Archive for August 2016

Coup-Weary Turkey: Directionless and Insecure

August 8, 2016

Coup-Weary Turkey: Directionless and Insecure, Gatestone InstituteBurak Bekdil, August 8, 2016

♦ The more Ankara feels distant to Washington, the more it will want to feel closer to Moscow.

♦ As Western leaders call on President Erdogan to respect civil liberties and democracy, Erdogan insists he will consider reinstating the death penalty: “The people have the opinion that these terrorists [coup-plotters] should be killed. Why should I keep them and feed them in prisons for years to come?”

Turkey once boasted of having NATO’s second biggest army, equipped with state-of-the-art weapons systems. That powerful army now lacks command: After the failed coup of July 15, more than 8,500 officers and soldiers, including 157 of the 358 generals and admirals in the Turkish military’s ranks, were discharged. The top commanders who were purged had made up 44% of the entire command structure. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that the military’s shipyards and weapons factories will be transferred to civilian authority; military high schools and war academies have been shut; military hospitals will be transferred to health ministry; and the gendarmerie, a key force in anti-terror operations, and the coast guard will be tied to the interior ministry.

Those changes leave behind an army in deep morale shock, with political divisions and polarization. Its ranks are suffering not just trauma but also humiliation. The Turks are lucky their country was not attacked by an enemy (and they are plentiful) at a time like this. Conventional war, however, is not the only threat to Turkey’s security. The Turkish army’s worst decline in modern history came at a time when it was fighting an asymmetrical war against Kurdish insurgents inside and outside of Turkey and, as part of a U.S.-led international campaign, the Islamic State (ISIS) in neighboring Syria.

The attempted coup not only quickly discredited the Turkish military but also left the country once again directionless in foreign policy. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been slamming his NATO ally, the United States, almost daily. His government big guns have been implying an American hand behind the failed coup by a faction of officers they claim are linked to a U.S.-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, once Erdogan’s best political ally. “The putschist [Gulen] is already in your country, you are looking after him. This is a known fact,” Erdogan said, addressing Washington. “You can never deceive my people. My people know who is involved in this plot, and who is the mastermind.”

The White House immediately denied Erdogan’s claim. Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said the U.S. was one of the first countries to condemn the failed coup, and noted that a successful one would have put American troops serving in Turkey at risk. “It is entirely false. There is no evidence of that at all,” Schultz said. “We feel that talk and speculation along those lines is not particularly constructive.” The failed coup has become a Turkish-American dispute — with a military dimension, too.

Erdogan also criticized U.S. General Joseph Votel, who voiced concerns over “the long-term impact” of the coup on the Pentagon’s relations with the Turkish military. According to Erdogan, Votel’s remarks were evidence that the U.S. military was siding with the coup plotters. The Pentagon’s press secretary, Peter Cook, flatly denied that claim: “Any suggestion anyone in the department supported the coup in any way would be absurd.”

Erdogan probably wants to play the tough guy and is slamming Washington day after day not just to look pretty to millions of anti-American Turks but also to pressure Washington in Turkey’s quest to extradite Gulen, presently the biggest snag between the two allies.

But there is another dimension to Erdogan’s ire: He wants to mend fences with Moscow.

Turkey’s relations with Russia were frozen after Nov. 24, when Turkey, citing a brief violation of its airspace along Turkey’s border with Syria, shot down a Russian military aircraft. Russia’s President Vladimir Putting ordered punishing economic sanctions, imposed a travel ban on Russian tourists visiting Turkey and suspended all government-to-government relations. Unable to ignore the damage, a repentant Erdogan conveyed regrets to Putin; the regrets were accepted and the two leaders are scheduled to meet on August 9, when the Turks hope that relations with Russia will be entirely normalized.

Normalization, unfortunately, will not come at the price of Turkish “regrets” alone. For full normalization, Turkey will have to digest the Russian-Iranian-Syrian line in Syria’s civil war — a pact which Turkey has loudly detested ever since civil war erupted in Syria in 2011. This will be another foreign policy failure for Erdogan and an embarrassing U-turn. But the more Ankara feels distant to Washington, the more it will want to feel closer to Moscow.

1375Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is attempting to repair badly damaged relations with Russia, even as he slams his NATO ally, the United States, almost daily, and accuses the U.S. military of supporting the coup attempt against him. Pictured: Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) with Erdogan (then Prime Minister), meeting in Istanbul on December 3, 2012. (Image source: kremlin.ru)

Meanwhile, after the coup attempt, Turkey’s troubled relations with the European Union turned even more troubled. European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said that the EU’s deal with Turkey on halting the flow of migrants toward the bloc may collapse. “The risk is big. The success so far of the pact is fragile. President Erdogan has already hinted several times that he wants to scrap it,” Juncker said. It is not just the migrant deal that may entirely suspend Turkey as a candidate country for the EU.

As Western leaders call on Erdogan to respect civil liberties and democracy, Erdogan insists he will consider reinstating the death penalty. “The people have the opinion that these terrorists [coup-plotters] should be killed,” Erdogan said in interview with CNN. “Why should I keep them and feed them in prisons for years to come? That’s what the people say … as the president, I will approve any decision to come out of the parliament.”

Such a move would kill Turkey’s accession process entirely. Federica Mogherini, EU’s foreign policy chief, warned that if Turkey reintroduces the death penalty, it will not be joining the European Union. “Let me be very clear on one thing,” she said; “… No country can become an EU member state if it introduces [the] death penalty.”

The attempted coup not only destabilized NATO’s second largest army and exposed it to the risk of serious operational vulnerabilities; it also left Turkey at risk of engaging in potentially dangerous liaisons with playmates of different kind — Russia and Iran & Co. — at least for now.

A Hillary Clinton Presidency Would Be An American Tragedy

August 8, 2016

A Hillary Clinton Presidency Would Be An American Tragedy, PJ MediaRoger L Simon, August 7, 2016

tragedy

The American people are generally goodhearted. Historically, most presidents have a honeymoon period when they are newly elected. The majority of our citizens want them to do well, at least for a while.

This cannot happen for Hillary Clinton. Over half the country, even many who will have voted for her, do not believe she is remotely honest. Almost as many believe criminal charges should have been brought against her for her email scandal. They are convinced, quite arguably, that were her name not Clinton, she would be in jail.

And this before what we have just now learned–how serious, even fatal to our (and humanity’s) best friends, her use of an easily hacked home-brew email server could be.

Hillary Clinton recklessly discussed, in emails hosted on her private server, an Iranian nuclear scientist who was executed by Iran for treason, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said Sunday.”I’m not going to comment on what he may or may not have done for the United States government, but in the emails that were on Hillary Clinton’s private server, there were conversations among her senior advisors about this gentleman,” he said on “Face the Nation.” Cotton was speaking about Shahram Amiri, who gave information to the U.S. about Iran’s nuclear program.

The senator said this lapse proves she is not capable of keeping the country safe.

To say the least, but there’s more.

Many do not think Clinton is even a moral human being. Any person who could lie to the parents of the dead over the fresh caskets of their sons, as Clinton has apparently done with the Benghazi victims–if you believe the testimony of the parents themselves as many of us do–has lost contact with basic human values.

So Hillary Clinton would be beginning her incumbency with an unprecedented level of distrust, even disgust, for an incoming president and it is hard to conceive how she could regain the public confidence necessary to govern. What could she say or do? Continue to lie, as she did yet again at her recent press conference and interview with Chris Wallace? Suddenly tell the truth after decades of dissembling? The result would be a psychic unraveling so extreme she would likely dissolve like the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz.

No, she would undoubtedly do her best to ignore everything while a Damoclean sword in the form of  the +/- 33,000 emails, depending on what transpires between now and November, hung over her head. Who knows what’s in them? Hillary undoubtedly doesn’t like to think about it herself, but stress and endless prevarication have clearly taken a toll on her. Most 68-year old women I know can walk up the stairs by themselves.

According to FBI Director Comey, her lawyers don’t know what was in the emails either, even though they supposedly supervised their deletion. They only read the subject lines, they testified. To know the truth, it should be obvious, would have been inconvenient for them.

It’s also obvious from the mass releases so far from all sides that her server could have been permeated by who knows how many parties, state and non-state. This would lead to the inevitable.  Every even slightly controversial policy decision she makes as president would be open to question—and for good reason. Is someone blackmailing her?

And what about the Clinton Foundation? Suppose Putin — or someone else for whatever reason… destabilizing the United States perhaps — decides to reveal information definitively tying the Clintons to treasonous activities with foreign companies, potential “high crimes and misdemeanors” of the kind we are beginning to learn about in the uranium business. An impeachment trial would follow that dwarfs in implications any such trials before. Many would be swept up in it.

Is this a stretch? Not at all. More a likelihood. We’ve already seen enough of this in Clinton Cash, book and movie, to know how real it is. People aren’t going to stop looking for the truth if Hillary is elected, nor should they.

No, a Hillary Clinton presidency would be An American Tragedy waiting to happen—and not just a symbolic one like that described by Theodore Dreiser in his classic novel of that title, but one that engulfs the whole country and the world. In that worst-case scenario, our lives would never be the same.

Civil war is even a possibility. I never thought that until now, but when the rule of law has been broken, no telling what will happen.

For that reason, I desperately hope that Donald Trump will prevail, as unproven, erratic and self-destructive as he often is. I was truly disheartened the last couple of weeks. Like many, I haven’t come close to sleeping through the night. The man seemed incapable of reform.

But Friday evening there was a reprieve. Donald Trump the grown-up reappeared as he relented in his battles with people he should never have been fighting in the first place. For all our sakes, now more than ever, he should hold firm to this approach. No more dumb mistakes, if he can possibly manage it. Somebody has to prevent this American Tragedy.

As Trump himself has said, it’s not about him. It sure isn’t. Not in the slightest. It’s about us. Try to remember that, Donald, or our country is in trouble as never before.

Did Clinton’s Email Negligence Lead to the Execution of an Iranian Defector? Front Page Magazine

August 8, 2016

Did Clinton’s Email Negligence Lead to the Execution of an Iranian Defector? Front Page Magazine,  Ari Lieberman, August 8, 2016

defector

But then came the Clinton email dump which may have spelt doom for Amiri.Two emails in particular, which were made public and which were undoubtedly read by the Iranians shed light on the voluntary nature of Amiri’s defection and attempts by the U.S. to address his concerns and facilitate his return to Iran.

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In 2009, Shahram Amiri, an Iranian nuclear scientist, traveled to Saudi Arabia, ostensibly to visit Muslim holy sites located in the Kingdom. Once there, he disappeared only to reappear later in some peculiar online rants, claiming to be residing in Virginia and alternatively, in Arizona, and expressing a desire to return to Iran.

Amiri, who conducted nuclear research at the military affiliated Malek Ashtar University of Technology and worked for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, was said to possess a treasure trove of classified information on Iran’s illicit nuclear program. On his YouTube channel, he alleged that he was kidnapped by CIA and Saudi intelligence and was offered large sums of money in exchange for information on Iran’s nuclear program.

For reasons known only to Amiri, and which will undoubtedly be the subject of much speculation, Amiri arrived at the Iranian interest section of the Pakistani embassy in Washington and two weeks later, returned to Iran. Approximately one year had elapsed from the time of his defection until his return to Iran.

Some have speculated that he feared for his family’s well-being and returned to spare them harassment by the Iranian authorities or perhaps he was genuinely homesick and thought the Iranians would buy his story of a CIA orchestrated kidnapping. Whatever the case, On August 3, 2016 Amiri was executed by the Mullahs in their favorite method of execution – hanging.

Amiri undoubtedly provided the administration with vital intelligence on Iran’s rogue nuclear program and that clearly did not sit well with Iranian officials. Upon his return, Amiri repeated the allegation of being kidnapped in Saudi Arabia in a joint CIA/Saudi operation. While the Iranians initially welcomed him, likely for public consumption, he was soon transformed into a treasonous enemy of the state and imprisoned and almost certainly tortured while undergoing grueling interrogation.

The Iranians could not be 100 percent certain of Amiri’s story. Iran is a nation built upon conspiracy theories and fantasy and in their view, the possibility of a CIA/Saudi operation to kidnap a nuclear scientist didn’t seem far-fetched and in fact, could have been plausible.

But then came the Clinton email dump which may have spelt doom for Amiri. Two emails in particular, which were made public and which were undoubtedly read by the Iranians shed light on the voluntary nature of Amiri’s defection and attempts by the U.S. to address his concerns and facilitate his return to Iran.

The first email, sent to Clinton on July 5, 2010, and processed through her home-brewed bathroom server, was authored by Richard Morningstar, acting special envoy of the U.S. secretary for Eurasian energy. This email implied that Amiri needed a cover story to return to Iran and that the U.S. should make an effort to address his concerns. He writes, “Per the subject we discussed, we have a diplomatic, ‘psychological’ issue, not a legal issue,” and notes further that “Our friend has to be given a way out. We should recognize his concerns and frame it in terms of a misunderstanding with no malevolent intent and that we will make sure there is no recurrence. Our person won’t be able to do anything anyway. If he has to leave, so be it.”

The second email was sent to Clinton by her senior foreign policy adviser, Jake Sullivan. In the email, which was sent on July 12, 2010, Sullivan writes, “The gentleman you have talked to Bill Burns about has apparently gone to his country’s interests [sic] section because he is unhappy with how much time it has taken to facilitate his departure. This could lead to problematic news stories in the next 24 hours. Will keep you posted.”

Sullivan was referencing Amiri’s earlier contact with Iran’s interest section in the Pakistani embassy. It also implies that the U.S. was attempting to facilitate his return to Iran. If this was in fact a kidnapping as alleged by Amiri, why then would the U.S. facilitate his return to an enemy country? And why would it need to address his concerns? Kidnappers do not normally carry out their victim’s wishes when their victims ask to be returned. That would defeat the entire purpose of kidnapping.

The Iranians are no fools. They probably suspected that Amiri voluntarily defected all along and the kidnapping element was nothing but a cover story. But the emails confirmed their suspicions and Amiri then paid for his decision with his life. If that was indeed the case, Hillary Clinton, through gross negligence and dereliction of duty, may have sealed Amiri’s gruesome fate.

Humor | Duty NCO praised for ‘meticulous logbook’ following mass shooting

August 8, 2016

Duty NCO praised for ‘meticulous logbook’ following mass shooting, Duffel Blog, , August 8, 2016

duty NCO

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Marine Corps leaders are reportedly still in shock over a Barracks Duty Noncommissioned Officer’s impressive logbook entries during yesterday’s tragic mass-shooting at a Marine barracks aboard Camp Lejeune.

The Marine Corps identified Cpl. Peter Sewell, a 3051 Warehouse Clerk from Springfield, MA, as the “heroic” Barrracks Duty.

Maj. Gary McDougall, a spokesman for Camp Lejeune, said, “Cpl. Sewell had been posted on duty since 7 a.m. for what looked like another routine tour of sweeping and mopping the floor, as well as kicking the odd stripper out of the barracks.”

According to Sewell’s logbook entries, at precisely 1702 hours an unidentified person arrived and began to open fire at Marines in the barracks smoke pit, immediately followed by an entry noting the smoke pit not been properly police-called.

McDougall praised Sewell’s quick and immediate thinking.

“Cpl. Sewell displayed all the training and initiative we expect from our Barracks Duty NCO’s,” McDougall told reporters. “As soon as the shooting began, he sprinted over to the gunman to demand his ID card and sign him into the visitors log.”

Sewell was eventually found by paramedics, clutching his logbook while managing to keep it free from any blood stains. Paramedics confirmed that he refused medical treatment until all emergency personnel were properly signed in.

During the entire incident, the Officer of the Day was at the chow hall, where it was reported the food was of sufficient quality and quantity.

McDougall notes, “Thanks to Sewell’s meticulous attention to detail, investigators have an extremely accurate picture of the incident, from the moment the shooting began to the dust bunnies Sewell noticed on the floor after diving under the desk.”

Base officials have also praised Sewell’s company gunnery sergeant for his quick response in getting Marines on line to police brass at the crime scene as well as confiscating a 12-pack of beer from a nearby private.

“The whole team really came together during this crisis,” said McDougall. “We wouldn’t have wanted any of the emergency services personnel to think our unit lived in a shit house.”

McDougall said the shooter remains at-large after a base wide manhunt by the Provost Marshall Office had not located the shooter, but confirmed the duty desk’s lack of electronic media devices and presence of books from the Commandant’s reading list, both of which were integral to Sewell’s ability to accurately record the event.

He also showed reporters Sewell’s professional handwriting in all caps, such as his entry at 17:14 when he logged, “DUTY NCO OFF DECK. PLEASE GOD I DON’T WANT TO DIE.”

Unit leaders have said they plan to decorate Sewell with a Navy Achievement Medal for heroism, although not until he completes a missing gear statement for his duty belt, which disappeared during the incident.

As of press time, Sewell was unavailable for comment, as he continued to hobble around his post on crutches in a military manner and had still not been properly relieved.

Duffel Blog Investigative Reporter Lee Ho Fuk also contributed to this report.

State Dept Rep FINALLY being honest and laughs hysterically about US gov transparency and democracy

August 8, 2016

State Dept Rep FINALLY being honest and laughs hysterically about US gov transparency and democracy, Russia Insider via YouTube, August 5, 2016

Europe’s Last Chance to Prevent Permanent War

August 8, 2016

Pat Condell

 

 

Polemic on the Demonstrations by Copts in the USA

August 7, 2016

Polemic on the Demonstrations by Copts in the USA, Gates of Vienna, August 6, 2016

copts-sisi

Should the Islamic revolution of the Arab Spring be victorious in Egypt, this state would sink into Islamic chaos like Libya, Iraq and Syria. Christians would be the big losers and would soon flee or be murdered. That is why the Coptic Church must maintain a good relationship with the Egyptian state, which can be so much easier with a president who is so critical of his own religion. It could even happen that a model may arise in Egypt of how Muslims and Christians can better coexist. Even if we of the West do not care to hear it, the Islamic states will never produce a democracy.

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The following article from the German-language Copts Without Borders blog discusses the delicate problem posed by the demonstrations against Egypt organized by Coptic groups in exile. The author’s main point is that they, the Copts who stayed behind, must live as dhimmis under Islamic rule; there is no other choice. Copts in the diaspora are asked to consider the strategic ramifications of their protests, since the current Egyptian president has done more to help the Copts than any other president or dictator in recent times.

JLH, who translated the article, includes this note:

As our runaway government greases the skids for ever more Muslim immigrants to enter the country, and turns a blind eye to the pleas of Christian individuals and institutions being plowed into the ground in the Middle East, I was struck by the continuing outreach of the “dictator” Al-Sisi to the most endangered of his citizens. And by the tightrope the Copts feel they must walk in an attempt to survive in what was and should still be our highly valued ally.

The translated article:

Polemic on the Demonstrations by Copts in the USA

Egyptian citizens, whatever their religious affiliation, “all have the same rights and duties under the constitution.” And the Egyptian Christians have “displayed prudence and a spirit for the homeland” in the way in which they have reacted to sufferings and provocations in past years. They have remained sensibly united against the attacks of those who “want to use religion to sow discord and spread extremist ideas.”

These are the significant thoughts expressed by Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi during his meeting with Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II, as he received him in the presidential palace, together with a delegation of several bishops from the synods of the church.

Al-Sisi emphasized the value of brotherliness between Christians and Muslims in Egypt by his positive evaluation of initiatives undertaken in the context of the Egyptian Family House. This so-named House of the Egyptian Family is an inter-religious organ for making connections that had arisen several years ago as an instrument for prevention and mitigation of sectarian contrasts.

However, the public demonstrations by several groups of the Coptic diaspora still trigger polemics, for instance those in recent days in Washington in front of the White House that protested against acts of violence against Christians in Egypt. Speakers for the Coptic Orthodox patriarchate did not wish to comment officially on these demonstrations. But recently there have been warnings from the patriarchate of their possible manipulation, as well as the warning against mobilizing public campaigns abroad which could be seen as “attempts at intervention” by foreign organizations and groups in Egypt’s domestic affairs.

The Egyptian writer Michael Fahmy spoke out sharply against such demonstrations organized by members of the Coptic Egyptian diaspora. He labeled them “stupid or treasonous” actions instigated by small groups. He also emphasized that only the Egyptian state can protect the Copts from acts of violence; that these groups are capable of protecting neither the militant Coptic-Orthodox diaspora nor the Copts now sitting in the Egyptian parliament.

Comment From Copts Without Borders

It may seem odd that the official Coptic Church is speaking against demonstrations abroad for Christians in Egypt. But the fact remains that only the Egyptian state — which is an Islamic one — can protect the Coptic Church and its faithful after a fashion, even though, after a period of relative calm, Islamic attacks on Copts in Egypt have increased. But the Copts’ overall situation has improved recently.

The Church must protect its members and make these statements officially. This induces a precarious situation. On the one hand, Christians abroad should not be indifferent to this imposed dhimmi status in Islamic countries, as in Egypt. On the other hand, these protests abroad put pressure on the recently moderate Islamic President Al-Sisi, who had the courage to criticize his own religion.

The churches in Islamic countries that are under increasing pressure in Iraq and Syria, where an extensive exodus of Christian life occurred and is still occurring, should be grateful for the involvement of the still-too-few Christians abroad. Because it is not to be taken for granted. In contrast to Iraq and Syria, where Christians have lost everything and the priests there rightly speak out against the Islamic reign of violence in these countries, the military in Egypt has succeeded in halting the “Arab Spring,” which pummeled especially the Christians and Yazidis. Despite the discrimination, the Copts there are relatively secure and protected. If the Arab Spring had swept across Egypt, there would be no more Copts in Egypt, as there are none in Iraq.

Such demonstrations would only be helpful in the event of the complete collapse of Islam in the Turkish-Arabic-North African area. But that is nowhere in sight. On the contrary, we are undergoing a worldwide radicalization of Islam. As a blog, we thank the demonstrators in the USA and elsewhere in the diaspora for their commitment and ask them not to slacken. But we also ask the Copts in the diaspora to have some consideration for the Copts who must live in Egypt. They could make posters repeating President Al-Sisi’s criticism delivered to the religious leaders in Al-Azhar University when he visited there on taking office. That would even be useful.

This dilemma could more easily be resolved if the Coptic groups abroad would exclusively oppose Islamic acts of violence in Egypt, which is also the Egyptian president’s point of attack. Al-Sisi has proceeded strenuously against the Muslim Brotherhood, and that has also provided relief for the Copts. Yet this, or other radical groups still practice violence against Copts. Europe too, is learning painfully how difficult it is to root out nests of Islamic radicals.

Throwing the baby out with the bath would mean losing everything in Egypt, as the Christians suffered and are still suffering in Syria and Iraq. This has unfortunately proven to be true. The Christian exodus from Iraq and Syria is taking place unnoticed where the Copts are demonstrating, in the USA, in Europe and in western churches. If this were not the case, there would have been, for decades now, much stronger support for fellow Christians and against the persecution of Christians. They have shown that their solidarity with their co-religionists is less than half-hearted. Nonetheless, we thank all those people in church and country who have continued to help to raise the awareness of the great tragedy of contemporary Christian persecution. This task has received too little support from the general population and the Church.

Should the Islamic revolution of the Arab Spring be victorious in Egypt, this state would sink into Islamic chaos like Libya, Iraq and Syria. Christians would be the big losers and would soon flee or be murdered. That is why the Coptic Church must maintain a good relationship with the Egyptian state, which can be so much easier with a president who is so critical of his own religion. It could even happen that a model may arise in Egypt of how Muslims and Christians can better coexist. Even if we of the West do not care to hear it, the Islamic states will never produce a democracy.

The path out of servitude for Christians in Islamic lands is stony and difficult and must be accompanied by tactical measures on the part of the affected churches. Some may find fault, but, under the present circumstances, it is the only practical survival strategy under dhimmi subjection.

We must trust in Jesus Christ, who has not yet abandoned the Coptic Church. We beseech Him to protect Christians in Iraq and Syria, strengthen them in number and in faith. Let us not falter in prayer for persecuted Christians and other persecuted minorities.