The prime impetus for electronic money is that the banks and the government (almost the same thing) control the money and can prevent runs on the banking system. Right now runs are the scariest thing in banking, as Turkey is demonstrating. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
It has been an miserable five years for Turkish citizens who have seen their purchasing power slashed by more than half, and it’s only getting worse.
The Turkish lira has cratered against the dollar and most developed currencies, plunging from 3 TRY per dollar, to a record low 7.37 last week after a brief and valiant attempt at imposing shadow capital control by Erdogan (who is now de facto head of the Turkish central bank) failed miserably at the end of July, and not even a draconian hike in overnight funding rates above 1000% last week (to crush the shorts) was able to prevent a plunge in the Lira to new all time lows.
As their currency implodes (in a nation that is becoming increasingly more “banana” with each passing day as Erdogan solidifies his takeover of every government institution, in the process turning off any potential foreign investors) Turks are discouraged from material purchases of dollars to hedge the collapse in their native currency due to some of the strictest capital controls on the planet, which has left them with just one option.
As Reuters reports, Hasan Ayhan followed his wife’s instructions last week and took their savings to buy gold at Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar as Turks scooped up bullion worth $7 billion in a just a fortnight while their currency went up in flames.
So-called solidarity is great when you’re trying to ram a mandate down a member country, but what happens when that member country asks for your help in the name of solidarity? From Judith Bergman at gatestoneinstitute.org:
- When an entire continent is in the midst of a highly contagious virus epidemic, solidarity becomes a more complex issue. Every state inevitably considers whether it can afford to send facemasks and protective equipment that might be needed for its own citizens. In other words, every state considers its own national interest first. In the case of Italy’s appeal for help, EU member states made their own interests their highest priority. This is classic state behavior and would not have caused any outrage prior to the establishment of the European Union.
- While such revelations may not spell the immediate end of the European Union, they certainly raise questions about the point of an organization that pledges solidarity as a founding principle, but abandons that principle the moment it is most called for.
- The current crisis on the Greek-Turkish border has shown the EU not only as unhelpful, but an actual liability: The EU has left an already overwhelmed Greece to deal with the migrant crisis — manufactured by Turkish President Erdogan for political gain — on its own… On top of Europe’s attempts to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, ordered that Greece must allow the migrants that Erdogan transported to the border to apply for asylum.
- If the EU were to approve visa-free travel for Turks – or anyone who had the means to buy a Turkish passport – millions of Turks would be able to enter the EU legally and potentially “disappear” there. Already at breaking point, the EU would arguably become a very different kind of “European” Union with Turkey, a country of 80 million people, literally invited to enter Europe.
- All Erdogan needs to do now it sit back and wait for the EU, with Merkel at the helm, to meet his demands.
When Italy appealed to the EU for supplies of medical equipment at the beginning of its coronavirus crisis, it received exactly nothing. In addition, Germany and France even imposed bans or limitations on the export of facemasks and protective equipment. Pictured: Cleaning personnel in protective gear work in a tent of a new field hospital in Cremona, Italy on March 20, 2020. The field hospital is financed by the American evangelical Christian NGO Samaritan’s Purse. (Photo by Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images)
Since the outbreak of coronavirus in Italy, Italians have learned that other European Union member states do not always practice the beautiful words that they like to preach — especially solidarity.
How far will Russia go to help Syria liberate Idlib? From Patrick Lawrence at consortiumnews.com:
Turkey’s leader, who nurses dreams of some kind of neo–Ottoman restoration across the Middle East, is now on a reckless tear.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a press conference in Turkey, Dec. 1, 2014. (Russian government)
As Recip Tayyip Erdogan prosecutes his latest military intrusion southward into Syria, all the old mythologies about the Turkish president and the 9-year-old Syrian conflict are rehearsed once again, hopelessly threadbare as they are. The problem now is not the fog of war. The problem is the war of fog.
Let us be clear from the start, then, as to what has unfolded since last week and what will be the desired outcome. The Syrian Arab Army, a force for good, must not stop short of decisive victory in Idlib, the governorate in northwest Syria sheltering the last jihadist militias operating on Syrian soil. Russia, which is correctly (and legally) supporting the S.A.A.’s campaign, should try to avoid a direct conflict with a NATO member but should engage Turkish forces if there is no alternative.
NATO, breaking its own Article 5 covenant, will not come to the aid of a member nation engaged in so despicable an assault on another sovereign nation. I am not alone in holding this opinion. Don’t forget: Most NATO members are squeamish, mealy-mouthed Europeans who have given up the ghost in Syria.
Posted in Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, History, Military, War
Tagged Erdogan, Idlib, Putin, Russia, Syria, Turkey
The best bet is that Idlib ends up being deluded Erdogan’s Rubicon. Putin doesn’t have too many follies to his credit. From Tom Luongo at tomlungo.me:
It’s been a dramatic few days in Syria. The Syrian Army pushed across Idlib Province to retake major strongholds of Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists who have controlled the region for years thanks to support from Turkey.
This provoked a major escalation from Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Major offensives by the jihadists, backed by Turkish armor and air power, pushed back the Syrian army from the outskirts of Idlib city and took back the town of Saraqib at the confluence of the M4 and M5 highways which are of major strategic importance.
That counterattack occurred while the Syrian Army had moved south to claim vast territory northeast of the Russian air base at Latakia.
Erdogan has been threatening for weeks for the Syrian army to halt its advance or face the brunt of the Turkish Army. He made good on those threats, but only after taking advantage of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s temperance.
The US can’t allow its terrorist proxies in Syria to be defeated or it will lose its all important “presence” in that nation. From Finian Cunningham at strategic-culture.org:
NATO member Turkey was recently caught out providing artillery support for terror groups in Syria’s Idlib province; now leader of the NATO alliance, the United States, is hinting at Russia and Syria holding dialogue with the terrorists to curb the upsurge in conflict.
As Syria’s endgame closes, the protagonists and their proxies are coming more clearly into focus. NATO’s covert shadowy connection with the jihadist insurgents it has sponsored for regime change is being flushed out as the Syrian army and its Russian ally home in on the last stand of the terror groups.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov this week ruled out any mediation with Tahrir Hayat al Sham (HTS), the main terrorist network holding out in Idlib in northwest Syria. Lavrov was referring to comments made earlier by US envoy James Jeffrey who suggested that HTS was “not a terrorist organization any more” and therefore might be included in negotiations for de-escalation.
Posted in Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, History, Intelligence, Military, Politics, War
Tagged Erdogan, Idlib, NATO, President Trump, Russia, Syria, Turkey
If Turkey leaves NATO then it will want the US to abandon its important airbase at Incerlik. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:
After what can only be termed a terrible NATO Not Summit two weeks ago it was clear the alliance has serious fissures forming in its facade.
It opened with French President Emmanuel Macron’s refusal to back down on how ‘brain dead’ NATO’s current mission is. And it ended with an embarrassing hot mic moment with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau which led to President Trump leaving early.
It was Macron’s statements about Turkey reinvigorating ISIS with its invasion of Northern Syria which revealed the depths of European brain death in foreign affairs.
This is a talking point straight out of neocon central to appease the U.S. MIC and Israelis while he asserts the need to decouple European foreign policy from the U.S. and reorient NATO to combat terrorism, which it isn’t designed to do.
But what truly borders on farce today is the U.S. Congress threatening to sanction Turkey over buying Russian S-400 missile defense systems while its President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is actually threatening NATO member Greece, ignoring the idea that Crete even exists and making territorial claims to the eastern Mediterranean that would make Ataturk himself blush.
The real reason the US military was in Syria was to get rid of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. That’s not going to happen. Will anybody in power recognize this golden opportunity to leave Syria? From Philip Giraldi at unz.com:
Trump cancels the pullout from Syria then flip-flops, threatens war with Turkey and gives money to terrorists
The long nightmare in Syria might finally be coming to an end, but not thanks to the United States and the administration of President Donald Trump. Trump’s boastthat “this was an outcome created by us, the United States, and nobody else” was as empty as all the other rhetoric coming out of the White House over the past two and a half years. Nevertheless, it now appears that the U.S. military just might finally be bidding farewell to an exercise that began under President Barack Obama as a prime bit of liberal interventionism, with American forces illegally entering into a conflict that the White House barely understood and subsequently meddling and prolonging the fighting.
The fundamental reason why the U.S. was so ineffective was that the Obama Administration’s principal objective from the beginning was to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, yet another attempt at “humanitarian” regime change similar to that which produced such a wonderful result in Libya. Al-Assad was never in serious danger as he had significant popular support, including from the country’s Christian minority, and American piecemeal attempts to negotiate some kind of exit strategy were doomed as they eschewed any dealing with the legitimate government that was in place. The Syrian civil war supported and even enabled by Washington caused more than 500,000 deaths, created some 9 million internal and external refugees, and destroyed the Syrian economy and infrastructure while also almost starting a war between the U.S. and Turkey.
Posted in Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, History, Intelligence, Politics
Tagged Erdogan, Israel, President Trump, Putin, Russia, Syria, Turkey
This is the most comprehensive on-the-ground account of the Syrian situation we’ve seen. From David Stockman at lewrockwell.com:
By a vote of 354-60 last week the U.S. House of Representative proved that Imperial Washington is addicted to war, and that the level of ignorance, bellicosity and mendacity among the people’s representative has reach appalling heights.
Having never voted for Washington’s pointless, illegal and destructive fomenting of Syria’s calamitous civil war in the first place, as the constitution requires, the bipartisan congressional mob actually had the gall to vote to keep US forces in the middle of a centuries old Kurd/Turk conflict that has zero implications – and we mean as in none, nichts and nada – for the security and safety of the American homeland.
Posted in Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, History, Intelligence, Media, Military, Politics, War
Tagged Erdogan, Kurds, President Trump, Russia, Syria, Turkey, Vladimir Putin
Putin has had an impressive run in the Middle East, and it looks like he’s stitching together a truce that may serve as a basis for lasting peace in Syria. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:
“Russia Assumes Mantle of Supreme Power Broker in the Middle East,” proclaimed Britain’s Telegraph. The article began:
“Russia’s status as the undisputed power-broker in the Middle East was cemented as Vladimir Putin continued a triumphant tour of capitals traditionally allied to the US.”
“Donald Trump Has Handed Putin the Middle East on a Plate” was the title of a Telegraph column. “Putin Seizes on Trump’s Syria Retreat to Cement Middle East Role,” said the Financial Times.
The U.S. press parroted the British: Putin is now the new master of the Mideast. And woe is us.
Before concluding that Trump’s pullout of the last 1,000 U.S. troops in Syria is America’s Dunkirk, some reflection is needed.
Yes, Putin has played his hand skillfully. Diplomatically, as the Brits say, the Russian president is “punching above his weight.”
He gets on with everyone. He is welcomed in Iran by the Ayatollah, meets regularly with Bibi Netanyahu, is a cherished ally of Syria’s Bashar Assad, and this week was being hosted by the King of Saudi Arabia and the royal rulers of the UAE. October 2019 has been a triumphal month.
Yet, consider what Putin has inherited and what his capabilities are for playing power broker of the Middle East.
There are good reasons, Marc D. Joffe argues, for the US to stand aside in the Turkey-Kurd conflict. From Joffe at antiwar.com:
Mainstream media are taking occasional breaks from 24/7 impeachment coverage this month to lambaste the Trump Administration for abandoning our Syrian Kurdish allies at the insistence of Turkey’s despotic rulers. Since the original withdrawal announcement, Administration policy has taken on a helter-skelter quality: rushing out sanctions, threatening airstrikes and deploying troops elsewhere in the Middle East. Ultimately Trump policies are producing more foreign adventurism and less freedom of commerce for American companies. But the original decision to pull out was the correct one, and consistent media criticism of the withdrawal often omits important facts that the American public needs to consider. Specifically:
- As a member of NATO since 1952, Turkey has been a US treaty ally for as long as most of us can remember; the Syrian Kurdish forces are not a recognized state and thus cannot be an ally, a term used in diplomatic parlance to refer to states formally cooperating with one another.
- The Syrian Kurdish forces are connected with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which was designated by the US State Department as a terrorist organization in 1997 and remains on the list in 2019.
Posted in Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, Military, War
Tagged Erdogan, Interventionism, Kurds, NATO, President Trump, Putin, Syria, Turkey