Turkey

This Week in Doom Oct. 14: Getting Away with Murder


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on October 14, 2018

“I have left my home, my family and my job, and am raising my voice. To do otherwise would betray those who languish in prison. I can speak when so many cannot… Saudi Arabia has not always been as it is now. We Saudis deserve better.”

 ― Jamal Khashoggi  


This was a week in which Hurricane Michael made landfall as a Cat 4 in the Florida Panhandle, and flattened Panama City and erased Mexico Beach. As of this writing, the crack SWAT teams of the Trump Administration had mustered a post-Maria Puerto Rican-style recovery effort, meaning that aside from the Red Cross, residents are on their own. We learned that Sears, once the largest retailer in the world, is closing hundreds of stores under the guidance of designated looter Fast Eddie Lampert. As Sears stores fail, Fast Eddie's real estate company buys out their leases and re-rents the space to flea markets and crack dealers, thus improving the American suburb. The Trump administration is weighing new family separation efforts at the borders.

A West Virginia politician who told liberals to “get you’re [sic] coathangers [sic] ready” in preparation for the overturning of abortion rights by the Supreme Court is now being sued for calling a psychologist a pedophile for defending LGBTQ kids. A newly discovered long and craggy rift is splintering across West Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier, ready to split off. Illinois and Georgia are actively engaged in voter suppression. A five-year-old was detained at the border and persuaded to sign away her rights, as the Trump administration actively considers new family separation measures. New reports indicate that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is now being investigated for possible perjury charges by Chief Justice John Roberts. But the most compelling story of the week is that a journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, entered a Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey and never emerged.


Who is Jamal Khashoggi and Why Should We Care?

The disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2 and allegations of foul play have inspired outrage. According to Wikipedia, Jamal Khashoggi was most recently a Washington Post columnist, and had a long career as a Saudi journalist,  author, and progressive voice in the Arab world. Khashoggi fled Saudi Arabia in 2017 after the government banned him from Twitter, and afterwards wrote newspaper articles critical of the Saudi government, the crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, and the country's king, Salman of Saudi Arabia. He also opposed the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen.

Anonymous Turkish police sources have alleged that he was murdered and dismembered inside the consulate.[8][9] The Saudi government claims that Khashoggi left the consulate alive, through a rear entrance,[10] but Turkish police say that no CCTV recorded him exiting the consulate.[11]

Turkish government officials allege that Saudi government officials lured Khashoggi to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul with the intention of harming him—and that there are video and audio recordings proving that after he was beaten, tortured and killed inside the Consulate, the body was dismembered. Some reports have it that Khashoggi recorded his own death via his Apple watch, connected to a mobile phone left outside. Whether this is true, or is Turkish disinfo to prevent disclosure of their own spying methods is unclear. 

So the Saudi regime had motive for Khashoggi's disappearance, as detailed in this article:  What You Should Know About Khashoggi: 5 Key Facts. It suggests reasons that the Saudis– and the Trumps who love them– may have the journalist's blood on their hands.

None of this is yet confirmed. But increasingly it seems that the Saudi crown prince, better known as M.B.S., condoned the torture, assassination and dismemberment of an American-based journalist using diplomatic premises in a NATO country. As a New York Times article has it,

Trump has expressed “great confidence” in M.B.S. and said that he and King Salman “know exactly what they are doing.” Jared Kushner wooed M.B.S. and built a close relationship with him — communicating privately without involving State Department experts — in ways that certainly assisted M.B.S. in his bid to consolidate power for himself.

The bipartisan cheers from Washington, Silicon Valley and Wall Street fed his recklessness. If he could be feted after kidnapping a Lebanese prime minister and slaughtering Yemeni children, why expect a fuss for murdering a mere journalist?

For their part, the Saudis are blaming the western press and the Qataris. Saudi Media Casts Khashoggi Disappearance as a Conspiracy, Claims Qatar Owns Washington Post. Saudi Arabia’s interior minister has condemned the accusations as  “lies and baseless allegations,”  according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency. Predictably, Trump's first thought was about money: "I know [Senators] are talking about different kinds of sanctions, but [the Saudis] are spending $110 billion on military equipment and on things that create jobs for this country." Trump also declared the US will uncover the truth about what happened to Khashoggi, inspiring the same faith as did O.J. Simpson when he pledged to devote the rest of his life to tracking down "the real killers."

Meanwhile, we are all supposed to forget how the Saudi royals are said to have Pampered Princeling Jared Kushner's balls on a keychain. Who should be surprised they act with such impunity?


This week marks the continuation of open season on journalists with no bag limit. In a little noticed trend, it’s been a deadly year for journalists, even in democratic countries where press freedom is nominally an essential part of civil society.

Journalist Victoria Marinova brutally murdered in Bulgaria

Victoria Marinova, a 30-year-old Bulgarian journalist working for regional TV channel TVN, was brutally killed last week in the city of Ruse, located in the north of the country. She is the fourth journalist killed in the EU since 2017 after Kim Wall in Denmark, Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta and Jan Kuciak in Slovakia. 

According to local media reports, her body was found in an area of ​​difficult access, near the Danube river bank. The victim was allegedly raped, beaten and then strangled. She was beaten with such violence that her face was unrecognizable, so she was not identified until last night.

She had recently interviewed two other journalists were arrested last month by Bulgarian police while investigating destruction of documents allegedly revealing corrupt practices by a private road construction company. Dead men (and women) tell no tales.

Khashoggi and Marinova are just this week's casualties in a worrisome trend. At least 43 journalists have been killed around the world thus far in 2018 as a result of their work, according to the Committee to Project Journalists. That number is outpacing last year, and does not include 17 other deaths where motive has not been confirmed. 

Part of the authoritarian playbook has been to discredit journalists and others who shine light on deeds best perpetrated in darkness. Thus, Khashoggi’s Blood Is On Donald Trump’s Hands.

In July, met with A.G. Sulzberger, publisher of The New York Times, the paper most often called out by the  Orange Fraud’s years-long effort to delegitimize the U.S. press. In a statement memorializing the White House meeting, Sulzberger said he had gone to the White House to warn Trump: His vicious criticisms of the American press, especially the description of journalists as the “enemy of the people,” would likely result in  deadly results for reporters.

“I repeatedly stressed that this is particularly true abroad, where the president’s rhetoric is being used by some regimes to justify sweeping crackdowns on journalists. I warned that it was putting lives at risk, that it was undermining the democratic ideals of our nation, and that it was eroding one of our country’s greatest exports: a commitment to free speech and a free press.”

And here we are. Memory being the liberal superpower, we can remember a few months ago when a crazed gunman shot up the Capital Gazette. With Khashoggi, Sulzberger’s warning has shown that Trump's authoritarian act has traveled overseas, such that a journalist who lives in the U.S. and writes for a major American newspaper can be executed with impunity.

The National Memo article cited above puts it exact:

It’s difficult to overstate the brazenness of the Saudis’ alleged actions in targeting a U.S. resident who writes for an American paper while he was in a NATO country.

It seems unlikely that the Saudi regime — dependent as it is on the U.S., and on the Trump administration specifically — would have tried to kidnap or kill Khashoggi if its rulers thought it would upset Trump. But as Sulzberger warned, Trump’s derision toward reporters gave every indication that he didn’t care. And since Khashoggi’s disappearance, Trump has signaled his ongoing apathy. The message the president is sending to dictators around the world is that it is open season on dissident journalists.

Past presidents, aware of the danger of signaling such indifference, might have reacted with outraged statements and a promise of dire consequences for the regime that dared to commit such a crime. A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has tried to lay down such a marker, threatening sanctions against the highest levels of the Saudi government if it turns out to be implicated in Khashoggi’s disappearance.

But Trump’s vision of U.S. foreign policy is fundamentally transactional, looking with favor on despots like Crown Prince Mohammed who cater to his whims and sign hefty contracts for U.S. arms, while scorning our democratic allies for not paying “their fair share of common defense costs.”

There is a direct and unmistakable link between Trump’s anti-press rhetoric against journalists and Saudi actions. Since Trump hates journalists, the Saudis may have bet that he wouldn't mind they killed one. Unless Trump and his administration change course and make it clear selective murder of reporters is unacceptable, expect the trend to continue. With authoritarianism ascendant, who is truly safe?


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

It Only Gets Worse

TriangleofDoomgc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of Steve Ludlum

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Published on the Economic Undertow on September 20, 2016

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Carl von Clausewitz famously remarked, “War is the continuation of policy by other means … ” What do the experts at the New York Times say?

Syria’s Paradox: Why the War Only Ever Seems to Get Worse

 

 

 

 

 

What is true for Syria is true for everything else. The economy only ever seems to get worse. Business and trade only ever seem to get worse. The state of the environment is flat-out getting worse no ‘seems to’ about it; much more of our precious industrial ‘prosperity’ and our world will be reduced to barren rocks surrounded by raging oceans of poisonous slime, an ‘out-world’ from a sci-fi novel. Our social- and political discourse only ever seems to get worse … our media … our public services. In our rapidly unfolding Age of Less, ‘Worse’ is the corollary. Heaven help us when we get to worst, we’ll be looking back at the Syria war as a kind of Golden Age.

Experts on civil wars say there are several reasons Syria is
“a really, really tough case” that defies historical parallels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a basic fact about Syria’s civil war that never seems to change: It frustrates any attempt at resolution.

Despite many offensives, peace conferences and foreign interventions, including this week’s Turkish incursion into a border town, the only needle that ever seems to move is the one measuring the suffering of Syrians — which only worsens.

Academic research on civil wars, taken together, reveals why. The average such conflict now lasts about a decade, twice as long as Syria’s so far. But there are a handful of factors that can make them longer, more violent and harder to stop. Virtually all are present in Syria.

Many stem from foreign interventions that were intended to end the war but have instead entrenched it in a stalemate in which violence is self-reinforcing and the normal avenues for peace are all closed.

The fact that the underlying battle is multiparty rather than two-sided also works against resolution.

 

 

 

 

 

The experts’ conclusion in twenty-five words or less: there is indeed a war, it’s a big one, it has many adversaries arrayed against each other and it is likely to get worse. The subtext is ‘lucky for us Syria is safely out of sight’. This is the same subtext behind the endless barrage of marketing for the Pentagon and its minions. “Thank you for your service,” means ‘thanks for starting and fighting your endless, stupid wars somewhere far away.’

The experts never mention resource depletion and the battle over what little remains. In the conversation about wars that get worse, anyone bringing up limits is a Luddite consigning the human race to living in caves

Other experts weigh in … offering more of the same. It turns out experts are one of our corrosive, undermining problems; there are too many of them, they intermediate everything, or rather they insert their all-knowing intermediation into every aspect of our lives. Our economies are managed by bankers and economists, the environment by business executives and process engineers, foreign policy by think tanks and shadowy, unaccountable ‘intelligence’ agencies, by diplomats and generals and their staffs of sub-contracted experts … sorcerers’ apprentices and their armies of mop-slaves.

The professionals always seem to begin well, there are reasons why they become experts in the first place. Soon enough, they falter and then they are stuck; they have done their worst already they have nothing more to offer. All that remains is for them to throw up their hands and ‘rationalize’ which is expert jargon for ‘lie’. “Thank me for my service, suckers!”

The Syria war like all the others is the product of experts, their prescription is always more of what has failed already. According to them the war in Syria is about the war in Syria and nothing else. Obviously the experts cannot conclude they- or their fellows are at fault because doing so would call into question the entire enterprise. Expertise pursues it own internal logic, the perpetuation of the status quo in a kind of self- suspending animation until the problem — or the experts themselves — fade away, lose interest, become senile and die of old age.

Expertise is a form of marketing. The experts’ job is to craft narrative myths that ‘sell’ American-style material progress: more and more modernity, more cars and diversions, more real estate, consumer goods and services … Experts are actors, their first job is to conform to public expectations, ‘as seen on TV”. By so doing, the expert fixes his place within the culture while the materialist culture’s supremacy is reinforced at the same time.

Given the relationship between war and politics one would think the experts would put the players into some sort of political context. After all, politics is the art of resolution. Instead, they dance around the subject or leave it out of the conversation altogether as if it is distasteful. Politics is the dog that doesn’t bark; a Vatican convocation where Jesus is never mentioned; dying patients surrounded by doctors who cannot bring themselves to make a diagnosis. Part of the confusion is ‘the fog of war’; participants have little- or no idea what is going on right in front of them. Analysts have perspective that comes with distance but must rely on second- and third hand material. What appears in the media including the social networks is public relations intended to serve business interests. The Syria war is among the first taking place in real time on Twitter and YouTube, untangling trends from the background noise and red herrings becomes a labor of the gods. There are endless, conflicting ‘official versions’ layered with wishful thinking and the purposefully malign indifference of corporate marketing.

Meanwhile, around the corner, over the horizon and through the forest of trees lurks reality and its invisible, entropic, smashing hand. Reality is never hard to see, but like the nameless horrors of H P Lovecraft, one must be able to bear looking at it. We never do, we’d rather look at the pretty pictures, instead:

This *simple* chart shows all states of hostility currently being played out on ’s territory

 

Nice color scheme by Charles Lister, a bona-fide Middle East Expert! Can a six-figure Defense Department hire be far off? Here is another version from CNN, they both say ‘there is a war in Syria’: Dudes, we know that already!

screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-7-17-26-pm

Figure 1: Syrian combatants tastefully arranged in a circle by CNN, Note the central position of Islamic State. The graphics restate the obvious — and nothing else. Meanwhile, experts are busy creating more problems, all of which require more ‘expert’ solutions.

 

Comparison of Combatants 1

Figure 2: click on the image or on this link to bring up the full-size version in a new tab, (.pdf alert). If this looks familiar, it should be, it’s been used previously, courtesy of economist Ha-Joon Chang.

The chart is more or less self-explanatory: to the side are the countries involved along with non-state actors or ‘interests’. The global superpowers are at the top with militants toward the bottom. In between are regional powers such as Iran and Israel, the ‘in-theater states’ including Turkey, and the ‘innocent bystanders’, Lebanon and Jordan. Excluded for arbitrary reasons are Libyans, Iranian Kurds, Palestinians and Yemenis. They are engaged in related struggles but not within the Syria-Iraq theater.

Across the top are categories; what the countries and interests intend to gain by fighting; the overall cost up to and including national bankruptcy; what the nation or group ‘sells’ or offers as blandishments to its subjects and others; the political system of the enterprise and what it envisions for Syria or other areas of control. The final category is each country’s economy … all the above formatted into a table that is viewable on the web page!

Comparing Combatants in Syria – Iraq Theater

 

 

COUNTRIES –

 

 

 

 

 

INTERESTS

 

 

WHAT THEY INTEND TO GAIN COST WHAT THEY OFFER GOVERNMENT: CURRENT | PROPOSED ECONOMY
USA Arms sales. To destabilize region to import consumption Operational expenses & loss of influence Transient tactical advantage for no one in particular Corporate plutocracy / None Capital destruction – consumption / Ponzi finance
EC – UK Arms sales, thwart militant attacks on the Continent Irrelevance; expanses related to managing migrant influx Homeland for migrants Corporate plutocracy / None Capital destruction – consumption / Ponzi finance
RUSSIA Arms sales, increased international prestige Bankruptcy of Russia Transient tactical advantages for Syrian – Assad government Single party police state ‘Tyrant on a stick’ (TOAS) / Single party police state (TOAS) Petro-state
IRAN Regional hegemony vs. Saudi Arabia, strategic advantage vs. Israel Bankruptcy of Iran Transient tactical advantages for Syrian – Assad government Sectarian dictatorship (TOAS) / Single party police state (TOAS) Petro-state
SAUDI ARABIA Regional hegemony vs. Iran Bankruptcy of Saudi Arabia, civil war Funds, weapons, political cover, tactical advantages for anti-Assad forces Sectarian monarchy (TOAS) / Single party police state Petro-state
QATAR Collaborator w/ junior partner of Saudi Arabia Bankruptcy of Qatar Funds for militants, ideological support Sectarian monarchy (TOAS) / Single party police state Petro-state
ISRAEL Destabilize rivals – neighbor states Unknown Nothing Republic trending toward single party police state / None Capital destruction – consumption / Ponzi finance
SYRIA Perpetual rule by hereditary tyrant Total destruction of the country ‘Stability myth’ Genocidal single party police state (TOAS) / Genocidal single party police state (TOAS) Post-peak oil petro-state / agrarian
IRAQ Control over territory and resources (by factions) Partition of the country of the country into three components & operational expenses Sectarian intolerance Effectively partitioned ‘IRAQ’ is an Iranian protectorate – fake republic / Various – None Petro-state(s)
TURKEY Organic fuel supply by way of a protectorate including Syria and Northern Iraq Bankruptcy of Turkey, civil war and partition Sanction for genocide (by way of proxies) Sectarian single party police state (TOAS) / Neo-Ottoman satrapy sectarian police state(s) Capital destruction – consumption / Ponzi finance
JORDAN Repulse jihadi militant inroads, resolve refugee crisis Operational and refugee management expenses Nothing Old-school constitutional monarch / None Capital destruction – consumption / Ponzi finance
LEBANON Repulse jihadi militant inroads, resolve refugee crisis Political instability, refugee management expenses Nothing Quasi- republic (see Hezbollah) / None Capital destruction – consumption / Ponzi finance
ISLAMIC STATE Control fuel supply in Syria – Northern Iraq (for Turkey) Destruction of its basis of support ‘Fake’ political – religious legitimacy Warlord on a stick | ‘Sharia’ type warlord state Outright theft
NON-ISIS JIHADIS, FSA Replace current Syrian government (acting for Turkey, KSA, US, Qatar) Destruction of its basis of popular support Nothing Warlord(s) on a stick | ‘Sharia’ type warlord state Proxies of external powers w/ external funding
HEZBOLLAH Become Shia sectarian successor to Assad’s ‘Baathist’ regime in Syria: (Iranian proxy) Severe manpower losses, loss of credibility leading to the destruction of the organization ‘Security myth’ Sectarian single party police state ex-Lebanese Republic (TOAS) / Sectarian police state (TOAS) External funding by Iran
SYRIAN KURD Autonomy within a Syrian federal republic framework Operational expenses, subject to genocide by Turkish proxies Self-determination, womens’ rights, anti-jihadi secular government Modified self-rule / To be determined Agrarian – smuggling
IRAQI KURD Independent Kurdish state Operational- and refugee management expenses Anti-jihadi secular redoubt Hereditary duopoly, pan-Kurdish nationalist / possible amalgamation with other Kurdish states Petro-state
TURKISH KURD Political legitimacy within framework of Turkish constitution Operational expenses, political marginalizatin self-determination within framework of Turkish constitution Modified self-rule / Call for independence under certain circumstances (see below) Agrarian – smuggling

NOTE: ‘Government current / proposed’ lists the countries’ governments along with what they would impose on the areas where they operate.

A glance at the chart makes it clear why the experts avoid politics … and why end of the Syria war remains out of reach. Except for the Kurds in Syria and Turkey, also Lebanon, Jordan and Israel there are no politics at all, they have either failed or been swept aside. What remains are tactics and leverage intended to gain transient advantages; administrative overlordship by whatever means come to hand.

Of the seventeen state and non-state actors in the theater, ten are single party police states with personality cults erected around their aggressive, paranoid leaderships. These are ‘Tyrants on a Stick’, (TOAS) named for the official portraits carried by weeping followers at military parades. These Dear Leaders live like termite queens in impenitent splendor; their feet never touch the ground, they hear only what pleases them or else their (ex-)experts are taken out and … well, you know! Meanwhile, the business bloat-ocracies of the west are just as corrupt, their leadership just as isolated. They are concerned only with finding greater fools and maintaining the flows of credit- and resources toward themselves.

Tyrants rely on experts because they cannot trust anyone else: in a real democracy, the public decides to go to war … or perhaps not. They might decide the bosses have overstepped their bounds or are incompetent. In a police state, the expert reaches for his calculator, the boss nods and the yes-men go forth to announce the decision and break heads. In a tyranny the leader thinks himself better than his public because he has stolen power from them. The power itself is evidence of the tyrant’s capability: that the thief is smarter than his victims. In a democracy the people are smarter than the leaders, if nothing else they are more in touch with reality because they are not insulated from it. The people save the leaders from their vanities and those of their lackeys. In a tyranny there is no restraint on the bosses, as a consequence they are always one misstep from disaster.

This is why the Kurds are succeeding … without powerful patrons or great wealth, without a country to call their own or much in the way of an economy. By the accident of history and an abundance of good sense they’ve taken advantage of zero-cost resources that are spurned by the others or are useless to them; the inclusion and participation of women in their national project and bottom-up decision making. They know their neighbors are out to steal from them or murder them all; that their own leaders would be killed or thrown into prison. They have had to decentralize to survive, to push decision making down the ladder of authority then cut off the top. By doing so the Kurds have saved themselves from the tyranny of experts and self-centric malfeasance that weighs down their adversaries …

Like everything else in the West, politics has been hollowed out, turned into a ‘Punch vs. Judy’ spectacle that plays out in the media. Small-d-democracy is given lip service and nothing more, all the important decisions are made out of sight by ‘others’: as George Carlin famously remarked, “It’s a club and you aren’t in it.” Our representative system has devolved into a shopping network for cartels. Because politics are conversations intended to build consensus and resolve disputes they are an anathema to the tycoons and the system that enables them. Consensus cannot be compelled from the top only apathy and a grudging acceptance. Allowing the citizens their own initiatives is dangerous, they might balk at taking on the tycoons’ obligations. This would leave the tycoons to meet the obligations themselves, they would all go broke! The strategy is for the bosses to trivialize everything within reach, to boil away the character of resolution leaving a scrim of incomprehensible noise. The current US election campaign is a perfect example: billions are spent on marketing with winner certain to be ‘none of the above’.

Clausewitz could not have imagined war as being ‘business by other means’. There is also ‘war as the means to murder’ which would have been unthinkable to the bourgeois Prussian aristocrat, yet we have it. A drilldown into the Syria war reveals American meddling for short-term business gains from the beginning, expanding now to include the Russians. The intent on every side — except for the Kurds in Turkey and Syria — is to make money. When war is good for business — as the Middle East wars are for the Pentagon — there are few- if any incentives to end it.

The Ongoing Collapse of Turkey’s Secular Democ­racy and… the Backstory to the Attempted Turkish Coup (part 2/3)

Off the keyboard of Allan Stromfeldt Christensen

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Published on From Filmers to Farmers on August 19th, 2016

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Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (photo courtesy of rene de paula jr)

So where did I leave off in part 1? Oh yeah. Erdoğan and Putin are now BFF-FAW (Best Friends Forever For A While), Erdoğan’s Turkey has quite possibly been helping ISIS unload its oil, the United States / Europe / NATO has purportedly been turning a blind eye to it all, and Turkey is trying to avoid joining its western neighbour for as long as it can before embarking on its journey to the endarkenment. But before I continue from where I left off and address whether or not a local supply of fossil fuels from the north could be enough to sway Erdoğan “from the bad guys to the bad guys,” a little bit of Turkish history is in order. And fortunately, having introduced my Turkish confidant to the Turkish (falafel) joint I frequent, in return I was introduced by him to the work of Turkish writer Efe Aydal, whose writings went a long way in clearing things up for me.

As Aydal explained it in May of 2016, when the AKP first came into power “The American media was calling Erdoğan ‘second Atatürk.'” Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, in case you aren’t aware, is sometimes described as Turkey’s George Washington. In the 1920s he became the first president of the country, and upon putting through various political, economic and cultural reforms meant to transform Turkey’s religiously-oriented Ottoman caliphate into a secular, democratic, and modern nation-state, he also went out of his way to make sure that the military would not be answerable to the government. The purpose behind the latter move was to ensure that above all else the military would uphold its mandate of protecting Turkey’s new constitutional principles of secularism. This is why Turkey has had six coups/attempted coups since 1960, the military moving in when it believes that civilian governments are violating its secular principles (although it’s possible that outside interests played some roles in those coups).

On top of that, Atatürk had thousands of new schools built, primary education was made free, taxation on peasants was reduced, the use of Western attire was promoted, and women were given equal civil and political rights. And contrary to what I initially thought, none of this is to say that Atatürk was some kind of Western stooge. Unbeknownst to me, and as my Turkish confidant filled me in, the ANZAC holiday which many Australians and Kiwis celebrate every year was originally in reference to Australia’s and New Zealand’s failed invasion of Constantinople (in what is now Turkey) back in World War I – and which Kiwi mates of mine see as a ridiculous thing to celebrate since ANZAC Day is essentially about glorifying the (attempted) invasion of another country and of sending our young men to needlessly fight and die in a banker’s war. But regardless of all that, it just so happens that the commander of the Turkish army that held back the Aussie and Kiwi minions of British bankers was none other than Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

It’s been nearly a century since Atatürk’s time though, and while Atatürk’s image is currently being paraded around Turkey by the AKP – even though it’s been talking about abandoning the constitution’s tenet of secularism, and so is likely just jumping on the bandwagon because it now needs the support of the secularists after having split with the Gülenists – “democracy” also seems to have become a mostly-empty buzzword as well.


Where the world’s finest go to shine (photo by United Nations Photo)

First off there’s the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who after supporters he was addressing outside his Istanbul residence began chanting for the death penalty to be restored, summarily stated that “We cannot ignore this demand… In democracies whatever the people say has to happen.” Or in other words, mob rules.

(As an aside to that, if Turkey reinstates the death penalty, which it scrapped in 2004 as a condition for eventually gaining admittance to the European Union, its chances for gaining passage onto the Titanic drop to zero. Furthermore, even if Turkey could squeeze its way in onto the lower decks of the EU, admittance to the club pales in comparison to the allure of a new imperial Turkey that could dominate the region. Granted, the EU is Turkey’s biggest trade partner, but with possibility of membership in the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union [EEU – a two-year-old, five-member free trade zone], and with the BRICS consortium a possible trading partner as well, a turn away from the EU may not actually be as bad as it sounds – as far as these things go, that is.)

Moving on in this darlings-of-democracy showcase (which is certainly giving the United States’ Democratic Party a run for its money – to the bottom), next in line is Fethullah Gülen, the Muslim cleric living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania who the mainstream media likes to portray as a “staunch advocate of democracy,” who is then said to have “left Turkey in 1999 just ahead of a treason charge,” but from what I’ve strangely noticed hardly ever seems to get explained any further.

But according to an old BBC article I came across, it turns out that shortly after Gülen left to the United States in 1999 for what he claimed were medical reasons, Turkish television channels broadcast recordings of comments by Gülen “in which he urges his followers in the judiciary and public service to work patiently to take control of the state.” Gülen dismissed the allegations (from the United States) and said his comments were taken out of context. He was tried in absentia in 2000 by Turkey’s then-secular courts, but ultimately cleared in 2008 by Erdoğan’s more Islamic-leaning courts, his acquittal possibly a gesture of gratitude for his support of Erdoğan’s election to prime minister in 2003. Nonetheless, Gülen has remained in self-imposed exile ever since his initial departure.


Apparently not everyone is a fan of Fethullah Gülen
(photo courtesy of SHOTbySUSAN)

To make things even murkier, United States immigration authorities had planned to expel Gülen in 2006, but plans for such were rescinded following a letter of recommendation written to the FBI and the United States Department of Homeland Security by former Vice Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council, Graham Fuller (who openly admits to this, and which is part of the public record anyhow).

As it turns out, and as Aydal also states,

In Turkey, the governments come and go, the one thing which doesn’t change is every government had to get the approval of Fethullah Gülen until now. Because he had so much vote potential, if he didn’t approve a party, that party wouldn’t be able to win. When AKP came to lead [in 2003], it was made possible by the Gülen power again.

However, and as Aydal also states, “Something I never expected happened” (which an article in Foreign Policy delved into):

[In 2013] AKP and the Fethullah cult started fighting. And everything you see today in Turkey is the result of that. AKP has the government advantage, but Fethullah has the advantage that it’s backed by USA.

Moreover, and as Aydal put it a couple of months before the attempted coup shenanigans,

[I]n the future AKP will eventually lose. Because ever since they broke the bonds with USA based Fethullah cult, they’re not useful for USA anymore. And they will be replaced by one which is useful. That’s why in recent months the foreign press started attacking him [Erdoğan] and calling him a dictator, whereas they used to hail and love him.

“Love him”? And refer to him as the “second Atatürk”? Well sure, if – and contrary to the wishes of most of the world’s global Muslim population – you sign up as a full supporter of the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, and even pen an article for the Wall Street Journal, you’re the United States’ latest BFF-FAW. (Just don’t get too uppity, lest you want to end up like the United States’ former BFF-FAW, Saddam Hussein.)

Regardless, that’s pretty much all changed now. For as Aydal concludes,

You guys have to understand, for Turkey this is HISTORY. It’s the day when USA lost total control over Turkey. I was always wondering how long can Erdoğan resist the Gülen cult, but he actually waged straight-up war. And every party who’s against Gülen is supporting Erdoğan in this.

And not just every party, but many – most – run-of-the-mill Turks. Although Erdoğan is generally a divisive figure, his recent purges of Gülenitsts from judiciaries, police forces, and other government sectors is being praised by Turks of all political stripes, even those who normally oppose him. Post coup, his approval ratings have shot up to 68% from 47% prior to the coup, and a recent rally saw more than two million Turks, of various political persuasions, join together in solidarity. As one attendee put it, “We came together to save our nation from outside forces, so we are here for the love of our country and flag.”

While the west generally sees Erdoğan’s purges as a witch hunt and Erdoğan as little more than an authoritarian, many Turks are frustrated that the West isn’t taking the Gülen network (FETO) seriously. As an article in the Intercept put it, for years Gülentists have been using “clandestine methods to sneak into the military schools” as well as recruit in the police, judicial, and other government agencies. (According to the article’s informant, military pilots who could fly the American-made F-16 fighter jets were the most prized of all.) Anybody who spoke up about what was going on was swiftly punished. And while it was (secular) Kemalists that were the first targets of the Gülen network due to their sought after positions in public offices, Erdoğan’s AKP became the most recent target after the fallout in 2012.

Granted, prior to 2012 the AKP had actually assisted the Gülenist take-over of the judiciary, and so in return had any laws it wanted passed done so. Likewise, the government also turned a blind eye to the Gülenist infiltration of the army. That being so, even though (secular) Kemalists are generally supportive of the purges, they are nonetheless concerned that after Erdoğan is finished with the Gülenists he will set his sights on them and it will be back to the old divisive ways, if not worse. As someone by the name of “actual turk” stated in the comment section of part 1 in this Turkey series, “Erdogan is no angel – he is a scumbag – but this purge is getting rid of an islamic cancer far worse than Erdogan.”

Having said all that, the West has not been all to happy with the outcome of the attempted coup. As the not-conspiracy-oriented Oil Price put it, “European leaders were not too enthusiastic when the attempted coup failed, despite official declarations in support of Erdogan’s government.” Taking it a bit further, others have even stated that “Only when it became clear the coup was in fact smashed President Obama and the ‘NATO allies’ officially proclaimed their ‘support for the democratically elected government’.” The Unites States’ government obviously denies this, and while some simply dismiss the United Statesian government’s retort as “damage control,” it’s perhaps not too hard to imagine who the United States was likely rooting for.

In the meantime, the Erdoğan/AKP government has been vehemently calling for the United States to extradite Gülen back to Turkey so he can face charges of treason (since they see him as the mastermind of the failed coup), but the United States is having no part in this. Following that, Western media sources have repeatedly reported that the United States’ government is demanding evidence of Gülen’s involvement before any judicial process can begin, full stop. But look outside the bubble, and you’ll see it stated that

According to Erdogan, “Documents have been sent to the U.S.” establishing Gulen’s guilt. But the Obama administration remains unmoved, even though Turkey has handed over terrorists to the US in the past without evidence.

And as Erdoğan has also apparently stated (and which I’ve never seen quoted in any Western mainstream media source),

Now I ask, does the West give support to terror or not? Is the West on the side of democracy or on the side of coups and terror? Unfortunately, the West gives support to terror and stands on the side of coups… We have not received the support we were expecting from our friends, neither during nor after the coup attempt.

Like the saying goes, “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t,” which is perhaps useful when you know which one of them you know better than the other.


Nearly everybody likes a good Ponzi scheme

Anyhow, what has now emerged following Erdoğan’s displeasure with the United States is an ultimatum over the delayed visa-free access for Turks to the European Union. That is, in return for Turkey stemming the flow of illegal migrants to Europe, Turks were to receive a free pass to the land of not-exactly-plenty. But despite Turkey working on its end of the bargain (five of seventy-two demands are still to be met), the visa-free access still eludes Turks, and the recent post-coup crackdowns have added a bit of a sore-spot to the whole thing. But as Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu recently stated, Turkey could renege on its efforts to hold back said migrants. As Reuters put it,

Asked whether hundreds of thousands of refugees in Turkey would head to Europe if the EU did not grant Turks visa freedom from October, Çavuşoğlu told Bild: “I don’t want to talk about the worst case scenario – talks with the EU are continuing but it’s clear that we either apply all treaties at the same time or we put them all aside… It can’t be that we implement everything that is good for the EU but that Turkey gets nothing in return.”

To drive the point home even further, Çavuşoğlu has also stated that

We worked very hard to have good relations with Europe for 15 years. If the West one day loses Turkey – whatever our relations with Russia and China – it will be its own fault.”

Working off of a few things I mentioned in part 1, if Turkey’s demands aren’t met, this may very well mean Turkey will turn a blind eye to Syrians and other refugees flooding into Europe, some of which may very well be jihadi-wannabes from neighbouring countries. On the other hand, if Turkey does somehow get its way and its citizens are granted visa-free access to the European Union, the 2.7 million Syrians that Erdoğan plans on granting citizenship to may very well gain a form of access to Europe anyhow – and some of which, again, may be jihadi-wannabes from other countries. So the solution is…?

In other words, the story in Turkey is a whole lot messier than what those of us in the West are being led to believe. And when penultimate control of energy supplies is the hidden agenda, the devil you know is apt to partake in actions contrary to what might be expected. I’ll finish off the story in part 3.

EDIT 29/08/2016: Upon completion of the last part of this Turkish trilogy a few changes were made to better clarify things and improve its overall structure. In part 2 the only significant change was the addition of three paragraphs describing the rather favourable reaction Turks have had to Erdoğan’s purges, why that is so, and what some fear could transpire following said purges.

History On Vacation

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Published on the Economic Undertow on July 24, 2016

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What experience and history teach is this — that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it …

— Hegel

We solved Hegel’s pesky problem in 1998 when Francis Fukuyama posited the prospect of universal liberal democracy, along with it, the end of history:

What we may be witnessing in not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.

 

 

 

This is not to say that there will no longer be events to fill the pages of Foreign Affairs yearly summaries of international relations, for the victory of liberalism has occurred primarily in the realm of ideas or consciousness and is as yet incomplete in the real or material world. But there are powerful reasons for believing that it is the ideal that will govern the material world in the long run …

 

 

… because that is the futurist narrative in its entirety: to consign whatever it deems obsolete/old/unfashionable including history itself, to the dustbin of history!

By 1998, the narrative made some sort of sense: the outré Soviet Union had crumbled under its own weight even as the Chinese export ‘miracle’ was gathering force; in Europe the ground was being prepared for the euro. The West had triumphed over what it had painted as socialist tyranny — the absence of consumer choices. Gone were the, gloomy, paranoid Stalinist dictators in Russia and across Eastern Europe, swept aside by cheap color televisions and counterfeit Levis, menthol cigarettes and Ronald Reagan. The nuclear boogeyman had been seemingly stuffed back into a bottle then redeemed for a 10¢ ‘peace dividend’. Oil prices were low and American confidence in endless Ponzi wealth was high. Technologies were appearing out of what seemed to be nowhere offering solutions to problems we did not know existed: robots (to replace workers), Internet (to replace more workers) and genetic engineering (to replace the remaining workers). Certainly all of the above would bury history forever … right?

The West was to become a Keynesian paradise of endless abundance and leisure, a suburbanite fairyland of Negro-free gated ‘communities’, of pastel McMansions and luxury SUVs; of gourmet meals crafted from GMO ingredients washed down with magnums of Veuve Clicquot and narcissism. We would play croquet as eternal children under the glorious sunshine of prosperity while ‘disutility’ (labor) would be performed ‘somewhere else’ (Mexico). The waste and destruction associated with industrialization would vanish because we would all be rich enough to hire robots to clean up after us.

There were a few clouds: the tail-end of trivial conflicts in Central America; the ‘War on Drugs’, the Asian finance crisis in 1997 and the collapse of the Russian economy the following year. Long Term Capital Management followed the Russian economy into the toilet in early 1998 necessitating the first ‘rescue us or else’ mega-bailout of Wall Street. These events were diversionary theater: people who could afford it lost some money, bosses who badly needed new jobs lost theirs. All in all the entire reconfiguration process turned out to be remarkably painless.

Looking back, the notion of final geopolitical resolution was naively optimistic, a quaint artifact of a particular zeitgeist, like Beatle Boots or flip cellphones. What was really happening was the ending of the ending: ancient monsters were not vanquished only hibernating so as to take new forms. Now, when we need it most and want it least, history has stormed out of its coffin like a vengeful, blood-hungry vampire, reminding us all why we wanted to be rid of it in the first place.

Enter the new millennium and (quasi-)liberal democracy and finance capitalism are being shellacked and nobody can figure out why. Extreme events are tripping over each other like – add your favorite cliché here – cheese and macaroni. Radicals are ascendant as the status quo proves unable to prevent the consumption utopia from slipping out of reach. Strategies that once bore fruit are revealed as nonsense; military ‘stimulus’, central bank witch doctoring, austerity, institutionalized discrimination, trivial interest rate- and foreign exchange manipulation. The outcome is credit transfers from those with less to those with everything … and fury. With chaos on one side, dithering on the other, the public turns toward autocrats while societies — particularly across the arc of northern- and central Africa to south Asia — blow apart at the seams, writhing in agony, frantic to escape the vice-like grip of ‘less’ and unmet expectations.

This is the terror that dares not speak its name; not to be engulfed by refugees or shot by militants but forced by desperate necessity to become one! Rage is fear by another name.

Events rise up like rogue waves, smash with shocking force … and then vanish. In the space of a month there is the #Brexit vote — against the backdrop of faltering credit — US police shootings, also people shot by police; terrorist truckers, airport attackers, car bombings in city markets, nightclub massacres and more nightclub massacres. There are the coups that aren’t and the rounding up the usual suspects … the droughts and floods, grinding wars, food shortages and millions of desperate refugees, all lingering on Twitter for an instant then … gone. Staring us in the face is the breakup of the Eurozone and the end of the euro, currency- and economic failure in Venezuela and Brazil, environmental degradation and habitat collapse, the deflation of property/asset bubbles worldwide … unraveling is no longer a matter of ‘if’ but ‘how bad’.

Mazama-Turkey 071816

Figure 1: … the status quo proves unable … Mazama Science (click on for big). Turkey has almost nothing in the way of domestic oil resources yet it burns through three-quarters of a million barrels per day, paid for with borrowed euros and dollars. Turkey earns some hard currency from tourists as well as a modest margin from pipeline fees. These last are far from enough: without loans the economy collapses in a hurry, with loans the collapse takes a little longer. The Turks could save themselves by way of stringent conservation but choose instead to wager the rent on a New Ottoman Caliph, betting that utopia can be rationed away from domestic enemies or stolen from its (even more bankrupt) neighbors.

TRY vs USD

Figure 2: Turkish lira relative to the US dollar, chart by XE (click for big). Depreciation of lira is the means by which Turks are forced to conserve against their will. With the passage of time, more liras are needed to obtain the dollars and euros needed to pay for imports. Economic theory suggests that currency ‘values’ run in cycles and that the lira will eventually regain its footing. History suggests the lira is a disposable relic and that markets have not yet ‘caught down’ with reality. Turkey’s currency represents little other than empty gestures and voracious demand. When history was on vacation, symbols and demand were assets to be leveraged; in the new Age of Less these things are liabilities. As the Turkish inter-temporal balance sheet breaks down so does the currency.

Tyrants like Trump and Erdogan (and Clinton) are products of industrial resource capitalism no different from McMansions and automobiles, they are also fetishes. Unlike vicarious pleasure-pussy Taylor Swift, tyrants symbolize power, ruthlessness and control … and increasing surpluses. Their promise to harvest gains by whatever means is the substance of their public appeal. The relationship between tyrant and followers is symbiotic and self-reinforcing. Adherents give form and color to the tyrant’s outline while the tyrant suspends- or outruns institutional restraints, providing the necessary sanction for adherents to act out their own impulses, destructive or otherwise.

The emergence of tyrants like Trump and Erdogan (and Clintons) is suggestive: that technology cannot produce the consumer outcomes we are desperate to preserve. If technology could save us autocrats would not be necessary. They are reductive rather than creative, their first- and last resort is coercion as when governments dragoon pensioners rather than machines to rescue finance.

We are in the middle of a crisis that has been ongoing for over five years: the managers demand the economic system be bailed out. Of whom do they make demands? Entrepreneurs? Innovators? The finest minds of a generation?

A: Pensioners.

The economies must become more productive which means increasing the efficiency of output. Consequently, pensioners are called upon to sacrifice their retirements in the UK, Europe, in the US … in cities and states: pensions everywhere are under attack.

Why not more machines? If machines are productive, wouldn’t deploying more machines solve the economic problems around the world rather than deploying our grandparents? Technology is supposed to save us but the raiding of pensions insists otherwise: the scraping of the bottom of the barrel in real time. It’s an admission that technology doesn’t work, from the people who are in a position to know.

What happens after the retirements are pillaged? Who knows? Nobody has a plan.

The world’s Trumps and Erdogans (and Hitlers) are First Law change agents and as such are integral/inevitable components of national- or supranational surplus aggregation … one of the costs of our ‘success’. History shows us that empires at the point of decline choose rotten emperors and incompetent caliphs. This is analogous to Hyman Minsky’s ‘Financial Instability Hypothesis’ that suggests periods of investment success are by themselves destabilizing w/ speculative malinvestments leading to crashes. Socio-political ‘Minsky Moments’ are products of long periods of dominion by a particular clique or political enterprise which becomes fertile ground for corruption and self-dealing, also malinvestments in perverse reasoning.

Because industrialization has produced outsized surpluses, the rottenness of caliphs (cost) is increased in proportion. Tyrants’ failures are more destructive; so are the failures of well-intentioned elected caliphs. The First Law outcome is invariably surplus reduction, nothing can stop it; conventional policies only makes things worse. Resource depletion is both unpleasant and permanent, the only strategy is to carefully navigate decline; to surf the smashing waves rather than be swept away by them. Depletion cannot be defeated in battle or outmaneuvered, it cannot be negotiated away or paid off. Less can only be adjusted to: unwillingness to adjust leads to exhaustion and ruin. Sadly, no leader, not one … no economist, no central banker or financier proposes to voluntarily make do with less, to embrace the ancient virtues of restraint, patience and modesty; to corral our competitive greed and tread lightly upon our life-support system …

Appearance is higher than mere Being −− a richer category because it holds in combination the two elements of reflection−into−self and reflection−into−other: whereas Being (or immediacy) is still mere relationlessness, and apparently rests upon itself alone.

 

 

 

— Hegel

 

 

“It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible….”

 

 

 

— Oscar Wilde

 

 

In the twilight of modernity we have become intoxicated with the idea of power, to have our way at the expense of others who are powerless to do anything to stop us. The idea (appearance) has more potency than does the thing itself, as the exercise of power carries with it consequences.

American Exceptionalism boils down to a kind of property right; to own human and mechanical slaves, to stake claims against the entirety of nature; the plants and animals and water even the rocks under our feet … to possess whatever is in sight like a chair or pair of pants … and with the same degree of accountability/carelessness.

There is our pitiless assault on everything, living and non-living, without which there is no ‘our’. The frenzy is to burn the world before someone else beats us to it, to render and distill and catalyze everything into money. Our precious tycoons will burn that as well … we have gone insane.

The fetishes have us in their thrall: the rifle and machine gun, the tank and the airplane and the hydrogen bomb … also the strip mine, the excavator, the chain saw and the automobile. Also the lies on television.

If we possessed the wits we would be mortified, would beg forgiveness and search for wisdom … As inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah we are simply cursed to live out the consequences of our own madness.

Cuba’s Second Special Period – 2016

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Published on Peak Surfer on June 12, 2016

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"Cuba’s economy minister told the Cuban Parliament last week, in a closed session, (drum roll) that the country would have to cut fuel consumption nearly a third in the second half of this year."
 

Foodlines in Soviet Union 1991 (photo by A. Bates)

The story of Cuba’s Special Period has been told here before, but just to refresh. (light bongo beat) In 1992 the Soviet Union was undergoing great social upheaval at home and in the shifts that followed could no longer support its massive foreign aid dole-out to client states such as Cuba. Without Russian fuel and food aid — and more importantly without the Eastern European export market for its sugar and other commodities — and still under the 30-year-old embargo imposed by the United States, Cuba sank into catastrophic recession. The caloric intake of its population shrank by a third. Oxen replaced tractors and combines. Cuba teetered at the brink of collapse.

In the face of these challenges, the spirit of the 1953-59 student-led revolt revived and bolstered the willingness of the population to come together, tighten their belts and do what needed to be done. (light guitar comes in with the bongo beat) Urban gardens led by permaculture instructors arriving from Australia and South America sprung up along sidewalks, on balconies, and on rooftops. Bicycles, horse taxis and “camels” (massive 300-passenger buses) replaced the diesel classic car fleet. Ride share coops, farmers coops, barefoot doctors and street markets ignored the daily power blackouts and kept the country alive, even thriving. (conga beat picking up, maracas coming in) It was an historic moment, although if you ask the average Cuban, as we did four years ago, they would tell you they would never want to repeat the experience.

Generalisimo Batista and his rival, medical student Ernesto "Che" Guevara


When we visited in 2012 we noticed, and blogged here, that Cuba was doing some remarkable things but that much of their economic development came from and is planning to go forward on, their alliance with friends in the South, notably Venezuela and Bolivia. Instead of being addicted to Soviet fossil energy, they were becoming enslaved to Orinoco Heavy. (castanet roll) Cuba uses 80,000 barrels per day of Venezuelan oil, but when we visited they had ambitious plans for offshore fracking, a giant harbor that would handle oil supertankers and Chinese container ships too large to dock in Miami or Houston, and a revival of the sugar industry using Brazilian next-gen technology to make ethanol. In Havana, the neighborhood gardens were still there, but they were beginning to look a little seedy. (tambourine, cow bell)

Following the student-led revolt, conditions improved markedly.


Cuba’s economy minister told the Cuban Parliament last week, in a closed session, (drum roll) that the country would have to cut fuel consumption nearly a third in the second half of this year because the Venezuelan spigot was slowly squeezing shut. Venezuelan oil exports to Cuba have dropped 40% since January. As the news rippled out through Havana there was a universal sense of Déjà vu. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, won’t be fooled again (as George W. Bush said in his being-folksy mode, unable to recall where he was in the fool-me-twice-shame-on-me proverb and so reverting to a rock anthem lyric from his Yale fraternity days).

 

Havana 2012 (photo by A. Bates)

Venezuela is running dry, as is neighboring Mexico, and bargain basement crude sales to bolster Venezuela’s economy don’t help. Venezuela can no more supply the Citgo stations in Havana than it can keep the lights on in hospitals in Caracas.

Since we are not exactly getting the White House morning briefing we can only speculate on connections between the US military/intelligence community (triple oxymoron there)’s goals in Venezuela. We know that as the curtain comes down on the Pentagon-mesmermized Drone King Administration and up on an uncertain successor, it could be a chessboard moment. (bass drum and brushed cymbals)

 

Havana 2012 (photo by A. Bates)

We know, for instance, that the shortages in Venezuela are specific products, so other food and consumer goods remain available. Could it be that the crisis in Venezuela is less about the oil economy and more about black ops by opposition elements? Those elements would include domestic food companies controlled by long-standing opponents of the Bolivarian revolution of 1999. They control, for instance, 62% of every arrepa, a staple of Venezuelan cuisine.

The market distortion is curious. Venezuelans can purchase yogurt, cheese, teas, vegetables, chocolate and fruit, but not meat, corn flour, milk, coffee, and personal hygiene products like soap, toilet paper, sanitary napkins and diapers. In a managed socialist economy you’d think the reverse would be true. It is only when you look at the ownership of the companies where scarcity exists that it begins to make sense.
 

V.P. candidate Mike Pence and actor Everett McGill – Under Siege 3?

The Friday night military coup in Turkey is another one of those things that can be explained by other factors but the timing is curious. There is no love lost in either Washington or Moscow for the Erdogan regime. Russian press and other sources linked Turkey to the CIA-covert resupply chain for the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS), which the Syrian Army, supported by spectacular Russian air strikes, is in the process of decimating. Erdogan was a klutz, but he was Washington’s klutz. He made that very clear when he shot down a commercial Russian airliner and then okay’ed a new pipeline to take offshore oil and gas Israel was stealing from Gaza through Turkey to Europe. That will potentially square US accounts with kleptocrats in Kiev who keep siphoning gas meant for Europe and not paying for it.

 

Havana 2012 (photo by A. Bates)

As we penned this Friday night this we were watching the air battle over Ankara not knowing who was fighting for whom over what. That Russia Today is a more reliable witness than The New York Times is the new normal.

Cubans have been here before, and actually, this time it may not be as bad. The embargo is lifting. Although Donald Trump is out-polling Hillary Clinton in Florida, especially with Cuban-Americans, his war-chest is no match for hers and

Havana 2012 (photo by A. Bates)

nationwide, at this point in the election cycle, he is a diminishing threat to US-Cuba détente. (muted instruments, brushed cymbals, then just bongo) With air routes opening, tourist hotels being planned, and Havana’s notorious nightclubs a shorter hop than Las Vegas for half the population of the United States, Cubans only have to hold their breath while they turn off the fans 8 hours per day.

Then the

Terror Types & Political Pandemonium

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on July 16, 2016

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Much going on over the last two days in the World of Collapse.  2 days ago we had the Truck Massacre in Nice, today there is ongoing an attempted Military Coup d'Etat in Turkey.  You just can't keep up anymore with all the shit going down!  I'm going to have to start publishing an article more than once a week!

Let's go in chronological order here and start with the Truck Massacre.  It occured in France, on Bastille Day, big Holiday like July 4th in the FSoA.  Tradition has it that people gather together and blow off fireworks in a simalcrum of the actual firefights that took place during the original wars/revolutions/battles for independence.  The National Anthem of the FSoA even celebrates this in the lyrics:

And thy rocket's red glare,
Thy bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through thee night,
That our flag was still there.

http://www.miamiandbeaches.com/~/media/images/gmcvb/miamiandbeaches/featured%20articles/fourth%20of%20july/fireworks-display-from-seafair-yacht-612x338.jpg

However, generally speaking these fireworks are not dangerous now, although a few Darwin Award Winners each year succeed in blowing off various parts of their own anatomy.  Still, they ARE a celebration of the Violence & War that it took to create their beloved Nation-State.

Problem here now is this violence is getting real again, and with lots of firecrackers going off and chinese rocket explosions, can the revelers tell the difference between them and guns or bombs going off?  Probably not, leading to mass confusion on the street in a large crowd of people.

In this case also, while apparently the perp had a gun and was firing out the window of his truck as he mowed people down, the main vector for death in this case was the truck he was driving.  This speaks to the issue of Gun Control and whether it would really make a significant difference in Terrorist Death Toll if the French or the FSoA succeeded in "banning guns", or at least the kind of semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 often used in these events.

In all likelihood, this would NOT make a huge difference, since those interested in delivering Death to unsuspecting people would find other means of doing it.  The Killer Truck is one example.  Car Bombs and Pipe Bombs another.  Arson where many people congregate such as Hotels, Theaters and Nightclubs another.  The commuter rail system also is highly vulnerable.  All you need to cause a derailment of a packed commuter train is a Crowbar on a section of track in the wee hours before rush hour.

On the other hand, will making more gunz freely available to the public to Open Carry stop or at least slow down the mass killings done by terrorists with their own gunz?  That depends to a large extent on the type of event it is and how smart or stupid the perp is.

In all cases, the perp has the element of SURPRISE against those he intends on shooting.  They don't know it's coming until the first shot fires off.  In the case of Orlando where the Shooter was actually mixed in with the crowd, a few people Packing Heat might have made a difference in the the final tally of Dead People.  In the case of the Dallas Cop Massacre, it would have made no difference whatsoever.  In that case, the shooter took an elevated position in a parking garage and it probably took a couple of minutes just to figure out where the shots were coming from.  Most of the dead cops probably were hit in the first 2-3 minutes, and you don't even need semi-auto for that, a bolt action with a clip would do the trick.  You gotta aim before you fire anyhow if you want Kill Shots, you can't just spray bullets willy nilly unless in the middle of a crowd.  Then the cops still standing had to figure out how to get to the guy, and even armed to the teeth themselves they didn't think they could do it by standard means, so they improvised a Robot to go in and blow the perp to Kingdom Come.  Even with CC permits, nobody is going to have a robot with them to do that job.

In the incident in Nice, there were plenty-o-cops around, France is after all still under a "State of Emergency" (aka Martial Law) since the last big attack in November and Charlie Hebdo before that.  However, it takes time to react to a truck careening through a large crowd of people, and then the cops gotta get in position to shoot through the windshield in order to take out the driver.  The Killing Field apparently was around 1 mile long, and the driver was doing maybe 30 mph during the spree.  That means he covered the whole mile in around 2 minutes.  There is no way to stop that, short of having Truck Control Laws and preventing people from driving trucks, which obviously would not be good for commerce.  If the truck had a Tesla Autopilot on it, it could have gone on even LONGER mowing people down even AFTER the perp was taken out!

http://news.images.itv.com/image/file/1039395/stream_img.jpg

Which then speaks to yet another method of mass killing, which is using RC Drones.  This has mainly been a Goobermint/Military sponsored method of MK to date, but the technology of RC is quite available to anyone.  Most consumer drones don't have power to carry much payload, but you can certainly adapt the controls to an Ultralight Aircraft capable of carrying a 200 lb load of explosives.  Such Ultralights can be built from motorcycle engines in the 250cc category for around $5000.  DEATH FROM ABOVE on the cheap!

So it is unlikely that a gun ban will do a lot to stop mass killing among those motivated to do so, by one means or the other.  How much being able to CC will help also is quite debatable.  It has a real DOWNSIDE in a crowd situation where it might be effective, which is that the cops don't know who is Friendly Fire and who the perps are?  So in all likelihood in a real melee, lots of the Good Guys shooting to help the cops would get shot by the cops!

This is why in all historical wars, the opposing sides wear UNIFORMS, and why the cops themselves wear uniforms.  In a battle, this identifies Friend from Foe.  In this type of assymetric warfare, the cops don't know WHO is friend or foe.  On the other hand, if the perps consider the cops as foe, they can easily be identified by their uniforms.  This of course puts the cops at a significant disadvantage in such a melee, especially in the case of multiple shooters targeting them specifically.  So far such a situation has not yet occured in the FSoA, but it is a regular feature of life for the Mexican Police Force.  The Drug Dealers know who they are, but they don't know who all the drug dealers are.  So they are targets, sitting ducks essentially.

Finally on this topic for today is a DISTINCTION which is not being made in the Media or by the Pols issuing out statements "condemning" the massacre.  This Dog & Pony Show is just STUPID, what would anyone do but 'condemn" this, unless they happen to side with the shooter?  Condemning the acts doesn't do a fucking thing to address the causes or to reduce them in frequency and in death toll.

The distinction not made is between Terrorist Acts pulled off by a Lone Wolf with his own personal grudges or unstable psychology and those pulled off by one or more perps who are motivated Politically and may be affiliated with some Terrorist Organization like Daesh.  Both types are the outcome of a collapsing civilization; both types can result in a relatively large death toll in a given event, but they have a different nature and the ability to deal with them in any effective manner as a result also varies quite a bit.

In the case of the Terrorist Attack in Paris in November where numerous targets were hit by numerous perps, this was pretty clearly a part of an Organization.  So in the aftermath of that, French & Belgian police went full on arresting the Usual Suspects in both countries until they could nail down who was in these cells and go after them.

In the case of all the other recent attacks mentioned, Orlando, Dallas and Nice, they all appear to have been pulled off by Lone Wolf Nut Jobs.  They may have expressed "allegiance" with the goals of Daesh, but that doesn't mean they have any contact with or direction from the center of this movement.  It just means they are looking for something to justify their actions and a Peer Group.  As individuals they have much in common with the organized Daesh in MENA.  They are also members of the underclass, they also have little opportunity for success wherever they live and they are also Muslims.  So it is convenient to align with Daesh, but they are not really part of an "International Terrorist Organization".

However, every time such a Lone Wolf successfully pulls off a Mass Murder, it gets attributed first to Daesh, and then second to Muslims in general, and the psychotic behavior of these individuals is then transferred through the mass media and the politicians as being attributable to ALL Muslims, and Islam in general as a brutal and medieval sort of religion.  Which all the main ones are really, they all developed well before modern industrial culture did.

What this does is to take the responsibility off your own Local Failures and then ascribe to "the other", who are demonized by Pols and the Media as responsible for the mayhem.  The fact is though, the local Home Grown Lone Wolves are simply reacting to the failures within their own local communities.  They are ALWAYS the underclass, at best they hold an hourly payheck job they can lose on any day, with no savings to carry them over.  They never made enough money to have any significant savings.  They often have Marital Problems, because when you have financial problems, marital problems and arguments quickly follow.  They often have drug and alcohol problems, because when your life is a mess and seems like it will be a mess as far on the horizon as you can see, you rely on alcohol and drugs to blot out the pain.  Often enough those are even Prescription Drugs, anti-depressants to keep you from getting too depressed about your situation, but that doesn't actually change your situation.  Whatever it is making you depressed is still there, you are just too wasted to realize it.

So in reality here, this really has little to do with religion, or even Organized Terror.  It's a social response to a collapsing civilization, and the folks "going nuts" or "getting violent" first are the folks at the bottom end of the society, the people with NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE.  There are more of those being manufactured by Industrial Civilization every day, so we can expect a whole lot more of this type of behavior moving into the future.  At least until somebody in power actually addresses the underlying problems of Resource Depletion and Population Overshoot, which is unlikely to occur anytime too soon.

Much more left to elucidate as far as the Roots of Terrorism are concerned, but in close follow-up to the events in Nice we had the SURPRISE  attempted Military Coup d'Etat occur in Turkey on Friday, conveniently enough after the markets closed for the weekend.  LOL.  So now let us move on to the second half of this discussion which to some people might not seem related, but in truth is very closely related to both types of Terrorism.

Turkey while it has seemed "stable" at least relative to places like Syria and Iraq is centrally located between just about all the major players here.  They have Iran on one side, Mother Russia on another and then NATO operating in Iraq.  They have their own internal divisions with Haves and Have Nots as well, the Kurds being the main Have Not and target inside Turkey for repression.

Then they have an incredibly corrupt regime in power run by Erdocrook, double dealing with ISIL on one side to buy oil and so keep money flowing into Erdocrook's Swiss Bank Account while at the SAME TIME theoretically "battling" the same folks over in Syria, where both NATO and the Ruskies drop the DEATH FROM ABOVE  every day, in the hope they might actually hit something besides women, children and hospitals so they can take out important people and WIN THE WAR!

Far as the Turkish military is concerned, who is it that actually has to cross the border into Syria and engage…somebody.  Said somebodies probably are not wearing any uniforms, and there are a lot of somebodies from different factions here.  So who do you shoot, and who will shoot at you?  You see the similarity with the CC carry problem in a demonstration with police present and shooting I trust.  I'll tell you who has to cross the border and do this insane sort of warfare where nobody is quite sure who the Enemy is, it is the typical Turkish Grunt, and he is probably even less happy about this shit than the truckloads of Amerikan Grunts returning from this Hell Hole and commiting suicide.  Not only can't they figure out who the enemy on the ground really is, they ALSO got Ruskie and NATO bombers dropping down the Death from Above, and based on history their targeting is not always so good.

So one can imagine here the morale amongst the Rank & File Turkish soldier is not so good, and they are not too happy about going out as Cannon Fodder in an Endless War that enriches Erdocrook while their own families at home are STARVING.  Eventually this dissention works its way up to the upper ranks of the military, they start finding it hard to get these grunts to Follow Orders.  Even though Erdocrook did a full purge of the military leadership a few years back, the folks he installed are likely under a lot of pressure from the ranks below.  Instead of a Mutiny within their own ranks jeopardizing their own leadership positions, they risk a Mutiny against Erdocrook themselves.

Besides Rank & File pressure, there's also various types of international pressure Erdocrook is under.  First he has been aligning mostly with the Saudis and attempting to set up an Islamic style Caliphate rather than the secular type of Goobermint Turkey has been running under since the days of Kamal Attaturk.  Second he has all the Refugee problems between Syria & Turkey, and then between Turkey & Greece, and Greece of course is now turning into just about as big a Concentration Camp for MENA refugees as Turkey itself is.  The rest of the Northern Europeans now don't want to let anyone out of those concentration camps, so the problem is backing up.

In a sense, this is not real different than what is going on in the Oil Market these days, now there is a glut in the distillates of diesel and gasoline, and they are running out of storage room as the demand continues to be less than the supply being dragged up, even if that supply is diminishing.  So at some point here a Firesale is going to be necessary.  EVERYTHING MUST GO!  90% OFF!

http://i.usatoday.net/money/_photos/2011/03/24/tips-liquidation-salex-large.jpg

While you can do a liquidation sale of petroleum products pretty easily, liquidation of a large portion of the Human Population is significantly more difficult and brings with it significantly more problems, such as we have witnessed in the last few weeks from Orlando, to Dallas, to Nice and to Turkey.  These are not unrelated and separate problems, they are all manifestations of a Collapse Dynamic that is ongoing and accelerating, which we have been tracking on the Diner for the last 5 years.  None of this is unexpected, the only thing that is real hard to put a finger on is the timeline.

Until the leadership acknowledges and owns up to the underlying problems, no real solutions are possible.  Even once you do own up to the problem, the possible solutions are mostly unpalatable, particularly those in power who wish to hold onto their perks in the current society.  In theory, a downspin and a transition to a lower per capita energy future could be managed, but not with the current leadership and not with the current system of maldistribution.  Both are a recipe for mayhem, and both must be removed before we can address our problems in an intelligent manner.

Is There a US-Russia Grand Bargain in Syria?

Jetsgc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Jets

Originally published in Sputnik on March 17, 2016

 


It’s spy thriller stuff; no one is talking. But there are indications Russia would not announce a partial withdrawal from Syria right before the Geneva negotiations ramp up unless a grand bargain with Washington had been struck.

Some sort of bargain is in play, of which we still don’t know the details; that's what the CIA itself is basically saying through their multiple US Think Tankland mouthpieces. And that's the real meaning hidden under a carefully timed Barack Obama interview that, although inviting suspension of disbelief, reads like a major policy change document.

Obama invests in proverbial whitewashing, now admitting US intel did not specifically identify the Bashar al-Assad government as responsible for the Ghouta chemical attack. And then there are nuggets, such as Ukraine seen as not a vital interest of the US – something that clashes head on with the Brzezinski doctrine. Or Saudi Arabia as freeloaders of US foreign policy – something that provoked a fierce response from former Osama bin Laden pal and Saudi intel supremo Prince Turki.

Tradeoffs seem to be imminent. And that would imply a power shift has taken place above Obama — who is essentially a messenger, a paperboy. Still that does not mean that the bellicose agendas of both the Pentagon and the CIA are now contained.

Russian intel cannot possibly trust a US administration infested with warmongering neocon cells. Moreover, the Brzezinski doctrine has failed – but it’s not dead. Part of the Brzezinski plan was to flood oil markets with shut-in capacity in OPEC to destroy Russia.

That caused damage, but the second part, which was to lure Russia into an war in Ukraine for which Ukrainians were to be the cannon fodder in the name of “democracy”, failed miserably. Then there was the wishful thinking that Syria would suck Russia into a quagmire of Dubya in Iraq proportions – but that also failed miserably with the current Russian time out. 

The Kurdish factor

A Kurdish man waves a large flag of the Democratic Union Party (PYD)

© AFP 2016/ DELIL SOULEIMAN

Kurds Sign Declaration on Creating Federal Region in Northern Syria

Convincing explanations for the (partial) Russian withdrawal from Syria are readily available. What matters is that the Khmeimim air base and the naval base in Tartus remain untouched. Key Russian military advisers/trainers remain in place. Air raids, ballistic missile launches from the Caspian or the Mediterranean – everything remains operational. Russian air power continues to protect the forces deployed by Damascus and Tehran. 

As much as Russia may be downsizing, Iran (and Hezbollah) are not. Tehran has trained and weaponized key paramilitary forces – thousands of soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan fighting side by side with Hezbollah and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). The SAA will keep advancing and establishing facts on the ground.

As the Geneva negotiations pick up, those facts are now relatively frozen. Which brings us to the key sticking point in Geneva – which has got to be included in the possible grand bargain.

The grand bargain is based on the current ceasefire (or "cessation of hostilities") holding, which is far from a given. Assuming all these positions hold, a federal Syria could emerge, what could be dubbed Break Up Light.

Essentially, we would have three major provinces: a Sunnistan, a Kurdistan and a Cosmopolistan.

Sunnistan would include Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa, assuming the whole province may be extensively purged of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.

Kurdistan would be in place all along the Turkish border – something that would freak out Sultan Erdogan to Kingdom Come.

And Cosmopolistan would unite the Alawi/ Christian/ Druze/ secular Sunni heart of Syria, or the Syria that works, from Damascus up to Latakia and Aleppo.

 

Kurdish people carry flags as they march during a protest in the city of al-Derbasiyah, on the Syrian-Turkish border, against what the protesters said were the operations launched in Turkey by government security forces against the Kurds, February 9, 2016

© REUTERS/ RODI SAID

Syrian Kurds are already busy spinning that a federal Syria would be based on community spirit, not geographical confines.

Ankara’s response, predictably, has been harsh; any Kurdish federal system in northern Syria represents not only a red line but an “existential threat” to Turkey. Ankara may be falling under the illusion that Moscow, with its partial demobilizing, would look the other way if Erdogan orders a military invasion of northern Syria, as long as it does not touch Latakia province.

And yet, in the shadows, lurks the possibility that Russian intel may be ready to strike a deal with the Turkish military – with the corollary that a possible removal of Sultan Erdogan would pave the way for the reestablishment of the Russia-Turkey friendship, essential for Eurasia integration.

What the Syrian Kurds are planning has nothing to do with separatism. Syrian Kurds are 2.2 million out of a remaining Syrian population of roughly 18 million. Their cantons across the Syria-Turkey border —Jazeera, Kobani and Afrin – have been established since 2013. The YPG has already linked Jazeera to Kobani, and is on their way to link them to Afrin. This, in a nutshell, is Rojava province. 

The Kurds across Rojava – heavily influenced by concepts developed by imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan — are deep into consultations with Arabs and Christians on how to implement federalism, privileging a horizontal self-ruled model, a sort of anarchist-style confederation. It’s a fascinating political vision that would even include the Kurdish communities in Damascus and Aleppo.

Moscow – and that is absolutely key – supports the Kurds. So they must be part of the Geneva negotiations. The Russian long game is complex; not be strictly aligned either with Damascus or with the discredited “opposition” supported and weaponized by Turkey and the GCC. Team Obama, as usual, is on the fence. There’s the “NATO ally” angle — but even Washington is losing patience with Erdogan.

The geopolitical winners and losers

Only the proverbially clueless Western corporate media was caught off-guard by Russia’s latest diplomatic coup in Syria. Consistency has been the norm.

Russia has been consistently upgrading the Russia-China strategic partnership. This has run in parallel to the hybrid warfare in Ukraine (asymmetric operations mixed with economic, political, military and technological support to the Donetsk and Lugansk republics); even NATO officials with a decent IQ had to admit that without Russian diplomacy there’s no solution to the war in Donbass.

In Syria, Moscow accomplished the outstanding feat of making Team Obama see the light beyond the fog of neo-con-instilled war, leading to a solution involving Syria’s chemical arsenal after Obama ensnared himself in his own red line. Obama owes it to Putin and Lavrov, who literally saved him not only from tremendous embarrassment but from yet another massive Middle East quagmire.

 

Russian Aerospace Forces aircraft leave Hmeimim airbase in Syria

RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY

Farewell to Arms: Real Results of Russia's Air Campaign in Syria

The Russian objectives in Syria already laid out in September 2015 have been fulfilled. Jihadists of all strands are on the run – including, crucially, the over 2,000 born in southern Caucasus republics. Damascus has been spared from regime change a la Saddam or Gaddafi. Russia’s presence in the Mediterranean is secure.

Russia will be closely monitoring the current “cessation of hostilities”; and if the War Party decides to ramp up “support” for ISIS/ISIL/Daesh or the “moderate rebel” front via any shadow war move, Russia will be back in a flash. As for Sultan Erdogan, he can brag what he wants about his “no-fly zone” pipe dream; but the fact is the northwestern Syria-Turkish border is now fully protected by the S-400 air defense system.

Moreover, the close collaboration of the “4+1” coalition – Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, plus Hezbollah – has broken more ground than a mere Russia-Shi’te alignment. It prefigures a major geopolitical shift, where NATO is not the only game in town anymore, dictating humanitarian imperialism; this “other” coalition could be seen as a prefiguration of a future, key, global role for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

As we stand, it may seem futile to talk about winners and losers in the five-year-long Syrian tragedy – especially with Syria destroyed by a vicious, imposed proxy war. But facts on the ground point, geopolitically, to a major victory for Russia, Iran and Syrian Kurds, and a major loss for Turkey and the GCC petrodollar gang, especially considering the huge geo-energy interests in play.

It’s always crucial to stress that Syria is an energy war – with the “prize” being who will be better positioned to supply Europe with natural gas; the proposed Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, or the rival Qatar pipeline to Turkey that would imply a pliable Damascus.

Other serious geopolitical losers include the self-proclaimed humanitarianism of the UN and the EU. And most of all the Pentagon and the CIA and their gaggle of weaponized “moderate rebels”. It ain’t over till the last jihadi sings his Paradise song. Meanwhile, “time out” Russia is watching.

 


PepePepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Europe’s Slow Motion Debacle

s_500_opednews_com_0_---jpg_73066_20160303-743 gc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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s_500_opednews_com_0_---jpg_73066_20160303-743

Originally published in Op-Ed News on March 3, 2016

 


From a failed attempt to clear the Calais jungle to the appalling situation at the Greek-Macedonian border, the EU crumbles under the strain of a massive refugee crisis. Even the Kafkaesque Brussels Eurocrat construct admits it — off the record, because official EU must always project a mythical image of unity: We are on the edge of an abyss.

Across the EU and amidst Russian intellectual elites, scenarios proliferate on the imminent collapse of Western civilization, as a huge number of refugees cannot be properly assimilated. In Russia, this process is examined with extreme concern because it happens not far from Russia's western borderlands, and involves what the Kremlin traditionally defines as our partners.

But what if this European slow-motion debacle was not enacted as a Mad Max dystopia, but rather brought about by a tsunami of Muslims ultimately displaced by Western-engineered wars?

Behold Fortress Europe

It was only six months ago that Chancellor Angela Merkel's government took a huge gamble in adopting a so-called humanitarian refugee policy; call it the civilized face of the otherwise politically tainted R2P (responsibility to protect) concept, which was ruthlessly manipulated for the invasion and destruction of Libya.

Six months later, we have swarms of refugees stranded all along the Balkan Route — and progressively encircled/trapped by strict border controls, the disappearance of social benefits, creeping fences and walls, and the practical extermination of the Schengen accords. The Merkel gambit is over; Fortress Europe is back with a vengeance.

 

Can you hear the sound of a basket of myths crumbling? Here are a few. The notion of European solidarity — not to mention egality and fraternity. The notion that EU members would accept a sensible, harmonious, proportional distribution of refugees. The notion that Europe would not reject, deport and repatriate people fleeing from war zones. The notion that Turkey would protect the EU from the crisis.

The Balkan Route, for all practical purposes, is now sealed off to refugees while Ankara, for its part, is slowly building a wall along stretches of the Turkish-Syrian border — not as much to really contain them (after all Ankara must keep open the Jihadi highway), but as a propaganda coup.

(image by Rabble, UK)   DMCA

Germany's humanitarian refugee policy is in tatters and corroded by self-doubt; only two weeks ago Chancellor Merkel was wondering whether she should pursue our European-Turkish approach or whether the EU should order the absolute sealing off of the Greek-Macedonian border, pure and simple.

And that leads us close to the heart of the matter — which is, of course, Turkey.

The majority of German conservative politicos want Merkel to seal off German borders to refugees, while Merkel still believes in the Hand of Providence; help from European partners — which won't come — and most of all from Ankara.

And that's exactly where Turkey's Sultan Erdogan wants her to be; as a supplicant, not as the leader of the number one European economic power.

Ankara's power play

One of the key myths of the whole refugee crisis is that Erdogan's AKP government is doing all it can to contain it.

Nonsense. The crisis itself was engineered by Ankara in 2015 — when refugees were released from their holding camps in Turkey under threat that they would not be cared for anymore. The refugee flood was not a spontaneous creation, as Syrians, Iraqis and/or Afghans suddenly decided to flee to the EU; it was directly instigated by Ankara. And Erdogan from the start was already contemplating the Big Prize; to bribe the EU, especially Merkel, to pay — at least 3 billion euros — so most refugees remain not on Turkish soil, but on one of his own neo-Ottoman sub-plots; a safe zone to be built inside Syrian territory.

Extra evidence pointing to Ankara's plotting is the fact that Turkey has not increased patrols on its Mediterranean coast — the departure point for scores of refugees to try their luck by boat on their way to safety of the Greek islands. The priority for Ankara was to close the Turkish-Syrian border. Not really close it, as safe passage remains guaranteed for selected moderate rebels.

The Warsaw-based European border control agency Frontex is absolutely convinced that the Turkey-EU refugee power play will continue. Diplomatically, Frontex's director Fabrice Leggeri advances that Turkey has to make it more difficult for the migrant smugglers.

Yet that won't happen. And Germany — and the EU as a whole — will continue to be hostages of Ankara's political maneuvering.

A EU-Turkey summit was held in November 2015. At the time, Erdogan promised there would be more security in the Aegean coast and more raids on migrant smugglers. Too little, too late. Turkey's Aegean coast is 2,800 kilometers long. Ankara does not have the resources to police it properly.

So smuggling on a massive scale proceeds unabated. Smuggling rings with the right contacts — within Turkish police and AKP-related politicians — only need to pay roughly 3,000 euros for each group of refugees to clear the border and hit the sea.

In parallel, Ankara is clearly at war in Southeast Anatolia against the PKK Kurds. This is the number one priority, not smuggling of refugees, not to mention fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu could not be more straight to the point when he visited Berlin late last year: the Erdogan/Davutoglu Plan A is to annihilate the PKK Kurds. There is no Plan B.

Chaos, created then applauded

No one in Brussels will do it. So Frau Merkel ultimately would have to be the only EU leader to confront Erdogan and read him the riot act. It's not only a matter of politely requesting Ankara to reduce refugee numbers. It's to order him to do so; question him on why he released them en masse in the first place last year; and withhold any future financial rescue package, including the building of refugee camps inside Syrian territory.

The stark fact is that the whole refugee crisis — an existential crisis for Europe — is being used by Ankara as a bargaining chip for an elaborate extortion racket. Erdogan wants a tsunami of EU cash; and he wants a tsunami of concessions regarding Turkey's negotiations for accession to the EU.

Meanwhile, there's no concerted EU refugee policy to be seen. Not even a balancing act between humanitarian concerns and deterrence, altruism and realpolitik. No EU political leader will confront the responsibility of NATO's wars (with petrodollar GCC support) crafting the whole crisis. The absolute majority of refugees are Syrians, Afghans and Africans who depart the continent via NATO-destroyed Libya.

Polls consistently show that a majority of EU citizens don't want to welcome refugees anymore. As Belgium-based Jean Bricmont, author of Humanitarian Imperialism has correctly stressed, EU citizens who were never consulted on the issue of refugees and who are constantly asked to make sacrifices because "there is no money" understandably do not accept this moral discourse anymore.

Bricmont is among the very few in Europe to connect the dots: The same people who encouraged "humanitarian" interventions and "support" for armed insurrections abroad, that have led to perpetual wars, generating a constant flow of refugees, are now demanding that the population of our countries "welcome the refugees." They first generate chaos there, then they applaud chaos here.

Well, that's the whole logic of the Empire of Chaos in a nutshell.


PepePepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Will MENA Get Nuked?

youtube-Logo-2gc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on The Economic Collapse on February 21, 2016

Nuclear War - Public Domain

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

World War 3 Could Very Easily Turn Into The Very First Nuclear War In The Middle East

Saudi Arabia already has nukes, Iran probably does, and the Russians are one of the two great nuclear powers on the entire planet.  So if Saudi Arabia, Turkey and their Sunni allies do decide to conduct a full-blown ground invasion of Syria, could someone ultimately decide to use nuclear weapons when their backs get pushed up against a wall?  As you read this article, there are thousands of military vehicles and hundreds of thousands of troops massed along the southern border of Turkey and the northern border of Saudi Arabia.  If the command is given and those forces start streaming toward Damascus, it is inevitable that the Syrians, the Iranians, Hezbollah and the Russians would fight back.  It would literally be the start of World War 3, and the Saudis and the Turks are trying very hard to convince the United States to be involved.  But the truth is that we don’t want any part of this conflict, because it could very easily become the very first nuclear war in the history of the Middle East.

Perhaps you didn’t know that the Saudis already have nukes.  Of course the official position is that they don’t, but it is a fact that they were the ones that funded the development of Pakistan’s nuclear program.  It is an open secret that the Saudis have the bomb, but nobody is really supposed to talk about it.

That is why it was so alarming what Saudi political analyst Dahham Al-‘Anzi told RT just recently

Earlier this week a Saudi political analyst told RT’s Arab network the kingdom has a nuclear weapon.

Dahham Al-‘Anzi made the claim while saying Saudi Arabia is engaged in an effort to “minimize the Iranian threat in the Levant and Syria.”

Although Saudi Arabia has officially denied it has a nuclear weapons program and has publicly stated it opposes nuclear weapons in the Middle East, it has funded a military nuclear program and received scientific assistance from the United States and Pakistan.

You can watch video of this exchange right here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you don’t want to believe him, perhaps you will believe the former director of the CIA counter-terrorism operations center.  He told Fox Business that everyone in the intelligence world knows the Saudis have nukes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the fur started flying in Syria and Russia and Iran decided to start bombing Saudi airbases, would Saudi Arabia resort to using their nukes?

Let’s hope not.

In the event of a massive ground invasion by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and their allies, it is actually more likely that Russia may decide to be the first one to use nukes.  An invasion force of hundreds of thousands of troops would vastly outnumber the relatively small Russian force that is already inside Syria, and so the Russians may feel that the only way that they can keep the Sunni powers out of Damascus is to use tactical nukes.

Russia has more tactical nukes that anyone else in the world by far, and there are some reports that indicate that Russia may be prepared to use them in Syria.  For example, former Associated Press reporter Robert Parry, the author of America’s Stolen Narrative, says that a source has told him that the Russians have already warned Turkey that this could potentially happen

If Turkey (with hundreds of thousands of troops massed near the Syrian border) and Saudi Arabia (with its sophisticated air force) follow through on threats and intervene militarily to save their rebel clients, who include Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, from a powerful Russian-backed Syrian government offensive, then Russia will have to decide what to do to protect its 20,000 or so military personnel inside Syria.

A source close to Russian President Vladimir Putin told me that the Russians have warned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Moscow is prepared to use tactical nuclear weapons if necessary to save their troops in the face of a Turkish-Saudi onslaught. Since Turkey is a member of NATO, any such conflict could quickly escalate into a full-scale nuclear confrontation.

Given Erdogan’s megalomania or mental instability and the aggressiveness and inexperience of Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman (defense minister and son of King Salman), the only person who probably can stop a Turkish-Saudi invasion is President Obama. But I’m told that he has been unwilling to flatly prohibit such an intervention, though he has sought to calm Erdogan down and made clear that the U.S. military would not join the invasion.

Are you starting to understand how serious this is?

With all of the talk of a potential invasion in recent days, the Russians are on high alert and are rapidly preparing for a direct conflict with both Saudi Arabia and Turkey.  The following comes from Infowars

Still, the Russians are taking no chances and they have put all their forces into high alert. They have very publicly dispatched a Tu-214r – her most advanced ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) aircraft. You can think of the Tu-214R as an “AWACS for the ground”, the kind of aircraft you use to monitor a major ground battle (the regular Russian A-50Ms are already monitoring the Syrian airspace). In southern Russia, the Aerospace forces have organized large-scale exercises involving a large number of aircraft which would be used in a war against Turkey: SU-34s. The Airborne Forces are ready. The naval task forces off the Syrian coast is being augmented. The delivery of weapons has accelerated. The bottom line is simple and obvious: the Russians are not making any threats – they are preparing for war. In fact, by now they are ready.

In addition, it is important to remember that it is quite likely that the Iranians have nuclear weapons as well.

Of course the U.S. government and the Iranian government both insist that Iran does not have nukes, but many of those in the know insist otherwise.

For instance, you may want to consider what retired U.S. Army Major General Paul Vallely and U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Dennis B. Haney are saying.  The following comes from an article that was authored by Jerome Corsi of WND

In a joint statement, Vallely and Haney say an accumulation of available evidence shows a coalition of Russia, China and North Korea have assisted Iran since 1979 in achieving a nuclear weapon, despite sanctions, under the guise of a domestic nuclear energy program.

Vallely explained to WND that he and Haney have taken a systematic approach to evaluating each component needed to deliver a nuclear weapon, from the development and testing of a ballistic missile system, to the design of a nuclear weapons warhead, to the development of the weapons-grade uranium needed to produce a bomb.

“To come to our conclusion that Iran is a nuclear weapons power right now, we supplemented publicly available research, plus information from intelligence sources, including Iranian resistance groups such as the National Council of Resistance of IRAN, NCRI,” Vallely explained.

I happen to agree with Vallely and Haney.  I cannot prove it, but all of the intel that I have received indicates that Iran already has nukes.

Hopefully I will not be proven accurate any time soon.

It had been hoped that a cease-fire could be negotiated that would at least temporarily defuse tensions in Syria.  Unfortunately, it does not look like the shooting is going to stop, and this is going to put immense pressure on both Saudi Arabia and Turkey to do something to rescue the radical Sunni militants that are on the verge of defeat.  The Saudis, the Turks and their allies have poured enormous amounts of money and resources into this war over the past five years, and now they are faced with the choice of either accepting defeat or directly intervening in this conflict themselves.

But in order to conduct a full-fledged ground invasion, they are going to need justification for doing so.  There are some that are suggesting that we could soon see a false flag attack that would provide that justification, so that is something to watch out for.

I can’t remember a time when our planet has been so close to World War 3 potentially beginning.

And if it does break out, I believe that it is quite likely that nuclear weapons will be used.

So what do you think?

Do you agree with me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why The ‘Sultan of Chaos’ Is Freaking Out

sultan erdogan gc2smOff the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Originally published in Information Clearing House  on February 5, 2016

 


Picture sleepless nights at ‘Sultan’ Erdogan’s palace in Ankara. Imagine him livid when he learns the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), backed by Russian air power, started a preemptive Battle of Aleppo – through the Bayirbucak region – cutting off Ankara’s top weaponizing corridor and Jihadi highway.

Who controls this corridor will control the final outcome of the war in Syria.
Meanwhile, in Geneva, the remote-controlled Syrian opposition, a.k.a. High Negotiations Committee, graphically demonstrated they never wanted to meet with the Damascus delegation in the first place – “proximity” talks or otherwise, even after Washington and Moscow roughly agreed on a two-year transition plan leading to a theoretically secular, nonsectarian Syria.

The Saudi front wanted no less than Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam and all Jabhat al-Nusra, a.k.a. al-Qaeda in Syria, collaborators at the table in Geneva. So the Geneva charade, quicker than one can say “Road to Aleppo!” was exposed for what it is.

And forget about NATO

Notorious Saudi intel mastermind Prince Turki, a former mentor of one Osama bin Laden, has been to Paris on a PR offensive; all he could muster was an avalanche of non-denial denials – and blaming the whole Syria tragedy on Bashar al-Assad.

The bulk of the Syrian ‘opposition’ used to be armchair warriors co-opted by the CIA for years, as well as CIA Muslim Brotherhood patsies/vassals. Many of these characters preferred the joys of Paris to a hard slog on Syrian ground. Now the ‘opposition’ is basically warlords answering to the House of Saud even for bottles of water – regardless of the suit-and-tie former Ba’ath Party ministers handpicked to be the face of the opposition for the gullible Western corporate media.

Meanwhile, the ‘4+1’ – Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, plus Hezbollah – is now winning decisive facts on the ground. The break down; there won’t be regime change in Damascus. Yet no one broke the news to the Turks and Saudis.  

‘Sultan’ Erdogan is wallowing in a sea of desperation. He continues to divert the gravely serious issues at stake to his own war against the PYD – the umbrella organization of the Syrian Kurds – and the YPG (People's Protection Units, their military wing). Erdogan and Prime Minister Davutoglu wanted the PYD not only banned from Geneva but they want it smashed on the ground, as they see the PYD/YPG as “terrorists” allied to the PKK.

Yet what is ‘Sultan’ Erdogan going to do? Defy the recently arrived 4G++ Sukhoi Su-35S fighters – which are scaring the hell out of every NATO Dr. Strangelove? The Turkish Air Force putting its bases on “orange alert” may scare the odd vagrant dog at best. The same applies to NATO Secretary-General, figurehead Jens Stoltenberg, pleading to Russia “to act responsibly and fully respect NATO airspace.”

Moscow is going after the Turkmen with a vengeance and at the same time providing air support to the PYD west of the Euphrates. That hits the ‘Sultan’ in his heart of hearts; after all Erdogan has threatened multiple times that a PYD/YPG advance west of the Euphrates is the ultimate red line.

An already scared NATO won’t support the folly of an Erdogan war against Russia – as much as US and UK neocons may crave it; as NATO decisions must be unanimous, the last thing EU powers Germany and France want is yet another Southwest Asia war. NATO may deploy the odd Patriot missiles in southern Anatolia and the odd AWACs to support the Turkish Air Force. But that’s it.

Pick your favorite regime change

ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, meanwhile, continues to profit from its own Jihadi highway across a 98 kilometer stretch of Turkish/Syrian border, especially in Jarablus and Al Rai across from Gaziantep and Kilis in Turkey.

Taking a cue from Israel, Ankara is building a wall – 3.6 meters high, 2.5 meters wide – covering the stretch between Elbeyli and Kilis, essentially for propaganda purposes. Because the Jihadi Highway, for all practical purposes, remains open – even as Turkish Armed Forces may apprehend the odd trespasser (always released). We're talking about a monster smuggler/soldier scam; as much as $300 change hands for each night crossing and a noncommissioned Turkish officer may earn as much as $2,500 to look the other way for a few minutes.

The real question is why Gaziantep is not under a curfew imposed from Ankara, with thousands of Turkish Special Forces actually fighting a “war on terra” on the spot. That’s because Ankara and provincial authorities couldn’t give a damn; the real priority is Erdogan’s war on the Kurds.

This brings us to the only leverage the ‘Sultan’ may enjoy at the moment. From Brussels to Berlin, sound minds are terrified that the EU is now actually hostage to Erdogan’s Kurd “priority”, while Ankara is doing next to nothing to fight massive migrant smuggling.

When Davutoglu went to Berlin recently not only did he make no promises; he re-stressed Erdogan’s vow to "annihilate" the Syrian Kurds.

And that explains German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s own desperation. How could the alleged most powerful politician in Europe falls for such a crude extortion racket? The ‘Sultan’ wants a lot of cash, a lot of concessions, and even a further shot at entering the EU. Otherwise, he won’t turn off the tap on the grim refugee flood.

No wonder the regime change rumor mill is frantic. In Ankara? No; in Berlin.


Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online. Born in Brazil, he's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. He is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Fear And Loathing in the House of Saud

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Originally published in Sputnik on January 8, 2016


Desperation does not even begin to describe the current plight of the House of Saud.

Riyadh was fully aware the beheading of respected Saudi Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr was a deliberate provocation bound to elicit a rash Iranian response.

The Saudis calculated they could get away with it; after all they employ the best American PR machine petrodollars can buy, and are viscerally defended by the usual gaggle of nasty US neo-cons.   

In a post-Orwellian world "order" where war is peace and "moderate" jihadis get a free pass, a House of Saud oil hacienda cum beheading paradise — devoid of all civilized norms of political mediation and civil society participation — heads the UN Commission on Human Rights and fattens the US industrial-military complex to the tune of billions of dollars while merrily exporting demented Wahhabi/Salafi-jihadism from MENA (Middle East-Northern Africa) to Europe and from the Caucasus to East Asia. 

And yet major trouble looms. Erratic King Salman's move of appointing his son, the supremely arrogant and supremely ignorant Prince Mohammad bin Salman to number two in the line of succession has been contested even among Wahhabi hardliners.

But don't count on petrodollar-controlled Arab media to tell the story.

English-language TV network Al-Arabiyya, for instance, based in the Emirates, long financed by House of Saud members, and owned by the MBC conglomerate, was bought by none other than Prince Mohammad himself, who will also buy MBC.

With oil at less than $40 a barrel, largely thanks to Saudi Arabia's oil war against both Iran and Russia, Riyadh's conventional wars are taking a terrible toll. The budget has collapsed and the House of Saud has been forced to raise taxes.

The illegal war on Yemen, conducted with full US acquiescence, led by — who else — Prince Mohammad, and largely carried out by the proverbial band of mercenaries, has instead handsomely profited al-Qaeda in the Arabic Peninsula (AQAP), just as the war on Syria has profited mostly Jabhat al-Nusra, a.k.a. al-Qaeda in Syria.

Three months ago, Saudi ulemas called for a jihad not only against Damascus but also Tehran and Moscow without the "civilized" West batting an eyelid; after all the ulemas were savvy enough to milk the "Russian aggression" bandwagon, comparing the Russian intervention in Syria, agreed with Damascus, with the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.   

US Think Tankland revels in spinning that the beheading provocation was a "signal" to Tehran that Riyadh will not tolerate Iranian influence among Shi'ites living in predominantly Sunni states. And yet Beltway cackle that Riyadh hoped to contain "domestic Shi'ite tensions" by beheading al-Nimr does not even qualify as a lousy propaganda script. To see why this is nonsense, let's take a quick tour of Saudi Arabia's Eastern province. 

All Eyes on Al Sharqiyya

Saudi Arabia is essentially a huge desert island. Even though the oil hacienda is bordered by the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, the Saudis don't control what matters: the key channels of communication/energy exporting bottlenecks — the Bab el-Mandeb and the Straits of Hormuz, not to mention the Suez canal.

Enter US "protection" as structured in a Mafia-style "offer you can't refuse" arrangement; we guarantee safe passage for the oil export flow through our naval patrols and you buy from us, non-stop, a festival of weapons and host our naval bases alongside other GCC minions. The "protection" used to be provided by the former British empire. So Saudi Arabia — as well as the GCC — remains essentially an Anglo-American satrapy.         

Al Sharqiyya — the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia — holds only 4 million people, the overwhelming majority Shi'ites. And yet it produces no less than 80% of Saudi oil. The heart of the action is the provincial capital Al Qatif, where Nimr al-Nimr was born. We're talking about the largest oil hub on the planet, consisting of 12 crisscrossed pipelines that connect to massive Gulf oil terminals such as Dhahran and Ras Tanura.

Enter the strategic importance of neighboring Bahrain. Historically, all the lands from Basra in southern Iraq to the peninsula of Musandam, in Oman — traditional trade posts between Europe and India — were known as Bahrain ("between two seas").

Tehran could easily use neighboring Bahrain to infiltrate Al Sharqiyya, detach it from Riyadh's control, and configure a "Greater Bahrain" allied with Iran. That's the crux of the narrative peddled by petrodollar-controlled media, the proverbial Western "experts", and incessantly parroted in the Beltway.  

Workers rest at Ras Tannura's oil production plant near Dammam in Saudi Arabia's eastern province

There's no question Iranian hardliners cherish the possibility of a perpetual Bahraini thorn on Riyadh's side. That would imply weaponizing a popular revolution in Al Sharqiyya.  But the fact is not even Nimr al-Nimr was in favor of a secession of Al Sharqiyya. 

And that's also the view of the Rouhani administration in Tehran. Whether disgruntled youth across Al Sharqiyya will finally have had enough with the beheading of al-Nimr it's another story; it may open a Pandora's box that will not exactly displease the IRGC in Tehran.  

But the heart of the matter is that Team Rouhani perfectly understands the developing Southwest Asia chapter of the New Great Game, featuring the re-emergence of Iran as a regional superpower; all of the House of Saud's moves, from hopelessly inept to major strategic blunder, betray utter desperation with the end of the old order.  

That spans everything from an unwinnable war (Yemen) to a blatant provocation (the beheading of al-Nimr) and a non sequitur such as the new Islamic 34-nation anti-terror coalition which most alleged members didn't even know they were a part of. 

The supreme House of Saud obsession rules, drenched in fear and loathing: the Iranian "threat".

Riyadh, which is clueless on how to play geopolitical chess — or backgammon — will keep insisting on the oil war, as it cannot even contemplate a military confrontation with Tehran. And everything will be on hold, waiting for the next tenant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue; will he/she be tempted to pivot back to Southwest Asia, and cling to the old order (not likely, as Washington relies on becoming independent from Saudi oil)? Or will the House of Saud be left to its own — puny — devices among the shark-infested waters of hardcore geopolitics?


PepePepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Collapse Cafe 12/13/2015: COP21 and other Fantasies

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on December 15, 2015

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Our final Vidcast for 2015, this time with Ugo Bardi of Cassandra's Legacy, Steve Ludlum of Economic Undertow and Tom Lewis of The Daily Impact.

Main topics for this discussion were the outcomes of the COP21 Climate Conference in Paris, the escalating warfare between NATO, Russia, Syria and Turkey in MENA and the collapse of a few Hedge Funds in the last week.

Another very enlightening discussion overall, although WARNING here, Ugo had technical issues which garbled his contributions in the first half of the vidcast.  It got fixed later, but his early contributions are hard to make out.  Everyone else rendered fine however.

We'll be BACK in 2016 with more Collapse Jawboning, assuming the Internet does not Go Dark on New Year's Eve.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year to all you Doomers out there!

Audio Only, Download on Diner Soundcloud to listen on your phone or mp3 player

Also, don't miss this Blast from the Past Rant!!!

Kurrency Kollapse:  To Print or not to Print

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The Bizarre Explanation for not Bombing ISIS

Smoke and fire from an Israeli bomb rises into the air ove Gaza Citygc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on the The Economic Collapse on November 29, 2015

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The Bizarre Explanation For Why The U.S. Has Avoided Bombing ISIS Oil Wells

What - Public DomainWhy hasn’t the U.S. bombed the oil wells that ISIS controls into oblivion by now?  Would you believe that it is because the Obama administration “didn’t want to do environmental damage”?  Former Deputy Director of the CIA Michael Morell has publicly admitted that we have purposely avoided damaging the main source of income for ISIS, and his explanation for why we were doing this is utterly bizarre.  But at this point what could the Obama administration say that would actually make sense?  Everyone now knows that ISIS has been making hundreds of millions of dollars selling oil in Turkey, and that this has been done with the full knowledge and complicity of the Obama White House.  This is potentially the biggest scandal of the entire Obama presidency, and yet so far the Republicans have not jumped on it.

If you or I even gave five bucks to ISIS, we would be arrested and hauled off to Guantanamo Bay.  And yet Barack Obama is allowing ISIS to funnel massive quantities of oil through our NATO ally Turkey, and he is not doing anything to stop this from happening.  It is a betrayal of the American people that is so vast that it is hard to put into words.

By now, virtually everyone on the entire planet knows exactly what is going on.  For example, Iraq’s former National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie shared the following on his Facebook page on Saturday

“First and foremost, the Turks help the militants sell stolen Iraqi and Syrian oil for $20 a barrel, which is half the market price.”

Until Russia started bombing the living daylights out of them, an endless parade of trucks carrying ISIS oil would go back and forth over the Turkish border completely unmolested.  Following the downing of a Russian SU-24 bomber by Turkey in an area where many of these trucks travel, Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to publicly air this dirty laundry.  Just check out what he told reporters following a meeting with French President Francois Hollande last week

Commercial-scale oil smuggling from Islamic State controlled territory into Turkey must be stopped, Putin said after meeting Hollande in Moscow.

Vehicles, carrying oil, lined up in a chain going beyond the horizon,” said Putin, reminding the press that the scale of the issue was discussed at the G20 summit in Antalya earlier this month, where the Russian leader demonstrated reconnaissance footage taken by Russian pilots.

The views resemble a living oil pipe stretched from ISIS and rebel controlled areas of Syria into Turkey, the Russian President stressed. Day and night they are going to Turkey. Trucks always go there loaded, and back from there – empty.

We are talking about a commercial-scale supply of oil from the occupied Syrian territories seized by terrorists. It is from these areas [that oil comes from], and not with any others. And we can see it from the air, where these vehicles are going,” Putin said.

If the Russians could see all of this, the U.S. military could see it too.  In fact, we have far better surveillance capabilities than the Russians do.

So why didn’t Obama put an end to this?

Well, as I mentioned above, former Deputy Director of the CIA Michael Morell told PBS that the Obama administration didn’t want “to create environmental damage”, and he insists that the oil wells are “infrastructure that’s going to be necessary to support the people when ISIS isn’t there anymore”.  The following comes from the Daily Caller

Appearing on PBS’s “Charlie Rose” on Tuesday, Rose pointed out that before the terrorist attacks in Paris, the U.S. had not bombed ISIS-controlled oil tankers.

Morell explained, “Prior to Paris, there seemed to be a judgment that … look, we don’t want to destroy these oil tankers because that’s infrastructure that’s going to be necessary to support the people when ISIS isn’t there anymore, and it’s going to create environmental damage. And we didn’t go after oil wells — actually hitting oil wells that ISIS controls because we didn’t want to do environmental damage and we didn’t want to destroy that infrastructure, right.”

In case you think that this is some sort of a joke, you can watch video of Morell making these comments on PBS below

 

After the horrific terror attacks in Paris, the Obama administration finally was shamed into bombing a few of these oil trucks.  But 45 minutes before the U.S. military bombed them, they dropped leaflets telling the truck drivers to “get out of your trucks now and run away from them”.

Leaflet

What kind of “war on terror” are we running?

Why in the world would we want to warn the terrorists to get away from their trucks?

Meanwhile, things between Russia and Turkey continue to get even more tense.  The Russians have slapped severe economic sanctions on the Turks, they have shut down all channels of communication with Turkey’s military, and they are bombing every Turkish vehicle that they can find inside Syria.  The following comes from a report that was put out by Debka

In the last two days, Putin has been found saying one thing and doing another: Although he declared that Russia would not go to war with Turkey for “stabbing it in the back”, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report that since Wednesday night, Nov. 25, Russian heavy bombers and warplanes have been hitting every Turkish vehicle moving or stationary inside Syria.

They bombed the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, located on the Turkey-Syria frontier, as well trailers and tractors parked in an area belonging to the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation, on the Syrian side of the border.

As I wrote about the other day, it has been documented that our NATO ally Turkey has been “training ISIS militants, funneling weapons to them, buying their oil, and tending to their wounded in Turkish hospitals”.  Now, heavy bombing by the Russians threatens to cut off those links

In addition to punishing the Turkish leader, Russia’s massive military operations in Syria aim to degrade the rebel groups fighting the Assad regime. Heavy bombing sorties this week on the Syrian-Turkish border are cutting off tens of thousands of rebels from their only source of fresh supplies of weapons, ammo, food and fighters, leaving them without a line of retreat and nowhere to send their wounded.

At this point, Russia and Turkey are very close to a state of war.

But as a member of NATO, the United States is obligated to help protect Turkey if a full-blown shooting war does break out.

We are closer to World War III than we have been in decades, and yet most Americans are still completely and totally oblivious to what is taking place.

Hopefully cooler heads will prevail, because things over in the Middle East threaten to spiral completely and totally out of control.

Logistics 101: Where Does ISIS Get Its Guns?

Off the keyboard of Anthony Cartalucci

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Published on Land Destroyer on June 10, 2015

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Since ancient times an army required significant logistical support to carry out any kind of sustained military campaign. In ancient Rome, an extensive network of roads was constructed to facilitate not only trade, but to allow Roman legions to move quickly to where they were needed, and for the supplies needed to sustain military operations to follow them in turn.
 

Image: The other half of the war is logistics. Without a steady stream of supplies, armies no matter how strong or determined will be overwhelmed and defeated. What explains then ISIS' fighting prowess and the immense logitical networks it would need to maintain it? 

In the late 1700's French general, expert strategist, and leader Napoleon Bonaparte would note that, "an army marches on its stomach," referring to the extensive logistical network required to keep an army fed, and therefore able to maintain its fighting capacity. For the French, their inability to maintain a steady supply train to its forces fighting in Russia, and the Russians' decision to burn their own land and infrastructure to deny it from the invading forces, ultimately defeated the French.

Nazi Germany would suffer a similar fate when it too overextended its logical capabilities during its invasion of Russia amid Operation Barbarossa. Once again, invading armies became stranded without limited resources before being either cut off and annihilated or forced to retreat.

And in modern times during the Gulf War in the 1990's an extended supply line trailing invading US forces coupled with an anticipated clash with the bulk of Saddam Hussein's army halted what was otherwise a lighting advance many mistakenly believed could have reached Baghdad had there been the political will. The will to conquer was there, the logistics to implement it wasn't.

The lessons of history however clear they may be, appear to be entirely lost on an either supremely ignorant or incredibly deceitful troupe of policymakers and news agencies across the West.

ISIS' Supply Lines

The current conflict consuming the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Syria where the so-called "Islamic State" (ISIS) is operating and simultaneously fighting and defeating the forces of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran, we are told, is built upon a logistical network based on black market oil and ransom payments.

The fighting capacity of ISIS is that of a nation-state. It controls vast swaths of territory straddling both Syria and Iraq and not only is able to militarily defend and expand from this territory, but possesses the resources to occupy it, including the resources to administer the populations subjugated within it.

For military analysts, especially former members of Western armed forces, as well as members of the Western media who remember the convoys of trucks required for the invasions of Iraq in the 1990s and again in 2003, they surely must wonder where ISIS' trucks are today. After all, if the resources to maintain the fighting capacity exhibited by ISIS were available within Syrian and Iraqi territory alone, then certainly Syrian and Iraqi forces would also posses an equal or greater fighting capacity but they simply do not.

And were ISIS' supply lines solely confined within Syrian and Iraqi territory, then surely both Syrian and Iraqi forces would utilize their one advantage – air power – to cut front line ISIS fighters from the source of their supplies. But this is not happening and there is a good reason why.
 

Image: Recent maps showing ISIS' territory show obvious supply lines leading from Jordan and Turkey. Should Syria and its allies manage to cut these supply lines, one wonders just how long ISIS' so-far inexplicable winning streak would last.


ISIS' supply lines run precisely where Syrian and Iraqi air power cannot go. To the north and into NATO-member Turkey, and to the southwest into US allies Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Beyond these borders exists a logistical network that spans a region including both Eastern Europe and North Africa.

Terrorists and weapons left over from NATO's intervention in Libya in 2011 were promptly sent to Turkey and then onto Syria – coordinated by US State Department officials and intelligence agencies in Benghazi – a terrorist hotbed for decades.

The London Telegraph would report in their 2013 article, "CIA 'running arms smuggling team in Benghazi when consulate was attacked'," that:

[CNN] said that a CIA team was working in an annex near the consulate on a project to supply missiles from Libyan armouries to Syrian rebels.

Weapons have also come from Eastern Europe, with the New York Times reporting in 2013 in their article, "Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.," that:

From offices at secret locations, American intelligence officers have helped the Arab governments shop for weapons, including a large procurement from Croatia, and have vetted rebel commanders and groups to determine who should receive the weapons as they arrive, according to American officials speaking on the condition of anonymity.

And while Western media sources continuously refer to ISIS and other factions operating under the banner of Al Qaeda as "rebels" or "moderates," it is clear that if billions of dollars in weapons were truly going to "moderates," they, not ISIS would be dominating the battlefield.

Recent revelations have revealed that as early as 2012 the United States Department of Defense not only anticipated the creation of a "Salafist Principality" straddling Syria and Iraq precisely where ISIS now exists, it welcomed it eagerly and contributed to the circumstances required to bring it about.

Just How Extensive Are ISIS' Supply Lines? 
While many across the West play willfully ignorant as to where ISIS truly gets their supplies from in order to maintain its impressive fighting capacity, some journalists have traveled to the region and have video taped and reported on the endless convoys of trucks supplying the terrorist army.

Were these trucks traveling to and from factories in seized ISIS territory deep within Syrian and Iraqi territory? No. They were traveling from deep within Turkey, crossing the Syrian border with absolute impunity, and headed on their way with the implicit protection of nearby Turkish military forces. Attempts by Syria to attack these convoys and the terrorists flowing in with them have been met by Turkish air defenses.

Germany's international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) published the first video report from a major Western media outlet illustrating that ISIS is supplied not by "black market oil" or "hostage ransoms" but billions of dollars worth of supplies carried into Syria across NATO member Turkey's borders via hundreds of trucks a day.
 

Image: German national broadcaster DW reported on convoys of hundreds of trucks per day crossing into Syria from NATO-member Turkey with impunity, enroute to ISIS terrorists, finally explaining the source of the terrorist army's fighting capacity. The trucks were reported by DW to have originated from deep within Turkish territory – most likely NATO air bases and ports. 

The report titled, "'IS' supply channels through Turkey," confirms what has been reported by geopolitical analysts since at least as early as 2011 – that ISIS subsides on immense, multi-national state sponsorship, including, obviously, Turkey itself.

Looking at maps of ISIS-held territory and reading action reports of its offensive maneuvers throughout the region and even beyond, one might imagine hundreds of trucks a day would be required to maintain this level of fighting capacity. One could imagine similar convoys crossing into Iraq from Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Similar convoys are likely passing into Syria from Jordan.

In all, considering the realities of logistics and their timeless importance to military campaigns throughout human history, there is no other plausible explanation to ISIS's ability to wage war within Syria and Iraq besides immense resources being channeled to it from abroad.

If an army marches on its stomach, and ISIS' stomachs are full of NATO and Persian Gulf State supplies, ISIS will continue to march long and hard. The key to breaking the back of ISIS, is breaking the back of its supply lines. To do that however, and precisely why the conflict has dragged on for so long, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and others would have to eventually secure the borders and force ISIS to fight within Turkish, Jordanian, and Saudi territory – a difficult scenario to implement as nations like Turkey have created defacto buffer zones within Syrian territory which would require a direct military confrontation with Turkey itself to eliminate.

With Iran joining the fray with an alleged deployment of thousands of troops to bolster Syrian military operations, overwhelming principles of deterrence may prevent Turkey enforcing its buffer zones.

What we are currently left with is NATO literally holding the region hostage with the prospect of a catastrophic regional war in a bid to defend and perpetuate the carnage perpetrated by ISIS within Syria, fully underwritten by an immense logistical network streaming out of NATO territory itself.

Iran is ready to crash Pipelineistan

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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03_TURKMEN-PIPELINE (2)

Originally published in Asia Times on March 20, 2015

Way beyond an Iran nuclear deal, and way beyond the end of a nasty economic siege that’s been in place for 35 years since the Islamic Revolution, the coming Western embrace means above all that Iran is now ready to crash the chessboard I call Pipelineistan.

By the mid-2000s, one of the top mantras of energy analysts in Iran and across Asia was what was known as the Asian Energy Security Grid. Translation: a pan-Asian integration via energy flows of the region’s oil and gas. Pipelineistan connected these relevant dots in the Eurasian chessboard.

Washington was always set on stopping Pipelineistan in its tracks. Case in point: the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, a Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski brainchild that was built for almost $6 billion as an explicit geopolitical weapon to bypass Iran’s energy exports.

Another example is frantic efforts by both the Bush junior and Obama administrations to derail the former Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline, also known as “peace pipeline”, which may eventually be built and named  IP – for Iran-Pakistan.

Now it’s a completely different story. Even U.S. Big Oil is salivating at the prospect of doing business with Iran on energy.

Beijing, for its part, already is.  Iran is invariably among China’s top three energy sources. Not by accident, Chinese President Xi Jinping will soon visit Tehran; Foreign Minister Wang Yi has already promised “dramatic” announcements – and China’s Foreign Ministry is not exactly prone to hyperbole. For Beijing, the energy relationship with Tehran is no less than a matter of national security.

China also remains a top client of Saudi oil. But buying oil from the Persian Gulf and having it shipped via the vulnerable Strait of Malacca is not exactly Beijing’s idea of a bright future.

The vastly complex Chinese energy strategy, bent on diversification of sources, could be summarized as “escape from Malacca”. And now, with ISIS/ISIL/Daesh holding large – though mostly empty – parts of “Syraq”, the Middle East as a whole becomes even more of a problem.

Beijing is alarmed at the growing possibility of a demented Caliphate export contaminating large swathes of Xinjiang – the key Chinese node of the upcoming, overland New Silk Road.

The key branch of the overland New Silk Road – the other one will be via the Trans-Siberian – links China via Xinjiang to Central Asia, Iran and Turkey.

So Beijing needs to maintain excellent relations with both Iran and Turkey. At the same time, it must avoid antagonizing the House of Saud. In energy terms, the ideal solution would be massive investment in gas pipelines originating from Iran and linked to Turkmenistan, which is already linked to Western China via pipelines built by the Chinese.

Even during the Ahmadinejad years – via a “Look East” policy – Iran was already going into overdrive to make Pipelineistan a reality. This involved courting China, India and Pakistan, by keeping steady relations with Turkey.

The anticipated Asian Energy Security Grid, in many aspects, is already a go. Yet the big prize is, of course, the EU. There is talk about forming a Eurasia Security Grid.

For years, I’ve heard the same mantra in Brussels: If only we could buy loads of oil and gas from Iran to escape the grip of Russia’s Gazprom – but the Americans won’t let us.

The time is now. Euro Big Energy is dying to hit the road to do business with Tehran. The figure from eight years ago, given to me by an Iranian energy analyst, hasn’t changed much. Iran needs roughly $200 billion to upgrade its energy industry and start re-exporting oil en masse.

So it’s no wonder Tehran’s already holding close talks with Switzerland and the EU to work out the initial details of selling more gas to Europe. Hiking oil exports – from currently 1.1 million barrels a day to roughly 2 million – may also be feasible. But to go beyond that would take years and a veritable tsunami of investment.

At the same time, the major European players are willing  and able to make a geopolitical shift when it comes to oil and gas. All (energy) roads now lead to Tehran.

 

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Russia, Turkey pivot across Eurasia

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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THE ROVING EYE

Putin-chess

Originally published in Asia Times on December 8, 2014
Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

 

The latest, spectacular “Exit South Stream, Enter Turk Stream” Pipelinistan gambit will be sending big geopolitical shockwaves all across Eurasia for quite some time. This is what the New Great Game in Eurasia is all about.

In a nutshell, a few years ago Russia devised North Stream – fully operational – and South Stream – still a project – to bypass unreliable Ukraine as a gas transit nation. Now Russia devises a new sweet deal with Turkey to bypass the “non-constructive” (Putin’s words) approach of the European Commission (EC) concerning the European “Third Energy Package”, which prohibits one company from controlling the full cycle of extraction, transportation and sale of energy resources.

Background is essential to understand the current game. Already five years ago I was following in detail Pipelineistan’s ultimateopera – the war between rival pipelines South Stream and Nabucco. Nabucco eventually became road kill. South Stream may eventually be resurrected, but only if the EC comes to its senses (don’t bet on it.)

The 3,600 kilometer South Stream should be in place by 2016, branching out to Austria and the Balkans/Italy. Gazprom owns it with a 50% stake – along with Italy’s ENI (20%), French EDF (15%) and German Wintershall, a subsidiary of BASF (15%). As it stands, these European energy majors are not exactly beaming – to say the least. For months, Gazprom and the EC were haggling about a solution, but in the end Brussels predictably succumbed to its own mediocrity – and relentless US pressure over weak-link and European Union member Bulgaria.

Russia still gets to build a pipeline under the Black Sea, but one now redirected to Turkey and, crucially, pumping the same amount of gas South Stream would. Not to mention Russia gets to build a new LNG (liquefied natural gas) central hub in the Mediterranean. Thus Gazprom has not spent US$5 billion in vain (finance, engineering costs). The redirection makes total business sense. Turkey is Gazprom’s second-biggest customer after Germany; much bigger than Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria combined.

Russia also advances a unified gas distribution network capable of delivering natural gas from anywhere in Russia to any hub alongside Russia’s borders.

And as if it was needed, Russia gets yet another graphic proof that its real growth market in the future is Asia, especially China – not a fearful, stagnated, austerity-devastated, politically paralyzed EU. The evolving Russia-China strategic partnership implies Russia as complementary to China, excelling in major infrastructure projects from building of dams to laying out pipelines. This is trans-Eurasia business with a sharp geopolitical reach and not subjected to ideology-drenched politics.

Russian “defeat”? Really?
Turkey also made a killing. It’s not only the deal with Gazprom; Moscow will build no less than Turkey’s entire nuclear industry, and there will be increased soft power interaction (more trade and tourism). Most of all, Turkey is now increasingly on the verge of becoming a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); Moscow is actively lobbying for it.

This means Turkey acceding to a privileged position as a major hub simultaneously in the Eurasian Economic Belt and of course the Chinese New Silk Road(s). The EU blocks Turkey? Turkey looks East. That’s Eurasian integration on the move.

Washington has tried very hard to create a New Berlin Wall from the Baltics to the Black Sea to “isolate” Russia. And yet Team “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” in Washington never saw it coming – yet another Putin judo/chess/go counterpunch applied exactly across the Black Sea.

Asia Times Online has been reporting for years how Turkey’s key strategic imperative is to configure itself as the indispensable energy crossroads from East to West – transiting everything from Iraqi oil to Caspian Sea gas. Oil from Azerbaijan already transits Turkey via the Bill Clinton/Zbig Brzezinski-propelled BTC (Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan) pipeline. Turkey would also be the crossroads if a Trans-Caspian pipeline is ever built (slim chances as it stands), pumping natural gas from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan, then transported to Turkey and finally Europe.

So what Putin’s judo/chess/go counterpunch accomplished with a single move is to have stupid EU sanctions once again hurt the EU. The German economy is already hurting badly because of lost Russia business.

The EC brilliant “strategy” revolves around the EU’s Third Energy Package, which requires that pipelines and the natural gas flowing inside them must be owned by separate companies. The target of this package has always been Gazprom – which owns pipelines in many Central and Eastern European nations. The target within the target has always been South Stream.

Now it’s up to Bulgaria and Hungary, which have always fought the EC “strategy”, to explain the fiasco to their own populations, and to keep pressing Brussels; after all they are bound to lose a fortune, not to mention get no gas, with South Stream out of the picture. Bulgaria alone reportedly has lost more than 6,000 new jobs and over $3 billion of investment due to the loss of South Stream.

So here’s the bottom line; Russia sells even more gas – to Turkey; Turkey gets much-needed gas with a cool discount; and the EU, pressured by the Empire of Chaos, is reduced to dance, dance, dance like a bunch of headless chickens in dark Brussels corridors wondering what hit them. And while the Atlanticists are back to default mode – cooking up yet more sanctions – Russia is set to keep buying more and more gold.

Watch those spears
This is not the endgame – far from it. In the near future, many variables will intersect.

Ankara’s game may change – but that’s far from a given. President Recep Erdogan – the Sultan of Constantinople – has certainly identified a rival, Caliph Ibrahim of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh fame, trying to steal his mojo. Thus the sultan may flirt with mollifying his neo-Ottoman dreams and contemplate steering Turkey back to its previously ditched “zero problems with our neighbors” foreign policy doctrine.

Not so fast. Erdogan’s game so far was the same as that of the House of Saud and Qatar’s House of Thani; get rid of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to allow an oil pipeline from Saudi Arabia and a gas pipeline from the South Pars/North Dome mega-field in Qatar. This pipeline would be Qatar-Iraq-Syria-Turkey, rivaling the already proposed, $10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline. Final customers: the EU, of course, desperate in its “escape from Gazprom” offensive.

So what now? Will Erdogan abandon his “Assad must go” obsession? It’s too early to tell. The Turkish Foreign Ministry is spinning to the media that Washington and Ankara are about to agree on a no-fly zone along the Turkish-Syria border – even as the White House, earlier this week, insisted the idea had been scrapped.

The House of Saud is like a camel lost in the Arctic. The House of Saud’s lethal game in Syria always boiled down to regime change so that the Saudi-sponsored oil pipeline from Syria to Turkey might be built. Now the Saudis see Russia about to supply all of Turkey’s energy needs – and still be positioned to sell more gas to the EU in the near future. And Assad still won’t go.

But it is US neo-cons who are sharpening their poisonous spears with gusto. As soon as early 2015 there may be a Ukrainian Freedom Act in the US House of Representatives. Translation: Ukraine being dubbed a “major US non-NATO ally”, which means, in practice, a virtual NATO annexation. Next step: more turbo-charged neo-con provocation of Russia.

A possible scenario is vassal/puppies such as Romania or Bulgaria, pressed by Washington, deciding to allow full access of NATO vessels into the Black Sea. Who cares that this would violate current Black Sea agreements that affect both Russia and Turkey?

And then there’s a dangerous Rumsfeldian “known unknown”: how the fragile Balkans will feel subordinated to the whims of Ankara. As much as Brussels keeps Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia in a strait jacket, in energy terms they will start depending on Turkey’s goodwill.

For the moment, let’s appreciate the magnitude of the geopolitical shockwaves after Putin’s latest judo/chess/go combo. And get ready for another chapter of Russia’s “pivoting across Eurasia”. Putin hits Delhi next weekend. Expect another geopolitical bombshell.

Pepe Escobar’s new book, just out, is Empire of Chaos. Follow him on Facebook.

 

 

 

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

The Caliph fit to join OPEC

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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THE ROVING EYE

caliphate-isis

Originally published in Asia Times on November 1, 2014
Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

Islamic State leader Caliph Ibrahim – aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – never ceases to amaze us – and most of all his powerful petrodollar-stuffed backers. The Caliph is for all practical purposes now an oil major worth of membership of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). His takfiri/mercenary goons – in theory – have for some time been extracting, refining, shipping and/or smuggling and clinching juicy deals involving vast quantities of oil, reaping profits of roughly US$2 million a day.

The Caliph’s oil prices are to die (be beheaded?) for; after all, he’s implementing the same low-price strategy concocted by the people he wants to dethrone in Mecca, the House of Saud. The caliphate’s GDP across “Syraq” has only one way to go: up.

And oh, the irony Top customers for The Caliph’s cheap oil happen to be “Sultan” Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Earthly paradise, aka Turkey – a North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally – and that King “Playstation” Abdullah II ibn al-Hussein’s domain impersonating a country, aka Jordan.

Meanwhile, the awesome, immensely sophisticated military apparatus/intel agency acronym fest deployed by “free” US/NATO somehow is simply unable to register/intercept this racket.

Not surprising, when they somehow had not previously registered/intercepted The Caliph’s goons taking over large swaths of “Syraq” this summer with their cross-desert version of rolling thunder – that gleaming white Toyota promo ad.

As for the Empire of Chaos “solution” to intercept The Caliph’s oil profits, the only decision so far has been to bomb oil pipelines that belong to the Syrian Arab Republic, that is, ultimately, the Syrian people.

Never underestimate the capacity of US President Barack Obama’s “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” foreign policy doctrine to soar towards unreachable stupidity heights.

Yo sheikh, talk to the hand
Then there’s that fateful Secretary of State John Kerry/House of Saud capo hand-kissing fest that took place in Riyadh last month.

In this masterful piece, William Engdahl goes no-holds-barred on the supposed Saudi-US cheap oil/bomb Bashar al-Assad/undermine Russia deal. Yet there may not have been a direct deal; more like Washington and Riyadh working in tandem towards common objectives: regime change in Syria in the long term, and undermining both Iran and Russia in the short term.

As for that crucial Pipelineistan gambit central to the Syrian riddle – a gas pipeline running from Qatar to regime-changed Syria, instead of Iran-Iraq-Syria – that’s not exactly a Saudi, but a rival Qatari priority.

What Kerry did give was the Master’s Voice seal of approval to the Saudi strategy of low oil prices, thinking short-term about US oil consumers at the pump, and medium-term on putting pressure on the revenues of both Iran and Russia. Yet he obviously played down the blow to the US shale gas industry.

The Saudis, for their part, have other key considerations, not least how to recover their market share across Asia – where their biggest customers are located. They are losing market share because of discounted crude sold by both Iran and Iraq. Thus, both must be “punished”, on top of the House of Saud’s pathological aversion to all things Shi’ite.

As for the big picture in Syria, Obama’s capo for dealing with The Caliph, General John Allen, laid down the law to Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awasat. He said, “[T]here is not going to be a military solution here [in Syria]”. And he also said, “The intent is not to create a field force to liberate Damascus.”

Short translation: those old goons of the previously “winning against Assad” Free Syrian Army (FSA) are now six feet under. And the new FSA goons to be trained in – of all places – Saudi Arabia are not exactly being regarded as holy saviors. For all practical purposes, the medium-term scenario spells out more US bombing (of infrastructure belonging to the Syrian nation); no regime change in Damascus; and The Caliph steadily consolidating his wins.

And finally, the Hollywood factor
Imagine if shabby “historical” al-Qaeda had these ultra-slick PR skills. Bearded has-beens with old Kalashnikovs in Afghan caves is so passe. The Caliph not only smuggles tens of thousands of barrels of oil a day undetected, but he also deploys a British hostage turned foreign correspondent (and who may have converted to the Salafi version of Islam) reporting from a hollowed out Kobani about to be totally captured by a bunch of takfiris and mercenaries (they certainly are not mujahideen).

One’s gotta marvel at the production values. The Caliph’s special report opens with drone footage of Kobani. Is it an American drone? Was it captured in Iraq? Is it an Israeli drone? Turkish? Brit? The “mujahideen” certainly are not on Lockheed Martin’s speed dial – yet.

Meanwhile, on the ground, only now has Ankara allowed roughly 200 peshmergas from Iraqi Kurdistan – whose slippery leaders do business with Turkey – to cross the border to, in theory, help Kobani. No soldiers, weapons or supplies are allowed for the Kurdish PKK/PYD forces which have been actually defending Kobani all along. Sultan Erdogan’s endless procrastination will be judged by any independent investigation as the key element in allowing the possible fall of Kobani.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu once again has laid down the “conditions” for his country to help with the – so far spectacularly innocuous – US campaign against The Caliph; the possible liberators of Kobani must only be Iraqi peshmergas, and remaining FSA goons, not “terrorists” (as in PKK/PYD).

In the end, Kobani – precisely on the border between southeast Anatolia and northern Syria – is highly strategic. The situation on the ground is dire. There may be a little over 1,000 residents left, barricaded in their houses. Protecting them, a little over 2,000 Syrian Kurd fighters, including the female Ishtar brigade. Only 200 peshmergas coming from Iraqi Kurdistan are not going to make a huge difference against a few thousand heavily weaponized caliph goons deploying as many as 20 tanks. It does not look good, even though, unlike in the Caliph-approved Brit hostage report, the fake “mujahideen” are not in total control.

The Caliph, anyway, is bound to remain on a roll. Absolutely none of the above would be remotely possible without US/Western overt/covert complicity, proving once and for all that The Caliph is the ultimate gift that keeps on giving in the eternal GWOT (Global War On Terra). How come the Dick Cheney regime never thought about that?

 

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

The Kobani Riddle

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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THE ROVING EYE

kobani

Originally published in Asia Times on October 24, 2014
Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

 

The brave women of Kobani – where Syrian Kurds are desperately fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh – are about to be betrayed by the “international community”. These women warriors, apart from Caliph Ibrahim’s goons, are also fighting treacherous agendas by the US, Turkey and the administration of Iraqi Kurdistan. So what’s the real deal in Kobani?

Let’s start by talking about Rojava. The full meaning of Rojava – the three mostly Kurdish provinces of northern Syria – is conveyed in this editorial (in Turkish) published by jailed activist Kenan Kirkaya. He argues that Rojava is the home of a “revolutionary model” that no less than challenges “the hegemony of the capitalist, nation-state system” – way beyond its regional “meaning for Kurds, or for Syrians or Kurdistan.”
Kobani – an agricultural region – happens to be at the epicenter of this non-violent experiment in democracy, made possible by an arrangement early on during the Syrian tragedy between Damascus and Rojava (you don’t go for regime change against us, we leave you alone). Here, for instance, it’s argued that “even if only a single aspect of true socialism were able to survive there, millions of discontented people would be drawn to Kobani.”

In Rojava, decision-making is via popular assemblies – multicultural and multi-religious. The top three officers in each municipality are a Kurd, an Arab and an Assyrian or Armenian Christian; and at least one of these three must be a woman. Non-Kurd minorities have their own institutions and speak their own languages.

Among a myriad of women’s and youth councils, there is also an increasingly famous feminist army, the YJA Star militia (“Union of Free Women”, with the “star” symbolizing Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar).

The symbolism could not be more graphic; think of the forces of Ishtar (Mesopotamia) fighting the forces of ISIS (originally an Egyptian goddess), now transmogrified into an intolerant Caliphate. In the young 21st century, it’s the female barricades of Kobani that are in the forefront fighting fascism.

Inevitably there should be quite a few points of intersection between the International Brigades fighting fascism in Spain in 1936 and what is happening in Rojava, as stressed by one of the very few articles about it published in Western mainstream media.

If these components were not enough to drive crazy deeply intolerant Wahhabis and Takfiris (and their powerful Gulf petrodollar backers) then there’s the overall political set up.

The fight in Rojava is essentially led by the PYD, which is the Syrian branch of the Turkish PKK, the Marxist guerrillas at war against Ankara since the 1970s. Washington, Brussels and NATO – under relentless Turkish pressure – have always officially ranked both PYD and PKK as “terrorists”.

Careful examination of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan’s must-read book Democratic Confederalism reveals this terrorist/Stalinist equation as bogus (Ocalan has been confined to the island-prison of Imrali since 1999.)

What the PKK – and the PYD – are striving for is “libertarian municipalism”. In fact that’s exactly what Rojava has been attempting; self-governing communities applying direct democracy, using as pillars councils, popular assemblies, cooperatives managed by workers – and defended by popular militias. Thus the positioning of Rojava in the vanguard of a worldwide cooperative economics/democracy movement whose ultimate target would be to bypass the concept of a nation-state.

Not only this experiment is taking place politically across northern Syria; in military terms, it was the PKK and the PYD who actually managed to rescue those tens of thousands of Yazidis corralled by ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in Mount Sinjar, and not American bombs, as the spin went. And now, as PYD co-president Asya Abdullahdetails, what’s needed is a “corridor” to break the encirclement of Kobani by Caliph Ibrahim’s goons.

Sultan Erdogan’s power play
Ankara, meanwhile, seems intent to prolong a policy of “lots of problems with our neighbors.”

For Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz, “the main cause of ISIS is the Syrian regime”. And Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu – who invented the now defunct “zero problems with our neighbors” doctrine in the first place – has repeatedly stressed Ankara will only intervene with boots on the ground in Kobani to defend the Kurds if Washington presents a “post-Assad plan”.

And then there’s that larger than life character; Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, aka Sultan Erdogan.

Sultan Erdogan’s edicts are well known. Syrian Kurds should fight against Damascus under the command of that lousy fiction, the reconstituted (and to be trained, of all places, in Saudi Arabia) Free Syrian Army; they should forget about any sort of autonomy; they should meekly accept Turkey’s request for Washington to create a no-fly zone over Syria and also a “secured” border on Syrian territory. No wonder both the PYD and Washington have rejected these demands.

Sultan Erdogan has his eyes set on rebooting the peace process with the PKK; and he wants to lead it in a position of force. So far his only concession has been to allow Iraqi Kurd peshmergas to enter northern Syria to counter-balance the PYD-PKK militias, and thus prevent the strengthening of an anti-Turkish Kurdish axis.

At the same time Sultan Erdogan knows ISIS/ISIL/Daesh has already recruited up to 1,000 Turkish passport holders – and counting. His supplemental nightmare is that the toxic brew laying waste to “Syraq” will sooner rather than later mightily overspill inside Turkish borders.

Watch those barbarians at the gates
Caliph Ibrahim’s goons have already telegraphed their intention to massacre and/or enslave the entire civilian population of Kobani. And yet Kobani, per se, has no strategic value for ISIS/ISIL/Daesh (that’s what US Secretary of State John Kerry himself said last week; but then, predictably, he reversed himself). This very persuasive PYD commander though is very much aware of the ISIS/ISIL/Daesh threat.

Kobani is not essential compared to Deir ez-Zor (which has an airport supplying the Syrian Arab Army) or Hasakah (which has oil fields controlled by Kurds helped by the Syrian Arab Army). Kobani boasts no airport and no oil fields.

On the other hand, the fall of Kobani would generate immensely positive extra PR for the already very slick Caliph enterprise – widening the perception of a winning army especially among new, potential, EU passport holder recruits, as well as establishing a solid base very close to the Turkish border.

Essentially, what Sultan Erdogan is doing is to fight both Damascus (long-term) and the Kurds (medium term) while actually giving a free pass (short-term) to ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. And yet, further on down the road, Turkish journalist Fehim Tastekin is right; training non-existent “moderate” Syrian rebels in oh-so-democratic Saudi Arabia will only lead to the Pakistanization of Turkey. A remix – once again – of the scenario played out during the 1980s Afghan jihad.

As if this was not muddled enough, in a game changer – and reversing its “terrorist” dogma – Washington is now maintaining anentente cordiale with the PYD. And that poses an extra headache for Sultan Erdogan.

This give-and-take between Washington and the PYD is still up for grabs. Yet some facts on the ground spell it all out; more US bombing, more US air drops (including major fail air drops, wherethe freshly weaponized end up being The Caliph’s goons).

A key fact should not be overlooked. As soon as the PYD was more or less “recognized” by Washington, PYD head Saleh Muslim went to meet the wily Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leader Masoud Barzani. That’s when the PYD promised a “power sharing” with Barzani’s peshmergas on running Rojava.

Syrian Kurds who were forced to abandon Kobani and exile themselves in Turkey, and who support the PYD, cannot return to Syria; but Iraqi Kurds can go back and forth. This dodgy deal was brokered by the KRG’s intel chief, Lahur Talabani. The KRG, crucially, gets along very well with Ankara.

That sheds further light on Erdogan’s game; he wants the peshmerga – who are fierce enemies of the PKK – to become the vanguard against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh and thus undermine the PYD/PKK alliance. Once again, Turkey is pitting Kurds against Kurds.

Washington for its part is manipulating Kobani to completely legitimize – on a “humanitarian”, R2P vein – its crusade against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. It’s never enough to remember this whole thing started with a barrage of Washington spin about the bogus, ghostly Khorasan group preparing a new 9-11. Khorasan, predictably, entirely vanished from the news cycle.

In the long run, the American power play is a serious threat to the direct democracy experiment in Rojava, which Washington cannot but interpret as – God forbid! – a return of communism.

So Kobani is now a crucial pawn in a pitiless game manipulated by Washington, Ankara and Irbil. None of these actors want the direct democracy experiment in Kobani and Rojava to bloom, expand and start to be noticed all across the Global South. The women of Kobani are in mortal danger of being, if not enslaved, bitterly betrayed.

And it gets even more ominous when the ISIS/ISIL/Daesh play on Kobani is seen essentially for what it is; a diversionary tactic, a trap for the Obama administration. What The Caliph’s goons are really aiming at is Anbar province in Iraq – which they already largely control – and the crucial Baghdad belt. The barbarians are at the gates – not only Kobani’s but also Baghdad’s.

 

 

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Turkey Preparing for Syria Occupation?

Off the keyboard of Anthony Cartalucci

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Published on Land Destroyer on September 25, 2014

Democracy comes to you - bomber

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Turkey Preparing for Syria Occupation?

Image: Turkey’s population suffers the consequences of conflict stoked
intentionally across its border with Syria by its own government in Ankara.
Refugees created by chaos of NATO’s own meddling are straining state
resources that should be used to develop Turkey. (AP) 
September 25, 2014 (Tony Cartalucci – LD) – As Western-backed terrorists drive allegedly tens of thousands of refugees into Turkish territory, and amid what is being called a “sustainable, persistent campaign” of air assaults, missile strikes, and other assorted attacks on Syrian territory, the West is preparing to dust off plans to establish a “buffer zone” in northern Syria protected by NATO troops – particularly from Turkey.

Hurriyet Daily News in its article, “Turkey’s top soldier inspects troops on Syrian border as gov’t signals joining anti-ISIL bid, ” indicated Turkey was preparing to join the unilateral, illegal strikes on Syria led by the US and backed by several Persian Gulf autocracies. Hurriyet reported:

Turkey’s land forces commander inspected troops along the Syrian border on Sept. 24, as the Turkish government signaled a policy change in actively joining the international coalition led by the United States against the jihadist threat in Iraq and Syria. 

Land Forces Commander Gen. Hulusi Akar visited Turkey’s military facilities and troops deployed along the Syrian border, where he was briefed by officers in the field. 

Turkey boosted its military presence along the Syrian border to deal with refugee influx in recent years and with the potential Syrian offensive last year. There are also reports that the army has intensified its military mobility in the region after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attacked the Syrian Kurds in the Kobane region bordering Turkey.

Image: Even maps of ISIS territory used by the Western media reveal well-
defined corridors leading from Turkish territory and into both Syria and
Iraq. It is clear that ISIS is not a “state,” but rather an invasion and
occupation originating from NATO territory. 

While last year’s planned military offensive was to directly strike at the Syrian Arab Army for provocations later revealed to have been false flag attacks carried out against Turkey by the Turkish government itself, it appears that now the so-called “Islamic State,” (ISIS) will serve as cover for NATO’s extraterritorial ambitions.

ISIS, which is neither Islamic, nor a state, is the culmination of years of US, European, Persian Gulf, and Turkish cash, weapons, and semi-covert support.

Turkey in particular has served as a safe haven for ISIS terrorists for the past 3-4 years. In fact, maps showing ISIS’ territory across the Western media have clearly defined corridors leading directly from Turkish territory. The billions in cash, weapons, equipment, and even vehicles used to build what is now a mercenary force contesting power simultaneously in three nations – Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq – were provided by nations like Saudi Arabia and Qatar and funneled into terrorist hands by US CIA agents operating along Turkey’s border with Syria.

Despite the rhetorical shell game of renaming this mercenary force to confuse an unwitting public, no other explanation accounts for the scale of ISIS’ operations beyond concerted multinational state-sponsorship. If Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and Iraq are fighting ISIS, through the process of elimination, these state-sponsors – whether they admit it or not – can be easily identified.


Turkey’s Planned Occupation of Syria is a Documented Conspiracy 

Carving off territory from Syria and creating “buffer zones” was part of the US agenda in Syria for years – long before the threat of ISIS was wielded as a potential pretext for direct US military intervention. ISIS is simply the latest construct being used to implement the strategy.

While the idea of a buffer zone is meant to look like the latest honest attempt to solve a growing regional crisis and to “win” the war in Syria, in reality this has been planned since at least March of 2012, where the idea was proposed by the corporate-financier funded Brookings Institution in their “Middle East Memo #21” “Assessing Options for Regime Change” where it stated specifically (emphasis added):

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

Image: The Brookings Institution, Middle East Memo #21 “Assessing Options for Regime Change (.pdf),” makes no secret that the humanitarian “responsibility to protect” is but a pretext for long-planned regime change. Failing to sell the “humanitarian intervention,” the old “War on Terror” has been dusted off and utilized as a pretext.

Brookings continues by describing how Turkey’s aligning of vast amounts of weapons and troops along its border in coordination with Israeli efforts in the south of Syria, could help effect violent regime change in Syria (emphasis added):

In addition, Israel’s intelligence services have a strong knowledge of Syria, as well as assets within the Syrian regime that could be used to subvert the regime’s power base and press for Asad’s removal. Israel could posture forces on or near the Golan Heights and, in so doing, might divert regime forces from suppressing the opposition. This posture may conjure fears in the Asad regime of a multi-front war, particularly if Turkey is willing to do the same on its border and if the Syrian opposition is being fed a steady diet of arms and training. Such a mobilization could perhaps persuade Syria’s military leadership to oust Asad in order to preserve itself. Advocates argue this additional pressure could tip the balance against Asad inside Syria, if other forces were aligned properly. 

Clearly, a “buffer zone” is the next step for Western designs aimed at exacting regime change in Syria. It is also a step that merely needs a pretext to move forward. In 2012, fabricated border incidents with Turkey were being used to help implement this strategy but failed. Now the threat of ISIS is being used to resell the exact same scheme.

Turkey’s Daily Sabah would report in an article titled, “Turkish Army to be Authorized in Iraq and Syria. Davutoglu Says,” that:

Turkish government will ask for the parliament’s authorization for military operations in Syria and Iraq, the newly-elected PM Ahmet Davutoğlu said at a press conference on Tuesday.

The paper would also report:

“There can be two different bills depending on the risks in the region,” Davutoğlu said. “We hope that the security situation will not deteriorate for Turkey in the region and that we will not have to send armed forces.” 

Turkey will, however, take every means necessary against risks that will jeopardize the country’s national security and the region’s stability, according to Davutoğlu.

Of course, with US airstrikes carving out a vacuum soon to be filled with extremists uncontested by the Syrian Arab Army forced to back off in fear of provoking further Western aggression, the situation will undoubtedly “deteriorate.” Just as Turkey staged false flag operations along its border last year in attempts to trigger a war with Syria directly, and by supporting terrorists resulting in a predictable humanitarian catastrophe now spilling over into Turkey’ territory, the vacuum the US is intentionally creating is meant to be filled with terrorist mercenaries and NATO forces to protect them as the front is inched ever closer to Damascus in the form of a “buffer zone.”
The only way for Syria to prevent this from happening is for it and its allies to quickly assemble tactical, strategic, and political means with which to fill the void in eastern Syria to prevent the West’s “sustainable, persistent campaign” from taking root. Because if this campaign does take root, any attempts by Damascus to retake territory the West and its terrorist proxies are operating in  may trigger a direct confrontation between the US and Damascus – the ultimate provocation the West is searching for to conclude its long-stalled plans for regime change in Syria.Long-term US operations in Syrian territory, with or without Turkish forces involved, could still be turned into a trap by Syria and its allies. By avoiding provocations and direct military confrontation with the West, Syria can use proxy forces to ensnare the West in yet another protracted and costly quagmire. Such a strategy would require building up enhanced deterrence against further incursions toward vital Syrian population centers along with immeasurable political patience. The West will be left with further delays and complications, as well as immense costs that will become increasingly difficult to justify before an already war-weary Western public.

Thanksgiving Memories

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Published originally on the Doomstead Diner on November 22, 2012

Off the keyboard of RE

2014 Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner

2013 Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner

 2012 Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner

Initially my Title for this article was “Thanksgiving Memories in the Age of Oil“, but I elected to simplifty it down to Thanksgiving Memories to make the Permalink more simple, and besides it is obvious my memories of the Thanksgiving Holiday are all Oil Age memories.

If you care to believe all the legends told about the FIRST Thanksgiving, obviously they don’t match up with the Food Fest of the ones engaged in during the Age of Oil.  A few Starving Folks in the Plymouth Colony get together with some Natives who actually HAVE some food, they eat a decent meal all are Thankful for as Winter sets in, but nevertheless as Winter Progresses there in Plymouth numerous people go to the Great Beyond due to Starvation issues.  Not as many as the first Winter, but quite a few, then refilled with more escaping Eurotrash the following spring. No record really of how many Natives also went to the Great Beyond, but we do know the Plymouth folks got absolutely devastated in Numbers until the colony finally got established some and built up to around 7000 or so over time.

Regardless of, or perhaps BECAUSE of the huge percentage Die Off of original colonists at Plymouth, “Thanksgiving” ended up being one of our BIG FSofA Holidays, matched in significance only by Christmas and perhaps the 4th of July Independence Day celebration.  In both the cases of Christmas and Thanksgiving, over the course of the Age of Oil, both have morphed into celebrations of Conspicuous Consumption on an Ungodly scale.  In the case of Christmas, all about gobs of TOYS for young’uns and adults alike, “will I get my I-phone or my Porche in the Driveway with a big Bow on it?”  Other Holidays like Halloween and Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day have also been heavily commercialized in the Age of Oil, but still the Majors of Thanksgiving and Christmas dominate here.

Thanksgiving in the Age of Oil isn’t about Presents of Toys like Christmas, it is about EATING a LOT of Food!  How much can you stuff yourself with as you go to 2 or 3 different Relatives houses to have  2PM Meal at  Aunt Sadie’s McMansion, a 4PM meal at Granma’s House and a 6PM meal at the Boss’ Mansion served up Buffett style?   It doesn’t end just Thursday Night either, somebody you couldn’t make it over to on Thursday holds a Friday banquet, you vomit it all up Saturday and Sunday Morning your Church puts out ANOTHER Buffet for you to stuff your face with!

The Homeless and Impoverished are not left hanging on Thanksgiving either..  Every Salvation Army Post serves up Turkey Slices and Canned Corn and Cranberry Sauce on Thanksgiving.  Plenty-o-food for EVERYBODY on Thanksgiving, FREE of Charge here in the Land of Good & Plenty!  If you just have a couple of friends still employed, they will Invite you over for Thanksgiving, even co-workers you barely know will invite you over to Consume Mass Quantities of Food with them!  In fact being a Hermit like myself who because of the work I do I know lots of people, I get dozens of people who feel sorry for the fact I don’t have family to Conspicuously Consume food with and who ALL invite me over! LOL.  Politlely declining these invitations first because a Turkey Microwaveable is about enough for me and second because hanging with a bunch of Family I don’t really know from Adam is not great fun is quite difficult to do. LOL.  I do usually get roped into at least two of these face-stuffing fests though with somebody.

The Mass Consumption of Food on Thanksgiving first hit me after we returned from Brazil in the late 60s, but didn’t REALLY hit home until my Mom got the HOUSE as part of the Divorce Settlement with Dad the Pigman.  MOST of my relatives at this time lived in Rented Apartments, rather small places that couldn’t accomodate the WHOLE family.  MY HOUSE had a big Living Room and Dining Room, and we came back from Brazil with some amazing Furniture, including a Hand Carved Jacaranda (Brazilian Hardwood) table that was 8′ long and 3′ wide.  You could lay out a pretty massive Buffett on this table.

Everybody brought over a Dish of some sort to contribute to the Buffet, each of which usually could serve about 8 peoople.  since they toted along some Kids and others who did not bring a dish, usually it ended up with about 4X as much as anybody could possibly eat, even the Biggest Pigs, and there were a few amazing ones in the Family. LOL.  So AFTER the Big Meal, the next big challenge was distributing out the Leftovers to everybody, and this in t he days before  you had GLAD Containers in every size range.  Mainly you wrapped up the stuff in Foil or Wax Paper, or loaded stuff onto the original Plate or Bowl the person brought with them to the Food Fest.

The Mass Consumers in my family did not just bring over Food of course, they brought over plenty-o-Wine,Beer and Hard Liquor also, and there were a good number of the folks who considered this a great opportunity to get totally shit-faced DRUNK.  Most famous among them was my Uncle Jessie, a WWII hero who pulled half a dozen men out of a burning Tank and had his hands burned up pretty bad and lived after that the rest of his life on Disability, Drinking and Gambling on Horses at the OTB Betting parlors in Brooklyn.  Fortunately Jessie was a pretty Jovial Drunk, and usually did not cause too much problems other than figuring out where to put him when he finally passed out.

As “Hosts” for the Thanksgiving Food Consumption Fest, our Contibution to the Buffet was the TURKEY!  So it was always a BIG ONE in those days, 20 pounders at least.  My Mom was a SPECTACULARLY bad cook, so after the first year when the Turkey was WAY over-done, I took over the Turkey cooking job, monitoring the oven and experimeting with different basting techniques to end up with a nice JUICY Turkey at the end of it.  I was about 11 or 12 I guess when I first took on this job, it was my first major Cooking Assignment.  The first year actually came out OK, a DEFINITE improvement over the DISASTER Turkey my mom cooked the year before, but it still took another couple of years to get this right.

The other BIG Part of the turkey Job was the CARVING, and this I took EXCEPTIONAL PRIDE in doing well.  Unlike the  dude in the above photo, No Electric Carving Knife at the time in the RE household, but we did have some pretty good steel Cutlery we came back from Brazil with.  Not sure if it was forged in Brasil,but it was some mighty good steel and lasted right up until Mom went to the Great Beyond .  I think my sister has the knives in her kitchen now.

The first year I wasn’t too good with the carving, but I practiced on Chickens during the following year and by the third year my Turkey Platters looked pretty much like the one at the left here.

The Huge Family Feasts with ALL the relatives (Mom’s side Only, not Dad the Pigman’s) lasted probably right though my marriage, after that one of mom’s sisters died, the other went into a Nursing Home and their kids stopped coming and started doing their own Thanksgivings.

I remember one of the Turkey Day dinners with the Ex very well, we lived up in Larchmont sharing a house with a couple of other 20-somethings, and hadda drive down the Bronx River Parkway to the Whitestone Bridge to get over to Queens.  Our car was a 1970s era Volkswagen Beetle, plenty-o-rust and a super stiff clutch.  There was a massive Traffic Jam on the highway, stop and go starting a good 5 miles away from the bridge.  My leg started cramping up so bad from clutching after an hour I hadda let the ex drive.

Once the big family Dinners died off and after my divorce was when I went out OTR as a long haul Trucker, and most Thanksgivings I was able to get off the road and hang with family, though I recall at least one I missed where I had T-G Dinner at a Truckstop.  I think it was the Flying J, which had the best Buffets , although Petro had some good ones also.

It was during that time Mom retired and joined my Sister out in Springfield, and for another decade or so my sister did the Big Dinner at her McMansion there, with assorted Friends & Misfits she gathered up over her years living there, along with my Nephew and later his wife and kids.

During this period, she was responsible for the Turkey Cooking, but any years I did make it back to Springfield I always still got the Carving Job.  Since I was no longer Cooking, I felt responsible for bringing SOME Mass Quantity Food to the Table as my contribution, so I started Reserving and buying the fabulously expensive (forHam) Honey Baked Hams from the HBH store.  You don’t even have to Carve these yourself, they have a machine that does a cool Spiral Cut around the Hambone.  I would always buy the BIGGEST one, cost like $60-70 I recall at the time.  No idea what they run now.

My Brother-in-Law the Tool & Die man always got a Turkey from the Job, that was the Big Benny of his Non-Union Job as Mr. Fixit of every Tool & Die Machine known to man and designer of innumerable Molds over the years.  He designed the original Pizza Hut pizza pans.  He is actually still employed in this Bizness, even though so much manufacturing has left the shores of the FSofA.  The company he works for now got the contract to make fittings for the building going up on the old WTC site,  so likely will stay in Biz until he retires.  No pension though, always a Non-Union job and I don’t think he ever started a 401K. So his Pension is Social Security, for as long as it lasts. My sister has been employed by the State of Missouri and has a State Pension due her along with SS, again for as long as that lasts.  Then they were the benficiaries of Inheritance also from my BIL’s side and my Mom, so overall as a family we have done a bit better than average and stayed above water here through the downspin so far.

Since moving to Alaska, I haven’t made it back for a Turkey Day to Springfield, most of my trips back there have been over the Christmas-New Years holiday, at least while Mom was still alive.  I won’t be making it back there this year though during Christmas.

So the last few years I have mostly been the Old Hermit who some family feels sorry for and invites over for Dinner.  Also have had to do work related Buffets, though not this year since I broke off with the fellow I originally came up here to work with and now am involved in another similar start-up.  Not nearly as developed though so we are not yet doing the big Biz  Buffet thing with the clientele.  I make small talk usually, though there are quite a few Doomers here now so in the last couple of years Doom is up for discussion.  The guy I am visiting with tomorrow is now CONVINCED Doom is Imminent because Obama-sama got re-elected. LOL.  He HATES Obama.

Anyhow, the various pictures I yanked up off Google here are very representative of almost all the T-G Gluttony Extravaganzas I have attended over the last half-century here in the Land of Good & Plenty.  Nobody I ever knew anywhere in the FSofA went Hungry on Thankgsgiving,  though I am sure in Appalachia and other enclaves of Poverty some likely did.  At the same time, all through those years, millions of people have gone Hungry in other places, while probably at least 25% if not more of the food consumed in these dinners ends up in the trash or in the compost pile for some gardener types who actually do their own composting.

My biggest pet peeve all through the years with the Waste was the Carcass after Carving, along with the bag of Giblets stuffed into the abdominal cavity of the nicely plucked and eviscerated Butterball Turkey.  Almost nobody uses this stuff here in the FSofA, it goes straight into the garbage once all the nice Meat is carved off the bones.  However, no matter HOW good a carving job you do, there is tons of good food left on the bones, and INSIDE the bones too.

When I was in Brazil, our Cook never threw out this stuff, she took all the bones and stuff left on our plates and threw it all in a Huge Pot which she simmerred for a few hours after we ate and made Soup to take home to her family in the Favelas.  My Grandma also who DID face Starvation during the Great Depression could never let Chicken Bones go to waste, she also made Chicken Soup out of leftover chicken bones and giblets.  I picked up this habit during my years Turkey cooking, and actually got to the point where I would ask friends and neighbors to save their Carcasses, which I would collect up on Friday and Boil and make several gallons of Turkey Broth to make Turkey soup with.  I would then strain the broth, put it into containers and freeze it, and each week make a new batch of Turkey Soup, with fresh Carrots and Celery, Basil, Parsley, Dill and Rosemary and then add sometimes Dumplings, sometimes Wanton and sometimes Matzoh Balls to finish out the soup.

It remains to be seen how long this Festival of Gluttony continues on here in the FSofA.  Back in 2008, I figured that one was the LAST one, but here we are in 2012 heading into another one tomorrow.  At this point, despite the Fiscal Cliff and the Eurotrash going down the toilet and the Drought which took down the Corn Harvest by some inexactly known amount, I suspect another Face Stuffing next year too.  I don’t know exactly when this will end, I only know it will end in the not too distant future.

Meanwhile, those of us who go out tomorrow and munch down on plate fulls of Turkey, Honey Baked Ham, Prime Rib, Sweet Potatoes, Stuffing, Green Bean Casseroles, Cranberry Sauce, Bottles of CA Mondavi  Vineyards Wine, Bottles of Sam Adams Boston Lager and Bottles of 12 Year Old Single Malt Glenlivet Scotch Whisky can all say we are fellow Travellers on the Hypocrisy Tain with William Hunter Duncan.  Even the Impoverished here attending Salvation Army dinners ride that train with us, because what all of us are doing is consuming WAY more of the resources of the earth then we really need to, and way more than is our Fair Share also.  What goes into the trash tomorrow night probably could feed double to triple the population of the FSofA, near 1B people I am sure.  Thousands of children will die tomorrow of Manutrition, millions more will go Hungry tomorrow.  Not  because the Food is not available, it most surely is right now.  It occurs because the distribtuion system of the wealth of the world is so vastly skewed, and because taking back the control of this earth from those who sewed it up early is so hard to do.

All very hard to digest of course, but as you digest your Turkey Dinner tomorrow, remember it and live with it.    It is part of your Complicity, part of your Hypocrisy in living in the Land of Good & Plenty as a Beneficiary of the Age of Oil.

RE

 

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