Mark Hall: Most things in the USA regarding FETO have not changed.

Mark Hall: Most things in the USA regarding FETO have not changed. 

Turk of America interviewed  Mark Hall who is an expert on FETO issues.Mark S Hall is a risk-taking documentary filmmaker and lawyer based in Austin, Texas — whose curiosity and unusual set of skills drive him to tell complex stories for the public good
 
What has been changed since the July 15th Coup Attempt?

Some things have changed but I believe most things in the USA regarding FETO have not changed. After the 2016 coup attempt. FETO received coverage in the US media and Fethullah Gülen became a figure that was better known to more Americans. Also, certain Gülenist NGO’s shuttered their doors or changed their name. However, in the past 2 years FETO has increased its efforts using American PR firms to regain its foothold as a benign group of esteemed educators who are being persecuted in Turkey for their beliefs. The Gülen charter schools in the USA have seen some failures but are still popular among the educational establishment in certain areas, such as Texas, I believe the Gülen Movement (FETO) emerged from its failed coup attempt in Turkey rather unscathed and are now on the road to expanding their power base in the USA.

Does FETO still expand its charter school network in the U.S?

MSH: Yes, FETO continues to see growth in its charter school network in the USA. Although FETO has seen dramatic failures in Alabama, where two schools were started by Soner Tarim from Texas, other states such as Nevada and New York have not approved applications for new, taxpayer-financed Gülen charter schools there. There is growth but it seems to be slower than before the 2016 coup attempt. And FETO is starting to use a charter services organization to reach into charter schools that are being planned by non-Gülen US citizens. I think this is to cloak their association with the overall FETO cult.

“What would Turkey do better in terms of dealing with FETO in the US? What has Turkey done wrong?”


 Although Turkey remains a good friend to the USA, its readily apparent that America has not understood the true nature of FETO or the 2016 coup attempt. I have often thought that bringing a small group of Turkish citizens to the USA who were harmed by the Gülenists or were harmed by the Gülen coup attempt to meet with journalists and political leaders in the USA might have made a difference. It is hard to look into the face of someone who has suffered and not feel that they are honest about their pain. FETO had a 16 years to establish its message through propaganda. It was very difficult for the Turkish government to overcome this advantage after the coup attempt. I also believe that certain missteps by the government of Turkey played into the Gülenist message in power centers (such as Washington, DC) that they were “better” than the democratically elected government there. It will be very difficult to overcome the US media’s bias against the current establishment in Turkey - they have been brainwashed by FETO for many years.

Major Pressure on Russia During the Biden Era

The impacts of U.S. President Joe Biden's sanctions against Russia continue to be spoken in the world public opinion. The U.S. administration has stated that it has decided to impose sanctions against Russia for three reasons. Russia's interference in the presidential elections, the cyberattacks on the U.S. energy sector, and the reports that Russia paid bounties on the U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan were indicated. In this framework, Biden Administration has announced that;

- The expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats
- As of June 14, the U.S. financial institutions will be banned from taking part in the primary market for bonds issued by the Central Bank of Russia, the National Wealth Fund of Russia, and the Russian Ministry of Finance
- 6 technology companies that support Russia's cyber activities are also on the sanction list
- There will also be sanctions imposed against 16 individuals and 16 media outlets that tried to interfere in the 2020 presidential elections.

Biden: "Now is time to de-escalate tensions."


By saying that "We could have gone further, but I chose not to do so," in his special 7-minute talk at the White House, President Biden underlined their unwillingness to kick off a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia. Biden said, 
 
" I propose to Putin that we meet in person this summer in Europe. I expressed concern about Russia's military buildup on Ukraine's border and occupied and unoccupied Crimea. I affirmed U.S. support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of #Ukraine, and I strongly urge him to refrain from any military action."

Russian Aggression in Ukraine is Still a Major Problem

It is well known that the U.S. Administration is anxious about Russia's ever-increasing troop buildup around the east of Ukraine and provocations. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and allied member countries in Brussels and made a joint statement on the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Biden Administration is exercising intense international diplomacy to support Ukraine thoroughly and so that Russia does not take action similar to the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Unclarity on U.S. Navy Ships in Black Sea  


The U.S. Department of Defense explained  that demand for warships going to the Black Sea wasn't made recently.In addition, Turkish Foreign Ministry announced that the U.S. has given up sending military ships. It is known that the U.S. The Navy routinely conducts operations within the NATO exercise framework in the Black Sea. It is expected that the U.S. will continue pressuring Russia by collaborating with the allies.

It is not clear whether the U.S. sanctions will bring any changes in Russia's actions especially considering that the previous precautions taken by the U.S. failed to terminate the Russian cyber attacks. Some Russian diplomats were also expelled in 2016 during former President Barack Obama's presidency due to Russia's interference. On the other hand, although Donald Trump does not criticize Putin, he had put in place the option of deporting some Russian diplomats upon the allegations of Russia's poisoning a former intelligence service agent in England in 2018.

Journalist, Ali Cinar

Secretary Blinken: “It’s a new day for America and the world.”

The new US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, in his first press conference after taking office, has remarked that "the free press is the cornerstone of democracy." Secretary Blinken announced that daily press briefings would resume starting from next week.He added” We'll strengthen this indispensable institution, lead with the power of our example, and put a premium on diplomacy with our allies and partners to meet today's challenges. I’m excited about all that’s ahead.”

In the Q&A section of the press conference, the first phone call between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the demonstrations which took place after Russia's opposition leader Alexey Navalny was taken into custody on his return from Germany, where he was treated after being poisoned, came into question. Secretary  Blinken said: "It is shocking that the Russian government is so scared of just one man."

He added   "We have already expressed our concerns regarding Navalny and the human rights issues in Russia. It is striking to me that the Russian government is so concerned and even scared of just one man. We investigate all the steps taken by Russia that cause concern on our side. Navalny's voice is the voice of many Russian citizens. His voice should be heard and not be silenced. We are worried about Navalny's safety."

Arms sale deal with UAE is temporarily suspended.

The Biden administration has also temporarily suspended some of the arms sale deals initiated during Trump's presidency. These include a $3 billion F-35 sales deal with the United Arab Emirates commenced during Trump's presidency, in return for a normalization agreement with Israel.

Democrats in Congress strongly opposed the sale of weapons to Arab countries in this regard. However, the attempt in the Senate to block the sale of weapons was fruitless.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that "it is a common development for the new management to review any weapons sales to see whether they are compatible with our strategic interests."

China has also come up.

When asked during the conference whether he shared this view, Antony Blinken said, "My assessment will be in this direction. Steps such as the forced retention of men, women, and children in concentration camps and being trained to adhere to Chinese Communist Party ideology, point towards genocide".

The fate of the nuclear deal with Iran.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that if Iran starts to fulfill its obligations under the agreement, the US will also fulfill its obligations, and this will be used as a platform to create a longer-term commitment with the partners of the USA, but that the USA currently is far from this point.

Normalization between Israel and Arab countries

Secretary Blinken reiterated his support for the Abraham Agreements, signed for the normalization of relations between Israel and Arab countries such as Bahrain and UAE.

"It is a positive development that Israel normalizes its relations with its neighbors," said Blinken.

Secretary of State, Antony Blinken held a phone conversation with the following countries foreign ministers:Mexico,Canada, Japan, South Korea,Germany,India,Iraq,France,Philippines, Australia ,Jordan, UK, Thailand,Italy and Israel

Secretary Blinken has also spoken with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg  and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Joseph Borell

United States thanks to NATO Ally Turkey for 'generous donation' of coronavirus aid

On his Twitter account, the U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo shared the photo taken while the military cargo plane carrying the medical aid sent by Turkey was landing on Andrew Air Base near the capital, Washington.

“NATO allies must stand together in times of crisis,” said Pompeo in a Twitter message. “We thank Turkey for their generous donation of medical supplies and protective equipment to help us fight COVID-19 in our hardest-hit areas. Americans are grateful for your friendship, partnership, and support.”

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Policies Michael Ryan said, “We are grateful to Turkey for the aid they have provided the USA with and the leadership model they have presented in NATO in the fight against COVID-19.”

Stating that Turkish and American officials coordinated the aid for a week, Ryan said, “Turkey’s aid to the USA, like its aids to Italy, Spain, England, and the Balkans, has been made with the coordination of NATO.”

The Turkish Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca had a phone call with U.S. Minister of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.

Turkish Ambassador Serdar Kılıç, met the shipment and delivered President Erdoğan’s letter to Trump to U.S. officials during the transportation of the aid package at the U.S. Joint Andrews Base.

It was announced that Turkey’s aid package included 500,000 masks, 400,000 gowns, 2,000 liters of disinfectant, 500 face shields, 400 N95-type masks, and 1,500 protective glasses.

In addition, The second military cargo plane from Turkey arrived in the USA on Friday, May 1, completing the entire delivery.

U.S. Officials: We fully support Turkey

Successive messages of support came from the U.S. to Turkey after the treacherous attacks on Idlib by the Assad regime. Kelly Craft, the Permanent Representative of the US to the UN, said, “We support Turkey’s right to retaliate against the illegitimate attacks that resulted in soldiers’ deaths.”

At the emergency meeting organized by the UNSecurity Council, Craft spoke about growing tension in Idlib.

Evaluating the attack against Turkish soldiers in Idlib yesterday, which resulted in 33 martyrs, Kelly Craft stated, “The US strongly condemns the attack on Turkish troops yesterday. These attacks are completely illegitimate, meaningless, and barbaric.”

Craft, who also sent condolences to the families and relatives of the soldiers who were killed in the attack, said, “The US will not hesitate to continue its commitment to its NATO ally Turkey. We support Turkey’s right to retaliate against these illegitimate attacks on the observation posts that resulted in soldiers’ deaths.”

“HOW MANY MORE BABIES MUST FREEZE TO DEATH?”

Kelly Craft called for an urgent, permanent, and verifiable ceasefire in Northwest Syria, stating, “We call on Russia to urgently ground their warplanes. We also invite Syrian forces and their supporter Russia to retreat to the ceasefire borders set in 2018.”

Pointing to the humanitarian situation in Syria, Craft said, “I’m going to ask you again, are we going to sit back and watch? Are we going to remain silent? Or will we deliver? How many more babies have to freeze to death before we raise our voices and say, “Enough!”

“THE ASSAD REGIME, RUSSIA, AND IRAN MUST END THEIR ATTACKS”

Secretary Pompeo issued a written statement about the attack on Turkish soldiers by the Russian-backed Assad regime in Idlib.

Stressing that he is on Turkey’s side, Pompeo described the attacks as “despicable and shameless” and said, “We send our condolences to the Turkish state for the soldiers who lost their lives. The US condemns this attack as strongly as possible.”

"THE ATTACKS MUST END"

Pompeo also called on the Assad regime and its supporters to stop their attacks on Idlib, stating, “these actions by the Assad regime, Russia, the Iranian regime, and Hezbollah directly prevent a ceasefire in Northern Syria. The attacks must end, humanitarian access must be granted, and a political solution must be developed in accordance with UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 2254.”

Pompeo also noted that the US is in touch with Turkey for preventing and alleviating the human suffering caused by “the regime and the Russian brutality,” and that they are evaluating possible ways to support Turkey.

Pompeo said that they would do their best to proclaim a truce across Syria, including in Idlib, as well as do their best to prevent the reintegration of the Assad regime into the international community until the regime fully complies with the UNSCR decision.

A SOLIDARITY STATEMENT FROM THE US TO TURKEY REGARDING THE IDLIB ISSUE

The US Department of State has announced that it has evaluated the fastest way to help Turkey regarding the current situation in Idlib.

The spokesperson of the State Department stated that intelligence sharing is currently active between the US and Turkey. It was also stated that they are discussing the fastest way to help Turkey in Idlib.

On the other hand, the spokesperson also noted that the attacks carried out in Idlib was a product of the close relationship between the regime and Russia. It was also noted that the regime couldn’t carry out any airstrikes without the support and approval of Russia.

President Trump Vows Sanctions on Iraq

The hundreds of Iraqis attacking the U.S. embassy in Baghdad were not innocent "protesters," They were mainly members of the Iran-backed militias that, not least at the behest of the IRGC Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by U.S. strike.

U.S.-Iran tensions have manifested themselves on Iraqi land for at least three years, and the United States and Iran are on heightened alert after a weekend of military action and fiery rhetoric. President Trump finished his Florida visit last night. During a flight from Florida to Washington, DC on Air Force One, President Trump talked about the increasing tensions with Iran. "They're allowed to kill our people, they're allowed to torture and maim our people, they're allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people, and we're not allowed to touch their cultural site? It doesn't work that way," President Trump stated.  

President Trump threatened Iraq with the sanctions and a bill for billions of dollars if the U.S. is forced to withdraw its troops from the nation after the Iraqi Parliament. "If they do ask us to leave if we don't do it on an amicable basis. We will charge them sanctions as they've never seen before ever," President Trump said. Last night, there were strikes in the capital of Iraq, in which three rockets landed inside the heavily fortified Green Zone, US Embassy in Baghdad. Pentagon has announced that additional 3,500 troops are in progress to be sent to the region/U.S. have almost 60,000 troops in the Middle East. United States has 9 Military bases with 5200 US Troops. 

Recent Tweets from President Trump on Iran:

"Iran has been nothing but problems for many years. Let this serves as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!"

"They attacked us, & we hit back. If they attack again, which I would strongly advise them not to do, we will hit them harder than they have ever been hit before!"

"The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment. We are the biggest and by far the BEST in the World! If Iran attacks an American Base, or any American, we will be sending some of that brand new beautiful equipment their way...and without hesitation!"

Secretary Pompeo's Media Appearances and Diplomatic Efforts:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has appeared on many major TV outlets since Saturday. "We have developed a strategy to attempt to convince the Iranian regime to behave like a normal nation. We expect to achieve that goal. We will defend America." Secretary Pompeo said on CNN. 

He was asked about the Iraqi Parliament's vote; Secretary Pompeo said on the CBS program "Face the Nation,": "It is the United States that is prepared to help the Iraqi people get what it is they deserve and continue our mission there to take down terrorism from ISIS and others in the region,

Iranian Cultural Site Conflict

President Trump raised the prospect of targeting Iranian heritage/cultural sites Saturday in a tweet; however, many foreign policy experts objected to his tweet regarding targeting Iranian culture. As an example, Former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Nicholas Burns, said President Trump's threat to destroy Iranian cultural sites would be a war crime under U.N. Security Council resolution 2347.

Regarding President Trump's statement attacking Iranian Cultural sites, Secretary Pompeo said that the United States would "behave lawfully" and "behave inside the system." Also, Presidential Adviser Kellyanne Conway suggested that Iran may be hiding strategic military targets at cultural sites

Secretary Pompeo Speaks Turkish Foreign Minister 

Secretary Pompeo and Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu has discussed the decisive defensive action by President Donald Trump employed in Baghdad to protect American lives. Secretary reiterated the importance of countering the Iranian regime's destabilizing activities.

Secretary Pompeo has called his counterparts of Israel. Germany, Russia, China, Italy, France, UAE, and many other senior leaders globally regarding the U.S. recent operation in Baghdad.

Written Statement from Turkish Foreign Ministry:

 "We strongly reiterate that turning Iraq into a conflict zone will harm peace and stability not only in Iraq but also in the entire region. Turkey has always been against foreign interventions, assassinations, and sectarian conflicts in the region."

European Leaders urge Iran to abide by nuclear pact.

French President, German Chancellor, and U.K. Prime Minister release a joint statement "We specifically call on Iran to refrain from further violent action or proliferation, and urge Iran to reverse all measures inconsistent with the JCPA. Also, NATO and US-led coalition Suspend Training Missions in Iraq After Soleimani's Killing

What to expect this week?

President Trump continues tweeting and speaking on Iran and Iraq. Additionally, Iran officials continue to criticize and threaten the U.S. regarding Soleimani's death. It is unknown what would be Iran's next step on U.S. however U.S. is ready to hit back harder if necessary. Gasoline is already up by about six cents a gallon in response to the escalation. We might see a negative economic impact shortly, globally. Iran could disrupt shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, which is the world's biggest oil chokepoint. There are about 21 million barrels of oil a day flowed through Strait of Hormuz per year. 

The U.S. administration continues to pursue a robust program of sanctions against Iran and has issued 9 Executive Orders to implement Congressional legislation since 2011. Trump has an option to have more sanctions on Iran.

Cybersecurity is important since one of the Iranian groups hacked the website of the Federal Depository Library Program.

The relationship between the U.S. and Iraqi government is getting worse, so if the Iraq Government approves the resolution of U.S. troops leaving would be a disaster. This would be more an opportunity for Iran and many terrorist groups. Iran also announced its complete departure from the 2015 nuclear deal that would be bad news for the West. 

With the nuclear agreement, the West was controlling Iran at some point. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and many Democrats have been critical of Trump's decision to conduct an airstrike in Iraq that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani. The House will introduce and vote on a War Powers Resolution to limit the President's military actions regarding Iran. Senator Tim Kaine introduced a similar resolution. Diplomatic channels are essential to reduce the tension, so many countries have a responsibility to talk to both sides.

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