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The risks of speculation: Turkey’s coup that wasn’t

More than two weeks after Turkey’s dramatic failed coup, what exactly happened remains shrouded in mystery leaving only speculation that has hardened into “fact” in the absence of convincing evidence.

Joe Lauria

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Two main theories have emerged: The first is that this was yet another in a long line of CIA-backed coups. The other is that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan either staged or let the coup happen to give him the opportunity to consolidate his rule through a vicious and ongoing purge of his perceived enemies.

The first theory has now passed into the realm of “fact” because some commentators unquestioningly accept that the CIA tried to remove Erdogan for suddenly seeking to repair relations with Russia, Iran and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Assad is a man Erdogan has squandered substantial political capital trying to overthrow for five years.

This theory asserts the failed coup was a “victory against the U.S. empire” because Erdogan has defied Washington by suddenly moving Turkey into the multipolar camp with a view towards Eurasian union, rather than the European Union.

“Suddenly” is the key word. What led to Erdogan’s apparent about-face? His Syria policy of supporting ISIS and opposing Damascus, Moscow and Teheran completely blew up in his face. He failed to overthrow Assad. Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane damaged Turkey’s economy. ISIS turned on him, attacking Ataturk Airport. He was on the ropes. Erdogan is a supreme survivor. He’ll switch enemies and friends on a dime if need be. He’s proven no loyalty but to himself.

Tactical or Strategic?

For the moment, Erdogan’s shift instead appears to be a short-term, tactical, move, to ensure his survival. Time will tell whether it is also strategic. It’s too early to declare he’s turned his back on the U.S., NATO and the EU and joined the multipolar world. I doubt Moscow, Tehran and Damascus fully trust Erdogan’s overtures as a long-term commitment, willing as they are to feel him out.

The Turkish government, though not Erdogan himself, has blamed the U.S. for the coup. A hardline conservative newspaper that backs Erdogan, Yeni Şafak, has even named U.S. General John F. Campbell as “one of the top figures who organized and managed the soldiers behind the failed coup attempt,” citing “sources close to ongoing legal process” against those arrested for the coup. It said Campbell “managed’ more than $2 billion to pay for the coup through CIA links with UBA Bank in Nigeria.

Without named sources or documentary evidence, which covert operations by their nature rarely yield, it’s easy to blame the CIA. In this case, the speculation rests on two assumptions, the first is the supposed U.S. reaction to Erdogan’s pivot East. But as Phil Giraldi, a former CIA agent stationed in Turkey, has pointed out the coup plotters and other Erdogan opponents hated his Syria policy and would welcome his rapprochement with Assad and a move East.

The coup’s motive may have instead been to stop Erdogan, who sees a Sultan in the mirror, from continuing his march to one-man rule. The coup leaders called themselves the Peace Council, claiming they wanted to restore democracy and overthrow a tyrant who is ruling unconstitutionally. (Erdogan is already ruling as though Turkey has changed to presidential system, though the referendum he wants hasn’t yet been held.)

The “Terrorists”

The second assumption is that Erdogan’s arch-enemy, the Pennsylvania-based imam Fethullah Gülen who Erdogan blames for masterminding the coup, is a CIA asset running a “terrorist” organization. Erdogan calls anyone who disagrees with him a “terrorist”: academics, journalists, Kurdish members of the Turkish parliament. I’m surprised he hasn’t called Pope Francis a terrorist for calling Armenia a genocide.

The only evidence offered connecting Gülen with the CIA is a letter written by Graham Fuller, a former CIA agent once posted in Turkey, in support of Gülen’s 2006 U.S. green card application. Fuller himself has condemned the coup and his blog is often highly critical of U.S. Middle East policy.

Gülen communicates daily to his followers around the world in sermons viewed over the internet. These as well as his other communications must be monitored by the Turkish government. Evidence that would stand up in a U.S. court of Gülen ordering the coup is what Washington would need in Erdogan’s frantic extradition request for Gülen. The quality of that evidence could determine whether Gülen was behind the coup. Of course, if you already believe the CIA did it, you won’t believe what a U.S. court says.

Even without proof, it can’t be ruled out that military men inspired by Gülen may have been involved (with secular Kemalists). But Gülenists have been more numerous in the police than the military.

I was the first American reporter to interview Gülen, when I visited him in his Pennsylvania compound in 2010. I’ve studied the group the past six years, getting to know dozens of his followers, visiting schools in the U.S, Turkey and elsewhere. In my research, I have been on the inside living with his followers while teaching English at one of the schools. Religion is not taught. It is not in the curriculum. The idea that these are jihadist madrases, or that Gülenists are extremists or terrorists is beyond absurd as anyone who knows them will attest. One such person is John Esposito of Georgetown University, one of America’s leading experts on Islam. In this video interview, Esposito calls Gülen’s a “pluralistic” movement “unique” to Islam.

Though I disagree with Gülen on certain things, notably his lack of criticism of Israeli treatment of Palestinians, it is ludicrous to accept Erdogan’s branding of his followers as terrorists. The Gülenists have no political party. It is a social movement that does however seek to influence Turkey’s political direction. They were almost certainly behind the leaked audio of Erdogan telephone calls exposing his corruption in a real estate deal. The New York Times reported that my interview with Gülen, in which he took Israel’s side in the Mavi Marmara incident, led to the first open breech in the uneasy alliance between Gülen and Erdogan. The leaked telephone calls were the last straw. Erdogan fired and arrested policemen and judges who dared investigate the corruption allegations.

In response to the coup attempt, Erdogan has shut down every Gülen-affiliated institution in Turkey by decree, including thousands of schools, foundations and charities. He finished the job of shutting down all of its media properties.

“A Gift From God”

In all, 60,000 people in the military, civil service, judiciary and academia, who couldn’t possibly have all been involved with the coup, have either lost their jobs or been arrested in Erdogan’s ruthless retaliation. Amnesty International says some have been tortured. Worse for the coup plotters, their gambit has fortified his mounting absolute rule, which brings us to the other theory: that Erdogan either staged or allowed the coup to happen. Gülen himself alleges it was staged. His followers name an Erdogan-loyal general, Mehmet Disli, who they claim gave the order to start the coup.

Because Erdogan knew of the coup hours before, there is a stronger possibility that he let it happen to smoke out disloyal officers, confident his handpicked brass would crush it. They may have played along with the coup and then double-crossed the coup leaders once it was underway. It would be a seriously amateurish attempt to go ahead without the consent of the top military leadership.

Erdogan seized the chance the coup afforded him, which he himself called “a gift from God,” to solidify his rule over Turkey like a Gulf monarch, while accruing international support and even sympathy.

Erdogan’s Rise to Power

At this point we need to step back a moment and look at Erdogan’s slow rise to power and how he took control of a hostile, secular military. Erdogan deceived plenty of people in Turkey, but especially in the West. He was seen as the leader of a model Islamic democracy who would put the military under civilian control.

Erdogan’s AKP party is essentially part of the Muslim Brotherhood. Mohammad Morsi named his Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood party after Erdogan’s—The Justice and Development Party. The Brotherhood’s strategy is to gain power through elections and then gradually implement an Islamist agenda, as opposed to attempting to seize power violently like al-Qaeda or the Islamic State—like the Mensheviks, rather than the Bolsheviks.

I took part with a small group of reporters interviewing Erdogan at the United Nations in New York in 2009. At the time his strategy of getting the Turkish military out of politics, in which they had intervened in four coups seemed convincing. He sought to root out the Ergenekon underground network of organized crime, military and intelligence officers in the Turkish Deep State in a move that appeared to be in favor of civilian-led democracy.

But as the Turkish opposition leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the People’s Republican Party (CHP), told me in a one-on-one interview in Washington in 2014, Erdogan arrested the wrong people supposedly involved in the Ergenekon conspiracy. Many innocent people were falsely charged at a time the Gülenists supported the move to get the military out of politics.

In fact Erdogan was cleverly replacing the brass with his own military men and seized control of the Deep State. His actions, especially after the failed coup, show that democracy has not been his motive.

Would the CIA have organized a coup without the support of the top brass? Would the CIA have moved so quickly on what might just be a short-term tactical shift by Erdogan? Were Gülenists involved in the coup or was it Erdogan’s version of the Reichstag fire? These are questions that may never be answered leaving us mired in speculation—a poor substitute for the facts.

Joe Lauria is a freelance journalist who has been published extensively in some the top media outlets over the past 25 years.

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From McCain to Brennan, Deep State soft coup against Trump picks up steam (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 59.

Alex Christoforou

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After Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki, the Deep State smells blood, and is moving quickly to depose of US President Donald Trump.

Government officials and mainstream media puppets from left and right are condemning the US President over his press conference with Vladimir Putin.

Leading the charge are the usual Deep State, suspects, starting with John McCain and ending with the man many believe is behind the entire Trump-Russia collusion hoax, former Obama CIA boss John Brennan.

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou examine the soft coup aimed at removing US President Trump by the November 2018 midterms. Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via The Independent

Conservative John McCain, who is facing a rare and terminal brain cancer, unleashed a damning statement against Mr Trump’s conference with Mr Putin, describing it as “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory”.

“President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin,” he said.

“It is tempting to describe the press conference as a pathetic rout — as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience. But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realise his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbours, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world.”

The conservative senator’s comments arrived after the US president declined to name Russia as the adversary behind coordinated attacks on the 2016 presidential election.

While discussing whether he thought Russia was behind hacks against the 2016 election — as the US intelligence community has determined —the president said: “I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

“Dan Coats [the US Director of National Intelligence] said its Russia. President Putin says its not Russia,” said Mr Trump. “I don’t know why it would be…..I have confidence in both parties. President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

That set off a wave of condemnations from Democrats and Republicans alike.

“President Trump’s press conference with Putin was an embarrassing spectacle,” Bernie Sanders wrote in a tweet. “Rather than make clear that interference in our elections is unacceptable, Trump instead accepted Putin’s denials and cast doubt on the conclusions of our intelligence community. This is not normal.”

Jeff Flake, one of the only frequent Republican critics of Mr Trump in Congress, said the conference was “shameful” in a statement he posted across social media.

“I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression,” he said. “This is shameful.”

Former CIA Director John Brennan released a statement calling for Mr Trump’s impeachment and describing his comments as “treasonous”.

“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanours,'” Mr Brennan wrote on Twitter. “It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”

Elizabeth Warren also slammed the president for failing to hold Mr Putin accountable, writing on Twitter: “Russia interfered in our elections & attacked our democracy. Putin must be held accountable – not rewarded.”

“Disgraceful,” she concluded.

However, Mr Trump’s typical roster of critics weren’t the only legislators rebuking his bizarre denials of US intelligence. Lindsey Graham also criticised Mr Trump’s performance, adding that his denial of US intelligence will “be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves”.

“Missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections,” he said.

The Republican senator added a suggestion to Mr Trump: review the soccer ball Mr Putin gave to him as a gift for “listening devices” and “never allow it in the White House.”

Thomas Pickering, a regarded statesman and the former US ambassador to Russia, told MSNBC that he was in utter disbelief after the press conference was held on Monday.

“It’s a breathtaking denial of something that clearly is so obviously true,” he said. ”it represents the epitome of President Trump’s effort at self-promotion over the notion of defending the national interest of the United States.”

Mark Warner, a Virginia senator, also suggested Mr Trump committed a clear violation of his responsibilities as president.

Mr Trump committed “a breach of his duty to defend our country against its adversaries,” Mr Warner said. ”If the President cannot defend the United States and its interests in public, how can we trust him to stand up for our country in private?”

Meanwhile the latest Deep State leak, via the NYT, claims that US President Trump was told by Obama holdovers that Putin was involved in cyberattacks during the 2016 election. US intelligence told Trump this information days before the inauguration.

Via The Gateway Pundit

The same liberal hacks who illegally leaked this information want Americans to trust them as they continue to destroy this duly elected president.

President Trump on Wednesday told CBS anchor Jeff Glor that he has no confidence in the tainted intelligence by far left hacks Clapper, Brennan and Comey.

And, once again, the timing of this leak is not an accident.

Liberals are outraged that President Trump refused to chest bump Putin in Helsinki.

The deep state leaked this information to pile on the Republican president.

The New York Times reported…

Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.

The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation.

Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed.

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Russia ranks HIGHER than Switzerland in these areas of doing business

Some curious things happened with several businesspeople who attended World Cup events in Russia.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin

One of them was a distinctly renewed interest in doing business inside the country, and another was the realization to what extent perceptions have been tainted by media and political rhetoric directed against any real or imagined nastiness attributed to Russia these days.

These past few weeks have been invaluable, at the very least by affording a clear picture of Russia through which almost all anxiety-ridden preconceptions were illuminated and dispelled. More disturbing was the fact that the several businesspeople I was dealing with were furious. They were livid for being played for fools, and felt victimized by the dismally untrue picture painted about Russia and Russians in their home countries, both by their own politicians and the press.

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Most felt that they have been personally sanctioned by their own countries, betrayed through lack of clear unbiased information enabling them to participate and profit from Russia opportunities these past three growth years in spite of “sanctions”.

The door to doing good business in Russia has been and is open, and has been opening wider year after year. That is not just “highly likely”, but fact. Consistently improving structures, means and methods to conduct business in Russia sustainably, transparently and profitably are now part of the country’s DNA. It is a process, which has been worked on in the west for more than a century, and one, which Russia has only started these past 18 years.

True, there are sanctions, counter-sanctions, and regulations governing them that must be studied carefully. However if you are not a bank or doing business with those persons deemed worthy of being blacklisted by some countries “sanctions list”, in reality there are no obstacles that cannot be positively addressed and legally overcome despite the choir of political nay-sayers.

READ MORE: Russia just dumped $80 BILLION in US debt

The days of quickly turning over Russia opportunities into short-term cash are rapidly fading, they are a throwback to the 1990’s. Today the major and open opportunities are in the areas for Foreign Direct Investments. The nature of FDI is long term to make regularly recurring sustainable returns on investment.

Long term, Russia always was and increasingly confirms that it is a vibrant and attractive market. There is a significant consumer market with spending power, a well-educated workforce, a wealth of resources and the list goes on. The economic obstacles encountered have largely been imposed from without, and not from the dynamics and energies of the Russian economy itself.

Eventually sanctions will end, although the timeline is anyone’s guess. Meanwhile business continues, and any long-term engagement within Russia by establishing a working presence will yield both short and long-term investment rewards. These will only be amplified when the sanctions regimes are removed. In any event, these aspects are long-term investment decisions and one of the criteria in any risk assessment.

For some added perspective, Russia is ranked by the Financial Times as the No.2 country in Europe in terms of capital investments into Europe. It has a 2017 market share of 9% (US$ 15.9 billion) and includes 203 business projects. This is 2% higher than 2016 and better that 2014/2015 when sanctions were imposed.

Another item of perspective is the Country Risk Premium. All investors consider this when calculating the scope for long-term return on investments. What may surprise some is that Russia is no longer ranked as a very high-risk country. For comparisons sake: The risk premium for Germany is zero (no extra risk), the risk premium for Italy is 2.19%, and for Russia, it is 2.54%. When compared to politically popular investment destinations like Ukraine the risk premium is 10.4%  – food for thought. Bottom line is that the risks of investing in Russia are a smidge higher than investing in Italy.

Russia is ranked 35 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings. The ranking of Russia improved to 35 in 2017 from 40 in 2016 and from 124 in 2010. It may also surprise some to learn that as concerns protecting the rights of minority investors, paying taxes, registering property and some other aspects of the World Bank comparisons, Russia comes out better than Switzerland (See: Rankings).

From operational standpoints, establishing an invested presence in Russia does not mean one must adopt Russian managerial methods or practices. The advantages for established foreign companies is that their management culture is readily applied and absorbed by a smart and willing workforce, enabling a seamless integration given the right training and tools.

The trend towards the ultimate globalization of business despite trade wars, tariffs, sanctions and counter-sanctions is clear. The internet of the planet, the blockchain and speed of information exchange makes it so whether we wish it or not. Personally, I hope that political globalization remains stillborn as geopolitics has a historical mandate to tinker with and play havoc with international trade.

Russia occupies a key strategic position between Europe and Asia. The “west” (US/Europe) have long had at times rather turbulent relationships with China. At the same time the Chinese are quite active investors in both the US and Europe, and western companies are often struggling to understand how to deal with China.

The answer to this conundrum is Russia: this is where East and West will ultimately come together with Russia playing a pivotal role in the relations between the west and China. At the end of the day, and taking the strategic long-term economic view, is what both Chinese and Western companies are investing in when they open their activities in Russia.

If long-term commitment and investment in Russia were simply a matter of transferring funds then I would not be bothering with this opinion article. Without a doubt, there are structural issues with investing in Russia. A still evolving and sometimes unclear rule of law, difficulties obtaining finance for investments directed towards Russia, the unique language and culture of business in the country. Nevertheless, companies that have an understanding and vision of global strategy will manage with these issues and have the means to mitigate them.

Money and other invested resources do not and should not play politics; any investment case when evaluated on objective financial criteria will reveal its fit, or lack of, within a company’s global strategic business objectives. The objective criteria for Russia over any long term horizon is both convincing and strong. This has been repeated by all of the businesspeople I have met with these past few weeks. Without doubt we shall see some new companies coming into the Russian market and objectively exploring the gains their playing fair business football here will yield.

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Media meltdown hits stupid levels as Trump and Putin hold first summit (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 58.

Alex Christoforou

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It was, and still remains a media meltdown of epic proportions as that dastardly ‘traitor’ US President Donald Trump decided to meet with that ‘thug’ Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Of course these are the simplistic and moronic epitaphs that are now universally being thrown around on everything from Morning Joe to Fox and Friends.

Mainstream media shills, and even intelligent alternative news political commentators, are all towing the same line, “thug” and “traitor”, while no one has given much thought to the policy and geo-political realities that have brought these two leaders together in Helsinki.

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou provide some real news analysis of the historic Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, without the stupid ‘thug’ and ‘traitor’ monikers carelessly being thrown around by the tools that occupy much of the mainstream media. Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

And if you though that one summit between Putin and Trump was more than enough to send the media into code level red meltdown, POTUS Trump is now hinting (maybe trolling) at a second Putin summit.

Via Zerohedge

And cue another ‘meltdown’ in 3…2…1…

While arguments continue over whether the Helsinki Summit was a success (end of Cold War 2.0) or not (most treasonous president ever), President Trump is convinced “The Summit was a great success,” and hints that there will be a second summit soon, where they will address: “stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more.”

However, we suspect what will ‘trigger’ the liberal media to melt down is his use of the Stalin-esque term “enemy of the people” to describe the Fake News Media once again…

 

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