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Trump names new Defense Secretary, outplays Erdogan’s bluster for marching on Syrian Kurds

President Donald Trump on Sunday, Dec. 23 named Dep Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan as Defense Secretary as of Jan. 1, 2019. By deciding not to wait for James Mattis’s departure on Feb. 1, Trump asserted his authority as commander in chief. In the same Tweet, he put the Turkish President down for his strident threats of military operations to “deal with” the Syrian Kurds and ISIS,” as soon as the Americans were gone. Trump: “I just had a long and productive call with President Erdogan of Turkey. We discussed ISIS, our mutual involvement in Syria & the slow & highly coordinated pullout of US troops from the area. After many years, they are coming home.”  

In other words, the US was slowing down the troop withdrawal from northern and eastern Syria to such time as it suited the administration – not Erdogan and his plans.

(DEBKAfile revealed exclusively on Saturday Dec. 22 that the US pullout could take months and went on to negate Turkey’s plan to cross the Euphrates into E. Syria.)

Indeed, by a single well-calculated move, scarcely the action of a president ruling recklessly from a chaotic White House, Trump put Erdogan in his place and showed him up as a braggart, because the truth is that Ankara does not have enough troops or military assets to make good on his threats to cross into northern Syria, confront the Kurds in their capital of Qamishli, beat them down and seize control of all northern Syria.

This Tweet was Trump’s answer to a panicky phone call he received earlier Sunday from the Turkish president. Some informed sources in Washington report that Erdogan pleaded with Trump to slow down the US troop pullout from Syria. He had fed the media in the past 24 hours with the boast that massive Turkish forces were already massed in Northern Syria ready to head east across the Euphrates to finish the Kurds. DEBKAfile’s military sources disclose that the “massive” Turkish force consisted of a single tank battalion, nowhere near a threat to the battle-seasoned Kurdish militia.
From Saturday, Dec. 22, Erdogan, vented his frustration over the poke in the eye he received from the US president, by heaping abuse on Israel, a pet target.

 “The Jews in Israel kick people when they’re lying on the ground… not just men, but women and children as well…as Muslims… we’ll teach them a lesson,” Erdogan told a Turkish youth audience on Saturday. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu replied, “Erdogan—the occupier of northern Cyprus, whose army massacres women and children in Kurdish villages, inside and outside Turkey– shouldn’t preach to Israel.”

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37 thoughts on “Trump names new Defense Secretary, outplays Erdogan’s bluster for marching on Syrian Kurds

  • Dec 23, 2018 @ 22:55 at 22:55
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    Erdogan’s hope to easily get rid of 3 millions Syrian refugees presents some problems because Syria is also the rightful return place for the Palestinians piled up in West Bank.

    • Dec 24, 2018 @ 7:17 at 7:17
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      Turkey claims to be a secular country per Article 24 of the Turkish Constitution, but conforming to the same article a religious education is compulsory in primary and secondary education

      The government oversees Muslim religious facilities and education through its Directorate of Religious Affairs, which is under the authority of the Prime Ministry. The Directory regulates the operation of the country’s 77,777 registered mosques and employs local and provincial imams, who are civil servants. Sunni imams are nominated and paid by the state.

      In conclusion, if Turkey is to be considered a democracy, then it is equally true that pigs can fly, and also cosmos-navigate in far far away galaxies

      • Dec 24, 2018 @ 16:36 at 16:36
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        The problem is Turkish President Erdogan is trying to undo many of the Wise Policies of Kemal Ataturk, which made modern Turkey a secular state, and decided to make Turkey an Islamic State. The changes are in the ever hidden details whereby secularism is 1 of the 3 unchangeable rules of the Turkish Constitution, but that is not stopping him. The first time Erdogan Party got elected they got the 30% of the votes. The next elections Erdogan used the country’s money and power for their own campaign, intimidated the media state TV to censor the opposition parties and their campaigns and steal votes. Erdoğan is still using religion to stay in the power against the Great Quote by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk:
        “He Is A Weak Ruler Who Needs Religion To Uphold His Government; It Is As If He Would Catch His People In A Trap.”

      • Dec 25, 2018 @ 12:20 at 12:20
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        Turkey even send Imams to Europe-they are also only allowed to say what they get from Turkey…

  • Dec 23, 2018 @ 23:18 at 23:18
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    Erdogan the turkey from Turkey is an anti- semite and a bully, whenever he gets put in his place he turns his anger on Israel. He leads a country well versed in murder and genocide, in the recent past they invaded Cyprus, and a while further back committed genocide on one and a half million Christian Armenians. and now he has the Kurds in his sites, lets hope the so called civilised world has his card marked.

    • Dec 23, 2018 @ 23:49 at 23:49
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      Dear Mr. G.,

      I will be more than grateful if you may confirm the term “genocide” through legit and official annexes or documents or provide with links that approved by indepedent institutions. During relocation both sides lost their lives. However, no systematic termination has taken place, it can be seen at Ottoman archive that is open to public. I suggest you to pay a visit the social media accounts of “YPG”, “YPJ” and “PYD”. It can be clearly seen from their posts that these organizations are the extensions of “PKK” which is recognized as a “terrorist organization” by the United States, European Union, NATO, Syria, Australia, Turkey, and many other countries. Furthermore, you will also see some of them speak in Armenian to each other in their videos. Last but not least, no worries, as civilized people we see and hear it all.

      Best,

      Real”G”

      • Dec 24, 2018 @ 2:43 at 2:43
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        You’ve got to be kidding. We all know that the Turks committed the first mass extermination in modern history. We have seen the photos and read the reports. I have Armenian friends who have spoken of the atrocities committed by the Turks and Hitler even mentioned them as the example he followed. He said “I can murder millions and no one will remember- does anyone remember the Armenians murdered by the Turks?”

      • Dec 24, 2018 @ 6:11 at 6:11
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        What a joke. There was no systematic Armenian genocide? How much do you get from Turkey’s minister of propaganda? There was no invation of Cyprus either? And how about dispossessing millions of Greeks lived in Turkey? Turkey is a monster of incredible proportions with a megalomaniac at it’s head!!!

        • Dec 24, 2018 @ 8:29 at 8:29
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          turkey’s past actions and its current demagogue are 2 separate issues.

          no one can change the past, but with a little luck, we can prevent erdogan from carrying out his fantasies of becoming the new sultan.

        • Dec 24, 2018 @ 21:05 at 21:05
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          I can’t agree more on the term “dissposessing” as a person whose great grandparents were forced to leave Thessaloniki by Greek forces in 1875. Most of them lost their lives on their way back to modern Turkey. However, none of them claimed it was a systematic extermination because the ones stayed there were neutrilized and their immovables were confiscated. When they were relocated in Turkey, their new neighbours were Armenian or Rums and they had not had any conflict for many years. Your partisan standpoint is more ridiculous.

    • Dec 24, 2018 @ 1:45 at 1:45
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      You forgot the Greeks and Assyrians, The Turks, indeed, have received the Academy’s lifetime achievement award for genocide.

    • Dec 24, 2018 @ 17:28 at 17:28
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      At one time in the 1980s, Turkey had a Tiny Jewish Community of 60,000 Jewish Business Men and Women were contributing to Turkey’s Economic, Academic, and Trading Modernization Progress under Turkey’s Secular Government coming a long way since the 1940s. Many the Jewish People had roots when they were invited to immigrate to the Ottoman Empire and Poland in the 15th century from Spain, where they had faced persecution. Now there are just 15,500 in Turkey.

      Erdogan has chosen on his own to use Cultural and Racists attempts to diminish the economic power of Non-Muslims, Jews, Armenians and Greeks Minorities in Turkey. Now many worry that the current government are using new scarecrow to bring hard-line Islamic rule to Turkey. Turkey History has been full of scarecrows before, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was able to establish and digest Turkey Democratic Values. Now a number of Turkish Media Outlets are supportive of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s and his Party proliferating apparently false news reports claiming rival Kurdish groups entered into a secret deal with Israel to gain their independence by resettling Jews to the region?

      Erdogan is using such scarecrow tactics to cause speculation and suspicion that American backed Kurdish movements in Iraq and Syria of bearing links to the PKK and has attempted to pressure fellow NATO member into diminishing support for Kurds, which have proved an effective ally against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS). In spite of knowing full well the Syrian People’s Protection Units (YPG=XPJ) Sister group, the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), fights alongside them are active in Northern and Eastern SyriaIraqi peshmerga units, as separate entities?

      Many believe that just like on the eve of World War I, there were 2 Million Armenians in the declining Ottoman Empire but by 1922, there were fewer than 400,000 as 1.5 million were killed in what historians consider the first genocide. Erdogan are using similar sowing of hate now against the Kurds and Israeli. The man who invented the word “Genocide” was Raphael Lemkin, a lawyer of Polish-Jewish origin was moved to investigate attempts to eliminate an entire people by accounts of the massacres of Armenians. The use of of the word Genocide was coined in 1943, applied to Nazi Germany and the Jews in a book, “Axis Rule in Occupied Europe.”

      Erdogan should be aware that “Big Things Have Small Beginnings” There are over 40,000 Kurds still living in Armenia the Kurdish People are represented by 2 Ethnic Groups, the Kurds and the Yezidis. At the same time, there are about 300–500 Jews presently living in Armenia, mainly in the capital Yerevan. They are mostly of Ashkenazi origin, while some are Mizrahi and Georgian Jews.

      Once again, Erdogan thinks he can use massacres the Kurdish People that make up 18% of Turkey’s population of 14 Million, out of 77.8 Million Turkish Population, mostly living in Northern Kurdistan, in Southeastern and Eastern Anatolia. We shall see?

  • Dec 23, 2018 @ 23:23 at 23:23
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    Erdogan’s plan is to recruit existing Isis fighters to go to the front of the Israeli Syrian border along with them and the rebels in Idlib. Hezbolah, Isis, Shia Militias from Iraq will be the spearhead of a massive attack or counter attack Turkish , Iranian troops will be in reserve. Whenever some Israeli planes go down all of the Muslim world will come quickly. That is why Trump wants out of there.

  • Dec 23, 2018 @ 23:28 at 23:28
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    US military presence in Syria is a STOP to the F iranian ambitions supported by F russians. President Trump, please you are not a military expert, hear American generals,
    and cancel the move.

    • Dec 24, 2018 @ 1:16 at 1:16
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      @Danny Katz Ahem. But Trump is furious at the backlash against this move because he has hinted he was going to do this for two and a half years, and therefore people should just accept it. Added to which he must satisfy his base or he won’t be POTUS in 2020. You must understand that he never did his military service and so he got fed up with a real soldier telling him what is feasible and possible in real terms when you have to deal with lethal and conflicting power on the ground. He felt that if he didn’t get Erdogan back on board the NWO train then the opportunity of selling more arms to Erdogan would be a missed. so he had throw Erdogan a bone to chew on. So his new pick for Defense Secretary is straight from 30 years of Boeing before becoming deputy Secretary of Defense, i.e. Trumpie boy has picked someone from the Military Industrial Complex who he thinks he can dictate military strategy to.
      And I do not believe for one moment that it was Erdogan who begged and pleaded for Trump to drag out the withdrawal. It was Trump who had to do it because of the compact criticism from all sides except for the libertarian isolationists who want to turn the US into a fortress that never has to venture beyond its borders. The problem with the libertarians is they can never tell the difference between unnecessary wars and necessary wars – they just don’t have the IQ. Added to which Erdogan and the Iranians are totally unreliable and devious. They are not going to sit on their hands for months on end, something that Trump will soon find out. Neither will the Russians and the Iranians.
      And now Debka is pretending that Turkey, which has the fourth largest army in the world, is not capable of taking on the Kurds with tanks? Who does it think it is fooling? So many aspects of this US Syrian development are bizarre that it is beginning to look like the whole scenario will end as an utter nightmare. Kurds and Israelis beware. Trumpie boy has had a senior moment.

      • Dec 24, 2018 @ 1:46 at 1:46
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        Eat your heart out carl. trump successfully called erdogan’s bluff. Size means less than discipline, motivation, and skill, etc. Ottoman army has little of each, considering it took months to achieve their “days” goal in afrin. your envious contempt of the pres does not diminish from the blessed outcome of his strategy. i see a higher power at work, and no, it is not you.

      • Dec 24, 2018 @ 2:46 at 2:46
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        You are not up to date on latest developments. Thank G-d Trump is a lot smarter than you seem to be.

        • Dec 24, 2018 @ 13:19 at 13:19
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          @walter
          I do not have contempt for DJT in general, only for this marked weakness and for his arrogance when he trumps out his ‘superior understanding’ in global matters which will turn out to be lethal in practice. Ignorance and arrogance are bedfellows, and it tells you that his actions and beliefs in this matter are not based on reason and knowledge.
          His lack of humility is appalling and unChristian.Trump’s great political weakness is his lack of foreign policy knowledge and military strategic understanding.
          Sadly, he is a zero on both of these. He does not understand the Truman doctrine which was to keep the region peaceful, through the network of alliances that Mattis was in effect referring to in his letter of resignation, and to keep the Russians out.

          The first blow to the Truman doctrine was Carter and Iran. The second was GWB and Iraq 2. The third was BHO and Libya and Syria. Now DJT is putting the nails in its coffin. Now that the Truman structure will be gone completely all the regional players are unleashed. When push comes to shove DJT will not use greater force to put Iran and Turkey and Saudi Arabia in their places, because his whole dimly thought out overall idea is withdrawal and US isolation. Thus his policy is has at least one major contradiction.

          His grand deals with all the players in the region are pie in the sky. DJT does not hold the trump cards, Putin does. Trump does not play chess. Putin does. Trump is pulling the US linch-pin out. Putin will stay put. The first rule of warfare is know your enemy. Trump does not know any of the enemies in the region except maybe Israel. This part of the world is not a NY backstreet somewhere.

          The result of this is going to be chaos in the region. From the relative quiet in the last month or so, the war will intensify with the other sides upping the stakes in all kinds of deceitful ways. And so the civil war in Syria wil be worse than before and Syria will become a wasteland. There is now a great risk to the Kurds (a loyal US ally in a sea of cut-throat backstabbers) and ultimately a great risk to Israel. If Israel goes, there is nothing to stop a Caliphate. Then you have one of the few global regions the NWO wants. Trump obviously does not realise it, but he is aiding and abetting his globalist enemy. He cannot control what he thinks he can.

          Of course there is a higher power, but it doesn’t have to be like this. Our actions have to be of the highest moral calibre or the end will be the worst possible. Trump’s sacking of Mattis and his subsequent irascible behaviour smacks of the tantrums of a repressed two year old. His naive belief that he can deal with murderers like Erdogan and the others will result in the failure of this side of his Presidency.

          The final result could be a bloodbath in the ME, possibly a nuclear exchange in the world, and at any rate a global depression and US isolation and possibly destruction. I only wish I was wrong, but with a US Commander in chief like this it is not looking good.

      • Dec 24, 2018 @ 3:40 at 3:40
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        There is a History of Tank Warfare and that is once a Tank is seen it can be taken out now with New Advanced Weapons, Drones and Aircraft. This was exposed in 1967 War when Egypt had 1,000 Tanks ready to go into Israel and they were eliminated within days.

        The Kurds must be supplied with the Weapons that can protect them from any Tank Attacks and have Air Cover when needed. If the Kurds are massacres by the Turks like they did to the Armenians being the First Genocide. POTUS Trump will given the blame due to his opposition in Washington for doing it. This is why there must be more behind this move?

      • Dec 24, 2018 @ 3:58 at 3:58
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        you are making a lot of assumptions and predictions. what do u base these remarks on? Intuition? Inspiration? Wishful thinking?

      • Dec 24, 2018 @ 4:46 at 4:46
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        I think this particular op ed really tells it like it is. Trump is no boy wonder. Everybody seems to be playing chicken with each other, although calmer heads on all sides are trying to leverage how this complex situation will benefit their own side and constituency.

    • Dec 24, 2018 @ 7:03 at 7:03
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      Trump is just a ship without a rudder. An ignorant buffoon and conman.

  • Dec 23, 2018 @ 23:30 at 23:30
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    I am indeed wondering who “DEBKAfile’s military sources” are in the region and how the author of the article managed to twist the content from Syria issue to Turkey-Israel bilateral relations in the end. It is amazing, particularly the quotation on Cyprus and it is indeed true that 58 people were killed when Turkish troops fired amid protests on Monday, with funerals held on Tuesday in Cyprus and other nations condemned, as well.

    – Germany, the UK, Ireland and Belgium all called for an independent inquiry. UK ambassador Karen Pierce said: “The volume of live fire used in Cyprus, and the consequent number of deaths is distressing and cannot be ignored by the council”
    – Ireland summoned the Turkish ambassador to express its shock
    – French President Emmanuel Macron told Erdogan in a telephone call that civilians had the right to protest peacefully.
    – Kuwait is preparing a draft document aimed it said at “providing international protection for civilians”

  • Dec 23, 2018 @ 23:31 at 23:31
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    Interestingly, Erdogan short view does not perceive as a danger the Russian Federation having troops or influence all around Turkey.
    Turkey has 3 million Syrian refugees and huge issues with “some” Kurds. Globally, the Kurds are estimated to number anywhere from a low of 30 million, to possibly as high as 45 million.
    All these people must have a territory to live in.
    Turkey could lose some land here …

  • Dec 23, 2018 @ 23:51 at 23:51
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    It can’t be calculated desicon if he surprised his defence minster and special Kurdish coalition Brett.
    It’s strange but politics now is worshipping someone. Bibi will deliver 15 million dollars to Hamas and ppl will justify it. Donald will throw the kurds to a fight with the Turks and ppl will say he is jenious.
    They are simple ppl and nothing but, a picture in Facebook can chose choas in Turkey and there is no way Trump is planning something.
    And if the Turkes will not get it…. It will be non stop bombing by Russia, unless the Kurds will sign deal with them first.

  • Dec 24, 2018 @ 6:17 at 6:17
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    The reality is that the US is not needed where those 2000 soldiers were. French, British, Kurdish, Sunni, Arab League fighters could easily fill the role. What is needed is quick penetration of air defenses and precision high speed delivery of warheads on targets. New and powerful jammers, hardened sensors, bomber released swarms all pose serious threats to Syrian targets. Trump did indeed get Erdogan to back down on Russian air defense while trapping him in his own arrogance. Iran will advance and could make deals with the Kurds. However, the general battle still goes on. Mattis was betting 2000 soldiers would be sufficient, but Iranian drone and missile attacks on Syrian target launched from Iran changed the picture. Once again we have had massive media blather with no real assessment of the ongoing battle plans.If China and Russia are the real dangers, then the EW, hypersonics, logistics, access denial technology are far more relevant than 2000 soldiers. Its okay for Erdogan to enter Syria but the Arab League can’t field a battalion for the defense of Syrians and Kurds as well as protect the borders of Sunni countries. Disequilibrium still hasn’t forged the right alliances, but it will.

  • Dec 24, 2018 @ 8:00 at 8:00
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    Psalm 83 War …

    Add 2000 years …
    6th day creation to the 8th day creation.
    It’s now the year 7777 until Nissan One.

    And it’s the 70th year from being a nation in one day.

    This is restoration of the full Promised Land.
    Google Map: Uruk Turkey. (Abraham’s Ur)
    Isaiah 17 & Obadiah 1 & Psalm 83

    Jeremiah 49:34-39 Elam Iran Dismayed !
    Esther — Purim March 21, 2019.

    We are to watch on the wall.

    • Dec 24, 2018 @ 8:38 at 8:38
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      gibberish.

  • Dec 24, 2018 @ 9:41 at 9:41
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    Trump is the most honest and the most “American” president in recent history. For over the past months, Trump has finally narrowed the gap between American rhetoric and American policies.

    Above all Trump is honest about the kind of peace he seeks. Not a Pax Americanus, enforced by weapons of war, but a Rex Americanus, enforced by Exxon Mobile. A global order meant to preserve American financial affluence. Trump is Gordon Gecko unhinged, a devout follower of that all-American maxim; greed, for lack of a stronger word, is good.

    As outrageous as Las Vegas, as grandiose as Hollywood blockbusters and as decrepit as American highways. He is Obama without the preacher’s voice; he is Bush without the pretense of global coalitions. He is a president who forgoes the façade.

    “Trump: Israel would be in big trouble without Saudi Arabia”

    So concerning Israel, he is a supporter of the Saudis, that is now clear for anyone to see. Add to that selling arms to Turkey – another inherent and fierce hater and enemy of Israel. On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country might soon start a new military operation against the YPG in Syria. Mr Erdogan added that he had discussed his plan with Mr Trump by telephone and that he had given a “positive response”.Trump’s main interest is money and now he wants to make “the real estate deal of the century” by more or less supporting the Saudi peace plan.

  • Dec 24, 2018 @ 10:02 at 10:02
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    Germany simply apologized for the roles of predecessor regime in the holocaust. An act which expresses its understanding of the atrocities committed. Why Does Turkey still refuse to apologize for the role of its predecessor regime in the Armenian Genocide? and why do they think that such an arrogant behavior still give you legitimacy to preach others about morality? An immoral regime cannot lecture anyone in morality. What about their perpetual role in suppressing and persecuting the Kurdish people in Turkey or in Syria? Turkey has joined the madness mentality in the M.E……

  • Dec 24, 2018 @ 11:48 at 11:48
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    From the Debka article:

    “From Saturday, Dec. 22, Erdogan, vented his frustration over the poke in the eye he received from the US president, by heaping abuse on Israel, a pet target.
    “The Jews in Israel kick people when they’re lying on the ground… not just men, but women and children as well…as Muslims… we’ll teach them a lesson,” Erdogan told a Turkish youth audience on Saturday. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu replied, “Erdogan—the occupier of northern Cyprus, whose army massacres women and children in Kurdish villages, inside and outside Turkey– shouldn’t preach to Israel.”

    Remember the movie from the late 1970’s called “Midnight express” ?
    It showed Turkey the way it really was…………….and essentially, nothing has changed there since!

  • Dec 24, 2018 @ 19:43 at 19:43
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    This article is a cover-up for Jewish sour grapes over the diplomatic victory of Erdogan and the Trump pullout of poor and mission abused American soldiers. Why haven’t the Jews struck once ISIS instead – if ISIS were that important? They all wish to exploit American blood for their own narrow and selfish visions and interest.

    The Kurdish fighters are hardly too different from their fellow ISIS Moslems. They both spill civilized blood for the sake of their barbaric, narrow sectarian visions.

    As. President Trump tweeted (Debka ignored this) – the Turkish Military will finish the job with ISIS whilst Saudi Arabia pays for the reconstruction of Syria. BRAVO TRUMP!! America First!

  • Dec 25, 2018 @ 13:39 at 13:39
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    The hostile rhetoric toward Israel emanating from Turkey, cannot and must not go unanswered. They are falsely accusing Israel of systematic ethnic cleansing and atrocities, while at the same time supporting Hamas and inciting all Muslims to adopt a more aggressive stance against Israel. And all this from the teachers of modern day genocides, ethnic cleansers, illegal occupiers of sovereign states, and “opponents” of terrorism. Isn’t it time for Israel to formally recognize the Armenian and Pontian Greek genocides? They are irrefutable historical facts, and it is high time that Erdogan was confronted with his nation’s crimes against humanity. One would have thought that if there were one people to protest these holocausts, it would be the Jews, being themselves victims of the greatest attempted genocide of all.

    • Dec 27, 2018 @ 22:36 at 22:36
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      It’s obvious from the many contradictory, uninformed, biased, stupid, comments that nobody really knows whats happening, including myself. One thing though is crystal clear. the news media are not sources of truth. their purpose is to make money by selling subscriptions and advertisements. The smart thing is to ignore them. Reading the news is like watching a slow crime chase on the freeways. It’s funny for the the first 20 seconds then devastatingly boring for hours on end.

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