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 . . . .
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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 and in 1979 it made its existence known to the public.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.”
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.”
At least 40 civilians attending a wedding party were killed in a raid conducted by Afghan government forces and supported by US airstrikes on a Taliban hideout in southern Helmand province, Afghan officials said Monday.
Abdul Majed Akhund, deputy provincial councilman, said that the majority of the dead were women and children. Twelve civilians were also injured.
The Modern West has had little issue investigating and owning up to its own woeful atrocities, including the accidents it may sanitize with the term “collateral damage”.
In fact, it or the liberal democratic populations represented by EU/NATO and assorted coalitions of the willing, may be too good at wearing the mea culpa shawl of self-shaming, but that’s another matter.
For Afghanistan, and for the most part, the damage done has been much less accomplished by the “collateral damage” of the west than by the deliberate design, decision, and application of violence by the Taliban and similar actors bent on the absolute and comprehensive political and social control of targeted states and their resources.
Using Russian-supplied arms and material, Afghanistan’s Taliban have continued a program of bombings and related attacks designed to destroy Afghani civilians without discrimination, forestall peace, discourage and impede elections, and bring general ruin to local economies and lives while proving themselves handsome, protective, strong, and wise.
. . . .
True: a malign narcissism has a great deal to do with the absolute political and social control sought by the Taliban and so many others who at times conflate themselves with God and the work of God’s will on earth.
The Taliban’s demonstrated and backfiring track record in lunacy — and that of other extremist organizations operating in Afghanistan — may finally be reaching them through the mirroring World Wide Web where high-integrity reportage faithfully conveys the character of consistently cruel, crude, and very nearly mindless violence that will in the end have changed nothing but perhaps themselves.
Most who have followed the Afghanistan story in its greater context will recall the story in which Mullah Omar took revenge on a Russian tank crew and its commander — hung from his own tank barrel — for the rape of local village girls. Omar would flee that heroic ending to raise an army to battle back the Soviet invasion of the state — and America’s CIA would step in with the delivery of shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles to the Mujaheddin for the comparatively cheap killing of the Soviet’s brutal and expensive helicopter gunships.
One may tire — and perhaps should — of the medieval contests between too many “kingdoms of heaven” and the repeated conflations — Christian, Jewish, or Muslim — of men with God (although Judaism has been always adamant about the separation of the Divine from the mortal).
In any case, among my acquaintance, one stands out as expert on “civilizational narcissism” — his term — and the Taliban. Here is his book from 2010 —
It may be said that all were warned but with one element missing: Soviet / post-Soviet Moscow / Moscow-Tehran.
The Soviet / post-Soviet Arc of Tears (Crimea, Syria, Yemen, for a start) hews to and encourages the despotism (“political absolutism”) so far expressed by the Taliban in Afghanistan but also well on display elsewhere in the world where the deepest and most criminal representatives of civilizational and political narcissism have either set themselves or prevailed.
BackChannels suggests the Taliban may have been taken in — duped — by Russia via al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden in the shadow of the Cold War and reshaped for revenge on the west with the intent of sustaining a blind and madding authoritarianism in the world, all the better to plunder it.
President Donald Trump says the U.S.-Taliban talks on ending the fighting in Afghanistan are “dead,” deeply unfortunate wording for the Afghan civilians who have been killed by the tens of thousands over almost 18 years. Many fear his cancellation of negotiations will bring more carnage as the U.S. and Taliban, as well as Afghan forces, step up their offensives and everyday people die in the crossfire.
“We just want to go back to our homes. We don’t ask for much, but this war has made our lives impossible and has torn apart our community.” he says. “We cant go home due to the risk of drones, but after so many years of war, our community is now at war with itself – there doesn’t seem to be any end to bloodshed.”
One could argue that the Taliban is increasingly in a position to outlast the United States and claim a decisive military victory. If today’s Taliban were as cohesive as the Taliban that managed to control Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, that might well be true. But it’s not.
This weekend, Afghanistan will hold its fourth presidential election since the Taliban government’s fall in 2001. Since the U.S. and Taliban’s recent breakdown in negotiations, the Taliban have killed more Afghan civilians than at almost any other point since the beginning of 2018, as you can see in the figure below. The Taliban has killed at least 58 civilians in the last eight days alone.
And that may be about to get worse. In earlier presidential elections, the Taliban has tried not to kill civilians when they go to vote. That may change this weekend.
The U.S. envoy’s team would not elaborate Friday on the nature of the resumed discussions in Doha, but they come after a series of deadly Taliban attacks across Afghanistan. As CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata reports, while the Taliban may be talking peace with the U.S., they’re still waging a brutal war on Afghan soil.
A security camera captured dramatic video of a car bomb attack in Kabul on Thursday. The blast near the U.S. Embassy killed one American service member and another NATO soldier, as well as at least 10 civilians.
KABUL — Iran and Russia have stepped up challenges to U.S. power in Afghanistan, American and Afghan officials say, seizing on the uncertainty of future U.S. policy to expand ties with the Taliban and weaken the country’s Western-backed government.
The moves come as tensions have flared between the United States, Iran and Russia over the conflict in Syria, and officials worry that the fallout could hurt Afghanistan’s chances for peace. For years, Iran and Russia have pushed for a U.S. withdrawal.
I am tired of the people, the area, the district and the province. When I go to Wardak, I feel so tired. But what to do? I have to go there and visit their graves. It is not only one person — it is 12 family members. My four daughters, three sons, my wife, and four cousins. I lost all in one day when my house was bombed by the Americans.
I can never forgive the Taliban, but if the peace deal can stop the bloodshed, I can accept them to the country. I don’t want other families to go through what I have.
“Yes, we have reached an agreement in principle,” Khalilzad said, according to TOLOnews. “Of course, it is not final until the US president (Donald Trump) agrees on it. So, at the moment, we are at that stage.”
News of the agreement comes as violence has spiked in Afghanistan, with the latest attack occurring just hours after Khalilzad’s interview. A car bomb targeted an Afghan police station in the capital Kabul on Monday, in an area close to the heavily fortified compound where many foreign embassies and international organizations are based,
“He became known for his ability to weave through warring tribal factions and his ability to quickly get senior Afghan officials on the phone or to summon them to his office, including President Hamid Karzai,” The New York Times reported during Khalilzad’s stint as ambassador to Afghanistan — the country of his birth — from 2003 to 2005.
Robin Raphel, a former assistant secretary of state for South Asia, says Khalilzad’s appointment is a sign that the Trump administration is getting serious about a political solution to America’s longest war.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special representative for Afghan reconciliation, is on the verge of an agreement with the Taliban that would pave the way for the withdrawal of some 14,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan in exchange for guarantees that the war-wracked nation would not be used as a haven for international terrorism, according to diplomatic sources.
KABUL, Afghanistan — At first, the man was just walking across the street. Then he was running for his life. He managed four steps before the blast from the car bomb caught him.
Since then, the last few seconds of Akbar Fazelyar’s life, captured on video during a Taliban attack on Sept. 5, have become one of the most scrutinized moments in Afghanistan, slowed down and watched frame by frame on countless mobile phones and computer screens.
The vote, the fourth since the Taliban’s removal from power by a United States-led coalition in 2001, comes as heavy fighting between the armed group and government forces has led to a spike in the number of civilians killed.
The Taliban has already threatened to target election rallies and polling stations, while in recent weeks the US-backed Afghan forces have stepped up air and ground attacks, raising fears of further casualties.
Last week alone, more than 150 people were killed, according to Al Jazeera tally, in Taliban attacks, US drone strikes and raids by Afghan government forces.
The air strike was aimed at destroying a hideout used by Islamic State militants, but it accidentally targeted farmers near a field, Afghan officials were quoted as saying.
“On yet another deadly day in Afghanistan, once again it is civilians who bear the brunt of the violence involving armed groups, the Afghan government, and their backers in the U.S. military,” Amnesty International said in statement.
Our principal failure, in my view, was our refusal to deal with Pakistan’s double game. Even the accelerated drone attacks in western Pakistan under the Obama administration, which were somewhat effective in the fight against al Qaeda, failed to a large extent to target the Taliban, the Haqqani Group, or Hezbe Islami.
The United States also signaled a lack of military resolve. The Pentagon made incautious public statements about the reduction of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan. At one point, the combat power of the United States dropped to a single brigade, even as the insurgent threat was rising. The evident lack of U.S. commitment gave Pakistan a green light to step up the Taliban and insurgent offensive in late 2005 and early 2006.
On 17 September 2019, two suicide bombings killed over 48 people in Charikar and Kabul, Afghanistan. The first attack occurred at a rally for presidentAshraf Ghani which killed over 26 and wounded over 42. Ghani was unharmed in the incident. The second bombing occurred in Kabul near the US embassy. In this incident 22 were killed and another 38 were injured in the explosion. Children and women are among the dead and wounded in both attacks, also multiple soldiers were killed. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks, and said they will commit more attacks to discourage people from voting in the upcoming presidential elections.
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would change the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, significantly weakening the nation’s bedrock conservation law and making it harder to protect wildlife from the multiple threats posed by climate change.
The new rules would make it easier to remove a species from the endangered list and weaken protections for threatened species, the classification one step below endangered. And, for the first time, regulators would be allowed to conduct economic assessments — for instance, estimating lost revenue from a prohibition on logging in a critical habitat — when deciding whether a species warrants protection.
From The Awesome Conversation (FTAC) on the Social Network
A constituency at any point in time hasn’t mastery of the future. Our nation has nonetheless extraordinary programs conceived, established, developed by its elected officials who took the long gaze forward to establish principles for generations to come. Should we wish to see the genius of their ideas eroded?
Back in another day, this hoary old American fixture led the way in the conservation and protection of natural resources:
American men who intended that their children’s children and grandchildren would enjoy the same recreations as themselves.
I’m not a “Moscow Progressive”, and regret that the term has been “coinable” since the first era of Company v Labor disputes in which the Party (there really should be just the singular Soviet one referenced that way) and American Mafia figured out how to skim pretty good money from much needed human rights activism and representation, but I am progressive about Foresight and the necessity of changing human behavior as well as the wild earth (that was Yesteryear’s problem) in service to human and natural survival.
Our Founding Fathers designed our System far out ahead of their own positions through the writing of the Constitution. It turns out that America hasn’t been “stuck with Obama” — and it won’t be “stuck with Trump” either: what is will do is incrementally correct itself through the better efforts of the educated and reasoning (God willing).
I think the better position here with Energy and Environmental issues is to encourage what are inherently Progressive American Processes (not that “Mafia and Moscow” stuff that has gotten into the bloodstreams of the nation’s more partisan-to-extreme adults, and so many of them, Left or Right, “Know-Nothings” or “Know-Not-Enoughs”.
I have a couple of Mark (P) Mills pieces now, and he too seems fierce about hurrying ourselves into extinction by doing what we know how to do (minus getting a handful of colonists to Mars and cooperatively “terraforming” it inside of an environmental bubble. The sentimental American Left may be correct as regards both environmental concerns for the generation one-hundred years out: what can be done now in anticipation of emerging challenges?
I’ll leave “mass de-population” to Moscow in consideration of its fine demonstration for support of that pursuit in Syria and its continuing expression of competence with anything nuclear that can explode.
BackChannels believes history unified: when all has been truthfully reported, the parts may be found to fit all the way through. The greater public will with time dismiss lies and liars alike, and clarity and peace may emerge and prevail.
Well, for the sake of realpolitik, perhaps it is better to have walked on to the bridge than to have continued throwing mud balls from opposite banks.
More than likely, and in light of basic necessary Israeli-Palestinian cooperation (as with COGAT), interaction (growing, voluntary, social), and trade, peace will well up from beneath the headlines to essentially drown the conflict in modern Palestinian doubt, fair-mindedness, humanity, and indecision — and appreciation and love. New ideas and information may do that. The once-Soviet Era poison as installed will slowly evaporate as light works its way into and through the community.
M. Zuhdi Jasser has long — and long before 9/11 as he reminds in the above video (8:44) — advocated for a moderate Islam, or approach to Islam, compatible with American democratic principles, broadest popular participation in governance, and authentic religion and religious freedom.
You’ll see even individuals like this man in the center, Siraj Wahaj, who when I was in a Navy uniform in 1995 held up the Qur’an at the Islamic Society of North America that it is his mission as a Muslim to make America into an Islamic state and replace the Constitution with the Qur’an. I went to the mic at a conference larger than this and said, “This is sedition. I reject your values” – and this is in ’95, just to tell you I’m not a post-9/11 activist in this issue and also to tell you that this man is still on boards of many major Islamic organizations, and yet I show pictures of that New Mexico compound where his children and grandchildren were established, terror compounds, and yet he disavowed himself of violence.
While Jasser defends and encourages American Muslim patriots, he recognizes the weird admixture of Islamist and Left/Far Left attitudes and beliefs that has produced a movement critical of conservative values and frequently associated with anti-Semitism. Those who follow BackChannels know that the blog would assign that tired pairing of neo-socialists and Islamists to Moscow and its “Active Measures” that encourage or promote Far Left / Far Right extremism in the United States, a coupling goes back to the Soviet Era and has been brought forward to contemporary domestic and foreign affairs. Essentially, the forces responsible for the abdication of the Shah of Iran (February 11, 1979) are today part of the American political landscape with no apparent shortage of under-informed followers.
BackChannels cannot but imagine that the Left and affected portions of the Ummah are becoming conscious of the role Moscow has played in the . . . encouraging of Islamic violence, other absolutism — the planting of the old medieval world in the modern one goes far beyond religion — and corruption and kleptocracy.
Of course there’s a profound difference between whispering in someone’s ear and their independently flying airplanes into buildings. Still, John Schindler’s 2014 report intrigues while lending sense to the apparent reversion to a seemingly medieval polarization in politics in the heretofore modern American democracy.
The response to that statement by this blog’s editor follows:
That has been the power of Soviet / post-Soviet propaganda and one of the more basic features of misguidance on the Left. “Colonialism” — horrific and true enough in the age of the Grand Game — lost its legitimacy as the empires got the native boot and, with time, local political forces reestablished their claims and writs to the point, which one might suggest is about now, where the finger cannot be pointed at other than themselves. British power and European kingdoms have not gone missing, but they are not what they once were.
The Soviet engaged in two egregious behaviors throughout its tenure: it whipped resentments into small conflicts that it could then manage to its own advantage; and through the this-and-that “liberation” movements, it produced piratical dictatorships that would become centers for the promotion of ideology and the worst kinds of mischief.
For how Cuba and Venezuela turned out, I would recommend looking up both at the InSight Crime website.
The creation of Arafat and the PLO (along with the courting of Arab power) follows the Soviet / KGB template, and the fact that the movement persists with the Soviet long gone only to be replaced by an autocratic mafia-type (and mafia-associated) regime tells of a modern take on the thuggish history of mankind — but it also leaves the Palestinians trapped between a defunct political era and a more cooperative, idealistic, and higher-integrity modernity.
Why should the Palestinians now be kept from authentic critical historical scholarship?
The Soviet duped everyone.
The KGB would use the term “framing” to describe how it positioned events and persons psychologically. Indeed, the propaganda became the perception but because of its baseless qualities — and in the way of Potemkin — the Palestinians may stand up and look brave (which they do) but there’s nothing really beneath them and there won’t be until they acquire the power to pursue independent inquiry with integrity in their own right.
Regarding post-Soviet Cuba and Venezuela
With regard to Soviet / post-Soviet influence, BackChannels had the following in mind in relation to its suggestion to have a look at Cuba and Venezuela via the information window provided by InSight Crime.
BackChannels has long featured a get-you-started (got the editor started) library page titled, “Russian Section“. It’s a worth a look (but ageing right along with the editor who may wish to start over with that focus).
What if one awakes from a dream or nightmare one morning with the knowledge that much of what one has been taught to believe has turned out simply . . . not true?
The Earth has been proven round, not flat.
Does one go on as before without change in aspirations, beliefs, routines?
Or one may have a fresh look around at a world wildly different from that which one had for so long imagined on the basis of falsehoods and deliberate misguidance fashioned by the powerful and powerfully corrupt.
Method #1: detect and amplify any present national, racial, or religious suspicion into self-righteous anger and resentment — and crank it up;
Method #2: develop and deploy appropriate agitprop and agent provocateur — and for the Devil’s sake, don’t worry about anything having to do with ethics, ideals, principles, or values: in fact, dispense with the possession of conscience altogether and reduce all complexities — also, all cultural richness and intercultural relations to two essential dimensions: will and survival.
Method #3: Prepare the violence to come: arm convinced militia and move the same toward perceiving slights or promoting provocations, for either will serve the dual purposes necessary for the inhabiting of a renewed medieval world governed by feudal arrangements in support of “absolute power” (to be shared between political criminals and similar life forms).
Method #4: In hybrid, highbrow, and lowest manner, infiltrate target organizations and states for purpose of abetting their destabilization, perpetuating disinformation, and for ultimately exploiting legitimate business and labor for gain leveraged by bribery or extortion / reward for cooperation and threat for independence in either thought or action.
Centrist leaders across Europe hope the fallout from the “Ibiza scandal” will be felt beyond Austria in the European parliament elections this week, in which populist, nationalist and far-right parties have been forecast to make gains.
Strache’s apparent eagerness to embrace corruption is in stark contrast to the “drain the swamp” rhetoric populists routinely deploy in their attempts to portray politics as a battle by decent ordinary people against a venal elite. The FPÖ is a key member of an alliance of European nationalist parties led by Matteo Salvini of Italy’s League.
BackChannels has embedded with many posts the key word or phrase, “medieval v modern”, and that has worked for the editor, but what has emerged in Russia, Turkey, Hungary, and elsewhere also could be called a “Reactionary Conservatism” that fits with the anti-democratic and piratical renewal of feudal absolute power. Where such has succeeded, so far, the same has devolved into patently criminal cronyism.