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New Poll Shows Republicans Losing Voter-Base

Eric Zuesse

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The Morning Consult poll released on March 30th headlines “Republicans Drive Biggest Decline in Voter Optimism since Trump Took Office: Record drop isn’t matched by a similar decrease in president’s approval rating.”

The U.S. budget-bill and its soaring federal deficits and debt, are driving this, as I pointed out on March 23rd, but I was mistaken at that time to interpret the data as showing more of a Republican disenchantment with Trump than a Republican disenchantment with congressional Republicans. It now seems clear that Republican voters aren’t moving away from Trump; they’re instead moving away from the Republican Party. Basically, there are as many Republicans as before, but their intensity of support for their Party is diminishing, and this declined voter-intensity will probably show up in November’s elections by a decreased voter-turnout at the polls in the mid-term elections.

The just-released MC poll was taken during 26-27 March, which was after my analysis on March 23rd, “Trump’s Base Abandoning Him”, had pointed out (correctly) that, “Increasing the size of the U.S. Government’s debt is, to Trump’s main base of political support (as reflected by the biggest online news-site that informs his electoral following), absolutely unacceptable. … The federal-debt issue is killing Trump politically. His voters don’t much care whether he starts World War III by his respecting and appointing such people as the super-neoconservative John Bolton. Bolton’s being loathed by ‘The libbys’ (liberals) convinces Trump’s followers that Bolton is ‘the right man for the job.’ By stark contrast, they’re rabid against Trump’s signing the Government’s budget bill. And, to them, that’s a much bigger issue than whether there will soon be a WW III.”

They’re not angry against Trump on account of their opposition to the soaring federal debt, such as I had inferred; they are instead blaming their Party for it.

Is Trump, consequently, like Reagan was, “the Teflon President”? Or, perhaps, instead, a tendency might exist for any authoritarian political party (such as Trump’s Republican Party, and also Clinton’s Democratic Party) to avoid despising its leader, regardless of how bad he or she might actually be (in this case, bad enough, even in the view of increasing numbers of Republicans, so as for Trump’s followers to start acknowledging that even when their Party controls all branches of the government, such as now, things become yet more “wrong track” than they had been before). After all: in authoritarianism, all praise goes upward to the leader, and all blame goes downward to the followers, and that’s exactly what’s now happening. Trump is home-free because he’s the leader, so only congressional Republicans receive their voters’ blame. (Perhaps, if Hillary Clinton were President, congressional Democrats would be the ones feeling the heat, as much as congressional Republicans are now. American voters were given a real choice only between two unappealing options, and the outcome could just as well have been determined by a coin-toss.)

Whereas Trump infuriated his base on March 23rd by saying he’d sign the budget-bill, Republicans are overwhelmingly blaming congressional Republicans, instead of blaming the Republican President, for this outcome, which so depresses Republicans.

The MC poll shows that among Republicans (including Trump’s core base): “there was a 22 point negative swing on the right direction/wrong track question, with 64 percent of Republicans saying the country is moving in the right direction and 36 percent taking the opposing view. In the March 15-19 survey, 75 percent of GOP voters were optimistic and 25 percent were pessimistic.” That’s a sudden +11% surge in national pessimism, and a sudden -11% plunge in national optimism, among Republicans, which, together, has produced a 22% swing amongst Republicans toward the pessimism-direction. (By contrast, “Among Democrats, net approval of the nation’s direction in the latest poll slid 8 points, while independents had a 14 point decline.” Those figures are obviously much smaller than the 22% decline amongst Republicans. Right after the budget-bill which so disturbed the Republican base, their national optimism plunged from 75/25 optimism, a 3-to-1 ratio, to 64/36 optimism, a 1.78-to-1 ratio — a huge and sudden fall — and the simultaneous appointment of the hyper-neoconservative Bolton had nothing to do with any decline of support from Trump’s base. But the soaring federal debt definitely does.

The Morning Consult article also says, “This time around, though, public opinion and political experts interviewed on Thursday struggled to reach consensus on why voter optimism declined so significantly.” In my March 23rd article, I had explained it on the basis of key data: the massive swing was amongst core Trump-supporters, because they are enraged that their Party is causing the federal debt to soar, which is thus clearly the biggest issue among Trump’s base. But are they really blaming only their members of Congress for that? They’re not at all blaming their Republican President? Seems so, on the basis of the data.

The Morning Consult article then provided analysis from some of those “political experts”: for example, “Henry Olsen, senior fellow at the conservative Ethics & Public Policy Center, said the drop could be attributed to volatility in the stock market or recent developments regarding a potential conflict with North Korea.” However, according to my methodology — and no methodology was provided for Olsen’s analysis — neither of those factors shows in any data as being even relevant. However, I was wrong to have assumed that Republicans would blame the President instead of their Party. Here is how this absolution of Trump for the Republican core’s rage shows in these latest two MC polls:

Looking more deeply into the latest Morning Consult poll: Amongst Republicans, job-approval for Trump is 45% “Strongly Approve” (and this 45% of Republicans would constitute yet another measure of his voter-base, as consisting now of 45% of Republicans) and 36% “Somewhat Approve”; while 10% “Somewhat Disapprove” and 7% “Strongly Disapprove.” The total Republican electorate is the group which includes his voting-base, and his voting-base is measured either by that currently 45%, or else by the readers at Breitbart News — which latter group can reasonably be assumed to be even higher “Strongly Approve” than is the 45% of Republican voters who show up in MC’s “Strongly Approve” column for Trump. By comparison against that 45%: The second-highest-approving group for Trump that was tabulated by Morning Consult was “Conservative” at 38%; the third-highest was tied between “Evangelical” and “Retired,” both at 31% “Strongly Approve”; and the fourth-highest was “Rural” at 27%. So, clearly, Trump’s voter-base is mainly Republicans — even more than it’s conservatives, or evangelicals, or retireds, or rural voters. (Democrats, therefore, would be, at the very opposite extreme: progressives, seculars, young, and urban. Those are the weakest groups for Trump.)

In the immediately-prior MC poll, on 15-19 March, Republicans’ job-approval for Trump was 48% “Strongly Approve” and 33% “Somewhat Approve”; while 7% were “Somewhat Disapprove” and 9% were “Strongly Disapprove.” So: in the interim between these two pollings, the “Strongly Approve” went down, -3% from 48%, and the “Strongly Disapprove” also went down, -2% from 9%; and this simultaneous decline at both ends of intensity, means that amongst Republicans, sentiments regarding Trump’s Presidency are moving toward lowered intensity. Though overall there was 81% approval of Trump by Republicans in both of the pollings, Republicans are now less intense than they previously had been regarding Trump.

Inasmuch as the main impact is therefore against congressional Republicans, and those are the very people who are running in the mid-term elections, this is yet another indication that the Democratic Party stands a chance of retaking either or both the House and the Senate. (Unless, of course, the anti-Bernie-Sanders — pro-Hillary-Clinton — Democratic Party faction continues its control of that Party so much so that voter-turnout on the Democratic side becomes likewise depressed in November — which could happen; it might even be likely to happen, because the Clintonites won the battle for the DNC’s leadership after Hillary’s defeat; they’re even especially seeking out candidates from the military.)

The Breitbart homepage on March 30th was dominated not by stories about the soaring federal debt (which the readers there are more concerned about than they are about any other issue), but by stories about gun-control

, though with sprinklings of other targets of hostility from conservatives, such as against prominent Democrats, and such as against perceived threats or dangers to Christianity in America. Whereas Democratic Party propaganda focuses on minorities and women as being victims, Republican Party propaganda focuses on the majority and men as being victims. The two Parties label opposite ends of the political power-structure as ‘victims’, which are being characterized, as such, depending not on economic class, but instead upon such factors as gender and ethnicity.

Both Parties focus away from economic class as being an issue, and make their voter-appeals on the basis of other factors, such as race, religion, gender, etc., in order to keep the focus away from the money-power matter — the aristocracy’s control over the country.

This is the standard way for political parties to operate. For thousands of years, partisan (cultural and gender) differences have been the way the aristocracy — the 0.01% who own more than the bottom 50% and who always fund politics — get each “I” among the public (the bottom 99.9%) to self-identify, so as to blame some “non-I” category (men, women, Whites, Blacks, etc.), instead of to blame the aristocracy, for any problems the particular “I” might have. The rulers’ purpose is to prevent their accountability — for each citizen, all blame will go either sideways, or else downward to that individual’s ‘inferiors’; and all credit will go only upward, to the person’s ‘superiors’. For examples of this: both Bush and Obama are viewed merely as former Presidents, instead of as also having been traitors; and both Charles Koch and George Soros are seen merely as successful businessmen and “philanthropists,” instead of as top gangsters, who shape and bend the laws, instead of merely break the laws. That’s normal.

Especially worthy of note is that the Breitbart site — where, on March 23rd, it was clear that the overwhelming concern of Republican voters is the federal debt — the response from Republican propagandists has been to turn away from the Government-debt issue, into strictly partisan issues, instead: that is, into, basically, distractions. Democratic Party propagandists, likewise, use this tactic, on their side (its Hillary faction especially does; its Bernie faction, which doesn’t control the Party, does not, but instead focuses on class-issues — and it loses because the aristocracy don’t want that type of political focus).

By thus confusing and distracting the voters, the same Establishment continues to rule, regardless of which of the two Parties is in control. Thus, for example, Americans went from invading and occupying Iraq for the U.S. aristocracy in 2003, to invading Libya for the U.S. aristocracy in 2011, and to invading and occupying Syria for the U.S. aristocracy since 2012, and increasingly to surrounding Russia by our weapons and troops (in Ukraine and in NATO) for the U.S. aristocracy, thus constantly all the while militarizing the U.S. economy. So long as the voters remain distracted and split by nationalistic or other partisan concerns, the Government remains the same, and it effectively controls the public (and public policy), in the ways (such as militarizing the economy) that the people who are in actual control require the public to be controlled, in America’s ‘democracy’. It’s like a guided economy, but the real “guides” are billionaires, instead of Government officials (who actually are indirectly being paid by, and serving, those “guides”).

For at least thousands of years, the aristocracy have commonly controlled the public by spreading dissension amongst the public, and especially by demonizing the residents (and especially the leadership) in a foreign territory that the given aristocracy wants to grab: ‘the nation’s enemies’. (For example, the Sauds and Israel’s aristocracy are America’s ‘allies’, while Iran’s and Russia’s are America’s ‘enemies’.) It’s the same now, as ever. In such a country, there’s no change, but there instead is ‘change’. So: usually, the ‘change’-candidate wins. And the more that things ‘change’, the more they just stay the same. And voters consequently become increasingly alienated from ‘their’ government, because it’s not really theirs. That’s what’s actually happening, to America, as shown by the relevant data.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010

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Typhoons and this Week’s Typhoon of Sex Abuse

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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Hurricane Florence downgraded to Category 1 but still huge in moisture content will continue to pour rain on Georgia and the Carolinas over the weekend.  At the same time, Typhoon Mangkhut in the Pacific will be ravaging the Philippines, Hong Kong and China.  It is larger and much more powerful, a category 5, and the Philippines, which lacks the infrastructure and resources of the others, is expected to suffer the worst.

Meanwhile another typhoon of sorts is hitting the U.S.   Powerful men topple as women shame them through the #MeToo movement.  The latest is Leslie Moonves the head of CBS one of the major U.S. TV networks.  Apparently, Mr. Moonves had the habit of forcing himself, his attentions and his anatomy on vulnerable young females working for him.

This particular typhoon has now enveloped Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the new Supreme Court nominee who would have shifted the court decisively to the right.  A letter has appeared and forwarded to the FBI for further investigation.  It recalls a high school incident over which the other party wishes to remain anonymous.  Is this the beginning of the end for Mr. Kavanaugh?  One never knows.  Justice Thomas survived some very troubling appalling allegations by Anita Hill.  She has been chosen now to lead the recently formed Hollywood Commission on Harassment.

Ants in the pants or in this case the cassock are in the news once again.  In Germany, some 1670 Catholic priests committed some form of sex abuse on 3677 minors between 1940 and 2014; so finds a study commissioned by the church.  One in six cases involved rape.  The authors noted the figures and the extent of the abuse may be higher as some records had been “destroyed or manipulated”.  The work was extensive enough that three German universities participated in the study, which examined 38,000 documents obtained from 27 German dioceses.

The state of Kerala, home to one of the largest Christian populations in India, has seen protests by nuns and their supporters over the rape of a nun by a bishop.  The nun lodged a formal complaint with the police on June 27 claiming abuse by Bishop Franco Mullackal over two years.  So far no action by the police, who pushed from both sides probably wish the whole issue would disappear.  As she made the complaint after the bishop went to the police claiming she and five other nuns were harassing and blackmailing him, some politicians have questioned her account.

Yet former nuns have previously raised the question of a climate of sexual abuse in the Kerala Catholic Church.  Babies born from such liaisons are often murdered says former Sister Mary who now runs an orphanage.  She saved one such child from the mother, a nun, who was trying to kill the newborn by drowning it in a toilet tank.  “That boy is a student who lives the life of an orphan,” she adds.  She thinks priests should be allowed to marry.  Then there is another former nun, Sister Jesme, who wrote openly about sexual abuse in her book, “Amen:  The Autobiography of a Nun” after she left her Catholic order.  She has severed all ties.

Add the abuse of boys by a charismatic priest in Chile, and we have news stories covering four continents just this week alone.  That the Catholic church needs an overhaul, at least in this respect, must be clear to the pope and his advisers.  Of course medical science now allows chemical castration, a reversible process.  And then there is marriage as the good sister suggests.

The sexual exploitation of the weak and vulnerable by the powerful transgresses religious and secular boundaries.  Not for nothing is ‘the director’s couch’ a metaphor.  The fault in the end lies with society, and a pervasive ‘wink and nod’ corporate culture that often still prevails.

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Fear in the White House and Trump’s Foreign Policy

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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The sensation this week is Bob Woodward’s book on the Trump White House titled, “Fear:  Trump in the White House.”  It shows a President Trump universally disparaging his own White House staff, even cabinet members.  His first Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is likened to a rat, “He just scurries around.”  Attorney General Jeff Sessions is, “mentally retarded.  He’s this dumb Southerner.  He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama”.  To commence Secretary Wilbur Ross:  “You’re past your prime.”  He could well be, otherwise he would have resigned following such a clear and direct indication of no confidence.

As can be expected such ‘favors’ are reciprocated.  Thus Chief of Staff John Kelly, “We’re in Crazytown.”  He is alleged also to have called President Trump an “idiot’ repeatedly.  Defense Secretary James Mattis told an aide that Trump understands foreign policy at the level of a “fifth or sixth grader”.  Of course, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was once quoted in news reports as calling Trump “a f****ing moron”.

All of which serves as an introduction for a quick look at Trump’s foreign policy.  To say it is unorthodox is to minimize the upending of the status quo ante.  He has simultaneously angered European allies, Canada and Mexico, threatened trade war with China and broken the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement with Iran.  He has embraced Israel’s Netanyahu in the tightest hug seen, moving the U .S. embassy to Jerusalem — the sole major power to do so — and dumping the Palestinians in a garbage bin of misery by cutting US funding for their UN Relief and Works Agency lifeline.

His reflexive attack on Syria following a chemical attack in the country established a trigger-happy Trump reputation, which might paradoxically have helped negotiations with North Korea.  Tensions have subsided following the summit and the North Koreans have dismantled nuclear testing facilities, although it would be naive to imagine they will give up nuclear weapons.  The ambiguity of informal promises continues to cause mild acrimony.

Mr. Trump is not getting a new wall from Mexico but a new NAFTA has been agreed upon pending Canada’s decision.  The White House says it will continue talks with its northern neighbor.  The issues with Canada are of course different from Mexico.

For several decades, Donald Trump has been accusing America’s allies notably the major European powers and Japan of getting a free ride on defense while they focus their resources on improving their own quality of life.  He wants Europeans to abide by the NATO stated goal of spending at least 2 percent of GDP on defense.  A  majority now have plans to do so by 2024.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has neatly side-stepped a trade war.  As early as April 2018, he showed a willingness to compromise, pledging to reduce barriers to foreign investment in his country.  Meanwhile, more tariffs escalating tensions continue to be imposed by both sides as trade negotiations continue and China enjoys a huge trade surplus.

The wily Vladimir Putin manages to maintain good relations with countries that are sworn enemies to each other, for example Israel and Iran.  He is selling arms to NATO member Turkey and he has had a friendly summit with Mr. Trump … plus he is getting his own way in Syria.

So the report card on Trump’s foreign policy?  He is being taken seriously by his allies as he continues to be outflanked by China and Russia.

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Tussle between America and Turkey: The Whole Story

Michael Samuel

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An economic tussle between the US and Turkey has heightened over the past few months. Both countries are continuously imposing sanctions to paralyze each other economically. But why they are doing so? First of all, we have to keep in view the main reasons behind this tussle.

This tussle started after failed coup attempt by the Turkish Army on July 15, 2016 on which, a week after, Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for failed bloody coup attempt to topple Erdogan’s government and behind this failed coup attempt for Marshall Law, Gulen network was of intention to remove Erdogan from the way and to promote his philosophy of moderate Islam. According to Gulen, Turkey was heading backward because of Erdogan’s conventional and orthodox policies. Erdogan then accused Gulen of conspiring to overthrow him from the government by building a network and officially declared the Gulen movement a terrorist organization in 2016. Erdogan and Gulen were once allies until Gullen opened a corruption probe into Erdogan’s inner circle in 2013. Turkey’s repetitive requests for Fethullah Gulen’s extradition from the US to face trial were rejected by the US saying they need a proper evidence of Gulen’s involvement first.

Fethullah Gulen is a Turkish Preacher, imam, and writer, currently living in self-imposed exile in the United States. He is the founder of Gulen movement known as Hizmet which is 3 to 6 million strong volunteer-based movement mostly focused on education, hard work, altruism, and modesty. This movement serves in Europe, the United States, Asia, and Africa.

This rift intensified more when Andrew Brunson, an American pastor, currently living in Turkey, arrested by the Turkish government in October 2016, has taken to the court to face trials over an allegation of alleged espionage on behalf of Kurdish insurgents and Gullen network and involvement in the failed coup attempt in 2016. He was under detention of Turkish government for 600 days, almost 2 years, is now released from jail due to health issues and placed under house arrest on July 25, 2018. The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, welcomed Andrew Brunson’s release from prison but said it is not far enough and demanded his complete release as they have not seen any credible evidence against Mr. Brunson but Turkish authorities neglected continuous demand for Brunson’s release by American policymakers.

Donald Trump rebuked Turkish authorities over their decision for not releasing their man in his tweet and said, “this is a total disgrace that Turkey will not release a respected American pastor, Andrew Brunson, from prison. He has been held hostage far too long. Erdogan should do something to free this wonderful Christian husband and father. He has done nothing wrong and his family needs him.” Turkish prosecutors are seeking a maximum prison sentence of 35 years for the pastor and the court has also imposed a travel ban on him.

The US’s Vice President, Mike Pence in response to this, threatened Turkey in his interview and said, “on behalf of the United States of America, release pastor Andrew Brunson now or be prepared to face the consequences.” Trump also said I thought Ankara and Washington had a deal that if Washington will help in the release of Turkish citizen in Israel on behalf of Ankara, they will fully release the pastor. Trump claimed, he urged the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu for the release of a Turkish citizen. However, Israel had even released Turkish citizen named Ebru Ozkan, on whom allegations are imposed that he was involved in abetting Hamas but Turkey instead, did not keep its words and moved the pastor to house arrest. Not fair. Not right.

In retaliation to Turkey’s betrayal, Trump administration levied sanctions on two Turkish ministers (Minister of Justice, Abdulhamit Gul and Minister of Interior, Suleyman Soylu) over propaganda on Andrew Brunson, and also banned their entry into the US and made their assets even frozen to suppress Turkish government on August 1, 2018. In addition to this, Trump further reacted in ire and said, we are cutting back on Turkey and announced a doubling of tariffs on Turkey on August 10, 2018. He said in his tweet, “I have just authorized a doubling of tariffs on steel and aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong dollar. Aluminum will now be 20% and steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time.” He did not care much about that Turkey is their NATO ally. Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin said, Turkey has “not proven to be a good friend” and we are ready to slap Turkey with more sanctions if President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refuses the quick release of an American pastor on August 16, 2018.

In reciprocation to the US’s operations, Turkey took immediate steps by imposing heavy tariffs on products imported from the United States including cars, alcohol, and tobacco also on rice, nuts, cosmetics, paper, machines etc. Turkey placed 140% on alcohol, 120% on cars and 60% on tobacco and slaps sanctions on 2 US officials i.e., minister of Interior and Minister of Justice. Banned their entry into Turkey and had also frozen their assets. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a press conference, “our nation will boycott U.S. electronic goods. We will stop bringing iPhone. He said, if they have their iPhone, we have South Korea’s Samsung as an alternative. In our own country, we have a Vestel.”

Supporters were strongly fascinated by Erdogan’s statement that “don’t forget, if they have their dollars, we have our people, our God. We are working hard. Look at what we were 16 years ago and look at us now.” As their deliberated trade tensions are at its peak, Turkish Lira shattered badly against the US’s mounting dollar and tumbled up to 5%. Investors started to pull out their money from banks. Such withdrawals have also hurt other currencies. Argentine peso and Indian rupee touched their weakest level against the US dollar. Turkey’s economy is suffering severely due to escalating sanctions by the US and is facing a currency crisis. Loss of $12 billion or more is expected to both countries amid their crumbling relations. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it is also expected that these actions by the US can cause a loss of more than $500 billion to the whole world. It seemed like the only way for Turkey to get out of this crisis is by securing the help of IMF’s rescue bailout but Turkey’s Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said in a conference, there is no need to be panic, we will easily overcome this economic crisis and will emerge even stronger than before. He is taking its investors in confidence and also talks to France and Germany. Turkey is insistent that no matter what happens, they will not seek the help of IMF. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and French President Emmanuelle Macron have agreed to improve bilateral relations as Turkey is passing through the dire strait. Turkey’s Finance Minister Berat Albayrak engaged with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and have agreed to meet in Berlin to take steps for further enhancement of economic cooperation.

Turkish Lira was up 4% against US dollar following the conference call and reassuring words from French President Macron and Germany’s Chancellor Merkel. Qatar pledged to invest $15 billion in Turkey’s financial sector which will also help to stabilize and bolster their economy. Pakistan, Iran, and Russia have also announced to help Turkey in their impassable time and deplored the US’s sanction on Turkey. Russian foreign minister calls US sanctions illegitimate. He further added that they are devising to end the US dollar’s dominance and envisaging to trade with Turkey and other countries as an alternative currency. Turkey’s president Erdogan also denied to stop trading with Iran after the cancellation of a nuclear deal between Iran and America and is likely thinking forward to purchase Russian Air Defense System if needed which America does not like.

On August 20, 2018, some assailants opened fire on the US Embassy in the capital Ankara. It has been suspected that this attack was carried out as a result of increased tensions between two NATO allies. Turkish Lira plunged further against the dollar after their spat with the United States on August 29, 2018. It has lost almost more than a quarter of its value. On the same day, Turkish media reported that Mohammad Ahmad, known as the spiritual son of Andrew Brunson, has been accused of being the link between the pastor and the Gulenist terror group. As on August 17, 2018, Turkish court in the province of Izmir, rejected an appeal to release Brunson, the lawyer of Brunson on August 30, 2018, has now decided that they would go to European Court of Human Rights.

The only way for both countries to reinstate their extremely disturbed relations is by reconciliation and consensus. Otherwise, the entire world would have to suffer from their delicate and shabby relationship.

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