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Turkey at the crossroads following Istanbul shooting

There are no quick or easy solutions to Turkey’s terrorism crisis. However if the crisis is to be overcome Turkey urgently needs to reconcile with Syria and Iraq, in order to secure peace and establish good neighbourly relations with these countries, ending the threat of Jihadi terrorism spreading to its territory. Turks also urgently needs to focus on the fight against ISIS, work for better relations with Russia, and in the long term seek reconciliation with the Armenians and the Kurds.

Alexander Mercouris

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The murderous attack on New Year’s Day on a nightclub in Istanbul is merely the latest in a string of terrorist attacks in Turkey.

Responsibility for the New Year’s Day attack has been claimed by ISIS.  ISIS has also claimed responsibility for previous terrorist attacks in Ankara in October 2015 (which killed 100 people) in January and March 2016 in Istanbul, on Ataturk airport in Istanbul in June 2016 (which killed 45 people) and in August 2016 in Gaziantep (which killed 54 people).

ISIS is not the only terrorist organisation operating in Turkey.  The TAK (“Kurdistan Freedom Hawks”) has claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack on a transport hub in Ankara in March 2016,  which killed 37 people, and it previously launched an attack in February 2016 on military buses in Ankara, which killed 29 people.

More recently, on 19th December 2016, Andrey Karlov, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, was shot dead in Istanbul by a gunman who the Turkish authorities say had connections to the Gulen movement but who shouted words after the killing which appeared to associate him with the militant Jihadist groups fighting the government of Syria.

This is a terrible pattern of extraordinary violence, and it shows the extent to which Turkey has been destabilised by events in neighbouring Iraq and Syria.

It is often said that Turkish President Erdogan’s policies have contributed to this violence, and unfortunately that is true.  His decision to commit Turkey to the cause of regime change in Syria has made Turkey the main base for Jihadi fighters pouring into Syria to wage their war there.  The result is that Turkey is now awash with violent men with guns, with worrying signs that some sections of Turkey’s own population are becoming radicalised.

President Erdogan’s ham-fisted policies have no doubt also played a role in escalating the crisis with the Kurds, though it should be said that the conflict between the Turkish state and the Kurds is very longstanding, and President Erdogan is its inheritor not its creator.

It should be said clearly however that by far the greatest cause of Turkey’s current terrorism crisis is Western policy, which by causing wars in Iraq and Syria has fostered the rise of violent Jihadism in the region, leaving Turkey desperately exposed.

Unfortunately there is no simple solution to this problem.  Though Turkey has become increasingly opposed to ISIS over the last year – after having previously flirted with and covertly supported it – the Turkish army’s recent defeat by ISIS near Al-Bab shows what a tough enemy for Turkey ISIS is.

The recent rapprochement with Russia may be in part intended to win for Turkey a strong ally against ISIS.  However as the Russian-Turkish ceasefire plan for Syria shows, the price is the abandonment of the regime change project in Syria.

In the short term this creates risks for Turkey.  Any move by Turkey to scale down its commitment to the Jihadis fighting for regime change in Syria risks enraging the Jihadis and their supporters within Turkey itself, risking a violent backlash and a much greater spike in terrorist violence there.

As for the Kurds, in the earlier years of his administration President Erdogan and his party made a sustained and partially successful attempt to reconcile with the Kurds.  As President Erdogan has however come to base his appeal increasingly on Turkish nationalism that has however become more and more difficult.  With the Turkish army now fighting the Kurds in Syria and within Turkey itself, and occupying stretches of Iraqi Kurdistan, the fear has to be that relations between the Erdogan government and the Kurds have passed the point of no return.

Besides for many Turks, including for many of Erdogan’s supporters, Kurdistan is an existential issue, which strikes at the very heart of Turkey’s existence as a nation and as a state.  Suffice to say that there are reports that the plotters behind the July coup attempt in Turkey intended to put Erdogan on trial for treason because of his previous concessions to the Kurds.

This makes it very difficult to see what Erdogan can offer to the Kurds that would satisfy the more radical elements amongst them, who are behind the recent terrorist violence, but which would not antagonise large swathes of Turkish opinion, including many of Erdogan’s own supporters.

When Turkey suffered an earlier bout of terrorist violence in the 1970s the result was the 1980 army coup.  Though that was carried out with great brutality, it did at least stabilise the situation in Turkey.

Whether following the debacle of the July coup attempt the Turkish army is now in any condition to carry out a coup is very debatable.  Besides Turkey’s future ultimately depends on its breaking the cycle of violence and military repression which has been the pattern of Turkish politics since the 1960 coup, and which have up to now held it back.  President Erdogan for all his faults had appeared until recently to be making real progress in that direction.  Another coup would be a gigantic step back.

Though it is not easy to see an immediate way out of Turkey’s current crisis, I would say that those people who sometimes give the impression of wanting Turkey either to break up or to descend into civil war should be careful what they wish for.

Not only would that be a disaster for Turkey’s people, but given Turkey’s size and importance it would also be profoundly destabilising for the Middle East and for Europe, and indeed for the whole world generally.  Suffice to say that the biggest short term beneficiaries would be the various extreme Jihadi terrorist movements, first and foremost Al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Having said all this, though it is not easy to see a quick way out of the crisis, it is nonetheless possible to identify certain things that can be done, and which should be done, and moreover without delay.

Firstly, it is in Turkey’s imperative interest that ISIS be destroyed, and that peace and good neighbourly relations be restored with Iraq and Syria.

If that means cooperating with Russia and giving up on the regime change project in Syria, then that is a price Turkey’s leaders must pay in the interests of their people and their country.  Whilst doing so will inevitably cause a short term spike in terrorist violence inside Turkey, Russia’s and Pakistan’s experience in defeating Jihadist terrorism on their territories shows that with good intelligence and single-mindedness it can be done.

Whilst Turkey with its Muslim population would face a huge challenge, it would have no shortage of allies in such a struggle.  The overwhelming majority of Turks have no time for violent Jihadism (I know Turkey sufficiently well to be able to say this with confidence), and if they were given a strong lead by their leaders I have no doubt they would support a Turkish government committed to fighting Jihadism on their behalf, just as Russians were after Putin became President.

Given time I am sure the challenge of Jihadi terrorism within Turkey can be overcome.

The alternative, of trying to keep the regime change project in Syria alive by prolonging the war there can only in the end make the internal situation in Turkey worse, and the problem of Jihadi terrorism within Turkey much greater and more intractable.

As for the Kurds, some sort of reconciliation with them – and incidentally also with the Armenians – is essential for Turkey’s long term future.  In my opinion it can be done without endangering Turkey’s integrity or existence as a state, though unfortunately I doubt it will happen soon, or that President Erdogan is the man to do it.

In the meantime some sort of deal involving the Kurds in Iraq and Syria is essential, and realistically that too cannot happen without peace and the restoration of good neighbourly relations with Iraq and Syria, and without some sort of partnership with Russia and Iran, the traditional friends of the Armenians and the Kurds.

Saying all this makes clear which countries Turkey should prioritise in seeking better relations.  Whatever lingering feelings Turks may still have for the European Union, it cannot help Turkey in its present predicament.

There are times when President Erdogan – or at least some members of his government – say and do things which show that they have at least some understanding of what they need to do.  The rapprochement with Russia, and the Russian-Turkish ceasefire plan for Syria, are two examples.

However if so then they also need to understand that doing these things is simply not reconcilable with the megalomaniac language and projects that President Erdogan unfortunately is all too manifestly given to.  Stealing a march on the Russians by launching Operation Euphrates Shield may appear clever.  In reality it is not clever at all if it bogs Turkey down in a quagmire in Syria, and if it enrages the Kurds, the Syrians, the Iranians and the Russians, with all of whom Turkey in its own interests urgently needs to reconcile.

Turkey’s leaders – first and foremost President Erdogan – have some very difficult decisions to make in the weeks and months ahead.  In the interests of Turkey’s people it is to be earnestly hoped that they will rise to the occasion and make the right ones.

 

 

 

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Deep State insurrection defying POTUS Trump’s order to release unredacted FISA docs (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 113.

Alex Christoforou

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Deep State officials like ex-CIA chief John Brennan are in panic mode.

Deep State DOJ tool Rod Rosenstein refuses to comply with Trump’s executive order as afforded him by the US Constitution.

Establishment Democrats are all over the mainstream media channels calling the act of releasing documents criminal.

The US President wants every American citizen to see the full, unredacted version of the FISA documents used to spy on Carter Page. Trump is simply asking for full transparency, in what has become a two year, multi-million dollar witch hunt, to find collusion where there is none.

This is all you need to know about the hoax that was and is Trump-Russia collusion and the Robert Mueller special counsel investigation.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the insurrection taking place at the US Department of Justice, as Democrats, ex-Obama officials, and DOJ directors are doing everything in their power to make sure the truth, about how the FISA warrant to spy on Carter Page was obtained, remains hidden from the eyes of the American public.

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Via Zerohedge


Despite President Trump’s Monday order for the “immediate declassification” of sensitive materials related to the Russia investigation, “without redaction,” the agencies involved are planning to do so anyway, according to Bloomberg, citing three people familiar with the matter.

The Justice Department, FBI and Office of the Director of National Intelligence are going through a methodical review and can’t offer a timeline for finishing, said the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the sensitive matter. –Bloomberg

Trump ordered the DOJ to release the text messages of former FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, now-fired special agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page and twice-demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr.

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

The DOJ and the FBI are expected to submit proposed redactions to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence – which will prepare a package for Trump to sign off on.

“When the president issues such an order, it triggers a declassification review process that is conducted by various agencies within the intelligence community, in conjunction with the White House counsel, to seek to ensure the safety of America’s national security interests,” a Justice Department spokesman said in a statement. “The department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are already working with the Director of National Intelligence to comply with the president’s order.”

The agencies are likely to cite national security concerns over revealing classified “sources and methods” pertaining to the Russia investigation – which will put them in direct conflict with Trump’s order. Trump, as president, has the power to override the agencies and declassify material on his own.

Trump’s order to release the documents comes after months of requests from GOP lawmakers, while the DOJ has repeatedly denied their requests for more transparency.

The FBI’s spy…

According to Bloomberg, the DOJ is interpreting Trump’s request to include information about the use of confidential informant (spy) Stephan Halper during the early stages of the Trump-Russia investigation. After taking in over $400,000 from the Obama Pentagon under the auspices of a research contract, Halper befriended and spied on members of the Trump campaign, including aides Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

Showdown?

Top Congressional Democrats Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Adam Schiff and Mark Warner penned a joint letter to ODNI Director Dan Coates, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray demanding that the agencies defy President Trump.

In the letter, the lawmakers “express profound alarm” at the decision to “intervene in an ongoing law enforcement investigation that may implicate the President himself or those around him.”

“Any decision by your offices to share this material with the President or his lawyers will violate longstanding Department of Justice polices, as well as assurances you have provided to us.”

The letter then demands that the agencies brief the Gang of Eight before releasing the materials “to anyone at the White House.”

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Trump Weighs In On The Single Worst Mistake In American History

Trump hits Bush: Invading Iraq ‘the single worst decision ever made’.

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Via Zerohedge


In a wide ranging interview with The Hill on Tuesday conducted in the Oval Office, President Trump was asked to give his take on the biggest mistake in American history.

Considering just how open-ended a question that is, it’s perhaps surprising that he merely went back less than a couple decades into the Bush presidency, though Trump’s base will certainly welcome it as it hearkens back to his “America First” foreign policy vision of the campaign trail.

“The worst single mistake ever made in the history of our country: going into the Middle East, by President Bush,” the president during his interview with Hill.TV.

“Obama may have gotten them (U.S. soldiers) out wrong, but going in is to me the biggest single mistake made in the history of our country,” he said.

Trump explained the reasoning behind this choice, and why it wasn’t something like the civil war or another defining and devastating event reaching far into American History.

“Because we spent $7 trillion in the Middle East. Now if you wanna fix a window some place they say, ‘oh gee, let’s not do it. Seven trillion, and millions of lives — you know, ‘cause I like to count both sides. Millions of lives,” the president explained.

Some scholars and humanitarian groups estimate that over one million Iraqis were killed in the US invasion and occupation of Iraq starting in 2003. A 2008 Opinion Research Business (ORB) poll, for example, found that approximately 1.03 million people had died as a result of the war.

“To me it’s the worst single mistake made in the history of our country. Civil war you can understand. Civil war, civil war. That’s different. For us to have gone into the Middle East, and that was just, that was a bad day for this country, I will tell you.”

Various estimates on the Iraq war’s cost have put the total taxpayer bill as low as near $2 trillion, but none dispute that it is in the multiple trillions, and estimates will vary widely depending on if veteran care is factored into it.

The comments echo things Trump said on the campaign trail in 2016. For example during one of his first major foreign policy speeches then candidate Trump said, “I will never send our finest into battle unless necessary, and I mean absolutely necessary, and will only do so if we have a plan for victory with a capital V.” And referencing the famous quote of John Quincy Adams, he said during the same speech, “The world must know that we do not go abroad in search of enemies.”

He had previously shocked pundits for being the first Republican nominee for president to trash George W. Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq, and has more recently likened it to “throwing a big fat brick into a hornet’s nest”.

All of this is a hopeful sign considering the extremely heightened and dangerous tensions over Syria this week, and given Trump seems to have vacillated between “bringing the troops home” and getting more involved. On Monday Trump hinted that a decision on the U.S. role in Syria is coming soon.

Commenting on the over 2,000 troops now in Syria ostensibly as part of the “anti-ISIL” coalition campaign, Trump indicated this mission could end soon: “We’re very close to being finished with that job,” he said. He followed with: “And then we’re going to make a determination as to what we’re going to do.”

We consider it a hopeful and a good sign that Trump is possibly revisiting his “America First” foreign policy pledges by identifying the Iraq War as the worst mistake in US history.

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Brett Kavanaugh eleventh hour smear begins to fall apart (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 112.

Alex Christoforou

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US President Trump is urging the woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh to testify and be heard.

Trump said he wants to hear from Christine Blasey Ford, noting that it would be “unfortunate” if she does not testify before a Senate committee. Trump told reporters Wednesday as he left the White House to view hurricane damage in North Carolina…

“If she doesn’t show up, that would be unfortunate.”

“If she shows up and makes a credible showing, that would be very interesting.”

From Trump’s lips to God’s ear…Blasey Ford came out to issue a statement essentially saying that she will not testify to Congress, either in an open or closed door session.

Furthermore it appears that Ford will not even allow Senate investigators to fly to California and obtain her statement from the comfort of her own home (as Senator Grassley has offered to do).

Ford is demanding an FBI investigation into an allegation with no date, time or place attached to it. 

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss the dangerous game of identity politics being played by the establishment, Democrat left, and their mainstream media minions.

The premise that a four decades old accusation is all that is needed to destroy a person’s entire life, threatens to tear down the most basic foundational values adhered to from within the US Constitution, and propel the United States of America towards a fascist state where censorship, citizen surveillance, and evidence free accusations are used to keep the establishment left in power and the American population cowered in fear.

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According to Zerohedge, Democrats’ Hail Mary play to stymie the confirmation of Trump SCOTUS pick Brett Kavanaugh is beginning to fizzle out. As angry Dems demanded that a Monday hearing on the allegations against Kavanaugh be delayed until the FBI has a chance to investigate, turncoat Republicans (on whom the Dems had been depending for votes) instead withdrew their support and fell in line after Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley declared that he would not honor Democrats’ request. Grassley revealed his intention to stand firm late Tuesday after lawyers for Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey, who is claiming that Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her 35 years ago when the two were 17-year-old high school students, said their client wouldn’t be wiling to appear at Monday’s hearing.

According to the HillGrassley said Tuesday that there was “no reason” to delay the hearing now that Republicans have invited both Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, his accuser, to testify publicly. However, while Ford’s attorneys have insisted that their client has taken a polygraph test and “deserves to be heard”, Ford has bizarrely insisted that the FBI should have an opportunity to investigate her claims before she appears before the committee in order to spare her the “trauma” of confronting her alleged assailant.

Ford’s lawyers conveyed her request in the form of a letter sent to the committee, a copy of which was obtained by CNN.

Senator Grassley said he would refuse this request as several Republicans who had appeared to be on the cusp of defecting said they wouldn’t support further delays should Ford prove unwilling to testify.

Via the Hill…

“Republicans extended a hand in good faith. If we don’t hear from both sides on Monday, let’s vote,” said GOP Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), who was one of the first Republicans to call for the Judiciary Committee to hit pause on Kavanaugh’s nomination on Sunday.

GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) told reporters earlier Tuesday that Ford’s lack of response to the committee about testifying was “puzzling.”

And GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, who had threatened to vote against Kavanaugh if Ford wasn’t given the chance to be heard, told CNN that he expected the committee to move on if she doesn’t appear.

“I think we’ll have to move to the markup,” he told CNN. “I hope she does (appear). I think she needs to be heard.”

Via Zerohedge…

Kavanaugh has denied Ford’s allegations and insisted he didn’t attend the party where the physical assault allegedly took place. Patrick Smyth, a fellow former Georgetown Prep student whom Ford alleges was also in attendance during the party issued a statement via his lawyer standing up for Kavanaugh. And in a separate letter to Grassley and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, not only does Smyth repudiate Ford’s allegations, but he adds that he doesn’t remember this party even taking place.

Of course, Feinstein – who admitted last night that she couldn’t say for certain that Ford’s story is entirely truthful – sat on Ford’s allegations for three months before referring them to the FBI and sharing them with other lawmakers (who purportedly “leaked” it to the press). President Trump on Tuesday said that he “feels sorry” for Kavanaugh, adding that he doesn’t want to “play into [Democrats] hands”, presumably by giving them more time to drag out the confirmation process.

“They should have done this a long time ago, three months ago, not now. But they did it now. So I don’t want to play into their hands,” Trump said.

Without the support of their Republican allies, Democrats will lack the votes on the committee to hold up the nomination past Monday. Though bizarrely, Kavanaugh himself hasn’t said yet whether he would or wouldn’t testify, which begs the question: If neither Kavanaugh nor Ford appear at the hearing, what exactly will lawmakers discuss?

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