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The Enemy of Your Enemy is Not Necessarily Your Friend

The tragic disappearance and likely death of Jamal Khashoggi after he recently entered the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul has lifted a rock under which the egregious human-rights practices of the Saudi kingdom have been swarming for decades. It always struck me as ironic that before the word “Saudi Arabia” has been uttered, we often heard the reflexive prefix: “our moderate Arab ally.” Most of us are aware that in 1945, President Franklin Roosevelt met with Saudi King Ibn Saud on the USS Quincy and made a Faustian bargain, trading their petroleum for American security.

We know of the ugly and dreadful incident of Jamal Khashoggi because he was a well-known journalist for The Washington Post.

However, we barely hear mentioned that Khashoggi was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which attempts to conquer the West with Islamism (radical Islam). Like so many other members of the Muslim Brotherhood, he dressed up his hegemonic ambitions for the ascension of Sunni Islamism over that of the West with words like “freedom and democracy.”

And like many other protestors, he had hoped the Arab Spring would pave the way for the overthrow of a despicable autocracy, but perhaps only to replace it with an even more despicable form of radical Islam.

Yes, Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights is deplorable.

While much of the world was bowing and genuflecting over Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmon because he finally allowed women the right to drive (only while being accompanied by a related male companion), a woman’s testimony in a Saudi Court counts for half of that of a man’s. A woman cannot get a passport or any government document without the consent of her male guardian, nor can she study in a university, get a job, get married or even enter a hospital to give birth without being accompanied by her husband, father or brother.

People are arbitrarily arrested, tortured and killed in Saudi Arabia without due process. There is no such thing as freedom of the press, freedom of assembly or religious freedom. In 2016, a Saudi Court sentenced 14 people to death for practicing Shi’ite Islam. According to Human Rights Watch, Asraa al-Ghomgham, a woman, is now awaiting the death penalty for such crimes as “chanting slogans hostile to the regime,” and “filming protests and publishing on social media.”

Yet, Saudi Arabia is hardly alone for human-rights abuses in the Arab and Islamist world.

Look at the Islamic Republic of Iran and you can see very much the same thing. The Islamic Republic denies the basic freedoms of the press, of association or peaceful protest or of religion. There is no transparency or due process. People are routinely and arbitrarily arrested or discriminated against for being of a different ethnic group or religion, or for expressing a divergent political viewpoint.

Trials run by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), have been closed, brief and systematically unfair. Lately, the IRGC has been targeting foreign nationals and dual citizens with the “crime” of “cooperating with a hostile state,” without revealing any of their evidence.

Women are arbitrarily beaten by “morality police” if they feel that strands of hair are showing through their hijab, or if they are wearing makeup or tight clothes. Acts of violence against women and girls remain widespread. The legal age of marriage is 13, and fathers and grandfathers can obtain consent from the courts to marry off their daughters at even younger ages. Acts of violence and domestic violence against women remain widespread, and are practiced with impunity.Women have been arrested, detained and tortured for taking off their hijabs publicly. Gays are routinely hung in the public square. Floggings and amputations are carried out with impunity.

Because of their involvement in peaceful protests, scores of youngsters are denied the right to an education.

According to Amnesty International’s report on Iran, in 2017-18”hundreds of people were executed, some in public, and thousands remained on death row. They include people under the age of 18 at the time of the crime.”

Saudi Arabia is no bastion of Jeffersonian democracy. Nor is Turkey, Syria, Qatar, Iran or any Islamist nation.

Iran, however, remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. And it is only expanding its presence—from Tehran, to Baghdad, Beirut and Damascus—and would like to extend itself as far as the Mediterranean as its leaders work on their nuclear design to dominate the world.

And Saudi Arabia might be a pivotal partner in this looming confrontation.

We have to remember that the Middle East is a treacherous neighborhood. No, the enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend. It might, however, be a strategic ally for today’s survival.

Originally published: https://www.jns.org/opinion/the-enemy-of-your-enemy-is-not-necessarily-your-friend/

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6 Challenges for US-Turkish Relations

Russia

It is clear that since Turkish forces shot down a Russian jet in 2015 which flew over Turkish airspace for just under 12 seconds, Vladimir Putin has acted strategically to gradually pull Turkey under his sphere of influence, and Erdogan has taken the bait. Putin has fed Erdogan bits of Syria, like the once stable Kurdish enclave, Afrin. Putin has sold Erdogan the S-400 surface to air missiles, a weapons system incompatible with the NATO security bloc systems. The S-400 is set to be delivered July 2019. Erdogan is also interested in jointly producing the S-500 missile with Russia, “besides [the S-400s], I have made a proposal to Russia for the joint production of the S-500s.” This move will further force Turkey to dependent on Russia, a move Putin is hoping for only to establish a permanent rift between NATO partners.

Iran

Turkish president, Erdogan helped Iran evade US sanctions for violating the Nuclear Deal, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) from 2010 to 2015, allowing the regime in Tehran access to international markets. The witness, Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian Gold trader told jurors in New York that Erdogan had personally authorized a transaction on behalf of Iran. The banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla, responsible for taking part in the trading scheme between Turkey and Iran was sentenced to 32 months in prison in Manhattan. Erdogan stated that “if Hakan Atilla is going to be declared a criminal, that would be almost equivalent to declaring the Turkish Republic a criminal.” The Atilla v US case continues to prove that Turkey is damaging US strategy against the Iranian regime and is constantly aiding our enemies.

Incirlik Base

Incirlik Air Base in Turkey has been a strategic point of access for the United States into the Middle East. However, the base has been a thorn on our back, Turkey has constantly attempted to use it against the United States to get its way. Most recently, a group of Turkish lawyers, close to Erdogan’s circle has filed an arrest warrant of US officers based at Incirlik. Reported by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) reported that lawyers filed a 60 page complaint of names which include top US officials asking for their detention. Included in the names is the commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM) Gen. Joseph Votel. Clearly US men and women in uniform are not safe in Turkey, anti-American sentiments continue to surge thanks to Erdogan. The United states should look for alternatives and end our dependency on the airbase, in 2017 Germany made the decision to do so, redeploying its troops to a Jordanian airbase. A heavy US presence in Iraqi Kurdistan would be welcomed by Kurds, and would thwart Iranian influence in the region, disrupting their land bridge to the Mediterranean.

US Hostages

Since the failed coup of 2016, Erdogan has purged Turkish dissidents and foreigners inside the country. As Dr. Aykan Erdemir, former Turkish parliamentarian and current scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) brilliantly characterized it, Erdogan is using “hostage diplomacy” to gain leverage over the United States. Most famously imprisoned and now on house arrest is American Pastor, Andrew Brunson, who has worked in Turkey for over 20 years, and is accused of having ties to the Kurdish armed group the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Islamic scholar, Fetullah Gulen, which Erdogan blames for the coup. Vice President Mike Pence avowed, “to president Erdogan and the Turkish government, on behalf of the president of the United States of America, release pastor Andrew Brunson now or be prepared to face the consequences. If Turkey does not take immediate action to free this innocent man of faith and send him home to America, the United States will impose significant sanctions on Turkey until Pastor Andrew Brunson is free.” The Trump administration did sanction two top Turkish officials in addition to doubling tariffs on steel and aluminum against Turkey, but Erdogan seems determined to ignore US pressure. Turkey responded by imposing its own sanctions on two US officials. Another hostage is Turkish-American, Serkan Golge, a physicist who worked for NASA’s Mars Program.

Hamas

Hamas has been on the foreign terror list by the United States since 1997, yet Turkey’s Erdogan openly embraces the violent organization. In 2017, Erdogan reiterated his support saying “Hamas is not a terrorist organization.” Erdogan’s hypocrisy of fighting terrorists while aiding and abetting a recognized terrorist organization reflects the path of his neo Ottoman Islamic ideology. Hamas is clearly a threat not only to Israel but as well as the Palestinian people, and Erdogan is banking on the tension in Gaza. His desire to be the custodian of Jerusalem and to become the savior of the Palestinians through the creation of an “army of Islam” to destroy Israel is something the US must wake up to before it is too late.

Islamic State (IS)

Countless reports have been published on linking Turkey to either directly assisting the Islamic State or turning a blind eye. Turkey’s main goal, as it is today, is to weaken the Kurds in Syria at all costs even if it means allowing the brutal terrorist organization to roam free within Turkey and across its borders. In 2014, Turkish forces watched on top of a hill as Kurds were besieged in a small Syrian border town, in Kobane. In addition, Turkey has profited from illicit oil deals with the Islamic State, the deals were not limited to Turkey and IS but Erdogan’s family and the terror organization as well. In 2014, former Turkish Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu stated that “ISIS is not a terrorist organization. It’s a group of people bound together with discontent and anger.” In a report titled ISIS in Turkey published in May 2018,  it stated that “had Turkey not been so tolerant of ISIS activities within its borders, including recruitment of thousands of foreign fighters, ISIS would not be as powerful as it is today.” Moreover, Turkey continues to undermine US operations in Syria against IS as it targets the Kurds organized under the Syrian Democratic Forces, SDF.

Originally published: https://securitystudies.org/6-challenges-for-us-turkish-relations/

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

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For the Sake of Ari Fuld, Malki Roth and Countless Others

Yet another woman was made a widow on Sept. 16, and another four children were made orphans by the egregious act of a Palestinian terrorist, Khalil Jabarin. The victim, Ari Fuld, had simply been running an errand for his wife in a local shopping center in Efrat, just south of Jerusalem.

Ari was a true fighter for Israel. He was assistant director of “Standing Together,” an organization that supports Israeli soldiers. Ari served in the Israel Defense Forces, narrowly escaped death in Lebanon. He saved his shrapnel-ridden vest as a reminder of “who is really in charge.”

Ari also was an avid defender of Israel—not only on the physical battlefield, but also in the battlefield of ideas. He constantly ran towards danger to defend the Jewish people, going down to Sderot and the kibbutzim neighboring Gaza, exactly when the rockets were most steadily falling. He went into forums and talk shows dominated by left-wing thinkers who professed the idea that Israel was an “apartheid state founded on original sin” and disabused them of their many pernicious falsehoods.

Ari brought moral clarity and truth into arenas that had been imbued with the murkiness of moral ambiguity and self-doubt about our people’s rightful claim to the land.

After being stabbed by the terrorist, Ari summoned every last ounce of strength to fight off his attacker, subduing him before he could do any more harm. He was a true fighter for Israel until the very end.

He is also the 70th American to have been killed by Palestinian terrorists since the signing of the Oslo Accords (not including two unborn children). Nearly 3,000 Israeli citizens were murdered by Palestinian terrorists in that amount of time.

I have constantly marveled at the strength of the families that have somewhere summoned up the courage to go on.

How one might react when put in this horrific place is deeply individual and subjective. One must never place judgement on the individual response of these profoundly bereaved family members.

Having had said that, I have been uniquely privileged to have gotten to know some bereaved family members who have someone managed to summon up the strength to dedicate their lives to finding something constructive from their enormous pain. They are the true heroes in the fight against Palestinian terrorism and the radical Islamic assault on Western civilization.

Heroes such as Sherri and Seth Mandell, who took the horrendous murder of their 13-year-old son, Koby, and turned their grief into a place of healing and love by creating camps and retreats  for other family members who have lost loved ones to Palestinian terrorism.

Heroes such as Stuart and Robbi Force, who used the enormous pain of the murder of their 28-year-old son and former U.S. serviceman Taylor to pass a law in his name prohibiting American funding to go to the Palestinian “martyr’s fund” that rewards the families of terrorist with generous stipends, and thus incentivized terrorism.

Heroes such as Arnold and Frimet Roth, whose daughter Malki, 15, an American citizen, was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist at the Sbarro pizzeria massacre in the summer of 2001. Malki was an aspiring special educator and helped take care of her severely handicapped sister, Chaya.

In all, 15 civilians had also been murdered, including one other American Judith Greenbaum, 31, who was five months pregnant at the time, and 130 people were wounded. One person, Chana Nachenberg, has remained in a permanent vegetative state, and five members of a single family—the Schijveschuurder family—were killed.

What makes this case particularly egregious is that the architect of this attack, Ahlam Tamimi, has made a career about this and has openly boasted about her act, multiple times. She had been sentenced in an Israeli court to 16 life sentences.

While in prison, she was asked by an Israel journalist if she knew how many Israeli children she had killed. She flippantly responded, “I don’t know … 3?” When she was told that she had killed eight, her response was a gleeful “8! I killed 8 Jewish children!”

Unfortunately, in October of 2011, Tamimi was traded along with 1,026 other terrorists in exchange IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, held by Hamas.

When she was released from prison, she immediately traveled to Jordan, where she was greeted like a conquering hero. She then became the host of her own Jordanian talk show on the Hamas station, Al Quds TV.

According to American law (18 USC, Section 2332), anytime an American citizen is murdered by terrorists abroad, our government has jurisdiction and is directed to prosecute the perpetrator to the full extent of the law. There is no statute of limitations.

On July 15, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice filed criminal charges against Tamimi in the District of Columbia for conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. nationals, outside the United States, resulting in death.

Tamimi is the first Palestinian terrorist to face criminal prosecution in the United States. A great deal of this is due to the Herculean efforts of Malki’s parents, who have been met with enormous obstacles of bureaucratic red tape, unfortunately, on both sides of the Atlantic.

On March 14, 2017, an American official from the FBI met with Arnold and Frimet Roth to let them know that the criminal complaint has been unsealed. I received a beautiful email that evening from Arnold Roth saying that “for the first time, I am proud that Malki was an American.”

Unfortunately, Jordan has refused U.S. extradition requests, claiming that they do not have an extradition treaty with the United States.

However, in 1995, the Jordanian authorities did honor an extradition treaty with the United States by extraditing Eyad Ismoil, who was guilty of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

Ismoil has been sentenced to 240 years in prison, and is currently in a maximum security prison in Colorado.

I pray that a similar fate awaits Ahlam Tamimi.

This is a simple matter of American justice. Not to demand the extradition of Tamimi telegraphs a tepid, flaccid message to would-be terrorists around the globe regarding our national resolve, and smacks of a pernicious double standard when it comes to the blood of American Jews.

For the sake of Ari Fuld and Malki Roth and countless others, this must be done.

Originally published: https://www.jns.org/opinion/for-the-sake-of-ari-fuld-malki-roth-and-countless-others/

Photo: BBC

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Don’t Fall for Iran’s Propaganda on 1953 Removal of Mossadegh

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

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Reducing the Malevolent Impact of UNRWA

U.S. President Donald Trump gave the Jewish people a gift of historic proportions by taking the issue of Jerusalem off the table back in December. On Aug. 25, President Trump gave a gift that is arguably of equal or greater value to the Jewish nation by significantly reducing by $200 million the aid that the United States gives to UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine.

PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat predictably called the decision “disgraceful,” and said that President Trump was “meddling in the internal affairs of other people in an attempt to impact their national options.”

Since when is it that an American president deciding how to spend U.S. taxpayer dollars is considered “meddling in the affairs of other people”?

Beyond that, according to an Aug. 25 report on Israeli Channel 2 news, the Trump administration announced that it will oppose the Palestinian claim for the “right of return” for the descendants of the original Palestinian refugees displaced by the 1948 war.

If true, this would be a historic development—not just to the American taxpayer, the Jewish people and the State of Israel, but to the Palestinians themselves.

UNRWA was formed in 1949, in the aftermath of the 1948 War for Palestinian refugees. These refugees, fleeing from the war (Dec. 1, 1947 to June 1, 1948), originally numbered 550,000 to 600,000. Because the Palestinians have inflated the number—and because they count multiple generations of descendants—the figure that Palestinians and their advocates now invoke is 5 million.

The U.N. High Commission of Refugees defines a “refugee” as “someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence.” Only in the case of the Palestinians is this status passed down for generations.

And only in the case of the UNRWA is there a refugee agency exclusively for one particular refugee group. In 1950, in the aftermath of World War II, the United Nations High Commission of Refugees (UNHCR) was established to deal with the millions of displaced refugees. However, the Arab League refused to allow the Palestinian refugees to go under that rubric.

Why? Because the mandate of UNHCR is for the refugees to be settled and integrated into their host country as soon as possible. The Arab League, however, wanted to keep the Palestinian refugees in a perpetual state of limbo in order to use the Palestinian refugee issue as a thorn in the side of Israel.

The Arab world seems have no concern over their Palestinian brethren, apparently preferring to keep generations of Palestinians in a perpetual state of victimhood, squalor and conflict.

According to David Bedein of the Center for Near East Policy Research, “the right of return is the focus of the entire life … to take back their homes that were abandoned in 1948. … The children are taught you have to go back to these homes and kill the people who live there.”

Upon entering the Aida UNRWA camp, for example, one immediately sees a gate adorned by an oversized key, symbolic of their ancestor’s house left behind in Israel. The symbol of the key is used constantly in pageants that UNRWA schools put on, where the message is constantly drummed in that they will someday return to their ancestor’s orchards and vineyard in pre-1948 Israel.

Throughout the camp—and particularly, inside the schools—pictures hang on walls glorifying  Palestinian shahids (“martyrs”), with messages encouraging youngsters to follow in their “noble” footsteps. Prominently displayed is the ubiquitous map of Israel, of course labeled “Palestine.”

During the summer, young children attend a camp where they engage in military exercises, replete with walls they are taught to crawl under and firewalls they are taught to jump over, dressed in in military fatigues.

Recently, Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho), asked for a General Accounting Office report of what is being taught in the UNRWA schools, but for some inexplicable reason, that office insists on keeping the report “classified.”

Perhaps because the results are too damaging to UNRWA.

According to a recent study conducted by CNEPR together with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, in which 150 textbooks from kindergarten through 12th grade were examined, researchers found Israel and Jews depicted as “demonic,” with violent liberation emphasized. A 2017 text even includes a disturbing text by describing a Molotov cocktail attack on an Israeli bus as a “barbeque party,” while another extols the virtues of Dalal Mughrabi, the female Palestinian terrorist who was responsible for the massacre of 38 Israeli civilians.

All of this stands in stark contrast to the United Nations’ Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which proclaims, among other things, that “the child shall enjoy special protection, and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions.”

Kids who are unfortunate enough to be educated in UNRWA camps enjoy none of the benefits of a normal childhood. Instead, they are indoctrinated to become nothing more than bullets in a war machine—in a war that they will inevitably lose.

Originally published at: https://www.jns.org/opinion/reducing-the-malevolent-impact-of-unrwa/

Photo: terrorism-info.org.il

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Time to Recognize Israeli Sovereignty on the Golan

Following the seizure of the Syrian Golan Heights by the Syrian military loyal to leader Bashar Assad, the IDF was recently forced to shut down the Mazor Ladach field hospital. The hospital had treated approximately 6,800 casualties of the brutal seven-year Syria civil war as part of Israel’s Good Neighbor program.

The first losers here are, of course, the Syrian people in need of medical care.

Israel had also been providing sorely needed medical equipment, baby formula, food and fuel to the Syrian refugees amassed along Israel’s northeastern border. The proximity of over 100,000 Iranian-backed troops as far south as Quneitra makes the delivery of these life-sustaining materials even more treacherous.

Now Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps have become increasingly entrenched in the area, making this region, which has been relatively stable for 45 years, a potential line of confrontation.

This constitutes just one more chapter in the rapidly expanding book of Iran’s pernicious influence in the Middle East. They aim to create an uninterrupted land bridge stretching from Tehran through Damascus and Beirut to the Mediterranean Sea.

Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights creates an important roadblock in that land bridge.

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, once again, in its defensive war of 1973 from attacking Syrian forces.

Since 1974, when a Separation of Forces Agreement was negotiated, the Golan Heights has remained relatively peaceful.

The U.N. Disengagement Observer Force oversees the 50-mile-long buffer zone between the two sides. However, it has occasionally been attacked by Fatah al-Sham Front (formerly known as the Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaida). Thus, the 1,000-man force, tellingly, prefers to remain on the Israeli side.

The Golan Heights has served as the demarcation line between the chaotic, feuding forces of radical Islam and the liberal, Western-oriented State of Israel. It creates the definitive dividing line between authoritarian rule and a vibrant, thriving democracy.

The Golan affords Israel a unique topographical vantage point for defensive and intelligence strategy from which its military can peer directly into Damascus and Beirut. It affords the population of Israel a unique defensive shield.

In 1981, the Israeli government voted to extend Israeli civil law to the Golan Heights.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly met with Russian President Vladamir Putin to request that he use his influence to remove Iranian troops from Syria. However, although Moscow has offered assurances, the Russians have already demonstrated that they are unwilling to do anything to remove Iranian forces. The IRGC and Hezbollah forces have been deeply intermingled with Syrian army forces, and have even been given Syrian military uniforms to conceal their activities.

There are no surprises here. The Syrian regime has been kept on life support through Putin’s Russia and the Iranian ayatollahs. Russia is only concerned about flexing its power on the world’s stage and sees the failed state of Syria as an opportunity to do so. And Iran is on a march to establish its own Shiite caliphate.

Earlier this summer, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei repeated his exhortation that “Israel is a cancerous tumor that must be eliminated.” IRGC Deputy Commander Hossein Salami said, “I am awaiting orders to eradicate the evil regime [Israel]” and “Israel has no strategic depth and therefore this can be easily achieved.”

The inherent instability of Syria has created fertile territory for Russia and Iran, as well as for a whole scorpion pit of terrorist groups such as ISIS, Fatah al-Sham Front, Hezbollah and the IRGC to dig in.

Israel’s presence on the border of the Golan Heights offers the United States valuable eyes and ears into all of these pernicious forces. It 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 these 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, which in turn perpetuates a potential state of war.

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.

Originally published: http://www.israelhayom.com/opinions/time-to-recognize-israeli-sovereignty-on-the-golan/

Photo: Cpl. Gal Ashuach, IDF

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Israel, Turkey and the Kurdish Question

“I am not used to receiving lectures about morality from a leader who bombs Kurdish villagers in his native Turkey, who jails journalists, who helps Iran get around international sanctions,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s comments on the US relocating its embassy to Jerusalem.

Are these genuine comments from the Israeli side? Many Kurds feel bitter at Israel, rightly so despite many common interests. The Kurdish sentiment is legitimate. They feel the Israeli government only speaks out when it benefits its own national interests and does not really care about the Kurdish cause. Whatever the motive may be for the Israeli government to speak up, it is certainly time to alter its policy toward Turkey, as Ankara is gradually adjusting its policy toward the Jewish state.

Erdogan’s harsh rhetoric against Israel went as far as comparing the Jewish State’s response to recent Gaza protests to that of Nazi Germany.

“There is no difference at all between the persecution inflicted on the Jews in Europe 75 years ago and the brutality faced by our brothers in Gaza.”

He further added, “the children of people who were tortured in concentration camps in every way during World War II unfortunately today resort to methods against innocent Palestinians that are in no way inferior to those of the Nazis.”

But do these words mean anything to the governments on both sides? Economic ties say otherwise.

Turkey was in fact the first Muslim country to recognize Israel as an independent state in 1948. What followed was a series of gradual economic agreements, which still dominate the relationship between the two states today. Economist Hatice Karahan said Turkish exports to Israel have continued to grow over the last several years. They were at about $2.5 billion in 2016, and in the first 10 months of 2017, Turkish exports to Israel went up another 14%. Turkey’s state air carrier, Turkish Airlines, is also the second most popular airline out of Tel Aviv after El Al, Joseph Dana reported in an opinion piece written for The National.

Due to the lack of hydrocarbon resources in Turkey, the Turkish government has heavily relied on Iraqi Kurdistan for its supplies, and of course is working with Israel to build a pipeline through Cypriot waters. From 1995 to 2015, Turkey’s exports to Israel was on average 4.26 times of its share in the world export, as described in the International Journal of Commerce and Management. Furthermore, chairman of the Turkish Exporters Assembly Mehmet Buyukeksi called for a tripling of trade volume between the two countries in the next five years. This is after in 2017, Turkish exports to Israel increased by 20% and Israeli exports to Turkey rose by 45%, and trade volume was set to grow to $10b. from $3.9b., wrote Sharon Udasin.

Israel was the only country to recognize the Kurdish independence referendum held in September 2017, which failed miserably due to the lack of strategy on the Kurdish side and the absence of hard support from the international community.

It seems Israeli support for the Kurds does not have teeth similar to Turkish support for Palestinians. The Palestinians are surrounded by 22 Arab states that all call for an independent Palestinian state in addition to Turkey and Iran. The Kurds on the other hand are left to find partners anywhere they can to push ahead with their aspirations for self-determination, even if it means resorting to Israel’s tiptoeing statements.

If the Israeli government is firm about supporting the Kurds, and truly envisions the Kurdish people as a common ally with common interests in a Middle East rapidly shifting toward Islamist authoritarian governments, it must act quickly.

This can be done by supporting the Kurds in Iraq, dominated by Iranian influence, and in Syria, a fractured state that continues to be dictated by President Bashar Assad and his brutal allies, which include Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and holds over 3 million Kurds who have been the only successful force fighting Islamic State while facing a military campaign from Erdogan’s army.

The more than 20 million Kurds living under the Islamist Erdogan regime in Turkey, and the 12 million Kurds being governed by the dangerous Iranian regime for nearly four decades, are key to Israel’s security in the region. But if Israel continues to accommodate Erdogan’s regime through trade ties, then it may risk losing Kurdish support too.

Originally published at: https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Israel-Turkey-and-the-Kurdish-question-559446

Photo: Al Jazeera

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What Will US Do About Turkey’s Bad Behavior?

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

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Time for Some Reality Therapy on the Golan Heights

As I write these words, news just broke that ISIS launched its first major attack in Syria, targeting a town occupied by Druze, on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, killing 100 innocent civilians. Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet last week that entered Israeli airspace, and two mortar shells launched from the Syrian side of the Golan landed near the Sea of Galilee (miraculously resulting in no injuries).

And this is just within the past 24 hours.

After the seven-year civil war, Syria is failed state. It has been given oxygen to survive from Iran and Russia.

Its inherent instability provides fertile territory for an entire array of terrorist groups from Jabhat al Nussra and ISIS on the Sunni side, to Hezbollah, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and the “Al Quds Force” on the Shi’ite side.

Syria depicts the Hobbesian state of war of man against man. The tragic events in Syria have led to at least a half-a-million casualties, approximately 6 million refugees and at least that many internally displaced people.

Iran, with its hegemonic aspirations, has taken advantage of the situation as a pretext for entrenching its military infrastructure into Syria. Syrian President Bashar Assad has enabled this by giving the Iranian terrorist proxies Syrian military uniforms.

It is determined to build a land bridge stretching from Tehran to Beirut to Damascus to the Mediterranean Coast.

Earlier this month, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei repeated his ominous exhortation that Israel is “a cancerous tumor that must be removed.”  And Hossein Salami, the deputy Commander of the IRGC in Syria, said he is “awaiting orders to eradicate the evil regime of Israel,” and that Israel has “no strategic depth”; therefore, “this can easily be achieved.”

Contrast this with the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, which provides an island of stability in a sea of chaos.

The Golan Heights—an area that Israel captured during its defensive 1967 Six-Day War and then retained from invading Syrian forces again in its defensive war of 1973—affords Israel a unique topographical and intelligence, affording it the eyes and ears to stare down into Syria and Lebanon.

All of this intelligence is shared readily with the United States.

There is a 1974 agreement mandating the separation of Syrian and Israel forces, which thins out the forces on both sides of the disengagement line.

In 1981, the Israeli government formally annexed the region. The annexation of the Golan Heights is a consensus issue that almost every Israeli, whether politically on the left, right or center agrees with.

As Major Gen. (ret.) Giroa Eiland of the Israel Defense Forces has recently written, “Israel does not possess a plausible solution to its security needs without the Golan Heights.”

The demarcation line of the Golan Heights represents the demarcation of freedom against tyranny—of a failed authoritarian regime against a vibrant, healthy state based on Western democratic values.

That is why tens of thousands of Syrians would love to flee into Israel, if given the opportunity.

That is why 422 Syrians who are part of the White Helmet Groups, a humanitarian volunteer organization, were rescued by the Israelis and given safe passage way into Jordan.

That is why the IDF was able to provide tons of truckloads of supplies to the Syrian refugees, including medicines, baby formula, food, feel and shoes.

And that is what enabled the IDF to clandestinely arrange for approximately 4,000 Syrians wounded in Syria’s protracted civil war to be treated in Israeli hospitals, without asking which side they were fighting for or why.  And then, the healed were clandestinely delivered back to the Syrian side of the border.

It is in America’s best national security interests to recognize the annexation of the Golan Heights as part of Israel’s sovereign territory. Israel provides an island of tranquility in the chaotic world of the Middle East, and the line between chaos and stability cuts right through the demarcation line.

After all, after Friday prayers throughout Tehran, the chant is not only “Death to Israel,” but “Death to America.”

By keeping the Golan Heights as part of the lexicon of “occupied territories,” the international community simply perpetuates the conflict and the Syrian-Iran-Russians axis the pernicious delusion that this area is still in play. It keeps Israel’s northern front as a possible area of conflict that can flare up at any point.

American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights will finally put an end to these dangerous delusions. In an age when Iran constitutes the greatest menace to the region and one of the greatest to the world, it would constitute an effective and potent form of “reality therapy.”

Originally posted at: https://www.jns.org/opinion/time-for-some-reality-therapy-on-the-golan-heights/

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Nothing Secret or Surprising About Stark Danger Iran Poses

 

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/

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