The Turmoil in Turkey: Editorial, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 3, 2017— Islamic State claimed responsibility Monday for a New Year’s terrorist attack at an Istanbul nightclub that killed 39 people…
In Turkey, U.S. Hand Is Seen in Nearly Every Crisis: Tim Arango, New York Times, Jan. 4, 2017— Turkish officials accused the United States of abetting a failed coup last summer.
Turkey’s True Tragedy Is the Anti-Israel Tyrant Erdogan: Ruthie Blum, Algemeiner, Dec. 14. 2016 — On Sunday, after visiting the Haseki Hospital in Istanbul, where scores of survivors of Saturday night’s twin bombings near the capital city’s Besiktas stadium were being treated for serious injuries, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was surrounded outside by crowds shouting “Allahu akbar” (“God is great”).
Turkey's "Long Arm" in Europe: Burak Bekdil, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 1, 2017— Officially, Turkey's General Directorate for Religious Affairs (Diyanet in Turkish) has a mission about offering institutional religious services independent of all political ideologies.
ISIS’s Jihad on Turkey: Roy Gutman, Daily Beast, Jan. 2, 2017
Turkey Brandishes Incirlik Card to Threaten US: Amberin Zaman, Al-Monitor, Jan. 4, 2017
How Istanbul Nightclub Attack was Linked to Turkey’s Culture War: Mustafa Akyol, Al-Monitor, Jan. 4, 2017
Turkey’s Genocidal Shame: Robert Fulford, National Post, Sept. 16, 2016
Wall Street Journal, Jan. 3, 2017
Islamic State claimed responsibility Monday for a New Year’s terrorist attack at an Istanbul nightclub that killed 39 people, and the Turks deserve Western support as they fight on the front lines against jihadists. The tragedy is that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seems intent on alienating so many of his friends and antiterror allies, including anyone who supports democratic values.
ISIS is suspected of having carried out previous attacks in Turkey, such as June’s suicide bombings at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport that killed 45. Though this is the first direct claim of responsibility, ISIS is known for attacking soft targets popular with foreigners. The victims included citizens of Belgium, Canada, Kuwait, Lebanon, India, Israel, Morocco, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. ISIS said it targeted the nightclub because Christians would be “celebrating their pagan holiday.” The killer was still at large as we went to press, but the ISIS claim will make it harder for Mr. Erdogan to resort to his usual default of blaming the Kurds for every attack in Turkey. The Kurdish insurgency broke out anew after Mr. Erdogan abandoned peace talks in 2015 and some Kurds have committed atrocities.
But the escalating tempo and intensity of Turkey’s Islamist insurgency reveals the folly of Mr. Erdogan’s history of underestimating the ISIS threat. For years Ankara looked the other way as hard-line jihadists poured into Syria, destabilizing both sides of the border. He still sometimes implies he might let Syrian migrants flood Europe again to gain diplomatic leverage, as if the threat doesn’t also hurt Turkey’s security. Mr. Erdogan’s own Islamist and autocratic tendencies have also compounded the country’s vulnerability. Since an attempted coup last summer, the President has purged thousands of police officers and soldiers, and the resulting talent and resources gap may have damaged Ankara’s counterterror capabilities.
He is also using the coup and terrorism as excuses to crack down on institutions like a free press and independent judiciary that could help counter the Islamist threat. After Islamic State recently burned alive two Turkish soldiers, Mr. Erdogan’s government instructed the Turkish media not to publish images from an Islamic State video of the murders. Does he think Turks won’t hear about it? A Wall Street Journal reporter in Turkey, Dion Nissenbaum, was detained and held incommunicado last week for reasons that were never made clear. Mr. Nissenbaum was denied contact with his family, lawyers and colleagues for nearly three days before he was released and allowed to leave the country. Our Sohrab Ahmari has written about Andrew Brunson, a Christian pastor and U.S. citizen imprisoned by Turkish police on charges of belonging to a terrorist group after 23 years raising a family in the country. The Turks have provided scant evidence for the charge.
Mr. Erdogan is polarizing Turkish society when it badly needs a unified front to fight jihadists. He also needs allies against Islamic State, but he sees treachery everywhere these days except among his new friends in Moscow. Turkey would be a more secure country, and a better one, if Mr. Erdogan’s response to every problem wasn’t to put more power in his own hands.
New York Times, Jan. 4, 2017
Turkish officials accused the United States of abetting a failed coup last summer. When the Russian ambassador to Turkey was assassinated last month, the Turkish press said the United States was behind the attack. And once again, after a gunman walked into an Istanbul nightclub early on New Year’s Day and killed dozens, the pro-government news media pointed a finger at the United States. “America Chief Suspect,” one headline blared after the attack. On Twitter, a Turkish lawmaker, referring to the name of the nightclub, wrote: “Whoever the triggerman is, Reina attack is an act of CIA. Period.”
Turkey has been confronted with a cascade of crises that seem to have only accelerated as the Syrian civil war has spilled across the border. But the events have not pushed Turkey closer to its NATO allies. Conversely, they have drifted further apart as the nation lashes out at Washington and moves closer to Moscow, working with the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, to secure a cease-fire in Syria.
One story in the Turkish press, based on a routine travel warning issued by the American Embassy in Turkey, was that the United States had advance knowledge of the nightclub attack, which the Islamic State later claimed responsibility for. Another suggested that stun grenades used by the gunman had come from stocks held by the American military. Still another claimed the assault was a plot by the United States to sow divisions in Turkey between the secular and the religious. Rather than bringing the United States and Turkey together in the common fight against terrorism, the nightclub attack, even with the gunman still on the run, appears to have only accelerated Turkey’s shift away from the West, at a time when its democracy is eroding amid a growing crackdown on civil society.
All of this is a reflection, many critics say, of what they call the paranoia and authoritarianism of Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose leadership has so deeply divided the country that, instead of unifying to confront terrorism, Turkish society is fracturing further with each attack. The West, symbolized by the United States, is the perennial bogeyman. While seeming to pile on the Obama administration in its waning days — by accusing it of supporting Turkey’s enemies, including the Islamic State; Kurdish militants; and supporters of an exiled Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, whom Mr. Erdogan blamed for directing the coup — Turkish officials are also telegraphing something else: that they are willing to open the door and improve relations with the United States once President-elect Donald J. Trump takes office.
“Our expectation from the new administration is to end this shame,” Turkey’s prime minister, Binali Yildirim, said this week while accusing the United States of providing weapons to Kurdish militants in Syria who are fighting the Islamic State, but are also an enemy of Turkey. “We are not holding the new administration responsible for this,” Mr. Yildirim said. “Because this is the work of the Obama administration.”
Meanwhile, the nightclub assailant is on the loose. The Turkish authorities said on Wednesday that they had identified the killer, but refused to release any other details, although photographs of the man, from surveillance cameras, have been released. Also, a video surfaced that appeared to show the assailant recording himself in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. A senior United States official, who has been briefed on the investigation and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential details, said the Turks had recovered the video from a raid on a house in Istanbul. The official said the Turks now believed the killer was from Uzbekistan, not Kyrgyzstan, as many reports this week had first suggested. The official expressed alarm at the growing anti-Americanism in Turkey, which seems to accumulate after each crisis here, and said it put the lives of Americans in the country in jeopardy.
The chaotic investigation has added to the anxiety on Istanbul’s streets, with vehicle checkpoints, night raids on houses and low-flying helicopters. “There is significant fear in ordinary people,” said Aydin Engin, a columnist at the daily newspaper Cumhuriyet, who was detained last year as part of the government’s crackdown on the news media. “Fear prevails when it comes to going to an entertainment place, being in a crowd, going to a shopping mall, getting on the metro.”
With each passing day, public life descends deeper into what many Turks concede is a mix of darkness and seeming absurdity, with growing fears of violence and expressions of xenophobia set next to repressions on civic life. In the days before and after the nightclub massacre on the shores of the Bosporus, nationalists staged a mock execution of Santa Claus in the name of defending Islam; a reporter for The Wall Street Journal was detained, strip-searched and placed in solitary confinement — for, according to the newspaper’s account, “violating a government ban on publication of images from an Islamic State video”; and a well-known fashion designer was beaten up at the Istanbul airport and arrested for his social media posts…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link–Ed.]
Algemeiner, Dec. 14. 2016
On Sunday, after visiting the Haseki Hospital in Istanbul, where scores of survivors of Saturday night’s twin bombings near the capital city’s Besiktas stadium were being treated for serious injuries, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was surrounded outside by crowds shouting “Allahu akbar” (“God is great”). As funerals began to be held for the 44 people killed in the bombings, most of them police officers, the government declared a national day of mourning, and Erdogan vowed to bring the perpetrators of the latest mass assault in Turkey to justice.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened his weekly cabinet meeting that morning by saying, “In the struggle against terrorism there has to be a mutuality in condemnation as well as in thwarting the attacks, and that is Israel’s expectation from all countries it has relations with.” The message he was conveying to Erdogan was harsh, but apt. Though Jerusalem and Ankara have restored diplomatic ties after a six-year split — with the incoming Turkish emissary’s arrival in Tel Aviv virtually coinciding with the attack — relations between the two are cold.
Erdogan is an Islamist tyrant, who has spent the past 14 years transforming the previously democratic country into his personal fiefdom, incarcerating anyone he deems a threat to his rule. This practice burst into full flower following the failed coup attempt against him in July, which some believe he orchestrated for the purpose of legitimizing his sweeping oppression. Nor are his repeated declarations about combating terrorism anything more than propaganda. He has illustrated in word and deed that he is selective about which groups he believes need eradicating and which others are worth bolstering. So, while joining the West in fighting Islamic State thugs, he boasts a close partnership with Hamas, the equally vicious murder machine that controls the Gaza Strip, and the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s outlawed terrorist organization.
Indeed, it was his instigation of the attempt to break Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza that precipitated the Turkey-Israel schism. This was only bridged when Israel conceded to a list of utterly unjust and draconian demands, including $20 million “compensation” to the families of the perpetrators killed and injured on the Mavi Marmara ship by IDF commandos who shot at their assailants in self-defense.
In August, a month after the attempted coup in Turkey, a Qassam rocket struck a yard in the southern Israeli city of Sderot. Though the attack was committed by a different terrorist group, Israel made good on its oft-repeated promise to hold Hamas responsible for any such activity emanating from Gaza, and bombarded a number of targets in the terrorist-run enclave. The rocket attack and retaliatory strike took place two days after the Turkish parliament ratified the rapprochement agreement with Israel reached in June. Nevertheless, Erdogan’s Foreign Ministry ripped into Israel, “strongly condemning” its “disproportionate attacks, unacceptable whatever prompted them.”
“The normalization of our country’s relations with Israel does not mean we will stay silent in the face of such attacks against the Palestinian people,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s statement read. Israel’s Foreign Ministry shot back: “The normalization of our relations with Turkey does not mean that we will remain silent in the face of its baseless condemnations. Israel will continue to defend its civilians from all rocket fire on our territory, in accordance with international law and our conscience. Turkey should think twice before criticizing the military actions of others.”
As if to prove that he never “thinks twice” before engaging in hypocrisy and brutality, Erdogan launched a full-fledged military operation in the town of Jarablus, along the Turkey-Syria border, three days later. The purpose of the operation, code-named “Euphrates Shield,” was to wrest the area from Islamic State terrorists and Syria-based Kurdish militias affiliated with insurgents in Turkey. That the Kurds were also fighting Islamic State, and receiving U.S. aid to do so, was of no interest to Erdogan, who views them as a danger to his reign. This is why his first reaction to Saturday night’s carnage was to blame the Kurds and their “Western” backers. His second was to impose a ban on news coverage of the event, and arrest a number of people who posted comments about it on social media. This is but one tiny example of Erdogan’s lack of genuine desire to stomp out terrorism.
Another was apparent at the end of last month. A week before Israel’s new ambassador to Turkey, Eitan Na’eh, presented his credentials in Ankara, Istanbul hosted the first annual conference of the association of “Parliamentarians for Al-Quds.” During the two-day gathering, Erdogan said, “Policies of oppression, deportation and discrimination have been increasingly continuing against our Palestinian brothers since 1948. Actually, I am of the belief that the Palestinian issue serves as a litmus test for the UN Security Council.”
Erdogan’s statement was a milder version of what he had said several days earlier, in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2: “I don’t agree with what Hitler did and I also don’t agree with what Israel did in Gaza,” he told interviewer Ilana Dayan. “Therefore there’s no place for comparison in order to say what’s more barbaric.” Erdogan’s open assertion that the establishment of the Jewish state is responsible for its “Nazi-like” response to decades of Palestinian-Arab terrorism tells us all we need to know about his true attitude towards the slaughter of innocent people. It is he who is Turkey’s greatest tragedy.
Gatestone Institute, Jan. 1, 2016
Officially, Turkey's General Directorate for Religious Affairs (Diyanet in Turkish) has a mission about offering institutional religious services independent of all political ideologies. In practice, Diyanet's understanding of "offering institutional religious services" can be different from what the term should mean. Recently, the office of Istanbul's mufti, an official of Diyanet, described the location of a mosque as "… it was [in the past] a filthy Jewish and Christian neighbourhood." After press coverage, the depiction was removed from the web page.
Diyanet's "institutional religious services" may sometimes even overlap with what in other countries people call intelligence. In a briefing for a parliamentary commission, Diyanet admitted that it gathered intelligence via imams from 38 countries on the activities of suspected followers of the US-based preacher Fetullah Gülen, whom the Turkish government accused of being the mastermind of the attempted coup on July 15. As if it is the most normal thing in the world, Diyanet said its imams gathered intelligence and prepared reports from Abkhazia, Germany, Albania, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Japan, Montenegro, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Kosovo, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mongolia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Turkmenistan and Ukraine.
After several other political absurdities, Turkey has finally won the title of having the world's first spook-imams — and that is official. This is unnerving for many European countries hosting millions of Turks. In October, a Turkish-German political scientist, Burak Copur, warned that growing support for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could lead to Germans of Turkish descent creating a violent Turkish nationalist movement. In July, Cem Ozdemir, an ethnic Turk and leader of Germany's Greens Party, warned of the influence of the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), which he claimed took its funding and its orders directly from Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP). A similar statement was made the month before by integration commissioner Aydan Ozoguz.
The Dutch government has warned people about "agent imams" from Turkey, and has solicited complaints about malfeasance. The Netherlands also said it would challenge every instance of the "long arm" of Ankara extending to its territory, after a report that the Turkish embassy had sent home many Dutch Turks who might have sympathized with July's failed coup. Turkey's ambassador to The Hague was summoned after reports that a Diyanet official acknowledged he had compiled a list of "Gülenists".
Germany was less diplomatic in expressing its discontent about Turkish spies. Earlier in December, German police arrested a 31-year-old Turkish man suspected of providing information on Kurds living in Germany to Turkish intelligence agencies, according to the German federal prosecutor's office. A statement from the office said: "The accused is strongly suspected of working for the Turkish intelligence agency and providing information about Kurds living in Germany, including their whereabouts, contacts and political activities". Turkey is exporting its political wars and tensions to Europe. That is not a good sign for the Old Continent.
“ISLAMOPHOBIA” MOTIONS IN PARLIAMENT SEEN AS THREAT TO FREE SPEECH
The Government of Canada is proceeding to address unproven increases in instances of “Islamophobia” while calling for countering unsubstantiated charges of “systemic racism and religious discrimination”. This issue was originally tabled in Parliament in the form of a House of Commons “E” petition (e-411) by Thomas Mulcair, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada. The petition called for the condemnation of “all forms of Islamophobia” and received UNANIMOUS consent by Canadian Members of Parliament on 26 October, 2016. This was followed in rapid-fire fashion by a second motion sponsored by Iqra Khalid, Member of Parliament from Mississauga Erin-Mills. The first initiative was progressed with little public input and scant interest displayed by the media at-large. The second motion was tabled on 01 December, 2016 and called for the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to produce related findings and recommendations within 240 calendar days of the motion’s acceptance…
Given the current Government’s stated goal of obtaining a seat at the United Nations Security Council, pressures from within and outside the country from powerful Islamic lobby groups and the Government’s demonstrated proclivity to progress the “Islamophobia” initiative with undue haste and in the absence of evidence, there is a real risk that the fundamental right to “free speech” by all Canadians will be unnecessarily curtailed to accommodate the sensibilities of a specialized group….No such breach of the rights of Canadian citizens (should) be countenanced…all Canadians’…fundamental right to free speech (should be) preserved.
[To review the resolutions, and the petition related to them, click the following link—Ed.]
ISIS’s Jihad on Turkey: Roy Gutman, Daily Beast, Jan. 2, 2017—Ten days before the New Year's attack on an Istanbul night club for which the so-called Islamic State now claims responsibility, it posted a grisly video on social media showing its forces burning two Turkish soldiers alive—and coupled it with a warning of worse atrocities to come.
Turkey Brandishes Incirlik Card to Threaten US: Amberin Zaman, Al-Monitor, Jan. 4, 2017—Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu renewed calls today for Washington to sever ties with the Syrian Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the top ally of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State, and to provide air support to Turkish forces fighting to dislodge the jihadists from the Syrian town of al-Bab.
How Istanbul Nightclub Attack was Linked to Turkey’s Culture War: Mustafa Akyol, Al-Monitor, Jan. 4, 2017—On New Year’s Eve, many Turks, including myself, were hoping to begin a less bloody and less depressing year than 2016. It took only one hour and 15 minutes, however, for 2017 to present its first carnage. A lone gunman, later identified as a militant of the Islamic State (IS), entered Reina, one of Istanbul’s top nightclubs, and killed 39 people who were celebrating the New Year. He also triggered a deep fault line in Turkish society between the more secular, Westernized Turks, and more traditional Islamic ones.
Turkey’s Genocidal Shame: Robert Fulford, National Post, Sept. 16, 2016 —A question Adolf Hitler once asked still haunts the history of political atrocities: “Who remembers the Armenians today?”