mfioretti: turkey*

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  1. Be smart: We can't say it too often: The real problem with fake news is that people don't believe real news. That's terrible for society and democracy, making good decisions less likely.
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  2. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, noting the country's aging demographics and plummeting birth rate, has been urging women to give birth to up to three children, claiming that Europe's second-most-populated nation requires "bigger numbers," according to The Guardian.
    Germany, Turkey
    © Photo: Pixabay
    Wind of (Demographic) Change: Europe's Muslim Population Set to Triple by 2050

    Although personally bolstered by the arrival of his sixth grandchild, Erdogan's campaign to counter a dropping birth rate in Turkey is seen by many as something of an out-of-date, patriarchal policy, as the nation's fertility rate is now at its lowest level since World War I.

    With a population of some 80 million, Turkey has, at 31.5, one of the lowest median ages in Europe, although that figure is a sharp rise over 2009, according to the government-run Turkish Statistical Institute.

    The Ankara-based agency has revealed that, for the first time, fertility numbers have dropped to a rate of simple replacement in 2016.

    The decline is represented by a steeper drop in urban areas set against an accelerating birth rate among refugees and in rural regions. The numbers point to a major shift in the country's demographics.

    "People in the upper social groups in Turkey have one or two children, they don't have three or four," remarked an unnamed doctor, who added, "people with larger families are in lower socio-economic groups," cited by The Guardian.
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  3. “after turning the Balkans into a recruiting center for ISIS/Daesh during the Syria war, now the Americans are turning Albania into a jihad 2.0 state.”

    So what is developing is “the same historical mistake as made by the Albanians of Kosovo, who have 100% linked their future with Camp Bondsteel and would will be instantly re-invaded by Serbia in case NATO or the US leave (which they will, sooner or later, inevitably).

    Meanwhile, the European Union and the Americans, who want to de-radicalize the Wahhabi Muslims of Europe, keep mum about the Iranian jihadis.”

    The “Invisible” Enemy

    So the key piece of the puzzle is the configuration of Albania as the center of Jihad 2.0 — against the Slavs in Macedonia, against Tehran, and also against Ankara. No wonder the chief adviser of the Albanian government, until a few months ago, was a certain Tony Blair.

    But then there is the “invisible” enemy that really matters.
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  4. ’ve interviewed dozens of refugees about why they’re risking death to reach Europe. The most common answer is this: because there is no other option. Many cannot return home, or start new lives in other countries in the Middle East or north Africa. So they have nothing to lose by trying for Europe. This means that they will continue to cross the sea in leaking boats – and a few of them will continue to set up camps at Calais – until there is a safe, legal and realistic means of being relocated to Europe.

    Previous camp clearances over the past decade have ultimately not stopped the flow at Calais. Why would they work now?

    For many, the implications of this will be hard to swallow. But the reality is clear: the only logical, long-term response to the Calais crisis is to create a legal means for vast numbers of refugees to reach Europe in safety. This may sound counter-intuitive. But at the current rate, whether we like it or not, 1 million refugees will arrive on European shores within the next four or five years. Whether they set up camps at Calais depends on how orderly we make that process of resettlement.

    The prime minister thinks that sending home west African migrants will do the trick. But this so-called deterrent won’t put off most of the people at Calais. The majority of migrant arrivals to Europe in the past two years have been Syrians, Eritreans and Afghans. These are not “economic migrants” – they are people respectively fleeing civil war, oppression and religious extremism, and in some cases all three. They therefore have a legal right to seek sanctuary in Europe.

    Promising to swiftly relocate 1 million Syrian, Eritrean and Afghan refugees within a viable timeframe is the only thing that will persuade most of them to stay and wait in the transit countries of the Middle East and north Africa – instead of going by boat, or setting up shanty towns in northern France. Currently the EU has promised to relocate 22,000 Syrians and Eritreans awaiting asylum in the Middle East. But given that there are already a total of 4 million Syrian refugees, this is a tiny, token number – and will do nothing to discourage the tide of people crossing the sea through illegal means, or turning up at Calais. We need to promise to resettle a far bigger number in the long-term in order to persuade them to stay put in the short term.
    Europe could solve the migrant crisis – if it wanted
    Daniel Trilling
    Read more

    Some readers will find this idea unworkable. How could Europe handle so many migrants? But spread throughout Europe’s total population of 740 million, an additional 1 million would have a minimal social impact. It would also still be smaller than the number of refugees currently in, for example, Lebanon – where an indigenous population of 4.5 million is struggling to host a refugee population of nearly 1.2 million. Such a massive resettlement programme also has precedent. After the Vietnam war, western countries resettled 1.3 million refugees from the region. If it was achieved once, it can be achieved again.

    Large-scale resettlement is certainly a more logical response than what has been tried so far. Last October, the EU opted to suspend rescue missions in the Mediterranean, fearing that they were attracting migrants. People came anyway – in record numbers. Then the EU decided to launch military operations against Libyan smugglers. I’ve written elsewhere about how that’s doomed to failure. In any case, it’s already too late: there are now more migrants going from Turkey to Greece, than from Libya to Italy.
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  5. Non il regime di Bashar al-Assad ma i ribelli. Furono loro, secondo l’inchiesta condotta da Seymour Hersh, ad usare le armi chimiche in Siria. Una scelta maturata però altrove, in Turchia, per convincere e costringere gli Stati Uniti ad intervenire militarmente.
    Nella ricostruzione fatta dal giornalista americano che vinse il premio Pulitzer nel 1970 per il reportage sul massacro di My Lai del marzo 1968 durante la guerra del Vietnam, in cui le forze armate americane uccisero deliberatamente almeno 109 civili, l’attacco dell’agosto con il sarin fu, in sostanza, una trappola preparata apposta per Washington che, solo all’ultimo momento, si accorse di come stavano le cose e annullò l’ordine di attacco.
    Era la fine del 2012 quando l’intelligence americana si convinse che i ribelli siriani stavano ormai perdendo la guerra. Un esito inaccettabile per il premier turco Recep Tayyip Erdoğan che i ribelli aveva sostenuto politicamente e, cosa più importante, economicamente. E a questo punto sarebbe maturata la decisione di trascinare nel conflitto gli Usa, gli unici in grado di capovolgere l’esito della guerra.
    La politica del presidente Obama era però chiara, c’era un limite preciso che Assad avrebbe dovuto superare per scatenare l’intervento degli Stati Uniti, e quel limite non era stato passato. L’utilizzo di armi chimiche avrebbe però segnato il salto di qualità in grado di far alzare in volo i bombardieri a stelle strisce.
    Così ad Ankara maturò la decisione di far utilizzare ai ribelli le armi chimiche di cui erano già in possesso, realizzate anche con l’aiuto turco, e addossarne la responsabilità ad Assad. L’attacco andò in scena il 21 agosto.
    Un’operazione apparentemente ben congeniata. Al punto che navi e aerei americani erano già stati dislocati in modo da colpire Damasco. Persino la data dell’attacco era pronta, gli Usa avrebbero colpito la Siria la mattina del 2 settembre, un lunedì. All’ultimo momento però il presidente Obama, informato della reale situazione e delle responsabilità turche e dei ribelli, fermò l’attacco. Era il 31 agosto.
    Quel giorno Obama, che non poteva ammettere di essersi sbagliato asserendo che Assad era l’unico in Siria ad essere in possesso di un arsenale chimico, e non potendo accusare apertamente Ankara, alleato Nato, si smarcò chiedendo un voto del Congresso per dare il via libera all’operazione. Nel frattempo prese corpo l’accordo orchestrato insieme al presidente russo Vladimir Putin in cui Assad prometteva di consegnare il suo arsenale chimico per farlo distruggere. Accordo che, disarmando il presidente siriano, smontava le condizioni per cui Washington avrebbe di nuovo corso il rischio di trovarsi in una situazione simile.
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  6. Turkey’s occupation of Iraqi territory, a flagrant act of aggression, is a consequence of the US invasion of Iraq and the collapse of all principles of international law in the region since then, former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chas Freeman told Sputnik.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Chas Freeman served in the US Foreign Service, as well as the department of State and Defense in different capacities.

    "The basic principles of international law are no longer respected in the Middle East," Freeman said. "This Turkish intervention reflects the breakdown of sovereignty and territorial integrity in the Levant catalyzed by the American invasion of Iraq, which was itself unauthorized under international law."

    Since 2003, both Iraq and Syria have been partitioned between separatist and religiously-affiliated forces, many of which enjoy the support of foreign powers, Freeman, a lifetime director of the Atlantic Council, said.

    "Turkey is far from alone in disregarding the internationally recognized borders of the states in the region. But if these borders have no sanctity, the region is confirmed as a lawless zone in which the strong do what they want and the weak are powerless to prevent."

    US forces intervene in Syria, Freeman pointed out, without bothering to get permission from the Syrian government or putting forward any legal justification for their violation of Syrian sovereignty.
    Tags: , , , , by M. Fioretti (2015-12-23)
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  7. Putin has been in a tight spot for the past few months. The Russian economy is struggling because of the low oil price and western sanctions. The war in Ukraine has undermined his international standing. By shifting his and the world’s attention from the Donbas to Syria, however, Putin is once again writing the script for inter­national politics, and forcing his opponents to recalibrate.

    “The war in Syria was seen as a regional affair between Iran and Saudi Arabia-Turkey-Qatar, but now it is a bigger game between Russia and the west,” says Bassma Kodmani, a thoughtful expert on relations with the Middle East and former spokeswoman for the Syrian National Council, the opposition coalition-in-exile. By entrenching President Bashar al-Assad of Syria in power, Putin is also compelling western countries to engage with Moscow in a different way. Barack Obama, who had been trying to shun the Russian president, was forced to meet him at the UN General Assembly last month. Germany’s federal minister for economic affairs, Sigmar Gabriel, claimed that “you can’t stick to sanctions permanently on the one hand and ask for co-operation on the other hand”: so far, however, Chancellor Angela Merkel has refused to link the situation in Syria to sanctions on Ukraine.

    In Syria, Putin is executing his war on revolutions both on the practical level and as a battle of ideas. For some time, he has been building links with authoritarian powers in the Middle East – with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Iraq, as well as the Iranian government. And his Syrian gambit has bolstered the Assad regime at a time of increasing weakness. Putin’s campaign, supposedly against Isis, does not live up to its billing: most of the Russian attacks so far have been against other anti-Assad armed opposition groups (including forces backed by the west, Saudi, Turkey and Qatar).

    There is a parallel between Putin’s plans for Syria and the long war he fought in Chechnya from 1999 to 2009. The first war in Chechnya, from 1994 to 1996, was between a moderate, largely secular opposition and the Russian state.

    In order to win the second conflict, however, the Kremlin started to marginalise the moderates – starting with the legitimate president Aslan Maskhadov – while at the same time helping the factions that did not obey Maskhadov, and which committed kidnappings and were linked to the Middle East. Then, after the 9/11 attacks, Putin sold the Chechnya war to the west as “a common struggle with Islamic terrorism”. In Syria, a similar dynamic was already in motion – Islamist groups having gained the upper hand over the moderate rebels of the Free Syrian Army who helped launch the revolution in 2011 – but now Putin is accelerating it, using familiar tactics.
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  8. dietro le fanfare militari, qualcosa stona. Ankara diffonde gli avvertimenti radio che ogni 30 secondi, e per cinque minuti, avrebbe inviato al Su-24 prima d’abbatterlo: «Attenzione, queste sono le forze aeree turche. Vi state avvicinando al nostro spazio aereo. Deviate immediatamente la vostra rotta verso Sud». Oltre a turchi, russi e a siriani, all’ora del missile Aim-9X Sidewinder vegliavano la zona almeno due satelliti e i radar di 11 Paesi - la portaerei americana Vinson , la francese Charles De Gaulle , la base qatarina d’Al Udeid, e poi inglesi, israeliani, giordani, sauditi, emiratini, bahreini, australiani, canadesi - e tutti, più o meno, confermerebbero la versione dei 17 secondi di sconfinamento. È stata probabilmente un’imboscata, concorda col Cremlino un analista militare di Tel Aviv, Alex Fishman: «C’era già stato un precedente, il 3 ottobre. E da allora Putin aveva concordato i sorvoli con israeliani e giordani. Con Erdogan, mai». Un po’ i russi se l’andavano a cercare, un po’ i turchi li aspettavano. E meno i piloti, forse, lo sapevano tutti.
    Tags: , , by M. Fioretti (2015-11-26)
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  9. as the world watched leaders making statements of implacable resolve at the G20 summit in Antalaya, these same leaders are hobnobbing with Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a man whose tacit political, economic, and even military support contributed to Isis’s ability to perpetrate the atrocities in Paris, not to mention an endless stream of atrocities inside the Middle East.
    G20 to discuss threat of Isis infiltrators among EU migrants after Paris attacks
    Read more

    How could Isis be eliminated? In the region, everyone knows. All it would really take would be to unleash the largely Kurdish forces of the YPG (Democratic Union party) in Syria, and PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ party) guerillas in Iraq and Turkey. These are, currently, the main forces actually fighting Isis on the ground. They have proved extraordinarily militarily effective and oppose every aspect of Isis’s reactionary ideology.

    But instead, YPG-controlled territory in Syria finds itself placed under a total embargo by Turkey, and PKK forces are under continual bombardment by the Turkish air force. Not only has Erdoğan done almost everything he can to cripple the forces actually fighting Isis; there is considerable evidence that his government has been at least tacitly aiding Isis itself.

    It might seem outrageous to suggest that a Nato member like Turkey would in any way support an organisation that murders western civilians in cold blood. That would be like a Nato member supporting al-Qaida. But in fact there is reason to believe that Erdoğan’s government does support the Syrian branch of al-Qaida (Jabhat al-Nusra) too, along with any number of other rebel groups that share its conservative Islamist ideology.

    The exact relationship between Erdoğan’s government and Isis may be subject to debate; but of some things we can be relatively certain. Had Turkey placed the same kind of absolute blockade on Isis territories as they did on Kurdish-held parts of Syria, let alone shown the same sort of “benign neglect” towards the PKK and YPG that they have been offering to Isis, that blood-stained “caliphate” would long since have collapsed – and arguably, the Paris attacks may never have happened. And if Turkey were to do the same today, Isis would probably collapse in a matter of months. Yet, has a single western leader called on Erdoğan to do this?
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  10. When conflict broke out in 2011, Ankara mistakenly under-estimated the strength of the Assad regime and supported hardline Islamist groups seeking its downfall. In the process, Turkey also marginalised the Kurds and alienated regional powers like Iran.

    Four years on, Assad looks set to hold onto power and his regime will be a central part of a transition plan, one that foreign powers were negotiating last weekend. Turkey’s regional rival, Iran, is a key player which can no longer be ignored by the West. Not only does the pro-Assad alliance now have Russian support firmly on its side, but the international community is no longer focused on defeating the regime – instead, it is concerned with defeating jihadist groups like Isis.

    The shift in focus is a significant drawback for Erdogan. Years of support for, and investment in, Islamic fundamentalist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria) and Ahrar al-Sham are about to go to waste. Ankara has played a significant role in allowing Isis and other jihadists to flourish in Syria and the region. Turkey has acquiesced to jihadist groups entering Syria via Turkey as well as their use of Turkey as a transit point for smuggling arms and funds into Syria.

    The Kurds in Syria, meanwhile, have established themselves as a reliable Western ally and have created, in the process, an autonomous Kurdish region that has reinvigorated Kurdish nationalism in Turkey and across the region - much to Turkey’s dismay as it continues a brutal military campaign to repress the Kurds.

    In other words, Turkey has no interest in the peaceful settlement to the conflict in Syria that world powers are negotiating.

    The West appeased and bolstered Erdogan in Turkey in the run-up to the country’s elections, with the aim of securing a deal with Ankara on the refugee crisis. It may now regret that. Erdogan is not only likely to drive a hard bargain but he may also walk away.

    He has never cared much for the EU and has only sought engagement with the West when under pressure at home. But Turkey is not an indispensable ally and should not be considered as such. Unless the West starts to seriously exert pressure, Erdogan will have little incentive to stop his damaging policies.
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