Editorial | Trump Just Created a Moral and Strategic Disaster – The New York Times

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CreditCreditIllustration by Nicholas Konrad; photograph by Doug Mills/The New York Times

“The roughly 1,000 American troops stationed in Syria find themselves in an impossible situation, by order of their commander in chief. They are now caught between the Syrian forces of President Bashar al-Assad, an unrepentant war criminal who has used poison gas against his own people, and the Turkish military — a NATO ally — which has already rained down artillery shells near positions held by American soldiers.

When Donald Trump won the presidency on a promise to end “endless wars,” it was always unspoken that doing so would mean to some extent abandoning allies, like the Kurdish forces that helped devastate the Islamic State, or the Afghan government in Kabul. But surely putting America first never meant leaving American soldiers behind. The Times reported Monday that removing the American troops from Syria may require an airlift, a move that may also be needed to relocate the estimated 50 American tactical nuclear weapons housed at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.

Dozens of civilians and combatants were killed in fighting, according to the BBC, when Turkey struck south into Kurdish-held areas of Syria over the weekend, an operation that was greenlit by the White House. Islamic State fighters and their family members, who had been held in a detention camp by Kurdish forces, have scattered to the winds, The Times reports. The Kurds, under fire from Turkish forces, quickly allied with the Syrian government, which sent its own Russian-backed army north.

One thousand decisions led the United States to find itself refereeing the border between Syria and Turkey, but only one decision — made abruptly just over a week ago by President Trump after a phone call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey — led to the chaos and bloodletting that has gushed across the region in the past few days.”

Pullback Leaves Green Berets Feeling ‘Ashamed,’ and Kurdish Allies Describing ‘Betrayal’ – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — American commandos were working alongside Kurdish forces at an outpost in eastern Syria last year when they were attacked by columns of Syrian government tanks and hundreds of troops, including Russian mercenaries. In the next hours, the Americans threw the Pentagon’s arsenal at them, including B-52 strategic bombers. The attack was stopped.

That operation, in the middle of the American-led campaign against the Islamic State in Syria, showed the extent to which the United States military was willing to protect the Syrian Kurds, its main ally on the ground.

But now, with the White House revoking protection for these Kurdish fighters, some of the Special Forces officers who battled alongside the Kurds say they feel deep remorse at orders to abandon their allies.

“They trusted us and we broke that trust,” one Army officer who has worked alongside the Kurds in northern Syria said last week in a telephone interview. “It’s a stain on the American conscience.”

Jamal Khashoggi: What the Arab world needs most is free expression – The Washington Post

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By Jamal Khashoggi
October 17 at 7:52 PM
A note from Karen Attiah, Global Opinions editor

I received this column from Jamal Khashoggi’s translator and assistant the day after Jamal was reported missing in Istanbul. The Post held off publishing it because we hoped Jamal would come back to us so that he and I could edit it together. Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen. This is the last piece of his I will edit for The Post. This column perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world. A freedom he apparently gave his life for. I will be forever grateful he chose The Post as his final journalistic home one year ago and gave us the chance to work together.

I was recently online looking at the 2018 “Freedom in the World” report published by Freedom House and came to a grave realization. There is only one country in the Arab world that has been classified as “free.” That nation is Tunisia. Jordan, Morocco and Kuwait come second, with a classification of “partly free.” The rest of the countries in the Arab world are classified as “not free.”

As a result, Arabs living in these countries are either uninformed or misinformed. They are unable to adequately address, much less publicly discuss, matters that affect the region and their day-to-day lives. A state-run narrative dominates the public psyche, and while many do not believe it, a large majority of the population falls victim to this false narrative. Sadly, this situation is unlikely to change.

via Jamal Khashoggi: What the Arab world needs most is free expression – The Washington Post

We Fought for Our Democracy. Now Turkey Wants to Destroy It. – By NUJIN DERIK – NYT

“AFRIN, Syria — For more than a week, my home in northwestern Syria has been under a full-scale assault by the Turkish Army and thousands of Turkish-aligned Islamist jihadists.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been threatening this invasion for a very long time. The Turkish Army has been targeting our villages with mortars and artillery for many months now.

I and my fellow members of the Kurdish Women’s and People’s Protection Units, often known as the Y.P.J. and Y.P.G., have fought hard for years to keep the Islamic State out of this autonomous region of Syria known as Rojava. We endured Turkey’s barrages and avoided returning fire, even after civilian casualties, so as not to provide a pretext for this invasion.

But Mr. Erdogan has nevertheless unleashed airstrikes, tanks and troops on this area that was once a relative island of peace in this war-torn country.

One would imagine the international community and especially the United States, which has been more than happy to partner with us in the fight against the Islamic State, would firmly oppose such an unprovoked attack executed in the name of racial hatred — Mr. Erdogan has stated his intention to commit ethnic cleansing of Afrin’s Kurdish population, or, as he says, to give the region to its “real owners” — but instead, it has been greeted largely with silence, and therefore tacitly condoned.”

via We Fought for Our Democracy. Now Turkey Wants to Destroy It. – The New York Times

The US should protect our major ally in the region, who has done the bulk of our fighting.

Turkey’s Great Purge, by Mustafa Akyol – The New York Times

“ISTANBUL — More than a month has passed since the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey. Most people here are glad we averted a major attack on our democracy, which could have initiated not only a brutal military regime but maybe even a civil war. Many people outside Turkey, on the other hand, seem more worried about the failed coup’s aftermath than the bloody putsch itself, which left more than 250 people dead.

What really seems to worry people, especially in the West, is the purge that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government began after the mutiny. The numbers are staggering: 80,000 civil servants have been suspended from their jobs, more than 2,000 of them judges or prosecutors. Meanwhile, more than 20,000 people have been arrested. The justice minister announced earlier this month that some 38,000 inmates would be released to free up space in Turkey’s prisons.To some, these numbers conjure memories of dark episodes of the past century: Stalin’s infamous Great Purge of dissidents in the 1930s or Hitler’s use of the Reichstag Fire to crack down on Communists.

But Turkey’s situation is too complicated for such historical comparisons. For example, Mr. Erdogan’s main political rival, the secularist Republican People’s Party, or C.H.P., agrees with the president that the state should be cleansed of people who backed the coup attempt. In the days after July 15, the C.H.P. leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, visited Mr. Erdogan at his presidential place for the first time. The two rivals even spoke together at an anti-coup rally attended by millions.”

Source: Turkey’s Great Purge – The New York Times

Ahmet Davutoglu Says He’ll Step Down as Turkey’s Prime Minister – The New York Times

“ISTANBUL — Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, a pivotal ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announced his resignation on Thursday. The move occurred amid a disagreement between the two men over Mr. Erdogan’s drive for more power, highlighting concerns over Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian turn under Mr. Erdogan.”

Source: Ahmet Davutoglu Says He’ll Step Down as Turkey’s Prime Minister – The New York Times

Sending the Wrong Signal to Turkey – The New York Times

“The choice Angela Merkel had when Turkey’s imperious president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, demanded that Germany prosecute a comedian was a variation on the dilemma posed by a kidnapper: Paying the ransom solves the immediate problem but sets a dangerous precedent.Chancellor Merkel had to decide between appeasing Mr. Erdogan’s outrageous demand or potentially losing a deal with Turkey that promised some relief from the refugee crisis. Under the agreement between the European Union and Turkey, Ankara has agreed to accept refugees turned back from Greece in exchange for more aid and reopening talks on Turkey’s accession to the E.U.Ms. Merkel allowed the case to proceed. Now the question is what Mr. Erdogan — or some other miffed potentate — will demand next.”

Source: Sending the Wrong Signal to Turkey – The New York Times

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Despotic Zeal – The New York Times

“Istanbul — THE virtual control he already has of a majority of Turkey’s newspapers and TV stations apparently isn’t enough for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. On Friday, with the zeal of its despotic leader, his government seized my paper, Today’s Zaman, and its parent, the Turkish-language Zaman, which is the highest-circulating daily in the country. Together, these titles were two of the few remaining independent voices inside Turkey — and Today’s Zaman, in particular, was a reliable English-language news source for diplomats, academics and expatriates.From Our AdvertisersOn Friday, a government-controlled court appointed trustees to take over the newspapers in what amounts to a politically motivated assault. At midnight, protesters faced tear gas and water cannons as riot police stormed our Istanbul headquarters.Continue reading the main storyRelated in Opinion Editorial: Democracy’s Disintegration in TurkeyMARCH 7, 2016The authorities used power tools to force open the iron gate to the building. The following day, our Internet connection was cut off to stop staff members from working on a special edition about the takeover. Since then, the authorities have been unplugging the newspapers’ servers, destroying our digital archive.”

Source: Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Despotic Zeal – The New York Times

I think we should get tough with Turkey’s Erdogan. I have no idea how yet. I am fine with others going to war with him. I support an EU military invasion of Turkey to overthrow the new dictator, and establish Kurdistan. Kurdistan oil and gas revenues could help pay for the war.

On a more serious note, the EU should use Erdogan’s apparent desire to join the EU as the carrot to require his retrenchment from dictatorship, the release of political prisoners, the reopening of a free press, and some form of autonomy for the Kurds. Unfortunately, the control Turkey has over the flow of refugees into Europe from Syria and other countries in distress gives him the upper hand. The Europeans might have to actually act like a Union, but their choices are limited. Could they pay Greece to house and feed several million refugees? Given the corruption in Greece, it might be cheaper for then to invade Turkey, and nation build.

Putin’s Syrian Misadventure – Tom Friedman, The New York Times

“And the ISIS threat is becoming strategic. The massive outflow of refugees from Syria and Iraq that ISIS has provoked is leading the European Union to start to close internal borders and limit the free flow of people and probably some goods as well — just the opposite of what the bloc was created to do. That will only slow the E.U.’s economic growth and fuel greater nationalism that could ultimately threaten its unity. The E.U. is America’s most important partner in managing the global system. If it is weakened, we are weakened.”

Source: Putin’s Syrian Misadventure – The New York Times

Is Vladimir Putin right to label Turkey ‘accomplices of terrorists’? | World news | The Guardian

“Since the earliest months of the Syrian war, Turkey has had more direct involvement and more at stake than any of the regional states lined up against Bashar al-Assad.Turkish borders have been the primary thoroughfare for fighters of all kinds to enter Syria. Its military bases have been used to distribute weapons and to train rebel fighters. And its frontier towns and villages have taken in almost one million refugees.Turkey’s international airports have also been busy. Many, if not most, of the estimated 15,000-20,000 foreign fighters to have joined Islamic State (Isis) have first flown into Istanbul or Adana, or arrived by ferry along its Mediterranean coast.”

Source: Is Vladimir Putin right to label Turkey ‘accomplices of terrorists’? | World news | The Guardian