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Kurdish militant leader claims Trump lied to Erdogan about US stopping arms deliveries

The US again risks a total alienation of Turkey if the promise Donald Trump make to Recep Tayyip Erdogan was a lie.

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Last week, Turkey confirmed that Donald Trump gave Recep Tayyip Erdogan his assurances that the delivery of US arms to Kurdish militants in Syria would cease. This had been a longstanding demand from Ankara and with Turkey-US relations plummeting to new lows, it was widely thought that the US granted Turkey this concession to avoid a possible rift within the NATO bloc. While the US government confirmed Turkey’s version of the phone call, the reports from the US were far more vague in terms of the content.

By contrast, Turkey reported that the US offered a direct commitment to ending arms going to the Kurdish militant/terrorist group YPG and their political wing PYD.

Today however, Sputnik Turkiye spoke to the so-called foreign affairs spokesman of the SDF, a YPG dominated US proxy militia operating in Syria with known links to the terrorist group PKK.

Abdulaziz Yunus has told Sputnik Turkiye,

“The US and its coalition continue providing their military aid. Any reports that the US has halted its arms’ supplies are wrong and do not reflect the situation on the ground.

At the moment, the US has not made any announcement that they intend to stop sending arms. On the contrary, they have voiced their intention to facilitate the cooperation with us and increase the volume of their aid to the SDF. This is their current strategy. We, in turn, also hope this support will continue”.

According to Yunus, not only are US supplies continuing but, just this week the US delivered, “hundreds of trucks loaded with weaponry”.

There are several logical possibilities which can be derived from this statement:

1. Yunus is lying 

Kurdish media and by extrapolation, their spokesmen are notoriously unreliable. Since the recent Erdogan-Trump phone call, Kurdish media has been rife with statements ranging from those indicating that Kurdish militants will cooperate with the Syrian Arab Army to statements denying any desire to cooperate with Syria. Furthermore, while previous Kurdish statements have alluded to the fact that the US is curtailing arms shipments, the statement from Yunus contradicts these reports.

Until independently confirmed information from the group becomes known, it will not be possible to use Yunus’s claims as an authentic source of information. Instead, one can only derive a sense of Kurdish wishful thinking that may be a reality.

2. The US is lying to Turkey 

Alternatively, the US may well have lied to Turkey. This could be because Donald Trump has less control over US policy than he would like to think or it could be due to the US drawing a false distinction between the YPG and SDF. As the YPG makes up almost all of the SDF’s manpower, ceasing arms shipments to one is, by any reasonable stretch of cognition, the same as ceasing arms shipments to the other. This is certainly how Turkey would have interpreted Trump’s remarks.

The Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who was present during the Erdogan-Trump phone call stated the following to the press shortly after the conversation between the two leaders concluded,

“According to his (Trump’s) words, it would have been better to put an end to this foolishness (arming Kurds). We welcome this decision and will monitor its implementation”.

Thus, Turkey expressed a clear sense of scepticism about Washington’s willingness to implement Donald Trump’s promise.

A final straw to break the camel’s back in Turkey-US relations 

While Trump’s promise to Erdogan has indeed stemmed the tide of anti-American and anti-NATO statements from Turkish officials, this brief post phone call honeymoon could be short lived. If the US has made a false promise and continues to arm militants that Turkey views, quite correctly, as a threat to its national security, any thaw in the frosty relations between Ankara and Washington will be over.

As a result, the rapprochement between Ankara and Damascus which Erdogan hinted at prior to the phone-call, could manifest itself sooner rather than later. If Turkey and Syria do agree (however privately) to formally renounce Kurdish terrorism jointly (at the moment Syria is renouncing both Kurdish terrorism and the presence Turkish troops in Syria), Russia will have very few strong arguments left to restrain Turkey from going after Kurdish forces in Syria, something which has already partly begun, though something that is widely under-reported.

Turkish proxies and US Kurdish proxies are engaged in heavy combat in Syria’s Aleppo Governorate

Alternatively, if the US does eventually withdraw its support for Kurds in Syria, it will mean that the US will have no fig-leaf to cover the gross illegality of its continued occupation of the Syrian Arab Republic. The Astana Group could then easily redouble calls for the US to withdraw from Syria, something that Russia has stated in fairly bold terms a great deal recently.

Russian FM Lavrov slams “most dangerous” illegal US presence in Syria – seeks US withdrawal

In either instance, Russia remains the key player in the internationally lead Syrian peace process, as I indicated shortly after the Erdogan-Trump phone call:

“If the United States means what it apparently said, this essentially means that the Astana group, of which Turkey is a member along with Russia and Iran, has essentially checkmated the US in Syria once and for all.

With ISIS defeated except for a few small rural pockets that Russian aerospace forces and the Syrian Arab Army are on the verge of fully obliterating and pockets of al-Qaeda/al-Nusra in the the Golan Heights, Hama and Idlib, the Takfiri terrorists are already all but defeated in Syria and everyone from Syria itself to Hezbollah, Russian and Iran have admitted this in public to much fanfare.

In respect of Kurdish militants/terrorists, since the United States is the only power arming and abetting them, if the US actually does withdraw arms from Kurdish groups, they will  not fare well against Turkish troops in Syria who stand ready to fight them and almost certainly beat them in short order. Put succinctly, if the US withdraws aims to the Kurds and there is no one else left to fight in Syria, the US will have no mission goal and therefore no no justification for remaining in Syria. Of course the US could always make up a new, even flimsier excuse for remaining, but with all major regional powers (except for Israel) dead-set against a long-time US occupation, such a position would be highly untenable in the medium and long term.

A recent Washington Post article, allegedly based on inside sources in the US government, stated that the US plans to remain in Syria for “years” in order to effectively help Syrian Kurds in carving out a statelet along the Turkish border.

Based on the statements following on from the phone call between Erdogan and Trump, either the Washington Post piece was inaccurate or the US has suddenly had a change of heart–perhaps as a last ditch effort to prevent Turkey from leaving NATO as Ankara threatened to do, days ago.

Earlier, Donald Trump Tweeted the following, indicating that he is not prepared for an indefinite occupation of Syria.

It may be that either be design or mistake, Donald Trump just killed off the last excuse the US could possibly have for a perpetual occupation of Syria. Because of the notorious unreliability of statements from US officials and the US media, it is anyone’s guess as to whether the Washington Post lied to the world or if Trump deceived the Turkish President.

However, the world may soon find out who is telling the truth as Kurdish militants in Syria just announced that they are ready to attack Turkish Army positions in Syria’s Aleppo Governorate.

In a straight battle between Kurdish militants and the Turkish Army, the Turkish Army will win. There is little doubt about that. The only power that might have been willing and militarily able to prevent such a move is of course, the American armed forces.

If Turkey goes on to do to Syrian Kurds, what the Iraqi armed forces did to Iraqi Kurds, the Kurdish question in Syria may be solved in short order.

After such an impasse, arguments between Russia and Turkey over whether Kurdish factions belonging to the YPG-PYD should be at the Syrian National Dialogue Congress or not, will be effectively moot. If Syrian Kurds are shown that Turkey has effectively been unleashed on them, in so far as no other power will stop Turkey from going after the Kurds, it will effectively be ‘game over’ for any longer term ethno-nationalists ambitions for the Kurds. All that will be left is to either wage the kind of long-term terrorist war against Syria that the PKK has waged against Turkey, or otherwise engage in the eventual internal political process for Syria which the Astana group organises.

Of course, if the US continues to covertly aid the Kurds, or attempt to draw an artificial distinction between the YPG and SDF, Turkey will only be further alienated by an obvious US false promise. If the US does go through with its plans, while some friction between Turkey and the US will be curtailed, Turkey’s overall economic reliance/enthusiasm on its Eurasian partners will not be dented. Only in a foolish zero-sum mentality does a minor US rapprochement with Turkey negate that progress Turkey has made and intends to further with its Eurasian partners, including Russia and Iran.

The US may not be an exponent of the “win-win” mentality which defines modern Eursasian multi-lateral relations, but if someone in the US, even perhaps a Trump who today sounded as reasonable as he did while a candidate, realises that in provoking Turkey, the US will totally lose a former ally while accomplishing little in terms of retarding Syria’s progress in the long-term, someone in Washington may have realised that by going in knee-deep for Kurdish ethno-nationalists, the US would be facing a “lose-lose” situation that a member of the Turkish Parliament Metin Kulunk said would be a “another Vietnam” for the United States.

As Donald Trump successfully ‘dodged’ time in America’s first Vietnam, perhaps he has just dodged the second. Time will shortly tell, just who is being honest and who is being duplicitous.

Either way, if Trump has told the truth in respect of US policy, the war is over as the US will have no one left to support nor to fight. If he is lying to President Erdogan, then NATO may be over”.

Did Turkey just convince the US that there’s no one left to fight in Syria?

In this sense, the Kurdish problem can either be ended through the US withdrawing its support for the YPG/SDF or alternatively, it can be solved through a combination of Turkish military strength combined with tactful Russian diplomacy which will essentially tell the Kurds to negotiate with Syria or else face the consequences that the Turkish Army will be all too happy to deliver.

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Foreign Banks Are Embracing Russia’s Alternative To SWIFT, Moscow Says

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative.

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Via Zerohedge


On Friday, one day after Russia and China pledged to reduce their reliance on the dollar by increasing the amount of bilateral trade conducted in rubles and yuan (a goal toward which much progress has already been made over the past three years), Russia’s Central Bank provided the latest update on Moscow’s alternative to US-dominated international payments network SWIFT.

Moscow started working on the project back in 2014, when international sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea inspired fears that the country’s largest banks would soon be cut off from SWIFT which, though it’s based in Belgium and claims to be politically neutral, is effectively controlled by the US Treasury.

Today, the Russian alternative, known as the System for Transfer of Financial Messages, has attracted a modest amount of support within the Russian business community, with 416 Russian companies having joined as of September, including the Russian Federal Treasury and large state corporations likeGazprom Neft and Rosneft.

And now, eight months after a senior Russian official advised that “our banks are ready to turn off SWIFT,” it appears the system has reached another milestone in its development: It’s ready to take on international partners in the quest to de-dollarize and end the US’s leverage over the international financial system. A Russian official advised that non-residents will begin joining the system “this year,” according to RT.

“Non-residents will start connecting to us this year. People are already turning to us,”said First Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Russia Olga Skorobogatova. Earlier, the official said that by using the alternative payment system foreign firms would be able to do business with sanctioned Russian companies.

Turkey, China, India and others are among the countries that might be interested in a SWIFT alternative, as Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out in a speech earlier this month, the US’s willingness to blithely sanction countries from Iran to Venezuela and beyond will eventually rebound on the US economy by undermining the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency.

To be sure, the Russians aren’t the only ones building a SWIFT alternative to help avoid US sanctions. Russia and China, along with the European Union are launching an interbank payments network known as the Special Purpose Vehicle to help companies pursue “legitimate business with Iran” in defiance of US sanctions.

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative. For one, much of Europe is dependent on Russian natural gas and oil.

And as Russian trade with other US rivals increases, Moscow’s payments network will look increasingly attractive,particularly if buyers of Russian crude have no other alternatives to pay for their goods.

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US leaving INF will put nuclear non-proliferation at risk & may lead to ‘complete chaos’

The US is pulling out of a nuclear missile pact with Russia. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty requires both countries to eliminate their short and medium-range atomic missiles.

The Duran

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Via RT


If the US ditches the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), it could collapse the entire nuclear non-proliferation system, and bring nuclear war even closer, Russian officials warn.

By ending the INF, Washington risks creating a domino effect which could endanger other landmark deals like the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and collapse the existing non-proliferation mechanism as we know it, senior lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev said on Sunday.

The current iteration of the START treaty, which limits the deployment of all types of nuclear weapons, is due to expire in 2021. Kosachev, who chairs the Parliament’s Upper House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned that such an outcome pits mankind against “complete chaos in terms of nuclear weapons.”

“Now the US Western allies face a choice: either embarking on the same path, possibly leading to new war, or siding with common sense, at least for the sake of their self-preservation instinct.”

His remarks came after US President Donald Trump announced his intentions to “terminate” the INF, citing alleged violations of the deal by Russia.

Moscow has repeatedly denied undermining the treaty, pointing out that Trump has failed to produce any evidence of violations. Moreover, Russian officials insist that the deployment of US-made Mk 41 ground-based universal launching systems in Europe actually violates the agreement since the launchers are capable of firing mid-range cruise missiles.

Leonid Slutsky, who leads the Foreign Affairs Committee in parliament’s lower chamber, argued that Trump’s words are akin to placing “a huge mine under the whole disarmament process on the planet.”

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The deal effectively bans the parties from having and developing short- and mid-range missiles of all types. According to the provisions, the US was obliged to destroy Pershing I and II launcher systems and BGM-109G Gryphon ground-launched cruise missiles. Moscow, meanwhile, pledged to remove the SS-20 and several other types of missiles from its nuclear arsenal.

Pershing missiles stationed in the US Army arsenal. © Hulton Archive / Getty Images ©

By scrapping the historic accord, Washington is trying to fulfill its “dream of a unipolar world,” a source within the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“This decision fits into the US policy of ditching the international agreements which impose equal obligations on it and its partners, and render the ‘exceptionalism’ concept vulnerable.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov denounced Trump’s threats as “blackmail” and said that Washington wants to dismantle the INF because it views the deal as a “problem” on its course for “total domination” in the military sphere.

The issue of nuclear arms treaties is too vital for national and global security to rush into hastily-made “emotional” decisions, the official explained. Russia is expecting to hear more on the US’ plans from Trump’s top security adviser, John Bolton, who is set to hold talks in Moscow tomorrow.

President Trump has been open about unilaterally pulling the US out of various international agreements if he deems them to be damaging to national interests. Earlier this year, Washington withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program. All other signatories to the landmark agreement, including Russia, China, and the EU, decided to stick to the deal, while blasting Trump for leaving.

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Converting Khashoggi into Cash

After two weeks of denying any connection to Khashoggi’s disappearance, Riyadh has admitted that he was killed by Saudi operatives but it wasn’t really on purpose.

Jim Jatras

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Authored by James George Jatras via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The hazard of writing about the Saudis’ absurd gyrations as they seek to avoid blame for the murder of the late, not notably great journalist and Muslim Brotherhood activist Jamal Khashoggi is that by the time a sentence is finished, the landscape may have changed again.

As though right on cue, the narrative has just taken another sharp turn.

After two weeks of denying any connection to Khashoggi’s disappearance, Riyadh has ‘fessed up (sorta) and admitted that he was killed by Saudi operatives but it wasn’t really on purpose:

Y’see, it was kinda’f an ‘accident.’

Oops…

Y’see the guys were arguing, and … uh … a fistfight broke out.

Yeah, that’s it … a ‘fistfight.’

And before you know it poor Jamal had gone all to pieces.

Y’see?

Must’ve been a helluva fistfight.

The figurative digital ink wasn’t even dry on that whopper before American politicos in both parties were calling it out:

  • “To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement,” tweeted Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. “First we were told Mr. Khashoggi supposedly left the consulate and there was blanket denial of any Saudi involvement. Now, a fight breaks out and he’s killed in the consulate, all without knowledge of Crown Prince. It’s hard to find this latest ‘explanation‘ as credible.”
  • California Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that the new Saudi explanation is “not credible.” “If Khashoggi was fighting inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, he was fighting for his life with people sent to capture or kill him,” Schiff said. “The kingdom and all involved in this brutal murder must be held accountable, and if the Trump administration will not take the lead, Congress must.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan must think he’s already died and gone to his eternal recreation in the amorous embraces of the dark-eyed houris. The acid test for the viability of Riyadh’s newest transparent lie is whether the Turks actually have, as they claim, live recordings of Khashoggi’s interrogation, torture, murder, and dismemberment (not necessarily in that order) – and if they do, when Erdogan decides it’s the right time to release them.

Erdogan has got the Saudis over a barrel and he’ll squeeze everything he can out of them.

From the beginning, the Khashoggi story wasn’t really about the fate of one man. The Saudis have been getting away with bloody murder, literally, for years. They’re daily slaughtering the civilian population of Yemen with American and British help, with barely a ho-hum from the sensitive consciences always ready to invoke the so-called “responsibility to protect” Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya, Syria, Xinjiang, Rakhine, and so forth.

Where’s the responsibility not to help a crazed bunch of Wahhabist head-choppers kill people?

But now, just one guy meets a grisly end and suddenly it’s the most important homicide since the Lindbergh baby.

What gives?

Is it because Khashoggi was part of the MSM aristocracy, on account of his relationship with the Washington Post?

Was it because of his other, darker, connections? As related by Moon of Alabama: “Khashoggi was a rather shady guy. A ‘journalist’ who was also an operator for Saudi and U.S. intelligence services. He was an early recruit of the Muslim Brotherhood.” This relationship, writes MoA, touches on the interests of pretty much everyone in the region:

“The Ottoman empire ruled over much of the Arab world. The neo-Ottoman wannabe-Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan would like to regain that historic position for Turkey. His main competition in this are the al-Sauds. They have much more money and are strategically aligned with Israel and the United States, while Turkey under Erdogan is more or less isolated. The religious-political element of the competition is represented on one side by the Muslim Brotherhood, ‘democratic’ Islamists to which Erdogan belongs, and the Wahhabi absolutists on the other side.”

With the noose tightening around Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS), the risible fistfight cock-and-bull story is likely to be the best they can come up with. US President Donald Trump’s having offered his “rogue killers” opening suggests he’s willing to play along. Nobody will really be fooled, but MbS will hope he can persuade important people to pretend they are fooled.

That will mean spreading around a lot of cash. The new alchemy of converting Khashoggi dead into financial gain for the living is just one part of an obvious scheme to pull off what Libya’s Muammar Kaddafi managed after the 1988 Lockerbie bombing: offer up some underlings as the fall guys and let the top man evade responsibility. (KARMA ALERT: That didn’t do Kaddafi any good in the long run.)

In the Saudi case the Lockerbie dodge will be harder, as there are already pictures of men at the Istanbul Consulate General identified as close associates of MbS. But they’ll give it the old madrasa try anyway since it’s all they’ve got.Firings and arrests have started and one suspect has already died in a suspicious automobile “accident.” Heads will roll!

Saving MbS’s skin and his succession to the throne of his doddering father may depend on how many of the usual recipients of Saudi – let’s be honest – bribery and influence peddling will find sufficient pecuniary reason to go along. Saudi Arabia’s unofficial motto with respect to the US establishment might as well be: “The green poultice heals all wounds.”

Anyway, that’s been their experience up to now, but it also in part reflects the same arrogance that made MbS think he could continue to get away with anything. (It’s not shooting someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue, but it’s close.) Whether spreading cash around will continue to have the same salubrious effect it always has had in the past remains to be seen.

To be sure, Trump may succeed in shaking the Saudi date palm for additional billions for arms sales. That won’t necessarily turn around an image problem that may not have a remedy. But still, count on more cash going to high-price lobbying and image-control shops eager to make obscene money working for their obscene client. Some big American names are dropping are dropping Riyadh in a sudden fit of fastidiousness, but you can bet others will be eager to step into their Guccis, both in the US and in the United Kingdom. (It should never be forgotten how closely linked the US and UK establishments are in the Middle East, and to the Saudis in particular.)

It still might not work though. No matter how much expensive PR lipstick the spinmeisters put on this pig, that won’t make it kissable. It’s still a pig.

Others benefitting from hanging Khashoggi’s death around MbS’s neck are:

  • Qatar (after last year’s invasion scare, there’s no doubt a bit of Schadenfreude and (figurative) champagne corks popping in Doha over MbS’s discomfiture. As one source close to the ruling al-Thani family relates, “The Qataris are stunned speechless at Saudi incompetence!” You just can’t get good help these days).

Among the losers one must count Israel and especially Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. MbS, with his contrived image as the reformer, was the Sunni “beard” he needed to get the US to assemble an “Arab NATO” (as though one NATO weren’t bad enough!) and eliminate Iran for him. It remains to be seen how far that agenda has been set back.

Whether or not MbS survives or is removed – perhaps with extreme prejudice – there’s no doubt Saudi Arabia is the big loser. Question are being asked that should have been asked years ago. As Srdja Trifkovic comments in Chronicles magazine:

“The crown prince’s recklessness in ordering the murder of Khashoggi has demonstrated that he is just a standard despot, a Mafia don with oil presiding over an extended cleptocracy of inbred parasites. The KSA will not be reformed because it is structurally not capable of reform. The regime in Riyadh which stops being a playground of great wealth, protected by a large investment in theocratic excess, would not be ‘Saudi’ any longer. Saudia delenda est.”

The first Saudi state, the Emirate of Diriyah, went belly up in 1818, with the death of head of the house of al-Saud, Abdullah bin Saud – actually, literally with his head hung on a gate in Constantinople by Erdogan’s Ottoman predecessor, Sultan Mahmud II.

The second Saudi state, Emirate of Nejd, likewise folded in 1891.

It’s long past time this third and current abomination joined its antecedents on the ash heap of history.

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