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Trump’s attachment to ISIL and right wing extremism: A conflict managed by Washington

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The radical right-wing movement, with its racist and nationalistic approach, is now finding more and more power in Europe. The confrontation with multicultural societies in Europe and the United States is one of the main goals of the leaders of the right-extremist movements in the West.

For the first time, during the 2016 presidential competition in the United States, Donald Trump could convince the majority of racists, nationalists and opponents of the multicultural society to take part in the elections and vote for him. On the other hand, the President of the United States, after his presence at the White House, reinforced Obama’s approach in supporting terrorist and Takfiri groups in the region.

The U.S. coalition’s attacks on popular forces in Iraq, or the bombing of Syrian armed forces in Deir-ez-Zor, showed that Washington is opposed to any attempt to completely eliminate Takfiri groups in West Asia. Indeed, what is Trump’s goal of “protecting the Takfiri threat” in West Asia and in the international system?

On the other hand, how can the interdependence of the European radical right currents and the White House leaders be interpreted? Here are some points that should be carefully considered:

“Marine Le Pen”, the most prominent figure in the right-wing extremism in Europe, supported Trumpduring the 2016 presidential election. Other nationalist and right-wing extremist leaders in Europe, against the politicians affiliated with the middle and left-wing currents, announced their support for the controversial nominee of the last year’s electoral campaign in the United States.

Trump’s “supporting approach in the economic arena,” “opposition to the existence of the European Union”, his “strict Atlantic approach within NATO” and “opposition to multicultural societies” were among the factors that attracted the attention of Europe’s extremists to Trump.

Given the direct and comprehensive influence of U.S. developments on the United Europe (as seen in the wake of the 2006 economic crisis), far-right extremists hope that domination of the nationalist and anti-immigration trends in the United States will lead to mutually reinforcing trends in the EU and the Eurozone. So, the European extremists are seeing Trump’s presence at the White House as a golden opportunity to expand their power.
Donald Trump and his companions highly “affect” and “are affected” by theright extremism in Europe. In other words, Trump seriously needs the right extremism and its social and political power to “restrain the United Europe through the revival of nationalism”.

The President of the United States is well aware that one of the prerequisites for the “revival of America’s economical superiority” is the maximum removal or suppression of Washington’s commercial rivals in the international system, and the European Union along with China, are considered America’s main rivals in this equation.

On the other hand, Trump knows well that the strengthening of the right-wing extremist currents and the emergence of nationalism in European societies means the collapse of the European Union and the Eurozone.From the very beginning of his presence at the White House, Trump officially supported the far-right movements within the EU and the Eurozone.

Even in a controversial interview, Trump stated that “Brexit” should be taken as a model for other European countries, and that this will happen in other EU countriessooner or later. Although Trump’s statements were accompanied by the negative reaction of European leaders, including “Angela Merkel” and “Jean-Claude Juncker”, the President of the United States attained his goal in this regard.

Right now the extremist right movements have won important victories in the European countries’ parliaments. In the 2017 general election in Germany, the Alternative for Germany (AFD) was the first to enter the country’s parliament (Bundestag) with more than 12% of the vote. The AFD has now become the third strongest party in the country (after the two Christian and Social Democratic parties).

In Austria, the Freedom Party (FOP) was able to join the body of the Austrian coalition government after a gigantic victory in the general election. In Sweden (as the main symbol of a multicultural community in Europe), surveys show that the far-right parties have attracted a large number of citizens.

According to the latest polls, the Democratic Party of Sweden (far-right nationalism) has become the first and most popular party in the country with about 25 percent of the vote. In other European countries such as France, Italy and the Netherlands, the right-wing extremism continues to grow under the support of the new government in the United States.

Donald Trump finds that the key to reinforce right-wing radicalism in the West, is to keep the “ISIL threat” and other Takfiri groups alive within the borders of the European Union. Therefore, the White House is seeking to “manage” ISIL in both intellectual and operational spheres instead of “destroying” it. In other words, the “ISIL destruction strategy” is not basically defined in U.S. foreign policy.

As news sources in the West acknowledge, during the liberation of Raqa, hundreds of ISIL members, along with their families and under the protection of coalition forces (managed by the United States), easily left the city and were scattered elsewhere in Syria. Undoubtedly, this targeted action has been taken to “revive Takfiri terrorism” after the dissolution of the ISIL caliphate.

Trump, with a calculation based on cause and result, rightly believe that the “Takfiri thinking” and “far-right radical thinking in the West” feed on each other and work as mutual reinforcing factors. Hence, he intends to manage these two extremist currents simultaneously so that he can provide the ground to carry out his political and economic plans.

First published in our partner Tehran Times

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Americas

Typhoons and this Week’s Typhoon of Sex Abuse

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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Hurricane Florence downgraded to Category 1 but still huge in moisture content will continue to pour rain on Georgia and the Carolinas over the weekend.  At the same time, Typhoon Mangkhut in the Pacific will be ravaging the Philippines, Hong Kong and China.  It is larger and much more powerful, a category 5, and the Philippines, which lacks the infrastructure and resources of the others, is expected to suffer the worst.

Meanwhile another typhoon of sorts is hitting the U.S.   Powerful men topple as women shame them through the #MeToo movement.  The latest is Leslie Moonves the head of CBS one of the major U.S. TV networks.  Apparently, Mr. Moonves had the habit of forcing himself, his attentions and his anatomy on vulnerable young females working for him.

This particular typhoon has now enveloped Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the new Supreme Court nominee who would have shifted the court decisively to the right.  A letter has appeared and forwarded to the FBI for further investigation.  It recalls a high school incident over which the other party wishes to remain anonymous.  Is this the beginning of the end for Mr. Kavanaugh?  One never knows.  Justice Thomas survived some very troubling appalling allegations by Anita Hill.  She has been chosen now to lead the recently formed Hollywood Commission on Harassment.

Ants in the pants or in this case the cassock are in the news once again.  In Germany, some 1670 Catholic priests committed some form of sex abuse on 3677 minors between 1940 and 2014; so finds a study commissioned by the church.  One in six cases involved rape.  The authors noted the figures and the extent of the abuse may be higher as some records had been “destroyed or manipulated”.  The work was extensive enough that three German universities participated in the study, which examined 38,000 documents obtained from 27 German dioceses.

The state of Kerala, home to one of the largest Christian populations in India, has seen protests by nuns and their supporters over the rape of a nun by a bishop.  The nun lodged a formal complaint with the police on June 27 claiming abuse by Bishop Franco Mullackal over two years.  So far no action by the police, who pushed from both sides probably wish the whole issue would disappear.  As she made the complaint after the bishop went to the police claiming she and five other nuns were harassing and blackmailing him, some politicians have questioned her account.

Yet former nuns have previously raised the question of a climate of sexual abuse in the Kerala Catholic Church.  Babies born from such liaisons are often murdered says former Sister Mary who now runs an orphanage.  She saved one such child from the mother, a nun, who was trying to kill the newborn by drowning it in a toilet tank.  “That boy is a student who lives the life of an orphan,” she adds.  She thinks priests should be allowed to marry.  Then there is another former nun, Sister Jesme, who wrote openly about sexual abuse in her book, “Amen:  The Autobiography of a Nun” after she left her Catholic order.  She has severed all ties.

Add the abuse of boys by a charismatic priest in Chile, and we have news stories covering four continents just this week alone.  That the Catholic church needs an overhaul, at least in this respect, must be clear to the pope and his advisers.  Of course medical science now allows chemical castration, a reversible process.  And then there is marriage as the good sister suggests.

The sexual exploitation of the weak and vulnerable by the powerful transgresses religious and secular boundaries.  Not for nothing is ‘the director’s couch’ a metaphor.  The fault in the end lies with society, and a pervasive ‘wink and nod’ corporate culture that often still prevails.

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Fear in the White House and Trump’s Foreign Policy

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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The sensation this week is Bob Woodward’s book on the Trump White House titled, “Fear:  Trump in the White House.”  It shows a President Trump universally disparaging his own White House staff, even cabinet members.  His first Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is likened to a rat, “He just scurries around.”  Attorney General Jeff Sessions is, “mentally retarded.  He’s this dumb Southerner.  He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama”.  To commence Secretary Wilbur Ross:  “You’re past your prime.”  He could well be, otherwise he would have resigned following such a clear and direct indication of no confidence.

As can be expected such ‘favors’ are reciprocated.  Thus Chief of Staff John Kelly, “We’re in Crazytown.”  He is alleged also to have called President Trump an “idiot’ repeatedly.  Defense Secretary James Mattis told an aide that Trump understands foreign policy at the level of a “fifth or sixth grader”.  Of course, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was once quoted in news reports as calling Trump “a f****ing moron”.

All of which serves as an introduction for a quick look at Trump’s foreign policy.  To say it is unorthodox is to minimize the upending of the status quo ante.  He has simultaneously angered European allies, Canada and Mexico, threatened trade war with China and broken the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement with Iran.  He has embraced Israel’s Netanyahu in the tightest hug seen, moving the U .S. embassy to Jerusalem — the sole major power to do so — and dumping the Palestinians in a garbage bin of misery by cutting US funding for their UN Relief and Works Agency lifeline.

His reflexive attack on Syria following a chemical attack in the country established a trigger-happy Trump reputation, which might paradoxically have helped negotiations with North Korea.  Tensions have subsided following the summit and the North Koreans have dismantled nuclear testing facilities, although it would be naive to imagine they will give up nuclear weapons.  The ambiguity of informal promises continues to cause mild acrimony.

Mr. Trump is not getting a new wall from Mexico but a new NAFTA has been agreed upon pending Canada’s decision.  The White House says it will continue talks with its northern neighbor.  The issues with Canada are of course different from Mexico.

For several decades, Donald Trump has been accusing America’s allies notably the major European powers and Japan of getting a free ride on defense while they focus their resources on improving their own quality of life.  He wants Europeans to abide by the NATO stated goal of spending at least 2 percent of GDP on defense.  A  majority now have plans to do so by 2024.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has neatly side-stepped a trade war.  As early as April 2018, he showed a willingness to compromise, pledging to reduce barriers to foreign investment in his country.  Meanwhile, more tariffs escalating tensions continue to be imposed by both sides as trade negotiations continue and China enjoys a huge trade surplus.

The wily Vladimir Putin manages to maintain good relations with countries that are sworn enemies to each other, for example Israel and Iran.  He is selling arms to NATO member Turkey and he has had a friendly summit with Mr. Trump … plus he is getting his own way in Syria.

So the report card on Trump’s foreign policy?  He is being taken seriously by his allies as he continues to be outflanked by China and Russia.

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Tussle between America and Turkey: The Whole Story

Michael Samuel

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An economic tussle between the US and Turkey has heightened over the past few months. Both countries are continuously imposing sanctions to paralyze each other economically. But why they are doing so? First of all, we have to keep in view the main reasons behind this tussle.

This tussle started after failed coup attempt by the Turkish Army on July 15, 2016 on which, a week after, Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for failed bloody coup attempt to topple Erdogan’s government and behind this failed coup attempt for Marshall Law, Gulen network was of intention to remove Erdogan from the way and to promote his philosophy of moderate Islam. According to Gulen, Turkey was heading backward because of Erdogan’s conventional and orthodox policies. Erdogan then accused Gulen of conspiring to overthrow him from the government by building a network and officially declared the Gulen movement a terrorist organization in 2016. Erdogan and Gulen were once allies until Gullen opened a corruption probe into Erdogan’s inner circle in 2013. Turkey’s repetitive requests for Fethullah Gulen’s extradition from the US to face trial were rejected by the US saying they need a proper evidence of Gulen’s involvement first.

Fethullah Gulen is a Turkish Preacher, imam, and writer, currently living in self-imposed exile in the United States. He is the founder of Gulen movement known as Hizmet which is 3 to 6 million strong volunteer-based movement mostly focused on education, hard work, altruism, and modesty. This movement serves in Europe, the United States, Asia, and Africa.

This rift intensified more when Andrew Brunson, an American pastor, currently living in Turkey, arrested by the Turkish government in October 2016, has taken to the court to face trials over an allegation of alleged espionage on behalf of Kurdish insurgents and Gullen network and involvement in the failed coup attempt in 2016. He was under detention of Turkish government for 600 days, almost 2 years, is now released from jail due to health issues and placed under house arrest on July 25, 2018. The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, welcomed Andrew Brunson’s release from prison but said it is not far enough and demanded his complete release as they have not seen any credible evidence against Mr. Brunson but Turkish authorities neglected continuous demand for Brunson’s release by American policymakers.

Donald Trump rebuked Turkish authorities over their decision for not releasing their man in his tweet and said, “this is a total disgrace that Turkey will not release a respected American pastor, Andrew Brunson, from prison. He has been held hostage far too long. Erdogan should do something to free this wonderful Christian husband and father. He has done nothing wrong and his family needs him.” Turkish prosecutors are seeking a maximum prison sentence of 35 years for the pastor and the court has also imposed a travel ban on him.

The US’s Vice President, Mike Pence in response to this, threatened Turkey in his interview and said, “on behalf of the United States of America, release pastor Andrew Brunson now or be prepared to face the consequences.” Trump also said I thought Ankara and Washington had a deal that if Washington will help in the release of Turkish citizen in Israel on behalf of Ankara, they will fully release the pastor. Trump claimed, he urged the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu for the release of a Turkish citizen. However, Israel had even released Turkish citizen named Ebru Ozkan, on whom allegations are imposed that he was involved in abetting Hamas but Turkey instead, did not keep its words and moved the pastor to house arrest. Not fair. Not right.

In retaliation to Turkey’s betrayal, Trump administration levied sanctions on two Turkish ministers (Minister of Justice, Abdulhamit Gul and Minister of Interior, Suleyman Soylu) over propaganda on Andrew Brunson, and also banned their entry into the US and made their assets even frozen to suppress Turkish government on August 1, 2018. In addition to this, Trump further reacted in ire and said, we are cutting back on Turkey and announced a doubling of tariffs on Turkey on August 10, 2018. He said in his tweet, “I have just authorized a doubling of tariffs on steel and aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong dollar. Aluminum will now be 20% and steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time.” He did not care much about that Turkey is their NATO ally. Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin said, Turkey has “not proven to be a good friend” and we are ready to slap Turkey with more sanctions if President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refuses the quick release of an American pastor on August 16, 2018.

In reciprocation to the US’s operations, Turkey took immediate steps by imposing heavy tariffs on products imported from the United States including cars, alcohol, and tobacco also on rice, nuts, cosmetics, paper, machines etc. Turkey placed 140% on alcohol, 120% on cars and 60% on tobacco and slaps sanctions on 2 US officials i.e., minister of Interior and Minister of Justice. Banned their entry into Turkey and had also frozen their assets. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a press conference, “our nation will boycott U.S. electronic goods. We will stop bringing iPhone. He said, if they have their iPhone, we have South Korea’s Samsung as an alternative. In our own country, we have a Vestel.”

Supporters were strongly fascinated by Erdogan’s statement that “don’t forget, if they have their dollars, we have our people, our God. We are working hard. Look at what we were 16 years ago and look at us now.” As their deliberated trade tensions are at its peak, Turkish Lira shattered badly against the US’s mounting dollar and tumbled up to 5%. Investors started to pull out their money from banks. Such withdrawals have also hurt other currencies. Argentine peso and Indian rupee touched their weakest level against the US dollar. Turkey’s economy is suffering severely due to escalating sanctions by the US and is facing a currency crisis. Loss of $12 billion or more is expected to both countries amid their crumbling relations. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it is also expected that these actions by the US can cause a loss of more than $500 billion to the whole world. It seemed like the only way for Turkey to get out of this crisis is by securing the help of IMF’s rescue bailout but Turkey’s Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said in a conference, there is no need to be panic, we will easily overcome this economic crisis and will emerge even stronger than before. He is taking its investors in confidence and also talks to France and Germany. Turkey is insistent that no matter what happens, they will not seek the help of IMF. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and French President Emmanuelle Macron have agreed to improve bilateral relations as Turkey is passing through the dire strait. Turkey’s Finance Minister Berat Albayrak engaged with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and have agreed to meet in Berlin to take steps for further enhancement of economic cooperation.

Turkish Lira was up 4% against US dollar following the conference call and reassuring words from French President Macron and Germany’s Chancellor Merkel. Qatar pledged to invest $15 billion in Turkey’s financial sector which will also help to stabilize and bolster their economy. Pakistan, Iran, and Russia have also announced to help Turkey in their impassable time and deplored the US’s sanction on Turkey. Russian foreign minister calls US sanctions illegitimate. He further added that they are devising to end the US dollar’s dominance and envisaging to trade with Turkey and other countries as an alternative currency. Turkey’s president Erdogan also denied to stop trading with Iran after the cancellation of a nuclear deal between Iran and America and is likely thinking forward to purchase Russian Air Defense System if needed which America does not like.

On August 20, 2018, some assailants opened fire on the US Embassy in the capital Ankara. It has been suspected that this attack was carried out as a result of increased tensions between two NATO allies. Turkish Lira plunged further against the dollar after their spat with the United States on August 29, 2018. It has lost almost more than a quarter of its value. On the same day, Turkish media reported that Mohammad Ahmad, known as the spiritual son of Andrew Brunson, has been accused of being the link between the pastor and the Gulenist terror group. As on August 17, 2018, Turkish court in the province of Izmir, rejected an appeal to release Brunson, the lawyer of Brunson on August 30, 2018, has now decided that they would go to European Court of Human Rights.

The only way for both countries to reinstate their extremely disturbed relations is by reconciliation and consensus. Otherwise, the entire world would have to suffer from their delicate and shabby relationship.

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