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

by Yaakov Lappin
Special to IPT News
December 18, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cooperation may not always be close, but it exists.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turkey, Friend or Foe?

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

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

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

The replies from Yasin Aktay are telling.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Erdogan’s treachery goes much deeper.

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Frontpage

The Threat of Qatar: Is the American Media and Political Class finally waking up?

Skyline of Doha at night - Wikipedia

Skyline of Doha at night – Wikipedia

By William Michael – Qatar Awareness Campaign

Over the past two days, several news reports have emerged that suggest the media and, yes, even some politicians in Washington, have begun to appreciate the threat posed by the small Gulf State of Qatar.

On December 9, a bipartisan group of 24 members of Congress wrote a letter to the Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, David S. Cohen, that stated in part:

“We are concerned about the ties between Qatar and Hamas, and we commend you on your speech before the Center for a New American Security, where you stated that, ‘Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas,’ and that press reports indicate that the Qatari government is also ‘supporting extremist groups operating in Syria,’ further adding to the instability of the region. As you noted in your speech, there are private fundraising networks in Qatar that solicit donations for terrorists. Qatar, in your words, is ‘a permissive terrorist financing environment.’”

It urged Treasury to focus on terrorist financing from Qatar and another Muslim Brotherhood-dominated country, Turkey. They made it clear that anti-terrorism officials in Treasury should do everything possible in their power to end Qatari and Turkish financing of jihadi groups. These groups have destabilized the Middle East and North Africa, and are a significant factor in America’s rapidly deteriorating relations with Russia.

On December 10, The Daily Beast published an article that, for the mainstream press, called Qatar out pretty straight: as they put it, they’re “the world’s most two-faced nation.”

Two-faced indeed. Qatar simultaneously hosts, and pays for the campuses of, Georgetown (where they help train American diplomats), Carnegie Mellon (which is in partnership with the Department of Defense), and Cornell, yet also hosts the Nazi-rooted Muslim Brotherhood. They try to pass themselves off as “progressives,” but have been implicated in funding the genocidal armies of ISIS. Qatar’s capital, Doha, is home to two large American military bases and CENTCOM for the region, yet 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was a guest of their Minister of Religious Affairs from 1992-1996.

How do they get away with this behavior? Surely, a lack of public awareness about the tiny country is one reason. Most Americans have never heard of Qatar, and even fewer know how to pronounce its name – “cutter,” or depending on the Arabic accent, “gutter.” And yes, anonymity is an asset to any criminal, especially a criminal regime.

But while anonymity only goes so far, a vast ocean of money goes much further. Qatar is, per capita, the richest country in the world (~$93,000 in 2013). With the globe’s third largest natural gas reserves (behind Russia and Iran), the less than 300,000 Qatari citizens have cash to burn.

And, since we’re on the topic of burning, Qatar’s foreign policy seems to be that of burning down their neighbors’ countries (unfortunately, with American backing). The Arab Spring, which a) caused widespread death and destruction in Egypt b) left Syria in an unending civil war, and c) still has Libya in a state of utter chaos, further complicated by a Qatari proxy war against Egypt and the UAE… all these Islamist insurrections were and are backed by the Qatari government; specifically, by the Muslim Brotherhood leaders who reside there and the sympathizing Al-Thani royal family. More than any other nation, it is Qatar who is seeking to re-establish an Islamic Caliphate. To accomplish this, they don’t much care if the world, and infidel, are lit on fire.

The other side of Islamist gangs, which is rarely given enough coverage in the media, is the organized crime aspect of these stateless, revolutionary entities. Whether it’s Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Qaeda in Iraq, AQIM across North Africa, or the Taliban in Afghanistan, Islamist terrorist organizations double as cartels. Narcotics, human trafficking, racketeering, and the usual terrorizing of local populations are their trademarks.

It should come as a surprise to no one that tiny, corrupt, and fabulously wealthy Qatar has at one time or another financed all of the above terrorist groups.

Do you think that the Al-Thanis do this out of the goodness of their Islamist hearts? Or is it more realistic to think that, just maybe, they are recipients of ill-gotten billions resulting from organized crime?

To explain the Qatari way of “diplomacy” to yourself, try this thought experiment. A man in a very expensive suit hands you five checkbooks. He gives you a mission: make as many friends as possible, who, should his reputation ever be questioned in public, will come to his defense. To accomplish this, you are permitted write checks up to $10 million and hand them out freely. Considering how much political coverage and favors can be purchased from American politicians and media for relatively less, it’s no wonder Qatar has so many “friends.”

In fact, Qatar’s “friends” comprise a veritable “Who’s Who” of the American (and even international) establishment. During the month of October, the Qatar Awareness Campaign, an ad hoc Coalition of concerned journalists, activists, publishers, and researchers published a letter each weekday, identifying American interests and individuals compromised by Qatari money and/or who toe the Qatari line. Many of the figures named might surprise you: Michael Bloomberg, ExxonMobil, Al Gore,John McCain, The Boeing Company, Miramax, the Chamber of Commerce, CNN, Harvard University,Bill and Hillary Clinton, FIFA, to name just a few.

Do you see now why it has taken so long for the political and media figures to finally peep up, even just a little? Hint: they’re bought off, paid for… and you – the American citizen – don’t have a blank checkbook like the terror masters in Doha.

Maybe, just maybe, the tide is beginning to turn. If the American public, and the global public, understood that the U.S. government had as one of its closest allies a narco-terror slave state, the politicians would be forced to act, if merely to save face. Terrorism in the United States is still a crime, and those who support it are therefore guilty under penalty of law.

Recently, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced he was resigning from his position as the civilian head of the Pentagon. Among the most prominent reasons given for his departure was the continuing debacle in the Middle East.   It was also reported that he never established a good relationship with Obama’s inner circle. In this respect, Hagel’s frustrations were certainly in no small part tied to Qatar; for it was the Qatari royal family, the Al-Thanis, who bankrolled and strategically coordinated the Arab Spring, and who remain so intimate with the administration as to accept and shelter the Taliban 5 for the deserter Bowe Bergdahl. (That infamous deal, it is worth mentioning, was finalized while the former Qatari Emir was visiting with Obama at West Point, attending the graduation of his son.)

Hagel, if pressed, may indeed admit that Obama’s alliance with Qatar and the Al-Thanis was the ultimate driver behind his resignation. Might we soon get some truth from the only Republican in Obama’s cabinet?

Secretary Hagel, your country needs you to speak up NOW!

Originally posted at Right Side News

Congress Calls for Increased Sanctions on Hamas Allies

Khaled Meshaal , head of Hamas Politburo in Damascus / AP

Khaled Meshaal , head of Hamas Politburo in Damascus / AP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turkey also remains one of Hamas’ top enablers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also see:

Clifford D. May: Rise of the neo-Ottomans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also see:

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

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

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

By Jerry Gordon and Mike Bates:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at NER

Turkey’s Hamas ‘bureau’

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

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

By Shlomi Eldar:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Al Monitor

The Real Turkish Agenda…

ISIS Study Group , November 21, 2014:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more

***

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

Published on Nov 18, 2014 by MEMRITVVideos

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

Also see:

Erdogan’s Boast of Muslims Discovering America is pure Hokum

Turkish President Erdogan at Latin American Muslim Leader Summit Istanbul 11-16-14 Sources; Reuters

Turkish President Erdogan at Latin American Muslim Leader Summit Istanbul 11-16-14
Sources; Reuters

NER, by Jerry Gordon, Nov. 16, 2014:

In a book, The Dark Knight by Harvey Dent, there is an exchange between a criminal, Tejeda and a judge that defines moral choice:  you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.   President Erdogan, an elected dictator and avowed Muslim Brotherhood supporter has made that choice given his record of human rights abuses of his own people in Turkey and tacit support for Salafist barbarians like the Islamic State, formerly ISIS.  Attacks by members of the Turkish Youth Union on US sailors on shore leave, captured on video, in Istanbul with red paint and plastic bags this past week left an indelible impression of how he despises NATO allies. Will those attackers who shouted “Yankees go home”, “pay the price” as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu sought to soften the attack at a G-20 press conference in Australia.

 

To top that incident  we had  Erdogan’s  resurrection of a hoary fabrication in a Summit with Latin American Clerics in Istanbul this weekend.  His assertion was that Muslims discovered America centuries before Columbus.  That was based on a  literary reference from Columbus’  chronicle of his voyages  that he thought a formation on a mountain in Cuba looked like a Mosque. Erdogan used that fraudulent claim to endorse his earlier suggestion that he might condone building a Mosque in Communist Cuba. It also gave him leave to castigate a former ally now an avowed enemy, Sheikh Fehtulleh Gulen in exile in Pennsylvania with his globe girdling network of schools.  Erdogan said, “Islam is being abused by Those who use Quran for their own interests, by Those who open schools abroad.” A BBC report on his latest  agit-propaganda  “Muslims found Americas before Columbus says Turkey’s Erdogan”,  boosting his anti-West and anti-US agenda noted:

Mr. Erdogan also said “Muslim sailors arrived in America in 1178″.

He said he was willing to build a mosque at the site Columbus identified.

The Turkish president – whose AK Party is rooted in political Islam – gave no further evidence to back up his theory, instead stating: “Contacts between Latin America and Islam date back to the 12th Century.”

Controversial article

Columbus is widely believed to have discovered the Americas in 1492, while trying to find a new route to India.

But in a disputed article published in 1996, historian Youssef Mroueh said Columbus’ entry was proof that Muslims had reached the Americas first and that “the religion of Islam was widespread”.

However many scholars believe the reference is metaphorical, describing an aspect of the mountain that resembled part of a mosque.

No Islamic structures have been found in America that pre-date Columbus.

Mroueh is a Muslim author, historian of science and radiation control physicist at the Center for Biological & Computational Learning and CSAIL (MIT)

Mroueh’s fiction was published  in an article in 1996 on what he claimed was  the 1,000th anniversary of the Muslim discovery of the Americas,  His fiction  keeps turning up like the proverbial bad penny in publications that American school children have and are using like the Arab World Studies Notebook.  See our post about the conflict in Newton, Massachusetts  raised by  Dr. Charles Jacobs and America for Peace and Tolerance concerning the use of flagrantly proselytizing Muslim and pro-Palestinian materials.  Americans would call Turkish President Erdogan his remarks about Muslims discovering America pure hokum; others might call it by its rightful name, taqiyya, for Islamic religiously inspired dissimilitude, lying for his god Allah.

Eight years ago in 2006, Mroueh’s and the Arab World Studies Notebook claims that Muslims had discovered America came up short.  An article by Deborah Fachner in History News Network of George Mason University eviscerating the fiction, “Did Muslims Visit America Before Columbus?

Note these excerpts from Fachner’s HNN investigation:

Mroueh cited an Australian archeologist, Dr. Barry Fell, a marine biologist who claimed to find extensive archeological evidence of a significant Muslim presence in the New World in his book, Saga America. Fell drew parallels between West African peoples and Native Americans in the southwest, including cultural and linguistic similarities, and the existence of Islamic petroglyphs in the southwestern region. In particular, Fell mentioned a carving that he believed was done centuries before Columbus that states in Arabic: “Yasus bin Maria” (Jesus son of Mary), a phrase commonly found in the Koran.

Fell’s claims though have been ridiculed by professional archaeologists. They were enraged by his claims, deriding not only his findings, but his inflexible and rigid presentation of them, without the usual caution that characterizes academic pronouncements. Fell’s methods came into question, as detractors noted: “His claims for scientific rigour might hold for marine biology, but when it comes to archaeological interpretation, he ignored the usual rules of evidence.” (Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Cult and Fringe)

Other claims have been similarly criticized. In 2002 the Middle East Policy Council published the Arab World Studies Notebook, a teacher’s guide to understanding and teaching students about Arab culture. The text claims that Arab explorers came to America in advance of Columbus, marrying Algonquin Indians whose descendants eventually became tribal chiefs with names like Adbul-Rahim and Abdallah Ibn Malik. The Notebook and its editor, Audrey Shabbas, came under intense fire for failing to provide corroborating evidence. According to the Washington Times, Shabbas and the Council were slow to respond to concerns from various sources. Peter DiGangi, director of Canada’s Algonquin Nation Secretariat calls her claims “outlandish” and says that “nothing in the tribe’s written or oral history supports them.”

Another critique came from William Bennetta, professional editor and President of the Textbook League. Bennetta referred to the text’s “flights of pseudo historical fakery.” Among other issues, he called the Notebook to task for offering no support for its claim that the Americas were seemingly full of Muslims and Muslim descendants when Columbus arrived. He noted that the Notebook does not even name the English explorers who supposedly found the Algonquin chiefs. Bennetta wrote to Shabbas to inquire about some of the unsubstantiated claims in the Notebook, and while he received a reply, “she didn’t send me [Bennetta] any citation. She made some evasive claims about some published ‘works’.”

In an article featured at David Horowitz’s frontpagemag.com in 2004, David Yeagley, adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma, called the Notebook “intellectual genocide on American Indians,” noting that the authors “simply created an Indian story to suit the purposes of the advocacy group, and published it in a school text manual as fact.” Yeagley believed that Shabbas and the other authors were simply trying to gain acceptance for Arabs, further integrating them into American culture by making them ‘native.’ Shabbas also came under fire from the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, which published a report called “The Stealth Curriculum: Manipulating America’s History Teachers.” The report was critical of many sources that are used by history teachers, noting that sometimes there is no way to ascertain the accuracy of materials provided for teachers. In particular, the report referred to the Notebook as “propaganda.”

Turkish President Erdogan is conveying pure hokum, ‘meaningless nonsense’ claiming that Muslims discovered America in 1178 and not alleged crypto Jew Columbus in 1492. But if anyone deserves credit for discovering America  we have archeological proof that Norseman Leif Ericksson may have discovered America  half a millennia earlier around 1000 C.E. given the settlement uncovered  at L’Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of the island of Newfoundland.

Also see:

The real evidence of when Muslims discovered America dates back to the 1950’s, when the Muslim World League (MWL) helped finance stealth Muslim Brotherhood front groups like the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Muslim Students Association (MSA). Giving them the benefit of the doubt and saying their presence in the U.S. began in 1950, that would be 458 years after Columbus.

4 Turkish terrorists caught in Texas after being smuggled across border

nov13_chopperBy Stephen Dinan:

Four men flew from Istanbul through Paris to Mexico City in late August, where they were met by a Turkish-speaking man who stashed them in a safe house until their Sept. 3 attempt to cross into the U.S. over the border with Mexico.

Their capture by the Border Patrol in Texas set off a fierce debate over the men’s intentions, with some members of Congress saying they were terrorist fighters. Homeland Security officials, including Secretary Jeh Johnson, countered that they were part of the Kurdish resistance which, like the U.S., is fighting the Islamic State’s advance in Iraq.

But whether the men are linked to anti-U.S. jihadists or not, they admitted to being part of a U.S.-designated terrorist group, and their ability to get into the U.S. through the southern border — they paid $8,000 each to be smuggled into Texas — details the existence of a network capable of bringing terrorists across the border.

The four men’s story, as discerned from internal September and October documents reviewed by The Washington Times, also seems to contrast with what Mr. Johnson told Congress in September, when he assured lawmakers that the four men were not considered terrorist threats to the U.S., even as behind the scenes his department proposed the four be put on terrorist watch lists.

Homeland Security spokeswoman Marsha Catron said the individuals weren’t associated with the Islamic State, which is also known by the acronyms ISIL and ISIS.

“The suggestion that individuals who have ties to ISIL have been apprehended at the southwest border is categorically false, and not supported by any credible intelligence or the facts on the ground,” Ms. Catron said. “DHS continues to have no credible intelligence to suggest terrorist organizations are actively plotting to cross the southwest border.”

She did not reply to questions about the status of the four men or why her department proposed they be put on terrorist watch lists.

As of a month ago they were being held at the South Texas Detention Facility in Pearsall, Texas.

The men initially claimed to be members of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front, known by the acronym DHKP/C. The group is a Marxist insurgency that claimed credit for a 2013 suicide bomb attack on the U.S. embassy in Ankara, Turkey’s capital, last year.

But U.S. counterterrorism officials said the men were more likely members of the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has been battling for Kurdish rights within Turkey for decades, though recently PKK and Turkish leaders have tried to broker a political agreement.

Both the PKK and DHKP/C are listed by the State Department as terrorist groups.
Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, said the fact that avowed members of terrorist groups got into the U.S. shows it’s possible to sneak across a porous border.

“This incident proves what enforcement experts have always known, and that is there are existing networks in Mexico and Central America that have been set up and cultivated by a variety of terrorist organizations to enable them to move people into the United States illegally,” Ms. Vaughan said.

It’s unclear what the men were trying to do. None of them admitted to being part of a plot against the U.S., and several told investigators they were hoping to seek asylum, saying they believed they were being targeted back home by police in Turkey.

Read more at Washington Times

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.

American Sailors Attacked By Turkish Youth Group In Istanbul

 

IB Times Dion Rabouin:

Three U.S. sailors were shown on video being attacked and “sacked” by Turkish youths in Istanbul Wednesday. The three servicemen, who have not yet been identified, were in civilian clothes and were grabbed and had hoods placed on their heads by young men carrying the banner of a Turkish nationalist group, the Youth Union of Turkey.

The men targeted are believed to be sailors who were aboard the USS Ross, a warship docked in Istanbul after NATO training exercises in the Black Sea, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. “The video showing an assault on three visiting American sailors is appalling,” the U.S. Embassy in Ankara said via Twitter. “While we respect the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression, we have no doubt the vast majority of Turks would join us in rejecting an action that so disrespects Turkey’s reputation for hospitality.”

The group of assailants threw packets of red paint at the sailors after grabbing them and then put sacks over their heads. The three sailors removed the bags and ran away from the group.

The unidentified sailors in civilian clothes were walking in Eminönü, a central district of Istanbul, according to a local media report. Activists from the TGB approached one of them and asked whether he was with the sailors aboard the USS Ross. When he said he was, the group descended on him and began the attack.

“U.S. Navy officials are working with the embassy and NCIS to investigate the incident. The three sailors were unharmed and are safely back aboard. They did not require medical attention,” Capt. Greg Hicks, a spokesman with U.S. European Command, told CNN.

The group held up TGB banners as well as Turkish flags and called the sailors “murderers” and “killers” during the incident. After the three sailors fled, the group chanted, “Yankee, go home.” The group said it is protesting “American imperialism” in Turkey.

Also see:

EMET Phone Seminar: Dr. Jonathan Schanzer – Turkey and its Dubious Performance as an ‘Ally’

 

EMET is proud to host Dr. Jonathan Schanzer on a phone seminar to discuss Turkey.

Turkey is a supposed “ally” of the United States and NATO, yet many officials in Washington are doubting the loyalty of Ankara, which failed to join the U.S.-led air bombing campaign against the Islamic State. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan labeled the U.S. allied Kurds in Syria fighting the Islamic State as terrorists.One U.S. official reportedly said Turkey is secretly offering support to ISIS, and that many in Washington believe Turkey is partnering with Qatar to support Islamist groups in Libya. Moreover, Turkey has allowed weapons to be transported into Syria through its borders, as well as ISIS fighters to move freely between the two countries. There are ISIS cells operating throughout Turkey, and Ankara has turned a blind eye to ISIS selling smuggled oil. Turkey also has a track record of supporting Islamists, serving as a safe haven for senior Hamas officials and Muslim Brotherhood members.
In light of the above, can Turkey be relied upon at all in the fight against ISIS? And is it time for the West to end its alliance with Turkey? Please join us to hear answers to these questions and more with expert Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, the Vice President of Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).
Dr. Jonathan Schanzer joined FDD in February 2010, bringing solid scholarship and public policy credentials to his job of overseeing FDD’s research. He worked as a terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, where he played an integral role in the designation of numerous terrorist financiers. A former research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Dr. Schanzer has studied Middle East history in four countries. He earned his Ph.D. from Kings College London, where he wrote his dissertation on the U.S. Congress and its efforts to combat terrorism in the 20th century.

Dr. Schanzer’s books have made unique contributions to the field. He most recently published State of Failure: Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Unmaking of the Palestinian State (Palgrave Macmillan), which argues the main roadblock to Palestinian statehood is not necessarily Israel’s intransigence, but the Palestinian Authority’s political dysfunction and mismanagement.
Dr. Schanzer has testified before Congress and publishes widely in the American and international media. He has appeared on American television channels such as Fox News and CNN, and Arabic language television channels such as al-Arabiyya and al-Jazeera. Dr. Schanzer has traveled widely throughout the Middle East, including Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Morocco, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. He speaks Arabic and Hebrew.

Also see:

The West’s Dangerous Enchantment with Islam: Muslim Women Thrown “Under the Bus”

Gatestone Institute, by Uzay Bulut, Nov. 9, 2014:

There are no women’s rights in Islam; there are no women’s rights in most Muslim countries. And there is no freedom of expression in these countries; people have become virtually voiceless.

To make a positive change in Muslim countries, we need to be able to speak openly, without putting one’s life at risk, and tell the (too-often criminalized) truth about what Islamic teachings and traditions actually contain.

If one is called “racist” or “Islamophobe,” the answer is that these are the accusations bullies always use to silence those who disagree with them. The real Islamophobes are those who degrade, abuse and kill their fellow Muslims.

If oppression of women is rooted in the culture, shouldn’t one be asking, ‘what makes a culture that misogynous?’

There is a situation even more frightening. It now seems to be difficult to speak openly about fundamentalist Islam even in Western countries. The worst thing any Western progressive or feminist can do is to stay silent.

The loudest voices in the West now seem to come from many progressives who say that criticizing of Islam is racist, intolerant, bigoted and Islamophobic. Injustices, they claim, take place all around the world, not just among Muslims or in Muslim countries. The criticism, they go on, comes from wrong interpretations of Islamic teachings. They say that Islam respects women, and that there are good and bad Muslims, just as there are good and bad people in all religions.

In just seven years, however, between 2002 and 2009, the rate of murdered women in Turkey has increased by 1400 percent.[1]

There are also more than 181,000 child brides in Turkey.[2]

When those figures are provided by state authorities, they are based on factual statistics. But when they are expressed in a critical manner by Canan Arin, a lawyer and women rights activist, they are, apparently, a “crime.”

Canan Arin, 72, is a feminist lawyer who has dedicated her life to women’s rights struggles in Turkey.[3]

The Antalya Bar Association, in December 2011, invited her to its newly founded Women’s Rights Enforcement Centre to give training to the lawyers on violence against women. There, she delivered a speech about early and forced marriages, and gave two examples — one from the 7th century, the other from the 20th century — to clarify her point.

The first example concerned Muhammad, the founder of Islam, who married a girl of seven. The second was about Abdullah Gul, then-President of the Turkish Republic, who became engaged to his wife when she was 14 and married her when she was 15, in 1980.

Although both of those examples are supposedly based on the truth, speaking the truth in Turkey now seems to constitute a crime. A year later, therefore, a warrant was issued for Arin’s arrest, and on December 12, 2012, she was brought to court for “insulting religious values adopted by a part of the society” (Turkish Penal Code Article- 216/3) and for “insulting the President” (Turkish Penal Code- Article 299/1).

On May 30, 2013, the court declared its final decision, which was the adjournment of the trial. According to the ruling, if Arin commits a similar crime in three years and receives a punishment for it, her case will be reopened.

“If I do not open my mouth for three years, and do not engage in [discussions of similar] subject matters, this trial will be ignored. Their ruling is like running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. But this trial should have never been opened in the first place,” Arin said to the Turkish newspaper, Hurriyet.

It is bewildering that any prosecutor actually considers child marriage a “value.” According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, in 2012 alone, the rate of parental consent for legal marriage under the age of 18 increased by 94.2%. This increase is not taking place in a country ruled by Islamic sharia law, but in Turkey, the only so-called “secular” Muslim country.

There are no women’s rights in Islam; there are no women rights in most Muslim countries. And as there is no freedom of expression in these countries, people have become virtually voiceless.

Yet many people, especially the so-called progressives, seem to find limitless excuses for fundamentalist Islamic atrocities against women. These include beheadings, stonings, domestic violence, honor killings, female genital mutilation, official legal inequality, home confinement, child marriages, and Saudi Arabia’s prohibition against women driving, to name a few.

Statements that come up with “multicultural” excuses to provide cover for the practices of fundamentalist Islam, however, never have, and never will, help to liberate women who suffer under Islamic misogyny, gender apartheid and jihad.

To make a positive change in Muslim countries, we need to be able to speak openly and tell the (too-often criminalized) truth about what Islamic teachings and traditions actually contain. Yet in Muslim countries, it is impossible speak openly about what is in these Islamic teachings and traditions, without putting one’s life at risk.

There is a situation even more frightening. It now seems to be difficult to speak openly about fundamentalist Islam even in Western countries, in part thanks to the dangerous enchantment of Western progressives and feminists who romanticize Islamism.

Women in the Muslim world desperately need the voice of Western progressives and feminists. But when it comes to finding excuses to neutralize critical questions about Islamic violence, Western progressives seem endlessly creative. Known by an increasing number of women as “Excuses for Abuses,” these include:

Criticizing Islam is racist and reveals “intolerance,” “bigotry” and “Islamophobia.”

For the record, Islam is not a race. Moreover, if you discuss the violent and misogynous teachings of Islam, it does not mean that you hate or are intolerant of Muslims, just of violence and misogyny.

It does mean that you care about Muslim women; that you do not want them to be forced to find four male “witnesses” to “prove” they have been raped, or to be punished by Islamic courts as adulterers if their rapists do not confess. It means you believe that their testimony in court, or their inheritance, should be valued as highly as a man’s; that you do not want them to be the victim of honor killings or child marriages at the hands of their Muslim family members, and that you do not want their husbands to be able beat them with impunity.

It also means that you want children to grow up to be honest, informed, compassionate adults, filled with love for life and fellow human beings, and who can speak up for rights and liberties that can never be taken for granted — all gained as a result of centuries-long wars, struggles and social movements.

It means you do not want to see children blowing themselves up on a bus, or people buying or selling women, or killing their sisters for not wearing the hijab. And finally, it means that you do not want children getting married at the age of seven, especially to men they have never met, or to be hypocrites who have to say, “Islam is a religion of peace” to defend themselves every time another Muslim commits a crime justified by proclaiming Islamic beliefs.

“Injustices against women take place all around the world, not just against Muslims or in Muslim countries.”

If the oppression of women is rooted in the culture, shouldn’t one be asking, ‘what makes a culture that misogynous?’

What is progressivism if its objectives do not include helping emancipate women from Islamic oppression, such as honor killings, child marriages, stonings, flogging and punishing rape victims (while releasing rapists) — all of which are employed in the Muslim world, in line with Islamic teachings, allegedly to “protect” and “respect” women and to keep them “pure,” but more probably to keep women in their place?

“What you are seeing is not the real Islam; Islam has been hijacked.”

The problem with this view is that Islam actually does teach that a woman is worth less than a man. Many teachings in Islam are misogynous — from wearing veils; requiring four male witness to prove rape; issues of inheritance; court testimony; rules of marriage; rules of divorce and remarriage; a man’s “right” to marry up to four women and then beat them, and so on.

If Western progressives and feminists care at all about their Muslim sisters, they need to protest against the actual roots of this injustice: these Islamic teachings.

Many progressives, however, seem not even to want to learn about them, let alone speak out against them. Perhaps they fear that if they knew more, they might actually have to speak out. Or perhaps they remain silent from indifference or inertia. But if all they really care about in the West is their (understandable) ability to get abortions and equal pay for equal work, they have badly failed to grasp the consequences of a theocracy on everyone, not only on women.

If they wished to inform themselves, they might read just the verses of the Quran relating to women and glance at the hadith sunnah literature — all easily found on the internet. Then — if they sincerely wished to raise future generations with humanitarian values, equal justice under law, and a respect for human rights — they might educate others about those teachings, while basing their opinions on knowledge, not on wishful thinking.

“If you accommodate Islamic misogyny,” says the writer Pat Condell, “you legitimize it and you invite it into your own life and into the lives of your children … because it’s coming your way. You also help to ensure that the woman in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, who gets beaten every day, will continue to be beaten and treated as a piece of property, as will her daughters and granddaughters all the way down the line.”

“It is not about Islam. Crimes were committed and are being committed in all places throughout history.”

The world is no paradise, but in the West, if economic, political or social causes of injustices are freely discussed, why should religious, or Islamic, causes be exempt from discussion?

In many Muslim countries, where only Islam — but not the people — has the right to survive, such discussion is impossible without extreme risk. Even in Turkey, considered one of the most “liberal” of Muslim countries, if you dare to discuss or criticize the teachings of Islam, you can be killed, arrested, attacked, exposed to social and psychological lynching campaigns, brought to court and given a prison sentence.

Do progressives not oppose supremacy and oppression? Why then do they turn a blind eye to Islamic supremacy and oppression?

In Gaza, for instance, for whom Western progressives claim to have so much sympathy, women are systematically murdered in honor killings, and the Hamas government does not protect them. Appeals court judge Ziad Thabet, told Al-Monitor that “during his time in the judiciary, he had noticed that honor killing defendants were usually given light sentences. Three years in prison was the harshest…. Life sentences or execution were never a consideration.”

Al Jazeera also reported that “the number of so-called ‘honor killings’ in Palestine doubled in 2013 from the previous year. … For the past three years, the number of women killed has increased each year.”

Can Western feminists not stand up even against a terrorist group, Hamas, on behalf of Gazan women, who cannot speak up for themselves for fear of reprisals? Or would this not be as pleasurable as condemning Israel, the only Middle Eastern country where Muslim women do have equal rights? Or can these progressives only parrot propaganda, such as, “Palestinian women are exposed to honor killings by angry Palestinian men due to the Israeli occupation”?

“Not all Muslims are the same. There are good and bad Muslims, just as there are good and bad people in all religions.”

First of all, thank you very much for this genius discovery. But how can it help reduce the Islamic violence around the world?

Of course it is true that there are many good Muslims, whose values do not follow Islamic teachings verbatim, but also include humanitarian values. They do not wage war on other religions or try to bring them under submission to Islam. In the eyes of jihadis or Islamists, however, who live by the harshest interpretation of most doctrinaire Islamic teachings, such a quality makes them “bad Muslims.”

“All religions are essentially the same.”

Well, not quite. Biblical values are far more benign than Islamic ones, and generally descriptive rather than proscriptive. Furthermore, the most violent of them were long ago abandoned.

No religion, for instance, other than Islam, has ever commanded that those who insult or leave it should be put to death. (See Surahs 6:93, 33:57, 33:61)

On September 24 after being found guilty of “heresy” and “insulting prophet Jonah,” Mohsen Amir Aslani, 37, an Iranian psychologist, was hanged in a prison near the city of Karaj west of Tehran, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency. Aslani, it seems, had given religious classes where he provided his own interpretations of the Quran. In one of his classes, he apparently told his audience that Jonah could not have emerged from the whale’s belly; it was this statement that led to his charge of insulting the prophet Jonah, the Iran Wire websitereported.

Left: Canan Arin, a feminist lawyer arrested in Turkey for “insulting religious values adopted by a part of the society” and “insulting the President,” after she mentioned that the Muslim prophet Muhammad married a 7-year-old girl and the President of Turkey married his wife when she was 15 years old. Right: Mohsen Amir Aslani, an Iranian psychologist who was hanged in Iran for the crimes of “heresy” and “insulting prophet Jonah,” after he said that the biblical prophet Jonah could not have emerged from a whale’s belly.

How much time will pass until Islam is reformed or reinterpreted? How many people will be killed, attacked or enslaved until that happens? How many Muslims have the free will or courage to speak out? Will Islamists even ever allow them to, without threatening retaliation? Are the Islamists so uncertain that what they are preaching can stand on its merits — as the Quran instructs, “without compulsion” — that they cannot even tolerate even a single comment about one of their prophets?

What Western progressives and feminists are doing for the sake of political correctness — or a well intentioned, if misguided, “multiculturalism” — does nothing to help Muslim women. On the contrary, “political correctness,” silence, or making excuses for atrocities caused by Islam, can only add to the suffering of women in the Muslim world.

If progressives truly want to protect Muslims, they cannot achieve this goal by “protecting” Islam from criticism.

If one is called “racist” or “Islamophobe,” the answer is that these are accusations bullies always use to silence people who disagree with them. The real Islamophobes are those who degrade, abuse and kill their fellow Muslims.

The worst thing any Western progressive or feminist can do in the face of the suffering caused by Islamic teachings, is to stay silent.

Uzay Bulut is a Turkish journalist based in Ankara.


[1] According to the Turkish Ministry of Justice, 2009.

[2] According to the data of the Turkish Statistical Institute in 2012.

[3] Arin co-founded the Purple Roof-Women’s Shelter Foundation, the Association for the Support of Women Candidates and the Women’s Rights Enforcement Centre of the Istanbul Bar Association. Between 1994 and 1997, she acted as an expert on violence against women for the Gender Equality Commission of the Council of Europe.

Erdogan’s Book of Defeat

Gatestone Institute, by Burak Bekdil, Oct. 31, 2014:

In the entire Middle East, Turkey now has only two allies: Qatar, which looks more like a rich, family-owned gas station than a state; and Hamas, a terrorist organization.

Tunisia was the final chapter in Erdogan’s book of defeat. Neo-Ottomanism was a childish dream. It is, now, a “sealed” childish dream.

Shortly after the Arab Spring rocked several capitals in the Middle East, the Turks devised a plan that would enable their country to emerge as the new Ottoman Empire. While deliberately and systematically antagonizing Israel, Ankara would: replace the Shia-controlled Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad with a Turkey-friendly Sunni ruler; support the Sunni in Iraq and Lebanon and boost their political influence; support Hamas in the Palestinian territories and provoke it to violence against Israel; and make sure that the Muslim Brotherhood or their various brethren rule Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. Saudis were already “our Muslim brothers.” Eventually, all former Ottoman lands would produce governments subservient to the emerging Turkish Empire.

Nearly four years later, Syria’s Assad is comfortably sitting in his presidential palace in Damascus and possibly laughing at the mess the Turks created by supporting Syria’s jihadists. These jihadists have only wreaked havoc along Turkey’s nearly 900-mile-long borders with both Syria and Iraq.

The Shia in Iraq are as powerful as before, and remain obedient to Turkey’s regional sectarian rival, Iran.

The Shia in Lebanon — where Turks are a high-value currency on the hostage market — are increasingly hostile to Turkey.

No one knows who rules Libya after the downfall of Colonel Qaddafi, but none of the warring factions want any Turks meddling in the former Ottoman colony.

Meanwhile, a coup in July 2013 toppled the Turks’ most-trusted regional ally, Egypt’s then president, Mohamed Morsi. Today, not only the Turks but also Turkish products — including even soap operas — are unwanted in Egypt.

‘Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy…’ Pictured above: Egypt’s then President Mohamed Morsi (left) poses with Turkey’s then Prime Minister (now President) Recep Tayyip Erdogan, before Morsi was overthrown and jailed.

With the downfall — ironically, instead of Assad — of their Islamist allies in the region, the Turks recently discreetly moved to win back Egypt, the most populous Muslim nation in the region.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu asked to meet with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Hassan Shorky Selim, on the sidelines of the UN summit in September. The Egyptian minister abruptly cancelled the meeting, citing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “insulting words about [Egyptian] President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.” A statement from the Egyptian foreign ministry called Erdogan’s words “lies and fabrication.”

More recently, Cairo announced that it would not renew a three-year transit trade agreement with Turkey. The decision indicates a further worsening of bilateral ties, which had been downgraded, as in the instance of Israel, to the level of chargé d’affaires. The transit trade agreement, signed in 2012 when Morsi was in power, had facilitated Turkish exports to African nations and the Gulf through Egypt’s mainland, via Egyptian ports. Turkish companies previously sent their cargo to Gulf and African customers through Syria, when relations with Syria were normal. After Erdogan chose cold war with Syria, the Syrian route was closed to the Turks. The Turks then signed the transit deal with Egypt to use their ports and mainland as the alternative route. Now that Egypt will terminate this agreement, Turkish companies will be deprived of an easy route to Gulf and African customers.

Ironically, only six weeks before General al-Sisi ousted Egypt’s Islamist President Morsi, Turkey had granted Egypt a $250 million loan to finance Turkish-Egyptian joint defense projects. The loan, the first of its kind, was intended to boost defense cooperation and Turkish exports of defense equipment to Egypt. At that time, Turkey was hoping to sell Egypt scores of Turkish-made drones, tactical naval boats and helicopters.

Egypt’s hostile move was a “shock” to Ankara, but only to Ankara. “Apparently everyone dealing with the Egyptians knew this was coming, except the Turks,” said one EU ambassador in Ankara.

It was not a secret that Egypt and the Turks’ “Muslim brothers, Saudi Arabia” aggressively lobbied against Turkey’s failed bid in September to win the seat of the non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The EU ambassador said: “There may be further Egyptian moves to retaliate against Turkish hostilities. After Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Israel, Turkey has completely lost Egypt.”

That mishap left Turkey’s Islamists with one ideological ally in the former Ottoman lands: Tunisia, where the Muslim Brotherhood-inspired Ennahda party was in a coalition government — until this past weekend.

Ennahda, the first Islamist movement to secure power after the 2011 Arab Spring revolts, conceded defeat in elections that are expected to make its main secular rival, Nidaa Tounes party, the strongest force in parliament.

This defeat is a huge setback for Erdogan’s Tunisian ideological allies, who had headed a coalition government with two non-religious partners for more than two years.

Tunisia was the final chapter in Erdogan’s book of defeat. Neo-Ottomanism was a childish dream. It is, now, a “sealed” childish dream.

In the entire Middle East, Turkey now has only two allies: Qatar, which looks more like a rich, family-owned gas station than a state; and Hamas, a terrorist organization. But Turkey has a rich menu of hostilities: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, (discreetly) Jordan, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, (as always) Cyprus, (now) Tunisia, (also discreetly) Morocco and Algeria, and (most warring factions of) Libya.

In an April 2012 speech, then Foreign Minister Davutoglu defined Turkey’s policy goal as: “On the historic march of our holy nation, the AK Party signals the birth of a global power and the mission for a new world order. This is the centenary of our exit from the Middle East… whatever we lost between 1911 and 1923, whatever lands we withdrew from, from 2011 to 2023 we shall once again meet our brothers in those lands. This is a … historic mission.”

That was a not-so-covert message of a strategic goal of reviving the Empire. Only nine years before the deadline to “meet our brothers” and the birth of Turkey as “a global power with a mission to build a new world order,” Turkey looks rather dramatically isolated.

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

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