Tag Archives: European Union

Al-Qaeda Affiliate Attacks French Patrol in Mali

On Sunday, July 1st, fighters for al-Qaeda’s North Africa affiliate, Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) conducted an attack on French soldiers patrolling in the northern city of Gao in Mali. The patrol came under attack when a suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden truck into the soldiers. Two civilians were killed and over 30 wounded. The wounded included at least four French soldiers and an unspecified number of Malian soldiers and civilians.

This latest attack came days after a JNIM attack on a G5 joint base in Savare in the Mopti region of central Mali. In that attack, the group led with a suicide bombing at the gate, then followed with gunmen who fired at the guards. Three soldiers were killed with an unidentified number wounded.

These attacks are the latest examples of Mali’s deteriorating security situation. JNIM regularly conducts attacks on Malian and international forces, occasionally disguising suicide vehicles with improvised UN markings. JNIM is emboldened by the ineffectiveness of government security forces. Sunday’s attack marks the 135th JNIM attack in Mali this year.

Numerous reports implicate the Malian government in targeting ethnic groups whose members have ties to terrorism. Many reports reveal widespread abuse and mass killings by the government in what they deem counterterrorism operations.

After each of the attacks on international forces, JNIM claimed it was sending a message to France and its allies by demonstrating the power of JNIM and the group’s intent to expel foreigners from the “land of Islam.”

Beginning in 2013, the French began an operation to repel Islamists and prevent them from building a stronghold in Mali. Among NATO allies, the French military maintains the largest presence. The U.S. supports the French, though not with combat troops. Instead, the U.S. military provides intelligence and occasional air strikes from two drone bases in neighboring Niger. The U.S. is also near completion of a third base that will be capable of supporting drones and cargo planes.

Like counterterrorism efforts in other parts of the region, international forces are attempting to build stable governments and train military forces to oppose the spread of violent jihadists. This strategy necessitates a reliance on local governments, a process often restricted by internal divisions and corruption.

Mali’s political dynamics are complex; there are high levels of corruption within the government that strain the relationship between officials and the local population. Additionally, there is often violent conflict between two key tribal groups: the Fulani and the Tuareg. Amidst these divisions, terror groups have increased their presence and expanded their ranks, exploiting the government’s weakness and inability to provide essential social services.

The European Union recently announced a $12.5 billion peace fund deal that provides funding for European countries that have ongoing military operations in Africa. Most of the funds will be split among training missions in Mali and Somalia. The EU’s goal is to improve cooperation among international forces supporting the Malian government and boost the effectiveness of their training by supplying local militaries with newer weapons and tactical equipment.

The recent spate of deadly terror attacks indicates the urgent need for stable governance and security in Mali. Despite extensive international support of these goals, the government has been unable to achieve measureable improvement. Continued government failures risk further destabilizing the region and enabling terror groups like JNIM and the Islamic State to continue operating in Mali and further expand their strongholds in Africa.

Turkish Military Blocks Off Italian Drill Ship in Mediterranean

On February 11th, Cyprus accused the Turkish military of blocking a drill ship exploring for natural gas. The Cypriot-flagged ship was contracted by an Italian oil company, Eni.

A spokesman from Eni said the Saipem 12000 drill ship was heading from an area southwest of Cyprus to an area that was southeast of Cyprus when it was stopped by 6 Turkish military ships and told that it could not proceed any further. The Saipem 12000 was 15 miles away from its target when it was stopped. A spokesman from the Italian foreign ministry confirmed that the Turkish ships did not allow the Saipem to go towards its destination.

Turkey claims certain areas off Cyprus’s maritime zone fall under Turkish jurisdiction, or that of Turkish occupied Northern Cyprus. This zone is known as Block 3 and Turkey claims it as their exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The Greek Cypriots also claim this area as part of their EEZ. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said Turkey violated international law by blocking the ship.

Turkey issued a navigation telex to reserve an area for military exercises. The area reserved covers the 6th-9th blocks that Cyprus declared as their EEZ. The declaration by Turkey came when the Saipem 12000 arrived in the Mediterranean.

No country other than Turkey recognizes Northern Cyprus as an independent country. Turkish Cypriots run the breakaway state and say that resources around the island belong to them, while Greek Cypriots run Cyprus’s internationally recognized government in southern Cyprus. The United Nations General assembly has repeatedly passed resolutions declaring the independence of Turkey’s northern Cyprus is legally invalid.

Turkey’s minister of foreign affairs said February 11th that exploration of Block 3 was a unilateral move by Greek Cypriots which violated the sovereign rights of Turkish Cypriots on the ethnically divided island.

Greece’s Foreign Ministry said that this is a “blatant violation” by Turkey in regards to international law of Cyprus’s sovereign rights. The European Union (EU) has told Turkey to respect the territories of its member states. In 2004, Cyprus joined the EU but only the south enjoys full benefits.

EU council President Donald Tusk called on Turkey to “avoid threats or actions” and to settle the issue peacefully.

The Saipem 12000 was not the only ship that the Turkish military prevented form approaching the area according to a Cyprus government spokesman, although no details were provided.

This is the first time that Turkey has taken such steps to prevent drilling from occurring in the area. Turkey is showing off their military might and want to be taken seriously throughout the region while seeking to promote its influence in regards to the East Med natural gas pipeline project.

East Med pipeline project is facilitated by Israel, Greece, Italy, and Cyprus. The pipeline is expected to be 2000 km long running from the Levantine Basin in the far east corner of the Mediterranean, through Greece and Italy. It is expected to cost approximately 6 billion euros. On December 5th of 2017 Israel, Cyprus, Italy, and Greece signed a memorandum of understanding for the pipeline project.

The project provides the backdrop for an increased security relationship between the four countries, each of which has its own concerns with Turkish activities in the region.

Turkey’s efforts to assert influence in the Mediterranean comes as part of its response to recent advancements of the East Med pipeline project. The next advancement for the East Med pipeline project will be the signing of an intergovernmental agreement between the four countries in the spring of 2018 in Crete.

Anti-Terror Raids in France

French and Swiss police anti-terror raids in the greater Paris region of Île-de-France and the Provence Alpes-Côtes-d’Azur region of the south east on November 7th resulted in nine people arrested in France  and one in Switzerland, on charges of suspected participation in a terrorist plot and communication with either Islamic State or al-Qaeda.

The suspects are reported to be between the ages of 18 and 65, with two of them siblings, however, none of the identities of the individuals were released.  Of the individuals, several reportedly converted to Islam and one had previously been placed on a watchlist.

The raid was carried out by the police of the Antiterrorist Sub-Directorate (SDAT), the Interregional Direction of the Judicial Police of Marseilles and the General Directorate of Internal Security (DGSI).

Earlier in July, French police were focused on suspicious activity  by a person in Switzerland using a Telegram network. The chief suspect, a 28-year-old Swiss Imam, was allegedly communicating with individuals in France, including with a 14-year-old boy who was “about to carry out the attack.”

The boy was arrested on June 20th and charged by an anti-terror judge, while the Swiss Imam was arrested in Switzerland during the terror raid on November 7th.

The city of Nice appeared to be the location of the planned attack, however, their plot was not fully developed according to a French official.

Nice was the site of the 2016 Bastille Day terror attack, when Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel plowed a 20-ton truck into a crowd during the celebration. The attack killed 87 and injured around 300 individuals. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.

Searches are still underway for more individuals in the Paris suburbs and in southeastern France bordering Switzerland and Italy.

After the 2015 terror Bataclan attack in Paris killed 130 people and wounded hundreds, France declared an immediate state of emergency. From the 2015 Paris attack to today, a total of 278 people have been killed in terrorist incidents in France.

Due to the increased terror threat,  the French parliament on October 3rd approved an  anti-terrorism bill, which ended the state of emergency imposed in 2015 but made many of the anti-terror policing powers from the state of emergency permanent.

Of these provisions include that authorities can search property without a warrant, put terrorist suspects under house arrest and shut down places of worship linked to terrorism. The new legislation has very limited judicial oversight so that the Interior Ministry can carry out these provisions without approval from a judge.

Since 2015, more than a million migrants and refugees have come from the Middle East and North Africa seeking refuge in Europe. Data shows that across Western Europe there has been a sharp increase  in terror attacks from 2 attacks occurring in 2014 to 30 attacks in 2016. These attacks can be attributed toEurope’s large and poorly integrated Muslim population, proximity to unstable regions like the Middle East and North Africa, and the weak border security of the EU. The French government by enabling the anti-terrorism bill, will help mitigate some of these attacks, however, there also needs to be more focus on the prevention of the spread of jihad at a local level.

With the amount of terror attacks occurring in Europe, it is clear that the EU needs to tighten the grip on counter terrorism and immigration policy due to the increased terror threat in the recent years. France has begun to do this, although the severity of the counterterrorism measures, seen through the passage of the anti-terrorism act, is a reflection of the dire situation French security forces currently face.

Anti-Terror Raids in France

French and Swiss police anti-terror raids in the greater Paris region of Île-de-France and the Provence Alpes-Côtes-d’Azur region of the south east on November 7th resulted in nine people arrested in France  and one in Switzerland, on charges of suspected participation in a terrorist plot and communication with either Islamic State or al-Qaeda.

The suspects are reported to be between the ages of 18 and 65, with two of them siblings, however, none of the identities of the individuals were released.  Of the individuals, several reportedly converted to Islam and one had previously been placed on a watchlist.

The raid was carried out by the police of the Antiterrorist Sub-Directorate (SDAT), the Interregional Direction of the Judicial Police of Marseilles and the General Directorate of Internal Security (DGSI).

Earlier in July, French police were focused on suspicious activity  by a person in Switzerland using a Telegram network. The chief suspect, a 28-year-old Swiss Imam, was allegedly communicating with individuals in France, including with a 14-year-old boy who was “about to carry out the attack.”

The boy was arrested on June 20th and charged by an anti-terror judge, while the Swiss Imam was arrested in Switzerland during the terror raid on November 7th.

The city of Nice appeared to be the location of the planned attack, however, their plot was not fully developed according to a French official.

Nice was the site of the 2016 Bastille Day terror attack, when Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel plowed a 20-ton truck into a crowd during the celebration. The attack killed 87 and injured around 300 individuals. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.

Searches are still underway for more individuals in the Paris suburbs and in southeastern France bordering Switzerland and Italy.

After the 2015 terror Bataclan attack in Paris killed 130 people and wounded hundreds, France declared an immediate state of emergency. From the 2015 Paris attack to today, a total of 278 people have been killed in terrorist incidents in France.

Due to the increased terror threat,  the French parliament on October 3rd approved an  anti-terrorism bill, which ended the state of emergency imposed in 2015 but made many of the anti-terror policing powers from the state of emergency permanent.

Of these provisions include that authorities can search property without a warrant, put terrorist suspects under house arrest and shut down places of worship linked to terrorism. The new legislation has very limited judicial oversight so that the Interior Ministry can carry out these provisions without approval from a judge.

Since 2015, more than a million migrants and refugees have come from the Middle East and North Africa seeking refuge in Europe. Data shows that across Western Europe there has been a sharp increase  in terror attacks from 2 attacks occurring in 2014 to 30 attacks in 2016. These attacks can be attributed toEurope’s large and poorly integrated Muslim population, proximity to unstable regions like the Middle East and North Africa, and the weak border security of the EU. The French government by enabling the anti-terrorism bill, will help mitigate some of these attacks, however, there also needs to be more focus on the prevention of the spread of jihad at a local level.

With the amount of terror attacks occurring in Europe, it is clear that the EU needs to tighten the grip on counter terrorism and immigration policy due to the increased terror threat in the recent years. France has begun to do this, although the severity of the counterterrorism measures, seen through the passage of the anti-terrorism act, is a reflection of the dire situation French security forces currently face.

Trump’s Nontraditional UN Address and his Stance Against Rogue Regimes

Leaders from around the globe assembled on September 19th for the United Nation’s General Assembly. President Donald Trump presented early in the day, offering a speech that rapidly diverged from traditional U.N. talking points.

Trump began by acknowledging the need for the nations of the world to come together peacefully to work towards common goals, before pivoting to emphasis the importance of upholding American sovereignty and encouraging other nations to do likewise. Trump also emphasized the need for reforming the institutional practices of the UN, directly and aggressively addressed rogue regimes including North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba.

Minutes before Trump’s speech UN Secretary General Antionio Guterres appealed for statesmanship stating, “we must not sleepwalk our way into war.”

President Trump focused a substantial amount of time discussing North Korea, warning that the entire world is threatened by their continued nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development. He said, “If it [the US] forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

He then called out North Korea’s trading partners, stating that no decent nation should be trading with North Korea.

North Korea under Kim Jong Un has metastasized into a serious global threat. After their sixth nuclear test on September 3rd, triggering a 6.3 magnitude earthquake, this nuclear  test was the most powerful weapon Pyongyang has ever tested. North Korea has conducted 15 other long and short range missile tests this year, despite UN sanctions.

After condemning North Korea, President Trump pivoted toward addressing Iran stating that it is a “destabilizing influence” for the Middle East. He stated that the nuclear deal was an embarrassment to the United States and one of the worst nonproliferation agreements that the United States has been involved in. Trump directly addressed Iran’s role as a state sponsor of terrorism, and said the nuclear deal should be abandoned by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, Germany and the European Union.

As Trump addressed Iran his focus was on the nuclear deal. The deal  requires the State Department to certify to Congress every 90 days that Iran is still complying with the agreement under the terms ironed out by the Obama administration in 2015. However, one of Trump’s campaign promises was to end the nuclear agreement. Here he faces opposing pressures from both this loyal support base who want to see the deal decertified and his advisors such as his national security advisor General H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who appear to oppose decertification.

Trump is still weighing his next moves toward Iran, and faces a mid-October deadline for re-certifying Iran’s compliance with the agreement.

Towards the end of his speech President Trump called out both Cuba and Venezuela, speaking out against the harsh socialist regimes. The Trump administration has not lifted sanctions on the Cuban government, and Trump said they will not do so until Cuba makes fundamental reforms,  although he did not say exactly what reforms would be required.

Cuba made for a nice transition into discussing the economic crisis occurring in Venezuela.  President Trump called out the socialist Maduro regime, for causing Venezuela’s economic collapse, and accused the Venezuelan government of allowing a once prosperous nation to suffer. He also thanked the other world leaders for providing support to Venezuela as well as saying the U.S. will take further action if the government continues on this path.

In Venezuela, a study published earlier this year reported that roughly 75% of Venezuelans lost an average of 19 pounds due to food shortages. On July16th the results of a popular consultation     certified the illegitimacy of the government of Nicolas Maduro, and the opposition continued with popular demonstrations against the regime. As the demonstrations from the opposition persist, the international community must impose harsher economic sanction to pressure the regime, similar to Cuba, rather than take military action. Since April more than 5,000  individuals have been detained by the government, and as of July 31st 124 deaths were linked to the demonstrations.

President Trump has said the America possess a military option to prevent a destabilized Venezuela, although its unclear what such an operation would look like. Any military option is opposed by the Colombian and Brazilian governments, who the U.S. have maintained close military cooperation.

Some areas which President Trump declined to address were the situation in Myanmar, his efforts towards reestablishing an Israeli-Palestinian peace process, or the American withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord. However, President Trump will be having several individual meetings during the rest of the week with several national leaders, where these issues are sure to come up.

Trump’s speech appears to have played well to his political base, and less so to fellow United Nations General Assembly attendees.

The President of the United Nations General Assembly, Miroslav Lajčák, after President Trump’s speech said that that many people have become disillusioned with the U.N. in a world grappling with conflict, poverty, terrorism and global warming, but acknowledged the U.N.’s potential to help.  He also stated that U.N. needs to put more emphasis on warding off conflicts, rather than reacting to them.

French President Macron defended the Iran Deal, saying there was no alternative, while British Prime Minister Theresa May called the deal “vitally important.”  These nations along with the EU and UN has urged the U.S. to not scrap the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which eased international sanctions in exchange for curbs on Tehran’s nuclear weapons program.

With his first United Nations address under his belt, President Trump called out the major players in conflict and emphasized that the United States and the members of the United Nations should not tolerate the security, economic, and humanitarian violations that rogue governments impose on the world today.  Trump also seemed to clarify that while the world looks to the United States for direction on addressing international security concerns, his first responsibility was to American interests and security.

Denmark Applies Blasphemy Law for the First Time in 46 Years

An unidentified Danish man has been charged with blasphemy over a year after he burned a copy of the Quran in his backyard and posted a video of the act in the anti-Islamic Facebook group, “YES TO FREEDOM – NO TO ISLAM” on December 27th of 2015. Denmark’s blasphemy law makes it illegal to “mock legal religions and faiths in Denmark,” according to ICE News. This law seeks to give redress to those who feel that their religion has been insulted. If he is convicted when the case comes before the court in June, the defendant will likely face a hefty fine.

This is only the fourth time anyone has been charged with blasphemy since the law was passed in 1866. Of the three previous cases there have only been two convictions. In the first case, four people were sentenced to jail in 1938 for putting up anti-Semitic posters and distributing anti-Semitic leaflets. In 1946, two people were fined for dressing up like priests and acting out a mock baptism with a doll at a masked ball. Finally, in 1971, two Danish Radio producers aired a song mocking Christianity. These producers were eventually acquitted.

In most Western countries, blasphemy laws have either been repealed or are dead letter law. While Denmark’s blasphemy law is technically still in place it had not been previously applied since 1971 and was, until recently, viewed as inoperable.

In addition to the three previous cases where individuals were all prosecuted for blasphemy, prosecutors in 2005 halted an investigation into Jyllands-Posten, a Danish daily newspaper, after there was widespread protest following the publication of an article titled “The Face of Muhammed” containing 12 cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed allegedly considered offensive.

While most recall the cartoon controversy few realize that, much like the most recent Quran burning controversy, the cartoons had engendered minimal response from the Danish Muslim community until three Danish Muslim leaders undertook a campaign of unsubstantiated accusations intended to rile up anti-Danish sentiment throughout the Muslim world. The resulting riots killed several hundred people.

In response to violent Islamic reactions to ridicule, the EU mandated religious hate-speech laws in 2008, shifting from the previously used blasphemy laws. According to an official European commission, the measure was meant to “’preserve social peace and public order’ in light of the ‘increasing sensitivities’ of ‘certain individuals’ who ‘have reacted violently to criticism of their religion.’”

Yet, according to Nina Shea, “These hate-speech laws have failed in both aims.” She writes for the National Review, “Islamist extremism continues to grow in Europe, while speech critical of Islam is undertaken at ever greater personal risk, including risk of criminal prosecution. Some are so intimidated that they remain silent even when it is their duty to speak up.”

Initially, the defendant was charged with hate speech. The indictment was only later changed to blasphemy. There is one significant difference between hate speech and the Danish blasphemy law. The defendant did not directly insult Muslims as a people, as a hate speech indictment would require. Instead, he publicly insulted the core Muslim belief in the sanctity of the Quran.

In the past, the blasphemy law has been applied in cases where there was a violent response to the public blaspheming of a specific faith, a questionable policy in itself.  But, in this most recent case, the video that the defendant posted has not received widespread public recognition or outrage. The original post is still up on the Facebook group, “JA TIL FRIHED – NEJ TIL ISLAM,” – “YES TO FREEDOM – NO TO ISLAM” – and yet it only has 420 shares, 78 comments, and approximately 200 likes in a public Facebook group with 2,240 members.

This video never went viral, it was never responded to with public outrage, and the unnamed defendant has not reported receiving any threats of death or violence. So, why did the Danish authorities decide to prosecute this particular case?

This case is not about religion. Denmark is one of the least religious countries in the world. While Denmark does have a state church, religious belief and observance is low. Less than one third of all Danes claim to believe in God and only about 2% even attend church each Sunday. And yet, according to a recent survey conducted by CEPOS, a Danish think tank, 66% of Danish voters support the country’s blasphemy law, leaving only one third of Danes seeking the law’s repeal.

Instead, this case is about fear. European officials have become increasingly afraid of the growing Muslim population. With already tense relationships between the immigrant Muslim and native Danish populations, Danish authorities are afraid of the societal impact of a Quran burning. They fear that this event could spark terrorist attacks in Denmark.

In response to these threats incited by offensive images or speech, Europe has typically taken one of two options: they can either end Muslim extremism within their borders, or, they can curb any insulting rhetoric or actions by Europeans. As a general rule, Europe has responded to the threat of violence by taking the latter, passive approach, even curbing serious critique of Islam. In the European mind, charging the Quran burner both curbs ridicule and appeases the growing Muslim population within Danish borders. Unfortunately, this response does not guarantee any long-term solutions.

However, this is a fear of one specific group, not a fear of a response to the burning of holy books in general. There have been two significant examples of public Bible burnings in the last forty years, both of which received public attention and neither of which resulted in a prosecution.

In 1977, the Danish evening news showed a Danish artist burning a copy of the Bible while speaking about his upcoming art exhibition. The prosecutor started blasphemy charges but dropped the case three months later because the artist claimed that it was simply a symbolic act to spark debate about Christianity. Later, in 2006, a Norwegian comedian also burned a Bible in a Christian-dominated town. He was asked to repeat the actions but with a Quran instead of a Bible. He refused, saying that he wanted to live longer than another week.

It seems that the driving force behind the renewed application of this dead letter law is fear, not the protection of free speech or religion. While many Europeans claim to support freedom of speech, they really only support speech that they already agree with. Europeans are eager to have their governments shut down anyone they do not agree with and firmly believe that there is no right to religious insult.

A PEW Research Center poll in 2015 found that 49% of Europeans support censorship of speech that offends minorities. This is likely, in light of rampant accusation of “Islamaphobia” in European countries, because they believe that banning offensive speech will protect them from those who the speech could offended. Unfortunately, censorship provides no long-term protection from those who it may offend.

The root of this law is a fear of the potential consequences insulting speech. In order to avoid the dangerous consequences of free speech, such as the attack on Charlie Hebdo in January of 2015, Denmark would rather preemptively prosecute a Quran burner than risk the consequences from an increasing Muslim population inside European borders.

Unfortunately, simply appeasing the Muslim population will not protect European society from violence or retaliation in response to “offensive” comments. Denmark, and the rest of Europe, has yet to set a clear bright line as to what is or is not blasphemy. Instead, the threat of violence or retaliation has become the determining factor in if the individuals involved will be prosecuted.

This continues to erode the definition of freedom of speech and expression and makes hate speech and blasphemy laws a moving target for Danes specifically and all Europeans generally. There is no clear standard as to if or when they will be prosecuted. This makes self-censorship the safest option for European citizens, likely the intended outcome.

End The Illegal EU Settlements!

On May 25, a new report on the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians will be presented to the United Nations (UN). This report, produced by the Middle East Quartet — a group consisting of representatives from the United States, the European Union (EU), Russian, and the UN — claims that it will focus on both what it feels is to blame for the current stagnation in the peace process, as well as what can be done to facilitate its resumption.

Piggybacking off the report, France announced plans to convene an international conference on the conflict in Paris this summer. Representatives from the Middle East Quartet, the Arab League, as well as other foreign ministries will be there. However, notably missing from this conference — aimed at solving the Israeli-Palestinian crisis – will be the Israelis and Palestinians.

Unfortunately, it is likely that this report and the subsequent conference, will not discuss the persistent, illegal building going on in the region.

For years, illegal settlements have been built in Judea and Samaria, commonly referred to as the West Bank. These settlements are being built using the tax dollars of hard working European’s in opposition to international law. In addition, who is building these settlements?  The European Union.

Europe is consistently showing themselves to be a complete failure as a unbiased arbiter for peace as they undermine Jewish civil rights in the West Bank by both making up international law to suit their whims, as well as working to subvert the legally binding peace agreements, signed in their own backyard and to which the EU is a signatory.

The Oslo Peace Process — while deeply flawed and most likely an untenable pipe-dream — is still the legally binding set of agreements determining sovereign control of the West Bank under international law.

These agreements separate the West Bank into three administrative divisions: the Areas A, B and C. Area A is under full civil and security control by the Palestinian Authority (PA), Area B is under PA civil control and joint Israeli-Palestinian security control and Area C is under full Israeli control.

The EU, in violation of Israeli sovereignty is meddling in a territorial dispute by illegally building hundreds of settlements in locations designated under Israeli sovereignty under Oslo. Areas such as Adumim; a rural area surrounding the city of Maale Adumim has seen the establishment of hundreds of illegal EU buildings.

EU ministers justify their breech of international law by arguing that Area C is “part of the occupied Palestinian territory.” However, the rules of sovereignty under International law, clearly forbids a nation or group of nations from intervening in the domestic or foreign matters of another country, in a manner that would harm that country’s sovereignty.

Not only is the EU illegally build in Area C, despite Israel’s legitimate legal claim of sovereignty, it is expected that the Quartet’s report will be harshly critical of Jewish peoples sovereign right to build and live in that area.

The State of Israel holds legitimate claim of sovereignty over the West Bank. The territory, prior to 1967, was never under the accepted sovereignty of a High Contracting Party. Prior to Israel’s acquisition of the territory, the last legal sovereign with legal stewardship over the territories was that of the League of Nations Palestine Mandate, which mandated the land for the Jewish people, in recognition of their historic connection to the land.

Moreover, even if we were to take the EU’s approach and view the West Bank as “occupied territory,” International Law clearly states that the occupying power has lawful administrative authority within the occupied areas and all actors in the region are obligated to obey the laws in effect there. The EU’s violation of zoning and building laws that are in effect in the area are a gross violation of international law and Israel’s sovereign governance of the region.

The Quartets report is also expected to boost Palestinian plans to secure a UN Security Council resolution condemning the settlements and setting a timetable for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Additionally, France has stated that they will recognize unilateral Palestinian state declaration if peace talks fizzle.

Both of these actions are a material breach of the legally binding agreements signed by the Palestinians. Specifically, the Wye River Memorandum, negotiated in 1998, which holds that neither side should initiate or take step to change the internationally recognized status of the region.

The EU and other powers attending the upcoming peace summit have a long history bias against Israel and the Jews.  The UN’s obsession with Israel borders on the deranged. Just recently, France and Russia supported the downgrading of Jewish connection to Jerusalem at the UN by voting in favor of a UNESCO resolution that sought to erasing Jewish ties to Temple Mount.

We must stop relying on European peace initiatives between Israel and its neighbors. They are unable to abide by their legally binding agreements and have proven themselves incapable of being unbiased arbiters in the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Visa Waiver Program May Unravel EU-Turkey Deal

European Union (EU) leaders are now having doubts about the EU-Turkey deal’s visa waiver program, which will allow Turkish citizens to travel throughout Europe without a passport. The Telegraph reported that foreign terrorists and transnational gangs are believed ready to enter Europe once visa waiver program is finalized. The program has been met with criticism, but European states desperate to halt the flow of refugees gave in to Turkey’s demands as part of the EU-Turkey deal.

The EU-Turkey deal, which went into effect this March, was designed to stop the illegal flow of refugees from Turkey to Greece. The deal stated that refugees in Greece would be sent back to Turkey, and in return Turkey would receive visa waivers to travel Europe, potential EU membership, and 3 Billion Euro in aid from the EU. However, the EU-Turkey deal has not been as successful as initially hoped as reports indicate since March 20, 2016, 8,500 refugees have landed in Greece and only 400 sent back to Turkey.

Turkey needs to comply with 5 more EU regulations for the visa waiver program to go into affect by the end of June. The visa waiver program could allow 75 million Turkish citizens to travel throughout Europe for a 30-day period. The biggest areas that Turkey needs to address are key reformations to its anti-terrorism laws. Turkey’s anti-terror laws have largely been used to target academics, Kurdish sympathizers, and journalists opposed to President Erdogan regime. However, Erdogan has insisted the law is needed to fight the Kurds domestically and the Islamic State (IS) abroad.

Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI-6, noted that by allowing Turks to travel visa-free throughout Europe is like “leaving gasoline next to the camp fire.”  Dearlove pointed out as well that despite Turkey’ attempts at policing its borders which are very porous, IS jihadists been able to cross over from Syria to Turkey.

The European Commission has acknowledged that they have seen an increase in mobility throughout the Schengen Zone by criminals or terrorists of Turkish nationality or foreigners claiming to be from Turkey. Officials note that Turkey’s organized crime syndicates support narcotics trafficking, sex trade, firearms trafficking, and migrant smuggling. These operations may expand further into Europe if the visa waiver program is approved.

Critics of the visa waiver program fear that foreign nationals with terrorist or criminal backgrounds will claim Turkish citizenship. They will apply for the program or commit identify theft to obtain documentation allowing them to enter Europe.

The biggest hurdle for the EU may be getting past Turkey’s President Erdogan and his administration. The EU-Turkey deal has been in peril since May 5, when Erdogan removed Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu from power. Davutoglu brokered the Turkey-EU deal in Brussels and set the June deadline. Erdogan is also holding the EU hostage saying he will terminate the EU-Turkey deal, and allow refugees through if the EU backtracks on any of the deal.

Burhan Kuzu, an advisor to Erdogan, posted a message in Twitter in regards to the EU situation stating, “if they (EU) make the wrong decision, we send refugees through.” Turkey’s EU Affair’s Minister Volkan Bazkir stated to the media that Turkey’s anti-terror laws already meet the requirements set by the EU.

On Thursday, May 19, 2016, Reuters U.K. reported that the June deadline for the Turkey to comply for the visa waiver program is no longer feasible. The European parliament announced it would not work on the visa waiver program until Turkey revised its anti-terror laws.

The EU backed itself into a corner by making this deal with Turkey and now the potential ramifications of this deal are just starting to sink in, and the reality is the EU is now in a lose-lose situation.

Turkey Descending Further Into Political Chaos with Prime Minister Resignation

The Wall Street Journal reports that Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will step down following a dispute with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The resignation of Davutoglu is a sign of Erdogan’s bid for absolute power and also that ties between Turkey and the west are gradually diminishing.

 Davutoglu ‘s resignation came within hours of word that European Unions (EU) Executive Arm had agreed to endorsed a deal to secure visa free travel to the European bloc for Turkish citizens. The EU-Turkey deal was a measure he secured after stemming the flow of refugees coming through Turkey.

Davutoglu in a two hour meeting with Erdogan on Wednesday May 4, 2016, announced he would be stepping down from his position as the ruling head of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), but will remain on as a party legislator.  The signs of Davutoglu’s resignation may have been sealed last week when Erdogan stripped him of authority to appoint provincial AK Party members.

Davutoglu ties with Erdogan was viewed Turkey watchers as a crucial partnership. The BBC reports that the falling out between the two leaders was related to Erdogan’s decision to transform Turkey into a presidential. Turkey has been under a democratic parliamentary system of government for half a century, but Erdogan has repeatedly attempted to disband the system in order to centralize power in a strong presidential office.  Davutoglu told the media that he remains loyal to President Erdogan and that he bore no anger against anyone.

The resignation of Davutoglu is viewed as a blow to the U.S., which viewed the former Prime Minister as being more reform minded than Erdogan.  His resignation may erode relations between Ankara and Washington, D.C., which have been strained over the Turkish military campaign against the Kurds, who are viewed in Washington as the most effective force against the Islamic State. The Obama Administration has refused to comment on the situation in Turkey calling it an “internal political matter.”

European leaders are also worried over Davutoglu’s resignation, with concerns that it may implode a pending EU-Turkey deal over the return of thousands of refugees.

Erdogan will continue his campaign of cracking down on free speech and human rights as the country spirals into political chaos and violence. Erdogan has successfully stripped Kurdish members of parliament (MP) of their legislative immunity, seized control of the Gulen-linked Zaman Newspaper, and convicted journalists, teachers, and politicians on terrorism charges.

Aykan Erdemir, a senior fellow at the Foundation of Defense and Democracies describes Erdogan as having no tolerance for criticism, even from former allies. Erdogan will handpick the next prime minister and reports indicate that Transportation Minister Binali Yidirim, a very close friend to Erdogan, and Energy Minister Barat Albayrak, Erdogan’s son-in-law, are the top two candidates.

The resignation of Davutoglu signals the final culmination of Erodgan’s authoritarian efforts. As  one analyst described it, Erdogan may have finally achieved his objectives,  “head of state, head of government, head of AKP, and head of everything Turkey.”

Germany’s Head of BKA Says They Know How to Combat Terrorism

BKA Chief Holger Munch has claimed that Germany has prevented eleven terrorist attacks from occurring on the homeland since 2000. While Munch see’s the jihadist threat growing throughout Europe, he says its not luck that Germany has been spared a major terrorist attack, but rather outstanding cooperation between agencies.

The Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), is Germany’s version of the FBI and has acknowledged the threats made by the Islamic State (IS) include Germany. Munch says there are 470 people who pose a threat to public safety and the numbers have been on the rise over the past few years.

Reports have indicated that potential attacks in Germany included explosives/fire arms/suicide attacks on trains, Jewish, Israeli, American institutions, Christmas stores, visiting foreign dignitaries, and far right politicians.

Munch claims that Germany is a “transit country”, meaning that while terrorists move through Germany into Belgium, France and elsewhere, terrorists have not conducted operations from German territory. However, from 1998-2001 al-Qaeda’s “Hamburg Cell”, operated out of an apartment and were never detected by authorities.  He notes that Paris is Europe’s “terror capital.” Europol, the European Union law enforcement agency, found that 51 of all terrorist attacks in 2014 had connections to Paris, but it’s actually an improvement to 63 cases from 2013 and 125 cases in 2012.

The Joint Counter Terrorism Centre helps provide intelligence to both federal and state level law enforcement in regards to terrorism.

German law enforcement have foiled terrorist attacks but also conducted numerous anti-terror raids:

  • June 25, 2013: German police arrest two plotting to use remote controlled helicopters with explosives.
  • April 30, 2014: German’s arrest Turkish-German man planning to attack the Frankfurt May Day Cycle Race.
  • March 22, 2015: Police arrest 18-year old IS fighter at Frankfurt Airport; a 22-year old IS fighter was also arrested earlier in March at Dusseldorf Airport.
  • September 13, 2015: Authorities capture a 21-year old Moroccan posing as Syrian refugee and planning to commit a terrorist act.
  • September 22, 2015: Authorities raid mosque believed to have IS recruiters working there.
  • November 18, 2015: German police foil stadium attack.
  • January 1, 2016: Captured suspected IS “New Years’ suicide bomber.
  • February 7, 2016: German police conduct anti-terror raids of Mainz, Berlin, and Rhine-Westphalia.

Munch defended the amount of arrests law enforcement made in regards to terrorism compared to other European Union (EU) nations in 2014. France led the way with 238 arrests; Spain with 145; the United Kingdom 132; and Germany having 18. Critics’ claim that the BKA’s low arrest numbers have more to do with an unwillingness to investigate major jihadist hotspots in Berlin and Rhineland.

There are now a reported 680 Salafists in Berlin and of those about 360 are deemed dangerous by authorities, more than double reports from five years earlier.

Munch does mention the Duisburg neighborhood of Marxloh a notorious no-go zone. It has been the location of numerous reported assaults on police and German citizens.

European capitals have come under attack repeatedly, including the Madrid train bombing in 2004, the 7/7 attack in London, Paris in January and November of 2015, and most recently Brussels. Munch understands that Berlin is most likely a high target on their list.

Germany has made great strides in cracking down on jihadists entering Germany including those posing as refugees.

Germany has shown it has used good police and intelligence techniques in combating a growing terrorism problem, but with hundreds of thousands of refugees unaccounted for, and growing anti-immigrant backlash from the public, sooner or later a incident is going to erupt and Germany will find itself on the list of countries hit by the IS.