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Europe can’t keep shutting its eyes to the disaster in Syria

These past few days have been a watershed for Europe. I’m not thinking about Brexit, but about Syria – which increasingly looks like our 21st-century Spanish civil war. Western and European defeat in Syria (by which I mean political and moral, not just military defeat) has parallels with the 1930s when democracies were unable or unwilling to stand up to authoritarians when it mattered, or even to play any kind of meaningful role in preventing a catastrophe that would soon enough engulf them, too.

Events in north-eastern Syria are obviously tragic, if not lethal, for the tens of thousands of people caught up in them locally. But they will also have an impact on Europe in more ways than we perhaps care to acknowledge. Donald Trump himself has said as much, casually pointing out that Islamic State-connected foreign fighters now on the loose would make their way back to Europe. He made clear that that is a problem Europe would have to handle alone. As bad as that prospect is, it is only one part of a wider picture that should make Europeans feel desolate: at a crucial moment in history, the Russia-Iran authoritarian axis is now fully victorious on Europe’s doorstep.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/16/europe-shutting-eyes-disaster-syria

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Posted by on October 17, 2019 in Middle East

 

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Export di armi, dove e perché violiamo le leggi italiane e dell’Onu

È noto: una parte delle bombe piovute in testa ai curdi siriani sono made in Italy. Negli ultimi quattro anni le forniture di armi ad Ankara sono state un crescendo: 128,8 milioni nel 2015; 133,4 nel 2016; 266,1 nel 2017 e 362,3 nel 2018. Elicotteri da guerra, sistemi di precisione, bombe, razzi, missili e armi da fuoco per un totale di 890,6 milioni. La Turchia è nella Nato, è un forte partner commerciale e politico dell’Europa, non è sottoposta ad alcun embargo e compra i nostri armamenti, tutto legale quindi?

https://www.corriere.it/dataroom-milena-gabanelli/export-armi-turchia-dove-perche-violiamo-leggi-italiane-dell-onu/57dbf612-ef70-11e9-9951-ede310167127-va.shtml

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2019 in European Union

 

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Turkey’s Syria invasion rapidly backfiring for Ankara amid unexpected international condemnation

Turkey’s Syrian venture is rapidly turning sour from President Erdogan’s point of view. The Turkish advance into the northeast is moving slowly, but Turkey’s military options are becoming increasingly limited as the Syrian army, backed by Russia, moves into Kurdish-held cities and towns that might have been targeted by Turkish forces.

It is unlikely that Mr Erdogan will risk taking on Syrian government troops, even if they are thin on the ground, if this involves quarrelling with Russia. In the seven days since he launched Operation Peace Spring, Turkey has become more diplomatically isolated than Ankara might have envisaged when President Trump appeared to greenlight its attack.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/turkey-syria-kurds-war-trump-erdogan-invasion-ankara-a9157046.html

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2019 in Middle East

 

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Watch “Accidental Anarchist – What is the Rojava Revolution?” On YouTube

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2019 in Middle East

 

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Trump and Erdogan have much in common – and the Kurds will be the tragic victims of their idiocy

What perfidy. Is there any more solemn a word that can be developed in the English language for such treachery? The west’s Kurdish allies are being betrayed all over again. Like Kissinger, like Trump. And here come the Turks again, once more playing their border games, pretending they are fighting against “terrorism” when they were perfectly prepared to assist al-Nusra in Afrin while oil from Isis flowed into the country. And Trump now suddenly realises that the Turks are not good allies when he was perfectly happy to let them invade northern Syria four days ago.

If anything could be more illustrative of the madhouse in Washington it has been the divisive, insane “policy” which the Americans still claim to uphold in northern Syria. A hundred thousand displaced, dozens of civilians dead. In Damascus, the Assad regime must be appreciating this farce, although the chances of taking back territory from Turkey probably looks a good deal more dangerous. But the prospect of Syria’s invaders fighting each other will evoke only bitter reflection in a state where the government had almost won its war.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/trump-erdogan-syria-turkey-kurds-isis-bombing-a9153116.html

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2019 in Middle East, North America

 

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Chaos in Syria: ISIS Detainees Escape as the U.S. Pulls Out

In between rounds at his golf club, on both Saturday and Sunday, President Trump decided that he was done with Syria. He ordered the evacuation of a thousand U.S. Special Forces troops deployed to contain ISIS, the jihadi movement that still has tens of thousands of members waging an underground insurgency across Syria and Iraq. For five years, the Americans have been the backbone of support—providing air power, intelligence, and strategic advice—for the Syrian Democratic Forces. The Kurdish-led militia did the actual fighting against ISIS, losing eleven thousand fighters along the way. It evolved into one of the most important U.S. allies anywhere in the Middle East. More than seventy nations joined the coalition backing the S.D.F., but the United States has been the glue holding it together.

As if on cue, on Sunday, hundreds of families and supporters of the Islamic State escaped from a detention center in Ain Issa, in northeastern Syria. The Kurds reported that the black ISIS flag was soon erected nearby. “Five years of work—undone,” a U.S. official lamented to me, on Sunday. Trump’s order to withdraw also prevented U.S. forces from being able to transfer about sixty “high-value” ISIS prisoners from detention centers in the area controlled by the S.D.F., the Times reported.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/chaos-in-syria-isis-detainees-escape-as-the-us-pulls-out

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2019 in Middle East

 

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As Turkey prepares to slice through Syria, the US has cleared a new breeding ground for Isis

“Never get into a well with an American rope” goes the saying spreading across the Middle East, as the US abandons its Kurdish allies in Syria to a Turkish invasion force. People in the region are traditionally cynical about the loyalty of great powers to their local friends, but even they are shocked by the speed and ruthlessness with which Donald Trump greenlit the Turkish attack.

According to the UN and human rights groups, tens of thousands of Kurdish refugees are in flight from their border towns and are being targeted by Turkish airstrikes and artillery fire. Most leaders contemplating ethnic cleansing keep quiet about it, but Turkey’s President Erdogan is openly declaring that he will settle two million Syrian Arab refugees from other parts of Syria on Kurdish lands (he says he’s discovered that the land is not really Kurdish).

Every news dispatch from the new war zone is full of ironies. Trump says that Turkey will be responsible for securing the thousands of Isis prisoners held by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), But Brett McGurk, as the former presidential adviser to the anti-Isis coalition – and the source for the saying about the unreliability of US rope – notes that in the past it was Turkey which had rejected “any serious cooperation on Isis even as 40k foreign fighters flowed through its territory into Syria”.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-us-kurds-turkey-isis-breeding-ground-patrick-cockburn-a9151766.html

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2019 in Middle East

 

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Defying the World, Turkey Launches a War Against a U.S. Ally in Syria

Two of America’s closest allies in the Middle East went to war on Wednesday—and Donald Trump didn’t seem to care. In what may have been the first declaration of hostilities on Twitter, the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, announced that Turkey, a NATO ally, had launched an invasion of Syria, to clear out a Kurdish-led militia that controls about a third of the country. The militia, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, has been allied with the United States for the past five years in the war against ISIS. Both sides have been equipped by the United States, albeit in vastly different ways.

Erdoğan dubbed the invasion “Operation Peace Spring.” It is anything but. Panic swept across northern Syria as Turkey’s warplanes pounded Kurdish towns and artillery fired across the border, in order to—in ironic military jargon—“soften up” the terrain for a ground offensive. The S.D.F. posted videos on social media of the aftermath, showing fires, destruction, and bodies on the ground.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/defying-the-world-turkey-launches-a-war-against-a-united-states-ally-in-syria

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2019 in Middle East

 

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Kurdish soldiers I spoke to feared Trump would be a treacherous ally. But the scale of his betrayal is terrifying

In a field beside a disused railway station on the plain just south of the Syrian-Turkish frontier, a brigade of Syrian Kurdish soldiers were retraining in order to resist an invasion by the Turkish army. “We acted like a regular army when we were fighting Daesh [Isis],” Rojvan, a veteran Kurdish commander of the YPG (People’s Protection Units), told me. “But now it is we who may be under Turkish air attack and we will have to behave more like guerrillas.”

Rojvan and his men had just returned from fighting Isis for 45 days in their last strongholds in eastern Syria. I had met him first in a cemetery in the Kurdish capital Qamishli where he was burying one of his men who had been killed by an Isis rocket when driving a bulldozer to build field fortifications in the middle of a battle.

But now he and his men were learning new tactics to combat the Turkish military units that were beginning to mass on the Turkish side of the border.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/kurds-trump-turkey-syria-ethnic-cleansing-war-invasion-a9148561.html

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2019 in Middle East

 

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After Trump Announcement, Syrian Kurds Brace for Turkish Invasion

Sherin Tamo remembers watching the U.S. airstrikes hit the Syrian town of Kobane from across the border in Turkey. It was September 2014, and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria had laid siege to the border town from three sides. Turkey had refused to let reinforcements through the border but let residents like Tamo escape. She watched from the Turkish side of the border as ISIS pressed farther and farther into the majority Kurdish area. Then came the U.S.

On September 27, the U.S.-led coalition began a massive, prolonged, and deadly bombing campaign in Syria, targeting ISIS units around Kobane and initiating a partnership with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, known by their Kurdish initials YPG, that would go on to become arguably the most effective force against ISIS. “When we heard the U.S. airstrikes, we were very happy,” recalled Tamo, a Kurdish resident of Kobane. “We applauded with every airstrike on our city by saying, ‘Let our houses collapse over their heads, ISIS.’”

https://theintercept.com/2019/10/08/syria-kurds-trump-turkey/

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2019 in Middle East

 

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