Who are Sultan Erdogan’s Allies in Syria?


Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army fighters at a training camp in Azaz, Syria. (REUTERS/Osman Orsal)

Around 25,000 Free Syrian Army rebels are joining the Turkish military operation in northern Syria with the goal of recapturing Arab towns and villages seized by the YPG Kurdish militia almost two years ago, a rebel commander said on Sunday.

Turkey, dubbing the operation it launched in northern Syria on Oct. 9 Operation Peace Spring (which also could be translated as Operation Fountain of Peace), has been reorganizing Syrian militia groups loyal to Ankara under the banner of the Syrian National Army, or Jaish al-Watani in Arabic.

The formation of the new National Army with the participation of outfits that were active at Azaz, Jarablus, al-Bab, Afrin, Idlib and Latakia was announced at a press conference in Sanliurfa on Oct. 4. According to information offered by Abdurrahman Mustafa, the Turkey-guided president of the Syrian provisional government, the new army is composed of the Free Syrian Army and groups affiliated with the National Liberation Front. This new army will operate under the provisional government’s defense ministry and its components will not be using their original names.

Groups that were under National Liberation Front, which was dominated by Islamist groups, will be incorporated into the new army under designations of 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th corps. The original National Army was organized into three corps. They will retain their organizational charts.

A statement attributed to the National Army that deployed to the field Oct. 10 declared there will be no pity for Kurdish fighters. “Hit them with iron fists, let them feel the hell of your fire,” the statement said.

The following are mentioned as components of the new National Army: Ahrar al-Sham, Jaish al-Islam, Suqhur al-Sham, First Coastal Division, Liva Selam, Jaish al-Sani, Jaish al-Nasir, Free Idlib Army, Suwar al-Jazeera, 51st Brigade, Firqa Shimal, Jaish al-Ahfad, Jaish al-Sharkiyya, Firqa Mutassim, Jabhat’us Shamiyye, 5th Regiment, Liwa asl Shimal, Muntassir Billah Brigade, Festakin Kema Umirte, Jaish al-Islam, Liwa Sultan Osman, Rical el-Harb, Liwa al-Awwal Magavir, Fevc al-Mustafa, 9th Division, 23rd Division, Semerkand Brigade, Fatih Sultan Mehmet Brigade, al-Wakkas Brigade, Hamza Division, Sultan Murad Brigade, Liwa al-Fatih, Liwa Shukur al-Shimal, Ahrar al-Sharqiyye, Jaish al-Mukha, Failaq al-Sham, Sultan Suleiman Shah.

Among them, 21 previously received aid from the CIA or the Pentagon. Also, 14 have been provided TOW anti-tank missiles. This reveals a stark dilemma: The groups that were educated and equipped by the United States west of the Euphrates are now fighting against the groups east of the Euphrates that have been also educated and equipped by the United States. In other words, two US-backed groups are fighting with each other.

Read the full article at Al-Monitor

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I Fooled You All


Background image of Greta Thunberg is courtesy of Axios.com, modified by me. Click image to enlarge.

I really like her cheeky, Mona Lisa-like smile in this image.

Related: The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg

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Edward Snowden on Trump, Privacy, and Threats to Democracy


On the eve of his memoir ‘Permanent Record’ being published, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden talked at length from Moscow with MSNBC’s Brian Williams in an exclusive interview. This is their discussion in its entirety, edited down slightly for clarity.

See also: Edward Snowden’s Memoirs: Permanent Record

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CrossTalk on Trump & Iran: ‘Locked and Loaded’


Again we stand on the brink of war. We should not be surprised: official Washington was quick to blame Iran for the attack on Saudi energy assets. Iran has denied involvement, while the Houthis have claimed responsibility. Will Trump take the neocon bait and set the Middle East on fire?

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About Political Correctness


Background image courtesy of Calvin University, modified by me. Click image to enlarge.

Examples of current opinions considered to be politically correct:

    • Syrian President Assad is killing his own people
    • Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons
    • Israel has a right to defend itself no matter what
    • Global Warming/Climate Change is mainly caused by human activity
    • Putin used army of Cyber Trolls to interfere in U.S. presidential election

People with different or opposing views are often ridiculed and labeled deniers, crackpots, tin foil hats, conspiracy theorists, unpatriotic, etc.

Some background information about Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

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Edward Snowden’s Memoirs: Permanent Record


The man whose state surveillance revelations rocked the world speaks exclusively to the Guardian about his new life and concerns for the future

The world’s most famous whistleblower, Edward Snowden, says he has detected a softening in public hostility towards him in the US over his disclosure of top-secret documents that revealed the extent of the global surveillance programmes run by American and British spy agencies.

In an exclusive two-hour interview in Moscow to mark the publication of his memoirs, Permanent Record, Snowden said dire warnings that his disclosures would cause harm had not come to pass, and even former critics now conceded “we live in a better, freer and safer world” because of his revelations.

In the book, Snowden describes in detail for the first time his background, and what led him to leak details of the secret programmes being run by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK’s secret communication headquarters, GCHQ.

He describes the 18 years since the September 11 attacks as “a litany of American destruction by way of American self-destruction, with the promulgation of secret policies, secret laws, secret courts and secret wars”.

Snowden also said: “The greatest danger still lies ahead, with the refinement of artificial intelligence capabilities, such as facial and pattern recognition.

Read the full article at: The Guardian

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Hong Kong’s Summer of Defiance



More than three months of dramatic public protests throughout the summer of 2019 have shaken Hong Kong, bringing huge demonstrations onto the streets – on occasion numbering well over a million people – and at times escalating into violent confrontations between police and activists.

The protests began in June in response to the government’s plans to amend Hong Kong’s extradition law amid widespread fears that, if the legislation were enacted, anyone suspected of breaking the law in the territory could be sent to mainland China to face trial.

But they soon took on a broader pro-democracy theme.

Initially, the protests echoed the events of 2014 when hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers occupied key roads for 79 days in a largely peaceful show of civil disobedience that came to be known as the Umbrella Movement. But then, they took on a distinct and arguably more effective character, as this latest generation of protesters started to flex their muscles and targeted government buildings (including the Legislative Council chamber, which was briefly occupied), the airport, train stations and other key parts of Hong Kong’s infrastructure.

In doing so they also expanded their list of demands to include not just the withdrawal of the controversial bill but also the resignation of Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, and an investigation into police conduct and the use of force during the protests.

How all this will be resolved remains to be seen.

Despite the hardening police response, the protesters so far remain uncowed and have already won some important concessions; Lam was quickly forced to postpone the proposed extradition bill – and most recently has announced it will be retracted altogether.

Yet there is also increasing speculation about how these events have been viewed in Beijing and if, when and how the Chinese government might intervene.

Some analysts believe that the mainland authorities will be desperate to see the protests end, one way or another, before October and the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.

A team from People & Power has been following these events for many weeks. In a two-episode special report, filmmakers Lynn Lee and James Leong have been tracing the causes and possible consequences of Hong Kong’s Summer of Defiance.

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Erdogan: We’ll Flood Europe With Syrian Refugees Unless ‘Safe Zone’ Established


Background image courtesy of Globalo.com, modified by me. Click image to enlarge.

“We will be forced to open the gates. We cannot be forced to handle the burden alone,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Thursday while demanding that European countries give political support to his controversial ‘safe zone’ plan in northern Syria.

Ankara is currently in tense negotiations with the United States over Erdogan’s plan to militarily carve out a large swathe of territory along the Turkish-Syrian border which would serve as a buffer zone of sorts where US-backed Kurdish militias could not operate.

Erdogan said one million refugees could settle in the new buffer territory, thus alleviating the crisis on Turkish soil, and ultimately for Europe as well.

Turkey sees the YPG core of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as a terrorist extension of the outlawed PKK. Turkey has of late vowed to carve out the proposed ‘safe’ territory on a unilateral basis if it can’t make progress with Washington.

Erdogan issued a ‘with us or against us’ ultimatum to the world on Thursday:

“You either support us to have a safe zone in Syria, or we will have to open the gates. Either you support us or no one should feel sorry!”

Read the full article at ZeroHedge

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How Christian Zionism Rose to Power in the U.S.


Photo of the Evangelical preacher John Hagee is courtesy of Associated Press

Well before Theodore Herzl founded political Zionism and published The Jewish State, Christian Zionists in the United States and England were already seeking to direct and influence the foreign policy of both nations in service to a religious obsession end times prophecy.

By Whitney Webb

The largest pro-Israel organization in the United States is not composed of Jews, but of Christian evangelicals, with a total membership of 7 million, more than 2 million more members than the entirety of the American Jewish community.

Members of this organization, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), met in Washington on Monday, attracting thousands of attendees and featuring speeches from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Secretary of State and former CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence, and National Security Advisor John Bolton. CUFI’s leader, controversial evangelical preacher John Hagee, has met with President Donald Trump several times and was recently part of an exclusive White House meeting in March on the administration’s upcoming “peace plan” for Israel and Palestine.

CUFI is but one of many organizations throughout American history that have promoted the state of Israel and Zionism on the grounds that a Jewish ethnostate in Palestine is a requirement for the fulfillment of end-times prophecy and necessary for Jesus Christ to return to Earth — an event Christians often refer to as “the Second Coming.”

While organizations like CUFI and its predecessors have long seen the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, and the later Israeli victory and conquest of Jerusalem in 1967, as the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, there is one prophecy that this sect of evangelical Christians believes is the only thing standing between them and the Second Coming. There are estimated to be more than 20 million of these Christians, often referred to as Christian Zionists, in the United States and they are a key voting bloc and source of political donations for the Republican Party.

As was explored in previous installments of this series, these Christian Zionists, much like religious Zionist extremists in Israel, believe that the Al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock must be replaced with a Third Jewish Temple in order to usher in the end times.

These two groups of different faiths, since the 19th century, have repeatedly formed an opportunistic alliance in order to ensure the fulfillment of their respective prophecies, despite the fact that members of the other faith are rarely if ever on the same page in their interpretations of what occurs after the temple’s construction.

This alliance, based on a mutual obsession with hastening the coming of the Apocalypse, continues to this day and now, more than at any other time in history, these groups have reached the heights of power in both Israel and the United States. Parts I and II of this exclusive series explored how this branch of religious Zionism has come to dominate the current right-wing government of Israel and has led Israel’s current government to take definitive steps towards the destruction of the Al Aqsa mosque and the imminent construction of a Third Temple.

Now this installment (Part III) will show how this movement’s Christian counterpart in the United States, Christian Zionism, has likewise become a dominant force in American politics, particularly following the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, where this apocalyptic vision is a major driver behind his administration’s Middle East policy.

Yet, this fire-and-brimstone vision of the end times has long been a guide for prominent figures in American history and the American elite, even predating Zionism’s founding as a political movement. Thus, Christian Zionism’s influence on Trump administration policy is merely the latest of a long list of examples where prophecy and politics have mixed in American history, often with world-altering results.

Read the full article at Mint Press News

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Roger Waters Performs a Tribute to Julian Assange



Pink Floyd legend Roger Waters is performing the legendary song “Wish You Were Here” outside the UK Home Office in London in support of imprisoned whistle-blower Julian Assange. Waters has been a vocal supporter of Wikileaks, with the Pink Floyd co-founder saying he was “ashamed to be an Englishman” due to Assange’s arrest.

Related: Media refuse to cover Roger Waters concert in support of Julian Assange

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