Category: Sarah N. Stern

Remembering Who Our Friends Are


In what has ironically been designated “Operation Olive Branch,” Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been trying to put the northwestern Syrian region of Afrin into a stranglehold. Turkey is now in its second week of bombardment over Afrin from the air and heavy tanks are now carrying out a ground offensive into the Kurdish region.

Erdogan is a brute and a thug, who has made a habit of trampling on the human rights of his own people. He used the failed military coup of July, 2016 to arbitrarily arrest and imprison anyone whom he considers to be his opposition, including dissidents, parliamentarians, journalists, and academicians. Many have been languishing in prison since the failed military coup, without right of habeas corpus, and in 2017, Erdogan further strengthened his ironclad grip on the country of Turkey by winning a referendum, so there is no longer a free and independent judiciary or a free and independent legislative branch. A former member of the opposition party in the Turkish Parliament recently told me, “Every Saturday night, my friends and colleagues gather to read the newspaper to see if they are on the list of people to be purged in the coming week.”

The late Soviet dissident, Andre Sakharov, once said, “One can always tell a nation’s foreign policy by the way they treat their internal dissident population.”

Erdogan is sensing that America is in a period of withdrawal and isolation, and his eyes are set in taking over the Afrin region of Syria. But it will not end there.

Erdogan has threatened to go into Manbij, which is an American outpost, and he is just reckless enough to try to take out American lives.

Bullies like Erdogan carefully take America’s temperature, and measure whether or not we have an appetite for further engagement. In periods such as now, when America is exhausted and war weary after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, all the world’s bullies and moral cockroaches come out of the woodwork.

Syria is the perfect battleground for many of those moral cockroaches. The Iranians want to create an uninterrupted land-bridge from Tehran through Bagdad stretching through to Beirut, and a Kurdish region would be an obstruction the road. Erdogan is pounding his chest with war chants, of course Putin, seeing a wide-open playing field, is trying to flex his muscles there, as well.

Syrian Kurds fought valiantly for us against ISIS, and they have never asked anyone to shed a drop of blood for them.

In Iraq, Kurdish forces fought alongside U.S. forces in Kirkuk, and then when America withdrew, where they allowed the Shiite Militia to control the area, and Kurdish flags are being torn down. They have been subjugated to Dhimmi laws and treated like second-class citizens there.

The Syrian Kurds therefore do have every right to remain skeptical of America’s friendship.

Russia controlled the airspace over Afrin, and Putin has given the green light to Erdogan to control the skies there. As I write this, Erdogan is battling to take over a strategic hill, and the Kurdish forces are courageously holding their own, but their losses are great.

How much longer can the Afrini Kurds hold out before being overrun when they are being attacked by tanks on the ground and bombarded from the skies? Some policy experts have told me that they might be able to hold out for only a week to 10 days.

If Afrin falls to Erdogan it would be tragic. This Kurdish region has offered a safe have to over 400,000 internally displaced persons from the brutal Syrian civil war that has been raging since 2011. These include Sunni Arabs, Assyrian Christians, Yazidis, Armenians, and Kurds from Iblib, and Aleppo and other parts of Syria who have fled to the north.

Earlier this week, all five members of one Sunni Arab family were killed. They now estimate the fatality rate to be around 100 civilians.

What is so refreshing about the Kurds is, with the sole exception of the state of Israel, this is the only region of the Middle East that offers a democratic, pluralistic paradigm for the troubled Middle East. People have actually converted to Christianity there. (Could you imagine what would happen to these people if ISIS were able to get a hold of them?)

Turkey, being a member of NATO, has a powerful military is presenting a formidable force for the Afrini Kurds. However, NATO was created to protect small countries against Russia in the days of the former Soviet Union.

Iran sees theses valiant Kurdish enclaves as obstacles to their hegemonic designs.

It is critically important that we develop some mechanism to dismiss countries from NATO when they have crossed red lines, and Turkey is the paramount example.

In the meantime, we need to send critically needed support to our friends in Afrin, or we will be empowering Erdogan and his Muslim Brotherhood friends, Russia’s Putin, and the mullahs of Iran.

I would like to believe that America is the moral compass of the world. That America is, in the words of John Winthrop “That shining city on the Hill.”

But it begins by remembering who our friends are.

Sarah N. Stern is the Founder and President of EMET, the Endowment for Middle East Truth, an unabashedly pro-American and pro-Israel think tank and policy institute in Washington, DC. 

In what has ironically been designated “Operation Olive Branch,” Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been trying to put the northwestern Syrian region of Afrin into a stranglehold. Turkey is now in its second week of bombardment over Afrin from the air and heavy tanks are now carrying out a ground offensive into the Kurdish region.

Erdogan is a brute and a thug, who has made a habit of trampling on the human rights of his own people. He used the failed military coup of July, 2016 to arbitrarily arrest and imprison anyone whom he considers to be his opposition, including dissidents, parliamentarians, journalists, and academicians. Many have been languishing in prison since the failed military coup, without right of habeas corpus, and in 2017, Erdogan further strengthened his ironclad grip on the country of Turkey by winning a referendum, so there is no longer a free and independent judiciary or a free and independent legislative branch. A former member of the opposition party in the Turkish Parliament recently told me, “Every Saturday night, my friends and colleagues gather to read the newspaper to see if they are on the list of people to be purged in the coming week.”

The late Soviet dissident, Andre Sakharov, once said, “One can always tell a nation’s foreign policy by the way they treat their internal dissident population.”

Erdogan is sensing that America is in a period of withdrawal and isolation, and his eyes are set in taking over the Afrin region of Syria. But it will not end there.

Erdogan has threatened to go into Manbij, which is an American outpost, and he is just reckless enough to try to take out American lives.

Bullies like Erdogan carefully take America’s temperature, and measure whether or not we have an appetite for further engagement. In periods such as now, when America is exhausted and war weary after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, all the world’s bullies and moral cockroaches come out of the woodwork.

Syria is the perfect battleground for many of those moral cockroaches. The Iranians want to create an uninterrupted land-bridge from Tehran through Bagdad stretching through to Beirut, and a Kurdish region would be an obstruction the road. Erdogan is pounding his chest with war chants, of course Putin, seeing a wide-open playing field, is trying to flex his muscles there, as well.

Syrian Kurds fought valiantly for us against ISIS, and they have never asked anyone to shed a drop of blood for them.

In Iraq, Kurdish forces fought alongside U.S. forces in Kirkuk, and then when America withdrew, where they allowed the Shiite Militia to control the area, and Kurdish flags are being torn down. They have been subjugated to Dhimmi laws and treated like second-class citizens there.

The Syrian Kurds therefore do have every right to remain skeptical of America’s friendship.

Russia controlled the airspace over Afrin, and Putin has given the green light to Erdogan to control the skies there. As I write this, Erdogan is battling to take over a strategic hill, and the Kurdish forces are courageously holding their own, but their losses are great.

How much longer can the Afrini Kurds hold out before being overrun when they are being attacked by tanks on the ground and bombarded from the skies? Some policy experts have told me that they might be able to hold out for only a week to 10 days.

If Afrin falls to Erdogan it would be tragic. This Kurdish region has offered a safe have to over 400,000 internally displaced persons from the brutal Syrian civil war that has been raging since 2011. These include Sunni Arabs, Assyrian Christians, Yazidis, Armenians, and Kurds from Iblib, and Aleppo and other parts of Syria who have fled to the north.

Earlier this week, all five members of one Sunni Arab family were killed. They now estimate the fatality rate to be around 100 civilians.

What is so refreshing about the Kurds is, with the sole exception of the state of Israel, this is the only region of the Middle East that offers a democratic, pluralistic paradigm for the troubled Middle East. People have actually converted to Christianity there. (Could you imagine what would happen to these people if ISIS were able to get a hold of them?)

Turkey, being a member of NATO, has a powerful military is presenting a formidable force for the Afrini Kurds. However, NATO was created to protect small countries against Russia in the days of the former Soviet Union.

Iran sees theses valiant Kurdish enclaves as obstacles to their hegemonic designs.

It is critically important that we develop some mechanism to dismiss countries from NATO when they have crossed red lines, and Turkey is the paramount example.

In the meantime, we need to send critically needed support to our friends in Afrin, or we will be empowering Erdogan and his Muslim Brotherhood friends, Russia’s Putin, and the mullahs of Iran.

I would like to believe that America is the moral compass of the world. That America is, in the words of John Winthrop “That shining city on the Hill.”

But it begins by remembering who our friends are.

Sarah N. Stern is the Founder and President of EMET, the Endowment for Middle East Truth, an unabashedly pro-American and pro-Israel think tank and policy institute in Washington, DC. 



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The Iranian Nuclear Agreement Should Not Be Extended


As I write these words, the Iranian nuclear agreement that was brokered by the Obama administration is sitting on President Trump’s desk. It requires presidential certification of compliance every 90 days, and the president is deliberating on whether or not to certify.  

My answer is an emphatic, unqualified, and resounding “No”.

Firstly, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear regulatory agency, has already certified that Iran has been out of compliance with the deal. The most recent IAEA report specifies that Iran has already exceeded its limit of heavy water under the agreement. Heavy water can use unrefined uranium as a fuel, shortcutting the expensive process of enriching uranium to rapidly produce a nuclear bomb. This is happening, as we speak, in Arak.

Beyond that, since the deal was struck in July of 2015, Iran has conducted as many as 14 missile tests, in brazen defiance of UN Resolution 2231.

Then there is the process of verification, which is inherently flawed. Anything that Iran deems as a “military site” is, according to Iranian leadership, off limits to inspectors. These include those “military sites” which we don’t even know about. That means that the IAEA’s means of obtaining critically important information is via a letter certifying compliance written by the government of Iran. That is akin to releasing murderers and rapists from prison and having them certify in a letter that they are no longer committing murder and rape.

And the Iranians gave their own soil samples from Parchin, where explosive nuclear tests took place. Senator Jim Risch of Idaho compared this to the NFL allowing a football player to mail in his own urine samples as part of a drug test. 

Thanks to Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and CIA Director and former Congressman Mike Pompeo, we now know of the existence of multiple secret side deals made with the Iranian regime.  

We know that the deal was not even allowed to be voted upon as a treaty because Mr. Obama made an end-run around the U.S. Constitution, as well as around the Congress, by going first to the UN, and then presenting it to Congress as a fait accompli.

We also know that the deal that the Majlis, the Iranian Parliament, voted on, was more than 1000 pages long, while the agreement that we saw in the United States was only 159 pages long.

The reason the agreement is so utterly flawed is that President Obama was hell-bent on securing this deal as his foreign policy legacy. He basically refused to acknowledge the Iranian government for what it is: an apocalyptic, messianic regime that believes that destroying Israel and America will bring about the coming of the 12th Imam, (the Shia Messiah). Equipping this sort of regime with nuclear weapons presents a clear and present danger to the survival of the United States, Israel, and to the Sunni Arab nations, as well as much of Europe.

We recall that President Obama began his first administration on an apology tour to the Muslim world, and had a difficult time articulating a belief in American exceptionalism. And we know that even until his last day in office, Obama vehemently refused to articulate that radical Islamic terrorism exists.

Mr. Obama and his ilk sees all the worlds actors as morally equal. There is no distinction between those who would obliterate entire innocent populations so that their theology or political entity would reign supreme, and those who would never even entertain such a thought. Such a world view makes one incapable of acknowledging that certain nations, such as the United States, Israel, Britain, etc., are morally capable of possessing a nuclear bomb, because they are responsible enough to use it only for morally correct reasons, and other nations, like Iran, are not.

We know that the Obama administration had absolutely no qualms about deceiving the American people about Iran’s intentions. We recall that Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor, Ben Rhodes, in a May 5, 2016 article in the New York Times magazine, openly boasted of manufacturing the belief that Iran’s new leadership was more “moderate,” and thus willing to make, and keep, a nuclear deal with the U.S. and the West.

Since the deal was negotiated, the Iranians have received more than 100 billion dollars in unfrozen assets, and the regime has been further enriched by corpulent, lucrative deals since the sanctions have been lifted. This has been used, in good part, to enrich and empower Iran, and to help the Islamic Republic destabilize the globe in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and in Saudi Arabia.

We have long known that Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of global terrorism through its support of Hizb’allah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and at times, even Al Qaeda.

By certifying that the Iranians have been in compliance, the United States will be continuing the Obama administration’s policy of willful blindness combined with grand deception about the Iranian regime and its destructive behavior. 

We are now witnessing how North Korea’s possession of a nuclear bomb is allowing them to threaten its neighbors, Japan and South Korea, with almost total impunity. We now have a tiny window of opportunity to prevent this from happening with Iran. President Trump should seize this opportunity and refuse to certify that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal.

We can’t afford another rogue regime able to threaten the world with nuclear weapons.

Sarah N. Stern is Founder and President of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, EMET, an unabashedly pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy institute in Washington, DC

As I write these words, the Iranian nuclear agreement that was brokered by the Obama administration is sitting on President Trump’s desk. It requires presidential certification of compliance every 90 days, and the president is deliberating on whether or not to certify.  

My answer is an emphatic, unqualified, and resounding “No”.

Firstly, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear regulatory agency, has already certified that Iran has been out of compliance with the deal. The most recent IAEA report specifies that Iran has already exceeded its limit of heavy water under the agreement. Heavy water can use unrefined uranium as a fuel, shortcutting the expensive process of enriching uranium to rapidly produce a nuclear bomb. This is happening, as we speak, in Arak.

Beyond that, since the deal was struck in July of 2015, Iran has conducted as many as 14 missile tests, in brazen defiance of UN Resolution 2231.

Then there is the process of verification, which is inherently flawed. Anything that Iran deems as a “military site” is, according to Iranian leadership, off limits to inspectors. These include those “military sites” which we don’t even know about. That means that the IAEA’s means of obtaining critically important information is via a letter certifying compliance written by the government of Iran. That is akin to releasing murderers and rapists from prison and having them certify in a letter that they are no longer committing murder and rape.

And the Iranians gave their own soil samples from Parchin, where explosive nuclear tests took place. Senator Jim Risch of Idaho compared this to the NFL allowing a football player to mail in his own urine samples as part of a drug test. 

Thanks to Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and CIA Director and former Congressman Mike Pompeo, we now know of the existence of multiple secret side deals made with the Iranian regime.  

We know that the deal was not even allowed to be voted upon as a treaty because Mr. Obama made an end-run around the U.S. Constitution, as well as around the Congress, by going first to the UN, and then presenting it to Congress as a fait accompli.

We also know that the deal that the Majlis, the Iranian Parliament, voted on, was more than 1000 pages long, while the agreement that we saw in the United States was only 159 pages long.

The reason the agreement is so utterly flawed is that President Obama was hell-bent on securing this deal as his foreign policy legacy. He basically refused to acknowledge the Iranian government for what it is: an apocalyptic, messianic regime that believes that destroying Israel and America will bring about the coming of the 12th Imam, (the Shia Messiah). Equipping this sort of regime with nuclear weapons presents a clear and present danger to the survival of the United States, Israel, and to the Sunni Arab nations, as well as much of Europe.

We recall that President Obama began his first administration on an apology tour to the Muslim world, and had a difficult time articulating a belief in American exceptionalism. And we know that even until his last day in office, Obama vehemently refused to articulate that radical Islamic terrorism exists.

Mr. Obama and his ilk sees all the worlds actors as morally equal. There is no distinction between those who would obliterate entire innocent populations so that their theology or political entity would reign supreme, and those who would never even entertain such a thought. Such a world view makes one incapable of acknowledging that certain nations, such as the United States, Israel, Britain, etc., are morally capable of possessing a nuclear bomb, because they are responsible enough to use it only for morally correct reasons, and other nations, like Iran, are not.

We know that the Obama administration had absolutely no qualms about deceiving the American people about Iran’s intentions. We recall that Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor, Ben Rhodes, in a May 5, 2016 article in the New York Times magazine, openly boasted of manufacturing the belief that Iran’s new leadership was more “moderate,” and thus willing to make, and keep, a nuclear deal with the U.S. and the West.

Since the deal was negotiated, the Iranians have received more than 100 billion dollars in unfrozen assets, and the regime has been further enriched by corpulent, lucrative deals since the sanctions have been lifted. This has been used, in good part, to enrich and empower Iran, and to help the Islamic Republic destabilize the globe in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and in Saudi Arabia.

We have long known that Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of global terrorism through its support of Hizb’allah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and at times, even Al Qaeda.

By certifying that the Iranians have been in compliance, the United States will be continuing the Obama administration’s policy of willful blindness combined with grand deception about the Iranian regime and its destructive behavior. 

We are now witnessing how North Korea’s possession of a nuclear bomb is allowing them to threaten its neighbors, Japan and South Korea, with almost total impunity. We now have a tiny window of opportunity to prevent this from happening with Iran. President Trump should seize this opportunity and refuse to certify that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal.

We can’t afford another rogue regime able to threaten the world with nuclear weapons.

Sarah N. Stern is Founder and President of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, EMET, an unabashedly pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy institute in Washington, DC



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