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Turkey as Israel & NATO's 'Russia bait' in war on Syria
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TonyGosling
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2016 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Turkey’s New Maps Are Reclaiming the Ottoman Empire
https://www.yahoo.com/news/turkey-maps-reclaiming-ottoman-empire-20005 3589.html
Nick Danforth October 23, 2016

In the past few weeks, a conflict between Ankara and Baghdad over Turkey’s role in the liberation of Mosul has precipitated an alarming burst of Turkish irredentism. On two separate occasions, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized the Treaty of Lausanne, which created the borders of modern Turkey, for leaving the country too small. He spoke of the country’s interest in the fate of Turkish minorities living beyond these borders, as well as its historic claims to the Iraqi city of Mosul, near which Turkey has a small military base. And, alongside news of Turkish jets bombing Kurdish forces in Syria and engaging in mock dogfights with Greek planes over the Aegean Sea, Turkey’s pro-government media have shown a newfound interest in a series of imprecise, even crudely drawn, maps of Turkey with new and improved borders.

Turkey won’t be annexing part of Iraq anytime soon, but this combination of irredentist cartography and rhetoric nonetheless offers some insight into Turkey’s current foreign and domestic policies and Ankara’s self-image. The maps, in particular, reveal the continued relevance of Turkish nationalism, a long-standing element of the country’s statecraft, now reinvigorated with some revised history and an added dose of religion. But if the past is any indication, the military interventions and confrontational rhetoric this nationalism inspires may worsen Turkey’s security and regional standing.

At first glance, the maps of Turkey appearing on Turkish TV recently resemble similar irredentist maps put out by proponents of greater Greece, greater Macedonia, greater Bulgaria, greater Armenia, greater Azerbaijan, and greater Syria. That is to say, they aren’t maps of the Ottoman Empire, which was substantially larger, or the entire Muslim world or the Turkic world. They are maps of Turkey, just a little bigger.


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But the specific history behind the borders they envision provides the first indication of what’s new and what isn’t about Erdogan’s brand of nationalism. These maps purport to show the borders laid out in Turkey’s National Pact, a document Erdogan recently suggested the prime minister of Iraq should read to understand his country’s interest in Mosul. Signed in 1920, after the Ottoman Empire’s defeat in World War I, the National Pact identified those parts of the empire that the government was prepared to fight for. Specifically, it claimed those territories that were still held by the Ottoman army in October 1918 when Constantinople signed an armistice with the allied powers. On Turkey’s southern border, this line ran from north of Aleppo in what is now Syria to Kirkuk in what is now Iraq.

When the allies made it clear they planned to leave the empire with a lot less than it held in 1918, it led to renewed fighting in which troops under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk defeated European forces to establish Turkey as it exists today. For the better part of the past century, Turkey’s official history lauded Ataturk for essentially realizing the borders envisioned by the National Pact (minus Mosul, of course), as recognized with the Treaty of Lausanne. It was an exaggerated claim, given the parts of the pact that were left out, but also an eminently practical one, intended to prevent a new and precarious Turkish republic from losing what it had achieved in pursuit of unrealistic territorial ambitions. Indeed, while countries like Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, and Hungary brought disaster on themselves by trying to forcibly rewrite their postwar borders, Turkey — under Ataturk and his successor — wisely resisted this urge.

Erdogan, by contrast, has given voice to an alternative narrative in which Ataturk’s willingness in the Treaty of Lausanne to abandon territories such as Mosul and the now-Greek islands in the Aegean was not an act of eminent pragmatism but rather a betrayal. The suggestion, against all evidence, is that better statesmen, or perhaps a more patriotic one, could have gotten more.

Among other things, Erdogan’s reinterpretation of history shows the ironies behind the widespread talk in the United States of his supposed “neo-Ottomanism.” A decade ago, Erdogan’s enthusiasm for all things Ottoman appeared to be part of an effective strategy for improving relations with the Muslim Middle East, a policy that some U.S. critics saw as a challenge to their country’s role in the region. But refashioning the National Pact as a justification for irredentism rather than a rebuke of it has not been popular among Turkey’s neighbors. Criticism of Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman foreign policy is now as likely to come from the Arab world as anywhere else.

Erdogan’s use of the National Pact also demonstrates how successfully Turkey’s Islamists have reappropriated, rather than rejected, elements of the country’s secular nationalist historical narrative. Government rhetoric has been quick to invoke the heroism of Turkey’s war of independence in describing the popular resistance to the country’s July 15 coup attempt. And alongside the Ottomans, Erdogan routinely references the Seljuks, a Turkic group that preceded the Ottomans in the Middle East by several centuries, and even found a place for more obscure pre-Islamic Turkic peoples like the Gokturks, Avars, and Karakhanids that first gained fame in Ataturk’s 1930s propaganda.

Similarly, in Syria and Iraq, Erdogan is aiming to achieve a long-standing national goal, the defeat of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), by building on the traditional nationalist tools of Turkish foreign policy — namely, the leveraging of Turkish minorities in neighboring countries. The Sultan Murad Brigade, comprising predominantly ethnic Turkmens, has been one of Ankara’s military assets inside Syria against both Bashar al-Assad’s regime and the PKK. Meanwhile, the Turkmen population living around Mosul and its surrounding area has been a concern and an asset for Ankara in Iraq. Turkish special forces have worked with the Iraqi Turkmen Front since at least 2003 in order to expand Turkish influence and counter the PKK in northern Iraq.

Over the past century, the Turkish minorities in northern Greece and Cyprus have played a similar role. That is, their well-being has been a subject of genuine concern for Turkish nationalists but also a potential point of leverage with Athens to be used as needed. (Greece, of course, has behaved similarly with regard to the Greek minority in Turkey. Not surprisingly, both populations have often suffered reciprocally as a result.) In the case of Cyprus, for example, Turkey’s 1974 invasion was as much about defending its strategic position as it was about protecting the island’s Turkish community. Following his statements about Lausanne, Erdogan further upset Greece by stating, “Turkey cannot disregard its kinsmen in Western Thrace, Cyprus, Crimea, and anywhere else.” Yet Athens might take comfort from the case of the Crimean Tatars, which reveals the extent to which geopolitics can lead Turkey to do just this: Although Ankara raised concerns over the status of the Crimean Tatars after Russia seized the peninsula, it seems to have subsequently concluded that improved relations with Moscow take precedence over ethnic affinities.

But Erdogan has also emphasized a new element to Turkey’s communitarian foreign-policy agenda: Sunni sectarianism. In speaking about Mosul, he recently declared that Turkey would not betray its “Turkmen brothers” or its “Sunni Arab brothers.” Like secular Turkish nationalism, this strain of Sunni sectarianism has an undeniable domestic appeal, and Erdogan has shown it can also be invoked selectively in keeping with Turkey’s foreign-policy needs. Erdogan’s new sectarianism is evident in Mosul, where Turkey has warned of the risks to Sunnis should Shiite militias take control of the city. But the policy’s influence is clearest in Syria, where Turkey has been supporting Sunni rebels aiming to topple the Assad regime (including those now struggling to hold the city of Aleppo). In both Iraq and Syria, however, Turkey’s sectarianism has not been allowed to trump pragmatism. Ankara has been keen to maintain a mutually beneficial economic relationship with Iran despite backing opposite sides in Syria and in the past year has also expressed its willingness to make peace with Assad if circumstances require it.

More broadly, Turkey’s current interventionism in Syria and Iraq fits within an established pattern. Not only do countries regularly find themselves sucked into civil wars on their doorstep, but the points at which Turkey has proved susceptible to irredentism in the past have all come at moments of change and uncertainty similar to what the Middle East is experiencing today. In 1939, Ankara annexed the province of Hatay, then under French control, by taking advantage of the crisis in Europe on the eve of World War II. Then, after that war, Syria’s newfound independence prompted some in the Turkish media to cast a glance at Aleppo, and the transfer of the Dodecanese Islands from Italy to Greece also piqued some interest in acquiring them for Turkey. Similarly, Ankara paid little attention to Cyprus when it was firmly under British control, but when talk of the island’s independence began, Turkey started to show its concern. Subsequently, it was only when it appeared Greece might annex the island that Turkey invaded to prevent this change in the status quo. In this light, Turkey’s recent rhetoric is perhaps less surprising following several years in which events and commentators have repeatedly suggested that the entire political order of the modern Middle East is crumbling.

More specifically, though, Turkish policy in the Middle East is driven by an urgent concern stemming from its conflict with the PKK, which has been exacerbated by the group’s gains in northern Syria. The PKK has long shaped Turkey’s relations with its southeastern neighbors. Most notably, Turkey nearly invaded Syria in 1998 in an ultimately successful effort to force Damascus to stop sheltering the group’s leader. Similarly, Turkey has kept military forces in the area of Mosul for the better part of two decades, in order to conduct operations against the PKK. Ankara has always portrayed this intervention, with little controversy in Turkey, as a matter of national security and self-defense. Today, self-defense remains Turkey’s main justification for its activities in Iraq, with Erdogan repeatedly emphasizing that the presence of Turkish forces there “acts as insurance against terrorist attacks targeting Turkey.” As long as the PKK maintains an open presence in Iraq, this is also the most compelling justification, domestically and internationally, for military involvement beyond its borders.

Indeed, to all the specific ethnic, sectarian, and historical rationales he has offered for Turkey’s interest in Mosul, Erdogan has been quick to attach one additional argument: The United States and Russia continue to play an outsized role in the region despite lacking any of these connections to it. Erdogan noted that some countries were telling Turkey, which shares a 220-mile border with Iraq, to stay out. Yet, despite not having history in the region or connection to it, these same countries were “coming and going.” “Did Saddam [Hussein] tell the United States to come to Iraq 14 years ago?” he added.

Behind the history, in other words, Ankara is all too aware of the fact that the power to do so remains the only rationale for foreign intervention that matters. In this regard, the legitimacy of Turkey’s plans for Mosul remains to be seen.



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blimey!


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 10:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Government take over Turkish newspaper, Daily Zaman:

'Zaman newspaper: Seized Turkish daily 'now pro-government':
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35739547

'Turkey's biggest newspaper, Zaman, has published an edition carrying pro-government articles, two days after being taken over by authorities.
On Friday, a court ruled that Zaman, previously linked to an opponent of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, should now be run by administrators.
Its last edition under old ownership on Saturday said Turkey's press had seen one of its "darkest days".
Meanwhile, a newspaper set up by former Zaman staff was launched on Sunday.
Police raided Zaman's Istanbul offices late on Friday hours after a court ruling placed it under state control, but managers were still able to get Saturday's edition to print.
No reason was given by the court for the decision.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the takeover was "legal, not political".....'

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

'Syria said threatening to fire Scud missiles at Israel':
http://www.timesofisrael.com/syria-threatens-to-fire-scud-missiles-at- israel-report/

'The Syrian leadership has sent messages to Israel warning that any further strikes by the IDF on targets within Syria’s borders would be met with Scud rockets fired deep into the Jewish state, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Diyar reported Saturday.

The Assad regime conveyed the message to Israel via Russian mediators, the report said.

According to the report, Syria warned that Israeli strikes on Syrian military targets would be met with the firing of Scud missiles capable of carrying half a ton of explosives at IDF bases, while an attack on civilian targets would see Syria launching a counter strike on the Haifa port and the petrochemical plants in the area.

The report warned that Syria has over 800 Scud missiles and that Syria would not issue any warnings before the missile strikes because Israel does not warn before it hits.

On Wednesday, Israeli jets were reported to have carried out airstrikes near the Syrian capital of Damascus, hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue hitting weapons convoys and rebuffed claims Russia had ordered the strikes halted.

Syrian opposition news outlets reported that the airstrikes took place in the Mount Qasioun region near Damascus. The Israeli raids targeted Syrian army posts in the area, the reports said, in the fourth round of airstrikes attributed to Israel in Syria in less than a week.....'

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Turkey: Dismay as “fantastical allegations” accepted by court
John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International 17 October 2017, 16:34 UTC
https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/10/turkey-dismay-as-fantas tical-allegations-accepted-by-court/

Baseless allegations against 11 human rights defenders, including Amnesty International’s Turkey director and chair, should have been rejected in their entirety, said Amnesty International after an Istanbul court accepted the indictment today.

This is politically motivated prosecution aimed at silencing the work of some of Turkey’s most prominent human rights defenders”

“This indictment fails to provide a shred of incriminating evidence to substantiate the trumped up terrorism charges it contains. In accepting this indictment the Istanbul Court has missed a golden opportunity to bring this grotesque miscarriage of justice to a halt,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director.

“This is politically motivated prosecution aimed at silencing the work of some of Turkey’s most prominent human rights defenders. It beggars belief that anyone who has read the fantastical allegations laid out in the indictment could see it in any other way.”

In accepting this indictment the Istanbul Court has missed a golden opportunity to bring this grotesque miscarriage of justice to a halt”

The 11 defendants are set to have their first hearing on 25 October in Istanbul. Taner Kiliç is set appear before an Izmir court under a separate indictment on 26 October 2017.

Amnesty International will be sending observers to both trials and will publish a critique of the case against them next week.

Background

Ten activists, including İdil Eser, the Director of Amnesty Turkey, were arrested on 5 July whilst Amnesty International’s Turkey Chair, Taner Kılıç, was arrested a month earlier. Under the indictment accepted today, they are accused of membership of a variety of ‘armed terrorist organizations’. These charges carry jail terms of up to 15 years.

On 4 October an Istanbul prosecutor filed an indictment against the Istanbul 10 that included Taner. This means, as well as being tried on 26 October, he will also be tried on 25 October in the “Büyükada case”. In the indictment, the prosecutor called for Taner to be added to the trial because he claims he was aware of preparations for the Büyükada workshop and was in contact with İdil and another of the defendants.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 11, 2018 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why is President Trump impassioned about the case of an American Christian pastor being held "hostage" in Turkey?

Plus, a dire warning from an award-winning novelist who fears Turkey is sliding into fascism. All this, and much more, from CBN News correspondents Jennifer Wishon, Gary Lane, Ben Kennedy, John Waage and George Thomas as they discuss the plight of Pastor Andrew Brunson and future of US-Turkey relations.
http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2018/august/erdogan-claims-cia-mossa d-planning-to-rescue-us-pastor-andrew-brunson

Turkey's president claims the CIA and Mossad, Israel's national intelligence agency, are planning a rescue mission of American pastor Andrew Brunson.

Turkey's president Recep Erdogan reportedly told A-Haber TV, a channel owned by Erdogan's son-in-law, that members of the CIA and Mossad are staying in houses and apartments near Mr. Brunson's home.

Brunson, a 50-year-old native of Black Mountain, North Carolina, was arrested in December 2016 by Turkish authorities who claimed that he was a spy and had connections to a terrorist group – a charge Mr. Brunson has vehemently denied.

He was recently moved to house arrest after spending nearly two years in a Turkish jail. A-Haber TV's website claims Turkish authorities have identified the western agents and are keeping a close watch on their activities. Mr. Brunson has to wear an electronic monitoring device 24 hours a day.



Star Gazetesi 🇹🇷

@stargazete
BRUNSON SOKAĞI AJAN KAYNIYOR

ABD casusu Brunson’ın İzmir’deki evinin bulunduğu sokakta CIA ve MOSSAD’a bağlı istihbarat elemanlarının hareketliliği tespit edildi, Türk emniyeti bölgede atılan her adımı anlık takibe aldı.

https://buff.ly/2M8AJne #GününManşeti @NuhAlbayrak
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Brunson led an evangelical church in İzmir for over 20 years without incident. All that changed in 2016, when he, along with tens of thousands of Turks, were rounded up by authorities during an alleged coup attempt. Mr. Brunson was accused of obtaining state secrets with the intention of overthrowing Turkey's government. He could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted.

Pastor Brunson's case has severely soured relations between the two countries. A delegation of Turkish officials is expected in Washington this week to discuss how to resolve the political impasse. The pending visit comes after the White House slapped sanctions on President Erdogan's justice minister and interior minister, accusing them of playing a role in Brunson's arrest.

During meetings in Singapore, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, despite the sharp deterioration in relations, Turkey remains a key partner in the region.

"Turkey is a NATO partner with whom the United States has every intention of continuing to work cooperatively," Pompeo told reporters, adding that he hoped Mr. Brunson would be allowed to come home soon.

"I made clear that it is well past time that Pastor Brunson be freed and be permitted to return to the United States," he said. "I am hopeful that in the coming days we will see that occur."

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A US trade war with Turkey over a little known pastor? Don't believe a word of it
Erdogan’s real crimes are buying the Russian S-400 missile system for Turkey, refusing to accept US support for America’s Kurdish YPG allies and allowing Islamist fighters to pour over Turkey’s border into Syria along with a load of weapons, mortars and missiles
by Robert Fisk
https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/us-turkey-trump-erdogan-trade-war -a8493956.html


It needs a stroke of genius to soften the heart for poor old Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Those of us who have always believed that Erdogan is a bit off his rocker must still be appalled that a US president infinitely more cracked than the Turkish variety is trying to impoverish Nato’s second largest military ally. True, Erdogan locked up 50,000 Turks – including an American pastor, of whom more later – after the attempted coup against him two years ago, but hasn’t Egypt’s president/field marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi broken this record by banging up 60,000 supposed Islamists in his own country’s prisons? And what about Haider al-Abadi’s mass hangings in Iraq? Or that nasty little post-death crucifixion in Saudi Arabia this week, not to mention that horrid war in Yemen where kids seem to get killed all the time? Or the Israeli habit of shooting down scores of unarmed Palestinians in Gaza? Or that chump in North Korea who appeals to Trump’s sense of humour?


READ MORE
Turkey’s crisis is the first in a while that we can’t blame Trump for
If Erdogan’s family name means “brave falcon” in English, the Sultan of Istanbul has certainly had his wings clipped. Or so we are supposed to believe. Trump, who doesn’t give a toss how many innocents are incarcerated or destroyed in the world, is suddenly trying to neuter Turkey – and all because Pastor Andrew Brunson remains under house arrest in there for allegedly supporting the coup plot allegedly organised by Erdogan’s former colleague, the allegedly mesmeric imam Mohamed Fethullah Gulen, currently residing in Trump’s own country.

I don’t believe a word of it. Trump made little fuss about Brunson’s captivity for many months. It took him almost a year and a half to get into a tantrum about the good Christian family man and missionary in Izmir whose chief characteristics appear to be nothing but wholesome: barbecues, picnics, swimming, movies and board games in the evenings, to quote his sister Beth, “the typical American family though living so far away.” American Evangelical Christians were outraged at the arrest of this Godly man – Christianity was on trial, of course – and their favourite president finally tweeted that “this innocent man of faith should be released immediately”.

And so it came to pass that Trump’s wrath was visited upon by the Muslim president who locked up a man who was only doing God’s work in the comfortable coastal city of Izmir. Double US tariffs on steel and aluminium helped to crash the Turkish lira, which has lost 45 per cent of its value this year, although Erdogan might also be blamed for his refusal to raise interest rates against inflation. But let’s be sane. Is all this because of a Presbyterian pastor?

World news in pictures
16 August 2018
15 August 2018
14 August 2018
13 August 2018

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No. For here’s the real list of Erdogan’s crimes. He is buying the Russian S-400 missile system for Turkey. He refuses to accept US support for America’s Kurdish YPG allies. He allowed Islamist fighters to pour over Turkey’s border into Syria along with a lot of weapons, mortars and missiles – to which Washington had no objections at the time since the US was trying to knock Erdogan’s former friend Bashar al-Assad off his perch. Then, after shooting down a Russian aircraft along the Syrian border in November 2015 – for which he was immediately boycotted by Moscow – Erdogan cuddled up to Putin. It was thus the Russians and the Iranians who first warned Erdogan of the impending “Gulen coup” against him in July 2016. They had been listening in to the Turkish military’s internal radio traffic – and tipped off the Sultan of Istanbul.

And now Erdogan is helping Iran to dodge US sanctions which were imposed after Trump flagrantly tore up the 2015 nuclear agreement, and – in a decision demonstrating the cowardly response of the EU’s own oil conglomerates to Trump’s insanity – has announced that he will continue to import Iranian oil. Thus will Washington’s further threat of increased oil sanctions against Iran be blunted. Sunni Saudi Arabia, one of Trump’s closest allies – where religious freedom for the likes of Pastor Brunson has never existed – is already furious with Erdogan. Not long ago, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman denounced Turkey as part of a “triangle of evil” – the other bits of the “triangle” being Shiite Iran and militant Islamists.

So you can see how things are lining up in the Middle East right now. Erdogan has made good friends out of Putin and Iran’s supreme leader and, as an opponent of Saudi Arabia, is naturally on the best of terms with Qatar, whose Emir – in a miraculous moment which even Pastor Brunson might envy – has just promised an investment of $15bn to Turkey. Saudi Arabia’s siege of Qatar is beginning to look as miserable as its war against the Shiites of Yemen. Turkish troops are stationed in Qatar to “protect” the little emirate against its larger and threatening neighbour – and we all know who that is. And, since Syrian and Qatari relations are steadily being reheated – albeit on the minutest scale – I wonder who will benefit the most.

READ MORE
Erdogan says Turkey to boycott US electronic goods as row escalates
Trump needlessly risks pushing Turkey into Putin’s embrace
Chaos in Turkey feeds fears of wider emerging market crisis
Bashar al-Assad, perhaps? Russian troops are now patrolling the Syrian-Israeli lines below the occupied Golan Heights. The Russians have promised Israel that the comparatively few Iranian forces in Syria will be kept at least 50 miles from this sector. Russia’s ally Syria needs to crush the final Islamist stronghold in Idlib with Russia’s help and push the province’s most intransigent fighters back into Turkey. Qatar has the cash to rebuild Syria and thus extend its influence across the landmass of the Levant to the Mediterranean. If Qatar is going to pour even more billions into Turkey, then we may see some kind of strategic alliance between Doha and Ankara. And a rediscovery of the family friendship between Erdogan and Assad?

Set against this horizon, Erdogan doesn’t need to be a “brave falcon”. Just a wily old bird.

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