Recep Tayyip Erdogan

A geopolitical tsunami has hit Middle East: It’s music to Modi’s India

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

A geopolitical tsunami has hit Middle East and it has the potential to change the contours and politics of the region for decades.

Israel and United Arab Emirates signed a peace deal in early hours of Friday (Indian Standard Time) which would split open the Middle East into camps of “future” and “past.”

“Future” belongs to those Islamic states who are bound to follow the example of UAE and drop the cloak of hostility of decades against the Jewish state. “Past” is those regressive actors of the region who prefer bloodshed to keep nurturing the blood-soaked tree of hatred and enmity.

First the bare facts. The United States president Donald Trump has announced that Israel and the UAE have reached a diplomatic agreement. In exchange, Israel would suspend the annexation of occupied West Bank territory.

Israel’s embattled prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, assailed by corruption charges, had announced that he would annex 30 percent of West Bank which has Jewish settlers and leave the remaining 70% in the hands of the Palestinian authority.

This was an improvement on the previous plan drawn by Jared Kushner, a senior advisor to his father-in-law Trump, which had outlined a negotiated settlement between the two: West Bank being divided between Israel (30% annexation) and Palestinian Authority (70%) who could set up an independent state. Palestinians lost little time in rejecting the plan.

A peeved Netanyahu then announced that he would annex the 30 percent of West Bank he had in mind for the Jewish state anyway by July 1. It set off a storm of words and finger-wagging. Egypt, Jordan and a host of other Arab states warned of consequences. The Jewish settlers in West Bank were unhappy too.

What happened next was a masterstroke. Israel turned this non-starter into something magical. Netanyahu somehow convinced Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of the UAE, nudged of course by Donald Trump, to shake hands and announce a formal deal of peace and prosperity between two sworn enemies. In return, Israel suspended its plan to annex part of West Bank.

Netanyahu could thus show his people that if he hasn’t fulfilled his plans in West Bank, he has been able to strike a historic deal with a traditional enemy. Zayed could tell his people that he was able to stop the annexation of West Bank.

It’s not just a win-win situation for both these nations. Other Gulf sheikhdoms like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman would lose little time in making open what they have been doing secretly with Israel behind public glare. They would hate for the UAE to offer its financial paradise in exchange for Israel’s technological prowess—be it in agriculture, health care or in cyberspace.

The losers of course would be Iran, Turkey, Yemen, Syria and all their proxies like Hezbollah, Hamas, Houthis etc who could find themselves out in cold. The Palestinian Authority has also been dealt a body blow. It’s all Arab and Gulf allies would no longer be by its side. It is in this background that one has to view the deadly Israeli cyberattack on Iran in recent months, undeniably bolstered by its growing footprints in the enemy’s camps.

Certain expected reactions are already flowing in. The Palestinian ambassador to the UAE is being recalled over. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has described the deal as “treason.” Hamas has called it “stabbing in the back of our people.”

Netanyahu meanwhile has announced his commitment to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. This is only for the consumption of his domestic audience. It won’t happen soon. Netanyahu would hope this deal with UAE would secure his place in history, like it did for Richard Nixon, battling Watergate, by opening the doors of China for the world.

It’s a marvellous news for Indian ears. India has grown astonishingly close to Saudi Arabia and UAE during Modi government’s two tenure at the helm. It had been concerned about its deteriorating ties with Iran and has watched it with alarm that the latter has fallen into the lap of China. India has also been upset by Turkey’s hostility, its president Recep Tayyip Erdogan using his acerbic tongue like a Wild West desperado does by shooting from its hips.

Better still, this deal will hurt Pakistan big time. It would force them to come out in open, in support or against the deal. It’s given it won’t support the Israel-UAE deal. It would thus only push them into more regressive elements of Islamic world. A Sunni Pakistan in bed with a Shia Iran is a delicious prospect we shall await.

Indian Muslims, next time you hold aloft anti-CAA banner, remember this for your own good

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

I guess there is little avoiding the anti-CAA protests once Corona pandemic goes as unannounced as it came in 2020.

A Shaheen Bagh here, a state assembly in ferment there, Jamia and JNU on boil, Cars and buses in leaping flames, narrowed eyes looking for that saffron or skullcap which could comfort or disorient in equal measure.

One morning, European Union is making front page in Muzaffarnagar. The other dawn would acquaint Ferozabad how human rights warriors in the august US Congress are brothers in spirit. Someday Turkey’s strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan would talk of “massacres of Muslims in India.” The other would’ve Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) warning of “serious implications” if India doesn’t look after its Muslims.

And there would always be an Imran Khan, Asaduddin Owaisi, Sitaram Yechury or a Rahul Gandhi who would recall Godse in prime minister Narendra Modi, their bloodied hearts in front of camera an act worthy of Oscars.

Such solidarity aligns a Muslim from Kashmir to Kuwait, Moradabad to Morocco, Shahjahanpur to Saudi Arabia, Lucknow to Lebanon, Hyderabad to Hamedan. Islam binds them; a pact of faith and piety; a soldiering spirit which revisits the pages of history and underlines how Jihad never loses.

It stops them from recoiling when illustrators are gunned down in Paris on seeing a cartoon in Prophet Muhammad; a Salman Rushdie driven to the end of the world on Satanic Verses. Islam pervades the world, overrides governments, the rod of God which spares no one.

But what happens to this global brotherhood when a million Muslims are locked up, their women sterilized, their children snatched from parents and made strangers to Islam in their growing years. What explains the silence of 57 Islamic nations which make up OIC, or EUs and US Congress, the Erdogans and Mahatirs and Imran Khans; the Owaisis and Yechuris who are a Muslim-Left global pact in miniature. Why in this case MuslimLivesDon’tMatter?

I of course am referring to China and its repression of Uighur Muslims in its Xinjiang province which is one of history’s most evil, heinous, barbaric pogrom a State has carried on its citizens ever. For over a decade, the Uighurs are being kept in suffocating controls, their neighbourhood infested with the influx of Han Chinese and their religion and culture systematically wiped out.

Internal Chinese government documents leaked in late 2019 have revealed that such is the fate of a million Muslims detained without charges or legal access; and 11 million Muslims outside who are made to renounce Islam, learn Mandarin and sing the virtues of Communism. Satellite imagery show that these detention camps are roughly the size of 140 soccer fields.

It goes without saying that if even a millionth of this was to happen in India, the nation would go deaf by noise at home and abroad. It could even be kept hungry or wounded by economic and military actions. Yet not a word comes China’s way by way of criticism on its Uighar pogrom. Not those champions of Islam who sit in Riyadh and Tehran. Who are the Iraq and Egypt of our world. The Islamic State (IS) who are torching the European capitals. Muslim lives suddenly don’t matter to them. Moolah over Mullah zips their lips courtesy the riches which flow through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by the totalitarian China.

The hypocrisy of these champions would become stark to Indian Muslim in coming weeks. It so happens that on Monday, two Uighur exiles groups have gone to International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Beijing’s genocide and crimes against humanity.

This is first-ever global attempt to hold China accountable for its merciless crackdown on Muslim minority of Xinjiang. A team of London-based lawyers are representing East Turkistan Government in Exile and the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement. Since China is not a signatory of ICC, these activists have opted for a roundabout way to bring China to heels.

In 2018, ICC had censored Myanmar, even though the latter wasn’t its member, by citing the instance of its member-state Bangladesh who was reeling due to Myanmar’s “deportation” and “crimes” against Rohingya Muslims.

Likewise, in the present case, Beijing is being drawn in ICC ambit through its unlawful actions in Cambodia and Tajikistan who are members of this international body. The petition states that thousands of Uighurs are being unlawfully arrested and deported from Cambodia and Tajikistan. The complaint against Beijing includes evidence of forced deportations and extraterritorial arrests by the Chinese agents.

It may take months before the ICC makes a formal move. But it would be interesting for Indian citizens, more so its Muslim minority, to watch how the developments are hidden from their views by India’s Leftist media. You won’t hear a word in solidarity from Owaisis and Yechurys. Their heart won’t bleed at the plight of Muslims. But once Corona pandemic passes, you would see them clearing their throats and exhorting the protestors on-their-bums. An Arundhati Roy would emerge from her closet.

So use your judgment, my Muslim brethren. Pay heed to what Supreme Court rules on the CAA matter. Modi’s Centre has time and again invited a meeting across the table to clear your doubts and anxieties. Your cause is a contortion by the voices which din in your ears ceaselessly. This is your country, it’s future is your concern. When you don’t come on the negotiating table, you are holding the country to ransom. Sooner or later, the Centre or majority, or both, would push back. You not only are burying the future of your children but are also alienating the majority who view this petulance as inimical to India’s wellbeing.

 

 

 

The US links Gulen can’t deny

The world has woken up to Fethullah Gulen after Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed him for failed coup of Friday. My book, “HOW UNITED STATES SHOT HUMANITY: Muslims Ruined; Europe Next” has given a detailed background of this feud. Excerpts:

Fethullah Gulen is a 74-year- old bachelor of rather sad countenance, despite his white moustaches and strong, wide nose. For 27 years now, he has lived in a self-imposed exile in a tiny Pennsylvania town called Saylorsburg in the US. Here is his “The Camp” consisting of series of houses, a community center, a pond and acres of space. It’s the headquarters of a worldwide religious, social and political movement, “the Cemaat” or “the Community”.

Gulen leads six million followers who, in the spirit of his name, operate schools,universities, corporations, nonprofit and media organizations around the globe.In a 2008 online poll, devised by the British magazine Prospect and the American magazine Foreign Policy, Gulen was voted as the most significant intellectual of the world. Graham Fuller, a former CIA agent and author of several books on political Islam, termed Gulen as leading “one of the most important movements in the Muslim world today.”

Somehow everything in Turkey is linked to Gulen. Whatever you do, buying bakery or filing up gas, it could all be going back to Gulen’s network. Fethullah Gulen was born in 1941 in a village outside the eastern city of Erzurum. He began praying when he was only four years old, and learned Arabic from his father. At school, he joined Kurdish intellectual Said Nursi’s movement, which was similar to Sufi brotherhood. He became a state imam in 1958 and after his military service, moved to Izmir. In 1969, he began preaching his own version of Nursi’s ideas. Soon his following grew.

In due course, Gulen built schools. He formed “lighthouses” where rural kids who had come to cities to study, could stay. He founded publishing companies. By the 1980s, the statist economy in Turkey had opened up. Restrictions on religious groups had eased. In 1983, Gulen’s followers founded a conglomerate Kaynak Holding which today has several companies in retail, IT, construction and food industries. Its’ main division, Kaynak Publishing, maintains 28 publishing labels. It controls several TV stations. In 1996, loyal men encouraged by Gulen, established Bank Asya, now Turkey’s largest Islamic bank. A charity called “Is Anybody There” gives 5 to 10 per cent of its income to projects.

Schools though remain central to Gulen’s orbit. He has them in Central Asia; he runs them in far-flung places like Indonesia, Sudan and Pakistan. Even non-Muslim countries like Mexico and Japan have them. Gulenists’ school and universities are spread over 100 countries. They even had schools in Afghanistan in the 1990s.Gulen found a way to ease Islam back into Turkey’s mainstream. He played on Turkey’s past. “Turkey was once very successful and then it became so badly considered in the world,” he said. “You can not expect to sit in one place and hope things will change. You have to go out…represent your culture and values in a good way.”

Gulen had discovered that the secular Turkish Republic suffered from a cultural void. Gulen’s movement is the story of modern Turkey’s evolution towards Islam.

In 2000, Gulen was charged with treason by the Turkish state, in pre-Erdogan era.The year before, a video had surfaced in which Gulen said: “You must move in the arteries of the system, without anyone noticing your existence, until you reach all the power centres…until that time, any step taken would be too early, like breaking an egg without waiting the full 40 days for it to hatch.” Gulen denied the charge, claimed the video had been tampered with. In 2006, he was acquitted of all charges of conspiracy.

By then Turkey had gone through a tectonic shift under Erdogan. The dominance of secularists and their allies in the military was over. The rise of AK Party shrunk the space for secularists. Erdogan himself wasn’t a Gulenist. But both he and the Gulen movement had a common enemy in the old elites. It was a natural alliance. Erdogan’s biggest gain was to get the army out of politics. The support of Gulenists and their cultural affiliation of Islam were immense.

Gulenists are accused of running a parallel society in Turkey. When AK Party-backed constitutional referendum was passed in 2010, Erdogan hailed the strong support of Gulen and his media. However, rift soon began to surface. Erdogan became more powerful and more authoritative. Gulen spoke against the Turkish Marmara Flotilla issue that aimed to break the Gaza blockade and was attacked by Israeli forces in 2010. This was the moment when Erdogan began suspecting “Gulen-Israel axis” with US as puppet-master. He believed Gulen had joined forces with Zionists and West who wanted to weaken Turkey.

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An international geo-strategic analyst William Engdahl has no doubt Gulen is a CIA prop. His arguments are compelling. “There is more to Gulen and his Cemaat” than it’s pious mask.

US feared Soviet Union during the Cold War in 1970s. It also kept an eye on Turkey. Soviet Union and Turkey were both God-less nations. Gulen and his moderate Islam fitted the US agenda. He could cause “unrest” among Muslims of Turkey or ones in Soviet Union and its Central Asian vessel states. Central Asia is also a vital region between China and Russia.

The Chechnya terror of the 1990s alarmed Russia. It understood the Muslim orientation of Gulen’s methods. Russia moved swiftly to ban Gulen’s schools. Gulen was further alarmed when Kurdish movement leader Abdullah Ocalan was kidnapped from Nairobi and brought to Turkey in 1999. Sensing he would be next, Gulen fled to the United States.

Erdogan, Ocalan and Gulen are three power centres of Turkey. Erdogan runs the country; ulen runs a “parallel state” with his “cells” in police, security, intelligence, army, education etc in thousands while Ocalan, as head of the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) holds sway over 10 million Kurds or 18% of Turkish population. Before his arrest in 1999, clashes between PKK and the state had cost Turkey 40,000 lives. For a decade, between 1999-2009, Ocalan was the sole prisoner on the Imrali island in the Sea of Marmara.

Gulen didn’t want such a fate. He fled Turkey to avoid prosecution for treason. He didn’t choose Central Asia, Middle East or Russia. He saw security only in the United States.

His quest for preference visa, green card and permanent US residence was smoothened by three CIA operatives—George Fidas, US ambassador to Turkey and an ex-CIA deputy director; Morton Abranowitz of state department and an “informal” CIA link; and Graham E. Fuller who spent 27 years with the CIA. One of Gulen’s official references to the court for his residency, was Graham Fuller.

Fuller’s daughter Samantha was married to Ruslan Tsarni, a Chechen whose two nephews were behind the Boston Marathon bombings of April 15, 2013 which killed 3 people and injured 264 others. Ruslan worked for companies associated with Halliburton, the multinational juggernaut run by Dick Cheney before he became vice-president of the United States. He was “consultant” for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Kazakhstan. Russia barred USAID from its soil in late 2012 alleging USAID and CIA were exacerbating the Chechen terrorism.

Fuller served 15 years as an intelligence officer in various countries of the Middle East and Asia. He was deeply involved in Afghanistan in the 1980s; helped arm Iran against Iraq and suggested to the Clinton administration to use Muslims to further US interests in Central Asia. He wrote a book about Turkey, “The New Turkish Republic” in 2008 where he advocated “moderate Islam,” with heaps of praise on Gulen.

Gulen, however, was seen by insiders as anything but moderate. WikiLeaks reveal Istanbul chief Rabbi Ishak Haleva had warned US of Gulen, saying he is a “radical Islamist” hiding behind the cloak of moderation. In 2010, a retired Turkish intelligence chief, Osman Nuri Gundes claimed in his memoirs that Gulen’s movement had been providing cover for the CIA since mid-90s. It “sheltered 130 CIA agents” at its schools in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan alone. Hundreds of these agents functioned under cover as “native-speaking English teachers.”

Abramowitz, another of Gulen’s facilitator in the US, officially worked under the state department. He served on board of the US Congress-financed National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and was a co-founder with George Soros of the International Crisis Group (ISG). Both the groups have been implicated in various US government-backed “colour revolutions” since the 1990s collapse of the Soviet Union: from Otpor in Serbia to the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine; the 2009 Green Revolution in Iran to 2011 Lotus Revolution in Tahrir Square in Egypt to 2013-14 coup in Ukraine.

Gulen had hired Karen Hughes to brush up his “moderate Islam” image. Hughes was a long-time Bush confidant and loyalist. In 1984, she was Texas press coordinator for the Reagan-Bush campaign. Since 1994, she worked with George Bush first as director of his campaign for the office of governor of Texas, and then as a counselor from 2001 to 2002 while he was president of the United States. Bush appointed Karen Hughes as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy on March 14, 2005.

The “Deep State” within the US had used Gulen to demonize Erdogan when the latter began to drift away by 2010. Erdogan allegedly violated US oil sanctions against Iran. He also was at odds with US over’s Israel’s offensives in the Gaza strip. Erdogan accused Israel of “genocide” of Palestinians. A volley of words flew between Washington and  Ankara. Erdogan made public that he had stopped any phone contact with President Barack Obama.

A corruption scandal against Erdogan blazed the headlines before the presidential elections in 2013. Wiretap recordings of senior officials were leaked and posted on the internet. One such leak that emerged in February 2014 allegedly had Erdogan instructing his son Bilal to dispose off 30 million euros. Erdogan supporters saw the hands of Gulen, and US, behind it.

By mid-2014 Erdogan government had cracked down. Several were held for setting up bugs on Erdogan. Dozens of police officials were detained. Before the year was out, Erdogan had won the first presidential elections. A Turkish court now issued a warrant for Gulen’s arrest. Erdogan accused him of running a parallel government. He urged US authorities to extradite Gulen.

(NewsBred adds: The renewed demand of Erdogan for US to extradite or arrest Gulen is sure to cause bad blood between two allies. It could have huge ramifications for allies’ fight against Islamic State (IS), the refugees issue and Turkey’s tilt towards Russia of late. Turkey, it seems, has all but given up hope of joining European Union.

The book, “HOW UNITED STATES SHOT HUMANITY: Muslims Ruined; Europe Next” is available on all platforms.)