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Who Was Secretly Behind America’s Invading and Occupying Syria?

Eric Zuesse

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The invasion and occupation of Syria by tens of thousands of jihadists who were recruited from around the world to overthrow Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, was financed mainly by U.S. taxpayers and by the world’s wealthiest family, the Sauds, who own Saudi Arabia and the world’s largest oil company, Aramco. America’s international oil companies and major think tanks and ‘charitable’ foundations were also supportive and providing propaganda for the operation, but the main financing for it came from America’s taxpayers, and from the Saud family and from the Government that they own.

One of the best articles that the New York Times ever published was by Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo, on 23 January 2016, “U.S. Relies Heavily on Saudi Money to Support Syrian Rebels”. They reported that, “the C.I.A. and its Saudi counterpart have maintained an unusual arrangement for the rebel-training mission, which the Americans have code-named Timber Sycamore. Under the deal, current and former administration officials said, the Saudis contribute both weapons and large sums of money, and the C.I.A takes the lead in training the rebels. … From the moment the C.I.A. operation was started, Saudi money supported it.” Furthermore, “The White House has embraced the covert financing from Saudi Arabia — and from Qatar, Jordan and Turkey.” But “American officials said Saudi Arabia was by far the largest contributor to the operation.” The invasion and occupation of Syria by jihadists from around the world was primarily a Saud operation, though it was managed mainly by the U.S. Government.

Prior to the failed U.S.-backed coup-attempt on 15 July 2015 to replace Tayyip Erdogan as Turkey’s President, Turkey was part of the U.S-Saudi alliance to overthrow and replace Syria’s Government. But afterwards, Turkey increasingly switched against the U.S. and Sauds, and toward instead supporting the target of the Sauds and of America’s aristocrats: Syria. And, so, Turkey has increasingly joined Syria’s alliance, which includes Iran and Russia. That’s one of the major geopolitical changes in recent decades.

The NYT continued: “The Saudi efforts were led by the flamboyant Prince Bandar bin Sultan, at the time the intelligence chief, who directed Saudi spies to buy thousands of AK-47s and millions of rounds of ammunition in Eastern Europe for the Syrian rebels. The C.I.A. helped arrange some of the arms purchases for the Saudis, including a large deal in Croatia in 2012.”

The U.S. preferred to be supplying the jihadists weapons that weren’t from U.S. manufacturers, in order to impede any tracing back to the United States the arming of the movement to oust and replace Syria’s secular, committedly non-sectarian, Government. The Sauds — who are just as committedly sectarian, and are even supporters of the extreme fundamentalist Wahhabist sect of Sunni Islam — likewise tried to cover their tracks in this operation, but their tracks were financial. The Sauds have been especially skillful at covering their tracks. Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud was a buddy of George W. Bush, and had secretly donated over a million dollars in cash to Al Qaeda prior to the 9/11 attacks, according to Osama bin Laden’s financial bagman, who had picked up personally each one of the million-dollar-cash donations to that organization until 9/11 and who named amongst those donors not only Prince Bandar but also Prince Salman al-Saud, who subsequently became King Salman, who is now the father of Crown Prince Salman, who recently murdered the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Crown Prince Salman is also a close friend of America’s current ‘prince’, Jared Kushner, the U.S. President’s son-in-law. So, the Saud family are very close with America’s Republican aristocrats, perhaps even closer than they are with America’s Democratic aristocrats. But especially because of the business links, the Sauds are deeply influential throughout America’s aristocracy. Not only is Saudi Arabia the world’s most oil-rich country, but it is also the world’s largest purchaser of weapons from Lockheed Martin and the other American ‘defense’ contractors, which sell exclusively to the U.S. Government and to the governments that are allied with it (such as to Saudi Arabia). So, those corporations depend upon the Sauds more than upon any other family, even than any single American family.

The Saud family are also crucial allies with Israel’s aristocracy, who include such American billionaires as the Republican Sheldon Adelson and the Democrat Lesley Wexner.

Prince Bandar was also reported by the FBI to have financed directly from his personal checking account the U.S. stays, and the pilot-training, of at least two of the 15 Saudis who were among the 19 jihadists who carried out the piloting and plane-seizings on 9/11. So, if Bandar didn’t (perhaps in consultation with George W. Bush) actually plan those attacks himself, he at least was one of their chief financial backers.

The NYT article also mentioned that “In late 2012, according to two former senior American officials, David H. Petraeus, then the C.I.A. director, delivered a stern lecture to intelligence officials of several gulf nations at a meeting near the Dead Sea in Jordan. He chastised them for sending arms into Syria without coordinating with one another or with C.I.A. officers in Jordan and Turkey. Months later, Mr. Obama gave his approval for the C.I.A. to begin directly arming and training the rebels from a base in Jordan, amending the Timber Sycamore program to allow lethal assistance. Under the new arrangement, the C.I.A. took the lead in training, while Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency, the General Intelligence Directorate, provided money and weapons, including TOW anti-tank missiles,” so as to conquer Syria, for the Sauds.

These authors were, however, misguided when they wrote that “While the intelligence alliance is central to the Syria fight and has been important in the war against Al Qaeda, a constant irritant in American-Saudi relations is just how much Saudi citizens continue to support terrorist groups, analysts said.” That “support” to jihadists, to the extent that it was financial, came actually not from “Saudi citizens,” but from the Saudi aristocracy, mainly from the Saud family itself. Moreover, in a monarchy — which Saudi Arabia is — there are no actual “citizens”; there are only the monarch and his or her “subjects” not “citizens” (citizens such as exist in a democracy — even it’s only a so-called one). There are only the monarch and his/her subjects — especially in an absolute monarchy, such as Saudi Arabia. So: that term “citizens” was a false and misleading term in that context.

On 6 March 2013, Britain’s Guardian bannered regarding General Petraeus “From El Salvador to Iraq: Washington’s man behind brutal police squads” and reported his having created the death squads in El Salvador and designed the post-Saddam Iraqi torture program for trying to extract from detainees (though the Guardian failed to note this) whatever information they might have about Saddam Hussein’s role in the 9/11 attacks. Nothing was mentioned in the Guardian, about 9/11, but only that “The aim: to halt a nascent Sunni insurgency in its tracks by extracting information from detainees” — but nothing was said there about what type of “information” was being sought, or why. “With Petraeus’s almost unlimited access to money and weapons, and Steele’s field expertise in counterinsurgency, the stage was set for the commandos to emerge as a terrifying force.” But force for what? The Guardian offered nothing on that.

Thierry Meyssan at Voltairenet, on 9 May 2011, headlined “What you don’t know about the Bilderberg-Group” and he wrote: “The operation was controlled in reality by William J. Donovan, the former commander of the OSS (the U.S. intelligence service during the war), now in charge of building the American branch of the new secret service of NATO, Gladio [2]. … Moreover, the security of each subsequent meeting was not provided by the police of the host country, but by the soldiers of the NATO Alliance.” Meyssan said that “Henry Kissinger is the main person responsible for invitations to the Bilderberg Group.” Another of the “core group” was “Henry R. Kravis: U.S. financier, investment fund manager KKR. He’s a major fundraiser for the Republican Party.” Meyssan called this “The Lobby of the most powerful military organization in the world [NATO].”

Furthermore:

During the last U.S. presidential elections, it was reported that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton disappeared on June 6, 2008, in order to negotiate an end to their rivalry. In reality, they participated in the annual conference of the Bilderberg Group in Chantilly, Virginia (USA). The following day, Mrs. Clinton announced that she was retiring from the race. … According to our sources, something else happened. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton concluded a financial and political agreement. Senator Obama bailed out his rival financially and offered her a position in his administration (Clinton refused the vice-presidency and instead chose the State Department) in exchange for her active support during the campaign against McCain. Then, the two leaders were presented by James A. Johnson to the Bilderberg Conference, where they assured the participants that they would work together. [Hillary had a solid record and reputation as a neoconservative and as a supporter of overthrowing Syria’s Government.] Barack Obama had already been NATO’s candidate for a long time. [But his campaign rhetoric had nonetheless caused worries amongst the Establishment.] Mr. Obama and his family have always worked for the CIA and the Pentagon. [3] Moreover, the initial funds for his campaign were provided by the Crown of England, via a businessman named Nadhmi Auchi. [See, e.g.: this and this and this and this.] In presenting the Black Senator to the Bilderbergers, the Atlantic Alliance was, in fact, organizing public relations at the international level for the future president of the United States.

Of course, that was even before Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.

On 11 December 2018, Meyssan headlined “Whom does Emmanuel Macron owe?” and he wrote that, “he owes his electoral campaign mostly to Henry Kravis, the boss of one of the world’s largest financial companies, and to NATO – a considerable debt which weighs heavily today on the solution to the Yellow Vests crisis.” Macron had first met “Henry and Marie-Josée Kravis, in their residence on Park Avenue in New York [1]. (This meeting probably took place in 2007. Thereafter, Emmanuel Macron systematically visited the Kravis couple whenever he was in the USA, and Henry Kravis welcomed him in his offices on Avenue Montaigne when he visited Paris.) The Kravis couple, unfailing supporters of the US Republican Party, are among the great world fortunes who play politics out of sight of the Press.” Furthermore:

In December 2014, Henry Kravis created his own Intelligence agency, the KKR Global Institute. He nominated at its head the ex-Director of the CIA, General David Petraeus.  With the Kravis couple’s private funds (the KKR investment funds), and without referring to Congress, Petraeus pursued operation «Timber Sycamore» which had been initiated by President Barack Obama. This was the largest weapons traffic in History, implicating at least 17 states and representing many thousands of tons of weapons worth several billion dollars. As such, Kravis and Petraeus became the main suppliers for Daesh..

On 6 June 2017, Meyssan headlined “Confrontation at Bilderberg 2017” and wrote:There exist no photographs of the meeting of the Bilderberg Group, whose work is confidential. Security for the meeting is not handled by the FBI, nor the Virginia police force, but by a private militia organised by NATO.

The Bilderberg Group was created in 1954 by the CIA and MI6 in order to support the Atlantic Alliance.

The 2017 meeting is also described there: Among the Board of Directors, mostly international corporate luminaries, was “Marie-Josée Drouin-Kravis: Economic columnist in print and broadcast media in Canada. Researcher at the very militaristic Hudson Institute. She is the third wife of Henry Kravis.”

Both Petraeus and his two KKR sponsors are regular attendees at the Bilderberg meetings. What financial stake — if any — in assisting the Sauds to take over Syria, KKR has, is not known. But if there is such, then the U.S. Government’s recent decision to quit its military occupation of Syria will presumably be, to that extent, unfavorable for KKR, and unpopular amongst the 150 companies in which it holds stock.

The great investigative journalists Dilyana Geytandzhieva, Andrey Fomin, Manlio Dinucci, Thierry Meysan, and the South Front site, have, in several articles, documented that the Governments of U.S., UAE, Qatar, and mainly Saudi Arabia, are financing and overseeing a multibillion-dollar privately operated weapons-smuggling operation to Sunni jihadist groups such as Al Qaeda in Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan, and Asia. Meyssan writes:

In less than three years, Silk Way Airlines transported at least one billion dollars’ worth of armament.

One thing leading to another, journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva uncovered a vast system which also supplied the jihadists not only in Iraq and Syria, but also in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Congo – also paid for by the Saudis and the Emiratis. Some of the arms delivered in Arabia were redirected to South Africa.

The arms transported to Afghanistan were delivered to the Talibans, under the control of the US, which is pretending to fight them. …

Although, according to the international treaties, neither civil nor diplomatic flights are authorised to carry military material, requests for recognition as «diplomatic flights» require the explicit detailing of the cargo transported. However, at the request of the US State Department, at least Afghanistan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Bulgaria, Congo, the United Arab Emirates, Hungary, Israël, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Turkey and United Kingdom closed their eyes to this violation of international law, just as they had ignored the CIA flights to and from their secret prisons. …

According to Sibel Edmonds – ex-FBI agent and founder of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition – Azerbaïdjan, under President Heydar Aliyev, from 1997 to 2001 hosted in Bakou the number 2 of Al-Qaïda, Ayman el-Zawahiri. This was done at the request of the CIA. Although officially wanted by the FBI, the man who was then the number 2 of the international jihadist network travelled regularly in NATO planes to Afghanistan, Albania, Egypt and Turkey. He also received frequent visits from Prince Bandar ben Sultan of Saudi Arabia [11].

International relations are controlled by international corporations, but the identities of the persons who control those are often hidden; so, it’s not easy to say whom has been enriched by the invasion and occupation of Syria. And, probably, there won’t be funding for investigative journalists to do the costly research to find out whom those persons actually are. But they controlled both Obama and Trump, both of whom carried out their policy on Syria.

Author’s note: first published at strategic-culture.org

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Middle East

The Turkish Gambit

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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The only certainty in war is its intrinsic uncertainty, something Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could soon chance upon.  One only has to look back on America’s topsy-turvy fortunes in Iraq, Afghanistan and even Syria for confirmation.

The Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria has as its defined objective a buffer zone between the Kurds in Turkey and in Syria.  Mr. Erdogan hopes, to populate it with some of the 3 million plus Syrian refugees in Turkey, many of these in limbo in border camps.  The refugees are Arab; the Kurds are not.

Kurds speak a language different from Arabic but akin to Persian.  After the First World War, when the victors parceled up the Arab areas of the Ottoman Empire, Syria came to be controlled by the French, Iraq by the British, and the Kurdish area was divided into parts in Turkey, Syria and Iraq, not forgetting the borderlands in Iran — a brutal division by a colonial scalpel severing communities, friends and families.  About the latter, I have some experience, having lived through the bloody partition of India into two, and now three countries that cost a million lives.   

How Mr. Erdogan will persuade the Arab Syrian refugees to live in an enclave, surrounded by hostile Kurds, some ethnically cleansed from the very same place, remains an open question.  Will the Turkish army occupy this zone permanently?  For, we can imagine what the Kurds will do if the Turkish forces leave.

There is another aspect of modern conflict that has made conquest no longer such a desirable proposition — the guerrilla fighter.  Lightly armed and a master of asymmetric warfare, he destabilizes. 

Modern weapons provide small bands of men the capacity and capability to down helicopters, cripple tanks, lay IEDs, place car bombs in cities and generally disrupt any orderly functioning of a state, tying down large forces at huge expense with little chance of long term stability.  If the US has failed repeatedly in its efforts to bend countries to its will, one has to wonder if Erdogan has thought this one through.

The Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 is another case in point.  Forever synonymous with the infamous butchery at Sabra and Shatila by the Phalange militia facilitated by Israeli forces, it is easy to forget a major and important Israeli goal:  access to the waters of the Litani River which implied a zone of occupation for the area south of it up to the Israeli border.

Southern Lebanon is predominantly Shia and at the time of the Israeli invasion they were a placid group who were dominated by Christians and Sunni, even Palestinians ejected from Israel but now armed and finding refuge in Lebanon.  It was when the Israelis looked like they were going to stay that the Shia awoke.  It took a while but soon their guerrillas were harassing Israeli troops and drawing blood.  The game was no longer worth the candle and Israel, licking its wounds, began to withdraw ending up eventually behind their own border.

A colossal footnote is the resurgent Shia confidence, the buildup into Hezbollah and new political power.  The Hezbollah prepared well for another Israeli invasion to settle old scores and teach them a lesson.  So they were ready, and shocked the Israelis in 2006.  Now they are feared by Israeli troops.   

To return to the present, it is not entirely clear as to what transpired in the telephone call between Erdogan and Trump.  Various sources confirm Trump has bluffed Erdogan in the past.  It is not unlikely then for Trump to have said this time, “We’re leaving.  If you go in, you will have to police the area.  Don’t ask us to help you.”  Is that subject to misinterpretation?  It certainly is a reminder of the inadvertent green light to Saddam Hussein for the invasion of Kuwait when Bush Senior was in office. 

For the time being Erdogan is holding fast and Trump has signed an executive order imposing sanctions on Turkish officials and institutions.  Three Turkish ministers and the Defense and Energy ministries are included.  Trump has also demanded an immediate ceasefire.  On the economic front, he has raised tariffs on steel back to 50 percent as it used to be before last May.  Trade negotiations on a $100 billion trade deal with Turkey have also been halted forthwith.  The order also includes the holding of property of those sanctioned, as well as barring entry to the U.S.

Meanwhile, the misery begins all over again as thousands flee the invasion area carrying what they can.  Where are they headed?  Anywhere where artillery shells do not rain down and the sound of airplanes does not mean bombs.

Such are the exigencies of war and often its surprising consequences. 

Author’s Note:  This piece appeared originally on Counterpunch.org

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Could Turkish aggression boost peace in Syria?

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On October 7, 2019, the U.S. President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of American troops from northeast Syria, where the contingent alongside Kurdish militias controlled the vast territories. Trump clarified that the decision is connected with the intention of Turkey to attack the Kurdish units, posing a threat to Ankara.

It’s incredible that the Turkish military operation against Kurds – indeed the territorial integrity of Syria has resulted in the escape of the U.S., Great Britain, and France. These states essentially are key destabilizing components of the Syrian crisis.

Could this factor favourably influence the situation in the country? For instance, after the end of the Iraqi war in 2011 when the bulk of the American troops left the country, the positive developments took place in the lives of all Iraqis. According to World Economics organization, after the end of the conflict, Iraq’s GDP grew by 14% in 2012, while during the U.S. hostilities the average GDP growth was about 5,8%.

Syria’s GDP growth should also be predicted. Not right away the withdrawal of U.S., French, British, and other forces, but a little bit later after the end of the Turkish operation that is not a phenomenon. The Turkish-Kurdish conflict has been going on since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire when Kurds started to promote the ideas of self-identity and independence. Apart from numerous human losses, the Turks accomplished nothing. It is unlikely that Ankara would achieve much in Peace Spring operation. The Kurds realize the gravity of the situation and choose to form an alliance with the Syrian government that has undermined the ongoing Turkish offensive.

Under these circumstances, Erdogan could only hope for the creation of a narrow buffer zone on the Syrian-Turkish border. The withdrawal of the Turkish forces from the region is just a matter of time. However, we can safely say that the Turkish expansion unwittingly accelerated the peace settlement of the Syrian crisis, as the vital destabilizing forces left the country. Besides, the transfer of the oil-rich north-eastern regions under the control of Bashar Assad will also contribute to the early resolution of the conflict.

It remains a matter of conjecture what the leaders of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia agreed on during the high-level talks. Let’s hope that not only the Syrians, but also key Gulf states are tired of instability and tension in the region, and it’s a high time to strive for a political solution to the Syrian problem.

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Turkey and the Kurds: What goes around comes around

Dr. James M. Dorsey

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Turkey, like much of the Middle East, is discovering that what goes around comes around.

Not only because President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears to have miscalculated the fallout of what may prove to be a foolhardy intervention in Syria and neglected alternative options that could have strengthened Turkey’s position without sparking the ire of much of the international community.

But also because what could prove to be a strategic error is rooted in a policy of decades of denial of Kurdish identity and suppression of Kurdish cultural and political rights that was more likely than not to fuel conflict rather than encourage societal cohesion.

The policy midwifed the birth in the 1970s to militant groups like the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which only dropped its demand for Kurdish independence in recent years.

The group that has waged a low intensity insurgency that has cost tens of thousands of lives has been declared a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Turkish refusal to acknowledge the rights of the Kurds, who are believed to account for up to 20 percent of the country’s population traces its roots to the carving of modern Turkey out of the ruins of the Ottoman empire by its visionary founder, Mustafa Kemal, widely known as Ataturk, Father of the Turks.

It is entrenched in Mr. Kemal’s declaration in a speech in 1923 to celebrate Turkish independence of “how happy is the one who calls himself a Turk,” an effort to forge a national identity for country that was an ethnic mosaic.

The phrase was incorporated half a century later in Turkey’s student oath and ultimately removed from it in 2013 at a time of peace talks between Turkey and the PKK by then prime minister, now president Erdogan.

It took the influx of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Kurds in the late 1980s and early 1990s as well as the 1991 declaration by the United States, Britain and France of a no-fly zone in northern Iraq that enabled the emergence of an autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region to spark debate in Turkey about the Kurdish question and prompt the government to refer to Kurds as Kurds rather than mountain Turks.

Ironically, Turkey’s enduring refusal to acknowledge Kurdish rights and its long neglect of development of the pre-dominantly Kurdish southeast of the country fuelled demands for greater rights rather than majority support for Kurdish secession largely despite the emergence of the PKK

Most Turkish Kurds, who could rise to the highest offices in the land s long as they identified as Turks rather than Kurds, resembled Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, whose options were more limited even if they endorsed the notion of a Jewish state.

Nonetheless, both minorities favoured an independent state for their brethren on the other side of the border but did not want to surrender the opportunities that either Turkey or Israel offered them.

The existence for close to three decades of a Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq and a 2017 referendum in which an overwhelming majority voted for Iraqi Kurdish independence, bitterly rejected and ultimately nullified by Iraqi, Turkish and Iranian opposition, did little to fundamentally change Turkish Kurdish attitudes.

If the referendum briefly soured Turkish-Iraqi Kurdish relations, it failed to undermine the basic understanding underlying a relationship that could have guided Turkey’s approach towards the Kurds in Syria even if dealing with Iraqi Kurds may have been easier because, unlike Turkish Kurds, they had not engaged in political violence against Turkey.

The notion that there was no alternative to the Turkish intervention in Syria is further countered by the fact that Turkish PKK negotiations that started in 2012 led a year later to a ceasefire and a boosting of efforts to secure a peaceful resolution.

The talks prompted imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan to publish a letter endorsing the ceasefire, the disarmament and withdrawal from Turkey of PKK fighters, and a call for an end to the insurgency. Mr. Ocalan predicted that 2013 would be the year in which the Turkish Kurdish issues would be resolved peacefully.

The PKK’s military leader, Cemil Bayik, told the BBC three years later that “we don’t want to separate from Turkey and set up a state. We want to live within the borders of Turkey on our own land freely.”

The talks broke down in 2015 against the backdrop of the Syrian war and the rise as a US ally of the United States in the fight against the Islamic State of the PKK’s Syrian affiliate, the People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Bitterly opposed to the US-YPG alliance, Turkey demanded that the PKK halt its resumption of attacks on Turkish targets and disarm prior to further negotiations.

Turkey responded to the breakdown and resumption of violence with a brutal crackdown in the southeast of the country and on the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Nonetheless, in a statement issued from prison earlier this year that envisioned an understanding between Turkey and Syrian Kurdish forces believed to be aligned with the PKK, Mr. Ocalan declared that “we believe, with regard to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the problems in Syria should be resolved within the framework of the unity of Syria, based on constitutional guarantees and local democratic perspectives. In this regard, it should be sensitive to Turkey’s concerns.”

Turkey’s emergence as one of Iraqi Kurdistan’s foremost investors and trading partners in exchange for Iraqi Kurdish acquiescence in Turkish countering the PKK’s presence in the region could have provided inspiration for a US-sponsored safe zone in northern Syria that Washington and Ankara had contemplated.

The Turkish-Iraqi Kurdish understanding enabled Turkey  to allow an armed Iraqi Kurdish force to transit Turkish territory in 2014 to help prevent the Islamic State from conquering the Syrian city of Kobani.

A safe zone would have helped “realign the relationship between Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and its Syrian offshoot… The safe-zone arrangements… envision(ed) drawing down the YPG presence along the border—a good starting point for reining in the PKK, improving U.S. ties with Ankara, and avoiding a potentially destructive Turkish intervention in Syria,” Turkey scholar Sonar Cagaptay suggested in August.

The opportunity that could have created the beginnings of a sustainable solution that would have benefitted Turkey as well as the Kurds fell by the wayside with Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from northern Syria.

In many ways, Mr. Erdogan’s decision to opt for a military solution fits the mould of a critical mass of world leaders who look at the world through a civilizational prism and often view national borders in relative terms.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin pointed the way with his 2008 intervention in Georgia and the annexation in 2014 of Crimea as well as Russia’s stirring of pro-Russian insurgencies in two regions of Ukraine.

Mr. Erdogan appears to believe that if Mr. Putin can pull it off, so can he.

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