Clare Lopez: Gulen and the Gulenist Movement

The United West, Feb. 4, 2018:

From May 10, 2016

Clare M. Lopez, Vice President for Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy, is the co-author of the recently published book “Gülen and the Gülenist Movement: Turkey’s Islamic Supremacist Cult and its Contributions to the Civilization Jihad.” Fethullah Gülen is the head of a vast political network in Turkey that promotes theocracy and has infiltrated the Turkish state. Gülen lives in the U.S. where he has established a significant number of charter schools. Her remarks included commentary on Gülen’s erstwhile ally, now opponent, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Lopez is a Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and a member of the Board of Advisors for the Canadian Mackenzie Institute. In 2016, she was named to Senator Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign national security advisory team. Since 2013, she has served as a member of the Citizens Commission on Benghazi. Formerly Vice President of the Intelligence Summit, she was a career operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, a professor at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies, Executive Director of the Iran Policy Committee from 2005-2006, and has served as a consultant, intelligence analyst, and researcher for a variety of defense firms. She was named a 2011 Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute. Already an advisor to EMP Act America, in February 2012 Ms. Lopez was named a member of the Congressional Task Force on National and Homeland Security, which focuses on the Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) threat to the nation. She serves as a member of the Boards of Advisors/Directors for the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, the United West, and the Voice of the Copts. She has been a Visiting Researcher and guest lecturer on counterterrorism, national defense, and international relations at Georgetown University.

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Clare Lopez talks Iran, Russia and Turkey, Gulen and the Muslim Brotherhood, Jan 30, 2018

Hayward: Free Syrian Army, Once the Great ‘Moderate’ Hope, Joins Turkey to Attack Kurds

Huseyin Nasir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Breitbart, by John Hayward, Feb. 6, 2018:

Turkey has conducted its “Operation Olive Branch” military incursion into Syria in concert with the Free Syrian Army, which has helped Turkish forces take control of several villages in the Afrin region.

This is an uncomfortable development for U.S. policymakers because both the Kurds and Free Syrian Army were considered battlefield allies of the United States in the war against the Islamic State, and the FSA was seen as the model white-hat rebel group when the Obama administration and intervention-minded Republicans were desperately seeing “moderate” forces in the Syrian rebellion to support.

In fact, as recently as last spring, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) strongly urged increased support for the Free Syrian Army as part of the U.S. strategy for stabilizing Syria while holding the regime of dictator Bashar Assad at bay.

McCain has long been prominent among those convinced the Free Syrian Army was America’s best bet for a terrorist-free moderate rebel group to arm and support, a step he felt the Obama administration was much too reluctant to take while Russia was busy shipping arms to the Syrian regime.

He made a surprise visit to the Turkey-Syria border in 2013 to meet with FSA leaders who wanted American heavy weapons, up to and including anti-aircraft weapons, and American air support against FSA adversaries such as Hezbollah. At the time, the FSA claimed to be running perilously low on munitions, which does not seem to be a problem now that they are fighting on Turkey’s behalf against the Kurds.

McCain has not responded well to contrary arguments about the FSA, as when he reportedly stormed out of the room during a 2014 presentation by Syrian Christians who said there were Islamist fighters among the FSA’s ranks.

There was a good deal of confusion surrounding support for the Free Syrian Army in the Obama administration, which occasionally seemed uncertain about what kind of support it was sending them. Critics complained effective support for moderate rebel groups was announced too late, after too much dithering, and was delivered too long after it was finally announced. The aid program that eventually materialized was an unserious disaster.

Whether reluctantly as with Obama, or eagerly as with McCain, plans for zero-footprint Syrian intervention kept circling back around to the Free Syrian Army, despite persistent warnings it contained some unlovely people and outright terrorists. One reason for this default support is that many of the other options for American support were Kurdish groups or members of Kurdish-dominated umbrella organizations, which was problematic because U.S. policymakers wanted to avoid conflict with the Turkish and Iraqi governments. Going all-in on the Kurds would inevitably bring accusations that America was supporting Kurdish nationalists, separatists, or terrorists (as Turkey would have it).

To this very day, Turkey denounces American support for the Kurds as direct support for terrorists, no different in principle from shipping arms to the Islamic State, which is something the Turks also charge America with doing when they are especially upset. It may come as some small consolation to know that everyone involved in the Syrian quagmire accuses everyone else of supporting terrorism, and they quite frequently have a point, since even the better rebel groups have been known to cooperate with powerful terrorist forces like al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front from time to time. It is difficult for outside powers to be certain that a weapon given to a white-hat moderate rebel today will not be handed over, voluntarily or involuntarily, to a terrorist or war criminal tomorrow.

In a 2013 profile of the Free Syrian Army, the BBC noted it was a “loose network of brigades rather than a unified fighting force,” with very little operational control exercised by appealing and high-minded spokesmen like Brigadier General Salim Idris.

Brigades aligned with the Free Syrian Army and its spinoff organizations retained “separate identities, agendas and commands.” The BBC noted that some of them “work with hardline Islamist groups that alarm the West, such as Ahrar al-Sham, and al-Qaeda-linked jihadists.”

Deutsche Welle recalls that, a few weeks ago, a delegation from the Free Syrian Army came to Washington and argued that if the CIA did not resume military aid frozen by the Trump administration, its “moderate” forces would have no choice but to look elsewhere for support. Virtually overnight, the FSA signed up with Turkey to work as mercenaries in its war against the Syrian Kurds, which DW notes is difficult to square with the FSA’s nominal mission of battling the tyranny of Bashar Assad on behalf of the Syrian people. It also argues against viewing the FSA as the kind of staunch moderate ally who can be entrusted with American weapons as they fight a noble battle to liberate Syria from cruel dictatorship.

“The Free Syrian Army practically doesn’t exist,” DW quotes Mideast expert Kamal Sido telling a German broadcaster. “The Free Syrian Army is a smokescreen hiding various names, and if you look at the names, at these groups’ videos, you’ll find they are radical Islamist, Jihadist groups.”

Charles Lister of the Brookings Institution contributed the observation that nearly 80 distinct factions now identify themselves with the FSA brand, and while some are moderate in outlook, others are hardline Islamist radicals. The group as a whole is moving inexorably into the orbit of radicals, and Islamist patrons like Turkey’s Erdogan, simply because they tend to be better-armed and more ruthlessly effective on the battlefield.

If such groups ever succeeded in overthrowing Assad, they would likely either replace him with an Islamist tyranny or turn their guns against their erstwhile moderate allies – which is essentially what the FSA is doing to the Syrian Kurds right now. At this point, with Russian and Iranian support firmly behind Assad, his ouster seems unlikely, so the “rebels” are largely fighting for concessions at the negotiating table and perhaps a degree of autonomy to run their own little fiefdoms within postwar Syria. Every proposal to arm Syrian groups must carefully consider what those groups actually intend to fight for.

It should also consider how they fight. Syrian Kurds are protesting the brutality of the Turkey-FSA invasion of Afrin, which threatens to push even further into Syria, as President Erdogan has openly called for American troops to get out of his way.

Over the weekend, video footage surfaced that appears to show Free Syrian Army fighters fondling and abusing the corpse of a female Kurdish fighter killed in the Afrin operation. One of them described the woman’s body as “the spoils of war from the female pigs of the PKK,” which is the violent Kurdish separatist organization in Turkey. The Turks insist that all Syrian Kurdish militia forces are allied with the PKK, including those directly supported by the United States.

The Free Syrian Army high command promised to investigate the incident and hold those involved accountable, “if it is verified in accordance with Sharia law and our principles.” The use of Islamic law to decide whether clearly heinous activity constitutes a war crime is not what the Western world should be looking for in a “moderate” ally.

Conversely, the Turks and their allies accuse the Kurds of fighting dirty and allying themselves with the brutal Assad regime, and Kurdish forces have been blamed for civilian deaths from a rocket barrage that struck a refugee camp near the Turkish border on Monday.

Syria is a bloody mess, and white hats are hard to find, but the hellish conundrum is that failure to intervene unleashed a refugee wave that threatens to drown Europe, not to mention a humanitarian disaster within Syria that should be utterly intolerable to the civilized world. The Free Syrian Army clearly is not the easy answer that so many people have so desperately wanted it to be for the past five years. They proved it by joining a Turkish operation that may soon put the lives of American troops at risk and threaten the future of NATO.

Also see:

Civilians in Northern Syria Flee to Caves as Turkish Invasion Barrels On

Russian-Turkish axis in Syria faces meltdown

Syrian Kurds: Russia Pressured Us to Give Afrin to Assad ‘One Day’ Before Turkish Attack

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.

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