US Now Admits Syrian “Rebels” Have Used Chemical Weapons

From the first moment chemical weapons were used on the Syrian battlefield, the American public was led to believe that only one side could possibly be responsible. The constant refrain in the echo chamber of US government officials and the mainstream media was that only the Assad government possessed chemical stockpiles and the technological capability of deploying such heinous weapons, therefore blame for each and every chemical attack from Ghouta to Khan Sheikhoun was laid at the feet of Assad and the Syrian military.
And yet last Wednesday, for the first time, the US State Department casually dropped an important admission into its officialSyria travel warning for American citizens: that the core rebel group currently operating in northwest Syria not only possesses but has used chemical weapons – to the point that the State Department considers it a major enough threat to publicly warn citizens about.
The armed opposition group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), is referenced early in the document: “Terrorist and other violent extremist groups including ISIS and Al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham [dominated by Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Al-Nusra, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization], operate in Syria.’ HTS is the group now holding Idlib province, which it captured in 2015 as part of a coalition of armed groups given direct support from a US-led operations room in southern Turkey – this according to prominent pro-opposition analyst Charles Lister.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 22, 2017.

Syrian Government Condemns Turkish Military Invasion of Idlib Province

21st Century Wire says…
Turkish troops have been entering northwest Syria for the last few days. Some reports have detailed the apparent compliance of Tahrir Al Sham terrorists with this maneuver by the Turkish military. HTS is a rebrand of Nusra Front aka Al Qaeda in Syria and the group controls the majority of Idlib province.
al-Qaeda's Syria branch (HTS) escorts a group of Turkish troops as they enter Idlib via Atma border crossing. Looks like Turkey-AQ has a deal pic.twitter.com/pNgo8RUfvm
— Ersin Satlyck (@e_sklt) October 8, 2017

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on OCTOBER 14, 2017.

The Underlying Reasons For Turkey’s Disengagement From The US

Authored by Dmitiry Minin via The Strategic Culture Foundation,
The Turkish media is reporting that a staffer at the American consulate general in Istanbul was recently arrested under the serious charge of attempting the ‘destruction of the constitutional order,’ ‘espionage,’ and seeking ‘to overthrow the government.’
To be specific, ties have been uncovered between the man under arrest and some prominent members of Fethullah Glen’s movement (FET), which is banned in Turkey. Previous accusations had been made against General Joseph Votel, the commander of US CENTCOM and an expert in covert operations, alleging that he had cooperated with the conspirators who attempted a military coup in Turkey in July 2016.
And this is only the tip of a very cold and growing iceberg that has gradually been disrupting the relationship between these formerly close allies – the US and Turkey. Not even President Erdo?an’s visit to the US this year could buck these trends.
Observing that relations between the two countries have been deteriorating for more than a decade, US columnists, for example – Tom Rogan of the Washington Examiner – reflexively sum it all up as evidence of the deleterious influence of Vladimir Putin. In his assessment of the most recent meeting between the Russian and Turkish presidents in Ankara, that journalist points to the fact that Recep Erdo?an called Vladimir Putin ‘my dear friend’ and even ‘stroked his ego’ by speaking to him – horror of horrors! – ‘in Russian,’ as though that were a crime.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 13, 2017.

Turkish Lira Crashes 4%, Biggest Drop Since “Failed Coup” Following Visa Suspension Drama

With tensions between Turkey and the US escalating dramatically and unexpectedly in the past few days, when first Turkish police on Wednesday arrested a local employee of the US embassy in Istanbul and charged him with espionage and an attempt to overthrow the government, which was following on Sunday afternoon by the US embassy in Turkey announcing that “effective immediately” it has “suspended all non-immigrant visa services at all U. S. diplomatic facilities in Turkey”…
Statement from the U. S. Mission to Turkey pic.twitter.com/RjTU3BfSXZ
— US Embassy Turkey (@USEmbassyTurkey) October 8, 2017

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 8, 2017.

US Suspends All Non-Immigrant Visa Services In Turkey

Statement from the U. S. Mission to Turkey pic.twitter.com/RjTU3BfSXZ
— US Embassy Turkey (@USEmbassyTurkey) October 8, 2017

On Friday, we reported that in a move that looks suspiciously like retaliation, Turkish police on Wednesday arrested a local employee of the US embassy in Istanbul and charged him with espionage and trying to overthrow the government. The arrest stemmed from the man’s alleged support for Erdogan’s scapegoat for “fill-in-the-blank“, US-based Cleric Fettulah Gulen, who was blamed for 2016’s fake coup attempt and pretty much everything else that’s wrong in Turkey.
Predictably, the US government slammed the crackdown, with embassy officials telling the WSJ that ‘these allegations are wholly without merit” adding that ‘baseless, anonymous allegations against our employees undermine and devalue this longstanding partnership.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 8, 2017.

Iran, Iraq, And Turkey Unite To Block Kurdish Oil Exports

Authored by Zainab Calcuttawala via OilPrice.com,
Iraq, Iran, and Turkey are taking a unified stance against Kurdistan’s oil sector after the region elected to seek independence from Baghdad in a referendum in September, according to a new report by Rudaw.
‘In the case of northern Iraq; Iran, Iraq and Turkey will form a tripartite mechanism and will decide on shutting down the oil,’ Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after a meeting with leaders from the other two nations on Thursday.
A day before the vote, the Iraqi central government issued a statement calling on ‘neighboring countries and countries of the world’ to stop buying crude oil directly from Kurdistan and only deal with Baghdad.
Turkey’s Ceyhan port provides an outlet for the Kurdish Kirkuk oil to meet international markets without interference from Baghdad. Erdogan, Tehran and other members of the international community had censured Erbil for proceeding with the independence referendum as Iraq recovers from a three-year war against the Islamic State (ISIS). The Turkish leader had previously threatened to cut Kirkuk off from Ceyhan, but did not provide details on how such a measure would be carried out.
Russia’s oil majors side with Kurdistan in its quest for an independent fossil fuel establishment. Rosneft signed off on a $1 billion gas pipeline deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) a week prior to the historic vote, signaling Moscow’s approval of a hypothetically separate Kurdistan.
Both Iran and Turkey house sizeable Kurdish populations, so the referendum raises fears that Kurds from other nations may seek similar political solutions.
Kurdistan produces around 600,000 bpd of crude oil, or about 15 percent of Iraq’s total output. After the votes were counted, the KRG said that the ‘Yes’ to independence option won at the polls, with 92.73 percent of voters opting to grant Erbil its own regime.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 6, 2017.

Turkey Arrests US Embassy Employee

In a move that looks suspiciously like retaliation, Turkish police on Wednesday arrested a local employee of the US embassy in Istanbul and charged him with espionage and trying to overthrow the government, the Wall Street Journalreported, citing local media.
The arrest stemmed from the man’s alleged support for US-based Turkish Cleric Fettulah Gulen, a former ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who escaped to the US nearly two decades ago after he and Erdogan had a falling out. The president has accused Gulen of orchestrating last June’s attempted coup from his home in Pennsylvania, and his administration has relentlessly purged suspected supporters from nearly every institution in Turkish society.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 5, 2017.

Chris Hedges On The End Of Empire: “The Death Spiral Appears Unstoppable”

The American empire is coming to an end. The U. S. economy is being drained by wars in the Middle East and vast military expansion around the globe. It is burdened by growing deficits, along with the devastating effects of deindustrialization and global trade agreements. Our democracy has been captured and destroyed by corporations that steadily demand more tax cuts, more deregulation and impunity from prosecution for massive acts of financial fraud, all the while looting trillions from the U. S. treasury in the form of bailouts. The nation has lost the power and respect needed to induce allies in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa to do its bidding. Add to this the mounting destruction caused by climate change and you have a recipe for an emerging dystopia. Overseeing this descent at the highest levels of the federal and state governments is a motley collection of imbeciles, con artists, thieves, opportunists and warmongering generals. And to be clear, I am speaking about Democrats, too.
***
The empire will limp along, steadily losing influence until the dollar is dropped as the world’s reserve currency, plunging the United States into a crippling depression and instantly forcing a massive contraction of its military machine.
Short of a sudden and widespread popular revolt, which does not seem likely, the death spiral appears unstoppable, meaning the United States as we know it will no longer exist within a decade or, at most, two. The global vacuum we leave behind will be filled by China, already establishing itself as an economic and military juggernaut, or perhaps there will be a multipolar world carved up among Russia, China, India, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa and a few other states. Or maybe the void will be filled, as the historian Alfred W. McCoy writes in his book ‘In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power,’ by ‘a coalition of transnational corporations, multilateral military forces like NATO, and an international financial leadership self-selected at Davos and Bilderberg’ that will ‘forge a supranational nexus to supersede any nation or empire.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 3, 2017.

Erdogan Says Turkey No Longer Needs EU Membership, Son Slams European “Infidels”

Via KeepTalkingGreece.com,
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that Turkey no longer needs EU membership.
His son Bilal who plays an important role in Turkey’s politics went even further and described the Europeans as ‘gavur’ (indifels).
The comments come after 12-year-long accession talks with Brussels grind to a halt. ‘We will not be the side which gives up. To tell the truth, we don’t need EU membership anymore,’ Erdogan said. Turkey’s 12-year-long accession talks have ground to a halt, with the EU especially critical of Ankara’s crackdown following a failed coup last year. Tens of thousands of people including teachers and journalists have been detained.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 3, 2017.

Monarch Airlines Files For Insolvency: Britain’s Biggest-Ever Airline Collapse

We're sorry to announce that Monarch has suspended flights and holidays. Please check for further information. pic.twitter.com/CA6jdMLu1C
— Monarch (@Monarch) October 2, 2017

U. K. leisure carrier Monarch Airlines filed for insolvency on Monday, the biggest ever failure of a British airline, stranding tens of thousands of travellers overseas and prompting the country’s biggest-ever peacetime repatriation effort, as the government has to find a way to to arrange the return of 110,000 tourists, and marking the third failure of a major European operator in five months. Monarch cancelled about 300,000 future bookings and apologized to customers and staff as it became the UK’s largest carrier to go into administration, according to Reuters.
Monarch CEO Andrew Swaffield said the carrier had fallen victim to ‘outside influences,’ especially a flood of seating into its core Mediterranean markets after a spate of terrorist attacks prompted holiday companies to reduce their exposure to Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey. Attempts to sell the short-haul business prior to the insolvency filing failed, he added.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 2, 2017.

“This Is Fascism”: Shocking Footage Of Spanish Police Firing Rubber Bullets, Brutally Beating Peaceful Voters

In scenes one would expect to see in Turkey, or some token third-world dictatorship, on Sunday morning Spanish riot police violently cracked down on the scheduled Catalan independence referendum, smashing their way into polling stations in Catalonia in a dramatic quest to shut down the banned Catalan independence referendum, as they fired rubber bullets and brutally beat peaceful people trying to vote for or against independence from a Spanish government, which many commentators this morning have called “fascist.”
Images that Madrid has been fearing as police uses force to remove young and old from voting stations. @FT pic.twitter.com/F09fpak5FI
— Michael Stothard (@MStothard) October 1, 2017

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 1, 2017.

NATO Splinters: Germany Completes Withdrawal From Turkey’s Incirlik Airbase

Several months after an unprecedented collapse in relations between two NATO member states, on Thursday Germany’s military announced it has finished its withdrawal from Turkey’s strategic airbase Incirlik, which as a reminder was prompted by Ankara’s refusal to allow visits by German parliamentarians. Going forward, Bundeswehr planes will instead be based in Jordan.
As we reported at the time, in June Germany’s parliament, which ultimately decides on deployments, voted overwhelmingly to leave Incirlik amid a multifaceted dispute with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over his post-coup crackdown. As a “parliamentary army,” the Bundeswehr requires a vote of approval from Bundestag lawmakers for each foreign deployment and a parliamentary committee regularly evaluates Germany missions abroad.
As Deutsche Welle reports, Germany’s transfer of reconnaissance and refueling aircraft from Incirlik to Jordan’s al-Asrak airbase had been “an unprecedented, mammoth task” according to German contingent commander Stefan Kleinheyer said Wednesday.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 28, 2017.

Kurdish Vote Won’t Spark A Sustained Oil Price Rally

Authored by Nick Cunningham via OilPrice.com,
Turkey and Iraq have stepped up the pressure on Kurdistan after the semi-autonomous region of Iraq voted for independence. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to block Kurdish oil exports through Turkish territory, while Baghdad called for an international boycott of Kurdish oil sales.
The Kurdish people appeared to have voted overwhelmingly for independence on Monday, pending final results. But the Kurdish Regional Government has said that the vote, which won’t be recognized internationally, will be a starting point for negotiations with Baghdad, and not the culmination of real independence.
Turkey’s President called the referendum ‘illegal, null, and void,’ and threatened to shut down exports through the pipeline that runs from Kurdistan to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.
‘Let’s see where they are going to drain off the petrol – we control the valve,’ he said. ‘Once you turn off the valve, it will be over.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 28, 2017.

‘KURDISTAN’- Redrawing the Middle East or the ‘New Middle East’ Project

21st Century Wire says…
In the light of the recent, hotly contested Kurdish referendum in Iraq, we have decided to republish a series of articles that have been written previously, concerning the history and evolution of the bid for independence by the Kurdish factions seeking to carve Kurdistan from territory belonging to Iran, Turkey, Iraq and Syria.
The first of these articles was written by eminent specialist in Middle East affairs, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, for Global Research back in 2006:
Plans for Redrawing the Middle East: The Project for a ‘New Middle East’
‘Hegemony is as old as Mankind…’ -Zbigniew Brzezinski, former U. S. National Security Advisor
The term ‘New Middle East’ was introduced to the world in June 2006 in Tel Aviv by U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (who was credited by the Western media for coining the term) in replacement of the older and more imposing term, the ‘Greater Middle East.’
This shift in foreign policy phraseology coincided with the inauguration of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Oil Terminal in the Eastern Mediterranean. The term and conceptualization of the ‘New Middle East,’ was subsequently heralded by the U. S. Secretary of State and the Israeli Prime Minister at the height of the Anglo-American sponsored Israeli siege of Lebanon. Prime Minister Olmert and Secretary Rice had informed the international media that a project for a ‘New Middle East’ was being launched from Lebanon.
This announcement was a confirmation of an Anglo-American-Israeli ‘military roadmap’ in the Middle East. This project, which has been in the planning stages for several years, consists in creating an arc of instability, chaos, and violence extending from Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria to Iraq, the Persian Gulf, Iran, and the borders of NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan.

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on September 27, 2017.

Referendum Blues: The Issue of an Independent Kurdistan

Recep Tayyip Erdoan (aka the Prez) and his Justice and Development Party (or AKP) have been steering the state founded by Mustafa Kemal [Atatrk] (1881-1938) into distinctly Islamic waters for quite some time now… and as Turkey houses the largest percentage of Kurds in the region (14.7 million according to the CIA), solving Turkey’s Kurdish issue had been part and parcel of the AKP’s policy of Sunnification.
The Prez and his AKP henchmen had namely devised a plan to transform the country into a nation of believers, firmly dedicated to Sunni Islam and moving away from Turkish nationalism.
A Nation of Muslim Immigrants versus an independent Kurdistan
But the Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani now seems to have thrown a spanner in the works, as he told the international press in 2014 that ‘We [referring to the Kurdish population of Iraq living in the north of the country] will hold a referendum in [the KRG or Kurdish Regional Government] and we will respect and be bound by the decision of our people and hope that others will do likewise.’ In this way, one of Turkey’s deepest fears is finally about to become a reality now – the formation of an independent nation state called Kurdistan in the wake of a popular referendum to be held on Monday, 25 September 2017. Somewhat fortunate for Ankara, though, not quite on Turkish soil, but nevertheless directly adjacent to Turkey’s south-eastern region, which many Kurds as well as their sympathisers refer to as Northern Kurdistan these days. And thus, AKP-led Ankara is now up in arms as the rather natural expectation is that a so-called domino effect will take place and that Turkey’s Kurds might very well want to join their southern brethren in an independent nation state possessing underground hydrocarbon reserves or a coveted natural source of income, if you will.

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on SEPTEMBER 26, 2017 BY.

Brent Crude Spikes To Highest Since July 2015

North Korean war-talk has extended early gains for Brent Crude (driven by anxiety over the post-Kurd-referendum fallout), pushing prices to their highest since July 2015.
To the highest since July 2015…
As Bloomberg reports, Kurdish oil supplies may be in jeopardy as Turkey, Iran and the Iraqi central government in Baghdad sought to isolate the semi-autonomous Kurds as balloting began on Monday. Meanwhile, OPEC and its partners implemented more than 100 percent of their agreed cuts last month, OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said Friday in Vienna, providing more fuel to the oil rally.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 25, 2017.

Turkey, Iraq Threaten “Military Intervention” As Iraqi Kurds Hold Independence Referendum

One day after a “Nightmare Victory” for Angela Merkel in the German elections, which has unleashed a nationalist “earthquake” in the Bundestag, on Monday in another closely watched election, polls opened in Iraq’s Kurdish-run provinces and disputed territories as Iraqi Kurds cast ballots in support for independence from Baghdad in a historic but non-binding and furiously challenged vote.
Millions are expected to vote on Monday across the three provinces that make up the Kurdish autonomous region, as well as residents in disputed territories – areas claimed by both Baghdad and the Kurds, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.
The vote is being carried out despite mounting regional opposition to the move, including virtually every neighboring nation, except the odd stance by Israel whose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stunned the region when he commented specifically of the referendum on Sept 13 saying, “Israel supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to achieve their own state.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 25, 2017.

Iran Closes Airspace To Iraqi Kurdistan Ahead Of Historic Independence Vote

The diplomatic and economic noose is tightening around Iraqi Kurdistan one day ahead of its historic independence referendum. On Sunday, the Iranian government announced closure of its airspace to northern Iraq’s Sulaimani and Erbil Airports, at the request of Iraqi authorities. The Baghdad government has repeatedly threatened military intervention in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region should the vote proceed on Monday, which Baghdad warns could provoke invasion by neighboring states. The United States too has warned that the non-binding referendum will be ‘particularly provocative and destabilizing’ – this as Turkey musters tanks along its border with Iraqi Kurdistan.
On Sunday the Iranian Supreme Security Council announced through state media that, ‘At the request of the Iraqi central government, Iranian airspace has been closed on all flights that originate from Kurdistan Region.’ The move comes after a month’s worth of warnings that Iran could close its borders to Iraqi Kurdistan should the independence vote proceed. Iranian government officials had previously warned that, ‘The republic of Iran has opened its legitimate border gates on the premise of the consent of the federal government of the Iraqi state. If such an event [referendum] happens, these border gates from the perspective of the Islamic Republic of Iran would lose its legitimacy.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 24, 2017.

From Baghdad to Istanbul: How Iraqi Kurds Could End Up Under De facto Turkish Rule

21st Century Wire says…
After seven years of war in Syria, and three years of ISIS marauding through Iraq, one thing is for sure: Iraqi Kurdistan is not what it was five years ago – when its geopolitical chaperone in Washington was still militarily occupying Iraq, and with oil pegged above $100 per barrel and its capital Erbil was a booming economic powerhouse. Back then, unimpeded progress was the order of the day. Not so today.
Politically and economically, Iraqi Kurdistan is fractured, which opens the door for a number of issues yet to unfold after this week’s historic move for independence.
As writer Adam Garrie points out in this piece below, the referendum is only the first step. Afterwards, some very serious problems are likely to follow.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised heavy sanctions against parts of northern Iraq, should Kurdish secessionists go through with their threat to hold a referendum for ‘independence’ in two days time.

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on SEPTEMBER 24, 2017.

Turkey Faces Threats For Inking Landmark Arms Deal With Russia

The long awaited deal has taken place. A deposit has already been paid. Turkey has finally signed the $2.5bn (1.9bn) contract with Russia to buy S-400 advanced missile defense system. With a range of 400 kilometers (248 miles), the system can shoot down up to 80 targets simultaneously, aiming two missiles at each one, at an altitude of up to 30 km.
***
The system is not operationally compatible with the systems used by NATO countries, which gives Turkey a military capacity independent of the alliance. NATO commanders will not have control over it. The identification friend or foe (IFF) equipment won’t prevent Turkey from using it against NATO aircraft and missiles. Reaching full operational capability will require Russian personnel to be stationed in Turkey on advice, assistance and training missions.
The technology transfer component of the S-400 deal is especially important as it would allow Turkey to rapidly expand domestic defense industry with Russia’s help. Russia would supply two batteries and help Ankara build two more such systems. A few years ago, the US refused to let Turkey produce Patriot air defense systems on its soil and the deal was off.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 19, 2017.