The Iranian Kurdish ‘Revolution’ The World Doesn’t Know Is Happening

Two Iranian Kurds show their injuries after protests in Mahabad, Iran against the Iranian regime on May 7, 2015. National Council Of Resistance Of Iran

Two Iranian Kurds show their injuries after protests in Mahabad, Iran against the Iranian regime on May 7, 2015. National Council Of Resistance Of Iran

IBTimes, By Alessandria Masi, May 15, 2015:

Buildings are burning, protesters are bloodied, law enforcement vehicles are destroyed, hundreds of young men and women have been arrested and there is no end in sight. Iranian Kurdistan has been under what Iranian opposition called an “undeclared martial law” for the last week, and the Iranian regime has done all it can to keep it out of the media.

Thousands of Iranian Kurds have been demonstrating in the streets of roughly a dozen Iranian cities almost consistently for the past week. On Friday, protests turned violent as Iranian Kurdish political leaders called for an independent Kurdistan and democracy in Iran. It is one of the biggest Kurdish uprisings against the Iranian regime in years.

Iranian Kurds are “planning to carry out a comprehensive revolution and there are armed Iranian Kurdish political parties positioning themselves for the revolution,” said Sarkawt Kamal Ali, an Iraqi human rights lawyer familiar with the Kurdish situation.

On Friday, a recently formed coalition of Kurdish political parties, Kodar, threatened to deploy protesters and militia fighters to the Iranian capital of Tehran if the regime did not allow them to independently govern Iran’s Kurdish areas, according to Rudaw.

The initial protests against the regime’s oppression of Kurds began after a May 4 incident in which 27-year-old Farinaz Khosravani jumped to her death from a window when an Iranian intelligence officer allegedly tried to rape her at the hotel where she worked in the Kurdish city of Mahabad. Later, regime-affiliated social media accounts and news outlets circulated a video allegedly showing Khosravani “voluntarily” engaging in sexual acts with the officer, sources close to the issue told International Business Times.

“Whatever happened, it ignited a very significant outburst … by the Kurds in the city,” said Dave Pollock, a Kaufman Fellow at the Washington Institute whose research focuses on public opinion and media content in the region. He added that Mahabad “is not a gigantic city but it’s enough to provide the critical mass for a very large demonstration. But it was forcibly suppressed.”

The Iranian regime is known for its intolerance of anti-regime sentiment of any kind, and its anti-riot tactics include shutting off the Internet, wireless services and other means of communication in addition to banning reporters from the area. This means the Iranian Kurdish “revolution” has not yet been televised, but much like the uprisings in Syria and Egypt, it is being broadcasted on social media.

When demonstrations began on May 7 in Mahabad, S.Kurdax, a Syrian Kurd whose name has been changed for security reasons who was also forced to flee his own country when President Bashar Assad’s regime began arresting protesters in 2011, wanted to help. Along with several other Kurdish friends from the region, he created various social media accounts to provide accurate information from the ground in Iran, where many of his friends are demonstrating.

“We as young people, as Kurds, we have to put the news on Twitter, Facebook and Skype,” Kurdax told IBTimes via Skype. “We tell the truth for our people.”

His main news outlet is Facebook, where his page “Kurdish Revolution in Iran” has garnered more than 14,000 followers in less than two weeks. Kurdax  said his group is organizing a “big revolution” in Iran for next Friday, but they are urging demonstrators not to resort to violence.

“We are trying to make it just revolution. Shooting and streaming videos and making a general strike against the regime in Iran,” Kurdax  said. “If we try to fight this regime, they are so dangerous. They have chemical weapons and bombs.”

Since Khosravani’s death, Iran’s Law Enforcement Force has arrested hundreds of Kurdish youth in cities spanning the Iranian Kurdistan region on the border with Iraq. Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security has reportedly dispatched a “group of henchmen to torture and interrogate” the detainees, according to the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a coalition of opposition groups that describes itself as a “parliament-in-exile.”

Protests seemed to calm down in the days following Khosravani’s death, but they picked up speed this week, as Kurds around the world showed their solidarity with the Iranian cause. On Thursday, demonstrations were held in front of the Iranian embassies in several European cities, including  Vienna, Paris and London. Meanwhile, at least 14 cities in Iranian Kurdistan held a general strike to protest the arrests earlier in the week.

image-4Demonstrators hold Kurdish flags outside the Iranian embassy in Vienna in solidarity with the Kurds protesting the regime in Iran, May 14, 2015.  Kurdish Revolution In Iran

Demonstrations turned violent again on Friday when protesters reportedly placed explosive devices in Iranian law enforcement vehicles, in an attempt to block the convoy from entering the protest area. The armored trucks exploded, killing and injuring more than a dozen people, several sources familiar with the situation told IBTimes.

Hundreds of demonstrators and Iranian law enforcement have reportedly been injured since the clashes began. Recent reports from the ground claimed that the officer accused of attempted rape was killed in the clashes, but IBTimes was unable to confirm that.

There are an estimated 7 million Kurds concentrated in what used to be part of Kurdistan and is now Iranian territory on the border with Iraq. They have long been denied basic human rights in Iran and it has only become worse since the Iranian Revolution of 1979. The Kurdish language is, however, not banned in Iran as has been in other countries in the region.

kurdsIranian Kurds hold a general strike across 14 cities in Iran in protest of the Iranian regime’s human rights abuses, May 14, 2015.  Kurdish Revolution in Iran

“The pace of the Iranian government’s oppression of Kurdish expression, including executions of community organizers, political figures and dissidents, has really picked up in the last year or two,” Pollock said.

Earlier this year, Amnesty International released a report that said Kurds make up the most executions per year compared to every other minority. And it seems Iranian Kurds have finally had enough of the regime’s oppression.

“The Kurdish street is angry. It was like a volcano in our Kurdish hearts,” Kurdax  said, referencing “Arab street,” the term used to describe public opinion across Arab countries. “We just want our rights. We are also human.”

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The Lessons of Armenia Should Not Be Lost

Illustration on remembrance of the Turkish genocide against Armenians 100 years ago by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Illustration on remembrance of the Turkish genocide against Armenians 100 years ago by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

What happened a hundred years ago is germane to the Middle East today.

FDD, By Clifford D. May, 29th April 2015 – The Washington Times:

Displayed outside the Turkish embassy in Washington last week was a large banner reading: “Armenian Genocide is an Imperialist Lie.” That claim might be amusing were the subject not so dreadful. The slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in 1915 was carried out by the Ottoman Empire.  It was therefore, by definition, an imperialist crime, one regarded by most experts as the first genocide of the 20th century. The notion that some other empire (which one?) has fabricated a slander against Turkey is ludicrous. Those who came up with that slogan must assume they are addressing a clueless audience.

One place to find clues is Efraim Karsh’s “Islamic Imperialism: A History,” published in 2006 by Yale University Press. Dr. Karsh notes that in the last quarter of the 19th century, a weakening Ottoman Empire (which was also an Islamic caliphate) was being “forced to give up most of its European colonies.” At about the same time, the empire’s Armenian population — Christians, whose rights were limited by their Muslim rulers — began to undergo a “nationalist awakening.”  Uprisings followed. “In a brutal campaign of repression in 1895-96, in which nearly 200,000 people perished and thousands more fled to Europe and America, Armenian resistance was crushed and the dwindling population cowered into submission.”

A few years later, however, nationalist aspirations resurfaced. Under European pressure, the Ottomans accepted a proposal for limited Armenian autonomy, “a far cry from the Armenians’ aspirations for a unified independent state” but a significant gain nonetheless. When the Ottoman Empire entered World War I, most of its Armenian subjects took pains to demonstrate their loyalty.  But a minority became revolutionaries, offering assistance to the Russians, confirming “the Ottoman stereotype of the Armenians as a troublesome people.”

In reaction, Armenians were “uprooted from their homes and relocated to concentration camps in the most inhospitable corners of Ottoman Asia. The Armenians’ towns and villages would then be populated by Muslim refugees, their property seized by the authorities or plundered by their Muslim neighbors.”

Armenians were ordered to give up their weapons. Those “who could not produce arms were brutally tortured; those who produced them for surrender … were imprisoned for treachery and similarly tortured; those found to have hidden their arms were given even harsher treatment.”

By 1915, with the Armenian population disarmed, “the genocidal spree entered its main stage: mass deportations and massacres.” At times, “the Turks attempted to preserve an appearance of a deportation policy, though most deportees were summarily executed after hitting the road.” Ottoman authorities sent others “out to sea, ostensibly to be deported, only to be thrown overboard shortly afterward.”

There were many Armenian towns in which all the men were exterminated, leaving the women to be raped. In addition, “thousands of young Armenian women and girls were sold” in newly established “slave markets.” Estimates of the total number of Armenians murdered over a period of more than two years range from 850,000 to 1.5 million.

In the early 1920s, in the aftermath of World War I, the defeated Ottoman Empire and Islamic caliphate were dissolved. The Republic of Turkey rose from its ashes. A strong argument can be made that it bears no responsibility for the crimes committed by the imperialist state it replaced.

On the other hand, modern Turkey continues to occupy Armenian lands. Mt. Ararat, where, according to legend, Noah’s ark came to rest after the great flood, is Armenia’s holiest site and a symbol of the nation. It can be seen from Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, among the world’s oldest continually inhabited cities. But Mr. Ararat rises from territory now claimed by Turkey.

Ironically – one also might say hypocritically — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rails at Israel for its “occupation” of Gaza, and the West Bank. Those territories were under Ottoman rule for centuries. They fell to the British following the Ottoman collapse. In 1948, Egypt seized Gaza, and Jordan seized Judea and Samaria, which it renamed “the West Bank.” In a defensive war in 1967, Israelis took control of both. Since then, they have repeatedly offered to help Palestinians establish their own state on these lands in exchange for peace. Palestinian leaders have declined. And Gaza, from which Israelis withdrew ten years ago, is ruled by Hamas, a terrorist group openly committed to exterminating Israel.

Today, a jihad – one that includes persecution, enslavement and slaughter — is again being waged against Christians throughout much of the Middle East and in Africa as well. Many of those carrying out these crimes consider themselves warriors of a new caliphate. The mainstream media has mostly avoided discussing the Armenian genocide as preface and precedent. But the media also has been reluctant to report on the very real possibility that we are now witnessing the final, historic eradication of ancient Christian communities from what we have come to call the Islamic world.

Another poster displayed at the Turkish embassy calls for “reconciliation” with Armenia. Surely, such a process must begin with truth-telling. What President Erdogan declared last week instead: “The Armenian claims on the 1915 events… are all baseless and groundless.”

Final point: In 1939, a generation after the Armenian genocide and a week before invading Poland, Hitler gave a speech to his commanders. He told them that his “war aim” was not merely territorial. Nazi Germany also sought “the physical destruction of the enemy.” He recognized that “weak Western European civilization” would not approve. But, he added, it will forget: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” That’s just one of several  reasons we should continue to do so.

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and a columnist for the Washington Times. Follow him on Twitter @CliffordDMay

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Disagreement Among MB Fronts Over USCMO Statement on Armenian Genocide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commemorating The Armenian Genocide Centennial

1915

Published on Apr 23, 2015 by Brigitte Gabriel

100 years ago, the first genocide of the 20th century began. On that date, the Islamic Turks commenced their campaign of deportation, murder and starvation against Christian Armenians. As we observe this solemn anniversary, we should remember the repeated failure of the world community to act against genocide, and contemplate what we can do to stop genocide from occurring on our watch.
http://www.actforamerica.org

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San Diego Man Arrested for Working for Al-Qaeda Sharia Court in Syria, Fighting with Terror Group

PJ Media, by Patridk Poole, April 23, 2015:

Yesterday the FBI in San Diego arrested Mohamad Saeed Kodaimati, a naturalized U.S. citizen since September 2008, for making false statements to U.S. Embassy officials, Customs and Border Protection and the FBI related to his time in Syria and Turkey over the past two years. Kodaimati left the U.S. in late December 2012 and returned on March 23.

According to the FBI affidavit in support of the criminal complaint filed today in the case against Kodaimati, the 24-year-old man was caught in a series of lies related to his work on behalf of a sharia court operated by Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria and a U.S. designated terrorist organization, and also his role mediating between Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS.

Ultimately, Kodaimati was tripped up by his posts to Facebook.

According to the FBI, he stated in a September 2013 private message on Facebook that he worked for the sharia court in Hanano near Aleppo. He would post media statements from the Nusra-operated sharia court to social media.

The FBI complaint also alleges that Kodaimati was a close associate with a senior ISIS operative in the area, with whom he mediated on behalf of others in the area to resolve conflicts between ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra. He also posted pictures to his Facebook account (now removed) of him with another known ISIS operative.

In his Facebook communications, he also recounted how he, his father and his brother fought with Jabhat al-Nusra against the Assad regime for four months.

He was initially questioned at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, on March 10 and 11. He was later questioned about his activities in Syria by Customs and Border Patrol upon his reentry to the U.S. at the airport in Charlotte, NC, on March 23, and later by the FBI in Charlotte on March 25. After being questioned at his home in San Diego yesterday, he was taken into custody.

Here’s the FBI complaint:

Kodaimati Criminal Complaint by Stewart Bell

Muslim Brotherhood Stands by Turkey over Genocidal Jihad of Armenians

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

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

CSP, by Kyle Shideler, April 23, 2015:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bostom writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

US Muslim Brotherhood Backs Turks on Armenian Genocide

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

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

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, April21, 2015:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

tumblr_mntkp2D0t61su7hqjo1_500MEMRI, April 10, 2015:

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

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

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

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

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

Read more

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The Greatest Threat to Our National Security

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

Breitbart, by ADMIRAL JAMES A. “ACE” LYONS, April 10, 2015:

When President-elect Obama declared that he was going to “fundamentally transform” America, not many Americans understood what that meant. They certainly did not understand that he did not believe in America’s exceptionalism and greatness. They were also unaware of his past Marxist indoctrination, blaming America for many of the world’s problems. Therefore, anything that undercuts and withdraws America’s power and influence is seen as being objectively progressive. This is fundamental to understanding why President Obama shows empathy with American’s enemies, e.g., Iran, Cuba, Russia, and China.

It is also key to understanding our precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, as well as the loss of our influence in the region with the rise of Islam. President Obama apparently shares the view that the colonial powers unjustifiably suppressed Islam for the better part of two centuries. Therefore, the best way to rectify that situation is to withdraw the U.S. and let Islam rise again. Of course, this actually started under the Carter administration with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism when the Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah of Iran in 1979.

Complicating the current Mid-East chaos is the fact that the administration has great difficulty in identifying the enemy. The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said it best, “There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.” Make no mistake – ISIS is Islam. The barbarism and atrocities they commit are sanctioned by the Quran and Islam’s Shariah law. We must face facts, ISIS is impervious to any rational dialogue. They must be killed into submission.

As I have previously stated, symbols matter throughout the world, but no more so than in the Middle East. When President Obama delivered his June 4, 2009 Cairo “Outreach to Muslims” speech, with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood leadership sitting in the front row, and declared that it was part of his responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear – that said it all!

Furthermore, there should have been no doubt remaining after his September 2012 UN General Assembly speech when he stated in reference to the Benghazi tragedy, “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet Islam.” No matter how many excuses President Obama makes for Islam and Muslim sensitivities, freedom of speech for the civilized world will not be silenced.

In yet another indication, the Obama Administration continues to embrace the Muslim Brotherhood even though their creed is to destroy the United States from within (silent jihad) by our own hands and substitute our Constitution with Islam’s Shariah law. The Muslim Brotherhood have been able to successfully penetrate all our national security and intelligence agencies. They are now institutionalized. Their impact on our policies cannot be overstated.

The Kabuki dance just completed in Switzerland produced a “framework” of “understandings” which is supposed to limit Iran’s nuclear weapons program is already being disputed by Iran. Of course, this is to be expected with no agreed upon text.

According to Fred Fleitz of the Center For Security Policy, the framework as now understood legitimizes and actually advances Iran’s uranium-enrichment program. All the core elements of Iran’s program remain in place. They do not have to dismantle anything and be allowed to keep their heavily fortified Fordow underground enrichment facilities — a major, unbelievable, concession by the United States. In effect, we have rewarded Iran for ignoring (plus lying and cheating) UN Security Council resolutions for a decade. They do not have to destroy any of their ICBMs nor stop their aggression throughout the Middle East. More importantly, the Obama administration has dismissed the fact that the Iranian government has caused the loss of life of thousands of Americans. At the end of the day, there is only one option that guarantees Iran will not achieve a nuclear weapon capability, and that is a military strike.

To show their disdain for President Obama, an Iranian spokesperson stated that the destruction of Israel is “non-negotiable.” So much for the two state peace process! Of course, death to America is a recurring theme.

The Middle East is not the only place our influence is being challenged. We are being challenged by China in the Western Pacific. In Europe, we are standing idly by as NATO is being emasculated by Putin’s aggression in the Ukraine. Many believe the “reset button” with Russia has failed. Actually, it is working quite well – for Russia.

The Obama administration has allowed the KGB thug Putin to conduct a policy of aggression in the Ukraine unopposed. President Obama’s refusal to provide legitimate defensive military equipment to Kiev appears to be part of the reset button “understanding.” It is the same understanding that applies to the withdrawal of our commitment to place anti-ballistic missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. Furthermore, President Obama’s refusal to meet with NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (during his 3 days visit to Washington) was another signal to Putin.

There is no doubt our influence and status as a great power and reliable ally is being challenged. Our enemies don’t fear us and our allies don’t trust us – a formula for disaster. President Obama’s refusal to call for a reformation of Islam, plus his empathy with our enemies, combined with our unilateral disarmament, place our national security in jeopardy. The greatest threat to our national security today clearly is the Obama administration policies, which must be reversed. Americans must stand up and demand that Congress act now.

James A. Lyons, U.S. Navy retired Admiral, was commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

Sunni Jihadists Gain Ground in Syria

Syrians in the city of Idlib on Wednesday lined up to receive bread. The city was seized last weekend by the Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, which said it would not try to monopolize power there. Credit Mohamad Bayoush/Reuters

Syrians in the city of Idlib on Wednesday lined up to receive bread. The city was seized last weekend by the Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, which said it would not try to monopolize power there. Credit Mohamad Bayoush/Reuters

CSP, by Aaron Kliegman, April 1, 2015:

The al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front seized the provincial capital of Idlib in northwestern Syria this past weekend. Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s forces withdrew after five days of intense fighting with a primarily al-Nusra-dominated coalition of rebels, all of whom are part of the multi-faceted Syrian opposition.

According to the “Army of Conquest”, the name of the coalition, 70 rebels were killed in the decisive battle. Beyond al-Nusra, other Islamist militias helped in the effort including Ahrar al-Sham, Jund al-Aqsa, Liwa al-Haqq, and Failaq al-Sham, and some smaller groups played a lesser role.

Al-Nusra said today that it will rule Idlib with sharia law, with the group’s leader Abu Mohamad al-Golani stating, “We salute the people of Idlib and their stand with their sons … God willing they will enjoy the justice of sharia, which will preserve their religion and their blood.” While the jihadists were battling the regime and now are trying to setup Islamic governance, hundreds of thousands of residents have reportedly fled the city.

Idlib has strategic significance for multiple reasons, including that it is 20 miles from the Turkish border, and one Syrian military source accused Turkey of helping the rebels take Idlib. Furthermore, Idlib is only the second provincial capital that Assad has lost, the first one being Raqqa. The Sunni jihadists are gaining ground and can consolidate their power in Idlib to move onto other strategic targets. Idlib is important for exerting control northeast toward Aleppo city, and the rebels are better suited to move towards Hama city and its military airfield or into the regime’s heartland.

As al-Nusra is imposing sharia law on Idlib, its main rival jihadist group, Islamic State (ISIS), seized most of the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus, Syria’s capital. Al-Nusra members who defected to ISIS helped in the fight against Assad regime forces. According to the U.N., before the onset of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Yarmouk was home to about 200,000 people; now, that number is down to 18,000.

ISIS has been attempting to push into western Syria, far way from its main strongholds, for months. The group is trying to establish sleeper cells in the areas around Damascus and maintain a firm presence there. While the regime has strong checkpoints to repel attackers from Damascus, ISIS’s presence so near to the capital indicates that they are getting closer.

While these two developments are occurring, Syrian rebels, including Jabhat al-Nusra, were fighting Wednesday with regime forces along the Jordanian border. The rebels attacked the main border crossing between the two countries on the Syrian side, known as the Nasib post, causing Jordan to close the area. According to Conflict News, al-Nusra militants captured the border crossing on the same day. If true, Jordan will rightfully be concerned about the fighting’s proximity to its border, especially while it has been dealing with an influx of Syrian refugees throughout the civil war.

All of these stories show the increasingly chaotic situation in Syria. While ISIS is adding territory to its self-declared caliphate, the al-Nusra front is also quietly gaining territory. Both groups’ success will only increase their propaganda and bring in more recruits. With Sunni jihadists groups on the move and the Assad regime trying to hold onto as much of the country as possible, there seems to be no good foreseeable outcome. The conflict will only get more complicated as the fighting gets closer to Turkish and Jordanian territory and Islamist rebels get closer to Damascus.

Also see:

The Kobani Precedent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all

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

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

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

CSP, by Aaron Kliegman, March 19, 2015:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

Why Did A Turkish Paper Target Canada for a Smear?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also see:

Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar Set Sights on Cuba’s Muslims

The island of Cuba, located just south of Florida.

The island of Cuba, located just south of Florida.

Why 4,000 Muslims on a Caribbean island mean so much the world’s leading purveyors of Islamic extremism and terrorism

By Ryan Mauro:

The Islamist governments of Turkey and Saudi Arabia see a growing Muslim community in Cuba and are acting quickly to ideologically lead it. The Saudis and Turks have separately asked for permission to build a mosque there. President Erdogan wants it to reflect the Ottoman Empire, the last Islamic caliphate that was abolished in 1924.

Saudi Arabia and Turkey are competing over who will build the mosque in Havana for the estimated 4,000 Muslims in Cuba. The Saudis originally expressed interest, but now the elected Islamist government of Turkey is bidding for it. Turkish President Erdogan says his country hopes to build elsewhere in Cuba if its application is rejected.

Saudi Arabia remains an extremist state and continues to promote Wahhabism, a very radical interpretation of Islam. The Saudis spendan estimated $3 billion a year promoting Wahhabism. It is a national security threat to have the Saudis shaping the Cuban-Muslim community only 90 miles away from Florida.

Turkey is no better. President Erdogan’s government is rolling back democratic freedoms, hosts a Hamas terrorist network and is a stalwart supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood. There is a scandal in Turkey over his intelligence service’s cover-up of its arming of Al-Qaeda in Syria.

The Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs says the envisioned mosque in Havana will be modeled after an Ottoman mosque in Istanbul. Its insistence that it builds the mosque without any other country’s involvement shows that this project isn’t about serving Cuban Muslims. It’s about indoctrinating the growing Cuban-Muslim community into following Turkish Islamism.

Turkey is also involved in Cuba through a terrorism-linked entity named the Humanitarian Relief Foundation. This group, based in Istanbul, is closely involved with Erdogan and his Islamist party. Over the summer, it registered people to be human shields for Hamas. The group is also linked to the scandal over Turkish intelligence’s arming of Al-Qaeda.

The IHH website says in an article all the way back in August 2012 that it is “sponsoring masjid [mosque] construction in Cuba.” IHH said hopes to “address the shortcoming of books on Islam in Spanish soon” and fly Cuban Muslims to Turkey for Islamic studies. The article says IHH delivered humanitarian aid and met with the Turkish and Saudi ambassadors there.

It’s worth reflecting on the importance of that article. The Cuban Muslim community is in need of texts to help it learn about Islam. The group that is stepping in to decide what those texts will be is openly radical and linked to the Hamas terrorist group, as well as the increasingly anti-Western government of Turkey.

The Islamist Turkish government is spreading its neo-Ottoman ideology by building mosques around the world, much as Saudi Arabia has done with Wahhabism. There are currently 18 large mosques being constructed by Turkey in the U.S., the Palestinian Territories, Somalia, the U.K., the Philippines, Russia and Central Asia.

Turkey is building the largest mosque in the Balkans in Albania. Erdogan does not hide that this was part of his neo-Ottoman project,declaring in an October 2013 speech, “Do not forget that Kosovo is Turkey and Turkey is Kosovo.”

Turkey is even constructing a 15-acre $100 million mega-mosque in Maryland that was endorsed by then-Governor O’Malley, who appears likely to run for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. The project is reported to “become [one of] the largest and most striking examples of Islamic architecture in the Western hemisphere.”

Erdogan’s government is also reaching out to Native American tribes. Turkey’s lobbyists in Washington, D.C. spent over $1 million in 2010 alone to pay for congressmen and Native American tribesmen to visit Turkey, according to Islamist-Watch, which broke the story. The director of the organization says Turkey’s strategy could cause “the Islamist ideology to spread like wildfire throughout Native American tribes.”

In addition, Erdogan is building the world’s biggest mosque in Turkey and a shipping canal rivaling the importance of the Panama Canal and Suez Canal. He is competing with Egypt by building a rival university that will “replace” Al-Azhar University as the leading Islamic authority. The overall agenda is one of aspiring domination where the Muslim world falls into the neo-Ottoman Islamist fold.

Read more at Clarion Project

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

Reuters

Reuters

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