Saturday, November 28, 2015

Putin-Hollande agree to fight IS


US fake "coalition" outmaneuvered;

Erdogan sabotage gambit fails;

Turkey exposed as ISIS collaborator;

Washington admits arming
Syrian Jihadis;

Syria Game-changer as Russia
deploys S-400 missile launchers; 

 France and Russia have agreed to exchange intelligence data on Islamic State and other terror groups in Syria to increase the effectiveness of their air campaigns in the country as Vladimir Putin met his French counterpart, Francois Hollande, in Moscow, Thursday.
“France is ready to work hand in hand with Russia to achieve a common goal of fighting terror groups and Islamic State in the first place,” Hollande said after the talks on Thursday evening. The two leaders have agreed that French and Russian airstrikes would be focused on Islamic State (IS, aka ISIS/ISIL) and other jihadist groups and facilities under their control.

“What we agreed, and this is important, is to strike only terrorists and Daesh (Islamic State) and to not strike forces that are fighting terrorism. We will exchange information about whom to hit and whom not to hit,” Hollande added.

The French and Russian leaders said they would seek improved coordination between their air forces on identifying and hitting specific targets, and insisted they would focus on cutting off ISIL’s main source of financing — contraband oil, exploited in refineries operating in territory controlled by ISIL. “We will exchange information on what can be hit, and what shouldn’t be hit,” Hollande said. “Everyone agrees we can win against terrorism only if we fight on the ground. The only army fighting ISIL on the ground is the Syrian army,” said Putin. The meeting of the two presidents was overshadowed by the downing of a Russian aircraft earlier this week by Turkish forces, but was treated by Putin as a Russian-Turkish matter. Hollande deemed the incident “regrettable” but used to underline his point that better coordination within an anti-ISIL coalition would help avoid such clashes.

Hollande and Putin also discussed Ukraine, where Russia’s support for the People's republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in the east of the country and the acession of Crimea to the Russian Federation triggered western economic sanctions last year. Hollande said the clear goal remained the implementation of the Minsk ceasefire agreement which Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine agreed on in October. The Putin-Hollande agreement was only possible because Hollande had earlier invoked the Lisbon Treaty EU solidarity clause instead of the NATO Article 5 solidarity clause. Invoking the NATO treaty would have given the US a leading role in events, something Paris was not willing to contemplate as it would have ruled out any cooperation from Moscow.

Erdogan's schemes unravel; 

Turkish President, Erdogan’s attempts to justify the shooting down of the Russian Su-24 on Tuesday last began to unravel almost immediately. On Wednesday he gave interviews to France 24 TV and CNN claiming that the Turkish Air Force couldn’t identify the aircraft they claimed was violating their airspace for 17 seconds. The logic of this was that Turkish pilots were a bunch of incompetents who, despite intensive NATO training, as with all NATO air forces, were unable to identify the profile of a Russian Su-24. Turkey’s claim that the SU-24 was in Turkey’s airspace for 17 seconds but only travelled 1.15 miles means that the SU-24 was flying at stall speed. Ludicrous. By shooting down a Russian aircraft and then rushing to NATO with demands for retaliation against Russia, Erdogan was deliberately trying to push the United States and European countries into a direct confrontation with Russia while also sabotaging Syrian peace talks in Vienna – all the better to advance his goal of violently ousting Assad from power. 

The conflicting versions of the flight path of the Russian Su-24 shot down by Turkey

By Thursday, with the agreement in Moscow between Putin and Hollande, Erdogan’s gambit was a train crash with immediate consequences.  Independent media in Turkey, the few that are left under Erdogan’s dictatorial regime, began to question the Government line.  Erdogan responded with arrests and charges of treason against journalists. A court on Thursday, on Government charges, ordered the arrest of Can Dundar, editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet newspaper, and senior editor Erdem Gul over the publication of footage purporting to show the state intelligence agency (MIT) helping send weapons to Syria. "Journalism is being put on trial with these arrests and the Turkish press is being intimidated," Utku Cakirozer, a deputy from the main opposition People's Republican Party (CHP) and Cumhuriyet's former top editor, told Reuters.

Some 2,000 people gathered in Istanbul, with some chanting "Murderer Erdogan" and accusing the ruling AK Party he founded of collaborating with Islamic State. Some demonstrators held up Friday's edition of Cumhuriyet, which carried the headline "Black day for the press". Cumhuriyet is a secular, left-wing newspaper that is critical of the government "All opposition press organisations that are abiding by the ethics of journalism and trying to do their journalism are under threat and under attack," Figen Yuksekdag, co-chairwoman of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, said at the protest. "This dark operation aimed at covering the crimes that those trucks carried and the crimes which are continuing to be committed will not be successful," she added.

The US State Department issued a critical statement Friday saying that:

 the United States "is troubled by the pre-trial arrest of senior editors of the respected Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet. “The investigation, criminal charges, and arrest raise serious concerns about the Turkish government’s commitment to the fundamental principle of media freedom. These events are only the latest in a series of judicial and law enforcement actions taken under questionable circumstances against Turkish media outlets critical of the government,” the statement said. The State Department calls on Turkish authorities to ensure that all individuals and organisations – including but not limited to the media – are free to voice a full range of opinions and criticism, in accordance with Turkey’s constitutional guarantees of media freedom and freedom of expression. This will ultimately strengthen Turkey’s democracy, it said.

Further undermining Erdogan's denials, a White House spoke admitted that the US has been supplying weapons, including US made TOW anti-tank missiles (seen in videos destroying a Russian helicopter sent to rescue the Su-24 pilots in the Turkmen mountains)  to Syrian jihadis and that the weapons were shipped through TurkeyTurkish prime minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu then confirmed that the weapons were shipped by Turkey “as we could not standby seeing our Turkmen brothers being slaughtered” but they obviously didn’t mind how many other Syrian people were being slaughtered by the Turkmen brothers. Distancing themselves further from Erdogan, EU/NATO have demanded that Turkey close off it's border with Syria and prevent any further traffic to or from IS controlled territory. 

In a related event today, A prominent Kurdish human rights lawyer,Tahir Elci, was shot dead while talking to media in Diyarbakir,  the Kurdish city in south-eastern Turkey.
"We do not want guns, clashes and operations here", Mr Elci was saying before being shot. "The moment the statement ended, the crowd was sprayed with bullets," a local official from the pro-Kurdish HDP party, Omer Tastan, told Reuters.

The US embassy in Ankara said it was "shocked" at Mr Elci's "tragic death", calling him a "a courageous defender of human rights". The incident sparked instant protests in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Diyarbakir. A crowd on Istanbul's central Istiklal Street chanted "We are all Tahir Elci" and "You can't kill us all," accusing the state of complicity in the attack. The crowd was attacked with tear-gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets by Turkish police who had assembled before the demonstration started indicating Government foreknowledge of the assassination. Ankara is claiming that Mr Elci was killed in a PKK attack while opponents blamed Turkish nationalists, talking of a "planned assassination”. The situation in Turkey continues to deteriorate as Erdogan becomes even more paranoid and aggressive.

Game-changer in Syria, Russia deploys S-400 SAM missiles:


S-400 "Triumph" is an anti-aircraft missile system which is also a large and medium-range air defense missile system of a new generation. It is designed to destroy air and space attacks. This anti-aircraft missile system can simultaneously attack up to 36 objectives, launching 72 missiles in total. S-400 "Triumph" was put into service in April 2007.This is a blunt warning to Turkey and anyone else that Syrian airspace will be defended against all-comers, Turkmen brothers included.

On Wednesday, after the rescue by Syrian Commandos of the surviving Russian Su-24
pilot, the Syrian Arab Army launched a massive artillery and missile assault on the Turkmen brothers mountain locations destroying dozens of campsites and arsenals supplied by the US and Turkey. On Friday, with Russian airpower support, the SAR continued with another devastating assault against the jihadis, described by Washington as "moderate opposition". Fact is, there is no such thing as "moderate opposition" in Syria. All the anti-government groups, despite faction fights between them over weapons supplies, follow the same inhuman ideology as the IS bandits. The only ones actually fighting them on the ground is the Syrian Arab Army in defence of the Syrian secular state and its non-muslim minorities.

 Also Friday, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, signed a decree imposing sanctions on Turkey:

a) Ban on or limitation of foreign economic operations envisaging the import to the territory of the Russian Federation of certain goods originating from the Turkish Republic as listed by the Russian Federation Government (except for goods imported for personal use in amounts established by Eurasian Economic Union regulations);

b) Ban on or limitation of certain types of work (services) rendered on the territory of Russia by organisations under the jurisdiction of the Turkish Republic in line with a list established by the Russian Federation Government;
c) Ban for employers, contractors of work (services) not listed by the Russian Federation Government to employ as of January 1, 2016, citizens of the Turkish Republic who are not bound by employment and/or legal civil contracts with the said employers on December 31, 2015.

The President has also resolved as of January 1, 2016, pursuant to Federal Law On International Agreements of the Russian Federation of July 15, 1995 and item 1, Article 10 of the Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Turkish Republic on terms of mutual visits by citizens of Russia and Turkey of May 12, 2010, to suspend the said Agreement with regard to trips by citizens of Turkey in possession of ordinary foreign passports, with the exception of those citizens of Turkey who have temporary or permanent residence permits on the territory of Russia, as well as those citizens of Turkey who have been assigned to diplomatic representations and consulates of the Turkish Republic on the territory of Russia, who hold valid service and special passports, and their family members.

The Russian Federation Foreign Ministry is to notify the Turkish Republic in line with the established procedure of the partial suspension of the aforesaid Agreement. The Executive Order also states that travel agents and operators are to suspend the sale to Russian citizens of products that envisage visiting the territory of the Turkish Republic.

Relevant instructions have been issued to the Russian Federation Government:
The Government has also been issued instructions to take measures to introduce a ban on charter flights between Russia and Turkey; to enhance control over the activity of Turkish trucking companies on the Russian territory to ensure security; to enhance control at ports and ensure the transportation safety of Russian seaports in the Azov-Black Sea area, including the prevention of the illegal presence and movement of marine and other vessels within the waters of Russian seaports. The Government was also given instructions to submit proposals, if necessary, regarding changes to the duration or nature of the special economic and other measures envisaged by the Executive Order. The Executive Order comes into effect on the day of its official publication and remains in effect until the special economic and other measures established thereunder are cancelled.

Looks like Moscow will be having cooked Turkey for Christmas.