Banned for life from US because of support for the Kurds

Why is the US government carrying out the demands of Turkey’s Erdogan, a sworn enemy of Kurds against Jonathan Spyer?

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Kurds receive Israeli humanitarian aid in Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurds receive Israeli humanitarian aid in Iraqi Kurdistan

The Middle East is home to more than 35 million Kurds, whose nationalist aspirations have been thwarted for over 100 years.

Now, an acclaimed battlefront reporter and analyst, British-Israeli Jonathan Spyer has received notice from the US State Department that he is under a lifetime ban for entry to the US because of his support for the Kurds.

His predicament denying his ability to travel to the US for policy forums, consultations and visits to family is truly Kafkaesque. Why is the US government carrying out the demands of Turkey’s Erdogan, a sworn enemy of Kurds against Spyer?

Rod Reuven Dovid Bryant and Jerry Gordon reached out to Jonathan Spyer to answer this question and his assessment of Turkey’s threats to normalization of relations between the Arab middle east and Israel.

Jonathan Spyer is a research fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies (JISS), a fellow at the Middle East Forum and a freelance security analyst and correspondent at IHS Janes.

Spyer is the Executive Director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis (MECRA). He is the author of Days of the Fall: A Reporter’s Journey in the Syria and Iraq Wars (Routledge, 2017) – an account of his field reporting in Syria and Iraq, and The Transforming Fire: the Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict, (Continuum, 2010).

Spyer’s work is published in many journals, including the Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, Foreign Policy and the Wall Street Journal. He consults and advises for a wide variety of bodies in the governmental, NGO and private sectors.

The following are some takeaways from this Israel News Talk Radio- Beyond the Matrix with Jonathan Spyer.

He cites as leading possible reason that the US State Department may have been influenced by Erdogan to ban his entry as a foreign nation. Spyer’s believes that Erdogan’s animus against him is due to his coverage of Kurdish nationalist interests and aspirations, especially in Syria and the Turkish dictator’s handling of domestic and foreign journalists. Spyer has nothing against the Turkish people having traveled and enjoyed his time there. It is Erdogan who has stolen the liberties of his people. He earnestly believes that the US travel ban will be rectified shortly with the assistance of informal appeals of “friends”.

Spyer considers Erdogan’s Turkey as a major disruption in the Middle East fostering destabilization in the region undermining countries.

He considers Erdogan’s threat second only to Iran. This is reflected in Turkish invasion of Western Iraq, the ethnic cleansing of the enclave of Kurdish enclave of Afrin in Western Syria and invasion of northeaster Syria Kurdish heartland establishing a so-called safe Zone.

Erdogan is organizing Sunnis in Northwest Lebanon, he has threatened the triple alliance of Israel, Greece, and Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean offshore energy development thwarting building of a pipeline to Europe by arbitrarily declaring an Exclusive Economic Zone from Libya to Turkey.

His alliance with Hamas and Gaza and activities in Jerusalem are a threat to Israel. Through the Turkish paramilitary contracting firm of SADAT International Defense Consultancy, Erdogan is spreading his version of Political Islam by recruiting Islamist mercenaries.

SADAT is headed by his former military advisor retired Brig. Gen. Turkish General Adnan Tanriverdi. SADAT is akin to ‘green men’ of Russia’s Wagner Group and Iran’s Shiite mercenaries in Syria and Iraq. However, Speyer considers Erdogan at risk of marginalizing Turkey given that his actions have exacerbated relations with Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, and the Gulf Emirates, especially the UAE, through his espousal of the Muslim Brotherhood doctrine.

On the value of the Kurds, Israel and US actions in Syria isolating Assad He said. "Spyer believes the US strategy of pressure through sanctions is isolating Assad. He notes that the minimal US presence at strategic points in Syria has preserved 30 percent of the country’s oil and agricultural producing region in the country’s northeast held by Syrian Kurds. This thwarts Assad’s Iran’s and Russia’s objectives in Syria. He considers the Trump Administration “maximum pressure” campaign including sanctions an effective” low budget high yield strategy” that “weakens and chastens” Assad. He thinks the Israeli air campaign in Syria- the covert campaign between the wars has disrupted the Iranian project endeavoring to supply weapons to Hezbollah via Syria. It has forced the development of Hezbollah’s missile production recently revealed by Israel deepening Iran’s control in Lebanon".