TBR News July 17, 2016

Jul 17 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. July 17, 2016:”The Turks, always arrogant and violent, have seized an Amerian air base in Turkey and are using this to order the American government to deport a Turkish religious leader whom their dictatorial president dislikes and who claims instigated the failed military revolt recently put down by force. The Turks are walking on a soda cracker bridge and it is starting to rain. They have alienated the Russians and now they are ordering the US government to obey them. The Achilles Heel of Turkey lies in her conflicts with their Kurdish population. The Kurds represent 25% of Turkish population and are organizing for a separatist movement. Turkey will not allow this and, true to form, are murdering Kurdish civilians in a most brutal manner and destroying their villages. An outside entity has been clandestinely arming the Kurds and much more will be heard about this in the coming months.”


Domestic Military Control in the United States

An important 2016 position paper

via Harry von Johnston, PhD


There are many organizations and extensive resources available to aid in the repression of counter government actionists.All forces assigned an AO or function should determine which departments and agencies are assisting in that AO and coordinate actions so that there is no duplication of effort. Such departments, councils and agencies include—

National Security Council.

Department of Defense.

Department of State.

Department of Justice.

Department of the Treasury.

Department of Homeland Security.

Department of Agriculture.

Department of Commerce.

Central Intelligence Agency.

Department of Transportation.

Various governmental departments directly administer or support other governmental agencies. Examples of these US agencies are—

The US Coast Guard (under Department of Homeland Security).

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (under Department of Justice).

Immigration Customs Enforcement (under Department of Homeland Security).

Federal Communications Commission.

Thoughts of the Forbidden Man

The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal ofrhetoric than to any other force.

All great movements are popula movements. They are the volcanic eruptions of human passions andemotions, stirred into activity by the ruthless Goddess of Distress orby the torch of the spoken word cast into the midst of the people.

In no case have great movements been set afoot by the syrupy effusions of aesthetic littérateurs and drawing-room heroes.

The doom of a nation can be averted only by a storm of glowing passion;but only those who are passionate themselves can arouse passion in others.

It is only through the capacity for passionate feeling that chosen leaders can wield the power of the word which, like hammer blows, will open the door to the hearts of the people.  He who is not capable of passionate feeling and speech was never chosen by Providence to be the herald of its will. Therefore a writer should stick to his ink-bottle and busy himself with theoretical questions if he has the requisite ability and knowledge. He has not been born or chosen to be a leader.

A movement which has great ends to achieve must carefully guard against the danger of losing contact with the masses of the people. Every problem encountered must be examined from this viewpoint first of all and the decision to be made must always be in harmony with this principle.

The movement must avoid everything which might lessen or weaken its power of influencing the masses; not from demagogical motives but because of the simple fact that no great idea, no matter how sublime and exalted it may appear, can be realized in practice without the effective power which resides in the popular masses. Stern reality alone must mark the way to the goal.

To be unwilling to walk the road of hardship means,only too often in this world, the total renunciation of our aims and purposes, whether that renunciation be consciously willed or not.


Ankara residents celebrate and denounce Erdogan after failed coup attempt

Emotions in the Turkish capital have ranged from euphoric to distressed, with residents still picking up the pieces in the wake of last night’s failed coup attempt. Diego Cupolo reports from Ankara.

July 16, 2016


The air in Ankara was a mix of celebration and eerie silence after a failed military coup on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

Supporters of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), gathered in euphoria, waving flags, honking horns and singing songs throughout the capital city’s central districts, as opposition areas remained vacant, with restaurants and bars either closed or empty.

“It was like war,” said Axni, a 31-year-old Kurdish journalist living near the Parliament building, which was bombed during the coup attempt. “I was in Diyarbakir during military operations there, and last night reminded me of those experiences.”

Axni, who gave a pseudonym for safety concerns, said she heard gunshots and at least eight large explosions coming from the parliament building as military personnel tried to wrest power from Turkey’s governing party.

“Nothing was clear, and everything was possible [when the attacks started],” she said. “I stayed inside and read the news, trying to understand what was happening. I didn’t know if I was supposed to be worried, if I was supposed to worry about my family.”

After a sleepless night, Axni, like many Ankara residents toured the city streets to observe damage left over from a night of heavy fighting between coup-plotters and Turkish police, who back Erdogan’s AKP party.

At least 265 fatalities have been documented throughout the country, with more than 1100 injured after tens of thousands of Erdogan supporters filled the streets to disrupt the coup by blocking military vehicles and attacking, sometimes lynching, military personnel.

The efforts proved successful, allowing Erdogan to hold office for the time being, and celebrations were held in the city’s Kizilay district where AKP supporters rejoiced in their triumph.

‘Greatest leader since Suleiman’

“I was never afraid that they would arrest him or assassinate him,” said Naci Demir, a 72-year-old Ankara resident who took part in the celebrations today. “Erdogan is too strong for him to fall this way and the military should’ve known that.”

Demir said he supports Erdogan because he upholds the principles of Turkish society and “he is the greatest leader we have had since Suleiman the Magnificent,” referring to the Ottoman emperor who led the empire through its most prosperous era.

References to the Ottoman glory days were prevalent among crowds in Ankara today, as thousands waved not just the red, single-crescent Turkish flags, but also the green, triple-crescent flags of Ottoman caliphate. One man donned a traditional Ottoman fez cap, officially banned after the creation of the Turkish republic to sever the nation from its fallen imperial roots.

When asked why he was wearing a fez, the man simply said, “Because the fez is our hat,” before walking away.

For many of those present at the rally, Erdogan seems to have restored a sense of pride that Turks had lost with the fall of the Ottoman Empire. He is seen as someone who stands up to the west and acts more like an imperial leader rather than a colonial servant.

Furkan Demirel, a 17-year-old Ankara resident, said he had been marching in the streets through the night and into the evening because he had to “support his country.”

“We won’t give up on Erdogan,” Demirel said. “He is the best man to lead Turkey and if we follow him, our country will succeed again … I think he is the best leader in the world.”

But in more affluent areas, such as the Tunali area of the Cankaya district, residents shared vastly contrasting opinions, saying Erdogan’s authoritarian leanings, approach to religious affairs, and efforts to consolidate power left them concerned. While no one expressed support for the military coup, few could see a positive outcome to the current crisis.

“Erdogan supporters are ignorant,” said Izzet Can Asarkaya, a 24-year-old student living in Ankara. “His supporters have Stockholm Syndrome … They are people that fall in love with their killer.”

Growing authoritarianism

Burcu, a 33-year-old who didn’t want to give her surname, agreed as she cleaned up shards of glass in her Tunali apartment from three windows that had been shattered by multiple explosions the previous night.

“After this, the state will only become more authoritarian with its attitude,” Burcu said.

Still, the dust has yet to settle on recent developments in Turkey. Rumors of a second coup attempt on Saturday night dominated discussions in Ankara, causing Axni to take shelter in a friend’s apartment, further away from the parliament building.

“It was hard to predict what would happen after the coup was announced,” Axni said. “We didn’t know if the plotters were organized or if they would succeed, but it was also hard to predict the reaction of Erdogan’s supporters. Everything was just blurry.”

When asked if anything was less “blurry” at this point, Axni laughed and said:

“Of course not, but if you look at what’s happened recently, it’s easy to see where we are going. This country is going to become more fascist, more dangerous, more helpless, unfortunately.”

EU leaders fear repression, strained relations after Turkey’s attempted coup

July 16, 2016


European Council President Donald Tusk, as well as the leaders of Germany and France, urged Ankara to deal with the organizers of the failed coup in line with the rule of law, fearing that repression may harm already strained relations between the EU and Turkey.

The European Union has given its full support to Turkey’s elected government following the attempted coup in the country, with European Council president Donald Tusk, European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini calling for “a swift return to Turkey’s constitutional order” in a joint statement.

However, officials in Brussels don’t rule out that the failed coup may still have a negative effect on its relations with Ankara and affect the long-lasting talks on Turkey eventually becoming an EU member.

The key question will be what kind of Turkey emerges from this crisis… it would be crucial not only for Turkey, but the whole region and of course EU-Turkey relations,” Tusk told the media at the Asia-Europe summit in Mongolia.

“The tensions in and challenges for Turkey can’t be solved with guns,” he said.

It’s “too early to speculate” on the potential consequences of the coup attempt, the European Council head said, adding that “our hope and intention is of course to keep Turkey as a key partner.”

“Military coups have no place in modern Turkey. There is no alternative to democracy and the rule of law,” Tusk was cited as saying by AFP.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the handling “of those responsible for the tragic events of last night can and should only be handled according to the rule of law.”

“Democracy, which respects everybody’s rights and protects minorities, is the best foundation (for the rule of law),” Merkel said, according to France 24 television.

French President Francois Hollande said he expects a period of repression in Turkey in response to an attempted government overthrow.

“Now we shall see what the situation is in Turkey. If its president has completely regained control, which I think is the case, we shall have a period of considerable calm, but there will probably be repression,” Hollande was cited as saying by Reuters.

“I can imagine that a certain number of military will have to answer for what they did or what they didn’t do,” he said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised that, those behind the coup “will pay a heavy price for this act of treason,” with Ankara currently considering the return of the death penalty.

There’s “little chance” that Turkey will be granted a membership in the EU in “at least for the next few years,” Talat Masood, retired three-star general of the Pakistani army, told RT.

“There’s been a lot of resistance against Turkey joining the EU. And with this sort of a coup taking place, I think this that those forces, which were opposed to Turkey, will harden further,” he said.

Despite the coup turning out to be a failure, the force in the EU that oppose Turkish membership will still “use that excuse that Turkey isn’t a stable democracy,” Masood said.

Relations with Turkey have become crucial for the EU after the signing of a migrant deal earlier in March.

According to the deal, Ankara agreed to take back all illegal refugees from Greece and allow a certain number of asylum seekers to travel to the EU legally.

While Brussels pledged to pay €6 billion, grant visa-free travel to Turkish nationals and speed up EU accession talks with Ankara.

However, the visa-free travel negotiations stalled due to Turkey refusing to fulfil all of the European condition for the move, with country’s’ anti-terror laws causing the most concerns.

At least 265 people have been killed, including 104 pro-coup participants, while 1,440 people were injured in military action in Turkey’s capital, Ankara, and the country’s largest city, Istanbul.

A faction of the Turkish military attempted to overthrow the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday night, employing tanks and attack helicopters.

The conspiracy failed, as the organizers of the coup were unable to gain wide support from the military or population and didn’t manage to capture any high-ranking officials

Pentagon loses Turkish airspace access crucial in airstrikes against Isis

  • Incirlik airbase closed to military aircraft after failed coup attempt
  • US officials say they are working with Turkey to resume air operations

July 16, 2016

by Spencer Ackerman

The Guardian

New York-The coup attempt in Turkey has yielded its first tangible disruption to the war against Islamic State, as the Pentagon has temporarily lost access to the Turkish airfield it uses as its primary staging ground for its air campaign in Syria and Iraq.

Although the Pentagon press secretary, Peter Cook, on Saturday portrayed the interruption as surmountable, there was no indication as to when the US would regain access to the Incirlik airbase in south-eastern Turkey, as a defiant Turkish elected government has begun arresting thousands of military officers and soldiers in reprisal for the failed coup.

Turkish airspace, including that over the Incirlik airbase, was closed to military aircraft – some of which flew above Ankara during the attempted takeover on Friday night.

“US officials are working with the Turks to resume air operations there as soon as possible,” Cook said in a statement, reversing an assurance on Friday that the then unfolding coup would not immediately affect the Isis campaign.

“In the meantime, US air forces central command is adjusting flight operations in the counter-Isil campaign to minimize any effects on the campaign,” said Cook, adding that the US-operated facilities at the airbase were unaffected by a broader outage to commercial power in the country.

In addition to Iraqi military airfields open to US warplanes, the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D Eisenhower is in the Persian Gulf. But while last month the US briefly had two carriers in the eastern Mediterranean – the Eisenhower, en route to the Middle East, and USS Harry S Truman, which returned to its Norfolk, Virginia, home port on 13 July – it currently has none in the waters nearest to Syria.

Christopher Harmer, a former navy officer turned analyst for the Institute for the Study of War, said loss of access to Incirlik would place a “significant” strain on the air war if it lasted beyond four days, as the strain of constant flight-deck operations would then eat into scheduled rests for maintenance and fuelling.

“A 48- to 72-hour disruption shouldn’t have a big impact, but if it’s longer than 96 hours, it’s going to have a big impact and the longer it lasts, the bigger the impact,” Harmer said.

Furthermore, the longer the Incirlik closure lasts, the fewer drone strikes the US is likely to launch in Syria, since the US does not field in its drone fleet a robotic aircraft capable of launching from and landing on an aircraft carrier deck.

The Turkish base is also home to A-10s, the most reliable manned aircraft the US possesses for providing air support to ground forces fighting Isis.

The US air force in the Middle East indicated it was prepared to keep up its operational tempo against Isis, also called Daesh and Isil, without Incirlik.

“The air war operates out of multiple locations,” said Lt Col Chris Karns, a spokesman for US air forces central command. “While Incirlik is certainly important, it is one of several locations where air operations are executed. We are making adjustments to ensure impacts to operations are minimized.

“The situation will likely be fluid but flexibility has always been foundational to the way this war has been and will be fought. Getting after Daesh will continue to occur.”

Cook also said the US was in the process of ensuring the safety of thousands of US military personnel, their families and other civilians in Turkey.

“All indications at this time are that everyone is safe and secure,” he said.

The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is considered in Washington an erratic and unreliable ally against Isis, only allowing its Nato partner access to Incirlik to fight the group in 2015.

As Erdoğan and his government have blamed Fethullah Gülen, a cleric currently exiled in Pennsylvania, for the coup, and are urging the US to hand him over, Harmer said it was possible that Erdoğan had closed Incirlik as a gambit to force the Obama administration to extradite him.

In light of the coup attempt, Erdoğan “can close access to air bases to the US that he couldn’t a week ago”, Harmer said.

Turkey coup attempt: Counterterrorism chief critically injured after being shot in the head by coup plotters, as authorities round up more than 6,000 in ruthless crackdown

July 17, 2016

by Henry Bodkin,David Millward and Josie Ensor

The Telegraph/UK

Turkish authorities have continued their crackdown in the aftermath of an attempted coup, with more than 6,000 people detained as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s revenge mission raises fears for the future of democracy in the region.

On Saturday night, thousands of supporters poured onto the streets of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir to demonstrate their loyalty to Mr Erdogan after a tumultuous 24 hours.

In an astonishing and at times brutal 13-and-a-half hours, which at one point reduced Mr Erdogan to broadcasting to his nation via a mobile phone, street protests and military forces loyal to the Turkish leader suppressed the coup that left at least 265 dead.

Turkish authorities on Sunday announced 6,000 people including generals had been detained in the aftermath.

World leaders including US President Barack Obama have strongly condemned the attempted putsch but also urged Turkey to respect the rule of law in its aftermath, especially after pictures emerged showing the rough treatment of some coup plotters when arrested.

“The clean-up operations are continuing,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said.

Arrest warrants were issued for 2,745 judges in what was widely expected to mark the start of a purge of opposition forces.

“They will pay a heavy price for this,” he warned, calling for the death penalty to be reintroduced.

“This uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army,” the president said in response to the bloodiest challenge to his 13-year-rule.

After a night when Turkey’s democracy appeared to hang by a thread, Western and Middle Eastern leaders offered vocal support for the country’s democratic institutions.

However, senior Western diplomats were privately voicing fears that Mr Erdogan would use the coup to entrench his powers.

“For now everyone is delighted that democracy is restored,” a source told The Sunday Telegraph. “The fear is for what comes next.”

The source added that keeping Turkey on a democratic track would top the agenda at Sunday’s meeting of EU foreign ministers, who have been relying on the country to stem the flow of migrants into Europe since signing a deal with Ankara last year.

“Erdogan’s instinct and priority will now be to clamp down on dissent and consolidate power,” said Mujtaba Rahman, of Eurasia Group, a risk consultancy. “This has to complicate cooperation with Europe over refugees, as it’ll give more voice to already squeamish constituencies in the EU about closer ties with Turkey.”

Some 104 plotters were killed in clashes, while 161 others fell as “martyrs”, the government said.

The coup was defeated with the aid of tens of thousands of Mr Erdogan’s supporters who poured on to the streets after he flew back to Istanbul in the middle of the night, using a hastily arranged press conference to urge them to take back control.

By the time the last plotters surrendered on the Bosphorus bridge, the crowds had descended on the disarmed rebels, beating them with clubs and humiliating the failed soldiers as they cowered on the ground.

Turkish authorities named Akin Ozturk, a former air force commander, as one of the “masterminds of the coup” alongside two army generals, Adem Huduti and Avni Angun

Up to 50,000 British holidaymakers were in the country during the attempted coup. Many of them looked for ways to return home after Istanbul’s main airport was temporarily shut and flights cancelled.

Flights have resumed, with Turkish Airlines operating a full timetable and British Airways running a reduced schedule.

Thomas Cook, meanwhile, which takes tourists to coastal resorts several hundred miles away from where the failed coup took place, said it was operating  a full holiday programme.

The rebel army faction – which calls itself the Peace Council and denounced Mr Erdogan’s increasingly non-secular and autocratic approach – said it was trying to overthrow the government to “protect human rights”.

Mr Erdogan, caught by surprise as he enjoyed a holiday in the south, was quick to blame his old foe Fethullah Gülen, a Muslim cleric, and former ally, living in exile in the US. Mr Gülen’s followers were known to have a strong presence in Turkey’s police and judiciary, but less so in the military.

The cleric, however, condemned the attempted coup and said he had played no part in it, but Mr Erdogan demanded his US allies hand him over for questioning.

However, there were signs of tension between Mr Erdogan and Washington, with John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, angrily denying allegations that the US had backed the coup.

John Kirby, the State Department spokesman, said claims that the US was involved were “utterly false and harmful to our bilateral relations.”

Amid fears of a bloody retribution, Stephane Dion, Canada’s foreign minster, has called on Turkey to handle the aftermath of the coup attempt according to “fundamental principles of democracy.”

By Saturday morning, all symbols of the coup had been dismantled or hijacked by government supporters.

Some stood on top of an abandoned armoured vehicle in the middle of the main highway into Istanbul. “Erdogan, Erdogan, he will never fail us,” they shouted into the windows of cars driving past.

The coup backfired on its plotters, only seeming to shore up support for the strongman who was already looking to consolidate his powers.

The Trouble with Turkey: Erdogan, ISIS, and the Kurds

by MJichael J. Totten

World Affairs

Turkey, a key member of NATO, has so far chosen to sit out the war against ISIS. Instead, it is at war with Kurdish militias in Syria, the only ground forces so far that have managed to take on ISIS and win.

Turkey fears and loathes Kurdish independence anywhere in the world more than it fears and loathes anything else. Kurdish independence in Syria, from Ankara’s point of view, could at a minimum escalate a three-decades-long conflict and at worst threaten Turkey’s territorial integrity.

Kurds make up between 15 and 25 percent of Turkey’s population, but no one knows for sure because the government outlaws ethnic classification. Most live in the southeast near the Syrian and Iraqi borders. Many would like to secede and form an independent state of their own.

They could conceivably do it with enough help from the outside. They have a model in the Kurds in Iraq, who liberated themselves from Saddam Hussein after the first Persian Gulf War and have been independent in all but name ever since. The civil war in Syria has allowed the Kurds there to carve out a space of their own between ISIS and the Assad regime, which is what worries the Turks.

Turkey is a powerful state, but so was Saddam Hussein’s government. So was Bashar al-Assad’s before the rebellion broke out a few years ago.

ISIS is still the JV squad as far as Turkey is concerned, to use President Obama’s unfortunate formulation, but Kurdish armed forces have been trying to rip apart the country for decades and therefore Ankara has called in the varsity to deal with them.

Turkish nationalists insist everyone in their country is a Turk whether they like it and admit it or not. The Kurds, according to them, are not a separate people. Rather, they are “mountain Turks who lost their language.” But Turkish nationalism, like Arab nationalism, scarcely existed until the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, which expired at the end of World War I. And the truth is that Turkey, as the rump state of that multi-ethnic empire, is a mélange of different identities. With its Kurdish, Arab, Zaza, and Alevi minorities, it’s no more homogeneous than the rump state of the Soviet empire with the Tatars, Ingush, Sakha, Chechens, and other large numbers of non-Russian peoples on its periphery.

When Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded the modern republic in the ashes of World War I, Turkish nationalists attempted to unite everybody under a single identity for the sake of national unity and to prevent any more territorial loss, but the Kurds refused to join up because the Western powers had promised them a state of their own. To this day, they remain the largest stateless people on earth. Many feel far more kinship with their fellow Kurds in Iran, Iraq, and Syria than with their nominal countrymen in Turkey.

The Ottoman Empire was loosely confederated, with a space for the Kurds, but modern Turkey was founded as a strong Western-style republic with a powerful center, and the Kurds were forcibly conquered, colonized, and integrated.

The government’s response to Kurdish nationalism was tantamount to attempted cultural genocide. Ethnic Kurds were forcibly relocated from the eastern parts of the country, while European Turks were moved to the Kurdish region in the farthest reaches of Anatolia. Even speaking the Kurdish language was forbidden in schools, government offices, and in public places until 1991. Simply saying “I am a Kurd” in Kurdish was a crime, and it’s still considered scandalous in official settings. In 2009, a Kurdish politician created a huge controversy by speaking just a few words of Kurdish in the nation’s Parliament building.

Despite the fervor of this repression, Turkey’s problem with its Kurdish minority is more political than ethnic. As Erik Meyersson at the Stockholm School of Economics put it, “It is less an inherent dislike for Kurds that drives state repression of this minority than the state’s fear for the institutional consequences and loss of centralized power.”

Beginning in 1984, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK—initially backed by the Soviet Union—has waged an on-again, off-again guerrilla and terrorist war against the Turkish state that has killed more than 45,000 people, according to government figures. That’s almost as many as Americans killed during the Vietnam War.

Most of the dead are Kurdish. The Turkish military dished out unspeakable punishment in the east of the country. Nine years ago, I drove from Istanbul to northern Iraq and was shocked to discover that Iraqi Kurdistan is a vastly more prosperous and pleasant place than bombed-out and repressed Turkish Kurdistan. Turkey was once seen as a semi-plausible candidate for the European Union, yet the Kurdish parts of Iraq—one of the most dysfunctional and broken countries on earth—were and are doing much better than the Kurdish region of Turkey.

From mid-2013 to mid-2015, the Turkish state and the PKK enjoyed a period of relative calm under a cease-fire, but in late July the army bombed PKK positions in northern Iraq, and the PKK in Turkey declared the cease-fire void. A wave of attacks against police stations swept over the country in August. An enduring peace between the two sides now seems as elusive as ever.

The Turkish establishment has been alarmed by the existence of an autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq since the day it was founded and has repeatedly threatened to invade if it declares independence from Baghdad. (That may be the only reason the Iraqi Kurds haven’t yet done it.) And it’s doubly alarmed now that the Kurds of Syria have cobbled together their own autonomous region, which they call Rojava, while the Arabs of Syria fight a devastating civil war with each other. And the Turkish establishment is triply alarmed because the Kurdish militias in Syria—the YPG, or People’s Protection Units—are aligned with the PKK.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan—like most of his ethnic Turkish countrymen—is terrified that an independent Syrian Kurdistan will help Turkish Kurdistan wage a revolutionary war against Ankara. Fairly or not, Erdogan sees Rojava much the way the Israelis see Hezbollah-occupied southern Lebanon.

Ideally the Syrian Kurds wouldn’t side with the PKK. The PKK has committed crimes in Turkey and is a willing belligerent in a long and terrible war. The Turks are not imagining this or making it up, and there is no shortage of Kurds elsewhere in the region who share Erdogan’s dim view of the PKK and its allies.

“They are very fanatic in their nationalism,” Abdullah Mohtadi told me in Iraqi Kurdistan years ago. He’s the head of the Komala Party, a formerly Communist left-liberal Iranian Kurdish group living in exile in Iraq. “They are very undemocratic in nature. They have no principles, no friendship, no contracts, no values. In the name of the Kurdish movement, they eliminate everybody.”

The United States, though, is backing the Syrian Kurds. We have to. They’re the only ground force capable of fighting ISIS and winning. The only other options in Syria are the repulsive Assad regime, Hezbollah, Sunni Islamists that will inevitably turn on the United States, the al-Qaeda–linked Nusra Front, and a handful of relatively moderate but irrelevant Sunni groups that have already effectively lost.

The Kurds are all that’s left.

And the Kurds are the most pro-American people in the entire Middle East. They’re more pro-American than the Israelis. Ideologically, yes, the PKK-aligned groups are a bit iffy. They were once Soviet proxies and they’re at war with a member of NATO. But the Turks share at least half of the blame for that conflict. Nowhere in the region will Kurdish people accept cultural genocide lying down. Surely they would have accepted help from the United States had it been offered during the Cold War, but it wasn’t, so they took largesse and ideology from the Russians instead.

For what it’s worth, though, the PKK is not what it used to be. The Soviet Union is dead, and a lot of the ideological Marxism its leaders once mouthed has been diluted over time to standard-issue leftism with a culturally conservative twist. The Kurds of Turkey and Syria are not struggling for the collectivization of agriculture. They are not interested in liquidating landlords or “the kulaks.” They certainly aren’t interested in imposing a police state in Ankara. First and foremost, they’re fighting against the fascists of ISIS, and second for Kurdish independence, a secular system of government, and equality between men and women. They detest the Islamic religion as much as far-right “Islamophobes” in America. Compared with just about everyone else in the region, they’re liberals.

Not in any alternate universe would the United States oppose these people right now. The Kurds of Iran and Iraq are more politically palatable, but you fight a proxy war with the proxies you have, and Americans will never find a better proxy in Syria against ISIS than the Kurdish People’s Protection Units.

Turkey, however, sees everything differently. Early this summer, Erdogan was enraged when Kurdish forces in Syria liberated the town of Tel Abyad from ISIS, and the Turkish military drew up a plan to invade Syria, not to fight ISIS but to set up a 30-kilometer-deep buffer zone to prevent the Syrian Kurds from controlling their own home country.

“We will never allow the establishment of a state on our southern border in the north of Syria,” Erdogan said. “We will continue our fight in that respect whatever the cost may be.”

Ponder the ramifications of that hard-line assertion for a moment. Our NATO ally was enraged because ISIS lost territory and says it’s willing to invade Syria, not to fight ISIS, but to suppress American allies.

American foreign policy makers and analysts have been arguing for years which is worse, the Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah axis or ISIS. Obviously they are both awful. ISIS is more likely to kill Americans at home and abroad, but Iran is the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism. In Turkey, however, the argument is over whether ISIS or the Kurds is the greater evil.

Ankara doesn’t like ISIS. It has nothing in common with ISIS. But unlike the Kurds, ISIS hasn’t been at war with the Turkish government for the last 30 years. In that respect, ISIS is, from the Turks’ point of view, the lesser of two evils.

“ISIS commanders told us to fear nothing at all [from Turkey],” a former ISIS communications technician told Newsweek, “because there was full cooperation with the Turks and they reassured us that nothing will happen . . . ISIS saw the Turkish army as its ally especially when it came to attacking the Kurds in Syria. The Kurds were the common enemy for both ISIS and Turkey.”

President Obama has complained that Turkey could do “more” to stop the influx of “militants” into Syria. Turkey certainly could! Turkey has a long border with Syria, but it’s sealed. I’ve driven alongside it. In some areas, there are minefields everywhere.

Turkey has a world-class army—the second-largest in NATO—and could obliterate ISIS from the face of the earth if it wanted. If the Kurdish People’s Protection Units can make headway into ISIS-held territory with just a ragtag militia, Turkey could liberate the Syrian population from Assad, Hezbollah, and ISIS simultaneously.

But for years Erdogan has been reluctant even to shore up that border.

“You should understand something,” a Turkish smuggler said to Jamie Dettmer of the Daily Beast. “It isn’t hard to cross into the caliphate [ISIS-held territory], but go further west or east into Kurdish territory, then it gets much harder to evade the Turkish military and cross the border. Even the birds can’t come from there; and our birds can’t go there.”

Turkey is not Iraq. It is 1,000 years ahead of Iraq. It is a serious and capable nation, the opposite of incompetent. It’s not an accident or a coincidence that ISIS has been able to replenish its ranks over the Turkish border while the Kurds couldn’t. If Erdogan can stop Kurds from crossing that border, he can stop ISIS from crossing that border. Refusing to do so was a choice.

He is not a state sponsor of terrorism. He is not championing ISIS, nor is he on side with them ideologically. He is not their patron or armorer. But he has spent years letting one of our worst enemies grow stronger while stomping on one of our best regional allies.

The United States has forged ugly alliances too, first in aligning itself with the Soviet Union against the Nazis and then by backing Latin American military dictatorships to prevent Communism from spreading in the Western Hemisphere beyond Cuba and Nicaragua. The United States also sided with Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War.

Later, however, we reversed every one of these odious alliances.

President Truman collaborated with Stalin against Hitler, but he immediately shifted into a Cold War stance against Russia after the Nazis were finished. Washington’s support for Latin America’s generalissimos collapsed completely after the crack-up of the Soviet Union. The American invasion of Panama to topple Manuel Noriega was planned mere days after the Berlin Wall fell and executed the following month. South America’s oppressive regimes then fell like dominoes. In 2002, the United States demolished Saddam Hussein’s government entirely.

Turkey could likewise reverse itself on ISIS. Turkey doesn’t have to like the PKK or any other Kurdish independence movement. That is impossible. All that needs to happen is a recognition in Ankara that ISIS threatens Turkey’s interests and security more than the PKK does.

Optimism is rarely rewarded in this region, but there are some indications that an attitude adjustment in Turkey may be under way.

In July, the government finally rounded up hundreds of ISIS members and sent them to prison. It’s hard to say for sure what went through Ankara’s collective head. Maybe the government only arrested ISIS members to get Western critics off its back. Or perhaps the government finally woke up to the fact that ISIS, unlike the Kurds, is a threat to the entire human race. Maybe Turkey figured it could fight both at once.

Just a few days later, a suicide bomber killed 28 people at a meeting of pro-Kurdish groups in the Turkish city of Suruc, just across the Syrian border from the Kurdish city of Kobane, which ISIS fought for and lost last year. No one claimed responsibility, but it was almost certainly ISIS. Who else would want to strike Turkey and the Kurds simultaneously?

The Kurdish militias are the toughest foes ISIS has yet faced anywhere. Attacking them in Suruc was its way of telling the Kurds that they’re unsafe even outside Syria and Iraq. At the same time, ISIS sent a message to Turkey. “We don’t want to fight you at the moment. Our war is in Syria. But we can strike inside your country whenever we want, so back off.”

Turkey would have united against ISIS if ethnic Turks had been killed, but killing Kurds in Turkey did not inspire an immediate response.

“Witnessing the controversy in Turkish public opinion after the attack,” Turkish analyst Metin Gurcan wrote in Al-Monitor, “and seeing that the political elites could not even come up with a message of unity against such an attack—one has to admit that the attack has served its purpose.”

A few days later, the Turkish government finally allowed the United States to use Incirlik Air Base, just 70 miles from the Syrian border, to launch airstrikes over ISIS-held territory—but only if US airpower is not used to support Kurdish militias. So Turkey is sort of coming around, but not really.

Ankara’s only long-term solution to this conundrum is peace with the Kurds. They aren’t going anywhere. They will want out of Turkey, out of Syria, out of Iraq, and out of Iran as long as those countries treat them like second-class citizens or worse.

The good news for Turkey—if the Turks ever wise up enough to figure this out—is that the Kurds are the easiest people in the entire Middle East to make friends with. Americans have managed to do so almost effortlessly. So have the Israelis. That’s saying something in that part of the world. The PKK may be intransigent, but if reasonable Kurdish grievances were addressed—including Turkey’s hostility toward besieged Kurds in Syria—then support for the PKK in Turkey would likely evaporate.

Making friends with ISIS, however, is impossible.

In their book ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan make a compelling case that “the army of terror will be with us indefinitely.” President Obama agrees. The war against ISIS, he said at the Pentagon in early July, could take decades. President George W. Bush said more or less the same thing about al-Qaeda, and ISIS is simply al-Qaeda in Iraq under new management.

Decades is an awfully long time for a genocidal terrorist state to exist anywhere, and decades is an awfully long time for a NATO ally to support it even indirectly by refusing to act. Turkey cannot continue to do so indefinitely. ISIS probably won’t let it: it is violently opposed to everyone in the human race aside from itself—but at the same time we should never underestimate the stubborn refusal of the Turks to work out their differences with the Kurds.

NATO was formed as an anti-Russian bulwark during the Cold War, and ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union many have wondered if the alliance has outlived its usefulness. That question has been put to bed to an extent with Russian malfeasance in Georgia and Ukraine, but if Turkey doesn’t fully reverse itself on ISIS at some point, its membership in NATO will clearly become a vestige of an era that expired a long time ago.

Diplomats and heads of state are often the last to notice tectonic geopolitical shifts. They’ve spent years, even decades, forming relationships with their foreign counterparts. Institutions are cumbersome, bureaucratic, and slow. They cruise on inertia. They have invested so much for so long. But we are where we are.

If the Turks don’t eventually reverse themselves fully, the White House, Congress, the State Department, and our genuine allies in NATO will have little choice but to ensure that Turkey is treated accordingly.

Lira Drops Most in 8 Years as Stock Futures Sink on Turkey Clash

July 15, 2016

by Ye Xie and Elena Popina


Turkey’s lira plunged the most in eight years, an exchange-traded fund tied to the country’s shares declined and U.S. Treasuries ticked higher after Turkey’s army said it seized power and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asserted that he remains in control. U.S. stock futures slipped.

The lira lost 4.6 percent to 3.0157 per dollar in the biggest selloff since 2008. Treasuries pared declines with the yield on 10-year notes trimming four basis points off of a six-point advance to end at 1.55 percent and U.S. equity futures fell about half a percent. The yen strengthened to 104.88 per dollar after earlier falling to 106.32. The risk premium on the Markit CDX North America Investment Grade Index, a measure of credit default swaps of company bonds, jumped 2.1 percent to 72.84.

Warplanes flew over the capital and tanks blocked roads in Istanbul. The army said in an e-mailed statement that it took power to restore freedom and democracy. It wasn’t immediately clear how much of the country is now under military control.

Erdogan, whose location wasn’t immediately clear and spoke in video link to a local TV station, urged citizens to take to public squares and airports to resist what he called a “coup attempt.” He said the takeover was carried out by a faction of the military without authorization by top generals, and appears to be limited to Ankara and Istanbul.

Political Shock

“This is an unexpected political shock,” Jorge Mariscal, the New York-based chief investment officer for emerging markets at the wealth management unit of UBS Group AG, said by phone. “The only conclusion is that there’s going to be more political turmoil. A lot of money has flowed to Turkey. Some of that will reserve. We are going to see some currency weakness when things settle down.”

The iShares MSCI Turkey ETF lost 2.5 percent to $41.60 by the close of U.S. trading Friday. While U.S. stocks closed the regular session at 4 p.m. little changed, futures tracking the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slipped after word of the Turkish conflict was reported. The September e-mini contract slipped as low as 2,143.25 at 4:45 p.m. in New York, down about 0.5 percent from its level 45 minutes earlier.

Economic Growth

“I don’t think this is likely to result in a major change in the assessment of risk in the global markets,” Jeffrey Kleintop, chief global investment strategist at Charles Schwab & Co., said by phone. “Clearly, there’s a focus on that part of the world with what’s going on in Syria, but I don’t think this is another shock for the markets akin to Brexit. Given history this is a much more minor event.”

Violent clashes continued around Erdogan’s palace in Ankara. Tanks have rolled through the streets of the capital as well as in Istanbul, and warplanes buzzed low over the cities.

Before today, Turkey had been Eastern Europe’s second-strongest stock market of the year with a 15 percent gain, second to Kazakhstan’s 20 percent. Among all markets tracked by Bloomberg, Turkey is ninth best and is outperforming all developed markets. The economy expanded 4.8 percent in the first quarter, beating economists estimates, as household increased spending.

Market Impact

Turkey’s stocks may fall as much as 20 percent, regardless the political outcome, according to Emad Mostaque, a London-based strategist at emerging-markets consultancy Ecstrat Ltd.

“Even if this coup fails, it is a disaster for Turkey where the risk premium on the political side must move up sharply,” as Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, or AKP, stamps out oppositions, Mostaque wrote in a note to clients. “A successful coup would not be much better for vital foreign investor interest as the AKP has significant ground support from hundreds of thousands of vehement supporters.”

Since 1960, the NATO member has experienced at least three takeovers by the secular-minded army. But since the Islamist-rooted Ak Party government came to power in 2002, the political influence of the military has been trimmed.

The last time the military forced out the government in Turkey, in 1997, the benchmark Borsa Istanbul 100 Index benchmark fell 15 percent in the next three trading days. The index then resumed its rally and ultimately gained 254 percent that year.

The lira selloff spread to other high-yielding emerging-market currencies in the final trading in New York. South Africa’s rand dropped 2.4 percent while the Mexican peso lost 1.4 percent.

“Turkey is a geopolitical hot spot,” said Timothy Ghriskey, who helps manage $1.5 billion as chief investment officer at Solaris Asset Management LLC in New York. “The financial markets react very quickly to headlines like these, and it’s all about reducing risk.”

The political turmoil leaves Turkey’s economy vulnerable because it relies on foreign investment to finance a current-account shortfall. The deficit will widen to 4.5 percent of gross domestic product this year, from 4.4 percent in 2015, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

“Turkey has a large external borrowing requirement and is coming off the back of a hefty credit boom,” wrote Neil Shearing, chief emerging markets economist at Capital Economics in New York. “Against this backdrop, a prolonged period of political instability could trigger a serious downturn in the economy.”

Nice attack: Driver ‘researched route’ earlier in week

July 17, 2016

BBC News

The Tunisian man who drove his lorry into crowds of people in Nice researched the route in the days before the attack, French media reported.

The reports say Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel drove through the seafront promenade area of the French city on Tuesday and Wednesday in preparation.

More than 80 people died when he ploughed his vehicle into people celebrating Bastille Day on Thursday.

Six people are being held in connection with the killings.

The latest, a man and a woman who have not been identified, were arrested on Sunday morning, French judicial sources said.

Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was shot dead by police when his vehicle’s path along the Promenade des Anglais was eventually halted.

Europe 1 radio said CCTV footage from the days beforehand showed him driving through the area in the lorry, closely observing the scene.

France has called up 12,000 police reservists to boost security in the wake of the killings.

A BBC correspondent in Nice says the beaches and cafes are busy again and the promenade has been re-opened.

Many people have taken the opportunity to leave tributes or pay their respects to those, including 10 children, who were killed.

An impressive air of normality in much of tourist-packed Nice is deceptive. As well as grief, bewilderment hangs in the sea air.

There are tears, hugs and silence at the mountain of candles, flowers and cuddly toys on the beach promenade, where joggers stop and parents bring young children to read the messages.

A large white banner says: Why children? And, in a child’s handwriting: Why do you want war?

The bloodstains on the tarmac are gradually disappearing. The lampposts the lorry smashed into will be replaced.

But for those who knew or loved the victims, things will never be the same. More armed police and soldiers guarding the streets will serve as a reminder.

Amid the fear and sadness, and the unanswerable questions, defiance acts as a source of comfort.

He will never defeat us, says one message on the promenade. Another reads: Love defeats hate.

Lahouaiej-Bouhlel’s estranged wife, who was detained on Friday, was released on Sunday.

Those still being held are said to be close associates of the killer but have not been identified.

French President Francois Hollande has called the attack terrorism and officials have said investigators will seek to find out whether the Tunisian had links with extremist groups.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Lahouaiej-Bouhlel seemed to have been “radicalised very quickly”.

He was unknown to French intelligence services although he had been in trouble with the police for threatening behaviour, violence and petty theft.

Tunisian security sources have told the BBC he visited Tunisia frequently, the last time eight months ago.

It is not known if he trained in Syria or had any help planning the attack.

So-called Islamic State said the attacker was acting in response to its calls to target civilians in countries that are part of the anti-IS coalition.

Eighty-five of those injured remain in hospital; 29 are in intensive care and 18 of those are listed as critical.

More suspects arrested in connection with truck attack in Nice

July 17, 2016

by Sudarsan Raghavan, Michael Birnbaum and James McAuley

The Washington Post

NICE, France — French authorities on Sunday arrested two more suspects, a man and a woman, potentially linked to the man who rammed a truck into crowds, killing 84 people in this French Riviera city, as investigators sought to determine the man’s path to radicalization and whether he acted alone.

The total of people detained in the attack rose to seven, including the wife of the attacker, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel. His wife was reportedly released from custody Sunday morning, according to authorities speaking to local media. If confirmed, that would leave six still being held for questioning.

Bouhlel, 31, was a “soldier of the Islamic State,” the militant group declared Saturday. French authorities said the Tunisian-born Frenchman was inspired by terrorist organizations.

Sixteen victims have still not been identified, and a child was still fighting for its life, French Health Minister Marisol Touraine told reporters Sunday.

Meanwhile, French authorities released new details to local media of the last moments before the attack, suggesting Bouhlel might had accomplices. The attacker, they said, had sent a text message to someone — believed to be among those currently held for questioning — saying, “Bring more weapons.”

The message was sent at 10:27 p.m., roughly a half-hour before the attack on the iconic Promenade Des Anglais, where tens of thousands were gathered to watch a Bastille Day fireworks display. The phone, police said, was found inside Bouhlel’s rented 19-ton refrigerator truck after he mowed down people for more than a mile and was subsequently killed in a shootout.

It remained unclear whether the Islamic State had directed the attack, was taking responsibility for an assault it inspired or was simply seeking publicity from an event in which it had no direct hand. But no matter the exact connection to organized groups, investigators appear to believe that Bouhlel was taking his cues from their message.

The link underscores the difficulty of preventing the spread of extremist ideology in a world where even people like Bouhlel — whose family and neighbors portray him as a troubled loner — can be spurred to attack without training, resources or connections.

“It seems that he radicalized his views very rapidly. These are the first elements that our investigation has come up with through interviews with his acquaintances,” Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Saturday, without offering details. Five people have been detained for questioning in the case.

“We are now facing individuals who are responding positively to the messages issued by the Islamic State without having had any special training and without having access to weapons that allow them to commit mass murder,” Cazeneuve said.

The Amaq news agency, which is linked to the Islamic State, cited an “insider source” in declaring that Bouhlel “was a soldier of the Islamic State.”

“He executed the operation in response to calls to target citizens of coalition nations that fight the Islamic State,” the news agency said.

Separately, the Islamic State’s al-Bayan radio station said Bouhlel used “a new tactic” to wreak havoc. “The crusader countries know that no matter how much they enforce their security measures and procedures, it will not stop the mujahideen from striking,” the station said.

But the oblique claim of responsibility left open the question of whether Bouhlel had acted alone or had any prior communication with the group, which has also claimed ties to the attacks that struck Paris twice last year and Brussels in March. French authorities have been scrambling to determine whether Bouhlel had a support network in Nice, where he appeared to have been living for at least six years.

Investigators on Saturday detained three people, including one person thought to have spoken to Bouhlel by phone minutes before he started his deadly journey down Nice’s Promenade des Anglais during Bastille Day celebrations. Another man was detained late Friday, according to the office of Paris prosecutor François Molins, and authorities detained Bouhlel’s ex-wife on Friday for questioning.

One focus of the inquiry is Bouhlel’s cellphone, recovered in the cab of the white truck that the Tunisian-born resident of France used to kill 84 people and injure 202. The contacts and call records in the phone can be used to stitch together a portrait of those who may have spoken to Bouhlel in his final days and hours. He was killed by police during the attack.

Nice, meanwhile, was trying to return to normal on Saturday by partially reopening the seaside Promenade des Anglais to traffic. Beaches also reopened, creating a jarring contrast between the tourists frolicking in the gentle Mediterranean surf and the blood-stained pavement above. Mourners dropped flowers on the spots where people had fallen, a route that stretched for more than a mile.

In Paris, President François Hollande convened an emergency meeting of his top security advisers to discuss the investigation.

“The ideologist of Daesh, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, has for several weeks been repeating that it was necessary to attack directly, even individually, French people and Americans wherever they are and by whatever means,” said Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, using an Arabic name for the Islamic State. “Clearly, certain individuals, such as the driver of that truck, individually responded to this call for committing murder.”

“Even if Daesh doesn’t do the organizing, Daesh inspires a terrorist spirit against which we are organizing,” he said.

The attack has put the deeply unpopular Hollande on the defensive. Right-wing opposition politicians have pressed hard over his handling of security and terrorism.

Christian Estrosi, the center-right president of the regional council of Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, which includes Nice, wrote in an open letter Saturday that he had asked two weeks ago for additional security during the Bastille Day celebrations. National authorities had turned down the request, he said, because there was no “special alert.”

But Hollande and his allies have rejected any notion that they erred in their security assessments.

“We are at a moment where there are temptations to divide our country,” said Hollande spokesman Stéphane Le Foll.

Cazeneuve said authorities had foiled terror plots connected to the European soccer championships that concluded a week ago.

Late Saturday, he urged “all French patriots” to join the national reserve, a measure of the sharp personnel need as French leaders scramble to get more security forces onto streets.

As authorities worked to determine whether Bouhlel was connected to a wider extremist network, an emerging portrait of the killer on Saturday suggested that he was a troubled and isolated man, never fully at home in any of the places, communities and families he had known.

Bouhlel had “psychological problems that caused a nervous breakdown,” his father told French television in comments broadcast Saturday.

“He would become angry, shout, break everything around him,” Mohamed Mondher Lahouaiej Bouhlel said in the family home town of Msaken, about 75 miles south of Tunis. “We had to take him to the doctor.”

Bouhlel’s arrival in France in 2009 or 2010 — his father could not recall the exact year — did not appear to have given him any peace or stability. He built a rap sheet for petty theft and assault. Although he married and had children, he allegedly beat his wife until she threw him out of their apartment in a low-income complex on the north side of Nice, according to neighbors.

After the split with his wife, he found an apartment in Nice’s Abattoirs area, a working-class district named after the city’s former slaughterhouse. It was on an anonymous thoroughfare in a peeling building next to a string of empty storefronts and parking lots.

Neighbors there said they were afraid of Bouhlel. Jasmin Corman, 38, said he had “fixed eyes” that terrified her and her two children, 14 and 7.

“He was always alone,” she said.

Standing in the doorway of her apartment on the building’s ground floor — directly below Bouhlel’s first-floor apartment — she recounted on Saturday how he recently stood on the stairwell and silently stared at her as she was locking her door.

“It’s horrifying to realize you were living beneath a murderer,” she said.

Corman, a Muslim who observes Ramadan, said that throughout the Muslim month of fasting, Bouhlel smoked and drank, occasionally returning to the building smelling of alcohol. For Muslims, such behaviors are strictly taboo.

She also noticed him outside the building with a young blonde on more than one occasion. “It was not his daughter. There were caresses,” she said.

Rebab Bouhlel, his sister, said her brother rarely called home to Tunisia but had begun to do so more often recently. “Over the past month,” she told Reuters, “he was calling us every day and he sent us money.”

“He called several times a day,” she said.

According to Tunisian media, one of those calls was made the day of the attack. Bouhlel reportedly called his brother to tell him about his troubles, mostly his divorce. Soon, he said, he planned to return to Tunisia.

Rick Noack and Annabell Van den Burghe in Nice and Souad Mekhennet in Frankfurt, Germany, contributed to this report.

Scotland’s Sturgeon says would not rule out staying in EU and UK

July 17, 2016

by Karin Strohecker and Costas Pitas


Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would not rule out the possibility of Scotland remaining in the European Union as well as part of Britain, which backed Brexit in a referendum mainly due to voters in England and Wales.

“When you are in unchartered territory you have effectively a blank sheet of paper in front of you then you have an opportunity to think things that may have been previously unthinkable,” Sturgeon told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

Asked if Scotland could stay in the EU while England and Wales exited the bloc, Sturgeon said: “I don’t think that should be ruled out at this stage.”

Voters in Scotland rejected independence in 2014 but 62 percent backed remaining part of the EU in a referendum on June 23 in which the majority of voters across the four countries which make up the United Kingdom backed Brexit.

Sturgeon said after the Brexit result that a second independence referendum was now a possibility, though she has also stressed that would not happen until it was clear most Scots were in favor of breaking from the United Kingdom.

In the wake of the shock vote, Sturgeon went on a flying visit to Brussels to meet EU executives and lawmakers.

According to sources, she discussed possible models for Scotland’s future in the bloc, based on the fact that several states have some parts in the EU and some outside – as in the case of EU member Denmark and its non-EU territory Greenland.

Speaking about her visit to Brussels, Sturgeon said her welcome had been much warmer than during her visits in the run-up to the independence referendum.

“What I encountered in Brussels was a warmth, an openness a great sympathy to the position that Scotland find itself in,” she said on Sunday.

Sturgeon also said Prime Minister Theresa May’s comments on Friday, saying Britain would not trigger formal divorce talks with the EU until a “UK approach” had been agreed, gives her a strong bargaining position.

“That put Scotland in a very, very strong position, that puts me in a strong position.”

(Reporting by Karin Strohecker and Costas Pitas; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

 Word ‘fire’ heard on cockpit voice recorder from crashed EgyptAir 804

Investigators earlier said other black box retrieved from site where plane crashed into Mediterranean confirmed smoke alarms had sounded onboard

July 16, 2016


The word “fire” is heard on the cockpit voice recorder of EgyptAir 804 before the plane crashed into the Mediterranean in May, an Egyptian-led investigative committee said Saturday.

Investigators had earlier said the other black box retrieved from the crash site, the data recorder, confirmed that smoke alarms had sounded onboard, while soot on wreckage indicates a fire.

“The committee had … started listening to the cockpit voice recordings before the occurrence of the accident; where the existence of ‘fire’ was mentioned,” the committee said in a statement.

“Still it is too early to determine the reason or the place where that fire started,” it said.

The data recorder points to smoke signals indicating fires in the lavatory and avionics section of the plane, according to the committee.

The data on the voice recorder had been downloaded earlier this month after it was repaired.

The Airbus A320 was carrying 40 Egyptians, 15 French, two Iraqis, two Canadians and one passenger each from Algeria, Belgium, Britain, Chad, Portugal, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

It had set off from Paris to Cairo when it disappeared from radar over the Mediterranean.

Egyptian investigators have confirmed the aircraft made a 90-degree left turn followed by a 360-degree turn to the right before hitting the sea.

The latest committee statement said the search for the remains of passengers has ended.

The ship conducting the search “reached the port of Alexandria today after the end of its mission, which had been extended for the second time, after making sure of the recovery of all human remains at the site of the accident”, it said.

Both Egyptian and French judiciary have opened investigations into the mysterious incident, without ruling out a terrorist attack.

The crash followed the bombing of a Russian passenger plane over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula last October, killing all 224 passengers and crew.

The Islamic State jihadist group claimed responsibility for that attack, but there has been no such claim linked to the EgyptAir crash.

Egypt’s aviation minister had initially said an attack was the more likely explanation, but President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said there was no theory being favoured yet.

EgyptAir said last week that advance compensation payments of $25,000 would be offered to families of the 66 people killed in the crash.

The payments are separate from those expected from insurance companies on behalf of various parties depending on the investigation into the disaster.



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