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Foreign Affairs

Tensions mounting in Syria, Turkey terrorizing Kurds

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Just because the Syrian Civil War has been won, does not mean that it’s over. The Liberation of Aleppo paired with the Fall of the Islamic State is enough grounds for the Assad regime to clinch victory. While ISIS still troubles the desert, HTS, the latest rebranding of Al-Qaeda holds a dwindling amount of territory in Syria’s northeast. Without a overly significant ISIS presence, the Syrian Arab Army and its allies have focused their attention on HTS territory as well as terrorist held territory in the suburbs of Damascus. HTS, while not officially listed as a foreign terror organization, is the evolved version of the al-Nursa Front which is. This organization may have a more active ally in Turkey. After several months of deescalating, tensions are mounting in Syria.

Turkey has already seized territory in Syria as apart of Operation Euphrates Shield using the unofficial terror organization, the FSA (Free Syrian Army), as a front for doing so. Turkey has also been undergoing operations in North Idlib and West Aleppo, territory held by the HTS. Now Turkey has commenced Operation Olive Branch, a misleading name to put it bluntly. The primary target of Operation Olive Branch is the YPG. The YPG is a Kurdish paramilitary that was a large contributor to dismantling the Islamic State’s presence in the country. They are the primary forces in control of the Afrin region in Syria. On January 19th, Turkey launched Operation Olive branch after mounting forces along the region’s border. What began as bombings and shelling escalated into mini land grabs along Afrin’s border. Turkey has also upped its propaganda game.

If this seems confusing allow this excerpt from TRTWorld to clear things up.

TRTWorld: The strategy behind Operation Olive Branch

Afrin, in northwest Syria bordering Turkey, used to be a city with a population of 80,000. Taking advantage of the chaos caused by the civil war in Syria, the YPG took control of it in 2012. During the years of civil war, since there are no clashes in Afrin, its population increased up to 300,000. And finally, after the evacuation of Aleppo in December 2016, people fled to Afrin, increasing the population to around 750,000. Around 60 percent is Arabs, five percent on the Turkish border in the northwest of the city is Turkmen, and the rest are Kurds. Hundreds of its original residents, who could flee the YPG after 2012, are in Turkey.

Afrin is located between two strategic Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA)-held areas: Azaz and Idlib. The two FSA commanders who talked to TRT World, tell of the geographical importance of Afrin in these words: We need to connect two opposition areas to support each other. But using the road in Turkey along the border from Kilis to Reyhanlı takes five hours. If we drive directly from Azaz to Idlib through Tel Rifat, it would only take less than two hours.

That makes the Tel Rifat front of upmost importance to the operation.

Turkey is trying to win support for its jihadists put shifting the majority Arabs in the Afrin region against the Kurdish forces in control of the region. They are also trying to connect to of their FSA operations in two provinces. Since this operation has been launched, there are two losers: the SAA and the YPG. The SAA is having its territorial integrity violated by the uninvited Turkish forces and the YPG, and by extension Kurds, are the primary target and are at a apparent military disadvantage of the NATO power.

TSK Engaging SAA

Turkish forces have deployed a convoy featuring armored vehicles into Syria to “facilitate a deescalation zone” but is also being escorted by HTS terrorists forces.

Along the way, Russian and Syrian forces have targeted the convoy’s path. Tensions escalated to direct shelling between SAA and TSK. Meanwhile Russia is trying to balance its relationship with the Turkish regime. As of now the SAA and the Turkish controlled area north of Aleppo have held a peaceful border as Turkey just mainly wants to target Kurds. Russia and Syria have deescalated Turkish targeting to the east by taking Kurdish militias under their wing. Turkey has mostly been non-confrontational with pro-Assad forces, but this engagement could destabilize the other Turkish controlled regions in Syria.

US Response

The US has held a very weak response to Turkey’s newest rounds of aggression. President Trump and Ergodan has a phone call on the 24th over the Operation, but little has been done by Americans to combat the latest threat to stability. In fact, YPG fighters are concerned about their continued US support. Turkey could eventually pose a threat to US forces in the country. The US has forces in the Manbij region of Syria which is east of Turkish zone captured during Euphrates Shield. After Turkey is done attacking Kurds in Afrin, they could move east towards Iraq into Manbij. The forces their have stated their right to self defense against any incoming attack which makes the possibility of an intra-NATO skirmish all that more likely.

Takeaway

Kurds have reason to worry as Turkey has a brutal history of exterminating ethnicities they don’t like and a continued success at getting others not to address their atrocities. The Turkish regime is becoming increasingly Islamic and totalitarian. Turkey’s tactics appear to be performing land grabs extending to Iraq, but the implications of its Operation on the Syrian Civil War are more clouded. So whether this is muscle flexing against a Shia power or a more nefarious jihadist mission has yet to be determined. This could destabilize the entire country that has already spent several years in war and was just seeing the light at the end. Before this, the HTS was doomed to lose, paving the way for more formal peace talks. But now they have some new life with Operation Olive Branch.

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Foreign Affairs

Trump went full Globalist First with Syria strikes

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President Trump should redirect aid to Guatemala from nations who voted against the Jerusalem move

Too often we find ourselves in emotive cycles. For instance, mass shootings are used by the anti-gun crowd as a means to motivate a legislative attack on our Second Amendment. Likewise, chemical weapon incidences in Syria are similarly used to create an emotionally based reason to use military action. We are quick to assume that the Assad regime was responsible for the previous high profile uses of chemical weapons in the Syrian Civil War. This started under the Obama administration with his famous “Red Line” blunder in which he declared any use of chemical warfare unacceptable even if against the Al Qaeda affiliates or the JV team, ISIS. Trump, in contrast, followed through on Obama’s blunders, when the cycle repeated itself again.

A little over a year ago there was a chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun, in a province most openly ruled by the rebrandings of Al Qaeda. This incident led to Trump ordering airstrikes on Syria betraying his campaign promise of staying out of Syria. This attack was carried out under false and premature pretenses. This is an instance where the intelligence community says one thing but evidence says another. But before you defend the intelligence community’s infallibility, look back to how they insisted the DNC was hacked despite the lack of evidence, specifically from the server, that a hack took place. And so the Russian Farce Began. Theodore Postol, a professor at MIT and former DoD scientific adviser pointed out the staged nature of the evidence regarding sarin gas attack in 2017. He ultimately showed that the crater and canister that is credited with the chemical weapons rocket was detonated from the ground, not the air. Read more about his findings here. The point is: the emotive response automatically assumes that the Assad regime carried out the attack. There have been many chemical weapons uses in the war, but only about three or four have gotten media notoriety. I don’t deny that the Syrian Arab Army has used chemical weapons ever, but I seriously doubt the nonstrategic use of chemical weapons that occurred in these notorious incidences. Though as described below, this incident had a strategic outcome.

With the most recent incidence, guilt has already been pointed at Assad restarting the cycle. I don’t care to defend Assad in this instance. I do however want to call Trump and his supporters out on their own support of globalism. So let’s assume Assad carried out this attack. Let’s assume Assad gassed Al Qaeda territories a day after launching a new offensive and because he did, the terrorists surrendered. Why should we care?

The easiest reason to dismiss is that striking Assad is beneficial to America’s Middle Eastern strategy. This would imply that there has been a strategy in the Middle East. But even if we soften strategy to “interests” striking Assad is counter to America’s interest. Al Qaeda has lost in Syria and is clinging to certain besieged areas. In the particular area of this incident the group that was beseiged was called the “Army of Islam”. How does weakening the army that has done more to fight Al Qaeda and ISIS than the US in the last decade benefit Americans or their interests? If Hezbollah, a terror organization sponsored and allied with Assad, were alleged to have been responsible, this would be a different story. But instead, we target the one belligerent in the Syrian Civil War that can actually stabilize the region, even if slowly.

You could then claim about civilian deaths which have been a constant theme in this war on all sides. Most recently, this year Turkey has taken to slaughtering Kurds in its land grab of Northern Syria, but Donald Trump doesn’t seem to care about the death toll there. Nor have other brutalities in Syria been enough for Trump or Obama, to act. Assad, along with every belligerent, has killed civilians in this war. Why are these deaths special? News flash they aren’t. A person is a person is a person. A person dies whether being shot, stabbed or gassed. The people who died in the gas attack were no more important than the people who died in gunfire or strategic bombing. Every person has a moral worth that is irrelevant to their cause of death. So this isn’t about civilian deaths. This is about chemical weapons in and of themselves.

So now that we established Trump attacked Syria because of chemical weapons, now lets dive in to why he’s a globalist for it. Trump wanted to send a message that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable. But why is it unacceptable? What makes chemical weapons different than bullets and shells. Why is gas morally reprehensible and incendiary bombs permissible? There is no logical way to construct an argument that chemical weapons are impermissible while nuclear, radiological, and biological aren’t (though biological weapons are difficult if not impossible to control thus having little strategic use.) If we are to accept that weapons of mass destruction are morally wrong to ever use, then it would be inconsistent to not favor disarmament. Furthermore as Americans we would have to admit that the use of atomic bombs was a immoral decision if we do insist that the use of WMDs is morally impermissible.

I refuse to accept these premises and rewrite history in a globalist politically correct way. So why are chemical weapons such a big deal? The short answer is that the UN says they are a big deal. After World War 1, the League of Nations sought to outlaw chemical warfare and war in general. The ladder was ineffective. Though chemical weapons didn’t see as much light in World War 2, more extreme weapons did. Since its founding, the UN has sought to control what weapons a country can have. In addition to chemical weapons, there’s the anti-nuclear proliferation treaty. Article V of the NPT requires disarmament which nuclear nations have thus far refused. Some nuclear nations tolerate this treaty because they don’t want have-nots to get nukes. Others such as Israel, India, and Pakistan recognize that the UN wants to place limitations on their self defense capabilities. UN limitations on chemical weapons are similarly globalist schemes for the UN to encroach on a nation’s sovereignty. Chemical weapon use is wrong according to international law, not in and of themselves. As Ben Shapiro noted:

One of the arguments for intervention in Syria is that if we do nothing to reimpose the Obama red line in Syria, chemical weapons use will become more common. That’s probably true. But it’s also true that if someone attacked Americans with chemical weapons, we would end them. Furthermore, not all chemical weapons are the same: some are indeed weapons of mass destruction, but others are not as dangerous in scope as cluster bombs. Do the 500,000 dead in Syria’s civil war care whether they were killed by Russian cluster bombs or sarin gas?

So when Trump attacked Syria, he wasn’t responding to a threat nor can we really say it was about the people killed. He was upholding the UN’s power which Syria defied. This is where Trump goes full globalist. Never go full globalist. To repeat myself: he had the United State’s military attack another country because of a violation of international law! In the United States, international law has very little power here. This was established in Medellin v Texas. The globalist community cares not about American interests. Do we not remember when the UN condemned America’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital? It was allowed by Congress for decades. The UN would want nothing more than for America to relinquish its power.

Globalist First

All of Trump’s talk of nationalism is really a farce. He had our military act on a globalist cause, not “America First”. Trump may talk tough on tariffs, but globalism isn’t really about economics, its about sovereignty. Being “tough” on China doesn’t benefit America First. Instead these tariffs are now the biggest  threat to our economic security coming out of the Great Recession. Bombing Syria doesn’t benefit America first. It benefits Turkey and their terrorists. It benefits the UN. Trump wasted military resources doing the UN’s bidding instead of making America or its allies safer. Trump upheld UN norms instead of his lawful duties as defined by Congress and the US Constitution.

In an America First foreign policy, we would have seen if the President had gone through America first. Congress. Instead Trump relied on a thumbs up which he got from the globalist community.

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Foreign Affairs

Trump ignores Constitution and his own words by bombing Syria

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After Trump launched a series of airstrikes against Syria without the Constitutionally required authorization from Congress—just as he did a year ago after his “advisor” Ivanka told him to do so—he sent a self-congratulatory tweet to his adoring followers and declared, “Mission Accomplished.”

Despite the unwise reference to the phrase used by George W. Bush when he announced the end of combat operations in Iraq—we’re still there—Trump’s strike on Syria had little in common with Bush’s war because Congress authorized military action against Iraq. In reality, Trump’s actions have more in common with Obama’s war in Libya in that Obama didn’t have Congressional authority either.

Regardless of any perceived moral benefit from last week’s actions, Trump has once again ignored the Constitution in the name of political opportunism—a fact pointed out by a few voices in Congress (Notice the one-two punch by Amash when he nails Paul Ryan along with Trump).

Though motivated more by Trump’s nationalist/populist ideals than they are his unconstitutional actions, his worshipers in the media are also speaking out about the airstrikes against Syria. FOX News Trump Pravda hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham slammed the Syrian attacks as inconsistent with promises made during Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Michael Savage tweeted that warmongers had hijacked the country.

And Trump sycophant Ann Coulter continued to regret her support of Trump by expressing her disagreement with his war against Syria in a series of retweets from conservatives and other voices like those below:

Proof of Trump’s double-mindedness regarding Syria was also documented by DailyCaller.com in an article listing numerous past tweets by Trump opposing military action in Syria when Obama was president. Here are just a few:

Trump’s narcissism and Constitutional ignorance are not only a threat to liberty here at home, but they’re now a threat to Americans and others around a destabilized world—a world that grows more destabilized and dangerous with every tweet he sends.


Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

 

David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is nationally syndicated with Salem Radio Network and can be heard on stations across America.

Follow the Strident Conservative on Twitter and Facebook. Subscribe to receive podcasts of radio commentaries: iTunes | Stitcher | Tune In | RSS

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Foreign Affairs

Could Trump’s trade war lead to a real war in Korea?

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When Donald Trump issued his in-name-only tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, he immediately alienated many of America’s strongest allies due to fears of a new trade war. Unfortunately, as we are seeing in Japan and South Korea, these fears are beginning to materialize.

As the South Korean government works on getting a get-out-of-tariff-jail-free card like Canada and Mexico received before the tariffs even took effect, steel producers in South Korea have decided to halt steel exports to the US, even though we are their third largest customer.

So, how is Trump responding?

In a speech to donors at a fundraiser in Missouri, Trump informed those in attendance that he is prepared to take action against South Korea over what he sees as an unfair trade relationship.

“We have a very big trade deficit with them, and we protect them … We lose money on trade, and we lose money on the military. We have right now 32,000 soldiers between North and South Korea. Let’s see what happens.”

Yep! Trump is threatening to essentially begin dismantling the US Pacific Command (est. Jan. 1941) if South Korea doesn’t cough up his extortion money.

Besides the fact that Trump could be lying about a trade deficit—he admitted to the donors that he lied to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in their trade discussions—he displayed an incredibly dangerous ignorance with his threat to withdraw US troops.

In remarks before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Adm. Harry Harris, commander of the US Pacific Command, addressed Trump’s threat:

“I believe [regime leader Kim Jong Un] would do a victory dance. I think he’d be a happy man if we abdicated our alliance with South Korea and Japan.”

Trump’s threat is beyond stupid, but it follows a recent announcement that he will be meeting with Kim Jong Un to discuss ways to denuclearize North Korea. Seems to me that the man who brags about being a great dealmaker just surrendered one of his biggest bargaining chips.

What motivation will the North Korean dictator have to disarm if the US abandons the region? Wouldn’t the absence of US troops be an open invitation for Kim Jong Un to invade South Korea? At the very least, it would make an already unstable situation much worse.

Abandoning our allies is familiar territory for The Donald. You may recall that Trump attempted to bully NATO for not paying their “fair share” during his first foreign trip as President less than a year ago.

Legislation has been recently introduced that will return the power to levy tariffs back to Congress. We should hope that it becomes law because not only could it stop a trade war, but in the age of Trump, it could stop a real war in places like Korea.


Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is nationally syndicated with Salem Radio Network and can be heard on stations across America.

Follow the Strident Conservative on Twitter and Facebook. Subscribe to receive podcasts of radio commentaries: iTunes | Stitcher | Tune In | RSS

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