MENA WATCH: Bennett’s first formal meeting with Sissi fell flat in terms of substance

Sep 15, 2021 DEBKA FILES ISRAEL Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had hoped to come out of his first meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh el-Sissi at Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday, Sept 13.9, with three gains. The atmosphere was friendly and the two leaders were photographed smiling and flanked prominently by their national flags.

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MENA WATCH : Secret wiretap that revealed the Turkish government’s strategy in Germany: Turkey’s Erdoğan enlisted German politicians and former bureaucrats as lobbyists in Germany

Abdullah Bozkurt/Stockholm 15.9.2021 nordic monitor

The government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recruited former German politicians and bureaucrats as lobbyists and influencers in order to advance policy goals, a secret wiretap has revealed.

 

The wiretap, obtained with a judge’s approval as part of a corruption investigation into Erdoğan’s inner circle, provides clues to the Islamist government’s strategy and how it tried to hide its operations in Germany as disclosed by İlker Aycı, chairman of national flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY).

Aycı, the then-president of the Investment Support and Promotion Agency of Turkey (ISPAT) who worked closely with the government, was talking to President Erdoğan’s brother Mustafa Erdoğan about finding a government position for Volkan Ardor, a German national of Turkish origin and  a relative of the Turkish president.

Aycı explained that the Erdoğan government had adopted a tactic of hiring native Germans to promote the Turkish agenda in Germany because of what he described as bias against Turks in the German government. He said the Turkish government agency ISPAT, renamed the Presidency’s Investment Office in 2018, carries out its operations on German soil through prominent German figures such as a former Hamburg mayor and a former head of government of the same state for public relations purposes and polishing the image of the Turkish government.

Even Joschka Fischer, the foreign minister and vice chancellor in Gerhard Schroeder’s cabinet from 1998 to 2005, was working for the Turkish government, he added.

Secret wiretap that revealed the Turkish government’s strategy in Germany: 

Noting that President Erdoğan’s relative may not blend in well with German politicians and former bureaucrats who lobby on behalf of the Turkish government because he’s a Turk, Aycı expressed concerns about brining him into the mix. He claimed Turkey had enlisted politicians from the Green Party and the Christian Democratic Union and added that putting Ardor on a team of high-profile Germans would create problems in Germany.

Instead Aycı offered a position for Erdoğan’s relative at THY or the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) without attracting any attention from either the Germans or the Turkish opposition, which was raising concerns of nepotism in the Erdoğan government at the time. He also expressed concern that the German government might identify Ardor as a person who is close to Erdoğan’s family by virtue of their blood relation.

Other wiretap records show that Aycı personally met with Volkan while he was in Germany and that Volkan was apparently in consultation with President Erdoğan, then the prime minister, about his job placement. In an email he sent to Aycı, Volkan wrote: “I want to work at the agency [ISPAT] and have already talked with beyefendi [referring to Erdoğan]. My uncle [again referring to Erdoğan] told me to work, and so please give me a job as soon as possible.”

The Erdoğan government has used similar tactics in the US, where it paid more than $30.5 million to influence US policy or public opinion on behalf of Turkish interests during the Trump administration, according to a report in July 2021 by the independent NGO Open Secrets. Among those enlisted as lobbyists by Turkey was Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s former personal attorney and former New York City mayor.

 

Turkey also signed a contract with a lobbying firm Ballard Partners, whose president, Brian Ballard, was vice chair of Donald Trump’s inaugural committee and was a member of his transition team. Another lobbyist, Mercury Public Affairs, which had deep ties to Trump, also signed a contract with the Erdoğan government.

Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser who was forced to resign soon after the 2017 inauguration, also had ties to Turkey and got into trouble over them.

Ali İhsan Arslan, a close confidant of the Turkish president and a deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), hired a former senior adviser to the Trump campaign, lobbyist Barry Bennett.

Many of the lobbyists who were recruited by the Erdoğan government in the US have faced investigation by the federal government on alleged violations of the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).

Aycı was a suspect in major corruption investigation that was pursued by prosecutors in Istanbul. He was identified as a key operative who facilitated the investments and private businesses of one-time al-Qaeda financier Yasin al-Qadi, with whom Aycı had been in frequent contact.

Aycı was involved in setting up the ruling AKP’s İstanbul office and  was also a consultant to Erdoğan during the latter’s term as mayor of İstanbul between 1994 and 1998. Al-Qadi is an Egyptian-born Saudi national who was at one time flagged by the US Treasury and the UN al-Qaeda sanction committee.

Al-Qadi, Aycı and Erdoğan’s son Bilal were leading suspects in the investigation and were the subjects of detention warrants issued on December 25, 2013 by the prosecutors. However, Erdoğan stepped in, illegally preventing the execution of the warrants by ordering the police to ignore the prosecutor’s orders. After the removal of the prosecutors and police chiefs who were involved in the investigation, Erdoğan managed to whitewash the crimes of his associates.

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MENA WATCH : UN report adds to claims that Turkish-backed militias are committing war crimes in Syria

15.9.2021 ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A new report issued on Tuesday by the United Nations’ Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria suggests that Turkish-backed groups in the embattled Middle Eastern nation have “committed torture, cruel treatment and outrages upon personal dignity, including rape and other forms of sexual violence, which constitute war crimes.”

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MENA WATCH :Rebuilding the Syrian Military: Significance for Israel

After a decade of a bloody civil war, the process of rebuilding the Syrian military – which still faces pockets of rebels in various locations in the country – has begun. Russia and Iran are struggling for influence in this reconstruction process, and Syria’s military will presumably remain dependent on them in the coming years. As this has direct implications for Israel, how might Jerusalem address this situation?

 Anat Ben Haim INSS Insight No. 1519, September 15, 2021 ISRAEL

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MENA WATCH : THE ABRAHAM ACCORDS ONE YEAR LATER / THE SOUFAN CENTER

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

 

  • The Biden administration is downplaying, but not abandoning, the “Abraham Accords,” and seeks to revive the traditional U.S. effort to resolve the Israel-Palestinian dispute.
  • The Biden administration’s nuclear diplomacy with Iran undermines the Trump administration’s strategic rationale for brokering the Abraham Accords.
  • The Biden administration is implementing its predecessor’s separate incentives provided to Arab states that signed onto the Abraham Accords.
  • The Biden administration’s tepid embrace of the Abraham Accords makes it unlikely that other Arab states will join the pact in the foreseeable future.
At the White House on September 15, 2020, the United States, Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain signed the “Abraham Accords”, a joint statement pledging the normalization of relations between the signing parties. The Accords grew out of the August 2020 announcement that the UAE and Israel had agreed to establish formal diplomatic relations, the first public normalization of relations between an Arab country and Israel since the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty. In the weeks following the 2020 White House signing, two other Arab states—Morocco and Sudan—agreed to join the Accords and take similar steps to develop formal ties with Israel. The Accords followed a decade-long process of increasingly close but informal security and cultural ties between Israel and several Arab states fostered to contain Iran and combat regional extremist groups.

The Trump administration brokered the normalization agreements, at least in part, to further its “maximum pressure” strategy to contain Iran. According to Trump administration officials, drawing Israel and the Gulf states into a closer and open relationship would isolate Iran and help roll back its regional influence. The Accords also reflected the Trump administration’s decision to end the longstanding U.S. role as an honest broker of an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement, instead cutting off Palestinian assistance and backing the Israeli government’s opposition to a “two-state solution.” The UAE and Bahrain governments were criticized by some of their citizens, as well as by other Arab states, for deviating from an Arab consensus that peace with Israel should follow, not precede, a negotiated Israeli-Palestinian settlement. The Trump administration’s strategic rationale for the Abraham Accords does not comport with Biden administration’s regional strategy. The Biden administration has stressed the need for an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement, and has engaged in diplomacy with Iran on a mutual return to full compliance with the 2015 multilateral Iran nuclear deal—an agreement the Trump administration exited in favor of its maximum pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic.

Yet, in order to express continued support for Israel and pro-U.S. Arab states in the Gulf and elsewhere, the Biden administration has upheld the Abraham Accords and incentives that the Trump administration used to induce the Arab parties to sign the pact. According to Biden administration diplomats, “We welcome and support the normalization agreements between Israel and countries in the Arab and Muslim world. The United States will continue to encourage other countries to normalize relations with Israel, and we will look for other opportunities to expand cooperation among countries in the region.” The Biden administration has proceeded with the sale of the sophisticated F-35 stealth fighter aircraft to the UAE—a sale reportedly promised by the Trump Administration as an inducement for the UAE to announce normalization with Israel. The Biden administration has not reversed its predecessor’s incentive for Morocco’s participation—the recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara.

Additionally, in March 2021, the Biden administration certified to the U.S. Congress that it had restored Sudan’s sovereign immunities pursuant to the Sudan Claims Resolution Act enacted in December 2020. That legislation paved the way for Sudan to settle claims from U.S. victims of acts of terrorism that were allegedly linked, to some extent, to Sudan, including: the 1998 bombings at the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya; the 2000 attack on the USS Cole; and the murder of a USAID employee in Khartoum. The claims settlement was a condition of the Trump administration’s removal of Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, which was in turn an incentive provided to Sudan to join the Abraham Accords. Bahrain did not request or receive any specific benefits for joining the Accords, but it remains a close U.S. ally, particularly with respect to hosting U.S. naval operations in the Gulf.

The Biden administration’s acceptance, but not warm embrace, of the Abraham Accords virtually guarantees that no other Arab state will join the Accords in the foreseeable future. The Administration appears unwilling to offer any specific incentives to other states that reportedly have considered joining the pact, including the Sultanate of Oman. Qatar and Kuwait have rejected joining the Accords unless there is clear progress toward a negotiated Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement. Saudi Arabia was the author of the 2002 Arab peace initiative that called on the Arab world to normalize relations with Israel only if a “just settlement” between Israel and the Palestinians is reached, a position from which they cannot they cannot easily deviate. The Saudi government faces far stronger domestic opposition than do the leaders of the smaller Gulf states, constraining the ability of Saudi leadership to act contrary to the Kingdom’s long-established policies. And, since the Accords were signed in 2020, the May 2021 conflict between Israel and Hamas returned the Palestinian issue to the forefront of Arab discussion and bolstered the popularity of Hamas in the Arab world significantly. The conflict placed the Arab parties to the Accords on the defensive and increased the risk of backlash to any Arab leader who might consider a separate peace agreement with Israel. The strategic effect and legacy of the Abraham Accords is likely to remain minimal, at least throughout the Biden administration, though its preservation is a signal of the enduring U.S.-Israel partnership.

MENA NEWS : Iran argues that it is sending fuel to Hezbollah in Lebanon and in doing so will force the US to relax sanctions on Syria and enable Chinese investment in Beirut.

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN   SEPTEMBER 7, 2021

Iran is trying to position itself as a fuel supplier to Lebanon to empower its Lebanese proxy. The goal is to force Lebanon to become dependent on Iran and then all the gas and fuel going to Lebanon will come through Hezbollah, so Hezbollah can provide it to allies and friends.

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MENA WATCH NEW: A VICTORY FOR BASHAR AL ASSAD – Lebanese energy plan includes Syria

A meeting of Jordanian, Egyptian, Lebanese and Syrian ministers seems to have cracked Syria’s isolation.

 

Osama Al Sharif – AL MONITOR – September 10, 2021 – Four Arab countries have agreed on a road map to supply Egyptian natural gas to Lebanon through Jordan and Syria during a ministerial meeting in Amman on Sept. 8. They also approved a plan to supply Jordanian electricity at a later stage to energy-starved Lebanon through Syrian territory.

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MENA WATCH :  A SMART MOSSAD DEBATE ON IRAN

raz zimmt Retweeted   Jason Brodsky

9.9.2021

The Young Journalists’ Club (YJC), citing an “informed source,” says today that the request by the head of the International Atomic Agency (IAEA) to visit #Iran “is in suspension mode.”

The Visit Of IAEA Chief ‘In Suspension Mode’, Iran Website says

A website close to Iran’s national security leadership has said that the request by the head of the International Atomic Agency (IAEA) to visit Iran “is in suspension mode”.

iranintl.com

 

raz zimmt Retweeted

Mikhail Ulyanov

@Amb_Ulyanov

31m

I believe the Governors at the session of the Board can and should call upon #Iran and the #IAEA Secretariat to overcome the current problems and to maintain traditional businesslike cooperation which was affected primarily due to some external factors. No action is needed.

Barak Ravid

Sep 8

Replying to @Amb_Ulyanov

Ambassador, what do you think the BoG should do in light of the worrying reports by the DG about Iran’s safeguards violations and non cooperation with the IAEA?

 

More via www.mesop.de

MENA WATCH NEWS : Israel receives fourth and final Sa’ar 6 warship from Germany

By Seth Frantzman  Sep 7, 06:35 PM

Two of Israel’s new Sa’ar 6 warships are shown. (Courtesy of the Israel Defense Forces)

JERUSALEM — Israel has received its fourth and final Sa’ar 6 warship as the country implements a new naval doctrine aimed at bolstering defensive capabilities in its exclusive economic zone.

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MENA WATCH NEWS : BACK TO SADDAM HUSSEIN; TALIBAN & GHADAFI

Iraqi Intellectual Hassan Al-‘Alawi: Saddam Hussein Was An Honest, Decent, Patriotic Dictator Who Loved The Poor; He Was Hanged, But The Traitors Who Rule Iraq Are the Ones Who Deserve To Be Hanged – MEMRI TV CLIP 7.9.2021

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