DHS Can Help with the Current U.S.-Turkey Dispute: A Long-Shot Notion

By David North on August 13, 2018

The Department of Homeland Security — if it is assertive and imaginative enough — can help the White House with its current series of disputes with Turkey.

Admittedly this is, at best, a long-shot possibility.

The two countries, each with, shall we say, bull-headed presidents, have a long series of disagreements with each other, as the August 11 New York Times laid out in some detail.

There are tariffs, Syria, sanctions (which have hurt Turkey's economy), the Kurdish fighters who have been so useful to us, and an American clergyman now under house arrest in Turkey. The list goes on.

Classically, in international negotiations, one trades in like matters, and this proposal deals with various aspects of international migration between the two countries.

Further, this proposal would deal with the very public repudiation of decisions made by the Obama presidency, something this administration does frequently and with enthusiasm.

As background, Turkey really wants us to extradite a green card-holding former Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gülen, now holed up in the Poconos. He is the leader of a large, international, conservative Muslim cult, and in the eyes of the Turkish government, he was involved in the attempted coup in 2016. They would happily give up the American clergyman, Andrew Brunson, in exchange for Gülen, but that is not going to happen.

For one thing, the United States has a long and honorable history of not extraditing exiled political leaders. We sheltered Giuseppe Garibaldi in the 1850s and Syngman Rhee, later president of South Korea, in the 1930s and 1940s. The widespread suspicion is that if Gülen were sent back to Turkey, he would, one way or another, soon be dead.

Meanwhile, Gülen's followers have been hyper-active in the charter school movement in the United States, notably at the high school level, where they are charged with siphoning off public funds to the cult through various rental arrangements and shake-downs of Turkish staff recruited through the H-1B program, as both CIS and "60 Minutes" have reported.

In Ohio, a single Gülen operation, a string of charter schools called the Horizon Science Academy, filed for 391 H-1B teachers over several years, despite widespread availability of unemployed U.S. teachers at the time. Of these, 27 were sought to teach Turkish, despite the fact that the incidence of teaching Turkish at the high school level is minimal, to say the least. Are the 27 really needed workers in the U.S. economy, or are they chums of the Gülen movement with minimal skills other than the ability to speak Turkish? Are they still working for the Gülen schools, or have they moved on to other activities, perhaps without legal status?

The Gülen operations during the Obama years, were never thwarted by the administration, perhaps, at least partially, because of the lobbying efforts of The Podesta Group, which was so close to Hillary Clinton.

The proposal, dealing with migration matters only, is that Turkey return our migrant pastor, and that we in turn do something we should have done anyway, years ago, which is to crack down on the questionable practices of the Gülen charters schools such as Horizon and pay similar attention to one of the two Gülen-dominated universities, Virginia International University in Fairfax, Va., which can also be regarded as an unusually heavy user of the H-1B program.

As I see it, well-publicized reports of federal agents visiting several of the Gülen operations would be announced at the same time that Rev. Brunson flies out of Turkey.

Perhaps this rather modest proposal, a win-win deal for both nations, could lead to other successful negotiations between the two NATO members.