How Turkey Fans the Flames on the Temple Mount

In recent years, much anti-Israel agitation among Palestinians, and among Arab Israelis, has been provoked by false rumors that the Jewish state has plans to destroy, or to ban worshippers from, Muslim holy places on the Temple Mount. Behind much of this malicious propaganda is not only the Palestinian Authority itself, but also the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, an illegal Israel-based group affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Nadav Shragai shows how Turkey has increasingly involved itself in supporting these efforts, and in establishing its influence over Islamic institutions in Jerusalem:

Under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey regards itself as the representative of Muslim civilization, and Erdogan sees himself as the partner, patron, and protector of the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the Muslim world. His Islamic Justice and Development Party is close to the Muslim Brotherhood in its outlook. It seeks to reestablish Turkish influence in areas that in the past were part of the Ottoman empire. [In speeches], Erdogan has linked [this] distant vision of the caliphate with his current, central concern for Palestine, Jerusalem, and the al-Aqsa Mosque.

“Every day that Jerusalem is under occupation,” Erdogan has asserted more than once, “is an insult to us.” In the summer of 2017, he called to conquer Jerusalem by means of a mass influx of Muslim tourists to Israel, and over the years, he has indeed taken the trouble himself to encourage hundreds of thousands from Turkey to visit the al-Aqsa Mosque. His partner in Israel, [the Northern Branch’s leader Raed] Salah, meanwhile promoted the project of transporting large numbers of Israeli Arabs to al-Aqsa as well as the activity of the Murabitun and Murabitat, [respectively, male and female agitators on the Tempe Mount].

They have been busy there daily for several years as a result of a well-planned and organized initiative. The women and men taking part received a monthly salary for their activity on the Mount, were brought there free of charge on chartered buses, and were supplied with food and drink.

Shragai explains that, behind these activities, which have repeatedly led to violence, is a “symbiosis” between Turkey and the Northern Branch.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Islamic Movement, Jerusalem, Muslim Brotherhood, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Temple Mount, Turkey

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy