Saturday, February 28, 2015

An Ottoman Relic—and Turkish Ambitions in Syria—are Re-laid to Rest :: Bekdil at Gatestone

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An Ottoman Relic—and Turkish Ambitions in Syria—are Re-laid to Rest

by Burak Bekdil
The Gatestone Institute
February 26, 2015
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Originally published under the title, "Turkey's Illusions Hit Realities."
Hundreds of Turkish troops entered Syria on the night of February 21 to evacuate 38 Turkish guards at the tomb of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of the Ottoman Empire's founder.
Turkey's dramatic miscalculation over Syria is pushing it into weird acts. The latest was the forced relocation of a pre-Ottoman Turkish commander's tomb from its spot in Syria to another spot in Syria, this time a stone's throw away from the Turkish border. Relocating the tomb seems to have been prompted by the fear of an attack from radical Islamists -- who, ironically, Turkey wanted discreetly to support.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who in 2001 authored the 600-page book, "Strategic Depth," hoped at the start of the Arab Spring, when he served as Foreign Minister, that a belt of (Sunni) Muslim Brotherhood-ruled regimes would proliferate in Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon and Libya, and be subservient to an emerging Turkish empire. To start with Syria, therefore, the Nusayri strongman of the country, President Bashar al-Assad, had to go.
In August 2012, Davutoglu predicted that Assad's days in power were numbered "to a few weeks."
Turkey once hoped to see a belt of (Sunni) Muslim Brotherhood-ruled regimes in Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon and Libya.
Two and a half years later, Assad is no longer Turkey's southern neighbor. Instead, various groups of jihadists and armed comrades from among Turkey's own restive Kurds are Turkey's new neighbors across the 910 km border. It was one of those violent groups, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS, aka The Islamic State], which prompted Turkey to perform one of the most bizarre military operations in recent history.
Suleyman Shah was the grandfather of Osman I, the founder of the Ottoman Empire and a revered figure for the Turks. He is believed to have drowned in the Euphrates in 1236, and was buried in what is now Syria. In 1886, a tomb was built for him. And in 1921, when France controlled Syria, it signed a peace treaty with Turkey and granted the Turks sovereignty over the small plot of land that hosted Suleyman Shah's tomb. That land would be Turkey's only sovereign land outside its own territory.
The treaty stated that:
The tomb of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of the Sultan Osman, founder of the Ottoman dynasty (the tomb known under the name of Turk Mezari), situated at Jaber-Kalesi shall remain, with its appurtenances, the property of Turkey, which may appoint guardians for it and may hoist the Turkish flag there.
Although the tomb was relocated to a new piece of land inside Syria in 1973, due to threats from floods from a dam, its new location also became a de facto Turkish enclave. A garrison of 38 Turkish soldiers has stood guard permanently at the tomb since then.
The guards were regularly replaced with new conscripts until eight months ago when, threatened by ISIS, the Turkish military felt no longer able to change them: The guards were besieged at the tomb, surrounded by ISIS's jihadists who have a notoriety for destroying tombs and sepulchers that they deem "un-Islamic."
On the night of Feb. 21, the Turkish military sent 572 troops, 39 tanks, 57 armored vehicles and 100 other vehicles to extract its soldiers from there.
The building was destroyed by the army (in order not to let ISIS do that); the tomb was transferred to land just a few hundred meters away from the Turkish border, and the risk of humiliation from a new encounter with ISIS was averted. (In 2014, ISIS raided the Turkish consulate in Mosul, Iraq's second biggest city, and held hostage 46 people, including the consul general, consul staff and their family members. The hostages were released after 101 days of captivity under terms that were never disclosed).
The tomb rescue operation, at best, could be considered a retreat with a rational explanation. Apparently, the Turkish government does not want to confront ISIS, which until recently was its comrade-in-arms against Assad. The risk of another hostage crisis with ISIS would have been too embarrassing for Turkey's government, especially with only about 100 days to go until critical parliamentary elections.
But instead of taking modest pride in successfully averting a crisis, the Turkish leadership and its cheerleaders in the media -- 65% of which it controls -- portrayed the operation as if Turkish special forces had abducted Assad, rather than rescuing their own besieged soldiers and the roaming tomb of a pre-Ottoman Turkish commander.
One headline said, "The world is talking about the success of Operation Suleyman Shah." Other headlines said: "The Turkomans are proud"; "No permission, we just went there and took it"; "We hit whoever stood on our way"; "The epic [tale] of Shah Euphrates."
Social media were quickly filled with jokes teasing the "heroes." One of them created speech balloons on a photo that shows Davutoglu and the top military brass managing the crisis at military headquarters. The speech balloons say "What an escape it was!"; "How successfully we ran away, eh?"; "After all, it was a perfect escape"; and "Let's accept it... We ran away so skillfully..."
Another photo shows Davutoglu with General Necdet Ozel, Turkey's top military commander. Ozel's speech balloon reads: "Now are we abandoning the tomb?" To which Davutoglu answers: "Do you think we should also abandon Hatay (a Turkish city claimed by Syria)?" Meanwhile, the air force commander looks on and says: "Strategic madness..."
In many ways, the "abduction from the tomb" is not just neo-Ottoman skullduggery. It is yet another face of neo-Ottoman illusions hitting hard on a wall of Middle Eastern realities.
Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a columnist for the Turkish daily Hürriyet and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
Related Topics:  Syria, Turkey and Turks  |  Burak Bekdil

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New Book: It's All About Muhammad

New Book: It's All About Muhammad

Link to Citizen Warrior

Posted: 27 Feb 2015 03:11 PM PST
I am halfway through a great book entitled, It's All About Muhammad, by F. W. Burleigh. It is a fascinating story. Muhammad comes alive, as does the town of Mecca and the characters who lived there. I first learned about this book from the author himself. He wrote me the following email (reprinted here with his permission):

Dear Citizen Warrior;

I wrote an illustrated biography of Muhammad that was recently released: It's All About Muhammad, a Biography of the World's Most Notorious Prophet. It's very detailed and based primarily on a close study of 20,000 pages of the canonical literature of Islam. Additionally, it contains 25 illustrations, half of them "depicting" atrocities Muhammad committed.

I would like to know if you would be willing to review it for Citizen Warrior, as it offers an abundance of ammunition to push back Islam and is a good supplement to your excellent book, Getting Through.

I believe this book is distinctive from anything that has been published about Muhammad to date:

For one, it is illustrated. It is also thorough, with nearly 500 pages of biographical details written in such a way that the reader is brought into the action. It's almost like a novel, but it is factual and based on the wealth of anecdotal materials about Muhammad found in the canonical literature. It is supplemented with 47 pages of chapter notes that prove that nothing is invented. It gives a good sampling of the weirdness of the source material.

Among other things, the bio shows the connection between the events of Muhammad's life and the Koran and demonstrates that the Koran was like a blog that Muhammad maintained for 23 years. Quotes from the Koran are woven into the narrative and show the time of origin of many of the most hate-filled verses of the Koran — echoes of Muhammad's hatred.

Perhaps what is most different about the book is that with its illustrations it offers itself as an example of an approach to dealing with Islam — in the short term and in the long term. In the Epilogue, the book argues that the best weapon that can be used to push back Islam is the truth about Muhammad, but presented in docudramas and feature film. As you are well aware, the truth about him is grotesque. Muhammad in fact committed almost every crime listed by the International Criminal Court as constituting a crime against humanity — all indictable offenses based on the evidence that can be found in Islam's literature. The epilogue suggests a film project in which Muhammad and his cronies are put on trial for crimes against humanity.

Islam contains the seed of its own destruction, and this seed is the truth about Muhammad. Your book, my book, and books by many other people who understand the insidious nature of Islam are necessary and important for waking people up. However, how many people read books? Not that many, meaning that their impact at best is trickle down. Yet what is needed is to bring the masses of humanity on board for an informed push back against this evil. Informed people are motivated people.

This can be best accomplished through the graphic presentation of the truth about Muhammad — the truth weaponized. The truth is the weapon, the horrific details of Muhammad's life the ammunition, the Internet and TV and ultimately the movie theater are the delivery systems.

I'd be happy to send you a complimentary copy, but I realize your address is not something you would likely give out to anyone — not even to the president of the United States of America!

If you would like to have an idea of the book, you can check it out at There is a sample chapter posted, Chapter 23: The Final Solution, which has to do with the massacre of the Qurayza Jews. Also posted are the introduction, the list of illustrations, and the Table of Contents.

Your book and your blog are first rate and put you on the front line of the struggle against Islam. I am a late comer to the fight, but here I am along with a ton of ammunition.


After I started reading the book, I wrote to the author and said: "I'm enjoying your book tremendously. Well done. You must have been reading about Muhammad for a long time. What first got you interested in the subject?"

Here's what he said (reprinted with his permission):

9/11 was the spark. Before that I saw Islam was something screwy, more a disease than a religion, but didn't know much about it or Muhammad and really didn't want to.

After 9/11, I began looking into it, but sporadically, then in 2006-2007 I decided a truthful biography was needed with illustrations thrown in as a way of telling Islam to go screw itself. But I didn't have time to jump into it. However, the next few years I figured out what I needed to learn was in the original literature, so I began acquiring everything I could get my hands on...all the books in the bibliography and a lot more. Fortunately, translations of important books were getting published by then, like the Life of Muhammad of al-Waqidi, first available in 2011, which is the definitive original work of his raids and battles.

Then I took a deep breath and began to study and write full time in 2011, almost day in day out. It involved tearing apart about twenty of the most important volumes of the original works, which means scanning them page by page, and then reading them line by line, often many times, to extract the content, and breaking everything down into many thousands of mini-files to I could keep track of hundreds of characters, events, concepts, you name it, so that when I wrote I had all of this stuff at my fingertips. This was something I did as I wrote. Characters were extremely important and I developed quite a number of characters in the book. I compiled big files on a lot of Muhammad's friends and enemies. When you know enough about them, you can see them as believable three-dimensional people you can identify with, as real as anyone you hear about today in the media. All this was accompanied by reading supplementary work that was worth studying....the works of 19th and 20th century Christian and Jewish scholars were invaluable for understanding where Muhammad got his ideas and how he modified them to suit his delusions about himself. I read the Koran multiple times, dissecting it so that I could tie in events in Muhammad's life to specific verses, and on and took about three years of hard work like that to get to the end of it, and then months of rewriting and editing until it read well.

We are in a war for survival. Islam has destroyed entire civilizations and ours is not immune from destruction. It will take the efforts of millions of Citizen Warriors to keep that from happening, and I've signed up for the duration. Writing It's All About Muhammad was only boot camp.


In a later email, the author sent me more information about how he wrote the book. This is what he said:

I undertook an extensive study of Islam a number of years ago and as a result of these studies produced a comprehensive biography of Muhammad, the creator of Islam.

Given that I put 10,000 hours of work into this, I consider myself an expert not only in the biographical details about Muhammad, but also Islam. And that is because Islam is all about Muhammad. Know Muhammad, know Islam. Nothing that happens anywhere in the world that is related to Islam is unrelated to Muhammad.

Why is this important? Why should it matter what a guy named Muhammad did in the Wild West of Arabia 1,400 years ago? He's dead and now dust. He may be dust, but what he created is not dust. What he created is a militant ideology that seeks to impose itself worldwide, and it is making rapid advances where it is least resisted.

Islam's followers model their behavior on Muhammad's. And they follow the commands of his Koran. They believe God dictated the Koran to him and all of its commands to commit violence against people who rejected him.

It is the assumption of all of the work I have done that Islam is irremediably violent and always will be because Muhammad was irremediably violent. He would never have gotten a lasting following by peaceful proselytizing. He was only able to succeed through violence. He created a powerful ideology of sanctified violence using sex, booty, and fear of hellfire to rope people in and keep them roped. ISIS and the nauseating atrocities it perpetrates are not aberrations. ISIS is Islam 101, the Islam of Muhammad.

Islam creates chaos and strife everywhere it goes. Live even for a day in the Middle East and you will see what will come eventually to where you are now — unless you do something about it. But how can you do anything about it unless you know what it is about? You have to know your enemy and your enemy is not al-Qaeda, or ISIS, or Boko Haram. Your enemy is what is in the head of these people and the man who put it there. Your enemy is Muhammad.

To know the truth about him is to have a weapon to defend yourself against what he created. The truth about him is grotesque. It is a story of cruel barbarity, assassinations, mass murder, plunder, enslavement, and on and on. But relatively few people know anything about it, yet the truth about him is the seed that ultimately will bring about the destruction of what he created.

Read It's All About Muhammad, a Biography of the World's Most Notorious Prophet.

Daniel Greenfield's article: Our Crucial Choice of the War on Terror

Daniel Greenfield's article: Our Crucial Choice of the War on Terror

Link to Sultan Knish

Posted: 27 Feb 2015 02:09 PM PST
There are two models for fighting terrorism. We can see the terrorists as an external invading force that has to be destroyed or as an internal element in our society to be managed.

In the War on Terror, Bush saw terrorists as an external force that had to be fought while Obama sees them as an internal element to be managed. And while both men signed off on some of the same tactics, their view of the conflict at the big picture level was fundamentally different.

The differences express themselves in such things as detaining terrorists at Guantanamo Bay or backing Islamist democracy. If Muslim terrorists are an alien force, then detaining them without trial is no more of a problem than detaining Nazi saboteurs was during WW2. And if Islamic terrorism is driven by alien impulses, then it has nothing in common with us and attempting to accommodate it cannot succeed.

Obama and the Europeans see Islamic terrorism as a social problem whose root causes need to be resolved rather than defeated. It’s the old model used for the radical left which was “fought” by mainstream parties adopting elements of its program to compete with it… with disastrous results.

But the results of adopting elements of the Islamic program would be even worse.

Obama blamed the Paris terror attacks on a failure to integrate. But Islamic terrorism is an attempt to integrate Europe into Islam. The bombs and bullets, like the Sharia patrols and the No-Go Zones, are statements by Muslims that they will not be integrated into Europe. Europe must integrate with them.

Muslim terrorists reject the assumption that they are a domestic social problem. To the Muslim born in France or the UK, who may even be a native convert, the domestic social problem comes from Jews and Christians who refuse to acknowledge the supremacy of Islam, from cartoonists who draw Mohammed and from women who leave the house. Islamic terrorism is meant to integrate us into the Dar-al-Islam.

If we are going to view Islamic terrorism as a domestic social problem, then we might as well take a look at how Muslim countries deal with terrorism. They rarely declare war against it, but when they do, they tend to engage in ruthless mass slaughter. Jordan may have killed as many as 20,000 Palestinian Arabs in its fight with the PLO. Assad’s father may have killed 40,000 Syrians in Hama when putting down the Muslim Brotherhood. The death toll from the current conflict hovers at around a quarter of a million.

But Muslim countries rarely fight terrorism. Like Obama, they mostly manage terrorism.

In Muslim countries, terrorism actually is an internal element. It’s not an alien force, but an ongoing momentum of expansion and conflict that predates the airplane and the bomb. This is the tool that Mohammed and his successors used to conquer sizable portions of the world. That’s why Muslim countries don’t fight terrorism. They export it.

Jihad is a ticking time bomb that they dump on their enemies. Major Muslim countries sponsor terrorist groups the way that we sponsor sports teams. Sometimes they fight a terrorist group and then sponsor it and fight it again. Sometimes they sponsor it and fight it at the same time. That’s the kind of situation that gives counterterrorism experts headaches, but maintains a bizarre kind of stability in the region.
A Muslim country with a terrorist problem points the terrorists to another country. That’s a major reason why Lebanon, Syria and Iraq are disaster areas. It’s also why our Gulf allies keep funding the terrorists attacking America. Not only is it the religiously devout thing to do and confers geopolitical advantages on them, but it’s also the international equivalent of dumping your toxic waste next door.

Exporting Islamic terrorism is something that Muslim countries can do more easily than non-Muslim countries can. The Russians are about the only non-Muslims to have managed to do it without getting hurt too badly. Our own efforts in dabbling with foreign Muslim terrorists have been disastrous. Trying to export domestic Muslim terrorists into another conflict would be a terrible idea.

Nevertheless the West is doing just that in Syria, intentionally or unintentionally. And the consequences will be quite serious because unlike the Saudis, we can’t keep generating international conflicts for them to fight in fast enough to prevent them from coming home and killing Americans.

Obama and the EU are trying to manage Islamic terrorists, but only Muslim countries can do that. In the Muslim world, terrorist groups function as unofficial militias, proxy armies that can be dispatched to fight their enemies. But Islamic forces fight for an Islamic cause. Obama can claim that America is one of the world’s largest Muslim countries, but he can’t call on their Islamic allegiance to the United States.

The most crucial decision in our approach to Islamic terrorism is to decide whether it represents a foreign or domestic element. If we treat Muslim terrorists as a domestic force, then we will have to cater to them. The path of appeasement will eventually lead to adopting some form of Islamic law even if we do it under the guise of our existing legal system, such as prosecuting blasphemy against Islam under hate crime laws. But as we attempt to manage Islamic terrorism, the violence will increase.

Eventually we will discover that the only way to compete with Al Qaeda or ISIS is to adopt elements of the Islamic program, the way that the West did with the radical left. That is what most Muslim countries have already done. And if we do it, then we will have defeated ourselves. That is why the approach advocated by Obama and the European Union is bound to fail. The United States is not a Muslim country and it cannot afford to manage terror the way that Muslim countries do.

The Islamic terrorist is not a legitimate domestic element in America, the way that he is in Pakistan or Syria, because he has no function here. The United States is not in need of freelance fanatical militias following a foreign creed that puts them at odds with Americans. If we attempt to cultivate Islamic terrorists, then we will still end up becoming their first, or at best, second choice of targets.

The West can only defeat Islamic terrorism by treating it as a foreign element; an outside force that must be destroyed, rather than accommodated. Unlike Islamic countries, we cannot accommodate it without destroying what we are. And we cannot make use of it without destroying ourselves.

Europe still insists on seeing Islamic terrorism as a domestic social problem and if its Muslim population continues to grow, then eventually it will be correct. Islamic terrorism will cease to be a foreign threat to Europe and become the means by which its non-Muslims are integrated into accepting Islamic rule.

The United States however is not an Islamic country in any sense of the word. It does not face the same demographic danger as France. And it should not treat Islamic terrorism as a domestic element.

To defeat an enemy, we have to view it as external to ourselves. When we accept Islam as a domestic phenomenon to be grappled with, managed, moderated and deradicalized; then we give up on the possibility of defeating it because an internal problem that is part of us can never truly be defeated.

And that defeatism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When we treat the War on Terror like the War on Drugs or the War on Poverty, then we accept the impossibility of winning. Instead we adapt to a European mindset of managing the fallout from the latest batch of attacks. Terrorism becomes no different than crime; a threat we try to live through without hope of ever seeing it end. And that way lies a police state and numberless terror attacks for it to police.

Declarations of war are important because they remind us that we have an external enemy. Internal enemies may be a part of us, but external enemies are not. We can defeat them without defeating ourselves. We are not doomed to fight an endless struggle with Islam unless we make it a part of us.
Daniel Greenfield is a New York City based writer and blogger and a Shillman Journalism Fellow of the David Horowitz Freedom Center.