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For The Record  

FTR #739 Turkish Taffy, Part 3

Gamaa al Islamiya: Check out the “Mod­er­ate” in the mid­dle

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Intro­duc­tion: This broad­cast con­cludes a long series of pro­grams, enfold­ing cov­er­age of the Wik­iLeaks phe­nom­e­non with the coups and upris­ings in the Mid­dle East. (This com­pli­cat­ed, deep analy­sis is syn­op­sized in FTR #737.) Assess­ing Egypt, Libya and oth­er coun­tries affect­ed by the “youthquake” in the Mid­dle East, the broad­cast ana­lyzes the alleged “mod­er­a­tion” of the Islamist forces loom­ing on the polit­i­cal hori­zon.

After review­ing the Al-Qae­da links of the Libyan fight­ers enjoy­ing NATO  sup­port, the pro­gram high­lights the grow­ing pres­ence of Muslm Broth­er­hood ter­ror­ist out­crop­pings on the Egypt­ian polit­i­cal scene.

Wael Ghon­im: Is he an Islamist?

Broth­er­hood off­shoot Gamaa al Islamiya has been par­tic­u­lar­ly vis­i­ble in the wake of the Pig­gy-Back Coup, fea­tur­ing con­vict­ed assas­sins of Anwar Sadat recy­cled as “democ­rats.”

Oth­er ter­ror­ist ele­ments who may ben­e­fit from the tur­moil include al-Qae­da-linked ele­ments in Yemen and Hezbol­lah.

A sig­nif­i­cant fea­ture of the pro­gram con­cerns devel­op­ments in Turkey. Billed as “mod­er­ates” and seen as a role mod­el for emerg­ing Islamist move­ments in the Mid­dle East, the regime of Mr. Erdo­gan has seen the rise of the Gulen forces–again billed as “mod­er­ates.” Being inves­ti­gat­ed by the FBI for activ­i­ties, the Gulen ele­ments have appar­ent­ly forged links inside of the Turk­ish secret police.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: The opin­ion that Egypt­ian Islamists want a sec­u­lar gov­ern­ment that will fail, ush­er­ing them into pow­er in the wake of pop­u­lar dis­il­lu­sion­ment; Egypt­ian upris­ing fig­ure Wael Ghon­im’s found­ing of an appar­ent­ly Islamist web­site; Turk­ish secu­ri­ty forces’ destruc­tion of a book reveal­ing Gulen pen­e­tra­tion of that coun­try’s police and intel­li­gence estab­lish­ments; a Wik­iLeaks “dis­clo­sure” about Mossad links with Bahrain and oth­er Mid­dle East­ern coun­tries expe­ri­enc­ing upheaval–a fact that may well polar­ize the pop­u­la­tions of those coun­tries and lead to war with Israel.

1. Turn­ing to the sub­ject of the Libyan con­flict, the pro­gram reviews the fact that NATO fight­ers are help­ing forces aligned with al-Qae­da.

In an inter­view with the Ital­ian news­pa­per Il Sole 24 Ore, Mr al-Hasi­di admit­ted that he had recruit­ed “around 25” men from the Der­na area in east­ern Libya to fight against coali­tion troops in Iraq. Some of them, he said, are “today are on the front lines in Adjabiya”.

Mr al-Hasi­di insist­ed his fight­ers “are patri­ots and good Mus­lims, not ter­ror­ists,” but added that the “mem­bers of al-Qae­da are also good Mus­lims and are fight­ing against the invad­er”.

His rev­e­la­tions came even as Idriss Deby Itno, Chad’s pres­i­dent, said al-Qae­da had man­aged to pil­lage mil­i­tary arse­nals in the Libyan rebel zone and acquired arms, “includ­ing sur­face-to-air mis­siles, which were then smug­gled into their sanc­tu­ar­ies”.

Mr al-Hasi­di admit­ted he had ear­li­er fought against “the for­eign inva­sion” in Afghanistan, before being “cap­tured in 2002 in Pesh­war, in Pak­istan”. He was lat­er hand­ed over to the US, and then held in Libya before being released in 2008. . . .

“Libyan Rebel Com­man­der Admits His Fight­ers Have al-Qae­da Links” by Praveen Swa­mi, Nick Squires and Dun­can Gard­ham; The Tele­graph [UK]; 3/25/2011.

2. More on the Libyan fighter/al Qae­da link:

Amer­i­ca is now at war to pro­tect a Libyan province that’s been an epi­cen­ter of anti-Amer­i­can jihad.

In recent years, at mosques through­out east­ern Libya, rad­i­cal imams have been “urg­ing wor­ship­pers to sup­port jihad in Iraq and else­where,” accord­ing to Wik­iLeaked cables. More trou­bling: The city of Der­na, east of Beng­hazi, was a “well­spring” of sui­cide bombers that tar­get­ed U.S. troops in Iraq.

By impos­ing a no-fly zone over East­ern Libya, the U.S. and its coali­tion part­ners have effec­tive­ly embraced the break­away repub­lic of Cyre­naica. As you can see on the map above, Libya is a mashup of three his­tor­i­cal­ly dis­tinct provinces. As recent­ly as the 1940s, Cyre­naica was an inde­pen­dent emi­rate, with its cap­i­tal in Beng­hazi.

The emni­ty between Cyre­naica and Tripoli­ta­nia runs deep. The Emir of Cyre­naica awk­ward­ly cob­bled togeth­er mod­ern Libya and ruled as its monarch. This is the same king that Qaddafi deposed in his coup of 1969. And the Qaddafi regime has seen the for­mer king’s home­land as a threat ever since, as this Wik­ileaked cable from our Tripoli embassy explains:

East­ern Libya had suf­fered ... from a lack of invest­ment and gov­ern­ment resources, part of a cam­paign by the al-Qad­hafi regime to keep the area poor and, the­o­ret­i­cal­ly, less like­ly to devel­op as a viable alter­na­tive locus of pow­er to Tripoli.

Anoth­er cable reports that the dis­re­spect is mutu­al:

Res­i­dents of east­ern Libya ... view the al-Qad­hafa clan [Qaddafi’s tribe] as une­d­u­cat­ed, uncouth inter­lop­ers from an incon­se­quen­tial part of the coun­try who have “stolen” the right to rule in Libya.

That’s the back­ground. Flash for­ward to 2008: A West Point analy­sis of a cache of al Qae­da records dis­cov­ered that near­ly 20 per­cent of for­eign fight­ers in Iraq were Libyans, and that on a per-capi­ta basis Libya near­ly dou­bled Sau­di Ara­bia as the top source of for­eign fight­ers.

The word “fight­er” here is mis­lead­ing. For the most part, Libyans did­n’t go to Iraq to fight; they went to blow them­selves up — along with Amer­i­can G.I.‘s. (Among those whose “work” was detailed in the al Qae­da records, 85 per­cent of the Libyans were list­ed as sui­cide bombers.) Over­whelm­ing­ly, these mil­i­tants came “from cities in North-East Libya, an area long known for Jihadi-linked mil­i­tan­cy.” [UPDATE: West Point’s Com­bat­ting Ter­ror­ism Cen­ter refused to com­ment on its own report.]

A Wik­iLeaked cable from 2008 explained that Cyre­naicans were wag­ing jihad against U.S. troops as “a last act of defi­ance against the Qad­hafi regime.” After the U.S. nor­mal­ized rela­tions with Qaddaf­fi in 2006, Cyre­na­cians believed they no longer had any shot at top­pling him:

Many east­ern­ers feared the U.S. would not allow Qad­hafi’s regime to fall and there­fore viewed direct con­fronta­tion with the GOL [Gov­ern­ment of Libya] in the near-term as a fool’s errand.... Fight­ing against U.S. and coali­tion forces in Iraq rep­re­sent­ed a way for frus­trat­ed young rad­i­cals to strike a blow against both Qad­hafi and against his per­ceived Amer­i­can back­ers.

The epi­cen­ter of Libyan jihadism is the city of Der­na — the home­town of more than half of Libya’s for­eign fight­ers, accord­ing the West Point analy­sis. The city of 80,000 has a his­to­ry of vio­lent resis­tance to occu­py­ing pow­ers — includ­ing Amer­i­cans, who cap­tured the city in the First Bar­bary War.

A sur­pris­ing­ly read­able cable titled “Die Hard in Der­na” makes clear that the city “takes great pride” in hav­ing sent so many of its sons to kill Amer­i­can sol­diers in Iraq, quot­ing one res­i­dent as say­ing: “It’s jihad — it’s our duty, and you’re talk­ing about peo­ple who don’t have much else to be proud of.”

“U.S. Bombs Libya, Helps . . . Jihadists?!”; Rolling Stone; 3/21/2011.

3. In Yemen, the pass­ing of the old order may weak­en U.S. counter-ter­ror­ism capa­bil­i­ties.

Coun­tert­er­ror­ism oper­a­tions in Yemen have ground to a halt, allow­ing al-Qaida’s dead­liest branch out­side of Pak­istan to oper­ate more freely inside the coun­try and to increase plot­ting for pos­si­ble attacks against Europe and the Unit­ed States, U.S. diplo­mats, intel­li­gence ana­lysts and coun­tert­er­ror­ism offi­cials say.

In the polit­i­cal tumult sur­round­ing Yemen’s embat­tled pres­i­dent, Ali Abdul­lah Saleh, many Yemeni troops have aban­doned their posts or have been sum­moned to the cap­i­tal, Sanaa, to help sup­port the tot­ter­ing gov­ern­ment, the offi­cials said. Al-Qai­da in the Ara­bi­an Penin­su­la, the group’s affil­i­ate, has stepped in to fill this pow­er vac­u­um, and Yemeni secu­ri­ty forces have come under increased attacks in recent weeks. . . .

“Unrest in Yemen Is Seen as an Open­ing to a Branch of al-Qai­da” by Eric Schmitt [New York Times]; San Jose Mer­cury News; 4/4/2011.

4. The media dar­ling of the Egypt­ian uprising–Google mar­ket­ing exec­u­tive Wael Ghonim–set up what appears to be an Islamist web­site (albeit a rel­a­tive­ly “mod­ern” one). A grad­u­ate of Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty in Cairo (at which Mus­lim Broth­er­hood-linked ele­ments embrace the eco­nom­ic the­o­ries of Ibn Khal­dun), Ghon­im is alleged to have devel­oped one of the most pop­u­lar web­sites in the Arab World.

Is Ghon­im an Islamist? Is he Mus­lim Broth­er­hood?

We may be fair­ly con­fi­dent that the dri­ving ele­ments behind what we have termed “the Pig­gy-Back Coup” will doubt­less assure us of the “mod­er­ate” nature of the site and its con­tents. An Eng­lish ver­sion of the web­site (per­haps edit­ed for West­ern con­sump­tion) is avail­able here.

. . . 1998–2002 – Helped in the launch of one of the most vis­it­ed web­sites in the Arab world (http://www.islamway.com) . . .

“Wael Ghon­im”; Wikipedia.org.

5. The forces of Gam­ma al Islamiya–a Mus­lim Broth­er­hood off­shoot that assas­si­nat­ed Anwar Sadat and exe­cut­ed the Lux­or mas­sacre of 1997–is join­ing the “mod­er­a­tion” dance in Egypt. (Gam­ma al Islamiya is also tied to Sheikh Rah­man, con­vict­ed in con­nec­tion with the first World Trade Cen­ter attack.)

Nageh Ibrahim once spoke of slay­ing infi­dels and cre­at­ing an Islam­ic state that would stretch from the Nile Delta to the vast deserts of Egyp­t’s south. Today he lives in a high-rise with a view of the Mediter­ranean Sea and has the sooth­ing voice of a man who could lead a 12-step pro­gram on reject­ing rad­i­cal­ism.

Ibrahim’s group, Gamaa al Islamiya, plot­ted noto­ri­ous attacks, includ­ing the 1981 assas­si­na­tion of Pres­i­dent Anwar Sadat and the mas­sacre at an ancient Lux­or tem­ple that killed 62 peo­ple, most­ly tourists, in 1997. He spent 24 years in jail read­ing the Koran and tem­per­ing the rage of his youth.

“We were young and we took extreme mea­sures. But now we’re old men and our time in prison has made us wis­er,” he said. “Al Qae­da and Islam­ic mil­i­tan­cy have lost their glam­our. Look at what has hap­pened. The young saw that vio­lence did­n’t bring change to Egypt, a peace­ful rev­o­lu­tion did.”

Ibrahim is one of an increas­ing num­ber of ultra­con­ser­v­a­tive and mod­er­ate Islamists seek­ing a polit­i­cal voice in a new Egypt. Since the down­fall in Feb­ru­ary of Pres­i­dent Hos­ni Mubarak, who for three decades kept reli­gion far from the cen­ter of pow­er, the Islamist mes­sage is unshack­led. The Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, the largest oppo­si­tion par­ty, expects a strong show­ing in Sep­tem­ber’s par­lia­men­tary elec­tions.

The sec­u­lar reform­ers and twen­tysome­thing urban­ites at the van­guard of the Jan. 25 rev­o­lu­tion have found them­selves eclipsed. They lack expe­ri­ence and grass-roots net­works to com­pete with the Broth­er­hood and oth­er reli­gious groups that have qui­et­ly stoked their pas­sions for this moment. In a sense, Mubarak’s obses­sion with both co-opt­ing and crush­ing Islamists instilled in them the dis­ci­pline and orga­ni­za­tion that now pro­pels their polit­i­cal agen­das. . . .

“Islamists in Egypt Seek Change through Pol­i­tics” by Jef­frey Fleish­man; Los Ange­les Times; 4/2/2011.

6. An arti­cle from the Asia Times high­lights an inter­est­ing possibility–that Mus­lim Broth­er­hood in
Egypt (and else­where?) wants a sec­u­lar gov­ern­ment in place to fail, and thus pre­pare the way for an Islamist gov­ern­ment.

There are already signs that women, Cop­tic Chris­tians and oth­er, pre­vi­ous­ly oppressed/marginalized seg­ments of Egypt­ian soci­ety are on the receiv­ing end of vio­lent repres­sion.

In an iron­ic twist, the ref­er­en­dum and the dec­la­ra­tion pit­ted the old ene­mies — the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood (MB) and Mubarak’s Nation­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty (NDP) — against the lib­er­al youth move­ment.

The lib­er­als were par­tic­u­lar­ly dis­ap­point­ed by the ICD, point­ing out that the dec­la­ra­tion includes 80% of the old con­sti­tu­tion, includ­ing ”an out­dat­ed social­ist quo­ta” stip­u­lat­ing that half of the seats in the par­lia­ment are reserved for work­ers and farm­ers. A lot of ambi­gu­i­ty remained con­cern­ing when and by whom a more per­ma­nent con­sti­tu­tion would be draft­ed, and what that would look like. ”Any mod­i­fi­ca­tion or amend­ment of the cur­rent con­sti­tu­tion will not achieve the aspi­ra­tions of the peo­ple” said Ayman Nour, one of the lead­ers of the youth move­ment and for­mer pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, in a recent inter­view with Asharq Al-Awsat.

At this point, the ICD was not a major sur­prise: the dec­la­ra­tion fol­lowed, with some addi­tions, the amend­ments con­sid­ered at the ref­er­en­dum. Ten­sion has been brew­ing for some time now, and anoth­er leader of the lib­er­als, Mohamed ElBa­radei, was phys­i­cal­ly attacked by Islamists dur­ing the vot­ing. The ”25 Jan­u­ary Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Youth Coali­tion,” includ­ing ElBa­radei and Nour, large­ly vot­ed ”No” in the polls, over con­cerns that the changes were insuf­fi­cient and would not allow enough time for the oppo­si­tion to orga­nize for the elec­tions.

The amend­ments, which opened the way for par­lia­men­tary and pres­i­den­tial elec­tions this sum­mer, ben­e­fit­ed unfair­ly already estab­lished par­ties such as the NDP and the MB, the lib­er­als claimed. The ”25 Jan­u­ary,” on the oth­er hand, con­sid­ers itself a move­ment, and lacks grass­roots par­ty struc­tures that are of vital impor­tance in elec­tions. It has threat­ened to orga­nize a new ”mil­lion-man protest” on Fri­day, April 8, if broad demands, includ­ing tougher mea­sures against for­mer Mubarak regime offi­cials, are not met.

Pre­vi­ous­ly, I pro­ject­ed that the army and the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood may prop up a sec­u­lar demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ment with hopes of using it as a scape­goat when the econ­o­my takes a turn to the worse, the polit­i­cal reforms stag­nate, and dis­il­lu­sion­ment sets in. [1] Despite the spike in ten­sions, this is still a pos­si­bil­i­ty, and it is impor­tant to note that the three main pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates so far, Amr Mous­sa, Mohamed ElBa­radei and Ayman Nour, are rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the lib­er­al oppo­si­tion. [Ital­ics are mine–D.E] . . .

. . .
A gov­ern­ment with­out a real pow­er base is a dis­as­ter for democ­ra­cy at a min­i­mum, and most like­ly for the gen­er­al well-being of soci­ety as well. The alter­na­tives are not very good — or clear — either. Mean­while, sec­tar­i­an vio­lence is soar­ing. Thir­teen peo­ple were killed in clash­es between Mus­lims and Cop­tic Chris­tians in Cairo on March 9, an inci­dent that came on the heels of sev­er­al dead­ly attacks against Copts (who make up at least 10% of Egyp­t’s pop­u­la­tion) in the last months. More recent­ly, on Sun­day a group of ter­ror­ists attacked the Egypt-Israel nat­ur­al gas pipeline for the sec­ond time in two months; the bomb they plant­ed failed to explode.

Oth­er wor­ri­some inter­nal devel­op­ments include reports that women pro­test­ers were sub­ject­ed to tor­ture and humil­i­a­tion by the army last month, includ­ing pseu­do-sci­en­tif­ic forced vir­gin­i­ty tests. . .

“Egypt Moved by Deep Waters” by Vic­tor Kot­sev; Asian Times; 4/2/2011.

7.  Among the new­ly-mint­ed “mod­er­ates” defin­ing the Egypt­ian polit­i­cal land­scape is one of Sadat’s assas­sins!

Abboud al-Zomor — the for­mer intel­li­gence offi­cer who sup­plied the bul­lets that killed Pres­i­dent Anwar el-Sadat and is Egyp­t’s most noto­ri­ous new­ly released pris­on­er — wax­es enthu­si­as­tic about end­ing the vio­lent jihad he once led.

”The bal­lot box­es will decide who will win at the end of the day,” Mr. Zomor said dur­ing an inter­view in his large fam­i­ly com­pound in this ham­let on Cairo’s west­ern edge. ”There is no longer any need for me to use vio­lence against those who gave us our free­dom and allowed us to be part of polit­i­cal life.”

In its dri­ve to cre­ate a per­fect Islam­ic state, his Islam­ic Group and oth­er groups like it were once syn­ony­mous with some of the blood­i­est ter­ror­ist attacks in Egypt. But they are now leap­ing aboard the democ­ra­cy band­wag­on, alarm­ing those who believe that reli­gious rad­i­cals are seek­ing to put in place strict Islam­ic law through bal­lots.

The pub­lic approval of the con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ments on March 19 pro­vid­ed an ear­ly exam­ple of Islamist polit­i­cal mus­cle, the vic­to­ry achieved in no small part by fram­ing the yes vote as a reli­gious duty. But per­haps the most sur­pris­ing aspect of the Islamist cam­paign was the ener­gy invest­ed by reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions that once damned the demo­c­ra­t­ic process as a West­ern, infi­del inno­va­tion mas­ter­mind­ed to under­mine God’s laws.

Mr. Zomor, 64, with his bushy gray beard and near­ly 30 years in prison, has emerged as a high-pro­file spokesman for that sea change since he was released on March 12.

He and oth­er Salafis, or Islam­ic fun­da­men­tal­ists, rhap­sodize about found­ing polit­i­cal par­ties and forg­ing alliances with the more main­stream Mus­lim Broth­er­hood to max­i­mize the reli­gious vote.

Sev­er­al rea­sons lie behind this remark­able turn­about, accord­ing to senior reli­gious sheiks, junior mem­bers and experts.

Fore­most is the desire to pro­tect, if not strength­en, the sec­ond amend­ment of Egyp­t’s Con­sti­tu­tion, which enshrines Shari­ah, or Islam­ic law, as the main source of Egypt­ian law. The par­lia­ment to be elect­ed in Sep­tem­ber will guide the draft­ing of a new con­sti­tu­tion.

”If the con­sti­tu­tion is a lib­er­al one this will be cat­a­stroph­ic,” said Sheik Abdel Mon­eim el-Sha­hat, scoff­ing at new demands for minor­i­ty rights dur­ing a night class he teach­es at a recent­ly reopened Salafi mosque in Alexan­dria. ”I think next they will tell us that Chris­tians must lead Mus­lims in the prayers!”

Sec­ond, the Salafis arrived late to the rev­o­lu­tion, with many cler­ics emphat­i­cal­ly sup­port­ing Pres­i­dent Hos­ni Mubarak and con­demn­ing the pro­test­ers.

Young Salafis rebelled — extreme­ly rare for a group that reveres tra­di­tion and hier­ar­chy.

”The major­i­ty of the Salafi youth were the peo­ple who actu­al­ly said, ‘No, this is impos­si­ble, we have to be part of this, it is a just cause,’ ” said Sherif Abdel Nas­er, a 24-year-old Egypt­ian-Amer­i­can who now attends polit­i­cal class­es three nights a week at Sheik Sha­hat’s cramped mosque.

The Salafi move­ment is inspired by the puri­tan Wah­habi school of Islam that dom­i­nates Sau­di Ara­bia, whose grand mufti churned out a fat­wa con­demn­ing the Arab upris­ings as a West­ern con­spir­a­cy to destroy the Islam­ic world. But an array of philoso­phies exists under the Salafi umbrel­la, rang­ing from apo­lit­i­cal groups that mere­ly pros­e­ly­tize on the ben­e­fits of being a good Mus­lim to Osama bin Laden’s Al Qae­da. Ayman al-Zawahri, Al Qaeda’s No. 2, is an Egypt­ian Salafist.

Some Egyp­tians are con­vinced that the gov­ern­ment released the likes of Mr. Zomor as a kind of bogey­man — to fright­en the coun­try about the pos­si­ble down­side of democ­ra­cy. Mr. Zomor said Salafist vio­lence was only a reac­tion to the repres­sion of the Mubarak gov­ern­ment, but he shocked many Egyp­tians by advo­cat­ing pun­ish­ments like ampu­tat­ing thieves’ hands.

In an exam­ple of fun­da­men­tal­ists now emerg­ing into pub­lic light, the sons of Omar Abdel Rah­man, the blind sheik who is serv­ing a life sen­tence in the Unit­ed States, con­vict­ed in a con­spir­a­cy to bomb the World Trade Cen­ter in 1993, recent­ly addressed a con­fer­ence at a five-star Cairo hotel, demand­ing that the Unit­ed States release their ail­ing father. . . .

“Rad­i­cals’ Turn to Democ­ra­cy Alarms Egypt” by Neil Mac­Far­quhar; The New York Times; 4/2/2011.

8. Some observers feel that the events in the Mid­dle East will ben­e­fit Hezbol­lah.

As the surge of rev­o­lu­tion­ary fer­vor that has tak­en the greater Mid­dle East by storm con­tin­ues to spread, many observers are grap­pling with the polit­i­cal uncer­tain­ties the tumult has pro­duced from Moroc­co to the Per­sian Gulf and beyond.

The pop­u­lar upris­ings that prompt­ed the ouster of the dic­ta­tor­ships in Tunisia and Egypt and threat­en the panoply of author­i­tar­i­an despots cling­ing to pow­er in oth­er coun­tries have already had a pro­found effect on region­al pol­i­tics. Despite their high­ly flu­id nature, it is not too ear­ly to assess the impact of these events on the posi­tion of promi­nent actors such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah.The move­men­t’s place amid the unfold­ing unrest bears spe­cial rel­e­vance, con­sid­er­ing the open hos­til­i­ty that has char­ac­ter­ized its rela­tions with the recent­ly top­pled Hos­ni Mubarak regime and oth­er gov­ern­ments threat­ened by the wave of protest. The pop­u­lar­i­ty Hezbol­lah enjoys among a large seg­ment of the very same peo­ple who have tak­en to the streets to demand polit­i­cal free­doms, rule of law, rep­re­sen­ta­tive gov­ern­ment and eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ties adds anoth­er dynam­ic worth clos­er exam­i­na­tion.

Hav­ing weath­ered the mas­sive Israeli assault dur­ing the July 2006 war and deft­ly out­ma­neu­ver­ing attempts by polit­i­cal oppo­nents to under­mine its posi­tion and blame it for the Feb­ru­ary 2005 assas­si­na­tion of Lebanese prime min­is­ter Rafik Hariri, Hezbol­lah’s stock as a polit­i­cal par­ty, social move­ment and para­mil­i­tary force in Lebanese and region­al affairs con­tin­ues to rise.

In char­ac­ter­is­tic fash­ion, Hezbol­lah has not been coy about artic­u­lat­ing its posi­tions on the upris­ings that have shak­en the foun­da­tions of pow­er in the Mid­dle East in var­i­ous media out­lets, par­tic­u­lar­ly its own Beirut-based al-Man­ar satel­lite tele­vi­sion net­work. [1]

Ini­tial­ly, how­ev­er, Hezbol­lah adopt­ed a cau­tious approach to the oppo­si­tion activism that engulfed Tunisia and Egypt. Hezbol­lah was con­cerned that a show of sup­port for the protests ear­ly on would tar­nish their legit­i­ma­cy and lend cre­dence to alle­ga­tions repeat­ed by the embat­tled regimes that the pro­test­ers were act­ing at the behest of hos­tile for­eign ele­ments aim­ing to desta­bi­lize the region.

Hezbol­lah essen­tial­ly opt­ed to refrain from issu­ing an endorse­ment of the protests until the pop­u­lar grass­roots char­ac­ter of the rebel­lions entered into the dis­course of glob­al media cov­er­age and analy­sis. Hezbol­lah’s sec­re­tary gen­er­al Has­san Nas­ral­lah encap­su­lat­ed this point in a state­ment broad­cast dur­ing a Feb­ru­ary 7 event in Beirut orga­nized to sup­port the oppo­si­tion in Egypt: “In case we announced sol­i­dar­i­ty ear­li­er, they would have said that the rev­o­lu­tion was moti­vat­ed by Hezbol­lah or Hamas cells or even by the Iran­ian Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards. Then, this real, orig­i­nal and patri­ot­ic move­ment would be accused of serv­ing a for­eign agen­da”.

Hezbol­lah has since expressed sol­i­dar­i­ty with what it sees as the asser­tion of the true will of the Arab and Mus­lim mass­es who strive for social, polit­i­cal, and eco­nom­ic jus­tice in the face of ille­git­i­mate and cor­rupt autoc­ra­cies that it claims are behold­en to the Unit­ed States and Israel. . . .

“Arab Revolts Hand It to Hezbol­lah” by Chris Zam­belis; Asia Times; 4/5/2011.

9. A mea­sure of the mod­er­a­tion of the Turk­ish AK Par­ty of Mr. Erdo­gan may be found in the Gulen schools.

The FBI and oth­er U.S. fed­er­al agen­cies have been inves­ti­gat­ing whether a Turk­ish reli­gious com­mu­ni­ty oper­at­ing hun­dreds of schools world­wide is involved in visa fraud to bring teach­ers from Turkey to the Unit­ed States.

The claim was made in a broad analy­sis by the Philadel­phia Enquir­er on reli­gious leader Fethul­lah Gülen, who the paper describes as “a major Islam­ic polit­i­cal fig­ure in Turkey,” and the more than 120 char­ter schools in the Unit­ed States that are linked to his move­ment.

“Reli­gious schol­ars con­sid­er the Gülen strain of Islam mod­er­ate, and the inves­ti­ga­tion has no link to ter­ror­ism. Rather, it [the inves­ti­ga­tion] is focused on whether hun­dreds of Turk­ish teach­ers, admin­is­tra­tors and oth­er staffers employed under the ‘H1B visa pro­gram’ are mis­us­ing tax­pay­er mon­ey,” the news­pa­per wrote. H1B visas are meant to be reserved for work­ers with high­ly spe­cial­ized skill sets.

The char­ter schools are fund­ed with mil­lions of tax­pay­er dol­lars, accord­ing to the dai­ly. “True­bright [Sci­ence Acad­e­my in Penn­syl­va­nia] alone receives more than $3 mil­lion from the Philadel­phia School Dis­trict for its 348 pupils,” said the news­pa­per.

The Depart­ments of Labor and Edu­ca­tion are also involved in inves­ti­gat­ing the claims of kick­backs to the Mus­lim move­ment found­ed by Gülen, known as “Hizmet” (Ser­vice), accord­ing to the paper.

Gülen, who has been liv­ing in the Unit­ed States since 1999, is a Turk­ish reli­gious leader whose move­ment is con­sid­ered one of the strongest fronts in the civil­ian strug­gle for pow­er in Turkey, espe­cial­ly because of its influ­ence over state struc­tures in the coun­try.

World­wide, the Gülen move­ment is known most­ly for the schools it has estab­lished in Turkey and in more than 80 coun­tries.

Fed­er­al offi­cials declined to com­ment on the nation­wide inquiry, which is being coor­di­nat­ed by pros­e­cu­tors in Pennsylvania’s Mid­dle Dis­trict in Scran­ton, the Philadel­phia Enquir­er wrote. A for­mer leader of the par­ents’ group at a Gülen-found­ed char­ter school in State Col­lege, Penn­syl­va­nia, con­firmed that fed­er­al author­i­ties had inter­viewed her.

Although many have posit­ed links between the Gülen move­ment and the char­i­ty schools around the world, fol­low­ers deny the links.

The news­pa­per wrote that Bekir Aksoy, who acts as Gülen’s spokesman, said last Fri­day that he knew noth­ing about char­ter schools or an inves­ti­ga­tion. . . .

“FBI Inves­ti­gat­ing Gulen Schools in US”; Hur­riyet Dai­ly News; 3/21/2011.

10. A Turk­ish jour­nal­ist was arrest­ed for expos­ing the extent of the Gulen orga­ni­za­tion’s pen­e­tra­tion of the Turk­ish police. Of par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance, here, is the fact that Ahmet Sik, whose book was erased by the Turk­ish police, had opposed the Ergenekon plot–an alleged plot by Turk­ish mil­i­tary and secu­ri­ty forces to stage a coup against the Islamist forces of Erdo­gan. (Some observers have sug­gest­ed that Ergenekon was actu­al­ly cooked up by the Erdo­gan forces to dis­cred­it the heirs to Turk­ish sec­u­lar­ism and Kamal Attaturk.

Istan­bul police raid­ed a print­ing house Wednes­day evening in search of com­put­er files con­tain­ing an unpub­lished book by an arrest­ed sus­pect in the Ergenekon coup-plot case and erased the dig­i­tal draft.

The print­ing house, İthaki, was the pub­lish­er that owned the rights to “İmamın Ordusu” (The Army of the Imam), an unpub­lished book by jour­nal­ist Ahmet Şık, who was arrest­ed two weeks ago. The book was found in dig­i­tal form on a com­put­er at the office of the dis­si­dent online news por­tal OdaTV; Şık has stat­ed he did not know how it got there, call­ing the staff of the web­site peo­ple he would not stand togeth­er with in any case.

Şık’s arrest has been crit­i­cized in legal cir­cles since the evi­dence against him was not revealed to his lawyers.

His unpub­lished book deals with the alleged orga­ni­za­tion found­ed with­in the Turk­ish police by the Fethul­lah Gülen reli­gious com­mu­ni­ty. This fact has led to sus­pi­cions that Şık was arrest­ed due to the book’s con­tents, rather than his involve­ment in the alleged Ergenekon gang, which he has worked as a jour­nal­ist to expose. . . .

“Turk­ish Police Raid Print­ing House, Erase Unpub­lished Book; Hur­riyet Dai­ly News; 3/24/2011.

11. The pro­gram con­cludes with a look at anoth­er of the “dis­clo­sures” being gen­er­at­ed by Wik­iLeaks (WHERE are they com­ing from?). As the Pig­gy-Back Coup was gain­ing momen­tum, an item con­cern­ing Mossad con­nec­tions with var­i­ous embat­tled Mid­dle East gov­ern­ments sur­faced.

As with many (most?) of the Wik­iLeaks “leaks,” this could be rea­son­ably sur­mised by an intel­li­gent observ­er. Nonethe­less, this seems primed to stir up pro-Islamist and anti-Semit­ic sen­ti­ments among the Arab pop­u­la­tion of those coun­tries.

Wik­ileaks  founder Julian Assange released addi­tion­al clas­si­fied doc­u­ments about Israel and the Mid­dle East: Britain’s Guardian news­pa­per stat­ed that the sen­si­tive doc­u­ments expose, among oth­er things, Israeli crit­i­cism of the man who is the de fac­to head of state in Egypt, Hus­sein Tanta­wi Chair­man of the Supreme Coun­cil of the Armed Forces.

The diplo­mat­ic cables were trans­ferred to Yedio­th Ahronoth and some have been pub­lished on Fri­day.

One of the doc­u­ments leaked to the Wik­ileaks site and pub­lished in the Guardian, address­es alleged rela­tions between Israel’s secu­ri­ty ser­vices and Bahrain.

In a cable describ­ing a meet­ing between the US ambas­sador to the emi­rate and King Hamad in 2005, the US diplo­mat not­ed that the king admit­ted “that Bahrain already has con­tacts with Israel at the intelligence/security lev­el (ie with Mossad) and indi­cat­ed that Bahrain will be will­ing to move for­ward in oth­er areas.”

In anoth­er cable, a US doc­u­ment from Novem­ber 2009 new­ly released by Assange, Israeli secu­ri­ty sources claim that Tanta­wi is an “obsta­cle” in efforts to foil smug­gling from Sinai to the Gaza Strip. On the oth­er hand, the doc­u­ment not­ed that Israel praised the actions of the man who was direc­tor of the Gen­er­al Intel­li­gence Direc­torate at the time, Omar Suleiman, who now acts as Egyp­t’s vice pres­i­dent. Israeli secu­ri­ty sources stat­ed that he sup­ports smug­gling pre­ven­tion. . . .

“Bahrain’s Secret Mossad Ties Revealed?”; ynetnews.com; 4/8/2011.

Discussion

10 comments for “FTR #739 Turkish Taffy, Part 3”

  1. Hel­lo Dave,

    You and all of us, your fol­low­ers, were right. Check this out. A nazi par­ty is in the process of for­ma­tion in Egypt... Does it look like a pig­gy back coup or not? This is incred­i­ble. Imag­ine all the peo­ple who said that we were pes­simistic, nos­tal­gic author­i­tar­i­ans... What will they say now? At least, we, the real pro­gres­sives, can see clear­ly through the mud despite all the pro­pa­gan­da and lies. Cheers to all of us.

    Have a great day.

    http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=222367&R=R3

    Posted by Claude | May 30, 2011, 9:52 pm
  2. Here is a very inter­est­ing arti­cle by Ger­many­Watch on the role played by some Ger­man NGOs in the Arab Spring through social media:

    http://germanywatch.blogspot.com/2011/08/dodgy-ngos-and-arab-spring.html

    Posted by Claude | January 14, 2012, 2:57 pm
  3. It looks like the Arab Spring in the Gulf nations might become the Arab Fall:

    Sau­di widens Arab Spring back­lash with Bahrain ‘union’ plans
    AP
    03/05/2012

    DUBAI, Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates — Dur­ing a ser­mon last week at Bahrain’s Grand Mosque, the pro-gov­ern­ment prayer leader offered sweep­ing praise for one of the Arab Spring’s counter-rev­o­lu­tions: Gulf rulers bond­ing togeth­er against dis­sent with pow­er­ful Sau­di Ara­bia as their main guardian.

    The widen­ing Sau­di secu­ri­ty stamp on the region is already tak­ing shape in Bahrain, where more than a year of Shi­ite-led unrest shows no sign of eas­ing and the Sau­di influ­ence over the embat­tled Sun­ni monar­chy is on pub­lic dis­play.

    Por­traits of the Sau­di King Abdul­lah — some show­ing him pray­ing — dot the air­port in Bahrain’s cap­i­tal Man­a­ma. Bahrain’s red-and-white flag and the green Sau­di col­ors are arranged with crossed staffs. State media con­tin­u­al­ly lauds the Sau­di-led mil­i­tary force that rolled into Bahrain last year as rein­force­ments against the upris­ing by the kingdom’s Shi­ite major­i­ty.

    “Gulf union is a long-await­ed dream,” said Sheik Fareed al-Mef­tah at Fri­day prayers in Manama’s main Sun­ni mosque, refer­ring to pro­pos­als to coor­di­nate defense affairs and oth­er poli­cies among the six mem­bers of the Gulf Coop­er­a­tion Coun­cil stretch­ing from Kuwait to Oman.

    “The first step is here,” al-Mef­tah added.

    Abdul­lah and Bahrain’s king, Hamad bin Isa Al Khal­i­fa, have met to dis­cuss “union” plans, which are expect­ed to be out­lined in May. For the moment, few details have emerged. Gulf lead­ers have stressed the need for greater intel­li­gence and mil­i­tary coop­er­a­tion. It’s unclear, how­ev­er, how deeply Bahrain and Sau­di Ara­bia will attempt to merge in the first steps.

    The increas­ing­ly blurred nation­al lines in Bahrain are a pos­si­ble sneak pre­view of the wider Arab Spring back­lash in the oil-rich Gulf, where Sau­di pow­er seeks to safe­guard the region’s Sun­ni lead­er­ship and its strong oppo­si­tion to pos­si­ble attempts by Shi­ite giant Iran to expand influ­ence. Mean­while, Gulf rulers have selec­tive­ly endorsed rebel­lions else­where, such as in Libya and Syr­ia.

    ...

    Bahrain can be looked at as some­thing of a Sau­di colony now in the sense that poli­cies are merged,” said Toby Jones, an expert on Bahrai­ni affairs at Rut­gers Uni­ver­si­ty. “But this is more than just a meet­ing of minds. It’s moti­vat­ed by the fears of the Arab Spring.”

    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 8, 2012, 10:49 pm
  4. It appears that the Gulenists have become so bla­tant in their coup plot fab­ri­ca­tions that even Erodogan is start­ing to dis­tance his par­ty from them, although the show tri­al goes on:

    March 12, 2012, 5:56 pm
    A Moscow Show Tri­al on the Bospho­rus

    ...

    Most telling­ly, a tor­rent of evi­dence has come out since the doc­u­ments first emerged that points to their fraud­u­lent nature. The doc­u­ments con­tain hun­dreds of anachro­nisms – names of NGOs, mil­i­tary instal­la­tions, or firms that did not yet exist – that make clear beyond any rea­son­able doubt that they were pro­duced years lat­er and back­dat­ed to impli­cate the offi­cers on tri­al. Some of the defen­dants have shown that they were out­side the coun­try at the time they are alleged to have pre­pared these doc­u­ments or attend­ed plan­ning meet­ings.

    An Amer­i­can foren­sic spe­cial­ist has deter­mined that the “hand writ­ing” on the CDs was actu­al­ly pro­duced by mechan­i­cal­ly repli­cat­ing indi­vid­ual let­ters from the note­books of one of the defen­dants. Devi­a­tions from mil­i­tary for­mat­ting sug­gest the doc­u­ments were pre­pared by indi­vid­u­als not ful­ly famil­iar with the army’s style require­ments. As long-time Turkey ana­lyst Gareth Jenk­ins put it to the New York­er: “It’s absolute­ly clear that these doc­u­ments have been forged.”

    The pros­e­cu­tors have bun­dled these bogus doc­u­ments with authen­tic voice record­ings from a mil­i­tary sem­i­nar held in March 2003. Pro-gov­ern­ment media have made much of these record­ings, in which some offi­cers are heard mak­ing prej­u­di­cial state­ments about mem­bers of the gov­ern­ing par­ty. But there is noth­ing in the pro­ceed­ings to sug­gest those present were plan­ning a coup. Even the pros­e­cu­tors’ indict­ment makes clear that the case stands or falls with the authen­tic­i­ty of the dig­i­tal doc­u­ments.

    ...

    Erdoğan has recent­ly dis­tanced him­self from the Gülenists, in part because of his party’s dis­com­fort with their judi­cial manip­u­la­tions. But he has yet to with­draw his sup­port from the case against the mil­i­tary offi­cers or to take action against the worst legal abus­es tak­ing place. (See here for a good recent overview.) Mean­while, jour­nal­ists who pry into such mat­ters are silenced. Turkey cur­rent­ly holds more jour­nal­ists in prison than Chi­na and Iran com­bined. Only recent­ly have for­eign jour­nal­ists begun to pen­e­trate the fog that sur­rounds the case and report on the bla­tant forg­eries (see accounts in the New York­er, Newsweek, and Lon­don Times).

    The trav­es­ty that the tri­al rep­re­sents reached new heights last week when the judge ruled to move to the final stage of the tri­al, bypass­ing defen­dants’ requests for exam­i­na­tion of the prosecution’s evi­dence. In effect, the judge decid­ed to com­plete­ly over­look the count­less anachro­nisms, incon­sis­ten­cies, and phys­i­cal impos­si­bil­i­ties on which the case rests. A guilty ver­dict has become vir­tu­al­ly cer­tain.

    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 13, 2012, 7:37 am
  5. @Pterrafractyl–

    Good show! Bear in mind that this is the “demo­c­ra­t­ic” tem­plate upon which the “democ­ra­cies” in the Mid­dle East are being fash­ioned.

    Hold on to your seats!

    Posted by Dave Emory | March 13, 2012, 11:21 am
  6. @Pterrafractyl: Thanks for the info. Sad­ly, the world crime net­work is so ter­ri­fied of legit­i­mate democ­ra­ti­za­tion that their attempts to hijack every nation they can appears to be going into over­drive now.

    @Dave: I’m afraid you are def­i­nite­ly right on this, but maybe the peo­ple will wake up before it’s too late, when all their nations are banana republics ruled by crooked dictators(or even worse ones, if replac­ing cur­rent ones like al-Assad!)...which, btw, the extreme right has sim­i­lar plans for this coun­try (USA) as well.

    Posted by Steven L. | March 14, 2012, 3:24 am
  7. http://www.todayszaman.com/news-283601-.html

    Erdoğan hopes Islam­ic schol­ar Gülen returns to Turkey soon

    Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke before a crowd dur­ing the clos­ing cer­e­mo­ny of the 10th Turk­ish Olympiads. (Pho­to: Today’s Zaman)

    15 June 2012 / TODAYSZAMAN.COM,

    Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has open­ly invit­ed Turk­ish Islam­ic schol­ar Fethul­lah Gülen to Turkey in a speech he deliv­ered dur­ing the clos­ing cer­e­mo­ny for the 10th Turk­ish Olympiads amid a stand­ing ova­tion from a crowd of over 50,000.

    Erdoğan, who spoke after he was grant­ed a spe­cial award by the orga­niz­ing com­mit­tee of the Olympiads, implied that Gülen, with­out direct­ly men­tion­ing his name, should return to Turkey as soon as pos­si­ble. The well-known schol­ar has been resid­ing in the US for near­ly 13 years.

    “We want this yearn­ing to end,” he said, receiv­ing a lengthy stand­ing ova­tion from the crowd, in a rare blunt invi­ta­tion for Gülen to return to his home­land. Erdoğan added, “We want to see those who are abroad and long­ing for the home­land among us.”

    Respond­ing to the lengthy applause, Erdoğan fur­ther said he under­stands that the crowd also wants “this yearn­ing to end.”

    Gülen is a Turk­ish Islam­ic schol­ar well known for his teach­ings that pro­mote mutu­al under­stand­ing and tol­er­ance between dif­fer­ent cul­tures and faiths. Now resid­ing in the US, Gülen has pio­neered edu­ca­tion­al activ­i­ties in a num­ber of coun­tries, along with efforts to pro­mote inter­cul­tur­al and inter­faith activ­i­ties around the world. The Turk­ish Olympiads are an ini­tia­tive pio­neered by schools asso­ci­at­ed with him.

    He has also writ­ten near­ly 60 books in Turk­ish, most of which have been trans­lat­ed into dozens of lan­guages. He was most recent­ly hon­ored with the East­West Insti­tute’s (EWI) 2011 EWI Peace Build­ing Award for his con­tri­bu­tion to world peace.

    Gülen is in self-imposed exile in the US even though there is not any legal hur­dle that pre­vent him from return­ing to Turkey. Short­ly after he went to the US, in 2000, then-State Secu­ri­ty Court (DGM) pros­e­cu­tor Nuh Mete Yük­sel launched a case against him on charges of estab­lish­ing an ille­gal orga­ni­za­tion, but he was even­tu­al­ly acquit­ted after eight years. Upon appeal, the Gen­er­al Crim­i­nal Cham­ber of the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld the acquit­tal.

    Posted by Vanfield | June 18, 2012, 3:16 pm
  8. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/21/turkish-court-military-guilty-coup

    Turk­ish court finds 330 mil­i­tary staff guilty of attempt­ed coup

    Sen­tences to range between 15–20 years for offi­cers as civil­ian gov­ern­ment flex­es mus­cles against once-supreme army

    Fri­day 21 Sep­tem­ber 2012

    A Turk­ish court has con­victed 330 for­mer and cur­rent mil­i­tary offi­cers of plot­ting a coup to over­throw prime min­is­ter Tayyip Erdogan’s gov­ern­ment.

    The court ear­lier sen­tenced three for­mer gen­er­als to life in prison, which was reduced to 20 years each because the coup plot was unsuc­cess­ful, and two serv­ing and one for­mer gen­eral to 18 years.

    Sen­tenc­ing is still to come for the remain­ing 324 defen­dants con­victed of a role in the plot.

    The court ear­lier acquit­ted 34 offi­cers in the case, which has under­lined civil­ian dom­i­nance over the once all-pow­er­ful mil­i­tary in Turkey.

    The “Sledge­ham­mer” con­spir­acy is alleged to have includ­ed plans to bomb his­toric mosques in Istan­bul and trig­ger con­flict with Greece to pave the way for an army takeover.

    Pros­e­cu­tors had demand­ed 15–20 year jail sen­tences for the 365 defen­dants, 364 of them serv­ing and retired offi­cers.

    The Turk­ish army has tra­di­tion­ally played a dom­i­nant role in pol­i­tics, stag­ing three coups between 1960 and 1980 and push­ing the country’s first Islamist-led gov­ern­ment from office in 1997.

    Its author­ity has been reined in sharply since Erdo­gan first came to pow­er near­ly a decade ago and the tri­al has been seen as a show of strength by a gov­ern­ment that has emerged from its shad­ow.

    Posted by R. Wilson | September 23, 2012, 12:19 pm
  9. [...] In the mas­sive, intense For The Record series about the “Mus­lim Broth­er­hood Spring,” as we call it, we not­ed that the upheavals were the prod­uct of a GOP/Underground Reich fac­tion of U.S.intelligence exe­cut­ing a covert oper­a­tion begun dur­ing the clos­ing days of the sec­ond Bush admin­is­tra­tion,  and con­tin­ued under Oba­ma, whose polit­i­cal for­tune would  fall vic­tim to the fall­out and blow­back from that oper­a­tion. Indeed, the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood has been ascen­dant in the affect­ed coun­tries since that series was pro­duced. (That series is FTR #732 through FTR #739.) [...]

    Posted by Have Turkish Citizens Had Enough of Erdogan’s Taffy? (Viva Attaturk!) | The Freedom Report | June 7, 2013, 3:43 pm
  10. Great show! Remem­ber this is the pop­u­lar­i­ty based for­mat where­upon the “vote based sys­tems” in the Mid­dle East are being mold­ed.
    Clutch your seats!

    Posted by Emlakzone | May 30, 2019, 7:23 pm

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