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Israeli attempts to tax churches opposed
Arab News/February 2018 /AMMAN: Church leaders and lawyers have reacted angrily to news of Israeli attempts to charge municipal taxes on church properties in Jerusalem.
According to a report from Agence France-Presse (AFP), Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat has decided to change a policy applied to churches in Jerusalem since 1967. The AFP report says the Jerusalem Municipality informed the Ministry of Finance and the Prime Minister’s Office that it is demanding that church and international institutions pay municipal taxes on properties owned by them. It is estimated that the municipality is demanding 650 million shekels ($191 million) from the new policy from churches and international agencies that have previously been exempt from paying such taxes.
Rif’at Bader, director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Amman, told Arab News that the issue is not new, but that the timing is curious and seems linked to political, rather than economic, reasoning. “It comes after the churches in Jerusalem took a strong stand against the US president’s declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and after they refused to meet with the visiting vice president Mike Pence,” he said. Wadia Abu Nassar, adviser to the Assembly of Catholic Bishops in the Holy Land, told Arab News that the municipality had not discussed the issue with church leaders. “No one has been contacted on it,” he said. “This is an idea from some of the Jerusalem municipality council members.”Nassar said that the Vatican and Israel have been discussing various municipal issues since 1993, and claimed there is an agreement between the two parties that no changes would be made to the status quo until those talks were concluded. The Eastern Orthodox Archbishop of Sebastia, Atallah Hanna, told reporters in Jerusalem that the tax initiative is part of a campaign to empty Jerusalem of its remaining Christians. “At a time when Israel is targeting our endowments in various illegal and crooked ways, now they are using the lever of high taxes against our churches, convents and institutions in Jerusalem with the aim of emptying the old city of Jerusalem of its Christians and to marginalize the Christian presence in Jerusalem,” he said. Atallah pointed out that churches existed in Jerusalem long before the creation of the state of Israel. “Some of our churches go back to the fourth and fifth century AD,” he said. “The tradition has always been to exempt the churches and their properties from taxes. This was the case during the British mandate, during the Jordanian rule, and even as far back as the Ottoman period.”Botrus Mansour, a Nazareth-based lawyer and general director of an evangelical school, told Arab News that Israel must treat all faiths equally if they wish to begin imposing taxes. “The ultra-orthodox Jewish organizations enjoy a wide range of privileges and tax exemptions,” he said. “The minute they treat all religious institutions of all faiths equally then they are entitled to implement this law on Christians.”
Five Turkish soldiers killed in attack on tank in Syria’s Afrin
Reuters, Istanbul/February 04/2018/Five Turkish soldiers were killed when their tank was hit in an attack carried out by Kurdish YPG militia fighters on Saturday in northwest Syria’s Afrin region, Turkey’s armed forces said. According to state-run Anadolu news agency, the latest attack brought to seven the number of Turkish soldiers killed on Saturday in Operation Olive Branch, which Turkey launched against the YPG in Afrin last month. This comes just hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that the military operation in Afrin is about to end. His statement comes after Turkish forces gained control of the strategic mount-Darmak in Afrin, Syria. According to Anadolu news agency, the forces reportedly raised the Turkish flag at its peak.:15
Aircraft attack civilian convoy on Syrian highway, at least seven killed
Reuters, Amman/3 February 2018/Warplanes have hit a convoy of civilians fleeing along a major Syrian highway, rescuers and a witness said on Saturday. It took place in an area where Syrian and Iranian-backed troops were pushing, with air cover, towards a rebel-held town in northwestern Idlib province, they said.Syrian soldiers and Iranian-backed militiamen were now around 12 km from Saraqeb, advancing towards the Damascus-Aleppo highway under cover of heavy Russian air strikes, two opposition sources said. Rescuers said at least seven civilians were pulled out of the wreckage of cars after the air strikes on Friday. "We believe two Russian planes struck the convoy of civilians on the highway and left at least seven killed and 12 injured, mostly elderly and children," said Ammar al Adnan, a civil defence worker from Saraqeb.
Activists' videos on social media showed rescuers extinguishing fires on the route, used by thousands of villagers fleeing areas south of Aleppo now overrun by the Syrian army and its allies.Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the footage.A Syrian monitoring group and the media arm of al-Qaida-linked militants are reporting intense airstrikes on a rebel-held stronghold in Syria's northwest. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported more than 35 airstrikes on Saraqeb since late Friday, adding that many of its residents are fleeing.The Ibaa News Agency of the al-Qaida-linked Levant Liberation Committee, said Russian and Syrian warplanes and helicopter gunships have been pounding Saraqeb and Tel Mardeekh village in Idlib province since the early hours of Saturday. Syrian government forces and their allies pushed into Idlib, an opposition stronghold, inching closer to a key highway that connects Syria's two largest cities, Damascus and Aleppo. The UN says more than 270,000 have been displaced in Idlib because of the government onslaught since December 15. Russia's defense ministry regularly says it is attacking hardline Islamist militants. It denies opposition and witness accounts that its planes target civilians, market places, medical centers and residential areas away from frontlines. Syrian media made no mention of the strikes.
Syrian army offensive
A major Syrian army offensive, begun earlier this year in southern Aleppo and eastern Idlib, has allowed it to take control of a large amount of territory from rebel forces. The advances have caused an exodus of thousands of civilians to the relative safety of territory further north towards the Turkish border.
Air raids have struck several cave hospitals and exacerbated a refugee crisis along the Turkish frontier, where camps now house tens thousands of displaced people. The army confirmed new gains on Saturday, saying it had seized a string of villages from al Qaeda fighters, state television said, quoting a military source.
Russian pilot ‘killed in fighting’ after plane downed in Syria
Al Arabiya English and AFP/February 2018 /Russian pilot was killed in Syria on Saturday after parachuting into rebel-held territory when his plane was shot down, the Defense Ministry said.“A Russian Su-25 aircraft crashed during a flight over the Idlib de-escalation zone. The pilot had enough time to announce he had ejected into the zone, under the control of al-Nusra Front fighters,” the ministry said, quoted by Russian press agencies. “The pilot was killed in fighting against terrorists.”It added that “according to preliminary reports, the plane was shot down by a portable anti-aircraft missile system.”The Russian army claimed it had killed “more than 30 al-Nusra Front fighters” during a strike with “high-precision weapons” in the area where the plane was shot down. The region where the plane crashed is controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist outfit dominated by Al-Qaeda’s former Syrian affiliate. Forces supporting president Bashar al-Assad’s regime, backed by Russia, launched an offensive at the end of December to recapture the southeastern province of Idlib, the last enclave completely out of Damascus’s control. Opposition groups have in the past shot down Syrian planes, but rarely those of the Russian army.
In August 2016, five Russian soldiers were killed after their helicopter was shot down by rebel groups in Idlib. In November 2015, Turkey shot down a Russian military aircraft, which caused a diplomatic crisis between Moscow and Ankara.
Police: Extreme-right gunman shoots 6 Africans in Italy
AP/Arab News/February 2018/MILAN: An Italian gunman with extreme right-wing sympathies shot and wounded six African immigrants Saturday in a two-hour drive-by shooting spree, authorities said, terrorizing a small Italian city where a Nigerian man had been arrested days earlier in a teenager’s gruesome killing. Police photos showed the shooting suspect with a neo-Nazi tattoo prominently on his forehead as he sat in custody and an Italian flag tied around his neck as he was arrested in the central Italian city of Macerata,. Authorities identified him as Luca Traini, a 28-year-old Italian with no previous record.
Traini had run for town council on the anti-migrant Northern League’s list in a local election last year in Corridonia, the party confirmed, but its mayoral candidate lost the race. The news agency ANSA quoted friends of his as saying that Traini had previously been affiliated with Italian extremist parties like the neo-fascist Forza Nuova and CasaPound.
The shooting spree came days after the slaying of 18-year-old Pamela Mastropietro and amid a heated electoral campaign in Italy where anti-foreigner sentiment has become a key theme. Italy has struggled with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants in the last few years coming across the Mediterranean Sea in smugglers’ boats. After the attack, Premier Paolo Gentiloni warned in Rome that “the state will be particularly severe against whoever thinks of feeding the spiral of violence.”
In Macerata, Interior Minister Marco Minniti said the gunman had been motivated “by racial hatred,” and had “a background of right-wing extremism with clear references to fascism and Nazism.” “What happened appears to be a completely random armed retaliation raid,” Minniti said, adding that evidence indicated that while the gunman had planned the attack, he had acted alone. “In a democracy, it is not permitted for individuals to seek justice alone, even if in this case, there is nothing that recalls a notion of justice.”Authorities said the six wounded — five men and one woman — appeared to be random targets in various parts of the city of 43,000 in Italy’s central Marche region. Italian news reports indicated that the gunman’s trajectory included the area where the Italian murder victim was found and where the prime suspect in her slaying lived. The identities and nationalities of the shooting victims remained unknown. Hospital officials said late Saturday that one had been treated and released, while the others had either undergone surgery or were facing operations for their injuries. One of them remained in intensive care. As the violent attack unfolded, police told residents to stay inside and ordered a halt to public transport to limit the casualties. Such violent shootings are rare in Italy, and usually associated with the southern Italian mafia.
A video posted by the il Resto di Carlino newspaper showed the suspect with an Italian flag draped over his shoulders being arrested by armed Carabinieri officers in the city center, near where he apparently fled his car on foot. Italian news reports said a registered gun was found inside the car and the suspect did a fascist salute as he was arrested, but no salute was visible in the video. The tattoo on Traini’s forehead was that of the Wolfangel, an ancient runic symbol that according to the Anti-Defamation League was appropriated by Nazi Germany and later adopted by neo-Nazis in Europe and the United States.Macerata Mayor Romano Carancini confirmed that all six victims were black Africans. “They were all of color, this is obviously a grave fact. As was grave what happened to Pamela. The closeness of the two events makes you imagine there could be a connection,” Carancini said.
Mastropietro’s dismembered remains were found Wednesday in two suitcases two days after she walked away from a drug rehab community. A judge on Saturday confirmed the arrest of the main suspect, identified as 29-year-old Innocent Oseghale. Italy is heading into a general election on March 4 and the head of the rebranded League party, Matteo Salvini, had capitalized on the teen’s killing in campaign appearances even before the shooting Saturday. Salvini is pledging to deport 150,000 migrants in his first year in office if his party wins control of parliament and he is named premier. That has drawn sharp rebukes that Salvini is using the migrant crisis to foment xenophobia for political gain. Salvini’s League, which dropped “northern” from its name in a bid for a national following, has joined a center-right coalition with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Giorgia Meloni’s much smaller Brothers of Italy. They are running against Matteo Renzi’s much-splintered center-left Democratic Party and the populist 5-Star Movement. Salvini told reporters Saturday at a campaign stop in Bologna that he would bring security to Italy. “Whoever shoots is a delinquent, no matter the skin color. It is clear that out-of-control immigration ... brings social conflict,” he said. Senate president Pietro Grasso of the small liberal party Free and Equal chastised Salvini for using the tragedies to gain votes. “Whoever, like Salvini, exploits news events and tragedies for electoral purposes is among those responsible for the spiral of hatred and violence that we must stop as soon as possible,” Grasso said.
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Canada: M-103 Heritage Committee report promises government action against “Islamophobia”
Christine Douglass/New Agencies/February 03/18
The Canadian government’s Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage has completed its draft report on “anti-Islamophobia” Motion M-103, and is ready to “take action.”
Motion M-103, introduced by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid just over a year ago, recognized
“the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear… condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination and take note of House of Commons’ petition e-411 and the issues raised by it…and request that the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage undertake a study.”
After the passing of M-103 in Parliament, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage proceeded with its study, conducting nearly a year of hearings from selected groups and members of the public, both for and against the motion.
The cost of this extensive year-long Heritage Committee project was footed by taxpayers. The actual purpose and methodology of the study were vague.
Now that it has emerged that the government is preparing to “take action” on those it deems to be “Islamophobic,” Canadians are left in the dark as to what action will be taken (or range of actions) and by whose standards and definition one is deemed to be “Islamophobic.”
The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage is pleased to make available the report entitled “Taking action against systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia”.
In the Heritage Committee Report, the section on “Islamophobia” is oddly short: less than two pages. The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) definition of the term “Islamophobia” was included, as follows:
Islamophobia can be described as stereotypes, bias or acts of hostility towards individual Muslims or followers of Islam in general. In addition to individual acts of intolerance and racial profiling, Islamophobia leads to viewing Muslims as a greater security threat on an institutional, systemic and societal level.
The definition of “Islamophobia” provided by the OHRC is nebulous. Questions to ponder: what is the global jihad, and what doctrine is behind it? If reporting global abuses committed in the name of Islam inadvertently leads to the “viewing of Muslims as a greater security threat,” then is the OHRC stating that one must not report on those abuses (such as Christian persecution, jihad attacks, attacks on women in Europe, honor violence, stonings, FGM, the murders of apostates, gays, Pakistan’s stringent blasphemy laws, etc.), since such reports may potentially affect how Muslims are viewed?
The Heritage Committee report has delivered a passive-aggressive document that threatens “action” against those who practice “Islamophobia,” while not providing a concise definition of “Islamophobia.” Nor does it present thorough findings despite following exhaustive hearings, and fails to grasp the importance of Petition e-411, which formed the basis of M-103 and stated: “We, the undersigned, Citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to join us in recognizing that extremist individuals do not represent the religion of Islam, and in condemning all forms of Islamophobia.”
Muslim Brotherhood-linked individuals and groups have been at the helm of a hardline Canada-wide campaign to drive an “Islamophobia,” victimology agenda, which attempts to forbid criticism of Islam — thus putting a single religion over all others, as all other religious doctrines are and should be subject to scrutiny. Numerous suggestions from Canadians to replace the word “Islamophobia” with “anti-Muslim bigotry” were firmly rejected.
Despite many media accusations that the “alt-right” had stirred paranoia about the word “Islamophobia” being a threat to free speech and an implementation of tacit Sharia blasphemy laws, the threat posed by the word went on full public display when “Islamophobia” was concretely defined in writing in a Toronto District School Board curriculum “Guide Book.” “Islamophobia” was defined as ” fear, prejudice, hatred or dislike directed against Islam or Muslims, or towards Islamic politics or culture,” substantiating widespread concerns that political Islam is in fact at play in the use of the word “Islamophobia,” and that there is a concerted effort to foreclose upon discussion of it. (Sections of the Guide Book were amended following complaints.)
It is significant that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has established an “Observatory” that is dedicated to combating global “Islamophobia,” and has made it clear that “Islamophobia” encompasses not only anti-Muslim bigotry, but also criticism of Islam and any speech that is deemed offensive to Muslims; hence the existence of blasphemy laws in Islamic states.
What Canadians think about the direction of Canada is of little worry to Justin Trudeau and his acolytes. Canada can no longer be considered a diverse, free country when merely offending Islam has become a punishable offence, while the government discounts routine hate preaching on al Quds Day, on campuses and in mosques, including hatred and incitement against the LGBTQ community, which Justin Trudeau claims to defend. The vagueness of the Heritage Committee Report should raise alarm bells. One basic service the exhaustive hearings provided was an opportunity to calculate the fervor and strength of opposition to M-103, which gives insight into just how far the Trudeau government can manage to push the envelope with Canadians.
A few points about Canadian sentiment on some issues enforced by Trudeau:
The vast majority of Canadians rejected M-103 and the term “Islamophobia”;
Most Canadians objected to Syrian refugees coming into Canada;
Canadians did not approve of a $10.5 million dollar payout to jihadist Omar Khadr, and in fact, wanted Khadr to remain in custody;
Most Canadians oppose “mindless multiculturalism,”, the kind that Justin Trudeau advocates for, including welcoming illegals rejected by America and much worse: Trudeau’s embarrassingly impassioned advocacy for returning Islamic State jihadists.
Trudeau is also the first leader ever to break federal ethics law, as he vacationed with his family at the private Bahamian island owned by the Aga Khan. He also conveniently gave away a $15-million grant of hard-earned taxpayer money to the Aga Khan’s endowment fund. Favor for favor, right?
Some other troubles with Trudeau:
He accused the Conservative party of “Islamophobia” for inquiring about jihad terrorism;
He has met privately with Joshua Boyle, a suspicious former Taliban captive who is also now up on 15 criminal charges;
His government has been trying to reopen relations with the Iranian Islamic regime, after the previous Conservative government shut down the Iranian embassy in Ottawa because of its clandestine operations — including espionage and infiltration. Liberal Iranian MP Majid Jowhari started a petition to reestablish diplomatic ties with Iran.
His Sharia-supporting MP, Omar Alghabra, represented Canada at the 44th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Since when is Canada an OIC state?
Leaked intelligence documents now reveal a much greater threat of Islamic terror than the Trudeau Government will admit to.
As Trudeau continues to spend taxpayer money on policies and projects that are undesirable to most Canadians, Canadians can expect more surprises. The Trudeau government has seen fit to deem Canadians “phobic” about Muslims, and will take action against citizens for this so-called “phobia.” One in three countries in the world have blasphemy laws that “criminalize anti-religious sentiment,” and Canada is well on its way. Despite the length and seemingly benign nature of the Heritage Committee report, it promises action against “Islamophobia,” a term it failed to adequately define, giving the government far too much leeway.
“Anti-Islamophobia Draft Completed,”
by Robert Tuomi, Windsor Square, February 1, 2018:
(OTTAWA, ON) – The federal Government’s standing committee on Canadian Heritage has completed a draft report on Systemic Racism and Religious Discrimination, including Islamophobia, in Canada. Although its latest meeting, on Wednesday, was in-camera, the committee, led by Liberal MP Hedy Fry, has released its minutes. According to the minutes, the committee, with members of all three major political parties, agreed to adopt a draft report to be entitled Taking action against systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia. The document will now be reviewed by Fry and civil servants whose role will be to make, “grammatical and editorial changes as may be necessary without changing the substance of the report.” It was agreed by the committee to have the Government table a comprehensive response following the presentation by Fry to the House of Commons. Once Fry presents the committee’s findings, at a date yet to be announced, civil servants working on the document will release a news announcement and will place related information on the committee’s website. The committee was given the task of examining Islamophobia and religious discrimination following the passage of Motion 103 in April last year. As part of its work, the committee held 93 meetings and heard from 78 witnesses. Brought to Parliament by Iqra Khalid, a Liberal MP representing Mississauga-Erin Mills, the then non-binding motion called on the Government to condemn Islamophobia in Canada……
Secret Alliance: Israel Carries Out Airstrikes in Egypt,
With Cairo’s O.K.
David Kirkpatrickfeb/The New York Times/February 03/2018
The jihadists in Egypt’s Northern Sinai had killed hundreds of soldiers and police officers, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, briefly seized a major town and begun setting up armed checkpoints to claim territory. In late 2015, they brought down a Russian passenger jet.
Egypt appeared unable to stop them, so Israel, alarmed at the threat just over the border, took action.
For more than two years, unmarked Israeli drones, helicopters and jets have carried out a covert air campaign, conducting more than 100 airstrikes inside Egypt, frequently more than once a week — and all with the approval of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
The remarkable cooperation marks a new stage in the evolution of their singularly fraught relationship. Once enemies in three wars, then antagonists in an uneasy peace, Egypt and Israel are now secret allies in a covert war against a common foe.
For Cairo, the Israeli intervention has helped the Egyptian military regain its footing in its nearly five-year battle against the militants. For Israel, the strikes have bolstered the security of its borders and the stability of its neighbor.
Their collaboration in the North Sinai is the most dramatic evidence yet of a quiet reconfiguration of the politics of the region. Shared enemies like ISIS, Iran and political Islam have quietly brought the leaders of several Arab states into growing alignment with Israel — even as their officials and news media continue to vilify the Jewish state in public.
American officials say Israel’s air campaign has played a decisive role in enabling the Egyptian armed forces to gain an upper hand against the militants. But the Israeli role is having some unexpected consequences for the r egion, including on Middle East peace negotiations, in part by convincing senior Israeli officials that Egypt is now dependent on them even to control its own territory.
Seven current or former British and American officials involved in Middle East policy described the Israeli attacks inside Egypt, all speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified information.
Spokesmen for the Israeli and Egyptian militaries declined to comment, and so did a spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry.
Both neighbors have sought to conceal Israel’s role in the airstrikes for fear of a backlash inside Egypt, where government officials and the state-controlled media continue to discuss Israel as a nemesis and pledge fidelity to the Palestinian cause.
The Israeli drones are unmarked, and the Israeli jets and helicopters cover up their markings. Some fly circuitous routes to create the impression that they are based in the Egyptian mainland, according to American officials briefed on their operations.
In Israel, military censors restrict public reports of the airstrikes. It is unclear if any Israeli troops or special forces have set foot inside Egyptian borders, which would increase the risk of exposure.
Mr. Sisi has taken even more care, American officials say, to hide the origin of the strikes from all but a limited circle of military and intelligence officers. The Egyptian government has declared the North Sinai a closed military zone, barring journalists from gathering information there.
Behind the scenes, Egypt’s top generals have grown steadily closer to their Israeli counterparts since the signing of the Camp David accords 40 years ago, in 1978. Egyptian security forces have helped Israel enforce restrictions on the flow of goods in and out of the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian territory bordering Egypt controlled by the militant group Hamas. And Egyptian and Israeli intelligence agencies have long shared information about militants on both sides of the border.
Israeli officials were concerned in 2012 when Egypt, after its Arab Spring revolt, elected a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood to the presidency. The new president, Mohamed Morsi, pledged to respect the Camp David agreements. But the Israelis worried about the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideological kinship with Hamas and its historic hostility to the Jewish state itself.
A year later, Mr. Sisi, then the defense minister, ousted Mr. Morsi in a military takeover. Israel welcomed the change in government, and urged Washington to accept it. That solidified the partnership between the generals on both sides of the border.
The North Sinai, a loosely governed region of mountainous desert between the Suez Canal and the Israeli border, became a refuge for Islamist militants in the decade before Mr. Sisi took power. The main jihadist organization, Ansar Beit al Maqdis — the Partisans of Jerusalem — had concentrated on attacking Israel, but after Mr. Sisi’s takeover it began leading a wave of deadly assaults against Egyptian security forces.
A few weeks after Mr. Sisi took power, in August 2013, two mysterious explosions killed five suspected militants in a district of the North Sinai not far from the Israeli border. The Associated Press reported that unnamed Egyptian officials had said Israeli drones fired missiles that killed the militants, possibly because of Egyptian warnings of a planned cross-border attack on an Israeli airport. (Israel had closed the airport the previous day.)
Mr. Sisi’s spokesman, Col. Ahmed Ali, denied it. “There is no truth in form or in substance to the existence of any Israeli attacks inside Egyptian territory,” he said in a statement at the time, promising an investigation. “The claims of coordination between the Egyptian and Israeli sides in this matter are totally lacking in truth and go against sense and logic.”
Israel declined to comment, and the episode was all but forgotten.
Two years later, however, Mr. Sisi was still struggling to defeat the militants, who by then had killed at least several hundred Egyptians soldiers and policemen.
In November, 2014, Ansar Beit al Maqdis formally declared itself the Sinai Province branch of the Islamic State. On July 1, 2015, the militants briefly captured control of a North Sinai town, Sheikh Zuwaid, and retreated only after Egyptian jets and helicopters struck the town, state news agencies said. Then, at the end of October, the militants brought down the Russian charter jet, killing all 224 people on board.
It was around the time of those ominous milestones, in late 2015, that Israel began its wave of airstrikes, the American officials said, which they credit with killing a long roster of militant leaders.
Though equally brutal successors often stepped in to replace them, the militants appeared to adopt less ambitious goals. They no longer dared trying to close roads, set up checkpoints or claim territory. They moved into hitting softer targets like Christians in Sinai, churches in the Nile Valley or other Muslims they view as heretics. In November 2017, the militants killed 311 worshipers at a Sufi mosque in the North Sinai.
By then, American officials say, the Israelis were complaining to Washington that the Egyptians were not holding up their end of the arrangement. Cairo, they said, had failed to follow the airstrikes with coordinated movements of its ground troops.
Although Israeli military censors have prevented the news media there from reporting on the strikes, some news outlets have circumvented the censorship by citing a 2016 Bloomberg News report, in which an unnamed former Israeli official said there had been Israeli drone strikes inside of Egypt.
Zack Gold, a researcher specializing in the North Sinai who has worked in Israel, compared the airstrikes to Israel’s nuclear weapons program — also an open secret.
“The Israeli strikes inside of Egypt are almost at the same level, he said. “Every time anyone says anything about the nuclear program, they have to jokingly add ‘according to the foreign press.’ Israel’s main strategic interest in Egypt is stability, and they believe that open disclosure would threaten that stability.”
Inside the American government, the strikes are widely known enough that diplomats and intelligence officials have discussed them in closed briefings with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers in open committee hearings have alluded approvingly to the surprisingly close Egyptian and Israeli cooperation in the North Sinai.
In a telephone interview, Senator Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, declined to discuss specifics of Israel’s military actions in Egypt, but said Israel was not acting “out of goodness to a neighbor.”
“Israel does not want the bad stuff that is happening in the Egyptian Sinai to get into Israel,” he said, adding that the Egyptian effort to hide Israel’s role from its citizens “is not a new phenomenon.”
Some American supporters of Israel complain that, given Egypt’s reliance on the Israeli military, Egyptian officials, diplomats and state-controlled news media should stop publicly denouncing the Jewish state, especially in international forums like the United Nations.
“You speak with Sisi and he talks about security cooperation with Israel, and you speak with Israelis and they talk about security cooperation with Egypt, but then this duplicitous game continues,” said Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Relations Committee. “It is confusing to me.”
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has also pointedly reminded American diplomats of the Israeli military role in Sinai. In February 2016, for example, Secretary of State John Kerry convened a secret summit in Aqaba, Jordan, with Mr. Sisi, King Abdullah of Jordan and Mr. Netanyahu, according to three American officials involved in the talks or briefed about them.
Mr. Kerry proposed a regional agreement in which Egypt and Jordan would guarantee Israel’s security as part of a deal for a Palestinian state.
Mr. Netanyahu scoffed at the idea.
Israeli’s military was already propping up Egypt’s military, he said, according to the Americans. If Egypt was unable to control the ground within its own borders, Mr. Netanyahu argued, it was hardly in a position to guarantee security for Israel.
**David M. Halbfinger contributed reporting from Jerusalem.
Some of the reporting in this article was conducted by Mr. Kirkpatrick for the book “Into the Hands of the Soldiers,” to be published by Viking in August.
Europe: Making Islam Great Again
Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/February 03/2018
In Germany, 47% of Muslims believe Sharia is more important than German law. In Sweden, 52% of Muslims believe that Sharia is more important than Swedish law.
The studies are supported by European intelligence reports. In Germany, intelligence agencies warned in the early fall of 2015 that, "We are importing Islamic extremism, Arab anti-Semitism, national and ethnic conflicts of other peoples, as well as a different understanding of society and law."
A recent Belgian study, in which 4,734 Belgians were polled, showed that two-thirds of Belgians feel that their nation is being "increasingly invaded".
"We cannot and will never be able to stop migration", wrote the EU's Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos recently. "At the end of the day, we all need to be ready to accept migration, mobility and diversity as the new norm and tailor our policies accordingly".
Given that such people would have us believe that migration has become such a categorical and seemingly incontestable policy of the EU -- "Migration is deeply intertwined with our policies on economics, trade, education and employment", Avramapolous also wrote -- it is crucial to analyze what kind of "diversity" the EU is inviting to make its home on the European continent.
Professor Ednan Aslan, Professor of Islamic Religious Education at the University of Vienna, recently interviewed a sample of 288 of the approximately 4,000 predominantly Afghan asylum seekers in the Austrian city of Graz, on behalf of the city's integration department. Members of the department understandably wanted to know the views of the Muslim newcomers there. The results were published in a study, "Religiöse und Ethische Orientierungen von Muslimischen Flüchtlingen in Graz" ("Religious and ethical orientations of Muslim refugees in Graz").
According to the study, two-thirds of the asylum seekers are men, mostly under 30 years old. They are all in favor of preserving their traditional, conservative, Islamic values. The migrants are extremely religious; 70% go to the mosque every Friday for prayers.
The women are just as religious, if not more: 62.6% pray five times a day, notably more than the men (39.7%). In addition, 66.3% of the women wear a headscarf in public, and 44.3% refuse to shake hands with a man.
Half of the migrants (49.8%), report that religion now plays a larger role in their daily lives in Europe, than it did in their native country. 47.2% are convinced that Jews and Christians have strayed from the "right path", and 47.8% think that the future of Islam would be in danger if Islam were to be interpreted in a modern and contemporary fashion.
For 51.6% of the interviewees, the supremacy of Islam over other religions is undisputed. 55% believe in hell for unbelievers.
Anti-Semitism is deeply ingrained: 46% believe that Jews have "too much influence in world affairs", and 44% believe that Judaism is harmful. 43% opine that Jews themselves are at fault for being persecuted, while 54.5% think that Jews only care about themselves.
The migrants are not only intolerant of other religions: 50% find that homosexuality is a punishable sin. 44% of respondents said they would endorse violence against a woman if she cheated on her husband. 43% also said that fathers have a right to use violence on children if necessary.
When the integration department of the city of Graz, Austria interviewed a sample of 288 of the approximately 4,000 predominantly Afghan asylum seekers in the city, the migrants expressed deep intolerance towards Christians, Jews and homosexuals. Pictured: City Hall, Graz, Austria. (Image source: Tamirhassan/Wikimedia Commons)
The Austrian study is not the first of its kind to show that Muslim migrants to Europe hold supremacist, anti-Semitic, and misogynistic views. In 2016, a study of nearly 800 migrants from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Eritrea in the German state of Bavaria was conducted by a German think tank, the Hanns Seidel Foundation. This study showed that patriarchal beliefs were widespread among the migrants interviewed, especially among migrants from Afghanistan and the mainly non-Muslim migrants from Eritrea, over 60% of whom believed that women should stay at home. Anti-Semitism was another major finding of the study, which showed that regardless of age and educational background, a majority of the migrants held anti-Semitic beliefs. Well over 50% of Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans said that the "Jews in the world have too much influence".
Anti-Semitism in Germany has indeed become so widespread that Germany recently decided to appoint a special commissioner to fight it. Germany is reportedly preparing legislation that could see migrants who express anti-Semitic views deported from the country. "You Jew!" has apparently become a common insult among Muslim pupils in Berlin schools.
Other studies and polls also reveal the large degree to which Muslims in Europe value sharia law over national law:
A 2016 UK poll showed that 43% of British Muslims "believed that parts of the Islamic legal system should replace British law while only 22 per cent opposed the idea". A different poll, also from 2016, found that nearly a quarter (23%) of all Muslims supported the introduction of sharia law in some areas of Britain, and 39% agreed that "wives should always obey their husbands". Nearly a third (31%) thought it was acceptable for a British Muslim man to have more than one wife. According to the same poll, 52% of all British Muslims believe that homosexuality should be illegal.
According to a 2014 study of Moroccan and Turkish Muslims in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Sweden, an average of almost 60% of the Muslims polled agreed that Muslims should return to the roots of Islam; 75% thought there is only one interpretation of the Koran possible and 65% said that Sharia is more important to them than the laws of the country in which they live. The specific numbers for Germany were that 47% of Muslims believe Sharia is more important than German law. In Sweden, 52% of Muslims believe that Sharia is more important than Swedish law.
The studies are supported by European intelligence reports. In Germany, intelligence agencies warned in the early fall of 2015 that, "We are importing Islamic extremism, Arab anti-Semitism, national and ethnic conflicts of other peoples, as well as a different understanding of society and law." Four major German security agencies made it clear that "German security agencies... will not be in the position to solve these imported security problems and thereby the arising reactions from Germany's population."
In Norway, the head of the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST), Benedicte Bjørnland, said, in January 2016, that one cannot, "assume that new arrivals will automatically adapt to the norms and rules of Norwegian society."
"Furthermore, new arrivals are not homogenous and can bring ethnic and religious strife with them... If parallel societies, radicalization and extremist environments emerge in the long run, we will have challenges as a security service."
It is hardly surprising, then, that Europeans have begun to report that they no longer feel at home in their own countries. A recent Belgian study, in which 4,734 Belgians were polled, showed that two-thirds of Belgians feel that their nation is being "increasingly invaded". Two thirds of the people said that there are "too many immigrants in Belgium", while 77% agreed with the statement, "Today we no longer feel at home as we did before [mass migration]". According to 74% of people surveyed, Islam is "not a tolerant religion", while 60% said the presence of so many Muslims in their nation presents a threat to its identity. Only 12% said they believe the religion is "a source of enrichment" for Belgium.
The study also surveyed 400 Belgian Muslims: 33% said they "don't like Western culture", 29% said they believe the laws of Islam to be superior to Belgian law, and 34% said they "would definitely prefer a political system inspired by the Quran". The study also found that 59% of Muslims in Belgium would "condemn" the marriage if their son chose a non-Muslim partner, and 54% would condemn the marriage if their daughter chose a non-Muslim partner. Tellingly, the response of the researchers behind the study -- public broadcaster RTBF, liberal newspaper Le Soir, sociology research institute Survey and Action and a foundation called This is Not a Crisis -- was to claim that they "observed the development of a true anti-Muslim paranoia [among Belgians], which has taken on a pathological dimension".
None of these studies, polls, and intelligence reports appear to be making the least impression on European leaders. In the starry-eyed words of Avramapolous, it is not enough that the mainly Muslim migrants who have come to Europe, "have found safety in Europe". According to him, "We also need to make sure they find a home".
The question that remains unanswered -- as European leaders seek to make Islam great again on the continent -- is where Europeans are supposed to make their homes.
**Judith Bergman is a columnist, lawyer and political analyst.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.
Palestinians: Arbitrary Arrests, Administrative Detentions and World Silence
Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute/February 03/2018
While Israel uses "administrative detention" as a tool to thwart terrorism, the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership holds people without trial as a means to silence them and prevent them from voicing any form of criticism against Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian leaders.
While administrative detainees in Israel are entitled to see a lawyer, receive family visits and appeal against their incarceration, the Palestinians detained by the PA are denied basic rights. Yet, Israel-obsessed human rights organizations seem uninterested in this fact.
Particularly disturbing, however, is not that the PA leadership is acting as a tyrannical regime, but the abiding silence and indifference of the international community and human rights organizations. Those who scream bloody murder about Israel's security measures against terrorism would do the Palestinians a better service by opening their mouths about how human rights are ravaged under the PA.
For many years, Palestinians and their supporters around the world have been condemning Israel for arresting suspected terrorists without trial.
It turns out, however, that the Palestinian Authority (PA) also has a similar policy that permits one of its senior officials to order the arrest of any Palestinian, regardless of the nature of the offense he or she commits.
Israel holds suspected terrorists in "administrative detention" on the basis of laws such as: Israeli Military Order regarding no. 1651 Security Provisions, Incarceration of Unlawful Combatants Law and Defense (Emergency) Regulations, a law that replaces the emergency laws from the period of the British Mandate of Palestine (1920-1948).
It is worth noting that Israeli citizens, and not only Palestinians, have also been held in "administrative detention" over the past few decades. This means that Israel does not distinguish between a Palestinian and an Israeli when it comes to combatting terrorism.
While the campaign against Israel's "administrative detentions" has been going on, the Palestinian Authority has been, according to Palestinian human rights activists and lawyers, conducting unlawful and arbitrary arrests against its own constituents.
Once again, the double standards of the Palestinians and their international supporters have been exposed.
For more than a decade, the PA has been detaining Palestinians without trial for up to six months -- on the basis of an order signed by one of its senior officials, usually a governor appointed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
But while Israel uses "administrative detention" as a tool to thwart terrorism, the Palestinian Authority leadership holds people without trial as a means to silence them and prevent them from voicing any form of criticism against Abbas and other Palestinian leaders.
The PA argues that its "administrative detentions" are being conducted within the framework of the law and as a preemptive measure to safeguard public safety and prevent violence.
While administrative detainees in Israel are entitled to see a lawyer, receive family visits and appeal against their incarceration, the Palestinians detained by the Palestinian Authority are denied basic rights. Yet, Israel-obsessed human rights organizations seem totally uninterested in this fact.
The Palestinian Authority detains people without trial as a means to silence them and prevent them from voicing any form of criticism against President Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian leaders. Pictured: PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
How, then, do the Palestinian Authority's "administrative detentions" work?
According to Palestinian human rights advocates and lawyers, a Palestinian governor or senior official is authorized to issue arrest warrants against any Palestinian for any reason.
Although it remains unclear on what basis PA governors and top officials are entitled to order arrests, some legal experts say they believe the practice is based on a 1954 Jordanian law that is still in effect in the West Bank.
Experts say that although a Jordanian court abrogated the law many years ago, the Palestinian Authority continues to use it against its own people.
Palestinian lawyer and former judge Daoud Dirawi said that the practice of detaining Palestinians on orders of Abbas's governors and top officials was "illegal" and "unconstitutional." He pointed out that the Palestinian High Court of Justice has ruled against the practice.
"Unlawful incarceration is a crime punishable by law," Dirawi explained. "Anyone affected by this practice is entitled to sue for damages. This is one of the most dangerous assaults on public freedoms."
The Palestinian Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession (Musawa), says it has received many complaints from Palestinians about the unlawful detentions by the Palestinian Authority.
Noting that the detentions were "unconstitutional" and constitute a grave violation of human rights, Musawa said that governors and senior officials do not have the power to order the arrest of anyone.
Last year, the Faculty of Law at An-Najah University, the largest Palestinian university in the West Bank, held a seminar dedicated to the Palestinian Authority's "administrative detentions."
Dr. Muayad Hattab, dean of the faculty, said that most Palestinian legal experts agreed that the detentions without trial were in violation of the Palestinian law and constitution. He too pointed out that Palestinian courts had repeatedly ruled against the practice of holding people without trial.
Palestinian lawyer Ala Al-Badarneh, who conducted a study about the Palestinian Authority's "administrative detentions," found that most of the detentions were carried out without the knowledge of the governor or the senior Palestinian official in whose name the detention was carried out.
"Detaining people on orders of the governor sometimes occur without the knowledge of the governor," Al-Badarneh said.
"Even when the governor is made aware of the detention, the detainee is not brought before the governor. The governor often denies knowledge of the detention when asked by the families. Jordanian law stipulates that when someone is detained on orders of the governor, he or she must be brought before the governor. But this is not what is happening with those who are being detained without trial by the Palestinian Authority."
Al-Badarneh also noted that the Palestinian "administrative detainees" were being taken into custody on the basis of assessments by the Palestinian security forces, without referring to the party that purportedly ordered the arrest: a governor or senior official.
In some cases, the Palestinian governors and senior officials, who have turned themselves into law-enforcers, resort to "administrative detentions" to circumvent implementing court orders.
A court, for example, can order the release of a detainee, but he or she can still remain behind bars if a governor or top official signs an arrest warrant.
Take, for instance, the case of Mahmoud Asideh of Nablus, the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank. After 37 days in detention, a number of Palestinian courts ordered Asideh released. To avoid implementing the courts' orders, however, Palestinian Authority security forces served him with an arrest warrant signed by the governor of Nablus. Another detainee, Anas Judallah, also from Nablus, was held in detention on orders of the Nablus governor although a Palestinian court had decided to release him.
In 2016, Palestinian journalist Ragheed Tabasiyeh was detained for 17 days on order of the governor of the West Bank city of Kalkilya. Tabasiyeh said he was interrogated about the nature of his journalistic work and the party he was working for. He was finally released without bail or charges.
In December 2017, Palestinian human rights groups received complaints from seven Palestinians who said they had been detained without trial on the orders of a governor. Two of the detainees have since been released, while the remaining five are still being held without trial.
Palestinians say that the PA is using "administrative detentions" mostly as a tool against its political opponents and to silence critics, and not as a precautionary measure to prevent a crime, as the Palestinian Authority claims.
Khalil Assaf, head of the Independent Palestinians Association in the West Bank, denounced the practice as a crime, saying that it was primarily aimed at silencing the Palestinian Authority's critics. Referring to President Mahmoud Abbas, Assaf wondered:
"How can he who is at the helm of the Palestinian Authority and is breaking the law ask his people to abide by the law? The violation of the law by anyone is unacceptable. Detaining any person on orders of the governor or a senior official is a crime punishable by law."
Thus, we have yet another example of how the Western-funded Palestinian Authority makes a mockery of its judicial system and continues systematically to violate human rights and wage assaults on public freedoms. In a world where any of Abbas's senior officials can sign an arrest warrant against a Palestinian, the Palestinians can only continue to dream of having a country of law and order.
Particularly disturbing, however, is not that the PA leadership is acting as a tyrannical regime (this is absolutely expected by those familiar with the inner workings of Abbas and his loyalists), but the abiding silence and indifference of the international community and human rights organizations. Those who scream bloody murder about Israel's security measures against terrorism would do the Palestinians a better service by opening their mouths about how human rights are ravaged under the Palestinian Authority.
**Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.
No Winners in Turkey’s New Offensive into Syria
Noah Bonsey/Asharq Al Awsat/February 03/18
No victor is likely in costly new battles between Turkey and Syrian Kurdish forces in north-western Syria. Difficulties faced by Turkish troops include a hostile population and hilly territory that favours its battle-hardened insurgent foes, and the offensive puts new stress on Turkey’s already strained relationship with its main strategic ally, the US.
A Turkish attack on the Kurdish “People’s Protection Units” (YPG), the Syrian affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), was long expected. For most observers, the question was not if, but when, where, and under what circumstances.
Now we have the answers: seizing on an inflammatory (and subsequently amended) US statement concerning Washington’s cooperation with the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Turkey has launched an aerial and ground offensive against the YPG-held enclave of Afrin in north-west Syria.
The battle is likely to prove indecisive and costly for both sides. It is already a tremendous headache for Washington, their mutual ally, and putting huge strain on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)-member Turkey’s relations with the US Unless all involved adjust their strategies, including a return to a broader peace process in the PKK’s decades-old insurgency in Turkey, it may also prove a sign of worse to come.
It has long been clear that the conclusion of major US-backed offensives against the ISIS would prove a sensitive moment in northern Syria. Ankara, furious since 2015 that US backing has empowered the YPG as the military backbone of the SDF even as the PKK wages active insurgency in Turkey, hoped that its NATO ally would wind down support for the SDF following the capture of ISIS strongholds.
Washington appears to have decided to do quite the opposite: to stay and continue to invest in its partners on the ground. The US views the “stabilisation” of areas captured from ISIS as essential to prevent extremist resurgence; does not want to abandon a reliable ally in the fight against ISIS to regime assault; and hopes to leverage its military presence to promote a political transition in Damascus and contain Iranian influence. The YPG’s coherent internal structures, efficient decision-making and capable performance make it the US’ only plausible local counterpart for maintaining security and delivering governance. There is little reason to believe that the SDF and local bodies could hold up without it.
The US made its intentions public on 11 January 2018 in a testimony by Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield, and in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s speech six days later. It was this statement of policy, rather than the poorly-conceived 13 January US statement about building “border security forces”, that heightened Turkey’s frustration. Ankara strongly opposes continued US support for the YPG, which it sees as enabling the PKK to consolidate and legitimise its affiliate’s de facto rule along a large part of its southern border, bestowing diplomatic clout and respectability on the mother organisation in the process.
In response, Ankara has launched its most significant action yet against the YPG, in the one place it can do so without directly confronting its NATO ally: Afrin. The US has no military presence in this geographically isolated YPG-held canton in north-west Syria, which Washington has always described as outside the framework of its counter-ISIS efforts.
Unprotected by the US security umbrella in northern Syria, Afrin is an easier target for Turkey than SDF-held territory to the east. It is Moscow, not Washington, that had previously provided some degree of implicit protection for the area. Russia dominates the airspace over that part of Syria, and has maintained a small military presence in Afrin. Its approval (or at least acquiescence) was widely perceived as a prerequisite for any major Turkish operation there. Indeed, Turkish intelligence head Hakan Fidan and Chief of the General Staff Hulusi Akar visited Moscow immediately prior to the offensive. After the visit, Russia acknowledged Turkey’s security concerns, blamed the crisis on US “unilateral action” (an apparent reference to the policy announced by Tillerson), and moved its troops in Afrin out of harm’s way. For now, this decision has severely damaged its previously cordial relations with the YPG but for Moscow that apparently was a small price to pay: proving the US’ unreliability and, by contrast, Russia’s ability to control events on the ground in tandem with Turkey, was of greater value.
Militarily, however, Afrin presents particularly challenging terrain for Turkey. The YPG has both military control and deep local roots. Unlike most of the SDF-held north east, Afrin is wooded, partially mountainous and densely populated. And while the YPG is surrounded by rival forces – Turkey to the west and north, Turkey-backed rebels to the east, the Syrian regime to the south east and the jihadists of Hei’at Tahrir al-Sham to the south – a road connects Afrin to SDF-held territory in the north east via regime-held areas; the YPG may be able to negotiate with Damascus use of that road to transport reinforcements.
Turkey and its rebel allies, who at times struggled to gain ground during their “Euphrates Shield” offensive against ISIS in late 2016 and early 2017, are likely to find the going much tougher against the better-trained, better-led YPG. Even if they seize the enclave, it remains unclear how Ankara hopes to secure an area inhabited by a hostile population and with a topography suitable for guerrilla warfare. More likely, Turkey will end up in a prolonged fight against a potent, deeply-motivated insurgency.
Things could get especially messy if Turkey expands operations to Manbij, a city at the western edge of the SDF’s north-eastern territory, which President Erdoğan has suggested could be Ankara’s next target.
Manbij is sensitive, disputed territory. The US helped the SDF seize it from ISIS in 2016, and assured Turkey that the YPG would withdraw from the city and adjacent areas west of the Euphrates River following their capture. In practice, however, the YPG has retained control there via local partners. Washington, aware that its pledge was not fully implemented, has on some occasions deployed its own forces to the area to deter Turkish attack. If Ankara decides to extend its current offensive there, it will broaden its exposure to YPG insurgency and risk far deeper damage to its relationship with Washington, as US and Turkish forces could collide.
The Afrin offensive may boost temporarily the Turkish leadership at home. But it entails major risks and is unlikely to significantly weaken the YPG overall. The attack may even encourage the PKK to revert to bombings in Turkish cities – a tactic the organisation has shied away from over the past year (likely due in part to Washington’s exhortations, delivered via the YPG). This fight is unlikely to end well for anyone, and it highlights the urgency of addressing the Turkey-PKK/YPG conflict – and the associated contradictions of US policy – more constructively.
Ankara has largely routed the PKK in the three years of fighting in south-eastern Turkey that have followed the breakdown of peace efforts in 2015. However, it did so at great human cost. The PKK is still confident in its northern Iraq headquarters, and Turkey faces much bleaker prospects – and formidable geopolitical constraints – inside Syria. Turkey can mount damaging attacks against and destabilise YPG-held areas, but it has no discernible path to military victory there.
For its part, the PKK has lost “a generation” of fighters (as one of its cadres told Crisis Group) in combat that has arguably strengthened its adversaries politically. It has no reason to expect better results from future insurgent campaigns in Turkey. It can take heart in the continued success of its Syrian affiliate, which has brighter political and military prospects – but, as Crisis Group reported in May 2017, that depends on it finding sustainable means of averting prolonged Turkish attack.
Rather than costly pursuits of quixotic objectives where their respective hands are weaker, Turkey and the PKK/YPG would be better served by a quid pro quo: PKK military concessions in Turkey (eg, an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of arms from Turkish soil) in exchange for Ankara’s returning to the peace process and acquiescence to continued YPG control within much of northern Syria.
The obstacles are formidable, but not insurmountable. Even as US officials shuttle between their warring allies in an attempt to contain the fighting, they should begin exploring the potential for an eventual deal in which the PKK makes concessions on one side of the border in exchange for a compromise from Turkey on the other. Without such an understanding, Washington’s new approach to Syria will end up harming both its allies whose cooperation it needs if it is to play a role in settling Syria’s war.
**Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst on Syria