Category: Islam

ART OF THE DEAL: TRUMP BROKERS DEAL BETWEEN ISRAEL AND THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES TO CREATE FULL DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS BETWEEN THE TWO NATIONS

Netanyahu tweeted an Israeli flag with a short message in Hebrew: “Historic Day.” The joint statement from the U.S., the UAE and Israel said delegations would meet in the coming weeks to sign deals on direct flights, security, telecommunications, energy, tourism and health care. The two countries also will partner on fighting the coronavirus pandemic. “Opening direct ties between two of the Middle East’s most dynamic societies and advanced economics will transform the region by spurring economic growth, enhancing technological innovation and forging closer people-to-people relations,” said the statement by Trump, Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the day-to-day ruler of the UAE. It said the leaders had a three-way call discussing the deal.

by Geoffrey Grider August 13, 2020

President Donald Trump said on Thursday that the United Arab Emirates and Israel have agreed to establish full diplomatic ties as part of a deal to halt the annexation of occupied land sought by the Palestinians for their future state.

It’s not exactly an ‘October surprise’, seeing as we’re in August but it is certainly surprising a lot of people. Being able to broker full diplomatic relations between Israel and any Arab nation, much less the United Arab Emirates, is no small feat. Obviously, God’s hand is still on President Trump and still using him to advance the end times prophecy timeline. The only thing this new puts into question is the annexation of Judea and Samaria, but maybe the Lord has another avenue in mind.

“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 12:3 (KJB)

This is a great deal on many levels, and the fact that Donald Trump accomplished it will bode well for the election coming up. President Trump needs a few more achievements like this, but something tells me that is exactly what he has planned as we get closer to November. Never a dull moment on the front lines of the end times!

Netanyahu tweeted an Israeli flag with a short message in Hebrew: “Historic Day.”

FROM THE AP: The announcement makes the UAE the first Gulf Arab state to do so and only the third Arab nation to have active diplomatic ties to Israel. Trump tweeted a statement from the countries, acknowledging the deal. He then told reporters in the Oval Office that it was “a truly historic moment.”

“NOW THAT THE ICE HAS BEEN BROKEN I EXPECT MORE ARAB AND MUSLIM COUNTRIES WILL FOLLOW THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES,” HE SAID.

The recognition grants a rare diplomatic win to Trump ahead of the November election as his efforts to see an end to the war in Afghanistan have yet to come to fruition while efforts to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians have made no headway. Israel and the UAE also have been among Trump’s closest foreign allies.

For Israel, the announcement comes after years of boasting by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his government enjoys closer ties to Arab nations than publicly acknowledged. Netanyahu has sought to build settlements on lands sought by the Palestinians and embraced a Trump proposal that would allow him to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank while granting Palestinians limited autonomy in other areas.

For the UAE, home to skyscraper-studded Dubai and the rolling, oil-rich sand dunes of Abu Dhabi, it further burnishes its international campaign to be seen as a beacon of tolerance in the Middle East despite being governed by autocratic rulers. It also puts the UAE out first in a regional recognition race among neighboring Gulf Arab states.

And for the Palestinians, who long have relied on Arab backing in their struggle for independence, the announcement marked both a win and setback. While Thursday’s deal halts Israeli annexation plans, the Palestinians have repeatedly urged Arab governments not to normalize relations with Israel until a peace agreement establishing an independent Palestinian state is reached.

“Israel got rewarded for not declaring openly what it’s been doing to Palestine illegally & persistently since the beginning of the occupation,” senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi wrote on Twitter. She also said the UAE has come forward with its “secret dealings/normalization with Israel.”

“Please don’t do us a favor. We are nobody’s fig leaf!” she wrote.

The militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, called the deal by the Emiratis “a stabbing in the back of our people.”

The joint statement from the U.S., the UAE and Israel said delegations would meet in the coming weeks to sign deals on direct flights, security, telecommunications, energy, tourism and health care. The two countries also will partner on fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

“Opening direct ties between two of the Middle East’s most dynamic societies and advanced economics will transform the region by spurring economic growth, enhancing technological innovation and forging closer people-to-people relations,” said the statement by Trump, Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the day-to-day ruler of the UAE. It said the leaders had a three-way call discussing the deal.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised the deal.

“This is a remarkable achievement for two of the world’s most forward leaning, technologically advanced states, and reflects their shared regional vision of an economically integrated region,” he said in a statement. “It also illustrates their commitment to confronting common threats, as small — but strong — nations.”

He added: “Blessed are the peacemakers. Mabruk and Mazal Tov.”

Netanyahu tweeted an Israeli flag with a short message in Hebrew: “Historic Day.”

Among Arab nations, only Egypt and Jordan have active diplomatic ties with Israel. Egypt made a peace deal with Israel in 1979, followed by Jordan in 1994. Mauritania recognized Israel in 1999, but later ended relations in 2009 over the Israel’s war in Gaza at the time.

In addition to Trump, the main U.S. mediators for agreement were the president’s senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, special Mideast envoy Avi Berkowitz and David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10827

Trump announces ‘Historic Peace Agreement’ between Israel, UAE

United Arab Emirates and Israel agree to ‘full normalization’ of diplomatic relations, Trump announces

By Brooke Singman | Fox News

President Trump on Thursday announced what he called a “Historic Peace Agreement” between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, saying they agreed to “full normalization of relations.”

“HUGE breakthrough today! Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends, Israel and the United Arab Emirates!” Trump tweeted Thursday morning.

The president, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed released a joint statement Thursday, after the three spoke “and agreed to the full normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.” The statement said that the “diplomatic breakthrough” was at “the request of President Trump,” and that Israel will “suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in the President’s Vision for Peace and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world.”

Israel and the UAE also said they will continue their efforts to “achieve a just, comprehensive and enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

“This historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region and is a testament to the bold diplomacy and vision of the three leaders and the courage of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential in the region,” the statement read. “All three countries face many common challenges and will mutually benefit from today’s historic achievement.”

Delegations from Israel and the UAE are expected to meet in the coming weeks to “sign bilateral agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications, technology, energy, healthcare, culture, the environment, the establishment of reciprocal embassies, and other areas of mutual benefit.” “Opening direct ties between two of the Middle East’s most dynamic societies and advanced economies will transform the region by spurring economic growth, enhancing technological innovation, and forging closer people-to-people relations,” the statement also read.

Trump on Thursday said he had a call with Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The president told reporters Israel and the UAE will exchange embassies and ambassadors, and “begin cooperation across the board.” The president said he expected other countries to follow the UAE’s lead on this effort to cooperate with Israel going forward.

“We are already discussing this with other nations,” Trump said. “So, you will probably see others of these.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10824

Did The “Mushroom Cloud” Explosion In Beirut Just Push The Middle East Closer To A Major War?

August 4, 2020 by Michael Snyder

2020 just keeps getting weirder.  On Tuesday, an absolutely massive explosion caused a red mushroom cloud to rise high over the city of Beirut, Lebanon.  It is being called “Beirut’s Hiroshima”, and the blast was heard as far away as Cyprus.  You can watch a two minute compilation that contains video clips of the explosion from several different angles right here.  It appears that the shockwave did even more damage than the initial explosion did, and at this hour a large portion of the city of Beirut lies in ruins.  Dozens are dead, thousands are injured, and the entire city is now in a state of complete chaos

Two enormous explosions devastated Beirut’s port on Tuesday, leaving at least 73 people dead and thousands injured, shaking distant buildings and spreading panic and chaos across the Lebanese capital.

The second blast sent an enormous orange fireball into the sky, flattened the harbourside and drove a tornado-like shockwave through the city, shattering windows kilometres (miles) away.

It is being reported that Beirut’s port “is totally destroyed”, and this comes at a really bad time because Lebanon is already in the midst of an epic economic collapse.

In recent months, we have become accustomed to hearing about “mystery explosions” all over the Middle East, and many believe that those mystery explosions indicate that the region is on the brink of a full-blown war.

But this incident was different.  A large section of the capital of Lebanon has been flattened, and many eyewitnesses are comparing the blast to a nuclear explosion.  Here is one example

“It was like an atomic bomb,” said Makrouhie Yerganian, a retired schoolteacher in her mid-70s who has lived near the port for decades.

“I’ve experienced everything, but nothing like this before,” even during the country’s 1975-1990 civil war, she said. “All the buildings around here have collapsed.”

And even Beirut Governor Marwan Aboud brought up “Hiroshima” and “Nagasaki” when asked about the explosion

“This reminds me of what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” said Beirut Governor Marwan Aboud. “I have never seen such widespread destruction. This is a national catastrophe. This is a disaster for Lebanon. We’re already living through days where we can barely keep going.”

“And now this…I don’t know how we’re going to recover from this,” Aboud told Sky News, before bursting into tears.

Immediately after this happened, a lot of people began wondering if this was an Israeli attack, but that does not appear to be the case.

One unnamed Israeli government official told AFP that “Israel had nothing to do with the incident”, and Benny Gantz has actually offered to send humanitarian aid to Beirut…

Offers of aid also came from bitter rivals Israel, with which it is still technically at war. Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, on behalf of the State of Israel, have offered the Lebanese government – via international intermediaries – medical and humanitarian aid, as well as immediate emergency assistance,’ said a joint statement from the two ministries.

If Israel really had been behind this attack, I seriously doubt that they would be offering to patch up their enemies.

And this isn’t Israel’s style either.  The Israelis prefer surgical strikes that avoid civilian casualties as much as possible, and this explosion definitely does not fit that profile.

Instead, it appears that this was some sort of deeply tragic accident.  Lebanese officials have admitted that 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate were stored in the unit that exploded, and that amount of ammonium nitrate can definitely produce the sort of explosion that we just witnessed

Lebanon’s interior minister said ammonium nitrate had been stored in the unit since 2014, with experts agreeing that the chemical would cause the red plume of smoke which burst up from the blast.

Local media are reporting that 2,700 tonnes of the chemical exploded, which scientists making initial calculations said was about three kilotonnes of TNT – roughly a fifth of the Little Boy atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in the Second World War.

But Donald Trump is apparently not buying that explanation.  He told the press that the explosion “was an attack” and that it was caused by “a bomb of some kind”…

At least 60 people were killed and thousands were wounded in an explosion that caused widespread damage in the Lebanese capital. Trump said he had been briefed by “our great generals” and that they “seem to feel” that the explosion was not an accident.

“According to them – they would know better than I would – but they seem to think it was an attack,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “It was a bomb of some kind.”

If this really was an attack, the Lebanese are going to want revenge, because a substantial portion of their capital city has been absolutely decimated.

And needless to say, there are already voices all over the Middle East that are eagerly pointing a finger of blame at Israel and are calling for war.

But unlike the “mystery explosions” that have been happening in Iran, the evidence does not indicate that Israel had anything to do with this great tragedy.

Unfortunately, a lot of people out there are going to jump to their own conclusions, and many of those that hate Israel will use this as another justification to call for armed conflict.

Over the past couple of years, there have been so many moments when it seemed like a major war could break out at any time in the Middle East.  And here in 2020, tensions are running higher than ever.  The IDF has been regularly hitting Iranian and Hezbollah targets all over the region, and we just witnessed a harrowing confrontation on the Syrian border.

It appears that it is just a matter of time before a huge war erupts in the Middle East, and it certainly isn’t going to take much to trigger one. So could this explosion push the region over the edge?

Let us hope not, but without a doubt this blast is not going to help matters.

The devastation that we just witnessed has caused great pain and anger in Lebanon, and terror groups such as Hezbollah will inevitably try to channel all of that pain and anger in a way that furthers their ultimate goals.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10806

ISRAEL PLACES IDF ON HIGH ALERT AFTER BEIRUT PORT CITY ROCKED BY MASSIVE SERIES OF EXPLOSIONS RESULTING IN NUCLEAR BOMB STYLE MUSHROOM CLOUDS

A massive explosion rocked Beirut on Tuesday and a tall plume of smoke could be seen from a distance. The explosion took place at the Beirut Port. According to Lebanese media, ambulances were transporting dozens of injured people to local hospitals. Multiple videos from the area showed a plume of smoke rising from near the coastline and then a large blast and shockwave. Nearby buildings were damaged in the blast. The Daily Star newspaper, for example, released a video from its offices showing extensive damage. 

by Geoffrey Grider August 4, 2020

Video and pictures from the scene showed windows blown out and debris strewn in shops and offices in the Hamra neighborhood of Beirut. The IDF has been on high alert in the North ever since Hezbollah operatives tried crossing into Israel last week.

 

Even though early reports coming out of Lebanon are calling this an ‘accident’, the timing of this explosion is highly suspect to say the least. For the past 6 weeks or so, Israel has been relentlessly bombing targets in Iran and Syria, due to an increase in terrorist activity coming from those areas. As recently as just yesterday, the IDF made air strikes on Iranian targets near Damascus.

When you look at the video of the explosion in Beirut, it was multiple explosions actually, it does not appear to be something that was accidental. It looks like a strategic air strike, the only question is why. If it does turn out to be from Israel, this could well lead to a fresh outbreak in hostilities in the Middle East.

Massive explosion rocks Beirut Port causing damage to nearby buildings

FROM THE JERUSALEM POST: A massive explosion rocked Beirut on Tuesday and a tall plume of smoke could be seen from a distance. The explosion took place at the Beirut Port. According to Lebanese media, ambulances were transporting dozens of injured people to local hospitals.

Multiple videos from the area showed a plume of smoke rising from near the coastline and then a large blast and shockwave. Nearby buildings were damaged in the blast. The Daily Star newspaper, for example, released a video from its offices showing extensive damage.

Massive explosion rocks Beirut Port causing damage to nearby buildings as Israel goes on high alert after strikes on Syria and Iran in recent weeks.

The source of the explosion was unclear. LBCI Lebanon News claimed that a fire had broken out at the port and then triggered an explosion of a nearby warehouse storing fireworks.


According to the Daily Star, two explosions were reported, one at the port and another near the former home of the late Lebanese president Rafik Hariri, who was killed 15 years ago in a Hezbollah-Iranian attack.

Video and pictures from the scene showed windows blown out and debris strewn in shops and offices in the Hamra neighborhood of Beirut. The IDF has been on high alert in the North ever since Hezbollah operatives tried crossing into Israel last week. Late Monday night, the IDF struck multiple targets throughout Syria in response to an attempt by a terror cell in Syria to plant an explosive device along the border fence with Israel.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10799

EGYPTIAN MILITARY CONVENES TO DISCUSS INVADING LIBYA IN POTENTIAL SHOWDOWN WITH TURKEY

O mortal, turn your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. Prophesy against him Ezekiel 38:2, (The Israel BibleTM)

by David Sidman | Jul 20, 2020 | Middle East

The Egyptian parliament will meet on Monday to discuss President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s decision to send ground troops into Libya reports Aawsat.

The president, who is also the military’s chief of staff, still needs the approval of two-thirds of Cairo’s lawmakers as well as a recommendation from the national defense council before deploying military forces into combat missions on foreign soil.

Sisi led a meeting on Sunday for the council to discuss the developments taking place in Libya as part of Egyptian efforts to “maintain the current frontlines” and prevent either side from breaching those red lines. The stated objective is to keep the peace between all Libyan parties involved.

In June, Sisi categorized the cities of Sirte and Jufra as “red lines” that mustn’t be crossed. Any encroachment on these cities would compel Egypt to intervene in order to safeguard its national security, he added.

Sunday’s defense council meeting included the parliament speaker, prime minister as well as top officials from the defense and military ministry, military commanders, intelligence chief, foreign affairs minister, finance and interior ministers.

In a statement, the president underscored that Cairo “will not spare any effort” in supporting Libya and helping its people overcome the crisis. Libya is among the “top priorities of Cairo’s foreign policy” and its security is “integral to Egyptian and Arab national security.”

The president also expressed his commitment to a political solution to the crisis that would ensure Libya’s sovereignty and national unity, restoration of state institutions as well as the “elimination of terrorism and criminal and extremist militias.” Hinting at a potential confrontation with Turkey, the statement said that the solution would end “illegal meddling” in Libyan internal affairs which are only exacerbating the crisis and “threatening neighboring countries and international peace.”

Last month, Breaking Israel News reported on Egyptian tanks that were amassing on Libya’s border. Actually crossing into Libya would be a dramatic escalation.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10747

Is Turkey’s Erdogan out to destabilize Middle East?

From northwest Iraq to Tripoli on Libya’s African coast, Turkey is flexing its muscles – without the slightest nod to the supposedly ‘pro-Western’ and ‘pro-NATO’ orientation that Turkey’s Western apologists like to recall.

 By  Dr. Jonathan Spyer

Turkish forces are at the present time bolstering newly constructed outposts in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Turks have established five new positions on mountainous terrain near the villages of Sharanish and Banka, in the Zakho area adjoining the border with Turkey, since commencing operation in the area in mid-June. Troops have been transported in by helicopter to man the new positions.

This is the latest phase in an operation that has brought the Turkish armed forces to 30 kilometers (18 miles) inside Iraqi Kurdish territory. Operation Claw-Tiger was launched on June 17, following Turkish air attacks on targets Ankara identified as associated with the PKK at a number of sites in the Kurdish Regional Government-controlled area. The areas destroyed in the airstrikes included a number of Yezidi villages in the Mount Sinjar area. A refugee camp at Makhmur was also targeted.

Elements of the 1st and 5th Commando Brigades, both elite Turkish airborne formations, are taking part in the operation on the ground. Iranian artillery shelled the Choman area of the Qandil Mountains on June 16th, in a move widely interpreted as supportive of the Turkish offensive. Iranian cooperation with Turkey derives from immediate shared interests: both countries have restive and alienated Kurdish populations living in geographically distinct areas.

Both wish to see the weakening of both the PKK and the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq. The PKK originated among Turkish Kurds, but also has a franchise among Iranian Kurds (PJAK). Beyond the Kurdish issue, Iran has huge hydrocarbon reserves, while Turkey has a need for oil and gas. As a result, Turkey has been assisting Iran in avoiding US sanctions.

Turkey’s ongoing gas imports from Iran were suspended on March 31, 2020, due to a PKK operation that temporarily disabled the pipeline. Supplies are set to recommence this month. Iran and Turkey both seek the end of the US-led security structure in the region, and are similarly opposed to the various allies in the region of that structure. Hence, there is at present a great deal of common ground between the two countries.

The PKK is a pan-Kurdish organization, and the fighters in Qandil come from across the Kurdish area. The organization was formed in Turkey, however, and its top leadership remains dominated by Turkish Kurds. Despite the considerable dimensions of the current offensive, Kurdish sources do not consider that it represents the beginning of a long-awaited general Turkish attempt to destroy the PKK in Qandil.

Rather, it is seen as continuing an established pattern of ongoing Turkish operations into Kurdish controlled northern Iraq, conducted without inquiry as to the wishes of the local Kurdish authorities, and intended to establish a widening Turkish military infrastructure in the area adjoining the border.

Turkish media reports largely concur. According to a recent article in the Hurriyet newspaper, 12 permanent observation posts had already been established in the KRG controlled area in the period between 2016 and the present operation.

Hurriyet quoted Turkish security officials who depicted the PKK as seeking to establish a corridor from their forces on the Iranian border in Suleimania province, via Sinjar, to the Kurdish controlled area in northeast Syria. In this regard, it is worth noting that both PJAK and other Iranian Kurdish military groups opposed to the Iranian regime, such as the Iranian Kurdish Democratic Party (PDKI) maintain bases and positions inside KRG territory, adjoining the border with Iran.

Ankara considers the YPG (Peoples’ Protection Units), which is the main force in this area, to be a franchise of the PKK. The Turkish operation, according to Hurriyet, is intended to break this corridor from Syria to the Iranian Kurds. It should be noted that the current deployment of Turkish forces is not sufficiently deep to cut any such notional line.

The Turkish newspaper likened the current effort to previous Turkish operations in northern Syria in 2016 and 2019 which resulted in Turkish occupation of two non-contiguous blocs of territory along the Syrian Turkish border. Turkey hopes to expand the easternmost of these areas, which cuts directly into Kurdish controlled northeast Syria.

Kurdish sources, meanwhile, suggest an additional, domestic political motivation for the current operation. They note the dire state of the Turkish economy, and the consequent loss of public support indicated in a number of recent polls, for the ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its main ally, the far-right Nationalist Action Party (MHP). According to this perspective, the Turkish operation is intended to rally the government’s political base through its fear of and hostility to Kurdish aspirations and to distract from socio-economic failure.

This element notwithstanding, Operation Claw Tiger fits into an arc of Turkish military assertiveness currently extending from northern Iraq, across northern Syria, going down via the Mediterranean and via Israel, and reaching Libya. Turkey also has a military presence to the south and east of this area, in Qatar, in Sudan and in Somalia. In the Mediterranean, Turkey is challenging Greece, Cyprus and Israel for the gas riches beneath the water.

Via its SADAT military private company, Ankara is deeply engaged in support of Hamas against Israel. SADAT, sometimes referred to as Erdogan’s “Revolutionary Guards,” is involved in other, similarly more murky ends of Turkey’s regional assertion. The company, founded by the Turkish President’s military advisor General Adnan Tanriverdi, took responsibility for the training of Syrian Islamist and jihadi rebels under Turkey’s flag. These forces were subsequently deployed against the Syrian Kurds in 2019-20.

They are now engaged in Libya, fighting against the Libyan National Army of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. SADAT, incidentally, is currently also involved in training Sunni Islamist forces loyal to the Government of National Accord in Libya. The Africa Intelligence website and Sharq al Awsat newspaper reported this week that the Turkish company has signed an agreement to this end with Security Side, a Libyan security company headed by one Fawzi Abu Kattaf, a Palestinian Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood supporter with close ties to Qatar.

So, what does this flurry of overt and semi-covert Turkish regional military assertion amount to? Can a common theme be established?

In Syria and Iraq, obviously, Ankara is on the face of it challenging its old PKK enemy. But there are additional layers. Erdogan was first to support the Syrian Sunni Arab insurgency. He has proved its last and most faithful ally. Western states, discouraged by the insurgency’s Islamist and jihadi nature, peeled away from it years ago. Turkey, untroubled by these loyalties because it shares them, has remained.

The enclaves in northern Syria do serve to bisect the area of Kurdish control, and in Afrin a large-scale ethnic cleansing of Kurds has taken place. But Turkey is now pouring money and forces into northwest Syria, in an effort to shore up this enclave and ensure its semi permanence. This is not only about opposing Kurdish aspirations. It is about establishing a corner of Syria intended to be forever Turkish (and Sunni Islamist). The Turkish Lira has now been introduced as the currency in these areas, to replace the devastated Syrian pound. The Turkish postal service has even opened branches in a number of towns in northwest Syria.

In Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Erdogan wants to lay claim to the cause of recovering al-Aqsa from non-Muslim custodianship. Covert military support to Hamas runs alongside active soft power efforts. These are managed by the government aid agency TIKA. Tens of millions of dollars are spent each year, via such projects as the Turkish Culture Center on Hashalshelet Street in Jerusalem’s Old City.

In the Mediterranean, the interests, of course, are related to Turkey’s need for gas supplies. But the bald assertiveness of laying claim, together with the client government in Tripoli of a massive swathe of the east Mediterranean and thus stymying plans by Israel, Greece and Cyprus to pipe gas to Europe has the additional advantage for Turkey of depicting itself as the regional dominant force.

In Libya, finally, again geo-strategic and ideological aspects coincide: Serraj is kept in place by Muslim Brotherhood associated forces. He represents a last remnant of the hoped for alliance which Erdogan had thought to lead, before the military coup in Egypt of 2013, the departure of the En Nahda party from power in Tunisia and the revival of Bashar Assad’s fortunes in Syria.

So, all the way from Zakho Province in north west Iraq, to Tripoli on Libya’s African coast, assisted by Qatari direct financial investment, Turkey is flexing its muscles. It is an independent, ambitious foreign policy, without the slightest nod to the supposedly ‘pro-Western’ and ‘pro-NATO’ orientation that Turkey’s Western apologists like to recall. It has its origin in a combination of nationalist assertiveness, tinged with Ottoman-era nostalgia, and the ambitions of MB-style Sunni political Islam. This is a potent mix, which is not required to place itself before the judgement of the Turkish voter until 2023. As of now, its main impact is an arc of destabilization, stretching across land and sea from Iraq to Libya.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10744

Turkey vows to ‘liberate Al-Aqsa’ after turning Hagia Sophia to mosque

The resurrection of Hagia Sophia heralds the Liberation of the Al-Aqsa mosque, the Turkish Presidency website says.

 

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN   

JULY 11, 2020 18:23

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to “liberate al-Aqsa mosque” from Israel after “resurrecting Hagia Sophia” as a mosque on Friday.

The decision to change the status of the ancient Hagia Sophia church, which had been transformed into a mosque in 1453 and then into a museum in 1934, was made controversially last week.

It follows an increasingly religious authoritarian agenda from Ankara that has made Turkey the world’s largest jailer of journalists, seen dissidents imprisoned for “terrorism” and witnessed increasing military invasions of neighboring countries by Turkey.

The resurrection of Hagia Sophia heralds the liberation of the al-Aqsa mosque, the Turkish Presidency website says. “The resurrection of Hagia Sophia is the footsteps of the will of Muslims across the world to come… the resurrection of Hagia Sophia is the reignition of the fire of hope of Muslims and all oppressed, wrong, downtrodden and exploited.”

The speech, which was in Turkish, was translated slightly differently to Arabic and English, apparently as a way to hide part of Ankara’s full views on how it has linked Hagia Sophia to a wider agenda.

In Arabic the speech says that turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque is part of the “return of freedom to al-Aqsa,” essentially meaning Israel should be ejected from controlling Jerusalem’s Old City where al-Aqsa is located.

Turkey’s president linked the decision to reviving Islam from Bukhara in Uzbekistan to Andalusia in Spain. This terminology, linking al-Aqsa in Jerusalem to Hagia Sophia and Spain, is a kind of coded terminology for a wider religious agenda. In the Turkish translation the same reference to Spain does not appear to be included as in the Arabic.

Turkey’s current president has long championed the Palestinian cause and been an extreme critic of Israel, famously walking off the stage at Davos during a discussion with former president Shimon Peres in 2009. Turkey then sent the Gaza flotilla to try to breach Israel’s blockade of Gaza, leading to the deaths of 10 Turkish citizens when Israeli forces raided the Mavi Marmara ship.

In recent years Turkey’s religious and political authorities have been making increasingly adversarial statements about Israel, vowing to mobilize the “Islamic ummah” in June against Israel’s annexation plans.

Linking the major change at Hagia Sophia to Jerusalem illustrates that Ankara’s ambitions are far larger than just reasserting Islamic prayers at the historic mosque and church in Istanbul; it is part of a larger Islamic agenda for the region.

Turkey’s ruling AK Party is rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey is a close ally of Hamas in Gaza. Hamas is also rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood. This strategy by Turkey seeks more influence across the region with like-minded groups and countries, such as Qatar and the Government of the National Accord in Libya.

Turkey is seeking to supplant Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region, such as Egypt and Jordan, as the main determiner of what is “Islamic.”

This means Ankara’s leadership believes that its changes to Hagia Sophia are only one step of a larger religious militarist agenda in the Middle East. Turkey invaded part of eastern Syria in October 2019 after depopulating the Kurdish region of Afrin in Syria in January 2018.

Turkey then recruited Syrian refugees to fight in Libya’s civil war as part of an energy and military deal with Tripoli. In June, Turkey launched airstrikes in Iraq against Kurdish groups, claiming to be fighting “terrorism.”

One day, Turkey could even aim its sights at Jerusalem. The speech about Hagia Sophia clearly indicated this is on the agenda in the future.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10722

With Turkey and Egypt possibly on the verge of war in Libya, an Israeli annexation move is likely to cause Erdogan to spit hellfire.

By HERB KEINON   

JUNE 23, 2020 21:17

Even if nothing else were happening in the world today, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could be expected to react with fury at any Israeli move come July 1 to extend its sovereignty to parts of the West Bank.

That’s just what Erdogan does when it comes to Israel.

But now, with Turkey and Egypt possibly on the verge of war in Libya, as each country is backing opposing sides in the deadly civil war there, an Israeli annexation move is likely to cause Erdogan to spit hellfire.

Why? Because the two Muslim countries will be battling for public opinion in the Arab and Muslim world, and if there is one thing Erdogan has perfected in his 17-year-reign in Turkey, it is to use anti-Israel and antisemitic positions and rhetoric to bolster his stature in both those worlds.

In Libya, very simply put, Turkey and Qatar – two countries sometimes characterized as Muslim “Brotherhood-lite” and who support Islamic groups such as Hamas – are backing Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), against the Libyan National Army forces of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, supported among others by Egypt, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The Muslim Brotherhood has a great deal of sway inside the GNA, while Haftar is opposed to that form of political Islam. Libya, therefore, is just one of the regional theaters where the rivalry between political Islamist forces and the more moderate Sunni states are playing out.

So what does any of that have to do with an Israeli decision to extend its law over Ma’aleh Adumim and Alon Shvut?

If Erdogan can fashion himself with fiery antisemitic and anti-Zionist rhetoric as the champion of the Palestinians, and try to paint Egypt as some kind of Israeli lackey – because of its peace treaty and close security relationship with the Jewish state – then perhaps the Turkish leader can gain points in the Arab world even as he is faces-off militarily – either directly or by proxy – against the Arab world’s most populous and important nation.

What this could conceivably do is force Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to take a much more strident stand against an Israeli move than he otherwise would have liked to, forced – as it were – to be more Catholic on the Israeli-Palestinian issue than the pope (Erdogan).

If the two countries go head to head in Libya, both will want the proverbial Arab street, and if there is one thing that plays exceptionally well on that street, it is bashing Israel.

Erdogan knows this well, having turned it into a diplomatic art form, having rode his Israel bashing to unprecedented popularity for a Turkish leader in the Arab world more than a decade ago.

The first indication of how Erdogan would use Israel slamming to shore up his credentials in the Arab world was in 2004, after Israel killed Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin during the height of the Second Intifada, a move which Erdogan – who became prime minister a year earlier and president in 2014 – called an act of “state terrorism.”

Five years later, Israel’s ambassador to Turkey at the time, Gabby Levy, was quoted in a cable revealed by Wikileaks as a saying that Erdogan was a “fundamentalist” who “hates us religiously.” And his hatred, Levy said, “is spreading.”

The first big wave of popularity that Erdogan felt for slamming Israel came at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2009, when he lashed out at president Shimon Peres for Israel’s actions during Operation Cast Lead a few weeks earlier, and then stormed off the stage. He was widely hailed in the Arab media for “putting Peres in his place.”

And that was only the beginning: he received plaudits for extracting an apology from then-deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon who upbraided the Turkish ambassador in Israel for an antisemitic Turkish television series while seating him on a low couch. And Erdogan was hailed as a hero for recalling Turkey’s ambassador and expelling Israel’s envoy from Ankara, after the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010.

Following that incident, Erdogan hinted that he would send warships to accompany “aid” ships to Gaza to relieve the blockade of Gaza, threatened to make a triumphant visit to Gaza, and claimed on Ankara billboards to have brought Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to his knees after Netanyahu apologized – at the behest of US President Barack Obama – for “operational errors” during the Mavi Marmara raid.

The harder Erdogan hit at Israel, the higher his popularity soared – at least in the Arab world.

The instances where Erdogan has used antisemitic and vitriolic anti-Zionist rhetoric are too numerous to list, so here are just a few highlights:

  • In 2011, he accused “the Israeli people of genocide.”
  • In 2013, he blamed Israel for orchestrating the July 3 coup that brought Sisi to power in Egypt. That year he also called Zionism “a crime against humanity.”
  • In 2014, following Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, Erdogan compared Israel’s military actions in Gaza to Hitler, saying, “They kill women so that they will not give birth to Palestinians; they kill babies so that they won’t grow up; they kill men so they can’t defend their country… They will drown in the blood they shed.”
  • In 2015, a day before an election extended his executive powers in 2015, Erdogan said “Jewish capital” was behind The New York Times and The Guardian, which had written negative editorials about him.
  • In 2017, he tried to delegitimize the independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan by alleging the Mossad was involved. That same year he was also the leading voice in the Muslim world against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, calling Israel a “terrorist state.’’
  • In 2019, he said at a meeting of Muslim leaders on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting that “we view the Holocaust in the same way we view those besieging Gaza and carrying out massacres in it.”


Not only did those comments not detract from Erdogan’s standing either at home or in the Muslim world, but an argument can be made that they actually enhanced it.

It is a given, therefore, that he will slam Israel in the harshest terms for annexation. And whatever he would have said in normal circumstances, he will now surely say with even more vitriolic as Turkey stands at the brink of a military confrontation with Egypt in Libya. Because if there is one thing Erdogan has learned, it is that one way to gain popularity in the Arab world – popularity he will need if battling Egypt – is to bash Israel and the Jews without restraint.

Get ready for an Erdogan on Israel unhinged and ugly, Roger Waters style

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10678

What is Israel’s next move as Turks and Saudis duel over Jerusalem?

Turkey is spending millions of dollars a year to gain influence on the Temple Mount in coordination with a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood known as the Islamic Movement in Israel.

BY ARIEL BEN SOLOMON

 (June 22, 2020 / JNS) Tensions have run increasingly high between the Jordanians and Saudis on one side, and the Turks and Qataris on the other over control of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

“Turkey’s neo-Ottominism in its foreign policy seeks to re-establish its empire; however, the audience is not Western elites, but is meant for domestic consumption,” said David Wurmser, who served as a senior adviser on the Middle East to former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and is currently an executive at the Dephi Global Analysis Group, which he founded.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is driving “an internal policy outward, tapping into the primordial roots of what Turkey once was with the dissolution of the Ottoman caliphate,” Wurmser told JNS.

It all goes back to the modern struggle within Turkey of whether or not the country is meant to be a secular democracy or the leader of the Islamic world, says the former senior U.S. official.

Jordan and Saudi Arabia are pushing back against Islamist supporting Turkey and Qatar that’s pushing the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the world.

According to a report by the Middle East Media Research Institute, the former Jordanian Minister of Information, Saleh Al-Qallab, was quoted as saying earlier this month on Al-Arabiya that “Erdoğan is currently the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

“The Muslim Brotherhood is an actual terrorist organization,” says Al-Qallab. “What is he [Erdoğan] doing in Arab countries? Is he an Ottoman?”

According to Harold Rhode, a longtime former adviser on Islamic affairs within the U.S. Defense Department’s Office of Net Assessment, and who worked for a time as the Turkish desk officer in the Pentagon, many “young Turks say they hate Islam—they see themselves as Deists but not Muslims.”

“Nevertheless, Turkish culture is so deeply rooted in Islam. And in Islam, Muslims are regarded as brothers, and that is why when it comes to the Palestinians, most of these youth support the Palestinians anyway.

“Why is that?” continues Rhode. “Because these Turkish Deists, regardless of their ideological or political affiliation, apparently do not realize that their opinions about the Muslims are still informed by Islam, which they claim to have abandoned.”

Saudis and Turks battle for Jerusalem

Turkey is spending millions of dollars a year to gain influence on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in coordination with the branch of the Muslim Brotherhood known as the Islamic Movement in Israel.

According to an article by Nadav Shragai in the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, “Turkey is working diligently to deepen its involvement and influence on the Temple Mount, in the Old City of Jerusalem and in east Jerusalem neighborhoods.”

Rhode says Turkey is getting the millions of dollars from Qatar—the major funder of the Muslim Brotherhood—to invest in Muslim Brotherhood-linked organizations throughout the Muslim world, and in this case, to gain influence among Israeli Arabs in Jerusalem.

“Turkey is carrying out actions in cahoots with Qatar,” he says. “This also explains Turkey’s great interest in Gaza, where Qatar is a major backer of the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot Hamas.”

According to a report in the Israel Hayom newspaper, Israel and Saudi Arabia are in secret talks with the United States since last December about giving the Saudis a stake with Jordan in the Islamic Waqf Council at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The report said that the Jordanians initially rejected diluting its power over the Waqf Council, but later changed its position to counter Turkish interference.

A separate article published in Al Jazeera in May 2019 also spoke about this ongoing feud over Jerusalem and sated that the rising popularity of Turkey among Palestinians “was worrying Saudi Arabia.”

Rhode says that the Saudis, as Wahhabi Muslims, follow the teachings of their intellectual godfather Ibn Taymiyyah (1263-1328), a Muslim theorist who hated Jews along with most other non-Sunni Muslims.

“Ibn Taymiyyah also proved, using early Islamic sources, that the attempt to make Jerusalem holy in Islam was nothing more than a Jewish plot to Judaify Islam,” explains Rhode, adding that Ibn Taymiyyah stated that the only holy cities in Islam were Mecca and Medina, and not Jerusalem.

So for the Saudis, Jerusalem is not holy, but it is important only because of the battle with the Muslim Brotherhood leaders of Turkey for the soul of Sunni Islam.

Therefore, adds Rhode, “the Saudis cannot disavow Jerusalem because it has become a political issue and it now sees Islamist Turkey as a threat there. And the Jordanians are terrified by the Turks.”

“In the grand scheme of things, it is the impoverished Jordanians who cannot stand up alone against the Turks by themselves because they don’t have the financial resources,” and that is why “the Jordanians asked the wealthy Saudis to join them in stopping the Turks from taking over control of the Muslim Waqf on the Temple Mount.”

The Saudis and the Jordanians are united in their battle against the Turks, Qataris and the Muslim Brotherhood, which are all trying to take over the Temple Mount.

‘It would not serve a good purpose for Israel’

Asked what Israel’s policy should be on this issue, Rhode suggested that “Israel stay out of this Muslim battle and not publicly take sides, meaning, do what Israel did in Syria: Take no side in the Syrian civil war, but only intervene when Israeli interests are at stake.”

Because if Israel says anything in favor of the Saudis and Jordanians, the Turks, Qataris and other Muslim Brotherhood activists “would accuse the Saudis and Jordanians of being Zionist stooges.”

Wurmser asserts that letting the Saudis, Jordanians, Turks and Qataris to battle it out is not a bad idea in principle, though it depends on how it would be played out in reality. “If the battle is perceived by the Saudis and Turks as a battle over the ruins of Israel, and that it would accelerate its marginalization and eventual surrender, then it would not serve a good purpose for Israel,” he says.

However, adds Wurmser, “if Israel would take a strong role as judge in the dispute by being the power broker, then this would put Israel in a position of power.”

The former U.S. official says this is also how the United States needs to approach its role in the Middle East so as not to be marginalized and lose its influence.

Therefore, he notes, Israel needs to take a strong position and not surrender Jerusalem to the Muslims. He suggests that when Israel is invested in a side publicly, “then that side can hold it hostage such as what Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas does.”

Abbas frequently threatens to cut ties with Israel and stop security cooperation even though he never follows through, says Wurmser, yet “it makes Israel appear weak and without leverage in the situation.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10674

Turkey in military action on three Mid-East fronts, now adds Yemen

 Jun 17, 2020 @ 13:09 ErdoganLbyaMuslim BrotherhoodQatarRussiaSyriaYemen

Turkey is boosting its military intervention in Mid-East conflicts to gain a hand in determining – and cashing in on – their outcome. Facing rising opposition at home, Turkey’s President Tayyip Edrogan is in the thick of foreign, influence-expanding adventures. Braced against Russia in Libya and Syria, he is now challenging the Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen with Qatari funding.

For his Yemen bid to break up the coalition fighting the Houthi insurgency, Ankara is using a Yemen government defector, former transport minister Saleh al-Jabwani and his ally, the Muslim Brotherhood. Following the Turkish script, they are planning to conquer the embattled oil-rich southeastern province of Shawba, where the Brotherhood was roundly defeated. The recruitment center Jabwani set up in Ataq, the Shabwa capital, has till now attracted 600 fighters by the promise of a wage and smuggled weapons paid for by Qatar. They hope to peel off defectors from the coalition in other provinces too.

In Libya, the stakes are high – Erdogan is after two permanent south Mediterranean bases. There, he has directly deployed his own army, air force and navy (submarines, too, as of this week) along with Syrian mercenaries, to back the UN-recognized government (GNA) in Tripoli against its rival Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army. The Turkish intervention, which is gaining ground, has placed Erdogan at odds with Russia’s Vladimir Putin who backs Haftar. Ankara is now in negotiation for the use of the Misurata naval base and the al-Waitya air base, which the GNA recently recaptured with Turkish military help.

Erdogan has already done pretty well out of his Libyan adventure. In November, he signed with the Tripoli government a maritime accord which ignored the territorial waters of Cyprus, Greece and Egypt and cuts through their economic zones and energy exploration sites. Turkey has also penciled in possible energy and construction deals with Tripoli once the fighting ends.

Concerns in Athens over the maritime accord and Ankara’s drive for a North African military presence were most likely raised in the talks Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis held with his Israeli counterpart Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meanwhile called off a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu that was scheduled for Sunday. He said he would reschedule the meeting on condition that Turkey and the GNA halt military operations, and particularly refrain from attacking Sirte, Jufra and the oil crescent. This demand was initially rebuffed by Ankara.

Failing a Moscow-Ankara understanding, the Libyan war could see further escalation. In Syria too, they are fighting on opposing sides. Turkey has poured troops and weapons into the northern province of Idlib to halt the Syrian regime’s advance against jihadist rebels, while at the same time, conducting joint patrols with the Russians, which back the regime, on the M4 highway in the same province.

A permanent air and naval presence in Libya along with its military base in Qatar and strong leverage in Syria would substantially boost Turkey’s influence in the region to a level that seriously worries its neighbors and adversaries.

Erdogan was not too busy with his foreign escapades to hit back over an impressive Kurdish protest march launched this week at home against his repressive government. On Monday night, the Turkish air force went into action to strike Kurdish PKK strongholds in the mountains of Kurdistan in northern Iraq. The next day, Turkey’s pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) led a two-track march from two ends of the country: Edirne in the northwest and Hakkari in the southeast. If they can overcome rubber bullets and mass detentions, the protesters plan to converge in Ankara on June 20. Istanbul’s governor has banned all demonstrations and protests for a two-week period on the pretext of the fight against coronavirus.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10655