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3 options for Turkey in Syria

Erdogan can do this the easy way or the hard way.

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In the aftermath of the Astana Memorandum and its subsequent implementation, Turkey finds itself in a precarious position. This awkward position is entirely of Turkey’s own making. Rather than staying fully out of the Syrian conflict, let alone choosing one side and sticking to it, Turkey has managed to be on several sides simultaneously.

–Militarily, Turkey is fighting the Syrian government using both its own troops and its terrorist proxy FSA

–Militarily, Turkey is also fighting the Kurds who in turn are fighting jihadists, including the Turkish backed FSA

–Politically, Turkey is part of the effectively Russian led Astana Peace Talks, thereby partly bringing Turkey into Russia’s political orbit in the region

–Politically and militarily, Turkey is a member of NATO and technically a long term US ally, though one increasingly at odds with the US, particularly over America’s support for Kurdish fighters in Syria.

The aforementioned list is filled with more contradictions than drinking to get sober, but that’s where Turkey is under President Erdogan. Where does Turkey go from here?

Here are three possible directions.

1. Continuing to Fight A Losing Battle

Turkey clearly has no reservations about violating international law. Turkey’s invasion and occupation of Syria is manifestly illegal and totally immoral. The same goes for all other countries operating in Syria with the exceptions of Russia and Iran. Likewise, Hezbollah fighters have been invited by Damascus, though no other non-governmental fighters have been.

There is every possibility that Turkey will continue to illegally push further into Syria, even in the aftermath of the Astana Memorandum creating so-called de-escalation zones.

If Turkey does this, it will mean that little has changed in the regions of Syria that Turkey has and continues to molest.

This however would not mean that the Astana Memorandum is a failure. The Astana Memorandum ought to be understood as a political document designed to force Turkey into a corner, isolate the United States from having a meaningful negative role in the conflict and simultaneous to that, isolating the Gulf from its NATO allies.

READ MORE: 5 reasons the Astana ‘safe zone’ Memorandum is good for Russia and Syria

In this sense, the Memorandum is all ready partly a success. The political balance of power has shifted away from Syria’s enemies and towards a Russian dominated settlement. Because Russia is genuine when it says that only Syria can determine its own political destiny, this new geo-political alignment of power works in the favour of a sovereign Syria.

Turkey can continue to engage in battles and skirmishes in Syria, but unless Turkey wants to be bogged down in a war with Syria for years to come, it will be a war that Turkey will have to back away from either sooner or later.

Furthermore, the Turkish public are quickly losing any appetite for foreign war, especially in the Arab world. If Erdogan continues with his obstinate mindset, it may be his undoing on the domestic front.

2. Finding New (old) Enemies

If Turkey wants to remain a serious member of the Astana Group and all ready Syria does not take Turkey seriously and fellow Astana member Iran has its deep suspicious (as does Russia in private), Turkey ought to refrain from interfering militarily in Syria. Turkey according to this scenario, should also refrain from  making any unilateral political statements. It is almost certain that audacious statements will be made at home, but the Turkish government ought to restrain itself from such remarks when the ears of the world are listening.

Under this scenario Turkey would concentrate only on fighting Kurdish forces. This also necessarily implies that Turkey would come to loggerheads with the US. Such things are all ready manifesting themselves.

READ MORE: America’s collision course in the Turkish-Kurdish conflict

If Turkey insists on achieving something in Syria but does not want to alienate itself from the Russian dominated peace process, it could indeed focus entirely on the Kurdish question. This however could mean trading the US for Russia in terms of a kind of ‘ally’. Would Turkey be willing to do this? There are certain signs indicating that Turkey has all ready prepared to do so, certainly in terms of trade.

READ MORE: Is Turkey pivoting closer to Russia?

3. Peace With Honour

This is a phrase coined by Richard Nixon to imply ‘retreat while saving face’. Although Erdogan has had ample time to take advantage of many easy exit roots from the Syrian conflict, most of them laid out by Russia, Erdgoan has thus far not taken advantage of any of these.

With Syria winning the war on the ground against terrorists, including those backed by Turkey and America digging in along side the Kurds, this would be the most practical option for Turkey.

By signing up to the Astana agreement, Turkey would be allowed to have the honour of having its name on a political settlement that many understand as meaningful. This would give Turkey the de-facto prestige that Erdogan’s ego craves.

The problem is that Erdogan is not a practical man. He is ambitious and driven by ego and fanaticism. That being said, even a broken clock is correct twice a day. Erdogan only needs to be correct once to absolve himself of his crimes.

Russia nor America will ever see him prosecuted for his crimes against humanity. He ought to count his blessings and take this option as soon as possible.

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Trump Has Gifted “No More Wars” Policy Position To Bernie Sanders (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 148.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss how US President Donald Tump appears to have ceded his popular 2016 ‘no more wars’ campaign message and policy position to Bernie Sanders and any other US 2020 candidate willing to grad onto a non-interventionist approach to the upcoming Democrat primaries.

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“Is Bernie Stealing Trump’s ‘No More Wars’ Issue?” by Patrick J. Buchanan…


The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016.

“The president has said that he does not want to see this country involved in endless wars… I agree with that,” Bernie Sanders told the Fox News audience at Monday’s town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Then turning and staring straight into the camera, Bernie added:

“Mr. President, tonight you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: Sign that resolution. Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country.”

Sanders was talking about a War Powers Act resolution that would have ended U.S. involvement in the five-year civil war in Yemen that has created one of the great humanitarian crises of our time, with thousands of dead children amidst an epidemic of cholera and a famine.

Supported by a united Democratic Party on the Hill, and an anti-interventionist faction of the GOP led by Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah, the War Powers resolution had passed both houses of Congress.

But 24 hours after Sanders urged him to sign it, Trump, heeding the hawks in his Cabinet and National Security Council, vetoed S.J.Res.7, calling it a “dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.”

With sufficient Republican votes in both houses to sustain Trump’s veto, that should be the end of the matter.

It is not: Trump may have just ceded the peace issue in 2020 to the Democrats. If Sanders emerges as the nominee, we will have an election with a Democrat running on the “no-more-wars” theme Trump touted in 2016. And Trump will be left defending the bombing of Yemeni rebels and civilians by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Does Trump really want to go into 2020 as a war party president?

Does he want to go into 2020 with Democrats denouncing “Trump’s endless wars” in the Middle East? Because that is where he is headed.

In 2008, John McCain, leading hawk in the Senate, was routed by a left-wing first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who had won his nomination by defeating the more hawkish Hillary Clinton, who had voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

In 2012, the Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who was far more hawkish than Obama on Russia, lost.

Yet, in 2016, Trump ran as a different kind of Republican, an opponent of the Iraq War and an anti-interventionist who wanted to get along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and get out of these Middle East wars.

Looking closely at the front-running candidates for the Democratic nomination of 2020 — Joe Biden, Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker — not one appears to be as hawkish as Trump has become.

Trump pulled us out of the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and reimposed severe sanctions.

He declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, to which Iran has responded by declaring U.S. Central Command a terrorist organization. Ominously, the IRGC and its trained Shiite militias in Iraq are in close proximity to U.S. troops.

Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy there, closed the consulate that dealt with Palestinian affairs, cut off aid to the Palestinians, recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights seized from Syria in 1967, and gone silent on Bibi Netanyahu’s threat to annex Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Sanders, however, though he stands by Israel, is supporting a two-state solution and castigating the “right-wing” Netanyahu regime.

Trump has talked of pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the troops are still there.

Though Trump came into office promising to get along with the Russians, he sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and announced a pullout from Ronald Reagan’s 1987 INF treaty that outlawed all land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

When Putin provocatively sent 100 Russian troops to Caracas — ostensibly to repair the S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system that was damaged in recent blackouts — Trump, drawing a red line, ordered the Russians to “get out.”

Biden is expected to announce next week. If the stands he takes on Russia, China, Israel and the Middle East are more hawkish than the rest of the field, he will be challenged by the left wing of his party, and by Sanders, who voted “no” on the Iraq War that Biden supported.

The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016. And the anti-interventionist wing of the GOP is growing.

And when added to the anti-interventionist and anti-war wing of the Democratic Party on the Hill, together, they are able, as on the Yemen War Powers resolution, to produce a new bipartisan majority.

Prediction: By the primaries of 2020, foreign policy will be front and center, and the Democratic Party will have captured the “no-more-wars” political high ground that Candidate Donald Trump occupied in 2016.

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Over 200 killed, hundreds injured in series of blasts at Sri Lankan hotels & churches

A series of bombings hit churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 200 people.

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Via RT…


A series of eight explosions rocked Catholic churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka as Christians began Easter Sunday celebrations, with over 200 killed and hundreds injured, media reported, citing police.

The blasts started at around 8:45am local time at St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a Catholic-majority town outside of the capital. The Zion Church in Batticaloa on the eastern coast was also targeted. At around the same time, the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury five-star hotels were also hit, police confirmed.

Two more explosions happened later in the day, targeting two more locations in Colombo. All attacks appear to have been coordinated.

At least 207 people were killed, Reuters reported, citing police. More than 450 were injured in the attacks.

Alleged footage of the aftermath, shared on social media, showed chaos and large-scale destruction inside at least one of the churches.

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Mike Pompeo reveals true motto of CIA: ‘We lied, we cheated, we stole’ (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 147.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at a Texas A&M University speech, and subsequent interview, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The former CIA Director admitted, ‘as an aside’ to the question asked, that the Intelligence agency he headed up before being appointed as the top US Diplomat had a motto “we lied, we cheated, we stole”…which, according to Pompeo, contained entire CIA training courses based on ‘lying, cheating and stealing.’

Pompeo finally speaks some truth.

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