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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group National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces is to have its recognition from Ankara withdrawn.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
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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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Whose Money Stoked Religious Strife in Ukraine – and Who Tried to Steal It?

Was $25 million in American tax dollars allocated for a payoff to stir up religious turmoil and violence in Ukraine?

Jim Jatras

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Authored by James George Jatras via Strategic Culture:


Was $25 million in American tax dollars allocated for a payoff to stir up religious turmoil and violence in Ukraine? Did Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (unsuccessfully) attempt to divert most of it into his own pocket?

Last month the worldwide Orthodox Christian communion was plunged into crisis by the decision of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in Constantinople to recognize as legitimate schismatic pseudo-bishops anathematized by the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is an autonomous part of the Russian Orthodox Church. In so doing not only has Patriarch Bartholomew besmirched the global witness of Orthodoxy’s two-millennia old Apostolic faith, he has set the stage for religious strife in Ukraine and fratricidal violence – which has already begun.

Starting in July, when few were paying attention, this analyst warned about the impending dispute and how it facilitated the anti-Christian moral agenda of certain marginal “Orthodox” voices like “Orthodoxy in Dialogue,” Fordham University’s “Orthodox Christian Studies Center,” and The Wheel. These “self-professed teachers presume to challenge the moral teachings of the faith” (in the words of Fr. John Parker) and “prowl around, wolves in sheep’s clothing, forming and shaping false ideas about the reality of our life in Christ.” Unsurprisingly such groups have embraced Constantinople’s neopapal self-aggrandizement and support for the Ukrainian schismatics.

No one – and certainly not this analyst – would accuse Patriarch Bartholomew, most Ukrainian politicians, or even the Ukrainian schismatics of sympathizing with advocacy of such anti-Orthodox values. And yet these advocates know they cannot advance their goals if the conciliar and traditional structure of Orthodoxy remains intact. Thus they welcome efforts by Constantinople to centralize power while throwing the Church into discord, especially the Russian Church, which is vilified in some Western circles precisely because it is a global beacon of traditional Christian moral witness.

This aspect points to another reason for Western governments to support Ukrainian autocephaly as a spiritual offensive against Russia and Orthodoxy. The post-Maidan leadership harp on the “European choice” the people of Ukraine supposedly made in 2014, but they soft-pedal the accompanying moral baggage the West demands, symbolized by “gay” marches organized over Christian objections in Orthodox cities like AthensBelgradeBucharestKievOdessaPodgoricaSofia, and Tbilisi. Even under the Trump administration, the US is in lockstep with our European Union friends in pressuring countries liberated from communism to adopt such nihilistic “democratic, European values.”

Perhaps even more important to its initiators, the row over Ukraine aims to break what they see as the “soft power” of the Russian Federation, of which the Orthodox Church is the spiritual heart and soul. As explained by Valeria Z. Nollan, professor emerita of Russian Studies at Rhodes College:

‘The real goal of the quest for autocephaly [i.e., complete self-governing status independent of the Moscow Patriarchate] of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is a de facto coup: a political coup already took place in 2014, poisoning the relations between western Ukraine and Russia, and thus another type of coup – a religious one – similarly seeks to undermine the canonical relationship between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Moscow.’

In furthering these twin objectives (morally, the degrading of Orthodox Christianity; politically, undermining the Russian state as Orthodoxy’s powerful traditional protector) it is increasingly clear that the United States government – and specifically the Department of State – has become a hands-on fomenter of conflict. After a short period of appropriately declaring that “any decision on autocephaly is an internal [Orthodox] church matter,” the Department within days reversed its position and issued a formal statement (in the name of Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, but clearly drafted by the European bureau) that skirted a direct call for autocephaly but gave the unmistakable impression of such backing. This is exactly how it was reported in the media, for example, “US backs Ukrainian Church bid for autocephaly.” Finally, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo weighed in personally with his own endorsement as did the US Reichskommissar for UkraineKurt Volker.

The Threat…

There soon became reason to believe that the State Department’s involvement was not limited to exhortations. As reported by this analyst in October, according to an unconfirmed report originating with the members of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (an autonomous New York-based jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate), in July of this year State Department officials (possibly including Secretary Pompeo personally) warned the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (also based in New York but part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate) that the US government was aware of the misappropriation of a large amount of money, about $10 million, from estimated $37 million raised from believers for the construction of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine in New York. The State Department warning also reportedly noted that federal prosecutors have documentary evidence confirming the withdrawal of these funds abroad on the orders of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. It was suggested that Secretary Pompeo would “close his eyes” to this theft in exchange for movement by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in favor of Ukrainian autocephaly, which helped set Patriarch Bartholomew on his current course.

[Further details on the St. Nicholas scandal are available here, but in summary: Only one place of worship of any faith was destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attack in New York and only one building not part of the World Trade Center complex was completely destroyed. That was St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, a small urban parish church established at the end of World War I and dedicated to St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, who is very popular with Greeks as the patron of sailors. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, and following a lengthy legal battle with the Port Authority, which opposed rebuilding the church, in 2011 the Greek Archdiocese launched an extensive campaign to raise funds for a brilliant innovative design by the renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava based on traditional Byzantine forms. Wealthy donors and those of modest means alike enthusiastically contributed millions to the effort. Then – poof! In December 2017, suddenly all construction was halted for lack of funds and remains stalled to this day. Resumption would require having an estimated $2 million on hand. Despite the Archdiocese’s calling in a major accounting firm to conduct an audit, there’s been no clear answer to what happened to the money. Both the US Attorney and New York state authorities are investigating.]

This is where things get back to Ukraine. If the State Department wanted to find the right button to push to spur Patriarch Bartholomew to move on the question of autocephaly, the Greek Archdiocese in the US is it. Let’s keep in mind that in his home country, Turkey, Patriarch Bartholomew has virtually no local flock – only a few hundred mostly elderly Greeks left huddled in Istanbul’s Phanar district. (Sometimes the Patriarchate is referred to simply as “the Phanar,” much as “the Vatican” is shorthand for the Roman Catholic papacy.) Whatever funds the Patriarchate derives from other sources (the Greek government, the Roman Catholic Church, the World Council of Churches), the Phanar’s financial lifeline is the ethnic Greek community (including this analyst) in what is still quaintly called the “Diaspora” in places like America, Australia, and New Zealand. And of these, the biggest cash cow is the Greek-Americans.

That’s why, when Patriarch Bartholomew issued a call in 2016 for what was billed as an Orthodox “Eighth Ecumenical Council” (the first one since the year 787!), the funds largely came from America, to the tune of up to $8 million according to the same confidential source as will be noted below. Intended by some as a modernizing Orthodox “Vatican II,” the event was doomed to failure by a boycott organized by Moscow over what the latter saw as Patriarch Bartholomew’s adopting papal or even imperial prerogatives – now sadly coming to bear in Ukraine.

…and the Payoff

On top of the foregoing, it now appears that the State Department’s direct hand in this sordid business may not have consisted solely of wielding the “stick” of legal threat: there’s reason to believe there was a “carrot” too. It very recently came to the attention of this analyst, via an unsolicited, confidential source in the Greek Archdiocese in New York, that a payment of $25 million in US government money was made to Constantinople to encourage Patriarch Bartholomew to move forward on Ukraine.

The source for this confidential report was unaware of earlier media reports that the same figure – $25 million – was paid by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to the Phanar as an incentive for Patriarch Bartholomew to move forward on creating an independent Ukrainian church. Moreover, Poroshenko evidently tried to shortchange the payment:

‘Peter [Petro] Poroshenko — the president of Ukraine — was obligated to return $15 million US dollars to the Patriarch of Constantinople, which he had appropriated for himself.

‘As reported by Izvestia, this occurred after the story about Bartholomew’s bribe and a “vanishing” large sum designated for the creation of a Unified Local Orthodox Church in Ukraine surfaced in the mass media.

‘As reported, on the eve of Poroshenko’s visit in Istanbul, a few wealthy people of Ukraine “chipped in” in order to hasten the process of creating a Unified Local Orthodox Church. About $25 million was collected. They were supposed to go to the award ceremony for Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople for the issuing of a tomos of autocephaly. [A tomos is a small book containing a formal announcement.] However, in the words of people close to the backer, during the visit on April 9, Poroshenko handed over only $10 million.

‘As a result, having learned of the deal, Bartholomew cancelled the participation of the delegation of the Phanar – the residence of the Patriarch of Constantinople, in the celebration of the 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia on July 27 in Kiev.

‘”Such a decision from Bartholomew’s side was nothing other than a strong ultimatum to Poroshenko to return the stolen money. Of course, in order to not lose his face in light of the stark revelations of the creation of the tomos of autocephaly for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Peter Alexeevich [Poroshenko] had to just return those $15 million for the needs of Constantinople,” a trusted source explained to reporters.

‘For preliminary information, only after receiving the remaining sum, did Bartholomew finally give his consent to sending a delegation of the Phanar to Kiev … ‘

Now, it’s possible that the two identical figures of $25 million refer to two different pots of money (a cool $50 million!) but that seems unlikely. It’s more probable the reports refer to the same sum as viewed from the sending side (the State Department, the Greek Archdiocese) and the delivery side (Poroshenko, Constantinople).

Lending credibility to the confidential information from New York and pointing to the probability that it refers to the same payment that Poroshenko reportedly sought to raid for himself are the following observations:

  • When Poroshenko generously offered Patriarch Bartholomew $10 million, the latter was aware that the full amount was $25 million and demanded the $15 million Poroshenko had held back. How did the Patriarch know that, unless he was informed via New York of the full sum?
  • If the earlier-reported $25 million was really collected from “a few wealthy people of Ukraine” who “chipped in,” given the cutthroat nature of disputes among Ukrainian oligarchs would Poroshenko (an oligarch in his own right) have risked trying to shortchange the payment? Why has not even one such Ukrainian donor been identified?
  • Without going into all the details, the Phanar and the Greek Archdiocese have a long relationship with US administrations of both parties going back at least to the Truman administration, encompassing some decidedly unattractive episodes. In such a history, a mere bribe for a geopolitical shot against Moscow would hardly be a first instance or the worst.

As one of this analyst’s Greek-American connections puts it: “It’s easy to comprehend the Patriarchate bowing to the pressure of State Dept. blackmail… not overly savory, but understandable. However, it’s another thing altogether if Kiev truly “purchased” their autocephalous status from an all too willing Patriarchate … which would relegate the Patriarch to ‘salesman’ status and leave the faithful wondering what else might be offered to the highest bidder the next time it became convenient to hold a Patriarchal ‘fire sale’ at the Phanar?!”

To add insult to injury, you’d think Constantinople at least could pay back some of the $7-8 million wasted on the Crete 2016 debacle to restart the St. Nicholas project in New York. Evidently the Phanar has better things to spend it on, like the demonstrative environmentalism of “the Green Patriarch” and, together with Pope Francis, welcoming Muslim migrants to Europe through Greece. Of course maybe there’s no need to worry, as the Ukraine “sale” was consistent with Constantinople’s papal ambitions, an uncanonical claim to “universal” status, and misuse of incarnational language and adoption of a breathtakingly arrogant tone that would cause even the most ultramontane proponent of the Rome’s supremacy to blush.

Finally, it seems that, for the time being at least, Constantinople doesn’t intend to create an independent Ukrainian church but rather an autonomous church under its own authority. It’s unclear whether or not Poroshenko or the State Department, in such event, would believe they had gotten their money’s worth. Perhaps they would. After all, the issue here is less what is appropriate for Ukraine than what strikes at Russia and injures the worldwide Christian witness of the Orthodox Church. To that end, it doesn’t matter whether the new illegal body is Constantinopolitan or Kievan, just so long as it isn’t a “Moskal church” linked to Russia.

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EU Army: Fact or Fiction? (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 152.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and International Affairs and Security Analyst via Moscow, Mark Sleboda discuss the possibility, and feasibility, of putting together an EU army, as French President Macron is now boasting about.

Will an EU Army replace, rival, or fold into NATO? How will the US respond to Europe’s military initiative, and how will Russia deal an EU army?

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Via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


“Insulting” – that’s how US President Donald Trump sharply reacted to the idea of a “real European army” proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron.

And it was how Macron rationalized the need for an independent military force for Europe that perhaps most irked the American leader.

Speaking on a tour of World War I battlefields in northern France last week, Macron said that Europe needed to defend itself from “China, Russia and even the United States of America”.

It was a pretty extraordinary choice of words by the French leader. To frame the US among an array of perceived foreign enemy powers was a devastating blow to the concept of a much-vaunted transatlantic alliance.

Since the Second World War, ending 1945, the concept of an American-European alliance has been the bedrock of a supposed inviolable, mutual defense pact. That nearly seven-decade alliance is now being questioned more than ever.

Macron’s call for a European army was further backed up by German Chancellor Angela Merkel who also pointedly said this week that Europe can no longer rely on the US for its defense.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has welcomed the proposal for Europe to form its own military organization, independent from Washington. No doubt, Moscow views such a development as augmenting a move towards a multipolar international order, which Russia and China, among others, have been advocating in opposition to American ambitions of unipolar dominance.

When Trump arrived in Paris last weekend along with dozens of other world leaders, including Putin, to commemorate the centennial anniversary marking the end of World War I, there was a notable frostiness between Macron and the American president. Only a few months ago, Macron and Trump had appeared the best of friends in what some observers referred to as a “bromance”.

During the Paris events, Macron sought to placate Trump by saying that the European army proposal would have a “complementary” role to the US-led NATO military alliance. However, their relationship further soured when Macron later delivered a speech in which he made a veiled rebuke of Trump’s “nationalist” politics.

Days later, on returning to Washington, Trump then fired off a fusillade of angry tweets attacking Macron in very personal terms over a range of issues, including “unfair” economic trade and France’s alleged ungrateful attitude towards the US liberation of Paris from Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

The rift between the US and Europe has been brewing even before Trump’s presidency. For years, Washington has been carping that the Europeans need to spend more on military defense, claiming that the US has been shouldering the burden for too long. Trump has taken the griping to a new, higher level. Recall that he has threatened to pull out of NATO because the Europeans were “free loading” on American “protection”.

The irony is that now the French and German leaders are talking about setting up their own military defenses, Trump has blown a fuse.

Evidently, the American contention is not about “burden sharing” of defense. If Washington was genuinely aggrieved about supposedly defending Europe at too much of its own expense, then Trump, one would think, would be only too glad to hear that the Europeans were at last making their own military arrangements, and taking the burden off Washington.

This gets to the heart of the matter about the real purpose of NATO and presence of tens of thousands of US troops stationed in bases across Europe since 1945. American military presence in Europe is not about “protecting” its supposed allies. It is, and always has been, about projecting American power over Europe. In reality, American troops and bases in Europe are more functioning as an occupying force, keeping the Europeans in line with Washington’s strategic objectives of hegemony over the continent.

Macron and Merkel’s vision of a European army is probably fanciful anyway, without any real prospect of materializing. How such a new defense arrangement would work independently from the 29-member NATO alliance led by the US seems unwieldy and impractical.

But the latest tensions between Washington and European leaders over military organization demonstrate the real nature of America’s relationship to Europe. It is about domination by Washington over Europe and has little to do with partnership and protection.

When Trump and previous US presidents have urged greater military spending by Europe the ulterior agenda is for Europeans to pay more to underpin American military presence, not for Europeans to find their own independent defense arrangement.

Tensions in the transatlantic axis seem to be coming to a head, heightened by Trump’s nationalistic “America First” policy. Rivalries are sharpening over trade, US sanctions on Iran, Trump’s threats against European energy plans with Russia, the Paris Climate Accord, and squabbling over NATO expenditures.

There is nothing progressive about Macron or Merkel’s call for a European army. It is more to do with France and Germany wanting to assert themselves as great powers and to shake off American tutelage out of frustration with Trump’s domineering petulance.

Only last week, Macron caused controversy when he praised French military general Philippe Pétain who collaborated with Nazi Germany as leader of Vichy France (1940-44). Macron wants a European army to satisfy his own nationalistic ambitions of revamping French global power. This week, he spent the night onboard a refurbished French aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, from which he gave a media interview saying that being “an ally of America meant not being a vassal”. Touché!

A progressive challenge from Europe to American power would not involve setting up a new army. Instead it would involve Europeans pushing for the disbandment of NATO as an obsolete organization and for the withdrawal of US-led forces which are dangerously amassing on Russia’s border.

Nonetheless, the one positive thing to emerge from the transatlantic spat over military defenses is that it illustrates more than ever how European protection is not the real purpose of Washington’s relationship to the continent. The purpose is one of using Europe as a platform for projecting America’s power, in particular against Russia.

The recent announcement by the Trump administration that it is willing to rip up yet another nuclear arms control treaty – the INF following the ABM in 2002 – clearly shows that Washington, ultimately, has recklessly scant concern for Europe’s security with regard to a possible future war with Russia.

For Washington, despite all the chivalrous rhetoric, Europe is not a partner nor even an ally. It is a vassal. Admittedly, thousands of American troops died while bravely fighting wars in Europe. But they are distinct from the US ruling class. At bottom, Europe is merely a battlefield for American military power, just as it was in two previous world wars. One hundred years after the end of World War I, the same callous calculus for the imperial planners in Washington is at play.

European ideas for independent defense is why Washington has reacted so furiously. It’s not willing to give up its European front.

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Zuckerberg Clings To Power While Sandberg Claims Ignorance After Damaging NYT Report

The New York Times reported that Facebook hired GOP PR firm, Defenders, to smear liberal detractors as Soros operatives. 

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Facebook executives Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg are battling backlash over an explosive investigation by the New York Times into Facebook’s mercenary damage control tactics in the wake of several major scandals.

Despite fresh calls from investors for Zuckerberg to step down in his dual role as CEO and chairman and appoint an independent director to oversee the board, the 34-year-old tech titan brushed off the suggestion during a Thursday call with journalists.

“A company with Facebook’s massive reach and influence requires robust oversight and that can only be achieved through an independent chair who is empowered to provide critical checks on company leadership,” said New York City comptroller, Scott Stringer.

Zuckerberg disagrees. “I don’t think that that specific proposal is the right way to go,” said the Facebook CEO when asked if he would consider stepping down, adding that other initiatives had been launched to “get more independence into our systems.”

The measures include creating an independent body to advise the company on decisions over whether controversial content should remain on the site.

Ultimately, he said Facebook is never going to eradicate mistakes. “We’re never going to get to the point where there are no errors,” he told reporters. “I’m trying to set up the company so that way we have our board, and we report on our financial results and do a call every quarter, but that also we have this independent oversight that is just focused on the community.” –Business Insider

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, meanwhile, is claiming ignorance – telling CBS This Morning co-host Norah O’Donnell “we absolutely did not pay anyone to create fake news – that they have assured me was not happening.”

In their Wednesday exposé – the culmination of interviews with over 50 current and former company executives, lawmakers, government officials, lobbyists and congressional staff members,the New York Times reported that Facebook had hired GOP PR firm, Defenders, which smeared liberal detractors as Soros operatives – and worked with a sister company to create negative propaganda about competitors Google and Apple.

Mr. Kaplan prevailed on Ms. Sandberg to promote Kevin Martin, a former Federal Communications Commission chairman and fellow Bush administration veteran, to lead the company’s American lobbying efforts. Facebook also expanded its work with Definers.

On a conservative news site called the NTK Network, dozens of articles blasted Google and Apple for unsavory business practices. One story called Mr. Cook hypocritical for chiding Facebook over privacy, noting that Apple also collects reams of data from users. Another played down the impact of the Russians’ use of Facebook.

The rash of news coverage was no accident: NTK is an affiliate of Definers, sharing offices and staff with the public relations firm in Arlington, Va. Many NTK Network stories are written by staff members at Definers or America Rising, the company’s political opposition-research arm, to attack their clients’ enemies. –NYT

Meanwhile, Sandberg stressed that Facebook was undertaking new security measures, telling O’Donnell: “Our strategy was to shore up the security on Facebook and make major investments there,” and that the company had made significant investments in combatting fake news and foreign influence.

“It was not what I was doing nor was it the company’s strategy to deflect, to deny or to hire PR firms to do things. That’s not the strategy. And I was part of none of that. We’ve taken great steps, we’ve made huge investments. We’ve invested a ton in AI and technology and if you were following us before the election you saw those efforts pay off. We were able to take down lots of stuff over and over, over and over because we were now focused on this,” said Sandberg.

When asked if rank-and-file employees are confident in her, Sandberg replied: “Yes, I believe so.

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