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Has Erdogan gone fully rogue?

Remarks on Crimea by the Turkish Foreign Ministry are a slap in the face to the only major power who still takes Erdogan somewhat seriously

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Over the last 20+ years, America hsa applied the nebulous term ‘rogue state’ with a bit of impunity.

Syria was called a rogue state for having the audacity to pursue an independent foreign and economic policy in the Arab world.

Yugoslavia was called a rogue state by the US for trying to defend the borders of what until the foreign meddling of the 1990s, was the most successful multi-cultural state in late modern Europe and possibly the world.

So when discussing what makes a rogue state, it is better to construct a new, more neutral definition than rely on the American application of the word to any state which doesn’t dance to the NATO/US tune.

Let us define a rogue sate as: a state whose government pursues unilateral aggressive policies which result in the country’s sudden or gradual isolation from regional neighbours, former allies and those beyond.

This is distinct from a failed state which is a state whose semblance of a government is at best incompetent and totally ineffective, or at its most failed, a government that for all intents and purposes is both fully incapable, corrupt, dis unified and scandalous.

Somalia is often categorised as a failed state in spite of efforts to fix persisting problems. Post-Gaddafi Libya can also be described as a failed state because it lacks a single, mutually agreed upon central government, and in any case both the Tripoli and Benghazi governments are up against tribal groups who answer only too themselves, other piratical elements and violent terrorist organisations, including branches of ISIS and al-Qaeda.

Finally, one comes to Ukraine under the fascist junta regime. This state is by all means a failed state, no matter how hard its supporters try to convince the world otherwise.

It cannot pay its bills, police its streets against competing neo-Nazi elements,  it resorts to the use of terrorists to fight its wars of aggression against the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics (see Azov Battalion), the state’s borders are highly disputed and political corruption and instability is rampant. If America and various EU states give up on Kiev, Ukraine will be both a failed state and a rogue state.

But what about Turkey? Turkey is a great state, a powerful state, and a regionally important state with an economy to be reckoned with, in spite of recent downturns.

But Turkey’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is increasingly going rogue.

He has alienated much of the secular Arab world though his illegal invasions and occupations of Iraq and Syria. His bellicose rhetoric against Greece and personal intransigence over the peace process to end decades of illegal Turkish occupation of Cyrus, have opened up both old and fresh wounds with the Hellenic world.

His back and forth relationships with Israel and Palestine has made both sides suspicious of Turkish designs on the area. He is persona-non-grata in much of the EU and the EU leaders seem to be content about that.

Iran is deeply unhappy with Turkey’s moves in the Middle East. And the only thing Barack Obama and Donald Trump seem to have in common is an unwillingness to work directly with Turkey on any meaningful regional issues, in spite of its NATO membership.

Of course this leaves out Russia, who after 2015 virtually broke off all public relations with Turkey over the shooting down of a Russian fighter jet. Turkey claimed that the jet had breached Turkish airspace, others maintain it was in Syrian airspace at the behest of the Syrian government. The logistical likelihood is that the jet never breached Turkish air space and that the shooting down of the jet was either a blunder which masked a crime or a crime which masked a blunder.

While this would have led some countries to war, Russia and Turkey engaged in rapprochement in 2016 and just last week, Erdogan was in Moscow affirming his willingness to expand trade relations and technology exchange with Russia.

Turkey and Russia were enemies throughout the Tsarist period of Russian history. After the deaths of Lenin and Ataturk who had a good relationship with one another, the two countries once again became distant to the point of being quietly hostile, to put it mildly.

Under President Putin, relations have undoubtedly improved, but not because of any humility shown by Erdogan. President Putin has shown a kind of patience with Erdogan’s perpetual hysterics, that almost no other world leader has been able to achieve.

Putin understands that a post-Erdogan Turkey (whenever that happens) will be an important regional player and therefore an important potential partner to a Russian Federation that is no longer content to allow the Middle East, or Eurasia more widely, to be a playground for western liberal imperialists, Salifist regimes and terrorist proxies, nor unbridled Israeli ambitions and bellicosity.

But under Erdogan, Turkey is doing all it can to not return the favour of Putin’s patience. In spite of Putin being the only major world leader to still have any patience at all for Erdogan, Turkey continues to back the blood soaked jihadist group Free Syrian Army and continues to illegally occupy Syrian territory. In doing so, Turkey has become a stumbling block to the very peace process that it signed up to along with Iran and Russia; the Astana talks.

But now, adding insult to injury, the Turkish Foreign Ministry have said that they do not recognise Crimea as part of Russia. So much for partnership…

Nothing Turkey nor anyone else says will change Russia’s borders. Crimea is now, as it has been through most of modern history, Russian. The 2014 re-unification was democratic and peaceful which is more than can be said of how the fascist regime in Kiev governs territories under its control.

What’s more is that Turkey knows full well that Russia presents Ankara with fantastic economic opportunities and Ukraine presents the world, including Turkey, nothing but a headache.

Therefore, Turkeys’ inflammatory statement on Crimea should be seen not in the context of Turkey’s fondness for  the fascists in Kiev, but as part of Erdogan’s quest for neo-Ottoman glory.

Prior to becoming part of the Russian Empire, there was an Ottoman vassal state called the Crimean Khanate and even today some Crimean Tatars, a Turkic people, constitute a minority of Crimean residents. Although they have the full rights of any other Russian citizen and indeed live peacefully in Russia, a far more democratic and free country than Erdogan’s Turkey, Erdogan still would prefer to view himself as the ‘liberator’ of a Turkic/post-Ottoman people.

The only irony here is that even though no one has a legitimate claim to modern Crimea other than Russia, Turkey would actually have a stronger claim than Ukraine, as at least the Turkish state has both a historical basis for existence as well as history in Crimea.

But all history aside, the practical reality is that Turkey has slapped Russia in the face. Russia is too mature a power to feel the sting, but it goes to show that Turkey is ultimately an unreliable partner to everyone, including its own short and medium term interests.

That being said, I do believe that whenever a post-Erdogan era arrives, Russia’s respect for the Turkish state and its patience with a leader that many Turks find as exasperating as foreigners do, will pay off. Turkey will see that Russia remained calm and respectful against all odds, when others lambasted Turkey from a position of hypocrisy and blind ideological dogma.

In spite of Turkey’s importance as a nation and its military might, Erdogan has allowed his country to go rogue. The only hope is that the words of Ataturk remain true, “They go as they come”.

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Russian Il-20 downed by Syrian missile. Russia blames Israel. Israel blames Syria (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 110.

Alex Christoforou

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The unthinkable has happened in Syria.

The world now teeters on the brink of all out war in Syria as a Russian Il-20 was downed by Syrian missile after Israeli F-16s used it as cover during attack, according to statements made by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

President Vladimir Putin, answering a reporter’s question during a press conference with Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, said the downing of the Russian Il-20 plane looks like “a chain of tragic circumstances.” 

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the tripwire triggered that has the potential to tip the fragile balance in Syria towards conflict between Russia, Iran and Israel.

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The Russian military says an Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events that led to its Il-20 plane being shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile. Moscow reserves the right to respond accordingly.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said…

“Israel did not warn the command of the Russian troops in Syria about the planned operation. We received a notification via a hotline less than a minute before the strike, which did not allow the Russian aircraft to be directed to a safe zone.”

The statement by the Russian Defense Ministry said that four Israeli F-16 fighter jets attacked targets in Syria’s Latakia after approaching from the Mediterranean.

The Israeli warplanes approached at a low altitude and “created a dangerous situation for other aircraft and vessels in the region.”

The statement further said that 15 Russian military service members have died as a result…

“The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces. As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile.”

According to reports from RT, the Russian military said that the French Navy’s frigate ‘Auvergne,’ as well as a Russian Il-20 plane were in the area during the Israeli operation.

Map of the incident on September 17 in Syria provided by the Russian defense ministry.

The Russian ministry said the Israelis must have known that the Russian plane was present in the area, but this did not stop them from executing “the provocation.” Israel also failed to warn Russia about the planned operation in advance. The warning came just a minute before the attack started, which “did not leave time to move the Russian plane to a safe area,”the statement said.

The statement gives a larger death toll than earlier reports by the Russian military, which said there were 14 crew members on board the missing Il-20. It said a search and rescue operation for the shot-down plane is underway.

A later update said debris from the downed plane was found some 27km off the Latakia coast. The search party collected some body parts, personal possessions of the crew, and fragments of the plane.

Meanwhile Israel has come out to blame the Syrian government for the downing of the military plane, according to an IDF statement.

Israel said that it “expresses sorrow for the death of the aircrew members” of the Russian plane. However, it stated that the government of Bashar Assad “whose military shot down the Russian plane,” is “fully responsible” for the incident.

Israel further blamed Iran and Hezbollah for the incident.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) explained that its jets were targeting a Syrian facility “from which systems to manufacture accurate and lethal weapons were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Israel claimed that the weapons were “meant to attack Israel.”

Via RT

The IDF assumed that the Syrian anti-air batteries “fired indiscriminately” and didn’t “bother to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air.” The Israelis said that when the Syrian military launched the missiles which hit the Russian plane, its own jets were already within Israeli airspace. “During the strike against the target in Latakia, the Russian plane that was then hit was not within the area of the operation.”

According to the Israeli military, both IDF and Russia have “a deconfliction system,” which was agreed upon by the leadership of both states, and “has proven itself many times over recent years.” The system was in use when the incident happened, the IDF stated. The IDF promised to share “all the relevant information” with Russia “to review the incident and to confirm the facts in this inquiry.”

The military presented a four-point initial inquiry into events in Latakia. It insisted that “extensive and inaccurate” Syrian anti-aircraft fire caused the Russian jet “to be hit and downed.”

The Russian Il-20 aircraft, with 15 crew on board, went off radar during an attack by four Israeli jets on Syria’s Latakia province late Monday. Later on Tuesday the Russian Defense Ministry said that an Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events that led to its plane being shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile.

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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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