Time to Part Ways with Erdogan

erdoganby Ari Lieberman:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Front Page

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

State Dept. Defends Arms Sales to Turkey Despite Hamas Ties

A Turkish soldier stands by a tank as he patrols the border with Syria / AP

A Turkish soldier stands by a tank as he patrols the border with Syria / AP

By Adam Kredo:

The State Department defended missile sales to Turkey just hours after news emerged that Ankara is hosting and abetting a senior Hamas operative who planned to violently overthrow the Palestinian government in the West Bank and wage war on Israel.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf defended the transfer of Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) to Turkey just days after she was forced to explain why the White House had stepped in to block similar weapons shipments to Israel.

Reporters at Harf’s daily briefing expressed confusion as to why arms shipments would be stopped to Israel yet permitted to Turkey, despite the latter nation’s increasing anti-Semitism and efforts to bolster Hamas terrorists.

Israeli security officials revealed early Monday that it had disrupted a plot to infiltrate the West Bank and overthrow the moderate government. It is believed that the plot was orchestrated by a Hamas leader in Turkey who also helped plan the kidnappings and murders of three Israeli teens earlier this year.

Harf was asked Monday afternoon to explain why President Barack Obama is giving Turkey high-tech arms while holding up shipments to Israel, a move that has drawn outrage in the pro-Israel community.

Harf defended the “extra care” the Obama administration is exerting over Israeli shipments and said that it is “important” to give Turkey arms right now.

“Turkey is also a NATO ally,” she said. “So for all of us who are—talk a lot about the importance of the NATO alliance, particularly when it comes to Russia and Ukraine and what’s happening there, we think it’s important to provide our NATO allies with resources. We think that’s an important use of our resources. The two [cases] aren’t comparable, but those are the facts behind them, I would say.”

Read more at Washington Free Beacon

Turkish Leader Doubles Down on Blaming Israel for Anti-Semitism

1407370126197.cachedBy Eli Lake:

Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has some advice for his strongest supporters in the U.S. Congress: If you don’t like the rise of anti-Semitism that has accompanied Israel’s latest war, then you should pressure Israel to stop killing Palestinians.

An August 5 letter written by one of Erdogan’s top advisers on behalf of the prime minister and obtained by The Daily Beast disputes accusations that his recent statements about Israel were anti-Semitic. Those statements include an assertion on July 19 that Israel’s actions in Gaza “surpassed what Hitler did to them.” A few days earlier, a top newspaper in Turkey affiliated with Erdogan called on Turkish Jews to apologize for the actions of Israel’s military in Gaza.

“Each Israeli attack undermines the peace and tranquility of Jews living all around the world and turns them into targets of hate speech,” wrote Volkan Bozkir, a former Turkish ambassador to the European Union and now an Erdogan adviser and legislator who serves as the chairman of the Turkey-USA Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Caucus and the Turkish parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

He added: “We would therefore recommend that you, instead of trying to silence the legitimate criticisms towards Israel, call on and pressure the Israeli government to put an end to its policies of occupation and destruction. This would be the best and the strongest response to anti-Semitism.”

Bozkir wrote that he was sending the letter to Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) at Erdogan’s behest in response to a letter the Turkish prime minister received last week from four co-chairmen of the Congressional Caucus on U.S.-Turkish Relations and Turkish Americans. Normally that caucus can be counted on to offer strong support for Turkey, a NATO ally that has had a long-standing relationship with the U.S. military going back to the Cold War.

But on July 29, Reps. Foxx, Steve Cohen (D-TN), Gerald Connolly (D-VA), and Ed Whitfield (R-KY) warned Erdogan that some of his statements about Israel and Jews in general “make it increasingly difficult to communicate in a positive way about Turkey when interacting with our colleagues.”

The State Department has condemned Erdogan’s recent remarks. But Secretary of State John Kerry has worked closely with his Turkish counterparts to reach an Israel-Hamas ceasefire. Unlike Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, Turkey has an open political relationship with Hamas. Some of thegroup’s top leaders reside in Turkey, including Saleh al-Arouri, a man some Israelis suspected of facilitating the June 15 kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers that sparked the current round of fighting.

Read more at The Daily Beast

Qatar, and other American “allies”, are among the villains in Gaza

Gatestone Institute, by Alan M. Dershowitz:

American allies, especially Qatar and Turkey, have been providing material support to Hamas, which the United States has listed as a foreign terrorist organization. This support includes financial, diplomatic, media and even the provision of weapons that deliberately target Israeli civilians from behind Palestinian civilians who are used as human shields. It also includes harboring war criminals, especially leaders of Hamas, who direct their followers from the safety of Doha. Without the support of Qatar and Turkey, Hamas would never have started this bloody war that has caused so much human suffering.

Qatar, which is more of a family-owned gas station than a real country, regards itself as untouchable because of its oil wealth. Its residents—they are not really citizens because there are no genuine elections or freedom of speech or religion—are the richest in the world. It can buy anything it wants, including the 2022 World Cup, several American university campuses, some of the world’s greatest art, Al Jazeera television and other luxuries. It can also buy terrorist groups such as Hamas. Indeed, after Iran, which is the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism, Qatar ranks near the top of this dishonor role of death.

Any individual who provides material support to a designated terrorist group such as Hamas commits a crime under the United States Penal law and the laws of several European countries. If Hamas were ever to be convicted of war crimes by the International Criminal Court, as it may well be, any individual who was an accessory to such crimes would be guilty as well. It is entirely fair, therefore, to describe Qatar as a criminal regime, guilty of accessory to mass murder.

In some ways Turkey is even worse. Its erratic prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has incited anti-Semitism, provoked conflict with Israel, provided material support to Hamas and undercut efforts to achieve a realistic end to the Gaza War. He has demanded that his Jewish subjects do his bidding, telling “our Jewish citizens’ leaders” that they must “adopt a firm stance and release a statement against the Israeli government.” He has suggested that if they fail to do so they will not be regarded as “good Turks,” thus raising the old canard of “dual loyalty.”

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) gives a warm welcome to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who travelled from Gaza to Turkey on an official visit in January 2012. (Image source: MEMRI)

Erdogan also recently said of Israel that “they always curse Hitler, but they now even exceed him in barbarism.” And he responded to Americans who complain about the “comparisons with Hitler,” by saying “You’re American, what’s Hitler got to do with you,” forgetting that Hitler’s forces killed thousands of American soldiers and civilians. He also conveniently forgets that Turkey, which remained immorally “neutral” in the war against Nazism, provided Hitler with the playbook for his genocide, by its own genocide against Armenians. As Hitler asked rhetorically when planning his genocide: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” So Hitler matters to America, as it should to Turkey, which still mendaciously denies that it committed genocide against the Armenians.

Yet it was Qatar and Turkey to which Secretary of State John Kerry turned in his efforts to get Israel and Hamas to agree to a cease fire. This not only infuriated Israel, which considers these two countries as accessories to Hamas’ war crimes, but also Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, which also see Qatar and Turkey as allies of Hamas and enemies of moderate Arab states.

The time has come for the United States and the international community to reassess the status of Qatar and Turkey. These two countries have become part of the problem, rather than part of the solution. A nation that hosts Hamas leaders and finances their terrorism should not also host the World Cup. Nor should American universities send their faculty and students to a nation complicit in terrorism that has taken the lives of many Americans as well as Israelis.

Turkey’s role in NATO must also be reevaluated. Membership in this organization entails certain responsibilities, and Turkey has failed in these responsibilities. They have become untrustworthy partners in the quest for peace.

It is a truism that we, as a nation, must deal with devils, because men and women are not angels. I do not fault Secretary of State Kerry for trying to use Qatar and Turkey to pressure Hamas into accepting a deal, although the deal they ultimately came up with was a bad one. My point is that Qatar’s wealth and Turkey’s size should not preclude us from telling it as it is: Qatar and Turkey are among the worst villains in the Gaza tragedy. Nor should we reward such villains, and such complicit in war crimes, by international gifts, such as the World Cup. Both Qatar and Turkey should be treated as pariahs unless and until they stop becoming state sponsors, supporters and facilitators of terrorism.

Alan Dershowitz’s latest book is “Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law”.

Turkish PM Erdogan Top Backer of Hamas

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (Photo: © Reuters)

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (Photo: © Reuters)

BY RYAN MAURO:

Turkey, despite officially being a U.S. ally and member of NATO, deserves blame for the latest missile attacks and kidnappings carried by Hamas.  The Erdogan government is sponsoring Hamas, inciting extremist fervor and is even harboring the terrorist leader that oversees kidnappings in the West Bank.

The latest missile attacks by Hamas were preceded by the kidnapping and execution of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank by Hamas operatives. The Hamas leader urging kidnappings of Israelis in the West Bank is named Saleh al-Arouri, and he operates from Turkey.

The kidnappings were preceded by a concerted effort by al-Arouri to fund and plan such operations. He may or may not have masterminded this specific attack, but it was the fruition of his orders. Hamas officially denies involvement, but Israel has identifiedthe kidnappers as Hamas terrorists that were previously arrested and released.

Israeli intelligence has reportedly concluded that Turkey has been the top financial sponsor of Hamas since 2012, with Erdogan arranging for the transfer of $250 million to the terrorist group annually. Another report puts the figure at $300 million. The funding comes from private sources he is close to and not from the official budget. Turkey is also said to have trained Hamas security forces in Gaza through non-governmental groups.

The report said that Turkey coordinates the fundraising with Qatar, another supposed U.S. ally. Members of Congress have asked Qatar to stop financing Hamas. Khaled Meshaal, the political leader of Hamas, lives in Qatar and even gave an extremist sermon at its Grand Mosque. The U.S. blocked a $400 million aid package from Qatar to pay 44,000 employees of the Hamas government in Gaza.

The Egyptian government is placing the blame on Hamas, Turkey and Qatar for the continuing conflict. When Egypt proposed a ceasefire, Israel accepted it. Hamas did not, responding with rocket fire and making demands it knows will not be met.

“Had Hamas accepted the Egyptian initiative, at least 40 Palestinian souls would have been saved,” said the Egyptian Foreign Minister.

Turkey responded with its own condemnation of Egypt. Erdogan said Egyptian President El-Sisi is an “illegitimate tyrant.”

Read more at Clarion Project

Turkey, Erdogan, and the Muslim Brotherhood in Iraq

 

This photograph shows ISIL commander Abu Muhammad, April 16, 2014, allegedly receiving free treatment in Hatay State Hospital after being injured during fighting in Idlib, Syria.

This photograph shows ISIL commander Abu Muhammad, April 16, 2014, allegedly receiving free treatment in Hatay State Hospital after being injured during fighting in Idlib, Syria.

Should Iraq split into thirds (Kurdistan, a Shia division, and a Sunni division), the Iraqi Muslim Brotherhood would likely take power.

By J. Millard Burr:

A recent photograph taken 16 April 2014, which appeared in Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily, shows an injured ISIL commander Abu Muhammad “allegedly receiving free treatment,” in Turkey’s Hatay State Hospital. It was reported that commander Muhammad was injured during fighting in Idlib, Syria.

Two lawmakers from Turkey’s opposition Republican People¹s Party had the temerity to accuse the government of both “protecting and cooperating with jihadist militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the al-Nusra Front.” The Turkish government was quick to deny the claim.

The appearance of a wounded jihadist commander being treated in a Turkish hospital is a subtle reminder that Turkey is governed by a leading member of the Ikhwan al-Muslimun — the Muslim Brotherhood. It is also a reminder that when one scratches a Muslim Brother, a jihadist bleeds. While it is true that some Brothers, like Ikhwan ideologues Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Hasan al-Turabi, will take up the pen rather than take up arms in the movement to revive the Islamic Caliphate, both Ikhwan intellectual and soldier are equally determined. And so too are the Ikhwan’s politicians, people like Erdogan of Turkey, Ghannouchi of Tunisia and Morsi of Egypt, who are determined to re-create Islam’s Caliphate.

Members of the Ikhwan, from its founder Hasan al-Banna to Turkey’s Erdogan, have all been aware that terrorism can be a useful adjunct in the Islamist revolution. It has been used more frequently in that epoch of Arab history that dates from the Muslim world’s rejection of Arab nationalism. Following the death of Nasser (Arab nationalism’s primary sponsor), in the nineteen-seventies a plethora of jihadist branches sprang from the Ikhwan tree. Uniformly, the organizations rejected the Ikhwan’s evolutionary philosophy that had been forced on it by Nasser and then by Egypt’s powerful military caste.

The Islamist movement came to a boil with the war in Afghanistan. It festered with the American presence in the first war in Iraq, and gained strength with the war in the Balkans. In that war, Muslim Brothers Sudan’s Hassan al-Turabi and Bosnia’s Izetbegovic, together with Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his mentor Islamist politician Necmettin Erbakan (1926-2011) had played a major role. In the early 1990s, Erbakan and Erdogan served as money launderers and arms purchasers in the Islamist-backed insurgency in Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania. Their activity can be seen as a starting point in what would be a continuing Islamist effort to infiltrate the Turkish polity and dominate its future. Egyptian Muslim Brother Yusuf al-Qaradawi, from his exile in Qatar, Tunisia’s Rashid Ghannouchi, from his exile in London, and the members of the Egyptian Ikhwan at home and in exile, also played part in the Balkan war, though less directly.

Erbakan funeral

Erbakan funeral

Erdogan eulogy of Erbakan, his political (and Ikhwan) mentor, showed he remained in the thrall of such predecessors as the internationalist al-Afghani, the Ikhwan al-Muslimun founder Hassan al-Banna, the Brotherhood’s terrorist ideologue Sayid Qutb and the Afghan-Arab and Palestinian Ikhwan Abdalla Azzam. Thus, the appearance of an Islamist mujahideen in a Turkish hospital surprised few Turks who had been following developments in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring.

The genesis of the Arab Spring is found in Tunisia where the previously outlawed Ennahda party — an Ikhwan al-Muslimun institution — came to power following the overthrow of an entrenched secular (and sclerotic) government. Immediately, the jailed jihadists were released. And the former Arab-Afghan mujahideen emerged from hiding. Ironically, the capture of Tunisia’s polity should have been easy were it not for the fact that neither Ghannouchi nor his Ennahda politicians and gunmen showed any leadership.

Read more at American Center for Democracy

 J. Millard Burr is a Senior Fellow at the American Center for Democracy.

Turkish Support for ISIS

by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
June 18, 2014

N.B. Washington Times title: “Turkey’s support for ISIS Islamist terrorists. Aiding jihadists could put Ankara at odds with Iran”

The battle in Iraq consists of “Turkish-backed Sunni jihadis rebelling against an Iranian-backed Shi’ite-oriented central government,” I wrote in a recent article.

Some readers question that the Republic of Turkey has supported the “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” the main Sunni group fighting in Iraq. They point to ISIS attacks on Turkish interests, within Turkey, along itsborder with Syria, and in Mosul and a successful recent meeting of the Turkish and Iranian presidents. Good points, but they can be explained.

First, ISIS is willing to accept Turkish support even while seeing the Islamist prime minister and his countrymen as kafirs (infidels) who need to be shown true Islam.

Second, the presidential visit took place on one level while the fighting in Syria and Iraq took place on quite another; the two can occur simultaneously. Turkish-Iranian rivalry is on the rise and, as the distinguished Turkish journalist Burak Bekdil notes in the current issue of the Middle East Quarterly:

Recent years have often seen official language from the two countries about prospering bilateral trade and common anti-Israeli ideological solidarity. But mostly out of sight have been indications of rivalry, distrust, and mutual sectarian suspicion between the two Muslim countries.

Ankara may deny helping ISIS, but the evidence for this is overwhelming. “As we have the longest border with Syria,” writes Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a Turkish newspaper columnist, “Turkey’s support was vital for the jihadists in getting in and out of the country.” Indeed, the ISIS strongholds not coincidentally cluster close to Turkey’s frontiers.

Kurds, academic experts and the Syrian opposition agree that Syrians, Turks (estimated to number 3,000), and foreign fighters (especially Saudis but also a fair number of Westerners) have crossed the Turkish-Syrian border at will, often to join ISIS. What Turkish journalist Kadri Gursel calls a “two-way jihadist highway,” has no bothersome border checks and sometimes involves the active assistance of Turkish intelligence services. CNN even broadcast a video on “The secret jihadi smuggling route through Turkey.”

Actually, the Turks offered far more than an easy border crossing: they provided the bulk of ISIS’ funds, logistics, training and arms. Turkish residents near the Syrian border tell of Turkish ambulances going to Kurdish-ISIS battle zones and then evacuating ISIS casualties to Turkish hospitals. Indeed, a sensational photograph has surfaced showing ISIS commander Abu Muhammad in a hospital bed receiving treatment for battle wounds in Hatay State Hospital in April 2014.

 

Abu Muhammad of ISIS in Hatay State Hospital in April 2014, recovering from wounds received fighting in Syria.

One Turkish opposition politician estimates that Turkey has paid $800 million to ISIS for oil shipments. Another politician released information about active duty Turkish soldiers training ISIS members. Critics note that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has met three times with someone, Yasin al-Qadi, who has close ties to ISIS and has funded it.

 

The flag of Rojava, or Syria Kurdistan.

Why the Turkish support for wild-eyed extremists? Because Ankara wants to eliminate two Syrian polities, the Assad regime in Damascus and Rojava (the emerging Kurdish state) in the northeast.

Regarding the Assad regime: “Thinking that jihadists would ensure a quick fall for the Assad regime in Syria, Turkey, no matter how vehemently officials deny it, supported the jihadists,” writes Cengiz, “at first along with Western and some Arab countries and later in spite of their warnings.”

Regarding Rojava: Rojava’s leadership being aligned with the PKK, the (formerly) terrorist Kurdish group based in Turkey, the authoritative Turkish journalist Amberin Zaman has little doubt “that until recently, Turkey was allowing jihadist fighters to move unhindered across its borders” to fight the Kurds.

More broadly, as the Turkish analyst Mustafa Akyol notes, Ankara thought “anybody who fought al-Assad was a good guy and also harbored an “ideological uneasiness with accepting that Islamists can do terrible things.” This has led, he acknowledges, to “some blindness” toward violent jihadists. Indeed, ISIS is so popular in Turkey that others publicly copy its logo.

 

An Istanbul-based charity (acronym: HİSADER) has adopted the ISIS logo with the Islamic statement of faith.

In the face of this support, the online newspaper Al-Monitor calls on Turkey to close its border to ISIS while Rojava threatened Ankara with “dire consequences” unless Turkish aid ceases.

In conclusion, Turkish leaders are finding Syria a double quagmire, what with Assad still in power and the Kurdish entity growing stronger. In reaction, they have cooperated with even the most extreme, retrograde and vicious elements, such as ISIS. But this support opened a second front in Iraq which, in turn, brings the clash of the Middle East’s two titans, Turkey and Iran, closer to realization.

Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2014 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

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Also see:

Tens of thousands demand Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia be turned into a mosque

1299668013-z9ura808IPT, by John Rossomando

Tens of thousands of Turkish Islamists held a triumphalist gathering outside Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia museum on Saturday. Originally built as a cathedral in 537 by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, it was converted into a mosque by the Ottomans following the fall of Constantinople in 1453.The former religious site was re-opened as a museum in 1935. The Islamists who prayed at the site on Saturday did so with the hope that it would be converted back into a mosque by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The protest also coincided with the anniversary of the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople on May 29, 1453, an event for which Erdogan has encouraged the celebration.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish republic, converted the massive structure into a museum in 1935.

For Turkey’s Islamists, Hagia Sophia serves as a symbol of Islam’s triumph over Christianity.

“Ayasofya is a symbol for the Islamic world and the symbol of Istanbul’s conquest. Without it, the conquest is incomplete, we have failed to honor Sultan Mehmet’s trust,”Reuters quoted Salih Turan, head of the Anatolia Youth Association, as saying. The association claims it has collected 15 million signatures asking for Hagia Sophia to reopen as a mosque.

Details of the conquest and Hagia Sophia’s conversion from being a church into a mosque stand in stark contrast to the picture of Islam that Islamists want to portray – that of a tolerant and ethical faith. Islamic law might forbid the slaughter of innocent non-combatants during times of war, but that was not what happened in Hagia Sophia the day Constantinople fell.

The late Sir Steven Runicman, widely regarded as one of the greatest scholars of Byzantine history, noted that Ottoman soldiers under Sultan Mehmet’s command entered the cathedral and indiscriminately slaughtered men, women, children and the elderly. Mehmet’s personal imam then climbed into the pulpit to proclaim the shahada, transforming Hagia Sophia into a mosque.

Sheik Abdullah Basfar, the imam of the Ka’aba in Mecca, who led Saturday’s prayer gathering outside Hagia Sophia, has a history of extremist rhetoric. In a translation provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), he notably stated in September 2005 that funding the Palestinian jihad against Israel was a religious “duty” of all Muslims.

Erdogan’s government, however, says no plans currently exist to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque.

The world’s 350 million Eastern Orthodox Christians still look to Hagia Sophia as one of the most sacred places in their faith – a reminder of the Christian Byzantine Empire that stood for over 1,000 years.

Hagia Sophia’s place in the Orthodox consciousness was such that a group of American Greek Orthodox Christians similarly and unsuccessfully tried to hold services there in 2010. Talk about converting Hagia Sophia into a mosque has provoked strong condemnation from the Greek government, which issued a statement in November 2013, saying talk about “converting Byzantine Christian churches into mosques [is] offending the religious feeling of millions of Christians.”

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, the world’s most senior Orthodox bishop, similarly condemned the effort, saying it should remain a museum or be reopened as a church.

Transforming Hagia Sophia back into a mosque would necessitate the whitewashing of priceless treasures of Byzantine iconography.

Turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque reinforces the narrative that Muslims seek to subordinate other religions to Islam, and it reinforces the idea of a clash of civilizations.

“It would strengthen the mutual suspicion and polarization between the West and the Muslim world,” Sahin Alpay, professor of political science at Bahcesehir University,told Reuters. “All hell breaking loose is a high price to pay.”

Erdogan’s Theological Justification for His Dictatorial Stance

 

Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2009. (Image source: World Economic Forum)

Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2009. (Image source: World Economic Forum)

by Timon Dias:

“Both materially, and in essence, sovereignty unconditionally and always belongs to Allah.” — Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister, Turkey.

What is surprising is that so many Western politicians, including EU-minded ones, apparently still ignore what the consequences could be of such an ideology. Do they really assume it could never happen to them?

Once again, Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is – although ineffectively – cracking down on social media, most notably Twitter, which public outrage forced him to reinstate, and the latest municipal elections were again ridden with intimidation and fraud.

On September 12, 1980, the Turkish military cracked down on religious opposition movements that challenged the secular state, and took power over the country. What stood out during these events was that Western nations, with political structures vigorously opposed to military involvement in civil politics, were actually relieved by the military’s action[1]. After all, one year earlier the secular and allied state of Iran had transformed into a theocratic and hostile nation.

Over time, however, a worrying dynamic revealed itself: The Western view of Islamic religious political movements changed, while the core ideology and intentions of these movements did not. This phenomenon coincided with the “New Left” consolidating its “March through the institutions,” referring to its takeover of the academy and journalism.[2]

The West stopped seeing political Islam as an expansionist, possibly antagonistic, ideology, and started actively to aid the consolidation of Islamist power, particularly in Turkey. The EU stated that if Turkey were ever going to join it, the country would have to abolish the influence the Turkish military had over civil politics. It is reasonable that the EU did not want a member state with a military that could undo a democracy at will. But it was unreasonable of the EU to think that the only way a democracy could be undone was by a military, or, in the instance of Turkey, that of the then-secular Turkish military. The EU may also have been naïve to dismiss out of hand the claims of the Turkish military that Islamist doctrine was inherently anti-Western.

True, modern Turkish Islamists, with the current Erdogan government as a prime example, have started out by preaching their theocratic intentions in more discrete and innocent-sounding ways. Erdogan for example said: “All the schools will become [madrassa-like religious] Imam Hatip schools”[3] and “I am the Imam of Istanbul”[4], but it is not as if Erdogan is a master of disguise. The truth was out there for those not taken by wishful thinking. Erdogan, during his time as mayor of Istanbul, 1994-1998, had said that “Democracy is like a streetcar. When you come to your stop, you get off.” What is somewhat less known is that Erdogan stated in 1998: “Our reference [guide] is Islam. Our only goal is an Islamic state. They can never intimidate us. If the skies and the earth open up, if storms blow on us, if the lava of volcanoes flow on us, we will never change our way. My guide is Islam. If I cannot live according to Islam, why live at all? [Turk], Kurd, Arab, Caucasian cannot be differentiated; because these peoples are united under the roof of Islam.”[5]

Read more at Gatestone Institute

Also see:

The Red Line and the Rat Line

Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels:

In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the ‘red line’ he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons. Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya? The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous.

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The full extent of US co-operation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in assisting the rebel opposition in Syria has yet to come to light. The Obama administration has never publicly admitted to its role in creating what the CIA calls a ‘rat line’, a back channel highway into Syria. The rat line, authorised in early 2012, was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition. Many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida. (The DNI spokesperson said: ‘The idea that the United States was providing weapons from Libya to anyone is false.’)

In January, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on the assault by a local militia in September 2012 on the American consulate and a nearby undercover CIA facility in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of the US ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three others. The report’s criticism of the State Department for not providing adequate security at the consulate, and of the intelligence community for not alerting the US military to the presence of a CIA outpost in the area, received front-page coverage and revived animosities in Washington, with Republicans accusing Obama and Hillary Clinton of a cover-up. A highly classified annex to the report, not made public, described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations. It pertained to the rat line. By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria. A number of front companies were set up in Libya, some under the cover of Australian entities. Retired American soldiers, who didn’t always know who was really employing them, were hired to manage procurement and shipping. The operation was run by David Petraeus, the CIA director who would soon resign when it became known he was having an affair with his biographer. (A spokesperson for Petraeus denied the operation ever took place.)

The operation had not been disclosed at the time it was set up to the congressional intelligence committees and the congressional leadership, as required by law since the 1970s. The involvement of MI6 enabled the CIA to evade the law by classifying the mission as a liaison operation. The former intelligence official explained that for years there has been a recognised exception in the law that permits the CIA not to report liaison activity to Congress, which would otherwise be owed a finding. (All proposed CIA covert operations must be described in a written document, known as a ‘finding’, submitted to the senior leadership of Congress for approval.) Distribution of the annex was limited to the staff aides who wrote the report and to the eight ranking members of Congress – the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate, and the Democratic and Republicans leaders on the House and Senate intelligence committees. This hardly constituted a genuine attempt at oversight: the eight leaders are not known to gather together to raise questions or discuss the secret information they receive.

The annex didn’t tell the whole story of what happened in Benghazi before the attack, nor did it explain why the American consulate was attacked. ‘The consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms,’ the former intelligence official, who has read the annex, said. ‘It had no real political role.’

Washington abruptly ended the CIA’s role in the transfer of arms from Libya after the attack on the consulate, but the rat line kept going. ‘The United States was no longer in control of what the Turks were relaying to the jihadists,’ the former intelligence official said. Within weeks, as many as forty portable surface-to-air missile launchers, commonly known as manpads, were in the hands of Syrian rebels. On 28 November 2012, Joby Warrick of the Washington Post reported that the previous day rebels near Aleppo had used what was almost certainly a manpad to shoot down a Syrian transport helicopter. ‘The Obama administration,’ Warrick wrote, ‘has steadfastly opposed arming Syrian opposition forces with such missiles, warning that the weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists and be used to shoot down commercial aircraft.’ Two Middle Eastern intelligence officials fingered Qatar as the source, and a former US intelligence analyst speculated that the manpads could have been obtained from Syrian military outposts overrun by the rebels. There was no indication that the rebels’ possession of manpads was likely the unintended consequence of a covert US programme that was no longer under US control.

By the end of 2012, it was believed throughout the American intelligence community that the rebels were losing the war. ‘Erdoğan was pissed,’ the former intelligence official said, ‘and felt he was left hanging on the vine. It was his money and the cut-off was seen as a betrayal.’ In spring 2013 US intelligence learned that the Turkish government – through elements of the MIT, its national intelligence agency, and the Gendarmerie, a militarised law-enforcement organisation – was working directly with al-Nusra and its allies to develop a chemical warfare capability. ‘The MIT was running the political liaison with the rebels, and the Gendarmerie handled military logistics, on-the-scene advice and training – including training in chemical warfare,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘Stepping up Turkey’s role in spring 2013 was seen as the key to its problems there. Erdoğan knew that if he stopped his support of the jihadists it would be all over. The Saudis could not support the war because of logistics – the distances involved and the difficulty of moving weapons and supplies. Erdoğan’s hope was to instigate an event that would force the US to cross the red line. But Obama didn’t respond in March and April.’

There was no public sign of discord when Erdoğan and Obama met on 16 May 2013 at the White House. At a later press conference Obama said that they had agreed that Assad ‘needs to go’. Asked whether he thought Syria had crossed the red line, Obama acknowledged that there was evidence such weapons had been used, but added, ‘it is important for us to make sure that we’re able to get more specific information about what exactly is happening there.’ The red line was still intact.

An American foreign policy expert who speaks regularly with officials in Washington and Ankara told me about a working dinner Obama held for Erdoğan during his May visit. The meal was dominated by the Turks’ insistence that Syria had crossed the red line and their complaints that Obama was reluctant to do anything about it. Obama was accompanied by John Kerry and Tom Donilon, the national security adviser who would soon leave the job. Erdoğan was joined by Ahmet Davutoğlu, Turkey’s foreign minister, and Hakan Fidan, the head of the MIT. Fidan is known to be fiercely loyal to Erdoğan, and has been seen as a consistent backer of the radical rebel opposition in Syria.

 Sitting around the table (left to right): Ahmet Davutoglu (Turkish FM)–back of head–,Tayyip Erdogan, Hakan Fidan, John Kerry, Barack Obama, (possibly Hilary Clinton), Tom Donilon.

Sitting around the table (left to right): Ahmet Davutoglu (Turkish FM)–back of head–,Tayyip Erdogan, Hakan Fidan, John Kerry, Barack Obama, (possibly Hilary Clinton), Tom Donilon.

The foreign policy expert told me that the account he heard originated with Donilon. (It was later corroborated by a former US official, who learned of it from a senior Turkish diplomat.) According to the expert, Erdoğan had sought the meeting to demonstrate to Obama that the red line had been crossed, and had brought Fidan along to state the case. When Erdoğan tried to draw Fidan into the conversation, and Fidan began speaking, Obama cut him off and said: ‘We know.’ Erdoğan tried to bring Fidan in a second time, and Obama again cut him off and said: ‘We know.’ At that point, an exasperated Erdoğan said, ‘But your red line has been crossed!’ and, the expert told me, ‘Donilon said Erdoğan “fucking waved his finger at the president inside the White House”.’ Obama then pointed at Fidan and said: ‘We know what you’re doing with the radicals in Syria.’ (Donilon, who joined the Council on Foreign Relations last July, didn’t respond to questions about this story. The Turkish Foreign Ministry didn’t respond to questions about the dinner. A spokesperson for the National Security Council confirmed that the dinner took place and provided a photograph showing Obama, Kerry, Donilon, Erdoğan, Fidan and Davutoğlu sitting at a table. ‘Beyond that,’ she said, ‘I’m not going to read out the details of their discussions.’)

Read more at London Review of Books

Walid Shoebat has some interesting observations on this here: CIA Was Involved In Benghazi Attack

Former Police Intel Chief: Turkish Gov’t in Collusion with Iran

Erdogan and Rouhani

Damning evidence support accusations that the highest levels of gov’t are in cahoots with Iran and a terrorist group it sponsors.

BY RYAN MAURO:

The former chief of the Istanbul Police Department Intelligence Unit, Ali Fuat Yilmazer, is making headlines in Turkey by claiming that the highest levels of government are in cahoots with Iranian intelligence and a terrorist group it sponsors.

According to Yilmazer, Iranian intelligence and one of its terrorist proxies, Tawhik-Salam, are collaborating secretly with senior Turkish officials. He said that a police investigation confirmed this fact, and that if the files ever become public, “We’ll see how a foreign government can act comfortably in Turkey.”

He said that Tawhik-Salam is “the stealthiest and most dangerous terrorist organization of recent times.” Turkish police have been investigating the group since 1996. That year, a member of the group was arrested for murdering two Iranian dissidents. The group is also believed to have killed several journalists and intellectuals and U.S., Saudi and Israeli diplomats.

It is reported that Turkish police discovered members of the group conducting surveillance on the U.S. Consulate in October 2010 and delivering the data to Iranian intelligence for a potential terrorist attack. It also was behind a bombing near the Israeli Consulate in 2011.

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The bottom line is this: Turkey is moving fast and hard towards Iran. Erdogan’s government is violating the stated purpose of NATO as the West refuses to wake up to the reality that Turkey is no longer functioning as an ally.

Read more at Clarion Project

Why Turkey’s Local Elections May Have Global Impact

“Yes we ban” Turkey blocks YouTube after audio recording leaked

 

A view of a computer screen showing a digital portrait of the Turkish prime minister and text reading "Yes we ban" in Istanbul on March 27. Turkey banned video-sharing website YouTube, having blocked Twitter a week earlier after both were used to spread audio recordings damaging to the government, local media reported. (Photo: Ozan Kose, AFP/Getty Images)

A view of a computer screen showing a digital portrait of the Turkish prime minister and text reading “Yes we ban” in Istanbul on March 27. Turkey banned video-sharing website YouTube, having blocked Twitter a week earlier after both were used to spread audio recordings damaging to the government, local media reported.
(Photo: Ozan Kose, AFP/Getty Images)

USA Today March 27, 2014

Turkey on Thursday blocked access to YouTube following its recent order banning Twitter after someone posted an audio recording in which senior Turkish officials are purportedly discussing a scheme to create a pretext for waging war on Syria.

The audio claims to be a recording of Turkey’s foreign minister, its intelligence chief and an undersecretary of foreign affairs discussing plans to stage attacks on Turkey from Syrian soil to justify waging a counterattack on Syria, says Ilhan Tanir of the Turkish Daily Today’s Zaman in Istanbul.

The Turkish foreign ministry said the recording had been manipulated, but at a rally in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir on Thursday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared to confirm the leak was genuine, according to the BBC.

“They even leaked a national security meeting,” he said. “This is villainous, this is dishonesty. … Who are you serving by doing audio surveillance of such an important meeting?”

The YouTube blockage caused an uproar across Turkey, with most newspapers carrying the news at the top of their Web pages.

A telecommunications authority Web page gave the following information for YouTube.com: “After technical analysis and legal consideration based on the law, an administrative measure has been taken for this website.”

In an e-mailed statement from Google Inc., which owns YouTube, spokeswoman Abbi Tatton said the company had seen reports that some users in Turkey weren’t able to access YouTube.

“There is no technical issue on our side and we’re looking into the situation,” she said.

The move came a day after a court in Turkey’s capital, Ankara, said the government could not continue a ban it imposed on Twitter last week. Many Turkish users found ways to access Twitter despite the ban.

Erdogan had ordered Twitter blocked March 20, after the microblogging site refused to suspend anonymous accounts that linked to alleged recordings of Erdogan and his son talking about hiding money from police on a day of raids during a corruption investigation.

Erdogan called the recordings false and an invasion of privacy, and has said that the ban on Twitter could be extended to YouTube and Facebook.

The leak comes three days before elections Sunday for local offices, a referendum on Erdogan’s rule that could hurt his governing coalition if his party preforms badly.

YouTube was blocked about two or three hours after the audio appeared on an anonymous YouTube account, revealed publicly via Twitter, Tanir said.

The video contains audio and written text of a conversation that was allegedly recorded in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ building between intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, army deputy chief of staff Yasar Guler, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu.

Those talking discuss several options on what to do “if they wanted to create a reason to wage” war on Syria, Tanir said. Those recorded also talked about plans for a potential no-fly zone over Syria distributed by U.S. officials.

Read more

 

Turkey’s New Jihad on Christian Armenians

Turkeys-Christians-are-a-tiny-minority.by :

Far from being repentant of the Armenian Genocide, Turkey, under the leadership of Prime Minister Erdogan, is again targeting Armenians; is again causing their death and dislocation.

In the early morning hours of March 21, al-Qaeda linked Islamic jihadis crossed into Syrian territory from the Turkish border and launched a jihad on the Christian/Armenian town of Kessab.   Among other thing, “Snipers targeted the civilian population and launched mortar attacks on the town and the surrounding villages.”  Reportedly eighty people were killed.

The jihadis later made a video touring the devastated town; no translation is needed, as the main phrase shouted throughout is Islam’s triumphant war cry, “Allahu Akbar” (or, according to Sen. John McCain’s translation, “thank God”).

Eyewitnesses say the jihadis crossed the Turkish border into Syria, “openly passing through Turkish military barracks. According to Turkish media reports, the attackers carried their injured back to Turkey for treatment in the town of Yayladagi.”

About two-thousand Armenians were evacuated to safer areas in neighboring Basit and Latakia. Several of these families are currently living inside the churches of these towns. Ten to fifteen families with relations too elderly to flee remained in Kessab, their fate currently unknown.

Syrian troops did launch a counteroffensive, but al-Qaeda linked jihadis “once again entered the town of Kessab, took the remaining Armenian families hostage, desecrated the town’s three Armenian churches, pillaging local residences and occupying the town and surrounding villages.”

Reports further indicate that “the attacks of the al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra organization and the Islamic Front was supported with artillery fire from Turkish artillery units.  A Syrian MIG-23 war plane which attended to the operation towards the terror groups was shot down by Turkish Air Forces on 23 March.”

Bashar al-Assad naturally denounced before the United Nations Turkey’s role in supporting terrorists—even as some European leaders, such as Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, were busy praising Turkey for its supposedly increased democracy and human rights,  supporting the Islamic nation’s inclusion into the European Union, indifferent to the fact that Erdogan banned Twitter in Turkey after tweets exposed his government’s corruptions.

Read more at Front Page