Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Hey FDD: Israelis are Treating Jihadis, Too

While the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies has lambasted Turkey for treating al-Qaeda affiliated fighters in its hospitals, it has turned a blind eye to Israeli medical support of the same militants.

LobeLog

The hard-line neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) has been campaigning against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AKP government for many years now. FDD has particularly targeted Erdogan since Israel’s Cast Lead Operation against Gaza in 2008-09, which essentially scuttled Ankara’s once-promising mediation effort between Israel and Syria and infuriated the Turkish leader.

The campaign intensified following the Israeli raid against the 2010 Mavi Marmara in which attacking commandos killed nine Turkish activists, including one with U.S. citizenship. FDD has since jumped on every opportunity—and Erdogan’s increasing authoritarianism at home has provided plenty of them—to expand its attacks. Indeed, next to Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, and sometimes even the Palestinian Authority itself, Turkey has jumped close to the top of FDD’s Enemies List (just type “Erdogan” in the search box on FDD’s website to see how high).

This week in the Huffington Post, FDD’s Vice President for Research Jonathan Schanzer, writing with Merve Tahiroglu, published the latest blast against Turkey under Erdogan entitled “Jihadi General Hospital.” To make a moderately long story short, the article cites evidence that Ankara is either turning a blind eye to or actively supporting medical treatment for jihadis wounded in Syria—from groups including the Islamic State (IS) and the Nusra Front—in its own public hospitals and in makeshift medical centers on Turkish territory. The story concludes:

It is no secret that Turkey has oriented its foreign policy toward Islamist regimes and Muslim Brotherhood movements in recent years. However, Turkey’s new role as jihadi general hospital should be a warning. Ankara’s socialized medicine for extremists is yet another dangerous indicator for a regime that has helped Iran evade sanctions, granted permission to Hamas to establish a headquarters in Turkey, and allowed the Islamic State to run rampant.

Although I don’t doubt the accounts given in Schanzer’s article, it seemed that the timing was a bit unfortunate. It came just two days before the veteran Wall Street Journal reporter and regional specialist Yaroslav Trofimov published a column entitled “Al Qaeda a Lesser Evil? Syria War Pulls U.S., Israel Apart.” Datelined the Golan Heights, the story notes:

To the south of this overlook, which the United Nations and Israeli officers observe the fighting, are the positions of the Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda that the U.S. has targeted with airstrikes. Nusra Front, however, hasn’t bothered Israel since seizing the border area last summer – and some if its severely wounded fighters are regularly taken across the frontier fence to receive treatment in Israeli hospitals.[Emphasis added]

The column goes on to note that, in contrast to its help to al-Nusra (read: al-Qaeda, as Schanzer reminds us), Israel has attacked pro-government Hezbollah forces and Iranian advisers, a reference to the January 18 air strikes against a Hezbollah column that killed five Hezbollah fighters and one high-ranking Iranian Revolutionary Guard officer.

As readers of this blog know, this story is not new. We reported it late last month in an article (“Israel Working With Al-Qaeda?”, Feb 28) and suggested raising this question of Netanyahu when he came to speak to Congress the following week. (It wasn’t.) Ironically, that post was prompted by a Weekly Standard article (“Friend and Foe in Syria”) by Lee Smith. More irony: the article quoted another FDD analyst, Tony Badran, as asserting that Israel was not only providing medical treatment to fighters, but also “[i]t’s a channel of communication ….they’re talking to them and likely sharing intelligence in the full knowledge that these rebel units cooperate with Nusra against the Assad regime, Hezbollah, and the IRGC.”[Emphasis added]

So, the question for FDD and Schanzer is: how is what Turkey is doing in providing medical assistance to jihadis, including al-Nusra militants, on its territory any different from what Israel is doing in providing medical assistance to jihadis, including Al Nusra, on its territory (or at least on the Golan Heights, which, according to most of the world, is Syrian territory occupied by Israel)? Does its help not qualify it as a “jihadi general hospital” in the same or similar way as Turkish medical support?

Note: Aurelie Daher, the French-Lebanese expert on Hezbollah who has contributed two posts on this subject (here and here), informs me that I left out one important detail in reporting my February 28 story. The Israelis are not charging their jihadi patients a flat $1,000 for treatment as I reported, but rather $1,000 per day of treatment. I have made the correction in the original.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is one of the Senate’s more vocal hawks, and one of the prime vacillators among Republicans between objecting to and supporting Donald Trump.


Ron Dermer is the Israeli ambassador to the United States and has deep connections to the Republican Party and the neoconservative movement.


The Washington-based American Enterprise Institute is a rightist think tank with a broad mandate covering a range of foreign and domestic policy issues that is known for its strong connections to neoconservatism and overseas debacles like the Iraq War.


Max Boot, neoconservative military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations, on Trump and Russia: “At every turn Trump is undercutting the ‘get tough on Russia’ message because he just can’t help himself, he just loves Putin too much.”


Since taking office Donald Trump has revealed an erratic and extremely hawkish approach to U.S. foreign affairs, which has been marked by controversial actions like dropping out of the Iran nuclear agreement that have raised tensions across much of the world and threatened relations with key allies.


Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas and an evangelical pastor, is a far-right pundit known for his hawkish policies and opposition to an Israeli peace deal with the Palestinians.


Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is known for her lock-step support for Israel and considered by some to be a future presidential candidate.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

The Trumpian new regional order in the Middle East is predicated on strongman rule, disregard for human rights, Sunni primacy over Iran and other Shia centers of power, continued military support for pro-American warring parties regardless of the unlawfulness of such wars, and Israeli hegemony.


A comparison of U.S. nuclear diplomacy with Iran and the current version with North Korea puts the former in a good light and makes the latter look disappointing. Those with an interest in curbing the dangers of proliferating nuclear weapons should hope that the North Korea picture will improve with time. But whether it does or not, the process has put into perspective how badly mistaken was the Trump administration’s trashing of the Iran nuclear agreement.


Numerous high profile Trump administration officials maintain close ties with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists. In today’s America, disparaging Islam is acceptable in ways that disparaging other religions is not. Given the continuing well-funded campaigns by the Islamophobes and continuing support from their enablers in the Trump administration, starting with the president himself, it seems unlikely that this trend will be reversed any time soon.


The Trump administration’s nuclear proliferation policy is now in meltdown, one which no threat of “steely resolve”—in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s words—will easily contain. It is hemorrhaging in part because the administration has yet to forge a strategy that consistently and credibly signals a feasible bottom line that includes living with—rather than destroying—regimes it despises or fears. Political leaders on both sides of the aisle must call for a new model that has some reasonable hope of restraining America’s foes and bringing security to its Middle East allies.


Congressional midterm elections are just months away and another presidential election already looms. Who will be the political leader with the courage and presence of mind to declare: “Enough! Stop this madness!” Man or woman, straight or gay, black, brown, or white, that person will deserve the nation’s gratitude and the support of the electorate. Until that occurs, however, the American penchant for war will stretch on toward infinity.


To bolster the president’s arguments for cutting back immigration, the administration recently released a fear-mongering report about future terrorist threats. Among the potential threats: a Sudanese national who, in 2016, “pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS”; an Uzbek who “posted a threat on an Uzbek-language website to kill President Obama in an act of martyrdom on behalf of ISIS”; a Syrian who, in a plea agreement, “admitted that he knew a member of ISIS and that while in Syria he participated in a battle against the Syrian regime, including shooting at others, in coordination with Al Nusrah,” an al-Qaeda offshoot.


The recent appointment of purveyors of anti-Muslim rhetoric to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom exposes the cynical approach Republicans have taken in promoting religious freedom.


RightWeb
share