Archive for the ‘Israel and Turkey’ category

Turkey told U.S. it opposes sanctions on Iran: foreign minister

July 24, 2018

by Reuters Tuesday Jul 24, 2018 The Foreign Desk

Source Link: Turkey told U.S. it opposes sanctions on Iran: foreign minister

{Who you are has a lot to do with who you hang out with. – LS}

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey has told American officials it opposes U.S. sanctions on Iran and is not obliged to implement them, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump has pulled the United States out of a 2015 nuclear pact with Iran and ordered U.S. sanctions on Tehran, while a senior State Department official said Washington has told allies to cut imports of Iranian oil by November

Turkey has criticized Trump’s move to withdraw from the nuclear pact and has publicly resisted the U.S. call to cut oil imports from Iran.

“We do not have to adhere to the sanctions imposed on a country by another country. We don’t find the sanctions right either,” Cavusoglu told a news conference in Azerbaijan.

“We held meetings with the United States in Ankara and told them openly: Turkey gets oil and gas from Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia and Iraq. If I don’t buy from Iran now, where am I supposed to meet that need from?” Cavusoglu said.

Last week U.S. Treasury and State Department officials met Turkish counterparts in Ankara to discuss sanctions on Iran. Ankara said authorities were working to prevent Turkey being hurt by the measures.

Turkey depends on imports for almost all of its energy needs. In the first four months of this year, Turkey bought more than 3 million tonnes of crude oil from Iran, almost 55 percent of its total crude supplies, according to data from the Turkish energy watchdog (EPDK).

Ties between Ankara and Washington, NATO allies, have been strained over a host of issues including several legal cases.

A Turkish court last week ruled to keep American pastor Andrew Brunson in jail, in a case that has deepened existing rifts and jeopardized the procurement of Lockheed Martin F-35 jets by Turkey.

The U.S. Senate passed a bill last month including a measure that prohibits Turkey from buying the jets because of Brunson’s imprisonment and Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense system, which are incompatible with NATO systems.

Cavusoglu, however, said there were no issues with the procurement of the jets and the United States could not exclude Turkey from the project.

“The United States needs to understand that it is not possible to get a result from Turkey through sanctions. They will see results if they approach Turkey with dialogue and respect,” he said.

“We will not bow down to such pressures, sanctions or threats. Everyone will get used to the new Turkey.”

(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Humeyra Pamuk and Dominic Evans)

 

Turkey’s Erdogan Calls Israel a ‘Terror State’, Accuses of ‘Genocide’

May 16, 2018

By John Hayward May 15, 2018 Breitbart

Source Link: Turkey’s Erdogan Calls Israel a ‘Terror State’, Accuses of ‘Genocide’

{More encouraging words from Turkey. Not really. – LS}

After Turkey recalled its ambassadors to Israel and the United States on Monday to protest the Israeli response to riots along the Gaza border fence, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Israel a “terror state” and denounced its actions as “genocide.”

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by saying Erdogan is among the biggest supporters of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas and suggested he “not preach morality to us.”
“Israel is wreaking state terror. Israel is a terror state,” Erdogan said to a group of Turkish students in London.

“What Israel has done is a genocide. I condemn this humanitarian drama, the genocide, from whichever side it comes, Israel or America,” the Turkish president continued.

“We will continue to stand with Palestinian people with determination,” Erdogan vowed.

The use of the word “genocide” by a Turkish president comes soon after the anniversary of the Armenian and Assyrian genocides, which the Turkish state continues not to recognize. The Turkish parliament recently rejected a bill that would have formally recognized the Armenian genocide, even as thousands marched around the world to commemorate the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks in 1915.

Erdogan himself apologized to the Armenians in April for their “suffering” but refused to use the word “genocide” he threw at the Israelis. Challenged on that point when he issued a similar statement in April 2014, Erdogan explained that it could not have been a “genocide” because not all of the Armenians in Turkey were killed.

The Turkish president is also on shaky ground when it comes to criticizing how anyone else deals with protesters, having famously deployed a squad of thugs to beat entirely non-violent demonstrators outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington, DC, last May. Infuriated by the arrest warrants issued for 12 of his bodyguards, Erdogan exclaimed, “What kind of law is this? If my bodyguards cannot protect me then why am I bringing them to America with me?”

AFP called Erdogan’s tirade against Israel “one of his most vehement broadsides ever against the Jewish state” and reported that Erdogan announced three days of national mourning in Turkey to be followed by a massive demonstration in Istanbul on Friday.

The Turkish government said on Tuesday that it will establish an “air bridge” to transport wounded Gazans to Turkey for medical treatment. Turkey has called an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which it currently presides over, to be held on Friday in Istanbul.

In an interview with Bloomberg News from London, Erdogan blamed the violence on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump instead of Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group that organized the assault on Israel’s border. He also railed against Trump for raising tensions in the region by withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.

“You see, the step of declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a very serious step towards tensions in the region,” Erdogan said. “We’re looking at the number of people who were killed in the Gaza Strip. It’s a disaster. 37 people—in fact, I believe more—died and hundreds of people are wounded and these people were wounded by real bullets.”

“How could this happen? 700 people are now wounded in Gaza. This can’t happen. There are two people responsible: Mr. Trump and Netanyahu,” he declared.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim backed Erdogan’s play on Monday by accusing the United States of aiding Israel in perpetrating crimes against humanity.

“Unfortunately, the U.S. has arrogantly stood by the Israeli administration which kills civilians and has partnered in this crime against humanity,” Yildirim said at a press conference in Ankara.

“This provocation will only worsen the problems in the region and cause a deeper mark in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship, and will make peace in the region more difficult,” he said.

Yildirim added his theory that President Donald Trump moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem to distract from domestic political scandals, or “trying to hide the fire inside by setting fires outside,” as he put it.

“Muslim countries should absolutely review their ties with Israel. The Islamic world should display unity and togetherness against these villains. Turkey has not remained and will not remain silent against this cruelty,” Yildirim declared at a meeting of the ruling AKP Party on Tuesday.

In the course of reporting Yildirim’s accusations, Reuters noticed that some 2,000 protesters marched through Istanbul carrying banners that said “Jerusalem belongs to Muslims” and “Murderer Israel, Get Out of Palestine,” which does not seem helpful to Erdogan and Yildirim’s narrative about peaceful protesters assaulted by the Israeli military for no good reason.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired back at Erdogan on Tuesday morning via Twitter:

U.S. defense officials said on Monday that additional Marines have been added to security details at American embassies in Jordan, Turkey, and Israel as a precaution. More military security could be added to other embassies in Middle Eastern countries with histories of violent protest.

Twilight over the “Palestinian Cause”

December 21, 2017

Twilight over the “Palestinian Cause”, Gatestone InstituteGuy Millière, December 21, 2017

(Please see also, Palestinian claims to Jerusalem lose Saudi as well as US support. — DM)

Reports from the West Bank after the Six Day War show that the Arabs interviewed defined themselves as “Arabs” or “Jordanians”, and evidently did not yet know that they were “the Palestinian people”. Since then, they were taught it. They were also taught that it is their duty is to “liberate Palestine” by killing Jews. The Palestinians are the first people invented to serve as a weapon of mass destruction of another people.

“The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality, today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese.” — PLO leader Zuheir Mohsen, interview in the Dutch newspaper Trouw, March 1977.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the European Union has become the main financier of the “Palestinian cause”, including its terrorism. They are also contributing to war.

Iran, strengthened enormously by the agreement passed in July 2015 and the massive US funding that accompanied it, has been showing its desire to become a hegemonic power in the Middle East.

The grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah Al ash-Sheikh, recently issued a fatwa saying that “fighting the Jews” is “against the will” of Allah and that Hamas is a terrorist organization.

For many years, “Palestine” has not stopped aspiring to new heights in the so called “international community”. “Palestine” has been present at the Olympic Games since 1996, and, later, became a permanent observer to UNESCO and the United Nations. The vast majority of the 95 “embassies” of “Palestine” are in the Muslim world; many others are in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. In 2014, the Spanish Parliament voted in favor of full recognition of “Palestine.” A few weeks later, the French Parliament did the same. 

There is no other instance in the history of the world where a state that does not exist can have missions and embassies presumed to function as if that state did exist.

Now the time has probably come for the “Palestinians” to realize that they have lost and fall back to earth, as noted by the scholar Daniel Pipes.

Have “Palestinian” leaders been showing by their speeches and actions that they are ready to rule a state living in peace with their neighbors and with the rest of the world? All “Palestinian” leaders have incessantly incited terrorism, and do not hide their wish to wipe Israel off the map.

Is there a long-standing aspiration by the “Palestinian people” to have a state and to live peacefully within that state? The answer is actually no. The “Palestinian people” were invented in the late 1960s by the Arab and Soviet propaganda services. As PLO leader Zuheir Mohsen told the Dutch newspaper Trouw in March 1977:

“The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality, today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese.”

Reports from the West Bank after the Six Day War show that the Arabs defined themselves in interviews as “Arabs” or “Jordanians”; they evidently did not know that they were the “Palestinian people”. Since then, they were taught it. They were also taught that it is their duty to “liberate Palestine” by killing Jews. The Palestinians are the first people invented to serve as a weapon of mass destruction of another people.

Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the PLO, at the Arab League summit in Rabat, Morocco, 1974. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Is there at least a historic past that gives legitimacy to the aspiration to create a “Palestinian state”? The answer again is actually no. There is no Palestinian culture distinct from the cultures of the Muslim Arab world, no monument that can be defined as a “Palestinian” historic monument, except by falsifying history.

More basically, would a hypothetical “Palestinian state” be economically viable? Again, the answer is actually no. Territories occupied by the Palestinian movements survive only thanks to international financial assistance from the West.

How then could so many countries wish for so long to create a state whose rulers would likely be regressive, corrupt “Palestinian” leaders; whose inhabitants would be used as killing machines, whose history is non-existent-to-falsified and whose economic potential seems zero?

The answer is simple.

Behind their support for the creation of a “Palestinian state”, those countries have been pursuing other goals. For decades, countries of the Muslim world obsessively wanted one thing: the destruction of Israel.

They tried to reach their goal through conventional warfare, then terrorism, then diplomacy, then propaganda. They blamed only Israel for all the evils of the Middle East.

All the while, they know who the “Palestinian” leaders are and what they do. They know that the “Palestinian people” were invented. They know why the “Palestinian” people were invented. They know that a “Palestinian state” will not have a viable economy. Yet they have been committed to a strategy of destabilizing and demonizing a non-Muslim nation, Israel.

They call the “Palestinians” “victims“; terrorism, “militancy”; and incitement to kill, “resisting occupation”. They have been trampling rightful history and replacing it with myth.

They press “Palestinian” leaders to “negotiate”, knowing perfectly well that no agreement will ever be signed and that negotiations will end in bloodshed.

They propose only “peace plans” they know Israel must reject – those which include the “’49 ‘Auschwitz‘ armistice lines” or the “right of return” for “Palestinian refugees”, who numbered half a million in 1949, but near five million today.

They recognize a “Palestinian state” while knowing that the “state” they recognize is not a state, but rather a terrorist entity without defined borders or territory, and imbued with a will to spill more blood and create more mayhem.

They have relied on turmoil, blackmail and lies to encourage the rest of the world to think the situation requires drastic international intervention.

They have been saying they want a “Palestinian state”, but never that they want this state to renounce terrorism and end the conflict.

Instead, they have been waging a vicious war they have long hoped to win.

For more than thirty years, they benefited from the support of the Soviet Union. It financed wars (19671973), terrorism, diplomacy and propaganda. The Soviet Union made the “Palestinian” enterprise an “anti-imperialist” cause — a means of strengthening Soviet positions and galvanizing the enemies of the West. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, but the effects of its support for the “Palestinian cause” for a time remained. Many countries hostile to the West still support and recognize the “Palestinians” while pretending to ignore that they are recognizing a terrorist entity. They are contributing to war.

Countries of the Western world, subjected to the pressures of the Muslim world and the Soviet Union for many years, have gradually given way, some even before any pressure was applied.

France chose its camp in 1967, when General Charles de Gaulle launched what he called an “Arab policy” after its defeat in Algeria. French foreign policy become resolutely “pro-Palestinian” -– in an apparent effort to deflect terrorism, obtain inexpensive oil and compete with the US — and has remained so to this day. Western European countries have gradually adopted positions close to those of France. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the European Union has become the main financier of the “Palestinian cause”, including its terrorism. Western European leaders know what the real goals are, yet they repeat without respite that creating a “Palestinian state” is “essential“. They are also contributing to war.

Although a long-time ally of Israel, the United States changed its Middle East policy in the beginning of the 1990s to positions closer to those of the Muslim world. American politicians and diplomats pressured Israelis to negotiate with “Palestinian” leaders and seemed to have lost sight of what the “Palestinian cause” was secretly about. Wishful Israeli leaders agreed to negotiate. The tragic result was the Oslo Accords and the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA). It quickly became a new base of anti-Israeli terrorism. A wave of lethal, anti-Israel attacks started immediately, with a stepped-up anti-Israel diplomatic and propaganda offensive right after. A “two-state solution” was invoked. American leaders, as if they had slept through several years, started to say that a “Palestinian state” had to exist. Three American Presidents proposed “peace plans“, also contributing to war.

An additional “peace plan” is expected soon, but the parameters will be profoundly different. President Donald Trump appears to wish to break with the past.

He recently told Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas that “Palestinian” leaders were liars. None of the American negotiators he chose seems to have the slightest illusion about the “Palestinian” leadership or the “Palestinian cause”.

The Taylor Force Act, passed on December 5 by the US House of Representatives, plans to condition US aid to the “West Bank and Gaza” on “the actions taken by the Palestinian Authority to end violence and terrorism against Israeli citizens”; the Act could be adopted soon by the Senate. The PA rejected all the requirements in the Act.

The Muslim world is also undergoing change. Iran, strengthened enormously by the agreement passed in July 2015 and the massive US funding that accompanied it, has been showing its desire to become a hegemonic power in the Middle East. The mullahs’ regime now holds three capital cities in addition to Teheran: Baghdad, Damascus, and Beirut. Iran attacks Saudi Arabia and supports the war led by the Houthi militia in Yemen; it intends to seize Sanaa and take control of Bab El Mandeb, the gateway to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. Qatar and Turkey have established close ties with Iran.

Saudi leaders appear aware of the danger. King Salman chose his son, Mohamed bin Salman, as heir to the throne, and gave him broad powers. “MBS”, as he is known, seems intent on leading a real revolution. Militarily, he is head of the 40-member Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, and has declared his desire to “end terrorism”. Economically, he is in charge of an ambitious reform project aimed at making his country less dependent on oil: Saudi Vision 2030. All Saudi leaders in disagreement with the new orientations of the country were placed under arrest and their assets confiscated. Mohamed bin Salman has identified Iran as the main enemy, and recently described its Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, as a “new Hitler.” Qatar and Turkey have been subjected to intense Saudi pressure to distance themselves from the Iranian regime. The grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah Al ash-Sheikh, recently issued a fatwa saying that “fighting the Jews” is “against the will” of Allah and that Hamas is a terrorist organization.

Mohamed bin Salman has the support of the Trump administration; Vladimir Putin who, while being allied to Iran, may want a balance of power in the Middle East, and Xi Jinping, who is facing the risk of a Sunni Islamic upheaval in China’s autonomous territory, Xinjiang.

“Palestinian” leader, Mahmoud Abbas was reportedly summoned to Riyadh, where King Salman and Mohammed bin Salman told him that he had to accept the plan proposed by the Trump administration or resign, and that it would “risky” for him to consider launching an uprising – which he has anyway, although being careful to keep it lukewarm.

During the month of October, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a close ally of Mohamed bin Salman, invited the leaders of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to come to Cairo for a “reconciliation”. He apparently demanded control of the Gaza Strip to be handed to the Palestinian Authority. It also seems that the Trump administration and President Sisi told Hamas leaders that they had to approve the terms of the “reconciliation” agreement, and that if they carried out any attacks against Israel, they risked complete destruction.

The “peace plan” evidently to be presented by the Trump administration is provoking the extreme anger of “Palestinian” leaders. The goal of the “plan” seems to be to revive an open ended “peace process”, allowing Saudi Arabia and the members of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition to move closer to Israel and push the “Palestinian cause” toward the back burner.

On November 19, an Arab League emergency meeting held in Cairo strongly condemned Hezbollah and Iran. Moreover, for the first time in fifty years, a meeting of the Arab League did not even mention the “Palestinian” question.

President Trump’s recognition on December 6 of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has led to restlessness and acrimony both in the Muslim world and among Western European leaders. Sunni leaders allied to Saudi Arabia, however, as well as Saudi Arabia itself, seem too concerned about the Iranian threat to quarrel with Israel, the United States or really anyone. Western Europe has almost no weight in what is taking shape; all it has shown is cowardice, fear, and continued contempt for a fellow Western democracy: Israel.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, now in the twelfth year of his four year term — and apparently seeing that he is getting little support — appeared to seek divine intervention: he asked the Pope for help. There would be “no Palestinian state without East Jerusalem as its capital,” Abbas said. He sounded as if he had begun to understand that the “Palestinian cause” could be fading, and, with other “Palestinian” leaders, called for “three days of rage“. A few protesters burned tires and American flags – the usual.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to convene in Istanbul on December 13, and urged leaders of Muslim countries to recognize Jerusalem as the “occupied capital of the Palestinian state”. Saudi King Salman stayed well away as did almost all other Sunni leaders. He only sent a message saying that he calls for “a political solution to resolve regional crises”. He added that “Palestinians have right to East Jerusalem” – the least he could do; he did no more. Erdogan is mainly supported by Iran, today’s foremost enemy of Saudi Arabia and other Sunni countries.

“It will not be the end of the war against Israel,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “but it could be the beginning of the end of the “Palestinian cause”.

It now seems a good time for Western European leaders who still blindly support the “Palestinian cause” to cut their losses, both politically and economically. Taking the side of Erdogan and the mullahs in order to support a terrorist entity that will never be a “state” will do nothing to help them fight either terrorism or the increasing Islamization of Europe.

Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.

Al-Arian and the Georgetown Gang Ride Again – Now in Turkey

September 14, 2017

Al-Arian and the Georgetown Gang Ride Again – Now in Turkey, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Teri Blumenfeld, September 14, 2017

Palestinian Islamic Jihad board member Sami Al-Arian appears to be thriving in his new environs after his 2015 deportation from the United States.

He is scheduled to speak next month at a conference in Istanbul sponsored in part by his old pals at Georgetown University’s Saudi-endowed Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. Center Director John Esposito, a Muslim Brotherhood apologist, also considers himself a “very close friend” of Al-Arian’s. And as we noted last spring, family ties strengthen the Al-Arian/Georgetown connection.

Al-Arian was deported to Turkey in 2015, pursuant to terms in his 2006 guilty plea connected to his Palestinian Islamic Jihad support. A computer scientist by training, he now works as “director of the Center for Regional Politics at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University.”

His conference biography casts him as a civil rights activist and thinker. It is silent about Al-Arian’s documented role as secretary for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Majlis Shura, or board of directors. It also omits a 1991 introduction of Al-Arian captured on videotape in which he speaks after being described as the head of “the active arm of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine” in the United States.

It may be part of a public comeback Al-Arian is staging as he starts a new life in Turkey and supports its Islamist regime. Following the failed coup attempt, Al Arian offered his analysis on its suspected instigators, twice hinting that Israel was connected to it. TRT World – Turkish Radio and Television – is an active arm of the Turkish government which incurred harsh criticism over its coverage of the coup attempt.

Al-Arian appeared on TRT World again in July, opining on the favorite Islamist topic of Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque and identified as a ‘civil rights activist & writer.” First, he rationalized a terrorist attack that killed two Israel police officers, both of whom were Druze Arabs. Then he repeated the false and incendiary claim that, “This right-wing Israeli government has been trying for many years now to partition Al-Aqsa Mosque. And this is where this whole episode – this whole crisis – was created.”

Next month, Al-Arian will speak at the Istanbul “International Conference on The Muslim Ummah,” sponsored by Georgetown’s Alwaleed Center along with Qatar’s College of Islamic Sciences, Hamad Bin Khalifa University. His presentation is called, “The Challenge of Settler Colonialism in Palestine/Israel.”

He’ll be joined by his son, Abdullah Al-Arian, and son-in-law Jonathan Brown, along with Esposito and Islamist luminaries as Tariq Ramadan – grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna – and Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Turkey’s Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Kalin joined Erdogan during visits with U.S. Muslim groups last year.

Al-Arian also is slated to lead the conference’s final session, which features Ramadan, Kalin and Esposito discussing “The Muslim Ummah in Today’s World.”

The Oct. 8 conference is called, “International Conference on the Muslim Ummah: Synthesizing a New Paradigm, Analyzing Modern Challenges.” Since the Ottoman Empire’s fall, the concept of the ‘Muslim Ummah’ [community] has lost its historical meaning as many scholars and academics from many disciplines have been debating its relevance and practical manifestations in today’s world,” a conference description said. The meeting aims to “propose a new paradigm within the context of the modern world.

Al-Arian’s academic friends may not care about his work as the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)’s “active arm” in America, his service as a PIJ board member, or his efforts to keep Iranian money flowing to the terrorist group in the 1990s. This is a man who, in the wake of a horrific double suicide bombing that killed 21 people at a bus station, saw fit to write that the attack “is the best guide and witness to what the believing few can do in the face of Arab and Islamic collapse at the heels of the Zionist enemy…”

That bloodthirsty attitude makes sense, since the PIJ bylaws explicitly reject “any peaceful solution for the Palestinian Cause, and [affirms] the jihad solution and the martyrdom style as the only option for liberation.” It seeks “a state of terror, instability and panic in the souls of the Zionists” and creating “a psychological barrier between the Jews and the Muslim Palestinian people and the creation of a conviction that the coexistence is impossible…”

While the Hamas charter has always been public, officials did not know PIJ had a similar document until federal investigators found it in Al-Arian’s possession during 1995 searches of his home and offices.

None of these academics gathering in Istanbul are dumb. They know these facts about their “very close friend” and still treat him as a respected academic. Including Al-Arian in an academic conference isn’t about advancing scholarship. It’s about rehabilitating a terrorist’s reputation.

Turkish takeover in Jerusalem

June 2, 2017

Turkish takeover in Jerusalem, Israel Hayom, David M. Weinberg, June 2, 2017

(Please see also, Report: Turkey Eclipsing Jordan in Old City, Temple Mount. — DM)

In short, the disintegration of Palestinian secular nationalist organizations and institutions in east Jerusalem, alongside Israeli torpor, has facilitated the rise of Islamist factions and hostile foreign actors.

The enlarged foreign presence in the heart of Israel’s capital touches the deepest chords of the issue of Israeli sovereignty in the eastern part of the city. Koren and Avrahami warn that this presence cannot be easily eliminated. While significant security action and determined diplomatic maneuver are clearly mandated, Israel will have to do more to “recapture” east Jerusalem. It will have to assume full responsibility for the services that east Jerusalem Arab residents need, with major budgetary repercussions.

***********************************

The fireworks and fanfare of the Jerusalem liberation jubilee have shoved under the radar a blockbuster expose about the unruly situation in east Jerusalem. Alarm bells should be ringing about the nefarious intensifying involvement of Erdogan’s Turkey and other radical Islamist groups in Jerusalem political and social affairs.

Dr. David Koren and Ben Avrahami are the advisors on east Jerusalem affairs for the Jerusalem Municipality. They lead the municipal team that oversees all of Jerusalem City Hall’s interactions with the Muslim and Christian populations of the city. They are intimately familiar with the thicket of contradictory interests, tensions, and disagreements that inform daily life in earthly Jerusalem.

The two experts have just published a rare, breathtaking and shocking description of political trends in east Jerusalem. Their article, “East Jerusalem Arabs Between Erdogan and Israel,” published in the new, important Hebrew intellectual journal Hashiloach (Vol. 4, May 2017), offers a brief account of the fruits of normalization and Arab east Jerusalemites’ increasing integration into the Israeli scene, But mainly it serves as a wake-up call regarding countervailing toxic trends.

According to Koren and Avrahami there has been very significant erosion in the status of the veteran east Jerusalem mukhtars and the influence of Fatah political infrastructures and Palestinian Authority leaders. Into the vacuum have stepped elements identified with Hamas, with the northern faction of the Islamic Movement in Israel, and with the Muslim Brotherhood in its wider context.

Through a series of civic associations, nonprofits, and grassroots organizations, sometimes at the neighborhood level and sometimes more extensive, they are investing tens of millions of dollars per year in dawa (missionary) activities, mainly charitable enterprises and educational programs to attract the young to Islamic values.

There is a direct line, say the article authors, from civic dawa to radicalization and active enlistment in the armed struggle against Israel. This includes active social networking which glorifies terrorists, martyrs, and prisoners, and explicitly calls for violent resistance to Israel. These networks were also the source for the libel that Al-Aqsa mosque is endangered by the Jews/Zionists, and for dissemination of an incredible volume of disinformation related to Israeli actions on the Temple Mount.

The authors ask for particular attention to the mounting involvement of Erdogan’s Turkey, which is the worldwide Brotherhood’s main patron. Turkey now enjoys unprecedented popularity among the Arab residents of east Jerusalem, the authors write. The Turks’ public support of the Palestinian cause and adoption of the Al-Aqsa issue, and their decision to inject millions of dollars into east Jerusalem, have won them great sympathy and support.

The Turks fund a great part of the dawa activities in the city, with Sheikh Ekrima Sa’id Sabri as the lead Turkish agent. (He is a former grand mufti of Jerusalem appointed by the PA and today the most prominent representative of the Muslim Brotherhood in the city.) The Turkish consulate in Jerusalem, the Turkish government assistance agency, and a string of Turkish organizations that have local branches in Israel or the West Bank, are directly implicated in this subversive activity too. As a result, Turkish flags today fly everywhere in east Jerusalem and prominently on the Temple Mount as well.

The Turks also have injected significant sums to those who do their bidding on the Temple Mount, for various activities such as Quran-recitation groups, transportation of worshipers to and from the mosque, iftar feasts in Ramadan, renovation and cleaning campaigns, and the like. In general, the Islamist forces on the Temple Mount operate, intentionally or not, to Turkey’s benefit and the detriment of Jordan. They may believe that the replacement of the Jordanian presence by a Turkish presence would be a positive and welcome development.

The main loser here is Jordan, which long enjoyed the status of Guardian of the Holy Places and protector of the Arabs of Jerusalem. This also is the context of the PA’s intensive activity in the international arena, and especially at UNESCO, ostensibly intended to protect the Islamic holy places against an Israeli takeover. This tactic allows the PA to convey to its critics that it is the true defender of Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem against the threat of “Judaization,” while at the same time gnawing at Jordan’s historic role as guardian of the Mount and seeking to counteract the emerging Turkish dominance in Temple Mount affairs.

Attention should be devoted also to another mounting force in Jerusalem, the Islamic Liberation Party, or Hizb ut-Tahrir, which has several thousand supporters in the city. This Salafist group, like ISIS, seeks to proclaim a global Islamic caliphate from Al-Aqsa. It has acquired growing influence on college campuses throughout the West Bank, including al-Quds University near Jerusalem. Sheikh Issam Amira of the al-Rahman Mosque in Beit Safafa is the group’s most conspicuous preacher, and he enjoys freedom of activity and speech on the Temple Mount.

While the Liberation Party does not advocate violent jihad, some party members could “advance” from a Salafi mindset to a Salafi-jihadist outlook and join the ranks of ISIS. This may explain, say Koren and Avrahami, the presence of ISIS cells and ISIS operatives in Jerusalem, such as Fadi al-Qunbar, who carried out the terrorist truck-ramming attack in East Talpiot in early 2017, and the ISIS cell that was apprehended in the Shuafat refugee camp several months earlier.

In short, the disintegration of Palestinian secular nationalist organizations and institutions in east Jerusalem, alongside Israeli torpor, has facilitated the rise of Islamist factions and hostile foreign actors.

The enlarged foreign presence in the heart of Israel’s capital touches the deepest chords of the issue of Israeli sovereignty in the eastern part of the city. Koren and Avrahami warn that this presence cannot be easily eliminated. While significant security action and determined diplomatic maneuver are clearly mandated, Israel will have to do more to “recapture” east Jerusalem. It will have to assume full responsibility for the services that east Jerusalem Arab residents need, with major budgetary repercussions.

In a future article, we will look at the remedies for this situation being implemented by Mayor Nir Barkat of Jerusalem (and more still required) in order to increase east Jerusalem Arabs’ sense of belonging to a united Jerusalem. Also to be considered are the complicated proposals coming from the political Left for redistricting of the city into independent boroughs or divesting some Arab neighborhoods to the Palestinian Authority.

Trump-Putin deal on Syria bears on Israel security

January 28, 2017

Trump-Putin deal on Syria bears on Israel security, DEBKAfile, January 28, 2017

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks through binoculars during his visit in the Northern district border of Israel on August 18, 2015. Photo by Amos Ben Gershom/GPO *** Local Caption *** ???? ??? ?????? ?????? ?????? ?????? ????? ????? ???? ????

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks through binoculars during his visit in the Northern district border of Israel on August 18, 2015. Photo by Amos Ben Gershom/GPO

1. Will Washington and Moscow go through with the expulsion from Syria of Iranian forces and their proxies, including Hizballah – and take it all the way until it is accomplished?

2. After they are gone, who will take over the areas they evacuate?

3. Will Bashar Assad stay on as president, or has his successor been nominated?

4. The most burning question of all is the level of Hizballah’s armament. Not only must Hizballah forces be pushed out of Syria, but it is essential to strip them of their sophisticated new weaponry, including missiles. Israel’s military and security chiefs assess Hizballah’s arsenal as having been upgraded in recent weeks to a level that directly impinges on Israel’s security.

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It would be a mistake to take it for granted that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s talks with President Donald Trump in Washington early next month will be plain sailing or produce an automatic shower of benefits for the Jewish state. It is understood in Jerusalem that a new order is unfolding close to Israel’s borders, which is not yet fully in the sights of its government, military and intelligence leaders. This process is going forward at dizzying speed in Syria, currently the central Middle East arena, where Presidents Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Tayyip Erdogan have agreed to cooperate.

The British Prime Minister Theresa May picked up fast on the new power equation. After standing before the media with the US President Friday, Jan. 27, and declaring hopefully, “Britain and the US can once again lead the world together,” she decided to fly straight from Washington to Ankara Saturday, before returning home.

The outcome of her first meeting with President Erdogan was one of the fastest defense collaboration pacts ever negotiated for trade and the war on terror. The British leader lost no time in getting down to brass tacks on how British military and intelligence can be integrated in the joint US-Russian-Turkish military steps for Syria. Erdogan did not exactly receive her with open arms. He did not afford his visitor the courtesy of placing a British flag in the reception room in his palace.

Israel is in much the same position. Israel stayed out of military involvement in the Syrian civil war, according to a policy led by Netanyahu, former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and OC Northern Command Maj. Gen. Avivi Kochavi (then Direct of Military Intelligence). This policy has left Israel out of today’s decision-making loop on Syria’s future.

Towards the end of 2015, shortly after Russia embarked on its massive military intervention in the Syrian conflict, Netanyahu took steps for safeguarding Israel’s security interests by setting up a direct line with the Russian president. It was translated into a military coordination mechanism between the Russian air force command in Syria and the Israeli air force, with Gen. Valery Gerasimov, Russia’s Chief of General Staff, and Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, Israel’s Deputy Chief of Staff, in charge of this direct military link.

Any problems that could not be solved at the military level were promptly turned over to be addressed at meetings or in phone calls between Netanyahu and Putin.

In one example, the prime minister obtained an undertaking from the Russian president to keep Iranian forces and Iran’s Shiite surrogates, including the Lebanese Hizballah, away from the Syrian-Israeli border, or allow them to use borderlands to send terrorists into Israel.

Shortly after Trump’s election victory (Nov. 8, 2016), the spadework on his collaboration with Putin was quietly begun by their national security advisers, Michael Flynn, in New York and Nikiolai Platonovich Patrushev in Moscow.

Jerusalem knew what was going on, but was taken aback by the speed at which those close understandings ripened into US-Russian deals on the ground. Before Trump had finished his first week in the White House, US warplanes had escorted a Russian air strike against ISIS in Syria.

This rush of events injects further urgency into Netanyahu forthcoming talks with the US president.  Whereas in the second term of the Obama presidency, the Israeli leader was wont to travel to Moscow or Sochi to sort out security problems relating to Syria, henceforth he must directly engage Donald Trump as the lead player.

So when the Israeli premier travels to the White House next month, he will have to address four pressing concerns, all relating to the fast-moving Syrian scene:

1. Will Washington and Moscow go through with the expulsion from Syria of Iranian forces and their proxies, including Hizballah – and take it all the way until it is accomplished?

2. After they are gone, who will take over the areas they evacuate?

3. Will Bashar Assad stay on as president, or has his successor been nominated?

4. The most burning question of all is the level of Hizballah’s armament. Not only must Hizballah forces be pushed out of Syria, but it is essential to strip them of their sophisticated new weaponry, including missiles. Israel’s military and security chiefs assess Hizballah’s arsenal as having been upgraded in recent weeks to a level that directly impinges on Israel’s security.

Turkey Uses Bilateral Ties with Israel as Alibi

August 24, 2016

Turkey Uses Bilateral Ties with Israel as Alibi, DEBKAfile, August 24, 2016

Jarablus_24.8.16Turkish army attacks Syrian Jarablus Wednesday, Aug. 23

The wily Erdogan appears to believe that he can use his friendship with Israel as a fig leaf. Whenever the US or others chastise him for his negative actions, he can point out that even Israel goes along with his policies

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Turkey – in full momentum since the Erdogan-Putin summit on Aug. 9 – is setting a rapid pace for its rapprochement with Israel. Saturday, Aug. 20, the Turkish parliament ratified the reconciliation agreement Ankara signed with Jerusalem and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced that ambassadors would be exchanged soon.

There is even mention of Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan visiting Israel in September.

Both Ankara and Jerusalem are quickly moving on from their sharp exchange of recriminations this week, over the massive IDF military retaliation against Hamas Sunday and Monday for a missile fired from the Gaza Strip.

Israel harshly reproved Turkey for its condemnation, as hardly in a position to interfere in another government’s response to terrorism.

Erdogan uncharacteristically held silent and let Israel have the last word..

Erdogan and Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu are clearly of one mind that nothing should be allowed to hinder their burying of the hatchet.

In today’s Middle East’s crazy slalom of events, whereby every few hours, new conflicts spring up and new deals are forged – only to end in tatters a couple of days later (e.g. Tehran’s abrupt reversal of its permission to allow the Russia an air base in Western Iran), bilateral realpolitik is bound to be the order of the day.

Yesterday’s enemy might be today’s friend, and today’s friend might become tomorrow’s enemy.

The mercurial Turkish president initiated a series of earthshaking moves in the past two weeks:

  • He rid the strategic southern Turkish Incirlik base of the US nuclear arsenal, and is keeping the future of US warplanes there for operations in Syria up in the air, amid talk of opening the base for the use of the Russian air force.
  • Joined Russia and Iran to establish a new Middle East alliance.
  • Opened a direct line of communication from Ankara to Syria’s Bashar Assad. Turkish MIT Secret Service director Hakan Fidan paid a visit to Damascus.
    Working with Israel therefore did not stop the Turkish leader from going after a deal with the Syrian ruler at the same time.
  • Erdogan plans a visit to Tehran for a grand friendship photo op with Iranian leaders with the same fanfare as his summit with Vladimir Putin.
  • That summit which ended in an accord to prevent the Kurds from gaining independence in Syria and Iraq let Ankara off the leash for an all out offensive against the YPG Syrian Kurdish army in northern Syria.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 24, the Turkish army crossed the border to attack ISIS strongholds in the border town of Jarablus, so intervening in the Syrian conflict to block the Kurdish assault on the jihadists.
  • Ankara has also stepped up its interference with Egyptian and Saudi policies in the Middle East.

How does the Turkish leader reconcile his contradictory polices?

On the one hand he initiates open friendship with Israel while, at the same time, forging alliances with its enemies in Tehran, Damascus and Gaza. How does Israel perceive Ankara’s hostile steps against its friends and allies, the Americans, Egyptians, Saudi and Kurds?

The wily Erdogan appears to believe that he can use his friendship with Israel as a fig leaf. Whenever the US or others chastise him for his negative actions, he can point out that even Israel goes along with his policies.

As for Netanyahu, he appears to have taken a leaf out of President Barack Obama’s Middle East book.

In the face of all Erdogan’s provocations and betrayals, Obama goes overboard to hold Washington’s line to Ankara in place and hold Turkey back from irrevocably quitting NATO.

To do just that, he even sent Vice President Joe Biden to Ankara Wednesday, Aug. 24.

As a global power, the US can afford to look the other way when Erdogan goes over the top, even though it is hard to see where he is going.

Israel, on the other hand, can’t afford to let itself be used as Erdogan’s alibi, without damaging its precious ties with Washington and risk impairing the understandings Netanyahu has been able to develop with Egypt and Saudi Arabia. It would be a mistake to try and isolate the relationship with Ankara as a purely bilateral issue without expecting a backlash on Israel’s other ties.