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Syrian-Kurdish clashes: new conflict or “new Détente”?

Far from being the “democratic-leftist freedom fighters” that most Western audiences have been misled into believing that they are, the Syrian Kurds are a unipolar geopolitical proxy designed to carry out the post-war partition of the Arab Republic.

Andrew Korybko

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He Says, She Says

The US shot down a Syrian anti-terrorist jet near Raqqa yesterday, which prompted the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) to send in a rescue mission to retrieve the downed pilot. Unfortunately, Al Masdar News (AMN) reported that they encountered intense resistance from the majority-Kurdish “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF), which if true, would mark the most serious escalation between these two sides. There’s no reason to doubt AMN’s coverage of this event because they’ve proven time and again to have reliable information acquired from on-the-ground and government sources, so it should be taken as a fact that the SAA and SDF did indeed clash last night.

The events leading up to that battle are unclear, however.

The SAA claims that they were on an anti-terrorist bombing mission near Daesh’s “capital”, while the US says that Damascus was in fact attacking its SDF proxies near Tabqa. These narratives aren’t mutually exclusive, and it’s very possible that the SAA rightly conflates the SDF with Daesh due to the Kurds’ documented connection with this terrorist organization. Moreover, the Kurds are ethnically cleansing Arabs from Raqqa en mass in order to pave the way for the city’s annexation to their unilaterally declared “federation” after its forthcoming capture, so it makes sense why Damascus could implicitly recognize them as terrorists without publicly declaring them as such for reasons of sensitive political optics.

Before going any further, I want to reaffirm what I wrote last week and remind the reader that I am solely referring to Kurdish militant groups when I use the word “Kurds”, NOT the law-abiding and peaceful majority of this demographic. This is important to always bear in mind because there’s a major difference between a regular Kurdish civilian and a militant conspirator treacherously trying to carve out a separatist “Kurdistan” from the Syrian Arab Republic; the first poses no threat whatsoever to the state, while the latter is an imminent existential threat to the country and could be targeted for elimination by the armed forces.

Considering what just unfolded last night, it’s beginning to look like Syria has finally begun to act against the Kurds, having largely refrained from doing so over the past 6 years of the war both because of more urgent priorities and due to being geographically cut off from the separatists by Daesh. It can’t be known for certain what changed Damascus’ calculations and – if the US report is to be believed – prompted them to bomb the SDF-YPG Kurds, but it wouldn’t be surprising if there were some behind-the-scenes ultimatums being passed along to the group to withdraw from its trans-Euphrates beachhead in Tabqa and return to the other side of the river.

Moscow’s Motives

There’s a very high chance that Syria will be internally partitioned after the defeat of Daesh via the “internationally acceptable” mechanism of “federalization”, and there isn’t much that the SAA can do to stop it at this point because Russia has no political will to fight the Kurds. The opposite is true, in fact; Russia stands to reap what its leaders expect will be certain strategic benefits through the sub-state transnational formation of “Kurdistan”, first and foremost the pressure that this will indirectly put on Turkey to remain within the Great Power Tripartite between itself, Russia, and Iran, stymying any chance that Ankara will ever enter into any meaningfully significant rapprochement with Washington.

There are also energy considerations as well. Like I explained in my article about “Russia’s Mideast Energy Diplomacy: Boom Or Bust?”, Russia has been making several silent moves over the past year to position itself as an indispensable power in the Mideast energy market, and two of the most relevant pertain to Iraqi Kurdistan and Syria. Moscow just signed an enormous deal with Erbil to develop and export their oil, whereas it has an agreement in place with Damascus to rebuild its entire energy infrastructure after the war. Seeing as how a large portion of this lies in the YPG-occupied areas of northeastern Syria, it can’t be ruled out that Russia has some sort of unstated understanding in place with the Kurds to have them respect this arrangement.

Continuing with this track of thought, Russia has already shown deference to this demographic by making the volte face of formally supporting “decentralization” in Syria as evidenced by the terms contained in the Russian-written “draft constitution” for Syria. Moscow, unlike Washington, isn’t actively seeking the de-facto internal partitioning of the country, but has probably resigned itself to accepting that it’s all but inevitable so long as Russia doesn’t expand its anti-terrorist military mandate in Syria to include the Kurds, which it won’t ever do. Therefore, it proposed the “compromise” of “decentralization” in an attempt to peacefully bridge Damascus’ unitary position with the Kurds’ “federal” one.

The “draft constitution” has yet to be accepted and has been put on the backburner over the past half a year since its proposal, but it will probably receive a second wind of life at the upcoming Astana and Geneva talks given what’s transpired over the past day. Without Russian military backing, there is no way that the SAA will defeat the American-armed and –supported YPG Kurds, let alone forcibly remove the couple of US bases which have purportedly popped up in Kurdish-occupied territory. Therefore, what will probably happen is that the SAA and SDF-YPG will accept the ‘frontline’ between them as the de-facto internally partitioned border following the defeat of Daesh, with this tense state of affairs being nominally formalized through the transformation of a future Kurdish “de-escalation zone” into a “decentralization unit”.

The Birth Pangs Of A “New Détente’”?

A “gentleman’s agreement” between Russia and the US would freeze this state of affairs, and given how Moscow’s actions (or lack thereof) arguably indicate that it’s already acceded to this, it’s plausible that the formation of a sub-state transnational “Kurdistan” might be the first outcome of a “New Détente” between the two Great Powers, each going along with it for different reasons. As was explained, Russia believes that this would provide the necessary leverage for indirectly pressuring unreliable and wily Turkey to remain in the Great Power Tripartite with itself and Iran, as well as protect the energy investments in northern Syria that Damascus promised it last year. The US, however, has vastly different intentions because it wants to create a “second geopolitical ‘Israel’” in the heart of the Mideast which it can then use as a springboard for exerting divide-and-rule unipolar influence in this tri-continental geostrategic pivot space.

Paradoxically, Russia and the US’ long-term interests converge – for polar opposite reasons – in the sub-state creation of “Kurdistan”. Moscow wagers that “Kurdistan” is an irreversible eventuality which isn’t worth sacrificing Russian lives to postpone, hence why it proposed Kurdish “decentralization” in the Russian-written “draft constitution”. Washington, while not stating it publicly, is probably elated by Moscow’s suggestion because it would peacefully formalize its proxy’s geopolitical claims in the region. For this reason, Russia and the US will probably use their influence on the SAA and SDF-YPG, respectively, to get both of them to recognize the ‘frontlines’ between them as the post-Daesh starting point for a “political (‘decentralized’) solution” to the overall war.

I actually forecast this in June 2016 in my article about “The ‘Democratic’ Partitioning Of Syria”, where I analyzed the following:

“Of course, the Kurds will fight to prevent the SAA from liberating any of their occupied territory in the run-up to the new constitution and related elections, but they wouldn’t have any ‘plausible’ reason for further expanding their conquests after Daesh’s defeat and will predictably sit still and try to formalize their gains instead.

The reason that the SAA wouldn’t move forward with liberating the rest of the country during this time is because the US and Russia might enter into an agreement to strictly enforce the SAA-YPG “line of control” immediately after the Race for Raqqa is finished.

Chances are that Washington would move first by declaring that it would unilaterally strike the SAA if it encroaches on the Kurds’ conquered territories, with Moscow replying that it would do the same against the YPG if they attack the SAA.

Through this manner, a very cold and fragile ‘peace’ will settle over Syria, with the threat of decisive military intervention by each of the two most important Great Powers being the only thing that keeps the SAA and YPG from attacking one another and transforming the War on Syria into an actual civil war for the first time since it started.”

Nevertheless, the “gentleman’s agreement” only works so long as both Great Powers’ on-the-ground partners agree to respect it, and thus far, that doesn’t seem to be the case, at least not when it comes to the SAA. To be clear, the Syrian Arab Republic is a sovereign and independent state, and it isn’t Russia’s place to possibly strike agreements with the US on Damascus’ behalf, let alone about its internal political-administrative post-war composition regardless of Moscow’s “good intentions” in terms of the “bigger picture”. If Syria agreed with what Russia was doing, then it clearly wouldn’t have ordered the SAA to attack the SDF-YPG.

Last night’s strike indicates that Syria and Russia aren’t coordinating with one another on the level that observers might have initially thought, no matter how much either side publicly denies this. There is no way that Russia would have advised Syria to bomb the SDF-YPG; similarly, there apparently wasn’t anything that Russia could do in convincing the SAA to stand down after the order from Damascus was given. The SDF-YPG Kurds issued a statement shortly thereafter vowing to “retaliate” against the SAA if such an occurrence ever happens again, thereby strongly signaling that an Arab-Kurdish War might soon be on the horizon, provided of course that Damascus doesn’t back down first.

Turkish-Iranian Backup

And that’s the determining factor, whether or not President Assad will recognize that the internal partition of his country might already be a fait accompli, with Syria’s fate possibly sealed at the highest levels due to an implied “gentleman’s agreement” between Russia and the US. If the combined (but not necessarily coordinated) pressure of Moscow and Washington succeeds in getting Damascus to acquiesce to this unfortunate reality, no matter how contradictory it is to the right of the Syrian people to democratically decide their country’s destiny themselves, then a cold peace will eventually prevail, at least for the short term. However, if Syria doesn’t give up and continues fighting to liberate its occupied northeastern territories from the Kurdish separatists, then it’s foreseeable that Turkey and Iran could provide crucial support in this campaign, each in their own way.

Turkey is existentially threatened by the emergence of a de-facto Kurdish statelet abutting its southern borderlands, especially one that isn’t under the proxy control of the pro-Ankara “Kurdish Democratic Party” (KDP) like Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government, which is why it might launch a second iteration of “Operation Euphrates Shield” alongside a possible SAA liberation offensive in order to counter this threat. I forecast in my March 2017 analysis about “Palmyra’s Reliberation And The ‘Rojava Civil War’” that Turkey would naturally plan to unseat the YPG separatists by using pro-Ankara KDP-linked Kurds possibly supported through a conventional intervention. A report just a couple days ago from “Voice Of America” confirms that Turkey’s patronage of the recently formed “Syrian National Army” (SNA) is designed to achieve the proxy war component of this scenario. If Turkey directly involves itself in fighting against the SDF-YPG Kurds, then it can safely be assumed that this would have Damascus’ secret blessing, no matter how vehemently it may deny it in public, and that a fast-moving rapprochement between the two rivals might be in the cards as well.

As for Iran, I already documented in an article last week how Kurdish militant groups in Syria and Iran are linked to Daesh, and it’s for this reason why Tehran will likely provide sustained support to any operation that the SAA undertakes in countering this menace. Iran, just like Syria, Turkey, and Iraq, stands to lose part of its territory if the US-“Israeli”-Saudi (“Cerberus”) plan of carving out a “Kurdistan” succeeds, but given that it already has an undetermined number of soldiers and allied militiamen on the ground in Syria per Damascus’ request, it’s in a prime position to assist the SAA if need be. However, this is a lot easier said than done, because the US will almost certainly use its recently deployed HIMARS missiles near al-Tanf to stop any joint Syrian-Iranian liberation offensive against the Pentagon-backed SDF-YPG Kurdish occupiers. For both political and military reasons, it’s in no such position to do the same against its nominal Turkish ally if Ankara intervenes from the north, but there’s only so much that Turkey can do to help from that direction without a coordinated Syrian-Iranian thrust from the south.

Taken together, while the prospects of a grand Syrian-Iranian-Turkish liberation campaign against the SDF-YPG Kurdish occupied areas of northern Syria is theoretically possible, for all intents and purposes, it’s unlikely to actually happen. The US has already proven its military resolve in deterring any SAA attacks against the Kurds, and the same can safely be assumed if Iran gets involved as well. As for Turkey, there are other instruments of pressure that the US can leverage against it to keep Ankara out of the fray, though if Erdogan does decide to jump in head-first, then he will have to prepare for dealing with a prolonged guerrilla campaign in which the US-armed Kurds will use state-of-the-art weaponry against the Turkish military. This is why Ankara prefers to handle this scenario through its SNA proxy for as long as feasibly possible, though without a risky conventional intervention which could very well turn into a quagmire, Turkey will probably have to stand by and reluctantly watch what its leadership considers to be a terrorist state take shape along its southern frontier.

Shifting Lines In The Sand

There is a major “unforeseen” variable which has only just now come to the surface but threatens to offset the entire state of affairs which was just discussed, and it’s that Russia and the US have evidently disagreed on precisely where in the sand the post-conflict administrative-political lines should be drawn in Syria. This explains why the Russian Ministry of Defense declared the day after the Syrian jet was shot down that:

“In areas where Russian aviation is conducting combat missions in the Syrian skies, any flying objects, including jets and unmanned aerial vehicles of the international coalition discovered west of the Euphrates River will be followed by Russian air and ground defenses as air targets.”

Russia all but admitted that Syria is already divided into two unofficial “spheres of influence” with the US, with Moscow – and by implicit understanding, Damascus as well – having been “promised” control over everything west of the Euphrates, while Washington and its Kurdish proxies are “given” everything to the east of it. The US and its SDF-YPG Kurdish underlings apparently went back on their word, however, seeing as how they already stormed across the river in capturing Manbij last summer (which prompted Turkey’s conventional military involvement) and received American backing in conquering Tabqa earlier this year. The “Dash For Deir ez-Zor” will determine whether or not the Euphrates does in fact become the dividing line for the rest of eastern Syria, though it remains to be seen exactly how Russia and the SAA could conceivably dislodge US and Kurdish forces from Manbij and Tabqa given the obvious limitations derived from Moscow’s lack of political will in doing so. These two territories might become “exceptions”, or they could be “traded off” by the US and Kurds in exchange for Damascus agreeing to “federalize” the country.

Nevertheless, the Russian Defense Ministry’s dramatic pronouncement points to the fact that Moscow is willing to take actionable measures to ‘stabilize’ the ‘frontlines’ between the SAA and SDF-YPG Kurds, and that it likely feels betrayed by Washington for operating beyond its previously agreed-upon region of Syria. Russia has visibly upped the ante by strongly implying that it will shoot down American jets west of the Euphrates, and while this might just be another bluff, it’s still significant because it suggests that Moscow does in fact feel deceived (a feeling which President Putin recently told Oliver Stone that he never forgets), and it’s making a lot of noise to signal to Washington that it had better abide by its prior secret agreements. Having said that, the US could still exploit certain ‘loopholes’ such as launching long-range aerial missiles against the SAA from safely behind the eastern bank of the Euphrates or above Jordanian airspace, to say nothing of ordering yet another cruise missile assault which First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council’s Committee on International Affairs Vladimir Jabarov said in April wouldn’t be intercepted because “it could lead to a large-scale war”.

Concluding Thoughts

At this point, the crisis will probably escalate as both Great Powers puff out their chests and issue heated polemics against the other, but it’s unlikely that any serious provocation will take place such as Russia and the US downing each other’s jets over Syria and risking World War III. The shifting lines in the sand will soon stabilize, though questions will remain about the future status of the Kurds’ conquests in Manbij and Tabqa, as well as the territory that the US’ Arab allies are occupying around al-Tanf, Idlib, and the Golan Heights. Moreover, the Dash for Deir ez Zor is ongoing, and its outcome will determine whether or not the “Euphrates Federalization Line” holds in eastern Syria or is breached by the SDF-YPG Kurds. If the latter happens, then the US might outfit its proxies with modern anti-air weaponry so that they could take out any SAA jets themselves without triggering Russia’s threatened apocalyptical response of shooting down American aircraft. Given the on-the-ground dynamics and Moscow’s prevailing strategic calculations surrounding the Syrian Kurds, there’s no foreseeable scenario where Russia will move beyond its military mandate and bomb these US proxies so long as they don’t target its Aerospace Forces first.

A Turkish and/or Iranian supportive intervention in backing up the SAA’s campaign against the SDF-YPG Kurdish separatists would potentially be a game-changing variable, but the odds of it playing out on a grandiose scale are dim, though they shouldn’t be outright dismissed. There’s little that Russia or the US can do to deter either of these two actors from getting more directly involved in the Syrian-Kurdish clashes, but they can instead concentrate on reinforcing the implied “gentleman’s agreement” between them in order to send an undeniable signal to their partners. Even so, however, there’s no guarantee that the Kurds will listen to the US, or that Syria, Turkey, and Iran will abide by whatever Russia advises. What may have at one point seemed like the birth pangs of a “New Détente” through a speculative secret Russian-American agreement over “Rojava” is dangerously on the brink of ushering in a new conflict after the defeat of Daesh, though there’s still plenty of hope that peace will prevail so long as both Great Powers can exert “moderating” influence on their relevant allies, though this can’t by any means be taken for granted.

The SAA seems determined to carry through with President Assad’s promise to liberate “every inch of Syria”, which is why they allegedly attacked the SDF-YPG Kurds near Tabqa in spite of this clearly contradicting Russia’s grand strategic interests, so with such a “wildcard” in play, it’s anyone’s guess whether the coming months will see a “New Détente” or a new Arab-Kurdish conflict.

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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New Zealand weapons ban dream move of leftist activists

The American left is sure to pick this up and start screaming for an “assault weapons ban” because this supports their agenda so well.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Reuters reported on Thursday, March 21 that the Prime Minister of New Zealand enacted a sweeping change, banning weapons of the type that were used in the massacre of at least fifty Muslims, who were gunned down on livestream while in Friday prayer services in Christchurch last week. We quote from the Reuters piece below, with added emphasis:

New Zealand will ban military-style semi-automatic and assault rifles under tough new gun laws following the killing of 50 people in its worst mass shooting, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday.

In the immediate aftermath of last Friday’s shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, Ardern labeled the attack as terrorism and said New Zealand’s gun laws would change.

“On 15 March our history changed forever. Now, our laws will too. We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place,” Ardern told a news conference.

“All semi-automatic weapons used during the terrorist attack on Friday 15 March will be banned.”

Ardern said she expected the new laws to be in place by April 11 and a buy-back scheme costing up to NZ$200 million ($138 million) would be established for banned weapons.

All military style semi-automatics (MSSA) and assault rifles would be banned, along with parts used to convert weapons into MSSAs and all high-capacity magazines.

Australia banned semi-automatic weapons and launched a gun buy-back after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 in which 35 people were killed.

Ardern said that similar to Australia, the law would allow for strictly enforced exemptions for farmers for pest control and animal welfare.

“I strongly believe that the vast majority of legitimate gun owners in New Zealand will understand that these moves are in the national interest, and will take these changes in their stride.”

This is undoubtedly going to be real red meat (or perhaps real vegetables) for the anti-gun lobby in the United States. This is because New Zealand strongly resembled the US in terms of firearm rights and the penetration of numbers of guns in the populace of this remote island nation. Reuters continues, with statements that would probably surprise, even horrify some gun owners in the States, but which are doubtlessly useful for the application of pressure on such individuals:

New Zealand, a country of fewer than 5 million people, has an estimated 1.2-1.5 million firearms, about 13,500 of them MSSA-type weapons.

Most farmers own guns while hunting of deer, pigs and goats is popular. Gun clubs and shooting ranges dot the country.

That has created a powerful lobby that has thwarted previous attempts to tighten gun laws.

Federated Farmers, which represent thousands of farmers, said it supported the new laws.

“This will not be popular among some of our members but … we believe this is the only practicable solution,” a group spokesman, Miles Anderson, said in a statement.

The main opposition National Party, which draws strong support in rural areas, said it also supported the ban.

The changes exclude two general classes of firearms commonly used for hunting, pest control and stock management on farms.

“I have a military style weapon. But to be fair, I don’t really use it, I don’t really need it,” said Noel Womersley, who slaughters cpoliticalattle for small farmers around Christchurch.

“So I’m quite happy to hand mine over.”

To be absolutely fair, the attack on the mosques was an awful event, made the worse by the shooter’s deliberate attempts to politicize various aspects of what he was doing and what he “stood for” as an attack ostensibly against US President Donald Trump, some seven thousand miles away in the United States.

The immediate reaction of the people interviewed, some among them related or friends with the victims of the massacre, was to embrace the weapons reform laws:

Nada Tawfeek, who buried her father-in-law killed in the attacks, Hussein Moustafa, on Thursday, welcomed the ban.

“It’s a great reaction. I think other countries need to learn from her [Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern],” Tawfeek said.

Mohammed Faqih, a member of the Islamic clergy who flew in from California and attended the funerals for some victims on Thursday, said he was “extremely grateful” for the gun ban.

“I wish our leaders in the States would follow on her footsteps and do the same thing,” he said.

One can expect there to be quite the outcry among American liberals about gun control, especially if anything remotely resembling this event takes place or is thwarted in coming days in the US.

It may seem very cold and cruel to focus on the political angle of this story rather than the human tragedy that it is. However, in this situation we have seen signs that the most vile form of human tragedy has actually taken place – the murder of dozens of innocent people for a mere political point. Indeed this thought has been noted and vilified already, as Mr. R.X. Dentith, writing for the New Zealand website Spinoff here quoted:

American paleo-conservative Rush Limbaugh was one of the first to note: “There’s an ongoing theory that the shooter himself may, in fact, be a leftist who writes the manifesto and then goes out and performs the deed purposely to smear his political enemies, knowing he’s going to get shot in the process. You know you just can’t – you can’t immediately discount this. The left is this insane, they are this crazy. And then if that’s exactly what the guy is trying to do then he’s hit a home run, because right there on Fox News: ‘Shooter is an admitted white nationalist who hates immigrants.’”

…[P]eople like Limbaugh… can’t stomach the idea the terrorist action in Otautahi might be motivated by the kind of rhetoric Limbaugh helps disseminate – tend to think there is a culture war going on, and they are on the losing side.

This war has many names, and the enemy is easily identified: it is the battle against Cultural Marxism; the fight against Toxic Feminism; the resistance to Identity Politics; and the fear of the Great Replacement, the thesis at the heart of the terrorist’s own manifesto.

The Great Replacement thesis posits that the majority white European countries are being “invaded” by non-white, non-European peoples. Not just that, but due to declining birth rates in the West, this “invasion” constitutes a wholesale replacement of the white population over time.

Mr. Dentith tries further to knock down this notion of the Great Replacement. However, he misses a much more basic point.

Someone who goes and takes human lives and broadcasts them for any reason is not a mere political operative. The person who does this is a very sick, deranged human being indeed. Evil is certainly appropriately used here.

However, evil is often quite cunning, and despite the intellectual arguments about the reality or non-reality of any particular manifesto statement, in this case, the killer played the media with infernal intelligence, and they took the bait. It is possible that Prime Minister Ardern also took the bait, in this most awful of bad situations, and to give her credit, she took swift actions to try to “correct” what was wrong.

But the problem here was not the type of weapons used. The problem is the fact that they were used by a person who thought these fifty people’s lives were worth nothing more than a bit of policy change. One of the worst examples of human evil in recent times, this incident shouts to the world that there is a problem, but the problem remains unsolved, even though many people will hand over their firearms out of a genuine wish for compassion to those lost and the hope that somehow this action will prevent a future incident.

But the logic of this emotional reaction is nil. And what is worse is that the American Left knows this, but does not care. The movers and shakers of liberalism will likely milk the actions of sincerely horrified New Zealanders for all they are worth to try at affecting change in American constitutional rights.

And the innocent dead will not rest in peace, because the real problem has not even been examined.

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Upstart Populist Party Shocks In Dutch Election Upset, 2 Days After Utrecht Attack

International reports have described the FvD as receiving “a surge of last-minute support” in the days following the Utrecht attack.

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Via Zerohedge…


Dutch voters have sent shock waves through Europe at the polls on Wednesday in the wake of Monday’s deadly Utrecht terror shooting, in which a now detained 37-year old Turkish man went on a terrifying tram killing spree which left three dead and three injured.

Euroskeptic party, Forum for Democracy (FvD), has emerged victorious in key provincial elections this week, paving the way to making it one of the two largest groups in the Dutch Senate, and representing growing Dutch frustration with the recent unprecedented refugee influx in Europe.

Newcomer Forum for Democracy party is led by 36-year-old Thierry Baudet, who is a critic of the EU and of the Netherlands’ immigration policies, via EPA

International reports have described the FvD as receiving “a surge of last-minute support” in the days following the Utrecht attack, which investigators have since described as having a “terror motive” based on a letter found in shooter Gokmen Tanis’ possession.

Forum for Democracy party leader Thierry Baudet had immediately placed ultimate blame  for the incident on the government’s “lax immigration policies” and provocatively stated a day before the elections (referencing his political rival)

If people want more deadly shootings like the one in Utrecht, then they have to vote for the VVD.

Baudet, riding a wave of renewed Euroskeptic sentiment, and whose party also wants to see more military spending, green initiatives, and an easing on income tax while greatly restricting the borders, said in the aftermath of Wednesday’s vote: “The voters in the Netherlands have spread their wings and shown their true power.”

Referencing the Utrecht attack and other deadly terror incidents on European soil, he added: “We have been called to the front because we have to. Because the country needs us.”

Three were killed and several injured in Monday’s Dutch tram terror attack, which raised the country’s emergency threat level to five as it was unfolding, its highest level.

Interestingly, the 36-year old Baudet and his party continued campaigning down to the last moments even as others stopped in the wake of Monday’s attack which rocked the Netherlands. According to Al Jazeera:

Following the lead of US President Donald Trump, Baudet opposes immigration and emphasises “Dutch first” cultural and economic themes. He opposes the euro and thinks the Netherlands should leave the European Union.

Baudet had continued campaigning when other parties stopped after Monday’s attack in Utrecht, in which a gunman shot three people dead on a tram. The populist leader blamed the incident on the government’s lax immigration policies.

The FvD is now set to take 12 seats in the upper house of parliament, which is equal to Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservative VVD Party, a scenario before this week considered unlikely according to many observers.

The FvD slightly outscoring the VVD means Rutte’s government has lost its majority for the 75-seat Senate ahead of upcoming May elections.

In a post-election speech on Wednesday, Baudet described further that what’s now being described in international media as “an upstart populist party [that has] shocked the Dutch political establishment” as punishing the arrogance of elites.

In his pro-Western civilization themed remarks, Baudet added, “We are standing in the rubble of what was once the most beautiful civilization in the world.”

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Will The Trump White House finally punish Facebook for censorship?

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 113.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at US President Trump’s tweet where he has said that he would be “looking into” a report that his social media chief, Dan Scavino Jr. has been censored by Facebook.

Are we finally about to see the Trump White House move to punish social media outlets for their blatant and bias censorship of alternative narratives that dare to stray from globalist neo-liberal and radical left ideology?

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“Conservatives face a tough fight as Big Tech’s censorship expands”, authored by Donald Trump Jr., via The Hill…

As Big Tech’s censorship of conservatives becomes ever more flagrant and overt, the old arguments about protecting the sanctity of the modern public square are now invalid. Our right to freely engage in public discourse through speech is under sustained attack, necessitating a vigorous defense against the major social media and internet platforms.

From “shadowbans” on Facebook and Twitter, to demonetization of YouTube videos, to pulled ads for Republican candidates at the critical junctures of election campaigns, the list of violations against the online practices and speech of conservatives is long.

I certainly had my suspicions confirmed when Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, “accidentally” censored a post I made regarding the Jussie Smollett hoax, which consequently led to me hearing from hundreds of my followers about how they’ve been having problems seeing, liking or being able to interact with my posts. Many of them even claimed that they’ve had to repeatedly refollow me, as Instagram keeps unfollowing me on their accounts.

While nothing about Big Tech’s censorship of conservatives truly surprises me anymore, it’s still chilling to see the proof for yourself. If it can happen to me, the son of the president, with millions of followers on social media, just think about how bad it must be for conservatives with smaller followings and those who don’t have the soapbox or media reach to push back when they’re being targeted?

Thanks to a brave Facebook whistleblower who approached James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, we now know that Mark Zuckerberg’s social media giant developed algorithms to “deboost” certain content, limiting its distribution and appearance in news feeds. As you probably guessed, this stealth censorship was specifically aimed at conservatives.

Facebook appears to have deliberately tailored its algorithm to recognize the syntax and style popular among conservatives in order to “deboost” that content. “Mainstream media,” “SJW” (Social Justice Warrior) and “red pill” — all terms that conservatives often use to express themselves — were listed as red flags, according to the former Facebook insider.

Facebook engineers even cited BlazeTV host Lauren Chen’s video criticizing the social justice movement as an example of the kind of “red pills” that users just aren’t allowed to drop anymore. Mainstream conservative content was strangled in real time, yet fringe leftists such as the Young Turks enjoy free rein on the social media platform.

Despite the occasional brave gesture, politicians have been far too sluggish in recognizing the extent of the problem. But the Republican Party and the conservative movement are becoming more vigilant against the suppression of our speech, as we saw at last weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Silicon Valley lobbyists have splashed millions of dollars all over the Washington swamp to play on conservatives’ innate faith in the free-market system and respect for private property. Even as Big Tech companies work to exclude us from the town square of the 21st century, they’ve been able to rely on misguided conservatives to carry water for them with irrelevant pedantry about whether the First Amendment applies in cases of social media censorship.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has been making a name for himself as a Republican prepared to stand up to Big Tech malfeasance since his time as Missouri’s attorney general. He delivered a tour de force interview with The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel in front of the CPAC crowd, one that provided a clear-eyed assessment of the ongoing affront to the freedoms of conservative speech and expression.

Hawley demolished the absurd notion that “conservative principles” preclude taking action to ensure free debate online simply because Big Tech firms — the most powerful corporations in the world — are private companies.

Hawley pointed out that Big Tech companies already enjoy “sweetheart deals” under current regulations that make their malfeasance a matter of public concern. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, for instance, allows them to avoid liability for the content that users post to their platforms. To address this problem, Hawley proposed adding a viewpoint neutrality requirement for platforms that benefit from Section 230’s protections, which were originally enacted to protect the internet as “a forum for a true diversity of political discourse.”

“Google and Facebook should not be a law unto themselves,” Hawley declared. “They should not be able to discriminate against conservatives. They should not be able to tell us we need to sit down and shut up!”

It’s high time other conservative politicians started heeding Hawley’s warnings, because the logical endpoint of Big Tech’s free rein is far more troubling than conservative meme warriors losing their Twitter accounts. As we’re already starting to see, what starts with social media censorship can quickly lead to banishment from such fundamental services as transportation, online payments and banking.

Left unchecked, Big Tech and liberal activists could construct a private “social credit” system — not unlike what the communists have nightmarishly implemented in China — that excludes outspoken conservatives from wide swaths of American life simply because their political views differ from those of tech executives.

There is no conservative principle that even remotely suggests we are obligated to adopt a laissez-faire attitude while the richest companies on earth abuse the power we give them to put a thumb on the scale for our political enemies.

If anything, our love of the free market dictates that we must do whatever is necessary to ensure that the free marketplace of ideas remains open to all.

Donald Trump Jr. is executive vice president at The Trump Organization.

 

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