With His Electoral Victory, Erdogan Is Set to Turn Turkey into the Global Leader of Islamic Extremism

June 27 2018

Having claimed a victory in Sunday’s presidential election, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now entering his new term with the presidency’s powers enhanced by recent constitutional changes. Michael Rubin urges Washington to reconsider its historically friendly relationship with Ankara, and warns of the dangerous influence Turkey is trying to gain in the Middle East and beyond:

The partnership between Washington and Ankara was never arbitrary; it rested on shared values. The values the Turkish government now holds, however, are the antithesis of American democratic and liberal values. Erdogan has cracked down on the free press, imprisoned opponents, and engaged in hostage diplomacy. He unapologetically supports Islamist terrorist groups and threatens to betray U.S. military technology to Russia. . . .

The real problem with Turkey is not its relationship with the United States, however, but rather its relations with the world. Consider the case of Saudi Arabia: it grew tremendously wealthy in the 1970s on the back of the petrodollar and used that money to spread its intolerant and extreme vision of Islam around the world. . . . Saudi money, Saudi nongovernmental organizations, and Saudi-funded mosques are responsible for hundreds of thousands, if not more, deaths in conflicts from Paris to the Philippines and from Syria to Somalia.

That began to change not in the aftermath of the attacks on New York and Washington, but rather when al-Qaeda terrorists attacked inside Saudi Arabia itself. The Saudis quickly understood the blowback they risked. After all, al-Qaeda essentially follows a theology and worldview taught in Saudi textbooks. The kingdom could no longer ensure its own security by ensuring that its militants focused their efforts on conflicts beyond its borders. . . . [A]s Saudi Arabia pulls back from its past role as the number-one financier of religious radicalism, Turkey may take its place. . . .

Had Erdogan sought to control his border [with Syria], Islamic State [might] never have seized the territory it did. While Erdogan has justified his incursion into the Afrin district in Syria as necessary for counterterrorism, he has allowed radical Syrian Islamist groups to fill the vacuum left by largely secular Kurds ethnically cleansed from the region. Turkey is also reaching out and using its imams to proselytize a more radical vision among Muslims in Africa; a leaked phone call suggests it may even have supplied arms to Boko Haram. Turkey’s new Islamist drive also determines its growing relationship with Sudan, Qatar, and the Hamas-run administration of the Gaza Strip.

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Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Politics & Current Affairs, Radical Islam, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, U.S. Foreign policy

Why the Recent Uptick of Israeli Activity in Syria?

Sept. 23 2022

On September 16 and 17, the IDF carried out airstrikes in the vicinity of Damascus, reportedly aimed at Iranian logistical centers there. These follow on an increase in the frequency of such attacks in recent weeks, which have included strikes on the Aleppo airport on August 31 and September 6. Jonathan Spyer comments:

The specific targeting of the Aleppo airport is almost certainly related to recent indications that Iran is relying increasingly on its “air bridge” to Syria and Lebanon, because of Israel’s successful and systematic targeting of efforts to move weaponry and equipment by land [via Iraq]. But the increased tempo of activity is not solely related to the specific issue of greater use of air transport by Teheran. Rather, it is part of a broader picture of increasing regional tension. There are a number of factors that contribute to this emergent picture.

Firstly, Russia appears to be pulling back in Syria. . . . There are no prospects for a complete Russian withdrawal. The air base at Khmeimim and the naval facilities at Tartus and Latakia are hard strategic assets which will be maintained. The maintenance of Assad’s rule is also a clear objective for Moscow. But beyond this, the Russians are busy now with a flailing, faltering military campaign in Ukraine. Moscow lacks the capacity for two close strategic engagements at once.

Secondly, assuming that some last-minute twist does not occur, it now looks like a return to the [2015 nuclear deal] is not imminent. In the absence of any diplomatic process related to the Iranian nuclear program, and given Israeli determination to roll back Iran’s regional ambitions, confrontation becomes more likely.

Lastly, it is important to note that the uptick in Israeli activity is clearly not related to Syria alone. Rather, it is part of a more general broadening and deepening by Israel in recent months of its assertive posture toward the full gamut of Iranian activity in the region. . . . The increasing scope and boldness of Israeli air activity in Syria reflects this changing of the season.

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Read more at Jonathan Spyer

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria, War in Ukraine