Cora True-Frost Speaks About Countering Violent Extremism Efforts at ESIL

SU College of LawAssociate Professor Cora True-Frost recently spoke at the 2017 Annual Conference of the European Society of International Law (ESIL). She presented her upcoming publication, “What Happens to Human Rights When the United Nations Addresses the ‘Conditions Conducive to Terrorism’?”

“The various organs and agencies of the United Nations have embraced state efforts to counter violent extremism.  The UN’s embrace has simultaneously opened opportunities for and created obstacles to its promotion of international human rights,” says True-Frost.  “This panel addressed the numerous new challenges in the fight against terrorism, with contributions on migration law, countering violent extremism law, and private international law remedies.  Practitioners, scholars, and diplomats present affirmed that the panel discussion would be very helpful to their work going forward.” 

True-Frost attended the conference in Naples, Italy, through a grant from the Andrew Berlin Fund via the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism.  The Andrew Berlin Family Fund was created in 2010 when the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs received an endowment gift to fund faculty and graduate student research relating to issues of national security. The Berlin Fund, established in honor of Professor David H. Bennett, operates through INSCT, a collaboration between SU Maxwell School and the Syracuse Law.

http://law.syr.edu/news_events/news/professor-true-frost-invited-by-the-european-society-of-international-law-t

“A Sea-Change of New Issues”: The Jerusalem Post Reviews 10 Years of New Battlefields/Old Laws

ARMED ISIS CHILDREN CAN BE TARGETED, LEGAL EXPERTS SAY

(The Jerusalem Post | Sept. 14, 2017) Though children have always had a protected status in war, armed ISIS children can be targeted under the laws of armed conflict, IDC Herzliya Professor Daphne Richemond-Barak told the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

“If children are holding a gun then direct participation in hostilities rules apply to children… children might be targets and not just victims,” she said.

Richemond-Barak and Syracuse Professor William Banks spoke to the Post in the midst of the International Institute of Counterterrorism Conference in Herzliya, discussing a range of new battlefield and law issues ranging from subterranean warfare to new standards for targeted killings.

The premise of Richemond-Barak’s comments about armed children as targets is that until ISIS started to use children on a mass scale, the issue of Western countries going up against large numbers of children simply had not come up.

That meant that children were victims and protected from targeting as a given.

ISIS’s new tactic of arming children on a mass scale changed that paradigm and required taking a new look at the “new battlefield” and how to apply the laws of war.

Regarding the sea-change of new issues confronting military lawyers on the battlefield, Banks noted that his university and ICT started to work on new solutions to these issues dating back to 2006.

Banks said, “During the 2006 Lebanon War we were here on the IDC campus… mulling over what was happening. It was clear from the circumstances that the framework we had been using in the West and in Israel was ineffective because the fighting was of a new kind.”

He said that currently many Western adversaries “do not use uniforms, use unconventional tactics, unconventional weapons, are failing to follow the laws of war, are hiding in civilian neighborhoods and are [using human] shielding.”

The Syracuse professor said that the legal framework needed to be updated to deal with new challenges posed by non-state actors abusing the laws of war, while remaining committed to principles like “the rule of law, protecting civilians and treating all combatants with dignity according to the laws of war.”

Richemond-Barak added that in 10 years of conferences, their group of US, Israeli and other legal scholars have “always tried to invite a mix of military officials… to get them in with the lawyers because the dialogue is so important, the conversation between lawyers and non-lawyers… we need to impact policy decisions at the operational level.”

Further, she said, “it is important that” many of the meetings “take place in Israel” since Israel is the frontlines where so many new issues arise.

Addressing another new issue, Banks said that the US and Israel were revealing far more information about what intelligence and other issues led to attacks which ultimately led to harming civilians, even if the harm to civilians was unintentional.

One example was the 2015 mistaken US attack on a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan which killed 42 innocent civilians. Banks complimented the US for unprecedented disclosure of how the mistaken attack had occurred and on its disciplining of over a dozen military personnel.

However, human rights groups criticized the US for not fully disclosing how and why its intelligence failed and for not criminally prosecuting the soldiers involved …

Read the whole article here.

Equifax Data Breach: Let the Blame Game Begin

By Christopher W. Folk (LAW ’17)

In the data breach, Equifax blames Apache >>> Apache rebuts—In the end consumers still lose

(Re-published from Crossroads: Cybersecurity Law & Policy | Sept. 11, 2017) In the wake of a massive data breach, Equifax appears to be blaming a vulnerability in the Apache Software Foundation’s Apache Struts Web Framework, according to a post on Apache.org.  

The Apache Struts Project Management Committee’s post goes on to say that the assumption that the Equifax breach may have relied on a vulnerability in the struts framework that was discovered on Sept. 4, 2017. The post posits that this indicates that if the attackers relied on this vulnerability this would be a zero-day exploit since the issue was not detected until well after the attacks which took place starting in mid-May of 2017.  Furthermore, the PMC’s post asserts that this particular exploit outlined in CVE-2017-9805 may have existed for nine years; however, it was not a known issue during that timeframe and in fact the PMC asserts that as soon as Apache became aware of the issue a fix was developed and made available.

PMC’s post goes on to outline a few key steps that businesses and individuals using Apache struts (or any other supporting software) should implement:

  1. Inventory the frameworks and libraries you are using in your software development and products and maintain visibility into new releases, patches, vulnerabilities, etc.
  2. For each of those, create and utilize a process to test and roll-out security fixes in shorter time-periods (e.g. days vs. weeks).
  3. Don’t build your products on the assumption that the software you are using is flawless.
  4. Create security layers: don’t create a situation where a breach from the presentation (e.g., webpage layer) can endanger underlying back-end data.
  5. Establish baselines to monitor for unusual traffic or data flows which will help to identify network anomalies and potential intrusions and exfiltrations.

By way of comment, I have written an open letter to Equifax …

Dear Equifax:

Please wake up and realize that finger-pointing, trying to blame Apache or any other software products—in addition to the incredibly poor-timing of the executive stock option sales before this breach was made public—are not going to help you in the court of public opinion, nor in any court of law where jurors may sit.

As a consumer, and a business professional, it would have been reassuring to learn that the breach was only to grab encrypted records, since that is how you should be storing our data, or to learn that you were giving those executives the boot since the mere appearance of impropriety was tantamount to deceit and malfeasance.  However, you chose instead to state that the executives had no idea there had been a breach days after it was discovered (in spite of the fact that the breach had been underway since mid-May) and then to assert that it wasn’t really your fault since the attacker used an exploit to exfiltrate unencrypted records.  

Furthermore, if you had performed input validation or sanitization then the vulnerability in struts could not have been exploited in the first place (see this post from Imperva).

Needless to say, at this early stage in the game, your handling of this breach ever since it has been discovered appears to be a case study in what not to do.  As your shares continue their downward movement and as consumers and businesses alike start to realize the repercussions of this breach, it is unlikely that you have issued a single statement or taken a single step to help yourself, or your consumers and users.

Several days after the breach was disclosed, some Equifax executives were able to sell their stock at around $145 to $146 per share. Today (Sept. 11) Equifax shares closed at $113.12.  Meanwhile 143 million of us are waiting to sign up for “free” credit monitoring so we can see when someone tries to use this data to steal our identities.  However, as the government OPM breach taught us, data is worth so much more than just identify theft.  Once you get enough data points on a person, the sky’s the limit.

In short, “thanks” for encrypting our precious data, which would have cost you a little bit of money and would have slowed down some of your back-end processes but would have made the attackers work a whole lot harder to grab our data (in a readable and usable format).

Sincerely,

John Q. Public

Christopher W. Folk is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. 

Countering Terrorism (and Russia) in the Age of Trump, with Eric Schmitt


DATE: Oct. 2, 2017
TIME: 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
LOCATION: Eggers Hall Rm 220 (Strasser Legacy Room)
Reception to follow.
A lecture sponsored by The Howard and Louise Phanstiel Chair and co-sponsored with the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism; Institute for the Study of the Judiciary, Politics, and the Media; and Campbell Public Affairs Institute.

Eric Schmitt is a Pulitzer Prize Winning journalist covering terrorism and national security for The New York Times. Since 2007, he has reported on terrorism issues, with assignments to Pakistan, Afghanistan, North Africa, Southeast Asia, among others. He is the co-author, with The Times’s Thom Shanker, of Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda, published in 2011.

Khoon diy Baarav (Blood Leaves Its Trail)

A screening with film-maker Iffat Fatima. Q&A to follow.

Date: Oct. 4, 2017

Time: 4 p.m.

Location: Global Collaboratory (Eggers 060)

David F. Everett Postconflict Reconstruction Speaker Series

Sponsors:
Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs
Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (David F. Everett Postconflict Reconstruction Speaker Series)

The conflict in Kashmir is among the long-standing political conflicts in the world. It has taken a heavy toll on lives, on sanity and on the idea of normalcy. The film Khoon Diy Baarav made over nine years, enters the vexed political scenario in Kashmir through the lives of families of the victims of enforced disappearances. It explores memory as a mode of resistance, constantly confronting reality and morphing from the personal to the political, the individual to the collective.

“Managing Expectations”: Keli Perrin Discusses the Federal Response to Hurricane Harvey with Business Insider

Trump and his administration receive high marks for initial response to Hurricane Harvey — but the real test is only just starting

(Business Insider | Sept. 2, 2017) Forecasters were near certain that Hurricane Harvey would be the most devastating storm to hit the continental US since Hurricane Katrina 12 years earlier.

Perrin … said the administration is doing a good job of both “managing expectations” and not making similar mistakes made by the Bush administration.

But even they could not have foreseen the level of rainfall that would blanket areas of southeast Texas — particularly around Houston. With rains in some areas exceeding 50 inches and flooding that put entire neighborhoods virtually underwater, the disaster will go down as one of the costliest in American history.

More than 40 people have been found dead as a result of the initial hurricane and subsequent flooding. At least 33,000 Texans are now spread throughout more than 230 shelters. Roughly 20,000 homes were damaged, and hundreds of thousands will, in all likelihood, seek disaster assistance of some kind.

For President Donald Trump, this disaster was the first “serious” crisis early in his administration, as conservative news aggregator Matt Drudge wrote ahead of the storm’s landing last week. It was a major question for the young administration: How would Trump and his officials respond to and handle Hurricane Harvey?

A week after Harvey’s destruction began, Trump and his team have generally received high remarks for their response …

… nd after his meeting with federal, state, and local leaders in a Corpus Christi fire station, Trump addressed a large crowd that had gathered outside, saying, “what a crowd, what a turnout.” He added that the storm was “historic, it’s epic, but I can tell you it happened in Texas, and Texas can handle anything.”

Some bristled at the display. Politico’s Josh Dawsey noted that the trip didn’t include Trump meeting with “a single storm victim,” seeing “an inch of rain or” getting “near a flooded street.” But, the Politico reporter wrote that the trip “gave the optics-obsessed president some of the visuals he wanted.” And pool reporter David McSwane wrote suspiciously of the hundreds of Trump supporters who appeared seemingly out of nowhere to greet the president at the fire station, where Trump waved the Lone Star flag and mentioned the crowd size and turnout.

“The turnout of hundreds of Trump supporters is notable because few knew where Trump was actually going,” he tweeted. “Someone organized that.”

But Keli Perrin, a Syracuse University law professor whose expertise is in critical infrastructure and emergency response, told Business Insider that she thought Trump was “actually on script” in his responses.

“He does throw in some stuff like crowd counts or this is going to be the best response ever, because that’s what he does,” she said. “That’s his persona. But for the most part, if you watch his full clips, he’s saying the right stuff.”

Mackowiak said he “probably wouldn’t” have issued the pardon at the time Trump did, but he praised both Trump and the administration for their initial handling of the disaster.

“He is who he is,” Mackowiak said. “There’s a limit to sort of what he’s capable of doing” …

Perrin, who said she’s a “real fan of Administrator Long,” said the administration is doing a good job of both “managing expectations” and not making similar mistakes made by the Bush administration.

“Of course, the Trump administration is trying not to look like the Bush administration,” she said. “They’re showing up, [Trump] was there, he was doing what he was supposed to do. Corpus Christi instead of Houston, he was close but out of the way. It’s almost like they read what went wrong in Katrina and fixed it.”

What comes next for Trump is the push to get federal funding for the recovery and pass both an emergency package as soon as possible, with a more substantial one in the coming months …

To read the whole article, click here.

The ICC & the Israel/Palestine Conflict: Where Do We Go From Here?

Date: Nov. 1, 2017

Time: Noon

Location: Global Collaboratory (Eggers 060)

Carol Becker Middle East Security Speaker Series

Yonah Jeremy Bob is a foreign affairs lecturer and Intelligence, Terrorism, and Legal Analyst for The Jerusalem Post. He has been speaking professionally since 2000 in the US, Canada, and Israel, addressing the peace process, security issues, Mossad, CIA and Shin Bet, Iran, war crimes allegations, BDS, cyber and drone warfare, politics, and more.

Bob has previously worked for the IDF Legal Division, the Foreign Ministry, and the Justice Ministry. He has been interviewed on and provided analysis to CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, The Washington Post, ABC Radio (Australia), TRT Turkish TV, Sky News, Reuters, Russia Today, KABC Radio (Los Angeles), and Voice of America.

“New Opportunities for International Justice”: David M. Crane Hosts the International Humanitarian Law Dialogues

SU College of Law students Sarah Lafen 3L and Anna Patton 3L, members of Impunity Watch, stand with Professor David M. Crane at the 2017 IHL Dialogues in Chautauqua, NY.

As a Director of The Robert H. Jackson Center, located in Jamestown, NY, INSCT Faculty Member David Crane, Founding Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, was on hand to open the International Humanitarian Law Dialogues on Aug. 27, 2017, at the Chautauqua Institution in Western New York. The annual event, now in its 11th year, gathers current and former international war crimes tribunal prosecutors, renowned academicians, and law experts to speak on current issues in international criminal law.

The theme of this year’s Dialogues is “Changing Times: New Opportunities for International Justice and Accountability.”

The event opened with the conferring of The Joshua Heintz Award for Humanitarian Achievement, bestowed on Zainab Hawa Bangura in recognition of her distinguished service to mankind and her achievement in the field of international justice. As the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict from June 2012 to April 2017, Bangura worked—and continues to work—in the pursuit of justice for victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity, both in her native Sierra Leone and around the world.

University at Buffalo School of Law Dean Aviva Abramovsky—a former faculty member at Syracuse University College of Law—accepted the award on behalf of Bangura, who was not able to travel due to a recent humanitarian disaster in her native country.

A second keynote event was a first-time group interview with Andrew Cayley, Robert Petit, and Nick Koumijian, former and current chief international co-prosecutors for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). The ECCC—referred to as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal—was established by the UN and the Cambodian government to bring to trial those responsible for atrocities committed during the Khmer Rouge regime, during which an estimated 1.7 million people were killed.

The Dialogs conclude on August 28 and 29 with public seminars and lectures held on the grounds of Chautauqua Institution.

The Robert H. Jackson Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting liberty under law through the examination of the life and work of Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, Chief US Prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials following World War II.

The 10th Chautauqua Declaration

The culmination of the IHL Dialogues was the issuance of the 10th Chautauqua Declaration. The ceremony was moderated by James Silkenat, representing the American Bar Association. The Declaration was executed by representatives of all the International Criminal Tribunals, including Professor David M. Crane.

 

“Deal Very Carefully”: Robert B. Murrett Weighs US Options Regarding North Korea with Politico

Trump’s tough talk does little to deter North Korea

(Re-published from POLITICO | Aug. 29, 2017) Short of launching a military attack that would carry enormous risks, President Donald Trump has few military options at his disposal to back up his rhetorical assault against North Korea — as some arms control experts and members of Congress fear the president’s tough talk has only increased tensions.

“It is very important to deal very carefully with North Korea. They are [a] less rational actor than other international players.”

Indeed, North Korea’s latest provocation, following a large-scale U.S. military exercise, was seen by many as evidence that Pyongyang has responded to the president’s more bellicose approach than President Barack Obama’s, as well as new international sanctions, by instead stepping up its missile development.

“It makes it a little difficult to continue to be talking about, ‘Oh, you better watch out, North Korea, we’re going to get you,’” said James Moore, a former assistant secretary of Commerce with experience in the region who is now a professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. “Our options are really very limited.”

The test of an intermediate-range ballistic missile on Monday was seen as especially provocative because it flew over Japanese territory before splashing down in the ocean, drawing widespread condemnation.

Trump — who earlier this month threatened “fire and fury” upon Pyongyang — on Tuesday issued a statement saying that “all options are on the table.” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said that ”enough is enough” as the world body planned to convene an emergency meeting to address the latest development in the crisis.

But it will prove exceedingly difficult at this stage for the Trump administration to compel North Korea to stand down by threats or military moves.

Retired Adm. Robert Murrett, a former director of naval intelligence, said there are a range of options at the military’s disposal — but none of them are likely to make much difference in the near term.

They include sending additional reinforcements to the region in the form of air, ground or naval forces. The United States and South Korea could also conduct additional military exercises like the one completed just as the North Koreans test-launched the latest missile, he said.

American and Japanese military forces were wrapping up the war games called Northern Viper on Hokkaido, the island in northern Japan that was overflown by the North Korean missile. About 2,000 U.S. Marines participated, according to the Defense Department.

Kelsey Davenport, the director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association, which supports negotiations with North Korea, said that the missile test over Japan is “not surprising” given the timing of both Trump’s recent comments and the military exercise.

“North Korea often responds to threats with threats and to provocations with provocations,” she said.

Murrett also expressed doubt that additional military steps by the United States and its allies would force a change in behavior on the part of Pyongyang resulting in stabilizing the situation.

“It is very important to deal very carefully with North Korea. They are [a] less rational actor than other international players,” said Murrett, who now teaches at Syracuse University.

Yet he stressed that backing down from regularly scheduled military exercises with South Korea and Japan, as some recommended as a way to ease some of the recent tension, is not the answer, either.

“Canceling such a long-planned exercise would have sent the wrong signals” to U.S. allies, he said, and have a “negative impact on our current and long-term readiness.”

Another military option being raised in news reports is for the United States to position “strategic” weapons on the Korean peninsula, such as nuclear-armed bombers. The Pentagon declined to address questions about whether it is contemplating such a move …

To read the whole story, click here.

Erdoğan on the Warpath with Germany Ahead of 2017 Elections

By Kamil Szubart

On Aug. 18, 2017, Turkish President Recep T. Erdoğan appealed to the members of the Turkish diaspora in Germany not to vote for four German major parties—the Christian Democratic Union, Christian Social Union in Bavaria, Social Democratic Party (SPD), and Alliance 90/The Greens—in the Bundestag elections on Sep.24, 2017. In his view, all four parties—along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel—represent hostile attitudes to Turkey and its interests.

“Bilateral relations between the two countries have been simmering for a while now, and recently tensions have come to a boil.”

Erdoğan’s words are another escalation of tensions between Germany and Turkey, one that has been going on for a several months. Since the 2016 failed military coup, Turkey has increased its foreign policy assertiveness, including this latest attempt to redefine its relations with Germany. But although it might cause further difficulties in political and security cooperation between both countries—in counterterrorism and the migration crisis—Erdoğan’s pressure probably will not have a decisive impact on the outcome of the German elections.

To better understand the ongoing tensions between Germany and Turkey, it is necessary to take a look at internal and external factors influencing relations between Berlin and Ankara over the last months., including the strengthening of the Turkish diaspora.

The German-Turkish Bilateral Situation

Bilateral relations between the two countries have been simmering for a while now, and recently tensions have come to a boil. Firstly, on June 2, 2016, the Bundestag passed a resolution recognizing the 2015 Turkish massacre of the Armenians as the crime of genocide. Secondly, in the aftermath of the failed military coup, Turkish law enforcement and its secret service began a reprisal against political opponents. This action, endorsed by Erdoğan, was criticized by Merkel and the other members of her government. Compounding the issue, Turkey arrested 22 German citizens of Turkish descent and charged them with conducting terrorist activity and espionage. Among them were Deniz Yücel, a journalist for die Welt; Peter Steudtner, a human rights’ activist; and Tanner Kilic, head of the Turkish office of Amnesty International. Additionally, at the beginning of 2017 German authorities refused Turkish demands to hand over 414 Turkish diplomats, high-rank-soldiers, and family members serving in Germany who had sought a political asylum in the country. In response, Turkey accused Germany of a lack of progress fighting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Syrian branch of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), both of which have a strong foothold in Germany.

Meanwhile, German newspapers—based on sources in the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz)—have reported on an increase of intelligence activity in Germany by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MiT). Turkey appears to have collected intelligence on top German politicians, businesses, and Turkish dissidents.

Finally, ahead of the Turkish constitutional referendum scheduled for April 16, 2017, German authorities at both federal and state levels suppressed Turkish politicians who wanted to conduct political rallies among the Turkish diaspora in Germany, a move that angered Erdoğan so much, he compared present-day Germany with the Nazi-era Germany.

Geopolitical Factors Affecting German-Turkish Relations

Pre-dating the above tensions, in late August 2014, Merkel and her government approved material and training support for Kurdish paramilitary units (the Peshmerga) fighting against Islamic State (IS) in northern Iraq and Syria. In response, Ankara refused to permit German transport aircraft carrying supplies to the Kurds to stop at Incirlik Air Force Base. This step forced the Germans to look for an alternative: the British RAF Base in Akrotiri, Cyprus. Later, on Jan. 29, 2015, the German parliament set up a 12-month military training mission by Bundeswehr for the Peshmerga in northern Iraq.

Germany also maintains two military contingents in Turkey within the framework of the multinational coalition fighting IS. The first of them was stationed at Incirlik, alongside US troops. German aircraft conduct reconnaissance flights over Syria and northern Iraq, while troops provide logistical support for NATO aircraft in the region. The second German contingent is a part of the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) component in Geilenkirchen, Germany, which operates from the Forward Operation Base in southern Turkey. AWACS aircraft conduct reconnaissance flights over Turkey and the Mediterranean Sea. Although 17 NATO countries maintain AWACS, Germany is the most valuable contributor to the system.  

In June 2016, Turkish authorities rejected a request for Bundestag parliamentarians to visit German troops in Incirlik. This decision caused another diplomatic clash. Merkel, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier heavily criticized the Turkish decision, and, eventually, as a result of pressure from Germany and other NATO member countries, Ankara agreed to permit the parliamentarians to visit, on Oct. 5, 2016. However, to avoid further disputes, Germany took steps to relocate its contingent from Turkey to Al-Azraq Air Force Base in Jordan. The relocation started in July 2017, but it will take a few months for the contingent to reach full operational capacity.

Unfortunately, the withdrawal from Incirlik has not ameliorated tensions between the countries. In July 2017 another dispute erupted over access to the Forward Operating Base in Konya. On July 13, 2017, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs rescinded its permission for a group of German parliament members, led by Bundestag Defense Committee Chairman Wolfgang Hellmich, to visit German troops there. This escalating tension caught the attention of NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who committed to resolving the dispute. Stoltenberg held talks with the foreign ministers of Germany and Turkey, proposing a consensus agreement to allow regular visits of German troops by Bundestag parliamentarians, who would receive the status of NATO visitors (a designation that means Turkey would not be able to halt their entry). On Aug. 8, 2017, the Turks announced that German parliamentarians, as members of a NATO delegation, would be able to visit the base on Sept. 8, 2017.

The Turkish Diaspora in Germany

The Turkish diaspora in Germany is 3 million strong, with 800,000 Turks holding German citizenship and 530,000 possessing dual German and Turkish citizenship. However, the diaspora represents only about 2.2% of all eligible voters in Germany. These numbers nevertheless allow the Turkish authorities to transfer to Germany certain political disputes and internal conflicts, including violent clashes between supporters and opponents of Erdoğan, which have taken place in the streets of German cities. Conversely, the political situation in Turkey is being influenced by the emigrants, whose support of Erdoğan is growing.

Influence of the diaspora in Germany is also fueled by Turkish intelligence, which provides support to Turkish nationalist organizations such as the Gray Wolves, the Turkish Federation in Germany (ADÜTDF), and the National Action Party (MHP), as well as combating the Turkish (Gülen Movement) and Kurdish opposition movements (PKK and PYD). MiT intelligence also appears to be running a propaganda and disinformation campaign targeting the German authorities and top politicians. For this purpose, it uses Turkish media outlets operating in Germany.

It’s worth mentioning that, although its overall electoral influence is small, the Turkish diaspora often has a high electoral turnout. In the last two Bundestag elections, Turkish voters went to the polls in high numbers: 71.5% (2013) and 70.8% (2009). In recent years, the center-left and left parties—such as SPD and the Greens—have dominated the Turkish vote. In the 2009 Bundestag elections, SPD received 50.2% and the Greens 31%. In the 2013 Bundestag elections, SPD acquired 64%, the Greens 12%, and the Left (die Linke) 11% votes.

Erdoğan’s popularity among members of the Turkish diaspora should not have a decisive impact on the outcome of the 2017 elections because of the negligible importance of Turkish votes in the context of the whole country. But Turkish votes might affect individual parties, such as the SPD, possibly undermining the party’s current position within the Turkish community and contributing to the party’s decline.

Conclusion: Erdoğan at the Poker Table

President Erdoğan wants to consolidate his support in Turkey. To achieve this goal, he is turning to foreign policy and foreign relations strategies with his country’s most important partners. According to Erdoğan, relations between Turkey and Germany remain asymmetric, and Turkey is the side that is being abused by its powerful counterpart. Therefore, Erdoğan thinks he needs to be assertive and to be seen as a powerful political leader who strongly articulates his nation’s interests.

Indeed, Erdoğan feels emboldened by his latest political successes, such as his Justice and Development Party (AKP) winning the 2015 political elections and the outcome of the 2017 constitutional referendum. He also continues the process of growing ties with Russia, which becomes a vital partner for Turkey and which, in his view, could be a substitute of Turkish relations with its partners from NATO and the European Union (EU).

Regarding geopolitics, Erdoğan holds a key card: he can moderate the migration crisis through stopping or allowing uncontrolled migrants from Syria to enter the EU. This migration flow is an essential factor in German politics, for the country has already taken 1.2 million migrants from the Middle East and North Africa regions. Conversely, Berlin could hypothetically put pressure on Turkey by using economic measures, freezing German direct investments in Turkey, for instance, or limiting the tourism industry by continuing issuing security alerts for German tourists planning visits to Turkey. Moreover, Germany, as the political and economic leader of the EU, can suspend the talks on Turkey’s accession to the EU. However, such steps will not be implemented before the 2017 elections, due to fears of protests or social unrest by members of the Turkish diaspora.

Another card Erdoğan holds is the role his country plays in the NATO coalition fight against IS. The United States, especially, relies on Incirlik Air Force Base, flying missions out of the base and storing tactical nuclear weapons there (within the framework of NATO’s Nuclear Sharing Policy).

US President Donald J. Trump might be considered Erdoğan’s “wild card,” allowing the Turkish president to continue his aggressive rhetoric against Germany. Since the beginning of his presidency, Trump has been paying less attention than his predecessor to citizens’ rights, political pluralism, and democratic values, while arguably focusing more on the efficiency of the fight against terrorism, in which Turkey plays a crucial role despite its severe violations of democratic standards. Lack of criticism from Trump has meant that that responsibility for criticizing Turkey has been taken up by Chancellor Merkel, who has in the past few years become Erdoğan’s main political enemy.

INSCT Research and Practice Associate Kamil Szubart is a 2017 visiting fellow at INSCT, via the Kosciuszko Foundation. He works as an analyst for the Institute for Western Affairs in Poznan, Poland, where he is responsible for German foreign and security policy, transatlantic relations, Islamic threats in German-native-speaking countries and topics related to NATO, CSDP, OSCE, and the UN. Currently, he is working on a doctoral dissertation examining US-German relations in the field of international security since 9/11.