Terrorist Groups Praise Erdogan on Turkish Election Win

Turkey's Islamist President Erdogan (left) with Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh in the Turkish parliament. (Photo: © Reuters)

Turkey’s Islamist President Erdogan (left) with Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh in the Turkish parliament. (Photo: © Reuters)

Clarion Project, Nov. 2, 2015:

Leading terrorist organizations were among the first to congratulate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist AK party after their surprising sweep in the November 1 election.

Hamas issued congratulations to the “Turkish people and their leadership on the success of the Turkish parliamentary elections,” according to the Palestinian Information Center, a Hamas-affiliated website,

In a press statement, Hamas categorized the Turkish elections as a victory for democracy and a “reflection of the state of stability and civilization in the capital of the Islamic caliphate.”

Turkey is reported to be the top financial sponsor of Hamas since 2012, with Erdogan arranging for the transfer of between $250-300 million anually to the terrorist organization. Turkey is also said to have trained Hamas security forces in Gaza through non-governmental groups.

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood also hailed Turkey’s Islamist party’s victory, offering its “sincere congratulations.” Ironically, amid much documentation of voter fraud, the Brotherhood stated, “The election results and the impressive turnout, which exceeded 87%, show how the state’s strengths can be bolstered with the people’s free will and free choice when they are not subject to despotic and repressive military rule.”

Erdogan’s Islamist government was openly dismayed at the popularly-supported military intervention that toppled the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. According to the Arab newspaper Al-Arabiya, Turkey has since “become the regional hub for the Muslim Brotherhood’s international organization.”

The Islamic Front, an umbrella group funded by Saudi Arabia comprising Islamist jihadi rebels fighting Assad, also sent a letter of congratulations to Erdogan, stating, “The Turkish government and the Turkish people have played a major role in embracing the Syrians and supporting the revolution and have stood by them in the time of their trouble.

“Turkey withstood a lot of internal and external pressure to back off from this unique position but it continued to implement this moral policy. We hope to have good relations – like brothers – between the people of Syria and Turley in the future after Assad and his regime will fall.”

Eight groups signed the Islamic Front’s letter including the Salafist movement Ahrar ash-Sham al Islamiya, the Damascus-based Jaysh al-Islam (the Army of Islam), Filaq al Rahman and Ansar al-Sham.

The well wishes came amid serious accusations of voter fraud which saw the AK party regain its majority in the parliament, taking the country back to single-party rule.

Yesterday’s elections followed a June vote that resulted in a hung parliament. In that election, the AK party, which had garnered only 41 percent of the vote, was not able to form a coalition in order to govern.

Meanwhile, according to the Emirates News Agency, Erdoğan issued words of support for Islamic State (ISIS) jihadis who claimed to have shot down a Russian passenger plane in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people aboard.

“How can I condemn the Islamic State for shooting down a Russian plane as its passengers were returning from a happy vacation in a time when our co-religionists in Syria are bombed by Putin’s fighter jets?” Erogan is quoted as saying. “It is the natural outcome of Moscow’s actions in Syria and the support for Assad.”


Also see:

Turkish elections have potential to alter the balance of power in the Middle East


Center for Security Policy, by John Cordero, Oct. 28, 2015:

Turks head to the polls once again this upcoming Sunday to determine the composition of their parliament. At stake is the direction Turkey will take both internally and externally, with the main domestic concern being unemployment and the principal foreign policy issue being the Syrian civil war.

This election comes after Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) failed to secure a majority for the first time in 14 years, and was unable form a coalition government after the original June 7 elections.

Turkey’s Parliament consists of 550 seats, a minimum of 276 of which are necessary for a party to form a government. In the June elections, AKP failed to secure a majority, with only 258. The People’s Democratic Party (HDP), affiliated with Turkey’s Kurdish community, saw their representation increase to 80 MPs from the previous 40, when they fielded individual candidates, thanks in part to picking up anti-AKP protest votes. None of the AKP’s rivals would consent to a coalition government, hence the need for the upcoming elections.

The AKP’s drop in political support has stemmed largely from the authoritarian behavior of former Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Under Erdoğan, the AKP has successfully transformed Turkey from a secular NATO ally to an increasingly Islamist government which is openly aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood, supports Hamas, and has been credibly accused of supporting al Qaeda in Syria and the Islamic State. The AKP has also demanded amending the Turkish constitution to enable additional powers for the President (currently Erdoğan, who was Prime Minister since the AKP achieved Parliamentary majority in 2002).

While the AKP continues to enjoy substantial support, its base has been eroded by corruption scandals and the Syrian war, which has proved disastrous for Turkish foreign policy. Erdoğan’s inaction during the Islamic State siege of the Syrian border town of Kobani, during which the Kurdish YPG militia prevailed even after Ankara ignored their requests for assistance, drove many religious Turkish Kurds to support the HDP.

After first courting them via peace talks with the PKK and religious rhetoric, his self-defeatist policy of focusing on Kurds as a threat to national security at the expense of the Islamic State and the other jihadist factions in Syria directly led to the AKP losing their parliamentary majority in June and to the PKK picking up their weapons after a two-year cease-fire and the collapse of peace talks.

This Sunday’s elections represent a bet by Erdoğan that the Turkish people will prefer a restoration of the old order and hand AKP a majority in parliament. John Hannah writes that “the terrorist threat from the PKK will re-emerge, putting at risk civil order, national security, and even Turkey’s territorial integrity. Indeed, Erdoğan has more or less explicitly said that all of these dangers would have been avoided if only the Turkish public had chosen more wisely in the elections.” Rising unemployment, depreciation of the lira, and widespread protests are held up by the President as evidence of what happens when the AKP does not have its majority.

If the AKP once again fails to clear the majority threshold, a prospect that seems very likely, expect Turkey to continue its factionalism along ideological lines: the Islamists, the secular Kemalists, the Kurds, and the Conservatives. The seculars are ideologically opposed to the AKP’s platform, while the Kurds feel betrayed and used for political points by Erdoğan.

The AKP’s only hope to form a coalition government may lie with the conservative Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which opposes peace talks with the PKK. Instead of calling for yet another election, Erdoğan may have to swallow his pride and enter into a coalition, which may at least temporarily check his neo-Ottoman revival project.

Also see:

Turkey Is on the Path to Rogue Dictatorship

by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
October 26, 2015

Should President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AK Party not win a majority of seats in the Nov. 1 vote, the mainstream media hold that his power will diminish. The headline of a much-circulated Reutersanalysis sums up this view: “Erdoğan seen with little choice but to share power after Turkish vote.”Agence France-Presse predicts that winning less than half the seats “would again force [the AKP] to share power or call yet another election.” Almost identically, Middle East Online sees this situation forcing the AKP “to share power or organise yet another election.” And so on, almost invariably including the words “share power.”

The Supreme Election Board (Yüksek Seçim Kurulu) oversees voting in Turkey; will it be forced to rig the election on Nov. 1?

The Supreme Election Board (Yüksek Seçim Kurulu) oversees voting in Turkey; will it be forced to rig the election on Nov. 1?

But what if Erdoğan chooses not to share power? He then has two options. If the results are close, election fraud is a distinct possibility; reports suggest sophisticated software (think Volkswagen) to skew the results.

If the results are not close, Erdoğan can sideline the parliament, the prime minister, the other ministers, and the whole damn government. This sidelining option, which the press ignores as a possibility, follows directly from Erdoğan’s past actions. Since he left the prime ministry in August 2014 to become Turkey’s president, he has diminished his old office, depriving it of nearly all authority. He turned it over to a professorial foreign-policy theorist with no political base, Ahmet Davutoğlu, and controls him so tightly that Davutoğlu cannot even decide on his own aides(who also double as Erdoğan’s informants).

At the same time, Erdoğan built himself a 1,005-room presidential palace housing a staff of 2,700 which constitutes a bureaucracy that potentially can take over the other ministries of state, leaving a seemingly unchanged government in place that behinds the scenes follows orders from the palace.

Erdogan and Davutoglu

Erdoğan will surely sideline parliament as well; not by turning it into a grotesque North Korea-style rubber-stamp assembly but into an Egypt- or Iran-style body consumed with secondary matters (school examinations, new highways) while paying close heed to wishes of the Big Boss.

Then, to complete his takeover, he will deploy his many tools of influence to control the judiciary, the media, corporations, the academy, and the arts. He will also shut down private dissent, especially on social media, as suggested by the many lawsuits he and his cronies have initiated against ordinary citizens who dare criticize him.

At this point, the Hugo Chávez/Vladimir Putin of Turkey, the one who compared democracy to a trolley (“You ride it until you arrive at your destination, then you step off”) will truly have arrived at his destination. As a reward, he may even declare himself the caliph of all Muslims.

Chavez abd Putin

Returning to the present: The number of AKP seats in parliament hardly matters because Erdoğan will do what it takes, legally or illegally, to become the new sultan. He will not have to “share power,” but will seize more power by hook (sidelining parliament) or crook (electoral fraud). Foreign capitals need to prepare for the unpleasant likelihood of a rogue dictatorship in Turkey.

Oct. 26, 2015 update: Kadri Gürsel explores various possibilities should the AKP not win a majority of the votes, including Erdoğan forcing a third round of voting. But he does not raise the sidelining of parliament as one of the president’s choices.

Also see:

Turkey is the Next Failed State in the Middle East

From left to right: A Marxist terrorist holds hostage Turkish prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz (who died in the ensuing shootout) in March 2015; crowds protesting the government's failure to stop ISIS terror attacks are tear-gassed in October 2015; the June 8-14, 2013 cover of the Economist.

From left to right: A Marxist terrorist holds hostage Turkish prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz (who died in the ensuing shootout) in March 2015; crowds protesting the government’s failure to stop ISIS terror attacks are tear-gassed in October 2015; the June 8-14, 2013 cover of the Economist.

ME Forum, by David P. Goldman
Asia Times Online
October 10, 2015

We do not know just who detonated the two bombs that killed 95 Kurdish and allied activists in Ankara Saturday, but the least likely conjecture is that President Erdogan’s government is guiltless in the matter. As Turkish member of parliament Lutfu Turkkan tweeted after the bombing, the attack “was either a failure by the intelligence service, or it was done by the intelligence service.”

Betrayed by both the United States and Russia, and faced with the emergence of a Kurdish state on its borders and the rise of Kurdish parties in the parliamentary opposition, Erdogan is cornered. At risk in the short-term is the ability of his AKP party to govern after the upcoming November elections. At risk in the medium term is the cohesion of the Turkish state itself.

In public, Western leaders have hailed Turkey as “a great Islamic democracy,” as President Obama characterized it in a 2010 interview. That was the view of the George W. Bush administration before Obama, which invited Erdogan to the White House before his selection as prime minister in 2003.

Erdogan’s ability to govern, and cohesion of the Turkish state itself, is at risk.

A minority of military and intelligence analysts, though, has warned that Turkey may not be viable within its present borders in the medium term. The trouble is that its Kurdish minority, now at 20% of the overall population, has twice as many children as ethnic Turks, so many that half of Turkey’s military-age population will speak Kurdish as a first language in fewer than twenty years.

An existential crisis for Turkey has been in the making for years, as I reported in my 2011 book, How Civilizations Die (and Why Islam is Dying, Too). During the past week, a perfect storm has overtaken Turkish policy, and threatens to provoke deep political instability. Turkey may become the region’s next failed state.

Erdogan has suffered public humiliation by both Washington and Moscow.

There has to be a fall guy in the Middle East’s film noir, and that unenviable role has fallen to Turkey. Prior to the bombings, the worst terrorist incident in modern Turkish history, Erdogan suffered public humiliation by Washington as well as Moscow. As Laura Rozen reported October 9 in Al-Monitor, Washington announced a 180-degree turn in its Syrian intervention, abandoning the Sunni opposition in favor of Syrian Kurds.

The United States will supply arms, equipment and air support to Syrian Arab and Kurdish groups already fighting the so-called Islamic State (IS) on the ground in Syria, the White House and Pentagon announced Oct. 9.

The decision to refocus the beleaguered, $500 million Pentagon program from training and equipping a new force to fight IS in Syria to “equip and enable” rebel groups already fighting on the ground came after an interagency review of the train and equip program, US officials said.

“A key part of our strategy is to try to work with capable, indigenous forces on the ground … to provide them with equipment to make them more effective, in combination with our air strikes,” Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Christine Wormuth told journalists on a call on the new strategy Oct. 9.

Until last Friday, America and Turkey both supported the Sunni opposition to the Assad government with a view to eliminating Assad and installing a Sunni regime. That policy has been in shambles for months, but it allowed the Turks leeway to provide covert support to ISIS, the one Sunni force that shows effectiveness in the field. Russian intervention exposed the fecklessness of America’s attempts to find a “moderate” Syrian opposition to back. As the veteran strategist Edward Luttwak wrote last week in Tablet magazine:

Putin must certainly be innocent of the accusation that his air force has bombed the U.S.-trained “pro-democracy” freedom fighters, because the trainers themselves have admitted that the first lot on which one-tenth of the budget has been spent, i.e., $50 million, are exactly five in number, the rest having deserted after receiving their big family-support signing bonus and first paycheck, or after they were first issued with weapons (which they sold), or after first entering Syria in groups, when they promptly joined the anti-American Jabhat an-Nuṣrah, whose Sunni Islam they understand, unlike talk of democracy.

The Russians forced Washington to find something credible on the ground to support, and Washington turned to the Kurds, the only effective fighting force not linked to ISIS or al-Qaeda. That was precisely the result Turkey had wanted to avoid; the Kurdish military zone in northern Syria links up with Kurdish-controlled territory in northern Iraq, and the two zones form the core of a prospective Kurdish state.

Russia humiliated Turkey, meanwhile, by challenging Turkish fighters inside Turkish airspace, leaving NATO to protest loudly. Nonetheless the US and Germany have deactivated Patriot missile batteries–the only weapon system that represents a threat to Russian fighters–despite urgent Turkish requests to leave them in place. Russian fighters over Syria prevent the Turks from providing air cover for ISIS and other Islamist groups in Syria, as I noted Oct. 6 in our Chatham House Rules blog. M.K. Bhadrakumar observed in Asia Times Oct. 9, “Turkey’s scope for maneuvering vis-à-vis Russia is actually very limited and it has no option but to reach an understanding with Russia over Syria.”

Less obvious but no less ominous is the deterioration of Sino-Turkish relations due to Ankara’s covert support for the East Turkestan Independence Movement, a terrorist organization active among the Uyghurs of Western China. Despite official assurances, Turkey continues to provide safe passage to Turkey to thousands of Chinese Uyghurs via Southeast Asia, some of whom are fighting with ISIS in Syria. Thailand claims that Uyghur militants carried out the Aug. 17 bombing at Bangkok’s Erawan shrine after Thailand sent 109 Chinese Uyghurs back to China.

Erdogan has suffered not merely a collapse of his foreign policy, but a public humiliation by countries that backed his regime in the interests of regional stability–and this just before November’s parliamentary elections. After the Kurdish-backed HDP party took 13% of the national vote in last June’s elections and removed Erdogan’s majority in parliament, Erdogan called new elections rather than accept a coalition government. Erdogan also revived military operations against Turkish Kurds in order to elicit support from Turkish nationalists, a transparent maneuver widely reported in the major media.

As the New York Times reported August 5,

Having already delayed the formation of a coalition government, analysts say, Mr. Erdogan is now buttressing his party’s chances of winning new elections by appealing to Turkish nationalists opposed to self-determination for the Kurdish minority. Parallel to the military operations against the Kurds has been an effort to undermine the political side of the Kurdish movement by associating it with the violence of the P.K.K., which has also seemed eager to return to fighting.

Instead of responding to Erdogan’s provocation, the Kurds have shelved military operations in order to concentrate on winning votes in the November elections. After the Saturday bomb attacks, Thomas Seibert noted in the Daily Beast:

Observers agreed that the Ankara blast was probably linked to a decision by the PKK rebels to suspend hostilities with Ankara. The PKK had hinted in recent days that it would declare a new ceasefire in order to boost the HDP’s election chances. The people behind the attack wanted to “prevent the ceasefire” from coming into effect, respected journalist Kadri Gursel tweeted. The PKK’s ceasefire announcement became public shortly after the attack, but the decision by the rebels had probably been taken before.

In short, Erdogan now contemplates American heavy weapons in the hands of Syrian Kurds; the end of Turkey’s ability to provide air support for Sunni rebels in Syria; a Russian campaign to roll up the Sunni opposition, including Turkey’s assets in the field; and a collapse of his parliamentary majority due to an expanding Kurdish vote at home.

Whether the AKP government itself ordered the Ankara bombing, or simply looked the other way while ISIS conducted the bombing, both Turkey and global opinion will assume that the ghastly events in Ankara on Saturday reflect the desperation of the Erdogan regime. Regimes that resort to this sort of atrocity do not last very long.

The best thing that Turkey could do under the circumstances would be to ask the United Nations to supervise a plebiscite to allow Kurdish-majority areas to secede if they so chose. The mountains of southeastern Turkey with the highest concentration of Kurds are a drain on the national budget and of no strategic importance. Neither Erdogan nor his nationalist opposition, though, will consider such action; that would undermine both Erdogan’s neo-Ottomanism as well as the old secular nationalism. The pressures under the tectonic plates will only get worse. Saturday’s bombing may have demarcated the end of the Turkish state that arose out of the First World War.

David P. Goldman is a Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the Wax Family Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Turkey: America’s Really Bad “Faustian Bargain”

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

  • Turkey cannot fight the Islamic State (IS) and the Kurds, who are the essential ground force of any coalition campaign against IS, at the same time forever.
  • “…America’s deal with Turkey will prove to be a Faustian bargain. Short-term operational convenience is not worth the long-term danger of destabilizing Turkey and demoralizing the Kurdish forces that have carried the bulk of the burden in fighting militants.” — Eric Edelman, former U.S. ambassador to Ankara and former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.

Many people believed that the Turks and their Kurdish compatriots were close to a historic handshake when, in 2013, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdish separatist movement, Abdullah Ocalan, declared a farewell to arms after a three-decade-long violent campaign that had left nearly 40,000 dead — Turks and Kurds. The Turkish government would grant broader political rights to its restive Kurds, who demand regional autonomy. In return, the Kurds would conduct politics peacefully instead of seeking their rights with rifles in their hands.

Slightly more than two years later, Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast is seeing the same bloodshed it saw before the 2013 truce. On July 20, a suicide bomber belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Islamic State, or IS) murdered more than 30 pro-Kurdish activists in a small Turkish town bordering Syria. Before that, another IS operative detonated a bomb at a Kurdish political rally in Diyarbakir, the capital of Turkey’s Kurds, killing four people and injuring over 200.

The scene of the suicide bombing in Suruc, Turkey. An ISIS suicide bomber murdered 32 people and wounded more than 100 others in a July 20 attack on Kurdish humanitarian activists. (Image source: VOA video screenshot)

The jihadist attacks on Kurds ignited a new spiral of violence from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the notorious armed wing of the Kurdish political movement. An autonomous PKK cell killed two Turkish police officers at their home during their sleep. In retaliation, Turkey has since been pounding PKK strongholds in northern Iraq.

Between June 1 and August 29 of this year, a total of 129 people (over 50 civilians) were killed in clashes, and 526 were injured. Those numbers must be higher by now, as every new day adds to the death toll of the Turkish-Kurdish conflict. The number of casualties does not include the nearly 1,000 PKK militants the Turkish military claims it has killed in ongoing air strikes since late July. The combined Turkish-Kurdish death toll should now be close to 1,500.

This is a very Middle Eastern war; not so easy to read for the Western eye:

  • Turkey is fighting the Kurds at home and in Iraq; but it also has friendly economic ties with the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq, which has been trying to perform a balancing act between Turkey and their more radical brethren, the PKK.
  • Turkey recently joined the allied campaign against IS. So, Turkey is fighting IS and, at the same time, its regional nemesis, the Syrian Kurds.
  • The Kurds are fighting both Turkey and IS, Turkey’s declared enemy.
  • Turkey is a NATO ally and a partner of the U.S.-led war on IS, but is also fighting the Kurds.
  • The Kurds are the only “[proxy] U.S. boots on the ground in the fight against IS.”

Too complicated? Just Middle Eastern. And note that the “friend-and-foe” tableaux here are only a microcosm of the much more complex and broader affairs in this part of the world.

One thing, however, looks like a near certainty. Turkey cannot fight IS and Kurds, the essential ground force of any coalition campaign against IS, at the same time forever.

The Turkish campaign against the PKK sounds as if it is an air force bombing allied ground troops.

Eric Edelman, a former U.S. ambassador to Ankara and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy (2005-2009), put it realistically in a recent article in the New York Times:

“…America’s deal with Turkey will prove to be a Faustian bargain. Short-term operational convenience is not worth the long-term danger of destabilizing Turkey and demoralizing the Kurdish forces that have carried the bulk of the burden in fighting militants.

“An ally racked by violence and insurgency simply can’t play the role that the United States needs a secular, democratic Turkey to play in the turbulent Middle East.

“Fortunately, America does have leverage. Turkish officials desperately crave the approval of their counterparts in Washington; the United States must not grant it.

“Instead, the Obama administration should restrict Turkey’s access to senior-level meetings, reduce intelligence cooperation and withhold American support for Turkey in international financial institutions in the likely event that Mr. Erdogan’s policies precipitate an economic crisis.

“Getting Turkish leaders to change course will be extremely difficult, but it is imperative to pressure them if Turkey is to avoid being sucked into the vortex created by a failed Syria policy and Mr. Erdogan’s dogged quest for absolute political power.”

Edelman is right. Turkish President Erdogan’s dogged quest for absolute political power is not just poisoning Turkey but also its allies and their fight against Islamist extremism.

Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a Turkish columnist for the Hürriyet Daily and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Also see:

Turkey: “An End to an Era of Oppression”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also see:

Erdogan vs. the New York Times, and Democracy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Turkish army forms ceremonial Ottoman unit on Erdoğan’s order

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

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

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

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

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


Also see:

Muslim Brotherhood Stands by Turkey over Genocidal Jihad of Armenians

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

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

CSP, by Kyle Shideler, April 23, 2015:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bostom writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

World View: Reports Indicate Egypt, Italy, Russia Planning Military Action in Libya



Breitbart, by JOHN J. XENAKIS, March 1, 2015:

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Reports indicate Egypt, Italy, Russia planning military action in Libya
  • Egypt court declares Hamas to be a terrorist organization
  • Egypt and Turkey may try to create a ‘Sunni front’ with Saudi Arabia

Reports indicate Egypt, Italy, Russia planning military action in Libya

Russian warships in the Mediterranean (Russia Today)
Russian warships in the Mediterranean (Russia Today)

Various unconfirmed reports are emerging indicating that there may be joint international action planned in Libya as early as next week.

Egypt is already conducting air strikes against ISIS-linked targets in Derna, close to where Egyptian Coptics were massacred recently, as displayed in a gruesome video. Debka reports that Egypt’s president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi is planning further action in Libya, including more air strikes and possible ground troops, within a few days. According to the report, Egyptian commando and marine forces are preparing for sea landings to seize Derna and destroy the terrorist elements there. If this attack is actually launched, it will be the first time in modern times that an Arab country has sent ground forces into another Arab country.

Al-Jazeera television reports that the Italian navy is getting ready to carry off sophisticated military drills off the coast of Libya as early as Monday. Although Italy claims that it will be a regular exercise, there are many more vessels taking part in this year’s exercise than have in the past, which Italy explains by saying that they are testing out sophisticated new technologies.

There are several reasons why Italy is pursuing this show of force:

  • Italy considers the flood of migrants from Libya into Italy to be an existential threat to Italy itself, because there may be ISIS-trained terrorists smuggled in, along with the other migrants. Italy may be planning some kind of military action in Libya in conjunction with Egypt’s air strikes and other operations.
  • The GreenStream pipeline is a gas pipeline running underneath the Mediterranan Sea from Libya to Sicily. The pipeline is vital to economic relations between Italy and Libya. In recent months, there have been attacks by gunmen on oil installations in Libya, forcing some ports to shut down. The new show of naval force may be related to threats of attack or sabotage on the pipeline.
  • For over a year, Italy ran a search and rescue program called “Mare Nostrum” (“Our Sea”) that saved the lives of thousands of migrants attempting to travel from Libya to Italy. This program required Italian naval vessels near the Libyan coast. In November, the program ended and an EU program called Triton replaced it, but Triton restricts its operations to only 30 miles off the Italian coast. Triton has been considered unsatisfactory because many more migrants are drowning. Italy’s new show of naval force may be an attempt to restore a portion of the Mare Nostrum program.
  • Related to the last point, on Saturday there were large demonstrations in Rome by Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League party for the government to do more to keep immigrants out. The naval show of force may help to mollify the protestors.

Some reports indicate that Russia has hinted at a willingness to participate in a naval blockade of Libya to prevent arm supplies from leaving Libya for other countries. Russia could play a role in this because it already has a naval fleet in the Mediterranean.

These are all unconfirmed reports of possible military action in Libya by Egypt, Italy and Russia. There are no reports of possible participation by Nato or the United States. Debkaand Cairo Post

Egypt court declares Hamas to be a terrorist organization

Egypt on Saturday became the first Arab country to name Hamas as a terrorist organization. The U.S. and the European Union have named Hamas as a terror group. An EU court took Hamas off the list in December 2014, ruling that the designation was not based on solid legal evidence, but the EU is appealing the court’s decision.

According to a decision on Saturday from the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters:

It has been proven without any doubt that the movement has committed acts of sabotage, assassinations and the killing of innocent civilians and members of the armed forces and police in Egypt.

It has been also ascertained with documents that [Hamas] has carried out bombings that have taken lives and destroyed institutions and targeted civilians and the armed forces personnel. It has also been ascertained that this movement works for the interests of the terrorist Brotherhood organization [which Egypt has already declared to be a terrorist organization].

About a month ago, the same court declared Hamas’s military wing, Al-Qassam Brigades, to be a terrorist organization. Saturday’s ruling makes the political wing a terrorist organization as well.

A Hamas spokesman denied all the charges and said that the ruling was “dangerous”:

History has recorded Egypt’s support to national liberty movements in the Arab world and Africa, particularly in Palestine. … This ruling serves the Israeli occupation. It’s a politicized decision that constitutes the beginning of Egypt evading its role toward the Palestinian cause. This is a coup against history and an Egyptian abuse of the Palestinian cause and resistance, which fights on behalf of the Arab nation. We call on Egypt to reconsider this dangerous decision.

Al Jazeera and Al Ahram (Cairo) and CS Monitor and Al Resalah (Palestine)

Egypt and Turkey may try to create a ‘Sunni front’ with Saudi Arabia

By coincidence or by planning, the presidents of both Egypt and Turkey will be in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, this week. Egypt’s Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan will both be visiting King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, the new king of Saudi Arabia, who has replaced King Abdullah, who died last month.

It is not known whether Erdogan will ever be in the same room as al-Sisi. The two have been bitter enemies ever since a coup by al-Sisi ousted Egypt’s elected president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, and later declared MB to be a terrorist organization. Erdogan’s own political party, the AKP, is an Islamist party like the Muslim Brotherhood, and they had good relations while Morsi was in power.

There has been some speculation that King Salman is going to completely reverse King Abdullah’s policy on the Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) had branded MB as a terrorist organization, but some are wondering if Salman is going to shift from that policy. The Saudi foreign minister recently said that his government has “no problem with the Muslim Brotherhood; our problem is with a small group affiliated to the organization,” suggesting that shift is in the works.

Other problems make an Egypt-Turkey rapprochement unlikely: Erdogan vitriolicly hates Israel and supports Hamas. Al-Sisi vitriolicly hates Hamas and works closely with Israel on military matters, especially in North Sinai. It does n0t seem likely that any meeting, if one even occurs, will be pleasant.

If King Salman is able to pull off a miracle and mediate a new relationship between Egypt and Turkey, then it would appear to be the establishment of a new “Sunni front” in the Mideast, to oppose Iran, Hezbollah and the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Al Arabiya and Kurdistan and Arab Times

Erdogan Grooms a New Jihad Generation

by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
January 6, 2015

913First, he promised to build a new, “religious generation.” Now, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears to be going one step further: creating, too, a new generation for jihad.

If that sounds a bit like the Islamic State, there is one significant distinction: IS leaders shape their youth by teaching them to use Kalashnikovs and knives. Erdogan is shaping children’s minds. And that can be far more dangerous.

This is not to say that Erdogan is himself a terrorist leader, despite his cozy relationships with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. And perhaps has has never realized the full gravity of his programs. But is there, leaving many in Turkey’s Western, secular, intellectual elite to worry about their children’s future.

Throughout his leadership, beginning with his election to prime minister in 2003, Erdogan has restructured the formerly-secular education system overseeing the growth of imam hatip, or religious training schools, throughout the country. According to the Financial Times, such schools boasted 63,000 students in 2002-2003; by 2014, the number of imam hatip students had exploded to 983,000.

What makes this particularly disturbing is the fact that tens, if not hundreds of thousands of these students never signed up for imam hatips to begin with. Rather, Erdogan systematically reshaped existing secular public schools and redesigned the student examination system so that thousands of children are assigned to imam hatipseven against their will.

But he hasn’t stopped there. As of a year ago, all public schools also provide mandatory “religious culture and ethics” courses beginning at age nine. Yet despite a 2007 European Court of Human Rights ruling requiring education in all religions, human rights lawyer and columnist Orhan Kemal Cengiz writes in Al-Monitor, “Sunni Islam continues to be imposed, with students required to memorize Islamic prayers and Quranic verses.”

Now Turkey’s first democratically-elected president has, through his education minister, expanded such “morality” classes to begin in nursery school, where six-year-olds will receive such lessons as “patience protects young people’s chastity in environments full of illegitimate desires.” Children throughout the Republic, according to newspaper Milliyet, will also learn that “death is a blessing according to our faith. It means salvations from the heavy burden of living.”

Can calls for martyrdom be far behind?

Moreover, the “morality” and “values” lessons being taught to many of Turkey’s youth are being given by teachers whose religious and political leanings heavily tint their “moral” views. At Istanbul’s 500-year-old Galatasaray academy, a student’s mother told me, one teacher taught her class that green is the color both of inner peace and of Islam. But be careful, the teacher said. Starbucks’ logo is also green, yet she would never buy her coffee from them: “the owners of Starbucks are Jews, and the Jews are killing our Muslim brothers.” A Jewish girl in the class remained silent; but when her mother complained to the school’s director, he did nothing.

And so goes “morality” for the future of the Turkish people.

These latest moves follow another, significant effort: requiring schools to teach the Ottoman language and alphabet, both of which were banned by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1928, five years after the founding of the Republic.

This, as Al Jazeera recently pointed out, is no small matter. Ataturk banned Ottoman as a language, including its written form – which melded Arabic and Farsi script –as a critical part of his program to turn the country Westward: modern Turkish uses a Western, Latin alphabet and incorporates words from English and German. Few contemporary Turks can read Ottoman, and even fewer understand Arabic or Farsi.

But a culture rests profoundly on its language. Stanford University psychology professor Lera Boroditsky has found that “if you change how people talk, that changes how they think. If people learn another language, they inadvertently also learn a new way of looking at the world … All this new research shows us that the languages we speak not only reflect or express our thoughts, but also shape the very thoughts we wish to express. The structures that exist in our languages profoundly shape how we construct reality.”

By reintroducing Ottoman as a language, especially alongside religious educational systems, Erdogan is returning his country to its Ottoman, Islamic past both in knowledge and in thought – and away from the modern secular state that has long been a partner and ally of the West. And in his oft-underestimated shrewdness, he is using the minds of Turkey’s youngest to lead the way: those six-year-olds now learning to honor death and memorize the Quran and identify with the glory of the Ottomans will, in 12 years, enter the nation’s military.

Which seems to be just what Erdogan has had in mind all along. Writing in World Affairs Journal in 2013, Hillel Fradkin and Lewis Libby pointed to a little-noticed remarkthen-Prime Minister Erdogan made to his congress, in which he called on the country’s youth to look beyond the 100th anniversary of the Republic in 2023 and to prepare for the year 2071. “This is a date that is unlikely to be meaningful for Westerners,” Fradkin and Libby observe, “but is evocative for many Turks. 2071 will mark one thousand years since the Battle of Manzikert. There, the Seljuk Turks—a tribe originally from Central Asia—decisively defeated the leading Christian power of that era, the Byzantine Empire, and thereby stunned the medieval world. At the battle’s end, the Seljuk leader stepped on the Christian emperor’s throat to mark Christendom’s humiliation. The Seljuk victory began a string of events that allowed the Seljuk Turks to capture the lands of modern Turkey and create an empire that would stretch across much of Palestine, Iraq, Syria, and Iran.

In evoking Manzikert, Erdogan recalled for today’s Turks the glories of their aggressive warrior ancestors who had set out to conquer non-Muslim lands and, along the way, fought off the hated Shias of their day to dominate much of the Middle East.”

Less than two years later, with ISIS building its caliphate-by-blood just across the border, the shaping of the new Erdogan generation looks more threatening than ever.

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

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:

A Turkish Quest to “Liberate” Jerusalem

Gatestone Institute, by Burak Bekdil, Nov.13, 2014:

Both Turkey’s President Erdogan and its Prime Minister Davutoglu have declared countess times that Gaza and Jerusalem (in addition to Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Somalia, and the Maghreb) are Turkey’s “domestic affairs.”

In truth, there is no mention of any city’s name in the Qur’an.

Turks have a different understanding of what constitutes an occupation and a conquest of a city. The Turkish rule is very simple: The capture of a foreign city by force is an occupation if that city is Turkish (or Muslim) and the capture of a city by force is conquest if the city belongs to a foreign nation (or non-Muslims).

For instance, Turks still think the capture of Istanbul in 1453 was not occupation; it was conquest.

In a 2012 speech, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (then Prime Minister) said: “Just like Mecca, Cairo and Istanbul are cities of the Qur’an.” In truth, there is no mention of any city’s name in the Qur’an. Never mind.

“Conquest,” Turkey’s top Muslim cleric, Professor Mehmet Gormez, declared in 2012, “is not to occupy lands or destroy cities and castles. Conquest is the conquest of hearts!” That is why, the top Turkish cleric said, “In our history there has never been occupation.” Instead, Professor Gormez said, “in our history, there has always been conquest.” He further explained that one pillar of conquest is to “open up minds to Islam, and hearts to the Qur’an.”

It is in this religious justification that most Turkish Islamists think they have an Allah-given right to take infidel lands by the force of sword — ironically, not much different from what the tougher Islamists have been doing in large parts of Syria and Iraq. Ask any commander in the Islamic State and he would tell you what the jihadists are doing there is “opening up minds to Islam, and hearts to the Qur’an.”

Both President Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu have declared countless times that Gaza and Jerusalem (in addition to Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Somalia and the Maghreb) are Turkey’s “domestic affairs.”

This author wrote in this journal on Oct. 30:

In reality, with or without the normalization of diplomatic relations between Ankara and Jerusalem, the Turks have never hidden their broader goals in the Arab-Israeli dispute: that Jerusalem should be the capital of a Palestinian state; and that Israel should be pushed back to its pre-1967 borders. Until then, it will be ‘halal’ [permitted in Islam] for Erdogan to blame Israel for global warming, the Ebola virus, starvation in Africa and every other misfortune the world faces.

As if to confirm this whimsical view, Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan has blamed Israel for democratic failings in the Arab world. “Israel works with [undemocratic] regimes and keeps its ship afloat.” So, it is because of Israel that Arab nations have never established democratic culture — before or after 1948; or before or after the Arab Spring revolts. But fortunately, Palestinians have a new “protector.”

From Prime Minister Davutoglu’s public speech on November 7:

Al-Aqsa [mosque in Jerusalem] will one day be liberated. The Israelis should know that the oppressed Syrians have a protector. The oppressed Palestinians too have a protector. That protector is Turkey. Just as Bursa [the Turkish city where he spoke] ended its occupation, the honorable Palestinians, honorable Muslims will end the [Israeli] occupation. Just as Osman Gazi [a sepulchre in Bursa] was liberated, al-Aqsa too will be liberated. Al-Quds [Jerusalem] is both our first prayer direction and has been entrusted with us by history. It has been entrusted with us by Hazrat Omar. The last freedom seen in Jerusalem was under our [Ottoman] rule. Al-Quds is our cause. It is the occupying, oppressive Israeli government that has turned the Middle East into a quagmire.

Echoing that view, President Erdogan said that protecting Islamic sites in the Holy Land is a sacred mission (for his government), and bluntly warned that any attack against the al-Aqsa mosque is no different than an attack on the Kaaba in the holy city of Mecca.

Spot the difference: In the eyes of Turkey’s political and religious leadership, Istanbul and its Hagia Sophia (once a Greek Orthodox Basilica) were legitimately “conquered” by the Muslim Ottomans, while Jerusalem and its al-Aqsa mosque (built atop the ruins of the Jewish Temples) are illegally “occupied” by Israel. (Images source: Wikimedia Commons)

No doubt, after Gaza, al-Aqsa (and Jerusalem) has become a powerful Turkish obsession, and a treasure-trove of votes, especially in view of Turkey’s parliamentary elections next June. And do not expect the Turkish leadership only to corrupt facts. Plain fabrication is a more favored method. All the same, someone, sometimes, would unwillingly reveal the truth often when trying to corrupt other facts.

Since Davutoglu claimed that “Jerusalem has been entrusted with the Turks by Hazrat Omar,” it may be useful to refresh memories. Hazrat Omar is Omar bin Al-Khattab (579-644), one of the most powerful and influential Muslim caliphs in history. Within the context of “conquest vs. occupation,” he was referenced by the top cleric, Professor Gormez in a 2012 speech:

After Hazrat Omar conquered al-Quds [Jerusalem], he was invited to pray at a church [as there were no mosques yet in Jerusalem]. But he politely refused because he was worried that the [conquering] Muslims could turn the church into a mosque after he prayed there.

Since medieval historical facts cannot have changed over the past two years, the top Turkishulama [religious scholar], referencing a most powerful Muslim caliph, is best witness that when the Muslims had first arrived in Jerusalem there was not a single mosque in the city. Why? Because Jerusalem was not a Muslim city. Why, then, do Turkish Islamists claim that it is Muslim? Because it once had been “conquered.” Would the same Turks surrender Istanbul to the occupying forces that took the city after World War I because its capture in 1920 made it a non-Turkish city? No, that was not conquest, that was occupation!

Had Messrs Erdogan and Davutoglu been schoolchildren, such reasoning might have been called bullying and cheating.

Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a Turkish columnist for the Hürriyet Daily and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Basting Turkey’s New Prime Minister

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

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

by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
August 28, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Turkish consulate in Mosul before its seizure.

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

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

ISIS Declares War On Hamas And The Muslim Brotherhood

771By Walid ShoebatAugust 23, 2014:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shanqeeti mocked Qaradawi’s fatwa saying:

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

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

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

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

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

Also see:

Time to Part Ways with Erdogan

erdoganby Ari Lieberman:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Front Page