Trump’s Connections With Dictators

Trump’s connections with a large number of dictatorships has raised several questions about his morality and political convictions. Since he became president, numerous human rights organizations have protested against him for welcoming human rights violators onto US soil. However, Trump has always denied those accusations, claiming that classic tyrants such as Al-Sisi (Egypt) and Erdogan (Turkey) are US allies who lead free countries.

Despite Trump’s efforts to manipulate public opinion, the recent visit of the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan caused a political earthquake. During his visit to the Turkish embassy in Washington DC on Monday, Erdogan ordered his bodyguards to attack people who were peacefully protesting against him. As result, a number of protesters were injured and needed medical assistance. A few hours before that regrettable incident, Trump said:

We have had a great relationship and we will make it even better.”

Today, we face a new enemy in the fight against terrorism, and again we seek to face this threat together.”

Amnesty International said the meeting was, “an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the way that President Trump and President Erdogan are contributing to a global climate of toxic and dehumanizing politics.”

President Trump recently praised President Erdogan for winning a referendum in which dissenting opinions were ruthlessly suppressed, yet President Trump has been silent on Turkey’s alarming crackdown on the media,” said Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA.

“The world will be watching, hoping that both presidents will reaffirm their commitments to protecting human rights.”

Despite Erdogan’s criminal act onto US soil, Trump said,

it was a great honor to welcome the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the White House today.”

Numerous Republicans and Democrats have come together to condemn Erdogan’s crime. Senator John McCain said,

We should throw their ambassador the hell out of the United States of America. This is the United States of America. This isn’t Turkey; this isn’t a third-world country, and this kind of thing cannot go un-responded to diplomatically.”

McCain added: “It should have repercussions, including identifying these people and bringing charges against them.After all, they violated American laws.”

Later in the day Wednesday, McCain and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., sent a joint letter to Erdogan to express their “grave concern” with the behavior of his security detail.

“The actions of your staff violate the constitutional protections of freedom of the press and freedom of assembly enjoyed by all Americans. Your staff’s blatant violation of these rights on American soil is an affront to those freedoms, and reflects poorly on your government,” the letter said. “We have long supported Turkey as a member of NATO and a key US ally in the region, and we expect conduct more appropriate to our decades-long partnership.”

Also on Wednesday, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., called for the arrest and prosecution of members of Erdogan’s security detail.

If Erdogan’s bodyguards who participated in this attack have entered the country on diplomatic visas, those visas should be revoked right away,” Lofgren said, slamming Erdogan as “authoritarian” and “an oppressor” and said that it was “unwise” for Trump to meet with him.

The United States needs to send a strong message that we will not stand by,” as Erdogan brings “thuggish tactics to our nation’s capital,” Lofgren said

Despite the demands presented by Republicans and Democrats, the government said it will not take further actions against Turkey. The Department of Justice added that it will further investigate the facts and will notify Erdogan of its concerns about the incident.

Days after the incident, the Trump administration announced its intentions to strengthen its ties with Erdogan because according to them, he is an ally and represents a free country.

Two months ago, Turkey held a rigged constitutional referendum which gave Erdogan super powers. The international observers concluded that the referendum did not comply with international standards. Under the new constitution, Erdogan can approve his policies without the previous approval of the parliament.

Before the referendum, Erdogan was already abolishing human rights in Turkey. Since July 15, Erdogan’s regime has sacked 138,147 citizens, detained 102,247, arrested 50,987, shut down 2,099 schools, dormitories, and universities, fired 8271 teachers, dismissed 4,424 judges, shut down 149 media outlets, and arrested 231 journalists. Furthermore, detainees are repressed, oppressed and in numerous cases executed without any trial.

Looking at these numbers, it is clear that Erdogan is a cruel dictator who has Trump’s approval. Erdogan’s has not been the only visit of a dictator to the US.

On April 3, Trump welcomed the Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to the White House (Obama always refused meeting him as long as he was a human rights violator.) During his meeting, Trump said,

we agree on so many things.” He said Egypt’s leader has “done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation.”

He added: “We will fight terrorism and other things. We’re going to be friends for a long long period of time. We have a great bond with the people of Egypt.”

In a later press conference, Sean Spicer said,

Trump made clear that this is a new day in the relationship between Egypt and the United States and the president affirmed his strong support of the Egyptian people,” “It was a candid dialogue during which they discussed both areas of cooperation and of concern.”

Numerous human rights organizations protested against Al-Sisi’s visit:

Inviting al-Sisi for an official visit to Washington as tens of thousands of Egyptians rot in jail and when torture is again the order of the day is a strange way to build a stable strategic relationship,” said Sarah Margon, Washington director at Human Rights Watch.

Giving more money to the Sisi government is to the detriment of US and Egyptian interests,” Margon said. “Neither side in this relationship seems interested in promoting human rights, but the gross abuses being committed by Egyptian authorities should compel Congress to keep limiting support.”

As Defense Minister, Al-Sisi overthrew the country’s first freely elected president in 2013. He also killed 1150 protesters in the following weeks. Since then, his security forces have arrested tens of thousands of Egyptians, committed abuses, tortures, enforced disappearances, and extra-judicial executions. According to several human rights organizations, Al-Sisi has arrested 60.000 innocent citizens and accused them of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.

In 2014, Al-Sisi arrested an American citizen who founded the “Belady Foundation For Street Children.” Last February, Al-Sisi shut down several human rights organizations, including a center for rehabilitating people who have been tortured by the government. Al-Sisi alleged that these organizations were funded by foreign countries. As a result, numerous human rights defenders are now liable to face a 25-year sentence. This decision contravenes the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR.)

Despite all these facts, the Trump administration contends that Egypt is a free democratic country that is fighting Islamist terrorism. However, the above-mentioned violations of human rights indicate that Egypt is actually, the harshest dictatorship in the Middle East.

Since 1987, the US has provided 1.3 billion of dollars in annual military aid to Egypt in the form of equipment, training, etc. Obama suspended the program when Al-Sisi became “president” in 2013. However, two years later, he reinstated military aid although now limited to training. When Trump became president, he announced that he would resume military aid to Egypt again.

If that were not enough, Trump visited Saudi Arabia to sign a 100 million dollar arms deal on Friday. On Sunday, he gave a speech on Islam and peace. When asked if Saudi Arabia is a dictatorship, a government spokesperson said,

Saudi Arabia is a democratic country and our most important ally in the fight against ISIS in the Middle East.”

On Saturday, Trump scandalized his supporters when he bowed to the Saudi King while receiving a medal. Until then, Trump had always been one of the most prominent anti-Muslim speakers in US politics. However, it appears from the fact that Trump went there to sign a massive contract that he has changed his mind. By bowing to the Saudi King, Trump has supported one of the worst human rights violators in the world.

In the past, Saudi Arabia has curtailed the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly by detaining and imprisoning critics, human rights defenders and minority rights activists on vaguely worded charges.

Coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia have committed serious violations of international law, including war crimes, in Yemen. The Saudi Arabia-led coalition bombed thousands of Yemenis, including children. It also caused a permanent shortage of basic supplies, water, and electricity across the country, leading to outbreaks of diseases and starvation.

Security officials continued to torture detainees with impunity, and imposing and administering corporal punishments, particularly floggings. In February, the Palestinian poet and artist Ashraf Fayadh was sentenced to 800 lashes and eight years imprisonment.

Women remain legally subordinate to men with respect to marriage, divorce, child custody, and inheritance. They cannot access higher education, take paid employment or travel abroad without the approval of their male guardian. Women also remain banned from driving.

Courts have continued to impose death sentences including for non-violent crimes. Many defendants are sentenced to death after unfair trials by courts that convict them without adequately investigating allegations that their “confessions” were coerced, including with torture. On January 2 authorities reportedly carried out 47 executions, 43 by beheading and four by shooting, in 12 locations around the country.

With this record, it appears that not even Trump could deny that Saudi Arabia is a dictatorship. He is not the first president to have good relations with the Saudi Kingdom: Obama and Clinton also had strong ties with the dictatorship, but never at the current high level.

Trump’s motivations to strengthen his relationships with dictators are unclear. Moreover, he criticized this style of politics until he became president. Perhaps Trump has realized that dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia are more powerful than the US.

What is clear is that by strengthening his ties to dictators, Trumps is indirectly endorsing their violations of human rights. For that reason, there is increasing concern that Trump may try to install a new dictatorship in the US. It is important to remember that the US system was created to prevent these scenarios. But if most republicans support his mental gymnastics, he may soon turn the US system into a “Banana republic.”

So far, Trump has appointed a republican as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. This greatly strengthens his position with respect to the judiciary, increasing the likelihood of ultimate success for any laws passed by his Republican allies in Congress. However, US citizens will be crucial in stopping Trump’s plans. Bad results for Republicans in the mid-term Congress and Senate elections in 2018 would open the door for an internal rebellion, leading to Trump’s impeachment. Given what we have seen so far, the words “IMPEACHMENT” and “DICTATORSHIP” will be the most popular words of the coming year.

James Comey’s Dismissal: A Nixonian Move

On Tuesday night, Trump unexpectedly fired the director of the FBI James Comey, alleging that he had lost confidence in him after the latter mishandled the investigation of Clinton’s email. This move comes after US Attorney General Jeff Sessions was ordered to find reasons to recommend that Trump dismiss Comey. These facts have raised concerns among opposition and civil rights organizations. They think Comey’s firing was intentionally done to hide misconduct last year by the Trump campaign

After receiving the news, Democrats contended that the fact that Sessions advised Trump to terminate Comey was deeply troubling. Even more so since Sessions had recused himself from any investigation into Russian meddling a few weeks ago. This fact raises several questions about his real involvement with this potential collusion.

At the time Comey was fired, he was carrying out an investigation into a possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian administration in order to help him win the last election. According to several sources, Comey was getting close to finding clear evidence directly linking Trump with the Kremlin.

Comey learned of his dismissal from televisions tuned to the news while he was addressing the workforce at the FBI office in Los Angeles, law enforcement sources said. The source said he made a joke about it to lighten the mood and called his office to get confirmation. In a letter to Comey, the president wrote:

While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”

It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission.”

Trump has insisted via Twitter that he fired Comey because no one could trust him any longer. He also added that the Democrats are behaving very hypocritically since they were all demanding Comey’s dismissal a few weeks ago.

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Trump added,

The search for the next head of “our crown jewel of law enforcement” will begin immediately.” Comey’s deputy, Andrew McCabe, takes over in the interim.”

“He’s a showboat, he’s a grandstander, the FBI has been in turmoil,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with NBC News. “You know that. I know that. Everybody knows that.”

For their part, Democrats and civil rights organizations have demanded that Trump appoint a special prosecutor to continue the investigation into Russian meddling. They contend that if this does not happen, US citizens will have reason to think that Trump is trying to hide something from the public. Democrat Adam Schiff, a ranking member of the House intelligence committee, said:

The same president who has called the investigation into the Russian hacking of our democracy and the potential complicity of his campaign a ‘fake’ cannot pretend to have made such a decision uninfluenced by his concerns over Comey’s continued involvement in the investigation.”

It is more imperative than ever that an independent prosecutor is appointed.”

Civil rights groups also expressed alarm at the day’s events. Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said:

The independence of the FBI director is meant to ensure that the president does not operate above the law. For President Trump to fire the man responsible for investigating his own campaign’s ties to the Russians imperils that fundamental principle.”

Mr. Trump’s accusations came even as officials in the FBI rose to defend the reputation of their former director by debunking Trump’s lies and saying that they endanger relations between the FBI and the White House.

Speaking before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Andrew McCabe, the Acting FBI Director, declared, “it is the greatest privilege of [his] career to have served with Mr. Comey.He added, “I can tell you that Director Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI, and still does to this day.”

Numerous GOP officials have described Trump’s actions as “Nixonian,” pointing out that there has never been a similar situation since the Watergate case.

While Trump is trying to halt any sort of investigation against him, the Senate has called on Comey to testify behind closed doors at the Senate to further discuss his investigation. It now appears that next week will pivotal in determining whether Trump colluded with the Kremlin. Meanwhile, while awaiting for the conclusions of the investigation, there are already numerous civil organizations, including some republicans calling on the GOP to initiate impeachment proceedings.

 

 

 

Can Marine Le Pen Still Win the French Presidential Election?

Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron are competing furiously to become the next French president in the run-off election on May 7. When both candidates won the first round of the election a week and a half ago, most experts contended that Macron would win the run-off vote with ease. However, during the last week, Le Pen has proved herself to be more intelligent than her rival, and it now appears that she has greatly increased her chances of becoming the next French president.

A few days ago, Marine Le Pen launched a national campaign to clean up her xenophobic image in order to convince the French people that she represents them. To that end, she stepped down as a National Front leader to appear more moderate. This action has already attracted thousands of Fillon’s supporters who will now vote for her in the run-off vote on May 7.

Aware that this gesture was not enough, on Wednesday, May 26, Marine Le Pen began to disguise her political ideas by presenting herself as the working class candidate who, if elected, would eventually fight against the European establishment. To this end, Marine Le Pen visited striking workers in Amiens while her rival, Macron, was meeting union bosses some miles away.

During her visit, Le Pen dealt the first blow by being welcomed and cheered by the vast majority of the workers. Her 15 minute visit was enough for her to be portrayed by the media as the workers’ defender. On the other hand, Macron was unwelcomed, booed and portrayed as the establishment candidate when he tried to visit those same workers. When these facts were spread by the media the next day, millions of French citizens began to believe that perhaps Le Pen represents them.

Le Pen’s latest blow came recently when she adopted Mélenchon’s rhetoric in one of her speeches to convince leftist voters to vote for her. She contended that she shares their desire to fight against the European oligarchy. Although it is hard to measure the real impact of Le Pen’s words, Mélenchon’s party, La France insoumise, recently decided to advocate for cast a blank vote or abstain in the runoff on May 7, which benefits Le Pen.

Despite her many small victories little more than a week, Le Pen was involved in a scandal on May 1 when she plagiarized an entire speech by Fillon when she spoke at a Labor Day rally. For an instant, it appeared that this fact would ruin her candidacy. However, her rapid response, suggesting that she did it on purpose to attract Fillon’s voters, has given her even more popularity.

On Wednesday, during the presidential debate, Le Pen was able to bring the debate onto her swampy home field. Although Macron appeared to be more prepared than her to become president, he was not able to avoid going negative against Le Pen. And Le Pen is the best at that.

What many said, that Le Pen would not have any chance of winning the run-off vote, appears to be obsolete. According to several polls conducted before the TV debate on Wednesday, Marine Le Pen will obtain the 41% of the final vote. Considering that a few months ago the media contended that she would not get more than 18%, she still has a real chance of becoming the next French president.

As seen during the last week, it appears that, in the end, Marine Le Pen has been able to disguise herself as the candidate of the working and middle class who will fight against the French establishment. However, the main problem is that Le Pen is simply hiding her real intentions from the public in order to become president. But what would really happen if she did so?

If Le Pen became president, she would soon return to her political roots by trying to install what she has always advocated for: a fascist dictatorship where immigration and whoever who does not support her ideas will be oppressed and repressed on a daily basis. To that end, she will try to implement several measures, like holding a referendum on membership in the European Union or reinstating the death penalty in France (hopefully, she will never use the guillotine to behead prisoners as happens in Saudi Arabia).

For those who still think that Marine Le Pen is like Donald Trump, they are completely wrong. Although it is true that there are some similarities between them, Le Pen has been participating in politics since her youth. In addition, she inherited the National Front (her current political party) from her father. These facts make her more dangerous than Trump and also indicate that she is determined to govern by decree and, if necessary, by violating French and international law.

On May 7, around 47 million French citizens will determine the political future of France and the EU. Many of them are not even aware of the importance of their vote. But hopefully, in the end, all of them will make the right decision in order to avoid past mistakes that once spread fascism across all of Europe. The truth is that Le Pen is a fascist imperialist who wants to implement similar ideas to those governments who adopted fascist ideas during WWII.

If you are a French citizen, you should remember that after the election you will not be able to change the situation with ease. So if you do not want Le Pen to bring chaos to France, you should act before it is too late The destiny of France and the world are now in your hands!