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The ‘America Last’ Express Hurtles On: Saudi Arabia, INF, Ukraine

Any realistic notion of American national interests comes last after the priorities of – well, pretty much everyone else with leverage in Washington.

Jim Jatras

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Authored by Jim Jatras via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


As the façade of 2016 Candidate Donald Trump’s promised “America First” continues to crumble away, the baked-into-the-cake pathologies of the foreign and security policy “experts” who monopolize President Trump’s administration plunge forward along their predetermined paths. Any realistic notion of American national interests comes last after the priorities of – well, pretty much everyone else with leverage in Washington.

Case in point, let’s start with Saudi Arabia and all the breast-beating over whether Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) really is guilty of ordering the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. (Spoiler Alert: You betcha!)

American and western media were all a-twitter last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s high five to Crown Pariah MbS at the G20. Amid the faux outrage – come on, does anyone really think MbS was the only killer in that room? – the gesture received America’s highest media tribute: a parody on “Saturday Night Live.”

What a circus. Apart from Putin’s greeting, the assembled hypocrites went out of their way to shun the leprous MbS, even shunting him to the margins of the group picture – as though the killing of one dodgy journalist outweighed their abetting MbS’s business-as-usual slaughter in Yemen. Really! I barely know the guy. We were never actually friends

Khashoggi’s gruesome death is the gift that keeps on giving, exacerbating as it does both international and domestic American fault lines. Let’s keep in mind that his affiliation was with the Muslim Brotherhood (and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan), the CIA, and (almost the same thing) the Washington Post. Internationally these line up with Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi elements currently on the outs with MbS and who would like to send him to join Khashoggi. Domestically in the US these add up to the Deep State and “the Resistance” to President Donald Trump, who are thrilled to be able to hang Khashoggi around his neck like an albatross, which he’s foolishly allowing to happen.

On the other hand, MbS is supported by Israel, which has a lot of clout on Capitol Hill (duh) and virtually owns the Trump administration (also duh). Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has Trump dancing to his tune via Jared Kushner (Trump and Kushner may now in fact be the same person), Ivanka Trump, and Sheldon Adelson, plus his entire foreign policy team, starting with National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Rather than wisely using the Khashoggi imbroglio as an opportunity to take the exit ramp away from US support for the crazed Wahhabist head-choppers in Riyadh of any faction, Team Trump is doggedly defending their the line in the sand in support of MbS personally as the spearhead of their anti-Iran, “Arab NATO” program.

The Resistance side is no less anti-Iran, but beating the Khashoggi drum and even tying it to support for Yemen slaughter (not that they really give a damn about Yemen, except for a few bleeding hearts like Senator Rand Paul and Representative Tulsi Gabbard, who even have the temerity to oppose the CIA’s arming of al-Qaeda in Syria!) is a twofer: to weaken and humiliate Trump, plus hoping at some point to install a replacement to MbS who would be a more reliable tool for their anti-Iran vendetta. The big break, if it comes, will be if Bibi’s foot soldiers around Trump decide they need to dump MbS as counterproductive to their agenda on Iran. Then they’ll stop resisting the Resistance, MbS will be removed (with extreme prejudice), and Trump will have egg on his face for having supported him for so long. For the Resistance, it’s win-win …

… if it happens that way. On the other hand, even exposed as the bloody minded killer he is, it’s not impossible MbS, with Israel backstopping him, can just tough it out. After all, those waiting in the wings in Riyadh are no angels either. At least in the short term MbS may still have the upper hand via squatter’s rights; he’s in power and the guy everybody still has to deal with. He can also still spread a lot of cash around as Khashoggi recedes into the rear view mirror.

If things really look as though they are going south on him, MbS might think to take leaf from the playbook of Georgia’s Mikheil Saakashvili in 2008 and Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko a couple of weeks ago (more below) and provoke an incident with Iran on his own to force Washington back him up. That would be risky, to say the least. It’s unlikely that even Bolton and Pompeo are ready for war – yet. They seem to believe their own propaganda about regime change via sanctions and economic collapse and the supposedly yuge popularity of the “People’s Mojahedin” (MEK), our designated replacement waiting to be parachuted into Tehran. They’ll at least want to run the sanctions game a while longer to weaken Iran (and humiliate the Europeans some more) before they go for Plan B if necessary. Also, they’d need a phony pretext along the lines of Iraqi WMDs, Benghazi, Racak, and it’s uncertain MbS is competent give them one all by himself.

If MbS does hazard to strike out on his own before they (Donald Kushner and Boltpeo) are ready, he may end up chewing on his tie like Saakashvili (or whatever the equivalent of that is with a thobe and gutra). At that point he would be universally seen as a liability and removed. Nothing can be ruled out of course, and if MbS thinks are getting really shaky he just might do it, figuring he’s got nothing to lose … but his head.

Shifting gears to the big league between the US and Russia, it’s virtually certain the Trump administration will follow through on its threat to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, originally concluded between the US and the USSR in 1987. Pompeo’s ultimatum to Russia to confess they were cheating and dispose of the offending 9M729 missiles was couched in a laundry list of “admit when you stopped beating your wife” charges: “These violations of the INF treaty cannot be viewed in isolation from the larger pattern of Russian lawlessness on the world stage. The list of Russia’s infamous acts is long: Georgia, Ukraine, Syria, election meddling, Skripal and now the Kerch Strait, to name just a few.”

Pompeo’s ultimatum came literally one day after Trump signaled in a Tweet that he does not want a new arms race:

‘I am certain that, at some time in the future, President Xi and I, together with President Putin of Russia, will start talking about a meaningful halt to what has become a major and uncontrollable Arms Race. The U.S. spent 716 Billion Dollars this year. Crazy!’

Ha! Who does this Trump fellow think he is – the President? He doesn’t want a “crazy” arms race? Too bad. He’d better check with the guys he’s picked to run his administration for him. They’re completely copasetic with crazy – and then some!

Perhaps we can hold out a desperate hope that Trump’s intention is to replicate his tentative win on Korea, that threatening to pull out of the INF Treaty and accusing Moscow of every sin under the sun is just part of the “art of the deal,” “little rocket man” versus “mentally deranged dotard,” etc., with the real goal a new and better deal with Russia, maybe including China as well. But if that were so (there’s no evidence for it) there’s no need to trash the current agreement or even to threaten to do so. There is a lot that has changed technologically since 1987, and updates and revisions, perhaps in a protocol to the existing treaty might make sense.

That’s unlikely to happen though. Instead, not only will there be a new arms race in the intermediate range – which Moscow declares its willingness to undertake, however reluctantly – the flaccidity of America’s European so-called allies is again relevant. US threats to deploy intermediate-range missiles in Europe would be meaningless if European countries refused to host them because doing so would make them a target for Russian weapons. But while the European Union whines it would be better to keep the Treaty (just like it whined impotently about the JCPOA), NATO – mainly the same countries as belong to the EU – dutifully backed up the US position. There’s no evidence Europeans are prepared to confront Washington with a firm Ohne uns! if the INF agreement is terminated. Servility to their Transatlantic hegemon outweighs even their instinct for self-preservation. Whereas in the 1980s the first intermediate-range deployment of US Pershing missiles sparked a huge, mainly Leftist, European peace movement – which in turn helped lead to the INF Treaty in the first place – nothing of the sort exists now. This perhaps reflects the fact that today’s Left, which has little affinity with ordinary working people and is obsessed with Cultural Marxist identity politics, has become quite anti-Russian with the demise of communism.

Finally, moving to Ukraine, one would think the Trump Administration would not be particularly friendly towards a government that was complicit in the attempt to use the Christopher Steele dossier to put Hillary Clinton in the White House and then, when that failed, to cripple the Trump administration through the witch hunt known as Russiagate. While the major players were intelligence and law enforcement agencies of the United States and the United Kingdom(not necessarily in that order), other countries were involved too. One of the prominent ones was Ukraine, whose President Petro Poroshenko feared could be left out in the cold if Trump improved ties with Russia per his oft-stated intent– since after all, nobody in Washington could care less about Ukraine except as a club to beat Russia with. Steps were taken to avert that:

‘Andrii Telizhenko, a former high-ranking Ukrainian diplomat known well in Washington circles, had vital information about collusion between elements of Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko administration and the US’ Democratic National Committee (DNC) to dig up – or create – dirt on Donald Trump, but he has been chronically ignored by US investigators.

‘Telizhenko appeared as a key source in a January 2017 Politico article by Ken Vogel titled, “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire: Kiev officials are scrambling to make amends with the president-elect after quietly working to boost Clinton.”’

Whatever concerns Poroshenko might have had that his complicity in the anti-Trump US-UK Deep State plot would hurt his standing with the administration of his target have long since been put to rest. Trump’s turning his administration into a haven for Bush-era recidivists and others of the sort who have turned American policy into a shambles for the past three decades has seen to that. Hostility to Russia is and will remain a lodestar of US policy, whichipso facto makes Poroshenko our “friend.”

That means that Poroshenko need only poke the bear to get a growl and kneejerk pledges of support will click into place. While Ukraine may not be a full member of the golden circle of countries like Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom that have the US on a leash, it’s not too far from it either.

With his reelection prospects in March 2019 appearing dismal, Poroshenko decided to “wag the dog” with a stunt in the Kerch Strait connecting Crimea to the Russian mainland that he knew would provoke a Russian response. As Moon of Alabama reports:

‘The Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko sent the boats with the order not to coordinate their passage with Russian authorities. The captured sailors confirm that. He obviously wanted to provoke a violent Russian reaction.

‘The government of Ukraine practically admitted that the mission had nefarious intent:

“Ukraine’s state security service [SBU] says that its intelligence officers were among the crew on Ukrainian naval ships seized by Russia in a standoff near Crimea.

“The SBU agency said in a statement Tuesday that the officers were fulfilling counterintelligence operations for the Ukrainian navy, in response to ‘psychological and physical pressure’ by Russian spy services. It didn’t elaborate, but demanded that Russia stop such activity.”

“Russia’s FSB intelligence agency said late Monday that that there were SBU officers on board the Ukrainian ships, calling that proof of a “provocation” staged by Ukraine.”

Moscow is acutely aware of the danger of an attack to disable the Kerch Strait Bridge, built quickly and at great expense (a fact that undermines the oft-repeated anti-Russian claim that Moscow is plotting to seize Mariupol, Zaporozhye Oblast, and part of Kherson Oblast to establish a mainland route from Donbas to Crimea from the north). There have been rumors (perhaps no more than that) that Ukraine seeks to deploy a Special Atomic Demolition Munition (SADM), a small, man-portable, low-yield (circa one kiloton) device developed by NATO in the 1950s for destroying European infrastructure in advance of a Soviet invasion. Such a device would be deployable by divers if they had access to the bridge. Whether or not there’s any factual basis for such concerns, Moscow takes threats to the bridge seriously. In May 2018 the Russian Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against establishment commentator Tom Rogan and his Washington Examiner editor for advocating blowing up of the bridge, which Russian officials called incitement to terrorism.

Right on cue, Washington is preparing new sanctions, planning to send US warships into the Black Sea in a show of support for a country to which we are not allied (amid a lunatic call from the Atlantic Council to force an entry into the Sea of Azov as well!), and conducting “extraordinary” observation flight over Ukraine. What could possibly go wrong?

The bottom line is that Poroshenko now can jerk our chain and we will respond. While this time he failed to get a nationwide, 60-day martial law declaration approved by a Rada concerned he’d use it to cancel next year’s election, he did get 30 days in oblasts bordering Russia and Pridnestrovie. This will be useful not only for hampering electoral activities of his opponents in areas where he is even more unpopular than in the rest of Ukraine, it will facilitate seizures of churches and monasteries from the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church – a process that has already begun. He is secure in the knowledge that another provocation is always an option, in Kerch again, or the Donbas, or a grab against a major Church site like Pochaev or Pechersk.

Perhaps the saddest thing is that it has now become all so predictable. We were told that Donald Trump’s administration would put America and American interests first. But instead, those acting in his name tell us through their actions: “Get in line, peasants.”

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Tom Welsh
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Tom Welsh

“In May 2018 the Russian Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against establishment commentator Tom Rogan and his Washington Examiner editor for advocating blowing up of the bridge, which Russian officials called incitement to terrorism”. Well, of course it was incitement to terrorism. No ifs, buts or maybes. You couldn’t have a more clear-cut example of that particular crime. What may obscure the issue for some is the industrial-strength double standard that Washington has created, which allows Americans and their pals to commit serious crimes with impunity. Just imagine that, rather than the Kerch Straits bridge, Rogan had advocated blowing… Read more »

Dave3200
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Dave3200

Excellent post, Tom. The US establishment, Deep State, Military-Industrial Complex and never Trumpers have no limits to the actions they’re apt to take to protect their controlling interests. They’ve proven this repeatedly recently in places like Libya, Ukraine, Syria, Benghazi, Yemen, Turkey (Kashoggi) and Crimea…. not to mention the crap they pull domestically. Do you remember Seth Rich? Assassination by the CIA has no territorial boundaries.

The good news is that the American people are getting wise to their antics. I dread to think how this all might come to an end.

Cudwieser
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Cudwieser

Civil war hopefully. I’d be impressed to see the US nuke itself.

Flying Gabriel
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Flying Gabriel

It might just be that a Constitution and several hundred million armed Americans are the last bastion blocking globalism crowning itself King of the World. Forget the never Trumpers – they are going to wish he’d never been born. Enjoy the Show.

Flying Gabriel
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Flying Gabriel

I’m so sick of confronting ignorance and disinformation with these op-eds.
If you’re not part of the movement by now you’re against it.
This is nothing but a prop for the deep state in their war against Trump.
The Q Army is taking names Jim, and you’re on it.
Tick tock. JUSTICE is coming.

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Fake news media FREAK OUT over Trump and NATO (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 172.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the media meltdown over remarks that U.S. President Trump may have made with regard to NATO, and how neo-liberal war hawks championing the alliance as some sort of foreign policy projection of peace and democracy, are really just supporting aggression, war, and the eventual weakening of the United States.

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Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO, Authored by David Swanson:


The New York Times loves NATO, but should you?

Judging by comments in social media and the real world, millions of people in the United States have gone from having little or no opinion on NATO, or from opposing NATO as the world’s biggest military force responsible for disastrous wars in places like Afghanistan (for Democrats) or Libya (for Republicans), to believing NATO to be a tremendous force for good in the world.

I believe this notion to be propped up by a series of misconceptions that stand in dire need of correction.

1. NATO is not a war-legalizing body, quite the opposite. NATO, like the United Nations, is an international institution that has something or other to do with war, but transferring the UN’s claimed authority to legalize a war to NATO has no support whatsoever in reality. The crime of attacking another nation maintains an absolutely unaltered legal status whether or not NATO is involved. Yet NATO is used within the U.S. and by other NATO members as cover to wage wars under the pretense that they are somehow more legal or acceptable. This misconception is not the only way in which NATO works against the rule of law. Placing a primarily-U.S. war under the banner of NATO also helps to prevent Congressional oversight of that war. Placing nuclear weapons in “non-nuclear” nations, in violation of the Nonproliferation Treaty, is also excused with the claim that the nations are NATO members (so what?). And NATO, of course, assigns nations the responsibility to go to war if other nations go to war — a responsibility that requires them to be prepared for war, with all the damage such preparation does.

2. NATO is not a defensive institution. According to the New York Times, NATO has “deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.” This is an article of faith, based on the unsubstantiated belief that Soviet and Russian aggression toward NATO members has existed for 70 years and that NATO has deterred it rather than provoked it. In violation of a promise made, NATO has expanded eastward, right up to the border of Russia, and installed missiles there. Russia has not done the reverse. The Soviet Union has, of course, ended. NATO has waged aggressive wars far from the North Atlantic, bombing Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya. NATO has added a partnership with Colombia, abandoning all pretense of its purpose being in the North Atlantic. No NATO member has been attacked or credibly threatened with attack, apart from small-scale non-state blowback from NATO’s wars of aggression.

3. Trump is not trying to destroy NATO. Donald Trump, as a candidate and as U.S. President, has wondered aloud and even promised all kinds of things and, in many cases, the exact opposite as well. When it comes to actions, Trump has not taken any actions to limit or end or withdraw from NATO. He has demanded that NATO members buy more weapons, which is of course a horrible idea. Even in the realm of rhetoric, when European officials have discussed creating a European military, independent of the United States, Trump has replied by demanding that they instead support NATO.

4. If Trump were trying to destroy NATO, that would tell us nothing about NATO. Trump has claimed to want to destroy lots of things, good and bad. Should I support NAFTA or corporate media or the Cold War or the F35 or anything at all, simply because some negative comment about it escapes Trump’s mouth? Should I cheer for every abuse ever committed by the CIA or the FBI because they investigate Trump? Should I long for hostility between nuclear-armed governments because Democrats claim Trump is a Russian agent? When Trump defies Russia to expand NATO, or to withdraw from a disarmament treaty or from an agreement with Iran, or to ship weapons to Ukraine, or to try to block Russian energy deals in Europe, or to oppose Russian initiatives on banning cyber-war or weapons in space, should I cheer for such consistent defiance of Trump’s Russian master, and do so simply because Russia is, so implausibly, his so-inept master? Or should I form my own opinion of things, including of NATO?

5. Trump is not working for, and was not elected by, Russia.According to the New York Times, “Russia’s meddling in American elections and its efforts to prevent former satellite states from joining the alliance have aimed to weaken what it views as an enemy next door, the American officials said.” But are anonymous “American officials” really needed to acquire Russia’s openly expressed opinion that NATO is a threatening military alliance that has moved weapons and troops to states on Russia’s border? And has anyone produced the slightest documentation of the Russian government’s aims in an activity it has never admitted to, namely “meddling in American elections,” — an activity the United States has of course openly admitted to in regard to Russian elections? We have yet to see any evidence that Russia stole or otherwise acquired any of the Democratic Party emails that documented that party’s rigging of its primary elections in favor of Clinton over Sanders, or even any claim that the tiny amount of weird Facebook ads purchased by Russians could possibly have influenced the outcome of anything. Supposedly Trump is even serving Russia by demanding that Turkey not attack Kurds. But is using non-military means to discourage Turkish war-making necessarily the worst thing? Would it be if your favorite party or politician did it? If Trump encouraged a Turkish war, would that also be a bad thing because Trump did it, or would it be a bad thing for substantive reasons?

6. If Trump were elected by and working for Russia, that would tell us nothing about NATO. Imagine if Boris Yeltsin were indebted to the United States and ended the Soviet Union. Would that tell us whether ending the Soviet Union was a good thing, or whether the Soviet Union was obsolete for serious reasons? If Trump were a Russian pawn and began reversing all of his policies on Russia to match that status, including restoring his support for the INF Treaty and engaging in major disarmament negotiations, and we ended up with a world of dramatically reduced military spending and nuclear armaments, with the possibility of all dying in a nuclear apocalypse significantly lowered, would that too simply be a bad thing because Trump?

7. Russia is not a military threat to the world. That Russia would cheer NATO’s demise tells us nothing about whether we should cheer too. Numerous individuals and entities who indisputably helped to put Trump in the White House would dramatically oppose and others support NATO’s demise. We can’t go by their opinions either, since they don’t all agree. We really are obliged to think for ourselves. Russia is a heavily armed militarized nation that commits the crime of war not infrequently. Russia is a top weapons supplier to the world. All of that should be denounced for what it is, not because of who Russia is or who Trump is. But Russia spends a tiny fraction of what the United States does on militarism. Russia has been reducing its military spending each year, while the United States has been increasing its military spending. U.S. annual increases have sometimes exceeded Russia’s entire military budget. The United States has bombed nine nations in the past year, Russia one. The United States has troops in 175 nations, Russia in 3. Gallup and Pew find populations around the world viewing the United States, not Russia, as the top threat to peace in the world. Russia has asked to join NATO and the EU and been rejected, NATO members placing more value on Russia as an enemy. Anonymous U.S. military officials describe the current cold war as driven by weapons profits. Those profits are massive, and NATO now accounts for about three-quarters of military spending and weapons dealing on the globe.

8. Crimea has not been seized. According to the New York Times, “American national security officials believe that Russia has largely focused on undermining solidarity between the United States and Europe after it annexed Crimea in 2014. Its goal was to upend NATO, which Moscow views as a threat.” Again we have an anonymous claim as to a goal of a government in committing an action that never occurred. We can be fairly certain such things are simply made up. The vote by the people of Crimea to re-join Russia is commonly called the Seizure of Crimea. This infamous seizure is hard to grasp. It involved a grand total of zero casualties. The vote itself has never been re-done. In fact, to my knowledge, not a single believer in the Seizure of Crimea has ever advocated for re-doing the vote. Coincidentally, polling has repeatedly found the people of Crimea to be happy with their vote. I’ve not seen any written or oral statement from Russia threatening war or violence in Crimea. If the threat was implicit, there remains the problem of being unable to find Crimeans who say they felt threatened. (Although I have seen reports of discrimination against Tartars during the past 4 years.) If the vote was influenced by the implicit threat, there remains the problem that polls consistently get the same result. Of course, a U.S.-backed coup had just occurred in Kiev, meaning that Crimea — just like a Honduran immigrant — was voting to secede from a coup government, by no means an action consistently frowned upon by the United States.

9. NATO is not an engaged alternative to isolationism. The notion that supporting NATO is a way to cooperate with the world ignores superior non-deadly ways to cooperate with the world. A nonviolent, cooperative, treaty-joining, law-enforcing alternative to the imperialism-or-isolationism trap is no more difficult to think of or to act on than treating drug addiction or crime or poverty as reason to help people rather than to punish them. The opposite of bombing people is not ignoring them. The opposite of bombing people is embracing them. By the standards of the U.S. communications corporations Switzerland must be the most isolationist land because it doesn’t join in bombing anyone. The fact that it supports the rule of law and global cooperation, and hosts gatherings of nations seeking to work together is simply not relevant.

10. April 4 belongs to Martin Luther King, Jr., not militarism. War is a leading contributor to the growing global refugee and climate crises, the basis for the militarization of the police, a top cause of the erosion of civil liberties, and a catalyst for racism and bigotry. A growing coalition is calling for the abolition of NATO, the promotion of peace, the redirection of resources to human and environmental needs, and the demilitarization of our cultures. Instead of celebrating NATO’s 70thanniversary, we’re celebrating peace on April 4, in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech against war on April 4, 1967, as well as his assassination on April 4, 1968.

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Turkey prepared to take Syria’s Manbij, won’t let it turn into ‘swamp’ like N. Iraq

Turkey sees the US-backed Kurdish YPG militias as an extension of the PKK and considers them terrorists as well.

RT

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Via RT


Ankara has “almost completed” preparations for another military operation in Syria and will launch it if “promises” made by other parties about the protection of its borders are not kept, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

Turkey still hopes that talks with the US, Russia and “other parties” will allow it to ensure its security without resorting to force but it is still ready to proceed with a military option and will not “wait forever,” Erdogan said. He was referring to Ankara’s plans for the northern Syrian territories east of the Euphrates River, which it seeks to turn into a “security zone”free of any Kurdish militias.

“We are on our border with our forces and following developments closely. If promises made to us are kept and the process goes on, that’s fine. Otherwise, we inform that we have almost completed our preparations and will take steps in line with our own strategy,” the president said, addressing a group of businessmen in Ankara on Monday.

He did not elaborate on the promises made. However, they are apparently linked to the withdrawal of the Kurdish YPG militia from the Manbij area and the regions along the border with Turkey. “We will never allow a safe zone to turn into a new swamp,” Erdogan said, referring to the northern Syrian territories and comparing them to the northern Iraq, where the militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – an organization that Ankara considers a terrorist group – have been entrenched for decades.

Turkey sees the US-backed Kurdish YPG militias, which form the backbone of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as an extension of the PKK and considers them terrorists as well. “Our proposal for a security zone under Turkey’s control aims to keep terror organizations away from our borders,” the Turkish president said.

He went on to explain that Ankara does not seek any territorial gains in its military campaigns in Syria but merely seeks to restore order in the war-ravaged country. “We will provide security for Manbij and then we will hand over the city to its real owners,” Erdogan said. “Syria belongs to Syrians.”

Turkey also seeks to establish a “security zone 20 miles [32 kilometers] deep” into Syria, Erdogan said, adding that he already discussed this issue with the US President Donald Trump. “Those who insistently want to keep us away from these regions are seeking to strengthen terror organizations,” he added.

Ankara has been long planning to push YPG units out of the area east of the Euphrates River. Its operation was delayed by the US withdrawal from Syria. However, Erdogan repeatedly hinted that his patience is wearing thin and he is not ready to wait much longer. He warned Trump against backtracking on his pledge to withdraw some 2,000 US forces out of Syria following a suicide attack in Manbij that killed four Americans. If the US president halted the withdrawal, it would mean that Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL) had won, Erdogan argued.

He has also reiterated that Turkey is ready to take over Manbij “without delay.” The US military is currently working on security arrangements with the Turkish forces to create a buffer zone between Turkey and the Kurdish fighters. The Kurds, meanwhile, invited the Syrian government to take over the city and have reportedly begun to leave the area. Turkey has dismissed the reports saying its a “psyop”.

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Political Knives Dull Themselves on the Rock of Brexit Article 50

The invocation of Article 50 was undertaken by an act of Parliament. And it will take another act of Parliament to undo it.

Strategic Culture Foundation

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Authored Tom Luongo via Strategic Culture Foundation:


Theresa “The Gypsum Lady” May went through an extraordinary twenty-four hours. First, seeing her truly horrific Brexit deal go down in historic defeat and then, somehow, surviving a ‘No-Confidence’ vote which left her in a stronger position than before it.

It looks like May rightly calculated that the twenty or so Tory Remainers would put party before the European Union as their personal political positions would be terminally weakened if they voted her out of office.

While there is little stomach in the British Parliament for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, there is less for allowing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to become Prime Minister. And that is the crux of why the incessant calls to delay Brexit, call for a ‘people’s vote’ or, in Corbyn’s case, “take a no-deal Brexit off the table,’ ultimately lead to a whole lot of political knife-fighting and very little substantive action.

The day-to-day headline spam is designed to wear down people’s resistance and make it feel like Brexit getting betrayed is inevitable. That has been the British Deep State’s and EU’s game plan all along and they hoped they could arm-twist enough people in parliament to succeed.

But the problem for them now, since the clock has nearly run out, is the invocation of Article 50 was undertaken by an act of Parliament. And it will take another act of Parliament to undo it.

And I don’t see anyone on the Remainer side working towards that end. That should be your clue as to what happens next.

Why? Because they know they don’t have the time to get that act past Parliament. So, the rest of this is simply a PR campaign to push public opinion far enough to allow for an illegal canceling or postponing of Brexit.

But it’s not working.

According to the latest polls, Brits overwhelmingly want the original Brexit vote respectedLeave even has a 5-6 point lead over Remain.

And, I think Theresa May now realizes this. It is why she invited the no-confidence vote against her. She knew she had the votes and it would give her the ammunition to ignore Corbyn’s hysterical ranting about taking a no-deal Brexit off the table.

Whether she realizes that the only negotiating tool she has with the EU is the threat of a No-Deal Brexit, exactly like Nigel Farage and those committed to Brexit have been telling her for two years is still, however, up in the air.

It looks like she’s finally starting to get it.

The net result is we are seeing a similar outing of the nefarious, behind-the-scenes, power brokers in the public eye similar to what’s been happening in the US with Donald Trump and Russiagate.

May has been singularly unimpressive in her handling of Brexit. I’ve been convinced from the beginning that betraying Brexit was always her goal. Negotiating a deal unacceptable to anyone was meant to exhaust everyone into the position to just throwing up their hands and canceling the whole thing.

The EU has been in the driver’s seat the entire time because most of the British establishment has been on their side and it was only the people who needed to be disrespected.

So, after all of these shananigans we are back to where we were last week. May has cut off all avenues of discussion. She won’t commit to taking ‘no-deal’ off the table to tweak Corbyn. She won’t substantively move on any other issue. This is likely to push her deal through as a last-minute panic move.

Corbyn is still hoping to get new elections to take power, and the majority of MP’s who don’t want to leave the EU keep fighting among themselves to cock up the entire works.

All they are doing is expending pound after pound of political capital beating themselves against their own act of Parliament which goes into effect on March 29th.

By the time that date comes around the frustration, shame and humiliation of how Parliament has mishandled Brexit will make it difficult for a lot of Remainers to hold together their majority as public opinion has decidedly turned against them.

In the past the EU has had that façade of democratic support undermining any change at the political level. With Brexit (and with budget talks in Italy) that is not the case. The people are angry.

The peak moment for Remainers to stage a bipartisan political coup against May should have been the most recent no-confidence vote.

With May surviving that it implies that Remainers are not willing to die politically for their cause.

This should begin to see defectors over the next couple of weeks as they realize they don’t have a hand to play either.

And by May refusing to rule out a ‘no-deal’ Brexit it has finally brought the EU around to throw a bone towards the British. Their admitting they would extend Article 50 is just that. But they know that’s a non-starter as that is the one thing May has been steadfast in holding to.

On March 29th with or without a deal the U.K. is out of the EU. Because despite the European Court of Justice’s decision, Britain’s parliament can only cancel Article 50 at this point by acting illegally.

Not that I would put that past these people, but then that opens up a can of worms that most British MP’s will not go along with. The personal stakes are simply too high.

When dealing with politicians, never bet against their vanity or their pocketbook. In May’s case she may finally have realized she could have the legacy of getting Britain out of the EU just before it collapses.

And all she has to do between now and the end of March is, precisely, nothing.

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