US CONDEMNS IDLIB ATTACKS, STAND BY NATO ALLY TURKEY

 

The United States condemns the escalating assaults on Turkish Army Forces and innocent Syrian civilians by the Assad regime, Iran, Hizballah, and Russia.The statement came after leight Turkish soldiers and civilian contractors were killed by Syrian government forces in Northern Syria.

"The U.S. stands by our NATO Ally Turkey in the aftermath of the mortar attack by Assad regime forces on Turkish observation posts. This is a grave escalation. The Assad regime, Russia, Iran, and Hizballah's ruthless actions are preventing the establishment of a ceasefire." Secretary Pompeo said.  

"Turkey has the "full support" of the United States in responding to the Syrian Regime's "unjustified attacks" in Idlib "U.S. ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft addressing the U.N. Security Council.

Last December, the United Nations called on Russia and Assad to cease the massacre and, Russia and China vetoed the European Union countries' proposal for Idlib at the United Nations Security Council. The states that had prepared the plan stated that almost 1 million people had left their homes since the start of the last military operation by Syrian forces and Russian air support, four months ago. Thus, Russia, an ally of Assad, had rejected a U.N. Security Council bill for the 13th time since 2011, when the Syrian war began.

 

"We're very, very worried about this. First of all, the significance of Idlib – that's where we've had chemical weapons attacks in the past. We've got three million-plus refugees that may be pushed across the border. We have the Russians in the U.N. being very difficult on the whole humanitarian border assistance thing of late, with their veto of our efforts to try to get a decent U.N. resolution to keep the border crossings in the northeast open, and we think that the northwest will be next. And we see not just the Russians but the Iranians and Hizballah actively involved in supporting the Syrian offensive." said Special Representative for Syria Engagement and Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Ambassador James Jeffrey during his press briefing sharing the latest developments in Syria.

 

There is a tremendous U.S. support to Turkey on Idlib crisis. Turkey and the U.S. are on the same page about Idlib. No matter how much the two NATO allies disagree on the issue of the YPG-PKK terrorist elements, they both want Assad removed and the killing of Idlib's civilians to stop. From time to time, President Donald Trump shows his appreciation for Turkey's efforts in the region.

 

President Trump and President Erdogan had a phone call on January 27th to discuss recent developments in Syria, and both leaders agreed that the violence being carried out in Idlib, Syria, must stop.

President Trump: This Is A Celebration

President Trump's made a public speech and celebrated his Senate acquittal on Thursday at the White House. His legal team, cabinet members, and GOP Congressional Leadership and as well as Trump's Family, were present at the historical program.

"We've been going through this now for over three years. It was evil. It was corrupt. It was dirty cops. It was leakers and liars. And this should never, ever happen to another President ever. I don't know that other Presidents would have been able to take it. Some people said, no, they wouldn't have. But I can tell you, at a minimum, you have to focus on this because it can get away very quickly. No matter who you have with you, it can get away very quickly. It was a disgrace." he told a full packed East Room crowd.

"This is a day of celebration because we went through hell," President Trump told the crowd, describing his impeachment as "all bullshit" and criticizing many of Democrats who stole the country's time with false allegations. "These people are vicious. Adam Schiff is a vicious, horrible person. Nancy Pelosi is a horrible person."," Trump said during his East Room remarks

President Trump has thanked many people in the crowd, especially Senate Majority Leader Mitch Connell. "Mitch, I want to tell you: You did a fantastic job." President Trump said.

Apologizing from his Family:

"I want to apologize to my family for having them have to go through a phony, rotten deal by some very evil and sick people. And Ivanka is here, and my -- my sons and my whole family, and that includes Barron. "President Trump said during his East Room remarks. He hugged his daughter Ivanka Trump and invited First Lady Melanie Trump to the podium. 

Quick Highlights:

-President Trump focused the future and indicated that he would win again in 2020. He also believes that Republicans will get the majority in the House.

- President Trump brandished newspapers such as Washington Post and USA Today with banner headlines saying he had been acquitted.

-Television networks carried the lengthy remarks live, but President Trump did not take any questions after his remarks

- President Trump referred to "dirty cops," "leakers," "liars," and "nasty and horrible people," whom he blamed for his impeachment.

-President Trump called Senator Romney, who ran for president in 2012, "a failed presidential candidate," saying, "things can happen when you fail so badly running."

- There were over 100 people at the East Room, White House

On the Celebration day at White House, President Trump says al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula leader Qasim al-Rimi was killed in a US counterterrorism operation in Yemen.

President Trump will be traveling to Charlotte to address the North Carolina "Opportunity Now" Summit on Friday. This will be his 4th visit to Charlotte.

(Pictures taken by Ali Cinar-White House)

*TV Interviews after the President's Remarks.

Trump Administration declares Public Health Emergency for the U.S. for 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

 

White House officials held a briefing on Friday stated that the risk to Americans was “low,” and they wanted to keep it that way. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said that President Trump signed an order for the U.S. to deny entry to any foreign nationals who have traveled in China within the past two weeks, aside from the immediate family of U.S. citizens.

White House officials said that they were taking further steps because it was found that coronavirus can spread by people who show no symptoms, making it much harder to contain.

U.S. citizens returning to the United States who have been in China’s Hubei province within 14 days will face a mandatory quarantine. Other Americans returning to the United States from different parts of China will face enhanced screening and a self-quarantine of up to fourteen days. Also, the U.S. would begin funneling all flights from China to the United States through 7 airports, where there would be enhanced screening.

Secretary Azar called the measures “fairly incremental” and “appropriate, preventative steps.” 

Another speaker at the White House Press briefing Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, discussed the current situation on the novel coronavirus. “The risk to the American public currently is low. Our goal is to do all we can do to keep it that way. As of today, there are nearly 9,700 cases in China, with more than 200 deaths. Additionally, currently, there are another 23 countries that have confirmed, totally, 132 cases — twelve individuals who were confirmed in six countries who did not travel to China. 

6 Confirmed Cases and 191 people in the U.S. are being investigated for the disease.

“To date, we have confirmed six cases of this novel virus in the United States.I want to emphasize that this is a significant global situation, and it continues to evolve,” said Dr. Redfield.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stated that the issue now with this is that there's a lot of unknowns. He highlighted that they were not sure if there were asymptomatic infections, which would make it a much broader outbreak than what we're seeing. 

Deputy Secretary of State Steve Biegun also explained the role of the Department of State in the proceedings of this task force and our contributions. State Department’s first responsibility is to monitor events on the ground in China where they have the presence of U.S. diplomats and to give clear and accurate advice to American citizens and, in particular, American travelers considering visiting or staying in China. The second responsibility that Deputy Secretary of State said that is to assist U.S. citizens in the affected areas as much as possible. Lastly, the core mission of the Department of State is to work closely with our international partners. 

Acting Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli also explained the situation from the custom border perspective.TSA, the security, and the engagement with the airlines are critical. Our chief medical officer in the department is in CWMD, and we were providing medical support at the airports. “ Mr. Cuccunelli said. He also added that FEMA continues to prepare and support HHS preparations themselves.DHS will be implementing a funneling effort at the airports. It will be done under the authority of the Customs and Border Protection, and it will include seven airports. Incoming flights from China will be funneled through seven airports starting by 5.00 pm on Sunday, Eastern Time,. Those airports are JFK, Chicago's O'Hare, in San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, Honolulu, and LAX. 

Confirmed Cases increasing day by day 

The number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in China climbed to more than 11,800 as of Saturday morning,

Limited Travel to China

Many countries airlines announced that they stop flying to China for at least a month. American Airlines, Delta, and United would suspend all remaining service to mainland China after a State Department warning put a damper on demand for flights there.

Big Fear at the Fortune 500 Companies-Negative impact on global trade?

Many American companies announced that they gave an order to restrict restricted their employees’ Chinese business travel. There is a big fear that global trade would be affected negatively.

Dow Jones also fell 600 points on coronavirus fears as the US declares public health emergency,

President’s Presidential Proclamation, using his authority according to Section 212(f) of the Immigration and National Act, temporarily suspending the entry into the United States of foreign nationals who pose a risk of transmitting the 2019 novel coronavirus.

Details: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspension-entry-immigrants-nonimmigrants-persons-pose-risk-transmitting-2019-novel-coronavirus/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The U.S. Position on Libya and Mediterranean

Everyone more or less predicted the possible outcome of the Libya summit held last week in Berlin. With putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar fleeing without signing the cease-fire agreement in Russia, his insincerity was confirmed once again in the meeting in Berlin that involved 11 countries and lasted four hours since a formal cease-fire could not be agreed upon.

The attitude of the United States concerning the Libyan issue remains unclear. Even if U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was present in Berlin with messages of support for a cease-fire, there remain questions about the United States' stance regarding the Eastern Mediterranean and Libya. In the past, the U.S. Department of State expressed deep concern over the drilling activities of Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean last year. Everyone knows the United States is following a policy that is more inclined toward the Greek Cypriot Administration and Greece. Furthermore, it should be remembered that the American energy company, ExxonMobil, won a tender from the Greek Cypriot Administration, who are trying to parcel the Eastern Mediterranean unilaterally. Despite the reactions of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), the company started drilling in the south of the island in 2018 and a crisis arose as a result of this.

The murder of U.S. Ambassador John Christopher Stevens in 2012, in Benghazi, Libya, during an attack on the U.S. Consulate is still fresh in the minds of Washington. Indeed, this sad event continues to be a subject of great controversy in domestic politics. The incidents during and after the Benghazi attack resulted in significant changes in the U.S.' policies on Libya.

It would be right to see the U.S.' sharp turn concerning its policy on Libya as a "foreign policy from a safe distance." The U.S. has thus decreased its actions and its existence in Libya via the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) to a level limited to operations against al-Qaida. The position of the U.S., which has been to support the political solution proposed by the Libya Special Representative of the U.N. since 2014, has transformed into a strategy of "wait and see." In short, the U.S. has been following the developments from afar to see who the "winner" will be.

It can be seen that U.S. President Donald Trump has continued with the policy on Libya from the Barack Obama period. The U.S. unexpectedly withdrew its soldiers from Libya on April 7, 2019. During this withdrawal, there was no statement by the U.S. that it would continue its support for Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA). It also did not go unnoticed that the timing of the U.S. troops' withdrawal coincided with the operations directed at Tripoli carried out by Haftar. In the course of these unexpected events, Trump spoke on the telephone with Haftar on April 15, surprising everyone. However, Russia's speedy entry into the Libyan crisis in September 2019 has caused the U.S. to review its Libya policy.

Moscow's attempts to become a determining player in Libyan politics by sending private troops has brought with it the possibility that Russia will have a say on matters like the wave of migration originating from North Africa and the sub-Saharan region and the supply of Libyan oil. Both of these have shaped European politics recently in connection with the matter of Mediterranean energy.

Even though the U.S. attempts to remain on the same side as Russia in Libya, there are some rumors that the U.S.' close allies, such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, support Haftar and are indirectly impacting Trump's Libya policy.

The visit to Benghazi by the U.S. deputy chief of mission in Libya, Joshua Harris, in October 2019, where he discussed the matter of ending the war in Tripoli with the authorities, and the participation of the U.S. in the Berlin conference at the Department of State level have been perceived as a message that the U.S. will be at the table.

Even though the U.S. is getting ready for a really busy agenda with the upcoming presidential election in 2020, it is expected to voice an opinion on foreign policy matters regarding Libya and thus the struggle in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In that sense, the justified struggle of Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean and a close relationship with the diplomatic representatives of the U.S., which can relay the factors underlying the events, are important. And they are valuable, too. Indeed, the recent telephone call made by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Trump, where they mostly talked about Libya, was conspicuous. In a region where the conflicts of interest are immense, the United Nations should be expected to play a more active role and to support a government that has already been recognized.

Otherwise, the fate of Libya and the other Middle Eastern countries will be one of division and tragedy; and this will go down in history as a tale of skulduggery.

 

5th Annual TOA Awards to Honor The Year's Best

TURKOFAMERICA Magazine, which has been awarding successful people of the United States in different categories since 2014, honors the year’s successful people in different field from diplomacy to business, academy to entrepreneurship.

5th TOA Outstanding Achievement Awards (Outstanding Achievement Awards, Heritage + Diversity + Legacy + Business) ceremony presented by TOA Consulting and U.S. Chamber of Commerce is held at U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s historic building in Washington DC on November 15, 2019. The award ceremony has showcased the artworks of three artists.

This year’s award winners are among 12 different names such as Ryan Zinke, former United States Secretary of the Interior; Elin Suleymanov, Ambassador of Republic of Azerbaijan to the United States; Ümran Beba, Pepsico Inc Chief Global Diversity Engagement & Talent Officer; Murat Özgener, CEO of Oz Arts Nashville, one of Nashville's most popular contemporary art centers; Kemal Erkan, known for his work in the field of electronic medical record and one of the founders of the largest private health network system in Delaware and the Mid-Atlantic region; Dr. Gökhan Gündoğdu, Senior Advisor to Executive President to Atlantic Council and Chairman Gundogdu Foundation; James Hughes, President and CEO of Unity Bank; businessman İzzet Pinto, founder of Global Agency, which exports the most films and TV series from Turkey to the world; G. Lincoln McCurdy, President of Turkish Coalition of America; Mehmet Mustafaoğlu, Founder and CEO of Los Angeles based  private equity firm, Trans Global Financial Corp and first recipient of Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and businessman Mustafa Tuncer, known for his companies in the natural stone, media and retail sectors in the United States. Özer Güler, Turkish Airlines General Manager of Washington, DC also were awarded with a special thanks award plaque.

“We will continue to expand the categories”
Demet Cabbar, Sevil Altinsoy and Ali Gunertem have also awarded as Friends of TURKOFAMERICA for their contribution and support the magazine since 2002. The awards were determined by the TURKOFAMERICA selection committee and presented to the jury members. Last year’s award ceremony was held at the Harvard Club in New York. Thirty Americans who are Friends of Turkey had been awarded at the ceremony.

TURKOFAMERICA Magazine Co-Founder and Editor in Chief, Cemil Özyurt stated that for the first time this year they would present awards to Turkish-Americans as well as American people and other ethnic groups contributing to the economic, social and cultural life of the United States. Özyurt who pointed out the difficulty of doing such activity at a time when relations between the two countries were very tense, said: “Strained relations between the two countries should not keep us from such activities. Our purpose was to open this traditional award ceremony to different ethnic groups and Americans. This year, besides Turkish-Americans in different fields, we have included successful names that contribute to America. We will continue our way by expanding the categories next year.”

Jimmy Cuneyt Gürkan, TOA Consulting Partner stated that the artworks of Hulis Mavruk, Tony Şeker and Esin Kösoğlu have exhibited before and during the award ceremony, and a portion of the proceeds would be donated to a non-profit institution. Gürkan emphasized that they would hold the award ceremony for the first time this year in a city other than New York, and remarked that they wanted to reach different audiences by spreading the awards ceremonies throughout the United States.

Turkish Airlines is the main sponsor of the award ceremony. United Medical, Natural Source Group, Vintage Food and Sarar also supports the event. About 150 people are expected to attend the award ceremony at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. To see event photos click here 

ABOUT TURKOFAMERICA MAGAZINE
TURKOFAMERICA is founded by two college friends from journalism school in Istanbul and they came to United States to pursue their master's degree on June 19th, 2001. The young entrepreneurs started to publish TURKOFAMERICA on August 2002. The magazine is the first Turkish-American nationwide business magazine and its mission is to report news about the Turkish-American business community in the U.S. The magazine's content includes primarily the lives of Turkish people in the U.S. and their social, cultural and economic activities as well as the activities of Americans who are related in any way with Turkey or the Turkish community.

ABOUT TOA CONSULTING
TOA Consulting is a management consulting firm that helps overseas companies to reach their full potential is U.S. TOA helps global companies with business contulting, corporate event organization, trade shows, conferences, summits, corporate travel arrangements for trade delegations, international business matchmaking, B2B networkind events.

 

Ryan Zinke, Former U.S. Interior Secretary receives his award from Kimmy Cunyet Gurkan, TOA Consulting partner. 

 

Elin Suleymanov, Ambassador of Republic of Azerbaijan to the United States receives his award from Cemil Ozyurt, Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of TurkofAmerica Magazine. 

 

Umran Beba, Senior Vice President of Pepsi Co. receives her award from Deputy Ambassador of Turkish Republic to Washington DC. 

 

Izzet Pinto, Founder of Global Agency receives his award from Former U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. 

 

Janice Bolomey, Director of Sales and Chief Admin Officer, Executive Vice President of Unity Bank. She recieves her awared on behalf of James Hughes, President/CEO of Unity Bank from Lola Zinke. 
 
 
 
 
Mustafa Tuncer, founder of Troy Granite and owner of Forum USA newspaper, recieves his award from Lala Abdurahimova Suleymanov. 
 
 
 
 
Lincoln G. Mc Curdy, President of Turkish Coalition of America recieves his award from Derya Taskin. 
 
 
 
 
Aylin Ozgener of Oz Arts Nashville recieves her award from Tony Seker, Turkish-American artist.
 
 
 
 
Dr. Gokhan Gundogdu, Senior Advisor to Executive President to Atlantic Council and Chairman Gundogdu Foundation recieves his award from Savannah Lane of Turkish Heritage Organization. 
 
 
 
 
Businessman Kemal Erkan, founder and CEO of United Medical of Deleware, recieves his award from Ryan Zinke, former U.S. Interior Secretary. 
 
 
 
 
Businessman Mehmet Mustafaoglu recives his award from Loutte Ragusa of Turkish Coalition of America. 
 
 
 
 
Ozer Guler, Turkish Airlines General Manager of Washington, DC receives his award from Ryan Zinke.
 
 
 
 
Friend of TURKOFAMERICA award reciept Demet Cabbar with Fidan Ozyurt.
 
 
 
 
Friend of TURKOFAMERICA award reciept Sevil Altinsoy with Lola Zinke.
 
 
 
 
Friend of TURKOFAMERICA award reciept Ali Gunertem with Cemil Ozyurt. 

Facebook appoints a Turkish Businesswoman as the new Regional Director for Middle East, Africa and Turkey

A successful Turkish businesswoman Derya Matraş has been appointed as Regional Director of Facebook in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey.

In this role, she will manage Facebook to serve businesses and communities and to grow the company’s economic and social impact across the region.

 “The fast-growing ME, Africa and Turkey region is an important market for Facebook. Derya’s wealth of experience in emerging markets and her pioneering spirit will help us further drive impact and value in this uniquely diverse region, while maintaining our mission of bringing people together and building communities,” said Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s Europe, Middle East Africa Vice President.
 
Commenting on her appointment,Derya Matras said: “I am honored to lead this diverse region for Facebook where our goals of building new experiences that meaningfully improve people’s lives and supporting millions of businesses that rely on our services to grow and create jobs, truly come to life. As a woman leader, I am very proud to be appointed to this region where diversity is of crucial importance, and I am looking forward to continuing to drive our significant economic and social value contribution.”

Who is Derya Matras?

Derya Matras, who has been Country Director of Turkey in Facebook since 2015, is leading the Facebook team working to help brands and agencies operating in Turkey to use Facebook, Instagram and other relevant company products in the best way.

Ms. Matraş had a Bachelor of Engineering from Boğaziçi University, Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering and an MBA degree from Columbia Business School. She previously worked in international companies, including McKinsey & Company. Prior to joining Facebook, she was Vice President of Dogan Media Group, the largest media conglomerate and She also worked at McKinsey & Company advising private sector and governments around the world, especially on the digital economy. Ms. Matras is married with two children.

Facebook:

Facebook had 2.41 billion monthly active users around the world, as of last year. It is blocked in North Korea and China. There are over 40,000 employees and company's revenue was US$55 billion dollars in 2018. Facebook user number is currently 34 million in Turkey and  In 2022, the number of monthly active Facebook users is projected to reach 37.72 million individuals. 

State Dept. Official Robert Strayer: “Cyberspace is borderless ... therefore, we must have cooperation and coordination.”

There are big discussions and platforms on 5G, which will have increased amounts of throughput of data up to 100 times what many countries currently have in 4G technology.

When we look at some information, we see horrifying impacts on the cyber world. The hacker attacks every 39 seconds, according to The A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland. Hackers stole a half-billion personal records last year. There is an expectation of spending $6 trillion globally on cybersecurity by 2021.

The Trump Administration forecasts the U.S. wireless industry plans to invest $275 billion in 5G networks, creating 3 million American jobs and adding $500 billion to the U.S. economy.

Since cybersecurity and policy are a very hot topic, there was a timely briefing featuring Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cyber and International Communications Policy, Robert Strayer, at the State Department on January 9, 2020. He shared the highlights of 2019 and looked ahead to cybersecurity in 2020.

He stated that there had been tremendous growth from the Internet and connected digital technologies, and has seen an increase in the number of people having access to previously inaccessible information.

He also indicated that the Internet and being connected add trillions of dollars to the global economy every year.

He talked about how cyberspace has significant challenges, especially since the plan is to connect the next three billion people around the world. Also, he emphasized doing more substantial work in enabling cooperation and collaboration among nations in addressing these cyberspace challenges.

Becoming Top Priority: Cybersecurity and Cyber Policy

The State Department is taking cybersecurity and cyber policy seriously. There has been a lot of educational briefings and interaction with many different global actors in the past few years.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Strayer highlighted that “a country should not disrupt another nation’s critical infrastructure that is providing services to the public.”

He also briefly summarized the cyber progress accomplishments in the last year.

-Established a framework of responsible state behavior in cyberspace, which comprises developing the rules of the road for how countries should interact with one another in cyberspace.

-Had the United Nations endorse a set of 11 voluntary norms of responsible state behavior. With the leadership of the U.S., 26 other countries are responsible for enforcing state behavior in cyberspace. All endorsed the applicability of international law to cyberspace.

-A nation should not attack another nation’s major infrastructure endorsed by the UN.

-Cyber deterrence strategy: The State Department’s goal is to establish a set of consequences that are swift, costly, and transparent.

-Educate and partner with other countries about the importance and the transformational nature of 5G wireless technologies

Trust is the key to 5G.

The Deputy Assistant Secretary emphasized that there should be trust between vendors of this technology and the telecom operators and the governments where that technology would be deployed.

The European Union is an important partner.

The U.S. is working closely with Europe as they work on security measures for 5G. The U.S. welcomed the European Union’s adoption of a risk assessment last October.The European Union has a security toolbox for 5G now that addresses the security risks that they've already assessed to exist.

Worldwide Threat Assessment and 4 Countries

Deputy Assistant Secretary Strayer has identified four countries that they see as strategic competitors or adversaries in cyberspace; these are China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran. Their attacks violate norms of responsible state behavior; for example, the NotPetya attack and Iran’s activity on media platforms seeking to influence the U.S. population.

Also, the Iranian government has blocked the Internet, making it unavailable to the public, so the U.S. has sanctioned the Iranian Communications Minister to send the Iranian government a message.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Strayer said that there is no legitimate reason for disabling the Internet when doing so is an effort to interfere with people’s ability to communicate.

Big Threat from China

Deputy Assistant Secretary Strayer said that the U.S. had shared its concern about the laws in China and, especially, the sharing of data with governments that are not on the rule of law. He added that there is no appeal to an independent judiciary or a rule of law system that can be checked.There are a lot of concerns about Chinese telecom companies such as Huwaei.

$50 Million of Technical Assistance

Last year, the State Department was able to commit to $50 million of technical assistance in the form of cybersecurity capacity-building and cybersecurity training, as well as regulatory and other training assistance for regulators in countries around the world.

The State Department is also looking to expand to Latin America with at least $10 million pending approval from Congress. The State Department initiated similar support to Indo-Asia last year.

US-NATO Partnership

The U.S. continues to work closely with NATO to secure communications capabilities with the ability to engage in joint operations together and to enact troop mobilization.

According to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, “A serious cyberattack could trigger Article 5, where an attack against one ally is treated as an attack against all.” Stoltenberg wrote this in an article that was published in Prospect’s new cyber resilience supplement last year.

NATO also established a new Cyberspace Operations Centre in Mons, Belgium, in order to increase their military commanders’ cyber-situational awareness.

“With so much on the line, it’s urgent that trustworthy companies build these 21st-century information arteries. Specifically, it’s critical that European countries not give control of their critical infrastructure to Chinese tech giants like Huawei or ZTE” – Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, Politico Europe, December 2, 2019.

The White House also has a national cybersecurity strategy that was published in 2018 (https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/National-Cyber-Strategy.pdf).

 

10 Takeaways from President Trump's Action Against Iran

I was at the White House during President Trump’s address to the nation last week after the retaliatory attacks by Iran on bases in Iraq housing U.S. soldiers. President Trump explained the reason why the U.S. military killed Soleimani and also shared the details of the new sanctions against Iran.

Let’s look at the takeaways from the President’s action against Iran.

Iran’s Missile Attacks and No Casualties

President Trump said, “There were no Americans harmed by the Iranian regime missiles attack. We suffered no casualties. All of our soldiers are safe, and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases.” He also explained that no American or Iraqi lives were lost because of the precautions taken, the dispersal of forces, and an early warning system that has worked very well. President Trump saluted the incredible skill and courage of America’s men and women in uniform.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mahdi made a statement that Iran Administration has sent Iraq an official message that missile attacks “had begun or would begin shortly,” on unspecified U.S. military locations. It was believed that the Iraqi government officials gave a warning to the U.S. on “which bases would be targeted” after Iranian officials passed on the information.

U.S. Troops Staying In Iraq

Despite Iraq's Parliament voted U.S. troops out,United States has no plans to withdraw troops from Iraq. State Department Spokesperson, U.S. sees Iraq as a strategic partner not just on security but security, on financial, economic, and diplomatic partnerships. The U.S. wants to be a Friend to a sovereign, prosperous, and stable Iraq. U.S. troops are located at nine different bases and number 5200 soldiers. They, including contractors and subcontractors, remained in Iraq to help local forces contain ISIS and stop Iran’s influence in the region.

The Iraqi Parliament asked the U.S. for a pullout plan. After Trump’s decision to kill Soleimani, the future of the U.S. presence in the Middle East is not bright.

Secretary of State Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Esper made clear statements that U.S. military presence will continue in Iraq.

Is the U.S. ready to embrace peace with all who seek it?

President Trump called to the people and leaders of Iran: “We want you to have a future and a great future—one that you deserve, one of prosperity at home, and harmony with the nations of the world. The U.S. is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.”

It was seen as a positive message to reduce tension. At the same time, U.S. Ambassador to United Nations Kelly Craft sent a letter to the UN Security Council, offering to prepare to engage without preconditions in serious negotiations with Iran to prevent further endangerment of international peace and security or escalation by the Iranian regime. 

Global Actors Urged to Pull Out of a Nuclear Agreement

President Trump made a new proposal and stated that the U.S. is “ready for a new and better” nuclear agreement with Iran. He also blamed President Obama for the 2015 Iran deal, which sought to limit Iran’s capability to establish a nuclear weapon in exchange for the lifting of financial sanctions.

President Trump also said: “As long as I am President of the U.S., Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.” He added: “Iran must abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism. The time has come for the UK, Germany, France, Russia, and China to recognize this reality.”

NATO’s Presence in the Middle East

President Trump asked NATO Secretary-General about giving more contributions in Iraq. He also suggested that NATO establish a NATO-ME (Middle East) Unit in the region. 

A small NATO training division in Iraq suspended its activities during Iran’s missile attack. Secretary-General has also condemned the Iranian missile attacks on the U.S. and the coalition forces in Iraq. NATO called on Iran to refrain from further violence.

The Secretary-General will be meeting with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq, Mr. Abdul Karim Hashim Aboualgus, at the NATO Headquarters on January 14th.

The U.S. introduced new sanctions on Iran.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin announced new sanctions on Iran's metal exports and eight senior Iranian officials at the exclusive White House Press Briefing.

Trump Administration is evident in the continuation of sanctions against Iran. "Today's sanctions are part of our commitment to stop the Iranian regime's global terrorist activities," said Secretary Pompeo.

Unexpected Demonstrations in Iran

Protests and teargas as public anger grow over Ukranian aircraft downing. Iran is facing a new crisis over the Iranian military's shooting down of a commercial airliner with 176 people on board.

Thousands of Iranians chanted during demonstrations against President Rouhani and Ali Khamenei in protest against unemployment, poverty, and the high cost of living in the past months.

Ukranian Plane Crash in Iran

Iranian ballistic missiles shot down the Ukranian plane after Iran launched strikes on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops. First, Iranian officials have rejected allegations that they tried to orchestrate a cover-up; however, Iran has admitted it unintentionally shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, blaming human error and the U.S.

There are also questions as to why Iran let a commercial flight take off during the airstrikes.

Two official statements came from Canada and Ukraine. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “We will not rest until there are justice and accountability,” and Ukraine President called for the perpetrators to be held accountable.

War Powers Resolution-Democrats

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to limit Trump’s military action against Iran without Congressional approval and rebuked the president over his use of military power in the Middle East.

The vote was 224-194, and 8 Democrats voted against the resolution.Senator Tim Kaine proposed a similar resolution that is expected to be discussed this week.

Pompeo and Cavusoglu speak during the tensions.

Secretary Pompeo has spoken with his Turkish counterpart a few times during the about the tensions between the U.S. and Turkey. Turkish officials emphasized the need to work with other countries to solve the problem or de-escalate tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

President Erdogan also shared his concerns about the crisis and highlighted, “Nobody has the right to throw the entire region, especially in Iraq, into a ring of fire for the sake of his or her interests.”

As a result, the United States and Iran crisis has calmed down; however, many things won't be the same as how they were before.

Trump administration will continue pressure on Iran with the military presence in Iraq and Syria as well as economic sanctions. The question is how and till when Iran will resist the significant demand from U.S. and NATO Allies. 

Iran's reputation is getting worse after shooting down the commercial plane, killing 176 innocent people.

There is one reality that Iranian General Soleimani was a terrorist and responsible for killing U.S. troops and innocent people in Syria. Soleimani was reportedly by Turkish and many ethnic media outlets that he was a point person for Iran's backing of Syrian President Assad and helped shape the Syrian military strategies in a terrible civil war that began with pro-democracy protests in 2011.

Although Democrats remain unconvinced, Soleimani threat was imminent, even many Syrian and Turkish people believe that he was a significant threat to the region.

2020 is a presidential election year; however, the foreign policy should be a significant focus for Trump administration this year.

Let's see how the future will look with NATO's further involvement in Iraq.

EUROPE HAS TO DO A BETTER JOB ON FIGHTING AGAINST TERRORISM

Terrorism remains an international problem that directly affects citizens everywhere, however Turkey has been unfairly bearing the brunt of responsibility and criticism and requires combined effort from other countries to help combat this issue.

London Bridge stabbing attack suspect Usman Khan was released last year after a terrorism conviction. He killed several people before being shot dead by officers responding to the attack in the center of the British capital.

European states estimate that as many as 6,000 of their citizens have traveled to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS. About a third were killed, while another third remains detained in the region or traveled elsewhere.

There are some 1,200 foreign ISIS/Daesh members being held in Turkish prisons, and nearly 300 were captured during Turkey’s current anti-terror operation in northern Syria.

According to Turkish judicial sources, over 70,000 people have been banned entry to Turkey and over 7,000 linked to terrorist groups or fugitives have been deported.

Europe has not taken severe enough measures to prevent their citizens from joining ISIS and has failed to share useful intel information about these foreign fighters. If an ISIS terrorist comes from London to Turkey and holds a British passport, what do you expect Turkey to do to prevent crossing of the Syrian border other than to send the terrorist back? Europe would rather simply be rid of radicalized people than directly deal with the issue. On top of this, many European countries have accused Turkey of allowing terrorists to enter Syria.

For instance, in the aftermath of the Daesh terror attack in Brussels in 2016, Turkey had alerted Belgian authorities of the threat, but they ignored the intel information. Belgium failed to heed the warning about Ibrahim El Bakraoui, one of the suicide bombers who was deported from Turkey not just once, but twice, in 2015.

European countries have failed to cooperate with Turkey regarding the foreign fighters. Now, many of them are preparing to revoke the citizenships of ISIS members who came from Europe and were later arrested, implying that Turkey should mind its own business.

Turkey began sending ISIS fighters back to Europe last week, however, some European countries are moving very slowly on this issue. Even President Donald Trump said that the European nations have been a “tremendous disappointment” for refusing to take back captured Islamic State fighters currently being held in Syria, and he added that U.S. taxpayers will not pay to look after other countries’ ISIS fighters.

As NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated, “In the fight against ISIL [Daesh], Turkey has made crucial contributions for physically destroying the so-called caliphate. Furthermore: No other ally is hosting so many Syrian refugees, 3.6 million in total. And no other NATO ally has suffered more terrorist attacks than Turkey.”

ISIS has attacked Turkey 14 times and killed over 300 people. So, the question is which country has suffered the most?

Turkish Armed Forces neutralized over 3,000 Daesh terrorists and enabled 320,000 Syrians to return to their homes with the Operation Euphrates Shield launched in August 2016. Turkey is an active member of the Global Coalition Against Daesh and co-chair of the Counter Daesh Coalition Working Group on Foreign Terrorist Fighters. The most recent meeting was held in Ankara on May 7, 2019.

Some European countries are part of the Global Coalition, but only on paper. Many of them have not fought against ISIS in Syria. Furthermore, many European countries have failed to embrace refugees and now create new problems by refusing to take back terrorists who came from their own soil.

This is not a productive way to counter terrorism and foster a stable global community. Today, international cooperation with Turkey is more crucial than ever. EU countries must take responsibility for their own citizens who should be charged with terrorism in their homelands if we want to get any closer to collective peace.

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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