Europe: More Migrants Coming

Gatestone Institute, by Soeren Kern, May 5, 2017:

  • “In terms of public order and internal security, I simply need to know who is coming to our country.” — Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka.
  • Turkey appears determined to flood Europe with migrants either way: with Europe’s permission by means of visa-free travel, or without Europe’s permission, as retribution for failing to provide visa-free travel.
  • The migrants arriving in Italy are overwhelmingly economic migrants seeking a better life in Europe. Only a very small number appear to be legitimate asylum seekers or refugees fleeing warzones.
  • The director of the UN office in Geneva, Michael Møller, has warned that Europe must prepare for the arrival of millions more migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The European Union has called on its member states to lift border controls — introduced at the height of the migration crisis in September 2015 — within the next six months.

The return to open borders, which would allow for passport-free travel across the EU, comes at a time when the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean continues to rise, and when Turkish authorities increasingly have been threatening to renege on a border deal that has lessened the flow of migrants from Turkey to Europe.

Critics say that lifting the border controls now could trigger another, even greater, migration crisis by encouraging potentially millions of new migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East to begin making their way to Europe. It would also allow jihadists to cross European borders undetected to carry out attacks when and where they wish.

At a press conference in Brussels on May 2, the EU Commissioner in charge of migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, called on Austria, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Sweden — among the wealthiest and most sought after destinations in Europe for migrants — to phase out the temporary controls currently in place at their internal Schengen borders over the next six months.

The so-called Schengen Agreement, which took effect in March 1995, abolished many of the EU’s internal borders, enabling passport-free movement across most of the bloc. The Schengen Agreement, along with the single European currency, are fundamental pillars of the European Union and essential building-blocks for constructing a United States of Europe. With the long-term sustainability of the single currency and open borders in question, advocates of European federalism are keen to preserve both.

Avramopoulos, who argued that border controls are “not in the European spirit of solidarity and cooperation,” said:

“The time has come to take the last concrete steps to gradually return to a normal functioning of the Schengen Area. This is our goal, and it remains unchanged. A fully functioning Schengen area, free from internal border controls. Schengen is one of the greatest achievements of the European project. We must do everything to protect it.”

The temporary border controls were established in September 2015, after hundreds of thousands of migrants arrived in Europe, and when EU member states, led by Germany, gave special permission to some EU countries to impose emergency controls for up to two years. Since then, the European Union has approved six-month extensions of controls at the German-Austrian border, at Austria’s frontiers with Hungary and Slovenia and at Danish, Swedish and Norwegian borders (Norway is a member of Schengen but not the EU). Several countries have argued that they need border controls to combat the threat of Islamic militancy.

On May 2, Sweden, which claims to conduct the most border checks among the EU countries, announced that it will lift controls at its border with Denmark. Sweden received 81,000 asylum seekers in 2014; 163,000 in 2015; 29,000 in 2016, and the same is expected for 2017.

On April 26, Austria called for an indefinite extension of border controls. “In terms of public order and internal security, I simply need to know who is coming to our country,” Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said. Austria, which accepted some 90,000 migrants in 2015, also called for a “postponement” of the EU refugee distribution program, which requires EU member states to accept a mandatory and proportional distribution of asylum-seekers who arrive in other member nations.

On March 9, Norway extended border controls for another three months.

On January 26, Denmark extended border controls for another four months. Integration Minister Inger Støjberg said that his government would extend its border controls “until European borders are under control.”

On January 19, Germany and Austria announced that border controls between their countries would continue indefinitely, “as long as the EU external border is not adequately protected.”

Meanwhile, the number of migrants making their way to Europe is once again trending higher. Of the 30,465 migrants who reached Europe during the first quarter of 2017, 24,292 (80%) arrived in Italy, 4,407 arrived in Greece, 1,510 arrived in Spain and 256 arrived in Bulgaria, according to the International Office for Migration (IOM).

By way of comparison, the number of arrivals to Europe during each of the first three months of 2017 exceeded those who arrived during the same time period in 2015, the year in which migration to Europe reached unprecedented levels.

The trend is expected to continue throughout 2017. Better weather is already bringing about a surge of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Europe. During just one week in April, for example, a total of 9,661 migrants reached the shores of Italy.

The migrants arriving there are overwhelmingly economic migrants seeking a better life in Europe. Only a very small number appear to be legitimate asylum seekers or refugees fleeing warzones. According to the IOM, the migrants who reached Italy during the first three months of 2017 are, in descending order, from: Guinea, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Senegal, Morocco, Mali, Somalia and Eritrea.

In February, Italy reached a deal with the UN-backed government in Tripoli to hold migrants in camps in Libya in exchange for money to fight human traffickers. The agreement was endorsed by both the European Union and Germany.

On May 2, however, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel reversed course by saying the deal ignored the “catastrophic conditions” in Libya and would not curb migration. He said that Germany now favored tackling migration by fighting instability in Africa:

“What we are trying instead is to help stabilize the countries on the continent. But that is difficult. We will have to show staying power, stamina and patience. This is in the interest of Africans but also in the interest of Europeans.”

Gabriel’s long-term solution — which in the best of circumstances could take decades to bear fruit — implies that mass migration from Africa to Europe will continue unabated for many years to come.

Italy has emerged as Europe’s main point of entry for migrants largely because of an agreement the European Union signed with Turkey in March 2016 to stem migration from Turkey to Greece. In recent weeks, however, Turkish authorities have threatened to back out of the deal because, according to them, the EU has failed to honor its end of the bargain.

Under the agreement, the EU pledged to pay Turkey €3 billion ($3.4 billion), as well as grant visa-free travel to Europe for Turkey’s 78 million citizens, and to restart accession talks for Turkey to join the bloc. In exchange, Turkey agreed to take back all migrants and refugees who reach Greece via Turkey.

After the deal was reached, the number of migrants reaching Greece dropped sharply, although not completely. According to data supplied by the European Union on April 12, a total of 30,565 migrants reached Greece since the migrant deal took effect. Only 944 of those migrants have been returned to Turkey. Still, this is in sharp contrast to the hundreds of thousands of migrants who entered Greece at the height of the migration crisis. Turkey’s continued cooperation is essential to keep the migration floodgates closed.

On April 22, Turkey’s Minister for EU Affairs, Ömer Çelik, issued an ultimatum, warning the European Union that if it does not grant Turkish citizens visa-free travel by the end of May, Turkey would suspend the migrant deal and flood Europe with migrants.

On March 17, Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu warned that his country would “blow the mind” of Europe and renege on the deal by sending 15,000 Syrian refugees a month to Europe:

“We have a readmission deal. I’m telling you Europe, do you have that courage? If you want, we’ll send the 15,000 refugees to you that we don’t send each month and blow your mind. You have to keep in mind that you can’t design a game in this region apart from Turkey.”

In February 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had already threatened to send millions of migrants to Europe. “We can open the doors to Greece and Bulgaria anytime and we can put the refugees on buses,” he told European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. In a speech, he signaled that he was running out of patience:

“We do not have the word ‘idiot’ written on our foreheads. We will be patient, but we will do what we have to. Don’t think that the planes and the buses are there for nothing.”

In February 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (left) threatened to send millions of migrants to Europe. “We can open the doors to Greece and Bulgaria anytime and we can put the refugees on buses,” he told Jean-Claude Juncker (right), President of the European Commission. (Image source: Turkish President’s Office)

European officials say that to qualify for the visa waiver, Turkey must meet 72 conditions, including the most important one: relaxing its stringent anti-terrorism laws, which are being used to silence critics of Erdoğan, especially since the failed coup in July 2016. Turkey has vowed not to comply with the EU’s demands.

Critics of visa liberalization fear that millions of Turkish nationals may end up migrating to Europe. The Austrian newsmagazine, Wochenblick, recently reported that 11 million Turks are living in poverty and “many of them are dreaming of moving to central Europe.”

Other analysts believe Erdoğan views the visa waiver as an opportunity to “export” Turkey’s “Kurdish Problem” to Germany. According to Bavarian Finance Minister Markus Söder, millions of Kurds are poised to take advantage of the visa waiver to flee to Germany to escape persecution at the hands of Erdoğan: “We are importing an internal Turkish conflict,” he warned. “In the end, fewer migrants may arrive by boat, but more will arrive by airplane.”

The European Union now finds itself in a Catch-22 situation. Turkey appears determined to flood Europe with migrants either way: with Europe’s permission by means of visa-free travel, or without Europe’s permission, as retribution for failing to provide visa-free travel.

Greek officials recently revealed that they have drawn up emergency plans to cope with a new migrant crisis. Turkey is hosting some three million migrants from Syria and Iraq, many of whom are presumably waiting for an opportunity to flee to Europe.

Italy is also bracing for the worst. Up to a million people, mainly from Bangladesh, Egypt, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan and Syria are now in Libya waiting to cross the Mediterranean Sea, according to the IOM.

The director of the United Nations office in Geneva, Michael Møller, has warned that Europe must prepare for the arrival of millions more migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. In an interview with The Times, Møller, a Dane, said:

“What we have been seeing is one of the biggest human migrations in history. And it’s just going to accelerate. Young people all have cellphones and they can see what’s happening in other parts of the world, and that acts as a magnet.”

German Development Minister Gerd Müller has echoed that warning:

“The biggest migration movements are still ahead: Africa’s population will double in the next decades. A country like Egypt will grow to 100 million people, Nigeria to 400 million. In our digital age with the internet and mobile phones, everyone knows about our prosperity and lifestyle.”

Müller added that only 10% of those currently on the move have reached Europe: “Eight to ten million migrants are still on the way.”

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

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Europe’s Rising Islam-Based Political Parties

by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
April 21, 2017

These past several months, eyes across the world have been trained on a growing far-right movementsweeping Europe and America – from the neo-Nazi groups in Germany and the United States to the increasing popularity of France’s National Front. But another, far less noticed but sometimes equally-radical movement is also emerging across Europe: the rise of pro-Islam political parties, some with foreign support from the Muslim world. And the trend shows no sign of stopping.

Holland’s Denk (“Think”) party, established and led by two Turkish immigrants, is among the most significant. Denk won three seats in the Dutch parliament last month, becoming the country’s “fastest-growing” new party, according to Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad. Its platform: replace ideas of integration with “mutual acceptance” – a charming but antiquated idea in a culture where one group accepts gay marriage and the other is taught that homosexuals should be shoved off of tall buildings; an “acceptance monitor” to measure the extent to which such “mutual acceptance” has succeeded; and the establishment of a dedicated “anti-racism” police force.

While not the first of such Islamic parties in European politics, Denk’s March 15 win makes it an inspiration to others. Existing parties now see a new chance for success, while political aspirants across Europe are making plans to start similar parties of their own.

Hence, while the focus in next week’s French elections will be on Marine le Pen’s National Front, many European Muslims will also be watching the Equality and Justice Party (PEJ), led by French-Turk Sacir Çolak. Like Denk, the party claims to be a voice for the downtrodden, aimed at fighting “inequalities and injustices,” according to a report by the Turkish Anadolu news agency. But also like Denk, it has been accused of representing not the political interests of French citizens, but those of Turkey’s president – a man who has spoken out against assimilation and integration and called on European Turks to reject Western values.

The PEJ is not alone in France: The French Union of Muslim Democrats (UDMF), founded in 2012, made headlines when it entered the 2015 electoral race. Its platform seems more moderate than many of its fellow Muslim parties across Europe: founder Nagib Azergui has insisted in interviews that he respects the secular foundation of the French republic, and advocates philosophy and civic education classes that would help mitigate against the recruitment efforts of Muslim extremists.

The party does, however, seek to establish sharia-compliant banks and calls for Turkey to become a member of the European Union. Further, it seeks to re-install the right of Muslim girls to wear headscarves in public schools, a move that could be seen as a gesture towards re-introducing religion into the secular sphere.

Austria, too, has seen a rise in Islamic political parties, such as the New Movement for the Future (NBZ), founded, like Denk and the PEJ, by Turkish immigrants. Unlike the others, however, NBZ has made little effort to hide its loyalty to Turkey. Following the failed 2016 Turkish coup, for instance, its leader, Adnan Dinçer, called on Austria to respect Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s clampdown on the country and the mass arrests that followed. It is worth noting, however, that Austria’s far right has been particularly virulent in its anti-Islam activity, calling for Islam itself to be banned from the country. Such motions inevitably bring forth counter-movements from the targeted groups, and it was, just those actions which mobilized Dinçer to form the NBZ.

But it was Denk’s success, above all, that inspired Lebanese-Belgian activist Dyab Abou Jahjah to establish his newest political effort: a party (to date, unnamed) aimed at “Making Brussels Great Again, a la Bernie Sanders,” according to an interview in Belgian newspaper de Morgen.

This would be a third attempt for Jahjah, who first came into the public eye in 2002 as the founder of the Brussels-based Arab-European League, a pan-European political group that aimed to create what he called a Europe-wide “sharocracy” – a sharia-based democracy. In 2003, the AEL further organized a political party, RESIST, to run in the Brussels elections: it received a mere 10,000 votes. Now, Jahjah, who also runs an activist group called Movement X, hopes to run again in Brussels’ 2018 elections. While his party has yet to declare a platform, his anti-American, anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian and anti-European rants on Facebook and elsewhere give an indication of his plans. So, too, did a recent blog post in which he wrote: “we must defeat the forces of supremacy, the forces of sustained privileges, and the forces of the status-quo. We must defeat them in every possible arena.”

But he, too, is not alone: days after Denk’s win, fellow Belgian Ahmet Koç announced his own initiative, the details of which have also still to be determined. However, some things are easy enough to predict on the basis of his past: the Turkish-Belgian politician was thrown out of Belgium’s socialist party in 2016 for supporting Erdogan’s efforts to censor Europeans who insult him publicly, and calling for Belgian Turks to rise up against the “traitors” of the 2016 coup.

Both Koç and Jahjah will have to reckon with the ISLAM party, which has already established itself in the Brussels area. Founded in 2012, ISLAM – which poses as an acronym for “Integrité, Solidarité, Liberté, Authenticité, Moralité” is unapologetically religious. Leaders pride themselves on following the Quran, not party politics. With divisions already in place in the Brussels districts of Anderlecht, Molenbeek (the center of Belgian radicalism) and Luik, the party now plans to expand throughout the Brussels region.

So far, none of the existing parties has had a great deal of success – and the emerging parties have yet to make their platforms known, let alone acquire active supporters. But as Denk founder Tunahan Kuzu proudly announced after the March elections, a new voice has now gained power in a European government. But what that voice ultimately will be, and the strength of its commitment to secular and democratic values, remains yet to be seen.

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. Follow her at @radicalstates.

Erdogan’s Caliphate Threatens NATO

The American Spectator, by Jed Babbin, March 21, 2017:

Among NATO’s most serious problems is Recip Erdogan, the president of Turkey. He is more than a political nuisance, because he threatens both the commitment of NATO’s members to defend each other and the Westernized composition of the nation he leads.

In the last half of the 19th century, under the Ottoman Empire’s last caliph Abdulmejid, Turkey was known as “the sick man of Europe.” Abdulmejid’s government was corrupt, dissolute, and entirely vulnerable. That third element led to the Gallipoli Campaign, which, in 1915-1916, saw troops from Australia and New Zealand under British command thwarted in their attempt to land and seize control of the Dardanelles.

One Turkish officer, Mustafa Kemal, found himself at the center of the invasion force. His counterattacks and ability to hold ground were the reasons the invasion failed.

After the war, when the Ottoman Empire fell and Abdulmejid’s reign ended, Mustafa Kemal became the leader of Turkey who was not as much followed as worshiped. In 1934, Mustafa Kemal became known as “Ataturk,” father of Turks. He remade the Islamic Ottoman state into a secular, non-Islamic nation aimed at joining the Western world.

Eighty-three years later, Turkey is led by a man whose principal goal is the re-creation of the Turkish Islamic state, Recip Erdogan.

Erdogan is not a dictator imposed by a military coup (though Turkey has had its share of them). He is highly popular, despite his many despotic actions, primarily because the Turks seem to have forgotten the reason for Ataturk’s success.

If you examine Erdogan’s past, it is no surprise that he is an Islamist. Erdogan is the product of a Turkish imam-hatip school. These are Islamic religious schools that aren’t quite the “madrassas” we’ve heard so much about since 9/11, but they are much like them. The imam-hatip schools reserve 30 percent of their students’ time for religious instruction. They teach Sunni Islamic law — Sharia law — as the exclusive legitimate source of authority. Those schools teach the political ideology we refer to as radical Islam.

Erdogan repeatedly has made clear his allegiance to radical Islam again and again throughout his presidency. He became prime minister in 2002 and has ruled the country ever since. His presidency, which began in 2014, is about to be converted into a pseudo-caliphate by a constitutional referendum that will be voted on next month.

Since Ataturk, the Turkish army has had the duty of maintaining the secularism of the Turkish state. It has had its successes and failures, but as Ataturk recognized, Turkey cannot be an Islamic state and a Western ally. For decades, many (if not most) Turkish officers have been trained in the U.S. and England and have been assigned to officer exchange programs that enabled them to serve with American forces.

From Korea to Afghanistan, Turkish troops have been a strong presence in NATO deployments. Gradually, since 2002, Erdogan has been weeding out non-Islamists from the Turkish armed forces. Graduates of the imam-hatip schools weren’t permitted to become officers in the Turkish army, but that may soon change. Erdogan has said those schools are “the hope of Turkey and the entire Muslim nation.”

Last July’s attempted coup against Erdogan sealed the Turkish army’s fate. Hundreds of non-Islamist senior officers were purged from the military. They and the journalists taken prisoner are among the more than 200,000 people arrested and (or) fired from their jobs in Erdogan’s response to the coup attempt.

Erdogan’s hopes lie in the referendum that will be voted on in April. It’s likely to be approved by the voters. In sum, the constitutional amendments it contains concentrate all executive power in the president and extend his legal term in office for at least another decade.

The referendum has been the source of Turkey’s recent conflict with Germany and Holland. About 1.5 million Turkish citizens live in Germany, but that doesn’t count the numbers who have come as refugees in the past two years. Turks make up the largest alien population in Germany.

At least 400,000 Turks live in Holland. Again, that number doesn’t reflect how many entered in the refugee floods of 2015-2016. All told, about four million ethnic Turks live in the EU nations.

Because those Turkish citizens can vote in the Turkish referendum, Erdogan is eager to get their votes. When he sent Turkish government representatives to hold rallies in Germany, several German cities wouldn’t allow the rallies to be held. Erdogan said the Germans were behaving like Nazis.

Holland went further, banning two Turkish government ministers from entering the country to hold such rallies. Erdogan accused the Dutch of Nazi-like behavior.

Relations are worsening by the day between the EU nations — almost all of which are NATO members — and Turkey. Last year, the EU entered into an agreement with Turkey to stop the flow of refugees from the Middle East and Africa. The EU promised to grant visa-free travel to Turkish citizens, which it hasn’t done based on Turkey’s poor human rights record. Now, Erdogan is threatening to open the floodgates to another million or more refugees to enter the EU. He has threatened to send Europe 15,000 refugees every month.

Last month, in a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Erdogan held a joint press conference in which Merkel referred to “Islamic terrorism.” Erdogan, furious at her statement, insisted that “Islam is peace.”

Turkey has been — in strategic and literal terms — a cornerstone of NATO. But Erdogan’s actions have been entirely inconsistent with that role. He negotiated an agreement with Russia’s President Putin to build a gas pipeline to and through Turkey to reach back into Europe. That’s not nearly the worst of it.

For more than a year, Turkey has reportedly been quietly supporting ISIS. It may have supplied money, arms, and troops. Erdogan has sided with Russia and may have a pseudo-alliance with Putin to help keep Bashar al-Assad in power in Syria. Turkish forces have made attacks against ISIS, but they have concentrated their firepower more on the Kurdish forces with which we are allied.

Last week, Erdogan blocked military exercises with NATO “partner” nations. He is evidently willing to continue to escalate his conflicts with NATO, believing there will be no response, because he has the EU over a barrel on the refugee issue.

Also last week, the Turkish foreign minister, reacting to the Dutch election, said that “holy wars will soon begin” in Europe. Shortly after that, Erdogan gave a speech in which he discussed the EU court ruling that allows EU nations to ban the wearing of the Muslim hijab by women. He said, “Shame on the EU. Down with your European principles, values and justice. They started a clash between the cross and the crescent, there is no other explanation.”

The “cross and the crescent” reference was nothing less than an accusation that the EU was reviving the Crusades.

There is no provision in the NATO treaty that permits throwing a member nation out of NATO. Turkey no longer makes a pretense of being a democratic state. As the Islamic state it has become, it cannot coexist with democracies.

Erdogan’s Turkey has been, for decades, trying to join the EU. It has apparently given up trying and is now more an ally of Russia than part of NATO. That was made most clear, after the July coup when Erdogan cut off electricity to our Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey. Two months ago, Erdogan’s government hinted that he would shut the base down after we refused to support Turkish attacks in Syria.

Incirlik has been our key to the Middle East. Aircraft operating from there can quickly reach Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and pretty much the whole region. If Erdogan tried to shut the base down, it would be very tough to find another base location in the area, and it would cost billions to set it up to function as Incirlik does.

Threatening to cut off our foreign aid won’t be effective because Turkey gets only about $200,000 a year from us. It’s a trifle. Threatening Turkey could bring about a closer Turkish-Russian alliance.

What to do? President Trump has to make it clear to Erdogan that any further interference with Incirlik’s operations will not be tolerated.

Our leverage is not entirely limited. Mr. Trump can begin by turning up the rhetorical heat on Erdogan, saying that NATO cannot tolerate his failure to cooperate and urging the EU to keep the door closed to refugees. Erdogan’s threats to use the refugees as a weapon against NATO nations should be viewed as a breach of the NATO treaty.

At some point, Erdogan’s actions will be a clear breach of the EU treaty. We’re not there yet, but Mr. Trump can and should hint that we’re thinking in those terms.

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Also see:

How Hamas is winning hearts and minds in Europe

Via conferences and through hierarchies linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, Gaza-based terror group is building global infrastructure to challenge PLO’s standing as Palestinians’ sole legitimate representative

The Times of Israel, by March 14, 2017:

At the end of February, in Istanbul, the Palestinians Abroad Conference convened with the purported goal of promoting global support for the Palestinians. Its actual purpose was to bolster the status of Hamas in the international arena.

Many of the organizers of the conference, which was attended by thousands of Arabs and Palestinians from all over the world, are of Palestinian origin. But to those who closely followed what happened in Istanbul, it became clear that many of the organizers and attendees had something else in common: they are known to have been members — for decades — of Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated networks all over Europe.

This was not the first conference of its kind. Many like it have taken place in recent years. Many of the same faces are present — including current and past members of the Muslim Brotherhood, at a more or less official level, and current and past members of Hamas.

Their shared goal is to promote international legitimacy for Hamas — in Europe, Africa, the Middle East (of course) and even in Latin America — in a bid to challenge the PLO’s international standing as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

Hamas, in this way, is slowly but surely establishing a global infrastructure of supporters who are providing not only encouragement and legitimacy, but also quite a bit of financial assistance.

Tracing the outlines of this infrastructure lends some surprising insights. For example, Britain turns out to be hosting more of this semi-official activity by Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood than any other country in Europe.

Then-Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (L) and freed Palestinian prisoner Yahya Sinwar, a founder of the terror group’s military wing, wave as supporters celebrate the release of hundreds of inmates in a swap for captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, in Khan Yunis, southern Gaza on October 21, 2011. (AFP/Said Khatib)

One almost quintessential example of such activity under innocent-seeming cover is the Global Anti-Aggression Campaign.

“This group was established in 2003 in Saudi Arabia,” said Dr. Ehud Rosen, an expert on political Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood who assisted Steven Merley, another expert, in writing a comprehensive study on the topic. Merley started a website, Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch, which reports on Muslim Brotherhood activity all over the world.

“It was initiated by two former members of al-Qaeda, both from Saudi Arabia, who tried to brand the new organization as ‘non-violent,’” Rosen said. “The organization was rebooted in Qatar in 2005 [following the Saudi government’s objections to hosting it on Saudi soil]. Its founding group from 2005 includes high-ranking Hamas officials, including political leader Khaled Mashaal, alongside representatives of other groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood’s global organization, Salafists and Salafi jihadists.

“The group has held many conferences and issued fatwas against the West, such as against France after it began military action in Mali.”

The Campaign began focusing on Gaza in 2009, during and after Operation Cast Lead, an Israeli military campaign aimed at stopping rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. At a conference held in February 2009, the group decided to turn Gaza into a new front for jihad under the auspices of the “Istanbul Declaration.” The declaration, signed by 90 Muslim clerics from all over the world, including members of Hamas, stated that the Palestinian Authority was not the representative of the Palestinian people, while the “elected government of Hamas,” was in fact the legitimate representative.

The statement attacked the Saudi-sponsored Arab Peace Initiative — a proposal that offers normalization of ties between Arab countries and Israel in exchange for Israel pulling out of territories claimed by Palestinians — calling it nothing less than “a proven betrayal of the Islamic Nation and the Palestinian cause, and a blatant betrayal of the Palestinian people.”

“This [Global Anti-Aggression Campaign] group, like some other Muslim groups throughout Europe, does not call itself the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ or a supporter of Hamas. These are networks of groups scattered over nearly the entire world. For their part, Muslim Brotherhood leaders claim their movement is active in 80 countries, but since September 11, 2001, and even before, the groups that are identified with [the Brotherhood] have denied any connection,” Rosen said.

“Take another example: FIOE, the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe,” he said. “Thirty-seven different groups in different countries on the continent operate under that organization, and over the years have created an image for themselves as ‘the legitimate representatives’ — the Islamic mainstream. The group is known as IGD in Germany and UOIF in France. The same thing is going on in Scandinavia and almost everywhere.”

These networks operate according to the long-established model of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. In each country there is a network of civil society organizations — in other words, dawa, a word in Arabic meaning proselytizing or preaching of Islam. These organizations are run by well-known figures who head madrasas, or Muslim schools; mosques; charitable organizations that raise money not only for Muslims in Europe but also for Hamas; and even student associations in every well-known university in Europe. Recently, Muslim “human rights” groups have been established that work to strengthen support for the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

Essam Mustafa (Youtube screenshot)

Many prominent figures in these groups, again, operate on British soil. Here are some examples.

Anas Altikriti, a native of Iraq, is the son of a high-ranking Muslim Brotherhood official. His father fled Saddam Hussein’s regime to Britain. He himself was born in Iraq, but has lived in London since he was two years old. He visited the White House two years ago and met with president Barack Obama. Though he supports its policies, he says he is not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Muhammad Sawalha, of Palestinian origin, is very well known to the Israeli security establishment as one of the founders of Hamas’s military wing in the West Bank. He also lives in London.

Zaher Birawi, a former Hamas operative in the Gaza Strip, was one of the spokesmen of the Mavi Marmara flotilla and has been involved in other flotillas.

Essam Yusuf Mustafa is a former member of Hamas’s political wing, at least according to the US Treasury Department. Mustafa, one of the organizers of the latest conference in Istanbul, is on the board of trustees of another organization, Interpal, which was declared a terrorism-supporting organization by the United States as far back as 2003. Both Birawi and Mustafa live in Britain.

Members of the Palestinian Hamas security forces stage mock raid on IDF post during a graduation ceremony in Gaza City on January 22, 2017. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

Mustafa was a leader of a group called the Charity Coalition (also known as the Union of Good), which raised money for Hamas in the early 2000s and gained the spiritual support of Yusuf al-Qardawi, the leading Sunni cleric and Muslim Brotherhood member. The Turkish IHH group, which was one of the organizers of the Marmara flotilla, was also part of the Charity Coalition.

There are others, in and out of Britain: Ismail Patel, head of the Friends of Al-Aqsa group; Daud Abdullah, originally from Grenada, a former member of the Muslim Council of Britain, who helps operate a news site which takes a pro-Hamas and pro-Muslim Brotherhood stance; Azzam Tamimi, a Palestinian who is the CEO of the Alhiwar television station, which operates from London and is considered explicitly pro-Hamas (Zaher Birawi hosts a show on the station); Egyptian-born Ibrahim el-Zayat, currently living in Germany, who is considered a key figure in the financial dealings of these networks; and Ibrahim Munir Mustafa, also Egyptian by birth, who chairs the international organization of the Muslim Brotherhood movement and lives in London.

Rosen, who has been tracking these names for quite some time, said there is a distinction between members of the official Muslim Brotherhood, such as those who operate in Egypt, and the networks that are thought to be identified with them.

“These are in effect groups that sprang up from former members of the Muslim Brotherhood who fled Egypt in the 1960s and settled in Europe. These groups were founded without any direct orders [from the Brotherhood], without a centralized command structure or a prominent commander,” he explained.

“But there are definite networks here, with major nexuses, such as London or Germany. They cooperate with the official Muslim Brotherhood and with Hamas.

“Hamas’s place in the enormous organization known as the global Muslim Brotherhood is growing right now,” he said. “Hamas is the movement’s own flesh and blood, and it wants to take control of the PLO. This is why its global activity has taken on a new importance. The Palestinian organization is trying to re-invent itself, with a new platform and a supposedly more moderate direction, but they are still the same organization.

“The whole BDS issue benefits from this Islamist infrastructure and receives assistance from organizations that are identified with Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood,” said Rosen. “And there is persistent talk of Khaled Mashaal, the leader of Hamas’s political wing, replacing Ibrahim Munir as the chair of the international organization of the Muslim Brotherhood movement.”

***

Turkey rallies row: Germany and Netherlands harden stance

President Erdogan’s supporters held protests after two Turkish ministers were barred from attending rallies in the Netherlands

BBC, March 12, 2017:

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Germany and the Netherlands of “Nazism” after officials blocked rallies there.

Dutch PM Mark Rutte called his comments “unacceptable”, while Germany’s foreign minister said he hoped Turkey would “return to its senses”.

Denmark’s leader said he was postponing a meeting with Turkey’s prime minister.

Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said he was concerned that “democratic principles are under great pressure” in Turkey.

He added that he had postponed the meeting later this month Binali Yildirim because: “With the current Turkish attacks on Holland the meeting cannot be seen separated from that.”

The rallies aim to encourage a large number of Turks living in Europe to vote yes in a referendum expanding the president’s powers.

However, planned rallies in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands were blocked after officials cited security concerns or said the rallies could stoke tensions.

A gathering in France however went ahead after local officials said it did not pose a threat.

Ties between the Turkish and Dutch leaders became particularly strained at the weekend after two Turkish ministers were barred from addressing rallies in Rotterdam, with one of them escorted to the German border.

Mr Erdogan likened the Netherlands to “a banana republic”, demanded international organisations impose sanctions on the Netherlands, and accused countries in the West of “Islamophobia”.

“I have said that I had thought that Nazism was over, but I was wrong. Nazism is alive in the West,” he added.



On Sunday, Mr Rutte demanded Mr Erdogan apologise for likening the Dutch to “Nazi fascists”.

“This country was bombed during the Second World War by Nazis. It’s totally unacceptable to talk in this way.”

The Netherlands would have to consider its response if Turkey continued on its current path, he added.

On Sunday a protester outside the Dutch consulate in Istanbul briefly replaced the Dutch flag with a Turkish one

Meanwhile, German ministers also appeared to harden their rhetoric against Turkey.

Despite Chancellor Angela Merkel saying her government was not opposed to Turkish ministers attending rallies in Germany, as long as they are “duly announced”, her interior minister said he was opposed to Turkish political gatherings in Germany.

“A Turkish campaign has no business being here in Germany,” Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told local media.

Angela Merkel said it was “depressing” and “unacceptable” that Mr Erdogan likened the rally bans to “Nazi practices”

Separately, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Turkey had “destroyed the basis for further progress in co-operation”.

Reports say the owner of a venue in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, also cancelled a pro-Erdogan rally on Sunday that was to have been attended by Turkey’s agriculture minister.

Sweden’s foreign ministry said it was not involved in the decision and that the event could take place elsewhere.

What is the row about?

Turkey is holding a referendum on 16 April on whether to turn from a parliamentary to a presidential republic.

If successful, it would give sweeping new powers to the president, allowing him or her to appoint ministers, prepare the budget, choose the majority of senior judges and enact certain laws by decree.

President Erdogan is hoping to win sweeping new powers

What’s more, the president alone would be able to announce a state of emergency and dismiss parliament.

There are 5.5 million Turks living outside the country, with 1.4 million eligible voters in Germany alone – and the Yes campaign is keen to get them on side.

So a number of rallies have been planned for countries with large numbers of eligible voters, including Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.

Why are countries trying to prevent the rallies?

Many of the countries, including Germany, have cited security concerns as the official reason.

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said Mr Erdogan was not welcome to hold rallies as this could increase friction and hinder integration.

A rally did go ahead in Metz in France on Sunday (AFP)

Many European nations have also expressed deep disquiet about Turkey’s response to the July coup attempt and the country’s perceived slide towards authoritarianism under President Erdogan.

Germany in particular has been critical of the mass arrests and purges that followed – with nearly 100,000 civil servants removed from their posts.

***

Also see:

Germany’s Migrant Rape Crisis: January 2017

Gatestone Institute, by Soeren Kern, February 13, 2017:

  • “Whoever behaves in his host country as the reports suggest has not only lost any claim to our hospitality but also their right to asylum!” — Mayoral candidate Volker Stein, Frankfurt.
  • The actual number of migrant-related sex crimes in Germany is at least two or three times higher than the official number. Only 10% of the sex crimes committed in Germany appear in the official statistics. — André Schulz, head of the Criminal Police Association.
  • An even more toxic practice is for police deliberately to omit any references to migrants in crime reports. This lapse makes it impossible for German citizens to understand the true scale of the migrant crime problem.
  • City police asked German media to delete any images of the suspect. A note for editors stated: “The legal basis for publishing the surveillance photos has been dispensed with. We strongly urge you to take this into account in future reporting and to remove and/or make changes to existing publications.”
  • “As a refugee, it is difficult to find a girlfriend.” — Asif M., a 26-year-old asylum seeker from Pakistan, in court on charges he raped one woman and attempted to rape five others.

German authorities are investigating reports that dozens of Arab men sexually assaulted female patrons at bars and restaurants in downtown Frankfurt on New Year’s Eve 2016.

The attacks, in which mobs of migrants harassed women in a “rape game” known as “taharrush gamea” (Arabic for “collective sexual harassment”), are said to have mirrored the mass sexual assaults of women in Cologne and other German cities on New Year’s Eve 2015.

Germans protesting the New Year’s Eve 2015 mass sexual assaults wave flags, alongside a banner saying “Rapefugees Not Welcome,” on January 9, 2016 in Cologne. (Image source: Getty Images)

A report published by Bild on February 5 alleged that some 900 migrants, many of whom were intoxicated, gathered at the central train station in Frankfurt on December 31, 2016. Police blocked their access to the Mainufer, a downtown pedestrian area along the Main River and the site of a large New Year’s celebration, so the migrants walked to the Fressgasse, another downtown pedestrian zone known for its restaurants and bars.

Witnesses said that groups of up to 50 migrants of “Arab or North African” appearance entered several establishments and began sexually assaulting female patrons. They also stole handbags and jackets, threw bottles and firecrackers, and, for good measure, finished their victims’ drinks.

Frankfurt Police insist they did not know about the incidents until Bild, the newspaper with the largest circulation in Germany, reported on them. It remains unclear why the victims waited more than a month before coming forward with their complaints. A police spokesperson said the claims are “worrying” and “cannot be excluded.”

Some say the incidents in Frankfurt harken back to those in Cologne, where police covered up the sexual assaults for several days, apparently to avoid fueling anti-immigration sentiments, until local media reported on them. Others question why no cellphone videos or photographs surfaced on social media to corroborate the claims.

Previously, the police in Frankfurt reported only one assault on New Year’s Eve: a 30-year-old migrant from Afghanistan attacked a 25-year-old woman at the Mainufer.

Frankfurt’s Mayor, Peter Feldmann, said: “There is zero tolerance for any abuses. I have great confidence in our police. They should always be contacted immediately. Only then can they do their work.”

Christoph Schmitt, security spokesman for the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said: “It is unacceptable that women have been treated this way. If mobs of male refugees are making the city unsafe, then we need more police on the streets and more video surveillance.”

Mayoral candidate Volker Stein said: “While we had high contingent of police at the Main River, the rest of the city was left to the rampaging hooligans. Whoever behaves in his host country as the reports suggest has not only lost any claim to our hospitality, but also their right to asylum!”

Other German cities also reported sexual assaults on New Year’s Eve 2016, despite an increased police presence and crowds that were far smaller than on New Year’s Eve 2015.

  • In Berlin, at least 22 women were sexually assaulted during New Year’s Eve celebrations at the Brandenburg Gate, despite the presence of 1,700 police officers. Police initially reported six assaults, but raised that number after an inquiry from the Berlin-based Tagesspiegel.
  • In Hamburg, at least 14 women were sexually assaulted on New Year’s Eve, despite the presence of more than 500 police officers, and crowds that were said to be half the size of those in 2015.
  • In Cologne, some 2,000 male migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East gathered at the central train station and the square in front of the iconic Cologne Cathedral, where the mass sexual assaults occurred in 2015. A heavy police presence appears to have served as a deterrent. Police reported three sexual assaults.
  • In Dortmund, Essen and Hanover, thousands of mostly North African migrants clashed with police. There were no reports of mass sexual assaults.

Police reports show that Germany’s migrant rape crisis continues unabated, although accurate statistics are notoriously non-existent, this in one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. German authorities have repeatedly been accused of underreporting the true scale of the migrant crime problem in the country.

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Trump Fires Up Europe’s Anti-Establishment Movement

Gatestone Institute, by Soeren Kern, January 22, 2017:

  • “The genie will not go back into the bottle again, whether you like it or not.” — Geert Wilders, MP and head of the Party for Freedom, the Netherlands.
  • A growing number of Europeans are rebelling against decades of government-imposed multiculturalism, politically correct speech codes and mass migration from the Muslim world.
  • Europe’s establishment parties, far from addressing the concerns of ordinary voters, have tried to silence dissent by branding naysayers as xenophobes, Islamophobes and neo-Nazis.
  • “In many respects, France and Germany are proving they do not understand the meaning of Brexit. They are reflexively, almost religiously, following exactly the path that has provoked the EU’s current existential crisis.” — Ambassador John R. Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
  • “There is a genuine feeling that Trump taking over the White House is part of a bigger, global movement. Our critics, looking at Trump’s candidacy and his speech yesterday, would call it the rise of populism. I would say it’s simply a return to nation state democracy and proper values…. This is a genuine political revolution.” — Nigel Farage, former head of Britain’s UKIP party, who led the effort for the United Kingdom to leave the EU.
  • “This disruption is fruitful. The taboos of the last few years are now fully on the agenda: illegal immigration, Islam, the nonsense of open borders, the dysfunctional EU, the free movement of people, jobs, law and order. Trump’s predecessors did not want to talk about it, but the majority of voters did. This is democracy.” — Roger Köppel, editor-in-chief of Die Weltwoche, Switzerland.

Inspired by the inauguration of U.S. President Donald J. Trump, the leaders of Europe’s main anti-establishment parties have held a pan-European rally aimed at coordinating a political strategy to mobilize potentially millions of disillusioned voters in upcoming elections in Germany, the Netherlands and France.

Appearing together in public for the first time, Marine Le Pen, leader of the French National Front, Frauke Petry, leader of the Alternative for Germany (AfD), Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV), Matteo Salvini, leader of Italy’s Northern League and Harald Vilimsky of Austria’s Freedom Party gathered on January 21 at a rally in Koblenz, Germany, where they called on European voters to participate in a “patriotic spring” to topple the European Union, reassert national sovereignty and secure national borders.

The leaders of Europe’s main anti-establishment parties appearing together in public for the first time, on January 21 in Koblenz, Germany. (Image source: Marine Le Pen/Twitter)

The two-hour rally was held under the banner of the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF), a group established in June 2015 by Members of the European Parliament from nine counties to oppose European federalism and the transfer of political power from voters to unelected bureaucrats in Brussels, the de facto capital of the European Union.

Referring to the June 2016 decision by British voters to leave the European Union, and the rise of President Donald Trump in the United States, Le Pen said:

“We are living through the end of one world, and the birth of another. We are experiencing the return of nation-states. 2016 was the year the Anglo-Saxon world woke up. 2017, I am sure, will be the year in which the peoples of the European continent rise up.”

Wilders added:

“The world is changing. America is changing. Europe is changing. It started last year with Brexit, yesterday there was Trump and today the freedom-loving parties gathered in Koblenz are making a stand. The genie will not go back into the bottle again, whether you like it or not. The people of the West are awakening. They are throwing off the yoke of political correctness.”

Polls indicate that the political sea change engulfing the United States is fueling support for anti-establishment parties in Europe. In addition to anger over eroding sovereignty, a growing number of Europeans are rebelling against decades of government-imposed multiculturalism, politically correct speech codes and mass migration from the Muslim world.

In France, a new Ipsos poll for Le Monde shows that Marine Le Pen is now poised to win the first round of the French presidential election set for April 23, 2017. Le Pen has between 25% and 26% support among likely voters, compared to 23% and 25% for François Fillon of the center-right Republicans party. In December 2016, Fillon held a three-point lead over Le Pen.

In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders is now leading polls ahead of the general election scheduled for March 15, 2017. The PVV has the support of between 29% and 33% of the electorate. By contrast, support for the ruling People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) has fallen to between 23% and 27%.

In Germany, the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party (AfD) has become the third-largest party the country, with support at around 15% percent. The AfD had gained representation in ten of Germany’s 16 state parliaments, and the party hopes to win seats in the Federal Parliament (Bundestag) for the first time in national elections set for September 24, 2017.

Europe’s establishment parties, far from addressing the concerns of ordinary voters, have tried to silence dissent by branding naysayers as xenophobes, Islamophobes and neo-Nazis.

In Germany, for example, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, in an underhanded effort to silence criticism of the government’s open door migration policy, called for German intelligence to begin monitoring the AfD.

The German Interior Ministry is now proposing to establish a “Defense Center against Disinformation” (Abwehrzentrum gegen Desinformation) to combat “fake news.” Critics have described the proposed center as a “censorship monster” aimed at silencing dissenting opinions.

Enter Trump. If sufficient numbers of European voters are inspired by the political transformation taking place in the United States, the balance of European political power may begin to shift in favor of the anti-establishment parties. European political and media elites will therefore surely view Trump as a threat to the Europe’s established political order.

In a January 16 interview with the Times of London and Germany’s Bild, Trump said he believed that Brexit is “going to end up being a great thing.” He added that German Chancellor Angela Merkel made an “utterly catastrophic mistake by letting all these illegals into the country.”

In the same interview, Trump said that the NATO alliance “is very important to me” but he called it “obsolete” for failing to contain the threat posed to the West by Islamic terrorism. He also complained that some countries “don’t pay what they should pay.” Of the 28 countries in the alliance, only five — Britain, Estonia, Greece, Poland and the United States — meet the target of spending at least 2% of their GDP on defense.

European commentators roundly criticized Trump for his comments and some accused the United States of being an “unreliable partner.” European leaders repeated calls for a pan-European Army, a long-held goal of European federalists, which would entail an unprecedented transfer of sovereignty from European nation states to the European Union.

Gatestone Institute Chairman Ambassador John R. Bolton, has provided much-needed context to the debate over NATO. In a recent article for the Boston Globe, he wrote:

“NATO has taken intense criticism this year from Donald Trump, evoking howls of outrage from foreign-policy establishment worthies. The worthies know, however, that Trump is simply using his bullhorn to say what they themselves say more quietly: NATO’s decision-making is often sclerotic; its mission has not been adequately redefined after the Cold War; and too many members haven’t carried their weight financially or militarily for long years…. Trump has emphasized that his complaints are intended to encourage debate about improving and strengthening NATO, not sundering it. The debate is well worth having.”

Bolton added:

“In many respects, France and Germany are proving they do not understand the meaning of Brexit. They are reflexively, almost religiously, following exactly the path that has provoked the EU’s current existential crisis: every failure of closer integration by the ‘European project’ leads only to calls for more integration. Whether it is establishing a currency without a government; pledging military capabilities that collectively the EU never achieves; or pretending to an EU role in world affairs that no one outside of Brussels takes seriously, ‘more Europe’ is always the answer.”

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