العدّ التنازلي لربع قرن مع رجب أردوغان

يونيو 24, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– لم يكن جدياً وصادقاً موضوعياً الحديث عن العد التنازلي لزعامة رجب أردوغان في تركيا بمثل ما هو اليوم. فتلك الزعامة التي قامت على أركان الوعد بالتنمية الاقتصادية والزعامة الإقليمية لتركيا، انطلقت من الفوز ببلدية اسطنبول قبل ربع قرن، واسطنبول هي البيئة التي حضنت رجب أردوغان الشخص والمشروع، وهي العاصمة الحقيقية اجتماعياً وسكانياً واقتصادياً وسياسياً في تركيا، والانتخابات التي ترنّح فيها أردوغان نيابياً ورئاسياً، لكنه فاز بها في النهاية في هذه المدينة الاستثنائية الأهمية، قرّر منح معركتها البلدية صفة الاستفتاء على زعامته وسياساته، عندما حوّل انتخابات بلديتها إلى ما هو أكثر من مجرد رمزيتها، نحو جعلها بالإعادة المفتعلة معركة الحسم السياسي لمستقبل تركيا، محولاً رئيس البلدية المنتخب من الحزب الجمهوري المعارض المنافس المقبل على رئاسة الجمهورية.

– جاءت الانتخابات بعدما بلغ أردوغان ذروة ما تطلع إليه، وأخذ الأتراك إلى قعر ما كانوا يخشون منه. فهو نجح بإقصاء منافسيه داخل حزبه وحوّله إلى حزب «الشخص»، وأسقط من الدستور أي شراكة له في القرار ولو من قيادة حزب حاكم تتوزّع مراكز الحكومة والرئاسة، فجعل الحكم حكم «الشخص»، وطهّر التيار الديني المتصالح مع النمط الغربي للحياة، فشطب شريكه فتح الله غولن وزج بكل أتباعه في السجون، وأمم الإعلام وكمّم الأفواه، وامتلك أغلب النظام المصرفي والمصالح الكبرى في شبكة الاتصالات وتجارة النفط. وبالتوازي سقط مشروع «العداوات صفر مع الجيران» الذي سوق له كمشروع إقليمي لزعامته، وجاء السقوط مدوياً. وها هو حلفه مع أميركا ينهار، دون أن يبدو أنه حليف موثوق لروسيا، ووعوده العثمانية السلطانية تتهاوى من سورية وعلى أسوار مدنها ومساجدها الأمميّة التي وعد مرة بالصلاة في نسختها الدمشقية. وعندما صار العجز محكماً، قال هذا حصرم رأيته في حلب فليكن المسجد حلبياً، وتهاوت الوعود بالرفاه والنمو وحل مكانها الركود والتقشف وتهاوي أسعار الصرف وتراجع قطاعات الاقتصاد بلا تمييز، وزيادة نسب الفقر.

– الأكيد أن المعارضة التركية وعلى رأسها حزب الشعب الجمهوري لا تملك وعوداً براقة للأتراك على طريقة ما كانت عليه وعود أردوغان، عندما كان معه حزب فاعل أو عندما بات حزبه مجرد يافطة يرفعها بلا روح، بعدما حوّله إلى مجرد إطار لخدمة حزب الأخوان المسلمين خارج تركيا على حساب الأتراك، ودائماً كانت خسارة المعارضة التركية أمام أردوغان تعود إلى عدم التوازن بين الخيارات والوعود التي يقدّمها الفريقان، حتى صار مجرد الوعد بالتخلص من أردوغان جاذباً. فالأتراك يقولون بتصويتهم في اسطنبول إنهم ليسوا بحاجة إلى وعد بسلطان جديد وباب عالٍ جديد، ولا إلى وعد بنمو ورفاه، بل يكفيهم أن يأمنوا العيش كمواطنين في دولة تحترمهم ويمنحهم كرامة العيش وحرية القول وحق الشراكة في مناقشة الخيارات.

– تغوّل مشروع أردوغان بينما كان الأتراك يفقدون هويتهم القومية لحساب الهوية الأخوانية، ويفقدون معيشتهم اللائقة لحساب تغوّل آخر لبطانة أردوغان مالاً وفساداً، ويخسرون مهابة جيشهم لحساب ميليشيات مسلحة من الأخوان المسلمين الهاربين من بلدانهم والحائزين على امتيازات تعلو على المواطنة، ويخسرون الإحساس بالأمن والحرية مع ظهور شركات الأمن الخاصة تنتشر في شوارع وأحياء مدنهم ومواكب المرافقات المنفرة والمستنفرة، وتنامي وسائل الإعلام المبهرة بالتقنيات والمموّهة بالحريات، والموظفة للعبة بروباغندا التسويق للأشخاص والأفكار والتفاهة في العيش.

– انتخابات بلدية اسطنبول تقول إن لحظة الحقيقة المرة التي رفض أردوغان تجرّعها على مراحل، بعدما أصرّ على إعادة الانتخابات وجعلها حرباً سياسية مصيرية وجودية، باتت كأس سم يتجرّعها دفعة واحدة.

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Erdogan, MBS, Islamic leadership and the price of silence

November 21, 2018

The House of Saud’s ties to the Khashoggi slaying are being milked by the Turkish President for maximum benefit amid debate on leadership of the Islamic world and how the crisis may affect US and Saudi strategy in the Middle East

Erdogan, MBS, Islamic leadership and the price of silence

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with The Asia Times by special agreement with the author)

It was packaged as a stark, graphic message, echoing across Eurasia: Presidents Erdogan and Putin, in a packed hall in Istanbul on Monday, surrounded by notables, celebrating completion of the 930 kilometer-long offshore section of the TurkStream gas pipeline across the bottom of the Black Sea.

This is no less than a key landmark in that fraught terrain I named ‘Pipelineistan’ in the early 2000s. It was built by Gazprom in only two and a half years despite facing massive pressure from Washington, which had already managed to derail TurkStream’s predecessor, South Stream.

TurkStream is projected as two lines, each capable of delivering 15.75 billion cubic meters of gas a year. The first will supply the Turkish market. The second will run 180 km to Turkey’s western borderlands and supply south and southeast Europe, with first deliveries expected by the end of next year. Potential customers include Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary.

Call it the Gazprom double down. Nord Stream 1 and 2 supply northern Europe while TurkStream supplies southern Europe. Pipelines are steel umbilical cords. They represent liquid connectivity at its best while conclusively decreasing risks of geopolitical friction.

Turkey is already being supplied by Russian gas via Blue Stream and the Trans-Balkan pipeline. Significantly, Turkey is Gazprom’s second largest export market after China.

Erdogan’s speech, strenuously emphasizing the benefits of Turkey’s energy security, was played and replayed all across a rainy, ultra-congested Istanbul. To witness this geopolitical and geoeconomic breakthrough was particularly enlightening, as I was deep into discussing Turkish geopolitics with members of the progressive Turkish Left.

Even the opposition to what in Europe is routinely defined as Erdogan’s brand of “Asian illiberalism” concedes Turkey-Russia trade connectivity – in energy, in the military domain via the sale of the S-400 missile system, in the building of nuclear power plants – has been conducted with consummate skill by Erdogan, who is always careful to send direct and indirect messages to Washington that Turkish national interests will not be compromised.

The big prize: leading Islam

Now juxtapose this developing entente cordiale between the Bear and the (aspiring) Sultan with the gripping drama in Istanbul. Ibrahim Karagul – never afraid to apply a Rabelais touch – is always useful as a mirror reflecting the state of play of AKP circles around Erdogan.

For this political elite, a breakthrough in the Erdogan-conducted “Death By a Thousand Leaks” is imminent, allegedly proving that Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) directly gave the order for the killing and slaying of Jamal Khashoggi.

The consensus among the AKP leadership – confirmed by independent Left academics – is that the US-Israel-House of Saud-UAE axis is deep in negotiations to extricate MBS from any culpability.

That includes key items in the hefty Erdogan “package” dangled to the axis to essentially buy Ankara’s silence – an end of the Saudi blockade on Qatar and the extradition of Fetullah Gulen, described across the Turkish political spectrum as the leader of FETO (the Fetullah Terrorist Organization).

The Kremlin and the Russian Foreign Ministry are very much aware that the high-stakes game goes way beyond ‘Pulp Fiction’ in Istanbul and the Astana peace process on Syria – carefully micro-managed by both Putin and Erdogan alongside Iran’s Rouhani. The big prize is no less than the leadership of the Islamic world.

There is nowhere better than a few stops in select landmarks of Ottoman imperial power, or a lively conversation at Istanbul’s Old Book Bazaar, to be reminded that this was the seat of the Islamic Umma for centuries – a role usurped by those Arabian desert upstarts.

Alastair Cooke has captured with perfection the House of Saud’s close involvement in the slaying of Khashoggi and how this raises questions about Saudi Arabia’s status as “no more than an inept Custodian of Mecca and Medina”. This is indeed splashed all over the – Erdogan-aligned – Turkish media. And Cooke notes how this status “would strip the Gulf of much of its significance and value to Washington”.

My ongoing conversations with progressive, Kemalist Turkish academics – yes, they are a minority – have unveiled a fascinating process. The Erdogan machine has sensed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to simultaneously bury the House of Saud’s shaky Islamic credibility while solidifying Turkish neo-Ottomanism, but with an Ikhwan framework.

And that’s the rationale behind Erdogan and Turkish media relentlessly denouncing what is interpreted as a plot concocted by MBZ (MBS’s puppet master), Tel Aviv and the Trump administration.

No one can possibly advance the endgame. But that carries the strong possibility of a dominant, Erdogan-led Turkey all across the lands of Islam, allied with Qatar and also with Iran. Plus all of the above enjoying very close geopolitical and economic relations with Russia. Expect major fireworks ahead.

The ‘fiancée’ and Gülen

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2018

The ‘fiancée’ and Gülen

Crown Prince “All Smiles” As Saudis Sign $50 Billion In Deals At “Davos In The Desert”” (Durden):

“It’s this river of capital that, more than anything else, should insulate MbS from any substantial blowback over the Khashoggi affair, just as it did when he imprisoned rival members of the royal family and women’s rights activists, or when he effectively kidnapped the prime minister of Lebanon, or as Saudi Arabia continues to wage a war of aggression against innocent civilians in Yemen, much to the international community’s bizarre silence.”

I’m betting on MbS weathering the storm, perhaps a little weakened.  If so, will there be repercussions?  The attack was obviously from Turkey, backed up by Big Jew (Sheldon) in America (guys like Corker don’t open their mouths without shekels).  The Israelis were terrified about this, and tried to ignore it, or even tried the ‘Khashoggi was a terrorist’ line (i.e., MbS did everybody a favor by bonesawing him).  Will we see a cooling in Saudi-Israeli relations as punishment for Sheldon’s attempted coup?

The ‘fiancée’ and Gülen!!!:  “Insights Into The Khashoggi Ordeal; Who And Why” (Kadi).  Once you start talking about Gülen you bring the CIA into the picture, and everything you think you know about this incident might be wrong!  I like the analysis where Kadi notes that what seems normal to us – going to a government office for a bureaucratic procedure – would not be normal for a Saudi guy of status like Khashoggi.  So what was he really doing?

Image result for Khashoggi fiancée

Was the ‘fiancée’ his intelligence handler?

Western Media Attacks Critics of the White Helmets. The New McCarthyism” (Sterling).

DNC Emails–A Seth Attack Not a Russian Hack by Publius Tacitus” (eight is new):

“So what do we know for certain?

First, no one in the Federal Governemnt—law enforcement or intelligence—was granted access to examine the computer servers and files on the DNC server even after the DNC claimed they had been hacked by a foreign government.

Second, the steps that Crowdstrike allegedly took to shutdown computer hacking by Russia do not match the timeline of the actual download of the documents from the DNC server.

Third, Seth Rich worked at the DNC and had access to the computer server and systems.

Fourth, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange identified Seth Rich as a “source” and posted a $20,000 reward for information concerning his murder.

Fifth, a Federal law enforcement agent told two witnesesses that Seth Rich had email exchanges with Wikileaks.

Sixth, two people with direct access to Julian Assange told three separate sources that Seth Rich was the source of the DNC material published by Wikileaks.

Seventh, the documents published by Guccifer contain meta data that establish that the documents were physically downloaded onto a device like a thumb drive.

Eighth, the NSA has confirmed that it has Top Secret and Secret documents responsive to a FOIA request for information concerning contact between Seth Rich and other people including Julian Assange.”

The EU Russia China Plan to Avert Iran Oil Sanctions” (Engdahl).  Blockchain versus dollar hegemony (thus avoiding NSA scrutiny and providing no target for secondary sanctions).  Of course, it seems pretty obvious that ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ (Bitcoin/Silk Road are/were honeypots) is CIA or NSA (and Engdahl specifically refers to a Bitcoin competitor)!

Insights Into The Khashoggi Ordeal; Who And Why

by Ghassan Kadi for The Saker Blog

In this insane historical era in which we currently live, events, their causes and consequences do not necessarily follow this particular logical sequence of reporting and analyzing; and we have to get used to much worse.

To this effect, a week ago, it was almost impossible to work out who “killed” Khashoggi and why even though the financial and political and consequences were fairly obvious. However, the events of the few days that followed are beginning to shed some light for speculation about the how and why Mr. Khashoggi was killed and who did it.

In asking “how”, the question is not in relation to the gory details of how the man was physically murdered, but in the events that have possibly led to this fateful event. Some conspiracy theorists abound about there being no death or murder. Were he alive, given that the Saudi’s are under such extreme attack worldwide, they would find any opportunity to drag this man before the world’s cameras to prove their innocence.

To analyze the events leading up to the entry of Mr. Khashoggi to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on the 2nd of October 2018, we need to look at a myriad of facts and also possibilities; including cultural ones.

It is very hard to understand the Saudi mind for someone who has never lived in that country. One of the many peculiar aspects of this state is that people, even ordinary people, do not engage in the day-to-day official requirements that members of other nations would.

When I worked and lived in Saudi Arabia, one of the first things I learnt was that the company I worked for had a fulltime employee with the job description of “Mu’aqeb”. The best translation of this title is “expeditor”. This man was in charge of every matter that had to do with dealing with government. He is the one who takes one’s passport and sees that a Saudi “Iquama” (temporary certificate of residence) is produced. He is the one who renews driving licenses. He is the one that does the necessary paperwork to grant employees exit and re-entry visas when they go away on holidays. He even applies on one’s behalf for visas to visit other countries. He even paid water and electricity bills. He did it all, and of course, on top of his salary, he expected a present from employees on their return to work from holidays, and some employees would risk big penalties smuggling in Playboy magazines to reward him with. But the company I worked for was not alone in this regard; all other companies had their own “Mu’aqeb”.

It is against the Saudi psyche, culture and “pride” to go to a government office, wait in line and make an application for anything. Not even uneducated poor Saudis are accustomed to go through the rigmarole of government red-tape and routine.

Mr. Khashoggi was from the upper crust, and it is highly doubtful that he would have been willing and prepared to physically enter the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul seeking an official document.

Furthermore and more importantly, Mr. Khashoggi had a better reason not to enter any Saudi territory. Even though some recent reports portray him as a Wahhabi in disguise among other things, the man had nonetheless made some serious anti-MBS (Mohamed bin Salman) statements https://www.cbsnews.com/news/jamal-khashoggi-saudi-journalist-called-saudi-arabia-crown-prince-mohammed-bin-salmans-behavior-in-foreign-policy-impulsive-2017/

Jamal Khashoggi was no fool. He knew the modus operandi of the Saudi Government too well. He knew that what he had said was tantamount to a death sentence in the brutal Kingdom of Sand. So what incited him to walk into the Consulate? To receive a divorce certificate so he could remarry as the reports are trying to make us believe? Not a chance.

But this is not all. As a Muslim, Mr. Khashoggi could have gone to any country that upholds Muslim marriage rites and remarried without having to formally divorce his first wife, and then go to America and live with his “new wife” under the guise of a de-facto relationship. So why would he risk his life and walk into a potential death trap?

Logic stipulates that Khashoggi entered the Consulate after he was given vehement assurances that his safety was guaranteed by the Saudi Crown. He would have never entered the Consulate had he not been given this assurance.

But why would the Saudi Government give him this assurance even though he had been very critical of MBS? A good question.

Once again, a logical hypothetical answer to this question could be that Khashoggi had some important meeting with a high ranking Saudi official to discuss some issues of serious importance, and this normally means that he had some classified information to pass on to the Saudi Government; important enough that the Saudi Crown was prepared to set aside Khashoggi’s recent history in exchange of this information.

If we try to connect more dots in a speculative but rational manner, the story can easily become more interesting.

Hatice Cengiz (Turkish for Khadijeh Jengiz) it is claimed, raised the first alarm for Khashoggi’s disappearance, announcing at the same time that she is/was his fiancée. But that latter announcement of hers came as a surprise even to Khashoggi’s own family.

Not much is said and speculated about Hatice in the West, but she is definitely making some headlines in the Arab World, especially on media controlled and sponsored by Saudi Arabia. To this effect, and because the Saudi neck is on the chopping board, it is possible that for the first time ever perhaps, the Saudis are telling the truth.

But the Saudis are the boys who cried wolf, and no one will ever believe them. But, let us explore how they might have got themselves into this bind.

As we connect the dots, we speculate as follows:

Some reports allege that Hatice has had a colourful history, including Mossad training https://youtu.be/6SPuKo7WMSA. The same YouTube alleges that she was a Gülenist and was arrested by Erdogan and released under the condition that she works for his security apparatus in order to guarantee her freedom. If such is the case, do we know if she has been also blackmailed in exchange for security of family members, loved ones, property etc? We don’t know.

It has also been reported that Jamal Khashoggi met her only as early as May 2018 and later introduced her as an expert on Omani history and politics. In reality, irrespective of what his family members are saying now, Khashoggi has never introduced her to the world as his fiancée; and this is fact.

So was she his fiancée?

It is at least possible that she wasn’t?

So, who was she to Khashoggi and what role did she possibly play?

The following speculation cannot be proved, but it makes sense:

To explain what a Gülenist is for the benefit of the reader who is unaware of this term, Erdogan blamed former friend and ally Fethullah Gülen for the failed coup attempt of July 2016 and persecuted his followers, putting tens of thousands of them in jail. Erdogan’s relationship with America was already deteriorating at that time because of America’s support to Syrian Kurds, and to add to Erdogan’s woes, America was and continues to give Gülen a safe haven despite many requests by Erdogan to have him extradited to Turkey to face trial. But Gülen is falling out of America’s favour as he seems to have outlived his use-by date, and the Gülenist movement would be in dire need of a new benefactor.

Cengiz, a former Gülenist, released on the above-mentioned conditions and possible threats, might have introduced herself to Khashoggi as an undercover Gülenist, and she had a history to support her claim. Being a former Gülenist, she might have indeed kept a foot in the Gülenist camp, and with the diminishing support of the American Government to the Gulenist movement, she might have been recruited to source finance. The Gülenists might have eyed Saudi Arabia to take this role, and as the rift between the Saudi royals and Erdogan intensified after their former joint effort to topple the legitimate secular government of Syria, the Gülenists would have found in Al-Saud what represents an enemy of an enemy, and they had to find a way to seek Saudi support against Erdogan. MBS himself would have inadvertently invited the Gülenists to approach him when he announced, back in March 2018 during a visit to the Coptic Pope Tawadros II in Egypt, that the triangle of evil in the Middle East is comprised of Iran, Islamist extremists groups and Turkey, and, in naming Turkey, he obviously meant Erdogan personally. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/03/08/saudi-crown-prince-sees-a-new-axis-of-evil-in-the-middle-east/

Khashoggi, with his expansive connections, looked like a good candidate to introduce the would-be new partners and broker a deal between them.

Back to what may have incited Khashoggi to enter the Saudi Consulate and to why the Saudi Government would have, in that case, given him a safe entry despite his history. Possibly, Khashoggi believed that he had a “big story” to relay to the Saudi Government; one that most likely exposed big time anti-Saudi dirt about Erdogan.

With the Saudi-led Wahhabi version of fundamentalist Islam competing with the Muslim Brotherhood side, politically and militarily headed by Erdogan, it is not far-fetched to believe that either party is conspiring to topple the other. If Khashoggi had a story to this effect, even if it was fake but credible enough for him to believe, it would have given him the impetus to seek an audience at the Saudi Consulate and hence an expectation for the Consulate to positively reciprocate. In reality, given the history and culture involved, it is hard to fathom that any scenario short of this one would have given either Khashoggi and/or the Saudi officials enough reasons to meet in the manner and place they did.

It is highly likely that Saudi officials had several contingency plans for Khashoggi’s visit; depending on its outcome and the information that he had to offer. Those plans might have included giving him a wide range of treatments, ranging from a red carpet reception in Saudi Arabia, to beheading and dismembering him within the Consulate’s grounds. What happened after Khashoggi entered the precinct of the Consulate is fairly muddy and hard to speculate on. If the above speculations thus far have been accurate, then these are the possible scenarios that followed the fateful CCTV coverage of Khashoggi’s entry to the Consulate:

1. It is possible that the Saudi officials in Turkey have had their own contacts with the Gülenists prior to the supposed ground-breaking visit of Khashoggi. In such a case, if the story Khashoggi may have offered did not fall in line with the story the Saudi’s already know, then Khashoggi would have automatically been branded as suspicious and his safe entry would have been revoked. In such a case, he would have walked into his own trap.

2. On the other hand, if Khashoggi indeed gave Saudi authorities vital information, so vital that it clearly is vehemently pro-Gülen, and as Gülen is no longer an American favourite, then upon his return to America he may have become a Saudi liability that can potentially muddy the Saudi-American waters that the Saudis desperately try to keep clear. In such an instance, it would be opportune for the Saudis to finish him off before he could return to America.

3. A third possibility is that some Saudi officials already working covertly with Gülen saw in Khashoggi an already persona non grata, a dangerous Erdogan implant and decided to take action against him.

If any of the above scenarios are accurate, then the role of Erdogan in this story is not that of a scavenger who capitalized on the rift generated between the Saudis and America, but that he was instrumental in conjuring up and orchestrating the whole drama. Erdogan might have subjected the Saudi Government to the Gülen litmus test, and in such a case, the victim is Saudi Arabia and the scavenger is America seeking silence money in lieu of continued protection of Saudi interests.

In all of the above scenarios, Khashoggi would have been driven into the trap by his alleged fiancée and had his impunity revoked by the Saudi officials because he failed the test.

But what triggered him off personally to walk into this possible trap? What was in it for him? Definitely not divorce documents. Most likely, Khashoggi was after amnesty from the Saudi Crown, and this would be a safety concern not only for Khashoggi himself, but also for his family that continued to live in Saudi Arabia. He may well have thought that by providing vital and sensitive information to his government, his previous “sins” would be set aside and he would be treated as a hero, his family would feel safe, despite that fact that he has criticized the Crown Prince in the past.

Arabic media are inundated with posts and YouTube videos that are very damning of Hatice Cengiz. Most of them perhaps are Saudi propaganda and should not be taken for a grain of salt. In reality however, her sudden emergence as Khashoggi’s “fiancée”, the fact that she allegedly waited for nearly 24 hours before reporting his disappearance and her personal, professional and political history are all factors that cast much doubt about her innocence and instead, portray her as a possible key element in the series of events that led to the disappearance of Khashoggi.

Furthermore, why would a person in her position make rules and conditions about meeting the President of the United States of America, even if this President is Donald Trump? How many people in history have refused the invitation of American Presidents? Who does she think she is or who is she trying to portray herself as?

And if Trump is seizing the opportunity to grab MBS, and this time he will be grabbing by the wallet, if Erdogan smells a hint of preparedness of MBS to support Gülen, then Erdogan would want MBS’s wallet and head. Any whichever way, the silver lining of this story is that for once, Saudi Arabia is finally running for cover. Few around the world will give this brutal royal family any sympathy.

There are other rumours spreading in the Arab world now alluding to the removal of MBS from office and passing over the reins to his brother. MBS has committed heinous war crimes in Yemen and has made huge errors of judgment with regard to Syria and Qatar. He made many enemies, and it seems that Erdogan is out to get him.

It does seem possible that the Assad-must-go curse has reached the neck of the Saudi throne.

Imran Khan Has Successfully Exposed Liberalism as Pakistan’s Greatest Enemy

America’s Establishment – the military-industrial complex

During his final address as President of the United States of America, General Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of the development of a military-industrial complex in the following way:

“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government.

We recognise the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted.

Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defence with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together”.

Since Eisenhower’s speech, the US military-industrial complex has become so influential that its policy making role in government is thought to exceed that of elected officials up to and including the head of state. As the country with the world’s most powerful military and strongest economy, this means that not only does the US military-industrial complex threaten democracy in the US but it threatens the peace and freedom of those in other nations whose governments may occasionally quarrel with Washington.

Against this background, it is both absurd and hypocritical for anti-patriotic forces within Pakistan to heap scorn on the young government of Imran Khan and his PTI party under the guise that they are “too close” to Pakistan’s military establishment. In the United States, it has proved to be impossible to even get close to power by promising a revision in the nation’s foreign policy while in Pakistan, PTI proved that a party with a clearly reformist approach to foreign policy making can not only win but in many cases obliterate the vote of the old legacy parties as well as fringe extremist parties.

It is in fact true that Pakistan has a long history of open conflict between civilian governments and what is widely called The Establishment – the military. In July of this year however, a peaceful democratic election signifying only the second ever peaceful transition of power in Pakistan’s history has signalled the early stages of a shift from a policy of confrontation between the Establishment and government to one of cooperation. Before going further, it must be noted that while conflict between the military and elected government is a phenomenon that the international media tends to universally associate with Pakistan, such conflicts transpire in multiple nations with different histories and societal issues.

Turkey

Modern Turkey has a long history of civilian governments in open conflict with the military. In spite of reforms early during Erdogan’s time as Prime Minister to harmonise the relationship between the Turkish Army and elected government, the apogee of conflict between the military and government in Turkey occurred as recently as 2016 when elements of the Fethullah Terror Organisation infiltrated the Army and led an illegal coup against President Erdogan. The result has been an intensified effort by Erdogan and the civilian government to bring to justice those in the Army associated with all forms of anti-government activity. After his recent re-election under new constitutional regulations, Erdogan has made good on his pledge to make the army directly answerable to the president rather than operate as a body that was previously allowed to make public political pronouncements without conclusion with civilian factions.

Egypt

After the US backed de-stabilisation of Egypt in 2011, a Muslim Brotherhood government came to power in Cairo that was directly at odds with the military. In 2013, the military led an ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood’s leader Mohammad Morsi and put General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in power who remains President to this day. While some called Sisi’s rise to power a coup, others point out the reckless incompetence, unpopularity and social extremism of Morsi and his followers. Egypt is clearly a country where mainstream forces all make reasonable arguments both for and against the Army’s strong influence on the country’s national political development.

Pakistan’s light at the end of many tunnels 

Therefore, while Turkey took decades to peacefully harmonise military-civilian government relations and while Egypt has yet to fully do so, Pakistan stands on the verge of peacefully achieving such harmonisation. Furthermore, this was largely accomplished through the ballot box and domestic diplomacy. This is not to imply that the incoming PTI led coalition government of Pakistan is “subservient” to the Army as some of PTI’s domestic detractors have said for obvious enough self-serving reasons. Neither is it to say that Fatima Bhutto (whose relations with a powerful Pakistani political family are minimised by the Guardian’s editors) is correct in stating that “Imran Khan is only a player in the circus run by Pakistan’s military” as she recently did in Britain’s ultra-liberal Guardian newspaper.

In reality, Pakistan is maturing into a state where both the military and civilian leaders are increasing cooperating for the benefit of the nation, just as is the case within all three major superpowers where open schisms between the military and government are largely unheard of. While all such moves in any nation are bound to have growing pains, the fact of the matter is that Pakistan’s leaders are embarking on a new era of national unity – something that is necessary in order to ensure peace and prosperity for future generations. Therefore, less open antagonism between the government and military in Pakistan should be welcomed rather than be subject to conspiracy theories and wild speculation disguised as analysis.

Pakistan has a real enemy within and it is not The Establishment 

With PTI is moving to modernise and harmonise the government’s relationship with the Establishment on a legal and win-win basis, Imran Khan’s transformation from opposition leader to statesman has laid bear the face of the true enemy within. In Pakistan, Imran Khan’s critics have sunk to new lows in their ever more frequent gossip column style criticism of the new Prime Minister. Before Imran has even settled into his new desk, his critics are already proclaiming the PTI led government a failure in a manner that only serves the foreign enemies of the Pakistani people and which in turns threatens the unity and survival of the state.

But while Imran Khan’s opponents continue to hurl stones within a glass house, they fail to realise that in shrieking about their own country’s supposed inferiority under the prying eyes of India, Afghanistan and The United States, they do not realise that when compared with other nations, Pakistan’s problems are not unique. To say otherwise is to fall into the trap of the colonial mentality which in the last election doomed the PML-N and PPP to electoral failure.

Liberal Pakistanis complain about the country’s blasphemy laws and the fact that PTI has no plans to change such laws. Meanwhile, such forces ignore the fact that in the countries of Europe and North America – countries which face a substantially low terrorist threat vis-a-vis Pakistan, legislators are hastily drafting new laws to censor criticism of just about any social trend ranging from feminism to sectarian politics. While Pakistani laws defend the country’s historical religious traditions, western governments are passing laws to protect the pagan gods of the west – the totemic ramparts of ultra-liberalism. Thus, Pakistan’s blasphemy laws should not be viewed in a vacuum and should certainly never be seen as more dangerous than the decrepit state of Indian society in which Muslims are being openly lynched with the support of members of the ruling political party simply for going about their daily business in peace. Until western hypocrisy and Indian mob rule are addressed, there is little point in growing hysterical over Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

Liberal Pakistanis then complain about press freedom before realising that Pakistan actually has some of the freest political speech in the world.

In an age where US corporate media, European corporate and state media and the Indian government all look to clamp down on free speech, Pakistan remains a place whose levels of political free speech are staggeringly high. Whether on Urdu, English or provincial language media, Pakistanis can say almost anything they want about almost anyone they want and for the most part it is all done in relative peace.

When the PTI government announced a further step to free Pakistan’s already highly open media it was clear that existing trends will only improve under the leadership of Imran Khan While private media outlets have long had editorial freedoms, according to a recent statement from Pakistan’s Information Minister Chaudhary Fawad Hussain, now even state owned media will be given full editorial freedom.

As per vision of @ImranKhanPTI Ended political censorship on PTV, clear instructions issued for a complete editorial independence on PTV and Radio Pakistan, drastic changes ll be visible in Information Dept in coming 3 months Inshallah — Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) August 21, 2018

This means that if fully realised, Pakistan’s private and state owned media will be more free to criticise the government than both private and state owned media outlets in many European countries where opposition views are increasingly shunned or derided as “fake”.

The real fight for Pakistan’s future 

Imran Khan has drawn the liberal werewolves out of their hiding places and has thus exposed the real enemies of social and economic progress in Pakistan to be liberal forces who see it fit to criticise every element of Pakistani society without cessation. Such people take perverse delight in blaming the Establishment for doing that which it does not do while summarily ignoring how the US military-industrial complex is vastly more powerful than Pakistan’s Establishment ever was. Likewise, Pakistan’s liberal fifth column somehow believe that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are unusual while similar things either already exist or are being legally erected in the countries who join Pakistan’s home grown liberals in heaping scorn on a nation being antagonised both on its eastern and western borders.

What good is it to be on guard against terrorism from Afghanistan and India if Pakistan’s own liberal fifth column continues to scapegoat the nation itself for every problem under the sun. Pakistan does have problems and most of these problems are not unique to Pakistan. What is however unique is the agility with which supposed patriots of Pakistan do more for the country’s foreign enemies than the foreign enemies themselves could ever hope to achieve.

By increasing the amplification of these anti-national voices in so far as his presence seems to agitate them into fits of Pakistan hating hysteria, Imran Khan has already proved why he is in the best position to fight this enemy within and secure a better internal and external future for Pakistan.

By Adam Garrie
Source: Eurasia Future

What’s Behind the US-Turkey Rift?

Unrelated to Pastor Brunson Imprisoned in Turkey

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Imprisoned in Turkey since October 2016 on charges of involvement in the failed months earlier coup attempt against President Erdogan, the Trump regime’s demand for Andrew Brunson’s release conceals what’s really behind the US/Turkey rift.

It’s all about what Michel Chossudovsky calls a “Russia-Turkey-Iran ‘triple entente,’” – growing Ankara ties with Washington’s main adversaries.

The US doesn’t give a hoot about the safety and well-being of its ordinary citizens at home or when abroad – only its privileged ones, no others.

Turkey is a key NATO member, its military second largest in the alliance to Washington’s.

The Trump regime wants Erdogan allied with its anti-Russia, anti-Iran agenda. He rejects US sanctions on both countries, intends maintaining normal political and economic relations.

Days earlier, Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu said his government

“never supported any sanctions against Russia. We have already said that we are not going to support sanctions against Iran either.”

He called on the Trump regime to rescind sanctions on Turkey, adding

“(t)hey must drop their threats, otherwise there can be no progress in (bilateral) relations.”

His relationship with Washington deteriorated in the wake of the aborted 2016 coup attempt.

He blamed it on ex-pat cleric Fethullah Gulen, living in Pennsylvania. Washington refuses to extradite him. No evidence indicates his involvement in what happened. He denies accusations against him.

While his relations with America soured, they’ve grown stronger with Russia since a Turkish F-16 downed a Russian Su-24 warplane in Syrian airspace in November 2015.

His political and economic ties to Moscow and Tehran are growing. Washington treats Turkey as both ally (in NATO) and Eurasian adversary.

Erdogan is playing the Russia/Iran, and US cards simultaneously, increasingly shifting his allegiance East, away from the West – another body blow to Washington’s imperial agenda.

On August 17, Trump disgracefully tweeted:

“Turkey has taken advantage of the United States for many years. They are now holding our wonderful Christian Pastor, who I must now ask to represent our Country as a great patriot hostage. We will pay nothing for the release of an innocent man, but we are cutting back on Turkey!”

On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin threatened more US sanctions on Turkey on top of others imposed “if they don’t release (Brunson) quickly.”

Erdogan’s foreign minister Cavusoglu responded, saying

“(t)he US does not know, it cannot see who its true friend is. We can easily solve problems with the US but not with its current mindset.”

Both countries sharply increased tariffs on each other’s products – on Turkish steel and aluminum, on US alcohol, tobacco and vehicles.

Ankara began selling off US sovereign debt, reduced from $32.6 – $28.8 billion in June, according to a US Treasury report. In November 2017, Turkey held $61.2 billion worth of US treasuries, less than half that amount now.

In 2018, Russia dumped over 80% of its US sovereign debt holdings, holding less than $15 billion now.

The Trump regime slammed Ankara’s agreement with Russia to buy its S-400 missile defense systems. It threatened non-delivery of contracted for US F-35s to its military.

Erdogan expressed ire over US support for Kurdish YPG fighters in northern Syria he wants removed or eliminated near Turkey’s border.

Washington wants all nations bending to its will. Erdogan’s support for what the Trump regime opposes lies at the root of the deep rift between both countries.

It’s got nothing to do with pastor Brunson the Trump regime didn’t give a hoot about until recent weeks.

*

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Escalation in Syria – how far can the Russians be pushed?

February 16, 2018

[This analysis was written for the Unz Review]

Events in Syria have recently clearly taken a turn for the worse and there is an increasing amount of evidence that the Russian task force in Syria is being targeted by a systematic campaign of “harassing attacks”.

First, there was the (relatively successful) drone and mortar attack on the Russian Aerospace base in Khmeimin. Then there was the shooting down of a Russian SU-25 over the city of Maasran in the Idlib province. Now we hear of Russian casualties in the US raid on a Syrian column (along with widely exaggerated claims of “hundreds” of killed Russians). In the first case, Russian officials did openly voice their strong suspicion that the attack was if not planned and executed by the USA, then at least coordinated with the US forces in the vicinity. In the case of the downing of the SU-25, no overt accusations have been made, but many experts have stated that the altitude at which the SU-25 was hit strongly suggests a rather modern MANPAD of a type not typically seen in Syria (the not so subtle hint being here that these were US Stingers sent to the Kurds by the USA). As for the latest attack on the Syrian column, what is under discussion is not who did it but rather what kind of Russian personnel was involved, Russian military or private contractors (the latter is a much more likely explanation since the Syrian column had no air-cover whatsoever). Taken separately, none of these incidents mean very much but taken together they might be indicative of a new US strategy in Syria: to punish the Russians as much as possible short of an overt US attack on Russian forces. To me this hypothesis seems plausible for the following reasons:

First, the USA and Israel are still reeling in humiliation and impotent rage over their defeat in Syria: Assad is still in power, Daesh is more or less defeated, the Russians were successful not only their military operations against Daesh but also in their campaign to bring as many “good terrorists” to the negotiating table as possible. With the completion of a successful conference on Syria in Russia and the general agreement of all parties to begin working on a new constitution, there was a real danger of peace breaking out, something the AngloZionist are absolutely determined to oppose (check out this apparently hacked document which, if genuine, clearly states the US policy not to allow the Russian to get anything done).

Second, both Trump and Netanyahu have promised to bring in lots of “victories” to prove how manly and strong they are (as compared to the sissies which preceded them). Starting an overt war against Russian would definitely be a “proof of manhood”, but a much too dangerous one. Killing Russians “on the margins”, so to speak, either with plausible deniability or, alternatively, killing Russians private contractors is much safer and thus far more tempting option.

Third, there are presidential elections coming up in Russia and the US Americans are still desperately holding on to their sophomoric notion that if they create trouble for Putin (sanctions or body bags from Syria) they can somehow negatively impact his popularity in Russia (in reality they achieve the opposite effect, but they are too dull and ignorant to realize that).

Last but not least, since the AngloZionist have long lost the ability to actually getting anything done, their logical fall-back position is not let anybody else succeed either. This is the main purpose of the entire US deployment in northern Syria: to create trouble for Turkey, Iran, Syria and, of course, Russia.

The bottom line is this: since the US Americans have declared that they will (illegally) stay in Syria until the situation “stabilizes” they now must do everything their power to destabilize Syria. Yes, there is a kind of a perverse logic to all that…

For Russia, all this bad news could be summed up in the following manner: while Russia did defeat Daesh in Syria she is still far from having defeated the AngloZionists in the Middle-East. The good news is, however, that Russia does have options to deal with this situation.

Step one: encouraging the Turks

There is a counter-intuitive but in many ways an ideal solution for Russia to counter the US invasion of Syria: involve the Turks. How? Not by attacking the US forces directly, but by attacking the Kurdish militias the US Americans are currently “hiding” behind (at least politically). Think of it, while the US (or Israel) will have no second thoughts whatsoever before striking Syrian or Iranian forces, actually striking Turkish forces would carry an immense political risk: following the US-backed coup attempt against Erdogan and, just to add insult to injury, the US backing for the creation of a “mini-Kurdistsan” both in Iraq and in Syria, US-Turkish relations are at an all-time low and it would not take much to push the Turks over the edge with potentially cataclysmic consequences for the US, EU, NATO, CENTCOM, Israel and all the AngloZionist interests in the region. Truly, there is no overstating the strategic importance of Turkey for Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle-East, and the US Americans know that. From this flows a very real if little understood consequence: the Turkish armed forces in Syria basically enjoy what I would call a “political immunity” from any US attacks, that is to say that (almost) no matter what the Turks do, the US would (almost) never consider actually openly using force against them simply because the consequence of, say, a USAF strike on a Turkish army column would be too serious to contemplate.

In fact, I believe that the US-Turkish relationship is so bad and so one-sided that I see a Turkish attack on a Kurdish (or “good terrorist”) column/position with embedded US Special Forces far more likely than a US attack on a Turkish army column. This might sound counter-intuitive, but let’s say the Turks did attack a Kurdish (or “good terrorist”) column/position with US personnel and that US servicemen would die as the result. What would/could the US do? Retaliate in kind? No way! Not only is the notion of the US attacking a fellow NATO country member is quite unthinkable, it would most likely be followed by a Turkish demand that the US/NATO completely withdraw from Turkey’s territory and airspace. In theory, the US could ask the Israelis to do their dirty job for them, but the Israelis are not stupid (even if they are crazy) and they won’t have much interest in starting a shooting war with Turkey over what is a US-created problem in a “mini-Kurdistan”, lest any hallowed “Jewish blood” be shed for some basically worthless goyim.

No, if the Turks actually killed US servicemen there would be protests and a flurry of “consultations” and other symbolic actions, but beyond that, the US would take the losses and do nothing about it. As for Erdogan, his popularity at home would only soar even higher. What all this means in practical terms is that if there is one actor which can seriously disrupt the US operations in northern Syria, or even force the US to withdraw, it is Turkey. That kind of capability also gives Turkey a lot of bargaining power with Russia and Iran which I am sure Erdogan will carefully use to his own benefit. So far Erdogan has only threatened to deliver an “Ottoman slap” to the USA and Secretary of State Tillerson is traveling to Ankara to try to avert a disaster, but the Turkish instance that the USA chose either the Turkish or the Kurdish side in the conflict very severely limits the chances of any real breakthrough (the Israel lobby being 100% behind the Kurds). One should never say never, but I submit that it would take something of a miracle at this point to really salvage the US-Turkish relationship. Russia can try to capitalize on this dynamic.

The main weakness of this entire concept is, of course, that the USA is still powerful enough, including inside Turkey, and it would be very dangerous for Erdogan to try to openly confront and defy Uncle Sam. So far, Erdogan has been acting boldly and in overt defiance of the USA, but he also understands the risks of going too far and for him to even consider taking such risks there have to be prospects of major benefits from him. Here the Russians have two basic options: either to promise the Turks something very inciting or to somehow further deteriorate the current relationship between the US and Turkey. The good news here is that Russian efforts to drive a wedge between the US and Turkey are be greatly assisted by the US support for Israel, Kurds, and Gulenists.

The other obvious risk is that any anti-Kurdish operation can turn into yet another partition of Syria, this time by the Turks. However, the reality is that the Turks can’t really stay for too long in Syria, especially not if Russia and Iran oppose this. There is also the issue of international law which is much easier for the USA to ignore than for the Turks.

For all these reasons using the Turks to put pressure on the USA has its limitations. Still, if the Turks continue to insist that the USA stop supporting the Kurds, or if they continue putting military pressure on the Kurdish militias, then the entire US concept of a US-backed “mini-Kurdistan” collapses and, with it, the entire US partition plan for Syria.

So far, the Iraqis have quickly dealt with the US-sponsored “mini-Kurdistan” in Iraq and the Turks are now taking the necessary steps to deal with the US-sponsored “mini-Kurdistan” in Syria at which point *their* problem will be solved. The Turks are not interested in helping Assad or, for that matter, Putin and they don’t care what happens to Syria as long as *their* Kurdish problem is under control. This means that the Syrians, Russians, and Iranians should not place too much hope on the Turks turning against the USA unless, of course, the correct circumstances are created. Only the future will tell whether the Russians and the Iranians will be able to help to create such circumstances.

Step two: saturating Syria with mobile modern short/middle range air defenses

Right now nobody knows what kind of air-defense systems the Russians have been delivering to the Syrians over the past couple of years, but that is clearly the way to go for the Russians: delivering as many modern and mobile air defense systems to the Syrians. While this would be expensive, the best solution here would be to deliver as many Pantsir-S1 mobile Gun/SAM systems and 9K333 Verba MANPADs as possible to the Syrians and the Iranians. The combination of these two systems would immensely complicate any kind of air operations for the US Americans and Israelis, especially since there would be no practical way of reliably predicting the location from which they could operate. And since both the USA and Israel are operating in the Syrian skies in total violation of international law while the Syrian armed forces would be protecting their own sovereign airspace, such a delivery of air-defense systems by Russia to Syria would be impeccably legal. Best of all, it would be absolutely impossible for the AngloZionist to know who actually shot at them since these weapon systems are mobile and easy to conceal. Just like in Korea, Vietnam or Lebanon, Russian crews could even be sent to operate the Syrian air defense systems and there would be no way for anybody to prove that “the Russians did it” when US and Israeli aircraft would start falling out of the skies. The Russians would enjoy what the CIA calls “plausible deniability”. The US Americans and Israelis would, of course, turn against the weaker party, the Syrians, but that other than feeling good that would not really make a difference on the ground as the Syrians skies would not become safer for US or Israelis air forces.

The other option for the Russians would be to offer upgrades (software and missile) to the existing Syrian air defense systems, especially their road-mobile 2K12 Kub and 9K37 Buk systems. Such upgrades, especially if combined with enough deployed Pantsirs and Verbas would be a nightmare for both the US Americans and the Israelis. The Turks would not care much since they are already basically flying with the full approval of the Russians anyway, and neither would the Iranians who, as far as I know, have no air operations in Syria.

One objection to this plan would be that two can play this game and that there is nothing preventing the USA from sending even more advanced MANPADs to their “good terrorist” allies, but that argument entirely misses the point: if both sides do the same thing, the side which is most dependent on air operations (the USA) stands to lose much more than the side which has the advantage on the ground (the Russians). Furthermore, by sending MANPADs to Syria, the USA is alienating a putative ally, Turkey, whereas if Russia sends MANPADs and other SAMs to Syria the only one who will be complaining will be the Israelis. When that happens, the Russians will have a simple and truthful reply: we did not start this game, your US allies did, you can go and thank them for this mess.

The main problem in Syria is the fact that the US and the Israelis are currently operating in the Syrian skies with total impunity. If this changes, this will be a slow and gradual process. First, there would be a few isolated losses (like the Israeli F-16 recently), then we would see that the location of US and/or Israeli airstrikes would gradually shit from urban centers and central command posts to smaller, more isolated targets (such as vehicle columns). This would indicate an awareness that the most lucrative targets are already too well defended. Eventually, the number of air sorties would be gradually replaced by cruise and ballistic missiles strikes. Underlying it all would be a shift from offensive air operations to force protection which, in turn, would give the Syrians, Iranians, and Hezbollah a much easier environment to operate in. But the necessary first step for any of that to happen would be to dramatically increase the capability of Syrian air defenses.

Hezbollah has, for decades, very successfully operated under a total Israelis air supremacy and their experience of this kind of operations would be invaluable to the Syrians until they sufficiently built up their air defense capabilities.

Conclusion: is counter-escalation really the only option?

Frankly, I am starting to believe that the Empire has decided to attempt upon a partial “reconquista” of Syria, even Macron is making some noises about striking the Syrians to “punish” them for their use of (non-existing) chemical weapons. At the very least, the USA wants to make the Russians pay as high a price as possible for their role in Syria. Further US goals in Syria include:

  • The imposition of a de-facto partition of Syria by taking under control the Syrian territory east of the Euphrates river (we could call that “plan C version 3.0”)
  • The theft of the gas fields located in northeastern Syria
  • The creation of a US-controlled staging area from which Kurdish, good terrorist and bad terrorist operations can be planned and executed
  • The sabotaging of any Russian-backed peace negotiations
  • The support for Israeli operations against Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon and Syria
  • Engaging in regular attacks against Syrian forces attempting to liberate their country from foreign invaders
  • Presenting the invasion and occupation of Syria as one of the “victories” promised by Trump to the MIC and the Israel lobby

So far the Russian response to this developing strategy has been a rather a passive one and the current escalation strongly suggests that a new approach might be needed. The shooting down of the Israeli F-16 is a good first step, but much more needs to be done to dramatically increase the costs the Empire will have to pay for is policies towards Syria. The increase in the number of Russian commentators and analysts demanding a stronger reaction to the current provocations might be a sign that something is in the making.

The Saker

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