Turkey holding out for 20-mile Syrian safe zone, will not hesitate to launch operation – defence minister  13 Aug 2019



Turkey is holding out for a northern Syrian safe zone of between 30 and 40 km in depth and will not hesitate to take unilateral action if the United States fails to meet its demand, Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency quoted Defence Minister Hulusi Akar saying on Monday.

Turkish and U.S. officials agreed on preliminary plans for the safe zone last week, after months of simmering tensions on Turkey’s border with Syria.

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by Soner Cagaptay and Deniz Yuksel  – PolicyWatch 3162 – August 12, 2019 – This year’s Istanbul election and last year’s move to a presidential system have unified and galvanized the opposition, raising questions about Erdogan’s next move.

Ever since the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) suffered a rout in Istanbul’s June 23 mayoral race, Turkey has witnessed a rise in anti-government protests, mostly focusing on environmental issues. The wave of demonstrations—the country’s largest since the 2013 Gezi Park rallies—suggests a newfound vitality among the opposition, with potentially deep implications for Turkey’s democracy.


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Ableistische Hassrede : Greta Thunberg als seelenloser Cyborg



  • Von Novina Göhlsdorf  – FAZ  – -Aktualisiert am 12.08.2019-11:16

Wenn Philosophen hassen: Der Franzose Michel Onfray mag Greta Thunberg nicht. Das sagt er aber nicht so. Er probierte es lieber mit der Pathologisierung der jungen Schwedin. Ein Gastbeitrag.

Der französische Philosoph Michel Onfray möchte aufklären. Nachdem Greta Thunberg am 23. Juli eine Ansprache vor dem Parlament in Paris gehalten hat, gab er in einem ausschweifenden Essay auf seiner Webseite bekannt: Thunberg sei weder Mensch noch Mädchen. Sie sei ein Maschinenwesen, mit „Gesicht, Alter, Geschlecht und Körper eines Cyborg“.

Onfray irrlichtert in seinem Text gegen so Einiges. Gegen den Einfall, dass die Erderwärmung von Menschen verursacht sei. Gegen die Umweltbewegung („grüner Kapitalismus“). Gegen die Wissenschaft, auf die Thunberg sich beruft („technokratisch“). Gegen den blinden Aufstand der ungebildeten Jugend („Schafe“). Gegen jene „progressiven“ Erwachsenen, die ein Geschöpf wie Thunberg erst hervorgebracht hätten. Aber Onfrays wichtigste Botschaft lautet: Mit Greta Thunberg werde ein neuer Jungfrauen-Typus verehrt, der nichts Menschliches oder wenigstens Weibliches habe.

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Kurds and Arabs in Northeast Syria: Power Struggle or Power Sharing?


Stabilizing and rebuilding the diverse and complex region of northeastern Syria may prove even more difficult than defeating ISIS.

by Amy Austin Holmes Wladimir van Wilgenburg THE NATIONAL INTEREST  11 Aug 2019

The victory of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) over the Islamic State caliphate in March has left the SDF in effective control of one-third of Syria. Encompassing 20,698 square miles of northern and eastern Syria, it is a large terrain about the size of West Virginia, or three times the size of Kuwait. Some five million people live there, including Arabs, Kurds, Syriac-Assyrian-Chaldean Christians, as well as Yazidis and Turkmen. Stabilizing and rebuilding this diverse and complex region may prove even more difficult than defeating ISIS.

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  • In late July, the Commander of the Qods Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Qasem Soleimani, visited the Albu Kamal crossing connecting Syria and Iraq and met with commanders of pro-Iranian militias in the region. Meanwhile, a pro-opposition Syrian website published a report regarding a meeting in Albu Kamal of military delegations from Syria and Iraq, in the presence of senior Iranian security officials, as part of the preparations to open the new border crossing between Syria and Iraq. These reports follow recently published reports on ongoing preparation for the re-opening of the crossing, which is seen by Iran as strategically important.
  • In the economic sphere, Iran is preparing to participate in the international fair set to be held in Damascus soon. The Syrian ambassador to Tehran invited Iranian companies to participate in the fair and promised incentives to companies that will play a role in the reconstruction of his country. Meanwhile, the chairman of the committee for expanding economic ties between Iran, Syria and Iraq declared that Syria’s reconstruction provides a good opportunity for Iranian firms to export technical and engineering services to it. At the same time, Iran and Iraq signed an agreement to expand commercial ties between them, and also concluded a deal on establishing joint investment funds.
  • In early August, a delegation of high-ranking commanders of the Iraqi Shi’ite pro-Iranian militia, Harakat al-Nujaba’, visited Iran. In meetings with Iranian officials, the members of the delegation underscored their commitment to the Islamic Republic under the leadership of Khamenei, and threatened to act against American interests in Iraq, in light of the ongoing escalation between Iran and the United States.
  • Recent reports about the visit of the Hamas delegation to Tehran at the end of July indicate that during the visit, the representatives of Iran and Hamas agreed to expand cooperation between them. These reports indicate that Iran promised Hamas to advocate on its behalf with the Syrian regime, to allow Hamas’ leadership to return to Damascus and improve relations between the Palestinian faction and the Syrian leadership, after the rift emerged between the two sides following the outbreak of the civil war in Syria.
Iranian Involvement in Syria
  • Syrian and Turkish sources reported that the Commander of the IRGC’s Qods Force, Qasem Soleimani, visited the area adjacent to the Albu Kamal crossing connecting Syria and Iraq on July 25, and met with pro-Iranian militias operation in the region. According to these reports, during his visit, Soleimani met with IRGC commanders stationed in Albu Kamal, toured the city and the border crossing, and called for speeding up its re-opening. In addition, Soleimani spoke to members of the pro-Iranian militias, including Syrian fighters operating with the groups, and told them that they must be prepared for a possible military confrontation between Iran and the United States (DeirEzzor24, July 29; the Turkish Anadolu Agency, July 27). Soon after, the Telegram channel of the Afghan Fatimiyoun Brigade, a militia that operates under the control of the IRGC, published (July 29) Soleimani’s photo along with fighters of the militia. It is unclear when the photo was taken, but it is possible that the meeting between Soleimani with the Fatimiyoun fighters took place in his last visit to Syria.
  • Meanwhile, a Syrian pro-opposition news website reported, based on sources in Deir Ezzor, about a meeting that took place on August 5 between military delegations from Syria and Iraq, in the presence of senior Iranian security officials; the focus of the meeting was the re-opening of the Syrian and Iraqi border crossing. According to the report, the delegations reached an understanding concerning the establishment of joint military points, deploying customs and civilian police, and the presence of Iranian security forces in the border crossing (DeirEzzor24, August 6).
  • Recently, Iraqi, Syrian and Lebanese media reported that preparations are underway to open the new border crossing between Syria and Iraq in Albu Kamal. As part of the preparations, senior officers from Syria, Iraq and Iran met in Damascus for security coordination. The Albu Kamal border crossing is seen by Iran as strategically important, since it is an essential area in the ground line of supply that Iran seeks to establish, stretching from its territory to the Mediterranean. The upgraded border crossing, once opened, will allow for the movement of a larger number of vehicles, compared to the past capacity of the crossing. The location of the crossing, far from civilian areas, will provide a level of clandestineness to the operation of the crossing. Therefore, it is likely that the construction of the new crossing is being carried out with Iranian assistance and possibly direct involvement. In addition, Iran is assisting in securing the area between al-Qaim (in Iraq) and Albu Kamal through Shi’ite militias operating under its guidance stationed in the region.
  • The Syrian Ambassador to Tehran, Adnan Hassan Mahmoud, invited Iranian companies to participate in the Damascus international fair, set to take place in a few months. During a visit to the Iran International Exhibitions Company (IIEC), the Syrian ambassador called on Iranian firms to invest in the reconstruction of his country, adding that Syria will provide special incentives to Iranian firms operating in the country. The ambassador further remarked that the economic sanctions against Iran are providing an opportunity to expand cooperation between Iran and Syria. The Executive Director of the IIEC, Bahman Hosseinzadeh, reported that the company will assist private Iranian businesses that will participate in the international fair in Syria (Tasnim, July 31).
  • Meanwhile, Hassan Danaeifar, the Chairman of the committee for expanding economic ties between Iran, Syria and Iraq, stated that Syria’s reconstruction is providing a good opportunity to Iranian companies and the private sector to export technical and engineering services. He added that Iran is willing to cooperate with Syria in all economic and industrial spheres, and that Iranian private companies will not invest funds in Syria, but carry out projects there (Mehr, August 6).
  • The Senior Adviser to the Syrian President, Bouthaina Shaaban, labeled the relationship between Syria and Iran “historic and strategic.” In a speech at a Tartous cultural center, Shaaban declared that the strategic relationship between the two countries since the Islamic Revolution will never be affected by those assailing Iran for the benefit of Israel and the Zionists (Fars, August 5).
Iranian Involvement in Iraq
  • In late July, Iraq and Iran signed an agreement to expand economic cooperation between them. The Iranian Trade Attaché in Baghdad, Naser Behzad, told the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) that the agreement was signed during the visit to Iraq of a delegation headed by the chairman of the Iranian Organization for Trade Development. As part of the agreement, the two countries will establish a joint industrial city, facilitate the travel of businesspeople between the two countries, increase the frequency of Iranian trade fairs in Iraq and remove bureaucratic hurdles impeding the export of Iranian goods to Iraq. In addition, the two countries agreed to establish joint investment funds (IRNA, July 29-30). The Executive Director of the Joint Iranian-Iraqi Chamber of Commerce, Seyyed Hamid Hosseini, recently assessed that Iranian companies will take part in reconstruction projects in Iraq worth up to 300 billion dollars. 25% of the projects are the field of construction and housing (Tasnim, July 31).
  • In early August, a delegation of the Iraqi Shi’ite pro-Iranian militia, Harakat al-Nujaba’, arrived for a visit in Iran. The delegation was headed by Nasr al-Shammari, the Deputy Secretary General and Spokesman of Harakat al-Nujaba’. The delegation met with senior Iranian government officials and clerics and too part in a conference focusing on U.S. presence in western Asia, held in Tehran with participation of representatives from several Arab countries.
  • On August 3, the members of the delegation met with the senior cleric, Ayatollah Alireza Arafi, the director of religious seminaries in the city of Qom. The next day, the delegation met with the Chairman of the Majlis Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy, Mojtaba Zolnour. The head of the delegation reiterated the commitment of Harakat al-Nujaba’ to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei. He vowed that if the U.S. Congress passes a bill sanctioning every Iraqi who support Iran, the Iraqi resistance groups will cut the ties between Baghdad and Washington and expel the American ambassador from Baghdad (Tasnim, August 4).
  • In addition, the delegation met with the Senior Military Adviser to the Supreme Leader, Yahya Rahim Safavi; with the member of the Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili; and with the Secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council, Mohsen Rezaei. Safavi told members of the delegation that is crucial to amend the Iraqi constitution to recognize the Popular Mobilization Units (the umbrella of the largely Shi’ite militias operating in the country). He remarked that Iraq and Iran complement each other in terms of culture, economy and security and that safeguarding Iraq is akin to protecting Iraq, and safeguarding Baghdad is akin to protecting Tehran. He added that the Zionists fear that Iran and Iraq will join forces, and are trying to create fissures between the Iraqis and the Kurds. The head of the al-Nujaba’ delegation provided an update in the meeting about the presence of the Shi’ite militias in the Albu Kamal region on the Syria-Iraq border, stating that al-Nujaba’ fighters are carrying out intelligence and operational monitoring of the area, and also keep track of bases used by U.S. forces in Iraq (Tasnim. August 4).
  • On August 5, the Iranian Ambassador to Baghdad, Iraj Masjedi, met with the Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Mohammed al-Halbousi, and discussed bilateral relations between the two nations and developments in the region. The two also discussed the upcoming trip of the Speaker of the Iranian Majlis, Ali Larijani, to Baghdad. In late July 2019, Ambassador Masjedi met with the Iraqi Minister of Transportation, Abdullah Luaibi, and discussed preparations ahead of the Arabeen ceremonies, which involve pilgrimage to the Shi’ite holy sites in Iraq, set to be held in October 2019, forty days after the fast of Asuhra’. The two officials agreed to form a joint committee that will make the necessary arrangements to facilitate the arrival of the Iranian pilgrims (Fars, August 5).
Iranian Involvement in the Palestinian Arena
  • Israeli Channel 12 reported based on an Arab source (August 6), that during the visit of the Hamas delegation headed by Salah al-‘Arouri in Tehran in late July, Iran asked the Palestinian faction for intelligence on the location of missile depots of the IDF, and agreed to increase the support provided to Hamas to $30 million per month. The report also claimed that members of the Hamas delegation asked Iran to assist it in mediating with the Syrian regime. We have no way to assess the credibility of the report.
  • Meanwhile, former Iranian diplomat, Amir Mousavi, who heads the Tehran Center for Strategic Research, commented on the visit of the Hamas delegation to Tehran, stating that Iran is seeing to establish a military front countering Israel uniting Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian organizations in the Gaza Strip, in case of future conflict. In an interview to the newspaper Filasteen Al-Youm (July 30), Mousavi remarked that the visit of the Hamas delegation to Tehran was successful and that Iran has initiated a mediation effort vis-à-vis the Syrian leadership to reconcile Hamas and Damascus and allow the organization to re-establish its official presence in Syria.

Turkey, Russia signed secret deal on Idlib that allowed military offensive against Kurds

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : #Turkey has become a convenient proxy power for #Russia and for #Assad and #Iran for that matter.

Nordic Monitor 10 August 2019 –  Ankara and Moscow signed a secret agreement allowing militia supported by Turkey to attack US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria in exchange for Turkey abandoning Idlib, a senior opposition lawmaker in the Turkish parliament has claimed.

According to a parliamentary question, a copy of which was obtained by Nordic Monitor, Ünal Çeviköz, deputy chairperson of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Turkey and Russia signed a secret agreement allowing Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces to attack areas controlled by Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria. According to Çeviköz, a former ambassador, Turkey had to agree in return to withdraw its troops and military equipment from Idlib.

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PKK Threatens to Kill Members of Ocalan Family: Osman Ocalan

Basnews English 02/07/2019 – ERBIL — Since the last letter from Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan last month, debates over the party’s current leadership, their policies towards the recent political developments in the region, and the position of Ocalan himself, have been escalating, with many observers believing that the PKK is distancing from Ocalan.

In an exclusive interview with Bas Weekly, Osman Ocalan, a brother of Abdullah Ocalan and a former member of PKK leadership council, shed light on the threatenings the PKK sends to Ocalan family members and the secret PKK-Iran and PKK-Syria relations.

Below is the interview which was translated from Kurdish and edited for clarity and length.

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Iran’s Expanding Militia Army in Iraq: The New Special Groups


August 2019, Volume 12, Issue 7 Authors: Michael Knights – COMBAT AND TERRORISM CENTER – WEST POINT – USA  – 9 Aug 2019

Abstract: Pro-Iranian militias in Iraq—excluding Badr—have swollen from as few as 4,000 personnel in 2010 to over 60,000 in 2014 when they plugged into government funding through the Popular Mobilization Forces raised to fight the Islamic State. Large, new pro-Iran militias such as Kata’ib Al-Imam Ali deserve more attention from the analyst community, as do new Kata’ib Hezbollah leaders such as Abu Zaynab al-Lami, who are emerging as challengers to the movement’s leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. A pantheon of smaller, newer pro-Iran militias is arguably closer to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps than larger and older pro-Iranian militias such as Badr and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq. Key behaviors for analysts to monitor include corrupt money-making, control of the Iraq-Syrian border, human rights abuses, and development of exclusive bases outside Iraqi state control.

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Öcalan calls for new initiative to resolve Turkey’s Kurdish conflict

By TM –  August 8, 2019 THE TURKISH MINUTE

Jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Abdullah Öcalan has called for a new initiative to bring a peaceful settlement to the ethnic violence in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast and says he is ready to assume his role towards that end, the Artı Gerçek news website reported. Öcalan’s remarks were released by the Asrın Law Firm, which sent a group of lawyers to meet with him on Wednesday on the prison island of İmralı.

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Kyle Orton@KyleWOrton·   9 August 2019 – 8m

#SDF/#PKK officials condemning #Turkey for allegedly coordinating with the #Asad regime is bold given the PKK statelet’s symbiosis with Damascus.

ISIS, Assad, and Turkey Are Waging a Shadow War on U.S. Allies in Syria

Arson, bombs, spies, and propaganda stoke tensions in northeast Syria as Turkish troops mobilize along the border for a threatened invasion.




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