The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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The spread of the coronavirus has meant that much of the other news about developments around the world has disappeared from the normal news cycle. The situation in Syria, which involves not only the government in Damascus but also Turkey, Russia, Iran and a remaining American force in part of the country has been proving... Read More
"Fortress Europe is an illusion." So declares the Financial Times in the closing line of its Saturday editorial: "Europe Cannot Ignore Syrian Migrant Crisis." The FT undertakes to instruct the Old Continent on what its duty is and what its future holds: "The EU will face flows of migrants and asylum seekers across the Mediterranean... Read More
At the start of their discussion marathon in Moscow on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with arguably the most extraordinary diplomatic gambit of the young 21st century. Putin said: “At the beginning of our meeting, I would like to once again express my sincere condolences over the death of... Read More
The media has done a poor job of explaining what's actually taking place in Idlib Province in Syria. That's unfortunate, but the facts are pretty clear. A year and a half ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a deal in Sochi. No one twisted Erdogan's arm to sign the... Read More
The latest installment of the interminable Syria tragedy could be interpreted as Greece barely blocking a European “invasion” by Syrian refugees. The invasion was threatened by President Erdogan even as he refused the EU’s puny “offer you can refuse” bribe of only one billion euros. Well, it’s more complicated than that. What Erdogan is in... Read More
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The Russians feel fighting Turkey is below their dignity, and prefer to keep the fighting in Idlib as a proxy war. The dignity point is important: traditionally, the Russians go to war only with great powers. Smaller military encounters are a matter for a local commander. Even cruel Winter Campaign 1940 against Finland had been... Read More
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The murder of the Iranian hero-martyr General Soleimani created a situation in which a war between Iran and the Axis of Kindness (USA/Israel/KSA) became a real possibility but, at the very last minute, Uncle Shmuel decided that he had no stomach for a full-scale war against Iran. Wise decision. This, however, does not at all... Read More
An explosive situation is developing in Idlib province where the Syrian army is conducting a major offensive that has triggered a harsh response from Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is threatening to attack Syrian forces anywhere in the country if the Syrian government does not stop all military operations in the so-called Idlib "de-escalation... Read More
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The unexpected alliance between Turkey and Libya is a geopolitical earthquake that changes the balance of power in the eastern Mediterranean and across the Middle East. Turkey's audacious move has enraged its rivals in the region and cleared the way for a dramatic escalation in the 9 year-long Libyan civil war. It has also forced... Read More
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The October decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to withdraw American troops from northeastern Syria did not only precipitate the Turkish offensive, codenamed ‘Operation Peace Spring’, into Kurdish-held territory which followed. It also sparked an outcry of hysteria from much of the so-called “left” that has been deeply divided during the 8-year long conflict over... Read More
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The Turkish army did not invade Syria to attack the Kurds. That's simply not true. The actual target of the Turkish operation (Peace Spring) was a group of separatist militants (The YPG) who have waged a bloody 30 year-long terrorist war on the Turkish state killing upwards of 40,000 people. With the assistance of US... Read More
Mass expulsion or the physical extermination of an entire ethnic or religious community – ethnic cleansing – is usually treated by the media in one of two different ways: either it receives maximum publicity as a horror story about which the world should care and do something about, or it is ignored and never reaches... Read More
Compare US pillaging with Russia-Iran-Turkey’s active involvement in a political solution to normalize Syria
What happened in Geneva this Wednesday, in terms of finally bringing peace to Syria, could not be more significant: the first session of the Syrian Constitutional Committee. The Syrian Constitutional Committee sprang out of a resolution passed in January 2018 in Sochi, Russia, by a body called the Syrian National Dialogue Congress. The 150-strong committee... Read More
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Trump cancels the pullout from Syria then flip-flops, threatens war with Turkey and gives money to terrorists
The long nightmare in Syria might finally be coming to an end, but not thanks to the United States and the administration of President Donald Trump. Trump's boast that “this was an outcome created by us, the United States, and nobody else” was as empty as all the other rhetoric coming out of the White... Read More
The sectarian and ethnic civil wars that have ravaged a large part of the Middle East over the past 40 years are coming to an end. Replacing them is a new type of conflict in which protests akin to popular uprisings rock kleptocratic elites that justify their power by claiming to be the defenders of... Read More
Russia-Turkey deal establishes ‘safe zone’ along Turkish border and there will be joint Russia-Turkey military patrols
The negotiations in Sochi were long – over six hours – tense and tough. Two leaders in a room with their interpreters and several senior Turkish ministers close by if advice was needed. The stakes were immense: a road map to pacify northeast Syria, finally. The press conference afterwards was somewhat awkward – riffing on... Read More
Assad and His Commanders
In his recent article "The Road to Damascus: How the Syria War Was Won" Pepe Escobar summarized the outcome of the war in Syria in the following way: This otherwise excellent summary overlooks two out of three members of the "Axis of Kindness", including Israel and the KSA. Of course, later in his analysis Pepe... Read More
What a mess. The imperial cooks in Washington have turned poor Syria into a poison pit of warring factions, with disastrous results for all. Henry Kissinger once quipped that it is more dangerous being America’s ally than its enemy. A good example is how Washington used the Kurds in Syria to fight ISIS and then... Read More
Turkey’s Syrian venture is rapidly turning sour from President Erdogan’s point of view. The Turkish advance into the northeast is moving slowly, but Turkey’s military options are becoming increasingly limited as the Syrian army, backed by Russia, moves into Kurdish-held cities and towns that might have been targeted by Turkish forces. It is unlikely that... Read More
Forget an independent Kurdistan: They may have to do a deal with Damascus on sharing their area with Sunni Arab refugees
In the annals of bombastic Trump tweets, this one is simply astonishing: here we have a President of the United States, on the record, unmasking the whole $8-trillion intervention in the Middle East as an endless war based on a “false premise.” No wonder the Pentagon is not amused. Trump’s tweet bisects the surreal geopolitical... Read More
President Donald Trump could have been more deft and diplomatic in how he engineered that immediate pullout from northeastern Syria. Yet that withdrawal was as inevitable as were its consequences. A thousand U.S. troops and their Kurdish allies were not going to dominate indefinitely the entire northeast quadrant of a country the size of Syria... Read More
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Amid the usual hysterics of ‘impending genocide’ and ‘brutal betrayal’, the long-expected Turkish operation in northeast Syria is rolling, and Turkish troops accompanied by their Syrian rebel allies quickly advance into the former US occupation zone east of the Euphrates River, pushing the Kurdish nationalist militias away from the border. The American soldiers withdrew from... Read More
More war in wretched Syria. Half the population is now refugees; entire cities lie shattered by bombing; bands of crazed gunmen run rampant; US, French, Israeli and Russian warplanes bomb widely. Now, adding to the chaos, President Donald Trump has finally given Turkey, NATO’s second military power, the green light to invade parts of northeastern... Read More
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Exploring Geopolitical Trends in the Region
The Western public has been so poorly served, in recent years, by its supposed world-class media organisations that any semblance of a coherent narrative explaining world events and tying together their deeper, underlying, causes to one another, has almost completely disappeared from the programming of the major networks. More often than not, international affairs are... Read More
In October 1950, as U.S. forces were reeling from hordes of Chinese troops who had intervened massively in the Korean War, a 5,000-man Turkish brigade arrived to halt an onslaught by six Chinese divisions. Said supreme commander Gen. Douglas MacArthur: "The Turks are the hero of heroes. There is no impossibility for the Turkish Brigade."... Read More
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Turkey has just called Donald Trump’s bluff by going ahead with the purchase of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missiles. The outrage in Washington is volcanic. Trump is vowing to rain fire and brimstone sanctions down on the disobedient Turks. The S-400 is Russia’s premier anti-air missile. It is believed highly effective against all forms of aircraft... Read More
Erdogan looks set to buy Russian missile defense system in defiance of US and NATO, tying his cart to China and Russia
Turkey is a key hub in the emerging New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative. Erdogan is a master at selling Turkey as the ultimate East-West crossroads. He has also expressed much interest in joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), led by Russia-China, whose annual summit took place in Bishkek a few days before... Read More
In the last 24 hours, the Trump administration has intensified its attacks on Turkey which has significantly strained relations and increased the prospect of a military confrontation. The present situation is extremely tense and could explode without warning and without the American people having any idea of the dramatic events that preceded the clash. As... Read More
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Here's what most people don't understand about the war in Syria: The combat-phase of the war is largely over. What's left is an arduous mop-up operation in the Idlib demilitarized zone and a potentially explosive standoff between the United States and Turkey in the north. For a while it looked like the US-Turkey confrontation would... Read More
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The Turkish government is not going to let terrorists occupy territory on their southern border any more than the United States would allow al Qaida cells to occupy camps along the US-Mexico border. Turkey simply cannot allow the current arrangement to continue, mainly because these groups (The Syrian Democratic Forces or SDF) pose a clear... Read More
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Let the cover-up begin
The angst over the Jamal Khashoggi murder in the Saudi Arabian Consulate General building in Istanbul is already somewhat fading as the media has moved on in search of fresh meat, recently focusing on the series of attempted mail bombings, and currently on the mass shooting in Pittsburgh. But the affaire Khashoggi is still important... Read More
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The Turkish account of the murder of Khashoggi given by President Erdogan is true, in every detail. Audio and video evidence exists and has been widely shared with world intelligence agencies, including the US, UK, Russia and Germany, and others which have a relationship with Turkey or are seen as influential. That is why, despite... Read More
“People in Idlib hate all those with power over them,” says Ahmad Abu Omar, 33, a history teacher living in the province, the last opposition enclave in the west of Syria. He says that the three million people of Idlib fear a return of government forces, but are almost equally hostile to the armed opposition... Read More
A ceasefire seldom gets a good press. If it succeeds in ending violence or defusing a crisis, the media swiftly becomes bored and loses interest. But if the fighting goes on, then those who have called the ceasefire are condemned as heartless hypocrites who either never intended to bring the killing to an end or... Read More
President Trump recently imposed sanctions on Turkey to protest the Turkish government’s detention of an American pastor. Turkey has responded by increasing tariffs on US exports. The trade war is being blamed for the collapse of Turkey’s currency, the lira. While the sanctions may have played a role, Turkey’s currency crisis is rooted in the... Read More
There has been a dramatic shift in how the United States government carries out its business internationally. Admittedly, Washington has had a tendency to employ force to get what it has wanted ever since 9/11, but it also sometimes recognized that other countries had legitimate interests and accepted there was a place for diplomacy to... Read More
Few phobias run deeper in Europe than the fear and hatred of Turks. For at least six hundred years, Europe was locked in innumerable wars with first Seljuk, then Ottoman Turks. My big St Bernard is a descendant of dogs bred to attack Arab and Turkish raiders coming over Switzerland’s St Bernard Pass. Today, by... Read More
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On the streets, cafes, and carpet shops of Istanbul a very different story than the one presented by western media is developing about the true allegiance of Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. While he continues to play a dangerous international game between Russia and the NATO/ Israeli/ US alliance his biggest future enemy walks the... Read More
Donald Trump has decided to keep US forces in Syria for a limited period, ending speculation about an immediate pull-out fuelled by the president himself. He agreed at a National Security Council meeting that the 2,000 US troops backed by massive airpower should stay in Syria where they support the Kurds in the east of... Read More
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is threatening to follow up the capture of the Kurdish enclave of Afrin by launching an across-the-board military offensive against the remaining Kurdish-held areas in northern Syria and the main Yazidi population centre in the Sinjar region of Iraqi Kurdistan. He claimed that the next target of Turkish troops would... Read More
The fall of Afrin city to the Turkish army and Syrian rebel forces was inevitable, but the situation remains full of dangers. A central question now is whether or not the takeover of this Kurdish enclave will lead to the ethnic cleansing of the Kurdish majority there. The first act of the fighters of the... Read More
Syrian Arab militiamen leading the Turkish attack on Afrin in northern Syria are threatening to massacre its Kurdish population unless they convert to the variant of Islam espoused by Isis and al-Qaeda. In the past such demands have preceded the mass killings of sectarian and ethnic minorities in both Syria and Iraq. In one video... Read More
On a green hillside in Afrin in northern Syria, Arab militiamen allied to the Turkish army which invaded this Kurdish enclave seven weeks ago have captured a group of terrified looking Kurdish civilians. The unformed and heavily armed militiamen are shouting “pigs”, “pimp” and “PKK – Kurdistan Workers Party – pigs” all the while chanting... Read More
In a field beside an abandoned railway station close to the Turkish border in northern Syria, Kurdish fighters are retraining to withstand Turkish air strikes. “We acted like a regular army when we were fighting Daesh [Isis] with US air support,” says Rojva, a veteran Kurdish commander of the People’s Protection Units (YPG). “But now... Read More
Manbij is a good place to understand the jigsaw puzzle of competing fiefdoms into which Syria is now divided and the reasons why the multiple wars that have torn the country apart will go on for several more years. A largely Arab city with a population of 300,000, it is situated east of Aleppo and... Read More
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Events in Syria have recently clearly taken a turn for the worse and there is an increasing amount of evidence that the Russian task force in Syria is being targeted by a systematic campaign of “harassing attacks”. First, there was the (relatively successful) drone and mortar attack on the Russian Aerospace base in Khmeimin. Then... Read More
Turkey is recruiting and retraining Isis fighters to lead its invasion of the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northern Syria, according to an ex-Isis source. “Most of those who are fighting in Afrin against the YPG [People’s Protection Units] are Isis, though Turkey has trained them to change their assault tactics,” said Faraj, a former... Read More
Last summer, I was positioned just across the border from the Syrian town of Afrin around which Turkish and Kurdish and, possibly, American forces, are now poised for a head-on clash. It seems crazy to me that anyone would want to fight over this one-donkey farm town. We were there on a mission to rescue... Read More
Photo by The U.S. Army | CC BY 2.0
US foreign policy in the Middle East is not merely adrift, it is in a state of severe crisis. Even as Turkish tanks and warplanes continue to pound US allies in northwestern Syria (The Kurds), powerbrokers in the White House and the Pentagon are unable to settle on a way forward. The frantic attempts to... Read More
Seldom has an important new US foreign policy crashed in flames so quickly and so spectacularly, achieving the very opposite results to those intended. It was only ten days ago that the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson unexpectedly announced that American military forces would remain in Syria after the defeat of Isis. Their agenda... Read More