Turkey’s New Territorial Claims Threaten NATO

turkey-islamic-2Will Russia help give a new birth to a resurgent Ottoman Empire? It’s a tricky bit of diplomacy, but their recent successes suggest they could do so — and thereby destroy the major international alliance controlling Russian aggression.

CounterJihad, October 13, 2016:

A significant claim is being pushed by the Turkish government, one that could redraw the lines of the old Ottoman Empire:

Тhe spat erupted after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took the country and the region by surprise last month by calling into question the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which defined modern Turkey’s borders.  He declared Turkey had been blackmailed by foreign powers into giving up vast swaths of territory that were once part of the Ottoman Empire….

[A]ccording to visiting Carnegie Europe scholar Sinan Ulgen[:]  “The message should be seen more of a signal in relation to Turkish polices towards the south, Syria and Iraq. I read it as a backdrop to a policy that tries to build domestic support for a more long-term presence, particularly in Syria, by pointing out, at allegedly past historical mistakes,” Ulgen said.

Turkish forces are currently in Syria and Iraq. But the Turkish presence at the Bashiqa base, close to the Iraqi city of Mosul, has become the center of a deepening dispute with Baghdad. The base is ostensibly tor training Sunni militia to fight Islamic State.

On Tuesday, Erdogan dismissed Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s calls to withdraw Turkish troops, telling him “he should know his place.”

Ulgen went on to point out that Turkey has historical claims not only to Mosul, currently contested in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).   Both Mosul and oil-rich Kirkuk were part of the original design of the modern-day Turkey.  The Turks’ traditionalists and nationalists view the treaty that gave them away as having been forced on them at the end of World War I.

If Russian diplomacy can broker a deal that allows Turkey to expand into Iraq and Syria, it could cement Turkey’s move into Russia’s sphere.  Until recently, that looked unlikely at best.  Last year, Turkmen fighters shot down a Russian jet over repeated incursions by the Russian air force.  At that time, relations between the two nations became quite tense.  Russia is backing Iran’s play in the region, apparently in the hope that a powerful Shi’a Iran will create a buffer zone between Russia and the Sunni jihadist forces that have acted to inflame Muslim minorities in Central Asia.  Likewise, the war in the Middle East draws attention away from Russia’s strategic moves in Eastern Europe, such as last week’s deployment of nuclear missileson the very borders of Poland and the Baltic States.

Turkey’s latest move appears likely to inflame Iraq’s government, and Russia’s ally Iran intends to control Iraq at the end of this conflict.  Surrendering territory, especially oil-rich territory, may be a difficult negotiation.  On the other hand, Kirkuk is also disputed with the Kurds, and whichever government formally holds it after the war is going to have to fight to keep it.  Iran may be willing to be persuaded to concede the fight to Turkey in return for a more firmly-controlled corridor between Tehran and the Levant.

That will require some subtle diplomacy to negotiate, but right now Russia is having significant success in its diplomatic moves.  In the wake of a new energy deal between Turkey and Russia, the Russian diplomatic corps seems to have a lot of momentum on its side.  Turkey was already looking away from NATO and Europe in the wake of its Islamist purge following an alleged attempted coup.  Should Russia be able to get a process of negotiation going between Turkey, Iraq and Iran on the issue of Turkish territorial expansion, Russia would assume the leadership role in the region.  Should it actually resolve the negotiations successfully, it could expect Turkey to become part of the Russian sphere of influence.  That would potentially derail NATO, as NATO’s decisions must be taken by a unanimous vote.  If Turkey becomes as strong a Russian ally as China, NATO could become as useless an organ for opposing Russian ambition as the United Nations Security Council (on which Russia has a veto).

American diplomacy is meanwhile spinning its wheels.  The United States broke off talks with Russia, and then called for war crimes investigations into Russia and Assad for their campaign in Syria.  American Secretary of State John F. Kerry also accused Russia of interfering with America’s elections.  However, it appears that Kerry now wants a new push for a cease-fire in Aleppo, which would require Syria and Russia to sign on.

American diplomatic weakness is partially a function of American military weakness in the region.  Russian diplomatic success is partially likewise a function of its deployment of air and naval-gunnery forces, as well as its so-far successful alliance with Iran.  Better American leadership might help, but for now, the situation is rapidly sliding away from America and towards the Russians.

Turkish President Erdogan Meets With Muslim Brotherhood In The US

By on October 4, 2016

A Turkish media source has reported that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently met in New York with a group of what were described as “representatives of the Muslim community in the US.” According to the report:


President Erdogan was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu, Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdag, Minister of Family and Social Policies Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Berat Albayrak, Turkey’s Ambassador to Washington, DC Serdar Kilic, Deputy Chairman of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Yasin Aktay, AK Party Istanbul Deputy Ravza Kavakci, Deputy Secretary General and Spokesperson of the Presidency Ibrahim Kalin.

Reported attending the meeting were 27 individuals of which 19 are known to be tied to US Muslim Brotherhood or Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood or which have significant associations with the Brotherhood:

The GMBDW reported in June that the Turkish state-run news agency had announced its “Anadolu World Report News Package” at the 2016 annual convention of two US Muslim Brotherhood organizations. As we noted at that time, the choice of venue for the announcement is unsurprising as we have frequently reported on the close ties of Erdogan and the Turkish government to the Global Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. This reporting largely began with a report by the GMBDW Editor, centered on the June 2010 Gaza flotilla but which also provided the following background on Erdogan:

The Turkish political establishment has had ties with the Global Muslim Brotherhood since at least the 1970s when Prime Minister Erdogan was reported to have been associated with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), a fundamentalist Saudi religious organization that has been accused of promoting extremism and supporting terrorism all over the world. Erdogan has since maintained his ties to the Global Brotherhood as evidenced by his close relationships to Global Muslim Brotherhood leaders such as former Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Akef, Malaysian opposition politician Anwar Ibrahim, and Yassin Abdullah Qadi, a Saudi businessman blacklisted by the United Nations for funding terrorism and who had links with the US Muslim Brotherhood. A Muslim Brotherhood spokesman has also said that the Brotherhood has maintained ties with the “Islamic movement” in Turkey since the days of Necmettin Erbakan’s early political parties, and the European Muslim Brotherhood has fused with Erbakan’s movement in Europe known as Millî Görüs. German Muslim Brotherhood leader Ibrahim El-Zayat is married to a member of the Erbakan family, and El-Zayat’s business partner is the Secretary-General of Millî Görüs in Germany. El-Zayat, formerly the head of WAMY in Western Europe, also runs Millis Gorus’ extensive portfolio of mosque properties throughout Europe as well as serving as a leader in the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), the umbrella group representing the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe.

(Note: based on confidential sources)

CAIR, Awad Continue Aggressively Shilling for Turkey

cair-meets-with-turkey-parliamentariansIPT NewsSeptember 9, 2016:

A delegation from Turkey’s parliament came to Washington this week to make the case for extraditing Fethullah Gülen, an opposition figure living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.

The Turkish government allegesGülen was behind July’s failed coup attempt and President Tayyip Recep Erdoğan describes his extradition as a “priority.” Gülen denies any role in the coup and U.S. officials have said the Turkish evidence presented so far is not persuasive.

According to a Turkish press account, the delegation’s second meeting was with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and its executive director, Nihad Awad.

CAIR is a tax-exempt charity which presents itself as an American Civil Liberties Union devoted to protecting American Muslims from discrimination in housing, employment and other civil rights.

The visit from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) delegation, however, shows CAIR’s significant emphasis on influencing American foreign policy. CAIR is not a registered lobbying organization and isn’t registered as a foreign agent. Federal lawrequires registration by people or groups “before performing any activities for the foreign principal.”

CAIR routinely inserts itself into political debates on behalf of foreign entities, including a full campaign aimed at criticizing Israel during the 2009 and 2014 Gaza wars while staying silent about Hamas. Its Detroit director told a rally that being “defenders of the Palestinian struggle” was part of CAIR’s mission.

Awad was interviewed by Turkey’s Andolu news agency after this week’s meeting, which he called important in expressing “the support of the Muslim community for democracy and the rule of law in Turkey,” an IPT translation of his remarks shows.

“We believe in the need for more Turkish visitors and delegations to come to the United States to talk about their experiences and explain their views,” Awad said, “because there is a view against them and a pathological fear of Turkey here. The Turkish government must be aware of the need to employ more efforts to explain what is happening (in) Turkey to American public opinion.”

There’s something pathological at play here, but it isn’t some imaginary fear of Turkey. This is CAIR, an Islamist group created as part of a Muslim Brotherhood network in America, officially rushing to the aid of Turkey’s Islamist and increasingly authoritariangovernment, a government that itself has been increasingly aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

In his comments, Awad publicly acknowledges what he advised an official Turkish government delegation in private to get the desired political outcome.

We previously reported on the immediate support American-Islamists organized for Erdoğan’s AKP immediately after the failed coup. While Erdoğan’s dedicated followers inside CAIR may be comfortable with his crackdown on dissent, a recent New York Times editorial hints many U.S. policy leaders are not.

They believe “that Mr. Erdogan’s roundup of coup plotters looks like an attempt to silence any opposition, that Turkey has behaved outrageously in failing to stop conspiracy theories depicting the United States as a co-conspirator in the coup attempt, that Turkey has produced little evidence to warrant Mr. Gulen’s extradition and that Mr. Erdogan’s autocratic behavior is making him an unreliable ally.”

He has proven unreliable in the fight against ISIS, too. He failed to stop the flow of foreign fighters using Turkey as a way-station to join ISIS and places his fight against pro-Western Kurds above the global threat posed by ISIS.

Erdoğan’s post-coup attempt arrest record, along with a media crackdown and allegations of torture, speak for themselves, if that’s what Awad thinks is part of the “pathological fear of Turkey.”

What it has to do with CAIR’s charitable mission is much murkier.

State Dept. Confirms PJ Media Reporting on American Journalist Arrested in Turkey



On August 8, I reported here at PJ Media on American journalist Lindsey Snell, who had reportedly escaped from Jabhat al-Nusra/Jabhat Fateh al-Sham custody in Syria only to be arrested when she arrived back in Turkey earlier this month. No other American media outlet reported on this story — until now.

Snell’s biography notes she has worked for MSNBC, VICE News, ABC News, the Discovery Channel, and Amnesty International, among others.

State Department spokesman John Kirby confirmed her arrest during his daily briefing today, stating that she is being held on charges of “violating a military zone”:

QUESTION: Do you have any information about a U.S. citizen who was arrested in Turkey?MR KIRBY: Who was arrested in Turkey? Yes. I can confirm that U.S. citizen Lindsey Snell was detained in Turkey on the 7th of August, 2016. She is currently being held in a prison facility in Hatay Province. I believe that’s how you say it. Consular officers from the consulate in Adana visited Ms. Snell most recently on the 26th of this month and are providing all possible consular assistance. The embassy and the department are following this case closely. State Department officials have been in contact with Turkish Government officials regarding this case.

QUESTION: Can you spell her name?

MR KIRBY: Lindsey. L-i-n-d-s-e-y. Snell. S-n-e-l-l.

Did you have more?

QUESTION: Yeah. Is – was the arrest at all related to her profession as a journalist or in any case – any way associated with that?

MR KIRBY: What I – what we understand is that she has been charged with violating a military zone, but I can’t speak to her reasons for being in Syria, for traveling there. I can’t speak to that. What I can tell you is that we’ve been informed she was charged with violating a military zone.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) that she entered a military zone that she wasn’t supposed to, or —

MR KIRBY: That would be my interpretation of that, Arshad. But that’s a better question for Turkish authorities since they’re the ones that issued the charges.

QUESTION: Did you say she was arrested in Syria and is held in Turkey? I’m sorry, I just didn’t hear the details exactly.

MR KIRBY: She was —

QUESTION: I thought you said she was —

MR KIRBY: She’s been – she was arrested – detained in Turkey —


MR KIRBY: — and has been charged with violating a military zone.

QUESTION: I thought the word “Syria” came out of your mouth, and I just wanted to make sure that there wasn’t —

MR KIRBY: Yes. Yes, I did. As I understand it, she journeyed to Turkey from Syria, and I – what my answer was, I couldn’t speak for why she was in Syria in the first place. The question was was she doing the business of journalism, and I don’t know.

QUESTION: Thank you.

As I noted, PJ Media was the only U.S. media outlet to report on her detention by Turkish authorities.


This strange situation comes at a low ebb in U.S. relations with its NATO ally. Undoubtedly Snell’s detention, along with that of a NASA employee also detained in Turkey earlier this month, will come up when President Obama meets with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during the Group of 20 meetings in China this week.

PJ Media will continue to report on this situation as developments unfold.

Read more

All-out Turkish-Kurd war. Barazani goes to Tehran

5DEBKAfile, Aug. 29, 2016:

An all-out Turkish-Kurdish war has boiled over in northern Syria since the Turkish army crossed the border last Wednesday, Aug. 24 for the avowed aim of fighting the Islamic State and pushing the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia back. Instead of falling back, the Kurds went on the offensive and are taking a hammering. This raging confrontation has stalled the US-led coalition offensive against ISIS and put on indefinite hold any US plans for campaigns to drive the jihadists out of their Syrian and Iraqi capitals of Raqqa and Mosul.
The Kurdish militia ground troops, who were backed by the US and assigned the star role in these campaigns, are now fully engaged in fighting Turkey. And, in another radical turnaround, Iraqi Kurdish leaders (of the Kurdish Regional Republic) have responded by welcoming Iran to their capital, in retaliation for the US decision to join forces with Turkey at the expense of Kurdish aspirations.
The KRG’s Peshmerga are moreover pitching in to fight with their Syrian brothers. Together, they plan to expel American presence and influence from both northern Syria and northern Iraq in response to what they perceive as a US sellout of the Kurds.

DEBKAfile’s military analysts trace the evolving steps of this escalating complication of the Syrian war and its wider impact:

  • Since cleansing Jarablus of ISIS, Turkey has thrown large, additional armored and air force into the battle against the 35.000-strong YPG Kurdish fighters. This is no longer just a sizeable military raid, as Ankara has claimed, but a full-fledged war operation. Turkish forces are continuing to advancing in three directions and by Sunday, Aug. 28 had struck 15-17km deep inside northern Syria across a 100km wide strip.
    Their targets are clearly defined: the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northwest Syria and the Kurdish enclave of Qamishli and Hassaka in the east, in order to block the merger of Kurdish enclaves into a contiguous Syrian Kurdish state.
    Another goal was Al-Bab north of and within range of Aleppo for a role in a major theater of the Syrian conflict. To reach Al-Bab, the Turkish force would have to fight its way through Kurdish-controlled territory.
  • The Turks are also using a proxy to fight the Syrian Kurds. Thousands of Syrian Democratic Army (SDF) rebels, whom they trained and supplied to fight Syria’s Bashar Assad army and the Islamic State, have been diverted to targeting the Kurds under the command of Turkish officers, to which Turkish elite forces are attached.
  • A Turkish Engineering Corps combat unit is equipped for crossing the Euphrates River and heading east to push the Kurds further back. Contrary to reports, the Turkish have not yet crossed the river itself or pushed the Kurds back – only forded a small stream just east of Jarablus. The main Kurdish force is deployed to the south not the east of the former ISIS stronghold.
  • Neither have Turkish-backed Syrian forces captured Manbij, the town 35km south of Jarablus which the Kurds with US support captured from ISIS earlier this month. Contrary to claims by Ankara’s spokesmen, those forces are still only 10-15km on the road to Mabij.
  • Sunday, heavy fighting raged around a cluster of Kurdish villages, Beir Khoussa and Amarneh, where the Turks were forced repeatedly to retreat under Kurdish counter attacks. Some of the villages were razed to the ground by the Turkish air force and tanks. At least 35 villagers were reported killed.
  • In four days of fierce battles, the Kurds suffered 150 dead and the Turkish side, 60.
  • DEBKAfile military sources also report preparations Sunday to evacuate US Special Operations Forces and helicopter units from the Rmeilan air base near the Syrian-Kurdish town of Hassaka. If the fighting around the base intensifies, they will be relocated in northern Iraq.
  • Fighters of the Iraqi-Kurdish Peshmerga were seen removing their uniforms and donning Syrian YPG gear before crossing the border Sunday and heading west to join their Syrian brothers in the battle against Turkey.
  • The KRG President Masoud Barazani expects to travel to Tehran in the next few days with an SOS for Iranian help against the US and the Turks. On the table for a deal is permission from Irbil for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to win their first military bases in the Iraqi Kurdish republic, as well as transit for Iranian military forces to reach Syria through Kurdish territory..




Also see:

Joe Biden Humiliated In Turkish “Appeasement” As Erdogan Bombs US Allies In Syria

erdogan biden_0Zero Hedge, by Tyler Durden, Aug 27, 2016:

The last time U.S. Vice President Joe Biden flew to Turkey, in January, he had a stern message for President Erdogan: his model of Islamic democracy was setting a bad example by intimidating media and threatening academics. However, his tone was markedly different when he arrived in Ankara on Wednesday, just weeks after a failed coup in Turkey that has strained relations between the two countries, and on the same day that Turkey launched a full-blown incursion into northern Syria “to halt ISIS.” With Turkey making very clear, and very open overtures toward Russia, Biden was in full blown diplomatic damage-limitation mode.

The dramatic shift in dplomatic posture by Biden comes as the U.S.-Turkish alliance has been dealt several blows in recent weeks, to the point where the US vice president’s arrival in Ankara shows just how concerned the US, which is counting on continued support from Turkey – NATO’s second-biggest military – has become.  American worries have been compounded by Erdogan restoring ties with Russia – the Turkish president’s first diplomatic meeting after the failed coup was with Putin in St. Petersburg, as a result of which Turkey has been discussing military cooperation with the Kremlin.

Meeting with Erdogan and Turkey’s prime minister in Ankara on Wednesday, Biden delivered a message of alliance and conciliation.   “Let me say it for one last time: The American people stand with you … Barack Obama was one of the first people you called. But I do apologize. I wish I could have been here earlier,” Biden said.

But he wasn’t.

And while Biden’s pathetic attempt at appeasement may have come and gone, reinforcing just how much the American people stand with a person whose pre-arranged purge of political opponents has resulted in over 100,000 Turkish citizens fired or arrested, Turkey’s diplomatic humiliation of the US continued, when far from attacking ISIS in Syria, the stated objective behind the invasion, Turkish forces and rebels supported by Erdogan continued their deadly attacks on Kurdish-backed forces in north Syria on Saturday. The same Kurdish-backed forces which are also backed by the US.

And it’s not as if Turkey is even hiding it: Turkey’s government, which is fighting a Kurdish insurgency at home, has said the Syrian campaign it opened this week is as much about targeting Islamic State as it is about preventing Kurdish forces filling the vacuum left when Islamists withdraw. Turkey wants to stop Kurdish forces gaining control of a continuous stretch of Syrian territory on its frontier, which Ankara fears could be used to support the Kurdish militant group PKK as it wages its three-decade insurgency on Turkish soil.

According to Reuters, Turkish security sources said two F-16 jets bombed a site controlled by the Kurdish YPG militia, which is part of the broader U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) coalition.

Meanwhile, the US-backed Kurds are fighting back,  and according to military sources, one Turkish soldier was killed and three others wounded when a tank was hit by a rocket that they said was fired from territory held by the Kurdish YPG. The sources said the army shelled the area in response.

At that point the chaos that is the Syrian conflict, with so many competing elements, many of whom supported by the US, was on full display.  Case in point: Syrian rebels opposed to Ankara’s incursion said Turkish forces had targeted forces allied to the YPG and no Kurdish forces were in the area. On the ground, Turkish-backed Syrian rebels fought forces aligned with the SDF near the frontier town of Jarablus. Forces opposed to Ankara said Turkish tanks were deployed, a charge denied by Turkey’s rebel allies.

As a result, the narrative is now split in two: one “confirming” the Turkish explanation, the other justifying the actions of the YPG, just in case the US decides to flip after all, and support its “lesser” allies:

the Jarablus Military Council, part of the SDF, had said earlier on Saturday that Turkish planes hit the village of al-Amarna south of Jarablus, causing civilian casualties. It called the action “a dangerous escalation”.

The Kurdish-led administration that controls parts of northern Syria said Turkish tanks advanced on al-Amarna and clashed with forces of the Jarablus Military Council. But the Kurdish administration said no Kurdish forces were involved.

However, the leader of one Turkey-backed rebel group gave a rival account. He told Reuters the rebels battled the Kurdish YPG around al-Amarna and denied any Turkish tanks took part.

Turkish security forces simply said Turkish-backed forces had extended their control to five villages beyond Jarablus.

In short, chaos and a full-blown media propaganda war; however, as Reuters notes, one thing is clear: any action against Kurdish forces in Syria puts Turkey further at odds with its NATO ally the United States,which backs the SDF and YPG, “seeing them as the most reliable and effective ally in the fight against Islamic State in Syria.”

However, just like Biden’s arrival in Ankara was a tacit admission that the US will fully ignore Erdogan’s unprecedented crackdown on human righs in post-coup Turkey as the president purges even the remotest political opponent, so the YPG, which has been “backed” by the US, is about to realize just how little such backing really means when the US has bigger fish to fry, in this case desperately trying to keep Turkey on its good side, and away from Putin’s circle of influence, all the while providing countless concessions to Turkey as the country continues to openly defy western norms and put away dissidents, while arresting members of the press, and education system, as Erdogan nationalizes private corporations alleged to have ties with the notorious “coup plotter” Fethulah Gullen.

In doing so, the Obama administration has once again revealed the true extent of its hypocricy, as it turns a blind eye toward the trampling of human rights in Turkey, while screaming bloody murder when something similar takes place in any other part of the world.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s humiliation of its “partner”, the US, will continue, and much to the amusement of Vladimir Putin, there is absolutely nothing Obama will do about it.

Also see:

Sea change: Turkey enters Syrian conflict – as an enemy of the U.S.’s closest partner

Turkish tanks assembled on the Syrian border in 2015. (Image: Screen grab of RT video, YouTube)

Turkish tanks assembled on the Syrian border in 2015. (Image: Screen grab of RT video, YouTube)

Liberty Unyielding, by J. E. Dyer, Aug. 24, 2016: (h/t/ Tundra Tabloids)

Turkey has done cross-border shelling for a long time now, and has used her air force to bomb Kurdish positions in Iraq and Syria.  There was even evidence in November 2015 that Turkey had troops deployed just across the Syrian border in northeastern Latakia Province.

But for the first time, on Tuesday, 23 August, Turkey has ordered an entire town on the Turkish border with Syria to evacuate, in preparation for an overt cross-border military operation, complete with an armored invasion force.  The objective is to take the Syrian town of Jarablus from Islamic State.

That may sound superficially like it serves America’s goals.  (Indeed, the operation is reportedly being supported by NATO air power.  That could get messy, if it continues.)

But Turkey has actually been content to have ISIS in control of Jarablus for many months now.  The timing and context of this latest move are the key: Turkey’s real objective is to prevent theKurds from wresting Jarablus from ISIS.

And the Turkish entry into the Syrian conflict looks to be part of a joint effort – with Russia, Assad, and Iran – to neutralize the Kurds, as part of the campaign to take all of Syrian territory back from the factions now holding it.

The Kurds have been the major U.S. partner in fighting ISIS in both Syria and northern Iraq.  Until the Iran-sponsored Shia militias in Iraq ejected ISIS from Tikrit, Ramadi, and Fallujah – under the military direction of Iran’s Qods Force commander, Qassem Soleimani – the Kurds were by far the most effective ground force against ISIS.

But Erdogan has been uneasy with the Kurds’ success in consolidating territory.  Now Turkey wants to roll them up in this sensitive border area.

There are reasons why Iran is satisfied to be part of that effort, at least for now.  And for Russia, dealing with or protecting the Kurds is always a calculation, not a cause.  Don’t look for Russia to be solidly on one side of this thing; the Russians will maneuver simply to be at the center of it, so everyone has to come to them for solutions.

Remember, Moscow isn’t trying to get out of Syria, or leave Syria in good hands.  The whole point for Putin’s Russia is to stay there.

U.S. position eroded beyond recovery

The U.S has been the Kurds’ main patron for a long time now.  I very much fear Obama is about to abandon them – because he’d get so much bad press if any Americans got hurt, in the Syrian war realignment that now looks inevitable.

Obama has no intention of strengthening our forces’ posture against that realignment.

More importantly, he has absolutely no policy for what to do other than watch that realignment happen.  From a policy standpoint, he’s an inert quantity, a leadership void, tethered to a bunch of SOF, intel assets, and strike-fighters still wandering through the battle space burning gas and bullets.

It’s only with extraordinary pain that I say this, but it would be better for America – because of who’s in the Oval Office – if we did simply pull out.  Our forces on scene are in an increasingly impossible situation.  They should not be left there, exposed and unsupported.  Moreover, there’s nothing they can achieve there.  It’s not worth their lives to try to hang on to a situation that’s slipping away, for no positive good.  The next president will just have to deal with whatever reality has become, five months from now.

But pulling out – even quietly – and abandoning all pretense of having a policy or a plan would signal a definitive end to the last vestige of U.S leadership in the Middle East.  It would be a severe blow to the Kurds, who don’t deserve to be treated that way.  It would be a signal of faithlessness that our other long-time partners and allies could not ignore.

It’s difficult to preview comprehensively everything that might be unleashed; it could be very, very bad, or there could be random factors that keep it from getting too bad between now and next January.

Read more

Also see:

The Turkey-Russia-Iran Axis


Dramatic developments alter the strategic balance in the Middle East.

Front Page Magazine, by Kenneth R. Timmerman, Aug. 22, 2016:

A techtonic shift has occurred in the balance of power in the Middle East since the failed Turkish coup of mid-July, and virtually no one in Washington is paying attention to it.

Turkey and Iran are simultaneously moving toward Russia, while Russia is expanding its global military and strategic reach, all to the detriment of the United States and our allies. This will have a major impact across the region, potentially leaving U.S. ally Israel isolated to face a massive hostile alliance armed with nuclear weapons.

Believers in Bible prophecy see this new alignment as a step closer to the alliance mentioned in Ezekiel 37-38, which Israel ultimately defeated on the plains of Megiddo.

Today’s Israel, however, is doing its best to soften the blow by patching up relations with Turkey and through cooperation with Russia.

Here are some of the moves and countermoves that have been taking place in recent weeks on a giant three-dimensional chessboard with multiple players and opponents.

Russia-Turkey: It now appears that Russian intelligence tipped off Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan just hours before the planned coup against his regime. When the coup plotters got wind of the Russian communications with Erdogan loyalists at the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), they moved up the coup from the dead of night to 9 PM, when the streets were packed.

For Erdogan, the Russian warning came just in the nick of time, allowing him to flee his hotel in Marmaris minutes before twenty-five special forces troops loyal to the coup-plotters roped down from the roof of his hotel to seize him.

With streets in Istanbul full of people, Erdogan’s text and video messages calling on supporters to oppose the coup had maximum impact.

After purging the military and government of suspected enemies, Erdogan’s first foreign trip was to Russia, where on August 8 he thanked Putin for his help. “The Moscow-Ankara friendship axis will be restored,” he proclaimed.

Two days later, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu blasted NATO for its “evasive fashion” of responding to Turkish requests for military technology transfers, and opened the door to joint military production with Russia.

Cavosoglu accused NATO of considering Turkey and Russia “to be second class countries,” and pointed out that Turkey was the only NATO country that was refusing to impose sanctions on Russia for its annexation of the Crimea and invasion of Ukraine.

Russia has also been in talks with Turkey to base Russian warplanes at the NATO air base in Incirlik, Turkey, where some 2400 U.S. personnel have been quarantined since the failed July 15 coup attempt as Turkey continues to demand that the U.S. extradite alleged coup-plotter Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania.

These talks have alarmed the Pentagon, which on Thursday reportedly ordered the emergency evacuation to Romania of the estimated 50-70 nuclear B-61 “dial-a-yield” gravity bombs stockpiled at the base.

If confirmed, the nuclear withdrawal from Turkey constitutes a major strategic setback for the United States, with Russia poised to replace the United States as Turkey’s main military partner after 60 years of NATO cooperation.

Russia-Iran: The warming of the Russia-Turkey relationship comes as Russia simultaneously is making advances in Iran.

The two countries have a long and often troubled history. The 1921 Soviet-Iranian treaty, which ended long-standing tsarist concessions in Iran, also included a mutual defense pact. Triggered briefly during World War II, the Soviets seized the opportunity to foment a Communist coup in Iranian Azerbaijan in 1948 and only withdrew after President Truman threatened to use nuclear weapons.

Successive Iranian regimes remained suspicious of Soviet intentions for the rest of the Cold War.

In recent years, Iran and Russia have joined together to evade international sanctions, with Russian banks clearing payments for Iranian oil purchases and serving as a conduit for Iranian government purchases abroad.

Last week, the specter of the 1921 defense treaty suddenly came alive when the Russia and Iran announced they had signed a new military agreement to allow Russian jets to use the Nojeh airbase in western Iran for attacks on Syrian rebels.

This is the first time that the Islamic regime in Iran has allowed a foreign power to use Iranian territory as a base for offensive military operations against another country in the region, and the move lead to tensions in the Iranian parliament.

For Russia, the move dramatically reduced flight times for the Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers it had been flying against ISIS targets in Syria from Mozdok airbase in Ossetia, 2000 km away. Iran’s Nojeh air base, outside Hamadan, is less than 900 km from the war zone.

The shorter flight times also meant shorter warning for the Syrian rebels. Russian media reports have alleged that the United States has been providing “satellite surveillance data” to the Syrian rebels of the Russian bombing runs, allowing them to disperse “suspiciously too often” before the heavy bombers arrived on target from Mozdok.

The shorter distance cuts the flight time – and thus the warning time – by 60%, according to former Pentagon official Stephen D. Bryen. “The flight from Iran is between 30 to 45 minutes tops. If, therefore, the US is warning the rebels of impending Russian air strikes, the time to get the message to them and to actually be able to move their forces out of harms way, is far less and maybe too short for finding effective cover,” Bryen wrote in a recent blogpost.

Conclusion: Russia is on the verge of realizing a multi-generational dream of reaching the “warm waters” of the Persian Gulf through Iran.

Iran-Iraq: Adding to these dramatic developments was the announcement last week by a U.S. military spokesman, Colonel Chris Garver, that Iran now controls a military force of 100,000 armed fighters in neighboring Iraq. While the United States has allowed this Iranian expansion under the pretext Iran was helping in the fight against ISIS, clearly Iran can use this massive organized force to exercise its control over Iraq as well.

While none of these events was directly caused by the United States, clearly the lack of U.S. leadership emboldened our enemies, whose leaders have a much clearer strategic vision than ours of where they want the region to go.

Meanwhile, the Russian government continues to pursue the massive ten-year, $650 billion military modernization program that Putin announced in December 2010, despite reduced oil revenues. Those plans include eight new nuclear submarines, 600 new fighter jets, 1000 helicopters, as well as new tanks and other ground equipment.

Most of the new equipment is based on new designs incorporating advanced technologies, not existing weapons systems.

Just this week, U.S. intelligence officials reported ongoing construction of “dozens’ of underground nuclear command bunkers in Moscow and around the country apparently for use in the event of a nuclear wear. General Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. European Command, called Russia’s evolving doctrine on the first use of nuclear weapons “alarming.”

All of this does not mean that the United States and Russia are headed toward a direct confrontation. The more likely consequence, given the sweeping Russian powerplay with Turkey and Iran, is that the United States will simply abandon the region to Putin’s Russia and his Turkish and Iranian allies.

The consequence of that abandon will undoubtedly motivate Saudi Arabia to develop nuclear weapons as a counterweight to Iran.

Nero fiddled as Rome burned. Obama plays golf. Both leaders will leave ashes in their wake.

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Turkey vows to cleanse Islamic State from its border after wedding attack kills 54

AFP, Getty Images

AFP, Getty Images

Reuters, by Orhan Coskun and Daren ButlerAug. 22, 2016:

Turkey vowed on Monday to “completely cleanse” Islamic State militants from its border region, after a suspected suicide bomber with links to the group killed 54 people, including 22 children, at a Kurdish wedding.

Saturday’s attack in the southeastern city of Gaziantep is the deadliest in Turkey this year. It was carried out by a suicide bomber aged between 12 and 14, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday, adding that initial evidence pointed to Islamic State.

A senior security official told Reuters the device used was the same type as those employed in the July 2015 suicide attack in the border town of Suruc and the October 2015 suicide bombing of a rally of pro-Kurdish activists in Ankara.

Both of those attacks were blamed on Islamic State. The group has targeted Kurdish gatherings in an apparent effort to further inflame ethnic tensions strained by a long Kurdish insurgency. The Ankara bombing was the deadliest of its kind in Turkey, killing more than 100 people.

“Daesh should be completely cleansed from our borders and we are ready to do what it takes for that,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a news conference in Ankara, using an Arabic name for the group.

A senior rebel official said Turkish-backed Syrian rebels were preparing to launch an attack to seize the Syrian town of Jarablus from Islamic State on the border with Turkey, a move that would deny control to advancing Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Turkish authorities have said a destroyed suicide vest was found at the scene of the bombing.

A second security official told Reuters that they were investigating the possibility militants could have placed the explosives on the child without his or her knowledge and detonated them remotely, or that a mentally disabled child was duped into carrying the device, a tactic seen elsewhere in the region.

“It could be that someone was loaded with explosives without even being aware of it and it may have been detonated remotely,” the official said, adding a search was underway for suspected militants who may have played a reconnaissance role.

In the latest southeast violence, two Turkish security force members and five PKK militants were killed in clashes and attacks in three areas of eastern Turkey over the last 24 hours, officials said.

Some in Turkey, particularly in the Kurdish southeast, feel the government has not done enough to protect its citizens from Islamic State.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said the wedding party was for one of its members. The groom was among those injured, but the bride was not hurt.


Jeanine Pirro interviews Brooke Goldstein on the inhumanity of using child suicide bombers:



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US nukes at Turkey base at risk of seizure: report

US Air Force tanker planes sit on the tarmac of Incirlik Airbase in southern Turkey (AFP Photo/Tarik Tinazay)

US Air Force tanker planes sit on the tarmac of Incirlik Airbase in southern Turkey (AFP Photo/Tarik Tinazay)

Yahoo News, by Thomas Watkins, Aug. 15, 2016:

Washington (AFP) – Dozens of US nuclear weapons stored at a Turkish air base near Syria are at risk of being captured by “terrorists or other hostile forces,” a Washington think tank claimed Monday.

Critics have long been alarmed by America’s estimated stockpile of about 50 nuclear bombs at Incirlik in southern Turkey, just 70 miles (110 kilometers) from the border with war-torn Syria.

The issue took on fresh urgency last month following the attempted coup in Turkey, in which the base’s Turkish commander was arrested on suspicion of complicity in the plot.

“Whether the US could have maintained control of the weapons in the event of a protracted civil conflict in Turkey is an unanswerable question,” said Monday’s report from the Stimson Center, a nonpartisan think tank working to promote peace.

Incirlik is a vital base for the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, with the strategically located facility affording drones and warplanes fast access to IS targets.

But the Pentagon in March ordered families of US troops and civilian personnel stationed in southern Turkey to quit the region due to security fears.

“From a security point of view, it’s a roll of the dice to continue to have approximately 50 of America’s nuclear weapons stationed at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey,” report co-author Laicie Heeley said.

“There are significant safeguards in place. … But safeguards are just that, they don’t eliminate risk. In the event of a coup, we can’t say for certain that we would have been able to maintain control,” she told AFP.

– ‘Avoided disaster so far’ –

While the Pentagon does not discuss where it stores nuclear assets, the bombs are believed to be kept at Incirlik as a deterrent to Russia and to demonstrate America’s commitment to NATO, the 28-member military alliance that includes Turkey.

The Incirlik nuke issue has been the subject of renewed debate in the United States since the coup attempt.

“While we’ve avoided disaster so far, we have ample evidence that the security of US nuclear weapons stored in Turkey can change literally overnight,” Steve Andreasen, director for defense policy and arms control on the White House National Security Council staff from 1993 to 2001, wrote in an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times last week.

Kori Schake, a fellow at the California-based Hoover Institution, noted in a written debate in the New York Times that “American nuclear forces cannot be used without codes, making the weapons impossible to set off without authorization.”

“The fact that nuclear weapons are stationed in Turkey does not make them vulnerable to capture and use, even if the country were to turn hostile to the United States,” she argued.

The Pentagon declined to comment on questions arising from the Stimson study.

“We do not discuss the location of strategic assets. The (Department of Defense) has taken appropriate steps to maintain the safety and security of our personnel, their families, and our facilities, and we will continue to do so,” it said in a statement.

The Incirlik concerns were highlighted as part of a broader paper into the Pentagon’s nuclear modernization program, through which the United States would spend hundreds of billions of dollars to update its atomic arsenal.

The authors argue that a particular type of bomb — the B61 gravity bomb — should be immediately removed from Europe, where 180 of the weapons are kept in Belgium, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Turkey.

Turkey’s Hunt for Alleged Coup Participants Extends Overseas

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressing a rally of supporters in Ankara on Wednesday. PHOTO: KAYHAN OZER/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressing a rally of supporters in Ankara on Wednesday. PHOTO: KAYHAN OZER/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES


ISTANBUL—Turkey’s government is seeking several overseas military officers and diplomatic staff who fled their posts in the wake of the failed coup and could be seeking asylum, potentially raising new political headaches for Turkey and its Western allies.

Two Turkish military attachés posted in Greece and their families boarded a ferry bound for Italy last week, but their current whereabouts aren’t known, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

They disappeared just before a request from Turkey on Sunday to have Athens revoke their diplomatic passports, according to a person familiar with the matter.

In addition, a Turkish military officer stationed at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s allied command in Norfolk, Va., Rear Adm. Mustafa Zeki Ugurlu, has rebuffed a request to return home and requested asylum in the U.S., according to a U.S. official familiar with the matter and Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency.

The U.S. official declined to comment further. NATO officials referred a request for comment to Turkey.

Meanwhile, Mr. Cavusoglu said that two Turkish civil servants in Bangladesh fled to New York, and another in Kazan, Russia, went to Japan after the coup attempt. Turkish authorities are in contact with their foreign counterparts to secure their return, he said.

“We will return these traitors to Turkey,” he said.

The State Department referred questions about the reported asylum requests to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration agency, which refused to comment, citing privacy rules.

Japanese officials in Washington referred questions to Tokyo.

Greek officials declined to comment on the two military attachés who had been posted in Greece. A spokeswoman for Italy’s Interior Ministry said Turkey has informed it of their possible presence in Italy and that the ministry was checking.

How Turkey’s allies deal with the missing diplomats could have significant impact on already tense relations with Ankara. Washington and European Union capitals are trying to balance support for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the wake of the July 15 coup attempt, in which 271 people were killed, and concern about the crackdown that followed against perceived enemies of the state.

The Turkish government imposed a state of emergency last month and launched a sweeping campaign against those it accuses of links to Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based Turkish imam who Turkey says directed the coup.

More than 18,000 people, including top military officers, have been arrested and thousands of others detained. Thousands of teachers have been suspended, university deans have been forced to resign, dozens of journalists have been arrested, and businesses with alleged links to Mr. Gulen have been shut down.

Mr. Gulen, whose organization is designated a terror group in Turkey and who is on Turkey’s most-wanted list, has repeatedly denied playing any role in the failed military takeover.

Western officials have urged the government to be judicious in its response, expressing concern about respect for the rule of law. That has inflamed tensions with Mr. Erdogan, who has accused some allies of aligning themselves with the coup-plotters.

He is demanding that the U.S. extradite Mr. Gulen, but U.S. officials have told The Wall Street Journal that they haven’t seen sufficient evidence for that judicial process to succeed.

As part of its hunt for alleged Gulen supporters, the Turkish government has ordered the return of some officials serving abroad. Mr. Cavusoglu said that on the night of the coup attempt, some Turkish military attachés abroad had notified ambassadors that the armed forces had taken over.

Turkey has received some help from other countries. Saudi Arabia detained the Turkish attaché from Kuwait as he was trying to leave, and the United Arab Emirates sent back from Dubai two brigadier generals who had been based in Afghanistan, the foreign minister said.

As for the two military attachés in Greece, Mr. Cavusoglu said that Greek officials spotted the men and their families boarding an Italy-bound ferry after reviewing CCTV footage at Turkey’s request.

One of the Turkish attachés has family in the Netherlands and might be heading there, he said.

Turkey also has asked Greece to return eight Turkish military personnel who flew a Turkish helicopter to Greece as the coup crumbled.

The eight are awaiting Greek court decisions on their asylum requests.

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Israel’s let-down: Putin-Erdogan hook-up with Iran


DEBKAfile Exclusive Report, August 9, 2016:

The talks between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Reccep Erdogen in St. Petersburg scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 9, are causing trepidation among Israel’s policy-makers and military leaders. Their summit takes place on the sidelines of the G-20 summit, concluding nine months of hostility between the two capitals that was sparked by Turkish jets shooting down a Russian SU-24 warplane over the Syrian border on Nov. 24, 2015.

The feud was put to rest on July 17 – two days after Erdogan suppressed the attempted military coup against his rule. The Turkish ruler decided there and then to exploit the episode to expand his strength and use it not only for a massive settling of accounts with his critics, but also as a springboard for parlaying his reconciliation with Moscow for a strategic pact with Russia.

In Israel, the worry is that while turning his back on the United States and NATO, Eerdogan will go all the way to bond with Russia to which Iran is also attached as a partner. Indeed, Erdogan has scheduled a trip to Tehran and a meeting with President Hassan Rouhani a few days after his talks with Putin.
The Turkish president’s latest moves look like spawning another new Middle East bloc that would consist of Turkey, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and indirectly the Lebanese Hizballah terrorist group.

This prospect would upend Israel’s key policies for Turkey and Syria.
The Israeli détente with Ankara in recent months hinged on Turkey’s continuing to maintain its close military and intelligence ties with the United States and its integration in an anti-Iran Sunni alliance in partnership with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

But the Putin-Erdogan meeting Tuesday threatens to throw American, Israeli and moderate Arab rulers’ plans to the four winds. Turkey appears to have opted to line up with a Russian-Shiite front led by Tehran in preference to an anti-Iran Sunni alliance.
Therefore, the expanded military and intelligence cooperation which the Israeli-Turkish rapprochement was to have heralded will be low key at best for two reasons:

1. Israel will beware of sharing its military technology with Turkey lest it find its way to Iran. During the talks with Ankara for patching up their quarrel Israel was constantly on the lookout for indications that Turkey was prepared to break off its ties with Iran.

2. For the sake of keeping Iran and Hizballah away from its borders, Israel entered into arrangements with Russia, some of them never published, at the start of Moscow’s military intervention in Syria last September. Those arrangements included coordination of their air force operations over Syria.

Now, Israel finds itself suddenly up against a Russian-Turkish partnership aimed at strengthening Iranian domination of Syria – the exact reverse of the Netanyahu government’s objective in resolving its dispute with Ankara and forging deals with Moscow.

Also see:

Erdogan-Gulen Power Struggle Divides European Turks

erdoganIPT News
August 8, 2016

On the night of July 15, members of the Turkish military stormed the state-run TRT news agency in Ankara and forced an anchorwoman to read a statement calling President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a “traitor.” Within moments, tanks began to drive menacingly through the streets of Ankara and Istanbul as military planes roared over Turkish skies. The Parliament was bombed. The fifth military coup in the history of modern Turkey had begun, taking even the most anti-government Turks by surprise.

But Erdogan regained complete control within hours, thanks to his fervent supporters who took to the streets in his defense. Throughout the night, pro- and anti-Erdogan military and civilians clashed across the country, leaving nearly 300 dead and 2,100 injured by morning.

The attempted coup and its aftermath, however, soon exploded into more than just a national crisis; it has had incendiary repercussions globally, particularly in the Turkish communities of Europe.

Erdogan declared a state of emergency July 16, and began cracking down on suspected members of the coup plot and their allies. By July 20, more than 45,000 people had been arrested, including 2,700 judges and 15,000 teachers. As Erdogan called for reinstating the death penalty, credible reports emerged of prisoners being tortured and raped.

In the meantime, tens of thousands of others have been fired from their jobs as the state takes over or shuts down nearly all the country’s media outlets – including three news agencies, 16 television channels, 45 newspapers and 15 magazines, Reuters reports. And on Monday, more than three weeks after the failed coup, Turkey recalled five senior diplomats from its embassy in The Hague.

All who have been sacked are accused of complicity in the coup, based on their (ostensible) ties to Fethullah Gulen, a powerful cleric now living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. Once one of Erdogan’s closest allies, Gulen has become his most despised enemy in recent years, thanks in large part to Gulen’s criticism of Erdogan during the 2013 Gezi Park demonstrations. Now Turkey’s president accuses Gulen of being behind the coup attempt, demands his extradition from the United States. Meantime, he continues his crackdown on the cleric’s followers.

But those followers are not just in Turkey, and neither are Tayyip Erdogan’s. Millions of European Turks – both immigrants and subsequent generations – ally themselves with the Gulenist movement, or Hizmet. While some call it a cult and claim it represents a zealous Islamic religious movement, others view it as a more moderate strain of Islam and praise Gulen for his interfaith initiatives, and for the hospitals, schools and universities he has founded internationally, including over 100 charter schools in the United States. But since the split between the two men, tensions have also emerged between pro-Gulen and pro-Erdogan groups that are far more virulent than the disputes between those who favor Hizmet and those who condemn it.

As a result, the clashes between the conflicting sides have spilled beyond the Turkish borders into Europe, and have now exploded since the coup. Often, they have been violent, with pro-Erdogan protesters hurling stones into the windows of Gulen organizations in Gelsenkirchen, Germany and Rotterdam, Holland, or calling to set fire to a building housing a Gulenist organization in Beringen, Belgium (“Burn them alive!” the protesters shouted.). Arsonists also attacked several Gulen buildings in the Netherlands.

In other instances, the attacks are quieter but more sinister: members of 70 different Gulen-affiliated groups in the Netherlands report receiving hate messages and death threats. People believed to support the movement – or who fail to support Erdogan – report being banned from mosques and refused entry to restaurants. Dutch children have told each other “I can’t talk to you anymore.” A number of Gulen followers have gone into hiding, fearing for their safety.

And in Germany, home to Europe’s largest Turkish community, estimated at nearly 3 million, some 30-40,000 Erdogan supporters marched through Cologne on July 31. And while the demonstrations went off without incident, they represent a chasm within the country – not just between Germans and Turks, but – as in the Netherlands – among the Turks themselves. Noted Deutsch-Welle‘s Gero Schliess in an editorial, “After the coup attempt in Turkey, divisions have emerged in this country that no one had seen for a long time – or hadn’t wanted to see. The failed coup and President Erdogan’s massive onslaught against civil rights have deeply divided the Turkish community in Germany. The split runs right through families and neighborhoods, regardless of social strata or profession.”

But at least as disturbing is the idea of 30-40,000 people marching in support of the man who has led the profoundly anti-democratic crackdown in Turkey. While it may be understandable to oppose a military coup, it is something else entirely to continue marching in support in light of the abuses that have followed. Moreover, according to Politico, the situation has also “reignited a decade-long debate in Germany about the Turkish state steering public opinion within the German-Turkish community through a web of lobbying groups, religious institutions, media outlets and public figures.”

Religious groups seem to be chief among those, such as the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs, sponsored by the Turkish state. That Turkey is therefore subsidizing mosques in Germany demonstrates the strength not only of the country’s influence on the political visions of German Turks, but on their religious ideas as well. And in an increasingly Islamist Turkey, those ideas no longer reflect the secular, humanist values of Ataturk; rather, they are based on an increasingly strict vision of Sunni Islam in which the state and the mosque are one.

Other Turkish religious groups, including Milli Gorüs, an Islamist group headquartered in Cologne, are also believed to hold sway over European Turks, particularly in the Netherlands.

Behind them all, particularly in Belgium, is the Diyanet, the official Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs .

Ataturk created the Diyanet soon after the founding of the Turkish republic, to help ensure that imams preached moderate interpretations of Islam. They were critical to maintaining the separation between mosque and state. With the rise of Erdogan and his AK Party, however, it has served to do just the opposite: it now promotes Islamist views in Turkey and among the Turkish community abroad. As Istanbul-based journalist David Lepeska noted last year, the Diyanet‘s budget has quadrupled since 2006 to over $2 billion, with a 2015 budget allocation that was “40 percent more than the Ministry of the Interior’s and equal to those of the Foreign, Energy, and Culture and Tourism ministries combined.” In addition to presiding over Turkey’s own mosques, the directorate governs hundreds of mosques across Europe, has increased the number of religious classes in public schools, and, reports Lepeska, “runs a 24-hour television station, Diyanet television, available via satellite, cable, and YouTube, and manages a Facebook page (with nearly 230,000 fans), two Twitter accounts (more than 50,000 followers), and an Islamic lifestyle hotline.”

The result is a toxic mixture of religion and politics that could not be further from the secular ideals of the founder of modern Turkey. Add Erdogan’s and the AKP’s human rights abuses and dictatorial leanings to this and the cauldron boils hotter and more dangerous than ever. Whatever problems existed previously, the post-coup situation bears far too many parallels to the impulses and ideologies of radical Islamism: whoever does not support Erdogan becomes the enemy. And Erdogan, as the leader of Turkey, is the leader of the Diyanet.

The outcome is a kind of tribalism that already infects the rest of the Middle East: to be outside the Erdogan support core is to be outside the realm of the Diyanet – an apostate of sorts, threatened with death.

That this could become the future of Ataturk’s secular democratic republic is tragic. But there is also a very real possibility of the impulse spreading into Europe. Other events this year, such as the attacks on Dutch journalist Ebru Umar and German comedian Jan Bohmermann, both of whom criticized the Turkish president, demonstrate that many European Turks lean towards such a radicalized and tribalist vision. It is a vision Europe’s leaders would do well to extinguish while they still can.


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Erdoğan’s Coup Survival: Don’t Call It Democracy

pro erdogan demIPT NewsAugust 3, 2016

Nihad Awad, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) executive director, is in Turkey this week. It isn’t clear why, but Awad is taking advantage of his travels to post upbeat photographs celebrating that country’s recent failed military coup.

Last month, a faction of Turkey’s military tried to oust Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has consolidated power and steered his country away from the secular ambitions laid out by modern founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk toward a decidedly Islamist state.

As Natalie Martin explained in Newsweek:

“For almost ten years, Turkey has been drifting towards authoritarianism. Life has become distinctly uncomfortable for anyone who doesn’t support Erdoğan and his party, the AKP. The government controls the news media, has undermined the rule of law and clamped down harshly on any kind of peaceful protest. So while Turkey is still democratic—in that Erdoğan is elected—it is not a liberal country.”

1749Last Friday, Turkish journalist Mahir Zeynalov captured one aspect of Erdoğan’s latest crackdown, the arrests of dozens of journalists, in a series of Twitter posts that garnered immediate international attention.

Awad hasn’t seemed to notice or doesn’t care. On Saturday, he posted a photograph of a bridge where, he said, “the army surrendered to the will of the people.” Monday evening, he snapped a selfie in Turkey’s Taksim Square, showing what looked like a rally of flag-waving Turks “guarding democracy.”

1748True, Erdoğan was elected president by popular vote in 2014. But his actions, seizing opposition media outlets, purging military, the courts and government of potential foes and increasing Islam’s role in Turkish society, predates the failed coup.

But Erdoğan’s crackdown, described by the New York Times as “nearly unprecedented” in modern history, has not stopped his American Islamist supporters from fully embracing Turkey’s tilt toward a more theocratic state.

In a series of White House rallies that started the night of the failed coup, speakers including Awad cast Turkey as a beacon of freedom.

“This military coup is an affront, not only to the Turkish people, but to everyone who believes in democracy and the free will of the people,” Awad said at another White House rally July 15.

Read more

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Trump’s Unsettling Response to Turkey’s Islamist Tyranny

President and former Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Photo: © Reuters)

President and former Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Photo: © Reuters)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, July 28, 2016:

After many years of a gradual erosion of the secular state, the Turkish government has been sprinting towards Islamist tyranny since the failed coup attempt. The response of Donald Trump to this new reality is unsettling, to say the least.

He declined to commit a potential Trump administration to opposing the Erdogan government’s crackdown, using the Islamist line that the U.S. lacks the moral authority to criticize other countries’ human rights abuses.

In an interview with the New York Times after the coup failed, Trump said he “give[s] great credit to him [Erdogan] for being able to turn that around” and marveled at the scenes of protestors stopping the involved military personnel. Hillary Clinton opposed the coup while standing by criticism of the Turkish government.

The reporter pointed out to Trump that Erdogan has used the coup as a pretext for a massive crackdown, arresting 50,000 people, removing major elements of the judiciary and suspending thousands of teachers.

Clarion published a stunning accounting of the purge. Now, the regime just shut down another 130 media outlets and kicked out 1,700 members of the military.

Trump did not speak out against these purges and said that opposing the Islamist tyranny in Turkey would not be a part of his administration’s agenda. He did, however, say there “may be a time when we can get much more aggressive on that subject…We’re not in a position to be more aggressive. We have to fix our own mess.”

He also repeated the reflexive Islamist rebuttal to any U.S. criticism that America has no moral standing, saying,

“I think right now when it comes to civil liberties, our country has a lot of problems, and I think it’s very hard for us to get involved in other countries when we don’t know what we are doing and we can’t see straight in our own country … When the world looks at how bad the United States is, and then we go and talk about civil liberties, I don’t think we’re a very good messenger… I don’t know that we have a right to lecture. Just look about what’s happening with our country.”

Both political parties in the U.S. have gotten the Islamist government of Turkey wrong since 2002, as those of us warned about the Erdogan government’s strategy of gradualism — a strategy he was so skilled in implementing that Dr. Daniel Pipes wrote that Erdogan and those like him pose a greater threat to Western civilization than Osama Bin Laden. This author dubbed Erdogan as “the King of the Islamists.”

President Bush praised Erdogan’s Turkey as a model of democracy for the region. President Obama once said Erdogan is one of the world leaders he is closest to (but did condemn the human rights abuses later on as they grew).

As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton simultaneously praised the Turkish government while speaking out in opposition to the decline of freedom. In her book, she complimented Erdogan as “forceful” and “effective,” while expressing doubts about his Islamist government’s commitment to democracy.

Her proposed foreign policy strategy includes pressuring Turkey to stop supporting Hamas and to fully commit to fighting Islamist terrorism. But it also includes working with Turkey to vet and support Syrian rebels.

Islamists like Erdogan view themselves as being in a “civilizational jihad” (as the Muslim Brotherhood puts it) with the West. To fight this ideological war with Islamism, we must weaken the Islamist ideology while strengthening our own.

To do that, we must assert the moral superiority of the West and stand with the oppressed against Islamism’s human rights abuses.

Donald Trump’s statement and proposed policy does the opposite of both.

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