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Turkey is no longer a US ally

Turkey has made it clear that its interests are linked to those of Russia and Iran, while the US is seen as a common threat that has crossed one big red line, while trampling over many others.

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Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has slammed the United States in one of his most strongly worded statements to-date. After Donald Trump promised Erdogan personally that the US would cease arming Kurdish militants in Syria, Erdogan has stated unambiguously that this is not the case.

Earlier, Erdogan came down hard on apparent US support for the illegal Fethullah Terrorist Organisation as well as stating that the US is making a grave mistake if it proceeds with recognising Jerusalem/Al-Quds as the capital of Israel.

Turkey threatens to cut ties with Israel

Hours ago, he stated the following,

“Trump stated that the arms supplies from the US to the Kurdish Forces would be ceased after the victory against Daesh. However, this process is continuing. In this case, what is the reason for the growing number of military bases [of the US]? We monitor the process and will act in accordance with the situation’s logic… Turkey has no plan regarding the US. But it is obvious the US has a plan in relation to Turkey. In the Syrian north there is a ‘terrorist corridor’… Why are weapons being delivered to the region? Where and against whom will it be used by the US? Against Iran or against Turkey? Or, in case, they are courageous enough, against Russia?”

This statement confirms that as I wrote yesterday evening, Russia’s recent discussions with Kurdish militants have been conducted after and during consultations with Turkey as part of the wider Astana format for Syrian peace.

Moreover, by allowing Russia a “pass”, better defined as a mutual understanding on Moscow’s own attempts to politically pacify the Kurds through cooperation, Turkey has made it clear that Russia is allowed to respectfully intervene in one of its perennial “red lines”, while the US has already crossed and now literally double-crossed this red line, in the form of Donald Trump’s now infamous broken promise to Erdogan.

Turkey now knows that the US is an unreliable partner on many fronts and that a promise from the US President is self-evidently worthless.

Although Turkey is still technically a member of NATO, Erdogan’s statements about the US and its close allies combined with his words of solidarity with both Iran and Russia, confirm that Turkey can no longer reasonably called a US ally. What’s more is that Erdogan’s behaviour at a geo-political level, shows that his interests are not with the United States any longer but are bound for both pragmatic and personal reasons to Turkey’s fellow Eurasian partners.

Furthermore, the fact that Turkey which itself is not welcome in Syria by Damascus, is still telling the US to essentially leave the country or else play by the rules of the Astana Group, shows a level of confidence and indeed righteous anger on Erdogan’s part that has clearly been attained through a Eruasian partnership he believes in.

New Russia-Kurdish agreement is good for Syria and for Turkey

To understand why the proximate timing of Russia’s “agreement” with Syrian Kurds and Erdogan’s harsh statements about the US represent a Rubicon moment in Turkey-US relations, one must understand what Russia has achieved in Syria, in relation to all parties including Ankara and Kurdish militants. This is of course on-top of Turkey’s many other highly serious grievances with the US and its allies in the EU and Tel Aviv.

As I stated in relation to Russia’s recent deal with Syrian Kurds,

“From a military and logistical standpoint, the agreement is meaningless for two reasons. First of all, there is hardly anyone left to fight in Eastern Syria and secondly, because Russia doesn’t require the kind of “security” the Kurdish militas could attempt to provide in the first place.

The agreement therefore is a political one that is cleverly disguised as a military one. Here’s why: 

1. Taking advantage of US “treachery”

When US President Trump promised Turkish President Erdogan that Washington will no longer send arms to Kurdish militias in Syria, many inclining the Turkish Foreign Minister who announced Trump’s promise to the world, had doubts about America’s sincerity. Statements from both US and Kurdish official subsequent to the statement by the Turkish Foreign Minister, have only increased the distrust.

The brief thaw in Turkey-US relations that stemmed from the phone-call, was at best a 48 hour period when quiet scepticism replaced scathing anti-US statements from major Turkish officials, including President Erdogan. That brief re-honeymoon, is now over.

Because Turkey has clearly decided that Donald Trump’s “promise” was at best incomplete and otherwise a total lie, Erdogan has just slammed the USon several fronts from supporting the hated and illegal Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), to exercising arbitrary justice against Turks in US courts, to threatening Turkey over its lawful relations with Iran–and these are just the highlights.

While Turkey feels betrayed by a USA which still arms the Kurds, the Kurds themselves feel betrayed by a US which openly plays fast and loose with an alliance that clearly is one of convenience for the US, rather than one of meaning or purpose.

Because of this, many leftist Kurds have searched their collective memories and remembered a Soviet Union which was generally supportive and a modern Russia that while not supportive of Kurdish ethno-nationalism, has always been restrained (at times surprisingly so) in condemning Kurdish movements whose existences predates the illegal US invasion of Syria.

In summary, the Kurds have learned what all parties in the Middle East have learned: Russia does what it says and the US does not.

2. Russia helping to solve a Turkish problem 

Turkey continues to position its military against Kurdish forces in and around parts of the Idlib and Aleppo Governorates of Syria and Russia has done nothing to stop them. At the same time, Russia has listened to Turkey when Ankara has stated that it is willing to sit with Kurds at the forthcoming peace conference in Sochi, so long as they are not the PKK aligned YPG/PYD.

While the Kurdish forces Russia is speaking to are YPG forces, Russia may well be preparing to “moderate” the Kurds to the satisfaction of both Syria and Turkey who have an nearly identical disdain for the radical group. If Russia can turn elements of the militarily over-rated YPG into a moderate force that can accept a shallow victory instead of a bloodsoaked defeat, this could be a win-win situation for Turkey and Syria, as well as the more sensible elements of the Kurdish insurgency. Russia is willing to host crypto-Takfiri groups at Sochi for the same reason.

Having previously publicly rejected the idea of forming a nation-state after witnessing the crushing of Iraqi Kurds by Iraqi armed forces with the political support of both Iran and Turkey, Syrian Kurds realise that they cannot accomplish radical secessionism alone, while the Trump phone call means that the US could drop Syrian Kurds as easily as Washington dropped Iraqi Kurds, the moment they feel that Kurdish ambitions are not in-line with US ambitions. Furthermore, Kurdish regions of Syria, are generally far beyond the defined lines of Israeli aggression. Therefore, the Zionist allies of the Syrian Kurds are of little practical use, especially in light of Turkey’s rapidly deteriorating relationship with the Israeli regime.

In this sense, Russia’s respectful relationship with Turkey, is a clearer sign to Turkey of Russia’s sincere intentions to balance all sides in regional conflicts, while the US is, in Turkish eyes (which happen to be correct), both dishonest and duplicitous. In this sense, while Turkey will still neutralise some Kurdish militants west of the Euphrates, the Russian agreement with Kurds east of the Euphrates, shows that Russia is using diplomatic tact to help solve a Turkish problem, however much it might temporarily grate Ankara to see a YPG flag beside any partner.

Turkey is neutralising the Kurds on one side, while to the east, Russia is doing the same thing through compromise and accord. The end result is that Syrian Kurds will be less likely to advocate for a radical position, knowing that the may end up with zero support if they insist on such a position. In other words, if the choice is between survival without extremism through Russia or annihilation by facing Turkey without US help, the choice becomes an obvious one, especially if Syrian Kurds are aware of the Iraqi example, which they most certainly are.

3. Pushing the US out of Syria 

One of the Trump administration’s most prominent bogus rationales for illegally maintaining an occupying force in Syria is to “aid the Kurds”. However, the Kurds now know that the US does not have their “interests” at heart as all it took as a phone call from the Turkish President for the US to declare that the Kurds should no longer be armed.

If the US loses the trust of its Kurdish proxies, while Russia gains a trust that was never specially up for grabs, Russia will have in effect, shown that as a partner of Syria and Turkey, it has never made the Kurds a promise it cannot keep, nor has it ever overtly gone against the Kurds, even when its partners have rightly stood up for their own positions which state that Kurdish ethno-nationalism threatens their security.

In this sense. Russia has partly “taken” a US ally by winning their trust through honesty and realism, all the while neutralising a threat to Turkey and Syria, by co-opting moderate elements among Kurds who may be willing to agree that a respectful agreement is better than the combination of working with a deceitful United States on the one side and getting crushed by superior Turkish forces on the other. Syria itself has recently stated that in a post-war environment, it is willing to engage in peaceful discussions with moderate Kurds about their concerns. Russia is paving the way for just such a discussion.

CONCLUSION: 

While Russia is not a Kurdish “ally”, Russia’s rhetorical neutrality in the face of Turkey’s rhetoric on the Kurds and its realism when it comes to handling Kurds may have pacified the extremist elements within Syrian Kurdish groups, set up a road map for satisfying Turkey and Syria’s security fears, and all the while taking advantage of the US exposing its own disloyalty to its most loyal proxies.

Furthermore, as the primary obstacle to a settlement in Syria is now Israeli aggression in south west Syria, it behoves all powers, to consolidate a peace effort in northern Syria, so as to free the Syrian Arab Army to bolster defences near the illegally occupied Golan Heights.

In short, Russia has turned a dirty game into a a compromise in the making, one which doesn’t make grandiose promises, but keeps the promises that are made”.

The Kurdish issue is a red line for Turkey and this would be as true for the opposition CHP as it is for Erdogan. The fact that Turkey has not criticised Russia for its discussions with Kurds, but criticises the US for its relationship with its Kurdish proxies as well as for a host of other very crucial issues, demonstrates where Turkey’s worries lie and where its partners lie.

If Russia can talk with Kurds and remain a partner but the US is publicly ridiculed for arming those Kurds and then lying about it to the Turkish President, the writing is on the wall in respect of an even further Turkish geo-political pivot away from the west.

Turkey has tacitly acknowledged, through Erdogan’s recent remarks, that he sees his country as facing similar threats as those faced by Iran and Russia. It is clear which side of the divide Erdogan places Turkey, beyond any reasonable doubt.

 

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Understanding the Holodomor and why Russia says nothing

A descendant of Holodomor victims takes the rest of us to school as to whether or not Russia needs to shoulder the blame.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the charges that nationalist Ukrainians often lodge against their Russian neighbors is that the Russian government has never acknowledged or formally apologized to Ukraine for the “Holodomor” that took place in Ukraine in 1932-1933. This was a man-made famine that killed an estimated seven to 10 million Ukrainians , though higher estimates claim 12.5 million and lower ones now claim 3.3 million.

No matter what the total was, it amounts to a lot of people that starved to death. The charge that modern-day Russia ought to apologize for this event is usually met with silence, which further enrages those Ukrainians that believe that this issue must be resolved by the Russian acknowledgement of responsibility for it. Indeed, the prime charge of these Ukrainians is that the Russians committed a genocide against the Ukrainian people. This is a claim Russia denies.

To the outside observer who does not know this history of Russia and Ukraine’s relationship, and who does not know or understand the characteristics of the Soviet Union, this charge seems as simple and laid out as that of the Native Americans or the blacks demanding some sort of recompense or restitution for the damages inflicted on these societies through conquest and / or slavery. But we discovered someone who had family connections involved in the Holodomor, and who offers her own perspective, which is instructive in why perhaps the Russian Federation does not say anything about this situation.

Scene in Kharkiv with dead from the famine 1932-33 lying along the street.

The speaker is Anna Vinogradova, a Russian Israeli-American, who answered the question through Quora of “Why doesn’t Russia recognize the Holodomor as a genocide?” She openly admits that she speaks only for herself, but her answer is still instructive. We offer it here, with some corrections for the sake of smooth and understandable English:

I can’t speak for Russia and what it does and doesn’t recognize. I can speak for myself.

I am a great-granddaughter of a “Kulak” (кулак), or well-to-do peasant, who lived close to the Russia/Ukraine border.

The word “кулак” means “fist” in Russian, and it wasn’t a good thing for a person to be called by this label. A кулак was an exploiter of peasants and a class enemy of the new state of workers and poor peasants. In other words, while under Communism, to be called a кулак was to bring a death sentence upon yourself.

At some point, every rural class enemy, every peasant who wasn’t a member of a collective farm was eliminated one way or another.

Because Ukraine has very fertile land and the Ukrainian style of agriculture often favors individual farms as opposed to villages, there is no question that many, many Ukrainian peasants were considered class enemies like my great grandfather, and eliminated in class warfare.

I have no doubt that class warfare included starvation, among other things.

The catch? My great grandfather was an ethnic Russian living in Russia. What nationality were the communists who persecuted and eventually shot him? They were of every nationality there was (in the Soviet Union), and they were led by a Ukrainian, who was taking orders from a Georgian.

Now, tell me, why I, a descendant of an unjustly killed Russian peasant, need to apologize to the descendants of the Ukrainians who killed him on the orders of a Georgian?

What about the Russian, Kazakh golodomor (Russian rendering of the same famine)? What about the butchers, who came from all ethnicities? Can someone explain why it’s only okay to talk about Ukrainian victims and Russian persecutors? Why do we need to rewrite history decades later to convert that brutal class war into an ethnic war that it wasn’t?

Ethnic warfare did not start in Russia until after WWII, when some ethnicities were accused of collaboration with the Nazis and brutal group punishments were implemented. It was all based on class up to that time.

The communists of those years were fanatically internationalist. “Working people of all countries, unite!” was their slogan and they were fanatical about it.

As for the crimes of Communism, Russia has been healing this wound for decades, and Russia’s government has made its anticommunist position very clear.

This testimony is most instructive. First, it points out information that the charge of the Holodomor as “genocide!” neatly leaves out. In identifying the internationalist aspects of the Soviet Union, Ukraine further was not a country identified as somehow worthy of genocidal actions. Such a thought makes no sense, especially given the great importance of Ukraine as the “breadbasket” of the Soviet Union, which it was.

Secondly, it shows a very western-style of “divide to conquer” with a conveniently incendiary single-word propaganda tool that is no doubt able to excite any Ukrainian who may be neutral to slightly disaffected about Russia, and then after that, all Ukrainians are now victims of the mighty evil overlords in Moscow.

How convenient is this when the evil overlords in Kyiv don’t want their citizens to know what they are doing?

We saw this on Saturday – taken to a very high peak when President Petro Poroshenko announced the new leading “Hierarch” of the “Ukrainian National Church” and said not one single word about Christ, but only:

“This day will go down in history as the day of the creation of an autocephalous Orthodox church in Ukraine… This is the day of the creation of the church as an independent structure… What is this church? It is a church without Putin. It is a church without Kirill, without prayer for the Russian authorities and the Russian army.”

But as long as Russia is made the “problem”, millions of scandalized Ukrainians will not care what this new Church actually does or teaches, which means it is likely to teach just about anything.

Russia had its own Holodomor. The history of the event shows that this was a result of several factors – imposed socialist economics on a deeply individualized form of agrarian capitalism (bad for morale and worse for food production), really inane centralized planning of cropland use, and a governmental structure that really did not exist to serve the governed, but to impose an ideology on people who really were not all that interested in it.

Personal blame might well lay with Stalin, a Georgian, but the biggest source of the famine lay in the structures imposed under communism as a way of economic strategy. This is not Russia’s fault. It is the economic model that failed.

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Mueller Finally Releases Heavily Redacted Key Flynn Memo On Eve Of Sentencing

Alex Christoforou

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Via Zerohedge


Having initially snubbed Judge Emmet Sullivan’s order to release the original 302 report from the Michael Flynn interrogation in January 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally produced the heavily redacted document, just hours before sentencing is due to be handed down.

The memo  – in full below – details then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s interview with FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, and shows Flynn was repeatedly asked about his contacts with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and in each instance, Flynn denied (or did not recall) any such conversations.

The agents had transcripts of Flynn’s phone calls to Russian Ambassador Kislyak, thus showing Flynn to be lying.

Flynn pleaded guilty guilty last December to lying to the FBI agents about those conversations with Kislyak.

The redactions in the document seem oddly placed but otherwise, there is nothing remarkable about the content…

Aside from perhaps Flynn’s incredulity at the media attention…

Flynn is set to be sentenced in that federal court on Tuesday.

Of course, as Christina Laila notes, the real crime is that Flynn was unmasked during his phone calls to Kislyak and his calls were illegally leaked by a senior Obama official to the Washington Post.

*  *  *

Full document below…

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Don’t Laugh : It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself.

Caitlin Johnstone

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Authored by Caitlin Johnstone:


The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health – or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait if Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

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