Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Foreign Propaganda Interference Done Right: Brits in 1940s U.S.

By Steve Sailer – VDARE – 02/22/2020

From the Washington Post:

Bernie Sanders briefed by U.S. officials that Russia is trying to help his presidential campaign

By Shane Harris, Ellen Nakashima, Michael Scherer and Sean Sullivan
Feb. 21, 2020 at 1:16 p.m. PST

U.S. officials have told Sen. Bernie Sanders that Russia is attempting to help his presidential campaign as part of an effort to interfere with the Democratic contest, according to people familiar with the matter.

President Trump and lawmakers on Capitol Hill also have been informed about the Russian assistance to the Vermont senator, those people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence.

It is not clear what form that Russian assistance has taken.

So … that clears that up!

Let me guess, though: I bet some Russian … trolls … are posting … memes!

For example, here’s a high quality 2016 Russian interference effort:

On the other hand, if you want an example of Foreign Interference done right, consider the 1941 Hollywood movie That Hamilton Woman starring Vivien Leigh as Emma Hamilton and Laurence Olivier as Admiral Horatio Nelson, victor over Napoleon’s navy at Trafalgar. From Wikipedia:

The film was a critical and financial success, and while on the surface the plot is both a war story and a romance set in Napoleonic times, it was also intended to function as a deliberately pro-British film that would portray Britain positively within the context of World War II which was being fought at that time. At the time the film was released France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Denmark had all surrendered to the Nazis and the Soviet Union was still officially allied to them, correspondingly the British were fighting against the Nazis alone and felt the need to produce films that would both boost their own morale, and also portray them sympathetically to the foreign world, and in particular, to the United States. …

Shot in the United States during September and October 1940,[10] That Hamilton Woman defines Britain’s struggle against Napoleon in terms of resistance to a dictator who seeks to dominate the world.[11] The film was intended to parallel the current situation in Europe and was intended as propaganda at a time before the attack on Pearl Harbor when the United States was still formally neutral. … Stars Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier were newlyweds at the time of filming and were considered a “dream couple.” …

While That Hamilton Woman was marketed as historical romance, its subtext falls into the “war propaganda” category.[16] In July 1941, the isolationist group America First Committee (AFC) targeted That Hamilton Woman and three other major Hollywood feature films (The Great Dictator, Chaplin/United Artists, 1940; Foreign Correspondent, Wanger/United Artists, 1940; The Mortal Storm, MGM, 1940) as productions that “seemed to be preparing Americans for war.” …

Critical sources usually point out that That Hamilton Woman was Winston Churchill’s favorite film.[19][Note 1] In her research on the subject, film historian Professor Stacey Olster reveals that at the time the film was made, Alexander Korda’s New York offices were “supplying cover to MI-5 agents gathering intelligence on both German activities in the United States and isolationist sentiments among makers of American foreign policy.”[20] According to Anthony Holden, Olivier’s biographer, That Hamilton Woman “became Exhibit A in a case brought against Korda by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The Committee had accused him of operating an espionage and propaganda center for Britain in the United States—a charge Korda only escaped by virtue of the fact that his scheduled appearance before the committee on December 12, 1941 was preempted by the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor five days earlier”.

From HistoryNet:

In one scene, whose significance was lost on no one who saw the film, Nelson declares, “You cannot make peace with dictators. You have to destroy them.” Korda always claimed that Churchill had written that line. More pro-British films poured out of Hollywood that year, among them A Yank in the R.A.F., starring Tyrone Power as an American flier who fights in the Battle of Britain, and a raft of melodramatic spy movies depicting sinister Nazi agents at work to undermine America.

The level of talent of British propagandists operating in America in the 1940s — e.g., besides movie stars like Olivier, Leigh, and Cary Grant, there were also Isaiah Berlin, C.S. Forester, Roald Dahl, Alfred Duff Cooper, Ian Fleming, and ad man David Ogilvy — was substantially higher than whatever Russia, Saudi Arabia, or China can muster today. For example, from Wikipedia:

In late March 1942, while in London, [fighter pilot Roald Dahl] met the Under-Secretary of State for Air, Major Harold Balfour, at his club. Impressed by Dahl’s war record and conversational abilities, Balfour appointed the young man as assistant air attaché at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.

… As part of his duties as assistant air attaché, Dahl was to help neutralise the isolationist views still held by many Americans by giving pro-British speeches and discussing his war service; the United States had entered the war only the previous December, following the attack on Pearl Harbor.[58]

At this time [Roald] Dahl met the noted British novelist C. S. Forester [Horatio Hornblower, The African Queen], who was also working to aid the British war effort. Forester worked for the British Ministry of Information and was writing propaganda for the Allied cause, mainly for American consumption. The Saturday Evening Post had asked Forester to write a story based on Dahl’s flying experiences; Forester asked Dahl to write down some RAF anecdotes so that he could shape them into a story. After Forester read what Dahl had given him, he decided to publish the story exactly as Dahl had written it.

.. Later he worked with such other well-known British officers as Ian Fleming (who later published the popular James Bond series) and David Ogilvy [future author of Confessions of an Advertising Man], promoting Britain’s interests and message in the US and combating the “America First” movement.

March 7, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

The Brooklyn Yeshiva Anthem Protest: Why It’s Not Antisemitic

By Ira Glunts | CounterPunch | March 6, 2020

“An anti-Semite used to be a person who disliked Jews. Now it is a person who Jews dislike.”

Hajo Meyer, Jewish German-born Dutch physicist and Auschwitz survivor.

“Antisemitism is a trick we always use.”

Shulamit Aloni, Jewish Israeli, former Israeli Minister of Education, longtime member of the Israeli parliament.

On Sunday, February 23 before a match at Yeshiva University, two brave young Muslim Brooklyn College volleyball players “took a knee” during the playing of Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem. Omar Rezika (Soph.) and Hunnan Butt (Fr.) following the example of NFL football player, Colin Kaepernick, who protested the police brutality in the US African-American community, were protesting the brutality of the Israeli occupation and its apartheid policies toward its non-Jewish residents. The Nation sports journalist Dave Zirin wrote me that he learned this was the reason for the protest from sources close to the team.

The Jewish press, Jewish organizations and social media were quick to cry antisemitism. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, The Algemeiner, and StopAntiSemitism.org (has short video of the protest) were just a few who rallied their readers against the protesting students. The antisemitism charges were easily refuted by the fact that the protest was a legitimate political protest against Israel and had not been directed at Jews, as Jews, nor specifically at the members of the Yeshiva community because of their ethnicity or religion. Of course just about every Yeshiva student, faculty member and administrator is a supporter of Israel and is also an active apologist for Israeli transgressions.

The Yeshiva University President, Ari Berman, boasted of the wide (some would add “mindless”) support Zionism has in the United States, and called the actions of Rizika and Butt “unfortunate.” In saying this he ignored the acceptance free speech and peaceful protest have in American culture and especially in academia. The Yeshiva University newspaper, The Observer, quotes Berman as saying:

It is unfortunate that some members of the opposing team disrespected Israel’s national anthem. We are proud to be the only university who sings both the American and Israeli national anthems before every athletic competition and major event. Nothing makes me prouder to be an American than living in a country where our religious freedom, our Zionism and our commitment to our people will never be impeded and always be prized.

One salient element that differentiates this protest from Kaepernick’s NFL anthem protests, and indeed most protests, is that it can be credibly argued that it was Yeshiva University, not the protesters themselves, that initiated the confrontation. What university makes the visiting team stand for a foreign national anthem? And this is not just any foreign national anthem. It is a national anthem whose words specifically exclude more than 20% of Israeli citizens and more than 50% of persons subject to Israeli rule because they are not Jewish. The anthem also celebrates what most Muslims and many progressives, backed by international law, consider to be a brutal, illegal occupation of Palestinian land.

Even the Zionist political lobby group, J Street, which supports a kinder, gentler and better-concealed Israeli occupation, featured an alternative, more democratic version of a possible Israeli anthem in the entertainment program of one of its recent conferences.

The American Jewish blogger, Richard Silverstein, who has tweeted about the anthem protest, sent me his reaction:

Unfortunately, the courageous act of dissent performed by these two young volleyball players has been transformed into a act of anti-Semitism, when it was nothing of the sort. They simply sought to engage in a cherished American tradition of free speech and standing up for the oppressed. No university that I know plays both the Star Spangled Banner and the national anthem of a foreign country before sporting events…except Yeshiva University.

A Brooklyn College spokesperson issued a brief statement which was quoted in the Yeshiva Observer that began by assuring those who took offense from the anthem protest that ““Brooklyn College strongly condemns all forms of anti-Semitism and hatred…. Their kneeling is protected by the First Amendment.” The spokesmen did not defend the students against the charges of antisemitism from the Jewish press, nor against the criticism of President Berman.

Interestingly, the Yeshiva University Observer did not bother to even mention the reason Rezika and Butt were protesting. However, its article copiously catalogs the consternation of the Yeshiva community at the temerity of two visiting students to disrespect the Israeli national anthem and the anguish that their kneeling caused in the Yeshiva community.

Conflating Judaism and Zionism is a staple in the bag of tricks of American Zionists. They claim that a vast majority of Jews are Zionists (something with which I concur and most pro-Palestinian activists strongly deny, especially Jewish pro-Palestinian activists). Thus they claim an attack against Zionism is an attack against the core beliefs of most Jews. It is hateful to them, and thus antisemitic. Yet the same people who justify their claim of antisemitism by the belief that most Jews are Zionists (in an almost religious sense) will also tell you, when it is in their interest to do so, that it is antisemitic to protest in front of a synagogue (or at a Jewish university) because Jews have very diverse opinions on Israel, and to generally assume the synagogue members support Israel is wrongly generalizing about Jews and is in itself antisemitic. This flawed but convenient logic makes any real criticism of Zionism equal to antisemitism.

In the United States there is a taboo in criticizing Israel in or around any place that is Jewish. Such protests get little or no mention even in the progressive press and on websites run by both activist Palestinians or Jews. What is surprising is that a number of sites and well-known activists did not run from this story. The story was carried by The Nation, Middle East Eye, and the PalestineChronicle. Yousef “Strange Parenthesis” Munayyer, the Executive Director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, gave a statement of support for the anthem protest to Middle East Eye. All of this is both unusual and encouraging. Many others, as expected, avoided the story despite the fact that flashy protests against Israel are the bread and butter of their outlets.

In Amy Kaplan’s brilliant analysis of the “unbreakable bond” between the United States and Israel she asks the following question:

How did Zionism, a European movement to establish a homeland for a particular ethno-religious group, come to resonate with citizens of a nation based on the foundation, or at least the aspiration, of civic equality and ethnic diversity?

She states that her book, Our American Israel: The Story of an Entangled Alliance, “aims to recover the strangeness [emphasis mine, IG] in an affinity that has come to be seen as self-evident. … How in other words, did so many come to feel that the bond between the United States and Israel was historically inevitable, morally right, and a matter of common sense?”

Four Questions That May Be Difficult To Easily Passover

How strange is the received wisdom about Israel? Here are four examples that come to mind.

1) Why is it unthinkable to protest in front of a synagogue even when that synagogue openly supports Israeli occupation and apartheid, when it is acceptable to protest in front of a church? There have been numerous protests at Catholic churches over charges of priests sexually abusing young church members. My friends Ed Kinane and Ann Tiffany were accused of antisemitism when they protest against the siege of Gaza in a Jewish neighborhood, partly because the protest is at a busy intersection near a synagogue. However, when they protested in front of a Catholic Church, demanding the new bishop be more sensitive than his predecessor to the problems of American capitalism and empire, nobody complained that it was inappropriate to protest in front of a church.

2) Why have so many states passed anti Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) legislation, when that legislation clearly violates the right of free speech?

3) Why is talking about the use of money in order to influence the US Congress by Jews or Jewish groups verboten when it is generally accepted as a simpe statement of fact? Remember, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby?” from the twitter feed of Representative Ilhan Omar? That tweet has been deleted, by the way.

4) “To raise a memorial to a European genocide on the secular but sacred space of the National Mall required enormous cultural work – nothing less than the transformation of the Holocaust into an element of American heritage” (from Our American Israel). How was this accomplished, especially considering there is no museum or even a memorial dedicated to American slavery or the genocide of Native Americans on the National Mall?

The answers to these questions, as the Jewish-American rock idol Bob Dylan sang, “is blowing in the wind.” Ironically, after living briefly on a kibbutz in northern Israel, he also sang Neighborhood Bully, which is an apologia for Israeli war crimes.

Just asking these questions is enough to get you accused of being an antisemite, even if you are Jewish, like I am. So I am going to stop here. One good thing about being old, though, is that no one can call my employer to “expose” me as an antisemite.

One last thing, if you want some answers about all of this, I strongly recommend you read Amy Kaplan’s book. It is brilliant.

IRA GLUNTS first visited the Middle East in 1972, where he taught English and physical education in a small rural community in Israel. He was a volunteer in the Israeli Defense Forces in 1992. Mr. Glunts is a Jewish American who lives in Madison, New York. He owns and operates a used and rare book business and is a part-time reference librarian. Mr. Glunts can be reached at gluntsi[at]morrisville[dot]edu.

March 7, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 3 Comments

Wikipedia: A Disinformation Operation?

Swiss Propaganda Research | March 2020

Wikipedia is generally thought of as an open, transparent, and mostly reliable online encyclopedia. Yet upon closer inspection, this turns out not to be the case.

In fact, the English Wikipedia with its 9 billion page views per month is governed by just 500 active administrators, whose real identity in many cases remains unknown.

Moreover, studies have shown that 80% of all Wikipedia content is written by just 1% of all Wikipedia editors, which again amounts to just a few hundred mostly unknown people.

Obviously, such a non-transparent and hierarchical structure is susceptible to corruption and manipulation, the notorious “paid editors” hired by corporations being just one example.

Indeed, already in 2007, researchers found that CIA and FBI employees were editing Wikipedia articles on controversial topics including the Iraq war and the Guantanamo military prison.

Also in 2007, researchers found that one of the most active and influential English Wikipedia administrators, called “Slim Virgin”, was in fact a former British intelligence informer.

More recently, another highly prolific Wikipedia editor going by the false name of “Philip Cross” turned out to be linked to UK intelligence as well as several mainstream media journalists.

In Germany, one of the most aggressive Wikipedia editors was exposed, after a two-year legal battle, as a political operative formerly serving in the Israeli army as a foreign volunteer.

Even in Switzerland, unidentified government employees were caught whitewashing Wikipedia entries about the Swiss secret service just prior to a public referendum about the agency.

Many of these Wikipedia personae are editing articles almost all day and every day, indicating that they are either highly dedicated individuals, or in fact, operated by a group of people.

In addition, articles edited by these personae cannot easily be revised, since the above-mentioned administrators can always revert changes or simply block disagreeing users altogether.

The primary goal of these covert campaigns appears to be pushing Western and Israeli government positions while destroying the reputation of independent journalists and politicians.

Articles most affected by this kind of manipulation include political, geopolitical and certain historical topics as well as biographies of non-conformist academics, journalists, and politicians.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, a friend of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and a “Young Leader” of the Davos forum, has repeatedly defended these operations.

Speaking of Davos, Wikimedia has itself amassed a fortune of more than $160 million, donated in large part not by lazy students, but by major US corporations and influential foundations.

Moreover, US social media and video platforms are increasingly referring to Wikipedia to frame or combat “controversial” topics. The revelations discussed above may perhaps help explain why.

To add at least some degree of transparency, German researchers have developed a free web browser tool called WikiWho that lets readers color code just who edited what in Wikipedia.

In many cases, the result looks as discomforting as one might expect.

Additional References:

March 7, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | 5 Comments

Former Farc Combatant Astrid Conde Murdered in Bogota

Former guerrilla member Astrid Conde

teleSUR | March 6, 2020

Astrid Conde, a former guerrilla fighter in Colombia, was shot dead last Thursday in Bogotá.

Conde’s murder occurred at the entrance to her home, located in the El Tintal sector in the southwest of the city.

The Colombian party, the Alternative Revolutionary Force of the Common (FARC), published on its official Twitter profile, that this is one of the first crimes against former members in Bogotá. Still, until now, 191 former combatants have endured violent deaths.

According to the Legal Solidarity Corporation, which protected Astrid Conde, the ex-guerrilla member was complying with her social reintegration process and belonged to the women’s group Defense and Rights.

The murder of Astrid Conde occurred after the FARC denounced the growing violence against its former members who were being reintegrated into society and the lack of guarantees for them. The former guerrillas have said: “We don’t only need who shoots, we also need who gave the order.”

The political group also challenged the irresponsibility of the government of Iván Duque for allowing a lack of protection for its former members and the failure to comply with the Peace Accords, a situation that would endanger the maintenance of peace in Colombia.

Also recently, the United Nations Special Rapporteur, Michel Forst, highlighted the impunity of the murders of social leaders and the lack of preventive administrative measures against the crimes. The UN representative stated that “Colombia is the country with the highest rate of murders of human rights defenders.”

March 7, 2020 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Erdogan Smells a US Rat

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | March 7, 2020

Well, it takes one to know one. The foul scheming and intrigues over the past nine years of war in Syria by the foreign aggressors and their terror proxies will have proven one thing to all the criminal accomplices – none of them can be trusted, even when they claim to be “partners”.

Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who went to Moscow this week, wanted a deeper withdrawal of the Syrian army in Idlib province and he didn’t get it. The upshot is that more Syrian territory has been retaken by Syria’s state forces – despite all the bluster from Erdogan vowing victory and rollback.

What happened is that the Turkish president no doubt smelled a rat from Washington’s lack of military support. Erdogan knew if a military escalation occurred, his forces would be left out to hang and dry by its supposed NATO partner. All the American talk about “fully backing” Turkey failed to materialize beyond hot air.

Recall that when violence flared last month between Turkish and Syrian forces, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged on February 11 that Washington “would stand by its NATO ally”. As the violence increased along with the body count of Turkish troops, the US did not deliver – despite Ankara’s earnest requests two weeks ago for Patriot missiles. Requests that went unanswered.

Washington knew that Syria and its Russian ally were not backing down from the principle of defeating terror groups on Syrian soil regardless of whether the militants are being given cover by Turkish artillery. Syria has impeccable sovereign right to take back control over every square inch of its territory. Russia has stood full square behind its Syrian ally for that objective.

On March 5 when Erdogan flew to Moscow, he must have had that sinking feeling, knowing that Washington was firing rhetorical blanks. On the same day, Pompeo demanded that the Turkish leader should negotiate a withdrawal of Syrian army back to the Sochi ceasefire lines of 2018. But after six hours of negotiations with Putin, Erdogan settled for a lot less – a truce based on current territorial positions, including gains made in recent weeks by the Syrian army.

On his way to Moscow all that Erdogan was getting from Washington were more vague hints that the US was still “considering” supplying military ammunition to Turkey.

Probably the ominous sign for Erdogan that Washington was going soft was the PR stunt on March 3 when two relatively minor US envoys visited the White Helmets terrorist propaganda unit in Idlib offering “humanitarian aid”. That kind of media support doesn’t quite fit the bill for Patriot missiles and American warplanes that Ankara was really after.

Moreover one of the envoys, James Jeffrey, told a conference in Istanbul on March 5 that the US was “pressuring European NATO allies to give more support to Turkey”.

As Hurriyet Daily News reported, the US envoy was responding to a question regarding Washington’s views about concrete military support to Turkey.

“We are pressuring our European allies to make contribution to this issue,” said Jeffrey. “There’s a Spanish Patriot missile defense unit right now deployed in Turkey at the Incirlik airbase, that’s an example of things that NATO is actually doing, and we want to see more actions like that.”

This was being said as Erdogan flew to Moscow for his “face off” with Putin. In other words, the Turkish president knew that the US was all talk and no action.

Damascus and Moscow have called Erdogan and Washington’s bluff. There will be no escalation in Syria to an international conflict because Erdogan and his master in Washington don’t have the cojones.

Syria has every right to rid its land of terrorists and their NATO patrons. And Syria has Russia’s back. While Ankara knows all it can count on is a Washington rat.

March 7, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 3 Comments

Parliamentary Brawl Marks Erdogan’s Syria Policy

By Anthony Sherwood | American Herald Tribune | March 7, 2020

Needless to say, the punchup in the Turkish parliament on March 4 was a disgrace. Supposedly elected to discuss matters of national importance in a calm and dignified manner, scores of MPs behaved like football hooligans.

The occasion was a debate on the presence of the Turkish army in Idlib. Earlier, President Erdogan had described the opposition’s criticism of Turkey’s Syria operation  as “dishonorable, ignoble, low and treacherous.” This was followed by a press conference in which the parliamentary chair of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Engin Ozkoc, directed exactly the same words against the president personally. He also accused Erdogan of showing disrespect by laughing and joking in a speech he made after 34 Turkish soldiers sent to Idlib were killed in an airstrike.

In a later Twitter message, Ozkoc wrote that “a person who became the co-chair of the Greater Middle East project, who approved of the slaughter of three million Muslims, who calls martyrs ‘heads’ is undignified, dishonorable, without honor. This person cannot be the president of Turkey.”

The brawl broke out when Ozkoc took the rostrum in the Grand National Assembly to talk about Idlib. In a country where a rude hand gesture or a slighting remark about the president can land the speaker in prison, his earlier remarks were inflammatory stuff and the MPs laid into each other. Erdogan launched a civil action against the deputy, demanding one million lira (about $164,000) in damages, and an investigation was launched by the state prosecutor’s office.   Under article 299 of the penal code, insulting the president is criminalized.

Ozkoc cannot claim automatic parliamentary immunity as MPs voted to lift it in 2016. The prosecutor’s office quickly sent a brief to parliament with a request that his immunity be lifted so he could be prosecuted. By May 2019, the prosecutor had presented the parliament with 608 requests for the lifting of immunity, so Ozkoc’s name has now been tacked on to a long list. The targeted deputies are mainly from the largely Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP), along with a sprinkling of deputies from the CHP, including the party leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

The parliamentary stoush was hardly an aberration. Brawls in recent years, with deputies swinging punches, standing on desks and hurling various objects at each other, include the melee over a bill of ‘homeland security’ in 2015 that widened the use of force police could use against demonstrators. On that occasion, four MPs were so badly hurt they needed hospital treatment.

The debate over the lifting of parliamentary immunity in 2016 was marked by another furious brawl before the legislation was passed. In 2017 the MPs brawled over the plan to turn the parliamentary rule into an executive presidency. In 2018 the cause was the redrawing of electoral boundaries. The fist-fighting inside the parliament can be seen as a microcosm of the angry atmosphere outside, fuelled by the government, in which criticism is quickly turned into support for terrorism.

Whom the parliamentary deputy Ozkoc meant by three million slaughtered Muslims is not clear but his reference to the ‘Greater Middle East’ project should be noted by attentive readers. Years ago Erdogan described himself as the “co-chair” of the Greater Middle East project without saying who was the other chair. Reporting the occasion, Breitbart thought it was a euphemism for “an Islamic Turkish caliphate,” with Erdogan at its head. Perhaps the other chair was the US, where in the 1990s the neocons had laid their own plans for a ‘Greater Middle East’ but Erdogan undoubtedly would have had his own aspirations as a world-historical Muslim figure in mind.

The phrase ‘Great East’ if not ‘Middle East’ has deep roots in modern Turkish history, arising from the writings of  Necip Fazil Kisakurek, whose Islam-based nationalism is clearly the ideological mother lode for the direction in which Erdogan has taken Turkey. Buyuk Dogu (Great East) was Kisakurek’s central contribution and the name of the magazine he founded.

Born into an upper-class family, a student in Paris of the philosopher Henri Bergson, who favored intuition over rational analysis, Kisakurek (1904-83) was simultaneously poet, novelist, university professor, Sufi,  Islamist and nationalist who in the 1930s and 40s sought to replace Kemalist nationalism with Islam.

It was, however, a narrow and restrictive Islam. For Kisakurek Islam was only Sunni Islam,  with antipathy to Judaism and Christianity added to his hostility to Shia and Turkey’s large Alevi (Alawi) population.

In 1970 Salih Erdis (Salih Mirzabeyoglu) founded the Great Eastern Islamic Raiders’ Front (IBDA-C), which, based on Kisakurek’s teachings, called for the restitution of the caliphate and carried forward Kisakurek’s hostility to non-Sunni Muslims, Christians, and Jews.  In 2001 Erdis was sentenced to death for undermining the secular state. The death penalty abolished in 2002, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2004.

Outside prison, his followers continued with his mission. In November 2003 they exploded truck bombs outside Istanbul’s two main synagogues, killing more than 20 people. Elsewhere a few days later they launched terrorist attacks against the British consulate and the Istanbul headquarters of the HSBC bank.

Having been released from prison in July 2014, Salih Erdis gave a talk later in the year at a congress center in Istanbul. Finding out that Erdogan would be speaking at the same location the same day, Erdis passed on a message that he would like to meet him and the president agreed. What they discussed remained between them but it has to be regarded as significant that the president would agree to sit down for a chat with a man who was both anti-secular and a convicted terrorist.

The parliamentary brawl over the Idlib operation captured in essence growing public disquiet over Turkey’s presence in Syria,  especially since the airstrike in late February that killed  34 soldiers (the rumors quickly spread that the real toll was upwards of 200). The disquiet is not sudden, however, and not just over Syria,  but has been growing steadily over the years, with a flailing economy among the many causes of disaffection with Erdogan and the AKP government. Beyond Turkey’s borders, Erdogan has fallen out with Russia, the US and the EU over a host of issues. They clearly have run out of patience with him.

Elections and public opinion polls show a consistent downward trend. In June 2015 the ruling party lost its absolute majority in parliament, recovering it only after an election campaign fought around the theme of national solidarity against Kurdish terrorism. In local elections in March 2019, repeated in June after AKP protests of irregularities, the government was defeated by CHP candidates in five of Turkey’s biggest cities (Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Adana, and Antalya).

While Turkish opinion polls are not the most reliable, the net result can hardly be ignored. In February 2020  a Metropoll survey showed Erdogan’s popularity (41.1 percent) down by seven percent from October 2019. Disapproval of the president rose to 51.7 percent, compared to 38 percent last October. Turkey’s military presence in Idlib was regarded as unnecessary by 48.8 percent of those surveyed, with only 30.7 percent approving, but as this was before the national outrage generated by the killing of the 34 soldiers, these percentages have no doubt changed. These figures have to set against the 68 percent approval rating for Erdogan after the 2016 coup attempt.

Another February 2020 poll, taken by AREA research in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Antalya, Samsun, Malatya and Gaziantep (conservative, close to the border with Syria and hosting a Turkish-backed proxy Syrian government) showed that only 30.3 percent of respondents would vote for the AKP if elections were held now, with 20.8 choosing the CHP and 10.8 the HDP.

Of the respondents,  57.3 percent favored a return to parliamentary rule and 56.7 percent did not regard the presidential system as “successful.” Only 35.7 percent regarded the presidential system as “successful.” Asked who they would vote for now, in a presidential election, 35.3 said Erdogan, 52.4 percent were against him and 12.3 percent were undecided.

Compounding economic and other problems for the AKP and Erdogan are serious splits within the party, with two influential figures, former economy minister Ali Babacan and former foreign minister and prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu resigning to form parties of their own. Furthermore, the AKP is losing members:  membership in 2016 stood at 10.72 million, but by 2018 had dropped to 9.87 million and is bound to have declined further since then because of the state of the economy and the war in Syria and the problems it has created,  not just the death of young soldiers but the presence of several million refugees in Turkey.

Elections (presidential and general) are not due again until 2023. Erdogan is an experienced and wily political practitioner so it would be most unwise to count him out but definitely the luster has worn thin if not completely worn off for a lot of people.

The deal with Putin allowed him to save face at home, at the cost of giving up the fight for control of the strategic M4 highway. The government has regularly issued details of Syrian soldiers it says have been “neutralized” along with figures of destroyed artillery and armor but it has taken heavy punishment itself, losing between 10 and 13 large armored drones apart from the death of its soldiers and the army’s “Syrian national army” takfiri auxiliaries.

Ceasefires may put off the evil day of withdrawal but Syria has turned into a cul de sac for Erdogan and a dead-end for his country. To public pain at the death of Turkish soldiers in Syria has been added anger at Erdogan’s almost casual reference to the death of “a few martyrs” in Libya.

In short, 2020 is not opening well for Tayyip Erdogan.

March 7, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

US scraps plans to buy Israeli Iron Dome missile systems

Press TV – March 7, 2020

The United States has decided to scrap its plans to buy two more batteries of the Israeli-made Iron Dome missile system due to concerns about its compatibility with existing American technologies.

The main problem has been Israel’s refusal to provide the US military with Iron Dome’s source code which is needed to integrate the system into American air defenses, according to the army.

General Mike Murray, head of Army Futures Command, said Thursday that based on some cyber vulnerabilities and operational challenges, the army failed to integrate elements of Iron Dome with the US Army’s Integrated Battle Command System.

“It took us longer to acquire those [first] two batteries than we would have liked,” Murray said. “We believe we cannot integrate them into our air defense system based on some interoperability challenges, some cyber challenges and some other challenges.”

In August 2019, the US Defense Department finalized a deal to buy two batteries of the Israeli-made Iron Dome missile system for its interim cruise missile defense capability.

Soon thereafter, army officials repeatedly requested Iron Dome “source code”, according to sources. Israel supplied engineering information but ultimately declined to provide the source code.

“So what we’ve ended up having was two stand-alone batteries that will be very capable but they cannot be integrated into our air defense system,” Murray said.

Because Iron Dome will not be integrated with other elements of the US Army’s air- and missile-defense system, the service is cancelling plans to buy a second pair of Iron Dome batteries by 2023.

“So, we’re working on a path right now… on a way forward,” Murray said. “We anticipate a shoot-off open to US industry, foreign industry, to go after whatever is the best solution to provide that capability.”

The US military has already tested the system. In September 2017, Israel loaned the US an Iron Dome battery, which was flown to the missile range in White Sands, New Mexico.

The US Army has been working with Israeli weapons maker Rafael to develop an American version of the interceptor system since 2017.

In order to integrate the missile system, the US military was going to invest $289.7 million in the missile system in the current fiscal year and another $83.8 million for the next fiscal year.

In total, the US Army would spend $1.6 billion for Iron Dome’s full integration until 2024.

The Iron Dome has been co-developed by American company Raytheon and Israeli defense firm Rafael. It is partly manufactured in the United States.

The Iron Dome is claimed to be capable of detecting, assessing and intercepting a variety of shorter-range targets such as rockets, artillery and mortars.

The system was originally developed to counter small rockets that Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups fired into Israeli occupied territories in retaliation for the regime’s crimes against Palestinians.

The Iron Dome has proven largely ineffective in serving that purpose.

March 7, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , | 3 Comments