Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Today's links

"The increase in military cooperation within NATO countries against ISIL and the piling up of NATO forces near Turkey’s border with Syria take place in parallel with the recent deal between Ankara and the Brussels over Syrian refugees and the re-activation of Turkey’s EU accession bid." ....NATO buildup on border part of secret deal

1--Downing of Russian warplane shines a light on Turkey's shadowy links to extremists

Ankara has sponsored some of the Syrian opposition's most prominent factions — including, according to critics, Al Qaeda-linked groups such as Al Nusra Front and Islamic State, although Turkey insists it backs only moderate insurgents.¿
"No country has been more important for the rebels than Turkey," said regional expert Mouin Rabbani, speaking by phone from the Jordanian capital, Amman.
in November 2011, as Syrian authorities violently put down largely peaceful antigovernment protests, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan aligned himself with what he called the "glorious resistance" and said it was time for Assad to step down.
Since then, fighters and arms have regularly flowed between the two countries and Ankara has given weapons to the opposition and organized logistical support.

It was Turkey's national intelligence agency, known as MIT, that first organized Syrian military defectors into Western-backed groups under the banner of the Free Syrian Army.
Free Syrian Army factions still convene on Turkish soil in the Joint Operations Center, a CIA-led intelligence hub that gives vetted rebels training as well as U.S.-made TOW antitank missiles used to destroy Syrian army tanks and armored units....

In May, the Turkish daily newspaper Cumhuriyet published video from 2014 showing customs agents impounding a truck owned by the MIT.
The truck's manifest said it was carrying humanitarian assistance for Syrians. Instead it was bearing a cache of ammunition and shells the newspaper said were destined for Islamist rebels.
The video's release caused a furor. Erdogan vowed to prosecute Cumhuriyet, a threat he carried out Friday when authorities arrested two of the paper's journalists on charges of espionage and aiding a terrorist organization.

Turkish assistance has been instrumental in empowering the Army of Conquest, a loose coalition of hard-line Islamist factions including Al Nusra Front, which seized control of Idlib province in March in an offensive backed by Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Economic ties also have been forged between Turkey and rebel factions.
According to a 2015 United Nations study, two border crossings controlled by a faction of the Army of Conquest handle more than 300 trucks a day, a figure that exceeds prewar levels. The traffic yields an estimated $660,000 a day in revenue for the rebel group....

But it is Turkey's shadowy connection with the militant group Islamic State that has caused the most concern.....

Until last year, when Turkey yielded to international pressure and tightened controls on who could enter the country, bearded men sporting military-style backpacks and clothing were a common sight at the airports in Istanbul, Antakya and Gaziantep. From there, they would be whisked off to Islamic State safe houses near the border and then into Syria.

2--Obama press conference after climate summit paris

I think is an indication that Mr. Putin recognizes there is not going to be a military resolution to the situation in Syria.

The Russians now have been there for several weeks, over a month, and I think fair-minded reporters who looked at the situation would say that the situation hasn’t changed significantly.  In the interim, Russia has lost a commercial passenger jet.  You’ve seen another jet shot down.  There have been losses in terms of Russian personnel.  And I think Mr. Putin understands that, with Afghanistan fresh in the memory, for him to simply get bogged down in a inconclusive and paralyzing civil conflict is not the outcome that he’s looking for.

Now, where we continue to have an ongoing difference is not on the need for a political settlement; it's the issue of whether Mr. Assad can continue to serve as President while still bringing the civil war to an end.  It's been my estimation for five years now that that's not possible.  Regardless of how you feel about Mr. Assad -- and I consider somebody who kills hundreds of thousands of his own people illegitimate -- but regardless of the moral equation, as a practical matter, it is impossible for Mr. Assad to bring that country together and to bring all the parties into an inclusive government.  It is possible, however, to preserve the Syrian state, to have an inclusive government in which the interests of the various groups inside of Syria are represented.

And so, as part of the Vienna process, you're going to see the opposition groups -- the moderate opposition groups that exist within Syria -- some of which, frankly, we don't have a lot in common with but do represent significant factions inside of Syria -- they’ll be coming together in order for them to form at least a negotiating unit or process that can move Vienna forward.

And we're going to just keep on working at this.  And my hope and expectation is, is that political track will move at the same time as we continue to apply greater and greater pressure on ISIL.

3--Divided Over Turkey, European Media Changes Its Line on Russia
Europeans can take pleasure in a rare phenomenon: diametrically opposed narratives on major international issues being laid out before them by the media

4--UN. condemns air strike that cut water supplies to Syria's Aleppo

An air strike on a water treatment plant in Syria last Thursday cut water supplies for 3.5 million people and while pumping has been partly restored, 1.4 million still have reduced supply, the United Nations said on Tuesday.“In Syria, the rules of war, including those meant to protect vital civilian infrastructure, continue to be broken on a daily basis," UNICEF's representative in Syria, Hanaa Singer, said in a statement. "The air-strike which reportedly hit al-Khafseh water treatment plant in the northern city of Aleppo last Thursday is a particularly alarming example."

5---UN slams airstrike on water plant in Syria's Aleppo

The Syrian state news agency SANA reported that the US-led coalition conducting airstrikes against purported positions of the Daesh Takfiri terrorists in Syria had bombed the water plant.
"In Syria, the rules of war, including those meant to protect vital civilian infrastructure, continue to be broken on a daily basis," said Hanaa Singer, the UNICEF representative in Syria, in a statement on Tuesday.
"The airstrike which reportedly hit al-Khafseh water treatment plant in the northern city of Aleppo last Thursday (November 26) is a particularly alarming example."...
Reports also show that the air strikes have repeatedly hit Syrian infrastructure.

6---Thanks, but no thanks: Iraq says no need for foreign forces amid US deployment plans

We do not need foreign ground combat forces on Iraqi land,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday.
The Iraqi government “stresses that any military operation or the deployment of any foreign forces – special or not – in any place in Iraq cannot happen without its approval and coordination and full respect of Iraqi sovereignty,” he said.
The remarks came after US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Washington was sending an “expeditionary” group of its special forces to Iraq. He said the forces may also take part in operations inside neighboring Syria. 

The Iraqi popular defense groups of Kata’ib Hezbollah, the Badr Movement, and Asaib Ahl al-Haq also reacted to the announcement by pledging to combat any US troops deployed to the conflict-hit country.

7--Uh oh---Free Syrian Army to Sputnik: We Have Proof of Turkey's Oil Deals With Daesh

Since the very start of the Syrian crisis in 2011, Turkey has been supporting the Islamists (extremists) and terrorists in Syria in every possible way against moderate groups,” he added.
“We have photos of the contracts of oil deals signed between the Turkish party and Daesh… We also have photos of [buying] vehicles – Toyota cars bought by Qatar, which have the name of “al-ghanem” – [which] entered Syria along with armored vehicles used by militants of Daesh for their leaders’ transportation.”

8--The smoking gun: Main Illegal Oil Transportation Routes Located on Turkey-Syria Border

The general staff has irrefutable evidence on Turkey's involvement in illegal oil trade
Space recoinassance established that after crossing the border tanker trucks move further into Turkey," Rudskoy said. Then the oil is being delivered to third countries.
9---Can you feel the love?
The research conducted by the independent polling center Levada in late November shows the proportion of Russians with a negative attitude to the United States increased from 68 percent to 70 percent over the past two months. Negative attitudes to the European Union remained at 70 percent, while negativity towards Ukraine increased from 56 percent to 63 percent....In February VTSIOM stated that about 68 percent of Russian citizens thought the likelihood of foreign military aggression towards their country has increased

"Turkey is the main consumer of the oil stolen from its rightful owners, Syria and Iraq. According to information we've received, the senior political leadership of the country - President Erdogan and his family - are involved in this criminal business," said Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov."
 Well, pilgrims, the US has quite adequate overhead reconnaissance means.  We know all about the "columns of tanker trucks loading with oil at installations controlled by Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and then crossing the border into neighbouring Turkey."
So, who is it that Obama and his girls think they are kidding when he claims that Sultan Tayyip is going to seal the existing border gap against IS?   Who do they think they are kidding?

11---From MoA:
Who initiated this sudden rush within major NATO governments to get parliamentary blank checks for waging a long war on Syria? Not only in the UK but also in France and Germany?

The German government turned on a dime from "no military intervention in Syria ever" to "lets wage a war of terror on Syria" without any backing from the UN or international law. .. Who initiated this? A simple, medium size terror attack in Paris by some Belgians and French can not be the sole reason for this stampede.
Did Obama call and demand support for his plans? What are these?

I smell that a trap is being laid, likely via a treacherous Turkey, to somehow threaten Russia with, or involve it in, a wider war. This would include military attacks in east-Ukraine or Crimea as well as in Syria. Obama demanded European backing in case the issue gets of of hands. No other reason I have found explains the current panic. The terrorists the "west" supports in Syria are in trouble. The real terrorist sympathizers need to rush to their help. It is a start of all-out war on Syria and its Russian protectors.

12--Gabbard: Border dust up could lead to nuclear war

“In full coordination with the Government of Iraq, we’re deploying a specialized expeditionary targeting force to assist Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces and put even more pressure on [ISIS],” Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the House Armed Services Committee in announcing the new deployment on Tuesday.

 ...White House press secretary Josh Earnest urged lawmakers to pass new legislation providing Obama with the explicit authority to counter ISIS. “This effort is serious, and should be the focus of serious debate,” Earnest told reporters during his Tuesday briefing. “It will take more than three weeks to pass an AUMF, but Congress, in each of these cases, must stop using the fact that these issues are difficult as an excuse for doing nothing.”
Carter got a hint of just how difficult it may be to sell Congress on such legislation when Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D., Hawaii) suggested that Obama’s decision to place American fighter jets equipped “to target Russian planes” on the border between Turkey and Syria, and his stated opposition to Russian-backed Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, could lead the U.S. into a nuclear war with Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Russia’s installation of their anti-aircraft missile-defense system increases that possibility of — whether it’s intentional or even an accidental event — where one side may shoot down the other side’s plane,” Gabbard told Carter. “And that’s really where the potential is for this devastating nuclear war.”

13--Germany, France eye use of bases in Turkey
Uğur Ergan – ANKARA
Berlin and Paris have notified Ankara of their desire to use Turkish bases to consolidate the battle against jihadists in Syria

14---Obama to erdogan: Close the border (Turkish build up continues)

U.S. President Barack Obama said he had spoken to his Turkish counterpart in Paris on the sidelines of a climate change conference about the need to close the border between Turkey and Syria, while Secretary of State John Kerry has said Erdoğan is “completely committed and ready to proceed” to help guarantee that the remaining portion of the border is closed.

“With respect to Turkey, I have had repeated conversations with President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan about the need to close the border between Turkey and Syria,” Obama said during a speech delivered at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) HQ in Paris on Dec. 1.

“We’ve seen some serious progress on that front, but there are still some gaps. In particular, there’s about 98 kilometers that are still used as a transit point for foreign fighters and for [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] ISIL to ship out fuel for sale that helps finance their terrorist activities,” he added.

Stating that the Turkish and U.S. militaries were working together to determine how a combination of air and Turkish ground forces on the Turkish side of the border can do a better job of sealing the border, Obama said that he believed Erdoğan “recognizes that.”

15--NATO buildup on border part of secret deal

There is another dimension to the story: Although there is no announced link, the increase in military cooperation within NATO countries against ISIL and the piling up of NATO forces near Turkey’s border with Syria take place in parallel with the recent deal between Ankara and the Brussels over Syrian refugees and the re-activation of Turkey’s EU accession bid. ....

İncirlik was opened up for the use of U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition flights after Turkey fully joined the coalition in July 2015. In addition to Turkish F-16s and flying tankers, there are American F-15s, F-16s and A-10 bombers currently based there. According to unconfirmed reports, Germany is planning to deploy Tornado war planes to İncirlik, focusing especially on surveillance missions with a total of 1,200 troopers. The U.K. has not yet fully committed itself to anti-ISIL strikes, but it recently opened its air bases in Cyprus for use by France. Those bases are also within 180 km and 220 km of the bases already mentioned.

The determination of France and Germany seemingly increased after the ISIL terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, which killed 129 people. ISIL had already hit Turkey twice with suicide bombers after Turkey opened the İncirlik base for the U.S.-led flights: Once in Suruç when it killed 34 people on July 20, and once in Ankara when it killed 103 people on Oct. 10.

The timing of the French and German decisions also took place amid serious ongoing tension between Moscow and Ankara over the downed Russian plane. Russian President Vladimir Putin refused to meet Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan during the climate summit in Paris on Nov. 30, as he has demanded an apology first over the downed plane.

16--The United States believes Turkey should become more active in the air war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), secure its border and go after the militant group's facilitators who "intrude" into Turkey, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Tuesday

17--Russia’s Lavrov says will not refuse to meet Turkish counterpart in Belgrade

18--NATO allies act to strengthen Turkey’s air defenses

19---Erdogan advisor admits to blackmailing EU with refugees

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's advisor Burhan Kuzu commented on the migrant deal between the EU and turkey, saying on his twitter account on Wednesday that the EU finally bowed to Turkey's threat to open its borders to refugees by deciding to provide Turkey with financial support for the migrant crisis.
“The EU finally got Turkey's message and opened its purse strings. What did we say? ‘We'll open our borders and unleash all the Syrian refugees on you,'” Kuzu stated in his controversial tweet...

On Nov. 24 the EU's executive branch confirmed it will set up a fund of 3 billion euros for two years to help improve the living conditions of migrants in Turkey and prevent further influxes into Europe. The agreement was finalized on Nov. 29 at the EU-Turkey summit held in Brussels, where Turkey promised to help stem the flow of migrants to Europe in return for financial support, visa-free travel to Europe's Schengen zone and renewed EU accession talks.

20--BLACKMAIL: The plan to internationalize the attack on Assad

In the meantime, it has become clear that the AKP's careless disregard for human life extends beyond domestic affairs and into the foreign arena as well. Increasingly isolated internationally because of its policies in the region, not to mention their despotism at home, the AKP leadership has now turned again to using human lives to rescue itself from a tight squeeze. Syrian refugees in Turkey, who until just five or six months ago did not pose a problem to Europe, have been transformed with cruel mastery into the greatest human problem Europe has faced in years. Tens of thousands of refugees, including babies and children, have been sent in waves of humanity into Europe from this direction.

EU leaders, who have lowered themselves to engaging in de facto blackmail with Erdoğan in the name of rescuing themselves from the growing number of refugees at their doors, have managed to attain promises from Turkey that it will act as doorman for Europe by dangling 3 billion euros in front of Ankara. What has been guaranteed is that Turkey will be turned into one vast refugee camp. And to keep this entire diplomatic affair from appearing solely to be an ugly round of desperate bargaining, Brussels has rewarded Ankara's skillful use of human lives as material for politicking by promising to re-enliven the EU accession talks.
During this period, when things like rights and freedoms gasp for air in Turkey, there is no doubt that re-enlivening the EU accession talks would offer some crucial benefits for this country. After all, even a basic slowdown in the trampling of laws and the anti-democratic direction we are taking would be marked as a victory for us at this point

By exporting these people to Europe and threatening to send many more, the Erdoğan regime has succeeded in reminding Europe of how important it is. This policy -- which of course ignores the sanctity of the lives of men, women, children, the elderly and so on -- got immediate results. We are talking about a lethal set of policies, which opened the door to images of dead infants like Aylan and Sena washing up on our shorelines, or to thousands of refugees perishing on boats in the Aegean. But on Nov. 29, Ankara attained the most concrete result to date from these policies. Thanks to a political stance that completely discounts the value of human life, Turkey managed to attain a summit with EU leaders for the first time in its history

The incidents we have witnessed most recently cannot even be characterized as attempts to perpetuate the state, but rather as attempts to support the interests of a political mob. We watch as this political mob recklessly tosses peoples' lives to the wind in the name of maximizing their own political interests. The violence and terror-filled atmosphere that took hold of Turkey right after the June 7 election, when the AKP lost grip on its single-handed control, is a concrete example of this. In the maelstrom of violence and terror that was triggered to show people exactly how vital having a single party in power in Ankara was, some 600 people lost their lives. These deaths continue even today.

Worse still is that these political calculations achieved results. Masterfully choreographed, the violence and chaos injected into daily life and public order in Turkey after June 7 wound up convincing an apparent majority that stability was only attainable through single-party power. The plan worked; this is what we saw on Nov. 1. Of course, reclaiming power in Ankara was one thing, putting a stop to the wellspring of violence and terror that had been encouraged to burst forth has proved to be a bit more difficult


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