An immigrant crisis and a crisis in leadership

The family story goes like this: at 9 years of age, my great-grandfather left Russia, walked across Europe and made his way to a boat that took him to America. He raised his family in Baltimore, over his candy store. His fine family became contributors to our great American story: a doctor, an engineer, a nurse and my grandmother, all of whom raised their own families who went on to contribute to our nation of opportunity.

Who knows what terrors sent this boy to a new world? Russian Cossacks burning his village? The loss of a family?

It is the most American of stories. Pilgrims escaped to the New World to practice their religion as they wished. Waves of Europeans, Asians, Africans and more have followed, many escaping horrors in their home nations. Our nation of brave innovators, creative thinkers and hard-working families was built by those who knew the work was worth it, because it was here that a good new life could begin.

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International News Roundup: The Islamic State In Depth

Marc Steiner Show – NPT, Baltimore


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In this June 23, 2014, file photo, fighters from the Islamic State group parade in a commandeered Iraqi security forces armored vehicle down a main road at the northern city of Mosul, Iraq. (AP Photo/File)October 6, 2015 – Segment 2

Our panel offers an in-depth perspective and analysis of ISIS. With: Dr. Adil Shamoo, Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, Senior Analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus, author of Equal Worth – When Humanity Will Have Peace, and blogger at; and Loretta Napoleoni,consultant to international organizations on counter-terrorism and money laundering, author ofIslamist Phoenix: Islamic State and the Redrawing of the Middle East, and 2011 recipient of the Singapore National Critics Choice’s Best Nonfiction Award in Economics for her bookMaonomics.

The U.S. Is Betraying the Kurds — Again

Turkey’s offering Washington a fig leaf of cooperation against the Islamic State, but it’s turning all its firepower against the most effective anti-ISIS fighters in the region — the Kurds.

By , September 4, 2015


In the country’s last election, the Islamist-leaning Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lost its majority in parliament. Though it retained a plurality of seats, it was the party’s biggest setback since coming to power at the beginning of the century. Since then, it’s been unable to form a governing majority.

A major contributor to the setback was the newly formed People’s Democracy Party (HDP), a Kurdish-led party supported by a number of other liberal groups in Turkey. HDP won 13 percent of the popular vote, enough to establish a bloc in parliament opposite Erdogan’s AKP. Erdogan has complained bitterly about the result, and even attempted to strip the party’s leaders of their parliamentary immunity — because, he claims, they collaborate with terrorists linked to the Kurdish resistance group PKK.

Failing in this, Erdogan has called for a snap election in November, hoping to win a majority again by denuding HDP of its popular support. And to do that, he’s brazenly restarting Turkey’s war the PKK in a cynical bid to rally Turkish nationalists to his own banner.

All that’s bad enough. Even worse is that he’s marshaling U.S. support to do it — all under the banner of collaborating against the Islamic State, or ISIS. Erdogan’s government has promised to increase Turkey’s collaboration with the United States to fight the group, all the while directing its firepower against Kurdish positions in Turkey and Iraq.

In fact, Selahattin Demirtas, the charismatic and outspoken leader of HDP, has accused Erdogan of helping ISIS by allowing the group’s members to cross the Turkish border with Syria. Demirtas has long fought for democracy and human rights for the Kurds and other minorities in Turkey.

If Washington goes along with this scheme, it won’t be the first time it betrayed the Kurds.

Back in the 1970s, the U.S.-backed shah of Iran encouraged and supported a Kurdish rebellion for autonomy in northern Iraq against Saddam Hussein’s regime. The U.S. promised to help the Kurds at the time. Yet soon after Iran and Iraq signed a border agreement, Iran cut off its support — and so did the United States. Hussein crushed the rebellion, inflicting over 100,000 casualties.

Foreign policy, the notoriously callous Secretary of State Henry Kissinger reflected at the time, “should not be confused with missionary work.”

Later, during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, the U.S. government provided intelligence to Hussein’s government even as it knew he was launching gas attacks on Iranian soldiers, and later on Kurdish civilians — most notoriously in the Halabja massacre of 1988.

Despite this history, the Kurds are the most loyal and effective U.S. allies in the region, thanks to a number of shared rivals (and not least to Washington’s falling out with Hussein). Left-wing Kurdish fighters in Syria in particular are among the most daring and effective forces against ISIS. No less than U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has praised them.

There are 30 million Kurds in the Middle East, about half of them in eastern Turkey. The rest are scattered across Iraq, Iran, and Syria. In Iraq, they govern a semi-autonomous region with most of the trappings of an independent state. But Turkey has long vowed to crush any Kurdish state — whether in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, or Syria — because Turkish nationalists say it threatens the unity of Turkey.

Erdogan hasn’t always had such a toxic relationship with Turkey’s largest minority. Indeed, after coming to power in 2002, he allowed the Kurdish language be taught in their schools, encouraged Kurds to participate in parliamentary elections, and allowed them to express their cultural and religious beliefs. Erdogan received praise and support from the Kurds and other minority groups, even attracting significant Kurdish support for his past electoral bids.

The crowning achievement came two year ago, when Turkey negotiated a ceasefire with the PKK, presaging an end to a decades-long conflict with the Turkish state that had claimed tens of thousands of lives.

But it wasn’t to last. Unrest in Syria and Iraq allowed Kurdish fighters there, many of whom are tied to the PKK, to consolidate their power as ruling regimes melted away, sparking concern in Ankara. Combined with an increasingly ambitious Erdogan’s frustrated electoral prospects, it made for a deadly combination.

All it took as a spark, which came when Kurdish fighters killed two Turkish border guards in Suruc following a massive suicide attack by ISIS that killed dozens of Kurdish civilians. In response, Erdogan launched airstrikes on Kurdish positions in both Iraq and Turkey, prompting retaliatory attacks. Casualties are on the rise.

Why would Washington tolerate such attacks on the region’s most effective anti-ISIS fighters? Because Erdogan offered a big carrot: He’s allowing the U.S. to use his military base at Incirlik, near the Syrian border, to attack ISIS positions in Syria. Yet Erdogan himself has directed much more firepower at PKK forces in northern Iraq. Meanwhile he’s arresting left-wing and Kurdish activists in Turkey itself.

Erdogan even extracted a NATO pledge to battle the PKK and its affiliates, along with ISIS, on the ground that they’re all terrorists. It’s disturbing to see NATO becoming an instrument to suppress minority rights. Many question the sincerity of Erdogan in fighting ISIS when his efforts are primarily directed at his political opponents at home. Washington should ask itself whether opening a new front against ISIS is worth betraying a valued ally yet again.

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How to Confront ISIS

Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF) columnist

There may be a responsible way to fight the Islamic State, but the U.S. will have to leave its boots in the closet and the drones in the hangar.

The atrocities of ISIS become more shocking every day. In June, the Iraqis exhumed nearly 600 bodies of Shia recruits in Tikrit, an important Sunni Triangle city north of Baghdad. ISIS appears to have executed as many as 1,700 Iraqis and buried them in mass graves.

Last summer, when ISIS gained control of Mosul — Iraq’s second largest city — it should have spurred a re-thinking of U.S. policy. Despite the training of Iraqis to take control of their own security, the Iraqi forces defending Mosul melted away. A few hundred ISIS fighters easily defeated nearly 30,000 Iraqi military personnel trained and equipped by the Americans.

The victory of ISIS in Mosul was built on its past success in recruiting nearly 65 percent of the members of Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria. Its success in Mosul in turn emboldened its leadership and increased its popularity among many disaffected individuals in the region and beyond. ISIS explicitly links its successes to the past glories of the Arab empire. Many young Muslims worldwide see ISIS as a new wave: a fierce, invincible force that stands in stark opposition to the ideas and deeds of the West.

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International Roundtable: G7, Climate Change, and More

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g7June 9, 2015 – Segment 3

We host an International News Roundup, with topics including the G7 Summit on climate change, fossil fuels, Greece and the Islamic State. With: David Turnbull, Campaigns Director of Oil Change International; Michael Viqueira, senior Washington correspondent forAl Jazeera America; Dr. Adil Shamoo, Associate Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies, Senior Analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus, and author of Equal Worth: When Humanity Will Have Peace; Nile Gardiner, Director of theMargaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at theHeritage Foundation; and Imara Jones, Host of CaffeineTV and Economic Justice contributor for, who formerly worked on international trade policy for theClinton White House and was an executive at Viacom. Jones, Host of CaffeineTV and Economic Justice contributor for, who formerly worked on international trade policy for the

Autocrats United Against Yemen

The Yemen war is a variation on an old theme, where despotic regimes in the Middle East call on the United States to do their dirty work.


The latest war in the Middle East is now well underway in Yemen, where airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition have killed hundreds and plunged the Arab world’s poorest country into adeepening humanitarian crisis.

The target of the strikes are Yemen’s Houthi rebels, Zaydi Shiite resistance fighters that seized the capital Sanaa last January and have made inroads in southern Yemen since. Other members of the 10-country coalition include Egypt, Sudan, Pakistan, and most of the Gulf Cooperation Council of Sunni monarchies.

Washington has confirmed that it’s providing logistical support on the ground.

It’s a variation on an old theme, where autocratic and despotic regimes in the Middle East call on the United States to do their dirty work. The result for the United States helping these regimes to stay in power has been the prevalence of anti-Americanism among Arabs and Muslims.

Nonetheless, in addition to providing intelligence to the Saudis for their bombings in Yemen, the U.S. also just removed its partial weapons freeze on Egypt’s military regime — a signal of approval of Cairo’s leadership in the anti-Houthi fight.

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Vice News

Pentagon Panel Proposes Sweeping Changes that Could Impact Guantanamo Force-Feeding

By Jason Leopold

March 23, 2015 | 6:30 am

A federal committee that advises the Secretary of Defense on health policy has recommended that the Pentagon allow military healthcare workers to bow out of performing medical procedures that would violate their profession’s code of ethics, or their religious and moral beliefs. Personnel that decline to participate in the procedures should not face retribution.

The recommendation is one of more dozen suggested changes to military medical ethical policies contained in a sweeping 104-page report drafted by the Defense Health Board’smedical ethics subcommittee and quietly released last week. If the Pentagon accepts the committee’s guidance, it could potentially have a huge impact on the operations at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, where hunger-striking detainees are routinely force-fed by Navy nurses who have been accused of violating their medical code of ethics.

Since the onset of the global war on terror, the military has been blamed for gross violations of standard medical ethical principles to avoid the infliction of harm by forcing doctors and nurses to participate not only in the widely condemned practice of force-feeding of detainees, but also in interrogations where prisoners were abused and tortured.

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