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5 Questions for Peter Lavelle: Erdogan’s Many Challenges and Opportunities

There is no reason why a country should have a liberal democracy when its voters are not liberal.

Peter Lavelle

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Question: A great deal of commentary has focused on the condition of Turkey’s democracy before the attempted coup and what will happen to it moving forward. What is your assessment of this commentary?

Answer: We should not be surprised by this emphasis – this is typical of the west. The West projects its so-called values on the rest of the world. Its values are always “one-size fits all.” This of course is nonsense. Turkey’s democracy is evolving and it reflects – if you like it or not – the will and interests of the majority of Turks. Turkey’s traditional secular approach to politics and society is in steep decline. What is ascending is a Turkish variant of political Islam. The perception among many Turks is the reality Europe is facing multiple crises and regression. Turkey sees itself as proud and on the advance. As far as many Turks are concerned, the west offers little in what a good society should be.

Q.: Can democracy and political Islam co-exist?

A.: First of all, Turkey now is no longer a liberal democracy. I say this objectively and without prejudice. There is no reason why a country should have a liberal democracy when its voters are not liberal. Some state institutions (the military) and elements of civil society (primarily the political opposition and its supporters) back the country’s traditional separation from Islam. However, they are clearly in the minority. How they remain to play a role within the Turkish political landscape remains to be seen. Second, Turkey’s move to political Islam tests any meaningful definition of democratic representation. The majority should rule, but that rule should insist on respect and tolerance.

Q.: There are those who say political Islam is intolerant and that Erdogan will take advantage of this as he exacts his revenge against the coup plotters. What are your thoughts on this?

A.: Like it or not Erdogan is in a position to shape Turkey according to his will. His initial purges of the military, the judicial system, and civil society in general are reported to be deep and systematic. Indeed, he can thoroughly reshape and recast state institutions, but will that unify the country and society? This remains a very important question. If Erdogan wants to succeed then he will have to refrain from alienating a significant minority of Turks, not to speak of the large Kurdish minority. Is he capable of doing that? This is another important question. His leadership style to date tells us he is challenged when subtlety and diplomacy is very much needed.

Q.: When the coup was faced-down by people taking to the streets, there were reports of extreme reprisals taken against soldiers and pro-coup supporters. These people are identified as Erdogan’s street muscle. Also, in Syria, Erdogan has been shown to support outright terrorist groups and organizations attempting to defeat the Kurds and overthrow the Assad government. Erdogan’s critics claim he is too comfortable with these elements. Is this a fair criticism?

A.: One of my primary concerns is Erdogan’s reliance and/or acceptance of intolerant and extreme elements. His various levels of support of ISIS and other extreme forces in Syria have been a disaster for Turkey’s security. And use of street thugs, as a form of political enforcement, is never a good idea. These are not reliable political allies. The fact is when radical elements are allowed to pursue goals beyond the law they are very difficult to control later. To my mind this is Erdogan’s most pressing challenge. If he does not, Turkey as a viable state will be in question and the Middle East as a whole threatened with even more instability.

Q.: More on foreign policy – who are Erdogan’s friends? Who does he want to make friends with and whom will he step away from?

A.: I am still not convinced Washington played a role in the coup attempt. However, I would not be surprised if it had before hand knowledge it would happen and hoped it would succeed. What does seem clear to me is Erdogan’s disillusionment with Washington and the west in general. He knows Turkey will never be a member of the EU. And let’s face it; the European project is not as attractive as it used to be. Erdogan is also aware of Washington’s calamitous Middle East policies – Washington is simply not a reliable partner. NATO’s perceptions of security interest also conflict with Turkey’s self-defined role in its neighborhood. On the other hand, Erdogan has every reason to look east now. A fresh look at relations with Russia, Iran and even Syria offer some intriguing opportunities. We are told Erdogan is a pragmatist, a man of the people, and a political survivor. He has most of the high cards – let’s see how he plays them.

Peter Lavelle is host of RT’s political debate program CrossTalk. His views are his own and may or may not reflect those of his employer.

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Putin, Trump meet in Helsinki for first bilateral summit

The Helsinki summit is the first ever full-fledged meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. Their previous encounters were brief talks on the sidelines of the G20 and APEC summits in 2017.

Vladimir Rodzianko

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump are meeting in the Finnish capital of Helsinki for their first bilateral one-on-one meeting.

Trump arrived in the Finland capital a day early, while the jet of Putin, who wrapped up his nation’s hosting of the World Cup Sunday, touched down around 1 p.m. local time and the Russian president’s motorcade whisked him straight to the palace where the two world leaders are meeting.

Trump signed an August 2017 law imposing additional sanctions on Russia. The law bars Trump from easing many sanctions without Congress’ approval, but he can offer some relief without a nod from Congress.

Almost 700 Russian people and companies are under U.S. sanctions. Individuals face limits on their travel and freezes on at least some of their assets, while some top Russian state banks and companies, including oil and gas giants, are effectively barred from getting financing through U.S. banks and markets.

The agenda of the summit hasn’t been officially announced yet, though, the presidents are expected to discuss global crises, such as the Syrian conflict and Ukraine, as well as bilateral relations.

Stay tuned for updates…

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“Foreign entity, NOT RUSSIA” hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails (Video)

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx): Hillary Clinton’s cache of 30,000 emails was hacked by foreign actor, and it was not Russia.

Alex Christoforou

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A stunning revelation that hardly anyone in the mainstream media is covering.

Fox News gave Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) the opportunity to explain what was going on during his questioning of Peter Strzok, when the the Texas Congressman stated that a “foreign entity, NOT RUSSIA” hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Aside from this segment on Fox News, this story is not getting any coverage, and we know why. It destroys the entire ‘Russia hacked Hillary’ narrative.

Gohmert states that this evidence is irrefutable and shows that a foreign actor, not connected to Russia in any way, intercepted and distributed Hillary Clinton’s cache of 30,000 emails.

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Via Zerohedge

As we sift through the ashes of Thursday’s dumpster-fire Congressional hearing with still employed FBI agent Peter Strzok, Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller plucked out a key exchange between Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) and Strzok which revealed a yet-unknown bombshell about the Clinton email case.

Nearly all of Hillary Clinton’s emails on her homebrew server went to a foreign entity that isn’t Russia. When this was discovered by the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG), IG Chuck McCullough sent his investigator Frank Ruckner and an attorney to notify Strzok along with three other people about the “anomaly.”

Four separate attempts were also made to notify DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz to brief him on the massive security breach, however Horowitz “never returned the call.” Recall that Horowitz concluded last month that despite Strzok’s extreme bias towards Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump – none of it translated to Strzok’s work at the FBI.

In other words; Strzok, while investigating Clinton’s email server, completely ignored the fact that most of Clinton’s emails were sent to a foreign entity – while IG Horowitz simply didn’t want to know about it.

Daily Caller reports…

The Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) found an “anomaly on Hillary Clinton’s emails going through their private server, and when they had done the forensic analysis, they found that her emails, every single one except four, over 30,000, were going to an address that was not on the distribution list,” Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas said during a hearing with FBI official Peter Strzok.

Gohmert continued..

“It was going to an unauthorized source that was a foreign entity unrelated to Russia.”

Strzok admitted to meeting with Ruckner but said he couldn’t remember the “specific” content of their discussion.

“The forensic examination was done by the ICIG and they can document that,” Gohmert said, “but you were given that information and you did nothing with it.”

According to Zerohedge “Mr. Horowitz got a call four times from someone wanting to brief him about this, and he never returned the call,” Gohmert said – and Horowitz wouldn’t return the call.

And while Peter Strzok couldn’t remember the specifics of his meeting with the IG about the giant “foreign entity” bombshell, he texted this to his mistress Lisa Page when the IG discovered the “(C)” classification on several of Clinton’s emails – something the FBI overlooked:

“Holy cow … if the FBI missed this, what else was missed? … Remind me to tell you to flag for Andy [redacted] emails we (actually ICIG) found that have portion marks (C) on a couple of paras. DoJ was Very Concerned about this.”

Via Zerohedge

In November of 2017, IG McCullough – an Obama appointee – revealed to Fox News that he received pushback when he tried to tell former DNI James Clapper about the foreign entity which had Clinton’s emails and other anomalies.

Instead of being embraced for trying to expose an illegal act, seven senators including Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca) wrote a letter accusing him of politicizing the issue.

“It’s absolutely irrelevant whether something is marked classified, it is the character of the information,” he said. Fox News reports…

McCullough said that from that point forward, he received only criticism and an “adversarial posture” from Congress when he tried to rectify the situation.

“I expected to be embraced and protected,” he said, adding that a Hill staffer “chided” him for failing to consider the “political consequences” of the information he was blowing the whistle on.

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Donald Trump plays good cop and bad cop with a weak Theresa May (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 55.

Alex Christoforou

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US President Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK was momentous, not for its substance, but rather for its sheer entertainment value.

Trump started his trip to the United Kingdom blasting Theresa May for her inability to negotiate a proper Brexit deal with the EU.  Trump ended his visit holding hands with the UK Prime Minister during a press conference where the most ‘special relationship’ between the two allies was once again reaffirmed.

Protests saw giant Trump “baby balloons” fly over London’s city center, as Trump played was his own good cop and bad cop to the UK PM, outside London at the Chequers…often times leaving May’s head spinning.

Even as Trump has left London, he remains front and center in the mind of Theresa May, who has now stated that Trump advised her to “sue” the European Union to resolve the tense negotiations over Brexit.

Trump had mentioned to reporters on Friday at a joint press conference with Theresa May that he had given the British leader a suggestion that she found too “brutal.”

Asked Sunday on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show what that suggestion was, May: “He told me I should sue the EU. Not go into negotiation, sue them.” May added…

“What the president also said at that press conference was `Don’t walk away. Don’t walk away from the negotiations. Then you’re stuck.”‘

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris summarize what was a state visit like no other, as Trump trolled the UK PM from beginning to end, and left London knowing that he got the better of a weakened British Prime Minister, who may not survive in office past next week.

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Via CNBC

It wasn’t exactly clear what Trump meant. The revelation came after explosive and undiplomatic remarks Trump made this week about May’s leadership — especially her handling of the Brexit negotiations — as he made his first official visit to Britain.

In an interview with The Sun newspaper published Thursday — just as May was hosting Trump at a lavish black-tie dinner — Trump said the British leader’s approach likely “killed” chances of a free-trade deal with the United States. He said he had told May how to conduct Brexit negotiations, “but she didn’t listen to me.”

He also praised May’s rival, Boris Johnson, who quit last week as foreign secretary to protest May’s Brexit plans. Trump claimed Johnson would make a “great prime minister.”

The comments shocked many in Britain — even May’s opponents — and threatened to undermine May’s already fragile hold on power. Her Conservative government is deeply split between supporters of a clean break with the EU and those who want to keep close ties with the bloc, Britain’s biggest trading partner.

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