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'Angela Merkel must explain her Turkey policy': German politicians condemn arms sales to Turkey amid ongoing operation against Syrian Kurds

Turkish army tanks are seen near the Turkish-Syrian border in Hatay province, Turkey January 23, 2018
© Umit Bektas / Reuters
Turkish army tanks are seen near the Turkish-Syrian border in Hatay province, Turkey January 23, 2018
German politicians have widely opposed plans to provide Turkey with tank modernization upgrades after Leopard 2 combat vehicles were spotted taking part in the military operation against the Kurds in Syria's Afrin.

Amid rumors of potential resumption of arms sales to Turkey, German opposition parties, the Greens and the Left, urged the government to reconsider such deals with Ankara, pointing out that German weapons are now killing innocent people in Syria.

"An immediate halt to all arms exports to Turkey is long overdue," Agnieszka Brugger, a Greens lawmaker told the Heilbronner Stimme newspaper. "This intense situation should be a wake-up call for the German government."

Since the 1980s Germany has sold Turkey some 751 Leopard tanks, including 354 modern Leopard 2 type, which has been previously used by Turkey an a cross border operation against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists and US-supported Kurdish militias in Syria.

Chess

US chemical blame-game: Diminishing the legitimacy of the upcoming Sochi meeting, and trick to justify military presence in Syria

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
© Philippe Wojazer / Reuters
French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
By boldly blaming Russia for all the chemical weaponry-related incidents in Syria, the US may be seeking to ramp up tensions and jeopardize the peace process in the country, while diverting attention from its own destructive role.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has named Russia ultimately responsible for each and every chemical attack in Syria, regardless of whom actually conducted it. The bewildering statement came on the heels of unconfirmed reports of a new incident allegedly involving chlorine in East Ghouta, and perfectly fits Washington's narrative of the Syrian conflict, geopolitical experts and analysts told RT.

Trick to justify US military presence in Syria

The accusations are clearly designed to ramp up tensions in the country to help the US to "justify its continued illegal military occupation of part of Syria," former Assistant Treasury Secretary Paul Craig Roberts believes.

Comment: See also: Tillerson blames Russia for alleged Syrian chemical attack no matter who actually carried it out


Arrow Down

World Economic Forum Davos - It's inequality, stupid

World Economic Forum 2018
© Reuters/Denis Balibouse
The curtain has gone up on the annual World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos.
For billions of people, the Groucho Marx rule applies when talking about Davos. This is the exclusive club, which meets in the luxury Swiss resort each year to discuss the global business environment.

Groucho, of course, has been immortalized along with the rest of the Marx Brothers in the zany Hollywood movies of the 1930s, such as A Night a the Opera, A Day at the Races and Animal Crackers.

In one quick-fire response, he joked: "I sent the club a wire stating, 'Please accept my resignation. I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member'."

Well, to start off with those billions of people would not get past the bouncers, because the self-defined World Economic Forum is about exclusion. Yet even if, by divine design, they were handed free passes, what would be the point?

The austerity mantra holds sway over large swathes of Europe. The US remains mired in the fiscal cliff maelstrom and the Japanese are about to unleash an economic tsunami - devaluation of the yen at all costs.

On the other hand, growth does apply to parts of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) group of emerging nations and selected members of Next 11.

Certainly, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines, Turkey, South Korea and Vietnam fall into this category in N-11, a BRICS-like organization.

So, what is the point of spending the GDP of a sub-Saharan country trekking to the Alps to Davos for a mere blabber fest, when basic membership plus access to private sessions at the summit cost a whopping US$245,000?

Pirates

CIA director makes surprising admissions in rare public appearance

CIA Director Mike Pompeo
© Leah Millis / Reuters
CIA Director Mike Pompeo delivers remarks at "Intelligence Beyond 2018," a forum hosted by the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, in Washington, U.S., January 23, 2018
The CIA will 'push back against the Russians' wherever it finds them, the agency's director said in a rare public appearance. He also revealed tantalizing tidbits about its priorities in North Korea, Latin America and elsewhere.

Speaking at the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) think-tank in Washington on Tuesday, CIA Director Mike Pompeo looked back at his year-long tenure at the agency. In the process, he offered some revelations about the CIA's operations and aspirations, as well as some burning geopolitical questions.

Upon taking over the agency a year ago, Pompeo said the CIA's mission would be "to steal secrets" in the name of the US, and "do so aggressively and without any apology." Yet the CIA also needs to operate in such a way that it earns and keeps the trust of the American people.

Eagle

Deceitful Europe is attempting to undercut Iran's nuclear agreement

European poodles
The Trump administration wants to abolish the nuclear agreement with Iran. The big European countries want to keep the formal agreement but are actively looking for other reasons, specifically Iran's ballistic missiles, to put new sanctions on Iran. A detailed look into the issue reveals that those European countries are willfully misreading the relevant UN resolutions and mislead the public about their real motivations.

Elijah Magnier just published an excellent piece on the history of U.S. attempts to restrict Iran in the Middle East and to again put it again under its tutelage. He touches on the nuclear deal with Iran and the Trump administration attempts to abolish it. The deal was cosigned by three European countries, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, as well as by Russia and China. Magnier writes:
Iran will not re-negotiate the nuclear deal and relies on Europe to stand firm, confirming its signature and commitment. Europe is in need of Iran because the Islamic Republic is part of the continent's national security and an advanced guard against terrorism. Europe has had enough of wars [... .]

[The] Iranians and their allies are the partners Europe is looking for, ready to stand back from the US, that faraway continent that is less vulnerable than nearby Europe to terrorism and terrorists.
That assessment of the European position is wrong.

Comment: See also:


Snakes in Suits

Is 'Russia Collusion' Narrative About to Come Crashing Down?

Russian Collusion
These are very tenuous times in Washington. As we've been noting for more than a year, the accusations made against Trump for "colluding with Russia" to win the Presidency against Hillary Clinton has been nothing short of a political witch-hunt to delegitimize him in the eyes of Americans, the world, and to prevent the US government from working with Russia in any kind of reasonable way. Globally, the attempt to connect Trump to an "evil plan" hatched by Russia "to subvert US democracy" by tinkering with the Presidential elections has also served the purpose of vilifying the Russian government - and painting Russian President Vladimir Putin as some kind of imperial Machiavelli who must be contended with in the most prejudicial of ways.

The entrenched political and intelligence interests connected to perpetuating this ridiculous shitshow must have thought they were killing two birds with one stone; the first, to destroy Trump politically so that he had no chances of showing that the US and Russia could work together constructively, and the second, to further the Big Lie that Russia seeks to harm the US (and the world) in pursuit of its interests. But, alas, the real lies, connivances and crimes connected to perpetuating the false 'Russiagate' narrative are now, finally, being exposed and reaching greater public recognition. And the laws that were broken in order to hunt Trump down may be the cause of all hell breaking loose in Washington. Or so it should.

Russian Flag

Chinese military attache to Moscow: Russia, China should stand together to protect world against American aggression

china russia troops
Translator note: Chairman Xi Jinping himself proposed as much in 2016! See China offers alliance against NATO

America has finished playing: the Russian-Chinese military alliance is on the agenda. Chinese diplomat invites Russia and the PRC to unite against the US.

The military attache of the Chinese Embassy in Moscow, Major-General Kui Yanwei has called on Russia to jointly resist the pressure of Washington. Only in this way, he asserts, can we ensure peace in our regions and on the whole planet.

Tsargrad was one of the first to report about this truly sensational statement, noting that it was made during a meeting with the chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security, Viktor Bondarev.

Cell Phone

FBI official: Top FBI agents may have been saying far worse than 'first we f*** Flynn and then we f*** Trump,' investigations to continue

Comey Mueller
"This is much larger than just texts between two FBI agents."

A high-ranking FBI official confirms a number of the missing 50,000 FBI text messages - as well as other text and email messages among FBI brass - reportedly discussed initiating physical harm to President Donald Trump.

The FBI official urged the U.S. Department of Homeland Security - which oversees the U.S. Secret Service - to launch an investigation of the Justice Department, the FBI and all text messages missing and otherwise that threatened the President.

"This is dangerous territory and all FBI text messages and personal phones should be examined," the official said. "It would reveal some frightening conversations."

Comment: With these releases, political warfare (and perhaps much worse) has just been escalated in Washington; and we can expect a great amount of upheaval in the form of more revelations, indictments, accusations and counter-accusations - as well as more tragedies that resemble that which befell Seth Rich. If 2016 and 2017 was ugly in this respect, 2018 will likely look like something else altogether. Do stay tuned.

See also:


Info

Day 4 roundup of Turkey's Operation Olive Branch in northern Syria

turkish forces afrin
© REUTERS/ KHALIL ASHAWI
Turkish forces are seen near Mount Barsaya, northeast of Afrin, Syria January 22,2018
The Turkish military intervention into the Syrian Democratic Forces-controlled region of Afrin in northwest Syria has entered its fourth day. Sputnik has collected a summary of the day's most important events.

Military Action

Al-Mayadin television reported Tuesday that Turkish artillery had shelled the Kurdish village of al-Hilalia, near the city of Qamishli along the Syrian-Turkish border. Other reports suggested that Qamishli itself, as well as other towns in the area were also targeted. No immediate reports on casualties or damage were reported.

The Kurdish YPG militia also said Tuesday that three people had been killed in shelling in the town of Ras al-Ayn, some 300 km east of Afrin region. The militia, one of the militia groups making up the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), could not confirm whether the casualties were civilian or military.

A YPG spokesman in Afrin told Sputnik that during the early hours of January 23, Kurdish forces freed the village of Corna, "having completely driven enemy forces out of the settlement." The spokesman added that Turkish forces were continuing their shelling of Afrin's villages, including during the night.

Comment: Erdoan also talked with Putin on the phone today. From the official readout of the call:
"The heads of state exchanged views on the situation in Syria, including in the north-western part of the country in the Afrin area in light of the ongoing Turkish military operation there," the Kremlin's press service stated.

"The sides stressed the importance of continuing active joint work to resolve the crisis, which should be based on the principles of preserving territorial integrity and respect for the sovereignty of Syria," the statement said.

Turkish President also reassured the Russian leader that Ankara's operation in Syria's Afrin would help preserve Syria's territorial integrity, according to a source in Erdogan's administration.

"Erdogan discussed the Afrin operation with Putin in phone call and stressed that it aimed at ensuring Turkey's national security and liberation of Afrin from terrorist groups... and it was important in the context of a contribution to Syria's political unity and territorial integrity," the source told reporters.

The source said that Erdogan was putting special emphasis on the coordination of Russian efforts on Syria, adding that the two leaders reaffirmed their determination to continue joint efforts aimed at holding the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in order to pave the way for the political settlement in the crisis-torn state.

Also, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the preparations for the upcoming Syrian National Dialogue Congress. The event will be held in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi on January 29-30.
While the SDF claims to have killed 53 invading Turks (compared to the 2 acknowledged by Ankara), Turkey claims to have killed 260 Kurdish fighters.

For more analysis of the Afrin operation, see:


Attention

America is broke and 'fiscally responsible' Republicans couldn't care less

raining money cash
© langdu/Shutterstock
These poseurs of fiscal responsibility are about to drive up debt to its highest levels since World War II.

The United States is effectively bankrupt, but that doesn't matter to the GOP. Once evangelists of fiscal responsibility and scourges of deficit spending, Republicans today glory in spilling red ink. The national debt is now $20.6 trillion, greater than the annual GDP of about $19.5 trillion. Alas, with Republicans at the helm, deficits are set to continue racing upwards, apparently without end.

This flood of red ink will increase. Last year the Congressional Budget Office figured the U.S. was going to again run trillion dollar deficits around 2022. An extra $10 trillion would be added to the deficit over the following decade.

But under Republican fiscal "stewardship," analysts now believe the deficit could hit a trillion dollars next year. Why? Congress relaxed the sequester, eliminating its modest pressure for fiscal responsibility, and approved disaster relief, without making any corresponding spending cuts. Legislators also inflated military outlays, even though much of the Pentagon budget constitutes defense welfare, subsidies for prosperous and populous allies.

Comment: