Saturday, November 07, 2015

Manpads for Moderates: Was Russian Liner Brought Down by US-Supplied Advanced Missile?

CIA, Saudis to Give "Select" Syrian Militants Weapons Capable Of Downing Commercial Airliners

by Tyler Durden - ZeroHedge

Wednesday brought a veritable smorgasbord of “new” information about the Russian passenger jet which fell out of the sky above the Sinai Peninsula last weekend.

First there was an audio recording from ISIS’ Egyptian affiliate reiterating that they did indeed “down” the plane. Next, the ISIS home office in Raqqa (or Langley or Hollywood) released a video of five guys sitting in the front yard congratulating their Egyptian “brothers” on the accomplishment.

Then the UK grounded air traffic from Sharm el-Sheikh noting that the plane “may well” have had an “explosive device” on board.

Finally, US media lit up with reports that according to American “intelligence” sources, ISIS was probably responsible for the crash.

Over the course of the investigation, one question that’s continually come up is whether militants could have shot the plane down. Generally speaking, the contention that ISIS (or at least IS Sinai) has the technology and/or the expertise to shoot down a passenger jet flying at 31,000 feet has been discredited by “experts” and infrared satellite imagery.

But that’s nothing the CIA can’t fix.

With the Pentagon now set to deploy US ground troops to Syria (and indeed they may already be there, operating near Latakia no less), Washington is reportedly bolstering the supply lines to “moderate” anti-regime forces at the urging of (guess who) the Saudis and Erdogan.

Incredibly, some of the weapons being passed out may be shoulder-fire man-portable air-defense systems, or Manpads, capable of hitting civilian aircraft.

But don’t worry, those will only be given to “select rebels.” Here’s more from WSJ:

The U.S. and its regional allies agreed to increase shipments of weapons and other supplies to help moderate Syrian rebels hold their ground and challenge the intervention of Russia and Iran on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, U.S. officials and their counterparts in the region said.

The deliveries from the Central Intelligence Agency, Saudi Arabia and other allied spy services deepen the fight between the forces battling in Syria, despite President Barack Obama’s public pledge to not let the conflict become a U.S.-Russia proxy war.

Saudi officials not only pushed for the White House to keep the arms pipeline open, but also warned the administration against backing away from a longstanding demand that Mr. Assad must leave office.

In the past month of intensifying Russian airstrikes, the CIA and its partners have increased the flow of military supplies to rebels in northern Syria, including of U.S.-made TOW antitank missiles, these officials said. Those supplies will continue to increase in coming weeks, replenishing stocks depleted by the regime’s expanded military offensive.

An Obama administration official said the military pressure is needed to push Mr. Assad from power.

“Assad is not going to feel any pressure to make concessions if there is no viable opposition that has the capacity, through the support of its partners, to put pressure on his regime,” the official said.

In addition to the arms the U.S. has agreed to provide, Saudi and Turkish officials have renewed talks with their American counterparts about allowing limited supplies of shoulder-fire man-portable air-defense systems, or Manpads, to select rebels. Those weapons could help target regime aircraft, in particular those responsible for dropping barrel bombs, and could also help keep Russian air power at bay, the officials said.

Mr. Obama has long rebuffed such proposals, citing the risk to civilian aircraft and fears they could end up in the hands of terrorists. To reduce those dangers, U.S. allies have proposed retrofitting the equipment to add so-called kill switches and specialized software that would prevent the operator from using the weapon outside a designated area, said officials in the region briefed on the option.

U.S. intelligence agencies are concerned that a few older Manpads may already have been smuggled into Syria through supply channels the CIA doesn’t control.

If that sounds insane to you, that’s because it is. Even as US intelligence (which we can only assume emanates from the CIA) indicates that IS Sinai likely brought down a Russian passenger jet with 224 people on board, the same CIA is working with the Saudis to supply “select rebels” with weapons capable of shooting down commercial airliners.

In order to make sure no one ends up blowing a 747 out of the sky, Washington will “retrofit” the weapons with “special” software that makes sure they can only be used in certain areas.

Make no mistake, this has gone beyond absurd and is now bordering on the bizarre. It’s apparently not enough that the US is supplying anti-tank missiles to rebels shooting at the very same Iran-backed militias that the US implicitly supports across the border in Iraq so now, the CIA and Saudi Arabia will give these rebels the firepower to shoot down planes, meaning that in the “best” case scenario they’ll be firing at Russian fighter jets, and in the worst case scenario these weapons will end up in the “wrong” hands and be used to down commercial flights.

It's difficult to see how John Kerry can attend "peace" talks in Vienna and keep a straight face while chatting with Sergei Lavrov. That's not to say that Russia bears no responsibility for its role in the conflict (sure, Moscow is supporting a "legitimate" government in Syria but they're still dropping bombs on populated areas), but the US and the Saudis are arming Sunni extremist groups and encouraging them to shoot at Russian and Iranian forces. For Obama to suggest this isn't a proxy war is absurd.

Putting this all together, it now appears possible that the US is, i) sending anti-tank weapons to rebels who are shooting at Iranian soldiers, ii) embedding ground troops near Latakia which means they'll almost certainly be engaging Hezbollah directly, and iii) passing weapons capable of downing a commercial airliner to "select" militants days after a Russian passenger jet exploded in the skies above the Sinai Peninsula.

This is all in conjunction with the Saudis and Erodgan, who just rigged an election in Turkey on the way to rewriting his country's constitution.

And the Western media reports this with a straight face as though it all makes some measure of sense...

Heads Up Down Under: Brisbane Low Altitude Blitz Takes Residents by Surpise

Brisbane residents startled by low altitude military flight

by Mike Head - WSWS

7 November 2015

Residents and office workers in Brisbane, Australia’s third largest city, were alarmed last Wednesday morning when a large military transport plane passed over the city, appearing to swoop below the height of the city’s tallest buildings.

The flight by a new Air Force Globemaster was so low and noisy that people in the city and nearby suburbs feared that a plane crash was about to occur. In the suburb of Holland Park, residents came out of their houses into the streets, concerned about the danger.


Low altitude Globemaster over Brisbane Wednesday. Web camera 
photo from Imgur-GEXBPn

The exercise was another display of military might. In November 2012, Globemasters were flown over central Brisbane and again in July this year. FA-18 fighter jets also conducted operations over the city in November 2014, during the G-20 summit in Brisbane. The public is being conditioned to increasingly visible military activity in line with Australia’s involvement in the US “pivot to Asia” and Washington’s escalating provocations against China in the South China Sea.

Unlike the earlier operations, Wednesday’s exercise was unannounced. It appears that a federal government minister and senior air force commanders were directly involved. After the fly-over, the Globemaster C-17A landed at Amberley air force base, 40 kilometres southwest of Brisbane, where it was greeted by Defence Materiel and Science Minister Mal Brough, Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies and Boeing executive Syd Blocher.

Officially, this was a welcoming ceremony for the aircraft, the eighth to be delivered by Boeing to the RAAF, although the plane had arrived at the Amberley base from the US on Monday.

In a media statement issued a day before the flight, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) described it as “high altitude routine training in the Brisbane area.” However, the statement said the exercise would also “showcase the latest C-17A to the public.”

The RAAF acknowledged to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that it failed to warn people about the low fly-by. A spokesman said that when the opportunity arose for “low-altitude tactical training,” those involved took it. “There was an opportunity to take it lower than announced,” he said. “So maybe the media release could have been communicated a bit better for the public, so they were not alarmed.”

The spokesman then indicated that the flight was conducted deliberately, precisely to make a public impression. “More people can see it when it goes lower,” he told the ABC. “If you’re up higher, it gets lost in the background. If it goes lower there is greater visual spectacle.”

Asked by the World Socialist Web Sitewhether Brough had authorised the low flight, the minister’s office denied any knowledge of it, insisting that it was “an operational matter” organised by the defence authorities. Defence Media refused to answer a list of questions from the WSWS about who authorised the exercise, who authorised the lowering of the altitude and the purpose of the exercise.

Globemaster above Brisbane in July, 2015. Photo S20152100, CPL 
Craig Barrett © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

Whoever exactly was involved, the flight displayed utter contempt for the residents and alarmed many people, both physically and politically.

“Almost level with the office window—Level 24,” one Reddit user wrote. Another eye-witness said: “It just flew over Red Hill about 100m off the ground and scared the sweet f*** out of me. What the hell!!” Among the comments on Twitter, one resident wrote: “Ok I just thought of Tomorrow When the War began with that plane that flew over.”

One office worker told the ABC the plane did “a nose-dive within 15 metres of the roof of the Brisbane Convention Centre, below the level of the neighbouring multi-storey offices. We stood frozen for several minutes waiting to hear the following smash as it clipped the edge of South Bank before plunging into the river.

“Returning to the office we jumped online to find out what happened. I was furious to find out that this was a planned military operation.” She said the exercise felt like it was designed to intimidate the public. “How else can they explain the need to perform this stunt in a public area but to coerce people to feel the terror of war and war machines?”

A Holland Park resident told the WSWS: “The flight path of the Globemaster aircraft took it over a number of Brisbane suburbs, including my own, which is about nine kilometres from the city centre… The roar of the jet engines was almost deafening and, quite frankly, frightening.

“I really thought a commercial passenger plane was about to crash into a residential area close by, as did many of my neighbours, who came out of their houses to try to determine what had happened.”

He asked why the air force supposedly took the “opportunity” to turn a scheduled high-altitude test flight into an unannounced low-level pass over Brisbane. “Why Brisbane City, of all places? West of Amberley air base there are plenty of unpopulated or semi-populated areas.

“The only conclusion I can come to is that this was a deliberate, contemptuous act, designed to intimidate and terrify the populace, and to demonstrate the power that lies in the hands of the ruling class and its military, i.e., ‘We can do what we like, when we like and where we like’.”

Costing at least $350 million each, the eight Globemaster aircraft have been purchased since 2006 in close cooperation with the US in order to rapidly deploy large numbers of troops, combat equipment, tanks and helicopters to war zones, and integrate that capacity into American operations. This is part of an aggressive buildup of the armed forces to participate in US-led interventions around the world, including against China and Russia.

“With extraordinary lift and range, the C-17A Globemaster is an integral part of the Australian Defence Force’s airlift capability,” Minister Brough told the welcoming ceremony. He said the aircraft had already “played a central role in “supporting the international effort to combat Daesh [ISIS] in Iraq and Syria,” and “recovering the victims of the MH17 tragedy in the Ukraine,” as well as in humanitarian relief operations.

Brough emphasised how quickly the latest two planes arrived, after being ordered in April. “Australia has worked closely with the United States Air Force to acquire the additional operating capability within a short time-frame, supporting the government’s commitment to building a strong, capable and sustainable Australian Defence Force.”

The acquisition of the two additional C-17s, taking the fleet from six to eight, involves a $1 billion project, comprising $700 million for the two aircraft plus sustainment, and a further $300 million for a new, dedicated C-17 maintenance hangar plus aircraft hardstand and taxiway upgrades at Amberley.

Amberley is Australia’s largest air force base, employing more than 5,000 personnel. It is currently being transformed into a “superbase,” hosting F/A-18F Super Hornets, F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters, KC-30A aerial refueling aircraft and the C-17 Globemasters.

Behind their backs, the people of Brisbane are being placed on the front line of a possible US-led war over China. Already, planes from the base are being used to conduct bombing operations in partnership with the US in Iraq and Syria. As well, the Globemaster fly-over is a warning that this military capacity can be used domestically in the event of popular opposition to this militarist agenda.

Harper du Afrique!?

From PM to corporate shill in Africa

by Yves Engler

November 3, 2015

If his predecessors’ trajectories are any indication, Stephen Harper will soon join a handful of corporate boards or a law firm and be paid handsomely to advance Canadian business interests in Africa. Almost every prime minister since Pierre Trudeau (Joe Clark, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin) left office and lobbied on behalf of Canadian corporate interests profiting from the continent.

Companies generally appoint politicians to their board of directors or contract their services through a law firm. The hope is that they can open doors. The smaller, poorer and more aid-dependent a nation, the more likely this is so.

When asked why he appointed Brian Mulroney to his board, Peter Munk, long-time chairman and founder of Barrick Gold, told Peter C. Newman: “He has great contacts. He knows every dictator in the world on a first name basis.” In March, former Conservative Foreign Minister John Baird joined Mulroney on Barrick’s international advisory board.

A month after leaving office in December 2003, Chrétien joined the law firm Heenan Blaikie and over the next 13 months traveled to Niger, Nigeria, Gambia, Angola and the Congo to advance the interests of its clients.

According to the Globe and Mail, Calgary-based TG World Energy hired Chrétien to help it “get out of a pickle in the impoverished African nation of Niger.” TG’s rights to explore 18 million acres of Niger’s wilderness for oil and gas were revoked by the government, which argued that TG failed to fulfill its investment targets. Niger then awarded the concession to a subsidiary of the China National Petroleum Corp.

The Calgary company sued Niger’s government and went to arbitration with the Chinese firm. “It also asked Mr. Chrétien to intervene,” reported the Globe and Mail. “The former prime minister spoke with officials of China National Petroleum during a trip to Beijing and then in March of 2004, he flew into Niamey, the Niger capital. In normal circumstances, the best TG World could have hoped to get on its own was a meeting with the energy minister. But Mr. Chrétien managed to snag a meeting with the president.” Chrétien’s lobbying led to a new agreement between TG World, Niger and the Chinese corporation, which saw the company’s stock increase from eight cents to more than a dollar within a year.

Chrétien used his reputation to advance Canadian corporate interests in Gambia as well. In 2004 he visited Gambian dictator Yahya Jammen to discuss offshore petroleum concessions for Calgary’s Buried Hill Energy. After the meeting, Chretien said: “I met the President, when I was the Prime Minister of Canada. … We have been negotiating with the government of The Gambia to find out if there is oil off-shore here. And it is a very complicated trial and we’ve made a lot of progress and we hope we can build the company if we negotiate.”

In 2014, the firm that employed Chrétien disintegrated. A Financial Post article headlined “How Heenan Blaikie’s Stunning Collapse Started with a Rogue African Arms Deal,” discusses how Chrétien and colleague Jacques Bouchard Jr.’s efforts to drum up African business sparked a rift within the law firm. But Chrétien’s services remained highly prized. Soon after Heenan Blaikie’s demise, Dentons Canada made Chrétien a partner and appointed him vice president of the law firm’s board of directors.

Former prime minister and long-time foreign affairs minister Joe Clark worked for several companies operating in various African countries. Clark helped a small Calgary-based company secure exploration rights for oil and gas in Tanzania and Mozambique. The company, Suprex Energy Corporation, sent out a press release in 1997 announcing they acquired these exploration rights “with the assistance of the Right Honourable Joe Clark and the Honourable Harvie Andre [another former Mulroney cabinet minister].”

First Quantum appointed Clark its special adviser for African affairs to lobby on its behalf in the Congo. He reportedly facilitated a 1998 meeting between Canadian officials and Congo’s Minister of Mines Frédéric Kibassa Maliba, and later pressured Canadian diplomats to demand a review of a 2002 UN report criticizing the manner in which First Quantum acquired its concession. Alongside his corporate work in the Congo, Clark engaged in diplomatic work and led the Carter Center’s delegation of election observers that gave Congo’s controversial 2007 presidential election its stamp of approval.

In Ghana, Clark used his name recognition as former chair of the Commonwealth Committee of Foreign Ministers on Southern Africa to assist Triton Logging secure the world’s largest underwater logging license. BC Business magazine reported: “Confronted by a former Canadian Prime Minister, the Ghanaians in the room are spellbound. Clark, who is a director of the Canadian Council of Africa, might as well be Canada’s sitting prime minister.”

Clark secured an agreement for Triton that had the potential to generate multiple billions of dollars, which also allotted the Vancouver-based company 80 per cent of all profits. Ghanaian Chronicle publisher Kofi Coomson criticized the generous deal and called on Clark to “do the right thing.” In an interview with BC Business, Coomson said: “Ghana’s interests should come first, and Mr. Clark’s personal interests come second.”

Clark remains influential on the continent partially because he continues to engage in African politics. His diplomatic roles have included leading international election observation teams in Cameroon, Congo and Nigeria.

Will Harper join the long line of Prime Ministers who’ve left office and profited from Africa?

This article first appeared in Ricochet


Some thoughts on RN35: The INTERNET – with Giordano

by Juice Rap News

Hello fellow Internet dwellers – Giordano here.

Yesterday Hugo and I dropped our latest episode of Juice Rap News – all about the medium that permits us to connect: The INTERNET (feat. Dan Bull).

Judging by the comments on the video, many of you feel the same way as we do about the Internet. Which is really awesome because, as you probably know by now, we love it when people get as excited and inspired as we do about some of the topics we cover – particularly when they are as important as this one.

I think this, together with RN30 (The New World Order), might be one of the most important episodes in the whole series. And since there is evidently a lot of interest in this topic, I thought it might be a good idea to scribble one of my sporadic blog posts and share some of the thoughts and ideas that inspired it.

Who will decide the future of the Internet?

I’ve been wanting us to make this Rap News episode for a long time: a manifesto of sorts about the Internet which calls on us to take a simple yet vital step: to raise our consciousness of the Internet. That is, not simply to “use” it, but to also be conscious of it’s state – and most importantly, of it’s fate.

Keeping in mind that the Internet’s fate and ours are intrinsically connected (we already live much of our lives online, and will even more so in the future), this heightened consciousness is urgently required right now, as we’ve recently entered a historical phase in which powerful forces are vying to shape the future of the Internet in ways that are not always in the public interest.

I’m not saying we need to march in the streets (yet). Simply being more conscious of the Internet’s state, is a powerful act. As Julian Assange pointed out in a recent article, perceiving the Internet as a field of struggle between competing forces and interests, is an essential first step towards influencing it’s destiny.

The ultimate goal, however, might not be so much to choose which one of the interest groups to align ourselves with, but rather to understand that the best outcome is an Internet in which ALL key competing interests and agenda are represented in a balanced way: from civil liberties to national security; from big-business Zuckerberg entreneurship to mindless cat-memes – in such a way that they keep each other in check.

This way, we can benefit from the good that each of these groups provides – security, liberty, privacy, wealth, lulz – without letting any one of them dominate.

Well, that’s the rational side of the episode. But a manifesto also has to be bold and grand, and so I couldn’t resist going metaphysical, because I feel the Internet embodies something quite divine – an appropriate adjective given that all divine things are ultimately the product of human imagination. And so, let us for a moment imagine the Internet as a human being: What kind of person would it be? Not your average human, to be sure: still in its adolescence, s/he has already Revolutionized centuries of centralised control over the flow of information; unleashed a Revelation of knowledge on a scale of biblical proportions; marked an Evolution in human consciousness – and potentially an Apocalypse in terms of its functionality as a tool of tyranny (eg censorship, mass surveillance etc).

If all this were the work of a real human, we would probably call them the “Messiah”. (The Netsiah?).


Dan Bull impersonates the Internet in RN35

The Internet is of course not God’s work – it’s ours. And yet it is undeniably an agent of massive social change, akin to that which human mystical traditions have for millennia associated with the work of a messianic figure. And so, I wonder: could this be what the Internet is, the manifestation of our age-old coolective messianic will, wrought into reality over the course of millennia and billions of lives, dreams, prayers and battles? ‘A soaring thought I admit!’

Anyways, those are some of the thoughts and ideas which led to RN35: The INTERNET. It’s a really special episode for us. Both Hugo and I value the medium of the Internet, it has been a formative part of our respective educations, and so it is fitting that we should dedicate an episode entirely to helping to raise consciousness about its state and destiny. Judging by the comments on the video, we’re not the only ones to feel that way about the Internet.

It’s also a special episode because we finally managed to feature a cameo with the brilliant Dan Bull! We first heard from Dan back in 2010, around the time we were making RN6 (Cablegate). We’ve wanted to collaborate with him ever since, but it took 4 years to make it happen. It’s an honour to have collaborated with him finally. And we like to think that this collaboration happened just at the time it should have. We could think of no better person to personify the Internet.

Huge props and respect to Hugo Farrant for once again lending his incredible art to helping me convey these ideas in a form that resonates so strongly with so many people out there (a read through the comments on the video can testify to this). I don’t know of anyone else who can take such relatively complex concepts and convey them through rhyme, delivering them in such a powerful and compelling way; in case anyone is still unaware of this, Hugo does all the voices you hear (except of course Dan Bull!). And seriously massive respect to the other amazing artist on this episode – Adrian Sergovich, who composed all the stirring orchestra; arrangements which accompany the beats. Again, if the ideas and concepts of this episode touch you in a powerful way it is in great part thanks to Adrian’s music.

Well folks… That’s all for now. This is going to be our last Juice Rap News report for 2015, and for some time to come, so we wanted to make it a big one. I really hope you enjoy it and that it resonates with you too. Here’s the link to the video again – thanks for reading/watching and sharing.


Boots on the Ground: America's Next Phase in the War Against Syria

US Invasion of Syria Begins

by Tony Cartalucci - NEO

As previously warned about in June of 2015, the United States has announced that it will officially begin ground operations in Syria through the use of special forces.

The Washington Post in its article, “Obama seeks to intensify operations in Syria with Special Ops troops,”would report that:

President Obama is sending a small number of Special Operations troops to northern Syria, marking the first full-time deployment of U.S. forces to the chaotic country.

The mission marks a major shift for Obama, whose determination to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has been balanced by an abiding worry that U.S. troops not be pulled too deeply into the in­trac­table Syrian conflict.

The latest deployment will involve fewer than 50 Special Operations advisers, who will work with resistance forces battling the Islamic State in northern Syria but will not engage in direct combat, Obama administration officials said.

Admission of Special Forces in Syria is Just the Beginning

While the US claims this move is to “defeat the Islamic State (ISIS),” it is instead clearly a move to establish long-sought “buffer zones” or “safe zones” in Syria where the Syrian government can no longer operate. US airpower will also undoubtedly be used to cover these special forces, creating a defacto no-fly-zone wherever they operate.

The map accompanying the Washington Post article clearly shows ISIS territory straddling the last remaining supply corridor being used to supply the terror group as well as others including Al Qaeda’s al Nusra Front from NATO-member Turkey’s territory. US special forces will likely begin operating in these areas, and zones carved out as US operations expand.

The eventual outcome, if these operations are successful, will be the division and destruction of Syria as a nation-state. This is more than mere speculation – this is a conclusion drawn by signed and dated policy papers produced by the Brookings Institution, who has called for such zones since as early as 2012, but under different contrived pretexts.

In the March 2012 Brookings Institution”Middle East Memo #21″ “Assessing Options for Regime Change” it is stated specifically (emphasis added):

An alternative is for diplomatic efforts to focus first on how to end the violence and how to gain humanitarian access, as is being done under Annan’s leadership. This may lead to the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power. This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Asad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts.

More recently, in a June 2015 Brookings document literally titled, “Deconstructing Syria: A new strategy for America’s most hopeless war,” it is stated that (emphasis added):

The idea would be to help moderate elements establish reliable safe zones within Syria once they were able. American, as well as Saudi and Turkish and British and Jordanian and other Arab forces would act in support, not only from the air but eventually on the ground via the presence of special forces as well. The approach would benefit from Syria’s open desert terrain which could allow creation of buffer zones that could be monitored for possible signs of enemy attack through a combination of technologies, patrols, and other methods that outside special forces could help Syrian local fighters set up.

Were Assad foolish enough to challenge these zones, even if he somehow forced the withdrawal of the outside special forces, he would be likely to lose his air power in ensuing retaliatory strikes by outside forces, depriving his military of one of its few advantages over ISIL. Thus, he would be unlikely to do this.

Unfortunately for US policymakers, it is no longer only Syria that US special forces and accompanying airpower must worry about. Russia, by invitation of Damascus, is now operating militarily across Syria, including along Turkey’s border where the US has long sought to establish its “safe zones.”

The US has openly committed to the invasion and occupation of Syrian territory. It does so with the intent of carving Syria up into a series of dysfunctional, weak zones to literally “deconstruct” Syria as a functioning nation-state. It is doing this unable to cite any credible threat Syria poses to US national security and without any semblance of a mandate granted by the United Nations. It also does so with the prospect of triggering direct war with nuclear-armed Russia in a region Russia is operating legally.

A Desperate Move to Save a Bankrupt Agenda

America’s latest actions are a desperate move sought by an increasingly hysterical political and corporate-financier establishment in Washington and on Wall Street. Recent hearings conducted by the US Senate Committee on Armed Services have struggled to produce a credible response to America’s unraveling criminal conspiracy aimed at Syria, particularly in the wake of Russia’s recent intervention. The committee and witnesses brought before it, have struggled to formulate a response – however – no-fly-zones and US troops on the ground have been discussed at length.

It is a poorly calculated bluff. The presence of US special forces and US airpower operating illegally in and above Syria, meant to deny Syria access to its own territory will take time to implement. The official number of US special forces being sent into Syria is said to not exceed 50. Syria and its allies could insert an equal or larger number of forces into these same areas to essentially create a “safe zone” from “safe zones.” Bringing America’s illegal actions before the UN would also be a sound measure ahead of potential confrontations with US forces operating uninvited in Syria.

The premise that ISIS must be fought and defeated by striking them in Iraq and Syria is betrayed by America’s own admission that the organization has already spread far beyond the borders of either nation. ISIS is clearly not supporting itself on the limited resources found within either country.

Were the US truly interested in stopping ISIS, it would strike at its sponsors in Ankara and Riyadh. Of course, it was clear, well over a year ago, that the appearance of ISIS would be used intentionally to accomplish US geopolitical objectives in both Syria and Iraq, serving as a pretext for wider, long-sought after direct Western military intervention.

The myth that dividing and destroying Syria while deposing its sitting government will somehow alleviate the violence in Syria and reduce the ongoing migrant crisis Europe faces, is betrayed by the fact that a similar premise used to sell intervention in Libya has only led to greater chaos in North Africa, and the creation of the migrant crisis in the first place.

If the world, including Europe, seeks to prevent the spread of ISIS and the expansion of an already growing migrant crisis, stopping the United States and its partners before they create another “Libya” in the Levant must become top priority. And while it is unlikely that Europe will show any resolve in doing so, it would be hoped that Syria and its allies realize the consequences of failing now, at this juncture, and to whom’s borders the chaos will attempt to cross over into next.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

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A Dissenting Look at Veterans/Remembrance Day

Audio: Global Research News Hour Takes on Veterans/Remembrance Day

by David Swanson - Let's Try Democracy

07 November 2015

This episode of the Global Research News Hour takes a dissenting look at the Remembrance and Veterans' Day ceremonies,and similar memorializing and valourization of the soldier as an instrument by which anti-war sentiments and organizing are subverted.

The episode looks at what it will take to dismantle the mythology of militarism in our society.

We speak with an outspoken anti-war activist and blogger, who is also the author of several books including 'War is a Lie' and 'When the World Outlawed War'. We also air a previously broadcast interview with Stan Goff and Joshua Key.

Stan Goff is a Retired Master Sergeant from the U.S. Army. He is now a pacifist and author of a number of books including his most recent, Borderline – Reflections on War, Sex, and Church from Wipf and Stock (Cascade Books).

Joshua Key deserted the Iraq War in 2003,and crossed the border into Canada in 2005. He is the author along with Lawrence (Book of Negroes) Hill of The Deserter’s Tale: The Story of an Ordinary Soldier who Walked Away from the War in Iraq. Having failed to secure refugee status, he is concerned he could soon be deported from Canada and sent to a military prison.

Clayoquot Sound Defenders to Norway: Taking Fish Farm Fight to the Source

Clayoquot Action is Heading to Norway

by Clayoquot Action

There is quite a buzz around Tofino these days—people are excited by the recent victory of the Ahousaht First Nations who evicted Cermaq’s new salmon farm from Yaakswiis. There is a feeling of momentum and a dawning realization that we will be able to get these industrial feedlots out of the pristine waters of Clayoquot Sound, just like we put an end to clearcut logging back in the day.

There’s also a buzz around Clayoquot Action’s next mission: we’re travelling to Norway this January to put pressure on Norwegian salmon farming giant Cermaq. We’ll deliver a clear message: get your polluting fish farms out of the pristine waters of Clayoquot Sound!

The team: Joe Martin of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations, John Rampanen from Ahousaht and Kelsemaht First Nations, and Bonny Glambeck & Dan Lewis from Clayoquot Action. You can help send us north of the Arctic Circle to Alta, to attend a wild salmon conference where we'll meet with the President of the indigenous Sami Parliament, and build alliances with the cutting edge of Norway's wild salmon movement. Then on to Bergen, the global capital of salmon farming, and to the capital of Norway to deliver a petition from Alexandra Morton.

This project is two-thirds funded thanks to Mountain Equipment Coop and a private donor. Now we need to raise another ten thousand dollars to cover the cost of travel to and within Norway!

We've set up a Indiegogo crowdfunding webpage. You won't believe the amazing perks that Tofino businesses have donated to help us raise the funds. Take a look at them here.

The momentum has begun. It’s time to pull together to remove salmon farms from the waters of Clayoquot Sound. You can be part of this!

Thank you.

For the Earth,
Dan Lewis
Executive Director

P.S. Please donate this weekend to help boost us on Indiegogo so more people will see our page.
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MK17 and Metrojet 9268: A Tale of Two Terrorist Attacks

The proof is in the proofs : US Spy Sats See Everything, Except when the Government Says They Didn’t

by Dave Lindorff  - This Can't Be Happening

November 07, 2015

There is something fishy going on in the way the US is talking about civilian plane crashes that are in some way linked, or said to be linked to Russia. In the case of the latest tragic mid-air break-up of Russian Metrojet Flight 9268, which killed all 224 people aboard on a flight from Egypt back to Russia a few days ago, CNN is reporting [1] US that intelligence sources say US spy satellite showed a “heat signature” that could indicate an explosion aboard the plane.

Here’s the CNN report:

A U.S. military satellite detected a midair heat flash from the Russian airliner before the plane crashed Saturday, a U.S. official told CNN.

Intelligence analysis has ruled out that the Russian commercial airplane was struck by a missile, but the new information suggests that there was a catastrophic in-flight event -- including possibly a bomb, though experts are considering other explanations, according to U.S. officials.

Analysts say heat flashes could be tied to a range of possibilities, including a bomb blast, a malfunctioning engine exploding or a structural problem causing a fire on the plane.

Now note that this information about a spy satellite image comes just days after the crash.

Meanwhile, it’s been over a year and a half since the 2014 crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine -- an incident that also saw a civilian airliner destroyed in midair. In this case, the US insists the crash was caused by a Russian-built BUK anti-aircraft missile provided to, and launched by pro-Russian separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine.

The US has made this claim ad nauseum, but has never provided a shred of evidence to support its charge. Meanwhile, as a number of critics have pointed out, with Ukraine in a hot civil war in which one side -- the post-coup Ukrainian government forces -- were getting NATO backing, and the other, the two breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, were receiving Russian backing, it is a certainty that the US had moved not one but multiple spy satellites into position to monitor the region around the clock by the time of the Flight 17 shoot-down.

So where are the satellite images to support a claim that a BUK missile fired from rebel-held territory and by rebel forces downed that plane, killing all 298 people aboard?

As critics like award-winning journalist Robert Parry [2] and retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern [3] have pointed out, if the US had satellite imagery showing a BUK missile contrail -- and this large, fast-moving rocket leaves a dramatic contrail all the way from its launch site to its high-altitude target (see below), making assessing of blame quite easy -- it would long since have been released or leaked to a US corporate media that have been quick to rub with anti-Russian assertions and propaganda put out by the US government.


The BUK antiaircraft missile leaves a clear contrail from its launch 
 site to its target, which any satellite image would clearly show.

This leaves us with two possibilities to ponder: Either there simply are no satellite photos showing a BUK launched by Ukrainian rebels in Eastern Ukraine at Flight 17, or those photos that exist show something quite different, like a BUK being launched by Ukrainian government sources, or else, perhaps the current claim that satellite images show a heat signature around the Russian plane in Egypt are false (no image has been provided to back up the assertion of a heat signature).

Of course, there may eventually be evidence pointing to a bomb – the Russians are now looking for signs of explosive residue on the wreckage. But until such evidence is found, why, one might ask, would the US jump to make a false claim of a bomb being responsible for the Russian plane crash over the Sinai Desert, when it could as easily have been a fuel tank or engine explosion that wrecked the plane?

Well, consider that at the moment, Russian president Vladimir Putin has been trumping the US in a number of conflict regions, stymying US plans to bring Ukraine into NATO, blocking a US plan to establish a no-fly zone over Syria by openly sending fighter-bombers and cruise-missile-equipped ships to Syria to attack President Bashar al-Assad’s Islamic State and Al Nusra enemies at Assad’s invitation, and backing Iran in its support of both Assad and the embattled Iraqi government. All the while, Putin’s popularity at home has been soaring into the high 80-90percent range according to polls [4].

Perhaps the thinking at the White House is that by suggesting it was a bomb, and not a structural defect that brought down a Russian civilian aircraft, killing hundreds of Russian citizens, the Russian people might logically link that purported bombing to Putin’s actions in Syria and his antagonism of IS and Al Nusra, and might then turn against him.

One thing is clear. If the US has satellites monitoring the Sinai, where there is no war going on, it most certainly had satellites monitoring Ukraine at the time of the downing of Flight 17, and if it’s willing to announce that its satellite caught the moment of the explosion of Flight 9268 and is willing to talk about that, it should also be willing to show what its satellites saw when Flight 17 was downed.

The American people, and the people of the world, should demand this of the US government.


Singing for Genocide: Hollywood Shines for Israel's Occupation

Celebrities Raise $31 Million for Israeli Military in Just One Night

by IMEMC News/Agencies

November 07, 2015

A sold-out Western Region Gala event at the Beverly Hilton Hotel was attended by American and Israeli guests, this last Friday night. 

Among the present guests were: actors Jason Alexander, Antonio Banderas, Liev Schreiber, Jason Segel and Mark Wahlberg, as well as KISS bassist, Israeli dual-citizen, Gene Simmons.
Photo: Noam Chem

“For the past nine years I have watched this gala grow into the preeminent charity event it is today, and I am truly humbled by the funds raised yesterday, which are a testament to the importance of the FIDF organization and its mission. The overwhelming support from the Los Angeles community continues to amaze me,” said entertainment mogul Haim Saban, a national board member of FIDF (Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces).

According to Israeli media, the event focused on the “lone soldiers, who leave their families and native countries behind to serve in the army, and included testimonies from the mothers of fallen soldiers.” Apparently, it also featured a presentation from a US veteran on the impact of Israeli medical technology on the lives of Americans.

PNN reports that the FIDF was established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors, and provides educational, cultural and recreational programs and facilities for Israeli soldiers. 

Related Link(s):

Friday, November 06, 2015

Rotten Turkey and the Coming Revulsion

Turkey – Rotten Politics and Promise of Revolution: In discussion with Yiğit Günay

by Andre Vltchek - CounterPunch

October 26, 2015, Istanbul, Turkey

AV: I have worked in more than 150 countries, all over the world. Turkey is definitely one of the most fascinating, and fascinating because it is also one of the most complex of all countries.

YG: Turkey as a country is a very peculiar place. It is a capitalist country that has historically sided with Western imperialism and in the past decade it has tried to obtain a certain regional power. Its ambitions have lead to wars because the Turkish state is a member of NATO and it has been involved in the military ground conflicts in Syria and Libya.

How do we describe this peculiarity? Historically, Turkey is a Western ally. But then, with this present AKP (Justice and Development Party) government… the AKP is not only a government, but it is a “project”, an “international project.” What does that mean? It is not like someone pushed some button in Washington and created AKP – no, it was not like that. But eventually, it became a part of an international project. You see, during the Bush era and his “War on Terror” doctrine, the United States was only left with the Israel and Kurds in Northern Iraq, as its regional allies.

AV: Apart from Saudi Arabia…

YG: Apart from Saudi Arabia, yes… But north of Saudi Arabia they did not have anyone else. And the West has a very complex relationship with Saudi Arabia, not really fully trusting it… The War on Terror doctrine is pretty basic. In the simple mind of Bush, if you were a Muslim, you were on one side, if you were a non-Muslim, then you were on the other side; on the “right side”. We all know how fucked-up that policy was. A tremendous mess was created in Iraq and elsewhere, and eventually, things had to be somehow changed. When Obama came to power, things somehow evolved. The new idea was: “we need more allies in the region, and we should be able to communicate with the Muslim population.” For this, the AKP government of current president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was a perfect candidate. Turkey is a trusted Western ally. The AKP members are Islamists, but in the same time very open to any kind of collaboration.

Turkey is changing. Secularism and state economy doctrines were never really fully implemented here. The state economy was being altered, dismantled, and after the 1980 coup, replaced with a neo-liberal dogma, with privatization all over Turkey.

AV: The Kemalism was just a symbol…

YG: Exactly. Always… But AKP brought much more profound changes.

AV: …Changes towards much more extreme capitalism?

YG: Yes, but Turkey was already capitalist. The most profound changes were towards the Islamisation of the country.

AV: We all know that Saudi Wahhabism was promoted and implemented by the West, all over the region, but also in the country with the largest Muslim population on earth – Indonesia. It is hardly a “Muslim project”; I see destruction of a socialist and progressive Islam as a “Western Christian project”. Is the same thing now happening in Turkey?

YG: It is an extremely complicated subject, and we could easily write an entire book on it. But I would say that in Turkey, we see more influence of the Muslim Brotherhood doctrine, than that of Wahhabism.

AV: Including the influence on this government…

YG: Including on the influence this government, yes. During the so-called Arab Spring, there were many conflicts between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and on each occasion, Turkey was allying itself with Qatar, not with Saudi Arabia.

AV: But it is a radicalized Islam, coming from the Gulf that is now influencing Turkey…

YG: Yes, exactly. And due to this form of Islamisation, the social context is also changing.

AV: I have argued lately that the West actually managed to destroy socialist Islam in most of historically Muslim and tolerant, secular parts of the world, particularly after the Second World War; be it in Iran in 1953, or in Egypt or in Indonesia in 1965. So what we see now coming from the Gulf may be actually a new breed of Islam, a bizarre implant that is definitely not “home-grown”. Recently I was speaking in Teheran, Iran. There, one of the local philosophers, argued that the West is actually trying to create a new religion, and promote it all over the Middle East and beyond…

YG: I see your point. But it is different here, in Turkey. Historically, in Turkey, there has never been a progressive Islamist movement. The only exception was during the War of Liberation, in 1920. Because during that period, there was a Muslim group in the Aegean part, waging war against the Greeks. They were called “Green Army”, and they were closely allied with the Bolsheviks.

Secularism is a part of any progressive movement in Turkey. If you are not secular, you are not really progressive. It is as simple as that here.

AV: But here we are actually coming to that “confusing part”. I know many people in Turkey. My history with your country goes back at least some 20 years. Unfortunately, it appears to me that most of the secular people that I know in Turkey are extremely pro-Western, pro-European. Their culture, their philosophic references and preferences, lie proudly in Paris or London, if not in New York. They seem to be directing, even pushing Turkey towards the West. And considering that Turkey is already a capitalist country and a member of NATO, their efforts are making Turkey more and more allied with the Western imperialism.

YG: Yes, this is an excellent point, a point that makes it very difficult not to get confused about the whole thing. Let me try to respond to this.

First of all, people that we are surveying here in Istanbul are not representing the entire Turkey. Also, the number of atheists in Turkey is huge.

AV: How huge?

YG: The last estimate was 10%, but I think it is more.

But back to the issue that you raised: inside the secular groups, there are also some liberal tendencies that are powerful. The Turkish liberals, like in the rest of the world… they want Turkey to become a part of the European Union, they are pro-NATO and they are supporting privatization… These are the orthodox liberals, and during its first years, they were backing the AKP government… They were like this because they were promoting the Western understanding of “liberalism”, like the “human rights”, “tolerance”, and etcetera… They used to say: “Those Muslims also have rights, etc.” But, Turkey is not France, the Muslims are not immigrants, and the context is absolutely different… Many of the “liberals” were members of the bourgeoisie, some belonging to the elites, to the upper class…

But if you look closely at the bigger group of secularists here in Turkey, they are either Alawites (many of them are not religious at all), or socialists, Communists, also the Kurds… Those people are not part of the phenomena that you described; they are not pro-Western. If you talk to them, chances are that some 90% would be strongly against Western imperialism.

AV: Right now, in Turkey, there are many people who are locked in prisons… Even some top military brass, but also many intellectuals… Is Turkey divided? Is even its military divided between those pro-Western forces and the officers who would want to see a strong independent Turkey?

YG: This is also very complicated issue, like everything in Turkey. Inside the Turkish army, at the higher levels, any general who is against the alliance with the NATO would be like a polar bear sitting in the desert of Saudi Arabia… He would be such an exception…

AV: Wasn’t the commander of the Turkish air force also imprisoned?

YG: He was imprisoned, but he was not really against NATO.

AV: Weren’t some imprisoned generals true “Eurasianists”?

YG: Some of them had that mindset, but it was not their determined stand. Their position was reactive, like “the United States is now backing these stupid Islamist governments, so let’s look to the East and maybe we could find some other allies there…”

AV: So we cannot speak about a determinately philosophical or ideological stand?

YG: No. And all of those guys were educated at the NATO headquarters, anyway.

And let me add this: if the Turkish army intervenes in the Turkish politics, it’s with the 100% approval of the United States.

AV: Which happens often…

YG: Yes. Other scenarios practically don’t exist. Inside the army, there is no autonomous, anti-government movement. There are of course some officers and generals who don’t really like the government, but… the possibility of a coup always exists,…..but only because of the United States ready to push the button.

AV: So if there would be a coup, it would be a pro-American, a pro-NATO coup… It would not be a socialist, or a Communist coup… it would not be a Chavez-style military intervention.

YG: Exactly. There is no possibility of that. And let me add this: the last 3 years, the United States and the Western imperialism are not content with the AKP government. Of course they are working together, of course the West uses them. But it is not content with the AKP.

Look at these two main issues: First, the war in Syria. Second, the Gezi protests in Istanbul.

The Gezi protests had proven that the government has no legitimacy, as far as one half of the population is concerned. Half of the population thinks that the President, who then was a Prime Minister, is a thief and a murderer.

AV: In 2013, I was making a documentary film for South American television network TeleSur, about the Gezi protests. And it was extremely brutal how the government cracked down on the protesters…

YG: Yes it was…

The second issue – the war in Syria. The AKP was so obsessed with the expanding Turkish territory of influence! They were so war mongering, that even the United States could not really control them.

I will give you an example: at one point there was a leak from the private meeting at the Prime Minister’s office. There was a current Prime Minister there, who was then a Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, and there were several generals from the army, as well as the chief of intelligence. They were all discussing how to enter Syria, militarily. The chief of intelligence was saying: “I can send 4 guys and they’d shoot few rockets towards Turkey from the Syrian territory… And it would be a good reason for a war”. This was what they had in mind. And the United States could not take such risk, because from their point of view, such action would have to be planned. If you are going to go to Syria with your army, you have to plan it with the United States. So Turkey gained the reputation of a nasty boy… The West was using Turkey to “beat up other children”, but then Turkey went out of control, stopped listening to its handlers. It became too nasty, too aggressive, and too unruly.

AV: Now Turkey is involved everywhere in the region. I used to live in Africa, and I saw its actions there. They were very deeply involved in Somalia, in a very strange way… They were involved in Libya. They are involved in Syria and they are involved in almost all “-stans”. They are playing crucial and often very negative role in the Iraqi Kurdistan… I witnessed how unpopular they are in Erbil, among the local people… It goes without saying that they are becoming extremely important “power” everywhere in this part of the world. They are everywhere. What do you think is Turkey’s plan?

YG: First, the plan is over. It was a “nice try” of the Islamists. The policy was called the Neo-Ottoman-ism. The idea was that the AKP government, or Turkey itself, would work as a sub-contractor of the Western imperialism in the region, and as a sub-contractor it would expand its own zone of influence, in those regions that you had just defined. In those days there was also a The Gülen movement based in the United States. Right now the government and they are enemies, but back then they were allied. The Gülen movement was particularly active in Africa, because their main claim to fame is opening schools and universities. And they have a huge amount of money. I read a report that in 2013, the movement had some 130 “chartered schools”, in the United Sates alone… And if you have chartered schools, you get millions of dollars paid to you by the US tax payers. They are also very well organized; they have huge companies; they are wealthy. And they use this wealth to increase their influence.

AV: Is it an umbrella group?

YG: They have many umbrella groups. In academy and elsewhere…

Practically, when the Arab Spring began, current president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AKP were very skeptical. They didn’t understand what really was going on, until the Americans told them…

AV: They told them not to worry…

YG: Yes… “Don’t worry: it is us who are doing it…”

There was a point when the NATO jets began bombing Libya, and Erdoğan made a speech, basically saying: “What the fuck is NATO doing, bombing Libya?” And two days later, Turkey became part of the mission. The Americans told him “Are you stupid? Don’t you see what’s going on?” And he promptly changed his mind.

But the main idea behind all this was: The Arab Spring was basically pro-AKP. It was what is called the “regime change”, all over the region. The new regimes were predominantly Islamist, and so the AKP had a chance to gain influence inside them.

AV: The Muslim Brotherhood of Morsi…

YG: Yes, especially… And the Americans, I think, at one point, made some promises… You see, right now, the Northern Iraq is a zone of influence of Turkey, economically and politically… And if Assad would be toppled, I think that Americans offered that Syria would also become a sphere of influence of Turkey. In return, this country would have to accept a confederation model. Where the southeastern Turkey, which is Northern Kurdistan, would be a federation.

AV: Autonomy?

YG: Yes, autonomy. And Kurds would have autonomy also inside Syria, if Assad would be toppled. So there would be confederations all over, but under direct Turkish influence.

AV: So they would lose some direct control at home, but gain control over the entire region…

YG: Yes, I think this was the major plan.

But two things happened: First, the struggle of Syrian people. Nobody expected that, or more precisely, the United States and AKP did not expect that Syrian people would put such determined struggle against the foreign intervention!

The second was internal: the Gezi protests! It was like 11 million people on the streets, protesting against the government. Since those protests, the government began cracking inside. It began experiencing serious internal conflicts, because it was losing all the legitimacy.

Today, as a project, because, as we determined, the AKP is a project, the project is terminated. The problem is that the West has no real alternatives, no candidates for the Turkish leadership. There is no one who could fill the vacuum, if the AKP goes. The West is kind of sick of Erdoğan, and it would like him to go, but it doesn’t want any radical changes… it’d like to have some coalition between the Islamists and the social democrats, a coalition that would be, once again, pro-Western, pro-privatization, and with more legitimacy… This is what the West is seeking right now, and one day it actually may happen. Which will not be, of course, a really good scenario for the people of Turkey.

AV: Do people of Turkey realize that they are being controlled from abroad?

YG: Yes.

AV: Because, as we determined before this discussion, the Turkish people are very knowledgeable…

YG: Yes. And it is not only in Turkey. In general, in this part of the world, in the Middle East, everybody knows that it is an imperium that controls everything. Even the supporters of the government know it. They know it but they approve of the situation. They say: “OK, we are getting richer.” Because in Africa and in the Middle East, Turkey is becoming a big power… and that is the reason for the approval of the imperialist policy…

AV: What about the Gezi uprising? I made a film about it, and I spoke to many people, from all walks of life. But what is your take on it?

YG: All those people had one main goal: to change the government. The vast majority of that mass of people did not think about what would happen after the AKP goes… they would perhaps just vote for other parties. That’s is.

AV: That’s the same as those protests that brought down General Suharto in Indonesia.

YG: But the protests here were actually very ideological, but not organized.

AV: But they were not socialist, or Marxist…

YG: I see what you mean. I had written a book about the Arab Spring. So I have some idea about what had happened on the ground, in each country. One of the great differences between Tunisia or Egypt, and Turkey, is what the foreigners can’t really grasp… The socialist movements here have really huge influence, which is not necessarily reflected in the number of votes or in the representation in the government. It is all really historical… Even the AKP government needs some sort of approval from the ex left-wing intellectuals, in order to gain legitimacy for the radical steps they take.

So when Gezi started, on the ground it was impossible for any foreign power to start to control main groups of the people active in this uprising.

In Egypt you had those social media activists, youngsters who were educated in Washington, who were really pro-Western, who attended classes organized by the State Department… In Turkey we also have those groups, but they are so marginal, and everybody mocks them. They have really no influence. You had been here, you saw it: it was full of red flags! Hammers and sickles everywhere… It was not totally socialist, of course, but you could not easily control those people from abroad…

AV: Did Gezi movement die? Or is it only dormant?

YG: I don’t think that movements die. As a social scientist I would say it is like in a law of physics… every movement has its ups and downs. And any popular movement creates and leaves behind certain inheritances: ideological, cultural, political… It is what happened with Gezi. It had its lifespan. No group of people can go on protesting 24 hours a day, for months. The influence, the inheritance, is still there. It will not go away. In fact Gezi was the largest movement in the history of Turkey. It especially effected young generations.

But if you looked at it as: “here is this movement and its aim was to topple the government”. Did they succeed? No! So in that sense of course it died. Although I would say: it did not really die; it just was not successful.

AV: Where is Turkey right now economically, socially, even politically? We hear a lot about Kemalism, or about the state economy. In fact the country is very capitalist, and definitely not left wing, as it is siding with the imperialists, spreading its influence all over the region.

YG: The major peculiarity of this country is in its the very foundations, because its creation was not intended in a sense. The colonial powers did not want this country to exist. The plan was a much smaller Anatolian state for the Turks, and the rest would be just shared among the major powers. At that conjunction of the history there were two interventions against that plan: first was of course the October Revolution in Russia. Nobody saw that coming… And the second one: the war of liberation of Turkey.

The leading cadres of the Republic, the Kemalist movement and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk himself, they were, without any question, pro-Western. But they had to wage the war against the West, in order to found their country. So this is the basic dilemma.

AV: The contradiction.

YG: Yes, the basic contradiction! They were really good politicians, in a bourgeois sense. They were realists, pragmatists… And people generally don’t know this: in fact, a great deal of the weapons and ammunition that was used in the war of liberation in Turkey, in Anatolia, came from Russia after the civil war there ended. Local leaders had to have good relationships with the Soviet Union, because it was really beneficial for both parties. For the Soviet Union, the main concern was that the imperialist countries would not control the Straights. Because those were the main routes Soviets had to the Mediterranean. And so they were backing the Turkish position that the Straights would be under the total control of the Turkish state. Turkey also benefited politically from this support, and they also got weapons.

For two decades, Turkish politicians knew that in fact they did not have any local bourgeoisie. They did not have any capital. Their main idea was to create their local bourgeoisie, through state investment.

AV: How come it did not have the capital or the bourgeoisie? We are talking about one of the mightiest empires on earth, before the WWI.

YG: The problem was that most of the local bourgeois were non-Muslims… The Greeks or Armenians, or Jews… For that “investment” they intensively collaborated with the Soviet Union. Most of the factories that were built during the First Republic were created thanks to the Soviet know-how. Soviet engineers, Soviet planning… The Turkish state had even some sort of a 5-year Plan, similar to the one in the Soviet Union.

AV: So they influenced Turkey also ideologically?

YG: No. Actually they did not. The thing is that the Soviet Bolshevik Party – they were also real pragmatists, in a sense that they were very careful about not intimidating the Kemalist government. They did not really support the Communist Party of Turkey, which was actually part of the “Comintern”. They did not really protest against the crackdowns and murder of the Turkish Communist Party members, because they still had to keep a good relationship with the government. And the members of the Communist Party of Turkey understood that. They understood the position of the Soviet Union, and they were not critical of it.

So Turkey had some sort of political alliance with the Soviet Union.

But after the Second World War, especially because of the Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine… the Truman Doctrine and the initial Marshall Plane – it was mainly about Greece and Turkey, at the beginning. That is because these two countries were then the two main bastions of the Cold War against the Soviet Union. From that period, things began to change, step by step, as the distance from the Soviet-style economy increased. And when the neo-liberal era arrived, the changes accelerated.

Right now, Turkey is definitely a capitalist country. The state assets in the Turkish economy are tiny. The AKP government had privatized everything, and right now they are busy selling the country’s forests and beaches.

AV: So it could be described as an extreme capitalist model…

YG: Exactly. And on the social front, this is one of the changes that came with Islamisation… Historically, the fundamental principal of the Turkish Republic was the concept of the social state. The state was obliged to take care of its citizens… The AKP changed this. Now it is some sort of a concept of “Good Muslims are helping bad Muslims”… And there is this concept of “sadaqah”…

AV: Of charity…

YS: Charity, exactly… So now it is not in the sense of a modern state and the rights of the citizens.

On paper, the economy of Turkey is growing, but the vast majority of the Turkish people, according to many studies, became impoverished during the AKP years.

Turkey was flooded with huge amounts of money coming from the Gulf countries, because of the foreign policy of Ankara. The imperialist countries also invested heavily in Turkey, because you had to, somehow, satisfy the economical needs of the country that was waging wars on their behalf.

However now, even the top government officials are talking about the imminent economic crises. The standard of living is going down.

AV: Why are people still voting for this government, which so miserably failed on several fronts? Now elections in Turkey are coming; the second round. The AKP is going to win. Perhaps they will not get an outright majority, but they will count on enough votes to retain their power.

YS: First: the ideological reasons. They have Islamists backing them.

AV: So they are cashing on their religious card?

YS: Exactly. Second: the shop owners and the small and middle size business owners – they have huge fear of the economic crises. They want “stability”. And they think that if the government goes, there would be economic crises.

Of course it is a paradox. Turkey is not a stable country. We have bombs exploding in the middle of our cities, we have killings, and we have a war going on in the Kurdish cities…

AV: What about the Left? Are there any promising leaders and alternatives?

YS: We have traditional social Democratic parties. These are pro-Western, pro-NATO parties; I don’t think we can even call them “Left”.

AV: Of course not…

YS: We have that, and we have a Kurdish-influenced political party. Their main agenda is any decent solution to the Kurdish problem.

AV: But this is not some pan-Turkish force.

YS: No. Of course there are many leftists inside the party, but there are also many Islamists inside the party.

AV: There is a great violence sweeping entire country. Who is behind the attacks?

YS: A few weeks ago, we had a major attack in Ankara. ISIS is behind the attack. But Erdoğan and his government are desperately trying to benefit from this instability. They turned the tables around and said: “The country is in total chaos and we are the only ones who can prevent its collapse”. Politically it is clear that the government is responsible for the violence. And on the ground… well, I cannot really go into the details, but it is proven that the state knew all about the attacks: they were tracking the guys; they were bugging their phones… And they didn’t do anything. Last week, the Prime Minister of Turkey declared: “We know who are the suicide bombers, but we cannot do anything before they explode themselves!”

AV: But then the state cracks down not only on the Islamists, but also on the left wing leaders. How dangerous is it to be a Communist or a left-wing intellectual these days in Turkey?

YS: It is not as dangerous as it was, let’s say, 20 years ago. People still get arrested, they get beaten, harassed… it is all there. But somehow I don’t really like to talk about this because… look… After the 1980 coup, many leftists immigrated to Europe. They had to obtain their citizenship or their right to just stay there. And because of that, everybody started telling all the terrible things that were actually really happening, but then… then it became a tendency to just portray the situation in Turkey much worse than it really is. So in a sense it would seem “sexily horrible” to the Western mindset. Politically it is really terrible. But the immigrants can’t really go to the European institutions and tell them openly: “Look, there is this horrible Islamisation which is fucking up our daily lives”. But they can say: “There are many murders and disappearances…” Which are there, but it is not like our leftist comrades are living their lives in constant fear, that it is imminent that something terrible will happen to them any moment…

To summarize: things are not so dangerous here that the fear would prevent people from becoming Leftists.

AV: The plight of the Kurdish people… Is there any chance, any hope that things could get resolved, successfully, in the near future?

YG: Certainly there are negotiations. But in this part of the world, negotiations are not only made around the table. Using force, waging wars is also part of the negotiations and diplomacy. And that is exactly what is going on in Turkey. Here, sometimes, the government attacks, and sometimes the Kurdish movement attacks, too. It comes and goes. It has ups and downs. But right now, because of the position of the government, the negotiation process has weakened a lot. It is very improbable that this government could succeed in a obtaining a peace deal that would satisfy the demands of the Kurdish people.

AV: And it is even more complicated, because Turkey is involved in the Kurdish conflicts all over the region…

YG: Yes and no. Because if you look at Northern Iraq, both Barzani and Talabani, they have excellent relations with the Turkish government. And they have their own conflicts with the PKK, which is the main Kurdish force inside Turkey. Then, the PKK is very powerful in the Syrian areas, waging war against the ISIS. In Northern Iraq, the PKK has its base there, and some influence, too, but it could not be compared with the influence of Barzani or Talabani. So the PKK is mainly strong in Turkey and Syria.

AV: The Kurdish commanders that I spoke to in Northern Iraq were either trained in the UK, or in the United States…

YG: Yes, and they are very close to both regional powers: to Turkey and Israel. They have excellent relationships with Israel.

AV: And Turkey has, of course, excellent relationships with Israel, too. When the conflict between two countries took place, over the ship that Israelis attacked, the training of the Israeli military pilots at the air base outside the city of Konya had continued.

YG: Of course! And in fact, here is an interesting piece of information: several AKP MP’s were planning to board that ship and go to Gaza. But a few weeks before…

AV: They cancelled…

YG: They cancelled! OK, it does not mean that the AKP knew there would be a massacre on that ship, but the government knew there was a possibility of a massacre, and they did nothing to prevent it.

AV: How much is known in Turkey about the ISIL being directly or indirectly trained and armed in Turkey? When I was writing my reports, and also when I was making my documentary film, I got convinced that several Syrian “opposition movements” were actually trained in both Apaydin “refugee camp” near the city of Hatay, and at the Adana air force base. We managed to track the movement of the Syrian anti-government fighters, and we got several testimonies from the people in the area, including the Turkish border guards. Qatari jihadi cadres were also involved in Hatay and its vicinities. Is it something that is discussed in Turkey?

YG: Yes, it is discussed a lot. But the thing is that the ISIS militants were never “officially” trained inside Turkey. What happened is: Turkey was supporting the so-called “Free Syrian Army”. And they had especially good relations with Al-Nusra, which is part of al-Qaida, as well as with a few smaller groups. But generally they were supporting “Free Syrian Army”. Some of those guys who were trained in those camps, when they went back to Syria, they joined ISIS. I don’t think the government gave conscious training to ISIS. But they did not crack down on ISIS. The state looked in the other direction, closed its eyes. And whenever there were clashes and ISIS fighters were wounded, the Turkish ambulances would enter Syria, take them to Turkish hospitals, and then the fighters would return to Syria, and continue waging the war. For the militants it is possible and easy to cross the border and to enter Turkey.

2 or 3 years ago we had written about ISIL organization inside Turkey. We gave names of top cadres, of the leaders. And we gave details, including the houses that are being utilized by the militants. If we knew the names, there is no way that the state wouldn’t.

AV: So now we have totally new situation in the region. We have Russia, which said “enough”. It came to rescue its Syrian ally. How is the Turkish government reacting? Is it panic, is it outrage or does it call for a confrontation with the Russians?

YG: We should always speak of two separate parts: the government of Turkey, and the majority of Turkish people that hates this government. For the majority of people, it is a good thing what Russia is doing. But it is not because these people are “pro-Russian”. It is because they are opposing the war that is waged by the imperialists inside Syria. They want this war to stop.

For the government, it is a horror scenario, because if Assad doesn’t go, Erdoğan goes. Simple as that! So what Russians are doing is terrible for the AKP government.

AV: And yet the government is negotiating with both Russia and its closest ally – China. There are discussions about the pipelines and about the so-called New Silk Road, which would include the information super-highway, as well as the high-speed railroad connecting Turkey with the Asia Pacific. Is the government playing it both ways?

YG: Even AKP government at some point said: we will become part of Eurasia. These are all leverages that they are using when negotiating with the Western powers. If they don’t get what they want from the European Union, they threaten that they would ally themselves with Russia. The Europeans do not take it seriously; they know that it is part of “Turkish diplomacy”.

AV: And yet, China and Russia really represent a tremendous alternative. Entire new international institutions are born, and there is also big flight from dollars to RMBs. These two countries are forming the core of resistance against the Western imperialist block. Is Turkey eyeing this block as an alternative?

YG: No.

AV: So is its goal still to join the European Union and the West?

YG: Yes. There is no strategic thinking about changing the direction of Turkey’s politics towards the east. Of course in some cases they ditch some French company and let China to build something here… or Russians, who will be building nuclear power plants in this country. Partially it is because Turkey is dependent on Russia, because of the supplies of natural gas etcetera.

AV: So Turkey is going to stay with the West?

YG: Yes.

AV: Is it what the Turkish people want, or is it what the elites want?

YG: It is what the bourgeoisie wants.

AV: Any chance for a revolution?

YG: Of course! If one studies history books and conditions that led to the revolutions, Turkey satisfies all such conditions. Of course it does not mean that in just a few years we will see a revolution here. But look at the world, and give me names of 5 or 10 countries where the revolution is likely to happen. Definitely one of them is Turkey!


Just a few days after this discussion, the second round of elections took place in Turkey, and the AKP scored unprecedented victory.

I asked Yiğit Günay to comment. He replied:

“The election results were somewhat unexpected. Everybody knew that AKP would be the leading party, but not even the AKP leaders had guessed such a high percentage.

So, what happened? The parliamentary opposition has managed to resurrect Erdoğan & Co. in the past two years. After the Gezi protests, the AKP was finished. They had absolutely no legitimacy. They were not ruling the country but fighting, and they had to admit the fact that the state was in a deep crisis… But the parliamentary opposition, mainly the social-democratic CHP and the pro-Kurdish liberal democrat HDP dismissed any scenario and endeavors to topple AKP on the streets and channeled the people to the ballot boxes as the only solution. In most of the main topics of debate about the new regime implemented through the AKP, such as Islamization, secularism, relations with the EU, relations with the US, membership in NATO, the Syria policy and so on, these two parties did not fundamentally differ from the AKP’s position, but in many cases adopted their main direction with a slightly more nuanced rhetoric.

Returning to your earlier question, though as I’ve said I would not like to use the word “died”, in this sense you could argue that the parliamentary opposition killed the Gezi movement. Once the only legitimate way to change the power was reduced to the ballot box and once the parliamentary opposition did not go aggressively against the main tenets of the AKP regime but shyly legitimized and adopted them, there was no way to weaken the AKP support amongst the people.

And, what are the implications for the struggle? First, starting immediately after the first estimated results indicated that AKP was to form a one-party government, many people started to express the need for a more radical struggle. The “election game” has lost its appeal. We’ll see where this goes… But let’s keep in mind one thing: When the Gezi uprising began on June 2013 and approximately 10 million people took to the streets against AKP, the AKP was then in the office with 50% of the votes.”

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”.Discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. Point of No Return is his critically acclaimed political novel. Oceania – a book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about Indonesia: “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.
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