Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

“A Liberated Area in the Middle East”?: Western Imperialism in Rojava

Part 1 of a 2 part series

By Leftist Critic | Dissident Voice | May 20, 2017

Over 17.1 million live in a socially democratic, secular state, the Syrian Arab Republic, ravaged by overt and covert imperialist machinations supported by Turkey, the Gulf autocracies, and the Western capitalist states. Their government is led by the National Progressive Front (NPF), with its most foremost party the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party which is joined by numerous radical and socially progressive parties. The NPF’s majority in the Syrian’s People’s Council, the Syrian parliament, was reaffirmed in the April 2016 elections by the Syrian people, elections which were predictably boycotted by the Western-backed opposition and predictably declared “unfree” by Western capitalists. President Donald Trump dealt the rationally-minded Syrians a blow that goes beyond his ill-fated show of strength manifested in the cruise missile attacks last month: direct US support of the Syrian Kurds who consist and are related to Rojava, officially called the “Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria” (NSR), “Syrian Kurdistan” or “Western Kurdistan,” to give a few names.

It is part and parcel of those in the Western and even international “left” to declare that the Rojava Kurds are “revolutionary” or somehow “liberated.” Here is a sampling from their arguments in favor of such a group when challenged on a radical left-leaning subreddit: (1) the Kurds are “very prudent” to get support from the West, (2) they aren’t against the Syrian government, they have “liberated people under ISIS control,” (3) the national borders were drawn by imperialists so “Kurdistan should have been a country in the first place,” and (4) Rojava have stated that they believe “a federal system is ideal form of governance for Syria.”1 This article aims to prove that such pro-Rojava perspectives are an unfounded and dangerous form of international solidarity.

US imperialist support for the Kurdish cause

Only a few days ago, Trump approved a Pentagon plan which would “directly arm Kurdish forces fighting in Syria,” specifically the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) comprised of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Syrian Arab Coalition (SAC), all of which are elements of Rojava.2 The US plans to use these groups to “mount an assault on Raqqa,” the de facto capital of Daesh, called ISIS in the West, which sits in the heart of Syria. The arming of such forces is a reversal of Obama-era policy but only to an extent. The armed support, according to one account, would consist of “small arms, machine guns, ammunition, armored vehicles, trucks and engineering equipment.” Another account added that these fighters would receive “U.S.-manufactured night-vision goggles, rifles and advanced optics,” all of which are used by US special operations forces. As a result, YPG fighters would begin to “bear strong similarities to other American-trained foreign special forces.”This support may relate to possibly imminent “massive invasion of Syria” by US and Jordanian forces in an effort to support their Free Syrian Army (FSA) proxies and enter areas adjacent to those controlled by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).

The US claimed it had been in “constant contact” with the Turks to assure them the Kurdish troops would not have “any role in stabilizing or ruling Raqqa after the operation,” with “local Arabs” (undoubtedly those chosen by the US and the West) governing the city afterwards. The Turks, who want the Western-backed FSA to lead the offensive, have been engaging in military strikes on PKK (Kurdish Worker’s Party) and YPG fighters within Iraq and Syria, which affects US special ops forces directly helping theses groups. The Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, which has a complicated but still imperial inter-relationship with the US, Nurettin Canikli, showed his anger on May 10 when he said that “the supply of arms to the YPG is unacceptable. Such a policy will benefit nobody.” This position isn’t a surprise since the Turks see the YPG as a branch of the PKK and are undoubtedly strongly anti-Kurd. Predictably the announcement of direct armament was received well by the Rojava forces. A SDF spokesman said that “the US decision to arm the YPG… is important and will hasten the defeat of terrorism” and Saleh Muslim, co-chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), another Rojava element, declared that “the Raqqah campaign is running in parallel with the international coalition against terrorism. It’s natural that they would provide weapons” to such Kurdish forces. Keep in mind this is the same person who called for the US to expand its military strikes on the Syrian government to other groups with purported chemical weapons, saying that Trump’s cruise missile attack will “yield positive results.”

Anyone with sense knows he is wrong. Arming of these Kurds will be cheered by the editorial boards of the bourgeois Chicago Tribune and Bloomberg News, former imperial diplomat Antony “Tony” John Blinken, and the president of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria (KNAS), Sherkoh Abbas, among many others.3

The same day that the organs of US imperialism announced that these Kurds would get arms directly from the war machine, Trump declared a “national emergency” in regard to Syria.4 He called the country’s government an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States” saying that it supported terrorism, undermined US and international efforts to “stabilize” Iraq, brutalized the Syrian people, generated “instability throughout the region,” and called for regime change, saying that there should be a “political transition in Syria” that will benefit the US capitalist class. This declaration in particular, released the same day as similar reauthorizations of other Obama era “national emergency” orders for the Central African Republic and Yemen, buttressed a 2012 executive order which delineated sanctions on the state of Syria! All in all, the Western imperialists know that Syria does not constitute this “threat” but they choose to portray it that way in order to justify continued massive war spending, which comprises at least half of the US federal budget.

Beyond these declarations, the US support for the “good” Kurds (“Good” by Western standards) is nothing new, mainly since 2014. The bourgeois media has reported, especially since January, about the “U.S.-Kurdish alliance” consisting of the US support of the SDF and YPG as effective front forces to “fight ISIS,” angering the Turks who consider such forces to be utterly hostile since they see it as an extension of the PKK, but the US imperialists care little about this gripe.5 The US is supporting these forces with 500 US special ops forces (half of the 1000 US troops stationed in the country), armored vehicles, and warplanes as “air support” for their offensives, along with some arms, even prior to the recent announcement. Some call these forces, which have been attacked by Turkey in the past and “accidentally” by US bombs, as “the vanguard of U.S. proxy forces on the ground” in Syria, undoubtedly dismaying two deluded Marxists who thought they were fighting for an “egalitarian utopia.”6

Such individuals should not be surprised. After all, a top US commander has defended YPG actions, claiming that they did not attack into Turkey, almost serving as a de facto spokesperson of the group. Lest us forget a press conference just last month where US Colonel John Dorrian, spokesperson for the US-led coalition bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan, slyly admits that the YPG, Peshmerga, PKK, and SDF/SAC are partners in their “anti-Daesh” bombing efforts. Additionally, such Kurdish forces have gained other avenues of support from settler-colonist Canada (also see here) and from the Russian Federation, which has given them, according to reports, money, equipment, and a seat at the negotiating table. Russian support is interesting since they are also supporting the Syrian government in its fight against terrorism, making one possibly wonder if their support for these Kurds is for some unspoken reason.

It gets worse. “Good” Kurdish leaders have said behind the scenes that they are willing to cooperate with Israel, the apartheid and murderous Zionist state which has given limited military support to Iraqi Kurds and bought millions of barrels of their oil, in line with Mr. Netanyahu’s declaration that “we should … support the Kurdish aspiration for independence…[the Kurds are] a nation of fighters [who] have proved political commitment and are worthy of independence” and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked who also called for an independent Kurdistan. These feelings add to their cooperation with the NATO criminals. It is evident that with the “help of US airpower” the YPG, along with SDF, has been able to take “control of an estimated 26,000 sq km (10,000 sq miles) of Syria,” including a 250 mile “stretch of territory along the Turkish border,” all of which constitutes Rojava.7 It is even more suspicious that US soldiers are advising and assisting SDF and YPG soldiers. They are, according to one report, assisting them in “targeting ISIS positions with mortars and laser guided air strikes,” with the YPG’s media office even telling local journalists, initially, to “not take video footage of the U.S. Special Forces” so people won’t know they are backed by ruthless imperialist foot soldiers.8

Even so, local fighters of the YPG are reportedly “pleased with the American presence.” In 2016, the State Department openly admitted such cooperation. Mark Toner declared that “coordination continues” with the YPG and SDF against the “common enemy” of Daesh. Spokesperson John Kirby said that the US had “provided a measure of support, mostly through the air” for such groups, “and that support will continue,” adding that “we have said that these Kurdish fighters are successful against Daesh…and we’re going to continue to provide that support” and spoke of a “partnership with Kurdish fighters.” More than these blanket statements, Talal Silo, a former SAA colonel and official spokesperson of the SDF, said the following, which shows that they are deeply tied to US imperial objectives:

It’s forbidden to negotiate with the Russians because we seek for an alliance with the United States. It’s impossible to communicate with any other party and to not lose the credibility of the international coalition. Of course, we are free, but we can not attack if there is not signal from the Americans. We will not unite with the Syrian army against ISIS because our forces operate only with the forces of the international coalition led by the United States. We are partners of the United States and the coalition. They make decisions. There can’t be a coordination between the Russians and us. Because first of all we have a strategic partnership with the international coalition led by the United States.

That’s not all. The US has also provided support to the Peshmerga, militia of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, part of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and escorted a PKK senior leader, Ferhad Şahin or Şahin Cilo, with over a 1 million bounty on his head by the Turkish government, through a crowd.9 The support for the Peshmerga also increased dramatically in recent days. The US State Department approved the Pentagon sending $295.6 million “worth of weapons, vehicles and other equipment” which includes but is not limited to “4,400 rifles, 113 Humvees and 36 howitzers.”10 These armaments, which only need simple congressional approval, assured in this political climate, would be used to arm two brigades of Peshmerga light infantry and two artillery battalions to assist such units. While few governments are on the record as publicly supporting independent or autonomous states in Syria or Iraq, apart from hawkish John McCain, the Peshmerga have been armed by Western European countries such as France and Germany, along with the Turks, while British special forces reportedly lurk within Syria in an effort to achieve imperial objectives.11

Earlier this month, there was another development in this realm: a plan to link Rojava with the Mediterranean Sea. This action, for which they will ask the US to support them politically (and implied militarily), the SDF forces would “push west to liberate the city of Idlib” which Hediya Yousef, a high-ranking official in Rojava said is part of their “legal right” to have access to the Mediterranean, from which he claimed “everyone will benefit.”12 Such an action would possibly empower such “good” Kurds even more, even as it would outrage Turkey, and would require agreement with the Syrian government along with the Russian Federation, which is unlikely. If Rojava achieved access to the sea, they would be an even more “effective” imperial proxy group since Western capitalist states could bring their military supplies to the coastline, rolling in heavy machinery, tanks, and maybe even set up a base of some type. It would be chaos and disaster for Syria of the highest proportions, helping in the disintegration of the region into a divided mess that could be easily manipulated by Western imperialists.

Is Rojava revolutionary?

Many have claimed that Rojava is “revolutionary.” One article by Wes Enzinna, an editor at the White hipster/”dudebro”/trash website, Vice Media, is an example of this. He writes that neither the UN, NATO, or the Syrian government recognize the “autonomous status” of the area, but says that this area, with over 4.6 million people by his count, enacts “radical direct democracy” on the streets, in his perception.13  He goes on to say that the territory is a “utopia” that is governed by an affiliate of the PKK, which includes, but is not limited to, six political parties, including the PYD and Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria (KDPS). Additionally, apart from the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), the Self-Defense Forces (HXP), YPG and all-female protection units, YPJ, protect the region from threats, with the latter two organizations, along with the PYD, major allies for the US in the region. Most interesting is the presence of Abdullah Öcalan, one of the PKK’s founding leaders, with his philosophy used throughout Rojava where he, as Mr. Enzinna claims, “looms as a Wizard-of-Oz-like presence.” It is worth pointing out that Mr. Öcalan, who has been hounded by the Turkish government since 1998, “repudiated the armed struggle and… the independence of Kurdistan,” with the PKK dropping its demand for an independent Kurdistan when he went into jail. He also asked Kurds to lay down their arms and went even further by declaring that there should be a “democratic union between Turks and Kurds.”14 According to reports, he clearly favors anarchist and anti-Marxist Murray Bookchin, Michel Foucault, French historian Fernand Braudel, and US sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein (the only one of the four with credibility), among a litany of other authors he read in prison, which is troublesome. Hence, he called for “democratic confederalism” in 2005, a model used in Rojava.

Mr. Enzinna isn’t the only one who makes such claims. Reuters‘s Benedetta Argentieri declared that the region values “gender equality,” especially in its military forces and has its “ideological foundations…laid by Abdullah Öcalan,” while others have declared there was an “ecological society” in place.15 Many examples of such perspectives, showing that the perception of  Rojava is “radical” and “liberatory” is widespread. Articles favoring this approach are in publications such as the Financial Times, the New York Times, The GuardianOpen Democracy, Slate, Dissent, Roar MagazineDeutsche WelleAFP, CeaseFire magazine, Telesur English, and Quartz.16 Writers have gone on to dub the region “a thriving experiment in direct democracy,” “a precious experiment in direct democracy,” “a remarkable democratic experiment,” “a revolution in consciousness,” and “a Kurdish region… ruled by militant feminist anarchists.” Others echo the same sentiment, calling it “a liberated area in the Middle East” (which is used in the title of this article), “political and cultural revolution,” “a social and political revolution,” “a participatory alternative to the tyrannical states of the region,” “the safest place in Syria,” and “a new radical society.”

Beyond this, AK Press’s A Small Key Can Open A Large Door: The Rojava Revolution, if it is to be believed at all, argues that the PYD launched a plan for the economy of the region which levies no taxes on the populace and abolished “traditional” private property such as “buildings, land, and infrastructure” but this did not extend to commodities such as automobiles, machines, electronics, and furniture. Even this book admits that only about a third of the worker councils have been set up in the region and that there is vagueness on how this region will relate to “other economies inside and outside of Syria.” After all,  much of the economic activity in the region comes from, as the book argues, “black market oil… sold outside the region” and as a result there are looming questions about the mechanics “trading relationships between other governments” if the embargo levied on them by the Turks is lifted.

By saying all of this about Rojava, some supporters may be cheering, saying that they were right all along. In fact, they can’t be more wrong. For one, European Parliamentarians are chummy with the PYD, who says that Turkey still supports Daesh, even as they claim that their meeting with legislators of Western capitalist states is not a form of propaganda. This political party, the PYD, was even left out of Syrian peace talks originally, but later was allowed in, with the Russians, in their illegal and unconscionable draft for the Syrian constitution, decentralized powers, which could be seen as “a potential concession aimed to gain the favor of the de-facto autonomous Kurdish cantons of northern Syria.”17

This is only the tip of the iceberg. The co-chair of the PYD, Mr. Saleh Muslim, has spoken at the British Parliament and has met with the Catalan parliament, where he declared that they are mainly at “war” with Daesh, not dismissing hostile actions toward the Syrian government. He further declared that they do not want to continue “under the old model of nation-state,” which he claims exists in Iraq and Syria, and said “we want to be part of Syria, but part of a democratic Syria.” If this doesn’t sound in line with imperialist goals, then I don’t know what is. It is also worth pointing out that the PYD attended a conference in Western Europe, in Belgium, eight Rojava legislators had a six-day visit to Japan, high-ranking YPJ and PYD officials talked to the Italian parliament and met senior Italian officials. Additionally, Rojava representatives attended a “conference in Athens… to mark the 17th anniversary of the capture of Abdullah Ocalan” and met with French representatives (along with the YPJ). The latter is important to note since the French have supported these “good” Kurds on the battlefield, just like Albania, and even want to open a cultural center in Rihava.

Then there’s the undeniable fact that Rojava has representative offices in numerous Western capitalist countries: Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, and France. Other news notes that the PYD has an office in Russia and has received support from Finland, which has begun “financing projects with development funds allocated to non-governmental organizations to strengthen Syrian Kurdish Region governance.” The only country that has rescinded diplomatic ties with Rojava is the Czech Republic, where a representative office opened in April but was shut down by December even as a story the previous month said that other than Albania, “the Czech Republic is one of the main sources of weapons flowing to the YPG via the US-led coalition against IS.” The representative office, as a story reported, was shut down because “it failed to win the recognition of Czech politicians” and the office seems to have faced problems related to security threats and diplomacy. Also, the “Turkish embassy in Prague [tried]… to undermine the activities of the office” even as Czech politicians see support of Rojava as a way to support an independent, autonomous Kurdistan, undermining the status of this office within the country.

The relationship between the “good” Kurds and Turkey is complicated. In 2013 and 2014, Turkey favorably received the PYD. However, as it currently stands, Turkey has an economic blockade on Rojava, as they attempt to diplomatically isolate them, opposes US support of the YPG, and supports anti-Rojava terrorists including Daesh.18 Turkey has gone even farther than just these measures. They’ve reportedly shelled Rojava, such as the settlements of Zur Maghar and Afrin, which has led to numerous civilians being killed, as Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) expand their military operations within Syria.19 In response, their actions were condemned not only by Germany but by Russia and neocon McCain. If Turkey engaged in such actions, they likely have public support. While Selahattin Demirtas, an imprisoned Kurdish leader of the “Kurdish-dominated People’s Democratic Party” or HDP, who has met with the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, and the Russian and US governments, has argued for countries to recognize Rojava, the Turkish public may think differently.20 Conspiracy theories purportedly dominate the Turkish political discourse and the Kurds, more often than not, are seen as part of a plot against the Turkish nation, leading to support for never-ending war against the PKK and seeming stagnation of political discourse.

Notes

  1. Other arguments ranged from claims that (1) Rojava wants some “degree of autonomy” while not fighting the Syrian government, (2) an independent Kurdistan could be anti-imperialist, (3) Rojava aren’t “disintegrating the region” but are rather “liberating people” from Daesh and will “unify with the Syrian government in the future,” that (4) such people are fighting “a battle for a better life way of living” while using available resources at their disposal, that (5) they have no choice but to ally with the West, (6) claims that Russia is imperialist, (7) that accepting weapons from the West forms “a positive relationship, in the hope for protection from Turkey,” and (8) that “Syria is by no means anti-imperialist.” The claims of Russia being imperialist is clearly incorrect by any reasonable measure, while saying that Syria is not anti-imperialist is a sentiment that hurts international solidarity. The one argument that accepting weapons from the West forms a “positive relationship” says it all.
  2. Missy Ryan, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Karen DeYoung, “In blow to U.S.-Turkey ties, Trump administration approves plan to arm Syrian Kurds against Islamic State,” Washington Post, May 9, 2017.
  3. Editorial Board, “Fixing Syria, Step 1: Arm the Kurds,” Chicago Tribune, September 23, 2016; The Editors, “Arm the Kurds,” Bloomberg View, August 5, 2014; Antony J. Blinken, “To Defeat ISIS, Arm the Syrian Kurds,” New York Times op-ed, January 31, 2017; Ariel Ben Solomon, “Are Syrian Kurds the missing ingredient in the West’s recipe to defeat Islamic State?,” Jewish News Service (JNS), March 23, 2017. Also, the New Republic (“One Group Has Proven It Can Beat ISIS. So Why Isn’t the U.S. Doing More to Help Them?”), Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Ed Royce, The Telegraph (“Water is not enough, we must arm the Kurds”), New York Post (“It’s time to really arm the Kurds”), The Guardian (“Arming the Kurds may help break up Iraq – but the alternatives are worse”), National Review (“Recognize Kurdistan and Arm It, against ISIS in Northern Iraq”), among others, support arming the Kurds, specifically those who support US objectives, of course.
  4. Declaring a national emergency gives the President power to deal with “any unusual and extraordinary threat… to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.” Furthermore, such a declaration gives the President the power to “…investigate, regulate, or prohibit… any transactions… transfers of credit or payments… the importing or exporting of currency,” invalidate acquisitions by certain foreigners and even “confiscate any property” of foreigners coming from a country the US is at war with and are accused of planning, aiding, engaging, or authorizing hostilities against the United States.
  5. Louisa Loveluck and Karen DeYoung, “A Russian-backed deal on ‘safe zones’ for Syria leaves U.S. wary,” Washington Post, May 4, 2017; Associated Press, “Tensions rise after Turkish attack on Syrian Kurds,” Washington Post, April 26, 2017; Philip Issa, “Turkey threatens further strikes on US-allied Syrian Kurds,” Associated Press, April 30, 2017; Matthew Lee, “US criticizes Turkey for striking Kurds in Iraq, Syria,” Associated Press, April 25, 2017; Karen DeYoung and Dan Lamothe, “U.S.: Kurds will participate in some form in attack on Raqqa,” Washington Post, March 1, 2017; Matthew Lee, “US criticizes Turkey for striking Kurds in Iraq, Syria,” Associated Press, April 25, 2017; Karen DeYoung and Dan Lamothe, “U.S.: Kurds will participate in some form in attack on Raqqa,” Washington Post, March 1, 2017; Kareem Fahim and Adam Entous, “No decision yet on arming Kurds to fight Islamic State, Trump tells Turkish leader,” Washington Post, February 8, 2017.; Ishaan Tharoor, “The Russia-Turkey-U.S. tussle to save Syria will still get very messy,” Washington Post, May 4, 2017; Ishaan Tharoor, “What you need to know about Turkey and the Trump administration,” Washington Post, March 30, 2017;  Liz Sly, “Turkey’s Erdogan wants to establish a safe zone in the ISIS capital Raqqa,” Washington Post, February 13, 2017; Sarah El Deeb, “Turkey, Kurds, Russia, U.S. forces make up a confusing, violent pageant in Syria,” Chicago Tribune, March 11, 2017; Agence France-Presse, “Pentagon chief praises Kurdish fighters in Syria,” March 18, 2016.
  6. Liz Sly, “How two U.S. Marxists wound up on the front lines against ISIS,” Washington Post, April 1, 2017; Karen DeYoung and Kareem Fahim, “Turkey deports foreigners working with Syrian refugees,” Washington Post, April 26, 2017; Loveday Morris and Kareem Fahim, “Turkey expands strikes against Kurdish militants in Syria and Iraq,” Washington Post, April 25, 2017; Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Missy Ryan, “U.S.-led coalition accidentally bombs Syrian allies, killing 18,” Washington Post, April 13, 2017; Liz Sly, “With a show of Stars and Stripes, U.S. forces in Syria try to keep warring allies apart,” Washington Post, March 8, 2017; Karen DeYoung and Kareem Fahim, “As a new relationship is tested, Turkey keeps high hopes for Trump,” Washington Post, March 9, 2017; Orhan Coskun, Tulay Karadeniz and Tom Perry, “Turkey’s Syria plans face setbacks as Kurds see more U.S. support,” Reuters, March 9, 2017.
  7. BBC News, “Syria conflict: Kurds declare federal system,” March 17, 2016; Liz Sly and Karen DeYoung, “Ignoring Turkey, U.S. backs Kurds in drive against ISIS in Syria,” Washington Post, June 1, 2016.
  8. Nancy A. Youssef and Wladimir van Wilgenburg, “U.S. Troops 18 Miles From ISIS Capital,” The Daily Beast, May 26, 2016; Jiyar Gol, “Syria conflict: On the frontline in battle for IS-held Manbij,” BBC News, June 15, 2016.
  9. Suzan Fraser, “Turkey strikes Kurds in Iraq, Syria, drawing condemnation,” Associated Press, April 25, 2017; Martin Chulov and Fazel Hawramy, “Ever-closer ties between US and Kurds stoke Turkish border tensions,” The Guardian, May 1, 2017; Mahmoud Mourad and Ulf Laessing, “Iraq’s Shi’ite ruling coalition opposes Kurds’ independence referendum,” Reuters, April 20, 2017; Loveday Morris and Kareem Fahim, “Turkey expands strikes against Kurdish militants in Syria and Iraq,” Washington Post, April 25, 2017.
  10. Eric Walsh, “U.S. approves $295.6 million military equipment sale to Iraq: Pentagon,” Reuters, April 19, 2017; UPI, “US State Department approves arms sale for Peshmerga forces,” April 20, 2017; Tom O’Connor, “U.S. Military Set to Make $300 Million Deal to Arm Kurds Fighting ISIS in Iraq,” Newsweek, April 20, 2017.
  11. Karen Leigh, Noam Raydan, Asa Fitch, Margaret Coker, “Who Are The Kurds?,” Wall Street Journal, August 31, 2016; BBC News, “Germany to supply arms to Kurds fighting IS in Iraq,” September 1, 2014; Agence France-Presse, “Pentagon chief praises Kurdish fighters in Syria,” March 18, 2016.
  12. Mark Townsend, “Syria’s Kurds march on to Raqqa and the sea,” The Guardian, May 6, 2017.
  13. Wes Enzinna, “A Dream of Secular Utopia in ISIS’ Backyard,” New York Times Magazine, November 24, 2015.
  14. BBC News, “Kurdish rebel boss in truce plea,” September 28, 2006.
  15. Anna Lau, Erdelan Baran, and Melanie Sirinathsingh, “A Kurdish response to climate change,” OpenDemocracy, November 18, 2016; Benedetta Argentieri, “One group battling Islamic State has a secret weapon – female fighters,” Reuters blogs, February 3, 2015.
  16. Carrie Ross, “Power to the people: a Syrian experiment in democracy,” Financial Times, October 23, 2015; Carne Ross, “The Kurds’ Democratic Experiment,” The New York Times opinion, September 30, 2015. Ross is “a former British diplomat and the author of “The Leaderless Revolution: How Ordinary People Will Take Power and Change Politics in the 21st Century,” is working on a forthcoming documentary film, “The Accidental Anarchist.””; David Graeber, “Why is the world ignoring the revolutionary Kurds in Syria?,” The Guardian, October 8, 2014; Jo Magpie, “Regaining hope in Rojava,” Open Democracy, June 6, 2016; Michelle Goldberg, “American Leftists Need to Pay More Attention to Rojava,” Slate, November 25, 2015; Meredith Tax, “The Revolution in Rojava,” Dissent magazine, April 22, 2015; Evangelos Aretaios, “The Rojava revolution,” Open Democracy, March 15, 2015; New Compass, “Statement from the Academic Delegation to Rojava,” January 15, 2015; Jeff Miley and Johanna Riha, “Rojava: only chance for a just peace in the Middle East?,” Roar Magazine, March 3, 2015; Felix Gaedtke, “A Kurdish Spring in Syria,” Deutsche Welle, May 22, 2013; AFP, “Syrian Kurds give women equal rights, snubbing jihadists,” November 9, 2014; Margaret Owen, “Gender and justice in an emerging nation: My impressions of Rojava, Syrian Kurdistan,” CeaseFire magazine, February 11, 2014; Benedetta Argentieri, “These female Kurdish soldiers wear their femininity with pride,” Quartz, July 30, 2015; Marcel Cartier, “‘The Kurds’: Internationalists or Narrow Nationalists?,” Telesur English, April 20, 2017.
  17. John Irish, “Syrian Kurds point finger at Western-backed opposition,” Reuters, May 23, 2016.
  18. Meredith Tax, “The Rojava Model,” Foreign Affairs, Oct. 14, 2016; Graham A. Fuller, “How Can Turkey Overcome Its Foreign Policy Mess?,” LobeLog, February 19, 2016; David L. Phillips, “Research Paper: ISIS-Turkey Links,” Huffington Post, September 8, 2016; Natasha Bertrand, “Senior Western official: Links between Turkey and ISIS are now ‘undeniable’,” Business Insider, July 28, 2015.
  19. AFP, “Turkey accused of shelling Kurdish-held village in Syria,” The Guardian, July 27, 2015; Christopher Phillips, “Turkey’s Syria Intervention: A Sign of Weakness Not Strength,” Newsweek, September 22, 2016.
  20. Ishaan Tharoor, “The U.S. should accept a Syrian Kurdish region, says Turkish opposition leader,” Washington Post, May 2, 2016.

Leftist Critic is an independent radical, writer, and angry citizen and can be reached at leftistcritic@linuxmail.org or on twitter, @leftistcritic.

May 20, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Turkey steps up training militants in northern Syria: Report

Press TV – May 20, 2017

Turkey has reportedly resumed an extensive campaign aimed at training the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) militants in northern Syria, purportedly to fight Kurdish forces and Daesh Takfiri terrorists.

Turkish special forces are training more FSA troops in using mortars, rocket launchers and machine guns, Anadolu news agency reported.

“It is no longer the old FSA in the field but a new FSA being born. These FSA members in training will show their difference in possible future operations,” the report quoted an unidentified military official as saying.

The report comes after Turkey declared in March an end to the first phase of its so-called military operation along with the FSA against Daesh and People’s Protection Units (YPG) Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the country would retaliate through a cross-border operation if the YPG poses a security threat.

Turkey deems the YPG a terror organization and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been engaged in a three-decade-long insurgency against Ankara in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast.

On Friday, Anadolu cited security sources as saying that the Turkish military had stepped up presence along its southern border and dispatched armored military vehicles and munitions to the area to respond to potential attacks by the YPG and PKK.

The Turkish military units and intelligence are currently monitoring Kurdish-controlled Afrin, Tel Abyad and Qamishli in northern Syria and the Iraqi border.

Since July 2015, Turkish air force has been carrying out operations against the PKK positions in the country’s troubled southeastern border region as well as in northern Iraq and neighboring Syria.

In early December 2015, Turkey deployed a contingent of its troops to the Bashiqa military camp north of Mosul, claiming that the move had been earlier coordinated with Iraqi officials. Baghdad swiftly denied the claim and ever since has called on Ankara to immediately withdraw its forces from the camp. Turkey, however, has so far refused to pull out its forces from the Iraqi soil.

In August 2016, Turkey also began a major military intervention in Syria, sending tanks and warplanes across the border, claiming that its military campaign was aimed at pushing Daesh from Turkey’s border with Syria and stopping the advance of Kurdish forces. Damascus denounces the operation as a breach of its sovereignty.

Ankara in late March announced the end of its military operations in Syria, but did not rule out the possibility of yet another military intervention in war-torn Syria.

May 20, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

US and Turkey: The Balkanization of the Middle East

By James Petras | May 15, 2017

For the past 20 years Washington has aggressively pursued the age-old imperial strategy of ‘divide and conquer’ throughout the Middle East, Southwest Asia and East Africa. Frustrated at its inability to control national policy of various independent nation-states, Washington used direct and indirect military force to destroy the central governments in the targeted nations and create patchworks of tribal-ethno-mini-states amenable to imperial rule. Tens of millions of people have been uprooted and millions have died because of this imperial policy.

Washington’s strategy of fragmentation and secession follows closely the “Greater Israel Plan” set forth by Israeli politico-military writer Oded Yinon in February 1982 and published by the World Zionist Organization. Yinon maintained that the key to Israel’s domination of the Middle East rested on fostering ethno-religious and regional divisions. Following the Yinon Plan, in the first instance, Tel Aviv signed accords with Jordan and Egypt to break-up Arab regional support for the Palestinians. It then proceeded to fragment what remained of Arab-Palestine into small warring enclaves between the West Bank and Gaza. Israel then sub-divided and settled wide swatches of the West Bank with the collaboration of the corrupt ‘Palestinian Authority’ under Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel’s ‘divide and conquer’ strategy toward the Greater Middle East depended on its placement of ‘Israel First’ officials in top policymaking positions of the US Defense, State and Treasury Departments and the power of the Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC) — the so-called “Israel Lobby” – to control the US Congress and Presidency in matters related to Israel.

The Israeli Mid-East strategy of fragmenting and weakening pro-Palestinian governments thus become the official US policy toward Arab countries.

This policy has not been limited to the Arab Middle East: Israel and US policymakers intervened to undermine the ‘pro-Palestinian’ government of Sudan by supporting a secessionist war to create a huge resource-rich ‘Southern Sudan’ conglomeration of tribal warlords, leaving a devastated region of mass murder and famine.

Somalia, Libya and Ethiopia were also riven by regional wars financed and armed by the US with overt and covert Israeli operatives and advisers.

Israel’s policy to weaken, fragment and destroy viable developing countries, differed from the traditional policies of colonial regimes, which sought to conquer and exploit unified nation-states. Washington has blindly followed Israel’s imperial ‘model’ without assessing its impact on US interests and thus undermining its past practice of economic exploitation of viable nation states.

‘Israel First’ officials within the US federal administrative policy-making bodies played a decisive role in fabricating the pretexts for the 2003 US invasion and destruction of Iraq. They pushed fake ‘documents’ alleging Iraqi ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and they promoted a plan to sub-divide the country in three ethnically ‘cleansed’ regions: Kurds (as Israel’s allies) in the North, impoverished Sunnis in the center and easily controlled Shia tribal leaders in the South.

The policy of dismantling a central government and promoting regional fragmentation backfired on the US authorities in Iraq: Sunni insurgents, often trained by experienced Baathist (former Iraqi Army) officers, formed the ‘Islamic State’ (ISIS), which took over major cities, slaughtering all non-Arab, non-Sunni residents, and threatened to established an independent state. The Shia-led government in Baghdad turned to Iran for support, forcing the US, Israel and the Kurds to declare war against ISIS, while trying to retain the weakened Sunni tribal clients. No viable central government remains in the once powerful multiethnic republic of Iraq.

The US joined Saudi Arabia in invading and bombing Yemen to destroy the Houthi rebels and favor the Sunni Salafist groups allied to al Qaeda. The goal was to weaken Yemen and prevent popular Yemini revolts from spreading to Saudi Arabia as well as undermining any Houthi alliances with Iran and expression of support for Palestine.

The US directly invaded Afghanistan expecting to easily conquer and ‘neatly’ subdivide that enormous region and ‘skillfully’ pit the various regional ethno-tribal groups against each other – while setting up a lucrative and militarily strategic site for launching future wars against US (and Israeli) rivals in Iran, Central Asia and China.

The battle-hardened Afghan Islamist Pashtun guerrilla-fighters, led by the Taliban, and unified by ethno-religious, national, tribal and extended family ties and customs, have successfully resisted this divide and conquer strategy. They now control most of the countryside, infiltrating and influencing the armed forces and police and have driven the US forces into garrison airbases, reliant on dropping mega bombs from the stratosphere.

Meanwhile, blinded by the media propaganda reports of their ‘successes’, Washington and the NATO powers launched a bloody surrogate war against the secular nationalist government of Syria, seeking to divide, conquer and obliterate an independent, pro-Palestine, pro-Iran, ally of Russia.

NATO’s invading armies and mercenary groups, however, are sub-divided into strange factions with shifting allegiances and patrons. At one level, there are the EU/US-supported ‘moderate’ head-chopping rebels. Then there are the Turkey and Saudi Arabia-supported ‘serious’ head-chopping al Qaeda Salafists. Finally there is the ‘champion’ head-chopping ISIS conglomeration based in Iraq and Syria, as well as a variety of Kurdish armed groups serving as Israeli mercenaries.

The US-EU efforts to conquer and control Syria, via surrogates, mercenaries and terrorists, was defeated largely because of Syria’s alliance with Russia, Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Syria has effectively been ‘chopped up’ by competing imperial and regional powers leading to a possible confrontation among major powers. The US-Kurdish-Turkey conflict provides the most immediate danger of serious open warfare among major nations.

Among the myriad surrogate groups that Washington supported in its seemingly contradictory policy of violently overthrowing the Syrian government in Damascus while seizing territory from ISIS, Pentagon strategists have relied most heavily on the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (YPG). The US escalated its military support for the YPG, promising heavy arms and increased US ground and air support. Meanwhile, the YPG expanded its control of the Kurdish regions in Syria especially along the Turkish border, creating a powerful territorial tie of Syrian-Kurds with Turkish-Kurds and Iraqi-Kurds. The US generous supply of heavy weapons to the YPG has increased the Kurds capacity to fight Turkey for the establishment of a contiguous ‘Greater Kurdistan’. Moreover, the US government has publicly informed Turkey that its armed forces will provide a ‘shield’ to protect the YPG – and indirectly the PKK – from Turkish attack.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is acutely aware that the YPG’s goal is to partition Southeastern Turkey and Northern Syria and form a Kurdish state with Iraqi Kurdistan. US Defense Secretary James Mattis’ pledge that ‘Washington is committed to protecting its NATO ally (Turkey)’ is ambiguous at best and most likely a hollow promise. Washington is counting on the Kurds as a strategic ally against both Damascus and ISIS. Only after accomplishing their twin goals in Syria might the Pentagon turn against the Kurds and support the Turkish government.

Complicating this scenario, the Israelis have long-standing ties with the Iraqi Kurds as part of their own divide and conquer strategy. Meanwhile, Tel Aviv has been bombing Damascus, aiding ISIS fighters in southern Syria (with material and ‘humanitarian’ medical treatment) while supporting YPG against the Syrian and Turkish militaries.

The Erdoğan regime is in a quandary: A victory for the Kurdish YPG and their occupation of territory along its border will materially threaten the ‘unity of the Turkish state’. An armed, unified Kurdish presence in this region will result in enormous pressure on Erdoğan from the nationalist political parties and supporters and the Turkish Armed Forces. On the other hand, if Erdoğan launches cross border attacks on the Pentagon-supported YPG it will directly face US ground and air power.

President Erdoğan is clearly aware that the US was involved with the silent ‘Gulanist’ permeation of the Turkish state leading up to the 2016 abortive Gulanist coup. Erdoğan’s scheduled meeting with US President Donald Trump in mid-May may not resolve the impending Turkish-Kurdish confrontation in Syria where the US is committed to protecting the YPG.

Washington hopes to convince President Erdoğan that the YPG will hand this strategic territory over to an amorphous, minuscule puppet Arab-led militia, presumably made up of non-Kurdish collaborates of the US-NATO-Saudi war against Damascus. It is hard to imagine the veteran politician Erdoğan believing a Pentagon plan for the YPG to just hand over its territorial patrimony after having fought and died to secure the region. The US is in no position to force the YPG to surrender its gains because the YPG is crucial to the Washington-Israeli-Saudi plan to destroy the central government in Damascus and fragment Syria into weak tribal mini-states.

Erdoğan’s imminent failure to get Washington support for his war with the Kurds will force him to play his ‘nationalist’ card: There will be more pro-Palestine rhetoric, more opposition to a Cyprus accord, more pro-Russia posturing and the ‘discovery’ of more and greater ‘internal threats’ to the great Turkish State.

Will Erdoğan be able defuse the hostility among his own and independent nationalist supporters?

One point is clear: A territorially-based powerful Kurdish militia, armed by the US, will be a far more formidable threat to the unity of the Turkish state than the previous ill-armed rag-tag guerrillas in the mountains of northern Iraq.

It will be a humiliating defeat if Erdoğan surrenders to Pentagon demands and tolerates a US-YPG alliance on Turkey’s border. Erdoğan has some powerful options of his own: Turkey might deny the US Armed Forces access to its huge airbases in Turkey thus weakening NATO’s ‘southern flank’. A Turkish threat to withdraw from NATO altogether would have greater repercussions. Even the slightest hint of exercising these options would set off a ‘second coup’ against Erdoğan. This would involve a more serious US-NATO-backed uprising by senior Turkish officers, ‘nationalists’, democratic secularists and Kurds in major urban centers with ‘Gulanist’ politicians and bureaucrats waiting in the wings.

President Trump and the Pentagon may gain a foothold against Damascus with Kurdish surrogates in Northern Syria, but the loss of Turkey will be a strategic setback. Behind all of this confusion and devastation the partition of Syria and, eventually of Turkey, fits in very well with Greater Israel’s ‘Oded Yinon Plan’ for subdividing Muslim countries.

May 17, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Western media ‘inflate’ Syria death toll to justify intervention – Assad

RT | April 21, 2017

The Western media deliberately exaggerate the number of people killed in the Syrian conflict to create a “humanitarian pretext” for a possible intervention in the war-torn country, Syrian President Bashar Assad told Sputnik in an exclusive interview.

The official death toll of the Syrian war is much lower than the numbers presented by the Western media and amounts to “tens of thousands, not… hundreds of thousands,” Assad told Sputnik.

He went on to say that the West adds the number of terrorists and foreign mercenaries killed to the official death toll, to make it higher and create an image of a humanitarian catastrophe of an unprecedented scale.

“So, the numbers that we’ve been hearing in the Western media during the last six years were not precise, [they were used] only to inflate the number just to show how horrible the situation is, to use it as humanitarian pretext to intervene in Syria,” the president said.

Speaking about chemical weapons allegedly possessed by terrorist groups, Assad said that he is “100 percent” sure that the extremists receive them “directly from Turkey.” He added that “there was evidence regarding this” and “many parties and parliament members in Turkey… questioned the government regarding those allegations.”

He went on to say that Turkey is in fact “the only route for the terrorists to get money, armaments, every logistic support, recruits, and this kind of material” as they “don’t have any other way to come from the north.”

He also reiterated his belief that Turkey’s actions in Syria, as well as those of the US, are an “invasion.” He said that such actions violate Syrian sovereignty, and that Damascus cannot simply tell them “they can stay” or “let’s negotiate” after they have entered Syria without official invitation.

“It is your land, you have to defend it, you have to go and fight,” Assad said, adding at the same time that “the priority now is to defeat the terrorists.”

He also emphasized the importance of Syria’s territorial integrity by saying that all issues regarding local self-government and “confederation” should be resolved within the framework of the Syrian legal system after the end of the conflict, and should be based on a broad social consensus.

“Syria is a melting pot of different cultures, different ethnicities, religions, sects, and so on. So, a single part of this social fabric cannot define the future of Syria; it needs consensus. So, … it’s better to wait and discuss the next constitution” together with all sections of Syrian society, he said.

April 21, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

US Intelligence in ‘High Confusion” on Daesh, Gas Weapons

Sputnik – 21.04.2017

WASHINGTON – US intelligence remains in a high-level of confusion about the capabilities of the Islamic State terror group (Daesh), including its chemical weapons arsenal, retired US Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski told Sputnik.

“The level of confusion in the US intelligence community is extremely high,” Kwiatkowski said on Thursday. “The political product from the US intelligence community seems incomplete and inaccurate, and likely not the result of an honest consensus among the intelligence agencies.”

The White House has accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of being responsible for the April 4 chemical attack in the village of Khan Shaykun in Idlib province because it alleges that no one else could have done it.

However, Kwiatkowski dismissed this reasoning as superficial and false.

“The White House is clearly wrong with ‘no one else could have done it.’ While it is not completely clear what type of chemical exploded in Idlib last week, we have known about Islamic State and rebel group possession of chemical agents and production of them for several years,” she pointed out.

Daesh and other forces in the region certainly have the capabilities and resources to mount limited chemical weapons attacks such as the one carried out in Khan Shaykhun, Kwiatkowski observed.

“They, as well as other state players or intelligence operations of various states are also capable of ensuring a chemical release pretty much anywhere in the region,” she said.

President Donald Trump and his advisers were misguided in imagining that Assad could have had any motive to use chemical weapons at a time when his army and air force had established a clear ascendancy over Daesh forces and were rolling them back without need to use such weapons, Kwiatkowski pointed out.

“To suggest that Assad had a motive to use a chemical weapon against civilians at this stage of the win is beyond comprehension, and that logic alone should lead to a broad investigation of cui bono, and how it happened,” she remarked.

The US government remains handicapped because it does not have a consistent Syria or Iraq policy, nor does it have a consistent Daesh policy, Kwiatkowski explained.

“Airstrikes launched in the absence of an intelligence consensus and of an actual military and political strategy are pointless,” she stated.

Daesh could have received chemical weapons from several sources, Kwiatkowski also said.

“We know or suspect that various parts of the Islamic State are resourced by Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Qatar, Turkey, Kuwait, Israel and the United States. We know that the Islamic State had been selling Iraqi oil on a black market, and this activity could have included funds to buy chemical weapons and their precursors,” she noted.

The use of chemical weapons by Daesh could now be blamed on Iraqi forces or on Assad’s forces, Kwiatkowski concluded.

April 21, 2017 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Man who exposed Turkish weapons deliveries to Syrian terrorists detained in Istanbul

RT | April 18, 2017

Turkish authorities have detained a former official involved in a controversial 2014 search of Syria-bound trucks. While media reported the vehicles were full of ammunition, Ankara claimed they carried “aid for the Turkmen” and branded the search “treason.”

Former Prosecutor Yasar Kavalcioglu was detained after an ID check on a passenger bus in Istanbul early on Monday, according to Anadolu news agency. Kavalcioglu was put on search list for his role in the truck issue, the Daily Sabah notes.

In January 2014, when Gendarmerie intercepted trucks belonging to Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT), after prosecutors of the Adana province got a tip-off that the trucks were carrying weapons for rebel and terrorist groups in Syria.

The search exposed large amount of munitions under a thin layer of medical supplies in large containers marked ‘FRAGILE’. The discovery, however, led only to arrests of the officials involved in the search of the vehicles.

The truck incident got international attention in May 2015 when the Cumhuriyet newspaper’s website released footage allegedly showing the inspection. The MIT trucks had been carrying over 80,000 rounds of ammunition of various calibers, some 1,000 mortar shells and hundreds of grenade launchers projectiles, the newspaper reported.

Turkish officials made quite contradictory statements after the paper’s report, either admitting or denying the weapons’ presence, denying the existence of the delivery altogether and eventually settling on the story that the convoy carried “aid destined for the Turkmen.”

In 2015, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed that the trucks belonged to MIT, but were merely carrying “aid.” He added that the prosecutors had no right to search the vehicles, and accused them of “treason and espionage” and being part of a “parallel state” run by his political enemies, who are determined to discredit the government.

In the aftermath of the last year’s botched coup, the 2014 truck incident gained a new “understanding,” as a former top gendarmerie official openly branded it a “coup attempt that targeted our president” by followers of Erdogan’s rival, Fethullah Gulen, who later “attempted to turn into a plot inside gendarmerie.”

A week ago another prosecutor involved in the trucks case, Aziz Takci, who has been under arrest since 2015, faced up to 15 years in jail on charges of being a part of the Gulen movement, according to judicial sources, quoted by Turkish media.

April 18, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

US ‘politicians, bureaucrats & academics’ caught in Turkey’s failed coup attempt probe

RT | April 16, 2017

Turkey has launched an investigation to examine whether 17 prominent Americans could have links to the FETO movement of an exiled US-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, which Ankara blames for last summer’s failed coup attempt.

The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched the probe into 17 individuals including US politicians, bureaucrats, and academics after a number of Turkish attorneys filed a criminal complaint against these persons, local media report.

Former CIA Director John O. Brennan, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, US attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, and Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) President David Cohen are among the suspects, Anadolu reports.

Other American residents caught in the probe include Henri Barkey, Director of the Middle East Program at Wilson Center former CIA figure Graham E. Fuller, and President of the Turkic American Alliance (TAA) Faruk Taban.

Schumer, for instance, is being suspected of receiving millions of dollars from Gulen’s movement and representing his organizational interests in the US.

Fuller, a former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA, allegedly was a sponsor for Gulen when he applied for a US residence permit.

The individuals are being accused of conspiracy to overthrow the Turkish government and are suspected to have links with FETO. Alleged evidence of their involvement with the Gulen movement has been submitted to the prosecutors, Turkish media report.

Gulen leads the popular Islamic transnational religious and social movement called Hizmet, believed to be funding numerous businesses, think tanks, private schools, and publishing houses around the world. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the prominent cleric and his group of masterminding the failed coup in Turkey on July 15, 2015.

Gulen, once an Erdogan ally, is now living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. Ankara has repeatedly demanded his extradition to investigate his alleged participation in the coup attempt, as well as that of Hizmet, known as FETO in Turkey, and considered a terrorist organization by Ankara. The 74-year-old has denied any involvement in the failed coup plot.

Suspected Gulen followers, known as Gulenists, allegedly infiltrated all layers of Turkish society and have been persecuted and hunted down in Turkey in a massive crackdown on Erdogan’s opposition which followed the events in July 2016.

More than 100,000 people were fired from their jobs and around 30,000 detained, including teachers, journalists, security personnel and army officers.

April 16, 2017 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Trump Enlisting in the War Party?

By Pat Buchanan • Unz Review • April 11, 2017

By firing off five dozen Tomahawk missiles at a military airfield, our “America First” president may have plunged us into another Middle East war that his countrymen do not want to fight.

Thus far Bashar Assad seems unintimidated. Brushing off the strikes, he has defiantly gone back to bombing the rebels from the same Shayrat air base that the U.S. missiles hit.

Trump “will not stop here,” warned U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Sunday. “If he needs to do more, he will.”

If Trump fails to back up Haley’s threat, the hawks now cheering him on will begin deriding him as “Donald Obama.”

But if he throbs to the war drums of John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio and orders Syria’s air force destroyed, we could be at war not only with ISIS and al-Qaida, but with Syria, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.

A Syrian war would consume Trump’s presidency.

Are we ready for that? How would we win such a war without raising a large army and sending it back into the Middle East?

Another problem: Trump’s missile attack was unconstitutional. Assad had not attacked or threatened us, and Congress, which alone has the power to authorize war on Syria, has never done so.

Indeed, Congress denied President Obama that specific authority in 2013.

What was Trump thinking? Here was his strategic rational:

“When you kill innocent children, innocent babies — babies, little babies — with a chemical gas … that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line. … And I will tell you, that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me … my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.”

Two days later, Trump was still emoting: “Beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”

Now, that gas attack was an atrocity, a war crime, and pictures of its tiny victims are heart-rending. But 400,000 people have died in Syria’s civil war, among them thousands of children and infants.

Have they been killed by Assad’s forces? Surely, but also by U.S., Russian, Israeli and Turkish planes and drones — and by Kurds, Iranians, Hezbollah, al-Qaida, ISIS, U.S.-backed rebels and Shiite militia.

Assad is battling insurgents and jihadists who would slaughter his Alawite brethren and the Christians in Syria just as those Copts were massacred in Egypt on Palm Sunday. Why is Assad more responsible for all the deaths in Syria than those fighting to overthrow and kill him?

Are we certain Assad personally ordered a gas attack on civilians?

For it makes no sense. Why would Assad, who is winning the war and had been told America was no longer demanding his removal, order a nerve gas attack on children, certain to ignite America’s rage, for no military gain?

Like the gas attack in 2013, this has the marks of a false flag operation to stampede America into Syria’s civil war.

And as in most wars, the first shots fired receive the loudest cheers. But if the president has thrown in with the neocons and War Party, and we are plunging back into the Mideast maelstrom, Trump should know that many of those who helped to nominate and elect him — to keep us out of unnecessary wars — may not be standing by him.

We have no vital national interest in Syria’s civil war. It is those doing the fighting who have causes they deem worth dying for.

For ISIS, it is the dream of a caliphate. For al-Qaida, it is about driving the Crusaders out of the Dar al Islam. For the Turks, it is, as always, about the Kurds.

For Assad, this war is about his survival and that of his regime. For Putin, it is about Russia remaining a great power and not losing its last naval base in the Med. For Iran, this is about preserving a land bridge to its Shiite ally Hezbollah. For Hezbollah it is about not being cut off from the Shiite world and isolated in Lebanon.

Because all have vital interests in Syria, all have invested more blood in this conflict than have we. And they are not going to give up their gains or goals in Syria and yield to the Americans without a fight.

And if we go to war in Syria, what would we be fighting for?

A New World Order? Democracy? Separation of mosque and state? Diversity? Free speech for Muslim heretics? LGBT rights?

In 2013, a great national coalition came together to compel Congress to deny Barack Obama authority to take us to war in Syria.

We are back at that barricade. An after-Easter battle is shaping up in Congress on the same issue: Is the president authorized to take us into war against Assad and his allies inside Syria?

If, after Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, we do not want America in yet another Mideast war, the time to stop it is before the War Party has us already in it. That time is now.

Copyright 2017 Creators.com.

April 11, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Turkey’s role in the Idlib chemical attack needs to be probed

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | April 10, 2017

Turkey is, in principle, uniquely placed to call for an independent investigation into the chemical attack in the north-western Syrian province of Idlib on April 4. Idlib borders Turkey and it is well-known that extremist groups (Al-Qaeda affiliates) controlling the province have enjoyed covert support from Turkish intelligence, which has trained them, equipped them and guided them in the past in a joint enterprise with the CIA and the US’ Gulf Arab allies.

Yet, curiously, President Recep Erdogan shies away from demanding an independent inquiry. Instead, he insists, “We have the radar information and we have the forensic reports. Some say Syria does not have chemical weapons. Of course it does. It’s clear which planes dropped it.” Erdogan wants to close the file and move on. He lost no time to extend enthusiastic support for the US missile attack in Syria on April 6 and is beseeching President Donald Trump to revive the “regime change” agenda in Syria. Why such bizarre behavior?

Erdogan’s proactivism in real time has only one explanation – the chemical attack in Idlib was in reality planned with the knowledge of Turkish intelligence. Erdogan has everything to lose if this truth comes out.

Turkey stood to gain by precipitating a situation in Syria that would willy-nilly lead to some form of American intervention. (Indeed, CIA input was the basis of Trump’s decision to order the missile attack in Syria, which of course has severely impacted US-Russia relations.) On the other hand, the Idlib attack was just what suited Trump too to generate a new conversation in Washington that took the heat off him over his alleged links to Russia.

All three protagonists gained out of this cynical game – Erdogan, the “cold warriors” in the CIA and the Russophobes in the Washington establishment, and the beleagured American president himself.

But Erdogan stands most to gain. He overnight hyped up the Syrian situation to burnish his image as the tallest Sunni Islamist leader in Muslim Middle East – Idlib is a Sunni province – just a week ahead of the crucial Turkish referendum on April 16 that votes on the creation of a presidency with executive powers.

Two, Erdogan has brought about a discord between US and Russia, which creates space for Turkey to carry on with its military operations in northern Syria and consolidate its occupation of large tracts of Syrian territory.

Three, Russia and Iran may come under pressure to postpone the planned military offensive on Idlib to liberate the region from al-Qaeda. (Idlib is the only Syrian province remaining still under the control of extremist groups.)

And, four, Erdogan’s persistent demand for creation of “safe zones” inside territory as well as “no-fly zone” – both of which would boost a permanent Turkish military presence inside Syria – has gained a fresh lease of life. Indeed, that would also be the kiss of death for Kurdish ambitions to create an autonomous homeland (“Rojava”) in northern Syria.

Suffice it to say, Turkey’s territorial ambitions over Syria (to reclaim Ottoman territories which it lost in the 1922 settlement) took a leap forward this past week.

An international investigation will help uncover Turkey’s role in the chemical attacks in Idlib. However, alas, the CIA is unlikely to let that happen because what happened in Idlib also happens to be a back-to-back enterprise with Turkish intelligence. Erdogan and the folks in Langley are swimming in the very same river of blood. So long as such cynical games continue, the prospects of Syrian settlement will remain bleak.

Turkish policies threaten regional security in the Middle East as well as Europe. By Erdogan’s reckoning, Europe is inhabited by Nazis, and the Middle East’s future lies with political Islam. Sadly enough, Turkey has once again become the “sick man of Europe”.

Read a chilling Reuters report, here, detailing that the suicide bomber involved in the recent subway terrorist attack in St Petersburg had travelled to Turkey and Syria.

April 10, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Questions following the US attack on Syria

How quickly enemies can become friends. All you have to do is bomb people.
OffGuardian | April 7, 2017

Q1: What happened?

Last night, and much to chagrin of people who thought Trump would not escalate matters in Syria, the US military launched 59 Tomahawk missiles into Syria, allegedly attempting to destroy a government airbase. They warned the Russian government before-hand, who will have passed on that warning to the Syrians, meaning the area was probably on alert, with any important equipment or personnel removed. The Pentagon have also stated that, at this time, there are no plans for any other strikes or any campaign in Syria.

Q2: Supposing the attack definitely happened as most are reporting – and that is a dangerous assumption to make these days – what have the results been?

At last count the number of Syrian casualties stood at 6 dead servicemen, and 9 dead civilians (including four children) and several more wounded, together with the loss of six aircraft. The airbase they attacked looks far from destroyed in footage from Russia 24 (see here). And chemical weapons? Well, they didn’t destroy any…and say they weren’t trying to do so (see our brief story on that contradiction here). So in terms of military targets, this strike has achieved very little.

The attack was pitifully inefficient, of the 50-70 missiles launched, only 23 struck anywhere near their targets. The other 30+ are currently unaccounted for. Tomahawk missiles cost between $500,000 and $1,500,000 dollar each, which means the US just spent between 25 and 105 MILLION dollars on dinging up a couple of aircraft hangars and murdering less than 20 people.

Q3: …then why do it?

There must be some political wins in this situation to justify the price tag, because the damage done to the “enemy” is practically zero. Indeed, when you take into account that the Pentagon informed the Russians, who will have informed the Syrians, and the reports of Syria evacuating personnel before the attack… the entire event appears somewhat theatrical. Meaning it was an entirely political act, possibly intended more for a domestic audience than anything else.

It had no bearing on the civil war at all, the airstrikes on rebel positions weren’t even halted for a day.

Q4: Was it legal?

No.

Whether it was the product of an impotent emotional tantrum, or a cynical public relations gambit, there is no question the attack was completely illegal under international law. But the American press have never cared much about that. Given that America’s reputation was already in tatters, among those who consider such trifles important, this won’t do much damage. They will take a hit on that front, it probably won’t matter in the long-run.

The list of unpunished American international crimes is hugely long. This small addition barely qualifies.

Q5: cui bono?

Always the most important question.

Trump can definitely get some short-term political gains domestically here. Having “defied” the Russians and “stood-up to” Assad, Trump can now enjoy a period of respite from the “Trump is in Russia’s pocket” talk. Plus, the wider establishment – so fond of calling for “action on Syria” – will be forced to either agree with (and consequently legitimize) the administration, or criticise an attack on Syria and dial back their own calls for war.

What Trump gains in terms of favour within the deep-state and political establishment he will lose in terms of approval with his voting base. One of the biggest issues contributing to Trumps electoral victory was his non-interventionist stance on the ME. This may only be a superficial event, but the list of people approving of and/or celebrating it is enough to alienate a lot of Trump voters for good. But he doesn’t have to worry about that for the next four years.

One definite winner in all of this is Turkey, so long illegally picking at land along the Syrian border. They now have a precedent for a NATO ally taking unilateral action against the Syrian government on very flimsy evidence. They will take that and run with it. Israel, similarly, will see this as permission to be even more active in Syria. Both are key suppliers to the rebels, both are carving out chunks of Syria for themselves.

A danger does still lurk, of course. Whether Trump took this action to make a point, or was talked into it by generals and the like, the first official American attack on Syria has now taken place. Mission creep, intended from the outset or no, is an important thing to keep an eye on at this point.

April 7, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

US Missile Attack on Syria Base Condemned, Welcomed

Al-Manar | April 7, 2017

Syria strongly condemned a US missile attack targeting an army airbase near Homs as an “act of aggression,” while the Zionist entity and Syrian armed opposition groups calling for further attacks.

The US military launched about 60 Tomahawk missiles against several targets on al-Shayrat air base 38 kilometers southeast of the city of Homs.

Homs Governor Talal Barazi said the US missile strikes serve the goals of armed terrorist groups and ISIL, adding that the aggression will not prevent the Syrian government from “fighting terrorism.”

Iran strongly condemned the US attack. In a Friday statement, Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tehran “roundly condemns any unilateral military action and the missile attacks against al-Shayrat Airbase in Syria by American warships.”

“Iran strongly condemns any such unilateral strikes… Such measures will strengthen terrorists in Syria … and will complicate the situation in Syria and the region,” ISNA quoted Bahram Qasemi as saying.

Bolivia requested a closed-door UN Security Council to be held on Friday. Russia also said it will call the 15-nation body into session.

A source in the Greek Ministry of National Defence said that Greece is strongly against any military intervention in Syria as it could hamper peace efforts. “Greece is strongly against any military intervention in Syria,” a National Defense Ministry source told Sputnik, adding that such action will hamper dialogue and peace in Syria.

Indonesia said it was concerned with unilateral actions “by any parties, including the use of Tomahawk missiles,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Armanatha Nasir said in a text message. “Military actions, undertaken without prior authorization of the UN Security Council, are not in line with international legal principles in the peaceful settlement of disputes, as stipulated in the UN Charter.”

The government of Japan is calling a UN Security Council emergency meeting in the wake of the US missile strike, media reported citing a government source. According to the Kyodo news agency, earlier in the day, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said that Tokyo was checking the information about the US strike, and that Japan would express its position after it obtained all the information.

Armed Opposition’s Position Intersects with the Zionist One Again

The foreign-backed National Coalition armed opposition group welcomed the US missile strikes and hoped they will continue in order to ‘stop Syrian government bombardment’, an SNC media official said Friday.

“We hope for the continuation of the strikes in order to prevent the regime from using its planes to launch any new air raids or going back to using internationally banned weapons,” said Ahmad Ramadan, head of the SNC’s media office.

Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office also celebrated the attack with an early morning statement, saying he supported “strong message” sent by US strikes.

Britain gave its backing, too. “The U.K. government fully supports the U.S. action which we believe was an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime and is intended to deter further attacks,” a government spokesman said.

Australia’s Turnbull, in turn, said the strikes sent “a vitally important message” that the world will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons. “The retribution has been proportionate and it has been swift,” he told reporters in Sydney. “We support the United States in that swift action.”

A few hours before the attack, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said on Thursday Turkey would welcome a US military attack on Syria. Speaking live on nationwide Kanal 7 TV, he said Turkey was ready to do its part if such an onslaught took place.

The Pentagon said the Russians deployed to the targeted military facility were given prior notice, and that the missiles did not hit sections of the airbase where Moscow’s forces were reportedly present.

There has been no immediate reaction from Moscow, but Russia had warned on Thursday that there could be “negative consequences” if Washington takes military action against Syria.

“All responsibility if military action occurs will be on the shoulders of those who initiated such a doubtful tragic enterprise,” Russian Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Vladimir Safronkov said.

“Look at Iraq, look at Libya,” he said, referring to the countries which have been rocked by violence, terrorism and chaos since the West launched a military intervention.

April 7, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daesh attacks ancient Syrian city after US strike on nearby airbase

Press TV – April 7, 2017

Takfiri Daesh terrorists have launched a fresh push to retake Palmyra in Syria’s Homs Province shortly after the US launched a missile strike on an airfield used by the Syrian army to protect the ancient city.

According to the Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen TV channel, Daesh terrorists took advantage of the US attack on Shayrat Airfield, located southeast of Homs city, on Friday and attacked Palmyra, killing four people.

Sources on the ground said the offensive was successfully repelled by the Syrian army.

Since 2014, when Daesh unleashed its campaign of terror in Syria, the group has seized Palmyra twice but the army liberated it once last year and the second time in March.

The US military fired some 60 cruise missiles at the army airbase, inflicting “big material damage” on the facility, which was used by the Syrian army to defend southern regions, including the cities of Palmyra, al-Qaryatayn and Mahin in Homs Province.

Foreign-backed terrorist groups welcomed the strike, but urged additional action, with one major faction saying a single strike was “not enough.”

“Hitting one airbase is not enough, there are 26 airbases that target civilians,” a key figure in the Jaysh al-Islam faction, Mohamed Alloush, said on his Twitter account.

Mohamed Bayrakdar, another leader of the terrorist group which operates mainly around the capital Damascus, described the strike as “a bold and correct step.”

Other Takfiri groups also called for continued military action against the Syrian government.

“In my opinion, the message is political, and the message has arrived to Russia and been understood,” Issam Raes, spokesman for the Southern Front terrorist faction, told AFP.

Colonel Ahmed Osman, of the Turkey-backed Sultan Murad militant group, said: “We welcome any action that will put an end to the regime that is committing the worst crimes in history.”

Reports say there were 40 hangers for Sukhoi and Mikoyan warplanes in the airfield, which Syria had recently received from Russia.

Given the strategic location of the airfield, Syria and Russia were recently considering plans to upgrade the airbase to deploy advanced aircraft and Russia’s S-400 air defense systems at Shayrat.

Later on Friday, the Kremlin cited Russian President Vladimir Putin as saying that the US missile attack on the Syrian airbase has violated international law and significantly harmed Russia-US relations.

The US launched the military strike on Shayrat airfield in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack in the town of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib Province earlier this week.

Syria has categorically denied carrying out a chemical attack. Russia has also said the deaths in Idlib were caused when a Syrian airstrike struck a terrorist warehouse used for making bombs with toxic substances.

The Pentagon said the Russians deployed to the targeted military facility were given prior notice, and that attack did not hit sections of the airbase where Moscow’s forces were reportedly present.

According to al-Mayadeen, the Syrian army had evacuated most of its warplanes from Shayrat airfield before the US attack.

Washington’s assault was met with strong condemnations from Russia, Syria and Iran.

The foreign-backed National Coalition, an alliance of terrorist groups, however said it “welcomes the strike” and urged Washington to neutralize Syria’s ability to carry out air raids.

Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, along with their Western allies, joined the militants and voiced support for the militants.

April 7, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 2 Comments