Tag: turkey

US Senators: ‘No Doubt’ Crown Prince Involved in Khashoggi Killing

Eric Villarreal | United States

On Tuesday, in a closed-door meeting between the Central Intelligence Agency and top United States Senators, CIA Director Gina Haspel revealed new information that confirms the view of many US politicians who have long held that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman was involved in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Senator Lindsey Graham, who has been a close ally of President Trump, stated: “I went into the briefing believing it was virtually impossible for an operation like this to be carried out without the crown prince’s knowledge, I left the briefing with high confidence that my initial assessment of the situation was correct.” Graham further went on to say “Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally and the relationship is worth saving, but not at all costs”.

Graham then went on to say that the US would do more damage to its standing in the world and national security by ignoring the crown prince than by dealing with him. Graham added that he believes that the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia is at risk if Mohammed bin Salman remains as the heir apparent, implying that if there is not a shake-up in the Saudi government the alliance between the House of Saud and the United States could be coming to an end. Graham would not specify what evidence was presented but he did state that  “You can be assured it was thorough and the evidence is overwhelming.”

Senator Bob Corker who has been an outspoken Republican critic of the President echoed the statements from Graham stating there is no doubt that the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered, monitored, and planned the killing later adding “If he was in front of a jury he would be convicted in 30 minutes. “

All of these statements stand in stark contrast to the briefing last week from Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in which they stated that none of the intelligence suggested a direct connection between the Saudi Crown Prince and the order to kill Jamal Khashoggi. Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have long criticized President Trump for his ambivalence towards information from the CIA. Trump has stated that he believes the strategic relationship and weapons sales between the two countries are too valuable to put into jeopardy.

Senators Lindsey Graham(R-SC) and Bob Menendez(D-NJ) are the co-authors of a bill which would halt all weapons sales to Saudi Arabia as well as impose economic sanctions. It remains a possibility that this bill could be attached to the so-called the Yemen Resolution put forward by Bernie Sanders(I-VT) and Mike Lee(R-UT) which would end US support for the Saudi led fight against Houthi Rebels in Yemen. Members of Congress seem to have high hopes but with such a short time left in this session, it’s uncertain if they will be able to gain the support necessary to pass the resolution.


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The USA Cannot Let Turkey and Saudi Arabia Fall

Daniel Szewc | Poland

Many question the morality of the USA’s decision to maintain a strong relationship with the Republic of Turkey and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. How can the bastion of global democracy associate itself with a well-established theocracy, as well as what seems like one that poised to adopt a similar model? Geostrategy isn’t as simple as it may seem- one cannot only ally with whomever they deem as morally correct. This is most apparent during the geopolitical equivalents of tectonic shifts, ie wars- when new realities rise and fall so often. If ideology were the only factor, it is almost certain that the USSR and the Third Reich would never sign the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact. Thus, ideological barriers crumble even in cases of the most confirmed enemies, under the unstoppable forces that garner geopolitical interests of nations, in this case, the German and Soviet ones.

In the case of America and Turkey, there are two major reasons as to why they maintain a love-hate relationship. One of these reasons was what caused Russia to annex the Crimean peninsula- that is, the strategic advantages of holding the straits of Bosforus and Dardanelle, with Istanbul/historical Constantinople as the epicenter of political control of the region. If Turkey was to lose control of the city, Russia would fulfill its historical dream of becoming a naval AND Orthodox Christian supreme power by annexing Constantinople. Why? There are two reasons. The first is that Russia feels the moral obligation of restoring it’s religious capital, as the title of Tsar came from Imperial Russia roots are based in the tradition of Eastern Rome. Securing Constantinople would create a complete monopoly on Orthodoxy for Russia, which perfectly fits in with their pan-Slavic aspirations of the 19th century. It was this time in which Russia fought an exceptionally underestimated war with Turkey. The outcome of this war proved that Russia was for the first time capable of being taken down by a European power. Surprisingly, Turkey, being foreign in its culture and civilization to Europe received the support of Sardinia, the UK, and France during the Crimean war of 1853. A new threat to European imperialism emerged for with Constantinople, Russia would be able to partake in the colonization of Africa, having finally gained access to the Mediterranean, as well as potentially conquer Greece. Russian influence in the Mediterranean would allow them to control not only Austria’s trade through the Black Sea but also its access to trade in the Adriatic Sea. After crushing what was then the only strong Germanic state, Russia was uninhibited in its path to becoming the sole power of Europe… except for the Poles.

In contrast to Slovaks, Czechs, and Croats, Poles were the only people who felt even more violated by Russia than by Germanic nations. Of course, Russia tried to loosen its grip on the Poles after the Vienna Congress, thinking that stirring up pro-Russian sentiment was possible. Yet the Poles resisted, causing Russia to act self detrimentally, crushing rebellions and with them Russia’s chances of peacefully uniting all Slavs under one banner. The goal of uniting Slavic groups was becoming less and less possible, considering that what later became Austria-Hungary gave Galicia, a region which is now part of both Poland and Ukraine, extreme autonomy. This could have been done with the goal of dismantling Russia’s plans. While Poles fought against the potential threat of Russian dominance, Prussia grew in power, and with it, grew the UK’s safety from another invasion by France. At their own disadvantage, the British failed to consider that the Prussian identity was inherently against the last factor keeping Russia away from hegemony- the Second Reich also had an extreme anti-Polish set of policies. Although it seemed like a stronger Prussia was a potential safeguard against Russia.

Now, Turkey will have an even greater potential impact on Russia- the construction of the Istanbul Canal will finally make it possible for large navy vessels to enter the Black Sea, letting Russia’s soft underbelly to the East of Ukraine become an easy target for an American offensive. To be clear, it is not that America favors Turkey and its regime, which controls the straits, but just like it’s predecessors in marine power, France and the UK, it must secure access to the straits for its own gain. It is for this reason that the US is seeking to maintain a partnership with Turkey.

Yet how does America make sure that Turkey doesn’t become too strong? Using Saudi Arabia. With the house of Saud controlling what was formerly much of the South-East of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey is kept strong enough to disrupt Russia’s Mediterranean trade if necessary, whilst too weak to control the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. This, in turn, explains why the USA cannot let Saudi Arabia fail. If Saudi Arabia lost influence, Turkey would become too strong and could monopolise the West’s counter-influence to Iran and Russia.

For an insight into the struggle for world dominance between Russia, China, and the USA, I suggest these works:

Learn from China: How to Beat America

Cheating Destiny: The USA Can Beat China Using Russia

How China Overtook the USA Where The USSR Couldn’t

The Upcoming Revolution in Russian Geopolics


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The Paradox of Excessive Executive National Security

By Thomas Calabro | United States

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and American President Donald Trump have always had a somewhat similar style of government. One that supports law, justice, and order, attacks critics in the media, and constantly seeks to garner power for the president of the state. But should the news of Pastor Andrew Brunson be a wake up call to the President of the true nature of the fear tactic employed by both Turkey d the US? In other words, if approach to combat terrorism under the guise of security, were used against us, would we support that same approach, it’s ethics, or even it’s legality?

This comes as the evangelical pastor from North Carolina was sentenced to house arrest for supposedly aiding terrorist groups such as the one that is believed to have  a orchestrated the coup attempt in Turkey in 2016. After this attempt to oust Erdogan, the Presidency saw itself garner new powers, and attack enemies in the media all in the name of combating terrorism. Events that create this level of unsettlement in the civilians usually brings the debate to an emotional state where the environment of debate becomes more unstable, and hostile towards the ideas of freedom, liberty, and individuality. For the US, the September 11th attacks were a defining moment where Americans truly feared for their lives of terrorists, and in Trump’s case, the murder of Kate Steinle seemed to have had the impact of “proving” to Trump’s future supporters, the harsh rhetoric against immigrants. 

The environment in the debate on national security is one becoming less reliant on fact and logic, and grows based on emotion. While many do worry about the stability and security of the state, and it’s citizens, we must be able to acknowledge that leaders are more than willing to use compromising moments, that instill fear and anger, to grab new powers. In those moments when your emotions overwhelm you, authoritarians look to push you to make the decision to give them opportunities to “protect the nation.” Those who object are not seen as having legitimate concerns with the policies and what they entail, but are labeled and dismissed as naive and out of touch with reality. Some are even labeled as traitors, who wish to create chaos, and let the bad guys win.

President Trump’s attitude towards this approach shows a level of hypocrisy among statists who support fear-based power-grabs, until they are used against their own beliefs and values, and suddenly find themselves on the opposition. Trump doesn’t seem to like this approach when it affects an evangelical American, so why should we be surprised when others stand up against very similar treatments against other religious, ethnic, and cultural people.

Rather than accepting fear of others, and anger towards those who disagree, we should embrace the ability to use logic and reason to fully vet our government, our people, and those who are deemed as a threat. Even if the state properly exposes threats towards national security, we must still be able to keep our government, and its officials in check, and not simply accept everything they say because they are some benevolent entity that can run our lives, thoughts, and emotions better than we can.


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U.S. Works Diplomacy As Turks Attack Kurdish Afrin

Eli Ridder | SYRIA

The United States is working toward a diplomatic solution to stop the Turkish assault on the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin, an offensive criticized by Washington and Damascus and reportedly supported by Russia.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he recognized Ankara’s “legitimate” security concerns and right to defend its borders from terrorist threats but explained he was “concerned” about the Turkish offensive and urged all sides to show restraint.

“The U.S. is in Syria to defeat ISIS,” Tillerson said on Monday while in the British capital London, using another acronym for so-called Islamic State, as he began a meeting with his counterpart Boris Johnson.

“We’ve done that with a coalition of partners and the Syrian Democratic Forces, so we are concerned about the Turkish incidents in northern Syria.”

The Kurdish-led SDF are a key part of the U.S.-led coalition’s fight against Daesh (IS) in Syria and are now taking part in a training program for a border security force in the country’s north.

Following meetings with Russia, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would not back down from the original plan to oust Kurdish fighters from Afrin.

“We are determined, Afrin will be sorted out, we will take no step back,” Mr. Erdogan said in a televised speech, claiming that Ankara has reached an agreement with Moscow in regards to the situation.


The campaign continues

Capture..JPG
Map of Turkish invasion into Syria from Live AU Map.

Monday marked an intensifying third day in the Turkish campaign to push the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) 30 kilometers away from its southern border in an effort to create a “safe zone” protecting Turkey’s southern border.

State-run Anadolu reported on Monday that Turkish forces continued their shelling on Kurdish positions, an artillery barrage in support of Turkish and allied Free Syrian Army militia forces, a rebel group opposing the Syrian regime in Damascus.

Turkish warplanes struck Afrin’s strategic Bursaya Mountain while its armed ground forces advanced in the Azaz district, east of Afrin, according to the Turkish Anadolu news agency.

The latest casualty numbers list six civilians and three Kurdish fighters as dead, with the first Turkish troop death coming on Monday when the YPG retaliated by crossing the border into the Turkish province of Hatay, according to Anadolu.

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces also said they were considering sending forces to assist the YPG in fighting off Turkish and FSA forces. Washington is a close ally of the Kurdish-led and dominated SDF and the YPG.

Ankara considers Syrian Kurds to be associated with the terror Kurdistan Workers’ Party group in southeastern Turkey, which the Kurd’s vehemently deny in an assertion Washington backs.


Video: Turkey launches offensive

Video from Al Jazeera news agency: 71 Republic takes no credit for this video.


Image of Rex Tillerson from Business Insider.

 

 

Why Must Police and DEEP Officials Flex Their Muscles on a Beloved Local Animal?

Ryan Lau|[USA]

Enter Old Wethersfield, Connecticut, and you may see it as not unlike many other New England towns. Though the picturesque multicolored leaves, quaint little shops and businesses, and beautiful 17th century architecture may not be unique, one thing surely is.

For several months, a magnificent and friendly turkey, named Kevin, roamed around in downtown Old Wethersfield, with a particular propensity for the areas in and around Main and Maple Street. The bird brought thousands of dollars into the town, with many local shops creating and selling his merchandise. He also served as a means to unify Wethersfield and surrounding towns in love for him, with a 5,452 member strong Facebook group “FANS OF THE WETHERSFIELD TURKEY” dedicated to his daily activities. In his time in Wethersfield, Kevin was always courteous to the public, approaching but never attacking a single person.

So, all seems well and fine, right? Wrong. Just Wednesday morning, Wethersfield Police officers, as well as the Connecticut State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), took the town’s beloved bird and forcibly relocated him to Algonquin Forest in the remote town of Colebrook, CT. Simply put, justifications for such an action were pitiful and unjust.

In an interview with the Hartford Courant, DEEP spokesman Chris Collibee declared that “Kevin travels through a highly populated area and had posed a hazard to himself and others, necessitating his relocation”. Using this as the baseline for his capture, it is apparent that the government simply did not want to permit Kevin to stay in his natural habitat, as none of these statements are remotely close to veritable. In fact, there are four segments to the statement, all four of which are deeply flawed.

As a precursor to the statement, Collibee remarked that Kevin travels through a particularly populated area. He makes this statement with no context, and in fact, the intelligent animal has learned over time to make his habitat in less and less populated areas. This March, at his first sighting, Kevin was spotted on Route 3 (Maple Street), which admittedly is a busy road. Despite this initial sighting, Kevin did not remain in this area. By September, his primary habitat was on Main Street in Old Wethersfield, which receives significantly less traffic, save those interested in coming to visit the animal. Since then, he has further relocated to the more animal-friendly Cove Park, nesting in a nearby tree in a local restaurant. Clearly, for whatever reason, safety-related or otherwise, Kevin consistently seeks out less and less populated areas, which further ensures his safety.

Following the fallacious introduction, Collibee then proceeded to claim that Kevin was a danger to both himself and to others, which necessitates removal. This is a perplexing statement that shows an embarrassing level of incompetency by a state official. The only danger that Kevin could possibly cause to himself would be getting hit by a car. Yet, his natural thought to move to areas with progressively fewer and fewer cars shows that clearly, the danger to himself is being drastically reduced over time.

Furthermore, this tendency to move away from population centers subsequently reduces the risk of harm to others. While it is true that Kevin does have a habit of entering the streets, in nine months of calling Wethersfield his home, the bird has not caused a single accident. The only negative effects have been minute long delays to allow the innocent town celebrity to cross the road in peace. If this is the case, then what could possibly be the necessary fact for his removal? Anyone can cause harm to themselves or others at any time, yet anytime this potentiality exists, we do not simply remove the risk from society and isolate it in an area far from its home. Kevin’s perfect track record shows that he is no more of a threat than anyone else, and in fact has caused fewer accidents than the average human driving a car. Given this information, there is absolutely no reason to suggest that Kevin, the beloved town mascot, has posed a major threat to Wethersfield. Thus, there were no benefits to his removal. In fact, there were a number of detriments.

First of all, Kevin served as an economic spike to a town that otherwise would not have been particularly outstanding in gross output. Throughout Wethersfield and neighboring New Britain, many stores sold calendars, Christmas ornaments, posters, magnets, shirts, glasses, yard signs, and countless other forms of merchandise honoring the bird, who became a sort of a town mascot. The Old Wethersfield County Store sold upwards of $2,000 worth of Kevin-themed calendars alone. Though no data is directly available for the bird’s direct economic impact, it is indubitably tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in a short nine months, due to all of the stores’ Kevin gear.

To further assess the growth, one must assess his lure to the town. Throughout these nine months, individuals from all over the state have come to the town in the hopes of getting a glimpse of the famous animal. As more people are attracted to an area, there will naturally be more money spent in that area on all items, whether it be food, clothing, gas, or any other necessity. Kevin was a friendly lure for natural business to the old town.

I have had the privilege of approaching Kevin, who is pictured above, on numerous occasions, and during them, he showed no signs of aggression, despite the nearly constant paparazzi that congregated around him. Though I got within a couple of feet of the bird, he minded his own business, merely clucking happily a couple of times and looking towards the camera. As nearly every passing car slowed and rolled down their window, I heard excited shouts of “Hey, it’s Kevin!” and “Kevin for mayor!” Throughout the area, he became a beloved figure, though it did not stop the government from coldly taking him away from his home, where a number of townspeople regularly fed him and provided him with water. By taking away Central Connecticut’s favorite bird seemingly unnecessarily, they have robbed a town of a source of joy and unity. We want our bird back.