Potential Shifts on US Strategy in Syria

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The Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs is denying a Wall Street Journal report that claimed at least 1,000 US troops would remain in Syria. Gen. Joseph Dunford released a statement calling the claims “factually inaccurate” and assured the public of the Pentagon’s commitment to a steady withdrawal: “We continue to implement the president’s direction to draw down U.S. forces to a residual presence.” President Trump made waves across the national security community when he announced his original plan in December of the complete withdrawal of all 2,000 US troops from Syria. Later, the administration announced that 400 troops would most likely stay in southern Syria to monitor possible Iranian arms shipments to Lebanese-based terror groups such as Hezbollah. No specific estimates have been made as to the number of troops, although Pentagon officials have confirmed that any new amount will almost certainly will be lower. Although the President initially supported shifting troops from Syria to Iraq, concerns from Iraqi politicians about the US using its regional presence to spy on Iran have negated any support for such an initiative.

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Turkey: Putin’s Ally in NATO?

Turkey has NATO’s second biggest army, and its military love affair with Russia may be in its infancy now, but it undermines NATO’s military deterrence against Russia. Pictured: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, on March 10, 2017. (Image source: kremlin.ru)

 

  • On March 7, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey would never turn back from the S-400 missile deal with Russia. He even added that Ankara may subsequently look into buying the more advanced S-500 systems now under construction in Russia.
  • With the S-400 deal, Turkey is simply telling its theoretical Western allies that it views “them,” and “not Russia,” as a security threat. Given that Russia is widely considered a security threat to NATO, Turkey’s odd-one-out position inevitably calls for questioning its official NATO identity.
  • Turkey has NATO’s second biggest army, and its military love affair with Russia may be in its infancy now, but it undermines NATO’s military deterrence against Russia.

On September 17, 1950, more than 68 years ago, the first Turkish brigade left the port of Mersin on the Mediterranean coast, arriving, 26 days later, at Busan in Korea. Turkey was the first country, after the United States, to answer the United Nations’ call for military aid to South Korea after the North attacked that year. Turkey sent four brigades (a total of 21,212 soldiers) to a country that is 7,785 km away. By the end of the Korean War, Turkey had lost 741 soldiers killed in action. The U.N. Memorial Cemetery in Busan embraces 462 Turkish soldiers. Continue reading

“We Aren’t Slaves”: Erdogan Says Russian S-400s A “Done Deal”, Hints At Future S-500 Upgrade

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S-500 Air Defense System, which Erdogan said Turkey could upgrade to in the future, in defiance on Washington. Image via Military and Commercial Technology blog

 

“This is over” — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said this week as US Congress continues discussion and debate on holding up delivery of Lockheed-produced F-35 stealth jets purchased previously by Turkey due to Ankara’s intent to receive Russian S-400 anti-air defense systems from Russia. Continue reading

Intel: How Turkey is turning to Russia amid row with US over Syria

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R) and Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu give a joint press conference after their meeting in Moscow, Aug. 24, 2018. (KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)

 

The timing of the Turkish foreign minister’s unexpected phone call today with his Russian counterpart in the middle of US-Turkey talks on Syria is the latest sign that Washington and Ankara remain hopelessly at odds over how to move forward in the region.

Why it matters: Mevlut Cavusoglu’s call to Sergey Lavrov was made “upon the initiative of the Turkish side,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The Syria dossier topped the agenda. Continue reading

Turkey: Uniting an “Army of Islam” to Defeat Just One Country

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In 2016, Necati Yılmaz, an MP from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), submitted a written parliamentary motion to then-Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, questioning the activities and international connections of “SADAT International Defense Consultancy,” which is headed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s chief military advisor, Adnan Tanriverdi. Pictured: Necati Yılmaz. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

 

  • At the conference, Adnan Tanriverdi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s top military advisor, delivered a speech detailing the inner workings of the “Islamic Confederal State” that Tanriverdi’s Strategic Research Center for Defenders of Justice (ASSAM) aims to establish with 61 Muslim countries.
  • Judging by an article Tanriverdi penned in 2009, the purpose of this joint Islamic force is to defeat Israel, which “should be made to get engaged [in war] and the length of the war should be extended.”
  • Erdogan and his chief military advisor are obviously engaging in projection. It is Turkey that has ethnically cleansed itself of Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians, and that is now targeting Syrian Kurds. It is the Turkish government’s continued aggression against various peoples in Israel, Syria, Iraq, Cyprus and other countries that is a threat to world peace; not Israel. It is Turkey, not Israel, whose destabilizing foreign policy needs to change.

Istanbul recently hosted the second “International Islamic Union Congress,” sponsored mainly by the Strategic Research Center for Defenders of Justice (ASSAM), which is headed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s chief military advisor, Adnan Tanriverdi, a retired lieutenant general and an Islamist . Continue reading

Turkey To Receive Russian S-400 Delivery in July, Rejects US Patriot Systems Offer

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US Army’s Patriot Surface-to-Air missile system

 

Turkey is now venting its wrath as its F-35 standoff with Washington is thrust to the next level, and after Friday President Trump signed a spending bill that blocks further F-35 transfers until November 1st of 2019, which gives the White House a window of time to evaluate if Ankara will indeed move forward with transfer of Russia’s S-400 air defense system to Turkey. Amidst the Pastor Andrew Brunson detention affair which drew widespread media attention last summer Congressional leaders demanded that the over 100 Lockheed Martin-made F-35 stealth jets purchased by Turkey be blocked from delivery. Following Brunson’s release, the bigger security issue became Turkey’s seeking the S-400. Continue reading

Erdogan Says Venezuelan Gold Will Be Processed In Turkey

 

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday that Venezuelan gold would be processed in the Central Anatolian province of Çorum.

Speaking at a rally ahead of local elections on March 31, the president said Çorum would reach a new level in terms of gold trade amid reports that Venezuela sells most of its gold to Turkish refineries. Continue reading

Berlin hopes Mosque tax will give rise to ‘German Islam’

Since the 19th century, Germany’s Catholics and Protestants have paid church taxes in order to fund the churches and schools of their faith. Now, politicians in Europe’s largest country are considering extending the scheme to the Muslim population, as a way of reducing the influence of foreign countries and encouraging the growth of a “German Islam.”

A “mosque tax” would be modeled on the Kirchensteuer or “church tax” that is currently paid by more than half of all Germans, collected through the tax system, and distributed to Christian and Jewish organizations. It currently amounts to around 8-9% of a person’s salary. Continue reading

De-Dollarization Spreads: Why These 5 Nations Are Backing Away From The Buck

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The past year was full of events that inevitably split the global geopolitical space into two camps: those who still support using US currency as a universal financial tool, and those who are turning their back on the greenback.

Global tensions caused by economic sanctions and trade conflicts triggered by Washington have forced targeted countries to take a fresh look at alternative payment systems currently dominated by the US dollar. Continue reading

Soros foundation pulls out of Turkey

For more information on George Soros and his Open Society Foundations, please see the following links:

George Soros’ Key Wiki

George Soros’ Discover the networks

 

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Turkish authorities say the Open Society Foundations helped fund and organize the 2013 Gezi Park riots. / AFP / Getty Images

 

Leftist billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundations announced on Nov. 26 that it would cease operations in Turkey.

The foundation said “baseless claims” in the media “made it impossible” for it to carry out its work in Turkey. Continue reading

Russian South Stream 2.0 Comes Out of the Shadows

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Source: Kommersant

 

Russia and Turkey have announced that the two countries have reached significant progress in reviving the November 2014-shut down South Stream gas pipeline intended to land Russian gas across the Black Sea. The project is the part of the already secured open tender contracts for purchases of gas signed between Gazprom, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia and Austria.

The new Black Sea gas pipeline Turkish Stream will run under sea from Krasnodar to a landing hubv just west of Istanbul. On November 19, presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Istanbul to announce the completion of pipeline’s off-shore section. Continue reading

Saudi admission of Khashoggi death leaves turmoil in Riyadh, fallout on Saudi-US relations

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President Donald Trump saw this when he said: “Saudi Arabia has been a great ally, but what happened is unacceptable. It’s a big first step, only a first step.” He also announced he would work with Congress on the response.

There are too many fingers in the pie and open questions for the scandal to die down any time soon. For one, what happened to the body of the dead journalist? The Saudis now report that it was handed to an unnamed “local collaborator.” This mysterious person either got away, was smuggled out of Turkey by Saudi agents or is no longer alive. This may explain the sweep Turkish police have been conducting in the woods near the consulate and other parts of Istanbul. Continue reading

Neo-Ottomanism Surges in Middle East Politics

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The fate of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hangs in the balance. The common perception is that everything depends on which way President Donald Trump moves – go by his own preference to bury the scandal over Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance or give in to the rising demand that Saudi-American relations can no longer be business as usual. Trump’s mood swing suggests he is dithering. Continue reading

Putin forced by US, Turkey to shelve Idlib offensive

Russian President Vladimir Putin will receive Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan at Sochi on Monday for a final bid to get the joint Russian-Iranian-Syrian assault on Idlib, the last Syrian rebel holdout, underway. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that Putin was forced to back away from the operation last week when Turkey began delivering large quantities of heavy weapons to its proxy rebel groups in Idlib province. Continue reading

Meet Turkey’s New Sovereign Wealth Fund Chairman, Who Has “Now Taken Public Companies Prisoners”

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What does a man who already controls pretty much everything in his country  from politics to the judiciary to defense  give to himself? How about direct takeover of his country’s sovereign wealth fund?

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has appointed himself chairman of Turkey’s sovereign wealth fund after recent promises to exert greater influence over the economy. He’s nixed the old guard management and hand-picked their replacements, in a move his political rival, presidential candidate who lost the June election, Muharrem Ince, has aptly described as taking “public companies prisoners”.

And not to be one to break medieval sultanate tradition, he’s further named his son-in-law and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak as deputy chairman. Continue reading