Turks celebrate 1964 napalm bombing of Cyprus

Cyprus is Turkish, after all. Turks can do whatever they want there. They can even celebrate dropping napalm on Greeks and slaughtering them. 

Israel National News, by Uzay Bulut, Aug. 15, 2017:

On August 8, Muslim Turkish Cypriots and illegal settlers from Turkey celebrated the 53rd anniversary of Turkey’s napalm bombing of Greek Cypriot civilians in the Turkish-occupied enclave of Kokkina in Cyprus. Mustafa Akıncı, the president of the self-styled “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (TRNC), which is recognized only by Turkey, also participated in the celebrations.

In August 1964, Turkish warplanes dropped napalm bombs on Kokkina in the Tillyria peninsula, hitting residential areas and a hospital, and killing more than 50 people, including 19 civilians. Ten years later, in 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus and has occupied almost 40 percent of the island ever since.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece issued a note of condemnation regarding the celebrations:

“We are dismayed to note the celebrations of the Turkish Cypriot leadership, including Mr. Akinci himself, of the 53rd anniversary of the use of chemical weapons and dropping of napalm bombs by the Turkish air force on the Tillyria peninsula. This was the first use of banned chemical weapons in the history of our planet.

“Today, when the whole planet bows to the victims of wars and such hostile acts, the holding of and participation in such celebrations is an affront to international law, to the memory of the fallen, and to the whole of humanity.”

The Republic of Cyprus declared independence in 1960. Afterwards, Turkey escalated its preparations to invade the island, which included but were not limited to establishing a bridgehead at Kokkina in 1964 and smuggling arms and fighters from Turkey into the area in order to strengthen Turkish positions there.

According to the High Commission of the Republic of Cyprus in London,
“When in August 1964 the [Cypriot] Government attempted to contain the Kokkina bridgehead, Turkey’s air force bombed the National Guard and neighboring Greek villages with napalm and threatened to invade. The other major purpose served by the enclaves was the political and physical separation of the two communities.”

Another preparation for the occupation by Turkey was its disguised violent attacks against Turkish Cypriots to further escalate inter-communal conflicts and alienate Turkish-speaking Cypriots from Greek Cypriots.

General Sabri Yirmibeşoğlu, a Turkish army officer, for example, said in televised comments in 2010 that Turkey burned a ‎mosque during the Cyprus conflict “in order to foster civil resistance” against Greeks on the islandand that “The Turkish special warfare department has a rule to engage in acts of sabotage against respected values [of Turks] made to look as if they ‎were carried out by the enemy.”

The deadly military assault against Kokkina in 1964 is celebrated by many Turkish Cypriots and settlers from Turkey as the “8 August Erenköy Resistance Day.” Turks now call Kokkina “Erenköy,” Turkish for “the village of the [Islamic] saints.”

In 2014, for example, the community leader of Kato Pyrgos, Costas Michaelides, condemned the formal Turkish celebrations in Kokkina, describing them as a “disgrace.” “The memories are alive because the victims, those who survived, are here. The crosses [on the graves] are here. However, many years pass, 50 or 150, we will see this in our daily lives, because they remind us of this cowardly attack against the unarmed people of Tylliria,” he said.

The Turkish narrative does not deny the smuggling of arms and fighters to Cyprus in 1964; the problem is Turks do not view these acts as illegal activities or crimes against the Republic of Cyprus. They see them as “heroism.”

During the celebrations on August 8, Mehmet Kadı, the mayor of Yeni Erenköy (Yialousa), said:
“53 days ago, today, in August 1964, the villagers, students and our mujahedeen [jihadists] struggled together, fought for this land and did not allow the enemy to enter here.”

The enemy that Kadı referred to is the Republic of Cyprus and Greek Cypriots, the natives of the island who still comprised the majority in the northern part of Cyprus back then.

The Turkish Cypriot Minister of Economy and Energy, Sunat Atun, also issued a statement regarding “the Erenkoy resistance” and referred to it as “an act of heroism.”

“Turkish Cypriot people engaged in powerful and honorable resistance in the face of the inhumane attacks by the dual of the Rum [ethnic Greeks] and Greece. About 500 students from Anatolia and a group of Turkish Cypriots from Britain started landing in Cyprus to defend their homeland when attacks against Turkish Cypriots escalated in 1964.”

Mustafa Arıkan, the head of the Erenköy Mujahedeen [Jihadists] Association, also announced that during the commemoration, “for the first time, family members of 28 martyrs were given plaques.”

On July 20, 1974, Turkey mounted a bloody invasion of the island. The second Turkish offensive, codenamed Attila 2, took place between August 14-18. The invasion was accompanied by the mass murder of Greek Cypriot civilians, including women, and infants, unlawful arrests and torture of Greek Cypriots, and rapes of Greek Cypriot children and women, among other atrocities.

Zenon Rossides, the then-Cyprus representative to the United Nations, sent a letter on 6 December 1974 to the UN Secretary General, which said in part that Turkey “launched a full scale aggressive attack against Cyprus, a small non-aligned and virtually defenseless country, possessing no air force, no navy and no army except for a small national guard. Thus, Turkey’s overwhelming military machine embarked upon an armed attack including napalm bombing of open towns and villages, wreaking destruction, setting forests on fire and spreading indiscriminate death and human suffering to the civilian population of the island.”

The greatest consequence of the invasion was that Turkey changed the demographic structure of the northern part of the island, terrorizing around 200,000 indigenous Greek Cypriot majority population (more than one-third of the population) into fleeing to the southern part of the island.  It is estimated that more than 100,000 Turkish settlers have been implanted in northern Cyprus since then. Lands and houses belonging to Greek Cypriots were then distributed to Turkish Cypriots and to Turks brought from Turkey to settle in those areas.

Turkish supremacists act so blatantly in Cyprus because they claim Cyprus is a Turkish island. Thus, bringing in Turkish fighters to Cyprus to kill Greek Cypriots, importing tens of thousands of settlers from Turkey, deploying around 40,000 Turkish soldiers there, forcibly changing the demographics of the island, seizing the homes and other property of Greek Cypriots, and wiping out the island’s historic Hellenic and Christian identity through the destruction of its cultural heritage are all legitimate acts according to the Turkish narrative.

Cyprus is Turkish, after all. Turks can do whatever they want there. They can even celebrate dropping napalm on and slaughtering Greeks.
Employing Orwellian rhetoric, Turkey calls the military invasion of Cyprus “a peace operation.” In 1974, Kemalists and Islamists of all political parties supported the invasion of Cyprus. Moreover, Turkey does not recognize Cyprus as a Greek island or even as “a nation.”

According to the official website of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Cyprus has never been a Greek Island. It is both useful and important to keep in mind that there has never been in Cyprus a ‘Cypriot nation’ due to the distinct national, religious and cultural characteristics of each ethnic people who, in addition, speak different languages.”

The Turkish ministry cannot be more wrong. Never until the Turkish invasion in 1974 did the northern part of the island have a Turkish majority. Both the north and south of the island were majority-Greek and majority-Christian until 1974. “Cyprus has been a part of the Greek world as far back as can be attested by recorded history,” writes the author Constantine Tzanos.

“After the collapse of the Byzantine Empire and the defeat of the Venetians, it fell to Ottoman rule from 1571 to 1878. In 1878 it was placed under British administration, was annexed by Britain in 1914, and in 1925 became a British colony.”

However, the Cyprus question has been one of the key aspects of the Turkish foreign policy for a very long time. Actually, Cyprus has never ceased to be a “national cause” for Turks ever since the Ottomans first invaded it in 1571. A Muslim sovereign is not allowed to relinquish land once it has been conquered. And they can even celebrate their war crimes and murders.

Showing no regard for the sufferings of Greek Cypriots, many Turkish Cypriots and their leaders – including Mustafa Akıncı – have celebrated the deadly assaults on their Greek neighbors. But a community leader who genuinely aims for a peaceful resolution and coexistence in Cyprus would condemn the use of napalm bombs on unarmed civilians and the destruction of that part of the island, and would commemorate the Greek Cypriot victims as well.

Sadly, Turkish Cypriots’ celebrations of the brutal warfare against Greek Cypriot civilians have discredited all of their erstwhile statements that they support a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the island and justice for all its inhabitants.

Is Turkey Preparing for War with America?

Front Page Magazine, by Daniel Greenfield, July 25, 2017:

Turkey is an Islamist Venezuela with money. Its slow transformation into a Sunni Iran complete with terror backing and suppression of domestic dissent, the latest via a fake coup, was aided and abetted by the left-wing diplomatic corps.

Despite its latest information leaks revealing the presence of US forces to its Jihadist allies, it remains a member of NATO. The question is for how long.

Turkey has made progress in plans to procure an S-400 missile defense system from Russia and signatures have been signed, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

“Steps have been taken and signatures signed with Russia concerning the S-400s. Allah willing we will see the S-400s in our country,” Erdogan told lawmakers from his ruling AK Party at a party meeting in parliament.

That would give Turkey something else in common with Iran.

Why would a NATO member want the S-400? Why, for that matter, does Turkey need it all? Whom is it expecting a possible attack from. Iran wanted Russian air defense systems to ward off an attempt to take out its nuclear weapons program by either America or Israel. Turkey isn’t seriously expecting a strike by Israel. That leaves America or some European countries. The latter is also less likely.

The S-400 won’t integrate into NATO so Turkey isn’t counting on long-term membership. Erdogan may announce a departure from NATO. Even if he doesn’t, he’s making it clear that he views potential enemies as being either in NATO or American allies, whether it’s Israel or America. But the most obvious message here is to the United States. And the message has multiple levels.

Erdogan is telegraphing that he’s going to begin moving Turkey into territory that would involve the risk of an air strike. That will mean an intensification of the current tyranny. It will mean increasing backing for Islamic terrorists. And possibly, WMD programs.

Those Hillary high fives with Erdogan’s minion really look good now. And Obama’s lectures about how Turkey ought to be a model for moderate Islamic rule even better.

Turkey Exposed US Base Locations to ISIS

Front Page Magazine, by Daniel Greenfield, July 19, 2017:

The latest case for why the United States cannot and should not be a member of any military alliance that includes an Islamic terror state. In this case, we have one Islamic terror state passing information to another Islamic terror state against an infidel enemy.

Our “Turkish allies” against Islamic terror are as trustworthy as our “Pakistani allies” were. 

In the latest display of Turkish anger at U.S. policy in Syria, the state news agency has divulged the locations of 10 U.S. military bases and outposts in northern Syria where the U.S. is leading an operation to destroy the so-called Islamic State in its self-styled capital of Raqqa.

The list published by the Anadolu news agency points to a U.S. presence from one end to the other of the Kurdish self-administration region—a distance of more than 200 miles. The Anadolu news agency even listed the number of U.S. troops in several locations and in two instances stipulated the presence of French special forces.

Although Turkey’s powerful president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, regularly vents his anger at the U.S., it is still highly unusual for a NATO ally to reveal details of a U.S. military deployment during active operations in a war zone.

The publication is certain to spark ire in the U.S. military, which is leading the operation against ISIS.

Spokesmen for Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS, and for the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida, asked The Daily Beast not to publish the detailed information reported by Anadolu.

“The discussion of specific troop numbers and locations would provide sensitive tactical information to the enemy which could endanger Coalition and partner forces,” wrote Col. Joe Scrocca, coalition director of public affairs.

“Publishing this type of information would be professionally irresponsible and we respectively [sic] request that you refrain from disseminating any information that would put Coalition lives in jeopardy.”

But that was Turkey’s goal.

Once upon a time, Turkey had a free press. Successive crackdowns by the Islamic terror regime of Erdogan has eliminated a free press. The Anadolu Agency these days churns out Erdogan’s Great Leader propaganda. It’s part of the government media and it’s highly likely that this would not have been published without government prompting.

The United States should take steps to punish Turkey for endangering our national security. The question is can such measures get past Tillerson and McMaster? Or will we keep mouthing empty nonsense that the Turkish Islamic terror state is our ally.

Red Lines in Syria

Front Page Magazine, by Kenneth  R. Timmerman, July 19, 2017:

Suleymania, Iraq – With Saturday’s bombing of Afrin, a town controlled by America’s Kurdish allies in northern Syria, Turkey appears to have crossed a line.

Turkish artillery pounded the Ashrafiyeh neighborhood near the city center as well as surrounding villages. Reports from the region said the Turkish attack killed five civilians, including an entire family that was buried alive in their own home, and damaged dozens of homes.

“This is considered the first targeting of the city since the start of Turkish preparations” to expand military operations in Northwest Syria last month, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Turkish attacks were not directed against ISIS or against any other Islamist group. The Turks targeted Afrin because it has become a key political hub for the Democratic Union Party of Syria, the YPD, which Turkey accuses of being part of the PKK.

I spoke with Asya Abdallah Osman, the co-president of the YPD, on the sidelines of a conference both of us were attending in Iraqi Kurdistan. She was visibly shaken when she called home and learned details about the civilian casualties in Afrin.

“We have been fighting [ISIS] because we as women do not want to be subjected to their inhumanity. But we need your help,” she said, meaning the United States. “We need no other. This is war and people are dying. It won’t be resolved by politics, only by hard power.”

She swept aside the Turkish allegations that the regional government of the YPD, and its associated militia, known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG), were controlled by the PKK, or that the PKK was using YPD territory to launch attacks into Turkey.

“We are an independent political party that belongs to Syria and to the Kurds. If the PKK has come to Syria, it’s because Turkey has forced them to come,” she said.

Turkey has long accused the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, or fighting a terrorist war against it, but also has been willing to negotiate with PKK leaders when it felt it could reach a deal to curtail the violence.

After Turkey violated a 2013 truce negotiated in Oslo that called for the PKK to remove its fighters from Turkey into northern Iraq, the PKK relocated remaining fighters into the Kurdish areas in Syria, known as Rojava.

Like most Kurds, Ms. Osman believes Turkey and its allies in the region do not want to see a successful democratic self-governing region in northern Syria, because it would encourage their own Kurds to seek greater autonomy.

“They accuse us of not being democratic, but we have allowed all political and ethnic groups to have representatives in the regional government. Our project is for all of Syria, not just Kurds,” she told me.

Ms. Osman traveled to Northern Iraq in a group of 65 Syrian Kurdish activists, representing nearly twenty political groups.

Normally, they would have entered Iraq via a pontoon bridge over the Tigris River at Semalka, in an area that has escaped the current fighting.

But the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq closed the border recently, forcing the Syrian pro-democracy delegates to make a dangerous 16-hour trek by foot across the only other border crossing into Iraq near Mount Sinjar, which is controlled by Iranian-backed Shiite militias.

“There is no Kurdish Regional Government,” Ms. Osman said dismissively. “There is only the KDP,” the Kurdish Democratic Party, dominated by President Massoud Barzani and his family.

She and other Kurdish activists at the weekend conference believe that Turkey pressured the Barzanis to close the Semalka border crossing in order to further isolate them. “Semulka is our only gate to the outside world,” she said. “When it is shut, we are closed off.”

She attributed claims that the YPD and its militia were controlled by the PKK to Turkish propaganda. “Of course, we have dialogue with other Kurdish parties, including the PKK. So do most Kurdish groups in the region. But we run our party and our administration ourselves. We elect our own officials and they take orders from no one.”

Indeed, I only learned after the conference that a member of the PKK central committee had attended the weekend event, sponsored by the Kurdistan National Congress, where three hundred delegates from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey strategized over a future Kurdish state or confederation.

There were few references to the PKK by the speakers, and the PKK central committeeman himself never spoke. The final declaration of the conference makes no mention of the PKK.

Both President Trump and Secretary of Defense Mattis have warned Turkey not to attack America’s Kurdish allies in Syria. Turkey has blithely ignored those admonishments until now.

Less than a month after President Trump at the White House personally rejected Erdogan’s demand that the U.S. drop support for the Syrian Kurds, Turkey began moving troops to encircle Afrin, the political capital of the Syrian Kurdish region, and other Kurdish controlled areas.

After Turkey started to attack YPG positions in late June, Secretary of Defense James Mattis upped the ante by declaring that the United States might allow the Kurdish group to keep U.S. supplied weapons after the battle for Raqqa to smash ISIS was over.

Some of Erdogan’s erstwhile political allies believe he Erdogan is playing a dangerous game.

Even before the Turkish attacks on civilians over the weekend, former Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis, who helped found Erdogan’s ruling AKP party, counseled against attacking the Syrian Kurds.

“The best course would be to negotiate a deal with the Syrian Kurds, persuade them not to attempt to change the ethnic composition of the region, and establish – preferably in cooperation with the Syrian government – a multi-ethnic, multi-confessional democratic administration,” Yakis wrote in a column for Arab News.

That is precisely the project Ms. Osman and the YPD have been proposing.

Erdogan showed his arrogance in Washington when he calmly observed his bodyguards cross a Capitol Police barrier in May to viciously bludgeon opposition protestors with truncheons.

But by putting his forces in a position where they could potentially clash with U.S. military units assisting the YPG and the Syrian Democratic Forces, Erdogan has shown a reckless side as well.

Turkey has been warned twice. Will Afrin prove to be the third strike for Erdogan in Syria?

‘Turkey’s 9/11’: One Year Later, Turkish Embassy Uses Coup Anniversary to Target Gulen

Adelle Nazarian/Breitbart News

Breitbart, by Adelle Nazarian, July 15, 2017:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C. held a press conference to observe the one year anniversary of the failed coup that left nearly 250 people dead and thousands more injured.

Serdar Kilic, the Turkish Ambassador to the United States, described the failed coup as “Turkey’s 9/11.”

One year ago, he said, “members of the Fethullah Gulen terrorist organization” attempted to seize power from the Turkish government. “It was not a military coup, but the worst terrorist attack in the history of Turkish government,” he added, claiming, “There’s a general consensus in Turkey that Fethullah Gulen and his disciples were behind this heinous event. His desire to take control of the Turkish state was not secret in Turkey.”

The Turkish government has blamed Gulen, a U.S.-based cleric who runs a charter school network, for the assassination of the Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov in Ankara as well as the failed coup and a number of terrorist incidents. Erdogan’s government has taken legal action against 169,000 people since last year’s failed coup, which includes 50,000 individuals who were arrested, among them were 24 Governors and 169 Generals.

Breitbart News reported that “Independent data shows that 138,148 people have lost their government jobs at the national and local levels as a result of a post-coup purge by Erdogan.”

The nation’s secular opposition has galvanized against reforms that greatly expanded the government’s reach into citizens’ daily lives since the coup attempt. Last Sunday, a 25-day march for justice to end the state of emergency and express opposition to Erdogan wound down in Istanbul, with over 1.5 million people attending the closing event.

Turkey has been in a state of emergency since July 15, 2016. “All of these events are taken in complete transparency,” Ambassador Kilic claimed, citing a survey that he alleged proved 87.4 percent of the Turkish people say that the state of emergency did not affect their daily lives.”

The embassy featured a three-dimensional recreation of the failed Turkish coup.

Photos: Adelle Nazarian/Breitbart News

While the Turkish government has placed the blame squarely on Gulen, Turkish citizens and regional experts hold a variety of opinions on the matter.

“We think Gulen’s behind it,” Okan Altiparmak, 56, a filmmaker and an editor for the website Muslim World Today who lives in Turkey, told Breitbart News in a Skype interview early Saturday morning. “However, it appears that the Turkish government knew what was going to happen and decided to take advantage of it politically. They allowed it to happen to a certain extent and exploited it for political advantage.” He noted that “there are certainly elements that show that Gulenists were behind the attempted coup” and added, “the way I judge the coup was through the military victims in the Sledge Hammer case.”

Altiparmak said he has “no doubt” that Gulen infiltrated the Turkish government, headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “They are also very active in the AKP, the ruling party.” However, he said Erdogan’s government “ha[s] not gone after the political arm of the Gulenist movement because it does not benefit Erdogan. Even the justice minister is a Gulenist.”

Altiparmak nonetheless pushed back against the ambassador’s statement about evidence, saying, “I have a friend in the U.S. consulate here. He said it’s all junk what the AKP presented them with. I believe the AKP does not want Gulen to come to Turkey.”

American officials have said they have found no evidence linking Gulen to the coup. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told Fox News’s Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, “I haven’t seen the evidence for that, that Gülen was involved in anything like that [the failed coup attempt].”

Last August, the AFP reported, “Turkey has submitted four extradition requests for the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen but offered no evidence tying him to last month’s failed coup, a senior US official said Wednesday.”

In March, the UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee (FCO) issued a report that stated, “There is a relative lack of hard, publicly-available evidence to prove that the Gulenists as an organization were responsible for the coup attempt in Turkey.” It added, “While there is evidence to indicate that some individual Gulenists were involved, it is mostly anecdotal or circumstantial, sometimes premised on information from confessions or informants, and is – so far – inconclusive in relation to the organization as a whole or its leadership.”

At the embassy event, Kilic expressed some frustration with the fact that Gulen has not yet been extradited to Turkey from the U.S. “It’s not moving as fast as the Turkish government would like it to move and there should be a legal case for extraditing him,” he said. “We have enough information to lead to his extraction.”

Akeel Abbas, a professor from Iraq who teaches at the American University of Iraq in Kurdistan, told Breitbart News that he is skeptical that Gulen was behind the failed Turkish coup. “It is not true probably,” he said, taking on a similar view to Altiparmak who believes the Turkish government had prior knowledge about the attempted coup.

Abbas noted his belief that “since the coup, Erdogan has actually been purging more Gulenists because it’s a state of emergency, so he suspended parts of the Constitution.” He added, “since the referendum vote took place in April, he can now appoint the top judges without going through parliament” due to his increased power. “Now he doesn’t even need to state of emergency and can use his constitutional powers.”

“Gulen and Erdogan were once close,” Abbas, who is Kurdish, said. “Gulen was at one point in allegiance with Erdogan. He helped Erdogan a lot, actually. Both were Islamists and are still Islamists.” He noted his view that “Gulen has a view about Islam that is, historically, reformist and he still continues to be a reformist. But when Gulen saw that Erdogan had turned autocratic, they parted ways. Erdogan became increasingly dictatorial. He had large popular support and the economy was booming and so he started cracking down on the Gulen movement and shutting down his schools and traditional bastions of power.”

He described Gulen as “a different version of the Muslim Brotherhood and CAIR. His target is the United States before Turkey, I believe,” he said, expressing his belief that Gulen’s charter schools are decoys to spread and indoctrinate youth.

During his talk Friday, Ambassador Kilic read some quotes he attributed to Gulen before showing a video clip of him saying those words:

In his own words, his instructions to his followers as early as the 1980s were, and I quote, ‘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… You must wait until such time as you have gotten all the state power… Until that time, any step taken would be too early – like breaking an egg without waiting the full 40 days for it to hatch. It would be like killing the chick inside.’

Inside the Turkish embassy, several young Turkish men, of millennial age, were helping as volunteers with the virtual reality booth. Erdogan is quite popular among the youth in his country.

Gorkam Kaziltas, 19, who supports Erdogan, told Breitbart News he was in Istanbul at the time of the coup. He said of those who attempted to carry out the coup, “they are some Gulen people who infiltrated and are using the Turkish military clothes” because Gulen has “access and power” in Turkey.

Adelle Nazarian is a politics and national security reporter for Breitbart News. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Also see:

Analysis: Following the Qatar “Deal”

In this July 11, 2017, photo, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani sign a memorandum of understanding in Doha, Qatar. (Alexander W. Riedel/U.S. State Department via AP)

Security Studies Group, by Dr. Brad Patty, July 13, 2017:

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt imposed a blockade on the nation of Qatar recently because of Qatar’s relationship with a number of terrorist and terror-supporting entities.  These nations demanded that Qatar adhere to a 13-point plan if the blockade was to be lifted.  The 13 points include some very important steps, but also some steps that no sovereign nation could ever agree to, as they would effectively make Qatar subordinate to the other nations.

The matter is important to the United States because we have major military installations in Qatar, as well as treaties that could shatter our alliance with the Gulf states if Qatar should end up at war with those states.  That would profit Iran, chief of all, as it would disrupt the alliance opposing Iranian attempts at regional hegemony.  (For a fuller background, see SSG’s earlier posts here and also here.)

This week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson flew to both Qatar and Saudi Arabia to try to resolve the crisis.  He was not successful.  He did obtain a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU) with Qatar that the Saudis apparently rejected.  (Here is Qatar’s own Al Jazeera on the topic.)  This MOU is not a treaty or a deal, but it is a commitment to terms that Qatar would accept if others accepted them.  The Saudis apparently didn’t find the terms acceptable, but since the United States signed the MOU as well as Qatar, the Saudis will likely propose new terms that incorporate the MOU but ask for a bit more.  This is diplomacy as deal-making, very much the way the Trump administration views diplomacy.

So, how to know if the final deal is a good one from the perspective of the United States?  Resolving the crisis on any terms defuses the bomb threatening to blow up our regional alliances, but not every such deal is going to address America’s core interests.  Our interests are not the same as those of any of the Arab nations, though some of them overlap.  Thus, it is not necessary to obtain a deal that forces Qatar to submit to the whole 13 point proposal.  A deal that compromises by allowing Qatar to retain its sovereignty, while obtaining the parts of the 13 points that are American interests, is acceptable.

There are really only two things that America needs to insist upon.

  1. A complete end to support for terrorism.  The MOU is supposed to have obtained some Qatari commitments on this score, but the exact terms are not known.  It is easy to say what acceptable terms would be, however.  The terms are acceptable if and only if they commit Qatar to opposing all terrorism, rather than allowing Qatar to retain certain favored terrorists.  Some of the groups are favorites of Iran, like Hezbollah.  The Qataris might wish to keep up good relations with Iran by allowing Hezbollah to continue to operate.  There may be other groups whose terrorist activities Qatar would like to overlook in order to maintain what it considers to be a useful relationship.

    That won’t do.  All terrorist groups must be included.  The 13 points contains a list of groups Qatar has worked with that should serve as a minimum rather than a maximum.  No terror support of any kind is tolerable.  We won’t know how good the deal is on this point until its terms are known.  Secretary Tillerson at least sounds like he knows that this is important in his public statements.  “The US has one goal: to drive terrorism off the face of the Earth,” Tillerson said, adding: “The president said every country has an absolute duty to make sure that terrorists find no sanctuary on their soil.”  We as citizens can judge whether he truly understands based on whether he allowed Qatar to carve out exceptions for some of the groups it has been hosting and financing.

  2. The second thing we must obtain is victory on breaking Qatari relations with Iran.  Iran has been making a major play to become the dominant power in the region since obtaining a de facto alliance with Russia in 2015.  This occurred immediately after the agreement to the “Iran Deal” on nuclear weapons, which gave Russia renewed confidence that Iran could be a major player on the world stage.  Russia subsequently deployed military forces to Syria alongside Iran following meetings in Moscow between Russia’s military leadership and Iran’s top unconventional warfare leader, Qassem Suleimani, head of Iran’s elite Quds Force.

    This Russian-Iranian axis is seeking to peel Qatar off from the alliance represented by the blockading nations.  Iran has been providing aid and support to Qatar during the blockade, as has Turkey.  Turkey is a US NATO ally, but that nation has been trending toward the Russian axis as its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has slipped towards dictatorial rule.  The moves accelerated following the abortive coup attempt against Erdoğan, which he blamed on an opposition movement hosted by the United States.  Turkey’s role in supporting Qatar thus has to be read as a play at least friendly to the Russian/Iranian axis in the Middle East.  If Qatar can be pulled the rest of the way in, so that it becomes aligned with Iran rather than the Gulf Cooperation Council, Iran will have won a major strategic victory in its efforts to become the local hegemony.

    Those are really the only two things that the United States needs from Qatar.  If an American-backed deal obtains those two things, while also resolving the crisis with the blockading nations, it is a big win for the United States.  Anything less than that is going to be harmful to American interests in small ways or large.

Dr. Patty advised US Army units in Iraq on information operations as part of more than a decade’s involvements in America’s wars. His work has received formal commendations from the 30th Heavy Brigade, the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, the 3rd Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division. Dr. Patty holds his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Georgia.

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Saudi Game of Thrones: King Appoints Son Crown Prince After Power Struggle

Saudi Interior Ministry via AP

Breitbart, by John Hayward, June 22, 2017:

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz made a surprise announcement on Wednesday morning that his son Mohammed bin Salman, 31, would become the new crown prince of the kingdom.

As it happens, Saudi Arabia already had a Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Nayef. Nayef is over 25 years senior to Mohammed bin Salman and was also the deputy prime minister and interior minister of Saudi Arabia. He was stripped of all these positions at once.

He appeared to handle his demotion quite well, having no doubt seen the writing on the wall ever since Salman became deputy crown prince. “I am content,” said Nayef to his replacement, as quoted by Al Jazeera. “I am going to rest now. May God help you.”

To the dismay of the Western world, Nayef was considered one of the most pro-American of the Saudi royal family. He received counterterrorism training from the FBI and Scotland Yard in the eighties, maintained good relations with U.S. officials, and was instrumental as both an operational leader and spokesman in the Saudi war against al-Qaeda after 9/11.

His commitment to fighting the terrorist group did not waver after a 2009 suicide bomb attack against him. The CIA was sufficiently impressed with his work to give him a counterterrorism medal in February, personally awarded by CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

The new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been nicknamed “Mr. Everything” because he has been put in charge of just about everything in Saudi Arabia. He was the chief architect of the “Saudi Vision 2030” plan intended to make his country less dependent on oil money, a plan regarded as the biggest change to the Saudi economy in the country’s history.

Nayef, on the other hand, has been nicknamed “The Prince of Darkness” because of his role in Saudi intelligence. Saudi dissidents find nothing whimsical about the nickname, as they blame Nayef for using the al-Qaeda crackdown as a pretext for imprisoning the politically inconvenient.

The Saudi Vision 2030 plan put Mr. Everything at the helm of some $2 trillion in overseas investments on the reasonable proposition that breaking the country’s dependence on oil would involve buying a tremendous amount of stock in companies that do not sell oil and are not headquartered in Saudi Arabia. Among his many duties, Salman is the chairman of the national oil company, Saudi Aramco – the first member of the royal family to have such a direct role in managing the all-important corporation.

Mohammed bin Salman was popular when the reform program was launched, and he remains popular today. The UK Daily Mail notes that Saudi Arabia’s enormous youth population sees him as a rock star, a symbol of hope and prosperity for the future.

The Daily Mail floats rumors that Salman and Nayef were engaged in a fairly bitter power struggle behind the scenes, and it might not be over yet, even after the king moved to resolve it in Salman’s favor before his death. The deciding factor might simply have been that the king likes Salman better, and is impressed by his charisma, erudition, and 16-hour-day work ethic.

Another advantage to Salman is that his youth and energy suggest a certain stability for Saudi Arabia for decades to come. The previous king, Abdullah, was the world’s oldest monarch at the time of his death in early 2015 at age 90; King Salman is currently 81. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman puts a younger face on the monarchy and might well end up occupying the throne for five decades.

Middle East Eye cites analysts who say the king wanted to reassure Western governments, regional allies, and business partners there would be “continuity in foreign and economic policies.” There was evidently very little confidence that Nayef would have offered such continuity.

Also, Middle East Eye observes that Nayef had a testy relationship with a crucial Saudi ally, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, while Salman and Zayed have become close friends.

Most intriguingly, a Saudi citizen told MEE that President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia played a role in reshaping the monarchy, as King Salman took the occasion to convince Trump the new crown prince is “the right horse to back” despite Nayef’s favorable reputation in Washington.

The monarchy moved quickly to secure Salman in his new position, announcing that 31 of 34 royals supporting his ascension and arranging a meeting in Mecca for them to formally pledge allegiance within a matter of hours. The senior Islamic council swiftly endorsed the decision, followed by welcomes from the leaders of Saudi Arabia’s Sunni Muslim allies. The Saudi stock market added its congratulations by climbing over five and a half percent.

Some other Middle Eastern powers were less enthusiastic about the shift in Saudi leadership. Iranian state media grumbled that Crown Prince Salman’s ascension was a “soft coup” in which the “son becomes the successor of the father,” which would seem to betray a fundamental Iranian misunderstanding of how hereditary monarchy works.

Reuters suggests Iran correctly sees Salman’s ascension as a sign of more aggressive Saudi policy toward Tehran and its projects, such as the Houthi rebellion in Yemen and whatever the Qatari royal family has been up to for the past decade. Nayef’s focus was on al-Qaeda, while Salman has been an outspoken enemy of Iran, supporter of Saudi intervention in Yemen, and critic of Qatar. In fact, he is seen as one of the prime movers behind Saudi Arabia’s decision to isolate Qatar.

The Saudis will probably let Iran’s criticism roll off their backs, but Turkey is more problematic. The government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is fairly close to Nayef but still working on building a relationship with Salman. It is not going terribly well, as Salman has refused every Turkish invitation to visit Ankara since he was named deputy crown prince.

Erdogan has expressed support for Qatar, putting it at odds with one of Salman’s major policy initiatives, and he disagrees with Salman’s dim view of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Middle East Eye cites Turkey-watchers who foresee a potentially serious conflict between Erdogan and Salman over Turkey’s least favorite Middle Eastern faction, the Kurds. Either as a power play, or because he sincerely favors their cause, Salman may support the Kurds in Syria – which would inflame Turkish fears of the Kurds carving out chunks of Turkey, Syria, and Iraq to form an independent state. Turkish media is reportedly speculating that Salman will threaten to put Saudi Arabia’s chips on the Kurds unless Erdogan backs away from supporting Qatar.

CNN notes that if Salman does succeed his father, he will be the first Saudi king who is not the son of national founder Ibn Saud, who became King Abdul Aziz al-Saud. Naming Mohammed bin Salman as his heir allowed King Salman to reshape the line of succession for decades, and perhaps centuries, to come.

It also puts Saudi Arabia more firmly under the guidance of the most liberal leader it has ever had, with respect to everything from women’s rights to representative government. Granted, that’s a fairly low bar to clear in one of the world’s most repressive countries, but it’s good to see a future king trying to clear it at a moment when the United States is realigning Middle East policy back toward Saudi Arabia and its allies