Latest Analysis and Commentary

How Erdogan Planned This Ethnic Cleansing All Along

by Malcolm Lowe  •  October 16, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • As the Voice of America itself reported on January 23, Erdogan's plan was to resettle three million or more refugees from other parts of Syria in this "security zone" extending twenty miles deep into Syria. Twenty miles may not sound much, but – the VOA omitted to mention – almost all the Kurdish towns of northeastern Syria lie within that area. So Erdogan's intention to annihilate the Kurdish presence in that area and replace it with others has been manifest ever since the beginning of 2019.

  • A whole series of Trump's Republican supporters in the Senate expressed outrage over his decision, starting with Lindsey Graham ("Pray for our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump Administration") and continuing with Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, who remarked: "As we learned the hard way during the Obama Administration, American interests are best served by American leadership, not by retreat or withdrawal."

It is now clear that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan intended the annihilation of the Syrian Kurds already two years ago. (Photo by Getty Images)

It is now clear that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan intended the annihilation of the Syrian Kurds already two years ago. Moreover, his plans became evident to the US military by the beginning of 2019 and were conveyed to President Trump at that time.

In order to disguise his plans, Erdogan revealed them stage by stage, by making first lesser and then greater demands on the US military, to which Trump agreed -- sometimes in the course of telephone conversations with Erdogan. So Erdogan was able to hoodwink the US military up to January 2019 and to hoodwink Trump up to the current invasion: Trump resolutely defied contrary advice from the military (and from everyone else).

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Turkey, Russia, Iran: Filling the Vacuum

by Erick Stakelbeck  •  October 16, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • The U.S. Congress is looking to push back against Erdogan's brazen foray into northeastern Syria. For months, there has been a bi-partisan effort on Capitol Hill to convince the Trump administration to implement sanctions on Turkey in the wake of its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system. The events of this past week will likely only escalate pressure by Congress against the Erdogan regime.

  • "We defeated ISIS," a Peshmerga general said, "only to see Iran and its Shia militias become stronger. They are filling the vacuum."

  • Islamist-led Turkey has now joined those same Iranian-led forces in filling that vacuum — with the full acquiescence of the United States.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's longstanding threat to invade northeastern Syria — under the pretext of targeting terrorists from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) — has become a reality. Pictured: Smoke from battle explosions rises over the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, near the Turkish border, on October 15, 2019. (Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images)

On the Iran-Iraq border a few weeks ago, I found myself just a few hundred meters from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), standard bearers of a regime that has practically copyrighted the phrases, "Death to America" and "Death to Israel."

At the Kurdish Peshmerga military base stood a series of small, white structures spread out across the mountaintops on the Iranian side of the border.

"IRGC observation posts," said one of my Kurdish hosts, eying the mountains warily.

The Pershmerga generals interviewed in Iraqi Kurdistan seemed eager to talk about the threat posed by the IRGC and the Iranian regime—not only to the Kurds, Israel and the broader Middle East, but also to the United States.

They were understandably more reticent, however, in discussing the other looming threat in their immediate neighborhood — an increasingly aggressive Turkey, led by Islamist strongman President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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Terror Attacks in France: A Culture of Denial

by Alain Destexhe  •  October 15, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • This latest attack also demonstrates how inadequately prepared France is to tackle the problem. The murderer was not just any civil servant: his security clearance allowed him to have access to sensitive files such as the personal details of police officers and individuals monitored by the department, including several individuals suspected of terrorism.

  • Beyond the political sphere, there is also a culture a denial of the Islamist threat in the French media. Journalists, academics and politicians, with a few exceptions, have consistently played down not only the risk of terrorist attacks but also the threat of growing Salafist radicalization in the country.

  • According to a study by the Montaigne Institute, 29% of Muslims in France believe that Sharia law is more important than French law. This means that almost one-third of French Muslims live according to values that are fundamentally incompatible with French or Western standards.

  • It is important to note that theses quotes are not from right-wing thinkers or activists. Both François Hollande and Gerard Collomb were long-time eminent figures of the Socialist Party.

  • These are typical examples of what some call "la démission des élites" (the abdication of the elites): refusing to act on a situation of which they are perfectly aware but afraid to mention because of the dominant ideology of political correctness.

Pictured: Police block a bridge near Paris Police headquarters, after a terrorist murdered four police employees on October 3, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Marc Piasecki/Getty Images)

On October 3, 2019, a knife-wielding Muslim employee of the Paris Police Department Intelligence Directorate stabbed to death four other employees at police headquarters in the center of Paris, before a trainee police officer shot and killed him. While it was not the deadliest terror attack France has experienced in recent years, the fatal stabbings that took place at the Paris police headquarters were perhaps the most worrisome. Its author (a French public servant employed by the police), its highly sensitive target, and the catastrophic handling of the aftermath of the attack reveal the failure of the French institutions.

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Bolton's Purge, Trump's Obama Moments

by Jiri Valenta and Leni Friedman Valenta  •  October 15, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • In Syria, however, President Trump, like Obama earlier, seems not to have realized that when the U.S. withdraws, its enemies advance and fill the vacuum.

  • "I would describe myself as pro-American," Bolton said. "The greatest hope for freedom for mankind in history is the United States, and therefore protecting American national interest is the single best strategy for the world." He said that America has slowly constrained its range of action, through foolhardy entanglements with international institutions such as the United Nations, and naive bilateral agreements that promised too much to America's enemies in exchange for too little. — Graeme Wood, The Atlantic, March 8, 2019.

  • The American people do not necessarily elect candidates exclusively engaged in a search for peace. They were doubtless hoping that the new president would drain all the swamps. Bolton is correct: Americans support presidential candidates who are not appeasers, but defenders of American values, vital national interests and human rights.

In Syria, President Trump, like Obama earlier, seems not to have realized that when the U.S. withdraws, its enemies advance and fill the vacuum. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Something unprecedented happened last month. A resigning National Security Advisor, Ambassador John R. Bolton, was forced out by a cabal of TV commentators and foes of Bolton and US President Donald J. Trump. Then, for perhaps the first time, Bolton publicly repudiated the president for his foreign policies. Meanwhile, the prominent American attorney, Alan M. Dershowitz, correctly declared Bolton's purge a "national catastrophe."

Indeed, Bolton's purge has serious national security implications for the future of the US. Kudos to him for courageously sacrificing his job if he felt the president was marching in the wrong direction. Bolton's pain may well have been caused by his no longer being able to endure Trump's "Obama moments."

"Obama moments", "Strategic Patience" vs "Strategic Savvy."

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How Terrible Does Turkey Have to Get?

by Burak Bekdil  •  October 14, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • So where is this "economic devastation" against Turkey? Or does that make two promises that the U.S. has not kept?

  • Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has been threatening to flood Europe with more refugees. "We will open the gates and send 3.6 million refugees your way," he promised on October 10.

  • Meanwhile, obscenely, Erdoğan has been invited to the White House for November 13.

  • The real crime was for the US to betray the Kurds -- savory or not -- by making promises it did not keep... and leaving the world to wonder which Middle East ally the US will double-cross next. Take a guess?

The funeral of Kurdish politician, Hevrin Khalaf, who was dragged by from her car and executed by Turkish forces. Photo: Getty Images.

Turkey's military offensive into the overwhelmingly Kurdish northeastern Syria is sending messages on many wavelengths. One consequence is beyond dispute: Turkey is adding further chaos, bloodshed and tears to a region already in turmoil. The U.S. had apparently "assur[ed] Kurdish protection from Turkey." Trump spoke of "economic devastion" if Kurdish forces were attacked. "As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I've done before!)," Trump tweeted on October 7. [Microsoft may thoughtfully have censored this tweet for you. Ed.]

So where is this "economic devastation" against Turkey? Or does that make two promises that the U.S. has not kept?

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Climate's "Extinction Rebellion" and the Child Stalking Horse

by Andrew Ash  •  October 14, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • Their "cause", right or wrong, seems to be what matters. Even as they are cheered along by doting parents, political agitators and junk science, the sad fact remains that solar flares -- apparently the leading cause of climate change -- do not award monetary research grants.

  • While it is undoubtedly better not to choke the world with plastic, the Israelis and others have fortunately invented several varieties of fibre as strong as plastic but as soluble as an orange peel -- and reportedly often safely edible.

  • Rather than shedding some light on a difficult, and complex problem, the climate protestors seem merely to be fuelling the increasingly divisive world in which we live. As the former chief of staff of US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez admitted this summer, the Green New Deal was not conceived as an effort to deal with climate change, but instead a "how-do-you-change-the-entire economy thing".

  • What they seem to want to change it into, however, is socialism: governmental control of the economy, including the means of production and distribution. Historically, socialism has only led to lowered standards of living and rationing for everyone, to cut costs. Here in the UK, in the National Health Service, qualified people apparently do not want to work hard for less. Everyone ends up poorer and with services that are wanting... What is needed is growth: better education and the creation of more jobs... rather than attacking the "rich" [read: middle class] and blaming them for inequalities.

  • When the closest one has ever got to an occupation is by occupying other another person's place of work, the right to preach morality appears a dubious one.

Just when you thought it was safe to travel into London again without getting caught up in the mayhem of yet another protest, climate change activists have organised a whole two weeks of it, which kicked off on October 7. Pictured: Climate change activists protesting on Lambeth Bridge, in London, on October 7, 2019. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

Just when you thought it was safe to travel into London again without getting caught up in the mayhem of yet another protest, climate change activists have organised a whole two weeks of it, which kicked off on October 7.

"Extinction Rebellion UK" appears to be a rag-tag collective of millennial and post-middle-aged eco-warriors, with three attributes in common -- conservation, the love of the sound of their own voices, and having not enough to do with their time.

Not content with having already brought mayhem to London earlier in the year, or having brought Manchester to a standstill last month, or even having disrupted cities throughout the UK, during the September 20 "strike" -- where their school-age counterparts bunked off for the day to do the same thing, "XRUK" have planned to occupy parts of central London, supposedly "in an attempt to save the planet".

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France: More Death to Free Speech

by Guy Millière  •  October 13, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • Defending someone who is accused of being a "racist" implies the risk of being accused of being a "racist" too. Intellectual terror reigns in France.

  • France is moving from a "muzzled press to a muzzling press that destroys free speech". — Alain Finkielkraut, writer and philosopher.

  • Writers other than Éric Zemmour have been hauled into court and totally excluded from all media, simply for describing reality.

  • In a society where freedom of speech exists, it would be possible to discuss the use of these statements, but in France today, freedom of speech has been almost completely destroyed.

  • Soon in France, no one will dare to say that any attack openly inspired by Islam has any connection with Islam.

(Images source: iStock)

On September 28, a "Convention of the Right" took place in Paris, organized by Marion Marechal, a former member of French parliament and now director of France's Institute of Social, Economic and Political Sciences. The purpose of the convention was to unite France's right-wing political factions. In a keynote speech, the journalist Éric Zemmour harshly criticized Islam and the Islamization of France. He described the country's "no-go zones" (Zones Urbaines Sensibles; Sensitive Urban Zones) as "foreign enclaves" in French territory and depicted, as a process of "colonization", the growing presence in France of Muslims who do not integrate.

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Christians in Burkina Faso: "A Fight for Survival"

by Uzay Bulut  •  October 13, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • "In the middle of the night, you must go and listen to sermons. You're forbidden to criticize them. Women have to cover their heads. There's no talk of cigarettes, alcohol or music, no celebrations ... If you smoke, at first they just tell you not to. The third time, they kill you." — A resident of Burkina Faso, reported by Lindy Lowry, Open Doors, June 20, 2019.

  • "They've forbidden prostitution in the [gold] mines -- they slit their throats. They kill someone about once a month, I'd say, and it's always people they've warned. Except the prostitutes. They don't warn them. They just kill them." — A resident of Burkina Faso, reported by Lindy Lowry, Open Doors, June 20, 2019.

  • Terrorism -- committed by armed groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Al-Mourabitoun, Ansar al-Dine, Ansar-ul-Islam lil-Ichad wal Jihad, Boko Haram, Islamic State in Greater Sahara and the Macina Liberation Front -- has resulted in the displacement of more than 135,000 people in Burkina Faso, two-thirds of them since the beginning of this year. Their violence also has led to the closure of many schools.

Recent attacks on Christians in Burkina Faso have killed many Christians, and resulted in the displacement of more than 135,000 people and the closure of hundreds of churches and church schools. Pictured: The Cathedral of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. (Image source: kyselak/Wikimedia Commons)

The extremist attacks on Christians in the Muslim-majority West African country of Burkina Faso are not only a cause of great concern, but indicate that terrorist groups in the Middle East, such as ISIS, have not been defeated; they have moved their operations elsewhere.

Terrorism -- committed by armed groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Al-Mourabitoun, Ansar al-Dine, Ansar-ul-Islam lil-Ichad wal Jihad, Boko Haram, Islamic State in Greater Sahara and the Macina Liberation Front -- has resulted in the displacement of more than 135,000 people in Burkina Faso, two-thirds of them since the beginning of this year. Their violence also has led to the closure of many schools.

According to a September 18 report by the international Catholic organization, Aid to the Church in Need:

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ISIS's Turkish Homecoming

by Con Coughlin  •  October 12, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • It is, therefore, the epitome of hypocrisy for Mr Erdogan to offer to take responsibility for the ISIS fighters being held in Kurdish-run detention camps... If that really were to happen, and the ISIS captives were repatriated to Turkey, it would, for some, be more like a homecoming.

  • The far more worrying prospect is that the captives may be able to escape, and return to the ranks of ISIS's terrorist infrastructure....

  • The ISIS caliphate might no longer exist, but the terrorist organisation itself still continues to operate. Indeed, the latest intelligence assessments are that ISIS is regrouping in countries such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen, with the aim of launching a fresh wave of terror attacks against Western targets.

  • President Trump's claim that the war against ISIS is over may prove to be short-lived.

If the Kurds cannot guard the ISIS captives, then who will? (Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images)

One of the more ludicrous suggestions to have been made during Turkey's military offensive against the Syrian Kurds is that, in return for Washington's approval, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would take responsibility for the estimated 90,000 ISIS fighters and their dependents, currently languishing in Kurdish-controlled detention centres.

It is one of the worst kept secrets in Western intelligence circles that, for long periods during the brutal Syrian conflict, Mr Erdogan's regime supported a number of groups that enjoyed close affiliation with ISIS, as well as other Islamist terror groups such as Al-Qaeda.

It is, therefore, the epitome of hypocrisy for Mr Erdogan to offer to take responsibility for the ISIS fighters being held in Kurdish-run detention camps such as the al-Hol complex in eastern Syria. If that really were to happen, and the ISIS captives were repatriated to Turkey, it would, for some, be more like a homecoming.

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France's Homegrown Terrorism

by Giulio Meotti  •  October 11, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • French police investigating a woman for suspected ties to ISIS discovered a USB drive that contained personal details, including home addresses, of thousands of French police officials. Who provided that information?

  • "In the street, veiled women and men wearing jellabas are de facto propaganda, an Islamization of the street, just as the uniforms of an occupying army remind the defeated of their submission." – French journalist Eric Zemmour, September 28, 2019.

  • Le Monde, France's most prestigious newspaper, ran an op-ed after the recent attack, charging the country with "Islamophobic McCarthyism." Harpon, the terrorist who murdered his colleagues at police headquarters, would have agreed.

  • The problem is that France has, for years, been in a state of denial about the proliferation of radical Islam.

Police officers block off a street near Paris police headquarters after a terrorist murdered four officers in the building, on October 3, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Marc Piasecki/Getty Images)

This time, the terrorist did not use firearms; his victims were not unarmed children, cartoonists or Jews but policemen.

The site of the October 3 attack was also striking: "The interior of the Paris police headquarters is supposed to be a stronghold; it is the symbol of public order in France and of the anti-jihadist struggle that has been shaken," the French scholar Gilles Kepel told Le Figaro.

"We have entered a... terrorism made in France... with a mixture of Friday preaching by extremist imams, social networks and the instrumentalization of fragile individuals. It is about creating a new panic in society by targeting iconic ... places... The attack is a major turning point in Islamist terrorism."

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China: Modern Blueprint for Global Power

by Lawrence A. Franklin  •  October 11, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • President Xi Jinping's doctrine includes rejecting as illegitimate any "unequal treaties" forced on China by Euro-Atlantic powers, such as Great Britain's imposition of the McMahon Line, which awarded to the British Crown Colony of India hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of Chinese territory.

  • Chinese military exercises, new weapons systems and the surreptitious militarization of several landfill and disputed islands in the South China Sea, all indicate that Beijing intends to become -- at the very least -- East Asia's dominant regional power, thereby supplanting the US as the pre-eminent authority in the Western Pacific Ocean.

  • According to one American analyst on Chinese military affairs, in 2018 alone, China conducted approximately 100 military exercises with 17 countries.

  • In recent years, the Chinese Navy has been demonstrating better precision targeting by its anti-ship missile system, the presumed target being US aircraft carriers.

It appears that the strategic objective of China to establish regional primacy in the Western Pacific, and possibly in Asia, is militarily, politically and economically achievable. The world, however, is no longer under any illusions about China's acquisitive intent. US President Donald Trump indicated recently that America harbors no illusions about China's unbridled ambitions. Pictured: President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, during Trump's state visit to China, on November 9, 2017 in Beijing. (Photo by Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images)

The People's Republic of China, which celebrated its 70th anniversary on October 1, is led by the Chinese Communist Party's General Secretary, President Xi Jinping. In his speeches, Xi often refers to "Qiang Zhong Gwo Meng" ("the Chinese dream"), a code phrase for the era of rejuvenation when China will eventually overtake the United States as the most powerful nation in the world.[1]

Xi claims that China offers the world a different type of rising global leader -- a "guiding power."[2]

Beijing apologists depict China as a non-predatory power, comparing it favorably to Europe's colonial countries in the past and to today's United States.

Similarly, the state-controlled Chinese media depict Chinese statecraft as being based on and reflecting ancient Confucian ethics:

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Turkey Flooding Europe with Migrants

by Soeren Kern  •  October 10, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • The Greek government has said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan personally controls the migration flows to Greece and turns them on and off to extract more money and other political concessions from the European Union. In recent months, the Turkish government has repeatedly threatened to open the floodgates of mass migration to Greece, and, by extension, to the rest of Europe.

  • "If they [the European Union] do not give us the necessary support in this struggle, then we will not be able to stop the 3.5 million refugees from Syria and another two million people who will reach our borders from Idlib." — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

  • "If we open the floodgates, no European government will be able to survive for more than six months. We advise them not to try our patience." — Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.

  • More than six million migrants are believed to be waiting in countries around the Mediterranean to cross into Europe, according to a classified German government report leaked to the newspaper Bild... More than three million others are waiting in Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other members of his government have repeatedly threatened to flood Europe with migrants. On September 5, Erdoğan said that Turkey plans to repatriate one million Syrian migrants to a "safe zone" in northern Syria and threatened to reopen the route for migrants into Europe if he does not receive adequate international support for the plan: "This either happens or otherwise we will have to open the gates." Pictured: Erdoğan speaks at the UN on September 24, 2019. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

Greece has once again become "ground zero" for Europe's migration crisis. More than 40,000 migrants arrived in Greece during the first nine months of 2019, and more than half of those arrived during just the past three months, according to new data compiled by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The surge in migrant arrivals to Greece during the third quarter of 2019 — 5,903 arrivals in July; 9,341 in August; and 10,294 in September — has coincided with repeated threats by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other members of his government to flood Europe with Muslim migrants.

Although the number of migrant arrivals to Greece is still far below the number of arrivals at the height of the migration crisis in 2015, when more than a million migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East poured into Europe, the recent surge in newcomers suggests that Erdoğan's threats to resume mass migration are becoming a reality.

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Boris Johnson's Bold Brexit Proposal

by Malcolm Lowe  •  October 10, 2019 at 4:30 am

  • It must be acknowledged that Johnson's proposal for a replacement Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland has evident merits. But if EU leaders do agree – even against expectations – that Johnson's proposal is the way forward, why rush to complete all the legal complexities of that agreement in a few days instead of gratefully accepting an extension of time in order to let a good job be done?

  • If Johnson's approach does not get off the ground, the UK could still fall back to one last attempt to leave without no-deal. It is to demand a change to Article 20 of the original Protocol, the so-called "Backstop," such that instead of enduring for ever unless both sides agree to terminate it, the Protocol will endure for only an initial year, but can be renewed annually if both sides agree to continue it. If the EU refuses even this minimal demand, then it will have made it clear to the UK government, Parliament and the public that no-deal is indeed the UK's only way of escape.

In the turbulent weeks since Boris Johnson became prime minister of the United Kingdom, he has registered his first comparative success with his proposal for a change in Theresa May's Brexit deal. (Photo by Leon Neal - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

In the turbulent weeks since Boris Johnson became prime minister of the United Kingdom, he has registered his first comparative success with his proposal for a change in Theresa May's Brexit deal. On the one hand, he has forced the EU negotiators to abandon their adamant refusal hitherto to reopen the wording of that deal; on the other, his proposal – with its firm emphasis upon the UK's essential interests – has united almost all Conservative MPs behind it.

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Iran: Acting to Make Trump a One-Term President

by Majid Rafizadeh  •  October 10, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • The second initiative in which the Iranian government is engaged is to increase tensions in the region, destabilize the region, target the global energy market, cause oil and gas prices to increase, and then blame all these problems on the Trump administration.

  • The threat Iran poses to US presidential elections is real and urgent -- for Iran to be stopped, it should finally be held accountable.

Tehran has been actively escalating tensions in the Gulf. The recent seizure of the UK-flagged Stena Impero by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) appears to be part of a wider effort to blackmail the US and the EU into keeping funds flowing, as US sanctions continue to bite. Pictured: The Stena Impero and one of the Iranian gunboats that seized it. (Image source: Fars News/CC BY 4.0 [cropped])

Do not underestimate the power of the Iranian government to influence public opinion in the US, interfere in elections, and sway the 2020 presidential elections in its favor.

Iran began its post-Islamic-Revolution era by taking 52 American diplomats and citizens from the US Embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979 and holding them as hostages for 444 days.

The newly established theocratic government evidently wanted to project the new power it possessed to manipulate its new enemy, which it called the "Great Satan." Minutes after President Ronald Reagan's inauguration, however, on January 20, 1981, Iran released the hostages. It was obvious that Iran's move to create the hostage crisis and the inability of President Jimmy Carter to bring the American citizens home was doubtless one of the reasons for his defeat in the presidential election of 1980.

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UK: New Subversive "Guidance" for Journalists

by Judith Bergman  •  October 9, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • Policy Exchange's report on the leaked guidance gives rise for concern. In the words of the report, the guidance, "seems designed to bind the hands of UK newspapers when it comes to reporting on stories relating to Islam and Muslims – with potentially serious long-term consequences for the workings of a free and independent press". — Policy Exchange Report, "Eroding the Free Press," by Will Heaven and Sir John Jenkins.

  • As the Policy Exchange authors write, "In all of this, there seems to be a suggestion that journalists should take a different approach to covering Muslims than that employed towards other faith groups. This all seems remarkably ill-conceived. If we ruled out reporting on matters specific to Muslims not only would we miss some big issues – not least the threat from Islamist extremist terrorism, which continues to dwarf other global terrorist threats – but we would also be unable to report properly on discrimination against Muslims. More generally, we must ask: is it really the role of journalists to consider community cohesion before truth and accuracy? And what are the potential consequences of such an ethos?" — Policy Exchange Report, "Eroding the Free Press," by Will Heaven and Sir John Jenkins.

  • "As Policy Exchange has previously pointed out, one of the things that makes the APPG's attempts to institutionalise an illiberal definition of Islamophobia so unpalatable, is the fact that it resembles a form of blasphemy law, protecting Islam specifically, implemented by the back door". — Policy Exchange Report, "Eroding the Free Press," by Will Heaven and Sir John Jenkins.

  • "Taken as a whole, the IPSO guidance document seems to mark a decisive shift in the purpose of the regulator – which takes it beyond considerations of accuracy or discrimination, as per the Editor's Code. Instead, it is moving into the realm of 'insensitivities' and 'unbalanced coverage' – elastic and subjective terms". — Policy Exchange Report, "Eroding the Free Press," by Will Heaven and Sir John Jenkins.

For the eroding of the freedom of the press in Britain, the question seems not so much to be "if" as "to what degree". (Image source: iStock)

The British think-tank Policy Exchange, recently published a report, Eroding the Free Press, about a leaked draft of "Guidance for Reporting on Islam and Muslims". The guidance was drafted by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO)[1], the UK's independent press regulator, an initiative that IPSO announced in late 2018. In the past, IPSO has, among other issues, published guidance on the reporting of death and inquests, sexual offences, suicides, and transgender people. According to IPSO, its guidance is "designed to support editors and journalists" and "does not limit or restrict editorial decision making, but may inform that decision making".

In a January 2019 blog on IPSO's main priorities for 2019, IPSO Head of Standards Charlotte Urwin laid out the five priorities of the year. "Reporting of Islam and Muslims" was listed as the first priority and described in the following way:

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