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Monday, February 15, 2016

The Complex Mess in the Middle East

Erdogan uses ISIS to suppress Kurds, West stays silent – Turkish MP

Buildings which were damaged during the security operations and clashes between Turkish security forces and Kurdish militants, are pictured in Sur district of Diyarbakir, Turkey February 11, 2016 © Sertac Kayar 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been using ISIS to advance his Middle East policy and suppress the Kurds, and Ankara’s elite maintains vibrant economic ties with the terror group and harbors its militants, a Turkish MP has told Russian media.

“Erdogan uses ISIS [Islamic State/IS, also known as ISIS/ISIL] against the Kurds. He can’t send the Turkish Army directly to Syrian Kurdistan, but he can use ISIS as an instrument against the Kurds. He has a greater Ottoman Empire in his mind, that’s his dream, while ISIS is one of the instruments [to achieve it],” Selma Irmak, a Turkish MP from the Peace and Democracy Party told RIA Novosti on Monday.

There are many signs that the Turkish leadership is aiding Islamic State and benefiting from it, Irmak argued.

“Wounded militants are given medical treatment in Turkey. For ISIS, Turkey is a very important supply channel. They are allowed to pass through the Turkish border, being given IDs [and other documents],” she added.

ISIS has training camps in Turkey,” Irmak stressed, citing other examples of Turkey providing IS with certain capabilities, including the fact that all militants go back and forth into Syria through Turkish territory.

Both the Turkish elite and the terrorist group enjoy economic ties as well," Irmak argued.

“ISIS’ oil is sold via Turkey. All of ISIS’ external [trade] operations are being carried out via Turkey and involve not only oil.” Part of the terrorist group’s criminal business trafficking hostages as well as female slaves of Yazidi and Assyrian minorities, while “the government is, of course, well aware of it,” she added.

More proof could be the absence of any violence between the Turkish military and Islamic State militants.

“ISIS never attacked Turkish positions and claimed no responsibility for terror attacks in Turkey’s cities. There were three large terror attacks [in 2015] in Diyarbakir, Suruc and Ankara. Each attack caused harm to the Kurds and opposition activists supporting them,” the MP noted.

Turkey only intervened when the Kurds retook territory from the IS-held Kurdish city of Tell Abyad in northern Syria.

“Turkish warplanes formally bombarded the ISIS-held territory and conducted two airstrikes to show it fights the Islamic State. And in the meantime, Turkey made 65 airstrikes on Qandil [the PKK stronghold in mountainous northern Iraq].”

According to Irmak, Ankara feels free to take on the Kurds because the West is unwilling to harm its interests in the region and beyond.

“Unfortunately, the international community is indifferent towards these events. Turkey has taken Europe prisoner by using Middle Eastern refugees as an instrument of blackmail. The US keeps silent too, having common interests with Turkey. For instance, the US wants to keep using the Incirlik airbase […] and the Turkish Army is emboldened by such impunity.”

The Canadian angle
Another problem with Turkey's determination to eliminate the Kurds is that the Canadian Government has decided to triple the number of trainers and support personnel working with the Kurds. What happens when a few of them are blown-up by Turkish bombs?

Chechen leader: Saudi-led coalition protects ISIS from full destruction

Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov © Michael Klimentyev / Sputnik

Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Russia’s Chechen Republic, has said that the latest actions by pro-Western military forces in Syria show that in reality they do not intend to fully destroy ISIS and return power to the legitimate government of the country.

Kadyrov issued the comment Monday, soon after news agencies reported about planned military exercises by the Saudi-led anti-terrorist coalition, which includes over 20 Muslim nations. “We cannot exclude the possibility that by these exercises they are preparing themselves for active operations in Syria,” the Chechen leader said in an Instagram post.

“But the [real] goals and tasks of this coalition lie on the surface. They want to prevent the full defeat of the ‘Iblis State’ and the restoration of peace in the region,” Kadyrov said. He used the expression “Iblis State,” or “Devil State,” referring to the Islamic State terrorist group, also known as ISIL and ISIS. Such a replacement has been proposed and promoted by Russian imams, who noted that using the word “Islamic” to describe terrorists was insulting to their faith.

“The plans of the authors of Middle Eastern wars and overthrows do not include the full liquidation of IS and the strengthening of Bashar Assad’s power,” Kadyrov wrote. “But they will have to put up with the fact that the rules of the game are now dictated not by the West and not by the United States.”

He also warned that the simultaneous use of many military contingents and air forces from various nations in one region would inevitably lead to various incidents that could provoke larger conflicts. “Instead of a real struggle against international terrorism we will have some settling of accounts between various members of this so-called coalition,” Kadyrov wrote. “This is an open threat to peace in the region and the world as a whole.”

In November 2015, Kadyrov addressed all Muslims in the world with a call to unite and destroy IS, adding that no one has the right to remain neutral after the atrocities committed by the extremists. In the same address, he reiterated his point that the current Middle East crisis was masterminded by the West. “Special services from the US and other Western states have cheaply bought the leaders of terrorist groups and ordered them to constantly shed Muslim blood, destroy stable countries and blacken the reputation of Islam,” he wrote.

Of course, Kadyrov, being a Muslim would blame the west for the atrocities of Islam even though such atrocities have been committed in over 600 wars in the 1400 years of Islam's sorry existence.
But he is right in at least two areas: "pro-Western military forces in Syria show that in reality they do not intend to fully destroy ISIS and return power to the legitimate government of the country." If the west wanted ISIS gone it would have been gone a long time ago.

The other area he is right about is that special forces, and/or special interests from the west are most likely complicit in the mess over there. 

In 2014, Kadyrov vowed to destroy IS after the group threatened to attack Russia. He also said that he had repeatedly asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to send Chechen infantry and himself to Syria to take part in the anti-terrorist operation in Syria, or any other part of the world.

‘Dogs of war’: Profiteering military contractors must be regulated, warns charity

© Stringer / Reuters
Private firms based in Britain (and the US, for that matter) are reaping huge profits by exploiting conflict and instability around the world in the absence of proper regulation, a British charity has warned.

The remarks were made by War on Want, following the charity’s release of a report examining the devastating impact of private military and security companies (PMSCs) around the globe.

Writing on War on Want's website, the charity's communications chief, Ross Hemingway, called for an “end to the privatization of war.”

“For too long this murky world of ‘guns for hire’ has been allowed to grow unchecked, and in letting the industry regulate itself the UK government has failed,” he said.

“Binding regulation is long overdue. The Swiss government has already banned all PMSCs based in Switzerland from operating in conflict; it is time the UK followed suit.”

Profiting from instability and turmoil 
Hemmingway’s analysis drew from research that scrutinizes the legacy of PMSCs operating in Britain and beyond.

PMSCs first appeared in their current form 15 years ago, after Washington and Westminster declared a “war on terror” and subsequently invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. Although they initially were contracted for security-based services, they are often hired today to provide combat roles in wars in Africa and the Middle East.

Although they profit directly from war and conflict and have been accused of multiple human rights abuses in conflict situations around the world, Hemingway notes that they are currently unregulated. He said that British firms G4S, Aegis Defence Services, Control Risks and Olive Group currently regulate themselves.

Hemmingway argued that this trend is unsurprising, given the revolving door that exists between PMSCs and the military, intelligence and corporate sectors.

He said the biggest market for British PMSCs is in Iraq, where the provision of private security is common. One such firm is G4S, which the charity accuses of profiting from turmoil in Iraq and the oppression of Palestinians.

Violating international law
PMSCs are also increasingly exploiting legal loopholes concerning the use of arms on ships in international waters, according to Hemmingway.

Although Iraq and Afghanistan are longstanding markets for British-based PMSCs, instability in resource-rich parts of northern and western Africa has also been capitalized on by these firms, he says.

Despite the fact that private armed forces on ships can violate domestic and international law, G4S says the securitization of trading ships in the Indian Ocean is a large-scale “commercial opportunity.”

Firms that make use of such floated armories can operate freely, without the threat of investigation, according to War on Want. In August 2013, the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills issued 50 licenses for floating armories operating in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. War on Want’s research reveals that Royal Dutch Shell, BP, ExxonMobil and other energy giants also pay PMSCs to secure their operations.

Speaking earlier this month, War on Want’s executive director John Hilary said private military contractors “ran amok in Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving a trail of human rights abuses in their wake.”

“Now we are seeing the alarming rise of mercenaries fighting on the front line in conflict zones across the world," he said. 

"It is the return of the ‘Dogs of War’.”