The greater impact of designation, though, would be political. In branding the Turkish IHH a terrorist entity, the United States would be sending a signal that it supports the Egyptian-Israeli blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza and that efforts to break it will not be taken lightly.
Though the current inquiries were triggered by the flotilla, Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey is a serious professional known for being meticulously careful. "This would not be a political designation; the evidence would need to meet the approval of Justice Department lawyers, based on the facts of the case and available intelligence," explains former Treasury analyst Jonathan Schanzer, who is vice president of research at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (where this journalist is an adjunct fellow).
With investigations already under way, a bipartisan letter co-signed by Berman, the deeply respected foreign-policy dean of the House, undoubtedly will give an extra push in case there are jitters about taking an action that could adversely impact the U.S. relationship with Turkey.
As the counterterrorism professionals in the Obama administration grapple with the question of designating the suddenly high-profile group, many State Department diplomats and even some White House strategists presumably will worry about the inevitable political fallout.
Should the Obama administration designate the Turkish IHH a terrorist organization, it would place additional strains on the once-strong U.S.-Turkey relationship. Then again, many experts think no amount of wooing will win over the current Islamist regime. The key to restoring the relationship to its previous strength, in other words, is simply for Turks to vote out Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AKP Party.
"This designation, if the administration allows it to go forward, would be a long-overdue recognition of what we already know," Schanzer notes. "Turkey has gone to the Iranian axis."
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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