a comprehensive strategic approach to the threat posed by ISIL and other extremist groups,” said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby, using an acronym for the Islamic State.

Hagel was en route to the Conference of the Defense Ministers of the Americas in Arequipa, Peru, which brings together 34 defense ministers. The event Monday is the culmination of a six-day trip including talks with top leaders in Colombia, Chile and Peru.

The developments with the Turkish government come after John R. Allen, a retired Marine Corps general and the special envoy coordinating the U.S.-led international effort against Islamic State, arrived in Ankara, the Turkish capital, last week to persuade the government to take a more active role against the Islamic State.

The Pentagon does not have an effective partner on the ground in Syria and is not in close communication with any militia group. Officials hope to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels as a proxy force against Islamic State.

The U.S. military and its coalition of European and Arab allies have waged war against the extremist fighters through aerial bombardments. In recent weeks, the U.S. has seen limited effectiveness from the targeted airstrikes, particularly at the Syrian border town of Kobani.

The U.S. military has carried out an aerial assault for a week, yet Islamic State militants are still threatening to take control of the town.

Turkey’s willingness to host warplanes and train and equip Syrian fighters strengthens the alliance between the U.S. and Turkey. It also brings U.S. military jets closer to the fight in Syria, which shares a 500-mile border with Turkey.

One of the bases includes Incirlik in southern Turkey, which is within 100 miles of the Syrian border, according to U.S. defense officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private talks between the two governments.

Turkish officials have been asking the U.S. to provide a buffer zone along the border to stem the flow of refugees and stop the spillover of violence. The country also wants the U.S. to establish a “no-fly” zone, in which fighter jets would regularly patrol the border and shoot down any Syrian military aircraft that breach it.

The U.S. government has repeatedly said it isn’t considering either proposition.

”We don’t see it at this point as essential to the goal of degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL,” National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But we’ll continue to talk to the Turks and entertain any specific proposals that they may have.”

Military officials from U.S. European Command and U.S. Central Command will arrive in Turkey this week to discuss other opportunities for collaboration.

TURKEY ACCUSED OF TRAINING ISIS SOLDIERS

isis_troopsWND, By Aaron Klein, Oct. 10, 2014:

TEL AVIV – The Kingdom of Jordan says it caught more than a dozen members of ISIS who disclosed during interrogations that they received training from NATO member Turkey.

A senior Jordanian security official who spoke on condition of anonymity told WND that 16 ISIS members were nabbed in recent days attempting to infiltrate Jordan from the Syrian border.

The official said the ISIS jihadists had planned to carry out attacks against the moderate Jordanian regime, sparking fears the ISIS insurgency will spread beyond Iraq and Syria to Jordan, a key U.S. and Israeli ally.

The official said the ISIS jihadists admitted upon interrogation to being trained in Turkey.

While such confessions, which could have been extracted under duress, cannot necessarily be relied upon, it is the latest allegation of Turkish support for ISIS.

WND reported Thursday that Turkey is providing direct intelligence and logistical support to the ISIS terrorist organization, according to a senior Egyptian security official.

The official told WND that Egypt has information Turkish intelligence is passing to ISIS satellite imagery and other data, with particular emphasis on exposing to ISIS jihadists the positions of Kurdish fighters and the storage locations of their weapons and munitions.

The official confirmed reports that Turkey released ISIS terrorists from jail in a sweeping deal with the jihadist organization that saw the release of 49 hostages from the Turkish embassy in Mosul who were being held by ISIS.

While some news media reports say Turkey may have released at least 180 ISIS terrorists in the deal, including two British jihadists, the Egyptian official said the number of ISIS terrorists released by Turkey was closer to 700.

Tensions between the Turkish government and its Kurdish population have been high as Kurds have sought autonomy for three decades and have faced mass ISIS attacks.

Kurdish forces have been leading a military campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

On Tuesday, Kurdish protesters demanding help in the fight against ISIS clashed with police in Turkey, leaving at least 14 people dead and scores injured, according to reports.

The Egyptian information about Turkey’s alleged role in providing support to ISIS bolsters accusations against Turkey and Arab allies made last week by Vice President Joseph Biden.

Biden last weekend apologized to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for “any implication” that Turkey or Arab allies had intentionally supplied weapons to ISIS or helped in the growth other Islamic jihadist groups in Syria, according to the White House.

One week ago, Biden told an audience at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government that ISIS had been inadvertently strengthened by actions taken by Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Arab allies who were supporting the insurgency against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Biden further implied Turkey, the UAE and other Arab countries were supplying weapons to al-Qaida and its offshoots in Syria, including the al-Nusra front.

“They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad,” Biden told students. “Except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al-Qaida and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.

“We could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them,” Biden said.

Regarding Turkey’s alleged role, Biden said, “President Erdogan told me, he’s an old friend, said, ‘You were right. We let too many people (including foreign fighters) through.’ Now they are trying to seal their border.”

Erdogan told reporters he vehemently denied making such a statement.

Also see:

TURKEY ‘PROVIDING DIRECT SUPPORT’ TO ISIS

kurdish-fighterWND, By Aaron Klein:

TEL AVIV – NATO member Turkey is providing direct intelligence and logistical support to the ISIS terrorist organization, according to a senior Egyptian security official speaking to WND.

The official said Egypt has information Turkish intelligence is passing to ISIS satellite imagery and other data, with particular emphasis on exposing to ISIS jihadists the positions of Kurdish fighters and the storage locations of their weapons and munitions.

The official confirmed reports that Turkey released ISIS terrorists from jail in a sweeping deal with the jihadist organization that saw the release of 49 hostages from the Turkish embassy in Mosul who were being held by ISIS.

While some news media reports say Turkey may have released at least 180 ISIS terrorists in the deal, including two British jihadists, the Egyptian official said the number of ISIS terrorists released by Turkey was closer to 700.

Tensions between the Turkish government and its Kurdish population have been high as Kurds have sought autonomy for three decades and have faced mass ISIS attacks.

Kurdish forces have been leading a military campaign targeting ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

On Tuesday, Kurdish protesters demanding help in the fight against ISIS clashed with police in Turkey, leaving at least 14 people dead and scores injured, according to reports.

The Egyptian information about Turkey’s alleged role in providing support to ISIS seems to bolster accusations against Turkey and Arab allies made last week by Vice President Joseph Biden.

It was reported Biden last weekend apologized to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for “any implication” that Turkey or Arab allies had intentionally supplied weapons to ISIS or helped in the growth other Islamic jihadist groups in Syria, according to the White House.

One week ago, Biden told an audience at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government that ISIS had been inadvertently strengthened by actions taken by Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Arab allies who were supporting the insurgency against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Biden further implied Turkey, the UAE and other Arab countries were supplying weapons to al-Qaida and its offshoots in Syria, including the al-Nusra front.

“They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad,” Biden told students. “Except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al-Qaida and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.

“We could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them,” Biden said.

Regarding Turkey’s alleged role, Biden said, “President Erdogan told me, he’s an old friend, said, ‘You were right. We let too many people (including foreign fighters) through.’ Now they are trying to seal their border.”

Erdogan told reporters he vehemently denied making such a statement.

Also see:

Kobanî

kurdfemalefighters-190x150CSP, by Kyle Shideler:

The world watches, breathless, the human drama playing out in the  town of Kobani, as the jihadis of the Islamic State continue to tighten, anaconda-like, around the Kurdish redoubt. But the response from this administration to losing what may be the only reliable set of allies in the morass that is Iraq and Syria, is more Alfred P. Newman than Winston S. Churchill.  As CNN reports:

U.S. airstrikes “are not going to save” the key Syrian city of Kobani from being overtaken by ISIS, said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby. “I think we all should be steeling ourselves for that eventuality,” he told reporters in a daily briefing Wednesday. “We are doing everything we can to halt” ISIS’ progress against the town, but airstrikes alone cannot stop the Islamist militants, Kirby added. “We’ve been very honest about the limits of air power here. The ground forces that matter the most are indigenous ground forces, and we don’t have a willing, capable, effective partner on the ground inside Syria right now — it’s just a fact,” he said. The greater U.S. strategy, Kirby said, is to degrade ISIS’ ability to sustain itself.

Several senior U.S. administration officials said Kobani will soon fall to ISIS, which calls itself the Islamic State. They downplayed the importance of it, saying the city is not a major U.S. concern.

In other words, we can’t do more than we are currently doing because we lack an effective partner on the ground, which is our excuse for allowing ISIS to exterminate the only reasonable partner on the ground.

As CSP Fellow Robert Zubrin noted last week, this is a strategy of nearly unimaginable cynicism:

If we are to win the war against the Islamic State, we need ground forces, and the Obama administration has rejected the idea of sending in any of our own. The Kurds, who have demonstrated both their bravery and their willingness to be friends with America, are right there, and already engaged in the fight. If supplied with adequate arms and backed by serious U.S. tactical air support, they could roll up ISIS as rapidly as the similarly reinforced Northern Alliance did the Taliban in the fall of 2001. Done right, this war could be won in months, instead of waged inconclusively for years.

The administration, however, has rejected this alternative, and has instead opted for a Saudi-Qatari plan to allow the Syrian Kurds to be exterminated while training a new Sunni Arab army in Saudi Arabia. Given the Saudi role in the new army’s tutelage and officer selection, the Islamist nature of this force is a foregone conclusion.

Meanwhile our “allies” in Turkey have massed troops on their side of the border, not to relieve the siege, but to prevent a flood of Kurdish refugees seeking to escape the inevitable massacre that will follow ISIS victory. Turkish crackdowns on Kurdish protestors urging more action to save their brethren resulted in violence killing  almost two dozen. In the German city of Hamburg, Kurds and Salafi Muslims, some armed with iron bars, clubs and knives clashed, with fifteen injured. Kurdish protestors rallied in Belgium and Holland as well.

What is occurring in Kobani, will not remain in Kobani. The forces at work have global ambitions, and the message sent by our failure will resonate with would be allies and Pro-American forces across the globe.  Referring to the protests, Bloomberg’s editors noted yesterday that, “Turkey will pay for abandoning the Kurds.”

No, we will all pay.

Turkey’s Knee-Deep Involvement With Islamist Terrorists

Islamic State fighters at a training camp

Islamic State fighters at a training camp

BY RYAN MAURO:

The Turkish parliament is considering authorizing military action against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. will welcome such a development, but it must not forget Turkey’s previous support of Al Qaeda in Syria, deal-making with the Islamic State (ISIS), hosting of Hamas terrorists and embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood.

A Turkish group closely linked to Turkish President Recep Erdogan even signed up human shields for Hamas. Intelligence leaks reveal that top Turkish officials are secretly collaborating with Iran-linked terrorists, a development in line with Turkey’s drift towards Iran in spite of their historic rivalry and backing of opposite sides in Syria.

Erdogan’s time as leader of Turkey has resulted in sharply increased anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism and overall hostility to the West. A Pew poll of 11 Muslim countries found that Turkey is the only one where support for suicide bombing is increasing, more than doubling from 7% in 2011 to 16% now.

Nor should the U.S. forget the Turkish government’s increasingly autocratic governance, anti-Western incitement and crackdown on social media. Turkey is also rated as the number one jailer of journalists, even beating out China and North Korea for the title.

This anti-Western activity has only increased in recent months.

Turkey and Qatar, another supposed “ally” supporting the Islamist cause and financing Islamic terrorists, agreed to form a “supreme strategic cooperation council.” Turkey is expected to provide support for Qatari military and security forces. Qatar hosts over 200 members of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Former U.S. ambassador to Turkey confirmed that Turkey has supported Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s wing in Syria and Ahrar al-Sham, another Al-Qaeda linked group in Syria and ignored U.S. protests about this support. The free flow of personnel and weapons from Turkey to Syrian jihadists contributed to the rise of the Islamic State.

Read more at Clarion Project

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The Turks to ISIS: “Let’s Make a Deal”

Zoubeir Souissi / Reuters

Zoubeir Souissi / Reuters

Ankara is dealing “diplomatically” with the so-called Islamic State, and may be helping it attack Kurds in Syria, even as Washington tries to “degrade and destroy it.”
By Thomas Seibert:
ISTANBUL, Turkey – As tens of thousands of refugees flee the latest ISIS advances, Kurdish politicians in Turkey are accusing Ankara of helping the so-calledIslamic State in its latest blitzkrieg through neighboring Syria.The accusations echo concerns both inside and outside Turkey that the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tolerated extremist groups in Syria in the hope that their fighters would speed up the downfall of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad. But at the same time in a region of confused alliances where it’s increasingly obvious the enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend, Ankara has undermined American efforts to build an anti-ISIS coalition.

The fresh allegations against Erdogan came on the same day that he revealed “diplomatic and political bargaining” ISIS had freed 46 Turkish and three Iraqi hostages that had been in the hands of the extremists since June. ISIS itself said Turkey had promised not to take part in an US-led coalition that is preparing military strikes against the militants in Syria.

Takva Haber, a Turkish website that often reflects ISIS thinking, said the order to release the Turkish hostages had come directly from ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. “A phase of negotiations, held basically between two states” had led to the outcome, the website said.

Recognition of ISIS or ISIL as a “state” at any level or in any form is precisely what al-Baghdadi is looking for and U.S. President Barack Obama vehemently opposes.

“ISIL is certainly not a state,” Obama said earlier this month.  “It is recognized by no government, nor by the people it subjugates.  ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.”

Takva Haber begs to differ. Through the hostage negotiations, Turkey had indirectly recognized the ISIS “caliphate,” it said, and suggested that the hostage release was a quid pro quo for Turkey’s refusal to aid the anti-ISIS alliance. “The state of the Turkish republic has taken a stance against a new occupation [of Syria and Iraq] by rejecting participation in the U.S. occupation coalition.”

Erdogan has insisted that no monetary ransom was paid, but he confirmed on Sunday that Turkey’s intelligence service did negotiate with ISIS. Speaking to reporters in Ankara, Erdogan said there were critics accusing Turkey of bargaining with ISIS. “If they are referring to financial bargaining, this is out of the question,” he said. “But if they are referring to a diplomatic bargaining, of course we are talking about a political, diplomatic bargaining. This is a diplomatic victory.”

“Diplomacy” is not normally a word associated with terrorist hostage negotiations.

Read more at Daily Beast

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US Muslim Charity Linked to Turkish Hamas Affiliate IHH

Hamas' Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh (2nd L) and Bulent Yildirim (L), head of Turkey's Islamic and pro-Hmas rights group, The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief wave the flag of the terrorist organization Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). (Photo: © Reuters)

Hamas’ Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh (2nd L) and Bulent Yildirim (L), head of Turkey’s Islamic and pro-Hmas rights group, The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief wave the flag of the terrorist organization Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). (Photo: © Reuters)

Many organizations are swayed by their legitimate humanitarian work, but Islamists use social services for ideological and terrorist purposes.

By Ryan Mauro:

Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA), the U.S. branch of the charity group Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), is linked to a Hamas affiliate in Turkey named the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH).

The Money Jihad blog discovered that three IRW offices have a working relationship with IHH. The U.S. branch based in Virginia is also likely directly linked to IHH. The blog points out how IRUSA’s website says it delivers aid to Syria “through Islamic Relief partner offices in Turkey.”

In July, the Clarion Project reported on how IHH was signing up human shields for Hamas during its recent fighting with Israel. IHH exalts Hamas as “the resistance,” talks about uniting the Muslim world into a caliphate and envisions a day when “Muslims may show up in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem one day unannounced and we will erect the flag of Islam everywhere.”

IHH is very close to the Turkish government of Prime Minister Erdogan, a top backer of Hamas. Last month, IHH signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the government of Qatar, a staunch sponsor of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Israel, Germany and the Netherlands have branded IHH as a terrorist entity. The U.S. has not formally done so, but a bipartisan group of 87 members of Congress including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have requested its designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the State Department.

The State Department considered it but did not take action, even though a leaked State Department memo from 2009 shows that the U.S. government knows IHH is “providing material assistance to Hamas.” In 2008, the U.S. Treasury Department blacklisted a Muslim Brotherhood-led coalition of charities for financing Hamas that includes IHH.

IHH’s “humanitarian” work in Syria could be a front for supporting terrorists. The former U.S. ambassador to Turkey recently confirmed that the Erdogan government was assisting Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. As Clarion wrote about, Turkish police that investigated IHH’s suspected links to Al-Qaeda in Syria were retaliated against by the Erdogan government.

The involvement with IHH is just another addition to IRW/IRUSA’s history of Islamist extremism and suspected ties to terrorism.

The Clarion Project has extensively researched IRUSA’s ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and its involvement with the U.S. government, including having its CEO chosen as an advisor to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Read more at Clarion Project

Islamist foreign fighters returning home and the threat to Europe

Editor’s note: Below is Thomas Joscelyn’s testimony to the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats.

Tom_Large (1)By

Chairman Rohrabacher, Ranking Member Keating and members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me here today to discuss the threat posed by Islamist foreign fighters returning home to Europe. We have been asked to answer the question, “How are European countries addressing the threat, and how can the US assist in those efforts to thwart future terrorist attacks?” I offer my thoughts in more detail below.

But I begin by recalling the 9/11 Commission’s warning with respect to failed states. “In the twentieth century,” the Commission’s final report reads, “strategists focused on the world’s great industrial heartlands.” In the twenty-first century, however, “the focus is in the opposite direction, toward remote regions and failing states.” A few sentences later, the Commission continues:

If, for example, Iraq becomes a failed state, it will go to the top of the list of places that are breeding grounds for attacks against Americans at home. Similarly, if we are paying insufficient attention to Afghanistan, the rule of the Taliban or warlords or narcotraffickers may reemerge and its countryside could once again offer refuge to al Qaeda, or its successor.

Those words were written more than a decade ago. Unfortunately, they still ring true today, not just for the US, but also for Europe. Except, we no longer have to worry about just Iraq becoming a failed state. We now have to contend with a failed state in Syria as well. And Syria is not “remote.” It is much easier for foreign fighters to travel to Syria today than it was for new jihadists to get to Afghanistan in the 1980s. This is one reason that there are likely more foreign fighters in Syria than there were in Afghanistan at the height of the jihad against the Soviets. Estimates vary, but the total number of foreign recruits in Syria easily tops 10,000. A CIA source recently told CNN “that more than 15,000 foreign fighters, including 2,000 Westerners, have gone to Syria.” They “come from more than 80 countries.”

This, of course, is an unprecedented security challenge and one that counterterrorism and intelligence officials will be dealing with for some time to come. It requires exceptional international cooperation to track the threats to Europe and elsewhere emerging out of Iraq and Syria. My thoughts below are focused on what I consider to be some of the key aspects of dealing with this threat.

At the moment, most people are understandably focused on the Islamic State (often called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL, or ISIS). There is certainly a strong possibility that some foreign fighters will return from fighting in the Islamic State’s ranks to commit an act of terror at home, either on their own accord or under the direction of senior terrorists.

However, I also want to focus our attention today one of the other significant threat streams coming out of Syria. Al-Qaeda’s official branch in the country, Jabhat al-Nusrah, has experienced al-Qaeda veterans in its ranks. I think they pose more of a near-term threat when it comes to launching catastrophic attacks in the West than do their Islamic State counterparts. And even though al-Nusrah and the Islamic State have been at odds, we should not rule out the possibility that parts of each organization could come together against their common enemies in the West. Indeed, two of al-Qaeda’s leading branches are currently encouraging the jihadists in Syria to broker a truce, such that they focus their efforts against the US and its allies. There is also a large incentive for terrorists in both organizations to separately lash out at the West, portraying any such attacks as an act of retaliation for the American-led bombings.

Read more at Long War Journal

Turkey Hosting at Least 12 Hamas Operatives

Protesters burn an Israeli flag during a protest rally outside the Israeli consulate in Istanbul, Turkey / AP

Protesters burn an Israeli flag during a protest rally outside the Israeli consulate in Istanbul, Turkey / AP

By Adam Kredo:

At least 12 Hamas operatives, including a senior leader and others convicted of murder, have enjoyed safe haven in Turkey, a country that regional experts say is quickly becoming “a very hospitable environment” for Hamas terrorists to plan operations.

Turkey’s ties to Hamas have come under scrutiny in recent weeks after it came to light that a senior Hamas leader accused of planning the kidnapping of three Israeli teens is being sheltered in the country with the government’s knowledge.

In addition to top Hamas official Saleh Al-Arouri, Turkey has provided shelter to at least 11 other Hamas militants, two of whom have murdered Israelis and are known to the Turkish authorities, according to data published by the Palestinian National Information Center.

While Turkey’s support for Hamas has attracted concern in prominent foreign policy circles, the State Department has not expressed concern about the developments and is going forward with weapons shipments to Ankara.

Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Treasury Department, warned that Turkey and Hamas are only growing closer.

“It appears that there are at least two convicted murderers running around Turkey right now with the full acknowledgment of the government in Ankara. But because their victims were Israelis, there does not appear to be a lot of concern about a possible threat to public safety,” said Schanzer, who recently exposed the full list of Hamas operatives believed to be residing in Turkey.

“It is entirely unclear how many Hamas figures are based in Turkey right now, but it is clear that the country has become a very hospitable environment for leaders such as Saleh Arouri, but also some of the rank-and-file,” warned Schanzer, the vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Israel released into Turkey 10 Hamas militants as part of its 2011 deal to free kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. Others were released to Syria and Qatar, Hamas’ chief financier.

Since that time, Hamas members have enjoyed unfettered access to Turkey, where members such as Al-Arouri have hatched terror plots to overthrow the Palestinian government in the West Bank and replace it with Hamas terrorists.

Read more at Washington Free Beacon

Basting Turkey’s New Prime Minister

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (left) with Ahmet Davutoğlu (right)

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (left) with Ahmet Davutoğlu (right)

by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
August 28, 2014

As Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ascends today to the presidency of Turkey, his hand-picked successor, Ahmet Davutoğlu, simultaneously assumes Erdoğan’s old job of prime minister. What do these changes portend for Turkey and its foreign policy? In two words: nothing good.

He asked me about the neo-conservative movement in the United States, then at the height of its fame and supposed influence. I began by expressing doubts that I was a member of this elite group, as Davutoğlu assumed, and went on to note that none of the key decision-makers in the George W. Bush administration (the president, vice president, secretaries of state and defense, or the national security adviser) was a neo-conservative, a fact that made me skeptical of its vaunted power. Davutoğlu responded with a subtle form of antisemitism, insisting that neo-conservatives were far more powerful than I acknowledged because they worked together in a secret network based on religious ties. (He had the good grace not to mention which religion that might be.)In June 2005, when Davutoğlu served as chief foreign policy adviser to Erdoğan, I spoke with him for an hour in Ankara. Two topics from that conversation remain vivid.

In turn, I asked him about the goals of Turkish foreign policy in the Middle East in the era of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) that had begun in 2002, noting Ankara’s new ambitions in a region it had long disdained. He conceded this change, then took me on a quick tour d’horizon from Afghanistan to Morocco, noting Turkey’s special ties with many countries. These included the presence of Turkic-speakers (e.g., in Iraq), the legacy of Ottoman rule (Lebanon), economic symbiosis (Syria), Islamic ties (Saudi Arabia), and diplomatic mediation (Iran).

What struck me most was the boastful optimism and complete self-assurance of Davutoğlu, former professor of international relations and an Islamist ideologue. He not only implied that Turkey had waited breathlessly for him and his grand vision but he also displayed an unconcealed delight at finding himself in a position to apply his academic theories to the great canvas of international politics. (This privilege occurs surprisingly rarely.) In sum, that conversation inspired neither my confidence nor my admiration.

While Davutoğlu has done remarkably well for himself in the intervening years, he did so exclusively as consigliere to his sole patron, Erdoğan. His record, by contrast, has been one ofinconsistent policy and consistent failure, a failure so abject it borders on fiasco. Under Davutoğlu’s stewardship, Ankara’s relations with Western countries have almost universally soured, while those with Iran, Iraq, Syria, Israel, Egypt, and Libya, among other Middle Eastern states, have plummeted. To top it off, Turkish rule is endangered even in its own northern Cypriot satrapy.

Having failed as foreign minister, Davutoğlu now – in an application of The Dilbert Principle – ascends to a heady but subservient leadership of both the AKP and the government. He faces two major challenges:Symbolically, Turkey is slipping away from the NATO alliance of democracies and toward the shoddy Sino-Russian grouplet known as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. As Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the opposition, sadly notes, “Turkey has grown lonely in the world.”

As AKP leader, he is tasked with producing a great victory in the June 2015 parliamentary elections to modify the constitution and turn the semi-ceremonial position of president into the elected sultanate Erdoğan lusts for. Can Davutoğlu deliver the votes? Color me skeptical. I expect that Erdoğan will rue the day he relinquished his prime ministry to become president, as he finds himself ignored and bored living in the sprawling presidential “campus.”

As Turkey’s 26th prime minister, Davutoğlu faces a bubble economy perilously near collapse, a breakdown in the rule of law, a country inflamed by Erdoğan’s divisive rule, a hostile Gülen movement, and a divided AKP, all converging within an increasingly Islamist (and therefore uncivil) country. Moreover, the foreign policy problems that Davutoğlu himself created still continue, especially the ISIS hostage emergency in Mosul.

The Turkish consulate in Mosul before its seizure.

The unfortunate Davutoğlu brings to mind a cleanup crew arriving at the party at 4 a.m., facing a mess created by now-departed revelers. Happily, the contentious and autocratic Erdoğan no longer holds Turkey’s key governmental position; but his placing the country in the unsteady hands of a loyalist of proven incompetence brings many new concerns for the Turks, their neighbors, and all who wish the country well.

Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum.

ISIS Declares War On Hamas And The Muslim Brotherhood

771By Walid ShoebatAugust 23, 2014:

There is a war of fatwas and some serious cyber rattling back and forth between the Muslim Brotherhood on the one hand and the organization of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) on the other hand. The fatwa wars erupted after Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, president of the World Federation of Muslim Scholars, the spiritual father of the Muslim Brotherhood, denounced the legitimacy for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as Caliph of the Muslim world. In turn, the ISIS denounced the Muslim Brotherhood and in addition Hamas as “apostates” and “followers of witchcraft theology”

The fatwa wars erupted when Qaradawi reiterated his call that announcing a Caliphate is under the authority of the Union of Muslim Scholars which it only represented the decision making in Muslim world. The Quran clearly says that Muslims need to obey “Allah, his messenger and the people of authority” (Q4:59). Qaradawi said: “The announcement for a Caliphate is not an entitlement to any faction because this function in every Muslim nation is entitled only to the scholars to indicate the legitimate government in such matters.”

He said in a statement that all those things that took place with ISIS “are without any criteria of legitimacy nor are realistic and does more harm than good,” adding “We are all dreaming of an Islamic caliphate on a platform of prophecy and hope from the bottom of our hearts that will be held today before tomorrow, but Islam taught us, and the school of life has taught us: that such a major project needs hard and long thinking and heavy preparation.”

The latest statements by the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Yusuf al-Qaradawi, was that the “Islamic Caliphate” for the whole world is Istanbul Turkey, claiming that “Istanbul is the capital for the Islamic Arab world and the West,” calling on the Turkish people to support Recep Tayyip Erdogan, “because God and Gabriel and Muhammad support Erdogan and the angels after that will be revealed.”

Those opinions raised an eyebrow from the ISIS when its chief ideologue, Shanqiti denounced the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas governments as apostates, and mocked Qaradawi’s fatwa which according to him goes along the principle of “the rule of the people,” saying that the Muslim Brotherhood:

“seeks to support the religion in terms of the Social Contract theory and is resorting to the ordinances and other exaggerations from the trash bin of ideas. Whoever does this is someone who claims to support the religion while they practice witchcraft.”

Shanqeeti said in his response to Qaradawi that the Muslim Brotherhood is harming the Muslim world:

“The Brotherhood by this deed damaged the Muslim world more than benefiting it and they delay the return of the Caliphate for decades by wasting tremendous financial and human resources running behind a mirage telling their followers that “God is their goal, and that the Prophet is their example and that Islam is their destiny?!””

Shanqeeti mocked Qaradawi’s fatwa saying:

“O Sheikh; The caliph is our Prince of the Mujahidin, Sheikh Ibrahim Awad al-Badri [Al-Baghdadi], who needs not your advice and has been given allegiance from battle hardened warriors who has gone through battles, trials and tribulations; your despicable fatwah will not hurt them”.

He pointed out that the Muslim Brotherhood is only interested in power and making peace treaties with Israel as is with Turkey:

“as soon as they [The Muslim Brotherhood] came to power until things turned against them, their destination and their example went alongside the atheists and secularists with lubricity for America and appeasement for Israel, and we saw the same thing in Turkey and Gaza and Egypt during the reign of the ‘apostate Juggernaut Mohamed Morsi,’”

Shoebat.com has predicted that an escalation in Caliphate mania will arise. In this case we have the foxes on one hand and the bullies on the other. In the end, the foxes will win the minds of the Muslim masses and a Caliphate will be established in Turkey.

REFERENCES
Translated from AlBawabh (The Gate News) http://www.albawabhnews.com/748771

Also see:

Time to Part Ways with Erdogan

erdoganby Ari Lieberman:

There is no question that Turkey, because of its size and geo-strategic location maintains a pivotal role in NATO. Its armed forces are NATO’s second largest and its troops had acquitted themselves well during the Korean War. Turkey had also played a constructive role in bridging relations between Israel and the Muslim world acting as an effective interlocutor. But with the ascent of the Islamist Justice and Development party in 2002 and the rise of Recep Tayyip Erdogan as party boss, things have taken a stark turn for the worse.

Under the stewardship of an increasingly unbalanced Erdogan, Turkey has renounced secularism in favor of Islamist dogma and creeping sharia. Turkey’s new president elect has, through intimidation and strong-arm tactics, usurped control of Turkey’s judiciary and press. Indeed, Turkey holds the dubious distinction of being the world’s largest incarcerator of journalists followed only by Iran and China.

An increasingly paranoid Erdogan has also declared war on social media and in March threatened to ban Facebook and YouTube, accusing the sites of “every kind of immorality and espionage for their own ends.” Erdogan had already banned YouTube for two years though the restriction was lifted in 2010.

Erdogan’s disloyalty to the United States and NATO began early in his term of office as prime minister but his betrayals have only increased in recent years.

In March 2003, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Turkey refused to allow the deployment of US troops on Turkish soil which would have enabled the US to open a second front against Saddam Hussein. Turkey also refused to allow the US to utilize Turkish airspace and airbases to launch strikes against Iraqi forces.

In 2010, Turkey was one of only two nations in the UN Security Council (the other being Brazil) that voted against imposing sanctions against Iran in connection with its nuclear proliferation activities. Turkey (along with China) is currently taking a lead role in helping the Islamic Republic circumvent sanctions, often fronting for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and instituting various other schemes to bypass legal obstacles.  Turkey’s stance on Iran has even drawn praise from mullah’s official propaganda outlet, Press TV.

It is clear that Turkey, acting as Iran’s conduit to Europe has become the Islamic Republic’s premier enabler. Turkey’s outreach to Iran represents a disturbing pattern by Erdogan to curry favor with nations and entities whose interests substantially diverge from Washington’s. Turkey has established itself as the world’s foremost supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah, both of which are listed as terrorist organizations by the United States.  Turkey has also opted to purchase air defense platforms from a Chinese firm already on a designated sanctions list for violating embargoes against Iran and North Korea. Moreover, the Chinese systems are incompatible with NATO platforms but to Erdogan, NATO’s defense needs play second fiddle to his disconcerting policy of thumbing his nose at the West.

Central to any defense pact and cooperation between allies is trust. But Erdogan has proven that he is anything but trustworthy. In fact, he has established himself as the premier betrayer of trust when, in violation of all norms and protocol within the intelligence community, he betrayed a network of spies working to compile data on Iran’s proliferation activities.

Read more at Front Page

Did a Hamas Plot to Seize the West Bank Really Cause the Gaza War?

fatah-hamas-450x252Front Page, By Daniel Greenfield:

If some of this information holds up, then the picture of the Gaza War changes significantly.

A large-scale Hamas terrorist formation in the West Bank and Jerusalem planned to destabilize the region through a series of deadly terror attacks in Israel and then topple the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority, the Shin Bet said Monday.

The Turkey-based Hamas overseas headquarters orchestrated the plot which centered on a string of mass casualty terror attacks on Israeli targets, the Shin Bet added.

The end goal was to destabilize the Palestinian territories and use the instability to carry out a military coup, overthrowing the government of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Hamas infrastructure relied on support from cells in neighboring Jordan, and on couriers who delivered terrorist finances, totaling at least two million shekels, which were used to purchase weapons and homes that were used as hideouts, according to the investigation.

Ninety three Hamas members are in Israeli custody, and the Shin Bet has questioned 46 so far. Security forces plan to indict some 70 suspects. The investigation began in May, and is ongoing, security sources said.

The earliest timeline of the arrests appears to predate the official onset of the fighting. Also the operation was orchestrated from Turkey, much like the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teens.

What that may really mean is that Israel was caught in the middle of a power play between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. If Turkey’s tyrant Erdogan seemed even more hysterical during the war than usual, it was because he had helped set it off. And if Saudi Arabia seemed a bit suspiciously supportive, that was because it was using Israel in its proxy war with Qatar and Turkey.

Once it was clear that the operation was exposed, Hamas decided to go all in while counting on Turkey and Qatar to bring Obama to the rescue. The results have been mixed, but if Israel ends up making concessions then all the bad guys on both sides will get what they want.

The war as we saw it, was actually a semi-accidental result of a larger Hamas operation going off prematurely as part of an internal civil war within the Muslim world.

The twist in all this is that the Unity Government of Fatah and Hamas was only a prelude to Hamas stabbing Fatah in the back.