Middle East Regression: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Jan. 31, 2017— A century after the Ottoman Empire's demise, it has been reincarnated.
Turkey Will Not Emerge Victorious From the Battle of Afrin: Akil Marceau, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 21, 2018— Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, must be turning in his grave like a whirling dervish. “Peace at home, peace in the world,” was his motto.
Hamas: Turkey's Longtime Love: Burak Bekdil, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 22, 2018— Despite the nominal 'normalization' of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel, Ankara is still fully supporting a terrorist organization — one that Washington, among others, lists as terrorist.
Turkey’s Jews Are Scared – But Afraid to Talk About it: Kristina Jovanovski, The Media Line, Feb. 4, 2018— Movie producer Jozef Ercevik Amado sits at a bar in central Istanbul stressing how, as a Jewish Turk, he can live his daily life without any fear.
Turkey: U.S., Iran, Russia Are Working Against Turkish Interests In Syria, President Says: Stratfor, Feb. 6, 2018
Analysis: Turkey Causing Major Escalation in Syrian War: Yochanan Visser, Arutz Sheva, Feb. 9, 2018
Shin Bet Investigation Exposes Depth of Turkey's Hamas Support: Yaakov Lappin, IPT News, Feb. 15, 2018
Turkey Stokes Unrest Over Jerusalem Recognition: Dmitri Shufutinsky, Daily Caller, Feb. 13, 2018
Dr. Mordechai Kedar
Arutz Sheva, Jan. 31, 2017
A century after the Ottoman Empire's demise, it has been reincarnated. Once again, Turkey is conquering parts of the Arab World, with Syria serving as its current goal. Using the "war on terror" as its lame excuse, Turkey has managed, in the last two weeks, to take over a strip of Syrian land along the border shared by the two countries, in order to prevent the Kurds from controlling a contiguous region.
Turkey intends to extend its "security belt" on Syrian soil to cover the entire length of its 500 mile-long border with Syria, and to widen that strip to a depth of 18 miles inside Syrian territory. If Turkey succeeds in doing this, that "security belt" will be larger than the State of Israel, and span over 9000 square miles. The Turks intend to turn the area into a no-man's land.
The only name that this plan can be given is "ethnic cleansing." The tens of thousands of villagers and town-dwellers who have lived on this "belt" for hundreds and even thousands of years will have to uproot themselves and scatter in all direction, all because Erdogan does not want an independent or non-independent Kurdish entity south of the Turkish border. Calling the Syrian Kurds "terrorists" who must be expelled from their historic living space is exactly the same as calling all the Arabs or all the Jews "terrorists" and treating them all as equally guilty. Erdogan's racism is simply beyond the pale.
What is most shocking about Turkey's behavior is the world's total silence. The Security Council has not met to discuss the new takeover and has not uttered a single word of condemnation. There are no demonstrations and the streets of the Arab, European and North America are as silent as the tomb. For those who have short memories, Turkey conquered 37% of the island of Cyprus in 1974 and established a state there that not one country recognized "de jure" – barring Turkey itself, of course. Its presence there is "occupation" any way you look at it, but who is aware of it? Who condemns Turkey for occupying more than a third of Cyprus? Has it crossed anyone's mind to boycott, sanction or divest of investments in Turkey – BDS – because of its 44 year occupation of Cyprus? Now it is the turn of the Turkish takeover of Kurdish Syria. Is the world going to wake up now and realize what Turkey is doing? Will it demonstrate? Condemn? Boycott? Do anything at all?
It is not only the current occupation that presents a problem, it is Turkey's problematic behavior way before 1974. Anyone with a conscience remembers what happened to the Christian Armenians in Turkey. They suffered mass genocide from 1894-1896 and another during WWI from1915-1918. Millions of Armenians and Christians were cruelly murdered by Muslim Turks and the world's absolute silence is what led Hitler to believe, in 1941, that the world would do nothing if he did the same to the Jews. The cynical world in which we live acts in accordance with its best interests and the West – read that the US and Europe – fears that angering impulsive and hot-headed Erdogan may result in his forcing them out of Incherlake air force base, which is the foundation of every Western campaign plan in the Middle East and Central Asia, including Iran.
The big unknown is how the Kurds will react in response to the threats of ethnic cleansing Erdogan has in store for them: Will they sit quietly and wait for death to strike or will they put up a fight against the Turkish forces? Another question lurking in the background is how the Kurds in Turkey will react to what may happen to their Syrian brothers. Reminder: Every Turkish city includes a Kurdish neighborhood. If the Kurds wish to, they can sow destruction over all of Turkey. The price they will have to pay is steep, but they are well aware of that.
The question of Kurdish response is not without its own problems. We recently witnessed what occurred in the Kurdish region of Iraq, where the Kurds lacked solidarity, were split into warring factions, and at times, even fought one another. Erdogan may be counting on that divisiveness to allow him to continue the brutality he has shown against the Kurdish Syrians without having to worry about the Kurds in Turkey coming to the aid of their Syrian brethren. Enter another factor, the volunteers pouring in to help the Kurds from all over the world. Some have arrived from France, others from the USA, the UK, Algeria, Japan and more. They are being drafted through social media in a way reminiscent of how ISIS succeeded in getting volunteers. Some have adopted Kurdish names and learned the Kurdish language. If this phenomenon continues to grow and leads to foreign volunteers falling in battle, the Turks are going to find themselves lost in an international blizzard…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Jerusalem Post, Feb. 21, 2018
Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, must be turning in his grave like a whirling dervish. “Peace at home, peace in the world,” was his motto. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his successor and current Turkish head of state, has transformed this into “war at home, war in the world.” This secular republic was established in 1923 by Ataturk to align with the West. Today, it is allied to fundamentalist Muslim groups in a war unleashed against the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin.
Present-day Turkey is separating itself from Western values and is now in open conflict with its Western partners on multiple hot topics. Erdogan’s Turkey has supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, supports the Hamas movement in Gaza, and has for years allowed aspiring European jihadists to transit through Turkey to Syria. He continues to arm and finance Syrian Salafist armed groups from the Muslim Brotherhood. Western intelligence services and think tanks are perfectly aware of the structural reasons that, if this evolution continues, will see us accelerating toward an inevitable divorce between Turkey and the West.
This Turkish Islamist shift is torpedoing Western plans in the current phase to end Islamic State (ISIS) terrorism, the cause of the deadly attacks on the streets of European capitals. The latest military intervention in Syria clearly prevents the stabilization of areas which required cost of heavy fighting and thousands of deaths to liberate.
The Kurdish enclave of Afrin borders Idlib province, largely controlled by local groups affiliated with al-Qaida. The fall of the enclave would consequently reinforce these groups and other Salafist movements linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, all of which are part of the Turkish-led military intervention. Not one bullet had been fired from Afrin at Turkey. The enclave had been, until now, preserved from the war. Its peace and security offered refuge to tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing both the regime and jihadist groups. The only possible justification for the Turkish military intervention is to halt the establishment of a Kurdish zone in northern Syria. A zone that is already creating its own administrative structures and local elections.
Turkey is fearful of the consequences regarding its own Kurdish population, whose legally elected representatives to the Turkish Parliament are either being prosecuted or are already in prison. With 15 to 20 million Kurds living in its territory and 40 years of failed military interventions, shouldn’t Turkey be convinced that such an option is not exportable and will only lead to the same failure in neighboring Syria? On top of which, the local Syrian Kurdish population is hostile and, given the military complexity on the ground, the Western powers involved in the Syrian conflict are not in any position to offer support.
The Kurds, as part of a secular, multi-faith society, have proven to be the most reliable allies and the only option on the ground able to fight ISIS alongside the international alliance. Today, they are paying the price for this alliance, attacked by Turkey and Sunni Salafist groups within Syria. This is a replay of the attack by Iranian-backed Shi’ite militia on Kurdish territory following the recent Iraqi Kurdish referendum on independence.
In an Arab-Muslim world devoid of leadership, especially in its Sunni version, and still struggling with modernity, the all-out populism of the Turkish president, who dreams of himself as a new caliph, acts as a performance enhancer for the mass of the disinherited. His dubious alliances with Islamist networks in countries across the region as well as his vocal position on the status of Jerusalem, outsmarting any Arab leader on this issue, provides a Trojan horse in his strategy of regional domination.
When Erdogan and his Islamic AKP party came to power, many in the West hoped that he would form the “Christian Democrats of the East.” Unfortunately, those who placed their bets on the “Islam Democrats” have been roundly disappointed. When, in 1998, Erdogan was tried and jailed for reciting a jihadist poem, “the minarets are our bayonets, the domes are our helmets, the mosques are our barracks,” the army was still guardian of Turkish secularism. After silencing the moderates from his own party, such as former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu and former president Abdullah Gul, the 2016 coup d’etat then gave him the opportunity to purge both the army and judicial apparatus.
Thousands of academics, teachers and journalists have also been fired, and many arrested. Erdogan’s hands now free to ally with jihadist groups, he launched the current military operation with a public recitation in mosques across the country of the “Victory” verse from the Koran, banned demonstrations hostile to the war and imprisoned opponents of it. This Turkish intervention will fail. Encouraged behind the scenes by Russia and Iran to distance Turkey from the West, these two countries will never allow Turkey to become a serious player on the Syrian chessboard. As veterans, they consider it their private hunting ground and retain exclusive leverage, with Turkey being the novice in this demonic alliance.
Faced with the massive challenge that political Islam poses now and for some time to come, let us not forget that its victims are overwhelmingly Muslims themselves. We must not waiver from the values and ethics that are the foundations of Western democracies. These values remain the best weapons to fight the international jihadist. Abandoning the Kurds to slaughter would be a major moral defeat for the West. Furthermore, the fall of Afrin would be a defeat of Western strategy in its fight against terrorism, reinforcing the jihadists and forcing us back to square one.
Gatestone Institute, Feb. 22, 2018
Despite the nominal 'normalization' of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel, Ankara is still fully supporting a terrorist organization — one that Washington, among others, lists as terrorist. The Shin Bet's report, the Istanbul conference and its contents, the official Turkish support for that conference and Turkish Foreign Ministry's explicit support of Hamas make new evidence that Turkey insists on siding ideologically with a terrorist organization — ironically at a time when Erdogan claims Turkish troops are fighting terrorists in Syria.
In 2014, Turkey hosted Salah al-Arouri, a Hamas commander whom the Palestinian Authority had accused of planning multiple attacks against Israeli targets. At that time, the newspaper Israel Hayom called Turkey's important guest "an infamous arch-terrorist believed to be responsible for dozens of attacks against Israelis". In August 2014, speaking at the World Conference of Islamic Sages in Turkey, Arouri admitted that Hamas had instigated the "heroic action carried out by the al-Qassam Brigades [the military wing of Hamas], which captured three settlers in Hebron." The "heroic action" consisted of Hamas operatives kidnapping and murdering three teenage boys, an incident that triggered the spiral of violence that led to the 50-day war in Gaza.
In December 2014, a Hamas leader confirmed that his organization was using NATO member Turkey as a refuge for logistics, training and planning terrorist attacks. The same month, then-Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu hosted the chief at that time of Hamas's political bureau, Khaled Mashaal, at a high-profile party congress in Konya, Central Turkey. Taking the stage at the event, Mashaal congratulated the Turkish people "for having [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and Davutoglu." His remarks were received passionately, with thunderous applause, the waving of Palestinian flags and thousands of party fans shouting, "Down with Israel!"
In June 2016, Jonathan Schanzer forcefully reminded the public that although Arouri had been expelled from his safe base in Istanbul, "many other senior Hamas officials remain there [a]nd their ejection from Turkey appears to be at the heart of Israel's demands as rapprochement talks near completion." Schanzer named half a dozen or so Hamas militants enjoying refuge in Turkey. These included Mahmoud Attoun, who had been found guilty of kidnapping and murdering a 29-year-old Israeli. Also enjoying safe haven in Turkey were three members of the Izzedine al-Qassam brigades. Ten Hamas figures were believed to be in Turkey, Schanzer said: "There are a handful more that can be easily identified in the Arabic and Turkish press, and nearly all of them maintain profiles on Facebook and Twitter, where they regularly post updates on their lives in Turkey."
Stubbornly ignoring Hamas's violent past –and present — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed more than once that Hamas is not a terrorist group but a legitimate political party. He has also repeatedly described Hamas militants as "freedom fighters". In November 2016, Erdogan said again that he did not view Hamas as a terrorist organization; he called it instead a "political movement born from [a] national resurrection," and mentioned that he meets with Hamas "all the time".
Erdogan's ideological love affair with Hamas is obligatory for all Islamists in this part of the world, and they do not tend to forget it. In February, a deported Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) board member, Sami al-Arian, denounced the United States as "our enemy." The venue was an Istanbul conference sponsored by Diyanet, Turkey's powerful religious affairs authority. Diyanet's president and Turkey's top cleric Ali Erbas, an Erdogan loyalist, said: "Diyanet is with the suffering Palestinian Muslims who have been serving as the guardians of al-Aqsa for years despite any kind of invasion and violence, and will continue to be by their side and provide any kind of support for them." Arian, meanwhile, is the founder of a charity called the Islamic Committee for Palestine and raises money for PIJ. It was only too normal that Diyanet sponsored an event featuring hatred of the U.S. and Israel while promoting the "Palestinian cause."
Recently, the U.S. government declared Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh a "specially designated global terrorist" and imposed a raft of sanctions against him. Immediately afterwards, the Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned the U.S. for this decision. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the timing of Washington's decision was "suspicious". Apparently, the Turkish love affair with Hamas is not only about nice words. Israel's Shin Bet security service has announced that a Turkish law professor was deported and that an Israeli Arab was facing indictment over involvement in a Hamas effort to funnel money for terrorism to the West Bank and Gaza via Turkey. According to Shin Bet, both men were recruited by a Hamas operative who was deported from the West Bank after Israel released him from prison in 2011 as part of the deal to ensure the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Enter Arouri — again. The Hamas recruiter, according to Shin Bet, was one of the chiefs of Hamas's West Bank Command, headed by Arouri, until recently Turkey's very important guest. The Hamas West Bank Command's mission is to plan and fund acts of terror in the West Bank. The Shin Bet also accused Turkey of aiding Hamas's military build-up by means of a Turkish company called SADAT, a security services and training specialist. SADAT's owner, Adnan Tanriverdi, is a retired Turkish general who is now one of Erdogan's chief advisors…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
The Media Line, Feb. 4, 2018
Movie producer Jozef Ercevik Amado sits at a bar in central Istanbul stressing how, as a Jewish Turk, he can live his daily life without any fear. But the backlash to the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has made some in the Jewish community feel unsettled. “There are all these Israeli consulate protests and that’s not something that I enjoy… it’s scary,” Amado says. He says that some of his fellow citizens who talk to him believe he isn’t fully Turkish. “I think the essence of the problem is with otherness or foreignness… There’s this hospitality in Turkey, incredible hospitality, but then when you hit the wall, for some reason, that you don’t belong in that conversation or there, then it’s something different.”
The Jewish minority – believed to number around 15,000 – has been under threat for decades, including deadly terrorist attacks targeting synagogues in Istanbul. But the Turkish government’s shift toward greater Muslim conservatism has put the minority under the spotlight. That shift has only strengthened since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took a strong stance against the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In December, Turkey hosted a meeting of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, denouncing the decision. Louis Fishman, an assistant professor at Brooklyn College CUNY who focuses on Turkey and Israeli/Palestinian issues, says supporting Palestinians is beneficial for Erdogan because it will play well with Turks across the political spectrum. “Politically, [Erdogan] doesn’t have much to lose, in the sense it does capture not just his own audience but other audiences.”
However, Turkey still has motivation to protect its relationship with Israel, partly due to their strong economic relations. Turkish Airlines, for instance, was the most popular airline for people flying to and from Israel last year according to the daily Haaretz. Fishman, who has lived in both Turkey and Israel, says there has been a sharp rise in antisemitism over the last couple of years. “It’s not something that’s systematic within the law that you’re going to feel [discriminated] against on a daily basis, but the weight of antisemitism is there.” A 2015 poll reported that 71% of respondents in Turkey held antisemitic beliefs, a result borne out by a terrorist attack against a synagogue in 1986 that killed 22 people, while a series of deadly bombings in 2003 also targeted synagogues…
Betsy Penso, a lawyer who volunteers for an organization called Avlaremoz, which keeps track of antisemitism online and in the media, says hate speech seems to be on the rise. “I think it’s getting stronger… since there is no punishment, people continue to write it, [and] nobody says anything to them.” Part of that, she suspects, is the advent of social media, which have allowed people to voice opinions they may already have held but kept to themselves. Yet, social media have also allowed the small Jewish minority a chance to speak up as well. “Avlaremoz” means “Let’s talk” in Ladino, a Judeo-Spanish dialect. Penso says it is to contrast a tradition among Turkish Jews called “Kayadez” – to be invisible or unseen – which means people do not speak out on issues – even among their own families. “They’ve faced lots of things… they believe if they speak, they won’t be welcome anymore, so they don’t speak.” She says much of the problem for Turkey’s Jews is that many fellow citizens equate them with Israel and blame them for the actions of the government. “They see us as foreigners for sure,” Penso says…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Turkey: U.S., Iran, Russia Are Working Against Turkish Interests In Syria, President Says: Stratfor, Feb. 6, 2018—Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the United States is working against the interests of Turkey, Iran and possibly Russia by sending military supplies to northern Syria, Reuters reported Feb. 6. Erdogan also repeated his call for the United States to withdraw its troops from Manbij, Syria, despite a Jan. 29 report that the United States would not.
Analysis: Turkey Causing Major Escalation in Syrian War: Yochanan Visser, Arutz Sheva, Feb. 9, 2018—More than two weeks after Turkey launched another invasion into Syria dubbed “Olive Branch” by the Erdogan regime, it looks as though the Turkish army is slowly drowning in the Syrian swamp.
Shin Bet Investigation Exposes Depth of Turkey's Hamas Support: Yaakov Lappin, IPT News, Feb. 15, 2018—Hamas is operating freely on Turkish soil, gathering terrorist finances and looking for ways to upgrade the capabilities of the Hamas armed wing in Gaza, an Israeli security source has told the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT). It is highly likely that these activities occur with the knowledge of Turkish authorities, the source said.
Turkey Stokes Unrest Over Jerusalem Recognition: Dmitri Shufutinsky, Daily Caller, Feb. 13, 2018—For decades, politicians and pundits have claimed that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would destabilize and further radicalize the Middle East. Two months after President Trump signed the order to move the embassy, however, the Palestinian Territories are relatively calm.