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Andrey Karlov: a martyr in the war against terrorism and the struggle for peace in Syria

Andrey Karlov is a martyr in the war against terrorism. He was probably killed by a lone terrorist, but the calm reaction of the Russian and Turkish leaderships suggest that his death has made the prospects of peace in Syria stronger.

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Before the blood even had a chance to dry in Ankara, a tragedy that was first and foremost a human tragedy, became a political one.

Andrey Gennadyevich Karlov is beyond a shadow of a doubt, a martyr in the wider war on terrorism. His service to his country, to Turkey, and to the peace process in Syria, was as important as that of any solider.

The fact that he was shot in the back in an art gallery, rather than the battle field, simply adds to the sadness of this whole affair.

Whilst many feared a geopolitical avalanche in the aftermath of the assassination, for now the worst seems to have been averted.

President Putin responded not with a declaration of war on Turkey – as some expected – but with a firm yet calm commitment to cooperate with the Turkish authorities in order

“…to know who organised this killing and gave orders to the assassin”.

Popular Russian opposition figure, LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky echoed the tone of cooperation. He recently visited Turkey and met privately with Turkish President Erdogan. Zhirinovsky said that Erdogan seeks to cooperate with Russia, and that this incident should not hinder progress between the two countries. Zhirinovsky added that there was a possibility Western intelligence agencies played a hand in masterminding the attack to avenge the defeat of the Western backed terrorists in Aleppo.

President Erdogan’s statement came after a phone call to President Putin.  He said

“Both Turkey and Russia have the will not to be deceived by this provocation… All the security measures around the Russian embassy and consulate general have been tightened as we agreed with Mr. Putin”.

This was a far cry from the arrogant, grandstanding reaction of the Turkish leader in the aftermath of Turkey downing a Russian fighter jet in 2015.

The big difference is that whilst the downing of the Russian fighter in 2015 was an act of Turkish military aggression against Russia, the allegiance of Andrey Karlov’s assassin remains dubious, thought his intentions were clear.

The former Turkish police officer was said to have been sacked from his position in the aftermath of this summer’s failed coup attempt.  Some have reported that the killer was loyal to Fethullah Gülen, the exiled Islamist ideologue who after falling out with Erdogan went into exile in the United States.

It is important to remember that Erdogan blamed the coup on Gülen’s followers and in the immediate aftermath of the coup implicitly implicated the United States in the attempt to overthrow him.

The Gülen movement has publicly denied any connection to the murder, but so far neither ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Jabhat Al-Nusra, the Free Syrian Army nor any other terrorist organisation have claimed responsibility for the murder either.  By way of contrast, ISIS almost immediately claimed responsibility for last night’s terror attack in Berlin.

It is however clear, whatever his allegiance, that the killer’s ideology was identical to those of the terrorist groups in Syria, including those directly sponsored by Turkey.

During the course of the investigation it will be crucial to see if the assassin acted as a so-called ‘lone wolf’ terrorist, or if he took orders from a terrorist organisation.

The fact that last night also witnessed gunfire outside the US Embassy in Ankara, the Berlin atrocity, and apparent terrorist incidents in Zurich and Brussels, may suggest that this was part of a more widely coordinated terrorist assault. However, the crude nature of the various attacks also suggests that they might just be coincidental acts.

Some also believe that the assassination was part of Barack Obama’s plan to seek vengeance upon Russia for embarrassing him in Aleppo, and for the mythical Russian hacking during the US Presidential election.  There is no evidence for this.  The fact Obama’s US has been effectively sidelined in the Syrian peace process has angered many in Washington. Would they therefore condone such an act of unmitigated violence? One would certainly hope and presume not.

After Andrey Karlov was murdered the terrorist shouted that it was for ‘Syria and Aleppo’. He unambiguously favoured the terrorist factions in the Battle of Aleppo and was enraged by the victory of the Syrian Arab Army, made possible with Russia’s assistance.

Andrey Karlov had a significant personal hand in organising the evacuation agreement brokered by Russia and Turkey, and played an active role in drawing Turkey into the trilateral peace process between Russia, Iran and Turkey.

Because of his efforts for peace in Syria, he was a prime target for a terrorist.

One heartening sign to come out of the West on the tragic night of Andrey Karlov’s murder were the words of Donald Trump.  After issuing a personal expression of condolence to the family of Mr. Karlov, Trump said

“The civilised world must change (its) thinking”.

Trump seems to understand that this brand of terrorism is the common enemy to all peace loving people, whether Syrian, Russian, Turkish or American.

Barack Obama does not understand this, and it seems that he never will.

Because of Putin’s calm response, and Ergodan’s response – which is at minimum an act of self-preservation by man who just few weeks ago was still repeating the Western mantra ‘Assad Must Go’, -the trilateral peace process will likely continue, the prospects of peace in Syria may actually have been improved, and there looks to be no risk of war between Turkey and Russia.

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4 resignations and counting: May’s government ‘falling apart before our eyes’ over Brexit deal

The beginning of the end for Theresa May’s government.

The Duran

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Via RT


Four high profile resignations have followed on the heels of Theresa May’s announcement that her cabinet has settled on a Brexit deal, with Labour claiming that the Conservative government is at risk of completely dissolving.

Shailesh Vara, the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office was the first top official to resign after the prime minister announced that her cabinet had reached a draft EU withdrawal agreement.

An hour after his announcement, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab – the man charged with negotiating and finalizing the deal – said he was stepping down, stating that the Brexit deal in its current form suffers from deep flaws. Esther McVey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, submitted her letter of resignation shortly afterwards. More resignations have followed.

Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, Jon Trickett, predicted that this is the beginning of the end for May’s government.

The government is falling apart before our eyes as for a second time the Brexit secretary has refused to back the prime minister’s Brexit plan. This so-called deal has unraveled before our eyes

Shailesh Vara: UK to be stuck in ‘a half-way house with no time limit’

Kicking off Thursday’s string of resignations, Vara didn’t mince words when describing his reservations about the cabinet-stamped Brexit deal.

Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement leaves the UK in a “halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally become a sovereign nation,” his letter of resignation states. Vara went on to warn that the draft agreement leaves a number of critical issues undecided, predicting that it “will take years to conclude” a trade deal with the bloc.

“We will be locked in a customs arrangement indefinitely, bound by rules determined by the EU over which we have no say,” he added.

Dominic Raab: Deal can’t be ‘reconciled’ with promises made to public

Announcing his resignation on Thursday morning, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU.”

Raab claimed that the deal in its current form gives the EU veto power over the UK’s ability to annul the deal.

No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime.

Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said that Raab’s resignation as Brexit secretary is “devastating” for May.

“It sounds like he has been ignored,” he told the BBC.

Raab’s departure will undoubtedly encourage other Brexit supporters to question the deal, political commentators have observed.

Esther McVey: Deal ‘does not honor’ Brexit referendum

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey didn’t hold back when issuing her own letter of resignation. According to McVey, the deal “does not honour” the result of the Brexit referendum, in which a majority of Brits voted to leave the European Union.

Suella Braverman: ‘Unable to sincerely support’ deal

Suella Braverman, a junior minister in Britain’s Brexit ministry, issued her resignation on Thursday, saying that she couldn’t stomach the deal.

“I now find myself unable to sincerely support the deal agreed yesterday by cabinet,” she said in a letter posted on Twitter.

Suella Braverman, MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the EU © Global Look Press / Joel Goodman
Braverman said that the deal is not what the British people voted for, and threatened to tear the country apart.

“It prevents an unequivocal exit from a customs union with the EU,” she said.

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Five Saudis Face Death Penalty Over Khashoggi Killing; Crown Prince Cleared

According to the Saudi prosecutor, five people charged are believed to have been involved in “ordering and executing the crime.”

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Via Zerohedge


Saudi Arabia public prosecutor Sheikh Shaalan al-Shaalan said on Thursday that the kingdom will seek the death penalty for five suspects among the 11 charged in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, confirming suspicions that members of the murder squad purportedly sent to “interrogate” Khashoggi will now themselves face beheadings as the Saudi Royal Family closes ranks around the Crown Prince, per the FT.

As for Mohammed bin Salman who runs the day to day affairs of the world’s top oil exporter and is the de facto head of OPEC, the prosecutor said had “no knowledge” of the mission, effectively absolving him of any domestic suspicion, if not international.

The charges were handed down after the kingdom dismissed five senior intelligence officers and arrested 18 Saudi nationals in connection with Khashoggi’s disappearance. The Saudi insider-turned-dissident journalist disappeared on Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul to pick up documents that would have allowed him to marry his fiance. Khashoggi was a legal resident of Virginia.

According to the Saudi prosecutor, five people charged are believed to have been involved in “ordering and executing the crime,” according to CNN.

The prosecutor said that the former Saudi deputy intelligence chief, Ahmed al-Assiri, ordered a mission to force Khashoggi to go back to Saudi Arabia and formed a team of 15 people.

They were divided into three groups, the Saudi Public Prosecutor said: a negotiation team, an intelligence team and a logistical team.

It was the head of the negotiating team who ordered the killing of Khashoggi, the prosecutor said.

The Saudis stuck by latest (ever changing) narrative that the Washington Post columnist was killed after a mission to abduct him went awry. The deputy chief of intelligence ordered that Khashoggi be brought back to the kingdom, Shaalan said. The team killed him after the talks failed and his body was handed to a “collaborator” in Turkey, he said.

Asked whether Saud al-Qahtanti, an aide to Prince Mohammed, had any role in the case, Shaalan said that a royal adviser had a coordinating role and had provided information. The former adviser was now under investigation, the prosecutor said, declining to reveal the names of any of those facing charges.

Al-Shaalan did reveal that a total of 21 suspects are now being held in connection with the case. Notably, the decision to charge the 5 comes after National Security Advisor John Bolton repudiated reports that a recording of Khashoggi’s murder made by Turkish authorities suggested that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was behind the murder plot.

But as long as OPEC+ is planning to do “whatever it takes” to boost oil prices, the US’s willingness to give the Saudis a pass could always be tested if crude prices again turn sharply higher.

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U.S. May Impose Sanctions Against Turkey Over S-400 “Threat” To F-35

The United States continues to consider the S-400 air defense system a threat to its F-35 fifth generation stealth fighter platform.

The Duran

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Authored by Al Masdar News:


Turkish officials have repeatedly insisted that Ankara’s purchase of the advanced Russian air defense system poses no threat whatsoever to the NATO alliance. Last month, the Turkish defense ministry announced that delivery of S-400s to Turkey would begin in October 2019.

The United States continues to consider the S-400 air defense system a threat to its F-35 fifth generation stealth fighter platform, and may impose sanctions against Ankara, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency has reported, citing a high-ranking source in Washington.

“I can’t say for certain whether sanctions will be imposed on Ankara over the S-400 contract, but the possibility is there. The US administration is not optimistic about this issue,” the source said.

While admitting that Turkey was a sovereign state and therefore had the right to make decisions on whom it buys its weapons from, the source stressed that from the perspective of these weapons’ integration with NATO systems, the S-400 was “problematic.”

The source also characterized the deployment of S-400s in areas where US F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighters are set to fly as “a threat,” without elaborating.

Emphasizing that negotiations between Washington and Ankara on the issue were “continuing,” the source said that there were also “positive tendencies” in negotiations between the two countries on the procurement of the Patriot system, Washington’s closest analogue to the S-400 in terms of capabilities.

Designed to stop enemy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles at ranges of up to 400 km and altitudes of up to 30 km, the S-400 is currently the most advanced mobile air defense system in Russia’s arsenal. Russia and India signed a ruble-denominated contract on the delivery of five regiments of S-400s worth $5 billion late last month.

Last week, the Saudi Ambassador to Russia said that talks on the sale of the system to his country were ongoing. In addition to Russia, S-400s are presently operated by Belarus and China, with Beijing expecting another delivery of S-400s by 2020.

Washington has already slapped China with sanctions over its purchase of S-400s and Su-35 combat aircraft in September. India, however, has voiced confidence that it would not be hit with similar restrictions, which the US Treasury has pursued under the 2017 Counter America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

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