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Turkey and Iraq going to war?

The US plays a difficult and complex game as it tries to manipulate Turkish President Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman ambitions whilst pursuing its own geopolitical objectives in Iraq and Syria.

Joe Lauria

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As Turkey mobilises fresh troops on the Iraqi border, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has warned that an invasion of his country will mean war. “Turkey and its forces will be damaged and we warn them again, if their troops enter Iraq we will fight them and we will look at them and treat them as the enemy,” he said. 

Turkey has threatened to take part in the U.S.-led military operation to liberate Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, with troops it already illegally has deployed in the country. The new invasion would be to take further Iraqi territory.

“If we engage in war with them, the Turks will pay a heavy price, they will be damaged,” al-Abadi vowed to reporters in Baghdad last Tuesday.  “We warn Turkey if they want to enter Iraq, they will end up becoming fragmented,” because Turkey is “not a country to able to fight outside their borders.” Turkey invaded Cyprus 50 years ago, he said. “but Iraq is not Cyprus.”

The silence from Washington is deafening. As corporate media depends on official U.S. sources, it too is silent on this new crisis. Are the hawks in Washington exploiting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s neo-Ottoman dreams of capturing former imperial Turkish territory in Iraq (and Syria) to covertly achieve U.S. objectives?  Could this plan go horribly wrong if two of their major regional allies go to war?

Since American officials rarely explain fully what they are up to in the Middle East, beyond slogans like “Fighting ISIS” and “The War on Terror”, understanding U.S. policy in the region is reduced to educated guesses based on official and leaked statements and assessments of complex developments on the ground.

For instance, U.S. officials are backing Syrian Kurds, not Turkey, in the operation launched Sunday to take Raqqa, the ISIS capital in Syria.  Less than two weeks ago Erdoğan proclaimed that during its invasion of Syria Turkey “will go towards Raqqah.” In the last debate, Clinton said the U.S.-led operation to liberate Mosul should continue to Raqqah. Now it has. But she didn’t provide any details.

Events on the ground indicate Washington has two policies: one public and the other hidden. (Just as Clinton in general advocated for in one of her paid speeches.)  Publicly the U.S. opposes Turkish military intervention in Raqqa and Mosul, while privately it is effectively riding Erdoğan’s outsized ambitions to let Turkish NATO troops create Hillary Clinton’s desired safe area.  This is on territory taken mostly from ISIS that could eventually stretch from northeast Syria into western Iraq.

There is abundant evidence that Turkey has supported ISIS from its inception. If Erdoğan is now fighting the terrorist group it may well be because he wants something like the Caliphate for himself, bringing it back to Turkey, which abolished it in 1924. And that just might fit into U.S. plans—which Obama has already allowed to be catered to Clinton’s.

“The goal here is to take back Mosul,” she said at the last debate, “… and then continue to press into Syria to begin to take back and move on Raqqah.”

A safe area in eastern Syria stretching to western Iraq could implement the so-called Plan B:  dividing Syria to weaken it, while also creating a “Sunnistan” corridor for the gas pipeline from Qatar through the Iraq/Syria border area to Turkey and on to Europe. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rejected a Qatar pipeline through Syrian territory in 2009. Some analysts think that spurred the Gulf-backed insurgency to overthrow him.  Settling for Plan B, or partition, would be an admission that Plan A, regime change, had failed.

There might also be another crucial task for Turkey on behalf of Washington’s hawks in both Syria and Iraq. Erdoğan may well target the Shia Turkmen Tal Afar area in Iraq.  The Shia-led Iraqi government wants to get it under central government control to possibly open a corridor from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon—a corridor Clinton has vowed to close. Turkey could also cut this passage in northern Syria.

Is the U.S. allowing Turkish troops to create these facts on the ground?  It’s impossible to know for sure because of the lack of transparency coming out of Washington. But in this scenario Erdoğan gets to control Syrian Kurdish areas and possibly parts of Iraq, satisfying his neo-Ottoman fantasies, while Clinton gets her safe area with NATO troops, but without deploying U.S. soldiers on the ground.

Erdoğan’s Dreams of Ottoman Glory 

After Russia’s September 2015 intervention in the Syrian war seriously turned back the jihadists’ advances, their principal backers, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, became so alarmed that in  In February they demanded the U.S. allow them to invade Syria. It was a momentous decision for Obama.  Would he risk war with Russia to save another regime change?

U.S. Defence Secretary Ash Carter “welcomed” the Saudi-Turk plan to launch an invasion by air from Turkey’s Incirlik NATO air base, and by land through the wastelands of Jordan or western Iraq. The Saudis staged a 30,000-man invasion war game in the desert. In the end Obama stood for reason and stopped it.

But in July an attempted coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was crushed. He seized the opportunity to eliminate almost all opposition to his nearly complete one-man rule. By late August Erdoğan was ready to make his move with no one left in Turkey to oppose him.

On August 24, with U.S. air cover, Turkey invaded Syria. This time Obama did not stop him. Washington clearly approved as its planes protected Turkish tanks and infantry rolling across the border. Vice President Joe Biden was in Ankara a day before the invasion.

The pretext was to fight ISIS, but it became clear immediately that Turkey’s main target is the Syrian Kurds—one of ISIS’ toughest foes on the ground. The U.S. protested, but Washington surely knew what Turkey’s intentions were.   

The date of August 24, 2016 is significant. Exactly 500 years to the day, on August 24,1516, the Ottomans left Turkey to begin their empire by invading their first country—Syria.

This is hardly a coincidence when one considers Erdoğan’s history. He spurred a violent police crackdown in Istanbul’s Gezi Park in 2013 on demonstrators against his plan to build a replica of an Ottoman barracks in the park. In April, Erdoğan named a new bridge over the Bosphorus after Osman, founder of the Ottoman Empire. 

Turkish-backed rebels took the Syrian town of Dabiq from ISIS on Oct. 16. It was victory there in 1516 that established the Ottoman Empire.

The Safe Area

Hillary Clinton has been pushing for a no-fly zone and a safe area in Syria since she ran the State Department.  She has called for both as recently as the last presidential debate, despite the inherent dangers of confronting Russia. 

The safe area is supposed to shelter internally displaced Syrians to prevent them from becoming refugees. But it could also be used as a staging ground to train and quip jihadists intent on regime change, as was employed in Libya. A safe area would need ground troops to protect it. Clinton says there will be no US ground troops in Syria.

Turkey has also been clamouring for a safe area on the ground for the past few years. Erdoğan called for it (as well as a no-fly zone in northern Syria) as recently as last September in his address to the U.N. General Assembly.

The hawks appear to have bested Obama this time. He has not stood in the way of Clinton-allies in his administration letting Erdoğan pursue his neo-Ottoman fantasy (even fighting U.S.-backed Kurds) in exchange for Turkish NATO forces establishing a safe area without U.S. ground troops. Turkey and its rebel forces already control about 490 square miles in northern Syria.

Turkey and Iraq on the Boil

In early October Erdoğan began his war of words with Iraqi prime minister al-Abadi about 1,000 Turkish troops based at Bashiqa, around 10 kilometers from Mosul.  Iraq has been insisting the troops leave the country for months.

With the operation to liberate Iraq’s second-largest city about to begin last month it was clear to me that Erdoğan would threaten to take Mosul, based on a World War I-era Ottoman claim.

On Oct. 30, 1918 Britain and the Ottomans signed an armistice, but three days later British Lt. Gen. Sir William Marshall invaded Mosul and captured it on November 15. Arguing that they were double-crossed, Turkey continued to claim Mosul despite it being given to British-controlled Baghdad in the Treaties of Sevres (1920) and Lausanne (1923).

A 1926 League of Nations commission sided with Britain, and Turkey reluctantly agreed to its border with Iraq. But revanchists like Erdoğan still don’t buy it. “We did not voluntarily accept the borders of our country,” Erdoğan said on Oct. 27.

He then made no secret of his plans to enter Mosul.  “You are not on my level,’ Erdoğan told al-Abadi. “Know your place! Your screaming and shouting is of no importance to us. You should know that we will do what we want to do,” he said.

Al-Abadi insists that only the Iraqi Army and federal police are allowed inside Mosul. Even the Kurdish peshmerga have agreed to stay out. But Erdoğan continues to claim Mosul and even called for ethnic cleansing of Shia from the city, which had a pre-ISIS population of 2 million.

After American silence, al-Abadi threatened to fly to Washington to demand the U.S. stop Erdoğan.  Officially the U.S. has told Turkey to stand down. But it is not clear how much control Washington has over Ankara in this matter, or whether Erdoğan’s plans fit entirely into the hawks’ agenda.

And this has been the problem whenever the U.S. allows surrogates to think they are pursuing their own agendas in the service of America’s larger one.  One only has to think of the alliances with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in the 1980s, General Noriega in Panama in 1989, and the frankenstein that the Islamic State has become.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the joint-chief-of-staffs, was in Ankara on Sunday meeting Erdoğan. It might well have been a tense meeting with a volatile leader. He said on  Sunday that Turkey is charting an independent course from the West, adding, “I don’t care if Europe calls me a dictator.”

The Americans must allow him to think he is acting independently, but without screwing things up for themselves.  After the meeting the two sides said the U.S. and Turkey would jointly “seize, hold and govern” Raqqa.

In Iraq, the biggest question for Washington is whether the U.S. can keep al-Abadi’s desire for Iraqi sovereignty and Erdoğan’s inner Sultan in check to prevent the two from going to war, while instead doing America’s bidding.

This won’t be easy if the U.S. intends for Turkey to take territory in northern Iraq.  A war between the two U.S. allies could threaten Washington’s aims in the region, whatever they may really be. 

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Wesa F.
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Wesa F.

This would be the perfect war for America, supply both sides for cheap oil, all they need to do is send Soros in and we can have a war that will last until the oil runs out.

Wesa F.
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Wesa F.

Sorry that won’t happen to much going on there for the West.

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Adolf! is that you? Wow you haven’t aged one bit. its been what 71 years now?

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Why did Trump recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory?

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 116.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the reasons behind US President Trump’s sudden recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

Following Trump’s statements as US President, acting Israeli Foreign Minister is saying that Trump will make it official and sign an executive order to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Syrian border territory on Monday.

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Via DW

Israel says White House officials are preparing an official document to codify support for Israel’s sovereignty of the Golan Heights, which will be signed by US President Donald Trump on Monday.

The signing of the decree will be witnessed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during talks with Trump at the White House, Israel’s acting foreign minister, Israel Katz (pictured), said in a Tweet.

“Tomorrow, President Trump, in the presence of PM Netanyahu, will sign a decree recognizing Israel’s sovereignty on the Golan. Israel-US ties are closer than ever,” Katz said.

Israel seized the strategic plateau from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war, subsequently annexing it in 1981 in a move never recognized by the international community.

Trump’s tweet annoys allies

Trump broke with decades of US Middle East policy when he posted a Tweet on Thursday that said it was time to accept Israel’s widely-contested claim to the border territory.

The decision has been criticized by many US allies — Germany, Britain, France and the EU have all said they still consider the Golan Heights to be “occupied” by Israel.

Syria and other states in the region said the recognition, if confirmed, would violate international law.

Netanyahu has long pushed for Washington’s endorsement, and many analysts see Trump’s comments as a campaign gift ahead of Israel’s April 9 election.

In 2017, Trump drew condemnation throughout the Middle East when he recognized the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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Russia Gives US Red Line On Venezuela

Political force is out. Military force is out. Respect international law and Venezuela’s sovereignty. That’s Russia’s eminently reasonable ultimatum to Washington.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


At a high-level meeting in Rome this week, it seems that Russia reiterated a grave warning to the US – Moscow will not tolerate American military intervention to topple the Venezuelan government with whom it is allied.

Meanwhile, back in Washington DC, President Donald Trump was again bragging that the military option was still on the table, in his press conference with Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro. Trump is bluffing or not yet up to speed with being apprised of Russia’s red line.

The meeting in the Italian capital between US “special envoy” on Venezuelan affairs Elliot Abrams and Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov had an air of urgency in its arrangement. The US State Department announced the tête-à-tête only three days beforehand. The two officials also reportedly held their two-hour discussions in a Rome hotel, a venue indicating ad hoc arrangement.

Abrams is no ordinary diplomat. He is a regime-change specialist with a criminal record for sponsoring terrorist operations, specifically the infamous Iran-Contra affair to destabilize Nicaragua during the 1980s. His appointment by President Trump to the “Venezuela file” only underscores the serious intent in Washington for regime change in Caracas. Whether it gets away with that intent is another matter.

Moscow’s interlocutor, Sergei Ryabkov, is known to not mince his words, having earlier castigated Washington for seeking global military domination. He calls a spade a spade, and presumably a criminal a criminal.

The encounter in Rome this week was described as “frank” and “serious” – which is diplomatic code for a blazing exchange. The timing comes at a high-stakes moment, after Venezuela having been thrown into chaos last week from civilian power blackouts that many observers, including the Kremlin, blame on American cyber sabotage. The power grid outage followed a failed attempt by Washington to stage a provocation with the Venezuelan military over humanitarian aid deliveries last month from neighboring Colombia.

The fact that Washington’s efforts to overthrow the elected President Nicolas Maduro have so far floundered, might suggest that the Americans are intensifying their campaign to destabilize the country, with the objective of installing US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido. He declared himself “acting president” in January with Washington’s imprimatur.

Given that the nationwide power blackouts seem to have failed in fomenting a revolt by the civilian population or the military against Maduro, the next option tempting Washington could be the military one.

It seems significant that Washington has recently evacuated its last remaining diplomats from the South American country. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented on the evacuation by saying that having US personnel on the ground “was limiting” Washington’s scope for action. Also, American Airlines reportedly cancelled all its services to Venezuela in the past week. Again, suggesting that the US was considering a military intervention, either directly with its troops or covertly by weaponizing local proxies. The latter certainly falls under Abrams’ purview.

After the Rome meeting, Ryabkov said bluntly: “We assume that Washington treats our priorities seriously, our approach and warnings.”

One of those warnings delivered by Ryabkov is understood to have been that no American military intervention in Venezuela will be tolerated by Moscow.

For his part, Abrams sounded as if he had emerged from the meeting after having been given a severe reprimand. “No, we did not come to a meeting of minds, but I think the talks were positive in the sense that both sides emerged with a better understanding of the other’s views,” he told reporters.

“A better understanding of the other’s views,” means that the American side was given a red line to back off.

The arrogance of the Americans is staggering. Abrams seems, according to US reporting, to have flown to Rome with the expectation of working out with Ryabkov a “transition” or “compromise” on who gets the “title of president” of Venezuela.

That’s what he no doubt meant when he said after the meeting “there was not a meeting of minds”, but rather he got “a better understanding” of Russia’s position.

Washington’s gambit is a replay of Syria. During the eight-year war in that country, the US continually proffered the demand of a “political transition” which at the end would see President Bashar al Assad standing down. By contrast, Russia’s unflinching position on Syria has always been that it’s not up to any external power to decide Syria’s politics. It is a sovereign matter for the Syrian people to determine independently.

Nearly three years after Russia intervened militarily in Syria to salvage the Arab country from a US-backed covert war for regime change, the American side has manifestly given up on its erstwhile imperious demands for “political transition”. The principle of Syrian sovereignty has prevailed, in large part because of Russia’s trenchant defense of its Arab ally.

Likewise, Washington, in its incorrigible arrogance, is getting another lesson from Russia – this time in its own presumed “back yard” of Latin America.

It’s not a question of Russia being inveigled by Washington’s regime-change schemers about who should be president of Venezuela and “how we can manage a transition”. Moscow has reiterated countless times that the legitimate president of Venezuela is Nicolas Maduro whom the people voted for last year by an overwhelming majority in a free and fair election – albeit boycotted by the US-orchestrated opposition.

The framework Washington is attempting to set up of choosing between their desired “interim president” and incumbent Maduro is an entirely spurious one. It is not even worthy to be discussed because it is a gross violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty. Who is Washington to even dare try to impose its false choice?

On Venezuela, Russia is having to remind the criminal American rulers – again – about international law and respect for national sovereignty, as Moscow earlier did with regard to Syria.

And in case Washington gets into a huff and tries the military option, Moscow this week told regime-change henchman Abrams that that’s a red line. If Washington has any sense of rationale left, it will know from its Syria fiasco that Russia has Venezuela’s back covered.

Political force is out. Military force is out. Respect international law and Venezuela’s sovereignty. That’s Russia’s eminently reasonable ultimatum to Washington.

Now, the desperate Americans could still try more sabotage, cyber or financial. But their options are limited, contrary to what Trump thinks.

How the days of American imperialist swagger are numbered. There was a time when it could rampage all over Latin America. Not any more, evidently. Thanks in part to Russia’s global standing and military power.

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With RussiaGate Over Where’s Hillary?

Hillary is the epitome of envy. Envy is the destructive sin of coveting someone else’s life so much they are obsessed with destroying it. It’s the sin of Cain. She envies what Trump has, the Presidency.

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Authored by Tom Luongo:


During most of the RussiaGate investigation against Donald Trump I kept saying that all roads lead to Hillary Clinton.

Anyone with three working brain cells knew this, including ‘Miss’ Maddow, whose tears of disappointment are particularly delicious.

Robert Mueller’s investigation was designed from the beginning to create something out of nothing. It did this admirably.

It was so effective it paralyzed the country for more than two years, just like Europe has been held hostage by Brexit. And all of this because, in the end, the elites I call The Davos Crowd refused to accept that the people no longer believed their lies about the benefits of their neoliberal, globalist agenda.

Hillary Clinton’s ascension to the Presidency was to be their apotheosis along with the Brexit vote. These were meant to lay to rest, once and for all time, the vaguely libertarian notion that people should rule themselves and not be ruled by philosopher kings in some distant land.

Hillary’s failure was enormous. And the RussiaGate gambit to destroy Trump served a laundry list of purposes to cover it:

  1. Undermine his legitimacy before he even takes office.
  2. Accuse him of what Hillary actually did: collude with Russians and Ukrainians to effect the outcome of the election
  3. Paralyze Trump on his foreign policy desires to scale back the Empire
  4. Give aid and comfort to hurting progressives and radicalize them further undermining our political system
  5. Polarize the electorate over the false choice of Trump’s guilt.
  6. Paralyze the Dept. of Justice and Congress so that they would not uncover the massive corruption in the intelligence agencies in the U.S. and the U.K.
  7. Isolate Trump and take away every ally or potential ally he could have by turning them against him through prosecutor overreach.

Hillary should have been thrown to the wolves after she failed. When you fail the people she failed and cost them the money she cost them, you lose more than just your funding. What this tells you is that she has so much dirt on everyone involved, once this thing started everyone went along with it lest she burn them down as well.

Burnin’ Down da House

Hillary is the epitome of envy. Envy is the destructive sin of coveting someone else’s life so much they are obsessed with destroying it. It’s the sin of Cain

She envies what Trump has, the Presidency.

And she was willing to tear it down to keep him from having it no matter how much damage it would do. She’s worse than the Joker from The Dark Knight.

Because while the Joker is unfathomable to someone with a conscience there’s little stopping us from excising him from the community completely., even though Batman refuses.

Hillary hates us for who we are and what we won’t give her. And that animus drove her to blackmail the world while putting on the face of its savior.

And that’s what makes what comes next so obvious to me. RussiaGate was never a sustainable narrative. It was ludicrous from the beginning. And now that it has ended with a whimper there are a lot of angry, confused and scared people out there.

Mueller thought all he had to do was lean on corrupt people and threaten them with everything. They would turn on Trump. He would resign in disgrace from the public outcry.

It didn’t work. In the end Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen and Roger Stone all held their ground or perjured themselves into the whole thing falling apart.

Andrew Weissman’s resignation last month was your tell there was nothing. Mueller would pursue this to the limit of his personal reputation and no further.

Just like so many other politicians.

Vote Your Pocketbook

With respect to Brexit I’ve been convinced that it would come down to reputations.

Would the British MP’s vote against their own personal best interests to do the bidding of the EU?

Would Theresa May eventually realize her historical reputation would be destroyed if she caves to Brussels and betrays Brexit in the end?

Always bet on the fecklessness of politicians. They will always act selfishly when put to the test. While leading RussiaGate, Mueller was always headed here if he couldn’t get someone to betray Trump.

And now his report is in. There are no new indictments. And by doing so he is saving his reputation for the future. And that is your biggest tell that HIllary’s blackmail is now worthless.

They don’t fear her anymore because RussiaGate outed her as the architect. Anything else she has is irrelevant in the face of trying to oust a sitting president from power.

The progressives that were convinced of Trump’s treason are bereft; their false hope stripped away like standing in front of a sandblaster. They will be raw, angry and looking for blood after they get over their denial.

Everyone else who was blackmailed into going along with this lunacy will begin cutting deals to save their skins. The outrage over this will not end. Trump will be President when he stands for re-election.

The Wolves Beckon

The Democrats do not have a chance against him as of right now. When he was caving on everything back in December it looked like he was done. That there was enough meat on the RussiaGate bones to make Nancy Pelosi brave.

Then she backed off on impeachment talk. Oops.

But the Democrats have a sincere problem. Their candidates have no solutions other than to embrace the crazy and go full Bolshevik. That is not a winning position.

Trump will kill them on ‘socialism.’

The Deep State and The Davos Crowd stand revealed and reviled.

If they don’t do something dramatic then the anger from the rest of the country will also be palpable come election time. Justice is not done simply by saying, “No evidence of collusion.”

It’s clear that RussiaGate is a failure of monumental proportions. Heads will have to roll. But who will be willing to fall on their sword at this point?

Comey? No. McCabe? No.

There is only one answer. And Obama’s people are still in place to protect him. I said last fall that “Hillary would indict herself.” And I meant it. Eventually her blackmail and drive to burn it all down led to this moment.

The circumstances are different than I expected back then, Trump didn’t win the mid-terms. But the end result was always the same. If there is no collusion, if RussiaGate is a scam, then all roads lead back to Hillary as the sacrificial lamb.

Because the bigger project, the erection of a transnational superstate, is bigger than any one person. Hillary is expendable.

Lies are expensive to maintain. The truth is cheap to defend. Think of the billions in opportunity costs associated with this. Once the costs rise above the benefits, change happens fast.

If there is any hope of salvaging the center of this country for the Democrats, the ones that voted against Hillary in 2016, then there is no reason anymore not to indict Hillary as the architect of RussiaGate.

We all know it’s the truth. So, the cheapest way out of this mess for them is to give the MAGApedes what they want, Hillary.

And hope that is enough bread and circuses to distract from the real storm ahead of us.

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