TBR News July 23, 2017

Jul 23 2017


The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., July 23, 2017:”The Mid East is now a seething cauldron of growing discontent and, like a steaming volcano, liable to erupt at any time. There is a powerful animosity between the Israelis who want to chase all the Arabs who own the land and have for centuries, and the Arabs who do not want to leave and who view the Israelis as invaders. The Temple Mount is now the focus of all the animosities. This area once held the Jewish Temple of Solomon, of which not a trace remains, and the later second Temple built by Herod Agrippa that was destroyed by the Romans. The Muslims build a mosque on the Mount and it is considered as the second holiest site in the Muslim religion. The current Israelis want to bulldoze this old mosque and built a new Temple in its place. This would be an act of incredible stupidity but stupidity seems to be a hallmark of Israeli policy. Now, the Israelis are blocking entrance to the area under a pretext of “security” and there is rapidly escalating hostility between the residents and the invaders. The IDF shot three Arabs dead and in retaliation, the next day the Arabs killed three Israelis. If this keeps up, and it will, Hezbollah will have a perfect casus belli and a flood of missiles will darken the sky. And Fat Bibi will run screaming to Washington to help him. Washington will temporize and the print media will bleat but there will be nothing else.”


Table of Contents

  • Arab League chief says Israel ‘playing with fire’ over Jerusalem
  • Turkey Sees Foes at Work in Gold Mines, Cafes and ‘Smurf Village’
  • Turkish Murders of Armenians: The Kurds are next!
  • Empire of Destruction


Arab League chief says Israel ‘playing with fire’ over Jerusalem

July 23, 2017


CAIRO (Reuters) – The Arab League has warned Israel is “playing with fire” over the “red line” of Jerusalem and its foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday over Israeli-Palestinian violence, according to statements on Sunday.

Israel sent extra troops into the occupied West Bank on Saturday after violence erupted over Israel’s installation of metal detectors at entry points to the Noble Sanctuary-Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s walled Old City.

A Palestinian attacker stabbed to death three Israelis on Friday, and hours earlier three Palestinians were killed. In Jerusalem on Saturday, Israeli police used riot gear to disperse dozens of Palestinians who threw stones and bottles at them.

“Jerusalem is a red line that Muslims and Arabs cannot allow to be crossed,… and what is happening today is an attempt to impose a new reality on the Holy city,” Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in a statement.

“The Israeli government is playing with fire and risking a major crisis with the Arab and Islamic world.”

Arab League foreign ministers will hold emergency talks in Cairo on Wednesday, the group said in a statement.

The United Nations Security Council plans to meet on Monday to discuss the bloodiest spate of Israeli-Palestinian violence for years. Sweden, Egypt and France requested the meeting to urgently discuss de-escalation in Jerusalem.

Israeli military commanders have warned violence may escalate.

Reporting by Mostafa Hashem; writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Toby Chopra


Turkey Sees Foes at Work in Gold Mines, Cafes and ‘Smurf Village’

July 22, 2017

by David Segal

The New York Times

LONDON — Akin Ipek, one of Turkey’s richest men, was staying in the Park Tower Hotel in London when the police raided his television network in Istanbul. The raid was national news, so Mr. Ipek opened his laptop and watched an unnerving spectacle: an attack on his multibillion-dollar empire, in real time.

It was an oddly cinematic showdown. Through a combination of shouting and persuasion, the network’s news editor convinced the officers that they should leave, then locked himself in the basement control room with a film crew. For the next seven and a half hours, until the police returned, the news editor spoke into a camera and took calls on his iPhone. One was from Mr. Ipek, who denounced the government’s action as illegal.

“I was shocked and angry,” Mr. Ipek said in a recent interview in London. “But I thought they would leave after a couple days. There was no reason to stay.”

Actually, the government never left, and the events were the start of a personal cataclysm for Mr. Ipek. His station, Bugun TV, was taken off the air a few hours after that phone call, on Oct. 28, 2015. His entire conglomerate of 22 companies, Koza Ipek, is now owned and operated by the state.

The episode proved to be a dry run for a nationwide series of confiscations that began soon after a failed attempt to overthrow the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on July 15 last year. Since then, more than 950 companies have been expropriated, all of them purportedly linked to Fethullah Gulen, the Muslim cleric who Turkish leaders say masterminded the putsch.

About $11 billion worth of corporate assets — from small baklava chains to large publicly traded conglomerates — have been grabbed by the government, a systematic taking with few precedents in modern economic history. Several thousand dispossessed executives have fled overseas to cities as far-flung as Nashville and Helsinki. The less fortunate were imprisoned, part of a mass incarceration campaign that has included purged members of the military, judiciary, police and news media, adding 50,000 new inma

Turkey was once considered one of the world’s great emerging markets, with years of torrid growth and an Islamic government that embraced democracy. Tourism boomed and hundreds of malls popped up across the country. Starbucks arrived in 2003 and has since opened hundreds of stores.

But the political and financial are deeply entwined in Turkey, and the fallout from the coup attempt has damaged the economy. The corporate seizures have also changed the way the country is perceived in the international business sphere, largely because of what they say about the leadership.

The Turkish lira is crumbling and foreign investment has dropped by half compared with last year. All three of the major rating agencies have downgraded the government’s debt to junk status, citing among other factors the bludgeoning approach to companies suspected of having ties to the Gulen movement.

“We’ve seen this new narrative about Turkey as it has taken an authoritarian turn,” said Jonathan Friedman of Stroz Friedberg, a global risk consultancy. “In boardrooms, the country is now a very hard sell.”

Turkey’s war on its “enemies” in business — and the evolution of Mr. Ipek from revered industrialist to public villain — illuminates much about the tumultuous events that have so jolted the country in recent years.

Mr. Ipek stands accused of being part of a treasonous deep state run by Mr. Gulen, a reclusive 76-year-old who fled Turkey in 1999 and now lives in the Poconos of Pennsylvania.

For decades, Mr. Gulen has preached a theology rooted in Islam and focused on peace, science and democracy. The movement he leads is called Hizmet — service, in English — and is best known outside of Turkey for building schools across the country and the rest of the world, including 120 charter schools in the United States. Delegations of American politicians have flown to Turkey on trips paid for by Hizmet.

To Mr. Gulen’s detractors, his good works have all been all a cunning charade, propaganda camouflaging a vast moneymaking enterprise that sought to overthrow the government. He and his followers indoctrinated youngsters at Hizmet schools in Turkey, then encouraged them to find positions in the government, particularly the justice system — as police officers, prosecutors and judges.

For allies in the corporate realm, Gulenists in the government provided invaluable aid. Licenses were approved, permits issued, rivals thwarted. Entrepreneurs in Mr. Gulen’s favor knew that the levers of the state could make them wealthy, and one of his most successful protégés, if the Turkish government is correct, was Mr. Ipek.

Soon after the raid, a warrant was issued for Mr. Ipek’s arrest, stating that he laundered vast sums for what officials call the Fethullah Terrorist Organization. His assets were frozen and have gradually been seized, starting last year with his luxury cars and ending with all of his real estate and bank accounts. Prosecutors announced in June that they would seek a 77-year prison sentence for Mr. Ipek, though he has no plans to return to Turkey.

Now settled in London, Mr. Ipek spends his days trying to clear his name and somehow reclaim his life. No, he says, he is not a financial backer of Mr. Gulen or a beneficiary of favors from his followers. And no, he says, he didn’t flee Turkey with billions of dollars, as the government has charged. He says his current net worth is less than $10 million.

“I have not committed one single crime in my life, not a traffic penalty,” he fumed, during hours of interviews.

It isn’t easy to sort fact from fabrication in the government’s case, and parts of Mr. Ipek’s account of his own life sound nearly as far-fetched. Truth is a slippery, elusive concept in today’s Turkey, a place where the definitions of basic words, like “ally” and “traitor,” keep changing.

At least one allegation against Mr. Ipek is demonstrably absurd. A judge misconstrued a reference to “smurfs,” a term of art for people who launder tiny amounts of money, in a report by a government investigator. Taking the allusion literally, the judge, in his ruling, wrote that Mr. Ipek and a group of others conspired in “Smurf Village” in Ankara.

“For two years I’ve been trying to prove there is no Smurf Village in Ankara,” Mr. Ipek nearly shouted, “because some idiot mentioned Smurfs in a report.”

‘An Exceptional Person’

A fit-looking 53-year-old, Mr. Ipek speaks English learned, in part, as an undergraduate in Britain. A black belt in taekwondo and formerly an exercise addict, he has given up workouts since moving to London and has a pack-a-day cigarette habit. He shaved off the mustache he long wore in Turkey, an act with political overtones given that mustaches are de rigueur in Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, shortened to A.K.P. in Turkey.

“They copied me,” he said of the A.K.P.’s mustachioed members. “After they saw my mustache, they got jealous and started growing their own.”

He paused a moment, smiled, then added, “That is a joke.”

On some level, it’s not. Mr. Ipek has an ego just healthy enough to believe that he could be a facial-hair trendsetter. He described a luxury hotel he built as “the world’s best hotel” and the oil he discovered in a southeast province as “the best oil in Turkey.” He called Koza Ipek a “perfect company.”

“I’m an exceptional person,” he said, matter of factly.

He is also warm and surprisingly unbowed, given the circumstances. He leads a somewhat monastic life compared with his recent years in Turkey, when he flew on the company’s jet. He doesn’t travel anymore, though he lives comfortably enough in a house owned by his company in central London.

If anyone aided him on his path to riches, he says, it was his father, Ali Ipek, not Mr. Gulen. The elder Mr. Ipek ran a successful greeting card business, with 500 employees and contracts with Hallmark and others. Akin Ipek took over the company when his father died in 1997 and eventually looked for new opportunities with bigger upsides. He bought a silver mine, then a gold mine.

It seems like an improbable jump. But when you point that out to Mr. Ipek, he is unfazed. “It was something I could afford,” he said, referring to his first acquisition. “There are a lot of small mines in Turkey. It cost $1 million.”

He went into the media business in 2005, buying the Bugun newspaper. It was a natural step, he said, because environmentalists had raised objections to some of his mining operations and he wanted to get out his side of the story.

“In mining, you need to explain what you are doing, you need to be transparent,” he said. “I thought that instead of spending money on P.R., I would buy a newspaper.”

In 2008, he purchased Kanalturk, his first TV network. As a rising media baron, he was contacted and sometimes summoned by Mr. Erdogan. Twice he asked Mr. Ipek to buy other newspapers, deals that didn’t work out.

“He didn’t mind, he wasn’t angry,” Mr. Ipek recalls. “I liked him very much. I saw him as a very reasonable, very logical person. He was trying to do what was right for the country — trying to join the European Union, talking about human rights.”

In less than 15 years, Mr. Ipek had gone from a greeting card wholesaler to a billionaire tapped for favors by the country’s most powerful leader. It was a dizzyingly fast ride, one he says was engineered by a “100 percent self-made man.”

A Toxic Liability

But there is another version of Mr. Ipek’s life, a counternarrative from people who knew him or followed his career. It starts with an irony: Mr. Ipek’s ascent was made possible by the 2003 election to the prime ministership of the man who would become his nemesis, Mr. Erdogan.

Until then, Turkey had for decades been controlled by a secular elite backed by the military, collectively known as Kemalists. Suddenly, a conservative Muslim was the prime minister, and he badly needed to replace Kemalists with bureaucrats, judges and police officers loyal to the new administration

Mr. Erdogan struck an alliance with Mr. Gulen — then regarded not as a rival but as a conservative Muslim with highly educated acolytes. Gulenists slowly began to take jobs in the government. In effect, a new deep state replaced the old one.

Businessmen in the good graces of the Erdogan-Gulen entente were marked for greatness. Turkey was entering its expansionary era, and those with the right connections prospered. Mr. Ipek appears to have been one of the period’s biggest winners, starting with the 2005 purchase of the Ovacik gold mine.

The mine had been closed by a court decision in 2004, a rare success for Turkey’s environmentalists, who denounced what they considered an excessive use of cyanide in the extraction process. To the chagrin of residents and activists, the mine was reopened not long after Mr. Ipek collected signatures from nearly a dozen ministries, which he did at what one news report called “jet speed.”

A few weeks later, locals and environmental activists were physically attacked by Koza Ipek miners during a protest march. Videotape showed Mr. Ipek at the scene of the assault, and former Koza employees said that he had helped orchestrate the violence. He denies that. A lawsuit against the company went nowhere.

“Although we filed a complaint right after the attack,” said Arif Cangi, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, “prosecutors waited for four and a half years to open the case, and they still haven’t made a decision.”

Only the anointed few, observers say, had this kind of regulatory and legal assistance from the state. And an ambitious executive needed a close relationship with Mr. Gulen, along with a willingness to help underwrite his movement, estimated to be worth at least $15 billion at its peak.

“What I heard from people in business that I know is, ‘Never get in a fight with a Gulenist company,’” said James F. Jeffrey, a former American ambassador to Turkey. “‘They’ll get the case in front of Gulenist judges and you’ll lose no matter what the facts are.’”

Being associated with Mr. Gulen eventually became a toxic liability. By 2009, Mr. Erdogan began to suspect that Mr. Gulen wanted to return and run the country.

Initially, the strongest evidence came from leaked sermons, including one in which Mr. Gulen urged his followers to “move in the veins of the system, without anyone noticing your existence, until you reach all the power centers.” Once ensconced, he went on, wait “until you have brought to your side all the power of the constitutional institutions in Turkey.”

Those closest to Mr. Gulen say these exhortations, and his conniving, were no surprise.

“He is a wolf dressed as Little Red Riding Hood,” said Huseyin Gulerce, a former editor in chief of Zaman, the country’s most prominent Gulenist newspaper. “He is obsessed with the idea that he is going to rule the world.”

Suspicions about Mr. Gulen hardened fatefully when a clique of Gulenist police officers, prosecutors and judges began a series of corruption investigations targeting Erdogan loyalists, culminating in late 2013 with accusations of corruption against Mr. Erdogan’s son. After that, the two forces were openly clashing.

It was soon clear that businessmen had to choose a side. One school of thought has it that when hostilities began, Mr. Ipek’s fortunes were too interlaced with Mr. Gulen’s for him to break free.

“I think of Akin Ipek as one of Gulen’s biggest victims,” Mr. Gulerce said. “He is to be pitied. Gulen used him.”

Mr. Ipek says that’s preposterous. He says that he opened the Ovacik mine through determination and the merits of his arguments. While he acknowledges that he visited Mr. Gulen in the Poconos “five or six times, maybe,” he forswears any emotional or financial link to the man.

Time and again, he contended that the Gulenists never constituted a deep state. Few who study Turkey believe that, other than Gulenists. And his claim to be merely an admirer of Mr. Gulen’s was undermined in late 2015 when Mr. Gulen was heard in one of his sermons, regularly uploaded to a website, describing Mr. Ipek as “an angel” and one of 1,000 men in Turkey who will enter heaven with no questions asked.

Of course, even if Mr. Ipek was one of Mr. Gulen’s truest believers, taking companies with scant due process would seem to violate most countries’ legal norms. Many inside and outside Turkey believe that Mr. Erdogan has exploited the failed coup as a pretext to expand his power, tossing people in prison or firing them from jobs for sins as minor as keeping money in a Gulen-connected bank. More than 130,000 people have been suspended or dismissed in the past year, and dozens of hospitals have been closed, along with 1,200 schools and 15 universities.

Mr. Ipek may simply have experienced the wrath of the president before everyone else. During their last face-to-face meeting, in 2012, Mr. Erdogan smoldered while reading aloud every word of a column in Bugun, Mr. Ipek’s newspaper, that he found objectionable.

“He was not reasonable anymore,” Mr. Ipek said. “I told him, ‘Consider me your younger brother and let me tell you some truths. You need to look at the whole wall, not concentrate on one brick. I’ll ask my columnists to be a little more polite, but we want people to be free to express their opinion. We promised them a free press.’”

Mr. Ipek must have realized that his future in Turkey was not secure. In late 2014, he began the process of relocating to London, forming a holding company here called Ipek Investments that would control all of his assets.

The leverage that the government now has over Mr. Ipek includes his younger brother, Tekin, who was imprisoned two years ago without a trial. Mr. Ipek has offered to fly to Turkey and take his brother’s place if the government releases him. Come to Turkey and we’ll talk, the government has countered, in Mr. Ipek’s telling. It is a proposal that he has declined, because he assumes that the government will simply imprison them both.

“I’ve seen them do that before,” he said.

Taking Over

Finding a government official to speak about the business seizures was not easy. After many phone calls, a high-ranking adviser to Mr. Erdogan agreed to an interview at his office in the presidential complex in Ankara. Opened in 2014, the site has3.2 million square feet of inhumanely scaled buildings — imagine an Ottoman-themed Las Vegas casino, minus the neon and noise. This is where the president lives, and the immaculate premises contain more than 1,000 rooms, many filled with government employees.

To reach their offices, you need to pass through two metal detectors and drive through underground tunnels, then pass through another metal detector. Everything is large, silent and under tight security. It’s like visiting the world’s grandest above-ground bunker.

The high-ranking official turned out to be a friendly man who, through a translator, opened by conveying the conditions of the interview: No one else, he said, could be quoted in the article. When I declined that offer, he had another idea. He would provide names of other sources who could be quoted. When I said that wouldn’t work either, he explained that he could not appear in an article that contained negative sentiments about Turkey.

When that offer was also rejected, he agreed to share his thoughts only if his name was kept from the story and he was referred to as a “high-ranking official.”

This pre-interview conversation revealed a lot about the current state of mind of the country’s governing party. The high-ranking official wasn’t just setting these terms because he had little use for independent journalism, though he clearly preferred the pliant variety. He was setting those terms out of fear.

“Don’t get me in trouble,” he said several times, with a forced smile. Turkey is now a place where even those in power fret that a false step will harm their careers.

“It was a market-friendly thing that these companies were seized,” he said. “We cleansed the economy of criminal companies.”

“International investors aren’t asking if Turkey is safe to invest in,” he added. “Only journalists are asking.”

What about the downgrades by the ratings agencies?

Their opinions are subjective and unfair to Turkey’s brand, he said, noting that companies like Citigroup and Boeing are investing huge sums in the country. He predicted that gross domestic product would grow by 7 percent in 2018.

He referred questions about the 950 seized companies to the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund, the agency that now controls them. In an earlier incarnation, the agency’s mandate was to auction off insolvent companies, which it often did live on television, making the sales both transparent and public.

Now, the agency has gone silent. It did not return calls for comment.

Learning anything about the current state of a seized company often requires a visit.

In many cases, the agency has simply cleared out the corner offices and relied on existing employees. That is true of Aydinli, a seized clothing giant that markets U.S. Polo Assn. and a variety of other brands.

“The only change is we’re getting our paychecks earlier,” said a salesman at a U.S. Polo Assn. store at a mall in Istanbul. The flow of customers has held steady.

David Cummings, the chief executive of U.S.P.A. Global Licensing, the West Palm Beach, Fla., company that markets U.S. Polo Assn. clothing, said that aside from a new government-appointed board to oversee Aydinli’s day-to-day operations, nothing had changed. “Of course, everyone gets a little nervous when the government exerts that kind of control,” he said in a phone interview. But the company, he said, has continued to expand.

Similar business-as-usual sentiments were heard from a manager at the seized baklava chain, Faruk Gulluoglu, in Taksim Square in Istanbul. It was packed on a recent sunny day, and whoever is running the company’s Twitter account has gone out of the way to say that it hasn’t changed the recipes.

After the Sweep

Still, critics say that many companies have been sold at deep discounts to friends of Mr. Erdogan, and that others are now run by incompetent loyalists. Inevitably, there have been glitches.

After a major construction company called Dumankaya Insaat was seized, work on a number of unfinished apartment complexes came to a halt, leaving some 10,000 people who had purchased units in the lurch.

The former home of Bugun TV, the scene of that control booth standoff in 2015, appears abandoned. In May, the only sign of life was a security guard, who said that nobody worked in the building. Asked who paid his salary, the guard said “the government.”

This was news to Mr. Ipek. Even with a number of lawyers on the case, he knows almost nothing about what has become of his businesses. None of the three publicly traded companies in Koza Ipek has issued an earnings report in roughly a year. During our interview, an aide told him that shares of one of the companies had risen that day by 15 percent. What had caused the jump?

Mr. Ipek shrugged as he headed outside for a cigarette break.

“I have no idea,” he said.


Turkish Murders of Armenians: The Kurds are next!

July 23, 2017

by Harry von Johnston, PhD


December 1-By order of the Turkish government, the Armenian market district at Van is destroyed by fire with great loss to Armenian property, goods, and businesses.

1878 –Russia victorious in Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. Russo-Turkish Treaty of San Stefano (February 19, 1878) provides for protection and reforms for Armenians. Great Britain negotiates a secret Cyprus Convention with Turkey (June 1978) to allow British to establish bases on Cyprus and to administer Cyprus. In return, Britain insists Russo-Turkish issues be decided, instead, by an international conference. The resulting Congress of Berlin (June 1978) replaces the protective measures of San Stefano under Article 16 with unsatisfactory and ineffective provisions for Armenian people under Article 61, and returns Garin (Erzerum) to Turkey. Russia retains Kars and Ardahan.


Armenian performances are forbidden in Constantinople. The urban Armenian population of Garin and Arabkir come out against the government.


August -By special order of the Turkish government, the word “Armenia” is forbidden for use in official documents.


June – Armenians “rebel” in Zeitun against oppressive Turkish taxes.


The Turkish government divides Western Armenia administratively into separate vilayets of Erzerum, Garin, Kharput, Diarbekir, Dersim, Bitlis (Baghesh), Van, Hekyari and Sivas (Sebastia).


The Turkish government orders that all Armenian periodicals and magazines in Constantinople and Western Armenia be discontinued.


June 15 An Armenian demonstration in the district of Gum-Gapu in Constantinople is drowned in Armenian blood.


June 18-20- Alleging provocative actions by Armenians, Turkish armed forces and Turkish mobs attack Armenians in Garin (Erzerum). Hundreds of Armenians are killed.


January- The Armenians of Vardenis in Taron are robbed by Turks and their village is destroyed.


Sultan Abdul Hamid II, known as the Bloody Sultan, suspends the Armenian National Constitution, and also discontinues the national parliament in Constantinople, which includes some Armenian representatives.


August 20-27- Sassun’s Gelie-guzan village massacre, known as the “Gelie-guzan Hole Carnage” takes place. Here, Turks inaugurate the system of slaughtering unarmed people, which later was the prototype for Hitler’s concentration camps.


August 25-30- Sassun’s Gebin Mount carnage is inflicted when the Turkish army manages to force Armenian women, children and old men to leave Andok for the forest on the bottom of mountain. The army ignites the forest and burns the Armenians alive. Note: This is a harbinger of the extermination of future victims by burning them alive in stables and other large storage facilities.


August -10,000 Armenians are killed and 74 Armenian villages are destroyed in Sassun.


August-October Armenians refuse to pay illegal taxes to Kurdish irregular forces in Sassun. Unrest in the vilayet of Bitlis, near Mush. Revolt in Sassun. Attempted uprising against Kurdish oppression is followed by massacres in Sassun. A joint report published on July 28, 1895 by the Commission of Inquiry created by the initiative of the Great Powers, estimates the number of victims at 5,000.


May 11- Governments of six countries present the Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid II a special note describing the disastrous conditions of Armenia and demand the Turkish government to carry out improvements.



Joint memorandum presented by Britain, France and Russia to the Sultan, pointing out the disastrous situation in the Armenian provinces and urging him to proceed with the reforms. The Imperial Turkish Government replies in August 1895 and promises to carry out the reforms specified in Article 61 of the Treaty of Berlin (1978).


September 30 -Carnage of Armenians in Baberd at the hands of the Turks.


September 30- October- In the Bab Ali section of Constantinople, Armenians carry out a peaceful demonstration. The Turks set upon killing Armenians. 2000 Armenians die. Protests by the Great Powers by joint note from three ambassadors (French, British and Russian) on October 13-15 demand reforms. On October 31 a decree is issued, providing for reforms.


October 5- Mass obliteration of Armenians takes place in Trebizond and its villages. Armenians of Sassun share the same fate.


October 7- Armenians of Derjan province are slaughtered by the Turks.


October 8 -Massacres of Armenians by Turks begin in the vilayet of Trebizond as confirmed by the report of Gillieres, the French Consul in Trebizond.


October 9- The carnage of Armenians at Erzingan and Kamakh by the Turks.


October 10 -In Kghi province more than 1000 Armenians are killed, and dozens of villages destroyed. In Bitlis, 102 villages are destroyed. On the same day the carnage of Armenians at Charsanjak and in its villages begins, taking almost 700 lives. In Balu, the body count of Armenian victims reaches 1200, Arabkir – 2800, Torgom – 500


October 13 -Most of the Armenians in Baghesh are killed by the Turks.


October 16 -Urfa in Yedesia is attacked and in spite of persistent defense, the Turkish army and the Turkish mob succeed in slaying around 10,000 Armenians. On the same day, the Turks inflict similiar carnage in Shapin-Garahisar. 2000 Armenians are slain in the town and 3000 in 30 villages.


October 21 -The Armenian population in Erzingan, a town of Erzerum vilayet, is slaughtered by the Turks. 1000 Armenians are killed.


October 23-3000 Armenians of Malatia are killed. 1000 houses are burned.


October 25- Massacres follow in Bitlis, in the vilayet of Bitlis.


October 26- Almost the entire Armenian population of Kharput is slaughtered by the Turks. The body count exceeds 4000. Mass massacres take place in Bayburd, vilayet of Erzerum. 165 villages are destroyed.


October 27-28 -Massacres in Urfa, vilayet of Aleppo, the first by the Hamidie Kurdish regiments organized by the Turks for this purpose, confirmed by the report of the British consul, Fitzmaurice, dated March 16, 1896.


October 30 -Massacres in Erzerum, vilayet of Erzerum. 400 killed by the Turkish mob and soldiers.


October 31- Massacres occur in Garin and in the vilayet of Erzerum. Around 2000 Armenians are killed; 43 villages are destroyed.


October -Organized massacres of Armenians by Turks in Constantinople and Trebizond.


November 1- Diarbekir carnage begins. 1000 Armenians are killed in the town and 30,000 more in the villages. 119 villages are destroyed. Massacres in Arabkir, vilayet of Kharput. 2,800 dead. Massacres in Diarbekir, vilayet of Diarbekir. Confirmed by a telegram of Meyrier, the French consul in Diarbekir, sent on November 3 to P. Cambon, the French ambassador in Constantinople. He estimates incorrectly: 5000 dead. 119 villages are pillaged and set on fire.


November 3  -Almost the whole Armenian population in Marzvan, around 700 people, are killed by the Turks.


November 4- 3,800 killed in the vilayet of Kharput by the Turks.


November 10 -Systematic Turkish army attacks on Van take place. The city of Van, in the vilayet of Van, is attacked by the Turkish Hamidie forces. Forced conversions to Islam in Kharput, vilayet of Kharput.


November 11 Turkish army attacks the town of Balu, in the vilayet of Kharput. It results in 1680 Armenian deaths. Turkey proclaims a holy war (Djihad).


November 12 -Turks kill 1,500 Armenians in the vilayet of Sivas, and an equal number in Gurun.


November 15-17- Armies of Sultan destroy Aintab in the vilayet of Aleppo and kill 1500 Armenians.


November 18 – Massacres in Marash, vilayet of Aleppo. 1,000 Armenians are killed.


November 18-20 – 160 villages around the city of Van are robbed and pillaged.


November 28 -In Zklus, 200 Armenians are killed; in Amasia, 100; and in Aleppo, 1000.


December – Armenians of the villages of Norduz, Hayots Dzor, Gavash and Karchevan in the vilayet of Bitlis are set upon by fire and sword. 100 villages are destroyed. On December 28 in the town of Ourfa (Yedesia), 8000 Armenians are slaughtered. 100 villages around Mush, vilayet of Bitlis, are destroyed.


December 28 – A battalion of Turkish-led Hamidie forces, proceeding from Aleppo, encircles the town of Urfa. Massacres on the following day kill 8,000 Armenians. This is confirmed by the above-mentioned report of the British consul, Fitzmaurice, dated March 16, 1896, as well as by the French consul.

Global Estimates  -Most of the figures mentioned through 1895 come to a total of 150,000 to 300,000 dead, to which must be added some 150,000 forced conversions and some 100,000 emigrants forced to flee. The report written by the agents of the European Powers estimate 28,000 killed just in the localities where representatives of foreign nations were present.


June 8-15 – The population of Van and nearby villages is destroyed. The major Armenian population of Sgherdi is decimated and survivors are forcibly converted to Islam. In 40 villages of Khizan, 400 people, and in 20 villages of Mamrzank 160 people are slain, and the others are converted to Islam forcibly. All Armenian villages of Shatakh are devastated and turned to ruins. 11 villages of Gyumushkhane are destroyed and most of their population slain.


Middle of June Turks break their vow and near St. Bartholemew Church, attack Armenians in Van seeking to defend themselves, murdering 1500 people. The survivors flee to Persia.


August 26- A group of Armenian militants of the Dashnak Party occupies the Ottoman Bank in Constantinople in order to gain the attention of foreign powers to the oppression of the Armenians. Achieving their purpose, they leave the bank in the evening and are picked up by boat and taken to France. Much attention is aroused in the Western capitals. However, this action results in a massacre in Constantinople, on August 27, killing approximately 7,000 Armenian victims.


August 28 – Representatives of the Great Powers send a telegram of protest to the Ottoman authorities.


September 2  Armenian population of Agn is destroyed. Half the houses in the city are burned. Joint verbal note of protest issued by the Great Powers, accusing the Sublime Porte directly.


September 3 – In the city of Mush and its villages, 250 Armenians are killed by the Turks.


November 10 -In Agn’s Binkaya village, 250 Armenians are killed. Of the 250 houses there, only 12 houses remain standing.


300,000 Armenians become the victims of the carnages inflicted by the Turks. In addition, almost as many flee the country.


August-  Mothers and children are cut down by sword in Sassun’s Spaghanak villages by sudden attacks late at night.


May -7500  Armenians are slain in Sassun by the Turks.


April 14- Violent outbreaks in Adana (in Cilicia) and in near-by towns, in an attempted counter-revolution by Turks supporting the Sultan. They are soon squelched.


July – Military coup in Salonica by the Young Turk movement (the Union and Progress Party). There begins a brief period of collaboration among Turks, Armenians and other minorities. The subsequent massacres in Adana do not shake this new-found cooperation.


July 24- The Ottoman Constitution is proclaimed.


April 15-25 – 30,000 Armenians are slaughtered in Adana, Tarsus and other towns of Cilicia. The Turkish army bears direct responsibility, but the Armenian community is willing to consider it as an isolated incident, and to continue to trust the Young Turks until further events prove otherwise.


January 29- In Turkey, the triumvirate of Enver, Talaat and Jemal Pasha heads the government.


February 8-  Under the combined influence of Russia and Great Britain, the Turkish authorities sign the Armenian Reform Project and agree to take certain measures in favor of the Armenian population.The Dutch, Westemeck, and the Norwegian, Hoft, are appointed as General Inspectors of the Armenian provinces, but they are rendered ineffective. The promised measures are not implemented.

1914- beginning of 1915

The Armenian Patriarchate in Constantinople estimates the Armenian population in Turkey at 2,100,000. World War I begins July 1914. Loyally, the Armenians participate in the war effort. Mobilization of the entire population, including Armenians, is decreed and the Armenians of Turkey take part in the war on the Caucasian and Western fronts. Immediately preceding the war, the Armenian population is neutral because a number of Armenians in Russia is mobilized on the Russian side, and a natural desire to avoid a fratricidal war. Some Armenian presence in the Russian Army will become an argument used by the Turkish authorities in their attempt to justify the measures they took later to destroy the Armenian people.


January-  Enver is disastrously defeated in Sarikamish at the hands of Russian troops, marking a failure of his Pan-Turanian plans. The Turkish authorities decree the demobilization and disarmament of the Armenians. The Armenians are grouped into small work battalions used for garbage details and similar tasks. The Armenian soldiers in the Turkish army, under the pretext of work details, are marched and killed in cold blood or used for target practice.


January 13-  A.F. Kerensky, a member of the National Council of Russia and later briefly to be the leader of Russia, in a report, describes the astounding plight of Armenian refugees. He declares that when the Turkish attacks on Russian territory began, rivers of Armenian refugees stretched to the North… “That was not an escape, it was the great demise of a whole nation”.


February 13 -Two Armenian deputies of the Ottoman Assembly submit a note concerning the massacres and executions of several such battalions.


February 26- War Minister Enver convenes 75 top ranking Ittihadists. This secret meeting finalizes the details of the plan to carry out a holocaust of the Armenians. Evidence indicates that the decision to carry out the Holocaust was made some years earlier.


April 8       – The process of removing the Armenian population of Zeitun commences. Taking advantage of the defense staged by a group of young Armenians, the Turkish army invades Zeitun, with the assistance of local Turks, to re-establish control. The mass deportation and massacres of Armenian inhabitants of the entire region is immediately organized. This mountainous region had always preserved a quasi-autonomy.


April 15 – Talaat, Enver and Nazem send a secret order to the local governments for the removal and extermination of Armenians in Turkey.


April 15-18-  While the Armenian population of Van is fleeing to Russia because of the evacuation of the Russian army, the Turkish forces attack villages of the vilayet. They destroy 80 villages and slay 24,000 Armenians in the vilayet and city of Van. The Turks accuse the Armenians of collaboration with the Russian troops.


April 20 – At the news of the massacres, the mostly Armenian population of Van takes to the barricades. The Turkish authorities will also use this incident on the Caucasian front and the resistance of the Armenians as a pretext to justify the measures of deportation (and massacre) they are about to inflict.


April 20- May 19 – The remaining Armenians of Van try to defend themselves from the overwhelming Turkish forces.


April 24 800 – Armenian leaders, writers and intellectuals are arrested in Constantinople and murdered. The barbaric Armenian holocaust begins. This is a most important date for all Armenians today. It represents the date for commemorating the Armenian Holocaust each year throughout the world.


April 27-30 – The forced removal and deportation of Dyurt Yol’s Armenian population begins.


May 15 -Turkish forces begin the process of removal and deportation of the Armenian population from villages in the vilayet of Erzerum.


May 16- Law of May 16, 1915 is enacted with “instructions pertaining to property and real estate abandoned by the deported Armenians, consequences of the war and unusual political circumstances”. This law provides for the installation of Turkish refugees in the homes and on the lands belonging to the Armenians.


May 24- The governments of England, France and Russia jointly warn the Turkish government publicly that “They will hold personally responsible… all members of the Ottoman government and those of their agents who are implicated in such massacres”. This is the first time in the international arena three large countries publicly characterize the Turkish actions against Armenians as crimes against “humanity and civilization” for which “personal responsibility is laid on every member of the Turkish government who participated in the carnages”. The communique of the Allied Powers of the Entente, published by the Havas news agency, accuses the Ottoman Turkish government directly for the massacres against the Armenian population.


May 27- The law of May 27, 1915 is enacted concerning the “displacement of suspected persons.” This law empowers army officers to relocate populations upon the simple suspicion of treason or for military reasons.


June 1       – 12,000 Armenian soldiers in the Turkish army are massacred in Balu, vilayet of Diarbekir.


June 10- A supplementary law is enacted regarding reporting property of deportees. See entry under September 26 as to supplementary law adopted September 26, 1915.


June 12 – July 3 Turkish armies slay or remove Armenians of Shapin Garahisar, who tried to defend themselves.


June 15-  21 leaders of the Hnchukyan Party are hanged publicly in Constantinople.


June 24- Massacres and deportations of the inhabitants of Shabin Karahissar begin.


June 25- The removal and deportation of the Armenians of the city of Sivas begin.


June 26- The removal of the Armenian population of Kharput and Trebizond vilayets are commenced by the Turkish army. Photocopy of the original deportation order (written in old Turkish with Arabic characters) is to be found in the Archives of the United States State Department in Washington, DC.


June 27- Mass removals and deportations of Armenians begin in Samsun.


July 1-       Assyrians and Armenians are deported from Medzpin (Nisibe), Tel-Ermen (Hill of the Armenians), Bitlis, vilayet of Bitlis, Mardin and surrounding regions.


July 3-       The massacre begins of the Armenian population of Mush, Sassun and Bitlis vilayets begins.


July 10 – The Armenian population of Malatia is deported.


July 13- Self-defense of Musa mountain begins. The heroic band of Armenians is later vividly depicted in the best-selling novel “Forty Days of Musa Dagh” by Franz Werfel.


July 27 -The Armenian population of Cilicia and Antioch is deported.


July 28-The removal of the Armenian population of the Cilician cities, Aintab and Qilise, is carried out. In Great Britain’s House of Lords, in answer to Viscount James Bryce’s question concerning the slaughter of Christians in Armenia, the president of the Military Council, Lord Grew declares that the information received by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shows that the Turkish crimes are increasing both in numbers and in violence. Lord Grew declares that “all those mass carnages and violent removals are engaged under the pretext of forced transmigration”.


July 29- Deportations begin from Aintab and Kilisse, in Cilicia.


July 30- Deportations begin from Suedia, in Cilicia.


August 16- Deportations begin from Marash in Cilicia and Konia in western Asia Minor.


August 10- 19  Removal and deportations begin of Armenians from Smyrna (Nikodemia), Brusa, Bartizak, Adabazar and surrounding areas.


August 19 – Removal and deportation begin of Armenian population of Urfa in Yedesia.


September 15 – Turkey’s Minister of Interior, Talaat Pasha, cables to the Aleppo Prefecture the confirmation of the previously transmitted order for removal of Armenians and their final elimination. The original of this cable is reproduced in the book of A. Andonian “The Memoirs of Naim Bey (The Holocaust of the Armenians by the Turks). With a New Preface by the Armenian Historical Association”, Documentary Series, Vol. I, Great Britain, Reprint 1964, 83 pp. Exhibit No. 3 at the trial of Soghomon Tehlirian, authenticated by the German Court. (At a trial before a Berlin court in 1921, following the assassination of Talaat by Tehlirian, Tehlirian was acquitted by the Court because of the circumstances.)


September 15-  Rashid, Governor of Diarbekir, sends cable to Talaat, the Minister of the Interior, announcing that the number of Armenians “expelled” from Diarbekir has reached 120,000.


September 26 – “Provisional law concerning the property, debts and receivables of persons relocated elsewhere” is adopted. This law provides for the liquidation of debts and receivables of displaced persons (Armenians). A special commission is “charged” with holding the proceeds of sales in escrow. The German Foreign Office summarized this law as compressed to provide “1. All goods of the Armenians are confiscated. 2. The governments will cash in the credits of the deportees and will repay (will not repay) their debts”.


September 30 and October 7- In Bern, Switzerland, at its Central Hall, public meetings are held deploring the ongoing Armenian tragedy.


October -110 famous German and Italian civilians in Switzerland, including scientists, journalists and public figures publish “The Call” both in French and German, in defense of the Armenian people.

Note As in Switzerland, in many other places all over the world, there were many, many public meetings of protest and countless public statements by various heads of state and other officials condemning the Turkish massacres and deportations of the Armenians, threatening the Turks responsible with appropriate punishment and promising justice and territorial and/or monetary restitution for the Armenians. The statements and meetings referred to in this chronology are but a tiny sample.


October 6-  In Great Britain’s House of Lords, Lord James Bryce denounces the Turkish murderous campaign against the Armenians. He declares the time has passed when any harm could be caused by public statements and the more complete the statements, the more good it may bring, because it remains the only chance of preventing these carnages from continuing, if they are not over yet. It is a pity, he says, that his information from several sources indicates that the number of victims is very large. It is considered to be 800,000 as of then. He states that there is no commandment in Islam that can justify such slaughters. He urges every effort be made to send help for the poor, wretched survivors, hundreds of which are dying of starvation and disease. “That is all that we can do now in England and let us do it and do it swiftly”.


October 12-  In Great Britain’s House of Commons, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edward Grey declares “All the information concerning the carnages of Armenians in Turkey became public. Only two feelings can describe it – horror and disturbance.”


November 16 – As the government spokesman for questions from members of the House of Commons, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lord R. Cecil declares that Turkey intended not to punish the Armenian race, but to destroy it. That was the only goal.


November 18 – In Paris at the “American Club”, a public meeting urges help to alleviate the Armenian suffering.


December 12 – Talaat, Minister of the Interior, sends a telegram to the Prefecture of Aleppo. He states that in view of the rather compassionate attitude of certain valis with respect to orphans, the order is given that the orphans be sent away with the caravans, with the exception of the very young ones unable to remember the atrocities. The original cable is reproduced in said Andonian’s book “The Memoirs of Naim Bey (The Holocaust of the Armenians by the Turks)”.


January 11 – In Germany’s Reichstag, deputy Karl Libknecht, an international socialist figure, directs a question to the Vice Chancellor, as to whether he is aware that in Turkey, their ally, thousands of Armenian citizens have been removed from their homes and exterminated. He demands that the German government forbid the Turks from further terrifying actions against the remaining Armenian population.


February 9- The United States Senate votes (with the concurrence of  the House of Representatives) to ask the President of the United States of America to set a special day when citizens of this country can help Armenians with financial support, considering that many of them, being in the country that was at war, were forced to leave their houses and belongings without any opportunity to care even for their primal needs, are afflicted with hunger, disease and untold sufferings. President Wilson designates August 21 and August 22 for making contributions for the suffering Armenians.


February 9 – In the Russian Duma, Minister of Foreign Affairs S.D. Sazonov declares “I have mentioned before about the awful sufferings of that wretched race. Under the tacit assent of its ally, Germany, the Turks hoped to bring alive their desire to exterminate the entire Armenian race…”


March 7- Talaat, Minister of the Interior, sends a cable to the Aleppo Prefecture, ordering the extermination of children at military installations.


April 9       -“Homage to Armenia” gathering takes place in Paris’ Sorbonne University, attracting thousands of people. Speaking at that gathering, France’s Minister of Education declares that “For more than a year carnages paint Armenia red in blood and have surpassed other crimes in scale and in violence. Germany can be proud of its horrid deeds”. At the same program, the opening words of the president of the National Council of France, Paul Deshnanel, firmly condemns the slaughter of Armenians at the hands of the Turkish executioners.


July 29 -“France-Armenia” company is formed in Paris, members of which are ministers of the French government, senators, deputies, Georges Clemenceau, writer Anatole France and other dignitaries.


August 19- Decree abolishes the national Armenian constitution of 1863, in violation of Article 61 of the Treaty of Berlin concerning religious freedom.


November 16- In Berlin’s Missionary Union, Doctor Karl Accenfeld sends a statement to the German Chancellor Bettman-Holveg in which he asserts “In neutral countries large accusations are spreading against Germany about not only calmly watching, but also helping to realize the extinction of a whole Christian race”. Note: In the bibliography in this web-site is listed a volume by Dadrian dealing with the German involvement.


January 1 -By a special decree/law the government of Turkey condemns the 1978 Treaty of Berlin and especially Article 61.


March 29- In Stockholm, a large meeting takes place dedicated to repudiation of the mass murder of Armenians. The members of the meeting deplore the insensitivity of Sweden towards Armenians.


November 6- In Great Britain’s House of Commons, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arthur Balfour declares “Do we need to ignore that Armenia should be given back, as respected gentlemen wish to give it back with their formula, under the reign of Turkey. I don’t want to ruin the Turkish community – consisting of Turks, in Turkish fitting style, commanding the Turks. No, our constant goal is the emancipation of non-Turks from Turkish governance. What is imperialistic in wishing to see Poland independent, Armenia liberated from Turks, Alsace Lorraine rejoined to France, to see Italy having its own population, language, area and civilization”.


December 4 -Speaking in the Congress of the United States, President Wilson states “We hope to provide the right and opportunity for people living in the Turkish Empire to make their lives safe and their fate secure from aggression and injustice, orders of foreign courts and parties.


January 6- In the name of the “Germano – Armenian community”, Paul Rorbach, Edward Kir and Martin Rade urge the government of Germany to promote autonomy for Armenia.


January 8 -President Wilson’s Declaration of Fourteen Points is published. The 12th Point extends promise to the Armenians of security of life and an unmolested opportunity for autonomous development.


March- Treaty of Brest-Litovsk is signed between Russia and Turkey after Russia’s withdrawal brought about by the Russian Revolution. Turkish invasion of Russian Armenia causes more killings of Armenians including those fleeing from Turkish Armenia. Fighting continues on the Caucasian front involving Armenian units.


Turkey has over 680 German firms on terrorism black list: security source

July 21, 2017


BERLIN (Reuters) – Turkey has provided German authorities with a list of over 680 German firms it suspects of supporting terrorism, a German security source said on Friday, ten times the number initially reported by German media.

Die Zeit newspaper had reported on Wednesday that the list included large German companies such as Daimler (DAIGn.DE) and BASF AG (BASFn.DE).

But Turkey’s deputy prime minister, Mehmet Simsek, said on Twitter on Thursday that the report was “completely false.”

Reporting by Thorsten Severin; Writing by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Michelle Martin


Empire of Destruction

Precision Warfare? Don’t Make Me Laugh

July 20, 2017

by Tom Engelhardt


You remember. It was supposed to be twenty-first-century war, American-style: precise beyond imagining; smart bombs; drones capable of taking out a carefully identified and tracked human being just about anywhere on Earth; special operations raids so pinpoint-accurate that they would represent a triumph of modern military science.  Everything “networked.”  It was to be a glorious dream of limited destruction combined with unlimited power and success.  In reality, it would prove to be a nightmare of the first order.

If you want a single word to summarize American war-making in this last decade and a half, I would suggest rubble. It’s been a painfully apt term since September 11, 2001. In addition, to catch the essence of such war in this century, two new words might be useful: rubblize and rubblization. Let me explain what I mean.

In recent weeks, another major city in Iraq has officially been “liberated” (almost) from the militants of the Islamic State.  However, the results of the U.S.-backed Iraqi military campaign to retake Mosul, that country’s second largest city, don’t fit any ordinary definition of triumph or victory.  It began in October 2016 and, at nine months and counting, has been longer than the World War II battle of Stalingrad.  Week after week, in street to street fighting, with U.S. airstrikes repeatedly called in on neighborhoods still filled with terrified Mosulites, unknown but potentially staggering numbers of civilians have died.  More than a million people — yes, you read that figure correctly — were uprooted from their homes and major portions of the Western half of the city they fled, including its ancient historic sections, have been turned into rubble.

This should be the definition of victory as defeat, success as disaster.  It’s also a pattern.  It’s been the essential story of the American war on terror since, in the month after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush loosed American air power on Afghanistan.  That first air campaign began what has increasingly come to look like the full-scale rubblization of significant parts of the Greater Middle East.

By not simply going after the crew who committed those attacks but deciding to take down the Taliban, occupy Afghanistan, and in 2003, invade Iraq, Bush’s administration opened the proverbial can of worms in that vast region. An imperial urge to overthrow Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein, who had once been Washington’s guy in the Middle East only to become its mortal enemy (and who had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11), proved one of the fatal miscalculations of the imperial era.

So, too, did the deeply engrained fantasy of Bush administration officials that they controlled a high-tech, precision military that could project power in ways no other nation on the planet or in history ever had; a military that would be, in the president’s words, “the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known.”  With Iraq occupied and garrisoned (Korea-style) for generations to come, his top officials assumed that they would take down fundamentalist Iran (sound familiar?) and other hostile regimes in the region, creating a Pax Americana there.  (Hence, the particular irony of the present Iranian ascendancy in Iraq.)  In the pursuit of such fantasies of global power, the Bush administration, in effect, punched a devastating hole in the oil heartlands of the Middle East.  In the pungent imagery of Abu Mussa, head of the Arab League at the time, the U.S. chose to drive straight through “the gates of hell.”

Rubblizing the Greater Middle East

In the 15-plus years since 9/11, parts of an expanding swathe of the planet — from Pakistan’s borderlands in South Asia to Libya in North Africa — were catastrophically unsettled. Tiny groups of Islamic terrorists multiplied exponentially into both local and transnational organizations, spreading across the region with the help of American “precision” warfare and the anger it stirred among helpless civilian populations.  States began to totter or fail.  Countries essentially collapsed, loosing a tide of refugees on the world, as year after year, the U.S. military, its Special Operations forces, and the CIA were increasingly deployed in one fashion or another in one country after another.

Though in case after case the results were visibly disastrous, like so many addicts, the three post-9/11 administrations in Washington seemed incapable of drawing the obvious conclusions and instead continued to do more of the same (with modest adjustments of one sort of another).  The results, unsurprisingly enough, were similarly disappointing or disastrous.

Despite the doubts about such a form of global warfare that candidate Trump raised during the 2016 election campaign, the process has only escalated in the first months of his presidency.  Washington, it seems, just can’t help itself in its drive to pursue this version of war in all its grim imprecision to its increasingly imprecise but predictably destructive conclusions.  Worse yet, if the leading military and political figures in Washington have their way, none of this may end in our lifetime.  (In recent years, for example, the Pentagon and those who channel its thoughts have begun speaking of a “generational approach” or a “generational struggle” in Afghanistan.)

If anything, so many years after it was launched, the war on terror shows every sign of continuing to expand and rubble is increasingly the name of the game.  Here’s a very partial tally sheet on the subject:

In addition to Mosul, a number of Iraq’s other major cities and towns — including Ramadi and Fallujah — have also been reduced to rubble. Across the border in Syria, where a brutal civil war has been raging for six years, numerous cities and towns from Homs to parts of Aleppo have essentially been destroyed. Raqqa, the “capital” of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, is now under siege. (American Special Operations forces are already reportedly active inside its breached walls, working with allied Kurdish and Syrian rebel forces.) It, too, will be “liberated” sooner or later — that is to say, destroyed.

As in Mosul, Fallujah, and Ramadi, American planes have been striking ISIS positions in the urban heart of Raqqa and killing civilians, evidently in sizeable numbers, while rubblizing parts of the city.  And such activities have in recent years only been spreading.  In distant Libya, for instance, the city of Sirte is in ruins after a similar struggle involving local forces, American air power, and ISIS militants.  In Yemen, for the last two years the Saudis have been conducting a never-ending air campaign (with American support), significantly aimed at the civilian population; they have, that is, been rubblizing that country, while paving the way for a devastating famine and a horrific cholera epidemic that can’t be checked, given the condition of that impoverished, embattled land.

Only recently, this sort of destruction has spread for the first time beyond the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa. In late May, on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines, local Muslim rebels identified with ISIS took Marawi City. Since they moved in, much of its population of 200,000 has been displaced and almost two months later they still hold parts of the city, while engaged in Mosul-style urban warfare with the Filipino military (backed by U.S. Special Operations advisers). In the process, the area has reportedly suffered Mosul-style rubblization.

In most of these rubblized cities and the regions around them, even when “victory” is declared, worse yet is in sight. In Iraq, for instance, with the “caliphate” of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi now being dismantled, ISIS remains a genuinely threatening guerilla force, the Sunni and Shiite communities (including armed Shiite militias) show little sign of coming together, and in the north of the country the Kurds are threatening to declare an independent state. So fighting of various sorts is essentially guaranteed and the possibility of Iraq turning into a full-scale failed state or several devastated mini-states remains all too real, even as the Trump administration is reportedly pushing Congress for permission to construct and occupy new “temporary” military bases and other facilities in the country (and in neighboring Syria).

Worse yet, across the Greater Middle East, “reconstruction” is basically not even a concept. There’s simply no money for it. Oil prices remain deeply depressed and, from Libya and Yemen to Iraq and Syria, countries are either too poor or too divided to begin the reconstruction of much of anything. Nor — and this is a given — will Donald Trump’s America be launching the war-on-terror equivalent of a Marshall Plan for the region.  And even if it did, the record of the post-9/11 years already shows that the highly militarized American version of “reconstruction” or “nation building” via crony warrior corporations in both Iraq and Afghanistan has been one of the great scams of our time.  (More American taxpayer dollars have been poured into reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan alone than went into the whole of the Marshall Plan and it’s painfully obvious how effective that proved to be.)

Of course, as in Syria’s civil war, Washington is hardly responsible for all the destruction in the region. ISIS itself has been a remarkably destructive and brutal killing machine with its own impressive record of urban rubblization.  And yet most of the destruction in the region was triggered, at least, by the militarized dreams and plans of the Bush administration, by its response to 9/11 (which ended up being something like Osama bin Laden’s dream scenario).  Don’t forget that ISIS’s predecessor, al-Qaeda in Iraq, was a creature of the American invasion and occupation of that country and that ISIS itself was essentially formed in an American military prison camp in that country where its future caliph was confined.

And in case you think any lessons have been learned from all of this, think again.  In the first months of the Trump administration, the U.S. has essentially decided on a new mini-surge of troops and air power in Afghanistan; deployed for the first time the largest non-nuclear weapon in its arsenal there; promised the Saudis more support in their war in Yemen; has increased its air strikes and special operations activities in Somalia; is preparing for a new U.S. military presence in Libya; increased U.S. forces and eased the rules for air strikes in civilian areas of Iraq and elsewhere; and sent U.S. special operators and other personnel in rising numbers into both Iraq and Syria.

No matter the president, the ante only seems to go up when it comes to the “war on terror,” a war of imprecision that has helped uproot record numbers of people on this planet, with the usual predictable results: the further spread of terror groups, the further destabilization of state structures, rising numbers of displaced and dead civilians, and the rubblization of expanding parts of the planet.

While no one would deny the destructive potential of great imperial powers historically, the American empire of destruction may be unique.  At the height of its military strength in these years, it has been utterly incapable of translating that power advantage into anything but rubblization.

Living in the Rubble, a Short History of the Twenty-First Century

Let me speak personally here, since I live in the remarkably protected and peaceful heart of that empire of destruction and in the very city where it all began.  What eternally puzzles me is the inability of those who run that imperial machinery to absorb what’s actually happened since 9/11 and draw any reasonable conclusions from it. After all, so much of what I’ve been describing seems, at this point, dismally predictable.

If anything, the “generational” nature of the war on terror and the way it became a permanent war of terror should by now seem too obvious for discussion.  And yet, whatever he said on the campaign trail, President Trump promptly appointed to key positions the very generals who have long been immersed in fighting America’s wars across the Greater Middle East and are clearly ready to do more of the same.  Why in the world anyone, even those generals, should imagine that such an approach could result in anything more “successful” is beyond me.

In many ways, rubblization has been at the heart of this whole process, starting with the 9/11 moment.  After all, the very point of those attacks was to turn the symbols of American power — the Pentagon (military power); the World Trade Center (financial power); and the Capitol or some other Washington edifice (political power, as the hijacked plane that crashed in a field in Pennsylvania was undoubtedly heading there) — into so much rubble.  In the process, thousands of innocent civilians were slaughtered.

In some ways, much of the rubblization of the Greater Middle East in recent years could be thought of as, however unconsciously, a campaign of vengeance for the horror and insult of the air assaults on that September morning in 2001, which pulverized the tallest towers of my hometown.  Ever since, American war has, in a sense, involved paying Osama bin Laden back in kind, but on a staggering scale.  In Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, a shocking but passing moment for Americans has become everyday life for whole populations and innocents have died in numbers that would add up to so many World Trade Centers piled atop each other.

The origins of TomDispatch, the website I run, also lie in the rubble. I was in New York City on that day. I experienced the shock of the attacks and the smell of those burning buildings.  A friend of mine saw a hijacked plane hitting one of the towers and another biked into the smoke-filled area looking for his daughter.  I went down to the site of the attacks with my own daughter within days and wandered the nearby streets, catching glimpses of those giant shards of destroyed buildings.

In the phrase of that moment, in the wake of 9/11, everything “changed” and, in a sense, indeed it did.  I felt it.  Who didn’t?  I noted the sense of fear rising nationally and the repetitious ceremonies across the country in which Americans hailed themselves as the planet’s most exceptional victims, survivors, and (in the future) victors.  In those post-9/11 weeks, I became increasingly aware of how a growing sense of shock and a desire for vengeance among the populace was freeing Bush administration officials (who had for years been dreaming about making the “lone superpower” omnipotent in a historically unprecedented way) to act more or less as they wished.

As for myself, I was overcome by a sense that the period to follow would be the worst of my life, far worse than the Vietnam era (the last time I had been truly mobilized politically).  And of one thing I was certain: things would not go well. I had an urge to do something, though no idea what.

In early October 2001, the Bush administration unleashed its air power on Afghanistan, a campaign that, in a sense, would never end but simply spread across the Greater Middle East. (By now, the U.S. has launched repeated air strikes in at least seven countries in the region.) At that moment, someone emailed me an article by Tamim Ansary, an Afghan who had been in the U.S. for years but had continued to follow events in his country of birth.

His piece, which appeared at the website Counterpunch, would prove prescient indeed, especially since it had been written in mid-September, just days after 9/11.  At that moment, as Ansary noted, Americans were already threatening — in a phrase adopted from the Vietnam War era — to bomb Afghanistan “back to the Stone Age.”  What purpose, he wondered, could possibly be served by such a bombing campaign since, as he put it, “new bombs would only stir the rubble of earlier bombs”?  As he pointed out, Afghanistan, then largely ruled by the grim Taliban, had essentially been turned into rubble years before in the proxy war the Soviets and Americans fought there until the Red Army limped home in defeat in 1989.  The rubble that was already Afghanistan would only increase in the brutal civil war that followed. And in the years before 2001, little had been rebuilt.  So, as Ansary made clear, the U.S. was about to launch its air power for the first time in the twenty-first century against a country with nothing, a country of ruins and in ruins.

From such an act he predicted disaster. And so it would be. At the time, something about that image of air strikes on rubble stunned me, in part because it felt both horrifying and true, in part because it seemed such an ominous signal of what might lie in our future, and in part because nothing like it could then be found in the mainstream news or in any kind of debate about how to respond to 9/11 (of which there was essentially none). Impulsively, I emailed his piece out with a note of my own to friends and relatives, something I had never done before. That, as it turned out, would be the start of what became an ever-expanding no-name listserv and, a little more than a year later, TomDispatch.

A Plutocracy of the Rubble?

So the first word to fully catch my attention and set me in motion in the post-9/11 era was “rubble.”  It’s sad that, almost 16 years later, Americans are still obsessively afraid for themselves, a fear that has helped fund and build a national security state of staggering dimensions.  On the other hand, remarkably few of us have any sense of the endless 9/11-style experiences our military has so imprecisely delivered to the world. The bombs may be smart, but the acts couldn’t be dumber.

In this country, there is essentially no sense of responsibility for the spread of terrorism, the crumbling of states, the destruction of lives and livelihoods, the tidal flow of refugees, and the rubblization of some of the planet’s great cities.  There’s no reasonable assessment of the true nature and effects of American warfare abroad: its imprecision, its idiocy, its destructiveness.  In this peaceful land, it’s hard to imagine the true impact of the imprecision of war, American-style. Given the way things are going, it’s easy enough, however, to imagine the scenario of Tamim Ansari writ large in the Trump years and those to follow: Americans continuing to bomb the rubble they had such a hand in creating across the Greater Middle East.

And yet distant imperial wars do have a way of coming home, and not just in the form of new surveillance techniques, or drones flying over “the homeland,” or the full-scale militarization of police forces. Without those disastrous, never-ending wars, I suspect that the election of Donald Trump would have been unlikely. And while he will not loose such “precision” warfare on the homeland itself, his project (and that of the congressional Republicans) — from health care to the environment — is visibly aimed at rubblizing American society. If he were capable, he would certainly create a plutocracy of the rubble in a world where ruins are increasingly the norm.


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