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Erdogan will be Assad’s emissary to Moscow next week

The Turkish President will try to use Russia’s “S-400 diplomacy” against it in seeking to convince Moscow to reverse its position on the Syrian Kurds, an objective which corresponds with Damascus’ as well.

Andrew Korybko

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Turkish President Erdogan will visit Moscow next week for talks with his Russian counterpart, during which time it’s very likely that the important topics of the planned S-400 missile deal and the Syrian Kurds will come up in the course of discussions with President Putin. Thus far, Russia has sought to leverage its “military diplomacy” in the Mideast by selling wayward NATO-member Turkey state-of-the-art S-400 anti-air systems in order to complement its multipolar reorientation (or some would more mildly argue, “rebalancing”), but the deal has reportedly been caught up in a snag over pricing arrangements and other issues.

One of the latter seems to be Russia’s support for Kurdish “decentralization” in Syria, as suggested in the Russian-written “draft constitution” unveiled in January, which is intended to epitomize the “balancing act” that the “progressive” faction of Moscow’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is trying to strike between all Mideast actors.  The challenge, however, is in convincing the four state-level parties, especially its two most directly affected ones in Syria and Turkey, that this is a necessary “compromise”, seeing as how Baghdad was able to successfully coordinate with its neighbors in driving the separatist Kurds out of oil-rich Kirkuk in a lightning-fast and largely bloodless operation last month.

The primary difference between the Iraqi and Syrian Kurds is that the latter count at least 10 American bases on their occupied soil, and it’s unlikely that the US would turn a blind eye to its troops being “put in harm’s way”, as the Pentagon would likely frame it in “justifying” a militant response to any forthcoming liberation operation launched in the Kurdish-occupied lands of northeastern Syria. That’s why Russia will probably try to clinch a Great Power “gentleman’s” agreement with its US rival in agreeing to de-facto freeze the Arab-Kurdish component of the War on Syria along its post-Daesh lines largely corresponding to the Euphrates River, with each country promising to “restrain” its on-the-ground allies (the Syrian Arab Army [SAA] and “Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF], respectively) from “violating” this deal.

The possible creation of a de-facto independent, albeit even if legally unrecognized, Kurdish statelet in northeastern Syria could play out to Russia’s grand strategic interests in “balancing” the Mideast by creating a low-intensity pro-American “threat” along Turkey’s southern borderlands that could be indirectly exploited for keeping Ankara “in line” with Moscow and preventing Erdogan from ever second-guessing his multipolar pivot. Russia might request that the Syrian Kurds surrender the energy fields that are under their control to Rosneft in order to comply with Damascus’ promise that Moscow would be allowed to rebuild this nationwide industry if it successfully saved the country, with Russia possibly offering to share some of the proceeds with the Kurds (and maybe even Damascus) as a quid pro quo, as well as trying to “convince” Syria to de-facto recognize their “decentralized” “autonomy”.

For as “brilliant” as this “balancing” plan might sound on paper, it’s much more difficult to execute in practice, since neither Damascus nor Ankara want to see any sort of “decentralized” Kurdish statelet along their shared borderland, no matter if it’s closer to the US or Russia. This explains why Jamal al Zuubi, a deputy of the Syrian parliament, told Sputnik less than a week ago that “Kurdish self-governance in the north of Syria is only a mere desire of some terrorist groups”, thus equating the Kurdish PYD and their larger SDF “federal” forces as terrorists and severely complicating the “progressives’” “balancing” efforts. It also allows observers to understand why Turkey objected so loudly to Russia’s invitation to the Syrian Kurds to attend the planned “Congress of the Syrian People” conference in Sochi later this month, which was reportedly postponed because of Ankara’s opposition.

By all indications, it appears as though Damascus and Ankara are coordinating their policy towards the Syrian Kurds just like Baghdad did with its neighbors prior to the liberation operation against Kirkuk, but that such speculative talks are probably taking place in secret due to the heightened sensitivity of both countries’ domestic audiences to this possibility. If this is the case, and it surely seems to be to one extent or another, then it would mean that Syria and Turkey are doing so outside the prior third-party mediation efforts of Russia, which would be a dramatic breakthrough in their bilateral relations after the two neighbors’ ties with one another soured since the War on Syria first began nearly seven years ago.

To return back to the upcoming Erdogan-Putin Summit after having explained the appropriate contextual background behind it, the Turkish President will probably try to instrumentalize his country’s planned S-400 deal with Russia in order to extract concessions from President Putin concerning Moscow’s “decentralization” policy towards the Syrian Kurds. It’s possible that Russia is already reconsidering its prior strategy after calculating that the potential risks to its hard-fought geopolitical gains of the past two years far outweigh the “balancing” gamble that betting on the Kurds amounts to, and this is evidenced by the recent statement earlier this week from Alexander Ivanov, the spokesman of Russia’s airbase in Hmeimim.

He’s on record as saying that “It is possible that the military options will be the only way facing Damascus to reach regions beyond its control in the North which are under the Kurds’ control illegally and with the US support”, which is the first time to the author’s knowledge that an official Russian figure acknowledged that the armed Kurdish “federalists’” control over northeastern Syria is illegal. This statement importantly came just a day or two after Zuubi’s declaration that the “federalist” project “is only a mere desire of some terrorist groups”, suggesting that Moscow received the signal that Damascus was sending and is responding to it in a positive way. To ensure that Russia goes through with what looks to be an impending policy reversal towards the Syrian Kurds, Erdogan will probably use the S-400 deal as a bargaining chip because he knows that it’s much more important to Russia than to his own country, which could always just solicit Chinese systems instead like it had originally sought to do a few years back.

The S-400s are the best anti-air system in the world, but Russia sees their value more in geopolitical terms than financial ones, since their purchase by Turkey powerfully undermines NATO and solidifies Ankara’s newfound multipolar pivot. From the Turkish perspective at this moment, the country could still move closer to the emerging Multipolar World Order if it sacrificed quality for a cheaper Chinese system in order to protest Russia’s support of the Syrian Kurds’ “decentralization” ambitions, though Erdogan would of course prefer to stay loyal to the deal that he already clinched with Putin and that’s why he’ll probably use the agreement as leverage in pressing Moscow to reverse its position on this issue of national security importance to his state.

Whether as a result of clandestine coordination with Damascus or not, Ankara would in essence be advancing Syria’s interests as well because of the shared concerns that the two neighboring states have over Russia’s “balancing” strategy towards the Kurds, which is why it’s provocative but nevertheless accurate to refer to Erdogan as Assad’s “emissary” to Moscow next week because both Mideast states are simultaneously working along different diplomatic tracks to convince their Eurasian partner to reconsider its envisioned “Kurdish-friendly” “political solution” to the War on Syria.

DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution. 

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Trump Orders Immediate Release Of All Text Messages, Carter Page FISA Application From Russia Investigation

Trump has ordered the DOJ to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation with no redactions.

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Via Zerohedge

President Trump has ordered the Department of Justice to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation with no redactions, of former FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, now-fired special agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page and twice-demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr.

Also released will be specific pages from the FBI’s FISA surveillance warrant application on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, as well as interviews with Ohr.

The statement reads in full:

“At the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency, the President has directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to provide for the immediate declassification of the following materials: (1) pages 10-12 and 17-34 of the June 2017 application to the FISA court in the matter of Carter W. Page; (2) all FBI reports of interviews with Bruce G. Ohr prepared in connection with the Russia investigation; and (3) all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all Carter Page FISA applications.

In addition, President Donald J. Trump has directed the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to publicly release all text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction, of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr

***

As we reported last Monday, Trump had been expected to release the documents any time – with specific attention to the Page documents and the “investigative activities of Justice Department lawyer Bruce Ohr” – who was demoted twice for lying about his extensive relationship  with Christopher Steele – the former MI6 spy who assembled the sham “Steele Dossier” used by the FBI in a FISA surveillance application to spy on Page.

Republicans on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees believe the declassification will permanently taint the Trump-Russia investigation by showing the investigation was illegitimate to begin with. Trump has been hammering the same theme for months.

  • They allege that Bruce Ohr played an improper intermediary role between the Justice Department, British spy Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS — the opposition research firm that produced the Trump-Russia dossier, funded by Democrats. (Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS on Russia-related matters during the presidential election — a fact that Ohr did not disclose on federal forms.)
  • And they further allege that the Obama administration improperly spied on Carter Page — all to take down Trump. –Axios

Ohr, meanwhile, met with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska in 2015 to discuss helping the FBI with organized crime investigations, according to The Hill‘s John Solomon. The meeting with the Putin ally was facilitated by Steele.

Last month Trump called Ohr a disgrace, while also tweeting: “Will Bruce Ohr, whose family received big money for helping to create the phony, dirty and discredited Dossier, ever be fired from the Jeff Sessions  “Justice” Department? A total joke!”

Trump’s threat came one day after two tweets about Ohr, noting a connection to former FBI agent Peter Strzok, as well as a text sent by Ohr after former FBI Director James Comey was fired in which Ohr says “afraid they will be exposed.”

According to emails turned over to Congressional investigators in August, Christopher Steele was much closer to Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie than previously disclosed.

Steele and the Ohrs would have breakfast together on July 30, 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington D.C., days after Steele turned in installments of his infamous “dossier” on July 19 and 26. The breakfast also occurred one day before the FBI formally launched operation “Crossfire Hurricane,” the agency’s counterintelligence operation into the Trump campaign.

“Great to see you and Nellie this morning Bruce,” Steele wrote shortly following their breakfast meeting. “Let’s keep in touch on the substantive issues/s (sic). Glenn is happy to speak to you on this if it would help.”

“After two years of investigations and accusations from both sides of the aisle about what documents indicate, it is past time for documents to be declassified and let the American people decide for themselves if DoJ and FBI acted properly,” Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows told Axios earlier Sunday.

In early August, journalist Paul Sperry tweeted that Trump may use his presidential authority to declassify “20 redacted pages of a June, 2017 FISA renewal, “and possibly” 63 pages of emails and notes between “Ohr & Steele,” and FD-302 summaries of 12 interviews.”

President Trump threatened to declassify documents two weeks ago – one day after the New York Times allegedly published an anonymous Op-Ed claiming to be from a White House official claiming to be part of an unelected “resistance” cabal within the Trump administration.

“The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy – & they don’t know what to do,” Trump tweeted earlier this month, adding: “The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!”

Trump’s threat comes as calls by frustrated GOP legislators to release the documents have hit a fevered pitch. Spearheading the effort are Republican Reps. Meadows, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz and Lee Zeldin – who have repeatedly asked Trump to declassify more of the heavily redacted FISA surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page in late 2016.

In June, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee asked President Trump to declassify key sections of Carter Page’s FISA warrant application, according to a letter obtained by Fox News.

Carter Page, the DOJ/FBI’s person of interest, weighed in on the matter in late August, tweeting: “The Corrupt DOJ, co-conspirators in the DNC and their high-priced consultants correctly believed they had American democracy and the FISA Court over a barrel in 2016.”

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De-Dollarization Tops Agenda at Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum

The Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) was held in Vladivostok on Sept.11-13. Founded in 2015, the event has become a platform for planning and launching projects to strengthen business ties in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Via Strategic Culture

This year, the EEF brought together delegations from over 60 countries to discuss the topic “The Far East: Expanding the Range of Possibilities”. A total of 100 business events involving over 6,000 participants were held during the three days.

1,357 media personnel worked to cover the forum. Last year, the number of participants was 5,000 with 1,000 media persons involved in reporting and broadcasting. The EEF-18 gathered 340 foreign and 383 Russian CEOs. Nearly 80 start-ups from across South-East Asia joined the meeting.

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This year, a total of 175 agreements worth of 2.9 trillion rubles (some $4.3 billion) were signed. For comparison, the sum was 2.5 trillion rubles (roughly $3.7 billion) in 2017.

They included the development of the Baimsky ore deposits in Chukotka, the construction of a terminal for Novatek LNG at Bechevinskaya Bay in Kamchatka and the investment of Asian countries in Russia’s agricultural projects in the Far East.

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Mail.Ru Group, Megafon and Chinese Alibaba inked an agreement on establishing AliExpress trade joint venture. Rosneft and Chinese CNPC signed an oil exploration agreement.

The Chinese delegation was the largest (1,096 people), followed by the Japanese (570 members). The list of guests included the president of Mongolia and prime ministers of Japan and South Korea.

It was also the first time Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the event to meet his Russian counterpart. The issue of de-dollarization topped the agenda. Russia and China reaffirmed their interest in expanding the use of national currencies in bilateral deals.

During the forum, Kirill Dmitriev, the head of RDIF, said the fund intends to use only national currencies in its transactions with China starting from 2019. It will cooperate with the China Development Bank.

This “yuanification” is making visible progress with Shanghai crude futures increasing their share of oil markets up to 14 percent or even more. China has signed agreements with Canada and Qatar on national currencies exchange.

READ MORE: Eastern Economic Forum opens new chapter in US-Russia dialogue

De-dollarization is a trend that is picking up momentum across the world. A growing number of countries are interested in replacing the dollar. Russia is leading the race to protect itself from fluctuations, storms and US-waged trade wars and sanctions.

Moscow backs non-dollar trade with Ankara amid the ongoing lira crisis. Turkey is switching from the dollar to settlements in national currencies, including its trade with China and other countries. Ditching the US dollar is the issue topping the BRICS agenda. In April, Iran transferred all international payments to the euro.

The voices calling for de-dollarization are getting louder among America’s closest European allies. In August, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for the creation of a new payments system independent of the US.

According to him, Europe should not allow the United States to act “over our heads and at our expense.” The official wants to strengthen European autonomy by establishing independent payment channels, creating a European Monetary Fund and building up an independent SWIFT system.

Presenting his annual program, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on Sept. 12 for the European Union to promote the euro as a global currency to challenge the dollar.

According to him, “We must do more to allow our single currency to play its full role on the international scene.” Mr. Juncker believes “it is absurd that Europe pays for 80 percent of its energy import bill – worth 300 billion euros a year – in US dollars when only roughly 2 percent of our energy imports come from the United States.” He wants the raft of proposals made in his state of the union address to start being implemented before the European Parliament elections in May.

70% of all world trade transactions account for the dollar, while 20% are  settled in the euro, and the rest falls on the yuan and other Asian currencies. The dollar value is high to make the prices of consumer goods in the US artificially low. The demand for dollars allows refinancing the huge debt at low interest rates. The US policy of trade wars and sanctions has triggered the global process of de-dollarization.

Using punitive measures as a foreign policy tool is like shooting oneself in the foot. It prompts a backlash to undermine the dollar’s status as the world reserve currency – the basis of the US economic might. The aggressive policy undermines the US world standing to make it weaker, not stronger.

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Democrat dirty ‘MeToo’ flavored trick could succeed

Fear of the Left’s “virtue signaling” trick is a real test for the American people, and they are likely to fail without honest critical thought.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The developments of the last-minute sexual allegation against Judge Brett Kavanaugh that was brought up, ostensibly as a last-minute tactic, a dirty trick, to delay or block his confirmation vote to the US Supreme Court.

The issue here is not at all about the doings of a young high-school age man to a girl when she was seventeen, it is a test to see how well the “sexual harassment” card actually works against one of the top players hand-picked by President Trump.

There is absolutely no call to “virtue” at all. All a critical thinker has to do is to consider these points:

  • Consider what side of the aisle this came from: The Democrats. The champions of every perverse sexual desire one can imagine, but dead-set against men being men and women being women.
  • The timing of the release of the allegation: The Democrats deliberately used this as ammo against Kavanaugh. If there was such a concern about the accuser, Christine Blasey Ford (a feminist, as most of these feminists like to go by three names) and her suffering, this would have been broached years ago – after all, she was 17 when it allegedly happened and she is now 36 years older. If #MeToo was really about finding a way to live virtuously, this would have been addressed day zero of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.
  • Consider the alignment of the people on the Democrat side AND the Republicans who are now beginning to voice the “need to wait”: Again this is not about any wrong doing being fixed. It is obvious sheer dirty trickery, and in classical liberal style, the “call to virtue” is only that which is politically expedient for the Democrats, the party of gay marriage, child pornography (check WikiLeaks email dump of Hillary Clinton’s advisor John Podesta for that one), spirit dinners (a nice name for what is ostensibly a satanic Black Mass – style ritual, also from Podesta’s group of friends)
  • Last and most important – how does this situation benefit Christine Blasey Ford? – If this is truly an issue that happened (which is apparently showing holes already), then how does taking the Judge down benefit her?
  • Further still, why has this woman allowed herself to be, frankly, used again, but this time by opportunistic politicians?

These points are just a suggested beginning. There are probably hundreds of other things to consider, such as why is this even an issue. A lot of boys made advances on girls in their teenage years, and a lot girls summarily fight them off and win. The snowflakes of the world are loath to admit this, but this is quite frankly a large part of growing up. Granted sometimes it goes too far and someone rapes someone else. That is a terrible thing. But it is also statistically extremely rare, and a randy teenager is hardly a rapist.

This type of “virtue signaling” as it has come to be known is the ultimate in hypocrisy, and it is completely devoid of contact with reality, yet the Congress is wavering on what to do. And why? Because the American male has been successfully cowed by feminist women. He has allowed this from trying to appease and honor such women, but for these women, who consider pregnancy a disease for which abortion is the cure, and who have been brainwashed to consider men the enemy, they greedily took all the power they could.

There is a lot to be said about this on many levels, but the point here is that this sort of manipulation is presently deployed for political reasons and no more. We saw this happen with Judge Roy Moore in January and it worked. And as soon as the Judge was out of the running, the charges magically vanished into the mist. It is being tried again now, and it may work.

This is beyond disgusting – it is actually frightening to consider that such a transparently political allegation may actually defeat a terrific candidate who has categorically and fully denied the allegation.

One one hand, if the nomination falls through, it’s no big deal. President Trump will likely pick Amy Barrett and that will shut down the feminists for a while and probably the whole #MeToo machine.

Unless they determine magically that Mrs. Barrett is a sexual predator. However her seven children are unlikely to support such a crazy idea.

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