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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Turkey"

Everything you need to know about this year’s White House Turkey Pardoning Ceremony

On the afternoon of Tuesday, Nov. 26, President Donald Trump participated in the time-honored tradition of pardoning two turkeys, and choosing one to be the National Thanksgiving Turkey, in the White House Rose Garden. 

The act of giving a live turkey to the President of the United States has been a Thanksgiving tradition since 1947, yet that lucky turkey hasn’t always had the same fate it does now. 

Prior to 1963, when President John F. Kennedy decided to reprieve the animal with a sign that read, “Good Eating, Mr. President!”, turkeys were eaten by the president and his family for the holiday feast. The official Pardoning Ceremony wasn’t enacted until President George H.W. Bush’s presidency in 1989.

Westlake Legal Group family-of-farmers-with-turkeys Everything you need to know about this year’s White House Turkey Pardoning Ceremony white house washington D.C. Turkey Tradition the willard intercontinental hotel The Willard Thanksgiving President News & Updates News national turkey pardoning ceremony DC Culture
Bread and Butter stare out upon a sea of cameras as Kerry Doughty and his family address the press on Monday, Nov. 25. (Photo by Jess Feldman)

Now, two turkeys are born and raised to be be pardoned by the president and live out their days on Virginia Tech University’s Gobblers Rest following the ceremony, which they have done for the past four years. 

Prior to the 2019 ceremony, the two turkeys, known as Bread and Butter, spent the night at the Willard InterContinental Hotel, paid for by the National Turkey Federation, getting their beauty rest before a day of press conferences, meetings and an introduction with Donald and Melania Trump. 

Both of the birds were raised under the supervision of this year’s National Turkey Federation Chairman, Kerry Doughty, former president and CEO of Butterball, LLC, in North Carolina on his family farm. This year, the turkeys raised on Doughty’s farm are American Humane Certified for the first time, meaning they were verified as receiving the most humane treatment possible. 

Westlake Legal Group hokie-with-real-turkeys Everything you need to know about this year’s White House Turkey Pardoning Ceremony white house washington D.C. Turkey Tradition the willard intercontinental hotel The Willard Thanksgiving President News & Updates News national turkey pardoning ceremony DC Culture
Bread and Butter meet the Virginia Tech Hokie at a press conference on Monday, Nov. 25. (Photo by Jess Feldman)

Bread and Butter, both just 19 weeks old, have grown up listening to soft rock music and preparing for the bright lights, flashes and loud noises that come with this tradition, according to Doughty. 

“I’m just a family farmer trying to put a face on what we do,” Doughty said at a press conference held at the hotel on Monday, Nov. 25. 

Following a live social media vote that opened on Monday, Nov. 25 and closed on Tuesday, Nov. 26 at 11 a.m., Butter was chosen by the American people as the National Thanksgiving Turkey. 

After the live ceremony, Bread and Butter will make their way to Gobbler’s Rest in Blacksburg, where they will be cared for by Rami Dalloul, a professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and world-renowned poultry immunologist. Last year’s two turkeys, Peas and Carrots, live on the grounds as well.

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Turkey’s Deportations Force Europe to Face Its ISIS Militants

Westlake Legal Group merlin_163136634_c48fc4a7-2965-42f7-89d6-828255a0a973-facebookJumbo Turkey’s Deportations Force Europe to Face Its ISIS Militants Turkey Terrorism Politics and Government Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Immigration and Emigration Great Britain Gondal, Tooba France Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Detainees Deportation

PARIS — As Turkey followed through on its threat to release more Islamic State detainees last week, Western European nations were confronted with a problem they had long sought to avoid: what to do about the potential return of radicalized, often battle-hardened Europeans to countries that absolutely do not want them back.

Faced with fierce popular opposition to the repatriation of such detainees and fears over the long-term threat they could pose back home, European leaders have sought alternative ways to prosecute them — in an international tribunal, on Iraqi soil, anywhere but on the Continent.

But President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, made more powerful by a sudden shift in American policy, is determined to foist the problem of the captured European Islamic State fighters back on the countries they came from.

Last week, Turkey sent a dozen former Islamic State members and relatives to Britain, Denmark, Germany and the United States, and Mr. Erdogan says hundreds more are right behind them.

“All of the European countries, especially those with most of the foreign fighters, have desperately been looking for the past year for a way to deal with them without bringing them back,” said Rik Coolsaet, an expert on radicalization at the Egmont Institute, a Brussels-based research group. “But now, European nations are being forced to consider repatriation since Turkey is going to put people on the plane.”

The sudden problem for Europe is a long-tail consequence of President Trump’s precipitous decision last month to withdraw American forces from northern Syria, which cleared the way for Turkey to take control of territory as well as many of the Islamic State members who had been held there in Kurdish-run prisons or detention camps.

The issue is further complicated by the fact that nearly two-thirds of the Western European detainees, or about 700, are children, many of whom have lost one parent, if not both.

Now that more of the former fighters are in Turkish hands, Mr. Erdogan has not hesitated to use the threat of returning them as leverage over European countries who have been deeply critical of his incursion, and who have threatened sanctions against Turkey for unauthorized oil drilling in the eastern Mediterranean off Cyprus.

The fate of the former fighters and their families has become yet another point of contention between Turkey and Europe, which is already paying Mr. Erdogan’s government billions of dollars to stem the flow of asylum seekers from conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Turkey is already home to some three million refugees from the Syria conflict, and Mr. Erdogan is determined to lighten his country’s load. But his real intent remains unclear: Does he really plan to send back all foreign fighters to Europe? Or is he opening the spigot, with the threat of a flood to come, to wring concessions from Europe?

What is clear is that with limited military reach in Syria, European nations are ever more vulnerable to Mr. Erdogan’s whims. Turkish officials say that Turkey now holds 2,280 Islamic State members from 30 countries, and that all of them will be deported.

The problem is not Europe’s alone. On Friday, Turkey deported an American it described as an Islamic State member, Muhammad Darwish Bassam, to the United States. Last week, a federal judge in the United States ruled that an American-born woman who joined the Islamic State in 2014 was not an American citizen, potentially thwarting her return.

But the numbers and risks for Europe are far greater than for the United States. More than 1,100 citizens of countries in Western Europe are believed to be detained in northern Syria in territory once controlled by the Islamic State, according to a recent study by the Egmont Institute.

Their potential return has confronted European justice systems with competing security and civil liberties demands as they attempt to vet returnees, decide whether to detain them, and build cases on potential crimes that often happened hundred of miles away on remote Syrian battlefields.

France, the Western European nation with the most detainees in Syria, is getting ready to take back 11 former Islamic State members. The Netherlands has also agreed to take back some of its citizens.

On Thursday, a 26-year-old man suspected of being an Islamic State fighter was arrested after landing at London’s Heathrow Airport on a flight from Turkey.

That same day, seven members of a German-Iraqi family arrived in Berlin from Turkey, from which they had been deported after several months in custody over suspected links to terrorism.

The father was detained, but the other family members were allowed to return to their homes.

On Friday, a woman deported by Turkey was detained upon arrival at Frankfurt Airport on suspicion of being a member of a terrorist organization abroad. Federal prosecutors in Germany said the woman, a German citizen identified only as Nasim A., left the country in 2014 and married an ISIS fighter, whom she supported until Kurdish-led security forces detained her this year.

A second woman was released after landing in Germany, but will be tracked by experts on de-radicalization.

German officials said they believed more than 130 people left the country to join ISIS, 95 of whom were German citizens and had the right to return to the country. Nearly a third of the Germans are under investigation by federal prosecutors.

French officials said there had been no change in French policy, which opposes repatriation from Syria.

But pressure has been building, and security experts and some government officials have increasingly warned that the repatriation of militants — and their processing in European courts and detention in prisons — would be the only way to ensure Europe’s safety.

The deteriorating situation in northern Syria, some experts say, further increases the need for an orderly repatriation to Europe.

Left in Syria, more detainees could fall into the hands of Turkish forces or the Syrian government, which could use them as bargaining chips with the West.

Others could run away and try to regroup, or be taken back by Islamic State sleeper cells, as is feared in the case of some women who recently escaped from a camp in the region.

“There are a lot of risks associated with the policy of leaving them where they are,’’ said Anthony Dworkin, a fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations who has studied the Islamic State’s foreign fighters.

The potential dangers and difficulties are vividly demonstrated in the case of Tooba Gondal, a 25-year-old French citizen of Pakistani origin who grew up and lived in London until she traveled to Syria in 2015. She is believed to still be in the custody of the Turkish authorities.

A mother of two, she does not speak French and had spent most of her life in Britain, and although French intelligence services knew of her case, it is unclear that they had expected her to come to France.

“Tooba Gondal is a very notorious ISIS female recruiter, but until recently she wasn’t on the radar of French intelligence services,” said Jean-Charles Brisard of the Paris-based Center for Analysis of Terrorism, who was first to reveal that she would be deported.

A former London university student, Ms. Gondal became known in the British news media as an Islamic State “matchmaker.” She is accused of persuading other young Western women, like the British schoolgirl Shamima Begum, to marry Islamic State fighters.

She also posed with assault rifles in pictures on social media, and praised the Paris terrorist attacks in November 2015.

In recent months, Ms. Gondal has pleaded to be taken back to Britain, which had issued an expulsion order against her in 2018. She declared in an open letter to The Sunday Times of London that she was a “changed person” who wished to “face justice in a British court.” As a non-British citizen but a French passport holder, she is now likely to be deported to France.

France has already repatriated more than 250 Islamic State fighters and their families from Turkey since signing a bilateral agreement with the government there in 2014. But 400 French citizens are still estimated to be detained in Syria, according to the Egmont Institute, and France does not want them back.

Instead, France wants Iraq to try them, especially the male fighters. French officials have led European negotiations with the Iraqi government to set up trials in Iraq. But disagreements between Iraqi and European officials — over legal matters like the death penalty and costs — have prevented an accord.

“It is legitimate that people who have committed terrorist acts should be judged closest to the place where they committed those said terrorist acts,’’ Sibeth Ndiaye, a spokeswoman for the French government, said at a meeting of the Anglo-American Press Association.

The other French citizens expected to return home — three Frenchwomen and their five children, all under 4 years old — were held in the camp of Ain Issa, according to their lawyer, Marie Dosé.

She said the families escaped in mid-October when the facility was abandoned by Kurdish forces. “They have risked their lives and their children’s to join Turkey and be expelled to France,” Ms. Dosé said.

For more than a year, Ms. Dosé and other French lawyers have fought to bring the mothers back with their children, as the women argued that they wanted to be tried at home. Last year, when a French television crew met one of the four women set to be deported, she said she wouldn’t leave without her son.

“If he leaves, I’m leaving with him,” said Amandine le Coz, a 29-year-old woman who grew up in a suburb near Paris. “He’s my life.”

In France and other European nations, the stories of people like Ms. le Coz and Ms. Gondal have elicited little sympathy.

“There’s been more sympathy for vulnerable children, but as you go up to adults, there’s a lot of pushback against women and there’s even more pushback against male militants,’’ said Joana Cook, a researcher at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization in London.

Dr. Cook, who has studied women and children who have returned to their home countries from Syria, said there had been no known incidents involving returnees.

Instead, terrorist cases, including the failed attempt to ignite a car loaded with gas canisters near the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, involved women who had become radicalized at home and had never stepped foot in Syria.

In France, about 100 people who returned from Syria have already been judged and given sentences averaging 10 years, Mr. Brisard said. Some of those serving the shortest sentences have already been released, he said.

“They’ll be freed one day, that’s for sure,’’ Mr. Brisard said. “But it’s preferable that they be incarcerated in French prisons from where they can’t escape. And after they’ve served their sentences, it’s preferable that they be tracked by a competent intelligence service. In Iraq or Syria, I don’t have much faith in their intelligence services keeping track of our jihadists.’’

Norimitsu Onishi reported from Paris, and Elian Peltier from London. Carlotta Gall contributed reporting from Istanbul, and Melissa Eddy from Berlin.

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Daniel Hannan: Where would we now find another Norman Stone?

Daniel Hannan is an MEP for South-East England, and a journalist, author and broadcaster. His most recent book is What Next: How to Get the Best from Brexit.

One good thing – only one – came out of Oliver Letwin’s wrecking amendment earlier this month. It meant that I was able to come back from Strasbourg for Norman Stone’s memorial service.

Had the Withdrawal Bill been approved by the Commons as scheduled, we MEPs would have been voting on it last week, Britain would be leaving tomorrow – and I would have missed my chance to bid a final farewell to perhaps the most capacious, restless, inspiring mind I have encountered.

As it was, I was able to take my place in St Martin-in-the-Fields among hundreds of (for want of a better shorthand) conservative intellectuals. There were dozens of Tory peers and MPs, scores of distinguished writers and academics and a good number of those anti-communist Mittel-European thinkers who, in many ways, made up Norman’s hinterland.

Arriving just in time from the European Parliament, I found myself between Peter Lilley and Alan Sked, the LSE historian who founded the Anti-Federalist League in 1991, changing its name to UKIP in 1993. Dominic Cummings ambled in a little late wearing what looked like a black gilet for the occasion. Michael Gove and Andrew Roberts were among those who gave readings. You get the picture: here was the tribe massing to mourn one of its own.

Not just the tribe, though. Norman was generous and eclectic in his friendships. Also giving readings were Tim Garton Ash, the historian whose enthusiasm for European integration recently won him the Charlemagne Prize, and Robert Harris, the brilliant Blairite novelist who turned Norman into “Fluke” Kelso, the alcoholic Scottish hero of Archangel – portrayed, to Norman’s amused delight, by Daniel Craig in the film version.

We sometimes toss out the word “influential” too easily, but Norman was a man who truly shaped the thinking of a whole generation of historians. He taught his students to look with fresh eyes, to notice what others had missed. He amassed what must be the greatest trove of historical asides collected by a single human being. His histories, like his gravelly-voiced soliloquys, fizzed with facts that were at once pertinent and astonishing: Nikita Khruschev bought his maths lessons from a starving professor for a sack of potatoes; serfdom was formally abolished in England only in 1922. Those gems are picked more or less randomly from the hundreds that stud Norman’s last work, Hungary: A Short History, published earlier this year. To read that book, or any in his oeuvre, is like sitting spellbound as the master raconteur poured whisky in and anecdotes out.

Could Norman happen today? What I mean is, could a professor with his personality and his opinions achieve an equivalent position in our national conversation? One has only to put the question.

Norman’s critics held that his lifestyle disqualified him as a serious academic. They wrote him off as a flâneur, an adventurer, a journalist. He certainly had a colourful romantic life, and showed scant respect for the usual pieties of his caste.

But there is no doubting his scholarship. When he was 43, he left Cambridge to become Professor of Modern History at Oxford, arguably the supreme accolade for an academic historian. His books were not frequent, but they won prizes. His knack for languages bordered on the miraculous. He spoke French, German, Greek, Italian, Polish, Russian, Serbo-Croat and Spanish. More impressively, he mastered both Hungarian and Turkish, becoming convinced in the process that they were more closely connected than linguists usually allow. When I say “mastered”, I don’t mean, as historians sometimes do, that he could get through source material with the aid of a dictionary. I mean that he could deliver a speech or conduct a TV interview in that tongue.

While he was at Cambridge, his fellow dons wondered whether anyone could be quite as linguistically capable as he appeared, and would seat him at dinner next to any visiting Eastern European scholar, hoping to show him up. The two would chat away animatedly. Afterwards, the other fellows would ask the visitor whether Stone was as fluent as he claimed. “Oh, yes,” the answer would come, “he has a quite extraordinary idiomatic grasp of my language – but he appears to have learned it from a pimp”.

In an age when many tutors put in office hours before returning to family homes, Norman was a constant presence, always the centre of attention, the aperçus flowing. (“There is nothing inevitable in history, so good historians should never use the word ‘inevitable’ – except for ‘German counter-attack.’”) He was more interested in teaching than in writing. He liked students, taking an unfeigned interest in their development, remembering every detail of what they had written.

Had he been on the Left, he would have been regarded as one of our towering public intellectuals. His bohemianism and affairs of the heart would have been seen as natural, indeed laudable, embellishments. But Norman committed the ultimate sin: he was a Thatcherite. Anarchic and irreverent, he never liked governments telling people what to do. In the end, his disdain for the pettiness and provincialism of the British academy drove him to give up Oxford’s top job for a larger budget and a higher salary in Ankara.

When Norman first started teaching, around one in three British academics identified as Right-of-Centre. Today, that number is one in eight – and far lower in the humanities. To be a conservative academic is to be a class traitor. Norman’s death was marked by a poisonous attack by the Regius Professor of History at Cambridge, masquerading as a Guardian obituary. Norman had committed the sin, apparently, of being a Right-wing journalist instead of a serious academic. (That professor’s next article likened Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament to the Nazi seizure of power. Any amount of journalistic bombast is fine in an academic, it seems, provided he is on the Left.)

Heterodoxy and free thinking are being snuffed out in the institutions that exist to defend them. A modern Norman Stone, finding the doors of higher education barred, would go elsewhere. He would doubtless be better off financially, but the rest of us would be impoverished.

I did not grieve for my old friend as I left the church: he lived and died on his own terms, God rest his soul. But I grieved for the state of higher education in Britain. I grieve still.

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In Another Bipartisan Rebuke of Trump, House Votes for Sanctions Against Turkey

Westlake Legal Group 29dc-sanctions-facebookJumbo In Another Bipartisan Rebuke of Trump, House Votes for Sanctions Against Turkey United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syria Senate McCaul, Michael T House of Representatives Engel, Eliot L Embargoes and Sanctions

WASHINGTON — The House voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to impose a series of sweeping sanctions on Turkey over its brutal assault on the Kurds in northern Syria, dealing its second bipartisan rebuke to President Trump this month for pulling back American forces to allow for the Turkish incursion.

The measure drew broad support from Republicans, including the party’s leaders, underscoring how Mr. Trump’s decision to effectively surrender American influence in the region and abandon Kurdish fighters has provoked the most vocal and intense criticism of the president by his own party since he was elected. The vote was 403 to 16, with 15 Republicans and one Democrat, Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, voting against the legislation.

This month, two-thirds of House Republicans joined with Democrats to censure his withdrawal of troops from Syria in a 354 to 60 vote. It was, at the time, the most significant bipartisan repudiation of Mr. Trump since he took office.

The top Democrat and Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee — Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the chairman, and Representative Michael McCaul of Texas — sponsored the legislation that passed Tuesday, which is an attempt by lawmakers to add teeth to what they consider an insufficient response from the Trump administration to Turkey’s bloody offensive into Syria. If enacted, it would prohibit the sale of arms to Turkey for use in Syria, impose sanctions on senior Turkish officials for their role in the military offensive against the Kurds, and require the administration to impose additional sanctions for the Turkish government’s purchase of surface-to-air missile systems from Russia.

“Today Democrats and Republicans come together to demonstrate the strong, smart leadership that has certainly been lacking from the White House,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said.

Last week, Mr. Trump lifted the modest sanctions he had imposed on Turkey’s Ministry of National Defense and Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources after he announced that Turkey had agreed to a permanent cease-fire in Syria.

“The sanctions will be lifted unless something happens that we are not happy with,” he said.

That comment upset many lawmakers, who believe there is indeed much to be unhappy about. James F. Jeffrey, the president’s special representative to Syria, told Congress that same day that American officials were investigating allegations that Turkish-supported forces had committed war crimes.

On Tuesday, House Republicans largely did not discuss the administration’s decision to lift sanctions, instead focusing their remarks on condemning President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials.

“We let Turkey into NATO to protect them from the Soviet Union,” Mr. McCaul said. “And now our NATO ally is buying Russian equipment, Russian military equipment and, through its invasion into Syria, threatening our allies.”

Only a handful of libertarian-minded Trump allies have come to the president’s defense.

Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona, the chairman of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus, argued in an op-ed for The Hill newspaper on Tuesday that Mr. Trump’s decision to “pursue diplomacy” is an approach that “seems to already be bearing fruit.”

For now, the tougher sanctions approved by the House are likely to remain stalled. To enact them, the legislation would have to pass the Republican-led Senate and be signed by Mr. Trump. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has said that, for now at least, he does not intend to bring up any such measure.

“We need to think extremely carefully before we employ the same tools against a democratic NATO ally that we would against the worst rogue states,” Mr. McConnell said in a speech. He has introduced his own resolution rebuking the president for the withdrawal of troops from Syria, but that, too, is unlikely to draw broad support. It would put Congress on the record warning against precipitous withdrawals of American troops from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, a provision that is intended to politically jam Democrats, who — notwithstanding their criticism of the president’s pullback in Syria — have long called for pulling United States troops out of the Middle East.

Some Republican senators, however, hope to press forward with sanctions. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, have introduced their own package of more punitive sanctions, with provisions that would cut off American military assistance to Turkey and bar Mr. Erdogan from visiting the United States.

Republican senators have also privately pressed Mr. Trump for months to impose sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of a Russian antiaircraft system called the S-400. Mr. Trump already punished Ankara for acquiring the surface-to-air missile system in July by canceling the sale of F-35 stealth fighter jets, but lawmakers in both parties believe Mr. Trump is legally obligated by a 2017 law to go further and enact sanctions.

“On a strong bipartisan basis, Congress has made it clear that there must be consequences for President Erdogan’s misguided S-400 acquisition, a troubling signal of strategic alignment with Putin’s Russia and a threat to the F-35 program,” the top Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees said in a joint statement.

In July, Republican senators met with Mr. Trump at the White House in the hopes of convincing the president to impose sanctions on Turkey. But after a freewheeling meeting that often veered off topic, the lawmakers left with the impression that the president was not interested in such a move, a Republican senator who attended said.

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BREAKING: Reports Say ISIS Leader Al-Baghdadi Has Been Captured or Killed

Not many details, but an operation in Syria has reportedly captured or killed Al-Baghdadi, who is the top leader in ISIS and has been on the run for years.

Rumors started swirling after Donald Trump dropped a cryptic tweet about an hour ago.

Some verified accounts on Twitter started to spread the news of an operation.

Now, we are getting some accounts claiming it is confirmed. You’d think Gilliam would have sources within the SEALs so his information is probably solid.

A major announcement is coming at 9am in the morning from the White House. You’d think it has to be Al-Baghdadi to warrant this kind of pomp and circumstance.

We’ll get final confirmation in the morning. It does appear likely though that the worst terrorist on the planet may have just been captured or killed.

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The post BREAKING: Reports Say ISIS Leader Al-Baghdadi Has Been Captured or Killed appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group Portrait-of-Abu-Bakr-al-Baghdadi-300x225 BREAKING: Reports Say ISIS Leader Al-Baghdadi Has Been Captured or Killed Turkey Syria SEALs Politics navy killed Front Page Stories Featured Story elections captured Breaking News Allow Media Exception Al-Baghdadi airstrike   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

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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Once Again, the Left Promotes Violence Toward the Right, This Time Against Rand Paul

Westlake Legal Group BetteMidlerAPphoto-620x317 Once Again, the Left Promotes Violence Toward the Right, This Time Against Rand Paul Violence Turkey Syria republicans Rand Paul Politics military Kurds Hollywood Front Page Stories democrats Bette Midler Allow Media Exception

Bette Midler presents the award for best performance by an actress in a leading role in a play at the 71st annual Tony Awards on Sunday, June 11, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Michael Zorn/Invision/AP)

It wasn’t but a handful of days ago that the left and the media were losing their collective minds over a year old video of Trump’s head being superimposed over a character during a scene from a violent movie. We were told that this kind of promotion of violence was inexcusable and would only promote real-life violence.

Since then, we’ve had instances of leftists promoting violence against the right, including Antifa telling a church that they’d bring out a guillotine if they played a movie about Jordan Peterson and a woman being assaulted for being pro-Trump.

If you include all the other instances of violence being overly celebrated by the left against the right, you’ll find that the pattern is that it’s okay for the left to visit harm on the right, but the right better not even joke about doing it to the left.

We can now add Bette Midler to those who hold that position.

On Wednesday, Midler became angry over Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul calling the Kurds “ingrates” for throwing refuse at American troops despite fighting to help free them from the clutches of ISIS. Midler didn’t take that well and, instead of putting up a well thought out and reasonable argument, told everyone to be thankful for Rand Paul’s violent neighbor who assaulted him.

“I DO NOT promote violence,” began Midler before she continued by promoting violence, “but… Rand Paul says the Kurds are being “ingrates” for taking their frustrations out on US troops. Which is a good reminder for us all to be more grateful for the neighbor who beat the sh*t out of Rand Paul.”

Midler is, of course, referring to the attack on Paul by his neighbor. Paul suffered six broken ribs, damage to his lungs, and two bouts of pneumonia as a result of the attack on him. Paul described the recovery as a “living hell.”

This attack and the celebration of it is just one more example of why the left shouldn’t be taken seriously when it begins hyperventilating about “violence” from the right. Between the promotion of attacks, actual attacks, and groups like Antifa that actually promote further violence, the left has no room to talk.

This is actually the second time Midler has celebrated the violence against Rand Paul. The first was in February of last year when she asked where Paul’s neighbor was after he filibustered the Senate to stop Republicans from raising spending caps.

She’s not the only celebrity that celebrated Paul’s attack. Tom Arnold has also tweeted his approval of the violence Paul suffered, and his tweet was retweeted by Rep. Ilhan Omar.

(READ: Ilhan Omar Reaches New Lows, Retweets Tweet Celebrating The Attack On Rand Paul)

The post Once Again, the Left Promotes Violence Toward the Right, This Time Against Rand Paul appeared first on RedState.

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Breaking: Trump defends Syria withdrawal, announces Turk-Kurd permanent ceasefire agreement

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It’s too early for congratulations, Donald Trump admits, but his presser this morning definitely had the look of a victory lap. Trump announced that the temporary cease-fire between Turkey and the Kurdish forces in Syria has now been made permanent in a new agreement. Trump insisted that his decision to abruptly withdraw from the contested border areas created the opening for potential peace in the region.

“This was an outcome created by us, the United States, and nobody else. No other nation,” Trump claimed, while blaming the countries in the region for involving us in their “ancient tribal conflicts.” Declaring that his course will always be “victory for America,” Trump said that he would ensure that American troops would only be deployed in the future in service to a “vital national interest,” and only when a path to victory is clearly defined:

Even if the ceasefire collapses, Trump noted, we won’t come back. “Let someone else fight over this long-bloodstained sand,” Trump declared, and called on other nations to do their part in policing peace. That has its own implications for the region; which nations will fill the vacuum left behind the US withdrawal? Do we really want Iran and/or Russia becoming the policeman in the region? Saudi Arabia already has enough of Iran playing policeman in Yemen and parts of Syria, and Jordan and Israel won’t much care for that idea either.

However, this is entirely consistent with Trump’s election campaign rhetoric. In fact, this speech sounded almost like a sequel to his 2016 agenda, with claims of progress and determination to get the rest of it accomplished. Clearly the criticism from both sides of the aisle over his Syria withdrawal has not dented Trump’s resolve to see through his disengagement policies; it sounds more like he’s doubling down and hoping to accelerate the process.

The government in Afghanistan is no doubt getting more nervous after this speech, and they should be. Whether the government in Ankara is at all nervous about Trump’s threat of economic war as a consequence of violating the ceasefire remains to be seen, but I doubt the Kurds are anywhere near as grateful as Trump claimed.

Update: Here are Trump’s full remarks, but you need to skip to the -26:00 mark to get to them.

The post Breaking: Trump defends Syria withdrawal, announces Turk-Kurd permanent ceasefire agreement 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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