About the author  ⁄ Adam Turner

Adam Turner is the general counsel & legislative affairs director for the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images

On December 19, 2018, President Donald Trump announced by tweet that he was withdrawing all the estimated 2,200 American troops currently in Syria.

The president wrote, “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.” Trump also promised in a video message on Twitter that, “Our boys, our young women, our men, they’re all coming back and they’re coming back now. We won.”

About 2,000 of these troops direct the air and land war against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in coordination with the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF). The remaining 200 are at al-Tanf, a crucial base at the Syrian-Iraqi border which blocks Iran from completing its land bridge to Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan. In both areas, the U.S. troops have only very rarely been exposed to combat situations.

Since his initial announcement, the president and his aides have somewhat walked back these tweets.

For that, I am glad. I strongly believe the U.S. should keep its troops in Syria.

As I see it, there are at least three national interests that favor the U.S. staying the course there.

First, the U.S. clearly has a national interest in destroying ISIS. ISIS had conducted numerous attacks — both in the Middle East and outside of it — against Americans, killing and wounding many of them. It even executed some U.S. reporters. And unfortunately, ISIS is still a threat; the UN has reported that ISIS may have up to 30,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria, plus there are ISIS sympathizers in the U.S.

Second, the U.S. has a national interest in keeping true to its alliance with the Kurds/SDF. It is important to remember that the Syrian Kurds originally only had an interest in pushing back ISIS from Kurdish majority areas. But at the behest of the U.S., the Kurds aligned with other moderate Syrian forces to create the SDF and act as the ground forces for the U.S.-led fight against ISIS in non-Kurdish areas as well. They went as far south as Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State, which is overwhelmingly Arabic in population. Thousands of Syrian Kurds/fighters from the SDF were killed or wounded in this fighting.

In return for the SDF efforts, the U.S. promised to supply the SDF with weapons and equipment and to provide the air power for strikes against ISIS. But the U.S. provided another service to the SDF as well. By stationing troops within SDF controlled territory, the U.S. was able to deter attacks from other bad actors, especially Turkey. This allowed the SDF to focus on destroying ISIS.

However, in SDF dominated areas that didn’t have U.S. troops, like in Afrin, Turkey was able to invade and crush the SDF. This invasion delayed the SDF’s campaign against ISIS. Therefore, if the U.S. removes the troops from the other areas controlled by the SDF, the Turks are likely to invade again, and the fight against ISIS would be further delayed.

Even worse, removing U.S. troops from Syria would disincentivize the SDF, and other observing groups/nations, from making any future deals with the unreliable U.S. This seems to violate the Trump doctrine. According to Sebastian Gorka (see 29:00), the Trump doctrine calls for the U.S. to help our friends fight their own wars for themselves. It is specifically meant to create trust between the U.S. and our allies. Removing the U.S. troops would do just the opposite with our SDF allies who are fighting their wars for themselves and for the U.S., but are also relying on the U.S. for support.

Third, the U.S. has a national interest in not allowing its enemies/rivals, such as Russia and Iran, to gain control or influence over more Syrian territory. Russia, of course, has long been a super power opponent of the U.S. Iran, meanwhile, is even more dangerous. The Iranian regime preaches “death to America” and has sponsored numerous acts of war against the U.S. If the U.S. troops leave Syria, the SDF will be forced to cooperate with those two nations and their puppet, the Assad regime. In fact, it is already happening. Removal of the U.S. troops will also allow Iran to solidify its ‘Shia crescent’ land bridge from Iran to Lebanon, on which it has transported soldiers, weapons, and missiles, and thus endanger the U.S., international shipping, as well as U.S. allies such as Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, among others.

An evaluation of the costs further demonstrates the wisdom of keeping U.S. troops in Syria.

Since 2014, the Defense Department has spent roughly $45 billion in Syria, or roughly $7 billion a year, out of a full annual defense budget of $600-700 billion. More importantly, there have been very few U.S. casualties in Syria. Only 6 American’s have been killed since 2014. (Another 4 U.S. soldiers have died while serving as volunteers with the SDF.)

I understand that many Americans are tired of the “endless” wars in the Middle East. And I get that they are greatly concerned with the high cost of these wars for American ‘blood’ and ‘treasure.’ But the U.S. troops in Syria are safeguarding important U.S. national interests, and they are doing so at virtually no cost to the U.S. We should not be removing them at this time.

Originally published at: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/syria-trump-troops-isis/2019/01/16/id/898488/ 

Read More →

The murder of Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents has dominated foreign policy news for months. Prominent members of Congress are increasingly upset that the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia has interfered with the rigorous pursuit of justice for Khashoggi. After all, they argue, Jamal Khashoggi was a US resident, so there should be consequences for the man who, according to the CIA, planned his murder – Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman – the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. Many of these members of Congress also argue that Khashoggi’s murder is so serious that the strong, longtime, US-Saudi relationship must be re-evaluated if there is no justice.

But the Khashoggi case is hardly unique. In fact, there is a similar, but far more serious, situation that resulted in the deaths of two American citizens and the wounding of several others. This occurred on August 9, 2001, when a Sbarro Pizzeria in Jerusalem was pulverized by a suicide bomber.

On that day, Malki Roth, a 15-year-old girl; Judith Greenbaum, a pregnant 31-year-old woman; other American citizens; and many Israelis went to the Sbarro Pizzeria to enjoy some American-style pizza. The Pizzeria, on Ben Yehuda Street, was one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in Jerusalem and was a popular place, especially for families with children. At approximately 2 p.m., at the height of the lunch hour, a blast went off. A Palestinian terrorist named Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri had triggered a powerful bomb that was hidden in his guitar case, which was also packed with nails, nuts and bolts in order to cause maximum damage.

Fifteen people were killed in the blast, eight of them children, and 130 more people were wounded. Malki Roth was a teenager so thoughtful and loving that she often helped her mother care for her handicapped sibling. And Judith Greenberg, an only child who arrived in Israel with her husband as part of her graduate studies, who was five months pregnant at the time. Another four US citizens – David Danzig, Matthew Gordon, Joanne Nachenberg and Sara Nachenberg – were wounded. To this day, Joanne Nachenberg remains in a vegetative state.

Ahlam Tamimi, a Palestinian Arab citizen of Jordan, was the terrorist planner of this operation. She was a 20-year-old student at the time and a supporter of Hamas. Tamimi had even accompanied the suicide bomber there, leaving just before the blast. We know all of this because Tamimi has brazenly bragged about it time and time again, in television and radio interviews, many of which come up in a simple Google search.

Tamimi has spoken about how she spent nine days looking for the perfect place to maximize deaths, how disappointed she initially was when it was first reported that there were only a few deaths, and how important it was to her and the bomber that religious Jews be in the blast area. In all her videos she expressed delight at her actions. In one particularly chilling video, Tamimi was asked if she knew how many children she killed. Her response was “three,” and when she was corrected with the true number – eight – a huge, self-satisfied smile crossed her face.

In late 2002, Tamimi was sentenced by an Israeli court to 16 multiple sentences for her part in this massacre. However, on October 19, 2011, she, together with 1,026 other terrorists, were traded for Gilad Schalit, the Israeli soldier held by Hamas.

 

When Ahlam Tamimi was released she was deported to Jordan, where she received a hero’s welcome. As a terrorist, she received money from the Palestinian Authority, at least $52,681, under the “pay-for-slay” program. The Hamas television station Al-Quds gave Tamimi her own television show, which aired every Friday and, until recently, was broadcast around the world. She married her cousin, Nazir Tamimi, who also had been serving time in an Israeli prison for killing an Israeli citizen, and who also was released in exchange for Gilad Schalit. Their wedding was broadcast throughout the Arab world.For decades, we at the Endowment for Middle East Truth have worked exhaustedly to get justice for the families of the Americans killed and wounded in Israel and the disputed territories by Palestinian terrorists like Ahlam Tamimi. We have successfully worked with Congress on multiple letters to the Department of Justice, and twice inspired hearings on the subject. At the second hearing, Arnold Roth, the father of Malki, was brought in to testify. At that hearing, for the first time ever, Brad Wiegmann, the deputy assistant attorney-general in the National Security Division, who supervises these prosecutions, was called to account for the DOJ’s lack of prosecution and was forced to provide a future report to the subcommittee.

Largely because it is so egregious, there has been some progress in the Tamimi case. In 2013, after the congressional letters, Tamimi was indicted by the Obama administration, and her extradition was requested from Jordan. In 2017, after the hearings, the indictment was made public by the Trump administration. But the Jordanian government has refused to extradite Tamimi, claiming there is no valid extradition treaty with the US. They refused, even though the US and Jordan signed an extradition treaty in 1995 that the State Department and the DOJ still recognize as valid. They refused even though in 1995, in 2006 and in 2015, Jordan extradited three criminal terrorists to the US that were wanted there. And they refused even though the Jordanian government receives more than a billion dollars a year in aid from the US

This injustice cannot be allowed to stand.

Ahlam Tamimi is a brutal terrorist murderer who has killed and wounded American citizens. She has reveled in her crimes and urged others to follow in her footsteps. Letting her live unmolested, celebrated and financially rewarded in Jordan is obscene. If the US needs to punish the man Mohammed Bin Salman who planned the murder of US resident Jamal Khashoggi, and the nation Saudi Arabia that protects him, then our nation should also punish Ahlam Tamimi who killed and wounded US citizens, and Jordan, the nation that is protecting her. Justice demands nothing less.

Sarah N. Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth. Adam Turner is its general counsel & legislative affairs director.

Originally published at: https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/When-diplomacy-interferes-with-justice-574420
Read More →

Recently, after holding American citizen Andrew Brunson in prison for over two years, the Turkish regime finally let him go.

In response, President Trump tweeted, “There was, however, great appreciation on behalf of the United States, which will lead to good, perhaps great, relations between the United States & Turkey!”

Hopefully, the President is going to limit his actions to this simple tweet of appreciation.

Andrew Brunson was nothing more than a hostage of the Turkish President. Brunson’s trial was a sham, with ridiculous charges and evidence. President Erdogan clearly intended to trade Brunson for Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish imam in exile in Pennsylvania, whom Mr. Erdogan accuses, without credible evidence, of plotting an anti-Erdogan 2016 coup in Turkey. The fact that Brunson was finally released when the Turks wanted to curry favor with Trump doesn’t change that he was unjustly grabbed and imprisoned in the first place.

The Turks’ release of Brunson is related to the disappearance of Saudi citizen and U.S. resident, Jamal Khashoggi.

“The Khashoggi affair has presented a unique opportunity to undermine Saudi influence, potentially creating a regional power void for Turkey to fill,” according to Axios.

But, according to The Federalist, to fill that power void, Turkey had “to improve their position by giving the Trump administration something it wanted.”

So, they gave up Brunson. However, it should be noted that Brunson is not the only U.S. citizen held hostage by the Turks. Serkan Golge and Ismail Kul, two Turkish-American scientists, are still being imprisoned by the Erdogan regime. There are also three Turkish citizens who work in the U.S. consulate that are being held.

So, the U.S. shouldn’t be rewarding Turkish hostage taking, especially because we have countless examples of earlier instances where the U.S. rewarded hostage takers and suffered later for it. For example, leading up to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran held a number of hostages, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian. When the Iran deal was finalized, the Obama administration shelled out $1.7 billion to Iran, in cash, to ransom four hostages. The Obama administration claimed this was not ransom; however, the money was not released to Iran until the U.S. had confirmation that the Iranian plane carrying the Americans had taken off, and Iranian officials told the press the cash was “a ransom payment.”

What was the result of this ransom payment to Iran? Nothing good for the U.S.

Soon after, Iran began to grab more hostages.

Further, Iran continued to vocally demonstrate their hostility to the U.S., and to actively wage war against our forces and interests in the region, despite the U.S. ransom payment, and the JCPOA’s other monetary rewards.

Likewise, the Turks under President Erdogan are also not going to change their anti-American stripes, even if the U.S. gives them some rewards for their release of Andrew Brunson.

President Erdogan has very different political interests than does the U.S. He is a proponent of radical Islam, and is a determined opponent of democracy and human rights. In fact, according to the former U.S. National Security Advisor, Turkey is taking on a “new role” as a key funder of Islamist ideology that targets western interests.

Although Turkey is part of NATO, the Turks have not been good allies in years, as they threaten fellow NATO member Greece, interfere in the use of the Incirlik base by other NATO allies like Germany and the U.S., conduct joint military exercises with China, and buy the s-400 missile system from Russia. (Eventually Turkey hopes to produce the s-500 as well.) The Turkish regime continues to threaten Israel. His regime continues to vow to buy oil from Iran, despite the sanctions that the Trump administration are reinstituting. And his country still allows ISIS recruits to cross its border into Syria, at a rate of about 100 a month.

The Turks also have a tremendous rivalry with the various Kurdish forces in the region, including the Syrian and Iraqi Kurds, which are both strong allies of the U.S. Turkey has long feared that independence/autonomy for these Kurds would in turn inspire the same in Turkey’s large and growing Kurdish minority. As a result, Erdogan has attacked the Syrian Kurdish-led Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) multiple times, and is reportedly planning to use the jihadists groups in Syria, including al-Qaeda associates, against them (the SDF). Turkey has even gone so far as to threaten to attack U.S. forces in Syria for their willingness to work with the SDF.

The fact that the Turks finally released Andrew Brunson when it became convenient for them to do so does not mean that Turkey is any better an ally of the U.S. than it was the day before Jamal Khashoggi disappeared. It isn’t. And the U.S. shouldn’t be rewarding President Erdogan’s consistent bad behavior.

Originally published: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/turkey-erdogan-hostages-trump/2018/10/22/id/887439/

Photo: The Milli Chronicle

Read More →

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s September 21 opinion editorial in The Washington Post is extremely dishonest – in its depictions of Iran and of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran deal.

The dishonesty begins in the very title of the piece, when Rouhani – the figurehead leader of Iran who actually reports to the Iranian dictator, the Ayatollah Khamenei – claims that “Iran is keeping its nuclear commitments.”

This is simply not true. Iran is actually in violation of many of the commitments it made during the 2015 Iran deal. Most importantly, contrary to the clear language of the deal – see Q, 74 that permitted inspections at military sites which “will not be aimed at interfering with Iranian military or other national security activities” – Iran has banned the international inspectors from inspecting any of the military sites in Iran. These sites are exactly where any nuclear weapons development would be occurring. Rather than push back against this Iranian violation, the international inspectors have timidly avoided the issue by refusing to ask for any inspections of those sites.

Also, without these inspections of military sites, the international community has no way of knowing if Iran is keeping its other nuclear commitments.

But that is not all. Iran has also produced excessive heavy water, which it was allowed to sell on the open market for substantial monetary gain. Iran has exceeded the limits on advanced centrifuge research and development by building and operating larger numbers of such centrifuges than the deal allows. Iran is violating Section T of the deal, which explicitly bans Iran from “activities which could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”

German intelligence has frequently reported that despite the JCPOA prohibitions, Iran has continued illicit attempts to buy nuclear and missile technology outside of JCPOA-approved channels. And Iran has violated the UN Resolution enshrining the agreement, by shipping weapons and even ballistic missiles all around the Middle East.

And there are other breaches as well.

IN THE FIRST paragraph of the Post op-ed, Rouhani also laughably lauds Iran as a nation that has a “tradition of respect for the rule of law and norms of international law.” This would be news to any objective observer of the Middle East. In 1979, in its very first year in existence, student ideologues from the Islamic Republic of Iran violated the sanctity of the US Embassy to seize American hostages, whom they held for 444 days. These students were supported and eventually directed by then-Iranian dictator, the Ayatollah Khomeini.

Starting that same year, almost 40 years ago, the Islamic Republic of Iran has had the distinction of being the “leading state sponsor of terrorism” throughout the world. Iran birthed Hezbollah, which prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001, had killed more Americans than any other terror organization. Hezbollah has also killed Europeans, South Americans and, of course, many Middle Easterners as well.

Iran supports additional terror groups like Hamas, the Polisario Front in Morocco, al-Qaeda and many others. It backed terror groups in Afghanistan and Iraq, which during the post-US invasions, killed or wounded hundreds if not thousands of American soldiers. Iran also has frequently attacked international vessels in the Persian Gulf, including taking hostage American and British sailors. And it has supported the war crimes of the Assad regime in Syria, which includes using chemical weapons to slaughter children.

Later in the op-ed, Rouhani claims that the US government “has officially reneged on its international commitments, most notably UN Security Council resolution 2231,” and through its “illegal exit” from the Iran deal. Both of these claims are dishonest. Regarding the latter, the Iran deal “is not a treaty or an executive agreement” or in any way “legally binding” – it is an unsigned document between the Obama administration, Iran and several other governments. The Obama administration made no attempt to make this deal constitutional – and thereby more permanent – by using the treaty process, or even by enshrining it as an executive agreement. Successive US administrations, therefore, are not required to follow the JCPOA.

THE US ALSO is not reneging on its international commitments. Part of the UN resolution is simply the JCPOA which, as we know, is not legally binding. The rest of the resolution does have some obligatory parts; however, none of these legally-required sections have been violated by the US.

When it comes to implementing the JCPOA, the relevant language from the UN resolution simply “calls upon all Members States, regional organizations and international organizations to take such actions as may be appropriate to support the implementation of the JCPOA, including by taking actions commensurate with the implementation plan set out in the JCPOA and this resolution, and by refraining from actions that undermine implementation of commitments under the JCPOA…” Note that this language does not require that any nation support the JCPOA: it just “calls upon them” to do so.

Finally, the idea that “Iran has not engaged in any external aggression during the past 250 years” and has “peace” in its arsenal is belied by the very violent and aggressive record of the Islamic Republic. Once again, see Iran’s 40 years as the leading terror state, partly documented above.

Rouhani’s Washington Post op-ed is nothing more than pure propaganda from an enemy (regime) against the United States. It certainly should not be taken seriously by anyone truly knowledgeable about the truth.

Originally published: https://www.jpost.com//Opinion/Rouhanis-deceptive-UN-speech-568416

Photo: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Read More →

It has become conventional wisdom that in 1953, the United States’ CIA led a coup to overthrow the then-Prime Minister of Iran, Mossadegh, for nationalizing the Iranian oil industry, and that many of the U.S.’s problems with the current Iranian government stem from this coup. Former President Barack Obama believes this conventional wisdom. So does much of Hollywood, as demonstrated by the popular film “Argo.”

The latest media outlet to echo this popular notion is the Associated Press.

According to the AP, “more and more officials across Iran’s political spectrum are reevaluating and invoking Mossadegh’s stand as they oppose Trump.” The article then quotes two of those officials — Iranian President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif. Rouhani has asserted that “The U.S. owes the Iranian nation for its intervention in Iran,” while Zarif has complained on Twitter that “The US overthrew the popularly elected democratic government of Dr. Mossadegh, restoring the dictatorship & subjugating Iranians for the next 25 years.”

The only problem with this conventional wisdom is that it is all wrong.

First of all, technically, there was no coup.

Mossadegh was the Prime Minister of Iran, and as such, under the constitution then in place, he could constitutionally be removed by the Iranian Shah. And the Shah did, indeed, dismiss Mossadegh. In fact, the only unconstitutional behavior came from Mossadegh, who refused to step down, and ordered the arrest of the officers who tried to deliver the Shah’s notice of dismissal. This prompted the Shah to flee Iran. Opponents to Mossadegh then organized protests against the Prime Minister. When Mossadegh called out the army to restore order, the army instead ousted him.

Second, the CIA was not really the driving force behind the removal of Mossadegh. One CIA agent, in his biography, took credit for the protests that eventually led to the removal of Mossadegh. But declassified documents from the CIA demonstrate just the opposite. During the crisis, the CIA station in Tehran reported the anti-Mossadegh protests “contained a large element of spontaneity and there seemed to have been a genuine reaction of shock and dismay on part of the Tehran populace when the Shah left Iran for Iraq.” They also admitted that the “CIA cut out of military preparations by [General Nader] Batmangeliche and Zahedi.” And CIA acting director Charles Cabell briefed President Eisenhower that “an unexpected strong upsurge of popular and military reaction to Prime Minister Mossadeq’s government has resulted according to late dispatches from Tehran in the virtual occupation of that city by forces proclaiming their loyalty to the Shah, and to his appointed Prime Minister Zahedi.”

Third, as I have written before, it is beyond hypocritical for officials from the Islamic Regime to claim to be offended by the Mossadegh’s removal. This is because the Iranian regime’s founding father, the Ayatollah Khomeini, and indeed, much of the Shia clergy of Iran in the 1950’s, opposed Mossadegh and/or participated in his removal.

Khomeini himself was not actually involved in the 1953 protests. However, he was a strong opponent of the Prime Minister. Years later, Khomeini was interviewed about Mossadegh, and he “famously remarked that Mossadegh deserved to be slapped” because “‘had he survived, he would have slapped Islam.’” Khomeini’s criticism was in reference to Mossadegh’s secular left background, and Mossadegh’s plans to remove the ban on alcohol and enfranchise women.

But that is not all. The leading Shia clerics of that period, including Ayatollah Borujerdi and Ayatollah Kashani, played an active role in the plotting against Mossadegh. Both men are revered in the Islamic Republic. Initially, the clerics organized a religious faction in opposition to the prime minister in the parliament. Later, they sponsored some of the protests against him. By the end, and right before Mossadegh’s removal, the CIA station was reporting, “Religious leaders now desperate. Will attempt anything. Will try [to] save Islam and Shah of Iran.”

Rouhani or Zarif are almost certainly aware of these facts. Rouhani is himself a cleric; but both men must be religious to have attained high office in the Islamic Republic. They know who Mossadegh was, and what he tried to do, and how the Islamic Regime really feels about this secular leftist.

But these officials are also familiar with the guilt many Americans have about the “1953 Iranian coup.” And how they can use this guilt to benefit their own regime.

Once again, officials of the Iranian regime are trolling the gullible Americans.

Originally published at: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/coup-mossadegh-shah-iran/2018/08/31/id/879738/

Photo: STF/AFP/Getty Image

Read More →

Recently, Turkey released imprisoned U.S. citizen Andrew Brunson, an evangelical pastor of a small church in Turkey with about 25 congregants, to house arrest.

Brunson however, is still on trial on charges of aiding terror groups and engaging in espionage. Brunson was grabbed by the Turkish authorities about two years ago, right after an attempted coup against the Turkish President and quasi-dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He has spent the past two years in a Turkish prison. Turkey claimed that Brunson has illegal links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and to Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, both of which are bitter enemies of Erdogan. If he is convicted of his “crimes,” Brunson may be imprisoned for a term of 35 years.

Brunson is clearly being railroaded by the Turks.

An expose of the charges against the pastor revealed that among them are that:

  • Brunson received a picture of a dish that is the signature dish of a terrorist organization in Turkey;
  • Brunson appeared in a photo with a man with a yellow, red, and green scarf, which are the PKK colors;
  • Brunson published Bibles in the Kurdish language.

In other words, this is nothing more than a kangaroo court trial. Which shouldn’t be too surprising, considering that in Turkey, insulting the president is a crime punishable by up to four years in prison, and even school children have been prosecuted.

Then again, the Turkish President has made it clear that Brunson is not really an accused criminal at all; he is a political hostage. Erdogan has offered to trade Brunson for Fethullah Gulen, who currently lives in Pennsylvania. Erdogan has accused Gulen, Erdogan’s former ally, of being the instigator of the attempted Turkish coup. But he has produced no convincing evidence for the U.S. to mandate an extradition of Gulen.

Needless to say, allied nations don’t take as hostage citizens of their allies. For that matter, civilized nations don’t take hostages, period.

President Erdogan is not really a U.S. ally, however. He has been in power since 2003, and in those fifteen years, he has aided the Shia Islamist regime of Iran in evading international sanctions; facilitated ISIS’ expansion through oil smuggling and being a conduit for new ISIS recruits and supplies; and threatened U.S. troops with violence for their assistance to the Kurds. Under his leadership, as noted by the former U.S. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, Turkey has taken on a “new role” as a main sponsor of funding for radical Islamist ideology. Included in this is that Turkey has developed good relationships with federally designated terror organizations such as Hamas, and the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda.

Erdogan has also demonstrated his lack of trustworthiness as an ally by purchasing the S-400 missile system from Russia, which is a violation of Turkey’s duties as a NATO member. The missile system cannot be made interoperable with NATO and U.S. assets deployed in Turkish territory. It also conflicts with Turkey’s purchase of 100 F-35 fighter jets. These jets, which are the latest in NATO technology, would have to be connected to the S-400 system. But this would compromise the jet’s security, as any data collected by the S-400 system and obtained by Russia could help expose the joint strike fighter’s vulnerabilities. To make things even worse, Erdogan has proposed that Turkey and Russia work together on the S-500 missile system.

President Trump and other U.S. officials lobbied Turkish officials for months to release Brunson, and Trump himself tweeted about it, saying that the situation was a “total disgrace,” and threatened sanctions if Brunson was not released. Congress, in a provision in the final National Defense Authorization Act, also called on Turkey “to release wrongfully detained U.S. citizens including Andrew Brunson and Serkan Golge.”

Finally, a deal was made at the NATO summit, which would pair the release of Brunson (from all legal jeopardy) with the release of a Turkish terrorist in Israel. But then Erdogan reneged on that deal. (Although Erdogan claims there was no deal).

So, the question is, what is the U.S. planning to do about Turkey’s hostage taking and other bad behavior?

There needs to be real consequences to Turkey’s persecution of Andrew Brunson, and any other American unfairly held in a Turkish prison. Both the Trump administration and Congress are considering sanctioning Turkey if Brunson is not released. They should do so, immediately.

At some point, however, the U.S. is going to have to address the elephant in the room — Turkey’s continued membership in NATO. Unfortunately, the NATO Treaty has no way to remove any members, unless the nation in question is willing to leave (as France once did).

But NATO allies don’t behave like Turkey has, under Erdogan.

Just ask Andrew Brunson.

Originally published at: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/turkey-erdogan-nato/2018/08/01/id/874925/

Photo: Mike Hutchings/AFP/Getty Images

Read More →

 

Iranian Foreign Minister — and chief propagandist — Javad Zarif is very upset with the U.S. and the Trump administration.

We know this because of the long, rambling letter he produced, responding to a speech by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that outlines the U.S.’s twelve conditions for a new nuclear deal with the Iranian regime. In his letter, Zarif compiled a total of twenty-seven conditions for any deal with the U.S. Many of these requirements are absurd on their face.

One of Zarif’s criticisms was as follows:

The United States must abandon its policy of resorting to the threat or use of force — which constitute a breach of the preemptory norms of international law and principles of the Charter of the United Nations — as an option in the conduct of its foreign affairs with or against the Islamic Republic of Iran and other states.

If only Iran followed its own foreign minister’s advice.

Just last week, Iran made it very clear that it believes strongly in using both threats of force and force itself.

First, an Iranian diplomat and other Iranian nationals were arrested for plotting a bomb attack on a rally held by an exiled Iranian opposition group in France. The Belgian authorities found 500 grams of the powerful homemade explosive TATP and an ignition mechanism hidden in a toiletry bag in a car.

The rally, which attracted thousands of participants, took place in Villepinte, just outside of Paris. Many prominent Americans attended this event, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former FBI Director Louis Freeh.

The Iranian diplomat arrested was the “third counselor” based in Vienna, Austria.

Then, Iran threatened the world’s oil supply. After supposed “moderate” Iranian President Rouhani hinted at it, not one, but two, prominent Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) leaders explicitly threatened the oil supply. “If they want to stop Iranian oil exports, we will not allow any oil shipment to pass through the Strait of Hormuz,” IRGC commander Ismail Kowsari said.

And Qasem Soleimani, the IRGC Quds force commander wrote in a letter to Rouhani that was made public that the IRGC “is ready to implement a policy that hinders regional oil exports if the United States bans Iranian oil sales.”

It is particularly important to stress that in both of these cases, Iran is targeting nations and people who are actually sympathetic and catering to it. Iran threatened the oil supply because of the U.S. decision to remove itself from the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) and reimpose sanctions in May.

Much of the oil that comes through the Gulf is going to European and Asian nations, four of whom — China, France, Germany, and the UK — are still participating in the JCPOA, and virtually all of the other nations support the JCPOA. And the bombing could have killed or injured hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent Europeans in Villepinte, presumably mostly French.

Then again, none of this should be a surprise, as, contrary to Zarif’s statement, Iran has a long history of “resorting to the threat or use of force.”

As is well-known, the Iranian regime organizes rallies every February to mark the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, arranges June rallies during its celebration of al-Quds day, and also organizes demonstrations every November to commemorate the taking of the American hostages in 1979. At all three events, the crowds shout “Death to America” and “Death to (Israel).”

Even when the U.S. was trying to make nice with the Iranians, under the Obama administration, the Iranians didn’t let up. During that time, the Iranians chanted “Death to Obama,” and “Death to Kerry.” Also, Iranians set up a booth to throw shoes at President Obama, hung Obama in effigy, and used an image of Obama to throw darts at.

And, certainly, Iran is not known for making idle threats. During the 1980s, Iran previously attacked international ships carrying oil through the Persian Gulf. During the 1980s and 1990s, it used its proxy Hezbollah to kill and injure hundreds of Americans and others.

During the U.S.-led war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Taliban controlled Afghanistan, Iran supplied Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFP’s) and other weapons to Iraqi and Afghani terrorists that killed more than 1100 U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. These EFP’s also killed British troops.

Today, Iran is bankrolling the Syrian regime that has killed hundreds of thousands of its own people, Shia militias in Iraq, Yemen’s Houthis, and Hamas. Today, Iran is training Sunni Muslim Taliban on the condition that they “should put more focus on attacking American and NATO interests in Afghanistan . . . ”

Zarif can say whatever he wants. But facts are facts, and Iran’s record of threatening other nations and attacking other nations (sometimes through proxies) is easily available for all to see.

There is a reason that Iran has been called the leading state sponsor of terrorism for the last three decades.

Originally published at: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/efp-jcpoa-kerry/2018/07/12/id/871420/

Read More →

On June 24, the voters of Turkey will presumably have their last and best chance to oust their Islamist and sometimes unhinged leader President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Two things seem to have endangered Erdogan’s campaign to extend his sixteen-year tenure as leader. Turkey isfacing a full-blown currency run, jeopardizing its economic prosperity, and the normally fractured opposition parties have finally begun to coordinate their hostility to Erdogan. The opposition coalition, however, excludes the Kurdish leftist party,People’s Democratic Party (HDP), whose candidate for presidency is behind bars on false charges.

There should be no doubt that it is in the United States national interest to see the Turkish opposition succeed.  Over the past two decades, Erdogan has transformed Turkey from a good and faithful ally of the U.S. and the West to a loud and consistent opponent.

Turkey, under Erdogan, has become increasingly hostile to the U.S.  For example, Turkey isholding two Americans on dubious charges, one of which is a pastor. Turkey may be trying to trade to the U.S. for the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish Islamist whose Gulen Movement was originally allied with Erdogan.  Erdogan had a falling out with Gülen after the attempted coup in Turkey in 2016, which Erdogan blamed on Gülen.  Erdogan also blamed two American critics of his, whom Turkish prosecutorshave issued arrest warrants for, and placed bounties on.  Turkey hasthreatened to attack U.S. forces in Syria for their willingness to work with the Kurds.  During multiple Erdogan visits to the U.S., Turkish security forces have attacked Americans who were peacefully protesting him.

Turkey has also become an increasingly unreliable NATO ally. For example, Turkey has routinely threatened its fellow NATO allies in Europe with Middle East migrants.  It continues to specifically foment trouble with fellow NATO member Greece.  In 2017 alone, there was a record3,317 airspace and 1,998 territorial water violations by Turkey in the Aegean Sea, where Turkey claims additional islands, and Erdogan has publicly called for a revision of the treaty that defines the borders of the modern Turkish state. Turkey also continues to occupy a portion of Cyprus andhas threatenedGreece over that as well. Turkeyeven purchaseda S-400 surface-to-air missile system from Russia, even though the system cannot be integrated into NATO’s military architecture as is required, which are set to be delivered July 2019.

Turkey has also played games over the U.S. air base at Incirlik in Southern Turkey, where NATO has nuclear weapons.  In 2003, the Turks refused to allow the U.S. to attack Iraq from the base.  In 2015, after initial hesitancy, Turkeygave their support to the U.S. against the Islamic State (ISIS), although that may have been a way to “forestallfurther Kurdish gains in the eastern border region.”  Post-2016 coup, topressure the U.S., power to the base was cut off for 6 days, and later, Turkish troopssurrounded it.  Meanwhile, in 2016, Turkeypreemptively offeredRussia the go-ahead to use Incirlik for its operations in Syria, even though Russia had no need for it.

As noted by the former U.S. National Security Advisor, Turkeyhas taken on a “new role” as a main sponsor of funding for Islamist ideology that targets western interests.  Turkeyassisted Iran in fraudulentlyevadingWestern sanctions.  Turkey aided ISIS, byallowing men and supplies to move across its borders, and also played  a key role in facilitating its’ expansion through black market oil sales – over $1 billion worth.  Further, Turkey is aleading financer of Hamas, a U.S. designated terrorist organization, providing $250 million a year, and has allowed leaders of Hamas to operate in the country.

Most recently, under Erdogan’s leadership, Turkey invaded Afrin, Syria, perhaps the only area in Syria that was relatively peaceful (until the invasion).  Afrin was targeted by Erdogan because it was controlled by the only real U.S. allies in Syria, the Syrian Kurds; Erdogan is known to be suffering from a harsh case ofKurdophobia, largely because of his fear of the expanding Turkish Kurdish minority.  The Syrian Kurds make up the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who, working with about 2000 U.S. troops, have been the main drivers behind the successful campaign against ISIS in Syria, and they have established a generally moderate and democratic form of government in their portion of Syria.  This unfortunately successful Turkish invasion hasresulted in the deaths of hundreds of Kurdish fighters and civilians, theforced resettlement/ethnic cleansing of over a hundred thousand people, the expansion of the Turkish controlled zone in Syria, whichis governed by that nation and its jihadist allies under sharia law, and adelay in the fight against ISIS.  Now the Turks are threatening Manbij, an SDF controlled Arab city where U.S. troops are actually stationed, leaving open the possibility that there could be American casualties.

By the way, Turkey also is “friendly” with other jihadists in the Syrian province of Idlib, including groups affiliated with Al Qaeda.

In the early years of his political career, Recep Tayyip Erdogan famously said that “democracy is like a train; you get off once you have reached your destination.”  His final destination could be coming up on June 24th. This may be his last opportunity to be thrown off the train before he reaches it.

Originally published at: https://web.archive.org/web/20180612233147/http://thenationaldiscourse.com/can-erdogan-be-thrown-from-democracy-train-2891/

Read More →

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Islamist clerical dictator of Iran, recently made news by criticizing the U.S. policy of separating illegal immigrant children from their parents when they are caught attempting to enter the U.S.:

You see who your enemies are and how cruelly they stand before, not only the Iranian nation, but the whole of humanity. The matter of separating thousands of children from their mothers [at the U.S. border] is a serious issue. One cannot watch with a sound state of mind these children crying on TV. How can they commit such a crime of separating children from their mothers for the excuse of implementing some policy? This shows how evil they really are.”

This criticism by the Supreme Leader is rich, indeed.

Regardless of what you think about this particular American policy, there can be no doubt that Iran has a truly miserable human rights record. This record is so bad that it is impossible to take Khamenei’s criticism seriously, as his regime has done far worse to people, including its own citizens, including non-citizens who entered Iran legally or illegally, and including children.

Iran has long used child soldiers to fight its wars. During the Iran-Iraq War, Iran — then under Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini and under the Presidency of Khamenei — brainwashed its own children to clear minefields. These children were given plastic keys and were told that these keys and their martyrdom — by running over the mines and detonating themselves — would allow them to enter heaven. Thousands of Iranian children were killed as a result. More recently, Iran has recruited Iranian teenagers to fight in the Syrian civil war.

Iran has also conducted “a staggering execution spree” under its current figurehead president, Rouhani, despite his supposed “moderate” status. As a result, in 2017, “more than half (51 percent) of all recorded executions in 2017 were carried out in Iran.” Iranian children are among those put to death. Iran once even went so far as to execute the entire adult male population of a village for drug offences.

Iranians are punished not just for what we would call crimes: homosexuals are hung from cranes, women who conduct extramarital relationships are whipped, Iranians who convert to Christianity (or any other non-Shia Muslim religion) are imprisoned, 10 to 15 years in several cases, and atheists may be tortured and given the death penalty for “apostasy.” Iranians don’t have the right to speak out against the government or vote for the candidates they want to support. And, under Iranian law, girls as young as 13 (and sometimes younger) may be married off to much older men.

Iran also has its own immigrant and illegal immigrant community that it oppresses. There are 3 million Afghani refugees in Iran, only about a third of which are UN registered, whom have fled the long conflict in their homeland. Afghanis in Iran may suffer from severe mistreatment by the Iranian government, including summary deportations, physical abuse at the hands of security forces, limited job opportunities outside menial labor, restricted health insurance, and restricted access to education. This includes Afghani children, of course. Further, facing a shortage of manpower for the wars Iran is involved in — see Iraq and Syria — the Iranian government has bribed or even impressed thousands of Afghani refugees into service, threatening them with deportation if they don’t “volunteer.” This, once again, includes children, some as young as 14.

Iran has a history of grabbing foreign or dual citizens as hostages. In 1979, it grabbed Americans at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, and held (most) of them for 444 days, humiliating, terrorizing, and sometimes torturing them. It currently holds six U.S. persons, Siamak Namazi, Baquer Namazi, Nizar Zakka (a resident), Reza “Robin” Shahini, Karan Vafadari (a resident), graduate student Xiyue Wang, and (probably) a seventh, Robert Levinson. These hostages are most likely being abused. Certainly, other U.S. citizens/residents who were held by Iran illegally and ransomed to the U.S. in 2015, such as Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter, have reported Iranian brutality. While being held in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, Rezaian was forced to sleep on the cold floor under harsh bright lights, was refused any medical care, and was threatened with death.

Iran also continues to be the leading state sponsor of terrorism, killing thousands of innocents over the past forty years. It created and/or funds terror groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. Prior to 9/11, Hezbollah had more American blood on its hands than any other group. Hamas is also responsible for killing U.S. citizens and Israeli civilians, including children. And since the 2015 Iran deal provided it with billions of extra dollars, Iran has doubled down on violence and terror, using its newfound riches to wage wars of aggression throughout the Middle East. This includes in Syria, where the Iranians and their allies have been accused of ethnic cleansing to eradicate Sunni Muslim families and replace them with Shia families.

The record clearly shows that Leader Khamenei is a bloodthirsty Islamist tyrant. There is no way such a person would care in the slightest what is happening to immigrant children half a world away.

This speech just shows that he is a “troll” as well.

Originally published at: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/iran-khamenei-mexico-human-rights/2018/06/25/id/868212/

Read More →

It is getting a little hard to understand the extreme criticism directed towards Israel for the events occurring at the border with the Gaza Strip.

Starting in March, Hamas, the U.S.-designated terrorist organization that runs the Gaza Strip, has directed its fanatics, and many Gaza civilians, to charge into battle at the border with Israel. Palestinian Arabs, tens of thousands of them, have been sent to 13 points along the Israeli border. These “civilians” are often armed with wire cutters, slingshots, knives, firearms, and/or bombs which they have used against the Israeli troops. The Israelis have responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, and, eventually rightly so, regular bullets.

Hamas wins regardless of what happens. Either the individuals who charge at the border are killed by the Israelis, giving Hamas a propaganda victory, or they break through the fence and murder/harm some Jews with their weapons or use their kites to spark fires or cause explosions in Israel. The Hamas leadership calls these demonstrations the “March of Return,” admit they aren’t meant to be peaceful, and say the ultimate goal of the protests is to liberate “Palestine (i.e., all of Israel and Judea and Samaria).” It has also boasted in the past that the Palestinian people have made death into an industry, and women, the elderly, and children all excel at being “human shields.” None of this should be surprising to any observer, since Hamas is a jihadist group whose charter calls for the murder of all Jews, and Hamas television teaches the Palestinian Arab children to “kill all Jews.”

112 Gazan Arabs have been killed so far. No Israelis have died.

Importantly, Hamas leadership has admitted that at least 50 of the 62 Palestinian Arabs killed were actually Hamas terrorists. And a study has shown that 93 of the 112 casualties were terrorist operatives or affiliated with terrorists.

Needless to say, the UN and much of the world have focused all of their ire on Israel, and not Hamas. The UN human rights chief has claimed that Israel used “wholly disproportionate” force. The UN Human Rights Council has voted 29-2 with 14 abstentions to back a resolution that condemned “the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians.” They have also mandated that there be an “independent, international commission of inquiry” to produce a final report in March of 2019. Only the U.S. and Australia voted against this resolution. Seemingly every celebrity or faux celebrity has tweeted their outrage at the Israelis for the mounting death toll in Gaza.

 The whole thing is rather tiresome, if you ask me. The arguments made by critics of Israel no longer make much sense, if they ever did in the first place.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, Hamas and the Gaza Strip are not under Israeli “occupation.” First of all, under former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in 2005, the Israeli troops left the Gaza Strip, which is now controlled completely by Hamas (which even ousted the Palestinian Authority in 2007). Second, even before that, “occupation” has a definite legal term, which does not match either the Gaza Strip (before or after the Israelis left) or the West Bank. Legally speaking, these are “‘disputed territories’ to which both Israelis and Palestinians have claims,” as the U.S. has acknowledged.

So, all of those critics babbling about “occupation” are totally wrong.

Likewise, the idea that Israel has acted in a “disproportionate” and “indiscriminate” manner because there are over a hundred Palestinian Arab casualties, but no dead Israelis, is simply not true. “Proportionality in international law is not about equality of death or civilian suffering, or even about [equality of] firepower. Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against suffering that the action might cause to enemy civilians in the vicinity.” Further, in contrast to the claim that they are firing indiscriminately, the Israelis have bent over backwards to avoid killing any attackers, first trying to keep the protesters away by multiple methods, using tear gas, and warning shots. It has been only after every other method has failed that the Israelis have fired directly on the protesters.

Protesters, I want to reiterate, that are armed and dangerous.

Also, contrary to critics of Israel, this has nothing to do with the U.S. decision to move the Embassy to Jerusalem. The demonstrations began long before that happened; in March. Saying otherwise is just an excuse to attack the current administration by its political opponents, who opposed the Embassy move.

Hamas is a bloodthirsty terror group, which hates Jews. It is trying to do what terror groups normally do — terrorize and kill its enemies. This should be obvious by now. The facts are all out in the open, for anyone to see (or Google).

Any other version of this story, whether peddled by The New York Times or U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, is just more “fake news.”

Originally published: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/gaza-israel-palestinians-hamas-terror/2018/05/31/id/863383/

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Read More →