Europe’s ‘Turkish Awakening’ by Burak Bekdil

  • Europe looks united in not allowing Erdogan to export Turkey’s sometimes even violent political polarization into the Old Continent.Erdogan clearly rejected Merkel’s mention of “Islamist terror” on grounds that “the expression saddens Muslims because Islam and terror cannot coexist”.

  • Turkey increasingly looks like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. An Iraqi government guide refused to discuss politics: “In Iraq half the population are spies… spying on the other half.”
  • Officially, Erdogan’s Turkey has embarked on a journey toward Western democracy. Instead, its Islamist ethos is at war with Western democracy.

Turkey, officially, is a candidate for full membership in the European Union. It is also negotiating with Brussels a deal which would allow millions of Turks to travel to Europe without visa. But Turkey is not like any other European country that joined or will join the EU: The Turks’ choice of a leader, in office since 2002, too visibly makes this country the odd one out.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is now campaigning to broaden his constitutional powers, which would make him head of state, head of government and head of the ruling party — all at the same time — is inherently autocratic and anti-Western. He seems to view himself as a great Muslim leader fighting armies of infidel crusaders. This image, with which he portrays himself, finds powerful echoes among millions of conservative Turks and [Sunni] Islamists across the Middle East. That, among other excesses in the Turkish style, makes Turkey totally incompatible with Europe in political culture.

Yet, there is always the lighter side of things. Take, for example, Melih Gokcek, the mayor of Ankara and a bigwig in Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP). In February Gokcek claimed that earthquakes in a western Turkish province could have been organized by dark external powers (read: Western infidels) aiming to destroy Turkey’s economy with an “artificial earthquake” near Istanbul. According to this conspiracy theory, the mayor not only claims that the earthquake in western Turkey was the work of the U.S. and Israel, but also that the U.S. created the radical Islamic State (ISIS). In fact, according to him, the U.S. and Israel colluded to trigger an earthquake in Turkey so they could capture energy from the Turkish fault line.

Matters between Turkey and Europe are far more tense today than ridiculous statements from politicians who want to look pretty to Erdogan. The president, willingly ignoring his own strong anti-Semitic views, recently accused Germany of “fascist actions” reminiscent of Nazi times, in a growing row over the cancellation of political rallies aimed at drumming up support for him among 1.5 million Turkish citizens in Germany.

The Dutch, Erdogan apparently thinks, are no different. In a similar diplomatic row over Turkish political rallies in the Netherlands, Erdogan described the Dutch government as “Nazi remnants and fascists”. After barring Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from entering the country by airplane, the Dutch authorities also escorted another Turkish minister out of the country. Quite a humiliation, no doubt. An angry Erdogan promised the Netherlands would pay a price for that.

Dutch police in Rotterdam use batons, dogs and water cannon to control a riot that broke out when pro-Erdogan crowds violently protested the Dutch government’s refusal of entry to Turkish government ministers, on March 11, 2017. The Turkish ministers had planned to address political rallies of Turks in the Netherlands. (Image source: RT video screenshot)

Europe, not just Germany and the Netherlands, looks united in not allowing Erdogan to export Turkey’s highly tense and sometimes even violent political polarization into the Old Continent. There are media reports that the owner of a venue in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, has now cancelled a pro-Erdogan rally, although Sweden’s foreign ministry said it was not involved in the decision.

Europe’s anti-Erdogan sentiment is going viral. Denmark’s prime minister, Lars Loekke Rasmussen, said that he asked his Turkish counterpart, Binali Yildirim, to postpone a planned visit because of tensions between Turkey and the Netherlands. Although Turkey thanked France for allowing Foreign Minister Cavusoglu to address a gathering of Turkish “expats” in the city of Metz, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called on Turkish authorities to “avoid excesses and provocations”.

None of the incidents that forcefully point to Europe’s “Turkish awakening” happened out of the blue. At the beginning of February, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Erdogan held a tense meeting in Ankara. Erdogan clearly rejected Merkel’s mention of “Islamist terror” on grounds that “the expression saddens Muslims because Islam and terror cannot coexist”. The row came at a time when a German investigation into Turkish imams in Germany spying on Erdogan’s foes made signs of reaching out to other parts of Europe. Peter Pilz, an Austrian lawmaker, said that he was in possession of documents from 30 countries that revealed a “global spying network” at Turkish diplomatic missions.

At the beginning of March, after Turkey said it would defy opposition from German and Dutch authorities and continue holding rallies in both countries, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern called for an EU-wide ban on campaign appearances by Turkish politicians.

In response, further challenging Europe, Turkey arrested Deniz Yucel, a Turkish-German reporter for a prominent German newspaper, Die Welt, on charges of “propaganda in support of a terrorist organization and inciting the public to violence.” Yucel had been detained after he reported on emails that a leftist hacker collective had purportedly obtained from the private account of Berat Albayrak, Turkey’s energy minister and Erdogan’s son-in-law.

Erdogan’s propaganda war on “infidel” Europe has the potential to further poison both bilateral relations with individual countries and with Europe as a bloc. Not even the Turkish “expats” are happy. The leader of Germany’s Turkish community accused Erdogan of damaging ties between the two NATO allies. Gokay Sofuoglu, chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany, which is an umbrella for 270 member organizations, said: “Erdogan went a step too far. Germany should not sink to his level”.

The most recent wave of tensions between Erdogan’s Turkey and Europe, which it theoretically aspires to join, have once again unveiled the long-tolerated incompatibility between Turkey’s predominantly conservative, Islamist and often anti-Western political culture and Europe’s liberal values.

Turkey increasingly looks like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. During my 1989 visit to Iraq a Turkish-speaking government guide refused to discuss Iraqi politics, justifying his reluctance as: “In Iraq half the population are spies… spying on the other half.” Erdogan’s Turkey has officially embarked on a journey toward Western democracy. Instead, its Islamist mindset is at war with Western democracy.

Burak Bekdil, one of Turkey’s leading journalists, was just fired from Turkey’s leading newspaper after 29 years, for writing what was taking place in Turkey for Gatestone. He is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Europe’s “Good Terrorists”: Because They Might Destroy Israel? by Khaled Abu Toameh

  • Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri would like the Europeans to understand that they need not worry about terrorism by the Islamist movement because the attacks will be directed only against Israel.The European Court of Justice (EJC) is sending the message to Hamas that Europeans see no problem with Hamas’s desire to destroy Israel and continue to launch terrorist attacks against Jews. This message also undermines those Palestinians who still believe in a peace with Israel.

  • The EJC recommendation to remove Hamas from the EU’s terrorism blacklist comes at a time when countries such as Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and even Saudi Arabia, as well as the Palestinian Authority, are doing their utmost to weaken Hamas.
  • Appeasing terrorists is a dangerous game: it has already backfired on its foolhardy players and will continue to do so. This is exactly how Muslims conquered Iran, Turkey, North Africa and much of Europe, including Hungary, Greece, Poland, Romania, and the Balkans — countries that still recall a real “occupation,” an Islamist one, and abundantly want none of it.
  • The EU and the ECJ need to be stopped before they do any more harm to Palestinians, Christians and Jews — or to Europe.

Once again, the Europeans seem to be in Alice’s Wonderland when they consider Palestinian affairs in particular and the Middle East in general. The renewed attempt by the European Union to remove the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas from its terrorism list is a case in point.

Recently, an advisor to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) recommended that Hamas be removed from the EU’s terrorism blacklist. In 2014, the EU’s second-highest court ruled that Hamas should be taken off the list on “technical” grounds. It argued that Hamas’s listing was not based on evidence, but on “factual imputations derived from the press and the internet.”

However, the European Council then appealed this judgement, arguing that Hamas should remain on the terrorism blacklist, citing a 2001 decision by the UK and the US that designated both Hamas and the Tamil Tigers as terrorist groups. But the recent opinion by the ECJ advisor dismisses this argument. “The council cannot rely on facts and evidence found in press articles and information from the internet,” Advocate General Eleanor Sharpton said. She explained that the council could not rely on terrorist listings by countries (the UK and US) outside the EU.

This latest highly dangerous European attempt to strike Hamas from the terrorism blacklist will, as the EU knows perfectly well, only serve further to embolden the Islamist movement to replace Israel with an Islamic empire.

Removing Hamas from the terrorism list would obviously be seen as a severe blow to Hamas’s rivals in the Western-backed and funded Palestinian Authority (PA), and to the efforts to revive any peace process between the Palestinians and Israel.

As this is not the EU’s first attempt to do this, it is hard not to conclude what many Palestinians have suspected all along: that the EU and its affiliates do not care if the Palestinians and others in the area are overrun by Hamas terrorists and are forced to live under the rule of despotic Islamist militants.

The recent opinion by the European court advisor lightheartedly ignores Hamas’s own statements concerning its true intentions and continued preparations for war against Israel. It is hard not to conclude that this is what the EU secretly wants — perhaps for Muslim voters, who brought to power France’s President François Hollande, perhaps in the hope of buying off terrorists so that they avoid further attacks in Europe, perhaps to continue good business deals with Arab and Muslim countries, and, of course, perhaps all of the above.

It came as no surprise, therefore, that Hamas was quick to “welcome” the opinion of the European Court advisor to whitewash and legitimize the Islamist terror movement. “Hamas considers the recommendation a first step towards removing the sin committed by the European Union towards the Palestinian people when it demonstrated bias in favor of Israel by placing Hamas on the terrorism list,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, who welcomed the opinion and called on the Europeans to abide by it. Hamas, he added, has always been keen on openness towards the West and on building strong humanitarian and political relations with it. Israel is the only enemy of Hamas, Abu Zuhri stressed.

In other words, Abu Zuhri would like the Europeans to understand that they need not worry about terrorism by the Islamist movement because the attacks will be directed only against Israel. Hamas wants “openness” and “strong” ties with the Europeans because it believes that this will advance its goal of implementing its charter, which calls for the elimination of Israel. This is how Hamas understands the renewed bid to have it removed from the EU’s terrorism blacklist. And it is improbable that the EU, which for decades has sought “good relations” between the two sides of the Mediterranean, does not understand it that way, too.

Even more improbable is that some Europeans believe that Hamas should not be on the terrorism only on the basis of press articles and information on the internet — as if what is being said about Hamas and its goals are rumors or unsubstantiated charges that need to be verified, and for which there is no basis.

What of Hamas’s own charter, which calls for Jihad (holy war) against Israel. “There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad,” the charter states. It goes on to say that the

“liberation of that land (Palestine) is an individual duty binding on all Muslims everywhere. In order to face the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews, we have no escape from raising the banner of Jihad…We must spread the spirit of Jihad among the (Islamic) Umma, clash with the enemies and join the ranks of the Jihad fighters. The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine has been an Islamic Wakf throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection, no one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it.”

Okay, one might argue, so the Europeans will not take seriously the Hamas covenant. Yet what does the ECJ make of the incessant rhetoric of Hamas?

Here is what Fathi Hammad, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, had to say after the recommendation: “Resistance is the only way to liberate Palestine from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river.” Praising the recent wave of Palestinian knife and car-ramming attacks on Israelis, Hammad called on Palestinians to rise against any peace process with Israel. “The path of negotiations has dissipated the Palestinian cause,” he added.

In a statement marking the first anniversary of the anti-Israel attacks, which is being referred to by many Palestinians as the “Jerusalem Intifada,” Hamas said this week that the wave of terrorism will not stop “until the occupation is driven out of Jerusalem, the West Bank and all Palestine.” Reiterating its refusal to recognize the “Zionist Entity’s” right to exist, Hamas said that the Palestinians maintain the right to “resistance in all its forms.”

Let us translate that for a moment: When Hamas talks about “resistance in all its forms,” it is referring to killing Jews with suicide bombings, rockets, knives and vehicles. As far as Hamas is concerned, Palestinians are entitled to use all these methods to kill as many Jews as possible and drive them out, to “liberate all of Palestine.” Notably, this statement was issued after, not before, the recent recommendation by the European court advisor to remove Hamas from the terrorism list. This is far from simply another “press article” or “rumor” published on the internet; this is an official statement released by the Hamas leadership.

Thousands of armed Hamas troops showed off their military hardware at a Dec. 14, 2014 parade in Gaza, marking the organization’s 27th anniversary. (Image source: PressTV video screenshot)

To its credit, and despite the clearly genocidal ECJ recommendation, Hamas has been utterly transparent concerning its intentions. In fact, Hamas has never hidden its desire to destroy Israel and prevent any peace process between Palestinians and Israelis. This position and strategy has not changed since the establishment of the Islamist movement nearly thirty years ago. And if the officials of the EU and the ECJ do not know that, they should be replaced.

Further evidence of Hamas’s intentions and policies was provided by another leader of the movement, Mahmoud Zahar, who assured supporters in the Gaza Strip last week that Hamas will never recognize Israel’s right to exist. “We will not give up one inch of the land of Palestine to the Israeli entity,” Zahar declared. He then praised Palestinians for using “stones and knives” to attack Jews.

These are only some of the recent statements by Hamas leaders and spokesmen that leave no room for doubt as to the movement’s intentions to continue using terrorism as a means to destroy Israel. Perhaps EU officials might go to the numerous Hamas websites and read what is being said there by the movement’s leaders. The words speak for themselves.

Hamas’s threats do not stop at rhetoric. Hamas’s current actions also attest to its goals. Hamas and other terror groups openly continue to dig tunnels that will be used to attack Israel.

Only days after the ECJ recommendation was published, another Palestinian was killed while working in a tunnel. He was identified as 30-year-old Ahmed As’ad. Other men were wounded in the incident, in a tunnel that was supposed to serve Hamas and other terrorist groups to attack Israel.

Meanwhile, last week, in the context of these preparations, the terror group Al-Naser Salah Eddin Brigades unveiled a new rocket called Koka 70 (named after one of its leaders, Abu Yusef Koka).

The European recommendation to remove Hamas from the terrorism blacklist comes at a time when Hamas and other groups are not only talking about attacks, but also actively preparing to launch new rockets and infiltrate Israel via attack tunnels. These are not unverified press reports, but facts — facts that fly in the face of the European whitewashing and legitimizing of this terrorist group.

The ECJ is sending the message to Hamas that the Europeans see no problem with Hamas’s desire to destroy Israel and continue to launch terrorist attacks against Jews. This message also undermines those Palestinians who still believe in a peace with Israel. Moreover, the recommendation comes at a time when countries such as Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and even Saudi Arabia, as well as the Palestinian Authority, are doing their utmost to weaken Hamas.

Those who embolden Hamas also strengthen ISIS, Islamic Jihad and the Muslim Brotherhood, not only in the Middle East, but also in Europe. Appeasing terrorists is a dangerous game: it has already backfired on its foolhardy players and will continue to do so, not less, but more. This is exactly how Muslims conquered Iran, Turkey, North Africa, the Crimea and much of Europe including Hungary, Greece, Poland, Romania, and the Balkans — countries that still recall a real “occupation,” an Islamist one, all too well, and abundantly want none of it.

The Ottoman Empire at its largest size. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons/Mevlüt Kılıç)

The EU and the ECJ need to be stopped before they do any more harm to Palestinians, Christians and Jews — or to Europe.

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.

Europe Fights Back with Candles and Teddy Bears by Giulio Meotti

  • Europe still has not realized that the terror which struck its metropolis was a war, and not the mistake of a few disturbed people who misunderstood the Islamic religion.We are apparently not ready to abandon our masochistic rules of engagement, which privilege the enemy’s people over our own.

  • It appears that for Europe, Islamic terrorism is not real, but only a momentary disruption of its routine. We fight against global warming, malaria and hunger in Africa. But are we not ready to fight for our civilization? Have we already given up?

This long and sad list is the human harvest of Islamic terrorism on Europe’s soil:

Madrid: 191. London: 58. Amsterdam: 1. Paris: 148. Brussels: 36. Copenhagen: 2. Nice: 86. Stockholm: 4. Berlin: 12. Manchester: 22. And it does not take into account the hundreds of Europeans butchered abroad, in Bali, in Sousse, in Dakka, in Jerusalem, in Sharm el Sheikh, in Istanbul.

But after 567 victims of terror, Europe still does not understand. Just the first half of 2017 has seen terror attacks attempted in Europe every nine days on average. Yet, despite this Islamist offensive, Europe is fighting back with teddy bears, candles, flowers, vigils, Twitter hashtags and cartoons.

Candles and flowers left behind following an evening vigil on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England, held after a suicide bombing by an Islamic terrorist who murdered 22 concert-goers the night before. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

After 9/11 and 2,996 victims, the U.S. under George W. Bush rose to the fight. The United States and a few brave European allies, such as the UK, Italy and Spain, proved themselves “the stronger horse”. Islamic warriors were thrown on the defensive; Jihadist recruits dropped off and dozens of terror plots were disrupted. But that response did not last. Europe quickly retreated into its own homefront, while the Islamists carried the war onto Europe’s soil: Madrid, London, Theo van Gogh…

Since then, the situation has only become worse: a simple calculation shows that we went from one attack every two years to one attack every nine days. Take just the last six months: Berlin, London, Stockholm, Paris and now Manchester.

Europe has still not realized that the terror which struck its metropolis was a war, and not the mistake of a few disturbed people who misunderstood the Islamic religion. Today there are more British Muslims in the ranks of ISIS than in the British Armed Forces. According with Alexandre Mendel, author of the book Jihadist France, there are more violent Salafists in France than regular soldiers in the Swedish army.

Thirteen years after the attack on Madrid’s trains, Europe’s leaders read from the same script: hiding the images of pain, so as not to scare anyone; concealing that the Islamist attackers are “made in Europe” insiders; repeating that “Islam is a religion of peace”; being prisoners inside our liberties; watching them removed one-by-one while we proclaiming that “we will not change our lifestyle”; and eradicating the fundamentals of our civilization — freedom of expression, freedom of thought, freedom of movement, freedom of religion — the entire basis, in fact, of the Judeo-Christian West.

Radical Islam is the greatest threat to Europe since Nazism and Soviet Communism. But we still have not been inclined to question any of the political or ideological pillars that have led to the current disaster, such as multiculturalism and mass immigration. Hard counter-terrorism measures, the only ones that could break the terrorists’ plans and morale, have never been taken. These would include shutting down mosques, deporting radical imams, banning foreign funding of mosques, closing toxic non-governmental organizations, draining the welfare financing of Europe’s jihadists, refraining from flirting with jihadists, and stopping foreign fighters from returning home from the battlefront.

We treat war and genocide as if they are simply mistakes made by our intelligence agencies.

We dismiss radical Islam as the “mental illness” of a few disturbed people. Meanwhile, every week, two new Salafist mosques are opened in France, while radical Islam is preached in more than 2,300 French mosques. Thousands of European Muslims have gone off to wage jihad in Syria and Iraq, and fundamentalists are taking control of mosques and Islamic centers. In Brussels, all the mosques are controlled by the Salafists, who are disseminating radical Islam to the Muslim masses.

The sad truth is that Europe has never had the political will to wage a total war against ISIS and the other jihadist groups. Otherwise, Raqaa and Mosul would already have been neutralized. Instead, Islamists have been taking over Molenbeek in Belgium, the French suburbs and large swaths of Britain. We now should be celebrating the liberation of Mosul and the return of Christians to their homes; instead we are mourning 22 people murdered and 64 wounded by an Islamic suicide-bomber in Manchester, and 29 Christians killed in Egypt this week alone.

Serious fighting would require massive bombing to eliminate as many Islamists as possible. But we are apparently not ready to abandon our masochistic rules of engagement, which privilege the enemy’s people over our own. Europe also never demanded that its Muslim communities disavow jihadism and Islamic law, sharia. This silence is what helps Islamists shut the mouths of brave Muslim dissidents. Meanwhile, Europe’s armies are getting smaller by the day, as if we already consider this game done.

After every attack, Europe’s leaders recycle the same empty slogans: “Carry on”; “We are stronger”; “Business as usual”. The Muslim Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, tells us that we must get used to daily carnage! He says he believes that the threat of terror attacks is “part and parcel of living in a big city”, and that major cities around the world “have got to be prepared for these sorts of things”. Does he seriously mean that we are supposed to get used to the massacre of our own children in the Manchester Arena? Islamic terror has now become part of the landscape of so many major European cities: Paris, Copenhagen, Nice, Toulouse, Berlin….

Instead of concentrating on jihad and radical Islam, Europe’s leaders continue to talk about the “Russian threat”. It would indeed be a mistake to neglect Russian expansionism. But did Vladimir Putin’s troops attack Westminster? Did Russian agents blow themselves up, taking the lives of children at a Manchester concert? Did a former Soviet spy massacre Swedes walking in Stockholm? For Europe’s leaders, talking about Putin appears a welcome distraction from the real enemies.

The French writer Philippe Muray wrote in his book, Dear Jihadists:

“Dear Jihadists! Quake before the wrath of the man in Bermuda shorts! Fear the rage of consumers, of travellers, of tourists, of holiday-makers, who rise from their caravans! Imagine yourselves like us, as we wallow in the joy and luxury that have weakened us”.

It seems that for Europe, Islamic terrorism is not real, but only a momentary disruption of its routine. We fight against global warming, malaria and hunger in Africa, and for a global world of equality. But are we not ready to fight for our civilization? Or have we already given up?

Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.

Europe Courting Godfather Erdogan by Judith Bergman

  • Erdogan has boasted that he is proud of boldly blackmailing EU leaders into paying him protection money.
  • Erdogan’s threats were almost criminally sinister: “… the EU will be confronted with more than a dead boy on the shores of Turkey. There will be 10,000 or 15,000. How will you deal with that?”

  • According to the agreement, 80 million Turkish citizens will have visa-free access to the European Union.
  • The nightmare scenario for a desperate EU is that no matter how much it bows to extortionist demands from Turkey, the migrant crisis will continue to grow. Even if Turkey closes down all migrant routes from Turkey into Europe, refugees could take new routes through North Africa or the Caucasus.
  • Meanwhile, 800,000 migrants are currently on Libyan territory waiting to cross the Mediterranean, according to French Defense Minister Jean-Yves le Drian.

“We can open the doors to Greece and Bulgaria anytime and we can put the refugees on buses … So how will you deal with refugees if you don’t get a deal? Kill the refugees?” This was the question Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in true mafia style, asked European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on November 16, 2015 in a closed meeting in Antalya, Turkey, where the three met after the G20 summit.

While Tusk and Juncker have both declined to comment on whether the meeting took place, Erdogan has since then boasted that he is proud of the leaked minutes of the meeting, where he boldly blackmails EU leaders into paying him protection money.

Erdogan’s threats were almost criminally sinister: “… the EU will be confronted with more than a dead boy on the shores of Turkey. There will be 10,000 or 15,000. How will you deal with that?”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) has boasted that he is proud of blackmailing EU leaders, including European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (right), into paying him protection money.

Finally, feeding into the denial/ignorance of the European elites, who were at that time reeling from the Paris terror attacks that had occurred just three days earlier, Erdogan — who himself has hosted and supported terrorist groups from Hamas to Hezbollah to ISIS — told his European colleagues, “The attacks in Paris is [sic] all about poverty and exclusion. These people… will continue to be terrorists in Europe”.

The leaked minutes furthermore showed Tusk and Juncker pleading with Erdogan, almost begging him to see reason, pathetically telling him that the EU has been treating him “as a prince in Brussels.”

“Like a prince?” Erdogan retorted, “Of course. I’m not representing a third world country.” He also told Juncker, who is the former prime minister of Luxembourg, not to compare Luxembourg to Turkey: “Luxembourg is just like a town in Turkey.”

In a speech in Ankara on February 7, 2016, referring to the meeting with Juncker and Tusk, Erdogan boasted: “I am proud of what I said. We have defended the rights of Turkey and the refugees. And we told them: ‘Sorry, we will open the doors and say goodbye to the migrants.'” He then proceeded to repeat that very threat:

“In the past we have stopped people at the gates to Europe, in Edirne we stopped their buses. This happens once or twice, and then we’ll open the gates and wish them a safe journey, that’s what I said. … We do not have the word ‘idiot’ written on our foreheads. Don’t think that the planes and the buses are there for nothing. We will show patience up to a point and then we’ll do what’s necessary.”

A little over a month after Erdogan’s latest threats, in February 2016, it all paid off. Erdogan received the European Union’s assurance that his wishes had been granted in the form of the March 18 “EU-Turkey Statement.” According to this agreement, the EU will pay Ankara €6bn over the next two years to be spent on Syrian refugees already in Turkey. Furthermore, by June 2016, at the latest, 80 million Turkish citizens will have visa-free access to the European Union, tempered by the EU requirement that Turkey has met “all benchmarks” by then. The promise to lift the visa requirements for Turkish citizens should be seen as real, however, and unlikely to be turned down because of “benchmarks” not being met — especially as another part of the agreement clearly constitutes lip service, namely the commitment to “re-energize” Turkey’s accession process to the European Union.

What has Turkey promised to do in return for these very tangible benefits? It has agreed that all new “irregular migrants” crossing from Turkey into Greek islands as of 20 March 2016 will be returned to Turkey. The agreement stipulates that this will take place

“in full accordance with EU and international law, thus excluding any kind of collective expulsion. Migrants arriving in the Greek islands will be duly registered and any application for asylum will be processed individually by the Greek authorities in accordance with the Asylum Procedures Directive, in cooperation with UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees]. Migrants not applying for asylum or whose application has been found unfounded or inadmissible in accordance with the said directive will be returned to Turkey.”

For every Syrian being returned to Turkey from Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled from Turkey to the EU – up to 72,000 Syrians. Priority will be given to migrants who have not previously entered the EU and to those who have not tried to enter the EU illegally. Furthermore, Turkey will take any necessary measures to prevent the opening of new sea or land routes for illegal migration from Turkey to the EU.

By succumbing to what amounts to Turkey’s blackmail, the EU hopes to stop the people-smugglers who operate out of Turkey, and end the stream of migration between Turkey and the EU — or as the agreement says, “substantially and sustainably reduce it.” They are also hoping that the agreement in itself will stem the flow by discouraging migrants from attempting the dangerous route, when they know that chances are that they will be returned to Turkey.

Seen from Europe’s own, hallowed, self-declared humanitarian principles, the deal represents not only a cop-out to Erdogan’s thuggish blackmail, but a complete sell-out: not even European leaders can pretend that Erdogan’s Turkey represents a “safe third country.” What will happen with the migrants, once they are returned to Turkey, no one knows. That much is clear from the EU’s own answer to the question of how it can be sure that returned refugees or migrants will be given protection in Turkey. The EU’s circular non-answer went: “Only asylum seekers that will be protected in accordance with the relevant international standards and in respect of the principle of non-refoulement will be returned to Turkey.” As if Turkey under Erdogan has become world famous for respecting “international standards.”

As late as March 18, on the day that the EU-Turkey Statement became official, Erdogan stated, “Democracy, freedom and the rule of law… For us, these words have absolutely no value any longer.” The words “any longer” were only put there for show — as any observer of Erdogan’s Turkey will tell you, democracy, freedom and the rule of law, have never held any value for Erdogan.

Contrary to the views of the EU and the Obama Administration, Erdogan is not a democrat, and never has been. He has dedicated his career to transforming secular, ‎European-oriented Turkey into an Islamist state, and has repeatedly rejected Western attempts to portray his rule as an example of “moderate Islam.” He ‎says that such a concept is “ugly and offensive; there is no moderate Islam. Islam is Islam.”

As a young man, Erdogan embarked upon a career in Islamist movements and parties, in direct opposition ‎to the secular Kemalists, whose goal it was to keep Turkey a secular democracy with religion a wholly ‎private matter. One of the parties in which Erdogan was active, the Refah Party, was described by the Turkish historian Soner Cagaptay as “an explicitly Islamist party, which featured strong anti-‎Western, anti-Semitic, anti-democratic and anti-secular elements.” ‎Erdogan was arrested and convicted for religious incitement in 1998 after Refah was banned by Turkey’s constitutional court.‎

When Erdogan returned to the scene in 2002 with the so-called Justice and Development Party (AKP), his Islamist credentials could hardly be swept ‎under the carpet in a Turkey that was still committed to a secular state.

So what do you do if you want to ‎appear palatable to the secularists and the West? You introduce Islamic sharia law slowly ‎and cautiously, in a piecemeal fashion. That is what Erdogan has done: gradually bringing all the former secular ‎bulwarks against Islamists under his own Islamist sphere of influence — the educational system, the courts ‎and even the military.

The agreement with Turkey should not be cause for celebration in Europe. Erdogan’s threats shaped the deal in a way that casts doubt on any hope of him actually abiding by the vain European dream of ending the flow of migrants from Turkey and Europe. The question, though, is not just a matter of his willingness, which is open to dispute. It is as much a question of whether Turkey is even capable of stopping the people-smugglers. The latter would appear open to doubt. “Ankara is likely to have made promises in Brussels that it can’t and won’t deliver,’ said Aykan Erdemir, a former opposition politician, now a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington. “Human smugglers will outsmart the Turkish authorities just as they have outsmarted EU authorities.”

Even if one assumes that Turkey is both willing and able to close down the migration routes between Turkey and Greece, it is inconceivable that the Turkish people-smugglers will simply give up their blockbuster business. It is far more likely that they will open up even longer and more dangerous routes from Turkey to Italy. And if this contravenes the agreement with the EU, there is no mechanism to stop Turkey from turning a blind eye to them.

“Everybody knows that nobody can stop a smuggler — they’ll always find a way,” Ahmad, a Syrian who was smuggled into the UK, told the Spectator; “It will simply become more expensive.”

That is of course the nightmare scenario for a desperate EU: No matter how hard it tries, or how much it bows to extortionist demands from Turkey, the migrant crisis will continue to grow. Even if Turkey closes down all routes from Turkey into Europe, refugees could take new routes through North Africa or the Caucasus. The deal with Turkey, in other words, is a far cry from being a cure.

A German think tank has simulated expected migrant flows through Europe this year, and has come up with an estimated range of 1.8 to 6.4 million people — the latter being a worst-case scenario that would include large numbers from North Africa. According to French Defense Minister Jean-Yves le Drian, quoted on March 24, 800,000 migrants are currently in Libyan territory waiting to cross the Mediterranean.

This is what Angela Merkel arguably started with her promise to receive every refugee in Germany, and this is what her EU colleagues are now desperately trying to stop. Perhaps they are not trying hard enough. In the leaked minutes from the meeting with Erdogan, Tusk told Erdogan, “…the EU can make itself less attractive to refugees, but that is not the solution we want.” Many Europeans might not agree with him.

Judith Bergman is a writer, columnist, lawyer and political analyst.

Europe Braces for More Jihadist Attacks “Another attempted attack is almost certain.” by Soeren Kern

  • Sports stadiums and big music events are especially vulnerable: “This is where you put a small town into a small area for a couple of hours.” — Neil Basu, deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, London.
  • “We know that the Islamic State has the European Championship in its sights.” — Hans-Georg Maaßen, head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency.

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  • According to Patrick Calvar, head of the France’s domestic intelligence agency, at least 645 French nationals or residents, including 245 women, are currently with the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Another 200 individuals are “in transit,” either on their way to Syria or returning to France. Around 244 jihadists have already returned to France.
  • British police chiefs are struggling to recruit enough officers who are willing to carry a firearm, because many fear they will be treated as criminal suspects if they use their weapon in the line of duty.

European security officials are bracing for potential jihadist attacks at public venues across Europe this summer.

In France, officials are preparing for possible attacks against the European Football Championships. The games, which start on June 10, comprise 51 matches involving 24 teams playing in 10 host cities across the country.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that more than 90,000 security personnel will be on hand to protect the 2.5 million spectators expected to attend the games, as well as the hundreds of thousands more who will watch the matches on big screens in so-called “fan zones” in major cities.

Patrick Calvar, the head of the France’s domestic intelligence agency (Direction générale de la sécurité intérieure, DGSI), warned: “We know that the Islamic State is planning new attacks in France.” He added:

“We risk being confronted with a new form of attack: a terrorist campaign characterized by placing explosive devices in places where large crowds are gathered, and repeating this type of action to create a climate of panic.”

According to Calvar, at least 645 French nationals or residents, including 245 women, are currently with the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq. Another 200 individuals are “in transit,” either on their way to the Middle East or returning to France. Around 244 jihadists have already returned to France, and another 818 people have “demonstrated their intention to go to Syria.”

The Stade de France, located in a Paris suburb, was attacked by three Islamic State suicide bombers in November 2015. The stadium will be hosting games during the UEFA Euro 2016 football championships (June 10 – July 10, 2016), and French officials are preparing for possible jihadist attacks. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons/Liondartois)

Calvar’s concerns have been echoed by Hans-Georg Maaßen, the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, BfV). In an interview with Rheinische Post, Maaßen said: “We know that the Islamic State has the European Championship in its sights.”

On May 29, British media quoted Belgian security sources as saying they had discovered an Islamic State plot to attack British football fans in the southern French city of Marseille when England plays Russia on June 11. The plans were reportedly discovered on a laptop used by Salah Abdeslam, a Belgian-born French national of Moroccan descent who is thought to be the mastermind of the November 2015 terrorist attacks on Paris which left 130 dead.

The laptop is said to have contained information about a plot to kill large numbers of British fans using assault rifles, suicide bombers and possibly even drones armed with chemical weapons. The laptop contained photos and references to Marseille’s historic Old Port, where tens of thousands of football fans are expected to gather at the many bars and restaurants in the area.

Meanwhile, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve also announced that more than 23,000 police will be deployed to protect the Tour de France, the world’s premier bicycle race, which takes place from July 2 to 24.

Teams of special operations forces (Groupe d’intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale, GIGN) will guard riders and an estimated 12 million spectators along a route that covers 3,500 kilometers (2,180 miles). “Everyone understands that this year the Tour de France is taking place in a particular context,” Cazeneuve said. He added: “The terrorist threat remains very high.”

In Poland, officials are preparing for possible jihadist attacks against the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day, which is expected to draw 2.5 million to Krakow from July 26 to 31. Poland will impose border controls at all of its national borders from July 4 to August 2.

In Britain, music festivals, big sports venues and nightclubs have been placed on “high alert” for potential jihadist attacks, according to a senior anti-terrorism officer interviewed by the Sunday Times.

Neil Basu, the deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said that crowded places — including Glastonbury, billed as the world’s largest music festival, which will draw 135,000 people to Somerset from June 22 to 26 — are a major concern for police this summer. Basu warned:

“These people are perfectly happy to target civilians with the maximum terror impact. Crowded places were always a concern for us, but now they are right at the top of the agenda.”

Basu said that sports stadiums and big music events are especially vulnerable: “This is where you put a small town into a small area for a couple of hours.”

Police in rural communities in Britain that host large summer festivals are warning that they could be “sitting ducks” in the face of a jihadist attack as they wait for armed backup to arrive from many miles away.

In an interview with the BBC, John Apter, the head of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Police Federation, said:

“Being realistic, if a firearms unit was coming from the middle of the county you are still talking about 30 miles away — you are not talking about a few minutes. There would be an understandable delay. If a firearms unit is the other side of the county they could be 70 miles away so you are talking a significant distance. So the only officers that you have available are unarmed and vulnerable officers and they are the officers that are saying to me that in a terrorist situation they would be sitting ducks.”

Most police in Britain are unarmed. According to Deputy Chief Constable Simon Chesterman, the UK’s top firearms officer, British police chiefs are struggling to recruit enough officers who are willing to carry a firearm, because many fear they will be treated as criminal suspects if they use their weapon in the line of duty.

Senior British security officials estimate that the UK needs an extra 1,500 armed officers to tackle jihadist attacks such as those carried out in Paris. Because half of the recruits will not make it through the rigorous training, however, 3,000 volunteers are needed to come forward.

Che Donald of the Police Federation — which represents the 5,647 officers throughout Britain who currently carry firearms — told the Guardian that while major cities such as London are sufficiently protected, other large towns and cities are not: “Currently there are not enough firearms officers who could deal with an incident in quite a lot of areas of Britain.”

In Brussels, Manuel Navarrete Paniagua, the head of the European Counter Terrorism Centre at the European police agency Europol, warned Members of the European Parliament that terrorist cells in Europe are stockpiling weapons and explosives for future attacks:

“We have some information reported by the member states that terrorists groups are trying to establish large clandestine stockpiles of explosives in the European Union to be used eventually in large scale home attacks.”

Paniagua added that police had foiled more than 200 terrorist attacks in the EU in 2015. A total of 151 people were killed and more than 360 injured during terrorist attacks in the EU in 2015. More than 1,000 people were arrested for terrorist-related crimes.

In an interview with Time magazine, Europol director Rob Wainwright revealed that “several hundred” battle-trained European jihadists are probably plotting new attacks. He said that his agency is working on 50 ongoing terrorist investigations:

“This is the highest terrorist threat we have faced in Europe since the days of 9/11. We have 5,000 Europeans who have been radicalized by the Islamic State and have traveled to Syria and Iraq and engaged in conflict experience. We suspect that about one-third of them have come back: That is our best guess. We don’t know for sure…

“Our real concern is that there are other networks, either in Europe already, or who are being trained in Syria for further action. We know that the Islamic State last year took a strategic decision to establish an external operations command, a division to plan exactly the kind of attacks we have now seen. We think that they are still active and planning to do that. The threat is alive and current. Another attempted attack is almost certain. Whether it gets through depends of course. I am concerned about the Islamic State’s clearly expressed desire for the spectacular.”

On May 31, the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert for Europe this summer:

“We are alerting U.S. citizens to the risk of potential terrorist attacks throughout Europe, targeting major events, tourist sites, restaurants, commercial centers and transportation. The large number of tourists visiting Europe in the summer months will present greater targets for terrorists planning attacks in public locations, especially at large events.”

The travel alert urges vigilance when in public places or using mass transportation, and avoiding crowded places.

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter. His first book, Global Fire, will be out in 2016.

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