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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Recep Tayyip Erdogan"

Trump and Iran. What’s the plan?

On this site last November, our columnist Garvan Walshe wrote about the Iran-wide protests against the country’s ruling regime.  They were different from those of 2009, he said, because they were wider – and deeper.

Whereas those were largely confined to the middle class, these represented a “crisis of legitimacy” for Iran’s government, because “they take place, not against a hardline president whose agenda aligns with the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guards, but against a moderate, Hassan Rouhani, who has been unable to deliver the economic improvements he promised”.

The prescient Garvan also mentioned an under-reported figure within the regime – by way of describing a Shia militia, the al-Hashd al-Sha’bi, which operates in Iraq but are controlled by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which operates under “their commander, Qasem Soleimani”.

Much of the domestic reaction to Soleimani’s assassination begins with the man who ordered it, Donald Trump.  But America may be the wrong place and its President the wrong person with which to begin considering it.  Intensified sanctions against Iran are biting hard.  Dissatisfaction with the ruling cliques – and the corruption in which Soleimani had a hand – is rife among the population.  Trump has abandoned Barack Obama’s nuclear deal.

A case can therefore be made for the killing of Soleimani as part of a coherent strategic plan.  This would be to cause chaos at the top of Iran’s ruling structure, the workings of which are deeply obscure, in the hope that the resulting confusion will further western strategic goals and help to collapse Iran’s terror-promoting regime.

As this re-election year begins in America, it is clear, looking back on the bulk of this President’s term, that much of the criticism of him is wide of the mark.  The bulk of the evidence suggests that he has a strategic foreign policy aim, namely to keep the United States out of wars abroad, or at least conflicts in which ground troops are committed.  Abroad, he acts through proxies, as against ISIS, or through massive displays of air power.

This combines with a deeply personal tendency to engage with what he sees as other strong leaders in pursuit of “the art of the deal”. His abandonment of the Kurds and engagement with Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an example.  The classic instance is his talks with Kim Jong-il of North Korea.

He engages when he judges that the United States has a sufficient interest in diplomacy.  Although he has not been gung-ho about confrontation with Iran – last June, he backed off an airstrike against Iran as “not proportionate”, and has said that he has “good feelings” about a successor deal to Obama’s – he seems to have concluded that there is no such or not sufficient negotiating interest in this case.

In sum, his take on Iran seems to be: hit it hard if absolutely necessary.  And his judgement was that it was necessary to strike at a regime that, very recently, has seized vessels in the Persian Gulf, attacked Saudi oil refineries, fired mortar against US forces in Iraq and assailed the country’s embassy in Baghad.

The President argues that Soleimani, a mass murderer, was planning further anti-American terror.  He would – because that covers the necessary legal base.  But the truth is that we do not know why the strike against Soleimani took place now.  Cynics claim that it is nicely timed for America’s electoral cycle and to distract attention from the impeachment imbroglio.  But it isn’t obvious that the killing will win supporters who don’t back the President already.

All this suggests that Trump did not act order to help collapse the Iranian regime – but, rather, to assert American power against a government with which he thinks he cannot strike a deal.  His critics will rage, but it is not clear that his impulsive approach has been less effective overall than George W.Bush’s activism or Obama’s passivity.

Nor can he fairly be accused of starting a conflict with Iran: that is raging already.  But the question is whether his caution last June was more or less sensible than his commitment now.  Iran has a long record of what the wonks like to call asymmetric response.  In other words: proxy actions, suicide bombs, IEDs, kidnappings, assasinations, attacks on embassies, civilians and military personnel.

The Middle East is rich with American targets.  Or Iran may look to the United States itself.  Then there are that country’s allies to consider – including the “Little Satan”, Britain itself.  What is Trump’s plan if Iran hits back?  Or if Soleimani’s killing solidifies rather than dissipates support for the regime? What happens in Iraq?

On Tuesday, Parliament resumes, and it will fall to Dominic Raab (presumably) to state the Government’s view at length.  Jeremy Corbyn will do all but openly support Iran, which will be par for the course.  Labour’s leadership contenders will be up and about doing much the same, in order to drum up support among the membership for the coming leadership election.

To date, the Foreign Secretary has not said all that much.  “We have always recognised the aggressive threat posed by the Iranian Quds force led by Qasem Soleimani. Following his death, we urge all parties to de-escalate. Further conflict is in none of our interests,” he tweeted on Friday.

We may be leaving the EU at the end of January, but British solidarity with its position on Iran continues.  How does Boris Johnson plan to deal with Trump if the conflict between America and Iran intensifies – particularly if Britain is dragged into it?  The regime will not have forgotten the business of the Prime Minister’s blunder over Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

He will want to stick to his diplomatic position on Iran while not fouling up any trade deal with America.  So far, the President seems to have taken Johnson’s alignment with France and Germany well.  It may be that he won’t mind having the Prime Minister as a “candid friend”.

But if Johnson decides that his best course for now is to say as little as possible and seek to change the subject, that will be understandable.  As we write, Downing Street might well be sifting through the bodies of a few dead cats to sling on the Cabinet table – and out to the media.  Time perhaps for another incendiary blog from Dominic Cummings.  Trump has decided to hit Iran very hard and no-one knows what will happen next.

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Neil Shastri-Hurst: NATO’s problems today include three Presidents…and a prospective Prime Minister

Dr Neil Shastri-Hurst is a former British Army Officer, doctor, lawyer, and Conservative activist in the West Midlands.

Today, on a cold winter morning, the 29 Western leaders will meet at the former home of the Earls of Clarendon. The Grove Hotel will, of course, be the venue for the 70th Anniversary Summit of the most successful alliance in history; NATO.

For most of its 70 year existence, the fundamental tenets of the alliance have been resolutely agreed to with unquestioning support. However, in recent times that has shifted. In an increasingly unstable geopolitical climate, rather than being united behind shared priorities, there are dissenting voices, both at home and abroad, who seek to undermine the alliance and its accomplishments.

There are a number of issues facing the alliance when they meet this week. High amongst them are The Three Presidential Problems, if you will.

President Trump has been a vocal critic of the collective failure of 20 out of the 29 NATO members to meet their commitment of two per cent of GDP on defence. Whilst some progress has been made on defence spending, there is much more to be done. The President has been, and continues to be, on the right side of the argument in battling for this investment.

However, whilst this may be so with regard to funding, his ruinous policy of deserting our Kurdish allies in Syria has resulted in the United States’ commitment to its other allies being brought into question.

President Erdogan has created a schism within the alliance as a result of the proximity of his relationship with Putin’s Russia through the procurement of Russian S-400 air defence systems. Furthermore, he is holding NATO to ransom by refusing to sign off their defence plans unless the remaining members accede to consigning the YPG to the category of a terrorist organisation.

Then we arrive at President Macron, who cast doubt on the ongoing validity of the principle of collective defence, which at Article 5 is at the very heart of NATO’s founding treaty. By describing the “brain death of Nato”, Mr Macron undermined the alliance in the most undiplomatic and dangerous terms. Putin must have been rubbing his hands with glee as the Russians described the French President’s assessment as “truthful words”.

And yet, at this tumultuous time the moderating voice of Britain is muffled. Distracted by domestic political unrest, at a time we should have stepped up, we have stepped back. It is crucial to NATO’s future that we reassert our influence and presence on this most vital of organisations.

It is notable that the issue of global security and Britain’s role in it has not played a prominent role in the current general election campaign. The Conservatives commitment to our national security priorities cannot be questioned. Until recent years, the same could have been said of Labour. Indeed, every Labour Prime Minister from Atlee onwards has been unswervingly committed to NATO and its pivotal role in protecting the interests of the allied nations. But now the country is faced with a very different prospect. Should Jeremy Corbyn take power, Britain and NATO will be facing a diametrically opposite reality.

I have not, and never will, buy into the concept that Corbyn is either naïve or a peacemaker. He is, quite simply, a security risk. A man who has said that he “couldn’t think of a circumstance in which Britain would use its Armed Forces”. A man who has consistently, and unwaveringly, opposed every one of Britain’s military interventions whilst in Parliament. And yet a man who will happily support the actions of hostile nations against our national interests.

We have seen his kowtowing to Russia on repeated occasions. Firstly, after the novichok attack on our own soil in Salisbury and, before that, in 2014 when he defended and supported Russia when NATO intervened following the former’s invasion of Ukraine.

The 70th Anniversary Summit has arisen at a time of uncertainty for NATO. However, the unwitting danger of a Corbyn led government to Britain’s global leadership role and the continuing security of the West cannot and must not be overlooked. By Corbyn power, we would surely be handing over our national security.

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Esper: Say, this Turkey invasion seems headed “in the wrong direction”

Westlake Legal Group esper Esper: Say, this Turkey invasion seems headed “in the wrong direction” Turkey The Blog Syrian Kurds Recep Tayyip Erdogan NATO Mark Esper John Cornyn ethnic cleansing donald trump

Maybe that cease-fire yesterday wasn’t quite as permanent as Donald Trump suggested. In fact, Defense Secretary Mark Esper admitted earlier today in Brussels, the Turks are making the situation in Syria exponentially worse. “Turkey has put us all in a very terrible situation,” Esper told a conference before a NATO summit, and is “heading in the wrong direction”:

“Turkey put us all in a very terrible situation,” Esper told a conference in Brussels on Thursday before a meeting of NATO defense ministers.

He said there are multiple crises in the Middle East and Turkey’s “unwarranted incursion into Syria” to attack the Kurds risks sapping “resources” in the region.

“There are new threats on the horizon that we ignore at our own peril,” he added.

Esper also said Turkey is “heading in the wrong direction” by carving out a “safe zone” in northern Syria and agreeing to a deal with Russia to jointly patrol the territory.

Just how safe is the “safe zone,” and just where is it? The Kurdish SDF claimed that Turkey has yet to abide by the terms of the permanent cease-fire announced by Trump yesterday, for which Trump waived the remaining sanctions against Ankara. The SDF claims that Turkey has used mercenaries to advance along a three-pronged front against Kurdish communities, but Turkey insists those are areas the Kurds were supposed to evacuate:

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) accused Turkey on Thursday of launching a large land offensive targeting three villages in northeast Syria despite a truce, but Russia said a peace plan hammered out this week was going ahead smoothly. …

But the SDF said in its statement on Thursday that Turkish forces had attacked three villages “outside the area of the ceasefire process,” forcing thousands of civilians to flee.

“Despite our forces’ commitment to the ceasefire decision and the withdrawal of our forces from the entire ceasefire area, the Turkish state and the terrorist factions allied to it are still violating the ceasefire process,” it said.

“Our forces are still clashing,” it said, urging the United States to intervene to halt the renewed fighting.

The SDF warned on Twitter that they’re not going to allow Turkey to attack their communities for long. After initially backing Trump yesterday, the militia now wants Trump to back them up by intervening with Recep Tayyip Erdogan:

Those pleas will not likely move the US to intervene, especially not militarily. As John Cornyn noted yesterday, there would have been little appetite in the US for a shooting war with Turkey over ethnic cleansing along its border, even if Erdogan had gone through the existing US “tripwire” troops at the time, so withdrawing those troops made sense, Cornyn concludes:

“If Turkey was planning on coming into northern Syria and trying to ethnically cleanse the Kurds, and U.S. troops were caught in the middle, I am not completely convinced that it was a bad idea to get them out of harm’s way,” Cornyn said.

Trump is also not likely to reverse himself so soon after his victory-lap presser yesterday to reimpose sanctions. The overall point of yesterday’s announcement was that Trump was washing his hands of the Kurds and of their disputes with the Turks. Maybe Trump will reimpose sanctions if Turkey continues to violate the terms of the cease-fire, but only after enough time passes to where he can’t be accused of being wrong yesterday.

Unfortunately for the Kurds, they’re on their own. And Turkey knows it.

The post Esper: Say, this Turkey invasion seems headed “in the wrong direction” appeared first on Hot Air.

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Turkey and Russia are declaring peace in Syria

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It’s all over but the shouting, and there really doesn’t even seem to be much of that. Yesterday was supposed to be the end of the ceasefire in northeastern Syria, at which point we expected the Turks to begin “cleansing” the twenty-mile wide border region of any remaining Kurdish fighters. But dawn broke and the fighting still seems to be on hold. The reason was announced earlier this morning and it seems that the Russians have stepped in and put all the combatants back in their respective corners. (Associated Press)

Turkey’s Defense Ministry is signaling it won’t resume its offensive in northeast Syria, following agreements reached with the U.S. and Russia.

The ministry said early on Wednesday the U.S. had announced Syrian Kurdish fighters completed their pullout from areas Turkey invaded this month as a five-day cease-fire allowing for the withdrawal expired.

This came after the leaders of Russia and Turkey announced a separate deal for their forces to jointly patrol almost the entire northeastern Syrian border after the Kurdish withdrawal.

I suppose we can look at this as one of those “good news, bad news” deals if you’re the optimistic sort. While they’ve lost their territory in the north, the Syrian Kurds have relocated to the south and are no longer being slaughtered. The border region is at least theoretically open for displaced Syrians to return and resettle the area. (There will be a lot of infrastructure work required before that can happen at any large scale, though.)

But what sort of peace has been achieved? The only reason nobody is fighting right now is that Russia is effectively in control of the entire northern border of Syria. To the east, they are jointly patrolling with the Turks (who apparently now own that territory). To the west, they are patrolling in coordination with Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian military. So the Russians now control not only the naval port at Tartus but essentially the entire northern section of the country.

At the same time, Russia’s relationship with Turkey seems to be a permanent fixture, splintering Erdogan’s nation further away from their supposed allies in NATO. With Iraq saying that our troops need to clear out of that country and Iran’s influence there on the rise, we basically no longer have a foothold anywhere in that region closer than Israel. (Well, these days I suppose we could count Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, but that’s iffy in its own way.)

A lack of shelling and people being “cleansed” along the border is still a good thing, and if our remaining troops are coming home that’s a plus also. But it’s impossible to deny at least the perception that we wound up being totally played in that part of the word. And if there’s a real winner here out of all the various interests competing in that region, it certainly looks like it’s the Russians.

Was this the ending we were shooting for after all these years of involvement? It doesn’t sound like it, but if we stop losing our soldiers over there perhaps it’s the best we could hope for now.

The post Turkey and Russia are declaring peace in Syria appeared first on Hot Air.

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Ben Roback: Trump and Syria. If your guiding principle is to withdraw from the world stage, his decision is quite sensible

Ben Roback is Head of Trade and International Policy at Cicero Group.

At the point of writing this column, the AFP tweeted out some news: #BREAKING Presidents Putin, Erdoğan start talks on Syria in Russia.

In many respects, that tells you all you need to know about Donald Trump’s latest major foreign policy decision – it has shifted the center of political gravity on Middle East politics away from Washington. Meanwhile, as American troops were pulled out of Syria, Putin arrived to a royal welcome full of pomp, ceremony and pageantry in Saudi Arabia. That centre of gravity has now pivoted towards Moscow, Ankara and Riyadh.

To many foreign policy experts and commentators, this looked a major strategic misstep. The term “misstep” is of course debatable, depending on your foreign policy philosophy and world outlook. If your guiding principle is to withdraw from the world stage and allow regional politics to play out locally, the President’s decision is quite sensible.

However, a neoconservative would argue that vacating a hotbed of geopolitical struggle allows less trusted actors to impose themselves on a dangerous part of the world. Having campaigned on a strict ‘America First’ agenda, it is clear on which side of the divide the Trump administration falls. At a campaign rally in Texas, that became self-evident.

“Sometimes you gotta let them fight, like two kids in a [parking] lot and then you pull them apart” said President Trump, comparing the discarding of America’s Kurdish partners in the region who had fought assiduously side by side for five years to two schoolboys scrapping in between Maths and double Science. The Syrian Democratic Forces helped eliminate Islamic State by March and lost approximately 11,000 soldiers in the process. It wasn’t an obvious comparison to some pushing and shoving which only ended in Brad and Chad getting after-school detention and a strongly worded letter home.

Assessing the political impact

The decision sent shockwaves through Washington. A US withdrawal, following a phone call with Erdoğan, led to a stinging rebuke from Congress and a rare instance of pushback from within the President’s party. The House of Representatives voted 354–60 to condemn the military withdrawal. Mitt Romney, whom the president has always held in deep contempt, described “a bloodstain on the annals of American history.”

The Romney intervention is a helpful case study as the November 2020 election nears. The Utah Senator and one-time presidential hopeful stuck his head above the Republican parapet to criticise a President who is still revered by the GOP at large.

The response? Blistering criticism from Trump, who offered perhaps his worse insult: “They [Democrats] are vicious. And they stick together. They don’t have Mitt Romney in their midst. They don’t have people like that, they stick together.” You get the feeling that suggesting a sitting Republican Senator is worse than a Democrat is the most offensive comparison Trump has in his political lexicon.

Will it scare other Republicans who disapprove of the President’s actions at home or abroad into silence? Thirty-three seats in the Senate are up for election in 2020 (plus two special elections in Arizona and Georgia). Republicans will be defending 23 of those seats; seven of the ten most competitive races on the ballot this year are in states that Trump won.

Ordinarily, the support of a President who is fiercely popular amongst registered Republicans would be a major boost for those Republican candidates. But we do not live in ordinary times. A new CNN/SSRS poll revealed that 50 per of Americans now say Trump should be impeached and removed from office. Should that number continue to tick up, Republicans in marginal states might consider an occasional gentle and polite rebuttal of the president to be politically advantageous.

On foreign affairs, the same poll shows the president’s approval rating has fluctuated between a nadir of 35 per cent and an apex of 43 per cent. The American public might well view the president’s decision to take US troops out of danger favourably.

Crushing ISIS is quite rightly a vote winner, but experts question the extent to which this decision will aid that goal. Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, reflected: “It’s a question of when, not if, American forces will have to return to the region to deal with a reconstituted ISIS.” More lasting damage could be done to the strength and integrity of US allegiances around the world, which appear to be straining under the pressure of this unapologetically ‘America First’ administration.

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Turkey’s hat trick: US troops leaving Syria as Kurds head south

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The situation in northeastern Syria remains in flux on an hour by hour basis. There’s still a semi-official “ceasefire” in place, largely being enforced by the Russians, but that’s only scheduled to hold for another couple of days at most. Just since I went to bed last night, two more big (and disturbing) developments took place. The first was an announcement from the Defense Department that all – or at least most – of the United States troops in Syria would be withdrawing to Western Iraq. If there was any question as to whether or not we’d be backing up the Kurds, it appears that ship has sailed. (Associated Press)

Defense Secretary Mark Esper says that under the current plan all U.S. troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq, and that the military will continue to conduct operations against the Islamic State group to prevent a resurgence in that country.

Speaking to reporters traveling with him to the Middle East, Esper did not rule out the idea that U.S. forces would conduct counterterrorism missions from Iraq into Syria. But he said those details will be worked out over time.

We’re supposedly reserving the option to run counterterrorism operations back into Syria from Iraq, which I suppose is plausible. And we’re probably going to need that option now that hundreds if not thousands of ISIS prisoners have reportedly hit the road. But if we’re not directly supervising the terrorist cleanup operations and the Kurds aren’t around to do it (more on that in a moment), who’s going to take care of that responsibility? The Turks? The Russians? I’m not exactly brimming with confidence over either possibility.

Getting back to the question of the Kurds, after initially announcing that they’d struck a deal to work with Bashar al Assad’s forces, they are now reportedly evacuating the border region and heading south.

A senior Syrian Kurdish official says his forces will pull back from a border area in accordance with a U.S.-brokered deal after Turkey allows the evacuation of its remaining fighters and civilians from a besieged town there.

Redur Khalil, a senior Syrian Democratic Forces official, said Saturday the plan for evacuation from the town of Ras al-Ayn is set for the following day, if there are no delays.

He says only after that will his force pull back from a 120-kilometer (75-mile) area between the towns of Ras al-Ayn and Tal-Aybad. It will withdraw and move back from the border 30 kilometers (19 miles).

This is quite a reversal of policy. Up until now, the Kurds had only been evacuating civilians, claiming that they would stick around the meet the Turks on the field of battle. But with Russian and Syrian forces tossed into the mix, the writing may have been on the wall.

Keep in mind that this isn’t just a reshuffling of military assets. The Kurds have been living in that region for generations and were well established there. Assuming Turkey allows them to withdraw safely, they will have basically committed ethnic cleansing of an entire region in a matter of weeks. But there’s also no assurance that the Kurdish forces will even be allowed to leave peacefully. As of this morning, the AP is reporting that several towns, including Ras al-Ayn, are completely surrounded without an escape corridor to the south.

So at this point, Turkey has indeed pulled off a hat trick of sorts, flushing out the Americans, putting the Syrian forces in a subservient position and preparing to either drive out the Kurds or wipe them out when the ceasefire ends. They’ve also solidified their military alliance with the Russians at the same time. (Erdogan is meeting with Putin in Sochi on Tuesday.) How this could have ended more badly for U.S. and western interests is difficult to imagine.

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Report: Giuliani was pushing to turn over cleric to Erdogan

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There’s a name we haven’t seen crop up in the news for quite a while. According to anonymous sources who worked at the White House (as always), exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen was a frequent topic of conversation between Rudy Giuliani and President Trump. Rudy had allegedly been pushing Trump to extradite Gulen to Turkey, a demand that’s constantly been made by their tyrant, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Trump appears to have eventually been unswayed by the arguments, however. (WaPo)

Rudolph W. Giuliani privately urged President Trump in 2017 to extradite a Turkish cleric living in exile in the United States, a top priority of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to multiple former administration officials familiar with the discussions.

Giuliani, a Trump ally who later became the president’s personal attorney, repeatedly argued to Trump that the U.S. government should eject Fethullah Gulen from the country, according to the former officials, who spoke on the condition on anonymity to describe private conversations.

Turkey has demanded that the United States turn over Gulen, a permanent U.S. resident who lives in Pennsylvania, to stand trial on charges of plotting a 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan. Gulen has denied involvement in the plot.

As you may recall, Gulen was a prominent figure in the ongoing negotiations to get Erdogan to release American pastor Andrew Brunson. The Tyrant of Turkey has consistently blamed Gulen for the failed coup attempt a couple of years ago and was trying to use Brunson as a bargaining chip to get his hands on him. Trump eventually secured Brunson’s release last September without turning the cleric over.

We still really don’t know much about Gulen as far as whether or not he (or his surrogates) were actually involved in the coup. I don’t know if he’s one of the good guys or one of the bad guys. But what we can be pretty sure of is that if he gets sent back to Turkey he’ll immediately wind up in a dungeon, assuming they don’t just execute him immediately.

So why was Rudy so anxious to turn him over? He had some clients in Turkey prior to working for the President as his attorney but was never an official lobbyist for the country. Giuliani told the WaPo that the story was “bull” so we can take this all with at least a small grain of salt. But it probably wouldn’t be all that surprising. If he was pushing to release Gulen in an effort to secure Brunson’s release, that would at least have given him a noble motivation, even if it wasn’t a good strategy. But if he was just doing it to curry favor with Erdogan it’s going to be yet another dark cloud around his head as the current investigations move forward.

Of course, all of this is almost certainly water under the bridge by now. After Erdogan attacked the Kurds and shelled some of our troops “accidentally” this week, he certainly can’t be expecting any favors from us. So Gulen should be able to rest easy in Pennsylvania for a while longer.

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Alicia Kearns: Ten actions we can and should take to help the Kurds

Alicia Kearns is an expert in counter-terrorism, and formerly worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She was the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Mitcham and Morden in 2017.

Amidst the anger about the Erdogan-Assad offensive in North East Syria, there has been very little discussion about what the UK can and should do to support the Kurds.

Sixty thousand Kurdish people took up arms to fight Daesh, and at least 11,000 of them paid for our safety with their lives. We would not have secured victory without them. They liberated tens of thousands of square miles from Manbij to Raqqa and Baghouz, freeing millions of people from Daesh occupation. They fought street by street to save Christians, Yazidis and Arabs and give them refuge.

The offensive is not a response to a threat faced by Turkey. It is an attempt to eradicate the Kurdish people, who are trapped by the ambitions of two countries that are ruthless in their desire to gain territory, and will crush anyone who opposes them. This action will benefit Daesh and undermine efforts to stabilise Iraq and Syria.

Decision-making is in the hands of those on the ground, and the UK’s role is limited, as we will not and cannot put our own people into this theatre, but we must do what we can. Here are a few steps we could take.

  • Call for an immediate ceasefire

While it is unlikely that Turkey and Syria will respect such a call, we must exert all possible pressure. A no-fly zone is unlikely to work, as it would need to be policed by Coalition forces, of which Turkey is a member. The next question is whether Russian airplanes would be deployed. A ceasefire is the most practical option, although one is unlikely to be agreed in the immediate future.

  • Minimise civilian casualties

The UK and our partners urgently need to secure agreements from Turkey to protect civilian life. Displacement has begun, with communities fleeing their villages and reports of civilian deaths caused by indiscriminate bombing. This area is home to two to three million people who have already suffered enough. Turkey has simultaneously launched this offensive and tightened its borders to prevent refugees from fleeing to what has been their only safe destination. Civilians are trapped with no escape, which is why, if we cannot secure a ceasefire, the parameters of Turkey’s offensive must be agreed quickly, and humanitarian access provided

  • Limit the offensive’s parameters

Turkey must commit to strike only internationally agreed and intelligence-based ‘military’ targets. Erdogan uses the terms ‘militants’, ‘terror corridor’ and ‘militia’ – vague words which give him maximum freedom to operate. Whilst the Partiya Karkeren Kurdistani (PKK) is proscribed by the UK and the US, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) must also be declared a non-targets. Beyond this, we should push Turkey to declare a time-bound offensive.

  • Join International Punitive Actions against Turkey

If Turkey will not agree to recognise the SDF as friendly forces, and targets them, we should support sanctions and other activities against it that could help save our allies, the SDF, and civilians across north east Syria.

  • Flex our diplomatic muscle

The UK should provide a voice for the Kurdish people at NATO, the UN, and in diplomatic discussions. I welcome the news that the UK and France have called for a Security Council meeting but, over the last few years, the UN has shown itself to be ineffective in addressing conflict, particularly in the Middle East. We should deploy our diplomatic network to advocate for the Kurds. I hope, since that this incursion was long-anticipated, that the Foreign Office has already developed plans to support the Kurdish people.

  • Review our posture on Turkey

There was no imminent threat to Turkey from Kurds in north eastern Syria. We want it to be a productive partner, to improve relations with it and to keep it turned westwards. But this cannot be done at any cost, and certainly not by overlooking offensives like this. Turkey has a right to protect itself, but this action was not precipitated by any threat. Erdogan has long had ambitions to extend his territory into Syria. Turkey must respect international rules. This is not what we are seeing in Syria, nor in other actions by Turkey, such as threatening Greece. We must now consider how we can help create an exit strategy for Turkey before it has even more tragic consequences.

We must also recognise that Russia is an important player, and that its continued support for the Assad regime and overtures to Turkey have emboldened Erdogan. Russia’s stated strategic objectives include creating division amongst NATO partners: we must not assist them with this aim.

  • Take a position on the Kurdish people

For too long, we have avoided having a meaningful foreign policy about the Kurdish people. We should commit to a supportive position and be open about it. We have long been friends to them. If you go to Kurdistan in Iraq you will hear many Kurds speaking perfect English with South London accents, from their time living in the UK as refugees from the longstanding persecution they have faced and the Anfal genocide.

  • Prevent the forcible return of refugees to north east Syria

Turkey has been generous in hosting refugees. Now we must prevent Turkey from forcibly returning three million Syrian refugees to North East Syria during or after this offensive. It is not safe for refugees to return to Syria, as they will face persecution from the Assad regime. Nor is it right to forcibly move refugees to an area from which they do not emanate or to forcibly change the ethnic make-up of an area.

  • Focus on the threat

Daesh has been defeated, but it still exists as an ideology that can and will recruit followers. It still operates as an insurgent force on the borders between Iraq and Syria. The SDF are holding around 2,000 foreign terrorist fighters, 9,000 Syrian and Iraqi Daesh fighters, and tens of thousands of Daesh family members in camps and prisons. The prisons are under great pressure. There have been violent attacks within them, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Daesh’s Caliph) has called for supporters to organise prison breaks.

Turkey took advantage of US withdrawal, and now Daesh will exploit the compromised position of the Kurds. How do we expect the Kurds to maintain the security of prisons while under air attack from Turkey? The UK should use its significant influence in the Coalition to lead discussions amongst its 80 plus members on how to stop this offensive, which is undermining its work to defeat violent extremists in the region over the last few years.

  • Criticise Withdrawal

A friendship is strong when one can disagree respectfully with an ally’s decision. This offensive began just days after Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of troops. This decision gave the green light to Erdogan and Assad to begin their action.

Whilst we all understand the reasons for moving troops out, a lesson from history in the Middle East is that withdrawal at the wrong time can be catastrophic. This decision throws into jeopardy the likelihood of any future forces trusting the US and, potentially, others. Turkey grasped its opportunity, and our allies, whom we committed to protect, will pay the price.

– – –

The vulnerability of the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Kurdish people is not new. We must stand by our allies and friends: words are not enough. As Conservatives we believe in self-determination, fairness, loyalty, and decency. If we desert the Kurds now, we cease to be that of which we are so proud.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Erdogan’s Syrian resettlement plan is every bit as crazy as it sounds

Westlake Legal Group erdogan-weapons Erdogan’s Syrian resettlement plan is every bit as crazy as it sounds Turkey The Blog syrian refugees Syria resettlement Recep Tayyip Erdogan

We may be getting a glimpse inside the long game that the Tyrant of Turkey is playing. As Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues his military push into the northeastern Syrian border region, he’s simultaneously touting a Syrian refugee resettlement program that has nearly every international observer scratching their heads. During a speech yesterday, Erdogan announced that he plans to resettle up to a million refugees currently living in his country in the twenty-mile wide border region he’s currently burning to the ground. (Associated Press)

In the face of widespread international criticism for his military foray into northern Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan remains defiant, standing by his pledge to return as many refugees as possible to a border corridor that will be carved out by force.

“We will rebuild an area for 1 million people, for those who want to return to their country and don’t have a home to go back to,” he told members of his governing party on Thursday to widespread applause…

Opponents of Turkey’s offensive into northern Syria argue that the assault is purely aimed at driving out Kurdish fighters and U.S. lawmakers have warned of potential sanctions. The word betrayal is doing the rounds as Kurdish fighters proved pivotal in the fight against the Islamic State group.

The resettlement scheme is currently being described as “voluntary” but sources inside the country are expressing concerns that people will be pressured to “volunteer” to return to their home country. This could apply to some who have been living legally in Turkey for years, including those who have married and now have families there.

Was this part of Erdogan’s plan all along? He doesn’t want to have to keep supporting the millions of refugees currently living in his country, despite the fact that Turkish law makes it mandatory that they are given refuge. He obviously wants to wipe out the Kurds near his border and has made that clear all along, but this could be a case of killing two birds with one tank division. Kill off the Kurds and rid himself of unwanted guests all with one invasion.

Erdogan had a reply to criticism coming from Europe about his invasion. If they keep calling it an invasion, he threated to “open the floodgates” for millions of Syrian and Iraqui refugees to stream through Turkey and into mainland Europe. Turkey has been the only thing stopping the mass migration from exploding even further, so that’s some powerful leverage. Perhaps that explains why the United Nations Security Council failed to pass a resolution condemning the invasion.

But the resettlement plan is being widely panned as totally impractical if not impossible. Among the questions being raised is how he plans to bus a million people into that region. And more to the point, what will they do when they get there? The cities are being bombed and burned, so where would the returning refugees live? He would need to build housing for a million people at costs that would run into the tens of billions of dollars. Power lines, potable water supplies and all of the other infrastructure required to support the new residents would need to be established. Where would he come up with the money?

All of these questions remain unanswered. The only other alternative would be to pack up the refugees and essentially dump them out in the cold in the middle of a war zone. That doesn’t sound like much of a resettlement plan.

While we’re on the subject, it’s worth pointing out that the Turkish forces are “clearing out” areas inhabited by Christians, also. This entire affair is rapidly turning into an international disaster that was totally preventable.

The post Erdogan’s Syrian resettlement plan is every bit as crazy as it sounds appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group erdogan-weapons-300x173 Erdogan’s Syrian resettlement plan is every bit as crazy as it sounds Turkey The Blog syrian refugees Syria resettlement Recep Tayyip Erdogan  Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com