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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Also see:

Hamas’s International Triangle of Bases: Gaza, Turkey and Qatar

by Yaakov Lappin
Special to IPT News
December 18, 2014

1104In recent years, the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas has developed into a truly international entity. Today, it enjoys three territorial bases of operation: Gaza, the seat of the Hamas regime, Turkey, and Qatar.

According to Israeli intelligence estimates, each base serves a different purpose. The three branches have worked, alternatively, in harmony and in discord, together and independently, in line with the various terrorist activities they pursue.

“These are not the same leaderships,” one security source said, speaking of the Hamas command structure in each base.

“Qatar is home to Hamas’s political branch, headed by Khaled Meshaal. In Turkey [in the city of Istanbul], Hamas maintains a military branch headquarters, which sets up terrorist infrastructure. This headquarters is comprised partly of former Hamas prisoners who were ejected from Israel during the [2011] Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange. In Gaza, there are both military and political operatives.”

Each branch plays a unique role, and relations between them fluctuate.

Hamas’s headquarters in Istanbul is headed by Salah Al-Arouri, a senior figure in the military wing who is focused on rejuvenating Hamas terrorism cells in the West Bank, and using it as a springboard for orchestrating deadly attacks against Israel.

Gaza is home to the main military wing, the Ezzedin Al-Qassam Brigades, whose operatives focus on building up their offensive rocket capabilities, tunnel networks, and, like Arouri, they also seek to also set up West Bank terrorism cells.

On Thursday, Hamas held what is described as its largest military exercise since the summer war against Israel.

Gaza is also home to Hamas’s political wing, headed by Ismail Haniyeh.

“They all have their own interests. Those in Gaza have one point of view, those abroad have another. There have, in the past, been disagreements,” the source said.

One example of such internal conflict was the dispute between Khaled Meshaal and Hamas in Gaza over when to end the summer war with Israel. Meshaal pushed Hamas to continue the fighting, despite growing calls by Hamas in Gaza to agree to a ceasefire. The conflicting positions were partly the result of geography: Hamas in Gaza had a better real time understanding of the heavy costs Israel was inflicting on it during the fighting than the overseas Meshaal, who, from his luxurious Qatari surroundings, could afford the privilege of calling for more fighting.

Nevertheless, a basic level of cooperation and consent exists among all three branches. Saleh Al-Arouri in Turkey would not have embarked on a major mission to set up a large-scale Hamas terrorist network in the West Bank, plan atrocities against Israel, and aim to topple the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, without approval from Khaled Meshaal and Hamas in Gaza.

Cooperation may not always be close, but it exists.

“There are connections,” the security source said. “Hamas in Gaza is connected to those trying to orchestrate terrorism in Judea and Samaria. There is a circle of cooperation.”

Arouri could seek and receive assistance from Gaza, as he has done, but he can also try to work independently. “There are no laws,” the source stressed.

In recent months, the Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency] uncovered two intricate Hamas terror plots to inflict mass-casualty attacks on Israelis, and to weaken Fatah in the West Bank. Both were tied to Arouri.

This discovery has led Israeli defense chiefs to become more vocal about the Hamas base in Turkey.

“Hamas’s terrorism headquarters are in Gaza and in Istanbul. It is unbelievable that a NATO member is hosting the headquarters of a terrorist organization in its territory,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told his Spanish counterpart earlier this month.

“We have stopped a coup planned by Hamas, which was organized in, among other places, its Turkish headquarters, against [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] Abu Mazen in Judea and Samaria. We saved him from this revolution. Hence, there is much significance and importance in our having freedom to operate security-wise in Judea and Samaria,” Ya’alon stated.

Likewise, at the end of November, the Shin Bet and IDF announced that they had broken up a large-scale international Hamas terrorist infrastructure that was in the planning stages of multiple mass-casualty attacks, including an intended bombing of a soccer stadium in Jerusalem.

The plot included car bombings, bombing Jerusalem’s light rail system, and targeting Israelis overseas.

This case illustrates the growing centrality of Istanbul to Hamas terror activities in the West Bank. Hamas’s headquarters in Turkey has become a key command and planning center.

Earlier this year, the Shin Bet announced the thwarting of another large Hamas network in the West Bank, set up by Saleh Al-Arouri in Istanbul, and headed locally by a Hamas member in Ramallah.

Hamas funneled more than a million shekels [more than $250,000] to terror operatives to prepare a series of attacks, which were designed to allow it to shift attention away from Gaza, and ultimately lead to the fall of the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority, according to Israeli investigation. This would be achieved by provoking Israel into harsh responses in the West Bank, destabilizing the area and leading to the toppling of the PA.

Hamas has come a long way since the days when its founders, Muslim Brotherhood operatives in the Palestinian territories, set up indoctrination and social support centers.

Today, it is an international terrorist organization, which continues to plot new ways to murder and maim Israelis from its various bases, while it dreams of setting up a second Islamist-jihadist regime in the West Bank, as it did in Gaza.

Yaakov Lappin is the Jerusalem Post’s military and national security affairs correspondent, and author of The Virtual Caliphate (Potomac Books), which proposes that jihadis on the internet have established a virtual Islamist state.

Turkey, Friend or Foe?

turkish-prime-minister-turkey-436x350by Kenneth R. Timmerman:

As the battle for the Syrian border city of Kobani raged and prospects of an ISIS-led massacre of thousands of innocent civilians loomed this fall, the BBC interviewed the vice-chairman of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP Party in Ankara.

Why hadn’t Turkey responded to NATO’s request to launch joint military operations to halt the ISIS assault on Kobani? How could Turkey just sit back and watch so many innocent civilians die, BBC correspondent Jonathan Marcus asked.

The replies from Yasin Aktay are telling.

“Why is Kobani the most important problem?” he asked. “There is no tragedy in Kobani as cried out by the terrorist PKK. There is a war between two terrorist groups. You mean we should… favor one terrorist organization over another?”

The AKP deputy leader went on to explain the calculus of death as seen from Turkey’s point of view. “Less than 1000 people have been killed in Kobani, but more than 300,000 people have been killed in Syria. Which is more important?”

Aktay’s remarks reveal much more than just a callous disregard for the Kurds, who comprise roughly one-third of Turkey’s overall population, or for the popular Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which broke off peace talks with the Turkish government in October to protest Turkey’s stranglehold over the Kurds in Kobani.

According to Vice-president Joe Biden, Erdogan himself admitted that Turkey had ordered border guards to turn a blind eye as new ISIS recruits flooded across Turkey’s borders to join the battle against Assad in Syria. (Okay, when Erdogan was informed of Biden’s comments, he hit the roof and demanded that “loose-lips” Uncle Joe retract them).

In response to a Harvard University student’s question whether the U.S. could have intervened earlier in Syria, Biden went even further:

“[O]ur allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. The Turks were great friends – and I have the greatest relationship with Erdogan, which I just spent a lot of time with – the Saudis, the Emiratis, etc. What were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad except that the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.

“Now you think I’m exaggerating – take a look. Where did all of this go? So now what’s happening? All of a sudden everybody’s awakened because this outfit called ISIL which was Al Qaeda in Iraq, which when they were essentially thrown out of Iraq, found open space in territory in eastern Syria, work with Al Nusra who we declared a terrorist group early on and we could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them. So what happened? Now all of a sudden – I don’t want to be too facetious – but they had seen the Lord. Now we have – the President’s been able to put together a coalition of our Sunni neighbors, because America can’t once again go into a Muslim nation and be seen as the aggressor – it has to be led by Sunnis to go and attack a Sunni organization.” [h/t to Mark Langfan for excerpting this Q&A from Biden’s speech]

But Erdogan’s treachery goes much deeper.

Kurdish sources tell me that the initial Turkey-al Nusra front agreement was made more than two years ago, and included Turkey’s agreement to help smuggle arms to the Syrian rebels from Benghazi and other parts of Libya.

Earlier this year, Turkish and Qatari intelligence officials met with senior ISIS leaders in Jordan to plot the take-over of Mosul and the predominantly Christian Nineveh Plain.

Also at the meeting was a representative of Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) president Massoud Barzani, who has worked closely with the Turkish government and has spearheaded massive Turkish investment in northern Iraq. Barzani apparently believed ISIS would stop their advance after seizing Mosul and the Nineveh Plain, and ordered his peshmerga fighters to withdraw rather than fight the ISIS advance.

The most dramatic events occurred in Sinjar, when 13,000 peshmerga fighters mysteriously “melted away” in August rather than confront an ISIS assault force of around 1000 men. While much of the national media focused on the plight of the Yazidis, a Shiite sect considered heretical by most Sunnis, ISIS continued to march eastward through the Nineveh plain, massacring the Christians who failed to flee.

Not until they began threatening Erbil, the capital of the KRG, did Barzani apparently realize he had been duped and called on the United States to supply heavy weapons so the peshmerga could halt the ISIS advance. As Kobani was falling, Barzani authorized Kurdish fighters from the PKK and PJAK, who had bases in northern Iraq, to transit through his territory to relieve the besieged city.

Read more at Frontpage

Congress Calls for Increased Sanctions on Hamas Allies

Khaled Meshaal , head of Hamas Politburo in Damascus / AP

Khaled Meshaal , head of Hamas Politburo in Damascus / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Dec. 9, 2014:

A bipartisan delegation of foreign policy leaders in Congress are calling on the Obama administration to increase U.S. sanctions on Hamas and its allies, including the terror group’s top financier, Qatar, and its close ally, Turkey, according to a letter sent Tuesday by lawmakers to the Treasury Department and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The administration can and should be doing more to crackdown on Hamas’ top allies, including Iran, Qatar, and Turkey, according to the letter, jointly endorsed by 24 of the 29 members on the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa and its Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade.

The letter—which is signed by the chairmen and ranking members of both committees—follows months of appeals by lawmakers and foreign policy experts to the Obama administration urging it to crackdown on Hamas’ main funders, particularly Qatar, which has kept the terror group financially afloat via major cash infusions.

“We believe that more can be done, and we urge Treasury to take all necessary measures to sanction individuals or entities that are directly or indirectly financing or materially supporting Hamas,” the lawmakers wrote to Treasury Department Under Secretary David Cohen, who handles terrorism and finance intelligence.

While the United States has navigated a diplomatic tightrope with Turkey and Qatar, who are considered close U.S. allies on many fronts, the lawmakers argue that all of Hamas’ backers should be hit with U.S. sanctions.

“Any entity or nation that continues to back this U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organization and provide it material and financial support should be sanctioned,” they wrote.

“We are requesting that Treasury use every tool available to designate all individuals, institutions, entities, charities, front companies, banks, and government officials who clearly violate U.S. laws by assisting Hamas and its proxies,” according to the letter.

Lawmakers also are requesting that the administration provide them with “specific public updates” about conversations taking place with the “Qatari government on previously designated, Qatar-based terrorist financiers that the Qataris have yet to act upon.”

Qatar’s relationship with Hamas has been particularly problematic for the United States.

While lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have called for greater pressure on the nation, the Obama administration has maintained that Qatar should play a key role in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Hamas traditionally relied on Iran for much of its financial and political support,” the lawmakers state, noting that Qatar donated $400 million to Hamas in 2012 .

“Qatar’s $400 million donation for Gaza reconstruction in 2012 bolstered Hamas’ credibility in Gaza and may have directly supported Hamas-backed entities,” they write. “Qatar also allows Hamas’ top leader, politburo chief Khalid Mishaal, to operate out of its territory knowingly and with impunity. It was even widely reported in the press that Qatar threatened to deport Mishaal if Hamas had accepted an Egypt-backed ceasefire agreement to end this summer’s conflict in Gaza.”

Turkey also remains one of Hamas’ top enablers.

“Turkey serves as the headquarters for Saleh al-Arouri, who is believed to head Hamas’ terrorist operations in the West Bank,” the lawmakers state. “In August, the media reported that he was behind an allegedly thwarted plot to topple, undermine, or replace the Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank. Also in August, al-Arouri stated that Hamas was behind the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens this June.”

In addition, Turkish charities, front companies, and even some banks are suspected of providing support to Hamas, according to the lawmakers.

“It’s no secret that Turkey and Qatar provide refuge to many Hamas operatives, and that both of these supposed American allies have become major terror financial hubs,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.), chair of the subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.

“While the Treasury Department has taken significant action against Hamas and its supporters, more can be done to halt support for this terrorist group,” she said. “Both Turkey and Qatar have thus far been extremely lax in enforcing their terror financing laws and taking action against U.S. designated individuals or entities.”

Meanwhile, it also has come to light that one of Hamas’ top Iranian allies, Imad al-Alami, has been identified as residing in Turkey, according to a recent report by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

Al-Alami, who has traveled to Iran on many occasions, is designated as a terrorist by the U.S. government, though it is unclear what action the Obama administration will take in light of the recent revelations.

“I would argue now that Turkey is liable like Qatar as the top external headquarters for Hamas,” said FDD vice president for research Jonathan Schanzer. “It may have even surpassed it.”

Also see:

Clifford D. May: Rise of the neo-Ottomans

Turkey supports terror. It imprisons more journalists than any other country. Its president equates Israel to Nazis. And, officially, the country is our ally. ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images

Turkey supports terror. It imprisons more journalists than any other country. Its president equates Israel to Nazis. And, officially, the country is our ally. ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images

National Post, by Clifford D. May, Dec. 5, 2014:

Turkey should have been part of the solution. Instead it’s become part of the problem. The problem, of course, is the spread of jihadism throughout the Middle East, North Africa and beyond.

Turkish policies have been aiding and abetting Jabhat al Nusra, an Al-Qaeda affiliate; the Islamic State (ISIS), which has turned large swaths of Syria and Iraq into killing fields; the Islamic Republic of Iran, still ranked by the U.S. government as the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism and well on its way to becoming nuclear-armed; and the Muslim Brotherhood, including Hamas, the group’s Palestinian branch.

Troubling, too, is the rhetoric we’ve been hearing from Turkish leaders. Fikri Işık, Turkey’s Science, Industry and Technology Minister, claimed last week that it was Muslim scientists who first discovered that the Earth is round. Two weeks earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan insisted that Muslim sailors reached the Americas 300 years before Columbus — only to find that well-established Muslims in Cuba had built a beautiful mosque.

Such myth-making might be dismissed as nothing more than attempts to play to Islamic pride. Less easy to excuse is Mr. Erdoğan’s increasing xenophobia. “Foreigners,” he recently observed, “love oil, gold, diamonds and the cheap labour force of the Islamic world. They like the conflicts, fights and quarrels of the Middle East.” He added that Westerners “look like friends, but they want us dead, they like seeing our children die. How long will we stand that fact?”

If Turkey were just another tin-pot dictatorship none of this would much matter. But Turkey is a Muslim majority (98%) republic with a dynamic economy (not dependent on the extraction of petroleum), a member of NATO (making it, officially, an American ally) and a candidate for membership in the European Union (though that possibility now appears remote).

Just three years ago, President Barack Obama listed Mr. Erdoğan as one of five world leaders with whom he had especially close personal ties. He regarded the Turkish leader as a moderate, his interpreter of — and bridge to — the tumultuous and confusing Islamic world.

And now, as detailed in a new report by Jonathan Schanzer and Merve Tahiroglu, my colleagues at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), Erdoğan is refusing to allow the American-led coalition formed in August to launch strikes against the Islamic State from Turkish soil.

Worse, there is mounting evidence that weapons and fighters are crossing from Turkey into Syria where they are delivered to ISIS. Turkish officials are turning a blind eye — or maybe even facilitating the traffic. Stolen oil is moving in the other direction, sold to raise cash for ISIS. Inside Turkey, as well, Mr. Schanzer and Ms. Tahiroglu write, ISIS has “established cells for recruiting militants and other logistical operations.” Last weekend, Turkey’s main Kurdish party accused the Erdoğan government of allowing ISIS fighters to attack the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani from within Turkey.

The FDD report cites numerous sources alleging that Turkey also has given assistance to A-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al Nusra. To be fair: The Turkish government, like the Obama administration, seeks the fall of Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad, satrap of the Islamic Republic of Iran. A Turkish official is quoted as saying that Nusra fighters are essential to that effort, adding: “After Assad is gone, we know how to deal with these extremist groups.”

Do they? Hamas is an extremist group and one of its top leaders, Saleh Al-Arouri, has been permitted to set up his headquarters in Turkey. In August, Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said it had thwarted a Hamas-led plot to topple Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — and that Mr. Al-Arouri was behind it. Mr. Al-Arouri also claimed responsibility — in the presence of Turkey’s deputy prime minister — for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli boys in the West Bank early last summer, an act of terrorism that led to a 50-day war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Also see:

Is Erdogan’s Turkey an Emerging State Sponsor of Terrorism?

Vice President Joe Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Istanbul, Turkey, November 22, 2014 Source:  AP Emrah Gurel

Vice President Joe Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Istanbul, Turkey, November 22, 2014
Source: AP Emrah Gurel

By Jerry Gordon and Mike Bates:

On November 22, 2014, Vice President Biden met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul. The agenda was ‘consultation’ with this alleged “valued ally” of the Administration. To ease the conversation, Biden announced at a joint press conference $135 million in aid for Syrian refugees in Turkey. It all had to do with Erdogan’s opposition to the US led coalition fight against the Islamic State, formerly ISIS in both Syria and Iraq. According to a report in Defense News, the meeting did not go well:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday slammed US “impertinence” on the Syrian conflict, exposing the extent of strains between Washington and Ankara days after his key meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden.

Ties between the US and Turkey have soured in recent months over the reluctance of Turkish leaders to intervene militarily in the US-led campaign against the Islamic State jihadists, who have taken control of swathes of Iraq and Syria.

That meant relations between President Obama and President Erdogan have seriously deteriorated from the May 16, 2013 White House Rose Garden joint press conference. They were seeking to topple Syrian strongman Assad engaged in a civil war against opposition groups with hundreds of thousands of dead civilians. There was more than ample indication that Erdogan was playing a double game against the Syrian Kurds in support of ISIS. Turkey appeared to be emerging as the second state sponsor of terrorism across the Middle East, after Iran. That was reflected in a recent Business Insider, headline story, The US Is On A Collision Course With An ‘Absolutely Indispensable’ Ally. Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, Vice President of Research at the Washington, DC-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies was cited in the Business Insider article saying:

The American Foreign Policy with Syria has been feckless while Turkey has been reckless. They have become one of the top sponsors or enablers of ISIS and this should be cause for serious concern.

The Administration has been thwarted in its objective of “degrading and destroying” the Salafist Jihadist Islamic State that has torn through Syria and Iraq leaving death and destruction in the wake of its blitzkrieg. It has become the second wealthiest terrorist group after Hamas in the Middle East. Erdogan permitted a small contingent of Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga to enter Kobani from the Turkish side of the border.Together with US led air strikes that may have temporarily set back ISIS forces ranged against this Syrian Kurdish bastion. Nearly 180,000 Syrian Kurds had fled Kobani for sanctuary in the Turkish border town of Suruc. The world media was consternated by this NATO member with the largest ground force equipped with US tanks and aircraft not joining the fray. Erdogan’s justification for stiff arming the Obama White House ISIS strategy was that the Assad regime’s oppression of its own citizens needed to be addressed.

The realities are that this Sunni supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood has turned the Southeastern frontier into a major center of terrorist finance for ISIS and Al Qaeda opposition groups in Syria. It is aiding funding of ISIS with sales of captured oil and even plundered antiquities. It has provided a veritable Jihadist highway for thousands of foreign fighters to enter the combat zone. They have even extended facilities for care of wounded ISIS fighters in Turkish hospitals. In late September 2014, they exchanged 180 foreign jihadists for return of 49 Turkish diplomats and their family members trapped in the Iraqi city of Mosul when ISIS captured it from fleeing national security forces on June 10, 2014.

That is not the only example of Erdogan’s support of terrorism. On November 27, 2014, Israel’s Shin Bet announced that it foiled a plot by 30 Hamas operatives on the West Bank. The Times of Israel reported:

The Shin Bet announcement said Israel had arrested dozens of members of a Hamas terror network operating throughout the West Bank. The network, Palestinian officials said, was funded and directed by Hamas officials in Turkey who have set up a de facto command center in [that] country.

More than 30 Hamas operatives were arrested during the month of September, the Shin Bet said Thursday. The majority were recruited while studying in Jordan and trained in either Syria or the Gaza Strip, which they entered via tunnels from Sinai.

The Shin Bet said the ring was preparing to kidnap Israelis in Israel and abroad, enter Israeli villages, detonate car bombs, perpetrate roadside attacks, and execute a major terror attack in Teddy Stadium, where the Israeli soccer team Beitar Jerusalem plays its home games.

The Shin Bet asserted that the plan was evidence of an “indefatigable” desire on Hamas’ part to rehabilitate its terror infrastructure in the West Bank and to tug Israel into a sharp military response, which might indirectly lead to the toppling of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ regime, which is “one of Hamas’ goals.”

The admitted mastermind for this failed operation is Saleh al-Arouri who has been based in Turkey since 2010. He had founded the Hamas Qassem Brigade on the West Bank. Al-Arouri claimed in August, 2014 responsibility for  the operation by two Hamas terrorists masquerading as Orthodox Jews who murdered three young Jewish yeshiva students near Hebron on June 12, 2014. Israeli security and IDF launched a massive man hunt that recovered  their remains on June 30th.  Hamas began a rocket campaign. On July 8th the IDF launched the 50 day Operation Defensive Edge against the rocket and terror tunnel war from Gaza against Israel.

We had written extensively about the corruption of the Erdogan premiership in 2013 and early 2014, noting a $13 billion illicit gold trade for gas with Iran, thus enabling the evasion of US, EU and UN sanctions against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear development program.

On November 24, 2014 the P5+1 and Iran announced a seven month extension to June 2015 endeavoring to conclude a seemingly unattainable agreement. This in the face of continued implacable demands by Iran to lift sanctions while refusing to comply with disclosures requests from UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA. One expert called this “an unmitigated disaster.” This has raised the prospects that bi-partisan members of the US Congress would likely pass new stronger sanctions that the Administration opposes. Meanwhile the clock is ticking on Iran achieving nuclear breakout. Many consider that an overarching threat to both regional and world nuclear non proliferation.

Against this background we convened another 1330amWEBY wide-ranging Middle East Round Table discussion with Dr. Jonathan Schanzer of FDD.

Read more at NER

Turkey’s Hamas ‘bureau’

A masked member of Hamas stands in front of a banner depicting Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a protest in the central Gaza Strip against Israel's interception of Gaza-bound ships, June 4, 2010. (photo by REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

A masked member of Hamas stands in front of a banner depicting Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a protest in the central Gaza Strip against Israel’s interception of Gaza-bound ships, June 4, 2010. (photo by REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

By Shlomi Eldar:

Hamas is a multi-headed movement whose power centers and modalities of influence were shaped and institutionalized by changing realities. Its power centers and decision-making apparatus moved from the Gaza Strip to the control of the Hamas political bureau abroad, following Israel’s pursuit of the movement’s heads and activists in the territories, and the leadership vacuum that was created as a result.

The internal power struggles that waged within the movement secured and institutionalized Hamas’ current well-known structure: the Gaza Strip leadership, the West Bank leadership, the leadership of the prisoners in Israeli prisons and also, over the years, Hamas’ military wing in Gaza. The military wing has developed into an almost autonomous entity that makes crucial decisions on its own.

The relative weight of the political bureau as the movement’s supreme body — in addition to the Shura Council — was, and still is, due to the money raised by its members to fund Hamas’ activities. Its military wing in Gaza — as opposed to the political leadership — established its power and influence by virtue of the large quantity of weapons that flowed into the Gaza Strip under Hamas control.

This is how the movement operates and how it managed to survive the tremors and shocks it has undergone in the course of its 27 years. While the internal balance of power between the movement’s assorted heads has somewhat changed, the structure that was set over the years has been meticulously maintained.

Recently, another chief added himself to Hamas’ leadership: Salah al-Arouri. Arouri amasses significant power within the familiar Hamas structure and even has substantive influence on the functioning of the movement — influence that bends Hamas leadership to his will. Based in Istanbul, Arouri tends to adopt autonomous characteristics similar to those of the Hamas military wing in the Gaza Strip.

Arouri, one of the founders of Hamas’ military wing in the West Bank, lived previously in Ramallah. In May 2007, he was arrested and jailed by the Israeli authorities, and in April 2010 he was expelled from the territories. Arouri asked to move to the Gaza Strip, but Israel preferred to expel him abroad, under the assumption that his presence in Gaza would endanger Israel.

Read more at Al Monitor

The Real Turkish Agenda…

ISIS Study Group , November 21, 2014:

Recent reporting has shown that the Erdogan government is still pushing for the PKK to accept the cease-fire they originally agreed to after having been targeted in Turkish military operations last month. The PKK has vehemently denied agreeing to turn their weapons and themselves over to the Turkish government, not that we’re surprised or anything.

PKK rules out government’s talk of disarmament
http://www.todayszaman.com/national_pkk-rules-out-governments-talk-of-disarmament_364726.html

erdogan 33
Erdogan: Really a “generous” kind of guy
Source: Associated Press

One would think that the Turkish Army would’ve taken action in Kobani in light of the death and destruction the Islamic State (IS) has waged along the border. Instead they launched operations against Pehsmerga forces in the village of Daglica, located in the Turkish part of the tri-border region shared with Iraq and Iran. As we’ve predicted, the Turkish military waited until the joint-PKK/YPG Peshmerga forces were degraded to a certain point before launching operations – possibly part of a bid towards establishing that buffer zone they’ve been talking so much about. Other reporting coming out of Turkey last month described clashes taking places in the Tunceli-area of Turkey involving Turkish forces and the PKK. The Turkish government claims their operations are in response to the PKK attacking one of their outposts in the area, but we’re not so sure that’s the real reason for the operations.

Turkish jets bomb Kurdish PKK rebels near Iraq
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29611582

Is Turkey a Reliable Partner In The Fight Against ISIS?
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1916

turkish air force
Turkish F4s (pictured above) and F16s participated in the OPs against the PKK
Source: BBC

The fact that Erdogan is more concerned with ousting the Assad regime should’ve been the first red-flag to the US government when it was framing it’s pseudo-strategy to combat IS, but it would appear this is a case of incompetent analysts working the problem-set or a senior leadership willfully ignoring the recommendations of said analysts. We suspect that it’s the latter in this case since we personally know several analysts who are working the problem-set. They’ve voiced to us their frustrations at being ignored by decision-makers who would prefer to be told “what they want to hear” instead of what they need to hear. Had they listened to their analysts, they would know that Turkey isn’t a dependable ally (and we use the term quite loosely here), and is operating on their own agenda that’s to our detriment. Even after the Erdogan government initially came out with their public statement denying they’re allowing the US military to use their air bases to launch airstrikes against IS, the US government continues to insist that it can get Turkey to get involved and target IS. Unfortunately, the US government’s drumbeat being fed to the mainstream media doesn’t mirror reality. In fact, the much-vaunted “Anti-IS Coalition” appears to be every bit the “Coalition of the Reluctantly Willing” that we’ve assessed it to be.

Read more

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Erdogan: Turkey the Hope of All Peoples in the Region, We Will Be the Architect of a New Middle East

Published on Nov 18, 2014 by MEMRITVVideos

In an October 13, 2014 speech given at Marmara University, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan denounced what he claimed was the continued efforts by Western powers to divide the Middle East. He claimed that the hopes of the peoples of the region lie, once again, with Turkey as it was during the days of the Ottoman Empire.

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