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5 reasons Turkish-US relations have hit rock bottom

America has done everything possible to alienate its traditional Turkish ally. The most worrying part is that Washington seems unaware that it has done so.

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Today marks the one  year anniversary of a coup in Turkey which briefly threatened to topple the rule of Turkey’s strongman President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In the year that has past, Erdogan’s grip on power has strengthened, even though many of the underlying issues threatening Turkey’s stability remain. These include an increasingly rejuvenated Kurdish nationalist movement, the threat of Salafist terrorism inside Turkey, the threat of provocations from Gulenists and a resurgent secular Kemalist opposition.

There is still no international consensus on who is responsible for the failed coup of 15 July, 2016. Erdgoan continues to blame forces loyal to the exiled cleric Fethullah Gluen, but it is still not clear if this is the case. It could have easily been the disgruntled mid-level Turkish army personnel who executed the coup who also planned it.

What is clear is that while many expected the coup to weaken or even humble Erdogan, the opposite has happened. What has been weakened in the year subsequent o the coup attempt is Turkey’s traditionally strong relationship with the United States.

Here are some things to consider.

1. America Disregards Turkey Without Wooing Turkey’s Enemies 

One of the guiding features of contemporary US foreign policy has been a dangerous adherence to the maxim that ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’.

The United States is not for example filled with ardent Ukrainian nationalists, but instead, the US saw fomenting Ukrainian extremism as a way to make things difficult for Russia.

Likewise, the Albanian lobby in America is negligible, but America steadfastly supports Albanian radicalism in the Balkans as a way of weakening Serbia which is an historic Russian ally, even though the contemporary alliance is more spiritual and fraternal than it is military or financial.

For those thinking that America’s disagreements with Turkey have arisen out of a desire to become closer to Turkey’s traditional enemies, this is not the case, even when appearances might dictate otherwise.

America has not suddenly taken a pro-Greek, pro-Cypriot or pro-Armenian position at the expense of Turkey. The United States continues to support German economic measures from Berlin and Brussels against Athens and shows little real interest in bringing unity to Cyprus. There is also little movement on Armenian issues in Washington.

Unlike Greece, Cyprus and Armenia whose historical enmity towards Turkey has not ebbed, Russia in spite of her history of wars with Turkey cannot be considered an enemy of Turkey in 2017. Some would even call Russia and Turkey allies, although this is clearly a big step too far.

America’s alliance with Kurds in Syria and to an extent also in Iraq is not because of but in spite of Turkey. This is a key difference which must be explored in depth.

2. America’s Kurdish Crucible 

If one wanted to upset Turkey, alienate Turkey or prepare to engage with Turkey militarily, forming a military alliance with Kurdish forces on Turkey’s borders would be a good place to start.

This however is not America’s goal. In supporting Kurds in Syria, America has found away to at least publicly claim to oppose ISIS without joining the anti-terrorist coalition, aka the resistance led by Syria. This coalition includes Russia which America under Donald Trump seems happy to work with in certain limited capacities but it also includes the Syrian government, Iran and Hezbollah.

The official position of the US in respect of the government of Syria has hardly changed in any significant way, though at times appears more realistic than under Trump vis-a-vis Obama. By contrast, America’s position vis-a-vis Iran and Hezbollah has if anything become more extreme under Donald Trump.

This leaves America with few options in Syria apart from the jihadists whose cause is becoming increasingly untenable and the Kurds. This process of elimination led America to choose the Kurds and seeing as the Kurds are the most Israel friendly option in the region, this certainly helped America’s decision process (if one can be so charitable as to say that it was a process) as well.

The troubling aspect of the US-Kurdish alliance isn’t that it was created to antagonise Turkey, but instead that it was embarked upon without any consideration for how Ankara might feel.

Of course, when the US puts NATO troops on all sides of Russia’s borders, it is clear that Washington doesn’t care how Moscow might feel about this, but Turkey is a NATO member and a traditional modern US ally.

While the US is not fomenting a would-be ‘Kurdish Maidan’ in Turkey, the fact that they seem so unconcerned with a long time ally being incensed about America’s relationship with Krudish militants makes one wonder if the US is as arrogant in its actions towards supposed allies as it is towards apparent adversaries?

3. No Personal Respect 

When President Erdogan accused the Obama administration of having a hand in the failed coup through America’s sheltering of  Fethullah Gluen a wanted terrorist in Turkey, Obama and his associates were highly cavalier in their dismissal of the allegations.

One could argue that there may have been an absurd quality to the accusations (though there are even stronger arguments to the contrary), but this is the same Obama administration that invented Russiagate, perhaps the most absurd geo-political allegation in modern history. This theory therefore carries little weight.

Things have not improved under Donald Trump. Erdogan’s recent visit to Washington was marred by a general lack of respectful protocol from the US side and what was visibly a poor personal dialogue between the two Presidents.

READ MORE: Turkey seethes at Trump’s snub to Erdogan

This has not sat well with Ankara and the Trump administration has done virtually nothing to ameliorate the situation.

4. EU Rejection 

Those who felt that Turkey would ever join the EU were also being fanciful, but even those who were Turkosceptics in respect of Turkey joining the European bloc could never have imagined just how far Brussels-Ankara relations would plummet.

While the low-ebb in Turkey’s relations with Europe do not directly effect the United States, if Turkey was in both the EU and NATO, it would have only helped to draw Turkey closer to Washington which is effectively the strongest unofficial member of the EU and the only power in NATO that really calls the shots.

With Turkey being so visibly rejected by a pro-American bloc of nations on its western doorstep, Turkey is even more isolated from the American sphere of influence.

5. Russia 

When it comes to wars fought with Russia, not even Poland has fought more than Turkey, depending on how one counts the number of individual conflicts.

In spite of Lenin and Ataturk enjoying a good personal relationship, Turkey and the USSR’s relationship subsequently declined after the 1930s.

Therefore, the fact that Vladimir Putin is perhaps Erdogan’s closest personal acquaintance in respect of a foreign head of state is historically surprising.

Russia and Turkey still have matters of disagreement in Syria, but the fact that Russia and Turkey continue to increase their trade and their diplomatic cooperation in Syria through the Astana Group, is a fact which literally defies historical expectations.

Russia has shown Turkey respect which both America and the EU seem incapable of doing at this point in history. Furthermore, whereas some Russian leaders would have attacked Turkey militarily after Turkey shot down a Russian jet in 2015, President Putin’s patience on the matter has paid off.

READ MORE: PUTIN: Master statesman with Turkey and Japan – and now Trump

Erdogan subsequently apologised  for shooting down the plane and relations became not only patched up but intensified in rapid fashion.

With Turkey about to complete a deal for the purchase of Russia S-400 missile defence systems after America and European producers of similar systems were inflexible in respect of the price, it is clear that Turkey is becoming closer to Russia politically, commercially and diplomatically even as certain areas of geo-strategic differences certainly remain.

In this sense, Russia’s door to Turkey was opened by Vladimir Putin but it was the United States along with its European allies which pushed Turkey through the open door.

America has not yet cared to feel Turkish anger towards Washington but it may well soon find that when a NATO member increasingly sides with Russia’s approach to Middle Eastern affairs in areas ranging from Syria and Iraq to Qatar and Iran, America might begin to feel the results of its childish behaviour towards Turkey.

Turkey is now growing increasingly close not only to Russia but to Iran. As a result Turkey has grown further from Saudi Arabia, America’s closest Arab ally.

The map of alliances in the Middle East is changing and it is as much to do with American incompetence as it is to do with the rising influence of Russia and Iran in the Arab world.

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Clinton-Yeltsin docs shine a light on why Deep State hates Putin (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 114.

Alex Christoforou

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Bill Clinton and America ruled over Russia and Boris Yeltsin during the 1990s. Yeltsin showed little love for Russia and more interest in keeping power, and pleasing the oligarchs around him.

Then came Vladimir Putin, and everything changed.

Nearly 600 pages of memos and transcripts, documenting personal exchanges and telephone conversations between Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, were made public by the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Dating from January 1993 to December 1999, the documents provide a historical account of a time when US relations with Russia were at their best, as Russia was at its weakest.

On September 8, 1999, weeks after promoting the head of the Russia’s top intelligence agency to the post of prime minister, Russian President Boris Yeltsin took a phone call from U.S. President Bill Clinton.

The new prime minister was unknown, rising to the top of the Federal Security Service only a year earlier.

Yeltsin wanted to reassure Clinton that Vladimir Putin was a “solid man.”

Yeltsin told Clinton….

“I would like to tell you about him so you will know what kind of man he is.”

“I found out he is a solid man who is kept well abreast of various subjects under his purview. At the same time, he is thorough and strong, very sociable. And he can easily have good relations and contact with people who are his partners. I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the nearly 600 pages of transcripts documenting the calls and personal conversations between then U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, released last month. A strong Clinton and a very weak Yeltsin underscore a warm and friendly relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

Then Vladimir Putin came along and decided to lift Russia out of the abyss, and things changed.

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Here are five must-read Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges from with the 600 pages released by the Clinton Library.

Via RT

Clinton sends ‘his people’ to get Yeltsin elected

Amid unceasing allegations of nefarious Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election, the Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges reveal how the US government threw its full weight behind Boris – in Russian parliamentary elections as well as for the 1996 reelection campaign, which he approached with 1-digit ratings.

For example, a transcript from 1993 details how Clinton offered to help Yeltsin in upcoming parliamentary elections by selectively using US foreign aid to shore up support for the Russian leader’s political allies.

“What is the prevailing attitude among the regional leaders? Can we do something through our aid package to send support out to the regions?” a concerned Clinton asked.

Yeltsin liked the idea, replying that “this kind of regional support would be very useful.” Clinton then promised to have “his people” follow up on the plan.

In another exchange, Yeltsin asks his US counterpart for a bit of financial help ahead of the 1996 presidential election: “Bill, for my election campaign, I urgently need for Russia a loan of $2.5 billion,” he said. Yeltsin added that he needed the money in order to pay pensions and government wages – obligations which, if left unfulfilled, would have likely led to his political ruin. Yeltsin also asks Clinton if he could “use his influence” to increase the size of an IMF loan to assist him during his re-election campaign.

Yeltsin questions NATO expansion

The future of NATO was still an open question in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and conversations between Clinton and Yeltsin provide an illuminating backdrop to the current state of the curiously offensive ‘defensive alliance’ (spoiler alert: it expanded right up to Russia’s border).

In 1995, Yeltsin told Clinton that NATO expansion would lead to “humiliation” for Russia, noting that many Russians were fearful of the possibility that the alliance could encircle their country.

“It’s a new form of encirclement if the one surviving Cold War bloc expands right up to the borders of Russia. Many Russians have a sense of fear. What do you want to achieve with this if Russia is your partner? They ask. I ask it too: Why do you want to do this?” Yeltsin asked Clinton.

As the documents show, Yeltsin insisted that Russia had “no claims on other countries,” adding that it was “unacceptable” that the US was conducting naval drills near Crimea.

“It is as if we were training people in Cuba. How would you feel?” Yeltsin asked. The Russian leader then proposed a “gentleman’s agreement” that no former Soviet republics would join NATO.

Clinton refused the offer, saying: “I can’t make the specific commitment you are asking for. It would violate the whole spirit of NATO. I’ve always tried to build you up and never undermine you.”

NATO bombing of Yugoslavia turns Russia against the West

Although Clinton and Yeltsin enjoyed friendly relations, NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia tempered Moscow’s enthusiastic partnership with the West.

“Our people will certainly from now have a bad attitude with regard to America and with NATO,” the Russian president told Clinton in March 1999. “I remember how difficult it was for me to try and turn the heads of our people, the heads of the politicians towards the West, towards the United States, but I succeeded in doing that, and now to lose all that.”

Yeltsin urged Clinton to renounce the strikes, for the sake of “our relationship” and “peace in Europe.”

“It is not known who will come after us and it is not known what will be the road of future developments in strategic nuclear weapons,” Yeltsin reminded his US counterpart.

But Clinton wouldn’t cede ground.

“Milosevic is still a communist dictator and he would like to destroy the alliance that Russia has built up with the US and Europe and essentially destroy the whole movement of your region toward democracy and go back to ethnic alliances. We cannot allow him to dictate our future,” Clinton told Yeltsin.

Yeltsin asks US to ‘give Europe to Russia’

One exchange that has been making the rounds on Twitter appears to show Yeltsin requesting that Europe be “given” to Russia during a meeting in Istanbul in 1999. However, it’s not quite what it seems.

“I ask you one thing,” Yeltsin says, addressing Clinton. “Just give Europe to Russia. The US is not in Europe. Europe should be in the business of Europeans.”

However, the request is slightly less sinister than it sounds when put into context: The two leaders were discussing missile defense, and Yeltsin was arguing that Russia – not the US – would be a more suitable guarantor of Europe’s security.

“We have the power in Russia to protect all of Europe, including those with missiles,” Yeltsin told Clinton.

Clinton on Putin: ‘He’s very smart’

Perhaps one of the most interesting exchanges takes place when Yeltsin announces to Clinton his successor, Vladimir Putin.

In a conversation with Clinton from September 1999, Yeltsin describes Putin as “a solid man,” adding: “I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

A month later, Clinton asks Yeltsin who will win the Russian presidential election.

“Putin, of course. He will be the successor to Boris Yeltsin. He’s a democrat, and he knows the West.”

“He’s very smart,” Clinton remarks.

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New Satellite Images Reveal Aftermath Of Israeli Strikes On Syria; Putin Accepts Offer to Probe Downed Jet

The images reveal the extent of destruction in the port city of Latakia, as well as the aftermath of a prior strike on Damascus International Airport.

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Via Zerohedge


An Israeli satellite imaging company has released satellite photographs that reveal the extent of Monday night’s attack on multiple locations inside Syria.

ImageSat International released them as part of an intelligence report on a series of Israeli air strikes which lasted for over an hour and resulted in Syrian missile defense accidentally downing a Russian surveillance plane that had 15 personnel on board.

The images reveal the extent of destruction on one location struck early in attack in the port city of Latakia, as well as the aftermath of a prior strike on Damascus International Airport. On Tuesday Israel owned up to carrying out the attack in a rare admission.

Syrian official SANA news agency reported ten people injured in the attacks carried out of military targets near three major cities in Syria’s north.

The Times of Israel, which first reported the release of the new satellite images, underscores the rarity of Israeli strikes happening that far north and along the coast, dangerously near Russian positions:

The attack near Latakia was especially unusual because the port city is located near a Russian military base, the Khmeimim Air Force base. The base is home to Russian jet planes and an S-400 aerial defense system. According to Arab media reports, Israel has rarely struck that area since the Russians arrived there.

The Russian S-400 system was reportedly active during the attack, but it’s difficult to confirm or assess the extent to which Russian missiles responded during the strikes.

Three of the released satellite images show what’s described as an “ammunition warehouse” that appears to have been completely destroyed.

The IDF has stated their airstrikes targeted a Syrian army facility “from which weapons-manufacturing systems were supposed to be transferred to Iran and Hezbollah.” This statement came after the IDF expressed “sorrow” for the deaths of Russian airmen, but also said responsibility lies with the “Assad regime.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to express regret over the incident while offering to send his air force chief to Russia with a detailed report — something which Putin agreed to.

According to Russia’s RT News, “Major-General Amikam Norkin will arrive in Moscow on Thursday, and will present the situation report on the incident, including the findings of the IDF inquiry regarding the event and the pre-mission information the Israeli military was so reluctant to share in advance.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry condemned the “provocative actions by Israel as hostile” and said Russia reserves “the right to an adequate response” while Putin has described the downing of the Il-20 recon plane as likely the result of a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances” and downplayed the idea of a deliberate provocation, in contradiction of the initial statement issued by his own defense ministry.

Pro-government Syrians have reportedly expressed frustration this week that Russia hasn’t done more to respond militarily to Israeli aggression; however, it appears Putin may be sidestepping yet another trap as it’s looking increasingly likely that Israel’s aims are precisely geared toward provoking a response in order to allow its western allies to join a broader attack on Damascus that could result in regime change.

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“Transphobic” Swedish Professor May Lose Job After Noting Biological Differences Between Sexes

A university professor in Sweden is under investigation after he said that there are fundamental differences between men and women which are “biologically founded”

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Via Zerohedge


A university professor in Sweden is under investigation for “anti-feminism” and “transphobia” after he said that there are fundamental differences between men and women which are “biologically founded” and that genders cannot be regarded as “social constructs alone,” reports Academic Rights Watch.

For his transgression, Germund Hesslow – a professor of neuroscience at Lund University – who holds dual PhDs in philosophy and neurophysiology, may lose his job – telling RT that a “full investigation” has been ordered, and that there “have been discussions about trying to stop the lecture or get rid of me, or have someone else give the lecture or not give the lecture at all.”

“If you answer such a question you are under severe time pressure, you have to be extremely brief — and I used wording which I think was completely innocuous, and that apparently the student didn’t,” Hesslow said.

Hesslow was ordered to attend a meeting by Christer Larsson, chairman of the program board for medical education, after a female student complained that Hesslow had a “personal anti-feminist agenda.” He was asked to distance himself from two specific comments; that gay women have a “male sexual orientation” and that the sexual orientation of transsexuals is “a matter of definition.”

The student’s complaint reads in part (translated):

I have also heard from senior lecturers that Germund Hesslow at the last lecture expressed himself transfobically. In response to a question of transexuallism, he said something like “sex change is a fly”. Secondly, it is outrageous because there may be students during the lecture who are themselves exposed to transfobin, but also because it may affect how later students in their professional lives meet transgender people. Transpersonals already have a high level of overrepresentation in suicide statistics and there are already major shortcomings in the treatment of transgender in care, should not it be countered? How does this kind of statement coincide with the university’s equal treatment plan? What has this statement given for consequences? What has been done for this to not be repeated? –Academic Rights Watch

After being admonished, Hesslow refused to distance himself from his comments, saying that he had “done enough” already and didn’t have to explain and defend his choice of words.

At some point, one must ask for a sense of proportion among those involved. If it were to become acceptable for students to record lectures in order to find compromising formulations and then involve faculty staff with meetings and long letters, we should let go of the medical education altogether,” Hesslow said in a written reply to Larsson.

He also rejected the accusation that he had a political agenda – stating that his only agenda was to let scientific factnot new social conventions, dictate how he teaches his courses.

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