Category Archive: Islam

Jan 09

Turkey pays dear for Erdogan overreach into Syria

DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis January 1, 2017, 12:36 PM (IDT)

The “Santa Claus” shooting rampage one hour after midnight, killing 39 New Year revelers and injuring 69 at the Istanbul Reina nightclub, was the first terrorist event of 2017. It came on the heels of the assassination of the Russian ambassador Andrew Karlov in Ankara on Monday, Dec. 19, by a Turkish special forces officer, 22-year old Mevlit Mert Atlintas, shouting “This is for Syria!” on behalf of Al Qaeda’s Syrian arm, the Nusra Front.

That murder had the historic distinction of marking the opening of the floodgates for the Syrian war and its terrorist adjuncts to start surging across the border into Turkey.

The Turkish army’s August invasion of northern Syria triggered a sharp escalation of devastating terrorist attacks in the country by Syrian-based organizations, the Islamic State,then Nusra, and TAK-the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, on top of the local Kurdish separatist PKK’s regular outrages.

However the impact of even those crippling events pales against the earthquake rumbling through the country and threatening to blow its society, armed forces and ruling institutions apart, under the weight of the three wars which President Tayyip Erdogan has ignited:

  • His troops are fighting three concurrent wars – two outside its borders in Syria and Iraq and a campaign at home against Kurdish insurgency. While Turkey’s involvement in all three has been low key, it is being dragged into wider and more complicated areas of conflict.
  • Turkish intelligence is over-stretched for contending with the three wars while at the same time thwarting the terrorist networks planted in Turkey by the Islamic State, Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and Syrian Kurdish insurgents.
    In 2016, Ankara and Istanbul suffered several attacks by Daesh terrorists and the PKK that killed more than 180 people.
  • The Russian-Syrian-Iranian-Hizballah victory in Aleppo has pushed large numbers of defeated Syrian rebels into the Idlib region on the Turkish border, presenting Ankara with a dilemma: To leave the border open as it is at present, or to seal it as Moscow is demanding. Shutting it would compress the fugitive rebels inside a Russian-Syrian-Turkish box – much like the blockade Israel and Egypt impose on the Palestinian Gaza Strip. It would leave the Syrian rebels with not much option for surviving but to take their war into southern Turkey.
  • Turkish armed forces are, like the MIT intelligence service, heavily over-extended by the war on ISIS in Syria at the same time as battling al Qaeda’s Nusra Front (aka the Fatah al-Sham Front)  which orchestrated the assassination of the Russian ambassador), Syrian rebel fundamentalist Muslim groups and Kurdish terrorists.
  • The situation could tip over into calamity if the Kurdish minority chose this moment to rise up against the Erdogan government, with the backing of the PKK and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia. There are 10 million Kurds living in southern Turkey out of a total of 22 million in the country.
  • Ankara is in the process of exiting NATO, turning its back on the United States and Europe and forging a detente with Russia, China and Iran.
  • The Obama administration has not managed to halt this process. Its errors may have even sped Turkey on its flight from the West. The Trump administration will have to decide whether it is willing or able to haul Turkey back into line or take advantage of the process for America’s benefit.
  • Since the July coup against his government,  Erdogan has been pursuing an uninterrupted crackdown and purge in every walk of Turkish life, in pursuit of his struggle against his main rival, Fethullah Gulen, whom he accuses of orchestrating the putsch from his place of exile in America. The Turkish ruler blames Gulen each time any opposition raises its head. He then crushes such opponents with a heavy hand.
  • This regime of repression has had the opposite effect to the one Erdogan intended. Gulen, formerly a marginal figure in Turkish politics, is now a giant and a hero to increasing segments of Turkish society. People are also being driven into the arms of radical elements.
  • If Erdogan fails to curb the spillover of the Syrian war into Turkey, he may find himself fighting not on one but three home fronts: Kurds, radical Islamists and the Gulen movement.

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Dec 08

Lebanon’s new pro-Hezbollah president vows to retake ‘Israeli-occupied’ land

The Lebanese presidency is reserved for a Maronite Christian in the country’s sectarian power-sharing system.

The Lebanese parliament elected former army commander and Hezbollah ally Michel Aoun as president on Monday, ending a 29-month presidential vacuum as part of a political deal that is expected to make Sunni leader Saad al-Hariri prime minister.

Aoun, who is in his 80s, secured the presidency by winning the support of at least 65 MPs, or an absolute majority of the members of the 128-seat chamber, according to a Reuters tally of votes read out in a televised broadcast from parliament.

The Lebanese presidency is reserved for a Maronite Christian in the country’s sectarian power-sharing system.

In 2006, Aoun signed a formal agreement of alliance between his Free Patriotic Movement and Hezbollah, and has consistently backed the Shi’ite group ever since.

In remarks made after the election aimed at Hezbollah backers, Aoun vowed to “release what is left of our lands from the Israeli occupation,” referring to contested territories along the border with the Jewish state.

Aoun added that Lebanon “will act against terror,” while pledging continued support for Syrian President Bashar Assad in the country’s five-year-long civil war. Hezbollah militants have fought on behalf of Assad for the better part of the war, which has seen over 400,000 people killed since its inception.

Aoun’s election is “a political victory for Hezbollah,” said Benedetta Berti, an analyst at the Institute for National Security Studies.

“Hezbollah has been very squarely backing Aoun for president and this was always the deal between Aoun’s party and Hezbollah. Hezbollah has upheld its end of the deal. With this election… you can see Hezbollah being consolidated in terms of its political allies as well as its position in Lebanon.”

The breakthrough for Aoun came when Saudi ally, Saad Hariri, the most powerful Sunni politician in Lebanon and the leader of what is known as the March 14 coalition, endorsed him after failing to gain support for another candidate, Suleiman Franjieh.

Aoun reportedly promised Hariri, a former prime minister, the premiership. Hariri is seen as particularly anxious to get back in office.

“Aoun’s election is a clear victory for the pro-Iranian axis in the Levant and another climb down for Saudi Arabia,” wrote Paul Salem, vice president for policy and research at the Middle East Institute in Washington.

Tehran and Riyadh are engaged in a struggle for regional primacy that is a sectarian battle between Shi’ite and Sunni Islam as much as a political rivalry. This has pitted them on opposite sides of the Syrian civil war, with Riyadh supporting Sunni rebels, and Iran and Hezbollah backing the minority Alawite regime of Bashar Assad.

Hariri’s failure in promoting his own candidate for the presidency and his agreement to Aoun reflects the absence of Saudi influence in Lebanon, which resulted from Riyadh’s disengagement from Beirut beginning in February. At that time, in response to Lebanon’s failure to condemn attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran following the kingdom’s execution of a Shi’ite cleric, Saudi Arabia canceled a three billion dollar aid package for the Lebanese army.

It is thought that Lebanon did not join other Arab countries in condemning Iran because of the influence of Hezbollah and its allies.

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Nov 29

Ejected from Temple Mount … for mentioning Temple

Exclusive: Joseph Farah on 406 Christians turned out by Muslim Waqf for discussing Jewish history

Published: 17 hours ago

Muslim authorities eject rabbi Jonathan Cahn, WND CEO and Editor Joseph Farah and 406 Christian pilgrims from the Temple Mount on Nov. 17, 2016, for discussing Jewish history (Photo: WND)

WASHINGTON – A week before Americans gave thanks to God for their blessings in a holiday inspired by Pilgrims who sought religious freedom in the new world, another group of mostly American pilgrims to Jerusalem was ejected from the Temple Mount by Muslim administrative authorities for mentioning that the Jewish Temple rested atop the 40-acre mount until 70 AD when it was destroyed by Rome.

That’s right – 406 Christians were forced off the Temple Mount for acknowledging that a Temple once rested there.

The incident occurred Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, when messianic rabbi Jonathan Cahn and I led the group on a tour of the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism and one of great significance for Christians as well.

When Cahn, the New York Times bestselling author of “The Harbinger,” “The Mystery of the Shemitah” and “The Book of Mysteries,” simply referenced the Temple, his talk was interrupted by a representative of the Islamic Waqf – the clerical force that patrols the site, enforcing dress codes and often prohibiting Bible reading and prayer by Christians and Jews.

Cahn was told it was unacceptable for anyone to discuss the Temple on the Temple Mount. Muslims do not refer to the Temple Mount as such but call the site Haram al-Sharif, or Nobel Sanctuary. They contend the site is famous and holy not because of the Temple, which some of them even dispute ever existed, but because Muhammad claims to have ascended to the site from the Arabian desert in a miraculous Night Journey on the back of a winged horse.

“While I was speaking, they pulled me aside and told me I had mentioned that there was a Temple on the Temple Mount – which I did – and said I was not allowed to mention the Temple,” explained Cahn. “They also accused me of mentioning America and someone clapped, which was also true. I mentioned one of the mysteries in ‘The Book of Mysteries,’ The Tenth of Av Mystery, that contains the secret of America’s existence. They also accused me of speaking of 1948, the birth of Israel, which I never did.”

Initially, just one representative of the Waqf approached Cahn during his talk – calling him away from the group for a meeting, which was soon joined by several other Waqf members, as well as two Jewish members of our Israeli tour company and me.

“As I spoke, more of the Muslim authorities converged on me, and told me that I and the group had to leave the Temple Mount immediately,” Cahn recalled. “I went back to the group and told them that this was exactly the kind of warfare on the mount I had just told them about – but that nothing stops the purposes of God.”

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Nov 28

Secret Israel-Jordanian-Syrian border talks begin

Israel, Jordan and Syria have embarked on secret discussions for the stabilization of their borders in southern Syria by restoring the status quo ante that reigned on the Golan prior to the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

This is reported exclusively by debkafile from intelligence, Washington and Moscow sources.

The incoming Trump administration in Washington and Russian President Vladimir Putin are in the picture; so is the United Arab Emirates ruler, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Although still at a preliminary stage, the talks have produced their first tangible result: A vanguard of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has arrived on the Syrian side of the Golan. It has taken up position at its former Fawwar Camp base 4km east of Quneitra, which it evacuated during the Syrian fighting. The main body of the force, around 1,000 UN soldiers and 70 observers, is expected soon, to take up the task of reconstituting the former demilitarized zone that separated Israel and Syria under the 1974 armistice agreement.

This DMZ runs 80km along the Hermon range up to the Lebanese border in the north and down to the Israel-Syrian-Jordanian triangle in southern Syria up to the Jordanian border. In the 25km long Golan strip, between half a kilometer and 10 deep, the IDF and Syrian army were originally limited as to the number of soldiers and types of weaponry they are allowed to maintain. The strip will revert to Syrian civil administration under UNDOF control, and the Israeli-Syrian border crossing point will be reopened in the Quneitra area under the joint supervision of UN, Israeli and Syrian officers.

The military arrangements are still in discussion and changes may be introduced to this format.

The main obstacle to the return of pre-Syrian war conditions to this sensitive border region is the presence of radical Syrian rebel forces in southern Syria, mainly the Khalid bin Walid Army, whose leaders have sworn allegiance to Islamic State commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
These forces will face the option of accepting the authority of the Syrian army or fighting a win-or-die battle.
Israel has an additional, compelling interest in restoring the disengagement zone with Syria in that it leaves no room for the grab for a military presence opposite Israeli Golan and Galilee that was made in recent months by Iran and its Lebanese proxy, Hizballah, for the purpose of opening a new front for terrorist attacks against Israel – as debkafile was first to reveal. .

An indirect clue to the secret diplomatic talks ongoing came from the Syrian ruler Bashar Assad in an interview he gave on Nov. 16 to a Portuguese radio station, when he said: “If –if – he [Trump] fights the terrorists, it is clear that we will be a natural ally, together with the Russians, Iranians and many other countries who want to defeat the terrorists.”
The parties with varying degrees of involvement in the restoration of the UN-controlled DMZ on the Golan border are, therefore, the incoming Trump administration, Moscow, Damascus, Amman, Abu Dhabi and Jerusalem. Russia, Jordan and the Emirates have gained relevance for the first time as a result of changes in the strategic balance engendered by the Syrian war

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Nov 16

Global Messiah Happening” as Saudi-Iran Conflict Presages Prophesied Nuclear War

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz November 8, 2016 , 12:30 pm

“And when ye go to war in your land against the adversary that oppresseth you, then ye shall sound an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before Hashem your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies.” Numbers 10:9 (The Israel Bible™)

The aftershocks of the US-brokered deal with Iran concerning their nuclear program have left many political analysts stymied, but one ancient Jewish source presents a scenario, unthinkable just a few years ago, which is now a strong possibility: a nuclear war between Saudi Arabia and Iran that leaves Israel untouched and makes way for the coming of the Messiah.

So much is still unclear about Iran and the Middle East, but the Yalkut Shimoni, a collection of Biblical teachings believed to have been arranged in the 13th century, predicted a scenario that is is becoming more relevant as time goes on, anticipating our present political reality.

Rabbi Yizchok said: “The year that Melech HaMoshiach [Messiah the King] will be revealed, all the nations of the world will be provoking each other. The King of Persia (Iran) will provoke the King of Arabia (Saudi Arabia), and the King of Arabia will go to Edom (the West) to take counsel, but the King of Persia will in turn, destroy the entire world. The nations of the world will be outraged and panicked. They will fall on their faces, and they will experience pains like birth pangs. Israel too will be outraged and in a state of panic and ask, where do we go? But say unto them, ‘My children, do not fear, the time of your redemption has come. And in the last redemption will be different from the first which was followed by further bondage and pain. After this last redemption, you will not again experience any further pain or subjugation.’”

The Yalkut Shimoni predicted a global conflict involving all of the nations. The focus of the conflict, though, will be Iran pitted against Saudi Arabia, resulting in total apocalypse which, in light of today’s weapons technology, would likely be nuclear.

With radical Islam stoking the flames, and the opposing sides of the Islamic world arming up, the nuclear showdown prophesied by the Yalkut Shimoni now looms closer than ever, especially in the wake of a recent clue that Israel and Saudi Arabia may be approaching an unlikely partnership.

Just a few weeks ago, Salman Al-Ansari, the founder and president of the Washington DC-based Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), made waves when he published an article in The Hill suggesting that Israel and Saudi Arabia form an alliance.

Al-Ansari noted many mutual interests (financial, technology, water engineering), claiming that “it is common knowledge that Saudi Arabia and Israel have committed to rational and balanced foreign policies over the past 70 years, never seeking any provocative or hostile actions against each other.”

Al-Ansari stated that the basis of this revolutionary coalition would be a shared threat: “The totalitarian government of Iran which is classified internationally as a global sponsor of terrorism.” Implicit in Al-ansari’s article is that the catalyst for this new era of cooperation between Israel and the leader of global Sunni Islam is the looming threat of a revived Iranian nuclear program.

Until recently, conflict with Saudi Arabia would not have included a threat of nuclear escalation, since they were not known to have a nuclear weapons program and were a member of the coalition of countries demanding a Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone in the Middle East. This changed as a result of the P5+1 agreement brokered by US President Barack Obama last year.

In May 2015, The Sunday Times of London reported that the Saudis had “taken the ‘strategic decision’ to acquire ‘off-the-shelf’ atomic weapons from Pakistan amid growing fears of a nuclear-armed Iran.”

Professor Ze’ev Maghen of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic studies agreed that the situation is close to exploding. “Iran and Saudi Arabia are indeed poised with knives at each other’s throats,” he told Breaking Israel News. “This can certainly explode, as Saudi Arabia is the leader of Sunni Islam and Iran is the leader of Shi’ite Islam.”

However, he expressed doubt at the idea of an Israeli-Saudi alliance. “I’ve heard reports of cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia, but I am not sure how far that can actually go.”

Rabbi Yosef Dayan, a member of the nascent Sanhedrin who can trace his lineage back to King David, think that that current events fit perfectly into the Yalkut Shimoni.

“The Yalkut Shimoni emphasizes that Messiah is a process that includes the entire world, not just Israel. It involves the entire world,” explained Rabbi Dayan to Breaking Israel News.

He emphasized that the prophecy is a prediction of modern, tangible events. “It is not a supernatural process, brought about by angels coming down from heaven,” he said. “These things we hear about in the news, happening between nations, this is the Messianic process unfolding in front of our eyes.”

Rabbi Dayan connected the prophecy to non-Jews outside of Israel who see Biblical prophecy coming to life in the headlines – whether for better or worse.

“Many non-Jews are waking up to this, and are turning to the tiny State of Israel, some wanting to connect with us in a positive way, others seeking to prevent Messiah, even if it means self-destruction,” he said. “Many non-Jews are calling for us to build the Temple, while others, against all logic, are claiming there never was a Temple. It is all in the guise of politics, but it is a global Messiah happening right now.”

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Nov 14

Erdogan reminds Turks of old empire, with his eye on new powers

By SELCAN HACAOGLU | Bloomberg News | Published: November 8, 2016

ANKARA, Turkey — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has started talking about Turkey’s borders, hinting they should be shifted outward a bit. In Syria and Iraq, his army is involved in wars over territory once ruled from Istanbul. Maps of a Greater Turkey have circulated.

That has led to speculation that Erdogan, fresh from surviving an attempted coup, wants to crown his 14-year rule in Turkey by annexing chunks of its neighbors. But analysts see a more mundane domestic calculation behind the rhetoric: They say the president is really trying to expand his own powers, not his country’s frontiers.

Erdogan still hankers after making his office the focus of all power in Turkey, instead of the largely ceremonial post it was before he took over — and, on paper, still is. But he doesn’t have support in parliament to make that constitutional change — and maybe not in the country, either, if it went to a referendum. In both cases, the likeliest bloc of voters to be won over is nationalists who aren’t at all averse to talk of Turkey’s historic claims on nearby lands, or military attacks on Kurdish groups who live there.

“Erdogan is seeking to expand his support base among nationalists by talking tough over regional matters,” said Nihat Ali Ozcan, an analyst at the Economic Policy Research Foundation in Ankara. It’s “part of his political calculations for a presidential system,” Ozcan said.

Last week’s domestic crackdown on Kurdish politicians, which triggered sharp falls on financial markets, may be part of the same calculus. Likewise Erdogan’s recent support for reinstating the death penalty, which could be applied to Kurdish militants as well as members of the Islamist secret society said to be behind the failed putsch in July. That idea won backing from the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, whose lawmakers would be swing voters when plans for constitutional change reach parliament.

Requests for comment for this story to the Turkish presidency’s press office went unanswered. Ilnur Cevik, a chief adviser to Erdogan, also didn’t respond to calls seeking comment.

Erdogan’s foreign policy has become more assertive since the coup attempt. In August, he sent troops into Syria, where they’re pursuing Islamic State but also clashing with fighters linked to the separatist Kurdish PKK — the group that’s a main target of Erdogan’s crackdown at home. Its Syrian affiliates have established control over much of that country’s north during five years of civil war, and in doing so, emerged as a favored U.S. fighting force in the ground war against Islamic State.

In recent days, Turkey has been sending tanks and troops to its Iraqi border too, ready to bolster a 2,000-strong force that’s already inside the country — despite loud protests from Baghdad.

Erdogan insists that Turkey will join in the ongoing liberation of Mosul, the biggest Iraqi city in Islamic State’s self-proclaimed Caliphate. Justifying that stance, which has dismayed many allies, he’s repeatedly referred to Turkey’s past rule over the region.

Pro-government media dug up the history of oil-rich Mosul and Kirkuk, provinces of the Ottoman Empire that almost became part of the Turkish republic created after World War I. Instead they went to another new state, Iraq, which was then under a British mandate, and Turkey formally dropped its claim over them in the late 1920s.

Still, “Mosul maintains a position of unique historical relevance in Turkey’s collective memory,” the Soufan Group, a security analyst, said in an emailed report. It said Erdogan’s deployment of troops nearby is part of “Turkey’s effort to strategically position itself and the forces it supports to prevail in the aftermath of the battle.”

As in Syria, Islamic State isn’t Turkey’s only enemy in Iraq, and not necessarily the most important one. Erdogan has called Sinjar, west of Mosul, a “sensitive target” for Turkey. Over the past year, it’s become a base for PKK fighters who helped drive the jihadists out of the town.

To be sure, Erdogan has other reasons besides domestic politics to seek influence over the conflicts convulsing Turkey’s neighbors.

“Turkey sees that Iraq and Syria are going to be, for the foreseeable future, failed states,” said Soner Cagaptay, an analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. That entails “huge amounts of instability, civil war, jihadist threats,” he said. And Turkey’s best response is “a forward military presence in both countries.”

There are also sectarian allegiances at stake. Erdogan is a Sunni Muslim, like most Turks, and his politics are rooted in religion. He portrays Turkey as the protector of Sunnis in Iraq and Syria who face oppression at the hands of rulers backed by Iran, the region’s main Shiite power. “Erdogan is unhappy — as would be any Turkish leader, secular, Islamist, you name it — to see Iran rising,” Cagaptay said.

On that, at least, Turkey and the U.S. can see eye to eye. But as the battle for Mosul approaches a climax, it’s their disagreements that threaten to unstitch the fragile anti-ISIS coalition assembled in Washington. The Iraqi government that Erdogan fulminates against is an American ally, and so are the Kurdish fighters in Syria that his army is targeting.

Not all the Turkish leader’s trademark verbal volleys are directed at Kurds or Shiites. Erdogan has also criticized NATO allies for failing to prevent the slaughter in Syria, and for giving his government only lukewarm support as it faced down the coup attempt.

That’s one reason Erdogan’s domestic agenda is widening the rift between Turkey and the west, according to Aaron Stein, a fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington.

“Talking tough never hurts a president running a campaign geared toward an inward-looking and hypernationalist constituency,” Stein said. But it creates a “toxic mix for trans-Atlantic relations.

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Nov 07

Stunner: Christians banned from Christian church

Turkey’s move advances Erdogan’s Islamist state agenda

Published: 19 hours ago

Bob Unruh

Christians who were thrown out of their church facility centuries ago when the Islamist Ottoman empire bludgeoned its way into power and turned it into a mosque have been ejected – again – and from the same facility.

For the same reason – a forced conversion to a mosque.

It’s happening as the Islamist agenda of Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan advances.

The recent forced move came against the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, often described as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.

“Islamists have detested that fact for years,” reported Michael Van Der Galien at PJ Media.

“After all, it is a Christian church, and therefore a Christian symbol. That’s why the Ottoman Turks wasted little time transforming the church into a mosque when they invaded and conquered Constantinople (Istanbul) centuries ago. Christian symbols and works of art were destroyed or covered, and a dominating tower was built from which the Islamic call to prayer could be sung.”

He explained, “The Ottomans did that because they wanted to show Christians that, from then onwards, Islam was in power. Christianity would be subjugated.”

However, in the last century the Ottoman empire collapsed and Turkey was created, the government declared Hagia Sophia neutral, so that Christians, Muslims, and others could enjoy and appreciate it.

That’s changed now, under Erdogan.

It was only three years ago WND reported experts were alarmed when a court ruling in Turkey said the facility of that same name in Trabzon, along the Black Sea, must be converted to a mosque.

It raised concern that the event would be a stalking horse for the Hagia Sophia Museum, the artifact, in Istanbul.

“A building covenanted as a mosque cannot be used for any other purpose,” Mazhar Yildirimham, of the General Directorate of Pious Foundations, said in a report at the time.

A year later, it was reported the Hagia Sophia Church in Eregli had become the ninth Hagia Sophia location converted to a mosque by Turks in recent years.

Earlier this year, it was reported Turkey allowed a daily Quran reading to be broadcast from the main Hagia Sophia, the former Byzantine cathedral.

Christians in Turkey feared the latest move, a government announcement that it was appointing a permanent imam to the Hagia Sophia, means “it will basically function as any other mosque.”

Reported PJ Media, “Turkey’s Islamist president is on a war path with Christians in Turkey. Their churches are turned into mosques, their pastors are arrested and deported, and those Christians who remain are constantly forced to look over their shoulder.”

At the Counterjihad blog, it was reported the move “shows clearly the designs of Turkey’s Islamist president.”

The report said Erdogan is using the alleged coup attempt over the summer to “deepen [his] control over every aspect of Turkish life.”

“Over ten thousand public servants have been purged from the government in recent days, raising the total figure to over a hundred thousand – some 37,000 of whom have been arrested. Erdoğan has pressed the Turkish parliament to reinstate the death penalty so that he can begin disposing of those he has identified as his enemies.”

The blog post said sources report “the detained who are subjected to trial must submit to having all of their conversations with their lawyers recorded whenever the prosecution requests it. Such recordings are of course admissible as evidence against the client – or the lawyer, if he comes to be considered an enemy of the state from working too hard to defend people already classified as ‘enemies of the state.’”

Those include the opposition media, where newspaper reporters have had their laptops seized, a television station was shut down and more.

Also, “Some 1,267 academics who signed a ‘Peace Petition’ last January have been removed from their jobs according to CounterJihad’s sources, and several have been arrested and charged with ‘terroristic acts’ for signing or forwarding that petition. Our sources tell us that under the new laws, President Erdoğan must personally approve all new university presidents.”

The blog post said Turkey’s military forces seized the cathedral in order to install the permanent imam.

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Nov 01

Turkey’s Ongoing Military Purge Drives, Complicates Regional Ambitions

October 27, 2016

In an ambitious effort to ensure that Turkey plays a leading role in shaping Iraq and Syria after the ouster of the Islamic State, Turkish officials have gone on the offensive in recent months, deploying troops across borders, issuing threats to foreign governments, and publicly yearning to claw back former Ottoman territory carved away nearly a century ago.

But such saber rattling comes just as the Turkish military is being gutted in a months-long purge that has seen thousands of troops cashiered and hundreds of senior officers jailed or fired, while hundreds more have been recalled from overseas postings with NATO and other allies. The far-reaching reprisals follow the failed military coup that sought to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July, and vastly overshadow previous Turkish purges after abortive putsches.

The Turkish air force, in particular, is being decimated. At least 300 of its officers have been sacked, leading to the grounding of five squadrons of F-16 fighters and thereby cutting the available jets from 240 to about 140. Even those may be tough to properly maintain, given the purge of mechanics and ground crews in the aftermath of the July 15 coup, in which several F-16s bombed the parliament building in Ankara and Erdogan’s palace.

On Thursday, Turkish police arrested another 45 air force pilots, just the latest salvo in a purge whose scope is unprecedented in NATO history. As many as 10,000 service members have been fired or arrested over the past three months, arrests which have hit the air force particularly hard given that several top air force generals took part in the coup attempt. Overall, at least 149 generals and admirals have been fired or arrested, half of Turkey’s total roster. The ouster has cut so deep that Ankara is scouring for engineering students and even secular officers forcibly retired after a 2010 coup attempt to stanch the brain drain.

The military purge is both pushing Turkey to play a more adventurous role in the region, by giving troops a fight outside Turkey, and making those irredentist visions that much harder to achieve. What’s more, Turkey’s military housecleaning threatens to seriously weaken NATO’s southern flank just as Russian adventurism in the neighborhood has ratcheted up, with a renewed Russian military operation in support of Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria and a heavy Russian naval deployment to the Mediterranean.

Erdogan’s government desperately “wants to rebuild the image of the military,” after the coup, Gonul Tol, director of the Middle East Institute’s center for Turkish studies, told Foreign Policy. One way to do that is to get them into the fight. Turkish forces plowed across the Syrian border in August during Operation Euphrates, a push to kick the Islamic State off the Turkish border and keep Kurdish militiamen from broadening their Syrian holdings.

Since then, Turkey has only dialed up the rhetoric. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has played a key role, threatening a ground invasion of Iraq, more attacks on U.S.-backed Kurdish forces fighting in Syria, and claiming that Turkish F-16s are involved in operations over Mosul. (They aren’t.)

Erdogan himself has fanned the flames. After the Iraqi government rejected Turkey’s offer of its F-16s to take part in the fight for Mosul earlier this month, Erdogan told the Turkish parliament, “we will play a role in the Mosul liberation operation and no one can prevent us from participating.” Some 600 Turkish troops remain unwelcome interlopers at a base north of Mosul, where they have been training Sunni and friendly Kurdish militias, despite howls of protest from Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Regional experts say that the Turks aren’t out of bounds in looking to play a serious role in security operations in the region. Turkey shares long and often porous borders with both Iraq and Syria, and Ankara has spent decades fighting Kurdish PKK militants in southeastern Turkey who use both countries as safe havens. Ankara’s desire to shape what happens after the ouster of the Islamic State is in many ways an extension of deeply entrenched security habits, especially when it comes to checking the threat of the various Kurdish militias.

But recent comments — from trampling on Iraq’s requests to pull troops out, to expansionist dreams of territorial aggrandizement — have hurt Ankara’s standing on the global stage.

“They’re expending political capital more than anything else” throughout the Middle East and in Europe, said Aaron Stein, resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

Relations with the United States aren’t much better. Erdogan’s government has blamed the coup attempt on forces linked to Fethullah Gulen, a cleric and onetime Erdogan ally living in exile in Pennsylvania. Gulen’s movement has spread throughout the armed forces, Erdogan and his supporters say, and Washington’s refusal to extradite him to Turkey has created a major rift between the pair of NATO allies.

On Wednesday, Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag met with U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch in Washington to press Turkey’s case that Gulen was the coup’s mastermind, and that he directly influenced key officers. Bozdag presented Lynch with the testimony of Lt. Col. Levent Turkkan, the aide to military Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar, in which, under questioning, Turkkan admitted to being a Gulenist, and of wiretapping the chief of staff and delivering the tapes to contacts for shipment to Gulen in Pennsylvania. Like many other top officers arrested after the coup, pictures taken of Turkkan in the days after the failed operation show his face bloodied, and his hands and midsection heavily bandaged.

Speaking to reporters at the Turkish Embassy on Thursday, Bozdag warned, “it will deal a blow to the relationship between Turkey and the United States if Gulen is not extradited. We want the United States to understand us, because there is a growing anti-Americanism among Turkish people.”

Lynch has said that for extradition the United States requires evidence that would stand up in a U.S. court. A statement from the Department of Justice on Wednesday said the two sides “will continue their ongoing close and full cooperation” in the matter.

Turkey’s purge also threatens to undermine NATO, of which it has been a crucial part since 1952; Turkey has the second-largest military in the alliance, after the United States. The culling has hit liaison officers with NATO and other allies particularly hard, which makes it more difficult for countries like the United States to coordinate on military operations. Many of the dismissed officers trained or studied in the United States, and their departure creates a vacuum within the upper ranks of the armed forces, where seasoned officers with relationships built over the course of years with NATO officers and diplomats are critical.

Since July, dozens of officers posted to NATO assignments have received orders to come home, where many have been arrested, and others simply given their walking papers. A total of 149 of Ankara’s military representatives at NATO facilities in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom have returned to Turkey. Of the 50 Turkish officers serving at NATO headquarters in Brussels, only nine remain.

Jorge Benitez, a NATO expert at the Atlantic Council, says Turkish officials have told him that about 400 of Turkey’s military envoys across the world have also been fired or called back.

The magnitude of Erdogan’s purges — which also include tens of thousands of judges, police officers, teachers, journalists, and academics — further “fuel instability in a major NATO ally that is already under strain from terrorist attacks, a huge population of refugees, and a war next door in Syria that is becoming even more violent,” Benitez said.

And that is disturbing news not just for the ongoing fight against the Islamic State, but as part of NATO’s effort to hold the line against an increasingly aggressive Russia, which has bolstered its defenses in the Black Sea and whose military expedition in Syria is the country’s largest overseas deployment in years.

“There’s no question it’s going to make it less easy to operate together” as an alliance, former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Eric Edelman observed to FP

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Nov 01

The Muslim prayer at Rome’s Coliseum was a declaration of war

That mass prayer means that it is not possible to turn Muslims into liberal secularists. Quite the contrary.

Giulio Meotti, 25/10/16 11:39

Something dramatic happened last Friday in Rome and slowly,slowly we are starting to decipher it. A vast, silent mass of hundreds of Muslim faithful gathered to pray in front of Rome’s Coliseum.

They chose a symbol of Western culture and did so under the wise guidance of political Imams. This was not an Islam respectful of the secular and democratic nature of Italian institutions. It was the political branch of an Islam that does not separate state and mosque, the Muslim Brotherhood, whose slogan has never changed since the time of Hassan al-Banna: “Allah is our goal, the Prophet our leader, the Koran our law, the jihad our way, dying for the way of Allah is our greatest hope”.

That spectacular Islamic mass was like a refusal of the illusion of a cultural “peace” slowly being strangled and punctuated with Koranic invocations. Something similar had already happened in front of Milan’s main cathedral and Bologna’s church of San Petronio, the target of Islamic fundamentalism because of a fresco by Giovanni da Modena that depicts Mohammed among the damned, in accordance with Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Islamists aim at a pedagogy that is not afraid of using words based on strength honor, faith and war. That mass prayer means that it is not possible to turn Muslims into liberal secularists. That Muslims could be assimilated to a secular environment.

Rome’s prayer was part of the acculturation of Europe’s Muslims, understood as “dar al shaada,” a land of religious mission by Islamist organizations. The purpose of prayer was to advance loyalty to the Prophet. It was pure Islamic, their concept of “the solution”.

We lack the will and fear abounds.

Rome’s prayer was not a “peaceful” rally, although there was no violence. It was not a manifestation of freedom of conscience, it was not the modern
Lee Harris said a most important thing: The glory of the West has been the eradication of the virus of fanaticism, but perhaps we have achieved it at the price of our defeat.
exercise of religious freedom. It was a declaration of cultural war, the deadly encirclement of Western secularism.

The well-known preacher Yussuf al Qaradawi said that the day will come when Rome will be Islamized. It remains to decide whether it will “by the word or by the sword”. Last Friday’s prayer it was by the word, while ISIS released videos in which the Coliseum is burned and bombed.

The American philosopher Lee Harris said a most important thing: The glory of the West has been the eradication of the virus of fanaticism, but perhaps we have achieved it at the price of our defeat.

The multicultural paradox, of which Rome’s mass prayer was another manifestation, looks like this: We are afraid of each other and we try to flatter, we do not know ourselves so we don’t see our enemy’s goals.

The mass prayer in front of the Coliseum is a way of saying, “we are radically different and we say this in front of your historical nationalist monument”. But is there someone who hears them?

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Oct 24

Russian warships filmed off coast of Britain as Royal Navy shadows Syria-bound vessels through English Channel

21 October 2016 • 1:55pm

Russian warships have been pictured off the coast of Britain, en route to a suspected bolstering of the bombing campaign on the besieged Syrian city Aleppo.

Royal Navy vessels were closely monitoring the fleet as it passed through the English Channel at around 9am on Friday.

Admiral Kuznetsov, an aircraft carrier, and Peter the Great, a Kirov class battlecruiser, were among those filmed off Ramsgate, Kent, in footage posted online.

The Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov passes within a few miles of Dover Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

The Russian vessels were being shadowed by the Royal Navy as they headed towards the eastern Mediterranean via the Dover Strait.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has said the Russian fleet will be marked “every inch of the way” as he claimed the deployment was aimed at testing British capabilities.

The Admiral Kuznetzov passes through the English Channel near Kent Credit: Jim Bennett for The Telegraph

Peter the Great, a Kirov class battlecruiser, filmed off the Kent coast on Friday morning Credit: BBC/PERISCOPE

Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan sailed from Portsmouth on Tuesday to “man-mark” the Kuznetsov group, and Type 23 frigate HMS Richmond escorted the group from the Norwegian Sea as it steamed south.

The Royal Navy’s monitoring of the Russian flotilla coincides with Trafalgar Day, the day when Britain triumphed in the Battle of Trafalgar on October 21 1805.


On Friday morning, a Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “They are all in one line now. They have to be to effectively go through the traffic separation scheme, and they are progressing as expected.

“They haven’t slowed or sped up. They are going to be past Dover in the next few hours. When they are clear of the Dover traffic separation scheme, they will probably break back out in a formation scheme and be on their way.

“We still don’t know where that is and how they are going to get there, but everything so far has been exactly how we would have expected.”

A group of people gathered in Dover from the early hours to catch a glimpse of he flotilla, with some posting pictures on Twitter:

The Russian deployment comes as Theresa May condemned Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Syria, accusing Moscow of being behind “sickening atrocities” in support of Bashar Assad’s regime.

Syrian forces, backed by Russian air power, have agreed a temporary humanitarian truce in Aleppo, but Mrs May urged European leaders to take a firm line against Moscow.

Arriving at her first Brussels summit as Prime Minister on Thursday, Mrs May called for a “robust and united European stance in the face of Russian aggression”.

Nato said the prospect of Russia’s only aircraft carrier heading to the region does not “inspire confidence” that Moscow is seeking a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu said in September that the Admiral Kuznetsov-led Northern Fleet would be joining a taskforce in the Mediterranean.

According to the Russian news agency Tass, he told a defence board meeting that the plan was to bolster the Mediterranean fleet’s “combat capabilities”.

A statement from the fleet to the agency on October 15 said the group also consisted of the Pyotr Velikiy battlecruiser, the Severomorsk anti-submarine ship, the Vice-Admiral Kulakov destroyer and other support vessels.


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