Category Archives: Turkey

Turkey’s secret pact with Islamic State exposed by operative behind wave of ISIS attacks

Nafeez Ahmed reports for INSURGE INTELLIGENCE:

New evidence has emerged that the Turkish government under President Erdogan is covertly providing direct military, financial and logistical support to ISIS, even while claiming to fight the terror network.

The evidence comes in the form of testimony from an ISIS terrorist captured by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, widely recognised as the most effective force confronting ISIS on the ground.

The testimony has been reported by two Kurdish news agencies, the Syrian-Kurdish Harwar News Agency (ANHA) based in Rojava, and the Turkish-Kurdish Ajansa Nûçeyan a Firatê (Firat News Agency or ANF News). The latter’s head office is based in Amsterdam.

Websites of both news agencies are blocked in Turkey.

Interviews with the ISIS fighter, captured by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), reveal that Turkish military and security forces are facilitating ISIS operations within Syria, as well as ISIS terrorist attacks inside Turkey.

The new testimony corroborates similar claims made by other former and active ISIS members, as well as Western and Middle East intelligence sources.

Yet Turkey is a leading member of the NATO alliance. And while the Western members of NATO have gathered mounting intelligence confirming Turkey’s sponsorship of ISIS, they have refused to act on this intelligence.

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Erdogan Moves to Consolidate Power After Failed Military Coup: Interview with Baris Karaagac and Ariel Salzmann

Sharmini Peries speaks to Baris Karaagac and Ariel Salzmann who discuss the July 15th coup attempt and say the Turkish president will use the crisis to eliminate all dissent from the judiciary and the military. (The Real News)

 

Erdogan could use the coup against him to turn Turkey towards full-scale Islamisation

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

an102884259epa05427172.jpg[…] The programme of Mr Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) since they won their first general election in 2002 has been to reverse the secularisation introduced by Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the republic in 1923.  As the AKP has tightened its grip on power, it has chipped away at the secular institutions of the state and encouraged the Islamisation of education and social behaviour as well as seeking to cull non-Islamist officials and officers.

Mr Erdogan has said that he wants to see “the growth of a religious generation”, which would replace long-standing secular domination in Turkey. His foreign policy since the Arab Spring in 2011 has been to support the largely Sunni Arab uprising in Syria in alliance with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, though his efforts to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad have so far failed. This strategy included tolerance for extreme Islamist jihadi movements such as Isis, Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, enabling them to establish networks of support inside Turkey. However, in the summer of 2015 the Turkish government agreed to let the US and four other states, including the UK, use Incirlik air base in south east Turkey for air strikes against Isis. Gunmen and bombers from the Islamist group attacked Ataturk Istanbul airport in June killing 42 people.

The failed coup will enable the implementation of Mr Erdogan’s long-desired presidential system based on Islamic values. It is unlikely to face much resistance now from people who do not want to be labelled as coup sympathisers. Not only are large numbers of soldiers and officials being arrested, but they are being publicly humiliated by being beaten, forced to strip to their underwear and lie crammed together on the floor of wherever they are being held. The commander of Incirlik air base, Gen Bekir Ercan Van, was shown on film handcuffed and being bundled into the back of a van.

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Welcome to the Turkish Winter: The Great Purge is Just Beginning

Burak Kadercan writes for War on the Rocks:

Crowd-Flag-Turkey-Coup[…] Put bluntly, we have just entered a new phase in the ever-dramatic and hardly predictable story of Turkish democracy, a chapter that could easily be called the “Turkish Winter.” The coup attempt and Erdogan’s reactions to it will be the key drivers of this phase, but they are merely the symptoms of the real disease that troubles Turkey. The ever-struggling Turkish democracy is dying a slow and painful death, and no single political actor has the will, power, and the right set of incentives to prevent this decay. The road ahead is stark: either an absolute presidency that will not only further ossify but also institutionalize Erdogan’s one-man status, or civil strife that will either take the country down the road of Syria or lead to yet another coup attempt.

I wrote about this phase, “Turkish Winter,” for the first time three years ago amid the Gezi Park protests and later here on War on the Rocks last September. Back then, my predictions appeared to many as mere hyperbolic and dystopian nonsense to some. In the wake of the failed coup attempt, the claim that Turkish democracy is on its deathbed is no longer hyperbole, but rather an obvious statement. Dystopia has become how many Turks have come to define the state of Turkish politics. At the time, I was trying to warn spectators about the coming of a political firestorm (or ice age, if I am to stick to the winter terminology). The coup attempt and its immediate aftermath suggest in no uncertain terms that we have entered a new phase in Turkish politics. Welcome to the Turkish Winter. And it is only beginning.

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Turkey Coup: Erdogan Purges 20,000 As EU Commissioner Voices Concern Over “Prepared Arrest Lists”

Tyler Durden reports for Zero Hedge:

[…] In total, approximately 20,000 political opponents “purged” just days after the conclusion of the failed coup.

At the same time speculation that the terribly planned “coup” was anything but came from the European Commission itself. As Reuters adds, the swift rounding up of judges and others after a failed coup in Turkey indicated the government had prepared a list beforehand, according to EU commissioner dealing with Turkey’s membership bid, Johannes Hahn, said on Monday.

“It looks at least as if something has been prepared. The lists are available, which indicates it was prepared and to be used at a certain stage,” Hahn said. “I’m very concerned. It is exactly what we feared.”

It is also exactly what Erdogan has expected and hoped for. And with broad western support for Erdogan over the weekend, his mission to concentrate all Turkish power in his own hands is now assured.

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Erdogan: Death Penalty, Detentions to Cleanse Turkey After Failed Coup

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

The first 48 hours after Friday evening’s failed coup d’etat in Turkey has seen the launching of a massive crackdown on anyone even suspected of being involved, with some 6,000 from the military already detained in relation to the attempt, including the commander of the Incirlik Air Base, where US troops and a substantial number of US nuclear arms are stationed.

This appears to be just the beginning, with Erdogan openly talking about bringing back the death penalty, saying the public wants to see the coup plotters executed and that “in a democracy, whatever the people want they will get.”

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag also hinted that the mass detentions are going to go quite a bit further, saying that the operation “is continuing” and that the number could soon surpass the 6,000 being reported.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is vowing that the entire country would be cleansed of the “virus” responsible for the coup attempt, attempting the pin the effort on former ally and current exile Fethullah Gulen.

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The 50 American H-Bombs in Turkey

Eric Schlosser, author of Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, writes for The New Yorker:

B-61 nuclear bombs, the same model as those stored by the U.S. at airbases in various NATO countries, often under lax safeguards.[…] According to Hans M. Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, underground vaults at Incirlik hold about fifty B-61 hydrogen bombs—more than twenty-five per cent of the nuclear weapons in the NATO stockpile. The nuclear yield of the B-61 can be adjusted to suit a particular mission. The bomb that destroyed Hiroshima had an explosive force equivalent to about fifteen kilotons of TNT. In comparison, the “dial-a-yield” of the B-61 bombs at Incirlik can be adjusted from 0.3 kilotons to as many as a hundred and seventy kilotons.

Incirlik was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the wake of the Second World War; when Turkey joined NATO, in 1952, it became a crucial American base during the Cold War. With a flight time of about an hour to the Soviet Union, the base hosted American fighters, bombers, tankers, and U-2 spy planes. And, like many NATO bases, it stored American nuclear weapons. NATO strategy was dependent on nuclear weapons as a counterbalance to the perceived superiority of Soviet conventional forces. The threat of a nuclear attack, it was assumed, would deter Soviet tanks from rolling into NATO territory. And granting NATO countries access to nuclear weapons would strengthen the alliance, providing tangible evidence that the United States would risk a nuclear war for NATO’s defense.

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Despite Early Tensions, US-Turkey Ties Remain Unchanged After Coup Attempt

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

The immediate wake of Friday evening’s failed military coup in Turkey looked like it was going to have a significant impact on US-Turkish relations, with power cut to the airbase at Incirlik, from which a significant number of US forces operate. There were even suggestions that the US might’ve been involved in the coup attempt.

Secretary of State John Kerry denied such claims, and insisted it was “irresponsible” to even suggest the US might’ve been involved with the coup, despite all those coups the US has been covertly involved with over the years.

Indeed, much of the speculation related to Kerry’s own statements in the early hours of the coup effort, in which he emphasized a US desire for “stability and continuity.” It was only when it became apparent that the coup was failing that US officials began issuing statements condemning the effort.

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Turkey Coup: How an iPhone Defeated the Tanks

David Hearst writes for Middle East Eye:

To mount a coup, senior Turkish army officers from the commando units, land forces, the first and fourth armies, and the airforce went to extreme lengths to seize power.

They occupied two airports and closed a third. They attempted to separate the European from the Asian sides of Istanbul. They bombed the parliament in Ankara nine times. There was a pitched battled outside the headquarters of MIT the Turkish intelligence agency. They deployed tanks, helicopter gunships and F16 jets.

To defeat the coup, the Turkish president used his iPhone. Mosques used their loudspeakers, broadcasting the call to prayer hours before dawn. Political leaders of all creeds, some staunch opponents of the president, called unambiguously for the coup to be defeated. Policemen arrested soldiers.

Unarmed people recaptured CNN Turk and the bridges across the Bosphorus, braving gunfire to recapture democracy for their country.

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Erdogan Had It Coming: Turkey’s Coup May Have Failed, But History Shows Another Will Succeed

Robert Fisk writes for The Independent:

turkey-soldiers.jpgRecep Tayyip Erdogan had it coming. The Turkish army was never going to remain compliant while the man who would recreate the Ottoman Empire turned his neighbours into enemies and his country into a mockery of itself. But it would be a grave mistake to assume two things: that the putting down of a military coup is a momentary matter after which the Turkish army will remain obedient to its sultan; and to regard at least 161 deaths and more than 2,839 detained in isolation from the collapse of the nation-states of the Middle East.

For the weekend’s events in Istanbul and Ankara are intimately related to the breakdown of frontiers and state-belief – the assumption that Middle East nations have permanent institutions and borders – that has inflicted such wounds across Iraq, Syria, Egypt and other countries in the Arab world. Instability is now as contagious as corruption in the region, especially among its potentates and dictators, a class of autocrat of which Erdogan has been a member ever since he changed the constitution for his own benefit and restarted his wicked conflict with the Kurds.

Needless to say, Washington’s first reaction was instructive. Turks must support their “democratically elected government”. The “democracy” bit was rather hard to swallow; even more painful to recall, however, was the very same government’s reaction to the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi’s “democratically elected” government in Egypt in 2013 – when Washington very definitely did not ask Egypt’s people to support Morsi and quickly gave its support to a military coup far more bloody than the attempted putsch in Turkey. Had the Turkish army been successful, be sure Erdogan would have been treated as dismissively as the unfortunate Morsi.

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Turkey’s President Survives Coup Attempt, Thanks in Part to Social Media He So Despises

Robert Mackey writes for The Intercept:

 

[…] The plotters failed, despite following a script that had might have succeeded in the 20th century, in part because Erdogan was able to rally support for democratic rule using 21st century tools: video chat and social media.

After the officers claimed control of the country in a statement they forced a presenter to read on TRT, the state broadcaster, the country’s internet and phone networks remained out of their control. That allowed Erdogan to improvise an address to the nation in a FaceTime call to CNN Turk, a private broadcaster the military only managed to force off the air later in the night, as the coup unraveled. In his remarks, the president called on people to take to the streets.

Minutes later, the president repeated his plea for protesters to defend democracy on his own Twitter feed.

 

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The Counter-Coup in Turkey

The New York Times Editorial Board writes:

It was ironic that, as members of the military launched a coup against him on Friday night, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey resorted to guerrilla media tactics — broadcasting via the FaceTime app on his cellphone — to urge Turks to oppose the plotters. Mr. Erdogan has been no friend to free expression, ruthlessly asserting control over the media and restricting human rights and free speech. Yet thousands responded to his appeal, turning back the rebels and demonstrating that they still value democracy even if Mr. Erdogan has eroded its meaning.

That erosion now seems likely to accelerate, exacting a terrible price from Turkey’s citizens and posing new challenges to international efforts to confront the Islamic State and halt the killing in Turkey’s neighbor, Syria.

Given the chaotic and bloody events of the last two days, there is little doubt that Mr. Erdogan will become more vengeful and obsessed with control than ever, exploiting the crisis not just to punish mutinous soldiers but to further quash whatever dissent is left in Turkey. “They will pay a heavy price for this,” he said, chillingly. “This uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army.”

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A Short History of Modern Turkey’s Military Coups

Turkish Coup 1960As Turkey was roiled on Friday by an attempt by the military to seize control of the nation in a coup, some of its older citizens may have a sense of déjà vu.

Though Turkey has had a long and illustrious history as a regional power—the Ottoman Empire, ruled from Istanbul, was long a major power—the Republic of Turkey itself is a relatively young nation, founded less than a century ago. And yet it has seen more than its fair share of coups.

That high rate of turmoil isn’t exactly an accident. In fact, one of the reasons behind the string of coups has to do with something baked into the Turkish system of government. As TIME explained after one of those coups, the nation’s constitution leaves the military with the authority to “step in” when needed; military leaders are not beholden to political leaders.

As the magazine put it in 1960, after autocratic premier Adnan Menderes was deposed in a largely bloodless military coup: “The Turkish army has long scrupulously observed the admonition of the late great Kemal Ataturk that the army should stay out of partisan politics. But it also remembered that Ataturk charged it with guarding the constitution.”

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A failed coup in Turkey could tip the country into authoritarianism

Ezra Klein writes for Vox:

Could the coup attempt in Turkey against President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan’s government end up empowering… President Erdogan? Some analysts think so.

To see why, go back to this excellent July 5th New York Times story by Sabrina Tavernise outlining the growing fears that Erdogan was moving towards “seizing the title of president for life.”

At the time of the article, the concern was that Erdogan sought — and could perhaps achieve — authoritarian power in his office. He was trying to purge hundreds of judges from Turkey’s top courts, cracking down on freedom of the press (the editor of the state’s largest newspaper was forced to flee the country), and forging a closer alliance with the country’s military (“the [military’s] chief of staff was a witness at his daughter’s wedding”).

The story paints a picture of a country teetering on the brink of authoritarianism. “Pray for us,” Ergun Ozbudun, a constitutional expert, told the Times.

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How Turkey’s military launched coup against President Erdogan

Protesters stand on an armoured vehicle in Istanbul.Even before soldiers appeared on Istanbul’s Bosphorus Bridge and tanks were positioned at the entry and exit points for the capital’s Ataturk Airport on Friday night, there had been a sense of unease in the air in the Turkish capital.

On a warm sunny day Gabriel Turner, a 23-year-old management consultant from north London who was on holiday in Istanbul, had been strolling through the city and remarked on how many police seemed to be patrolling the streets

“I thought that was normal but the two Turkish girls I was with told me it wasn’t,” he told The Telegraph on Friday night. “We were walking around the centre of Istanbul, at the Grand Bazaar there were police at every entrance and exit with lots of guns.”

A few hours later, at about 8pm, a police helicopter was seen buzzing low over the rooftops, as if it was searching for something – another sign perhaps of what was to come – but it was not until nearly 10.30pm that the true import of the military manoeuvres became clear.

Suddenly in the thriving heart of Istanbul where friends had gathered for a Friday night out, everyone was looking at their phones – word was filtering out – Turkey was once again subject to a military coup.

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Erdogan Continues His Consolidation of Power in Turkey: Interview with Baris Karaagac

Sharmini Peries speaks with Baris Karaagac, who says Turkey’s President Erdoğan is continuing to consolidate power by appointing his friend and current Transportation Minister as Vice President. (The Real News)

Turkey’s New PM Says Expanding Erdogan’s Power “Top Priority”

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Just weeks after the expulsion of Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey has a new prime minister in the former of Binali Yildirim, a former Transportation Minister and long-time ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Needless to say, this greatly improves Erdogan’s position, ending his feud with the prime minister’s office over attempts to expand his own power, with Yildirim saying that his “top priority” is to expand Erdogan’s power, at the expense of his new post.

Historically, the Turkish prime minister holds most of the power in government, with the presidency mostly a figurehead position. Erdogan, however, has been shifting this since becoming president, seeking “reforms” that will give him near-dictatorial power.

Davutoglu, a high-profile politician himself, was clearly resistant to losing so much power, but Yildirim seems fully aware that he’s in office to do exactly that, and with Erdogan now getting a constitutional amendment allowing him to prosecute his political opponents, it seems nothing stands in his way from adding to his authority.

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Turkey’s Erdogan Rejects EU, Won’t Ease Anti-Terror Laws

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ruled out any reforms to his nation’s anti-terror laws, even if it costs his nation the long-sought deal for visa-free travel within the European Union for periods of up to 90 days.

Human rights groups have roundly criticized the Turkish laws for allowing the government to crack down on general dissent, including nationalizing the major newspaper, Zaman, and arresting researchers and journalists for criticizing the president.

Erdogan has insisted his government needs such powers for national security, and says the EU won’t force any changes. If anything, signs are that the Turkish government is moving to increase its powers even further, with ongoing efforts to strip opposition MPs of legal immunity so Erdogan can charge them with terrorism as well.

In March, Erdogan declared that “democracy, freedom, and the rule of law have absolutely no value any longer,” in a speech in which he vowed to revoke that immunity and set the Turkish military on the political opposition to “do what is necessary.”

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Turkey: Erdogan wants to rule Turkey without Davutoglu

Reinhard Baumgarten writes for DW:

There is great cause for alarm in Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has gone to unprecedented lengths to consolidate his power. He is determined to change the constitution and make himself the boundless ruler of the Turkish people by hook or by crook. Voters have declined to help him to that end in two successive parliamentary elections. Both times his Justice and Development Party (AKP) came up clearly shy of the votes needed to assemble a parliamentary majority.

Yet Erdogan, who constantly points out that he is the first Turkish president to be directly elected, refuses to accept the message that voters have sent him. Erdogan appointed Ahmet Davutoglu to succeed him as prime minister because he saw him as a willing executor of his political will. That obviously didn’t work out. Despite his abundant loyalty toward Erdogan, Davutoglu remained too independent.

Tensions have been simmering within the AKP for months now. Party grandees such as Abdullah Gül and Bülent Arinc have openly expressed their displeasure with Erdogan’s shameless lust for power. Nevertheless, such criticism hasn’t changed anything. Quite the opposite: Erdogan, who is obliged by the current constitution to remain neutral on a party level, has strengthened his control over the AKP.

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Is the Obama Admin Ignoring the Role of Turkey and Saudi Arabia in Syria’s 2013 Sarin Gas Attacks? Interview with Seymour Hersh

Amy Goodman talks to Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh who rejects the Obama administration’s claim that the Bashar al-Assad regime carried out deadly chemical weapon attacks in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta in August 2013 that killed hundreds of Syrian civilians. (Democracy Now!)

Turkey’s Intensifying Conflict with the Kurds: Interview with Professor Emin Fuat Keyman

Greg Wilpert talks to Professor Emin Fuat Keyman, Director of Istanbul Policy Center and Professor of International Relations at Sabancı University, who analyzes the history and background of the intensifying conflict between the government of Prime Minister Erdogan and Turkey’s Kurds. (The Real News)

Brussels Bombings Destroy Fiction That All Terrorism Deaths Count as Equal

Neil deMause writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR):

New York Times online edition (3/22/16)When a series of bombs went off at the Brussels airport and in a subway station yesterday, killing 31 people and injuring more than 200, the reaction of the US press was immediate and overwhelming. Every major news outlet turned its website over to coverage of the suicide attacks, often accompanied by live tickers and infographics. “Brussels Attacks Shake European Security” reads the banner headline on today’s New York Times’ front page (3/23/16); the Washington Post (3/22/16) worried that the bombings “made clear that European capitals remain perilously vulnerable despite attempts to dismantle the militant network that perpetrated the worst terrorist attack in Paris in generations last November.”

It was a curious statement, given that just nine days earlier, another European nation’s capital had been the site of a remarkably similar suicide bombing. On March 13, a car bomb went off in Ankara, Turkey, killing 34 people and injuring 125. As in Brussels, the Ankara bombing, carried out by a Kurdish group opposed to Turkey’s military actions in Kurdish regions of Syria, targeted a transit hub—there a heavily trafficked bus stop—and the victims were likewise unsuspecting civilians going about their lives, including the father of international soccer star Umut Bulut (Guardian, 3/14/16), who was on his way back from one of his son’s matches.

If terrorists had set out to conduct a controlled experiment on how the US media covers mass deaths overseas, they couldn’t have planned it any better.

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End Times for the Caliphate?

Patrick Cockburn, author of The Rise of Islamic State, writes for the London Review of Books:

Territory held in northern Syria and IraqThe war in Syria and Iraq has produced two new de facto states in the last five years and enabled a third quasi-state greatly to expand its territory and power. The two new states, though unrecognised internationally, are stronger militarily and politically than most members of the UN. One is the Islamic State, which established its caliphate in eastern Syria and western Iraq in the summer of 2014 after capturing Mosul and defeating the Iraqi army. The second is Rojava, as the Syrian Kurds call the area they gained control of when the Syrian army largely withdrew in 2012, and which now, thanks to a series of victories over IS, stretches across northern Syria between the Tigris and Euphrates. In Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), already highly autonomous, took advantage of IS’s destruction of Baghdad’s authority in northern Iraq to expand its territory by 40 per cent, taking over areas long disputed between itself and Baghdad, including the Kirkuk oilfields and some mixed Kurdish-Arab districts.

The question is whether these radical changes in the political geography of the Middle East will persist – or to what extent they will persist – when the present conflict is over. The Islamic State is likely to be destroyed eventually, such is the pressure from its disunited but numerous enemies, though its adherents will remain a force in Iraq, Syria and the rest of the Islamic world. The Kurds are in a stronger position, benefiting as they do from US support, but that support exists only because they provide some 120,000 ground troops which, in co-operation with the US-led coalition air forces, have proved an effective and politically acceptable counter to IS. The Kurds fear that this support will evaporate if and when IS is defeated and they will be left to the mercy of resurgent central governments in Iraq and Syria as well as Turkey and Saudi Arabia. ‘We don’t want to be used as cannon fodder to take Raqqa,’ a Syrian Kurdish leader in Rojava told me last year. I heard the same thing this month five hundred miles to the east, in KRG territory near Halabja on the Iranian border, from Muhammad Haji Mahmud, a veteran Peshmerga commander and general secretary of the Socialist Party, who led one thousand fighters to defend Kirkuk from IS in 2014. His son Atta was killed in the battle. He said he worried that ‘once Mosul is liberated and IS defeated, the Kurds won’t have the same value internationally.’ Without this support, the KRG would be unable to hold onto its disputed territories.

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Turkey’s Revival of a Dirty ‘Deep State’

Jonathan Marshall writes for Consortium News:

Turkish President Recep Erdogan.Turkey’s embattled President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is resurrecting the “deep state” alliance of secret intelligence operatives and extreme rightists that he so notably challenged just a few years ago while putting hundreds of military officers and other opponents on trial for conspiring against Turkish democracy. In a remarkable about-face, Erdogan is now emulating the ruthless tactics of previous authoritarian rulers at the expense of Turkey’s evolution as a liberal state.

Like many of his secular predecessors, Erdogan has reverted to waging an all-out war against radical Kurdish separatists, the PKK. He is dramatically expanding the once discredited National Intelligence Agency, which in years past recruited Mafia criminals and right-wing terrorists to murder Kurdish leaders, left-wing activists and intellectuals. And he appears to be forging an alliance with ultranationalist members of the National Action Party (MHP), who supplied many of the ruthless killers for those murderous operations.

These developments should alarm U.S. and European leaders. They are ominously anti-democratic trends in a country that once promised to meld the best of Western and Near Eastern traditions. They are also helping to drive Turkey’s secret alliances with Islamist extremists in Syria and its violent opposition to Kurdish groups that are leading the resistance to ISIS in that country.

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Political cartoonist Carlos Latuff talks to RT about his work

You can follow the work of Carlos Latuff on Twitter and at his website.

Turkey’s Erdoğan cites Hitler’s Germany as example of effective government

The Guardian reports:

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan addresses the audience during a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, December 3, 2015. REUTERS/Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Palace Press Office/Handout via ReutersTurkey’s president has been pushing for some time for a new presidential system to govern the country, sparring with critics who accuse him of attempting a power grab.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s latest comments in favour of greater executive powers are unlikely to help him bring those critics round. On Friday he was quoted by Turkish media as citing a striking example of an effective presidential system – Germany under Adolf Hitler.

Asked on his return from a visit to Saudi Arabia whether an executive presidential system was possible while maintaining the unitary structure of the state, he said: “There are already examples in the world. You can see it when you look at Hitler’s Germany.

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Russia says it has proof Turkey involved in Islamic State oil trade

Maria Tsvetkova and Lidia Kelly report for Reuters:

Russia’s defense ministry said on Wednesday it had proof that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his family were benefiting from the illegal smuggling of oil from Islamic State-held territory in Syria and Iraq.

Moscow and Ankara have been locked in a war of words since last week when a Turkish air force jet shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian-Turkish border, the most serious incident between Russia and a NATO state in half a century.

Erdogan responded by saying no one had the right to “slander” Turkey by accusing it of buying oil from Islamic State, and that he would stand down if such allegations were proven to be true. But speaking during a visit to Qatar, he also said he did not want relations with Moscow to worsen further.

At a briefing in Moscow, defense ministry officials displayed satellite images which they said showed columns of tanker trucks loading with oil at installations controlled by Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and then crossing the border into neighboring Turkey.

The officials did not specify what direct evidence they had of the involvement of Erdogan and his family, an allegation that the Turkish president has vehemently denied.

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NATO Adds Air Defenses to Southern Turkey, Fueling Russia Rivalry

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

A week after Turkish warplanes shot down a Russian bomber over Syrian airspace, NATO has announced a plan to deploy yet more warplanes and anti-aircraft missiles in southern Turkey, adding to tensions with Russia along the Syria-Turkey border.

NATO officials suggested the move was designed to “reassure” Turkey, and to fill the gap after Germany and the US removed Patriot missile batteries from the area. Lithuanian FM Linas Likevicius said the deployment was vital to “counter threats” to Turkey.

Yet Turkey doesn’t appear to be at threat from any aircraft at this point, and the move seems designed purely to needle Russia, which has itself been adding to air defenses in northwestern Syria, and has announced its intention to escort bomber along the border to ensure Turkey doesn’t take any more shots at them.

German FM Frank-Walter Steinmeier is calling for a special NATO meeting with Russia, though the Baltic nations seem eager to make the deployment more directly confrontational. Britain has pledged interceptor jets to the deployment, once plans are finalized.

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Is Bilal Erdogan, Son Of Turkey’s President, The Man Who Helps Fund ISIS?

Zero Hedge reports:

[…] While we patiently dig to find who the on and offshore “commodity trading” middleman are, who cart away ISIS oil to European and other international markets in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars, one name keeps popping up as the primary culprit of regional demand for the Islamic State’s “terrorist oil” – that of Turkish president Recep Erdogan’s son: Bilal Erdogan.

His very brief bio:

Necmettin Bilal Erdogan, commonly known as Bilal Erdogan (born 23 April 1980) is the third child of Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, the current President of Turkey.

After graduating from Kartal Imam Hatip High School in 1999, Bilal Erdogan moved to the US for undergraduate education. He also earned a Masters Degree in John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2004. After graduation, he served in the World Bank as intern for a while. He returned Turkey in 2006 and started to his business life. Bilal Erdogan is one of the three equal shareholders of “BMZ Group Denizcilik “, a marine transportation corporation.

Here is a recent picture of Bilal, shown in a photo from a Turkish 2014 article, which “asked why his ships are now in Syria”:

In the next few days, we will present a full breakdown of Bilal’s various business ventures, starting with his BMZ Group which is the name implicated most often in the smuggling of illegal Iraqi and Islamic State through to the western supply chain, but for now here is a brief, if very disturbing snapshot, of both father and son Erdogan by F. William Engdahl, one which should make everyone ask whether the son of Turkey’s president (and thus, the father) is the silent mastermind who has been responsible for converting millions of barrels of Syrian Oil into hundreds of millions of dollars of Islamic State revenue.

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Coalition or Cold War with Russia? Interview with Stephen Cohen

John Batchelor talks to Stephen F. Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics at NYU and Princeton, and he is a contributing editor to The Nation. He is also the author of Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War. Cohen suggests that powerful forces are working against a post-Paris coalition between Russia and European nations lead by France against the Islamic State. (John Batchelor Show)