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Covering Up Armenian Genocide by Uzay Bulut

  • “In all of these operations children were part of the general population targeted for wholesale destruction. In many instances they were also subjected to separate and differential forms of mass murder.” — Professor Vahakn Dadrian, in Children as Victims of Genocide: The Armenian Case.

  • These forms of murder included methods such as mass drowning, mass burning, sexual assaults, and mutilations.
  • “In Ankara province, near the village of Bash Ayash, two rapist-killers — a brigand, Deli Hasan, and a gendarme, Ibrahim — raped twelve boys, aged 12-14, and subsequently killed them. Those who did not die instantly were tortured to death while crying ‘Mummy, Mummy.'” — Professor Vahakn Dadrian, in Children as Victims of Genocide: The Armenian Case.
  • “A female survivor from Giresun relates how in Agn (Egin), Harput province, some 500 Armenian orphans collected from all parts of that province were poisoned through the arrangement of the local pharmacist and physician.” — Leslie A Davis, U.S. Consul at Harput.
  • More than 100 years after the genocide, Turkey still denies it and Turkish history textbooks even blame the genocide on the Armenians themselves.
  • When experts deny the Armenian genocide and even try to prevent the U.S. government from officially recognizing it, they are killing the victims all over again.
  • “As long as the genocide remains unrecognized, justice will not be established. The curse of the genocide will not leave this land, and Turkey will never see the light of day. This is not a prediction, but a statement of fact.” — Turkey’s Human Rights Association, 2016.

U.S. President-Elect Donald J. Trump was recently called on to “guarantee” to Turkey that the Armenian genocide will not be properly acknowledged by the U.S. Congress, in a set of proposals regarding “U.S. Policy on Turkey”.

“The United States can quietly guarantee Turkey that the Armenian Genocide resolution in Congress will not pass. This has always been critical in the relationship, and most Turks care deeply about the issue,” reads a part of the paper issued by The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), and authored by former U.S. ambassador to Ankara James F. Jeffrey and Turkish scholar Dr. Soner Cagaptay.

In the meantime, an Armenian protestant church in the Turkish city of Elazig (historic Kharpert/Harput) has been turned into a parking lot, the Dicle News Agency (DIHA) reported.

The walls of the church, which served as a place of worship for the Armenian and Assyrian communities alike, is now loaded with advertising boards, installed by the managers of the parking lot. Before that, the church was used as a flour plant, a marketplace and a livestock market.

The city of Elazig is located in the Armenian highland of eastern Turkey.

Professor Benjamin Lieberman in his book, Terrible Fate: Ethnic Cleansing in the Making of Modern Europe:

“Elazig is a small city in Eastern Turkey of several hundred thousand inhabitants, situated near a series of lakes created by a dam on the Euphrates River. Today its residents are mostly Turks and Kurds, but as late as the spring of 1915 it was also very much an Armenian town. In 1915, Armenians called it Kharpert while Turks referred to it as Harput. It had been an Armenian center for many centuries.”[1]

The historic town and citadel of Harput (also called Harpoot, Karpoot, and Kharperd) means “rock fortress” in Armenian. After the founding of the Turkish republic in 1923, the government changed the city’s name to “Elazig”.

According to professor Richard Hovannisian, the Armenian genocide was the “physical elimination of the Armenian people and most of the evidence of their ever having lived on the great highland called the Armenian Plateau, to which the perpetrator side soon assigned the new name of Eastern Anatolia”.[2]

No matter how much the Turkish government is trying to erase the Armenian heritage in Harput and the rest of Turkey, the Armenian roots of the region are undeniable. As a medieval town, Harput seems to have developed under the Byzantine rule (10th and 11th centuries – 938 onwards). According to the author T.A. Sinclair, “The Byzantines presumably valued the site for the powerful castle rock, but once a military base became established here a civilian population started to form. No doubt this population, ethnically Syrian and Armenian, came in part from the city of Arsamosata [a city in the Armenian Kingdom near the Euphrates] further east, which started to give way to Harput, as well as from nearby villages.”[3]

The Ottomans captured the region in 1515. Under the Ottoman administrative system, the province was called Mamuretul-aziz. But the Armenian presence in the city remained strong despite all of the massacres and pressures to which they were subject, such as forced conversions to Islam.

According to another author, George Aghjayan: “On the eve of the genocide… The figures as presented indicate that the Armenian population of Kharpert remained relatively static for almost a century, never deviating much from approximately 40,000.”

It was in 1915 that Armenians were exposed to what they often call “Medz Yeghern” or “the Great Disaster” when the leaders of the Turkish government set in motion a plan to expel and massacre them.

The plan resulted in the systematic extermination of 1.5 million Armenians. Today, most historians call this event a genocide–a premeditated and systematic campaign to exterminate an entire people.

Armenian civilians, escorted by Ottoman soldiers, marched through Harput to a prison in nearby Mezireh (present-day Elazig), April 1915. (Image source: American Red Cross/Wikimedia Commons)

Professor Vahakn Dadrian, an expert on the Armenian Genocide, wrote in his article, “Children as Victims of Genocide: The Armenian Case”:

“In the provinces of Sivas, Harput, Trabzon, Erzurum, Diyarbekir, as well as the independent sanjaks of Urfa and Maras the genocide was earned out in part through deportations and in part through massacres… In all of these operations children were part of the general population targeted for wholesale destruction. In many instances they were also subjected to separate and differential forms of mass murder.”[4]

These forms of murder included methods such as mass drowning, mass burning, sexual assaults, and mutilations.

“[O]rphanages in which Armenian children were gathered after the liquidation of their families served as transit camps for subsequent annihilation through drowning.”

U.S. Consul at Harput, Leslie A Davis, described a horrendous scene of butchering around Lake Goeljuk [Golcuk/Hazar Lake] near Harput:

“In the mass burning of Armenian orphans, plain sadistic fiendishness was mostly at work. After eliminating the rest of the Armenian population, these remnants had become a nuisance to the perpetrators. In several regards it was deemed most economical to end their misery by torching them en masse. In four provinces, Diyarbakir, Harput, Bitlis, and Aleppo, this method was applied with special ferocity.”

After describing the gaping bayonet wounds on most of the naked bodies, usually in the abdomen or chest, sometimes in the throat with the victims showing “signs of barbarous mutilation,” Consul Davis declared:

“That which took place around beautiful Lake Goeljuk in the summer of 1915 is almost inconceivable. Thousands and thousands of Armenians, mostly innocent and helpless women and children, were butchered on its shores and barbarously mutilated.”

Mass poisoning and rapes of children were also widespread.

“An Armenian boy, adopted by a Turkish family in Mezre, Harput province, related a graphic description of rapes committed regularly by a Turkish man with the full knowledge of his wife in that household. The other modality involves rape before murder. In Ankara province, near the village of Bash Ayash, two rapist-killers — a brigand, Deli Hasan, and a gendarme, Ibrahim — raped twelve boys, aged 12-14, and subsequently killed them. Those who did not die instantly were tortured to death while crying ‘Mummy, Mummy’.

“A female survivor from Giresun relates how in Agn (Egin), Harput province, some 500 Armenian orphans collected from all parts of that province were poisoned through the arrangement of the local pharmacist and physician.”

According to the author Deirdre Holding, Davis sent a letter to his boss, the American ambassador at Constantinople, on 24 July 1915. It reads in part,

“I do not believe that there has ever been a massacre in the history of the world so general and thorough as that which is now being perpetrated in this region, or that a more fiendish, diabolical scheme has ever been conceived in the mind of man.”[5]

More than 100 years after the genocide, Turkey still denies it, and Turkish history textbooks even blame the genocide on the Armenians themselves.

Turkey’s persistent denial is a known fact but much of the world has also failed to recognize the genocide and sufficiently support the survivors. Today, similar crimes are committed by other criminal governments or organizations such as the Islamic State (ISIS), AL-Qaeda and Boko Haram.

When experts such as Amb. James F. Jeffrey and Soner Cagaptay deny the Armenian genocide and even try to prevent the U.S. government from officially recognizing it, they are not only killing the victims all over again but are also preventing Turks from learning historical truths that they need to learn in order to take the necessary steps to democratize their country.

However, there are also a few very courageous voices in Turkey who are trying to challenge the denial perpetrated by the government and much of the public. Turkey’s Human Rights Association (IHD), for example, declared in a statement last year:

“Genocide denial perpetuates genocide. Denial is the exculpation of the perpetrator and the criminalization of the victim. From course books to special publications, from newspapers to television programs, Armenians have been represented as those who deserve genocide. Since the foundation of the Republic, the Armenians of Turkey have been living to this day in a society that remains hostile to them and in close quarters with the grandchildren of perpetrators who think exactly the way their predecessors did.

“As long as the genocide remains unrecognized, justice will not be established. The curse of the genocide will not leave this land, and Turkey will never see the light of day. This is not a prediction, but a statement of fact.”

Uzay Bulut, a journalist born and raised a Muslim in Turkey, is currently based in Washington D.C.


[1] Terrible Fate: Ethnic Cleansing in the Making of Modern Europe, by Benjamin Lieberman. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2013.

[2] The Armenian Genocide: Cultural and Ethical Legacies, by Richard G. Hovannisian, Transaction Publishers, 2007.

[3] Eastern Turkey: An Architectural & Archaeological Survey, Volume III: 3 Kindle Edition, by T.A. Sinclair. Pindar Press, 2014.

[4] “Children as victims of genocide: the Armenian case”, by Vahakn N. Dadrian. Paper presented at the international Association of Genocide Scholars, Galway, Ireland, June 6-10, 2003.

[5] Armenia: with Nagorno Karabagh, by Deirdre Holding. Bradt Travel Guides, 2014.

Coup-Weary Turkey: Directionless and Insecure by Burak Bekdil

  • The more Ankara feels distant to Washington, the more it will want to feel closer to Moscow.As Western leaders call on President Erdogan to respect civil liberties and democracy, Erdogan insists he will consider reinstating the death penalty: “The people have the opinion that these terrorists [coup-plotters] should be killed. Why should I keep them and feed them in prisons for years to come?”

Turkey once boasted of having NATO’s second biggest army, equipped with state-of-the-art weapons systems. That powerful army now lacks command: After the failed coup of July 15, more than 8,500 officers and soldiers, including 157 of the 358 generals and admirals in the Turkish military’s ranks, were discharged. The top commanders who were purged had made up 44% of the entire command structure. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that the military’s shipyards and weapons factories will be transferred to civilian authority; military high schools and war academies have been shut; military hospitals will be transferred to health ministry; and the gendarmerie, a key force in anti-terror operations, and the coast guard will be tied to the interior ministry.

Those changes leave behind an army in deep morale shock, with political divisions and polarization. Its ranks are suffering not just trauma but also humiliation. The Turks are lucky their country was not attacked by an enemy (and they are plentiful) at a time like this. Conventional war, however, is not the only threat to Turkey’s security. The Turkish army’s worst decline in modern history came at a time when it was fighting an asymmetrical war against Kurdish insurgents inside and outside of Turkey and, as part of a U.S.-led international campaign, the Islamic State (ISIS) in neighboring Syria.

The attempted coup not only quickly discredited the Turkish military but also left the country once again directionless in foreign policy. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been slamming his NATO ally, the United States, almost daily. His government big guns have been implying an American hand behind the failed coup by a faction of officers they claim are linked to a U.S.-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, once Erdogan’s best political ally. “The putschist [Gulen] is already in your country, you are looking after him. This is a known fact,” Erdogan said, addressing Washington. “You can never deceive my people. My people know who is involved in this plot, and who is the mastermind.”

The White House immediately denied Erdogan’s claim. Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said the U.S. was one of the first countries to condemn the failed coup, and noted that a successful one would have put American troops serving in Turkey at risk. “It is entirely false. There is no evidence of that at all,” Schultz said. “We feel that talk and speculation along those lines is not particularly constructive.” The failed coup has become a Turkish-American dispute — with a military dimension, too.

Erdogan also criticized U.S. General Joseph Votel, who voiced concerns over “the long-term impact” of the coup on the Pentagon’s relations with the Turkish military. According to Erdogan, Votel’s remarks were evidence that the U.S. military was siding with the coup plotters. The Pentagon’s press secretary, Peter Cook, flatly denied that claim: “Any suggestion anyone in the department supported the coup in any way would be absurd.”

Erdogan probably wants to play the tough guy and is slamming Washington day after day not just to look pretty to millions of anti-American Turks but also to pressure Washington in Turkey’s quest to extradite Gulen, presently the biggest snag between the two allies.

But there is another dimension to Erdogan’s ire: He wants to mend fences with Moscow.

Turkey’s relations with Russia were frozen after Nov. 24, when Turkey, citing a brief violation of its airspace along Turkey’s border with Syria, shot down a Russian military aircraft. Russia’s President Vladimir Putting ordered punishing economic sanctions, imposed a travel ban on Russian tourists visiting Turkey and suspended all government-to-government relations. Unable to ignore the damage, a repentant Erdogan conveyed regrets to Putin; the regrets were accepted and the two leaders are scheduled to meet on August 9, when the Turks hope that relations with Russia will be entirely normalized.

Normalization, unfortunately, will not come at the price of Turkish “regrets” alone. For full normalization, Turkey will have to digest the Russian-Iranian-Syrian line in Syria’s civil war — a pact which Turkey has loudly detested ever since civil war erupted in Syria in 2011. This will be another foreign policy failure for Erdogan and an embarrassing U-turn. But the more Ankara feels distant to Washington, the more it will want to feel closer to Moscow.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is attempting to repair badly damaged relations with Russia, even as he slams his NATO ally, the United States, almost daily, and accuses the U.S. military of supporting the coup attempt against him. Pictured: Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) with Erdogan (then Prime Minister), meeting in Istanbul on December 3, 2012. (Image source: kremlin.ru)

Meanwhile, after the coup attempt, Turkey’s troubled relations with the European Union turned even more troubled. European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said that the EU’s deal with Turkey on halting the flow of migrants toward the bloc may collapse. “The risk is big. The success so far of the pact is fragile. President Erdogan has already hinted several times that he wants to scrap it,” Juncker said. It is not just the migrant deal that may entirely suspend Turkey as a candidate country for the EU.

As Western leaders call on Erdogan to respect civil liberties and democracy, Erdogan insists he will consider reinstating the death penalty. “The people have the opinion that these terrorists [coup-plotters] should be killed,” Erdogan said in interview with CNN. “Why should I keep them and feed them in prisons for years to come? That’s what the people say … as the president, I will approve any decision to come out of the parliament.”

Such a move would kill Turkey’s accession process entirely. Federica Mogherini, EU’s foreign policy chief, warned that if Turkey reintroduces the death penalty, it will not be joining the European Union. “Let me be very clear on one thing,” she said; “… No country can become an EU member state if it introduces [the] death penalty.”

The attempted coup not only destabilized NATO’s second largest army and exposed it to the risk of serious operational vulnerabilities; it also left Turkey at risk of engaging in potentially dangerous liaisons with playmates of different kind — Russia and Iran & Co. — at least for now.

Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a Turkish columnist for the Hürriyet Daily and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Could Italy Bring Down the Euro? by Soeren Kern

  • A move by Italy — the third-largest economy in the eurozone — to abandon the euro could strike a potentially fatal blow to the currency and to the bloc itself.

  • Meanwhile, at more than 130% of GDP, Italy has one of the biggest public debt burdens in Europe, second only to Greece.
  • “A perfect storm of slow or zero Italian economic growth, low interest rates and politically connected, often corrupt, lending have combined to create a situation where the Italian financial system is in need of a large rescue.” — Mihir Kapadia, Sun Global Investments.
  • M5S blames the euro for Italy’s woes, and many Italians agree.

The eurosceptic Five Star Movement (M5S) has overtaken Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party (PD) in several opinion polls and is now the most popular political party in Italy.

The poll results represent a significant shift in Italy’s political landscape and have potentially far-reaching implications for the future of the European Union.

M5S, which would win national elections if they were held today, has called for a referendum on whether Italy, which is facing the collapse of its banking system, should keep the euro, the single currency of the European Union, or bring back the Italian lira.

A move by Italy — the third-largest economy in the eurozone — to abandon the euro could strike a potentially fatal blow to the currency and to the bloc itself.

An Ipsos poll, published by the newspaper Corriere della Sera on July 5, gave M5S 30.6% of the vote, up from 28.9% in April, while Renzi’s center-left PD fell to 29.8% from 31.1%.

A Demos poll, published by La Repubblica on July 1, gave M5S 32.3% of the vote, compared to 30.2% for the PD. An EMG Acqua poll for TeleGiornale La7 television on June 28 gave M5S 31.7%, compared to 31.2% for the PD.

According to Ipsos pollster Nando Pagnoncelli, the polls show that M5S “is increasingly viewed as a political force that is capable of governing the country.”

The anti-establishment M5S was founded in 2009 by Beppe Grillo, a well-known comedian and blogger who has led a popular fight against rampant corruption in Italy’s political system. The party advocates for direct democracy — a system in which political decision making is devolved from the government to citizens — as a way to bypass traditional political parties embroiled in corruption scandals.

M5S, which portrays itself as post-ideological and draws support from both the left and right sides of the political aisle, has leveraged the internet to attract millions of voters, especially among the young.

The 67-year-old Grillo recently handed over the reins of the party to a new “directorate” of five young leaders, of which 30-year-old Luigi Di Maio has become the most prominent. He is widely expected to be the party’s candidate for prime minister at the next election.

M5S achieved a major breakthrough in municipal elections on June 20, when it won 19 out of the 20 cities — including Rome and Turin — in which its candidates stood for mayor. The M5S landslide presents a serious challenge to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

Renzi has staked his political future on an October referendum in which he wants Italian voters to support wide-ranging reforms to the constitution. The most important reform involves reducing the size and curtailing the power of the Italian Senate in order to ease gridlock in the lawmaking process.

Renzi, who says the reforms are essential to streamlining the government, has promised to resign if he loses the vote. M5S and all other opposition parties are against the reforms, which they say will erode democratic checks and balances.

A Euromedia Research poll conducted on July 1 found that 34% of Italians would vote against Renzi’s plan, with 28.9% in favor, 19.4% undecided on which way to vote and 17.7% undecided on whether to vote.

The political uncertainty in Italy is drawing renewed attention to the country’s financial woes. Italy’s banks are burdened by €360 billion ($400 billion) in bad loans. This figure amounts to more than 20% of Italy’s GDP and accounts for one-third of all non-performing loans in the eurozone. Meanwhile, at more than 130% of GDP, Italy has one of the biggest public debt burdens in Europe, second only to Greece. The International Monetary Fund expects the Italian economy to grow just 1% this year.

Mihir Kapadia of Sun Global Investments explains:

“A perfect storm of slow or zero Italian economic growth, low interest rates and politically connected, often corrupt, lending have combined to create a situation where the Italian financial system is in need of a large rescue.”

M5S blames the euro for Italy’s woes, and many Italians agree. Faced with a financial crisis of potentially epic proportions, the October vote could backfire on Renzi and turn into a referendum on the Italian government itself — and even on the euro.

Writing in the Financial Times, columnist Wolfgang Münchau, cautioned:

“The political dynamic in Italy is not much different from the one in the UK. The electorate is in an insurrectionary mood. The country has had virtually no productivity growth since it joined the euro in 1999. The Italian political establishment has until recently been as dismissive of its chances of losing the referendum as the British establishment was until [Brexit on June 23]. They are still dismissive of the chances of a Five Star victory — and will be until the moment it happens.”

M5S’s Luigi Di Maio, who, polls show, has a very good chance of succeeding Renzi as prime minister, has reiterated his party’s long-standing call for a referendum on the euro:

“We want a consultative referendum on the euro. The euro as it is today does not work. We either have alternative currencies or a ‘euro 2.’ We entered the European Parliament to change many treaties. The mere fact that a country like Great Britain even held a referendum on whether to leave the EU signals the failure of the European Union.”

A referendum on the euro would be “consultative” because Italian law does not allow such plebiscites to change international treaties, including those that involve Italy’s relations with the European Union.

Luigi Di Maio, who, polls show, has a very good chance of becoming Italy’s prime minister, has reiterated his party’s long-standing call for a referendum on the euro, saying “The euro as it is today does not work.” (Image source: M5S video screenshot)

But Grillo is seeking a legislative change to allow an “ad hoc” exception, similar to the one in June 1989, when Italy held a consultative referendum on whether to transfer certain powers to the European Parliament. The exception would presumably be approved if M5S wins the prime minister’s office.

Meanwhile, analysts are warning that the turmoil in Italy could spread to the rest of the eurozone. The risk of contagion is due to the so-called “doom loop” that exists between European governments and European banks, which have more than doubled the holdings of their own governments’ debt from a low of €355 billion in September 2008 to €791 billion today.

International banks have lent Italy more than €500 billion, according to Die Welt, which reports that French banks alone hold €250 billion of Italian debt. German banks hold €84 billion of Italian bonds. The only question, according to analysts, is whether taxpayers or bondholders will be left holding the tab.

Wolfgang Münchau of the Financial Times warned of the consequences of a disorderly Italian exit from the euro:

“An Italian exit from the single currency would trigger the total collapse of the eurozone within a very short period. It would probably lead to the most violent economic shock in history, dwarfing the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in 2008 and the 1929 Wall Street crash.”

As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the Telegraph has pointed out, however, Italy must choose between the euro and its own economic survival. Leaving the euro “may be the only way to avert a catastrophic deindustrialization of the country before it is too late.”

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.

Corrupt State of Affairs at the International Federation of Journalists? by Tamar Sternthal

  • Participation by journalists in political events, especially those which they are covering, is a serious violation of Agence France-Presse’s commitment to “rigorous neutrality” and its pledge that it “is independent of the French government and all other economic or political interests.”

  • The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) press release is based on a falsehood: that AFP, relying on “misinformation from Israeli extremist websites,” unfairly sanctioned its reporter Nasser Abu Baker, and includes a call to action to hundreds of thousands of journalists. It is evident that there is no truth behind the International Federation of Journalists’ lofty “respect for truth.”
  • Nor is there any justice at the IFJ, which pretends to fight for freedom of press and against discrimination, but which provides cover and comfort to Abu Baker, and which, based on that falsehood, actively discriminates against Israeli journalists, denies them their freedom of press, and endangers their lives in the West Bank by sending the message to Palestinian officials and journalists that the Israeli reporters are not welcome there.
  • That Abu Bakr was a delegate to the Fatah Congress and also ran in the elections was first covered in the Palestinian media. There is nothing inaccurate about that.
  • The IFJ covered up the fact that its own executive committee member ran for political office, and attacked AFP for supposedly persecuting him with no basis.
  • It is evident that there is no truth behind the International Federation of Journalists’ lofty “respect for truth.”

“The journalist shall be aware of the danger of discrimination being furthered by the media, and shall do the utmost to avoid facilitating such discrimination based on, among other things, race, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinions, and national or social origins,” declares the Declaration of Principles of the International Federation of Journalists, the world’s largest organization of journalists that represents 600,000 journalists in 140 countries.

One might imagine, then, that this organization that defends press freedom, truth and equality, would vigorously counter a boycott by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate of Israeli journalists, especially in a discriminatory campaign that endangers Israelis covering the West Bank by sending the message to Palestinian officials and journalists that the Israeli reporters are not welcome there.

That presumably should be the position of an organization which says it “promotes international action to defend press freedom and social justice,” but it is not. Far from condemning the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate’s boycott targeting Israelis, the International Federation of Journalists has come to the defense of Nasser Abu Baker, chairman of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate and the key prosecutor of the discriminatory campaign against Israelis. In fact, Abu Baker, who has threatened Palestinian officials who dare to speak with Israeli journalists, sits on the International Federation of Journalists’ executive committee.

Nasser Abu Baker (also spelled Abu Bakr) has also worked for years in the West Bank as a reporter for Agence France-Presse, an influential wire service which publishes in six languages. Following an exclusive exposé by CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) in early December about the inherent conflict of interest posed by Abu Baker’s participation in the Seventh Fatah Congress and his failed election bid to join the Fatah Revolutionary Council, the influential Agence France-Press last month slapped him with a week’s suspension and withheld his salary. Participation by journalists in political events, especially those they are covering, is a serious violation of Agence France-Presse’s commitment to “rigorous neutrality” and its pledge that it “is independent of the French government and all other economic or political interests.”

Nasser Abu Baker

Enter the International Federation of Journalists, which suspended its stated commitments to truth and opposition to discrimination with its Febrary 2 statement about Agence France-Presse’s sanctions against Abu Baker. Issued together with two other venerable outfits, the French Journalists Syndicate and the French Democratic Confederation of Labour (CFDT), the statement read (author’s translation from French):

Journalists’ unions SNJ, SNJ-CGT and CFDT, members of the International Federation of Journalist (IFJ – 600,000 members worldwide), were informed that Nasser Abu Baker, president of the Palestinian Journalists Union, member of the IFJ Executive Committee, and journalist at AFP in Ramallah, had been sanctioned following a dispute with executives.

Despite the union’s interventions with the management, AFP decided abruptly and without further recourse to suspend the work contract of our colleague by a layoff of one week (22 to 28 January 2017) and to deprive him of his salary. The accusations made by the Directorate are mainly based on misinformation from extremist Israeli website claiming that our colleague was elected at the recent Fatah Congress. This was proven inaccurate.

AFP had already tried to prevent Abu Baker from attending the IFJ Congress in France this summer. Again, following information from the same circles [sic].

The union reaction forced AFP to reverse a decision contrary to the right of journalists to be full citizens and to be able to exercise union activities.

The French unions denounce this persistence in attacking our colleague. We know the extreme difficulty of doing his job in a country where Palestinian journalists are particularly exposed to the Israeli military authorities.

Our three organizations will inform the IFJ of this matter and will call for the mobilization of all of our members in the world to denounce this attitude against a union officer.

We demand the full payment of our colleague’s salary.

We request to be received by the Directorate with the representatives of the IFJ to put an end to these systematic attacks against one of our colleagues.

Aside from the revelation that Agence France-Presse finally took steps (albeit insufficient) against Abu Baker, the International Federation of Journalists’ release provides an illuminating window into the corrupt state of affairs at the world’s largest organization for journalists.

First, the International Federation of Journalists’ Declaration of Principles, declares, “Respect for truth and for the right of the public to truth is the first duty of the journalist.” The International Federation of Journalists’ press release, however, is based on a falsehood.

The Federation falsely states: “The accusations made by the [Agence France-Presse] Directorate are mainly based on misinformation from extremist Israeli websites claiming that our colleague was elected at the recent Fatah Congress. This was proven inaccurate.”

Moreover, the organization’s Declaration of Principles included a call to action to hundreds of thousands of journalists worldwide — based on that falsehood.

As of this writing, the International Federation of Journalists has yet to respond to requests that it identify the “extremist Israeli websites” which supposedly claimed that Abu Bakr was “elected at the recent Fatah Congress” (emphasis added). As noted earlier, it was already exposed in English that Abu Bakr, an Agence France-Presse reporter, ran — and lost — in the December Fatah elections.

That Abu Bakr was a delegate to the Fatah Congress and also ran in the elections was first covered in the Palestinian media. There is nothing inaccurate about that.

Queries to the International Federation of Journalists about plans to issue a new press release to make clear that Abu Baker did indeed participate in the Fatah Congress and run for the Fatah Revolutionary Council, or to correct the February 2 release, have gone unanswered.

Agence France-Presse was not the only journalistic entity to recognize that running for political office is a stark violation of a journalist’s obligation to maintain non-partisanship. The Foreign Press Association in Israel, which represents some 480 journalists working in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, revoked the membership of two other journalists who ran in the Fatah elections this past December: Moussa al Shaer, a cameraman for NHK TV 9 (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), and Mohammed Allaham of Al Arabiyeh. (Abu Baker is not a member of the Foreign Press Association, so it was not in any position to take steps against him.) The Foreign Press Association statement about those journalists read:

The FPA wishes to clarify that members pursuing political careers CANNOT retain their FPA membership. The FPA Constitution clearly states that people who are in government or those who actively seek political office or are engaged in public relations cannot under any circumstances be members, given the unequivocal conflict of interests inherent in the situation.

Consequently the Board has decided to cancel the membership of the persons who recently actively pursued political office. As a one-time concession, an FPA member who is no longer involved in any political/governmental/PR activity may re-apply for membership after a six month cooling off period. The FPA will inform the relevant media offices of this decision.

While the Foreign Press Association issued a strong statement and took appropriate action to send the clear signal that running for office is a clear conflict of interests with journalistic work, the International Federation of Journalists covered up the fact that its own executive committee member ran for office, and attacked Agence France-Presse for supposedly persecuting him with no basis.

Second, there is also the problem that the International Federation of Journalists press release ignores Abu Baker’s indefensible boycott campaign, first exposed last May against Israeli journalists. It is apparently partly in light of that activity that Agence France-Presse took steps against Abu Baker. According to the International Federation of Journalists’ press release, Agence France-Presse tried to prevent Abu Baker from attending the International Federation of Journalists’ Congress in France this past summer, a move that the International Federation of Journalists blocked.

Nasser Abu Baker has threatened Palestinian officials who dared to speak with Israeli journalists, as documented in May 2016.

As deputy chairman of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, the Agence France-Presse reporter warned:

I call upon all male and female colleagues/journalists to boycott any Palestinian official, regardless of how senior he/she is, who conducts an interview with Israeli journalists and Israeli media… this poisonous media whose only goal is to broadcast dissent and incite against our people. Their media, which is directed by their government, is one of the tools of the occupation. Therefore, the time has come for a comprehensive boycott of their media. The Syndicate will have a clear position on this and I plead with all the journalists to abide. We will publish the name of any official who gives an interview to their media from this moment.

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate also formally backed the boycott, putting out a similar statement, which was covered in Palestinians48.net, an Israeli-Arab site. The site reported that the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate called on its members and Palestinian officials to boycott Israeli media “in light of the continued and escalating Israeli assaults on Palestinian journalists.” The Syndicate said in a statement that “Israeli journalists and Hebrew media outlets enter the lands of the State of Palestine and work there together with — and under the protection — of the Israeli occupation army.” The Syndicate also called on “all Palestinian officials not to deal or give interviews or statements to Israeli reporters, pointing out that it will follow up on the implementation of this decision, including taking positions against those who violate.”

Abu Baker posted a similar statement announcing the boycott, signed by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate “general secretariat,” to his Facebook account last February, and subsequently removed the page following an investigation. [1]

The International Federation of Journalists has so far failed to explain how its silence on Palestinian Journalists Syndicate’s discriminatory campaign against Israelis is compatible with the organization’s stated belief that journalists should “do the utmost to avoid facilitating such discrimination based, on among other things … national or social origins.” Indeed, the International Federation of Journalists’ embrace and defense of Abu Baker, the leading figure behind the campaign endangering Israeli journalists, runs directly counter to the group’s codes.

An additional key principle of the International Federation of Journalists also appears to have presented a challenge for Abu Baker: “Respect for truth and for the right of the public to truth is the first duty of the journalist.”

For example, Abu Baker attended a conference in Jordan in March last year where he made the completely unfounded allegation that Israeli hospitals are treating 5000 ISIS members, as reported last May.

According to a March 29, 2016 article in Al Watan, a Gaza-based independent news website:

Abu Baker said in an interview with Mawteny radio that he attended the conference of Media and Terrorism [in Jordan] in order to expose the crimes and practices of the Israeli occupation. He said, “We asked Arab media people to intensify their effort to expose the Nazi and racist crimes of the Israeli occupation against the Palestinian people and to bring back the Palestinian cause to the center of the Arab media’s attention.”

He said that the Israeli occupation has implemented its DAESH [ISIS] practices against the Palestinians by destroying Palestinian villages, daily executions, arrests and the targeting of children and journalists in the field. He held the Netanyahu government responsible for legitimizing these practices against the Palestinian people.

The International Federation of Journalists’ refers to “calumny, slander, libel, unfounded accusations” as “professional offenses.” The world’s largest organization of journalists also has yet to explain whether it believes that Abu Baker’s accusations regarding supposed Israeli Nazi and ISIS practices fall in that category or whether they reflect “respect for truth.”

In any event, it is evident that there is no truth behind the International Federation of Journalists’ lofty “respect for truth.” Nor is there any justice at the International Federation of Journalists, which pretends to fight for freedom of press and against discrimination, but which provides cover and comfort to Abu Baker, and which actively discriminates against Israeli journalists, denies them their freedom of press, and which endangers their lives by sending the message to Palestinian officials and journalists that the Israeli reporters are not welcome there.

Journalists who do genuinely care about these values should take note: The International Federation of Journalists does not represent you.

Tamar Sternthal is director of the Israel office of CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America).


[1] The boycott campaign against Israeli journalists has endangered their safety, and many have simply stopped reporting from Palestinian areas, according to a veteran Israeli journalist who refused to be named because of his ongoing work in Palestinian areas. For years, Israeli journalists moved freely through Palestinian areas, secure in the knowledge that they enjoyed protection from their Palestinian colleagues, he told this writer last spring.

That is no longer the case, he lamented. He reported that he avoids demonstrations and crowds, fearing that the Palestinian journalists upon whom he once relied for protection would be the first to call in forces to expel him, or worse. He described his work visit to Bethlehem last Christmas, in which he repeatedly evaded Palestinian journalists who might recognize him. Before the boycott, “if something bad were to happen, we would have someone to count on,” he noted.

Connecting the Nuclear Dots by Peter Huessy

  • Iran seeks to do us grave harm, potentially with ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. The threat warnings are clear and we have strong evidence — Iran has attacked us repeatedly over the past 30 years.Instead of heeding the nuclear missile “dots” that are emerging all around us, we are busy promoting trade with Iran, downplaying its violations of the nuclear deal, simply ignoring its ballistic missile developments and dismissing the growing evidence of its terrorist past.

After the attacks on September 11, 2001, Congress, the Bush administration, and terrorist experts complained that the country had simply not “connected the dots” provided by prior terrorist threats.

The 9/11 Commission also concluded that the attacks “should not have come as a surprise,” as “Islamist extremists had given plenty of warning that they meant to kill Americans indiscriminately and in large numbers.”

The Commission then listed 10 Islamic terror plots against the US prior to 9/11:

“In February 1993, a group led by Ramzi Yousef tried to bring down the World Trade Center with a truck bomb.

“Plans by Omar Abdel Rahman and others to blow up the Holland and Lincoln tunnels and other New York City landmarks …

“In October 1993, Somali tribesmen shot down US helicopters, killing 18 and wounding 73…

“In early 1995, police in Manila uncovered a plot by Ramzi Yousef to blow up a dozen U.S. airliners while they were flying over the Pacific.

“In November 1995, a car bomb exploded outside the office of the US program manager for the Saudi National Guard in Riyadh, killing five Americans and two others.

“In June 1996, a truck bomb demolished the Khobar Towers apartment complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 US servicemen and wounding hundreds.

“In August 1998, al Qaeda, carried out near-simultaneous truck bomb attacks on the US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The attacks killed 224 people, including 12 Americans, and wounded thousands more.

“In December 1999, Jordanian police foiled a plot to bomb hotels and other sites frequented by American tourists…

“…US Customs agent arrested Ahmed Ressam at the US-Canadian border as he was smuggling in explosives intended for an attack on Los Angeles International Airport.

“In October 2000, an al Qaeda team in Aden, Yemen, used a motorboat filled with explosives to blow a hole in the side of a destroyer, the USS Cole, almost sinking the vessel and killing 17 American sailors.”

Despite the overwhelming indications that an attack like 9/11 was around the corner, as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the country in her April 2004 testimony to the 9/11 Commission, “The terrorists were at war with us, but we were not yet at war with them. For more than 20 years, the terrorist threat gathered, and America’s response across several administrations of both parties was insufficient.”

Are we now better equipped to “connect the terrorist-threats by dots” than we were prior to 9/11? Certainly we are not still echoing the testimony of Richard Clarke when he told the Emerging Threats Subcommittee in the summer of 2000 that the administration “had not yet” determined how to spend homeland security funds even some eight years after the first World Trade Center bombing of February 1993.

Unfortunately, not only are we not connecting the terrorist dots, we are actively downplaying their significance. Nowhere else is this more apparent than in the virtually complete failure, on the part of the US, to hold Iran responsible for the terror attacks that have killed and maimed thousands of Americans since 1979. This failure is all the more disturbing after the numerous court decisions that have found Iran accountable for nearly $60 billion in damages owed to the victims and survivors of these attacks, including the 9/11 attacks.

The outstanding news analyst and author Melanie Phillips wrote nearly a year ago that Iran had been “…perpetrating acts of war against Western interests for more than three decades — including playing a key role in the 9/11 attacks on America.” Phillips noted that a Revolutionary Guard-Iranian Intelligence (MOIS) task force

“designed contingency plans for unconventional warfare against the US… aimed at breaking the American economy, crippling or disheartening the US, and disrupting the American social, military and political order — all without the risk of a head-to-head confrontation which Iran knew it would lose.”

She explained that the court testimony from former Iranian agents illustrates that Iran “…devised a scheme to crash hijacked Boeing 747s into the World Trade Center, the White House and the Pentagon. … The plan’s code name was ‘Shaitan dar Atash’ (‘Satan in flames’).” Further, the court evidence revealed that Iran obtained “a Boeing 757-767-777 flight simulator which it hid at a secret site where the 9/11 terrorists were trained.”

In December 2011, Judge George B. Daniels found that Iran, with the participation of its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was directly and heavily involved in the 9/11 atrocities. Khamenei instructed intelligence operatives that while expanding collaboration between Hezbollah and al-Qaeda, they must restrict communications to existing contacts with al-Qaeda’s second-in-command Ayman al Zawahiri and Imad Mughniyeh — Hezbollah’s then terrorism chief and agent of Iran.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (center), is shown meeting in May 2014 with Iran’s military chief of staff and the commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. (Image source: IRNA)

While the 9/11 Commission found solid evidence Iran aided the 9/11 hijackers in their travels from Iran, the “Extensive cooperation in major global terrorist activities,” between Iran, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda, including the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers housing complex in Saudi Arabia and the 1998 East Africa US embassy bombings, escaped the 9/11 Commission’s detailed attention. Notably, as long ago as in 2000, a US Defense Intelligence Agency analyst was alerting the government to a web of connections between al-Qaeda, the Iranian intelligence agencies controlled by Khamenei, and other terrorist groups.

Many press reports and analysts, cognizant of Iran’s terrorist history and aware that Iran has been designated by the US Department of State as the world’s premier state sponsor of terror, choose to believe the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal should not be derailed over concern of Iran’s possible future terrorist plans. Especially when it is often assumed these plans are aimed primarily at Israel and groups in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, and thus not of real concern to the United States.

Is the nuclear deal with Iran thus a good trade? We get to slow Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, but any serious sanctions or military effort to stop Iran’s terror agenda are off the table. Let’s connect the new nuclear-related Iran dots.

First, the world’s expert on Iran ballistic missiles, Uzi Rubin, revealed on July 15 that Iran has five new missile capabilities: they can strike the middle of Europe, including Berlin; they can target with GPS accuracy military facilities in Saudi Arabia; they can launch missiles from underground secret tunnels and caves without warning; they have missiles that are ready to fire 24/7; and they have developed other accurate missiles whose mission is to strike targets throughout Gulf region.

Second, the Associated Press revealed that a side agreement under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear “deal” actually allows Iran to break out of the agreement in year 11, not 15, at which point Iran will not even be six months away from having sufficient nuclear fuel to arm a nuclear warhead, and Iran will be able to install nuclear centrifuges five times more efficient than the ones they have today.

Third, according to German intelligence reports, Iran has, a few dozen times since the July 2015 nuclear agreement, sought to purchase nuclear ballistic missile technology, a violation of previous UN resolutions.

As Americans wonder who will be behind the next terrorist attacks on our country — “lone wolf” terrorists inspired by social media from Islamist groups; organized cells of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah; states such as Iran and Syria; or a combination of all three — we would do well to be reminded of the long-term use of terrorism by the former Soviet Union as one of their trademark elements of “statecraft.”

Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons has not been stopped and at best has been delayed. Add to that Iran’s enhanced ballistic missile capability, its growing partnership with North Korea and its history of terrorist attacks on the United States, and connecting the dots reveals a stark reality — nuclear terrorism by missile may be on its way.

During the spring and summer of 2001, US intelligence agencies received a stream of warnings that Al Qaeda was determined to strike. The specific information pointed to threats from overseas. The Bush administration began developing a strategy in early 2001 to eliminate Al Qaeda in three years. The 9/11 attacks happened “too soon.”

Iran seeks to do us grave harm, potentially with ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. The threat warnings are clear and we have strong evidence — Iran has attacked us repeatedly over the past 30 years

But instead of heeding the nuclear missile “dots” that are emerging all around us, we are busy promoting trade with Iran, downplaying its violations of the nuclear deal, simply ignoring its ballistic missile developments and dismissing the growing evidence of its terrorist past.

In short, we are not connecting these dots; we are erasing them.

Dr. Peter Huessy is President of GeoStrategic Analysis, a defense consulting firm he founded in 1981, and was the senior defense consultant at the National Defense University Foundation for more than 20 years. He is now the National Security Fellow at the AFPC, and Senior Defense Consultant at the Air Force

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