After 10,000 Arrested, It’s Time for the US to End Backing for Islamist Regime

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Front  Page Magazine, by Daniel Greenfield, July 22, 2016:

It’s funny how the media was far more outraged by the supposed attempt by the Turkish military to restore the republic than by the Islamist tyrant’s escalating crackdown which has now seen 10,000 arrested. That’s war crime level detentions. If the Turkish military had done this, they would be screaming their heads off. Yet 10,000 arrests by Islamists, just like the Muslim Brotherhood’s torture and abuses in Egypt, get a pass.

And that has to change.

Turkey is swiftly turning into an actual totalitarian regime with no holds barred.

Turkey entered its second day under a state of emergency as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signaled that the three-month period approved by parliament may not be enough to complete a purge of those responsible for last week’s failed coup.

Erdogan told Reuters that there’s no obstacle to extending emergency rule, which took effect at 1 a.m. on Thursday and was later endorsed by parliament. It allows the government to issue decrees with the force of law, and detain suspects for longer periods without trial.

And then the emergency rule will just be made permanent and Erdogan will declare himself a sultan. All of this is happening with the complicity of the US and the EU. And I don’t just mean the radical left.

Too few, even Republicans, were willing to come out against the Arab Spring or to back the Egyptian military’s restoration of the government. That’s why Trump’s mention of it in his acceptance speech was important. We should have backed the Turkish military to the hilt. And by “us” I don’t mean Obama, who has never met an Islamist Jihadist he didn’t love, but Republicans and conservatives.

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Also see:

Does Erdogan Want To Be Sultan?

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Democracy is like a train — when you reach your stop, you get off.

CounterJihad, by Bruce Cornibe, July 20, 2016:

Last Friday’s failed coup attempt in Turkey, which claimed the lives of over 200 individuals, has left a lot of speculation about the causes of the incident and Turkish President Erdogan’s level of collusion. Erdogan has already stated that the coup attempt “is a blessing from Allah, because it will allow us to purge the military[.]” Reuters reports on the current number of detainees or those suspended by Turkish authorities at around 50,000 people – including military personnel, members of law enforcement, court officials, teachers and civil servants. Erdogan is clearly using this division to further Turkey into a more autocratic system of governance with him at the helm. For example, in a 2015 speech Erdogan addressed the issue of altering Turkey’s Constitution to match his expanded presidential role stating:

“There is a president with de facto power in the country, not a symbolic one. The president should conduct his duties for the nation directly, but within his authority. Whether one accepts it or not, Turkey’s administrative system has changed. Now, what should be done is to update this de facto situation in the legal framework of the constitution[.]”

Erdogan paints himself as an ally to the West, but he’s unquestionably an Islamist using the democratic process to transform a once secular-democratic country of the Ataturk tradition to an authoritarian Islamic state that punishes dissenting opinions.  Journalists, politicians, academics, military figures, and religious leaders alike have suffered under his rule.

Freedom House, an independent organization that monitors freedom and democracy, labeled Turkey as “Not Free” in 2016 – receiving poor rankings in different categories such as legal environment (26/30 with 30 being worst), political environment (30/40 with 40 being worst), economic environment (15/30 with 30 being worst), and press freedom score (71/100 with 100 being worst). Freedom House explains that constitutional protections such as freedom of press and expression are subverted by “the penal code, the criminal procedure code, and the harsh, broadly worded antiterrorism law that essentially leave punishment of normal journalistic activity to the discretion of prosecutors and judges.” For example, in 2015, Turkish authorities charged three Vice News journalists on terrorism related charges.  They have since been released with the help of freedom and human rights organizations.

Erdogan has made it clear that one of his chief rivals in his quest for power is an Islamic cleric named Fethullah Gülen, whom he accused of staging the recent coup attempt. Gülen is often regarded as a ‘moderate’ in the West but shares a similar Islamist ideology to that of Erdogan. Gülen, like the Muslim Brotherhood, goes by the strategy of gradualism or incrementalism to slowly bring about an Islamic state with the implementation of sharia. Gülen has built a vast network of schools and cultural centers around the world to gradually expand Islam’s role within society. This deceptive strategy is revealed in a former Gülen sermon, of which this is an excerpt:

You must move in the arteries of the system without anyone noticing your existence until you reach all the power centers … until the conditions are ripe, they [the followers] must continue like this. If they do something prematurely, the world will crush our heads, and Muslims will suffer everywhere, like in the tragedies in Algeria, like in 1982 [in] Syria … like in the yearly disasters and tragedies in Egypt. The time is not yet right. You must wait for the time when you are complete and conditions are ripe, until we can shoulder the entire world and carry it … You must wait until such time as you have gotten all the state power, until you have brought to your side all the power of the constitutional institutions in Turkey … Until that time, any step taken would be too early—like breaking an egg without waiting the full forty days for it to hatch. It would be like killing the chick inside. The work to be done is [in] confronting the world. Now, I have expressed my feelings and thoughts to you all—in confidence … trusting your loyalty and secrecy. I know that when you leave here—[just] as you discard your empty juice boxes, you must discard the thoughts and the feelings that I expressed here.

Because of Gülen’s influence and following within Turkey he is seen as a major threat by Erdogan. Erdogan officially designated Gülen’s movement a terrorist group and vowed to come after its members. Erdogan is now using the failed coup to try once more to extradite Gülen and clampdown on his followers.

Turkey is not only a strategic NATO ally but also holds considerable political clout with the EU in regards to Europe’s Muslim immigration crisis.  For that reason, he is likely to enjoy considerable support from the United States and the EU in spite of his autocratic tendencies.  As Erdogan continues to gain power and advances toward his aspirations of another Ottoman empire ruled by Sharia, the EU can either placate Turkish demands or stand up for their European values. Let’s hope they choose the latter.

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Also see:

What happened in Turkey? And what comes next?

AEI, by Michael Rubin, July 17, 2016:

On Friday, as Turks were out and about to mark the start of the evening, elements of the Turkish military sought to stage a coup. There was reason to see such violence coming. Last March, we speculated here at AEIdeas about the possibility that a coup might be brewing. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s president and strongman, has only grown increasingly dictatorial and erratic since.

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What really happened, though, remains unclear, and conspiracies swirl. Below are five questions to consider as Turkey teeters on the precipice:

  • Why is this coup different from others? The coup was unlike any coupTurkey had ever witnessed, and Turkey has seen four over the past decades. The Turkish military has timed past coups for the early morning hours (in 1980, the coup began at 5 am on Sunday) in order to detain sleeping political leaders at their homes). It has closed airspace and shutdown the media. In each of the past coups, the coup leaders themselves made the announcement. On Friday evening, however, a Turkish anchor made the announcement after being handed a note by low-ranked soldiers.
  • Who is responsible? There are three main suspects. The smoke had not cleared before Erdoğan blamed Fethullah Gülen, an Islamic cleric and former Erdoğan ally. Gülen preaches peace and tolerance, although his critics believe he has a hidden agenda. My own views are more conflicted. Erdoğan could never have consolidated power the way he did without the assistance of Gülen’s allies, but once Erdoğan turned on Gülen in 2013, the Pennsylvania-based cleric recognized the danger of Turkey with its constitutional checks-and-balances dismantled. Regardless, Gülen denies any role in Friday’s events. Nor has he ever had a powerbase in the military. Indeed, the Turkish General Staff has long vetted officer candidates to prevent Gülen’s followers from rising through the ranks.

The second are traditional Kemalists, those who follow the secular and pro-Western principles laid out by modern Turkey’s founding father, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. While Erdoğan has eroded both the Turkish military’s power and promoted Islamists within its ranks, it is possible that secularists in the military acted alone without the coordination of the top, Erdoğan-appointed brass. Erdoğan has made no secret of his desire to transform Turkey into a religious republic. As he consolidated power, Kemalists may have calculated that this was their last, best chance to save the old Turkey. If so, the units involved may have counted on popular support to overcome gaps in their plan. After all, the military traditionally polls as the most trusted public institutions in Turkey while the public trusts the political class far less.

The third possibility might be that Erdoğan himself sparked the coup as a sort of Reichstag fire. Sustaining this theory is the sheer incompetence of the coup plotters, as well as the fact that Erdoğan apparently had lists of thousands to detain compiled ahead of time. That he called the coup plot a “gift from God” only feeds the conspiracy further. So too does the fact that Erdoğan’s supporters were armed and ready to go immediately after his televised call to take to the streets. Turks know that there is little spontaneity in their politics. For example, after Erdoğan blew up at Shimon Peres in Davos in 2009, thousands greeted him at the airport waving Palestinian flags, the metro hours having been mysteriously extended for that day only. Even in a city as bustling as Istanbul, it would normally be hard to find thousands of Palestinian flags at 3 a.m.

  • What is Erdoğan’s end goal? Whether or not Erdoğan planned the coup himself in an orgy of Machiavellianism, one thing is certain: He is now the winner and will consolidate power even further. What Erdoğan’s end goal is remains open for debate, however. Eight years ago, it appeared he aspired to be the Turkish equivalent of Russian President Vladimir Putin. More recently, Turks have suggested that his goal was grander, thinkcaliphate or Islamic republic. Whatever Erdoğan seeks, separation of powers does not appear on his agenda.
  • What’s next for Turkey? Erdoğan is on the warpath. He believes he has acarte blanche to target enemies at home and perhaps abroad as well. Turkey already has the high proportion per capita of imprisoned journalists. Expect prisons to become more crowded. The danger is that Turkish society is still divided. Erdoğan has never won more than 50% of the vote. The Kurdish insurgency is only growing more virulent. The terrorist attacks that have rocked Turkey in recent months may only be the tip of the iceberg. Here’s my biggest fear: The closing of Turkey’s political space may herald a new era of political assassination inside Turkey. Elections were once the escape valve but, with Turks no longer able to campaign openly and with atrocity fanning the flames of animosity even further, opponents, ideologues, and those who feel they must rectify personal or political grievance may turn to the gun. Not only will Erdoğan be a target, but also the heads of all major political parties, newspaper editors, television anchors, and civil society leaders.
  • What does it mean for the United States? It’s time for some serious introspection in Washington. If the coup attempt caught the State Department and intelligence community by surprise, it’s responsible to ask why? Are diplomats talking to themselves or Turks? Are their contacts relevant and broad, or are they trapped in an elite circle? Likewise, what are the base assumptions that blinded US intelligence? Erdoğan’s actions will challenge US policy in other ways. When President Obama declared that all parties should support Erdoğan, it is doubtful he meant to give the Turkish leader a green light to imprison thousands of opponents. And even though Obama came out against the coup plot, the Turkish government has redoubled anti-American incitement in recent days.

Turkish media suggests that the United States must have had a hand in the coup attempt because Gülen resides in Pennsylvania. Erdoğan has renewed calls for Gülen’s extradition, and appears willing to tie US use of the Incirlik air base to his demand. In effect, this means, Erdoğan is holding the fight against the Islamic State hostage to his domestic political aims. Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, equivocates.

Let us hope Obama and Kerry are students of history. When Jimmy Carter considered acquiescing to Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini’s demand to extradite the shah who, like Gülen, came to the United States seeking medical treatment, the result was not peace but rather a sense that blackmail was an effective tool.

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Also see:

Turkey: Coup Has Failed, Erdogan More Powerful Than Ever

Turkish soldiers secure the area as supporters of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan protest in Istanbul's Taksim square, early Saturday, July 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Turkish soldiers secure the area as supporters of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan protest in Istanbul’s Taksim square, early Saturday, July 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

PJ MEDIA, BY MICHAEL VAN DER GALIEN, JULY 16, 2016

Izmir, Turkey — It’s a done deal: the military coup has failed. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AK Parti remain in power and vow to take revenge against those behind the coup.

Or, perhaps better said: against those they say are behind it.

Now that the coup has clearly failed, we can conclude that this must have been the most incompetent attempted takeover in Turkey’s troubled history. When part of the military launched their offensive last night (Turkish time), I immediately checked news channels supporting President Erdogan. Surprisingly, none of them were taken over. The only broadcaster that was taken over was TRT Haber, the state news channel. But NTV and other channels supporting Erdogan were left alone.

That was remarkable, but what struck me even more was the fact that these channels — especially NTV — were able to talk to the president and the prime minister. That’s strange, to put it mildly. Normally, when the military stages a coup, the civilian rulers are among the first to be arrested. After all, as long as the country’s civilian leadership are free, they can tell forces supportive of them what to do… and they can even tell the people to rise up against the coup.

And that’s exactly what happened. Both Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called into news programs and told their supporters to go out on the streets and fight back against the soldiers. A short while later, streets in the big cities (Ankara and Izmir) were flooded with Erdogan supporters, who even climbed on top of tanks. Fast forward a few hours and it was officially announced that the coup had failed, and that Erdogan and his AK Party remained in power. About 1500 soldiers were arrested.

As I wrote on Twitter yesterday, there were three options:

  1. The coup was staged by a small group within the military, which would severely limit their ability to strike.
  2. The coup was staged by the entire military, which meant Erdogan’s chances of surviving politically were extremely small.
  3. The coup was a set-up. Think the Reichstag fire.

The main argument against option number three is that there was some very serious fighting taking place, including massive explosions. Dozens of people have been killed. If this was a fake coup, it probably was the bloodiest one ever. That’s why many people are skeptical about this option, and believe it was just an incompetent attempt at a military takeover.

The general feeling in Izmir — a city with 3 million inhabitants who are generally not pro-Erdogan at all — is that it was a real coup attempt, but that the officers behind it were incredibly amateurish. Friends on the streets and cafés are literally telling me:

It was a real attempt, but they were stupid.

Shortly after the attempted coup, Erdogan and Yildirim immediately blamed a disgraced Islamic scholar, Fethullah Gulen, who now lives in Pennsylvania. Gulen and Erdogan were longtime allies who shared a dream of Islamizing Turkey but had a falling out several years ago. Ever since, Erdogan has blamed Gulen for pretty much every problem in Turkey, including a major controversy about cabinet members (including Erdogan and his family) possibly stealing millions of dollars. In the years after, Gulen became Erdogan’s enemy number one, which is undoubtedly why he’s being blamed for yesterday’s coup.

Proof that Gulen is indeed behind it hasn’t been presented, however. In fact, the Gulen group denies any involvement. You could imagine that, if they did support it, they’d call on their followers to support the takeover. They did no such thing.

The same goes for the leaders of Turkey’s official opposition parties. The secular CHP and the nationalist MHP aligned with the AKP to condemn the coup. Some in the West have expressed shock at that: if they’re opposed to Erdogan, why didn’t they support the coup? The answer is, of course, that Turkey has had two military takeovers in the recent past (1960s and 1980s): both were very bloody and absolutely horrendous, not just for the ousted governments, but also for the average Turk. People weren’t allowed to leave their homes, not even to buy food and drinks, and many innocent civilians were rounded up by the military. Once in prison, many of them either died or were severely tortured.

It’s not very strange that even the country’s opposition parties don’t wish a repeat of that. No person in his right mind would.

When the coup was still going on, one Twitter user tweeted this:

I’m afraid that Yousef was, and is, right. If the military would’ve succeeded, Turkey would now be a military dictatorship. Regardless of where you stand on Erdogan, that would’ve meant major changes for the Turkish people. A lockdown would’ve been put in place, people would’ve been imprisoned in their own homes. In fact, I went out at 2 a.m. to a local market to buy as much food, milk, eggs, and so on as I could. I did this because, in past coups, people had to stay indoors for many days. Some people who couldn’t take care of themselves actually died from hunger, or so I’ve been told by Turks. After that first phase, the military always rounded up all those they thought were loyal to the former government. Mass imprisonments, torture and killings were everyday events.

In other words, even if you oppose Erdogan, it’s difficult if not impossible to celebrate a military coup.

Of course we now have to see what Erdogan’s government will do. More than 100 soldiers involved in the coup have been killed, military commanders were taken hostage, and Erdogan has vowed revenge. As anyone with even a bit of knowledge of history knows, the crackdowns after a failed coup can be as bad as the crackdown after a successful military takeover. Erdogan already wanted to change Turkey’s constitution and change the system into a so-called presidential system, meaning most if not all power would reside in his office. Nobody doubts that this is exactly what’ll happen now: he’ll draw all power to himself and ignite a major cleansing, possibly not only of the military and police forces, but also in politics itself.

The only possible conclusion, then, is: no matter what, democracy will suffer a major setback in Turkey. We can only hope and pray that the consequences will be less severe than I fear.

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Why the coup in Turkey could mean hope

Photo: AP

Photo: AP

New York Post, By Michael Rubin, July 15, 2016:

The Turkish military has staged a coup. Bridges are closed in Istanbul. There is gunfire in Ankara. The Turkish General Staff says that it is in control.

Turkey is no stranger to coups. Historically, the Turkish military has been the guarantor of Turkey’s Constitution. In 1960, it overthrew Prime Minister Adnan Menderes after he sought to consolidate control and erode separation of mosque and state.

In 1971 and again in 1980, it intervened as chaos and political violence threatened to consume the country. In 1997, the military forced Turkey’s first Islamist government to step aside.

While any coup is tragic, in Turkey there is hope: The military has never tried to retain power; rather, it has always assumed a caretaker role, seeking to repair the constitutional checks and balances in order to return Turkey to democracy.

There are other reasons for hope. It’ll likely be a day or two before we see if the coup holds, but Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the prime minister-turned-president now apparently overthrown, was an autocrat. He flirted with support for terrorists groups like Hamas, the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and even the Islamic State.

Some regimes believe flirtation with radical Islamists might fulfill short-term policy ends, but in the long-term there is always a heavy price. The past year’s attacks in Ankara and Istanbul may have convinced Turks outside Erdoğan’s inner circle that their reckoning was near.

Erdoğan ruled through the Justice and Development Party (AKP), a party that started out promising not only religious tolerance but also technocratic expertise.

It increasingly delivered the opposite. In the first nine years of AKP rule, for example, the murder rate of women skyrocketed 1,400 percent as Islamists conducted honor crimes with impunity.

The good news is that, with the exception of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s secular political movement, no Turkish party has ever survived the death of its charismatic leader.

Erdoğan’s removal might open space for both religious conservatives and liberals to again compete in the marketplace of ideas.

That said, Turkey’s future is far from assured. Over his 13 years in power, Erdoğan has transformed the bureaucracy.

He has changed education to brainwash a generation of students. He has allowed Islamist students to leapfrog over secular requirements to enter top universities.

He has inserted party cadre into every government bureaucracy. He and his family have seized newspapers and TV stations and used them to broadcast nonstop streams of anti-American and anti-Semitic conspiracies.

Undoing this will be no easy feat, especially since half of Turkey’s population supports Erdoğan blindly.

There also needs to be serious soul-searching within the Turkish military. How did it manage to misread Turkish society for so long? Career officers lived and socialized with other officers; they lost touch with Turkey at large.

Should the Turkish military engage in a violent purge, the reverberations may last generations. Nor does the coup resolve real ethnic problems between Kurds and Turks.

Absent real reform, the coup won’t resolve the Kurdish insurgency Turkey now faces. Nor is the opposition a panacea. Party leaders act as mini-dictators within their own parties. Few are charismatic.

Turkey has no obvious savior. Get ready for a rocky ride.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute

Report: Military Coup Under Way in Turkey

afp_3f7a0a5fd36a03cb259543d7939da47769de7c41-e1468614460915-640x479Breitbart, by John Hayward, July 15, 2016:

Reports began emerging from Turkey of a possible military coup on Friday afternoon.

The UK Telegraph reports that while Prime Minister Binali Yildirim urged the public to remain calm, and said “it would be wrong to call it a coup,” he conceded that “part of the military” was making an “illegal attempt” to seize power.

It sounds like a spirited attempt, judging from tidbits of information flowing onto social media:

Social media services Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were reportedly blocked shortly before 11:00 PM local time.

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The Case for Kurdish Statehood

kurdby Noah Beck
Special to IPT News
July 11, 2016

Why has the West been so supportive of Palestinian nationalism, yet so reluctant to support the Kurds, the largest nation in the world without a state?

The Kurds have been instrumental in fighting the Islamic State (ISIS); have generously accepted millions of refugees fleeing ISIS to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG); and embrace Western values such as gender equality, religious freedom, and human rights. They are also an ancient people with an ethnic and linguistic identity stretching back millennia and have faced decades of brutal oppression as a minority. Yet they cannot seem to get sufficient support from the West for their political aspirations.

The Palestinians, by contrast, claimed a distinct national identity relatively recently, are less than one-third fewer in number (in 2013, the global Palestinian population was estimated by the Palestinian Authority to reach 11.6 million), control land that is less than 1/15th the size of the KRG territory, and have not developed their civil society or economy with nearly as much success as the Kurds. Yet the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League, and other international bodies have all but ignored Kurdish statehood dreams while regularly prioritizing Palestinian ambitions over countless other global crises.

Indeed, in 2014 the UK and Sweden joined much of the rest of the world in recognizing a Palestinian state. There has been no similar global support for a Kurdish homeland. Moreover, Kurdish statehood has been hobbled by U.S. reluctance to see the Iraqi state dismantled and by regional powers like Turkey, which worries that a Kurdish state will stir up separatist feelings among Turkish Kurds.

With an estimated worldwide population of about 35 million (including about 28 million in the KRG or adjacent areas), the Kurds are the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East (after the Arabs, Persians, and Turks), and have faced decades of persecution as a minority in Turkey, Iran, and Iraq.

The 1988 “Anfal” attacks, which included the use of chemical weapons, destroyed about 2,000 villages and killed at least 50,000 Kurds, according to human rights groups (Kurds put the number at nearly 200,000). Several international bodies have recognized those atrocities as a genocide.

The Kurds in Turkey have also suffered oppression dating back to Ottoman times, when the Turkish army killed tens of thousands of Kurds in the Dersim and Zilan massacres. By the mid-1990s, more than 3,000 villages had been destroyed and 378,335 Kurdish villagers had been displaced and left homeless, according to Human Rights Watch.

The drive for Kurdish rights and separatism in Iran extends back to 1918, and – during its most violent chapter – cost the lives of over 30,000 Kurds, starting with the 1979 rebellion and the consequent KDPI insurgency.

A 2007 study notes that 300,000 Kurdish lives were lost just in the 1980s and 1990s. The same study states that 51,000 Jews and Arabs were killed in the Arab-Israeli conflict from 1950 until 2007 (and, because that total includes wars with Israel’s Arab neighbors, Palestinians are a small fraction of the Arab death toll).

Perhaps because of the Kurds’ own painful history, the KRG is exceptionally tolerant towards religious minorities and refugees. The KRG has embraced its tiny community of Jews, and in 2014, the Kurds rescued about 5,000 Yazidis trapped on Mount Sinjar after fleeing attempted genocide by ISIS. Last November, the Kurds recaptured the Sinjar area from ISIS, liberating hundreds more Yazidis from vicious oppression.

The KRG absorbed 1.8 million refugees as of December, representing a population increase of about 30 percent. The KRG reportedly needs $1.4 to 2.4 billion to stabilize the internally displaced people in its territory.

“Most of the refugees [in the KRG] are Arab Sunnis and Shia, Iranians, Christians, and others,” Nahro Zagros, Soran University vice president and adviser to the KRG’s Ministry of Higher Education, told the  IPT. “Yet there is no public backlash from the Kurds. And of course, we have been helping the Yazidi, who are fellow Kurds.”

The Kurdish commitment to gender equality is yet another reason that Kurdish statehood merits Western support. There is no gender discrimination in the Kurdish army: their women fight (and get beheaded) alongside the men. Last December, Kurdistan hosted the International Conference on Women and Human Rights.

The Kurds are also the only credible ground force fighting ISIS, as has been clear since the ISIS threat first emerged in 2014. ISIS “would have totally controlled the Baji oil field and all of Kirkuk had the [Kurdish] Peshmerga not defended it,” said Jay Garner, a retired Army three-star general and former Army assistant vice chief of staff who served during “Operation Provide Comfort” in northern Iraq. “Losing Kirkuk would have changed the entire war [against ISIS], because there are billions of dollars [per] week in oil flowing through there. The Iraqi army abandoned their equipment [while the Kurds defended Kirkuk, which has historically been theirs].”

Masrour Barzani, who heads the KRG’s intelligence services, says that Kurdish independence would empower the Kurds to purchase the type of weapons they need without the delays that currently hobble their military effort against ISIS. Under the present arrangement, Kurdish weapons procurement must go through Iraq’s Shia-led central government, which is also under heavy Iranian influence.

Besides bolstering the fight against ISIS, there are other geopolitical reasons for the West to support Kurdish statehood: promoting a stable partition of Syria, containing Iran, balancing extremist forces in the Middle East, and giving the West another reliable ally in a volatile region.

Now that Syria is no longer a viable state, it could partition into more sustainable governing blocs along traditional ethnic/sectarian lines with Sunni Arabs in the heartland, Alawites in the northwest, Druze in the south, and Kurds in the northeast. KRG leader Masrour Barzani recently argued that political divisions within Iraq have become so deep that the country must transform into “either confederation or full separation.”

Southeast Turkey and northwest Iran also have sizeable Kurdish areas that are contiguous with the KRG, but those states are far from disintegrating, and would aggressively resist any attempts to connect their Kurdish areas to the future Kurdish state. However, the Kurdish areas of former Syria should be joined to Iraqi Kurdistan as a way to strengthen the fledgling Kurdish state and thereby weaken ISIS.

In a recent article, Ernie Audino, the only U.S. Army general to have previously served a year as a combat adviser embedded inside a Kurdish Peshmerga brigade in Iraq, notes that Iran currently controls the Iraqi government and Iran-backed fighters will eventually try to control Kurdistan. He also makes the point that Western support for the Kurdish opposition groups active in Iran would force the Iranian regime to concentrate more on domestic concerns, effectively weakening Iran’s ability to pursue terrorism, expansionism, and other destabilizing activities abroad.

Because the Kurds are religiously diverse moderates who prioritize their ethno-linguistic identity over religion, a Kurdish state would help to balance out the radical Mideast forces in both the Shiite and Sunni camps. The Kurds are already very pro-American, thanks to their Western-leaning values, the U.S.-backed-no-fly zone, and the 2003 toppling of Saddam Husssein that made the KRG possible.

A Kurdish state would also have excellent relations with Israel, another moderate, non-Arab, pro-Western democracy in the region. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuendorsed Kurdish independence in 2014, and Syrian Kurds – after recently declaring their autonomy – expressed an interest in developing relations with Israel.

By contrast, the Palestinian Authority slanders Israel at every opportunity: Abbas recently claimed in front of the EU parliament that Israel’s rabbis are trying to poison Palestinian drinking water. The Authority raises Palestinian children to hate and kill Jews with endless anti-Israel incitement coming from schools, media, and mosques. Palestinians have also shown little economic progress in the territories that they do control, particularly in Gaza, where Palestinians destroyed the greenhouses that donors bought for them in 2006 and instead, have focused their resources on attacking Israel with tunnels and rockets.

By almost any measure, a Kurdish state deserves far more support from the West. After absorbing millions of Syrian refugees while fighting ISIS on shrinking oil revenue, the KRG is battling a deepening financial crisis. Aggravating the situation, Iraq’s central government has refused – since April 2015 – to send the KRG its share of Iraqi oil revenue. The economic crisis has cost the KRG an estimated $10 billion since 2014.

U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced House Resolution 1654 “to authorize the direct provision of defense articles, defense services, and related training to” the KRG. Fifteen months later, the bill is still stuck in Congress.

Helping the Kurds should be an even bigger priority for the European Union, which absorbs countless new refugees every day that ISIS is not defeated. If the EU were to fund the KRG’s refugee relief efforts and support their military operations against ISIS, far fewer refugees would end up on their shores.

Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis, an apocalyptic novel about Iranian nukes and other geopolitical issues in the Middle East.

CIA Director: Turkish Terror Attack Underscores ISIS Threat to Americans

John Brennan / AP

John Brennan / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Aaron Kliegman, June 29, 2016:

CIA Director John Brennan warned in an interview published Wednesday that the Islamic State is likely responsible for the suicide bombings Tuesday night at Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport that killed 41 people and wounded hundreds more and is trying to carry out similar attacks in the United States.

“I am worried from the standpoint of an intelligence professional who looks at the capabilities of Daesh … and their determination to kill as many people as possible and to carry out attacks abroad,” Brennan told Yahoo News in an exclusive interview at CIA headquarters, using the acronym for the Arabic name of the Islamic State.

ISIS has so far not taken credit for the Turkish airport attack and Brennan did not confirm that it was responsible, but Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters shortly after the Istanbul bombings that ISIS was likely the culprit.

Brennan indicated that the method of attack points to the jihadist group rather than the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has launched attacks inside Turkey while battling the Turkish state for Kurdish autonomy.

“It was a suicide bombing [which] is usually more a Daesh technique,” Brennan said. “You look at what happened in the Turkish airport, these were suicide vests. It’s not that difficult to actually construct and fabricate a suicide vest … so if you have a determined enemy and individuals who are not concerned about escape, that they are going into it with a sense that they are going to die, that really does complicate your strategy in terms of preventing attacks.”

Brennan warned that “I’d be surprised if Daesh is not trying to carry out that kind of attack in the United States.”

He credited intelligence and homeland security measures for stopping ISIS from directing an attack on the American homeland up to this point. (The terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando were carried out by individuals inspired by ISIS, not directed by them.)

The CIA chief said ISIS has a motive to attack Turkey because Ankara is going after terrorists in neighboring Syria and has helped the American-led coalition to fight the terror group. Turkey’s failure to police its border to stop foreign fighters from flowing into and out of Iraq and Syria has frustrated Washington, but Brennan said America’s NATO ally has taken steps recently to better monitor the border.

ISIS has used terror tactics to “offset” losses of territory and other setbacks in Iraq and Syria, but the group’s upsurge in attacks in the greater Middle East and Europe is also part of a wider offensive, according to Brennan.

“Over the past year and a half they have made a more determined effort to carry out attacks abroad, and we see in terms of their plans, their preparations, the movement of people as well as propagandizing outside, exhorting, inciting a much more determined effort to carry out these external operations,” Brennan said.

“Brennan was blunt about the slow nature of progress both in the fight against ISIS and efforts to push Syrian President Bashar Assad out of power,” the article reads. America’s top spy toldlawmakers earlier this month that the U.S. campaign to defeat ISIS has not curbed the group’s global reach, and he echoed those sentiments in the Yahoo interview.

“We’ve yet to really thwart Daesh’s ability to reach beyond the Syria-Iraqi borders and put in place some of the plans and preparations to carry out attacks,” Brennan said. “I am very concerned we have not had the success against Daesh in that environment as we’ve had in the core areas of Syria and Iraq.”

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper raised similar concerns last month, telling CNN that ISIS has the capability to launch a large-scale Paris-style attack inside the United States.

Brennan added that a key aspect of America’s strategy to defeat ISIS is to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power, who he described as a “magnet” for a number of jihadist groups to fight in Syria. Brennan acknowledged that Assad is in a stronger position today, despite President Obama calling for his ouster since 2011 when the Syrian civil war began.

“Relative to where he was on the battlefield last year, [Assad] is in a better and stronger position [today],” Brennan said, blaming Russia for Assad’s stronger position by intervening on the Syrian leader’s behalf in September 2015. “The Russians sometimes want their cake and eat it too as far as having the cooperation with us against terrorists but not wanting to do anything that’s going to lead to a political settlement that will have a more durable future as far as a political agreement,” Brennan added.

Brennan expressed a broader frustration with Moscow, discussing a recent report that Russia is harassing U.S. diplomats throughout Europe. The CIA director “told his counterparts ‘in direct terms,’ that the behavior was ‘unacceptable’ and ‘destructive’ to the relationship,” according to Yahoo.

Brennan also discussed Russia granting asylum to Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who disclosed highly classified surveillance programs, which infuriated the U.S. intelligence community. Brennan said that Snowden has “dishonored his oath” and should return to the United States to face charges. When asked to comment on former Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent statement that Snowden “actually performed a public service,” Brennan said, “I do not believe that at all. I respectfully but vehemently disagree with the former attorney general.”

Yahoo News will post the full transcript of the interview next week.

***

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Why Turkey’s Seizure of Churches is Deeply Troubling

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Frontpage, by Daniel Greenfield, April 19, 2016:

You don’t need to have “Istanbul, Not Constantinople” memorized to know that Turkey is a Muslim country built by Muslim colonists and settlers on the back of a Christian civilization. Some of its mosques used to be churches. And quite a few Muslims in Turkey would like to turn all the remaining churches into mosques or, in some cases, back into mosques.

That makes the question of church property an explosive one and the seizures of churches by the Islamist AKP Erdogan regime more troubling.

After 10 months of urban conflict in Turkey’s war-torn southeast, the government has expropriated huge sections of property, apparently to rebuild and restore the historical centre of the region’s largest city, Diyarbakir.

But to the dismay of the city’s handful of Christian congregations, this includes all its Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant churches. Unlike the state-funded mosques, Turkey’s ancient church buildings – some of which pre-date Islam – have been managed, historically, by church foundations.

The Erdogan regime has a history of using this brand of eminent domain and accompanying “reconstruction” to eliminate problem areas. Tear down a place that serves as a gathering for people you don’t like and replace it with a shopping mall. The Europeans won’t complain. They’ll float you a loan to do it.

While Obama welcomes Erdogan’s megamosque in America, Christians have trouble with churches in Turkey. But Obama instead lobbies Greece to make more space for Islamic services.

On April 2, a gigantic Ottoman style of mosque was opened in Lanham, Maryland by the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The mosque, according to Turkish officials, is “one of the largest Turkish mosques built outside Turkey.”

Funds to build it, as reported by the Turkish pro-government newspaper, Sabah, came from Turkey’s state-run Presidency of Religious Affairs, known as the Diyanet, as well as Turkish-American non-profit organizations.

The mosque is actually part of a larger complex, commonly referred to as “Maryland kulliye.” Akulliye, as such Islamic compounds were called in Ottoman times, is a complex of buildings, centered on a mosque and composed of various facilities including a madrassa (Islamic religious school).

Erdogan recited verses from the Quran inside the mosque after the mosque was opened.

Meanwhile, thousands of miles away from the American soil, in Turkey, Christians have for decades been deprived of the right to build their places of worship.

It’s not just that the left insists on welcoming Muslims. But it shows its double standards when it refuses to stand up for the rights of Christians. It doesn’t believe in freedom of worship. It believes in empowering Islamists to oppress Christians and Jews, not to mention Hindus and Buddhists, all over the world.

Frank Gaffney: Erdogan Transformed Turkey into an ‘Islamist Police State’ That Is No Longer a ‘Reliable NATO Ally’

AFP

AFP

Breitbart, by John Hayward, April 15, 2016:

Center for Security Policy founder and Sen. Ted Cruz foreign-policy adviser Frank Gaffney joined host Stephen K. Bannon on Breitbart News Daily Friday morning to talk about the recent proclamation of “Islamic unity” from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country will now assume the chairmanship of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for two years.

Gaffney argued that Erdogan’s statement was actually an example of taqqiya, the Muslim practice of lying for the greater good of the faith, and Erdogan’s true agenda was Islamic supremacism.

“I think what he’s trying to tell us is different from what he’s trying to tell his own people,” Gaffney said of Erdogan’s proclamation.  “He’s telling us that he’s all about solidarity, and tolerance, and ecumenicalism, and we all need to pull together, and so on.”

“But the main message he’s been sending to his own people, for something like 13 years now, is Islamic supremacism,” Gaffney continued.  “It has nothing to do with [singing] ‘Kumbaya’ with infidels.  It is about forcing them to submit, in the classic tradition ofsharia.

He described Erdogan as “Muslim Brotherhood old Islamist who believes, at the end of the day, that he is going to be the new Caliph.”

“He is going to create a neo-Ottoman Empire.  And anything that is communicated to the West – in various international fora, or through proclamations, or through other means – is what is known, in the traditions of sharia, as taqqiya – that is, essentially, lying for the Faith.  And I think this should be discounted as such,” said Gaffney.

Gaffney explained that it’s not just permitted, but “obligatory,” for followers of the Islamic supremacist doctrine to “dissemble, to deceive the unbeliever, and to use deception as Mohammed did – the perfect Muslim – to triumph over the infidel, and to successfully create conditions under which they will be effectively enslaved, or reduced to a dhimmistatus.”

He thought the Turkish president’s carefully crafted message would play well to Western media and government, which are suffused with the endless hope that “there’s a degree of moderation on the part of people like Erdogan, or others in the Muslim Brotherhood movement – the global jihad movement, for that matter.”

“It just ain’t so,” Gaffney argued.  “This is a guy who has transformed his country, let’s be clear, from a secular democratic nation – a Muslim one to be sure, but definitely in the secular tradition of Ataturk – into what is now an Islamist police state.”

“Particularly people in the press, who are trying to portray this in the most rose-colored glass mode, should understand what he’s doing to the press in Turkey,” Gaffney stressed.  “He’s crushing it, unless it bends to his will.”

He noted that Erdogan is famous for having said “Democracy is like a bus – you take it to your destination, and then you get off.”

“He’s long since gotten off, internally,” Gaffney warned.  “We should be under no illusion: he is not aligned with us.  He is aligned with the Islamists around the world – with Iran, with China, with Hamas of course.  This is a guy who is no longer, in his country, a reliable NATO ally.  And that’s the unvarnished and unhappy truth.”

Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00AM to 9:00AM EST.

You can listen to the full interview with Frank Gaffney below:

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Islamist Turkish PM to Open Huge Mosque in US

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By Counter Jihad, April 7, 2016:

of the Gatestone Institute, a former desk officer on Turkey for the US Department of Defense, spoke on Turkey’s new mosque complex in America.  Erdogan is a self-described Islamist, and his foreign policy seems increasingly built around expanding the role of Islam — specifically, of Turkish-led Sunni Islam.  Turkey’s foreign policy toward Europe is aimed at increasing the number of Muslims in the European population.  He is pursuing this goal, Dr. Rhode said, both through attempting to establish visa-free travel for Turkish nationals into Europe, and by vastly increasing the refugee flow into Europe.  The establishment of a huge mosque near Washington, D.C. puts the stamp of Turkish leadership at the heart of America’s Islamic community.

At the opening of the mosque this week, President Erdogan inserted himself into America’s presidential electoral politics.  Calling American Muslim communities “‘primary elements’ of American society,” Erdogan denied that there was any connection between Islam and terrorism — with one exception.  Americans should understand that Kurdish communities seeking independence from Turkey were terrorists in “religious disguise.”  That religion is, of course, Islam, so we are to understand that the Kurds opposed to his government are the one counterexample in which there is an Islamic movement that is essentially terrorist in nature.

The Kurds might have at least as good a case against Erdogan.  US Secretary of State John F. Kerry recently charged Syrian President Assad with violating the laws of war by using “surrender or starve” tactics against civilians.  But Kurdish villages in Turkey have been subject to exactly the same brutal treatment by Erdogan’s government.  The Kurds have been long-term American allies in the War on Terror, and are the only part of the so-called Arab Spring movements that have flowered into a democracy that shows equal respect for women and religious minorities.  Turkey’s government has responded not by treating them as allies against the Islamic State (ISIS), but by placing the Kurds under an aerial bombardment.  The result has been to hamper the Kurdish campaign against ISIS while shoring up ISIS’s supply lines.

Meanwhile, in addition to starving villages into submission, Erdogan has been involved in a march against Western values of free inquiry and free expression.  Academics who signed a petition calling for an end to the war crimes against the Kurdish population have been rounded up by his government.

Both the Kurds and the decent Turkish people deserve better than Erdogan and his Islamist government.  Dr. Rhode reminded listeners of Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who instituted a secular democracy and dissolved the old Ottoman caliphate.  America should be an ally to those Turks who still believe in that vision.  Instead, we are allowing Erdogan to build monuments to his Islamist vision here in America.

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Horowitz: Turkish Islamic Leader Inaugurates Largest Mosque Complex in U.S.

Diyanet Center of AmericaConservative Review, by Daniel  Horowitz, April 4, 2016:

Imagine FDR inviting Benito Mussolini to come to the United States in Middle of World War II to dedicate a massive Italian cultural center?  Or how about inviting the Japanese emperor to the groundbreaking of a new Shinto shrine that was bankrolled by his country?  Well, the reality of Turkey’s Islamist leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking at the opening of a massive Islamic center that he funded in a small Maryland town – while we are at war with Islamic fascism – dwarfs these historical hypotheticals in terms of absurdity and outrage.

In May 2013, Erdogan visited the site of the future Mosque in Lanham, Maryland along with Obama administration officials.  After $110 million from the Turkish government, this massive Islamic center is now open and is the largest Islamic facility in the United States.  The Turkish Islamic-fascist leader spoke there on Saturday to inaugurate the behemoth complex.  During the feisty speech, Erdogan lectured Americans about tolerance towards Muslims, yet failed to acknowledge how he shuts down churches in his home country and fuels anti-Semitism.

While I haven’t seen any information on those who attended this ceremony, the head of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) was present at the 2013 groundbreaking.  ICNA is an Islamic supremacist group that follows the teachings of Maulana Mawdudi and the Jamaat Al-Islami of Pakistan.  Maulana has said that Jews will be exterminated in the end of days.  The mother of Syed Farook, who lived with her son for months while he was making bombs in San Bernardino, was a member of ICNA.  Syed’s wife, Tafsheen Malik, was radicalized in Pakistan by the network of Sharia-schools that followed those teachings as well.

Also in attendance in 2013 was Imam Mohamed Magid, the former head of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).  ISNA is a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot that was designated as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terror trial by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Even though Magid’s father is the Grand Mufti of Sudan responsible for the Christian genocide, he was appointed by Obama in 2011 to serve on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Countering Violent Extremism Working Group.  No, you aren’t missing anything.  There are Islamists who have been designated as Hamas agents that are given advisory positions in DHS, FBI, and the National Security Council.

Indeed, the Turkey/Muslim Brotherhood axis has come full circle right outside of our nation’s capital in a residential neighborhood.

Ever since the 9/11 attacks, and particularly over the past year, our political leaders have been pulling their hair out and wringing their hands in pursuit of a solution to combating Islamic terror.  We’ve spent 15 years refereeing Islamic civil wars overseas at a great fiscal and human cost to our nation.  Yet, at the same time we have brought the enemy to our shores through suicidal immigration policies and have allowed the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic foreign governments to represent the entire Muslim community in America.  We are at war with Islamic extremism, yet our political leaders have openly invited the Islamic extremists to come here and radicalize American Muslims.

Erdogan has been playing a double game of supporting ISIS for the past few years.  And of course, he is one of the biggest supporters of Hamas in the Middle East.  Then again, the Muslim Brotherhood is Hamas, yet they are in our government and control most of the mosques in this country.

Harking back to our original historical hypothetical analogy of allowing Mussolini or the Japanese emperor to inaugurate a cultural center during World War II, the reality we face today is much worse.  For the most part, Japanese-Americans and Italian Americans were completely assimilated and patriotic at the time.  What was going on in Japan and Italy had nothing to do with an entrenched religious ideology that spanned the globe and united all Japanese and Italians across the world to commit genocide or at least subvert their host countries.  That is not the case today with Sharia-adherent Muslims living in the West and radicalized by terror groups and foreign entities with which we are at war.

That we would allow the Erdogan regime—which has become the Islamist leader of the Sunni jihad world the same way Iran leads the Shia Jihad—to fund and control a $110 million Islamic center right near our capitol while we are at war with this very ideology and these very individual Islamic extremists not only defies logic, it defies the innate desire for self-preservation.

Turkey Releases ISIS Suspects

Turkish police after a bombing in Istanbul carried out by the Islamic State. (Photo: © Reuters)

Turkish police after a bombing in Istanbul carried out by the Islamic State. (Photo: © Reuters)

Clarion Project, by Uzay Bulut, April 3, 2016:

Late last month, a Turkish court released the last seven suspects who had been arrested on suspicion of being members of the Turkish branch of ISIS.

This means that all 96 suspects in the case who are now on trial as suspected terrorists were free to go about their business among the public.

These seven allegedly include major figures in the ISIS structure.  Halis Bayancuk, the alleged Emir, or commander, of ISIS in Istanbul, for example, was one of the defendants.

The major Turkish daily newspaper, Hurriyet, reported that two Syrian nationals – Muhammed Mustafa Halli and Assad Khelifa Khadr – also testified in court.

They are accused of escorting two women with French passports from Istanbul to the southeastern province of Gaziantep and then across the border to Syria to join ISIS. The defendants denied the allegations.

“Being in the tourism business, we are sometimes asked to escort foreigners, but I have never sent anyone to ISIS.  I support neither ISIS nor its ideas,” said Assad Khelifa Khadr.

He admitted he entered Turkey illegally.

Halli said that he has sent no one to Syria to join ISIS, adding that he has two wives – one in Libya and one in Syria.

Bayancuk, who is sometimes called “Abu Hanzala,” his nom de guerre, said he had been accused of being the head of the Turkish branch of al-Qaeda, but that he could not simultaneously be a member of two organizations that are each other’s enemies.

Irfan Gul, one of the defendants, was asked why there were leaflets in his home which urged people not to vote in the national elections.

Gul replied that they did not belong to him; he had only found them in front of his house.  “The leaflets had verses from the Koran, and I therefore did not know how to dispose of them,” he said.

Another alleged terrorist, Gokhan Bulut, who also had been released, did not even go to court for his trial.  He participated through a video connection with the courtroom.

He said that he had found the bombs and guns for which he was arrested in a car he had rented.  “Somebody else had left them there. They did not belong to me,” he added. Bulut had previously been arrested on suspicion of taking part in another conspiracy involving al-Qaeda suspects in Turkey.

At the end of the hearing, the seven defendants, each of whom had been arrested on suspicion of being an ISIS member, were released.

In December, 2015, the German television station, ARD, produced footage documenting ISIS’s slave trade in the Turkish province of Gaziantep (also known as Antep) in Turkey, near the border with Syria.

Some human rights groups in the region filed criminal complaints, in which they called for the prosecutors to investigate these serious allegations in order to bring the perpetrators to account. One of them was the Gaziantep branch of the Association of Progressive Women (IKD).

However, all six persons who allegedly have ties to ISIS and have allegedly enslaved Yazidi women to use them and to sell them for sexual purposes in Antep were acquitted during their first hearing.

The IKD association issued this written statement about that ruling:

“We learned yesterday that all defendants were acquitted at one hearing, in an exceptionally speedy trial conducted on January 15. As our association was considered a witness, we were not informed of the stages of the trial, and we learned the result only by word of mouth.

“We are not astonished that these defendants have been acquitted. This trial is one of hundreds in which the criminals have been protected, even though the evidence against them is both clear and strong.  The indictment stated that the office shown in the footage was found, and all the evidence in the news reports, seized.

“Six people were arrested in the process of the investigation, but they were all released by court order. Despite all of the evidence in its possession, the court acquitted the defendants on the grounds that there was no evidence.”

Turkey appears to be playing a dangerous cat and mouse game with the West. Arresting ISIS suspects in massive sweeps yet releasing them after dubiously rigorous trials.

The West, for its part has been content to look the other way for anumber of reasons, including the dependence of the West on Turkey, as well as other Middle Eastern regimes, for oil as well as political support.

Bombings, Assaults on Reporters, Mar Erdogan Visit

turkishBrookingsOn Thursday, March 31, 2016, a car bomb detonated beside a minibus carrying Turkish police officers in the city of Diyarbakir. Seven police officers were killed by the bomb and two dozen others were wounded. This marks another major car bomb in Turkey this year, as violence between government and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) forces increases.

Earlier today, April 1, 2016, the PKK took responsibility for the attack on the Turkish police forces. The PKK has been engaged in a brutal war with the Turkish government since 1984. The PKK has sought out an independent Kurdish state within Turkey, and the resulting conflict with the government has killed over 40,000 people. In 2013 a ceasefire was reached between the PKK and the Turkish government, but it was abandoned after the government began airstrikes against Kurdish positions in Iraq.

This bombing marks the second major bombing this month by Kurdish forces, and the fourth total this year. In February, two separate bombs targeting Turkish security forces killed 34 and wounded another 64. Both explosives targeted military convoys traveling through Ankara and Southeast Turkey, respectively. Earlier in March, Ankara was again targeted after a car bomb detonated besides a row of buses. The blast killed 36 and injured 127. It was originally believed both these attacks were carried out by the PKK, but both were later claimed by the Kurdish Freedom Falcons (TAK).

Soon after the bombing, Turkish forces began to target PKK positions in Northern Iraq with airstrikes. Turkish warplanes targeted the Zap and Metina regions that were home to Kurdish strongholds. There have been no further reports of the casualties as result of these attacks.

This attack on Turkish forces comes just a day before Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was set to visit the Southeast portion of Turkey, which is primarily made up of Kurds. The Erdogan regime, who PM Davutoglu serves, have been highly criticized by the Turkish people, as well as the Kurds, for severe civil rights abuses. The Erdogan regime has also linked the heavy restrictions on civil liberties to Kurdish protests in the Southeast, but it is not a point to forget that it was the same regime that instigated further violence between the Turkish government and the Kurds. The PKK may have been trying to keep PM Davutoglu out of the portion of the government heavily dominated by Kurds, so they attacked police forces in the area.

The bombing also correlated with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the Brookings Institute, where he was to speak on the future of Turkey. While President Erdogan was to speak on challenges he would face in his own country, he faced another challenge when he arrived at the building. Kurdish and Turkish Americans lined the street opposite Brookings to protest the appearance of Erdogan. Erdogan’s security detail even aggressively targeted some of the protestors and journalists attempting to report on the speech. The security detail even attempted to forcibly remove a Turkish reporter already in the event, only to be blocked by an American security officer.

The current unrest in Turkey will continue to create a perfect atmosphere for the Islamic State (IS) to attack or move through the country. Earlier in March, IS struck Istanbul for the second time this year, killing four and wounding another 36. While Turkey focuses on suppressing the Kurds, it is allowing for other terrorist groups to make its way into its borders.

Erdogan and his regime currently face a growing conflict with the Kurds, but through the heavy-handed response to criticism and increased authoritarianism, he risks political unrest amongst the general Turkish population, including secularists and other regime opponents at a time when the security situation in Turkey is continuing to deteriorate.

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Chaos erupts between Turkish security and protesters, journalists ahead of presidential speech

Brookings Institute Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Bennett, center right, discusses the removal of a journalist from the auditorium before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks. (AP)

Brookings Institute Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Bennett, center right, discusses the removal of a journalist from the auditorium before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks. (AP)

Fox  News, March 31, 2016:

Security personnel for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan clashed Thursday morning with protesters and journalists in Washington, DC, at one point physically throwing a woman to the sidewalk, according to tweets containing photos, videos and witness accounts.

Erdogan was scheduled to speak in the afternoon at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C. But before the Turkish leader even showed up, protesters calling the Turkish leader a “baby-killer” and “war criminal” already had gathered out front of the Dupont Circle thinktank.

Also on the scene were supporters of Erdogan, at least one Secret Service agent, District police and the Turkish security personnel. A DC police spokesperson told FoxNews.com that officers already were on the scene to assist with security outside the event and no calls had been placed for their assistance. As of 12:15 p.m. ET, no arrests had been made, the spokesperson said.

When protesters tried crossing the street to move closer to Brookings, DC police officers blocked traffic and separated them from Turkish security, according to Foreign Policy. A Secret Service agent standing nearby was overheard saying “the situation is a bit out of control.”

A shoving match occurred later between a Turkish security official and another person, who appeared to be a Brookings Institute worker, Foreign Policy magazine’s website reported. Turkish security allegedly “scolded” a Foreign Policy reporter and others holding cameras and one cameraman was “chased across the street by Turkish guards,” according to Foreign Policy.

An AFP reporter tweeted that “Turkish security outside Brookings just kicked an American reporter.” Later, the reporter tweeted that the Turkish bodyguards tried getting an “accredited reporter expelled” from the speech.

Amberin Zaman, a columnist and Public Policy Scholar for The Wilson Center, was among those caught in the confrontation. She tweeted a picture of one of Erdogan’s guards saying he had called her a “PKK whore” after being pushed away from the building.

The Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê, the Turkish name of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, is one of the main political opponents to Erdogan. Zaman says comments like that are indicative of the kind of political persecution freelance journalists have been facing in Turkey under Erdogan’s administration.

Asked about the reported violence outside the Brookings Institute, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes stressed a “respect for independent journalism” but noted that he didn’t “know the circumstances of what took place.”

“The U.S. strongly supports freedom of the press, media in every country, including Turkey,” Rhodes said.

The Brookings Institute tweeted about the situation just after 12:30 p.m.: “To clarify, many have gathered outside, where police are monitoring the situation. The event has not yet begun.”

A spokesperson for the Brookings Institute told FoxNews.com “I can’t talk right now, thank you,” and hung up when reached by phone. The Turkish Embassy indicated it was not taking media inquiries.

Erdogan was invited to the Brookings Institute to speak about Turkey’s role in global politics and the issues the country faces as Turkey approaches its 100th anniversary in 2023.

Foxnews.com’s Danny Jativa and Cody Derespina contributed to this report.

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Muslim Brotherhood expert Kyle Shideler’s use of the word “milestone” is an amusing reference to Sayyid Qutb’s book ‘Milestones” in which he promotes a method of civilization jihad through progressive revelation or gradualism.

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