Thursday, August 4, 2016

Today's links

 “Today, we are determined more than ever before to contribute to the solution of regional problems hand in hand with Iran and Russia and in cooperation with them.....If things go on as scheduled, I will visit Russia on August 9. A representative government delegation will accompany me. And we will again discuss our economic relations. There will be no restrictions (on the agenda) on our part.”  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

1--Propping up the Dollar?  Sterling sinks 1.5 pct as Bank of England cuts rates, increases QE

Not only did the BoE cut interest rates by 25 bps as fully expected, they expanded sovereign QE by 60 billion to 435 billion from 375 billion pounds and they are adding a corporate bond buying program but that is modest, just 10 billion pounds over the next 1 ½ years. They also added a short term lending program for banks to cushion the impact of low rates," Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group, said in a note to clients.

"Bottom line, the BoE is now falling further into the same trap as the Fed, BoJ and ECB and for some reason hoping to see a different result," he said...

The dollar, driven to a six-week low after a very poor reading of U.S. second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) last week, drew strength from a better-than-expected ADP jobs number on Wednesday.

2-- --No Europe for You-- Austria Calls for End to Turkey EU Accession Talks in Split With Brussels

Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern has said Turkey's "democratic standards are far from sufficient to justify its accession" into the EU, in a move that contradicts the view of the European Commission, in a further sign of divisions within the Union.

"We have to face reality: the membership negotiations are currently no more than fiction. We know that Turkey's democratic standards are far from sufficient to justify its accession," Kern told reporters.

"We are all well advised to now say we're pressing the reset button. [Turkey] remains an important partner in security and integration matters," he added.

3--The Case for (Finally) Bombing Assad (more warmongering from the NYT)

There is an alternative: Punish the Syrian government for violating the truce by using drones and cruise missiles to hit the Syrian military’s airfields, bases and artillery positions where no Russian troops are present.

Opponents of these kinds of limited strikes say they would prompt Russia to escalate the conflict and suck the United States deeper into Syria. But these strikes would be conducted only if the Assad government was found to be violating the very truce that Russia says it is committed to. Notifying Russia that this will be the response could deter such violations of the truce and the proposed military agreement with Moscow. In any case, it would signal to Mr. Putin that his Syrian ally would pay a price if it did not maintain its side of the deal.

4-- Trump, Russia and Democratic Lies

5--Parallel State in Russia

Who is spreading the disinformation on the July 15 coup...and why..

6-- EU on edge as Putin, Erdogan set to meet

Joagland added that Turkey is “such an important European country. It is important that we do all that we can to help Turkey get through this process.”
The EU’s overture comes on the eve of the forthcoming meeting of Turkish President Recep Erdogan with Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg on August 9....

What could it be that makes the officials in Brussels tizzy, twisting their fingers, as angst builds in their body?
No, it is not about the consensus on ending the Syrian conflict that Moscow and Ankara are negotiating, which may reset the contours of Europe’s hopeless refugee crisis.

It’s the TurkStream, stupid!

A series of statements from the Turkish and Russian sides suggest that an inter-governmental agreement is within sight, finally, on starting the TurkStream gas pipeline project bringing more Russian gas to Turkey.
Turkey needs one line of TurkStream carrying 16 bcm to meet its needs but may also be persuaded to agree to be a transit country for Russian supplies to southern Europe....

The geopolitical implications are self-evident. The European disquiet is understandable for a variety of reasons:
  • TurkStream opens the door to more exports of Russian gas to Europe, whereas EU (and US) would hope to reduce heavy dependence on Russian supplies.
  • EU abhors the idea of Turkey, a problematic partner, emerging as transit country for the continent’s gas imports.
  • TurkStream will kill EU’s trans-Caspian pipeline projects bypassing Russia.
  • TurkStream diminishes Russia’s dependence on Ukraine as transit country for gas exports to Europe, while it also compels Kiev to turn to Brussels to meet its own energy needs by crediting that country.
  • TurkStream strengthens Russia’s hands as regards the proposed Nord Stream 2 project (carrying additional Russian gas to northern Europe). The EU has been lukewarm about Nord Stream 2 (which bypasses Poland), given its potential to foster a geopolitical axis between Moscow and Berlin.
Therefore, ideally, EU and the US would have liked European market sourcing non-Russian energy, which could be in terms of:
  • Increased LNG supplies from the US;
  • A pipeline to connect Israel’s gas fields in Eastern Mediterranean. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on June 27 following a meeting with the Turkish Prime Minister Binaldi Ildirim in Rome, while explaining the raison d’etre of Israel-Turkey normalization, “The Leviathan gas fields can supply gas needs of Egypt and also for Turkey and from there to Europe.”
  • Qatar’s famous plan of 2009 to lay a pipeline via Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria connecting the massive North Pars gas fields with European market, to replace Russian supplies as well as forestall future Iranian export gas to the West. (President Bashar al-Assad had shot down the idea, which, some say, led to the ‘regime change’ agenda to overthrow him.)
All in all, therefore, the forthcoming summit between Putin and Erdogan next week becomes a defining moment impacting several key templates of the New Cold War....

On the one hand, Turkey’s cooperation is crucial to Russian efforts to stabilize the Syrian situation while on the other hand TurkStream cements the EU market on a long-term footing for Russian energy exports.

As for Turkey, Russia can be of decisive help in preventing the creation of a Kurdistan enclave on its borders and/or the federalization of Syria (which are hugely consequential issues for Turkey’s national security), while TurkStream not only adds to Turkey’s energy security but enhances Turkey’s importance for Russia in its geo-strategies, apart from positioning itself as an energy hub for Europe (which becomes a trump card in Turkey’s tortuous accession negotiations with the EU).

7-- Washington and Ankara at loggerheads?

On Monday, Washington’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford met with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim

the West is concerned about Turkey turning away, and towards Russia, following the attempted putsch in the country, which many Turks believe was orchestrated by the US....

the situation in Syria is deteriorating for NATO, and Turkey, as a member of the bloc, is a key player in the region that could help reverse that trend for the West. Gaps  in NATO policies in Syria are becoming more obvious, Okuyan said, adding that “they have lost initiatives.”...

Erdogan has some real evidence about involvement of high level bureaucrats in the US or other NATO countries in the coup. The aim is to compromise each other. This is real bargaining but it might get out of control.”...

8---Hillary's plan for escalation in Syria?  ; What to do when containing the Syrian crisis has failed  Brookings

..., in terms of military assets on the ground, there are several things we should do differently. For one, we need to be somewhat more willing to work with groups that are tainted by past association with the Nusra Front, as long as we can vouch for the fact that they are not themselves Nusra members. We should give them anti-tank missiles—though not anti-aircraft missiles—and much more help in terms of ammunition, logistics assistance, and food, to help them build up their forces. We must also be clever about employing various options for no-fly zones: We cannot shoot down an airplane without knowing if it’s Russian or Syrian, but we can identify those aircraft after the fact and destroy Syrian planes on the ground if they were found to have barrel-bombed a neighborhood, for example...

we should push the debate about what creating safe havens really means. I don’t think we should start declaring safe havens, but rather try to help them emerge. The Kurds are making gains in Syria’s northeast, for instance, as are some forces on the southern front—so, if the United States, in cooperation with its allies, accelerates and intensifies its involvement on the ground in those areas, safe havens can essentially emerge

9-- WikiLeaks reveals Hillary's role in arming ISIS

In an interview with Democracy Now, Wikileaks’ Julian Assange is now stating that 1,700 emails contained in the Clinton cache directly connect Hillary to Libya to Syria, and directly to Al Qaeda and ISIS.....

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton authorized the shipment of American-made arms to Qatar, a country beholden to the Muslim Brotherhood, and friendly to the Libyan rebels, in an effort to topple the Libyan/Gaddafi government, and then ship those arms to Syria in order to fund Al Qaeda, and topple Assad in Syria.
Clinton took the lead role in organizing the so-called “Friends of Syria” (aka Al Qaeda/ISIS) to back the CIA-led insurgency for regime change in Syria...

rich picture of how Hillary Clinton performs in office, but, more broadly, how the U.S. Department of State operates. So, for example, the disastrous, absolutely disastrous intervention in Libya, the destruction of the Gaddafi government, which led to the occupation of ISIS of large segments of that country, weapons flows going over to Syria, being pushed by Hillary Clinton, into jihadists within Syria, including ISIS, that’s there in those emails.

10---"We did the right thing" in Libya, says Obama

The Obama administration and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton relied on militias linked to Al Qaeda to overthrow the Libyan government and murder its leader Muammar Gaddafi. These same forces, armed and financed by US and European imperialism, were then sent to Syria to topple the Russian- and Iranian-backed government of Bashar al Assad. This has resulted in the deaths of over 400,000 people, the creation of 10 million refugees, and the destruction of one of the most advanced Arab societies.

“We did the right thing preventing what could have been a massacre, a bloodbath in Libya,” Obama said referring to the 2011 US-led attack on Libya. US forces, which include an undetermined number of ground troops, would continue “in order to ensure that there were strong structures in place to assure basic security and peace inside of Libya,” Obama declared...

The renewed violence in Libya takes place as the US and British media published new accusations from anti-Assad “rebels” that the Syrian government is using chemical weapons...

War is the product, however, not simply of the blood-thirsty character of this or that politician, but of capitalism and the outmoded system of rival and antagonistic nation states. American workers, like our brothers and sisters around the world, have no interest in killing each other over which gang of multi-billionaires controls the world’s markets, resources and profits.

11--10 facts about Syria you won't read in the MSM

12--US secretary of state to visit Turkey at the end of August

13--Theology assistant prof may be number one man of July 15 coup attempt: Columnist

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to pay a visit to Turkey by the end of August, CNN Türk reported Aug. 4 amid tensions that emerged after Ankara expressed its discontent over the lack of support it received from the West in the wake of the July 15 coup attempt. ...

The first U.S. official visit after the coup attempt was paid by U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford

14--Releasing Classified material? Manning tortured while Clinton applauded:  Whistle-blower Chelsea Manning: “I became very, very sad” during torture


15  Antiwar Trump incurs the wrath of the billionaires:  US Republican presidential campaign in crisis

Trump’s claimed opposition to US wars in the Middle East, and his friendly statements about Russian President Vladimir Putin, are at odds with the foreign policy consensus in Washington. Both Democrats and Republicans back the US-NATO buildup in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States, threatening war with a nuclear-armed Russia. The Obama administration is pouring weapons and special forces troops into the war in Syria, Russia’s lone Mideast ally, and has launched expanded bombing and drone missile attacks throughout the region, including North Africa.

These foreign policy considerations were spelled out most openly in the editorial Wednesday in the New York Times, headlined, “The Case for (Finally) Bombing Assad.” The Times demanded a harder line from the Obama administration against the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, including launching bombing raids on Syrian government targets.

The editorial devotes special venom for Russian President Putin, claiming “Mr. Putin is more interested in demonstrating that Russia and its friends are winning in Syria and the United States is losing. He will not alter his approach unless he becomes convinced that it has grown too expensive.” It concludes: “It is time for the United States to speak the language that Mr. Assad and Mr. Putin understand.”

There is an unstated corollary: a US presidential candidate whose commitment to the anti-Russia, anti-Syria campaign is judged questionable, is entirely unacceptable to the Times and the Wall Street and military-intelligence quarters for which it speaks.

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