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Donald Trump, War and the Shape of Chaos

Prof. Louis René Beres

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“And we are here as on a darkling plain, Swept by confused alarms of struggle and flight,Where ignorant armies clash by night”. -Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach

With the evident expansion of Trump-induced instabilities around the world (most recently in Syria, Iran, Turkey, Ukraine and North Korea), a recurring word on scholarly minds is “chaos.” Going forward, however, such usage will need to become more conspicuously nuanced and intellectually precise. Or to clarify:

In world politics, anarchy is an old story.

Chaos is not.

But what, exactly, are the noteworthy differences?

In part, at least, a correct answer must be determinedly jurisprudential. Under modern international law, system wide anarchy was first formally instituted at the Treaty of Westphalia. Back in 1648, by the end of the Thirty Years’ War  (the last of the major religious wars sparked by the Reformation), a decentralized system of world politics had been expressly codified. Thereafter, a so-called “balance of power” became the ritualistically dominant template of all national foreign policy behaviors.  Concurrently, it became the dominant national objective in almost any “game of nations.”

Still, this balance is “so called” because it was (and remains ) a simplifying fiction; intangible, non-measurable and quite plainly unrealizable. In essence, it offers intellectually-unambitious statesmen and politicians a convenient slight-of-hand metaphor, and, correspondingly, a ready pretext for virtually all manner of manipulative foreign policy interventions. Ironically, over time, this alleged goal has triggered repeated systemic breakdowns,[1] and  also fostered an effectively permanent global imbalance.

Under international treaty law, language is always of signal importance. Accordingly, the terms of this seventeenth-century Treaty call, inter alia, for “a just equilibrium of power.” War avoidance is never actually  mentioned in the document. Significantly, in world law, aggressive war was never properly criminalized until the much later Pact of Paris (aka Kellogg-Briand Pact) of 1928.

What do we now have left of this treaty-based international regime? Basically,  we can now preserve only the crumbling architecture of what Irish poet William Butler Yeats (The Second Coming) had termed “mere anarchy.” For the most part, some representative forms of chaotic disintegration are visibly underway in the Middle East, and also in Africa, Asia and assorted other places in Europe and South America. In these increasingly dissembling areas, the traditional threat mechanisms of Westphalian anarchy are either decreasingly viable or entirely absent. In several more places than we might care to admit, many already-muted  expressions of reason and rationality have already given way to grievously unbridled passions or even to genuine madness.

War and genocide are now often mutually reinforcing rather than mutually exclusive.

Nowadays, there no longer remains any plausible pretext of system-wide national searches for “balance.” To some extent, the more traditionally “normal” calculations of equilibrium have already  been rendered infeasible or inconceivable because of nuclear weapons proliferation. In these ominous cases, individual states have become unable to decipher or delineate any usable measures of balance with other pertinent states.

Though the concept may still sound pleasing or reassuring, there is no ascertainable “balance of power” in world politics.

None at all.

Derivatively, international law will not adequately save  the United States or any other state or alliance of states. Following US President Donald Trump’s unilateral termination of the INF Treaty with Russia, and with the very serious follow-on prospect of a Trump abrogation of the US-Russia INF (Intermediate Nuclear Forces) Treaty, further nuclear proliferation is virtually assured. In quick succession, especially if accompanied by expectedly deficient plans for national command and control among the new nuclear powers, once “unthinkable” weapons could very quickly become “thinkable.”

What then?

In the past several years, portentously, US President Donald Trump has mused openly about nuclear weapons as rational instruments of war –  and not just as passive elements of essential national deterrence.

 There is more. There are also various foreseeable interactions between individual catastrophic harms, so-called synergies  that could make the overriding risks of any looming global nuclear chaos still more pressing. Immediately, these interactions must  be taken into suitable analytic account. Under no circumstances should an American president ever choose to disregard such complex interactions simply because they are too daunting, confusing or bewildering.

Mr. Trump’s expressed decisional priorities notwithstanding, the best way to deal with an expanding global chaos is not by “attitude,” but by “preparation.”[2]

For Israel, a country smaller than Lake Michigan, the dangers of Trump’s latest policies concerning Syria are especially great and prospectively sui generis. Facing not only an expanding nuclear threat from Iran (a consequence in part, of Trump’s earlier US withdrawal from the JCPOA Iran Pact of 2015),  but also the general regional disorder occasioned by an American president’s sudden  capitulations to Syria, Turkey and Russia, Israel could soon find itself with active adversaries on several simultaneous fronts. These adversaries could be assorted sub-state Jihadist enemies (e.g., a reconstituted ISIS) and include even state-sub state “hybrids.”

Whatever the actual configuration of meaningful foes, Israel could then be face-to-face with a genuinely unique species of chaos.

 The evident portent of  any Middle East chaos – here we may point most convincingly to  Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey  and perhaps even Pakistan – would be accelerated or enlarged by enemy irrationality.  If, for example, Israel should sometime have to face a Jihadist adversary that would value certain presumed religious expectations more highly than its own physical survival, the tiny country’s core deterrent posture could be undermined or immobilized. Among other things, any such paralysis of Israeli military power could signify a heightened threat of nuclear war.[3]

Some further clarifications are necessary. In world politics, irrationality is never the same as madness. More precisely, an irrational adversary is one that could sometime value certain goals more highly than its own national self-preservation. A mad adversary, however, would display absolutely no preferred ordering of goals or values. It follows, plausibly, at least from the standpoint of maintaining successful Israeli deterrence, that facing enemy irrationality would be “better” than facing enemy madness.

Realistically, however,  any such analytic choice is unavailable. Whether Israel, the United States or any other state shall capably confront irrationality, madness, neither, or both, is not up to national decision-makers to determine. These possible outcomes are literally undeterminable.

“The blood-dimmed tide is loosed,” prophesied the poet Yeats, “and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned.”  Now, assembled in almost two hundred tribal armed camps known as states, all peoples coexist insecurely on a mercilessly fractionated planet. Ultimately, to reveal a more palpable understanding of where all are heading, we may conjure up the particularly nightmarish circumstances of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. On such a fearfully sorrowful landscape, the traditional playbook of nations would likely shift ominously from Sun-Tzu and Clausewitz to De Sade and Dostoyevsky.

Summing up succinctly,  our historic world system anarchy has now become more unstable than ever before. While this declension of global order owes largely to a growing fusion of chaos with leadership irrationality and/or apocalyptic weaponry, it is also the result of America’s newly incoherent foreign policy. Led by a president who takes his own historical illiteracy as a distinct asset, as a badge of pride, the United States can no longer be assumed to represent a stabilizing force in world politics.

Quite the contrary.

What should we expect? In time, with no longer any pretext of a “just equilibrium of power,” there will be no safety in arms, no rescue by political authority, no reassuring answers from science or technology. Even though we humans had seemingly become “civilized” over time, new wars could rage until every once-sturdy flower of culture had been trampled and all things human had been decimated or leveled. Then, civilization, unless rescued by presently still-unforeseen remedies, would perish in relentlessly paroxysmal quakes of  primordial disintegration.

What shall we do to avoid such an unspeakable chaos? How shall such unbearable circumstances best be averted? Before answering, we much all first acknowledge something markedly counter-intuitive: Chaos and anarchy actually represent opposite points of a single global continuum. Though counter-intuitive, they are essentially opposite conditions of world politics.

“Mere” anarchy, or the absence of central world authority, has always been “normal.” Chaos, however, is anything but normal. Rather, it is fully “abnormal.”

 Since the seventeenth century, our anarchic world can best be described as a system. What happens in any one part of this ungoverned world can affect what happens in some or all of the other parts.  Whenever deterioration is marked, and begins to spread from one nation-state to another, the corollary effects can undermine all previously existing infrastructures of “balance.”

When this deterioration is rapid and catastrophic, as would be the case following the start of any unconventional war or unconventional terrorism, the effects would be immediate and overwhelming.  These particular effects would be chaotic.

Aware that even an incremental collapse of remaining world authority structures would impact its few remaining friends as well as its growing  cadre of enemies, leaders of the United States will sometime need to advance lamentably plausible premonitions of collapse. The sole point of this distressing task would be to chart more appropriately durable paths to national security and survival. Soon, and in partial consequence of certain Trump-generated policy fantasies, Americans  could need to consider how best to respond to life in a more progressively unmanageable state of chaos.

In the context of classical political philosophy, this would resemble the “state of nature” famously described in the seventeenth-century by Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, a condition wherein the life of every person could be “solitary, poor, nasty,  brutish and short.”

Already, largely because of current US presidential unpreparedness and shortsighted White House manipulations,  we are at the sobering brink of this particular condition of “nature.”

Or to meaningfully recall  certain oft-recited stanzas of poet Matthew Arnold, “….we are here as on a darkling plain.”


[1] For the most part, these breakdowns could be classified in authoritative  law as recognizable “aggressions.”

[2] When arriving in Singapore for his first summit with North Korean leader Kim Jung Un, the American president stated that what would prove most important at the meeting was “not preparation, but attitude.”

[3] In 2003, Professor Louis René Beres served as Chair of Project Daniel for PM Sharon in Israel (Iranian nuclear weapons).

LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is Emeritus Professor of International Law at Purdue. His twelfth and most recent book is Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel's Nuclear Strategy (2016) (2nd ed., 2018) https://paw.princeton.edu/new-books/surviving-amid-chaos-israel%E2%80%99s-nuclear-strategy Some of his principal strategic writings have appeared in Harvard National Security Journal (Harvard Law School); International Security (Harvard University); Yale Global Online (Yale University); Oxford University Press (Oxford University); Oxford Yearbook of International Law (Oxford University Press); Parameters: Journal of the US Army War College (Pentagon); Special Warfare (Pentagon); Modern War Institute (Pentagon); The War Room (Pentagon); World Politics (Princeton); INSS (The Institute for National Security Studies)(Tel Aviv); Israel Defense (Tel Aviv); BESA Perspectives (Israel); International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence; The Atlantic; The New York Times and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Americas

The coup in Bolivia shines yet more dark light on America

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Just when one might have thought things geopolitical might be about to turn for the better, which means the worldwide geopolitical nightmare engineered by the U.S. and Trump and all the rest of the mob in Washington might fade a bit, it just gets worse.

Bolivia’s recently re-elected and then self-resigned President Evo Morales because he is graciously trying to avoid more upset and possible carnage in Bolivia, was on the chopping block of the U.S., and chopped he was although he is not dead yet and apparently hiding out among his indigenous supporters somewhere in Bolivia but has accepted asylum in Mexico.

Yes, Morales may have tried to overstay his presidential term by extending the term limits and maybe, just maybe, there were some very minor “irregularities” in the voting process in his country, but that’s immaterial. He still won a huge plurality of the votes against his challenger.  The U.S.’s government changing machine has been out for his head for over a decade, and he had the guts at the U.N. not long ago with Trump and Pompeo nearby to point out to the world just what the U.S. has been about for far too long: criminal meddling all over the globe.

It’s weird, though. Evo did a good job for over a decade. You cannot argue about his economic record in Bolivia. He created, surprisingly, what might be termed a “prosperous socialism” wherein ALL boats were lifted, and especially the prospects for the poor majority. One would think the oligarchs and the “rich” in Bolivia might see some benefit in a society where most everyone got at least something better than they had. But the “rich” and particularly the obscene rich, and imperialists, they can never get enough. Any diminution in their wealth, or more importantly any restrictions on how wealthy they might become because some sharing with the poor is mandated by good government, has now been forbidden. Do they not realize that social calm for all, relatively, is better than total societal discord? Apparently not. Whatever new government is formed in Bolivia, the country is going to regress violently and the poor set back forcefully, with extreme prejudice. People who are by nature cruel and lacking compassion, feeling themselves exceptional, like oligarchs, never learn…until they are strung up on lamp posts and finally destroyed, as has happening time and again in history in various locations.

It may be hard to believe, but the U.S., which is largely controlled by multi-billionaire oligarchs (and this is a phenomenon that has been building for 30 or 40 years) under an increasing “neoliberal” regime (and not just in the U.S.), may see a day when even they will see their fortunes vanish both materially and socially. Lamp posts likely await them, too, when things become unbearable for the 95 percent of the citizenry. For the privileged, greed really is bottomless for most of this class of people. They live in a fantasy world. But of course there are exceptions. Yet the U.S. aims for resources overseas that it does not control – like Venezuela’s oil, like Bolivia’s as yet mostly untapped lithium, like Afghanistan’s riches, and much more.

Which begs the question whether it was a good idea that President Rouhani told the world this week that Iran has discovered an additional 53 billion barrels of oil. Even if only 25 percent of this can be eventually extracted, it’s fabulous. Iran IS wealthy, fabulously so in every respect, especially in its people, except that for now it can’t market its petroleum wealth. Maybe that is a good thing temporarily, for Iran appears to be growing other industry, including the growth and export of saffron to name just one item.

Meanwhile, as risky as it may be, Iran has allegedly “blown past” uranium enrichment levels mandated by the JCPOA. This is absurd. Iran is allegedly enriching uranium up to levels of 4.5 percent. That nowhere close to bomb material at over 90 percent. The JCPOA permits 3.6 percent, allegedly.  The IAEA and the European signatories to the JCPOA are concerned and want Iran to go back to the limits of the deal. This includes limits on the size of the stockpile of enriched material, too, which is currently, according to reports, less than 100 kilos above that limit.

However, Iran is doing just what it said it would and no more — inching away from the JCPOA because the signatories of the JCPOA, the Europeans, have done virtually nothing, cowards that they are, to stand up to the Trump mobsters and realize that their long-term interests reside east of the Bosporus. At least Nordstream 2 is soon going to be a delivering fact. Europe did not back down to U.S opposition to that, and should have stood by Iran when Trump, caving to Netanyahu, abandoned the JCPOA. As far as many observers are concerned, particularly after the U.S.- coup in Bolivia, Iran is doing just the right things and the world, literally, prays that pariah America falls on its own swords.

From our partner Tehran Times

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Americas

Floods, Fires, Coups and Impeachment Make a Busy Week

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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Venice is flooded.  The water is hip high in St. Mark’s Square threatening the church and the expensive shops and restaurants on its perimeter.  The mayor blames climate change.

In Australia, the bush fire season is underway.  One in New South Wales is scorchingly close to nearby homes having already destroyed two buildings on a country property owned by the actor Russell Crowe.

Floods, too, in the north of England, while Boris the chameleon has a comfortable 10-point lead in the polls over his labor opposite number, Corbyn the plonker.  No matter how outrageous or inept, Boris might be, the plonker makes nary a dent on that voluminous target.  So much for the left in Britain as it awaits another drubbing at the polls.

Then in Bolivia, Evo Morales has fled to Mexico claiming his life was at risk.  If he clearly looks Bolivian Indian, his successor, the leader of the senate, Jeanine Anez is just as clearly white.  As in South America elsewhere, the white Spanish elite are at the top of the food chain, followed by the mixed mestizos and at the bottom the indigenous people.  The exceptions are Argentina where the original inhabitants were massacred out of existence, and Chile which is German immigrants from long ago.

Trump welcomed the coup in Bolivia — was there covert support?  If Morales won plaudits for fighting poverty and as the country’s first indigenous leader, he also overstayed his welcome, at least internationally.  He defied constitutional limits by running for a fourth term in a close election which the Organization of American States faulted for “clear manipulation”.  Mr. Morales promised fresh elections.  But the elite-run military and police clearly saw an opportunity.  Morales supporters are organizing demonstrations. 

The US does not have coups; it has impeachment.  Bill Clinton notable for his expression, “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is” … and for a new low in disgusting personal behavior, was impeached.  The procedure requires the House to determine articles of impeachment and then send a team to prosecute in the senate.  The individual being impeached has the right to his own lawyers to mount a defense.  The senate eventually retires to consider and deliver a verdict.  A two-thirds majority is required for conviction.  Bill Clinton survived despite his impeachment being based on facts unearthed by Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr.  Can anyone then imagine a Republican senate convicting Donald Trump over a sentence in a phone call?

So what is the purpose of this futile exercise in the House of Representatives?  Perhaps Democrats hope to sling enough mud to sway the independent note in the forthcoming election.  Perhaps they want a few moments in the limelight, and TV interviews before, during and after.

A fraught world with real climate issues the legislators prefer to ignore — after all they are well-funded by fossil fuel interests.  Forget the actual storms, our elected representatives prefer storms in a tea cup.  The House Intelligence Committee, which is holding the hearings, will probably forward the matter to the full house as the political games continue. 

Meanwhile, record numbers of homeless sleep under bridges as temperatures plunge to -15C (5 F)  in the midwest and the east of this wealthy country.  Do the politicians care?

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Another Sign of Turkey Turning Away from U.S.

Eric Zuesse

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On November 6th, Ibrahim Karagül, who is an extremely influential Turkish media baron and newspaper columnist, and is considered to be a mouthpiece for Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s boldest positions in international relations, virtually declared war against the U.S. and its main allies in the Middle East, and called them promoters of terrorism.

In 2014, Karagul was himself described in the Al-Monitor online newspaper that’s published in Washington DC, as being the “editor-in-chief of the daily Yeni Safak, which is considered one of the most dedicated mouthpieces of the government.” That’s the view, at least, of America’s allies, Saudi Arabia and UAE, two countries that have been working with the U.S. to conquer Yemen, and that are intimately connected to the U.S. Government in the formulation of all U.S. policies regarding the Middle East. The leaders of both of those two countries were described in Karagul’s November 6th article as being masterminds of terrorism. And Karagul, as his newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief, actually is Yeni Safak. His opinions in the columns he writes for the newspaper are, in effect, the newspaper’s editorials. Those opinions can fairly be taken to represent the opinions that Erdogan wants to become the opinions of the Turkish population, even if (for reasons of international diplomacy) he won’t overtly express these views himself. (After all, Yeni Safak expresses them; he doesn’t.)

Karagul said there: “The global black market for terrorism: Who requests these tenders? The EU establishes a terrorist organization, but the US and Israel are its true masters. UAE’s MBZ and Saudi Arabia’s MBS, the two crown princes who are ‘brokers of terror’.” Basically, Karagul’s allegation in this article is that Washington and its closest allies (Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of UAE, and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia) are behind terrorism — especially behind Islamic terrorism.

However, Karagul went even farther, to implicate most especially Hamas leader, Mohammed Dahlan. Karagul’s article opened: “A warning to Turkey: Hostility towards our country has a new home. There is now a fourth terrorist organization after FETÖ, PKK and Daesh. Two princes. Two ‘terror barons.’ Two relentless enemies of Turkey… The first intervention in our country will be conducted through this gang. Mohammed Dahlan should be declared as a ringleader of a terrorist group; there should be a bounty on his head.”

He went on:

Turkey, which has been battling the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) and Daesh on the field, and their bosses at the diplomacy table, is going to be propelled into a zealous and urgent fight against a new and much more lethal terrorist organization.

The PKK, FETÖ and Daesh were the U.S., Israel and Europe’s project. But this new structuring is the terror group of Egyptian intelligence, the UAE’s Mohammed bin Zayed and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman.

New terrorist organization is under Mohammed Dahlan’s control

This new terrorist organization is under the control of Mohammed Dahlan, the man of dirty business, the hitman of the Middle East, who was involved in almost all the terror activities in our region. Despite having been able to project the façade that they are “fighting Iran,” their sole target is Turkey.

Turkey must include this terrorist organization among the PKK, FETÖ and Daesh. This is an organization involved in every operation against Turkey, ranging from internal policy and coup attempts to money laundering, to supporting FETÖ and the PKK – and even cooperating with them – from financing Daesh, to the terror corridor and chaos in Libya and the East Mediterranean.

Erdogan had clearly gone all-out in exposing the role of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman behind the murder and alleged chopping-up of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, but the animus seems now to run more broadly than that. And Karagul is going after U.S. President Donald Trump’s biggest supporters in the Middle East, other than Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu.

On 24 April 2003, CNN headlined “Palestinian Security Ace: Muhammad Yusuf Dahlan” and opened: 

During seven years as a security chief in the Gaza Strip, Muhammad Yusuf Dahlan arrested, and also released, many leading Palestinian militants. Along this tricky path, he skillfully cultivated influential supporters who urged his promotion.

Today, despite fierce opposition by the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, Mr. Dahlan, 41, was named to an even more influential security post, with the blessing of the United States, Israel, Egypt and other countries, as well as the incoming Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas.

Clearly, that slant was favorable toward Dahlan, and fit into Karagul’s allegation that Dahlan is a secret U.S.-and-allied agent. CNN is just as much a mouthpiece for the U.S. Government as Yeni Safak is for the Turkish Government. For any of America’s mainstream ‘news’-media, and even for the vast majority of its ‘alternative news’ media, everything that is published is acceptable either to the Democratic Party or to the Republican Party, or to both — it’s acceptable, in other words, to the U.S. Government. This is the case in the United States, just as it is in Turkey. The range of acceptable expression might be a bit narrower in one country than it is in the other, but what CNN said in that article was just as mainstream as is this article by Karagul. 

Here is more of what Karagul said about Dahlan:

If open war has been declared against the anti-Turkey terrorist organizations founded by the U.S., Israel and Europe, it should also be the case for this organization and its activities.

Mohammed Dahlan, who is leading the organization and intelligence network, should be declared as ringleader and, as is the case with the PKK and other terrorist organizations, a bounty should be put on his head if necessary, and the region and world should be warned against this threat.

Dahlan should be held responsible for his covert and dirty actions, including involvement in coups and an assassination attempt on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

A terror group hiding in UAE, Saudi palaces

This man and his gang — controlled by UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — who [Dahlan] is, as a matter of fact, working for Israeli intelligence, should be identified as the most effective terrorist organization whose influence transcends the region.

Because he is protected in the palaces of some of the region’s countries, hiding within the system, using all the opportunities provided by these states and carrying out terrorist activities.

He was also involved in the July 15 [2016] coup attempt in Turkey. He established a partnership with FETÖ, held coup meetings with this organization in Dubai, and provided them with financial support. Of course, he did all this under the protection of his bosses: Israel, bin Zayed and bin Salman.

They were also the ones who killed Arafat

Dahlan’s murders extend all the way to Yasser Arafat’s poisoning. This assassination was organized in cooperation with Israeli and Egyptian intelligence, and Dahlan is at the center. Israeli intelligence and Dahlan’s men had managed to infiltrate the home of Arafat, whose personal bodyguards were shot in the head execution style.

When Hamas took over administration in Gaza, Dahlan’s intelligence center was raided, and the horrifying truth were revealed. Israel’s intense attacks on Gaza back then were conducted with support from Dahlan and Egyptian intelligence.

What is the most important thing here isn’t whether Karagul’s account is accurate or true, but the very fact that it is being published by him. 

NATO is being pulled at the seams, and might not be able to hold together.

Further of significance is that Karagul equally boldly expresses a position about U.S. domestic politics, and he sides strongly with Trump against the Democratic Party, whose President Barak Obama is viewed by Erdogan as having been behind the 15 July 2016 coup-attempt to overthrow Erdogan.

When interpreting the reliability of Karagul’s statements, it is especially important to recognize that Erdogan has, until now, supported both Al Qaeda and ISIS, as has been extensively documented in the few alternative news-media that are not controlled by America’s Deep State. In fact, on 18 March 2019, Homeland Security Today, which was founded in 2004 by corporate suppliers to the homeland-security industries, headlined “The ISIS Ambassador to Turkey”, and interviewed in Baghdad a key ISIS official who described how he had helped bring tens of thousands of jihadists from around the world to join the war in Syria in order to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, and how he had set up the system to approve each one coming in there, through Turkey. According to his account, Turkish intelligence was fully cooperative. Here’s an excerpt:

“My job was to direct operatives to receive the foreign fighters in Turkey,” Abu Mansour explains, referring to the network of ISIS-paid people who facilitated foreign fighter travel from Istanbul to the Turkish border towns of Gaziantep, Antakya, Sanliurfa, etc. “Most of them were paid by Dawlah [ISIS],” Abu Mansour explains, but differentiates them from ISIS members, due to their non-ideological motivations. “Most of those working on the Turkish side, their goal is money,” he said. Although when asked about ISIS networks inside Turkey, he also admits, “Many in Turkey believe and give their bayat [oath of allegiance] to Dawlah. There are ISIS guys living in Turkey, individuals and groups, but no armed groups inside Turkey.”

In addressing the foreign fighters, Abu Mansour explains: “[They came from] different places, from North Africa mostly. The numbers of Europeans was not a big number, 4,000 total.”

“Tunis 13,000, 4,000 from Morocco. There were less fighters from Libya because they had a front there [in Libya], fighting less than 1,000. I’m just talking about up to 2015,” he adds. Not surprisingly, his figures confirm data collected on the origins and numbers of foreign fighters who joined ISIS – that the most came from Tunisia. It was interesting how he can rattle off the numbers.

“So, you were more than a simple clerk working in the ISIS reception center registering new recruits?” I ask, suspecting he was much more important than that, given his grip on ISIS statistics.

“[My job was] guarding the borders between Syria and Turkey and to receive the fighters,” Abu Mansour explains, smiling at being recognized as more powerful than he was originally conveying. “I oversaw reception at Tal Abyad, Aleppo, Idlib, all their borders,” he answers.

It’s clear he was in charge, so I ask him, “So, you were an ISIS emir?”

“Yes,” he admits, seemingly happy to be “caught out” and recognized for who he really was. “At the beginning I was registering people, then I became the supervisor. I was the emir.”

It is acceptable for that magazine, which is addressing American security professionals, to publish this after the 15 July 2016 coup-attempt, because Turkey now is drifting away from the American orbit; but, prior to that time, such an article would have been difficult if not impossible to publish in any ‘respectable’ American ‘news’ medium.

Erdogan definitely is against Kurdish separatists who threaten (with CIA support) to break off a chunk of Turkey and form a Kurdish nation (perhaps to include chunks also from Syria, Iraq, and Iran). However, there seems to be little, if any, evidence that he opposes jihadists. This is what everyone currently is wondering about: will he turn decisively against the jihadists, now that he is distancing Turkey from the U.S. group. But that’s not really the main question here, regarding Karagul’s article. The main question is whether NATO will continue to support jihadists when the jihadists are fighting to overthrown a head-of-state, such as the secular Assad, whom they want to overthrow and replace. Erdogan is no longer fully on the U.S. side about regime-change in Syria. However, the American public continue, just as before, to support these regime-change invasions. Tulsi Gabbard refers to these invasions as “regime-change wars,” and she opposes it, but only 2% of polled Democrats, thus far, support her candidacy in the Democratic Party’s Presidential primaries, and none of the other candidates is campaigning on this “bring-the-troops-home” theme — it separates her from all the others, and Democratic Party voters apparently oppose her strongly on it. One may then reasonably infer that at least in the Democratic Party, a continuation of those wars (which started in 2003 with Iraq, but then went to Libya, and then to Syria) is being demanded by almost all of the voters. So: if Turkey will split from NATO, then it won’t be due to Turkey’s support for jihadists (if it still does). It would likelier be mainly because Erdogan is striking back against Barack Obama, who had tried to overthrow him. That failed coup-attempt seems to have drastically changed Erdogan’s view. He fears the American political Party that continues to honor Obama: the Democrats. He fears that they could back yet another coup-attempt against him.

In line with that interpretation, Karagul headlined a strongly pro-Trump commentary, on November 9th, “The tables have turned! Trump says: ‘Stop the coup.’ The opposition declares: ‘Coup has started.’ Powerful leaders locked in showdown with the establishment. There’s now an ‘Erdoğan model.’ Impeachment process will fail, Trump will be reelected. Will there be an American Perestroika?” This time, he’s attacking the Democrats’ attempts to replace Donald Trump by Mike Pence to lead the United States, and not their attempts to replace Tayyip Erdogan to lead Turkey. 

This support for Trump is despite Trump’s recently having tweeted, “As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).” Of course, the public don’t know what Trump has communicated privately to Erdogan. It might be nothing like his bellicose public pronouncements.

Trump is widely despised by the Turkish public, but Obama was despised there only 2% less than Trump is; so, whereas Erdogan might considerably prefer Trump, his public seem not to. In this matter, he is leading them, not really following them. Furthermore, by 58% to 23%, far more (more than twice as many) Turks disapprove of NATO than approve of it — and no NATO country among the 12 that were surveyed except Greece comes anywhere near that preponderance of disapproval for NATO. This marketing organization for the weapons that are made in the U.S. and its allied nations is overwhelmingly approved of in the other 10, especially in the two most anti-Russian among those 12: Poland and Netherlands.

Because of that overwhelming disapproval of NATO by the Turkish population, Erdogan would probably not need to do much convincing of them if he were to decide to kick NATO out of Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base (which contains “up to 50” huge nuclear bombs for potential use against Russia). He has bargaining chips. But if what Karagul is publishing is at all like Erdogan’s view, then Erdogan is already in the process of abandoning NATO, and switching Turkey’s alliances to Russia, China, and Iran. This, however, would also require him to reduce if not end his former support to ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other fundamentalist-Sunni groups — jihadist groups, which have always been financed overwhelmingly by the royals of Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar — America’s main Arab allies. Karagul’s articles seem to indicate Erdogan is moving in that direction, too — separating Turkey from those Arab fundamentalist Sunni regimes. If so, it would be an enormous change.

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