Tag: Turkey

The War in Turkey that Doesn’t Make Headlines

 

Leman Magazine's New Year coverI know the neighborhood of today’s bombing in Istanbul, Sultanhamet, as well as my own face. Not far from the photos you saw in Tom’s post, I found my cat, the Smudge, as a tiny kitten — orphaned, starving, and dying of flea anemia. When I sat beside her, and she weakly crawled into my lap and began to purr.

I took her home, and here she is now beside me, a living connection to the many days, over so many years, that I walked through Sultanhamet — to show the famous sites to visiting friends, to stroll and talk for hours with the Turkish friends I’ve left behind and so badly miss, to shop in the covered market and the spice bazaar, to go, occasionally, for a morning run on the grounds of the Topkapı palace.

There were many terrorist attacks in Turkey when I lived there. This wasn’t the first. It won’t be the last. But I don’t think I could bear it, my heart would break, if Turkey were to suffer what Syria has. When an attack takes place on a site frequented by tourists, it makes international news. But the recrudescence of the civil war in the Southeast is the story that has the potential to tear Turkey apart, and this barely makes the news in the West at all.

Show Me the War: That Will End ISIS Money

 

Militant Islamist fighter waving a flag, cheers as he takes part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa provinceBy all accounts, ISIS is the wealthiest terrorist organization in the world. By far. In round numbers, ISIS is said to have a $2 billion stash, which is keeping it afloat. Most of it comes from oil sales. Much of it comes from plundered banking funds. And the rest of it comes from taxing locals, selling stolen antiquities, and kidnapping ransoms.

The big question is, what are we — the United States — doing about it?

Taking away the money would go a long way toward winning the war. But thus far our record is lousy.

The Battle of Ramadi, Continued

 

Ramadi Control Map 2015-12-09 HIGH-01From all the accounts I can see from here, The Iraqi Security Forces  have made major gains in Ramadi and recaptured key terrain. The city is strategically and symbolically critical: It sits on the Euphrates and a highway linking Baghdad to the Syrian and Jordanian borders; further up the Euphrates is the Haditha Dam, which generates power not only for Anbar, but other parts of Iraq.

After they seized Ramadi last May, ISIS apparently connected webs of IEDs to single trigger wires, turning the city into a nightmare of booby-traps. According to Iraqi officials, this is what’s allowing a relatively small number number of them to keep control of cities despite being massively outnumbered. (I am not there. I do not know. Truth is the first casualty of war, etc. But Col. Steve Warren, the spokesman for the coalition, stands by the assessment.)

The Ramadi operation must be successful to expel ISIS, but the question is how deeply involved Iranian proxy militias are or will be. Again, I couldn’t possibly say from here, but this is the assessment from Institute for the Study of War:

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Turkey and Russia tell different stories about the downed Russian aircraft. You might have already chosen your favorite, but the storytelling continues in Belgium! What international thriller could not be improved by the avant garde cliché premise that everybody is lying?  It’s rare to see physics being used as an effective tool to comment on […]

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Russia, Turkey, and Article V

 

20150707_collective-defence-img2Two particularly interesting comments came up at the tail end of my post about Turkey’s shooting down of a Russian jet. Let me reproduce them:

Pilgrim wrote:

I’ll just say it. Dump Article 5. Mutual defense obligations are either doomsday machines or paper tigers. If the treaty is wrongly considered a paper tiger, then it becomes a doomsday machine. The treaty is no stronger than the capabilities and resolve of the allies and both are open to question.

Bad News: Turkey Shoots Down Russian Jet. Good News: Sierra Leone is Ebola-Free

 

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 08.23.29Turkey has shot down a Russian jet. this was the first time a NATO jet shot down a Russian one since 1952. Those who grasp the gravity of this have broken out in a cold sweat. Yes, it’s as serious as it sounds.

I don’t know exactly what happened, and truly, no one who really does is going to be talking. Given that this is the kind of thing that can — although probably won’t — expose NATO as a paper tiger, crank the current level of geopolitical hysteria up to 11, and even, in extremis, lead to direct superpower conflict, I don’t think it would be helpful for me to opine about what the United States should do, save to say that I hope wisdom prevails, and urge all concerned to back away from the precipice (as if anyone would listen to me).

Here are things others’ have written about this, but Medvedev apart, I don’t think they know more about it than anyone else. They just had deadlines and had to put words on paper.

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Our fellow NATO member and stalwart ally against the Red Menace appears to be a little conflicted (from Gateway Pundit) A man, who just two years ago was the poster boy for the far-Left media’s attacks against the U.S. government’s no-fly list for “unfairly” targeting Muslims, finds himself and several family members sitting in a […]

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Sultan Knish, a blog by Daniel Greenfield: Minister Steinmeier had urged rejecting “barriers, fences” when it came to the Muslim migrants, but it was a barrier and the security in front of it that kept one of his beloved refugees from reaching him. Preview Open

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Putin vs Erdoğan – Who Wins?

 

In times of confused international crisis — say, when one party in a multi-sided war shoots down the warplane of another party — it is instructive to view the propaganda outlets. Which explains why I was watching the RT (formerly, Russia Today) coverage of Turkey’s downing of an Su-24 near the Turkish-Syrian border (on precisely which side is in dispute).

I was not surprised by the rather desultory protest outside the Turkish embassy. I was rather surprised to read that, according to RT, Putin said:

Obama and the Office of the Petulancy

 

Barack ObamaIt’s difficult to overstate how poorly Barack Obama performed at Monday’s press conference from the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey. As France deals with the aftermath of an ISIS attack leaving 132 dead (so far), hundreds wounded, and thousands of lives shattered, the ersatz leader of the free world responded with an embarrassing display of indifference, peevishness, and open contempt. He was less “President Obama” and more “Petulant Obama.”

As reporters lobbed obvious questions about Obama’s dismissive description of ISIS as a JV team, his broken promise to degrade and destroy the group, and the massive intelligence failure that rocked Europe, he seemed annoyed at all the fuss.

“There will be setbacks and there will be successes,” Obama said calmly. “The terrible events in Paris were a terrible and sickening setback.”

The Superflous Commander in Chief

 

1086461_1280x720As I watched President Obama’s press conference in Antalya, Turkey, I began to feel that I was seeing an historic moment unfold.

It was deceptively like what we’re used to, full of condescension, impatience, hubris, straw men and false choices. He mentioned multiple times that he has to meet every few weeks with a bunch of guys to go over details, that it’s complicated. He reminded more that one journalist that he’d already answered ‘that’ question. He diminished his critics’ understanding and motives.

But he did not look forward. He was the politician voting present. He was himself, untouched by events, incapable of even the awareness that in the days that follow the logic of those events may mark his words today as the beginning of his loss of relevance.

Security So Tight at the G20 Even a Gnat Couldn’t Get In … Oh, Wait

 

So yesterday, the heads of the Group of 20 leading world economies arrived in the resort city of Antalya, in Turkey, for a two-day summit. The hotels housing the attendees were separated from the rest of the neighborhood by thousands of barricades. Only accredited visitors were given access to the area. The governor of Antalya, Muammer Türker, proudly announced they’d installed more than 350 new security cameras, and had also inaugurated license plate and facial recognition systems to prevent unauthorized access. The Coast Guard was deployed off the coast of Antalya to interdict threats from sea. Officials were considering establishing a no-fly zone over the area. Some 12,000 police and soldiers were deployed, and the Turkish military promised ’round-the-clock air defences. Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın, who is coordinating the summit, affirmed that security was at its highest level:

“As some 35 or 36 delegations, including the world’s 20 most prominent countries, as well as heads of state, will be at the summit, we don’t see any security weakness.”

Reality Check: ISIS Could Win

 

is-flagForeign policy experts have repeated the same sentence over and over: “There is no military solution in Syria.” Being professionally trained to automatically question and contradict any opinion held by a very large majority, I have trouble buying this.

Consider, for example, that nearly everyone in 1980 thought the Soviet Union was unstoppable and that nearly everyone in late 1999 agreed that technology stocks were a fabulous investment; we all know what happened in both of those cases. Similarly, if nearly everyone agrees that there is no military solution in Syria, I’m inclined to believe one exists. Let us briefly examine each scenario, unattractive as they may be.

The Assad/Hezbollah/Iran/Russia/Shia Axis Wins

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As you might have already heard, from the Washington Examiner:  A Russian air force jet was shot down after it violated Turkey’s airspace, according to unconfirmed reports. Witnesses say they saw a large explosion in Huraytan, northern Syria, as three fighter jets flew above. Preview Open

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Who Should We Send to Sing to Our Rebels in Syria?

 

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 08.06.44Well, goodness. Think anyone’s going to notice that? I hope not. It might make future allies a little uneasy about allying with us.

Russia has targeted Syrian rebel groups backed by the Central Intelligence Agency in a string of airstrikes running for days, leading the U.S. to conclude that it is an intentional effort by Moscow, American officials said.

The assessment, which is shared by commanders on the ground, has deepened U.S. anger at Moscow and sparked a debate within the administration over how the U.S. can come to the aid of its proxy forces without getting sucked deeper into a proxy war that President Barack Obama says he doesn’t want. The White House has so far been noncommittal about coming to the aid of CIA-backed rebels, wary of taking steps that could trigger a broader conflict.

Crimea River, Says Sputnik News

 

article-2127660-1288DA1D000005DC-0_634x396Today’s report on the unbelievably fraught, perilous, unstable, and ghastly state of the world is brought to you by Russia’s пропаганда organ Sputnik News. (I still cannot believe they gave it that Leika-the-Space-Dog of a name: Didn’t they market test that? Hell, maybe they did — maybe I’m just old as dirt and these new-fangled Millennials think Sputnik sounds like a totally credible name for a Russian newspaper.)

Anyway, they write:

Jumping at a Chance? US Makes Fuss of Russia Violating Turkish Airspace

Turkey Arrests VICE Journalists

 

A Turkish court leveled formal charges of terrorism at three VICE News journalists and their colleague yesterday.

The Iraqi journalist Mohammed Ismael Rasool, and two British journalists, Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury, were detained late Thursday evening and taken into custody in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır. So was their driver, who was released. They’ve been accused of working for both the PKK and ISIS, prompting some foreign observers to announce that Turkey has gone “bat-[redacted] insane,” but as my fellow Turkey-watcher Erik Meyersson notes, for journalists in Turkey, especially Kurds, “this kind of Kafkaesque repression is mostly referred to as: Monday.”

How to Help Yazidi Girls and Women

 

Turkey SE7(Note: These are photos of southeast Turkey, in 2013.)

Two weeks ago, The New York Times’ Rukmini Callimachi wrote an article about the systematic rape and enslavement of Yazidi girls by ISIS. If you haven’t read the article, and even if you think you know the story already, read it:

The Islamic State’s formal introduction of systematic sexual slavery dates to Aug. 3, 2014, when its fighters invaded the villages on the southern flank of Mount Sinjar, a craggy massif of dun-colored rock in northern Iraq.

The Attack on the US Consulate in Istanbul

 

n_86718_1This was the most minor of the day’s terrorist attacks in Turkey. Today alone, a car bomb exploded in front of a police station in Istanbul. One police officer and two assailants were killed. A recently founded, far-left organization called the People’s Defense Unit claimed the attack. The PKK killed four police officers with a mine attack on an armored police vehicle in the southeastern province of Şırnak’s Silopi district. PKK militants opened fire on a military helicopter in Şırnak’s Beytüşşebap district, killing one soldier. It has been a very violent day, in a violent month.

The attack on the US consulate has been attributed — almost certainly correctly — to the DHKP-C. The assailants were two middle-aged women, perhaps brain-damaged — as many of their members are — from years of prison hunger strikes. The DHKP-C is one of Turkey’s weirder terrorist groups. Hardcore Marxist-Leninists. I wrote about their last attack on the US Embassy in Istanbul here:

Americans seem surprised that the February 1 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, was carried out not by Islamists but by a Marxist—specifically, by a member of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front, or DHKP/C. But no one in Turkey was remotely surprised. This diagram suggests why Turks recoil when asked about the hard-left militant groups here.