How Turkey Fans the Flames on the Temple Mount

June 16 2020

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

How the U.S. Is Financing Bashar al-Assad

Due to a long history of supporting terrorism and having waged a brutal and devastating war on its own people, the Syrian regime is subject to numerous U.S. sanctions. But that doesn’t stop American tax dollars from going to President Bashar al-Assad and his cronies, via the United Nations. David Adesnik explains:

UN agencies have spent $95.5 million over the past eight years to house their staff at the Four Seasons Damascus, including $14.2 million last year. New Yorkers know good hotel rooms don’t come cheap, but the real problem in Damascus is that the Four Seasons’ owners are the Assad regime itself and one of the war profiteers who manages the regime’s finances.

The hotel would likely go under if not for UN business; Damascus is not a tourist destination these days. The UN claims keeping its staff at the Four Seasons is about keeping them safe. Yet there has been little fighting in Damascus since 2017. A former UN diplomat with experience in the Syrian capital told me the regime tells UN agencies it can only guarantee the safety of their staff if they stay at the Four Seasons.

What makes the Four Seasons debacle especially galling is that it’s been public knowledge for seven years, and the UN has done nothing about it—or the many other ways the regime siphons off aid for its own benefit. One of the most lucrative is manipulating exchange rates. . . . One of Washington’s top experts on humanitarian aid crunched the numbers and concluded the UN lost $100 million over eighteen months to this kind of rate-fixing.

What the United States and its allies should do is make clear to the UN they will turn off the spigot if the body doesn’t get its act together.

Read more at New York Post

More about: Bashar al-Assad, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, United Nations