Tag Archives: al-Nusra

The Turkish invasion of Syria: A new hope for Jihadists

What are the geopolitical stakes of Turkey’s invasion of Syria?

By Chris Den Hond. Published 10-16-2019 by openDemocracy

Translated by Janet Biehl

From the moment Trump ordered U.S. troops to withdraw from Syria, Turkey wasted no time in launching an invasion of northern Syria. To understand the geopolitical stakes, I asked four people close to the situation for their assessments:

Salih Muslim, is spokesperson for the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in northern Syria. Fehim Taştekin, is an analyst and journalist, based in Vienna. Agit Polat, is spokesperson for the Kurdish Democratic Council in France (CDK-F) and based in Paris. Raphaël Lebrujah, is a journalist in Qamishlo.

I asked each of them about several important topics. Continue reading

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Unbelievable: Media Cited Terrorist Leader to Claim No Terrorists Are in Aleppo

By Darius Shahtahmasebi. Published 10-21-2016 by The Anti-Media

Photo: @IngeZondag/Twitter

Photo: Inge Zondag/Twitter

On Wednesday, the Guardian released an article titled “U.S. and U.K. reject Russian offer of ‘pause’ in airstrikes on Syria.” Aside from the fact it’s riddled with the outlet’s usual pro-U.S.-U.K. and anti-Russian propaganda, the article sank to the lowest of possible lows in an attempt to present the Russian military as an aggressor in Aleppo in which there are allegedly no terrorist groups — only moderate fighting forces.

How? By citing the leader of a terrorist group. Continue reading

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‘A gift from God’: Erdoğan will strike back with an iron fist

Whoever was behind the failed coup attempt, one thing seems clear: Erdogan will use it as a pretext to concentrate and consolidate even more power.

By Jerome Roos. Published 7-17-2016 by ROAR Magazine

The images beamed from across the Bosphorus this weekend were surreal. For a few terrifying hours early on Saturday, no one really knew who was in control of the second largest military power in NATO. As tanks took up strategic positions in Istanbul and Ankara and the embattled President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addressed an anxious nation from an undisclosed location via FaceTime, it briefly looked like the country might be in the throes of yet another full-blown and irreversible military coup. Continue reading

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Collusion, Complicity or Neglect: How Media is Responsible for War Crimes

Imagine you wake up tomorrow to learn your city is under curfew, you have been stripped of your citizenship, all electricity, water and medical services have been stopped and no one is reporting anything in the news about any of it. Snipers are on rooftops, so you can’t go outside or be seen from a window. What would you do? How will you survive?

Written by Carol Benedict

Cizre after security forces "secured" the city. Image via Twitter.

Cizre after government forces “secured” the city. Image via Twitter.

President Recip Tayyip Erdoğan has asked for and received all legal clearance to now strip Turkish civilians of their citizenship for any actions or opinions expressed that are contrary to what the government narrative is.

This comes after recently gaining the ability to label journalists, academia and politicians as terrorists if they report, teach or campaign with any negative reflection on Erdogan or his government.

This totalitarian control is not limited to within the borders of Turkey. While in Washington DC, at a protest of his speech at the Brookings Institute, his security forces violently attacked peaceful citizens and called them terrorists. Turkish security physically assaulted a woman journalist and roughed up two of the Brookings Institute Management staff, including the building manager and stopped only when the threat of canceling the speech was presented. All this occurred before Erdogan’s motorcade even arrived, but after the Turkish security had taken pictures of every protestor they could.

The Ambassador from Germany in Turkey has been summoned – not once, but twice – by the Turkish government, demanding that a video posted on YouTube that mocks their “boss from Bosphorus” be pulled down. The response so far has been more views as the video gains popularity.

Reports have surfaced that prove Turkey’s government is in cooperative relationship with ISIS. Journalists arrested in Turkey include those who filmed Turkish military vehicles delivering weapons, food and medicine to ISIS jihadists inside Syria. The majority of foreign fighters route their travel through Turkey, and ISIS proudly displays the Turkish flag along side their infamous black one.

Turkey has removed al-Nusra from its terrorist list while refusing to allow America’s allies, Syrian Kurds, a seat at the Syrian peace talks. Without the Syrian Kurds, ISIS would be gaining territory in Syria, not losing it. Erdogan sees these gains by the Syrian Kurds as a threat to Turkey.

None of this compares to what is taking place inside Turkey itself.

The Kurdish population of Turkey resides primarily in the SE region. Cities and neighborhoods have been placed under siege and curfews by government forces. Erdogan claims this is being done to respond to terrorism, yet the majority of the over 5,000 deaths are to women, children and the elderly/ The destruction that has occurred is to Kurdish homes, business, schools, churches, cemeteries and infrastructure.

Hit particularly hard is the city of Cizre.

“What the people of Cizre were exposed to for many days and nights – artillery assaults by tanks and the sounds of mortar fire, explosives, rampages, announcements, harrassment of people staying in their homes – are clear violations of the right to life; they are, moreover, forms of torture. Some families who did not endure a loss of life, have come to see artillery, and their houses and cars being targeted by firearms, as something normal.”

After getting permits on March 2, 2016, lawyers of Libertarian Lawyers Association (ÖHD), Mesopotamia Lawyers Association (MHD), Asrın Law Firm (AHB), and the Foundation for Society and Legal Studies (TOHAV) entered Cizre to document human rights violations and legal processes.

Their harrowing preliminary legal report has just been released. To read the details is not for the weak of stomach or soul. Some of their conclusions were:

The barbarity in Cizre has been heavier and more serious than has been reflected to the public. Between 12/14/2015-03/02/2016, more than 280 civilians were killed during the clashes; among them there were women, babies, children and the elderly. The exact number of the deaths cannot be determined as most of the bodies are burned beyond recognition, distributed to different cities and buried without identification.

Documentation and data on the profound violation of right to life by special operation forces and snipers acting on behalf of the state according to the testimonies, violation of bodily integrity, forced displacement, deprivation of liberty, the hindering of essential needs, torture, discrimination and racism are all available. It is critical to designate the curfews and related operations as torture and maltreatment of the people of Cizre and to investigate them thoroughly. When violations this common, systematic and substantial are revealed, they become humanitarian law violations and crimes against humanity and assume legal stature. They must be investigated.

People who lived in Cizre were forced to leave Cizre. Any artillery fired by tanks or assaults by firearms on an individual’s house, close to his house, alley, neighborhood, or city is a part of a forced displacement. The execution of these operations and the format, techniques, and size of the curfew, leave the strong impression that all people in Cizre were defined as either “terrorist” or a “potential terrorist”. Cizre and its people are still being criminalized. Even the action of entering Cizre is seen as “suspicion of crime” by security forces; while those who enter the province are treated as “suspects”.

Not the faces of terrorists. Image via Twitter.

Not the faces of terrorists, children in Cizre wonder about their future. Image via Twitter.

While all this was happening, western media reported nothing. In the responsible world of ethical journalism, this is either complicity or collusion.

Turkey has a long history of wanting to rid itself of its Kurdish population. Hasan Cemal writes

What kind of ‘state mentality’ is it that it cannot find a solution to a problem that has spawned 29 rebellions since 1923.

What kind of ‘state mentality’ is it that it has banned the identity and language of a group of its own citizens but has not found a solution since 1923.

What kind of ‘state mentality’ is it that it has forcefully displaced its own citizens and burned down their homes for years on end and yet has not found a solution since 1923.

What kind of ‘state mentality’ is it that it has completely ignored law, created Susurluks [mafia-state relations], Ergenekons [deep states] and committed thousands of extrajudicial killings, but has not found a solution since 1923.

What kind of ‘state mentality’ is it that it has carried out military coups, suspended democracy, disregarded law, fed feces to its own citizens as in the example of Diyarbakir Military Prison, but has not found a solution since 1923.

What kind of ‘state mentality’ is it that it has not solved the issue, but conversely exacerbated and deepened it.

What kind of ‘state mentality’ is it that it has spent Turkey’s resources on war rather than development and welfare.

What kind of ‘state mentality’ is it that it has led to the death of more than 50,000 of its own citizens since 1984.

What kind of ‘state mentality’ is it that it has not taken the necessary lessons from all the bloodshed and mistakes since 1923.

And finally, what kind of ‘state mentality’ is it that it thinks, despite all the blood and tears and tragedies, that a solution is at the end of a barrel,.

Turkey wants to be part of the EU and has asked for action to be stepped up in consideration of their application. The western media needs to make clear to Erdogan that being an EU member-state means western journalists will now be given the right to free and open access to events occurring within Turkey’s borders.

The world stops and looks at a terrorist attack in Paris, Belgium and London. If the actual human rights violations, crimes against humanity and Turkey’s cooperation with ISIS would be reported, demands for intervention would have been heard before Cizre’s massacre occurred.

Recently Erdogan has proclaimed, “Now we are going to finish the job, we are going to deal with the issue and god-willing create a peaceful and prosperous southeast [Turkey].”

Ironically, the first-ever United Nations-sponsored World Humanitarian Summit is scheduled to take place May 23-24, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praised Turkey’s “compassionate leadership” in hosting the summit and its “admirable commitment to humanitarian action.”

Where is journalistic responsibility in a globalized society when the focus remains on an election that will not occur until November 2016? In 1933, people and media turned a blind eye, then later asked why neither said anything. Why is this happening again in 2016?

Western media has chosen not to report on a current massacre and genocide. Since this has been occurring on an escalating scale since June of 2015, it is only reasonable to conclude that there is either collusion among media to not report these atrocities, or the governments of all western media outlets are censoring the “free and open” press worldwide. Whichever of these two is correct, the answer is very concerning.

If the refusal to report Turkey’s internal atrocities is not collusion or complicity, it is neglect.

Regardless of the answer to why, the longer it remains unanswered, the more innocent lives will be lost and history will again ask civilization “How could you let this happen?”

About the Author:
Carol Benedict is an indépendant researcher and human rights activist. She has been studying Kurdish history, culture and politics for the last three years.

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Russia and Turkey Exchange Threats as War Tensions Reverberate Along Syrian Border

‘What happens next is anything but clear.’

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-17-2016

PresidentRecep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey pictured in January 2016. (Photo: EPA)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey pictured in January 2016. (Photo: EPA)

A bomb blast in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Wednesday—which killed dozens of people and injured scores of others—arrived alongside increasing global worries about how Turkey is responding to shifting developments on the other side of its border with Syria where a brutal civil war and international fight against the Islamic State continues.

Over the recent days and weeks, the Syrian armed forces of President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russian airstrikes and the Syrian Kurdish milita known as the YPG, have closed off vital supply routes of ISIS and opposition fighters while capturing long-held territory near the strategically-situated town of Azaz and the rebel stronghold of Aleppo in northwestern Syria. Continue reading

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Drone Papers: Leaked Military Documents Expose US ‘Assassination Complex’

Based on cache of secret slides leaked by national security whistleblower, stunning exposé by The Intercept reveals inner workings—and failures—of the U.S. military’s clandestine efforts in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia

Written by Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-15-15.

The Intercept has obtained a cache of secret slides that provides a window into the inner workings of the U.S. military’s kill/capture operations at a key time in the evolution of the drone wars — between 2011 and 2013. (Image: The Intercept)

The Intercept has obtained a cache of secret slides that provides a window into the inner workings of the U.S. military’s kill/capture operations at a key time in the evolution of the drone wars — between 2011 and 2013. (Image: The Intercept)

A stunning new exposé by The Intercept, which includes the publication of classified documents leaked by an intelligence source, provides an unprecedented look at the U.S. military’s secretive global assassination program.

The series of articles, titled The Drone Papers, follows months of investigation and uses rare primary source documents and slides to reveal to the public, for the first time, the flaws and consequences of the U.S. military’s 14-year aerial campaign being conducted in Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan—one that has consistently used faulty information, killed an untold number of civilians, and stymied intelligence-gathering through its “kill/capture” program that too often relies on killing rather than capturing.

“The series is intended to serve as a long-overdue public examination of the methods and outcomes of America’s assassination program,” writes the investigation’s lead reporter, Jeremy Scahill. “This campaign, carried out by two presidents through four presidential terms, has been shrouded in excessive secrecy. The public has a right to see these documents not only to engage in an informed debate about the future of U.S. wars, both overt and covert, but also to understand the circumstances under which the U.S. government arrogates to itself the right to sentence individuals to death without the established checks and balances of arrest, trial, and appeal.”

The source of the documents, who asked to remain anonymous due to the U.S. government’s aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers, said the public has a right to know about a program that is so “fundamentally” and “morally” flawed.

“It’s stunning the number of instances when I’ve come across intelligence that was faulty, when sources of information used to finish targets were misattributed to people,” he told The Intercept. “And it isn’t until several months or years later that you realize that the entire time you thought you were going after this target, it was his mother’s phone the whole time. Anyone caught in the vicinity is guilty by association – it’s a phenomenal gamble.”

As outlined by The Intercept, the key revelations of the reporting are:

  • Assassinations have depended on unreliable intelligence. More than half the intelligence used to track potential kills in Yemen and Somalia was based on electronic communications data from phones, computers, and targeted intercepts (know as signals intelligence) which, the government admits, it has “poor” and “limited” capability to collect. By the military’s own admission, it was lacking in reliable information from human sources.
  • The documents contradict Administration claims that its operations against high-value terrorists are limited and precise. Contrary to claims that these campaigns narrowly target specific individuals, the documents show that air strikes under the Obama administration have killed significant numbers of unnamed bystanders. Documents detailing a 14-month kill/capture campaign in Afghanistan, for example, show that while the U.S. military killed 35 of its direct targets with air strikes, 219 other individuals also died in the attacks.
  • In Afghanistan, the military has designated unknown men it kills as “Enemies Killed in Action.” According to The Intercept’s source, the military has a practice of labeling individuals killed in air strikes this way unless evidence emerges to prove otherwise.
  • Assassinations hurt intelligence gathering. The Pentagon study finds that killing suspected terrorists, even if they are legitimate targets, “significantly reduce[s]” the information available and further hampers intelligence gathering.
  • New details about the ‘kill chain’ reveal a bureaucratic structure headed by President Obama, by which U.S. government officials select and authorize targets for assassination outside traditional legal and justice systems, and with little transparency. The system included creating a portrait of a potential target in a condensed format known as a ‘Baseball Card,’ which was passed to the White House for approval, while individual drone strikes were often authorized by other officials.
  •  Inconsistencies with publicly available White House statements about targeted killings. Administration policy standards issued in 2013 state that lethal force will be launched only against targets that pose a “continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons,” however documents from the same time reveal much more vague criteria, including that a person only need present “a threat to U.S. interest or personnel.”
  • New details of high-profile drone kills, including the 2012 killing in Somalia of Bilal al-Berjawi, which raise questions about whether the British government revoked his citizenship to facilitate the strike.
  • Information about a largely covert effort to extend the U.S. military’s footprint across the African continent, including through a network of mostly small and low-profile airfields in Djibouti and other African countries.

The investigation comes as the Obama administration announced plans on Thursday to delay withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Administration officials told CNN that troops may conduct “counterterrorism operations” against Islamic State (ISIS) militants there.

But as the documents reveal, assurances from the Obama administration that drone strikes are precise and used only in cases of “imminent” threats are themselves based on intentionally vague definitions of “imminence.”

“Privately, the architects of the U.S. drone program have acknowledged its shortcomings,” said Betsy Reed, editor-in-chief of The Intercept. “But they have made sure that this campaign, launched by Bush and vastly expanded under Obama, has been shrouded in secrecy. The public has a right to know how the US government has decided who to kill.”

As the source himself said, “We’re allowing this to happen. And by ‘we,’ I mean every American citizen who has access to this information now, but continues to do nothing about it.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.



Drone War Exposed: The Intercept Journalists Talk Obama’s “Kill List,” Whistleblowers, and Endless War

“The Drone Papers” Reveals How Faulty Intel & Secret “Kill Chain” Mark Suspects, Civilians for Death

Drone Papers ‘No Surprise to Yemenis,’ Says Man Who Lost Family

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Why Extremism Can Not Be Labeled

Image via Internet.

Image via Internet.

The discussion in the news media in the past few days has been regarding President Obama’s comments, the name of the terrorist group known as IS, ISIL, ISIS or Daesh, and whether this is a “religious” group or “just” extremists.

The majority of US mainstream media does not grasp the complexity of this terror organization. Unwilling to think outside the box of predisposed personal biases toward their own faiths, they can not grasp that Muslims are facing the same complication within Islam when  Daesh claims their name.

As we have pointed out in a past article, attempting to put simple labels on complex ideologies is not only dangerous, it is misguided and, when coming from media outlets, is also unethical. Continue reading

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