The Devolution Will be Televised: Kurdistan – End of Ceasefire

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There may be a no-fly zone in force for the border of interest. The editor here has been listening to more testimony that watching “action” on the live cameras.




Earlier Today


Posted to YouTube in 2015


Kurdish forces acting as American / western proxies fought and died ejecting Islamic State from Syria. Is the west now to do nothing for them?


Related Online

Bekdil, Burak. “Turkey’s Pyrrhic Victory in Syria”. The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA), October 22, 2019.

Fahim, Kareem. “Russia, Turkey agree to jointly remove Kurdish fighters along Turkey’s border in northern Syria.” The Washington Post, October 22, 2019.

O’Connor, Tom. “Russia and Turkey Present New Deal for Syria After Six Hours of Talks and U.S. Exit.” Newsweek, October 22, 2019.

Stark, Alexandra and Ariel I. Ahram. “How the United States Can Escape the Middle East’s Porxy Wars.” Foreign Policy Research Institute, October 22, 2019.



Now, the whole rationale Trump put forward for the retreat — to get American troops out of the Mideast and “endless wars” — is in doubt.

Rather than leaving the region, the withdrawing troops will deploy in neighboring Iraq to fight the Islamic State group, which could get new life from the Syrian turmoil. Some U.S. forces are still in eastern Syria, helping Kurdish fighters protect oilfields. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday he was discussing keeping them there.

Trump surprised even his own military on the ground when he agreed to remove U.S. soldiers working with Kurdish-led forces near the border in an Oct. 6 phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Three days later, Turkey launched its offensive with heavy bombardment along the border.

https://www.courthousenews.com/america-is-running-away-kurds-pelt-withdrawing-troops/ 10/22/2019

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From Democracy to Despotism – Erdogan Takes Turkey East

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Erdoğan says his demand for a safe zone in Syria is rooted in Turkey’s war against terrorism. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Erdoğan says, is as much a threat as the Islamic State. That is of course nonsense . . . .

Rubin, Michael. “Turkey’s Syria Policy Could Lead to Its Own Destruction.” National Interest, October 21, 2019.


While those both enamored and fearful of power have always played “both sides of the street”, Turkey’s drift from a freely speaking, open, and vibrant democracy to one far from NATO ethics, interests, and values should be clear to the free world. Through the power of President Erdogan’s feudal imagination and thuggery, Turkey has been transformed into a politically absolute polity driven by the narcissism of its leader

Worse for the Turks and even his fans: President Erdogan’s toadying before Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Erdogan may appear strong standing up to the west, which today cannot levy enough sanctions on his project (probably hurting the Turks more than the Turkish President), but how may he appear doing Putin’s bidding while his equally enamored — or captive to Moscow — neighbor, Bashar al-Assad AKA “Bashar the Butcher”, continues destroying and strangling Syria — in Turkey’s direction too — under cover of destroying Sunni Islamists?


When Turkish air power rightly downed two Russian MIGs overflying Turkey’s airspace while refusing communications with Turkish air defense, Erdogan refused apology. And what for? He and his military had done everything right for the purposes of Turkish Defense.

The Su-24 shootdown took place on November 24, 2015.

Eight months later, widely reported on June 27, 2016, Erdogan apologized to Putin.

That has turned out a fair demonstration of Russian “realpolitik” and maddening absolute power.

For those watching — and those who knew the facts — “Sultan Erdogan” may just as well have knelt before “Emperor Putin”.

Perhaps President Erdogan has had some household bills yet to pay, and, beside, has needed a certain supply of energy to heat the house.


I hope the excerpts and videos that follow prove helpful as windows into the love fest developed between Ankara and Moscow.


2014

Posted to YouTube by Erdogan Gönüllüleri (Erdogan Volunteers), October 30, 2014.

The first direct gas pipeline between Russia and Turkey was the Blue Stream, commissioned in 2005. In 2009, Putin proposed a Blue Stream II line parallel to Blue Stream under the Black Sea.[2] The Blue Stream II project did not carry through and the South Stream project took the lead, until it was abandoned in 2014. The TurkStream (then named Turkish Stream) project was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin on 1 December 2014, during his state visit to Turkey.[1]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TurkStream

Related Online

Kenyon, Peter. “Turkey’s President And His 1,100 Room ‘White Palace'”. NPR, December 24, 2014.


2015

Posted to YouTube by Channel 4 News, November 24, 2015.

The Russia Defence Ministry denied the aircraft ever left Syrian airspace, counter-claiming that their satellite data showed that the Sukhoi was about 1,000 metres (1,100 yd) inside Syrian airspace when it was shot down.[5] The U.S. State Department said that the U.S. independently confirmed that the aircraft’s flight path violated Turkish territory, and that the Turks gave multiple warnings to the pilot, to which they received no response and released audio recordings of the warnings they had broadcast.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Russian_Sukhoi_Su-24_shootdown

Moscow’s Grand Mosque Dedication – Published to YouTube by RT, September 23, 2015.

2016

MOSCOW — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan apologized Monday for the downing of a Russian warplane in November and called for Russia and Turkey to mend a bilateral relationship that has become openly hostile over the incident.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/turkey-apologizes-for-shooting-down-russian-warplane-last-year/2016/06/27/d969e0ea-3c6d-11e6-9e16-4cf01a41decb_story.html – 6/27/2016

2019

Gazprom has started to fill the first branch of the offshore section of the Turkish Stream pipeline with natural gas. This is the final stage of testing the pipeline before putting it into operation later this year . . . .

. . . The first line is intended for the supply of Russian gas to Turkish consumers, the second – for gas supply to the countries of southern and southeast Europe.

https://financialtribune.com/articles/energy/100392/russia-begins-pumping-gas-into-turkish-stream-pipeline – 10/19/2019.

Erdoğan says his demand for a safe zone in Syria is rooted in Turkey’s war against terrorism. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Erdoğan says, is as much a threat as the Islamic State. That is of course nonsense: The SDF formed to fight Al Qaeda affiliates and the Islamic State at a time when Turkey was passively if not actively supporting them. Nor can Turkish officials credibly point to terrorist attacks from Kurdish-governed portions of Syria. Groups that evolved from the PKK are not monoliths: The SDF is progressive and moderate; any visit to the region makes clear that the group does not embrace the PKK’s Cold War-era Marxism. The PKK itself has long sought peace and does not attack civilians. The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) splinter group continues to engage in terrorism, but they are based nowhere near Syria nor do they have any links to the SDF.

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/middle-east-watch/turkeys-syria-policy-could-lead-its-own-destruction-89841 10/21/2019

In a recent article in Foreign Policy, my colleague Steven A. Cook argued that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was playing Washington like a fiddle. With a combination of bluffs, threats, and bluster, Erdogan managed to convince the United States to come up with an arrangement in northeastern Syria to prevent a Turkish invasion—an arrangement that comes at the expense of the Kurds, who have carried the brunt of the fighting against the Islamic State. Whatever one thinks of the Kurds, their determination and sacrifice should be treated as an international public good; they have stopped and destroyed one of the most dangerous and homicidal groups the modern world has known. The Turks by contrast have contributed nothing to this endeavor.

If Erdogan has succeeded in manipulating Washington, however, Russian President Vladimir Putin, in turn, has played him to the hilt.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/09/03/putin-plays-erdogan-like-a-fiddle-syria/ – 9/3/2019.

Related on BackChannels

“Civilizational Narcissism”; “Malignant Narcissism”.

Also Related Online

Abadi, Cameron. “Why is Turkey Fighting Syria’s Kurds?” Foreign Policy (FP), October 17, 2019.

BBC News. “Qatar’s emir ‘gives $500m private jet to Turkey'”. September 17, 2018.


How Homeowner Erdogan Looks Online

Posted to YouTube by James Mac, December 28, 2014 – Primary Source: BBC News, “Erdogan presidential palace – in 60 seconds”, November 6, 2014.

Posted to YouTube by Global News, August 27, 2019.

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Flashback Kurdistan 2016 – Three Videos

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Stephan Mansfield on TEDx Talks and posted to YouTube May 18, 2016.

Bayan Sami Rahman interview with David Rubin of the Rubin Report – posted to YouTube March 21, 2016.

Bayan Sami Rahman interview with David Rubin of the Rubin Report – posted to YouTube March 21, 2016.

Related Online

Leon, Melissa. “Erdogan vows to ‘crush the heads’ of Kurds if they don’t withdraw; both sides trade blame for violating cease-fire.” Fox News, October 19, 2019.

Manson, Katrina. “An ambassador without a country.” Financial Times, September 8, 2017.

Tomlinson, Lucas. “Trump says US troops in Syria to be withdrawn, redeployed in region.” Fox News, October 15, 2019.


Varfolomeeva, Anna and Mahir Zeynalov. “Kurdistan Representative: Sanctions, Threats Don’t Work on Us.” The Globe Post, October 2, 2017.

She said the U.S. and other countries privately acknowledged that Kurdistan has legitimate aspirations and some of them even agreed that Baghdad had pushed the region into a corner leading effectively to a point where it needed to have a referendum. But they also advised the regional Kurdistan government that it was not the right time for independence.

“But when we asked them, ‘well when is the right time?’, there wasn’t an answer.”

https://theglobepost.com/2017/10/02/kurdistan-rahman-independence-threats/ – 10/2/2017.

BackChannels could do with professional intelligence interpretation — and vetting — on this apparently (or so claimed) near live video compilation.

Published to YouTube by “Drone Time” October 19, 2019.

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A Reminder: Antietam National Cemetery

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There’s a lot of meaning packed into the three primary pictures and the cropped detail of “Old Simon” (officially, “Private Soldier Monument”) — and meaning for the greater world if it cares to adopt and defend the humanist best of western concepts and ideals that would win both restatement and setting forth as national purpose in the founding documents of the United States. The national narrative — from the ratifying of the Constitution through to the Civil War and about one-hundred years later our massive Civil Rights Movement and to this day’s extraordinary political and social evolution — has been wholly coherent and remarkably progressive and most human and good.

We keep old photographs for memories and reminders – and old cemeteries, memorials, and historic battlefields and parks for the same purpose.


Related on BackChannels

“Basic Training”.

Related Online

Library of Congress: “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom”.

National Archives: The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, The Bill of Rights, The Emancipation Proclamation.

National Park Service: “Antietam National Cemetery”.


History, Posted to YouTube on June 29, 2016.


AP Archive, posted to YouTube July 21, 2015.

We’ve had such a good spell of peace here in the U.S. that we’re rather cavalier in our lifestyles and opinions. That is what freedom allows and does and is supposed to do (for everyone). However, we may take our condition as a developing and vibrant national culture for granted. It may be helpful — and especially online — to revisit now and then the basics and historical touchstones of the American political dream and the experience of it.


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FTAC: Nascent and Socially Progressing Kurdistan and Putin, Erdogan, (Trump’s) Return to Feudal Authoritarianism and Absolutism

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From the Awesome Conversation (on Facebook)


My general impression has been yours, i.e., PKK fighters accepted some “rebranding” to make their image palatable to the west in their fight for survival against Islamic State. However, here is what the web turned up in related (swift) research:

From January 2019 — https://conflict-backchannels.com/2019/01/02/moscow-as-medusa-with-all-the-snakes-attached/

From June 2019 – https://conflict-backchannels.com/2019/06/25/pkk-a-few-impressions-and-notes-on-the-kurdish-struggle-for-autonomy-and-unification/

The PKK launched with Soviet guidance and support in the late 1970s. Wikipedia nailed it in these two sentences: “The PKK was founded in 1978 in the village of Fis (near Lice) by a group of Kurdish students led by Abdullah Öcalan[19] and in 1979 it made its existence known to the public.[20]The PKK’s ideology was originally a fusion of revolutionary socialism and Kurdish nationalism, seeking the foundation of an independent Communist state in the region, which was to be known as Kurdistan.”

The political tone of the community has been in the direction of “democratic confederalism” — inclusion and input have been part of what nascent “Kurdistan” promoted when it played up the Rojava Experiment.

From the New Internationalist —

“There is no doubt that theirs is a shared ideology, one that has been formulated by their joint leader, Abdullah Öcalan, now in his 21st year of incarceration in a Turkish prison. But the PYD’s organizing principle is democratic confederalism: a system of direct democracy, ecological sustainability and ethnic inclusivity, where women have veto powers on new legislation and share all institutional positions with men.”

Within the short time since forming Rojava’s democratic experiment, child marriage, forced marriage, dowry and polygamy were banned; honour killings, violence and discrimination against women were criminalized. It is the only part of Syria where sharia councils have been abolished and religion has been consigned to the private sphere.”

https://newint.org/features/2019/10/11/assault-rojava

American moderates and progressives would recognize the development of a social democracy — not unlike what we in fact of evolved into, i.e., a modern place with modern laws and cares. That would seem what the Trump Administration has chosen to abandon with a few teary-eyed remarks about America’s soldiery and his (narcissistic paranoid) bent toward American isolationism (after the United States leading the development and defense of democracy in the world since the end of WWII).

Opposed by the PKK and part of the character of Kurdish political incoherence: the Kurdish Democratic Party —

“The KDP has been described as a tribal, feudalistic, and aristocratic party which is controlled by the Barzani tribe.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurdistan_Democratic_Party

Has North America and Europe the wish to return to systems in which feudal authority commits crimes and invents policy beyond the questioning of the ordinary citizen?

By leaving the field to Putin and Erdogan and being himself autocratic in character, President Trump has suggested an answer to that question.


Note: The author edits and improves on the first off-the-cuff remarks in related threaded conversation on the way to posting the same or very similar on this blog.

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FTAC: Repaired Russo-Turkish Fault Line May Strengthen the East Against the West

The great squawk raised against President Trump’s pull-out from Syria after the seemingly finished business of removing ISIS as an area-controlling power in the region may be assuaged by a few cogent and brief observations.

From the Awesome Conversation (on Facebook) —


  1. The Kurds have not been a unified political community.
  2. The PKK is another of the late 1970s-style “liberation” organizations set up by then Communist Moscow.
  3. The regional “balance of power” has included Russian-Turkish animus (for a long time), so a return to that geopolitical fault line may make some historic sense; however, the two former empires appear at present embraced over energy, warm with each the other’s politically absolute character, and cold to the liberal democracies and associated values of the west.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia%E2%80%93Turkey_relations

http://www.gazpromexport.ru/en/projects/

https://conflict-backchannels.com/2019/10/13/syria-kurdistan-turkey-ceding-american-influence-in-kurdish-syria-and-permitting-isis-resurgence/


In the “Medieval v Modern” framework often mentioned on BackChannels, arrangements between Russia and Turkey suit the Forward-to-the-Past! ambitions of Presidents Putin and Erdogan (and perhaps Trump as well). Ah, well, the past from the present may seem both a bloodier but also more simple day, so that much more suited to the simple minded among leaders. Be that as it may, the PKK’s historic relationship with Moscow may now bring the Kurdish liberation element into renewed contact with the producers of the”KGB Theater” that brought the murderous Islamic State to their doorstep in the first place.



Putin’s Russia has proven itself a deeply destructive and inhumane force in Syria, one that has encouraged a tyrant to bomb and depopulate substantial portions of his own state, and one that has itself repeatedly bombed hospitals into ruin. Call it “Real Estate Acquisition and Development — Moscow Style”. May such a center of power as Moscow now find the Kurds and the PKK inconvenient?

As captive but perhaps (under the new circumstance) uncontainable ISIS elements melt back into the region (how many may it take to rebuild the movement or otherwise influence the politics of the region?), the perpetuation of conflict may seem to suit the greater “eastern” powers, one of which appears to enjoy the development and suspension of “frozen conflicts”.

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Syria -> Kurdistan <- Turkey — Ceding American Influence in Kurdish Syria and Permitting ISIS Resurgence

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Copy “CNN’s Clarissa Ward gained access to a USA base in Rojava, northern Syria” posted by YT channel “Crimes Against Kurds in Rojava Syria”, October 13, 2019.

CNN, “Fleeing civilians tell CNN they don’t know where to go as Turkey attacks”, October 10, 2019.

At least 750 people with suspected links to Islamic State have reportedly fled a displacement camp in north-east Syria, local officials have said, raising fears that the Turkish offensive against Kurdish forces in the area could lead Isis to regain strength amid the chaos.

The news came at the same time the US ordered all 1,000 US troops to withdraw “as safely and quickly as possible” from the region after learning that the Turkish operation was likely to extend further than Ankara’s proposed 20-mile (32km) “safe zone” on the border between the two countries.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/13/kurds-say-785-isis-affiliates-have-escaped-camp-after-turkish-shelling – 10/13/2019.

A telling video clip from about four years ago:

RT, “Putin, Abbas, Erdogan attend Moscow Grand Mosque opening ceremony.” Posted to YouTube on September 23, 2015.

Does the reader perhaps get the picture?

Yesterday’s “East-West Rivalry” had been framed as “Communism v Capitalism”, and at noon on December 25, 1991, the Soviet, which had been booted out of Afghanistan two years earlier, quietly folded its government. The Russian tricolor would be seen flying above the Kremlin the next morning. However, the Cold War Era appears to have ended only to be replaced (with a little bit of time) with Russia stating its bid to reestablish feudal absolute power and medieval thought as premier throughout EU / NATO.

In this blog’s opinion, Turkey fell first.

About six months after downing two MIGs overflying Turkish territory without permit, Erdogan relented in apologizing to Putin over the matter — and next thing you know, the “Turkish Stream” energy project, a matter of Russo-Turkish cooperation, was back in business.

For additional and perhaps “deep” background on how Russia has advanced its feudal agenda against the west, BackChannels recommends its post on “Reflexive Control” while noting that it has been today’s post-Soviet Moscow feeding arms and materiel (and doubtless misguidance) to the Taliban.


The PKK knows Moscow from the Soviet days, a drift that may be caught from Abdullah Ocalan’s writings, but times have changed, and for Russia’s elites — or just the most elite of them all, President Putin — Communism has been “out” for a while and replaced by MONEY as the most popular cause for existence.


Could President Trump have brokered a deal from Turkey to cease its aggression — and give up its culturally and politically genocidal ambitions long associated with its posture toward the Kurds? Such an agreement would have removed from the PKK and related active “Freedom Falcons” their cause for existence as Kurdish defense elements and U.S. State Department listed terrorist organizations.

Perhaps.


As regards recognition of Kurdish autonomy, Kurdish political incoherence has been perhaps the greatest challenge or “stumbling block” faced by the community. As one associate said to BC, “The KDP and PKK hate each other.”

The removal of western “assets” from the area now experiencing assault on the part of a powerful Turkish military has made way for the slaughter of noncombatants by the kind of leaders who love their own image — and wish to buff it up with “heroic” images from wars in part fashioned to that effect — without benefit of conscience and any associated internal boundaries or breaks.

The other motivation for Moscow’s enthusiasm for feudal perpetual war and any number of “frozen conflicts”: the plunder of states and the support of transnational crime.

Will Moscow and Syria in support of “old friends” in the PKK now come to the “rescue” of the Syrian Kurdish community from Turkish forces?

Kurdish fighters controlling the region would surrender the border towns of Manbij and Kobane to Damascus in a deal brokered by Russia, several officials said on Sunday night.

Syrian state media said units from President Bashar al-Assad’s army were moving north to “confront Turkish aggression on Syrian territory”. Unconfirmed reports said the deal between the Kurds and the regime would be extended to apply to the entirety of north-east Syria.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/13/kurds-reach-deal-with-damascus-in-face-of-turkish-offensive

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Ecuador Drowns in Chinese Loans, Prior Internal Corruption, and Resulting Unrest and Violence

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An authentic Left / Far Left in Central and South America would place the highest emphasis on integrity in governance and work to produce the planning and engineering that would best fulfill the ideals contained in and signaled by the term “appropriate and sustainable development”. And there would be no need for IMF consideration and related examination. Instead, the “socialists” appear to invariably pursue criminal schemes.


Euronews, October 13, 2019.

President Lenín Moreno ordered the army on to the streets of Ecuador’s capital Quito after a week and a half of protests over fuel prices devolved into violent incidents, with masked protesters attacking a television station, newspaper and the national auditor’s office.

Moreno said the military enforced curfew would begin at 3pm local time in response to violence in areas previously untouched by the protests. Masked protesters broke into the national auditor’s office and set it ablaze, sending black smoke billowing across the central Quito park and cultural complex that have been the epicentre of the protests.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/13/army-deployed-in-ecuador-as-protests-descend-into-violence

October 2, 2019

The reforms announced yesterday by President Lenin Moreno aim to improve the resilience and sustainability of Ecuador’s economy and foster strong, and inclusive growth. The announcement included important measures to protect the poor and most vulnerable, as well as to generate jobs in a more competitive economy.

https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2019/10/02/pr19362-ecuador-imf-statement-on-ecuador

Socialist Ecuador borrowed far beyond its means for years, predictably arriving at the doorstep of the IMF to address its debt situation. Just as predictably, the government and IMF took aim at cause — petrol subsidies — without the informational or structural preparation of the state. And whaddayaknow — calls for revolutionary action spilling into violence in the streets.

Mix in nominal “Communism”, the political cover for some of the most labor exploiting, imperialist, and wealthiest elites on earth.


Reporting from Quito, Ecuador, LAT, 2018 — 

Rafael Correa wanted to fast-track development projects when he was president of Ecuador, so he borrowed billions of dollars from China. But the loans have come back to haunt his successor, Lenin Moreno, who will go hat in hand to China this month to seek more flexible terms and breathing space.

A onetime ally and now bitter enemy of Correa, Moreno and his government are straining under a huge budget deficit caused partly by obligations to the Chinese, whose loans financed roads, dams, schools and office buildings during Correa’s time in office from 2007 to 2017.

https://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-ecuador-loans-china-20181210-story.html

Read the rest of the LAT piece — no bid contracts; corrupt construction practices; an authentically pricey dam project now operating at half its capacity for the discovery of crack following the execution of the work:

The report also said the Chinese contractor ignored a stipulation of the construction contract, that the dam be built according to rigid standards set by the American Society Of Mechanical Engineers. “The Chinese used bad-quality steel and fired inspectors who said to change it, “ said ex-minister Santos.

https://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-ecuador-loans-china-20181210-story.html

And yet Ecuador’s Left will characterize its current and responsible leadership as “imperialist and fascist” while the true imperialist fascists — the Chinese government and its industrial sector — get away with murderous theft, promising much, delivering much less, and provoking Ecuador’s poor — whom the Left claims to defend! — into greater desperation and the kind of actions that come of deeply misdirected anger, perceived political impotence, and true theft — socialist theft — from the People.


The net is tightening around former Ecuador president Rafael Correa after a new order for his arrest, underscoring the country’s determination to bring the once-popular leader to justice, along with his closest political allies.

https://www.insightcrime.org/news/analysis/rafael-correa-absence-ecuador-closest-allies/ – 9/29/2019

An authentic Left / Far Left in Central and South America would place the highest emphasis on integrity in governance and work to produce the planning and engineering that would best fulfill the ideals contained in and signaled by the term “appropriate and sustainable development”. And there would be no need for IMF consideration and related examination. Instead, the “socialists” appear to invariably pursue criminal schemes.

From the same InSight Crime article cited: “This time, Ecuador’s Attorney General Diana Salazar has accused the former president of being behind a bribery scheme, which she described as a “well-structured criminal organization that received payments from government contractors,” according to a report by Ecuavisa.”

Ecuador’s latest request to add former president Rafael Correa to the INTERPOL roster of wanted criminals seems predictable too in light of the character of political life in the now debt-burdened and protest and violence-ridden state.


Ecuador’s violence — the bitter fruit of unchecked borrowing and state-level corruption and criminality. RT’s less incendiary title for the clip: “Protesters clash with police, set govt building on fire in Quito, Ecuador.” If the scene resembles those coming off the streets of so-called “liberation movement”, it may be because the same people instigated the violence.

Related Online: “Quito protests: Ecuador riot officer hit with petrol bomb.” Sky News, October 13, 2019.

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