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CONFIRMED: Turkey to end support for anti-government terrorists in Syria

The move is a diplomatic victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin and a big snub to the United States.

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In a seismic shift in the alignment in the Syria conflict, Turkey has confirmed it is ending support to anti-government forces in Syria. Additionally, the umbrella political group National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces is to have its recognition from Ankara withdrawn.

This represents Turkey’s position on Syria going full circle since Ankara entered the conflict in the year 2012.

Prior to 2012, Turkey and Syria enjoyed normal relations. As part of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s pivot to the Arab world, a policy some had called neo-Ottomanism, Ankara increasingly saw itself as a key king-maker in Arab affairs, in spite of the fact that few Arab countries sought Turkey’s alliance with the exception of Qatar. In this sense, Turkey’s move to support anti-government forces in Syria was more about opportunism than ideology. Although Erdogan had since his early political career advocated for what many call a Muslim Brotherhood style of Islamist politics, this had never previously prohibited him from having normal relations with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad prior to 2011.

Put another way, Turkey wanted to join the winning side and until Russia’s intervention in Syria at the behest of the Syrian government, many speculated that various anti-government forces which were heavily backed by Barack Obama’s government, would win.

Russia’s intervention combined with the incredible endurance and steadfast patriotism of the Syrian Arab Army has changed this and now both conventional wisdom and battlefield intelligence would point to a victory for the legitimate forces in Syria.

In this sense, Turkey’s exit from its political and apparently military support for anti-government forces in Syria is motivated by pragmatism just as sure as Turkey’s initial entrance into the conflict was motivated by opportunism.

Beyond this however, there are several other motivating factors.

Ever since Donald Trump took office, the United States began gradually pulling its support away from jihadist fighters in Syria while throwing the weight of US military and political power behind the Kurds who have also historically been supported by Israel.

This development his infuriated Erdogan as it would have done with any Turkish leader whether Kemalist or Islamist. While Turkey has expressed its frustrations at the US over the Kudish issue, the US seems to be complete ignoring Turkey and doing precisely the opposite of that which would make its NATO ‘ally’ contented. Turkey has stated that it will not tolerate a Kurdish state on its borders and the US has done precious little to assure Ankara that such a state will not foment.

With the possibility of increased Kurdish autonomy in Syria now increasingly probable and with the prospect of a Kurdish state in either Syria or Iraq more likely than at any time since the end of the Second World War, Turkey has reason to fear that an incredibly hostile force which has been heavily armed by the United States may spring up on its doorstep and more importantly, the doorstep of Turkey’s Kurdish regions which are a hotbed of the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party), a group Turkey labels as a terrorist group.

Secondly, in ending support for anti-government forces in Syria, Turkey is also easing latent tensions in the last remaining Middle Eastern conflict Ankara has had with Moscow. While Russia and Turkey have cooperated economically in spite of being on different sides of the Syrian conflict and while Turkey continues to participate in the Astana Peace Process with Syria’s partners Russia and Iran, Turkey was always viewed with suspicion by many throughout the process because of Ankara’s position in respect of anti-government forces.

It would appear that this is no longer the case as Turkey is now, at least from a legal and technical point of view, de-facto recognising the Syrian government as the only legitimate political force in Syria.

In the longer term, this will help Turkey in its pivot away from the US and EU and towards Russia and Russia’s regional partner Iran. President Erdogan has in recent months been cultivating increasingly good relations with Iran and as Iran is, like Turkey, on China’s economically crucial One Belt–One Road. In this sense, Turkey would need to have cooperated with Iran sooner or later and for the sake of good will in the service of pragmatism, Turkey has decided to do it sooner.

The message to Russia and Iran also sends a strong message to the United States. Turkey now has increasingly little in common with America in spite of maintaining the second largest army in NATO. Turkey is conducing commerce with Russia more vigorously than with any western state, Turkey is buying missile defence systems from Russia and not NATO and Turkey has strongly condemned the latest round of anti-Russian sanctions from the west in a statement filled with words designed to show solidarity with Moscow’s position. Turkey’s position on the Qatar-crisis further puts Ankara in a position which is slightly closer to Iran and much further from that of the United States as President Trump has openly taken the Saudi position in spite of official US neutrality on the matter.

Turkey has in this sense, turned 180 degrees since 2015 when Turkish forces shot down a Russian jet over the Syria-Turkey border. The situation may well have led to a 21st century Russo-Turkish war, but due to President Vladimir Putin’s supreme patience, Turkey and Russia reconciled their relations which continue to grow. Some may point to the 2015 shooting down of the Russian fighter jet and the political fallout resulting from the event as a sign of Turkey’s unreliability as a Russian partner. There may be some truth to this. However, what seems more important is that while Turkey’s aggressive stance towards Russia in 2015 was born out of ambition and supreme arrogance, today’s revised Turkish position is born out of not only pragmatism but the long, some would say very long term needs of the Turkish state.

Finally, some are speculating that Turkey’s move to withdraw support for Syria’s anti-government forces is designed to pave the way for eventual reconciliation with the Syrian government. The Syrian government and moreover many Syrian civilians will not be quick to forgive Turkey for a role in the Syrian conflict viewed as destructive. Because it is now a certainty that the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party will remain in power in Damascus, Turkey will likely eventually have to engage in a thaw with the Syrian government simply because Syria is a neighbour to Turkey, but this road may be long.

In this respect, a lot depends on the Kurds. Once the last vestiges of terrorist fighters are defeated in Syria, whether the Kurds take a cooperative political approach or a hostile approach to the Syrian government will be a key factor in determining Syria-Turkish relations. Should the Kurds grow increasingly hostile to the Syrian government, Damascus may forge some sort of unspoken pact with Turkey to contain what would be a mutual enemy.

Overall though, the move from Turkey is more geo-strategic than it is regionally motivated. The clear winner in this is President Putin. His style of diplomacy which has been patient with Turkey’s frivolity in Syria for years seems to have finally paid off. Turkey is now closer to leaving NATO than one could have ever imagined. In many ways, Turkey has already left NATO in all but name. Russia’s historic nemesis is no longer a problem for Russia, but it may become a big problem for the United States.

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Harry
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Harry

They’re actually terminating the petrodollar-jihadi contracts. Without NATO aid, there wouldn’t be any anti-government terrorism in Syria.

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

ISIS is already moving by Saudi largess to Malaysia and the Philippines.

Simon
Guest
Simon

In Nov/Dec 2012 the Arab League, Turkey and the main NATO aggressors all recognised this Syrian National Coalition as the “sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people”. They still do. Though Macron has also been mulling the idea of reopening the French Embassy in Damascus. So when they claimed repeatedly that “Assad has lost legitimacy” – they were sort of right, purely from their own States’ official point of view. It was another fig leaf for their illegal interventions. However this must mean that Turkey now recognises the Assad Government of the SAR once again as the sole legitimate representative… Read more »

Daisy Adler
Guest
Daisy Adler

It is called “realpolitik”. Turkey concluded that their alliance with US/NATO/Saudi axis for regime change in Syria had failed, and whistles the end of the match. US can go back home, but Syria remains Turkey’s neighbor. Besides, the two countries have a common interest, against Syria partition, wanted by Washington.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

I would say that EVERYONE has a common interest against the Anglo-Zionist empire.

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

Yes, we’re going to die by the billions because of the manipulations of the ruling vampires of the Anglo-Zionist empire that have locked massive climatic and geological changes.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

Before reading the article I posted it on, and said “Turkey has ‘de facto’ left NATO.
Then Adam Garrie confirmed my conclusion.
A am rather chuffed.
A very good day for the multi-polar project.

Shahna
Guest

It’s not in Turkey’s interests to leave NATO.
As a member of NATO – other NATO nations can’t attack or invade them… how would NATO members both attack AND defend a member nation at the same time?
….That would force the break-up of NATO and NATO exists to defend the USA.

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

NATO already is in the process of breaking up.

Shahna
Guest

But until it does Chapter V is still there.

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

It’s very much part of their breaking up. Europeans do not allow their troops to be used in American war crimes around the globe, which is what NATO has become. Chapter V is a crock that no one buys.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

Never say “can’t.” All that is changing as the Anglo-Zionist Empire enters its death-throes.

Shahna
Guest

Not even the USA can have its cake and eat it.
NATO can’t attack and defend a member state at the same time.

GeorgeG
Guest
GeorgeG

As with all tips of icebergs, what is below the tip is not what everyone initialy focussed on, but when the tip comes into sight, it means that the mass of the iceberg beneath has been growing and has reached a new degree of maturity. This is therefore a good indication of the momentum and maturity of the OBOR initiative. It is no longer a “long-erm prospect.” My guess would be that Erdogan is not only calculating that his “opposition” against the Syrian government wil not succeed, but that OBOR is unstoppable. He has to count on concrete results, and… Read more »

Shahna
Guest

Excellent comment, thank you….
May I suggest you hit Edit and press Enter here and there to paragraph it?
It makes it infinitely more readable and, I think, more will read it – ‘cos such a large mass of words is kinda ….. off-putting and it’s well worth the read…..

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

“seeding Israel with massive hydraulic projects to reroute water into the Dead Sea where massive desalination plants will be built, providing water to both Israel and Palestine, with gigantic power plants in the package.” That sounds like dreaming to me. Route water into the Dead Sea already shrunken and more brackish than ever? How will the neighbors of the Zionist state ever be agreeable? Do you expect the Zionist apartheid state to share any water with the Palestinians? So far, all they’ve done is stolen it. Also, severe desertification all around the Middle East is already locked in by climate… Read more »

Shahna
Guest

I was wondering about both those points too… Perhaps sufficient water in the Dead Sea would clean out much of the brack – dunno – but this is China and not the US creating a project that ultimately will only rob Peter to pay Paul (or rob Ahmed to pay Uncle Sam in their case.) Re your second point: US influence in the ME is declining – when it goes the way of it’s paymaster (“just print more”) British and French influence will go with it. Israel will then HAVE to come to terms with both its neighbours AND its… Read more »

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

My concern is that none of them will be able to survive. Imagine the Negev expanding to cover the whole region.

Shahna
Guest

I hear you – but this is CHINA – not some Western/American/European bunch of megacorps only out to squeeze as much money from investors as they can and drop everything after 20 years of cost increases.

If Libya can build the Great Man-Made River project – then China can bring water to the Dead Sea.

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

You could research how China is handling its own rapidly decreasing water resources.

Libya was a special case, and aquifers don’t last forever. Saudi Arabia has almost exhausted theirs growing wheat. Wells are going dry. Eventually, the oligarchs will flee, and the common people will die horribly.

Shahna
Guest

Nothing lasts forever – even the earth will dry to dust one day.

But if it works – good –
if it lasts for 20 years – that’s 20 years people get water
And if it doesn’t – China’s problem.

I’m not sure what your gripe is?

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

So now I have to have a gripe? Why? Am I required to dodge reality?

Shahna
Guest

And Libya was only a “special case” because it was that crazy guy from Africa-FFS who lived in a tent and wore funny clothes!

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

Sorry, I thought it was obvious that I was talking geologically.

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

Desalination of water from the Dead Sea is extremely unlikely…..
Brackish water has more salinity than fresh water but not as much as sea water.
So how the Dead Sea with a much higher salt content than normal sea water could have become brackish is not possible.
You may be confused with the diversion of the Jordan River.

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

You need to re-read my comment and the one I was replying to. It’s not my confusion. It’s my guess that the Dead Sea is already more brackish than the waste water generated by the osmosis process on normal sea water.

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

You do not understand the meaning of brackish

⁣Sent from BlueMail ​

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

Okay, I misused brackish. But that’s the only point you’ve made.

https://www.livescience.com/56047-why-is-dead-sea-so-salty.html

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

The rerouting of the Jordan River is what has caused the Dead Sea to recede….and is causing a disaster which seems to be affecting all groundwater in the area…George is blowing smoke when he believes that desalination plants will be built THERE for the purpose of presumably producing water for irrigation or personal use in both Israel and Palestine. .
So you are right in that respect. But water that has 6 times the amount of salt than seawater is not likely to be desalinized for any public use. Desalination of seawater is very common….

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

Thank you for agreeing with me.

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

You’re welcome :-))

kemerd
Guest
kemerd

This is wishfull thinking. US holds Erdogan from the balls and significantly turkish elites of every kind are pro US. when the US needs Turkey and asks something erdogan is more than willing to say how high

Simon
Guest
Simon

Surely that’s why he had his purges? 10,000s of ‘elites’ arrested or sacked. And the fear of God (or rather, the Sultan) put in many many more.
Turkey could well be the first country to break from NATO for real.

Shahna
Guest

I’m not sure there are many Turkish elites who support the ‘wrong’ side left – the way that guy has been running around purging places…… exhausting just watching him.

lickeyleaks
Guest
lickeyleaks

I was hoping to see this on Al Jazerra english news like they shew the 7 white helmets dead last night,but they were on about Virginia riots ect and nazism and now its been knocked offline!!

stevek9
Guest
stevek9

“A problem for the United States” … no. A problem for the ‘war party’ sure. You keep conflating what is best for Lockheed Martin with what is best for the American people. That is hardly true. The US has no enemies, and no need for an empire, or military alliances. Although it is often pointed out that oil is a primary reason for empire, uranium can eliminate the need for oil if there is a will to do it. Would take 20 or 30 years, but that is all. The United States is a continent-sized country that has everything it… Read more »

tjoes
Guest
tjoes

The middle east de-stabilization has been according to the Oded Yinon plan…forcing Jewish refugees to flee to Israel. In 2015 there were 50,000 more Jewish refugee applications to go to Israel than the year before, so it’s clearly worked (is working).

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

What color are they? Bibi’s regime only wants white ones. If they are Russian, they don’t have to be Jewish. They can learn while serving in the army.

Suzanne Giraud
Guest
Suzanne Giraud

I agree, stevek9, that it is not the American people per se.
Here’s a video of ex-Congresswoman, Ms. Cynthia McKinney “This video explains how the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) continued mandatory demands that all U.S. Congressional
Representatives pledge:

that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, to Israel’s military superiority and that they vote for funding of Israel.”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhYaioyGAYk

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

I hope she makes the ZioCon thugs pay for financing her out of office.

Shahna
Guest

WHEN the American people PROTEST the endless wars, destruction of nations and daily mass murder their nation deals out daily and has dealt out daily for years now …. THEN… I will distinguish between the American people and the cünts THEY ELECT to office.

samo war
Guest
samo war

games devills guns loby ?

JDo
Guest
JDo

Oooops …..White House says Russia increasingly isolated over Syria

https://www.yahoo.com/news/white-house-says-russia-increasingly-isolated-over-syria-185224406.html

Shahna
Guest

…I can’t think of a better reward for the nation that orchestrated that ‘Gulen’ coup in Turkey.

gbardizbanian
Guest
gbardizbanian

My message to Putin and Trump will be short: never trust Turkey.

Constantine
Guest
Constantine

The honesty of Turkey’s alleged shift will be tested when the inevitable offensive against the jihadist enclave in Idlib starts. If Turkey has truly decided to stop aiding the jihadists, that must be shown through a swift deterioration of their capacities due to lack of supplies, since all of them come from Erdogan’s turf.

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Trump’s wish to take the US out of NATO leaves NeoCons seething

The US President has seen the truth of the irrelevance of NATO, but there is enormous resistance to change.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Tucker Carlson, Fox News and Russian and American news outlets alike have picked up the story that US President Donald Trump has on numerous occasions, opined that the United States would do well to depart from the North Atlantic Military Organization, or NATO.

This wish caused enormous fury and backlash from those opposed, which, oddly enough include both Democrats and Republicans. Their anger and alarm over this idea is such that the media networks through much of the US are alive with the idea of impeaching the President or bringing 25th Amendment proceedings against him for insanity!

Take a look:

Tucker Carlson, as usual, nailed it.

NATO was formed to make Western Europe secure in the face of a perceived Soviet threat. In 1991, the USSR collapsed and the threat of Ivan the Communist bad guy collapsed with it.

But 28 years later, NATO is still here. And, why?

Well, many “experts” continue to point at Russia as a threat, though after that statement no one seems honestly able to elucidate precisely how Russia would, in fact, threaten any nation, take over it, or conquer the world. Indeed, if anyone seems to understand the perversity of being in charge of the whole world, it seems to be Russia, as expressed by politician and LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky (see how this is so here).

Zhironovsky observed that China is the other nation that is running at full force, but viewing the problems the US is having with being the leader of the world, China stops short of trying to attain this position itself. The question becomes “What does a nation that rules the world actually do then?”

President Trump appears to be seeing the same question, or some similar variant based on the same theme. NATO serves no constructive purpose anymore. Despite the conflicts in Ukraine and Saudi Arabia and Yemen, Israel and Syria, there simply are no great threats in the world as it stands today. While there are certainly still wars, none of these wars represents an existential threat to the United States.

Why wouldn’t a US leader want out? In fact, there is further no existential threat to Europe from any present war, nor is there a threat from Russia itself. In fact, Russia has been entering into business relations with many European countries who wish to buy cheap and easily available Russian natural gas. Turkey purchased an S-400 antimissile system in addition to its US made Patriot battery.

There would seem to be very little in the way of concrete and reliable reasoning for the alliance to continue.

But the American Deep State and liberal establishment have come together to resist the US President in a truly furious manner, and it is revelatory of the hypocrisy of anti-Trump politics that American liberals, typically the “sing Kum-ba-yah peacenik” crowd, displays paroxysms of outrage and horror that NATO might be disbanded.

As the result of that, the American media is determined to choke off any possibility of one thinking, “well, what if we were to disband NATO?”

Why is this?

Simple. A lot of people make their living by preparing for the Russian “threat”, and it would mean the end of their work, the end of their money, and a great disruption in life. It does not matter that while this is true, these same people could conceivably apply their considerable skill sets to deal with real problems that face a world that no longer has a dipolar alignment, or to help prevent a real problem from arising from real situations, such as the recent and current Islamization of many European cities.

One of the great afflictions of American politics and policy has been that so much of it appears to be focused on “short term” or “no term” matters. We see this with the problems related to border security, the coming advent of AI-based automated processes that may furlough low-skilled workers in tremendous amounts in a short period of time. Rather than solve real problems, the elected representatives and media seem more content to oppose Donald Trump when he, as a businessman ought to do, makes a federal case out of what he sees on the horizon.

The Border Wall, for example, is a highly logical part of a properly handled set of immigration policies. But the very direct behavior of President Trump helped amplify the resentment the Democrats still hold against him for defeating Hillary Clinton in 2016, and so, the Democrats have effectively said “nuts!” to the needs of the nation and they take out their resentment on the nation by refusing to negotiate with the President about how to close the border.

NATO is another example. The alliance served its purpose. It is time for the alliance to end, or to be radically restructured in terms of new goals based in real, and not just flimsy rhetorical, needs.

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BREXIT storm deepens, as parliamentary coup may be forming against May and Corbyn

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 166.

Alex Christoforou

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Emboldened by Theresa May’s lack of leadership and will to deliver the Brexit that UK citizens voted for in a democratic referendum, remain MPs are now mobilizing to do the EU’s bidding in forcing Britain to nullify the Brexit process and eventually stay a part of the European Union.

After yesterday’s thumping of May’s Brexit plan in parliament, The Times’ Matthew Parris is now openly floating the idea that “it’s time for parliament to wrest control from the zombies, stating that “Theresa May isn’t any good” and “Jeremy Corbyn is equally useless”…

There exists no leadership in either the government or the opposition capable of taking us through this mess. No hidden strengths, no unexpected qualities; no whizzbang new thinking, no magic. Forget May. Forget Corbyn. Salvation is not coming from these directions.
So it’s up to parliament. MPs are coming to understand that they have to act. It has been stealing on parliamentarians for months now and close contacts between leading members of both parties have been made and have been deepening.
From within the Commons a shadow executive must emerge, and is beginning to. Labour’s Yvette Cooper talks to the Tories’ Dominic Grieve. Around them is a cluster of senior parliamentarians who are getting used to talking.
A common purpose unites them: rescuing the country from a no-deal Brexit that only a small minority actually want. Whether this is to be done by seeking a better deal than May’s or by a new referendum, or both, they need to find a way soon. An “indicative” vote of the House of Commons may help guide them.
And however speedily the House can find its leadership and direction, it’s hard to imagine this can be done without an extension to the Article 50 negotiating period.
Overwhelmingly, the conclusion to be drawn from last night’s vote is that parliament must wrest control from a zombie prime minister, a zombie cabinet and a zombie opposition. I heard in May’s response to the result the hint of the straw at which she may now clutch: a Labour-style Brexit under a Tory nominal prime minister. I would be amazed if her party would accept it.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the turbulent and uncertain road ahead in the Brexit saga as a March deadline looms.

Shifting sands, and betrayal at the highest level is now crystallizing, as hints of a possible parliamentary coup against May and Corbyn is being floated as a possible solution to the impasse that will ultimately steer the UK back under EU control, and cancel the Brexit referendum.

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Via Straits Times

The words “humiliated” and “crushed” featured prominently in British newspaper headlines following Parliament’s massive rejection of a divorce deal with the European Union on Tuesday (Jan 15).

Dailies said Prime Minister Theresa May’s grip on power was waning after the huge vote against the agreement struck between her government and Brussels, as she prepared to fight a no-confidence motion on Wednesday.

“May humiliated by 230 votes,” The Daily Mirror tabloid said.

The Daily Telegraph wrote: “Humiliation for Prime Minister as MPs overwhelmingly reject deal and Labour tables no confidence vote.”

The broadsheet’s parliamentary sketchwriter Michael Deacon said Mrs May had somehow defied the odds by making a historic event an anticlimax.

“Her speech had all the brio of a mouldy gym sock,” he wrote.

“She sounded as winningly persuasive as a mother snapping at her children to eat up their cabbage or go to bed hungry.”

The vote itself “was as if Agatha Christie has allowed Miss Marple to solve the murder half way through and spend the rest of the novel pottering about in the garden”.

‘ZOMBIE PM’

The Times columnist Matthew Parris said it was time for senior MPs to take over the Brexit process.

“There exists no leadership in either the government or the opposition capable of taking us through this mess,” he wrote following the vote.

“Theresa May isn’t any good; she doesn’t have a fiendish, secret strategy; she’s careless with the truth and will say anything to get her through another week. She doesn’t know what to do.

“Overwhelmingly, the conclusion to be drawn… is that Parliament must wrest control from a zombie Prime Minister, a zombie Cabinet and a zombie opposition.”

The Daily Mail said the defeat left Mrs May’s power “hanging by a thread”, calling it a “devastating result, which threatens to plunge the Brexit process into chaos”.

The Sun, Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper, said: “Crushed PM dares MPs to vote for general election after record Brexit defeat.”

“The crushing defeat – which saw 118 Tories turn against the PM – is the worst since the advent of full democracy and suggests Mrs May will never win enough support for her strategy,” said the tabloid.

The Financial Times newspaper ran a headline reading: “May’s defeat spells trouble for the EU’s Brexit approach.”

“Huge loss leaves PM in race against time,” the broadsheet said.

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Ukraine’s Cult of Stepan Bandera: Not a Detail, but a Cornerstone

Unlike Poroshenko with his aerial bombings of the Russian-speaking Donbass in 2014 and 2015, Bandera killed the “wrong” victims, the representatives of those nations that are valued even by the modern Western media.

Dmitry Babich

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Authored by Dmitry Babich via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


During the recent years of the confrontation between Russia and Ukraine, there has been one issue where the Western mainstream press simply cannot fully ignore or reject the Russian arguments. This issue concerns the life and actions of Stepan Bandera (1909-1959) and his followers from what is known as the “Banderite” faction of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN, a far-right organization that took terrorist actions against Polish and Soviet officials from the 1920s to the 1950s and which is now legally protected from any criticism in Ukraine).

THE “WRONG” AND “RIGHT” VICTIMS

Because Bandera was born on January 1, 1909, celebrations of his birthday have become disgusting New Year’s rituals in Ukraine in recent years, with thousands participating in Nazi-style torch-lit marches that include shouted protests against “Putin’s Russia” and rants such as, “Jews out!” which are heard by everyone except the police. This New Year was no exception, since the current Ukrainian government under President Petro Poroshenko (who publicly identified himself as a Banderite after taking office in 2014) officially added Bandera’s 110th birthday to the list of Ukraine’s most important anniversaries. This time, there were several quiet voices of condemnation heard in Poland, Israel, and even the US. Why? In truth, torches, masks, political murders, and mob attacks against “pro-Russian” public figures are nothing new in post-Maidan Ukraine. And these things usually pose no problem for the mainstream press of the US and its allies. So, why is Bandera an exception?

The answer is ethnic, as awful as that may sound. Unlike Poroshenko with his aerial bombings of the Russian-speaking Donbass in 2014 and 2015, Bandera killed the “wrong” victims, the representatives of those nations that are valued even by the modern Western media, with its double and triple standards. In the 1930s Bandera killed Polish officials, in the 1940s his people killed civilian Jews and Polish peasants, and these are groups whose plight even the New York Times cannot ignore today. If Bandera’s infamous slogan “Death to enemies!” had been directed only against “disloyal” Russians and anti-Banderite Ukrainians (the groups currently persecuted by Poroshenko), Bandera would have been no different from his modern admirers in the Ukrainian government. But Bandera’s followers from the OUN decimated the Jewish population of Lvov and Kiev in 1941, trying to curry favor with the advancing Germans. And between 1943 and 1944, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), taking its orders from Bandera’s OUN officers, ethnically cleansed his native Western Ukraine of ethnic Poles, killing from 70,000-100,000 of them (the infamous “slaughter of Volhynia”). The aim was to create an “ethnically pure” Ukraine before the arrival of the Red Army in late 1944. Documents published by the Polish historian Grzegorz Motyka indicate that Bandera and the OUN hoped that the Red Army would soon be replaced by Anglo-American domination. “His strategy was to clean up the house before the arrival of the real master,” Motyka concludes in his book.

THE LADY OF THE RADA VS. ISRAEL’S PRESIDENT

The American domination took another 70 years, but it did come. And now the Banderites’ (and Poroshenko’s) only historic disagreement with the West is over the infamous “ethnic cleansing,” to which Bandera’s “glorious heroes” subjected Ukraine in 1941-1944. When Israeli President Reuven Rivlin dared to raise the issue during his visit to Ukraine in 2016, he got a scolding from the vice speaker of the Ukrainian parliament (Verkhovna Rada), Irina Gerashchenko: “The Israeli president allowed himself some incorrect and undiplomatic words about the OUN’s tragic history,” Gerashchenko said at the time. “It was highly inappropriate, especially now, when Ukraine is fighting for its independence.” Gerashchenko forgot to mention the fact that Babi Yar, the burial site of some 30,000 Jews killed by German and Ukrainian Nazis in Kiev in 1941, was vandalized nine times between 2015 and 2016, according to data provided by the Ukrainian Jewish Committee.

WHY THE WEST WANTS TO FORGET, BUT CANNOT

In the immediate aftermath of the Maidan coup in 2014, the mainstream press was ready to forget even that, since an honest account of Bandera’s activities between 1939 and 1959 could rekindle memories of the undesirable parallels to the “resistance to Russian occupation” by Poroshenko’s army in the Donbass in 2014 and 2015. Between the summer of 2014 and the winter of 2015, about 10,000 people died there, victims of the aircraft and tanks sent by Poroshenko (just months earlier, the US and the EU had been unable to abide the use of truncheons by the police of the ousted president, Viktor Yanukovych). At the time, the NYT called Bandera the “Ukrainian nationalists’ hero.” Obviously, the NYT’s authors were taking their cues from the Washington Post’s Anne Applebaum, with her Banderite headline, “Nationalism is exactly what Ukraine Needs” in the once-glorious New Republic.

But here the mainstream press tried to kill off a memory that will never die — the memory of how Hitler’s East European Nazi allies participated in the destruction of the region’s Jewish population in the early 1940s. This was something not even Anne Applebaum could make people forget.

In his articles in the American press, the director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, Eduard Dolinsky, tried to explain to the American public that Bandera’s cult is not an isolated, unpleasant phenomenon: Stepan Bandera never acted alone, he represented a crudely nationalist ideology. Unfortunately, this ideology reigns triumphant in modern Ukraine behind the “liberal” façade displayed for the West. For example, Dolinsky notes that Poroshenko’s hypocritical speeches memorializing Jewish victims can be heard next to, say, a memorial to OUN activist Ivan Rogach, whose newspaper called Jews “the greatest enemy of the people” in 1941. “The Ukrainian leadership set itself on the course of rehabilitating anti-Semitism and introducing censorship of history,” concludes the official statement of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human-rights group, famous for its work to bring Nazi criminals to justice.

THE RUSSIAN QUESTION BEHIND THE JEWISH ONE

If the West cannot afford to be completely silent about Bandera’s participation in the Holocaust, it is willingly ignoring another huge injustice that is inseparable from Bandera’s cult in modern Ukraine — the erasure of the Russian and anti-Banderite component of Ukraine’s historic memory. In 2017, Kiev’s Vatutin Avenue was renamed Bandera Avenue, resulting in an outcry in Russia and complete silence in the West. This avenue, a major thoroughfare in the Ukrainian capital, had originally been named in honor of General Nikolai Vatutin, who liberated Kiev from Nazi occupation in 1943 and died in a shootout with the OUN’s guerillas in 1944. At the time, there was no question about where America’s sympathies lay: the fight against Hitler was not yet over, and Vatutin, born in 1901 to a peasant family living immediately adjacent to the future Russian-Ukrainian border, was a useful ally for the United States. Will Bandera and his modern followers be a good replacement? Only someone with Poroshenko’s plans for Ukraine or with Anne Applebaum’s views on history could agree.

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