25 JUNE Arab language weekly news update By Barry Webb

EGYPT

The host of the sin’at al-mawt (Industry of Death) program on the Saudi-owned
al-arabiyya TV channel interviewed an Egyptian Counter Terrorism expert on 21 June. The Egyptian guest claimed that ISIS leader al-Baghdadi has recently urged his supporters and cells to escalate their attacks.

In this context, the Egyptian CT expert, in answer to a question as why it is taking so long for Egypt to quell the terrorist uprising in the northern Sinai, also claimed that ISIS is inserting “highly trained operatives” into the Sinai. These operatives are then supplemented and supported by the local terrorist infrastructures already in place.

COMMENT:

That answer still leaves me unsatisfied. The population of the Sinai is not that great that they could continually replace the terrorists being killed by the Egyptian military with an endless supply of new terrorists–even if ISIS is infiltrating a few “highly trained” operatives into the Sinai now and then. My guess is that pro ISIS and Muslim Brotherhood types from among Egypt’s general population are travelling to the Sinai, and then slipping away to join these active terror cells.

ALGERIA

A new development in the Arab Spring 2.0 movement taking place in Algeria is the Berber Amazigh people beginning to raise their voices anew. The Berbers, or Amazigh who speak an Hamitic language they call Tamazigh, are distantly related to the Ancient Egyptians, who also spoke an Hamitic language. The Berber, or Amazigh, people live throughout all of North Africa, in Libya, Algeria, Mali, Niger, Morocco, and Mauritania, with their largest concentration being in Algeria. And, they are the area’s original pre-Islamic inhabitants going back even before Phoenician and Carthaginian times in the 2nd millennium B.C.

Over the years since the Islamic conquests of the 7th century they have all converted to Islam and have been subsumed politically by Arab-Islamic rulers, first by the Caliphate, and more recently by the Arab dictatorships that have gained power in North Africa with the withdrawal of European Colonialism.

During the Algerian war for independence from France, the Amazigh began to dream of a governing system allowing them parity with Arabic-speaking Algerians, only to be squelched once again by Arab overlords. But now, with the Arab Spring 2.0 in full swing, and the days of the Arab military dictatorship numbered, the Amazigh are once again raising their voices not just for language parity, but for a more decentralized state allowing them more autonomy.

IRAN/AFRICA

According to the Saudi-owned al-arabiyya TV, Iran’s IRGC al-quds force is currently training “sleeper cells” in Africa in order to attack Western targets in response to the U.S. boycott. Some of the countries mentioned include Sudan, Chad, and Niger.

COMMENT: This would be in line with Iran’s current policies of:

One, to push the envelope vis-à-vis the U.S. as far as they can, to create as much confrontation as they can without causing a full-scale U.S. military attack. This is supposedly to shore up “patriotism” at home in light of the Mullah’s sagging popularity.

Two: Iran believes that it can avoid a direct attack by the U.S. by using “proxies” to do its dirty work: The Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Hashd (Shi’a militia in Iraq that lobbed missiles near the U.S. embassy in Baghdad), and now “sleeper cells” in Africa are examples of these proxies.

TURKEY

On 21 June al-arabiyya TV reported that Turkey has sent warships into the Aegean Sea “to protect” the two Oil/Gas drilling ships they have operating in waters the economic exploitation of which Cyprus claims was allotted to it by International agreement.

Egyptian media has reported that Egypt is considering boycotting Turkish goods. Popular Egyptian TV talk show host Amru Adeeb has called on Egypt and all of its Gulf allies to boycott Turkey over this and other issues.

Meanwhile, there are indications that the Trump administration may side with the planet’s number one state sponsor of terrorism. The U.S. Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt, in a 15 May 2019 speech at the 7th annual Hellenic Air Force Academy Air Power Conference, made comments that sent shivers up and down all Greek spines. This speech made the Greeks fear that the Trump administration will force Greece and Cyprus to accommodate Turkish drilling in Greek and Cypriot waters.

ANALYSIS:

Mr. Pyatt is an Obama appointee, so there is the possibility that he was exceeding his authority in this speech. However, I personally fear that siding with Turkey against the Greeks would be of a piece not only with the Trump administration’s recent behavior, but with the entire West’s behavior vis-à-vis Turkey over the last several hundred years.

It was Trump, who last December invited Turkey to invade Northern Syria so it could rape, rob, and exterminate all Kurds, Christians, and Yazidis who didn’t want to be ethnic cleansed. It was Trump who tried so hard to sell F-35s and other weaponry to the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism. So, why not let the Turks also abuse the Greeks?

The excuse, of course, is to keep Turkey in NATO, which is, of course, the exact opposite of what we should be doing. Instead of being afraid that Russia might lure Turkey out of NATO, we should be encouraging, and celebrating the Russians pulling Turkey out of NATO. Heck, we should even pay the Russians to pull Turkey out of NATO–since we don’t seem to have either the guts or the brains sufficient to push them out ourselves.

As long as Turkey is a member of NATO Russia is helpless to attack its 800-year worst enemy. A Russian dismemberment of this terrorist-supporting state would be a huge gift not only to the Greeks, but to the world as a whole. But, as long as Turkey is a member of NATO, any Russian attack against it would force the United States and the rest of NATO to come to the aid of this terror state.

There is a misguided view in Washington (on the part of both Republicans and Democrats) that Turkey’s current “rogue” behavior is entirely the fault of its current leader Erdogan, and that once Erdogan is out of the picture, Turkey will return to its “normal” self as a loyal, peace-loving, member of NATO. I hate to disillusion all the inside-the-beltway experts, but Turkey’s current behavior is its normal self. With the break-up of the Soviet Union, and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in all of the surrounding countries (as well as within Turkey itself) turkey can’t help but return to its normal self as a vile, arrogant, expansionist, jihadi state.

For example, in 1974 when the pre-Erdogan Turkey was a “good” NATO member, they invaded Greek inhabited Cyprus which wanted to re-unite with fellow NATO member Greece. The U.S. and the rest of NATO all looked the other way as Turkey raped, murdered, and ethnic cleansed its way across northern Cyprus–irrespective of the fact that the Greeks had been living there for 3,000 years, 2,000 years before the Turks left their yurts in east central Asia.

The point is that seven decades of pretending to be a “good” NATO member cannot erase the seven centuries of Islamist Jihadi expansionism exhibited by Turkey’s Ottoman empire–and the lust to return to those glory days. Furthermore, Turkey has something “going for it” other than Islamofascism, and this is an ideology of Turkish racism that makes Hitler’s Nazism look like boy scout stuff.

Yet, the West has always kowtowed to Turkey. Trump’s predecessor, Obama, openly sought to aide Turkey in reconstituting the Ottoman Empire. During the 19th century Russia tried twice to dismember the Ottoman Empire so as to give the Christians of the Middle East some breathing room, and to give Constantinople back to the Greeks–as well as to eliminate the constant threats to its own southern border. But in each case Britain and other Western powers came to the aide of the “sick man of Europe.”

In the 16th century when the Turks were raping, murdering, and ethnic cleansing their way across Catholic and Eastern Orthodox central Europe (even besieging Vienna in 1529), the protestant states of Western Europe sided with the Turks with no less a person than Martin Luther saying that “the Sultan is far preferable to the Pope.”

The result of European inaction against Turkish aggression, and pro-Turkish bias, is the checkerboard nature of the Balkans which led to the disastrous WWI (which in turn led to WWII), as well as the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

A SAUDI VIEW

Writing in the London-based, and Saudi-owned ash-sharq al-awsat newspaper, the Saudi journalist Mashari azh-Zhaayidi expressed a more optimistic view in his 24 June essay: bi-itijaah seqout mihwar turkiyya w-iiraan w-qatr (towards the fall of the Turkey, Iran, Qatar axis). In this regard he pointed to symbolic “defeats” by each of these terrorism supporting states.

Qatar’s alleged “defeat” came with the victory of General Muhammad wold
al-Qhazawaani in the Mauritanian elections to succeed the previous president Muhammad wold ‘Abd al-‘Aziz. He also pointed to the fact that a couple members of the U.S. Congress have questioned Qatar’s influence in the United States.

Iran’s alleged “defeat” comes at the hand of the U.S. embargo and other pressures being placed on the Iranian regime.

Turkey’s alleged defeat, according to azh-Zhaayidi, came with Erdogan’s AKP candidate losing the recent election for mayor of Istanbul.

ANALYSIS

We would be wise to not breakout the Champaign bottles just yet. While the Mullahs in Iran are losing popular support and are sitting on a deteriorating economy, they are still very capable of causing mayhem around the world with their support of terrorism, and the use of proxies to do their dirty work.

As for Qatar’s “defeat,” the Qatar-supported opposition in Mauritania is threatening an Arab Spring type of resistance. And, while a couple members of the U.S. Congress may have recently been made aware of Qatar’s shady influence on our media and politics, most of their colleagues in both parties actually applaud Qatar’s influence. So, don’t hold your breath over the possibility that anything might be done about it.

Finally, Erdogan’s defeat in the local Istanbul elections do not constitute a rejection of Erdogan’s aggressive foreign policy. These results do not reflect the feeling of the majority of Turks nationwide, nor do they even reflect the feelings of Istanbul voters on anything other than the deteriorating economy in Turkey. Turkey’s Islamofascism and overt racism are still intact, in Istanbul as well as in the countryside.

TURKEY’S DEAD BODY PROBLEM

For most of the past year all we’ve heard from Turkey and their al-jazeera cheerleader is how Saudi Arabia should be severely punished for having killed one of their own (Saudi) citizens (Jamal Khashoqji) on Saudi territory (the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul). Well, now, it so seems that Turkey has killed a Palestinian they had thrown into a Turkish jail in Istanbul.

The Turks claim that he was arrested for spying on behalf of the United Arab Emirates, and that he committed suicide. The story out of Istanbul is that Zaki Mubarak was found hanging from the bathroom door in his one-person cell in Silivri prison when guards arrived to give him food. The Turks said that Zaki Mubarak was a 55-year old retired major general and a “senior intelligence official.” But the dead man’s brother asked how can anyone who doesn’t speak Turkish be a spy in Turkey? The family also soundly rejected the idea that Zaki would commit suicide. This view is supported by Turkey’s refusal to let them see the autopsy report.

COMMENT: I think that Zaki Mubarak really was a spy, and here is why:

Zaki Mubarak’s family has given numerous conflicting accounts as to exactly what Zaki Mubarak did, and why he was in Turkey. His son said he had gone to Turkey to look for a job. A brother, named Zain ad-Din, said that Zaki had gone to Turkey to open up a restaurant. Zain ad-Din, on another occasion said that Zaki was a “respected lecturer.” Another family member said he had a PhD in political science, but his daughter said he told her to “study Chemistry and become a doctor like him.”

ANALYSIS:

The fact that Zaki Mubarak’s family had so many conflicting accounts of what it was that he did is a sure marker that he was in intelligence and wanted his family to be kept in ignorance of that fact . . . for their own safety.

I have pieced together the following from the family’s scattered accounts, and from other sources:

Zaki Mubarak, a resident of Gaza (where his family still lives), was an intelligence agent for the Ramallah-based Palestinian authority until 2007. In 2007 Hamas won the elections in Gaza and brutally cracked down on PA employees and supporters.

So, Zaki Mubarak (an outspoken critic of Hamas) then “escaped” to the UAE. Once in the UAE, rumors have it that he hooked up with one Muhammad Dahlan, a Palestinian who now resides in the UAE.

The Muhammad Dahlan story is a fascinating one that deserves to be summed up here. He started out as a Fatah activist in his youth. As such he was arrested by the Israelis no less than 11 times. During his multiple stays in Israeli prisons he became fluent in Hebrew, and also grew into a more “mature” world view, one that had no room for the radicalism of Hamas.

Resuming his Fatah connections, he became a security wonk and at one time had 20,000 men under his command in Gaza. In 2003, he was appointed as the Palestinian Minister of State for Security, though he was replaced the following year due to PA political infighting.

With the Hamas take-over in 2007-08, Dahlan relocated to the west bank. For the next several years, Dahlan was in and out of PA politics, and in and out of the PA security apparatus.

Throughout his early career in Fatah politics and security matters, he was the darling of the Arab media. He was young, vigorous, handsome, and articulate, in contrast to the gerontocracy that dominates Palestinian politics. Everyone saw him as the leader of the future for the Palestinians. The Bush administration, and the Europeans, applied pressure to have him appointed as the successor to PA leader Mahmoud Abbas.

That may have been too much for Abbas to handle. To make a long story short, Dahlan soon fell out of favor in PA politics. His Palestinian enemies accused him of aiding the Israeli Mossad in taking out a couple of Hamas operatives. He was expelled from Fatah in 2011 when Abbas accused him of murdering former PA leader Yasser Arafat. So, Dahlan hightailed it to the UAE where he became employed as a security and intelligence advisor.

Throughout his career he had been a vitriolic critic of Hamas, calling them nothing but a bunch of “murderers and theives.” He had also shown a willingness to work with Israelis and Americans. He is said to also be close to Egypt’s President as-Sisi, and I suspect that Dahlan may have played a key role in brining the UAE and Israel closer together (even if only under the table).

Which brings us back to Zaki Mubarak. Like Muhammad Dahlan, Zaki Mubarak was an outspoken critic of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. As a PA intelligence operative in Gaza (pre-Hamas days), he would have known Muhammad Dahlan very well, in fact probably worked for him and/or with him.

Thus, it should not be surprising that two former PA intelligence and security types, who share a hatred of Hamas, and hold the same “moderate” political views, and who both found exile in the UAE . . . I mean, it would be bizarre if they didn’t hook up in their new digs. I think it safe to say, then, that Zaki Muhammad was a spy, and that he was working for and with Muhammad Dahlan on behalf of the UAE.

Therefore, the Turkish accusation that Zaki Muhammad was in Turkey to spy on Arab Islamist radicals was probably true. Turkey is the world’s number one state sponsor of terrorism, the godfather of ISIS, and the home of thousands of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood operatives. So, if one wanted to spy on Arab radicals, Turkey is a good place to be–even if he didn’t speak Turkish.

Turkey’s ruling AKP party is a clone of the Muslim Brotherhood, so it would only be natural for them to want to arrest anyone spying on their Arab terrorist clients.

But, what is not natural is murdering captured spies while you’re holding them in prison.
Civilized countries like the U.S. and Russia (and its USSR predecessor) all hold/held captured spies for a possible later trade–because you know that sooner or later your opponent will pick up one or more of your spies. Civilized countries exchange spies. Turkey kills.

Now, with all of Turkey’s creating a storm over Saudi Arabia’s handling of the Khashoqji affair, and the Saudi’s refusal to turn Khashoqji’s body over for an autopsy, guess who refused (for weeks) to turn Zaki Mubarak’s body over to his family so they could have it autopsied? Guess who refused to send an autopsy report to the family?

And this, raises another question. Where is the American media on all of this? The U.S. and European media, and politicians, have all taken Turkey’s, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s side on the Muslim Brotherhood member Khashoqji’s murder (with the exception of President Trump), but are entirely silent on Turkey’s handling of the Zaki Mubarak case.

Could the double standard in U.S. media coverage possibly have to do with Khashoqji’s being a Muslim Brotherhood operative (and therefore being a darling of Qatar and
al-Jazeera), and Zaki Mubarak’s being an opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood (and therefore one of the “bad” guys in the view of Qatar and al-Jazeera)?

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Barry Webb has logged a 25-year career as an Arabist for the NSA, has two MA degrees in related subject matter, and is currently a Senior Fellow with Americans for Intelligence Reform. He is the author of Confessions of an (ex) NSA spy: Why America and its Allies are Losing the War on Terror. His website is www.barrywebbauthor.com

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