The Middle Corridor Will Help China Hedge Against Uncertainty In Russia & Pakistan

17 MAY 2022

The Middle Corridor Will Help China Hedge Against Uncertainty In Russia & Pakistan

It’s unrealistic that China would ever abandon its investments in Russia or Pakistan, but those two’s connectivity roles for it vis-à-vis the EU and West Asia/Africa respectively can be complemented by Turkey and Iran via the Middle Corridor.

American political analyst

By Andrew Korybko

Up until the beginning of this year, China’s grand strategy was to rely on a network of connectivity corridors across its Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) to integrate Eurasia and thus advance its non-Western model of globalization, which Beijing believes to be more equal, just, and multipolar than the declining Western-centric one. This ambitious plan was abruptly disrupted by two black swan events that created sudden uncertainty about the viability of BRI’s Russian and Pakistani routes: Moscow’s ongoing special military operation in Ukraine and Islamabad’s scandalous change of government.

The first-mentioned prompted the US-led West to impose unprecedented sanctions that resulted in the forced decoupling of Russia and the EU while the second led to the global pivot state’s worst-ever political crisis since independence that’s also been exploited by BLA terrorists. Regarding Russia, it’s no longer a realistic transit route for overland trade between Eastern and Western Eurasia. As for Pakistan, there are suspicions that its new authorities’ speculative proUS pivot will occur at China’s expense. The BLA’s recent terrorist attack also led to all Confucius Institution teachers returning home for their safety.

China still considers Russia and Pakistan to be among its top strategic partners anywhere in the world, especially since both veritably play indispensable roles in Eurasia’s irreversible multipolar integration due to BRI’s Eurasian Land Bridge and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) respectively. Nevertheless, their reliability in the present is less than it was at the start of the year, which is why China might understandably begin hedging against their uncertainties that could last for an indeterminate length of time by focusing more on the Middle Corridor.

This project refers to the connectivity route between Turkey and China via the South Caucasus, Caspian Sea, and Central Asia. In the current conditions, it represents the most viable trans-Eurasian corridor. There are undoubtedly some risks associated with it as evidenced by the sudden attempted terrorist takeover of Kazakhstan in January, which had previously been considered to be Central Asia’s most stable state. That said, compared to the connectivity risks connected to Russia and Pakistan nowadays, the Middle Corridor is much more reliable and safer in all respects.

The implications of the People’s Republic pressing through with this pragmatic back-up plan could be enormous since it would throw a spanner in Russia and Pakistan’s geo-economic strategies, even though it’s not Beijing’s fault that they’re no longer viable connectivity partners, but their own due to the decisions they made. That’s not to cast judgement on them, but just to point out that China would simply be responding to events beyond its control or influence in order to advance its interests that it considers to be to the greater benefit of mankind due to its envisioned community of common destiny.

Russia and Pakistan are obviously part of mankind just like everyone else is but China cannot keep a disproportionate amount of its BRI eggs in their basket, so to speak, which is why it’ll likely be compelled by circumstances to focus more on the Middle Corridor in the coming years. Despite occasional troubles in its ties with Turkey stemming from the sympathy that some in that West Asian country have for Uyghur separatists that China considers to be terrorists, relations are generally solid and actually stand to become much more strategic the longer that uncertainty prevails in Russia and Pakistan.

To explain, Europe hasn’t yet been pressured by its American overlord to curtail ties with China exactly like it recently curtailed those with Russia. For the time being, they’re still in a relationship of complex economic interdependence with the People’s Republic, yet the Eurasian Land Bridge through Russia is no longer a viable means for conducting their future overland trade. For that reason, the Middle Corridor anchored in Turkey is much more attractive since goods can transit through this route between the EU and China instead of remaining dependent on the Suez Canal.

President Erdogan could leverage his civilization-state’s unexpectedly disproportionate geo-economic role in Eurasian integration to reduce the US-led West’s pressure upon Turkey exactly as he could do the same in the event that he succeeds in clinching an EU-Israeli pipeline deal in the coming future. His isn’t the only Muslim Great Power that would benefit from the Middle Corridor though since neighboring Iran can prospectively do as well. It can connect to that BRI route via Turkmenistan or perhaps by pioneering its own “Persian Corridor” to China through Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

Whichever way it happens, there’s no doubt that there’s mutual interest between Iran and China to strengthen their connectivity with one another after last year’s 25-year strategic partnership pact. They could have possibly done so by expanding CPEC in the western direction (W-CPEC+) but the newfound political and security uncertainty in Pakistan has made that unviable for the foreseeable future, hence why China might simply go ahead with expanding the Middle Corridor to Iran and/or cooperating on the Persian Corridor proposal.

China’s ties with the Gulf Kingdoms are also very strong, especially since the People’s Republic plans to invest in their systemic reform programs for diversifying their economies from their hitherto disproportionate dependence on resource exports. While their relations with Iran remain complex, there’s been visible progress over the past year or so in taking baby steps towards a rapprochement, particularly in terms of Tehran’s ties with Abu Dhabi and Riyadh. In the event that this continues, Iran could serve as the transit state for facilitating real-sector Chinese-Gulf trade.

Iran also abuts the Indian Ocean just like neighboring Pakistan does, but unlike the latter, Iran isn’t mired in political and security uncertainty so it could complement – though importantly never replace – the envisioned role that Pakistan was supposed to play with respect to facilitating Chinese-African trade. Nobody should misunderstand what’s being written in this analysis: it’s unrealistic that China would ever abandon its investments in Russia or Pakistan, but those two’s connectivity roles for it vis-à-vis the EU and West Asia/Africa respectively can be complemented by Turkey and Iran via the Middle Corridor.

What all of this means is that the uncertainty in Russia and Pakistan, while detrimental for their own interests as well as their role in Eurasia’s multipolar integration, provides unexpected opportunities for China to diversify BRI by focusing more on the Central Asian-Caspian Sea-South Caucasus-Gulf direction through the comparatively much more reliable and safer Middle Corridor. Turkey and Iran are the two Great Powers that stand to benefit the most from this, not to mention the medium- and smaller-sized countries between them and China. All told, the comprehensive gains might outweigh the setbacks.

Turkey swings west: the Ukraine war and domestic elections

Ankara’s rapprochement with the US has been accelerated by events in Ukraine. These ties will also shape Turkey domestically, with or without a 2023 Erdogan electoral win.

May 17 2022

While Ankara has always sought to maintain a careful balance between east and west, Turkey’s 2023 election candidates believe they need US support to win.Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Erman Çete

On 7 April, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chaired a videoconference meeting with his counterparts from five other states to discuss, among other things, the pressing issue of naval mines drifting into the Black Sea.

According to Akar, the origin of the mines could not be identified, but an investigation is ongoing.

The meeting’s agenda was ultimately less notable than its curious participant list. Five of the attending countries – Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine – have borders with the Black Sea, but Russia, a major littoral state, was not invited, while Poland, which has no borders with the waterway, was present.

The mines threat has emerged amid the escalating armed conflict in Ukraine. Russia’s principal intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), warned on 21 March that several hundred mines had drifted into the Black Sea after breaking off from cables near Ukrainian ports. The claim was dismissed by Kiev which accused Moscow of disinformation and trying to close off parts of the strategic waterway.

Nevertheless, since the onset of the conflict in February, four mines have ‘drifted’ into the Black Sea, including one discovered off Romania’s coastline, and three stray mines found in Turkish waters which were safely neutralized.

Turkey’s balancing act

Throughout the crisis, Ankara has had to navigate between Russia and Ukraine and balance its diplomatic ties with both states carefully. As an important NATO member, this has not been a straightforward task for Turkey.

Between 19 to 22 April, NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) organized  Exercise Locked Shields 2022, the largest cyber defense exercise in Tallinn, Estonia. The Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) attended this drill with TAF-affiliated defense company HAVELSAN.

The following day, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced that Turkey would close its airspace for a three-month period to Russian planes flying to Syria. But the Turkish minister also announced the cancellation of a pre-planned NATO drill to avoid provoking Russia.

Concurrent with this precarious balancing act, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has worked overtime to thaw relations between Ankara and Persian Gulf states and Israel. There are also plans afoot to add Egypt to Turkey’s various regional diplomatic forays.

Resetting relations with the US

At the same time, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has tried to exploit any opportunity to present itself as an indispensable ally to Washington. Talks hosted in Istanbul between Russia and Ukraine may have failed to lead to a breakthrough in negotiations, but US President Joe Biden endorsed Turkey’s role as mediator, while State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that Turkey was “in full coordination and consultation with the US” during the process.

Ankara’s role as a mediator has also been encouraged by US think-tanks such as the United States Institute of Peace, which has called on the US and Europe to support Turkey as the only mediation channel between Russia and the west.

Undoubtedly, the Ukraine conflict has enabled Turkey to reposition itself with Washington as a valuable NATO ally. This has become evident with reports that US military F-16 sales to Turkey are now back on the table again after a period of doubt.

Naturally, pro-AKP media has been praising Erdogan’s role as ‘peacemaker’ and are keen to parlay his accomplishments into a domestic political bonanza. But according to Turkish journalist and commentator Murat Yetkin, AKP’s initial prognosis on the Ukraine conflict was that it would cool down around June and Turkey could shortly thereafter reverse its economic losses arising from the crisis.

It has become apparent, however, that the AKP may have been too rash with that timeframe. Ankara’s leading NATO allies appear less concerned about the destruction of Ukraine and its fallout across Europe than about ‘weakening’ Russia via proxy, with a prolonged war of attrition in mind. For the AKP brass, if the conflict continues into next year, Erdogan’s chances of eking out a victory in Turkey’s 2023 elections could be seriously jeopardized.

Ukraine, a foreign policy tool

Rear Admiral Turker Erturk, Turkey’s former Black Sea commander, believes that the US government gave Turkish military operations in northern Iraq (Operation Claw Lock) the green-light, mainly because of the war in Ukraine. Washington, according to Erturk, will need Turkey in the upcoming stages of the conflict, and has thus become more flexible and transactional with Ankara.

For Erturk, this is a major reason why Erdogan’s government is seeking a balanced approach – in order to negotiate with the US and win the upcoming elections. “Promises made to the US regarding the Ukraine War will be implemented after the election,” he predicts.

Erturk also claims that Washington favors former chief of staff and current Defense Minister Hulusi Akar as the next president of Turkey. The retired rear admiral interprets the Black Sea mines meeting led by Akar – which included the Poles and excluded the Russians – as an message of support to the US. It should be noted that even at the height of US-Turkish tensions and its accompanying leverage contest, Akar stuck his neck out by guaranteeing that Ankara would never break with the western world.

The role of the Turkish Army, post-Erdogan

Akar is not the only military man with a shot at the presidency. Erdogan’s son-in-law Selcuk Bayraktar, who masterminded the famous Turkish armed drone Bayraktar could also be a political successor. He has also openly voiced support for Ukraine, a gesture likely not intended for domestic audiences.

Bayraktar’s now deceased father, Özdemir Bayraktar, threw his support behind the jailed army officers during the highly politicized Ergenekon (2008-2019) and Balyoz (Sledgehammer, 2010-2015) ‘coup d’etat’ trials. That makes the Bayraktars respected even amongst Kemalist circles – not just for their game-changing armed drones, but also for placing their political clout against the trials.

Foreign Affairs piece earlier this year by Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, provides an insight into a hypothetical scenario involving an Erdogan-opposition deal for a transition. If a deal cannot be reached, Cagaptay says, Turkish democracy will crumble.

A possible solution to ease this transition, Cagaptay argues, is for the two sides to accept the Turkish Army’s mediation as a “non-partisan” institution, with backing from the US and the EU. The opposition ensures that Erdogan and his family will not be tried, while Erdogan transfers power to the opposition’s candidate and the TAF acts as a guarantor.

Intact foreign policy

Turkey’s opposition alliance, Millet (Nation), which consists of six parties for now, has not decided on its presidential candidate yet. The governing coalition, Cumhur (People), has accused Millet of being agents of the west.

Although both the government and opposition are pro-NATO, some parties in Millet, such as the pro-west Turkish nationalist IYI (Good) Party, want to play a more proactive role in Ukraine against Russia. Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, who belongs to the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), sparked a debate when he was spotted out with the British Ambassador amidst a heavy fall of snow last winter.

Imamoglu once was a leading opposition figure against Erdogan. He defeated the Turkish president twice in local 2019 elections, and his right-wing/moderate political stance was influential even among Erdogan supporters. However, his recent tour in the Black Sea region where his hometown is located, unleashed angry reactions amongst Millet supporters for including pro-Erdogan journalists to cover his visit. Even his own party, CHP, criticized Imamoglu for “breaking the party discipline.”

Now an underdog, Ankara’s Mayor Mansur Yavas, also a CHP member, is leading in Turkey’s election polls. He is a former member of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and popular amongst Cumhur’s voter base. Yavas gives the impression that he could be a bipartisan president, a statesman who would oversee a smooth Turkish transition to the post-Erdogan era.

But will the upcoming 2023 elections signify a sharp geopolitical shift in the country’s bearings? A close look at Turkey’s economic situation, and its government’s overtures to the west, suggests not.

Turkey’s relations with Russia, even as a bargaining chip against the west, will likely continue independently of election results, as Ankara has historically sought to maintain its east-west equilibrium. Today, however, both wings of Turkish politics seem set on soliciting western support – to different degrees and in various arenas – to secure an electoral win.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Turkey, Israel, Al Qaeda, Kurdish SDF Coordinated Attacks against Syria

ARABI SOURI

Turkey, led by the madman sultan wannabe Erdogan, Israel’s most loyal servant, Israel itself, a host of Al Qaeda and its affiliated terrorist groups, the US-sponsored Kurdish SDF separatist terrorists, with the guidance of the USA and all the help they could receive from other NATO members have escalated their coordinated attacks against the Syrian people, the Syrian army, and the local defense units in central and northern Syria.

Israel carries out its heaviest bombing in months against four Syrian provinces, Hama, Homs, Tartous, and Latakia, the Kurdish SDF separatist terrorists besiege the Syrians in cities and towns in the northeastern Syrian provinces of Raqqa, Deir Ezzor, and Hasakah, and Turkey with its sponsored Al Qaeda terrorist groups join their efforts to attack and bomb local Syrian defense units, towns, and villages in Aleppo countryside.

The past 24 hours are considered the most violent in the US-led war on Syria in the past two years as this video report by Reda Al-Basha for the Lebanese Al Mayadeen news channel adds:

The video is also available on BitChuteRumble, and TikTok.

Transcript

This explosion took the escalation in the northern countryside of Aleppo to levels where the drums of war are beating again, eleven martyrs from the local defense west of Aleppo; Turkey’s militants targeted their bus with a guided missile.

Turkey entered the line of engagement, its artillery bombed villages and towns in the northern countryside of Aleppo, which reflects Ankara’s efforts to expand its geographical escalation from northeastern Syria to its northwest.

Rizan Haddou – Political Analyst: It is a Turkish message, the Syrian opposition factions are just a postman. The message is addressed first to Iran in response to the tension that has marred Turkish-Iranian relations recently. It is also a message to Russia for Turkey to announce that it is the guarantor and is able to control the Syrian opposition factions, which demand to exploit the Russian-Ukrainian war and Russia’s preoccupation, in order to open fronts inside Syria.

The Turkish messages of fire received a violent response from the Syrian army. The Syrian warplanes returned to the skies of the de-escalation zones, destroyed a camp for the Olive Branch militants, and the raids targeted the 111th Regiment of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS aka Al-Qaeda in the Levant) west of Aleppo.

An air raid on its side and artillery shelling did not exclude the Turkish military bases.

Sohaib Masri – Syrian journalist: These fronts witnessed a cautious calm more than a year ago when Putin and Erdogan signed a ceasefire and agreed that these fronts would remain calm. There were minor skirmishes through shooting or shelling targeting empty places where there is no military presence, but yesterday there was a new escalation.

24 hours ranks the most violent on the Aleppo fronts for two years, a reality that brings Turkish plans to establish a buffer zone in northern Syria to the forefront of events again, and puts the region at the gates of battles whose fire is looming on the horizon.

Turkey’s transfer of its military escalation from northeastern Syria to its northwest, at a depth of 30 km, reminds us of Turkish efforts to establish a buffer zone along the border with Syria. Ankara wants it as an area to ensure the preservation of its tools from armed groups that can be employed according to the requirements of Turkish needs and interests.

Reda Al-Basha, Aleppo – Al-Mayadin.

End of the transcript

The coordinated attacks are all carried out under the supervision and sponsorship of the Biden junta, led by a demented old man whose hysteric madness against Russia is leading him to burn the world to save his family’s and his cult’s investments in Ukraine, and elsewhere. Distracting Russia in Syria after the Turkish madman Erdogan blocked the Russian navy fleet from moving out of the Black Sea to reach its naval base on the Syrian coast near Tartous sounds like a good strategy presented by some of his non-bright aides.

The main problem with the USA and its satellite states, entities, and terrorist groups is when they put a plan they put it only from their perspective and how they see the world, they do not take into consideration their adversaries counter plans and capabilities, hence the endless failures of the US foreign policies around the globe despite the unspoken level of criminality ever since it took over the empire of evil title from the British somewhere during WWII.

The USA might be at a better advantage than its stooges, it mainly fights from a distance and nobody is interested in waging a war against a wounded beast, the world is watching it licking its wounds and howl through its final days until it implodes from within; the US stooges, however, are either within the battlefronts or directly on its borders, the blowback of the failures will have very harsher repercussions against them.

Make no mistake, the response is coming, sooner than earlier anticipated after the latest escalations, it will come to Israel, its loyal Turkish servant the regime of the Turkish madman Erdogan and his plethora of Al Qaeda terrorist groups, and the ones who will pay the highest price are, as usual, the Kurdish separatists, their only consolation is they’ll join the temporary entity of European and other Zionist settlers in Palestine in paying the price, history repeats itself because it produces lunatics in abundance, lunatics who refuse to learn from history’s lessons and refuse to learn from their own mistakes.

The World’s Future Hangs In The Balance: Erdogan Will Decide

15 MAY 2022

The World

On the one side, the U.S.-and-allied side, stands Davos, the Bilderbergers, the Trilateralists, and the rest of the “Washington Consensus,” the view of the U.S.-and-allied side, that America should control the world; and, on the other side stands the United Nations side, the view that neutral and internationally democratically based and neutrally applied international laws should instead control the world, without favoring America’s, or any other country’s, billionaires.

By Eric Zuesse

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse’s next book (soon to be published) will be AMERICA’S EMPIRE OF EVIL: Hitler’s Posthumous Victory, and Why the Social Sciences Need to Change. It’s about how America took over the world after World War II in order to enslave it to U.S.-and-allied billionaires. Their cartels extract the world’s wealth by control of not only their ‘news’ media but the social ‘sciences’ — duping the public.

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan will decide the future of the world; and, on Friday the 13th day of May in 2022, he gave his first indication of what that decision will be — that it will be for a global future of hope for international freedom and democracy, and against a global future of ever-increasing concentration of wealth and power into fewer and fewer hands. In this, his first statement on the subject, he spoke actually in favor of the world’s public, against the world’s aristocrats (or ‘oligarchs’, as The West’s billionaires refer to billionaires who are not in the richer Western countries).

This key decision, upon which the world’s future now depends, will be between a continuing erosion of the significance of international law (which laws come from the U.N. and its agencies) and a proportionate increase in what the U.S. Government calls “the rules-based international order,” in which America’s Government increasingly controls (and even sets) those “rules” that will replace international laws; versus a future in which what erodes will instead be the U.S. Government’s international power to control the world in its own (billionaires’) favor, and, so a future that correspondingly benefits the global public (the very people who suffer from the aristocracies’ — especially America’s aristocracy’s — increasing control over the entire world). On the one side, the U.S.-and-allied side, stands Davos, the Bilderbergers, the Trilateralists, and the rest of the “Washington Consensus,” the view of the U.S.-and-allied side, that America should control the world; and, on the other side stands the United Nations side, the view that neutral and internationally democratically based and neutrally applied international laws should instead control the world, without favoring America’s, or any other country’s, billionaires. 

Here is how the Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning U.S. President Barack Obama, in a speech that he delivered to America’s future generals, at West Point Military Academy, on 28 May 2014, stated the U.S. Government’s position on this matter, which is the key issue concerning international relations, and the global future: 

The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century passed and it will be true for the century to come. … Russia’s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us, and governments seek a greater say in global forums. … It will be your generation’s task to respond to this new world.

He was telling his military that America’s economic competition, against the BRICS nations, is a key matter for America’s military, and not only for America’s international corporations; he was saying that U.S. taxpayers fund America’s military at least partially in order to impose the wills and extend the wealth of the stockholders in America’s corporations abroad; and he was saying that the countries against which America is in economic competition are “dispensable,” but that America “is and remains the one indispensable nation.” So, ONLY America is “indispensable”; all OTHER nations are not, in that view. Not even America’s ‘allies’ — such as Germany, France, Japan, etc. — are. All of them are “dispensable. This, supposedly, also (and most especially) authorizes America’s weapons and troops to fight against countries whose “governments seek a greater say in global forums.” In other words, Obama was saying: Stop the growing economies from growing faster than America’s. 

There is a word for the American Government’s supremacist ideology: it is called “neoconservatism.” The general phrase that describes it is “imperialist fascism.” (Neoconservatism is purely America’s imperialist fascism.) Imperialist fascism (of ANY sort) is exactly what America’s President FDR had invented and intended the U.N. to terminate permanently by creating the United Nations to be an international democracy of nations outlawing any and all imperialisms, but FDR’s immediate successor, Truman, instead chose to continue imperialist fascism, but this time for America itself to become the all-encompassing global power. (He was the original neoconservative.) America quickly became the imperialist-fascist power; and, it has remained so even after the Soviet Union ended in 1991 — in fact, that event super-charged America’s fascist imperialism. And Obama super-super-charged it, by his February 2014 coup that grabbed Ukraine on Russia’s border, as a launching-pad from which Russia will ultimately be attacked.

Like another neoconservative, though of the opposite political Party, John Bolton, famously said: if the U.N. headquarters building “lost ten stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.” America’s Presidents and Congresses are bipartisanly neoconservative, almost 100% in favor of ceaseless increases in the control that America’s Government has over the world. They are happy that the U.N. has become little more than a talking-forum.

That brings us to the present.

On 13 May 2022, Reuters headlined “Erdogan says Turkey not supportive of Finland, Sweden joining NATO”, and reported that

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday it was not possible for NATO-member Turkey to support plans by Sweden and Finland to join the pact, saying the Nordic countries were “home to many terrorist organisations”.

Finland’s plan to apply for NATO membership, announced Thursday, and the expectation that Sweden will follow, would bring about the expansion of the Western military alliance that Russian President Vladimir Putin aimed to prevent by launching the Ukraine invasion.

“We are following the developments regarding Sweden and Finland, but we don’t hold positive views,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul.

Irrespective of how he might define “terrorist organizations,” what he really was saying there is that Turkey, as a member of America’s NATO military alliance against Russia, will veto the proposed addition to NATO (i.e., to its Article 5, which obligates every NATO member-nation to attack and join in conquering any nation that attacks ANY nation that is a member of America’s NATO military alliance) of Finland, which has the second-nearest border to Moscow (only a 7-minute missile-flying-time away), which is second ONLY to Ukraine (which is just a 5-minute missile-flying-time away from Moscow), as being the Russia-bordering nation that would pose the biggest danger to Russia if added to NATO. 

By Erdogan’s siding with Putin, not Biden, on this, the most crucial decision in international relations in our time, Erdogan would be standing firmly WITH the nations that the super-imperialist fascist Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama derisively referred to as being not merely “dispensable” but also as being the “rising middle classes [who] compete with us, and governments [who] seek a greater say in global forums” — Erdogan was siding there AGAINST the mono-polar U.S. global empire, and FOR the multi-polar global community of independent nations under international law (NOT “the rules-based international order” in which America’s Government increasingly controls, and even sets, those “rules” that would replace international law). 

NATO’s Article 10 states that:

The Parties may, by unanimous agreement, invite any other European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area to accede to this Treaty. Any State so invited may become a Party to the Treaty by depositing its instrument of accession with the Government of the United States of America. The Government of the United States of America will inform each of the Parties of the deposit of each such instrument of accession.

Turkey, according to Erdogan on May 13th, will veto not only Finland but also Sweden.

NATO’s Article 5 states that:

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.

If the United States Government succeeds in its (ever since 25 July 1945) ceaseless drive ultimately to replace the U.N. by itself (America) as being the ultimate source of “the international order,” then ONLY America’s billionaires will possess real seats at the international tables where the fates of nations and of their respective publics are being determined. Perhaps Erdogan is finally throwing in his lot with Russia, China, Iran, and the other nations that are standing opposed to imperialistic fascism, and in favor of the international democracy of nations that FDR had hoped would follow in World War II’s immediate wake (but which Truman made neutered and devoid of any real power). No other NATO-member-nation’s leader has, thus far, been so bold as to have announced that his nation will vote in NATO against Finland’s bid to join NATO.

Erdogan’s rationale for his statement, and the extent of his commitment to it, weren’t made entirely clear in that statement, but, in any case, his statement on the matter, at that time, was strong enough to cause America’s international propaganda-agency, RFE/RL, to headline “Turkey’s Erdogan Says He Opposes NATO Membership for Sweden, Finland”, and to allege that “Ankara risks a backlash from its NATO partners over its opposition to Sweden’s and Finland’s membership.” Certainly, there would be a “backlash” from Biden, who, after all, heads the only ‘indispensable’ country.

However, on May 14th, Reuters headlined “Exclusive: Turkey ‘not closing door’ to Sweden, Finland NATO entry, Erdogan advisor says”, and revealed that this matter was merely a negotiating ploy by Erdogan, to get the Kurdish separatist organization, PKK, which is called “terrorist” by Turkey, outlawed in Europe too. Erdogan has no principled position regarding the U.S. Government’s taking over the entire world, but instead is using the issue of Finland and Sweden being allowed into NATO as a lever to force those two countries, and all of the EU, to outlaw the PKK. This internal Turkish matter, not the world’s future, is what motivates him; and he is using the NATO-expansion question in order to force other countries to assist Turkey’s Government to crush the PKK, against which Turkey has been fighting for decades.  

IGNORING THE MIDDLE EAST AT ONE’S PERIL: TURKEY PLAYS GAMES IN NATO

15.05.2022

Written by James M. Dorsey

Amid speculation about a reduced US military commitment to security in the Middle East, Turkey has spotlighted the region’s ability to act as a disruptive force if its interests are neglected.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan set off alarm bells this week, declaring that he was not “positive” about possible Finnish and Swedish applications for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

NATO membership is contingent on a unanimous vote in favour by the organisation’s 30 members. Turkey has NATO’s second-largest standing army.

The vast majority of NATO members appear to endorse Finnish and Swedish membership. NATO members hope to approve the applications at a summit next month.

A potential Turkish veto would complicate efforts to maintain trans-Atlantic unity in the face of the Russian invasion.

Mr. Erdogan’s pressure tactics mirror the maneuvers of his fellow strongman, Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban. Mr. Orban threatens European Union unity by resisting a bloc-wide boycott of Russian energy.

Earlier, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia rejected US requests to raise oil production in an effort to lower prices and help Europe reduce its dependence on Russian energy.

The two Gulf states appear to have since sought to quietly backtrack on their refusal. In late April, France’s TotalEnergies chartered a tanker to load Abu Dhabi crude in early May for Europe, the first such shipment in two years.

Saudi Arabia has quietly used its regional pricing mechanisms to redirect from Asia to Europe Arab “medium,” the Saudi crude that is the closest substitute for the main Russian export blend, Urals, for which European refineries are configured.

Mr. Erdogan linked his NATO objection to alleged Finnish and Swedish support for the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which has been designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States, and the EU.

The PKK has waged a decades-long insurgency in southeast Turkey in support of Kurds’ national, ethnic, and cultural rights. Kurds account for up to 20 per cent of the country’s 84 million population.

Turkey has recently pounded PKK positions in northern Iraq in a military operation named Operation Claw Lock.

Turkey is at odds with the United States over American support for Syrian Kurds in the fight against the Islamic State. Turkey asserts that America’s Syrian Kurdish allies are aligned with the PKK.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned that Turkey opposes a US decision this week to exempt from sanctions against Syria regions controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

“This is a selective and discriminatory move,” Mr. Cavusoglu said, noting that the exemption did not include Kurdish areas of Syria controlled by Turkey and its Syrian proxies.

Referring to the NATO membership applications, Mr. Erdogan charged that “Scandinavian countries are like some kind of guest house for terrorist organisations. They’re even in parliament.”

Mr. Erdogan’s objections relate primarily to Sweden, with Finland risking becoming collateral damage.

Sweden is home to a significant Kurdish community and hosts Europe’s top Kurdish soccer team that empathises with the PKK and Turkish Kurdish aspirations. In addition, six Swedish members of parliament are ethnic Kurds.

Turkey scholar Howard Eissenstat suggested that Turkey’s NATO objection may be a turning point. “Much of Turkey’s strategic flexibility has come from the fact that its priorities are seen as peripheral issues for its most important Western allies. Finnish and Swedish entry into NATO, in the current context, absolutely not peripheral,” Mr. Eissenstat tweeted.

The Turkish objection demonstrates the Middle East’s potential to derail US and European policy in other parts of the world.

Middle Eastern states walk a fine line when using their potential to disrupt to achieve political goals of their own. The cautious backtracking on Ukraine-related oil supplies demonstrates the limits and/or risks of Middle Eastern brinkmanship.

So does the fact that Ukraine has moved NATO’s center of gravity to northern Europe and away from its southern flank, which Turkey anchors.

Moreover, Turkey risks endangering significant improvements in its long-strained relations with the United States.

Turkish mediation in the Ukraine crisis and military support for Ukraine prompted US President Joe Biden to move ahead with plans to upgrade Turkey’s fleet of F-16 fighter planes and discuss selling it newer, advanced F-16 models even though Turkey has neither condemned Russia nor imposed sanctions.

Some analysts suggest Turkey may use its objection to regain access to the United States’ F-35 fighter jet program. The US cancelled in 2019 a sale of the jet to Turkey after the NATO member acquired Russia’s S-400 anti-missile defence system.

Mr. Erdogan has “done this kind of tactic before. He will use it as leverage to get a good deal for Turkey,” said retired US Navy Admiral James Foggo, dean of the Center for Maritime Strategy.

A top aide to Mr. Erdogan, Ibrahim Kalin, appeared to confirm Mr. Foggo’s analysis. “We are not closing the door. But we are basically raising this issue as a matter of national security for Turkey,” Mr. Kalin said, referring to the Turkish leader’s NATO remarks. “Of course, we want to have a discussion, a negotiation with Swedish counterparts.”

Spelling out Turkish demands, Mr. Kalin went on to say that “what needs to be done is clear: they have to stop allowing PKK outlets, activities, organisations, individuals and other types of presence to…exist in those countries.”

Mr. Erdogan’s brinkmanship may have its limits, but it illustrates that one ignores the Middle East at one’s peril.

However, engaging Middle Eastern autocrats does not necessarily mean ignoring their rampant violations of human rights and repression of freedoms.

For the United States and Europe, the trick will be developing a policy that balances accommodating autocrats’, at times, disruptive demands, often aimed at ensuring regime survival, with the need to remain loyal to democratic values amid a struggle over whose values will underwrite a 21st-century world order.

However, that would require a degree of creative policymaking and diplomacy that seems to be a rare commodity.

Dr. James M. Dorsey is an award-winning journalist and scholar, a Senior Fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute and Adjunct Senior Fellow at Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, and the author of the syndicated column and blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer.

A podcast version is available on Soundcloud, Itunes, SpotifySpreaker, and Podbean.

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Interpreting Turkey’s Opposition To Finland & Sweden’s Planned NATO Membership

14 MAY 2022

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

The more that President Erdogan exposes the manipulative means through which countries like those two NATO aspirants support terrorism against the Turkish people, the more that their international reputations will be damaged, which will in turn harm their influence seeing as how Finland and Sweden’s are disproportionately derived from their soft power.

Turkish President Erdogan said on Friday that his country isn’t supportive of Finland and Sweden’s planned NATO membership because of their governments’ backing of the terrorist-designated PKK. This Kurdish separatist group is responsible for multiple terrorist attacks across the decades, but its Syrian wing, the YPG, is regarded by the US-led West as a key ally against ISIS. Ankara and Washington’s polar opposite stances towards that branch are the reason why they began falling out in the middle of the last decade. This issue has once again come to the fore in light of two recent events.

The first is of course Finland and Sweden’s planned NATO membership, while the second is the US’ decision to waive its anti-Syrian sanctions in the YPG-controlled northeast of the Arab Republic. President Erdogan also expressed his opposition to that move on the same day that he condemned those two countries’ support of Kurdish terrorists. These developments created the opportunity for the Turkish leader to once again raise awareness of his country’s stance towards that group and its regional branches in the hopes of pressuring the US-led West to distance themselves from it.

The challenge that he’s forced to confront, however, is that his mutual defense ally considers terrorist-designated Kurdish separatists to be more important regional partners than his own country. The reason for this is that its Syrian branch serves as the US’ proxies for continuing its military occupation of the agriculturally and energy-rich northeastern region as well as its means for manipulating its stalled constitutional reform process. From the perspective of the US’ grand strategic interests, these objectives are considered to take precedence over retaining ties with its decades-long Turkish ally.

Although it’ll never be openly admitted, America might also be preparing to employ these same Kurdish groups as anti-Turkish proxies in the scenario that those countries drift further apart and Washington considers it advantageous to utilize them as a means for punishing its wayward ally. It’s this possibility that concerns Turkish strategists the most since it could prove to be extremely destabilizing for their geostrategically positioned civilization-state. That’s why President Erdogan uses every relevant opportunity to pressure the US-led West to cut off its Kurdish proxies.

It’s extremely unlikely that this well-intended campaign against America will ever succeed though, but it at the very least raises maximum global awareness about its unprincipled policy of literally endangering the security of its decades-long mutual defense ally all for the purpose of advancing its interests vis a vis Syria at Turkey’s expense. Furthermore, it should go without saying that the US’ European partners like Finland and Sweden are unlikely to change their governments’ policy of wholeheartedly supporting terrorist-designated Kurdish separatists because Washington exercises hegemonic influence over them.

Even so, Turkey can still hit those two countries where it hurts the most by continuing to talk about their scandalous support of the PKK. That’s because a disproportionate share of their influence is derived from their soft power, particularly the impression that they’re supposedly neutral, principled, and peaceful states that are shining examples in all respects for the entire international community. The dark reality, however, is that their backing of the PKK exposes them as American stooges. Moreover, it also suggests that their so-called “humanitarian policies” are actually anti-humanitarian to the core.

Finland and Sweden essentially consider the Kurds to be a so-called “oppressed minority” in West Asia, including in Turkey. Their unipolar liberal-globalist worldview is such that they believe that those people deserve the US-led West’s full support as a result, to which end they aim to disguise their tacit endorsement of those separatist-terrorist Kurdish groups like the PKK on a so-called “humanitarian basis”. Its Syrian wing’s rebranding as anti-ISIS fighters who saved their people from their terrorist rivals’ planned genocide of them endeared the PKK in the hearts and minds of many Westerners.

This in turn facilitated the US-led West’s efforts to continue supporting them in all respects on a false humanitarian pretext. The more that President Erdogan talks about this and exposes the manipulative means through which countries like those two NATO aspirants support terrorism against the Turkish people, the more that their international reputations will be damaged, which will in turn harm their influence seeing as how Finland and Sweden’s are disproportionately derived from their soft power. In other words, this is an asymmetrical response to the threat that they pose to his country’s security.

That said, it remains unclear whether Turkey will formally block their NATO membership, which could provoke an intensification of the US-led West’s years-long Hybrid War against it that he might not be prepared for fully defending against at this time. If he ultimately supports their applications, then it can be considered that he did so knowing that the alternative could have been an exacerbation of the threats that his formal allies are nowadays posing to Turkey’s national security. In any case, it’s clear that Turkey’s troubled ties with the US-led West won’t improve anytime soon no matter what happens.

Biden Forces Continue Stealing Syrian Oil; Kurdish SDF Terrorists Killed

ARABI SOURI

Biden forces and their Kurdish SDF separatist terrorists continue ‘business as usual’ by stealing more of the Syrian oil and breaching Syria’s sovereignty as both of them work for the ‘Greater Israel’ project which has the Turkish madman Erdogan play a leading role in it, the Syrian national resistance in northern Syria also continue ‘business as usual’ by targeting the oil thieves and their proxy terrorists.

More than 50 vehicles most of which are tankers loaded with stolen Syrian oil were seen heading toward the Kharab Al Jir (Karab Al Jeer) military airport in the northeastern Hasaskah province before heading to Iraq through an illegal border crossing, the vehicles were operated by the Biden forces illegally present in Syria and were guarded by the Kurdish SDF separatist terrorists.

Near the village of Al Sajir in the northeastern countryside of Deir Ezzor, a group of Syrian national resistance attacked an illegal military point manned by the US-sponsored Kurdish SDF separatist terrorists, local sources confirming the attack also confirmed casualties among the targeted terrorists.

More in this report by the Syrian Ekbariya news channel:

The video is also available on BitChuteOdysee, and Rumble.

Transcript

A number of the US-sponsored SDF militants were killed and wounded in separate attacks targeting militia vehicles and points in the northern countryside of Deir Ezzor.

Al-Ekhbariya reporter quoted local sources as saying that an armed attack was carried out by unidentified persons with machine guns and RPGs, targeting a military point of the SDF militia in the village of Al-Sajir, north of Deir Ezzor, amid almost confirmed news of the death and injury of a number of militants of that militia.

The American occupation transferred a convoy of tanks filled with stolen Syrian oil and military equipment to its base at Kharab Al-Jeer Airport in the Yarubiyah countryside, in preparation for its expulsion to Iraq through the illegal Al-Waleed crossing.

Local sources indicated that a convoy of 50 vehicles, mostly tankers loaded with stolen oil, and a number of tankers loaded with artillery and military equipment, were accompanied by eight military armored vehicles of the American occupation forces headed from the Tel Hamis area in the eastern countryside of Hasaka to Kharab Al-Jeer airport in the town of Al-Yaroubiyeh, which the occupation forces use as its base.

The sources pointed out that the exiting vehicles stopped at Kharab Al-Jeer Airport to head to the illegal Al-Waleed crossing.

End of the transcript.

All of the Biden’s regime talks, and the talks of the regimes of his predecessors in the USA and in all NATO member countries, about the need to respect the freedoms of people, protect the borders of countries, respect the sovereignty of nations, as their current hysteria over Ukraine’s sovereignty and integrity, are all talks to justify their policies, talks targeted for the consumption of their gullible citizens who only foot the bills of the criminal interventions of the ‘Collective West’ in the targeted countries, the only goal is the hegemony of the haves in order to have more on the account of the rest of the world.

The sanctions (legally termed: unilateral coercive measures) the collective west imposed on Russia allegedly for the Russian military operation in Ukraine are nothing but a continuation of punishing countries who reject the absolute US hegemony, for decades, the US consecutive regimes have imposed inhumane sanctions and blockades on Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, and many other countries, their sanctions on Syria dubbed ‘Caesar Act‘ are the most draconian sanctions as they target companies and entire countries who deal with any Syrian business.

In addition to their illegal occupation of areas in northern Syria, where Syria’s main oil fields and wheat fields are, the Biden forces also occupy a military post in the furthest southeastern desert at Al Tanf area where they provide a protected zone for ISIS remnants.

Erdogan’s Plan to Israelize Northern Syria with a Million Settlers on Track

ARABI SOURI 

Israelize northern Syria is the real plot: reports from Turkey claim that the Turkish madman Erdogan is planning to ‘return’ up to a million Syrian refugees to their country with the help of city councils in Azaz, Jarabulus, and Tal Abyad.

One of the sites, the Saudi regime’s mouthpiece Al Arabiya reported: ‘Erdogan said on Tuesday that Ankara was aiming to encourage one million Syrian refugees to return to their country by building them housing and local infrastructure there.’

Saudi Bin Salman’s propaganda outlet claimed that Turkey is home to more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees,’ adding ‘Erdogan is facing rising public anger over the refugees’ presence and is wary of the issue dominating next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections.’

From my knowledge of this creep flip-flop hypocrite mafia-business partner, and war criminal Erdogan, I believe he’s ‘returning’ the families of his followers, not the Syrians uprooted from those areas infested by the Turkish army and a collection of terrorist groups spanning from the so-called National Army to ISIS (ISIL) all of which follow the same offshoot sect of Islam that Erdogan managed to radicalize the Sufi sect of Turkey into.

The Turkish madman Erdogan is replacing the people of northern Syria with terrorists and their families from other areas and from other countries from China to Latin America who joined the ranks of the ‘foreign legion’ he helped create.

That foreign legion includes his beloved and loyal anti-Islamic Muslim Brotherhood and Wahhabi terrorists including the Chinese Uighur, the Northern Africans, and others from the Central Asian stans of Turkic origins he collected.

We have repeatedly reported that the Turkish neo-Ottoman sultan wannabe wants to Israelize a buffer region in northern Syria to separate secular Syria from the radical Muslim Brotherhood Turkey he and his AKP clan are ruling (see hereherehere, and in other places on our site,) we devised the term ‘Israelize‘ to describe these evil plans.

On the other hand, the NATO-sponsored Kurdish SDF separatist terrorists have been actively working on a similar agenda to Israelize the parts of northern Syria they occupy with the help of the Biden oil thieves regiment of the US Army, also with the help of Israel and all of NATO combined, even Russia had supported them in the past and is yet to declare a new position toward their war crimes against the Syrian people in the provinces of Hasakah, Deir Ezzor, Raqqa, and Aleppo.

Make no mistake, the Saudis are hand-in-hand with the Turks, Qataris, US, Israelis, and the rest of NATO in the plot against Syria, any differences between them do not affect their joint efforts to destroy the Levantine country and slaughter its people, Syria, the last secular nation in the region and way beyond is an existential threat to entities like the temporary settlement dubbed Israel, the Al Saud fiefdom dubbed Saudi Arabia, the Arabia gas station dubbed Qatar (pronounced Gutter), and what Turkey has turned into under the rule of the UK empire-invented Muslim Brotherhood clan.

If Erdogan manages to carry out his agenda, he will be planting the seeds of a never-ending civil war his masters in Tel Aviv and Washington have long sought for the region. There will be no rest in the places where people were forcibly uprooted from their land and their land was gifted by those who do not own it to other people who do not deserve it; more than a century of the Palestinian cause hasn’t taught these fanatics that the real owners of the land will not give away their rights to their land to imported settlers even if all of the world’s superpowers and super-rich countries with all their evilness work toward achieving such war crime.

Syria News is a collaborative effort by two authors only, we end up most of the months paying from our pockets to maintain the site’s presence online, if you like our work and want us to remain online you can help by chipping in a couple of Euros/ Dollars or any other currency so we can meet our site’s costs.

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Hamas and Turkey: Is the honeymoon over?

Hamas’ rifts with Turkey are not unprecedented, but this time Erdogan risks losing the Palestinian resistance card to Iran, Syria and Lebanon if he continues to overplay his hand.

May 06 2022

The recent Hamas-Turkey crisis illustrates how the Palestinian resistance movement is split from within. Although Hamas has institutionally decided on a strategic alliance with Iran, the revived Meshaal faction still curries favor with an unreliable Turkey.
Photo Credit: The Cradle

By The Cradle’s Palestine Correspondent

Palestinian resistance movement Hamas is no longer able to hide its problem with Turkey. In 2011, Hamas took a hard line on Syria in favor of Turkey and Qatar. But eleven years later, the relationship is witnessing an impasse that Hamas can no longer hide, not only from its members, but also from the public. So what exactly is going on?

The Cradle interviewed a number of Hamas leaders, from the second and third leadership ranks, in Istanbul, Ankara, Beirut and Gaza, to get these details. They stipulated that their names not be mentioned for “organizational reasons,” or for reasons related to their place of residence.

More than a criticism

On the surface, Arab, Western and even Israeli media has tended to view the crisis as a new development, one that transpired after the recent Turkish-Israeli rapprochement – and Hamas’ criticism of it.

The revival of Ankara’s ties with Tel Aviv has been under discussion for a year or more, and culminated in early March with the visit of Israeli President Isaac Herzog to Ankara where he met with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Until then, Hamas was able to juggle its Turkish relations with some difficulty, and contented itself with a short statement criticizing the visit. But the Turkish condemnation of Palestinian guerrilla operations inside occupied Palestine in April placed Hamas in an impossible position, forcing the movement to issue a direct condemnation of the Turkish statements – and more.

Arab and Israeli media outlets then began to spread the news that Turkey was expelling Hamas military members or preventing a number from reentering its territory. Neither parties confirmed or denied those reports, which led to even more questions: Why is Turkey silent? Why didn’t Hamas launch a stinging attack against Ankara, as it did against Damascus 11 years ago? Had Syria expelled Hamas from its territory before 2011, would its war have happened – at least on this magnitude?

“Well-rehearsed game”

Sources we met in Istanbul say that what we are witnessing today is not an isolated incident, and has occurred more than once in the past years. In many cases, the Turkish authorities have requested certain Hamas members to temporarily leave the country, or to reduce their activities for a given period, after which things go back to normal. One source adds: “Everything is monitored in Turkey … what was happening was turning a blind eye to some activities at times, and tightening control at other times.”

These sources are close to Hamas’ external leader, Khaled Meshaal, who is the movement’s closest figure to Doha and Ankara, and its number one enemy in Damascus.

American “Muslim” Brotherhood

To indicate that things are normal between Hamas and Turkey, they point out that Sheikh Saleh al-Arouri, the official in charge of the group’s West Bank file, is still visiting Turkey.

Al-Arouri left Turkey in 2015 at an Israeli request, settled in Beirut, and has moved between Doha and Tehran and even Damascus at times. “But he still comes here (Turkey) from time to time to meet Abu al-Abed (Hamas’ Political Bureau Chief Ismail Haniyeh),” the sources reveal.

The truth is that Turkish authorities have now instructed Hamas that Al-Arouri must now coordinate his visits to Turkey in advance – ostensibly because he uses more than one passport, under different names.

So, this is all a well-rehearsed game. It is true that there is “Turkish tightening” of Hamas movements and activities, but “this took place in coordination with the movement, and upon an understanding on these details before Herzog’s visit. Therefore, there is no media clash between us and the Turks, and there are no statements and responses to them either,” the source continues.

In Gaza, however, there is another side to this story. Sources in the besieged territorial strip deny the existence of an ‘agreement’ between Hamas and Turkish officials. It confirms that the news about preventing the movement from carrying out any military or security activity from Turkish territory is accurate, especially if the action targets the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the 1948 areas.

The Gaza sources also confirm that some Hamas members have been prevented from entering Turkey, others were asked to stop their activities, and worst of all, the residencies of a number of them were not renewed without valid reasons provided, which means that they have to leave Turkey immediately. Although the number “does not exceed 100 with their families, but it is annoying, and it is considered to be in compliance with Israeli conditions.”

The Turks have taken further measures this time, ostensibly for “security purposes:” they have reduced the number of visas granted to Palestinian students and to tourism companies in Gaza. And from December 2021 onward, any Palestinian in Gaza or the West Bank who wishes to obtain a Turkish visa must come to a consulate in person to provide fingerprints and an instant photo, where previously it was sufficient to send their passport in.

But the most punishing measure by Ankara is the almost complete cessation of Turkish relief work in Gaza since the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war. The reason provided by Turkish authorities to its Hamas counterparts in Gaza was that Ankara is “shifting support to other regions.”

Bear in mind that Turkish relief activities that began in Gaza in the aftermath of Israel’s bombing devastation of the strip in 2009, have been significantly reduced since starting work in Ramallah four years ago (2017-2018).

Hamas vs Hamas

Hamas sources in Istanbul and Ankara say that their counterparts in Gaza “exaggerate” when describing the Turkish measures. They point to the fact that Hamas’ Gaza-based leader Ismail Haniyeh is a “semi-permanent resident” in Turkey as he is unable to hold all his meetings in Doha, and cannot visit Beirut whenever he wants. Therefore, he visits Ankara or Istanbul for a few weeks occasionally to hold these meetings. And since Haniyeh is the “head of the movement,” then “if there was a central Turkish decision to restrict Hamas, it would have been sufficient to prevent him from entering and stop hosting him, which never happened,” they argue.

“The movement’s leadership is holding a lot of meetings in Turkey so far, and it has not been prevented from doing so,” says one source. “According to our experience, everything that is requested now is temporary, regardless of how long it will last.”

“The Turks must give the Israelis what they are satisfied with, even if it is only in the media. But the reality is different. There are specific names under discussion, and it is not a broad and comprehensive process of expulsion or deportation,” he adds.

In late April, however, Israel Hayom newspaper reported that the Israelis handed the Turks a list of Hamas figures, including information about some of them being involved in military activities, in order to deport them.

Hamas sources in Turkey say that Ankara still allows entry to holders of the diplomatic (red) passport issued by the Hamas government in Gaza, while the majority of countries (such as Malaysia, Sudan, Syria and sometimes Lebanon) have responded to the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority’s request to stop doing so.

They also point to Meshaal’s new TV channel venture that will air from Istanbul, as an alternative to Al-Quds channel broadcast from Beirut which was closed down years ago due to “financial crisis.” Sources in Gaza instead say that that the aim of the closure was to “isolate Meshaal.”

The opening of Meshaal’s channel, which announced in October 2021 that it would begin hiring staff, comes on the back of recent Hamas political bureau elections, which resulted in the return of Meshaal and his team back into the game. Meshaal, who is also known as Abu Al-Waleed, is a supporter of strengthening the relationship with Turkey and Qatar at the expense of Hamas’ relationship with Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.

Effectively sidelined by Hamas for the past few years because of his monumental miscalculations during the Syrian war, in the past few months, Meshaal has been “very angry” because of Hezbollah’s refusal to meet during his Beirut visit in December. It is likely also why Meshaal’s name will never appear on an Israeli ‘ban list.’

The Hamas defense in Istanbul is therefore this: “Is it possible to open a new channel for the movement at a time when Turkey is expelling us?” Meshaal’s call not to clash with the Turks is based on his argument that Erdogan is facing difficulties now; that Hamas must understand this temporary situation until the Turkish presidential elections in 2023 pass peacefully; that an Erdogan loss will have repercussions on the movement that cannot be compared to any Turkish measures or restrictions now. This is the same theory of ’empowerment’ (tamkeen) to which the Muslim Brotherhood adheres.

Sources close to Meshaal argue that Turkey treats Israel on an equal footing, and it may respond to some Israeli requests as part of its political maneuvering, but that it will not meet all of these requests. This ‘political maneuvering’ is what prompted Erdogan to improve his relationship with the UAE – even though it contributed to the 2016 coup against him – and with Saudi Arabia – which killed a Saudi dissident with a chainsaw on Turkish soil. It is realpolitik, they argue. All for money, investments, gas – and to retain his presidency.

Secrets revealed for the first time

Hamas sources in Ankara and Istanbul revealed further private details to The Cradle, saying the recent Turkish measures did not include Hamas members who have obtained Turkish citizenship: “These have become Turkish citizens, and Israel cannot ask their state to expel them or prevent them from entering the country… We are talking here about dozens of active people.”

They also reveal that “Turkish intelligence protects Hamas members, not only from killing or kidnapping, but also from espionage.” In this context, the sources point to the arrest last October of a cell of 13 to 15 spies working for the Mossad. They were spying on a full range of Hamas and supporters’ activities in Turkey, especially the Palestinian and Syrian students who submitted projects related to drones or engineering that could serve the movement’s military arm. These students are still studying in Turkish universities today.

The Turkish measures also follow US and Israeli diktats that while Ankara and Doha must “contain Hamas,” they should also not lose control of them. One sources explains: “It is true that there are limits to Hamas’ work in Turkey and there is full control over its activities. But if everyone is expelled from here, this will mean throwing these people into the arms of Iran, Syria and Lebanon, because Qatar or any other country will not be able to bear their presence on its soil… and this is last thing the United States and even Israel would want.”

Indeed, despite some ‘collateral damage’ such as military, security and financial activities, it seems that there is a great benefit to the Israelis and the Americans from Hamas’ presence in Turkey, and it is unlikely that Israel will ever request the complete expulsion of the movement and prevention of all its activities.

During this investigation, The Cradle heard many complaints within Hamas about the behavior of some of its members who live in Turkey. Many of these, after obtaining citizenship or residency, engage in investment and real estate projects, and leave work in the movement, and some of them travel to Europe, Canada and even the United States.

Anger in Gaza

The arguments of the Meshaal camp in favor of ‘tolerating’ Turkey’s new measures do not convince Hamas sources in Gaza, who say that a “comprehensive review” of the relationship with Turkey is underway. This review does not intend to end or sabotage the movement’s relationship with Turkey, but instead to assess its “feasibility” and “benefits.”

‘Turkish normalization’ with Israel has caused great embarrassment within Hamas and its members, as well as among its supporters. Many are seriously demanding to know what Turkey has done over the past decades for Palestinian resistance. Even in the years when the relationship between Hamas and Ankara improved, they note that the relationship between Ankara and Tel Aviv was progressing more quickly, and in more areas.

This anger is what prompted the release of leaks and statements over the past two months criticizing Turkish behavior. But the Meshaal-dominated leadership abroad was able to prevent the ‘deterioration’ of the situation, and pledged to communicate with Turkish officials to clarify their position. So far, the issue has not been resolved. It seems that officials in Ankara are in no hurry to provide an answer.

It may be more important, however, to pay attention to what the leadership in Gaza is planning that may ultimately affect the future of the movement’s relationship with Turkey. Sources in Gaza say that the Hamas leadership has taken a decision to bring the relationship with Iran to the level of a “strategic relationship” and not just an alliance, and that this is a decision that has been adopted by the entire movement.

This is why since the end of the last war in May 2021, the speeches of Hamas’ leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, have focused on the relationship with the “Jerusalem axis.” In his most recent speech on April 30, Sinwar spoke about Hamas’ coordination with the axis  “to open the sea route to and from Gaza.”

This is the same route that the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara tried to take in 2010, before the attempt ended with an Israeli massacre. But Erdogan has quickly forgotten his threats over the incident, and was satisfied with an apology over the phone from former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – after Washington’s mediation – which asked Netanyahu to pay compensation to the Turkish victims. Israel at the time “expressed regret” but did not cough up an apology, and offered to pay what it described as “humanitarian funding” to compensate the families of the victims.

Because Hamas’ relationship with Iran has become strategic, and the Gaza leadership attaches great importance to it – to the point that it believes a “war of liberation” is close – it seems almost certain that its relationship with Turkey will continue to decline.

This does not mean that the Iranians have reservations about the relationship between Hamas and Ankara. But “the past and the present reveal the near and distant future,” as described by those we spoke with in Gaza.

They raise a serious issue that is being exposed for the first time. The leadership in Gaza has learned that the Turks are using members of Hamas to help organize programs for Turkish visits to Jerusalem and to persuade Turkish citizens to participate. This is being done under the heading of “supporting Al-Aqsa Mosque,” but it ultimately aims to improve the relationship with Israel, especially as the Turkish visitors will enter the occupied territories on an Israeli visa.

These visits have been very active since late 2021, and come with the encouragement of both the Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs and the support of Erdogan, who has a number of associations concerned with this matter under his direct administration.

In April, a huge controversy erupted on social media platforms about the visit of the famous Turkish ‘Chef Burak’ Ozdemir to Al-Aqsa. Many believed the visit was “not innocent” in its timing, as it coincided with the Palestinian confrontation with Israeli forces over the holy mosque. However, Burak was better received by the Palestinians than the Gulf ‘visitors.’

Anxiety in Beirut

Those we contacted from Hamas in Beirut were less angry, but more anxious. They also refer to a “restriction in the granting of visas” through the Turkish embassy in Lebanon dating back to around six months ago. The embassy spun this as a natural reduction in Palestinian applications from Syria, after the Palestinian embassy in Damascus made it easier for Palestinians to obtain a passport issued in Ramallah – which could be used to visit Turkey to obtain residency or purchase real estate instead of via asylum documents.

Whatever the real reason for this restriction, it cannot be separated from the latest set of Turkish measures that were recently placed on Hamas. But the biggest concern in Beirut is about the future of the relationship. This concern is not a result of the difference in viewpoints within the movement, because in the end the decision will be issued collectively and institutionally.

The concern is over the fate of the relationship with Ankara, which appears to be adopting a different approach with the Muslim Brotherhood, after taking harsh measures against its members. The last of these measures was the expulsion of the Mkamelin channel and the suspension of its broadcasts from Turkish territory. Will a similar measure affect Hamas institutions soon?

For these reasons, their concerns appear realistic, especially given the acceleration of reconciliation between Ankara and Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv, all of whom are avowed enemies of Hamas – with Doha potentially affected by Turkey’s new behaviors as well.

The answer to this question can perhaps be found back in 2018. This year reveals a lot about events transpiring today.

The 2018 crisis

This was not a good year in the relationship between Hamas and Turkey. Turkish measures against the movement were similar to its actions today: refusal to arrange high-level meetings between the Hamas leadership and Turkish officials, freezing the renewal of residency permits for its members, and poor treatment of the wounded Palestinians from Gaza, among other measures.

That year, Turkey had expressed “disappointment” with the Syrian war, and with Hamas, which had decided in 2017 to improve its relationship with Egypt, start wooing Syria, and strengthen its relationship with Hezbollah and Iran.

The Hamas-Turkish crisis was then based in Ramallah. The President of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Mahmoud Abbas did all he could to sabotage the relationship between the two parties and he succeeded in that well.

At that time, Abbas met Erdogan, and provided him with information about an alleged ‘alliance’ between Hamas and the dismissed leader of Fatah, Muhammad Dahlan, who receives Emirati support, and who is accused of participating in plotting the coup against the Turkish president.

Hamas was unable to alleviate Erdogan’s wrath in this instance, and the latter ordered the transfer of the management of relief works from Gaza to Ramallah, and restricted Turkish aid to the PA in the West Bank. While the relationship gradually improved over time as tensions decreased, ties between Hamas and Ankara did not return to their previous levels.

Erdogan’s supportive statements about Palestine ebb and flow, and he stands accused of exploiting the Palestinian cause in order to gain popularity when facing internal crises. The Palestinian cause is still very popular on the Turkish street, and the president’s outreach to Israel has not been well-received.

Today, since Ankara’s relationships with Ramallah, Amman and Tel Aviv are thriving, and may improve soon enough with Cairo too, why does Turkey even care about the Hamas card and Palestinian resistance? It is a troubling question for the movement that its leaders often ask among themselves.

It seems that the coming months, not years, will hold an answer to that. While Erdogan’s actions are unpopular in Turkey, they serve his geopolitical agenda for now. On the other hand, with an uncertain 2023 election result looming, he will need his ‘Palestinian card’ to appeal to constituents – many of whom have now also turned critical of the US, which Erdogan is ever eager to please. It is an almost impossible balancing game for the Turkish presidency.

In the meantime, any Turkish actions against Hamas will not be surprising, but the movement has been put on notice, and its reactions may surprise Turkey right back.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Why has Turkey Closed its Skies for Russian Aircraft Bound for Syria?

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360°

Valery Kulikov
On April 23, during a tour of Latin America, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu announced that his country was closing its airspace to Russian military and civilian flights bound for Syria. But he added that this decision did not mean that Turkey was joining in the anti-Russian sanctions – it was simply that the agreement on an air corridor concluded between Moscow and Ankara was only valid for three months. That term is expiring at the end of April, and Turkey does not plan to renew it, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently informed his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. The two nations have agreed that Russia will not use Turkish airspace to transport its troops to Syria, Mr. Çavuşoğlu added.

Clearly, Ankara’s decision is related to a number of situations that have taken a more serious turn in recent months.

One of these is Turkey’s new military operation against the Kurds – not just the Kurdish armed groups in Iraq, but also those in Syria. Clearly Ankara does not wish Moscow to get in the way of its plays in some way.

It should be noted that this operation, Ankara’s third special operation against the Kurds, is clearly not being conducted at Washington’s behest, as it is, in part, directed against Kurdish formations loyal to the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Evidently, in an attempt to rein in Turkey’s military zeal, Washington has pressurized it into taking certain anti-Russian steps, and as a result Turkey has closed its airspace to Russian military and civilian aircraft.

The US itself is also concerned to limit Russia’s military operations in Syria, intending as it does to step up its aggressive operations there and, it seems, to open a “second front” in the confrontation with Russia. To this end, on April 23 the US sent a “convoy of 35 vehicles with trucks with munitions and technical supplies” as well as tankers for transporting oil from areas of Syria under Kurdish control. On April 25 another US military convoy arrived at the Kharab al-Jir aerodrome in the al-Malikiya area district of Al-Hasakah Governorate. According to a source from the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reporter it consisted of 36 vehicles loaded with boxes, cement panels and generators, supported by four US military armored vehicles.

In a bid to reinforce its position in its conflict with the Syrian state, Washington appears to have encouraged its ally Israel to launch military attacks on Syrian territory. In the morning of April 27 sites in the suburbs of Damascus were hit by Israeli rockets – the third such attack in less than a month.

Washington is also clearly concerned that Moscow may redeploy Russian forces and Syrian volunteers from its Khmeimim and Tartus bases to its special operation in Ukraine.

In short, it is clear that Turkey’s decision to close its airspace to Russia is entirely consistent with both its own and Washington’s interests.

In recent months Turkey, has been walking a tightrope in an attempt to avoid damaging its own interests by antagonizing either Washington or Moscow. It has made a point of showing Moscow that it is complying with the Montreux Convention, and doing all it can to prevent the clashes between NATO and Russian forces in the Black Sea. On April 26 it even initiated a new round of talks with Moscow on the purchase of a second Russian-made S-400 air defense system. The talks were led by Ismail Demir, head of Turkey’s Presidency of Defense Industries, who declared that “Ankara has no wish to discontinue its cooperation with Russia on arms supply issues because of the situation in Ukraine.”

It should also be noted that Ankara has urged all concerned to resolve the crisis in the Azovstal steel plant, and in particular to evacuate “the civilians and military personnel who are trapped there.” These initiatives are clearly not just spontaneous gestures or motivated by humanitarian considerations. After all, Turkey is continuing, along with other NATO members, to supply the Kiev regime with arms and other military equipment. These include Bayraktar TB2 drones, which have already been used in strikes on Russian territory.

Ankara’s concern is understandable, as it is now known that the fighters trapped in the Azovstal steelworks by Russian, PRD/PRL soldiers include hundreds of mercenaries from Turkey and Europe and high-ranking instructors from NATO countries, who are managing Kiev’s military operation in the Donbass. It would therefore clearly not be in the interests of the “collective West” for them to fall into Russia’s hands or for their presence to be made known to and judged by the international community, thus confirming what is already clear from the documentary evidence received by Moscow – namely the provocative role played by Washington and Brussels in inflaming the war in Ukraine. That is why in the last few days the West has allowed Ankara a much greater role in regulating the current situation.

As for Turkey’s closing of its airspace to Russian aircraft bound for Syria, that decision will certainly have an impact on the development of relations between Moscow and Ankara. Russia’s could potentially retaliate in any number of ways. It could, for example, restrict fruit and vegetable imports from Turkey, or limit the number of Russian tourists visiting the country. After all, 18% of Turkey’s national budget comes from Russian tourists, and given its current economic woes it can ill afford to lose this source of income. Or Moscow could take measures against the Turkish Stream project, promoted by Ankara in a bid to replace Ukraine as the leading gas hub in the region. Russia has many other sources of leverage over Turkey, including in Central Asia, and Ankara is well aware of this fact and has in recent years managed a fine balancing act to avoid losing Russia’s support.

It should also be remembered that Russia would have no problem finding alternative flight routes to Syria. Moscow could transport all the necessary supplies, including military equipment, via the Caspian Sea and Iran, which is happy to allow Russian military and civilian aircraft to use its airspace 24 hours a day for purposes related to the two countries’ joint military operations in Syria.

Related

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Iran makes gains as Israel, Turkey test Moscow’s limits on Ukraine

April 25 2022

Under pressure to side with the west on Ukraine, Israel and Turkey risk falling out with Russia – which will benefit Iran in the long-term.

Winners and losers: West Asian geopolitics are shuffling during the Russia-Ukraine conflict, as states are increasingly forced to take sides.Photo Credit: The Cradle

By MK Bhadrakumar

The closure of Turkey’s air space to all Russian aircraft has not come as a surprise to Moscow, which is aware that Ankara and Washington are involved in a new dalliance and that there is a full spectrum calibration of Turkish regional policies under way.

The best evidence of it is that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan now says that a “reasonable, consistent and balanced relationship” with Israel is the only way to effectively defend the Palestinian cause, while Ankara’s rapprochement with Jerusalem solidifies despite intense tensions over the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

However, the closure of Turkish air space to Russian planes has broader regional implications. Russia has bases in Syria and although the conflict in that country has subsided, it remains “kinetic” with Turkey on the prowl with a large force of Syrian rebels it has trained and equipped over the last few years — at least 20,000 fighters following a unified command structure under what is being called the Syrian National Army.

Syria still matters

Suffice to say that Moscow, which anticipated the non-availability of the Turkish air space sooner or later, would have worked out alternate arrangements. The air route via the Caucasus and Iran is one option. Of course, Moscow and Tehran have congruent interests that the military balance in Syria should not tilt, although some redeployment of Russian forces from Syria to the conflict zones in Ukraine is to be expected.

Collaterally, Iran’s role as a stabilizer in the Syrian situation can only become more prominent. Meanwhile, Erdogan sees a window of opportunity to tiptoe around the presence of US and Russian forces in northern Syria and take control over the Kurdish autonomous regions. Turkey has also moved hundreds of troops, armor, and firepower to boost its presence around Idlib in northwestern Syria, which, if Ankara fails to reach an understanding with Russia, could come under attack.

There was a time until recently when Moscow and Washington stood in the way of any Turkish offensive to take territory from Kurdish forces. But that looks like a bygone era now. Turkey finds itself in a far better position than ever before to cut the Gordian knot that thwarted its ambitions and delayed any large scale offensive to pursue those ambitions in northern Syria.

An opportunity for Iran?

This evolving segment of the Syrian conundrum must be bothering Iran. However, no less significant is the contradiction regarding Russia’s relations with Israel, which provided the latter the space to attack Iranian assets in Syria.

Iran is intensely conscious that Israeli intelligence is ’embedded’ in US bases all across the region, which not only gives cover for intelligence gathering but also grooms Israel, as it were, for future roles as a subaltern of the US Central Command (CENTCOM) — the US military’s command center which covers activities from Egypt and West Asia to Central and South Asia.

Last year in January, the Pentagon reported a change in the Unified Command Plan shifting Israel from US European Command (EUCOM) to CENTCOM in a move envisaging the “strategic upgrade” of that country’s future role in West Asia as Washington pays greater attention to the Indo-Pacific.

All things considered, it must be a welcome development for Iran that there is greater clarity now about the limits to the Russian-Israeli relationship. Israel tried hard initially to remain neutral in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia and even projected an aspirational role as facilitator-cum-mediator. But the Biden Administration would have none of it and has come down on the Naftali Bennett government like a ton of bricks, demanding that it must behave like any subaltern is expected to do.

Israel-Russia relations are being tested

Israelis are realists. Which is why Foreign Minister Yair Lapid went down on his knees to explicitly accuse Russia of war crimes in Ukraine. But in the process, Lapid went somewhat overboard, as he chose a venue in Greece in the presence of his Greek and Cypriot counterparts to lambast Russia:

“A large and powerful country has invaded a smaller neighbour without any justification. Once again, the ground is soaked with the blood of innocent civilians. The images and testimony from Ukraine are horrific. Russian forces committed war crimes against a defenceless civilian population. I strongly condemn these war crimes.”

Lapid, a former general himself who is no stranger to war crimes, probably ingratiated himself personally with the Russophobic “hawks” in Washington, being Israel’s next prime minister. But he twisted the knife deep into the Russian consciousness. And Moscow’s reaction has been swift.

Not only was the Israeli ambassador summoned by the Russian Foreign Ministry but two other things happened in quick succession. First, in a not-too-subtle hint, Admiral Oleg Zhuravlev, the deputy chief of the Russian Centre for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties in Syria, disclosed that  a Syrian-operated, Russian-made Buk M2E air defense system had recently intercepted a guided missile fired from an Israeli F-16 fighter jet in Syrian airspace.

The disclosure of the Syrian interception was as good a warning as there could be that Russia might no longer tolerate future Israeli strikes against targets in Syria (which are mostly Iranian assets.)

Second, Putin himself appeared on the scene writing a letter to Bennett demanding that Israel should transfer control of Jerusalem’s Church of St. Alexander Nevsky to Russia, as was promised by Netanyahu as part of a deal two years ago to win the release of an Israeli-American national detained in Russia on drug charges.

This latter issue will be a bitter pill for Bennett to swallow — to transfer to Russia the custodianship of the church located in Jerusalem’s Old City. The church is of exceptional importance to the Russian Orthodox Church and is a place of pilgrimage for Orthodox Russians who are inextricably linked with the rising tide of Russian nationalism.

Voice of America report lost no time in noting that “the issue is one of the latest flashpoint in the increasingly contentious relations between the two countries during the Russian war against Ukraine.”

Long-term planning

While Israel has a parochial and time-serving foreign policy, what distinguishes Iran’s compass is its sheer breadth of strategic vision. Iran understands perfectly well that the west is pursuing dangerous intentions in the Ukraine crisis.

Tehran sees through “the west’s strategy of turning Ukraine into a deadly quagmire for Russia to create the conditions for the west to play a more active role on the world stage, especially in the eastern hemisphere, by removing it from the list of major players on the international stage,” as an influential Iranian commentator wrote last week.

Conceivably, Iran’s best hope and interest would lie in Russia’s success in overcoming the crisis which may lead to a reset of the world order in the direction of greater multipolarity away from the prevailing western-led political and financial systems.

Evidently, the Biden administration is taking its own time to reach an agreement with Iran on the lifting of sanctions against Iran. It is baiting Tehran with patently-contrived, fantastic propositions almost on a daily basis: while Washington may remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the terror list, its elite Quds Force shall remain branded as such; and so forth.

However, the heart of the matter is that the Biden administration’s foreign policies are currently Russia-centric (rather, ‘Putin-centric’) and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Washington is seeking reasonable certainty that Iran is willing to distance itself from Russia. The specter that haunts the Biden administration is the sheer possibility of two energy superpowers — with ideological affinities for a just and equitable world order and multipolar trade and currency regimes — working in tandem, which the US is hard-pressed to counter effectively.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

By restricting Moscow’s moves, Erdogan is playing Russian roulette

April 27 2022

If closing part of Turkish airspace to Russian planes is an indication of Ankara’s new direction, it may prove fatal for Turkey across several fronts.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Abdel Bari Atwan

Turkey’s decision to close its airspace to Russian military and civilian aircraft bound for northern Syria surprised many observers. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s announcement of this decision to Turkish journalists during his Latin America tour raised many questions about its future implications for Russian-Turkish relations.

It is unlikely that this decision may have been one of the outcomes of a Turkish-American deal following discreet contacts between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart Joe Biden to clamp down on Russia. Unlike his predecessor Donald Trump, Biden believes that it is difficult to achieve regional security without Turkey, which is an original member of NATO. And so the deal between the two countries included expanding economic cooperation and meeting Turkey’s defense needs, particularly in the advanced F-35s, Patriot and THAAD missile systems.

There are several explanations for Ankara’s decision. The first is that the US exerted pressure on Turkey after it became evident that the Russians commanded the battle of Mariupol and other southeastern Ukrainian areas from the Russian airbase of Hemeimim in northern Syria – from which strategic strikes were carried out against Ukrainian forces.

A second possible explanation is that Erdogan succeeded in improving his country’s relations with Washington, taking full advantage of the desperate US need for regional allies in NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine.

But where one loses, another gains. On the back of the surprise Turkish decision, Tehran cleverly offered to allow Russian aircraft to use Iranian airspace to reach naval and air bases in northern Syria. While these flight times may be longer, there are instant benefits for the two countries, especially Iran, which has now further enhanced its strategic relations with the Russia-China axis. Iran has not been ambiguous: since the outbreak of the Ukrainian military crisis, it has failed to condemn Moscow’s actions and has stood quietly in the Russian trench.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been generous with his Turkish counterpart. He forgave Erdogan for his 2015 mistake when Turkish air defenses shot down a Russian Sukhoi plane that allegedly penetrated Turkey’s airspace near the Syrian-Turkish border for a few seconds. It took a series of expansive Russian punishments for the Turkish president to apologize in all languages, including Russian, for the mishap.

Putin has showed understanding, and even patience, over the Turkish occupation of areas in northern Syria, contrary to the wishes of his staunch allies in Damascus. However, Ankara’s latest decision to establish a ‘Russian no-fly zone’ will not be so easy to forgive, especially if followed by further measures such as banning the passage of Russian military vessels through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits to the Mediterranean, in accordance with the Montreux Agreement.

This remains an option in light of the rapid – if stealthy – improvement in Turkish-US relations. But choosing to align with Washington on Ukraine also risks racking up Russian-engineered military, political, and economic costs for Turkey, one year out from the country’s pivotal elections.

Further aligning with the US also means Erdogan will not be able to continue playing his carefully crafted role as a “neutral” mediator in this crisis, and host the upcoming summit meeting between the Turkish and Ukrainian presidents.

Turkish aspirations to expand trade cooperation with Russia to $100 billion dollars per annum will also be impacted, and the sale of further Russian S-400 missile defense systems to Turkey will be unlikely. More seriously, Russia may respond by developing or expanding relations with the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and supporting its operations in Turkey.

Politically speaking, the Russian military operation in Ukraine is a matter of life and death for Putin. Therefore his response to Ankara’s belligerent moves are likely to be decisive and could possibly play out on several fronts:

  • The Syrian front: To keep the balance in Russian relations with Turkey, Putin strongly opposed the Syrian leadership’s desire to invade Idlib to eliminate the jihadist terror groups based there and restore territorial control back to Damascus. While Moscow’s position may not yet change, renewed, intensive Russian military operations in Idlib will lead to an increase in Syrians fleeing to Turkish territory, which already hosts over 3 million Syrian refugees.
  • Strengthening Russian-Iranian relations: This will have a negative impact on Erdogan’s regional ambitions – especially in West and Central Asia – taking into account that China, which forms the third and strongest arm of this budding alliance is a full-fledged member of this troika.
  • The Arab Front: Turkey’s desire to improve its relations with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Persian Gulf and Arab states may be hindered in light of the rapprochement of these countries with Russia and China, which coincides with the breakdown of their relations with their traditional American ally. There is much the Russia-Iran-China (RIC) alliance can do in West Asia to unsettle Ankara’s relations within the region. It is worth noting that Riyadh has not yet responded to Turkish diplomatic outreach, significantly on the closure of the file of the state-sanctioned murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Erdogan’s leadership in recent months has been characterized by confusion and volatility. Recent political developments include Ankara’s unpopular improvement in ties with Israel, its gradual involvement in the Ukraine crisis, and its warming relations with Washington. These come at a critical time, not only amid a nation-wide economic crisis but also a year before presidential and legislative elections that pose a serious threat to Erdogan’s reign.

President Putin may have decided initially to overlook Turkey’s sale of the Bayraktar drones that have arguably contributed in the deaths of some 2,000 Russian soldiers in Ukraine, and reluctantly accepted its role as an intermediary in the crisis. At the strategic level, though, it will be difficult for him to tolerate Turkey’s accelerated bias toward the west.

It is true that Turkey is a regional power, and militarily strong, but it is also true that the US-led camp toward which it is tilting is in decline, torn apart by divisions, and failing dramatically in its economic sanctions regime against Russia. Furthermore, this camp is facing an alliance of two super-powers, a nuclear third (India), and a fourth on the way (Iran), together comprising more than half of the world’s population.

President Erdogan’s gamble with Russia is risky and may backfire, at just the wrong time.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Erdogan with Assad: There is no Reconciliation before the Arabs and “Israel” إردوغان و”إسرائيل”.. من المصالحة إلى التحالف العسكري؟

ARABI SOURI

Reconciliation with Damascus will mean for the Turkish President Erdogan to abandon his strategic calculations and projects.

The following is the English translation from Arabic of the latest article by Turkish career journalist Husni Mahali he published in the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news site Al-Mayadeen Net:

The news published by Hurriyet newspaper, loyal to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on April 3, has received wide attention in most Arab media outlets, as the newspaper stated, “The Turkish authorities are conducting their discussions with the aim of dialogue with the Syrian government, in order to restore relations between the two countries to its nature.”

The media and those who wrote in it did not pay attention to what was stated in the news, as it was said that “Turkey, in all its contacts with the Syrian administration, affirms 3 basic things, namely, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, ensuring the lives of refugees returning to their country, and preventing the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party from any activity in Syria.

Contrary to what President Erdogan asserts on every occasion, Ankara controls about 10% of the Syrian territory, which contradicts the notion of sovereignty and the unity of the Syrian territory. It also provides all kinds of support to tens of thousands of militants of the so-called “National Army” established in Turkey, which it pays the salaries of all its personnel.

On top of that, Ankara’s objection to the Syrian army’s liberation of Idlib and its vicinity, without heeding the accusations leveled against it regarding the relationship with the terrorist of “Al-Nusra Front”, which includes thousands of foreign militants, and which obtains all its needs from Turkey, near Idlib.

As for the return of Syrian refugees to their homes, many, including the leaders of Turkish political parties, wrote and spoke about Ankara obstructing the return of Syrian refugees to their country, and it tells them that the living and security situation in Syria is very bad, and it meets the needs of all Syrians residing in the areas controlled by the Turkish army west and east of the Euphrates, as Defense Minister Hulusi Akar previously said that “Turkey meets the needs of 9 million Syrians, 3.5 million of whom are in Turkey, and the rest are inside Syria.”

Ankara believes that this Turkish position “contributes to the increase in Erdogan’s popularity in Syria in general.” As for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which means the “SDF” and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, the Syrian arm of the PKK, everyone remembers how Ankara had a close relationship with Salih Muslim, the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Union Party, and sought to persuade him until the summer of 2015 “to rebel against the Syrian state in exchange for promises to meet his demands in the new Syria after the overthrow of the regime in Damascus.”

As everyone knows, Ankara, under the pretext of the aforementioned Kurdish militias, succeeded in persuading Washington and Moscow to allow it in October 2019 to penetrate east of the Euphrates and control a border strip of 110 km in length and 30 km in depth in some areas, which helped the Turkish forces to take control of strategic locations in the region, as is the case in the Afrin region after taking control of it in March 2018.

All of this explains Ankara’s failure to abide by its commitments in the Sochi and Moscow agreements on Idlib and the Turkish military presence in northern Syria in general, despite the possibilities of a heated confrontation with the Syrian and Russian armies in the region, as happened in February 2020.

It also explains President Erdogan’s constant talk about his rejection of any solution to the Syrian crisis, without recognizing the main Turkish role in this solution, which must meet the Turkish conditions in coordination and cooperation with the Syrian opposition, both political and armed, all of which are moving according to the Turkish agenda supported by Qatar, which is what President Erdogan exploits in his overall bargaining with all parties interested in the Syrian file regionally and internationally, especially with the continuation of their current positions, which can be summed up in not rushing to take any decisive decision to close this file.

President Erdogan sees this regional and international situation as a source of strength for him, as long as the Arab capitals are not encouraged to reconcile with President Assad, and he will not think of reconciling with him until after the leaders of the main Arab countries, led by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Qatar, reconcile.

Reconciliation in President Erdogan’s concept is for these leaders and others to contact President Assad, exchange visits with him, and open their embassies in Damascus with Israeli consent, as they all did (Erdogan as well) with the putschist Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (of Sudan), and together they abandoned Imran Khan (of Pakistan) on American instructions!

In other words, President Erdogan will not take any initiative toward Damascus as long as he sees Assad as his “subordinate governor”, and sees himself as the “Ottoman Sultan”, this is what Assad said, which President Qais Saeed (of Tunisia) reminded last week when he responded to Erdogan’s statements, who described his decision to dissolve the parliament as a “coup,” so he said: “Tunisia is not a province, and we are not waiting for a firman (from the Ottoman Sultan).”

We do not ignore President Erdogan’s efforts to reconcile with Cairo, Riyadh, and Abu Dhabi, which he personally accused of plotting against Turkey, at a time when President Assad and the Syrian state did not undertake any hostile action against Turkey, which proved, through its recent actions, that it favors “Israel” with its terrorist regime over neighboring Syria, which through it, it entered the Arab region after the first visit of Prime Minister Abdullah Gul to Damascus at the beginning of 2003.

Although Gul, and even Davutoglu, who was said at the time to be the architect of Turkish foreign policy, became in the trench against Erdogan, it became clear that the prospects for Turkish reconciliation with President Assad will never be easy for the Turkish president.

Erdogan sees such reconciliation as a recognition of the defeat of his (Muslim Brotherhood) ideological project, even if he abandoned it during his bargains with “Tel Aviv” (Hamas and the Palestinians in general), Cairo (Egypt’s Brotherhood), Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

In addition, reconciliation with Damascus will mean at the same time abandoning his calculations, projects, and strategic plans, especially after he established a network of complex military, intelligence, and political relations intertwined with very wide Syrian sectors and groups, and that abandoning it will not be easy for Ankara (what will it do with tens of thousands of militants?), which sees northern Syria as an extension of Turkish geography and a strategic depth for its national security, which Turkish officials have been repeating since the beginnings of the Syrian crisis, and its main player is Erdogan, it seems clear that he will not give up this role until his last breath, as long as no one asks him to do so, and President Assad will not surprise him by visiting Ankara!

Erdogan is waiting for the positions of the Arab capitals, and more importantly, “Tel Aviv”, because he thinks, rather he believes, that it will not initiate any reconciliation with Assad, of course, if he had not agreed with Herzog and Ibn Zayed on that, otherwise reconciliation with Syria must be a priority for Erdogan and the others, this is, of course, if they are not together at the disposal of “Tel Aviv”, the only beneficiary of the years of the bloody “Arab Spring”, during which they were all together in one trench against President al-Assad, and with the confessions of Hamad bin Jassem, who is still whining because “the prey escaped from them.” and catching it again needs more than a miracle!


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Denote

إردوغان و”إسرائيل”.. من المصالحة إلى التحالف العسكري؟

حسني محلي 

المصدر: الميادين نت

2022  الاثين 18 نيسان

ينتظر أن يزور خلوصي أكار “تل أبيب” خلال الأيام القليلة المقبلة، يليه زيارة رجب طيب إردوغان.

العلاقات التركية – الإسرائيلية يُتوقّع أن تشهد قفزة نوعية بعد الزيارة التي سيقوم بها إردوغان إلى تل أبيب.

بعيداً عن اهتمامات الإعلام التركي والعربي والدولي، تشهد العلاقات التركية مع الكيان الصهيوني تطورات مثيرة قد تجعل من تل أبيب حليفاً عسكرياً استراتيجياً لأنقرة التي يبدو واضحاً أنها تستعد لمثل هذه المرحلة الجديدة، داخلياً وخارجياً. فقد أعلن وزير الخارجية مولود جاويش أوغلو (14 نيسان/ أبريل) أنه سيزور تل أبيب قريباً جداً، ومعه وزير الدفاع خلوصي أكار، بدلاً من وزير الطاقة الذي كان عليه أن يبحث مع المسؤولين الإسرائيليين تفاصيل التنسيق والتعاون المشترك لنقل الغاز الإسرائيلي والقبرصي والمصري إلى تركيا، ومنها الى أوروبا، وهو الموضوع الذي قيل إنه يحظى بدعم أميركي، كما هي الحال بالنسبة إلى مشروع نقل غاز كردستان العراق إلى تركيا ومنها إلى أوروبا، بتنسيق تركي-إسرائيلي مشترك. ويفسّر ذلك الزيارات المتتالية التي قام بها رئيس إقليم كردستان العراق نيجيرفان برزاني ورئيس حكومة الإقليم مسرور برزاني إلى أنقرة خلال الشهرين الماضيين فقط، وتمّ خلالها أيضاً مناقشة الدور التركي في تأليف الحكومة العراقية الجديدة.  

وعودة إلى زيارة وزير الدفاع خلوصي أكار، والتي من المتوقع لها أن تكون خلال الأيام القليلة المقبلة، وستلحق بها زيارة الرئيس إردوغان إلى تل أبيب، فلا بد من التذكير بالاتفاقية التي سبق أن تمّ التوقيع عليها بين الطرفين في العام 1995-1996. وكان حينها الإسلامي نجم الدين أربكان رئيساً للحكومة، واتفق مع تل أبيب على تحديث طائرات أف-5 وأف-16 ومعها دبابات أم-60 التركية، مقابل المليارات من الدولارات. كما لا بد من التذكير بشراء تركيا (2005) لمجموعة من الطائرات المسيّرة الإسرائيلية، واستخدمتها ضد مسلحي حزب العمال الكردستاني جنوب شرق البلاد وفي شمال العراق. وجاءت موافقة أنقرة (أواسط 2011) على القاعدة الأميركية جنوب شرق البلاد قرب مدينة مالاطيا، في إطار المساعي التركية لتطوير علاقاتها مع تل أبيب. وكانت مهمة هذه القاعدة هي رصد التحركات العسكرية الإيرانية، وإبلاغ تل أبيب بأي صواريخ إيرانية قد تستهدفها حتى يتسنّى للقبة الحديدية التصدي لها قبل دخول الأجواء الإسرائيلية. 

الفتور والتوتر اللذين عانت منهما العلاقات التركية – الإسرائيلية خلال السنوات الأخيرة، لم يمنعا أنقرة من تطوير علاقاتها الاقتصادية والتجارية التي حققت أرقاماً قياسية لا تتناسب مع مقولات الرئيس إردوغان ضد “إسرائيل”. ولكنها تتفق مع الموقف التركي المتناقض، حيث لم تستخدم أنقرة حق الفيتو ضد انضمام “إسرائيل” إلى منظمة التعاون الاقتصادي والتنمية OECD (أيار/ مايو 2010) وانضمامها بصفة مراقب إلى الحلف الأطلسي (أيار/ مايو 2016). 

التناقضات التركية في العلاقة مع تل أبيب بما في ذلك إغلاق ملف سفينة مرمرة (كما هي الحال في إغلاق ملف خاشقجي) يشبّهها البعض بتناقضات السلطان عبد الحميد الذي قيل عنه إنه لم يتنازل عن فلسطين لليهود في الوقت الذي تثبت فيه الوثائق التاريخية عكس ذلك، حيث قدّم الكثير من التسهيلات لليهود للهجرة إلى فلسطين وشراء الأراضي وبناء المستوطنات فيها. 

مع التذكير أيضاً بتلاقي الأهداف التركية والإسرائيلية في سوريا، حيث دعمت أنقرة الفصائل المسلحة التي تقاتل ضد دمشق في الشمال، وكانت تل أبيب تفعل ذلك في الجنوب بدعم من الأردن ودول الخليج، كما هي الحال للوضع على الحدود مع تركيا، وباعتراف حمد بن جاسم. 

زيارة جاويش أوغلو وأكار التي تهدف إلى تحقيق التوازن في علاقات أنقرة مع تل أبيب ودول المنطقة الأخرى بعد المصالحة مع الرياض والقاهرة (سامح شكري سيزور تركيا قريباً) يريد لها الرئيس إردوغان أن تبعد تل أبيب عن نيقوسيا وأثينا، وسبق لهذه الدول الثلاث أن وقّعت على العديد من اتفاقيات التعاون العسكري والأمني والاستخباري، وكان ذلك تارة برضى ودعم مصريين وأخرى إماراتي وسعودي، في الوقت الذي ستسعى فيه أنقرة خلال الزيارة إلى إقناع تل أبيب بأن لا تعترض على بيع طائرات أف-35 الأميركية لتركيا، بعد اتفاق الطرفين التركي والأميركي حول قضية صواريخ أس-400 الروسية التي اشترتها أنقرة من موسكو قبل عامين، من دون أن تقوم بتفعيلها بعد ردّ الفعل الأميركي. 

العلاقات التركية – الإسرائيلية التي يُتوقّع لها أن تشهد قفزة نوعية بعد الزيارة التي سيقوم بها إردوغان إلى تل أبيب، يسعى الطرفان إلى دعمها في شتى المجالات، بما فيها تبادل الزيارات الاستخبارية والإعلامية والأكاديمية ورجال الأعمال، بل وحتى الوفود الدينية في إطار ما يُسمّى حوار الأديان والحضارات المدعوم أيضاً من الإمارات، الطرف الثالث في الحوار والتنسيق، ولاحقاً التحالف التركي – الإسرائيلي. 

ويفسّر ذلك وصف إردوغان لما قام به الشباب الفلسطيني بالعمل الإرهابي، ومن دون أن يقول ذلك بحق عمليات القتل والإجرام التي يقوم بها الجيش والأمن الإسرائيليّان يومياً ضدَّ الفلسطينيين داخل المسجد الأقصى. واعتبر ذلك إبراهيم كالين، المتحدث باسم إردوغان، “خطاً أحمر بالنسبة إلى تركيا”، ناسياً أن أنقرة قد نسيت وتناست كل خطوطها الحمر، عندما سلكت كل الطرق والوسائل من أجل مصالحة تل أبيب، بما في ذلك لقاء إردوغان مع حاخامات اليهود. والأغرب من كل ذلك، أن بعض الدول العربية التي تجرّأت وأصدرت بيانات “الاستنكار” لِما قامت به تل أبيب داخل المسجد الأقصى، رجّحت الحديث عن “استخدام مفرط للعنف بحق الفلسطينيين”، كما ورد ذلك في بيان الخارجية العراقية، وتتوقع لها تل أبيب أن تكون البلد العربي الجديد في مسلسل التطبيع، بعد تسلّم جماعة مقتدى الصدر وحلفائه السلطة في بغداد. وهو الاحتمال الذي يجعل من التنسيق والتعاون والتحالف المحتمل بين تل أبيب وأنقرة أكثر أهمية في حال فشل المساعي الإقليمية والدولية لإعادة ترتيب أمور المنطقة، قبل أو بعد الاتفاق النووي مع إيران، ولذلك علاقة بالتطورات المحتملة في الحرب الأوكرانية. فالدور الإسرائيلي في هذه الحرب لا يختلف كثيراً عن الدور التركي، ما دامت لأنقرة وتل أبيب علاقات وطيدة جداً بكييف في جميع المجالات، والأهم العسكرية والاستخبارية، وهو ما قد يتطلب حواراً وتنسيقاً تركيين -إسرائيليين ينعكسان بنتائجهما المستقبلية المحتملة على موازين القوى في المنطقة، وخاصة إذا فشلت المساعي الإقليمية والدولية في إبعاد إيران عن الحدود مع “إسرائيل” سواء كان ذلك في سوريا ولبنان أم عبر باب المندب الاستراتيجي بالنسبة إلى تل أبيب.

ويبدو أنها تستذكر مقولات مؤسّسها بن غوريون الذي قال: “إسرائيل بحاجة إلى ثلاث رئات تتنفس عبرها الأكسجين في محيطها العربي المعادي، وهي تركيا وإثيوبيا وإيران”.

وبخسارة الأخيرة ترى في كسب الأولى والثانية قضية وجودية، منذ أن اعترفتا بكيانها فور قيامه فوراً، واحتفظتا دائماً معه بعلاقات علنية وسرية، مهما كانت شعارات حكامها المتناقضة، كما هي الحال في علاقات أنقرة بحماس، وضَحّت بها بين ليلة وضحاها من أجل الحليف الجديد! 

إن الآراء المذكورة في هذه المقالة لا تعبّر بالضرورة عن رأي الميادين وإنما تعبّر عن رأي صاحبها حصراً

تونس ليست إيالة عثمانية يا إردوغان

الثلاثاء 12 نيسان 2022

المصدر: الميادين نت

خالد البوهالي 

يرى إردوغان أن هزيمة حزب “النهضة” في الانتخابات التشريعية، في حال إجرائها، ستكون ضربةً قاصمةً للنفوذ التركي في تونس.

تونس ليست إيالة عثمانية يا إردوغان

أثارت تصريحات الرئيس التركي رجب طيب إردوغان بخصوص حل البرلمان التونسي والدعوة إلى انتخابات جديدة حفيظة الرئيس التونسي قيس سعيد، ما جعله يرد بشكل عاجل عليه بأن تونس ليست إيالة عثمانية، في حين استدعت وزارة الشؤون الخارجية التونسية السفير التركي المعتمد لديها، وسلمته مذكّرة احتجاجٍ عبرت فيها عن رفضها التدخل في الشؤون الداخلية التونسية، واتصل وزير الخارجية التونسي بنظيره التركي من أجل الموضوع نفسه.

وقد ذكر بيان وزارة الشؤون الخارجية التونسية أن “تونس بقدر التزامها بثوابت سياستها الخارجية وحرصها على بناء علاقة وثيقة مع الدول الشقيقة والصديقة، قوامها التعاون والتضامن والتشاور والثقة المتبادلة، فإنها أيضاً تتمسك باستقلال قرارها الوطني، وترفض بشدة كل محاولة للتدخل في سيادتها وخيارات شعبها أو التشكيك في مسارها الديمقراطي الذي لا رجعة فيه”.

أولاً، ينبغي التأكيد أن من حق القيادة التونسية، سواء اتفق البعض أو اختلف معها، تقديم مذكرة احتجاج على تركيا، لأن مثل هذه التصريحات غير المسؤولة التي أطلقتها الحكومة التركية يعدّ تدخلاً سافراً في شؤون دولةٍ مستقلةٍ ذات سيادة، وبالتالي إنّ رد فعلها يبقى مسألة مفروغة منها، لأنها الجهة المخولة اتخاذ ما تراه مناسباً من القرارات التي تراها تصب في مصلحة البلاد، ولأن هذا الأمر لا يخص سوى الشعب التونسي وحده، الذي يملك حق اتخاذ المتعين من دون تدخلٍ أو تأثيرٍ من أية جهاتٍ خارجيةٍ في ما يخص مستقبله السياسي، وهو ما تكفله له المواثيق والأعراف الدولية.

منذ اندلاع ما سُمي بأحداث “الربيع العربي”، لم يتورع الرئيس إردوغان المهووس والمسكون بتحقيق حلم الخلافة العثمانية البائدة عن التدخل بشتى الوسائل في الشؤون الداخلية للدول الإسلامية والعربية، سواء في منطقة الشرق الأوسط أو شمال أفريقيا، كما لو أنها ما زالت تشكل جزءاً من الإمبراطورية العثمانية التي ترامت أطرافها بين أوروبا وشمال أفريقيا.

سعت تركيا منذ اندلاع الثورة التونسية في العام 2011، التي أطاحت حكم الرئيس التونسي الراحل زين العابدين بن علي، إلى دعمها بكل الوسائل المادية واللوجستية، لمعرفتها المسبقة بأن المنطقة الإسلامية والعربية مقبلة على تحولات دراماتيكية تمس المشهد السياسي وتصب في مصلحة تيار الإسلام السياسي الذي يشكل حزب العدالة والتنمية التركي أحد روافده.

وقد سهل وجود حزب “النهضة” التونسي في سدة الحكم، توسيع مجال النفوذ السياسي والاقتصادي لتركيا إدوغان -بسبب وحدة الأيديولوجيا التي تربط بين الحزبين- من خلال الاستثمارات التركية والمبادلات التجارية بين البلدين، التي لم تكن متكافئة بين الطرفين التونسي والتركي، إذ تميل كفتها لمصلحة الأخير، بسبب رفع الصادرات التركية نحو تونس، من دون رفع صادرات الأخيرة نحو تركيا.

 وصول عجز الميزان التجاري إلى حوالى مليار دولار بين تونس وتركيا شكل عبئاً كبيراً على الاقتصاد التونسي الذي يعاني أزمات عدة، ما دفع السلطات التونسية مؤخراً إلى مراجعة كل الاتفاقيات التجارية المبرمة مع أنقرة. 

كما أن البرلمان التونسي صوت قبل سنتين على مشروع قانون ينص على فرض رسوم جمركية على 90% من السلع والبضائع التركية، ما أثار غضب نواب حركة “النهضة” التي رفضت هذا الإجراء، وانسحبت فور بدء عملية التصويت عليه، إرضاء للحليف التركي.

ويبدو أن الدافع الحقيقي وراء تصريحات الرئيس التركي تجاه تونس هو توجسه من خسارة حزب “النهضة” التونسي الانتخابات التشريعية المقبلة، وبالتالي تقهقره في المشهد السياسي التونسي، بعد أن تداعت إحدى قلاع الإسلام السياسي المتمثلة بحزب العدالة والتنمية المغربي الذي يتزعمه الأمين العام الحالي عبد الإله بن كيران، الذي مني بخسارةٍ فادحةٍ في الانتخابات التشريعية التي نظمت في أيلول/سبتمبر من العام الماضي، في ضربة جديدة لأحلام إردوغان الذي كان يمنّي النفس بحكم حزام إخواني يمتد من سوريا، مروراً بمصر، إلى دول الاتحاد المغاربي، بدعم ومساندة من التنظيم الدولي للإخوان المسلمين.

وتأسيساً على ذلك، يرى إردوغان أن هزيمة حزب “النهضة” في الانتخابات التشريعية، في حال إجرائها، ستكون ضربةً قاصمةً للنفوذ التركي في تونس، وبالتالي تقويض بنيان ما بناه الرئيس التركي طيلة سنواتٍ بتحالفٍ مع صديقه زعيم حركة “النهضة” راشد الغنوشي، الذي يرعى المصالح التركية في تونس، لأن انحسار حضور الأخير يعني عملياً تراجع، إن لم يكن أفول، نجم التأثير السياسي والاقتصادي التركي في تونس، ونهاية أحلام إردوغان في بسط سيطرته على الدول التي كانت واقعة تحت الحكم العثماني.

زد على ذلك، أن الرئيس التركي، ورغم كل ما يشهده من أزمة داخلية بسبب سياساته، يفتعل أزمة خارجية لصرف أنظار الرأي العام التركي عن الداخل. هذا السلوك إن دل على شيء، إنما يدل على أن الرئيس إردوغان أضحى يعيش أسوأ حياته السياسية.

لا شك في أن القرارات التي اتخذها الرئيس التونسي قيس سعيد منذ 25 يونيو/تمور 2021، من قبيل تجميد عمل البرلمان لمدة 30 يوماً، وإقالة رئيس الحكومة هشام المشيشي حليف حزب “النهضة”، طبقاً للمادة 80 من الدستور التونسي، إضافةً إلى العديد من الإجراءات الأخرى المصاحبة لها، أطاحت طموحات إردوغان.

ختاماً، إن الرئيس التركي رجب طيب إردوغان لم يستوعب بعد حقيقة أن عهد وصاية الباب العالي وحكم الدايات والبايات والإيالات ولى إلى غير رجعة، وأن عقارب التاريخ لا يمكن إرجاعها إلى الوراء، لأن الشعب التونسي ليس قاصراً، وهو قادر على قيادة سفينة بلاده نحو بر الأمان، من دون تدخل جهات خارجية تملي عليه ما يجب أن يفعله. لذا، يمكن القول إن تونس ليست إيالة عثمانية يا إردوغان.

إن الآراء المذكورة في هذه المقالة لا تعبّر بالضرورة عن رأي الميادين وإنما تعبّر عن رأي صاحبها حصراً

مردوا على النفاق

نيسان 11 2022

المصدر: الميادين.نت

بثينة شعبان 

إن تاريخ الاستعمار العثماني لبلادنا وعداءهم للعرب وأطماعهم بضم أراضينا وتواطأهم مع الصهاينة واضح للعيان بشكل يثير الشكوك بأصول حكامهم المشبوهة.

الغريب أن هناك بعض العرب ما زالوا يصدّقون أكاذيب إردوغان التي تدعي الدفاع عن الإسلام

حين قام الرئيس قيس سعيد باتخاذ قراراته الجريئة في 25 تموز/يوليو 2021 كتبت زاوية بعنوان “أول الغيث قطرة” آملة أن يكون هذا التحرك هو الإشارة الأكيدة لاجتثاث ما تبقى من التراث الدموي لعصابة الإخوان المسلمين من الوطن العربي بعد أن أسستها المخابرات البريطانية وفق نظريتهم الاستعمارية “فرّق تسد”، وبعد أن فشلوا في مصر وسورية وتوضح دورهم كأداة تخدم المصالح الإسرائيلية ضد العرب، ولذلك اتخذت دول عربية عديدة إجراءات حازمة ضدهم. وفي الأيام الأخيرة، وبعد أن أخذ الغنوشي يحاول عرقلة خطوات الرئيس قيس سعيد اتخذ الرئيس سعيد قراراً بحلّ البرلمان وحينها لم يعد زعيم عصابة الإخوان المسلمين العميلة في المنطقة “إردوغان” قادراً على التزام الصمت فانبرى يتدخل في الشؤون الداخلية لتونس حيث قال: “إن التطورات في تونس تشويه للديمقراطية وحل البرلمان الذي لا يوجد فيه مسؤولون منتخبون مدعاة للقلق على مستقبل تونس وضربة لإرادة شعبها.” 

من الواضح أن خطوات الرئيس قيس سعيد قد أثارت حنق الرئيس التركي رجب طيب إردوغان الذي مازال يمارس النفاق مع كل الأطراف الإقليمية والدولية وهو في حقيقته لا يتعدى كونه زعيم مشروع إسرائيلي يستخدم الإخوان المسلمين كأداة إرهابية ضمن مخطط مجهز من قبل المخابرات الإسرائيلية وبدعم من المخابرات الغربية المعادية للعرب، وإردوغان هذا مجرد طاغية وعثماني جديد يعيد مسيرة أجداده من سلاطين الظلم والتجهيل، ودوره واضح في التواطؤ مع الصهاينة ضد فلسطين وشعبها سابقاً ولاحقاً، وهو الذي يقوم جيشه باحتلال أجزاء من سورية والعراق، وهو من درب وسلح وأرسل مئات الألوف من الإرهابيين لقتل وتهجير الملايين من السوريين والعراقيين في تناغم لا يطاله الشك مع مخططات الحركة الصهيونية في المنطقة وإلحاق بالغ الأذى بالعرب والوطن العربي تاريخاً وثقافة وحضارة وحاضراً ومستقبلاً. 

والغريب أن هناك بعض العرب ما زالوا يصدّقون أكاذيب إردوغان التي تدعي الدفاع عن الإسلام أو التعاضد مع جيرانه العرب تماماً كما صدقوا وتوارثوا الكذبة التاريخية المماثلة أن الاحتلال العثماني للأمة العربية كان فتحاً إسلامياً وخلافة إسلامية، وهناك من يصدّق الدعاية التي تروجها المخابرات التركية بأن السلطان عبد الحميد قد رفض الموافقة على إعطاء أرض فلسطين كوطن قومي لليهود، وكثيرون بين ظهرانينا ما زالوا يؤمنون بصحة ذلك حتى هذا اليوم رغم أن الوقائع التاريخية الدقيقة تثبت أن التواطؤ العثماني كان أساسياً وهاماً في تمكين الصهاينة من الاستيطان في فلسطين.

ورغم كل مناورات وفرمانات السلطان عبد الحميد والتي تشبه إلى حد بعيد كل مراوغات ونفاق إردوغان في العقدين الأخيرين فإن الحقيقة التاريخية هي أن السلطان عبد الحميد لعب دوراً فاعلاً في الهجرة اليهودية إلى فلسطين وتنامي المستوطنات، وقد بدأت هذه العلاقة بين السلطنة العثمانية والصهاينة من السلطان العثماني عبد المجيد الأول الذي وقع اتفاقاً عام 1840 مع موسى مونتيفوري بمعاونة هنري جون تيمبل رئيس وزراء بريطانيا يقضي بمنح اليهود امتيازات داخل فلسطين وفي كل أرجاء الدولة العثمانية حيث شكّل هذا الاتفاق بداية سرطان الاستيطان  الصهيوني الذي سرى في جسد فلسطين وبدأ يأخذ الشرعية بفرمانات السلاطين المتلاحقة إلى أن جاء عهد عبد الحميد الثاني سنة 1876، ومع عصره بدأ سرطانهم يتوحش ويأخذ أبعاده على أرض فلسطين كلها بدعم من الدول الاستعمارية الغربية.

فقد كانت علاقة السلطان عبد الحميد الثاني وطيدة جداً مع زعيم الحركة الصهيونية العالمية تيودور هرتزل تماماً كعلاقة إردوغان بالصهاينة اليوم، ورغم التحايل من أجل عدم كشف الدعم الحقيقي الذي قدمه للحركة الصهيونية إلا أن الوقائع تثبت عدد وأسماء المستوطنات الصهيونية التي بنيت على أرض فلسطين خلال فترة حكمه من عام 1876-1909. فخلال فترة حكم السلطان عبد الحميد الثاني أسس اليهود ثلاثاً وثلاثين مستوطنة على أرض فلسطين واستحوذوا على مئات الآلاف من الدونمات من أرض فلسطين وقاموا بتهجير عشرات الآلاف من يهود أوروبا إلى فلسطين، وقد تم تأسيس الكثير من هذه المستعمرات في وقت ادّعت فيه الدولة العثمانية أنها شددت من إجراءاتها لمنع دخول اليهود! بل واعترفت الدولة العثمانية بوجود المستعمرات وهو ما سمح للبارون روتشيلد بتسجيل الأراضي التي اشتراها باسمه وسمحت لليهود بشراء الأراضي، فقد كان عدد اليهود في فلسطين عام 1882 أربع وعشرين ألفاً فقط بينما وصل في نهاية القرن التاسع عشر إلى خمسين ألفاً وفي عام 1908 إلى 80 ألفاً أي نحو ثلاثة أضعاف ما كان عددهم عام 1882 .

إن تاريخ الاستعمار العثماني لبلادنا وعداءهم للعرب وأطماعهم بضم أراضينا وتواطأهم مع الصهاينة للسماح لهم بالهجرة والاستيطان في فلسطين العربية واضح للعيان بشكل يثير الشكوك بأصول حكامهم المشبوهة بينما يحاول عملاؤهم من الإخوان بدفع من المخابرات التركية أن يبرّؤوا العثمانيين من هذه الجريمة التاريخية من خلال تلاعبهم بالفرمانات والسرديات والتصريحات ويعتبر أنموذجاً يتبعه إردوغان منذ توليه الحكم في تركيا وتحركاته البهلوانية من سفينة مرمرة إلى كل التصريحات الكاذبة التي يطلقها دعماً للفلسطينيين بينما تتوطد علاقته المخابراتية والعسكرية والاقتصادية بشكل لا لبس فيه مع الكيان الغاصب ويبلغ حجم تبادله التجاري مع هذا الكيان مليارات الدولارات بينما لم يقدم دعماً واحداً للقضية الفلسطينية العادلة سوى التصريحات الكاذبة والمنافقة والتي تهدف إلى التضليل وذرّ الرماد في العيون، بينما يحتل الأرض العربية في سورية والعراق ويشيد القواعد العسكرية في قطر وغيرها تهديداً للدول العربية وشقاً لصفوفها.

إن احتلاله لأجزاء من الأراضي السورية والعراقية وتدخله الخبيث في ليبيا واليوم تطاوله بالتدخل في الشأن الداخلي التونسي كما تدخل في الصراع في ناغورني كاراباخ ضد إيران وفي أوكرانيا ضد روسيا، كل هذا كفيل بتعرية نفاقه واتضاح صورته أمام العالم برمته وخاصة أمام العرب في مختلف أقطارهم وأمام الحليف الروسي الذي أسقط عدداً من طائرات بيرقدار التي أرسلها أردوغان إلى حكومة أوكرانيا لقتال روسيا.

إن الله سبحانه وتعالى وضع المنافقين في الدرك الأسفل من النار لأنهم أخطر من الكافرين، وفي كل عقاب يتقدم المنافقون على الكافرين لأنهم الأخطر على حياة البشر وجميع مناحي حياتهم فكيف إذا كانوا قد مردوا على النفاق باسم الإسلام ماضياً وحاضراً وأتقنوا التلاعب بأدواته لتحقيق أهدافهم الخبيثة.

إن الآراء المذكورة في هذه المقالة لا تعبّر بالضرورة عن رأي الميادين وإنما تعبّر عن رأي صاحبها حصراً

Can Israel Exist without America: Numbers Speaks of a Changing Reality

April 6, 2022

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L) with US President Joe Biden. (Photo: Video grab, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Ramzy Baroud

When Russian and Ukrainian delegations meeting in Turkey on March 29 reached an initial understanding regarding a list of countries that could serve as security guarantors for Kyiv should an agreement be struck, Israel appeared on the list. The other countries included the US, the UK, China, Russia, France, Turkey, Germany, Canada, Italy and Poland.

One may explain Israel’s political significance to the Russian-Ukrainian talks based on Tel Aviv’s strong ties with Kyiv, as opposed to Russia’s trust in Israel. This is insufficient to rationalize how Israel has managed to acquire relevance in an international conflict, arguably the most serious since World War II.

Immediately following the start of the war, Israeli officials began to circumnavigate the globe, shuttling between many countries that are directly or even nominally involved in the conflict. Israeli President Isaac Herzog flew to Istanbul to meet with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The outcome of this meeting could usher in “a turning point in relations between Turkey and Israel,” Erdogan said.

Though “Israel is proceeding cautiously with Turkey,” Lavan Karkov wrote in the Jerusalem Post, Herzog hopes that “his meeting with .. Erdogan is starting a positive process toward improved relations.” The ‘improved relations’ are not concerned with the fate of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation and siege, but with a gas pipeline connecting Israel’s Leviathan offshore gas field in the eastern Mediterranean, to southern Europe via Turkey.

This project will improve Israel’s geopolitical status in the Middle East and Europe. The political leverage of being a primary gas supplier to Europe would allow Israel even stronger influence over the continent and will certainly tone down any future criticism of Tel Aviv by Ankara.

That was only one of many such Israeli overtures. Tel Aviv’s diplomatic flurry included a top-level meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, and a succession of visits by top EuropeanAmericanArab and other officials to Israel.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in Israel on March 26 and was expected to put some pressure on Israel to join the US-led western sanctions on Russia. Little of that has transpired. The greatest rebuke came from Under-Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, when, on March 11, she called on Israel not to become “the last haven for dirty money that’s fueling Putin’s wars”.

For years, Israel had hoped to free itself from its disproportionate reliance on Washington. This dependency took on many forms: financial and military assistance, political backing, diplomatic cover and more. According to Chuck Freilich, writing in Newsweek, “by the end of the ten-year military-aid package .. agreed (between Washington and Tel Aviv) for 2019-28, the total figure (of US aid to Israel) will be nearly $170bn.”

Many Palestinians and others believe that, if the US ceases to support Israel, the latter would simply collapse. However, this might not be the case, at least not in theory. Writing in March 2021 in the New York Times, Max Fisher estimated that US aid to Israel in 1981 “was equivalent to almost 10 percent of Israel’s economy,” while in 2020, the nearly $4 billion of US aid was “closer to 1 percent.”

Still, this 1 percent is vital for Israel, as much of the funds are funneled to the Israeli military which, in turn, converts them to weapons that are routinely used against Palestinians and other Arab countries. Israeli military technology of today is far more developed than it was 40 years ago. Figures by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) place Israel as the world’s eighth-largest military exporter between 2016-2020, with an estimated export value of $8.3 billion in 2020 alone. These numbers continue to grow as Israeli military hardware is increasingly incorporated into many security apparatuses across the world, including the US, the EU and also in the Global South.

Much of this discussion is rooted in a document from 1996, entitled: “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”. The document was authored by Richard Perle, former US Assistant Secretary of Defense, jointly with top leaders in the neoconservative movement in Washington. The target audience of that research was none other than Benjamin Netanyahu, who was then the newly-elected Israeli Prime Minister.

Aside from the document’s detailed instructions on how Israel can use some of its Arab neighbors, in addition to Turkey, to weaken and ‘roll back’ hostile governments, it also made significant references to future relations Tel Aviv should aspire to develop with Washington.

Perle urged Israel to “make a clean break from the past and establish a new vision for the U.S.-Israeli partnership based on self-reliance, maturity and mutuality – not one focused narrowly on territorial disputes.” This new, ‘self-reliant Israel’ “does not need U.S. troops in any capacity to defend it.” Ultimately, such self-reliance “will grant Israel greater freedom of action and remove a significant lever of pressure used against it in the past.”

An example is Israel’s relations with China. In 2013, Washington was outraged when Israel sold secret missile and electro-optic US technology to China. Quickly, Tel Aviv was forced to retreat. The controversy subsided when the head of defense experts at the Israeli Defense Ministry was removed. Eight years on, despite US protests and demands that Israel must not allow China to operate the Israeli Haifa port due to Washington’s security concerns, the port was officially initiated in September 2021.

Israel’s regional and international strategy seems to be advancing in multiple directions, some of them directly opposing those of Washington. Yet, thanks to continued Israeli influence in the US Congress, Washington does little to hold Israel accountable. Meanwhile, now that Israel is fully aware that the US has changed its political attitude in the Middle East and is moving in the direction of the Pacific region and Eastern Europe, Tel Aviv’s ‘clean break’ strategy is moving faster than ever before. However, this comes with risks. Though Israel is stronger now, its neighbors are also getting stronger.

Hence, it is critical that Palestinians understand that Israel’s survival is no longer linked to the US, at least not as intrinsically as in the past. Therefore, the fight against Israeli occupation and apartheid can no longer be disproportionately focused on breaking up the ‘special relationship’ that united Tel Aviv and Washington for over 50 years. Israel’s ‘independence’ from the US entails risks and opportunities that must be considered in the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

Sitrep: Operation Z

April 03, 2022

Source

By Nighvision

I decided to do an unscheduled update because we’re in the midst of a falseflag, which many have predicted. It’s already being called the new ‘Sbrenica Massacre’ in the western media with all the usual fully coordinated text-book Media-Intelligence-Military-Corporate-Industrial-Complex scripted execution where every attendant arm is firing on all cylinders to project the new narrative in order to predictably call for large-scale escalation. The official wiki entry has already been penned of course with the usual unresearched speculation and propaganda presented as fact.

Meanwhile the media arm of the cabal is already in full swing on a war footing calling for NATO intervention:

Expectedly, most MSM’s frontpages, including that of FOXNEWS, is covered with this new ‘atrocity’.

This video is a must-see that neatly presents the currently known evidence being passed around in the resistance sphere into one convenient presentation which appears to prove that the Ukrainian army in fact executed Russian sympathizers with white armbands in Bucha and tried to pass them off as Russian genocide. Of course this is only part of the picture, as there are many other bodies discovered beyond the ones shown in the video, particularly in the ‘mass grave’ currently being shown all over twitter that shows civilians covered in dirt, dug up from the ground. But the above video very strongly points the finger in the Ukrainian direction.

And after all, hasn’t it been Russia that has repeatedly been proven right in every single such high profile atrocity/accusation so far? For instance when the Russian POW torture video came out, it was Ukraine that cried “fake” until days later all western ‘authorities’ were forced to admit it was real. When the ‘maternity hospital’ falseflag in Mariupol occurred, Kiev supporters blamed Russia and once again Russia was the one proven right and vindicated when the pregnant girl at the center of it herself released an interview completely refuting Ukr lies, and stating that not only did Ukr soldiers turn the hospital into a barracks but stole the precious food from pregnant women and then shelled the hospital themselves. And much earlier, when Ukr claimed Russia bombed an ‘innocent’ civilian mall, yet the very next moment the Russian MOD released detailed videos showing precisely how Ukrop forces positioned mobile artillery in the parking garage of the said ‘mall’. When Ukrops claimed Russia tried to blow up the Zaporizhzhia plant, yet security footage showed that as a Russian security force arrived, it was fired upon by an RPG from Ukrop positions in one of the administrative buildings of the plant. Or when the famed American journalist was killed in Irpin right outside Kiev a month ago, and all Ukr supporters shouted Russia, but the entire incident was quickly swept under the rug when the journalist’s own friend/companion in an interview stated they were fired upon by Ukrop troops at a Ukrop checkpoint miles away from the nearest Russian forces. So the track record shows over and over that these incidents are invariably revealed as Ukrainian lies and this new provocation is clearly another in a long line.

Now let’s look at a few updates from the economic front while we’re at it. Europe is suffering badly.

And western media is forced to admit that Russia is actually making a killing with current skyrocketing oil/gas prices and the redeemed Ruble. They’re now saying that if things continue the way they’re going, Russia will reap an EXTRA $321 billion economic profit this year compared to last year.

Meanwhile Germany’s inflation is reaching historic levels.

https://sputniknews.com/20220403/ruble-payment-scheme-russia-uses-with-gas-will-be-extended-to-new-groups-of-goods-in-future—1094440515.html

Meanwhile Russia announces that the Ruble payment scheme may soon be extended for other valuable commodities which could cripple Europe and the U.S. Particularly, as some have opined, if Russia switches to pricing commodities it has a large global monopoly on in Rubles, it will be a huge shock and gamechanger; things like wheat, palladium and other precious metals, etc.

Already 3 countries so far have accepted paying Rubles for gas including Slovakia.

As for the important situation in the ‘civil aviation’ field, which is one of the few areas the west truly was able to arguably hurt Russia, there are new big developments:

“On March 31, a twice adjourned meeting with the President of the Russian Federation took place.
Dry squeeze solutions:
– foreign aircraft will not be given to lessors
– they will fly in Russia and cover the domestic flight network
– all of them were forcibly transferred to the Russian registry (currently – approx. 800 liners)
– and reinsured by Russian insurers
– a solution for spare parts and maintenance has been found, but it is not publicly announced
– in the long term, a bet was made on our own aircraft production
– MS-21 is shifted by 1-2 years “to the right” (due to additional import substitution)
– Rostec promises up to 500 aircraft of “large” models by 2030.
– in the medium term, mass production of the Tu-214 and Il-96-400 will begin, this is already in 2022-23.
– the “air cashback” program was launched (i.e. compensation of part of the cost of air tickets on domestic flights. Financing will be allocated in the amount of 100 billion rubles)

More details here:
https://www.atorus.ru/news/press-center/new/59403.html

So in short, 800 airliners worth billions were officially transferred to the Russian registry (i.e. seized), they have been fully re-insured by Russian insurance companies. The big problem everyone spoke of was how would Russia obtain spare parts as western countries would block any spare parts delivery and experts estimated this would result in these planes only being usable for weeks. Some hypothesized India or China would help in this regard but the announcement here states that a solution was found, but they won’t disclose what it is.

In short, it sounds like Russia is on top of this problem and will not allow it to become a major weak point or source of defeat by the sanctions.

Also, another big point many have discussed and questioned why Russia has not allowed volunteers from RF to go to Ukraine to fill the much needed ranks. Well now it appears Russia has finally opened up enlistment to volunteers according to this report from Telegram.

“⚡Russian volunteers go to Ukraine – sending every three days

Russian military registration and enlistment offices began recruiting volunteers with their subsequent dispatch to Ukraine to participate in a special operation. This was announced by the war correspondent of the All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company Alexander Sladkov.

According to the military correspondent, only sergeants are recruited to participate in the special operation (the rest of those who wish, I think, can be clarified there)

The service will be formalized by a contract, the allowance will be 205 thousand rubles a month.

Three million rubles will be paid to the injured for the injury.

The family of the deceased volunteer will receive 8 million rubles from the federal government and five million rubles from the governor of the region. In addition, the children of the deceased soldier will receive an apartment (this provision still applies to residents of the Moscow region).

Volunteers go to Ukraine every three days, the military commander said.

Recall that Oleg Tsarev, who was on the territory of Ukraine from its first days, was the first to speak about the need to attract volunteers to participate in the special operation. On March 24, he said that the military department of the Russian Federation brought the corresponding order to the military registration and enlistment offices.”

Russian armor reinforcements continues to pour into Belarus and areas of Ukraine in preparation for Phase 2 that will likely begin after the fall of Mariupol. https://twitter.com/GirkinGirkin/status/1509931991537491986

Ukraine attempts to desperately bribe Russian servicemen into defecting with their equipment by offering up to $1 million dollars for helicopters, tanks, planes turned over to Ukr authorities, which would presumably be paid for by the U.S. taxpayer I’m sure.

https://www.zerohedge.com/military/ukraine-announces-million-dollars-reward-russian-helicopter-fighter-jet-warship

At the same time, particularly in light of the Bucha falseflag, new calls for genocide against Russians are made widely in Ukraine, and ‘pre-genocidal’ language is used openly on social media such as the example here https://twitter.com/olgatokariuk/status/1510341599468863492

The Ukrainian journalist here seems to clearly imply a sort of ‘final solution’ for the ‘Russian society’.

Elsewhere a mayor of Dnipro has also called for Russian citizens to be killed all over the world, wherever they are.

Some quick situational updates on the ground. Some new gains in Mariupol today:

You can see the areas in darker red have been advanced into.

There are good gains in Donbass for both the LPR near Rubizhnoe and DPR who advanced past Verkhnotoretske into Novabakhmutivka. There are several videos of dead Ukrainian servicemen on this advance that I don’t need to post. I will only post ‘gruesome’ videos if there is a very specific significance rather than to merely ‘boast’ about dead enemies.

With that said, there IS a gruesome video from the DPR advance into Marinka, because it is further evidence of Ukr warcrimes which reinforce what the Ukrops are doing against Russian POWs.

Very graphic 18+ watch at your own risk: https://www.bitchute.com/video/Al2EKOQmHlT7/

The video shows DPR troops who, upon advancing further into Marinka, found deceased DPR POWs with obvious signs of torture and abuse. They are bound and some have bullet holes shot through their hands in exactly the way Russian POWs were shot in the knees, legs, and groins. Others appear to have other gruesome injuries that do not appear natural and are more likely the sign of some sort of abuse/torture. But of course you won’t see this on MSM.

In other news, about the 40th Turkish Bayraktar TB2 has been shot down. These Turkish toys no longer pose any problem to Russian forces, and every time a new batch is delivered to Ukraine they are summarily shot down. This heap of scrap is from the 3rd or 4th such batch.

 And by the way when they DO use them, they no longer are able to use them in strike roles at all because it would require (due to their missile’s range) for them to get too close to Russian radars. Instead they have exclusively utilized TB2’s as long distance surveillance. In clear weather, the very good optics of the TB2 (manufactured by Canadian WESCAM) allows it to see 40-60km down the country and can be used for correcting artillery, and in fact was used in such a way on the Kherson airfield strike, where Ukie forces blew up a ton of their own helicopters which Russia captured from them, and then celebrated that ‘Russian helis were destroyed’.

By the way for those that don’t know, an interesting tidbit is that the company responsible for these drones, Bayraktar, is married into the Erdogan family. Many don’t know that Erdogan’s daughter is in fact married to Bayraktar’s head Selcuk Bayraktar. Yes, Erdogan’s own daughter is literally named Sumeyye Erdogan Bayraktar https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sümeyye_Erdoğan

“Sümeyye Erdoğan Bayraktar (born 22 August 1985[2]) is the youngest of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan‘s four children.”

And the Erdogan family thus reaps a major windfall from Bayraktar sales all over the world $$$$ and has a huge interest in this brand.

Speaking of drones, here’s a chart showing the NATO surveillance flightpaths during the course of the entire conflict so far.

 As can be seen NATO is at all times manically circling on every possible inch of border that they’re legally allowed to approach, gathering data to beam to Ukrainian command to assist them in every way possible against Russia.

Most people don’t realize that NATO has integrated fully with Ukraine in such a way and it explains many of the exploits that Ukraine is able to achieve, not only in precision striking on Russian troops but the exceptional awareness of Russian radar coverage areas in order to bypass them such as in the Mariupol evac incident or the Belgorod oil facility strike.

After all, Five Eyes have admitted to fully committing to Ukraine: https://www.rt.com/news/552815-new-zealand-uk-ukraine/

New Zealand even said they would utilize their raw processing power and time zone difference to help Ukraine so that their analysts can be working during the day, feeding info to Ukraine at night, etc.

A wider view:

 In last news for now, Russia has struck a giant oil refinery called Kremenchug that is owned by Kolomoisky, the puppet master of Zelensky. This is a major refinery, possibly the biggest, which I’ve read supplies upwards of 30% of Ukrainian oil. There were arguments days ago on social media, with some opining that Russia still refused to strike this facility due to its economic importance. But after Belgorod was hit, Russia apparently took its gloves off and immediately hit this facility the next day. Though I think only one section with storage tanks was struck, the refinery is a gigantic complex and most of it was spared (for now). So I’m not sure how much of it they took offline apart from millions of gallons of oil in storage tanks.

Then this morning a large refinery in Odessa was also struck, with apparently one foreign journalist already detained and ‘banned’ from Ukraine for 10 years for showing clear footage of the attack. As I mentioned last time, the Ukr authorities are now very serious with their new law prohibiting the dissemination of any Russian attack videos on Ukrainian infrastructure/military etc.

And this is why we’ll likely never see the aftermath of the other strike that occurred, a large Iskander hit on a barracks in Kharkov that was said to house hundreds of new mercenary recruits. Russian MOD says at least 100+ of them were killed and published the drone-view strike video.

I’ll leave you with a couple videos:

We’ve seen tons of videos of DPR fighting so here’s a video of LPR frontlines in Rubizhnoe to give a taste of how the Lugansk fighters do it: https://www.bitchute.com/video/KvWx32nrEjLh

And, an actual illustration of Russian vs. Ukrainian de-mining techniques currently being used:

موسكو تقترب من إعلان النصر وواشنطن تتقهقر الى النقب…!

 الأربعاء 30 آذار 2022

محمد صادق الحسيني

تتسارع الخطى باتجاه إنجاز المهمة الروسية الخاصة في مسرح العمليات في أوكرانيا، بعد نجاح العملية استراتيجياً منذ عبور أول دبابة روسية الحدود باتجاه الدونباس او حوض الدون.

ومن يتابع بدقة كياسة موقف الرئيس الروسي وهو يلاعب مخلب الأطلسيين المراوغ المدعو أردوغان، الذي لم يتغيّر ولن يتغيّر في لعب دور الخادم الإقليمي الأمين لمصالح الأميركان وباعتباره حارس مرمى الناتو الجنوبي، يستطيع القطع بأنّ التخطيط للعملية كان محكماً.

 منذ الأيام الأولى للعملية العسكرية وهو مكلف بدور «الوساطة» بين ما تبقى من سلطات كييف لدى مالكها الأطلسي وبين موسكو التي تتقدّم بخطى ثابتة لإنجاز المهمة حسب الخطة المرسومة.

ولأنّ الأميركي المهزوم على كلّ البوابات المقاومة وعلى أسوار عواصمنا، يتوقع تسارع حركة النهضة الفلسطينية العربية على مشارف شهر رمضان المبارك، وما المؤشرات الخطيرة التي ظهرت من بئر السبع والخضيرة لعمليات نوعية فريدة من نوعها ولم يتبناها أحد إلا «مقبّلات» رمضان وما بعده كما يقول الراسخون في العلم، ولأنّ مفاوضات فيينا جوبهت بالصلابة الإيرانية المتوقعة، ولأنّ اقتحام أسد الشام عرينهم في لحظة ارتباك أميركي صهيوني شديد، فإنّ إدارة بايدن المضطربة والفاقدة للبوصلة والتي عمل اتجاه الرياح العالمية على غير إرادتها، فإنها باتت مضطرة للاعتراف قريباً بالهزيمة في أوكرانيا، من أجل الانتقال الى نسخة صيدلانية جديدة لها في كلّ من فلسطين وآسيا الوسطى والقوقاز.

لذلك هرولت الى فلسطين وهي تنسحب من أوكرانيا متقهقرة، محاولة الظهور بمظهر المنتصر لصالح اليهودي المرتعد خوفاً هذه المرة من الضفة المتراكمة غضباً ومن أراض الـ ٤٨ المتزايدة ثورة، بالإضافة الى غزة بسيفها المسلول، ولبنان المدجّج بالأسلحة الدقيقة والكاسرة للتوازن، فكان أن أشهرت مشروعها المزعوم والذي ستروّج له كثيراً:

«ناتو عربي ضدّ إيران»، وإظهاره وكأنه لحماية الأمن القومي العربي من الاجتياح الإيراني، خاصة إذا ما اضطرت للرضوخ لمطالب طهران بالتوقيع على اتفاق فيينا متجدّد…

فيما هي تقصد «تدافُع المهزومين أمام المقاومة الصاعدة»،

وما اختيارها لبئر السبع مكاناً للمتهالكين، إلا دلالة على ما نقول.

في هذه الأثناء، ولأنها تخاف سقوط العرش الأردني ومديرية رام الله الفلسطينية، بسبب خِسة اليهود وأطماعهم التي لا تجد لها حدوداً، فإنها مضطرة أيضاً لإعادة شدّ العصب في هاتين القوتين من النظام العربي الرسمي المتهافت خوفاً من ثورة قومية عربية تتدافع شرارتها من الداخل الفلسطيني ومن كلّ من سورية والعراق مع مظلة إيرانية دافعة للتغيير في حال قيام الثورة العربية على غرار ما حصل بعد العام ١٩٦٧ في عمّان يوم تجمّعت عوامل النهضة العربية وتبلورت معركة الكرامة الشهيرة .

 من جهة أخرى وهي تقاتل قتالاً تراجعياً وتنسحب القهقرى من أوكرانيا، ستحاول أيضاً تفجير آسيا الوسطى والقوقاز من جديد، موكلة الأمر لحارسها الأمين أردوغان ليتولى إثارة الاضطرابات في كلّ من اذربيجان التي بدأت تخاف واشنطن من قيادته التي بدأت تميل لموسكو ولطهران رويداً رويداً، ومن ثم في اوزباكستان وقرغيزستان وتركمانستان وسائر دول المنطقة على شاكلة ما فعلته في كازاخستان من قبل، في محاولة لخلق «نواتاة» ثورات ملوّنة جديدة، تعويضاً عن فشلها السابق هناك، وتشغيلاً لذراعها الجنوبي الطوراني المترنح في أنقرة لعلّ ذلك يضبط دقات ساعته على توقيت تل أبيب أكثر فأكثر.

من هنا يمكن تلخيص الموقف العام لما يجري من تداعيات هزيمة الأطلسي في أوكرانيا، بأنّ أولى ارتداداته ستكون في منطقتنا بنضوج أجواء انتفاضة فلسطينية، وتحوّل عربي قومي لصالح قوى الممانعة والمقاومة والتغيير، وتلاحم هاتين القضيتين بقصة التحوّل الكبير التي ترتعد منه الرياض وتتجنّب تحمّل أكلافه واشنطن لوحدها، ألا وهو الانتصار اليمني الكبير، وهو ما يمكن ان يشكل بمثابة الضربة القاصمة لاستراتيجية واشنطن في القتال بالوكالة، ايّ خسارة الكيانين السعودي والإماراتي ومعهما في الطريق طغمة المنامة، وهي خسارة ستكون هذه المرة أقوى من خسارتها لألوية جيوشها المسماة بداعش والنصرة في بلاد الشام والرافدين .

من الآن الى ذلك الحين، دعونا نتابع بصمات بوتين في صناعة العالم الجديد من خاصرة روسيا الصغرى أو ما بات يُعرف حديثاً بأوكرانيا!

بعدنا طيبين قولوا الله…

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Testing the waters: Could Turkey’s Russian relations sink over Ukraine?

Neither friend nor foe, Turkey and Russia have backed opposing sides in several regional conflicts, yet managed to avoid direct confrontation. Now the Ukraine crisis poses a serious challenge.

March 22 2022

Caught between NATO and Russia over Ukraine, Turkey is forced to walk a thin line to avoid confrontation with either side.Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Yeghia Tashjian

The war in Ukraine has become the latest test for Turkey’s regional ambitions in confronting those of Russia, in what has clearly become a “cooperative rivalry.” This is where both sides, despite their opposite views on various regional conflicts ranging from Libya to Syria to the South Caucasus, have worked to manage these conflicts without directly challenging one another.

The current crisis has raised Turkey’s concerns of being in the firing line of Russia’s hegemonic ambitions. It is important to note that Turkey and Russia are not allies, but bitter ‘frenemies.’ Despite having robust commercial, energy, diplomatic and military ties, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned back in 2016 that NATO has to act and increase its presence in the Black Sea.

Over the past two decades, Russia has consolidated its presence in the Black Sea region by directly controlling Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008, and annexing Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014. The Black Sea Fleet is responsible for bringing supplies to Russian forces in Syria, mostly based in the port of Tartus and Khmeimim airbase, as well as for patrolling the eastern Mediterranean. Russia’s 2015 Maritime Doctrine clearly prioritizes the Black Sea as a pillar of its power projection.

Turkey’s waning power in the Black Sea

Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea tipped the balance of military power in the Black Sea in favor of Moscow. Not only has Russia significantly increased its Exclusive Economic Zone and its Black Sea coastline, it has also cancelled existing agreements with Ukraine, which limited the latter’s Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol.

Additionally, Russia has stationed new military ships and submarines and installed a dense network of advanced weapons systems across the Crimean peninsula. From Ankara’s perspective, Turkey feels surrounded by Russian military presence from the north (Crimea), east (Armenia), and south (Syria).

In response, Erdogan initiated the construction of the Istanbul Canal to put additional pressure on Russia using the 1936 Montreux Convention whereby Turkey can close the Black Sea Straits to all warships in times of war.

Indeed, following NATO’s intensified pressure, Ankara has started exercising its right under Article 19 of the Convention, and has warned all coastal and non-coastal states that it will not allow warships through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles. The convention also limits the period of stay for warships belonging to non-Black Sea states in the Black Sea.

However, this action also exposed Turkey’s limitations by raising the questions: How will Turkey react if Russian naval warships seek passage through the Straits? Will Turkey prevent them? The answer is clear.

As a Black Sea state, Russia has the privileged right to transit the Turkish Straits to return its warships to their bases. The treaty states that during armed conflict, belligerent warships “shall not” pass through the Straits unless the ships belong to a state that borders the Black Sea and are returning to their home ports.

Once Turkey determined that Russia was “at war,” it had no choice under the treaty but to stop Russian warships from passing through the Straits. The only exception for passage is for Russian warships from other areas returning to their bases in the Black Sea.

For example, a Russian fleet registered in the Black Sea but currently located in the Mediterranean Sea is allowed to pass through the Turkish Straits and return to its base. The condition also applies to Russian fleets currently in the Black Sea that belong to a base in the Mediterranean or Baltic Sea. Russia is free to take them out of the Black Sea. This option provides Russia with enough space to maneuver its naval power and downplay Article 19 of the Montreux Convention.

Turkey is aware that blocking access of Russian warships through its Straits will be viewed in Moscow as a “declaration of war.” This is the last thing Erdogan wants, knowing full well that the economic and political consequences will be harsher than those Turkey tasted after it downed the Russian jet over Syria in 2015.

Turkey’s balancing act between Russia and Ukraine

While Turkey will not directly provoke Russia, it has increased its military cooperation with Ukraine. This includes the supply of Bayraktar TB2 drones to the Kiev government. The Russians, for their part, have shown their preparedness for Turkish drones. Despite the fact that the Bayraktar TB2 drones are still operating and useful to the Ukrainian side, the Russian Ministry of Defense almost daily announces that its forces are downing many drones, including TB2.

This military relationship has also involved Ukraine supplying Turkey with military engines intended to boost Turkey’s growing arms industry; in particular, the Bayraktar’s successor drone and T292 heavy attack helicopters that are currently under production.

For Russia, this poses a threat, as in the future it may shift the military balance of power towards Turkey and Ukraine in the Black Sea. It is for this reason that Russian forces destroyed most of the Ukrainian heavy military infrastructure (including its naval and air force) and arms industry.

As such, Erdogan will aim to continue cooperation with Russia in the region; but he is equally likely to step up engagement with NATO to improve his global standing and reduce international criticism of his domestic conduct. Erdogan knows that standing against Russia and directly confronting Moscow is very risky as – excluding the ongoing war in Ukraine – he would start a war on three fronts in the region: in Libya, Syria, and Nagorno-Karabakh.

In order to extract itself from the ongoing difficulty of placating both sides, in recent days Turkey has engaged in proactive diplomacy and mediation between Kiev and Moscow. Ankara announced that the two adversaries have made progress on their negotiations to halt the war and are “close to an agreement.” However, Ukraine’s president responded by saying that any consequential agreement with Russia would be put to a referendum. This signaled that there is no agreement in sight and Ankara’s mediating efforts are fruitless.

Turkey will not gamble with Ukraine against Russia

Dr Maxim Suchkov, a Moscow-based expert in the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) expresses concern that Turkey may view the crisis as an opportunity to re-establish itself in the Black Sea and strengthen its relations with the west. Ankara enjoys good ties with both Moscow and Kiev and seeks to balance itself, supplying arms to Ukraine, on the one hand, but also refraining from sanctioning Russia.

Suchkov argues that Turkey may indeed be useful to the Russian endgame here, but “Moscow should also be careful since President Erdogan is known for his penchant to fish in muddy waters.” Hence, even if the outcome of the conflict does not favor Erdogan’s interests, Turkey may try to wrest something out of this crisis.

For this reason, President Erdogan cannot antagonize Russia and risk full-scale war as, domestically, the implications of this battle will be heavy on the Turkish government. Already, on 22 February, six Turkish opposition parties, not including the Kurdish HDP, called on a unified platform for the revival of the parliamentary system in the country with the aim of establishing an alliance to topple Erdogan in the coming parliamentary and presidential elections in June 2023.

According to recent public surveys, the opposition coalition is polling ahead, and indeed may oust Erdogan, given the financial chaos Turkey is experiencing. The current crisis will worsen the economic and political situation of Turkey.

One sector that is especially vulnerable is tourism, as between four to seven million Russian tourists and around two million Ukrainian tourists visit Turkey each year. Moreover, western sanctions on Russia will make money transactions difficult between both countries.

Crucially, Turkey imports almost 50 percent of its gas from Russia, and with the increase in global gas prices, Turks find themselves in a difficult quandary. For these reasons, Ankara is unlikely to undertake any risky gambles and will continue to strike a balanced posture in the crisis.

Turkey still has an important role to play

Turkey has general elections scheduled for June 2023, hence any change in the leadership in Turkey would affect the current track of Russian-Turkish relations. In a post-Erdogan Turkey, Ankara is likely to move closer to the western camp due to the pro-western (pro-US) leanings of the Turkish military, entrepreneurs, technocrats, diplomats, and civil servants – regardless of their liberal or nationalistic personal views.

This could form a long-term challenge for Russia-Turkey relations, given the successful “cooperative rivalry” both sides managed to arrange in Libya, Syria, and Nagorno-Karabakh. It is worth mentioning that on 2 March, Meral Akşener, leader of the Turkish opposition İYİ Party, raised the alarm on whether there were any guarantees that Turkey’s eastern provinces would be safe from a similar kind of Russian aggression. She also called Russia a “security threat” for Turkey. This is another indication that the Turkish opposition is not on the same wavelength as Erdogan’s multi-vector foreign policy.

Moscow has never viewed Ankara as an equal partner, but as a junior partner that could help configure a regional order which benefits Russian interests and decreases western influence. However, if Russia becomes stuck in a Ukrainian quagmire, it may need Ankara to arrange a temporary settlement.

Will the Syrian and Nagorno-Karabakh scenario be repeated – in which both sides sidelined western influence and Russia accepted a Turkish role in the region? If Ukraine is divided into two zones, would Russia accept a Turkish ‘peacekeeping force’ in the western part of Ukraine? Would the Americans give Turkey the green light to enter such a game? What would Ankara gain in return? Is such a military adventure within Turkey’s capabilities?

According to Dr Mitat Çelikpala, Professor of International Relations and the Dean of Faculty of Economics, Administrative and Social Sciences at Kadir Has University, such a scenario is beyond Turkey’s financial and military capacities – and Turkey cannot act unilaterally. Hence, for now, Turkey must continue its role of mediation between both sides to avoid any spillover effect near its borders.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RBC TV channel, Moscow, March 16, 2022

March 17, 2022

https://www.mid.ru/en/press_service/minister_speeches/1804655/

Question: Initially, the in-person talks were held in Belarus followed by online talks. You met with Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba in Antalya, Turkey, on March 10. What’s your take on the negotiating process?

Sergey Lavrov: I did not fly to Turkey in order to forestall the Belarusian negotiating track agreed upon by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky which is now being implemented via video conference. President Zelensky asked President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to speak with President Putin in order to set up a meeting between Dmitry Kuleba and me in Antalya, since we both planned to take part in the Antalya Diplomacy Forum.

Based on this request, President Vladimir Putin instructed me to hold a meeting and find out what Dmitry Kuleba has to offer (which is what I asked him to do). He stated that he did not arrive there to reiterate public statements. This statement got my attention. Dmitry Kuleba failed to vocalise any new ideas during the 90-minute conversation in the presence of Foreign Minister of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu, despite multiple reminders to the effect that I wanted to hear things that had not been said publicly. I did my part and made myself available to listen to what he had to say. Anyway, we had a conversation, which is not a bad thing. We are ready for such contacts going forward. It would be good to know the added value derived from such contacts and how the proposals to create new channels of interaction correlate with the functioning of an existing and steady negotiating process (the Belarusian channel).

I’m not going to comment on the details, which are a delicate matter. According to head of the Russian delegation Vladimir Medinsky, the talks focus on humanitarian issues, the situation on the ground in terms of hostilities, and on matters of political settlement. Overall, the agenda is known (it was repeatedly and publicly announced by President Vladimir Putin in his elaborate remarks) and includes matters of security and saving lives of the people in Donbass; preventing Ukraine from becoming a permanent threat to the security of the Russian Federation; and preventing the revival in Ukraine of neo-Nazi ideology, which is illegal around the world, including civilised Europe.

I base my opinion on the assessments provided by our negotiators. They state that the talks are not going smoothly (for obvious reasons). However, there is hope for a compromise. The same assessment is given by a number of Ukrainian officials, including members of President Zelensky’s staff and President Zelensky himself.

Question: President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky said that the positions of Russia and Ukraine during the talks have become more “realistic.”

Sergey Lavrov: This is about a more realistic assessment of the ongoing events coming from Vladimir Zelensky. His previous statements were confrontational. We can see that this role and function has been reassigned to Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba, who started saying that Russia’s demands are “unacceptable.” If they wish to create additional tension (as if the current tension were not enough) in the media space, what can we do?

We saw a similar tendency with respect to the Minsk agreements. Dmitry Kuleba was riding ahead on a dashing horse, along with those who were hacking the Minsk agreements into pieces. He publicly stated that the agreements would not be fulfilled. I would give negotiators an opportunity to work in a calmer environment, without stirring up more hysteria.

Question: President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky said that they are “reasonable people” and they realise that they are no longer welcome in NATO. What made him change his rhetoric? NATO aspirations are stated in one of the articles of the Ukrainian Constitution. They have been saying it all along that Kiev actually wants to be part of the alliance.

Sergey Lavrov: The rhetoric has changed because more reasonable thinking is paving its way to the minds of the Ukrainian leaders. The issue of dissolving the Soviet Union was resolved in a very odd manner: very few parties were asked; the decision was split “between three,” so to speak, and it was done. Later, certain common ground was achieved in the form of the Commonwealth of Independent States. It is good that the other former Soviet republics were shown some respect, at least post factum.

In the Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, adopted before the Belovezh Accords, it was stated in black and white that Ukraine would be a non-aligned and militarily neutral state. In all the subsequent documents characterising the formation of Ukrainian statehood, the declaration was always listed among fundamental documents. After the anti-constitutional coup in February 2014, the Ukrainian Constitution was amended to include statements on continuous movement towards NATO (in addition to the European Union). That undermined the integrity of the previous process and the fundamental documents that the Ukrainian state is based on – because the Declaration of Sovereignty and the Act of Ukraine’s Independence are still listed among the founding documents of the Ukrainian state.

This is not the only inconsistency. The provision of the Ukrainian Constitution on ensuring the rights of the Russian and other ethnic minorities remains intact. However, a huge number of laws have been adopted that run counter to this constitutional provision and flagrantly discriminate against the Russian language, in particular, against all European norms.

We remember that President Zelensky recently said that NATO must close the sky over Ukraine and start fighting for Ukraine, recruiting mercenaries and sending them to the frontline. That statement was made very aggressively. The reaction of the North Atlantic Alliance, where some clear-headed people still remain, had a cooling effect. This reasonable approach in the current situation deserves to be welcomed.

Before the final decision was made to begin the special military operation, President Vladimir Putin spoke about our initiatives concerning the security guarantees in Europe at a news conference in the Kremlin, explaining that it is unacceptable that Ukraine’s security be ensured through its NATO membership. He clearly said that we are ready to look for any ways to ensure the security of Ukraine, the European countries and Russia except for NATO’s expansion to the east. The alliance has been assuring us that we should not be worried as it serves a defensive purpose and nothing threatens us and our security. The alliance was declared as defensive in its early days. During the Cold War, it was clear who was defending whom, where and against which party. There was the Berlin Wall, both concrete and geopolitical. Everybody accepted that contact line under the Warsaw Pact and NATO. It was clear which line NATO would protect.

When the Warsaw Pact and later the Soviet Union were dissolved, NATO started, at its own discretion and without any consultations with those who used to be part of the balance of power on the European continent, working its way to the east, moving the contact line further to the right each time. When the contact line came too close to us (and nobody took our reasoning seriously in the past 20 years), we proposed the European security initiatives which, to my great regret, were also ignored by our arrogant partners.

Question: Many people in Russia and Ukraine are asking themselves whether the situation could not have been resolved peacefully. Why didn’t this work out? Why did it become necessary to conduct a special operation?

Sergey Lavrov: Because the West did not want to resolve this situation peacefully. Although I have already discussed this aspect, I would like to highlight it once again. This has absolutely nothing to do with Ukraine. This concerns the international order, rather than Ukraine alone.

The United States has pinned down the whole of Europe. Today, some Europeans are telling us that Russia started behaving differently, that Europe had its own special interests differing from those of the United States, and that we have compelled Europe to share the United States’ fervour for the cause. I believe that what has happened is entirely different. Under President Joe Biden, the United States set the goal of subordinating Europe, and it has succeeded in forcing Europe to implicitly follow US policies. This is a crucial moment, a landmark in contemporary history because, in the broad sense of the word, it reflects the battle for a future international order.

The West stopped using the term “international law,” embodied in the UN Charter, many years ago, and it invented the term “rules-based order.” These rules were written by members of an inner circle. The West incentivised those who accepted these rules. At the same time, narrow non-universal organisations dealing with the same matters as the universal organisations were established. Apart from UNESCO, there is a certain international partnership in support of information and democracy. We have international humanitarian law and the UN Refugee Agency dealing with related issues. The European Union is setting up a special partnership for dealing with the same matter. However, decisions will be based on EU interests, and they will disregard universal processes.

France and Germany are establishing an alliance for multilateralism. When asked about the reason for setting it up at a time when the UN – the most legitimate and universal organisation – embodies multilateralism, they gave an interesting reply that the UN employed many retrogrades, and that the new alliance prioritised avantgardism. They also stated their intention to promote multilateralism in such a way that no one would hamper their efforts. When asked what the ideals of this multilateralism were, they said that they were EU values. This arrogance and misinterpreted feeling of one’s own superiority also rule supreme in a situation that we are now reviewing, namely, the creation of a world where the West would a priori manage everything with impunity. Many people now claim that Russia has come under attack because it remains virtually the only obstacle that needs to be removed before the West can start dealing with China. This straightforward statement is quite truthful.

You asked why it was impossible to peacefully resolve the situation. For many years, we suggested resolving the matter peacefully. Many reasonable politicians from the US and Europe responded in earnest to Vladimir Putin’s proposal at the 2007 Munich Security Conference. Unfortunately, decision-makers in Western countries ignored it. Numerous assessments by world-famous political analysts, published in many leading US magazines, such as Foreign Policy and Foreign Affairs, and European magazines, were also ignored. A coup took place in 2014. The West unconditionally backed Ukraine and the coup’s perpetrators who had gained power in Kiev. The West emphatically refuses to set any framework in relations between NATO and the territory of Russian interests. These warnings were also voiced but were disregarded, to put it mildly.

You should read the works of Zbigniew Brzezinski, who said back in the 1990s that Ukraine would become a key issue. He said openly that a friendly Ukraine would make Russia a great power, and that a hostile Ukraine would turn it into a regional player. These statements concealed geopolitical implications. Ukraine merely acted as a tool for preventing Russia from upholding its legitimate and equal rights on the international scene.

Question: Not long ago, I heard the current adviser to the President of Ukraine, Alexey Arestovich, speak. A couple of years ago, he said that neutral status was too expensive for Ukraine. “We can’t afford it,” he said. What do you think about this statement? Is that true? Following up on what worries ordinary Ukrainians – security guarantees – what is Russia ready to do? What kind of guarantees can it provide?

Sergey Lavrov: Neutral status is being seriously discussed in a package with security guarantees. This is exactly what President Vladimir Putin said at one of his news conferences: there are multiple options out there, including any generally acceptable security guarantees for Ukraine and all other countries, including Russia, with the exception of NATO expansion. This is what is being discussed at the talks. There is specific language which is, I believe, close to being agreed upon.

Question: Can you share it with us yet or not?

Sergey Lavrov: I’d rather not, because it is a negotiating process. Unlike some of our partners, we try to adhere to the culture of diplomatic negotiations, even though we were forced to make documents public that are normally off-limits. We did so in the situations where our communication with the German and French participants of the Normandy format was misrepresented to the point where it was the opposite of what really happened. Then, in order to expose the culprits before the international community, we were forced to make things public. No attempts at provocation are being made now as we discuss the guarantees of Ukraine’s neutrality. Hopefully, the first attempts at a businesslike approach that we are seeing now will prevail and we will be able to reach specific agreements on this matter even though simply declaring neutrality and announcing guarantees will be a significant step forward. The problem is much broader. We talked about it, including from the point of view of values such as the Russian language, culture and freedom of speech, since Russian media are outright banned, and the ones that broadcast in Ukraine in Russian were shut down.

Question: But they can always tell us that they are an independent country and it’s up to them to decide which language to speak. Why are you – Russia and Moscow – forcing us to speak Russian?

Sergey Lavrov: Because Ukraine has European obligations. There is the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. There are multiple other commitments, including in the Council of Europe, which we are leaving (this has been announced officially). However, we will never renounce our obligations regarding the rights of ethnic minorities, be they linguistic, cultural, or any other. We will never “withdraw from the documents” that guarantee freedom of access to information.

In the 1990s, everyone was rubbing their hands together in anticipation of the Soviet Union becoming an absolutely obedient and obsequious partner of the West. Back then, we did our best to show that perestroika and new thinking were opening up a groundbreaking chapter in the history of our state. We signed everything that the West wanted us to sign at the OSCE, including the declaration proposed by the West and supported by us which contained obligations to ensure freedom of access to information in each country and to transboundary information sources. Now, we are unable to get through to the West so that it itself starts fulfilling this obligation, which they themselves initiated.

This Russian language-related requirement is enshrined in the obligations. Ukraine did not turn them down. Can you imagine the consequences of Finland banning the Swedish language? There are 6 percent of Swedes in Finland, and Swedish is the second official language. Or, Ireland banning English, or Belgium banning French? The list goes on and on. All these minority languages ​​are respected, regardless of the fact that they have a parent state, whereas our case represents an exception. This is a case of outright discrimination, and what is known as enlightened Europe is just keeping quiet about it.

Question: We have decided to withdraw from the Council of Europe before being expelled. Why?

Sergey Lavrov: By and large, this decision was formulated long ago. Not because of a series of suspension and reinstatement of our rights, but because that organisation has fully degenerated. It was established as a pan-European organisation of all countries, with the exception of Belarus which was given observer status. We did our best to help Belarus participate in several conventions, which is possible in the Council of Europe. In general, Belarus was considering the possibility of joining it.

However, over the years the Council of Europe has turned into a kind of OSCE, (excuse my language), where the initial idea of interaction and consensus as the main instruments of attaining the goal of common European cooperation and security was superceded by polemics and rhetoric, which was becoming increasingly Russophobic and was determined by the unilateral interests of the West, in particular, NATO countries and the EU. They used their technical majority in the OSCE and the Council of Europe to undermine the culture of consensus and compromise and to force their views on everyone, showing that they have no regard whatsoever, do not care one iota for our interests and only want to lecture and moralise, which is what they have actually been doing.

Our intention to withdraw matured long ago, but our decision to withdraw has been accelerated by the recent events and the decision enforced through voting. The Parliamentary Assembly issued recommendations for the Committee of Ministers, which has voted to suspend our rights. They told us not to worry, that we would only be unable to attend the sessions but can still make our payments to the budget.  This is what they have openly said.

The Foreign Ministry pointed out in a statement that our withdrawal from this organisation will not affect the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens under the European Convention on Human Rights, from which we are withdrawing as part of our withdrawal from the Council of Europe. First of all, there are constitutional guarantees and guarantees under the international conventions to which Russia is a party. These universal conventions are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (which the United States has not signed); the Convention on the Rights of the Child (the US is not among its signatories) and many other conventions and covenants most of which have been incorporated into the national legislation. Our lawyers are working with the Constitutional Court and the Justice Ministry on additional amendments to Russian laws to prevent any infringement on the rights of our citizens as the result of our withdrawal from the Council of Europe.

Question: Several counties have been trying to develop dialogue between Moscow and Kiev. France was the first to do this, followed by Israel, and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will come to Moscow today. Turkey has stepped up its activity. Why are these three countries so active on this issue?

Sergey Lavrov: They are not the only ones to offer their services. The President of Russia had a telephone conversation with President of the European Council Charles Michel yesterday. He has had contacts with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, President of France Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister of Israel Naftali Bennett. My foreign colleagues have contacted me as well. For example, Switzerland, which has traditionally posed as a country where compromises are reached, is ready to mediate.

In this context, it is strange that mediation services are being offered by the countries which have joined the unprecedented sanctions against Russia and have proclaimed the goal (they make no bones about stating this openly) of setting the Russian people against the Russian authorities. We take a positive view on the mediation offers coming from the countries which have refused to play this Russophobic game, which are aware of the root causes of the current crisis, that is, the fundamental and legitimate national interests of Russia, and which have not joined this war of sanctions. We are ready to analyse their proposals. Israel and Turkey are among these states.

Question: Do they come with proposals, asking if they could help establish dialogue?  Or how is this taking place in reality?

Sergey Lavrov: This happens in different ways. Right now, I cannot go into detail, but both want to help achieve accord at the talks conducted via the “Belarusian channel.”  They know the state of the talks, what proposals are on the table, and where there is a bilateral rapprochement.   They are sincerely trying to speed up the rapprochement. We welcome this, but I would like to stress once again that the matter of key importance is having a direct dialogue between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations and  solving what we consider fundamental issues related to the effort not only to ensure the physical security of people in eastern Ukraine and for that matter in other parts of Ukraine, but also to enable them to live normal, civilised lives in the country that has a duty to ensure the rights of  those who are known as ethnic minorities, rights that have been trampled underfoot in every sense.

Let us not forget about the tasks of demilitarisation. Ukraine cannot have weapons that create a threat to the Russian Federation. We are ready to negotiate on the types of armaments that do not present a threat to us. This problem will have to be solved even regardless of the situation’s NATO aspect. Even without NATO membership, the United States or anyone else can supply offensive weapons to Ukraine on a bilateral basis, just as they did with the anti-missile bases in Poland and Romania. No one asked NATO. Let us not forget that [Ukraine] is perhaps the only OSCE and European country that has legislatively legalised the neo-Nazis’ right to promote their views and practices.

These are matters of principle. I hope that the realisation of their legitimacy, justifiability and key importance for our interests and therefore the interests of European security will enable those, who are graciously offering their good offices, to promote relevant compromises in contacts with Ukraine, among others.

Question: We have named certain countries that are helping to settle this crisis. Has the United States offered any services in this connection, like “let us help to establish contacts?” After all, it is no secret to anyone that Russia-US relations were at a very low level. Now they have hit rock bottom, haven’t they?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, there is such a figurative expression. Of course, the situation is unprecedented. I can’t recall anything like the frenzied policy that Washington is conducting right now. To a considerable extent, this policy is generated by Congress whose members have lost all sense of reality and are throwing all conventions to the winds. I am not even mentioning the diplomatic proprieties that have long since been abandoned.

The United States certainly has played the decisive role in shaping the position of the Kiev authorities. The Americans have maintained a huge “presence” in Kiev’s “corridors of power” for many years, including the uniformed agencies, the security service, and the top brass. Everyone knows this. The CIA and other US secret services have their missions there.

Like other NATO members (the Canadians, the British), they have sent hundreds of their instructors to train combat units not only within the Armed Forces of Ukraine but also in the so-called volunteer battalions, including Azov and Aydar. However, some seven or eight years ago, in 2014, immediately after the coup d’etat, the Azov battalion was officially struck off the list of recipients of US aid.  This was done precisely because it was regarded as an extremist, if not terrorist, organisation. Today, all pretences have been removed.

Now any person or group in Ukraine that declares Russia its enemy is immediately taken under the wing of overseas and Western patrons.

They are talking about the supremacy of law and about democracy. What supremacy of law, if the EU, in violation of its own law on the inadmissibility of arms supplies to conflict zones, takes the decision to do the opposite and send offensive arms to Ukraine?

We do not see any sign that the United States is interested in settling the conflict as soon as possible. If they were interested, they would have every opportunity, first, to explain to the Ukrainian negotiators and President Zelensky that they should seek compromises. Second, they need to make it clear that they are aware of the legitimacy of our demands and positions, but do not want to accept them, not because they are illegitimate but because they would like to dominate the world and are unwilling to restrain themselves with any commitments to take into consideration the interests of others. They have already brought Europe to heel, as I have said.

The US has been telling Europe for years that Nord Stream 2 could undermine their energy security. Europe responded that they should find out that on their own. They took the decision and their companies invested billions of euros. The Americans were claiming that this was contrary to the EU’s interests. They offered to sell them their liquefied gas. If there are no gas terminals, they should be built.  The Germans told me this a few years ago. It was during President Trump’s administration. Europe was complaining that this would considerably increase gas prices for their consumers. Donald Trump replied that they were rich guys and will compensate the difference from the German budget. That’s their approach.

Today, Europe was shown its place. Germany eventually said that its regulator was taking a break, and this precisely defines the FRG’s place in the arrangements that the Americans are making on the world scene.

Question: Has Germany become a less independent state under the new chancellor? Would it have acted the same under Angela Merkel?

Sergey Lavrov: The Nord Stream 2 was commissioned, albeit temporarily suspended afterwards, under the new chancellor. I hope that experience will bring an understanding of the need to uphold national interests, rather than to fully rely on the overseas partner who will make all the decisions for you and then do everything for you as well. Clearly, the enormous number of US troops on German soil is also a factor that interferes with independent decision-making.

Articles are being published to the effect that the “politics of memory” is vanishing. It has always been considered a sacred thing in Germany and meant that the German people would never forget the suffering they brought during World War II, primarily to the peoples of the Soviet Union. After I read this, I realised that many people are aware of it. These are open publications. German political scientists are talking about this and, of course, ours do so as well. Several years ago, I spotted something that was probably the early phase of this emerging trend. We were holding ministerial and other consultations with the Germans (I’m talking about foreign policy talks) at the level of department directors and deputy ministers. I never saw this at the ministerial level. The thought that was conveyed to us during the talks was that “we, the Germans, have paid our dues to everyone and owe nothing to anyone, so stop bringing this up.”

Speaking of the Germans, there is a thing that is worth mentioning. We are now talking a lot about attributes of genocide or racial discrimination. Take, for instance, the siege of Leningrad. For many years and with all my colleagues, starting with Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Guido Westerwelle, Heiko Maas, and most recently Annalena Baerbock, I very persistently, with each of them, raised the topic of paying compensations to the Leningrad siege survivors. The German government has made two one-time payments but only to Jewish survivors. We asked why only Jews, because many ethnic groups, including Russians and Tatars, lived in Leningrad and continue to live there. Many of them are still alive. How are they supposed to understand the fact that only the Jews have received some kind of help from the German government when at the time they were boiling shoes, burying children and transporting corpses on sleds together? The payments in question are not big. But, first, for many of them they matter, and second, they serve as the recognition of the fact that everyone has been impacted by the siege. Their answer was interesting. The Jews, they said, are victims of the Holocaust. These payments cannot be made to other survivors, because they are not Holocaust victims. Our attempts to reach out to the German legislators and politicians and tell them that the siege of Leningrad was an unparalleled event in the history of WWII, where there was no distinction between Jews, Russians or other ethnic groups, failed. We reached out to Jewish organisations. It is a matter of honour for them as well. We will continue this work going forward. January marked yet another anniversary of the lifting of the siege of Leningrad. The President of Russia signed an executive order on one-time payments to all siege survivors, including the Jews. We have not seen any sign of conscience awakening in Germany so far.

To be continued…

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