Tag Archives: Turkey

NATO appoints Turkey to lead drive into the Middle East and Asia, by Rick Rozoff

NATO’s goal is to disrupt the Chinese-Russian led Eurasian Axis, and Turkey is well positioned to be a disruptive force. From Rick Rozoff at antibellum679354512.wordpress.com:

On the first of the year the North Atlantic Treaty Organization transferred command of the NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) to Turkey.

On March 30 NATO turned over its current mission in Afghanistan to Turkish Brigadier General Selçuk Yurtsizoğlu.

In a phone conversation on April 1 U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar discussed Turkey’s role in leading the NATO Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan among other matters.

Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken while both were attending the NATO meeting of foreign ministers and secretaries on March 23-24. (Blinken on the occasion: “Turkey is a long-standing and valued ally.”)

Speaking at an event in the U.S. on March 9 NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: “I think that we need to understand that Turkey is an important ally. Because you can just look at the map and then you see that Turkey is extremely important.” [That final sentence is key and will be addressed later.]

A few days earlier Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wrote on Twitter, “We would like to thank the NATO Secretary General for his objective evaluations on Euro-Atlantic security and defence matters.”

This is notwithstanding Turkey having supported and supervised if not directed last year’s 45-day war by Azerbaijan – the countries identify themselves (or itself) as “one nation, two states” – against minuscule Nagorno-Karabakh, its invasion of Northern Iraq thirteen years ago, its ongoing proxy war in Libya, its both direct and proxy war in Syria, its regular buzzing of fellow NATO member Greece’s aircraft in the Aegean Sea and its – now at 43 years – longest counterinsurgency war in the world against ethnic Kurds in its own country (which has spilled over into Iraq and Syria.) None of that in any manner disturbs NATO, the self-styled alliance of democracies.

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Ten Years Since Beginning of Failed Regime-Change Operation Against Syria, by Paul Antonopoulos

When does a long war become a forever war? A decade seems like a good dividing line. From at antiwar.com:

The initial coalition against Syria has collapsed, with Turkey frustrated over the U.S.’ sustained support for the Kurds and the Arabs pivoting back to Syria.

On this exact day ten years ago, NATO, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Turkey and Israel began a coordinated campaign of regime change against President Bashar al-Assad and the destruction of Syria. This has led to the death of over 500,000 people, millions of refugees, destroyed infrastructure and an economy in crisis. Despite numerous political maneuvers, this alliance against Syria catastrophically failed and could not achieve regime change. Not only did Assad survive the onslaught, but the geopolitical situation dramatically changed as a result.

Each aggressor had its own ambitions in Syria but was united in the goal to achieve regime change. Thanks to the contributions made by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, the Syrian government survived the coordinated aggression. Whilst NATO and Turkey continue to insist on regime change, Arab states, most prominently Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, were forced to normalize their relations with Syria to counter the growing threat of Turkish expansionism and influence into the Arab World that they had not anticipated when they decided to destroy Syria ten years ago.

Although a U.S.-dominated unipolar system was consolidated with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia’s 2008 intervention to defend the de facto republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia against NATO-encouraged Georgian forces was the first sign of an emerging multipolar system. A multipolar system, where there is a more equal distribution of power compacted into spheres of influence, was strengthened whilst the US could only helplessly watch as Russia successfully defended South Ossetia and Abkhazia in a region that falls under Moscow’s sphere of influence.

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US Goes to Economic War Against NATO Ally Turkey: Time for a Civil Divorce? by Doug Bandow

NATO lost its reason for being when the Soviet Union collapsed, and so too did the rationale for Turkey’s membership. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

The Turkish-American marriage, solemnized by Ankara’s accession to NATO in 1952, is on the rocks. The partners were ill-matched from the beginning but stayed together so long as the Soviet threat loomed and the Turkish military was in charge.

The Evil Empire, as Ronald Reagan characterized it, disappear more than three decades ago. Nearly two decades of rule by Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) have transformed Turkey. In Abraham Lincoln’s enduring words, the resulting “passion” has strained the “bonds of affection” between the two nations to the breaking point and perhaps beyond. The incoming Biden administration should stop treating Ankara as an ally and instead recognize it as the independent and often hostile power that it has become.

Tensions have long been evident. Although the AKP’s triumph in 2003 was not welcomed by Washington, which had grown comfortable with the secular nationalists who dominated Turkish politics and the generals who stood behind them, he began cautiously, using domestic liberal and foreign, especially European, support to dismantle the military-first regime. Erdogan’s early reforms won backing even from academics and feminists, who found his government more open than the ruthless nationalists replaced by the AKP. However, his professed retreat from Islamism and support for democracy was always suspect, and within a decade he acted on very different ideas.

Over time he centralized power, pushed aside old colleagues, concocted fantastic conspiracy charges against perceived enemies, deployed state agencies against opposition businessmen, detained journalists, seized critical media, arrested political opponents, and ousted opposition officials on dubious charges. He also variously used Islamism and nationalism to win increasingly unfair elections. The attempted 2016 coup became his Reichstag fire, allowing him to arrest around 100,000 people, most on contrived, often risible charges; 150,000 more were fired from public and private jobs. Hundreds of banks, businesses, schools, and other organizations were closed or confiscated.

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‘Like Horse-Mounted Cavalry Against Tanks’, by Scott Ritter

The future of warfare will involve drones, and Turkey has some of the world’s best. From Scott Ritter at RT News via lewrockwell.com:

From Syria to Libya to Nagorno-Karabakh, this new method of military offense has been brutally effective. We are witnessing a revolution in the history of warfare, one that is causing panic, particularly in Europe.

In an analysis written for the European Council on Foreign Relations, Gustav Gressel, a senior policy fellow, argues that the extensive (and successful) use of military drones by Azerbaijan in its recent conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh holds “distinct lessons for how well Europe can defend itself.” 

Gressel warns that Europe would be doing itself a disservice if it simply dismissed the Nagorno-Karabakh fighting as “a minor war between poor countries.” In this, Gressel is correct – the military defeat inflicted on Armenia by Azerbaijan was not a fluke, but rather a manifestation of the perfection of the art of drone warfare by Baku’s major ally in the fighting, Turkey. Gressel’s conclusion – that “most of the [European Union’s] armies… would do as miserably as the Armenian Army” when faced by such a threat – is spot on.

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Short Armenia vs Azerbaijan war update, by the Saker

The situation is getting both worse and more complicated. From the Saker at thesaker.is:

As was predicted by many, in spite of the agreement signed in Moscow, thing on the ground in the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan  have escalated: the Armenians have claimed that Azeri drones have attacked Armenian tactical ballistic missiles on Armenian soil and the Azeris have confirmed this, saying that this was both a warning and a preemptive attack to protect Azeri civilians.

Bottom line is this: Azerbaijan has now officially attacked Armenian soil (as opposed to Karabakh soil) and Armenia now has the right to appeal to the CSTO.  So far, the Armenians have not done so, but now they can and, I believe, probably will do so.

Another interesting development is that the USA has accused Turkey of being involved in this war.  This means that by now all three countries Russia, France and the USA are now declaring that the Turks (and or their “good terrorist” proxies from Syria) are involved.  Aliev is outraged and accused everybody of lying.

Finally, Azeri and Turkish outlets have claimed the Kurds are now fighting on the Armenian side.  However, there have been no verifiable sources for this probably false rumor.

As for the Armenian leader Pashinian, he has accused Aliev of being “Hitler”.

What does all this mean?

Well, for one thing, it was inevitable that the very first ceasefire agreement would be broken.  In such situations, they typically are.

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Driven By Delusions: The West’s Nagorno-Karabakh Hypocrisy, by Danny Sjursen

What’s at stake in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

Something stands out in recent U.S. and most Western reporting on the ongoing bloodletting in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK). Well, two things actually: ignorance and hypocrisy. Having shuttered most of their foreign bureaus long ago, there’s a distinct lack of expertise in the mainstream press on this – and many other – regional hot spots. That’s translated to a series of Nagorno-Karabakh “explainers” that read like Wikipedia-ripoffs hastily filtered through Washington’s built-in “blame Russia” conflict-colander.

Peddling in platitudes, they assume binaries that aren’t and Russian aggression that isn’t. All the while missing the core cause of this far worse than standard flare-up along the unmonitored Azeri-Armenian “line of contact.” In other words, the Erdogan elephant in the regional room. High-intensity air and armored combat has entered its tenth day, with little sign of abatement. Hundreds have been killed, including civilians, and major cities shelled, along with credible and corroborated reports that Turkey has indeed shipped in Ankara-paid Syrian mercenaries to support the Azeri army.

In other words, while the current conflict has largely local roots, and is prolonged by subpar political leaders on both sides of the frontlines, the real inciter this time around is Turkey. That is, the violence is heightened and widened by a NATO member state that’s led by an ethno-national-chauvinist president who’s stretched that alliance’s ostensible purpose and utility well past breaking point.

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U.S. Weighs Into Mediterranean Tensions With Weapons and Hypocrisy, by the Strategic Culture Editorial Board

The U.S. government is once again sticking its nose into a situation it doesn’t really belong. From the Strategic Culture Editorial Board at strategic-culture.org:

Twice in the past week, the United States has clumsily weighed into mounting tensions in the East Mediterranean between Greece and Turkey.

First, Washington announced last weekend the opening of a maritime security base on the island state of Cyprus, which is allied with Greece. Then the U.S. followed up by formally clearing the way to send weapons to Cyprus, ending a 33-year arms embargo. Washington claims the arms are “non-lethal”, but we have seen that semantic ruse played before with regard to U.S. weaponizing Ukraine and other places. Never mind the hairsplitting, the move is a military involvement whichever way it’s presented.

Both U.S. moves have infuriated Turkey, which lies to the north of Cyprus and which maintains territorial claims over the northern part of the island populated by Turkish-Cypriots. The main part of the island, the Republic of Cyprus, is historically aligned with Greece. Cyprus became divided in 1974 after Turkey invaded following a coup led by the Greek military. The territory has been a source of tensions ever since and a recurring cause for confrontation between Greece and Turkey over competing claims.

This year tensions have flared up again over disputed rights to oil and gas exploration in the East Mediterranean Sea. The area is reckoned to be rich in untapped hydrocarbon resources. There are even fears of a military confrontation escalating between patrolling Greek and Turkish navy vessels.

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Turkey Hit By Bank Runs, Currency Panic As Locals Sell Their Cars And Houses To Buy Gold While Lira Implodes, by Tyler Durden

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.

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European Union: The End? by Judith Bergman

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.

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World How Turkey Lost a Battle of Wills, and Force, to Russia, by Scott Ritter

The ceasefire in Syria allows Turkey to save face, but make not mistake, Russia has won decisively. From Scott Ritter at theamericanconservative.com:

Erdogan talked tough, but in the end had to surrender gains to Moscow and Damascus.

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and President of Russia Vladimir Putin (R) shake hands at the end of a joint news conference following an inter-delegation meeting at Kremlin Palace in Moscow, Russia on March 5, 2020. (Photo by Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

When the history of the Syrian conflict is written, the fighting that took place between the Syrian Army and its allies on the one side, and the Turkish military and Turkish-backed Syrian rebels on the other, from early February through early March 2020 in and around the Syrian town of Saraqib, will go down as one of the decisive encounters of that war.

Representing more than a clash of arms between the Syrian and Turkish militaries, the Battle for Saraqib was a test of political will between Turkish President Recep Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. History will show Turkey lost on both accounts.

The Battle for Saraqib had its roots in fighting that began back in December 2019, in the form of an offensive carried out by the Syrian Army, supported by the Russian Air Force, against pro-Turkish opposition forces in and around Idlib province. The Syrian-Russian offensive represented the collapse of the so-called Sochi Agreement of September 17, 2018, which established what were known as “de-escalation zones” separating the Syrian Army from anti-government rebel forces in Idlib. As part of the Sochi Agreement, Turkey set up a dozen “observation posts”—in reality, fortified compounds housing several hundred troops and their equipment—throughout the Idlib de-escalation zone.

In exchange for legitimizing the existence of fortified Turkish observation posts, the Sochi Agreement mandated specific actions on Turkey’s part, including overseeing the establishment of a “demilitarized zone” within the de-escalation zone where tanks, artillery and multiple rocket launchers were to be excluded, and from which all “radical terrorist groups” would be removed by October 15, 2018. Moreover, Turkey was responsible for restoring transit traffic on two strategic highways linking the city of Aleppo with Latakia (the M4 highway) and Damascus (the M5 highway.)

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