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Summing up the Trump-Putin meeting: good bonding; limited progress on Syria, Ukraine and cyber security

Effective Russian diplomacy meant that the first Trump-Putin summit though leading to no breakthroughs made important if limited progress on a number of topics whilst establishing a genuine connection between the two Presidents.

Alexander Mercouris

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The single most important fact about the Trump-Putin meeting is that it went on for 2 hours, four times longer than planned.  What was supposed to be a brief encounter on the sidelines of the G20 summit became a deep and animated conversation the two men didn’t want to end.

This is not wholly unexpected.  The Russians before the meeting had signalled that the meeting would cover the full range of US-Russians relation.  Since it is hardly possible that could be done in a meeting lasting no more than half an hour – especially one conducted through interpreters – they must have anticipated that it would go on for longer.

In addition Putin came to the meeting clearly looking for progress on three specific points, which I suspect the Russians communicated to the US through Secretary of State Tillerson some time before.  These were (1) for a ceasefire in southern Syria; (2) for US involvement in the diplomacy Ukrainian conflict; and (3) for the establishment of a joint cyber security working group.

I do not know for a fact that it was the Russians who instigated the discussion of these three issues, though Tillerson has confirmed that it was they who proposed US involvement in the diplomacy to end the Ukrainian conflict.  It is likely however that they were.  To see why it is necessary to discuss these three issues in detail:

(1) southern Syria ceasefire

The conditions for a ceasefire in southern Syria are now favourable at least in theory, with ISIS driven out of most of southern Syria, and the US base at Al-Tanf effectively cut off by the Syrian army from fighting ISIS and left with nothing therefore to do.

Behind the ceasefire proposal must however be Russian concern about the effect of the recent US ‘warning’ of US action against Syria in the event of a further chemical attack.

No such chemical attack has happened, undoubtedly because the Syrian military never planned one.  However, as many people have been pointing out – including myself, but most especially Russia’s redoubtable foreign ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova – the US ‘warning’ is all but a green light to Al-Qaeda in Syria to stage a ‘false flag’ chemical attack in order to get the US to attack Syria for them.

That is a risk the Russians will be anxious to reduce or head off so far as possible.  Moreover the US military – which as has become clear has no wish to be dragged into a possible shooting war with the Russians in Syria – will share this concern.

The proposed ceasefire in southern Syria appears to be at least in part intended to address this problem.

The most dangerous area of potential conflict between the Syrian army and the US’s Syrian ‘Free Syrian Army’ proxies, and therefore by definition the most likely flashpoint in any future conflict between the US and the Russian military, is southern Syria.  The dangers from a ‘false flag’ chemical attack in this area is therefore especially high.

Though a ‘false flag’ chemical attack in this area can never be ruled out, all the more so as ceasefires in Syria are never fully honoured, some degree of ‘deconfliction’ in this area might reduce this possibility.

Nothing anyway is lost by trying, and from a Russian point of view a ceasefire in this area is desirable anyway, if only because it reduces the danger of the US interfering in the Syrian military’s advance on Deir Ezzor, and allows the Syrian military to concentrate more of its troops on fighting ISIS there.

As for the US, not only is the US military probably as anxious to reduce the risk of a ‘false flag’ attack in this area as the Russians are, but the Syrian advance to the Iraqi border has effectively ended the rationale for the US military being there anyway.

So far as one can tell the US deployment to Al-Tanf was intended to provide a base for an advance by the US’s ‘Free Syrian Army’ proxies from this area into central and eastern Syria, obviously to defeat ISIS there but also to deny this large territory to the Syrian military.  With the US’s Al-Tanf base and the large Jihadi enclave around it now however surrounded by the Syrian army, the US’s ‘Free Syrian Army’ proxies cannot advance north into central and eastern Syria unless the US military is prepared to attack the Syrian military on their behalf.  Since that would certainly lead to a clash with the Russians – something the US military is anxious at all costs to avoid – this plan is no longer workable.

It therefore makes sense for the US to withdraw from this area, using a ceasefire as cover.

To be clear, that does not mean the US is quitting Syria.  It means that the US is giving up on its southern front so that it can better focus on its northern front, where the strong support the US has from its Kurdish allies means that its presence is already much greater.

Both the US and Russia therefore had good reasons to agree to a ceasefire in southern Syria.  It is likely the Russians proposed it – as they have proposed most of the ceasefires in Syria – but the US would had good reasons to agree.

The result is the agreement for a ceasefire in southern Syria that came out of the Trump-Putin meeting.  Since it frees more Syrian troops to fight ISIS and reduces the danger of a clash between the US and Russian militaries in Syria, it is an unequivocally good thing.

(2) US involvement in the Ukrainian conflict

The Russians consider the US largely responsible for the Ukrainian conflict, which they see as caused by a US strategy to separate Ukraine from Russia so as to draw it into NATO.

However from a Russian point of view it now makes sense to involve the US – or perhaps more accurately the Trump administration – in the negotiations to settle the Ukrainian conflict.

Those negotiations are supposed to be based on the Minsk Agreement of February 2015.  The negotiations have however being going nowhere because the Maidan regime in Ukraine is adamantly opposed to implementation of the terms of the Minsk Agreement, which would permanently end its attempt to create a monocultural ethnicist Ukraine distanced as far as possible from Russia and anchored in NATO and Europe.

In his comments about Ukraine made during his press conference at the end of the G20 summit Putin set it all out

The interests of Russia and Ukraine, the interests of the Russian and Ukraine people – and I am fully and profoundly confident of this – coincide. Our interests fully coincide. The only thing that does not coincide is the interests of the current Ukrainian authorities and some of Ukraine’s political circles. If we are to be objective, of course, both Ukraine and Russia are interested in cooperating with each other, joining their competitive advantages and developing their economies just because we have inherited much from the Soviet era – I am speaking about cooperation, the unified infrastructure and the energy industry, transport, and so on.

But regrettably, today our Ukrainian colleagues believe this can be neglected. They have only one ”product“ left – Russophobia, and they are selling it successfully. Another thing they are selling is the policy of dividing Russia and Ukraine and pulling the two peoples and two nations apart. Some in the West like this; they believe that Russia and Ukraine must not be allowed to get closer in any areas. That is why the current Ukrainian authorities are making active and successful efforts to sell this ”product.“

These facts are also well known by all the other parties to the Ukrainian conflict.  The difficulty is that the person who has assumed largely by default the biggest role in the West’s diplomacy to end the conflict – Chancellor Merkel of Germany – is far too publicly committed to supporting the Maidan regime to do anything about it.

The result is that the negotiations are stuck and are going nowhere.

The Obama administration, which was the US administration during whose time the Maidan coup in Ukraine took place, was also publicly committed to supporting the Maidan regime.  Since it was the Obama administration’s top officials – Biden, Nuland and Pyatt – who were responsible for the Maidan coup happening in the first place it could hardly be otherwise.

There was therefore little realistic possibility of the Obama administration ever applying sufficient pressure either on the Maidan regime or on Angela Merkel to have the Minsk Agreement implemented, even though there are some indications that some Obama administration officials lobbied for it.

The Trump administration by contrast comes to the Ukrainian conflict with an essentially clean slate.  Secretary of State Tillerson has openly expressed his skepticism about the value of committing US tax dollars to supporting the Maidan regime in Ukraine, and Donald Trump himself has shown little interest in the issue.  That at least in theory ought to make it easier for the Trump administration to change course.

From the Russian point of view it anyway always makes better sense to talk directly to the organ grinder rather than his monkey, so opening a direct channel to Washington to talk about Ukraine – sidelining Angela Merkel – makes complete sense.

Trump and Tillerson were receptive to the Russian idea, and a US special envoy – Kurt Volker, a US career diplomat brought out of retirement – has been appointed to fulfil this role.  In announcing the appointment Tillerson confirmed that the initiative for it came from the Russians

At the request of President (Vladimir) Putin, the United States has appointed … a special representative for Ukraine, Ambassador Kurt Volker

Though Ukrainian President Poroshenko has welcomed the move (what else can he do?) some ex-Obama officials have already reacted sourly to Tillerson’s admission that the US’s decision to appoint a special envoy for Ukraine was made at Putin’s suggestion

Julie Smith, a former Pentagon official who worked on European and NATO policy during the Obama administration, praised the choice of Volker as Ukraine envoy, but said she was puzzled at Tillerson’s statement that he filled the position at Putin’s request.

“So Ukraine didn’t matter enough to this administration to have them appoint a special envoy in the first place?” said Smith, now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. “It was a bizarre word choice.”

Whether the appointment of a US special envoy for Ukraine really will change anything, and whether it will cause Merkel to be sidelined, remains to be seen.  However it is the first instance I know of when the US has agreed to do something  in relation to the Ukrainian conflict after Russia proposed it.

(3) cybersecurity working group

The Western media has made huge play about the fact that Donald Trump ‘challenged’ Putin over the claims that Russia hacked the DNC’s and John Podesta’s computers during the US election campaign.

Given the pressure Trump is under he had no choice, a fact known to Putin, who would have taken the ‘challenge’ philosophically.

Putin and the Russians have however -and with some skill – sought to move beyond this issue and to turn it as far as they can to their advantage by getting the US to agree to the setting up of a joint working party on cybersecurity.

In his press conference at the end of the G20 summit Putin explained it this way

But what is important is that we have agreed that there should not be any uncertainty in this sphere, especially in the future. By the way, I mentioned at the latest summit session that this directly concerns cyberspace, web resources and so on.

The US President and I have agreed to establish a working group and make joint efforts to monitor security in the cyberspace, ensure full compliance with international laws in this area, and to prevent interference in countries’ internal affairs. Primarily this concerns Russia and the United States. We believe that if we succeed in organising this work – and I have no doubt that we will – there will be no more speculation over this matter.

The background to this is that at as Putin disclosed to Oliver Stone during the Putin Interviews the US has previously refused to discuss cybersecurity with the Russians.

Obviously this was because of US confidence of US superiority in this area.

What Putin and the Russians have done is used the Russiagate allegations – which they deny – to get the US to accept that this is an issue the US also needs to talk about.  As a result the Russians have persuaded the US to agree to something they had previously refused to do: talk about cybersecurity through the setting up of a joint working group to discuss the issue.

This is not the start of a negotiation on a future international cybersecurity treaty governing the use of cyber weapons, something Putin told Oliver Stone the Russians had previously proposed to the US but which the US refused to consider.  However Putin’s words show that the Russians hope it might eventually evolve into something like that.  The point is that from the Russian point of view it is real if only limited progress to have got the US at last talking about this issue.

One particular point that the Russians will undoubtedly have had in mind when they proposed the setting up of this joint working party is the recent confirmation that the Obama administration in the last weeks of its existence ordered the NSA to plant ‘cyber bombs’ in Russia’s infrastructure.

Apparently work on planting these ‘cyber bombs’ is still going on.

The Russians are certain to bring up the question of these ‘cyber bombs’ in the discussions of the joint working party.  It will be interesting to see what the reaction of the US will be.

Summary

The first Trump-Putin summit, with Trump both inexperienced and under severe pressure at home, was never going to be an easy summit.  However it is striking that Russian diplomacy still managed to use this unpromising summit to make progress – however tentative and limited – on three important issues in a way that works towards achieving Russia’s objectives.

The agreements made, though very limited in scope, are still from the Russian point of view useful, whilst the Russians seem to have taken care to pitch their proposals to be within the range of what President Trump could agree to.

As for President Trump, he is to be commended for having accepted these proposals so quickly and so readily.  Doing so was as much in the US’s interests as in Russia’s interests.

This is how diplomacy is done.  Putin and the Russians in Hamburg gave Trump a class in how to do it, and he came out well, far better in my opinion than Barack Obama ever did.  That holds promise for the future.

In all respects this was a far better summit than the US-Chinese summit at Mar-a-Lago, which the Chinese sought too early, and which the inexperienced Trump was unsure how to host.

For the rest, it seems that Trump and Putin genuinely got on with each other.

The most important fact about the summit as I said previously was that it went on for so long.  Usually when a meeting goes over time in this way it is either because there is a row or because those involved discover that they have a lot to talk about and are able to say it to each other.

This summit was clearly of the second sort.  It seems that Melania tried at one point to hurry the two men along, but they preferred to go on talking to each other even if that meant delaying later meetings.

Not surprisingly Trump has referred to the meeting as “tremendous“.  Putin as is his way was more analytical and more detailed

As regards personal relations, I believe that they have been established. This is how I see it: Mr Trump’s television image is very different from the real person; he is a very down to earth and direct person, and he has an absolutely adequate attitude towards the person he is talking with; he analyses things pretty fast and answers the questions he is asked or new ones that arise in the course of the discussion. So I think that if we build our relations in the vein of our yesterday’s meeting, there are good reasons to believe that we will be able to revive, at least partially, the level of interaction that we need.

(bold italics added)

Coming from Putin – the most experienced leader in the world today and an acknowledged master of diplomacy who is known for saying it as it is – the highlighted words are high praise.

In summary this was a genuinely successful summit, producing more of substance than most people expected, and promising well for the future.

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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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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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