TURKEY – Erdogan’s agenda: Neo-Ottoman ambition or pan-Islamist zeal?

The Jerusalem Post | Lela Gilbert | June 28, 2020

Turkish aggression in at least five countries has been headlined in international news reports just this month, June 2020. These accounts focus on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest intrusions into Israel, Libya, Iraq, Syria and Greece.

Meanwhile, it is noteworthy to those of us who focus on international religious freedom that whenever Turkey moves in, religious freedom moves out. There can be no lasting freedom of worship for any faith unless it conforms with Turkey’s Islamic practices.

In Israel, an article was released on June 15 by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs reporting that Turkey is working nonstop to gain influence on the Temple Mount, in the Old City of Jerusalem and in eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods.

Writer Nadav Shragai points out, “In the second decade of the 21st century, Turkish nonprofit associations – and sometimes the Turkish government itself via the governmental aid agency TIKA [Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency] – have funneled tens of millions of dollars into various initiatives that have enhanced Turkey’s influence… ”The list includes the Temple Mount.

Shragai says, “In many of the locations, the activity has been done in cooperation with activists ideologically linked to the Muslim Brotherhood movement in east Jerusalem… ”

Informed observers already know what the Muslim Brotherhood and its cohorts think about Jews and Judaism – on the Temple Mount and elsewhere.

In Libya, Seth Frantzman reported for The Jerusalem Post on June 20 that Egypt and Turkey might come to blows over Turkish aggression in the ongoing Libyan Civil War. Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Russia, along with others, back General Khalifa Haftar. Turkey and Qatar back the GNA.

Frantzman explains that the Government of the National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, “is a loose confederation of different groups, some of whom are linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkish backing.” GNA is also rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood movement.

In Iraq, Turkey has recently bombed Sinjar Mountain, where countless Yazidi refugees have taken shelter. On FRC’s Washington Watch broadcast, Michael Rubin, a scholar and expert on the Middle East, explained that Erdogan’s primary goal is his continued ethnic cleansing of Kurdish groups.

However, Rubin went on to say that many Yazidis have returned to live on Sinjar Mountain, “… the refugees, the women, the girls who have been returning from Syria, liberated from ISIS. They’re trying to get their life together.

“And it’s not clear why the Turks are insisting on bombarding them. It really undercuts the development and it raises questions about whether Turkey is waging counter-terrorism, and it’s clear they’re not, or whether they’re pursuing a religious agenda – an intolerant religious agenda, said Rubin.”

In Syria, the Washington Kurdish Institute reported, “During the first days of June 2020, around 20 different human rights organizations signed a petition to raise awareness on crimes carried on by the many Turkish-backed militias in Afrin, Syria and asked for international intervention.

It is well known and widely reported that Afrin’s religious minorities have been violently abused by the Turks and their militias.

“In areas under Turkey’s control,” Genocide Watch reported following that deadly incursion, “civilians have been subjected to horrific crimes against humanity committed by Turkish forces and Turkish supported militias. Kurdish towns have been bombed and destroyed… Hundreds of civilians have been summarily executed. Kurdish and Yazidi women have been kidnapped and subjected to sexual slavery… ”

THOUSANDS OF Christians fled the invasion of Afrin; few remain. And now minorities in Northeast Syria are once again fearful because of Turkish threats.

In Greece, Arabic news reported on June 14, “In an escalating war of nerves between Athens and Ankara, bilateral relations have deteriorated, sparking fears of a military confrontation between the two NATO allies. Greek Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos recently highlighted the country’s ‘readiness for military conflict with Turkey.’”