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Update on “Turkish Taffy”

COMMENT: In FTR #’s 737, 738, 739, we examined the prevailing political/journalistic fantasy about the Erdogan government in Turkey. That country is wrapped in a cloak of fantasy and wishful thinking by elements who would see Turkey as a bastion of Islamic enlightenment and a role model for “emerging democracies” in the Arab and Muslim world.

The sugary confection derived from such fantasizing may taste sweet at first, but that is misleading.

Neither “moderate” nor, in essence, “democratic,” the Erdogan government is inextricably linked with: the milieu of the Bank al-Taqwa, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Pan-Turkist movement, the Fetullah Gulen cult and international fascism.

In this post, we examine:

  • The [belated] realization by European diplomats that the Erdogan government has a neo-Ottoman, Islamist agenda, as well as an undemocratic one.
  • The recent call by Erdogan for his ally Gulen to return to Turkey. Gulen’s cadre is widely seen as the apparatus through which Erdogan has cemented his political control. (Note: critics of the organization claim it is supported by the CIA. The gentle handling of the organization by Western news outlets is suggestive of such a connection.)
  • Allegations that the head of the Turkish IHH Islamic charity has helped fund Al-Qaeda. In the past, we have examined the IHH’s links to international terrorism. Most recently, the IHH shepherded the flotilla that attempted to land in Gaza, precipitating an Israeli reponse that turned violent.

“Neo -Ottoman Islamist Fantasies Worry European Diplomats” by Michael Sailhan; Middle East Online; 6/10/2012.

EXCERPT: European Union diplomats are expressing growing concern at what they see as the increasingly militant stance taken by Turkey’s ruling Islamists.

They accuse Ankara of using probes into alleged plots against the government as a tool to jail and silence opponents and compromise the country’s secular credentials by introducing Koran studies in public schools.

Other measures include lowering the age at which parents can send their children to Islamic religious schools, increasing pressure on those criticising Islam and restricting abortion.

Turkish authorities accuse the so-called Ergenekon network of being behind several plots to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Dozens of retired or serving senior military figures, intellectuals, lawyers and journalists been put behind bars.

On Thursday Stefan Fuele, European commissioner for enlargement, cited this and other obstacles in the way of Turkey’s membership bid while in Istanbul for talks.

“I have used this meeting to convey our concerns about the increasing detention of lawmakers, academics and students and the freedom of press and journalists,” he said.

Changes due to take effect when the new academic year starts this autumn also have also ruffled feathers. The Islamist-rooted ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is introducing Koran lessons.

And from the end of primary school, more parents will be able to opt out of the secular education system and send their children to Islamic religious schools. Previously these schools could not recruit children under the age of 15: now children as young as 11 will be allowed to attend.

There is concern too over plans by state broadcaster TRT to launch a religious channel and proposals for prayer rooms in newly built public buildings such as creches, theatres and even opera houses.

“A series of recent moves show that the conservative tendency has the upper hand and faces no opposition,” said Marc Pierini, a former head of the EU diplomatic team in Turkey.

“Civil society exists, but it is hardly audible,” said one Ankara-based diplomat.

“The media are for the most part directly or indirectly controlled by the AKP and the opposition is powerless,” the diplomat added. . . .

“Erdogan Hopes Islamic Scholar Gulen Returns to Turkey Soon”; Today’s Zaman; 6/15/2012.

EXCERPT: 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. . . .

“Turkish IHH President Investigated for Financing Al-Qaeda”; Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report; 6/17/2012.

EXCERPT:  Turkish media is reporting that the President of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (İHH), sponsor of the June 2010 Gaza flotilla that was involved in a violent altercation with Israeli naval forces, is being investigated for allegedly financing al-Qaeda through his organization. According to the report:

. . . . Humanitarian Relief Foundation (İHH) President Bülent Yıldırım is being investigated for allegedly financing al-Qaeda through his organization, daily Habertürk has reported. The probe, led by an Istanbul specially authorized prosecutor, accuses Yıldırım of ‘providing financial aid to al-Qaeda via his foundation’ with absolute secrecy, reportedly without official numbering and identification. A Diyarbakır specially authorized prosecutor has also been leading a similar case into Yıldırım, Habertürk reported. Yıldırım was the İHH’s head during the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident . . . .

. . . There is strong evidence for Turkish governmental involvement in the Gaza flotilla incident, with Turkish government support channeled through the Turkish Muslim Brotherhood network. Since 2006, Turkey has become a new center for the Global Muslim Brotherhood. The IHH was not acting alone but rather was an integral part of a Turkish Muslim Brotherhood network.

The Gaza flotilla incident brought into sharp focus an even more significant long- term development: the growing relationship between the Erdogan government and the Global Muslim Brotherhood, which has given rise to some of the most notorious Islamist terrorist groups – from al-Qaeda to Hamas. Since 2006, Turkey has become a new center for the Global Muslim Brotherhood, while the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip acted as the main axis for this activity. . . .

Discussion

9 comments for “Update on “Turkish Taffy””

  1. If you’re going to enter the theatre of Central Asian geopolitics, be suspect of the program they hand you at the door. The actors have a tendency to switch roles at will or even play more than one character simultaneously.
    Turkey’s ambitions to reestablish an Ottoman Empire Lite along the Old Silk Road would normally be expected to foment nothing but resistance from China, who has to worry about a Turkic linguistic and ethnic minority at her western back door. But China’s policy of soft power expansionism helps avoids much direct confrontation.

    http://www.thecommentator.com/article/1230/china_and_turkey_revive_silk_road
    “The leaders of the world’s fastest growing economies in Eurasia met in Beijing last month. Prime Minister Erdogan’s visit to China, coming soon after president-in-waiting Xi Jinping’s visit to Turkey might have heralded a new dawn of Sino-Turkic relations on the old Silk Road: in Central Asia.”
    China would rather absorb enemies than fight them. A still further basis for cooperation with Turkey is both parties’ mutual desire to hold Russia in check in the Earth Island. Consistent with this, the EU/US block offers its tentative support for this otherwise surprising alliance, considering that China faces a real threat from a revived Turkic union.

    “This could be an opportunity for the United States to enlist these two dynamic economies to contribute to stability in the region once Western forces have withdrawn from Afghanistan. It could also emerge as an alternative to U.S. influence in the region. Much depends on how Washington approaches the revived relationship.”

    Read the above as: Turkey’s possible growing influence in the region ( acting as a proxy for the EU ) can be steered more firmly against Russia by manipulating historical Russian and Chinese competition for the loyalties of Central Asian governments. As US military intimidation fades (slightly) from the area, China, Turkey and Pakistan can take up the slack, holding the Russian bear at bay. Seeing the inevitable and positioning herself for maximum advantage, the dismemberment of Syria and Iran may not be resisted by China overmuch.

    Posted by Dwight | June 21, 2012, 7:39 am
  2. It’s too tempting, given the topic, not to make some sweeping observations contrasting the Turkic people and the Chinese and their respective histories.

    Very, very roughly, Turks = Mongols = Huns = Manchus = Scythians = Bulgars = Magyars = Moghuls = Khazars = Ottomans. The hard edged north Asian people who were the main progenitors of the native American population and who first domesticated the horse went on to invent the stirrup so that they could have both hands free to kick foreigners’ asses (ignore confusing hand/foot metaphor). They began early, beginning about 3000 years ago, and have stayed late.

    One historical puzzle is where they got the raw numbers to repeatedly invade and conquer all within reach on the Eurasian continent. The Manchus were one specific incarnation of the northern conquerors who made a cult of their relationship to their horses and wore a long braid in imitation of a horses tail. Loyal subjects were expected to emulate this, hence the ‘que’ of Chinese stereotype.

    The Hun and Mongol inroads into Europe survive into the present day and their various incarnations, across centuries, held together the linguistic and cultural identity known today as ‘Turk’ with its recognized roots in Siberia. (‘Turk’ probably comes from a word meaning ‘blue’ of the Blue Horde.)

    The people we know today as Chinese, on the other hand, are more sinned against than sinning in the invasion and expansion arena. China has been invaded, conquered and fragmented by the northerners a dozen times ( not to mention Japan and Europe in living memory ) and, whether it takes decades or centuries, tolerates the invaders and assimilates them, until the day when the Chinese language, culture and identity reemerges united and seemingly unscathed. It is somewhat of an over-generalization and sounds close to racial chauvinism to say it but the historical evidence is about culture, not genetics, and shows this: The Chinese are much more survivalist oriented than expansionist and so tend to the long view. The Turks, in contrast and if they follow the inclinations of their Siberian warrior forebears, want what they want now.

    Comparing the simple climactic commonalities of European and Asian history and considering the seemingly innate aggressiveness of Scandinavian and northern German peoples. a recipe for creating a warlike culture would seem to be simply freezing them for a few millenia. Then watch out when they come from behind the glacier.

    Posted by Dwight | June 21, 2012, 11:14 am
  3. http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3132/turkey-sex-lies-and-videotapes

    Turkey’s Sex, Lies and Videotapes

    by Claire Berlinski
    June 26, 2012 at 8:30 am

    If you are not allowed to keep these tapes on your computer, how can you threaten your enemies with them? The issue people should have been concerned about was not porn at all, but the implementation of a system that allows the government at will to to shut off channels of political dissent – a feat it managed quite successfully.

    Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals did not criminalize all porn recently—it just ruled that anyone in possession of videos depicting oral or anal sex may be sentenced to prison. This followed a recent ruling identifying videos of gay and group sex as “unnatural”—that is, in the same legal category as videos depicting sex with animals, children and corpses, all of which are forbidden by Article 262.2 of the Turkish Penal Code. This article stipulates that owning, trafficking, distributing or publishing such videos will earn you one-to-four. The ruling followed the sentencing by a local court of a suspect to six months in prison for selling CDs that depicted what we in the decadent West might call “sending your husband off to the office happy.”

    The case went up to the Supreme Court of Appeals, which not only ruled that the defendant’s sentence was too low, but declared that the activity in question was also “unnatural”— on a par with necrophilia. The court thus overruled the original sentence and replaced it with one consistent with Article 262.2.

    As if this were not enough to chill the country’s libido, the new ruling applies both to videos downloaded from the Internet or stored on a personal computer— in other words, it probably applies to every male with a computer in Turkey: according to Google, Turkey leads the world in searches for the word “porn” (followed, if you are curious, by Romania and Peru). As one Turkish friend put it, “Who wants to watch porn without oral sex?”

    Bans on porn in Turkey are nothing new—after the 1980 coup, for example, the military imposed a desultory ban; but what really happened was that newspapers unable to report about anything else started competing on skin, until, by the end of the decade, porn was a growth industry. A Turkish friend recently nostalgically reminisced about the kids who sold Kleenex outside his favorite Beyoglu cinema when he was growing up.

    By the late 1990s, the porn industry here was apparently in its Golden Age. I don’t know much about it and don’t really want to do the research; I’ll just take everyone’s word for it. Then the AKP came to power and began cracking down. In 2004, members of the government passed legislation making it illegal to distribute “obscene” images, words, or texts through any means of communication – pretty much criminalizing the entire country. In 2005, they banned the four erotic television channels available on Turkey’s sole satellite provider: Digiturk. Playboy TV, Exotica TV, Adult Channel, and Rouge TV all disappeared, to little outcry. No one watched porn on satellite TV anyway—it had long since entered the Internet age.

    But then they went too far: They announced plans to filter the stuff off the Internet. Delicacy prevents me from listing the banned words, but their move prompted the kind of outrage usually not seen in Turkey: people who had never before expressed the faintest interest in attending a protest said they planned to attend one.

    There were massive campaigns against the legislation on Facebook and Twitter, some of them quite sophisticated, defending the right to unfettered Internet access. The government was forced to back down: it would introduce a filtering system, it said, but adults could opt out.

    The issue people should have been concerned about, of course, was not porn at all, but the technical implementation of a system that allows the government at will to shut off channels of political dissent – a feat it managed quite successfully.

    The government has not given up the dream of banning porn, or books, for that matter. Last year, the Board for Protection of Minors from Obscene Publications brought a case against both the publisher and the Turkish translator of The Soft Machine by William Burroughs, pronouncing the book “incompatible with the morals of society and the people’s honor,” “injurious to sexuality” and “generally repugnant.” The owner of the publishing house, Irfan Sanci, had been tried on similar charges the year prior, and was acquitted for publishing a Turkish translation of Apollinaire’s The Adventures of a Young Don Juan. Now, however, the translator of The Soft Machine, Suha Sertabiboglu, faces up to three years in prison if convicted. The Board for the Protection of Minors also brought the publisher and translator of Chuck Palahniuk’s Snuff to trial on charges of obscenity. Snuff is a satire of the porn industry, not an example of it, but the level of English language comprehension and literary sophistication one would need to appreciate this is far beyond that of the Board. The Board, by the way, has existed since 1921, but has been so somnolent that no one I know can even remember hearing about it until the AKP won its third term.

    Given the number of politicians, generals, journalists and other figures who have been blackmailed with illegally filmed videotapes of their sexual activity, this new ruling puts blackmailers, in particular, in a legal conundrum: If you aren’t allowed to keep these tapes on your computer, how can you threaten your enemies with them?

    Illicit sex tapes were a major feature of the last general election campaign that brought the AKP back to power for its third and arguably least glorious term. One well-timed sex-tape scandal after another held the opposition parties hostage, and may have contributed to the AKP’s capture of 326 votes in the 550 seat parliament—almost enough to put its proposals for constitutional reform to a referendum without the support of any other party. (Or perhaps it lost seats instead: Quite a bit of the country was just disgusted by the whole business.) Released just a month before the June 12 election, one tape appeared to show two (married) senior opposition party members engaged in a bit of rumpy-pumpy with female university students. The anonymous cinematographers warned the leader of the minority Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, that if he did not want to see more sex and audio tapes of his closest aides released, he might like to step aside.

    It’s possible that the wave of tape-scandals was an inside job: Some believed they were the work of a dissenting faction of the MHP. But they were also widely rumored to be the handiwork of the AKP or its supporters, and designed to push the MHP below the 10% election threshold. This would have barred the MHP from entering parliament and reassigned its seats to the parties that passed, giving the AKP the supermajority its members so badly wanted to be able to pass a new constitution without a referendum. It almost worked, too—the MHP squeaked in with just 53 seats.

    While the technique of ridding oneself of political rivals by means of a well-timed sex-tape leak is hardly unknown to the West, in Turkey the ritual has certain unique cultural adaptations: In the pre-election videotape scandal, a group that called itself “Different Idealism” began systematically releasing videotapes of MHP leaders in indecorous poses with, as one columnist here chastely put it, “women who do that sort of thing for a living.” Two video clips depicted Bülent Didinmez, a deputy chairman and former MHP Istanbul provincial branch leader and parliamentary candidate Ihsan Barutçu involved in acts that definitely did not involve the women to whom they were married. The clips were released shortly after a videotape displaying deputy chairmen and Adana Deputy Recai Yildirim and Kirsehir Deputy Metin Çobanoglu in an “intimate” conversation with two women to whom they, too, were not wed. When MHP leader Bahçeli publicly demanded the errant party leaders’ resignation, they stepped down.

    Up to this point we are still in familiar territory—all of this could have happened in the West. But then Didinmez and Barutçu defended themselves by saying that they had taken the women in the videos as their second wives—so it was all in fact quite legitimate, you see. The men claimed that many of the ruling AKP members had second or third wives outside their civil marriages, so they were only doing the same thing. Not even John Edwards could come up with a defense like that.

    Of course, no scandal in Turkey is complete without the accusation of a foreign conspiracy: Deputy MHP Chairman Faruk Bal indignantly announced that “this is a product of a plan by domestic and foreign circles, and those who wish to see parliament without the MHP in it are actors of this plan.”

    His explanation, however, did not fly. Ten high-ranking party leaders were forced to resign after videos were released of them engaged in various shades of sociability with women definitely not their wives in a house the MHP apparently maintained for these secret liaisons. Worst of all, one of these men was caught on film bitching to his mistress about Devlet Bahçeli, the MHP party leader. There is stupid, then there is really stupid. This is Turkey: Take a second wife, okay, but do not criticize the party leader.

    It is customary, in Turkey, to blame Fethullah Gülen for these cinematographic feats. The aged preacher, who lives in self-imposed exile in the Poconos, is widely believed (not without reason) to control everything in Turkey, although most likely even he does not control these recreational partialities. State prosecutor Nuh Mete Yüksel, famous for indicting and imprisoning then-mayor and now prime minister Erdogan for reading, at a party rally, a poem with a putatively anti-secular interpretation, filed for the arrest of Gülen on August 3, 2000, at the Ankara State Court of Security on the charge that his sympathizers and he had sought to overthrow the secular state. A mere year later, a secretly-taped video of Yüksel engaged in hanky-panky (rumpy-pumpy, indecorous activities, whatever you like …) with a subordinate was released to the public. We can extend this list. If, for example, you want to know the fate of the journalist Ali Kirca, who broadcast the videotape of the Gülen sermon that prompted Yüksel to file those charges, try this Google search.

    In fairness, it must be noted, that in Turkey there is a long secular tradition of videotape shenanigans. The main opposition CHP leader, Deniz Baykal was filmed in happy bonhomie with one of his party’s female MPs, forcing him to resign — a CHP inside job, most believe; and while few could approve of the method, everyone approved of the outcome. Baykal was a fossilized old bore with no hope whatsoever of winning an election—not that his mouse-like successor, Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, has been the improvement everyone had hoped for.

    Incidentally, they—whoever “they” are—have not been confining themselves to blackmailing opposition politicians, generals and dissidents of all stripes. They have also been filming their kids. Turning people’s kids into unintentional porn stars is about as dirty as it gets. Sadly, journalists who viewed the harassment of the family of the blind Chinese rights activist Chen Guangchen as beyond the unspeakable have not once suggested, as far as I know, that the humiliation and harassment of the families of dissidents in Turkey might be worthy of some moral outrage, as well.

    Shortly before the Turkish police arrested the former 1st Army Corps commander General Hasan Igsiz on charges of “making propaganda campaigns against civilian groups and the government,” photos of his son’s bobbling and naked rear end were splashed across the tabloid press. The term “civilian groups” is a euphemism here—the group in question is the Gülen movement—and Hakan Igsiz, whose anatomy became mildly famous, is not in much doubt that Gülen’s supporters were the cinematographers. Hakan, by the way, a sound technician, mentioned that he was in awe of the exceptionally high quality of their audio equipment—he said he had seen nothing like it in the industry before.

    The really huge news for blackmailers, though, is the government’s proposal to ban the publication in digital newspapers and the press of illegally-acquired sound recordings. Some believe that the purpose of this legislation is to protect prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan from the kind of embarrassment to which he was exposed when it was revealed that his intelligence chief and personal confidant, Hakan Fidan, had been surreptitiously negotiating with the PKK—this despite Erdogan’s recent campaign bluster that had he been in charge when PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan was captured, he would have had him hanged.

    Erdogan is now trying to arrange a deal to release the imprisoned military officers, who for years have been languishing in prison without a conviction. Why, you might wonder, does he want to do that? Well, we would all like to know, but the best we can do is guess. Perhaps he is worried that more officers will be hit, leaving in tatters what is left of the military. Perhaps he is worried that the Gülenist infiltration of the military has gone too far and is becoming a danger to him. Erdogan may be many things; a fool is not one of them: The situation in Syria may have reminded him that he might actually need his military, and in particular the generals who know how to use it—the best of whom are all in jail.

    This, of course, has the Gülen movement in a panic. There is no greater nightmare scenario for Gülen’s supporters than the combined and considerable wrath of Erdogan and the military. So in Turkey, as in the US, leaking season is here. The proposal to ban the publication of such recordings has the newspapers that plumped for the imprisonment of Turkey’s top military brass, and who are sympathetic to Gülen—who is no longer sympathetic to Erdogan—panic-stricken. Of late, Gülen’s supporters have been releasing illegally-taped recordings almost every day, mostly from jailed military leaders in Hasdal prison. These recordings—unsurprisingly—reveal that the men in jail are furious and wish ill upon the people who put them there—many of whom happen to be, in their eyes, the journalists frantically leaking these tapes. Tapes are surfacing from their archives almost every day now, killing two birds with one stone: first, the tapes hint that if the officers are released, the military will take bloody revenge; second, the journalists need to empty their pockets before their recordings are banned.

    It is rumored that Gülen’s supporters have quite the collection of recordings of Erdogan and his intimates (political or otherwise). It is also rumored — and pretty obvious — that they are threatening Erdogan with the release of recordings by means of unsubtle messages conveyed by sympathetic journalists such as Emre Uslu and Mehmet Baransu, who hint darkly on Twitter of their knowledge of “igrenç” information— a word Turkish for “disgusting,” and precious for its onomatopoeic aptness. I could not with certainty say this is what is happening—I’m not the one putting hidden cameras under people’s beds—but if I were a betting woman, I would place every penny I had on it.

    Turkey is one of the world’s most opaque countries, so it is hard to discern which snake is biting which tail in this story, which broke the other week:

    Police and specially authorized prosecutors raided several homes and military buildings across the country yesterday as part of an ongoing probe into an alleged espionage ring. …

    The locations searched included secure military buildings, including the General Command of the Turkish Gendarmerie Forces, the Navy, the Special Forces Command top secret room and the Military Hospital (GATA) in Ankara.

    The latest raids were part of an investigation launched in Izmir last month into allegations that secret military documents were acquired through blackmail. According to the probe, nine active-duty members of the military allegedly used a prostitution ring to blackmail high-ranking officers and obtain confidential information about the Turkish military.

    The members of the prostitution ring allegedly recorded secret footage of high-ranking officers as they had sexual intercourse with escorts and later used the footage to blackmail them. The active-duty soldiers police arrested had been blackmailed themselves and later participated in ensnaring their colleagues. They also allegedly profited financially from the ring’s activities.

    There is almost certainly more to this than what you just read. And this is the model democracy we are promoting to the Middle East?

    Posted by Vanfield | June 30, 2012, 11:34 pm
  4. http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/03/turkey-davutologu-ottoman-new-order-mideast.html

    Davutoglu Invokes Ottomanism As a New Order for Mideast
    [US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) shakes hands with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu after their news conference at Ankara Palas in Ankara, March 1, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Umit Bektas)]

    By: Tulin Daloglu for Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse. Posted on March 10.

    Speaking of the international order or lack thereof has always been controversial. For Turkey to challenge the international order, however, carries some real risks — simply because it’s a NATO member country, and its objections raise questions as to whether it’s proposing an alternative foreign policy to this military bloc’s generally perceived worldview, and if so, whether it is diverging in its perception of security issues from the rest. NATO is also the most significant alliance Turkey has, anchoring it in the West.
    About This Article
    Summary :

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s suggestion of an Ottoman model for a new Middle East order is likely a misreading of regional politics that could prove hard for Turkey to back away from, writes Tulin Daloglu.
    Author: Tulin Daloglu
    Posted on : March 10 2013
    Categories : Originals Turkey Syria Security

    The ongoing criticism that comes out of Ankara to the international order is not news. The Erdogan government has been vocally asking for the enlargement of the UN Security Council, especially since the Russian and Chinese veto power has been presented as the main stumbling block before the international community to establish no-fly zones in the war-torn Syrian battlefield for the past two years.

    As setting a no-fly zone literally means for the international community to decide to go to war against Syria — since they need to knock down all the radar systems to do that, Ankara therefore has also been rallying for war against the Assad regime. While Turkey’s initiatives on that were not realized, NATO responded positively to Turkey’s request to install Patriot missiles on its territory as a precaution against an escalation of the Syrian fighting into Turkey. Yet Ankara has been tirelessly complaining about the lack of the international community’s moral obligation to Syrians, while being dreadfully dependent on it, maybe more than ever, for the protection of its eastern borders — not only with the Assad regime, but potentially with Iraq and Iran as well. And not that all this cooperation has to be about military engagement, but Ankara needs the political support of the countries that it criticizes to keep things under control and to its benefit.

    The reason for this entire introduction is simply this: It’s more than likely now than ever that Ankara has been misreading the current developments in its neighborhood, and the making of the new world order.

    Like Henry Kissenger, Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish Foreign Minister, is also coming from academia — but it’s very likely that he is finding it way too difficult to admit that his academic theories actually has not been practically working on the ground — yet he keeps on dwelling in the same direction without any hope. Kissinger, a former secretary of state, was more practical in that sense.

    Take Davutoglu’s recent remarks on two consecutive days, March 3 and 4 — as an example. First he claims that Turkey for the first time has finally been back to the lands that were lost during the Ottoman times, and he suggests that it’s time for Turkey to take the lead to set an order for these lands and re-connect them once again — “Without going to war, we will again tie Sarajevo to Damascus, Benghazi to Erzurum and to Batumi.”

    Before continuing with his following remarks though, two quick observations need to be made. First, there is nothing against these cities or countries to feel against being connected to one another. The world is a village, and who ever likes to join hands and work together may do that. Therefore, his remarks as such invite questions as to whether he is proposing an alternative foreign policy, and what that means exactly. Second of all, it may not be the place of Turkey’s foreign minister to suggest that Sarajevo to be tied to Damascus — especially at a time like this, when Syria is drowning in an unfortunate civil war, one needs to wonder as to what the people of Sarajevo think about such a proposal!

    But, let’s not linger on that point and get lost in the conversation. After all, Davutoglu is wondering why people use an accusatory rhetoric, as if his policy suggestions mean to suggest the refurbishment of Ottoman era.

    Here is why in his own words: “Last century was only a parenthesis for us. We will close that parenthesis. We will do so without going to war, or calling anyone an enemy, without being disrespectful to any border, we will again tie Sarajevo to Damascus, Benghazi to Erzurum to Batumi. This is the core of our power,” he said. “These may look like all different countries to you, but Yemen and Skopje were part of the same country 110 years ago, or Erzurum and Benghazi. When we say this, they call it ‘new Ottomanism.’ The ones who united the whole Europe don’t become new Romans, but the ones who unite the Middle East geography are called as new Ottomanists. It’s an honor to be reminded with the names of Ottomans, Seljuks, Artuklu or Eyyubi, but we have never or will ever have our eye on anyone’s land based on a historic background.”

    On March 4, Davutoglu continued with his remarks: “The people who lived together throughout the history in this region were torn apart from each other in the last century; they grew distant from each other. Turkey was the central country at the time when borders were diminished, geography was divided, and economic spheres were separated. As if these are not enough, a new seed of division started to be planted in our country.”
    This new seed Davutoglu is referring to is the Kurdish nationalism that seeks some form of autonomy or recognition. He calls on everyone to grasp the importance of the moment, and be alert for those who might attempt to prevent Turkey from growing stronger as a country that has solved its Kurdish problem.

    “This current labor pain is the pain of gaining back that old historical nature. We have to get our act together both domestically and abroad. Surely, we have to first cure our own problem,” he says. “It’s time to think big. When I was an academician, I used to observe this country feeling scared of communism during winter, and division [of its land] during summer [i.e., creation of a Turkish Kurdistan]. It’s now time to solve our own problem. If this gets delayed, the traumas from the outside will inevitably play a negative impact on us, and that it will be likely that the opposite may also happen.”

    “What I have observed in foreign policy practice is that if you have a right reading, and presented a firm position, you may receive criticism in the first place, but you will get results in the mid- and long-term. What is important is to stand firm there. If you are confident of your policy, you should not give any concessions. What is important is not to be indecisive at a critical, decision-making moment.”

    Fair enough, but Turkey has not accomplished anything solid with Davutoglu’s policy except strengthening its trade ties with the Arab Muslim countries. That said, Europe still remains Turkey’s major trading partner. Yet for things where Turkey has put its political capital on the line in the region — whether siding with Hamas against Israel, or rallying the international community to use military force to end the Assad regime in Syria, it has not scored anything concrete to show as a Turkish victory. In that perspective, one has to ask — what happens if Davutoglu’s policies are actually wrong, and that his insistence on wrong policies exposes Turkey to new and unprecedented threats? Who would actually bear the responsibility for that?

    May he be humble enough to understand that he, or anyone else for that matter, won’t be able to bear the responsibility for it all when things get rough.

    It’s time for the Erdogan government to listen to the critics of its policies, and at the very least begin toning down these arrogant suggestions that Turkey be the core country for setting a new order for those once-Ottoman lands.

    That said, it may already be too late for Turkey to take a new direction.

    Tulin Daloglu is a columnist for Al-Monitor’s Turkey Pulse. She has written extensively for various Turkish and American publications, including The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, The Middle East Times, Foreign Policy, The Daily Star (Lebanon) and the SAIS Turkey Analyst Report. She also had a regular column at The Washington Times for almost four years. In the 2002 general election, Daloglu ran for a seat in the Turkish parliament as a member of the New Turkey Party.

    Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/03/turkey-davutologu-ottoman-new-order-mideast.html#ixzz2Nla4Rt7t

    Posted by Vanfield | March 17, 2013, 7:45 pm
  5. http://pjmedia.com/barryrubin/2013/04/18/turkeys-regime-fails-abroad-is-world-champion-at-fundamental-transformation-at-home/
    Turkey’s Regime Fails Abroad; Is World Champion at Fundamental Transformation at Home
    Barry Rubin April 18th, 2013 – 10:58 am

    A Turkish friend just wrote me that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sold his soul to the Devil. That implies Erdogan is succeeding on every front, as if by magic. More accurately, however, the trick is that Erdogan’s foreign policy is failing on almost every front but he’s able to convince Turks that the situation is the exact opposite.

    Let’s examine the list of developments in objective terms:

    –He has made no progress on membership or integration in the European Union. Similarly, his diplomatic efforts to ease relations with neighboring Armenia have borne no fruit.

    –Erdogan has thrown away the virtual alliance with Israel without gaining anything materially in the Arabic-speaking world. Although few seem to understand this point, it was not Israel that groveled in accepting Erdogan’s terms but the exact opposite.

    Remember that if the bully lies and the media gets it wrong that does not change reality. Erdogan swore not to back down on three issues but then accepted Israel’s position. Erdogan said: no deal without formal apology; payment of compensation; and end to all sanctions on Gaza. He then backed down. He then, of course, immediately, broke this commitment. That’s my point: defeat internationally coupled with boastful propaganda to make gains at home.

    The Syrian situation has a lot to do with this, as does—amazingly enough—a bit of U.S. pressure (see below), but also he had a new problem. As an Israeli diplomat explained:

    “Turkish export routes to the east used to go through Syria, to the East and to the Gulf. That’s not possible anymore. Turkish exports are shipped to the port of Haifa, where they’re loaded onto trucks, which cross Israel and then go to Jordan, and then from Jordan, they are shipped to the Gulf and to the East. Israel has now become a [pivotal] point for Turkish exports.”

    –Turkey had gained no real influence over the Palestinian Hamas and the Lebanese Hizballah groups on which he has lavished much attention.

    –In Syria, despite Turkey’s good relations with the dictatorship there, he has backed a rebellion in which he seemingly had great influence. But now Erdogan is clearly having second thoughts, becoming scared that he may have produced a Frankenstein’s monster, a radical Islamist state next door which might cause troubles for Turkey.

    –And now Turkey is bordered also by not one but two Kurdish “states.” While he has done well in keeping good relations with the Kurdish-governed district in northern Iraq, its flourishing existence must be worrisome to him, including its effect on Turkey’s own large Kurdish minority. And now there is a much more militant Kurdish statelet in Syria ruled by his old adversaries, the Kurdish Workers’ Party’s local branch. Erdogan does have a plan to deal with Syrian Kurdistan building on the Iraq model: good relations, regional autonomy, and no attacks from there against Turkey. Still, how certain can he be that there won’t be big problems?

    –Most important of all, perhaps, is that Erdogan’s attempt to gain wider leadership in the Middle East (called “neo-Ottomanism,” recalling Turkey’s pre-World War One empire in the region) has fallen flat on its face. While Erdogan stresses his Muslim credentials, nobody who speaks Arabic has forgotten that he isn’t one of them.

    –And now his love affair with President Barack Obama is on the rocks, at least temporarily. Erdogan’s level of anti-Israel and even antisemitic invective has risen so high and become so obvious that the U.S. government can no longer ignore it. For the first time, questions were raised about the great model Islamist in Washington. That was one of the key motives for the president’s effort to effect Israel-Turkey conciliation. As always, Erdogan has gone out of his way to be provocative. He told the Fifth UN Alliance of Civilizations meeting in Vienna, for example, that Zionism was a “crime against humanity.” Since such crimes should presumably be punished, this can be regarded as Erdogan calling for genocide against Israel and its residents.

    “Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it becomes unavoidable that Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity,” he alleged.

    It is also possible–and there is some evidence for this–that the U.S. government feels that Erdogan misled it on Syrian issues now that it has partly awakened to seeing that country about to go under radical Islamist rule. America followed Turkish advice and the result is advanced weapons in the hands of terrorists who may soon be running the country. I warned about this two years ago, but perhaps the U.S. government is a bit ticked off at being made to look like idiots and having gotten into a dangerous situation. Let’s also remember that Erdogan’s projected trip to the Gaza Strip would have disrupted U.S. “peacemaking” efforts and after talking to Obama, Erdogan backed off (but see below). And, finally, let’s remember that the whole Israel-Turkey rapprochement might still fall apart due to Erdogan and leave Obama and Kerry looking foolish.

    The problem is that since Erdogan has received U.S. praise and support as he has bashed U.S. interests he then doesn’t need to respect U.S. interests. Many or most Turks today can combine two seemingly discordant views: Obama and his government love Turkey’s government and views it as a friend; they themselves increasingly hate the United States and its goals.

    We will know more after Erdogan visits the White House on May 16. If that turns out to be another Obama-Erdogan love fest, more demonstration of the fact that Erdogan is Obama’s favorite Islamist, with no criticism in evidence despite all that the Turkish prime minister has done deliberately against U.S. interests, it would be safe to conclude that Erdogan owns the White House for the next three years. He will know that he can do anything he pleases.

    But there are few in Turkey who understand this list of losses. On the contrary, Erdogan has successfully sold the situation to them as one of tremendous success. They can be proud of their country’s return to international power and great respect, or at least so it seems. In this view, Turkey is acting in a properly Islamic manner, the Arabs love them, America recognizes their greatness (they can do whatever they want and the United States caves in), he made Israel apologize, and so on.

    On top of this, Turkey’s muscle-flexing boldness, anti-Americanism, and hostility to Israel pleases the left and the nationalist right; his Islamic policy pleases the pious. As a result, Erdogan enjoys the support of a strong majority.

    Consequently, Erdogan is the world’s most successful leader in fundamentally transforming his country. Step by step, he is seizing all of the country’s institutions for Islamism. Graduates of Islamic schools, who have now been given parity with university graduates, are flooding into the state bureaucracy.

    The army’s political power has been broken and Islamists are now going into the officer corps. The media has largely—but not completely—been bought up and intimidated. Only the judiciary remains. The economy is doing reasonably well.

    In this context, Erdogan increasingly appears to be a dictator who is building a cult of personality. Everywhere there are signs claiming that Erdogan “gave” the people whatever public works’ project or new school exists in the vicinity. His situation is comparable to Russia’s dictator (in everything but name) Vladimir Putin.

    Here’s a case study, the Israel-Turkey agreement on resolving the dispute over the Gaza flotilla. Under pressure from President Barack Obama, Erdogan agreed to Israel’s terms while pretending that this was a great victory for himself. Yet there is increasing reason to believe that the Turkish government will NOT implement its draft agreement with Israel. There are two factors involved here. First, Erdogan, as usual, is overreaching abroad, getting nothing because he tried to get too much. Second, though, Erdogan doesn’t care because his real intended audience is domestic, using the flotilla aftermath to stir up hatred against Israel and now claiming he has forced Israel to surrender in what constitutes a great victory for Turkey. What Israel’s conciliatory behavior actually did was to expose the Turkish regime’s bad faith, showing that it is impossible to deal with it, an experience comprehended now in Washington for the first time.

    Now Erdogan has vetoed Israel’s participation in NATO maneuvers and Erdogan says he won’t send back his ambassador unless Israel stops all sanctions against the Gaza Strip. He knows that this demand will kill the deal. Yet at home he can claim to be the champion of Muslims and of Palestinians. That domestic propaganda is all that counts for him. Similarly, after agreeing to postpone his provocative trip to the Gaza Strip Erdogan then merely rescheduled it for May. And on top of that, Erdogan then announced he would (for the first time) send an ambassador to Palestine even when refusing to send an ambassador back to Israel. Once again, he threw a pie in Obama’s face.

    Why does this make sense? Again, because he doesn’t care about the international implications but only domestic political bragging rights. Moreover, none of his antics materially hurt Israel but–note this well–there are some interesting ways in which Erdogan is going to lose by forfeiting Israel’s cooperation.

    Meanwhile, the West, especially the mass media, has not yet quite caught on to the fact that the Turkey of Kemal Ataturk, the secular republic, is gone. Massive rural migration to the cities has created a wave of traditional behavior that has been funneled and retrained as Islamism. Turkey has also become an increasingly repressive state where journalists tremble, critics may be thrown into jail on trumped-up charges, and a cultural revolution to reverse Ataturk’s reforms is far advanced. Erdogan’s greatest achievement in terms of the international scene is that by his maneuvers and Obama’s approval, he has made the world uninterested in the escalating repression in Turkey including ridiculous Stalinist-style show trials of dissidents. The latest event is the sentencing of an internationally famous Turkish concert pianist to ten months’ imprisonment for tweets “insulting” Islam and a court decision claiming a 700-year-old church was illegally run as a state museum making possible its conversion into a mosque.

    Thus, Erdogan has put together a winning combination: fake victories abroad; repression, seizing institutions, and mobilizing support through patriotism and Islam at home.

    If you are interested in reading more about Turkey’s history—during World War Two–you’re welcome to read my book Istanbul Intrigues online for free.

    Posted by Vanfield | April 27, 2013, 10:47 pm
  6. Germany was a major supporter of the Ottoman Empire, in terms of loans, arms and military training. Many of the Ottoman general staff was trained in Germany, as was Enver Pasha.

    http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3728/germany-new-ottoman-empire

    The U.S. Helps Reconstruct the Ottoman Empire

    by Robert E. Kaplan
    May 29, 2013 at 5:00 am

    Each of these United States military interventions occurred in an area that had been part of the Ottoman Empire, and where a secular regime was replaced by an Islamist one. So far, the German policy of keeping hidden its leadership role in its attempt to reconstitute the Ottoman Empire has succeeded.

    Since the mid-1990s the United States has intervened militarily in several internal armed conflicts in Europe and the Middle East: bombing Serbs and Serbia in support of Izetbegovic’s Moslem Regime in Bosnia in 1995, bombing Serbs and Serbia in support of KLA Moslems of Kosovo in 1999, bombing Libya’s Gaddafi regime in support of rebels in 2010. Each intervention was justified to Americans as motivated by humanitarian concerns: to protect Bosnian Moslems from genocidal Serbs, to protect Kosovo Moslems from genocidal Serbs, and to protect Libyans from their murderous dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

    Other reasons for these interventions were also offered: to gain for the United States a strategic foothold in the Balkans, to defeat communism in Yugoslavia, to demonstrate to the world’s Moslems that the United States is not anti-Moslem, to redefine the role of NATO in the post-Cold War era, among others.

    Each of these United States military interventions occurred in an area that had been part of the Ottoman Empire. In each, a secular regime was ultimately replaced by an Islamist one favoring sharia law and the creation of a world-wide Caliphate. The countries that experienced the “Arab Spring” of the 2010s without the help of American military intervention, Tunisia and Egypt, had also been part of the Ottoman Empire, and also ended up with Islamist regimes.

    In the United States most discussions of the military conflicts of the 1990s in the Balkans and the “Arab Spring” of the 2010s do not mention that the areas involved had been part of the Ottoman Empire; these included Turkey, the Moslem-populated areas around the Mediterranean, Iraq, the coastal regions of the Arabian Peninsula and parts of the Balkans. In the areas that experienced the Arab Spring Turkey’s role in every instance has been to support the rebels and quickly recognize them as the legitimate government of the country in upheaval.

    Turkish leaders do make the connection between the conflicts in the Bosnia, the “Arab Spring” and the Ottoman Empire. Harold Rhode, an American expert on Turkey, has reported:

    [President of Turkey] Erdogan’s recent [2011] electoral victory speech puts his true intentions regarding Turkey’s foreign policy goals in perspective. He said that this victory is as important in Ankara as it is in the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sarajevo, under Ottoman times, an important Ottoman city; that his party’s victory was as important in a large Turkish city Izmir, on the Western Anatolian coast, as it is in Damascus, and as important in Istanbul as it is in Jerusalem….

    In saying that this victory is as important in all of these former Ottoman cities, Erdogan apparently sees himself as trying to reclaim Turkey’s full Ottoman past.

    The occurrence that since 1990 each European and Middle Eastern country that experienced American military intervention in an internal military conflict or an “Arab Spring” has ended up with a government dominated by Islamists of the Moslem Brotherhood or al-Qaeda variety fits nicely with the idea that these events represent a return to Ottoman rule. Besides being a political empire ruling a territory and its population, the Ottoman Empire claimed to be a Caliphate with spiritual suzerainty over all Moslems – those within its borders and those beyond. Though it might seem strange at first, the idea of advancing the renewal of the Ottoman Empire on two tracks – breaking down the post-Ottoman political structure and promoting a Caliphate which Islamists say they long for – is really quite reasonable.

    Just as the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s and the “Arab Spring” of the 2010s considered in historical perspective suggests that Turkey might be attempting to recreate its former empire, consideration of the Turkish Empire in historical perspective suggests the possible partnership of Germany with Turkey in the project given that, from its creation in 1870, Germany viewed Turkey with its empire as a most valuable client and ally. In the view of the leaders of Germany, Turkey was controllable through a combination of economic intercourse, gifts of educational opportunities, provision of technical expertise and administrative aid, as well as bribes to Turkish officials. Germany saw influence over Turkey as a means of influencing Moslems worldwide for its own interests. Thus as the German scholar Wolfgang Schwanitz has shown, during World War I Germany employed the Turkish Caliphate to promote jihad – riot and rebellion – in areas where Moslem populations were ruled by its enemies Russia, France, Britain and Serbia.

    Yet in the 50-odd articles collected in an exploration of the awareness on the part of Americans of a possible Turkish connection with the “Arab Spring,” I found not a single mention of “Germany.” Only from a link in one of those articles – to an article on the International Criminal Court (ICC) which, with its indictment of Muammar Gaddafi and issue of a warrant for his arrest, provided the “legal” basis legitimizing NATO’s bombing of Libya — which gave the rebels their victory and ended the Gaddafi regime – did I find mention of Germany. From that article, “A Lawless Global Court” by John Rosenthal (Policy Review Feb. 1. 2004 No.123), one learns that the ICC is a project initiated, promoted and, to a considerable extent, funded by Germany. Given this, the idea that the ICC serves Germany’s purposes is common sense. Through the ICC connection, Germany’s promotion of the “Arab Spring” is clear. Yet it is never or almost never mentioned. This silence calls for explanation.

    Later, I did come across an explicit reference to Germany’s role in it — specifically in the war against the Assad regime in Syria — in John Rosenthal’s article “German Intelligence: al-Qaeda all over Syria” in the online Asia Times ­­­­­­­­­­­­ — which reports that the German government supports the rebels and their political arm, the Syrian National Council (SNC), against Assad; that the German government classified [made secret] “by reason of national interest” the contents of several BND (German foreign intelligence) reports that the May 25, 2012 massacre of civilians in the Syrian town of Houla, for which Assad has been blamed, was in fact perpetrated by rebel forces; and that “the German foreign office is working with representatives of the Syrian opposition to develop ‘concrete plans’ for a ‘political transition’ in Syria after the fall of Assad.” So far the German policy of keeping hidden its leadership role in the attempt to reconstitute the Ottoman Empire seems to have succeeded.

    Each U. S. military action in Europe and the Middle East since 1990, however, with the exception of Iraq, has followed an overt pattern: First there is an armed conflict within the country where the intervention will take place. American news media heavily report this conflict. The “good guys” in the story are the rebels. The “bad guys,” to be attacked by American military force, are brutally anti-democratic, and committers of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Prestigious public figures, NGOs, judicial and quasi-judicial bodies and international organizations call for supporting the rebels and attacking the regime. Next, the American president orders American logistical support and arms supplies for the rebels. Finally the American president orders military attack under the auspices of NATO in support of the rebels. The attack usually consists of aerial bombing, today’s equivalent of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries’ gunboat which could attack coastal cities of militarily weak countries without fear of retaliation. The ultimate outcome of each American intervention is the replacement of a secular government with an Islamist regime in an area that had been part of the Ottoman Empire.

    Why the government of the United States would actively promote German aims — the destruction of Yugoslavia (both World Wars I and II saw Germany invade Serbia) and the re-creation of the Ottoman Empire — is a question that needs to be answered.

    Robert E. Kaplan is an historian, doctorate from Cornell University, specializing in modern Europe.

    Posted by Vanfield | May 29, 2013, 10:10 am
  7. @Vanfield–

    In a word, “Bravo!”

    After the temporary link to FTR #750 expires (5/30/2013) this will be featured in a post.

    Note that this Cornell University professor is identifying PRECISELY the same dynamic that I’ve been working on and refining for many, many years.

    The German hand inside the American glove, wielded on behalf of the Islamists at one level, and the Underground Reich at another.

    The Boston bombing and the dual policy vis a vis the Earth Island, the Caucasus, Russia and China must be seen against this background.

    I’ve been doing my utmost to illustrate this for a long time.

    Looks like some others are starting to see this as well.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | May 29, 2013, 5:25 pm
  8. Thanks for the kind words Dave.

    Here is some more fun and games.

    http://www.clarionproject.org/analysis/turkey-stakes-claim-america-100-million-mega-mosque

    Turkey Stakes Claim in America With $100 Million Mega-Mosque
    The building of this center takes Turkey’s “outreach” in America out of the realm of the subtle.
    By Ryan Mauro

    The government of Turkey is building a 15-acre, $100 million mega-mosque in Lanham, Maryland. Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan visited the site on May 15 as part of his official visit to the U.S.. The state of Maryland was officially represented at the event by its Secretary of State John McDonough.

    The event was also attended by the leaders of two U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entities.

    The mega-mosque is called the Turkish American Culture and Civilization Center and, according to the Muslim Link, it “will likely become the largest and most striking examples of Islamic architecture in the western hemisphere” when it is finished in 2014. The Muslim Link explicitly says it is “a project of the government of Turkey.”

    On May 15, Prime Minister Erdogan spoke to hundreds of people at the construction site and said he’d come back for the opening ceremony next year. He warned the audience that there are groups promoting “Islamophobia,” branding potential critics as paranoid bigots. Erdogan recently said that “Islamophobia” and Zionism are equivalent to fascism and anti-Semitism, saying they are a “crime against humanity.”

    On this trip to the U.S., Erdogan brought the father of one of the Islamists killed while on a Turkish flotilla which was trying to break Israel’s weapons blockade on Gaza. Gaza is controlled by Hamas, which is a designated terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. Erdogan reportedly wanted to him to meet President Obama. (In the end, the father met with Secretary of State John Kerry.)

    The leaders of two U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entities in attendance included Naeem Baig, is the president of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). A 1991 U.S. Muslim Brotherhood memo lists ICNA as one of “our organizations and the organizations of our friends.” The memo says its “work in America is “a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within.” The memo even refers to meetings with ICNA where there was talk about a merger.

    ICNA is also linked to the Pakistani Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami and its conferences feature radical speakers. A former ICNA president was recently indicted for horrific war crimes committed during Bangladesh’s 1971 succession from Pakistan – the torture and murder or 18 political opponents.

    The second official from a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity that attended the event was Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). ISNA and several of its components are listed as U.S. Muslim Brotherhood fronts in the same 1991 Brotherhood memo. ISNA was also an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case, dubbed the largest Islamic terror-funding trial in the history of the U.S. Federal prosecutors in the case also listed ISNA as a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity.

    The Turkish government has been quietly spreading its influence in the U.S., but Erdogan’s public invovlement in the building of this center takes Turkey’s “outreach” in America out of the realm of the subtle.

    The Clarion Project recently reported on the growing ties between the Turkish government and Native American tribes. With Congress’ help, thousands of Turkish contractors and their families may be flooding into America’s heartland and settling in semi-autonomous zones of the Native Americans, well out of the reach of American authorities.

    The Clarion Project also reported on the Turkish Fethullah Gulen school network in America, which is currently under FBI investigation. The network is the largest charter school network in America. It is the same network that has been a critical component in Turkey’s on-going transformation from a secular democracy into an Islamic state.

    Erdogan and his Islamist government calls Hamas a “resistance” group, despite the fact that Hamas specifically targets Israeli civilians with suicide bombings and rocket attacks. Not surprisingly, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal is a big admirer of Erdogan.

    Since taking office in 2003, Erdogan has been implementing his Islamist agenda, slowly but steadily changing Turkey from a secular democracy to an Islamist state: College admissions have been changed to favor religious students, the military has been gutted of its secular generals (with one in five generals currently in prison on dubious charges) and women have been routed out of top government jobs. Honor killings in Turkey increased 1,400 percent between 2002 and 2009. Persecution of artists and journalists has become commonplace as opponents are charged with “crimes” like “denigrating Islam” and “denigrading the state.”

    According to the Muslim Link, the new center will have five buildings, including a mosque “constructed using sixteenth century Ottoman architecture that can hold 750 worshipers.”

    The Turkish American Culture and Civilization Center will be the largest Islamic site in the Western Hemisphere. The fact that it is being built by the government of Turkey represents the next step in Erdogan’s desire to increase the Islamist influence in America.

    Posted by Vanfield | May 29, 2013, 7:58 pm
  9. http://www.investigativeproject.org/4098/bangladesh-war-crimes-trial-proceeds-without-icna

    Bangladesh War Crimes Trial Proceeds Without ICNA Official

    IPT News
    July 24, 2013

    In the United States, Ashrafuzzaman Khan ostensibly is a respected Muslim cleric, president of the Imams of America association and past secretary general of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA).

    In Bangladesh, a court is hearing evidence alleging that Khan is a war criminal, someone who helped draft a list of intellectuals who would later be kidnapped and killed in the final days of the 1971 war of liberation against Pakistan.

    Khan, 65, is being tried in absentia. Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal ruled last month that “there are sufficient and substantial materials” to warrant proceeding to trial against him on 11 war crimes counts.

    He remains on the executive board of ICNA’s New York chapter and has not commented publicly on the allegations. He is being tried along with Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, a prominent imam in the United Kingdom who helped create the Muslim Council of Britain.

    The two are accused of leading a killing squad called Al-Badar, which was an offshoot of the Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami. The Islamists supported Pakistan during the war. As many as 3 million people died in battle for independence and millions more sought refuge in neighboring India. In its final days in December 1971, dozens of intellectuals – journalists, doctors, professors and others – were systematically rounded up. They were taken from their homes at gunpoint and later found in a mass grave. In some cases, the charging papers say, the bodies were never recovered.

    “Al-Badar acted as ‘killing squad’, in furtherance of plan and policy of Pakistani occupation army,” the Tribunal’s prosecution wrote. Khan was the “‘chief executor’ of Al-Badar to the accomplishment of the barbaric crimes, in furtherance of common plan and design, with intent to paralyze the Bengali nation.”

    Britain’s Channel 4 broadcast a documentary on Bangladesh’s war of independence and the resulting atrocities which can be seen here.

    Khan allegedly was on a central committee for the Jamaat-e-Islami’s student wing, called Islami Chatra Sangha. The names of many victims were found in a diary found in Khan’s home after he fled the country.

    Khan’s court-appointed attorney denies the charges, saying the Pakistani army was responsible for the killings and that Khan was never in Al-Badar.

    So far, three witnesses have placed Khan at the scene of abductions:

    1. Masuda Banu Ratna – whose uncle Giasuddin Ahmed was taken at gunpoint from Dhaka University – said she knew Khan and Mueen-Uddin from student political activities and recognized them when they came for her uncle. His body was found three weeks later, dumped in a mass grave.

    2. Enamul Huq Khan testified that his father, a history professor, was taken from their home by a handful of men at gunpoint. He said he later was told by a man who was driving the Al-Badar squad around that Khan pulled the trigger and killed his father. He didn’t know Khan at the time, but said he recognized him the following year when a newspaper published pictures of Khan and Mueen-Uddin with a caption “help to capture the killers.”

    3. The son of slain journalist Selina Parvin said Mueen-Uddin and Khan were among those who took her away from their home on Dec. 13, 1971.

    The Tribunal has faced some criticism, and its rulings sparked violent protests led by Jamaat-e-Islami. More than 80 people died after the Tribunal sentenced Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Sayeedi to death in March.

    Talk of Khan being charged has circulated for years. A report also indicated that the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations was investigating Khan to determine if he failed to mention his activities when he applied for U.S. residency and naturalization.

    ICNA, the organization he led, was founded by South Asian Muslims. Its constitution draws heavily from the Jamaat-e-Islami and its curriculum emphasizes writings by Jamaat founder Syed Abul Ala Maududi. Maududi advocated that Muslims “must strive to change the wrong basis of government, and seize all powers to rule and make laws from those who do not fear God.”

    Khan offered a similar sentiment in greeting people to ICNA’s 1999 convention. Muslims, he wrote in the convention program, “have a culture and civilization which once ruled the world and still has the viability to rule the world again.”

    Khan has not publicly addressed the charges against him and ICNA has not commented since last month’s charges were accepted. In a March statement, it dismissed the tribunal’s existence as a purely political effort “to silence opposition figures” and said its actions amount to human rights violations. Mueen-Uddin has posted a statement denying all the charges against him and ridiculing the Tribunal.

    It is unclear what happens if Khan is convicted. The United States has no extradition treaty with Bangladesh, and U.S. Ambassador for Global Justice Stephen J. Rapp has been among those taking issue with some of the Tribunal’s standards. If the United States is satisfied with the evidence, or even if it can be proven that Khan was a part of Al-Badar and failed to disclose that fact on immigration papers, his interaction with the courts may be just beginning.

    Posted by Vanfield | September 10, 2013, 11:33 am

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