TURKEY INTO THE ABYSS

turkish_pm_recep_tayyip_erdoganFrontpage, by Rober Ellis, July 29, 2015:

The bomb attack on the Turkish border town of Suruc in southeastern Turkey, targeting a group of activists planning to help rebuild Kobane across the border in Syria, came at an opportune moment for Turkey’s interim AKP (Justice and Development Party) government.

Unlike a bombing in another border town, Reyhanli, two years ago, which failed to attract U.S. support for Turkey’s campaign against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, this time the bombing has done the trick. The suicide bomber was a member of an Islamist group linked to ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), and by pointing the finger at ISIL, Turkey has gained Obama’s support for an incursion into Syria, as this falls in with American plans.

Three years ago, Turkey failed to secure the U.N. Security Council’s support for the creation of a safe zone for refugees and a no-fly zone along the Syrian border and has since lobbied for U.S. backing, but now a formula has been found. In return for allowing American aircraft the use of Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey for sorties against ISIL – instead of the long haul from the Gulf, or Iraq and Jordan, an agreement has been reached on creating an “ISIL-free zone” in northern Syria with U.S. air support.

The plan is to drive ISIL from an area running for 68 miles along the Syrian border and some 40 miles inland and to replace ISIL with “moderate” Syrian opposition forces such as the FSA (Free Syrian Army) to allow displaced refugees to return.

On paper, the plan provides welcome leverage for the U.S. in its offensive against ISIL and evidence of Turkey’s good intentions, but there are drawbacks.

The suicide bombing in Suruc has been met with widespread Kurdish anger against the AKP government, akin to the anger felt by the Kurds over what they considered the AKP’s abandonment of Kobane to ISIL. There have not only been demonstrations but the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) has attacked the Turkish army and murdered two policemen in retaliation.

Turkey’s response has been to bomb PKK camps in northern Iraq and after a cross-border exchange of fire to launch air strikes against ISIL. The PKK’s reply has been unequivocal. “The truce has no meaning any more,” it stated on its website.

The peace process, which began in 2012, is now over, and the Istanbul Police Department and the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) have warned of impending attacks from both the PKK and ISIL.

Turkey’s latest move fits in with the AKP’s and, in particular, President Erdogan’s domestic agenda. Unable to garner Kurdish support in June’s election, the AKP’s aim of gaining an overall majority was thwarted by the Kurdish-based HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party), which passed the electoral threshold and gained 80 seats out of the parliament’s 550. If the AKP is unable to form a coalition government with the leading opposition party, the secular CHP (Republican People’s Party), President Erdogan will call for a re-election in the hope that the AKP once again will secure an overall majority and legislate a new constitution to provide him with unbridled power.

Erdogan has also reneged on the Dolmabahce Agreement from the end of February, a 10-point list of priorities for the Kurdish peace process, which was prepared and announced by the Deputy Prime Minister and an HDP deputy. The President has called the HDP a parliamentary extension of the PKK and said it has “an inorganic link” with the organization. The HDP has called on the PKK to lay down its arms against Turkey, but it is feared the government may take steps to close the party, thus depriving Turkey’s Kurds of legitimate political representation.

On the other hand, there is an overall suspicion among the Kurds that the AKP government is in cahoots with ISIL. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s claim that “Turkey and AKP governments have never had any direct or indirect connection with any terrorist organization” flies in the face of last November’s report from the U.N. Security Council’s Analytical Support and Monitoring Team, which identifies Turkey as the primary route for weaponry smuggled to ISIL and the Al-Nusrah Front.

The State Department’s briefing at the beginning of June also stated Turkey is the main route for more than 22,000 fighters who have flocked to Syria to join extremist organizations, mainly ISIL. There are numerous other sources.

After the fall of Tel Abyad in June Erdogan declared Turkey would never allow the establishment of a Kurdish state in northern Syria, and now the accord with the U.S. has provided an ideal opportunity to drive a wedge between a Kurdish canton to the west and two Kurdish cantons to the east in the form of an “ISIL-free zone.”

Davutoglu has said Turkey will not send in ground forces, but his foreign minister, Mevlüt Cavusoglu, has not ruled out the possibility. Nevertheless, 54,000 Turkish troops, tanks and artillery have been deployed on the Syrian border, if need be.

Such a move will further exacerbate tensions between Kurds on both sides of the border and Turkey’s AKP government.

As the HDP has warned in a statement: “It is a plan to set the country on fire in order for the government to secure a single-party government in a snap election, while creating an impression it is conducting a comprehensive fight against terrorism.”

Robert Ellis is a regular commentator on Turkish affairs in the Danish and international press.

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Also see:

How Turkey Border Zone Could Help Syrian Rebels Obtain Weapons, Cash To Fight Assad

A Free Syrian Army soldier gestures atop a tank after capturing the Assad regime's Brigade 52 base in Daraa, southern Syria, June 9, 2015. Reuters/Alaa Al-Faqir

A Free Syrian Army soldier gestures atop a tank after capturing the Assad regime’s Brigade 52 base in Daraa, southern Syria, June 9, 2015. Reuters/Alaa Al-Faqir

IB Times, By Erin Banco, July 28 2015:

Rebels in Syria are counting their stockpiles of ammunition, weapons and tanks in the northern city of Aleppo, the country’s second-largest city and one of the largest battlegrounds in the fight against the Islamic State group and President Bashar Assad’s forces. As usual, the rebels are running low this month on supplies needed to defeat their enemies. Even for some of the strongest and best-connected units in northern Syria, finding and obtaining simple resources like bullets and Kalashnikovs can take weeks.

That could all change in the coming days when the United States and its NATO allies move forward with a proposed offensive to create a “safe zone” aimed at pushing back Islamic State group militants from the Syrian-Turkish border. For rebel groups, the promised campaign represents an unprecedented opportunity to obtain much needed-cash and weapons. But for the U.S. and Turkey, the countries spearheading the operation, there is a risk that the weapons they supply will end up in the hands of rebels who have a different goal — fighting Assad first, not ISIS.

Under the plan, Turkish troops and Syrian rebel fighters are to clear a 60-mile strip of land along the border to create a haven for Syrian refugees, who have flooded Turkey’s borders during the four-year civil war. The U.S. and Turkey will rely on rebels on the ground to secure the buffer zone. The rebels are supposed to get regular shipments of ammunition and heavy weaponry to ensure that the Sunni militants known as ISIS stay out of the area.

tank

That process, though, could go awry quickly. The rebels receiving the arms for securing the buffer zone will undergo no formal training and will not be bound to any official or binding agreement with the U.S. and Turkey. Rebels in Aleppo say that while they are willing to join the buffer zone monitoring force, they fully intend on using the weapons they receive from the U.S. and Turkey for their fight against Assad first and foremost, before the fight against ISIS.

“This is what we have been asking for for years. This is what we wanted,” a member of one of the largest rebel umbrella organizations in the country said on condition of anonymity. “We have been asking for weapons for years, and we finally have a good chance of getting them.”

Taking out Assad is not an immediate concern for the U.S. It wants to defeat ISIS first. Turkey, on the other hand, supports the rebel groups that see Assad as the real enemy.

In recent years, Turkey has funded groups like Ahrar al-Sham, a Sunni Muslim extremist group with ties to al Qaeda, and has pushed for the ousting of Assad before ISIS. The Turkish government has also taken part in the shipment of arms to rebels in Syria, Reuters reported earlier this year.

In contrast, the U.S. has rejected cooperation with Ahrar al-Sham and other extremists, instead preferring to work with so-called “moderate rebels.” The U.S. has also promoted an ISIS-first strategy, which has angered some rebels who argue that Assad is the true enemy and must be taken out of power before the Islamic State can be toppled.

Rebel groups in Syria, especially in the north, are split in their allegiances to Turkey and the U.S., and finding a rebel force with a common ideology and strategy to carry out the monitoring of the buffer zone will be difficult, rebels in Aleppo told International Business Times Monday. The weapons, they said, will end up falling into the hands of groups that have different ideologies and ultimate goals.

While many rebel leaders used to fall under one umbrella group, the Free Syrian Army, they have recently split and are now duking it out for land and power. There are the hardline Islamist fighters with known battlefield strength, but an extremist Muslim ideology. Then there’s the more moderate groups known for their popularity among the people of Aleppo, who while still devoutly Muslim, do not want the implementation of Shariah law in the post-war era.

In an effort to get the U.S. weapons for the buffer zone mission, extremist fighters who make up Ahrar al-Sham, one of the main Islamist rebel groups, say they have tried to promote themselves as a more moderate organization, one willing to work with other groups toward a peace process. But in the end, they say, the weapons they receive will be used for one goal.

“Ahrar al-Sham wants to see the end to Assad’s reign,” wrote Labib Al Nahhas, foreign affairs director for Ahrar al-Sham, in the Telegraph this week. “Assad and his cabal of murderous generals must go.”

Al Nahhas also warned the U.S. against attempting to bring Western values to Syria. “Political systems and models of government cannot be imported into the Middle East and expected to flourish where historical experiences, political cultures and social structures are so radically different. There needs to be a major role for religion and local custom in any political arrangement that emerges,” he said.

Syrian President Bashar Assad admitted during a speech in Damascus that the Syrian Army no longer has enough troops to defend the entire country.  Reuters/Sana Sana

Syrian President Bashar Assad admitted during a speech in Damascus that the Syrian Army no longer has enough troops to defend the entire country. Reuters/Sana Sana

Other rebel leaders, including some who were once trained and given weapons under a CIA covert operation against Assad in 2013, have called the safe zone operation a “sham.” In the spring of 2013, the U.S. selected groups within the Free Syrian Army for a program that allowed for the transfer of U.S.-made weapons to Turkey via other countries’ aircraft.

One senior rebel leader in Idlib, a major rebel stronghold in the southwest of Aleppo, insisted the West had failed them before and “will fail us again.” The United States is “sitting on its heels” in seriously attacking Assad because it does not want to engage in armed conflict with the dictator’s allies, Iran and Russia, he added.

Still, the appeal of helping the United States and Turkey fight ISIS is clear to many rebel leaders, who expect the offensive to bring in loads of cash and weapons, resources they have needed desperately amid a four-year battle to unseat Assad.

“We think that President Obama threw the Syrian opposition under the bus,” Mohammed Ghanem, a senior political adviser in Washington at the Syrian American Council, a grassroots organization based in Chicago, told IBTimes in November. “Given how abysmal the situation is in Syria, that seems like a bad joke.”

Also see:

Obama Admin Backs NATO Ally Turkey’s Double Game with Islamic State After Turks Bomb Anti-ISIS Kurdish Groups

1436985867gory-23PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, July 26, 2015:

A bizarre situation unfolded this past week, one that could possibly drag the U.S. into a new war in the Middle East.

On Monday, a suicide bomber attacked a rally in Suruc, Turkey, targeting a news conference of the Kurdish Federation of Socialist Youth Associations, killing 32. The suicide bomber was identified by Turkish authorities as an Islamic State supporter who had returned from Syria.

NYT tweet

In response the Islamist government in Ankara, led by Obama’s pal Recep Erdogan (one of Obama’s top five international friends), launched airstrikes targeting not the Islamic State, but Kurdish groups in Iraq.

CNN Turk

CNN Turk m2

This comes as more evidence emerges that Turkey has been playing a double game with the Islamic State. The evidence was obtained in a U.S. special forces raid of a senior ISIS leader in Iraq.

The Guardian reports today:

When US special forces raided the compound of an Islamic State leader in eastern Syria in May, they made sure not to tell the neighbours.

The target of that raid, the first of its kind since US jets returned to the skies over Iraq last August, was an Isis official responsible for oil smuggling, named Abu Sayyaf. He was almost unheard of outside the upper echelons of the terror group, but he was well known to Turkey. From mid-2013, the Tunisian fighter had been responsible for smuggling oil from Syria’s eastern fields, which the group had by then commandeered. Black market oil quickly became the main driver of Isis revenues – and Turkish buyers were its main clients.

As a result, the oil trade between the jihadis and the Turks was held up as evidence of an alliance between the two. It led to protests from Washington and Europe – both already wary of Turkey’s 900-mile border with Syria being used as a gateway by would-be jihadis from around the world.

This comes as more evidence emerges that Turkey has been playing a double game with the Islamic State. The evidence was obtained in a U.S. special forces raid of a senior ISIS leader in Iraq.

The Guardian reports today:

When US special forces raided the compound of an Islamic State leader in eastern Syria in May, they made sure not to tell the neighbours.

The target of that raid, the first of its kind since US jets returned to the skies over Iraq last August, was an Isis official responsible for oil smuggling, named Abu Sayyaf. He was almost unheard of outside the upper echelons of the terror group, but he was well known to Turkey. From mid-2013, the Tunisian fighter had been responsible for smuggling oil from Syria’s eastern fields, which the group had by then commandeered. Black market oil quickly became the main driver of Isis revenues – and Turkish buyers were its main clients.

As a result, the oil trade between the jihadis and the Turks was held up as evidence of an alliance between the two. It led to protests from Washington and Europe – both already wary of Turkey’s 900-mile border with Syria being used as a gateway by would-be jihadis from around the world.

Turkey oil link t0 ISIS

 

This is not the first time that Turkey has been caught double-dealing against their U.S. NATO ally. There was the “gas for gold” scheme with Iran that allowed the Islamic Republic to skirt international sanctions, and Erdogan and the Turkish intelligence chief had a photographed meeting with U.S. designated Al-Qaeda global terror financier Yasin al-Qadi.

Curiously, shortly after those reports showing photographs of Erdogan meeting with al-Qadi appeared in the Turkish media, the Treasury Department under Obama removed al-Qadi’s terror designation.

The preferred route of thousands of foreign fighters now in the ranks of ISIS appears to have been mostly coming from Turkey and crossing the border into Syria, bringing complaints that Turkey was not doing enough to combat the group’s growth and that the border was becoming “a two-way jihadist highway.”

But a series of published reports going back to last year seem to show direct and indirect Turkish support for the Islamic State.

  • In April 2014, Turkish media reports showed photographs of ISIS commander Abu Muhammad being treated at the Hatay State Hospital after being injured fighting in Syria. Opposition politicians also claimed that fighters with Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria, were allowed to stay at the guesthouses of the government’s Religious Affairs Directorate.
  • Last November, Newsweek published an interview with a former ISIS fighter who said that ISIS fighters faced no obstructions entering from Turkey. Meanwhile, ISIS commanders bragged about the “full cooperation with the Turks,” while anti-ISIS Kurdish fighters were blocked by Turkish authorities.
  • This account seems to be confirmed by a report from Aydınlık Daily, which reported in July 2014 that the Turkish intelligence service, the MIT, had transported members of Syrian terrorist groups and their weapons across the border.
  • Two weeks after that report, at an event site approved by Erdogan’s ruling AKP Party and sponsored by a publication known for its ISIS sympathiesa rally was held in Istanbul where video showed speakers openly calling for jihad. There were also reports that recruiting for ISIS fighters took place.
  • In January, Turkish military documents from the Gendarmerie General Command leaked online showed that Turkish intelligence were transporting missiles, mortars and anti-aircraft ammunition for Al-Qaeda and actively obstructed the military from documenting the transfers.
  • The New York Times reported in May that massive amounts of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer used for making bombs, were being prepared in a Turkish town near Syria and transported across the border. The report quoted an opposition politician who admitted that the fertilizing was not for farms, but for bombs.
  • Reuters reported exclusively in late May that court documents and prosecutor testimony revealed that Turkish intelligence had transported weapons across the border in 2013 and early 2014, aiding the offensive push by ISIS into Iraq in June 2014. Erdogan himself had said that the shipments were aid.

And then there’s this, though it’s unlikely that it’s much of a secret…

Turkey recruting IS

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Also see:

Iran Courting Native Americans in Canada: Leaked Document

Terrance Nelson, former chief of Manitoba's Roseau River

Terrance Nelson, former chief of Manitoba’s Roseau River

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, June 24, 2015:

Saudi Arabia is greatly concerned about how the Iranian regime is establishing relationships with Native American tribes in Canada, according to a newly-leaked Saudi intelligence document.

The Islamist government of Turkey is likewise reaching out to Native American tribes inside the United States.

The secret document from Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Agency, dated May 25, 2012, was sent to the Saudi Prime Minister and approved by the Saudi Crown Prince and Foreign Minister. Saudi intelligence appears to confirm that Iran is becoming friendly with Native Americans in Canada and has even mobilized them for pro-Iran, anti-American political activism.

The memo states that Saudi intelligence is monitoring “the attempts by the Iranian government to take advantage of the situation of the Indians of Canada, in order to build connections with them, to gain from their reservations and lands, to carry out various activities and investments.”

Saudi intelligence reports that Native American leaders recently protested against American and Canadian foreign policy in front of the Iranian embassy in Ottawa. It states that the Indians expressed pro-Iran sentiments at the rally.

It also reports that two tribal leaders from Manitoba Province met with Iranian embassy officials and said they’d take a trip to Tehran. The Indian leaders said they want Iranian investment in their reservations and would like to send 200 children to Iran to study administration and development.

The intelligence memo notes that the Canadian media has reported on the matter and pointed out Iran’s hypocrisy in embracing the Native American minority while oppressing its own minorities.

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Is Kurdistan Rising?

The State of the Kurds  WSJ 6-20-15

NER, by Jerry Gordon, June 21, 2015:

In the Wall Street Journal Weekend edition, June 20-21, 2015, Yaroslav Trofimov writes of the possible rise of an independent Kurdistan, “The State of The Kurds”.  An independent Kurdistan was promised by the WWI Allies in the Treaty of Sevres that ended the Ottoman Empire in 1920. That commitment was dashed by the rise of Turkish Republic under the secularist Kemal Atatürk confirmed in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne denying an independent Kurdistan in what is now Eastern Turkey. Combined a future Kurdistan encompassing eastern Turkey, Northern Syria, northwest Iran and northern Iraq might comprise a landlocked republic of 30 million with significant energy and agricultural resources.  The rise of Kurdistan is reflected in these comments in the Trofimov WSJ review article:

Selahattin Demirtas, Chairman of the HDP party in Turkey:

The Kurds’ existence was not recognized; they were hidden behind a veil. But now, after being invisible for a century, they are taking their place on the international stage. Today, international powers can no longer resolve any issue in the Middle East without taking into account the interests of the Kurds.

Tahir Elçi, a prominent Kurdish lawyer and chairman of the bar in Diyarbakir, Turkey:

In the past, when the Kurds sought self-rule, the Turks, the Persians and the Arabs were all united against it. Today that’s not true anymore—it’s not possible for the Shiite government in Iraq and Shiite Iran to work together against the Kurds with the Sunni Turkey and the Sunni ISIS. In this environment, the Kurds have become a political and a military power in the Middle East.

Elçi, amplifies a concern that Sherkoh Abbas, leader of the Kurdish National Syria Assembly (KURDNAS) has expressed in several NER interviews an articles with him:

The PKK has made important steps to adopt more democratic ways. But you cannot find the same climate of political diversity in [Kurdish] Syria as you find in [northern Iraq], and this is because of PKK’s authoritarian and Marxist background. This is a big problem.

As effective as the KRG government and peshmerga have been in pushing back at ISIS forces threatening the capital of Erbil, the real problem is the divisiveness in the political leadership. That is reflected in the comment of  Erbil province’s governor, Nawaf Hadi cited by Trofimov:

For 80 years, the Arab Sunni people led Iraq—and they destroyed Kurdistan. Now we’ve been for 10 years with the Shiite people [dominant in Baghdad], and they’ve cut the funding and the salaries—how can we count on them as our partner in Iraq?” All the facts on the ground encourage the Kurds to be independent.

That renewed prospect reflects the constellation of  events in Turkey, Syria and Iraq.

Supporters cheer Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, HDP, in Istanbul, Turkey, in May, 2015. Source: Emrah Gurel/AP

Supporters cheer Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, HDP, in Istanbul, Turkey, in May, 2015. Source: Emrah Gurel/AP

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Also see:

Shoshana Bryen: The Kurds – A Guide for U.S. Policymakers

Shoshana Bryen, Senior Director, Jewish Policy Center; Former Senior Director for Security Policy, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA)

Shoshana Bryen, Senior Director, Jewish Policy Center; Former Senior Director for Security Policy, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA)

Center for Security Policy, by Rachel Silverman, June 8, 2015:

On Sunday, June 7th Turkish voters delivered a dramatic blow to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In a historic first, a party dominated by ethnic Kurds surged into the Grand National Assembly in Ankara, marking a new moment in the evolution of Turkey’s democracy. According to Akin Unver, a professor of international relations at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, it’s now “impossible to sideline Kurdish politics. Despite the civil war of the 1990s, Kurds have evolved politically and established a lasting legacy” on the Turkish national stage.

Professor Unver, is not the only one who believes that the Kurds should be recognized politically. On June 4th, during the Center for Security Policy’s National Security Group Lunch on Capitol Hill, Shoshana Bryen who is the Senior Director of the Jewish Policy Center offered three practical steps that the U.S. can do to help assist the Kurds and advance U.S. interests in the region.

Bryen says that the first step, which coincides with Professor Unver, “is for the U.S. to recognize the Kurds politically, as an ally, as a partner in the fight against ISIS.” She mentions that there was a meeting in Paris last week between coalition members to discuss Iraq and Syria and the Kurds were not invited, despite the fact that there are 160,000 or so Kurdish fighters on the ground doing the job.

The second step, according to Bryen, is for the U.S. to talk to the Kurds directly and not through Baghdad:

“Right now all the aid that we give them, which is not a whole lot, goes through Baghdad. The Kurds probably get about 25 or 35 percent of that, which means we need to talk to them directly instead. The U.S. needs to figure out how to give them military equipment directly. The Turks, Iraqis, and Iranians will not like it, but if the Germans and the French can supply the Kurds directly which is what they do now, then the U.S. ought to as well.”

Bryen’s third step is that the U.S. needs to figure out how to get the Kurds to the United States to talk. Bryen stresses that “the Kurdish voices are not being heard around the United States and they need to be. They need invitations, they need to be invited to testify on Capitol Hill, and they need to be invited to conferences.”

Bryen also stresses that U.S. interests actually lie with the minority communities in the Middle East, which includes Israel and the Kurds. She says that “we have allies in the region and we need to lean on them instead of trying to pretend that our enemies are our allies.” Bryen ends with saying that if we follow these three crucial steps, then that is “the beginning of wisdom for the United States.”

Becoming allies with the Kurds would offer the United States tremendous strategic advantages that would help defeat the Islamic State, especially now after the Turkish election results. Unlike several of the countries from which the U.S. flies their aircrafts or bases their ships, the Kurdish leaders and people are pro-American, its ruling regime is not a monarchy ripe for Arab-Spring-style overthrow, and it does not sponsor Islamist terrorism. It is clearly time for America to form an alliance with the Kurds.

Turkey: “An End to an Era of Oppression”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also see:

Erdogan vs. the New York Times, and Democracy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

Turkish army forms ceremonial Ottoman unit on Erdoğan’s order

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

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

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

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

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

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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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