EMET Expresses its Strong Disappointment with the Decision to Remove U.S. Troops from Syria
(Washington, DC, December 19, 2018) – Today, the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) expressed its strong disappointment with the decision by President Donald Trump to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. In a Wednesday, December 19th tweet, the President said, “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.” The White House then confirmed in a statement that the administration has “started returning United States troops home.” EMET strongly believes this surprising and precipitous withdrawal of all of our troops from Syria endangers U.S. national interests as it is not in line with the American foreign policy principle of standing by our friends, in this case the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF), as well as the State of Israel, and only gives oxygen to our enemies — the Islamic State, the Iranian mullahs, the Assad regime in Syria, Putin’s Russia and Turkey under Erdogan.
There are currently an estimated 2200 U.S. troops in Syria. These troops are located in northeastern Syria in an area controlled by U.S. allies, the SDF, and at the al-Tanf border crossing with Iraq in southeastern Syria. In both areas, the U.S. troops play only a training and support role and have only very rarely been exposed to combat. Their primary mission is to train, equip and advise our partners on the ground.
The SDF is a strong U.S. ally that controls about 30% of Syria. It includes both Syrian Kurds and others who live in that region. Unlike the rest of Syria, civilians in SDF controlled territory have civil, religious, and voting rights. When the IS was ascendant in Syria and Iraq, the Syrian Kurds – who later became the SDF – were the lone moderate force who successfully opposed the IS. At the behest of the U.S., the Syrian Kurds/SDF fought the IS to liberate Syrian civilians in Raqqa and other areas, despite the fact that there were no Syrian Kurds living in the area. Thousands of Syrian Kurds/fighters from the SDF were killed or wounded in this fighting.
By removing U.S. troops from these areas in Syria, the U.S. endangers moderate forces in the region and empowers many bad actors. First, this will likely allow the Islamic State forces to rebound, in a manner similar to what occurred when the U.S. removed troops from Iraq in 2011. Second, this will encourage Islamist Turkish dictator Erdogan to attack the SDF, as Erdogan has always hated and feared any Kurdish groups. Third, this will encourage the Assad regime, backed by its allies the Iranians and Russians, to attack the SDF and the al-Tanf pocket. Fourth, this removal will allow Iran to solidify its ‘Shia crescent’ land bridge from Iran to Lebanon, on which it has transported soldiers and weapons and missiles, and thus endanger U.S. allies such as Israel and Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Fifth, by removing U.S. troops so suddenly, and without concern for the danger it causes to U.S. allies, the U.S. is likely to be seen as an “unreliable ally” by the rest of the world. And finally, this decision should be examined carefully in light of the fact that Iran, which has gotten progressively more and more entrenched in Syria, has just successfully conducted a medium range ballistic missile test, which, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said, “is capable of carrying multiple warheads.”
Sarah Stern, founder and President of EMET stated, “We at EMET have often argued that there should be synergy between good foreign policy, national interest, and what is moral and right. Here there is no synergy. By removing U.S. troops from Syria so precipitously, we are weakening the fight against the Islamic State. It is more than likely that ISIS will now emerge in another form, or some other re-incarnation. We are throwing our SDF allies, and other moderate forces, who have shed their blood fighting the Islamic State, to the wolves of Turkey, the Assad regime in Syria, Iran, and Russia. We are encouraging the world to believe that the U.S. is a feckless and inconsistent ally. This decision will only add to the humanitarian crisis in Syria. And we are allowing Iran to complete its land bridge, thereby endangering other U.S. allies, including our one democratic ally in the region, Israel. And we are leaving Israel, in particular, much more exposed and vulnerable to attack.”
“EMET strongly encourages the President to reconsider his decision soon, before the progress that has been made in the fight against ISIS is damaged, the stability the SDF has created in northeast Syria is destroyed, the enemies of the U.S. are empowered, and the U.S. looks weak abroad,” Stern concluded.
About The Endowment for Middle East Truth
Founded in 2005, EMET’s mission is to educate policymakers in Washington and the general public about the importance of Israel to the United States in their common struggle against radical Islam. For more information, please visit, http://www.emetonline.
(Washington, DC, December 18, 2018) – Today, the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) praised U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) for introducing a resolution encouraging the United States to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
The Golan Heights is an area of approximately 500 square miles that was captured by Israel in its defensive war of 1967, and was successfully retained in its defensive war of 1973 from attacking Syrian forces. It has served as the demarcation line between the chaotic, feuding forces of radical Islam and the liberal, Western-oriented State of Israel. The Golan creates the definitive dividing line between authoritarian rule and a vibrant, thriving democracy. Since 1974, when a Separation of Forces Agreement was negotiated between Israel and Syria, the Golan Heights has remained relatively peaceful, until now.
Because of the seven-year brutal Syrian civil war, the Islamic Republic of Iran has taken advantage of the chaos of the situation, and Iranian-backed forces – including the IRGC and Hezbollah – have penetrated as far south as the Syrian town of Quneitra, making this region a potential line of confrontation. Iran has attacked Israel from Syria this past year both in February and May, and is determined to build a land bridge stretching from Teheran all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.
American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights creates an important roadblock in the land bridge that Iran is determined to make. The Golan affords Israel a unique topographical vantage point, providing critical defensive and intelligence strategy to Israel and the United States. And it affords the population of Israel a unique defensive shield, to protect itself from attacks by Iran and its proxies.
The Israeli government voted to extend Israeli civil law to the Golan Heights in 1981. Furthermore, President Gerald Ford offered Israel assurances in 1975 that a peace agreement with Syria “must be predicated on Israel remaining on the Golan Heights,” and Secretary of State James Baker, in 1991, reaffirmed that the U.S. stands behind these assurances. More recently, the United States, for the first time ever, voted against the annual United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning Israel’s “occupation” of the Golan Heights.
EMET has diligently been working on educating congressional offices on the critical need for the United States to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. EMET has also worked on a letter with Rep. Doug Lamborn’s (R-CO) office, calling for such recognition. The letter will be sent to Secretary of State Pompeo.
“I applaud U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton for taking the bold and very necessary step to introduce a resolution encouraging the United States to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, at this critical time,” Sarah Stern, the founder and president of EMET said.
“Israel’s presence on the border of the Golan offers the United States valuable eyes and ears into Iranian troops and its terrorist proxies in Syria. The Golan has been a force of stability in the region for 45 years and offers a protective shield for all of us in the West. Many of the same forces that hate Israel also vehemently despise the United States. As long as the Golan Heights is perceived as being ‘in play’ as part of the ‘occupied territories,’ the illusion that it might someday be captured by Syrian or Iranian forces is perpetuated. The simplest way to put an end to this dangerous illusion and to Iran’s voracious appetite is for the United States to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. That would send a strong, clear, unequivocal message to America’s foes in the region without putting a single boot on the ground,” Stern added.
About The Endowment for Middle East Truth
Founded in 2005, EMET’s mission is to educate policymakers in Washington and the general public about the importance of Israel to the United States in their common struggle against radical Islam. For more information, please visit, http://www.emetonline.org. Follow EMET on Twitter and Facebook.
Featured guest speaker: Eric Rozenman
Shortly before murdering 11 Jews at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27, the accused killer posted online that “Jews are the spawn of Satan” and derided the United States as “Z.O.G.”—Zionist-occupied government.
A few days after the mass murder, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan reinforced his high-profile antisemitism—bigotry some members of Congress and members-elect have difficulty rejecting—by again denouncing “Satanic Jews” and “devilish Zionists.”
On October 22, New English Review Press published Eric Rozenman’s new book, Jews Make the Best Demons: “Palestine” and the Jewish Question. In it Rozenman, now at the Washington, D.C.-based Jewish Policy Center and former editor of B’nai B’rith’s International Jewish Monthly and of the Washington Jewish Week, spotlights how anti-Zionism has become the gateway drug for resurgent antisemitism. He also demonstrates the way Palestinian terrorism provided the template for today’s widespread Islamist terrorism—from hijacking airliners to free jailed terrorists in the 1970s to weaponizing airliners as on Sept. 11, 2001.
And, in a development too little reported, Rozenman shows how the medieval anti-Jewish blood libel, in the original and in modern disguise, animates the fabricated yet widely-believed “Palestinian narrative.” Together, these trends have reopened the pre-1945 “Jewish question,” as in, “what shall we do about the Jews?”
“It turns out Herzl was wrong,” Rozenman writes. “The renewed Jewish state would not end antisemitism directed against ‘the wandering Jews.’ Rather, it would provide a new and sometimes more attractive target. And in anti-Zionism’s demonizing of the Jewish collective, it has revived and relegitimized hatred of the Jew as individual.”
Jews Make the Best Demons also suggests a course of action—insisting, as boldly as necessary, on objective truth, truth disdained by the “post-modern, intersectionalist” far-Left, ignored by the revived, anti-democratic far-Right.
Join EMET’s conference call with Rozenman at noon on Wednesday, 12/19.
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About Eric Rozenman
Eric Rozenman is communications consultant for the Washington, D.C.-based Jewish Policy Center, which he joined in 2016. From 2002 to 2016, Rozenman worked as Washington director of CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. Among other things, CAMERA’s Washington office monitored news and communications media including The Washington Post, Washington Times, USA Today, Baltimore Sun, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Politico, Roll Call and The Hilland worked with members of Congress and their staffs on public broadcasting issues regarding National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service (television).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.
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.
Saturday, October 27th, 2018 is a day that will forever be etched in tragedy. For the Jewish people. For Pittsburgh. For America. 11 lives were taken in an act of violence and hate. These 11 people were partaking in a baby naming ceremony in the Tree of Life Synagogue during the Sabbath, until a man who “just wanted to kill Jews” entered the synagogue and opened fire on the congregation, taking 11 innocent souls, forever inflicting pain and suffering on a community.
In the days following the shooting, I constantly read my newsfeed, seeing what others had to say and how they were handling their grief. There were those who took to love: photos of Jews and non-Jews alike gathered at vigils, mourning the victims. There were those who took to anger: opinionated posts of those who felt the need to politicize the massacre, and commentators arguing over its cause.
My stomach dropped for the second time since I first heard about the shooting. Choosing love every single time? We don’t have to agree on the same issues? This is coming from the same woman who is quoted minimizing anti-Semitism, saying it’s not systemic, even though anti-Semitism made up 54% of religious hate crimes in 2016.
Sarsour is also the same woman who is a close friend and supporter of Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan, a well-known anti-Semite, who recently made the anti-Semitic comparison of Jews to termites. She failed to condemn Farrakhan’s words. These words don’t sound like unrelenting love to me.
In regards to Sarsour’s preaching about how we don’t have to agree on the same political issues, one can’t help but label her as an indisputable hypocrite. In 2017, Sarsour claimed that Zionists cannot be feminists as part of her platform on which the Women’s March is based. Sarsour’s words alienate those who support Israel from wanting to partake in a protest that deals with a completely different political issue, causing some Zionist feminists to feel forced to “sacrifice” their Zionism for the sake of feminism. What ever happened to unity, Linda?
I could continue describing more examples of the way Sarsour and her followers seem to forget her anti-Semitic past. I could mention how, at the Jewish Voice for Peace conference in Chicago in 2017, Sarsour felt “honored” to be speaking with Rasmea Odeh, a convict in Israel who murdered two Jewish students at Hebrew University in a 1969 terror attack.
I could also recall the time Sarsour called Zionism, the belief that Jews have the right to self-determination and should live in their ancestral homeland, “creepy.” Because when there is a rise in anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic attacks in the United States (not to mention Europe), it’s “creepy” to want to live safely in the only Jewish nation in the world.
I could go on, but I won’t. Because this a time when Jews and non-Jews must cast our differences aside and come together in genuine mourning and prayer and healing. Sarsour may use words of “unrelenting love” now when it’s most convenient for her and her following, but to a pro-Israel Jew, that only adds more salt to the wound when our community is already hurting. Linda Sarsour doesn’t speak for me.
The dead have not all been buried. Yet, they have been used as cudgels for partisan political attacks. Immediately after the ghastly attack on worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the single most horrific anti-Semitic attack in US history.
I would like to make one simple request: Out of respect for the dead, please refrain from the temptation of using this tragedy as a club with which to bludgeon one’s political opponents.
No matter how passionately you might feel about the moral rectitude of your own personal political party over the other.
It is time to focus on healing. Focus on what we can do to heal a scarred, fractured nation, and a scared, fractured people.
We Jews felt we have finally come to a place we can call home, where we can plant our trees, nurture them and let them blossom on fertile soil. That it could never happen here.
And then it happened here. In ironically, The Tree of life Synagogue.
We are still recoiling from the fact that our sacred space has been invaded. The place we go to strengthen our collective identity, our history and our faith; where we turn to in times of personal crisis, sorrow and joy, has been invaded and turned into a killing field by this wretched imitation of a human being, Robert Bowers.
As soon as this odious event hit the news, the most frequent response I heard was “Donald Trump set the tone for this.”
By laying the blame on someone else’s door, it takes personal agency away from where it directly belongs, on the murderer himself, Robert Bowers, the heinous act and the heinous screed of Nazism which he represents.
This, despite the fact that President Trump’s response to this was immediate and unequivocal, calling it “devastating” and laying bare “the hatred in this country”.
This, despite the fact that President Trump, at an Illinois rally, called this an anti-Semitic act, and “an attack on all of us”, to rousing applause.
This, despite the fact that Robert Bowers, himself, said he did not vote for Donald Trump, or never, “owned, worn or even touched” a “Make America Great Again” hat.
Yes, there are repulsive anti-Semites within the fringes of both parties, lurking among the shadows of the internet. The simple fact remains that within the extremes of both tents, our people are not welcome.
A simple google search to the Southern Poverty Law Center website reveals the bone-chilling fact that there are a plethora of neo-Nazi groups in this country, and these are the classic, right wing anti-Semites, whom one might well suspect that, as individuals, probably feel more comfortable within the republican party.
Yet, the most recent Pew Poll of January 2018 says that an overwhelming majority of republicans as opposed to democrats, support Israel over the Palestinians. The hiatus is staggering, with 79 % of republicans supporting Israel over the Palestinians, and 27% of democrats.
That is Israel– the only explicitely Jewish state—home for more Jews, 6.5 million, than anywhere else on earth.
Within the current House races there are some ominous signs.
In Minnesota’s 5th Congressional district, a Somali born candidate, Ilham Omar is running on the democratic ticket. She recently said , “I am just someone who is a public servant working to create a better society who just happens to be a Muslim refuge”, yet , on November 16, 2012 she tweeted “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them to see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel”
In New York’s 14th Congressional District, democratic candidate Alexandria Occasio-Cortez has called Israel’s defensive actions on the border of Gaza, where Hamas terrorists are trying to infiltrate Israel with the expressed intent of murdering as many Israelis as possible, “a massacre”, and has asked “Where is the outrage?”, before admitting that “I am not an expert on the issue.”
Rashida Tlaib, the democratic candidate in Michigan’s 13th district, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, has vowed that she will “absolutely” vote against any military aid to Israel.
However, when one expresses legitimate concern over these statements, one is immediately and conveniently accused of being “Islamophobic”, the ultimate conversation stopper.
Unfortunately, according to the ADL anti-Semitism acts were up by 57% in 2017, over 2016. Most attacks are occurring on college campuses, with a 50% spike in K through 12 schools and on college campuses.
Anti-Semitism is a very virulent virus, for which there is no known antidote, and which has found a welcome home within the extremes of both political parties.
And the leaders of both political parties have a moral imperative to call it out when they see it taking root in their midst.
So please, spare me the sanctimonious, one-sided political lectures. The finger pointing must stop.
We need to find messages of unity, of solace and of hope.
We need to remember that the vast majority of Americans are people of good will who would never countenance any act of ant-Semitism, for one nanosecond, and who have sent my people thousands of compassionate messages of friendship, solidarity and support.
We need to remember that most Americans had ancestors who came to these shores in pursuit of the very same thing our fathers and grandfathers sought: religious freedom. And that religious liberty is one of the core principles upon which this great nation was founded.
Let’s try to use this time to concentrate on what unites us, as a people, which is far greater than what has ever divided us.
Sarah N. Stern is Founder and President of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, an unabashedly pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy institute in Washington, DC.Read More →
We at EMET are profoundly saddened and chilled to the core at the deadly massacre at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh and we offer prayers of solidarity, strength, and support to the Squirrel Hill community, to all of those who suffered the loss of family members and friends, and pray for the recovery of all those injured.
Throughout the Diaspora, our synagogues serve as our links to our collective history, our identities, and our faith. They serve as our sanctuaries, our places to go in times of personal joy, crisis or sorrow. They are our original “safe spaces.”
All of this was shattered on Saturday morning when Robert Bowers entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in a leafy suburb of Pittsburgh, shouting, “All Jews must die,” mowing down 11 people at worship. This attack was not only an attack on the Jewish people, but it was also an attack on the very values that make the United States the exemplary nation that it is. It is an attack on one of the core, founding principles of the United States, religious freedom.
We are painfully aware that on the extremes of both sides in this country, our people are not wanted. Anti-Semitism is a rather virulent virus, which has found a welcome home in both the extreme right and the extreme left. There are people who lurk in the margins of our society, in the shadows of the internet, who spew their hateful creed.
In its most common form today, anti-Semitism in America is found on our college campuses, where Israel is held to a standard that no other country could possibly be asked to live up to, particularly when faced with the same difficult conditions that Israel must live under. Swastikas and apartheid walls have sprung up on virtually every campus from Columbia to UCLA and hundreds of points in between. It has become far too acceptable for university administrators to give a “pass” to hateful symbols and slogans aimed at intimidating and chilling Jewish students, under the cover of free speech, something which they would never allow when aimed at any other minority group.
At anti-Israeli rallies throughout our college campuses, students are often heard shouting such expressions as “Zionist pigs,” “Hitler was right,” and even “Jews to the ovens.” The very symbol of the swastika, which has proliferated throughout our college campuses, represents the goal of the extermination of Jews.
This creates an environment that is hostile to Jewish students, and teaches non-Jews that a certain form of hatred in our country, anti-Semitism, is acceptable “free speech.”
What gives us some solace in this sorrowful time is that opposed to Europe of just one generation ago, and the world of radical Islam, including Hamas-controlled Gaza, where the massacre of Jews is exhorted, glorified and incentivized on a daily basis, the Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre was condemned by the vast majority of Americans, from the President on down.
The vast majority of people in this country are people of good will, but our history has taught us that we must remain forever vigilant of those who lurk in the margins of our society, and of the growing problem of anti-Semitism on our college campuses, which has taken the 21st-century form, of anti-Zionism.
Let us hope that we can make something positive out of the recent horrific events in Pittsburgh and work together as a community to prevent the proliferation of this latest form of anti-Semitism that our students must confront on our college campuses.
About The Endowment for Middle East Truth
Founded in 2005, EMET’s mission is to educate policymakers in Washington and the general public about the importance of Israel to the United States in their common struggle against radical Islam. For more information, please visit, http://www.emetonline.
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.
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.
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 ChronicleRead More →