Right Web

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

Hey FDD: Israelis are Treating Jihadis, Too

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

Nominated for the post of attorney general by Donald Trump, William Barr held the same post under George H.W. Bush, and established a reputation as a staunch conservative and supporter of executive authority.


Pundit Charles Krauthammer, who died in June 2018, was a staunch advocate of neoconservative policies and aggressive U.S. military actions around the world.


Former Weekly Standard editor and current Fox News commentator Bill Kristol is a longtime neoconservative activist who has been a leading right wing opponent of Donald Trump.


Jon Kyl, a hawkish conservative, served in the Senate from 1996-2013 and again in 2018, and helped guide Brett Kavanaugh through his confirmation process.


Paul Ryan (R-WI), Speaker of the House from 2015-2018, was known for his extremely conservative economic and social views and hawkish foreign policies.


On August 16, 2018, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the formation of the Iran Action Group (IAG). It would “be responsible for directing, reviewing, and coordinating all aspects of the State Department’s Iran-related activity, and it will report directly to me,” he stated. Amid speculation that the Donald Trump administration was focused on…


Norm Coleman is a lobbyist for the Saudi Arabian government, chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition, and former senator from Minnesota, known for hawkish, pro-Likud, and anti-Iran foreign policy views.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Had Washington made an effort after the last time President Trump promised to quit Syria to pursue diplomatic and military channels and prepare the ground for a U.S. departure, we have had something to celebrate.


Although a widespread movement has developed to fight climate change, no counterpart has emerged to take on the rising danger of nuclear disaster — yet.


U.S. supporters of Israel are in a bind: public opinion is changing; there are more actors publicly challenging Israel; and the crude, heavy-handed tactics they have successfully used in the past to silence criticism now only aggravate the situation.


As the civilian death toll from Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen grows and the backlash against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s role in Khashoggi’s murder escalates, former Sen. Norm Coleman’s control of Republican Party campaign purse strings positions him as a key influencer of Republican congressional action, or inaction, in curtailing the increasingly aggressive and reckless actions of Saudi Arabia.


Increasingly, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are positioned as rivals, each with pretensions to Middle Eastern influence or even hegemony. It’s not clear whether they can continue to coexist without one or the other—or both—backing down. This has made it more difficult for the United States to maintain its ties with both countries.


What does President Trump’s recent nomination of retired Army General John Abizaid to become the next U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia signify? Next to nothing — and arguably quite a lot.


The Donald Trump administration’s handling of nuclear negotiations with Saudi Arabia promises to lay bare some realities about security issues and nuclear programs in that part of the world that the administration has refused to acknowledge.


RightWeb
share