Shoshana Bryen: The Kurds – A Guide for U.S. Policymakers

Shoshana Bryen, Senior Director, Jewish Policy Center; Former Senior Director for Security Policy, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA)

Shoshana Bryen, Senior Director, Jewish Policy Center; Former Senior Director for Security Policy, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA)

Center for Security Policy, by Rachel Silverman, June 8, 2015:

On Sunday, June 7th Turkish voters delivered a dramatic blow to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In a historic first, a party dominated by ethnic Kurds surged into the Grand National Assembly in Ankara, marking a new moment in the evolution of Turkey’s democracy. According to Akin Unver, a professor of international relations at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, it’s now “impossible to sideline Kurdish politics. Despite the civil war of the 1990s, Kurds have evolved politically and established a lasting legacy” on the Turkish national stage.

Professor Unver, is not the only one who believes that the Kurds should be recognized politically. On June 4th, during the Center for Security Policy’s National Security Group Lunch on Capitol Hill, Shoshana Bryen who is the Senior Director of the Jewish Policy Center offered three practical steps that the U.S. can do to help assist the Kurds and advance U.S. interests in the region.

Bryen says that the first step, which coincides with Professor Unver, “is for the U.S. to recognize the Kurds politically, as an ally, as a partner in the fight against ISIS.” She mentions that there was a meeting in Paris last week between coalition members to discuss Iraq and Syria and the Kurds were not invited, despite the fact that there are 160,000 or so Kurdish fighters on the ground doing the job.

The second step, according to Bryen, is for the U.S. to talk to the Kurds directly and not through Baghdad:

“Right now all the aid that we give them, which is not a whole lot, goes through Baghdad. The Kurds probably get about 25 or 35 percent of that, which means we need to talk to them directly instead. The U.S. needs to figure out how to give them military equipment directly. The Turks, Iraqis, and Iranians will not like it, but if the Germans and the French can supply the Kurds directly which is what they do now, then the U.S. ought to as well.”

Bryen’s third step is that the U.S. needs to figure out how to get the Kurds to the United States to talk. Bryen stresses that “the Kurdish voices are not being heard around the United States and they need to be. They need invitations, they need to be invited to testify on Capitol Hill, and they need to be invited to conferences.”

Bryen also stresses that U.S. interests actually lie with the minority communities in the Middle East, which includes Israel and the Kurds. She says that “we have allies in the region and we need to lean on them instead of trying to pretend that our enemies are our allies.” Bryen ends with saying that if we follow these three crucial steps, then that is “the beginning of wisdom for the United States.”

Becoming allies with the Kurds would offer the United States tremendous strategic advantages that would help defeat the Islamic State, especially now after the Turkish election results. Unlike several of the countries from which the U.S. flies their aircrafts or bases their ships, the Kurdish leaders and people are pro-American, its ruling regime is not a monarchy ripe for Arab-Spring-style overthrow, and it does not sponsor Islamist terrorism. It is clearly time for America to form an alliance with the Kurds.

Turkey: “An End to an Era of Oppression”

Gatestone Institute, by Burak Bekdil, June 8, 2015:

  • “We, through democratic means, have brought an end to an era of oppression.” — Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition, Republican People’s Party (CHP).
  • Erdogan is now the lonely sultan in his $615 million, 1150-room presidential palace. For the first time since 2002, the opposition has more seats in the parliament than the AKP.

For the first time since his Islamist party won its first election victory in 2002, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was nowhere to be seen on the night of June 7. He did not make a victory speech. He did not, in fact, make any speech.

Not only failing to win the two-thirds majority they desired to change the constitution, the AKP lost its parliamentary majority and the ability to form a single-party government. It won 40.8% of the national vote and 258 seats, 19 short of the simple majority requirement of 276. Erdogan is now the lonely sultan at his $615 million, 1150-room presidential palace. For the first time since 2002, the opposition has more seats in parliament than the AKP: 292 seats to 258.

“The debate over presidency, over dictatorship in Turkey is now over,” said a cheerful Selahattin Demirtas after the preliminary poll results. Demirtas, a Kurdish politician whose Peoples’ Democracy Party [HDP] entered parliament as a party for the first time, apparently with support from secular, leftist and marginal Turks, is the charismatic man who destroyed Erdogan’s dreams of an elected sultanate. Echoing a similar view, the social democrat, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party [CHP], commented on the early results in plain language: “We, through democratic means, have brought an end to an era of oppression.”

What lies ahead is less clear. Theoretically, the AKP can sign a coalition deal with the third biggest party, the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party [MHP], although during the campaign, MHP leader Devlet Bahceli slammed Erdogan harshly for the embarrassing corruption allegations against the president. At the same time, a CHP-MHP-HDP coalition is unlikely, as it must bring together the otherwise arch-enemies MHP and HDP.

Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet Bahceli addresses supporters after the release of preliminary election results, June 7, 2015. (Image source: MHP video screenshot)

The AKP management may be planning for snap, or early, polls but there are hardly any rational reasons for it except to risk another ballot box defeat. Parliament may try a minority government, supported by one of the parties from outside government benches, but this can only create a temporary government.

Two outcomes, however, look almost certain: 1) The AKP is in an undeniable decline; the voters have forced it into compromise politics rather than permitting it to run a one-man show, with in-house bickering even more likely than peace, and new conservative Muslims challenging the incumbent leadership. 2) Erdogan’s ambitions for a too-powerful, too-authoritarian, Islamist executive presidency, “a la sultan,” will have to go into the political wasteland at least in the years ahead.

The AKP appeared polled in first place on June 7. But that day may mark the beginning of the end for it. How ironic; the AKP came to power with 34.4% of the national vote in 2002, winning 66% of the seats in parliament. Nearly 13 years later, thanks to the undemocratic features of an electoral law it has fiercely defended, it won 40.8% of the vote and only 47% of the seats in parliament, blocking it from even forming a simple majority.

Also see:

Erdogan vs. the New York Times, and Democracy

1167by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
May 28, 2015

For 13 years, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has worked to impose his Islamist vision on Turkey’s proud secular democracy, reshaping the country into a neo-Ottoman republic. His success can be credited in no small measure to his manipulation and intimidation of the press, and the occasional censorship of social media and the Internet overall. Now, in a gesture that betrays either Islamist imperialism, sheer ignorance of Western democracy, or both, Turkey’s president and former prime minister is expanding his reach, raising his fist – and, he hopes, his influence – at the West, using the New York Times as his target.

Infuriated by a “shameless” May 23 Times editorial that called him “increasingly hostile to truth-telling” and accused him of “brute manipulation of the political process” in the upcoming June 7 elections, Erdogan accused the paper of “overstepping the limits of freedom” and “meddling in Turkish politics.” Speaking in Istanbul on Monday, the Turkish leader called on the Times to “know its place,” and alleged that if the paper were to criticize U.S. leaders, those leaders “would immediately do what is necessary” – an ominous suggestion that spotlights his own way of dealing with journalists who say things he doesn’t like: he puts them in prison, often on charges of “terrorism.” In 2013, the Committee to Protect Journalists cited Turkey as the leading imprisoner of journalists for the second year in a row. The release of eight of those journalists in 2014 put the country in second place, but signs are strong that 2015 will see the country take the lead again.

Indeed, only days after his rant against the Times, Erdogan took revenge on formerTimes reporter Stephen Kinzer, revoking his promise to grant him “honorary citizenship” and instead calling him “an enemy of our government and of our country.” That change of heart appears to have come when someone on the president’s staff uncovered a Jan. 4 article Kinzer penned for the Boston Globe, in which he observed, “Once seen as a skilled modernizer, [Erdoğan] now sits in a 1,000-room palace denouncing the European Union, decreeing the arrest of journalists, and ranting against short skirts and birth control.”

This is hardly the first time Erdogan has wrestled with the “Gray Lady.” In 2014, the then-prime minister refuted the Times’ report that Turkey had allowed weapons to flow into Syria to aid ISIS. Turkey, he insisted, “is against terrorism of all kinds, indiscriminately.” It was an ironic statement at best, coming from a man with Muslim Brotherhood sympathies who is also the leader of a country that allegedly serves as a Hamas headquarters. It is also worth noting that while Erdogan called Kinzer an “enemy of the government,” he openly welcomed members of the Brotherhood expelled from Egypt after the fall of Mohamed Morsi.

But it wasn’t just the article Erdogan found problematic, he also criticized the Times’use of a photograph of him exiting a mosque, claiming it suggested that he and the mosque were responsible for recruiting jihadists for ISIS. The paper subsequentlyapologized for the image, saying it was “published in error.” That led Erdogan to crow locally that he had triumphed over the Times – and so, he meant to suggest, over America. Similarly, in the aftermath of the latest Times conflict, he warned that theTimes no longer rules Turkey: “They are used to ruling the other side of the world from 10,000-15,000 kilometers’ distance,” he declared. “But there is no such Turkey. There is no more old Turkey. There is a new Turkey.”

It was a typical Erdogan gesture: he often seeks that kind of triumph – not only over America, but over the entire world. He has famously stated that Muslims, not Columbus, discovered America, a position he defended with the assertions that “as the president of my country, I cannot accept that our civilization is inferior to other civilizations,” and that “Western sources shouldn’t be believed as if they are sacred texts.”

At speeches in Europe, he has exhorted Turkish-Europeans to resist assimilation. “Assimilation is a crime against humanity,” he told an international audience of 20,000 who attended his 2008 speech in Cologne, Germany. And in 2013, in a highly controversial move, he demanded that the Dutch government place Turkish-Dutch foster children only in Muslim homes – despite the fact that there are few Muslim families offering to house foster children.

More recently, the Islamist party he founded in 2001, the Justice Development Party (AKP), went so far as to proclaim that “God is on our side” in the upcoming parliamentary elections – a statement that in itself defies the deepest principles of a secular, democratic republic. It is a position also in keeping with Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman agenda, which to date has included the institution of mandatory religion classes and lessons in Arabic-Ottoman script in all Turkish schools. (Kemal Ataturk banned Ottoman script with the founding of the Turkish Republic, replacing it with a Latin alphabet aimed at Westernizing Turkey, turning it away from its Islamic and Arab history.)

Much about Erdogan’s vision, in fact, can be read into this reinstatement of Ottoman Turkish; as the Washington Post observed, his opponents have taken the move “as a sign of the creeping Islamization of Turkey’s resolutely secular society that has taken place under Erdogan’s watch. Bans on headscarves and veils have been lifted by Erdogan. The number of students studying in state-run religious seminaries has grown from 63,000 in 2002, when Erdogan first came to power, to nearly 1 million today – a statistic the Turkish president celebrates.” Not for nothing did Erdogan promise early in his administration to build “a new religious youth.”

From all of this emerges a confused, somewhat bizarre understanding of the role of the written word, be it in journalism or religious text, and a confusion between the two. It is forbidden to criticize Mohammed, for instance, but it is equally forbidden, evidently, to criticize Turkey’s president (as it is the leaders of most, if not all, Muslim countries).

Indeed, a 16-year-old schoolboy was arrested last December on charges of insulting the president over comments defending secularism and alleging government corruption. In an Islamist society – that of political Islam – there is no distinction between Islam and the state: to criticize one is tantamount to criticizing the other.

In the same way, Erdogan’s aim of creating a “new Turkey” that restores the Ottoman Empire and is more powerful than America or Europe, is akin to the ideal of a world Caliphate – a world under Islam. Already it is plain that, as he gradually erodes the legacy of a secular Turkey, increasingly he paves the way for the sharia state he has reportedly advocated in the past. What he may not realize is that the harder he tries to silence these truths, the clearer he makes them.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands.

***

The Conquest Unit is scheduled to march behind the Ottoman military band. File photo

The Conquest Unit is scheduled to march behind the Ottoman military band. File photo

Turkish army forms ceremonial Ottoman unit on Erdoğan’s order

The Turkish Armed Forces have formed a new ceremonial brigade, dressed as Ottoman soldiers, to attend events marking the 562nd anniversary of the Turks’ conquest of Istanbul, upon the instructions of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The 1st Army headquarters in Istanbul formed the 478-man “Conquest Unit” through its personnel. The ceremonial brigade will be joined by an 84-men Ottoman military band, known in Turkish as the “Mehter,” in the official ceremony for the anniversary, which will be held in Istanbul on May 30 this year, a day later than the conquest’s traditional commemoration date.

Costumes of the Conquest Unit, which will march behind the Mehter, will be provided by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. The full set of historic attire will include 14 different costumes to represent different units of the Ottoman military.

President Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu are both scheduled to attend the event in Istanbul’s Yenikapı Square a week before the June 7 general election.

Soon after his election as Turkey’s president in August 2014, Erdoğan moved in to the massive newly-built presidential palace in Ankara, where he has hosted foreign guests flanked by actors dressed in traditional Turkish military costumes from multiple eras.

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Disagreement Among MB Fronts Over USCMO Statement on Armenian Genocide

Erdogan R4BIACSP, by Kyle Shideler, April 27, 2015:

As the Free Fire Blog noted last week, the Muslim Brotherhood umbrella organization the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) issued a statement supporting Turkey and downplaying calls to recognize the Armenian genocide. Now it appears the USCMO is receiving pushback from other Muslim Brotherhood front groups for the bad press generated by the press release. The American Muslim reports that USCMO member the Muslim Legal Fund of America was the first to begin to distance themselves from the USCMO release:

“It is not MLFA’s place nor is it part of its mission to question the Armenian genocide,” said Meek. “I apologize if the inclusion of MLFA’s name in this statement caused any confusion to our donors, supporters or anyone else.”

Meek said that he believes it is important for Muslim organizations to work together on issues of common concern. However, he said he will make it clear to concerned parties that MLFA’s name should not be included on any international statements made by any organization.

MLFA was not as resistant to controversial issues in 2003, when they accused the U.S. and Pakistani governments of “kidnapping” Al Qaeda terrorist Aafia Siddiqui. Siddiqui, a regular of the Muslim Brotherhood-connected Islamic Society of Boston, is serving an 86-year sentence for attempted murder of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and terrorism activities related to a prospective plot to blow up New York City landmarks including the Empire State Building.

The USCMO’s position also faced push back from University of California Berkley’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) which issued a statement including the following:

We also would like to express our shock and dismay in reaction to the recently published statement issued by the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), which includes otherwise pro-justice groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), that denies the reality of the Armenian genocide. The cowardly and overtly political move by these groups calls into question their commitment to the struggles for justice and self-determination that they claim to champion.

The UC Berkley-SJP is the founding chapter of the organization, which now operates on college campuses across the country and which has been accused of providing material support for Hamas. SJP was founded by Hatem Bazian, a radical campus professor with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood in order to establish a broader anti-Israel alliance of college students beyond the existing MB group the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA). Bazian is also a leading member of American Muslims for Palestine, a Brotherhood front organization which is also a USCMO member.

This is not the first time for Brotherhood-linked groups to show a public appearance of disunity. In the past these issues have centered over policy debates regarding whether achieving Muslim Brotherhood “Settlement” objectives in the United States were of more importance than fulfilling the Brotherhood’s obligation to support jihad, most particularly in Palestine. In their recent National Advocacy Day, for example, the USCMO purposefully divorced lobbying on behalf of Palestine from its overall effort, making the event a secondary (and less well-attended) day which raised criticism from some participants on twitter.

MB fronts in the United States have undertaken a very conscious policy of outreach, targeting perceived minority organizations on a wide range of “social justice” issues, and attempting to insinuate themselves into the discussion, as they did for example over the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.

Having successfully established deep ties with non-Muslim groups with a wide variety of interests, MB groups may now find themselves constrained as various groups fear losing outreach capability due to the risk of alienating partners with umbrella statements like the one issued by the USCMO.

On the other hand, the MB at the global level can ill-afford to alienate Turkey, which plays a key role in supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, in particular providing support for Hamas.  Turkish President Erdogan’s support for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s insurrection against the Egyptian government has also been widely publicized, along with a tight relationship with International Muslim Brotherhood figures like Qaradawi.

As with other cases where Brotherhood-linked groups have expressed public disagreements, such incidents should be viewed in the context of an internal debate regarding priorities of the Movement, but not necessarily as a long term disagreement or evidence of a wider split.

Muslim Brotherhood Stands by Turkey over Genocidal Jihad of Armenians

Skulls of Armenians massacred in Urfa, surrounded by Armenian dignitaries and women from the women's shelter in Urfa's Monastery of St. Sarkis in June 1919. (Source: © Wikimedia Commons/AGBU)

Skulls of Armenians massacred in Urfa, surrounded by Armenian dignitaries and women from the women’s shelter in Urfa’s Monastery of St. Sarkis in June 1919. (Source: © Wikimedia Commons/AGBU)

CSP, by Kyle Shideler, April 23, 2015:

The always excellent Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch reports today on the decision of U.S. Muslim Brotherhood (MB) umbrella group the US Council of Muslim Organizations to issue a press release coming to the aid of Turkey, which is battling growing pressure in the United States and around the world to recognize the Armenian genocide, whose 100th anniversary will be marked this Friday April 24th. While the press release claims the MB groups “share the pain” of the Armenian community, it goes on to take a decidedly Pro-Turkish stance:

While Muslim Americans sympathize deeply with the loss of Armenian lives in 1915, we also believe that reconciliation must take into honest account the broader human tragedy of World War I. Muslim Americans expect our leaders to act accordingly to ensure that American-Turkish strategic relations are not damaged by a one-sided interpretation of the 1915 events.”

MB’s support for the Islamist government of Turkey, and especially its leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been well documented previously, support which Turkey has repaid both with support to for the Brotherhood’s armed wing in Palestine, Hamas, but also in supporting the MB leaders against the current Egyptian government of Al-Sissi, assisting the MB with ratcheting up violent tensions within Egypt through Turkish hosted media.

The Turkish government proudly displayed the USCMO’s endorsement on a government website. It’s not the first time the USCMO has noted its friendly relationships with Turkey. The USCMO website hosts a number of photos showing MB-linked individuals including Oussama Jammal,Osama Abu Irshaid, and Naeem Baig attending a Justice and Development (AKP) Party Convention.

Given the role the Muslim Brotherhood plays in denying and dissembling about jihad and terrorist violence generally, it’s no surprise to see them weighing in in defense of what was, after all a jihad against the Armenians. As scholar Dr. Andrew Bostom noted earlier this week for PJ Media, the reason there tends to be a “one-sided interpretation” of the events of the Armenian Genocide, is because that interpretation is based on facts.

In his column Bostom lays out numerous scholarly, contemporary and varied sources, both foreign, and indeed Turkish, detailing not only that the genocide against the Armenians occurred, but that it was carried out in the name of Jihad.

Bostom writes:

Contemporary accounts from European diplomats make clear that all these brutal massacres were perpetrated in the context of a formal jihad against the Armenians who had attempted to throw off the yoke of dhimmitude—non-Muslim subjection under Islamic law—by seeking equal rights and autonomy. For example, the Chief Dragoman (Turkish-speaking interpreter) of the British embassy reported, regarding the 1894-96 massacres:

[The perpetrators] are guided in their general action by the prescriptions of the Sheri [Sharia] Law. That law prescribes that if the “rayah” [dhimmi] Christian attempts, by having recourse to foreign powers, to overstep the limits of privileges allowed them by their Mussulman [Muslim] masters, and free themselves from their bondage, their lives and property are to be forfeited, and are at the mercy of the Mussulmans. To the Turkish mind the Armenians had tried to overstep those limits by appealing to foreign powers, especially England. They therefore considered it their religious duty and a righteous thing to destroy and seize the lives and properties of the Armenians.

Historian Bat Ye’or confirms this reasoning, noting that the Armenian quest for reforms invalidated their “legal status,” which involved a “contract” (i.e., with their Muslim Turkish rulers). This

…breach…restored to the umma [the Muslim community] its initial right to kill the subjugated minority [the dhimmis], [and] seize their property…

This most recent attempt to downplay the genocide against the Armenian and Assyrian population under the Ottoman Turks is just yet another reason why politicians ought to be extremely reluctant to associate with this latest MB lobbying group. Unfortunately, as we noted during the USCMO’s national advocacy day, not all lawmakers were willing to distance themselves from the USCMO, despite the presence of a USCMO official who had served as a webmaster for a Taliban fundraising website.

Perhaps this most recent statement downplaying the genocide of over a million Christians will better be able to convince lawmakers that USCMO is not an appropriate partner.

US Muslim Brotherhood Backs Turks on Armenian Genocide

Skulls of Armenians massacred in Urfa, surrounded by Armenian dignitaries and women from the women's shelter in Urfa's Monastery of St. Sarkis in June 1919. (Source: © Wikimedia Commons/AGBU)

Skulls of Armenians massacred in Urfa, surrounded by Armenian dignitaries and women from the women’s shelter in Urfa’s Monastery of St. Sarkis in June 1919. (Source: © Wikimedia Commons/AGBU)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, April21, 2015:

The U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations, a coalition of groups linked to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, defended Turkey ahead of Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day on Friday (April 24).

The Virginia-based Dar al-Hijrah mosque is going a step further and promoting a rally on that day to thank the Turkish government for its support of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The coalition published a statement on Monday, April 20, opposing any recognition of the genocide of Armenian Christians in 1915 by the Ottoman Turks. The USCMO claims that there hasn’t been a “proper investigation of these events by independent historians” and that the holiday risks alienating the Islamist government of Turkey.

The USCMO says it is “the largest umbrella group of mainstream Muslim American organizations.” It includes the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Muslim Alliance in North America, Muslim American Society (MAS), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), the Muslim Legal Fund of America, the Muslim Ummah of North America, The Mosque Cares and, of course, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Additional Council members include the Mosque Foundation, Baitul Maal, the Islamic Center of Wheaton, United Muslim Relief and the American Muslim Alliance.

CAIR is recognized by the Justice Department as a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity with Hamas links. The United Arab Emiratesbanned CAIR and MAS as terrorist groups last year. ICNA teaches subversion and has a war criminal as one of its leaders. The Daily Beast caught AMP condemning the U.S. government’s outlawing of aid to “so-called terrorist organizations” and endorsing violence against Israel.

One of the leaders of USCMO, Mazen Mokhtar, was jailed on charges related to tax fraud, but the indictment laid out his connections to terrorism. He has declared support for Hamas and suicide bombings and ran a website that helped fundraise for Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

When an activist group named the United West approached Mokhtaron Capitol Hill during National Muslim Advocacy Day, he was asked about whether the Muslim Brotherhood exists in America. Moktar responded by repeatedly talking about how nice the weather was. Hussam Ayloush of CAIR responded similarly and said he did not know if the Brotherhood exists in America.

The USCMO statement praises Turkey as a member of NATO that “has taken on a unique regional and global leadership role in ensuring peace and prosperity for all.”

ThankTurkey-300x400Dar al-Hijrah, a large mosque with links to the Brotherhood and Hamas, sent a flyer to its membership promoting a rally on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day to thank the Turkish government for its “unwavering support of the oppressed people of the Middle East and around the world in their quest for ‘freedom and democracy.'”

The Islamist government of Turkey hosts a Hamas terror network and is anunabashed supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood. A “charity” banned as a terrorist front by Germany, Israel and the Netherlands continues to operate in Istanbul and has close ties to President Erdogan and his political party even though it has recruited human shields for Hamas.

The Turkish government is embroiled in a scandal due to its cover-up of its covert aid to Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria named Jabhat al-Nusra. In December, two dozen congressmen asked the Treasury Department to begin sanctioning Turkey for its sponsorship of terrorism.

Far from promoting moderation, the neo-Ottoman Islamism instilled by the Turkish government has resulted in skyrocketing anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism and support for terrorism.  Al-Qaeda’s Syrian wing is the most popular Syrian rebel force in Turkey, with 40% favoring its victory. Another Islamist rebel group, the Islamic Front, comes in second with 24%.

The Erdogan government is also rolling back freedoms and clamping down on social media. It surpasses even North Korea as the number one jailer of journalists. A reporter was just convicted of the “crime” of “liking” a Facebook post denigrating President Erdogan.

That is the Islamist government that the USCMO and Dar al-Hijrah is so fond of.

The rally promoted by Dar al-Hijrah echoes the language that the Turkish government uses to characterize its support of the Brotherhood and Hamas. When President Erdogan, defends the Brotherhood in Egypt, even as it declares jihad, he says he is standing up for “freedom” and “democracy.”

Islamists almost always use such appealing terminology while advancing their less appealing agenda. The Brotherhood’s political wing in Egypt, for example, went by the name of the Freedom and Justice Party instead of its own name.

The flyer distributed by Dar al-Hijrah lists a website: LetHistoryDecide.org. The website is dedicated to denying that the Ottoman Turk massacre of Armenian Christians qualifies as genocide. That is the purpose of the walk.

Dar al-Hijrah was apparently uncomfortable with directly stating the purpose of the event. Readers are led to believe that the event is just about thanking Turkey for supporting freedom. Unmentioned is that the event’s purpose is to push back against Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day and to express appreciation for Turkey’s support for the Brotherhood and Hamas.

On Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, millions of Christians and non-Christians who care for human rights will reflect upon the innocent lives lost at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. These powerful Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups will spend their day differently. They will be busy downplaying the atrocity and praising Turkey for supporting the Islamist ideology that perpetrated it.

Also see:

The Making Of A Dictatorship In Turkey – Part I: On The Road To A Single-Party State

tumblr_mntkp2D0t61su7hqjo1_500MEMRI, April 10, 2015:

The path Turkey has taken under AKP rule has polarized the country and created deep divisions in it. The erosion of separation of powers and the restrictions on the authority and power of formerly independent state institutions leave the over 50% of the Turkish population that does not vote for the AKP fearing the direction in which that party is steering their country – away from democracy and towards an Islamist dictatorship.

Turkey’s judiciary is no longer independent, and the AKP holds a majority in a parliament that unanimously passes all of its own bills, no matter how controversial. Journalists, authors, and citizens of all walks of life are arrested on charges of “insulting” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, or on charges of “membership in armed terrorist organizations” and “plotting a coup to overthrow the government.”[1]Dissidents are labeled traitors, or pawns of the U.S., CIA, Israel, Mossad, or foreign “interest lobbies,” and are often referred to as present-day “Lawrences” (i.e. of Arabia) who are plotting against Turkey and its government. Additionally, protests against these phenomena are dispersed by police with increasing brutality, sometimes leaving protestors dead.

All affairs of state are now decided by one man – President Erdoğan – who is obeyed unconditionally by the members of his party. At this time, in the run-up to the June 2015 parliamentary elections, Erdoğan is speaking to mass gatherings, where he criticizes and attacks the opposition parties, and campaigning for AKP candidates so that the elections will yield 400 MPs (of a total of 550) for a parliamentary majority that can singlehandedly draw up a new constitution that would also change Turkey’s parliamentary system of government to a “Turkish-style presidency,” meaning one without checks and balances.[2]

While under the current parliamentary system the president, sworn to impartiality, is mostly a symbolic figure, Erdoğan operates like an omnipotent and partisan president, overriding even the authority of the head of the executive branch – the prime minister – in violation of the constitution.

Hopes for democracy are dimmed as Turkey marches towards a single-party state in which institutions serve the ruling party, not the country.

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The Kobani Precedent

U.S. Service members stand by a Patriot missile battery in Gaziantep, Turkey, Feb. 4, 2013, during a visit from U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter, not shown. U.S. and NATO Patriot missile batteries and personnel deployed to Turkey in support of NATO’s commitment to defending Turkey’s security during a period of regional instability. (DoD photo by Glenn Fawcett)

U.S. Service members stand by a Patriot missile battery in Gaziantep, Turkey, Feb. 4, 2013, during a visit from U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter, not shown. U.S. and NATO Patriot missile batteries and personnel deployed to Turkey in support of NATO’s commitment to defending Turkey’s security during a period of regional instability. (DoD photo by Glenn Fawcett)

Rubin Center, by Jonathan Spyer, March 25, 2015:

Recently,  I attempted to undertake a reporting trip into the Kurdish Kobani enclave in northern Syria.  It would not have been my first visit, neither to Syria nor to Kobani.  For the first time, however, I found myself unable to enter.  Instead, I spent a frustrating but, as it turns out, instructive four days waiting in the border town of Suruc in south-east Turkey before running out of time and going home.

The episode was instructive because of what it indicated regarding the extent to which Kurdish control in the enclaves established in mid 2012 is now a fact acknowledged by all neighboring players, including the enemies of the Kurds.  This in itself has larger lessons regarding US and western policy in Syria and Iraq.

But I am getting ahead of myself.  First, let me complete the account of the episode on the border.    My intention had been to enter Kobani ‘illegally’ with the help of the Kurdish YPG and local smugglers.  This sounds more exciting than it is.    I have entered Syria in a similar way half a dozen times over the last two years, to the extent that it has become a not very pleasant but mundane procedure. This time, however, something was different.  I was placed in a local center with a number of other westerners waiting to make the trip. Then, it seemed, we were forgotten.

The westerners themselves were  an interesting bunch, whose varied presence was an indication of the curious pattern by which the Syrian Kurdish cause has entered public awareness in the west.

There was a group of European radical leftists, mainly Italians, who had come after being inspired by stories of the ‘Rojava revolution.’  A little noted element of the control by the Syrian franchise of the PKK of de facto sovereign areas of Syria has been the interest that this has generated in the circles of the western radical left.  These circles are ever on the lookout for something which allows their politics to encounter reality, in a way that does not bring immediate and obvious disaster.  As of now, ‘Rojava,’ given the leftist credentials of the PKK, is playing this role.  So the Europeans in question  wanted to ‘contribute’ to what they called the ‘revolution.’

Unfortunately, their preferred mode of support was leading to a situation of complete mutual bewilderment between themselves and the local Kurds.   Offered military training by their hosts, the radical leftists demurred.  They would not hold a gun for Rojava before they had seen it and been persuaded that it did indeed represent the peoples’ revolution that they hoped for.

Instead, they had a plan for the rebuilding of Kobani along sustainable and environmentally friendly lines, using natural materials  In addition, the health crisis and shortage of medicines in the devastated enclave led the radicals to believe that this might offer an appropriate context for popularizing various items of alternative and naturopathic medicine about which they themselves were enthusiastic.  (I’m not making any of this up).

All this had elicited the predictable reaction from the Kurds, who were trying to manage a humanitarian disaster and a determined attempt by murderous jihadis to destroy  them.  ‘Perhaps you could do the military training first and then we could talk about the other stuff?’ suggested Fawzia, the nice and helpful representative of the PYD who was responsible for us.  This led to further impassioned and theatrical responses from the Italians.

***

Why is the YPG the chosen partner of the Americans in northern Syria, just as the Kurdish Pesh Merga further east is one of the preferred partners on the ground in Iraq?

The answer to this is clear, but not encouraging.  It is because in both countries, the only reliable, pro-western and militarily effective element on the ground is that of the Kurds.

Consider:  in northern Syria, other than the forces of the Islamic State, there are three other elements of real military and political import.  These are the forces of the Assad regime, the al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra and the YPG.

In addition, there are a bewildering variety of disparate rebel battalions, with loyalties ranging from Salafi Islamism to Muslim Brotherhood style Islamism, to non-political opposition to the Assad regime.  Some of these groups operate independently.  Others are gathered in local alliances such as the Aleppo based Jabhat al-Shamiya (Levant Front), or the Syria-wide Islamic Front, which unites Salafi factions.

Despite the reported existence of a US staffed military operations room in Turkey, the latter two movements are either too weak, or too politically suspect (because of their Islamist nature), to form a potential partner for the US in northern Syria.

Nusra is for obvious reasons not a potential partner for the US in the fight against the Islamic State.  And the US continues to hold to its stated  goal that Bashar Assad should step down.  So the prospect of an overt alliance between the regime and the US against the Islamic State is not on the cards (despite the de facto American alliance with Assad’s  Iran-supported Shia Islamist allies in Iraq).

This leaves the Kurds, and only the Kurds, to work with.  And the un-stated alliance is sufficiently tight for it to begin to have effects also on Turkish-Kurdish relations in Syria, as seen in the Suleiman Shah operation.

But what are the broader implications of this absence of any other coherent partner on the ground?

The stark clarity of the northern Syria situation is replicated in all essentials in Iraq, though a more determined attempt by the US to deny this reality is under way in that country.

In Iraq, there is a clear and stated enemy of the US (the Islamic State), a clear and stated Kurdish ally of the west (the Kurdish Regional Government and its Pesh Merga) and an Iran-supported government which controls the capital and part of the territory of the country.

Unlike in Syria, however, in Iraq the US relates to the official government, mistakenly, as an ally.  This is leading to a potentially disastrous situation  whereby US air power is currently partnering with Iran-supported Shia militias against the Islamic State.

The most powerful of these militias have a presence in the government of Iraq. But they do not act under the orders of the elected Baghdad government, but rather in coordination with their sponsors in the Qods Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.

It is possible that the current partnering with Shia Islamist forces in Iraq is the result of a general US attempt now under way to achieve a historic rapprochement with Iran, as suggested by Michael Doran in a recent essay.  Or it may be that this reality has emerged as a result of poor analysis of the realities of the Levant and Iraq, resulting in a confused and flailing policy.  But either way, the result is an astonishing mess.

In northern Syria, the obvious absence of any partners other than the Kurds has produced a momentary tactical clarity.  But as the larger example of Iraq shows, this clarity is buried in a much larger strategic confusion.

This confusion, at root, derives from a failure to grasp what is taking place in Syria and in Iraq.

In both countries, the removal or weakening of powerful dictatorships has resulted in the emergence of conflict based on older, sub-state ethnic and sectarian identities.  The strength and persistence of these identities is testimony to the profound failure of the states of Syria and Iraq to develop anything resembling a sustainable national identity.  In both Syria and Iraq, the resultant conflict is essentially three-sided.  Sunni Arabs, Shia/Alawi Arabs and Kurds are fighting over the ruins of the state.

Because of the lamentable nature of Arab politics at the present time, the form that both Arab sides are taking is that of political Islam.   On the Shia side, the powerful Iranian structures dedicated to the creation and sponsorship of proxy movements are closely engaged with the clients in both countries (and in neighboring Lebanon.)

On the Sunni Arab side, a bewildering tangle of support from different regional and western states to various militias has emerged.  But two main formations may be discerned. These are the Islamic State, which has no overt state sponsor, and Jabhat al-Nusra, which has close links to Qatar.

In southern Syria, a western attempt to maintain armed forces linked to conservative and western-aligned Arab states (Jordan, Saudi Arabia) has proved somewhat more successful because of the close physical proximity of Jordan and the differing tribal and clan structures in this area when compared with the north.  Even here, however, Nusra is a powerful presence, and Islamic State itself recently appeared in the south Damascus area.

The Kurds, because of the existence among them of a secular, pro-western nationalist politics with real popular appeal, have unsurprisingly emerged as the only reliable partner.    On both the Shia and the Sunni sides, the strongest and prevailing forces are anti-western.

This reality is denied  both by advocates for rapprochement with Iran, and by wishful-thinking supporters of the Syrian rebellion.  But it remains so.  What are its implications for western policy?

Firstly, if the goal is to degrade the Islamic State, reduce it, split it, impoverish it, this can probably be achieved through the alliance of US air power and Kurdish ground forces.  But if the desire, genuinely, is to destroy the Islamic State, this can only be achieved through the employment of western boots on the ground.  This is the choice which is presented by reality.

Secondly, the desire to avoid this choice is leading to the disastrous partnering with Iraqi Shia forces loyal to Iran.  The winner from all this will be, unsurprisingly,  Iran. Neither Teheran nor its Shia militias are the moral superiors to Islamic State. The partnering with them is absurd both from a political and an ethical point of view.

Thirdly, the determination to maintain the territorial integrity of ‘Syria’ and ‘Iraq’ is one of the midwives of the current confusion.  Were it to be acknowledged that Humpty cannot be put back together again, it would then be possible to accurately ascertain which local players the west can partner with, and which it can not.

As of now, the determination to consider these areas as coherent states is leading to absurdities including the failure by the US to directly arm the pro-US Pesh Merga because the pro-Iranians in Baghdad object to this, the failure to revive relations with and directly supply Iraqi Sunni tribal elements in IS controlled areas for the same reason,  and the insistence on relating to all forces ostensibly acting on behalf of Baghdad as legitimate.

Ultimately, the mess in the former Syria and Iraq derives from a very western form of wishful thinking that is common to various sides of the debate in the west.  This is the refusal to accept that political Islam, of both Shia and Sunni varieties, has an unparalleled power of political mobilization among Arab populations in the Middle East at the present time, and that political Islam is a genuinely anti-western force, with genuinely murderous intentions.

For as long as that stark reality is denied, western policy will resemble our Italian leftist friends on the border, baffled and bewildered as they go about proposing ideas and notions utterly alien to and irrelevant to the local situation.

The reality of this situation means that the available partners for the west are minority nationalist projects  such as that of the Kurds (or the Jews,) and traditional, non-ideological conservative elites – such as the Egyptian military, the Hashemite monarchs, and in a more partial and problematic way, the Gulf monarchs.  Attempts to move beyond this limited but considerable array of potential allies will result in the strengthening of destructive, anti-western Islamist forces in the region, of either Sunni or Shia coloration.

As for the Syrian Kurds, they deserve their partnership with US air power, and the greater security it is bringing them.

The American Baptist volunteer, to conclude the story, made it across the border and is now training with the YPG.  He, at least, has a clear sense of who is who in the Middle East.  Hopefully, this sense will eventually percolate up to the policymaking community too.

Read it all

Official in Turkey’s Ruling Party Refers to President Erdogan as ‘Caliph’

Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, received Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, after passing between two columns of 16 troops, each dressed in the warrior regalia of past Turkic states, bearing period armour and toting weapons ranging from swords to lancers. Adem Altan/AFP via Getty Images

Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, received Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, after passing between two columns of 16 troops, each dressed in the warrior regalia of past Turkic states, bearing period armour and toting weapons ranging from swords to lancers.
Adem Altan/AFP via Getty Images

CSP, by Aaron Kliegman, March 19, 2015:

An official in Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) caused controversy this week by tweeting that the country should “get ready for the caliphate” and referred to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as “caliph.”

Fuat Özgür Çalapkulu, the man who wrote the tweet on March 17, is the head of the AKP in the southeastern province of Siirt. He was responding to Erdogan’s opponents who object to the Turkish leader’s plan to change Turkey’s government from a parliamentary system to a presidential system. Erdogan would be the leader, thus giving him more power.

Erdogan’s main criticism came from Selahattin Demirtaş, pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chair, who said his party “will never let you [Erdogan] be president” in such a proposed system of government. Çalapkulu was mainly countering this statement with his tweet and also referred to past comments by Erdogan opponents that the leader could not even be a village headman (muhtar).

Çalapkulu backed off his words, however, after receiving harsh reactions because of them. On March 19, he changed his Twitter account to private so that only confirmed followers can see his comments and released a written statement saying he had a different meaning for the term caliph.

Part of his statement reads, “I use this word to refer to a leader who has command of all the problems, institutions and administration of his country; a leader who is the independent and powerful voice of the world’s downtrodden; the protector of the oppressed; a good, successful, pioneering and visionary leader.”

It is possible that Çalapkulu did not mean to use the title caliph with its full religious connotations or was being facetious, but the tweet is worth noting given Turkey’s increasing Islamic identity and pivot away from the West under Erdogan’s rule.

More importantly, the AKP official is not the first person to refer to Erdogan as a caliph, in jest or not. Some of Erdogan’s followers have called him this title before and essentially pledged allegiance to him like many have been doing recently to Abu Baker al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

Furthermore, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the most influential clerics in Sunni Islam and spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, has said that Istanbul, Turkey is the capital of the coming caliphate and has suggested that Erdogan is blessed by Allah and could be the one to lead the Islamic world order.

Çalapkulu may have been joking or using caliph in a non-literal way, but in its full context the AKP official’s tweet is part of a larger narrative where Turkey is becoming more Islamic and identified, at least by some, as a central part of a future caliphate. In fact, Erdogan and the AKP have actually perpetuated this image and a neo-Ottoman atmosphere. Erdogan’s religious-based policies and centralization of power are helping in this endeavor.

***

Speaking of images, have you seen Erdogan’s “White Palace”?

Why Did A Turkish Paper Target Canada for a Smear?

4227093981CSP, by Kyle Shideler, march 12, 2015:

Daily Sabah article alleges that Turkish security has detained an agent of the Canadian intelligence for having assisted three British girls for traveling to Syria to join the Islamic State:

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said yesterday that an intelligence agent from a country that is a member of the anti-ISIS coalition had helped the three British girls join the group in Syria. While Foreign Ministry officials refused to comment on the nationality of the agent, security forces reached by Daily Sabah found the agent is suspected to be a spy working for Canada.

The story grabs headlines because of the tie in to the three British girls who recently disappeared from the U.K headed for the Islamic State. Media outlets are now widely covering the story, all citing from the Daily Sabah piece. Daily Sabah is noted for being  supportive of the ruling Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP.) Few of the media covering the story noted, as the Wall Street Journal did, this interesting point:

Within an hour of the statement, several Turkish pro-government media outlets published reports quoting senior government sources claiming the operative worked for Canadian intelligence.

Given the timing, and the curious nature of the Turkish Foreign Minister’s comments, the whole story suggests an information operation is currently underway. Canadian sources have already pushed back, with Canadian Broadcasting running the strongest version of the Canadian government’s denial:

Some Turkish media accounts suggested the detained person may have been a Canadian citizen or from Canada. CBC News has confirmed this is not the case. The suspected individual is neither a Canadian citizen nor a Canadian Security Intelligence Service employee, CBC News has learned.

Perhaps the most curious question, is, why Canada and why now? There are a number of possible scenarios:

Possibility number one is that the story is true, an agent was arrested and the agent was a Canadian intelligence asset. Even if this were the case, for example, if the agent either was doubled and ended up supporting Islamic State, or if the operation simply went awry, the Turkish decision to out the agent, from an allied (NATO) country seems highly unusual. Why then choose to release the information? We can note this odd quote allegedly from the Prime Minister’s office:

“The statement said that capture of the intelligence officer “showcased a complex problem involving intelligence wars. This incident should be a message to those always blaming Turkey on the debate on the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, and shows it is a problem more complicated than a mere border security issue. Turkey will continue its call for stronger intelligence sharing, and is worried about the lack of intelligence sharing in a matter involving the lives of three young girls,” the statement said.

The statement suggests an attempt by the Turks to deflect criticism of their handling of Islamic State supporters crossing the border, and lay the blame on the Western intelligence services, for a lack of sharing, while playing into popular conspiracy theories that the Islamic State is the creation of Western intelligence.

Alternatively of course, the story could be true, and an agent was arrested, but the agent was NOT a Canadian asset. Or the story is wholly false, and there is no agent. Both of which make the decision to finger a Canadian culprit even more curious. Regardless of which scenario ends up being true, the question remains:

Why go out of the way to leak specifics and point the finger at Canada? Canada seems a curious choice to target, even if the goal is to redirect the blame for Islamic State’s recruitment on the West and distract from Turkey’s own border security problems. Blaming MI-6 or the American CIA would seem to resonate better with the audiences in the Middle East.

Is it possible that the choice of Canada as a target has less to do with Turkey and its relationship vis-a-vis the Islamic State, and more to do with the ongoing situation in Canada, where the government is attempting to revise and expand the capability of its domestic intelligence agency to investigate and disrupt threats?

Consider that Canada has already conducted an aggressive investigation, Project Sapphire, which cracked down on Islamic organizations allegedly involved in fundraising for Hamas through Muslim Brotherhood networks which are now under greater scrutiny. The successful passage of Canada’s Anti-Terrorism Act of 2015 would like put additional pressure on those networks, and could lead to a direct targeting of the Muslim Brotherhood in Canada.

Why would the Turkish government care? Because Turkey itself, has been repeatedly noted for its close ties and funding for Hamas, and its relationship with key Global Muslim Brotherhood figures like chief jurist Yusuf Al Qaradawi. Qaradawi himself has confirmed the Ikhwan’s close ties to Ankara. An opportunity to direct attention away form Turkish failings regarding Islamic State, as well as to throw a wrench into Canadian internal discussions on how best to strengthen their intelligence agencies, may have been an appealing opportunity that the Islamist government in Turkey couldn’t bring itself to pass up.

Also see:

Shoebat: The Ottoman Conquest Of The Middle East Begins

By Walid Shoebat (Shoebat Exclusive)

Turkish soldiers launched an overnight raid into neighboring Syria sending 600 ground forces backed by  a combination of 100 tanks and armored vehicles crossing the border near the border town of Kobani. There were also drones and airplanes flew reconnaissance missions overhead as Davutoglu disclosed on Sunday today.

The mission, they claim, is for “saving Turkish soldiers” stuck for months at the tomb of the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, moving the crypt Sunday back to Turkey after ceremonially planting the country’s crescent-and-star flag after destroying the complex where the tomb is located. ISIS who are Wahhabist are notorious for blowing up tombs and do not approve of elevating tombs above the ground or having folks visiting tombs.

But that is not the full scoop.

The military operation commenced as one group traveled to the tomb, some 22 miles from Turkey on the banks of the Euphrates River in Syria’s embattled Aleppo province where the remains where, Davutoglu said while another groupseized an area of Syrian territory only yards from the Turkish border in Syria’s Ashma region, according to a statement from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office.

“Before the Turkish flag was lowered at (the tomb), the Turkish flag started to be waved at another location in Syria,” Davutoglu said.

Turkey is not simply moving the remains of the Ottoman bones back home to Turkey where it belongs, the Turkish Prime Minister emphasized the transfer of the remains is “temporarily moved to Turkey to be buried later back in Syria, and ensuring the security zone in Syrian territory in the town of Ashma, which is only a few kilometers from the border, to later re-transfer the remains of Suleiman Shah back to Syria in the coming days.”

So Turkey now has technically invaded Syria, as Shoebat.com continually predicted will happen, and is camped in Ashma which is Syrian, not Turkish territory, raising its flag there declaring Syrian land as Turkish soil while antagonizing Syria to dare retaliate.

This is what makes this a major news piece.

 

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In reply to the incident, Syria’s official source at the Foreign Ministry denounced what it called a “blatant aggression” by Turkey saying that:

“Turkey is not here only to provide all forms of support and tools for ISIS gangs and other terrorist organizations linked to al-Qaeda, but at the dawn of day they traveled here to show aggression on Syrian territory.”

The Syrians are absolutely correct.

It is for this reason that Syria announced the Turkish military incursion into Syria as “a military invasion of Syrian soil”. That, plus, ISIS has never blown up Ottoman tombs and has always only returned Turkish hostages unharmed while executing all other nationalities.

Turkey is using the tomb to invade Syria since the tomb is considered sovereign territory by Turkey, and they consider their claim to it being protected by a 1921 treaty, but this does not include the new Syrian territory that Turkey is laying claims to at Ashma regionTurkey in fact was caught when leaked recordings of previous plans by Turkey for an invasion using the tomb as an excuse.

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The U.S.-led coalition forces were informed of the Turkish operation after its launch to prevent any casualties, Davutoglu said.

Read more

Also see:

Report: Qatar to banish Hamas’ Mashaal, who will relocate to Turkey

Hamas’ political bureau, is expected to leave his base in the Qatari capital of Doha and relocate to Turkey, Turkish press reports indicated on Tuesday.

Qatar has reportedly been under pressure from the international community to cease serving as a host of organizations considered by the West to be terrorist groups.

Hamas on Tuesday denied reports that Mashaal has been expelled from Qatar.

“There is no truth to what some media outlets have published over the departure by brother Khaled Meshaal from Doha,” Hamas official Ezzat al-Rishq told Reuters by telephone.

Another Hamas source confirmed that Mashaal was still in Doha and has no plans to leave the country.

The ruling family in Doha has been accused of providing financial and political support to Hamas and other extremist groups in the Middle East.

Last year, the emir of Qatar denied accusations that the Gulf sheikhdom is a sponsor and supporter of Islamist terrorist organizations.

In an interview with CNN, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani rejected suggestions that the groups that Doha was backing were terrorist in nature.

“We have to see the difference between movements,” Al-Thani told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “I know that in America and some other countries they look at some movements as terrorist movements. In our part of the region, we don’t.”

The Qatari leader did say that his government opposed “certain movements in Syria and Iraq,” a reference to the Islamic State. He denied accusations that Qatar was funding IS or that his government was turning a blind eye to private citizens’ activities in support of the group.

In the interview, Al-Thani never mentioned Hamas by name, despite the fact that his government is known to provide financial support to the Palestinian Islamist movement.

Israeli officials have denounced Qatar for backing Hamas.

Earlier this year, Israel’s envoy to the UN, Ron Prosor wrote an op-ed for The New York Times in which he deemed Qatar “the Club Med for terrorists.”

“In recent years, the sheikhs of Doha, Qatar’s capital, have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Gaza,” Prosor wrote. “Every one of Hamas’s tunnels and rockets might as well have had a sign that read ‘Made possible through a kind donation from the Emir of Qatar.’”

Also see:

The War On Israel and the Middle East

Frontpage:

Below are the video and transcript to the panel discussion “The War on Israel and the Middle East,” which took place at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 20th Anniversary Restoration Weekend. The event was held Nov. 13th-16th at the Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Florida. 

Daniel Pipes: I’d like to make three geostrategic points in my few minutes, and I apologize in advance for having to leave, but the plane schedule is as it is. The first point is that — and this has been said before, I’d like to reiterate it — that Iran is a far greater threat than ISIS, and we are making an extraordinary mistake in joining with the Iranians against ISIS. Need one point out that ISIS has perhaps $5 million a day in oil revenue and 15,000 troops and, granted, a dynamism, but that Iran is a powerful state of 75 million people, an oil revenue in the hundreds of millions of dollars, billions of dollars, and an army of hundreds of thousands and, of course, a terror network and is building up their weapons? I would predict to you, ladies and gentleman, that ISIS, which appeared so suddenly, will disappear suddenly as well because it has so many enemies, it is so overextended, it is trying to do so much at the same time that it is going to collapse before very long and it is going to disappear as a state whereas Iran is going to be a longer lasting entity.

Let me also predict that the real importance of ISIS, Islamic state, ISIL, Daesh, call it what you will, lies not in this sizeable state that now exists between Bagdad and Turkey but rather in the resurrection of the idea of the caliphate. The last executive caliph with power was in the 940s — 940s, not 1940s — a long, long time ago. Yes, the institution of the caliphate continued until 1924, but it was meaningless. It was just a title. The actual caliphate, executive caliphate, disappeared over a millennium ago and then suddenly, this man who calls himself Caliphate Ibrahim resurrected it on June 29, 2014, and this has sent a frisson of excitement through the Muslim world, and this has created the notion of a feasible caliphate once again after having been gone for a millennium, and this is important. I can well imagine other groups taking up this same standard and demanding that they be accepted as the caliphate. I can further imagine that states such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and even Iran in its own Shiite way taking up the claim of caliphate and so this turns Islamist politics into an even more radical direction than it has been in the past and therefore is a very negative development, but that is an idea, and the notion that the U.S. government should be working with Iran against ISIS is madness, just simple madness.

Iran is the ultimate enemy, which is my second point. Iran is of course the ultimate enemy today. The acquisition by Iranian leadership of nuclear weapons will not only change the Middle East but will change the world. Other tyrants have had nuclear weapons — think of Stalin and Mao — but there’s something different about this group of tyrants in that they’re thinking about the end of days. They’re apocalyptically minded. They have ideas that, were they to deploy nuclear weapons, they would bring forward the days of the Mahdi, the Dajjal, and the other sequence events leading to the day of resurrection, so they are even more dangerous. Now, I could have a nice seminar extending for hours on whether they actually would deploy nuclear weapons or not, but I don’t want to find out, and I suspect you don’t either. It is absolutely imperative that they be stopped from doing that and that would not be easy because the Iranian leadership, like the North Korean leadership, is absolutely determined to get nuclear weapons and will pay whatever price is necessary. In North Korea it was mass starvation. In Iran, it will be economic deprivation and other problems, but they’re going to go ahead and while computer viruses and targeted assassinations and bombings, which have been taking place, will certainly slow things down, they cannot stop it. The only way to stop it is through use of force against the Iranian nuclear installations.

So, that I think is all pretty clear, but I’m going to go beyond that and say that when the happy day comes that the Islamic Revolution of Iran is overthrown — and that is a prospect that is real; we saw one run up toward it in June 2009 and it was suppressed, but it wasn’t eliminated and there will be further attempts — and it is certain that one of these days, the Islamic Republic will collapse. When that happens, I suggest to you, the Iranian people who are sick of this ideological state will become quite friendly. Posts show that the overwhelming majority of Iranians hate their government and hate the Islam that their government is purveying. I think that Iranians will be good friends when that day comes.

In contrast, I think our great problem in the Middle East will be Turkey. Turkey, which is also a very substantial state of some 80 million people and which is in an important strategic location, has a real economy, an educated population. Turkey has approached Islamism – well, the Turkish leadership has approached Islamism — in a far more intelligent way than the Iranians. I call Khomeini, “Islamism 1.0,” and Erdogan, “Islamism 2.0.” Khomeini used revolution and violence and so forth and his successor rules despotically, but Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the dominant figure of Turkish politics, is a far more clever figure who has won I think nine elections in 13 years of various sorts, parliamentary, referendum, residential, has tripled the size of the economy and is a figure of enormous importance and popularity in the country. He has a very strong base. This is a not a despotism. Now, granted, over time, he’s becoming increasingly authoritarian, autocratic, unpleasant, decisive, but he has won his place democratically, and he will last and his regime will last much longer than Khomeini’s, and I believe as one looks at 10-20 years in the future, it will be Turkey, not Iran, that will be our great problem and that we should be preparing for that today.

Read more with Ken Timmerman, Daniel Greenfield and Caroline Glick

Qatar: A Change of Heart? Or merely rearranging the Camels?

qatar_awareness_campaign_logoBy William Michael:

An Update from the Qatar Awareness Campaign

Several recent news reports point to the possibility that Qatar, the host nation of the Muslim Brotherhood, may be genuine in their attempt to reconcile with their Arab neighbors.  After expelling the Qataris and isolating them diplomatically, the United Arab Emirate, Saudi Arabia, and even Egypt appear to have reached an accord with Doha.  The Nazi-rooted Muslim Brotherhood was long ago banished from Saudi Arabia (in the late 1920s), and Egypt has violently suppressed them many times, notably after the assassination of Sadat.  Yet the daily report out of the Middle East suggests that KSA, UAE, and Egypt may really welcome Doha back into the family.

Consider:

  • Yesterday, it was reported that Qatar pledged to stop funding Hamas – truly remarkable, if true.
  • A few months ago, they expelled prominent members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • An Interpol arrest warrant has been issued for Yusuf al-Qaradawi (the Muslim Brotherhood’s “spiritual leader”), and he will no longer broadcasting on Al Jazeera (if reports are to be believed).

It is possible that the month-long Qatar Awareness Campaign, which issued an open letter to nearly 30 companies, universities, individuals, and politicians who benefited financially from a relationship with terror-sponsoring Qatar, had something to do with this apparent change of heart.  The campaign identified Qatar as the primary sponsor of Islamic terror, with connections across the Middle East and North Africa to groups such as Hamas, ISIS, and Boko Haram.

But, there is another explanation for this apparent change of heart which, given Qatar’s two-faced nature, may be more realistic.

The MB could simply be shifting their bases of operation, leaving their financial hub, Qatar, alone (for the moment), thus providing their wealthy benefactor with the good press to alleviate them of the international pressure. For over the past four months, the world press had suddenly taken notice of the corrupt Gulf terror state, and its causing them trouble. FC Barcelona, for example, dropped their sponsorship deal Qatar Foundation over Qatar’s financing of Hamas.

The evidence for this “camel rearranging” is as follows:

  • Turkey, a close ally of Qatar and Muslim Brotherhood proxy themselves, welcomed the expelled Muslim Brothers from Qatar.
  • Qatar and Turkey recently reaffirmed their mutual support for “oppressed peoples” – i.e., Islamists in secularly governed countries, and Hamas in Gaza.
  • Other MB expelled from Qatar have gone to Libya, where the UAE/Egypt are in a proxy war with Qatar.
  • Hamas has been removed from the EU list of terrorist groups, providing more flexibility to terrorists in Palestine.
  • The White House (Obama) tacitly threatened to sanction Israel, and remains extremely hostile to Netanyahu.
  • Qatar’s reconciliation with their Gulf neighbors appears to be directly related to lower oil prices, which have crippled Russia’s economy and hurt Iran (Russia and Iran being no friends of Saudi Arabia).  This also directly affects Syria, a Russian and Iranian client state that is under siege by Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood, elements in Saudi Arabia, and the Obama administration.
  • ISIS is preparing to attack Israel.

Another development to take into account is the increasingly sharp language of the conservative press aimed at Obama and the Islamists.  We may finally be reaching a point where, sooner or later, the mainstream press is going to have to face up to the possibility that Obama is not who he says he is, but in fact an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Consider, the cop killer in NYC worked for Islamic Society of North America, and the president of ISNA is a close Obama advisor, including to DHS and the National Security Council.  The truth is getting harder to ignore.  As many people who have spent the time investigating Obama’s roots and connections have determined, the real threat to world peace is not in fact Qatar, but the Obama administration.

Now is truly the time to make the case that the administration is the North American branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, the parent organization of Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, Taliban, and Hamas.  It must be done for posterity, before it is too late!

Let the chips fall where they may – the future belongs to the brave.

Turkey-based Hamas Leader Well Known to US Law Enforcement

IPT News
December 19, 2014

1105It has been a busy year of plotting death and destruction for Hamas leadership. As we noted Thursday, Hamas has three key operating bases in three separate locations – Gaza, Qatar and Turkey.

The Turkish operation may be the most active in plotting terror attacks. And the man who runs that base, Saleh Al-Arouri, has risen to prominence as a result. Al-Arouri has been linked to a series of terrorist plots and attacks primarily aimed at West Bank targets, an area where the terrorist group hopes to regain strength and popular support.

As a new Investigative Project on Terrorism report on Al-Arouri shows, while his infamy may be relatively new, his efforts to help Hamas foment terror date back years and are well known among American prosecutors and investigators.

Al-Arouri is a longtime Hamas military commander who operates openly in Turkey, a NATO member country and ostensibly an ally of the United States and the West.

He was the first Hamas official to acknowledge the group’s responsibility for the June abduction and murder of three Jewish teenagers in Israel.

Naftali Fraenkel, one of the murdered teens, was a U.S. citizen. The U.S. government is authorized to investigate and prosecute murder and attempted murder of U.S. citizens committed in foreign countries under Title 18, Section 2332 of the United States Code. This statutory authority is the basis for the FBI and other federal agencies to investigate many foreign terror attacks against U.S. citizens and for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to bring U.S. criminal charges against the perpetrators of such attacks.

U.S. law allows victims of foreign terror attacks to sue those responsible. Foreign state sponsors of terrorism that are officially designated as such by the U.S. governmentalso can be civilly liable for terror actions against the U.S. Turkey, of course, is not a U.S. designated state sponsor of terrorism.

In August, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the founder and director of the Israeli NGO law center Shurat HaDin, wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting the U.S. government investigate, prosecute and extradite Al-Arouri from Turkey on charges related to Fraenkel’s murder.

Such legal action would not be the first time Al-Arouri’s name appeared in federal court proceedings. In 2003, three Hamas operatives were indicted in Chicago for a racketeering conspiracy. Those operatives were Hamas political leader Mousa Abu Marzook, and Chicago residents Muhammad Salah and Abdelhaleem Ashqar. Marzook was in Syria and was never tried under the indictment. Salah and Ashqar were ultimately convicted of obstruction and contempt violations and sentenced to prison terms.

Al-Arouri was named among the “Hamas Co-Conspirators” in a superseding indictment in that case. Al-Arouri was described as a high-ranking Hamas military leader dating back to his role as a Hamas student cell leader at Hebron University in the early 1990s.” He received “tens of thousands of dollars for Hamas-related activities” from Salah which were used to buy weapons for terrorist attacks, the indictment said.

In addition, Al-Arouri appears in a 1999 federal court ruling involving a civil forfeiture action against Muhammad Salah. The court order described a 1992 trip Salah took to Israel and the Palestinian territories. There, he “funneled approximately $100,000 to an alleged HAMAS operative, Salah Al-Arouri, which, according to both Salah and Al-Arouri, was used to purchase weapons. Al-Arouri allegedly admitted to Israeli officials that he gave an individual named Musa Dudin approximately $45,000 of the money he received from Salah so that Dudin could purchase weapons in September 1992. Al-Arouri further related that Dudin purchased the weapons as planned and that these weapons were subsequently used in terrorist attacks, including a suicide attack resulting in the murder of an Israeli soldier in Hebron in October 1992.”

That was among a series of terrorist attacks “supported with weapons and money provided by Al-Arouri with funds he received from Salah” that led Israel to deport 415 Hamas operatives to Lebanon in December 1992, the court ruling noted.

As mentioned, Al-Arouri operates openly in Turkey. The first statement admitting that Hamas was responsible for kidnapping Fraenkel and two other students came during an August gathering of Islamic clerics. From that base, Israeli officials say, Al-Arouri also plotted a coup against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. If Al-Arouri succeeded, it would dramatically threaten U.S. national security interests in the region.

American law enforcement has the power to investigate Al-Arouri for killing Fraenkel, the American teenager. Failure to do so only enables his incessant plotting to kill people in Israel and, perhaps, his Palestinian foes.

Read the full report on Saleh Al-Arouri here.

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